A picture’s worth a thousand prayers

By Caroline Hroncich

Screenshot of the Vatican Instagram account showing Pope Francis

VATICAN CITY – If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many prayers can be inspired by a picture? Officials at News.va are asking themselves just that question with the promotion of the Vatican’s Instagram account.

Instagram is a popular application used mainly for smart-phones and allows users to upload, edit and post photos. Users also can include captions and commentary on the bottom of the edited photos. The Vatican’s Instagram account, NEWSVA, first posted March 6 with an image of Pope Benedict’s last public audience, which was held Feb. 27, the day before his retirement. Since then, the account has been posting on a fairly regular basis.

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Catholic News Service saves the day!

internet connection

VATICAN CITY — Technical glitches can be a real pain on an ordinary work day and an absolute disaster when news is breaking.

So you can imagine the ripples of unease that were going through the Vatican press office this morning as some people noticed they were having Internet connection problems.

Pope Francis was due to announce the date of the canonizations of Blesseds John Paul II and John XXIII during a 10 a.m. gathering of cardinals and promoters of the candidates’ causes for sainthood.

Strangely, the CNS workstation had excellent Internet service, so our senior correspondent, Cindy Wooden, generously invited people to log onto our wireless connection if needed. Journalists are resourceful, and the patchy Internet didn’t seem to cause them any huge problems (the backup being: “call in the story.”) Continue reading

Celebrating St. Francis, one or the other of them…

Big Jim Griffith, the Southwestern folklore expert who writes a blog for the Arizona Daily Star, has another piece about local observances of Catholic saints’ days.

This one talks about traditions that meld appreciation for St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscans, and St. Francis Xavier, co-founder of the Jesuits. Some perhaps understandable confusion arises because Mission San Xavier del Bac, an 18th- century landmark that is an active parish still, was named for a Jesuit named Francis, but has been administered by Franciscans, named for another Francis, most of the time since it was founded.

…the Jesuits were expelled from Sonora in 1767, to be replaced by the Franciscans, who had their own St Francis — Assisi. His feast day is Oct. 4; Xavier’s is Dec. 3. Somehow over the years things got confused so that the lying-down statue of Xavier is celebrated on Oct. 4….

Sounds like the kind of blend that would be appreciated by Pope Francis, a Jesuit who chose his name to honor the Franciscan saint, whose feast day is Oct. 4.

Papayas, Kalashnikovs, the rosary: The world of one Vatican diplomat

Image

A U.S. soldier rests near a statue of Mary outside a church in the Dora district of Baghdad, Iraq, in 2007. (CNS photo/Mahmoud Raouf Mahmoud, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY — Imagine every time you wanted to go outside you needed to give 72 hours advanced notice and then be escorted by guards “armed to the teeth,” toting Kalashnikovs and making you look “like someone arrested and taken to prison.”

And because you’re caged up inside your residence, which luckily(?) is also where you work,  you switch the TV on to soccer matches when you do your daily treadmill run so you can imagine that you’re free, dashing across that open field.

That is “The Day in the Life of” Archbishop Giorgio Lingua,” the 53-year-old apostolic nuncio to Iraq and Jordan, who splits his time between those two countries. Continue reading

Looking for linguists (Latin, too)

francis vid

A screenshot of “Meet Pope Francis” video created by a group of young people at CatholicLink.

VATICAN CITY — Members of a small international group of young Catholics are looking for some extra help in translating their “Meet Pope Francis” video.

The folks at CatholicLink are now offering 19 different language versions after this week’s releases in Chinese (Mandarin), Vietnamese, Arabic, Hungarian and Maltese.

The “Meet Pope Francis” cartoon video was the group’s first original, in-house production.  With simple animation and some cute anecdotes, the video is meant to help people around the world learn about the new pope — his life and ministry — in under four minutes.

Jesus would have been great with Twitter and TV

EDITOR OF PHOENIX CATHOLIC NEWSPAPER 'TWEETS' DURING ANNUAL CATHOLIC MEDIA CONVENTION

An editor of The Catholic Sun in Phoenix tweets during the Catholic Media Convention in California in 2009. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)

VATICAN CITY — When it comes to WWJD, Jesus would have been a natural for Twitter and TV, according to an Italian cardinal.

When Christ communicated, “he was already using television and tweets” — meaning his millennia-old style is perfectly ready and relevant for today’s media, said Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

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Notes on Peace and Justice

Women religious who are part of the Bakhita Initiative: U.S. Catholic Sisters United Against Human Trafficking, met with Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., second from left, to urge passage of legislation to aid victims of human trafficking Sept. 19. (Courtesy of Bakhita Initiative)

Women religious who are part of the Bakhita Initiative: U.S. Catholic Sisters United Against Human Trafficking, met with Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., second from left, to urge passage of legislation to aid victims of human trafficking Sept. 19. (Courtesy of Bakhita Initiative)

Women religious join human trafficking foes at White House

Women religious tackling the scourge of human trafficking joined a White House summit on the issue. What the sisters saw at the summit Sept. 16 was a rising groundswell of support to restrict trafficking across the U.S. ,said Sister Margaret Nacke, a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia, Kan.

“There were people from all over the country who were in positions where they could make a difference in countering trafficking,” she told Catholic News Service.

With their presence, the sisters raised their profile among organizations working on trafficking concerns. Continue reading

Short, sweet, simple: Francis & the Rule of Three

UPDATED Sept. 27: How amazing is that? The pope just got done speaking to catechists tonight about his use of threes!

He posed a question and then prepared to give some answers:

“First of all, I will talk about three things: one, two, three, like old-timer Jesuits used to do, right? One, two, three!” he smiled, as the audience laughed and clapped.

Prophetic? or does he read the CNSBlog!!??

Pope leads general audience in St. Peter's Square at Vatican

Pope Francis speaks during a general audience in St. Peter’s Square in April. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis likes to boil most of his talks down to three bullet points.

The most memorable was his first homily as pope in a Mass with the cardinals who elected him, where he summed up faith in Jesus as being three kinds of movement: journeying, building, professing.

In some cases, like that March 14 Mass, he was capturing themes evident in the day’s three readings, but in most cases the “Rule of Three” works for Pope Francis as a simple framework upon which to hang just a few key concepts, making them easier for his audience to remember.

Since the pope basically inundated us with a huge number of texts this weekend, I thought it might be a fun time-saver for readers if they had a summary of Pope Francis’ important points by pulling out his “Famous Threes” from Sunday in Sardinia and Saturday at the Vatican: Continue reading

The spiritual physician and his remedies

Pope Francis blesses a sick man inside the Basilica of Our Lady of Bonaria in Cagliari, Sardinia, Sept. 22. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis blesses a sick man inside the Basilica of Our Lady of Bonaria in Cagliari, Sardinia, Sept. 22. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

CAGLIARI, Sardinia — “I see the church as a field hospital after battle,” Pope Francis said in his bold interview published last week in Jesuit magazines. His words were running through my mind yesterday as I photographed him tenderly greeting and kissing the sick in the Basilica of Our Lady of Bonaria in Cagliari, on the Italian island of Sardinia. This wasn’t about just greeting people in wheelchairs. These were seriously ill people lying out on beds, some of them breathing oxygen or with masks over their mouths to protect from disease. The basilica looked as if it had been turned into a field hospital, much as U.S. churches were on battlefields were during the Civil War.

In my six months of photographic coverage of Pope Francis, I’ve witnessed the extraordinary emphasis he has placed on personally encountering the sick and disabled. At general audiences he personally greets, blesses and kisses dozens of infirmed. They are very touched by his gestures, many to the point of tears.

After seeing the basilica turned into a field hospital, I had a concrete image of how the pope also sees the church as a refuge for people suffering spiritually.

Pope Francis blesses a sick man as a man with a blue iPad captures the moment in the Basilica of Our Lady of Bonaria. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis blesses a sick man as a guy with a blue iPad captures the moment in the Basilica of Our Lady of Bonaria. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

I realized that he is like a spiritual physician who is giving us a prescription for how to best approach the deep wounds of a society distant from God.

The prescription is written in an informal and off-the cuff style. It is not the pontificating and direct style that many of us would expect. While experts debate the meaning of his words and style, I find by watching him closely that his manner seems to be that of a skilled country doctor. He makes personal visits and is beloved as he is colorful. He speaks informally, even sometimes using hyperbole to make a point. Like many doctors, he gives his prescription in language that his patients might find difficult to understand. But it would be impossible to doubt his compassion.

A clown blows bubbles as the pope blesses a sick man inside the basilica. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

A clown blows bubbles as the pope blesses a sick man inside the basilica. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Writing desk of St. Therese goes on tour

Never mind the expression “if these walls could talk.” How about if this desk and inkwell could talk?

These items — second-class relics that belonged to St. Therese of Lisieux — have been on a tour of the United States. Sponsored by the Pontifical Mission Societies, the tour began in August and continues through mid-October. St. Therese and St. Francis Xavier are co-patrons of the church’s missionary work.

St. Therese is said to have used this desk almost daily from 1894 until her death from tuberculosis in 1897. It is where she composed her autobiography “Story of a Soul,” as well as many plays, poems and letters. Continue reading

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