Bl. Junipero statue in the Capitol is safe – for now

Los Angeles, Calif., Jul 3, 2015 / 12:42 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- An effort to remove the statue of Bl. Junipero Serra from the U.S. Capitol has been set aside for the time being. A statue of Franciscan missionary and saint-to-be Father Junipero Serra has stood in the U.S. Capitol since 1931. However, a proposal in the state legislature would have removed it and replaced it with a statue of astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman to travel to space. According to the L.A. Times, a vote on the proposal was postponed after the senator who authored it noted the timing of Pope Francis’ trip to the United States this fall, where he will formally declare Bl. Serra a saint. The senator has requested that the proposal be re-considered at a later date. State legislatures have the authority to decide which two statues will represent their state at the U.S. Capitol. Bl. Serra’s statue is currently in the National Statuary Hall Collection. His statue cradles a church in his left arm and holds a cross aloft in his outstretched right arm. The website of the Architect of the Capitol, which maintains the statue, describes Fr. Serra as “one of the most important Spanish missionaries in the New World.” Several lawmakers had objected to the proposal to remove the statue given Bl. Serra’s upcoming canonization, questioning the message that it would send. The resolution to remove the statue had already passed the state senate, by a 22-10 vote. Bl. Junipero Serra played a leading role in California history, helping to convert thousands of native Californians to Christianity and teaching them new technologies. The eighteenth century priest founded many of the missions that would go on to become the centers of major California cities. In a May 2 homily, Pope Francis called Bl. Serra “one of the founding fathers of the United States, a saintly example of the Church’s universality, and special patron of the Hispanic people of the country.” The Pope will canonize Father Serra Sept. 23 during his visit to Washington, D.C. The priest was beatified Sept. 25, 1988 by Saint John Paul II. The proposal to remove the statue of the soon-to-be saint was shelved following a heavy campaign to save it. A Spanish-language website, ‘Salvemos a Serra’, or ‘Let’s Save Serra’, had called on Californians to write their legislators in opposition to the resolution. “U.S. Hispanics need your support to maintain the presence of our first saint in the U.S. Capitol,” the website said. ‘Salvemos a Serra’ had also asked supporters of Bl. Serra to sign English- and Spanish-language petitions on the website More than 47,000 did so. The petitions ask legislators to “defend the memory of this Founding Father of California who protected the Native Americans and had a key role in the formation of this country.” The petitions were posted by Alejandro Bermudez, executive director of Catholic News Agency. “In a state that counts Hispanics as its largest ethnic group, California’s elected leaders are about to banish the first and one of the only two Hispanics from statuary hall,” Bermudez said in a May 22 essay at the Latino media website NewsTaco. “To add insult to injury, they plan to go on the record with this just in time to welcome the first Latin American pope in history to the United States,” he added. “It’s quite the insult to the Pope, who will visit the Capitol and canonize Serra during his September visit–making him the first saint to be named by a pope on American soil.” Some activist groups have attacked Bl. Serra as a symbol of European colonialism and have characterized the missions as engaged in the forced labor of Native Americans, sometimes claiming Bl. Serra himself was abusive. Many of Bl. Serra’s defenders vigorously dispute the claims, noting the many natives he helped during his life, and their outpouring of grief at his death.   Read more

Evangelizing evangelicals – why Pope Francis loves to meet with charismatic movements

Vatican City, Jul 3, 2015 / 11:38 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis’ attendance for the second consecutive year at the Catholic charismatic movement’s Renewal with the Spirit convocation shows his attention to charismatic movements as means… Read more

This 95-year-old Catholic couple died in each other’s arms

San Diego, Calif., Jul 3, 2015 / 10:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Few love stories can say that they began at the age of eight. But for Jeanette and Alexander Toczko, they couldn’t have imagined life any other way. What began as a childhood crush later bloomed into a deep, committed love – a love that would last throughout a war, five children, and seventy-five years of marriage. “Their hearts beat as one from as long as I can remember,” said Aimee Toczko-Cushman, one of the couple’s five children, according to the Daily Mail. After meeting his future wife at the age of eight, Alexander Toczko married Jeanette in 1940 while he was enrolled in the U.S. Navy as a telegraph operator. Alexander was a devoted husband to his wife Jeanette, and as Catholics, he fondly carried a snapshot of Jeanette’s First Holy Communion in his wallet. The Toczko’s settled in San Diego, California in 1971 where Alexander and Jeanette worked together, establishing their own fashion photography and advertising firm. Alexander had a passion for golf and sketching, and the couple loved to travel with each other. They raised their five children in the San Diego area, and over the years became the proud grandparents of ten grandchildren. This past June, the couple celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary. Alexander, a WWII veteran, was 95 and Jeanette was 96. The couple’s health had been declining over the months, especially after Alexander had taken a recent fall, breaking his hip. “He was going fast,” their son, Richard Toczko, remembered. Hospice care was brought to Jeanette and Alexander’s home, so that they could share their own bed and stay close to each other in their final moments. Remarkably, the inseparable couple had a dying wish that they often told their children – they both wanted to pass away together, in each other’s arms and in their own bed. Alexander was the first to go on June 17. Once Jeanette had been informed that her husband had died, she said, “See this is what you wanted. You died in my arms and I love you. I love you, wait for me, I’ll be there soon.” Jeanette died only hours after her husband on June 18. “Even the hospice nurse said it was the most incredible thing to see the two of them taking those last breaths together,” Aimee Toczko-Cushman said. “They both entered the pearly gates holding hands,” reflected their son, Richard Toczko. A funeral mass was held for Alexander and Jeanette on June 29, a ceremony which commemorated both their lives and their 75th wedding anniversary. They were buried at the Miramar National Cemetery in San Diego. Read more

A fourth saint for the Little Flower family? Cause for Leonia Martin officially opens

Vatican City, Jul 3, 2015 / 06:26 am (CNA/EWTN News).- With a sister who is a Doctor of the Church and parents set to be canonized in October, Leonia Martin could be the fourth member of her family declared as a saint after her own cause for canonization was recently launched. Yesterday morning, Leonia’s cause was officially opened by Bishop Jean-Claude Boulanger of Bayeux-Lisieux in the chapel of the Visitation Monastery at Caen, France, where Leonia spent the majority of her life and where she died. Mass was celebrated following the cause opening. The intention to open her cause was originally announced January 24, according to French daily La Croix. On April 25, a “recognition” of her body was made – a process which included opening her tomb to check the state of her remains. With the opening of her cause, Leonia has now received the title “Servant of God” and is on the path toward beatification, the step in the sainthood process which precedes canonization. The July 2 step comes at the conclusion of the initial phase of gathering all the historical documents related to her life. The official opening of her cause signals that Bishop Boulanger has obtained the needed nihil obstat, the official approval of the Catholic Church from the moral and doctrinal point of view granted by the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, which as of February was still being waited on. Leonia is the sister of St. Therese of Lisieux and the third daughter of Blessed Louis and Zelia Martin, who are set to be the first couple ever to be canonized at the same ceremony, which will be held Oct. 18 in the Vatican. The event will take place fewer than three weeks after the Oct. 1 feast of their daughter, and doctor of the Church, St. Therese of the Child Jesus. In statements made to CNA in February, Carmelite Father Antonio Sangalli, Leonia’s postulator, said the fact that St. Therese’s “difficult” sister is on the path toward sainthood is a reminder that holiness is call for everyone. “Although she was expelled three times from the convent, she achieved her goal of becoming a religious, which shows that if we persevere, it is possible to do God’s will,” he said. “Leonia’s difficulties were primarily due to her order’s strict rules, which were very difficult to follow in those times. However, this did not lead her to bury the one talent she received and that she used fruitfully to fully live out her vocation.” He noted that even before her cause was opened, Leonia was revered for her holiness and that her crypt at the Monastery of the Visitation in Caen is frequently visited by pilgrims from all over the world. “They come to pray. They ask her for favors and they find spiritual help in her. Their faith is strengthened by the example of this humble sister of the Visitation, and many letters testify to graces received,” the priest said. Leonia, who took the name Sister Francisca-Teresa, also suffered from physical problems as a child. “She did not have the human qualities of her other sisters, but she knew how to abandon herself to God, who calls us all regardless of our qualities. No one is excluded from the call to holiness,” Fr. Sangalli said. Leonia also had a close relationship with St. Therese, and the two often exchanged letters. After her saintly sister died, Leonia decided to try to enter the convent again, following the “little way” traced out by St. Therese, with trust and abandonment to God. Fr. Sangalli said she ultimately was admitted to the convent, which “shows that Therese’s doctrine is not only meant for the Carmelites but for everyone – with the little way, Leonia became a better sister of the Visitation, always remaining in the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales and St. Frances de Chantal, the founders of the Order of the Visitation.” Leonia died June 17, 1941, at the age of 78 in the monastery where she lived. Her tomb has become a refuge for parents concerned about raising their children, who find in her an example and an inspiration.   Read more

Vatican official says ‘it’s time to act’ on protecting the environment

Vatican City, Jul 3, 2015 / 06:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, has expressed his hope that Pope Francis’ recent environmental encyclical will have a strong impact on the United Nations’ three major gatherings this year, and will inspire global powers not only to talk, but to act. The cardinal spoke to CNA July 2, saying he hopes the effect of the encyclical on the U.N. meetings “will be especially concrete in climate change impact.” “We have discussed a lot about the problem of climate change; now it is time to act. I think this is exactly what the Pope is requesting from us, to act and to start to change our lifestyle to preserve our common house which is the earth.” The cardinal answered reporters’ questions before addressing a Vatican conference titled: “People and Planet First: the Imperative to Change Course.”   Taking place in Rome July 2-3, the summit was organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, which prepared a first draft of Francis’ encyclical, alongside the Catholic International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity, a network of 17 Catholic development agencies working together for global justice. The goal of the conference is to use Laudato Si’ to influence several major political gatherings set to happen this year, including key U.N. conferences. Among them are the July 13-16 Addis Ababa meeting on Finance and Development, the U.N. General Assembly to approve Sustainable Development Goals in September, and December’s COP 21 meeting in Paris to agree on a global climate deal. Cardinal Parolin spoke on the importance of Laudato Si’ for the Church and the world specifically in light of 2015’s major political events, but also the impact it will have on the future. He said that while the encyclical will certainly have an effect on this year’s events, “its breadth and depth go well beyond its context in time.” The environment, the earth and the climate “are a common and collective good” which belong to the whole of humanity, and as such are “the responsibility of everyone,” the cardinal observed. He said both the technological and operative basis for promoting a more human and integral progress are “already available or within our reach, and that the international community must seize this great opportunity” to move forward with development. At the heart of this progress lay the key objectives of allowing human dignity to flourish, helping to eradicate poverty, and countering environmental decay, the cardinal continued. He then turned to the national and local sphere of the climate discussion, saying that frequently there are “too many special interests, and economic interests (too) easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected.” Awareness among organizations must be increased, he said, explaining that this is where the Church’s social doctrine comes in as a point of reference on both the dignity of the human person and the promotion of the common good. The cardinal then reiterated what Pope Francis said in his encyclical about the role of the Church in the discussion, saying she “does not presume to settle scientific questions or to replace politics,” but rather brings awareness of the need to “question the meaning and purpose of all human activity.” He said that when we think of what kind of world we want to leave behind, it’s no longer enough to simply express concern for future generations, but there is also a need to see “that what is at stake is our own dignity.” Our responsibility is to be “responsible for the responsibility of the other,” the cardinal stated, adding that our human vocation to be protectors of the earth and the environment “is not something optional.” In his comments to CNA, Cardinal Parolin also spoke about the Pope’s objectives for his July 5-13 trip to the South American nations of Ecuador, Bolivia, and Paraguay. “As in all trips, the Pope goes to meet the Catholic community. This is his ministry as pastor of the universal Church, inserting himself inside the pastoral and catechetical paths that each (local) Church is pursuing,” he said. The cardinal also addressed the concern of those who say the Pope will use the trip to dip into local politics, such as the debate surrounding Bolivia’s access to the sea. Distinguishing between “party goals” and “political goals,” Cardinal Parolin said that for Pope Francis, political interests in his trips are understood in the sense of “the construction of the social and political community.” “On the part of Christians there is truly an action and contribution to help solve problems that they find in that regard,” he said, explaining that the Pope isn’t going to support any specific person, but rather to promote peace, reconciliation, and material and spiritual development.   Read more

CatholicVote says controversial video sparked outpouring of thanks

Chicago, Ill., Jul 2, 2015 / 04:02 pm (CNA).- After last week’s Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, one Catholic group released a short video on tolerance – a clip that’s gotten both fierce criticism and profound thanks from viewers. “The response to our video has been overwhelming. Literally tens of thousands of people are emailing saying: ‘thank you for speaking up for me. I don’t agree with the Supreme Court decision, but I don’t hate anyone,’” said Brian Burch, president of Burch’s organization is a lay-led movement of American Catholics with around 600,000 members in the U.S. The group’s video, titled “Not Alone,” mirrors a gay “coming out” perspective and features six young adults who vocalize their belief that marriage is meant to be between one man and one woman. In response to the “Love Wins” hash tag used after the Supreme Court ruling, CatholicVote created their own hash tag of “Speak Truth With Love.” The six adults interviewed discussed the fear of being treated differently because they do not support gay marriage; and they professed to have gay friends who are wonderful people and are loved. The two-and-a-half minute video, however, was swiftly pounded with profanity-laced comments and aggressive jeers towards those in the video who claim to “love their gay friends” and yet do not support same-sex marriage. The video has over 670,000 views and counting. “Gays deserve dignity and respect, and so do Christians,” Burch said. “We as a country are going to have to expand our definition of tolerance and learn to accept that there is nothing hateful about believing in the uniqueness of male-female marriage, as people have for thousands of years.”Another article on, links to several websites criticizing the video are posted to directly display intolerance that is currently happening in the secular media. Some headlines accused the six adults to be “anti-gay,” while other sources describe the adults as “bigots.”    “Where real hatred and bigotry has occurred, it deserves to be condemned,” Burch said. “LGBT advocates are right to call out people who behave reprehensibly in defense of marriage.” “But likewise, and to be consistent, they should condemn those that are intolerant of anyone that disagrees with the same-sex agenda. Andrew Sullivan, one of the founders of the same-sex marriage movement, has warned his friends against becoming a movement that hates its opponents.” Read more

Pope’s encyclical forges unusual allies in fight for the environment

Rome, Italy, Jul 2, 2015 / 11:48 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican recently added the voice of self-described “secular Jewish feminist” Naomi Klein to their discussion on the climate, signaling a wider collaboration in the push for environmental protection. “A new kind of climate movement is fast emerging” – one based on the “courageous truth” proclaimed in the encyclical that “our current economic system is both fueling the climate crisis and actively preventing us from taking the necessary actions to avert it,” Klein said July 1. She pointed out how the encyclical places attention on the world’s most vulnerable regions, which have often been disregarded by international politics. In her view, current challenges surrounding the environment provide the opportunity to tackle several issues at once, and creating a more stable climate and a fairer economy can be done “at the same time.” “This growing understanding is why you are seeing some surprising and even unlikely alliances. Like, for instance, me at the Vatican.” The Pope’s encyclical “Laudato Si,” meaning “Praise be to You,” was published on June 18. Its name is taken from St. Francis of Assisi’s medieval Italian prayer “Canticle of the Sun,” which praises God through elements of creation like Brother Sun, Sister Moon, and “our sister Mother Earth.” In early 2014, the Vatican announced the Pope’s plans to write on the theme of “human ecology” – a phrase that was previously coined by retired pontiff Benedict XVI. While the 184-page encyclical wades into controversial topics such as climate change, it also argues that it’s not possible to effectively care for the environment without first working to defend human life. A progressive Canadian activist known for her harsh criticism of 21st century capitalism, Klein said that she herself was “surprised” to be invited to speak at the launch of a Vatican environmental summit. Her comments came at the July 1 presentation of a two-day Vatican conference titled: “People and Planet First: the Imperative to Change Course.” With concern for the climate on the rise, trade unions, indigenous, faith and environmental groups have been working more closely than ever before, she noted. And while within these coalitions “we don’t agree on everything – not by a long shot – we understand that the stakes are so high, time is so short and the task is so large that we cannot afford to allow those differences to divide us.” Set to take place in Rome July 2-3, the summit is being organized by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the department that prepared a first draft of Francis’ encyclical, along with the “Catholic International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity,” a network of 17 Catholic development agencies working together for global justice. The meeting’s objective is to use Laudato Si to influence several major political gatherings throughout the year, including three key U.N. conferences. Among them are the Addis Ababa meeting on Finance and Development, the U.N. General Assembly to approve the new Sustainable Development Goals in September, and December’s COP 21 meeting in Paris to agree on a global climate deal. Klein is set to co-chair the conference alongside the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace’s president, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana. Originally scheduled to participate in the Wednesday news conference, Turkson was still on his way back from New York, where he addressed a U.N. conference on climate change Tuesday. Both Church leaders and scientists will gather for the conference, which will also draw participants such as Mary Robinson, the current U.N. Special Envoy for Climate Change, and the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. The Vatican’s decision to include Klein in the climate discussion is not the first time they have chosen include a perspective considered controversial, and divergent from their own stance on issues. At last month’s Rome unveiling of Laudato Si Prof. John Schellnhuber, a scientist who studies climate change and who is also an atheist, was present. He had just been appointed to the Pontifical Academy for the Sciences the day before. Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and a special adviser to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, is a member of the academy and an adviser on the encyclical, and is known to promote population control. At an April 28 Rome summit on the environment, Cardinal Turkson addressed critics who find issue with the Vatican’s partnership with organizations such as the U.N. that promote population control as a means of combating climate change. In response to the criticism, the cardinal recalled the Second Vatican Council’s emphasis on inviting the Church to find “new ways” of ministering to the world. These new methods of engagement don’t mean running away from the world, he said, but rather establishing a dialogue that works toward “an effective solidarity” with others. In comments read aloud on his behalf at the July 1 news conference, the cardinal noted that “the climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.” He said that important points made in Laudato Si await “the pledges and the will” of the global community during September’s U.N. General Assembly, as well as in other major political gatherings. “The single biggest obstacle to the imperative to change course is not economic, scientific or even technological, but rather within our minds and hearts,” he said. Klein in her address said that Pope Francis’ September visit to the United States, during which he will address the U.N. assembly, “could not be better timed.” She criticized those who say that the Pope should leave economics and policy to the experts, saying that many of these experts “have failed us badly” by wielding power and placing “scandalously little value” on human life. Addressing leaders preparing their pledges for COP 21 in Paris, Klein said that to those “getting out the lipstick and heels to dress up another lousy deal, I have this to say: Read the actual encyclical – not the summaries, the whole thing.” “Read it and let it into your hearts,” she said, keeping in mind both “the grief at what we have already lost, and the celebration of what we can still protect and help to thrive.” Read more

Pontifical university plans to offer diploma in child protection by 2016

Rome, Italy, Jul 2, 2015 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Beginning in the spring of 2016, Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University will begin offering an intensive one-semester diploma program on the safeguarding of minors and the prevention of sex abuse by clergy. A new one semester diploma course in the protection of minors is being offered by the Center for Child Protection in Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, and is set to welcome its first round of applicants in February, 2016. “There are not courses like this diploma in pontifical universities in Rome. Certainly programs in secular universities and in UK have them, but (this is a) first in pontifical and Catholic universities,” Fr. Hans Zollner, SJ said at the June 24 announcement of the course. Fr. Zollner is the president of the Pontifical Gregorian University’s Center for Child Protection (CCP) and is a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, created by Pope Francis last autumn. He was present alongside three other panelists for a press conference at the conclusion of the center’s June 21-24 annual Anglophone Conference, during which the diploma course was announced. The diploma will be awarded at the close of a one-semester residential course on the safeguarding of minors. The program aims to form persons who will eventually become child protection officers for dioceses, religious congregations, and similar organizations, as well as advisors and trainers in the field of safeguarding. Broken down into six two-week seminars, the first course is set to run from February – June 2016. Seminars will delve into topics including terms and definitions surrounding the protection of minors, child rights, development and safety, safeguarding and prevention, theology, truth and justice, and care for those who have been abused. Comprised of 30 credits, the course will welcome between 15 and 18 applicants. The diploma will be awarded by the Institute of Psychology of the Pontifical Gregorian University, which founded the CCP in 2012. Fr. Zollner emphasized that the program is “not meant mostly for America or Canada, but is flexible enough to take in a cultural component,” due to the different concept of boundaries in particular cultures. He expressed his hope that participants would come not just from Western nations where policies are already in place, but especially “from countries where there are no or very little such initiatives, especially in Africa, Asia and South America.” In addition to exploring the psychological, pastoral, canonical, and practical approaches to safeguarding minors, the course will also address a systematic theological approach to the topic. The spiritual and theological approach to child protection was the theme of the CCP’s conference, and is a topic Fr. Zollner noted has “not been substantially reflected upon” since the full gravity of the clerical abuse crisis began to surface 40 years ago. In an interview with CNA, Fr. Zollner said that “strangely enough,” no theologian has really taken on the task of developing a theological understanding of the issue, and that while preparing for last week’s conference none of the five speakers were able to find a single study on it. “We have spiritual literature, pastoral literature, psycho-pastoral literature, we have practical theological literature and a little bit on moral theological literature, but theological, Christological, ecclesiological, almost nothing. And this is really a surprise,” he said. The CCP began exploring the theological perspective after Cardinal Joseph Levada, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, pointed out that it was missing from the center’s preparations for their first conference in 2012. “Whereas we have done much on the therapeutic and prevention side, and we’ve tried to come up with new judicial norms, strangely enough (the theological) side seemed, at least to me, split off, and you don’t find literature in this field,” Fr. Zollner reflected. So this year’s conference “was an attempt to really set the stage” for further development of this perspective. Since resources on the theological take on child protection are slim outside of a few writings on moral theology, each of the conference’s speakers were invited to make their own study on the topic and to present their reflections. Among the speakers were Sr. Sara Butler, president of the Academy of Catholic Theology in Washington D.C. and Fr. James Corkery, SJ, professor of Systematic Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University. Both were present at the conference alongside Fr. Zellner and Bishop Edward Burns of Juneau, who was recently appointed chairman of the US bishops’ child and youth protection committee. Other speakers included Fr. Robert J. Geisinger SJ, Promoter of Justice for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and acclaimed American author Fr. Robert Barron. Topics covered in the speeches included the biblical framework of how God himself deals with offenders and offenses. The topic of mercy and justice was also brought up, particularly in how it extends to offenders and those who cover up offenses, such as in cases of bishops’ accountability. The sacramental structure of the priesthood was also touched on, as well as the theme of salvation as it applies to victims of abuse, particularly in terms of the whole and happy life they are called to live, and Christ’s closeness to them, being himself an innocent victim who suffered violence. Fr. Zollner also referred to a reflection from Sr. Sara on an 11th century practice of accountability for abuse put into place by St. Peter Damian, a process that involved not only priests, bishops, and the Pope, but also the laity. This emphasis on the role of the laity in the reform of the Church at that time was a very interesting point, Fr. Zollner said, explaining that both clergy and the laity have the responsibility within their communities of helping to create a safe environment. He revealed that since there is no literature on the theological approach to safeguarding children, the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has created working groups studying the various theological and spiritual implications of the topic. “There are different aspects: spirituality, prayer life, and also theological reflections,” he said, explaining that currently the working group for theology “is more probably on the modeled theological side.” A working group within the commission dedicated to organizing a day of prayer for abuse survivors has also been formed. “I hope this is a starting point for something new,” he said, and noted that though there are no plans as of yet, a future hope of the commission is to invite doctoral students to work on the theme. “Theologians should really reflect on how God acts in this, what the Church is, what the life of the Church and the faithful is in this,” no matter how difficult the task may be, the priest continued. He said that one short-term goal in developing this new perspective could be for the commission to invite theologians to come and speak about the topic. He also said that some publications could be made and handed out to dioceses and religious congregations. “What we have learned here is that if the leaders are convinced it could also come down to those who work with children in parishes, in schools, in orphanages, etc., (so) that they are motivated not only because the law obliges you, but because you are convinced that this a part of the mission of the Church,” Fr. Zollner reflected. The fact that the Church acts on this issue not out of legal binding but out of conviction in her mission is something Fr. Zollner said he believes is “not really appreciated or even understood.” “Whatever we can do for the poor and the little ones is part of the mission of Jesus Christ … the first step is to realize that Jesus has come, as he says, for the sick, for those who are in need, not for the healthy,” he said. “The mission of the Church is precisely this: to represent this to the world, and especially to those who are most wounded.” Read more

Honestly funny – comedian Jim Gaffigan blends faith, humor in new TV show

Washington D.C., Jul 2, 2015 / 03:10 am (CNA).- God and comedy clubs are not generally something most families throw together; then again, most families don’t create a cable comedy show either.   But for Jim and Jeannie Gaffigan, this mix… Read more

Cuban bishops: prepare for Pope’s visit with works of mercy

Havana, Cuba, Jul 2, 2015 / 12:13 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In preparation for Pope Francis’ visit to Cuba this fall, the bishops of the island nation are asking the faithful to perform acts of mercy during the first Fridays of July, August and Septem… Read more

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