New Haven, Conn., Mar 28, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
About 60 percent of Americans say they intend to go to church for Easter Sunday, with 70 percent of Catholic Americans and 92 percent of practicing Catholics saying they will attend services.
“The survey shows that Easter remains an important part of the lives of most Americans,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus, which commissioned the survey.
Anderson said March 27 that the celebration of Easter is “of great importance” to American Catholics, as is the spiritual preparation of Lent that helps Catholics to “lead a better life.”
The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion survey also asked about Americans' Lenten practices.
About 80 percent of practicing Catholic respondents said they intended to observe Lent through the traditional Catholic practice of going without something or doing something differently. About 62 percent of all Catholics said the same. Only 33 percent of all American adults said they took special action during Lent.
The numbers of Americans and Catholics who said they planned to attend Easter services declined slightly from a 2009 survey from the Marist Institute.
The Marist Poll survey of 2,000 Americans was conducted March 2-5. Its respondents included 515 Catholics. It claims a margin of error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points for Americans respondents and plus or minus 4.3 percentage points for Catholics respondents.
The Knights of Columbus is a Catholic fraternal charitable organization with over 1.8 million members worldwide.
Bismarck, N.D., Mar 28, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Bishop David Kagan of Bismarck, N.D. praised the North Dakota legislature and governor for passing into law three pro-life bills that place stronger restrictions on abortion.
“The protection of all human life from the moment of conception to natural death is the primary purpose of government,” Bishop Kagan said March 26. “All persons, including our elected officials, are obligated to unceasingly seek protection of this basic human right.”
The bishop said he applauded members of the legislature who “bravely supported measures to extend protections to unborn human life and to advance the health of women.”
The new laws include bans on abortions performed after a fetal heartbeat is detectable and bans on abortions that target the unborn child on the basis of his or her sex or genetic abnormalities.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed the three bills into law on Tuesday. He acknowledged that they could provoke controversies in constitutional law.
He said it is uncertain whether the ban on post-heartbeat abortions will survive a court challenge. However, he said the bill is “a legitimate attempt by a state legislature to discover the boundaries of Roe v. Wade.”
The Supreme Court has never considered the precise restrictions based on a fetal heartbeat, he noted. The fetal heartbeat is detectable via ultrasound at about 12 weeks into pregnancy.
Gov. Dalrymple signed another bill that requires any abortionist in North Dakota to have admitting and staff privileges at a nearby hospital that allows abortions to take place in its facility.
“The added requirement that the hospital privileges must include allowing abortions to take place in their facility greatly increases the chances that this measure will face a court challenge,” he said.
“Nevertheless, it is a legitimate and new question for the courts regarding a precise restriction on doctors who perform abortions.”
Backers of the bill baring abortion for sex selection and genetic defects have said they follow American traditions against discrimination on the basis of sex or disability.
On March 22, the legislature approved another pro-life initiative that will go before North Dakota voters in 2014: an amendment to the state constitution that says “the inalienable right to life of every human being at any stage of development must be recognized and defended.”
Christopher Dodson, executive director of the North Dakota Catholic Conference, denied that the amendment is a “personhood amendment.” It would not ban abortion without legislative action, he clarified. Instead, the amendment provides guidance for the courts in interpreting state laws.
Bishop Kagan asked all Catholics in North Dakota to join him in prayer for all elected leaders this Holy Week.
“May the Author of Life grant them wisdom in all their endeavors,” said the bishop, who is also apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Fargo.
Washington D.C., Mar 28, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A recent Latin-style party in Washington, D.C., drew hundreds of young adults for a night of music, food and salsa dancing that benefited Catholic outreach to low-income immigrants.
“We had so many young people there, so many new people. It was a fun night,” Monsignor John Enzler, president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, told CNA March 27.
“There was an excitement there that we hadn’t had before,” he said. “Community was built in a very special way on Friday night.”
The Música y Sueños event, which means “Music and Dreams,” featured a sit-down Latin-inspired dinner buffet and salsa dancing at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce building March 22.
D.C. salsa dancer Ricardo Loaiza provided dance lessons and a live DJ provided the music.
“People enjoyed themselves. It was not expensive,” Msgr. Enzler said, characterizing the event as an effort to “raise new friendships rather than funds.”
The event benefitted the Catholic Charities-run Spanish Catholic Center, which has been in operation for more than 45 years. With three different locations in the District of Columbia and Maryland, the center served 18,000 clients last year.
The center provides medical and dental clinics, food pantries, employment counseling, legal aid and language instruction. Its social services help provide those in need with food, shelter and clothing.
“It’s our goal and our effort to try to meet their needs where they are and make sure we can assist in whatever way we can,” Msgr. Enzler said.
He noted the growing Latino population in the United States and in the archdiocese. Hispanics make up about 40 percent of the U.S. Catholic population and are expected to reach 50 percent within the decade.
The Spanish Catholic Center, he said, is part of “a huge and important effort for us to make sure that we are meeting the needs of this burgeoning population.”
He explained that clients want “the services and commitment that the Church provides” and also “help to grow in their faith.”
Catholic Charities invited young Latino leaders to the event through social media like Twitter. Msgr. Enzler said about 300 of the 400 attendees were new to Catholic Charities events.
A silent movie played during the event to help partygoers learn more about the center. Spanish Catholic Center staff also mingled with the crowd and spoke about their work.
The archdiocese’s Catholic Charities intends to make Música y Sueños an annual event.
“People were excited and thrilled and felt they were being asked to participate, but also asked to collaborate. And they did,” Msgr. Enzler added.
He noted that the event supports Catholic Charities’ efforts to serve anyone who comes to their doors, Catholic and non-Catholic alike.
“I think we do a great job of making that happen,” he said.
Vatican City, Mar 28, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Pope told priests that if they “anoint” others by bringing the grace of God to their everyday realities, they will be strengthened in their priesthood.
“A good priest can be recognized by the way his people are anointed,” said Pope Francis during the Holy Thursday Chrism Mass at which oils that will be used in the sacraments are blessed.
“When our people are anointed with the oil of gladness, it is obvious, for example, they leave Mass looking as if they have heard good news,” he said at Saint Peter’s Basilica on March 28.
Pope Francis noted that priests must to “go out in order to experience anointing, its power and its redemptive efficacy.”
He illustrated what he meant by recalling the image of Aaron being anointed with oil as High Priest of Israel.
“A fine image of this ‘being for’ others can be found in the Psalm: ‘It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down upon the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down upon the collar of his robe’ (Ps. 133:2),” the Pope recalled.
“The image of spreading oil, flowing down from the beard of Aaron upon the collar of his sacred robe, is an image of the priestly anointing which, through Christ, the Anointed One, reaches the ends of the earth, represented by the robe,” he said.
Pope Francis warned that priests who do not do this “grow dissatisfied, become sad and lose heart.”
“We need to ‘go out’ … to the outskirts where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters,” he told hundreds of priests.
This afternoon, Pope Francis will put his challenge into action by celebrating the Mass of the Last Supper at Casal del Marmo, a youth prison on the northwest side of Rome.
During the Mass, he will wash the feet of 12 inmates who come from different faiths and ethnicities.
“A priest who seldom goes out of himself, who anoints little (…) misses out on the best of our people, on what can stir the depths of his priestly heart,” said Pope Francis.
“People thank us because they feel that we have prayed over the realities of their everyday lives, their troubles, their joys, their burdens and their hopes,” he observed.
The Holy Father added that when people feel “that the fragrance of the Anointed One, of Christ,” has come to them through priests, they feel encouraged to entrust to them everything they want from God.
Pope Francis also called for more unity between priests and lay people.
“Dear lay faithful, be close to your priests with affection and with your prayers, that they may always be shepherds according to God’s heart,” he urged.
This morning’s Mass was significant because it is the only day of the year that the sacred oils for Baptism, Confirmation and Anointing of the Sick are blessed.
After his homily, Pope Francis received and blessed three huge silver urns of the different oils.
Following the ceremony, they were taken back to the sacristy and distributed among the priests of the diocese who took them away in silver vessels.
The remaining oil is then traditionally securely guarded under lock and key.
Vatican City, Mar 28, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Vatican officials thought Pope Francis would only celebrate Holy Thursday Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, but an invitation from a government minister changed their plans.
The Italian Justice Minister, Paola Severino, “was visiting the psychiatric hospital where I serve as chaplain, and she showed interest in inviting the Pope to visit an Italian prison,” explained Monsignor Gino Belleri in a March 26 interview with CNA.
It turned out that “as soon as the Pope knew of the invitation of Minister Severino, he grabbed the occasion,” Msgr. Belleri said.
“He wanted to go to a detention center, and he wanted to do it on Holy Thursday, as he usually did as archbishop,” he added.
In the end, he chose to visit the Casal del Marmo juvenile detention center, where he will wash the feet of 12 young people this evening.
Usually, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper is celebrated in the Basilica of Saint John in Lateran, and it is the occasion for the people of Rome to meet with their bishop, the Pope.
Since Pope Francis will not take possession of the basilica until April 7, the Mass was expected to take place in Saint Peter’s Basilica. In preparation, the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household printed almost 4,000 tickets and delivered close to 1,400 of them.
But Pope Francis was, in fact, already thinking of doing something different.
When he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he used to celebrate Holy Thursday Mass in a prison or in any other places for the needy like hospices and slums.
This led to interesting speculation about what was going to happen with the remaining 2,600 tickets.
One anonymous source suggested to the Italian press agency AGI that the Pope wanted to deliver the remaining tickets to the poor.
“It was a false news,” stated Raffaele Iaria, director of the press agency Migrantes Press, which is linked to the Italian Bishops’ conference Migrantes Foundation.
Iaria explained March 27 that as soon as the news spread, he made a phone call to Alberto Colajacomo, the spokesperson of Caritas, the charity agency for the Diocese of Rome, who was supposed to be involved in the deliverance of the tickets.
“Colajacomo,” Iaria said, “had no information on the Pope’s plan.”
In the meantime, Justice Minister Paola Severino had already asked Pope Francis to go and visit a detention center.
Since she became member of Monti’s government in November 2011, Severino has considered reforming Italy’s prison system a top priority.
Inviting the Pope will likely be her last initiative aimed at sensitizing people and institutions to the issue, since the Monti administration is only in charge of ordinary issues, while talks for forming a new government have already begun.
Popes being interested in visiting prisons is not a novelty.
Pope Benedict XVI went to visit the Rebibbia detention center on December 18, 2011. On that occasion, Minister Severino read a letter by a detainee and underlined that “reparation and re-education” must be the main purposes of a detention center.
Pope Pius IX used to go and visit all the Romans prisons. In the last century, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI have all visited detention facilities.
But today’s visit by Pope Francis will be the first time a Pope celebrates Holy Thursday Mass in a detention center.
Vatican City, Mar 28, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis has approved moving ahead with 16 causes for sainthood, which include multiple 20th-century martyrs, the foundress of a religious order with U.S. ties and a lay Portuguese woman.
Cardinal Angelo Amato, head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presented the cases on March 27, and the Pope approved decrees recognizing their various degrees of advancement.
The person with the closest ties to the United States who made a step closer to sainthood was Servant of God Mother Maria Teresa Bonzel. She founded the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration at the request of Bishop Konrad Martin in 1863, with the aim of serving the growing number of poor children in Germany.
However, a widespread conflict between the German government and the Catholic Church over control of education and ecclesiastical appointments, known as the Kulturkampf, forced the sisters to leave their homeland and move to the U.S. on Nov. 25, 1875. Once there, they dedicated themselves to educating children and health care as they did in Germany.
The miracle associated with Mother Maria Teresa involved a four-year-old boy from Colorado Springs, Colo. who was suffering from a severe viral infection that should have run its course in one week. Some sisters from the Franciscan order began a novena to their foundress and the boy was healed in 2001 without a scientific explanation.
Pope Francis also approved declarations of martyrdom for 62 people, many of whom were killed during the Spanish Civil War between 1936 and 1938. Their numbers include Bishop Emanuele Basulto Jiménez of Jaén, Father Joaquin Jovani Marin and 14 companions from the Diocesan Labourer Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, five priests from the Diocese of Ávila, and Capuchin Franciscan Father Andrea Palazuelo with 31 companions.
Dominican Friar Giuseppe Girotti, who died April 1, 1945 in the Dachau cocentration camp, was also recognized as a martyr. He was arrested by the Nazis in Italy for arranging hideouts and escape routes for Jews. When he was captured Fr. Girotti was helping a wounded Jewish person.
Salesian Brother Stephen Sándor, who was hung by the Hungarian communist government in 1954, was also named a martyr.
The final martyr approved by the Pope was the Italian seminarian Rolando Rivi, who was killed on April 13, 1945 on the Plains of Monchio after three days of torture by communist partisans.
The declarations for martyrdom each say that the person was “killed in hatred of the faith.”
One of the steps toward sainthood involves the Pope agreeing that the person being considered lived a life of “heroic virtue.”
Today he recognized two Spanish diocesan priests, a Mexican religious priest, two Italian religious priests, a Polish lay brother and a Portuguese laywoman as heroically virtuous.
Vatican City, Mar 28, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis recalled for around 40 young detainees how Jesus washed the disciples’ feet and said that he would willingly do the same for them because he is called to serve.
“It is the example set by Our Lord, it’s important for Him to wash their feet, because among us the one who is highest up must be at the service of others,” the Pope said, recounted Jesus response to Peter’s refusal for the youths.
“This is a symbol, it is a sign – washing your feet means I am at your service. And we are (servants) too, among each other, but we don’t have to wash each other’s feet each day. So what does this mean? That we have to help each other …” Pope Francis explained March 28 at Casal del Marmo youth detention facility.
The Pope also offered a heartfelt explanation for why he was washing the feet of the young prisoners.
“This is what Jesus teaches us. This is what I do. And I do it with my heart. I do this with my heart because it is my duty, as a priest and bishop I must be at your service.
“But it is a duty that comes from my heart and a duty I love. I love doing it because this is what the Lord has taught me,” he said.
The Pope encouraged the youths to become more self-giving and helpful. “And thus,” he added, “in helping each other we will do good for each other.”
Just before performing the ceremony of the Washing of the Feet, Pope Francis told the youths to ask themselves ‘Am I really willing to help others?’
“Think that this sign is Christ’s caress, because Jesus came just for this, to serve us, to help us,” he concluded.
After Communion, the Pope moved the Blessed Sacrament to the Altar of Repose and spent some time adoring Jesus in the Eucharist.
The Pope made the decision to visit the youth detention facility after he was invited by Italy’s Justice Minister Paola Severino.
It is also in keeping with his ministry as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, where he would celebrate Holy Thursday Mass with the poor and sick.
Pope Francis’ next Holy Week ceremony will take place tomorrow, on Good Friday.
He will lead a celebration of the Passion of Our Lord at 5:00 p.m., which will include a Liturgy of the Word and Veneration of the Cross in St. Peter’s Basilica.
At 9:15 in the evening he will preside over the Stations of the Cross at the Coliseum, which will take place by candlelight.