Pope calls for a “contagion” of Easter hope

MILLIONS FOLLOW EASTER PRAYERS ON TELEVISION, RADIO, INTERNET

VATICAN CITY — In an Easter celebration like no other, Pope Francis prayed that Christ, “who has already defeated death and opened for us the way to eternal salvation,” would “dispel the darkness of our suffering humanity and lead us into the light of his glorious day, a day that knows no end.”

The pope’s traditional Easter message before his blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) still mentioned countries yearning for peace, migrants and refugees in need of a welcoming home and the poor deserving of assistance. But his Easter prayers April 12 were mostly in the context of the suffering and death caused by the coronavirus and the economic difficulties the pandemic already has triggered.

The pope’s Easter morning Mass was unique; missing were dozens of cardinals concelebrating and tens of thousands of pilgrims from around the world packing St. Peter’s Square. Instead one cardinal — Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica — and a dozen faithful sat inside, one in each pew, before the Altar of the Chair where the pope celebrated the liturgy.

Also missing were the more than 50,000 tulips, daffodils and flowering shrubs that growers in the Netherlands donate each year to turn into a garden the steps leading up to the basilica. Continue reading

Pope makes mini-pilgrimage outside Vatican to pray for end of pandemic

ROME — With Italy on lockdown and Rome streets almost deserted, Pope Francis left the Vatican March 15 in a mini-pilgrimage to an icon and to a crucifix associated with miraculous interventions to save the city and its people.

The icon is “Salus Populi Romani” (health of the Roman people) in the Basilica of St. Mary Major and the crucifix, which Romans call the “Miraculous Crucifix,” is housed in the Church of St. Marcellus on Via del Corso, a usually crowded street of shops leading to the central Piazza Venezia. Continue reading

Audience with Pope Francis

VATICAN CITY — In January, when Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, published a book supporting mandatory priestly celibacy — a book, which included an essay by retired Pope Benedict XVI – it was “painful,” said Bishop John M. Botean of the Ohio-based Romanian Catholic Eparchy of St George.
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Christmas says, “You are loved”

Pope Francis celebrates Jesus’ birth in Dec. 24 homily. VATICAN CITY — Christmas night tells each person, no matter how poor or sinful, that they are utterly and totally loved by God, Pope Francis said as he celebrated Jesus’ birth. … Continue reading

Go to confession, let yourself be consoled

VATICAN CITY — Anyone who wants to experience the consolation and tenderness of God simply needs to go to confession, Pope Francis said at his morning Mass. Celebrating the liturgy Dec. 10 in the chapel of his residence, Pope Francis … Continue reading

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