Vatican opens medical center for homeless

VATICAN CITY — Just before Christmas, the Vatican announced it had opened a new medical clinic for the homeless and the poor, expanding services previously offered in a small space just outside St. Peter’s Square. The Merciful Mother Clinic, which … Continue reading

Pope: Come to manger with love, charity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY — Jesus’ birth in a stable, God’s coming to earth in extreme simplicity, teaches Christians that love is more valuable than anything else and is what will change the world, Pope Francis said.

“In Bethlehem, we discover that the life of God can enter into our hearts and dwell there. If we welcome that gift, history changes, starting with each of us,” the pope said in his homily at Mass Dec. 24 in St. Peter’s Basilica. After the singing of the “Kalenda,” the ancient Christmas proclamation, and the ringing of the basilica’s bells, Pope Francis lifted a cloth revealing a statue of the baby Jesus, and he gently kissed it.

St. Peter’s Basilica was filled with a new light for the Christmas Mass. For the first time, the basilica’s new LED lighting was used — 700 light fixtures contain 100,000 LEDs and, according to the Vatican, will bring an energy savings of 90 percent.

In his homily, the pope noted how the Christmas story leads believers back to Bethlehem, which means “house of bread.”

“Tonight,” he said, “as we hear the summons to go up to Bethlehem, the house of bread, let us ask ourselves: What is the bread of my life, what is it that I cannot do without? Is it the Lord, or something else?” Continue reading

Nativity scenes bring joy to hardened hearts

“Vatican display brings manger scene “Into Our Present World”

VATICAN CITY — The Nativity scene in St. Peter’s Square is not getting rave reviews: The backdrop does not look like a stable and the characters in need — hungry, naked, dead, imprisoned — don’t exactly evoke a silent night when all was cozy, calm and bright. Franciscan Father John Puodziunas said he didn’t like it at first.

In addition to Mary and Joseph baby Jesus will appear only on Christmas — the scene includes figures of people who
illustrate the ongoing need for the corporal works of mercy, including feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, burying the dead, caring for the sick and visiting those in prison.

As Father Puodziunas, a friar from Philadelphia who is now general treasurer of the Order of Friars Minor, Continue reading

Advent is a time to identify sin, pope says

“Being watchful and alert are the prerequisites for not continuing ‘to wander far from the Lord’s path’” VATICAN CITY — Advent is a time to be watchful and alert to the ways one strays from God’s path, but also to … Continue reading