|At Auschwitz, Pope prays for God's forgiveness
Krakow, Poland, July 29 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Pope Francis paid a solemn visit to the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps on Friday, where over a million people are believed to have lost their lives. At the memorials, he gave no speech and prayed in silence, but instead wrote in the guest book two simple lines begging for God's mercy and forgiveness.
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NEW YORK CITY, N.Y., July 29 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Mike Piazza, the newest inductee of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, has given a shout-out to Pope Benedict XVI and his mother Veronica.
“She gave me the gift of my Catholic faith, which has had a profound impact on my career and has given me patience, compassion and hope,” Piazza said in his induction speech Sunday.
“Pope Benedict XVI said, ‘One who has hope, lives differently.’ Mom, you raised five boys, and you were always there for me.”
Piazza, 47, played catcher for the New York Mets and other teams. He hit 427 home runs in his professional career. He began his professional baseball career with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1992 and played with the Mets from 1998-2005. He was a 12-time All Star player and a 10-time Silver Slugger Award winner. He retired in 2007.
He is only the second Hall of Fame player to be inducted as a Met.
Piazza had attended 7:30 Mass at Cooperstown’s Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church, the New York Post’s sports columnist Kevin Kiernan reported.
Afterward, he asked for a special blessing from the priest, Father John Rosson.
“Yes, it was quite humbling,” Fr. Rosson said on the church website. “Mike was very humble…I was tongue tied when he asked for a blessing and I did not realize that I had a live ‘mike’ on.”
The baseball star signed autographs and took pictures with parishioners. The church is only a 10-minute walk from the hall of fame.
About 50,000 people attended the induction ceremony, including many of Piazza’s past teammates and 48 returning Hall of Famers. Piazza was inducted into the hall of fame alongside Ken Griffey, Jr., a past star for the Cincinnati Reds and Seattle Mariners.
Piazza also thanked his father, Vince, who was present at the ceremony.
“My father’s faith in me, often greater than my own, is the single most important factor of me being inducted into this Hall of Fame. Thank you, Dad.”
Piazza noted that his father had had a major stroke several years before.
“We made it, Dad. The race is over. Now it’s time to smell the roses,” he said.
The Mets star also thanked the team’s fans.
“How can I put into words my love and appreciation for New York Mets fans. Looking back into this crowd of blue and orange brings me back to the greatest time of my life,” he said. “The thing I miss most is making you cheer.”
LAFAYETTE, LA., July 28 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Father Felix David Broussard, a priest of the Diocese of Lafayette, La., was arrested yesterday for allegedly possessing more than 500 images of child pornography, according to local police.
In a statement, the Diocese reported that Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel and diocesan staff were “saddened” to learn of the arrest of the priest, who was immediately placed on administrative leave from active priestly ministry.
“The Diocese takes these allegations very seriously and is cooperating fully in every way possible with the investigation,” the statement read.
The arrest followed a complaint filed with the Louisiana State Police Special Victims unit, alleging that a computer that the priest had primary access to contained images of child pornography.
The unit’s investigation reportedly uncovered over 500 images of pornography involving juveniles, and Fr. Broussard was placed under arrest and booked at the St. Martin Parish jail.
In a news release, state police said they “worked closely with the Diocese of Lafayette during the course of this investigation.”
“Louisiana State Police will continue to maintain working relationships with partner law enforcement agencies, individuals, and private entities statewide in an attempt to locate and arrest those individuals who commit crimes against children.”
Bishop Deshotel called a press conference soon after the arrest, saying he wanted to “get the word out as soon as possible.”
The bishop said that while Fr. Broussard is innocent until proven guilty, the diocese immediately and temporarily relieved the priest of his duties pending the outcome of the investigation, in compliance with their Safe Environment policies and the U.S. Bishop’s Charter for the Protection of Youth.
A different priest will be temporarily placed at the parish to continue serving the needs of the faithful.
In an interview with local news station KLFY, Bishop Deshotel said that the diocese had never heard a complaint against Father Broussard, who was ordained for the diocese in 1993.
“Only good letters from people who loved him in the parish. But you know this kind of illness hides itself in a person. We don’t know,” he told KLFY.
Possession of child pornography is not only a state crime, but it is “a crime in church law also. It preys on the most vulnerable in our community and must be vigorously confronted,” the bishop noted in his press conference.
“I want to also add my sincere thanks to the officers of the Louisiana State Police for their professionalism and courtesy, as well as their commitment also to protecting the young and the innocent. It was an honor for me to work with them in the common goal that we share - protecting the innocent.”
KRAKOW, POLAND, July 29 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Pope Francis paid a solemn visit to the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps on Friday, where over a million people are believed to have lost their lives. At the memorials, he gave no speech and prayed in silence, but instead wrote in the guest book two simple lines begging for God's mercy and forgiveness.
"Lord have mercy on your people! Lord, forgiveness for so much cruelty!" the Pope wrote in the “Memory Book” shortly after praying in the darkened cell of St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Catholic priest martyred in Auschwitz.
The pontiff's day began with a stop at the original camp (known as Auschwitz I), where he prayed for several minutes in silence in the courtyard of the complex.
He was then taken by car to the camp's infamous Block 11 building. There, he was welcomed by Poland’s Prime Minister Beata Szydlo. He then individually greeted a group of ten men and women who had survived the Holocaust.
The Pope was given a candle which he used to light a bronze lamp at the site. The lamp, which contains images of the Auschwitz fence line, as well as the Heart of Jesus, was his gift to the Auschwitz museum.
The pontiff then entered the Block 11 – a brick building where prisoners were tortured – and briefly visited the various rooms. He stopped for a lengthy period of time to pray in St. Maximilian Kolbe's cell.
Francis was then taken by car to the Birkenau camp – otherwise known as Auschwitz II. Little now remains of the camp, which had been the site of the Nazi gas chambers, where hundreds of thousands of prisoners were killed, and the crematoriums where their bodies where incinerated.
The Pope silently paid homage before the row of commemorative plaques which now mark the site. He walked slowly past each plaque, before lighting a candle and praying for a moment in silence. After this, a man chanted the Psalm 130, which reads: “Out of the depths, I cry to you, O Lord.”
Finally, following his prayer at the memorial, Francis met with a group of 25 non-Jewish men and women who had risked their lives to save Jews from mass extermination at the hands of the Nazis.
Because of their actions during World War II, they have been given the honorific title “Righteous among the Nations” by the State of Israel for their role in helping the Jews during the Holocaust.
Also present at the ceremony were survivors of the Holocaust, like Lidia, 75, who recounted to journalists being brought to Auschwitz at three years old, where she was stripped naked and tattooed with a number on her arm. It took nearly 20 years for her to be reunited with her mother following the liberation of the camps by allied forces.
The July 29 Papal visit was made to two out of the three main Auschwitz camps, where as many as 1.5 million people are believed to have died under the Nazi regime.
Pope Francis' visit to the camps marks the second full day of his July 27-31 trip to Poland, where he is leading World Youth Day celebrations in Krakow.
KRAKOW, POLAND, July 28 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Married couples were the focus of Pope Francis’ second “balcony talk” in Poland on Thursday, receiving from him three words he has often said are key to a successful marriage.
“Sometimes they ask me how to make it so that the family always goes forward and overcomes difficulties,” the Pope said July 28, adding that when this happens, “I suggest to them to practice three words.”
Speaking in his native Spanish, he said these words “can help to live married life because in married life there are difficulties,” adding that marriage is something we have to take care of, “because it’s forever.”
The three words are “permission, thanks, and forgiveness.”
Pope Francis was speaking at the end of his first full day in Poland, where he is spending July 27-31 for World Youth Day. Each night when he comes back to Krakow after the day’s activities, Francis is set to appear on the balcony of the local archbishop’s palace to address youth gathered below.
The tradition was begun by St. John Paul II, who spoke to youth from the balcony every time he visited his homeland as Pope – had been Krakow's archbishop from 1964 until his 1978 election as Bishop of Rome. It was continued by Benedict XVI when he visited Poland in 2006, and is now being carried on by Francis.
In yesterday’s encounter Francis recounted the moving story of a young student who rediscovered his faith after leaving school to volunteer for WYD in designing the banners that currently line Krakow’s streets, but passed away from cancer before the event arrived. He praised the young man’s faith, and encouraged the youth gathered to spread the joy of their faith in Christ throughout the city.
In his speech from the balcony Thursday, he focused on married couples, explaining that whenever he sees a young couple is getting married or has just done so, “I tell them they are the ones who have courage, because it’s not easy to form a family.”
“It’s not easy to make a life commitment, it takes courage, and I congratulate them because they have courage,” he said, noting that the three words “permission, thanks, and forgiveness” come in handy every day of married life.
These newly married listened to the Pope's advice for couples: https://t.co/qYPfKuvr3y Pics: @kateveik #Krakow2016 pic.twitter.com/Hxra8Lmr7R
— Catholic News Agency (@cnalive) July 28, 2016 On the topic of permission, the Pope said to “always ask your spouse, the wife to the husband and the husband to the wife, ‘what do you think, what do you think if we do this?’” rather than just “running over” the other without getting their opinion.
He also stressed the need to be grateful, “because it’s the spouses who confer the sacrament of marriage, one to the other. And this sacramental relationship is maintained with this sentiment of gratitude, of thanks.”
The third word, he noted, is forgiveness, which is “a very hard word to say.” In marriage, mistakes are always made, he said, noting that the important thing is to know how recognize one’s mistakes and ask for forgiveness.
This “does a lot of good,” Francis continued, urging families and engaged couples to “remember these three words, which will help you to a lot in married life: permission, thank you, and forgiveness.”
In marriage “there are always problems or discussions. It’s habitual and it happens that the husband and wife argue, raise their voice, fight,” he said, noting that “somethings the plates fly.”
“But don’t panic when this happens,” he said, and advised couples to never finish a day without making peace, “because the cold war the day after is very dangerous.”
A simple gesture is enough to make this peace, he said, tapping his face twice, adding that “when there is love, a gesture fixes everything.”
Pope Francis then invited the youth to pray for all the families who were present, for those who are married and those who are engaged, and led the crowd in praying a Hail Mary, each country in their own language.
KRAKOW, POLAND, July 28 (CNA/EWTN News) .- For young people who have given up on life, or who waste their existence seeking out “empty thrills,” Pope Francis proposes an alternative: Look to Christ, for only he can bring lasting fulfillment.
“Jesus can give you true passion for life” and “can inspire us not to settle for less, but to give the very best of ourselves,” the Pope said July 28 during a massive welcoming ceremony at Krakow's Blonia Park, one of his first encounters with young people during this year's World Youth Day celebrations.
In his address to the crowds, the Roman Pontiff observed how many young people are entering into an “early retirement,” and “throw in the towel” before their lives have begun.
Others, he said, “waste their lives” seeking out “empty thrills” in order to feel alive. “It is disturbing to see young people squandering some of the best years of their lives, wasting their energies running after peddlers of fond illusions,” he said.
He challenged young people instead to seek out lasting fulfillment from another source. “To find fulfillment, to gain new strength, there is a way,” he said. “It is not a thing or an object, but a person, and he is alive. His name is Jesus Christ.”
The Pope then went off script, enthusiastically calling on the young people to answer: “Can you buy Jesus Christ? Is Jesus Christ sold in stores? Jesus Christ is a gift! A gift from the Father!”
Thursday evening's welcome ceremony marks Pope Francis' first full day in Poland during his July 27-31 trip for the 31st World Youth Day.
In his address to the crowds, Pope Francis began by expressing his gratitude toward St. John Paul II, who founded World Youth Day in the 1980s.
“From his place in heaven, he is with us and he sees all of you,” he said. “So many young people from such a variety of nations, cultures and languages but with one aim, that of rejoicing that Jesus is living in our midst.”
The Pope explained that in rekindling our enthusiasm to follow Christ and our desire to be his disciples, we are saying he is alive.
“What better opportunity to renew our friendship with Jesus than by building friendships among yourselves!” he said. “What better way to build our friendship with Jesus than by sharing him with others!
“What better way to experience the contagious joy of the Gospel than by striving to bring the Good News to all kinds of painful and difficult situations!”
Citing the theme of this WYD – “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall find mercy” – Francis said, “blessed indeed are they who can forgive, who show heartfelt compassion, who are capable of offering the very best of themselves to others.”
Francis remarked on the “festive mood” of the event in Poland, and with all the young people taking part both in person and via modern media, “we are going to make this World Youth Day an authentic Jubilee celebration.”
“Nothing is more beautiful than seeing the enthusiasm, dedication, zeal and energy with which so many young people live their lives,” he said.
“When Jesus touches a young person’s heart, he or she becomes capable of truly great things.”
The Roman Pontiff described his excitement in listening to the young people share their dreams, their questions, and “impatience with those who say that things cannot change.”
“It is beautiful and heartwarming to see all that restlessness!” he said. “Today the Church looks to you and wants to learn from you, to be reassured that the Father’s Mercy has an ever-youthful face, and constantly invites us to be part of his Kingdom.”
“Knowing your enthusiasm for mission, I repeat: mercy always has a youthful face!”
A merciful heart is one which seeks to go beyond its comfort zone, to go out and embrace everyone, the Roman Pontiff continued.
It is also a “place of refuge” for the homeless, refugees, and migrants; “it knows the meaning of tenderness and compassion.”
“To say the word 'mercy' along with you is to speak of opportunity, future, commitment, trust, openness, hospitality, compassion and dreams.”
The Pope then spoke off the cuff, saying that "when the heart is open, it is able to dream; there is a room for mercy, there is room to caress those who suffer."
“There is room to place oneself next to those who lack peace in their heart, or who lack the necessities of life, or who lack the most beautiful thing: the faith.”
Francis discouraged young people from entering into an “early retirement” – referring particularly to those “who are defeated even before they begin to play, who walk around glumly as if life has no meaning.”
“Deep down, young people like this are bored… and boring!” he said.
The Pope also said he is troubled when young people “waste their lives looking for thrills or a feeling of being alive by taking dark paths and in the end having to pay for it… and pay dearly.”
“It is disturbing to see young people squandering some of the best years of their lives, wasting their energies running after peddlers of fond illusions.”
He challenged young people with an alternative: to seek the “power of grace” which gives them a “lasting sense of life and fulfillment.”
“To find fulfillment, to gain new strength, there is a way. It is not a thing or an object, but a person, and he is alive. His name is Jesus Christ.”
“Jesus can give you true passion for life,” he said, and “can inspire us not to settle for less, but to give the very best of ourselves.”
“Jesus challenges us, spurs us on and helps us keep trying whenever we are tempted to give up. Jesus pushes us to keep our sights high and to dream of great things.”
Francis spoke of the Gospel account of Christ visiting the home of his friends Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. As the account goes, Martha is kept busy with the duties of entertaining Christ, while Mary simply visits with their guest.
“Our many jobs and responsibilities can make us a bit like Martha: busy, scattered, constantly running from place to place. But we can also be like Mary: whenever we see a beautiful landscape, or look at a video from a friend on our cellphone, we can stop and think, stop and listen…”
“Jesus wants to stop and enter our home,” Pope Francis reflected. “He will look at us hurrying about with all our concerns, as he did with Martha… and he will wait for us to listen to him, like Mary, to make space for him amid the bustle.”
In a challenge to young people, the Pope said that if they “want a complete life”, they must begin by letting themselves “be open and attentive.”
This is “because happiness is sown and blossoms in mercy,” he said: “That is his answer, his offer, his challenge, his adventure: mercy.”
Francis turned to Mary of Nazareth, and her “daring 'Yes'” which “launched her on the adventure of mercy.”
“All generations would call her blessed,” he said: “to all of us she is the 'Mother of Mercy'.”
The Pope challenged all the youth present to pray that they may be launched “on the adventure of mercy.”
“Launch us on the adventure of building bridges and tearing down walls, barriers and barbed wire,” he prayed. “Launch us on the adventure of helping the poor, those who feel lonely and abandoned, or no longer find meaning in their lives.”
“Here we are, Lord! Send us to share your merciful love,” he concluded, expressing his desire to welcome Christ “in our midst during this World Youth Day.”
“We want to affirm that our lives are fulfilled when they are shaped by mercy, for that is the better part, and it will never be taken from us.”
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN, July 29 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Following Tuesday's mass killing at a care home in Japan for persons with mental disabilities, one of the country's bishops has said the incident demonstrates the need for such persons to be valued and protected by society.
“Disabled people have to be protected,” Bishop Tarcisio Isao Kikuchi of Niigata told CNA.
He added: “A society which will not protect the weak has no respect for human dignity.”
In the early hours of July 26 an attacker entered the Tsukui Yamayuri-en facility in Sagamihara, some 20 miles northwest of Yokohama, stabbing 19 people to death. The dead ranged in age from 19 to 70, and another 25 people were wounded.
Shortly after the attack, 26-year-old Satoshi Uematsu, a former employee of the care center, turned himself in to local police and was arrested.
Uematsu had written a letter to Japan's parliament in February advocating for euthanasia of persons with disabilities, saying it would be better if they “disappeared.”
“My goal is a world in which the severely disabled can be euthanised, with their guardians' consent, if they are unable to live at home and be active in society,” he had written.
In that letter Uematsu had threatened to kill hundreds of disabled persons, according to Kyodo news agency. After delivering the letter, he was kept in a hospital for nearly two weeks before being released.
Bishop Kikuchi condemned the attack, saying it was “a serious attack against human life and human dignity, which we believe to have the greatest value of all.”
He expressed hope that after “this sad incident the general public of Japan would have a chance to consider the importance of human dignity and the importance of providing support to the weak in society.”
Such mass killings are extremely rare in Japan, which has strict gun control laws. The last was in 2008, when a man stabbed seven people to death in a Tokyo shopping district.
Bishop Kikuchi said, “I am just unable to find any words to express my shock and sorrow upon hearing the new of the mass stabbing … I am so sorry to the families of the victims and hope that they would receive the necessary support.”
He also voiced concern over the low wages earned by employees of care centers like Tsukui Yamayuri-en, and said Japan's system of protecting its weakest “needs to be revisited.”
The bishop also said that among the factors influencing deteriorating values in Japan is that the country's “traditional family system is quickly disappearing, and that is strongly affecting the value afforded to human life.”
He asserted that since World War II, the citizens of his country have pursued “material success, and after several recessions in the past 20 years, the general feeling of the public is always that our dream days, like the '70s and '80s, would come back again.”
“So the standard of value in society is based on monetary gain and because of the past 20 years' recessions, many young people have … lost hope for the future,” Bishop Kikuchi lamented.
He also stated that education in Japan “in the past 70 years has managed to keep young people away from traditional religious values. Religion is something very foreign to many youth in Japan, and the absence of God does not contribute to establish a morals-based value system in our society.”
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