June 2015

Catholic World News

Chewed or brewed: A brief history of Popes and coca leaves

Vatican City, Jun 30, 2015 / 04:21 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis might chew coca leaves – or maybe sip coca tea – during his visit to Bolivia next week, the Vatican has said.

Bolivian Culture Minister Marko Machicao told local media that Francis had asked to chew coca leaves in the country, one of several stops during his visit to South America July 5-13.

The coca leaf, whose daily use and cultural importance in the Andes region rivals that of coffee in the United States, is embroiled in controversy in the international community because of its use as the main ingredient in the addictive drug, cocaine.

In 1961, the U.N. convention on narcotic drugs declared coca an illegal substance, and tried to phase out its cultural use by 1989 – but the local coca culture refused to die.

Many indigenous Bolivians believe the coca leaf to be sacred, and people of all social classes can be found either drinking the plant’s tea or chewing its leaves throughout the country.  

Bolivian President Evo Morales, a former coca farmer himself, has staunchly defended the plant as a cornerstone of his country’s culture and economy, fighting for the use of the plant in its natural form.

Morales has revived the natural coca economy, and Bolivia now turns out coca products ranging from flour to toothpaste, shampoo and lotions.

“This leaf,” Morales told a 2007 U.N. General Assembly, “represents…the hope of our people.”

A number of international studies, including one published by Harvard University, found raw coca leaves to be packed with nutrients including protein, calcium, iron and other vitamins. A 1995 World Health Organisation report said there were “no negative health effects” from coca use in leaf form.

In its natural form, coca leaves have a mild stimulant effect considered similar to coffee, and they can be chewed or brewed into tea to fight hunger, exhaustion or altitude sickness – likely the reason Pope Francis might partake of the plant upon his arrival in the country.

And he’s following in his predecessor’s footsteps – Pope John Paul II drank tea made from coca leaves during his 1988 visit to Bolivia, and Pope Paul VI is reported to have drank the tea during a visit to the Andes region in 1968. Queen Sophia of Spain, and the British Princess Anne, are also said to have partaken in the plant in its natural form.  

When asked if the Pope would have some coca leaves or tea in Bolivia, Vatican spokesperson Fr. Federico Lombardi said he couldn’t confirm what the Pope would do one way or another, though he acknowledged that Pope Francis likes to take part in local cultures.

“(I) wouldn’t be surprised because the Pope likes taking part in popular customs. The Pope will do as he sees fit. From what I know there are ways of dealing with the altitudes that form part of popular culture: some drink a sort of mate tea, others chew coca leaves. The Pope hasn’t talked to me about what he plans to do, we shall see. We’ll see if he follows local customs.”

Catholic US News

Bishops expect Pope Francis’ visit to have profound impact on US

Washington D.C., Jun 30, 2015 / 03:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Looking forward to Pope Francis’ September visit to the U.S., the nation’s bishops were exuberant on Tuesday, as the itinerary for the apostolic voyage was released.

Fewer than three months before the scheduled visit, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, president of the U.S. bishops conference, called it a “source of joy and gratitude for U.S. Catholics” in a June 30 statement.

After visiting Cuba, the Pope will visit three major cities on the U.S. east coast – Washington, D.C., New York, and Philadelphia – and the respective bishops of those cities were indeed jubilant.

“I am very, very excited,” Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. told CNA.

The trip will be “the visit of our spiritual father,” he told reporters at a press conference at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in downtown Washington, D.C.

“I am confident that his presence here among us will have a profound and lasting impact on all New Yorkers,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.

In a whirlwind nine-day trip, Pope Francis will first meet with Cuban political leaders and pray with the country’s priests and seminarians from Sept. 19-22. Then from Sept. 23-27, he will tour the United States east coast, culminating with a papal mass in Philadelphia to close the World Meeting of Families. Up to 2 million are expected to attend the papal events there.

“It is an itinerary that says, ‘I walk with you – and so does the Lord’,” stated Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia. “It says, ‘Embrace your faith and embrace one another as children of God.’ It says, ‘God forgives.’ And it says ‘Come together in celebration.’”

Archbishop Chaput added, “I am confident we will leave a positive and lasting impression upon Pope Francis and keep the spirit of his visit in our hearts as we seek constantly to build a better society.”

After his Cuba visit, Pope Francis will arrive in Washington, D.C. on the evening of Sept. 22. Cardinal Wuerl emphasized the spiritual nature of the visit. “He’s reminding all of us that there’s a spiritual dimension to our life,” he told reporters.

Francis will meet with President Obama at the White House the following morning. Then he will address around 300 to 350 bishops at St. Matthew’s Cathedral at a mid-day prayer gathering, Monsignor Ronald Jameson, the cathedral’s rector, confirmed to CNA.

The overall theme of the Pope’s visit will be hope, and this could be expressed to the bishops through encouragement, he explained.

“If we look around the country today, dioceses are having their problems,” he said, among these being poverty, immigration, and a lack of priestly vocations.

“I think that the Holy Father will encourage the bishops, I think to action. We say we can’t just complain about it,” he said, “but we have that big hope that is Jesus Christ. And with him being our light, he can lead us on.”

Later in the afternoon, Pope Francis will celebrate the canonization Mass for Bl. Junipero Serra at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The Mass will be a ticketed event – around 25,000 is the current attendance estimate – and it will be said in Spanish, Cardinal Wuerl told reporters.

Spanish is fast becoming the “universally recognized second language,” Cardinal Wuerl explained, and the Hispanic community is “so significant in the United States.” Plus, as the basilica’s rector Monsignor Walter Rossi told CNA, Blessed Junipero Serra evangelized the Spanish missions on America’s west coast and himself spoke Spanish.

The Mass will be unique in more ways than one, Cardinal Wuerl noted.

“First of all, it’s the first canonization of a saint in the New World. Secondly, it’s a Pope from the New World. And this Mass and the canonization is going to be in Spanish, to highlight the origins of a large portion of faith in the New World but also the growing number of Spanish-speaking people in our country,” Cardinal Wuerl explained to CNA.

A large portion of tickets will be available to the Hispanic Catholic community, he said, and will be distributed through individual parishes. The portion of tickets not already reserved for seminarians, Catholic Charities, and delegations from California will be available to the laity through the parishes, and it will be the majority of the tickets he confirmed.

Cardinal Wuerl expects that at the Mass, the Pope will focus on the “work that is done on behalf of and in response to the needs of the poor.”

The next morning the Pope will address a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill, and he will do so as a spiritual leader and not a political leader, Cardinal Wuerl insisted.

He will be “simply speaking to the hearts of people,” the cardinal said, focusing on their relationships with God and with each other.

Lastly, the Pope will visit the archdiocese’s Catholic Charities branch where he will meet with homeless persons attending the charity’s weekly St. Maria’s Meals program, blessing the food.

The Catholic Charities visit will come last, just before the Pope leaves for New York, and this is significant, Cardinal Wuerl said.

“I think that’s his way of saying ‘don’t lose sight of the poor’,” Cardinal Wuerl told reporters.

“I’m looking for a renewal of hope,” said Monsignor Jameson of the papal visit.

“Because I think Pope Francis has shown that hope to so many people already, especially the way he has taught us let’s get back to the fundamentals. Let’s get back and how do we, first of all, build that relationship with the Lord Jesus? How do we encounter the Lord in prayer, how do we encounter the Lord in our daily lives, how do we encounter him especially in the poor, those who are in need, those who are suffering? Pope Francis has been a real model for that.”


Guanellian Graces

By JOSEPH PRONECHEN | Editor’s Note: Father Satheesh and Sister Margaret Mary will be guests on EWTN Live with Father Mitch Pacwa on July 1.


Have you heard of the Guanellians? True to the old saying that “good things come in small packages,”…

Fatherly Advice

Mt 8:23-27 Getting Through Life

Tuesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time(Click here for readings)By FR. ALFONSE NAZZAROAs Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him.  Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he w…

Catholic US News

Supreme Court puts hold on Texas law regulating abortion clinics

Washington D.C., Jun 30, 2015 / 02:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- On Monday afternoon the Supreme Court of the United States temporarily halted Texas’ regulations on abortion clinics, which were upheld by an appellate court earlier in the month.

By a 5-4 margin, the justices on June 29 blocked the law from going into effect until it is asked to hear the case; and if the court consents to hear the case, until it issues its decision.

The 2013 law increased safety regulations for abortion clinics and physicians who perform abortions, requiring all abortion clinics in the state to follow surgical facility standards for their building, equipment, and staffing. Physicians at the clinics must have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, and a 24-hour hotline for patients experiencing post-abortive complications.

On June 9, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the law to be applied across most of Texas. It recognized as legitimate the legislature’s stated purpose for the law. In the court’s words, the law aimed “to provide the highest quality of care to women seeking abortions and to protect the health and welfare of women seeking abortion.”

The appeals court did grant one exemption to the requirement that doctors who perform abortions have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, in the case of a doctor who performs abortions in McAllen, Texas, on the grounds that in this case the requirement would create an unconstitutional burden on women seeking abortions there.

The appellate court’s ruling would have had the law go into effect July 1.

The Supreme Court justices granted a stay on the appellate court’s ruling, pending a “timely filing” of a writ of certiorari, which asks the Supreme Court to hear the case. If the request is denied, the stay will terminate automatically and the law will take effect. If the request is granted, then the stay will continue until the court issues a judgement.

The five justices who voted for a stay were Anthony Kennedy, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonya Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan. The four justices who would deny the stay were John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito.

Some backers of the law cited the case of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who in 2013 was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and one count of involuntary manslaughter as a result of negligent practices. The grand jury report in the case said that surgical facility standards for Gosnell’s clinic, like wider hallways for paramedic access, could have saved the life of one young woman who died.

Because some abortion clinics cannot afford upgrades to meet the stronger safety standards, the law could mean that as many as 13 clinics will close. That would leave eight abortion providers in the state, the New York Times reports.

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