VATICAN CITY --- Vatican Radio reported that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith just published a new instruction on the burial of the dead and on the conservation of the ashes in cases of cremation. The instruction reiterates the long held view that the Church is not opposed to the practice of cremation, though it continues to recommend that the bodies of the deceased be buried in cemeteries or other sacred places. However the new document insists that ashes should not be kept in private houses and that the scattering of ashes on land or at sea is not permitted.
As the Catholic Church began the Holy Year of Mercy, the Archdiocese of New York announced it will offer its marriage tribunal process to all who need it, without requiring payments or assessing fees. The Holy Father has asked that, while safeguarding a just and fair wage of the workers in the tribunal, national conferences of Catholic bishops will, insofar as possible, take care to assure that all cases are free of charge. Pope Francis wants to make the process equally available to everyone. Therefore, after proper consultation, Cardinal Dolan has decided that all fees involved in any process for the declaration of nullity submitted to the Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese of New York after December 8, 2015 will be eliminated.
God, who is merciful, desires our mercy. Here are some ways to keep to mercy during the Jubilee Year. Try randomly selecting one each week and putting it into practice.
1) Resist sarcasm; it is the antithesis of mercy: “Set, O Lord, a guard over my mouth; keep watch, O Lord, at the door of my lips!” (Psalm 141:3).
2) Pare down possessions: share your things with the needy.
3) Call someone who you know is lonely, even if you understand why they’re lonely. Especially if you do.
4) Write a letter of forgiveness to someone. If you cannot send it, sprinkle it with holy water, ask Christ Jesus to have mercy on you both and then burn or bury it.
5) Learn to say this prayer: “Dear Lord, bless [annoying person’s name] and have mercy on me!”
6) Plan a mini pilgrimage to a local shrine; make an effort along the way to live the corporal work of mercy of “welcoming the stranger” as Christ.
7) Do something kind and helpful for someone who you don’t get along with, or who has wronged you.
8) Be mindful of your behavior online. Is that post designed to improve your image … and leave others feeling bad? Are you hammering people in order to serve your anger and humiliate others?
9) Have masses said for the living: friends and family members, even strangers you read/hear about, who are having a hard time.
10) Be generous enough to allow someone to help you; people need to feel needed.
VATICAN CITY --- The Catholic News Agency reported that Pope Francis said that a civilization whose technological advancements do not seek to protect the most vulnerable, from conception until natural death, fails to live up to its responsibility. In remarks made during an audience at the Vatican with members of the Italian Science and Life Association, the pontiff decried victims of abortion and euthanasia, migrants left to die on the sea, and other travesties. Progress in civilization is not measured by its advancements in technology, but “its capacity to protect life, especially during the most fragile stages,” he said.
“The scourge of abortion is an attack against life.” Pope Francis also encouraged those present at the audience to engage with the scientific community. “Do not be afraid of embarking on a fruitful dialogue with the world of science, even with those who, while not believers, remain open to the mystery of human life,” he said. Life, Pope Francis said, “originates and accompanies all scientific progress; it is the miracle of life which always undermines some sort of scientific presumption, giving primacy to wonder and beauty.”
He told them not to lose sight of the “sacredness of every human person, in order that science may truly be at the service of man,” and not the other way around. Science has the ability to analyze specific details, Pope Francis said, which insures that “a just society recognizes the right to life from conception to natural death as paramount.” “The protection and promotion of life represents a fundamental task, especially in a society marked by the negative logic of waste.”
The pontiff observed that protecting the person involves encountering and sustaining those in need of protection, a responsibility which extends “from the center toward the peripheries.” “At the center, there is Christ,” the Pope said, and it is from “this centrality that you are directed toward the various conditions of human life.” “The love of Christ pushes us to make ourselves servants of the little and the elderly, of every man and every woman, for whom the primordial right to live should be recognized and protected.” “Therefore Christ, who is the light of man and the world, illuminates the way in order that science may always be knowledge in service of life.” This recognition of life’s value, however, obligates us to consider how we make use of it, Pope Francis said. “Life is above all a gift,” he said, and this creates hope and a future, so long as it is “enlivened” by familial and social relationships, which in turn “open new perspectives.” “Loving life means to take care of the other, to love him, to cultivate and respect his transcendent dignity."
Russell Shaw, once secretary for public affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the author of many books, speculates: The persecution of the Catholic Church and other morally conservative religious bodies has begun in the United States. As predicted, it isn't -- thank God -- bloody persecution like the persecution of Christians in many countries. But it's real persecution and likely to get worse. This new persecution currently has two prongs. One consists of pressuring individual religious believers to cooperate with public policies inimical to faith. The other prong is pressure targeted at religious groups and institutions to adapt their programs to the promotion of values hostile to the sponsors' moral convictions. As for the second prong of persecution -- pressure to adapt religious programs and institutions to the promotion of hostile values, coupled with vitriolic denunciations of whoever says no to doing that -- it has been visibly in operation lately in San Francisco, where Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone came under attack for saying that teachers in Catholic schools shouldn't teach things contrary to Catholic morality.
This is astonishing. Why on earth should the Catholic Church, in its own schools, be obliged to provide a platform for teaching that contradicts Catholic moral doctrine? Yet this is what Archbishop Cordileone's critics, including San Francisco media, would require of the Church. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia pointed to the driving force that lies behind the new persecution -- a radical collapse of moral consensus, reflected in a disastrous breakdown of public moral discourse. Hang on to your hats. The worst of it has yet to come.
WASHINGTON D.C. --- The Catholic News Agency reported that more than 30 U.S. religious leaders, including four Catholic bishops, have joined together to call on their country to preserve the “unique meaning of marriage” and to renew respect for religious freedom. “For many people, accepting a redefinition of marriage would be to act against their conscience and to deny their religious beliefs and moral convictions,” the letter said. “No person or community, including religious organizations and individuals of faith, should be forced to accept this redefinition.” A legal redefinition of marriage would have “serious consequences, especially for religious freedom,” the religious leaders warned. Such a change would affect every law involving marital status and require other relationships to be treated “as if they were the same as the marital relationship of a man and a woman.”
The letter emphasized the need for government protection for those with different views of marriage so that these people may “express their beliefs and convictions without fear of intimidation, marginalization or unwarranted charges that their values imply hostility, animosity or hatred of others.” The letter was signed by 35 religious leaders from Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox Christian, Mormon and Islamic associations and churches. The recognition of same-sex civil partnerships and of “gay marriage,” especially when combined with strict anti-discrimination laws, have caused legal conflicts for religious individuals and organizations. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference, signed the letter. “We hope this letter serves as an encouragement to all of us, especially those dedicated to public service, to continue to promote both marriage and religious freedom as integral to a healthy and free society,” Archbishop Kurtz said. He said that marriage as a union of one man and one woman “provides the best context for the birth and rearing of children and should be specially protected by law.”
We pray to the Lord that God may hear the cry of the unborn threatened by abortion.