News

Bergamo bishop: In coronavirus, churches as mortuaries an 'act of tenderness'
Rome, Italy, Apr 3, 2020 / 10:01 am (CNA).- The bishop at the epicenter of Italy’s coronavirus outbreak has said churches are serving as makeshift mortuaries as there are so many dead bodies “you do not know where to put them anymore.” In an interview with CNA’s Italian-language partner agency ACI Stampa, Bishop Francesco Beschi of the Diocese of Bergamo said the use of churches “is an act of tenderness towards people who die alone and [whose] bodies are likely to remain piled up.” The presence of the bodies in the church “is a gift of respect and concern,” he added. The confirmed number of COVID-19 deaths across Italy as of April 2 was 13,915, according to Italian health officials. Of these, 2,060 deaths confirmed to be from the coronavirus occurred in the wider Bergamo province during the month of March. The bishop said deaths are “multiplying,” and while many people are dying in hospital, there are also many who die at home, and who are not registered in official coronavirus death counts.  According to an analysis from the Wall Street Journal April 1, the number of COVID-19 deaths in Italy is likely much higher than official counts show. Especially in the hardest-hit northern regions of the country, many people who have died outside the hospital were not tested for the coronavirus, especially large numbers of elderly living in nursing homes. According to the WSJ report, in the city of Bergamo in March 2020 there were 553 deaths overall, among these, 201 confirmed coronavirus deaths. By comparison, in March 2019 there were only 125 total deaths in Bergamo. “All of this is accompanied by very deep feelings,” Beschi noted. He said one of the priests of his diocese confided in him the difficulty of losing his father to the coronavirus while his family is separated and under quarantine: “there is no funeral, he will be taken to the cemetery and will be buried, without anyone being able to participate in this moment of human and Christian piety which is now so important because it is missing.” “Furthermore, when the patient is taken away from home with an ambulance and hospitalized among the infected or placed in intensive care, family members no longer see him, no longer hear from him, they cannot even speak to him by phone,” he added.  “The sorrow is immense.” Among the many victims of COVID-19 in Bergamo are priests, the bishop said, stating that at least 25 priests of his diocese have died from the virus since March 6. He said he finds it a comforting sign, however, that 60 priests with the coronavirus seem to be on the mend. The Bergamo diocese has more than 700 priests and Beschi said he is “in constant contact” with them through messages of support and paternal affection. “There is an inner force even wider and deeper than evil: this is the faith that is the sap in the roots of the people of Bergamo,” the bishop said, addressing Catholics and victims of the coronavirus. The faith, he said, “will be the firmness on which to rebuild families, on which to restart work, on which to force the lever to lift an economy crushed to the ground, on which to have the strength to heal emotional wounds, on which to lean to revisit a grief that has only been swallowed up, on which to stand to look toward the horizon and start again.” Offering a word of hope, Beschi said “these days extend shadows of death over our common life and our families and, at the same time, we cannot help but recognize the signs of spring.” “The resurrection is the flower that blooms and anticipates the joy of being able to taste its fruit one day. It is the bud that is blooming.” “To die like Christ and with Christ, in the events of our life, is to make the power of love dwell in our dead,” he stated. “We do not have the strength of the love of Christ but he confers it on us.” The bishop said Italy has been through many crises, and people always say “we must learn from mistakes, we must not repeat them.” He added that he does not have an answer for the many losses the families of his diocese are facing and will face after this pandemic. The two decisive elements, he said, are solidarity in sharing and the exercise of personal responsibility. “If we manage to grow, at least a fruit will have come from this terrible story.”
Vatican extends lockdown measures through Easter Monday
Vatican City, Apr 3, 2020 / 09:00 am (CNA).- The Holy See has extended its lockdown measures through April 13, the Monday of the Octave of Easter, in accordance with Italy’s recently extended national lockdown, the Vatican announced Friday. St. Peter’s Basilica and square, the Vatican Museums, and several other public offices in the Vatican City State have been closed for more than three weeks. Originally scheduled to last through April 3, these measures have now been extended an additional nine days. A total of seven confirmed cases of the coronavirus have been diagnosed among Vatican employees to date.  According to a statement from Matteo Bruni, the director of the Holy See press office, departments of the Roman Curia and of the Vatican City State have continued working only “in essential, obligatory activities which cannot be deferred.” The Vatican City State has its own legal order that is autonomous and separate from the Italian legal system, but the Holy See press office director has repeatedly said that Vatican City is implementing measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus in coordination with the Italian authorities. During the Vatican lockdown, which went into effect March 10, the city state’s pharmacy and supermarket remain open. Instead the mobile post office in St. Peter’s Square, the photo service office, and bookstores are closed. The Vatican continues “to ensure essential services to the Universal Church,” according to a March 24 statement.
Explainer: Why Cardinal Zen is criticising the WHO
Cardinal Joseph Zen, the emeritus bishop of Hong Kong, has raised questions about the independence of the World Health Organization after a senior WHO official refused to take questions on Taiwan’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. In a video interview last week with Hong Kong broadcaster RTHK, Bruce Aylward, the WHO’s lead advisor to China, declined to comment on Taiwan’s Covid-19 measures and its current lack of WHO member status. At one point, Dr Aylward even appeared to hang up on his interviewer, Yvonne Tong, in response to the line of questioning. When the reporter called Aylward back to allow him to speak about the situation in Taiwan, the Canadian epidemiologist praised public health efforts “across all the different areas of China” but made no mention of Taiwan. Taiwan wishes to be considered an independent sovereign state, a status rejected by the People’s Republic of China, which considers it a “renegade province” of China. Consequently, China has demanded that international organizations such as the UN and WHO dismiss Taiwan’s requests for membership, and it has withheld diplomatic relations from the 14 countries that still officially recognise Taiwan. Sino-Vatican relations have been centred exclusively in Taiwan ever since the Chinese Communist regime banished the Holy See’s diplomatic mission in 1951. The Holy See’s 2018 “provisional agreement” with the Chinese government has been interpreted as a potential “prelude” to a breaking of ties with Taiwan. Cardinal Zen has been a prominent critic of the Chinese government and its 2018 agreement with the Vatican. On Twitter, he criticised the WHO official for shying away from such questioning and said that it made trust in the organization impossible. Aylward, the so-called expert of the WHO, pathetically shy away from answering the question about Taiwan’s membership and performance, twice, by pretending not to hear the reporter and cutting the call. How possible we can trust WHO.https://t.co/m3SIemd4QB — Joseph Zen (@CardJosephZen) March 30, 2020 The controversy over the interview comes amid mounting criticism of the WHO’s relationship with China. The organization praised China’s “speed in identifying the virus and openness to sharing information”. However, Professor John Mackenzie, a WHO expert from Curtin University in Australia, branded the country’s early response as “reprehensible”. China’s efforts to build links with the current WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, through speaking invitations and increased WHO contributions, have caused concern amongst some health experts. This has coincided with the WHO’s renewed support for the “one-China principle”, which rejects Taiwanese independence, and a shift away from the critical stance toward China that the WHO has adopted in the past. In the 2002–2004 SARS outbreak, the then Director-General, Gro Harlem Brundtland, condemned China’s slow response and lack of transparency, and begged that the “next time something strange and new comes anywhere in the world let us come in as quickly as possible”. Even during the SARS epidemic, however, the WHO was criticised for having “shut out” Taiwan from its scientific investigations and, so, Taiwan was granted temporary observer status between 2008 and 2016 under the name “Chinese Taipei”. The current WHO leadership has offered no such invitation, which has limited Taiwan’s access to shared scientific data. The Taiwanese authorities have subsequently reiterated their criticisms of the WHO’s “unreasonable restrictions” on information sharing during the current Covid-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, Taiwan has itself received widespread scientific support for its current handling of the crisis, with just 339 recorded cases of the virus and 5 deaths to date as a result of the firm public health measures overseen by Vice-President Chen Chien-jen, a prominent Catholic epidemiologist. The World Health Organization issued a statement in response to the controversy, stating that they had been working with Taiwanese health experts to facilitate an effective response to the outbreak there and insisting that “Taiwanese membership in WHO is up to WHO Member States, not WHO.” The post Explainer: Why Cardinal Zen is criticising the WHO appeared first on Catholic Herald.
Jesus, livestreamed: Priests, bishops to offer 40 Hours Devotion via Facebook Live
When the plague struck the Italian city of Milan and the surrounding area in the 1570s, St Charles Borromeo, then a cardinal, became well-known for his efforts to remind people of their faith in a time of sickness and death. According to multiple accounts, St Charles would process the streets of his diocese barefooted, carrying a cross, as an act of penance. He also visited the sick with a relic of one of the nails of the Cross, and promoted the practice of 40 Hours Devotion, in which people take turns praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament for 40 straight hours. “St Charles Borromeo actually is one of the (clerics) who is often associated with the 40 hour devotion during the plague,” Fr Jonathan Meyer, a priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis in Indiana, told CNA. The history of this devotion is part of the reason Meyer and a group of priests and laypeople in the US are hosting a Virtual 40 Hours Devotion streamed on Facebook starting this Friday, just before the start of Holy Week. The devotion comes at a time when much of the world is experiencing another pandemic, and when most public Masses and other services are closed to slow its spread. The number of hours of devotion comes “from the 40 hours from our Lord being in the tomb from Good Friday to Easter Sunday morning,” Meyer explained. “So there’s 40 hours of darkness, of very few people believing. And we’re at a period of darkness in the Church,” he said. The number 40 frequently signifies a time of darkness in the bible – the 40 days of Jesus in the desert being tempted, the 40 years of the Jewish people wandering in the wilderness, the 40 days of rain Noah experienced on the ark. “But at the end of all of those, the story of hope.” Meyer said. “And so (we) gather around our Lord for 40 hours..to pray and petition and to be a people of hope. Our Lord is in the Blessed Sacrament, he is our hope. And so, God willing, our ability to gather with him and spend time with him as a Church will bring people hope.” The idea, Meyer said, originated on a Facebook group of priests who were sharing best practices of how to bring Christ to people during the time of the coronavirus pandemic. Once Meyer and a former classmate of his, Fr Thomas Szydlik, came up with the idea, they sent out emails to other priests and bishops, asking them to sign up and take an hour, during which they would livestream a holy hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament in their respective churches, during which they can preach or pray the rosary or offer other prayers. Meyer said he’s been struck by the eager response of so many priests. “I think it just shows a lot about the generosity of our priests,” Meyer said, “and how they want terribly for our people to gather around our Lord, and to pray in prayers of petition, prayers of reparation for what’s happening right now in our world.” Each hour will be posted to the Facebook page, Virtual 40 Hours. Meyer will kick off the Virtual 40 Hours with a live-streamed Mass starting at 6 p.m. Central on Friday, April 3. Joan Watson, who works as the Director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Nashville, was recruited by Szydlik and Meyer, friends of hers, to help with the project. Watson helped establish the Facebook page and to recruit more priests and bishops to take hours. Each priest will be streaming their hour on the 40 Hours Facebook page, Watson said, so “people don’t need to leave that page, which is going to be really nice. There’s no need to jump around. It’ll all happen on that page.” The devotion has even gone international. “We have a group from the Notre Dame Newman Center in Dublin that’s going to be doing some Taizé worship music. So I’m really excited for that,” Watson said. “Each hour might look a little different depending on the spirituality of the priest.” Watson said she hopes the 40 Hours is a time for Catholics to unite as a Church in prayer and focus on the prayers they can offer and the graces they can receive during this time. “I think rather than kind of dwelling on what we don’t have, this gives us an opportunity to unite our hearts…and really unite that yearning for the Blessed Sacrament, and turn that itself into a prayer,” she said. “I think there’s so much grace there. And learning how to pray as a Church – I think that’s one thing that maybe this time has given us an extra grace not to be divisive and not to find ourselves picking fights where there shouldn’t be fights, but rather really uniting with our Church and uniting across the country as a Catholic Church. I think it’s really beautiful to see what’s coming out of all this.” Kate Johnson, the sister of Fr Szydlik, was recruited to help with Virtual 40 Hours as one of the page “watchdogs”, who will be taking turns moderating the Facebook page to make sure the Blessed Sacrament is being respected and the livestreams are running smoothly. Johnson said she is grateful for the idea to do the Virtual 40 Hours because it focuses on what Catholics can do at this time even while public Masses and services are closed. “There’s so much you can do. And this is something that you can do…to help people that are hurting in one way or another, but also to beg the Lord’s mercy and grace upon our nation and upon the world” she said. Johnson, who lives in the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis, said she has been grateful to be able to attend adoration in her church with her mother, but that she misses receiving the Eucharist at Mass. She encouraged Catholics who feel that same hunger for the Eucharist to participate in the Virtual 40 Hours. “This is something you can do. It’s easy. You can get dressed up. You can come in your pajamas. If you’re an insomniac, you can do this in the middle of the night,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to hear some fantastic preaching…it’s an opportunity to experience the bigness of the Church, because this is a very old devotion, so we’re going back in time but we’re also spreading it out around the world. So, it’s an opportunity to pray with others who are as hungry and sad as we are, as I am.” There are at least four bishops who will be offering an hour of adoration in the Virtual 40 Hours, including Bishop Edward Rice of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau in Missouri, Bishop Andrew Cozzens, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler, and Bishop James Wall of Gallup, New Mexico. Wall told CNA that he will take the 8:00 a.m. Central hour on Sunday, and that he plans to preach for about half the time and have silent adoration for the rest of the time. “I’m going to preach on the Eucharist, and I’m going to preach on sacrifice, and the sacrifices that many people are invited to make right now, and how sacrifice is related to our baptismal call,” he said. “Because when we’re baptized, we’re made priest, prophet, and king. What does a priest do? A priest offers sacrifice. Obviously this is different from ordained priesthood, but we’re all called to offer sacrifice.” As a bishop during this time of pandemic, Wall said it has been a sacrifice for him to offer Mass without an assembly, and that not only as a bishop but also as an extrovert, he’s really missed interacting with his people. “It’s a little difficult, but again, it’s a sacrifice, and if we receive the sacrifice well, if we unite it to the sacrifice of Christ and the cross, we know that Christ will bring glory out of it. So I think the word that’s been just coming up to me over and over and over is ‘sacrifice’ and how we can imitate the sacrifice of Christ on the cross,” he said. Wall said when he was invited to join the Virtual 40 Hours by a friend, he was “really excited and grateful that they called me and asked me to participate in this endeavor. I’ve been thinking of ways that we could bring our Lord to people and I think this is a great way. We have to be creative, and I think this is one of the ways we’re being creative.” He encouraged Catholics to not let the opportunity for spending some time with the Lord, even virtually and during a pandemic, to pass them by. “Think about in the scriptures where Jesus is passing by and the cripple cries out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.’ And what a courageous thing he did by calling out to the Lord, not letting him pass by,” Wall said. “I think we, as we’re at home too…(let’s) not let this pass by. (Let’s) see Jesus and cry out to him, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.’ And we can do that from our homes as we watch our Lord and adore our Lord, virtually adore our Lord, in the Eucharist.” The post Jesus, livestreamed: Priests, bishops to offer 40 Hours Devotion via Facebook Live appeared first on Catholic Herald.
Pope Francis names new bishop of Belleville, Illinois
Vatican City, Apr 3, 2020 / 06:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Edward K. Braxton of Belleville, Illinois, and named his successor. Bishop Braxton submitted his resignation when he turned 75 in June 2019. His successor is Fr. Michael G. McGovern, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago.  Bishop Braxton was appointed as the eighth Bishop of Belleville in 2005, replacing Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, who is now Archbishop of Washington.  Bishop Braxton’s tenure at times has been marked by controversy. In 2008, he issued a public apology for spending restricted mission funds on liturgical vestments, altar linens, and office furniture. He said he had mistakenly believed he had discretionary power over the money he used. He has also been criticized over his handling of clerical abuse, but has defended his record.  Considered one of the leading voices in the United States Church on racial issues, the bishop has written many articles on African American Catholics, which have been translated and published abroad.  According to a biography on Belleville diocese’s website, his hobbies included whale watching, inline skating and white water rafting. Fr. McGovern, 55, has served as pastor of St. Raphael the Archangel parish in Old Mill Creek, Illinois, since 2016. In February this year, he was named interim episcopal vicar of Vicariate I of the Chicago archdiocese, which comprises 51 parishes.  According to a biography on the website of Vicariate I, he grew up in a large Catholic family in Chicago’s Beverly neighborhood. After graduating from St. Ignatius College Prep and Loyola University, he entered Mundelein seminary in 1990. He was ordained by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin in 1994. He has served as a member of the presbyteral council and college of consultors of the Chicago archdiocese.
Jesus, livestreamed: Priests, bishops to offer 40 Hours Devotion via Facebook Live 
Denver, Colo., Apr 3, 2020 / 04:33 am (CNA).- When the plague struck the Italian city of Milan and the surrounding area in the 1570s, St. Charles Borromeo, then a cardinal, became well-known for his efforts to remind people of their faith in a time of sickness and death. According to multiple accounts, St. Borromeo would process the streets of his diocese barefooted, carrying a cross, as an act of penance. He also visited the sick with a relic of one of the nails of the Cross, and promoted the practice of 40 Hours Devotion, in which people take turns praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament for 40 straight hours. “St. Charles Borromeo actually is one of the (clerics) who is often associated with the 40 hour devotion during the plague,” Fr. Jonathan Meyer, a priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis in Indiana, told CNA. The history of this devotion is part of the reason Meyer and a group of priests and laypeople in the U.S. are hosting a Virtual 40 Hours Devotion streamed on Facebook starting this Friday, just before the start of Holy Week. The devotion comes at a time when much of the world is experiencing another pandemic, and when most public Masses and other services are closed to slow its spread. The number of hours of devotion comes “from the 40 hours from our Lord being in the tomb from Good Friday to Easter Sunday morning,” Meyer explained. “So there's 40 hours of darkness, of very few people believing. And we're at a period of darkness in the Church,” he said. The number 40 frequently signifies a time of darkness in the bible - the 40 days of Jesus in the desert being tempted, the 40 years of the Jewish people wandering in the wilderness, the 40 days of rain Noah experienced on the ark. “But at the end of all of those, the story of hope.” Meyer said. “And so (we) gather around our Lord for 40 hours..to pray and petition and to be a people of hope. Our Lord is in the Blessed Sacrament, he is our hope. And so, God willing, our ability to gather with him and spend time with him as a Church will bring people hope.” The idea, Meyer said, originated on a Facebook group of priests who were sharing best practices of how to bring Christ to people during the time of the coronavirus pandemic. Once Meyer and a former classmate of his, Fr. Thomas Szydlik, came up with the idea, they sent out emails to other priests and bishops, asking them to sign up and take an hour, during which they would livestream a holy hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament in their respective churches, during which they can preach or pray the rosary or offer other prayers. Meyer said he’s been struck by the eager response of so many priests. “I think it just shows a lot about the generosity of our priests,” Meyer said, “and how they want terribly for our people to gather around our Lord, and to pray in prayers of petition, prayers of reparation for what's happening right now in our world.” Each hour will be posted to the Facebook page, Virtual 40 Hours. Meyer will kick off the Virtual 40 Hours with a live-streamed Mass starting at 6 p.m. Central on Friday, April 3. Joan Watson, who works as the Director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Nashville, was recruited by Szydlik and Meyer, friends of hers, to help with the project. Watson helped establish the Facebook page and to recruit more priests and bishops to take hours. Each priest will be streaming their hour on the 40 Hours Facebook page, Watson said, so “people don't need to leave that page, which is going to be really nice. There's no need to jump around. It'll all happen on that page.” The devotion has even gone international. “We have a group from the Notre Dame Newman Center in Dublin that's going to be doing some Taizé worship music. So I'm really excited for that,” Watson said. “Each hour might look a little different depending on the spirituality of the priest.” Watson said she hopes the 40 Hours is a time for Catholics to unite as a Church in prayer and focus on the prayers they can offer and the graces they can receive during this time. “I think rather than kind of dwelling on what we don't have, this gives us an opportunity to unite our hearts...and really unite that yearning for the Blessed Sacrament, and turn that itself into a prayer,” she said. “I think there's so much grace there. And learning how to pray as a Church - I think that's one thing that maybe this time has given us an extra grace not to be divisive and not to find ourselves picking fights where there shouldn't be fights, but rather really uniting with our Church and uniting across the country as a Catholic Church. I think it's really beautiful to see what's coming out of all this.” Kate Johnson, the sister of Fr. Szydlik, was recruited to help with Virtual 40 Hours as one of the page “watch dogs”, who will be taking turns moderating the Facebook page to make sure the Blessed Sacrament is being respected and the livestreams are running smoothly.  Johnson said she is grateful for the idea to do the Virtual 40 Hours because it focuses on what Catholics can do at this time even while public Masses and services are closed. “There's so much you can do. And this is something that you can do...to help people that are hurting in one way or another, but also to beg the Lord's mercy and grace upon our nation and upon the world” she said. Johnson, who lives in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, said she has been grateful to be able to attend adoration in her church with her mother, but that she misses receiving the Eucharist at Mass. She encouraged Catholics who feel that same hunger for the Eucharist to participate in the Virtual 40 Hours. “This is something you can do. It's easy. You can get dressed up. You can come in your pajamas. If you're an insomniac, you can do this in the middle of the night,” she said. “It's an opportunity to hear some fantastic preaching...it's an opportunity to experience the bigness of the Church, because this is a very old devotion, so we're going back in time but we're also spreading it out around the world. So, it's an opportunity to pray with others who are as hungry and sad as we are, as I am.” There are at least four bishops who will be offering an hour of adoration in the Virtual 40 Hours, including Bishop Edward Rice of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau in Missouri, Bishop Andrew Cozzens, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler, and Bishop James Wall of Gallup, New Mexico. Wall told CNA that he will take the 8:00 a.m. Central hour on Sunday, and that he plans to preach for about half the time and have silent adoration for the rest of the time. “I'm going to preach on the Eucharist, and I'm going to preach on sacrifice, and the sacrifices that many people are invited to make right now, and how sacrifice is related to our baptismal call,” he said. “Because when we're baptized, we're made priest, prophet, and king. What does a priest do? A priest offers sacrifice. Obviously this is different from ordained priesthood, but we're all called to offer sacrifice.” As a bishop during this time of pandemic, Wall said it has been a sacrifice for him to offer Mass without an assembly, and that not only as a bishop but also as an extrovert, he’s really missed interacting with his people. “It's a little difficult, but again, it's a sacrifice, and if we receive the sacrifice well, if we unite it to the sacrifice of Christ and the cross, we know that Christ will bring glory out of it. So I think the word that's been just coming up to me over and over and over is ‘sacrifice’ and how we can imitate the sacrifice of Christ on the cross,” he said. Wall said when he was invited to join the Virtual 40 Hours by a friend, he was “really excited and grateful that they called me and asked me to participate in this endeavor. I've been thinking of ways that we could bring our Lord to people and I think this is a great way. We have to be creative, and I think this is one of the ways we’re being creative.” He encouraged Catholics to not let the opportunity for spending some time with the Lord, even virtually and during a pandemic, to pass them by. “Think about in the scriptures where Jesus is passing by and the cripple cries out, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.’ And what a courageous thing he did by calling out to the Lord, not letting him pass by,” Wall said. “I think we, as we're at home too…(let’s) not let this pass by. (Let’s) see Jesus and cry out to him, ‘Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me.’ And we can do that from our homes as we watch our Lord and adore our Lord, virtually adore our Lord, in the Eucharist.”
Morning Catholic must-reads: 03/04/2020
Pope Francis has marked the 500th anniversary of the first Mass in Argentina. 11 million people watched last Friday’s extraordinary Urbi et Orbi on TV in Italy. Kathryn Jean Lopez remembers the day Pope John Paul II died. Sam Sorbo has tips for Catholic parents forced to homeschool due to the pandemic. Jeff Dahlberg lists some good Catholic books to read whilst you’re confined. And Deacon Pedro Guevara Mann “Deacon-structs” indulgences. The post Morning Catholic must-reads: 03/04/2020 appeared first on Catholic Herald.
Yoga With Mary Conway
3rd April, 2020 Join Mary Monday to Friday for 45 mins of yoga.  The class begins and ends with some breath work and meditation time.  The middle part of the class offers postures to maintain mobility in joints, strengthening of the body and encouraging balance.  All the postures are done from either a sitting position or standing, the only equipment needed is an ordinary straight backed chair. All Mary’s previous classes will be available under the Resources section.
Faith podcasts to offer reflections for Holy Week
Faithcast, the weekly faith podcast from the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, is launching a special Holy Week. The Faithcasts will focus on how we can live Holy Week as people of faith in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. Faithcast is a mixture of interviews, news and stories of faith from the Catholic Church in Ireland. The podcast, which is usually published weekly, will now have a daily episode from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. Contributors to the Holy Week reflection series are: Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Dromore and Primate of All Ireland Bishop Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin Bishop Fintan Monahan, Bishop of Killaloe Caoimhe de Barra, CEO of Trócaire Brother Richard Hendrick Ofm Cap Father Vincent Sherlock of Achonry Diocese Brenda Drumm, Catholic Communications Office Ger Gallagher, Archdiocese of Dublin Contributors to the series will reflect on the meaning and symbolism of each of the days of Holy Week, beginning with a reflection from Brother Richard Hendrick on Palm Sunday and taking us through the week, concluding on Easter Sunday with a message from Archbishop Eamon Martin. Commenting on the Faithcasts, Archbishop Eamon said, “As we prepare to celebrate Holy Week at home this year, we are offering people a chance to hear from different voices of faith. These daily reflections from bishops, priests and lay people will hopefully offer listeners a pause for thought from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday. “I invite people to tune in to our Holy Week reflections. There are many people feeling alone and isolated at the moment and we hope that our short pieces of audio can assist people in living Holy Week in their homes. “This podcast series is just one of a number of digital opportunities that we have been offering to people during these days. I would like to thank all those priests and people putting out into the deep of the net at this time and connecting with their parishioners on the digital highways.” The podcasts, which have all been recorded by the contributors in their own homes on mobile phones, will be available on www.catholicbishops.ie and on all Bishops’ Conference social media platforms: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/IrishCatholicBishops/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/CatholicBishops Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/catholicbishops/ You can also subscribe to the podcast at this link https://audioboom.com/dashboard/4929766  ENDS
Thought For The Day – April 3rd
Thought for the day for April 3rd
Catholic University makes vaccine work free for coronavirus research
Washington D.C., Apr 2, 2020 / 11:55 pm (CNA).- An expert research professor on vaccines at the Catholic University of America is working with the university to make his patents available royalty-free to help fight the coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Venigalla Rao is a biology professor at the Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C., and the director of the university’s Center for Advanced Training in Cell and Molecular Biology.  Roa explained in an interview with CNA Thursday that he and the university wanted to aid the global effort to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus. “We felt that we can contribute, coming from a different angle, to design vaccine candidates against the novel coronavirus,” he said. For more than 40 years Roa has studied viruses and how they can be used to develop vaccines. He is currently researching the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and working to conduct possible vaccine tests on animal models. Watching the new coronavirus initially spread in China, Rao saw how hard it was to contain and predicted it would become a global problem. He went to administrators at Catholic University to devise a plan to help the international research effort to create a vaccine. Rao’s research on bacteriophage T4, a benign virus that infects bacteria, helped produce a platform with which to develop vaccines for diseases such as cancer and HIV. In 2018, he published a paper on a dual vaccine he developed “to protect against simultaneous anthrax and plague infections,” and his work was published and profiled in a number of outlets including Newsweek. What makes his platform unique, he said, is that “we can engineer the ability to incorporate multiple components” for “more effective immune responses.” Most coronavirus vaccines focus on only one component, he said, which may not be sufficient for full immune protection. After Rao approached the university’s administration, the provost and other administrators came up with the initiative to release Rao’s technology patents to deliver vaccines. On March 23, Catholic University announced it would be offering royalty-free licenses on patents for Rao’s work on the bacteriophage T4 virus platform and vaccine delivery systems. Eligible recipients can either make use of Rao’s vaccine candidates or use their own technology in combination with his platform. The decision “was made in keeping with the tradition and expectations of the Catholic Church to provide the compassion of Christ to those in need,” the university’s vice provost for research Ralph Albano said in a statement. Rao’s work has included the mechanisms of DNA packaging, anthrax and plague vaccine, and CRISPR genome editing. However, he has focused in particular on researching bacteriophage T4, working in collaboration with other universities including Purdue University, the University of California-San Diego, and the University of Illinois Urbanna-Champagne. Through studying the mechanisms of the bacteriophage T4 virus, and incorporating proteins and DNAs from pathogenic organisms, Rao said he can assemble a virus—a “platform technology that could be adapted for a variety of biomedical applications,” he said, including vaccines and gene therapies. This platform, he says, can be used as a boost for other researchers more familiar with coronaviruses to speed vaccine development. Rao said that although he had already sent a funding request to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for work in developing a coronavirus vaccine, “but we can’t wait for that, we just jumped into the efforts to do whatever-- the best we could.” The process of discovering, designing, and developing a vaccine is an “arduous process” and the best-case scenario for a COVID-19 vaccine will be around 18 months, he said. Nevertheless, “we need to do the groundwork” now, he said, as discoveries made now can also impact health care in the future when other pandemics might emerge. “I think what we are doing also is not only for this COVID-19 virus, but also what we learn from this, from which we can optimize, fine-tune these technologies and be better prepared for future emerging pathogens,” he said.
Apr. 3 Friday of the Fifth Week of Lent, Weekday
"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life (Jn 8:12)." Like the forty days' fast of the Ninevites, our Lent continues in complete confidence in divine mercy; but our hope is founded not so much on our poor efforts at penance but on the passion of our Savior. No one is excluded from the redemption effected by the Blood of Christ; His grace is promised to all who believe in Him.
What does a traveling evangelist do during the coronavirus lockdown?
Denver, Colo., Apr 2, 2020 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- What does a traveling evangelist do when a global pandemic keeps him at home? He goes online! One Catholic evangelist said that lessons he’s learning about online evangelization during the coronavirus pandemic could make some Catholic ministries far more effective than they once were. Chris Stefanick, who hosts EWTN’s “Real Life Catholic,” also travels the country, speaking to more than 80,000 people each year. His travels are the way he spreads the Word of God, and the way he makes a living. Stefanick told CNA that preaching during the pandemic has meant a slew of personal and practical challenges. But he said those challenges could compel the Church to develop and refine effective use of technology for evangelization. “This is not a time for the Church to slow down its ministry. It's time to aggressively pivot and quickly pivot. This hasn’t changed what we do at that core,” Stefanick said. In the past, even the recent past, Stefanick said, his evangelization work has focused mostly on events at which he speaks about how the Gospel, and the Church, have transformed his life and the lives of others. His ministry has “able to leverage my gift for speaking with 40 parishes a year and that makes an impact,” he said. But those events, however effective they are, have impact limited by attendance. “Taking that same thing and doing it digitally,” Stefanick explained, broadens the reach of his ministry. “If this succeeds, we can work with hundreds and hundreds of parishes. Whereas the events were limited by how many places I can get to.” The pandemic will “make us more effective because this will strengthen the whole digital component of our ministry. So instead of being 75% about events, 25% digital, now it's 100% digital. By the time we are out of this, we [will] strengthen that component,” he said. Stefanick pointed to “I AM,” a virtual coaching program that was released by his ministry, Real Life Catholic, on Ash Wednesday. He said the initiative aims to help users replace negative self-thoughts with positive reflections on the Word of God. Drawing from struggles in his own life, he said, “I AM” is a program that is relevant to everyone, even non-Catholics. “We have a 30-day coaching program and it’s [one] of the most effective ministr[ies] we've ever done, based on the responses of people [and] how it's hitting their hearts. It's a program about helping people rewire how they talk to themselves and replace self-talk with the uplifting Word of God,” he said. “I've been with the Lord for a long time and I wrote some of this out of personal experience of the things that I struggle with negative self-talk.” The coronavirus lockdown has changed Stefanick’s daily work schedule and brought about some own personal concerns, including worries about finances and the fragility of society. He said, though, it is also a blessing to spend so much time with family.  “I can perceive the good for me in that I haven't been home this much in 10 years and it's the Sabbath that's made me relook at life. We'll never get this chance again. God willing. We will never get the chance again to pause on so many of our activities,” he said. “So it led to a lot of reflection, self-correction, repentance, prayer, silence and family time. Doing things like taking walks with kids, things I never did before that I regret not having done. Very simple things that you lose track of when life is going 300 miles an hour.” Stefanick said the pandemic is also an opportunity to trust in the Lord. “It also forces a real look, not theoretical, but a very real [look] at life and death,” he said. “We're delusional in the Western world. We forget … how fragile the whole system is that insulates us from our need, from death, from everything,” Stefanick said. “I found myself in moments of fear when going to the grocery store and seeing everything [going] totally nuts, “ he said. “[It’s ] forced me to come back to, ‘Lord, you are really my provider and whatever happens to me, your only motive is love.’ And that's where my peace comes from. Not [from] having enough to pay bills and enough stuff out there to get what I need.” Stefanick said the pandemic requires a different kind of courage than many people might have expected, adding that members of the Church are all called to a sort of monastic lifestyle at the moment. He said it would be potentially hazardous for people to break the quarantine, and should focus on an important work of mercy - prayer. He pointed to a challenge from Pope Francis, who has offered a plenary indulgence to people suffering from COVID-19 and their caretakers, including healthcare workers, along with their benefactors in prayer. The pandemic will lead to more death in the upcoming weeks and those in the hospitals need to know that prayers are being offered for them, Stefanick said.. “What's being asked of us during this time is withdrawal, silence, and the life of a Carthusian monk …  not the life of an evangelist missionary. So that's a different kind of heroism and it's no less difficult. Frankly. I think it would be easier for me if I knew I could go out and help people and risk my life going to Mass,” he said. “We really have to pray for the world right now … We should be praying a lot for people who are facing death. It's going to be a lot of bad news in the month ahead. A lot of people are gonna lose their lives and they need prayers.”
Statue of Christ carrying the cross will process Holy Wednesday in Caracas
CNA Staff, Apr 2, 2020 / 02:50 pm (CNA).- The statue of the Nazarene of Saint Paul will be processed April 8 through the streets of Caracas to help the faithful observe Holy Week. It will be atop a popemobile used by St. John Paul II when he visited the country in 1985. According to local tradition, the striking image was brought to Caracas from Seville in 1674. The wooden sculpture depicts Christ dressed in an ornately embroidered purple robe carrying his cross. According to accounts, the image was processed in the city with prayers during a plague that broke out in Caracas in 1696, and the devotional act was credited with ending the pestilence. The image was originally kept in a church dedicated to Saint Paul the Hermit, whose intercession was attributed to ending a plague in 1579. The wooden sculpture is now reserved in Saint Teresa Basilica, as Saint Paul’s church was demolished and replaced with a municipal theater by an anticlerical president in 1881. The procession is held annually on Holy Wednesday. Cardinal Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo, Archbishop of Merida and apostolic administrator of Caracas, said the “route will cover a great part of the city for veneration by its devotees,” and asked for understanding as the route itself has not yet been finalized and will be announced later. According to local media, the prelate said in a letter that the image should be transported in accordance with safety and hygiene regulations to avoid spreading the coronavirus. Porras said that the image should not be carried by people but transported by vehicle only and there should be another vehicle for a priest and assistant along with sound equipment for the prayers. The archdiocese said that parishes can join the initiative and organize such a procession in their own areas as long as they observe the proper health precautions. Finally, the archdiocese asked the faithful devotees of the Nazarene of Saint Paul to offer their prayers from their homes and to wait for the end of the coronavirus lockdown to visit the image in Saint Teresa Basilica.
Australian High Court to announce decision on Cardinal Pell’s appeal next week
Australian Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic cleric convicted of child sexual abuse charges, will learn the fate of his final appeal to the country’s High Court on April 7. The decision will be announced less than a month after a two-day hearing by the seven-judge court, led by Chief Justice Susan Kiefel, in the Australian capital, Canberra. The court has three relatively clear options: turn down the appeal; uphold the appeal and set Cardinal Pell free; or send the case back to the Victorian Court of Appeals. which upheld a December 2018 unanimous conviction by a 12-person jury in the state’s County Court. The cardinal was convicted of the 1996 sexual assault of two choirboys. If the appeal is denied, Cardinal Pell will stay in near-solitary confinement for at least 31 months, when he could be released after the no-parole period of his six-year prison term. It is a quick decision historically for the High Court of Australia, which has traditionally taken many months to decide cases. But Australian lawyers who spoke to Catholic News Service on the condition of anonymity said that under Kiefel, the court had been quicker to make decisions. “It is not unusual for the High Court to come to a decision in a month these days,” the lawyer said. The announcement of the decision date came in the same week that another allegation against Cardinal Pell concerning child sexual abuse resurfaced in a series on abuse in the Catholic Church aired on the Australian Broadcasting Corp., the public broadcaster. Prosecutors dropped one set of potential charges against the cardinal and are said to have halted other investigations once he was convicted, but they have the option of restarting the cases. The cardinal also could face civil suits, lawyers for complainants have told Australian media. An inquiry by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith has been on hold while Australia’s legal system runs its course. The post Australian High Court to announce decision on Cardinal Pell’s appeal next week appeared first on Catholic Herald.
Philippines parish cancels planned ‘online general absolution’
A parish in the Philippines has cancelled an “online general absolution.” Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Parish in Quezon City, Philippines had advertised the event would be available by live-stream, and was set to take place on April 3. On Thursday, the parish issued a retraction and an apology. “Fr Nelson wants to correct himself. General absolution cannot be given via online,” said a statement issued by the parish. “The penitent must be physically present — meaning, the priest who absolves and the penitent who receives the absolution must be in the same place,” the statement clarified. According to the Vatican’s Apostolic Penitentiary, which has authority over the sacrament of confession and matters falling under the sacramental seal, general absolution without prior individual confession may only be imparted where the imminent danger of death occurs, when there is not enough time to listen to the confessions of individual penitents, or there is a serious need. Amid the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) and many dioceses worldwide suspending Masses and confessions, the Vatican has clarified that if a general absolution is done, it must be approved by the bishop, and it must be done in person. Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, clarified on March 19 that priests giving general absolution in particular cases must explain the conditions of general absolution, and also must be physically present to those receiving it, at least to the point of penitents being able to hear the priest’s voice. Father Pius Pietrzyk, OP, chair of pastoral studies at St Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, California, told CNA on Thursday that the sacraments must be an encounter between the priest and the person receiving the sacrament. In the same way that a penitent could not confess their sins to a priest over the telephone— which would remove the person-to-person encounter of the sacrament— offering general absolution online removes the unity between the priest and the penitents, and therefore is not valid, he said. “This kind of virtual presentation of the sacrament is not what the Church understands a sacrament to be,” he said. “They need to understand that what they are doing is not a sacrament.” In addition, the law is abundantly clear, he said, that if general absolution is given, the bishop must give the parameters. Parishes must get permission from the bishop to offer general absolution, he said. A parish employee at Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Parish was unable to confirm whether the cancellation of the planned online general absolution was the result of an intervention on the part of the bishop. Another Philippines parish, Our Lady of Sorrows in the Diocese of Tarlac is, as of press time, going ahead with a live-streamed general absolution for its viewers “with the explicit permission of the Bishop of Tarlac.” The Diocese of Tarlac and Bishop Enrique Macaraeg did not reply to CNA’s request for comment by press time. Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, Archbishop of Jakarta, reportedly led an online general absolution on Monday. The post Philippines parish cancels planned ‘online general absolution’ appeared first on Catholic Herald.