February 10, 2016
Facebook Twitter

A tale of Satanists and political maneuvering in Arizona

Phoenix, Ariz., February 9 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Even though the Satanists lost, they won.


Cover sins with the blanket of mercy, Pope Francis tells priests
Cardinal council wraps up prep work on new Vatican departments
How to be a great confessor – Pope Francis' advice for priests


A tale of Satanists and political maneuvering in Arizona


Cover sins with the blanket of mercy, Pope Francis tells priests

VATICAN CITY, February 9 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Pope Francis met with 650 of the 1,000 priests who've been chosen as Missionaries of Mercy, telling them to show the tenderness of God’s love to those who confess to them during the Jubliee.

“Let us not forget: before us there is not sin, but the repentant sinner. A person who feels the desire of being welcomed and forgiven,” and who no longer desires to be far from God, the Pope said Feb. 9.

He called to mind the biblical passage in which Noah, after the flood, got drunk from the wine he made in his vineyard, and was found lying naked inside his tent. While his son Ham laughed at him, Noah’s other sons, Shem and Japheth, covered him with a blanket.

When speaking with those who come to the confessional, as priests and as missionaries “we are not called to judge with a sense of superiority, as if we were immune to sin,” Francis said, but are instead asked to take on the attitude of Shem and Japheth, protected their father from shame.

“To be a confessor according to the heart of Christ means to cover the sinner with the blanket of mercy, so that they are no longer ashamed and can recover the joy of their filial dignity.”

Pope Francis met with the Missionaries of Mercy in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace to offer his reflections on their special role during the Jubilee. He will give them their official mandate during his Ash Wednesday Mass in St. Peter’s basilica Feb. 10.

Though more than 1,000 priests have been selected as Missionaries of Mercy, only 650 have made it to Rome for their official commission.

Selected from every continent, the missionaries, among other things, will be given the faculties to pardon sins in cases otherwise reserved to the Holy See.

Though there are several such sins, the Holy See has clarified that the faculties of the Missionaries of Mercy are “limited exclusively” to just four.

Namely, they are: Profaning the Eucharistic species by taking them away or keeping them for a sacrilegious purpose; the use of physical force against the Roman Pontiff; the absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the Sixth Commandment (“thou shall not commit adultery”) and a direct violation against the sacramental seal by a confessor.

In his speech, the Pope said that to be a Missionary of Mercy is a responsibility that has been entrusted to them “because it asks you to be in first person witnesses of God's closeness and of his way of loving.”

He clarified that this does not mean our way of loving, “which is always limited and at times contradictory,” but consists of God’s own style of loving and forgiving, “which is precisely mercy.”

Francis then brought up several points which for him are key themes for the missionaries to keep in mind while carrying out their role throughout the Holy Year.

The first thing he asked them to remember is that “you are called to express the maternity of the Church.”

“The Church is Mother” not only because she continuously generates new children in the faith, but also because she nurtures that faith and offers the forgiveness of God and new life, “(which is) the fruit of conversion,” he said.

If this perception of the Church as Mother fails “due to our rigidity, it would be a serious damage first of all for faith itself, because it would prevent the penitent from being inserted into the Body of Christ,” the Pope said, adding that it would also limit the penitent’s ability to feel like a part of the community.

What the missionaries are called to express instead, is a Church who, as a mother, “welcomes anyone who approaches her, knowing that through her they are inserted into Christ.”

No matter what the sin is that's been confessed, “every missionary is called to remember their own sinful existence and humbly place themselves as a channel of God's mercy,” he said.

Pope Francis then underlined the importance of the desire of forgiveness in the heart of those who come to confession.

This desire is the fruit of both grace and its action in peoples' lives, he said, reminding the missionaries that “this desire is the beginning of conversion.” Conversion, he noted, begins when the heart recognizes the evil it has done, but turns to God with the hope of obtaining forgiveness.

A person’s desire for forgiveness is strengthened when they decide “in their own heart to change their life and they don't want to sin anymore,” Francis explained, and told the missionaries to “give a lot of space for this desire for God and for his forgiveness.”

In his final point, the Pope pointed to “a component which is not spoken of much, but which is rather crucial: shame.”

It’s not easy to come before another man, a representative of God, and confess one’s sins, he noted, explaining that shame “is an intimate feeling that affects one's personal life and requires an attitude of respect and encouragement on the part of the confessor.”

Pointing to the image of Noah naked in the tent, Pope Francis said the passage, to him, emphasizes the importance of the role of a confessor.

“Before us there is a nude person, with their weaknesses and their limits, with the shame of being a sinner,” he said, and urged the missionaries to always remember that it’s not sin that sits in front of them in the confessional, but a repentant sinner.

Francis then noted that it’s not “the club of judgment” that brings lost sheep back to the flock, but rather, personal holiness, which he said is the true the source of renewal and reform within the Church.

“Holiness is nurtured by love and knows how to bring upon itself the weight of those who are most weak,” he said, explaining that the role of a missionary of mercy is to carry the sinner “on their own back,” and console them with “the strength of compassion.”

The Pope told the missionaries, when burdened by the weight of the sins confessed to them as well as their own personal limitations and lack of words, to put their trust “in the strength of mercy, which goes out to everyone as a love which knows no bounds.”

He closed his address by assuring the missionaries of his prayers and asking that Mary would assist and intercede for them in their service during the Jubilee.

Cardinal council wraps up prep work on new Vatican departments

VATICAN CITY, February 9 (CNA/EWTN News) .- As Pope Francis' ongoing process of reform continues to move forward, his council of advisers have finished their proposals for two new Vatican departments, which would merge several others together.

Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi told journalists Feb. 9 that in their most recent meeting, the Pope’s Council of Cardinals gave a “final reading” of the proposals for two new Vatican departments, which are also referred to as “dicasteries.”

While proposals for the new dicasteries, which would be dedicated to “Laity, family and life,” and “Justice, peace and migration,” has been on the table for some time, in this round of meetings “the proposals were finalized and given to the Pope for his decision,” Fr. Lombardi said.

The cardinals met in Rome for just a day and half Feb. 8-9 – a shorter period than their usual, three-day round of meetings. All of the nine members were present except for Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay, who is currently recovering from a planned procedural operation in December.

Originally pitched in late 2014, the idea for the new dicasteries has been under development for some time.

As of September 2015, the idea was that the department for Laity, Family, and Life would absorb the Pontifical Councils for the Laity and Family, and the Pontifical Academy of Life, while the department for Justice, Peace and Migration would take on the tasks of the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace, Migrants, Cor Unum and Health Care.

However, with the final proposals turned into the Pope, it's up to Francis to decide how to move forward in implementing the council's recommendations.

Another point addressed during the brief session was a deepening of the Pope’s speech for the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops, which he gave to the bishops and cardinals participating in the Synod on the Family Oct. 17, 2015.

The speech, in which the Pope spoke extensively about the theme of “synodality” and emphasized the need for a “healthy de-centralization,” will be “important for the work of the reform of the Curia,” Fr. Lombardi said.

In addition to the Pope’s speech and the reading of the proposals for the new dicasteries, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston also spoke about the activities of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which he heads.

Specifically mentioned were the legal and disciplinary matters that involve the competence of the dicasteries of the Curia. These, the spokesman explained, “must be further explored.”

Cardinal George Pell, Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, also gave an update to the council on the state of reform in economic field, including new initiatives and introductions on procedures being carried out by the secretariat.

The cardinals also received a document prepared by the Tribunal of the Rota on the implementation of the new canonical process on the validity of marriage. Fr. Lombardi explained that the document is intended for dioceses, and is “on its way from the Rota to the dioceses.”

The eventual reform of Secretariat of State and the Pontifical Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline was also touched on briefly, though the Vatican spokesman stressed that as of now there is nothing concrete, but that the reform is “a work in progress.”

In addition to the meeting of the council, Pope Francis also appointed new heads to two of the three departments forming the new Secretariat for Communications.

The three departments of the Secretariat of Communication will include the Theological-Pastoral, the Technical Management and the department for editorial staff, which is expected to lead to a “radio-television” Vatican, uniting both Vatican Radio and the Vatican Television Center.

Heading the Theological-Pastoral department, which will likely take on the functions of the former Pontifical Council for Social communications, is Natasa Govekar, who teaches the theology workshop “Cardinal T. Spidlik” at the Aletti Center in Rome.

Additionally, the department for Technical Management, which will be charged with centralizing in a single technological platform, will be overseen by Francesco Masci, who until now has served in the Technical Area of the Vatican Internet Service.

The announcement of Govekar and Masci’s appointments came in a Feb. 9 communique from the Vatican, and constitutes part of Francis’ ongoing reform of Vatican communications.

How to be a great confessor – Pope Francis' advice for priests

VATICAN CITY, February 9 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Priests who are good confessors must recognize their own sins in order to forgive and comfort penitents, Pope Francis said one day before the start of the Lenten season.

“I speak to you as a brother, and through you I would like to speak to all confessors, especially in this Year of Mercy: the confessional is for forgiveness,” the Pope said in his homily Feb. 9 in St. Peter’s Basilica. He celebrated the Mass with Capuchin Franciscan friars from around the world.

Even if priests cannot give absolution in some cases, the Pope told them, “please, do not beat up on the penitent.”

Someone who comes to the confessional is seeking “comfort, pardon, peace in his soul.”

“Let him find a father who embraces him and says, ‘God loves you,’ and makes the penitent feel that God really does,” the Pope said.

Reflecting on the Capuchin Franciscan tradition as one of giving forgiveness, he cited the many well-known Capuchin confessors like St. Leopold of Mandic and St. Pio of Pietrelcina, more commonly known as Padre Pio.

Relics of both saints, including the body of Padre Pio, have been brought to Rome as a special initiative for the Catholic Church’s Year of Mercy. The Pope’s Tuesday morning Mass marked these special events.

He said these saints are good confessors “because they feel like sinners” – they are forgiven when they know how to ask for it in prayer.

When someone forgets the necessity of being forgiven, they slowly forget God, the Pope explained. They forget to ask for forgiveness and they don't know how to forgive. The humble priest, the one who feels like a sinner, is a great forgiver in the sacrament of Confession. Others who wrongly feel themselves pure “only know how to condemn.”

“I ask you: don’t get tired of forgiving!” the Pope exhorted. “Be men of forgiveness, reconciliation, peace.”

Pope Francis suggested that a penitent’s coming to the confessional is a telling gesture.

“If a person comes to me in the confessional, it’s because they feel burdened by something heavy, and they want to remove it,” he said. “Maybe they don't know how to say it, but the gesture is there.”

“If this person comes it's because they want to change, not to do it again, to be another person,” he continued.

He noted that many times penitents cannot change because of their psychological conditions, their lives or their situation.

He encouraged confessors to be “great forgivers,” not condemners. He noted that the Bible depicts Satan as “the great accuser.”

“Forgiveness is a seed, a caress of God. Trust in the forgiveness of God,” the Pope told priests.



A tale of Satanists and political maneuvering in Arizona

PHOENIX, ARIZ., February 9 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Even though the Satanists lost, they won.

That's the opinion of Phoenix city councilman Sal Diciccio, a practicing Catholic who was embroiled in a heated debate over whether or not a Satanic group would be allowed to give the opening prayer at an upcoming council meeting.

Last week, the sharply divided city council voted 5-4 to adopt a moment of silence instead of prayer at the opening of council meetings, effectively blocking an upcoming invocation by a Satanic temple member from Tucson, but also banning all prayer in the future.

Diciccio, who voted against the moment of silence, said that banning all prayer was the real end game for the Satanists.

“It wasn't about one prayer, they wanted to ban all prayer,” Diciccio said. “That’s their win...they accomplished their goal.”

There could have been other ways to effectively block the Satanist group without banning prayer, a tradition of the city council for 65 years, Diciccio said. First and foremost, the city council could have banned the group on the basis that they were not from the community and that they don’t consider themselves a religion, he said.

“The fact is that they’re from Tuscon and we’re from Phoenix, we had every right to say look, you’re not a part of our community,” he said. “That was paramount to block them from being there.”

The four councilmen who ended up voting against the moment of silence also had presented alternative prayer practices that the council could have adopted, such as appointing  a council chaplain.

Diccicio said he approached City Attorney Brad Holm with the proposal that the city council could ask the chaplains of the Phoenix police and fire departments to come in and offer prayers on a rotating basis, since their chaplains are already in place and would not cost the city council any extra money. The proposal was denied.  

“Do you know what he said? He said they're Christian, and you can't do that,” Diciccio said.

The dissenting members of the council also proposed a model like that of the Arizona state legislature, which allows each member to personally invite someone to offer a prayer on a rotating basis.

Josh Kredit is the General Counsel and Vice President of Policy for Center for Arizona Policy (CAP), a nonprofit research and education organization that promotes and defends traditional values of life, marriage and family, and religious freedom. He said the state's practice holds members accountable for the prayers offered.

“If a council member wanted to sponsor a Satanist prayer, they could do that, but they would also live with any kind of backlash like what we saw the other night, versus this system where everyone just kind of throws up their hands and says well it’s a process, there’s nothing we can do,” Kredit said.

In their May 2014 decision Town of Greece v. Galloway, the Supreme Court upheld the right of public bodies to allow prayer under certain parameters, Kredit said. The city council could have had a constitutionally sound argument for changing their prayer practices without directly discriminating against Satanic groups, he added.

On Wednesday of last week, before the vote of the city council on the issue, more than a hundred people attended a the city council meeting, giving emotional testimonies that lasted more than two hours - many in opposition to the Satanic prayer. No Satanists addressed the council at the meeting.

"I am not for the silent prayer," Pastor Darlene Vasquez said at the meeting, according to “I want those who believe in the one true God to pray. It breaks my heart to hear what is going on."

Diciccio, who said he is known for being outspoken on social issues, told a local T.V. news channel that allowing the Satanic group to proceed with the prayer would have been like inviting ISIS to offer an invocation. The newscaster argued that the comparison was unfair.

“But I said well, Satanism is the epitome of evil, if you think (ISIS) is evil, where do you think this all comes from?” Diciccio said.

The city council has heard many different types of prayer in its 65 years of the tradition, Diciccio said, not all of them necessarily from the Christian tradition, but all of them positive in some way. He said he believes a Satanic prayer would be fundamentally unhealthy for the city.

“I don’t think people really understand the depth of (the consequences) of allowing a satanic prayer,” Diciccio said. “I believe that is an unhealthy thing for a community. There’s this blase attitude that what’s going on is ok - I don’t think it’s ok, I don’t think it’s right.”

The Satanic temple had threatened to sue the city council if they were banned from prayer, but have dropped the idea since the passing of the moment of silence. According to, some city council members believed that the city could not have afforded the lawsuit.

Still, Diciccio said he is worried that the decision to get rid of prayer in the city council could have a domino effect on the rest of the state, and even other states around the country.
“I think Phoenix is kind of at the forefront, but I think this is going to be a debate nationwide,” he said.

“We have (public prayer) all over the country,” he added. “If it’s done somewhere else, why can’t it be done here? It’s not logical. And the Supreme Court said if you do it right, you can constitutionally protect it.”  

Fr. Vince Lampert, a nationally known exorcist who travels the country speaking out spiritual realities, agreed that the move was a win for the Satanic group.

“The decision by the Phoenix City Council is a victory for the Satanists who wish to remove God from the public forum,” Father Lampert told CNA. “By opting for a moment of silence the only One who is silenced is God.”

“Humans have the innate desire and need for God,” he added.  “St. Augustine put it best: ‘Our hearts are restless, O Lord, until they rest in you.’  When God is silenced from such settings as this City Council, it only further distances humanity from God and increases the emptiness of society as a whole. It is within this emptiness that Satan dwells.”

Daily Catholic
Saint of the day: St. Scholastica
Homily of the day:


We Recommend:
Life And Family | Natural Planning | Birth Control | Contraception, Lies and the Truth
Apologetics | Belief in God | Bible Tradition and Church
Documents | Pope Benedict XVI | Encyclicals | Apostolic Letters
Sacraments | The Seven Sacraments | Sacraments: gifts that ‘matter
Rosary | How to Pray a Family Rosary




This is the news service of Catholic News Agency
Unsubscribe: Click here to unsubscribe online
Update your email address:

Visit our website:
Copyright © Catholic News Agency. All rights reserved