Apart but together: Church shows creativity in ministering during pandemics

Posted May 20, 2020 at 2:03 pm

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The Catholic Church’s acceptance of a ban on gathering for public worship and following other painful COVID-19 restrictions reflects its long-held understanding that faith, service and science are not at war with one another.

The church has had centuries of experience with the do’s and don’ts during a pandemic  and far from being antagonistic, it has often been at the forefront of endorsing public health measures considered to be the most effective at the time for containing contagion.

One of the most important early sets of public health guidelines for quarantine was published by Cardinal Girolamo Gastaldi in 1684.

The nearly 1,000-page folio became “the principal manual for plague response,” wrote Anthony Majanlahti, a Canadian historian and author specializing in Rome’s social history.

The manual’s “counsel seems very familiar in today’s Rome: Protect the gates; maintain quarantine; keep watch

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     Easter Vigil in the Holy Night

    “Peter ran to the tomb” (Lk 24:12).  What thoughts crossed Peter’s mind and stirred his heart as he ran to the tomb? The Gospel tells us that the eleven, including Peter, had not believed the testimony of the women, their Easter proclamation. Quite the contrary, “these words seemed to them an idle tale” (v. 11). Thus there was doubt in Peter’s heart, together with many other worries: sadness at the death of the beloved Master and disillusionment for having denied him three times during his Passion.

    There is, however, something which signals a change in

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    URBI ET ORBI

    Pope Francis holds the monstrance as he delivers his extraordinary blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) during a prayer service in the portico of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican March 27. The service was livestreamed in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. CNS photo

    Evolving door: New Year may bring new opportunities for women at Vatican

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis opened 2020 with a strong call to acknowledge the dignity of women, end violence against them and stop the exploitation of women’s bodies.

    His homily Jan. 1 was not generic: it referenced prostitution, rape, coerced abortions, pornography and even advertising.

    And Pope Francis called for the involvement of women in decision-making processes in civil society, specifically when it comes to promoting peace.

    At the Mass on the feast of Mary, Mother of God, he said the church is “woman and mother,” but he did not use the homily to

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    Pope lifts secrecy obligation for those who report having been abused

    VATICAN CITY (CNS)— Pope Francis has abolished the obligation of secrecy for those who report having been sexually abused by a priest and for those who testify in a church trial or process having to do with clerical sexual abuse.

    “The person who files the report, the person who alleges to have been harmed and the witnesses shall not be bound by any obligation of silence with regard to matters involving the case,” the pope ordered in a new “Instruction On the Confidentiality of Legal Proceedings,” published Dec. 17.

    In an accompanying note, Bishop Juan

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    People’s hearts yearn for God, not possessions, status, pope says

    VATICAN CITY – The Christmas season is a time to reflect on what life is all about, Pope Francis told an international group of performers.

    “The time before Christmas calls us to ask ourselves, ‘What is it that I am waiting for in my life? What is the great desire of my heart?’ You too, with your songs, help awaken or reawaken this healthy human ‘yearning’ in the hearts of many people,” he said.

    The pope met Dec. 13 with the group of singers, songwriters, musicians and conductors the day before they were to

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    Synod document: New ministries can serve evangelization in Amazon

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) – To proclaim the Gospel message of hope, the Catholic Church in the Amazon must open new paths of evangelization in the region, including by instituting new ministries for lay men and women, the Synod of Bishops said.

    The final document of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon looked at ways the church can increase its ministry in the region, including by ordaining married men. But at the heart of the document was the need to bring the good news to the Amazon, a mission that includes safeguarding the indigenous people, cultures and

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    Five Saints canonized

    VATICAN CITY (CNS)  – Saints are people who recognized their need for God’s help, who took risks to discover God’s will and to help others and who nurtured a habit of thanksgiving, Pope Francis said.

    “The culmination of the journey of faith is to live a life of continual thanksgiving. Let us ask ourselves: Do we, as people of faith, live each day as a burden, or as an act of praise?” the pope said in his homily Oct. 13 after formally declaring five new saints for the Catholic Church.

    Those canonized at the Mass

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    Different clicks, same prayer: Pope asks Catholics to pray the rosary

    VATICAN CITY (CNS)  – Told that some people think Pope Francis isn’t exactly a fan of the rosary, Father Federic Fornos SJ practically shouted, “What?”

    “Pope Francis says the rosary is the prayer of his heart. He prays it every day,” said the international director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, formerly known as the Apostleship of Prayer.

    Father Fornos was at the Vatican press office Oct. 15 to launch the latest effort to respond to what he said was Pope Francis’ explicit request that the network help young people learn to pray and love

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    Life without parole is not a solution to crime, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS)  – Sentencing someone to life in prison without the possibility of parole is “not the solution to problems, but a problem to solve,” Pope Francis told Italian prison guards, prison chaplains and officials from the Ministry of Justice.

    “If you close hope in a cell, there is no future for society,” the pope told thousands of guards, chaplains, volunteers and their family members Sept. 14 during an audience in St. Peter’s Square.

    Among those present were two detainees who are serving life sentences, but are engaged in a formal process of recognizing

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    Climbers exist inside the church, too, pope says

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) ­– People who race to get top positions often feel superior to others, an attitude that destroys the possibility for fellowship and communion, Pope Francis said.

    “We all know these people: climbers, always trying to climb up, up. They hurt brotherhood, they damage brotherhood,” the pope said Sept. 1 during his Sunday Angelus address.

    Thousands of pilgrims waited outside St. Peter’s Square to listen to and pray with the pope. However, the pope was late, which is unusual for his Angelus appointment.

    Excusing himself for the delay, the pope explained that he

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    TIP OF THE HAT

    Pope Francis tries on a hat presented by a journalist aboard his flight from Rome to Maputo, Mozambique, Sept. 4. During his flight, the pope asked journalists to pray for victims of Hurricane Dorian, especially in the Bahamas.  CNS photo  

    ‘Spiritual tourism’ destroys church

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Christians who focus more on being superficially close to the church rather than care for their fellow brothers and sisters are like tourists who wander around aimlessly, Pope Francis said.

    People “who are always passing by but never enter the church” in a fully communal way of sharing and caring engage in a sort of “spiritual tourism that makes them believe they are Christians but instead are only tourists of catacombs,” the pope said Aug. 21 during his weekly general audience.

    “A life based only on profiting and taking advantage of situations

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    Vatican discovers empty tombs as it searches for missing woman

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Opening the Vatican tombs of a princess and a duchess July 11 in a search for the remains of a young Italian woman missing for more than 30 years, the Vatican found no human remains at all.

    “The search had a negative result,” said Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Vatican press office. “No human remains or funeral urns were found.”

    Now, Gisotti said, Vatican officials will go into the archives to study documents dealing with “structural interventions carried out in the area” of the Teutonic Cemetery at the end of the

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    Not ruling on apparitions, pope allows pilgrimages to Medjugorje

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Parishes and dioceses are now allowed to organize official pilgrimages to Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, but it must be clear that the Catholic Church has not recognized as authentic the alleged Marian apparitions there.

    Polish Archbishop Henryk Hoser, the pope’s apostolic visitor to Medjugorje, and Archbishop Luigi Pezzuto, the nuncio to Bosnia-Herzegovina, announced the pope’s decision to lift the ban on official pilgrimages May 12.

    Alessandro Gisotti, the interim director of the Vatican press office, confirmed the change, but said care must be taken to ensure the pilgrimages are not “interpreted as an authentication of well-known events,

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    Continuing Easter celebrations, pope again prays for Sri Lanka

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) – On Easter Monday, Pope Francis led thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square in praying for the hundreds of people who died or were injured in bomb blasts the previous day in Sri Lanka.

    Pope Francis had already condemned the bombings and offered prayers April 21 after celebrating Easter morning Mass.

    The next day, after Sri Lankan officials reported 290 confirmed deaths from the eight blasts at churches and hotels in three cities, the pope told the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the “Regina Coeli” prayer, “I want to again express my

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    Hope from the ashes: President, archbishop vow to rebuild Notre Dame

    ROME (CNS) – The president of France and the archbishop of Paris have vowed to rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral after a devastating fire, continuing what a professor of architecture described as the natural lifecycle of a historic building. 

    Steven W. Semes, a professor and director of graduate studies in the Historic Preservation Program at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, said he was as shocked and pained as everyone watching on television as the building burned April 15. 

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    Number of priests decline; percentage of Catholics remains steady

    VATICAN CITY (CNS)  – The percentage of Catholics in the world has remained steady, while the number of priests has decreased for the first time in almost a decade, according to Vatican statistics.

    Meanwhile, the numbers of bishops, permanent deacons, lay missionaries and catechists have all increased, it said.

    At the end of 2017, the worldwide Catholic population exceeded 1.3 billion, which continued to be about 17.7 percent of the world’s population, said a statement published March 6 by the Vatican press office.

    The statement reported a handful of the statistics in the Statistical

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    Pope: No more excuses

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The time has come for an “all-out battle” against the abuse of minors, erasing this abominable crime from the face of the earth, Pope Francis said, closing a global four-day summit on child protection in the Catholic Church.

    For quite some time, the world has been aware of the “serious scandal” the abuse of minors by clergy has brought to the church and public opinion, both because of the dramatic suffering it has caused victims and because of the “unjustifiable negligence” and “cover-up” by leaders in the church, he told people gathered in

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    Vatican: Investigation underway of bishop accused of abuse, misconduct

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) – A bishop from Argentina who had been working in the Vatican’s real estate administration office is the object of a preliminary diocesan investigation after accusations came to light of sexual abuse, abuse of power and mismanagement in his former Diocese of Oran.

    The interim director of the Vatican press office, Alessandro Gisotti, told reporters in a note Jan. 4 that accusations of sexual abuse against Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, 54, emerged in the “autumn” of 2018.

    “On the basis of these accusations and from news appearing recently in the media,” Bishop Luis Antonio

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    Cardinal: No one has right to demand a pope’s resignation

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) – People can disagree about problems and the best ways to resolve them, but no one should launch a formal accusation against a pope much less ask for his resignation, German Cardinal Gerhard Muller said.  

    Such public attacks put into question the church’s credibility, he said in an interview with the Italian website Vatican Insider Nov. 27. 

    “I am personally convinced that Pope Francis is doing everything possible to oppose the

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    Pope revises catechism to say death penalty is ‘inadmissible’

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Building on the development of Catholic Church teaching against capital punishment, Pope Francis has ordered a revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to assert “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” and to commit the church to working toward its abolition worldwide.

    The catechism’s paragraph on capital punishment, 2267, already had been updated by St. John Paul II in 1997 to strengthen its skepticism about the need to use the death penalty in the modern world and, particularly, to affirm the importance

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    Pope Francis greets U.S. President Donald Trump during a private audience at the Vatican May 24. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) See POPE-TRUMP-MEET May 24, 2017.

    Pope, President Trump speak of hopes for peace

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) Pope Francis and U.S. President Donald Trump spent 30 minutes speaking privately in the library of the Apostolic Palace May 24, and as the president left, he told the pope, “I won’t forget what you said.”

    The atmosphere at the beginning was formal and a bit stiff. However, the mood lightened when Pope Francis met the first lady,

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    VIVA EL PAPA: USA 2015

    A student shows Pope Francis a lesson on the environment during his visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels School in the East Harlem area of New York Sept. 25.

     

    Pope Francis blesses a prisoner as he visits the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia Sept. 27. Photos by CNS

     

    Nuns lean out to see Pope Francis as he greets and blesses seminarians, novices and other guests inside the Basilica of

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    Pope Francis says good priests bring joy, comfort to those in need

    By Carol Glatz

    Catholic News Service

    VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis called on the world’s priests to bring the healing power of God’s grace to everyone in need, to stay close to the marginalized and to be “shepherds living with the smell of the sheep.”

    Pope Francis breathes over chrism oil, a gesture symbolizing the infusion of the Holy Spirit, during the Holy Thursday chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican March 28. Photo by Paul Haring | CNS

     

    Those priests “who do not go out of themselves” by being mediators between God and men can “gradually

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