Pope Francis’s trip to Chile and Peru

Former Secretary of State John Kerry greets Pope Francis at Andrews Air Force Base on September 24, 2015 (Photo: Wikimedia)

JANUARY 14, 2018 – Pope Francis’s first trip of 2018 will begin on Monday as the pontiff arrives in Santiago, Chile at the start of a weeklong trip to Chile and Peru. The pope’s January 15-21 visit will have him face challenges within the Chilean and Peruvian churches and issues of domestic policy in both countries. He will meet with the presidents of both nations, speak with the nations’ bishops, and meet with other groups of clergy and laity.

Local observers believe that the trip will confront a series of cases of clergy sex abuse in Chile. Complicating the issue is Francis’s 2015 appointment of Bishop Juan Barros Madrid of Osorno, Chile. Bishop Barros has been accused of covering up abuse in the 1980s/1990s.

The pope will also meet with two victims of Chile’s former dictatorship during his visit there.

Francis will leave Chile on January 18 for Peru. On Wednesday, January 10, Francis appointed a Colombian bishop to oversee Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, a controversial Catholic society of apostolic life based in Peru. In May 2016, the Pope named then Archbishop Joseph Tobin as the pontifical delegate charged with overseeing the community’s investigation and reform following reports of sexual and psychological abuse. The decision to appoint Colombian Bishop Noel Antonio Londoño Buitrago C.Ss.R. as the group’s papal commissioner this week was no doubt related to the pope’s upcoming trip to Peru.

It is expected that Francis will raise issues of inequality during both visits, with perhaps a focus on corruption in Peru. Additionally, the pontiff is set to meet with members of Chile’s Mapuche native community on January 17. Relations between the community and the Chilean government have been tense for decades, with occasional outbursts of violence, and a recently proposed program for reparations/representation has been met with division within Chile.


This summary utilizes several articles:

For the National Catholic Reporter‘s article on the pope’s need to restore trust in the Chileans and Peruvian churches, click here.

For Crux‘s article on the papal meeting with victims of Chile’s dictatorship, click here.

For the Catholic News Agency’s report on the appointment of an overseer for Sodalitium during its ongoing crisis, click here.

For information on the pope’s meeting with indigenous peoples via Vatican News, click here.

For Pope Francis’s schedule during the trip via Crux, click here.

Alliance for Catholic Education organizes run fundraiser for Georgia school

(Photo: Snapwire)

JANUARY 11, 2018 – At St. Peter Claver Regional School in Decatur, Georgia, students in the “Kilometer Kids club” take their runs in the school parking lot, avoiding their open grass field due to an administrative prohibition on its use. “Administrators fear divots and other hazards [in the field] could wreck an ankle, putting it off limits. Soccer-loving students play in the gym, and the runners use the parking lot for now.”

However, students are hopeful that funds can be raised to build a track at the school. At the Publix Georgia Marathon, Half Marathon & 5K in Atlanta on March 18, 2018, the school will be sponsoring a group of runners. Christina Mirarchi, a graduate student with the Alliance for Catholic Education (ACE)
program and a teacher at St. Peter Claver, is helping to organize the fundraiser for the school. Four ACE teachers from Atlanta,
including Mirarchi, will take part in the race, while an expected 44 ACE Teaching Fellows from across the country will run as well.

“More than a dozen staff and family members of people connected to the school are participating in the Publix Marathon. Principal Susanne Greenwood is raising money by running in the 5K race, an option offered in addition to the long distance runs.”

“At a summer retreat for ACE Fellows, Mirarchi pitched the fundraising idea. She advocated for the unique school where students speak languages other than English at home, including Spanish, Burmese, Zotung, Malay and Amharic.”

“ACE is a program of the University of Notre Dame, which trains and places teachers in underserved Catholic schools across the United States. The program offers college graduates a two-year experience teaching in Catholic schools. At the program’s end, the fellows receive a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Notre Dame.”

“The team’s goal for the event is $25,000. Some $1,500 has been pledged.”

For the full story in The Georgia Bulletin (Archdiocese of Atlanta), click here.

For more information on the Alliance for Catholic Education, click here.

FOCUS Student Leadership Summit – Equipping young people with tools to evangelize

JANUARY 9, 2018 – Although the conference has ended, the roughly 8,000 young adults who attended SLS18 (Student Leadership Summit 2018) in Chicago are unlikely to forget the experience any time soon.

Sponsored by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS), SLS18 was held from January 2 to 6 at Chicago’s McCormack Place. Organizers say more than 4,000 confessions were heard over the five-day event. The conference included Mass and confession, along with Eucharistic Adoration, but also had workshops, lectures, concerts, and performers.

The Fellowship of Catholic University Students has 700 representatives on 137 university campuses in the U.S. and Europe. John Zimmer, Vice President of Apostolic Development for FOCUS, praised the large turnout for the conference as a means of personal enlightenment for young adults: “There’s something about recognizing ‘I’m not alone’ that really helps launch a young person into missionary discipleship.”

For the full article in the Chicago Catholic, click here.

For information on the conference through the Catholic News Agency, click here.


Bishop Robert Barron at SLS18 via Facebook:

Bishop Robert Barron at SLS18

The need for change in our world starts with a change in ourselves. Bishop Robert Barron shares the need for world-changers who are Spirit-filled Catholic evangelists.

Posted by FOCUS-The Fellowship of Catholic University Students on Tuesday, January 2, 2018


Actor Jim Caviezel (The Passion of the Christ) speaking at SLS18:

Pope Francis addresses North Korea, says world peace depends on right to life and disarmament

(Photo: Pixabay)

JANUARY 8, 2018 – Pope Francis delivered his annual address to the Holy See’s diplomats on Monday. In his 50-minute speech – which he dedicated to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the UN in 1948 and which will celebrate its 70th anniversary in December – the pontiff covered a wide-range of challenges facing the world today.

Francis exhorted world leaders to pursue a “reduction of recourse to the use of armed force in the handling of international affairs.” He also called on governments to provide universal healthcare for all, to respect commitments to the environment, integrate migrants, and work towards nuclear disarmament. Francis further called for exploration of “peace initiatives aimed at helping Syria,” and called on all nations to respect “the status quo of Jerusalem, a city sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims.”

For the article in America, click here.

For the full-text of Pope Francis’s speech, click here.

Participating in the March for Life? There’s an indulgence for that

(Photo: Pixabay)

JANUARY 7, 2018 – The Archdiocese of Washington and the Diocese of Arlington have announced that Catholics participating in the 45th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. on January 19 will be able to receive a plenary indulgence for doing so.

A letter singed by Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington and Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington on December 20 states that an indulgence could be awarded to those who “take part in the sacred celebrations, along with the great assembly of people, throughout the whole course of the annual event that
is called ‘March for Life.”

The March for Life is an annual rally held by pro-life groups to mark the Supreme Court’s January 22, 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. It is the most prominent rally held in the U.S. by anti-abortion groups to mark the Roe v. Wade decision and is usually accompanied by smaller protests nationwide.

For more information via the Catholic News Agency, click here.

FEMA to allow aid for religious groups

JANUARY 3, 2018: In a reversal of earlier rulings, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced on Tuesday (January 2, 2018) that houses of worship will be eligible to receive federal disaster relief funds that were previously limited to private non-profit organizations with no religious affiliation.

FEMA Administrator Brock Long wrote to Texas Governor Greg Abbott, stating that “Effective for any major disaster declared on or after August 23, 2017, private nonprofit organizations operating a house of worship are now eligible under the FEMA Public Assistance Program.”

Three Texas churches had filed a lawsuit against FEMA in September 2017 after being denied federal relief funds in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, arguing that their eligibility for disaster relief could not be denied solely because of their religious status due to the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Hurricane Harvey dealt tens of billions of dollars of damage to Texas and Florida in late August 2017.

As the Catholic News Agency reports, “Now, FEMA will permit houses of worship damaged during the hurricane to retroactively apply for aid, and any other church damaged in a storm in the future will also be eligible for these funds.”

For the article via Catholic News Agency, click here.

Vatican updates guidelines on authenticating relics

 Over the past weekend the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints issued a new instruction that clarifies and details the canonical procedures to be followed by local bishops in an effort to verify the authenticity of relics and the mortal remains of saints and blesseds, as well as better guarantee a relic’s preservation, approve and track its movements, and promote its veneration.

The instruction replaces the appendix, “Canonical Recognition of the Mortal Remains of the Servant of God,” included with “Sanctorum Mater,” the congregation’s “Instruction for Conducting Diocesan or Eparchal Inquiries in the Causes of Saints,” released in 2007.

For the entire Catholic News Service (Dec. 18, 2017) report, via NCR, click here.

Practical ways for priests to help combat pornography

Catholic News Agency (Dec. 19, 2017) posted a article that addresses how priests can help people dealing with porn addiction.

As most people know, including grade school kids; once confined to magazines like Playboy and the now defunct Confidential, porn is more anonymous and prolific and can be in the hands of anyone with a smartphone in seconds.

Knowing this, Father Sean McCawley, a priest of the Diocese of Lincoln and theological advisor for a pornography ministry called Integrity Restored, has begun to put on intensive trainings for clergy, providing them resources and practical tips for how to address the growing crisis of pornography addiction.

For an intensive training, Fr. Kilcawley takes a dozen or so priests for 3-4 days and immerses them in resources and training for the porn-addicted in their fold. He also facilitates shorter, one-day conferences.

“We try to equip the priest to get that person to come talk to them outside of confession, just to bring that into the light, so that the priest can then become the first responder in the field hospital of the church,” Fr. Kilcawley told CNA.

For the entire CNA posting with helpful links, click here.

On millennials and religion

Martin E. Marty, the Fairfax M. Cone, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of the History of Christianity at University of Chicago Divinity School, writes in his “Sightings” column for Religion News Service (Dec. 12, 2017) that while millennials may not practice going to church a lot, many are active doing the work of the  “church” in other ways.

Marty set about thinking about millennials while reading a denominational magazine, Living Lutheran, in which appeared a headline, “The Millennial Mystery: a generation distanced from the church, yet longing for community.”

Citing Jose Ortega y Gasset’s guiding theme where the Spanish philosopher states: “Decisive historical changes do not come from great wars, terrible cataclysms, or ingenious inventions: it is enough that the heart of man incline its sensitive crown to one side or the other of the horizon, toward optimism or toward pessimism, toward heroism or toward utility, toward combat or toward peace,” Marty notes that many millennials follow their heart by being “hospice nurses, inner-city pastors, alert volunteers in causes where they are needed, sitters-in rising from the pews, and other often-overlooked stewards of generosity and purpose far from the headlines.”

For the entire RNS article, click here.

Cardinal to confessors: Your ministry doesn’t make noise, but miracles.

Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy extolled the importance of the sacrament of Penance in a letter to confessors to mark the beginning of a new liturgical year.

The letter made available through Zenit News Agency (Dec. 3, 2017), stressed to confessors the importance of guidance and accompaniment. “…you must place penitents on the path of sanctity, exercising over them, in an appropriate way, a true teaching, a ministry of guidance and accompaniment.”

He went on to say, “Your ministry, dear friends and Confessors, doesn’t make noise but yes miracles. No one perceives, but God sees and this is what matters.”

For the letter to all confessors, click here.