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Pope Francis to Chile's bishops: 'the mission belongs to the entire Church'

Santiago, Chile, Jan 16, 2018 / 02:52 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis reminded the Chilean bishops of the importance of living out their priestly fatherhood united in mission with their people in his final address on Tuesday, the first full day of his apostolic trip to Chile and Peru.

“Stay close to your priests, like Saint Joseph, with a fatherhood that helps them to grow and to develop the charisms that the Holy Spirit has wished to pour out,” the Pope said Jan. 16 in the sacristy of the Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral.

He began his address by greeting Archbishop Bernardino Piñera Carvallo, who at 102 is the oldest bishop in the world. He is Archbishop Emeritus of La Serena and has been retired since 1990. Piñera was ordained a priest in 1947. He was consecrated a bishop in 1958, and attended the Second Vatican Council. The Pope called him a “marvellous living memory.”

In his address, Pope Francis stressed the importance of unity, especially at a time when secular individualism leaves many feeling isolated and alone: “One of the problems facing our societies today is the sense of being orphaned, the feeling of not belonging to anyone. This ‘post-modern’ feeling can seep into us and into our clergy. We begin to think that we belong to no one; we forget that we are part of God’s holy and faithful people.”

Pope Francis warned the bishops that they are not immune to this individualistic postmodern temptation, particularly in the form of clericalism, the narrow view of the Church as only “an elite of consecrated men and women, priests and bishops.”

“The mission belongs to the entire Church, and not to the individual priest or bishop,” said Pope Francis, stressing that clericalism poses the risk of stifling “the initiatives that the Spirit may be awakening in our midst.”

The Pope emphasized that seminaries must prepare future priests to avoid clericalism and for the challenges of postmodern secularism, saying, “Tomorrow’s priests must be trained with a view to the future, since their ministry will be carried out in a secularized world. This in turn demands that we pastors discern how best to prepare them for carrying out their mission in these concrete circumstances and not in our 'ideal worlds or situations'.”

The mission of today's seminarians is to be “carried out in fraternal unity with the whole People of God,” he said. “Side by side, supporting and encouraging the laity in a climate of discernment and synodality, two of the essential features of the priest of tomorrow. Let us say no to clericalism and to ideal worlds that are only part of our thinking, but touch the life of no one.”

He added that the bishops must “beg and implore” from the Holy Spirit “the gift of dreaming and working for a missionary and prophetic option capable of transforming everything, so that our customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and ecclesial structures can be suitably channelled for the evangelization of Chile rather than for ecclesiastical self-preservation. Let us not be afraid to strip ourselves of everything that separates us from the missionary mandate.”

With this address to bishops, Pope Francis ended the public portion of the first full day of his Jan. 15-22 apostolic trip to Chile and Peru.

He had earlier met also with Chile’s civil leaders, whom he asked forgiveness on behalf of the Church for the sexual abuse scandals among the country's clerics; female prisoners; priests and religious; and the country's bishops.

The Pope will spend two more days in Chile visiting Santiago, Temuco, and Iquique before he heads off to Peru.

Admit your wounds and receive mercy, Pope tells Chilean priests, religious

Santiago, Chile, Jan 16, 2018 / 02:13 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis said Tuesday that even amid the pain which results from sinfulness, the Church can still serve the world if she acknowledges the reality of her woundedness and puts Christ and his mercy at the center of all things.

"We are not asked to ignore or hide our wounds. A Church with wounds can understand the wounds of today's world and make them her own, suffering with them, accompanying them and seeking to heal them," the Pope said Jan. 16 at the Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral in Santiago, Chile.

"A wounded Church does not make herself the center of things, does not believe that she is perfect, but puts at the center the one who can heal those wounds, whose name is Jesus Christ."

Pope Francis spoke during an encounter with priests, deacons, religious men and women, consecrated, and seminarians, where he was welcomed by Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati Andrello of Santiago.  The meeting took place as part of the Pope's Jan. 15-22 apostolic visit to Chile and Peru.

Cardinal Ezzati reflected that “presbyteral and consecrated life in Chile have and do endure difficult times of turbulence,” and that while many have been faithful, “the weeds of evil have also grown, and their consequence of scandal and desertion.” He thanked Pope Francis for “your words which denounce sin and lukewarmness and, at the same time, your continuous calls to live the beauty of the election and the apostolic dedication of the consecrated vocation.”

Pope Francis said that it doesn't help to try to hide wounds and sins: "whether we like it or not, we are called to face reality as it is – our own personal reality and the reality of our communities and societies."

Even St. Peter had to acknowledge that he "was a sinner like everyone else, as needy as the others, as frail as anyone else,” Francis emphasized. “As disciples, as a Church, we can have the same experience: there are moments when we have to face not our success but our weakness.”

What made St. Peter an apostle? What makes us apostles? he asked. One thing alone: that we have received the mercy of Christ.

Francis outlined three moments in the Gospels where we can learn from St. Peter, even as imperfect and sinful people, to bring Christ to the world. These three moments the Pope called Peter disheartened, Peter shown mercy, and Peter transfigured.

Before the resurrection, but following Christ's passion, St. Peter and the other apostles were “dismayed and confused,” Francis said. “These are the hours of dismay and confusion in the life of the disciple,” he said.

He pointed to the child sexual abuse scandal that has occurred within Chile as a "time of upheaval," saying he is attentive to what priests, consecrated, and religious are doing "to respond to this great and painful evil."

It is particularly painful, he said, "because of the harm and sufferings of the victims and their families, who saw the trust they had placed in the Church’s ministers betrayed. Painful too for the suffering of ecclesial communities, but also painful for you, brothers and sisters, who, after working so hard, have seen the harm that has led to suspicion and questioning; in some or many of you this has been a source of doubt, fear or a lack of confidence.”

"I know that at times you have been insulted in the metro or walking on the street, and that by going around in clerical attire in many places you pay a heavy price. For this reason, I suggest that we ask God to grant us the clear-sightedness to call reality by its name, the strength to seek forgiveness and the ability to listen to what he tells us,” he stated.

The Church in both Chile and Peru has faced major fallout from sexual abuse scandals in recent years, which have damaged the Church’s image and created a strong distrust of the hierarchy.

The major case in Chile is that of Fr. Fernando Karadima, who once led a lay movement from his parish in El Bosque. He was found guilty of sexually abusing minors in 2011 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

He then addressed the changes Chilean society has seen since his youth: “New and different cultural expressions are being born which do not fit into our familiar patterns.”

“We can yield to the temptation of becoming closed, isolating ourselves and defending our ways of seeing things, which then turn out as nothing more than fine monologues,” he said. “We can be tempted to think that everything is wrong, and in place of 'good news', the only thing we profess is apathy and disappointment. As a result, we shut our eyes to the pastoral challenges, thinking that the Spirit has nothing to say about them. In this way, we forget that the Gospel is a journey of conversion, not just for 'others' but for ourselves as well.”

The Pope stated, “Whether we like it or not, we are called to face reality as it is – our own personal reality and the reality of our communities and societies.”

Turning to “Peter shown mercy,” he discussed St. Peter's encounter with the risen Christ: “It is time for Peter to have to confront a part of himself. The part of him that many times he didn’t want to see. He experienced his limitation, his frailty and his sinfulness. Peter, the temperamental, impulsive leader and saviour, self-sufficient and over-confident in himself and in his possibilities, had to acknowledge his weakness and sin. He was a sinner like everyone else, as needy as the others, as frail as anyone else … It is a crucial moment in Peter’s life.”

“As disciples, as Church, we can have the same experience: there are moments when we have to face not our success but our weakness,” the Pope said.

When Christ takes St. Peter aside to ask him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” he is trying to save him, the Pope said, “from the danger of remaining closed in on his sin, constantly dwelling with remorse on his frailty, the danger of giving up.”

Christ wants to free St. Peter “from seeing his opponents as enemies and being upset by opposition and criticism. He wants to free him from being downcast and, above all, negative. By his question, Jesus asks Peter to listen to his heart and to learn how to discern.”

The Lord “questioned Peter about love and kept asking until Peter could give him a realistic response: 'Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you'. In this way, Jesus confirms him in his mission.”

The reception of mercy is what confirmed St. Peter as an apostle, Pope Francis said. “We are not superheroes who stoop down from the heights to encounter mere mortals. Rather, we are sent as men and women conscious of having been forgiven. That is the source of our joy … A consecrated man or woman sees his or her wounds as signs of the resurrection; who sees in the wounds of this world the power of the resurrection; who, like Jesus, does not meet his brothers and sisters with reproach and condemnation,” he said.

Reflecting on how the risen Christ appeared with his wounds, which indeed “enabled Thomas to profess his faith,” the Pope said, “We are not asked to ignore or hide our wounds. A Church with wounds can understand the wounds of today’s world and make them her own, suffering with them, accompanying them and seeking to heal them. A wounded Church does not make herself the centre of things, does not believe that she is perfect, but puts at the centre the one who can heal those wounds, whose name is Jesus Christ.”

“The knowledge that we are wounded sets us free. Yes, it sets us free from becoming self-referential and thinking ourselves superior” and from a “promethean tendency,” he stated.

“In Jesus, our wounds are risen. They inspire solidarity; they help us to tear down the walls that enclose us in elitism and they impel us to build bridges and to encounter all those yearning for that merciful love which Christ alone can give.”

Pope Francis reflected: “I am concerned when I see communities more worried about their image, about occupying spaces, about appearances and publicity, than about going out to touch the suffering of our faithful people.”

He then quoted the words of St. Alberto Hurtado, a Chilean Jesuit of the mid-20th century who was involved in Catholic Action: “All those methods will fail that are imposed by uniformity, that try to bring us to God by making us forget about our brothers and sisters, that make us close our eyes to the universe rather than teaching us to open them and raise all things to the Creator of all, that make us selfish and close us in on ourselves.”

The Pope explained that “God’s people neither expect nor need us to be superheroes. They expect pastors, consecrated persons, who know what it is to be compassionate, who can give a helping hand, who can spend time with those who have fallen and, like Jesus, help them to break out of that endless remorse that poisons the soul.”

Pope Francis finally turned to “Peter transfigured.”

St. Peter experienced the “wound of sin” but “learned from Jesus that his wounds could be a path of resurrection.”

 But “to know both Peter disheartened and Peter transfigured is an invitation to pass from being a Church of the unhappy and disheartened to a Church that serves all those people who are unhappy and disheartened in our midst.”

“To renew prophecy is to renew our commitment not to expect an ideal world, an ideal community, or an ideal disciple in order to be able to live and evangelize, but rather to make it possible for every disheartened person to encounter Jesus,” he said. “One does not love ideal situations or ideal communities; one loves persons.”

A “frank, sorrowful and prayerful recognition of our limitations” makes us able to return to Christ, Pope Francis said.

“How good it is for all of us to let Jesus renew our hearts.”

Award to pro-abortion politician a matter of protocol, Vatican says

Vatican City, Jan 16, 2018 / 01:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The conferral of the Vatican’s Order of St. Gregory the Great to Dutch politician and pro-abortion activist Liliane Ploumen was part of an ordinary diplomatic exchange of honorific titles, and does not mean that the Vatican supports Ploumen’s abortion campaigns, a Vatican spokesperson explained Jan. 15.
 
Responding to requests of clarification, Paloma Garcia-Ovejero, deputy director of the Holy See Press Office, said that “the honorific of the St. Gregory the Great Pontifical Order that Liliane Ploumen, then Minister for Development received in June 2017, during the visit of the Dutch Royals to the Holy Father, is part of the diplomatic praxis of the exchange of decorations among delegations during official visits between heads of state and government to the Vatican.”
 
Garcia-Ovejero said that the decoration “cannot be by any way considered an endorsement to the pro-abortion and birth control politics advocated by Mrs. Ploumen.”
 
Liliane Ploumen, a Dutch politician, served as Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation from Nov. 5, 2012 to Oct. 26, 2017.
 
In that capacity, she was part of a delegation of the Dutch monarchy that visited Pope Francis on June 22.
 
On that occasion, the Vatican returned the Dutch Royal Family a stick belonging to William I, Prince of Orange, that had previously been lost in the Jesuit Catalan archives.

The stick – in fact a scepter – depicts the coat of arms of William of Orange. The stick was used by Louis of Nassau, the brother of William of Orange, during the 1574 Mookerheyde battle in 1574. It was lost, came into the hand of a Spanish general and eventually the superior of the Jesuits. Eventually, it got lost in the Catalan archives.
 
The occasion included an exchange of honorary titles, an element of diplomatic praxis that usually grabs no headlines.
 
Diplomatic visits to the Vatican are highly choreographed affairs.
 
During an official state visit to the Vatican, the most solemn kind of diplomatic meeting, protocol dictates that a solemn procession from St. Peter’s Square, into the Vatican, to the Cortile San Damaso, which accesses the Apostolic Palace.
 
The procession is greeted by three blasts of trumpets, and then the delegation enters the Apostolic Palace and walks through the rooms.
 
There is even a specific protocol for walking through Apostolic Palace. The procession toward the Papal Library, where the meeting takes place, is led by a Swiss Guard sergeant, follow by 6 Sediari Pontifici, ceremonial servants, in the case of head of state and 8 Sediari Pontifici for monarchs.
 
These details explain that a royal family enjoys a sort of “right of precedence” in Vatican protocol, and for that reason the visit of a Royal Family is a serious and solemn event.
 
The visit of the King William Alexander and Queen Maxima was not an official state visit, but a mere audience, and so an exchange of honorifics would not ordinarily to take place. However, the presence of the royal family, and the solemnity of returning of the Dutch stick, might have suggested to the Secretariat of State a protocol designed to highlight the audience, including the conferral of honors, a Vatican source explained to CNA.  
  
In some cases, the Vatican can ask not to proceed with an exchange of awards or honors, especially when some of the members of the other delegations can be controversial, a source close to the Vatican diplomatic service told CNA Jan. 15.
 
However, the exchange of decorations took place during the Dutch visit.
 
The presence of Ploumen in the Dutch delegation has sparked controversies because she is an abortion advocate.

In 2017, Ploumen launched an international campaign to support abortion, designed to counter the Trump administration’s decision to cut off funds for NGOs that facilitate abortion. Ploumen’s organization, named “She Decides,” collected nearly $400 million.
 
However, news of her award did not grab any headlines until Ploumen herself showed off the medal in a recent interview to the Dutch television BNR.

In the interview, the Dutch politician presented the decoration as a personal award, and said that while her the pro-abortion campaign ““was not mentioned” as the reason for the decoration, but, she said, “the Vatican knows that I founded ‘She decides’, but this did not prevent them from awarding me.”

“It is interesting,” she added.  

The honorific was apparently given without significant previous consultation. In a statement released Jan. 15, Cardinal Wilhelm Ejik, Archbishop of Utrecht and Primate of the Netherlands, stressed that he “was not involved” in the process that decided “to give the decoration of Commander of the Pontifical Equestrian Order St. Gregory the Great, which the former minister Ploumen received last year.”

Cardinal Ejik said that he had not initially been aware that the decoration had been given to the minister.
 
Established in 1831, the Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great is one of the five orders of knighthood of the Holy See, and can be bestowed to Catholic men and women, but also – in rare cases – to non Catholics. The honor is a recognition of personal service to the Holy See and to the Church.

Bars don't stop your ability to dream, Pope says at Chilean women's prison

Santiago, Chile, Jan 16, 2018 / 12:55 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis visited a women's prison in Santiago on Tuesday, telling the inmates that while at times it might seem like they have no future, they must never stop dreaming and should look for opportunities for personal growth.

“Losing our freedom does not mean losing our dreams and hopes. Losing our freedom is not the same thing as losing our dignity,” the Pope said Jan. 16.

Because of this, he stressed the need to reject all of the “petty clichés” that tell us “we can’t change, that it’s not worth trying, that nothing will make a difference.”

“No, dear sisters! Some things do make a difference,” he said. “All those efforts we make to build for a better future – even if often it seems they just go down the drain – all of them will surely bear fruit and be rewarded.”

Pope Francis spoke to inmates at the San Joaquin women's prison in Santiago, which was founded by religious sisters from the Congregation of the Good Shepherd.

Established in 1864 and entrusted to the sisters in 1996, the prison until 1980 had no more than 160 inmates. However, with the increase in drug trafficking and the use of narcotics, by 2000 the prison had around 1,400 inmates.

Today the prison, which has 885 spaces available, houses nearly 45 percent of all female inmates in Chile.

Francis visited the prison on his first full day in Santiago, which is part of a Jan. 15-22 visit to Chile and Peru. He gave the penitentiary a ceramic bas-relief of Our Lady from Italy.

During the encounter, he heard the testimony of Sister Nelly León, who is in charge of pastoral outreach in the prison and who lamented that the poor are disproportionately incarcerated in Chile.

He also listened to one of the inmates, Janeth Zurita, who asked forgiveness of those who have been harmed by the wrongs the imprisoned have done and spoke about the suffering of the children of inmates. “May God have mercy on all the childen whose parents are prisoners, because they have a punishment we gave them, without willing it,” she said. Zurita also asked that “we may be able to repay our debt to society without being separated from our childen.”

In his address, the Pope thanked Zurita for “coming forward and sharing your hurt with all of us, and for your courageous request for forgiveness.”

“How much we all have to learn from your act of courage and humility,” he said, and also thanked Zurita for her words on forgiveness, which serve as a reminder “that without this attitude we lose our humanity.”

He noted how many of the women at the prison are mothers, and therefore know what it means to take on a new life and bring it into the world.

“Motherhood is not, and never will be a problem. It is a gift, and one of the most wonderful gifts you can ever have,” he said, noting that in their position, the women face the very real and unique challenge of caring for the life they have created.

“You are asked to care for the future. To make it grow and to help it to develop,” he said, adding that as women, “you have an incredible ability to adapt to new circumstances and move forward.”

Children themselves are a source of strength and incentive for the future, he said, explaining that their presence is also a reminder that life must be lived for the future, and not stuck in the past.

“Today your freedom has been taken away, but that is not the last word. Not at all,” he said, and told the women to “keep looking forward. Look ahead to the day when you will return to life in society.”

Pointing to the Gospel passage in Mark in which Christ is laughed at for saying the daughter of a synagogue leader was not dead but merely asleep, the Pope said Christ “pays no attention to ridicule and never gives up,” but rather takes our hand and tells us to get up, just as he did for the little girl.

Sadly, he noted that a jail sentence can seem like just a punishment with no opportunities for personal growth. “This is not good,” he said, explaining that initiatives aimed at job training and the restoration of relationships are “signs of hope for the future.”
 
“Let us help them to grow,” he said, adding that “public order must not be reduced to stronger security measures, but should be concerned primarily with preventive measures, such as work, education, and greater community involvement.”

Francis closed his address saying life itself blooms and shows its beauty when we work hand-in-hand to make things better and open the door to “open up new possibilities.”

He greeted all those who work and volunteer at the prison, who carry out “sensitive and complex” tasks. He also spoke to the authorities at the prison, asking them to provide “the conditions needed to carry out your work with dignity. A dignity that engenders dignity.”

Pope Francis’ Chile visit revives allegations against bishop

Santiago, Chile, Jan 16, 2018 / 11:30 am (CNA/EWTN News).- As Pope Francis began his visit to Chile, a Vatican spokesman has voiced “maximum respect” for the rights of protesters continuing their three-year opposition to a bishop’s appointment, but the Pope will not meet with them.
 
The subject of the protests, Bishop Juan Barros Madrid of Osorno, has repeated explanations that he did not know his longtime friend Father Fernando Karadima was a sexual abuser, despite the claims of protesters alleging that Barros helped cover up Karadima’s abuse.
 
“I never knew anything about, nor ever imagined the serious abuses which that priest committed against the victims,” Bishop Barros told the Associated Press. “I have never approved of nor participated in such serious dishonest acts and I have never been convicted by any tribunal of such things.”
 
In January 2015 the Pope named Bishop Barros to head the Diocese of Osorno in southern Chile. The appointment drew objections and a call for his resignation from several priests. Dozens of protesters, including non-Catholics, attempted to disrupt his March 21, 2015 installation Mass at the Osorno cathedral.

 Days later, Archbishop Fernando Chomali Garib of Concepcion said that Pope Francis had told him that there was “no objective reason at all” that the bishop should not be installed. The pontiff had been kept up-to-date on the situation.

On March 31, 2015, the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops also released a statement, saying that the office had “carefully examined the prelate’s candidature and did not find objective reasons to preclude the appointment.”
 
The then-apostolic nuncio to Chile, Archbishop Ivo Scapolo, said that all information about Barros was passed on to Pope Francis. Most of the people in the church were not protesters, but “people who love their bishop,” the nuncio said.
 
Decades previously, Bishop Barros had been a close friend to Father Fernando Karadima, an influential Santiago-area priest who fostered the vocations of about 40 priests, including Barros.
 
When reports of sexual abuse and other scandal surrounding Karadima surfaced, Bishop Barros was among the prelates who did not believe the accusations. A civil lawsuit against the priest was dismissed on the grounds that his alleged behavior was beyond the statute of limitations.
 
In February 2011, however, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith finished its investigation with the conclusion that the priest was guilty. At the age of 84, Karadima was sent to a life of solitude and prayer.
 
Bishop Barros said he had already been distancing himself from the priest before allegations surfaced, because he had become “ill-tempered.”
 
“The pain of the victims hurts me enormously, I pray for those that carry this pain with them today,” he said in a 2015 letter to the faithful of the Diocese of Osorno ahead of his installation.
 
On May 6, 2015, five months after Barros was appointed to lead the Diocese of Osorno, Deacon Jaime Coiro, general secretary of the Chilean episcopal conference, told Pope Francis that the Church in Osorno “is praying and suffering for you.”

“Osorno suffers, yes,” Pope Francis said, “for silliness.”

“The only accusation against that bishop was discredited by the judicial court,” the Pope told Coiro, according to a video of the conversation released by Chile’s Ahora Noticias.

“Think with your head, and do not be carried away by the noses of the leftists, who are the ones who put this thing together,” the Pope added.

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Three of Karadima’s victims have accused Barros of covering up for the priest, an allegation not supported by the Vatican investigation. The most well-known of these accusers, former seminarian Juan Carlos Cruz, lives in the U.S. and has served as a leading communications executive for the DuPont company.
 
Cruz charged that Karadima sexually abused him in the 1980s and claimed that Barros and other bishops trained by Karadima were aware of the abuse and even witnessed it, the Associated Press says.
 
On Jan. 11 the Associated Press said a confidential letter from the Pope to the Chilean bishops’ conference, dated Jan. 31, 2015, acknowledged some Chilean bishops’ concerns about the appointment. The Pope reportedly said that the apostolic nuncio in 2014 had asked Barros to resign as bishop to Chile’s armed forces and to take a sabbatical before assuming any other responsibility as a bishop.
 
The Pope’s letter said Barros was informed that similar approach was planned for two other bishops trained by Karadima, but the bishop was not to share this information. Barros allegedly created “a serious problem” when he named these two bishops in his letter stepping down as military bishop and “blocked any eventual path” to remove these bishops from controversy.
 
Burke, the Vatican spokesman, declined to comment to the AP regarding the Pope’s 2015 letter. For his part, Barros said he knew nothing of the letter.
 
Pope Francis is visiting Chile and Peru during a trip spanning Jan. 15-22. The papal visit to Chile has drawn some violent opposition.
 
At least six Catholic churches in the country were attacked in apparent protest of the visit.

Three Catholic churches in the capital of Santiago were attacked or vandalized by unknown assailants Jan. 12. A firebomb at Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in Santiago’s Estación Central district included a death threat against the Pope.
 
“Pope Francis, the next bombs will be in your cassock,” said a pamphlet left behind.
 
Two other chapels in the city also suffered damage, including broken windows and doors.
 
Other pamphlets left behind appeared to object to the Church, saying “We will never submit to the dominion they want to exercise over our bodies, our ideas and actions because we were born free to decide the path we want to take.” The messages appeared to support “autonomy and resistance” for the Mapuche, the largest indigenous group in the country. Many Mapuche live in the Aurancia region, where Pope Francis will visit.
 
Since Chile’s 19th-century military conquest that incorporated the region, many Mapuche communities have sought the return of ancestral lands, respect for their cultural identity, and sometimes autonomy.
 
A fourth church – Christ the Poor Man Shrine – was targeted by a bomb threat and was subsequently investigated by a bomb squad. Some evangelical Protestant churches were also targeted.
 
The morning after the attacks, a group of protesters stormed Chile’s apostolic nunciature before police arrived and evicted them.
 
Roxana Miranda, head of an activist group that protest high mortgage rates, claimed responsibility for the protest and said it was motivated by objections to the cost of the Pope’s visit to the country.

In Chile, Pope says Beatitudes aren't 'cheap words', but sources of hope

Santiago, Chile, Jan 16, 2018 / 06:33 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On his first full day in Chile, Pope Francis told Catholics in the country that the Beatitudes aren't just a simple piece of advice from someone who purports to know everything, but are a source of hope which impels people to leave their comfort zone and follow the path given by Jesus.

“The Beatitudes are not the fruit of a hypercritical attitude or the 'cheap words' of those who think they know it all yet are unwilling to commit themselves to anything or anyone,” the Pope said Jan. 16.

People with this attitude, he said, “end up preventing any chance of generating processes of change and reconstruction in our communities and in our lives.”

The Beatitudes, then, “are born of a merciful heart that never loses hope. A heart that experiences hope as a new day, a casting out of inertia, a shaking off of weariness and negativity,” he said.

By proclaiming blessings to the poor, grieving, afflicted, patient and merciful, Jesus casts out “the inertia which paralyzes those who no longer have faith in the transforming power of God our Father and in their brothers and sisters, especially the most vulnerable and outcast.”

The Beatitudes, he said, are the fruit of Jesus' encounter with people, who saw in him “the echo of their longings and aspirations,” and found in him the “horizon towards which we are called and challenged to set out.”

Pope Francis spoke during his homily for Mass at O'Higgins Park in Santiago on his first full day in Chile. He is currently in the first step of a two-country visit to South America, which will also include a stop in Peru.

He will visit various cities in Chile, including Temuco and Iquique, and on Jan. 18 will travel to Peru, where he will visit Lima, Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo.

In his homily for Mass, Pope Francis focused on the day's Gospel reading from Matthew in which Jesus speaks on the Beatitudes.

The Beatitudes, he said, are not the product of the “prophets of doom who seek only to spread dismay,” and nor do they come from “those mirages that promise happiness with a single 'click,' in the blink of an eye.”

Rather, the Beatitudes “are born of the compassionate heart of Jesus, which encounters the hearts of men and women seeking and yearning for a life of happiness,” he said, noting that these are men and women who know what it means to suffer and who appreciate “the confusion and pain of having the earth shake beneath their feet” or seeing their life's work washed away.

Chileans themselves know from personal experience how to rebuild and start anew, he said, adding: “How much you know about getting up again after so many falls! That is the heart to which Jesus speaks; that is the heart for which the Beatitudes are meant!”

Francis said the Beatitudes represent a “new day” for all those who look to the future and dream, and who allow themselves to be moved and sent forth by the Holy Spirit.

Contrary to “the resignation that like a negative undercurrent undermines our deepest relationships and divides us,” Jesus provides a more positive message, telling the people that “blessed are those who work for reconciliation. Blessed are those ready to dirty their hands so that others can live in peace.”

“Do you want to be blessed? Do you want to be happy? Blessed are those who work so that others can be happy. Do you want peace?” he asked. “Then work for peace.”

Peace, the Pope added, is sown by closeness and by “coming out of our homes and looking at peoples’ faces...This is the only way we must forge a future of peace, to weave a fabric that will not unravel.”

A true peacemaker, he said, “knows that it is often necessary to overcome great or subtle faults and ambitions born of the desire for power and to gain a name for oneself, the desire to be important at the cost of others.”

Quoting Chilean Saint Alberto Hurtado, he said a good peace-maker knows that “it is very good not to do wrong, but very bad not to do good.”

He closed his homily asking that Mary would help all to both live and desire the Beatitudes “so that on every corner of this city we will hear, like a gentle whisper: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

Pope lands in Chile with plea for forgiveness after abuse scandal

Santiago, Chile, Jan 16, 2018 / 05:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In the first official encounter of his apostolic visit to Chile, Pope Francis expressed his shame and sorrow for the child sexual abuse crisis that occurred at the hands of clergy of the Catholic Church.  

“I feel bound to express my pain and shame at the irreparable damage caused to children by some ministers of the Church,” the Pope said Jan. 16.

Speaking to the country's civil leaders, he said, “I am one with my brother bishops, for it is right to ask for forgiveness and make every effort to support the victims, even as we commit ourselves to ensuring that such things do not happen again.”

The Church in both Chile and Peru has faced strong fallout from sexual abuse scandals, which have damaged the Church’s image and created a strong distrust of the hierarchy.

The major case in Chile is that of Fr. Fernando Karadima, who once led a lay movement from his parish in El Bosque. He was found guilty of sexually abusing minors in 2011.

The Pope’s meeting with the Chilean authorities, civil society, and diplomatic corps was his first official encounter during his apostolic trip to Chile and Peru Jan. 15-22.

He will be in Chile through Jan. 18, visiting Santiago, Temuco, and Iquique. During the visit he will have lunch with the Mapuche residents of the Araucania region, and visit the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.

From Chile he will go to Peru, visiting Lima, Puerto Maldonado, and Trujillo. He will meet with indigenous Amazonians and pray before the relics of Peruvian saints before returning to Rome Jan. 22.

In his speech, the Pope said that the future of Chile depends on the ability of both its people and leaders to listen to one another, preserving the country’s ethnic, cultural and historical diversity from “all partisan spirit or attempts at domination,” which threaten the common good.

He enumerated the different groups of people he believes most need to be listened to: children, the unemployed, native peoples, migrants, youth, and the elderly.

“It is necessary to listen,” he said. “To listen to the native peoples, often forgotten, whose rights and culture need to be protected lest that part of this nation’s identity and richness be lost.” He also stressed the need to listen to migrants, who come to this country in search of a better life.

We should also listen to young people and their desire for greater opportunities, he continued, especially in education, “so that they can take active part in building the Chile they dream of.”

Quoting the Te Deum homily of deceased Chilean Cardinal Silva Henríquez, the Pope said that “We – all of us – are builders of the most beautiful work: our homeland. The earthly homeland that prefigures and prepares the (heavenly) homeland that has no borders.”

The Pope encouraged people to strive to make Chile a place that welcomes everyone, and where everyone feels called to join in helping to build up the nation.

“Yours is a great and exciting challenge: to continue working to make this democracy, as your forebears dreamed, beyond its formal aspects, a true place of encounter for all,” Francis said.

He quoted the words of St. Alberto Hurtado, a Chilean Jesuit who died in 1952 and was canonized in 2005, who said: “A nation, more than its borders, more than its land, its mountain ranges, its seas, more than its language or its traditions, is a mission to be fulfilled.”

A visit to the saint’s shrine is part of the Pope’s schedule at the end of the day, during a private meeting he’ll have with local Jesuits.

“Each new generation must take up the struggles and attainments of past generations, while setting its own sights even higher,” he said. “Goodness, together with love, justice and solidarity, are not achieved once and for all; they have to be realized each day.”

"It is not possible to settle for what was achieved in the past and complacently enjoy it, as if we could somehow ignore the fact that many of our brothers and sisters still endure situations of injustice that none of us can ignore."

How one Hawaiian Catholic family got ready for the missile that never came

Honolulu, Hawaii, Jan 16, 2018 / 05:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- It started out as a regular Saturday morning for most Hawaiians, including Dallas and Monica Carter and their five children.

Monica was getting breakfast ready for the kids before a busy day when the warning blared across smartphone screens throughout the island:

BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.

It was the same kind of warnings Hawaiians are used to receiving for tsunamis and hurricanes - the kind of warning they’re used to heeding.

“That was quite terrifying, of course,” Dallas Carter, a theology lecturer for the Diocese of Honolulu, told CNA. Immediately, Dallas and Monica sprang into action, albeit in different ways.

Looking back, “it was a great dynamic to see how we reacted together but in different ways to the same crisis,” he said.

Dallas said he had four thoughts once he had processed the alert. The first was: “Oh (no) I haven’t gone to confession yet!” It was Saturday, and the family often goes on Sundays before Mass.

“Number two was, ok, how do I do this perfect contrition thing? Number three was we have to get the kids praying rosary, and number four was ‘where’s my whiskey,’” he recalled.

Soon after the initial warning, Dallas ran to the neighbors to see if they had gotten the same alert, and checked on some elderly neighbors while formulating a possible plan to get his family to the shelter of his concrete classroom.

When he ran back inside the house, he found that his wife had placed the family’s Our Lady of Guadalupe statue in the middle of the breakfast table, and all of the kids were praying the rosary. She had not long ago read a story about Jesuits in Hiroshima who were spared during the atomic bomb, and was inspired to start praying the rosary in part because of their story.

“My wife did probably the more important thing and she prayed,” he said.

“She said we can try to get to the classroom, but if the bomb hits, we’re goners, but what we can do is pray,” Dallas recalled. “The best possibility (of surviving) isn’t my concrete classroom, the best possibility is that the Blessed Mother provide us a miracle.”

Mariah, 11, the eldest of the Carter siblings, was awakened by her nine-year-old brother who ran into her room telling her there about the bomb threat.

“I remember thinking what’s going on? I literally just wanted to pray, I wanted to pray,” Mariah told CNA.

“I concentrated so hard on the rosary, I was like ‘come on Mary I know you can do this,’” she said.

Dallas said his 9 year-old son kept asking if they were going to die, and he wasn’t sure how to answer, objectively.

“That’s the first time in our lives that my kid asked me that, and I didn’t know what to say,” he said. Dallas and Monica tried to comfort their son by telling him it was an adventure that the whole family was on together.

After a few minutes, the family caught a glimmer of hope amidst the initial terror when Dallas called to check in on his parents, who were skeptical of the alert in the first place. Because they don’t have smartphones, they weren’t used to receiving alerts in that way, and thought it somehow must have been a fluke.

Furthermore, the missile sirens, which were tested on a monthly basis on the island, had not gone off at all, another sign that perhaps not all was as dire as it seemed.  

Desperate for news, Dallas ran to his truck to turn on the radio. Instead of hearing static, or more warnings, he heard a football game and talk radio - nothing out of the ordinary.

The family started to breath a little easier, but they would wait - along with the rest of the island - for another 30 minutes before they got the official all-clear. They would later learn that the false message was an error on the part of an employee at the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.  

After that, most of the rest of their plans for the day fell through - its hard to go about your business after thinking your obliteration imminent.

The next day was Sunday, and his family’s parish was packed, a phenomenon he has personally dubbed the #MissileConversions. The pews were filled, and the line for confession was out the door. Friends from throughout the island said their parishes were the same.

Even though the crisis was a false alarm, Dallas said he and his family joined the confession line anyway, as a way of giving thanks for being able to go to confession again.

In his homily, the priest tried to bring a little levity to the grave situation that had caused so many to fill the pews out of a strange mix of subsequent fear and gratitude, Dallas said.

“He said you know that bible verse where it says Jesus will come again like a thief in the night? Well it looks like he almost came like a thief in the morning,” Dallas recalled.

Afterward Mass, the whole parish community had a barbeque at the beach.

“Yesterday’s beach session with friends and family was just the right amount of post-missile scare therapy,” he said.  

The harrowing experience also taught Dallas a few things in terms of material, and more importantly, spiritual, preparation.

Materially, he said, he found his hand-held radio and placed it in a prominent place on his desk, so that he wouldn’t have to run out to his truck in an emergency situation.

Spiritually, he said he learned: “Don’t play around with grace. Be in the state of grace, be prepared,” he said.

“And it doesn’t mean to get on your knees and don’t take shelter, but have the spiritual part ready. Don’t forget to recourse to the greatest resource we have in situations like that, which is prayer, especially to the Blessed Mother who isn’t going to let her children suffer and go through something that isn’t the will of God,” he said.

On a lighter note, he said he also learned: “Have the whiskey more readily available. I’d have the rosary in one hand and my favorite whiskey in the other.”

 

Meet the spiritual powerhouses of the pro-life movement

Washington D.C., Jan 16, 2018 / 02:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Walk along in the March for Life and you may see them: a swarm of women – many of them young – dressed in long blue habits, white veils blowing in the breeze.

They are the Sisters of Life and they have  a message for women and for the pro-life movement: “You are not alone.”

“We really see ourselves primarily as a spiritual entity that intercedes for and upholds the work of the pro-life movement,” explained Sr. Mary Elizabeth, SV, Vicar General of the Sisters of Life.

She also said she hopes that the pro-life movement knows that they can depend upon the Sisters’ prayers and support: “They are not alone and they have a family of Sisters who love them very much and are praying for them daily.”

Joseph Zwilling, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of New York, where the Sisters of Life were founded, said he believes the Sisters of Life have already made a tremendous impact on the culture since their founding. “It’s about 25 years later and the Sisters of Life are growing, they’re thriving and they’re everywhere” he told CNA.

“Help Wanted: Sisters of Life”

While it may be impossible to quantify the full impact of the Sisters’ prayers and efforts, Zwilling said, “I truly believe that they have helped through their prayer, through their example, they’ve helped to change people’s minds and hearts about this issue.”

“I think that in the long run that’s going to be their greatest contribution.”

The Sisters’ journey began in 1990 with a newspaper column by then-Cardinal John O’Connor of New York. “This really was the brainchild of Cardinal O’Connor,” Zwilling said.

In the 1990s Cardinal O'Connor was a prominent leader in the pro-life movement in the Church and in the country, and saw the issue of abortion as one of the most pressing need of the time. Before acting, the cardinal reflected on the long history within the Church of the Holy Spirit giving life to religious communities able to meet these these challenges.

Cardinal O’Connor suggested  in his column that it was time for another order able to respond to the challenges of abortion. The piece was titled simply: "Help Wanted: Sisters of Life.”

Eight sisters answered the call, formally founding a community on June 1, 1991. During this time, they lived temporarily with the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate in the Bronx, praying, fasting, attending Eucharistic adoration, and discerning their vocations.

Sr. Josamarie, SV, was one of these first women to join the Sisters of Life. “None of us had been religious sisters before,” she said of herself and the other seven women who were part of the initial novice class. Moreover, God “called us from various things” – the young women had such backgrounds as scientists, college professors, and librarians.

As the sisters prepared themselves for a life of prayer and ministry to the most vulnerable in society, Cardinal O’Connor also introduced the Sisters of Life to members of the pro-life movement, including Mother Teresa.

Today, the order is thriving, with more than 100 Sisters, whose average age is mid-30s.

Sr. Mary Elizabeth joined the Sisters of Life in 1993 after graduating from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, having heard the cardinal talk on campus during her junior year. Already involved in pro-life activism, Sr. Mary Elizabeth explained that she “wanted to be part of the solution, offering other options to women” who felt like they had no options and turned to abortion out of desperation.

A Life of Prayer

The foundation of the Sisters of Life ministry and daily life is prayer and contemplation, explained Sister Mary Elizabeth. “Our spirituality is Eucharistic-centered and Marian,” she told CNA. In each of their convents, the Sisters participate in Mass and spend a Holy Hour in Eucharistic adoration daily. In addition, the sisters gather together to pray the Liturgy of the Hours throughout the day.

As part of the group’s Marian focus, the Sisters of Life also pray a rosary together “to support the works of the pro-life movement in our country and throughout the world each day.”

The Sisters of Life also draw upon the example of Mary in their spirituality, and from there, the way they engage other aspects of their lives: “A deep part of our spiritual life is living out a spiritual maternity, and so we take Mary as our model.” Sister Mary Elizabeth said the sisters’ goal is to carry Christ’s presence with them and to echo Mary’s “yes” to life and to Christ.



The Sisters of Life from The Sisters of Life on Vimeo.

One of the examples of Mary’s maternity they seek to emulate is her decision to journey forth and visit her cousin, Elizabeth, after the Annunciation. “Just as at the Visitation the presence of Jesus in Mary radiated out” and filled her cousin with joy, Sr. Mary Elizabeth said, “so we can have the same life and power dwelling within us and radiating out from us to touch all those women that we encounter every day who are pregnant and in need and hopefully them with joy and with hope.”

The sisters also seek to bring the example of Mary’s receptivity and welcome into the way they treat people – by recognizing the unique dignity of every person. When sisters encounter someone, Sr. Mary Elizabeth said, “we’re not in a rush, we’re not in a hurry.” This patience and attention, she continued, is “deeply rooted in our belief that every human person is created as a unique manifestation of God.”

“It’s a way we live out our spiritual maternity,” Sr. Mary Elizabeth noted.

As a contemplative and apostolic order, however, their prayer life does not stop at the sanctuary doors, but carries over into their ministry, too. “Our prayer kind of fuels our apostolic efforts, and then our apostolate brings us back to prayer,” Sr. Mary Elizabeth noted. “We can bring all those people we are working with to the Lord throughout the day.”

A Mission to Save Lives

The ministry of the Sisters of Life’s apostolate is focused upon the defense of human life at all stages. Sisters in each of the convents participate in a range of missions, from ministry with women facing crisis pregnancies or regret after an abortion to study of bioethics and theology.

At the center of the Sisters of Life’s apostolate is the Holy Respite Mission, a sanctuary in the Upper West Side of Manhattan for pregnant women in crisis situations to come and live with the sisters, join in the community and prayer life of the sisters, and stay until they are ready to go back into the world after the birth of their child. Women typically stay with the sisters between six months and a year.

Just a few blocks uptown lies the sisters’ Visitation Mission, which offers “practical support and compassion to women who are pregnant and find themselves in a crisis,” Sr. Mary Elizabeth explained. “Most of the women that come to us have been abandoned by everyone and are unsure of what they’re going to do.” The Sisters of Life serve around 1,000 women each year.  

The sisters, along with a crew of volunteer lay helpers called the Co-Workers of Life, provide women with the practical support they need. “We provide everything,” Sr. Mary Elizabeth elaborated, from physical needs like diapers, bottles, strollers, cribs, baby clothes, and maternity clothes, to other forms of aid like helping women find safe housing, moving help, navigating challenges with college administrators or employers, writing resumes, and finding jobs.

In addition, some Co-Workers of Life open their homes as a safe space for women in crisis and offer their friendship and support. Even simple gestures like talking or texting with expectant mothers can be an immense help for women with few other sources of support.

“They’re being pressured into having an abortion by their family, by their friends, by the medical community, their employers – it’s really outrageous,” Sr. Mary Elizabeth said. “They just need someone who’s supporting them and encouraging them in their decision to keep their child.”

Another important service the Sisters of Life provide is hope and healing outreach to women who have had abortions. “From the beginning, Cardinal O’Connor was very sensitive to those who had suffered the wounds of abortion,” explained Sr. Josamarie. Many women, she continued, feel pressured into abortion and then are left to suffer through the emotions alone afterwards.

Sisters provide opportunities to “work through” feelings of grief, anger and other emotions by counseling women, as well as offering specialized retreats where women also have access to the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist, in addition to someone who will listen to them as they process their experience.

“It’s our experience that women hold this secret and don’t speak about it to others,” Sr. Mary Elizabeth added on the experience of post-abortive women. “It’s a tremendous burden that they handle alone.”

Finally, the sisters engage in a range of outreach and evangelization activities through their retreat center in Stamford, Conn., and their presence at pro-life and Catholic events such as World Youth Day, the March for Life in Washington, D.C., and the Walk For Life in San Francisco. These activities compliment the education work the sisters do through their pro-life library, their support of the Respect Life/Family Life Office for the Archdiocese of New York, research in their House of Studies in Maryland, and talks on college campuses and in parishes.

With their lives dedicated to the defense of life every day of the year, the Sisters aim to revitalize a love for life in the world.

Their hope, Sister Mary Elizabeth said, is to be “a spiritual force that generates a new culture of life within the minds of hearts of men and women across the world.”

If the thousands of lives they touch every year are any indication, they are well on their way.

This article was originally published on CNA Jan. 27, 2017.

Florida lawmakers consider mandatory ‘marriage prep’ guide

Tallahassee, Fla., Jan 16, 2018 / 12:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A bill presented to the Florida House of Representatives on Jan. 8 would require couples to review a state-published “Healthy Marriage Guide” before tying the knot.

“The statistics have been staggering over the years for divorces and kind of the subsequent problems that go along with that, like children who don’t have families that are put together,” said Republican Representative, Clay Yarborough, according to CBS 47.

Yarborough introduced the bill to the state House days after Republican Kelli Stargel introduced a version of it to the Senate.

The legislation would establish the Marriage Education Committee, who will be appointed by Florida’s Senate president, state speaker of the house, and the state’s governor. The six-person committee would develop the guide, serving a maximum term of one year.

Couples would be required to read the guide as a prerequisite for a marriage license. The guide would cover communication skills, fiscal control, conflict management, spousal abuse, and parenting responsibilities.

Additionally, the guide would offer marital advice and resources for extra premarital education or for potentially failing marriages.

The legislation’s supporters say that money for the project will be funded by private sources, but the financial backers have not been clearly identified.

If passed, the act would take effect in July 1, 2018.