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Posted April 28, 2017 at 12:00 am

Pope Francis delivers his Easter message and blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican April 16. Photo provided by CNS

    Mercy opens the door to understanding the mystery of God, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Mercy is a true form of knowledge that allows men and women to understand the mystery of God’s love for humanity, Pope Francis said.

    Having experienced forgiveness, Christians have a duty to forgive others, giving a “visible sign” of God’s mercy, which “carries within it the peace of heart and the joy of a renewed encounter with the Lord,” the pope said April 23 before praying the “Regina Coeli” with visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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    Bishop Muench’s annual Chrism Mass homily

    With great joy, I welcome everyone to this Chrism Mass. This is the only annual diocesan assembly that brings together priests, deacons, women and men religious, seminarians, lay faithful from our various church parishes, institutions, (Catholic) Life Center personnel, Catholic high school students and cathedral musicians. We represent in microcosm our entire local church.

    Today we remember with deep fondness members of our clergy who, since last year’s Chrism Mass, have been received into eternal life: Msgrs. William Green and Gerald

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    Pope to diplomats: Break bad habits of war, injustice

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) – At the start of a new year, Pope Francis laid out a laundry list of suggested resolutions for religious and political leaders for making a joint commitment toward building peace.

    No conflict exists that is “a habit impossible to break,” the pope said, but he underlined that kicking such a habit requires greater efforts to rectify social injustice, protect religious freedom, jump-start peace talks, end the arms trade and cooperate in responding to climate

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    Beyond expectations: Pope sees God of surprises at work in 2016

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis described 2016 as a “packed year,” one full of initiatives that helped Catholics “see and touch with their hands the fruits of the mercy of God.”

    “The Lord always surprises us and goes beyond our expectations,” the pope said Nov. 28, looking back at what happened over the past 12 months, especially in events related to the Year of Mercy.

    While the jubilee celebrations dominated the papal calendar, they did not halt other activities

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    Time of mercy: Holy doors close, but mission of mercy continues

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The Year of Mercy brought more than 20 million pilgrims to Rome, but for Pope Francis, the idea always was that the celebration of God’s mercy would be local: have people experience God’s love in their parishes and send them out into the world to commit random acts of mercy.

    While concrete works of mercy have a social impact, Pope Francis’ idea was deeply connected to evangelization, which is why Rome jubilee events were organized by the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New

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    Off the beaten path: Pope looks far afield for new cardinals

    Catholic News Service

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Choosing new members of the College of Cardinals, Pope Francis once again looked to countries and particularly to dioceses that were not and never had been represented in the body that advises the pope and bears responsibility for electing his successor.

    Cardinal-designate Blase J. Cupich of Chicago smiles while speaking to the media after

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    St. Teresa of Kolkata will always be ‘Mother’ Teresa, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) – With a large tapestry bearing the portrait of the woman known as the “Saint of the Gutters” suspended above him, Pope Francis proclaimed the sainthood of Mother Teresa of Kolkata, hailing her courage and love for the poor.

    Despite the formality of the occasion though, “her sanctity is so close to us, so tender and fruitful, that spontaneously we will continue to call her ‘Mother Teresa,’ ” Pope Francis said to applause at the canonization Mass Sept. 4.

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    Unwelcome flooding provides opportunity for spiritual growth

    (On Aug. 18, Bishop Muench celebrated and preached the homily for the annual Back to School Mass for the Diocesan Catholic School Office personnel, Catholic school administrators and others. In original form the homily was unscripted. After a request from The Catholic Commentator to publish it, the bishop submitted the following, slightly revised version.)

    Forty-eight years ago, while preparing to be ordained a priest, I had a simple card printed quoting Pope John XXIII, now St. Pope John XXIII:

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    Pope expresses shock over violence in French church

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The murder of a priest in northern France, taken hostage with a handful of other faithful during a weekday morning Mass July 26, is another act of “absurd violence” added to too many stories of senseless violence and death, said the Vatican spokesman.

    Pope Francis was informed about the hostage situation at the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray near Rouen and the murder of 85-year-old Father Jacques Hamel, said Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman.

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    Bishop’s request for prayer to bring peace

    As we mourn the deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Philando Castille in Falcon Heights, and the five Dallas Police Officers: Brent Thompson, Patrick Zamarripa, Michael J. Smith, Michael Krol, and Lorne Ahrens, we acknowledge that we who make up the church of the Diocese of Baton Rouge are as diverse as the communities in which we live. We have different stories, different experiences, different backgrounds, different opinions, and different understandings. The current situation in our community is fluid and changing. As we search as a diocese to respond in a way that

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    Retired Pope Benedict XVI says he ‘feels protected’ by Pope Francis

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) – In his first public address in almost a year, retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his sincere gratefulness to Pope Francis, saying that his goodness “from the first moment of your election, in every moment of my life here, touches me deeply.”

    “More than the beauty found in the Vatican Gardens, your goodness is the place where I live; I feel protected,” Pope Benedict said June 28.

    Pope Benedict also

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    Challenge to church is to become more ecclesial-minded

    (Below is Bishop Muench’s address during a meeting of priests, deacons and department heads regarding the Pastoral Planning Task Force on June 16 at the Bishop Robert E. Tracy Center.)

    In April 2014, the Pastoral Planning Task Force was appointed with clergy, consecrated persons and lay faithful members, and Father Trey Nelson, chair, with the assistance of SSA Consultants. I ask all of you to join me in thanking these people for their conscientious, diligent two-year work to date.

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    Too many couples do not understand marriage is for life, pope says

    ROME (CNS) – Because most people today do not understand that sacramental marriage really is a bond that binds them to each other for life, many marriages today can be considered invalid, Pope Francis said.

    Raising a point he has raised before, and one also raised by now-retired Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis insisted June 16 that the validity of a marriage implies that a couple understands that sacramental marriage is a bond that truly binds them to another for their entire lives.

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    Christians, Muslims are called to imitate God’s mercy, says cardinal

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) – God asks Christians and Muslims to be forgiving, merciful and compassionate toward others, especially those in need, said Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.

    “We are saddened to see so many victims of conflicts and violence,” in particular the elderly, children and women, as well as people who suffer from human trafficking, poverty, illness, natural disasters and unemployment, said the cardinal, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

    “We cannot close our eyes to these realities, or turn

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    Bishop Muench’s ordination homily

    With consummate joy we assemble this morning in our revered cathedral celebrating this historic, graced occasion for our two highly-prized ordinands, beloved diocese and the church universal. We heartily welcome you, Deacon Ed, candidate Ryan, your family members and all. We express congratulations and support to you, and immense thanks to God. We also offer special prayers for Jenny Nates Martin, the late wife of Deacon Ed. May she rest in the peace of the risen Christ.

    The biblical

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    Bishop’s letter to diocese from 2014

    Dearly Beloved Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

    Greetings. “Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19). This “great commission of Jesus,” given to the eleven before his ascension into heaven, is the same instruction assigned to every Christian community throughout time. The recent Diocesan Rite of Election, where we celebrated the anticipated entrance of almost 500 new members to Catholicism at this year’s Easter Vigil, is one sign

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    Bishop Muench asks for openness during Chrism Mass homily

    I acknowledge representatives from our various Church parishes, schools, diocesan offices and agencies, deacons and their wives, religious, and on this, their anticipated Holy Thursday feast day, our esteemed priests. We recognize in particular those priests celebrating ordination anniversaries this year: 60 years, Msgr. Lefebvre and Father Marcell; 50 years, Father Mascarella; 45 years, Father Moroney; 40 years, Father Healy SSJ; 35 years, Father Clark SJ; 30 years, Father Gyan, Father Lorraine and Father Suchit IMS; 25 years, Father

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    Pope marks third anniversary of election with talk on mercy

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis celebrated the third anniversary of his election with a simple Tweet “Pray for me” and the usual Sunday recitation of the Angelus prayer with tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

    In his talk March 13, the pope did not mention the anniversary, but focused on God’s forgiveness and mercy as he did in his first Angelus address in 2013.

    “God does not

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    Pope makes long-awaited visit to Our Lady of Guadalupe

    MEXICO CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis fulfilled his much-desired wish to pray in silence before the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe

    After celebrating the first Mass of his papal trip to Mexico Feb. 13, the pope made his way to the “camarin” (“little room”) behind the main altar of the basilica dedicated to Mary. The miraculous mantle, which normally faces the congregation, can be turned around to allow a closer and

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    Reconciliation offers opportunity to experience God’s mercy

    The Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy! As we know, our revered Pope Francis has declared this a Holy Year of Mercy. What a blessing for us who want to grow more connected to Jesus, our ultimate good shepherd. What a welcomed opportunity to acknowledge our sins through the sacrament of reconciliation, and powerfully experience the merciful love of Jesus.

    The Treasure of Sacred

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    Church’s credibility found in showing mercy, pope says in new book

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Being ministers of God’s mercy, church members overcome “prejudice and rigidity,” taking risks like Jesus did in order to heal and to save, Pope Francis said.

    In Jesus’ day, lepers were cast out of the community “to avoid contamination: the healthy needed to be protected,” but Jesus, at his own risk, “goes up to the leper and he restores him, he heals him,” Pope Francis said in a new book-length interview on mercy.

    “By welcoming a

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    Priests’ Formation Days offer spiritual growth for clergy

    The Continuing Formation of the Clergy Committee holds Annual Priests’ Formation Days on the second full week in January. These formation days are one of the important ways in which the priests of our diocese are formed for ministry. They offer the priests opportunities for growth in intellectual and spiritual formation, emotional maturity and physical well-being. Since these days are offered once a year, and is a commitment by the diocese for their on-going formation, participation by the priests

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    Jubilee spree: Year of Mercy beefs up pope’s already busy year

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) – When Pope Francis established the Year of Mercy, a full slate of Jubilee events were slotted into his already packed calendar for 2016.

    A typical “business as usual” year for a pope is already full with meetings, liturgies and foreign trips.

    But then add the extraordinary Jubilee Year, which will run until Nov. 20, and the pope will now preside over at least one major public ceremony or event

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    Pope recognizes miracle needed to declare Mother Teresa a saint

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis has approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata, thus paving the way for her canonization.

    Pope Francis signed the decree for Blessed Teresa’s cause and advanced three other sainthood causes Dec. 17, the Vatican announced.

    Although the date for the canonization ceremony will be officially announced during the next consistory of cardinals in February, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Vatican

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    In Rome or at home, Catholics urged to take part in Year of Mercy

    VATICAN CITY – (CNS) Whether in Rome or at home, Catholics will have a variety of ways to take part in the Year of Mercy.

    The Pontifical Council for the Promotion of New Evangelization, the office organizing events for the Holy Year, presented details about some of the events planned at the Vatican and the services available for pilgrims.

    Pope Francis used a “very simple” ceremony to open the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica

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    Glorify God and serve others

    Bishop Stanley J. Ott envisioned a ministry of support for many good works, an annual campaign that might enjoy the blessing of unending commitment. In 1985 he established the Bishop’s Annual Appeal. In this commemorative anniversary effort, “Glorify God and Serve Others,” we celebrate and continue 30 years of vital ministry through the BAA and graciously ask for your participation and support.

    By God’s grace and the generosity of caring parishioners, the BAA has

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    Tear down this wall: Holy Year calls for human barriers to tumble down

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) – For a spiritual leader who denounces a world divided by walls, a church shuttered by cliques and hearts hardened to compassion, opening wide the Holy Door for the Year of Mercy will be a significant and symbolic moment for Pope Francis.

    In Catholic tradition, the Holy Door represents the passage to salvation – the path to a new and eternal life, which was opened to humanity by Jesus.

    It also symbolizes an entryway to God’s mercy

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