|Pope Francis makes a strong call for better marriage prep
Vatican City, January 21 (CNA/EWTN News) .- In his annual speech to the Holy See's main court on Saturday, Pope Francis stressed the pressing need for effective education and preparation for the sacrament of marriage – not only to guard against invalid marriages, but also to strengthen the faith of the couple as they prepare for the unique blessings and challenges of married life.
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VATICAN CITY, January 21 (CNA/EWTN News) .- In his annual speech to the Holy See's main court on Saturday, Pope Francis stressed the pressing need for effective education and preparation for the sacrament of marriage – not only to guard against invalid marriages, but also to strengthen the faith of the couple as they prepare for the unique blessings and challenges of married life.
“The goal of this preparation consists, namely, in helping engaged couples to know and to live the reality of marriage as it is intended to be celebrated, so that it is possible to do so not only validly and lawfully, but also fruitfully, so that they are able to make this celebration a stage of their journey of faith,” Pope Francis said.
“In this spirit, I would reiterate the need for a 'new catechumenate' in preparation for marriage,” he said in his Jan. 21 address to the judges of the Roman Rota at the Vatican's Clementine Hall.
“Welcoming the guidance of the Fathers of the last Ordinary Synod, it is urgent to implement effectively what has already been proposed in Familiaris Consortio (no. 66),” he said.
“That is, as for the baptism of adults the catechumenate is part of the sacramental process, so the preparation for marriage must become an integral part of all sacramental marriage procedure, as an antidote that prevents the increase of invalid or tenuous marriage celebrations.”
The Pope delivers a speech to the members of the Rota, a court of higher instance at the Holy See, each January to inaugurate the court's judicial year.
In this year’s speech, Francis noted that the breakdown of faith, religious values, and belief in eternal truths, particularly regarding the family, has become widespread even among Christians, which can impact the awareness and consent with which people enter into the sacrament.
At the same time, the different backgrounds and experiences of faith of those seeking Christian marriage cannot be ignored, he said. “Some participate actively in parish life; others will come for the first time; some also have a life of intense prayer; others are, however, driven by a more generic religious sentiment.”
“Faced with this situation, we need to find valid remedies,” the Pope emphasized.
The first remedy he proposed is the training of young people: “through an adequate process of preparation aimed to rediscover marriage and the family according to God’s plan,” he said.
The meetings between a priest and an engaged couple are, of course, a fundamental and important part of their preparation. But more than that, Francis said, the period of a couple’s engagement becomes “an extraordinary opportunity for mission” for the “whole community.”
“The Christian community to which the engaged turn is called to cordially announce the Gospel to these people, because their experience of love can become a sacrament, an effective sign of salvation. In this circumstance, the redemptive mission of Jesus reaches the men and women in the concreteness of their love life.”
For many young people, the approach of marriage with all of the changes involved, can be a period of increased openness to a renewal of faith and encounter with “Jesus Christ, with the message of the Gospel and the Church’s doctrine,” the Pope said.
In this regard, teaching the truth about marriage and love becomes extremely important, Francis reminded the judges.
He quoted from Benedict XVI’s last speech to the Rota on Jan. 26, 2013, in which he said that “only in being open to the truth of God [...] is it possible to understand, and to achieve in the concreteness of life, even marriage and family, the truth of man…”
“The rejection of the divine proposal,” Benedict said, “in fact leads to a profound imbalance in all human relationships [...], including the matrimonial one.”
Pope Francis went on to quote from Lumen fidei, his first encyclical, which says that “Love needs truth. Just as it is based on truth, love can last in time, overcome the ephemeral moment and stand firm to support a common path.”
“If love has no relationship to the truth, it is subject to the changing feelings and does not pass the test of time,” Lumen fidei continues. “True love instead unifies all the elements of our person and becomes a new light towards a great and full life.”
From this perspective, another vital aspect of building up the truth of marriage is in continuing to support and strengthen couples even after the wedding, Francis said.
“You need to identify with courage and creativity, a training project for young married couples, with initiatives aimed at increasing awareness of the sacrament received.”
Often, he said, a young couple is left to themselves, perhaps because they are not even seen in the parish, or the birth of children keeps them busy, “but it is in these first moments of family life they must be guaranteed greater proximity and a strong spiritual support.”
“The Christian community is called to welcome, accompany and help young couples,” by offering them opportunities and tools, aside from just Sunday Mass, he said, including programs for within the parish and within the home.
The Pope concluded his speech by wishing the judges a good new year, reminding them that “it requires great courage to get married in the time in which we live. And the many who have the strength and the joy of making this important step should feel next to them the love and concrete closeness of the Church.”
WASHINGTON D.C., January 20 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York prayed for God’s wisdom as Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on Friday.
“Give us wisdom, for we are Your servants, weak and short-lived, lacking in comprehension of judgment and of laws. Indeed, though one might be perfect among mortals, if wisdom which comes from You be lacking, we count for nothing,” Cardinal Dolan prayed from the ninth chapter of the Book of Wisdom at the 58th Presidential Inauguration on Friday, on the steps of the West Front of the U.S. Capitol building.
Republican Donald Trump took the Oath of Office administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. An official estimate of the Inauguration attendance was not made, although estimates revealed the attendance to be significantly less than President Obama’s 2009 Inauguration.
Former Presidents Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were in attendance, as well as Barack Obama. Former vice presidents Dan Quayle and Dick Cheney were also present.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) spoke amidst a noticeable chorus of “Trump!” chants from the crowd.
The prayers at the Inauguration were openly Christian, with a reading by Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Rev. Dr. Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, an invocation by Pastor Paula White-Cain of the New Destiny Christian Center, and benedictions by Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Rev. Franklin Graham of Samaritan’s Purse, and Bishop Wayne T. Jackson of Great Faith Ministries International.
In his Inauguration reading, Cardinal Dolan prayed for God’s wisdom for the country.
“Send her [wisdom] forth from your holy heavens, from your glorious throne dispatch her, that she may be with us and work with us, that we may grasp what is pleasing to you,” he read. “For she knows and understands all things, and will guide us prudently in our affairs and safeguard us by her glory. Amen.”
Chair of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) called the ceremony a “celebration of democracy” and praised the tradition of a peaceful transfer of power between rivaling parties and administrations that dates back to the beginning of the country.
President Trump, in his First Inaugural Address with former President Obama seated behind him, cited the peaceful transfer of power but immediately pledged to return power “to you, the people.”
“For too long,” he said, “Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered, but the jobs left and the factories closed.”
He described a bleak picture of “American carnage” outside of Washington, D.C.:
“Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities, rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation. An education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of all knowledge. And the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.”
“This American carnage stops right here, and stops right now,” he said.
President Trump pleaded with Americans to look to the future and promised to put “America first” economically and in foreign policy.
“Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families,” he said. “We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs.”
He promised to “get our people off of welfare and back to work, rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.”
Regarding foreign policy, Trump promised to “unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth.”
And the new president cited the Bible in promoting a “solidarity” among Americans, albeit one first rooted in patriotism and “allegiance” to the country.
“At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other,” he said. “When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice.”
“The Bible tells us how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity. We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity.” He promised that America “will be protected by God.”
“A new national pride will stir ourselves,” he said, “and heal our divisions.”
“Whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots. We all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same American flag.”
Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., in a blog post on Friday, quoted from the “Prayer for Government” written by the first bishop in the U.S., Bishop John Carroll, for the first president George Washington, in 1791, in his prayer for the Inauguration.
“We pray Thee O God of might, wisdom, and justice, through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude President Donald Trump of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to Thy people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality.”
WASHINGTON D.C., January 20 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Catholics must fight the societal ills of contempt, poverty, and unemployment through solidarity, recent speakers at the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C. insisted.
“The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost,” Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, quoted the Gospel of Luke in his Jan. 17 address to Catholic University students on “bringing America together.”
“We're sought. We seek others,” he continued. “If we want to change public policy and we want to change American culture, it’s not good enough to burn a bunch of money to help poor people. What are you going to do today to need somebody at the peripheries of society?”
Brooks gave the first CEO lecture of 2017 at the Busch School of Business and Economics, in which he emphasized the importance of work in human dignity.
There are many poor or unemployed persons living “at the periphery” of society who “we prefer not to see,” he said, asking the students in attendance, “If all the poor people in Washington, D.C. suddenly disappeared, how would your life change?”
“I daresay that most of you, your friendships wouldn’t change,” he answered to the students, adding that “really, intimately,” their lives would “not change very much” without the poor nearby.
“This is a country that has split in two so much” that “we don’t need the poor,” he said. “We don’t need millions and millions of our fellow Americans in any meaningful way.”
One in six “able-bodied men” are not even looking for work, he noted, and rising rates of alcoholism, drug overdoses, and suicides among white working-class middle-aged men without college degrees are “unseen and unheard.”
Yet this phenomenon of not “needing” the poor is toxic to society, he said, because “we need every human.” Every person “has the same inherent dignity,” he insisted.
“That is the source, all the politics aside, of the divisiveness” in society, he said, of “what’s pulling us apart.” The problem of “contempt” for fellow human beings, what he described as “the utter conviction of the worthlessness of another human being” is also at the heart of societal problems.
How can Catholics fight this? By going to the peripheries, befriending those with whom they disagree, and creating jobs that give human dignity back to the poor and the marginalized, he said.
He used the example of a program of the New York -based Doe Fund “Ready, Willing & Able,” which helps formerly homeless persons by employing them.
They “get back on their feet through work, through ordinary, sanctified, hard, honest work,” Brooks said. “That’s the equalizer. Human dignity is equalized when we all work in a sanctified way.”
The previous week, on Jan. 10, Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego and Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston addressed a conference on “Erroneous Autonomy: The Dignity of Work.”
When global markets and institutions are divorced from morality, human dignity is threatened, they insisted. Catholic social teaching challenges the autonomy of markets by emphasizing the dignity of the worker and the right of workers to organize to protect their rights, they said.
“Increasing international trade and financial relationships, combined with rapidly advancing technological innovation and the world of the internet, have produced what we call globalization,” Cardinal O’Malley said.
“This development has produced enormous amounts of wealth but not a fair and just distribution of the proceeds,” he added.
Three current social trends are operating apart from morality and pose special dangers to the common good, Bishop McElroy observed.
“The first of these is the drive for the sovereignty of markets. The second is the technocratic paradigm which seeks dominance over the environment and culture. The third, and most worrying, is nationalism.”
“In a very real way they have been evacuated of moral substance and operate autonomously from any moral anchors as principles of politics and governance in our national life,” he said.
Globalism was said by St. John Paul II in his 1991 encyclical Centesimus annus to “lack morality,” Cardinal O’Malley noted. Thus, leaders “have the responsibility to establish a moral framework which can assess and direct the purposes and the consequences of globalization.”
Human dignity is “the cornerstone” of the Church’s social teaching, Cardinal O’Malley said, citing Pope Francis.
“This means that each individual is to be protected by a moral framework of human rights and that the work a person does, whether manual labor, mining, or intellectual and professional work, is understood as an expression of their dignity.”
The Church must work with unions to ensure the dignity of workers is protected against markets that are separated from morality, Cardinal O’Malley maintained.
“The case for unions is rooted in the Catholic sense of our responsibilities to each other as members of the human family; we are not to be left alone in society and or in the economy,” he said.
“We are called to support the right of workers, all workers, private and public sector workers, to organize and be represented in the marketplace and in negotiations by an institution, the union, which gives workers leverage and a voice in the major decisions affecting them and their families.”
Pope Francis “has been a strong public advocate for the dignity of labor, including making interventions when companies were intending significant elimination of jobs,” he continued, noting that the Pope “has argued strongly that in the midst of the forces of technology and globalization, people cannot be reduced to arguments for greater efficiency.”
Health care, the minimum wage, and immigration are all present-day issues closely tied to Catholic social teaching and the dignity of the worker, Cardinal O’Malley explained.
“Debates about minimum wages are most relevant to those closest to poverty,” he said. “Catholic teaching about the option for the poor places us in support of reasonable initiatives to raise the minimum wage.”
“Affordable health care is foundational for the well-being of individuals and families and lack of health care directly threatens human dignity,” he said, emphasizing that “our moral obligation not to abandon people in their times of need is clear.”
Just this past week, the U.S. bishops’ conference asked Congress not to repeal the Affordable Care Act without having a replacement plan in place that would ensure health care coverage for those who most need it.
“While every country must balance numerous factors in determining immigration policy, particularly with regard to security, our national history and our principles call us to be a welcoming society,” Cardinal O’Malley continued.
“For decades the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference has called for systematic immigration reform, including protection of undocumented individuals and families.”
ROME, ITALY, January 21 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Saturday Pope Francis encouraged Dominicans to persevere in their good works of the last 800 years, which have been like the “salt” and “light” of Christ, spreading the Gospel throughout the world.
The transition from the empty revelries of the world to the glorification of God “happens thanks to the good works of those who, becoming disciples of Jesus, have become ‘salt’ and ‘light,’” he said Jan. 21.
“So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven,” he quoted St. Matthew’s gospel.
Pope Francis celebrated Mass for Dominicans at the Basilica of St. John Lateran on the conclusion of the order’s Jubilee Year for the 800th anniversary of their founding.
The Pope praised their founder, St. Dominic, for spreading the Gospel and for giving a virtuous example by his life.
“Today we give glory to the Father for the work that St. Dominic, full of the light and salt of Christ, completed eight hundred years ago; a work to the service of the Gospel,” which he preached in both word and deed, he said.
This, Francis said, is the “solid support” against a “use-and-throw away” mentality, against a world constantly seeking new and novel things. It is combatted by “the good works we can do thanks to Christ and to his Holy spirit, and which give birth in the heart to thanksgiving to God the Father, to praise.”
Or if not leading to praise, that at least, by our example, people may ask “why? Why does that person behave this way?” and thus, the anxiety of the world is confronted by the testimony of the Gospel.
“Jesus makes it very clear,” the Pope said, “if the salt has lost its taste it is no longer good for anything. Woe to the salt that has lost its taste! Woe to a Church that has lost its taste! Woe to a priest, to a consecrated person, to a congregation that has lost its taste!”
St. Dominic’s works, on the other hand, “with the grace of the Holy Spirit,” have helped many men and women from getting lost in the superficial “carnival” of the world, he said.
The good works of the order have helped people to taste “the flavor of sound doctrine, the flavor of the Gospel, and they have become, in turn, light and salt, artisans of good works.”
MADRID, SPAIN, January 21 (CNA/EWTN News) .- The prison ministry founded by a Spanish Jesuit in the 1960s has had such fruits as a group of inmates donating their own money to help the needy at Christmas, according to the head of the foundation.
At Christmas of 2015, a group of prisoners in the Estremera prison in Madrid did their own food drive to buy non-perishable food with their own money from the prison store, Lola Navarro, president of the Father Garralda-Horizontes Abiertos Foundation, told CNA.
“All the prisoners who participated agreed to deliver the more than 220 pounds of food to the Fr. Garralda Foundation to help those they were thinking of, because they knew that there are people who needed it more than they did.”
Helping prisoners rebuild their lives, overcome addictions, and re-enter the workforce is a challenge that the Father Garralda-Horizontes Abiertos Foundation has been working toward for 40 years.
Navarro said Fr. Jaime Garralda began to work with prisoners and now serves, through his foundation, more than 200 people in prison, halfway homes for parolees, and with workshops on re-entering the workforce.
“Fr. Jaime Garralda, S.J., lived for 16 years in in a shanty town during the '60s. Many women there wanted to visit their husbands or children who were in prison. Fr. Garralda and some volunteers began to accompany them and began a social action work in the prisons, also addressing all those realities related to the prisons,” Navarro explained.
“We also have the figure of the 'volunteer resident', or prisoners who are at the end of their sentence who help others in the prison achieve their goals so they can set out on an itinerary so their stay in the prison is as bearable as possible.”
She pointed out how this is “beautiful, because that person sees that you have helped them and now they're the ones who get involved with the other prisoners to give back what was given to them, and the horizons that were opened up for them.”
The foundation has a rehabilitation center for prisoners who are addicted to drugs where more than 100 people live, with floors for HIV patients, and they vouch for prisoners who meet certain requirements so they can request a supervised leave.
“We call this assistance “toward freedom” because family members or friends need to give guarantees to ensure that the prisoner's leave from prison meets some minimum conditions and also that he will return when his permission to leave expires. We vouch for certain people who have no one to turn to and we help make this transition as good as possible,” Navarro said.
She commented that her favorite program is one they do for the children of mothers who are in prison: “We organize camps for the children, outings with the mothers, workshops to lessen the prejudices created by prison, and we help mothers and children have a little more of a normal life, at least for a few days.”
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