Papal delegation suspends ordinations in Paraguay diocese

An apostolic visitation of Paraguay’s Cuidad del Este diocese concluded on Saturday with the visitors suspending a scheduled ordination until they have reached conclusions about their investigation.

“For the time, priestly and diaconal ordinations for the students of St. Joseph’s Major Seminary are suspended and it is unknown how long this will endure – it can only be revealed by the Pope,” Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, who led the apostolic visitation, said at a July 26 press conference.

The diocese was scheduled to have priestly ordinations Aug. 15. A release from the diocese clarified that “the ordinations of Aug. 15 have been suspended until the conclusion (of the visitation), not canceled.”

While the visitation took place July 21-26, Cardinal Abril y Castello and Bishop Milton Troccoli Cebedio – who assisted the cardinal in the investigation – will return to Rome to arrange the data collected and present it to Pope Francis.
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By VicGeorge Vassallo Posted in News

Vatican releases schedule for Pope’s trip to Albania

Pope Francis will make a one-day trip to Albania in September, during which he is slated to meet with local authorities, priests and religious as well as children from charitable institutions.

The Pope’s visit was announced earlier this summer for Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014. It marks the second time a Roman Pontiff will visit the country, the first being Pope Saint John Paul II in 1993.

Upon his arrival to the Albanian capital of Tirana’s international “Mother Teresa” airport, Pope Francis will be greeted by the country’s Prime Minister Edi Rama.

After the initial welcome ceremony and greeting, the pontiff will travel to the presidential palace where he will pay a courtesy visit to Albania’s president, Bujar Nishani. He will then meet with and give an address to representatives of the local civil authorities.
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Dates for Pope’s trip to Sri Lanka and Philippines confirmed

The Holy See Press Office confirmed that Pope Francis will be traveling to Sri Lanka Jan. 12-15 and to Philippines Jan. 15-19.

The papal trip – which will be the second to Asia in six months – had been informally announced by the Pope Francis in May, during the press conference he held aboard a plane returning from the Holy Land.

“As far as Asia is concerned, two trips are planned: this one to South Korea for the meeting with Asian young people, and then, next January, a two-day visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines, in the areas struck by the typhoon,” said the Pope.

The itinerary of the voyage will be disclosed in the coming months, but Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila and Msgr. Nevin Pereira, coordinator of Sri Lankan immigrants in Italy, have speculated on possible papal stops.
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Court allows 9/11 cross to remain standing at Ground Zero

Rejecting arguments from an atheist group, a federal appeals court ruled Monday that the iconic cross found at the site of the 2001 World Trade Center attacks may remain at the 9/11 Museum.

“The history of 9/11 would not be complete without including the impact the Ground Zero Cross had in inspiring rescue workers and Americans generally,” said Eric Baxter, counsel for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, in a July 28 statement.

“Displaying the cross in a display about ‘Finding Meaning at Ground Zero’ is perfectly appropriate,” he continued.
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By VicGeorge Vassallo Posted in News

LGBT foundation aims to counter Vatican family synod

An LGBT activist foundation headed by a former Obama White House staffer gave a $200,000 grant to a dissenting Catholic coalition to target the upcoming Synod on the Family and World Youth Day.

The Michigan-based Arcus Foundation gave the 2014 grant to Dignity USA “to support pro-LGBT faith advocates to influence and counter the narrative of the Catholic Church and its ultra-conservative affiliates.”

“The effort will build advocacy and visibility in connection with two special events, the Synod of the Family and World Youth Day,” the foundation said on its website.

An extraordinary bishops’ synod will meet in Rome this Oct. 5-19 to address pastoral challenges related to the family. The synod has been the subject of significant media coverage and speculation.
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By VicGeorge Vassallo Posted in News

124 Korean martyrs to be beatified by Pope next month

During his August visit to Korea, Pope Francis is to beatify Paul Yun Ji-chung, the nation’s first martyr, as well as 123 companions who were killed for the faith in the 19th century.

The Roman Pontiff will be in South Korea Aug. 14-18, visiting the shrine of the martyrs of Seo So-mun the morning of Aug. 16. Later that day, he will travel to Seoul’s Door of Gwanghwamun to say Mass and beatify Paul Yun Ji-chung and his companions.

Unlike China or Japan, Catholicism in Korea was not introduced by a colonial or foreign power. Korean scholars learned at the beginning of the 17th century about the teachings of the Gospel, which were spreading in China, and undertook travels to the Jesuit missionaries there in order to study it.
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Episcopal church celebrates 40 years of women in the priesthood

Forty years after the first women were ordained to be priests in the Episcopal church, its presiding bishop is uncertain where her — yes, her — spiritual home would be if the church still refused to ordain females.
“I don’t know if I’d still be an Episcopalian,” Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said in an interview. “That’s a good question.”

The church at first declared those ordinations — 11 women in Philadelphia on July 29, 1974, and four the next year in Washington, D.C. — to be both “irregular” and “invalid,” but eventually labeled them valid though irregular. In 1976, the church’s national governing body, pressured by wide acceptance of those irregular ordinations, changed the rules and allowed for the ordination of women as priests, not just as deacons. It also “regularized” the Philadelphia and Washington ordinations.

Without that rules change, “I’d be fishing in other seas,” said Jefferts Schori, who holds a master’s degree in oceanography. It’s a good guess that religious sea would not be where she spent the first eight years of her life, in Catholicism with its all-male priesthood.

The 40th anniversary of the ordination of the Philadelphia 11, as the women became known, is turning into an occasion for considerable introspection about how it all came about and what difference it has made for the Episcopal church, for the worldwide Anglican communion, and for the broader church.

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By VicGeorge Vassallo Posted in Analysis

Pope Francis issues peace plea to all Holy See embassies

On behalf of Pope Francis, the Holy See sent a “nota verbale” to all embassies urging ambassadors to work for peace.

According to Vatican radio, the note, which has not yet been made public, was signed by Vatican secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin. It included texts from recent speeches Pope Francis has given calling for peace, particularly in the Middle East.

In comments made to the Vatican agency, Msgr. Dominique Mamberti, secretary for relations with states in the Roman Curia, said the note serves as a gesture inviting the entire interational community to take the question of peace to heart. The note comes at a time of particularly strong violations of human rights in the Middle East, he said.

Pope Francis has made several appeals for peace in recent weeks, including personal phone calls to the presidents of both Israel and Palestine asking for greater peace efforts. He also called ell as to Syro-Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Youssef III Younan of Antioch and Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon Louis Raphael I Sako to assure them of his prayers in wake of increasing violence toward Christians in Iraq.
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By VicGeorge Vassallo Posted in News

Zhejiang: 360 crosses or Christian buildings destroyed

Chinese Communist officials have continued their campaign against Christian institutions in the eastern province of Zhejiang.

Since January, the government has demolished 360 crosses or Christian buildings, according to an AsiaNews report. On July 21, several hundred men attacked a Salvation Army church and tore down its cross in Wenzhou, the province’s largest city.

In Ningbo, a city of 7.6 million, the Catholic cathedral burned to the ground on July 28. The destruction of the cathedral, built in 1872, has been ruled an accident.

By VicGeorge Vassallo Posted in News

Müller: “These Theories Are Radically Mistaken”

A viewpoint by Sandro Magister

The prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith refutes the ideas of those who want to permit second marriages with the first spouse still alive. He is backed up by Cardinal Sebastián, who also disagrees with Cardinal Kasper. But whose side is Pope Francis on?

In a book-length interview recently released simultaneously in Italy, Spain, and the United States, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, revisits and develops what he had already reiterated last fall in an article in “L’Osservatore Romano” that made a sensation.

In that article, Müller dwelt above all on the question of communion for the divorced and remarried, reiterating the reasons for the prohibition.

Already at the time, in fact, even at the higher levels of the hierarchy there were some who maintained the need for the Church to remove this ban.

And at the consistory in February of this year this change was upheld by the one whom Pope Francis had charged with introducing the discussion, Cardinal Walter Kasper. Continue reading

By VicGeorge Vassallo Posted in News

Pope Gives New Interview Marking 500 Days of Pontificate

In a new interview, given to mark the first 500 days of his pontificate, Pope Francis has reminisced about his youth, discussed immigration and gives a ten point plan for happiness.

The first excerpts of the interview appeared as a feature article on Sunday in the Argentine magazine “Viva”, a supplement of the newspaper El Clarín.

“The Romans have a saying, which can be taken as a point of reference, they say: ‘Campa e lascia campà’ …live and let live,” said Pope Francis. “That’s the first step to peace and happiness.”

He then went on to mention the other nine, the next being “giving oneself to others.”

“If one gets tired, one runs the risk of being egoistic,” he said. “And stagnant water is the first to be corrupted.”
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By VicGeorge Vassallo Posted in News

Bombing damages Gaza’s Catholic parish school

An Israeli army bombing has damaged the school of Gaza’s only Catholic parish, as well as the office of Gaza’s parish priest.

The target of the bombing was a nearby home, the Fides news agency reported.

“Everything happens around us,” said Father Jorge Hernandez, the parish priest. “The Hamas militants continue to fire rockets and then hide in the alleys. And we cannot do anything.”

“We cannot evacuate, it is impossible with children,” he added. “It is more dangerous to go out than stay here. We try to stay in safer places, always on the ground floor.”

By VicGeorge Vassallo Posted in News

Pope’s Dialogue With Priests in Caserta

“A Bishop that doesn’t pray, a priest that doesn’t pray, has closed the door, has closed the way of creativity.”

During Pope Francis’ Saturday visit to Caserta, he met with diocesan priests in the Palatine Chapel of the Palace of Caserta around 4 p.m.

Below is a translation of the text of the Holy Father’s dialogue with the priests.

* * *

Monsignor D’Alise, Bishop of Caserta: Your Holiness, I haven’t prepared anything in writing because I understood immediately that you want an intimate and profound relation with the priests. Therefore, I say to you: welcome. This is our Church, the priests, and then we will go to see the rest of the Church, while we celebrate the Eucharist. This is an important moment for me, because I have been here for two months, and to begin this episcopate with your presence and your blessing is for me a grace upon grace. And now we await your word. Knowing that you desire a dialogue, the priests have also prepared questions for you.

Holy Father: I have prepared an address, but I will give it to the Bishop. Thank you so much for your welcome. Thank you. I am happy and I feel somewhat culpable for having combined so many problems on the day of your patronal feast, but I was unaware of it. And when I called the Bishop to tell him that I wanted to come to make a private pastoral visit, here, to a friend, thepastor, he said to me: “Ah, in fact on the day of the patronal feast!” And I immediately thought: “The following day, the newspapers will report: on the patronal feast of Caserta, the Pope went to see the Protestants.” — a nice headline, no? And so we systematized the event, somewhat in a hurry, but the Bishop helped me so much, and also the people of the State Secretariat. I said to the Substitute, when I called him: “But, please, take off the cord from my neck.” And he did it well. Thank you for the questions you will pose; we can begin; the questions are posed and I will see if I can consolidate two or three, otherwise I will answer each one.
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By VicGeorge Vassallo Posted in News

Thai bishops’ seminar focuses on evangelization

At a recent conference held in Bangkok, Thai bishops gathered with the faithful to share and reflect on ways to share the gospel in their local communities.

“Let us all, including bishops and priests, be ‘converted’ and stirred up to boldly follow the path illuminated by the apostolic exhortation ‘Evangelii Gaudium’”, Archbishop Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij of Bangkok exhorted during the July 14-18 seminar “Experiences and Exchanging Ways of Evangelization.”

He added, “let us be inspired, and follow in the footsteps of Pope Francis’ teachings in reaching out into the peripheries.”

The seminar, which his held biannually, gathered the bishops and bishops emeritus, the priest, religious, and faithful of the Archdiocese of Bangkok, plus its five suffragan dioceses: Chanthaburi, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Sawan, Ratchaburi, and Surat Thani.
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By VicGeorge Vassallo Posted in News

India’s Archdiocese of Madurai given new bishop

Pope Francis appointed Bishop Antony Pappusamy of Dindigal, located in India’s Tamil Nadu state, as Archbishop of Madurai on July 26.

Bishop Pappusamy was born in 1949 in Marambadi, a town 10 miles north of Dindigal. He holds a doctorate of sacred theology; he was ordained a priest in 1976, and was then consecrated an auxiliary bishop of Madurai in 1999.

When the Diocese of Dindigul was established in 2003, from territory of the Madurai archdiocese and the Tiruchirapalli diocese, Bishop Pappusamy was allowed to return home, being appointed its first bishop.

The diocese serves 106,000 Catholics, who are nine percent of the local population. In 2006, the diocese was served by 50 diocesan priests, plus 57 religious.
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By VicGeorge Vassallo Posted in News

Petition calls on UN to stop Christian genocide in Iraq

Following the expulsion of Christians from the Iraqi city of Mosul by ISIS jihadists, a new petition calls on the United Nations to intervene in the country.

“The last Christians have left Mosul, after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria gave them a choice between conversion to Islam, ruinous taxation, exile, or death,” said the petition, posted to the website

Posted on July 24, the petition had gained more than 133,000 signatures within five days.

“We must not be silent while another genocide occurs,” the petition said. “We must push for the international community to act on behalf of the Christians in Iraq. Their survival depends on it!”

Christians have been in Iraq for more than 1,500 years. Over 1 million Christians lived in Iraq before the 2003 U.S. invasion, but their numbers have now plummeted, and observers fear that they could soon be eliminated from the area altogether.
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By VicGeorge Vassallo Posted in News

For some Mideast Catholics, church is anchor of hope amid violence

As the death toll in Gaza surpasses 1,000, violent demonstrations in the West Bank leave dead and wounded, and an entire Christian community is exiled from the Iraqi city of Mosul by Islamic extremists, Christians in the Holy Land find themselves facing harsh realities.

For some Catholics, the church and its tenets serve as an anchor of hope.

At the Church of St. Catherine, adjacent to Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, parishioners spoke of the struggle July 27. That day, parishes throughout the West Bank celebrated special Masses for Gaza, Iraq and Syria.

Palestinian Issa Abu Jabber, 18, of Bethlehem, West Bank, prays during Mass in the Church of St. Catherine July 27. (CNS/Debbie Hill)

“Christ tells us not to use violence. We try to raise our children to love each other. Sometimes you lose your mind and feel like you don’t know what to do, but we pray with our sons at home, and we come to church every Sunday to keep in touch with God. It is a safe haven. Violence is not our way,” said Bethlehem resident Jamila Basha, 44, as she arrived at St. Catherine’s with her husband and two sons, ages 9 and 12.
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By VicGeorge Vassallo Posted in News

US must adapt foreign policy to solve migrant crisis, says bishop

The head of the U.S. bishops’ international justice and peace committee implored Secretary of State John Kerry to utilize U.S. foreign policy to address the “root causes” of child migration from Central America.

“The crisis on our borders will not be minimally resolved until drugs and arms flows, harmful trade provisions, and other critical economic policies that contribute to violence are addressed and rectified,” wrote Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines in a July 24 letter to Secretary Kerry.

Bishop Pates wrote the letter after his “solidarity trip” to Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, the origin countries of many of the child migrants coming to the U.S.

He outlined the root causes of migration there – violence at home, human and drug trafficking, and lack of economic opportunity – and asked Secretary Kerry to focus more on U.S. investment in education and jobs than on military assistance in order to spur a “long term resolution” to the problems.

The number of unaccompanied child migrants to the U.S. has doubled each year since 2011. An estimated 90,000 will have come by the end of this fiscal year, and in 2015 the number is expected to rise to 145,000, according to U.S. officials.
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By VicGeorge Vassallo Posted in News

Rio favela continues to reap fruits from World Youth Day

After nearly two years of preparation, Father José Almy Gomes, 40, almost wasn’t ready for Pope Francis’ World Youth Day pilgrimage to Rio de Janeiro.

A student at Rome’s Patristic Institute Augustinianum from 2003 to 2007, Fr. Almy was the pastor of St. Dominic’s in Perdizes – a rural neighborhood of São Paulo. He worked from June 2011 to August 2012 organizing a group of over 100 international pilgrims, including 20 Americans, for a three-week Catholic dream experience: seven days of tourism and cultural immersion in São Paulo, a week of mission work in Rio’s favelas, and seven days of WYD celebration on Copacabana Beach.

His only hope, for the sake of the project’s success, was not to be transferred before then.

But in February 2013, fewer than five months before WYD, Rio’s Archdiocese of St. Sebastian came calling. Fr. Almy was directed to Our Lady of the Rosary parish – just two blocks from where Pope Francis would stand on Copacabana Beach.

Shaken by his transfer, Fr. Almy faced the immediate challenge of building his new parish’s volunteer efforts almost completely from scratch.

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By VicGeorge Vassallo Posted in News

Communique From Family of Italian Jesuit Who Disappeared in Syria a Year Ago

Fr. Paolo Dell’Oglio’s Relatives Ask Those Responsible to ‘Have the Dignity to Let Us Know His Fate’

The family of Fr. Paolo Dell’Oglio, the Italian Jesuit priest of whom there has been no news for a year following his disappearance in the Syrian city of Raqqa, today issued the following communique:


One year has already passed since we last knew of our son and brother Paolo, priest, Jesuit, Italian, who disappeared in Syria on July 29th 2013.
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By VicGeorge Vassallo Posted in News