Rome, Italy, Oct 7, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In light of the jubilee instituted by Benedict XVI in honor of the Eucharistic miracle in Orvieto, Italy, the number of pilgrims coming to the area has increased, deepening the faith of those who come.
“It just makes you thankful that you can come somewhere where these things have happened that just reiterate the faith. It’s so real, it’s so tangible,” Jenna Schaffer of San Francisco, Calif., told CNA Oct. 6.
While he was Pope, Benedict XVI dedicated the years 2013 and 2014 as an Extraordinary Eucharistic Jubilee. The event celebrates the 750th Anniversary of the Bolsena Miracle of 1263, in which the Host began to bleed in the hands of the priest during the prayer of consecration.
Schaffer, who visited Orvieto with her mother and a close family friend, shared that she grew up Catholic, but has become especially close to God in recent years, and that being in the cathedral for her was “an honor.”
“It’s a great honor,” she emphasized, “to be able to hear and see what all of these people believe in and see it come true.”
The miracle occurred in 1263 when a German priest, Fr. Peter of Prague, stopped in Bolsena, Italy during a pilgrimage to Rome. The priest is described as having been pious, but found it difficult to believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
During his stay, the priest was saying Mass in the Church of St. Christina in Bolsena, and had just finished the words of consecration when blood began to seep from the Host onto the altar and corporal, a special linen used during Mass in order to catch any fragments of the host which might fall.
Fr. Peter immediately journeyed to Orvieto where Pope Urban VI was residing at the time, and informed the pontiff of what had just occurred.
After hearing the priest’s account, the pontiff absolved the priest for his disbelief and had the host and blood-stained corporal brought to the Cathedral in Orvieto where they are still venerated today, and instituted the feast of “Corpus Christi” a year later.
Upon seeing the corporal in the Cathedral, Schaffer said it was “almost like trying to grasp the concept of God himself.”
“It’s a lot to take in, and it gives you a lot to reflect on, and to sit there and see where it happened, see the dedication to it,” she said. “It’s just hard to grasp that concept that this happened here. It’s just an honor.”
“It really enriched my faith.”
Gianlucca Piazza, who works at the Orvieto cathedral as a part of their security personnel, told CNA in an Oct. 6 interview that although there are many people who visit the cathedral for “artistic purposes,” most of the pilgrims come “for religious purposes.”
In context of the Jubilee called by Benedict XVI, Piazza noted that the number of pilgrims coming to the area has increased, stating that the miracle is “especially important” for Catholics.
According to Piazza, the Orvieto Cathedral still functions as a Church, with daily Mass during the week and four Masses on Sunday for those who wish to attend.
Vatican City, Oct 7, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Vatican has announced that an official, commemorative coin marking the first year of Pope Francis' pontificate will be released on Oct. 8.
Collectors will be able to purchase the coin which on one side bears the image of Pope Francis giving a blessing and smiling with the Latin words, “Franciscus Pont. Max An. I.,” inscribed above.
The coin's other side contains the Holy Father's personal motto, “vidit ergo Jesus publicanum et quia miserando atque eligendo vidit, ait illi: 'sequere me,'” which translates to “Jesus therefore sees the tax collector, and since he sees by having mercy and by choosing, he says to him, 'follow me.'”
Near the text, this side of the coin visually depicts the Gospel scene from the book of Matthew, when Jesus first calls the disciple to follow him.
According to Vatican Radio, this passage is especially meaningful to Pope Francis, who on Saint Matthew's feast day in 1953, at the age of 17, felt called to enter religious life after experiencing the presence of God's love.
Designed by Mariangela Crisciotti, the coin is produced by the State Mint and Polygraphic Institute and will be available in gold, silver, and bronze.
Each coin will be stamped with the seal of the Secretary of State and of the Italian Mint, and will come with a certificate of authenticity.
Vatican City, Oct 7, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Reflecting on the story of the Good Samaritan, Pope Francis said in his homily at Mass today that we must be open to allowing God to intervene in our lives, leading us to deviate from our own arrangements.
“I say to myself, and I say to you: do we let God write our lives? Or do we want to do the writing ourselves?” Pope Francis asked, according to Vatican Radio.
“Be docile to the Word of God … have the capacity to hear his voice and to listen to it.”
In his Oct. 7 homily at the chapel of the Vatican's Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis discussed the story of Jonah fleeing from God, as well as that of the priest and Levite who passed by a half-dead man on the road, using them to demonstrate both direct and “sophisticated” ways of fleeing from God.
“The flight from God. You can flee from God, being Christian, being Catholic … being a priest, bishop, Pope … we all, we all are able to flee from God.”
“It is a daily temptation,” he reflected. “To not listen to God, not listen to his voice, not hear in one's heart his proposal, his invitation.”
Jonah's effort to escape God was “direct” and born of a desire to not be “bothered,” the Pope said, but “there are other ways to flee from God, a bit more educated, a bit more sophisticated.”
He discussed the priest mentioned in the Gospel who passed by the half-dead man – “a worthy priest, precisely in a cassock, good, very good” – who saw the man and thought “I will be late for Mass.”
“And he went on his way,” Pope Francis said. “He did not hear the voice of God there.”
Similarly, the Bishop of Rome taught, when the Levite passed by, he considered that if he got involved with the nearly-dead man, he might become part of a court scene, and he too passed on, fleeing “this voice of God.”
In contrast to these, Pope Francis said, “one only has the capacity to understand the voice of God, one who habitually flees from God, a sinner” – the Samaritan.
This Samaritan, he said, is “far from God,” yet “he heard the voice of God and drew near.” He “was not habituated to religious practices, to the moral life, even theologically he was wrong,” because Samaritans worshiped God in a place where God did not will to be worshiped.
Despite all this, Pope Francis said, the Samaritan “understood that God was calling him, and he did not flee.” Indeed he spent both his money and time on the man: “he his whole evening.”
Meanwhile, Pope Francis said, “the priest arrived in time for the Holy Mass, and all the faithful were content; the Levite had, the following day, a tranquil day, according with what he had planned to do,” since he had not involved himself with the half-dead man.
Why, the Pope asked, did Jonah, the priest, and the Levite all flee from God?
“Because their hearts were closed, and when your heart is closed, you cannot hear the voice of God. Instead, a Samaritan as he went on his way, 'saw him and had compassion': his heart was open, he was human. And humanity drew him near” to God.
Pope Francis stressed the importance of being attached to God himself, not to the things of God or to good acts.
“Jonah had a plan for his life: he wanted to write his own life,” as did the priest and the Levite: “a plan of work.”
The Samaritan, however, let God write his life. “He changed everything, that night, because the Lord has drawn near in the person of this poor man, wounded, badly wounded, thrown on the way.”
“Do you have the capacity to find the Word of God in the story of each day?” Pope Francis asked in conclusion.
“Or are your ideas the ones that you hold up, and you do not let the surprises of the Lord speak to you?”
Los Angeles, Calif., Oct 7, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles applauded a new California law that will allow undocumented migrants to receive state driver’s licenses, while calling for greater federal reform.
“Driving is one of the basic necessities of life. So this new law is going to make a big difference for millions of people in their everyday lives,” Archbishop Gomez told participants of an Oct. 3 rally at Los Angeles City Hall.
“It will make it easier for them to get to work, to go to school, to go the store, to get to church. This bill will make our families, our communities and our economy stronger.”
California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill on Oct. 3 to allow permits for California residents who are in the country illegally, after they pass a driving test.
The legislation was praised as a landmark bill that could spark further reform across the country and make the roads of California safer. It is estimated that more than one million people may be able to gain licenses under the new law.
However, Archbishop Gomez noted, the legislation is “still only a half-measure” because the U.S. immigration system is “totally broken” and can only be fixed by “real and comprehensive” reform at the national level.
“We need immigration reform that keeps families together, that gives rights to workers, and that provides a generous path to citizenship,” he said, adding that comprehensive immigration reform would help immigrants join in the American promise and “live with the dignity that God intends for them.”
In a Sept. 30 letter to members of Congress, Archbishop Gomez joined other leaders of the U.S. bishops’ conference in urging that the government shutdown be quickly resolved so that Congress can “continue the essential task of immigration reform.”
Other bishops throughout the country have also spoken up on the need for reform, stressing the gravity of the issue for the nation as a whole.
“Our current immigration laws do not do enough to respect and protect the God-given dignity all of us have received, and they no longer correspond to the modern realities of globalized economies,” Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver and Bishop Michael J. Sheridan of Colorado Springs said in an Oct. 1 pastoral letter to Catholics in the state of Colorado.
Entitled “Immigration and Our Nation's Future,” the letter established that the human person must be the central concern in any consideration about immigration policy.
The bishops offered a framework build on Catholic social teaching, but declined to endorse any particular policy or party. Rather, they focused on the need to see immigrants, regardless of their legal status, as neighbors and to welcome them in Jesus' name.
They emphasized the importance of “both justice and mercy” in addressing the issue of immigration.
“Every American has a duty to help bring about reform in this arena, keeping in mind Jesus’ exhortation to help the poor, the hungry, the stranger and the imprisoned,” they said, warning against attempts to over simply the situation into an “us vs. them” scenario.
“We can narrowly brand undocumented immigrants as ‘lawbreakers’ or ‘illegals,’ and demand that the full weight of the law be used to keep them out,” the bishops said. “But if we approach this issue with a Catholic worldview, that is, if we think with the Church and try to see immigrants through the eyes of Christ, then a shift should occur in our minds and hearts.”
Countries have a duty to treat immigrants “as people in whom the face of Christ can be seen,” Archbishop Aquila and Bishop Sheridan said. Christian responses to immigrants must feature “hospitality” and reject “xenophobia and racism.”
The bishops acknowledged a legitimate right to national borders, as well as the need to respect local laws. At the same time, they said, migration in order to find better conditions for one’s family is a right, and refugees and asylum seekers should be given protection.
They stressed the dignity of the migrating human person and the importance of the common good in addressing the complex matter of immigration policy.
Vatican City, Oct 7, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Following skepticism of the accuracy of a recent interview with Pope Francis, several sources have suggested that the printed text, while overall faithful to the Pope's thought, may not have captured his exact words.
“Eugenio Scalfari did not tape his interview with Pope Francis, nor did he take notes, so the text was an after-the-fact reconstruction. Such texts run the risk of either missing some key details or conflating various moments or events recounted during the oral interview,” wrote Father Thomas Rosica, who helps the Vatican press office conduct its English-language business, on Oct. 5.
“Scalfari has stated that he showed the text to Francis for his approval, but it’s not clear how closely the pope read it.”
Scalfari, the editor of the Italian publication La Repubblica and an atheist, conducted an interview with Pope Francis, published Oct. 1.
On Oct. 3, staff at La Repubblica told Jean-Marie Guénois, deputy editor of the French daily Le Figaro, that “the interview was not recorded, nor were notes taken. What is reflected in the interview is fruit of the memory of that which the Pope and Scalfari said during their encounter.”
La Repubblica continued, saying that “the text, once completed by Scalfari and before its publication, was sent to Pope Francis who approved it.”
One of the main points of skepticism surrounding the interview's details is associated with the recounting of Pope Francis' supposed “mystical experience” after his election as Pope.
The day after the interview was released, Vatican observer Andrea Tornielli wrote in La Stampa that in an “attentive reading of the interview there are particulars which don't add up.” He said that his doubts were “consolidated” by what was related about the “circumstances of the election.”
The interview published in La Repubblica quoted Pope Francis as saying that before he accepted his election, he left the Sistine Chapel for a moment to go to a small room off the balcony of St. Peter's and there had a mystical experience which left him with peace.
“It is known,” Tornielli wrote in response, “that there are no rooms next to the balcony overlooking the square … this episode can be, in my opinion, an indicator of the fact that the published text of La Repubblica does not represent an exact, word-for-word reconstruction of the dialogue with Scalfari.”
Also on Oct. 2, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi told journalists that the “sense” of what Pope Francis said in Scalfari's interview in La Repubblica was accurate, but would not confirm that each word was in fact spoken by the Pope.
Nonetheless, he said that if Pope Francis had been “gravely misrepresented,” he would have said so.
In fact, the text of the interview is currently posted on the Vatican's website, in Italian, Portuguese and Spanish, among the Pope's speeches.
In his own statement, Fr. Rosica noted that Fr. Lombardi has “attested to the overall 'trustworthiness' of the Scalfari interview.”
And yet, he continued, “cardinals who witnessed the events have categorically stated that the newly elected Pope never left the Sistine chapel for a period of reflection before finally accepting the papacy other than his entering the ‘Room of tears’ for vesting.”
“The so-called 'mystical moment' of Pope Francis is most probably referring to the moment of prayer in the Pauline Chapel,” Fr. Rosica said, referring to Pope Francis' time of prayer before ascending to the balcony of St. Peter's square and after having accepted the Petrine office and greeting his brother cardinals.