Pope Francis’ ‘Prayer for Our Earth’

A prayer for our earth draft1

Pope accepts resignations of St. Paul archbishop, auxiliary

From Cindy Wooden at the CNS Rome bureau:

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Ten days after the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis was criminally charged with failing to protect children, Pope Francis accepted the resignations of Archbishop John C. Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee A. Piche.

Pope Francis appointed Newark Coadjutor Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda, a canon lawyer, to be apostolic administrator of the Minnesota archdiocese.

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt  (CNS/The Catholic Spirit)

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt (CNS/The Catholic Spirit)

The resignations were announced by the Vatican June 15; on June 5, the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office filed charges against the archdiocese alleging it had contributed to the harm of three minors sexually abused by former priest Curtis Wehmeyer.

The charges, six gross misdemeanors, were three counts of contributing to the need for protection or services for a minor and three counts of contributing to a minor’s status as a juvenile petty offender or delinquency.

Archbishop Nienstedt, 68, has led the archdiocese since May 2008. In a statement, he said, “In order to give the archdiocese a new beginning amidst the many challenges we face, I have submitted my resignation.”

“The Catholic Church is not our church, but Christ’s church, and we are merely stewards for a time,” the archbishop said. “My leadership has unfortunately drawn attention away from the good works of his church and those who perform them. Thus, my decision to step down.”

Bishop Piche, 57, also issued a statement. He said the people of the archdiocese “need healing and hope. I was getting in the way of that, and so I had to resign.”

“I submitted my resignation willingly, after consultation with others in and outside the archdiocese,” said the bishop, who had served as an auxiliary in the Twin Cities since 2009.

Auxiliary Bishop Lee A. Piche (CNS photo/Dianne Towalski, Catholic Spirit)

Auxiliary Bishop Lee A. Piche (CNS photo/Dianne Towalski, Catholic Spirit)

In his statement, Archbishop Hebda noted that the position of an apostolic administrator is temporary and his role “is not to introduce change, but rather to facilitate the smooth continuation of the ordinary and essential activities of the church, while advancing those positive initiatives to which the archdiocese is already committed.”

Still, he said, he hoped to meet as many people as possible in the archdiocese while still fulfilling his responsibilities in Newark.

“As the universal church prepares to embark on a Year of Mercy, I look forward to getting to know this local church and experiencing in a new context the marvelous ways in which the Lord works through his people to make his grace and healing presence known and felt, even in the most challenging of times,” Archbishop Hebda said.

A bishop’s commute across the river and into the mountains

Bishop Donald Lippert on a foot bridge heading to a confirmation ceremony in his diocese in Papua New Guinea. (Courtesy of Bishop Donald Lippert)

Bishop Donald Lippert on a foot bridge heading to a confirmation ceremony in his diocese in Papua New Guinea. (Courtesy of Bishop Donald Lippert)

Before complaining about the traffic on your way home, you may want to look at Bishop Donald Lippert’s commute in Papua New Guinea, near Australia. Recently, those who follow him on Twitter witnessed the Franciscan Capuchin priest’s trek across a fragile foot bridge and into the mountains of the Diocese of Mendi.

He was commuting, if you will, to St. Michael Church, Kurumb, on a steep mountain highland, accessible not by car, but by an hour-and-a-half walk. The effort, taken along with an entourage from the Diocese of Mendi, was to confirm “almost 200 young people (and a few young at heart),” on the feast of Corpus Christi, the bishop said by email.

The group started out by car.

“After about an hour and a half through mountain roads and beautiful scenery, we arrived as far as we could go by road. We left the car and began the walk,” Bishop Lippert said. “Before starting our way up the mountain we had to cross the Lai River, on a rather rickety foot bridge. I tried not to look down, because the water rushing by underneath made me a bit dizzy, but there were big gaps in the planks on the bridge, so I could not avoid it. Of course, the local people crossed with ease — and so they gave me the nerve to make it across safely.”

His Twitter feed features photos of the bishop along the way: on the bridge, meeting friends, and continuing on in the rural diocese where the native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has served since 2007. At the entrance to the group’s destination, parishioners welcomed the group with drums and chants. Many parishioners donned the traditional attire.

A youth in Papua New Guinea receive the sacrament of confirmation. (Photo courtesy of Bishop Donald Lippert)

A youth in Papua New Guinea receives the sacrament of confirmation. (Photo courtesy of Bishop Donald Lippert)

“One of them (Raphael) gave me a hat adorned in a traditional way with feathers. He said that it represented the fact that I was the ‘chief’ of the Catholic people of the province. I was humbled and honored by the gift,” Bishop Lippert wrote.

The Corpus Christi commute led to a homily about “the Eucharist as food for our journey and the Holy Spirit as fire for our mission of bringing the good news to all people,” wrote the bishop, who puts mileage with his feet behind those words.

“Some were visibly moved by this important moment in their lives.  Their eyes filled with the hope and promise of a life lived in the Lord — despite many challenges and difficulties,” he said.


After the ceremony and fellowship, “we began our trek back down the mountain,” he said. “I must confess that, as in other such occasions, I felt a bit like Peter, James and John must have felt, as they walked with Jesus back down Mount Tabor after having experienced the glory of the Transfiguration.”


Follow Bishop Lippert on Facebook, on Twitter @BishopMendi or via his “Bishop Don’s Blog” at http://www.bishopdon.blogspot.com.au

Caption contest draws humorous entries

By Jim Lackey

We have been having a little fun with this photo, taken over the weekend by our Rome-bureau photographer, Paul Haring:

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

In the photo from Saturday, Pope Francis is speaking to Italian youngsters, some of whom were born in prison and all of whom have at least one parent in jail. They were treated to a special train trip to Rome thanks to the Pontifical Council for Culture.

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

After the pope watched some of the youths flying kites in a cleared-out parking lot next to the Vatican audience hall, he spoke to the group and answered questions, telling them to never stop dreaming.

The photo of the pope speaking inside the hall, of course, cried out for a caption contest. (Given the nature of the Holy Father, we were certain he wouldn’t mind.) Thanks partly to a helpful nudge from our friends at U.S. Catholic magazine, here’s some of what we got:

Naturally, some thought it was a papal fish (or snake) story:

Others wondered why the pope had an official name badge hanging from his neck, as if he needed proof that he belonged in the hall:

But someone had a possible answer:

Here are the best of the rest:


At the Vatican: “Women are here,” they are tackling problems

VATICAN CITY — The women who run the Vatican newspaper’s monthly supplement, “Women — Church — World,” do not mind at all that their conference Friday through Sunday is just the latest in a long line of Vatican meetings focused on women.

“It is almost an incessant reminder, ‘There are women here, women are here,’ so I think it is positive that there is conference after conference,” said Dominican Sister Catherine Aubin, a professor at Rome’s Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas.

“It is important to open people’s eyes because it seems that sometimes, in some church spheres, we women do not exist. All of these conferences might help open people’s eyes,” said the French sister, who also works on the monthly supplement.

The cover of the conference program.

The cover of the conference program.

The conference, “The Church before the Condition of Women Today,” will be live streamed on the website of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. Sessions will focus on violence against women, challenges facing the family and changing ideas about women’s identity and roles.

Lucetta Scaraffia, a writer for the Vatican newspaper and professor of modern history at Rome’s La Sapienza University, said she and the other organizers make the deliberate decision not to include a discussion on the need to expand women’s voices and roles in the church, although “it is right” that women are asking for that.

This week’s conference, she said, starts from a recognition that “we are already part of the church and that we can take responsibility ourselves for looking at certain situations and presenting the position of the church.”

The speakers, Scaraffia said, will demonstrate that Catholic women, acting in the name of the church, already are tackling many of the problems that most deeply impact the life of women — and their families and societies — around the world.

Mensaje de Papa Francisco por la beatificacion de Romero

Lettera del Santo Padre

Excmo. Mons. José Luis Escobar Alas

Arzobispo de San Salvador

Presidente de la Conferencia Episcopal de El Salvador

Querido Hermano:

La beatificación de monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero Galdámez, que fue Pastor de esa querida Arquidiócesis, es motivo de gran alegría para los salvadoreños y para cuantos gozamos con el ejemplo de los mejores hijos de la Iglesia. Monseñor Romero, que construyó la paz con la fuerza del amor, dio testimonio de la fe con su vida entregada hasta el extremo.

El Señor nunca abandona a su pueblo en las dificultades, y se muestra siempre solícito con sus necesidades. Él ve la opresión, oye los gritos de dolor de sus hijos, y acude en su ayuda para librarlos de la opresión y llevarlos a una nueva tierra, fértil y espaciosa, que «mana leche y miel» (cf. Ex 3, 7-8). Igual que un día eligió a Moisés para que, en su nombre, guiara a su pueblo, sigue suscitando pastores según su corazón, que apacienten con ciencia y prudencia su rebaño (cf. Jer 3, 15).

En ese hermoso país centroamericano, bañado por el Océano Pacífico, el Señor concedió a su Iglesia un Obispo celoso que, amando a Dios y sirviendo a los hermanos, se convirtió en imagen de Cristo Buen Pastor. En tiempos de difícil convivencia, Monseñor Romero supo guiar, defender y proteger a su rebaño, permaneciendo fiel al Evangelio y en comunión con toda la Iglesia. Su ministerio se distinguió por una particular atención a los más pobres y marginados. Y en el momento de su muerte, mientras celebraba el Santo Sacrificio del amor y de la reconciliación, recibió la gracia de identificarse plenamente con Aquel que dio la vida por sus ovejas.

En este día de fiesta para la Nación salvadoreña, y también para los países hermanos latinoamericanos, damos gracias a Dios porque concedió al Obispo mártir la capacidad de ver y oír el sufrimiento de su pueblo, y fue moldeando su corazón para que, en su nombre, lo orientara e iluminara, hasta hacer de su obrar un ejercicio pleno de caridad cristiana.

La voz del nuevo Beato sigue resonando hoy para recordarnos que la Iglesia, convocación de hermanos entorno a su Señor, es familia de Dios, en la que no puede haber ninguna división. La fe en Jesucristo, cuando se entiende bien y se asume hasta sus últimas consecuencias genera comunidades artífices de paz y de solidaridad. A esto es a lo que está llamada hoy la Iglesia en El Salvador, en América y en el mundo entero: a ser rica en misericordia, a convertirse en levadura de reconciliación para la sociedad.

Monseñor Romero nos invita a la cordura y a la reflexión, al respeto a la vida y a la concordia. Es necesario renunciar a «la violencia de la espada, la del odio», y vivir «la violencia del amor, la que dejo a Cristo clavado en una cruz, la que se hace cada uno para vencer sus egoísmos y para que no haya desigualdades tan crueles entre nosotros». Él supo ver y experimento en su propia carne «el egoísmo que se esconde en quienes no quieren ceder de lo suyo para que alcance a los demás». Y, con corazón de padre, se preocupó de «las mayorías pobres», pidiendo a los poderosos que convirtiesen «las armas en hoces para el trabajo».

Quienes tengan a Monseñor Romero como amigo en la fe, quienes lo invoquen como protector e intercesor, quienes admiren su figura, encuentren en él fuerza y animo para construir el Reino de Dios, para comprometerse por un orden social más equitativo y digno.

Es momento favorable para una verdadera y propia reconciliación nacional ante los desafíos que hoy se afrontan. El Papa participa de sus esperanzas, se une a sus oraciones para que florezca la semilla del martirio y se afiancen por los verdaderos senderos a los hijos e hijas de esa Nación, que se precia de llevar el nombre del divino Salvador del mundo.

Querido hermano, te pido, por favor, que reces y hagas rezar por mí, a la vez que imparto la Bendición Apostólica a todos los que se unen de diversas maneras a la celebración del nuevo Beato.



On the eve of Romero’s beatification, drones, fireworks, and a city abuzz

A drone flies over a large poster of Archbishop Oscar Romero near the square of the Monument of the Divine Savior in San Salvador, where he will be beatified pm Saturday (CNS photo by Rhina Guidos)

A drone flies over a large poster of Archbishop Oscar Romero near the square of the Monument of the Divine Savior in San Salvador, where he will be beatified on Saturday (CNS photo by Rhina Guidos)

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – Four Latin American presidents from neighboring Panama, Ecuador, Honduras and Guatemala and six cardinals are expected to attend tomorrow’s beatification of Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero.

The six cardinals are: Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, of Honduras, Leopoldo Brenes of Nicaragua, Jaime Ortega of Cuba, Jose Luis Lacunza of Panama, Roger Mahony of the U.S. and Italian Angelo Amato, head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, as well as Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, postulator of Archbishop Romero’s cause.

“There have been people inspired by Romero for 35 years. How do you think they feel right now?” said Father Estefan Turcios, parish priest of El Salvador’s St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Soyapango.

Members of Archbishop Romero’s family are expected to attend, including Gaspar Romero, his brother who is expected to place flowers around the relic, the shirt that soaked up the archbishop’s blood as he died in the middle of Mass after being shot. A document chronicling the atrocities committed by both sides of the country’s 12-year conflict will be offered during the ceremony, in hopes of reconciliation of a terrible moment in history.

The humming of cars, pounding of hammers and fireworks (some in celebration of the beatification, but others in honor of the Virgin Mary in the month of May) have given San Salvador, the capital, reason to feel festive, even when there’s little celebrate because of spiraling gang violence in the country.

Though the ceremony is tomorrow, a Friday evening vigil has been organized with Mass scheduled to be celebrated at the site of the beatification by Cardinal Rodriguez of Honduras at 7:30 p.m. local time.

Drones are flying over the Monument to the Divine Savior where the beatification will take place, and images, as well as the voice of the man many already consider a saint are everywhere you look.

Jesuit Father Miguel Angel Vasquez Hernandez, of Arcatao, in northern El Salvador, said the archbishop would probably have felt taken aback with such a ceremony, which is expected to cost about $1 million and is expected to be attended by 200,000 to 250,000.

The best way to honor him, he said, is to work for peace and justice in El Salvador, and in other parts of the world afflicted by poverty, war, violence, oppression and economic injustice.


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