ZENIT – English https://zenit.org The World Seen From Rome Sun, 29 Jan 2023 17:22:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.12 https://zenit.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/8049a698-cropped-dc1b6d35-favicon_1.png ZENIT – English https://zenit.org 32 32 Pope Francis Clarifies Comments on Homosexuality to Jesuit LGBT+ Activist Father James Martin https://zenit.org/2023/01/29/pope-francis-clarifies-comments-on-homosexuality-to-jesuit-lgbt-activist-father-james-martin/ Sun, 29 Jan 2023 17:19:41 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=208749 Just two days after the interview with AP, the Holy Father answered a letter in which activist James Martin poses three questions about homosexuality.

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 29.01.2023).- Stemming from the interview the Pope gave to AP, one of the questions focused on was the topic of homosexuality. Taking advantage of that question in particular, the LGBT+ activist and Jesuit priest James Martin sent a letter to the Pontiff with three questions. The letter begins by thanking him for the call to decriminalize homosexuality and then he asks: “Why did you decide to say this at this time?” Then the American activist stressed the confusion stemming from a part of the Pope’s comment to AP, that “being gay is a sin: which, of course, is not part of Church teaching. My feeling was that you were simply repeating what others might say hypothetically. So, do you think that simply being gay is a sin?” Finally, the Jesuit asks a third question: “What would you say to Catholic Bishops who still support the criminalization of homosexuality? 

Although the date of the letter sent by Martin to the Pope is not specified, it seems that it must be after January 25. Hence some media have shown the very prompt answer that the sender of the letter (on January 27) received, contrasting it with the answer never received by the Cardinals, who in the past also posed some questions, on another topic, to the same recipient. 

Here is the Pope’s answer to Outreach Editor James Martin, S.J.

* * *

R.F. James Martin, SJ

Dear Brother, 

Thank you for your letter.


It is not the first time that I speak of homosexuality and of homosexual persons.

And I wanted to clarify that it is not a crime, in order to stress that criminalization is neither good nor just. 

When I said it is a sin, I was simply referring to Catholic moral teaching, which says that every sexual act outside of marriage is a sin. Of course one must also consider the circumstances, which may decrease or eliminate fault. As you can see, I was repeating something in general. I should have said ”It is a sin, as is any sexual act outside of marriage.” This is to speak of “the matter’ of sin, but we know well that Catholic morality not only takes into consideration the matter, but also evaluates freedom and intention; and this, for every kind of sin. 

And I would tell whoever wants to criminalize homosexuality that they are wrong. 

In a televised interview, where we spoke with natural and conversational language, it is understandable that there would not be such precise definitions. 

I pray for you and for your work. Please do the same for me. 

May Jesus bless you and may the Holy Virgin protect you.





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German Bishops’ Leader Answers Pope: It’s Questionable to Lead the Church Through Interviews https://zenit.org/2023/01/29/german-bishops-leader-answers-pope-its-questionable-to-lead-the-church-through-interviews/ Sun, 29 Jan 2023 17:09:49 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=208746 President of German Bishops Criticizes the Pope’s Statements on the German Synodal Path.

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(ZENIT News / Germany, 29.01.2023).- Yet another tension is added to thhe relationship between the Vatican and the Church in Germany. The reason on this occasion is an answer that Pope Francis gave in an interview with AP Agency on January 25. In it, the Pope expressed appraisals of the German Synodal Path, which he did not hesitate [to say] does not help and does not merit the name of Synod or a serious Synodal Path.

On Friday, January 27, the answer came from Germany in the person of the President of the German Episcopate. In an interview with Die Welt, Monsignor Georg Bätzing was questioned by journalist Lucas Wiegelmann who asked him if he had deceived Catholics as the Pope said what he said and he, Bätzing, had said that the Pope supported the [German] Synodal Path. To this the Bishop answered that the Pope did not speak to them or said anything about that when they were with him in November 2022, in the context of the German Episcopate’s ad Limina visit. He also suggested that it’s questionable to lead the Church through interviews. 

In regard to the Pope’s also insinuated description of an ideological synod, Monsignor Bätzing said he didn’t understand what he meant. “To call that now an ideological debate , where the Holy Spirit comes out, so to speak, flying from the room, what is his point?” 

Addressing the subject of the letter of the Vatican Secretary of State, of the President of the Dicastery for Bishops and of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, about not going forward with a superstructure of government made up of lay people and Bishops for the whole of Germany, Monsignor Bätzing said that “they no longer want to see the systemic causes, the antecedents and the factors of this scandal” (that of the abuses).

And he also said that the Pope understands something by Synod and they another. “The Pope understands it as a wide recollection of impulses from all the corners of the Church; then the Bishops discuss it more specifically and, at the end, there is a man at the apex  that takes the decision. I don’t think that that is the sort of sustainable synodality in the 21st century,” adding that “the alternative option is that we stay with this model and we simply add to it important tasks that are feasible in terms of ecclesiastical law.”

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Pope on the Liturgy: Calls for Formation in Seminaries, Silence before Mass and Laments Disastrous Homilies https://zenit.org/2023/01/28/pope-on-the-liturgy-calls-for-formation-in-seminaries-silence-before-mass-and-laments-disastrous-homilies/ Sat, 28 Jan 2023 19:53:21 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=208739 Address to the participants in the course “Living Liturgical Action Fully”.

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 27.01.2023).- On Friday, January 20, Pope Francis received in audience — in the Vatican’s Consistory Hall –, the participants in the course “Living Liturgical Action Fully,” organized by the Pontifical Saint Anselm Institute, an Ecclesiastical University in Rome, from January 16-20. As the Holy Father arrived late at the meeting, the first thing he did was to apologize for the delay.

Here is the Pontiff’ address with headers and phrases in bold added by ZENIT.

* * *

I thank the Father Abbot Primate for his words; I greet the Magnificent Rector and the Dean of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute, the professors and the students; and I greet the Cardinal Prefect [of the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments] and the Monsignor Secretary — thank you for being here. I am pleased to welcome you and I have appreciated the initiative of organizing a formative itinerary addressed to those who prepare and guide the prayer of diocesan communities, in communion with the Bishops and in the service of the dioceses.

This course, which is now coming to an end, is in keeping with the indications of the Apostolic Letter Desiderio Desideravi on liturgical formation. Indeed, the conduct of celebrations demands preparation and commitment. We Bishops, in our ministry, are well aware of this, because we need collaboration on the part of those who prepare the liturgies and who help us fulfil our mandate of presiding over the prayer of the holy people. This service of yours to the liturgy requires, besides in-depth knowledge, a profound pastoral awareness. I rejoice to see that once again you are renewing your commitment to the study of the liturgy. As Saint Paul VI said, it is the “primary source of that divine exchange in which the life of God is communicated to us; it is the first school of our soul” (Allocution for the closing of the Second Session of Vatican Council II, December 4, 1963). Therefore, the liturgy cannot be fully possessed, it is not learned like notions, crafts, human skills. It is the primary art of the Church, that which constitutes and characterizes her.

I would like to entrust you with some insights for this service of yours, which is set within the context of the implementation of the liturgical reform.

[The Ministry of the Master of Celebrations Is a Diakonia]

Today we no longer talk about the “Master of Ceremonies,” that is, the one who takes care of “sacred ceremonies”; rather, the Liturgical Books refer to the Master of Celebrations. And the Master teaches you the liturgy when he guides you in the encounter with the Paschal Mystery of Christ; at the same time he must arrange everything so that the liturgy shines with decorum, simplicity and order (cf. Caeremoniale Episcoporum, 34). The Master’s ministry is a diakonia; he collaborates with the Bishop in the service of the community. This is the way every Bishop engages a Master, who acts discreetly, diligently, not putting the rite before what it expresses, but helping to grasp its meaning and spirit, emphasizing through his actions that the centre is the crucified and risen Christ.

Especially in the Cathedral, the director of episcopal celebrations coordinates, in collaboration with the Bishop, all those who exercise a ministry during the liturgical action, so as to foster the fruitful participation of the People of God. One of the cardinal principles of Vatican II returns here: we must always keep the good of the communities, the pastoral care of the faithful (cf. ibid., 34) before our eyes, to lead the people to Christ and Christ to the people. It is the primary objective, which must be in first place also when you prepare and guide the celebrations. If we neglect this, we will have beautiful rites, but without strength, without flavour, without meaning, because they do not touch the heart and the existence of the People of God. And this happens when it is not the Bishop, the priest, who presides de facto, but the master of ceremonies, and when this role slips towards the Master of Ceremonies, it all ends

The presider is the one who presides, not the Master of Ceremonies. On the contrary, the more hidden the Master of Ceremonies is, the better, The less he is seen, the better, but he coordinates it all. It is Christ who stirs the heart; it is the encounter with Him that attracts the Spirit. “A celebration that does not evangelize is not authentic” (Desderio Desideravi, 37). It is a “ballet,” a beautiful ballet, aesthetic, beautiful, but it is not an authentic celebration.

[Vatican Council II and The Liturgy]

One of the aims of the Council was to accompany the faithful in recovering the capacity to live liturgical action fully and to be astonished at what happens in the celebration under our very eyes (cf.Desiderio Desideravi, 31). Note that it does not speak about aesthetic joy, for example, or the aesthetic sense, no, but rather wonder. Wonder is different to aesthetic pleasure: it is the encounter with God. Only the encounter with the Lord gives you wonder. How can this objective be achieved? The answer is already found in Sacrosanctum Concilium. In paragraph 14, it recommends the formation of the faithful, but — the Constitution says — “it would be futile to entertain any hopes of realizing thus unless the pastors themselves, in the first place, become thoroughly imbued with the spirit and power of the liturgy, and undertake to give instruction about it. A prime need, therefore, is that attention be directed, first of all, to the liturgical instruction of the clergy.” Therefore, the Master himself first grows in the school of the liturgy and participates in the pastoral mission of forming the clergy and the faithful.

One of the most complex aspects of the reform is its practical implementation, or rather the way in which what was established by the Council Fathers is translated into daily life. And among the primary responsibilities of practical implementation there is indeed the Master, who alongside the Director of the Office for Liturgical Pastoral Ministry accompanies the dioceses, the communities, the priests and other ministers in implementing the celebratory praxis indicated by the Council. This is done primarily by celebrating. How did we learn how to serve Mass as children? By watching our older friends do it. It is that formation from the liturgy that I wrote about in Desiderio Desideravi. Decorum, simplicity and order are achieved when everyone, gradually throughout the course of the years, attending the rite, celebrating it, living it, understand what they must do. Of course, as in a large orchestra, each person must know their own part, the movements, the gestures, the texts they pronounce or sing; then the liturgy can be a symphony of praise, a symphony learned by the lex orandi of the Church.

Schools of liturgical practice are being established at Cathedrals. This is a good initiative. One reflects “mystagogically” on what is celebrated. The celebratory style is evaluated, to consider progress and aspects to be corrected. I encourage you to help seminary Superiors to preside in the best way possible, to take care of proclamation, gestures, signs, so that future priests, along with the study of Liturgical Theology, learn how to celebrate well: and this is the style of presiding. One learns by watching daily a priest who knows how to preside, how to celebrate, because he lives the liturgy and, when he celebrates, he prays. I urge you to also help those in charge of the ministries to prepare the liturgy of the parishes by starting small schools of liturgical formation, which combine fraternity, catechesis, mystagogy and celebratory praxis.

When the head of celebrations accompanies the Bishop in a parish, it is good to highlight the celebratory style that is lived there. It is pointless to put on a nice “parade” when the Bishop is there, and then to return to how it was before. Your task is not to arrange the rite for one day, but to propose a liturgy that is imitable, with those adaptations that the community can embrace in order to grow in the liturgical life. In this way, gradually, the celebratory style of the diocese grows. Indeed, going to the parishes and saying nothing in the face of liturgies that are a little slapdash, neglected, badly prepared, means not helping the communities, not accompanying them. Instead, delicately, with a fraternal spirit, it is good to help pastors reflect on the liturgy, to prepare them with the faithful. In so doing, the Master of Celebrations must use great pastoral wisdom: if he is in the midst of the people he will understand immediately and know well how to accompany his brethren, how to suggest to communities what is suitable and achievable, and what steps are necessary to rediscover the beauty of the liturgy and of celebrating together.

And finally, I urge you to cultivate silence. In this age, we talk, we talk… Silence. Especially before the celebrations — a moment that is at times taken for a social gathering. We talk: “Ah, how are you? Is everything going well? Why not?” Silence helps the assembly and concelebrants to concentrate on what is to be done. Often sacristies are noisy before and after celebrations, but silence opens and prepares for the mystery: it is silene that enables you to prepare for the mystery, it permits its assimilation, and lets the echo of the Word that is listened to resound. Fraternity is beautiful; greeting one another is beautiful, but it is the encounter with Jesus that gives meaning to our gathering, to our coming together. We must rediscover and cherish silence!

I want to emphasize this a great deal. And here I will say something that is linked to silence, but for priests. Please, the homilies: they are a disaster. At times I hear someone: “Yes, I went to Mass in that parish… yes, a good lesson of philosophy, forty, forty-five minutes… Eight, ten, no more! And always a thought, a sentiment and an image. Let people take something home with them. In Evangelii Gaudium  I wanted to emphasize this. And I said it many times, because it is something that we end up not understanding: the homily is not a conference, it is a sacramental. The Lutherans say that it is a sacrament, it is a sacramental — I think it is the Lutherans — it is a sacramental, not a conference. It is prepared in prayer, it is prepared with an apostolic spirit. Please, the homilies, which are a disaster in general.

Dear friends, before bidding you farewell, I would like once more to express my encouragement for what you do in the service of the implementation of the reform that the Council Fathers entrusted to us. Let us all strive to continue the good work that was initiated. Let us help communities to live the liturgy, to let themselves be shaped by it, so — as the Scripture says — “let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires take the water of life without price” (Revelation 22:17). Let us offer to everyone the fresh water that springs abundantly from the liturgy of the Church.

I wish you good work, and I bless you from my heart. And please, I ask you to pray for me, don’t forget. Thank you!

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Pope’s Inspired Reflections on Marriage at the Start of 2023 https://zenit.org/2023/01/28/popes-inspired-reflections-on-marriage-at-the-start-of-2023/ Sat, 28 Jan 2023 19:48:57 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=208733 Address to the Tribunal of the Roman Rota on the occasion of the Opening of the Judicial Year.

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 27.01.2023).- On the occasion of the Opening of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota’s Judicial Year, Pope Francis received in audience in the Apostolic Palace the judges, members and collaborators of the Tribunal and delivered the  address below. At the beginning of the meeting, Monsignor Alejandro Arellano Cedillo, the Tribunal’s Dean, spoke a few words. 

Here is the Pontiff’s address in English with phrases in bold added by ZENIT. 

* * *

I thank the Dean for his kind words, and I cordially greet you and all those who perform functions in the administration of justice at the Apostolic Tribunal of the Roman Rota. I reiterate my appreciation for your work in the service of the Church and of the faithful, especially in the sphere of cases regarding marriage. You do a great deal of good with this!

Today I would like to share with you some reflections on marriage, because in the Church and in the world, there is a strong need to rediscover the meaning and value of the conjugal union between man and woman on which the family is based. Indeed, an aspect, certainly not secondary, of the crisis that is affecting many families is the practical ignorance, personal and collective, regarding marriage.

The Church received from her Lord the mission of proclaiming the Good News and it also illuminates and supports that “great mystery” which is conjugal and family love. The Church as a whole can be said to be a big family, and in a very particular way, through the life of those who form a domestic church, she receives and transmits the light of Christ and His Gospel in the family sphere. “Following Christ who ‘came’ into the world ‘to serve’ (Matthew 20:28), the Church considers serving the family to be one of her essential duties. In this sense both man and the family constitute ‘the way of the Church’” (Saint John Paul II, Letter to Families, February 2, 1994, 2).

The Gospel of the family recalls the divine plan of the creation of man and women, that is the “beginning”, according to the word of Jesus: “Have you not read that He who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one’? So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:4-6). And this being one flesh is part of the divine plan of redemption. Saint Paul writes: “This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church!” (Ephesians 5:32). And Saint John Paul II comments: “Christ renews the first plan that the Creator inscribed in the hearts of man and woman, and in the celebration of the Sacrament of Matrimony offers a ‘new heart’: thus the couples are not only able to overcome ‘hardness of heart’ (Matthew 19:8), but also and above all they are able to share the full and definitive love of Christ, the new and eternal Covenant made flesh” (Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, November 22, 1981, 20).

Marriage according to Christian Revelation is not a ceremony or a social event, no; it is neither a formality nor an abstract ideal: it is a reality with its own precise consistency, not “a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, November 24, 2013, 66).

We might ask ourselves: how is it possible for there to be such an involving union between a man and a woman, a union that is faithful and everlasting, from which a new family is born? How is this possible, taking into account the limits and fragility of human beings? We must ask ourselves these questions and allow ourselves to wonder at the reality of marriage.

Jesus gives a simple yet at the same time profound answer: “What God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:6). “God Himself is the author of matrimony,” as Vatican Council II affirms (cf. Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 48), and this can be understood as referring to every single conjugal union. Indeed, spouses give life to their union, with free consent, but only the Holy Spirit has the power to make a man and woman a sole existence. Moreover, “the Saviour of men and the Spouse of the Church comes into the lives of married Christians through the Sacrament of Matrimony” (ibid., 48). All this leads us to recognize that every true marriage, even non-sacramental, is a gift of God to the spouses. Matrimony is always a gift! Conjugal fidelity rests on divine fidelity; conjugal fruitfulness is based on divine fruitfulness. Man and woman are called to accept this gift and freely correspond to it with the reciprocal gift of self.

This beautiful vision may seem utopian, inasmuch as it does not seem to take human frailty, the inconstancy of love, into account. Indissolubility is often conceived of as an ideal, and the mindset according to which marriage lasts as long as there is love tends to prevail. It lasts as long as there is love. But which love is it? Here too there is often unawareness of true conjugal love, reduced to the sentimental level or to mere selfish satisfactions. Instead, matrimonial love is inseparable from marriage itself, in which human love, fragile and limited, meets with divine love, always faithful and merciful. I wonder: can there be a “dutiful” love? The answer is found in the commandment on love, as Christ said: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34). I want to emphasize this latter: hidden crises are not resolved in concealment, but in mutual forgiveness.

We can apply this commandment to conjugal love, also a gift from God. This commandment can be fulfilled because it is He Himself who supports spouses with His grace: “as I have loved you, love one another.” It is a gift entrusted to their freedom, with its limits and its lapses, so that the love between husband and wife needs continual purification and maturation, mutual understanding and forgiveness.

Marriage should not be idealized, as though it existed only where there are no problems. God’s plan, being placed in our hands, is always imperfectly realized, and yet “the Lord’s presence dwells in real and concrete families, with all their daily troubles and struggles, joys and hopes. Living in a family makes it hard for us to feign or lie; we cannot hide behind a mask. If that authenticity is inspired by love, then the Lord reigns there, with His joy and His peace. The spirituality of family love is made up of thousands of real gestures, concrete gestures. In that variety of gifts and encounters which deepen communion, God has His dwelling place. This mutual concern ‘brings together the human and the divine’, for it is filled with the love of God. In the end, marital spirituality is a spirituality of the bond, in which divine love dwells” (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, March19, 2016, 315).

The permanent reality of marriage needs to be rediscovered, and it is marriage as a bond. This word is at times regarded with suspicion, as if it were an external imposition, a burden, a “tether” in opposition to the authenticity and freedom of love. If instead the bond is understood precisely as a bond of love, then it reveals itself as the core of marriage, as a divine gift that is the source of true freedom and which preserves matrimonial life. In this sense, “the pastoral care of engaged and married couples should be centred on the marriage bond, assisting couples not only to deepen their love but also to overcome problems and difficulties. This involves not only helping them to accept the Church’s teaching and to have recourse to her valuable resources, but also offering practical programmes, sound advice, proven strategies and psychological guidance” (ibid., 211).

Dear brothers and sisters, we have highlighted that marriage, a gift from God, is not an ideal or a formality, but marriage, a gift from God, is a reality with its own precise consistency

Now I would like to underline that it is a good! An extraordinary good, a good of extraordinary value for all: for spouses themselves, for their children, for all the families with whom they enter into relations, for the entire Church, for all humanity. It is a good that is diffusive, that attracts young people to joyfully respond to the vocation of marriage, that continually comforts and revives spouses, that bears many and various fruits in ecclesial communion and civil society.

In the Christian economy of salvation, marriage constitutes first and foremost the way to the holiness of the spouses themselves, a holiness lived out in the daily routine of life: this is an essential aspect of the Gospel of the family. It is significant that the Church is today proposing some married couples as examples of holiness; and I am also thinking of the countless spouses who sanctify themselves and edify the Church with what I have called the “holiness next door” (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate, March 19, 2018, 4-6).

Among the many challenges that affect family pastoral care in its response to the problems, wounds and sufferings of each person, I now think of married couples in crisis. The Church, both the pastors and the other faithful, accompanies them with love and hope, seeking to support them. The Church’s pastoral response seeks to transmit vitally the Gospel of the family. In this sense, a fundamental resource for facing and overcoming crises is to renew awareness of the gift received in the Sacrament of Marriage, an irrevocable gift, a source of grace on which we can always count. In the complexity of concrete situations, which sometimes require the collaboration of the human sciences, this light on one’s marriage is an essential part of the journey of reconciliation. Thus fragility, which always remains and also accompanies conjugal life, will not lead to rupture, thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us always nourish in ourselves the spirit of thankfulness and gratitude to the Lord for His gifts; and in this way we will also be able to help others nourish it in the different situations of their lives. May Our Lady, faithful Virgin and Mother of Divine Grace, obtain this for us. I invoke the gifts of the Holy Spirit upon your service to the truth of marriage. With all my heart I bless you. And I ask you please to pray for me. Thank you.

Translation of the Italian original by the Holy See


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Pope’s Harsh and Scathing Words: “The German Experience Doesn’t Help. It’s Not a Synod or a Serious Synodal Path https://zenit.org/2023/01/28/popes-harsh-and-scathing-words-the-german-experience-doesnt-help-its-not-a-synod-or-a-serious-synodal-path/ Sat, 28 Jan 2023 19:41:16 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=208728 “The danger is that something very, very ideological is filtered. And when ideology gets into ecclesial processes, the Holy Spirit goes home because ideology [suffocates] the Holy Spirit,” said the Pontiff.

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 28.01.2023).- Since the beginning of the so-called “German Synodal Path,” the Holy Father avoided pronouncing himself on it, and when he was asked about it, he  referred to a letter that he himself wrote and sent to the German Bishops.

In the Pope’s interview with AP last January 25, the Holy Father was asked about the German situation. The journalist addressed the question in the context of — according to her — an alleged “strong resistance to the whole ‘Synodal] process because [people] see what is happening in Germany, where same sex couples are blessed, etc. And here question was “How to reconcile the need to develop, listen and accompany with a Vatican that often is the one that also puts on the brakes?”

Pope Francis answered the question directly and, contrary to just sending the letter previously alluded to, as happened in the past, he said: “The German experience doesn’t help, because it’s not a Synod, a Synodal Path; it’s a so-called synodal path, but not of the totality of the People of God, but carried out by élites and, about this, I take care to speak much, but I already wrote a letter that took me a month to write. I wrote it only and, when I’m asked [about this], I say “go back to the letter.’”

As part of the answer he Pontiff recalled the meeting in Rome between the German Bishops and some Cardinals of the Roman Curia, where the topic of the German Synodal Path was addressed, “Then I had a meeting with them here and now the Congregation for Bishops, the Doctrine of the Faith and the State Secretariat have made a point about three or four things that came up in the dialogue here. The Synodal Path in Germany is starting from people’s dioceses. This was somewhat elitist and doesn’t have the procedural consensus of a Synod as such. The Holy Father added that “in any case, there is dialogue and dialogue must never be broken in order to help, no? But the German Synodal experience is beginning or has begun in all the Bishoprics, as all are, with the People of God, and it goes forward. The danger here is that something very, very ideological is filtered . And when ideology gets into ecclesial processes, the Holy Spirit goes home because ideology [suffocates] the Holy Spirit. In any case, where there is dialogue, they have good will, they don’t have bad will. It’s a method that is, perhaps, very efficient. How curious.” 

Finally, referring to things that part of the German Episcopate says it wishes to resolve, Pope Francis said: “but you resolve this on the basis of what criterion? On the basis of your ecclesial experience, taking from the Tradition of the Apostles and translated it to today, or on the basis of sociological data? The problem lies there — the underlying problem. However, one must have patience, dialogue, and accompany these people in their real Synodal Path and help this more elitist Path so that in no way it ends badly, but that it is also integrated in the Church. [We must] always try to unite.”

Just two days before the interview, the German Episcopate announced officially on its Web page that it would go ahead with an initiative previously prohibited by the Vatican. 

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USA: student may wear previously banned masks with “Jesus Loves Me” sign https://zenit.org/2023/01/26/usa-student-may-wear-previously-banned-masks-with-jesus-loves-me-sign/ Thu, 26 Jan 2023 15:22:33 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=208725 Mississippi school district discards illegal policy, allows 3rd-grader to wear ‘Jesus Loves Me’ face mask. ADF lawsuit prompts enactment of new policy that means students can’t be singled out, censored.

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(ZENIT News / Jackson, Mississippi, 01.26.2023).- The Simpson County School District has agreed to change an unconstitutional policy that prohibited a 3rd-grade student from wearing a face mask with the phrase “Jesus Loves Me” on it. As part of a settlement agreement ending a federal lawsuit, which Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed on behalf of the student and her parents, schools within the district will respect students’ freedom of expression regardless of religious viewpoint, as the First Amendment requires.

The student, Lydia Booth, wished to peacefully share her Christian views with her schoolmates by wearing her “Jesus Loves Me” face mask, but the principal at her school in the community of Pinola required her to remove and replace it even though she had previously worn the mask, without disruption or incident. Two days later, administrators announced a districtwide policy that prohibits messages on masks that are “political, religious, sexual or inappropriate symbols, gestures or statements that may be offensive, disruptive or deemed distractive to the school environment.” As a result of the lawsuit, filed in November 2020, the district has changed its policies to be viewpoint-neutral for political and religious expression.

“Public schools have no business discriminating against a 9-year old for her religious expression,” said ADF Legal Counsel Michael Ross. “Other students within the school district have freely worn masks with the logos of local sports teams or even the words ‘Black Lives Matter.’ Lydia deserves and will now have an equal opportunity to peacefully express her beliefs.”

Under the settlement agreement, Simpson County School District will retract its previous restriction on masks that have “political” or “religious” content and will allow Lydia to wear her “Jesus Loves Me” face mask to school if she chooses to do so.

“No student should be singled out for peacefully expressing her religious beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “Today’s students will be tomorrow’s legislators, judges, educators, and voters. That’s why it’s so important that public schools demonstrate the First Amendment values they are supposed to be teaching to students.”

In light of the settlement, ADF attorneys filed a stipulation of dismissal Wednesday of L.B. v. Simpson County School District with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi on behalf of the student and her parents.

Sharkey Burke, one of more than 4,700 attorneys in the ADF Attorney Network, served as local counsel in the lawsuit.

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New Iraq convent is a milestone in Christians’ return https://zenit.org/2023/01/26/new-iraq-convent-is-a-milestone-in-christians-return/ Thu, 26 Jan 2023 14:39:18 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=208722 The Dominican Sisters returned in 2017 and began ministering to the families which had come back to Batnaya. Initially they lived in a house in nearby Telskuf provided to the order by a resident.

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(ZENIT News / Nineveh, Iraq, 01.26.2023).- A Catholic charity has hailed the re-opening of a convent in a village devastated by extremists as a sign that Christianity can once more flourish in Iraq’s Nineveh Plains.

Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) helped rebuild the Dominican Sisters’ new convent and kindergarten in Batnaya which replaces buildings razed by Daesh (ISIS) during the jihadists’ occupation of the village from 2014 to 2016.

ACN (UK) national director Dr Caroline Hull, who visited parts of the Nineveh Plains seized by Daesh, said the new convent was a sign of new life in a town where militants had smashed altars, decapitated statues and daubed anti-Christian messages on church walls.

Dr Hull said: “Visiting Iraq, I saw the suffering of those forced out of their villages by armed extremists – which is why it is vital that we continue to help those who want to return to their villages to do so.”

“Batnaya became a ghost town after Daesh left and some wondered if it would ever thrive again – but the Sisters’ new convent is a sign that Christianity can flourish and have a future in the Nineveh Plains.”

Speaking at the consecration of the new convent last month, Chaldean Archbishop Paul Thabet of Alqosh announced it would give life and hope to the local Christian community.

He said: “The presence of the nuns in this village is a sign of encouragement for all the people of the village to return too…

“We Christians in Iraq have a deep wound, this wound must be healed by faith”.

He added: “We must have faith to rebuild the village, and you are a sign of that faith.”

Appealing for Christians who had left the village to return, Archbishop Thabet said: “Your name and identity are in Batnaya and your roots are in Batnaya, not in the places of emigration.”

Around 5,000 – mostly Chaldean Catholics – fled the village in 2014. Some went to IDP camps, while others emigrated.

ACN backed projects to help rebuild key buildings in the Christian-majority village, which was on the frontline of fighting between Daesh and coalition forces, included St Kyriakos’s Chaldean Catholic Church, which re-opened last Easter.

Widespread booby-trapping and an extensive underground tunnel system created by Daesh delayed the start of reconstruction work in Batnaya.

The Dominican Sisters returned in 2017 and began ministering to the families which had come back to Batnaya. Initially they lived in a house in nearby Telskuf provided to the order by a resident.

Stressing the importance of the Sisters’ witness, at the consecration ceremony on 18th December, Archbishop Thabet continued: “Consecration is a call through which God builds up the Kingdom of Heaven.

“Wherever monastics come, they can change the desert into a paradise, and the presence of the nuns and their coming to the stricken and demolished village is a sign of great reconstruction.

“We are not only rebuilding stones, we are restoring humanity.”

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Jesus Teacher of Proclamation: Pope Highlights Five Elements of Proclamation https://zenit.org/2023/01/26/jesus-teacher-of-proclamation-pope-highlights-five-elements-of-proclamation/ Thu, 26 Jan 2023 14:36:18 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=208711 The Holy Father’s General Audience on Wednesday, January 25, on “Jesus: Unsurpassable Model of Proclamation.”

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 25.01.2023).- On Wednesday, January 25, Pope Francis held his third catechesis on apostolic zeal, in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall. At the end of the Audience, he recalled the World Day of the Holocaust, which will be observed on January 27.

Here is his catechesis in English, translated from the Italian original by the Holy See, and with phrases in bold added by ZENIT. 

* * *

Last Wednesday we reflected on Jesus model of proclamation, on His pastoral heart always reaching out to others. Today we look to Him as a teacher of proclamation. Let us be guided by the episode in which He preaches in the synagogue of His village, Nazareth. Jesus reads a passage from the prophet Isaiah (cf. 61:1-2) and then surprises everyone with a very short “sermon” of just one sentence, just one sentence. And He speaks thus, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21). 

This was Jesus’ sermon: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” This means that for Jesus that prophetic passage contains the essence of what He wants to say about Himself. So, whenever we talk about Jesus, we should go back to that first announcement of His. Let us see, then, what this first announcement consists of. Five essential elements can be identified.

[First Element of Proclamation: Joy]

The first element is joy. Jesus proclaims, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; […] He has anointed Me to preach Good News to the poor” (v. 18), that is, a proclamation of gladness, of joy. Good News: one cannot speak of Jesus without joy, because faith is a wonderful love story to be shared. Bearing witness to Jesus, doing something for others in His name, is like saying “between the lines” of one’s life,  that one has received so beautiful a gift that no words suffice to express it

Instead, when joy is lacking, the Gospel does not come through, because — as the word themselves suggests, it’s the very meaning of the word — is Good News, and “Gospel” means “Good News,” a proclamation of joy. A sad Christian can talk about beautiful things, but it is all in vain if the news he conveys is not joyful. A thinker once said, “A Christian who is sad is a sad Christian.” Don’t forget this.

[Second Element of Proclamation: Deliverance]

We come to the second aspect: deliverance. Jesus says He was sent “to proclaim release to the captives” (ibid.). This means that one who proclaims God cannot proselytize, no, cannot pressure others, no, but relieve them: not impose burdens, but take them away; bearing peace, not bearing guilt. Of course, following Jesus involves asceticism, involves sacrifices; after all, if every good thing requires these things, how much more the decisive reality of life! However, those who witness to Christ show the beauty of the goal rather than the toil of the journey. We may have happened to tell someone about a beautiful trip we took: for example, we would have spoken about the beauty of the places, what we saw and experienced, not about the time to get there and the queues at the airport, no! So, any announcement worthy of the Redeemer must communicate liberation. Like that of Jesus. Today there is joy, because I have come to liberate.

[Third Element of Proclamation: Light]

The third aspect: light. Jesus says He came to bring “sight to the blind” (ibid.). It is striking that throughout the Bible, before Christ, the healing of a blind man never appears, never. It was indeed a promised sign that would come with the Messiah. But here it is not just about physical sight, but a light that makes one see life in a new way. There is a “coming into the light,” a rebirth that happens only with Jesus. If we think about it, that is how Christian life began for us: with Baptism, which in ancient times was called precisely “enlightenment.” And what light does Jesus give us? He brings us the light of sonship: He is the beloved Son of the Father, living forever; with Him we too are children of God loved forever, despite our mistakes and faults. So life is no longer a blind advance toward nothingness, no; it is not a matter of fate or luck, no. It is not something that depends on chance or the stars, no, or even on health or finances, no. Life depends on love, on the love of the Father, Who cares for us, His beloved children. How wonderful to share this light with others! Has it occurred to you that the life of each of us — my life, your life, our life — is an act of love? And an invitation to love? This is wonderful! But so many times we forget this, in the face of difficulties, in the face of bad news, even in the face of — and this is bad — worldliness, the worldly way of life.

[Fourth Element of Proclamation: Healing]

The fourth aspect of the proclamation: healing. Jesus says He came “to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (ibid.). The oppressed are those who feel crushed by something that happens: sickness, labours, burdens on the heart, guilt, mistakes, vices, sins… Oppressed by this. Let us think of the sense of guilt, for example. How many of us have suffered this? We think a little bit about the sense of guilt for this or that….  What is oppressing us above all is precisely that evil that no medicine or human remedy can heal: sin. And if someone has a sense of guilt for something they have done, and that feels bad…. But the Good News is that with Jesus, this ancient evil, sin, which seems invincible, no longer has the last word.

I can sin because I am weak. Each of us can do it, but that is not the last word. The last word is Jesus’ outstretched hand that lifts you up from sin. “And Father, when does He do this? Once?” No. “Twice?” No. “Three times?” No. Always. Whenever you are sick, the Lord always has His hand outstretched. Only He wants us (to) hold on and let Him carry you. The Good News is that with Jesus this ancient evil no longer has the last word: the last word is Jesus’ outstretched hand that carries you forward. Jesus heals us from sin, always. And how much do I have to pay for this healing? Nothing. He heals us always and gratuitously.

He invites those who “labour and are heavy laden”  — He says it in the Gospel — He invites them to come to Him (cf. Matthew 11:28). And so to accompany someone to an encounter with Jesus is to bring them to the doctor of the heart, Who lifts up life. That is to say, “Brother, sister, I don’t have answers to so many of your problems, but Jesus knows you, Jesus loves you and can heal and soothe your heart. Go and leave them with Jesus.”

Those who carry burdens need a caress for the past. So many times we hear, “But I would need to heal my past … I need a caress for that past that weighs so heavily on me …”  He needs forgiveness. And those who believe in Jesus have just that to give to others: the power of forgiveness, which frees the soul from all debt. Brothers, sisters, do not forget: God forgets everything. How so? Yes, He forgets all our sins. That He forgets. That’s why He has no memory. God forgives everything because He forgets our sins. We only have to draw near to the Lord and He forgives us everything. Only He wants us to draw near to the Lord and He forgives us everything. Think of something from the Gospel, from the one who began to speak, “Lord I have sinned!” That son… And the father puts his hand on his mouth. “No, it’s okay, it’s nothing…” He doesn’t let him finish… And that’s good. Jesus is waiting for us to forgive us, to restore us. And how often? Once? Twice? No. Always. “But Father, I do the same things always …” And He will always do His same thing! Forgiving you, embracing you. Please, let us not distrust this. This is the way to love the Lord. Those who carry burdens and need a caress for the past need forgiveness, and Jesus does that. And that’s what Jesus gives: to free the soul from all debt. In the Bible it talks about a year when one was freed from the burden of debt: the Jubilee, the year of grace. As if it were the ultimate point of the proclamation.

In fact, Jesus says he came “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:19). It was not a scheduled jubilee, like the ones we have now, where everything is planned and you think about how to do it and how not to do it. No. But with Christ the grace that makes life new always arrives and amazes. Christ is the Jubilee of every day, every hour, drawing you near, to caress you, to forgive you. And the proclamation of Jesus must always bring the amazement of grace

This amazement… “No, I can’t believe it! I have been forgiven.” But this is how great our God is. Because it is not we who do great things, but rather the grace of the Lord who, even through us, accomplishes unexpected things. And these are the surprises of God. God is the Master of surprises. He always surprises us, is always waiting, waits for us. We arrive, and He has been expecting us. Always. The Gospel comes with a sense of wonder and newness that has a name: Jesus.

May He help us to proclaim it as He desires, communicating joy, deliverance, light, healing, and wonder. This is how one communicates about Jesus.

[Fifth Element of Proclamation: Addressed to the Poor]

The last thing: This Good News, which the Gospel says is addressed “to the poor” (v. 18). We often forget about them, yet they are the recipients explicitly mentioned, because they are God’s beloved. Let us remember them, and let us remember that, in order to welcome the Lord, each of us must make himself or herself “poor within.” It’s not sufficient like this, no: [you have to be] “poor within.” With that poverty that makes one say … “Lord, I am in need, I am in need of forgiveness, I am in need of help, I am in need of strength. This poverty that we all have: making oneself poor interiorly. You have to overcome any pretense of self-sufficiency in order to understand yourself to be in need of grace, and to always be in need of Him. If someone tells me, “Father, what is the shortest way to encounter Jesus?” Be needy. Be needy for grace, needy for forgiveness, be needy for joy. And He will draw near to you. Thank you.

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Priest: The world has abandoned our terrorised people https://zenit.org/2023/01/26/priest-the-world-has-abandoned-our-terrorised-people/ Thu, 26 Jan 2023 14:35:08 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=208718 The priest’s comments come after attackers armed with improvised explosives struck on 15th January at a Protestant church in Kasindi, near the border with Uganda.

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(ZENIT News / North Kivu, 01.26.2023).- A Senior Catholic priest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has denounced what he describes as international indifference in the face of acts of terror sweeping parts of the country.

Father Marcelo Oliveira, a Combonian missionary priest responsible for North Kivu eastern province, spoke to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) days after an attack on a church in Kasindi, a town in the region. “Terror is widespread”, Father Oliveira told ACN.

Criticising what he described as a lack of international attention to poor and defenceless communities, Father Oliveira issued a desperate cry for help.

He said: “It’s one village here today, another there tomorrow, and all this in silence. And this is what gets to us, as missionaries, seeing the silence of the international community, the deafening silence, while human lives are massacred.”

Widespread fear among DR Congo’s population was also noted by Father Oliveira, especially in areas affected by various armed militias, whose presence over the past few years has caused huge security problems in Africa’s second-largest country.

He said: “Attacks are common in this area of North Kivu…and the rebels have the habit of attacking villages and spreading terror among the people, who are then forced to flee and hide in the forest until the militias leave again.”

Father Oliveira added: “Their goal is to get people to run, so that they can take part of their land, which is full of natural resources.”

He said that “terror is everywhere” in eastern DR Congo.

The priest’s comments come after attackers armed with improvised explosives struck on 15th January at a Protestant church in Kasindi, near the border with Uganda.

At least 15 people died and dozens were wounded after a bomb, which had been placed in the middle of the congregation, was detonated.

The Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) insurgent group, which claimed responsibility, reportedly chose to carry out the attack on a Sunday, as the church was full and celebrating baptisms.

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Pope Francis Says That as a Child He Served A Ukrainian Priest Before Religious Leaders of That Country https://zenit.org/2023/01/26/pope-francis-says-that-as-a-child-he-served-a-ukrainian-priest-before-religious-leaders-of-that-country/ Thu, 26 Jan 2023 14:16:20 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=208707 A delegation of the Pan-Ukrainian Council of Churches and of Religious Organizations went to the Vatican where they were received in private audience by the Pope.

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 25.01.2023).- On Wednesday morning, January 25, minutes before initiating the General Audience in Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father received a Delegation of the Pan-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations in a private audience. Because of the limited time available, he preferred to hand to them the address he had prepared and address them spontaneously. “I would like to listen to you, but we are slaves to the limitations of time, because at five to nine I have to begin the General Audience. I would like to listen to each one of you, but you can see the number, we cannot do it. So I ask you, please, to be brief, so that at five to nine I can be there. I am sorry, I would stay all morning with you but we too are slaves to time,” he said to them. 

The group was introduced by Orthodox Bishop Marcos. Then the Pontiff addressed them through a translator and, handing them the prepared address, but not pronounced, he said: “What you have un your hands is a text that brings together what has stirred my heart in these months of war, seeing the images of this immense tragedy. I am in dialogue with the representatives of the Ukrainian people and this enables me to feel I am with you, and to pray. I thank you for your unity: this, for me, is something great, like the children of a family – one here, another there, another over there, but when the mother is sick, they all come together. It is not so much about Jewish Ukraine, Christian Ukraine, Orthodox Ukraine, Catholic Ukraine, Islamic Ukraine . . . , no, it is about Ukraine, “Mother” Ukraine, and all together! And this shows the fabric of your race. It is an example in the face of the superficiality seen in our culture today. 

Explaining that he would not deliver the prepared speech, he said: “I had prepared an address but time cuts us short, and so, if you are not offended, I will hand it to you for it to be distributed. I am close to you. Since <I> was a child — he knows the story — a priest, Father Stefano, he had been there and I learned to serve Mass in Ukrainian, when I was eleven years old, and from that moment my warmth towards Ukraine grew. It is an old warmth that has grown and that brings me closer to you. Have no doubt, I pray for you! I hold you in my heart and ask God to have pity on this courageous populace. Thank you for your visit, thank you! I would like to greet you before leaving, one by one. Only, before we finish, I would ask you to pray, in silence, each person in his or her own way, in your own way, in silence but together for Mother Ukraine.” 

At the end of the meeting, the Pope went to Paul VI Hall for the General Audience. 

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