ZENIT – English https://zenit.org The World Seen From Rome Wed, 31 May 2023 03:06:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4.13 https://zenit.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/8049a698-cropped-dc1b6d35-favicon_1.png ZENIT – English https://zenit.org 32 32 Commission for the protection of minors signs agreement with a second dicastery of the Roman Curia https://zenit.org/2023/05/30/commission-for-the-protection-of-minors-signs-agreement-with-a-second-dicastery-of-the-roman-curia/ Tue, 30 May 2023 03:03:27 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=210192 The Agreement, signed on behalf of the Dicastery by the Prefect Cardinal Lazarus You Heung-Sik and by the Commission President, Cardinal Sean O’ Malley OFM Cap., identified three main areas of shared interest.

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 05.30.2023).- On Friday May 26th, the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and  the Dicastery for Clergy signed An Agreement on Collaboration and Exchange of  Information, the second such agreement between the Commission and a Curial institution  since Pope Francis’ reform of the Roman Curia with the Apostolic Constitution Praedicate  Evangelium.

The Agreement, signed on behalf of the Dicastery by the Prefect Cardinal Lazarus  You Heung-Sik and by the Commission President, Cardinal Sean O’ Malley OFM Cap.,  identified three main areas of shared interest:

First – in service to victims – working to create spaces and structures within the  competence of the Dicastery for welcoming and hearing survivors and for those seeking to  report instances of abuse.

Second – in service to the local churches – cooperating on those aspects pertaining  to safeguarding contained in the Ratio nationalis, a document developed and adopted by  each particular church, governing all aspects of priestly formation, as customized to the  local cultural context.

Third – in service of priest formation – facilitating the promotion of an initial and  ongoing formation of the clergy, that is ever more sensitive to the Church’s safeguarding  ministry.

The collaboration between the entities of the Roman Curia will provide information  for the Commission’s Annual Report, as requested by the Holy Father, in his April 2022  Private Audience with the PCPM, and reiterated again, in his May 2023 Private Audience.

Cardinal O’Malley said: “This second Collaboration Agreement marks another  encouraging milestone for the Commission in its new position within the Curia. This agreement with the Dicastery for Clergy is allows us to open important communication  channels with the office at the service of the formation of our priests worldwide. Priests and  deacons are, perhaps, the most visible face of the daily life of the Church so ensuring that  their life and ministry is subjected to good policies and procedures concerning the  safeguarding of children and vulnerable persons is essential.”

The Prefect of the Dicastery for Clergy, Korean Cardinal Lazarus You Heung-Sik  welcomed increased collaboration: “Our commitment to this difficult area of the Church’s  ministry is further expressed in today’s collaboration agreement. We hope, through our  common effort, to deepen our understanding of the impact of abuse on victims and  survivors and how to best accompany them, and also offer good practices in prevention and  assistance to our priests who are called, as the Pope Francis has said, to become “Apostles  of Safeguarding” for their communities.”

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USA: Pope Francis Creates Ecclesiastical Province of Las Vegas https://zenit.org/2023/05/30/usa-pope-francis-creates-ecclesiastical-province-of-las-vegas/ Tue, 30 May 2023 02:59:01 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=210187 And Names Most Reverend George Leo Thomas as First Metropolitan Archbishop of Las Vegas.

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(ZENIT News / Las Vegas, 05.30.2023).- Pope Francis has created the Ecclesiastical Province of Las Vegas, comprised of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Las Vegas, and the suffragan dioceses of Reno and Salt Lake City. At the same time, he named Most Reverend George Leo Thomas, as the first Metropolitan Archbishop of Las Vegas.

The establishment of the new province and the appointment of the metropolitan archbishop was publicized in Washington, D.C. on May 30, 2023, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

An ecclesiastical province is a territory consisting of at least one archdiocese (known as the “metropolitan see”) and includes several dioceses (known as “suffragan sees”). The metropolitan archbishop is the head of his archdiocese, and while he has no direct power of governance over the suffragan dioceses in his province, through canon law (Church law), he supports them in matters of faith and discipline and provides fraternal pastoral care to his brother bishops. In this newly created province, the Archdiocese of Las Vegas is the metropolitan see, and the Diocese of Reno and the Diocese of Salt Lake City are the suffragan sees.

Archbishop Thomas was appointed the third bishop of Las Vegas on February 28, 2018, and has now been named the archbishop of the newly created province. His full biography may be read here.

The Archdiocese of Las Vegas is comprised of 39,088 square miles in the State of Nevada and has a total population of 2,322,280, of which 620,000 are Catholic.

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Pope calls on Church to pray in June for abolition of torture https://zenit.org/2023/05/30/pope-calls-on-church-to-pray-in-june-for-abolition-of-torture/ Tue, 30 May 2023 02:47:42 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=210183 The Pope condemns not only the most violent forms of torture, but also those that are “more sophisticated, such as degrading someone, dulling the senses, or mass detentions in inhumane conditions.” Horrified that it is currently still practiced, the Pope calls on the international community to “commit itself concretely to abolish torture, guaranteeing support to victims and their families.”

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 05.30.2023).- How is it possible that the human capacity for cruelty is so huge?” Pope Francis asks with horror at the beginning of this month’s Pope Video. The Holy Father’s new prayer intention for June, which is entrusted to the entire Catholic Church through the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, is an appeal for the abolition of torture in all of its forms throughout the world.

History, past and present

“Torture is not past history”, explains Pope Francis in the video. “Unfortunately, it’s part of our history today.” In the words accompanying his prayer intention, he also underlines that, in addition to “extremely violent forms of torture, “other more sophisticated” methods are used in the world today, “such as degrading someone, dulling the senses, or mass detentions in conditions so inhumane that they take away the dignity of the person.”

The timing of his condemnation of the practice, and the prayer intention itself, is not accidental. This upcoming 26th of June is the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, for it was on this date in 1987 that the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment went into effect. The convention was ratified by 162 countries after its adoption in 1984.


Ecce homo (Behold the man)

Images of prisoners in inhumane conditions – tied to a chair, hooded, hands bound – open the Pope Video this month, which reconstructs places and current practices of torture in various parts of the world. Buckets containing rags, cords, batteries, pliers, hammers, machetes…. This disturbing inventory of an imaginary torture chamber accompanies Pope Francis’s words, in order to emphasize that whoever tries to reduce a person to a “thing” loses his or her own humanity first of all. This is what also happened to those who tortured Jesus, when they scourged him, beat him, mocked him. Jesus experienced torture during his Passion, and died bearing the signs of that torture: the wounds of the thorns and the whips, the bruises from the punches, the welts of the ropes that bound his writs. The video contains closeups of the image of the Ecce homo in the shrine of Mesoraca with this same name, located in Crotone, Italy. These images are impressive because of how real they are.

A prohibited practice that remains in the shadows of international law

Torture is a practice dating back to antiquity. In the 18th and 19th centuries, western countries officially abolished its official use through the judicial system. Today, it is entirely prohibited by international law. Nevertheless, it continues to be practiced in many countries. Since 1981, the United Nations Fund for Victims of Torture has assisted an average of 50,000 victims of torture each year, in countries in every corner of the globe. Of course, torture tends to occur in conflict zones. Such is the case with Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, where there have been reports of acts of torture perpetrated by Russian soldiers against Ukrainian military and civilians. In addition, and in part due to the advent of new technologies, the use of certain non-physical forms of torture, such as psychological torture, has increased. Moreover, aggravating the issue is the persistent lack of accountability for torture and ill-treatment on a global scale, partly caused by systemic denial, the obstruction and the deliberate evasion of responsibility on the part of public authorities which makes it difficult to document and estimate the number of victims.

Pope Francis’s appeal

This, then, is the Pope’s appeal to the entire international community, that it “commit itself concretely to abolish torture, guaranteeing support to victims and their families.” Pope Francis, in a discourse given in 2014, had already pointed out that “these abuses can only be stopped with the firm commitment of the international community to recognize […] the dignity of the human person above everything else.”

Jesus Christ, tortured and crucified 

Father Frédéric Fornos S.J., International Director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, commented on this intention: “No matter what the reasons are, torture can never be justified. Pope Francis has said this clearly many times. For example: ‘Torturing a person is a mortal sin! Christian communities must commit themselves to helping victims of torture’ (Tweet from 26 June 2018). For Christians, Jesus Christ is the face of God. Throughout history, he has drawn near to all victims of torture through his own Passion. Because of this, as Pope Francis says in Fratelli tutti: ‘Every act of violence committed against a human being is a wound in humanity’s flesh’ (FT 227). This month of prayer and action for the abolition of every form of torture, whether of detainees, prisoners, or abducted persons, is also an appeal to guarantee the ‘support of the victims and their families.’”

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Israel Has Fewer Women in Parliament, But More Women Workers Among the Ultra-Orthodox https://zenit.org/2023/05/29/israel-has-fewer-women-in-parliament-but-more-women-workers-among-the-ultra-orthodox/ Mon, 29 May 2023 07:21:55 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=210178 The lack of adequate representation in the government and in the Knesset deals a severe blow to the status of women in Israel and can be expected to profoundly affect their lives for the worse.

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Manuela Borraccino

ZENIT News – TerraSanta.net / Jerusalem, 05.29.2023).- The current legislature of the Israeli Parliament “marks an historical setback in women’s representation”: the Coalition has an overwhelming majority of men, and only nine women out of 64 members (14%). In the Knesset there are only 29 women out of 120 deputies (24%), with only six women out of 30 Ministers, after the record of nine women Ministers in the previous Government.

Among the few women who have been included in the electoral lists, in “marginal and not very realistic“ positions – complain jurists of the Forum of Israeli Law Professors for Democracy — some were elected in fact for their opposition to women’s rights and equality, including for their effort to boycott draft laws geared to protect the victims of sexual violence and offer answers to domestic violence.” This was confirmed by the expulsion from the Knesset’s chamber of the recently appointed Minister for the Promotion of Women’s Condition, May Golan (of the Likud Party), known for her extreme right positions against immigrants and women’s rights, in addition to being proud of regarding herself a racist. On the night of May 1, a few minutes after taking the oath for her new post, the Minister attacked verbally an opposition deputy  who criticized her, until she was removed from the chamber: it was a “most embarrassing “scene even for the standards of the Israeli chaotic political life,” said the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

“The lack of adequate representation in the Government and in the Knesset deals a heavy blow to women’s condition in Israel and it can be expected that it will affect profoundly their lives for the worst.” “Moreover, the women lawyers attack the fact that “there is an attempt to neutralize women’s organizations to fight for their rights and get reparation in the courts,” in violation of both the 1979 UN Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW), as well as UN Resolution 1325 of the year 2000 on the inclusion of women in peace processes.

Haredi Women Are Making Their Way Into The Professions

The greatest concern of Israeli jurists are Haredi women and Israeli Arabs. Today, they write, the ultra-Orthodox are in high positions in the juridical, economic and communication professions, but glass ceilings persist: that of the central identity ethos for Haredi women of the study of the Torah, which hinders them from accessing parties and politics, institutions and decision-making centers where the face of ultra-Orthodox society is forged. “Perhaps, precisely as a reaction to the ‘spring’ of Haredi women,” reflect the jurists, “winds of restoration and exclusion are blowing in the ultra-Orthodox society, as expression of an unprecedented religious extremism and a regulation of modesty, a tendency that stifles hope and the spirit of initiative.” In this regime change,” they point out, “ultra-Orthodox women will be the most affected because they suffer a double marginalization: as women and as members of  patriarchal, hierarchical and authoritarian society that does not recognize the principles of equality and women’s rights.”

In 2021, the number of ultra-Orthodox reached 1,225,000: between adults and girls, the estimated number of women is some 600,000. The integration of Haredi women in the Israeli labour market has grown rapidly, also with the objective to make a reality the principle of a “society of scholars,” in which men dedicate their life to the study of the Torah. There are increasingly more Haredi women in the media and in high technology and information technology sectors. In the decade spanning 2002 to 2011, the rate of employment among Haredi women was 50%: in 2013 it increased to 68%. 

The percentage of employed women religious continues to be inferior to that of lay women: in 2014, Haredi women were 71% as opposed to 79.5% of non-Haredi Jewish women. However, the gap has been reduced even more in the last years: moreover, the ultra-Orthodox women are no longer only professors, but are now present in all University Faculties and many therapeutic professions, social services, human resources offices, clinical psychology, graphics and design, accounting, fundraising and campaigns. 

Not Only a Home Angel

The entrance of Haredi women in the labour world did not fail to cause a change in the relationship between spouses: the woman is not only the angel of the home, but the one who provides the family’s sustenance and enables her husband to study. It’s not surprising, point out the jurists, that extremism and the exclusion imposed in the last years are a reaction to the power and positions of influence that women gave acquired over the last decades. “The women,” note the Israeli jurists in the recent work to which we referred, “are now seen as those responsible for the ‘secularization” processes that are taking place in the ultra-Orthodox community: their entrance in the labour world has gone inevitably by the hand of the advent of worldliness  in the religious enclave. This is the consequence: “aggressive regimentation of women and an unprecedented religious radicalization.” 

That is why the ultra-Orthodox parties and men that control them don’t represent the women, half of the Haredi population, or that part of the population called “new Haredis: or “Haredi Israelites.” For years a bitter struggle has been waged to broaden the ultra-Orthodox official school system, which it’s hoped will include more crucial subjects  for more ultra-Orthodox children than has been the case up to now. And this because of the dramatic impact that this school system will have for the Israeli economy and its capacity for future recovery, given the important percentage of ultra-Orthodox graduates in the total of the Israeli population and the demographic projections that the Haredis will be a third of the Israeli population in the coming decades. “The low educational level of the Haredis, their detachment from the rest of Israeli society and the fact that a good part of the children are not taught basic essential subjects are very concerning questions, as it implies a threat for the country’s progress and that of its citizens, including those that belong to the ultra-Orthodox community.”

Domestic Violence Among Arabs and Few Measure to Counteract It

The Document of the Forum of Israeli Law Professors for Democracy closes with a chapter dedicated  to Israeli Arab women, another category strongly discriminated against since 1948. Applied to them also is the inter-sectional analysis, that is, the interdependence of the different types of domination of those that are victims: as women, as members of a patriarchal society and as individuals belonging to an underprivileged national minority. It’s no mystery that the Government wants to restrict the activities of human rights organizations of Arab women. “To the segregation of women that has been happening for years under the pressure of ultra-Orthodox Jews, is now added the ethno-religious segregation between Arabs and Jews, which will violate women’s rights even more.

In addition to the hardening of complicated procedures for the family regrouping of Palestinian women married to Israeli citizens, it’s worrying that domestic violence, femicides  and so-called “honour crimes” between Israeli Arabs  are not prosecuted and punished with the vigour reserved for Israeli Jews. “Whereas 94.3% of cases are prosecuted between Israeli Jews,” the report reads, “only 56% of cases end up in the courts when the victims are Israeli Arabs: and whereas among Jews the rate of sentences is 75%, between Arabs it’s only 34%; the average sentence for femicides is between 14 and 18 years for Jews, whereas for Arabs the average is 5.5 years. If the jurisdiction of rabbinical courts was extended in the matter of marriage and divorce, it’s very probable that the implementation of Sharia law would also increase between Arabs, to the great detriment of women. 

In conclusion, “the totality of actions, commitments and legislative changes initiated by the Government and the Coalition with the judicial reform,” conclude the jurists, “will deal a mortal blow to the rights of all Israel’s women and will mark a regression of their condition in the gravest way since the foundation of the State.” 


Translation of the Italian original into Spanish by ZENIT’s Editorial Director and, into English, by Virginia M. Forrester

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These Are the Two Objectives That the Pope Asked the Cardinal He Sent on the Russia-Peace Mission https://zenit.org/2023/05/29/these-are-the-two-objectives-that-the-pope-asked-the-cardinal-he-sent-on-the-russia-peace-mission/ Mon, 29 May 2023 06:59:18 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=210176 The mission does not have mediation as its immediate objective, but tries to "promote a climate, an environment that can lead to paths of peace."

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Valentina di Giorgio

(ZENIT News / Rome, 05.29.2023).- The Holy See’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, gave more details on the peace mission that the Pope entrusted to the Archbishop of Bologna and President of the Italian Episcopate, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, last May 20.

In the context of the presentation of a plan in the Gemelli Hospital, of the Tiber Island in Rome, Cardinal Parolin stated that the most basic objectives of the mission are: 1) To eliminate all the obstacles (which includes the threat of nuclear escalation) and 2) To reach  a ceasefire that opens the way to negotiation. Answering a journalist of La Presse, he said the intention of the peace mission is not attain peace but to create an atmosphere that fosters the end of the bellicose conflict. “The mission follows this line: to attempt to eliminate all the obstacles and come to a ceasefire and negotiation.”

Beyond these statements, the Secretary of State did not give more details on the mission the Pope commissioned to Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, to carry out, although he did mention that in addition to the two sides involved, rapprochements with China and the United States are not excluded. 

Cardinal Parolin’s statements are in keeping with those of the previous day, Friday, May 26, in the context of an event at the Italian Embassy to the Holy See. Addressing the journalists , the Cardinal Secretary of State underscored that the mission doesn’t have mediation as the immediate objective,” but will attempt to “foster an atmosphere, an environment that could lead to ways of peace.”

Cardinal Parolin also said dates have yet to be established for Cardinal Zuppi to visit the Russian and Ukrainian capitals. “I believe that on the part of the two capitals, there aren’t problems for the dates on which the Cardinal could go; it would be enough to come to an agreement.” In fact, it was stressed that the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation values positively the Pope’s initiative. 

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Pope Francis Explains How The Holy Spirit Frees Us From Fear  https://zenit.org/2023/05/28/pope-francis-explains-how-the-holy-spirit-frees-us-from-fear/ Sun, 28 May 2023 19:43:38 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=210170 Address on the occasion of the Regina Coeli prayer on Sunday, May 28, 2023.

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 05.28.2023).- Some 15,000 people gathered in Saint Peter’s Square today to hear the Pope’s Sunday address and to recite the Regina Coeli Marian prayer. In addition to the address on Pentecost, the Holy Father recalled the 250th anniversary of the death of the great Italian writer Alessandro Manzoni. He also mentioned those affected by the cyclone in Myanmar and Bangladesh and the fact that at the end of May, the Marian month, different Shrines are holding moments of prayer for the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. Finally, he appealed once again for peace in the world, especially in Ukraine

Here is the text of the Pontiff’s address.

* * *

Today, the Solemnity of Pentecost, the Gospel takes us to the Upper Room, where the Apostles had taken refuge after the death of Jesus (John 20: 19-23). The Risen One, on the evening of Passover, presents Himself precisely in that situation of fear and anguish and, breathing on them, says: “Receive the Holy Spirit” (v. 22). In this way, with the gift of the Spirit, Jesus wishes to free the disciples from fear, from this fear that keeps them shut away at home, and He frees them so that they may be able to go out and become witnesses and proclaimers of the Gospel. Let us dwell a little on what the Spirit does: He frees from fear.

The disciples had closed the doors, the Gospel says, “for fear” (v. 19). The death of Jesus had shocked them, their dreams had been shattered, their hopes had vanished. And they closed themselves inside. Not only in that room, but within, in the heart. I would like to underline this: closed inside. How often do we too shut ourselves in? How often, because of some difficult situation, because of some personal or family problem, because of a suffering that marks us or the evil we breathe around us, do we risk slipping slowly into a loss of hope and lack the courage to go on? This happens many times. And then, like the Apostles, we shut ourselves in, barricading ourselves in the labyrinth of worries.

Brothers and sisters, this “shutting ourselves in” happens when, in the most difficult situations, we allow fear to take the upper hand and let its loud voice dominate within us. The cause, therefore, is fear: fear of not being able to cope, of having to face everyday battles alone, of risking and then being disappointed, of making the wrong decisions. Brothers, sisters, fear blocks, fear paralyses. And it also isolates: think of the fear of others, of those who are foreign, who are different, who think in another way. And there can even be the fear of God: that He will punish me, that He will be angry with me… If we give space to these false fears, the doors close: the doors of the heart, the doors of society, and even the doors of the Church! Where there is fear, there is closure. And this will not do.

However, the Gospel offers us the remedy of the Risen One: the Holy Spirit. He frees us from the prisons of fear. When they receive the Spirit, the Apostles — we celebrate this today — come out of the Upper Room and go out into the world to forgive sins and to proclaim the good news. Thanks to Him, fears are overcome and doors open. Because this is what the Spirit does: He makes us feel God’s proximity, and so thus His love casts out fear, illuminates the way, consoles, sustains in adversity. Faced with fears and closure, then, let us invoke the Holy Spirit for us, for the Church and for the whole world: let a new Pentecost cast out the fears that assail us and revive the flame of God’s love.

May Mary Most Holy, the first to be filled with the Holy Spirit, intercede for us.

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Pope Francis Explains Three Actions of the Holy Spirit https://zenit.org/2023/05/28/pope-francis-explains-three-actions-of-the-holy-spirit/ Sun, 28 May 2023 19:38:21 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=210161 Homily of Pope Francis on the occasion of the solemnity of Pentecost 2023.

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(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 05.28.2023).- At 10:00 am on Sunday, May 28, Pope Francis attended the Mass on the Solemnity of Pentecost, an important feast of the Catholic Church that concludes Eastertide. Cardinal Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, presided over the Mass

Here is the homily pronounced by the Supreme Pontiff, (with phrased and titles in bold by ZENIT).

* * *


Today the word of God shows us the Holy Spirit in action.  We see Him acting in three ways: in the world He created, in the Church, and in our hearts.

[1st The Spirit Acts in the World]

First, in the world He created, in creation.  From the beginning, the Holy Spirit was at work.  We prayed with the Psalm (104:30): “When you send forth your Spirit, they are created.”  He is in fact the Creator Spiritus (cf. Saint Augustine, In Psalm 32, 2.2), the Creator Spirit: for centuries the Church has invoked Him as such.  

Yet we can ask ourselves: What does the Spirit do in the creation of the world?  If everything has its origin from the Father, and if everything is created through the Son, what is the specific role of the Spirit?  One great Father of the Church, Saint Basil, wrote: “if you attempt to remove the Spirit from creation, all things become confused and their life appears unruly and lacking order” (De Sancto Spiritu, XVI, 38).  That is the role of the Spirit: at the beginning and at all times, He makes created realities pass from disorder to order, from dispersion to cohesion, from confusion to harmony.  We will always see this way of acting in the Church’s life.  In a word, He gives harmony to the world; in this way, He “directs the course of time and renews the face of the earth” (Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes , 26; Psalm 104:30).  He does renew the earth, but listen carefully: He does this not by changing reality, but rather by harmonizing it.  That is his “style,” because in Himself He is harmony: ipse harmonia est (cf. Saint Basil, In Psalm 29, 1).

In our world today, there is so much discord, such great division.  We are all “connected,” yet find ourselves disconnected from one another, anesthetized by indifference and overwhelmed by solitude.  So many wars, so many conflicts: it seems incredible the evil of which we are capable!  Yet in fact, fueling our hostilities is the spirit of division, the devil, whose very name means “divider.”  Yes, preceding and exceeding our own evil, our own divisions, there is the evil spirit who is “the deceiver of the whole world” (Revelation 12:9).  He rejoices in conflict, injustice, slander; that is his joy.  To counter the evil of discord, our efforts to create harmony are not sufficient.  Hence, the Lord, at the culmination of His Passover from death to life, at the culmination of salvation, pours out upon the created world His good Spirit: the Holy Spirit, who opposes the spirit of division because He is harmony, the Spirit of unity, the bringer of peace.  Let us invoke the Spirit daily upon our whole world, upon our lives and upon any kind of division!

[The Spirit Acts in the Church]

Along with his work in creation, we see the Holy Spirit at workin the Church, beginning with the day of Pentecost.  We notice, however, that the Spirit does not inaugurate the Church by providing the community with rules and regulations, but by descending upon each of the Apostles: every one of them receives particular graces and different charisms.  Such an abundance of differing gifts could generate confusion, but, as in creation, the Holy Spirit loves to create harmony out of diversity.  

The harmony of the Spirit is not a mandatory, uniform order; in the Church, there is indeed an order, but it is “structured in accordance with the diversity of the Spirit’s gifts” (Saint Basil, De Spiritu Sancto, XVI, 39).  

At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descends in tongues of fire: He bestows upon each person the ability to speak other languages (cf. Acts 2:4) and to understand in his or her own language what is spoken by others (cf. Acts 2:6.11).  In a word, the Spirit does not create a single language, one that is the same for all.  He does not eliminate differences or cultures, but harmonizes everything without reducing them to bland uniformity.  And this must make us stop and reflect at this current time, when the temptation of “back-stepping” seeks to homogenise everything into merely apparent disciplines lacking any substance.  

Let us think about this: the Spirit does not begin with a clearly outlined programme, as we would, who so often become caught up in our plans and projects.  No, He begins by bestowing gratuitous and superabundant gifts.  Indeed, on that day of Pentecost, as the Scripture emphasizes, “all were filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4).  All were filled: that is how the life of the Church began, not from a precise and detailed plan, but from the shared experience of God’s love.  That is how the Spirit creates harmony; He invites us to experience amazement at His love and at His gifts present in others.  As Saint Paul tells us: “There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit . . .  For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians  12:4.13).  To see each of our brothers and sisters in the faith as part of the same body of which I am a member: this is the harmonious approach of the Spirit, this is the path that He points out to us!

And the Synod now taking place is — and should be — a journey in accordance with the Spirit, not a Parliament for demanding rights and claiming needs in accordance with the agenda of the world, nor an occasion for following wherever the wind is blowing, but the opportunity to be docile to the breath of the Spirit.  For on the sea of history, the Church sets sail only with Him, for He is “the soul of the Church” (Saint Paul VI, Address to the Sacred College, 21 June 1976), the heart of synodality, the driving force of evangelization.  Without Him, the Church is lifeless, faith is mere doctrine, morality mere duty, pastoral work mere toil.  

Sometimes we hear so-called thinkers or theologians, who suggest seemingly mathematical theories that leave us cold because they lack the Spirit within.  With the Spirit, on the other hand, faith is life, the love of the Lord convinces us, and hope is reborn.  Let us put the Holy Spirit back at the centre of the Church; otherwise, our hearts will not be consumed by love for Jesus, but by love for ourselves.  Let us put the Spirit at the start and heart of the Synod’s work.  For “it is He above all whom the Church needs today!  Let us say to Him each day: Come!” (cf. ID., General Audience, 29 November 1972).  And let us journey together because, as at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit loves to descend when “all come together” (cf. Acts 2:1).  Yes, to manifest Himself to the world, He chose the time and place where all were gathered together.  The People of God, in order to be filled with the Spirit, must therefore journey together, “do Synod.”  That is how harmony in the Church is renewed: by journeying together with the Spirit at the centre.  Brothers and sisters, let us build harmony in the Church!

[3rd The Spirit Acts in Our Hearts]

Finally, the Holy Spirit creates harmony in our hearts.  We see this in the Gospel, where Jesus, on the evening of Easter, breathes upon the disciples and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22).  He bestows the Spirit for a precise purpose: to forgive sins, to reconcile minds and to harmonize hearts wounded by evil, broken by hurts, led astray by feelings of guilt.  Only the Spirit restores harmony in the heart, for He is the one who creates “intimacy with God” (Saint Basil, De Spiritu Sancto, XIX, 49).  If we want harmony let us seek Him, not worldly substitutes.  Let us invoke the Holy Spirit each day.  Let us begin our day by praying to Him.  Let us become docile to Him!

And today, on His feast, let us ask ourselves: Am I docile to the harmony of the Spirit?  Or do I pursue my projects, my own ideas, without letting myself be shaped and changed by Him?  Is my way of living the faith docile to the Spirit or is it obstinate?  Am I stubbornly attached to texts or so-called doctrines that are only cold expressions of life?  Am I quick to judge?  Do I point fingers and slam doors in the face of others, considering myself a victim of everyone and everything?  Or do I welcome the Spirit’s harmonious and creative power, the “grace of wholeness” that He inspires, His forgiveness that brings us peace?  And in turn, do I forgive?  

Forgiveness is making room for the Spirit to come.  Do I foster reconciliation and build communion, or am I always on the lookout, poking my nose into problems and causing hurt, spite, division and breakdown?  Do I forgive, promote reconciliation and build communion?  If the world is divided, if the Church is polarized, if hearts are broken, let us not waste time in criticizing others and growing angry with one another; instead, let us invoke the Spirit.  He is able to resolve all of this.

Holy Spirit, Spirit of Jesus and of the Father, inexhaustible wellspring of harmony, to You we entrust the world; to You we consecrate the Church and our hearts.  Come, Creator Spirit, harmony of humanity, renew the face of the earth.  Come, Gift of gifts, harmony of the Church, make us one in You.  Come, Spirit of forgiveness and harmony of the heart, transform us as only You can, through the intercession of Mary.

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Pope Francis Clarifies in An Interview That He Spoke with Ukrainian President Zelensky and Describes the Tone of the Conversation https://zenit.org/2023/05/26/pope-francis-clarifies-in-an-interview-that-he-spoke-with-ukrainian-president-zelensky-and-describes-the-tone-of-the-conversation/ Fri, 26 May 2023 20:16:10 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=210156 Pope reveals the central issue discussed between him and the President of Ukraine at the meeting in mid-May. He also says what he believes about the territories annexed by Russia.

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(ZENIT News / Rome, 05.26.2023).- Pope Francis  was interviewed on Thursday afternoon, May 25, by the Telemundo network. Mexican presenter Julio Vaqueiro carried out the interview shortly before the start of the Scholas Occurrentes event in the Patristic Institute Augustinianum.

One of the topics addressed was the war in Ukraine. In this connection, the presenter asked the Pope: “The Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, says he does not need intermediaries; in reality, he asks him to agree to his peace formula, which includes Russia returning the territories it has taken. “Do you think Russia must do that for peace?” As is known, last May 13 Pope Francis received the Ukrainian President in audience. The topic of the private conversation wasn’t made known. However, given that after his meeting with the Pope, President Zelensky published a Tweet and, hours later, made statements in a program on Italian TV, the Ukrainian leader’s words were interpreted as being opposed to the Holy Father’s position. 

Thanks to the Pope’s answer to the Telemundo presenter, we know better what Pope Francis and President Zelensky said: “Well, that wasn’t the tone of the conversation — what I said, no? He asked me for a very big favour: to be involved with the children that had been taken to Russia. Look, I ask you that. They don’t dream so much about mediations because the Ukrainian bloc is very strong — the whole of Europe, the United States. In other words, they have a very large force of their own, no? What hurts him a lot and what he asks for is collaboration in trying to return the children to Ukraine.”

Vaqueiro came back to the topic and asked the Pontiff: “To attain peace, do you think that Russia must return those territories?” The Holy Father made it clear: “It’s a political problem. Peace will be achieved the day in which they are able to talk, either the two of them or through others.”

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Chinese Government Implements Digital Identification System for Priests https://zenit.org/2023/05/26/chinese-government-implements-digital-identification-system-for-priests/ Fri, 26 May 2023 20:07:36 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=210153 The file contains name, sex, title, religious denomination, registration number, etc. The token is associated with a phone number. For their part, religious denominations, such as the Catholic Church, undertake to update the registration data.

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Lym Kym

(ZENIT News / Hong Kong, 05.26.2023).- After the Chinese Communist Government obliged Buddhist and Taoist monks to register in the system of identity verification on February 22, 2023, the turn has now come for Catholic Priests, Protestant Pastors and Muslim Imams to do the same.

It is an online verification system for Religious based on an online card with their identity data. The system focuses on the cards of all religious leaders, from the lowest to the highest level. The card remains in the hands of the Government, but can also be consulted by Chinese citizens. 

Specifically, the card includes data such as name, sex, title, religious denomination, registration number, etc. The card is associated with a telephone number. For their part, the Religious Confessions, such as the Catholic Church, commit themselves to update the registration data.

According to the official agency Xinhua, this tool is an instrument to validate the authenticity of the ministers so it lends itself to scams.” The same source states that “over the last years several cases have been denounced of people that have tried to profit claiming fraudulently a false monastic identity and, by doing so, have seriously discredited the image of the religious community, at the same time perturbing public order, damaging citizens’ health and economic and patrimonial resources, with an extremely negative social impact.”

Considering that it’s a Communist Government, it’s understandable that this also serves to control Churches better, identifying each one of their leaders. 

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USA: Planned Parenthood is challenging Arizona’s pre-Roe v. Wade law protecting unborn lives https://zenit.org/2023/05/26/usa-planned-parenthood-is-challenging-arizonas-pre-roe-v-wade-law-protecting-unborn-lives/ Fri, 26 May 2023 20:04:38 +0000 https://zenit.org/?p=210150 Pro-life groups urge AZ Supreme Court to uphold state law protecting women, children. Numerous friend-of-the-court briefs filed with state’s high court

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(ZENIT News / Arizona, 05.26.2023).- A number of pro-life advocacy groups, Arizona state legislators, and 17 states have united in support of protecting unborn lives and women’s health by filing friend-of-the-court briefs with the Arizona Supreme Court in Planned Parenthood of Arizona v. Mayes.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Dr. Eric Hazelrigg, an obstetrician and medical director of Choices Pregnancy Center in Arizona, filed a petition in March with the state’s high court. The petition asks the Arizona Supreme Court to reverse an appeal court’s ruling that rewrote the state’s pro-life law and thwarted the Arizona Legislature’s intent to enact that law, and to lift an injunction that halted the law from taking effect.

“Pro-life laws like the one in Arizona not only help protect the lives of countless innocent, unborn children, but they also protect the dignity and health of women by providing real support during a difficult time. Arizona is eager to preserve the innocent lives of children and restore dignity to women and the medical profession,” said ADF Senior Counsel Denise Harle, director of the ADF Center for Life. “Since Attorney General Mayes has said she refuses to defend the state’s duly enacted pro-life law, we urge the Arizona Supreme Court to listen to the voices of the legislators, other states, and numerous groups who have joined in asking the court to uphold this critical law that protects the lives of mothers and their children.”

In September 2022, the Arizona Superior Court in Pima County appointed Hazelrigg as the guardian ad litem to legally represent the best interests of unborn children in Arizona. The court also ruled that the state is free to protect the lives of unborn children and the health and safety of mothers by enforcing its pre-Roe v. Wade law that offers substantial protection from the harms of abortion. ADF attorneys argued for that result in a brief filed in August 2022, asking the court to grant then Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s request to lift the injunction against the state’s pro-life law, which the court had previously blocked based on Roe.

“Scientific and technological advancements since Roeunderscore the State’s compelling interests in protecting fetal life at all stages, including before viability,” the Charlotte Lozier Institute wrote in its brief. “For instance, 4D ultrasonography has provided direct and convincing proof of fetal discernment, intentionality, and sociality from as early as 12 weeks of life. Moreover, a mountain of recent scientific evidence shows that, through neural structures developing between 12 and 18 weeks, the fetus can and does experience conscious pain in utero. Given the wealth of recent scientific evidence establishing the human fetus’s independent, conscious experience and actual suffering, this Court should reverse the judgment below, lift the injunction, and uphold [the state’s pro-life law].”

“For a half century, the United States Supreme Court wrongly ‘prohibit[ed] the citizens of [Arizona] from … prohibiting abortion.’ Last year, the Supreme Court finally ‘corrected [its] mistake’ and ‘return[ed] the issue of abortion to the people and their elected representatives,’” the brief led by the state of Arkansas and joined by 16 other states, explains. “And yet, the court of appeals still accepted Planned Parenthood’s invitation to ‘short-circuit the democratic process and blocked Arizona from resuming enforcement of a ban long on its books. The Arizona judiciary should not continue to deny the people ‘the power to address [this] question of profound moral and social importance.’ This Court should grant the petition for review and reverse.”

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