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Commentary: Trump/Reagan Title X Protect Life Rule 

Washington D.C., May 22, 2018 / 12:01 am (CNA).- The following are excerpts of remarks delivered by Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.) on the House floor May 21, 2018. Published with permission:

 

Last Friday, the Trump Administration announced its intention to reassert and promulgate portions of President Ronald Reagan’s modest but necessary life-affirming Title X Rule—a policy designed to ensure that taxpayers don’t fund, facilitate or promote abortion in America’s $286 million-per-year family planning program.

This new/old policy comes at a time when huge majorities of Americans—over 60 percent according to major polls—strongly oppose the use of taxpayer funds for abortion.

The Trump/Reagan policy—now called the Protect Life Rule—comes at a time when the high utilization of ultrasound imaging of the child in the womb has provided spectacular clarity and empathy and love for the baby.

First baby pictures today—the kind you put on the door of your refrigerator—are of unborn babies. Seeing is believing. No-one can seriously deny anymore that unborn children are alive, dynamic, precious, a miracle—and defenseless.

Created by Congress in 1970, Title X of the Public Health Service Act authorized taxpayer funds to assist “voluntary family planning projects” but made absolutely clear in the statute that federal funds were prohibited from being spent on “programs where abortion is a method of family planning.”

As Title X was administered, that didn’t happen.

To faithfully implement both the spirit and letter of the law, President Ronald Reagan issued a rule in 1988 that included physical separation of abortion activities from federally-funded family planning projects.

In response, the American abortion industry sued to get hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies—and lost. On May 23, 1991—27 years ago this Wednesday—the U.S. Supreme Court in Rust v. Sullivan affirmed the constitutionality of the Reagan Title X Rule.

Tragically, President Bill Clinton by executive order reversed the Reagan policy. He not only authorized abortion clinics and family planning activities under the same roof—co-location—but went further, mandating that Title X recipients refer for abortion—an egregious violation of conscience rights protected under federal law. Thus, by requiring abortion referrals, family planning service providers who oppose abortion were and are today precluded all participation in the federal program.

Today, hundreds of abortion clinics are co-located as Title X family planning facilities. For example, 266 of Planned Parenthood’s abortion clinics are subsidized by U.S. taxpayers in the Title X program to the tune of about $56 million each year. Planned Parenthood is an organization that is directly responsible for over seven million deaths of unborn children, a staggering loss of children’s lives.

If past is prologue, I fully expect an organized, aggressive, willful distortion of the Protect Life Rule.

Nevertheless, in the spirit of honest debate and civil discourse, I urge opponents and the news media to be clear as to what this rule actually does and does not do.

According to the White House, the new Protect Life Rule:

• Will physically and financially separate family planning clinics from abortion and make other important reforms.

• Will safeguard the conscience rights of providers, by eliminating the egregious, illegal, mandate that requires all participants in the program to refer pregnant women to abortion.

• Will not prohibit counseling that may include conversation about abortion. This would be in keeping with guidance issued by the George H.W. Bush Administration that affirmed “Nothing in these regulations is to prevent a woman from receiving complete medical information about her condition from a physician.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chair of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities summed it up best: “…For too long Title X has been used to subsidize the abortion industry. We need to draw a bright line between what happens before a pregnancy begins and what happens after a child has been created……Abortion always takes the life of a child and often harms the mother, her surviving children and other family and friends as well…”

 

A hospice that hurried death? Texas courts to weigh criminal charges

Dallas, Texas, May 21, 2018 / 08:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a legal case that includes allegations of death-hastening drug use and falsified do-not-resuscitate orders, a former hospice executive has admitted speeding the deaths of patients to boost the company’s profits.
 
The case concerns Novus Health Services in Frisco, a Texas city in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. The company’s leaders allegedly worked a scheme that billed Medicaid and Medicare $60 million from 2012-2015, resulting in payments to Novus for over $35 million.

Melanie Murphey, 36, former director of operations for Novus, has pleaded guilty to health care fraud and faces up to 10 years in prison, the Dallas Morning News reports.
 
She has admitted she worked as the “go-between” for Novus owner Bradley Harris and doctors and nurses. She is expected to testify against Harris, his wife, and 13 other defendants, all of whom have pleaded not guilty.
 
Federal officials said the scheme also involved kickbacks to referring physicians and health care facilities as well as falsifying and destroying documents to conceal activities from Medicare.
 
Harris’ attorney Chris Knox challenged Murphey’s testimony, saying “we wholeheartedly disagree with her opinions.”
 
“We are not aware of any evidence that shows that Mr. Harris caused, hastened or otherwise contributed to the death of the hospice patients being treated by Novus.”
 
Murphey has said that she defrauded Medicare and Medicaid by billing them for patients who were unqualified for hospice services. She filled out forms as if she were a doctor by using nurse’s notes.
 
She said she followed orders from Harris, who has no medical training. Patients were admitted to hospice without seeing a doctor first.
 
When patients stayed at the facility beyond the time they were profitable for the company, court records indicate, Harris ordered them to receive higher doses of “whatever narcotic was being used, generally morphine, Dilaudid or Ativan.” This overmedication was intended “to hasten their deaths,” Murphey said in the court document. Harris has no medical training.
 
An FBI search warrant says Harris sent a text to a nurse that reads “You need to make this patient go bye-bye,” NBC DFW reports.
 
Murphey said the falsification of paperwork and of orders not to resuscitate patients was done in order to avoid paying for ambulance trips to a hospital in case a relative called 911.
 
In a March 2016 statement Novus said: “We have not and would not — ever — willfully harm any patient.”

 

How can the US Church reach young adults? By building relationships

Washington D.C., May 21, 2018 / 04:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The question of how the U.S. Church can better reach young adults who are not actively engaged in their faith was at the heart of a three-day conference in Washington, D.C. last week.

Michael Gormley, podcast host and coordinator of evangelization at a parish outside Houston, said that he believes many in the Church are still operating under a mindset of “If we just teach them in the right way, use the right programs, hold the right events, they’ll come pouring back in.”
 
“And I think it completely misses the point that we’re not even on their radar,” Gormley said. “The biggest problem is we need to go where people are, and not expect them to come to us.”
 
The National Young Adult Ministry Summit was organized by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. Some 130 attendees from 60 dioceses, hailing from as far as Fairbanks, Alaska, gathered at the National Shrine of St. John Paul II May 15-17.

Themes of the summit were tied to the preparatory and pre-synod document for the 2018 Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment, which will be held this fall in Rome.

Throughout the summit, participants attended various breakout and small-group sessions that were tailored to different segments of the young adult population. People were split up based on if they worked on the diocesan or parish level, in order to better connect with people from similar positions.

While the attendees came from diverse backgrounds and locations, many were struck by how similar their struggles have been in engaging young adult Catholics. Common issues facing young adults in Catholic parishes included a longing for “authentic friendships,” as well as struggles with reaching people from the peripheries of society.

“Even though you’re talking to and meeting people from all across the U.S., from various job positions, with various responsibilities within their jobs, the same kind of things are coming up in young adult ministry,” said Ken White, director of youth and young adult ministry at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Newport News, Virginia.

“Ultimately, the solution is building relationships with people.”

White said one of the biggest issues facing young adults in his parish was simply a lack of time to commit to parish activities, as people tend to be busy both with jobs, families, and other activities.

Young adults at Gormley’s large parish in The Woodlands, Texas, face similar challenges, but in different contexts. In the Houston area, Gormley explained, many young adults work jobs in the oil industry where, although they make quite a bit of money, they do not have time to form relationships or commit to many parish activities.

“Our big goal with them is trying to find time in their busy lives to do more than just a social,” he said. For Gormley’s parish, that came in the form of theology on tap, which he said has proved quite popular.

Additionally, Gormley’s parish has seen success in launching a small-group ministry, with different types of groups for singles, older adults, and people with children.

While there is a large segment of well-to-do young adults in Gormley’s parish, he said he also has to focus on providing support for the marginalized members of society--particularly the wives and girlfriends of the men he meets during his work in prison ministry.

“It’s so easy to ignore them, because they’re not [seen as] ‘good people,’” he explained.

One of the presentations at the summit highlighted the need to pay attention to the sometimes-neglected categories of young adults in a parish, particularly single parents, those with addictions, divorcees, and people who have graduated from high school but may not attend college.

“Calling attention to what young adults are going through gets multiplied once you get to the peripheries of the Church--that’s an area that’s kind of scaring us,” said Gormley.

 

 

Commentary: Did the pope say that God made someone gay?

Denver, Colo., May 21, 2018 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- I am not a priest or deacon, or even a counselor or pastoral care worker. But in more than a decade of full-time work in the Church, I’ve often sat with people who are confronting some difficult cross they have to carry, some heavy burden that’s been placed upon them.

I’ve found that the question people most often ask is “why?”

“Why did my spouse abandon me and my children?”

“Why did my baby die?”

“Why do I face these temptations? Why did God make me this way?”

“Why?” is the most common question. And it’s the question that we’re usually least equipped to answer.

We do well with “what” and “how” questions, but “why” is harder.

“What am I supposed to do now?” - “Follow the teachings of the Church, and give the anguish and the suffering to Jesus.”

“How can I live this way?” - “Trust in the Lord, stay close to the sacraments, lean on the community of the Church- on saints, family, friends, pastors, and counselors.”

Why did this happen to me?” - “I...I don’t know.”

We all want coherent and sensible narratives to explain the circumstances of our lives. Looking for those narratives seems to be a part of coping with difficulty or tragedy. But sometimes there are no clear answers. And sometimes, when we can’t find them, we create them in our minds- we call this the narrative fallacy.

The essayist Nassim Taleb says that the narrative fallacy “addresses our limited ability to look at sequences of facts without weaving an explanation into them, or, equivalently, forcing a logical link, an arrow of relationship upon them.”

A few years ago, I sat with a woman who had suffered terrible abuse. She was talking with me about her experience. Eventually, she told me that God had wanted her to suffer, to test her faithfulness to the Gospel. She told me her pastor had told her that was true.

Her pastor was a friend of mine. I doubted he believed that God proactively willed that this woman would be abused. I called him and asked him if he’d said that.

“No,” he told me. “She said that. I sat there quietly listening, trying to decide what I should say next. But before I got a chance, the conversation ended.”

I thought of that woman and her pastor when I read that a Chilean, Juan Carlos Cruz, told the Spanish newspaper El Pais that Pope Francis said that God had made him gay.

After being reported in the media, what the pope might have said has become the subject of speculation, of misapplication, of misunderstanding, and criticism.

It must be said that God loves each one of us. God is love. He created us in love, and sustains us in love. God reveals truth to us - truth about ourselves, and about his plan for us - because he loves us.
 
The Church teaches that same-sex attraction is a “disordered” inclination, which distorts God’s plan for our sexuality. Disordered inclinations come from the disordering effects of Adam’s fall - same-sex attraction is not a choice, it may even have genetic components, but it is not consistent with God’s positive will for the experience or expression of our sexuality.

God gives us the grace to bear our crosses, he permits that they exist and that we carry them, and through Christ, he transforms us in holiness as we carry our crosses. But it would be a cruel God who actively imposed on us the suffering that comes from disorder. And God is not cruel.

It is not immoral to experience same-sex attraction, which, the Church recognizes, often constitutes a “trial”- a cross. But all people, no matter their attractions, are called to express their sexuality in accord with the teaching of the Church, and with the virtue of chastity.

There is every reason to believe that Pope Francis knows those things and believes them. He teaches them, in fact, with regularity. While we don’t know what Pope Francis said in a private, pastoral moment, it is unfair to presume that he would willfully give counsel that contravenes the teachings of the Church.

What Pope Francis said might have been misreported, or it might have been accurately reported in its entirety. But it’s most likely that, in the difficulty of a pastoral moment, what the pope said, or attempted to say, was somehow unclear, confused, or misunderstood.  

We may not know what the pope said, or didn’t say. He may choose to clarify it, or it may continue to be the subject of speculation. But from Catholics, at least, the pope deserves the benefit of the doubt, with some understanding for the challenge of teaching complex theological concepts in intimate pastoral moments, and understanding for the challenge of receiving and comprehending those concepts.

In a private meeting with a man who carries many crosses, including some imposed by abuse at the hands of a priest, the pope gave a reminder of God’s love, and of the Church’s love. Beyond that, we are unlikely to be sure what was said. But in charity, we should presume the best of the pope, and pray for him, for Mr. Cruz, and for all those who might doubt the Lord’s love, or ask the oft-unanswerable question: “Why?


This commentary reflects the opinions of the author, and does not necessarily reflect an editorial position of Catholic News Agency.

 

Analysis: With new appointments, Pope Francis puts his mark on the College of Cardinals

Vatican City, May 21, 2018 / 12:32 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis’ fifth consistory marks an important shift within the College of Cardinals: it is the first time in the five years of this pontificate that in a possible future conclave the number of cardinals created by Pope Francis will surpass the number of cardinals created by his predecessors.
 
As of April, the College of Cardinals is composed this way: there are 48 voting cardinals created by Pope Francis, 48 by Benedict XVI and 19 created by John Paul II, for a total of 115 voting cardinals.
 
After the June 29 consistory, the number of cardinals created by Pope Francis will be 59, and the total number of voting cardinals will be 125.

Only cardinals younger than 80 have the right to vote in a conclave. On June 8, Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation of the Cause of Saints, will turn 80, and so at the moment of the consistory there will there will be 47 voting cardinals created by Benedict XVI.
 
That means that Pope Francis has made the decision to surpass the limit of 120 voting cardinals set by Paul VI and confirmed by John Paul II. He did so also at the last consistory, in June 28, 2017, when Pope Francis created 5 new cardinals, all of them below the age of 80, that raised the total number of voting cardinals to 121.
 
Some other figures are revealing.
 
Since the very first consistory, Pope Francis wanted to show a universal Church by tapping for a “red hat” bishops or archbishops from countries that had never before been represented by a cardinal.
 
This consistory is slightly different, as Pope Francis picked countries that have been already had cardinals. Japan, Pakistan, Madagascar, and Iraq are back in the sacred college, after a long absence. With their presence there are now 87 countries represented in the College of Cardinals.
 
Europe is now the most represented continent, and will still be: after the next consistory, there will be 53 European voting cardinals. Latin America has a new representative in the sacred college, so there will be 13 Latin American voting cardinals; Africa will climb to 16 cardinals and Asia to 17 cardinals. North America will have 17 cardinals and Central America 5, while Oceania will keep 4 red birettas.
 
The roster of the pope’s new cardinals do not include any bishops from North America. It is particularly surprising that Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles will not be created a cardinal, given that his predecessor, Cardinal Roger Mahony, has already turned 82.
 
Even if it is Pope Francis’ unwritten rule to avoid creating cardinals in diocese that already have an elector, Los Angeles does not fit the bill.
 
The rationale could be that of representativeness: with 10 voting cardinals, the United States is second only to Italy as the most represented country in the College of Cardinals. This consideration might have weighed in Pope Francis’ decision.
 
Another point is also noteworthy: Pope Francis rarely makes cardinals in dioceses generally considered cardinalatial posts. So, Japan will be represented, but the cardinal will not be the Archbishop of Tokyo, as usual, but instead Archbishop Thomas Aquinas Manyo of Osaka. Madagascar is not represented by the Archdiocese of Antananarivo, its capital city, but by Archbishop Desiré Tsarahazana of Toamasina.
 
The appointment of the second cardinal from Madagascar – the first was Jérôme Louis Rakotomalala, created by Paul VI in 1969 – shows a particular concern for the Church in Madagascar, and might also pave the way to a Pope Francis’ visit to the African country.
 
There are clues supporting that possibility.
 
Bishop Gilbert Aubry, Bishop of Reunion and president of the Indian Ocean Bishops’ Conference, which met Pope Francis for their ad limina visit Apr. 9, said May 10 in an interview with Antenne Reunion that a papal visit in Madagascar might be scheduled for 2019. It would be the second visit of a Pope to Madagascar, and would mark the 30th anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II’s 1989 visit.
 
Giving a wider glance at the list, it is easy to see many of Pope Francis’ main concerns. His focus on the Middle East is borne out in the fact that Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako of the Chaldeans is the first of the list, even before Archbishop Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and one of the three cardinals from the Roman Curia among the new red hats.
 
The appointment of Patriarch Sako as a cardinal shows the Pope’s attention to Iraq, and to suffering Churches - the Pope also appointed as a cardinal Syria’s nuncio, Mario Zenari, in the 2016 consistory.

Patriarch Sako recently said that he invited the pope to visit Iraq, during a visit with Francis in February. A papal visit to Iraq has been studied for years, and is considered likely to happen, once security issues can be solved.
 
Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi, Pakistan, will also get the red hat: Pope Francis learned of the difficult situation of Pakistan speaking with Pakistani bishops in their ad limina visit March 15, and the red birretta likely aims to give more attention to a small Catholic community who is also targeted by the blasphemy laws.
 
The Roman Curia got three red hats: beyond the appointment of Archbishop Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Pope appointed as cardinals Archbishops Giovanni Angelo Becciu and Konrad Krajewski.
 
This latter is the Papal Almoner, and he will apparently keep his post. It seems the pope wants to give to the office of the Papal Almoner the highest rank, emphasizing the work with poor. During recent years, the Papal Almoner has been promoter of many initiatives for poor, including a laundromat (“The Pope Francis laundry”) and a dormitory for the homeless.
 
The red hat given to Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, deputy to the Secretariat of State, might anticipate Archbishop Becciu’s appointment as Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, to replace Cardinal Amato, who will soon retire.
 
This would means, as a side effect, that there could be a further reshuffle within the Secretariat of State, with a new deputy, after the pope appointed Msgr. Joseph Murphy as new head of protocol March 22.

Archbishop Becciu is also one of the three new Italian cardinals.

Archbishop Angelo De Donatis, the Pope’s vicar for the diocese of Rome, will be a cardinal. This appointment negates rumors that Pope Francis did not want his vicar in Rome, who oversees the leadership of the Diocese of Rome, to be a cardinal. Actually, the pope’s vicar is supposed to be a cardinal, according to a consistorial decree issued by Pope Paul IV in the 16th century.
 
With this appointment, the Diocese of Rome could have even more impact in a future conclave, considering that Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Archbishop De Donatis predecessor as Pope’s vicar of Rome, is 78, and so he still has the right to vote in a conclave.
 
As the Pope already did with the bishops of Ancona, Perugia and Agrigento, a red birretta will go to another Italian archbishop from a traditionally non-cardinatial diocese: Giuseppe Petrocchi of L’Aquila, the city still rebuilding after a huge earthquake in 2009.
 
It is noteworthy that Archbishops of Turin and Patriarch of Venice still have not gotten the red birretta, though their archdioceses have been traditionally led by cardinals. The Patriarch of Venice, as a patriarch, can wear red vestments,however, although he is not a cardinal.
 
The pope did not include in the list the new Archbishop of Milan, Mario Delpini. However, Archbishop Delpini’s predecessor at the helm of the world biggest diocese, Cardinal Angelo Scola, is still below 80.
 
Pope Francis also awarded with a red hat to Bishop Antonio Marto, of Leiria-Fatima, Portugal. He is the first cardinal from the diocese of the apparitions, and he is created cardinal one year after Pope Francis was in Fatima for the 100th anniversary of the apparitions and for the canonization of the two visionaries.
 
Perhaps the pope wanted to show his deep personal devotion to the Fatima message.
 
The list of new cardinals includes only one representative from Latin America, Archbishop Pedro Barretto from Huancayo, Peru. The pope and Archbishop Barreto met in the 80s. Archbishop Barreto is vice president of the Peruvian bishops’ conference and represents the Latin American bishops’ conference (CELAM) within REPAM, the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network. His appointment is likely intended to give more weight to preparations for the 2019 Special Synod for Pan-Amazonian Region.

 

Pope Francis: Like Mary, the Church is a mother

Vatican City, May 21, 2018 / 09:53 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis celebrated the first feast of Mary, Mother of the Church Monday saying that without the emphasis placed on motherhood, the Church would be isolated, composed of no more than “old bachelors.”

“Without this dimension, it sadly becomes a church of old bachelors, who live in this isolation, incapable of love, incapable of fecundity. Without the woman, the Church does not advance – because she is a woman. And this attitude of woman comes from Mary, because Jesus willed it so.”

In his homily during Mass May 21, Pope Francis said “the Church is feminine, because it is 'church' and 'bride,'” both of which are grammatically feminine in the Italian language.

The Church is also a mother, “she gives life,” he said, adding that only a feminine Church would be able to have a truly “fruitful attitude” in accordance with the will of God, who chose “to be born of a woman in order to teach us the path of woman.”

“The important thing is that the Church be a woman, that [it] has this attitude of a bride and of a mother,” he said, adding that “when we forget this, it is a masculine Church.”

Pope Francis spoke during his Mass said in the chapel of the Vatican's Saint Martha guesthouse, marking the first liturgical celebration of the feast of Mary, Mother of the Church, which he established in March.

According to the March 3 decree implementing the feast, it was established in order to help encourage growth in “the maternal sense of the Church” and in “genuine Marian piety.” It is celebrated on the Monday after Pentecost.

It was also established, the decree said, to help the Church “remember that growth in the Christian life must be anchored to the Mystery of the Cross, to the oblation of Christ in the Eucharistic Banquet and to the Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the Redeemed.”

The title “Mother of the Church,” was given to the Blessed Mother by Bl. Paul VI.

In his homily, Pope Francis noted that in the Gospels, Mary is not referred to as “the lady” or “the widow of Joseph,” but is rather called “the mother of Jesus.”

Mary's motherhood is emphasized throughout the Gospels, from the Annunciation to the foot of the cross, he said, explaining that the fathers of the Church realized this attention to motherhood is not just applied to Mary, but can be applied to the entire Church.

The Church itself is feminine, he said, noting that the fathers of the Church say, “even your soul is the bride of Christ and mother.”

“It is with this attitude that comes from Mary, who is Mother of the Church, with this attitude we can understand this feminine dimension of the Church,” the pope said, adding that if this aspect is lost, “the Church loses its identity and becomes a charitable organization or a football team, but not the Church.”

Francis said the primary distinctive quality of a woman is tenderness, which can be seen in Mary's act of wrapping her newborn son “in swaddling clothing” and laying him in the manger in Bethlehem.

In this action, Mary cared for Christ with meekness and humility, the strongest virtues mothers possess, he said, explaining that “a Church that is a mother goes along the path of tenderness.”

“It knows the language of such wisdom of caresses, of silence, of the gaze that knows compassion,” he said, explaining that this attitude is also representative of those people who live as part of the Church, knowing that they are “[like] a mother [and] must go along the same path: a person [who is] gentle, tender, smiling, full of love.”

Chilean abuse victim: Pope told me to accept being gay, God made me this way

Vatican City, May 20, 2018 / 09:55 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A victim of the Chilean clergy abuse crisis who met privately with Pope Francis told a Spanish news source that the Pope told him to accept himself and his same-sex attraction, because God made him that way.

Juan Carlos Cruz, a victim of Chilean abuser Fr. Fernando Karadima, met with Pope Francis privately in April after being invited to the Vatican along with other victims of abuse.

In comments to the press on May 2, Cruz said that the Pope was “sincere, attentive and deeply apologetic for the situation [of sexual abuse].”

“For me, the pope was contrite, he was truly sorry,” Cruz said. “I felt also that he was hurting, which for me was very solemn, because it's not often that the pope says sorry to you...he said, 'I was part of the problem, I caused this and I apologize.'”

In a later interview with Spanish newspaper El País, Cruz was asked whether he and Pope Francis had spoken about homosexuality during their meeting, as Cruz identifies as gay.

Cruz confirmed that they did speak about homosexuality, and that he explained to the Pope that he is not a bad person and tries not to hurt anybody.

“He told me ‘Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like that and he loves you like that and I do not care. The Pope loves you as you are, you have to be happy with who you are,’" Cruz recalled.

The comment is controversial because it evokes a theological debate about the causes of homosexuality.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that people with homosexual tendencies “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”

The Catechism also states that “deep-seated” homosexual inclination is "objectively disordered," and that homosexual acts are “acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.”

The Vatican has not yet confirmed or clarified the comments that Cruz said the Pope made regarding homosexuality.

 

 

This story has been updated after its original publication.

 

Pope on Pentecost: The power of the Holy Spirit changes hearts

Vatican City, May 20, 2018 / 07:58 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Though people may promise to change things, it is the third person of the Holy Trinity that creates real change through the reinvigoration and renewal of hearts, Pope Francis said on Pentecost Sunday.

“Plenty of people promise change, new beginnings, prodigious renewals, but experience teaches us that no earthly attempt to change reality can ever completely satisfy the human heart,” the pope said May 20.

“Yet the change that the Spirit brings is different. It does not revolutionize life around us, but changes our hearts.”

This change, Francis continued, does not take away all of our problems, but “liberates us within so that we can face them. It does not give us everything at once, but makes us press on confidently, never growing weary of life. The Spirit keeps our hearts young.”

Speaking during Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the Solemnity of Pentecost, Pope Francis noted that when Catholics want to bring about real change in their lives, they should pray to the Holy Spirit.

“Who among us does not need a change? Particularly when we are downcast, wearied by life’s burdens, oppressed by our own weakness, at those times when it is hard to keep going and loving seems impossible,” the pope said.

In those moments, people need a powerful “jolt” or “reinvigoration” of the Spirit, he stated, pointing out how in the creed, Catholics profess that the Holy Spirit is the “giver of life.”

“How good it would be for us each day to feel this jolt of life!” he encouraged. “To say when we wake up each morning: ‘Come, Holy Spirit, come into my heart, come into my day.’”

Just as wind brings change to the environment – “warmth when it is cold, cool when it is hot” – the Holy Spirit, “on a very different level, does the same.”

“He is the divine force that changes the world,” Francis stated.

Reflecting on the Acts of the Apostles, and how the power of the Holy Spirit sent the disciples to preach and convert pagans in different lands, including Philip who was sent “from Jerusalem to Gaza,” the pope exclaimed: “How heartrending that name [Gaza] sounds to us today! May the Spirit change hearts and situations and bring peace to the Holy Land.”

After Mass, Pope Francis led the Regina Coeli in St. Peter’s Square, where he also prayed for Jerusalem, saying he was spiritually united to a prayer vigil which took place May 19 in Jerusalem for Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

“Today we continue to invoke the Holy Spirit to inspire the will and gestures of dialogue and reconciliation in the Holy Land and Middle East,” he said.

He also spoke about his “beloved Venezuela,” asking the Holy Spirit to give the Venezuelan people – citizens and political leaders – “the wisdom to meet the path of peace and unity,” and prayed for the 11 prisoners who died Saturday during a prison riot.

May 19 Francis sent a telegram through the Vatican’s Secretary of State Pietro Parolin for an airplane crash in Cuba which killed over 100 people. Offering his prayers for the victims and their families, he asked the Lord to give all the affected the gifts of spiritual serenity and Christian hope.

Pope announces June 29 consistory to create 14 new cardinals

Vatican City, May 20, 2018 / 05:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- There will be a consistory June 29 to create 14 new cardinals, each of whom express the “universality” of the Church, Pope Francis announced Sunday after his Regina Coeli address.

“Their provenance expresses the universality of the Church that continues to proclaim the merciful love of God to all people on earth,” he said May 20, noting that the new cardinals from the Diocese of Rome also show “the inseparable link between the see of Peter and the particular Churches spread throughout the world.”

“Let us pray for the new cardinals, so that by confirming their adherence to Christ, the Most Merciful and faithful High Priest (see Hebrews 2:17), they will help me in my ministry as Bishop of Rome for the good of the whole faithful People of God,” the pope said.

Among the newly appointed cardinals is His Beatitude Louis Raphael Sako I, the patriarch of Babylon for the Chaldean Catholic Church and the archbishop of Baghdad.

Those from the Diocese of Rome and the Holy See who have been named are: Archbishop Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, substitute of the Secretariat of State; Archbishop Kondrad Krajewski, papal almoner; and Archbishop Angelo De Donatis, Rome’s vicar general and archpriest of the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.

From around the world are: Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi, Pakistan; Bishop Antonio do Santos Marto of Leiria-Fatima, Portugal; Archbishop Pedro Barreto of Huancayo, Peru; Archbishop Desire Tsarahazana of Tamatave, Madagascar; Archbishop Giuseppe Petrocchi of Aquila, Italy; and Archbishop Thomas Aquino Mango Maeda of Osaka, Japan.

Pope Francis made particular note of three who will be receiving red hats – Archbishop Emeritus Sergio Obeso Rivera of Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico; Prelate Emeritus Toribio Ticono Porco of Corocoro, Bolivia; and Claretian Fr. Aquilina Bocos Merino – who he said “have distinguished themselves for their service to the Church.”

The day of the consistory, the June 29 Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, the new cardinals will concelebrate Mass with Pope Francis in St. Peter's Basilica alongside the new metropolitan archbishops named during the previous year, who traditionally receive the pallium from the pope on that day.

Most of the newly appointed cardinals are under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave. The archbishop emeriti Obeso Rivera and Ticono Porco, and Fr. Aquilina Bocos Merino, are over the age of 80.

Francis tells youth to evangelize through the ‘digital world’

Vatican City, May 19, 2018 / 11:27 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Sharing the Gospel with people at the peripheries might not even require stepping outside the door, Pope Francis said Saturday, encouraging Christians to evangelize through encounters in the “digital world.”

Especially for young people, “the ends of the earth...are quite relative and always easily ‘navigable,’” he said May 19. “The digital world - the social networks that are so pervasive and readily available - dissolves borders, eliminates distances, and reduces differences.”

But if we lack a “sincere gift of our lives,” he continued, “we could well have countless contacts but never share in a true communion of life. To share in the mission to the ends of the earth demands a gift of oneself in the vocation that God, who has placed us on this earth, chooses to give us.”

The pope’s words were published in a message on the theme, “Together with young people, let us bring the Gospel to all,” published ahead of the 92nd World Missionary Day, which will take place Oct. 21.

Francis explained that the Synod of Bishops on young people, the faith, and vocational discernment will also take place in October, which is the “month of the missions,” and that the Synod “will prove to be one more occasion to help us become missionary disciples, ever more passionately devoted to Jesus and his mission, to the ends of the earth.”

While the pope’s message was for “all Christians who live out in the Church the adventure of their life as children of God,” he reflected specifically on the missionary role of young people.

Addressing youth, he said, “what leads me to speak to everyone through this conversation with you is the certainty that the Christian faith remains ever young when it is open to the mission that Christ entrusts to us.”

Quoting the words of St. John Paul II in “Redemptoris Missio,” Francis said: “Mission revitalizes faith,” and emphasized that young men and women who want to follow Christ need “to seek, to discover, and to persevere” in their God-given vocations, which will lead to joy.

“Dear young people, do not be afraid of Christ and his Church! For there we find the treasure that fills life with joy,” he said, and joy and enthusiasm can be powerful means of transmission of the faith.

Likewise, spreading the faith, which is “the heart of the Church’s mission, comes about by the infectiousness of love.” Love, he underlined, “generates sharing in charity with all those far from the faith, indifferent to it and perhaps even hostile and opposed to it.”

Pope Francis explained that he knows to joyfully share the faith can be a challenge, and that he is aware of both the “lights and shadows of youth.” But he encouraged young Christians to be strong and to let evil, instead of being a discouragement, be “an incentive to ever greater love.”  

“Many men and women, and many young people, have generously sacrificed themselves, even at times to martyrdom, out of love for the Gospel and service to their brothers and sisters,” he said.

Christ’s love for us was demonstrated in his sacrifice upon the cross, the pope continued, noting that “to be set afire by the love of Christ is to be consumed by that fire, to grow in understanding by its light and to be warmed by its love.”

“At the school of the saints, who open us to the vast horizons of God, I invite you never to stop wondering: ‘What would Christ do if he were in my place?’”