Geneva, Switzerland, Aug 31, 2014 / 04:44 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The continuing spread of the Ebola outbreak in Africa is putting more lives at risk, while containment efforts and the flight of vital workers have endangered food supplies and medical care… Read more

Vatican City, Aug 31, 2014 / 09:39 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Christians must avoid the temptation to conform to the world, Pope Francis cautioned Aug. 31, stressing that they should instead allow their faith to transform the world around them. “Christians live in the world, fully integrated into the social and cultural reality of our time, and rightly so,” the Pope said in his reflection at the Sunday Angelus. However, “this carries with it the risk that we might become ‘worldly’, that ‘the salt might lose its flavor’,” as the Gospel of Matthew warns. Pope Francis spoke to those gathered in the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square at noon. As he does each week, the Holy Father offered a reflection on the Sunday Gospel before reciting the Angelus. He pointed to the passage in the Gospel of Matthew in which Jesus predicts his coming passion, death and resurrection. At this “critical moment” in Scripture, “the apparent contrast between Jesus’ way of thinking and that of the disciples emerges,” he said, pointing to Peter’s rebuke of Jesus. “Jesus, in turn, severely rebukes Peter, because he does not think ‘according to God, but according to men’, and plays – without realizing it – the part of Satan, the tempter.” The Pope explained that we should learn from this example, heeding the words of St. Paul, who says, “Be not conformed to this world; but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God.” Rather than becoming worldly, we should change the world, he said. “When the power of the Gospel remains alive in Christians, it can transform ‘mankind’s criteria of judgment, determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life, which are in contrast with the Word of God and the plan of salvation’,” he exhorted, citing the 1975 apostolic exhortation of Pope Paul VI, Evangelii nuntiandi. After the Angelus, Pope Francis greeted various groups of pilgrims present in the square. Welcoming participants in an international gathering of Catholic lawmakers, he encouraged them “to live the delicate role of representatives of the people in conformity with Gospel values.” He also noted that Monday marks a Day for the Safeguarding of Creation, sponsored by the Italian Bishops’ Conference. “The theme this year is very important – Educating to care for creation, for the health of our country and our city,” the Pope remarked.   “I hope that it will strengthen the commitment of all institutions, associations and citizens so as to safeguard the life and health of people also respect the environment and nature.”   Read more

Washington D.C., Aug 30, 2014 / 02:35 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pro-life advocates have strongly objected to PBS’ decision broadcast the documentary “After Tiller,” saying it wrongly downplays the “gravely unjust” and deadly nature of abortion. “When we hear PBS talk about ‘humanizing’ late-term abortionists, we wonder: who is ‘humanizing’ the viable babies these men and women kill?” Lila Rose, president of the investigative group Live Action, told CNA Aug. 29. “Will PBS show programming in this vein, or will it just take taxpayer dollars to boost Big Abortion?” “The abortion process is barbaric and gravely unjust at any stage, as it results in the intentional killing of an innocent, helpless human being,” she added. “But late-term abortions are particularly visually nauseating: in most procedures, abortionists will stab babies’ hearts or skulls with a thick needle containing digoxin, a toxin that induces a massive heart attack.” “Then they will let the child float, dead, in his mother’s womb, and send the mother home for several days, possibly to deliver her dead child alone.” PBS is airing the 2013 documentary as part of its POV series. The broadcaster is promoting the 2013 documentary as “a deeply humanizing and probing portrait of the only four doctors in the United States still openly performing third-trimester abortions in the wake of the 2009 assassination of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kansas.”   The documentary will air on Labor Day and will be available on the PBS website through Oct. 1.   The PBS website encourages viewers to organize a “premiere party” for the documentary and provides lesson plans to guide discussions. Rose said that hundreds of pro-life advocates have criticized the decision to air the documentary. Several have organized petitions protesting PBS’ decision to broadcast the film. One user-submitted petition at gained more than 18,000 signatures within one day calling on PBS to cancel the showing or “give equal time to a documentary that shows third-trimester abortions from the opposite perspective.” Rose contended that the decision to broadcast the documentary reveals PBS as “a publicly funded abortion propaganda organ – in direct violation of fundamental human rights.” She said that Live Action investigations have uncovered “horrific abuses” in U.S. abortion facilities. The group’s investigations send undercover journalists into abortion clinics to film how doctors and staff treat women, including those they believe to be underage girls who are seeking abortions. Some investigations have exposed late-term abortionists’ willingness to let babies who survive abortions die. Other investigations have exposed abortion clinic staffers voicing a willingness to avoid mandatory reporting laws in cases of possible statutory rape.   “The abortion industry puts profit above all other motives, and is willing to lie, injure and kill mothers, and rampantly slaughter innocent children to keep its multi-billion-dollar enterprise afloat,” Rose said. She charged that LeRoy Carhart, a Nebraska abortionist profiled in the documentary, left a woman to die alone during a late-term abortion procedure that lasted several days. “She suffered complications and could not get in touch with him because he had left the state and turned off his phone,” Rose said. Montgomery County, Maryland officials declined to press charges for the February 2013 death, which involved a New York woman 33 weeks pregnant. She died from complications in an abortion that Carhart performed. Tiller’s murder drew vocal condemnation from Catholic leaders and other pro-life advocates. In her remarks, Rose was also clear to reject violence against those who perform abortions. “Our goal is to change hearts and minds – even those of abortionists – and persuade all people through logic, scientific evidence, and heartfelt personal stories that all human life is precious, with inherent dignity, and deserves to be protected.”   Read more

Yangon, Myanmar, Aug 30, 2014 / 07:53 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Celebrating 500 years since the arrival of Catholicism in Myanmar, Catholic artists have pooled together to evangelize through a new musical endeavor.   Catholic Creative Artists Associ… Read more

Rome, Italy, Aug 29, 2014 / 05:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A bishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church called for peace amid escalating conflict with pro-Russian separatists, stating that the Church there is facing increased persecution as fighting goes on. “Even if it’s not announced – it seems like a war against Ukraine,” Monsignor Dionisio Lachovicz told CNA Aug. 28. “I believe that the only hope is in the Lord, therefore we call the whole world to pray for peace.” Msgr. Lachovicz, apostolic visitor for the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church in Italy and in Spain, explained that in the midst of rising tensions between the Ukraine and pro-Russian separatists “a new persecution is being waged against the Greek Catholics located in the territories in Russian hands.” These are, he clarified, the areas of “Crimea and in the territories where the Russia-friendly ‘separatists’ are seeking to impose their power.” In Donetsk, a large city in Eastern Ukraine, “the bishop’s residence has been sacked and sealed. The cathedral’s land has been struck by separatist rockets. The bishops and almost all of the Greek-Catholics priests have been forced to leave the area of Donetsk,” the bishop explained. “The Church has been desecrated by the rebels who blackmail the clergy, threatening reprisals on the parishioners. And only some days ago the monastery of the Servants of God was occupied by separatists.” According to BBC News, nearly 2,600 people have been killed since April, when Russia’s annexation of Crimea prompted rebels to take over large parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. Heavy fighting continues near Ukraine’s strategic Mariupol port, which lays off the Azov Sea. Rebel forces are currently attempting to capture the city, but Ukrainian government troops are holding ground. Russian president Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko met Aug. 26 to discuss the ongoing crisis, shaking hands and leaving with Poroshenko’s assurance that a new “roadmap” to peace would be laid out. However tensions skyrocketed when at least 1,000 Russian troops entered Ukraine two days later, BBC reports, prompting an Aug. 29 emergency U.N. Security Council meeting to address the situation. “If the Russian Orthodox Church together with all of the Churches in the Ukraine joined together in the name of love in the prayer of Jesus ‘that all may be one’ to dialogue, then they would reach a much more realistic ‘roadmap,’” Msgr. Lachovicz explained. He lamented the fact that rather than unifying the churches after past quarrels, the current situation is being used to cause greater division, stating that during the 4th European forum for Orthodox-Catholic dialogue last June, the metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, president of the Department for external ecclesiastical relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow, “without any documented confirmed accused the Greek Catholic Church ‘in the destructive role in the Ukraine crisis.’” Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church has sent a letter “to all of the heads of the Orthodox Churches and to different European political organisms with similar accusations.” If all sides to the conflict could truly reach an agreement, they “would confirm the simple determination of Pope Francis” that “Nothing is lost with peace,” the bishop observed. “The attention of Pope Francis to the situation in the Ukraine has always been very great and his messages and prayers, I believe, that soon they will overcome every evil that oppresses the Ukrainian land.” Explaining how the Ukrainian people as a whole are grateful to Pope Francis, Msgr. Lachovicz also offered special thanks to Mons. Thomas E. Gullickson, apostolic nuncio in Ukraine, who’s “messages and appeals are very present and concrete.” “I would like to invite everyone to pray for peace along with the Holy Father,” the bishop said, “because to make peace requires courage, much more so than to make war.” “Courage to say yes to encounter and no to conflict; yes to dialogue and no to violence; yes to negotiation and no to hostility, yes to the observance of pacts and no to provocations; yes to sincerity and no to duplicity.” “This is the heartfelt appeal that Pope Francis has addressed to all the Churches of the world.” Read more

Madrid, Spain, Aug 29, 2014 / 04:27 pm (CNA).- The appointment of Carlos Osoro Sierra as the new Archbishop of Madrid is another step forward in the renewal of the ranks of the Spanish bishops that at the same time raises expectations for Curia reform…. Read more

Rome, Italy, Aug 29, 2014 / 12:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Following the agreement of an indefinite ceasefire in Gaza earlier this week, a key priest in Jerusalem says the only way for it to last is if both sides overcome dehumanizing prejudices of the other. “Until there is a real dialogue that starts where the two sides see the other side in its full human reality, we can’t really talk about the beginning of a process that will lead us to peace,” Father Neuhaus told CNA Aug. 28. One of the patriarchal vicars of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Fr. Neuhaus is also responsible for Hebrew speaking Catholics in his diocese and a large population of migrant workers and asylum seekers in the country. The long-term ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip was negotiated by Egypt, and took effect at 7 p.m. (4 p.m. GMT) Tuesday, ending seven weeks of fighting which has left more than 2,200 people dead, most of them Palestinians. According BBC News, Palestinian officials stated that the ceasefire proposal called for an indefinite end to hostilities, an immediate opening of Gaza’s access to Israel and Egypt, and an extension of the area’s Mediterranean fishing zone. The agency reports that immediately Israel was to end its blockade of Gaza in order to allow aid and building materials in. Further discussion on issues of greater tension, such as Israel’s call for a disarming of militant groups in Gaza, and the release of Hamas prisoners in the West Bank, are set to begin in Cairo within a month. Despite the great feeling of relief on both sides to have an end to the last 50 days of intense fighting in Gaza – which he expects will take roughly 15 years to fully repair – Fr. Neuhaus said that now begins the great task of Israelis and Palestinians in learning to view each other as neighbors rather than enemies. The question of putting themselves in each other’s shoes is “a very, very difficult question and perhaps the most difficult question we face,” he said. In order to come to a position in which Israelis and Palestinians can really speak to one another, we “need a real lesson in language where we will cease to use with such ease the terms that confine the other in an almost satanic role.” Drawing attention to rapid resolution to past conflicts in South Africa, Fr. Neuhaus stated that although there is still a long way to go for Israel and Palestine, it doesn’t necessarily mean a “long distance to travel in time.” “What we need – and this we need desperately – are leaders who are creative enough to propose meaningful discourse to those people who are living in these situations so that they can open their eyes and open their ears and take in the reality of the other.” However, currently “We live in a society based on the building of walls: the walls that you see and the walls that cannot be seen, which are probably even higher in the hearts of the people who live there,” he said, noting that “Behind those walls is ‘another’ that I don’t want to see.” Pope Francis’ visit to the Holy Land in May “was a moment of great triumph of this discourse” of humanization, Fr. Neuhaus observed, and pointed to the June invocation for peace held in the Vatican with the Pope, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, and the Israeli and Palestinian presidents as a further step forward. Holding this prayer inside the Vatican was as if the Pope were saying to the presidents, “Please, put yourselves before God. Put yourselves before God as you speak, as you act towards the other and see that as God’s children God has no favorites,” he continued. “God loves all of God’s children. And it is God who has planted these children right in this land, so they need to find ways to relate to one another.” As for the length of this latest ceasefire, Fr. Neuhaus explained that although he is not “not a prophet so I cannot tell how long it will last,” his is “a person of prayer and I pray that it lasts.” “I pray that it lasts so that people can put their lives together. I pray that it lasts so that people can get some critical perspective on the behavior of their governments on both sides that led us into the escalated violence we’ve just been through. I hope it lasts long enough so that children can get enough sleep and start slowly to get back to the normal life of a child.” “I think it’s very, very important that we also begin to speak a language of hope,” the priest reflected. Drawing attention to the important role of the Church in fostering this dialogue, he stated that she “does speak and needs to speak even louder a language of possibilities and alternatives.” She needs to speak “of a prophetic vision for what the Holy Land could be if Jews, Christians and Muslims, if Palestinians and Israelis really could live together and build up that land as a blessing for one and all.” Read more

Rome, Italy, Aug 29, 2014 / 11:55 am (CNA).- Those who are in irregular marital situations cannot receive Holy Communion but are still Christian faithful and “must feel at home” in Catholic churches, a leading Italian bishop has said. Bishop Nunzio Galantino of Cassano all’Jonio told a national liturgical gathering of the Center of Liturgical Action Aug. 27 in Orvieto, Italy that Holy Communion is “the sacramental act that excellently expresses the union with Christ and the Church.” The bishop, who serves as secretary general of the Italian bishops’ conference, noted Catholic teaching that those in “an irregular marital situation” cannot receive Holy Communion “because of their condition.” He discussed how people in irregular relationships can feel this discipline as “very severe, not inclusive” and even “punitive” towards “the difficulties of marital life” or towards their choice to break up a relationship. “Often many people perceive the Church’s attitude as more severe than what it actually is, since they feel the fact they are not admitted to Sacraments as an exclusion from ecclesiastical life,” the bishop said. He said that Catholics should recognize that some of the faithful are excessively harsh towards those in irregular relationships and they erroneously see the Church’s discipline “as an exclusion of their brothers and sisters.” He said that some of the faithful sometimes look at people in irregular relationships “with a glance full of prejudice, as if their faith and their belonging to the Church was compromised.” “In addition to the burden of their non-admission to the sacraments, there is an unjustified de facto discrimination towards them, as an added price to pay.” “Even these people are Christian faithful, so they are part of the Church and in the Eucharistic assembly they are and they must feel at home,” the bishop said. One page of the bishop’s 16-page speech addressed those in irregular marital relationships who cannot receive Communion. His broader remarks dealt with nurturing “a culture of mercy” in many areas for immigrants, the disabled, and the poor. Bishop Galantino said that current pastoral guidelines do not put in discussion Church doctrine and discipline that instruct those in irregular marital relationships to refrain from Holy Communion. Rather, they reaffirm the church membership of those in irregular relationships and suggest for them “paths of ecclesial life” and liturgical participation even though they cannot receive Holy Communion. Bishop Galantino has caused controversy with some of his previous remarks. In a May interview he appeared to denigrate pro-life witness outside of abortion clinics, saying “I don’t identify with the expressionless person who stands outside the abortion clinic reciting their rosary, but with young people, who are still against this practice, but are instead fighting for quality of life, their health, their right to work.” The bishop was criticized for his claim that Catholics “have concentrated too much on abortion and euthanasia.” He also attracted criticism for his statement that he hoped the Catholic Church in Italy will be “able to listen without any taboo to the arguments in favor of married priests, the Eucharist for the divorced, and homosexuality.” Read more

Erbil, Iraq, Aug 29, 2014 / 09:33 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Christians and other religious minorities who have fled areas in Iraq that have fallen under Islamic State control are now helping one another to survive as refugees, an aid worker said. “… Read more

Seoul, South Korea, Aug 29, 2014 / 04:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A former Korean ambassador to the Holy See spoke of the effects of Pope Francis’ recent visit to South Korea, saying that all of Asia now feels a long-term challenge to imitate his humble ways. “All the media in Korea are already speaking of ‘Francis syndrome,’” former ambassador Thomas Han told CNA Aug. 26. “The Korean people, having been deeply impressed by Pope Francis’ person and his lifestyle, seriously reflect upon the meaning of their lives and seek to see the things in life that really matter.” Han explained that leaders “at every level of society” now feel an “unspoken pressure to make their own the leadership style the Korean people have witnessed in Pope Francis.” “Therefore, it is safe to say that such ‘Francis syndrome’ will surely serve as a momentum for the Koreans to promote the culture of love, thereby contributing to authentic humanization of the Korean Peninsula in the long term.” Pope Francis traveled to Seoul, South Korea Aug. 14-18, where he met with youth participating in the 6th Asian Youth Day, as well as with government officials, local Church leaders and heads of other faith traditions. Marking the first time a Roman Pontiff has visited the peninsula since John Paul II went in 1989, the voyage has had an impact on the entire Asian continent, particularly the youth, who were touched by the Pope’s heart-to-heart way of communicating, and those affected by the Sewol ferry disaster that happened earlier this spring. With the presence of Pope Francis in their midst, Koreans “were excited to verify what they had heard about him through the media,” Han observed. “In a word, Pope Francis has at last satisfied their quenchless thirst for true leadership. His coherence between words and actions, his simple lifestyle, his humility, the way he embraced the poor, the disabled, the outcasts greatly impressed them.” It is rumored that following the Pope’s visit, many in Korea are now beginning to purchase the compact Kia Soul he chose to pick him up from the airport, following his request to have the smallest car possible. As the smallest car in Korea, the vehicle was considered unsuitable for such a globally significant figure, and left many chuckling when they saw the pontiff drive away in the boxy car. What the Korean people saw in the Pope was “a witness to hope,” the former ambassador explained. “The hope that with the leadership of Pope Francis the world can be made a better place to live in.” Speaking on the particular impact Pope Francis made on the Asian youth, Han noted that they viewed him as the Good Shepherd who came “not to be served but to serve and to give his life to redeem many people.” “They have been excited to be with Pope Francis who rekindled the very special love that had been displayed by Christ toward the young man in the Gospel” and who “launched them as leading actors in humanization and evangelization of society.” Drawing attention to how the Asian continent currently is home to over 60 percent of the world’s population, Han noted that along with this number come “flagrant inequalities” both in terms of one’s possessions, as well as in the exercise of political power. “More than half of the 900 million absolute poor in the world who survive on less than $1.25 a day are in Asia,” he stated, observing also how “Women experience a very low level of gender equality in the world” and “the deprivation of the right to life of the unborn child is widespread.” Going on, Han observed that many “are denied the right to religious freedom” and that “cultural and religious diversity sometimes leads even to animosity and conflict between peoples.” He also pointed out current threats to peace, including increasing militarization and continuous environmental pollution. “It is thus timely for Pope Francis to come to encourage the Catholic Church in Asia to strengthen its efforts to humanize and evangelize the Asian continent facing such realities,” he said. Noting the significance of choosing Korea for his first trip to Asia, the former ambassador explained that Pope Francis’ presence in a country suffering division for 70 years signifies that he came “to Korea and to Asia as Pontiff, that is, as a builder of bridges with God and between peoples.” He came “as apostle of true peace, to encourage the Catholics and all the other Asians to dialogue and work together to overcome all the inhuman situations that occur on the Continent to build a more equitable society, a more stable peace in the world.” In this context, Pope Francis’ visit represents “a challenge to Korea as a nation and the Catholic Church therein to assume a greater role in pursuing authentic human development of peoples in Asia as well as in the Korean Peninsula,” Han observed. “Both Korea and the Catholic Church well deserve to play such a role and (are) ready to embrace such a challenge,” he said. “The Pope’s visit will stimulate the ongoing renewal of the Catholic Church’s determination to take the lead in evangelization of Asia as well as the Korean Peninsula.” At the same time, he continued, it will serve “as an effective catalyst to Korea’s constant willingness to assume its own responsibility for the humanization of Asia as well as the Korean Peninsula by promoting the culture of love, justice and peace.” Read more

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