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‘The most welcoming place’ - How the Church can reach out to the LGBT community

Vatican City, May 23, 2018 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- Daniel Mattson is accustomed to talking about same-sex attraction.

He’s written a book on the subject, and he speaks to audiences often about his experience as a Catholic striving to follow the Church’s teaching about chastity. In a recent interview with CNA, Mattson offered some lessons the Church can learn about engagement with the LGBT community.

The first of these, he told CNA May 23, is having "the confidence that what the Church has is truly good news for the LGBT community.”

“That is what is lacking, and I just wish that we would not be afraid of it,” he said, encouraging Catholics to be open in talking about Church teaching.

The goal is not to proselytize, he said but to explain the truth and beauty of Church teaching on the issue - “not what you think it is, but what it really is,” he said.

Mattson mentioned the Gospel scene when in Jesus stops the execution by stoning of a woman caught in adultery.

“We cannot be more compassionate than Jesus,” he said, explaining that he often identifies with the woman in the story, who, though broken, meets Jesus and is invited to something more for her life.

The Church, Mattson said, must have “that welcoming message of Christ that says 'I do not have any condemnation for you, but go and sin no more.'” And part of sinning no more, he said, is an invitation “to a richer life.”

“I want to get the Church excited to talk about this,” Mattson said.

Mattson is the author of the 2017 book “Why I Don't Call Myself Gay,” which describes his experience with same-sex attraction and his decision to live according to Catholic moral teaching.

Visiting Rome for the launch of the Italian-language version of his book, Mattson gave a speech May 23 at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, during which he offered his testimony, sharing that he was raised in a Christian family, his experiences being bullied as a child, and the experience of sexual confusion during his childhood and teenage years.

He also spoke about an addiction to pornography and an anger towards God over his same-sex feelings, prompting him to leave his faith later in life, and live out his same-sex desires in partnerships. Mattson said doing so only made him feel unhappy and lonely, and said it wasn't until he turned to the Church that he found true fulfillment, by living out her teachings.

In his comments to CNA after, Mattson said personal witness is the key to reaching out to people experiencing same-sex attraction.

In this sense, he said, the Church needs to give more visibility to the people with same-sex attraction who have opted to live celibate lives. He pointed to Courage International, an organization that counsels individuals with same-sex attraction who chose to live according to Church teaching.

“We're just sitting over here quietly abiding by every word of the Catholic Church and finding it to be the recipe for happiness, and we don't get much attention,” Mattson said.

The people who have tried living the LGBT lifestyle and “found it empty,” he said, “want to share what we found with the LGBT community and invite them into the full community of the family of God.”

Mattson said that while he has been called “crazy” or “internally homophobic” for speaking out, “I just have to laugh that off.”

Mattson said those who describe Catholicism as “homophobic” usually imply that the Church is somehow a “hateful place” with no room for people with same-sex attraction.

However, “the opposite is exactly the case for me. I have never felt more welcomed in my life than in the arms of Holy Mother Church.”

“It's the most welcoming place,” he said, “and it's sad if people want to use the language of the world to say that, to use that word and say that the Church doesn't have a place or that it isn't welcoming. For me, it's been the exact opposite.”

When asked by a priest in the audience how pastors ought to react to people who come to them and confide having same-sex attraction and feelings, Mattson stressed the importance of creating “an environment that is safe,” since many of these people already carry many wounds.

The fact that a person feels they can open up to begin with is a positive sign, he said, explaining that most people with same-sex attraction are afraid that “they will be treated with disgust” if they open up about it, so knowing they have a safe space to talk is key.

Mattson also mentioned Pope Francis, telling CNA Pope Francis has been clear about the Church's teaching, and explaining his belief that Francis' message is often manipulated by the media “to serve their own agenda.”

Mattson said he always remembers the pope's comments on his flight back from Rio de Janeiro in 2013 when he said that he is “a son of the Church.”

“If you really look at what he's said, he's been very clear about same-sex marriage over the years, he's been very clear that chastity is an important virtue,” he added.

“He's said he's a son of the Church and I'm confident in that,” Mattson said, and voiced his hope that one day he would be able to meet the pope and tell him “how the Church has been a mother to me and has guided me to happiness and freedom.”

Mattson also expressed support for the view that sexuality doesn't define a person's life, and stressed that using labels such as “gay” or “straight” reduce a person to their sexuality, since in the end everyone is ultimately a child of God.

“The truth is that my sexual identity is (that of) a man, just like Adam, just like Abraham, David, just like every other man that has walked the face of the earth, I'm not a different sort of sexual person than they were,” he told journalists.

“The Church's teaching is that you are identified as a beloved son of God, that has been the experience for me.”

 

Humanae Vitae needs no update, commission chair says

Vatican City, May 23, 2018 / 02:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The professor who chaired a Vatican study group on Humanae Vitae stressed that the Bl. Paul VI’s encyclical “needs no updating.”
 
Professor Gilfredo Marengo, of the Pontifical Theological Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, spoke with CNA at the presentation of his latest book, “Chiesa senza storia, storia senza Chiesa” (Church without history, history without the Church), which explores the implications and consequences of Gaudium et Spes, the Second Vatican Council’s pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world.
 
Professor Marengo told CNA that, according to his studies, “one of the biggest knots in drafting Humanae Vitae was really that of going beyond the polarization between doctrine and pastoral issues.”
 
Professor Marengo added that Blessed Pope Paul VI “focused on this knowledge, and worked a lot to take the encyclical out of that polarization.”
 
Unfortunately, he said, polarization has increased in recent years, but, added that “the question cannot be solved by imagining a new doctrine or a new pastoral activity, but by going beyond the polarization.”
 
Professor Marengo stressed that “Humanae Vitae is an authoritative document of the Catholic Church, and it is part of the tradition. We are called to welcome it as it is, and to apply it with an intelligent pastoral plan.”
 
However, despite being “the most discussed encyclical in the last 50 years,” there is “no need to update it,” Professor Marengo stressed.
 
In the end, all that discussion might be framed into a general debate that took place after the Second Vatican Council, he said.

Professor Marengo heads a study group undertaking a historical-critical investigation into the drafting of Humanae Vitae. The aim is to reconstruct, as well as possible, the whole process of drafting the document.
 
As is widely known, the drafting of Humanae Vitae endured several pressures before its publication and even after its publication.

Beyond Professor Marengo, the study group on Humanae Vitae is reportedly composed of Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri, head of the John Paul II Institute, Philippe Chenaux, a professor of Church history at the Pontifical Lateran University, and Msgr. Angelo Maffeis, head of the Paul VI Institute in Brescia.

In 2017, Professor Marengo told reporters that the group was given access to the Vatican Secret Archives for mid-1960s, the time of Humanae Vitae's drafting.
 
Professor Marengo told CNA that “the Second Vatican Council has facilitated the resolution of polarization between pastoral and doctrinal issues.”
 
He added that Pope Francis “is investing a lot in this resolution,” as “one of the most meaningful aspects of Pope Francis’ biography is that he is the first post-conciliar pope: all the [recent] previous popes participated to the Council, but this pope did not, and so he can look at the Council with a less emotional viewpoint.”

 

The Holy Spirit makes our works effective, Pope Francis says

Vatican City, May 23, 2018 / 05:45 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Holy Spirit helps Catholics to do good works by giving them the gifts they need to be effective 'salt and light' in the world, Pope Francis said at the general audience Wednesday.

Like Jesus said: “You are the salt of the earth… you are the light of the world,” the pope said May 23, explaining that the images of salt and light “make us think of our conduct, because both the lack and the excess of salt make food disgusting, as the lack and the excess of light prevent us from seeing.”

“Who can really make us salt that gives flavor and preserves from corruption, and light that enlightens the world?” he asked. “It is only the Spirit of Christ!”

Explaining that at the moment of Confirmation the bishop says, “Receive the Holy Spirit, which has been given to you,” Francis said the sacrament is “a great gift of God, the Holy Spirit within us.”

“The Spirit is in our heart, is in our soul. And the Spirit guides us in life, so that we become the right [amount of] salt and the right [amount of] light for men.”

Pope Francis spoke about Confirmation after concluding his weekly reflections on Baptism, which he said is “the first step.” After Baptism, “it is then necessary to behave as children of God, that is, to conform to Christ who works in the holy Church,” he said.

“If in Baptism it is the Holy Spirit that immerses us in Christ, in Confirmation it is Christ who fills us with his Spirit,” he said. In Confirmation, Christ consecrates Catholics “as his witnesses, partakers of the same principle of life and mission, according to the plan of the heavenly Father.”

Becoming involved in Christ’s mission in the world: “This is what the anointing of the Holy Spirit provides,” he continued.

The pope also explained that the sacrament is called “Confirmation” because it “confirms Baptism and strengthens its grace,” noting that in the Italian language, the sacrament is called “Cresima,” to recall the anointing with chrism oil, which confers the power of the Holy Spirit.

It is also appropriate to speak about Confirmation following the celebration of Pentecost, the pope said, because the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples calls to mind the infusion of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation.

“Pentecost, which we celebrated last Sunday, is for the Church what for Christ was the anointing of the Spirit received at the Jordan, or the missionary impulse to consume the life for the sanctification of men, to the glory of God.”

If in every sacrament the Spirit works, it is especially in Confirmation that “the faithful receive the Holy Spirit as a gift,” he concluded. “Christian witness consists in doing only and all that the Spirit of Christ asks of us, granting us the strength to do it.”

At the end of the general audience, Francis pointed out that Thursday, May 24, is the feast day of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “Help of Christians,” which is particularly venerated at the Shrine of Our Mother of Sheshan near Shanghai, China.

This feast day “invites us to be spiritually united to all the Catholic faithful who live in China,” he said, praying for Chinese Catholics, that through the intercession of Our Lady, they would live their faith “with generosity and serenity… fraternity, concord and reconciliation, in full communion with the Successor of Peter.”

“Dearest disciples of the Lord in China, the universal Church prays with you and for you, so that even among the difficulties you may continue to entrust yourselves to God's will. Our Lady will never fail to help you and guard you with her motherly love.”

Dolan: Pope’s reported remarks to gay man, while ‘beautiful,’ could require clarification  

New York City, N.Y., May 22, 2018 / 08:30 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archbishop of New York said Tuesday that while some recent comments about homosexuality attributed to Pope Francis are “orthodox teaching,” the pope's reported remarks could require clarification.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan affirmed the pope’s recent affirmation of God’s love for a gay man with whom the pontiff visited in Rome, saying: “Jesus would have said that, and so would I. That’s conservative, traditional, Catholic, orthodox teaching. The ‘Catechism’ insists on that.”

“While any sexual expression outside of a man and woman in marriage is contrary to God's purpose, so is not treating anyone, including a gay person, with anything less than dignity and respect,” Dolan added, speaking May 22 during his weekly radio show on Sirius XM’s The Catholic Channel.

“What he says is beautiful, don’t you think?” Dolan asked.

The remarks were a response to questions about  Juan Carlos Cruz, a Chilean victim of sexual abuser Fr. Fernando Karadima, who told the Spanish newspaper El Pais on Friday that Pope Francis told him that it did not matter that he was gay.

“He told me ‘Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like that and he loves you like that and I do not care. The Pope loves you as you are, you have to be happy with who you are,’" Cruz recalled.

Asked about the most controversial aspect of the Holy Father’s remarks, regarding whether God wills that someone experience same sex attraction, Dolan was circumspect, citing “ongoing debate” among “professional circles.”

“Is one born that way, or is it - is it nature or nurture?... I don't think the Holy Father would feel competent to speak on that.”

Dolan noted that while he had no reason to doubt Cruz’s account, the pope’s reported remarks were “third hand: what the pope said to him, he said to the press, so one would want to get a clarification.”

He said his remarks were qualified by “a little bit of ‘wait and see’” adding “let’s find out exactly what the Holy Father said.”

 

Pope to meet in June with Chilean clerical abuse victims

Vatican City, May 22, 2018 / 02:51 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis will meet for three days next month with victims of a Chilean priest who committed sexual abuse as well as abuse of power and conscience, in an effort to respond to the country's clerical sex abuse crisis.

The Holy See press office stated May 22 that Pope Francis will receive a second group of victims of Fr. Fernando Karadima and his followers at the Vatican's Santa Marta guesthouse June 1-3.

The group of nine includes five priests who were victims of abuse of power, conscience, and sexuality; two priests who have been assisting the victims; and two lay people.

Most of those coming to the Vatican participated in Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta's investigation of abuse cover-up by the hierarchy in Chile, whick took place in February. The others worked with the investigation after the archbishop's time in Chile.

“With this new meeting, scheduled a month ago, Pope Francis wants to demonstrate his closeness to abused priests, to accompany them in their pain and to listen to their valuable views to improve the current preventive measures and the fight against abuses in the Church,” the Holy See press office said.

The meeting will conclude the pope's first round of meetings with the victims of abuses which occurred at Karadima's Sacred Heart parish in Santiago.

“These priests and lay people represent all the victims of abuses by clerics in Chile, but it is not ruled out that similar initiatives may be repeated in the future.”

The visit will include various meetings “which will take place in an atmosphere of trust and confidentiality.” Pope Francis will say Mass for the group June 2, after which there will be a group meeting, followed by individual conversations.

“The Holy Father continues to ask the faithful of Chile – and especially the faithful of the parishes where these priests carry out their pastoral ministry – to accompany them with prayer and solidarity during these days.”

Francis had met with three more of Karadima's victims, Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton, and Andres Murillo, at the Vatican April 27-30. Cruz, who has same-sex attraction, told a Spanish newspaper May 20 that the pope had told him to accept himself and his attraction, because God made him that way.

Karadima was convicted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2011 of abusing minors, and sentenced to a life of prayer and penance. He has not been sentenced by civil courts because of Chile's statue of limitations.

A sacerdotal association which Karadima had led, the Priestly Union of the Sacred Heart, was suppressed within a year of his conviction.

Attention to Karadima's abuse has heightened since the 2015 appointment of Bishop Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid to the Diocese of Osorno. Barros had been accused of covering up Karadima's abuses.

Pope Francis initially defended Barros, saying he had received no evidence of the bishop's guilt, and called accusations against him “calumny” during a trip to Chile in January. He later relented, and sent Scicluna to investigate the situation in Chile.

After receiving Scicluna's report, Francis apologized, said that he had been seriously mistaken, and asked to meet the country's bishops and more outspoken survivors in person.

He met with Chile's bishops May 15-17. As a result, each of them tendered letters of resignation, which Pope Francis has yet to accept or reject. The pope also gave the bishops a lettter chastising them for systemic cover-up of clerical abuse and calling them to institute deep changes.

On May 19, Bishop Alejandro Goić Karmelić of Rancagua suspended several priests after allegations of sexual misconduct were raised against them. He also apologized for not following up when the accusations were first brought to his attention.

Commentary: Did the pope say that God made someone gay?

Denver, Colo., May 21, 2018 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- I am not a priest or deacon, or even a counselor or pastoral care worker. But in more than a decade of full-time work in the Church, I’ve often sat with people who are confronting some difficult cross they have to carry, some heavy burden that’s been placed upon them.

I’ve found that the question people most often ask is “why?”

“Why did my spouse abandon me and my children?”

“Why did my baby die?”

“Why do I face these temptations? Why did God make me this way?”

“Why?” is the most common question. And it’s the question that we’re usually least equipped to answer.

We do well with “what” and “how” questions, but “why” is harder.

“What am I supposed to do now?” - “Follow the teachings of the Church, and give the anguish and the suffering to Jesus.”

“How can I live this way?” - “Trust in the Lord, stay close to the sacraments, lean on the community of the Church- on saints, family, friends, pastors, and counselors.”

Why did this happen to me?” - “I...I don’t know.”

We all want coherent and sensible narratives to explain the circumstances of our lives. Looking for those narratives seems to be a part of coping with difficulty or tragedy. But sometimes there are no clear answers. And sometimes, when we can’t find them, we create them in our minds- we call this the narrative fallacy.

The essayist Nassim Taleb says that the narrative fallacy “addresses our limited ability to look at sequences of facts without weaving an explanation into them, or, equivalently, forcing a logical link, an arrow of relationship upon them.”

A few years ago, I sat with a woman who had suffered terrible abuse. She was talking with me about her experience. Eventually, she told me that God had wanted her to suffer, to test her faithfulness to the Gospel. She told me her pastor had told her that was true.

Her pastor was a friend of mine. I doubted he believed that God proactively willed that this woman would be abused. I called him and asked him if he’d said that.

“No,” he told me. “She said that. I sat there quietly listening, trying to decide what I should say next. But before I got a chance, the conversation ended.”

I thought of that woman and her pastor when I read that a Chilean, Juan Carlos Cruz, told the Spanish newspaper El Pais that Pope Francis said that God had made him gay.

After being reported in the media, what the pope might have said has become the subject of speculation, of misapplication, of misunderstanding, and criticism.

It must be said that God loves each one of us. God is love. He created us in love, and sustains us in love. God reveals truth to us - truth about ourselves, and about his plan for us - because he loves us.
 
The Church teaches that same-sex attraction is a “disordered” inclination, which distorts God’s plan for our sexuality. Disordered inclinations come from the disordering effects of Adam’s fall - same-sex attraction is not a choice, it may even have genetic components, but it is not consistent with God’s positive will for the experience or expression of our sexuality.

God gives us the grace to bear our crosses, he permits that they exist and that we carry them, and through Christ, he transforms us in holiness as we carry our crosses. But it would be a cruel God who actively imposed on us the suffering that comes from disorder. And God is not cruel.

It is not immoral to experience same-sex attraction, which, the Church recognizes, often constitutes a “trial”- a cross. But all people, no matter their attractions, are called to express their sexuality in accord with the teaching of the Church, and with the virtue of chastity.

There is every reason to believe that Pope Francis knows those things and believes them. He teaches them, in fact, with regularity. While we don’t know what Pope Francis said in a private, pastoral moment, it is unfair to presume that he would willfully give counsel that contravenes the teachings of the Church.

What Pope Francis said might have been misreported, or it might have been accurately reported in its entirety. But it’s most likely that, in the difficulty of a pastoral moment, what the pope said, or attempted to say, was somehow unclear, confused, or misunderstood.  

We may not know what the pope said, or didn’t say. He may choose to clarify it, or it may continue to be the subject of speculation. But from Catholics, at least, the pope deserves the benefit of the doubt, with some understanding for the challenge of teaching complex theological concepts in intimate pastoral moments, and understanding for the challenge of receiving and comprehending those concepts.

In a private meeting with a man who carries many crosses, including some imposed by abuse at the hands of a priest, the pope gave a reminder of God’s love, and of the Church’s love. Beyond that, we are unlikely to be sure what was said. But in charity, we should presume the best of the pope, and pray for him, for Mr. Cruz, and for all those who might doubt the Lord’s love, or ask the oft-unanswerable question: “Why?


This commentary reflects the opinions of the author, and does not necessarily reflect an editorial position of Catholic News Agency.

 

Analysis: With new appointments, Pope Francis puts his mark on the College of Cardinals

Vatican City, May 21, 2018 / 12:32 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis’ fifth consistory marks an important shift within the College of Cardinals: it is the first time in the five years of this pontificate that in a possible future conclave the number of cardinals created by Pope Francis will surpass the number of cardinals created by his predecessors.
 
As of April, the College of Cardinals is composed this way: there are 48 voting cardinals created by Pope Francis, 48 by Benedict XVI and 19 created by John Paul II, for a total of 115 voting cardinals.
 
After the June 29 consistory, the number of cardinals created by Pope Francis will be 59, and the total number of voting cardinals will be 125.

Only cardinals younger than 80 have the right to vote in a conclave. On June 8, Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation of the Cause of Saints, will turn 80, and so at the moment of the consistory there will there will be 47 voting cardinals created by Benedict XVI.
 
That means that Pope Francis has made the decision to surpass the limit of 120 voting cardinals set by Paul VI and confirmed by John Paul II. He did so also at the last consistory, in June 28, 2017, when Pope Francis created 5 new cardinals, all of them below the age of 80, that raised the total number of voting cardinals to 121.
 
Some other figures are revealing.
 
Since the very first consistory, Pope Francis wanted to show a universal Church by tapping for a “red hat” bishops or archbishops from countries that had never before been represented by a cardinal.
 
This consistory is slightly different, as Pope Francis picked countries that have been already had cardinals. Japan, Pakistan, Madagascar, and Iraq are back in the sacred college, after a long absence. With their presence there are now 87 countries represented in the College of Cardinals.
 
Europe is now the most represented continent, and will still be: after the next consistory, there will be 53 European voting cardinals. Latin America has a new representative in the sacred college, so there will be 13 Latin American voting cardinals; Africa will climb to 16 cardinals and Asia to 17 cardinals. North America will have 17 cardinals and Central America 5, while Oceania will keep 4 red birettas.
 
The roster of the pope’s new cardinals do not include any bishops from North America. It is particularly surprising that Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles will not be created a cardinal, given that his predecessor, Cardinal Roger Mahony, has already turned 82.
 
Even if it is Pope Francis’ unwritten rule to avoid creating cardinals in diocese that already have an elector, Los Angeles does not fit the bill.
 
The rationale could be that of representativeness: with 10 voting cardinals, the United States is second only to Italy as the most represented country in the College of Cardinals. This consideration might have weighed in Pope Francis’ decision.
 
Another point is also noteworthy: Pope Francis rarely makes cardinals in dioceses generally considered cardinalatial posts. So, Japan will be represented, but the cardinal will not be the Archbishop of Tokyo, as usual, but instead Archbishop Thomas Aquinas Manyo of Osaka. Madagascar is not represented by the Archdiocese of Antananarivo, its capital city, but by Archbishop Desiré Tsarahazana of Toamasina.
 
The appointment of the fourth cardinal from Madagascar – the first was Jérôme Louis Rakotomalala, created by Paul VI in 1969, and the most recent was Armand Razafindratandra, who died in 2010  – shows a particular concern for the Church in Madagascar, and might also pave the way to a Pope Francis’ visit to the African country.
 
There are clues supporting that possibility.
 
Bishop Gilbert Aubry, Bishop of Reunion and president of the Indian Ocean Bishops’ Conference, which met Pope Francis for their ad limina visit Apr. 9, said May 10 in an interview with Antenne Reunion that a papal visit in Madagascar might be scheduled for 2019. It would be the second visit of a Pope to Madagascar, and would mark the 30th anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II’s 1989 visit.
 
Giving a wider glance at the list, it is easy to see many of Pope Francis’ main concerns. His focus on the Middle East is borne out in the fact that Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako of the Chaldeans is the first of the list, even before Archbishop Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and one of the three cardinals from the Roman Curia among the new red hats.
 
The appointment of Patriarch Sako as a cardinal shows the Pope’s attention to Iraq, and to suffering Churches - the Pope also appointed as a cardinal Syria’s nuncio, Mario Zenari, in the 2016 consistory.

Patriarch Sako recently said that he invited the pope to visit Iraq, during a visit with Francis in February. A papal visit to Iraq has been studied for years, and is considered likely to happen, once security issues can be solved.
 
Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi, Pakistan, will also get the red hat: Pope Francis learned of the difficult situation of Pakistan speaking with Pakistani bishops in their ad limina visit March 15, and the red birretta likely aims to give more attention to a small Catholic community who is also targeted by the blasphemy laws.
 
The Roman Curia got three red hats: beyond the appointment of Archbishop Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Pope appointed as cardinals Archbishops Giovanni Angelo Becciu and Konrad Krajewski.
 
This latter is the Papal Almoner, and he will apparently keep his post. It seems the pope wants to give to the office of the Papal Almoner the highest rank, emphasizing the work with poor. During recent years, the Papal Almoner has been promoter of many initiatives for poor, including a laundromat (“The Pope Francis laundry”) and a dormitory for the homeless.
 
The red hat given to Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, deputy to the Secretariat of State, might anticipate Archbishop Becciu’s appointment as Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, to replace Cardinal Amato, who will soon retire.
 
This would means, as a side effect, that there could be a further reshuffle within the Secretariat of State, with a new deputy, after the pope appointed Msgr. Joseph Murphy as new head of protocol March 22.

Archbishop Becciu is also one of the three new Italian cardinals.

Archbishop Angelo De Donatis, the Pope’s vicar for the diocese of Rome, will be a cardinal. This appointment negates rumors that Pope Francis did not want his vicar in Rome, who oversees the leadership of the Diocese of Rome, to be a cardinal. Actually, the pope’s vicar is supposed to be a cardinal, according to a consistorial decree issued by Pope Paul IV in the 16th century.
 
With this appointment, the Diocese of Rome could have even more impact in a future conclave, considering that Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Archbishop De Donatis predecessor as Pope’s vicar of Rome, is 78, and so he still has the right to vote in a conclave.
 
As the Pope already did with the bishops of Ancona, Perugia and Agrigento, a red birretta will go to another Italian archbishop from a traditionally non-cardinatial diocese: Giuseppe Petrocchi of L’Aquila, the city still rebuilding after a huge earthquake in 2009.
 
It is noteworthy that Archbishops of Turin and Patriarch of Venice still have not gotten the red birretta, though their archdioceses have been traditionally led by cardinals. The Patriarch of Venice, as a patriarch, can wear red vestments,however, although he is not a cardinal.
 
The pope did not include in the list the new Archbishop of Milan, Mario Delpini. However, Archbishop Delpini’s predecessor at the helm of the world biggest diocese, Cardinal Angelo Scola, is still below 80.
 
Pope Francis also awarded with a red hat to Bishop Antonio Marto, of Leiria-Fatima, Portugal. He is the first cardinal from the diocese of the apparitions, and he is created cardinal one year after Pope Francis was in Fatima for the 100th anniversary of the apparitions and for the canonization of the two visionaries.
 
Perhaps the pope wanted to show his deep personal devotion to the Fatima message.
 
The list of new cardinals includes only one representative from Latin America, Archbishop Pedro Barretto from Huancayo, Peru. The pope and Archbishop Barreto met in the 80s. Archbishop Barreto is vice president of the Peruvian bishops’ conference and represents the Latin American bishops’ conference (CELAM) within REPAM, the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network. His appointment is likely intended to give more weight to preparations for the 2019 Special Synod for Pan-Amazonian Region.

 

Pope Francis: Like Mary, the Church is a mother

Vatican City, May 21, 2018 / 09:53 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis celebrated the first feast of Mary, Mother of the Church Monday saying that without the emphasis placed on motherhood, the Church would be isolated, composed of no more than “old bachelors.”

“Without this dimension, it sadly becomes a church of old bachelors, who live in this isolation, incapable of love, incapable of fecundity. Without the woman, the Church does not advance – because she is a woman. And this attitude of woman comes from Mary, because Jesus willed it so.”

In his homily during Mass May 21, Pope Francis said “the Church is feminine, because it is 'church' and 'bride,'” both of which are grammatically feminine in the Italian language.

The Church is also a mother, “she gives life,” he said, adding that only a feminine Church would be able to have a truly “fruitful attitude” in accordance with the will of God, who chose “to be born of a woman in order to teach us the path of woman.”

“The important thing is that the Church be a woman, that [it] has this attitude of a bride and of a mother,” he said, adding that “when we forget this, it is a masculine Church.”

Pope Francis spoke during his Mass said in the chapel of the Vatican's Saint Martha guesthouse, marking the first liturgical celebration of the feast of Mary, Mother of the Church, which he established in March.

According to the March 3 decree implementing the feast, it was established in order to help encourage growth in “the maternal sense of the Church” and in “genuine Marian piety.” It is celebrated on the Monday after Pentecost.

It was also established, the decree said, to help the Church “remember that growth in the Christian life must be anchored to the Mystery of the Cross, to the oblation of Christ in the Eucharistic Banquet and to the Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the Redeemed.”

The title “Mother of the Church,” was given to the Blessed Mother by Bl. Paul VI.

In his homily, Pope Francis noted that in the Gospels, Mary is not referred to as “the lady” or “the widow of Joseph,” but is rather called “the mother of Jesus.”

Mary's motherhood is emphasized throughout the Gospels, from the Annunciation to the foot of the cross, he said, explaining that the fathers of the Church realized this attention to motherhood is not just applied to Mary, but can be applied to the entire Church.

The Church itself is feminine, he said, noting that the fathers of the Church say, “even your soul is the bride of Christ and mother.”

“It is with this attitude that comes from Mary, who is Mother of the Church, with this attitude we can understand this feminine dimension of the Church,” the pope said, adding that if this aspect is lost, “the Church loses its identity and becomes a charitable organization or a football team, but not the Church.”

Francis said the primary distinctive quality of a woman is tenderness, which can be seen in Mary's act of wrapping her newborn son “in swaddling clothing” and laying him in the manger in Bethlehem.

In this action, Mary cared for Christ with meekness and humility, the strongest virtues mothers possess, he said, explaining that “a Church that is a mother goes along the path of tenderness.”

“It knows the language of such wisdom of caresses, of silence, of the gaze that knows compassion,” he said, explaining that this attitude is also representative of those people who live as part of the Church, knowing that they are “[like] a mother [and] must go along the same path: a person [who is] gentle, tender, smiling, full of love.”

Chilean abuse victim: Pope told me to accept being gay, God made me this way

Vatican City, May 20, 2018 / 09:55 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A victim of the Chilean clergy abuse crisis who met privately with Pope Francis told a Spanish news source that the Pope told him to accept himself and his same-sex attraction, because God made him that way.

Juan Carlos Cruz, a victim of Chilean abuser Fr. Fernando Karadima, met with Pope Francis privately in April after being invited to the Vatican along with other victims of abuse.

In comments to the press on May 2, Cruz said that the Pope was “sincere, attentive and deeply apologetic for the situation [of sexual abuse].”

“For me, the pope was contrite, he was truly sorry,” Cruz said. “I felt also that he was hurting, which for me was very solemn, because it's not often that the pope says sorry to you...he said, 'I was part of the problem, I caused this and I apologize.'”

In a later interview with Spanish newspaper El País, Cruz was asked whether he and Pope Francis had spoken about homosexuality during their meeting, as Cruz identifies as gay.

Cruz confirmed that they did speak about homosexuality, and that he explained to the Pope that he is not a bad person and tries not to hurt anybody.

“He told me ‘Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like that and he loves you like that and I do not care. The Pope loves you as you are, you have to be happy with who you are,’" Cruz recalled.

The comment is controversial because it evokes a theological debate about the causes of homosexuality.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that people with homosexual tendencies “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”

The Catechism also states that “deep-seated” homosexual inclination is "objectively disordered," and that homosexual acts are “acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

The Vatican has not yet confirmed or clarified the comments that Cruz said the Pope made regarding homosexuality.

 

 

This story has been updated after its original publication.

 

Pope on Pentecost: The power of the Holy Spirit changes hearts

Vatican City, May 20, 2018 / 07:58 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Though people may promise to change things, it is the third person of the Holy Trinity that creates real change through the reinvigoration and renewal of hearts, Pope Francis said on Pentecost Sunday.

“Plenty of people promise change, new beginnings, prodigious renewals, but experience teaches us that no earthly attempt to change reality can ever completely satisfy the human heart,” the pope said May 20.

“Yet the change that the Spirit brings is different. It does not revolutionize life around us, but changes our hearts.”

This change, Francis continued, does not take away all of our problems, but “liberates us within so that we can face them. It does not give us everything at once, but makes us press on confidently, never growing weary of life. The Spirit keeps our hearts young.”

Speaking during Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the Solemnity of Pentecost, Pope Francis noted that when Catholics want to bring about real change in their lives, they should pray to the Holy Spirit.

“Who among us does not need a change? Particularly when we are downcast, wearied by life’s burdens, oppressed by our own weakness, at those times when it is hard to keep going and loving seems impossible,” the pope said.

In those moments, people need a powerful “jolt” or “reinvigoration” of the Spirit, he stated, pointing out how in the creed, Catholics profess that the Holy Spirit is the “giver of life.”

“How good it would be for us each day to feel this jolt of life!” he encouraged. “To say when we wake up each morning: ‘Come, Holy Spirit, come into my heart, come into my day.’”

Just as wind brings change to the environment – “warmth when it is cold, cool when it is hot” – the Holy Spirit, “on a very different level, does the same.”

“He is the divine force that changes the world,” Francis stated.

Reflecting on the Acts of the Apostles, and how the power of the Holy Spirit sent the disciples to preach and convert pagans in different lands, including Philip who was sent “from Jerusalem to Gaza,” the pope exclaimed: “How heartrending that name [Gaza] sounds to us today! May the Spirit change hearts and situations and bring peace to the Holy Land.”

After Mass, Pope Francis led the Regina Coeli in St. Peter’s Square, where he also prayed for Jerusalem, saying he was spiritually united to a prayer vigil which took place May 19 in Jerusalem for Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

“Today we continue to invoke the Holy Spirit to inspire the will and gestures of dialogue and reconciliation in the Holy Land and Middle East,” he said.

He also spoke about his “beloved Venezuela,” asking the Holy Spirit to give the Venezuelan people – citizens and political leaders – “the wisdom to meet the path of peace and unity,” and prayed for the 11 prisoners who died Saturday during a prison riot.

May 19 Francis sent a telegram through the Vatican’s Secretary of State Pietro Parolin for an airplane crash in Cuba which killed over 100 people. Offering his prayers for the victims and their families, he asked the Lord to give all the affected the gifts of spiritual serenity and Christian hope.