Vatican City, May 5, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
During his daily Mass Pope Francis warned against those who use their faith vainly in order to obtain power or money, and prayed that all might have the grace to follow the Lord out of love.
“In the Church there are climbers, people driven by ambition! There are many of them!” the Pope stated in his May 5 daily homily, “But if you like climbing go to the mountains and climb them: it is healthier!”
Addressing those present in the chapel of the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse, the Roman Pontiff centered his reflections on the day’s Gospel reading, taken from John, in which Jesus is sought out by the crowds after he had fed five thousand people with just two loaves of bread and a few fish.
Pope Francis highlighted Jesus’ response to the people when he said “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”
This passage, he noted, invites us to think whether we are truly following the Lord out of love, or if we have selfish motivations such as vanity and a thirst for power or money.
Referring specifically to those in public positions who fast or give alms in order to be seen doing so, the Pope said that “This is not the right attitude. Vanity is not good, vanity causes us to slip on our pride and everything ends there.”
“So I ask myself the question: and me? How do I follow Jesus? When I do good, do I do it under the public eye, or do I do it in private?”
Going on, the pontiff noted that this also makes him think of pastors in the Church, “because a pastor who is vain does not do good to the people of God: even if he is a priest or a bishop, he does not follow Jesus if he is besotted by vanity.”
Warning against the temptation of seeking power, the Bishop of Rome observed that there are many who follow Jesus with this motivation, and that “Perhaps they do not do so with full consciousness.”
“A clear example of this is to be found in John and James, the sons of Zebedee who asked Jesus to seat them in places of honor, one on His right and one on His left in his Kingdom” he went on to say, adding that “in the Church there are climbers, people driven by ambition!”
“If you like climbing go to the mountains and climb them: it is healthier! Do not come to Church to climb! Jesus scolds people with this kind of ambitious attitude in the Church.”
Drawing attention to how it was only once the Holy Spirit came that the apostles changed, the Pope cautioned that sin still exists and that we must ask ourselves “in what way do I follow Christ?”
“Only for Him, even to the Cross, or do I do it for power? Do I use the Church, the Christian community, the parish, the diocese to gain some power?”
Pope Francis explained that there are also those who follow Jesus out of a desire for money and try “to take economic advantage of the parish, of the diocese, of their Christian community, of the hospital or the college.”
“This has been a temptation right from the beginning” the pontiff observed, pointing out that “we have heard of so many good Catholics, good Christians, friends and benefactors of the Church that – it has been revealed -- acted for personal profit.”
Lamenting how these people “presented themselves as benefactors of the Church and made money on the side,” the Roman Pontiff concluded by praying that all might have the grace to follow Jesus with pure intentions, absent of vanity, a lust for wealth, or a thirst for power.
Madrid, Spain, May 5, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Diocese of La Laguna on the Spanish island of Tenerife has sent Pope Francis a bronze sculpture of St. Jose of Anchieta to celebrate the Jesuit saint’s recent canonization.
Known as the “Apostle of Brazil,” St. Jose of Anchieta was born on Tenerife, which is part of the Canary Islands and is territory that belongs to Spain. The sculpture was created in 1980 by Spanish artist Enrique Cejas Zaldivar. Pope Francis’ personal secretary received the statue at St. Martha’s Residence at the Vatican last week.
St. John Paul II was given a replica of the statue to mark the beatification of St. Jose of Anchieta, and a second replica was given to the Cathedral of Sao Paulo. A third replica is kept in the Diocese of La Laguna and was used to create a new statue that was sent to Pope Francis.
The 52-centimeter statue sits on a four centimeter-high base with a small plaque that reads, “Gift of the Diocese of San Cristobal de La Laguna (Tenerife) to Pope Francis, April 24, 2014.”
The base is also decorated with the phrase, “St. Jose of Anchieta, canonized by Pope Francis on April 3, 2014,” along with the artist’s signature.
St. Jose of Anchieta is the second native-born saint from the Canary Islands. He was born in San Cristobal de La Laguna, and later he went to Coimbra in Portugal to study. It was there he met the Jesuits and entered the Society of Jesus.
He was sent to Brazil as a missionary and was one of the founders of the cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. He also formalized the Tupi language spoken by native tribes in the region.
He is considered the first playwright, the first grammarian and the first poet born in the Canarias and the father of Brazilian literature.
St. John Paul II beatified him in 1980 at St. Peter’s Basilica. Pointing to his missionary and evangelical work, Benedict XVI named him one of the patron saints for World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janeiro.
In April 2014, Pope Francis raised him to sainthood through “equivalent canonization.” The Holy Father also celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving in honor of St. Jose of Anchieta on April 24 at the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola in Rome.
Vatican City, May 5, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
During his ad limina address Saturday, Pope Francis urged the bishops of Sri Lanka to continue their role in reconciliation of the nation, which emerged in 2009 from a 26-year civil war.
“Our vocation is to be a ‘leaven in the midst of humanity’,” Pope Francis said May 3. “Sri Lanka particularly needs this leaven.”
“After many years of fighting and bloodshed, the war in your country has finally ended … though the war has ended, you rightly note that much work needs to be done to promote reconciliation, to respect the human rights of all the people and to overcome the ethnic tensions that remain.”
“May your communities, steadfast in the faith, remain close to those who still mourn and suffer the lasting effects of war,” he added.
The Pope spoke to the Sri Lankan bishops during their ad limina meeting – a routine meeting between the Pope and the bishops of different countries.
From 1983 to 2009, Sri Lanka was engaged in a civil war which largely divided the majority Sinhalese and the Tamil ethnic minority.
“As you have expressed,” Pope Francis said, “the Catholics of Sri Lanka wish to contribute, together with the various elements of society, to the work of reconciliation and rebuilding.”
He highlighted unity as a particularly useful contribution, saying the Church is “uniquely positioned to provide a living image of unity in the faith as she is blessed to count both Sinhalese and Tamil among her number.”
“In parishes and schools, in social programmes and other institutions of the Church, Sinhalese and Tamil find opportunities to live, study, work and worship together. Through these same entities, especially through parishes and missions, you also know intimately the concerns and fears of the people, particularly how they can be marginalized and distrust one another. The faithful … can provide an atmosphere of dialogue that seeks to construct a more just and equitable society.”
The Pope also congratulated the Church in Sri Lanka on its charitable work, saying the “prophetic witness of service and compassion … shows that the poor must not be forgotten nor inequality permitted to grow.”
“Your ministry and outreach must work for the inclusion of all in society.”
“Sri Lanka is a country not only of rich ethnic diversity, but also of various religious traditions,” he noted.
More than 70 percent of the 20.4 million people in Sri Lanka are Buddhists. Hindus make up 12 percent, Muslims 10 percent, and Christians an estimated 8 percent of the population.
Pope Francis said this diversity “highlights the importance of interreligious and ecumenical dialogue for fostering mutual knowledge and enrichment.”
The Church’s efforts at dialogue in Sri Lanka “allow the Church to collaborate more easily with others in securing a lasting peace, and ensure the Church’s freedom in pursuing her proper ends,” the Pope told the nation’s bishops.
He lamented, however, a rise of religious extremists “promoting a false sense of national unity based on a single religious identity,” who act with intimidation and violence.
“Though these tensions may threaten interreligious and ecumenical relations, the Church in Sri Lanka must remain steadfast in seeking partners in peace and interlocutors in dialogue.”
Pope Francis commended the bishops on the rich number of priestly vocations, and urged that they be “attentive to their human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral formation, not only in their years of seminary training, but also throughout their lives of generous service.”
“Be true fathers to them, attentive to their needs and present in their lives, recognizing that they often minister in difficult situations and with limited resources. With you, I thank them for their fidelity and witness, as I call them to ever greater holiness through prayer and daily conversion.”
Concluding his address, the Bishop of Rome said, “I appreciate your efforts to minister to the family,” noting that “the forthcoming Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will discuss the family and seek ever new and creative ways in which the Church can support these domestic churches.”
The continuing challenges facing Sri Lankan families, he noted, include displacement, death in the civil war, and emigration.
“When we are attentive to our families and their needs, when we understand their difficulties and hopes, we strengthen the Church’s witness and proclamation of the Gospel. Particularly by supporting marital love and fidelity, we help the faithful to live their vocation freely and joyfully, and we open new generations to the life of Christ and his Church.”
“Your efforts in support of the family assist not only the Church, but aid Sri Lankan society as a whole, especially in its efforts for reconciliation and unity. I urge you, therefore, to be ever vigilant and to work with governmental authorities and other religious leaders to ensure that the dignity and primacy of the family is upheld.”
Pope Francis ended, saying that “with these sentiments, my dear Brothers, I entrust you to the intercession of Our Lady of Lanka, as I willingly extend my Apostolic Blessing to you and to all the beloved priests, consecrated men and women, and lay people of Sri Lanka.”
Detroit, Mich., May 5, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis has named a Chaldean Catholic priest in Michigan as the next bishop of the Detroit-based Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle.
Father Frank Kalabat, a priest born in Kuwait in 1970, will succeed the retiring Bishop Ibrahim Namo Ibrahim.
Bishop-designate Kalabat presently heads the St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Parish in West Bloomfield, Mich. He also directs the Eparchial Centre for Vocations. He previously served as the deputy priest of Mother of God Church in Southfield, Mich.
He was ordained a priest in 1995.
The Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle has about 105,000 Catholics, 22 priests and 150 permanent deacons.
Pope Francis has also appointed a new apostolic administrator of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of Mar Addai, based in Toronto, Canada. Fr. Daoud Baffro will administer the eparchy following the retirement of Bishop Hanna Zora.
The Chaldean Catholic Church is an Eastern-rite Catholic Church in full communion with Rome and headquartered in Baghdad. Many Chaldean Catholics in the U.S. are immigrants from the Middle East.
Washington D.C., May 5, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The U.S. Supreme Court on May 5 upheld the practice of voluntary prayer before public meetings by a 5-4 ruling, drawing praise from those who said such prayers are a long American tradition that avoids censoring religion.
“Opening public meetings with prayer is a cherished freedom that the authors of the Constitution themselves practiced,” Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel David Cortman said May 5. “Speech censors should have no power to silence volunteers who pray for their communities just as the Founders did.”
Cortman said the Supreme Court “affirmed that Americans are free to pray.”
“In America, we tolerate a diversity of opinions and beliefs; we don’t silence people or try to separate what they say from what they believe,” he said.
The lawsuit, filed in 2007, was brought by Americans United for Separation of Church and State on behalf of Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens. The plaintiffs claimed that the Rochester-area town of Greece, N.Y., violated the constitution in its practice of opening town meetings with prayer.
The majority of prayers offered before the small town's local legislative sessions have been delivered by Christian ministers, although the invocation is open to representatives of any belief who wish to offer prayer, and other groups including Wiccans have also done so in recent years.
Monday’s Supreme Court decision in “Town of Greece v. Galloway” overturned a 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that had sided with the plaintiffs.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing the majority opinion, said that the First Amendment “is not a majority rule, and the government may not seek to define permissible categories of religious speech.”
He said that legislative prayer is “meant to lend gravity to the occasion and reflect values long part of the nation’s heritage.”
“Prayer that is solemn and respectful in tone, that invites lawmakers to reflect upon shared ideals and common ends before they embark on the fractious business of governing, serves that legitimate function,” he said.
Kennedy suggested that invocations that “denigrate nonbelievers or religious minorities, threaten damnation, or preach conversion” would present a “different case.”
He said the town made “reasonable efforts” to identify all of its religious congregations and invite any minister or layman who wished to deliver an invocation. He said the prayer was not coercive.
Justice Elena Kagan, who wrote the dissent, objected that the prayers were “explicitly” and “constantly and exclusively” Christian. She objected to the content of the prayers, saying chaplains appeared to assume that all meeting attendees were Christian. She also questioned chaplains’ apparent lack of effort to be “inclusive” in their prayers and to assure members of the public that they do not have to participate in the prayers.
Kagan said the prayers could have a negative effect on people with business at public meetings who disagree with the beliefs expressed.
Justice Samuel Alito, writing a concurring opinion with the majority, said that there is a “long history” against the argument that only non-sectarian prayer is permissible in such cases.
He said stricter guidelines on prayers could result in local governments screening and editing prayers before they are delivered or rebuking or excluding a chaplain for the prayers he or she delivered.
Thomas G. Hungar, an attorney allied with the Alliance Defending Freedom who argued the case before the Supreme Court, said the decision “reaffirmed that the practice of prayer before legislative bodies is firmly embedded in the history and traditions of this nation.”
He said the court “simply reinforced what has been true about America since its founding: Americans should be free to speak and act consistently with their own beliefs.”