If Trump builds walls he’s not Christian, Pope Francis says

Aboard the papal plane, Feb 18, 2016 / 10:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- During his inflight news conference en route from Juarez to Rome, Pope Francis responded to recent criticism from Republican U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump, who called the Pope “political” and has threatened to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border. “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel,” the Pope said Feb. 18. Pope Francis was asked to respond to comments from Donald Trump, who had referred to the Pope as a “pawn” for the Mexican government. Trump says that he will build a wall along the border of the United States and Mexico to prevent undocumented immigrants from entering the U.S.   The Pope spoke to journalists on his return flight from Mexico’s Ciudad Juarez to Rome. He paid an official Feb. 12-17 visit to the country, which climaxed with the celebration of Mass at the U.S.-Mexico border Mass in Juarez City. Immigration is a theme close to Francis’ heart. A son of Italian immigrants, the Argentine pontiff frequently speaks out asking world leaders to overcome an attitude of indifference and to welcome incoming migrants with dignity and respect. The Pope also touched on the issue in his speech to U.S. Congress last September, telling lawmakers not to be “fearful of foreigners,” and reminding them of the many positive contributions immigrants make to the life of society. He also pointed out that many of them are descendants of immigrants themselves. However, in a Feb. 11 interview with Fox Business Network, Donald Trump criticized the Pope’s sympathy toward immigrants, as well as his decision to celebrate a Mass at the U.S.-Mexico border. “I think the Pope is a very political person, I think he doesn’t understand the problems our country has,” he said. Trump said the Pope doesn’t understand the “danger” of having an open border with Mexico, and suggested that Mexico’s leaders seduced the Pope into the Mass in order to keep the border the way it is, “because they’re making a fortune and we’re losing.” In addition to his comments about Pope Francis, Trump has repeatedly made offensive remarks toward immigrants, and has threatened not only to build a wall along the border, but to make Mexico pay for it when he does. In a June 28 interview with CNN, Trump suggested that should he be elected, he would build a 2,500km (1,553 ft.) wall along the U.S.-Mexican border because, in his opinion, “a wall is needed in certain areas.” He said that Mexico “makes a fortune” off the U.S., and that a wall “is a tiny little peanut compared to that. I would do something very severe unless they contributed or gave us the money to build the wall.” In his comments to journalists onboard the papal plane, Pope Francis jested, saying he is grateful to have been called a politician, since Aristotle defined the human person as “animal politicus,” meaning, “a political animal.” “At least I am a human person,” he said, adding that as for being a pawn of the Mexican government, he’ll leave that “up to your judgment and that of the people.” While he can’t tell anyone who vote for, Francis said that what he can say is that “this man is not Christian if he has said things like that.” The Pope said that we have to see if Trump really said things the way he did, but that in the meantime he’s willing to give him “the benefit of the doubt.” On Wednesday Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi responded to Trump’s criticism of the Pope’s sympathy toward immigrants, calling the presidential candidate’s remarks “very strange” and suggesting that he get more perspective. “The pope always talks about migration problems all around the world, of the duties we have to solve these problems in a humane manner, of hosting those who come from other countries in search of a life of dignity and peace,” Lombardi said. He noted that Pope Francis frequently makes similar remarks to leaders across Europe, which is something Trump would know “if he came to Europe.” Read more

Visa, Chevron, and Pepsi are exempt from the HHS mandate – but not the Little Sisters

Washington D.C., Feb 18, 2016 / 06:22 am (CNA/EWTN News).- While Catholic nuns are required to obey health care regulations that they say violate the teachings of their faith, large corporations like ExxonMobil are exempt, a new website says. That fac… Read more

This Oklahoma priest was a martyr – and he’ll be beatified this year

Oklahoma City, Okla., Jul 8, 2017 / 04:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- “Padre, they’ve come for you.” Those were some of the last words heard by Father Stanley Francis, spoken by someone staying at the mission in Guatemala who had been led, at gunpoint, to where “Padre Francisco” was sleeping. It was 1:30 in the morning on July 28, 1981, and Guatemala was in the throes of a decades-long civil war. The three ski-masked men who broke into the rectory were Ladinos, the non-indigenous men who had been fighting the native people and rural poor of the country since the 60s. They were known for their kidnappings, and wanted to turn Father Stanley into one of “the missing.” But Father Stanley refused. Not wanting to endanger the others at the parish mission, he struggled but did not call for help. Fifteen minutes and two gunshots later, Father Stanley was dead and the men fled the mission grounds. “How a 46-year-old priest from a small German farming community in Oklahoma came to live and die in this remote, ancient Guatemalan village is a story full of wonder and God’s providence,” writes Maria Scaperlanda in her biography of Father Stanley, “The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run.” The five-foot-ten, red-bearded missionary priest was from the unassuming town of Okarche, Okla., where the parish, school and farm were the pillars of community life. He went to the same school his whole life and lived with his family until he left for seminary. Surrounded by good priests and a vibrant parish life, Stanley felt God calling him to the priesthood from a young age. But despite a strong calling, Stanley would struggle in the seminary, failing several classes and even out of one seminary before graduating from Mount St. Mary’s seminary in Maryland.  Hearing of Stanely’s struggles, Sister Clarissa Tenbrick, his 5th grade teacher, wrote him to offer encouragement, reminding him that the patron Saint of all priests, St. John Vianney, also struggled in seminary. “Both of them were simple men who knew they had a call to the priesthood and then had somebody empower them so that they could complete their studies and be priests,” Scaperlanda told CNA. “And they brought a goodness, simplicity and generous heart with them in (everything) they did.” When Stanley was still in seminary, Pope St. John XXIII asked the Churches of North America to send assistance and establish missions in Central America. Soon after, the diocese of Oklahoma City and the diocese of Tulsa established a mission in Santiago Atitlan in Guatemala, a poor rural community of mostly indigenous people. A few years after he was ordained, Fr. Stanley accepted an invitation to join the mission team, where he would spend the next 13 years of his life. When he arrived to the mission, the Tz’utujil Mayan Indians in the village had no native equivalent for Stanley, so they took to calling him Padre Francisco, after his baptismal name of Francis. The work ethic Fr. Stanley learned on his family’s farm would serve him well in this new place. As a mission priest, he was called on not just to say Mass, but to fix the broken truck or work the fields. He built a farmers’ co-op, a school, a hospital, and the first Catholic radio station, which was used for catechesis to the even more remote villages. “What I think is tremendous is how God doesn’t waste any details,” Scaperlanda said. “That same love for the land and the small town where everybody helps each other, all those things that he learned in Okarche is exactly what he needed when he arrived in Santiago.” The beloved Padre Francisco was also known for his kindness, selflessness, joy and attentive presence among his parishioners. Dozens of pictures show giggling children running after Padre Francisco and grabbing his hands, Scaperlanda said. “It was Father Stanley’s natural disposition to share the labor with them, to break bread with them, and celebrate life with them, that made the community in Guatemala say of Father Stanley, ‘he was our priest,’” she said. Over the years, the violence of the Guatemalan civil war inched closer to the once-peaceful village. Disappearances, killings and danger soon became a part of daily life, but Fr. Stanley remained steadfast and supportive of his people. In 1980-1981, the violence escalated to an almost unbearable point. Fr. Stanley was constantly seeing friends and parishioners abducted or killed. In a letter to Oklahoma Catholics during what would be his last Christmas, the priest relayed to the people back home the dangers his mission parish faced daily. “The reality is that we are in danger. But we don’t know when or what form the government will use to further repress the Church…. Given the situation, I am not ready to leave here just yet… But if it is my destiny that I should give my life here, then so be it…. I don’t want to desert these people, and that is what will be said, even after all these years. There is still a lot of good that can be done under the circumstances.” He ended the letter with what would become his signature quote: “The shepherd cannot run at the first sign of danger. Pray for us that we may be a sign of the love of Christ for our people, that our presence among them will fortify them to endure these sufferings in preparation for the coming of the Kingdom.” In January 1981, in immediate danger and his name on a death list, Fr. Stanley did return to Oklahoma for a few months. But as Easter approached, he wanted to spend Holy Week with his people in Guatemala. “Father Stanley could not abandon his people,” Scaperlanda said. “He made a point of returning to his Guatemala parish in time to celebrate Holy Week with his parishioners that year – and ultimately was killed for living out his Catholic faith.”     Scaperlanda, who has worked on Fr. Stanley’s cause for canonization, said the priest was a great witness and example, particularly for the Year of Mercy. “Father Stanley Rother is truly a saint of mercy,” she said. “He fed the hungry, sheltered the homeless, visited the sick, comforted the afflicted, bore wrongs patiently, buried the dead – all of it.” His life is also a great example of ordinary people being called to do extraordinary things for God, she said. “(W)hat impacted me the most about Father Stanley’s life was how ordinary it was!” she said.   “I love how simply Oklahoma City’s Archbishop Paul Coakley states it: ‘We need the witness of holy men and women who remind us that we are all called to holiness – and that holy men and women come from ordinary places like Okarche, Oklahoma,’” she said.   “Although the details are different, I believe the call is the same – and the challenge is also the same. Like Father Stanley, each of us is called to say ‘yes’ to God with our whole heart. We are all asked to see the Other standing before us as a child of God, to treat them with respect and a generous heart,” she added. “We are called to holiness – whether we live in Okarche, Oklahoma, or New York City or Guatemala City.” In June 2015, the Theological Commission of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints voted to recognize Fr. Stanley Rother as a martyr. Pope Francis recognized his martyrdom in early December 2016, after meeting with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Fr. Rother will be beatified Sept. 23 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City. The Mass will be said by Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and concelebrated by Archbishop Coakley.  An original version of this article was published on CNA Feb. 18, 2016. Read more

California church fights back against mandatory abortion funding

Washington D.C., Feb 18, 2016 / 12:37 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A California church is challenging a state mandate that requires elective abortion coverage in its health insurance plans. The church’s pastor objects that the mandate violates religious… Read more

Pope Francis’ grief at the US-Mexico border

Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Feb 17, 2016 / 04:57 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- At the Mexico-U.S. border town of Ciudad Juarez, Pope Francis told hundreds of thousands of people present to beg God for the “gift of tears” over the suffering of others, especially forced migration. “Let us together ask our God for the gift of conversion, the gift of tears, let us ask him to give us open hearts,” he said during the Feb. 17 Mass at Benito Juárez stadium. “No more death! No more exploitation!” Pope Francis drew on the day’s reading from Jonah in which God calls upon the prophet to go and convert the Ninevites, whose city was “self-destructing as a result of oppression and dishonor, violence and injustice.” “God sent him to testify to what was happening, he sent him to wake up a people intoxicated with themselves,” he said. Jonah’s message to the Ninevites and God’s divine mercy saved the people from self-destruction, proving that “there is always the possibility of change, we still have time to transform what is destroying us as a people, what is demeaning our humanity.” This account presents us with the very mystery of divine mercy, the pontiff said. “Mercy always appeals to the latent and numbed goodness within each person…It seeks and invites us to conversion, it invites us to repentance; it invites us to see the damage being done at every level. Mercy always pierces evil in order to transform it,” he said. Pope Francis traveled to Ciudad Juarez, the Mexican city which borders El Paso, Texas, to celebrate Mass during the final day of his Feb. 12-17 visit to Mexico. Hundreds of thousands of people attended the Mass, which included faithful on both sides of the border. At this place, along with many other border cities between the neighboring countries where thousands of Mexicans and Central Americans try to enter the United States, the story of the Ninevites’ conversion “echoes forcefully among us today” and invites us to conversion, Pope Francis said. “In this Year of Mercy, with you here, I beg for God’s mercy; with you I wish to plead for the gift of tears, the gift of conversion,” he said. “To weep over injustice, to cry over corruption, to cry over oppression,” the Pope said. “They are tears that can sensitize our gaze and our attitude hardened and especially dormant in the face of another’s suffering. They are the tears that can break us, capable of opening us to conversion.” So often the humanitarian crisis of forced migration is measured with numbers and statistics, but in order to open our hearts to conversion, the Holy Father said, “we want to instead measure with names, stories, families.” This journey, filled with “legal vacuums,” always “ensnares” and “destroys the poorest.” The young are especially vulnerable in the flight of forced migration, he said calling them “cannon fodder” who are “persecuted and threatened when they try to flee the spiral of violence and the hell of drugs.” He praised civil and religious organizations dedicated to “accompanying migrants” and “defending life” calling them “signs lighting the way and announcing salvation” just as Jonah did.                      “By their very lives they are prophets of mercy; they are the beating heart and the accompanying feet of the Church that opens its arms and sustains,” Pope Francis said. He closed urging those present to ask for God’s mercy and grace, saying that it’s not too late for conversion. “This time for conversion, this time for salvation, is the time for mercy,” he said. “And so, let us say together in response to the suffering on so many faces: In your compassion and mercy, Lord, have pity on us … cleanse us from our sins and create in us a pure heart, a new spirit.” (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = “//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3”; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); Read more

How Pope Francis proposes to fight drug violence in Mexico

Juarez, Mexico, Feb 17, 2016 / 03:29 pm (CNA).- Speaking to laborers in the Mexican City of Juarez on Wednesday, Pope Francis laid out several key areas of focus in fighting what he called “the cycle of drug trafficking and violence.” “One of the greatest scourges for young people is the lack of opportunities for study and for sustainable and profitable work, which would permit them to work for the future,” the Pope said Feb. 17.   He said that this lack of opportunity frequently leads to situations of poverty, which then becomes “the best breeding ground for the young to fall into the cycle of drug trafficking and violence.” This, the Pope said, “is a luxury which no one can afford; we cannot allow the present and future of Mexico to be alone and abandoned.” Pope Francis met with members of Mexico’s workforce Feb. 17 in Ciudad Juarez on his last day in the country. Juarez borders the U.S. city of El Paso, Texas, and is a major destination for thousands of immigrants from Mexico and Central America who want to enter the United States. The Pope’s visit to Juarez is the last in a series of daytrips he has made to some of the poorest and most violent areas of the country, including the state of Chiapas and the city of Morelia in Mexico’s Michoacán state. His final stop in Juarez has special meaning not only because of the border Mass he will celebrate later in the afternoon, but also because of the sharp distinction between the economic state of the two countries on each side of the border. Before speaking to the workers, Pope Francis listened to the testimonies of both a married couple who work, and high-level businessman. Daisy Flores Gamez and her husband Jesus Varela Arturo Gurrola expressed their concern that economic problems are making it increasingly more difficult to balance family life and true care for one’s children. They also said that, in their opinion, the decline and conflict of values is due to the absence of parents in the home. The Pope also heard from Juan Pablo Castanon, national president of the Business Coordinating Council, who shared his concerns on problems related to poverty and unemployment, and stressed the importance of developing technology, but not allowing it to take the place of people. In his speech to the workers, Pope Francis said that “more needs to be done” in fostering a culture of dialogue, encounter and inclusion. “Unfortunately, the times we live in have imposed the paradigm of economic utility as the starting point for personal relationships,” he said, noting that the current mentality pushes for “the greatest possible profits, immediately and at any cost.” This mentality not only destroys the ethical dimension of business, but also ignores the fact that the best investment to be made is in people – both as individuals and as families, he said. When the flow of people is put “at the service of the flow of capital,” the result is the exploitation of employees “as if they were objects to be used and discarded,” Francis said, quoting his environmental encyclical, Laudato Si. God, he added, “will hold us accountable for the slaves of our day, and we must do everything to make sure that these situations do not happen again.” Francis noted that some people object to the social doctrine of the Church, saying it reduces business to mere charity organizations or “philanthropic institutions.” However, he stressed, the “only aspiration of the Church’s Social Doctrine is to guard over the integrity of people and social structures.” “Every time that, for whatever reason, this integrity is threatened or reduced to a consumer good, the Church’s Social Doctrine will be a prophetic voice to protect us all from being lost in the seductive sea of ambition,” he said. Pope Francis warned that each time a person’s integrity is violated, it begins a process of declination for society as a whole. Therefore, every sector of society is obliged look out for the good of everyone. “We are all in the same boat. We all have to struggle to make sure that work is a humanizing moment which looks to the future,” he said, and asked those present what kind of world and what kind of Mexico they want to leave for their children. “Do you want to leave them the memory of exploitation, of insufficient pay, of workplace harassment? Or do you want to leave them a culture which recalls dignified work, a proper roof, and land to be worked?” He also asked whether they would leave behind air “tainted by corruption, violence, insecurity and suspicion, or, on the contrary, an air capable of generating alternatives, renewal and change?” Francis acknowledged that the issues he raised are not easy to face, but said that leaving the future in the hands of corruption, brutality and inequity would be worse. Even though it’s difficult to bring different sides together to negotiate, more harm is done by refusing to negotiate, the Pope said. He added that while getting along can be hard in an increasingly competitive world, it would be worse if society allows this competition to destroy people. “Profit and capital are not a good over and above the human person; they are at the service of the common good,” he said. When the common good is used only to serve profit and capital, “the only thing gained is known as exclusion.” Francis closed his speech by inviting the citizens of Mexico to build a country “that your children deserve; a Mexico where no one is first, second or fourth; a Mexico where each sees in the other the dignity of a child of God.”   Read more

The moment when Pope Francis got angry in Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico, Feb 17, 2016 / 01:12 pm (CNA).- A visibly upset Pope Francis had some tough words for a rowdy crowd when their shoving caused him to fall on a disabled boy during an event in Mexico.   Following an encounter with young people in the city of Morelia, Pope Francis took time to greet those in the crowd, distributing rosaries as he went. At one point, the jostling of the crowd trying to grab a rosary from the pontiff was so severe that the Pope lost his balance, falling forward on a boy in a wheelchair. “What’s going on with you? Don’t be selfish! Don’t be selfish!” Francis said forcefully as he got back up. Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican Press Office, later told the media that the Pope’s response was natural, given the circumstances.  “It’s a very human reaction, very normal… anyone in a similar situation would have reacted that way, especially after a long day of activities,” he said. The spokesman said that after many meetings where the Pope “was giving everything he had to be kind with everyone, he is pulled down from one side and started to fall – this really is something that can put you on edge.” Fr. Lombardi said the event is ultimately of little importance and noted that the pontiff continued on with his activities with the same enthusiasm and affection as before. Pope Francis was in the city of Morelia on his fourth full day of his Feb. 12-17 visit to Mexico. He also spent time visiting a children’s hospital and prison, praying before the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, and meeting with young people, workers, religious and civil authorities. His final major event will be a Feb. 17 Mass in Ciudad Juárez, a city plagued by drug violence which borders the U.S. city of El Paso, Texas. Read more

The moment when Pope Francis got angry in Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico, Feb 17, 2016 / 01:12 pm (CNA).- A visibly upset Pope Francis had some tough words for a rowdy crowd when their shoving caused him to fall on a disabled boy during an event in Mexico.   Following an encounter with young people in the city of Morelia, Pope Francis took time to greet those in the crowd, distributing rosaries as he went. At one point, the jostling of the crowd trying to grab a rosary from the pontiff was so severe that the Pope lost his balance, falling forward on a boy in a wheelchair. “What’s going on with you? Don’t be selfish! Don’t be selfish!” Francis said forcefully as he got back up. Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican Press Office, later told the media that the Pope’s response was natural, given the circumstances.  “It’s a very human reaction, very normal… anyone in a similar situation would have reacted that way, especially after a long day of activities,” he said. The spokesman said that after many meetings where the Pope “was giving everything he had to be kind with everyone, he is pulled down from one side and started to fall – this really is something that can put you on edge.” Fr. Lombardi said the event is ultimately of little importance and noted that the pontiff continued on with his activities with the same enthusiasm and affection as before. Pope Francis was in the city of Morelia on his fourth full day of his Feb. 12-17 visit to Mexico. He also spent time visiting a children’s hospital and prison, praying before the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, and meeting with young people, workers, religious and civil authorities. His final major event will be a Feb. 17 Mass in Ciudad Juárez, a city plagued by drug violence which borders the U.S. city of El Paso, Texas. Read more

No one is beyond God’s mercy, Pope tells inmates in Juarez

Juarez, Mexico, Feb 17, 2016 / 12:22 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- On his last day in Mexico, Pope Francis traveled to a city notorious for its violence and drug activity, meeting with inmates at a prison to deliver the message that no matter what their regrets… Read more

[WATCH LIVE] Papal visit to Mexico: Meeting with the world of labour

Juarez, Mexico, Feb 17, 2016 / 11:45 am (CNA).- Watch LIVE coverage of Pope Francis’ meeting with the world of labour at the Bachilleres College in the state of Chihuahua at 2:00 pm EST. Read more




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