Church leaders: Restoration on Jesus’ tomb signals new cooperation

The restored Edicule is seen during a ceremony marking the end of restoration work on the site of Jesus's tomb at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher March 22. (CNS/Reuters)

The restored Edicule is seen during a ceremony marking the end of restoration work on the site of Jesus’s tomb at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher March 22. (CNS/Reuters)

By Judith Sudilovsky
Catholic News Service

JERUSALEM (CNS) — Less than a year after restoration work began, the Edicule — the traditional site of Jesus’ burial and resurrection — was inaugurated in an ecumenical ceremony led by representatives of the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, and Armenian churches, including Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.

The 200-year-old structure was rehabilitated for the first time after Israeli authorities deemed it unsafe and leaders from the three churches that share custody of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher came to an agreement for the work to proceed.

Some did not believe the churches could overcome their centuries-old disagreements, but the project was a sign that “with God, nothing is impossible,” Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, said at the March 22 ceremony. Continue reading

Posted in World

At 50, ‘Populorum Progressio’ takes on new life through Pope Francis

A woman and dog are seen amid garbage along a street in 2015 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Blessed Paul VI's 1967 encyclical "Populorum Progressio" rooted the Catholic Church in solidarity with the world's poorest nations. (CNS/Bob Roller)

A woman and dog are seen amid garbage along a street in 2015 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Blessed Paul VI’s 1967 encyclical “Populorum Progressio” rooted the Catholic Church in solidarity with the world’s poorest nations. (CNS/Bob Roller)

By Dennis Sadowski
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — These days when Pope Francis talks about integral human development and his vision of a church that goes to the margins of the world, he undoubtedly thanks a predecessor of 50 years ago for the inspiration.

Blessed Paul VI addressed “the progressive development of peoples” as “an object of deep interest and concern to the church” in his encyclical “Populorum Progressio” (“The Progress of Peoples”) that emerged in the years following the Second Vatican Council.

Pope Francis has used language similar to that in the encyclical in his admonitions of the world economy and his vision for a more merciful world.

Released March 26, 1967 — perhaps purposefully on Easter — Blessed Paul’s encyclical rooted the Catholic Church in solidarity with the world’s poorest nations. He called for the elimination of economic disparity and reminded people to recognize the common threads that unite humanity in a world with finite resources. Continue reading

Posted in U.S.

World needs those who can bring God’s hope, consolation, pope says

Pope Francis smiles during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican March 22. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis smiles during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican March 22. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christian hope is built on patiently enduring everything life brings and knowing how to see God’s presence and love everywhere, Pope Francis said.

God “never tires of loving us” as he “takes care of us, dressing our wounds with the caress of his goodness and his mercy, meaning, he consoles us and he never tires of consoling us,” the pope said during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square March 22.

The pope also invited all Catholics to “rediscover the sacrament of reconciliation” during the Lenten season by taking part in the “24 Hours for the Lord” initiative, being held March 23-24 in many dioceses and parishes worldwide. The pope asked people to make time for confession to “experience the joyful encounter with the mercy of the father,” who welcomes and forgives everyone. Continue reading

Posted in Vatican

U.S. Catholics asked to accompany migrants, refugees seeking better life

A woman holds a child’s hand as they arrive for a rally in support of immigrants’ rights in New York City Dec. 18, 2016. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

(Updated 11:10 a.m. ET)

By Julie Asher
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The U.S. bishops in a pastoral reflection released March 22 called all Catholics to do what each of them can “to accompany migrants and refugees who seek a better life in the United States.”

Titled “Living as a People of God in Unsettled Times,” the reflection was issued “in solidarity with those who have been forced to flee their homes due to violence, conflict or fear in their native lands,” said a news release from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Continue reading

Posted in U.S., World

Famine, worsened by war, threatens South Sudanese, official says

A woman carries food provided by U.S. Agency for International Development in Pajut, South Sudan, March 17. (CNS/Nancy McNally, Catholic Relief Services)

A woman carries food provided by U.S. Agency for International Development in Pajut, South Sudan, March 17. (CNS/Nancy McNally, Catholic Relief Services)

(Updated March 22)

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Some 5 million people in South Sudan — half of its total population — are on the brink of starvation and a quarter of a million children are already severely malnourished, a representative from the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Relief Services said.

Famine has already gripped 100,000 people in Unity State and other parts of the nation, and if emergency food and aid don’t get to people soon, “people will start starving to death or they will die of dehydration,” Jerry Farrell, country representative in South Sudan for CRS, told Catholic News Service March 21.

Farrell and other representatives from dioceses, CRS, Caritas and other Catholic aid and development agencies working in South Sudan were in Rome for a meeting March 21-22 hosted by Caritas Internationalis to discuss the worsening crisis in the country. Continue reading

Posted in Vatican

Don’t treat confessional like a dry cleaners, pope says

Pope Francis gives the homily at one of his morning Masses in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae. (CNS file/L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis gives the homily at one of his morning Masses in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae. (CNS file/L’Osservatore Romano)

By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The confessional is a place where one can go to humbly seek forgiveness; it is not a dry cleaners where one goes to remove the occasional stain, Pope Francis said.

While forgiveness is “God’s great work of mercy,” Christians can take for granted the power of the sacrament of reconciliation and confess while being “unable to be ashamed” of their sins, the pope said March 21 in his homily during morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae.

“You did not go there ashamed of what you did. You saw some stains on your conscience and you were mistaken because you believed the confessional was a dry cleaners to remove stains,” he said. Continue reading

Posted in Vatican

Church experience more than just a cut-and-run flash mob, pope tells youth

By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Young men and women can live a true experience of the church by joining together and reconnecting with the past, Pope Francis told Catholic young people.

“The genuine experience of the church is not like a flash mob, where people agree to meet, do their thing and then go their separate ways,” the pope said in his message for World Youth Day 2017.

The message, released March 21 at the Vatican, centered on a verse of the Magnificat: “The Mighty One has done great things for me.”

Pope Francis has chosen several verses that reflect on Mary’s faith from the first chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke as the themes for World Youth Day 2017-2019. This year and next, World Youth Day will be celebrated on a local level — on Palm Sunday at the Vatican — and in 2019 it will be an international gathering in Panama. Continue reading

Posted in Vatican