Going to bat for peace

VATICAN CITY — With all the bad news coming out of the Middle East, this story shone a small beam of hope: the might of bats and balls against the thunder of missiles and misunderstandings.

A player from a team of priests and seminarians returns a ball during a cricket training session in Rome Oct. 22, 2013. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

A player from a team of priests and seminarians returns a ball during a cricket training session in Rome Oct. 22, 2013. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

In support of sport as a weapon for peace, a Muslim governor in Pakistan has donated funding, cricket bats and a national class cricketer to help coach the Vatican’s new St. Peter’s Cricket Club.

Ishrat ul Ebad Khan, the governor of Sindh province in Pakistan made the gift to “our friends in the Vatican as a token of friendship,” according to this article in today’s Daily Mail.

The “Vatican XI” cricket team of Catholic priests and seminarians studying in Rome was started last year, and is sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture.

The team will be heading off on a “Tour of Light” series of charity matches in England in mid-September, which will include matches against the Royal Household team at Windsor Castle and a team representing the Anglican Communion at Canterbury.

Governor Ebad said he’d like to see a “tri-team contest” between the St. Peter’s team, the Anglicans and a “Governor of Sindh XI” team comprised of Islamic theology students, as a way to show friendship and harmony through sports.

Proceeds from all the “Vatican XI” matches go to the Global Freedom Network, a new interfaith initiative between Muslims, Anglicans and the Vatican dedicated to fighting human trafficking.

SkySports just aired a nice profile of the St. Peter’s Cricket Club in this mini-documentary:

International newspapers report migration situation with blend of truth, hope

Guatemalan migrants deported from U.S. arrive at airport in Guatemala City. (CNS photo/Reuters)

Guatemalan migrants deported from U.S. arrive at airport in Guatemala City. (CNS photo/Reuters)

By Julia Willis

WASHINGTON -– Amid all the U.S. news media reports on the humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border with the influx of children and adults, we decided to take a look at how the local press in Central America is reporting on the situation.

As gang violence remains rampant throughout El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras -– one of the drivers for migrants coming into the U.S. — local newspapers seem to be doing their best to maintain a sense of hope in the articles they publish.

While daily news outlets such as El Universal in Mexico have a duty to report the truth regarding the dangers of migration and the likelihood of deportation, they also attempt to encourage Latin Americans by focusing on small victories in the fight for U.S. immigration reform and increased relief services for migrant populations.

Although U.S. Rep. Robert Goodlatte, R-Virginia, who is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, expressed his support for increased deportation of migrants in a recent interview with ABC News, El Universal presented a positive twist on the story in a July 14 article titled ‘Congress ready to give more funds.’

“I would definitely pass emergency funding targeted for what’s necessary,” Goodlatte said, “but most of the money that the president is asking for is to continue the process of further transporting these children and adults further into the United States. And that, I think, is what the American people don’t like to see because they know that that is not deterrence and that will result in even more people coming into the country. The projection for next year is 150,000 unaccompanied minors. It’s already projected to be more than 90,000 for the rest of this year.”

Other news outlets have attempted to describe the difficult process of deportation by highlighting the help that individuals receive once they have been returned to their home country. Media also is reporting that various agencies of local governments in Central America are meeting to assess the ongoing situation and discuss solutions.

El Heraldo, a daily newspaper in Honduras, reported a story about the first 18 mothers and 22 children returning to Honduras from the U.S. by focusing on the support that the Catholic and Protestant churches provide for these individuals in a July 14 article.

“We are working to develop a reception plan that first and foremost makes these families feel welcome,” said Ana Garcia de Hernandez, the first lady of Honduras. “In order to do this, we have asked for the support of the church, both Catholic and Protestant, so that each returning flight has that spiritual accompaniment, because these families are enduring a very difficult emotional situation.”

As young children continue to disappear throughout Central America, Prensa Libre, a daily newspaper in Guatemala, showcases stories about kidnapped children being reunited with their families and Pope Francis’ thoughts about the “humanitarian emergency.”

Although all of the Spanish-language papers I read described the suffering that migrants endure as they attempt to flee violence in their home countries, they also featured articles promoting hope and encouraging their people to look forward to peace and security in the future.

The pope is setting aside a special day for those in their ‘Golden Years’

VATICAN CITY — Celebrate Grandparents’ Day with Pope Francis at the Vatican!

The Vatican is inviting the world’s older generation to a special day and Mass with the pope in St. Peter’s Square.

All you have to do is “apply” to request attendance by writing to events@family.va or by sending a fax to +39.06.698.87272.poster elderly

 

“The Blessing of Long Life” event will be held Sunday Sept. 28 — the world day of prayer for the synod of bishops on the family — and a few weeks after National Grandparents’ Day in the U.S. (a number of countries celebrate Grandparents’ Day sometime in September or October).

The Pontifical Council for the Family, which is organizing the event, has chosen verse 18 from Psalm 71 as the theme for the day:

“Now that I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, God,
That I may proclaim your might
to all generations yet to come…”

 

Pope Francis very forcefully reminds people of the untapped riches our elders have to offer with their life experiences, faith and wisdom. He has said communities that do not care for and respect the elderly don’t have a future because they’ll be rootless without their memories.

Pope accepts kiss from elderly woman during general audience in St. Peter's Square at Vatican

Pope Francis greets an elderly woman in a wheelchair during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square March 5, 2014. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The pope once said that, when he is feeling blue, he loves to read chapter 26 of Deuteronomy, which talks about God’s plan of letting new generations reap the fruits of their elders.

“To look at the elderly is to recognize that that man made his life’s path toward me…to realize that I am just one more link, that I have to honor those who have preceded me and that I have to allow myself to be honored by those who are going to follow.

…The wisdom of the elderly has helped me a lot and that’s why, time and again, I tend to venerate them.”

– then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in the book, “On Heaven and Earth”

 

If you’re app-y and you know it… show the pope!

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican has launched its upgraded Pope App this week, offering “all things pope” for your iPad or Android device.

President of Pontifical Council for Social Communications shows Pope Francis news on tablet during meeting at the Vatican

Pope Francis checks out the updated “Pope App,” developed by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

 

popeapp1President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Archbishop Claudio Celli, and project coordinator, Thaddeus Jones, showed Pope Francis on Monday the updated version, which features news, images, live-streaming video and more.

It aggregates a large amount of content produced by the Vatican’s many media outlets, like Vatican Radio and Vatican television, and offers alerts so a user will know when a live event is about to begin.

The free app is available in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian.

sound cloud

Another platform the PCCS has ventured onto recently is SoundCloud.com, where it’s posting audio content in different languages from Vatican Radio.

The SoundCloud account lets people share, repost, favorite and save the audio interviews and news reports onto their own playlist for listening on any device when they want.

 

Here are a few samples:

 

 

 

 

 

The World Cup becomes The Pope Cup

VATICAN CITY — The curiously apt World Cup final match between Argentina and Germany (plus a slowish news day) means Twitter is aflitter with funny memes and hashtags for #PopeCupSunday.

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To add to the fun, we spent the morning on Photoshop airbrushing our vision of how #PopeVsPope will play out at the Vatican.

WorldCupSunday

Check out below some other funnies we found online. What have been your favorites?  Feel free to post links in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LATE ADDITION:

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And our favorite:

“Clearly it will end 3-2 #Argentina…”

 

 

 

Cardinal to young Catholics: Cherish, nurture gift of faith

By Sarah Hinds

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington. (CNS/Bob Roller)

WASHINGTON — It’s not every day that a 21-year-old summer intern has the opportunity to interview one of the most prominent members of the Catholic hierarchy in America, but recently I was blessed to conduct a one-on-one interview with Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington.

“You have received a wonderful gift — the gift of faith,” the cardinal told me during the interview in his Washington office. “It’s a precious gift, but it needs to be nurtured.”

As a recent convert to Catholicism and senior in college, I wanted to know what the cardinal had to say to young Catholics. In the 20 minutes I spent with him, he offered a wealth of spiritual insight and advice about how we are to nurture this gift of faith that we Catholics have been given — advice that is certainly not, however, restricted to 20-somethings.

Increasingly, young people face a culture that is extremely hostile to faith, purity and virtue, especially on college campuses. I asked Cardinal Wuerl what advice he would give to young people who desire to stay close to God in college and to strive for purity and virtue in the midst of secular culture.

“This is one of the reasons why the church keeps saying to us, ‘Stay close to the sacraments. Get to Mass. Get to confession.’ Because for 2,000 years the church has been proclaiming Jesus Christ and his Gospel and we know it’s not easy to live the way Jesus asks us in a secular world, and this is a very secular environment,” he said.

“My first word to anybody today trying to stay close to Christ is to get to Mass and stay close to him in prayer.”

Cardinal Wuerl, the chancellor of The Catholic University of America, said college is a great time for young people to really renew and explore their faith, and to become confident in its truth: “Be confident in that truth, and do everything you can not only to stand in that truth but to share it.”

Finding a Catholic community on campus is also helpful, he said, recounting his interactions with Catholic groups on college campuses in the Washington Archdiocese. “I remember once talking to young people at a college and we were talking about the virtuous life, and they said once you get to know a couple of other people on campus that share the same vision, life becomes so much better,” he said.

Ordained in 1966, Cardinal Wuerl said that his call to the priesthood was deeply rooted in his upbringing in Pittsburgh.

“I grew up in a neighborhood that was very Catholic. We attended Catholic elementary school; we had a great parish. The priests of the parish were always very supportive of all the young people but I often thought as I was growing up, wouldn’t it be nice to try to do what they were doing? That really planted the seed,” he said.

“It was really rooted in the experience of the parish, of the parish priests, and of course at home because my mother and father were good, loving, practicing Catholics who shared their faith with us.”

To young people discerning a call to the priesthood or religious life, Cardinal Wuerl said, “You have to try it. I can’t say whether you have a vocation to the priesthood or the religious life, I can’t tell you whether or not God’s calling you and you can’t say right now with certitude, ‘This is what God wants me to do.’ But you can try it. That’s the only way you’ll ever know if God is asking you to be a priest or religious.”

“The best that could happen to you is you could find that it’s the right thing for you. The worst thing that could happen is you’ll decide this isn’t for you. But you’ll never know either if you don’t try it.”

Cardinal Wuerl emphasized the importance of prayer, especially when one is discerning a vocation: “When you’re discerning, remember to talk to Jesus. You need to find some time every day, quietly, it doesn’t have to be huge expanses of time, but you want to find some bit of time every day to talk to the Lord and just say, ‘Lord be with me, let me know what it is you’re saying to me.’ That’s very important.”

In 2012, Cardinal Wuerl helped direct the 2012 Vatican Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith. I asked him how we can evangelize to those who have fallen away from the Catholic Church.

“The most important thing we can do is live our faith,” he said. “Pope Francis talks about how everyone who has been baptized is a missionary disciple. What is a missionary disciple? It’s a person who shares the faith. Probably the most impactful way we can do that is when people see the way we live. If we can live in joy, if we can live in God’s love, we can live a virtuous life, and when people see that, it’s already an invitation to them.”

“And secondly, actively invite people to experience the joy (of your faith),” he continued. “An evangelist is a person who loves the faith, is confident in its truth, and who is prepared to share it.”

To young Catholic men and women in college and recent graduates, Cardinal Wuerl had this to say: “You received a wonderful gift — the gift of faith. You have to realize that faith is the door that opens to a relationship with God. The Church brings us what she has always brought us, an encounter with Jesus Christ, and an opportunity to live that in faith.”

“Faith is a precious gift,” he said. “Cherish it. Nurture it. And in that faith you will find a very happy, fulfilled life.”

From martyrs to moviestars: getting a Vatican stamp of ‘approval’

joan of arcVATICAN CITY — Most of the stamps the Vatican issues each year celebrate saints, popes or the birth or death of some late great European painter or composer.

Now and then there is a commemorative stamp marking a United Nations or Europe-wide year dedicated to themes such as water, books, forests and even the postal van! postal van

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rarely has the Vatican stamp and coin office issued what it did this year: celebrating the 125th anniversary of the birth of Charlie Chaplin, “whose work impacted more than fifty years of the history of film,” the office said.

Chaplin 2014 minifoglio (2)

Some of the only other recent stamps celebrating “modern” and more secular artists have included:

  • a 2004 aerogram marking the anniversary of the birth of the 20th century Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali’
  • stamps in 2003 celebrating the 19th century post-Impressionist painters Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin
  • and a series in 2010 marking the birth of Anton Chekhov and death of Leo Tolstoy — two 19th century Russian writers

tolstoy chekov

aids

Sometimes the Vatican uses its collectors’ appeal for promoting important causes and raising funds for different initiatives, like when all proceeds from the sale of a 2004 stamp dedicated to children with AIDS were donated in the pope’s name to projects helping AIDS orphans.

 

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