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Take a prayerful approach to voting during the election

Never before have I had so many people ask me questions about how to vote in the upcoming election. If you haven’t seen it, I would encourage you to take a glance at the very brief video that the Kansas bishops produced on this topic (you can see it at www.kscathconf.org). While I am pleased with what my brother bishops and I present there, as the actual election draws closer I would like to offer a few reminders, if not guidelines, on how to approach this election as men and women of faith.

First, neither of the presidential candidates emerge as clear and ethical choices. I fear that unlike never before, a majority of our nation’s population will be voting “against” a candidate instead of voting “for” the candidate in whom they have great faith. Acknowledging this regrettable situation I would ask that faithful Catholics of our diocese spend at least five minutes in quiet prayer for the Holy Spirit’s guidance prior to heading to the election polls. Before you get to that day however, I ask that you consider each of the following ethical issues as you make your choice: 

  • A true respect for human life is at the foundation of our values. Approximately one million abortions each year is a moral injustice to which we cannot turn a blind eye. Ninety percent of unborn children diagnosed with Downs Syndrome are killed simply because they are sick and their care is viewed as too demanding. Moreover, as fundamental as abortion is we also must consider our candidates’ views on euthanasia and the death penalty. Our culture is sick. Re-focusing the light on a true respect for human life is the starting point for making it healthy and truly human again. 


Annual request a key part of funding education of future priests

By The Register 

Salina — The seminarian collection scheduled for Nov. 12 and 13 in parishes is a key part of educating the Diocese of Salina’s future priests.

The collection typically accounts for one-fourth of the annual amount needed to pay for the educational costs of seminarians.

This year, the diocese has 12 men studying to become priests. The cost to education them is nearly $500,000 this year.

In a letter to parishioners, Bishop Edward Weisenburger asks for their support in the education of our future priests.

“Our seminarians are among our best examples of stewardship – giving God and his Church the gift of their lives,” the bishop writes. “Your stewardship is no less critical.

No single means of fundraising covers the annual educational costs, said Syndi Larez, director of stewardship and development for the diocese. A combination of other local gifts, endowments and grants are utilized.

The diocese fully pays for seminarian education so that no man declines to consider a priestly vocation because of his inability to pay for the education. It can take up to eight years to complete that education.

Larez said the diocese constantly is looking at new sources to help fund seminarian education.

What’s important, Larez said, is continuing to encourage men to consider becoming priests.


The Spiritual Work of Mercy: Praying for the living, dead­

We believe that our Church family is comprised of both the living and the dead. Those who have died enter into the spiritual realm, a new way of existing and living; every human person possesses a soul, a soul that continues to live after his or her physical body fades away. However, as Christians death has new meaning for us because of Christ and his resurrection. Our Catechism provides a succinct summary of the meaning of Christian death: “What is essentially new about Christian death is this: through Baptism, the Christian has already ‘died with Christ’ sacramentally, in order to live a new life; and if we die in Christ’s grace, physical death completes this ‘dying with Christ’ and so completes our incorporation into him in his redeeming act” (#1010;2 Tm 2:11; Phil 1:21). 

We also believe that we are in communion with those who have died since we share a common life in Christ. Our Catechism reminds us that there are three “states” of the Church; there are those Church members who are still on their pilgrimage on earth, other members who are “being purified, while still others are in glory, contemplating in full light, God himself triune and one, exactly as He is” (#954; Eph 4:16). The Church then is a community or fellowship of all the Faithful, living and dead, called together by God and given new life in Christ that reaches its fullness in heaven. 


Year of Mercy to conclude Nov. 12, 13 in Diocese of Salina

By The Register

Salina — Those in the Diocese of Salina will have two opportunities to attend closing events for The Year of Mercy. 

The first is Nov. 12 in Salina. Mass with Bishop Edward Weisenburger will begin at 5:30 p.m. at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

The western event is at The Basilica of St. Fidelis in Victoria. On Nov. 13, Capuchin Father John Schmeidler will preside at the closing Mass at 10 a.m.

40th Annual National Vocation Awareness Week to foster vocations

Washington — The Catholic Church in the United States will celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week, November 6-12.

This annual event is a special time for parishes in the U.S. to foster a culture of vocations for the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life. 

Pope Francis, in his homily at the final Mass of the 2016 World Youth Day in Krakow, encouraged the youth of the world to open their hearts to Jesus. “Don’t be afraid to say ‘yes’ to him with all your heart, to respond generously and to follow him!” said Pope Francis. “Don’t let your soul grow numb, but aim for the goal of a beautiful love which also demands sacrifice.”

National Vocations Awareness Week, sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, is designed to help promote vocation awareness and to encourage young people to ask the question: “To what vocation in life is God calling me?” Parish and school communities across the nation are encouraged to include, during the first week in November, prayer and special activities that focus on vocation awareness.  

“Prayer for vocations is the responsibility of the entire Church. Often times we think that vocations will come from somewhere else, and yet God invites us to consider that he is raising up vocations to priesthood, consecrated life, and the permanent diaconate from within our own communities, even our own families” said Bishop Michael Burbidge, bishop designate of Arlington, Va., chairman of the U.S. B­ishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations. “Our willingness to invite those within our own communities and families to consider that God may be calling them to Priesthood or consecrated life will bear abundant fruit in the Church and bring great joy and happiness to those called. We want what is best for our children; even more so does God desire their happiness.”


Prompt from ‘spiritual woman’ encouraged Father Clark to discern vocation to the priesthood

The Register

Ellis — Father Dana Clark never considered becoming a priest — until one day the mother of a friend approached him at a gathering. 

“She came up to me and said ‘I want you to do something for me,’ ” Father Clark said. “She said ‘I want you to pray about becoming a priest.’ ”

That wasn’t all it took for the young man to enter the seminary, but it was the first step. 

“When that lady asked me to pray, I took it more seriously,” Father Clark said. “I knew she was a spiritual woman.”

“I didn’t even think about seminary (until that conversation),” he said. “I always was interested in my Catholic faith and always wanted to do more for my faith, but never thought it would be to become a priest.”

At the time when the older woman approached him, he was developing computer programs and databases in Manhattan. 

“I thought God would have called me 20 years before,” Father Clark said. 

Prior to applying to be a seminarian, he discussed the vocation of priesthood with Father Keith Weber. 

“I was trying to get him to talk me out of it,” Father Clark said. “Father Keith said ‘You need to go in and check it out to be sure. You can’t just look from the outside. ’ ”


What’s the seminary all about? Questions and answers to frequently asked questions about vocational discernment

Q: Are there age restrictions on entering the seminary? 

A: Yes — there are certain restrictions. For example you have to be Catholic and you have to be a man. You also have to show yourself to be psychologically capable of possibly becoming a priest. 

Q: Do I have to go right out of high school?

A: You do not need to go to the seminary directly out of high school. Many people enter at a later age. Generally, in the diocese of Salina we do not accept anyone over the age of 50.

Q: Can I transfer to the seminary from my current college/university? 

A: Yes. This is done frequently. 

Q: Will my college credits transfer or do I need to start at the beginning?

A: It all depends. If you have finished at least two years of college, it will more than likely cut off some of the time you would need to spend in the seminary. For those who have received a college degree, there are times in which certain philosophy or theology courses will transfer as well. 


Called by Name program offers personal invitation to men to consider seminary

The Register

Sometimes a little nudge is all a young man needs to consider discerning the call to the priesthood in the seminary, Bishop Edward Weisenburger said. This is the idea behind the “Answer God’s Call” cards that will be in parishes Nov. 12 and 13.

“I was a member of my diocese’s Vocations Board for almost 20 years,” Bishop Weisenburger said of his time in Oklahoma. “In that time I discovered that being personally asked to consider a vocation to the priesthood was powerful for many young men.”

Father Gale Hammerschmidt, co-vocations director for the Diocese of Salina, agreed.

“A lot of times, people around a young man will see his call before he has the ability to recognize it,” Father Hammerschmidt said. “It never hurts for people who have been praying for vocations to voice their opinion about who they believe is called.”

Seminarian Andy Hammeke said his mom was the first person to plant the idea of a vocation to the priesthood.

“Growing up when I said I wanted to be a baseball player, mom said ‘Maybe you’ll be a priest,’ ” Hammeke said.  “As time went on, when I went to daily Mass at St. Joseph, a few ladies after Mass would say ‘Maybe you should be a priest.’ 


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Catholic News Headlines

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler OrsburnBy Carol ZimmermannWASHINGTON (CNS) -- Builders, church leaders, choir members and journalists gathered atop eight floors of scaffolding -- 159 feet high -- in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Oct. 28 for the blessing of the workspace where a new mosaic will be installed on the shrine's Trinity Dome. "It will be a wonder to behold," said Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of the dome, which is expected to be completed by the end of next year. The mosaic will depict the Trinity, Mary and 13 saints associated with the United States or the national shrine, the four evangelists and words from the Nicene Creed. The finished dome also will mark the completion of the national shrine, according to the original architectural plans for the church set to mark its centennial in 2020 -- the 100th anniversary of the placement of its foundational stone. During the blessing, Cardinal Wuerl offered prayers for the success of the project and the safety of the workers involved. He said the shrine puts into "image form" the message of the Gospel and does so "in a way that everyone can bask in its beauty." He said the finished dome, with its particular emphasis on American saints, will remind people of the "face of who we are and the face of God." He also said it will reflect "living images of God and living images of everything we are capable of being." In introductory remarks, Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector of the national shrine, stressed the parallels between the mosaic design on the dome and the very character of the shrine itself -- often described as America's Catholic church -- representing a mosaic of Catholic parishioners from every corner of the globe. He said a special one-time collection for the dome work will take place on Mother's Day, May 14, 2017. The last time a national collection was done for the shrine was in 1953 when it was being built. Both Cardinal Wuerl and Msgr. Rossi noted that the scaffolding itself, allowing the workers to complete the work on the dome, was an engineering feat. Work on the scaffolding began early this year. The mosaic work is being done at the Travisanutto Giovanni mosaic company in Spilimbergo, Italy, and will be shipped to the national shrine in 30,000 sections weighing 24 tons and composed of more than 14 million pieces of glass. Cardinal Wuerl, who blessed the work site, the workers and those present, urged the group of about 90 people at the ceremony to be sure they touched the wall of the dome before they left "because you'll never have a chance to do it again." Remind yourself, he said, that this is "the completion of a 100-year project" which reflects to whoever comes in this building that God is with us. "Remember today for a number of reasons," the cardinal added. "First of all you were here. You were here at a moment in history." - - - Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Mohammed Badra, ReutersBy Rhina GuidosWASHINGTON (CNS) -- There is only one word to describe the images coming out of Syria as the conflict advances: apocalyptic. Aleppo, once Syria's largest city and once known as its jewel, sits in rubble, but more tragically so do its people. "The cradle of civilizations and the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the Middle East has become the theater of incredible brutality," said Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican's permanent observer to the United Nations in addressing the U.N. Security Council Oct. 19 about the deterioration of the situation. "The corpses under the ruins and the wandering refugees are a clear witness to this cynical contempt and trampling of international humanitarian law." U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura said to a group of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg on Oct. 17 said that "between now and December, if we cannot find a solution, Aleppo will not be there anymore." Images of children physically hurt or killed in the conflict have gone viral, prompting pleas this fall from Pope Francis, who said in an Oct. 12 general audience that he is "begging, with all my strength" for an immediate cease-fire that would allow the "evacuation of civilians, especially children, who are still trapped under cruel bombardment." Almost everyone agrees that something has to be done. Some worry that the repercussions of using force would only shift the violence toward other minority religious groups. Russia and the United States, two external players in the conflict -- one supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad, the other mildly supporting the rebels -- keep accusing each other of violating cease-fire agreements. Meanwhile, the nation's leader keeps crushing those who want to see him gone, regardless of how it hurts innocent civilians caught in the middle. Since the beginning of the conflict in 2011, Washington has been focused on an option that does not include military force even though President Barack Obama in 2013 said: "We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation." Yet when the Assad regime was suspected of crossing that "red line," not just once but twice, Washington was reluctant to use force. Secretary of State John Kerry has not-so-secretly expressed frustration with a policy that is not backed with any serious threat behind it. The U.S. has favored hammering out a political solution instead. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Vatican have been urging an immediate cease-fire to allow humanitarian access to help civilians trapped in the conflict and called for the beginning of talks that would yield "inclusive governance," meaning a new Syrian government that could represent the religious plurality of the country and include Christians, Sunni and Alawites, the religious minority that has supported the Assad regime, in the nation's future governance, said Stephen M. Colecchi, director of the Office of International Justice and Peace at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington. "There is no military solution to the problem in Syria," Colecchi told Catholic News Service. "The only ultimate solution has to be a political one." "I think that if the Alawites and Sunni and the Christians within Syria, if they all felt that their interests would be protected in a future Syrian government, they would be able to reach an agreement," added Colecchi, who focuses on the Middle East for the USCCB. "Part of what's pulling Syria apart are the external players that are fueling the conflict ... and Syrians have paid the price of that." The United States, along with Russia, is one of those players, and with an election looming in November -- and one that could yield a new political equation in Congress -- it's unclear what changes U.S. policy toward Syria will see, if any, under a new administration. "I think the Christian community in Syria is profoundly afraid of a violent transfer of power in Syria, which then could lead to a further breakdown of a rule of law which then could be exploited by extremists," Colecchi said. "I think they desperately want to see stability and a political solution." For its part, the Catholic Church, Colecchi said, via agencies such as Catholic Relief Services, Caritas and many others, has been busy providing humanitarian help, not just in Syria, but also to its refugees fleeing to neighboring countries. On its website, CRS says that the conflict has seen the death of many as 400,000 Syrians since 2011, and has uprooted more than 11 million. Carolyn Y. Woo, the agency's CEO, said aid workers have provided food, supplies, shelter and medical support for those who remain in areas of conflict, even as the workers themselves have become targets. "Our staff are now in situations where the average level or risk is much higher than what it was before," said Woo. "My colleagues are my heroes because they're the ones who raise their hands to be in these type of situations." The Holy Land Franciscans in October released a video about their work in Syria, calling attention to the nation's importance for Christianity: "Syria is the cradle of civilizations and Christianity after Jerusalem. Damascus is the place where St. Paul converted" to Christianity, they said in literature about the video, adding that the church had flourished there for decades. Christians once had made up about 30 percent of the population, while today it's about 10 percent and dwindling because of the conflict. The Holy Land Franciscans said the "the friars will be there until the last Christian." Colecchi said Catholics should care about what's happening in Syria because "they're our brothers and sisters. And not just the large Christian community that lives in Syria, an ancient Christian community dating all the way back to St. Paul, but also because Syria is a rich culture and there are men women and children caught up in this horrific situation. We should care because there are people there who need our help." One also has to consider, Colecchi said, the pressure put on other nations to accommodate the refugees the conflict has yielded and who are flooding into Europe, but also into Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. "This is not just about Syria, this is about stability in the region and in the world," he said. And Americans, who often voice concerns about terrorism, should care, he said, because situations of desperation such as the one taking place in Syria give rise to extremism. "In the long run, it's not good for world security and it's not good for U.S. security, so there's a self-interest," he said. "If we want stability in our world, we need to see a solution to this situation." The pope, he added, may have been saying something when he recently designated Archbishop Mario Zenari, the apostolic nuncio in Damascus, a cardinal. "I think it was a way of sending a signal, saying he was acknowledging the tremendous courage of this papal nuncio who remained within Syria at great risk to himself but also it's a way of saying the church cares about the Alawites and the Sunnis and the Christians and others within Syria," Colecchi said. "In a very direct way, that's a symbol of a universal church that's concerned for the welfare of Syria."- - -Follow Guidos on Twitter: @CNS_Rhina.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- His toes curl in pain, his veins bulge from exertion, his bony chest heaves in the last throes of death. The newly restored 14th-century wooden crucified Christ "has been resurrected" from obscurity -- once caked over with dark paint and left forgotten behind an elevator shaft, said Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica. "We have discovered a hidden treasure under the dust of many centuries," he told reporters at a Vatican news conference Oct. 28. The oldest crucifix in the basilica's possession, it was made by an unknown sculptor of "exceptional artistic talent" and technical skill sometime in the early 1300s, and hung in the original fourth-century basilica of St. Peter, built by the Emperor Constantine, said Bishop Vittorio Lanzani, secretary of the Fabbrica di San Pietro, the office responsible for physical care and maintenance of St. Peter's Basilica. The 7-foot-long torso and legs were made in one piece from a solid trunk of seasoned walnut, he said. The arms -- spanning nearly 6 and a half feet -- and head were carved separately but came from the same already centuries' old tree. Antique prints and a rich trail of archival material track the crucifix's condition and its various locations inside the old basilica and its transfer to the new basilica when it was completed in 1620. The documents show that no matter where it was positioned, it was a popular and much-venerated piece of work, the bishop said. It even managed to survive the Sack of Rome in 1527 and desecration when the basilica was turned into a "horse stable" and the Christ figure was dressed in the uniform of the invading mercenaries, he said. Though made of strong solid wood, he said, termites feasting on it for 700 years caused considerable damage, leaving bore holes peppering the face and body and excavating large areas by the armpits. Early restorers filled the gaping holes with wads of cloth, reinforced weakened areas with canvas wrappings and stucco, and hid dirt, discoloration and black termite burrows with dark "bronze-colored" paint, the bishop said. Moved in 1749 to make way for Michelangelo's marble masterpiece, the Pieta, the progressively darkening statue was gradually moved further and further away from the main area of the basilica, eventually ending up in closed chapel. Even worse, Bishop Lanzani said, Pope Pius XI had an elevator put in the closed chapel to connect the basilica with the papal residence above in the apostolic palace. "Darkened and confined in a neglected spot and nearly unreachable, it was forgotten by many and was in some way taken away from the devotion of the faithful," he said. When Pope Francis called the Year of Mercy, the basilica accelerated plans to have the crucifix studied and restored, which took 15 months of difficult and delicate work, Cardinal Comastri said. Because moving it too far from where it had been abandoned was too risky, the canon's sacristy nearby was turned into a makeshift restoration studio. With funding from the Knights of Columbus, restorers used thermal lasers to blast off one layer of paint at a time and "cutting-edge" solvents that dissolve specific substances like oils, lacquers and grime, leaving desired colors unaltered, said one of the lead restorers, Lorenza D'Alessandro. Experts monitored their progress with stereo microscopes -- which are often used in microsurgery -- to make sure they removed only selected areas and layers. She said they identified nine successive layers of paints, varnishes and protective coatings on the body and 15 layers on the white, gold-bordered loincloth. They filled the gaps, she said, by mixing the sawdust left behind by the termites with a binding material that was then shaped to the body. They replaced a thick painted rope that had been wrapped around Christ's head with a crown of real thorn branches from a species known as Christ's Thorn found near the Mediterranean. The original cross the Christ had been nailed to was lost long ago, she said, so workers at the Fabbrica crafted a new one from seasoned walnut wood that had grown near an ancient Marian sanctuary in central Italy. Cardinal Comastri said the newly restored crucifix will be shown to the public for the first time Nov. 6 during Pope Francis' jubilee for prisoners to be "a beautiful sign of hope and a message of mercy." It will then be placed back in the main part of the basilica in the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament and dedicated in "perpetual memory of the Jubilee of Mercy." It will be hung on the wall to the left of the entrance, so when people enter, they will immediately be met by Christ's gaze at the very moment he readies himself to give his life for all of humanity, he said. The Knights provided the funding for its restoration to show "solidarity with the Holy Father" for the Year of Mercy, said Carl A. Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus. In a written statement, he said, "We hope that this remarkable image of Christ's suffering will serve as a reminder to all who see it of the great love our savior has for each of us, and of the depths of his mercy, always ready to embrace and forgive us."- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • By Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis said he wanted his trip to Sweden to focus purely on promoting Christian unity, although in the end, he added a day to the visit so he could respond to the "fervent request" by the country's small Catholic community that he celebrate a Mass for them.Accepting his responsibility as "pastor of a flock" of Catholics, he decided to add the Mass Nov. 1, although he insisted it be celebrated in a location different from the ecumenical events, he told Jesuit Father Ulf Jonsson, director of the Swedish Jesuit magazine Signum. The interview was released in Italian and English Oct. 28 by the Italian Jesuit journal, La Civilta Cattolica. Pope Francis was scheduled to visit Sweden Oct. 31-Nov. 1. The first day, marked as Reformation Day by Lutherans and other Protestants, was to include an ecumenical prayer service and a larger event focused on Catholic-Lutheran cooperation in charity, justice and humanitarian work. All Saints' Day, Nov. 1, the pope was to celebrate Mass before returning to Rome. Pope Francis said his goal for the trip is to come "closer to my brothers and sisters" in the Lutheran community. The trip will include an ecumenical launch of a year of events before the celebration in 2017 of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. "Closeness does all of us good," he told Father Jonsson. "Distance, on the other hand, makes us bitter." Asked about his personal experience with the Lutheran Church, Pope Francis said the first time he ever entered a Lutheran church was when he was 17 and went to a co-worker's wedding. Later, as a Jesuit and professor at the Jesuit school of theology in Argentina, he said he had frequent contact and exchanges with professors at the nearby Lutheran school of theology. "I invited a professor of spiritual theology from that faculty, a Swede, Anders Ruuth, to hold lectures on spirituality together with me," the pope said. It was "a truly difficult time" for the pope personally, he said, "but I had a lot of trust in him and opened my heart to him. He helped me a lot in that moment." Friendships and formal exchanges with Lutheran pastors and leaders continued while he was archbishop of Buenos Aires and now as pope, he said. Asked what Catholics can learn from Lutherans and what they should value of the Lutheran tradition, Pope Francis responded, "Two words come to my mind: reform and Scripture." At a "difficult time for the church," Martin Luther tried "to remedy a complex situation," the pope said, but for a variety of reasons, including political pressure, his reform movement triggered the division of the church. But Luther's intuition was not altogether wrong, the pope said, because the church is called to be "'semper reformanda' (always reforming)." In addition, he said, "Luther took a great step by putting the Word of God into the hands of the people" and giving them the Bible in their language, rather than in Latin. Pope Francis also reiterated a point he frequently has made in the last few months: In the search for Christian unity, "theological dialogue must continue." However, he said, "personally, I believe that enthusiasm must shift toward common prayer and the works of mercy -- work done together to help the sick, the poor and the imprisoned. To do something together is a high and effective form of dialogue." "Look," he said, "in ecumenism the one who never makes a mistake is the enemy, the devil. When Christians are persecuted and murdered, they are chosen because they are Christians, not because they are Lutherans, Calvinists, Anglicans, Catholics or Orthodox. An ecumenism of blood exists." In September, he said he met with 400 people who survived or lost loved ones in the July terrorist attack in Nice, France. "That madman who committed that massacre did so believing he did it in God's name," the pope said. "Poor man, he was deranged! Charitably we can say that he was a deranged man who sought to use a justification in the name of God." Sweden, although nominally Lutheran, has a reputation as one of the least religious countries in the world. Without faith, he said, people do not develop their natural capacity for transcendence. "The path of transcendence gives place to God, and in this the little steps are important, even that of (going from) being an atheist to being an agnostic," he said. "The problem for me is when one is closed and one considers their life perfect in itself, then one closes in on oneself." To help another open up to the possibility of transcendence and then to faith, he said, words and speeches are not necessary and sometimes not helpful. But seeing another person who lives with faith, who is open to God, speaks for itself. A lack of faith, he added, is closely "tied to affluence. Restlessness is rarely found in affluence. This is why I believe that against atheism, that against closure to transcendence, prayer and witnessing are truly worthwhile." Father Jonsson also asked Pope Francis who Jesus is for him. "Jesus has given meaning to my life here on earth and hope for the future life," the pope responded. "He looked at me with mercy, he took me, he put me on the road."- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/Chaz MuthBy Donis TracyBRIGHTON, Mass. (CNS) -- Rapid growth in the number of men entering St. John's Seminary in Brighton to study for the priesthood has prompted the Boston Archdiocese to buy back space from Boston College to accommodate the increase. Msgr. James Moroney, seminary rector, signed a purchase and sale agreement with the Jesuit-run college Oct. 20 to buy back more than 13,000 square feet of space within the current seminary building. "I am so very happy to be able to announce the purchase of the annex," Msgr. Moroney said. "Right after I became rector of the seminary, one of the great dreams that both Cardinal (Sean P.) O'Malley and I began to articulate was the restoration of the seminary to a certain wholeness." By purchasing the annex, located above the present kitchen and refectory space, the current St. John's Seminary buildings will now be owned "free and clear, without any leases or encumbrances of any kind" by the seminary, Msgr. Moroney said. Built in 1884 by Boston Archbishop John Joseph Williams, the seminary had seen the number of seminarians dropping significantly, to an all-time low of 22 men studying for the priesthood in 2005. "Having experienced, in the last 10 years, the most extraordinary growth the seminary has witnessed in its entire lifetime," Msgr. Moroney continued, "we are in desperate need for space." He said in September, when the seminarians returned to St. John's Seminary, there were 98 men living at the seminary. "We had seven more men than space for them," he said with a smile, adding that the St. John's Seminary board of trustees purchased a neighboring house for additional space. The property, called Cheverus House, currently is home to seven of the 12 deacons at the seminary. The annex became part of Boston College in the early 2000s. Having purchased St. Clement Hall, a building adjacent to the seminary, they asked St. John's Seminary for additional rooms not being used. Because the annex had not been used since the 1960s, the seminary agreed to a 99-year lease on the facility. With the signing of the purchase and sale agreement, Msgr. Moroney explained, St. John's Seminary has bought back that 99-year lease. This comes after "extended discussions" between Msgr. Moroney, Cardinal O'Malley and Jesuit Father William Leahy, president of Boston College. "I doubt there's been a month that has gone by since I became rector when Cardinal Sean and I have not spoken about this," said Msgr. Moroney, who has been in the post since July 2012. Msgr. Moroney noted that since the annex has not been used since the mid-1960s, the rooms "will have to be brought back to the studs" and remodeled. Currently, three different architectural firms have brought their proposals to the seminary's board of trustees. "There is enormous possibility that our newly returned annex can bring," the rector said. - - - Tracy writes for The Pilot, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.