Archive for Pope Francis

Catholic bishops criticize transgender letter

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Catholic bishops who are chairmen of committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) released a statement today responding to the Obama administration’s Justice and Education Departments’ directive sent out Friday to schools across the country.

The statement was issued by Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo and Archbishop George Lucas. Bishop Malone is the Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. Archbishop Lucas is Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Catholic Education.

The statement from the bishops quotes Amoris Laetitia, an apostolic exhortation on love in the family written by Pope Francis and released in April.

One mention from Amoris Laetitia:

The guidance fails to address a number of important concerns and contradicts a basic understanding of human formation so well expressed by Pope Francis: that “the young need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created”

An excerpt from the statement:

Children, youth, and parents in these difficult situations deserve compassion, sensitivity, and respect. All of these can be expressed without infringing on legitimate concerns about privacy and security on the part of the other young students and parents. The federal regulatory guidance issued on May 13 does not even attempt to achieve this balance. It unfortunately does not respect the ongoing political discussion at the state and local levels and in Congress, or the broader cultural discussion, about how best to address these sensitive issues. Rather, the guidance short-circuits those discussions entirely.

The Obama administration directive and the statement in response from the Catholic bishops came amidst reaction to the debate nationally over a state legislative matter in North Carolina. HB2 became law in North Carolina after it was signed by Gov. Pat McCrory. The law itself was a reaction to local legislation in Charlotte.

 

Full Text of Statement from Catholic Bishops

The Catholic Church consistently affirms the inherent dignity of each and every human person and advocates for the wellbeing of all people, particularly the most vulnerable. Especially at a young age and in schools, it is important that our children understand the depth of God’s love for them and their intrinsic worth and beauty. Children should always be and feel safe and secure and know they are loved.

The guidance issued May 13 by the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education that treats “a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex” is deeply disturbing. The guidance fails to address a number of important concerns and contradicts a basic understanding of human formation so well expressed by Pope Francis: that “the young need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created” (Amoris Laetitia [AL], no. 285).

Children, youth, and parents in these difficult situations deserve compassion, sensitivity, and respect. All of these can be expressed without infringing on legitimate concerns about privacy and security on the part of the other young students and parents. The federal regulatory guidance issued on May 13 does not even attempt to achieve this balance. It unfortunately does not respect the ongoing political discussion at the state and local levels and in Congress, or the broader cultural discussion, about how best to address these sensitive issues. Rather, the guidance short-circuits those discussions entirely.

As Pope Francis has recently indicated, “‘biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated'” (AL, no. 56, emphasis added). We pray that the government make room for more just and compassionate approaches and policies in this sensitive area, in order to serve the good of all students and parents, as well as the common good. We will be studying the guidance further to understand the full extent of its implications.

Pope Francis called “anti-Christ” by GOP pols

Pope FrancisPolitico brings us a story that tells us a “New Hampshire state representative who supports Donald Trump referred to the pope as the ‘anti-Christ’ in a Facebook post thread.”

Plenty of Trump supporters, some of whom might even be conservative Republicans, made similar comments after the Pope’s comments on immigration last week.

DeLemus chickened out after the story came to light. She made her Twitter feed private and it appears she deleted all the comments on the Facebook thread she originally made the remarks on.

Her original comment:

“The Pope is the anti-Christ. Do your research,” DeLemus wrote, following up in the thread saying “I’m not sure who the Pope truly has in his heart.”

After Politico called her, she tried to back out of her statement about Pope Francis but she ends up making an even more offensive ones as far as Catholics are concerned:

DeLemus on Monday told POLITICO she was actually referring to the papacy.

“I was actually referencing the papacy. And what I wrote after that ‘do your research,’ if you read the Geneva Bible, which is the Bible I use when we study, the commentary is—actually by the founders of the United States actually, the Protestant Church—their commentary references the papacy as the anti-Christ,” DeLemus said. “And I think actually in one part of it, and I don’t remember who it was that wrote it, there was one of the popes that they had referenced as the anti-Christ. So that’s all I was referring to, the papacy, not particularly that one particular pope because the papacy is a seat. It’s not just one person.”

She added, “I’m not saying the pope is going to start growing horns and a tail and start poking people.”

Sure, dig your hole deeper by saying the embodiment of a major doctrine of the Catholic Church through its entire history is the anti-Christ  instead of just saying the current occupant of the chair of Peter is.

Her ignorance of Catholic doctrine on infallibility is a common one:

But DeLemus didn’t shy away from weighing in on Pope Francis’ comments.

“I’m not Catholic so I don’t think he’s infallible. I believe he’s fallible just like the rest of us,” DeLemus said. “I’m really not a respecter of men. It’s really God I respect, and he’s the head and the leader.”

Only one Pope has ever spoken infallibly according to Catholic doctrine, and that was in 1950. Nothing Pope Francis has ever said has been infallible, and no Catholic believes that.

DeLemus continues:

DeLemus added that she didn’t think it was “fair for the pope, or anyone else for that matter, to judge whether anyone else is Christian or not. Some people who have accepted Christ believe they’re Christian and then they fall away. Or they never had salvation or they do have it. That’s not really our business. For me, I love Jesus Christ. I believe he is the son of God. I love God and I believe I am a saved sinner. That’s who I am. And that’s how I try to live my life. And as you can see I’m completely fallible and human and make mistakes as we all do.

Of course, Francis wasn’t referring to anyone’s salvation and even referenced the fact he was giving Trump the benefit of the doubt.

Maryland GOP Candidate Also Called Pope Francis the Anti-Christ

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On February 6, Christopher Mason made the above tweet referring to Pope Francis as “the biggest anti-Christ figure on earth.”

After last week’s comments by the Pope, Mason (apparently a Trump supporter) also made remarks critical of the Pope and showing he was slightly clearer on infallibilty than DeLemus but still not totally.

Mason is a candidate for the Republican nomination in Maryland’s Sixth Congressional District.

What the Pope said about Immigration

Pope

The following is  an annual message from the Pope for World Migration Day. I’ve highlighted some key passages so if you want to avoid reading the whole thing, just skim through to the end for what might be a surprise.

Annual Message for World Migration Day

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. The phenomenon of migration with its complex problems challenges the international community and individual States today more than ever. The latter generally tend to intervene by tightening migration laws and reinforcing border control systems.

Thus migration loses that dimension of economic, social and cultural development which it had in the past. In fact, there is less and less talk of the situation of “emigrants” in their countries of origin, and more and more of “immigrants”, with respect to the problems they create in the countries where they settle.

Migration is assuming the features of a social emergency, above all because of the increase in illegal migrants which, despite the current restrictions, it seems impossible to halt.

Illegal immigration has always existed: it has frequently been tolerated because it promotes a reserve of personnel to draw on as legal migrants gradually move up the social ladder and find stable employment.

2. Today the phenomenon of illegal migrants has assumed considerable proportions, both because the supply of foreign labor is becoming excessive in comparison to the needs of the economy, which already has difficulty in absorbing its domestic workers, and because of the spread of forced migration. The necessary prudence required to deal with so delicate a matter cannot become one of reticence or exclusivity, because thousands would suffer the consequences as victims of situations that seem destined to deteriorate instead of being resolved. His irregular legal status cannot allow the migrant to lose his dignity, since he is endowed with inalienable rights, which can neither be violated nor ignored.

Illegal immigration should be prevented, but it is also essential to combat vigorously the criminal activities which exploit illegal immigrants. The most appropriate choice, which will yield consistent and long-lasting results is that of international cooperation which aims to foster political stability and to eliminate underdevelopment. The present economic and social imbalance, which to a large extent encourages the migratory flow, should not be seen as something inevitable, but as a challenge to the human race’s sense of responsibility.

3. The Church considers the problem of illegal migrants from the standpoint of Christ, who died to gather together the dispersed children of God (cf. Jn 11:52), to rehabilitate the marginalized and to bring close those who are distant; in order to integrate all within a communion that is not based on ethnic, cultural or social membership, but on the common justice. “God shows no partiality, but in every nation one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34-35).

The Church acts in continuity with Christ’s mission. In particular, she asks herself how to meet the needs, while respecting the law, of those persons who are not allowed to remain in a national territory. She also asks what the right to emigrate is worth without the corresponding right to immigrate.

She tackles the problem of how to involve in this work of solidarity those Christian communities frequently infected by a public opinion that is often hostile to immigrants.

The first way to help these people is to listen to them in order to become acquainted with their situation, and, whatever their legal status with regard to State law, to provide them with the necessary means of subsistence.

Thus it is important to help illegal migrants to complete the necessary administrative papers to obtain a residence permit.

Social and charitable institutions can make contact with the authorities in order to seek appropriate, lawful solutions to various cases. This kind of effort should be made especially on behalf of those who, after a long stay, are so deeply rooted in the local society that returning to their country of origin would be tantamount to a form of reverse emigration, with serious consequences particularly for the children.

4. When no solution is foreseen, these same institutions should direct those they are helping, perhaps also providing them with material assistance, either to seek acceptance in other countries, or to return to their own country.

In the search for a solution to the problem of migration in general and illegal migrants in particular, the attitude of the host society has an important role to play. In this perspective, it is very important that public opinion be properly informed about the true situation in the migrants’ country of origin, about the tragedies involving them and the possible risks of returning. The poverty and misfortune with which immigrants are stricken are yet another reason for coming generously to their aid.

It is necessary to guard against the rise of new forms of racism or xenophobic behavior, which attempt to make these brothers and sisters of ours scapegoats for what may be difficult local situations.

Due to the considerable proportions reached by the illegal migrant phenomenon, legislation in all the countries involved should be brought into harmony, also for a more equitable distribution of the burdens of a balanced solution. It is necessary to avoid recourse to the use of administrative regulations, meant to restrict the criterion of family membership, which result in unjustifiably forcing into an illegal situation people whose right to live with their family cannot be denied by any law.

Adequate protection should be guaranteed to those who, although they have fled from their countries for reasons unforeseen by international conventions, could indeed be seriously risking their life were they obliged to return to their homeland.

5. I urge the particular Churches to encourage reflection, to issue directives and to provide information to help pastoral and social workers to act with discernment in so delicate and complex a matter.

When an understanding of the problem is conditioned by prejudice and xenophobic attitudes, the Church must not fail to speak up for brotherhood and to accompany it with acts testifying to the primacy of charity.

The prominence assumed by the welfare aspects of their precarious situation should not mean that less attention is paid to the fact that there are often Catholic Christians among the illegal migrants who, in the name of the same faith, often seek pastors of souls and places where they can pray, listen to God’s word and celebrate the Lord’s mysteries. Dioceses have the duty to meet these needs.

In the Church no one is a stranger, and the Church is not foreign to anyone, anywhere. As a sacrament of unity and thus a sign and a binding force for the whole human race, the Church is the place where illegal immigrants are also recognized and accepted as brothers and sisters. It is the task of the various Dioceses actively to ensure that these people, who are obliged to live outside the safety net of civil society, may find a sense of brotherhood in the Christian community.

Solidarity means taking responsibility for those in trouble. For Christians, the migrant is not merely an individual to be respected in accordance with the norms established by law, but a person whose presence challenges them and whose needs become an obligation for their responsibility. “What have you done to your brother?” (Cf. Gen 4:9). The answer should not be limited to what is imposed by law, but should be made in the manner of solidarity.

6. Man, particularly if he is weak, defenseless, driven to the margins of society, is a sacrament of Christ’s presence (cf. Mt 25:40, 45). “But this crowd, who do not know the law, are accursed” (Jn 7:49), was how the Pharisees judged those whom Jesus had helped even beyond the limits established by their precepts. Indeed, he came to seek and to save the lost (cf. Lk 19:10), to bring back the excluded, the abandoned, those rejected by society.

“I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25:35). It is the Church’s task not only to present constantly the Lord’s teaching of faith, but also to indicate its appropriate application to the various situations which the changing times continue to create. Today the illegal migrant comes before us like that “stranger” in whom Jesus asks to be recognized. To welcome him and to show him solidarity is a duty of hospitality and fidelity to Christian identity itself.

With these wishes, I impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of abundant heavenly rewards to all those who are involved in the field of migration.

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Vatican: Pope’s remarks “distorted”

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Father Thomas Rosica, Vatican spokesman, issued this statement:

The Pope’s expression is in no way intended to be interpreted as a justification for the violence and terror that took place in Paris last week. The Pope’s words about Dr. Gasbarri were spoken colloquially and in a friendly, intimate matter among colleagues and friends on the journey. His words mean that there are limits to humor and satire particularly in the ways that we speak about matters of faith and belief. Pope Francis’ response might be similar to something each of us has felt when those dearest to us are insulted or harmed. The Pope’s free style of speech, especially in situations like the press conference must be taken at face value and not distorted or manipulated. The Pope has spoken out clearly against the terror and violence that occurred in Paris and in other parts of the world. Violence begets violence. Pope Francis has not advocated violence with his words on the flight.

Aleteia published the statement along with the context – that Dr. Gasbarri was a papal staffer who the Pope joked he would punch in the nose if Gasbarri said anything about his mother. Additionally, the Aleteia article publishes a statement by the Coptic pope and a bishop.

The article also notes that Charlie Hebdo staffers say they don’t want support from Catholics:

What made us laugh the most is that the bells of Notre Dame rang in our honor. We would like to send a message to Pope Francis…: We will only accept the bells of Notre Dame ringing in our honor when it is Femen who make them ring.

This wasn’t the first time nor will it be the last that the current Pope has his words distorted, taken out of context, or mis-translated by those in the media or other groups eager to cast him in light if their own views or biases.

Junipero Serra to be canonized during papal visit to US

Serra

Catholic News Agency:

In a surprise addition to his fall 2015 trip to the U.S., Pope Francis is planning to canonize the founder of California’s first missions, Bl. Junipero Serra.

“In September, God willing, I will canonize Junipero Serra in the United States,” declared Pope Francis aboard Sri Lankan Air Flight UL4111 on the way to Manila.

Bl. Serra, a Franciscan priest, lived in what is now California in the 1700s. A Spanish-born missionary, he founded the first nine of 21 eventual missions in California. He worked tirelessly with the Native Americans, and is said to have baptized more than 6,000 people, and confirmed 5,000.

“He was the evangelizer of the west in the United States,” Pope Francis beamed.

Bl. Serra’s canonization will be the latest in a systematic action from Pope Francis to give a boost to evangelization efforts throughout the world.

Serra will be the latest “equipollent” canonization – meaning no miracle was verified and the normal process was waived so that the Pope could declare him to be a saint.

Pope Francis will be in Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families in September and may also be visiting Washington and New York. It is not known where the canonization would take place, but Serra is entombed at Mission San Carlos Borroméo del río Carmelo in Carmel-by-the-Sea in California (Clint Eastwood was the town’s mayor at one point.)

During the American Revolution, Serra had a collection taken up in mission parishes and sent those funds to General George Washington.

Allegations by some that he mistreated native Americans were dismissed as unfounded during his beatification process. in fact, the truth was reported to be be very different:

Dr. Iris Engstrand, professor and chair of the Department of History at the University of San Diego, described him as “much nicer to the Indians, really, than even to the governors. He didn’t get along too well with some of the military people, you know. His attitude was, ‘Stay away from the Indians.’ I think you really come up with a benevolent, hard-working person who was strict in a lot of his doctrinal leanings and things like that, but not a person who was enslaving Indians, or beating them, ever….He was a very caring person and forgiving. Even after the burning of the mission in San Diego, he did not want those Indians punished. He wanted to be sure that they were treated fairly…”