Thursday, October 30, 2014

“Our ancestors would think that Europe disavowed Jesus Christ and started worshipping Satan”

Russian Orthodox Church harshly condemns Halloween for its cult of death

The Russian Orthodox Church expressed its concerns in connection with the modern tradition to celebrate Halloween. “Times have changed a lot nowadays. The innocent amusement has been replaced with the entertainment industry, which tends to take dark and mystical coloring,” an article by Mikhail Dudko, a priest of the Uspensky Cathedral in London said.
Speaking about the modern tradition to celebrate Halloween, the cleric said that normal piety has been replaced with commercial dismay. “Our ancestors would think that Europe disavowed Jesus Christ and started worshipping Satan,” the priest wrote.
“Old Christian nations of the continent used to entertain themselves with the contrast of their children’s innocent faces and pumpkins which only symbolized the evil defeated by Christ. Nowadays the true evil gradually comes to a reign,” Mikhail Dudko wrote.

To exemplify his point of view, the priest resorts to the film titled Halloween. The film tells of a little boy, who murdered his six-year-old sister on the eve of Halloween and then became a blood-thirsty killer.
“Confessions of mad people have become quite ordinary. They acknowledge that the roots of their pathological aggressiveness lie in their passion for pop culture, computer games and cinema. Who knows how many mentally unstable people this film will push to committing a crime,” the priest wrote in his article.

Mikhail Dudko also said that in Great Britain, where Halloween originally appeared, many people who have not lost their reason, begin to express their deep anxiety because of Halloween. Local clergymen, for example, asked trading networks to make Halloween a kinder holiday. “One has to be aware of the liberalism of the Anglican Church to understand the reason for such an address – the evil has gone too far,” the priest wrote.

In the meantime, spokespeople for the Depart of Education in Moscow say that Russian schools must not organize any events devoted to Halloween. “The position of the department remains unchanged since 2003, when the administration signed a letter to headmasters of Moscow schools asking them not to hold any events devoted to Halloween,” the press secretary of the Department of Education, Alexander Gavrilov said.
The official said that such decision was made in connection with religious aspects of the holiday – the cult of death, gloating over death, the personification of evil spirits, etc. which contradicts to the secular character of education of state-run schools in Russia. “It is destructive for the psychological and moral health of schoolchildren,” Gavrilov said.

The term Halloween (and its alternative rendering Hallowe'en) is shortened from All-hallow-even, as it is the eve of "All Hallows' Day", which is now also known as All Saints' Day. Some modern Halloween traditions developed out of older pagan traditions, especially surrounding the Irish holiday Samhain, a day associated both with the harvest and otherworldly spirits. Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century. Other western countries embraced the holiday in the late twentieth century. Halloween is now celebrated in several parts of the Western world, most commonly in Ireland, the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the United Kingdom and occasionally in parts of Australia and New Zealand.

Many European cultural traditions, in particular Celtic cultures, hold that Halloween is one of the liminal times of the year when spirits can make contact with the physical world, and when magic is most potent, according to Wikipedia.

Halloween did not become a holiday in the United States until the 19th century, where lingering Puritan tradition restricted the observance of many holidays. American almanacs of the late 18th and early 19th centuries do not include Halloween in their lists of holidays. The transatlantic migration of nearly two million Irish following the Irish Potato Famine (1845-1849) finally brought the holiday to the United States. Scottish emigration from the British Isles, primarily to Canada before 1870 and to the United States thereafter, brought the Scottish version of the holiday to each country.

Translated by Dmitry Sudakov



Monday, October 27, 2014

Queen Esther and Our Lady of Fatima - Homily for Thursday of the First Week of Lent

Queen Esther had been chosen Queen after King Ahasuerus (Xerxes) dismissed his wife Queen Vashti for not coming to him when she was summoned.
Now Queen Esther is in anguish because Haman, the wicked aide to has convinced the King to issue an order to kill all the Jews in his Empire. Haman did this because Mordecai, Esther’s cousin who raised her as a daughter, would not bow down and prostrate himself as Haman passed as the King had ordered. The King is unaware that Esther his wife is Jewish.
The date set for destruction was the 13th of the month of Adar which corresponds to either our month of February. It is also the very day that the Maccabees liberated Israel after a four-year battle with the Seleucid Empire.
Sister Lucia to whom Our Lady of Fatima appeared died on this date. Our Lady of Fatima’s first appearance to the three shepherd children was May 13, 1917.  Her last appearance was October 13,1917. On May 13, 1981, Pope John Paul II survived an assassination attempt. He credits Our Lady of Fatima with saving his life.
Queen Esther clothed herself in sackcloth and ashes.  She fasted from food and water for three days and asks the Jews to do the same.  After the three days, she approached the King without being summoned.  She did this even though she was aware that the King could have sentenced her to death for doing so.
When the Queen enters into the King’s presence he extends his scepter thus sparing her life. He was so impressed by her courage and beauty that he promised her up to half of his kingdom. Instead, she invites him to two banquets and invites Haman – the man responsible for the order of the genocide of her people. At the second banquet she pleads for her life and the life of her people.  The King is horrified by what Haman has done and orders him to be hung on the same gallows he had prepared for Mordecai.  Persian law did not permit the King to reverse his decree, but he issued another decree that the Jews could defend themselves.  Instead of being destroyed, the Jewish people were saved and defeated their enemies in battle. The Jews celebrate this triumph each year as their Feast of Purim.  It doesn’t always fall on the same day.  In 2013, the Feast falls on February 24th.
Many see Queen Esther as a type of Mary and the Book of Esther as a type of the Apocalypse. A figure type is a person, place, thing or event foreshadowing a New Testament archetype (a perfect model or type). The New Testament archetype is always greater than its Old Testament figure type. For example, Jonah’s time in the belly of the great fish is a type of Jesus in the tomb. Moses is a type of Jesus.
The Jewish people were saved through the intercession of Queen Esther, so Mary intercedes for her people today.  The Apocalypse foretells a great persecution of Christians at the end of time, but the Book of Revelation speak about the Ark of the Covenant appearing in the sky and the Woman crushing the head of the dragon. (Revelation 12)
When the Blessed Mother appeared at Fatima she wore the Star of Esther. In the Old Testament of the Hebrew text, her name was Hádássah - meaning myrtle, a white, five-pointed, star-shaped flower. In the Hebrew text, her name was Hádássah - meaning myrtle, a white, five-pointed, star-shaped flower.
Like Esther, Mary came at Fatima to spare her children from destruction. She asked people to repent of sin, pray the rosary, go to confession, and receive the Eucharist worthily. On July 13, 1917, Our Lady said to the child Lucia: “…I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to My Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, and various nations will be annihilated. ... In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and an era of peace will be granted to the world.”
Had her requests been heeded the world would have been spared the horrors of World War II in which over 50 million people died and countless other wars and persecutions provoked by Communists throughout the world. In 1920, Russia was also the first country to legalize abortion. In 1913, Communist leader Vladimir Lenin demanded “the unconditional annulment of all laws against abortions or against the distribution of medical literature on contraceptive measures.”
Great evils threaten our world. Sin increases. So many hearts are hardened. We need to call on Our Lady in prayer.  Heed her requests at Fatima and Lourdes. Do penance, do the Five First Saturday devotion by going to confession, receiving the Eucharist, praying the rosary and meditating 15 minutes on the mysteries for five first Saturdays of the month in a row.  
Queen Esther asked her people to do pray and do penance with her. We must listen to the Blessed Mother today and ask her to intercede with her Son that he might spare us, our nation and our world. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

"An Extraordinary Synod, Indeed"

George Weigel

According to Vatican-speak, a specially scheduled session of the Synod of Bishops is an “Extraordinary Synod,” meaning Not-an-Ordinary Synod, held every three years or so. In the case of the recently-completed Extraordinary Synod of 2014, extraordinary things did happen, in the “Oh, wow!” sense of the word. And if this year’s Extraordinary Synod was a preview of the Synod for which it was to set the agenda, i.e., the Ordinary Synod of 2015, that Synod, too, promises to be, well, extraordinary.

How was the Extraordinary Synod of 2014 extraordinary? With apologies to the Bard, let me count the ways:

1. The 2014 Synod got an extraordinary amount of press attention. Alas, too much of that attention was due to the mass media misperception that The Great Moment of the Long-Awaited Catholic Cave-In was at hand: the moment when the Catholic Church, the last major institutional hold-out against the triumph of the sexual revolution, would finally admit the error of its ways and join the rush into the promised land of sexual liberation, symbolized in this instance by a Catholic cave-in on the nature of marriage. What ought to have gotten the world’s attention—the witness of African bishops to the liberating power of monogamy and lifelong marital fidelity—got sadly short shrift, though Third World women are the principal beneficiaries of the truth about marriage the Church received from its Lord.

2. The 2014 Synod demonstrated the extraordinary self-confidence of bishops from dying local churches who nonetheless feel quite comfortable giving pastoral advice to local churches that are either thriving or holding their own. Many northern European bishops and theologians (and bishop-theologians) acted as if the blissful years when they set the agenda for the world Church at Vatican II had returned. That these same bishops and theologians and bishop-theologians have presided over the collapse of western European Catholicism in the intervening five decades seemed not to matter to them in the slightest. Happy days were here again.

3. The 2014 Synod was extraordinary, or at least the media claimed it was, for an unprecedented public display of discord among cardinals. Perhaps those who found this either unprecedented or unseemly could consult Galatians 2:11, where Paul reports that he “rebuked” Peter “to his face.” Or ponder the fierce arguments among North African bishops during the Donatist controversy. Or look into the quarrel between Bishop Cyprian of Carthage, a doctor of the Church, and Pope Stephen, Bishop of Rome. Or read the debates at the first session of Vatican II. The 2014 controversies were indeed noteworthy, in that otherwise intelligent men whose position had been pretty well demolished by fellow scholars were incapable of admitting that they’d gotten it wrong. But upon further review (as they say in the NFL), that isn’t so new either.

4. The 2014 Synod was extraordinary in that a lot of theological confusion was displayed by elders of the Church who really ought to know better. The idea of the development of doctrine was especially ill-used by some. Of course the Church’s self-understanding develops over time, as does the Church’s pastoral practice. But as Blessed John Henry Newman showed in the classic modern discussion of the subject, all authentic development is in organic continuity with the past; it’s not a rupture with the past. Nor is there any place in a truly Catholic theory of doctrinal development for rewriting the words of the Lord or describing fidelity to the plain text of Scripture as “fundamentalism.”

5. The 2014 Synod was extraordinary in its demonstration that too many bishops and theologians (and bishop-theologians) still have not grasped the Iron Law of Christianity in Modernity: Christian communities that maintain a firm grasp on their doctrinal and moral boundaries can flourish amidst the cultural acids of modernity; Christian communities whose doctrinal and moral boundaries become porous (and then invisible) wither and die.

6. One more thing: why were no representatives of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute on Marriage and the Family invited to a Synod on the family?

Extraordinary, indeed: in both Vatican-speak and plain English.

George Weigel is a senior fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Great Solar Miracle: Fatima October 13, 1917

Damien F. Mackey



Taken from my book (1994),

The Five First Saturdays



After the Lady had identified who she was, Lucia again asked her if she would cure the sick, and convert the sinners who had been recommended to her. Our Lady replied:


“I will cure or convert some of them. Others I will not.

They must repent and beg pardon for their sins”.


Then, with a look of grief and in a suppliant tone of voice, she added:


“Men must not offend God any more for He is already very much offended”.


And opening her hands Our Lady, as She was rising to go away, projected beams of light onto the sun. Lucia cried: “Look at the sun!” And suddenly, as the crowd looked upwards, the clouds opened and exposed the blue sky with the sun at its zenith. But this sun did not dazzle. The people could look directly at it. It was like a shining silver plate. Then the sun trembled. It made some abrupt movements. It began to spin like a wheel of fire. Great shafts of coloured light flared out from its centre in all directions, colouring in a most fantastic manner the clouds, trees, rocks, earth, and even the clothes and faces of the people gathered there, in alternating splashes of red, yellow, green, blue and violet – the full spectrum of rainbow colours.


After about five minutes the sun stopped revolving in this fashion. A moment later, it resumed a second time its incredible motion, throwing out its light and colour like a huge display of fireworks. And once more, after a few minutes, the sun stopped its prodigious dance.


After a short time, and for the third time, it resumed its spinning and fantastic colours. The crowd gazed spellbound. Then came the awful climax. The sun seemed to be falling from the sky. Zig-zagging from side to side, it plunged down towards the crowd below, sending out a heat increasingly intense, and causing the spectators to believe that this was indeed the end of the world.


People stood wild-eyed, or sank to their knees in the mud, as the sun rushed towards them. A desperate cry went up from the crowd, begging God, or the Blessed Virgin Mary, for mercy, asking pardon for their sins. The sun halted, stopping short in its precipitous fall, and then it climbed back to its place in the sky, where it regained its normal brilliance.


Then the dazed people, who had just experienced the wonder of the age – or what Cardinal Laraana would later call “the greatest Divine intervention since the time of Our Lord” (Soul, Sep-Oct, 1990, p. 6) – found that another miracle had occurred. This apocalyptic scene, full of majesty and terror, had ended with a delicate gift, which showed the motherly tenderness of the Immaculate Heart of Mary for her children. Their sodden clothes were dry and comfortable, without a trace of mud and rain.


But there was another aspect to Our Lady’s Miracle that only the three children witnessed. Corresponding to the three distinct movements of the sun, separated by the moments of pause, Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco

saw three distinct tableaux representing, successively, the Joyful, the Sorrowful and the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary.


In the first tableau they saw the three members of the Holy Family; with Our Lady of the Rosary to the right of the sun and more brilliant than the sun, wearing a white dress and a blue mantle. To the left, dressed in red, was St. Joseph with the Infant Jesus blessing the world. Next, Our Divine Lord appeared as a grown man, lovingly blessing the world. To the left was Our Lady of Sorrows, clad in purple. Finally, Our Lady of Sorrows was replaced by Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Scapular in her hand. The Miracle of the sun at Fatima, therefore, was absolutely a Rosary miracle. It seemed even to move to the pulse and rhythm of a Rosary being recited. Its approximately fifteen minutes’ duration might also have been intended to represent one of the conditions of the Five First Saturday devotion: fifteen minutes of meditation on the Mysteries of the Rosary, while keeping Our Lady company.


Full of Scriptural Imagery

All in one, the great Miracle of the 13th of October, 1917, incorporated some of the most spectacular elements of renowned Old Testament miracles. Fr. Smolenski (op. cit., pp. 11-12) has compared Noah’s time for instance, when it rained for forty days and forty nights, with Fatima on that day, when everything was drenched with rain. The dove with the branch indicated that the storm had subsided; Our Lady’s presence over the holm-oak tree was Heaven’s peace. The Ark landed on solid earth; Fatima was dry because of the miracle. God re-established the covenant of peace by means of Noah; Our Lady asked that Consecration be made to her Immaculate Heart. The rainbow became the sign of peace; the whole area of the Fatima miracle reflected all the colours of the rainbow during the sun’s dance. “As Noah’s sons inherited the covenant of peace, brought to mind by the presence of the rainbow, so Mary, Image of the Church as the servant of God, would have her children be the bearers of her peace to a re-energized and re-evangelized creation”.
Other comparisons with Old Testament miracles appear in Soul magazine (Sep-Oct, 1990, p. 6). For instance, the sun’s leaving the entire area dry at the Cova da Iria reminds one of the dry path through the Red Sea. Or of Joshua’s own solar miracle, when, at his command, the sun gave its light two hours after sunset. Again, reminiscent of the sun’s fall, was Elijah’s calling down of fire from the sky as a challenge to the pagan priests. (Elijah is of course already linked to the Carmelites, and the Scapular, due to his association with Mount Carmel, and his miraculous mantle). Finally, we could add to these the miraculous alteration affected on the sundial, as cause by the prophet Isaiah for the benefit of king Hezekiah.
Pope Pius XII, when instituting the feast of The Queenship of Mary with his encyclical, Ad Caeli Reginam, in 1954, likened Our Lady to the rainbow in the Genesis account of Noah and in Ecclesiasticus:

“Is She not a rainbow in the clouds, reaching towards God, a promise of peace? (Cf. Genesis 9:13). ‘Look upon the rainbow, and bless Him that made it; it is very beautiful in its brightness. It encompasses the heaven about with the circle of its glory, the hands of the Most High have displayed it’ (Ecclesiasticus 43:11-12)”.

But undoubtedly, more than anything else, it was the stupendous character of the Miracle of the Sun – coupled with the fact that it had been predicted to the very hour, months in advance – that sets Fatima apart from all of the Old Testament manifestations of God, and even from the preceding Marian apparitions. Pope Paul VI referred to it simply as ‘Signum Magnum’, ‘The Great Sign’.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Nobel Prize to Malala Yousafzai, advocate of girls’ right to education

(Reuters) – Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for advocating girls’ right to education, and Indian campaigner against child trafficking and labor Kailash Satyarthi won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.
Yousafzai, aged 17, becomes the youngest Nobel Prize winner and 60-year-old Satyarthi the first Indian-born winner of the accolade.
They were picked for their struggle against the oppression of children and young people, and for the right of all children to education, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said.
The sharing of the award between an Indian and a Pakistani came after a week of hostilities along the border of the disputed, mainly Muslim region of Kashmir – the worst fighting between the nuclear-armed rivals in more than a decade.
“The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism,” said Thorbjoern Jagland, the head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee.
Kristian Berg Harpviken, head of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, described the joint award “an innovative prize that brings attention to the problems of the young”.
Satyarthi said he hoped to work with Yousafzai for peace.
“I will invite her to join hands to establish peace for our subcontinent, which is a must for children, which is a must for every Indian, for every Pakistani, for every citizen of the world,” he said at the New Delhi office of his organization, Bachpan Bachao Andolan, or Save the Childhood Movement.
Yousafzai later told reporters in the English city of Birmingham where she now lives that she had spoken by telephone with Satyarthi on Friday and they had agreed to invite the prime ministers of India and Pakistan to the ceremony in December.
“The tension that is going on is really disappointing and I’m really sad because I want both countries to have dialogue to have talks about peace,” she said.
Yousafzai said she had found out about winning the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday from a teacher during a chemistry lesson, adding that the news had come as a big surprise.
“This is not the end of this campaign which I have started. I think this is really the beginning. I want to see every child going to school,” she said, adding she felt “really honored”.
Yousafzai was attacked in 2012 on a school bus in the Swat Valley of northwest Pakistan by masked gunmen as a punishment for a blog that she wrote for the BBC’s Urdu service as an 11-year-old to campaign against the Taliban’s efforts to deny women an education.
Unable to return to Pakistan after her recovery, Yousafzai moved to England, setting up the Malala Fund and supporting local education advocacy groups with a focus on Pakistan, Nigeria, Jordan, Syria and Kenya.
Her former teacher, Ahmed Shah, said the peace prize was wonderful news for Pakistan.
“This is a breath of fresh air, a gift for Pakistan, at a time when we are embroiled in terrorism and violence and wars,” Shah told Reuters by telephone from the Swat Valley.
“Those who oppose her, extremist elements or whoever else, they have been rendered irrelevant. They are a weak minority.”
Yousafzai addressed the U.N. Youth Assembly last year at an event Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called “Malala Day”. This year she traveled to Nigeria to demand the release of 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by the Islamist group Boko Haram.
“To the girls of Nigeria and across Africa, and all over the world, I want to say: don’t let anyone tell you that you are weaker than or less than anything,” she said in a speech.
“You are not less than a boy,” Yousafzai said. “You are not less than a child from a richer or more powerful country. You are the future of your country. You are going to build it strong. It is you who can lead the charge.”
Satyarthi, who gave up a career as an electrical engineer in 1980 to campaign against child labor, has headed various forms of peaceful protests and demonstrations, focusing on the exploitation of children for financial gain.
“It is a disgrace for every human being if any child is working as a child slave in any part of the world,” Satyarthi said. “I feel very proud to be an Indian that in India I was able to keep this fight on for the last 30 years or so. This is a great recognition and honor for all my fellow Indians.”
In a recent editorial, Satyarthi said that data from non-government organizations indicated that child laborers could number 60 million in India – 6 percent of the total population.
“Children are employed not just because of parental poverty, illiteracy, ignorance, failure of development and education programs, but quite essentially due to the fact that employers benefit immensely from child labor as children come across as the cheapest option, sometimes working even for free,” he wrote.
Last month, based on a complaint filed by his organization in a Delhi court, the Indian government was forced to put in place regulations to protect domestic workers who are often physically and sexually abused and exploited.
Satyarthi joins a handful of Nobel Peace Prize winners with ties to India – even though the most famous peace activist of them all and father of independent India, Mahatma Gandhi, never received the honor.
Mother Theresa, an Albanian-born nun, was recognized in 1979 for her work with the poor in the Indian port city of Calcutta. The Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader who won the prize in 1989, resides in India.
Many commentators say that the omission of Gandhi from the list of laureates is the biggest error in the history of the Prize, first awarded in 1901.
“Maybe there is a little nod to Gandhi there,” Harpviken said of the award to India’s Satyarthi.
The United Nations’ Childrens’ Fund in South Asia said the joint award recognized “their struggle against the suppression of children and young people” in a region where nearly 17.5 million girls aged between 5 and 13 are out of school and over 12 percent of children between 5 and 14 are engaged in labor.
The prize, worth about $1.1 million, will be presented in Oslo on Dec. 10, the anniversary of the death of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, who founded the award in his 1895 will.
The previous youngest winner was Australian-born British scientist Lawrence Bragg, who was 25 when he shared the Physics Prize with his father in 1915.
(Additional reporting by Terje Solsvik, by Krista Mahr, Douglas Busvine and Nita Bhalla in NEW DELHI and by Maria Golovnina and Mehreen Zahra-Malik in ISLAMABAD; Writing by John Chalmers; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Gareth Jones)


Taken from:

Thursday, October 9, 2014

"The world has changed and the Church cannot lock itself into alleged interpretations of dogma".

Pope Francis distances himself from ‘very conservative’ bishops

John-Henry WestenandHilary White

ROME – In an interview released on the opening of the Synod on the Family, Pope Francis distanced himself from “very conservative” bishops, adding however that he enjoys "debating" them as long as they are "intellectually well-formed."
In an interview with the pope, published October 5, reporter Joaquín Morales Solá at Argentina’s La Nacion newspaper asked if he was “worried” about the recent book by five cardinals opposing Kasper’s proposal, titled Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church. Morales Solá said to the pope that the book is “critical of your positions.”
Francis “doesn’t answer” the question directly, according to Morales Solá, but says, “Everyone has something to contribute. I even enjoy debating with the very conservative, but intellectually well-formed bishops.”
(See excerpts below of the La Nacion interview, translated by LifeSiteNews.)
At Wednesday’s press briefing, LifeSiteNews asked Vatican officials for a clarification on the pope’s remarks apparently separating himself from the “very conservative” outlook on the faith of prelates like Cardinal Raymond Burke, a co-author of the book, and Cardinal George Pell, who wrote the foreword to another book criticizing Kasper’s proposal and who has warned it would result in a sociological disaster.
Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, replied, “I have no knowledge of this interview; I know absolutely nothing about it. We didn’t publish it, therefore I have nothing to clarify, because, it is hardly known to me.” Father Thomas Rosica, English-language spokesman for the Synod, repeated that prior to LifeSiteNews’ question, the Vatican’s press office had no knowledge of the interview or its contents.
In the interview the pope said that in addition to problem of divorced Catholics, which has been the prominent discussion, he is equally concerned with “the new habits of today’s youth.”
“Young people who are not getting married at all. It is a culture feature of our times,” he said. “So many young people prefer to live together without marrying. What should the Church do? Expel them from its breast? Or, instead, approach them, embrace them and try to bring them the word of God? I'm with the latter position.”
"The world has changed and the Church cannot lock itself into alleged interpretations of dogma,” he continued. “We have to approach social conflicts, new and old, and try to give a hand of comfort, not to stigmatize and not to just impugn.”
Vatican press spokesmen Father Federico Lombardi and Father Thomas Rosica at a press conference Wednesday. John-Henry Westen / LifeSiteNews

Morales Solá’s interview with the pope was interspersed with his own commentary on Pope Francis’ papacy. According to the reporter, Pope Francis has “changed the agenda of the Church” and “very quickly radically changed [its] focus.” The pope’s new agenda, he said, has at times “pitted conservatives against reformers.”
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“Cardinals and bishops know that behind the friendly and warm smile is the iron will of the old Jesuit. The power of the Vatican bureaucracy is not discussed in his presence,” he wrote.
The Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, which runs from October 5-19, became a flashpoint of controversy in the months leading up to it as self-styled “reformers” agitated for change in Church practice, and in some cases, outright revision of doctrine. Critics of these “reformers” have met the challenge with vigorous defenses of Catholic teaching on marriage and family.
On Tuesday, the Holy See Press Office told reporters that some Synod participants proposed moving away from strong language in moral discourse, such as the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s description of homosexual behaviour as “intrinsically disordered,” or the common description of cohabitation as “living in sin.”
LifeSiteNews' Editor-in-Chief John-Henry Westen is in Rome for the Extraordinary Synod on the Family. For more LifeSiteNews coverage, visit our feature page.
Excerpts from Pope Francis’ interview with La Nacion, published October 5
Translated by LifeSiteNews
What does the Pope expect of synod which is currently opening? It should be noted at the outset, that the Synod is a gathering of bishops from around the world that has an advisory character and that its main purpose is to advise the pope on a given topic.
There are now in Rome about 200 cardinals and bishops from around the world who will be addressing the issue of the family. "Do not expect any final positions next week," says the Pope, ironically. "This will be a long synod, which will probably last a year. I am only giving it the initial push," he adds.
Are you worried about the book co-authored by five cardinals, one of whom is very prominent, which is critical of your positions? He doesn’t answer. “Everyone has something to contribute. I even enjoy debating with the very conservative, but intellectually well formed bishops,” he says.
The pope has let go of the reins of the synod. "I was the rapporteur of the 2001 synod and there was a cardinal who told us what should be discussed and what should not. That will not happen now. I even gave the bishops my power to elect committee chairmen. They will elect them, just like they will elect the secretaries and rapporteurs."
“Of course - he stresses - that's the synodal practice that I like. All should speak their mind freely. Freedom is always very important. Another thing is the government of the Church. That is in my hands, after I receive the necessary advice,” he emphasizes. Francis is a good pope, but not a pope that will be governed by others. This is very clear in his style of political and religious management.
This style is also seen in its relationship with Argentinian Church. He gave them full freedom to fix their positions on public issues. However, he unequivocally reserves his right to the appointment of bishops. The Conference of Bishops and the Nunciature often send the lists of candidates for the appointment of new bishops. Then the Pope must choose one of these candidates. Francis has already returned some of these lists because he did not like any of the candidates.
What conclusions would he like to draw from the synod?
“The family is such an important issues, so costly for society and for the Church," he says, adding, "There has been much emphasis on the issue of divorced people, and this is an aspect that undoubtedly will be debated. But, for me, an equally important problem is the new current, the new habits of today’s youth. Young people who are not getting married at all. It is a culture feature of our times. So many young people prefer to live together without marrying. What should the Church do? Expel them from its breast? Or, instead, approach them, embrace them and try to bring them the word of God? I'm with the latter position," he says.
"The world has changed and the Church cannot lock itself into alleged interpretations of dogma. We have to approach social conflicts, new and old, and try to give a hand of comfort, not to stigmatize and not to just impugn," he says.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Pope Francis launches review of marriage, divorce

  • by:
  • From: AFP
  • October 05, 2014 12:48PM
Pope Francis will launch a review of Catholic family teaching that could have implications for the church.
  • Pope Francis leads a vigil prayer in preparation for the synod on the family. Source: AFP
POPE Francis is launching a major review of Catholic teaching on the family that could have far-reaching implications for the Church’s attitude to marriage, cohabitation and divorce.
An extraordinary synod, or meeting, of nearly 200 bishops from around the world and a sprinkling of lay Catholics will, for the next two weeks, address the huge gulf between what the Church says on these issues and what tens of millions of believers actually do.
Addressing tens of thousands of believers in St Peter’s square on the eve of the synod overnight, Francis said the synod could open the door to a “renewal of the Church and society.”
Since becoming pontiff just over 18 months ago, Francis has repeatedly highlighted the “wounds” caused by family breakdown in modern society, while suggesting the Church needs to adapt to this new reality.
“The wounds have to be treated with mercy. The Church is a mother, not a customs office, coldly checking who is within the rules,” he has said, in an allusion to the many divorced people, cohabiting couples and single mothers within the ranks of the Church.
Pope Francis underlined where he stands last month by personally marrying 20 Roman couples, some of whom had been “living in sin” prior to their weddings.
In his 18 months in the Vatican, the 77-year-old Pope has already taken steps to overhaul the way the Vatican bank and administration are run and has sent out strong signals about the determination of the Church to deal with the issue of clerical sex abuse.
But a reform agenda on social issues could prove much harder to implement because of deep divisions within the Church, Vatican experts say.
Conservatives in the Church hierarchy have already made it clear they will fight any dilution of traditional doctrine.
The Church’s view of marriage has come to be seen as increasingly outdated by many in a world where, in some developed countries, nearly one in two marriages ends in divorce and where the notion of the institution itself has been challenged by the global trend towards the legalisation of same-sex weddings.
The bishops gathered in Rome are certainly not about to embrace gay marriage and few Vatican observers expect much, if any, change on questions such as contraception, another area where Catholic teaching contrasts with the daily practice of millions.
But with Francis on the side of reform, the feeling is that the synod process could lead to some highly symbolic changes when it finally reaches conclusions, which is not expected to happen before 2016 at the earliest.
The most notable of these could be a change in the rules to make it possible for Catholics who divorce and then remarry to receive communion.
That has been banned for centuries but critics say the Church’s stance is ludicrous given that individuals who have declared their repentance from more serious breaches of the Christian code, including murder or involvement in organised crime, can take communion.
While the Church may not yet be ready to take a step that would amount to a de facto acceptance of divorce in certain circumstances, the discussions could result in steps to make it easier for failed marriages to be annulled.
Another area in which the Church could send out a signal of compassion is by making it clear that priests should be ready to baptise the children of same sex couples, regardless of the doctrinal disapproval of their parents’ union.
The synod will also discuss how priests and parishioners can practically help to shore up marriages within their community. Among questions to be addressed on that score is whether the easy availability of pornography in modern society is a factor in family breakdown.



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