Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

Pope to confessors, faithful: Forgive always, like God

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Forgiveness, received freely and constantly from God, is a "fundamental value" for Christians that must be practiced and passed on to others, Pope Francis said.

"Forgiveness is the oxygen that purifies the air of hatred; forgiveness is the antidote to the poisons of resentment; it is the way to defuse anger and heal so many maladies of the heart that contaminate society," the pope said before praying the Angelus with some 20,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square Sept. 17.

Reflecting on the day's Gospel reading from St. Matthew, in which Jesus tells St. Peter to forgive his brother not seven times but 77 times, Pope Francis said Jesus' response shows that "when one forgives, one does not calculate; that it is good to forgive everything, and always."

People are called to act "just as God does with us, and as those who administer God's justice are required to do: Forgive always," he said. "I say this a lot to priests, to confessors: Always forgive, as God forgives."

Pope Francis continued his reflection by looking at the Gospel parable in which a servant, cleared of debt by his master, sends a fellow servant to prison for failing to repay him a smaller sum. The servant is later punished by the master for his lack of mercy.

Visitors holding bandanas wave to Pope Francis.
A group of visitors from the Ramón Pané Foundation in Miami, Florida, greet Pope Francis after praying the Angelus in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Sept. 17, 2023. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

Like the master who canceled his servant's debt out of compassion, the pope said, God "acts out of love, and gratuitously."

"God is not bought, God is free, he is all gratuitousness," the pope said. "We cannot repay him but, when we forgive a brother or a sister, we imitate him."

"Forgiving is not, therefore, a good deed that we can choose to do or not do: forgiving is a fundamental condition for those who are Christians," he said. "By forgiving one another, we can bear witness (to God), sowing new life around us."

Pope Francis then invited the crowd in St. Peter's Square to think of someone who has hurt them and to ask God for the strength to forgive that person. "Let us forgive them out of love for the Lord. Brothers and sisters, this will do us good; it will restore peace to our hearts," he said.

After praying the Angelus, the pope mentioned his trip to Marseille, France, Sept. 22-24 for a meeting of bishops and government leaders from the Mediterranean region, a meeting that he said will give "special attention to the phenomenon of migration."

At the end of a week in which some 7,000 migrants arrived on the small Italian island of Lampedusa, overwhelming reception centers and available humanitarian resources, Pope Francis said that migration "represents a challenge that is not easy, as we also see from the news in recent days, but which must be faced together, since it is essential for the future of all, which will be prosperous only if it is built on fraternity, putting human dignity and real people, especially those most in need, in first place."

Pope: Migrant crises requires fraternal response

Pope: Migrant crises requires fraternal response

A look at Pope Francis' Angelus address Sept. 17.

U.S. Bishops’ Pro-Life Chairman Asks for “Radical Solidarity” with Mothers in Respect Life Month Statement

WASHINGTON – Since 1973, the Catholic Church in the United States has observed October as “Respect Life Month.” This year, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities invites Catholics to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Respect Life Month by embracing “radical solidarity” with women facing difficult or challenging pregnancies.

Bishop Burbidge echoes Saint John Paul II, who coined the term “radical solidarity” in reference to the care owed to vulnerable pregnant women: “In firmly rejecting ‘pro-choice’ it is necessary to become courageously ‘pro woman,’ promoting a choice that is truly in favor of women. … The only honest stance, in these cases, is that of radical solidarity with the woman.”

While our efforts must remain strong to end legalized abortion, Bishop Burbidge affirmed the personal responsibility of all Catholics to “thoroughly surround mothers in need with life-giving support and personal accompaniment.”

Read Bishop Burbidge’s full statement, “Living Radical Solidarity” here.


WOF 404: Understanding Flannery O’Connor w/ Ethan and Maya Hawke

Brandon Vogt

Ethan and Maya Hawke with Bishop Barron

Bishop Barron and the Hawkes enjoy a delightful and wide-ranging conversation about the film, Flannery O’Connor’s stories, and so much more.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Bishop Robert Barron


How often the Bible compels us to meditate on the meaning of faith! Even a tiny bit of faith makes an extraordinary difference.

Pope meets U.S. leaders patiently building 'culture of solidarity'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When Pope Francis told a group of U.S. community organizers that their work was "atomic," Jorge Montiel said, "I thought, 'Oh, you mean we blow things up?'"

But instead, the pope spoke about how the groups associated with the West/Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation in the United States take issues patiently, "atom by atom," and end up building something that "penetrates" and changes entire communities, said Montiel, an IAF organizer in Colorado and New Mexico.

Pope Francis' hourlong meeting Sept. 14 with 15 delegates from the group was a follow-up to a similar meeting a year ago. Neither meeting was listed on the pope's official schedule and, the delegates said, both were conversations, not "audiences."

"It was relaxed, it was engaging," said Joe Rubio, national co-director of IAF. "Often you don't see that even with parish priests," he told Catholic News Service Sept. 15, garnering the laughter of other delegates.

Elizabeth Valdez, an IAF organizer in Texas, said the delegates told the pope about their work to promote a living wage, to welcome immigrants, to protect the environment, to improve schools and to get more people access to mental health services -- all efforts that grew out of listening to people in their communities talk about what they needed and then building partnerships with churches, synagogues or mosques, unions, local nonprofits and community service providers.

Rubio said the group has an 80-year history in community organizing and "in the last 50 years, parishes have become really integral to the work," much of which echoes the tenets of Catholic social teaching.

Pope Francis and Tazamisha Alexander
Pope Francis shares a laugh with Tazamisha Alexander, a leader with Common Ground in Solano Country, Calif., a group affiliated with the West/Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation, in his Vatican residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, Sept. 14, 2023. (CNS photo/Courtesy of West/Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation)
One thing Pope Francis noted at last year's meeting with the group is how it also models key parts of his vision of a "synodal church," one where people listen to each other, empower each other, take responsibility and work together to respond to concrete needs. Several bishops in Texas used local community organizing teams to conduct their diocesan listening sessions at the start of the process for the current Synod of Bishops, said Father David Garcia, who has spent decades working in San Antonio, Texas, with Communities Organized for Public Service.

Pope Francis was eager to hear an update on the West/Southwest Industrial Areas Foundation's five-year-old "Recognizing the Stranger" program, a parish-based project to identify, train and mentor immigrant leaders to build connections among themselves and with nonimmigrant allies in their parishes and the broader community. Supported by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the project is active in 19 Western U.S. dioceses.

While most of the delegates who met the pope at his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae, were Catholic and work closely with Catholic parishes and dioceses, the group was ecumenical.

Sally Boeckholt, from AMOS -- A Mid-Iowa Organizing Strategy -- in Des Moines, Iowa, is a member of the First Unitarian Church and said community organizing work has been "transformational for me in my relationships with the folks that I've gotten to know who are Catholic or members of other faiths. I have a much deeper appreciation for how faith animates what they do."

Sonia Rodriguez, who has been a leader in San Antonio's Communities Organized for Public Service "on and off since the 1980s," said it had been "quite a ride" working with her neighbors to "make changes in the city and really begin to shape the culture of the city in a way that nobody had dreamed of."

The pope, she said, summed up their work as "creating a culture of solidarity," and "it was perfect; that's exactly right."


Sunday, September 17, 2023

Bishop Robert Barron


Friends, the greatest grace the Church can offer is reconciliation, the restoration of the divine friendship, the forgiveness of our sins.

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Bishop Robert Barron


When the inevitable trials come, the life built on pleasure, money, power, or fame will give way. So on what is the whole of your life built?

Fool’s Gold: The Reality of Psychedelics

Michael Adams


When our foundation is outside of God, we are rooted in nothingness. It is no surprise that we then fall for the fool’s gold of psychedelics.

Mediterranean mosaics: Pope in Marseille will show beauty of diversity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis' trip to the French port city of Marseille Sept. 22-23 is another stop on a decade-long Mediterranean pilgrimage, which began with his maiden voyage as pope to the Italian island of Lampedusa in 2013 followed by a dozen other port cities and coastal countries.

For a pope who prefers going to the peripheries, this sea is one of them. He has called it the "biggest cemetery in Europe" as it has become a final and forgotten resting place for thousands of migrants who have died crossing its waters.

"There is a problem that worries me, which is the problem of the Mediterranean," he told reporters Aug. 7 on his return flight from Lisbon, Portugal. "The exploitation of migrants is criminal" as is their detention in "the lagers of North Africa."

In this file photo, Pope Francis meets refugees at the Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesbos, Greece, in 2016. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

"I am going to Marseille for this," he said, highlighting a week-long gathering there. "The bishops of the Mediterranean are meeting, with some politicians, too, in order to reflect seriously on this tragedy facing migrants."

Pope Francis will address the meeting's final session Sept. 23.

This year's "Mediterranean Meetings," which began in Bari, Italy, in 2020, will bring together about 70 bishops and 60 young people of all faiths from 30 countries surrounding the Mediterranean to dialogue together, Cardinal Jean-Marc Aveline of Marseille told reporters Sept. 13.

They will discuss social-economic issues, ecology, immigration and civil or political conflicts affecting them directly and the region at large, he said during a press briefing in Rome.

The Catholic Church has a role in bringing all sides together to focus on concrete ways to promote the common good, to see and respect the dignity of all human beings and to recognize everyone is part of one human family, he said. Many of the young people sitting down together will be coming from countries historically at odds with each other: like Israel and Palestine, Greece and Turkey, Algeria and Morocco, he added.

The meetings' theme, Mosaic of Hope, is very much in line with Pope Francis' emphasis on encounter and the beauty of diversity pieced harmoniously together. And it is expected the pope will continue his message of plurality as an opportunity, not a threat, specifically for the countries and communities dotting the Mediterranean, which has been the byway of great civilizations who co-mingled and clashed for millennia.

"Three continents meet in the Mediterranean. These shores are the birthplace of the three great monotheistic religions, and throughout history have witnessed numerous exchanges, as well as serious and recurring conflicts," Cardinal Aveline said in an interview with the Jesuit journal, La Civiltà Cattolica, Aug. 31.

Cardinal Jean-Marc Aveline of Marseille speaks with reporters at a press briefing in Rome Sept. 13, 2023. (CNS photo/Carol Glatz)

The cardinal himself is a mosaic of the Mediterranean; born in Algeria when it was a French colony, he grew up and was ordained in Marseille, worked extensively in formation, vocations, higher education and interreligious dialogue, founded an institute for the study of the theology of religions and led the Catholic Institute of the Mediterranean.

In fact, as a theologian, Cardinal Aveline has long been involved with pursuing what Pope Francis has called "a theology of the Mediterranean."

The cardinal said it is "a Christian theology developed from the shores of the Mediterranean and adapted to its context" that tackles the same questions in the 2019 Document on Human Fraternity: "How can we care for one another within the one human family? How can we nurture a tolerant and peaceful coexistence … ensure that our communities welcome others" and help religions be "paths of brotherhood instead of walls of separation?"

A Vatican postage stamp with the title "First pastoral visit" is seen showing Pope Francis praying for migrants who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea during a visit to Lampedusa, Italy, July 8, 2013. (CNS photo/Courtesy of the Vatican Philatelic and Numismatic Office)

All these themes are expected to be touched upon by Pope Francis during his two-day trip, which will feature just four main events and be a kind of prelude to the church's celebration of World Day of Migrants and Refugees Sept. 24.

Arriving in the late afternoon, the pope will head to the city's historic Basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde -- a 19th-century landmark set atop the foundations of an ancient fort on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The monumental gilded copper statue of Our Lady holding baby Jesus perched atop the bell tower is affectionately called the "Bonne Mère" ("Good Mother") and is traditionally seen as a protectoress of the city.

The pope will greet clergy in the basilica after a Marian prayer service there and then will meet with religious leaders from the city. There will be a moment to pray at a monument dedicated to all those lost at sea.

The next day, he will meet privately at the archbishop's residence with about 30 people experiencing economic insecurity and then he will give a major address at the closing session of the "Mediterranean Meetings" at Pharo Palace, a 19th-century complex built by Napoleon III, the first president and last emperor of the French. He will later sit down with French President Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of that meeting.

The pope's day will end with an afternoon Mass celebrated at the city's Vélodrome Stadium, which holds 60,000 people, and then he returns to Rome.

Cardinal Aveline told La Civilità Cattolica that the region has a deep heritage and "happy memory of Mediterranean conviviality, the memory of peaceful and fruitful coexistence."

"Many would like to erase this happy memory and replace it with fear, to better impose their domination and ideology," he said. "But we bear witness to the fact that, while the threats are real, good is also at work, through a mosaic of people and action."

Friday, September 15, 2023

Bishop Robert Barron


In entrusting Mary to John, Jesus was, in a real sense, entrusting Mary to all those who would be friends of Jesus down through the ages.