• Bishop reflects on the pope's encyclical

    It is rare that a much-anticipated document lives up to its expectation, but having studied the encyclical of his holiness Pope Francis, Laudato Sí, I conclude that the document exceeds my expectations and actually gives the human community truths to ponder well into the future.

    Read More
  • Pope's encyclical detailed

    The earth, which was created to support life and give praise to God, is crying out with pain because human activity is destroying it, Pope Francis says in his long-awaited encyclical. La Tierra, que fue creada para apoyar la vida y alabar a Dios, está gritando de dolor porque la actividad humana está destruyéndo, dice el papa Francisco dice en su largamente esperada encíclica.

    Read More
  • Annual Appeal for 2015 continues

    Just over $900,000 has been donated or pledged toward the goal of $1.125 million for the Catholic Community Annual Appeal.

    Read More
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

SEALED WITH GOD'S SPIRIT: A Child's View of Community

Length10 min.
Age GroupPI - Primary -Intermediate
PublisherSt. Anthony Messenger Press
TopicsCatechist Resources
Spirituality

This program is presented as a child's religion class report on Church. A young person's crayon drawings "come alive" in video images depicting what it means to "be Church." Diverse cultures are represented to help children see that "my Church" is broader

Featured Events

Catholic News Headlines

  • By Nancy O'Brien BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Pope Francis' Sept. 1 announcement that priests worldwide will be able to absolve women for the sin of abortion will have little effect on pastoral practices in the United States and Canada, where most priests already have such authority in the sacrament of reconciliation. It is my understanding that the faculty for the priest to lift the 'latae sententiae' excommunication for abortion is almost universally granted in North America, said Don Clemmer, interim director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Latae sententiae is a Latin term in canon law that means excommunication for certain crimes, including involvement in abortion, is automatic. Clemmer said it is the fiat of the local bishop whether to allow the priests in his diocese to absolve those sins and most bishops granted such permission when giving priests faculties to minister in their local church. Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany, New York, confirmed that in a Sept. 1 statement welcoming what he called the pope's wonderful gesture. The priests of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany and throughout the United States have ... had the faculties to lift the sanction of excommunication for the sin of abortion for more than 30 years, he said. Any woman who has had an abortion, any person who has been involved in an abortion in any way, can always seek God's forgiveness through the sacrament of reconciliation, if they are truly sorry for their actions. Several prelates, including Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, emphasized that Pope Francis' action in no way diminishes the moral gravity of abortion. What it does do is make access to sacramental forgiveness easier for anyone who seeks it with a truly penitent heart, he said. Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, said his hope and prayer is that all those carrying the burden of an experience of abortion would turn to the church and her sacraments and experience the Lord's mercy and love. He directed all those involved with an abortion -- wherever a person might be in their healing journey -- to look into the resources offered by Project Rachel or a similar post-abortion healing ministry in their dioceses. Contact information for most dioceses is available at www.hopeafterabortion.com (in Spanish at www.esperanzaposaborto.com) or through the national toll-free number, 888-456-HOPE. Mary E. McClusky, assistant director of Project Rachel ministry development in the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, said it has been frustrating for her to see reports about Pope Francis' action in the secular media that perpetuate the false notion that the church excommunicates anyone who has an abortion. They are making it sound like something new, she said, but the church has welcomed all sinners since the time of Jesus. ... It is at the heart of what it means to be a priest to extend that forgiveness. In addition to the sacrament of reconciliation, the U.S. church offers through Project Rachel a confidential and safe place for women and men, for anyone who suffers from involvement with abortion, to tell their story, have someone listen and be relieved of all the emotional, spiritual and psychological pain they are experiencing from abortion, McClusky said. Project Rachel, which has existed since 1975 and was taken under the umbrella of the bishops' conference in 2005, provides opportunities for group healing through support groups or retreats as well as referrals to licensed mental health professionals if needed, she said. But confession is at its heart, she added. McClusky said the post-abortion healing programs respond to a need that the bishops have been hearing from people in the pews of their local churches. A lot of people are in pain and in need of assistance to reconcile with God and come back to the church, she said. Catholic commentators and canon lawyers have raised a number of questions about Pope Francis' action, including whether societal pressures and other extenuating circumstances surrounding an abortion would have kept it from rising to the level of an excommunication for the woman in most cases anyway. But further clarification from the Vatican would be needed to resolve that question. Others, such as Catholic moral theologian Charles Camosy, noted that the pope's words about abortion and forgiveness bore a striking resemblance to the words of Pope St. John Paul II in his 1995 encyclical, Evangelium Vitae. Addressing women who have had abortions, Pope John Paul wrote, If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the sacrament of reconciliation. New teaching or not, Albany's Bishop Scharfenberger expressed hope that women will take advantage of this opportunity. The real news is that there is no need to wait, he said. God is ready to forgive and heal now!  - - -Copyright © 2015 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/Gregory A. ShemitzBy Maria Pia Negro ChinNEW YORK (CNS) -- New Yorkers and tourists in Midtown Manhattan have been gazing up at a smiling Pope Francis at one of New York's busiest intersections. A 225-foot tall hand-painted billboard welcomes the pope, who will be in New York, Sept. 24-26. The welcoming message is located at the corner of Eighth Avenue and 34th Street, near Madison Square Garden, where the pope will celebrate Mass Sept. 25. The mural was commissioned by DeSales Media Group, the communications and technology arm of the Diocese of Brooklyn and parent company of The Tablet and NET-TV. The mural has been attracting the attention of workers and passersby. "As a tourist, I think it is fantastic. I am Catholic so I am happy to see them doing that mural," Chilean Lorena Quezada told The Tablet, newspaper of the Brooklyn Diocese. "It is impressive ... I think the pope is going to like it." New Yorker Charles Wickliffe said the mural makes people think about religion and God. "It is nice that (Pope Francis) is coming to Madison Square Garden and that people are putting his picture (on the billboard) instead of putting pictures of cars," he said. "I'm looking forward to hearing what he has to say." Designed by Israel Ochoa of DeSales Media, the mural showcases a photo of Pope Francis waving to a crowd taken by photographer Giulio Napolitano. "This is our way to say 'welcome' and evangelize in the heart of this culturally-diverse city," said Msgr. Kieran Harrington, chairman of DeSales Media Group. "I am convinced that Pope Francis' apostolic visit will impact everyone, touching hearts across different backgrounds and beliefs." The upcoming visit is already making an impression. Adina Settles, who works near Madison Square Garden, recognized Pope Francis' face when the painters begun to color the mural. She said she hopes his presence inspires people to move beyond politics. "I've lived long enough to see a pope that is connected with the rest of the world," she said. "I think the mural is positive, is uplifting, is hopeful. It's everything we need right now." For Rosbel Santana, a Catholic who is lives in Newark, New Jersey, and attends to a Catholic charismatic renewal group, the pope's visit could be a chance for people to hear his message and "change their lives for the better." For the four people painting the billboard, working on the likeness of the pope has been a blessing. Van Hecht-Nielsen, a parishioner of St. John the Evangelist Church in Loveland, Colorado, who has more than 10 years of experience painting billboards across the country, said he was happy to create an ad that has a deeper meaning. "My wife (Ashlee) and I were very excited. We are both converts to the faith," the father of seven said. "It is wonderful to see the way the pope is touching the world." "People are getting excited and it is a blessing because I think it sends a message to the community," Hecht-Nielsen said. Raising awareness about the papal visit might still be needed, according to a survey the Public Religion Research Institute released in August. The survey found that only 47 percent of respondents overall knew the pope was visiting the U.S. However, 69 percent of Catholic respondents had heard the pope is coming. The mural helped Francisco Alejandro of Columbus, Ohio, to learn about the papal visit. "I would like to learn more about it, so we can visit (New York) again," he said. The mural includes the public hashtags #PopeInUSA and #PapaEnUSA, inviting people to engage in conversation via social media. The mural is expected to be seen by 700,000 people each week and will remain in place throughout September. - - - Chin writes for The Tablet, newspaper of the Diocese of Brooklyn.  - - -Copyright © 2015 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/Ettore Ferrari, EPABy Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In an extraordinary gesture for the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis has extended to priests worldwide the authority to absolve women for the sin of abortion and has decreed the full validity during the year of the sacrament of confession celebrated by priests of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X. "This jubilee Year of Mercy excludes no one," the pope wrote in a letter to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of New Evangelization, the office organizing events for the holy year, which opens Dec. 8. Pope Francis said one of the most serious problems facing people today is a "widespread and insensitive mentality" toward the sacredness of human life. "The tragedy of abortion is experienced by some with a superficial awareness, as if not realizing the extreme harm that such an act entails," while many other women believe that "they have no other option" but to have an abortion, the pope wrote in the letter, released Sept. 1 by the Vatican. The pressures exerted on many women to abort lead to "an existential and moral ordeal," Pope Francis said. "I have met so many women who bear in their heart the scar of this agonizing and painful decision." When such a woman has repented and seeks absolution in the sacrament of confession, he said, "the forgiveness of God cannot be denied." Although church law generally requires a priest to have special permission, called faculties, from his bishop to grant absolution to a person who has procured or helped another to procure an abortion, the pope said he decided "to concede to all priests for the jubilee year the discretion to absolve of the sin of abortion those who have procured it and who, with contrite heart, seek forgiveness for it." Pope Francis urged priests to welcome to the sacrament women who have had an abortion, explain "the gravity of the sin committed" and indicate to them "a path of authentic conversion by which to obtain the true and generous forgiveness of the Father who renews all with his presence." Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters the pope's letter "highlights the wideness of God's mercy" and is "not in any way minimizing the gravity of the sin" of abortion. In his letter, Pope Francis also granted another exception to church rules out of concern for "those faithful who for various reasons choose to attend churches officiated by priests" belonging to the traditionalist Society of St Pius X. Although the society is no longer considered to be in schism and the excommunication of its bishops was lifted in 2009, questions remain over whether the sacraments they celebrate are valid and licit. The pope's decision was "taken with the faithful in mind" and is limited to the holy year, which runs through Nov. 20, 2016, Father Lombardi said.The Society of St. Pius X responded with a statement later in the day thanking Pope Francis for "this fatherly gesture," but also saying that its members have been certain that the absolution they grant always has been licit and valid. Father Lombardi confirmed that the Vatican's contacts with leaders of the Society of St. Pius X have continued. Pope Francis wrote in his letter that he hoped "in the near future solutions may be found to recover full communion with the priests and superiors of the fraternity." Pope Francis' letter also explained expanded opportunities for obtaining the indulgences that are a normal part of the celebration of a holy year. An indulgence is the remission of the temporal punishment a person is due because of his or her sins. In a holy year, it is offered to pilgrims who cross the threshold of the Holy Door at the Vatican or in their local diocese, confess their sins, receive the Eucharist and pray for the pope's intentions. The celebration of God's mercy, he said, is "linked, first and foremost, to the sacrament of reconciliation and to the celebration of the holy Eucharist with a reflection on mercy. It will be necessary to accompany these celebrations with the profession of faith and with prayer for me and for the intentions that I bear in my heart for the good of the church and of the entire world." Those who are confined to their homes can obtain the indulgence by offering up their sickness and suffering, he said. Pope Francis also included special consideration for people who are incarcerated, touching on the Old Testament tradition of a jubilee year as a time for granting prisoners amnesty. Those who, "despite deserving punishment, have become conscious of the injustice they committed," may receive the indulgence with prayers and the reception of the sacraments in their prison chapel, he wrote. "May the gesture of directing their thought and prayer to the Father each time they cross the threshold of their cell signify for them their passage through the Holy Door, because the mercy of God is able to transform hearts, and is also able to transform bars into an experience of freedom," he wrote.  - - -Copyright © 2015 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) -- The smile and love of a family can light up the world, bringing warmth and hope to communities that have become cold, lifeless and depressed, Pope Francis said. "No economic and political engineering is able to substitute this contribution from families," he said Sept. 2 during his general audience talk in St. Peter's Square. Unlike the ancient city of Babel's "skyscrapers without life," he said, "the Spirit of God, on the other hand, makes deserts bloom." The pope's catechesis on the family looked at the importance of Christian families living out their faith and sharing it with others. By experiencing God's love, families "are transformed, are 'made full'" to overflowing with a sense of going outside themselves to embrace all people, especially those in need, as brothers, sisters, sons and daughters, he said. Understanding what is real love and affection, which can never be bought or sold, "is the best inheritance" one can receive from one's family, he said. The "grammar" of love is learned in the family, "otherwise it is quite difficult to learn." But people are asked to live their family life within God's plan, he said, and in "obedience to the faith and in covenant with the Lord," which protects families, "freeing them from selfishness, safeguards them from breaking down, brings them to safety for a life that never dies." Families living in covenant with God "are called today to counter the desertification of communities in the modern city," Pope Francis said. Today's cities have become barren places because of "a lack of love, a lack of smiles." One can find plenty of entertainment, lots of things to do "to kill time, to have some laughs, but love is missing," the pope said. The father or mother who can smile despite being busy with work and family -- theirs is the family that is "able to conquer this desertification of our cities;this is the victory of love of the family," he said to applause. "We must get out of the towers (of Babel) and vaults of the elite in order to once again spend time in homes and places open to the multitudes, open to the love of the family," Pope Francis said. This "communion of charisms" of men and women living the sacrament of marriage or consecrated life "is destined to transform the church into a place fully familial for an encounter with God," he said. Families living out the Gospel and God's love are "a blessing for the people: bringing hope back to the world," he said. Their example and actions are able to do things thought to be "inconceivable." "Just one smile miraculously eked out of the desperation of an abandoned child, who starts a new life," Pope Francis said, "explains the workings of God in the world to us better than a thousand theological treatises." All those men and women who sacrifice and take risks for children who aren't their own "explain things about love to us that many scientists no longer understand," giving further proof that actions and gestures from the heart "speak louder than words," he said. The pope asked people to imagine what the world would be like if history, society, the economy and politics were to be finally guided by men and women working together, leading with future generations in mind. Ecological issues, home life, the economy and employment all "would be playing a different tune," he said. "Let us not lose hope," he said. "Where there is a family with love, that family is able to warm the heart of an entire city with its witness of love." He also asked that the Holy Spirit help families by bringing them "a happy jolt" and help bring cities "out of their depression." At the end of the general audience, Pope Francis recalled the end of World War II in Japan exactly 60 years ago to the day and launched an appeal for the end of all wars, asking that the world today no longer experience "the horror and frightful suffering of similar tragedies." Echoing Blessed Paul VI, the pope said "War never more," and highlighted the ongoing plight of "persecuted minorities, persecuted Christians, the insanity of destruction." He also criticized "those who make and traffic weapons, blood-stained weapons, weapons soaked in the blood of so many innocent people."- - - A video to accompany this story can be found at https://youtu.be/2Pzv6x6yPag- - -Copyright © 2015 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 Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Leading prayers for the safeguarding of creation, Pope Francis prayed that people would learn to contemplate God in the beauty of the universe, give thanks and protect all life. During an evening celebration of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, the pope prayed that God would "enlighten the lords of power and money so they would not fall into indifference, but would love the common good, encourage the weak and care for the world in which we live."Pope Francis announced in August that the Catholic Church would join the Orthodox Church in marking the prayer day Sept. 1 each year. In his opening prayer, he asked God to fill people with a desire "to protect every life, to prepare a better future so that your kingdom of justice, people, love and beauty would come." Although the pope led the service in St. Peter's Basilica, he asked the preacher of the papal household, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, to give the homily. In his homily, the Capuchin, a member of the Franciscan family, referred to both Pope Francis and his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi. Some environmentalists, he said, have blamed the Bible and Judeo-Christian tradition for the destruction of nature, claiming the idea that human beings have "dominion" over nature gave them permission to use and destroy the earth. But, he said, "the map of pollution" covering the globe coincides less with the places where people believe in God and more in places that underwent "unbridled industrialization aimed only at profit" or are subject to rampant corruption. "No one can seriously serve the cause of safeguarding creation without the courage of pointing a finger at the exaggerated accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few," the Capuchin friar said. St. Francis of Assisi, he said, was able to recognize and contemplate God's beauty in all created things precisely because he owned nothing and recognized that anything he was able to use, especially for food or clothing, was a gift of God. "Possession excludes, contemplation includes. Possession divides, contemplation multiplies," he said. If one person owns a lake or park, "all the others are excluded," but if no one owns it, thousands can enjoy it without taking it away from anyone. Father Cantalamessa said that while the world St. Francis lived in was not facing the environmental emergency people today are facing, he still knew that if he took more than he needed, he was stealing from others. "We must ask: Am I a resources thief, using more than my due and therefore taking it from those who will come after me?" the preacher said. Pointing to Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment, "Laudato Si'," the Capuchin said safeguarding creation is an "artisanal" activity, one that must begin with individuals and their daily actions. "What sense is there, for example, in being worried about the pollution of the atmosphere, the oceans and the forests, if I don't hesitate before throwing a plastic bag on the shore?" he asked.- - -Copyright © 2015 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.