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Pope makes day trip to cloistered Poor Clares in Umbria

IMAGE: CNS photo/Holy See Press Office

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis left the Vatican Jan. 11 to visit a community of cloistered Poor Clare nuns in Umbria, the Vatican said.

The pope made the "private visit" to encourage the sisters and to share the Eucharist, prayer and a meal with them, said Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Vatican press office.

In some ways, Pope Francis was repaying a visit. Members of the Poor Clares of Santa Maria di Vallegloria in Spello, about 100 miles north of Rome, had visited Pope Francis in August 2016 at his Vatican residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

During the 2016 meeting, the pope personally gave the Poor Clares -- and symbolically all contemplative women religious -- in his document "Vultum Dei Quaerere" (Seeking the Face of God), which updated rules governing contemplative communities of women.

The Spello monastery traces its roots back to 560 when it was founded by several followers of St. Benedict; the community was re-formed in 1230 by two disciples of St. Clare of Assisi.

After a major earthquake in 1997, which heavily damaged the Church of Santa Maria di Vallegloria and the monastery, the sisters maintained their cloister by living in the garden first in tents then in portable homes. The church and monastery were reopened in 2011.

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Pope will go to Romania calling for unity, focus on the common good

IMAGE: CNS image/courtesy Holy See Press Office

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will make a three-day apostolic visit to Romania in late May, the Vatican announced.

Accepting invitations from President Klaus Iohannis and from Catholic leaders, the pope will visit the capital of Bucharest, the cities of Iasi and Blaj, and the Marian sanctuary in Sumuleu Ciuc in the Transylvanian region.

A detailed schedule for the trip May 31-June 2 will be released later, the Vatican said in a statement Jan. 11.

The theme of the visit is "Let's walk together," and the trip logo shows a group of faithful gathered together with an image of Mary behind them, representing her protection over "the people of God in Romania," the Vatican said.

"Romania is often called the 'garden of the Mother of God,'" a term also used by St. John Paul II during his visit there in 1999, it said.

It said Pope Francis' visit also will have this Marian aspect as an invitation to Christians to unite their efforts "under Our Lady's mantle of protection."

"The Holy Father has always called for the uniting of various forces, refusing selfishness and giving central importance to the common good. The Successor of Peter is going to Romania to invite everyone to unity and to confirm them in the faith."

The overwhelming majority -- almost 82 percent -- of Romania's 20 million inhabitants say they belong to the Romanian Orthodox Church. About 6 percent of the population identifies itself as Protestant and over 4 percent identify as Catholic, belonging either to the Romanian Catholic Church -- an Eastern rite -- or the Latin rite.

The trip will be Pope Francis' fifth in the first six months of 2019. He is scheduled to be in Panama Jan. 23-27 for World Youth Day; and he will go to Abu Dhabi Feb. 3-5, to Morocco March 30-31 and to Bulgaria and Macedonia May 5-7.

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

9 Days for Life Unites Over 100,000 Faithful in Prayer Ahead of Roe v. Wade Anniversary

WASHINGTON—Over one hundred thousand people nationwide have joined 9 Days for Life, the annual pro-life prayer and action campaign, beginning this year on January 14.
The novena is an opportunity for recollection and reparation in observation of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade—the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal throughout the United States.

The overarching intention of the novena is the end to abortion, but each day treats a different aspect of respecting the dignity of the human person—from the beginning of life to its natural end. Each daily intention highlights a related topic and is accompanied by a reflection, educational information, and suggested daily actions. The novena culminates on January 22, the annual Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.

Joining tens of thousands nationwide, participants can build a culture of life through prayer and sacrifice, and share their experiences on social media with the hashtag #9DaysforLife.
Those still hoping to participate can sign up at www.9daysforlife.com. Participants can choose to receive the novena via email, text message, a printable version, or through a free "9 Days for Life" mobile app (with customizable reminders) in English or Spanish.

9 Days for Life, sponsored by the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, began in 2013 in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

A press kit is available, and features video, audio, and graphics, among other resources.
For additional information and updates throughout the novena, please follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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Keywords: USCCB, Catholic, U.S. bishops, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Roe v. Wade, abortion, anniversary, Pro-Life, Prolife, Archbishop Naumann, 9 Days for Life, People of Life, #9daysforlife, prayer, novena

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

2019 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering to Equip Catholics to Restore and Reconcile; Address Racism, Poverty, Immigration

The 2019 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering, organized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and 16 collaborating organizations, attracts 500+ participants from around the country and seeks to equip current and emerging leaders in Catholic social ministry and advocacy to cultivate God’s justice in their communities and around the world. This year’s theme is "Let Justice Flow (cf. Am. 5:24): A Call to Restore and Reconcile.” Participants will focus on pressing domestic and international concerns such as racism, restorative justice, migration, and poverty. The final day of the gathering will be advocacy visits with representatives from the U.S. Congress.

When: February 2-5, 2019.
Where: Omni Shoreham Hotel, 2500 Calvert Street, NW, Washington DC, 20008.

Program and Speaker highlights include:
•  Sister Norma Pimentel, M.J., the Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, who oversees the charitable arm of the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas, and was instrumental in quickly organizing community resources to respond to the surge of Central Americans seeking asylum in the United States and setting up the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen, TX. As part of the Gathering, Sister Norma will receive the 2019 Sister Margaret Cafferty Development of Peoples Award, sponsored by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
•  Bishop Shelton J Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism. Bishop Fabre will facilitate a panel discussion with diverse leaders onOpen Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love, A Pastoral Letter Against Racism, and its implications for Church and society.
•  Elizabeth Hinton, Ph.D., author of award-winning book, From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America and currently the John L. Loeb. Associate Professor of the Social Sciences in the Department History and the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Hinton’s research focuses on the persistence of poverty and racial inequality in the 20th century United States.
•  Fr. Maurice Henry Sands, the Executive Director for the Black and Indian Mission Office in Washington, DC. Fr. Sands is a full-blooded Native American and member of the Ojibway, Ottawa and Potawatomi tribes, who are known together as Anishnaabe. Fr. Sands is passionate about addressing the issue of racism including as a Consultant to the USCCB Subcommittee on Native American Affairs and the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism.
•  Justice Janine P. Geske, previously a Distinguished Professor of Law at Marquette University Law School and Director of the Law School's Restorative Justice Initiative. A graduate of Marquette University Law School, she has been active in numerous civic and community activities. She frequently teaches at judicial, legal and community conferences on mediation, restorative justice, sentencing, evidence, the courts, and spirituality and work.
•  Elena Segura, Pastoral Migratoria founder and Senior Coordinator for Immigration in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Elena will participate in the racism panel discussion to share how the Hispanic/Latino is affected by the evil of racism and how the Pastoral Migratoria program is an example of the Church’s witness on welcoming migrants as it seeks to build bridges among communities including the participation of clergy.
•  Daniel Philpott, professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, who specializes in religion and global politics, with emphases on reconciliation, religious freedom, and theories of religious actors' political behavior. He has also participated in faith-inspired reconciliation efforts in some of the world’s worst conflict zones, including Kashmir and the Great Lakes region of Africa.
•  A plenary session, “Immigrants and Refugees Building Communities of Hope with the Catholic Campaign for Human Development,” featuring representatives from several CCHD-funded community organizations engaged in the work of empowering immigrants and refugees, including a worker center in Saint Cloud, MN, a worker cooperative in Brooklyn, NY, and a parish ID program in Baltimore, MD.

A full speaker list and schedule of events can be found online.

Joining the USCCB Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development in organizing the Gathering are numerous other USCCB departments and national Catholic organizations, including Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Rural Life, the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, Bread for the World, and others.

Coverage of the meeting is open to credentialed media. Reporters interested in covering the Gathering can download a credential application form and submit it by email.

More information is available online: www.catholicsocialministrygathering.org/.

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Catholic Social Ministry Gathering; Bishop Shelton J. Fabre; Ad Hoc Committee Against Racism, Committee on Justice, Peace and Human Development; Catholic Relief Services, CRS, Catholic Charities USA, CCUSA, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Catholic Rural Life, Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities; racial unrest, racism, immigration, restorative justice, Ferguson, environment, migration policy, poverty, peacebuilding, affordable housing

 

Update: Bishops describe their retreat as inspiring, Spirit-filled

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Although the weeklong retreat for U.S. Catholic bishops emphasized quiet reflection, several bishops spoke out on social media during the retreat and after it wrapped up Jan. 8 with positive reaction about it and to give shoutouts to the retreat leader, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, who has preached to popes and top officials of the Roman Curia for nearly 40 years.

One bishop said listening to Father Cantalamessa was akin to being in the presence of the early Christian theologians. "Clear, intensely filled with the Holy Spirit, and all for the Kingdom of God," Auxiliary Bishop Michael J. Boulette of San Antonio said in a tweet. "Let us continue to pray for one another, our church and our world. A blessing to be here!"

Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Anchorage, Alaska, tweeted that the retreat leader was a "true instrument of the Lord" and that the Holy Spirit was at work during the retreat.

Bishop Lawrence T. Persico of Erie, Pennsylvania, described Father Cantalamessa's talks and homilies as "powerful and engaging."

He tweeted that he was glad they had time to reflect and pray about their role as shepherds, stressing: "We must start there to be able to offer healing. I am taking this very seriously but feeling positive."

Boston Auxiliary Bishop Mark W. O'Connell said it was a "truly blessed experience" to be on retreat with Father Cantalamessa and fellow U.S. bishops.

"The Holy Spirit was powerfully present, and I was quite moved," he tweeted. He also thanked the pope for giving the bishops this gift.

Pope Francis suggested the bishops hold the retreat and offered the services of the 84-year-old Father Cantalamessa, who has served as preacher of the papal household since 1980. The time of prayer Jan. 2-8 at Mundelein Seminary at the University of St. Mary of the Lake near Chicago was planned largely in response to last summer's revelations of allegations of sex abuse that reached the highest levels of the U.S. church.

In a Jan. 8 column for Angelus News, the archdiocesan news outlet of Los Angeles, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles said the bishops' retreat leader focused "our attention on the vocation and responsibility of bishops in this moment in the church."

"We are praying together as a visible sign of our unity as bishops and our communion with the Holy Father. There is a collegial spirit here and a firm commitment to address the causes of the abuse crisis we face and continue the work of renewing the church," he added.

The archbishop said Father Cantalamessa asked them to "trust more in the Holy Spirit. We need to have confidence that we are always living in God's loving presence."

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Connecticut, wrote a few blog posts about the retreat with some reflection about the retreat leader's message.

He said they heard about the need to emphasize in their preaching the fundamental belief in Jesus before delving into his message and teachings.

He also said Father Cantalamessa emphasized the need to root out "love of money" and all that it implies, including material possessions, honor or power.

"If this pursuit for 'money' needs to be rooted out from our Christian lives, then we need to embrace a true spirit of detachment," the bishop wrote, adding that he would add more to that topic in the days ahead.

The theme of the U.S. bishops' retreat was "the mission of the apostles and of their successors" drawing from Mark 3:14, which says Jesus "appointed 12 -- whom he also named apostles -- that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach."

Reflections from the retreat do not seem to be about the crisis in particular, maybe for a reason.

In an email to Catholic News Service weeks before the retreat, Father Cantalamessa said he would "not talk about pedophilia and will not give advice about eventual solutions; that is not my task and I would not have the competence to do so."

"The Holy Father asked for my availability to lead a series of spiritual exercises for the episcopal conference so that the bishops, far from their daily commitments, in a climate of prayer and silence and in a personal encounter with the Lord, can receive the strength and light of the Holy Spirit to find the right solutions for the problems that afflict the U.S. church today," he added.

In a Jan. 9 column for the Chicago Catholic, the archdiocesan newspaper, Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich said the pope's intention for the retreat went beyond "this particular moment or challenge facing us bishops."

"We are not leaving this retreat with all the answers to the important questions facing the church in these days," he wrote, but he said the bishops now have a renewed sense of the importance of taking their cues from "Christ's spirit rather than our own efforts."

Another blessing from the week, he said, was being drawn closer to each other and to the pope.

"I have no doubt that just as the early church relied on Peter's unique ministry to meet the challenges of the day, so we will draw strength and insight from our unity with his successor," he said.

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

A global response to abuse: Work already underway, Jesuit says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- By summoning leaders of the world's bishops' conferences and top representatives of religious orders to the Vatican in February to address the abuse crisis and the protection of minors, Pope Francis is sending the message that the need for safeguarding is a global issue.

Even though media attention and public fallout for the church's failings have focused on a small group of nations, abuse experts and victims know that does not mean the rest of the world is immune from the scandal of abuse or can delay taking action to ensure the safety of all its members.

While Catholic leaders in some countries might not recognize it as a global issue, Vatican offices that receive abuse allegations have a "clear idea about what is the situation now because allegations come from all parts of the world," said Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, president of the Center for the Protection of Minors at the Pontifical Gregorian University and a member of the organizing committee for the February meeting.  

Because the Catholic Church mandates that all credible allegations of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy must be sent to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican, "we have one office that has to deal with all of this so, for the time being, we know what are the allegations that come from different parts of the world," he said.

Allegations coming in from the English- and German-speaking countries that have been the center of the abuse scandal for decades "have diminished considerably" because of the safeguarding measures that have been put in place, he told Catholic News Service in early January.

But in those countries where abuse has not been talked about in society and in the church until recently, he said, allegations are just beginning to surface.

The doctrinal congregation has never released statistics on the geographical distribution of the clerical sexual abuse cases reported to it; in the past, the congregation has published the total number of cases reported and the total number of priests expelled from the priesthood because of abuse.

The last figures published by the congregation were for cases submitted to it in 2015. It said 518 cases involving "graviora delicta" ("more grave crimes") were submitted in 2015; the majority of those cases dealt with the sexual abuse of minors, including the possession of child pornography, but the category of "graviora delicta" also includes serious offenses against the sacraments.

What is not known, however, is the actual extent of abuse throughout society, Father Zollner said.

"There are no clear and no scientifically verified statistics for the prevalence of sexual abuse in societies worldwide. There are only estimates that range from 7 percent to 25 percent of all young people in a given society and, in some countries, it may be even much worse," he said.

However, because abuse is a global phenomenon, he said, the church -- as a global network with people and institutions in every corner of the world -- is perfectly positioned to be part of the solution.

In fact, while the February summit is being designed to bring church leadership together in solidarity, humility and dialogue and to strengthen their commitment to serving the most wounded and vulnerable, a very wide and global grassroots effort in safeguarding has been underway for years.

The Pontifical Gregorian University, the German Archdiocese of Munich and Freising and others established the Center for Child Protection in 2012.

"At the very beginning of the CCP, when we had only the e-learning program, the idea was to spread" its online studies in multiple languages and make them accessible "to the whole world," he said.

The center also reached out to other educational and academic institutions so that coursework in safeguarding would become part of the "normal curricula" for those studying psychology, social sciences, teaching or theology, said Father Zollner, who is also academic vice rector of the Gregorian University and dean of its Institute of Psychology.

The center has since developed a global alliance of organizations -- starting with some pontifical and Catholic universities -- who are committed to working with local experts and exchanging concrete information.

The center also offers a multidisciplinary diploma course and master's program in safeguarding for priests, religious and laypeople from all over the world. The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples offers bishops' conferences in Africa and Asia full scholarships for either program for six people each year.

"This is very forward-looking because in those countries there are almost no resources either in society or in the church that have any kind of special training in this field," he said.

Graduates go back to their home countries, dioceses, orders or institutions, mostly to work in child protection, setting up programs, offering workshops and giving talks for church personnel and anyone who requests their help. In very poor or remote areas, sometimes they are the only experts available even for the government.

The feedback and reception safeguarding graduates have been getting back home, Father Zollner, "is very mixed because there is certainly a certain kind of reluctance and hesitancy and sometimes passive resistance" in some places.

One of the big challenges now, he said, is to give graduates "ongoing support so that they can push through and they can also exchange strategies that will help them and the church to really come to grips of the situation in their countries."

Father Zollner travels the world doing workshops and talks on child protection at the invitation of bishops' conferences and religious orders.

Just in the past year, he said, "I have been invited by the bishops' conferences of Papua New Guinea and Malaysia -- countries where just two or three years ago one would never have thought that there was any possibility to talk about (abuse) either in society or in church, and the church has started to face that now."

The international members of the papal commission on safeguarding also are invited to speak at seminars, conferences and workshops on every continent and provide education and insight, including survivors' testimonies to new bishops and staff at the Vatican.
 
Father Zollner said having skilled and motivated people on the ground to implement and share safeguarding measures will be very important for church leaders attending February's summit.

"Because once you have some good people, trained well and very committed, and all of them are really committed, you will find links to others, other church institutions and organizations and possible government structures, (then) you can really make a difference," he said.

It is a "very unfortunate" misconception that in most places nothing has been done in the area of safeguarding and prevention, Father Zollner said. "In many places in the world, safeguarding procedures are put in place, people are trained, schools, orphanages and so forth now have to have safeguarding training and screening of personnel."

"Again, this is not 100 percent present in all countries and in all institutions. Far from it," he said. "But there are very good examples of best practices even in areas where a few years ago no one would have had any clue about what to do and why to do what is necessary to protect minors."

Not all the world's roughly 200 countries are "doomed to repeat the same mistakes as the 20 countries or so that we know and talk about normally," he said. "I am positive especially about countries I visited in Central America or some parts of Africa and Asia where the bishops are really on board, the religious are on board; they have at least the potential to do it differently, to act before they are forced to act."

"The only choice they have is either we deal with it today, which needs courage and energy, or you will be forced or your successors will be forced to deal with it tomorrow," he said. "But there is no choice to avoid it or not to avoid it. You have to face it sooner or later."

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Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Vatican leaps into the world of sports

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican announced its plans to take a leap of faith into the wide world of sports with the creation of its first ever sports association.

The Vatican Athletic sports association, which will fall under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for Culture and its "Culture and Sport" section, was presented during a briefing at the Vatican press office Jan. 10.

According to a press release by the association, the idea to establish a Vatican sports team began with Vatican employees who met for their daily morning runs along the Tiber River.  

"The Secretariat of State allowed this 'community' of friends to be given a suitable and completely innovative legal form of Christian witness in the streets, literally 'going out' as Pope Francis asks, among the women and men who live the passion of sport," the statement said.

Vatican Athletic, it continued, is not just concerned with competing with other athletes but also committed to giving a "concrete Christian witness with spiritual initiatives" in the world of sports.

The association currently is made up of 60 athletes, ranging from 19 to 62 years old, who work in various Vatican offices or serve with the Swiss Guard. It has also welcomed "honorary members," including two young Muslim migrants and "several young people with disabilities."

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the pontifical council, told journalists the Vatican Athletic group represents a much-needed message of peace and unity in sports, which can sometimes be divisive.

The establishment of an official Vatican sports association also could open the possibility of athletes from the world's smallest state competing in future Olympic Games.

During the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, a Vatican delegation, led by Msgr. Melchor Sanchez de Toca Alameda, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture and the president of Vatican Athletic, was invited to take part in the opening ceremony of the Winter Games and attend its general meeting as an official observer.

While a Vatican delegation attended the opening of the Summer Olympics in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, the South Korea games marked the first time the Vatican was invited to attend an annual session of the Olympic committee.

Msgr. Sanchez, who is also a former modern pentathlete, said the Vatican would not field an Olympic team anytime soon, but there may be a glimmer of hope that the gold and white colors of the Holy See may be seen one day at the global sporting event.

"A Vatican team at the Olympics? Seeing the Vatican flag fly at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games is not a short or medium-term goal, but we aren't closing any doors," Msgr. Sanchez said. First, though, "I would like to participate in sporting events of symbolic value such as the Games of the Small States of Europe and the Mediterranean Games."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

National Prayer Vigil for Life Taking Place in Nation’s Capital, January 17-18; Plenary Indulgence May be Obtained

WASHINGTON—The National Prayer Vigil for Life will be held from Thursday afternoon, January 17 to Friday morning, January 18, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Over 20,000 pilgrims from around the nation will gather at the Shrine to pray for an end to abortion before the annual March for Life, taking place the following day. The Vigil marks the 46th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions legalizing abortion throughout the nine months of pregnancy. Since those decisions, over 60 million abortions have been performed legally in the United States.

The principal celebrant and homilist at the Vigil Opening Mass will be Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, KS, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities. Many of the nation's bishops and priests will concelebrate with him in the Basilica's Great Upper Church from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The Vigil continues in the Crypt Church with confessions, a National Rosary for Life, Byzantine Rite Night Prayer, and Holy Hours led by seminarians throughout the night and into the next morning. Morning Prayer on Friday, January 18, begins at 6:00 a.m. in the Crypt Church, followed by Benediction at 6:30 a.m. The Vigil's Closing Mass will take place at 7:30 a.m. in the Great Upper Church, with Bishop Barry Knestout of Richmond as principal celebrant and homilist.

“Again, this year, the Vatican has granted that a plenary indulgence may be obtained under the usual conditions by participating in the National Prayer Vigil for Life, as well as the other sacred celebrations surrounding the March for Life,” said Kat Talalas, assistant director for pro-life communications at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). “This is a special opportunity for grace offered to pilgrims for their witness, prayer, and sacrifice.”

For those seeking Sacramental Reconciliation while on site, confessions will be heard in Our Lady of Hostyn Chapel of the Crypt Church over the course of nine hours before and after the Opening Mass. See www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/january-roe-events/national-prayer-vigil-for-life-schedule.cfm for additional details.

"We also invite all the faithful nationwide to join in prayer for 9 Days for Life, from January 14-22," Talalas continued. "Over 100,000 people have already signed up to pray this novena for the respect of human life. Even if you cannot attend the Prayer Vigil or the March, you can always remain united in the cause of life through prayer.”

The National Prayer Vigil for Life is co-sponsored by the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, and The Catholic University of America.

Media are welcome to attend the Opening Mass and interview pilgrims taking part in the 14-hour Vigil.
Media should check in at the Basilica's Great Upper Church sacristy and present press credentials to Jacquelyn Hayes or a designated Basilica press representative to receive a press pass. Advance registration is preferred. Footage from the Mass may also be obtained by satellite feed courtesy of the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN). For coordinates, or to register, contact Jacquelyn Hayes, director of communications for the Basilica, at 202-281-0615 or jhayes@bnsic.org

For more details on the overnight National Prayer Vigil for Life and some of the other pro-life events in the Washington, DC area, visit www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/january-roe-events. To join -- and help spread the word about -- 9 Days for Life, visit www.9daysforlife.com.

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Keywords: National Prayer Vigil for Life, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, abortion, Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, U.S. Supreme Court, Archbishop Joseph Naumann, Bishop Barry Knestout , Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Secretariat, The Catholic University of America, cardinals, bishops, seminarians, Byzantine rite, rosary, adoration, benediction, 9 Days for Life, prayer, #9daysforlife, March for Life, #whywemarch, #marchforlife2019, #UniqueFromDayOne, Project Rachel, post-abortion healing, hopeafterabortion.com, plenary indulgence

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Media Contact:
Judy Keane
202-541-3200

 

Chairman of U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Migration Calls on President and Congress to Create a Border Solution and End Shut-Down

WASHINGTON—Bishop Joseph Vásquez, of Austin, Texas, Chairman of the Committee on Migration issued the following statement calling for the President and Congressional leaders to create a border solution and end the government shut-down.  

Bishop Vasquez’s full statement follows:

“Secure borders and humane treatment of those fleeing persecution and seeking a better life are not mutually exclusive. The United States can ensure both and must do so without instilling fear or sowing hatred. We will continue to advocate for immigration reform to advance the common good and address these issues.

Pope Francis states that migrants are not statistics, but persons with feelings that need ongoing protection. From our work serving immigrant and refugees along the U.S./Mexico border, in the interior of the United States and throughout the world, we know this to be true. We urge lawmakers to look beyond rhetoric and remember the human dignity that God our Father has given each of us simply because we are all His children.

The President and Congressional leaders need to come together and end the shut-down with a solution that recognizes the dignity of work of affected employees, respects the humanity of all regardless of immigration status, and protects the sanctity of human life.”

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops USCCB, Bishop Joseph Vásquez, Committee on Migration, President Trump, U.S. Congress, secure borders, humane treatment, Pope Francis, government, shut-down

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Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

Prayer has the power to change lives, hearts, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- God is a father who never ignores his children when they call to him in times of suffering, loneliness and despair, Pope Francis said.

Although at times it seems that "so many of our prayers seem to have no result," Christians are called by Christ to "insist and not give up," the pope said Jan. 9 during his weekly general audience.

"Prayer, prayer always changes reality, let us not forget that: It either changes things or changes our hearts, but it always changes," he said.

Arriving at the Paul VI audience hall, the pope greeted thousands of cheerful pilgrims, shaking hands, embracing children and even taking a sip of mate tea offered to him by a pilgrim.

Continuing his series of talks on the Lord's Prayer, the pope reflected on the disciples asking Jesus to teach them how to pray.

In teaching them to pray the "Our Father," he said, Jesus "explains to his followers in what words and with what feelings they must turn to God."

"Father -- that is such a beautiful word to say," the pope said. "We can pray just with that word, 'father,' and feel that we have a father; not a master but a father."

At important moments in his own life, Pope Francis explained, Jesus is "in an atmosphere of prayer" and guided by the Holy Spirit in his actions. He also prays for others, including "for Peter who will soon deny him."

"This consoles us, knowing that Jesus prays for us, he prays for me, he prays for each one of us so that our faith does not fail." the pope said. "We can also say to Jesus: 'You are praying for me; continue to pray because I need it.' (Pray) like that, with courage."

Even in his final moments, the pope added, Jesus is immersed in prayer, for example when consoling the women along the way of the cross, when promising the joys of paradise to the good thief and before taking his last breath.

"Jesus' prayer seems to dampen the most violent emotions, the desires for revenge and retaliation, he reconciles man with his most bitter enemy: death," he said.

When life seems incomprehensible, Pope Francis said, prayer "is ultimately the victory over loneliness and despair" because God is always present.

"What is at the end of our path, at the end of prayer, at the end of a time of prayer, at the end of life. What is there?" the pope asked. "There is a father, waiting for everything and everyone with open arms. Let us look at that father."

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