Vatican City, Mar 11, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
On March 8, dozens packed into the Vatican's tiny San Carlo Cinema for what was hailed as a “unique storytelling event” on the dramatic narratives of women who give their lives in service to the Church.
Throughout the afternoon, 10 different women from around the world stepped onto the darkened stage to tell about their life and work.
Despite the vast difference in their experiences – ranging from working with drug addicts and homeless in Rome's city center to serving the marginalized in rural Nigeria – each woman expressed her joy in serving Christ in his Church.
“There needs to be a venue for sharing the inspiring stories and life-giving stories of women and people around the world that don’t have that opportunity. I hope this helps,” emcee Andrea Hattler Bramson, President of the Loyola Foundation, told CNA on March 8.
The Voices of Faith initiative was begun by Chantal Gotz, executive director of the Catholic philanthropic Fidel Götz Foundation, and project manager Giovanna Abbiati, in the hope of promoting “extraordinary talent, courage and positive social contributions of Catholic women around the world.” The Pontifical Council for Social Communications provided the venue for Saturday’s event.
As lay and religious women shared their stories, the those in the audience were often moved to tears.
Alessandra Melidoz of New Horizons, an outreach to those caught in drug addiction, prostitution and other serious difficulties, spoke about the organization’s founder, Chiara Amirante.
Amirante found herself outside of Rome’s Termini train station, a neighborhood filled with crime. Graffitied onto a wall was the phrase, “despite your indifference, we exist.”
For Amirante, recounted Melidoz, this was a turning point. The foundress began to visit with the homeless there, “to listen to their stories.” She discovered that the young people “had not been loved, or were loved too little, so their hearts are hard.”
“Their pain is so huge that they need drugs and alcohol,” said Melidoz. “They can’t manage the emptiness that they find within themselves.”
“They are not missing bread, but affection. We take them by the hand, we pray with them,” she shared. “What we can do is bring them before Jesus and show them what changed our lives.”
Through the outreach of those at New Horizons, those caught in difficult circumstances learn that “there is Somebody who loves them through us.”
Sr. Caritas Chinwen offered the audience a glimpse of the joy of her faith as she stepped onto the stage dressed in the colorful habit of her community. The energetic sister of the Emmanuel Family Institute sang a song in celebration of motherhood in her native language.
Despite their work with the extremely impoverished and marginalized people in Nigeria, “we are joyful” she proclaimed.
“Today is my first time speaking in public. It's my first time coming out from Nigeria. I’ve not been out from Nigeria...I’m very very happy. It’s a privilege,” she told CNA.
Other voices offered a challenge to those at the Cinema.
Soft-spoken Augustinian Sister Abir Hanna invited attendees to consider the beauty of contemplative prayer, using the “daring image” of the uterus – a “tiny organ” that is “hidden, but irreplaceable.” Like the womb of the mother, the Church is a “space for encounter,” she explained.
Describing her spiritual mission, Sr. Hanna said, “I too am called to be a womb and a vessel,” a “place of mission…not just intercession, but gestation,” bringing souls to new life in Christ.
Another contemplative, Sister Cristiana Dobner, challenged participants at the end of her poetic presentation, “Does our face express His face? This is the question.”
Sabrina Moranti, mother of nine, shared her testimony of faith, recounting how at age 25 she was disillusioned with God and the church, but went to confession because her then-boyfriend, now husband, encouraged her to go before attending mass one day.
As she spoke to the elderly priest in the confessional, he began to weep. Moranti was touched by his tears and felt the overwhelming presence of God. After that, she felt called to follow God faithfully, despite the challenges that came with family life.
“Mothers today are frightened, and rightly so,” she admitted, “but the fact that God was patient and loving with me allows me to be so with my children,” she explained, noting the great opportunity to respond to God that comes with motherhood.
“The story of the human being is born when the mother says 'yes' to God,” she explained.
The Voices of Faith storytelling event on March 8 was the group’s first initiative, though organizers are hopeful for future opportunities.
Colombo, Sri Lanka, Mar 11, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The 80th annual “Battle of the Saints”, a cricket match between rival schools in Sri Lanka’s Colombo archdiocese, ended in a draw this weekend.
Cricket, a bat-and-ball game popular in the U.K. and its former colonies, is the most popular sport in Sri Lanka. Each March and April, historically rival secondary schools play games for the “Big Match” season.
St. Peter’s College and St. Joseph’s College, both located in Colombo, played March 7-8 at P. Sara Oval Stadium in the “Battle of the Saints” for the Friar Maurice Legoc Trophy; but the match ended in a draw due to heavy rains which limited play.
“Both renowned institutions have a historical Catholic legacy and are acclaimed for their academic excellence and Christian discipline,” Fr. Gamini Fernando, episcopal vicar of the Archdiocese of Colombo, told CNA Mar 5.
“Sport plays an important role in the formation of students’ mental and physical discipline, and forms them to be responsible citizens of the country,” he added.
In a Feb. 26 news conference ahead of the match, Fr. Trevis Gabriel, rector of St. Joseph’s, said, “we follow the historic tradition that the two school teams play in a friendly manner.”
“It is showing our unity, fellowship, and our oneness to all those around us, because we all belong to one Catholic family,” he said.
Fr. Gabriel added that while each team strives to win the trophy, the larger point is to come together to see a good cricket match, and to display unity and friendship between the schools.
Cricket is played with teams of 11 on an oval field, at the center of which is a “pitch.” Each team takes turn at batting, attempting to score runs, while the other team fields.
The Battle of the Saints is a “limited overs” match: the set of deliveries from the bowler (pitcher) is limited. This match limits the first inning to 60 overs, and each day may have only 105 overs. This special rule is meant to encourage a result in the game, which can often end in a draw.
In the 80 years of the Battle of the Saints, St. Joseph’s has won 20 matches, to the Peterites’ 17, according to The Times of Sri Lanka.
The Battle of the Saints was begun in 1933 by Fr. Maurice Legoc, who rectored both St. Joseph’s and St. Peter’s. Many of the national and international Sri Lankan cricketers are alumni of the two schools.
Fr. Fernando commented that the teams “are not exclusively Catholic, having members of different religions. But in play they forget their differences, and concentrate on play.”
He highlighted that this contributes to a national integration of the players and spectators, creating a harmonious interreligious dialogue and unity, spreading Catholic values imbibed in their academic formation.
Fr. Fernando noted that the matches are also relayed live on television and radio, bringing excitement and “uniting the nation.”
Sri Lanka suffered a civil war for nearly 30 years, which ended in 2009. Cricket’s ability to unite Sri Lankans across geographical and religious divides has been important for the nation in recent years.
Vatican City, Mar 11, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone has shared some of his memories of the meetings held in preparation for the 2013 conclave, recounting that Cardinal Bergoglio’s interventions emphasized the need to focus on Christ.
“The activities and the approach of the pontificate that is now being revealed in Pope Francis’ style” are an outcome of the pre-conclave meetings, the Vatican’s former secretary of state told CNA March 7.
Cardinal Bertone was one of the main characters of the transition between the papacies of Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. Having served as secretary of state under Benedict from 2006, he served as Camerlengo of the Apostolic Chamber during the sede vacante, and briefly resumed as Pope Francis’ secretary of state, until his retirement Oct. 15, 2013.
A year on from the election of Pope Francis, Cardinal Bertone said a major item of discussion during the pre-conclave meetings was “the setting of a new dialogue with society, in order to reduce the distance of mentality between the Church and new generations.”
During the meetings, it was made clear that “the Church had to focus on an awakening of faith and love by offering to mankind the essential doctrine, together with a sense of divine mercy.”
Cardinal Bertone then stressed that the Church “must not fear being the field hospital of humanity, in Pope Francis’ words.”
Pope Francis’ description of the Church as field hospital reminded the cardinal of a poem by Nino Costa, a poet from Piedmont – the Italian region from which he hails.
“Writing about the First World War, Nino Costa imagines a woman walking through a field full of injured and dying people. The woman is the Virgin Mary, but it can be perfectly fitted with the image of the Church, which consoles, encourages, heals.”
According to this view, the Church should “concretely respond to those who spontaneously set themselves at the margins of the Church, perhaps because of the defaults and defects of the men and women of the same Church.”
Given the present crisis of faith, the cardinals’ speeches “considered the occasions, the opportunities, the new perspectives opening up to the Church,” Cardinal Bertone recounted.
According to the emeritus secretary of state, the new evangelization was another major topic discussed during the pre-conclave meetings.
Cardinal Bergoglio zeroed in on the new evangelization in one of his interventions during the pre-conclave meetings.
Cardinal Bertone explained, “Cardinal Bergoglio spoke about a new evangelization brought toward the peripheries of the Church. A Church – he said several times – called to go out from itself to evangelize.”
“It was a no to the self-referentiality of the Church, and a yes to a Church going out, dialoguing with the world, moving toward everyone.”
Cardinal Bertone underscored that “the new Pope must be a man that arouses the contemplation of Jesus Christ.”
Conceding that “every Pope must do this,” yet – he added – “Jorge Mario Bergoglio accentuated the need to re-focus everything on Christ.”
Editor's Note: This is the first of three articles to be published featuring material from CNA's March 7 interview with Cardinal Bertone. To read the second, please click here, and for the third, here.
Vatican City, Mar 11, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The personal notes of JPII published by former secretary Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, which the pontiff asked to be burned, reveal the depth of the Blessed's keen knowledge of the mystery of the Trinity.
Entitled “I am so much in God’s hands: Personal records 1962-2003,” the book was published by Krakow-based publisher Znak on Feb. 12, and contains 639 pages of meditations and some photos and scans of the pages from two of the late Pope's notebooks, one beginning in 1962 and the other in 1985, which were both published in Italy by the Archdiocese of Milan.
Coming from one of the notebooks, the pontiff writes on the identity of the Trinity in three separate meditations, one focusing on God the Father, one on the Son, and another on the Holy Spirit.
“The analogy of the fatherhood which is given to us in the created world, is variously reached and at the same time is very poor and out of proportion in comparison with that reality of the 'Father' in God,” the soon-to-be Saint wrote.
“God in some ways identifies with the Father, and at the same time He exceeds all that we can think of regarding the subject of 'father' in the dimension of the creature, especially in the dimension of a human reality.”
A father, he continued, “is one who gives life, who hands down humanity and who conditions its development, who is a point of reference for a child, and a correlator of the certainty of existence and good.”
Explaining how God is “mysterious” in both the world and in Creation, the pontiff reflected that this mystery “is beyond everything” and that it “is cleared up with one reference: it is the reference of Christ.”
“In Christ’s consciousness as well as in His mission and the world, the Father completely obscures 'the Absolute,' although at the same time it absorbs Him in a certain way.”
He then highlighted that if a person is able to think about God in terms of “the Absolute” and the “height of existence,” it is only possible “on the condition that they accept, after Christ, the truth about Love.”
“Outside the 'mystery of the Father,'” the Blessed emphasized, “there is no evolution of man in truth and love.”
Referring to the figure of God the Son in another personal note, Bl. John Paul II recalled Jesus' words when he said that “anyone who has seen me has seen the Father,” and that “the Father and I are one.”
“These words are the key of the meditation,” he affirmed, observing that “the Son appears as a 'visibility' of the Father, not only His invisible Image that is the Consubstantial Word, but also his 'revelation' in the history of mankind, which enters in becoming a Man.”
“In this ultimate closeness to a man, to mankind, to history, Jesus” acts “above all as Consubstantial to the Father (Consubstantialis),” the Pope reflected, drawing attention to the “thorough way” in which the Person of Jesus enters into human history.
Noting how this closeness enters firstly “in the event of the Cross, a fulfilling sacrifice which has salvific power,” he emphasized that the Father is still becoming visible, and that “the ‘mystery of bearing the Son’ is ‘unfathomable.’”
“The Son is eternally Consubstantial – and as eternally the Son, He is bearing by the father. There is dependence, giving birth is a sign of consubstantial-ness between the Son and the Father – and also between the Holy Spirit in the unity of the Divine.”
Reflecting on the Holy Spirit in a third meditation, Pope John Paul II noted how “God is a spirit,” and that all who worship him do so “in spirit and in truth.”
“This reality is at the same time ‘purely’ spiritual and ‘purely’ personal,” he reflected, observing how “the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are a spirit.”
Highlighting how “the Spirit permeates everything,” including “the depths of God,” the Blessed explained that “we know He is Holy, that He is a Person, as are the Father and the Son. We know that He ‘proceeds’ from the Father and the Son as Love. God is love.”
“The Holy Spirit is love of the Father and the Son. Therefore He is ‘Holy,’ as holiness is love.”
In his meditation, Bl. John Paul II went on to explain that the “mutual giving of the Father to the Son and the Son to the Father in the Holy Spirit…is a complete mystery of faith.”
Observing how “the Holy Spirit is a ‘hidden God’ (Deus absconditus),” the pontiff wrote that “If He is an internal gift with whom the Father and the Son are united – He especially has been revealed to man as a Gift.”
“At the cost of the Son’s Passion and Death” the Holy Spirit becomes “a gift for souls” he noted, emphasizing that “‘God’s Love is spilled in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us’” as a gift, and reveals to us both truth and love.
“As long as the Son, Christ, consists of the ‘visibility’ of God and His ‘historicity’ – the Holy Spirit re-introduces us to His ‘invisibility.’”
Explaining that that the Holy Spirit “is above all an Action,” the pontiff emphasized that “He is Effectiveness and Bearing fruit – not entering into the sphere of our sight. His action in the soul, however effective and basic, is always action of the Invisible in the invisible.”
The meditations included in this piece were translated from the original Polish by Anna Artymiak, Polish correspondent to the Vatican, reporting from Rome.
[This article is the first in a two-part series providing excerpts of personal notes written by Bl. John Paul II dating between July 1962 when he was auxiliary bishop of Krakow, to March 2003, two years before his death and in the 25th year of his service as Roman Pontiff.]
Please see below for the full text of the meditations provided in this article:
1st step GOD THE FATHER
Meditatio de mysterio Patris [Meditation on the mystery of the Father]
(cfr. Mystere du Pere [cf. Mystery of the Father] Fr. Guillou read on vacation). The analogy of the fatherhood which is given to us in the created world, is variously reached and at the same time is very poor and out of proportion in comparison with that reality of the “Father” in God. God in some ways identifies with the Father, and at the same time He exceeds all that we can think of regarding the subject of “father” in the dimension of the creature, especially in the dimension of a human reality. A father is one who gives life, who hands down humanity and who conditions its development, who is a point of reference for a child, and a correlator of the certainty of existence and good. The Father – God, is actually mysterious in the terms of the world and the Creation. His is the Mystery which is beyond everything and that conditions everything. This Mystery is cleared up with one reference: it is the reference of Christ – “no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Thanks to Christ, we also “know” the Father in some way, and we have access to Him. In Christ’s consciousness as well as in His mission and the world, the Father completely obscures “the Absolute,” although at the same time it absorbs Him in a certain way. The Father is also the Creator and the Lord (I praise You, father, Lord of heaven and earth, because … Mt 11.25). He is the Height of existence and good, He is the Beginning, final Support, Certainty and Fulfillment all the fulfillments. If a person can think about Him reasonably in the terms of the Absolute, it is possible only on the condition that they accept, after Christ, the truth about Love. The Father, He is the Fulfillment of Truth and Goodness, in a typical only-to-Him way, accepting the world since the reality of Creation, giving existence – to the man whom He creates “in his own image and his likeness,” granting to him participation in His Divinity. He is constantly present in everything – being in Creation in the deepest way, especially in man – out of our created imagination and thought. At the same time only He is the anchor of self-confidence and the condition of the development of everything, especially of a man (cfr. education). Outside the “mystery of the Father,” there is no evolution of man in truth and love. (cfr. Guillou’s thesis).
2nd STEP THE SON OF GOD
Morning meditation (longer) on the mystery of the Son.
Jesus the Lord said “anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” and at another time “the Father and I are one.” These words are the key of the meditation. The Son appears as a “visibility” of the Father, not only His invisible Image that is the Consubstantial Word, but also his “revelation” in the history of mankind, which enters in becoming a Man. God – Man: the God of history arranges the whole history of salvation and concentrates it around Himself. In this ultimate closeness to a man, to mankind, to history, Jesus – God, fully the Son to man, to humankind, to history, Jesus, God and Son acts above all as Consubstantial to the Father (Consubstantialis). This divine act, which is a result of his Person, enters in the most thorough way into the history of mankind, from Bethlehem until Calvary. First of all, it enters in the event of the Cross, a fulfilling sacrifice which has salvific power. But the whole human background of these events, life and death, do not cover the God-Son. Meditation with some special power showed me His reality, in which the Father became (and still is becoming) visible in a special way. Unfathomable is that mystery of bearing the Son – the Word. Here the analogy with human bearing “according to the body” disappoints in a special way. The Son is eternally Consubstantial – and as eternally the Son, He is bearing by the father. There is dependence, giving the birth is a sign of consubstantial-ness between the Son and the Father – and also between the Holy Spirit in the unity of the Divine.
3rd STEP THE HOLY SPIRIT
Meditation (longer) on the mystery of the Holy Spirit.
“God is a Spirit – and truly worshippers shall worship him in spirit and in truth (J)”. Our notion of God’s spirituality develops over the poor experiences of our own human spirituality. This reality is at the same time “purely” spiritual and “purely” personal. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are a spirit. “The Spirit permeates everything, He permeates the depths of God.” We know He is Holy, that He is a Person, as are the Father and the Son. We know that He “proceeds” from the Father and the Son as Love. God is love. The Holy Spirit is love of the Father and the Son. Therefore He is “Holy,” as holiness is love. His “proceeding” from the Father and the Son is at the same time remaining in the unity of the Father and the Son, and – to a certain extent – constituting that unity. Yet this mutual giving of the Father to the Son and the Son to the Father in the Holy Spirit – and mutual “breath” of that Spirit, is a complete mystery of faith. The Holy Spirit is a “hidden God” (Deus absconditus). If He is an internal gift with whom the Father and the Son are united – He especially has been revealed to man as a Gift. This is revealed by Christ, who described his Passion and Death as a price for that Gift for man (“if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (J). Here we already pass from the “Trinitas theologica” [“theological Trinity”] to the “Trinitas oeconomica” [“economic Trinity”]: the acting of Persons in the work of human salvation. The Holy Spirit – at the cost of the Son’s Passion and Death – becomes a gift for souls: “he will guide you into all truth...” “God’s Love is spilled in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us:” the Holy Spirit is the source of man’s holiness, and holiness consists of truth and love. In them is expressed the true nature of “spirituality” and holiness, also on the level of man. In one way, we know more about the Holy Spirit from the Revelation in the “economic” order than in the “theological” order. Also, in the economic order, He is still “Deus absconditus.” As long as the Son, Christ, consists of the “visibility” of God and His “historicity” – the Holy Spirit re-introduces us to His “invisibility.” And after all, He is above all an Action, He is Effectiveness and Bearing fruit – not entering into the sphere of our sight. His action in the soul, however effective and basic, is always action of the Invisible in the invisible.
Vatican City, Mar 11, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In honor of the one year anniversary of Pope Francis’ election as Bishop of Rome, the Vatican website has published a special online book, compiled of various phrases he has spoken throughout the year.
Entitled “Do we want to be holy? Yes or no?” the online publication can be found on the Vatican’s official website by clicking on one’s language of choice, after which a pop-up window appears with the book’s cover and title.
Beginning with the Pope’s familiar plea for the faithful not to be “men and women of sadness” because “a Christian can never be sad,” the virtual memoir offers short quotes by Pope Francis taken from his homilies, speeches and addresses given throughout the year.
Below each quote is a link to the exact text from which it has been extracted, and each phrase is accompanied by a picture of him on the adjacent page, courtesy of Vatican daily news source L’Osservatore Romano.
The book commemorates the pontiff’s election as Bishop of Rome on March 13 of last year, on which his opening words as Pope during his first Urbi et Orbi blessing already foreshadowed the unique tone that has defined much of his impactful first year as head of the Catholic Church.
During the speech, he observed how “it was the duty of the Conclave to give Rome a Bishop,” and that “It seems that my brother Cardinals have gone to the ends of the earth to get one...”
“But here we are...I thank you for your welcome,” the newly-elected pontiff expressed, adding that “The diocesan community of Rome now has its Bishop. Thank you!”
Offering his first moment of prayer for retired pontiff Benedict XVI, Pope Francis led his new flock in the traditional prayers of the blessing, consisting of an Our Father, Hail Mary and a Glory Be.
Afterwards, he explained to the thousands gathered below in St. Peter’s Square that “now, we take up this journey: Bishop and People,” noting that it is a “journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches.”
“A journey of fraternity, of love, of trust among us. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world, that there may be a great spirit of fraternity.”
Pausing for a moment before giving his official first blessing as Bishop of Rome to the Church and to the world, Pope Francis asked for a special “favor” which has become a common request and a unique trait of his pontificate.
“Before the Bishop blesses his people, I ask you to pray to the Lord that he will bless me: the prayer of the people asking the blessing for their Bishop. Let us make, in silence, this prayer: your prayer over me.”
Extending his blessing then to all “men and women of good will” the new pontiff thanked those gathered again for their welcome, stating that “we will see each other soon,” and wishing them “good night and sleep well!”
The special commemorative book can be found on the Vatican website under the French, German, Italian, English, Spanish and Portuguese sections by either clicking on the pop-up window, or on the image of the Pope himself on the homepage.
Caracas, Venezuela, Mar 11, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Cardinal Jorge Urosa Sabino of Caracas again urged peace amid increasing conflict in Venezuela, where at least 20 people have been killed in student protests over the past several weeks.
“We wish to reiterate our call to all the inhabitants of Caracas, regardless of their political sympathies, to live together in peace,” he said in a March 7 statement.
Student protests began to spark across the nation's cities early last month but escalated when three people were killed. The National Guard has been criticized for an unnecessarily strong response to demonstrators, who are urging greater protection of freedom of speech, better security and an end to goods shortages.
The cardinal said a “serious, impartial and objective investigation” should take place to determine those responsible for the deaths of protestors. “We deplore these deaths and we offer our condolences to the family members and friends of those who have died since the beginning of the conflict.”
Recalling the statements made by the leadership of the Venezuelan Bishops' Conference in February, Cardinal Urosa joined in the call for “dialogue between the diverse sectors: students, followers of the opposition, pro-government supporters and the National Government, which oversees the state security forces.”
“In those statements, in addition to asserting the legitimate and constitutional right of students, of young people and of citizens in general to protest and to engage in peaceful demonstrations, the bishops highlighted the need for the government to listen to the demands of the protestors and to meet their just demands by effectively responding to the reasons for the protests.”
Cardinal Urosa condemned the attacks against protestors, “presumably by state security officials or by armed civilians, as well as alleged torture and violations of the rights of those detained.”
“We also reject the deaths caused by roadblocks presumably put in place by protestors, and the disproportionate use of force in repressive actions, which has lead to some deaths and a large number of wounded,” he said.
The cardinal lamented that repressive actions “have continued, despite the dialogue initiated on Feb. 26 in the Peace Conference proposed by the President of the Republic.”
“What is needed now is serenity, the collaboration of all citizens to foster harmony and to avoid violent acts that threaten the public order or endanger the lives of persons, as well as real willingness on the part of the government to resolve the current crisis.”
“We invoke the help of God upon our beloved Venezuela, and we exhort all Catholics, regardless of their political sympathies, to set aside any negative sentiment,” he said.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Mar 11, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A group of young people from around the world have launched a campaign called Grazie Francesco – Thank You Francis – to send the Pope messages marking the first year of his pontificate March 13.
Thousands of messages from around the world in eight different languages can be read on the campaign's website, which was created by the Argentinian group Lindo Lio and inspired by last summer's World Youth Day Rio.
The messages are taken from Facebook or Twitter and should carry the hash tag #ThanksFrancis, or the equivalent in Italian, Arab, German, French, Portuguese or Polish. Anonymous messages can also be sent via the campaign's Facebook or Twitter accounts.
Grazie Francesco's logo is a basin with hands washing feet, which organizers say represents “the greatest expression of service in the Gospel, and was one of the most representative gestures of Francis in his first month as Pope, when he washed the feet of young inmates on Holy Thursday in March of 2013.”
Lindo Lio said its name comes from the Holy Father's call to young people at World Youth Day Rio 2013 to “stir things up in your dioceses. I want to the Church to go out onto the streets!”
To send a message to the Pope, visit: www.graziefrancesco.com.
Washington D.C., Mar 11, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A U.S. senator and a congressman have urged the Secretary of Defense to reissue military rules to strengthen religious freedom protections for military service members who fear reprisals for their beliefs.
“We share deep concerns about an evolving military environment increasingly hostile to religious practices, one in which service members fear that expressing their religious beliefs would be ground for disciplinary action or hinder career advancement,” U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and U.S. Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) said in a March 4 letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
“This proclivity to marginalize religious liberties in the military can have a pronounced negative effect on morale and cohesiveness, and undermine recruitment and retention efforts.”
The senator and the congressman noted that the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2014 has language that strengthens military personnel’s religious freedom protections.
The provisions in the authorization act require accommodations for expressions of conscience, moral principles or religious beliefs. The provision requires the Secretary of Defense to consult the endorsing agencies of military chaplains when deciding on the implementation of regulations.
Sen. Lee and Rep. Fleming criticized Department of Defense instructions released on Jan. 22 as “incomplete and poorly crafted.” They said the instructions focus “narrowly” on religious accommodation for specific clothing or jewelry and fail to address “the issue of censorship of religious speech and fear of reprisal for expressing one’s beliefs.” The instruction also forces military commanders to act contrary to the existing Religious Freedom Restoration Act, they said.
They said faith and religious beliefs have “paramount importance” for many in military service and are “as necessary to their well-being as their families and patriotism.”
The letter drew praise from the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, a group of Protestant Christian organizations and ministries that provide a total of 2,600 chaplains for the U.S. military.
“No American, especially those who defend our liberties, should be denied their God given, constitutionally protected religious liberties,” Chaplain Ron Crews, a retired Army Reserve colonel, said March 10.
He said clear guidance is necessary so that service members are “allowed to speak about issues of faith without fear of recrimination.”
“We continue to receive reports of chaplains and other service members being challenged and in some cases disciplined for speaking out about their faith,” Crews said.
He said one chaplain was told to provide his sermon and notes to a supervisory chaplain because it had been deemed controversial. When the chaplain’s endorsing group became involved, the request was withdrawn.
In Jan. 28 testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, the Chaplain Alliance cited several instances of career repercussions or intimidating behavior against enlisted service members and against chaplains who had expressed their views on homosexuality and “gay marriage.”