Employers “commit grave sin” if workers transferred or dismissed due to shady business deals: Pope Francis

Near the end of Pope Francis’ Wednesday general audience on March 15, he mentioned that businesses that close down factories and dismiss or transfer employees due to “unclear economic maneuvers or negotiations … commit a very grave sin.”

The pope was referring to the Italian television company, Sky Italia, hoping that “their employment situation may find a rapid solution, respecting the rights of all, especially families.”

According to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Sky Italia claimed the move was due to rising costs and an outdated digital infrastructure in Rome. Local workers’ unions have criticized the company’s decision that will force 300 workers to transfer from the capital while an estimated 200 employees will be left without a job.

For a transcript of the pope’s Wednesday general audience courtesy of Zenit News Agency (March 15, 2017), click here.

For the Catholic News Service (March 15, 2017) report, click here.

A report on the John S. Marten Program in Homiletics and Liturgies

Crux News (March 11, 2017) reports on the Marten Program in Homiletics and Liturgies at the University of Notre Dame. The program is sponsoring its biennial preaching conference at the Notre Dame campus July 24-26.

For the Crux report, click here.

For more on the Preaching Academy, click here.

The first four years of Pope Francis 

Pope Francis will celebrate the fourth anniversary of his papacy on March 13.  We’re posting an essay by Jesuit Father Thomas Reese, senior analyst at the National Catholic Reporter who writes about the pope’s “five great achievements.”

For Fr. Reese’s essay, click here.

Vocation crisis a problem for the church

In a wide-ranging interview with the German magazine Die Zeit published on March 9, Pope Francis described the vocation crisis a problem the church must resolve.

In a report of the interview on the America magazine web site, the pope said he sympathizes with Catholics who come to Mass only to discover that there is no priest available to celebrate the Eucharist. “This weakens the church because a church without the Eucharist has no strength.”

The interviewer asked: “What about viri probati, those men of proven virtue, who are married but can be ordained deacons because of their exemplary Catholic moral conduct?”

The pope answered: “We need to consider if viri probati could be a possibility. If so, we would need to determine what duties they could undertake, for example, in remote communities.”

To the larger question about the shortage of priests the pope said the first response is prayer. After prayer he recommended working “with youth who are seeking orientation. And this is very difficult, the work with youth, but it must be done because they ask for this: the youth are the great discarded ones in modern society, because they have no work in many countries.”

“For vocations, there is also another problem,” he said, “the problem of the birthrate. If there are no young men there can be no priests.”

For the America magazine (March 8, 2013) posting, click here.

For the Zenit News Agency (March 9, 2017) report, click here.


Pope to priests: Marriage preparation is more than a few courses

In speaking to a group of parish priests who were participating in a formation course for the Tribunal of the Roman Rota dedicated to the new marriage annulment process, Pope Francis said that good marriage preparation extends even to the first few years after marriage. His remarks took place on Feb. 25.

He went on to say, “Part of this formation process means being thorough, not “to make preparation with two or three meetings and then go forward.”

During marriage prep, couples must be helped to understand “the profound meaning of the step that they are about to take.” This support must also continue through the celebration of marriage itself and even through the first years after, he said.

Continuing on Pope Francis noted, “I ask myself how many of these youth who come to marriage preparation courses understand what ‘marriage,’ the sign of the union of Christ and the Church, means. They say yes, but do they understand this? Do they have faith in this?” he asked, and voiced his conviction that “a true catechumenate is needed for the sacrament of marriage.

For the entire Crux (Feb. 27, 2017) report, click here.

For a Commentary by Crux contributor Fr. Dwight Longenecker, click here.

Does multicultural ministry in the US need a reset?

In an essay appearing on the Catholic News Agency (March 2, 2017) website, Monsignor M. Francis Mannion, founding president of The Society for Catholic Liturgy and founder editor of the Society’s journal, Antiphon, writes that there are fewer differences in ministering to the diverse ethnic communities than one would think.

Msgr. Mannion distinguishes that while there are differences on the level of cultural customs and practices, on the anthropological level, which anthropologists call “’deep structures’ of cultures’ there are notable and striking similarities.”

He writes, “Consider, for instance, that the cultures just mentioned hold in common many of the following characteristics: a pervasive sense of divine presence in ordinary life; an attachment to place and a closeness to the earth; a strong communal memory; a heroic attitude in the face of suffering and deprivation; a deep consciousness of the home as a holy place; reverence for parents, elders, and ancestors; a closely knit communal life; a well-developed system of group festivity and celebration; and a ritualized response to birth, human transition, and death. I would call these cultures “traditional-communal.”

Msgr. Mannion contends what he describes as “liberal-individualistic” mainstream US Catholic culture is the problem. He goes on to write, “The kind of American Catholicism which is liberal-individualistic is fundamentally incapable of dealing with ethnic and immigrant communities, especially the newer ones. It simply does not understand them and tries in vain to reach across the divide that separates liberal-individualistic cultures from traditional-communal ones.”

He goes on to suggest that if diocesan and parish liturgy programs become less “liberal-individualistic” and discover mainstream Catholicism’s traditional-communal roots, it could become more fully Catholic.

For Msgr. Mannion’s entire CNA essay, click here.

Memory, the true essence of faith: Pope Francis

In a reflection to the priests of the Diocese of Rome on March 2, Pope Francis said, “It’s important to get back to the roots of our faith.” He spoke to the priests at their traditional appointment at the beginning of Lent, which took place at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the mother church of the Diocese of Rome.

For Pope Francis, the “truly revolutionary thing” is “to go to the roots.” To have the concept understood better, he rattled off one of his personal anecdotes, of when during the Exercises, not understanding the preacher, he had in mind a writing that his grandmother had on her night table: “Pay attention as God is looking at you, think that you will die and you don’t know when.” “At that moment, I was blocked and I went forward in prayer, the memory helped me,” confided the Holy Father.

He said it is necessary always to keep in mind that to progress in the faith, “is [also] an exercise in returning with the memory to fundamental graces.”

In another part of his reflection to the Roman priests, Pope Francis said, “Faith is a continuing path of growth and maturity that cannot progress without the presence of temptations.

Referring to St. Peter, the pope said temptation was always a part of his life. And he continued, temptation is “always present in our lives.”

“Moreover, without temptation, you cannot progress in faith. In the ‘Our Father,’ we ask for the grace to not fall but not to not be tempted,” he said.

The Vatican said Pope Francis spent about 45 minutes hearing confessions, offering the sacrament to a dozen priests before beginning his talk.

For the Zenit News Agency (March 2, 2017) report, click here.

For a transcript of the pope’s remarks, click here.

For the Catholic News Service (March 2, 2017) report, click here.

John Allen conducts an interview with Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput

Crux editor John Allen Jr. conducted an interview with Most Rev. Charles Chaput, OFM Cap. Archbishop of Philadelphia on Feb. 27. The interview was done in conjunction with the publication of the archbishop’s new book titled, Strangers in a Strange Land: Living the Catholic Faith in a Post-Christian World.

The archbishop shares his insights on Pope Francis, his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, the current US political situation, what he means by “post-Christian,” and more.

For excerpts of the interview from the Crux web site, click here.

Bishop McElroy calls on leaders to “see, judge, and act” – “disrupt and rebuild”

Bp_McElroyIn an impassioned presentation to the US Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements held in Modesto, Calif. from Feb. 17-19, San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy reminded the social justice activists, some of who were not Catholic, of Pope St. John XXIII words from his 1961 encyclical Mater et Magistra to “see, judge, and act” when reading the “signs of he times.”

Specifically referring to threats of the current administration in Washington “to deport the undocumented, to rip mothers and fathers from their families” to take away medical care, food stamps and nutrition assistance from the mouths of children, Bishop McElroy said now we must become “disruptors.” He went on to say, “We must disrupt those who portray refugees as enemies rather than our brothers and sisters in terrible need. We must disrupt those who train us to see Muslim men, women and children as forces of fear rather than as children of God.”

And Bishop McElroy said we also need to be rebuilders, “We cannot merely be disruptors, we have to be rebuilders. We have to rebuild this nation so that we place at its heart the service to the dignity of the human person and assert what that flag behinds us asserts is our heritage: Every man, woman and child is equal in this nation and called to be equal. We must rebuild a nation in solidarity, what Catholic teaching calls the sense that all of us are the children of the one God, there are no children of a lesser god in our midst.”

The meeting was organized by PICO National Network, the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development and the Vatican’s office for Promoting Integral Human Development. 700 activists attended the event.

Bishop McElroy will give an address at the NFPC annual Convocation on Thursday, April 27 on the Pastoral Theology of Pope Francis.

For Bishop McElroy’s entire presentation, click here.

For a Commonweal commentary by John Gehring, click here.

For the Catholic News Agency (Feb. 22, 2017) report, click here.

Pope Francis comes down hard on Catholics who live a double life

In his homily at the Thursday morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis denounced Catholics who go to mass and participate in Church associations, yet don’t pay fair wages to employees or are involved in money laundering. He labeled it living a “double life.”

“It is a double life, a double life. A totally double life: ‘I am very Catholic, I always go to Mass, I belong to this association and that one; but my life is not Christian, I don’t pay my workers a just wage, I exploit people, I am dirty in my business, I launder money…’ A double life. And so many Christians are like this, and these people scandalize others,” the Pope said.

He also talked about scandal and tied it to leading a double life. According to the pope, Jesus says in the Gospel that those who are the cause of scandal- “without using the word ‘scandal,’ but it’s understood”- will knock on the doors of heaven and introduce themselves to God, saying, “Don’t you remember me? I went to Church, I was close to you … Don’t you remember all the offerings I gave?”

To these, Francis argued, on judgment day God will say: “Yes, I remember those: All dirty. All stolen from the poor. I don’t know you.”

This, the pontiff insisted, will be the response Jesus will give to Catholics who lead a double life.

For the Zenit News Agency (Feb. 23, 2017) report, click here.

For the Crux (Feb. 23, 2017), report click here.