Browsing News Entries

Browsing News Entries

Archbishop Gomez opens USCCB meeting with passionate call for unity 

Archbishop Gomez addresses his brother bishops after being elected to a three-year term as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops during the USCCB's fall meeting in Baltimore, Nov. 11, 2019 / Christine Rousselle/CNA

Washington D.C., Jun 16, 2021 / 14:20 pm (CNA).

In his opening address at the 2021 spring meeting of the U.S. bishops on Wednesday, conference president Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles made a passionate call for unity.

Archbishop Gomez reminded fellow bishops that “only a Church that is united can heal the brokenness and challenge the injustices that we see more clearly now.” 

“We have been living through some extraordinary times,” the archbishop said. “We’ve seen a pandemic shut down our civilization, including the Church, for more than a year. We’ve lived through riots in our major cities, rising social divisions and unrest, and maybe the most polarized election our country has ever seen.”

He also said that “the Church’s mission will be shaped for years to come by the troubles of these recent months.” 

“I was noticing, even before the pandemic, how often Pope Francis talks about the importance of unity — not only among peoples, but also unity within the Church,” Archbishop Gomez said, as he quoted Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli Tutti in its call for unity among the human family. 

Gomez observed that it is “not realistic to expect the Church to stay immune from the pressures of division. Those pressures are all around us. The Church is divine, she is the Body of Christ. But we are all human in the Church, after all. And we are living in a secular society where politics is becoming the substitute religion for a lot of people.” 

“So, we need to guard against the temptation to think about the Church in simply political terms,” he said. 

He then quoted Pope Francis’ recent homily for Pentecost Sunday: “Today, if we listen to the Spirit, we will not be concerned with conservatives and progressives, traditionalists and innovators, right and left. … The Paraclete impels us to unity … the harmony of diversity. He makes us see ourselves as parts of the same body, brothers and sisters of one another.”

“Unity in the Church,” Archbishop Gomez continued, does not mean conformity of opinion or automatic agreement among bishops. “The apostles argued passionately. They disagreed over pastoral strategies and methods. But never about the truth of the Gospel.” 

“Only a Church that is united can heal the brokenness and challenge the injustices that we see more clearly now in the wake of this pandemic,” he added. 

According to the USCCB president, “the power of our Catholic vision flows from our profound awareness of the unity of life, from conception to natural death, and the unity of the human family, every person a child of God.” 

He acknowledged that “there are forces at work right now in our culture that threaten not only the unity of the human family, but also the very truth about God’s creation and human nature.” He quoted Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, saying, “This is the age of sin against God the Creator.” 

“My brothers,” Gomez stated, “we stand at a historic crossroads, as our Holy Father is telling us. It falls to the Church in this moment to defend the truth about God the Creator, and the truth about the sanctity of the human person and the unity of the human family in God’s plan for creation.”

“My prayer is that we all remain united in what is essential — our love for Jesus and our desire to proclaim him as the living God and the true path for humanity.”

In concluding, referring to his Mexican roots, Archbishop Gomez reminded his fellow bishops that “as you know, I have a deep devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe. When I was growing up my family went on pilgrimage to the shrine in Mexico City nearly every summer.”

“And I find myself turning to her a lot during these days,” he continued. “I was reflecting today how the Popes see her apparition as a sign of unity for the continent. St. John Paul II called her shrine ‘the Marian heart of America’.” 

May she help us to keep our hearts humble and united in the service of Jesus, as we seek to continue the evangelization of our country and our continent in this moment.

Archbishop Gomez addressed the spring meeting of the U.S. bishops, which is taking place virtually from June 16-18. The bishops will deliberate and vote on several agenda items, including approving of two causes of canonization, approving a pastoral statement on marriage ministry, and authorizing statements on Native American ministry and the Eucharist in the life of the Church.

Catholic priests offer Masses ‘for renewal of the faith’ at Ireland’s Mass rocks

Fr. Peter Johnson celebrates Mass at Carrive Mass Rock in Armagh. / ACN Ireland.

Dublin, Ireland, Jun 16, 2021 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

Catholic priests have celebrated Masses for “the renewal of the faith” at Mass rocks in all of Ireland’s 26 dioceses.

The priests offered the Masses at secluded locations where their persecuted predecessors had used rocks as altars centuries earlier.

Fr. Gerard Quirke at Achill Mass Rock, Tuam archdiocese. / ACN Ireland.
Fr. Gerard Quirke at Achill Mass Rock, Tuam archdiocese. / ACN Ireland.

Each of the Masses was celebrated for the intention of “the renewal of the faith in Ireland through the intercession of the Irish Martyrs” in a campaign organized by the Irish office of the charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

Msgr. Tommy Johnston celebrates Mass in Achrony diocese. / ACN Ireland.
Msgr. Tommy Johnston celebrates Mass in Achrony diocese. / ACN Ireland.

Msgr. Tommy Johnston, one of the participating priests, offered Mass on Mass Hill in the Ox Mountains, County Sligo.

“The Mass rock there is a huge boulder with an uneven surface offering no indication that it could possibly be used for such a sacred purpose,” he said.

Fr. Sean Maguire celebrates Mass in Kilmore. / ACN Ireland.
Fr. Sean Maguire celebrates Mass in Kilmore. / ACN Ireland.

“Perhaps that is why it was chosen. It did not warrant a second glance. It was above suspicion.”

“Its location nestled on the hillside provided a clear, commanding view of the surrounding area, so lookouts, at the first hints of danger, could easily alert those gathered for Mass.”

Fr. Sean Crowley celebrates Mass in Cork diocese. / ACN Ireland.
Fr. Sean Crowley celebrates Mass in Cork diocese. / ACN Ireland.

He added: “It was a unique privilege to stand at a place made sacred by our ancestors who had stood there all those years ago giving voice to their faith in presence and prayer conscious of the ever-present danger to life and livelihood.”

ACN Ireland previously sought to raise awareness of the Irish martyrs by republishing the 1896 book “Our Martyrs,” by the Jesuit priest Fr. Dennis Murphy. The book presents detailed accounts of Catholics killed for their faith in Ireland under the Penal Laws from 1535 to 1691.

The Penal Laws targeted Catholics following the Protestant Reformation. Lay people faced penalties such as fines and imprisonment, while priests faced severe punishments, including death, if caught ministering to Catholics.

Ballyneety Mass Rock, Limerick. / ACN Ireland.
Ballyneety Mass Rock, Limerick. / ACN Ireland.

ACN Ireland launched the Mass rock initiative after this year’s Easter Octave. It said that the settings of Mass rocks, which it has presented on a map, varied widely. Some are located on Ireland’s coastline, while others are on mountaintops, in grassy fields, or under pine trees. The Mass rocks stretch from County Donegal, in the north, to County Cork, in the south.

On its website, ACN Ireland offered a breakdown of the 26 Masses, grouped into the four ecclesiastical provinces of Armagh, Cashel, Dublin, and Tuam.

Franciscan Friars of the Renewal at Ballyneety Mass Rock, Limerick. / ACN Ireland.
Franciscan Friars of the Renewal at Ballyneety Mass Rock, Limerick. / ACN Ireland.

ACN Ireland is inviting Catholics inspired by the Mass rock campaign to join it in praying for the renewal of the Catholic faith in Ireland through the Irish martyrs’ intercession.

The Feast of the Irish Martyrs is June 20.

The USCCB meeting starts today: 5 items the bishops will consider

A bishop's pectoral cross. Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Denver Newsroom, Jun 16, 2021 / 13:12 pm (CNA).

From June 16-18, 2021, the bishops of the United States will gather for their annual spring meeting, held virtually this year, to debate and vote on several action items. Here is an introduction to the five most important items on the agenda.

 1. Plans for a Eucharistic Revival

While the possibility of a document on the Eucharist has grabbed headlines for months, the most significant move of the bishops may be their bold plans for a national Eucharistic Revival. The multi-year plan involves partnership with ministries across the nation and culminates in a national Eucharistic Congress in 2024. Given its impact on the lives of everyday Catholics, this initiative may be the most important action item approved at the meeting.

2. Vote on whether to draft a document on the Eucharist

Likely to garner the most attention is the vote on whether to begin drafting a teaching document on the Eucharist. The discussion about this document has received growing attention since the November election, though the bishops’ interest in questions related to eucharistic coherence and belief in the real presence date back to 2004.

Contrary to reports among activist groups and some media outlets, the vote is not a referendum on whether President Joe Biden, a Catholic whose public positions on abortion, euthanasia, transgenderism, and the death penalty contradict Church teaching, but on the creation of a document to catechize American Catholics.  

An outline of the document obtained by CNA shows that the three-part document will focus on the mystery of the real presence and its reality as a sacrifice that heals; the sacramental celebration of the Eucharist, its beauty and ability to unify and forge an identity among the faithful as a people of God; and the moral and missionary transformation that occurs after partaking in the Eucharist, with a subsection on Eucharistic consistency and the problem on serious sin.

That subsection has overshadowed the bishops’ evangelistic attempt to catechize the faithful on the central mystery of the faith—a mystery that Pew Research shows more than 2/3 of Catholics do not believe.

 3. Vote to advance the cause of two servants of God

The vote to advance the cause of canonization for a diocesan priest named Joseph Verbis Lafluer and Benedictine Brother Marinus LaRue may give greater recognition of two heroically virtuous men to the Church. Both men have military backgrounds and incredible stories.

Father Lafluer, a Louisiana native, was a military chaplain and prisoner of war who died sacrificing his life to help others out of the hull of a Japanese warship he and hundreds of other POWS were trapped in. When American forces unknowingly torpedoed the ship carrying their compatriots, Lafluer stayed behind to help his fellow men out of the hull. Prior to his death, he spent 2 ½ years under starving conditions in a camp in the Philippines where his generosity with rations and charity in such extreme conditions moved around 200 men to convert to Catholicism, including men who did nothing other than see his example.

Leonard LaRue, a Merchant Marine captain, was responsible for the execution of a courageous rescue operation during the Korean War. After traveling to Korea on a weapons transport ship whose capacity held 50-60 men, he saw thousands of Koreans on the shore attempting to flee communist powers. Grasping the eternal significance of the people before him, LaRue gave orders that nearly all weapons and cargo be dispatched and filled his ship with some 14,005 refugees. After winning accolades for his heroic and decisive action, LaRue decided to dedicate his life to God as a religious, joining the Benedictines as Brother Marinus and living the rest of his life in humility, obscurity, and penance.

 4. Votes on evangelization efforts for various groups and updates on cultural diversity

A vote to approve a “National Pastoral Framework for Marriage and Family Life Ministry in the United States: Called to the Joy of Love;” a vote to develop a formal statement and comprehensive vision on Native American/Alaska Native ministry; and a vote to create a national pastoral framework on youth and young adults are action items at the spring meeting.

Friday afternoon will also see presentations on the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) study on pastoral care for migrants, refugees and travelers as well as an overview of the June 1-2, 2021 meeting on immigration matters held at Mundelein Seminary.

5. Approval of New Liturgical Texts

While the full new translation of the Breviary will most likely not be completed until 2024, the bishops will be voting on translations and insertions that will impact the prayers of Liturgy of the Hours. They will also be voting on a new book for the Order of Penance, and formally ratifying readings and prayers for the newly instituted feast of Mary, Mother of the Church.

The bishops conference meeting will begin with public remarks from the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, as well as a presidential address by Archbishop José Gomez, current USCCB president. The public sessions of the meetings will be livestreamed on the USCCB website.

Cardinal: Religious freedom will be Europe’s ‘great problem of the future’

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, S.J., pictured at the Vatican on Oct. 10, 2018 (before he was named a cardinal). / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Vatican City, Jun 16, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

A leading European cardinal has said that the great problem the continent will face in the future is attacks against religious freedom.

In a June 16 interview with ACI Stampa, CNA’s Italian-language partner agency, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich said he thought that “the problem of religious freedom will be the great problem of the future in Europe.”

“There is no persecution of the Church: it would be too much to say,” he said. “But, in some countries, there are, at different levels, small attacks against the freedom of religion, and we must be on guard.”

Hollerich is the archbishop of Luxembourg and president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE). He and other members of COMECE met with Pope Francis and other Vatican officials in Rome the week of June 7.

COMECE, founded in 1980, consists of bishops delegated by the bishops’ conferences of the 27 member states of the European Union.

Last year, COMECE spoke out against the long-term forced closure of churches during the coronavirus pandemic in light of the rights to freedom of religion and freedom of worship.

“COMECE takes this opportunity to restate that any erosion of fundamental rights in the current emergency context, including freedom of religion, must not become the new norm. These rights have to be fully re-established as early as possible,” it said.

Speaking with ACI Stampa, Hollerich called the number of Catholics able to attend Mass in Belgium during the pandemic “ridiculous.” He also criticized Ireland’s extended ban on public Masses.

The cardinal said that in these two countries the Church “has a bad reputation.”

“A just impression of the Church must be given to rebuild credibility,” he said. “After the cases of sexual abuse, it is urgent for society, but also for the faithful, because many have lost all hope in the Church. This must change, we must become very humble and do our best with great transparency.”

Earlier this year, Hollerich also intervened in a proposed law in Denmark requiring the translation of all homilies into Danish. He argued that “de facto, the impact would be of imposing undue hindrance on the fundamental right to freedom of religion.”

Hollerich said that COMECE was currently monitoring a report before the European Parliament, the EU’s law-making body, which seeks the recognition of a “right to abortion” and the redefinition of conscientious objection as a “denial of medical care.”

The report is an attempt “to get the European Parliament to vote on abortion as a human right and against freedom of conscience in institutions,” Hollerich said. “It is clear that we cannot agree.”

The report, which was presented to the European Parliament by Croatian politician Predrag Fred Matić, is due to be debated on June 23. A vote will take place the next day.

“I think we must make it clear that approving such a report is against subsidiarity, because abortion is a subject of national and non-EU legislation,” Hollerich said. “It would therefore be a grave sin for the European Union not to respect the subsidiarity of which it always speaks.”

The cardinal said he thought that this was the best argument for convincing EU politicians to vote against the report’s proposal.

Cardinal: Religious freedom will be Europe’s ‘great problem of the future’

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, S.J., pictured at the Vatican on Oct. 10, 2018 (before he was named a cardinal). / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Vatican City, Jun 16, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

A leading European cardinal has said that the great problem the continent will face in the future is attacks against religious freedom.

In a June 16 interview with ACI Stampa, CNA’s Italian-language partner agency, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich said he thought that “the problem of religious freedom will be the great problem of the future in Europe.”

“There is no persecution of the Church: it would be too much to say,” he said. “But, in some countries, there are, at different levels, small attacks against the freedom of religion, and we must be on guard.”

Hollerich is the archbishop of Luxembourg and president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE). He and other members of COMECE met with Pope Francis and other Vatican officials in Rome the week of June 7.

COMECE, founded in 1980, consists of bishops delegated by the bishops’ conferences of the 27 member states of the European Union.

Last year, COMECE spoke out against the long-term forced closure of churches during the coronavirus pandemic in light of the rights to freedom of religion and freedom of worship.

“COMECE takes this opportunity to restate that any erosion of fundamental rights in the current emergency context, including freedom of religion, must not become the new norm. These rights have to be fully re-established as early as possible,” it said.

Speaking with ACI Stampa, Hollerich called the number of Catholics able to attend Mass in Belgium during the pandemic “ridiculous.” He also criticized Ireland’s extended ban on public Masses.

The cardinal said that in these two countries the Church “has a bad reputation.”

“A just impression of the Church must be given to rebuild credibility,” he said. “After the cases of sexual abuse, it is urgent for society, but also for the faithful, because many have lost all hope in the Church. This must change, we must become very humble and do our best with great transparency.”

Earlier this year, Hollerich also intervened in a proposed law in Denmark requiring the translation of all homilies into Danish. He argued that “de facto, the impact would be of imposing undue hindrance on the fundamental right to freedom of religion.”

Hollerich said that COMECE was currently monitoring a report before the European Parliament, the EU’s law-making body, which seeks the recognition of a “right to abortion” and the redefinition of conscientious objection as a “denial of medical care.”

The report is an attempt “to get the European Parliament to vote on abortion as a human right and against freedom of conscience in institutions,” Hollerich said. “It is clear that we cannot agree.”

The report, which was presented to the European Parliament by Croatian politician Predrag Fred Matić, is due to be debated on June 23. A vote will take place the next day.

“I think we must make it clear that approving such a report is against subsidiarity, because abortion is a subject of national and non-EU legislation,” Hollerich said. “It would therefore be a grave sin for the European Union not to respect the subsidiarity of which it always speaks.”

The cardinal said he thought that this was the best argument for convincing EU politicians to vote against the report’s proposal.

Why is a French Catholic archdiocese expelling the FSSP?

The Basilica of Fontaine-lès-Dijon, France. / Michel Foucher via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Paris, France, Jun 16, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

After 23 years in the Archdiocese of Dijon, in eastern France, the priests of the Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) will be dismissed at the end of summer, leaving behind around 300 dismayed parishioners.

Following a decision by Archbishop Roland Minnerath of Dijon, the community will leave the Basilica of Fontaine-lès-Dijon -- the site of St. Bernard of Clairvaux’s birthplace -- in September.

The extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, offered every day by the FSSP priests, will henceforth be celebrated by diocesan priests.

The news of the expulsion prompted an outcry. The archdiocese responded with a communique suggesting that the decision to entrust the ministry to the diocese was motivated by organizational reasons and followed the Fraternity’s decision to transfer one of its two priests to another diocese.

But Fr. Roch Perrel, superior of the FSSP in Dijon, expressed his incomprehension at the decision. He told CNA that FSSP District Superior Fr. Benoît Paul-Joseph wrote to Minnerath May 8 announcing that the priest who was being transferred would be replaced by another from the Fraternity.

“The archbishop answered that it was not necessary to appoint anyone since, from September, he would ask diocesan priests to say the Mass of St. Pius V for the faithful of the parish,” he said.

Perrel added that Paul-Joseph asked for an appointment with the archbishop to discuss the decision, but that his request went unheeded.

He claimed that, meanwhile, the archbishop had told a delegation of Catholics that the reason he was expelling the FSSP -- a society of apostolic life founded in 1988 -- was that its priests don’t concelebrate Mass.

“He wanted to concelebrate for the Chrism Mass during Holy Week, but we haven’t done it for years, as we have reservations on the New Mass and we don’t celebrate at the same pace,” Perrel said.

The priest emphasized that Canon 902 of the Code of Canon Law provides that no one can be forced to concelebrate.

“The archbishop had first accepted it, although he didn’t like it, but now he is kicking us out for this motive, and he is abusing his authority in this sense,” Perrel suggested.

Contacted by CNA to discuss the claim, the archdiocese’s communication office lamented that, as the Fraternity is committed exclusively to celebrating the extraordinary form, its priests refuse to “occasionally concelebrate with other priests in the ordinary form.”

The diocesan priests providing this service in future will thus allow, according to the archdiocese, “a permanent exchange between people of both rites.”

While asserting that the community’s priests never asked to meet with the archbishop, the archdiocese denounced a media campaign against Minnerath that, it said, was “very revealing of the spirit of a part of the people who refer to the Fraternity.”

The controversy erupted a few months after the emergence of a memorandum drafted by the French bishops’ conference in response to a 2020 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith questionnaire regarding the extraordinary form, sent to bishops worldwide.

The bishops’ conference text treated the refusal by priests of the FSSP to concelebrate as problematic. It also called for steps to “induce the faithful of the extraordinary form to participate more in diocesan life,” to avoid the creation of a “parallel Church.”

While some commentators saw the Dijon decision as a consequence of the bishops’ conference report, Perrel said that there was no evidence of a connection and that tensions between the Fraternity and Minnerath go back further.

According to the priest, the archbishop tried to transfer the community to another parish a year ago, to install a new community at the Basilica of Fontaine-lès-Dijon, ultimately abandoning the idea after dissension emerged between him and the other community.

Minnerath, who has served as archbishop of Dijon since 2004, will celebrate his 75th birthday on Nov. 27. That is the age that bishops are expected to submit their resignations to the pope.

“We knew that he had in mind to send us away, but his mandate at the head of the archdiocese is drawing to a close, so we thought we just had to wait one more year and that the situation would have probably improved with his successor, but he expelled us before leaving office,” Perrel said.

Asked about possible remedies, Perrel said that the FSSP had raised the case with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. But since there is no contract between the Fraternity and the diocese, it will be difficult for the FSSP to challenge the decision.

“Our presence was never officialized and we were kept in precarious conditions all along,” he said.

Members of the parish, for their part, have spared no effort in seeking to convince the archbishop to reverse his decision. After gathering a delegation -- through the Association des Amis de la Basilique de Fontaine-lès-Dijon -- to meet with Minnerath May 28, they launched a Facebook page and online petition in support of the Fraternity.

The petition has gathered almost 2,500 signatures in a week. The diocese, however, told CNA that the initiative “will not change anything” because a majority of the signatures come from outside of Dijon archdiocese.

While saying that he felt “really hurt” by what he considered to be “contempt” on the archbishop’s part, Perrel argued that the faithful were the ones suffering most from the situation since the community is currently offering 12 Masses a week.

He said that from September diocesan priests would celebrate only one extraordinary form Mass a week, on Sundays.

“Not to mention visits to the sick and the poor, catechism classes for children and adults, sacramental preparation, the parish youth group…We’re destroying something that was working well, and it is a great loss for the local population,” he said.

Kendrick Castillo’s killer convicted of murder

Kendrick Castillo and his father, John Castillo / Courtesy: Knights of Columbus #4844 via Facebook

Washington D.C., Jun 16, 2021 / 11:30 am (CNA).

The man who shot and killed Kendrick Castillo was convicted of murder in Colorado's Douglas County District Court on Tuesday, and could face life in prison without parole. 

Castillo was an 18 year-old Catholic who died on May 7, 2019 while trying to disarm a shooter at STEM School Highlands Ranch in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado. He was the only person killed in the attack at the school; eight others were injured.

Devon Erickson, 20 years old and one of the two school shooters, was convicted of more than 40 charges - including three counts of first-degree murder - on Tuesday, June 15. He was also charged with 31 counts of attempted murder, as well as arson, theft, criminal mischief, burglary, reckless endangerment, and possessing a weapon on school grounds. 

The jury deliberated for four and a half hours before returning a guilty verdict. According to Courthouse News, Erickson faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. He will be formally sentenced on September 17.

The other shooter at the Highlands Ranch attack, Alec McKinney, pleaded guilty in February 2020 and was sentenced to life in prison. McKinney was 16 years old at the time of the shooting, and could be eligible for parole in approximately 20 years. 

McKinney was born female and was undergoing gender-transitioning procedures at the time of the shooting. According to court documents reported by NBCNews.com, McKinney “wanted the kids at the school to experience bad things, have to suffer from trauma like he has had to in his life.”

Lawyers for Erickson claimed that their client was manipulated by McKinney, who they said organized and filmed the shooting at STEM School Highlands Ranch. The two students, who attended the school, entered the building on May 7, 2019, carrying guns in guitar cases. They opened fire in two locations. 

According to McKinney, the original plan was to kill everyone in the classroom. After doing this, Erickson would then kill McKinney, and say that McKinney was responsible for all the other deaths. 

Castillo, who was the only person killed in the attack, tackled Erickson after he pulled out a gun in his classroom. Erickson shot Castillo in the chest, killing him. Castillo’s other classmates managed to subdue Erickson before he could shoot anyone else. 

Kendrick’s father, John Castillo, said that the verdict was “justice” for his son, and that he was “sure Kendrick was looking down on us today.” 

“I never thought I’d be fighting for justice for a crime that should never have happened,” said John Castillo. 

John Castillo is a member of his local Knights of Columbus council. After Kendrick’s death, the Knights of Columbus honored him with the Caritas Medal at the 137th Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus in August 2019. The convention also unanimously granted him full membership in the organization, posthumously.

The Caritas Medal is the second-highest award in the Knights of Columbus, and is given to those “who most profoundly embrace our order’s principles of charity in their service and their sacrifice for others.”

Liturgical translations: What the U.S. bishops will be voting on this week

Archbishop Leonard Paul Blair of Hartford, chair of the USCCB Committee on Divine Worship / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Washington D.C., Jun 16, 2021 / 10:30 am (CNA).

This week, the U.S. bishops will vote on proposed translations for prayers in the Liturgy of the Hours, a new book for the Order of Penance, and readings and prayers for the new feast of Mary, Mother of the Church.

“The fact that the bishops have these action items is a sign that we’re trying to continue to move forward, and continue to encourage a good celebration of the sacred liturgy,” said Fr. Andrew Menke, executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Divine Worship, in an interview with CNA on Tuesday.

“Sometimes it’s not as glamorous as certain things,” he said of the ongoing process of updating liturgical texts in the vernacular, “but it’s part of the Church’s prayer, and the bishops have the desire to continue to improve that and continue to encourage people to understand it better and participate better, and to make it part of their lives and their spiritual lives.”

At their annual spring general assembly this week, the U.S. bishops will meet virtually, deliberating and voting on various action items including approving liturgical translations, approving of two causes of canonization, and approving a pastoral statement on marriage ministry. The bishops will also vote to authorize the drafting of a statement on Native American ministry and a teaching document on the Eucharist, and to authorize the development of a pastoral framework for youth and young adult ministry.

Regarding liturgical texts, the bishops will vote on three action items: readings and prayers for a Mass honoring Mary, Mother of the Church, intercessions and concluding prayers for the breviary, and an updated translation for the Order of Penance.

Archbishop Leonard Blair of Hartford, chair of the U.S. bishops’ committee on divine worship, will present the proposed changes on Wednesday, and the bishops will vote to approve the texts on Thursday.

Pope St. Paul VI proclaimed Mary “Mother of the Church” during the Second Vatican Council. In 2018, Pope Francis announced that the Church would celebrate the feast of Mary, Mother of the Church on the first Monday after Pentecost. The new texts for the feast could potentially be available online next year, following approval.

The breviary translations that the bishops will consider this week feature updated prayers and intercessions. They are part of a much larger process of translating liturgical texts, one which has been ongoing for 10 years and which could result in a new breviary by the year 2024.

When the breviary was translated into the vernacular following the Second Vatican Council, “those translations were done fairly quickly,” and the translators were given “flexibility,” Fr. Menke explained. “And that means that you find a lot of paraphrases, or somewhat loose translations.”

“There’s been a sentiment for many years that the translations that were made right after the [Second Vatican] Council needed to be revisited, and there has been a lot of discussion about the nature of those translations, whether they should be more literal or a more dynamic equivalency,” Archbishop Blair stated.

Following the year 2000, the Holy See, in the instruction Liturgiam Authenticam and the motu proprio Magnum Principium, “instructed the bishops’ conferences of the world that their liturgical translations needed to be more precise and follow the Latin more closely,” Fr. Menke said.

The long translation process in the United States “has been a very successful effort. And we’re nearing the end of it with all the translations, especially as we bring the Divine Office to a conclusion,” Archbishop Blair said.  

The bishops this week will also consider a revised translation for the Order of Penance.

“Sometimes priests are surprised that there’s a liturgical book for penance,” Fr. Menke said.

“The book is mostly useful when a parish wants to have a penance service,” he explained, such as hosting advertised evenings of confession during the penitential seasons of Advent or Lent. Such a parish ceremony could feature readings that are provided in the book, along with a short homily and announcements to penitents, he said.

The book also includes a chapter on the need for general absolution – “which ought to be quite rare, I would think,” Fr. Menke said.

A slight adjustment will be made to the prayer of absolution for every confession, but it will be a “change of just a word or two,” Archbishop Blair said.

Pope Francis appoints ‘ecclesiastical assistant’ for Vatican communications

St. Peter's Basilica. Bohumil Petrik/CNA

Vatican City, Jun 16, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Wednesday appointed an Italian priest and philosopher as an “ecclesiastical assistant” to the Vatican’s communications department.

Forty-year-old Fr. Luigi Maria Epicoco, from the southern Italian region of Puglia, is the author of more than 20 books and a frequent radio and television guest.

He also speaks at conferences and leads retreats throughout Italy.

With his new role in Vatican communications, Epicoco will also be a columnist for the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

During his annual Christmas speech in December 2019, Pope Francis gifted Epicoco’s book, “Someone to Look To: For a Spirituality of Witness,” to members of the Roman Curia.

Epicoco has been a priest of the Archdiocese of L’Aquila since 2005. He was a university chaplain in the archdiocese when the area was hit by the devastating 2009 earthquake which killed more than 300 people.

Last year, he oversaw the publication of an Italian-language book, “St. John Paul the Great,” featuring Pope Francis’ reflections on his Polish predecessor.

Pope Francis began a major reform of Vatican communications in 2015. The dicastery is responsible for overseeing all of the Vatican media operations, including Vatican News, Vatican Radio, L’Osservatore Romano, and the Vatican publishing house.

In July 2018, the pope named Paolo Ruffini, then director of the Italian bishops' television network TV2000, as the department’s first lay prefect.

Ruffini’s appointment followed the departure of Msgr. Dario Viganò, who stepped down after he was discovered by media to have altered an image of a letter from Benedict XVI. Viganò continues to work in the communications department in an advisory role.

Another lay man, Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, was appointed editorial director for the Dicastery for Communication in December 2018.

On May 24, Pope Francis paid a visit to the Vatican News and L’Osservatore Romano offices.

While there, he greeted the 300-some Vatican communications employees and spoke live on Vatican Radio about the importance of reaching an audience.

The pope said: “There are a lot of reasons to be worried about the Radio, L’Osservatore, but one that touches my heart: How many people listen to the Radio? How many people read L’Osservatore Romano?”

He compared the operation to “a mountain that gives birth to a mouse.”

“The question you should ask is: how many? How many people do [the programs] reach? It is always a danger that ... you are well organized, do good work, but you do not reach people,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis appoints ‘ecclesiastical assistant’ for Vatican communications

St. Peter's Basilica. Bohumil Petrik/CNA

Vatican City, Jun 16, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Wednesday appointed an Italian priest and philosopher as an “ecclesiastical assistant” to the Vatican’s communications department.

Forty-year-old Fr. Luigi Maria Epicoco, from the southern Italian region of Puglia, is the author of more than 20 books and a frequent radio and television guest.

He also speaks at conferences and leads retreats throughout Italy.

With his new role in Vatican communications, Epicoco will also be a columnist for the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

During his annual Christmas speech in December 2019, Pope Francis gifted Epicoco’s book, “Someone to Look To: For a Spirituality of Witness,” to members of the Roman Curia.

Epicoco has been a priest of the Archdiocese of L’Aquila since 2005. He was a university chaplain in the archdiocese when the area was hit by the devastating 2009 earthquake which killed more than 300 people.

Last year, he oversaw the publication of an Italian-language book, “St. John Paul the Great,” featuring Pope Francis’ reflections on his Polish predecessor.

Pope Francis began a major reform of Vatican communications in 2015. The dicastery is responsible for overseeing all of the Vatican media operations, including Vatican News, Vatican Radio, L’Osservatore Romano, and the Vatican publishing house.

In July 2018, the pope named Paolo Ruffini, then director of the Italian bishops' television network TV2000, as the department’s first lay prefect.

Ruffini’s appointment followed the departure of Msgr. Dario Viganò, who stepped down after he was discovered by media to have altered an image of a letter from Benedict XVI. Viganò continues to work in the communications department in an advisory role.

Another lay man, Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, was appointed editorial director for the Dicastery for Communication in December 2018.

On May 24, Pope Francis paid a visit to the Vatican News and L’Osservatore Romano offices.

While there, he greeted the 300-some Vatican communications employees and spoke live on Vatican Radio about the importance of reaching an audience.

The pope said: “There are a lot of reasons to be worried about the Radio, L’Osservatore, but one that touches my heart: How many people listen to the Radio? How many people read L’Osservatore Romano?”

He compared the operation to “a mountain that gives birth to a mouse.”

“The question you should ask is: how many? How many people do [the programs] reach? It is always a danger that ... you are well organized, do good work, but you do not reach people,” Pope Francis said.