Deborah Castellano Lubov

JUST IN: Georg Ratzinger Has Passed Away at Age 96

Monsignor Georg Ratzinger has passed away…

The news circulated on German media and was published by Vatican News in Italian, today, July 1, 2020.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had left the Vatican on June 18 to visit his sick brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger in Bavaria, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, had confirmed to ZENIT English that day.

“I can confirm that this morning the Pope Emeritus went to Germany to visit his sick brother.  The Pope Emeritus is now in the city of Regensburg, where he will spend the necessary time,” Bruni had told Zenit.

“Together with Benedict were his secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, a doctor, a nurse, one of the memores domini and the Deputy Commander of the Gendarmerie Corps of the Vatican City State.

During ZENIT’s trip to Bavaria to trace in the footsteps of Joseph Ratzinger’s early life, its Senior Vatican Correspondent, spoke to Monsignor Georg Ratzinger in his home in Regensburg. One can read her account here:

Benedict returned to the Vatican, after his short stay in Bavaria, last Monday, June 22, 2020.


Deborah Castellano Lubov

Pope Francis’ Summer Break Has Begun

As is the case every summer, Pope Francis takes a break from his public meetings: his weekly Wednesday morning General Audiences are suspended throughout July.
For this reason, July 1, the Holy Father did not have his weekly Audience streamed from his private library, according to Vatican sources.
While no statement was issued by the Vatican Press Office, usually the Pope’s morning Masses in the chapel of his residence Casa Santa Marta, are suspended until September.
Francis will continue celebrating Mass in private and the Vatican will not publish the content of his daily homilies.
Despite his ‘break’, the Pope will continue to give his Angelus address each Sunday at noon. He will do so, as usual, from St. Peter’s Square, given Pope Francis has opted since the start of his pontificate to stay in Rome over the summer, rather than to go to Castel Gandolfo like his predecessors.
For the moment, the Pope has no other appointments confirmed as the world continues to battle against the COVID-19 pandemic.



Archbishop Gomez Pens Letter for Memorial of St. Junípero Serra

The following letter was published in Angelus, the news site of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. In the letter, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles addresses recent controversies surrounding public monuments to St. Junípero Serra and asks the faithful of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to invoke the saint’s “intercession for this nation that he helped to found.” In light of the saint’s July 1 feast day, he urges prayers especially for “an end to racial prejudice and a new awareness of what it means that all men and women are created equal as children of God.” Archbishop Gomez also offers an original spiritual meditation that he composed almost entirely from words drawn from St. Junípero’s sermons and letters. 

Archbishop Gomez also serves as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

For an audio version of the Archbishop’s letter, click here, with thanks to Discerning Hearts. For the Spanish translation of this letter, click here.


My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Recently, statues to the Apostle of California, St. Junípero Serra, were torn down in San Francisco and in the plaza outside our first church, Nuestra Señora Reina de los Ángeles, in downtown Los Angeles. Up and down the state, there is growing debate about removing St. Junípero memorials from public lands. Ventura officials have announced that they will hold a public hearing July 7 to debate whether to take down his statue from in front of Ventura City Hall.

Faced with the possibility of vandalism, we are taking increased security precautions at the historic missions located in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Unfortunately, we will probably have to relocate some statues to our beloved saint or risk their desecration.

These developments sadden me. I have been thinking and writing about St. Junípero for many years now.

I understand the deep pain being expressed by some native peoples in California. But I also believe Fray Junípero is a saint for our times, the spiritual founder of Los Angeles, a champion of human rights, and this country’s first Hispanic saint. I was privileged to celebrate his canonization Mass with Pope Francis in 2015. I rely on his intercession in my ministry, and I am inspired by his desire to bring God’s tender mercy to every person.

The exploitation of America’s first peoples, the destruction of their ancient civilizations, is a historic tragedy. Crimes committed against their ancestors continue to shape the lives and futures of native peoples today. Generations have passed and our country still has not done enough to make things right.

In the family of God here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, we have worked hard to atone for past errors and wrongs and to find the path forward together. We honor the contributions that native peoples made to building the Church in Southern California and we cherish their gifts in the mission of the Church today.

Over the years, I have come to understand how the image of Father Serra and the missions evokes painful memories for some people. For that reason, I believe the protests over our history in California, and the broader protests that have started elsewhere in the country over historical monuments, are important.

Historical memory is the soul of every nation. What we remember about our past and how we remember it defines our national identity — the kind of people we want to be, the values and principles we want to live by.

But history is complicated. The facts matter, distinctions need to be made, and the truth counts. We cannot learn history’s lessons or heal old wounds unless we understand what really happened, how it happened, and why.

Our society may reach a consensus not to honor St. Junípero or various other figures from our past. But elected officials cannot abdicate their responsibilities by turning these decisions over to small groups of protesters, allowing them to vandalize public monuments. This is not how a great democracy should function.

Allowing the free expression of public opinion is important. So is upholding the rule of law and ensuring that decisions we reach as a society are based on genuine dialogue and the search for truth and the common good.

In this regard, how the City of Ventura is handling the debate over its Serra monument can be a model for thoughtful and respectful public discourse that includes civil authorities, indigenous leaders, representatives of the Church, and the community at large.

In other cases, it is clear that those attacking St. Junípero’s good name and vandalizing his memorials do not know his true character or the actual historical record.

The sad truth is that, beginning decades ago, activists started “revising” history to make St. Junípero the focus of all the abuses committed against California’s indigenous peoples.

But the crimes and abuses that our saint is blamed for — slanders that are spread widely today over the internet and sometimes repeated by public figures — actually happened long after his death.

It was California’s first governor who called for “a war of extermination” against the Indians and called in the U.S. Cavalry to help carry out his genocidal plans. That was in 1851. St. Junípero died in 1784.

The real St. Junípero fought a colonial system where natives were regarded as “barbarians” and “savages,” whose only value was to serve the appetites of the white man. For St. Junípero, this colonial ideology was a blasphemy against the God who has “created (all men and women) and redeemed them with the most precious blood of his Son.”

He lived and worked alongside native peoples and spent his whole career defending their humanity and protesting crimes and indignities committed against them. Among the injustices he struggled against, we find heartbreaking passages in his letters where he decries the daily sexual abuse of indigenous women by colonial soldiers.

For St. Junípero, the natives were not just powerless victims of colonial brutality. In his letters, he describes their “gentleness and peaceful dispositions,” he celebrates their creativity and knowledge; he remembers little acts of kindness and generosity, even the sweet sound of their voices as they sang.

He learned their languages and their ancient customs and ways. St. Junípero came not to conquer, he came to be a brother. “We have all come here and remained here for the sole purpose of their well-being and salvation,” he once wrote. “And I believe everyone realizes we love them.”

I like to think that his deep reverence for creation was influenced by his conversations and observations among this land’s first peoples.

St. Junípero became one of America’s first environmentalists, documenting California’s diverse habitats in diary entries and letters where he described mountains and plains, the blazing sun and the effects of drought, the overflow of brooks and rivers, cottonwood and willow trees, roses in bloom, the roar of a mountain lion that kept the missionaries awake at night.

St. Junípero also understood that the souls of indigenous Americans had been darkened with bitterness and rage at their historic mistreatment and the atrocities committed against them.

In 1775, when Kumeyaay attackers burned down the mission in San Diego, torturing and murdering his dear friend, Father Luís Jayme, California’s first martyr, St. Junípero was not outraged. He was concerned for the killers’ souls. He pleaded with authorities to have mercy.

“As for the culprits, their offense should be forgiven after some slight punishment,” he said. “By doing so they would see we were putting into practice the rule we teach them — to return good for evil and to pardon our enemies.”

This may be the first moral argument against the use of the death penalty in American history. And St. Junípero was arguing against its imposition on an oppressed minority.

St. Junípero was 60 years old when he traveled 2,000 miles from Carmel to Mexico City to protest the injustices of the colonial system and demand that authorities adopt a “bill of rights” that he had written for the native peoples.

That was in 1773, three years before America’s founders declared this nation’s independence with those beautiful words: “all men are created equal … endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.”

Pope Francis called St. Junípero “one of the founding fathers of the United States.” He recognized that the saint’s witness anticipated the great spirit of human equality and liberty under God that has come to define the American project.

Yet in online petitions today we find St. Junípero compared to Adolf Hitler, his missions compared to concentration camps. No serious historian would accept this, and we should not allow these libels to be made in public arguments about our great saint.

Despite their many flaws, the California missions were similar to some of the other communes and “communitarian” societies we find in early American history.

The missions were multicultural communities of worship and work, with their own governments and a self-sustaining economy based on agriculture and handicrafts. Living and working together, Natives and Spaniards created a new, mestizo (“mixed”) culture reflected in the distinctive art, architecture, music, poetry, and prayers that came out of the missions.

It is sadly true that corporal punishment was sometimes used in the missions, as it was practiced throughout late 18th-century society. It is also true that some natives died of diseases in the missions.

But the tragic ruin of native populations occurred long after St. Junípero was gone and the missions were closed or “secularized.” Serious scholars conclude that St. Junípero himself was a gentle man and there were no physical abuses or forced conversions while he was president of the mission system.

St. Junípero did not impose Christianity, he proposed it. For him, the greatest gift he could offer was to bring people to the encounter with Jesus Christ. Living in the missions was always voluntary, and in the end just 10-20% of California’s native population ever joined him.

My brothers and sisters, this is the truth about St. Junípero.

In this hour of trial in our nation, when once again we are confronting America’s shameful legacy of racism, I invite you to join me in observing St. Junípero’s feast day, July 1, as a day of prayer, fasting, and charity.

Let us ask St. Junípero’s intercession for this nation that he helped to found. Let us pray with him for healing, reconciliation, an increase in empathy and understanding, an end to racial prejudice, and a new awareness of what it means that all men and women are created equal as children of God.

Every true reform begins in the human heart, and St. Junípero would tell us that only mercy and pardon and true contrition can move us forward at this moment in our history.

I have spent these recent days praying and reflecting on his life and writings and I have prepared a spiritual meditation composed almost entirely of words from St. Junípero’s sermons and letters.

I offer this meditation, along with this letter, for your prayer and reflection as we work together to promote the healing of memories and an end to the racism that still plagues our nation’s systems and institutions.

Pray for me and I will pray for you. May God grant peace to you and your families. I entrust all of us to the Immaculate Heart of Mary our Blessed Mother.

Most Reverend José H. Gomez

Archbishop of Los Angeles


On the mercy of God

A spiritual meditation from the writings of St. Junípero Serra

O Lord, You are complete mercy, complete love,

and complete tenderness toward all men and women,

even toward the most ungrateful sinners.

You wish all people to attain the ends

for which You compassionately created us.

You yearn that we might believe

that You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life,

and advance toward the salvation You will for us.


You are sweet and gentle,

and You call us in the gentleness of Your divine voice,

in the sweet and gentle tones of a Father

addressing his favorite child.

You extend the golden bonds of Your goodwill and love,

You pardon us in your mercy.


Father of all mercy and consolation,

pour forth the abundance of Your love with mercy.

By your mercy, conquer every type of malice.

Help us to leave not only our faults,

but the bad habits and situations in our lives which lead to these faults,

that we might love You alone.


Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening with a contrite heart.

Help us to begin right now to realize the truth!

To be entirely animated by love of You,

Help us begin to live a holy life,

with a burning love and zeal for the salvation of our neighbors.

Make us more gentle, more calm,

more nurturing and strong.


Remind us of Your gentle goodwill, O Lord.

May we never be severe or harsh.

May we see in everyone, a child whom You have created and

redeemed with the most precious blood of Your Son.

Teach us to know that You value kindness,

that love is the best way to attract people to You.

May we always help others to taste and see

the sweetness and gentleness of Your love.


Let us bear every hardship

for the love of You and the salvation of souls.

In our trials, may we know that we are loved as Your own children.

To a willing heart all is sweet,

so grant us love and patience, and

conform us always to Your will, O God.


We entrust ourselves to the

Ever-Immaculate Queen Mary

and say with the Angel, “Hail Mary.”


— Compiled by Most Reverend José H. Gomez,

Archbishop of Los Angeles

July 1, 2020


Marina Droujinina

Orthodox: ‘Walk Together’ Towards ‘Full Unity’

Pope Francis sent “a spiritual embrace to dear brother Patriarch Bartholomew,” Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, on the eve of the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, celebrated on Monday, June 29, 2020.

After the Angelus on Sunday, June 28, the Holy Father mentioned that it “is a tradition that a delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople comes to Rome; however, this year this isn’t possible given the pandemic.” Therefore, the Pontiff expressed a greeting to the Orthodox Patriarch “in the hope” that “our mutual visits” will be taken up again “when possible.” Pope Francis recalled this tradition also at the Mass for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, celebrated in Saint Peter’s Basilica the same day, explaining that the purpose of the mutual visits is to walk towards unity between Christians. “Peter and Andrew were brothers and, when possible, we exchange fraternal visits during our respective feasts, not so much out of kindness but to walk together toward the end the Lord indicates to us: full unity,” he said.

The Holy Father also stressed his closeness to the Orthodox, particularly with the Ecumenical Patriarch. “Today they were unable to come given the traveling problems caused by the coronavirus; however, when I went down to venerate Peter’s remains, I felt in my heart, close to me my beloved brother Bartholomew. They are here, with us,” he said.


Staff Reporter

US Bishops Share Results of Survey of Permanent Deacons

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations has shared the results of the annual survey on the permanent diaconate. A Portrait of the Permanent Diaconate: A Study for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops 2019-2020, was conducted by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) and provides an illustration of the state of the permanent diaconate in the United States, including the number of those ordained and retired in the past year, percentages of those involved in various Church ministries, and other demographic information.

Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen, chairman of the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations expressed his gratitude for the ministry of permanent deacons in the Church. “Permanent deacons provide an invaluable service to the universal Church. Through their leadership in parish and pastoral ministry, proclamation and preaching of the Gospel, and involvement in corporal and spiritual works of mercy, deacons imitate Christ the Servant by bringing the presence of Jesus to those who are often the most vulnerable in our society.”

With contact information provided by the National Association of Diaconate Directors and CARA’s Catholic Ministry Formation database, CARA contacted the 187 dioceses and eparchies in the United States with an active Office of the Permanent Diaconate. Of this total, 129 responded to the survey for an overall response rate of 69%. Of that total, 71% of responses were from Latin Catholic dioceses and 36% were from Eastern Catholic eparchies. Some of the major findings of the report based on the responding dioceses and eparchies are:

•  The dioceses with the largest number of permanent deacons: Chicago (764), Galveston-Houston (478), and New York (355). Adjusting for Catholic population size, Latin Rite dioceses with the lowest ratio of Catholic per permanent deacon include Lexington (481 Catholics to every deacon), Bismarck (690 Catholics per deacon), Rapid City (704 Catholics per deacon), Duluth (708 Catholics per deacon), and Jefferson City (733 Catholics per deacon).
•  The 123 Latin Rite dioceses that responded to the survey report a total of 13,810 permanent deacons, both active and non-active. The four eparchies that responded reported a total of 57 permanent deacons. Extrapolating to include the dioceses and eparchies that did not respond to the survey, it can be estimated that there are as many as 19,833 permanent deacons in the United States today.
•  Latin Rite dioceses report having 9,935 permanent deacons active in ministry. The four eparchies report 50 active permanent deacons. Extrapolating to include dioceses and eparchies that did not respond to the survey, it can be estimated that there are 14,287 deacons active in ministry in the United States today, or about 72% of all permanent deacons.
•  During the 2019 calendar year, 383 new permanent deacons were ordained. At the same time, 334 deacons retired from active ministry and another 289 deacons died. As is the case with priests in the United States, there are not enough new permanent deacons being ordained to make up for the numbers who are retiring from active ministry or dying each year.
•  Ninety-five percent of active permanent deacons are at least 50 years old. About a fifth (20%) are in their 50s, four in ten (41%) are in their 60s, and two-fifths (41%) are 70 or older.
•  Three-quarters of active deacons (76%) are non-Hispanic whites. Seventeen percent are Hispanic or Latino. Three percent are African American and 4% are Asian or Pacific Islander.
•  Among permanent deacons who are financially compensated for ministry:

The entire CARA report can be accessed here.


Staff Reporter

Homily of Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry, Ireland

Today’s Gospel passage brings us to the end of the second great discourse of Jesus in Saint Matthew’s Gospel. The first was the Sermon on the Mount where he called the crowds to a new way of being human, based on the divine values of love, generosity, and responsibility for each other. In this missionary sermon, He has been instructing His disciples how they should behave and what they should expect when they go out to proclaim that it is possible to renew the face of the earth. That mission of Jesus’ disciples is as difficult today as it was then.

Firstly, Jesus uses the word ‘prophet’. A prophet in our biblical tradition is not merely one who foretells the future. A prophet is one who proclaims what the world could be like – and who is not afraid to point out where a society is building its house on sand. All these teachings will be unwelcome to those who are doing very nicely, thank you, from the status quo. In any age, if the disciples of Jesus do not seek to play an uncomfortable challenging role if the Church becomes tasteless and without inspiration and hope, if the Church becomes too aligned to the dominant ideology of the powerful, then it loses its prophetic voice. The Gospel invitation is for the modern world to catch on to the divine dream. It is not for merely the Church to catch up with the modern world’s assumptions. A Church that does not look out of step with its society, a Church that lets its principles be excessively influenced by changing market values, needs to hear Jesus’ instruction to His disciples 2,000 years ago.

But this is not an invitation to develop bitter, critical hearts. We already have more than our fair share of moaners. Angry hearts cannot reflect a God who so loved the world that He sent His only Son. That was not how Jesus engaged with His contemporaries. A prophetic Church speaks of, and models what a grace-filled society could look like. A secularised society would be content if faith were reduced to the sphere of the private and the personal.

But a prophetic Church is – as Pope Francis says – called to be at the service of a difficult dialogue (Evangelii Gaudium 74). Faith is thus always highly political. Jesus’ ministry proclaimed that poor and sick lives matter and that apparently little unimportant lives matter. That is why He asks us to be a field hospital and not a private clinic. A prophet is a happy complainer because he or she calls us to greatness. A prophetic voice will not be afraid to engage with where people are at in order to bring them to a different place. For the prophet, a frightened silence is never an option.

Secondly, both Jesus and Saint Paul in our second reading talk about dying to ourselves and losing our lives for Jesus’ sake. That is not a welcome message. The dominant ideology tells us that self-indulgence offers us the best that we can hope for. We have discovered over the last three months that there are many beautiful things to enjoy that cost nothing. We do not need to constantly be purchasing expensive entertainment from outside. The story of the Holy Bible begins with Adam and Eve who face the basic human struggle – do I do what is right or do I succumb to the appetites and capacity for self-deception that lies within each one of us? Free choice comes at a cost. Real freedom is based on deliberately choosing the good, the true, and beautiful even that means depriving myself of some immediate pleasure.

I read a report during the week about the horrific levels of sexual violence suffered by many third levels students. Would it be unwelcome if a prophetic voice pointed out that this shocking trend in violence seems to be correlated with the widespread availability of pornography in our digital society, to which our young people are especially exposed?

The Gospel message is that we grow as great human beings by allowing our lives to be shaped by God’s dream and not by a depressing nightmare of embarrassing behavior and hidden regret. It is hard to build a stable future on the basis of giving priority to ‘the outward, the immediate, the visible, the quick, the superficial, and the provisional’ (EG 62).

A society built on the sand of merely subjective truth and fake news, it will be the author of its own downfall. The prophet loves people and seeks to warn them of real pitfalls. Poor leaders are afraid to speak the uncomfortable truth. We need wise leaders who are concerned about where we are going, and not just preoccupied with where they are going.

Thirdly, from this week, many areas of society – including places of worship – will be re-opening. This will present challenges for us all. I hope that we have learned lessons about life since we were locked down in March. This is a time to cherish those lessons and not to allow the insights to be lost in a tsunami of going back to the future. We have seen what has happened in those places where there has been a stampede to forget we escaped from worse consequences through self-discipline. It will take many people time to overcome the fear of mixing again. We want our churches to be places where people can share the infectious good news of the Gospel – but avoid being Corona-infected through selfishness and carelessness. We have to begin cautiously. In all areas of human life, short term gain can lead to long-term pain. These next weeks will be a time for discovering the Resurrection that Saint Paul talks about in writing to the Romans. We have been buried for three months in the reality of closed churches. Over the next days, the stone will be rolled back. As with Jesus, it will be to a new way of being alive and being the Body of Christ. As happened 2,000 years ago, Resurrection will not be easy to understand. But, as with Jesus, this new form of ‘resurrection’ is a call to come together so that we can be sent out. The prophetic voice always speaks of hope and a different future.

Over the next months of journeying with Saint Matthew’s Gospel each Sunday, we will see how Jesus, by His words and His actions, helps His contemporaries dream of a grace-filled future. This great missionary discourse from Jesus is a call to all of our parishes to look again at how we can have missionary hearts today. It will mean the often unwelcome task of speaking the truth in love and dying to part of ourselves. It will mean letting God build His Kingdom through the courageous little actions of our daily lives. The Lord will work when we make space for His dream in our domestic Churches and in our shared sacramental life in Church.

The opening of our church buildings is about letting people in – so that God’s grace can pour out again over our hurting community and over those who thirst to hear the prophetic voice that speaks of God’s audacious dream for us. Amen.

· This homily was preached on the Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time, 28 June 2020, in the Cathedral of Saint Eugene, Derry.


Staff Reporter

English Bishop Describes ‘Return from Exile’

The Bishop of Plymouth, Bishop Mark O’Toole has described the announcement of the resumption of public masses as a “return from exile”.  Citing the experience of the return of the Jewish people to worship in Jerusalem, after the Babylonian exile, Bishop Mark reflected, “These last months have been an exile for us, too.  An exile even from our own churches.  An exile from the regular celebration of the Sacraments.  An exile from the normal pastoral life of the Church”.

Urging that the “steps we must take in this return are to be gradual”, he reminded people that the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday was still suspended and asked people “to be conscious of their fellow parishioners” and to go to Mass on a day other than Sunday, if possible so that those who could only go on a Sunday would be able to attend Mass.

The Bishop asked priests to continue the live streaming of Mass, and quoted from a moving email he had received, where one person wrote:

“As an old person living alone who is shielding, I have hugely appreciated the daily masses online……  Can I beg you not to stop them when public masses can be said again? Please remember people shielding have to stay in until 1 August.  Even then, some of us….are scared….Please do not abandon us.”

In looking forward to the resumption of public mass this weekend, Bishop Mark recalled the Gospel of his Ordination day, thirty years ago, from Matthew Chapter 11, which happens also to be the Gospel to be proclaimed this weekend.  He reminded people that this Gospel speaks of God’s preference for the “little ones….for mere children”, and rejoiced in “how much is done, how much influence and impact there is by a parish in its local community when there is a relatively small proportion of local people going to the church.”

Bishop Mark acknowledged the presence of real fear in people’s lives, in the face of “how deadly this virus can be”.  He recognized that people will return to Mass slowly and anticipated that the numbers may be relatively small, to begin with.  He asked people to wait and see if this is, “a sign of a greater shift in people’s practice of their faith.”

He recognized that the last months have taught us that “as human beings, we are not masters of our world”.  He pondered on the negative impact the virus has had, noting, “because this virus seems to be able to hit any of us, at any time, we may be tempted to believe that our life, and a possible imminent death, does not matter.  Am I just another statistic?”

Instead, he reminded everyone that, “God is our Father.  He looks at each of us with the self-same love with which He looks eternally at His Son……. Each one is infinitely loved by our God, desired by Him, and looked upon by Him with a continuous loving gaze.”  In this vein, the Bishop asked all to remember that, “it is in living close to Jesus, making our way to Him, that we are given the rest for which we all long”.

“It is no wonder,” the Bishop said, “that our hearts…. are filled with deep gratitude to God that this ‘return from exile’ is coming soon”.


The full text of Bishop Mark’s reflection:



Pope Names Metropolitan Archbishop of Maringá, Brazil

The Holy Father has appointed Bishop Severino Clasen, O.F.M., of Caçador, as metropolitan archbishop of the diocese of Maringá, Brazil.

Bishop Severino Clasen, O.F.M.

Bishop Severino Clasen, O.F.M.was born on June 10, 1954, in Petrolândia, Brazil, in the diocese of Rio do Sul, State of Santa Catarina. He carried out his studies in philosophy at the Institute of Philosophy of the Franciscans in Curitiba-PR and in theology at the Franciscan Institute of Theology at Petrópolis-RJ. In addition, he attended specialist and refresher courses on the Franciscan sources in Assisi, Italy, and on sacred scriptures in the Holy Land.

He gave his religious vows in the Franciscan Order of Friars Minor and was ordained a priest on July 10, 1982.

During his ministry he has held the following pastoral roles: parish vicar of “Nossa Senhora do Rosário” in Concórdia-SC; guardian and parish priest of “Nossa Senhora do Rosário” in Porto União-SC; secretary of the Vocational Sector of the Province; assistant of the “Santa Clara” Fraternity of the Secular Franciscan Order; parish priest and rector of the Parish-Shrine of “São Francisco de Assis” in São Paulo.

On May 11, 2005, he was appointed bishop of Araçuaí and received episcopal ordination on June 25, 2005. On July 6, 2011, he transferred to Caçador.

Within the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, he is president of the Episcopal Pastoral Commission for the Laity and is currently president of the “Sul 4” Region, which includes the ecclesiastical circumscriptions of the State of Santa Catarina.


Anita Bourdin

‘Yemen Is Broken, Queen of Peace Pray for Us!’ Pleads Monsignor Hinder

“I beg those responsible to understand the gravity of the country’s situation,” Vatican Radio(Gabriella Ceraso) reported on June 27, 2020, the words of the Apostolic Vicar of Southern Arabia, Monsignor Paul Hinder, who is alarmed by the “absence of a stable truce in Yemen, at war since 2015, where the population is starving and tired.” He entrusted the country to the prayer of the Virgin Mary, under the title “Queen of Peace.”

“In face of human powerlessness, he entrusted the population to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, “Queen of Peace.” “For my part, I can only invoke the Queen of Peace so that you pray for Yemen and especially for those that have responsibilities to understand the gravity and force of the interior and exterior situation of Yemen. I don’t see how we can come out of it today: there are numerous organizations that try to do all they can for the population itself if what can be done in Aden won’t be possible at Sana’s and vice versa. It’s the tragedy of this country, a “broken” country. Hence, it’s essential to ensure security and stability so that the NGOs that collaborate with the Red Crescent, the only one working actively up to now, are able to continue to be active in all respects.”

Vatican Radio reports dramatic news: “Total economic collapse, is what Yemen faces because of the important cuts in international humanitarian aid, the delay in the transfer of funds, the weakening of the currency and the coronavirus pandemic. Over two million children are malnourished and 6,6000 children, under five, could die of avoidable causes between now and the end of the year, in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. A “disaster without precedent,” according to Mark Lowcock, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Coordinator of emergency aid of the United Nations (OCHA), who launched an appeal to donors to re-establish the funding. “The price of foodstuffs has increased by 10 to 20% over the last two weeks. Without injections of hard currency, this situation is going to worsen.”

Vatican Radio reported Monsignor Paul Hinder’s reaction. “According to the information available to me, it’s not so much money that is lacking, the neighboring countries and other countries are ready to donate or have already donated billions. The main problem is the lack of facilities and of reliable networks in the country to get aid through.”

Monsignor Hinder deplores the destruction of the country’s sanitation facilities and the insecurity that “renders transport difficult, sometimes impossible.” “The country’s division in at least three parts, of almost different jurisdictions, makes even more difficult effective and coordinated aid. Without a truce between the belligerents, all humanitarian operations will remain at least partially paralyzed.”


Larissa I. López

Gemelli Hospital: Pope Donates Bicycle for Oncology Children

Pope Francis donated an electric bicycle for a charity auction to pay for a children’s pilgrimage to Lourdes, from the Oncology Unit of the Gemelli Polyclinic of Rome, reported Vatican News.

The Holy Father’s private secretary, Monsignor Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, was in charge of handing this lovely present to the heads of the Rome-Lazio Section of UNITALSI (Italian Transport Union of the Sick to Lourdes and International Shrines), an organization of the Church, which accompanies and assists disabled, sick and elderly persons during pilgrimages.

The electric bicycle will be auctioned on UNITALSI’s portal, which has a special page explaining the bicycle’s technical characteristics as well as how to take part in the charity bid.

Given Pope Francis’ donation, the organization of volunteers said in a note: “It’s one more gesture of tenderness on the part of the Holy Father who in these years of pontificate has expressed benevolently and in different ways his closeness to UNITALSI.”

“Along with the gift, Pope Francis also gave psychological support to our volunteers, asking us to start again and giving us a stimulus to walk again, supporting us. For us it’s a ‘walk with you” and this is very important,” said Father Gianni Toni, Assistant of the Rome-Lazio Section of UNITALSI, during an interview with “Vatican News.”


 According to “Vatican News,” in these months of pandemic UNITALSI’s volunteers have made a great effort to stay close to the people, with gestures such as phone calls, or through messages of consolation and hope.

“We haven’t stopped over these months; the volunteers have been incessantly close to the sick in different ways. They are persons for whom it is essential to reaffirm their importance because every life is precious and rich in God’s eyes,” said Father Toni.

“The Pope’s words come to mind when he said there is no greater power than service. To serve a brother means to be by his side, to make daily life human.”

Now that it’s possible, the Italian organization hopes to start the pilgrimages again, such as that of Lourdes, in the month of August, and has proposed the mentioned initiative to raise funds for this purpose.

The Pope Is Always Close to Children

 Preziosa Terrinoni, President of the Rome-Lazio Section of UNITALSI, stressed that the Holy Father “is always close to the children and, in addition to spending time with them every time he visited the installations, a few years ago he also wished to receive them in a private visit to the Vatican.”

It was a special moment, which the Holy Father hasn’t forgotten, as “over the last days he thought of them, donating a cutting edge Piaggio electric bicycle,” pointed out UNITALSI.



US Bishop Raises Concerns About Death Penalty

Following the U.S. Attorney General’s decision to set new federal execution dates for four federal death row inmates beginning July 13, 2020, and the decision by the Supreme Court of the United States declining to hear their appeal, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, called on the Administration to reverse course on presiding over federal executions for the first time in 17 years.

Archbishop Coakley’s full statement follows:

“Now that the Supreme Court has declined to hear the appeals of four federal death row inmates and the Justice Department has set new execution dates beginning July 13, I reiterate the call made last July for the Administration to reverse course.

“As articulated to the Supreme Court in another case earlier this year, the bishops have been calling for an end to the death penalty for decades. Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis have all called for an end to the death penalty around the world. As Pope Francis articulated through the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the death penalty is unacceptable as an affront to the Gospel and to respect for human life. At their June 2019 meeting, the Catholic bishops of the United States voted overwhelmingly in affirmation of this position.

“Two of my brother bishops and I wrote. . . last year: ‘To oppose the death penalty is not to be “soft on crime.” Rather, it is to be strong on the dignity of life.’ To this end, I implore Attorney General Barr and President Trump to abandon this path to preside over the first federal executions in 17 years.”



CELAM Announces Birth of Ecclesial Conference of Amazon

The President of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos Vidarte, and President of the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network (REPAM), Cardinal Claudio Hummes, announced the birth of the Ecclesial Conference of the Amazon on June 29, the feast of the Apostles Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The statement explains: “This Assembly, conducted in an unprecedented way through digital channels, was a novelty of the Spirit, and is part of this promising Kairos that continues the synodal path to open new paths for the Church and for an integral ecology in the Pan-Amazonian region”.

The text of the press release, sent to Fides News Agency, underlines Pope Francis’ closeness to the entire process of creating this new ecclesial reality: “This feast of our Church is also a gesture of thanksgiving for the service of the Holy Father. The ecclesial conference is a gesture of hope associated with the Magisterium of Pope Francis, which has closely accompanied this whole process”.

The composition of this Assembly, the press release underlines, reflects the unity in the diversity of our Church and its appeal for ever greater synodality; unity expressed also by the precious presence and permanent accompaniment of important members of the Holy See who feel the closeness and direct relationship with the Synod of the Amazon and with the mission of the Church in this area.

The message announces the election of Card. Claudio Hummes, OFM (Brazil) as President and of Mgr. David Martínez de Aguirre, OP (Peru), as Vice President. Mgr Eugenio Coter (Bolivia) was elected in the Executive Committee as representative Bishop of the Episcopal Conferences of the Amazonian territory. The Conference underlines the important support of ecclesial bodies such as CELAM, REPAM, CLAR, and CARITAS ALyC. The conference has 3 representatives of indigenous peoples: Ms. Patricia Gualinga of the Kichwa-Sarayakú people (Ecuador); Sr. Laura Vicuña Pereira of the Kariri people (Brazil); and Mr. Delio Siticonatzi of the Asháninka people (Peru).