Articles by CNA Daily News

Pope mourns ‘tragic loss of life’ after attack in Turkey

Vatican City, Mar 14, 2016 / 10:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis sent his condolences to the president of Turkey where a terrorist attack Sunday left dozens dead.

“Deeply saddened to learn of the injury and tragic loss of life caused by the bombing in Ankara, His Holiness Pope Francis assures the Turkish people of his spiritual closeness and solidarity,” reads the telegram, addressed to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and signed by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

“He prays for the eternal rest of those who have died and for all who mourn their loss, as well as for the recovery of those affected by this heinous act of violence.”

At least 36 people were killed March 13 after a bomb was detonated in the capital city of Ankara.

The female bomber, who was killed in the blast, was a member of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (known as the PKK), the BBC reports. The PKK is a militant organization based in Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan.

Turkish media reports that four people are being held in connection with the bombing.

Sunday’s bombing was the latest in a series of attacks in recent months, including attacks in Ankara, says the BBC.

Officials have imposed curfews on three towns in south-east Turkey.

“Mindful of the generous service being rendered by security and emergency personnel,” the telegram reads, “His Holiness invokes the divine blessings of peace, healing and strength upon the nation.”


Fight in Italy over saint’s jewels ‘completely misleading’

Rome, Italy, Mar 13, 2016 / 04:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Reports that the valuable treasure of St. Januarius will be placed in the hands of the Vatican rather than the city of Naples are inaccurate, says a monsignor who oversees the assets.

“The information given by newspapers is completely misleading. The decree of the Italian Ministry for Internal Affairs is intended to heal a legal problem that has not been fixed until now,” Msgr. Vincenzo De Gregorio, Abbot prelate of the Chapel of the Treasury of San Gennaro told CNA.

“I would like to stress at first that the chapel of the treasure of St. Januarius is completely owned by the City of Naples, and it is completely autonomous: this is fully acknowledged by the Ministry,” he added. “The chapel of the Treasury of St. January is considered of ‘lay property’ with a statute issued by Pius XI in 1927.”

Earlier this week, about 3,000 people in Naples, Italy stood in front of the San Gennaro (the Italian pronunciation of the saint’s name) museum and chapel Saturday, waving white handkerchiefs and shouting “Hands off San Gennaro.”

They were protesting a recent decree by Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano, who reclassified the treasure of  St. Januarius as religious, rather than secular property.

Several sources reported that the move could put the Saint’s collection of jewels back in the hands of the Vatican rather than the city, which has managed the treasure through a lay council since the 16th century. The treasure, thought to be worth more than the British crown jewels, is a collection that was donated by kings and nobleman in honor of St. Januarius.

These claims misunderstand the purpose of the decree in the first place, Msgr. De Gregorio said, which was to solve an existing legal problem with the lay council of the treasure, which for years had refused to update its statutes to fit with the latest Italian Constitution of 1948.

The recent decree, then, was a legal intervention that reclassified the lay council as a “Fabric” (in Italian: fabriceria), which requires that four members of such councils be appointed by the Church. The property of the treasure will not be affected, and the four Church-appointed members will still be in the minority on the 12-person council.

“…even the old statute stated that the Council had to subject every year the balance sheet to the bishop of Naples,” Msgr. De Gregorio said.     

“With the new statutes, there are four members representing the Church because in fact the Chapel is a place of worship: it was born for the St. Januarius (devotion) and exists because of St. Januarius (devotion).”

The real problem was that for years the Council had only been appointing members from the nobility of Naples, so rather than belonging to the whole city, the Chapel had “de facto become the property of some families of Naples,” Msgr. De Gregorio said.

“The council was composed by 12 members: ten represent the nobility and two represent the common people. The non-noble (members) have been chosen until now by the same members of the Council.”

Critics also blamed Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe (Archbishop of Naples) for pressuring Alfano to make the decree, in order to extend his influence over the treasure and the popular devotion of St. Januarius, whose relic of blood miraculously liquefies three times a year, and sometimes on other special occasions.

These claims are also “complete nonsense,” Msgr. De Gregorio said. There is a 1646 document, signed by a notary, in which the Archbishop of Naples at the time gave the council possession of the St. Januarius jewels and silver, but the bust of St. Januarius, as well as the cruet with his blood, have always remained in the possession of the Church.

Photo credit:

Pope praises grandparents who transmit the faith

Vatican City, Mar 13, 2016 / 07:35 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A group of elderly persons and the “grandparents of Rome” distributed copies of Luke’s Gospel at the Vatican on Sunday after Pope Francis delivered his Angelus address, which touched on the human dignity of the sinner.

“How deserving grandfathers and grandmothers who transmit the faith to their grandchildren!”, the Pope said as he introduced the elderly men and women, who were assisted by volunteers of the Vatican’s Santa Marta pediatric dispensary.

Delivering his remarks to crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square on the fifth Sunday of Lent, the pontiff encouraged those present to read the Gospel daily in order that “the mercy of the Father may dwell in your heart, and you may bring it to everyone you meet.”

“I invite you to take this Gospel, because the mercy of the Father is done works in you,” he said.

In addition to containing the entire Gospel of Luke, the booklets include the seven corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

“It would be nice that you learned by heart,” to make it easier to follow them, the Pope added.

It has become a custom of Pope Francis to call on volunteers from a particular group to distribute copies of the Gospel during Lent. On March 22, 2015, also the fifth Sunday of Lent, a group of homeless persons helped to distribute the Gospels.

Pope Francis centered his pre-Angelus address on Sunday’s Gospel account of Jesus forgiving the woman caught in adultery.

He recounted the scene from John’s Gospel, in which the woman is brought to Jesus by the Scribes and Pharisees. They attempt to trap him by asking whether they should stone her according to the law, or show her mercy: if Jesus follows the law, he loses his reputation, whereas if he shows her clemency, he goes against the law.

The Scribes and Pharisees “seemed to have had a thirst for blood,” the Pope observed.

However, Jesus disarmed them of their intentions, and said: whoever is without sin, cast the first stone. This prompted them to walk away in shame.

In off-the-cuff remarks, the Pope observed how effectively this scene helps us to be aware of our own sinfulness.

How good it is to “have the courage to drop the stones we have for throwing at others, and to think a little about our sins,” he said.

After the Scribes and Pharisees leave the scene, Jesus turns to the woman with “eyes full of mercy and full of love” and asks her where her accusers have gone.  

Observing that Jesus treated her with dignity “perhaps for the first time,” the Pope said: “she is not her sin; she has the dignity of a person.”

Such treatment “can change lives,” and help a person leave behind slavery and take “a new path.”

The scene highlights “the theme of the mercy of God, who never wants the death of the sinner, but that she be converted and live.”

The woman caught in adultery “represents all of us,” Pope Francis said: “that we are sinners, adulterers before God, traitors of his loyalty.”

“Her experience is God’s will for each of us: not our condemnation, but our salvation through Jesus. He is the grace that saves us from sin and death.”

“God does not nail down our sin,” nor does he “identify us with the wrongs we have done. We have a name, and God does not identify this name with the sin we have committed.”

“He wants that our freedom is converted from evil to good, and this is possible – you can! – With his grace.”

What’s it like to go to confession with Pope Francis?

Rome, Italy, Mar 13, 2016 / 04:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Have you ever wondered what it would be like to go to confession with Pope Francis?

One American studying in Rome recently got an answer to that question. And she the called the experience a genuine encounter with a spiritual father – that was also surprisingly normal.

“Pope Francis practices what he preaches when he speaks of being a tender father in the confessional,” Leslie Knopf told CNA March 11.

She said the Pope was very kind during the whole confession and was intentional in understanding her and where she was coming from. However, he also made sure to get to the heart of the matter being discussed.

“It was the most private audience you could ever have with the Pope, because no one would interrupt us, it was just one-on-one to be able to receive the mercy of God in that moment,” she said.

Knopf said she was “completely comfortable” being herself, and that she and the Pope even shared a few laughs over some Italian words she had difficulty pronouncing. The Pope, she said, “was fully present to the needs of my soul.”

“It was a true experience of mercy, which is not merely saying that everything is okay, but truly a call to conversion.”

Knopf, originally from Louisville, Ken., is currently earning her licentiate in Internal Church Communications at Rome’s Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. She also serves as Communications Director for Catholic Bytes, and director for a new initiative called Misericordia Media.

She was one of several individuals who had the opportunity to go to confession with Pope Francis March 4 during his annual “24 Hours for the Lord” event, which takes place the fourth Friday and Saturday of Lent inside St. Peter’s Basilica.

A worldwide initiative led by Pope Francis, the event points to confession as a primary way to experience God’s merciful embrace. It was launched in 2014 under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.

As part of the penitential service, Pope Francis went to confession himself before administering the sacrament himself to a number of individuals, one of whom was Knopf.

She said that she had no idea she would be confessing with the Pope, and only found out the day before. “It was a total surprise,” she said, explaining that she was selected due to her involvement with Misericordia Media.

An initiative of the Jubilee of Mercy, the Misericordia Media is a project of Catholic Bytes and offers an audio reflection for pilgrims walking through the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica, as well as a brief, 10 minute video on the presence of the theme of mercy throughout the basilica.

Knopf said that during the confession, Pope Francis gave her general advice which is applicable to all areas of her life.

“He said that when discerning the will of God, it is really easy – you just have to ask and pray and he will let you know. So ask and pray to the Lord on every step of the way and he will let you know as it comes.”

She said it was particularly meaningful to go to confession with the Pope during the Jubilee of Mercy, since he has placed such a strong emphasis on the sacrament during the Holy Year.

“That was one of the main points of my experience that was so beautiful,” she said, adding that another significant part of the confession was that it was so “beautifully normal.”

“It really put into perspective that I’m meeting Christ in the confessional,” Knopf said, noting that every time she goes to confession Christ is the one forgiving her sins, “and my preparation should reflect that regardless of who is acting as his representative in the confessional, whether that be a first year priest or the Vicar of Christ on earth.”

For those who are afraid to go to confession or who haven’t been in years, Knopf told them not to be afraid, and to focus on what Pope Francis has often said during the Jubilee: that in the confessional, it is the “merciful face of Christ” that we encounter.

“There is nothing you can take to the confessional that won’t be forgiven,” she said, adding that confession is above all “a sacrament of love,” so there is nothing to fear.

Last known Cristero soldier in Mexico dies at 103

Mexico City, Mexico, Mar 11, 2016 / 05:56 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The last known surviving soldier of the Cristero War, Juan Daniel Macías Villegas, died last month in his home town of San Julián, Mexico. He was 103 years old.  

Mexican photojournalist Alejandro Moreno Merino told CNA that the funeral rites for Macías took place at San José church, with his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren in attendance.

The attendees walked in procession almost two miles to the cemetery next to the “Cristero National Guard,” a Catholic organization that seeks to preserve the memory of the martyrs who died during the religious persecution in Mexico in the early 20th century.

Mexico’s Cristero War was sparked by anti-clerical legislation being passed by the Mexican President Elías Calles in 1926.

The laws banned religious orders, deprived the Church of property rights and denied priests civil liberties, including the right to trial by jury and the right to vote.

As the restrictions on religious liberty increased, Catholics could be fined or imprisoned for teaching Church doctrine, wearing clerical attire, meeting together after their convents were disbanded, promoting religious life or holding religious services in non-church locations.

The persecution became so fierce that thousands of Catholics began to forcibly resist, fighting under the slogan and banner of “Cristo Rey” (Christ the King).

Juan Macías Villegas último soldado sobreviviente de Guerra Cristera falleció a los 103 años

— ACI Prensa (@aciprensa) March 10, 2016

Macías was among those who fought the persecution. Born on July 21, 1912 in a town called Rancho de los Palos Verdes, he was baptized by a priest named Father Narciso Elizondo, the same one who years later blessed him when he took up arms.

When he was 13 years old, he started to fight with the “Cristeros” under the famed General Victoriano Ramírez and was part of his squadron called “the Dragons of El Catorce.” He took part in various campaigns in the Jalisco and Guanajuato highlands area, and in the second Cristero campaign (1935-1937) under the command of Lauro Rocha.

After the war, Macías lived in the rural community of San Julián until the day he died. This area produces milk and raises cattle, and also was the first town to take up arms on January 1, 1927 against the repressive government laws of that time.

So, what are these ‘Missionaries of Mercy’ actually doing?

Vatican City, Mar 11, 2016 / 03:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Ash Wednesday Pope Francis commissioned more than 1,000 priests who were sent out around the world as ambassadors of mercy.

But for many the question still remains: what are they actually doing?

For Fr. Roger Landry, a Missionary of Mercy hailing from the diocese of Fall River, Mass., their role involves two primary aspects: preaching about mercy, and making it concrete through the Sacrament of Confession.

“The two things Pope Francis has asked us to do during this year are to preach about mercy, much like St. Paul said to all Catholics in the world on Ash Wednesday, (and) to continue Christ’s mission of reconciling the entire world to God the Father in him,” he said in an interview with CNA.

He said this mission is essential to both the priesthood in general, as well as Pope Francis’ vision for the Jubilee of Mercy.

Pope Francis has called the Missionaries of Mercy to be “signs of this mercy of the Lord,” he said – and the first aspect of this call “is to make ourselves very available in bringing about that reconciliation of God through the sacred ministry of Confession.”

“The second main thrust of this year is for the Missionaries of Mercy to preach about mercy” much like Christ did in his parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Prodigal Son.

Fr. Landry, who also works for the Holy See’s Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations in New York, was one of the 700 some missionaries who made it to their official commissioning by Pope Francis in Rome Feb. 10, on Ash Wednesday.

More than 1,000 priests have been selected as missionaries from every continent to be Pope Francis’ special ambassadors of mercy throughout world.

In addition to the emphasis on their role as preachers and confessors, the Missionaries of Mercy have also been given two special faculties that are usually unavailable to the average priest. First, they will not be limited in geographic location in terms of hearing confessions.

Usually a priest has to ask permission from the local bishop before hearing confessions in a diocese other than their own, however for the Missionaries of Mercy that is not the case.

Also, a second aspect of the Missionaries’ mission is that they are able to absolve sins in cases otherwise reserved to the Holy See. Though there are several such sins, the Holy See has clarified that the faculties of the Missionaries of Mercy are limited to just four.

Namely, they are: Profaning the Eucharistic species by taking them away or keeping them for a sacrilegious purpose; the use of physical force against the Roman Pontiff; the absolution of an accomplice in a sin against the Sixth Commandment (“thou shalt not commit adultery”) and a direct violation against the sacramental seal by a confessor.

Bishops will be able to contact Missionaries of Mercy nearby and invite them to come to their dioceses.

Fr. Landry said that when the missionaries are invited by a bishop to come to a diocese, the concrete things they’ll actually do depends on what that particular bishop wants.

“Every pastor, every bishop that writes a Missionary of Mercy in will have a general idea of how best to put him to work,” he said, explaining that in most places they will likely be invited to preach and hear confessions in forums such as congresses, youth conventions, events for families and pilgrimages.

Pope Francis is clearly trying to send a message, that don’t let any sin keep you away, no matter what you’ve done.

Fr. Landry stressed the importance of taking advantage of the Sacrament of Confession, especially during the Jubilee of Mercy. He noted how Pope Francis has often said that his own life changed Sept. 21, 1953, when he was just 16 after spontaneously asked Fr. Carols Ibarra Duarte to hear his confession in the basilica of San Jose of Flores in Buenos Aires.

What the future priest and Pope encountered was “God there waiting for him,” Fr. Landry said, adding that this is what Francis now wants for everyone: “an encounter with God and his mercy.”

This is especially obvious from the fact that the Pope is allowing the Missionaries of Mercy to absolve certain reserved sins, he said.

“Pope Francis is clearly trying to send a message, that don’t let any sin keep you away, no matter what you’ve done…even if your sins bleed scarlet don’t be afraid, just come.”

The act of allowing an average priest to remove the censures in place due to certain grave sins is an way of reaching out to people carrying “extraordinarily heavy interior baggage,” and telling them that the Church “is waiting for them with a welcoming mat, saying ‘come,’” the priest said.

Fr. John Paul Zeller, a Friar with the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word and a Missionary of Mercy from Birmingham, Ala., told CNA that when it comes to absolving the reserved sins, there is a special formula that confessors use which lifts the censure incurred when the sin was committed.

He said that even though the nature of the reserved sins is serious, the sacramental seal of the confessional still applies.

“It has to be understood that this is under the seal of confession, and it’s done under what we call the internal forum, and nothing can be revealed that was confessed,” he said, adding that the penance and process of reconciliation for each penitent who confesses one of the reserved sins will be different.

“Every one of us, sinners that we are, when we go into the confessional are unique. None of us are all the same, cookie cutters. It’s not like we’ve got a boxed answer,” Fr. John Paul said, noting that some cases might be dealt with quickly, while others could take longer depending on the person.

No matter what the case is, he stressed that as Missionaries of Mercy “we need to trust that the Lord will give us the grace and the proper words to say, the proper disposition, to hear and to welcome a repentant sinner back.”

However, he explained that the process of reconciliation involves more than just absolving the person, lifting the censure in place and then sending them on their way.

It also involves the question of “what’s going to happen now?” Fr. John Paul said, and compared the process to that of a person who’s ill and needs healing from a doctor.

“We’re all sick on a spiritual level, we need God’s grace and healing, especially someone who’s in mortal sin,” he said, but noted that in dealing with doctors, some patients need more time and attention.

“So I think in some of these particular instances there’s going to be perhaps a more penitential path suggested in the confessional.”

For his part, Fr. Landry voiced his hope that his colleagues at the Holy See’s mission to the United Nations delegates from other nations would be able to find “a little spark of the mercy of the Lord” in him and in his role as a Missionary of Mercy during the jubilee.

This spark “is what everybody should be able to see in every priest who works, no matter what type of pastoral work they’re doing,” he said, adding that everything the Church does in one way or another is all about mercy.

“At the United Nations, the Holy See’s mission tries to share with the nations of the world the two thousand years’ worth of wisdom of the Church and her teaching on social issues,” he said, and expressed his hope that this mission would benefit from emphasis placed on mercy during the jubilee.

Pope Francis approves new rules for financial oversight of saints’ causes

Vatican City, Mar 10, 2016 / 03:47 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis has issued new guidelines for ensuring financial transparency in advancing causes of beatification and canonization, requiring both an administrator to oversee the process and annual budget checks.

The new norms place a strong emphasis on regular budgeting and accounting to ensure transparency, as well as to see to it that donations from the faithful supporting causes are used as intended.

They were approved by the Pope March 4 in a papal rescript for an “ad experimentum,” or provisional, period of three years.

Published March 10, they repeal the norms which had been put into place by St. John Paul II Aug. 20, 1983.

The new norms are the fruit of a commission established in March 2015 by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, a source who works closely with the congregation told CNA.

The new rules govern the way funds for causes of canonization or beatification are both established and managed, particularly for what is called the “Roman phase” of cause.

The Roman phase follows the initial collection of evidence of the person’s life and sanctity at the diocesan level, as well as the preparation of a “position” paper, which is frequently thousands of pages long and includes the details of the proposed saint’s earthly life. The report is then presented to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which takes over for the “Roman phase” of the process.

The rules call for an administrator to be named by the “actor” of the cause, meaning the entity who initially asked the Church to open it. The person nominated can also be the postulator of the cause, and must be approved by the local bishop.

One of the primary tasks of the administrator is manage the funds allocated for the cause, and to make sure the use of the money “scrupulously respects” the intention of the donors.

They will be required to keep updated accounts of the funds, and will also prepare an annual budget, financial statements, and a final balance sheet to be sent to the actor of the cause for approval. Once the actor approves it, they must also send a copy to the competent authorities overseeing the process, which can include diocesan bishops or religious superiors.

If the actor wishes to use a certain amount of the funds for something other than the cause itself, they must first obtain permission from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

As for the authorities supervising the process, the new rules allow for them to monitor both incoming and outgoing funds at all times. However, as the highest supervising authority, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints may ask the administrator for financial information and the relevant documentation on a cause at any time.

In the case of defaults or financial abuses, the new norms allow for the congregation to intervene with
disciplinary procedures.

The rules also lay out the way in which each cause will pay the congregation for its services in finalizing causes for beatification or canonization. Once the process is finished and a saint canonized, it is up to the congregation to decide how to use the remaining funds.

On that point, the norms have also set up a special “solidarity fund” which is supported by donations from other causes. The fund can be used to support causes with fewer donors, or which might be stalled due to a lack of resources.

Any appeals to use the Solidarity Fund must be made by the actor of a saint’s cause through the local bishop. The congregation will then evaluate request on a case by case basis.

Expenses are involved in the process of canonization because of the work involved in investigating the candidate’s life and writings, gathering and evaluating testimonies, the involvement of medical experts in verifying miraculous healings, as well as the cost of celebrations of beatification or canonization.


Andrea Gagliarducci contributed to this report.

Plugin by Social Author Bio

Hide me
Sign up below to have the hottest Catholic news delivered to your email daily!
Enter your email address:
Show me
Menu Title