Church needs missionaries, not ‘clericalized’ laity, pope says

Pope Francis speaks during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 12. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis speaks during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican April 12. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Catholic Church needs laypeople with a missionary spirit, which means Catholics do not have to try to force members into a vocation that is the Holy Spirit’s to give, Pope Francis said.

The temptation to impose a vocation on laypeople as some kind of validation of their service in the church “worries me,” the pope said April 27 during a meeting with members of Catholic Action.

“What has happened many times in dioceses?” the pope asked. “A priest comes and says, ‘I have a phenomenal layman who does this, this and that; he is a good organizer. What if we make him a deacon?’ Stop! Don’t give him a vocation that is up to the Holy Spirit to give him. Do not clericalize!” Continue reading

Posted in Vatican

Between election rounds, French cardinal deplores ‘democracy gone mad’

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, France, before the start of Pope Francis' general audience April 26. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, France, before the start of Pope Francis’ general audience April 26. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Jonathan Luxmoore
Catholic News Service

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) — France’s Catholic primate has condemned the current presidential campaign as his country’s “worst ever” and urged Christians to help prevent democracy from “losing its sense.”

“Left and right rivaled each other and had their radical wings, but there was also a center. Now, left and right have stepped back, and the main candidates are divided by other unclear criteria. I have the impression our voters are totally lost,” said Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon. Continue reading

Posted in World

Catholic chaplain accompanies anguished circus workers on final tour

Father Jerry Hogan, national circus chaplain, smiles after blessing people with holy water at Easter Mass for circus workers April 16 in Worcester, Mass. (CNS/Tanya Connor, The Catholic Free Press)

Father Jerry Hogan, national circus chaplain, smiles after blessing people with holy water at Easter Mass for circus workers April 16 in Worcester, Mass. (CNS/Tanya Connor, The Catholic Free Press)

By Tanya Connor
Catholic News Service

WORCESTER, Mass. (CNS) — The congregation, numbering about 50, gathered for their last Easter Mass together on the DCU Center’s arena floor.

The chaplain, Father George “Jerry” Hogan, borrowed one of their colorful boxes to use as an altar. The altar cloths and his chasuble sported circus images. Costume designers had sewn pieces of old elephant blankets together to make his stole.

The backdrop suggested the reason for such an unusual liturgical environment: The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus had come to town to offer shows on Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday.

But it isn’t all “fun and games” for performers and other circus workers, some of whom attended the Mass before the Easter shows. While “they’ve always performed during Holy Week,” they are now going through the paschal mystery themselves, Father Hogan told The Catholic Free Press, newspaper of the Diocese of Worcester. Continue reading

Posted in U.S.

Michigan head coach says meeting pope was ’emotional’

Jim Harbaugh, head football coach for the University of Michigan, and his wife, Sarah, chat with Pope Francis after presenting him with a team football helmet during the pope's general audience April 26. (CNS/L'Osservatore Romano)

Jim Harbaugh, head football coach for the University of Michigan, and his wife, Sarah, chat with Pope Francis after presenting him with a team football helmet during the pope’s general audience April 26. (CNS/L’Osservatore Romano)

By Junno Arocho Esteves
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As someone accustomed to the stress of the gridiron, University of Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh said he was touched by Pope Francis’ peaceful presence.

“The way he talks is peaceful, it’s calm. It felt like this is what it would be like to meet Jesus Christ. That’s what it felt like to me. It was very emotional,” the coach told journalists April 26.

Harbaugh and his wife, Sarah, briefly greeted the pope following his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square earlier that day.

“I said, ‘Buenos dias, Santo Padre’ (‘Good morning, Holy Father’), and then my wife came in and told him that she loved him. He held her hand and prayed and asked that we pray for him,” Harbaugh recalled. Continue reading

Posted in Vatican

Why be afraid when God is always showing the way, pope says at audience

Pope Francis greets pilgrims at his general audience in St. Peter's Square April 26. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis greets pilgrims at his general audience in St. Peter’s Square April 26. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians always have hope, no matter how bleak, bad or uncertain the journey, because they know God is always by their side, Pope Francis said.

In fact, “even crossing parts of the world (that are) wounded, where things are not going well, we are among those who, even there, continue to hope,” he said at his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square April 26.

Just a few days before his visit to Cairo April 28-29, the pope continued his series of talks on the nature of Christian hope, saying it is rooted in knowing God will always be present, even to the end of time. Continue reading

Posted in Vatican

In TED talk, pope urges people to make real connections

This is a screen grab with an image of Pope Francis from ted.com. The pope was a surprise presenter in a video talk played April 25 for 1,800 people attending TED 2017 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and posted online with subtitles in 20 languages. (CNS photo/TED.com)

By Keanine Griggs
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — While searching for a connection today often means looking for Wi-Fi, Pope Francis said real connections between people are the only hope for the future.

“How wonderful would it be if the growth of scientific and technological innovation would come along with more equality and social inclusion,” he said in a video talk played April 25 for 1,800 people attending TED 2017 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and posted online with subtitles in 20 languages.

“How wonderful would it be, while we discover faraway planets, to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around us,” the pope said in the talk that TED organizers had been advertising as that of a “surprise guest.”

Continue reading

Posted in World, Vatican

Byzantine Catholic dedicates life to spreading Fatima message

Natalie Martha Loya, pictured in an undated photo, gazes at a statue of Our Lady of Fatima that crisscrossed the country with her during her 35-year apostolate of spreading the Fatima message. (CNS/Laura Leraci, Horizons)

Natalie Martha Loya, pictured in an undated photo, gazes at a statue of Our Lady of Fatima that crisscrossed the country with her during her 35-year apostolate of spreading the Fatima message. (CNS/Laura Leraci, Horizons)

By Laura Ieraci
Catholic News Service

CHICAGO (CNS) — Natalie Martha Loya sits in the front pew of the Byzantine Catholic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Parma, Ohio, every Sunday morning.

Quiet and unassuming, the 91-year-old makes her way to her seat for the liturgy, slowly up the center aisle with her well-worn walker. Few of her fellow parishioners know this now frail-looking woman once crisscrossed the continent, sometimes through harrowing storms, as an intrepid messenger of Mary.

During this centennial of the Marian apparitions in Fatima, Portugal, Loya remains fervent about the message Mary imparted there. It is a message Martha has shared with tens of thousands of listeners in years past: Mary wants people to return to God. Continue reading

Posted in U.S.