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

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