Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 22, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The new leader of the U.S. bishops said that Pope Francis is calling Catholics to follow Christ in the Gospels through a personal encounter with the most vulnerable in society.
“Our Holy Father brings this sense of ‘going out,’” said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., newly-elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
In a Nov. 17 interview with CNA, Archbishop Kurtz noted that Pope Francis often speaks of the need “to accompany” people, in other words “to see the person first.”
“And that is really what Jesus did in the Gospels,” he explained. “So our Holy Father is telling us nothing more than to imitate Christ.”
The archbishop’s words echoed his previous comments at a Nov. 12 press conference in Baltimore, shortly after being elected president of the bishops’ conference.
At that time, he said that he saw Pope Francis as calling the bishops to respond pastorally to the various challenges posed by the “culture of indifference.”
Archbishop Kurtz added that he would work to “warm hearts and heal wounds” while defending human dignity wherever it is attacked, including the areas of human life, the sanctity of marriage and family, poverty, immigration, religious freedom and peace efforts.
The U.S. bishops’ new president spoke with CNA during a four day conference in Mexico City entitled “Our Lady of Guadalupe, Star of the New Evangelization on the American Continent.”
Described by organizers as a “pilgrimage and encounter,” the conference brought together bishops, priests, religious and lay leaders from across the Americas to consider the role and mission of the Church throughout the region, giving particular attention to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The event was sponsored by the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, the Knights of Columbus, and the Higher Institute of Guadalupan Studies.
Archbishop Kurtz said the gathering “is uniting us in the New Evangelization.”
He explained that “if we do not have a personal encounter with Christ, we have nothing to share.”
Referencing a video message from Pope Francis to conference participants, he said the Pontiff is instructing the faithful to “go out,” and “the first thing we need to do is get to know each other.”
The meeting in Mexico City is a chance to meet as “one America,” he explained, pointing out that Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI did not speak of North America and South America, but of “the Americas.”
Pope Francis is continuing this message, the archbishop said, by teaching us that “we are one family” and inviting us to “unite in becoming disciples and missionaries.”
These are simply two sides to the same coin, Archbishop Kurtz said, “to be a missionary, but first to be a disciple.”
Mexico City, Mexico, Nov 22, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Marc Ouellet, president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, presented a golden rose from Pope Francis to Our Lady of Guadalupe, calling the rose a sign of love, gratitude and enthusiasm.
“Our hearts more than our heads know the debt of love we owe you,” the cardinal said to the Blessed Mother. “This is why we beg you to receive from us a special gesture of grateful love.”
He prayed that the rose remind the Virgin Mary of “the gold, frankincense, and myrrh offered by the magi who once hastened to the manger to adore the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”
Cardinal Ouellet presented the golden rose Nov. 18 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Basilica in Mexico City as part of the “Our Lady of Guadalupe, Star of the New Evangelization” conference, led by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America and co-sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, the Guadalupe basilica and the Institute of Higher Guadalupan Studies.
The cardinal led the congregation in a reflection and heartfelt prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe before the presentation of the golden rose to the Virgin Mary, whose 500-year-old image is imprinted on the tilma of St. Juan Diego.
“May our unity and ardor in evangelization be eloquent signs of our living faith, in this Year of Faith when the whole Church rejoices to celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin and death, the victory of love over hatred and ingratitude,” he said.
“May our faith be creative and conquering!” the cardinal exhorted, stressing the need for a renewal in faith.
“Let us ask God together, you our Mother and we with you as a single family, to increase, purify and strengthen our faith, to make it more courageous and radiant, so that the world may believe in the name of Jesus, the Son of the living God, our sole and unique Savior,” he said.
He praised Mary’s famous response to the greeting of her cousin Elizabeth, the Magnificat, saying her prayer “does not cease to glorify God from age to age for his goodness and his mercy.”
“Compassionate and fruitful Mother, we owe to your loving presence in each community the fidelity of this continent to its Christian vocation. Your maternal love knows no boundaries, but you have watched over the Americas in a particular way.”
Cardinal Ouellet asked the Virgin Mary to help Catholics convert their hearts and spread the Gospel.
“We beg you to visit us again to illumine the path of evangelization in our age, which is so forgetful of God, for you are the living memory of his graces, the pole-star in the heaven of his wonders,” he said.
“Every one of your visits to our heart is an invitation to conversion, an incitement to live a more ardent charity toward all, but especially toward those who are suffering the most, those whom your son has privileged and whom he asks us to love without calculation or conditions.”
Cardinal Ouellet also voiced thanks that Pope Francis, the first Pope from the Americas, is “so zealously reviving evangelization among the poor.”
“Let us pray that he be loved and heard!” he said, asking that those who listened to the Pope’s July message at World Youth Day in Brazil remember the pontiff’s words and “commit themselves resolutely with Francis in the revolution of love.”
He further prayed that Our Lady of Guadalupe help the bishops of the Americas to listen to her message “with the same emotion” as “all the evangelizing saints who walked the same paths before us.”
“Blessed be God for your presence among us in this great holy house built by your care, Mother of the Church in the Americas,” the cardinal’s prayer concluded. “My soul magnifies the Lord!”
Vatican City, Nov 22, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Reflecting on the end of the Year of Faith, a Vatican official says the witness of those joining the Church under difficult circumstances should prompt others to commit more fully to their faith.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, the head of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, reflected that catechumens, “prior to receiving baptism...have had a long journey to make, but they are animated by a desire to become part of the Church.”
“So I think that for all of us Christians who are already baptized, the presence of catechumens tells us that we need to take the faith seriously,” he told CNA in a Nov. 18 interview.
“We don't always live the faith with courage,” the archbishop explained, and “frequently we hide it and many times in public places we prefer to keep silent about that which expresses our identity.”
In order to become Catholic, many catechumens “risk their own lives, but they make this decision. I think that we too must reflect seriously on this,” he emphasized, adding that they offer an example of “the courage that we must have to live the faith.”
This weekend during the close of the Year of Faith, more than 550 people from 47 different countries have gathered as part of their path to join the Catholic Church.
Benedict XVI instituted the Year of Faith – running from Oct. 11, 2012 until Nov. 24, 2013 – during his pontificate with the aim of fostering a fresh momentum in the New Evangelization.
“It will be a moment of grace and commitment to a more complete conversion to God, to strengthen our faith in Him and proclaim Him with joy to the people of our time,” the retired pontiff stated in the fall of 2011 upon the announcement of the event.
The archbishop noted that “although the Year of Faith ends, faith is a journey that continues throughout all of life.”
This past year, he reflected, “has been extremely positive, especially because we’ve experienced how God’s grace works (and) in what way we’re called to live the faith, abandoning ourselves more and more to the action of his grace.”
One particular aspect has been that of pilgrimage: more than 8.5 million persons have come to Rome “to profess the faith.” Many more “have been able to celebrate their faith in their communities and dioceses, in their parishes.”
Archbishop Fisichella says that the Year of Faith has also brought about a sense of hope.
“We normally underscore the aspects of crisis and other negative aspects, this year has told us also that we have to look at the positive signs that are given to us, to that capacity of true signs of the times that the Lord places before us and asks us to live with intensity.”
“It has been a moment in which we have touched with our hands the great vitality of the Church in living out the faith,” he added, explaining that it is “the Lord, the Spirit that guides us, so He changes our hearts, transforms us and we are converted.”
The president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization hopes that one fruit of the Year of Faith with be the realization of the baptismal call to share the Gospel, so that “all the people who are Christians in diverse ways of life” will recognize they are “called to be evangelists.”
This year has involved not only a celebration in which the Church has expressed her “joy in living out the faith,” but a recognition of the “duty that the Church will take on anew to carry the gospel to every creature.”
Vatican City, Nov 22, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - During a conference for health care workers, a Swiss doctor spoke of the world’s increasing elderly population, noting the importance of upholding human dignity in the treatment of common diseases.
"With that view, the utilitarian view, we drive inevitably in that direction…but it's not a sustainable solution. The sustainable solution comes from a different anthropologic view," Dr. Christoph von Ritter told CNA during a Nov. 21 interview.
Doctor Ritter, an M.D. from Lausanne University in Switzerland and who holds a Ph.D. from the LSU Medical Center in Shreveport, La., is present in Rome with numerous other professionals in the field for a Nov. 21 - Nov. 23 conference discussing proper methods of care for the aged.
Ritter, who is currently working as a doctor and professor at the University of Munich and teaching at a nearby hospital, gave a talk during the conference addressing the topic of finding a "sustainable concept for the care of elderly people with neurodegenerative disease."
Finding a "sustainable" solution to providing healthcare for each of the elderly in an aging population, Ritter admitted, "is not an easy question."
"It seems almost impossible with an elderly society, with an increasing number of neurodegenerative diseases to come up with a sustainable solution," he explained, however “the Christian anthropologic view is the basis.”
This view he urged, "has to be the basis, is the only basis to come about with a sustainable solution."
Addressing the fact that elderly who suffer from various illnesses are often euthanized, the doctor observed that "if you look at the current situation, then it seems that euthanasia is the only option because we are looking at a utilitarian, materialistic anthropologic view."
"This is a view that gives human dignity only to people that contribute to society and people that can defend their needs."
Ritter went on to say that often when we see the aged, particularly those with a neurodegenerative disease, "you of course see immediately that this is a person that cannot add something to the society."
With this approach, he highlighted that the person "would inevitably lose" their dignity, adding that "with that kind of anthropologic view, an elderly person has to leave society."
In order to find a "sustainable solution," the doctor pointed to "the Christian view," which understands that "man is an image of God."
"Then of course you don't have to add anything to society, you have an inherent dignity and that inherent dignity lifts you over any utilitarian thought."
"It may actually be an anthropologic view that turns things a little bit around," Ritter explained, adding that "now the elderly, sick person gives us a chance to bring a new meaning into the life of the care, the health care, giver."
In a Nov. 22 video message to the participants in the four-day Festival of Catholic Social Doctrine taking place this week in Verona, Italy, Pope Francis also spoke of the importance of upholding the dignity of those who are often seen without value in society.
"Today" he stated in the video, "the young and the old are considered disposable because they don't respond to the productive logic in a functionalistic view of society."
"They don't respond to any useful criteria for investment," continued the pontiff, adding that "in the market economy, they are not suited for production."
However, he stressed that "we should not forget that the young and the old bring, each one, a great richness: both are the future of the people."
Pope Francis went on to explain that the Social Doctrine of the Church "contains a wealth of reflections and hopes which are capable, even today, of guiding people and keeping them free."
"It requires courage, thought and the strength of faith to be inside of the market, guided by a conscience that is centered on the dignity of the person, not the ideology of money."
Washington D.C., Nov 22, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The 50th anniversary of U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s assassination has prompted many Catholics to remember the first Catholic president’s impact on American life and the deep grief and shock his death caused.
“So many people can recall exactly where they were when they got the news of Kennedy’s death,” Brendan Moore, national president of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, told CNA Nov. 20.
Moore, who now heads the Irish-American Catholic fraternal order, said he was a college freshman in Washington, D.C., when the president was killed in Dallas.
Moore said his reaction was “absolute shock and disbelief.”
“I think there was a tremendous, widespread sense of shock. Irish-Americans in particular, but I would have to say, the entire American nation, shared in this sorrow.”
Moore said it was “very significant” that Kennedy was the first Catholic U.S. president, but the president’s “idealism” resonated with all Americans.
“He provided us with a sense of enthusiasm, almost a contagiously upbeat approach to our country, as leading the world, and being a tremendous resource for other nations. He really encompassed a desire to work with other nations, not just to advance American interests, but to improve living conditions and relationships throughout the world.”
President Kennedy was also a member of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal charitable order.
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson of the Knights of Columbus on Nov. 22 remembered the fallen president as “a brother Knight” and “a man of faith who left an important legacy.”
Anderson encouraged Americans and their elected leaders to “remember and embrace” Kennedy’s vision of service to neighbor. He also praised the president’s vision of a country where rights are “absolute.” In President Kennedy’s words, these rights come “not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.”
Many U.S. leaders have already marked the anniversary of the president’s death.
President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Nov. 20 laid a wreath at Kennedy’s grave at Arlington National Cemetery, where an eternal flame marks his grave.
Washington, D.C.’s Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, which hosted President Kennedy’s funeral Mass on Nov. 25, 1963, will hold a Choral Mass of Remembrance at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 22, the anniversary of his death. The Mass will be celebrated by cathedral rector Monsignor W. Ronald Jameson. The homilist will be Father Bryan Hehir, professor of religion and public life at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians are hosting a memorial Mass and community reflections at Denver’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Nov. 22 at 5:30 p.m. local time.
Moore said that Kennedy’s Irish background “really resonated” with Irish-Americans.
“I think many, many people were able to identify with him even though he came from an extremely wealthy background,” he said.
The shock of Kennedy’s assassination was also “deeply felt” in Ireland, which sent an honor guard from the Irish Defense Forces to the president’s funeral at the request of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy.
“Even today, in traveling in Ireland, there are always fond memories of Jack Kennedy and how he really embraced his Irish identity,” said Moore.
He added that Kennedy was a member of a Hibernian division in Massachusetts.
“The very fact that he would have joined the AOH would indicate some sense of pride on his part, that he would want to belong to an Irish Catholic organization. That is something that we still write about, and think about, and talk about,” he said.
Moore said Kennedy’s legacy includes the Peace Corps, which sent young people on humanitarian work around the world, as well as the belief that “any group, regardless of who they are, regardless of their religion, can put forth a candidate who convinces the American electorate that he is well equipped to do the job.”
Catholic commentator George Weigel, writing on the website of the journal “First Things” Nov. 20, similarly praised Kennedy’s “idealism” and “elegance.”
He recounted his own memory of the assassination as a seventh grader in Baltimore. He witnessed his “tough-love” teacher, a young School Sister of Notre Dame, “sobbing, her face buried in her arms on her desk.”
However, Weigel suggested Kennedy’s legacy was not entirely positive.
“I fear that much of the Kennedy mythos is an obstacle to the flowering of Catholic witness in America,” he wrote.
Weigel said that Kennedy’s 1960 speech in Houston on relations between church and state, intended to alleviate the concerns of Protestant ministers about the role of his Catholic faith in the president’s office, also had the effect of “dramatically privatizing religious conviction and marginalizing its role in orienting a public official’s moral compass.”
This made Kennedy the “precursor” of the view that the American public sphere should not include “religiously-informed moral conviction,” he explained.
Washington D.C., Nov 22, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - More than 3,000 people used social media on Nov. 21 to call for the release of a pastor imprisoned in Iran, as part of a new campaign to support the pastor, a U.S. citizen and convert to Christianity.
“This represents a tremendous outpouring of concern for Pastor Saeed,” said Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, in a statement.
“It is clear that the power of social media is significant and that thousands of people want to send a message directly to the leadership in Iran: free Pastor Saeed – he is no threat to the security of Iran.”
Pastor Saeed Abedini has been imprisoned in Iran since September 2012. Charged with threatening national security, he has been sentenced to eight years in jail, although religious freedom advocates argue that his Christian faith is actually responsible for his arrest.
Raised a Muslim in Iran, Abedini converted to Christianity in 2000 and became a U.S. citizen in 2010 after marrying a U.S. citizen. He and his wife lived Idaho with their children.
After his conversion, he worked with house churches in Iran. Although the churches are technically legal, he work drew objections from the Iranian government, and he ended it in 2009. Since that time, he has worked solely with non-religious orphanages in the country. He was arrested during a trip to work with the orphanages.
Originally assigned to Evin Prison in the capital city of Tehran, family members have confirmed that Abedini has been moved to Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj. This move has prompted concern due to Rajai Sharhr’s reputation for violent prisoners and brutal guards.
The American Center for Law and Justice, which is representing Abedini's wife Naghmeh in the U.S., has been working to raise awareness of the pastor’s plight and increase international pressure on Iran to release him.
A Nov. 21 online media campaign asked supporters to send Twitter messages containing the hashtag "#SaveSaeed" to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, asking them to free Abedini.
The law center confirmed to CNA that 3,500 tweets had been sent by mid-afternoon on the first day of the campaign, and though it started in English, Sekulow announced in a second Nov. 21 press release that “it has been picked up in Iranian media.”
“We hope to see more tweets for Pastor Saeed’s freedom coming from Iranians and people all over the world. These efforts further support that the importance of religious freedom and Pastor Saeed’s freedom is not an issue just for Americans, but the entire world,” he said.
The media campaign is the latest initiative to support the imprisoned pastor. A petition calling for Abedini’s freedom has attracted more than 240,000 signatures, and both U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have also asked for his release, along with the U.S. Senate and members of the European Parliament.
Demonstrations of support for the pastor have been held throughout the United States. In addition, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee voted Nov. 21 on a resolution asking for the quick release of Abedini and calling for the designation of appropriate Iranian officials for human rights abuses as stipulated by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
“Pastor Abedini has endured beatings, psychological torture and worse because he will not deny his Christian faith,” said Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.), senior member of the committee, in a Nov. 20 statement. “He is now in a prison where we are very fearful for his life.”
“The Government of Iran’s actions toward Pastor Abedini violate its promise of safe passage to him in his humanitarian work,” Smith continued.
“But it also violates Iran’s official international commitment to respect religious freedom and due process of law, as enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – when Iran signs something, Iran should live up to it.”
Vatican City, Nov 22, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - In his daily Mass homily Pope Francis reflected on the many reasons that we gather together to pray, noting that of all of these, the praise and worship of God should take priority over everything else.
“Above all to worship, in the temple they worship the Lord. And this is the most important point,” the Pope emphasized in his Nov. 22 daily homily.
Pope Francis directed his reflections to those present in the Saint Martha guesthouse of the Vatican, where he has chosen to reside.
Centering his homily on the day’s first reading from the first book of Maccabees in which the ancient Jewish temple in Jerusalem was being re-built, the Pope highlighted how “The temple is the place where the community goes to pray, to praise the Lord, to render thanks, but above all to worship.”
This idea, continued the pontiff, also “applies to the liturgical ceremony,” asking those in attendance “in this liturgical ceremony, what is most important?”
“The songs, the rites,” he pressed, observing that all of these things are beautiful, but that “More important is the adoration: the whole community unites to see the altar where the sacrifice is celebrated and adored.”
Turning his attention to the fact that not everyone holds this worship as a first priority, the Pope voiced that “I believe – I say this humbly – that maybe we Christians have lost a little the sense of adoration.”
“We think: we go to the temple, we come together as brothers – that is good, it’s beautiful! – but the center is where God is. And we adore God.”
Recalling how Jesus in the Gospel chased away those who were doing business inside of the temple, Pope Francis asked if our churches and liturgical ceremonies today really allow us to worship and adore God.
Referring to how Saint Paul speaks of our bodies as “temples of the Holy Spirit,” the pontiff affirmed that “I am a temple. The Spirit of God is in me. And he also tells us: 'Do not grieve the Spirit of the Lord that is inside of you!'”
“Maybe we can't speak of adoration like before,” he noted, but we can speak “of a kind of adoration that is the heart.”
It is the heart “that seeks the spirit of the Lord…within himself and that knows God is inside of him, and the Holy Spirit is inside of him. Listens to him and follows him.”
To follow the Lord faithfully, noted the pontiff, requires a continuous purification, because we are sinners, adding that we do this through prayers, penance, and the Sacraments, particularly those of Reconciliation and the Eucharist.
The Pope concluded his homily by explaining that when the Apostle Paul speaks of the “glory of the temple, he speaks of this: all of the community in adoration, in prayer, in thanksgiving, in praise.”
“I pray with the Lord, who is inside of me because I am a ‘temple,’” he explained, “I listen, I am available.”
“May the Lord grant us this true meaning of the temple, to be able to go forward in our lives of adoration and of listening to the Word of God.”
Washington D.C., Nov 22, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - As the Year of Faith draws to a close, two U.S. priests reflected on faith and the new evangelization, noting the importance of faith as the way that human being come to know God.
“Faith is a way of knowing. It's not believing impossible things; rather it's a heightened way of knowing a heightened reality,” Fr. Raymond Gawronski, visiting scholar at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley, Calif., told CNA Nov. 21.
“It's, if you will, a faculty by which we know God, and the things of God. So faith is a way of knowing, a way of seeing…it's a higher way of seeing realities that are higher, and that require...another kind of sense, and that sense is what we call faith, which opens onto an unseen universe of God and his workings in the seen universe, in our world.”
“Without faith it's all over,” he emphasized. “We'd have no reason to live, without faith.”
Fr. Mark Morozowich, dean of the theology and religious studies school at Catholic University of America, said that “when Pope Benedict was calling the Church forwards to reflect upon faith, he really was calling on us to accentuate and deepen our understanding of this way of knowing God.”
This way of knowing, he told CNA, is “not dependent on our rationality, if you will; it's completely rational, but faith is something that's a gift given us by God.”
The Year of Faith lasts until Nov. 24, the feast of Christ the King. It began Oct. 11, 2012, and was announced by Benedict XVI.
The retired pontiff explained that it was intended to give “new impetus to the mission of the whole Church to lead men out of the desert in which they often find themselves, to the place of life, of friendship with Christ,” emphasizing the importance of the new evangelization and the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council.
The year began with a synod of bishops on the new evangelization; the apostolic exhortation which is its fruit, Evangelii Gaudium, will be released at the conclusion of the Year of Faith. The year also included the promulgation of Lumen fidei, an encyclical released by Pope Francis, and drafted by Benedict XVI.
Fr. Gawronski considered that Benedict's decision to hold a “year of faith” was “a way of highlighting certain aspects of our Catholic life that the Holy Father thinks was important at that time.”
Reflecting on the year's theme, faith, Fr. Gawronski said it is not “primarily subscribing to intellectual articles, or articles of dogma; that is the contents of the faith articulated in a certain way.” Rather, he emphasized faith as a sort of knowledge.
Noting the importance of the new evangelization for the Year of Faith, he affirmed that “we do need a new evangelization, and there's only one word that it's about, and that's love; the new evangelization is all about love in action, a love that is felt by people.”
“People know when they're loved, and Jesus said, 'by this will all men know that you are my disciples, that you love one another.'”
That, Fr. Gawronski said, is “the litmus test,” continuing that evangelization is not “in the first instance a matter of getting teachings out there, or correct philosophy, or metaphysics, let alone correct catechesis, or dogmas to people.”
While affirming the importance of teaching, he said that “in the end everyone needs to encounter Christ. And how do we encounter Christ?”
“Well, different ways, for some people it's mystical gifts, or sacraments, or teachings, but for everybody, it would be the love of Christ shown by his members for the people in the world: 'go out and make disciples of all nations.'”
Making disciple of all nations, Fr. Gawronski said, “means to lead them to know Christ; and I think the greatest proof of him, if you will, is the love that he brings from the Father into the world, and the love that his members in the Church bring to the world.”
He cited the importance of the love shown to people at Catholic schools and hospitals around the world, that has evangelized them, and drawn them to the person of Christ, because “in some way the love of Christ became accessible to them, in very concrete terms. And of course the heart of that though has to be an interpersonal experience of love, which people have from God.”
“So when I talk about the new evangelization for me, it has to mean we have to learn to love one another; and make that love palpable in the world.”
“Now, the name of love incarnate is Jesus, and the whole edifice of Catholicism, the teachings, doctrine, sacraments, all of that, feeds that relationship, guarantees it, anchors it, articulates it; that's absolutely, absolutely true.”
Yet he added that “it's as simple as giving a cup of cold water to a disciple. Jesus did not say blessed will you be if you put catechisms in people's hands, but blessed are you if you take care of people.”
This, Fr. Gawronski said, is “what Francis is so focusing on: the corporal works of mercy...I think we have have to listen to that. It doesn't exhaust the ways of serving, (but) it's his gift while he's Pope.”
Fr. Morozowich similarly touched on the importance of Pope Francis, as well as Benedict, and their particular gifts as related to the Year of Faith and to faith itself.
“When we look at the role of faith, and the person of Benedict, and the person of Francis, we have two human beings; this is one of the great things we have to remember...the Pope of Rome is a human being, after all, but the role of guidance of the Church is God's guidance; we have human beings who are walking in the shoes for a time, who are helping with the best of the gifts they've been given, as best they've been able to respond to those gifts.”
In fact, he added that Benedict's “dramatic stepping down” from the office of Bishop of Rome “accentuated” that the office “is not about him as a person, but it's about this great life of faith in Jesus Christ.
“As we celebrate this year of the faith, and as we see this encyclical that spans the two of them, we're reminded about that: that faith is that gift of God, that the papacy is a gift of god, and this is about how we see this mystical body on earth, coming together, and growing and sojourning.”
Reflecting on the fact that Benedict XVI also called the Year of Faith to reflect on the documents of Vatican II, Fr. Morozowich added that the Council stimulated the understanding of the Church as the “people of God” who “continues God's presence.”
Touching on the lasting effects of the Year of Faith, reaching out beyond its end on Sunday, Fr. Morozowich suggested that “it's just as we see the parable of the sower.”
“We're scattering the seeds, planting them, and then you just never know how God's gentle voice works.”