Washington D.C., May 27, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Remembering those who have given their lives in the line of duty is part of the Christian call to transform the world in unity with Christ’s death and resurrection, said the U.S. archbishop of military services.
“If one’s gaze is fixed on heaven, it is possible to walk the path of the passion and death. The message about resurrection and the return of Jesus is clear and it is a message of hope,” said Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, who heads the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services. “That is also our message today as we remember the fallen.”
He explained that Christ “does not count the cost of preparing a place for us” but instead “is everything for us: the way, the truth, and the life.”
Generous love attracts us, the archbishop said, but it also “makes us reflect, because it is costly. Today we reflect on that love in the patriotic service of so many.”
Archbishop Broglio served as principal celebrant and homilist at the 20th Annual Memorial Mass in Washington, D.C. Held May 18th at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the Mass was televised on EWTN on Memorial Day, May 26.
The Archdiocese for Military Services is responsible for the pastoral care of over 1.8 million Catholics who are members of the U.S. armed forces and their families. The archdiocese serves in 29 countries around the world at more than 200 installations.
In his homily, the archbishop reflected on the Sunday readings about Christ's work in preparing “a spiritual house,” calling “us to be the living stones that build the Church.”
God calls his people to “use many gifts to build up the Body of Christ,” Archbishop Broglio observed.
Remembering those “who have perished in the service of our Country, the Veterans, and the chaplains who have died,” he continued, is part of “our mission as living stones,” of those united with and transformed by Christ.
“Memory in the community of faith is not passive, merely a looking back, or turning the pages of a scrap book,” the archbishop explained. “It is a vibrant making present, as we do in our participation in the unique sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.”
“Our role as a community of faith is to continue to pray for those who sleep in death so that they might enjoy the fullness of life, to which we all aspire,” he said, adding that Christians also “want to offer consolation to those who lost loved ones in the tragic circumstances of war.”
This sacrifice of fallen veterans and prayer for them is one aspect in which “we are called to transform the world – families, work, society, community,” Archbishop Broglio stated, adding that the entire life of a believer should be a spiritual offering to the Lord, aimed at the broader scope of apostolic mission.
“We know that it is not always easy to live. We look for our Lady and our Lord to lead us on the way,” he said. “We seek the example of the great saints so that we can be little saints ourselves.”
“As members of the Body of Christ we are challenged to reflect the light of Christ in every time and place.”
Aboard the papal plane, May 27, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis strongly denounced clerical sex abuse of children, saying that such abuse will not be tolerated and announcing a special Mass for abuse victims, as well as efforts to investigate offenders.
“There will be no preferential treatment when it comes to child abuse,” the Pope said, declaring abuse a “very serious problem.”
“A zero tolerance approach needs to be adopted with regards to this issue.”
“When a priest commits abuse, he betrays the Lord’s body,” he stated May 26. “A priest must guide children towards sainthood. And the child trusts him. But instead, he abuses him or her. This is very serious. It’s like celebrating a black mass!”
“Instead of steering him or her towards the sainthood you create a problem that will stay with him or her for all of his or her life,” he added, according to the Italian newspaper La Stampa.
The Pope’s comments came during a press conference on his May 26 return flight from the Holy Land.
He announced that there will be a Mass for some abuse victims at his residence at Casa Santa Martha “soon” and he will also meet with these victims.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston will assist in planning the meeting, the Archdiocese of Boston reports.
Cardinal O’Malley helped organize a similar meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and abuse victims during the 2008 papal visit to the U.S. He is a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors as well as the Council of Eight Cardinals which was formed by Pope Francis to advise him on matters of Church reform and governance.
Pope Francis also noted that three bishops are under investigation for problems relating to child abuse, one of whom has been convicted and awaiting punishment. Concerns had been raised in the past about some bishops failing to adequately deal with priests accused of abuse or enforce church law regarding such allegations.
During the flight, Pope Francis also addressed financial scandals linked to the Institute for the Works of Religion, informally known as the Vatican Bank.
He said the newly formed Secretariat for the Economy, headed by Australian Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, will help prevent scandals and problems.
Some 1,600 illegitimate accounts have already been closed, he said, adding that the reform process must be “ongoing.”
Pope Francis also spoke about the reform of the Roman Curia, the bureaucracy that helps the Holy Father run the Vatican. Two work sessions on the reform efforts will be held in the coming months, he said, and the merging of Vatican dicasteries is under consideration.
“We have done a great deal,” he said of reform efforts.
“The path of persuasion is very important. There are some people who don’t understand. But I am happy, we have worked hard,” he added.
Aboard the papal plane, May 27, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis has said that the upcoming synod on the family will focus on the “vast” pastoral problems facing families – not specifically Communion for the divorced and remarried.
“We know that today the family is facing a crisis, a global crisis, young people don’t want to marry or they live together. I wouldn’t like us to fall into this question: will it be possible for Communion to be administered or not?” the Pope said at a May 26 news conference during his flight home from the Holy Land.
“The Synod will be on the family, the problems it is facing, its assets and the current situation it is in,” the Pope said, according to the Italian newspaper La Stampa.
An extraordinary synod on “the pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization” is to be held in October at the Vatican.
Cardinal Walter Kasper, an advocate of admitting Catholics who have divorced and are remarried to Holy Communion, on Feb. 20 addressed a consistory of cardinals on the topic of marriage and the family.
Pope Francis noted that four of the five chapters of the cardinal’s address “outlined positive points regarding the family and its theological foundation.”
“The fifth chapter had to do with the pastoral problem of separation and the annulment of marriages, and the administration of Communion to divorced people who marry a second time comes into this,” the Pope told reporters.
“What I didn’t like, was what some people, within the Church as well, said about the purpose of the synod: that it intends to allow remarried divorcees to take Communion, as if the entire issue boiled down to a case,” the Pope said, adding that each case “needs to be looked at separately.”
He cited the statements of his predecessor, Benedict XVI; according to Pope Francis, Benedict said that annulment procedures must be examined, and the faith with which a person enters marriage must also be probed.
Pope Francis also said it must be clear that the divorced are not excommunicated.
“So often they are treated as though they have been excommunicated.”
Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has consistently affirmed that divorced Catholics in irregular marital unions cannot receive Communion. In an October 2013 article published in L’Osservatore Romano, he emphasized that this means it is “all the more imperative” to show “pastoral concern” for them.
In April 2014 Pope Francis emphasized the indissolubility of Christian marriage and the need to teach the truth about marriage “with great compassion.”
Cardinal Kasper and many other German bishops have been lobbying to change Church practice. One German archdiocese openly advised remarried, divorced Catholics to receive Communion under certain circumstances, drawing rebuke from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Pope Francis discussed several other topics during his May 26 press conference.
He said that during his meeting with Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, the two discussed unity, the upcoming pan-Orthodox council, and the date of Easter.
“Bartholomew and I speak as brothers, we love each other and we talk about the difficulties we face as leaders,” the Pope said. “We spoke a great deal about ecology and coming up with a joint initiative to deal with this problem.”
The Pope also commented on his invitation to Israeli president Shimon Peres and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to pray at the Vatican.
“The two presidents and I will only meet to pray and I believe that prayer is important and doing this helps. Then they will go home. There will be a rabbi, a Muslim, and me.”
He stressed the Vatican’s position that Jerusalem should be “a city of peace for the three religions,” though he declined to make specific recommendations for negotiations between Israel and Palestine.
“Courage is needed, and I pray to the Lord that these two presidents have the courage to go on.”
The Pope discussed other matters of Catholic practice; he told reporters that the celibacy of priests is not a dogma of the faith, citing the practice of married priests in Eastern Catholicism.
Though he said “the door is always open” on mandatory priestly celibacy, he stressed that “it is a rule of life that I appreciate a great deal, and I believe it is a gift for the Church.”
Aboard the papal plane, May 27, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
On his return flight from the Holy Land, Pope Francis announced that he will visit Sri Lanka and the Philippines in January 2015.
“There are two Asian trips planned: one to South Korea and then next January, a two-day trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines, to the area affected by the tsunami,” Pope Francis said during an in-flight press conference May 26, according to the Italian newspaper La Stampa.
Pope Paul VI visited the Philippines in 1970. St. John Paul II visited the Philippines in 1981 and again in 1995 during a trip that included Sri Lanka, Australia, and Papua New Guinea.
In February, Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of the Sri Lankan capital of Colombo had invited Pope Francis to visit the country.
“I welcome this invitation, and I think the Lord will grant us the grace,” the Pope told Sri Lankan pilgrims at the Vatican Feb. 8.
Pope Francis also acknowledged that “many tears have been shed” by the victims of the country’s decades-old civil conflict. He urged the healing of wounds and cooperation between the country’s factions to work for peace, acknowledging that this is “not easy.”
There are about 1.2 million Catholics in Sri Lanka out of a population of over 20 million. Sri Lankans are predominantly Buddhist, though there are sizeable Hindu and Muslim minorities.
The Philippines is a predominantly Catholic country, with about 70.4 million Catholics in a population of 88.9 million people. The country has a significant Muslim minority.
In November 2013, the Philippines was struck by the devastating Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms ever recorded. The storm killed over 6,300 people.
In March 2014, the Vatican confirmed Pope Francis would visit South Korea this August. The visit coincides with the sixth Asian Youth Day, hosted by the Diocese of Daejon.
On the papal flight, the Pope also spoke about the problem of religious persecution, warning: “I think there are more martyrs now that the early Church had seen.”
“The problem of the lack of freedom in the practice of religion is not only limited to some Asian countries but extends to others too,” he said. “Religious freedom is something not all countries have.”
“Some (countries) control to some extent, others take measures that end up being full on persecution. There are martyrs today, Christian, catholic and non-Catholic martyrs. In some place you are forbidden from wearing a cross, possessing a bible or teaching children catechism.”
He gave the example of believers gathering in secret to celebrate the Eucharist while pretending that “they are having tea” because praying together is forbidden.
“We need to approach certain places carefully, to go and help them, pray a lot for these Churches that are suffering, suffering a great deal,” the Pope said, adding that “bishops and the Holy See are working with discretion in order to help Christians in these countries, but it’s not easy task.”