Pope Francis cancels appointments due to a slight fever

Vatican City, Feb 25, 2016 / 07:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Thursday Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi SJ announced that after Pope Francis celebrated his usual morning Mass, he canceled the rest of his appointments due to a small fever. The spokesman told journalists Feb. 25 that the cancellations were caused by “a slight indisposition,” which he described as a “slight fever.” He explained that the fever is nothing serious, and that the Pope celebrated Mass at 7a.m. as usual in the Vatican’s St. Martha guesthouse. He stressed that there is nothing to worry about, and that the Pope usually “recovers quickly” when he’s sick. Although it doesn’t happen often, Pope Francis has canceled appointments before due to illnesses such as a cold or a headache. Francis’ fever isn’t surprising given the intense schedule he’s had since he got back from Mexico. He traveled to the country Feb. 12-17 for an apostolic voyage that took him to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Chiapas, Morelia and Ciudad Juarez. The day after he got back the Pope continued his routine activities without missing a beat, meeting with groups and individuals throughout the day. On Saturday he celebrated his second Jubilee general audience of the Holy Year, which takes place once a month on a Saturday, and on Sunday spoke to pilgrims during his weekly Angelus address. Despite today’s fever, Pope Francis is expected to resume his normal schedule tomorrow. Read more

‘Torture works’? Not really, say former interrogators

Washington D.C., Jan 31, 2017 / 06:30 am (CNA).- Countering claims by some politicians that torture is an acceptable part of the fight against terrorism, experts in ethics and interrogation say that the practice is both immoral and ineffective. &ldquo… Read more

Singapore archbishop slams Madonna concert as ‘pseudo-art’

Singapore, Feb 25, 2016 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Singapore’s music fans can do better than Madonna, the local Catholic archbishop has said. The American pop star will stop in Singapore on Sunday Feb. 28 as part of her “Rebel Heart” tour – and Archbishop William Goh says the concert is “causing a stir” among Catholics and other Christians. In response, he urged the faithful to reflect on how Christianity offers a contrasting vision of the arts and the world. “As the people of God, we should subscribe to authentic arts that lead us to God through the appreciation of beauty, harmony, goodness, truth and love, respect, unity and the transcendent,” he said Feb. 20. He encouraged Christians and others not to support “the ‘pseudo arts’ that promote sensuality, rebellion, disrespect, pornography, contamination of the minds of the young, abusive freedom, individualism at the expense of the common good, vulgarity, lies and half-truths.” The music star Madonna is notorious for her exploitation of Christian symbols and iconography, as well as her provocative performances. On her current tour, scantily-clad dancers wear nuns’ habits while dancing on cross-shaped stripper poles. Madonna was barred from performing in Singapore in 1993 after local authorities classified her performance as obscene and “objectionable to many on moral and religious grounds.” Archbishop Goh encouraged the faithful not to support people whose art denigrates and insults religions, while “including anti-Christian and immoral values promoted by the secular world.” André Ahchak head of communications for the Singapore archdiocese, discussed the archbishop’s stand. “Archbishop William Goh has pointed out that Catholics should know that they must not do, say, support or promote anything contrary to their faith or the gospel in every aspect of moral life, lest they betray Christ their Lord,” Ahchak told CNA Feb. 24. Ahchak said that the Catholic Church urges respect for all religions, respects freedom of speech and does not favor prejudice or discrimination against any artist. He explained that the Church instead favors holistic human development. He pointed to the Church’s role as a patron of the arts. He also said several other Christian groups have welcomed Archbishop Goh’s stand against the Madonna concert. “Many Catholics and non-Catholics have written privately to thank and support (the archbishop) for addressing tenets and issues of faith,” Ahchak said. “To those who disagree with the Church’s moral stand, we respect their views since they do not share our faith in Christ and His gospel.” Archbishop Goh’s statement said attendance at Madonna concerts would show a misunderstanding of the faith. “There is no neutrality in faith: one is either for it or against it,” he said. “Being present (at these events) in itself is a counter witness. Obedience to God and His commandments must come before the arts.” The archbishop has made presentations to various ministries and statutory boards of Singapore. He said that given the multi-racial and multi-religious nature of Singapore, “we cannot afford to be overly permissive in favor of artistic expression at the expense of respect for one’s religion, especially in these times of heightened religious sensitivities.” The authorities have assured the archbishop that there are restrictions in place to ensure that content deemed offensive to religious beliefs would not be allowed on stage. Because of the show’s sexual references, the show is restricted to those aged 18 and older. Ahchak said that Archbishop Goh’s preaching and pastoral letters have been consistent in promoting faith formation. In his homily for the 50th anniversary of Singapore independence in 2015, the archbishop emphasized four pillars that have helped Singapore become an advanced country: self-sacrifice; justice and equality; economic development; and moral and spiritual development. That homily pledged the Church’s cooperation with the government “to prevent moral decadence, to strengthen the institution of marriage and to promote justice, peace and harmony.”Photo credit: www.shutterstock.com. Read more

Pope Francis wants more dialogue with Islam. Is Egypt the key?

Vatican City, Feb 25, 2016 / 12:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- For Pope Francis, dialogue with Islam is a core issue. He recently voiced hopes to meet a major Sunni leader: the Grand Imam of al-Azhar Mosque, Ahmed el-Tayeb. “I want to meet him. I know … Read more

Paul VI, nuns and contraception: did Pope Francis get it right?

Vatican City, Feb 24, 2016 / 05:09 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- If Vatican watcher Sandro Magister is right, Pope Francis cited an urban legend about Blessed Paul VI’s alleged approval of contraception for nuns in exceptional wartime circumstances in the Congo. “No one has ever been able to cite a single word of his in this regard. Yet this urban legend has been kept alive for decades, and sure enough even Francis and his spokesman have fallen for it,” Magister wrote Sept. 22 at Settimo Cielo; the text appeared in English at Chiesa two days later. The story dates back to 1961, when St. John XXIII was Pope. Moral theologians considered whether it was licit for nuns facing direct threat of rape to use contraception. The question arose from situations such as a brutal war that was then underway in the Congo. Three theologians discussed the question: Pietro Palazzini, secretary of the Congregation of the Council (which would later be renamed the Congregation for the Clergy); Francesco Hürth, S.J., a professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University; and Ferdinando Lambruschini, a professor at the Pontifical Lateran University. They published their views in an article for a 1961 edition of “Studi Cattolici,” an Opus Dei-run journal. The article was titled “A woman asks: how should violence be rejected? Morality exemplified. A debate.” Each held it was licit for the nuns to use contraception, though they justified this stand for different reasons. However, Bl. Paul VI never addressed this topic specifically. He was elected Bishop of Rome in June 1963. His 1968 encyclical Humanae vitae reaffirmed Catholic opposition to contraception. The encyclical discussed the Christian doctrine of marriage and human life, rejecting contraception “specifically intended to prevent procreation – whether as an end or as a means.” Yet John Allen has maintained that it is Anglo-Saxon folly to look for evidence that Bl. Paul VI permitted nuns threatened with rape to use contraceptives. Noting in a Feb. 20 post at Crux that in 1961 the future Pope was “close to the currents that shaped Studi Cattolici,” he said that “It was assumed the conclusions reflected his thinking. That appeared to be confirmed later when Paul VI made one of the authors, Pietro Palazzini, a cardinal.” “Still, the Vatican never repudiated the 1961 position, so the takeaway was that it remained a legitimate option,” Allen wrote. “To Italians – and remember, Francis’ ancestry is Italian, and he’s very wired into the country’s ecclesiastical scene – that meant Paul VI approved.” Magister’s claims follow a Feb. 18 papal press conference on Francis’ return flight from Mexico to Rome. A journalist had asked the Pope about authorities’ proposals to respond to the Zika virus infection through abortion or “avoiding pregnancy.” The mosquito-borne virus may be linked to birth defects when transmitted from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby. Pope Francis responded by emphatically stating that abortion is “a crime” and an “absolute evil” that cannot be justified. He also spoke on the topic of avoiding pregnancy, citing his predecessor. “Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape,” he said. Seven sentences later, Pope Francis added another comment. Not mentioning contraception specifically, he said that “avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, or in the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.” Holy See spokesman Father Federico Lombardi repeated a version of the story about nuns in the Congo in his own comments about Pope Francis’ interview.   Read more

What Archbishop Shevchuk saw in the meeting of the Pope and Patriarch Kirill

Rome, Italy, Feb 24, 2016 / 06:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- What’s next for ecumenism? After the recent meeting between Pope Francis and the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church has emphasized that “… Read more

Pope: wealth and power are good, but only when used to serve

Vatican City, Feb 24, 2016 / 05:06 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday Pope Francis cautioned that unless wealth and power are put at the service of society, especially the poor, they risk becoming instruments of corruption, private interests and various forms of abuse. “Wealth and power are realities which can be good and useful for the common good, if they are put at the service of the poor and of everyone, with justice and charity,” the Pope said Feb. 24. However, when they are instead lived “as a privilege with egoism and power, as too often happens, they are transformed into instruments of corruption and death.” Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Wednesday general audience, which he dedicated to his ongoing catechesis on mercy in scripture. In his speech, the Pope noted that throughout scripture, stories are told about different prophets, kings and men who are at the top of the ladder, as well as the “arrogance and abuses” they frequently commit. Turning to the story of Naboth in the First Book of Kings, who was killed for refusing to sell his vineyard to the king Ahab, Francis used the passage as the center of his reflections. While the king’s initial offer to purchase the vineyard seemed legitimate and even generous, properties in Israel were considered inalienable, Francis noted, explaining that since Naboth’s land was considered a sacred gift from God to be guarded and preserved, he refused to sell it. Ahab reacted with “bitterness and outrage” and was offended because “he is the king, he is powerful! He feels belittled in his sovereign authority, and frustrated in his ability to satisfy his desire for possession,” the Pope said. He noted that as a result, Ahab’s wife Jezebel, who was involved with cults and had killed several prophets, writes letters in the king’s name to the nobles and elders asking them to accuse Naboth of cursing God and the king, and to stone him. “This is how the story ends: Naboth dies and the king can take possession of his vineyard,” Francis observed, explaining that this isn’t just “a story of the past, it’s a story of today.” It’s the story, he said, “of the powerful who, in order to get more money, exploit the poor, exploit people; it’s the story of the trafficking of persons, of slave labor, of poor people who work in black with the minimum, it’s the story of corrupt politicians who always want more and more and more.” This, Francis continued, where authority is exercised with no justice, mercy or respect for life. “And this is what brings the thirst for power: it becomes greed and wants to possess everything.” Pope Francis pointed to Jesus’ declaration to the apostles in the Gospel of Matthew that “whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave.” He cautioned that when the dimension of service is lost, “power becomes arrogance, domination and abuse. This is exactly what happens in the episode of the vineyard of Naboth.” God, however, is greater than the evil and “dirty games” of humanity, he said, noting that in his mercy the Lord sends the prophet Elijah to help Ahab convert. Although God saw the king’s crime, “he knocks at the heart of Ahab. And the king, placed in front of his sin, understands, humbles himself and asks forgiveness,” the Pope said, adding that it would be nice if the “the powerful exploiters of today” imitated the king’s gesture. However, Francis cautioned that just because the Lord accepted Ahab’s penance, an innocent person was killed, which is an act that will continue to have “inevitable consequences.” “The evil done in fact leaves its painful traces, and the story of mankind bears the wounds,” he said, but noted that God’s act of mercy shows us the main path that must be pursued. Mercy can heal wounds and can change the course of history, the Pope said, and encouraged pilgrims to open their hearts to God’s mercy. He said that divine mercy “is stronger than man’s sin,” and that the power of the true king, Jesus Christ, “is completely different” than that of the world. “His throne is the Cross…His going to everyone, especially the weak, defeats the loneliness and fate of death which sin leads to.” Read more

The painful, resilient history of America’s black Catholics

Washington D.C., Feb 24, 2016 / 03:12 am (CNA).- For Fr. Stephen Thorne, Black History Month is not only a chance to remember the struggles faced by the African-American community throughout the centuries. It’s also an opportunity to learn from … Read more

Why this diocese is holding a 24 hour confess-a-thon

Bismarck, N.D., Feb 24, 2016 / 12:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Priests will be available for confession throughout a special 24-hour period in the Diocese of Bismarck to help celebrate the Year of Mercy. Bismarck’s Cathedral of the Holy Spirit will host “24 Hours of Mercy” on March 4-5. There will be Eucharistic adoration, as well as two priests at the cathedral each hour to hear confessions. The event will begin at 5 p.m. Friday and end at 5 p.m. Saturday. Fr. Nick Schneider, director of the diocese’s Office of Worship, discussed the event. “Confession is a great gift from God, through which he gives us the assurance of mercy,” he said Feb. 8. “It’s a chance to receive this great gift of mercy together with many others over the course of a day.” The event will also allow pilgrims to pass through the cathedral’s Holy Door of Mercy, which provides a plenary indulgence for those who are properly disposed. The event is intended to be part of the Catholic Church’s Year of Mercy, declared by Pope Francis. Sonia Mullally, the Bismarck diocese’s communications director, told CNA the cathedral’s rector, Monsignor Thomas Richter, was named a Missionary of Mercy. These are priests who will have the faculties to absolve sins otherwise reserved to the Holy See. Msgr. Richter was commissioned by Pope Francis in Rome on Ash Wednesday. Mullally pointed to Bishop David Kagan’s Jan. 1 letter discussing the Year of Mercy. “My daily prayer for all of us is that we truly and fully experience this year of God’s bountiful mercy and that we allow Him to transform us and our daily lives so much so that we become His apostles of mercy to others,” the bishop said. “Every day as we hear the news, it becomes so clear that without Him and His mercy darkness advances, but with Him and His mercy light destroys the darkness of war, hatred, jealousy and division.” “Please keep and observe this Jubilee of Mercy; and when this year closes, may all of us continue to beg of Him for His mercy, and show mercy to others,” Bishop Kagan added. Linked to the Year of Mercy, the Bismarck diocese will be hosting its 2016 THIRST Eucharistic Conference Oct. 28-30. The first conference, held in 2013, drew more than 7,000 people. The 2016 conference schedule has not been finalized. As of Jan. 28 speakers include Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem; Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Fr. Scott Traynor, Leah Darrow, and Dr. Ray Guarendi. Read more

Obama’s plan to close Guantanamo echoes call of US bishops

Washington D.C., Feb 23, 2016 / 05:07 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- U.S. President Barack Obama announced on Tuesday his intent to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, a proposal that Catholic bishops have long supported in principle.  The… Read more




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