IMAGE: CNS/EPABy Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Tears and not words. Prayers and not
During his trip to Poland for World Youth Day, Pope Francis will
go to the Auschwitz-Birkenau
Nazi death camp. He said he wants to go alone and say nothing.
When Pope Francis speaks, he can delight fans and frustrate
critics. He can wax poetic or be bluntly funny about human quirks.
But in the face of great suffering and horror, his first and
strongest inclinations are silence, a profoundly bowed head and hands clasped
tightly in prayer.
Pope Francis had asked that there be no speeches during his
visit to Armenia's genocide memorial
June 25. At times, even the prayer service there with the Armenian
Apostolic patriarch seemed too wordy. An aide gently cupped his elbow when it
was time to end the silent reflection and begin the service.
The Vatican's schedule for the pope's visit to
Auschwitz-Birkenau July 29
had him giving a speech at the international monument at Birkenau, just as St.
John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI did.
But on the flight back to Rome from Armenia, Jesuit Father
Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told Pope Francis, "I heard that you
want to live that moment more with silence than words."
The pope responded by reminding reporters that in 2014 when he went to Redipuglia in northern Italy
to mark the 100th anniversary
of World War I, "I went in silence," walking alone among the graves.
"Then there was the Mass and I preached at Mass, but that was something
Speaking about his planned visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau,
"I would like to go to that place of horror without speeches, without
crowds -- only the few people necessary," he said. "Alone, enter,
pray. And may the Lord give me the grace to cry."
Father Lombardi confirmed June 30 that the official program
had been changed and the pope would not give a speech at the death camp. But it
is not that Pope Francis has nothing to say about the horror of the Shoah, the
importance of remembering it and the need to continue fighting anti-Semitism.
"The past must be a lesson to us for the present and
the future," he said Jan.
17 during a visit to Rome's synagogue. "The Shoah teaches us that
maximum vigilance is always needed in order to intervene quickly in defense of
human dignity and peace."
In the book "On Heaven and Earth," written in 2010
with Rabbi Abraham Skorka, the future pope and rabbi discussed the Holocaust at
While the question "Where was God" is an important
theological and human question, the pope said, "Where was man?" is an
even bigger question. "The Shoah is genocide, like the others of the 20th
century, but it has a distinctive feature," an "idolatrous construction"
in which the Nazis claimed to be god and embracing true evil tried to eradicate
"Each Jew that they killed was a slap in the face to
the living God," the future pope wrote.
In a very formal, very solemn commemoration, Pope Francis
visited the Shoah memorial,
Yad Vashem, in Israel in 2014. He laid a wreath of flowers in memory of
the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis, clasped his hands and stood in
silence before slowly walking back to his place. He met six survivors of Nazi
camps, kissing their hands in a sign of deference and recognition of their
Protocol for the occasion required a speech and, led to the
podium, Pope Francis spoke softly, reflecting on the question of "Where
was man?" and how could human beings have sunk so horribly low.
In his speech, he prayed to God, "Grant us the grace to
be ashamed of what we men have done, to be ashamed of this massive idolatry, of
having despised and destroyed our own flesh which you formed from the earth, to
which you gave life with your own breath of life. Never again, Lord, never
"Here we are, Lord, shamed by what man, created in your
own image and likeness, was capable of doing," he said. "Remember us
in your mercy."
After finishing the speech, the pope stood in silence at the
lectern for almost three minutes, writing in the Yad Vashem guestbook.
His message: "With shame for what man, who was created
in the image of God, was able to do; with shame for the fact that man made
himself the owner of evil; with shame that man made himself into god and sacrificed
his brothers. Never again! Never again!"
- - -
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IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN
CITY (CNS) -- Mercy is not an abstract concept but a lifestyle that invites
Christians to make an examination of conscience and ask themselves if they
place the spiritual and material needs of others before their own, Pope Francis
Christian who chooses to be merciful experiences true life and has "eyes
to see, ears to listen, and hands to comfort," the pope said June 30
during a Year of Mercy
audience in St. Peter's Square.
which makes mercy alive is its constant dynamism to go out searching for the
needy and the needs of those who are in spiritual or material hardship,"
indifferent to the plight of the poor and suffering, the pope said, Christians turn into "hypocrites" and move toward a
"spiritual lethargy that numbs the mind and makes life barren."
who go through life, who walk in life without being aware of the needs of
others, without seeing the many spiritual and material needs are people who do
not live," he said. "They are people who do not serve others. And
remember this well: One
who does not live to serve, serves
nothing in life."
he continued, those who
have experienced the mercy of God in their own lives do not remain insensitive to the
needs of others. Far from theoretical issues, the works of mercy are a
"concrete witness" that compel Christians to "roll up their
sleeves in order to ease suffering."
Francis also called on the faithful to remain vigilant and to focus on Christ present, especially in
those suffering due to a globalized "culture of well-being."
at Jesus; look at Jesus in the hungry, in the prisoner, in the sick, in the
naked, in the person who does not have a job to support his family. Look at Jesus in these
brothers and sisters of
ours. Look at Jesus in those who are alone, sad, in those who make a
mistake and need advice, in those who need to embark on the path with him in
silence so they may feel accompanied," he said. "These are the works
that Jesus asks of us. To look at Jesus in them, in these people. Why? Because
Jesus also looks at me, looks at you, in that way."
his catechesis, Pope Francis recalled his visit to Armenia June 24-26, thanking
the people of Armenia who, throughout their history, "have given witness
to the Christian faith through martyrdom."
thanking Armenian Apostolic Catholics Karekin II for his hospitality, the pope stressed that in making the visit
alongside the patriarch, he
was reminding Catholics
of the importance of strengthening bonds with other Christians as
another way "of giving witness to the Gospel and being leaven for a more just and united
The late June audience was the last one
pope was scheduled to hold before a reduced summer schedule.
Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.- - -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 email@example.com.
IMAGE: CNS photo/Octavio DuranBy Rhina GuidosWASHINGTON (CNS) -- Relics of Blessed Oscar Romero, including a handkerchief
with blood from the day he was assassinated, will briefly be part of the U.S.
Catholic Church's Fortnight for Freedom observance July 1 in Los Angeles.
A handkerchief with blood from the day Archbishop Romero was
martyred in El Salvador and a microphone he often used when he celebrated Mass
every Sunday will be present at a special noon Mass at the Cathedral of Our
Lady of Angels and will be available for public veneration until 2 p.m., said a
statement from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Blessed Romero's relics will join those of St. Thomas More
and St. John Fisher, but the Salvadoran martyr's relics will remain in Los
Angeles and will not travel with the other relics for the closing of the
Fortnight for Freedom in Washington July 4.
In a statement, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said Blessed
Romero, who was beatified in May 2015, "advocated for Christian love, reminding
the people that they were loved by God and that fighting back with Christian
charity was the way to victory during the 12-year long civil war in El Salvador."
Carlos Colorado, a lawyer from Los Angeles who blogs and
writes extensively about Blessed Romero, said he was glad that a link was
established between the Salvadoran archbishop assassinated during Mass after
repeatedly speaking up for the poor and against violence, and the English 16th-century
saints who also spoke up during their time.
What links the three, Colorado said, is the idea that "sometimes
have you stand up to your own government." Sometimes being a person of faith
will lead others to accuse you of being unpatriotic and disloyal to your
country, he told Catholic News Service. Today, no one questions whether St. Thomas More and St. John
Fisher were patriots, he said. And in time, Blessed Romero, too, will be seen
as a great patriot in his own country, even though he was accused of the
opposite when he was alive and even in death.
"The most important lesson is the idea of being radically
faithful. You have to follow your faith even though the consequences are dire,"
and you face rejection from the world and sometimes the government, Colorado
said. That's exactly what Blessed Romero faced when he stood up for the poor
and the ones who seemed to matter the least in Salvadoran society of the 1970s
and 1980s, he added.
"It's a level of radicalness we're unfamiliar with," he
Colorado was planning to visit the relics of St. Thomas More
with other lawyers and judges from the St. Thomas More Society, a group of
Catholic lawyers. But because he was born in El Salvador, and because of his
affinity for Blessed Romero as martyr, he said being able to venerate the relics brings
a special kind of joy and also gratitude toward Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, who
recognizes the presence of Salvadoran Catholics in the community.
Los Angeles has one of the largest populations of
Salvadorans outside of El Salvador. In 2010, a census estimate put the
Salvadoran community in the area at 350,000 but Salvadoran organizations
believe the number to be much higher. Many of them, like Colorado, ended up in
Los Angeles after fleeing their country's civil war, in which Blessed Romero was one of an estimated 75,000 Salvadorans killed between 1980 and 1992.
In his homilies and on radio programs, Blessed Romero called
for a stop to violence, particularly for a stop to civilian killings by
government forces, even though he was repeatedly threatened. He was killed on
March 24, 1980 while celebrating Mass.
Blessed Romero, along with the British saints, is one of 14 "witnesses
for freedom" featured during the Fortnight for Freedom, the Catholic Church's
national education campaign on religious liberty.- - -
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IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Cindy WoodenROME (CNS) -- New archbishops naturally wonder if they are
the right person for the job, but reassurance comes from concelebrating Mass
with Pope Francis, the pope who appointed them, said Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and
Celebrating the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul with Pope
Francis June 29 was a celebration of unity, the archbishop told Catholic News
Service after Mass.
Joining 24 other archbishops from 14 other countries for the
Mass "really helps a new archbishop to recognize that what he's doing is
part of something much larger," Archbishop Hebda said.
The archbishops, who had been named over the past year, had
a few minutes in private with Pope Francis and, Archbishop Hebda said, he
expressed his closeness to the people of St. Paul and Minneapolis "in some
The archbishop, 56, was named head of the archdiocese in March, nine months after taking over as archdiocesan administrator in the midst of turmoil
over how allegations of clerical sexual abuse had been handled in the
archdiocese. Archbishop John
C. Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee A. Piche resigned, citing the need
to step down to allow healing to begin in the archdiocese.
In his homily at the Mass, Pope Francis spoke about prayer
as the key to unlocking prisons of selfishness and paralyzing fear.
Asked if he experienced fear when he was named to the
Minnesota archdiocese, Archbishop Hebda said, "I think there's always some
anxiety: Am I the right person for this position with its challenges?"
However, he said, "one of the wonderful things about
coming to Rome and having that opportunity to be with Pope Francis is you
realize that he's the one who sent me there, and to the extent that we are able
to stay close to him and that we trust him, we should have a sense that indeed
my appointment there was a good thing not only for the archdiocese, but also
for me and for the church."
"Some of that anxiety that I think is very natural in
going to a new assignment is alleviated by knowing the person who assigned me there,"
the archbishop said.
Archbishop Hebda was accompanied to Rome by a small group of
his family members, including a brother and a sister. His nephew, Terence Hebda, who read the first reading at the Mass,
did "such a great job" and continued a family tradition, the
archbishop said. Terence's father had read at a public Mass years ago with St.
John Paul II.
Pope Francis' homily had an important message for the
Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, he said, "because we know that
the Lord can do great things when we open ourselves to his grace, when we place
our hope in him and when we're willing to embrace even the surprises that come
our way and obviously fear is something that can keep us from doing that."
"Certainly in our archdiocese we have some difficult
legal problems before us," he said, "and just recognizing that when
we place our trust in the Lord, place our trust in Pope Francis, that we have
hope that indeed the Lord is going to unlock that door for us and help us move
forward."- - -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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The superior general of the
traditionalist Society of St. Pius X said Pope Francis, rather than denouncing
errors in Catholic doctrine, has "encouraged" them.
"The Society of St. Pius X prays and does penance for
the pope, that he might have the strength to proclaim Catholic faith and morals
in their entirety," said a statement published June 29, the feast of Sts.
Peter and Paul, patron saints of the church of Rome.
Bernard Fellay, superior
general of the society, issued the statement after a meeting June 25-28
of the group's leaders.
The society has been in talks with the Vatican in a search
for a way to reintegrate it and its members fully into the life of the Catholic
Church. Bishop Fellay met personally with Pope Francis in April, which seemed
to signal that progress was being made.
Talks with the group began under St. John Paul II and
continued throughout the papacy of now-retired Pope Benedict XVI.
St. John Paul had excommunicated Bishop Fellay and other
leaders of the society in 1988
when they were ordained without papal permission. Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, founder of the society
and the bishop who ordained them, also was excommunicated; he died in 1991.
Pope Benedict lifted the excommunications in 2009.
In the statement June 29, Bishop Fellay said that "in
the great and painful confusion that currently reigns in the church, the
proclamation of Catholic doctrine requires the denunciation of errors that have
made their way into it and are unfortunately encouraged by a large number of
pastors, including the pope himself."
The statement did not specify the "errors" it was
referring to or how the society believes Pope Francis is encouraging them.
While the society "has a right" to full canonical
recognition, he said, its primary aim is to teach the fullness of Catholic
faith, "which shows the only route to follow in this age of darkness in
which the cult of man replaces the worship of God, in society as in the church."
"The 'restoration of all things in Christ' intended by
St. Pius X, following St. Paul (cf. Eph. 1:10), cannot happen without the
support of a pope who concretely favors the return to sacred tradition,"
the statement said. "While waiting for that blessed day, the Society of St.
Pius X intends to redouble its efforts to establish and to spread, with the
means that divine providence gives to it, the social reign of Our Lord Jesus
Christ."- - -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 email@example.com.