Archive of April 28, 2014

Deacons find vocational inspiration in saintly papal witness

Vatican City, Apr 28, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The April 27 canonizations of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII are a source of spiritual inspiration for young men on the path to priesthood.

The proclamation of the two deceased pontiffs as saints “reminds us whether we’re Popes or not, we’re all called to be saints,” reflected Deacon Marc Homesy of Leeds, England.

“Especially for me becoming a priest, who is someone in the public eye, I must seek to be visibly configured to Christ, and also in my ministry encourage others in their spiritual life and in helping to build the kingdom,” he told CNA on April 27.

Homsey, who will be ordained to the priesthood in three months, said he was “inspired and encouraged by all four of the Popes” associated with Sunday’s Mass.

Pope Francis celebrated the Mass canonizing deceased pontiffs John XXIII and John Paul II while his retired predecessor Benedict XVI concelebrated, seated with the cardinals nearby.

This historic event “did strike home,” Homsey reflected, noting its visible significance for the “chain of succession,” in the see of Peter.

“Who knows in the future,” he added, “we may be witnessing their canonizations.”

Deacon Martin Dulchev of Bulgaria was also extremely moved by the canonizations. The young man who credits his religious vocation to John Paul II is studying for the priesthood in the Greek Catholic Church.

During John Paul II’s visit to Bulgaria, the young Dulchev was asked by his bishop to help arrange the Pope’s encounter with youth. Though not particularly attentive to his faith at the time, Dulchev agreed.

Along with other young people, he participated in a play reenacting the witness of three priests who were killed by the communist regime. Dulchev also prepared a speech which included two rhetorical questions for the Pope.

“Why do we no longer see Christian witness” like that of the three priests, he asked. And why do so many young people engage in the virtual world with things like video games.

“I didn’t expect an answer,” Dulchev admitted. John Paul II was very frail at the time, and appeared to be asleep during the young man’s speech in Bulgarian.

But the aged Pope was listening, and at the end, he sat up and began to reply to the questions.

“He said, ‘you young people are very sensitive of the reality which is sometimes very hard to live - that is because you are looking for a world, another world, maybe better,’” Dulchev recalled.

“But the virtual ones that you make, or that you’re living in, are not so good because they take from you more than you think they take. Just try reality with the eyes of Christ - you will see it is beautiful. After that, if you do that, you will become the testimony that you are looking for.”

The young deacon recounted that the Pope’s words struck him to the core.

“In this moment I was in front of the reality. He made me stay, stand in front of this reality and realize that Somebody calls, maybe not here in front of you, but in your heart. And I said, ok, I will try - and here I am, a deacon!”

Both Deacon Dulchev and Deacon Homsey were able to sit in the clergy section at Sunday’s canonization Mass.

“In my time in Rome, I’ve witnessed the beatification of John Paul II, the resign of one Pope, the election of new Pope, now the canonization of two Popes,” Deacon Homsey recounted.

“It really strengthens my belief that we belong to the Universal Church, and that the successor of Peter is always guiding God’s Church.”

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New saints lauded for pioneering dialogue on women

Vatican City, Apr 28, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The newly-canonized John Paul II and John XXIII have drawn praise for sparking discussion within the Church on modern women and paving the way for what Pope Francis is addressing now.

On St. John Paul II's contribution to the dialogue, Rome-based consecrated laywoman Ana Christina Villa reflected that “his magisterium has been so rich, so deep.”

“It is informing and will inform for years to come all the work for the dignity and vocation of women that is done in the Church but also in society,” she told CNA in an April 16 interview.

Villa, a consecrated laywoman with the Marian Community of Reconciliation and head of the women's section for the Pontifical Council for the Laity, helped to design a new webpage for the council containing a compilation of the work both pontiffs have done on women ahead of their canonization.

The initiative promotes testimonies from women around the world describing how their lives have been positively affected by the new saints. Villa noted that it was researching the pontificate of John XXIII which initially inspired the women’s department of the council to begin a page completely dedicated to the saints' efforts in developing the roles of women.

In his encyclical “Pacem in Terris,” John XXIII “wrote very beautifully” on “the growing presence of women in the society and life,” she observed, highlighting how because the historical document was released during the sexual revolution of the 1960s, “it was to be considered a sign of the times.”

During a time of “many changes” both culturally and in the Church, “He was already there as a father, as a brother in Christ, illuminating from the Catholic faith these new paths that were opening in the lives of women.”

John XXIII viewed the growing presence of women in all areas of life as “a very beautiful and positive thing,” however he also warned that this development “couldn't happen in contradiction to the identity, the dignity and the vocation of women.”

“So he was very cautious in telling women it's great, be present but be present always as women. Be present with the particular gifts that God has given you, with the particular vocation God has given you.”

These ideas, Villa continued, were “developed and deepened” with “a lot of richness in the large magisterium of John Paul II on women.” It is “as if Pope John XXIII was starting to see these phenomenons develop and with a very prophetic eye looked into the good things that were there, but also warned about the possible problems that come from those developments.”

Highlighting how it was John XXIII who first referred to this presence as “a sign of the times,” Villa then drew attention to the phrase coined by John Paul II, when he referred to “the feminine genius.”

Quoting one of the women who sent in their testimony for the website, the consecrated laywoman expressed that now “I think we are passing from being a sign of the times to feminine genius.”

“John XXIII called it a sign of the times, John Paul II said the feminine genius. He gave that name to that something that John XXIII was saying it was important for women not to forget or not to miss when engaging in public life or any environment in society.”

On John Paul II, Villa observed that he “gave us more deep thinking, theological, philosophical thinking on how to understand how to carry on these developments in a way that is more according to human dignity. So I think it is a natural development.”

What we see now from Pope Francis is “a lot of interest” in this area, she went on to say, noting that “He's very concerned about this development and he’s calling very much for it to happen.”

“He has said very clearly that we have to build on what we already have, and we already have a lot of developments in the magisterium so far, but he sees that new challenges are coming, and certain things probably need to be better explained theologically.”

Calling to mind the pontiff's frequent request for a new “theology of women,” Villa said that this “is one of these important signs, and it means developing these intuitions that John Paul II had into further clarity of the role and the participation of women in the Church.”

“For example, he has said (in) many ways this role of women in the Church is essential, the Church wouldn't be the Church without women,” she continued, recalling the biblical figures of Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus.

In being a “feminine presence together with the apostles,” but “without being apostles themselves,” these women were “very important in the first stages of the life of the Church,” she said.

“Another important point of this theology of women is the ecclesiological reflection” from the perspective of what the nature of the Church is, Villa explained, highlighting that “there are many developments” in this area which “started with the Second Vatican Council.”

Emphasizing that “we cannot forget or leave behind” these important foundations given to us by John XXIII and John Paul II, Villa explained that their work allows us go forward with a further development of women, which will require “a lot of theological thinking.”

“It's an ongoing process and I think it needs a lot of interiorizing,” she said, pointing out that “we’ve come a long way” already.

In her remarks to CNA, Villa also recalled her experience in meeting St. John Paul II in 2004. “I remember very much kneeling before him and he was very sick and he was half bent by his illness,” she said.

“I knelt before him and so it wasn't difficult for him to look at me, and you could see a lot of sweetness in those eyes, even though they were tried by suffering and even though we were an audience and there had been one before and there was one after.”

“I just couldn’t understand how he was doing that, but he was there, and with his glance he said everything. He was there saying 'yes,' and that was, it was something I take very much with me in my heart.”

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Poor Brazilian parish becomes first to take St. John Paul II's name

Brasilia, Brazil, Apr 28, 2014 (CNA) - A small parish in the poor neighborhood of Alagados in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, has become the first in the world to be named after St. John Paul II, after the late pontiff’s canonization April 27.

Sara Gomes, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Salvador, told AFP that the “small church of Notre Dame of Alagados will now be called 'Notre Dame of Alagados and of St. John Paul II.' It is the first in the world to be named after the new saint.”

The official name change took place the morning of April 27 after Mass at the parish. Pope John Paul II was declared a saint alongside Pope John XXIII at a Vatican Mass earlier that day.

Archbishop Murilo Krieger signed a decree authorizing the new title for the parish, which was inaugurated in 1980 by John Paul II during the first of three trips he made to Brazil.

Capuchin Father Jorge Rocha recalled meeting St. John Paul II at the parish three decades ago.

“The saints live among us,” he told the Globo website. “The Church does not invent them, she recognizes what already exists.”


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Council of Cardinals meeting this week for fourth time

Vatican City, Apr 28, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The latest meeting of the group of eight cardinals advising Pope Francis on the reform of the Roman Curia began Monday, and will continue for the following two days.

The meeting, held April 28-30, follows previous meetings held in February, December, and October.

The Council of Cardinals was instituted by Pope Francis shortly after his election, to aid him in governing the Church and to revise “Pastor Bonus”, the apostolic constitution governing Rome’s curia.

It is speculated that the discussion may focus on the establishment of a “Congregation of the People of God,” focused on the laity, a Vatican source told CNA April 24.

The source added that the proposed congregation would streamline the pontifical councils for the family, pastoral assistance to health care workers, and the laity.

As a result of the previous meetings of the council of cardinals, Pope Francis has already established a Secretariat for the Economy, continued reform of the ‘Vatican bank’, and instituted a commission for the protection of minors.

The Vatican’s economic issues seem to have dominated the cardinals’ meetings.

The council of cardinals draws from prelates around the world. Its members are Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa; Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Governatorate of Vatican City State; Francisco Errazuriz Ossa, Archbishop Emeritus of Santiago de Chile; Oswald Gracias of Bombay; Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa; Sean O’Malley of Boston; and George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.

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Masses of Thanksgiving offered in Rome for new Pope saints

Rome, Italy, Apr 28, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Following the canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XIII, Church officials presided over two Masses of Thanksgiving, drawing attention to the saints’ enormous contributions to the Church and to society.

Taking place April 28 at 10 a.m. in St. Peter’s Square, where the day before huge numbers of pilgrims crowded for the canonization of the ecclesial giants, Cardinal Angelo Comastri led the congregation in giving thanks for the 27-year pontificate of John Paul II.

In his homily, Cardinal Comastri – who is Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica and Vicar General for the Vatican City State – emphasized the courage John Paul II had in proclaiming the Gospel, especially during a time when the world pretended as if God no longer existed.

Observing how the pontiff’s witness became stronger, even as his body became weaker, the cardinal reflected that his faith was “authentic and free from fear or compromise.”

He then highlighted the saint’s untiring defense of the family and the dignity of human life, also drawing attention to his firm opposition to the Gulf Wars and his efforts in establishing peace among peoples and nations.

Cardinal Comastri concluded his reflections by emphasizing the special attention the pontiff gave for the youth, as well as his devotion to Mary, into whose hands he had entrusted himself and his whole life.

Present for the April 27 canonization of the Polish saint was a young man named Nicholas and his father, who recounted to CNA an encounter they had with the pontiff in Rome when Nicholas was just a toddler.

Explaining how they had come for the beatification of three nuns, Nicholas’ father recalled that “We didn’t have tickets” for the Mass, but were still able to get in.

“Some nuns that were there from Brazil asked us to get on the end of the bench,” he continued, adding that the nuns told him “that John Paul II was going to stop and that he was going to touch” his son’s head.

“And that’s what happened. Nicolas really stopped the Pope who touched his little head and he was one-and-a-half years old.”

Reflecting on what it meant for him to be in the square again for the canonization of the pontiff who had stopped to bless him, Nicholas said that “being here today is very special because all of that.”

“I think it marked my life a lot. And I think he has helped me in all the moments of my life,” the youth noted, emphasizing that he has “never” lost his faith because “he has always been up there. So today it’s going to be interesting.”

At the same time as pilgrims were giving thanks in St. Peter’s Square, others expressed gratitude for the life and witness of Saint John XXIII, gathering at the Church of San Carlo al Corso, which is the same church where the pontiff had received his episcopal ordination.

Bishop Francesco Beschi, who currently oversees the pontiff’s former diocese of Bergamo, presided over the ceremony, during which he responded to Pope Francis’ April 24 letter thanking the diocese for the gift of John XXIII to the Church.

In his letter, Pope Francis referred to the diocese of Bergamo, Italy as “a land of profound faith lived in daily life, of poor families but united in love of the Lord, of a community capable of sharing in simplicity.”

He affirmed to the people there his certainty that “civil society will always be able to find inspiration in the life of the Pope of Bergamo and of the atmosphere he generated, seeking new ways and adapting to the times in order to build a life based on the perennial values of fraternity and solidarity.”

Referring to the Pope’s statements, Bishop Beschi expressed that such encouragement would help all in the Church there to guard the values of generosity, simplicity, and solidarity which characterized so much of the young Angelo Roncalli, as well as his later pontificate.

The letter also assists Bergamo to respond to the current challenges and signs of the times with the same spirit of obedience espoused by “Good Pope John,” the bishop went on to say.

Concluding, he affirmed that Pope Francis’ words to them will help the diocese to faithfully adhere to the path set by the Second Vatican Council, which was opened by John XXIII in 1962, and during which he called for a renewal in the life of the Church, which would revitalize the faith of all Christians.


Mauricio Artieda contributed to this article.

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Obama praises influence of Saints John XXIII, John Paul II

Washington D.C., Apr 28, 2014 (CNA) - U.S. president Barack Obama issued a statement Monday noting the canonization of both John XXIII and John Paul II over the weekend, paying tribute to their work in the Church and society.

“Today, Michelle and I join Catholics around the world in celebrating the canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II,” he said April 28. “The work and witness of both Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II shaped not only the Catholic Church but the world.”

He noted John XXII’s advocacy “in the cause of global peace and justice,” and said that in calling Vatican II, “he revolutionized not only aspects of worship but the Catholic Church’s relationship with other faith communities.”

Obama discussed John Paul II’s role in inspiring the Solidarity movement, which “eventually helped to end communism in Eastern Europe,” and his forceful words against apartheid in South Africa and the Rwandan genocide.

“He had a special rapport with young people, drawing many of them to the Church’s work and teachings,” Obama stated.

The two late Popes were canonized April 27 during a Mass said by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square.

During his homily at the Mass, Pope Francis said, “At the heart of this Sunday, which concludes the Octave of Easter and which Saint John Paul II wished to dedicate to Divine Mercy, are the glorious wounds of the risen Jesus.”

“Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II were not afraid to look upon the wounds of Jesus, to touch his torn hands and his pierced side,” Pope Francis preached.

“They were not ashamed of the flesh of Christ, they were not scandalized by him, by his cross; they did not despise the flesh of their brother, because they saw Jesus in every person who suffers and struggles,” the Pope said. “These were two men of courage, filled with the parrhesia of the Holy Spirit, and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy.”

Obama, concluding his statement, said: “We celebrate these Saints and the leadership of His Holiness Pope Francis, and we look forward to continuing to work with Pope Francis and Catholics around the world to advance peace and justice for all people.”

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