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Cardinal Ladaria: Pastoral care, Church law are not in conflict in marriage cases

Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in Rome June 28, 2018. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Vatican City, Apr 28, 2021 / 06:15 am (CNA).

The prefect of the Vatican’s doctrinal office stressed on Tuesday that in marriage annulment or dissolution cases, the Church’s procedural law and the pastoral care of persons are not in conflict.

Cardinal Luis Ladaria, S.J., spoke at the opening session of a study day hosted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and the Pontifical Lateran University.

The April 27 study day was devoted to the 2001 instruction Potestas ecclesiae, which regulates the Catholic Church’s process for the dissolution of a prior non-sacramental marriage “in favorem fidei” (in favor of the faith).

According to Ladaria, in both dissolution and annulment cases in the Church, “the importance of the inclusion of all the realities of marriage in a pastoral framework” is already contained in the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

The theologian quoted canon 1063, calling it “probably one of the most beautiful of the canons on marriage in the code of canon law.”

Canon 1063 says that “pastors of souls are obliged to take care that their ecclesiastical community offers the Christian faithful the assistance by which the matrimonial state is preserved in a Christian spirit and advances in perfection.”

The canon goes on to outline the concrete ways in which a pastor should provide this assistance for his community.

Ladaria said that pastoral care in the area of marriage is an obligation not only for pastors, but also for the whole Christian community. He rejected the idea that the legal process for a marriage annulment or for the granting of a dissolution of a natural marriage bond is in dichotomy with the spiritual care of souls.

“The position of marriage cases in the context of the pastoral environment was indicated by Pope Francis himself, precisely in his apostolic letters in the form of motu proprio Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus and Mitis et Misericors Iesus,” he said.

“The Roman Pontiff invites us -- in fact, he expresses the obligation on the part of the competent ecclesial authorities -- to overcome the temptation to create a divide between the pastoral sphere and the juridical sphere,” Ladaria underlined.

According to the cardinal, in his 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia, Pope Francis both deepened the aspect of pastoral accompaniment already contained in the law and drew attention to marriage crises in need of pastoral care, for which the desired outcome is always the preservation of the union if possible.

The 2001 norms of Potestas ecclesiae say that “marriages between non-Catholics, of which at least one is not baptized, under certain conditions can be dissolved by the Bishop of Rome in favor of the faith and for the salvation of souls.”

This dissolution and the process involved, Cardinal Ladaria said, represents “mere grace.”

“It is the dissolution of a natural, valid marriage, entrusted to the supreme pontiff in his role as the supreme pastor of the Catholic Church.”

The dissolution of a marriage “in favorem fidei” can be approved on a case-by-case basis and only by the pope. In this way, it differs from what is called the “Pauline privilege,” when the Church recognizes the automatic dissolution of a natural marriage between two non-baptized persons.

The unique favor of the granting of dissolution for this reason also differs from the annulment of a marriage, which declares that a valid marriage did not occur in the first place.

In his 16-minute address, Ladaria gave some examples of how pastoral accompaniment is naturally contained in the juridical process involved in the application for a dissolution of the marriage bond.

One example the cardinal gave is the requirement, found in Article 4 of Potestas ecclesiae, that at the moment the favor is conceded it must be true that “no possibility exists to restore the partnership of conjugal life.”

Ladaria underlined that this is because the Catholic Church can never favor the dissolution of a marriage, but must always work first to preserve the union if possible.

Another requirement in Potestas ecclesiae is the presence of a new matrimonial project, either in the present or the future, he said, “and the presence of this implies, usually, the dissolution because the preceding matrimony has already failed irrevocably.”

Each person involved, from the couple to new spouses, to children, is in need of pastoral accompaniment, he said.

We must remember, he added, that a person seeking the dissolution of a marriage bond often needs pastoral care not only at the familial and relational level, but also at other spiritual levels, because he or she is often going through the process of catechumenate or conversion into the Catholic Church, for example, or is deepening his or her relationship with Christ and the Church.

“Thus,” Ladaria underlined, “the juridical pastoral aspect of the dissolution of marriage is only one of the elements of a much broader pastoral effort, which grants a renewal of all parts of their lives.”

In Pope Francis’ documents on marriage “even the accompaniment of the faithful in situations of crisis, indeed, in the failure of their union, is part of a uniform family pastoral concept,” he said.

“Accompaniment is needed from pastors and possibly other experts at the local level,” he advised. “which presupposes that both pastors and experts are offered adequate preparation.”

He also noted that separation and divorce are often filled with suffering.

“In the end, in the norms regarding ‘in favorem fidei,’ the Church also turns its gaze to those who are not directly involved in the procedure, but only observe,” he said. “So one of the reasons for the granting of the dissolution of marriage ‘in favorem fidei’ is a unique grace, that is, it should be granted only once, as commanded in the sixth article of the norms.”

He underlined that the Church should make an effort to avoid the expression of an attitude of divorce when one witnesses that the dissolution of a perfectly valid marriage is allowed.

The same pastoral concern is expressed in Article 9 of the norms, he said, when it states that a diocesan bishop should consult with the CDF if there is a fear of causing grave scandal should the dissolution be granted.

“Obviously all of the articles of the norms of which we have spoken are formulated as juridic texts. They are provisions which indicate aspects to observe, which suggest questions to ask during the questioning of the parties and of the witnesses,” he explained.

“However,” he continued, “despite this direct function of the precept of prohibition, these canonical provisions highlight some points of great relevance for the pastoral accompaniment of the couple, of other persons involved, or of those who only observe the modus procedendi [manner of proceeding] of the Church from a distance.”

The cardinal closed by saying that the Church’s institution of the dissolution of a non-sacramental marriage bond “in favorem fidei” is “not just a truly conventional procedure, but intends and should be, at the same time, understood as a pastoral tool suited to the affective side, and a way of seeing a uniform pastoral care of marriage and therefore, of the family.”

Pope Francis at the general audience: Christian meditation ‘is not a withdrawal into ourselves’

Pope Francis gives his general audience address in the library of the Apostolic Palace April 28, 2021. / Vatican Media.

CNA Staff, Apr 28, 2021 / 04:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Wednesday that Christian meditation is a way of encountering Jesus and not “a withdrawal into ourselves.”

Speaking at his general audience April 28, the pope reflected on what distinguishes Christian meditation from other meditative practices popular in the Western world.

He said: “For us Christians, meditating is a way of coming into contact with Jesus. And in this way, only in this way, we discover ourselves.”

“And this is not a withdrawal into ourselves, no, no: it means going to Jesus, and from Jesus, discovering ourselves, healed, risen, strong by the grace of Jesus. And encountering Jesus, the Savior of all, myself included. And this, thanks to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”

The pope gave his address, dedicated to meditative prayer, in the library of the Apostolic Palace due to coronavirus restrictions.

The speech was the 31st reflection in his cycle of catechesis on prayer, which he launched in May and resumed in October following nine addresses on healing the world after the pandemic.

In his address, Pope Francis noted the growth in popularity of meditation in the West.

He said: “The practice of meditation has received a great deal of attention in recent years. It is not only Christians who talk about it: the practice of meditation exists in almost all the world’s religions. But it is also a widespread activity among people who do not have a religious view of life.”

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

“We all need to meditate, to reflect, to discover ourselves, it is a human dynamic. Especially in the voracious Western world, people seek meditation because it represents a high barrier against the daily stress and emptiness that is everywhere.”

“Here, then, is the image of young people and adults sitting in meditation, in silence, with eyes half-closed... But what do these people do, we might ask? They meditate. It is a phenomenon to be looked on favorably: in fact, we are not made to run all the time, we have an inner life that cannot always be neglected. Meditating is therefore a need for everyone. Meditating, so to say, is like stopping and taking a breath in life. To stop and be still.”

The pope then considered what made Christian meditation different from other practices.

He said: “Meditating is a necessary human dimension, but meditating in the Christian context -- we Christians -- goes further: it is a dimension that must not be eradicated.”

“The great door through which the prayer of a baptized person passes -- let us remind ourselves once again -- is Jesus Christ. For the Christian, meditation enters through the door of Jesus Christ. The practice of meditation also follows this path.”

He continued: “And the Christian, when he or she prays, does not aspire to full self-transparency, does not seek the deepest center of the ego. This is legitimate, but the Christian seeks something else. The prayer of the Christian is first of all an encounter with the Other, with a capital ‘O’: the transcendent encounter with God.”

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

“If an experience of prayer gives us inner peace, or self-mastery, or clarity about the path to take, these results are, one might say, consequences of the grace of Christian prayer, which is the encounter with Jesus. That is, meditating means going -- guided by a phrase from the Scripture, from a word -- to the encounter with Jesus within us.”

The pope explained that within the Christian tradition the word “meditation” has been used to refer to many different practices over the past two millennia.

“Nevertheless,” he said, “some common lines can be traced, and in this we are helped again by the Catechism, which says ... ‘There are as many and varied methods of meditation as there are spiritual masters. [...] But a method is only a guide; the important thing is to advance, with the Holy Spirit, along the one way of prayer: Christ Jesus.’”

“And here it indicates a traveling companion, one who guides: the Holy Spirit. Christian meditation is not possible without the Holy Spirit. It is he who guides us to the encounter with Jesus. Jesus said to us, ‘I will send you the Holy Spirit. He will teach you and will explain to you. He will teach you and explain to you.’ And in meditation too, he is the guide for going forward in our encounter with Jesus Christ.”

The pope urged Catholics not to become overly attached to any one form of meditative prayer, saying that “the method is a road, not a goal.”

“The methods of meditation are paths to travel to arrive at the encounter with Jesus, but if you stop on the road, and just look at the path, you will never find Jesus,” he said.

“You will make a ‘god’ out of the path. The ‘god’ is not waiting for you there, it is Jesus who awaits you. And the path is there to take you to Jesus.”

He highlighted the practice of meditating on scenes from the Gospel, which was recommended by St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order to which the pope belongs.

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

He said: “Here, then, the grace of Christian prayer is: Christ is not far away, but is always in a relationship with us. There is no aspect of his divine-human person that cannot become a place of salvation and happiness for us. Every moment of Jesus’ earthly life, through the grace of prayer, can become immediate to us, thanks to the Holy Spirit, the guide.”

In his greetings to different language groups, the pope noted that Poles celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Queen of Poland, on May 3.

Addressing Polish speakers, he said: “Since the 17th century, the Polish people have given this title to the Mother of God, placing themselves under her maternal protection and committing themselves to serve faithfully the cause of the Kingdom of her Son.”

“Remembering the vows your fathers took at Jasna Góra [in Częstochowa], also in these difficult times of ours, take up Mary’s ever-present invitation and do whatever Jesus tells you. May his blessing accompany each and every one of you, your families, and the entire Polish nation!”

Pope Francis meets Poor Clare nuns whose monastery was destroyed in 2009 earthquake

Milkovasa / Shutterstock.

Vatican City, Apr 26, 2021 / 11:02 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Monday met with a community of Poor Clare nuns, whose abbess died when the roof of their monastery collapsed in an earthquake in 2009.

The cloistered nuns were able to return to their monastery, located in the hilltop town of Paganica in central Italy, in March 2019.

Ten years earlier, the 5.9 magnitude quake, with an epicenter not far from the nuns’ property, caused the monastery roof to collapse, seriously injuring two nuns and killing Abbess Maria Gemma Antonucci.

More than 300 people died in the earthquake, Italy’s deadliest since 1980.

“In that night you lost everything except God and fraternity,” Pope Francis told the nuns in prepared remarks given out during the April 26 meeting. “From these two strong points you have set out again with courage.”

He noted that the community of 12 nuns is flourishing with young vocations. “This is the message you have given to the people: in the face of tragedies it is necessary to start again from God and fraternal solidarity. Thank you so much for this,” he said.

The monastery of the Poor Sisters of St. Clare in Paganica was started by Bl. Antonia da Firenze and St. Giovanni da Capestrano in the 15th century. 

The incorrupt remains of Bl. Antonia are kept in the monastery’s church of St. Bartholomew. After the earthquake the relics were moved for safekeeping but they returned to the church in 2016. 

Before the 2009 earthquake, the cloistered community had lived in its current structure since 1997, when it moved from the nearby town of L’Aquila to the quieter spot. 

On their website, the nuns explain that they live “in the contemplative retreat of the cloister, witnessing to the world the priority of seeking God and encountering him.”

“By making ourselves channels of grace for the Church, our daily prayer wants to be intercession for every man, our brother,” the nuns state. “As the roots of the tree draw sap from the earth to give nourishment to the whole plant, so our life hidden in God, drawing from him through prayer, allows every creature, every vocation, to receive from God light, strength, peace, and every good.”

Pope Francis told the nuns never to tire “of being a prayerful and consoling presence to support the population, severely tested by the terrible experience [of the earthquake] and still in need of comfort and encouragement.”

“May the example of Bl. Antonia help you to always be poor and joyful women for love of the poor Christ,” the pope said. “Faithful to the charism received from St. Clare and St. Francis, respond generously to the desire that God has placed in your heart, living your life as a consecrated person in total adherence to the Gospel.”

During their meeting, the Poor Clares gave Pope Francis a Paschal candle they had painted for the chapel in his residence, the Casa Santa Marta, where he offers Mass every morning. The nuns attended the pope’s Santa Marta Mass Oct. 11, 2019.

Thanking them for their prayers and for the gift of the candle, Francis said, “through this symbol of Christ the light of the world, you are spiritually present at the celebrations that take place in that chapel.”

When the Franciscan community moved back into its monastery in 2019, Giuseppe Cardinal Petrocchi, Archbishop of L’Aquila, said in a homily that “the monastery, an industrious dwelling, has its windows open to the world and often, even if recluse, the Poor Clares arrive through prayer where we cannot reach.”

Pope Francis to hold consistory in last step before canonization of Bl. Charles de Foucauld

A statue of Bl. Charles de Foucauld in Strasbourg, France. / PhotoFires/Shutterstock

Vatican City, Apr 26, 2021 / 08:00 am (CNA).

The Vatican announced on Monday that Pope Francis will hold an Ordinary Public Consistory next week, the last step before the canonizations of seven men and women, including Bl. Charles de Foucauld, can take place.

The consistory will be at 10:00 a.m. on May 3, after the praying of Terce, or mid-morning prayer, from the Liturgy of the Hours.

At the consistory, cardinals will vote to approve the canonizations of seven beatified men and women. This vote is the last step in the canonization process and allows a date to be set for a Mass of canonization.

Only cardinals resident or present in Rome will take part in the consistory, which will be held in the consistory hall in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

The canonizations will be the first since the start of the worldwide COVID-19 emergency. The last canonization Mass took place on Oct. 13, 2019, when the Anglican convert, theologian, and philosopher St. John Henry Newman was canonized in the presence of tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis approved the canonization cause of Bl. Charles de Foucauld in May 2020. The French missionary, also known as Brother Charles of Jesus, was killed in Algeria in 1916.

De Foucauld was a soldier, explorer, Catholic revert, priest, hermit, and religious brother, who served among the Tuareg people in the Sahara desert in Algeria.

He was assassinated by a band of men at his hermitage in the Sahara on Dec. 1, 1916.

The May 3 consistory will also vote on the canonization of Devasahayam Pillai, a lay man from India who was martyred after converting from Hinduism to Catholicism in the 18th century.

Pillai, who is also known by his baptismal name of Lazarus, was beatified in 2012 in southern India. He will be the first lay Catholic in India to be declared a saint.

Seven years after his conversion, Pillai was killed at the age of 40 by gunshot, after he had been falsely accused of treason, arrested, and tortured for three years.

Other canonization causes being voted on May 3 are the foundress of the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters of Loano Bl. Maria Francesca di Gesù, and the co-foundress and first general superior of the Institute of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family Bl. Maria Domenica Mantovani.

The canonizations of three priests who founded religious congregations and institutes, Bl. César de Bus, Bl. Luigi Maria Palazzolo, and Bl. Giustino Maria Russolillo, will also be voted on.

Vatican cardinal: The Armenian genocide is a ‘stain’ of evil on all humanity

Cardinal Leonardo Sandri delivers a homily during Divine Liturgy at the Pontifical Armenian College in Rome on April 24, 2021. / Courtesy Photo.

Rome Newsroom, Apr 26, 2021 / 07:00 am (CNA).

The fact of the Armenian genocide forces us to confront both the great evils committed in human history and the small evils we commit in our personal lives, a Vatican cardinal said this weekend.

Also known by the Armenian term Medz Yeghern, the genocide, is a “stain in the history of the whole of humanity, not only of those who were the negative protagonists of those days or of those who have remained silent for indifference or complicity,” Cardinal Leonardo Sandri said on Saturday.

Sandri, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Oriental Churches, spoke in a homily during a Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Catholic Church in Rome April 24.

The Divine Liturgy, said at the Pontifical Armenian College, marked the 106th anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian genocide in 1915, when over the span of eight years, the Ottoman Empire targeted the mostly Christian Armenian minority for mass displacement, family separation, death marches, mass shootings, starvation, and other abuses.

An estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed in the genocide.

In his homily, Sandri said the literal translation of Medz Yeghern, “the Great Evil Crime,” “forces us to come to terms with the question of evil in human history, but above all within our personal history, when we give in to the compromises of temptation, when we stop listening to the Word of God, when we are indifferent to our brothers or worse, we try to do evil toward them instead of multiplying the blessings and the good towards them.”

“The Great Evil challenges our little daily evils, because the great negative events are always preceded by a prehistory of progressive anesthetization of the conscience,” he stated.

The cardinal noted that the descendants of the victims of the genocide have not lost the faith and are still here to proclaim it and celebrate it today.

“Just as the Jewish people in the Holocaust of a few decades later was crossed by the stabbing question ‘Where was God in the extermination camps,' so too we could ask ourselves the same in the face of the systematically planned suffering of the Armenian people,” Sandri said.

“However, before each path of response, we are called to add another question, which is valid then as today: ‘where is the human being? Where are you a human being, where is your heart, created for good but so capable of harboring feelings of hatred to the point of wanting to exterminate your brothers and actually doing it?’”

Cardinal Sandri said we can be consoled knowing that those who lost their lives in the Armenian genocide 106 years ago are “friends of God.”

“The life of our brothers and sisters was like that of Jesus, a grain of wheat fallen to the ground that by dying gave life to the whole world by saving it: their fruit remains, and it is we who in the world celebrate this day in faith,” he said.

May seeds of life and resurrection come from this fruit, he prayed. “We ask this through the intercession of the All Holy Mother of God, Mary Most Holy, and of all the saints and martyrs of the beloved Armenian people. Amen.”

Pope Francis at the Regina Coeli: Mediterranean migrant deaths are ‘moment of shame’

Pope Francis delivers a Regina Coeli address in the library of the Apostolic Palace. / Vatican Media.

CNA Staff, Apr 25, 2021 / 06:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Sunday that the recent deaths of 130 migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea marked “a moment of shame.”

Speaking after the recitation of the Regina Coeli April 25, the pope referred to reports that the migrants died despite SOS calls being issued when their inflatable boat sank off the coast of Libya last week.

He said: “I confess I am extremely sad over the tragedy that has once again taken place in the Mediterranean. One hundred thirty migrants died in the sea. They are people. They are human beings who begged for help in vain for two whole days -- help that never arrived.”

“Brothers and sisters, let us all ask ourselves about this umpteenth tragedy. It is a shameful moment. Let us pray for these brothers and sisters, and for all those who continue to die in these tragic crossings.”

“Let us also pray for those who can help but prefer to look the other way. Let us pray in silence for them…”

The pope gave his Regina Coeli address at a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, where pilgrims stood spaced apart to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

He observed that April 25 marked the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, whose theme this year is “St. Joseph: The Dream of Vocation.”

“Let us thank the Lord so that he might continue to raise up in the Church people who, for love of Him, consecrate themselves to the proclamation of the Gospel and service to their brothers and sisters,” he said.

He noted that on Sunday morning he ordained nine new priests for the Diocese of Rome in St. Peter’s Basilica.

“Let us ask the Lord to send good laborers to work in his vineyard and that he might multiply vocations to the consecrated life,” he said.

In his reflection before the Regina Coeli, the pope meditated on the Gospel reading for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, called Good Shepherd Sunday.

He said that John 10:11-18 presented Jesus as “the true shepherd who defends, knows and loves his sheep.”

“The ‘mercenary’ is the opposite of the Good Shepherd, the one who does not care about the sheep because they are not his. He does the job only for pay and is not concerned about defending them: when a wolf arrives, he flees and abandons them,” he said.

“Instead, Jesus, the true shepherd, defends us always and saves us from so many difficult situations, dangerous situations through the light of his word and the strength of his presence that we always experience if we want to listen, every day.”

The pope said it was consoling to know that as well as defending us, Jesus also knows each one of us personally.

“We are not a ‘mass,’ a ‘multitude,’ for Him, no. We are unique individuals, each with his or her own story, he knows us with our own story, each with his or her own value, both because they have been created and have been redeemed by Christ,” he said.

Above all, he commented, Jesus the Good Shepherd loves his flock.

“Christ’s love is not selective; it embraces everyone,” he said. “He Himself reminds us of this in today’s Gospel when he says: ‘And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd’ (John 10:16).”

“These words testify to his universal concern: He is everyone’s shepherd. Jesus wants everyone to be able to receive the Father’s love and encounter God.”

He said that the Church was called to continue Christ’s mission.

“Beyond those who participate in our communities, there is the majority, many people, who do so only at particular moments or never. But this does not mean they are not God’s children: the Father entrusts everyone to Jesus the Good Shepherd, and he gave his life for everyone,” he said.

After leading the Regina Caeli prayer, the pope said that on April 23 three priests and seven lay people were beatified in Santa Cruz del Quiché, Guatemala.

He recalled that the Spanish priest José Maria Gran Cirera and his nine companions, who belonged to the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, were killed between 1980 and 1991. He highlighted their defense of the poor at a time when the Catholic Church faced persecution.

“With lively faith in Christ, they were heroic witnesses of justice and love. May their example make us more generous and courageous in living the Gospel,” he said, asking for a round of applause in honor of them.

The pope expressed his closeness to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the southern Caribbean following volcanic eruptions.

“I assure you of my prayers. I bless all those who are participating in relief efforts and assistance,” he said.

He also stressed his nearness to victims of a fire at a hospital for coronavirus patients in Baghdad, a city he visited during his March trip to Iraq.

“As of now, there are 82 people who have died,” he said. “Let us pray for all of them.”

Finally, he greeted the people of Rome and pilgrims.

“In particular, I greet the families and friends of the newly ordained priests, as well as the community of the Pontifical German-Hungarian College who performed the traditional pilgrimage of the seven churches today,” he said.

‘You will be shepherds like him’: Pope Francis ordains nine new priests in St. Peter’s Basilica

Pope Francis kisses the hands of a newly ordained priest in St. Peter’s Basilica, April 25, 2021. / Vatican Media.

CNA Staff, Apr 25, 2021 / 04:25 am (CNA).

Pope Francis ordained nine men to the priesthood on Sunday, urging them to be shepherds like Christ throughout their priestly lives.

In a largely off-the-cuff homily in St. Peter’s Basilica April 25, he told them that they would share in the mission of Christ.

He said: “You will be shepherds like him. This is what he wants of you. Pastors. Pastors of God’s holy faithful people. Pastors who go with God’s people: sometimes in front of the flock, sometimes in the middle or behind, but always there with God’s people.”

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

The pope urged the ordinands to seek “closeness” to God, their bishop, their fellow priests, and the People of God throughout their priestly service. He described this as the “four closenesses of the priest.”

He said it was vital for clergy to remain near God in prayer.

“A priest who does not pray slowly extinguishes the fire of the Spirit within,” he commented.

He called on the ordination candidates to see themselves as “collaborators” with their bishops, ensuring unity in the local Church.

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

He also asked them to be respectful of other priests.

“I suggest a resolution for you to make on this day: never speak ill of a brother priest. If you have something against another, be a man: go there, and tell him to his face,” he said.

He also encouraged them always to maintain a strong connection with parishioners.

“None of you have studied to become a priest. You have studied the ecclesiastical sciences, as the Church says you should. But you have been elected, taken from God’s people,” he told them.

He warned them that when priests lose contact with the people, they become “entrepreneurs,” rather than servants.

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

He said he was moved when he heard the story of a priest who was an able administrator. When the priest discovered that an elderly employee had made a mistake, he harshly scolded him, terminating his employment. The pope said that the elderly man died as a result.

“The man had been ordained as a priest and ended up as a ruthless entrepreneur,” he reflected.

He continued: “Remember that this road of the four closenesses is beautiful, this road of being shepherds, because Jesus consoles the shepherds, because He is the Good Shepherd.”

Concluding his homily, he said: “If you are close to the Lord, to the bishop, to each other, and to the people of God, if you have God’s style -- closeness, compassion, and tenderness -- do not be afraid, everything will go well.”

The ordination ceremony took place on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, also known as Good Shepherd Sunday. April 25 also marked the 58th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which the pope highlighted with a message in March.

The ordinands came from three seminaries in the Diocese of Rome: six from the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary; two from the Redemptoris Mater seminary, associated with the Neocatechumenal Way; and one from the Seminary of Our Lady of Divine Love, where candidates receive a Marian spiritual formation.

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

During the two-hour ceremony, the nine men wore white with matching white masks. The congregation consisted of hundreds of people, sitting apart and wearing face coverings to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the Vicar of Rome, concelebrated the Mass at the Altar of the Confession with the pope, as did the superiors of the seminaries where the candidates trained.

/ Vatican Media
/ Vatican Media

After the homily, the ordinands approached the pope one by one. They knelt before him, placing their hands between his as he asked them: “Do you promise to me and my successors filial respect and obedience?”

After they answered in the affirmative, he said: “May God who began his work in you bring it to completion.”

Then, as a group, the candidates prostrated themselves before the altar, as the choir sang the litany of saints.

The nine men again approached the pope individually and he laid his hands on top of their heads, ordaining them priests.

The new priests were given stoles and chasubles. After putting them on, they presented themselves before the pope one by one. He anointed their hands with chrism oil while reciting a prayer.

Cardinal De Donatis gave each of the priests a paten -- a shallow metal plate -- and a chalice, along with a host for the celebration of Mass.

The pope then celebrated the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

/ Vatican Media
/ Vatican Media

After the Mass, the pope greeted the priests, kissing the palms of their hands. He then greeted members of the congregation, who included relatives of the new priests.

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

Three of the nine new priests for the Diocese of Rome -- who range in age from 26 to 43 -- were born outside Italy. The non-Italians come from Romania, Colombia, and Brazil.

• Fr. George Marius Bodgan, originally from Romania, trained for the priesthood at both the Pontifical Roman Minor Seminary and the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary. He was first inspired to pursue the vocation when he read a life of St. John Bosco at the age of nine.

• Fr. Salvatore Marco Montone, a 32-year-old from Calabria, southwest Italy, was born on Good Friday 1989. On the day of his baptism, the parish ran out of white garments for children, so the priest covered him with his stole. “I have no memories, of course, but my parents always tell me about it,” he said in a press release from the Diocese of Rome.

• Fr. Manuel Secci, at 26 the youngest of the nine new priests, was born in Rome. His vocation was nurtured at his local parish of Santi Simone e Giuda Taddeo a Torre Angela, where, he said, “the sense of community and the beautiful experiences nurtured my vocation.” He trained at the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary.

• Fr. Diego Armando Barrera Parra, 27, was born in Colombia. After completing high school, he volunteered at a juvenile detention center and a foundation for drug addicts. “There my desire was born to be able to help and serve others forever,” said the new priest, who studied at the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary.

• Fr. Giorgio De Iuri, a 29-year-old from Brindisi, a port city on the Adriatic Sea, first felt a call to the priesthood at the age of 15. While studying medicine in Rome, he decided to pursue the vocation, training at the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary.

• Fr. Salvatore Orazio Lucchesi, a 43-year-old Sicilian, discerned his vocation later in life, studying at the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary.

• Fr. Riccardo Cendamo, 40, who trained at the Redemptoris Mater seminary, was previously a film director. In 2013, he was invited to show his co-directed short film “Regreso a casa” at the Ischia Film Festival. He has taught directing at the Accademia Togliani, a cultural association in Rome. Before his ordination, he said: “If I look back now, I realize that the call to the priestly vocation has always existed, that love had to mature.”

• Fr. Samuel Piermarini, 28, was a promising young soccer player who turned down an opportunity to play for the youth team of the Serie A club A.S. Roma. After discerning a call to the priesthood, he entered the Redemptoris Mater seminary.

• Fr. Mateus Henrique Ataide Da Cruz, 29, was born in Afogados da Ingazeira, northeast Brazil. He recalled that when he was 15, he started working for an elderly man. “I helped him with the computer,” he said. “In the work contract it was clearly written that every day I would also have to pray with him and recite the rosary. What I experienced at first as an imposition became a necessity for me.” He moved to Rome seven years ago to train at the Seminary of Our Lady of Divine Love.

Pope Francis declares blind 14th-century lay Dominican a saint

A statue of St. Margaret of Castello at St. Patrick Church in Columbus, Ohio. / Nheyob via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0).

CNA Staff, Apr 24, 2021 / 06:20 am (CNA).

Pope Francis declared a blind 14th-century Italian lay Dominican a saint Saturday using a process known as “equipollent” canonization.

The Holy See press office said April 24 that the pope had authorized the extension of the liturgical cult of Blessed Margaret of Castello to the universal Church during a Saturday morning meeting with Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

She will now be inscribed among the saints via the procedure also called “equivalent” canonization, where the requirement for a miracle attributed to the candidate’s intercession is waived.

Margaret of Castello was born blind and with a severe curvature of the spine in 1287 in Metola, present-day central Italy. Her parents abandoned her in 1303 at a shrine in Città di Castello where they had taken her in hope of a miraculous cure. She was discovered by local townsfolk, who began caring for her.

She came in contact with the then recently founded Dominican order and was admitted to the Third Order of St. Dominic. While remaining a laywoman, she received a religious habit, which she wore for the rest of her life.

To thank her neighbors for raising her, she opened a small school, where she taught children the Psalms, which she had learned by heart, and instructed them in the Catholic faith.

She died in 1320, at the age of 33, and was buried inside the church, where her tomb quickly became associated with miracles.

Pope Paul V declared her Blessed by equivalent beatification in 1609.

Candidates for equipollent canonization must meet three criteria. They must be the subject of a long-standing cult. They should have a solid and enduring reputation for virtue. They must also have a long association with miracles.

While there were few equipollent canonizations in the 20th century, Benedict XVI declared Hildegard of Bingen a saint via the procedure in 2012.

Pope Francis has used the process relatively frequently. Saints made by equivalent canonization since his election include Angela of Foligno and Peter Faber in 2013, José de Anchieta, Marie of the Incarnation, and François de Laval de Montmorency in 2014, and Bartholomew of Braga in 2019.

During Saturday’s meeting with Semeraro, the pope also authorized the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints to promulgate a decree recognizing the heroic virtues of the Argentine millionaire Enrique Shaw.

Shaw was born in Paris, France, in 1921, and emigrated to Argentina, where he established himself as a businessman of outstanding integrity. He founded the Christian Association of Business Executives in 1952 and sought to apply Catholic social teaching in the workplace. He died in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1962.

Pope Francis oversaw the diocesan phase of Shaw’s cause while he was serving as archbishop of the Argentine capital.

The pope praised Shaw in a 2015 interview with the Mexican television station Televisa.

He said: “Enrique Shaw was rich, yet saintly. A person can have money. God gives it to him so he can administer it well, and this man administered it well.”

The pope added that Shaw used his wealth “not with paternalism, but by fostering the growth of people who needed help.”

The decree means that Shaw can now be referred to as “Venerable.”

Heroic virtue is one of the requirements for beatification in the Catholic Church. A verified miracle attributed to the candidate’s intercession is also usually required.

Pope Francis also authorized a decree Saturday recognizing the martyrdoms of 12 members of the Redemptorists religious congregation killed during the Spanish Civil War.

He formally acknowledged that Vincenzo Nicasio Renuncio Toribio and his 11 companions were killed in hatred of the faith in the Spanish capital, Madrid, in 1936.

In addition, the pope approved decrees recognizing the heroic virtues of four other candidates for canonization:

• Cardinal Pietro Marcellino Corradini (1658-1743), the bishop of the Italian diocese of Frascati who founded the Collegine Sisters of the Holy Family, providing religious instruction for girls.

• Emanuele Stablum (1895-1950), an Italian physician who belonged to the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Conception (C.F.I.C.)

• María de los Desamparados Portilla Crespo (1925-1996), a Spanish laywoman and mother of 11 children. Known as Amparo Portilla Crespo, she was renowned for her care of the poor and sick, and the serenity with which she accepted her diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

• Anfrosina Berardi (1920-1933), an Italian girl known for devotion to the Virgin Mary who died at the age of 12 from complications following appendicitis.

CDF to hold study day on 2001 instruction for dissolution of marriage ‘in favorem fidei’


Vatican City, Apr 23, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

The Vatican’s doctrinal office will hold a study day April 27 on the theme of the dissolution of marriage “in favorem fidei.”

The study day marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of the instruction Potestas Ecclesiae, which regulated the dissolution of a marriage between two non-Catholic persons, when at least one is not baptized, to allow for the contraction or validation of a Catholic sacramental marriage in the future.

The dissolution of a marriage “in favorem fidei” (in favor of the faith), can be approved on a case-by-case basis and only by the pope. In this way, it differs from what is called the “Pauline privilege,” when the Church recognizes the automatic dissolution of a natural marriage between two non-baptized persons.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has organized the study day in partnership with the Pontifical Lateran University; the event is intended for Catholic university students, scholars, and those working in diocesan curias.

Attendance will be possible both in-person and online. The morning of April 27 will be dedicated to studying the theological-juridical aspect of Potestas Ecclesiae; in the afternoon participants will break into moderated small groups to look at practical cases related to the instruction.

The morning talks, in Italian, will be streamed online and can be watched without the need to register.

Potestas Ecclesiae says that “marriages between non-Catholics, of which at least one is not baptized, under certain conditions can be dissolved by the Bishop of Rome in favor of the faith and for the salvation of souls.”

“But the exercise of this power, bearing in mind both the pastoral needs of times and places, and all the circumstances of each individual case, is subject to the supreme judgment of the Supreme Pontiff himself,” the document’s introduction, signed by then-CDF prefect Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, states.

The 2001 instruction explained that the dissolution of the bond “in favorem fidei” was first introduced after the promulgation of the 1917 Code of Canon Law.

Previously, the Pauline privilege had been adequate, it stated, since cases requiring the “pastoral remedy of the dissolution of the bond” were rare. In the 20th century, however, the need has increased.

Reasons include, the document states, the increase in mixed-faith marriages and marriages between a non-Catholic baptized person and a non-baptized person, as well as the increasing “fragility and inconstancy of family ties, so that divorce is spreading more and more and the number of marriages that fail is increasing day by day.”

“The Roman Pontiff, in the certainty of the power that the Church possesses to dissolve marriages between non-Catholics, of which at least one is not baptized, never hesitated to meet the new pastoral needs, resorting to the practice of exercising this power of Church, if, after an examination of all the circumstances that are found on a case-by-case basis, this would seem appropriate to him in favor of the faith and for the good of souls,” Potestas Ecclesiae says.

Pope Francis prays for people displaced by St. Vincent volcano eruptions

La Soufrière in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in the southern Caribbean, erupts April 9, 2021. / Christopher Charlesworth via Shutterstock.

Vatican City, Apr 23, 2021 / 08:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis expressed his solidarity on Friday with the thousands of people displaced by ongoing volcanic eruptions on the island of St. Vincent in the southern Caribbean.

The eruption of La Soufrière volcano displaced close to 20,000 people and left the entire main island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines with limited access to clean water, according to the United Nations.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, sent a telegram on the pope’s behalf expressing “heartfelt solidarity with the many displaced persons forced to evacuate their homes and seek shelter from the effects of this disaster.”

“Praying in a particular way for the emergency personnel and volunteers providing relief assistance, His Holiness entrusts the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the loving providence of almighty God,” the cardinal said in the telegram released April 23.

La Soufrière, which had been dormant since 1979, has erupted multiple times since April 9 destroying homes and crops and covering entire villages with ash. Scientists at the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre expect that another eruption in the coming weeks is likely.

The U.N. launched a $29.2 million funding appeal to address the humanitarian consequences of the natural disaster.

The Diocese of Kingstown, the only diocese in the Caribbean country, is also seeking donations on its website to aid those who lost their homes.

“Our brothers and sisters are in shelters spread throughout the island. Many are also in private homes. They all need our help,” the website says.

Catholics make up about 6% of the archipelago island country’s mostly Protestant population of around 110,000 people.

Bishop Gerard County of Kingstown issued a message following the second eruption on April 12 asking for prayers for the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, their government leaders, and emergency personnel working to “bring triumph from tragedy.”

“Our eyes are fixed on the skies during these trying times, yes, but also on the presence of Jesus who has risen from the ashes of death,” Bishop County said.

“We know through faith that brighter clouds will prevail in response to faith, hope, and trust. Our God, who is the author of all creation -- seeing all as very good -- will give us new life through prayer and compassion toward one another. So may it be in the name of our risen Lord, Jesus.”