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ACI Prensa's latest initiative is the Catholic News Agency (CNA), aimed at serving the English-speaking Catholic audience. ACI Prensa ( is currently the largest provider of Catholic news in Spanish and Portuguese.
  1. Al Kresta / EWTN

    CNA Newsroom, Jun 15, 2024 / 14:35 pm (CNA).

    Al Kresta, a longtime Catholic radio host, author, and founder and president of Ave Maria Radio, died Saturday at his Michigan home after a battle with liver cancer. He was 73. 

    A former Evangelical Protestant who rose to prominence as a radio host before his conversion to Catholicism in 1992, Kresta’s voice was heard on hundreds of radio stations daily, including EWTN Catholic Radio, via Ave Maria’s flagship program, “Kresta in the Afternoon.” 

    According to a webpage set up by Kresta’s family to provide updates, Kresta was admitted to the University of Michigan Hospital on April 29 “after a month of tests,” which culminated in a liver cancer diagnosis on May 3. 

    Born in 1951 in New England and raised Catholic, Kresta’s road back to the faith of his baptism was winding. Despite his upbringing, he described himself as a “stereotypical 1960s kid” who as a young man leaned into the worldly desires of “drugs, sex, and rock n’ roll.” The Catholic Church “didn’t hold much appeal to me,” he told EWTN’s “The Journey Home” in 2004. 

    “I was a musician and I wanted to pursue my music and a hedonistic, self-centered lifestyle,” he told the National Catholic Register in a 2000 interview. 

    “In 1969 I left home and became homeless by choice. I lived on the street, slept in vacant apartments, stayed on the beach in the Florida Keys and bummed off of friends. After some hallucinogenic LSD experiences, I hitchhiked along the eastern seaboard looking for someone who could help me make sense of my hallucinations. I ended up in a New Age group.”

    Later, though, through “a series of remarkable, providential occurrences,” Kresta said he became convinced that the New Age movement’s depiction of Jesus as a hippy guru was not correct. In 1974, as a student at Michigan State University, he embraced Evangelical Protestantism, in large part thanks to the writings of C.S. Lewis. He leaned into his newfound faith, eventually opening a Christian bookstore and even pastoring a nondenominational church for five years. 

    As a pastor, Kresta said he was sometimes tripped up by the fact that there were authoritative questions he had to answer about the Christian faith, and that he realized that "the Bible alone couldn't settle these matters."

    "I had no authority,” he admitted in a later, 2007 “Journey Home” interview.

    In the early 1990s, Kresta hosted a Catholic priest on his Evangelical-focused radio program as part of an episode dedicated to “Catholic answers to Catholic questions.” Kresta said he was so moved by the priest’s answers that it hit him like a ton of bricks: "My God, I'm a Catholic.” In 1992, he repented and returned to his Catholic faith; his entire family converted at the same time. 

    Kresta would later say that the "intellectual integrity of the Catholic faith is unlike anything in Protestantism.”

    "The Catholic faith has never disappointed me when it comes to my use of reason or intellectual coherence," he said. 

    Colleagues remember Kresta as ‘deeply thoughtful' and ‘courageous’

    EWTN President and Chief Operating Officer Doug Keck on Saturday said that Kresta’s passing was “a titanic loss not only for EWTN and Ave Maria Catholic Radio but for the entire Church." 

    “As his show intro said, he always had the Bible in one hand and a copy of the New York Times in another,” Keck said. 

    “He was fearless in his willingness to take on tough issues both inside and outside the Church!” he continued. “But always with a wisdom-driven, balanced approach designed to meet the listeners where they are but never leave them there,” 

    “He was an inspiring figure who overcame incredible physical roadblocks to serve his God, his family and his Church.”

    Teresa Tomeo, the host of the radio show Catholic Connection, said she would “always remember meeting [Al] long before I started in Catholic radio.”  

    “I was so impressed with his knowledge of Scripture and the faith as well as his early and courageous pro life work,” she told CNA. “We lost a warrior on so many fronts. These are tough times but we continue the work in his honor and memory. “

    Scott Hahn, meanwhile—a renowned biblical scholar, author, convert, and founder of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology—called Kresta “one of the most deeply thoughtful and thoroughly converted men I’ve had the privilege of knowing — and calling a good friend.” 

    “He will be greatly missed by many,” Hahn said. “Requiescat in pace.”

    Matthew Bunson, vice president and editorial director of EWTN News, told CNA on Saturday: "Aside from his goodness, his greatness as a father, husband and friend, his passing will be a massive loss to the Catholic cause.” 

    “He was one of the keenest observers in the Church of contemporary culture and the ecclesiastical landscape,” Bunson said. “We are intellectually poorer for his passing but even more we have lost a truly prayerful, gentle, and faithful disciple of Christ.”  

    Rob Corzine, the vice president of academic programs at the St. Paul Center, told CNA that he first became acquainted with Kresta through the radio host's “bridge group.”

    “It was a room filled with about equal numbers of Protestants and Catholics who wanted to hear him explain basic Catholic doctrines once a week throughout Lent,” Corzine said.

    "Al had the gift of hearing your real question, however poorly you put it or even understood it yourself, and answering that.”

    At the time of meeting Kresta, Corzine was “an Evangelical who had been reading my way toward the Church for the last few years.” Shortly after, Corzine was coming into full communion with the Church; in several more months Kresta was showing him the ropes of Catholic radio.

    “Al is one of the many people to whom I owe an incalculable debt of gratitude,” Corzine said. “And I am only one of the thousands of whom that is true.”

    Helped launch Ave Maria Communications 

    In 1997, Tom Monaghan — the founder of Domino’s Pizza, and also Ave Maria University in Florida — called Kresta and asked if he wanted to move to Ann Arbor to help create Ave Maria Communications. Monaghan “funded the media enterprise for years,” Kresta said in a 2013 Catholic World Report (CWR) interview. Ave Maria later became a major affiliate of EWTN (which also owns Catholic News Agency).

    “There’s absolutely no doubt that Catholic radio’s principal mission has been catechesis,” Kresta told CWR.

    “I think in the next generation of Catholic radio that’s going to become increasingly clear. Because the last generation was spent defending the faith and defending papal infallibility…We’ll continue to defend magisterial teaching, but I think we now have to help people distinguish [between what] we owe religious assent and what are prudential judgments.” 

    In 2003, Kresta suffered with and survived a serious bout of necrotizing fasciitis, a rare bacterial infection. It resulted in the loss of one leg, necessitating the use of a wheelchair.

    Kresta said a year or so after the illness, on “The Journey Home,” that the experience helped him to learn that even in the midst of terrible suffering, "you can think on the cross of Jesus, and you can offer up that suffering."

    His Catholic faith helped him, he said, to "enter more deeply into a sense of Christ's sufferings…through being buffeted by pain, your sense of self is firmed up and strengthened, moment by moment there's a stronger sense of who I am before God...Christ living in me."

    "The Catholic Church's teaching on suffering got me through arguably what was the most severe crisis I've had in my was my leg, or my life. So, it was my leg. Which was a very easy decision all things considered,” he laughed. 

    Kresta is survived by his wife of nearly five decades, Sally, as well as his five children.

  2. null / Credit: maxim ibragimov/Shutterstock

    CNA Staff, Jun 15, 2024 / 13:30 pm (CNA).

    Every Father’s Day, we recognize and give thanks for the fathers in our lives. It’s a day to honor all men who love and sacrifice for others and to remember the love each of us receives from God the Father. Whether you’re writing out a Father’s Day card or pondering the great vocation of being a father, here are 10 quotes from Catholic figures and writings about fatherhood:

    Pope Francis:

    “Every family needs a father — a father who shares in his family’s joy and pain, hands down wisdom to his children, and offers them firm guidance and love.” 

    St. John Paul II:

    “In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God, a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family.”

    Pope Benedict XVI:

    “God is a father who never abandons his children, a loving father who supports, helps, welcomes, forgives, saves, with a fidelity that immensely surpasses that of men, opening up to an eternal dimension.”

    Pope Francis:

    “A good father knows how to wait and knows how to forgive from the depths of his heart. Certainly, he also knows how to correct with firmness: He is not a weak father, submissive and sentimental. The father who knows how to correct without humiliating is the one who knows how to protect without sparing himself.”

    G.K. Chesterton:

    “God chooses ordinary men for fatherhood to accomplish his extraordinary plan.”

    Father Lawrence Lovasik: 

    “Fatherhood is a vocation in God’s service to be not held lightly or frivolously, but with the serious determination of serious men.”

    Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2214:

    “The divine fatherhood is the source of human fatherhood; this is the foundation of the honor owed to parents.”

    St. John Paul II:

    “Love for his wife as mother of their children and love for the children themselves are for the man the natural way of understanding and fulfilling his own fatherhood.”

    St. Vincent de Paul:

    “A man of prayer is capable of everything.” 

    Servant of God Father John Hardon:

    “St. Joseph is the divinely revealed model of human fatherhood.”

  3. Calle de Bailén Almudena Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Madrid. / Credit: Wikimedia Commons

    Madrid, Spain, Jun 15, 2024 / 08:00 am (CNA).

    Father Jesús Silva of the Archdiocese of Madrid explained in a video posted on his YouTube channel the reason why the schismatic Poor Clares of the Belorado Monastery are experiencing “paranoia” according to their own thesis by which the religious vows they took would not even be valid.

    The Spanish nuns announced May 13 that their community “is leaving the conciliar Church to which it belonged to become part of the Catholic Church.” They complained that in recent years “contradictions, double and confusing language, ambiguity, and loopholes in clear doctrine have been coming from the chair of Peter.” These Poor Clares also claimed that “H.H. Pius XII was the last valid supreme pontiff,” thus leaving the papal office vacant since then.

    According to an analysis Silva made of the Catholic Manifesto the nuns made public a month ago, the sisters, who risk looming excommunication for schism, are in a situation that, according to their own reasoning, “everything they themselves have done is invalid, because since they have been nuns under Vatican II, they are not real nuns.”

    Ten of the 16 nuns who comprise the Poor Clares community of Belorado and Orduña in Spain have adhered to the referenced manifesto. Of the other six, one of them left the community “in order to not belong to this sect” and five elderly nuns have not spoken.

    Silva pointed out that the nuns would have to repeat all the sacraments they received after Vatican II using the formulas and rituals of the pre-Vatican II Roman rite conferred by a priest ordained under that rite and they even “have to repeat their vows, because according to them their own vows are invalid.” 

    According to the Madrid priest, “they have fallen into this paranoia in which at this point they have placed themselves outside the Catholic Church and, finally, according to them, they have found the truth” under the protection of the excommunicated bishop Pablo de Rojas.

    Rebuttal of three points

    Silva analyzed three of the postulates of the sedevacantist and schismatic manifesto: that the Catholic Church is the only true church, the sacrificial dimension of the Eucharist, and changes made to the rite of ordination for priests and bishops.

    Regarding the first question, Silva explained that unity “is already achieved in the true Catholic Church,” which doesn’t mean there’s no work to be done “so that this unity becomes broader” so that “the rest of the Christian communities that are not Catholic would join the Catholic Church. That’s called ecumenism.”

    The priest refuted the nuns’ allegation that the Second Vatican Council denied the sacrificial character of the Eucharist.

    “It’s true that the Church has changed, because it has that power to adapt the formulas, the forms, the language of the liturgical books to the more current mentality of the present. But she has not changed the essence. The Church has the power to change [those things], because the Church has been established by Christ to safeguard the faith and the sacraments. And of course the sacrificial dimension of the Eucharist is maintained, as can be perfectly seen in the Eucharistic prayers that speak of the Eucharist as a victim of propitiation for the sins of the entire world,” the priest pointed out.

    Silva added that “the Church has the power to reform the liturgical books and to change the rites for the ordination of priests, deacons, and bishops. And therefore, this reform made by John XXIII, Paul VI, the Second Vatican Council, is perfectly valid. Since they were not heretics, they did not incur in excommunication.”

    Confusion in doctrinal matters

    The priest of the Archdiocese of Madrid explained that a possible remote origin of the schismatic positions of the Poor Clares of Belorado can be found in that “there have been many doctrinal issues lately, quite confusing, that have made many people say: ‘Listen, you have to be a little more critical sometimes of the things that are said or how they are said, because they are not expressed well and maybe you have to qualify things.’”

    However, Silva emphasized, “going from there, to deny the unity of the Church and to leave it, is a very major step.”

    The priest of the Archdiocese of Madrid took the opportunity in his video to remind his viewers that “we must pray a lot for them so that they reconsider” that “the true Catholic Church is that of Christ, which is in communion with the Holy Father in the Vatican, who is currently Pope Francis, and that what has changed in its structure and in its documents is perfectly licit and perfectly valid.”

    This storywas first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

  4. The beatification Mass of Father Michał Rapacz at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Krakow-Łagiewniki, Poland, on Saturday, June 15, 2024 / Episkopat News

    Krakow, Poland, Jun 15, 2024 / 07:35 am (CNA).

    A 20th-century Polish Catholic priest killed by communist authorities was beatified on Saturday at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Krakow-Łagiewniki, Poland.

    Pope Francis recognized the martyrdom of Father Michał Rapacz in January. The 41-year-old priest was shot twice by communist authorities on the night of May 10-11, 1946, after being taken from his village parish in the south of Poland to a nearby woods.

    A memorial graces the spot where Father Michał Rapacz was killed by communist authorities in Płoki, Poland, on the night of May 10-11, 1946. Metropolitan Archdiocese of Kraków
    A memorial graces the spot where Father Michał Rapacz was killed by communist authorities in Płoki, Poland, on the night of May 10-11, 1946. Metropolitan Archdiocese of Kraków

    “From the celebration of the Mass and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, [Rapacz] drew inner strength and energy, capable of transforming life and the world, everyday life and history,” Cardinal Marcello Semeraro said in his homily at the beatification Mass June 15.

    Cardinal Marcello Semeraro at the beatification Mass of Father Michał Rapacz at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Krakow-Łagiewniki, Poland, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. Episkopat News
    Cardinal Marcello Semeraro at the beatification Mass of Father Michał Rapacz at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Krakow-Łagiewniki, Poland, on Saturday, June 15, 2024. Episkopat News

    Semeraro, prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, traveled from Rome to celebrate the beatification in Krakow. He pronounced the formula of beatification before a packed shrine of around 1,800 people, including Rapacz's great-great niece and nephew, Karolina Basista and Michał Pietrzak.

    The Mass also marked the end of a Eucharistic congress in the Archdiocese of Krakow. 

    According to Semeraro, for the new blessed, “spreading love for Christ present in the consecrated Bread was the only effective remedy against atheism, materialism and all those worldviews that threaten human dignity.”

    From the Eucharist, the cardinal added, Father Rapacz drew a love that “does not remain paralyzed in the face of hatred, violence and everything that causes fear.”

    Rapacz was recognized as a martyr, according to the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, because of his refusal to leave his parish or to abandon his pastoral ministry, despite a ban on the celebration of Catholic liturgies and activities under the occupations of Poland by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

    During one of his homilies, the priest, who was being harassed by communist authorities for his zealous service to parishioners, said: “Though I should fall dead, I will not stop preaching this Gospel and will not renounce my own cross.”

    In his homily, Semeraro drew attention to the new blessed's deep spirituality, including his habit of praying every evening before the tabernacle in his church with a cross and his parish directory.

    “A list of parishioners became his prayer book, through which he commended to God one by one the individual families and individuals of his community,” the cardinal said.

  5. Students from the Diocese of Gary Catholic Schools. / Credit: Big Shoulders Fund

    CNA Staff, Jun 15, 2024 / 07:00 am (CNA).

    The Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation, a private nonprofit foundation, announced June 12 that it will be donating $150 million over the next 10 years to the Big Shoulders Fund, which will invest the funds in initiatives that aim to improve the quality, accessibility, and sustainability of Catholic schools in the Diocese of Gary, Indiana.

    This is the largest single investment in pre-K–12 Catholic education in history.

    Driven by its founder’s vision, the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation supports “catalytic community projects and self-sustaining initiatives that cultivate a strong quality of life in Northwest Indiana and statewide,” according to its website.

    The Big Shoulders Fund was founded in 1986 to ensure that children in Chicago’s most under-resourced areas could have access to quality, values-based education. In 2019, it was invited by civic leaders and philanthropic funding to replicate their work in Northwest Indiana by sharing its model with Catholic schools in the Diocese of Gary.

    A student from the Diocese of Gary Catholic Schools. Credit: Big Shoulders Fund
    A student from the Diocese of Gary Catholic Schools. Credit: Big Shoulders Fund

    Bill Hanna, executive director of the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation, told CNA that their hope is to “provide every student access to a high-quality, values-based education that creates strong academic and career outcomes.”

    He added: “The primary focus of the investment will be on serving students and communities with the greatest amount of economic and educational need. We hope that this investment will develop the nation’s most effective network of outcomes-based Catholic schools.”

    Bishop Robert J. McClory of the Diocese of Gary in a press release called the donation “a historic and transformative commitment from the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation, the largest single investment ever given for pre-K–12 Catholic education.”

    “On behalf of all families who will benefit from this commitment, we are thankful and filled with great hope for the future. This is an enormous vote of confidence for Catholic education and the value of our individual schools,” he said. “I am honored by the continued commitment of the Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation, Big Shoulders Fund, and our community. This gift creates an opportunity for the Diocese of Gary to fulfill our mission even more vibrantly to support families and enhance our schools to become an extraordinary model of Catholic school education.” 

    “We are eager to go forward and experience the impact this commitment and collaboration will have on the lives of our students, their families, our teachers, and our communities.”

    McClory wrote in an email to CNA that this donation will give the diocese the “opportunity to help every student in our schools to excel” and hopes it will “inspire others to consider how they can support Catholic schools in their own communities and nationwide.”

    Students and teachers from the Diocese of Gary Catholic Schools. Credit: Big Shoulders Fund
    Students and teachers from the Diocese of Gary Catholic Schools. Credit: Big Shoulders Fund

    In addition to serving students and communities with the greatest amount of economic and educational need in Northwest Indiana,  the investment will support initiatives that focus on curriculum development, teacher training, leadership development, infrastructure improvements, and student support services as well as new governance models, management structures, and assistance with enrollment and tuition management.

    Colleen Brewer, Diocese of Gary superintendent of Catholic schools, told CNA: “A gift of this magnitude gives the Diocese of Gary the opportunity to open our doors to more students, serve our families in a deeper way, and be able to elevate our current success.” 

    “Too often, finances are a barrier in doing what you want to do in a school,” she added. “Now we can identify the needs we are presented with and have the partners and resources to directly address those problems for the benefit of the students. This type of gift is a symbol of trust.”

    Thanks to the resources and funding provided through this investment, Big Shoulders Fund will be able to provide accessible and transformative pre-K–12 education to at least 20 schools across four counties in the Diocese of Gary Catholic school network.

    Additionally, the Diocese of Gary announced that it will establish an independent endowment with The Catholic Foundation for Northwest Indiana, a nonprofit organization, by the end of the year. The hope is to have the invested endowment funds grow up to $50 million over the next 15 years and be used for the retention and compensation of principals, teachers, and staff within diocesan schools.

  6. Byzantine Divine Liturgy at Holy Protection of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Church in downtown Denver on June 8, 2024. / Credit: Kate Quiñones/CNA

    Denver, Colo., Jun 15, 2024 / 06:00 am (CNA).

    About halfway through the western route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, the Perpetual Pilgrims took a quiet respite from the road on Saturday, June 8, to attend an age-old Byzantine Catholic Divine Liturgy in Denver.

    Day-to-day, the perpetual pilgrims make their way across the U.S. by walking and driving, sometimes in a procession of cars, with the monstrance holding the Eucharistic Lord in the mobile chapel. 

    In addition to their frequent stops at parishes, processions, and service activities, the pilgrims spend much of their time in adoration as the van drives across the country. The Junipero Serra Route began on the coast of California on May 18 and is set to reach Indianapolis in mid-July. 

    When they reached Holy Protection of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Church, the pilgrims stood with other parishioners and attendees on the rugs laid across the wood floors of the small church, listening to the chant and song.

    Unassuming on the outside, the humble but beautiful interior is covered with golden icons and blanketed with detailed rugs for parishioners to stand on and sit during the homily. 

    The pilgrimage so far

    Jack Krebs, one of the Perpetual Pilgrims, said he joined the pilgrimage because he wanted to share Jesus in the Eucharist.

    When asked what his daily life looks like as a pilgrim, he said it varies a lot, depending on the day, the parish, and the diocese. 

    “But generally, it will be Mass in the morning and then a quick procession, and then we’ll drive, and we’ll have a driving procession,” he said. “Sometimes it’s with cars following. Other times it’s just having adoration in the van.”

    Jack Krebs (right) and other perpetual pilgrims in the Communion line at a Byzantine Divine Liturgy at Holy Protection of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Church in downtown Denver on June 8, 2024. Credit: Kate Quiñones/CNA
    Jack Krebs (right) and other perpetual pilgrims in the Communion line at a Byzantine Divine Liturgy at Holy Protection of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Church in downtown Denver on June 8, 2024. Credit: Kate Quiñones/CNA

    Krebs said it can be difficult to stay focused depending on where they are driving. 

    “Through the mountains and through the very beautiful areas, it’s easy to make that your prayer as you’re driving through and reading some of the Psalms,” he said. “It’s really easy to reflect in that way.”

    “But there’s other times where you’re just driving through a city and there’s just so much distraction and ads and all this stuff,” he continued. “But it’s also unique because Jesus gets to just bless that place as you go.”

    “If he’s really present here, then he will impact all these people,” Krebs continued. “I almost see it as Jesus walking around in Galilee, just laying his hands on people’s heads and blessing them whenever they encounter him.”

    During the pilgrimage, Krebs said he has been taking inspiration from both the Psalms and the Gospels.

    “The Gospel [stories] of Jesus walking around have been very profound because we’re living that — just walking around with Jesus,” he said. “Some people look on and are very struck. Some people think it’s weird.”

    Father Joel Barstad, pastor at Holy Protection in Denver, processes with the Gospels before the Gospel reading during the Divine Liturgy on June 8, 2024. Credit: Kate Quiñones/CNA
    Father Joel Barstad, pastor at Holy Protection in Denver, processes with the Gospels before the Gospel reading during the Divine Liturgy on June 8, 2024. Credit: Kate Quiñones/CNA

    “I feel like I’m in a way filling that role similar to what the Apostles did, of just walking along and bringing Jesus to the people,” he explained.

    “I think the other thing is Jesus has reminded me that it’s not on me as a pilgrim to fix people. It’s not on me to carry this movement,” Krebs said. “It’s just on me to bring the people to him and bring him to the people and just let him do the heavy lifting, and let him take care of it.”

    Father Joel Barstad processes from the altar through the church, a small room, with the gifts of bread and wine before the consecration during Divine Liturgy on June 8, 2024. Credit: Kate Quiñones/CNA
    Father Joel Barstad processes from the altar through the church, a small room, with the gifts of bread and wine before the consecration during Divine Liturgy on June 8, 2024. Credit: Kate Quiñones/CNA

    The pilgrims not only spend a lot of time with Jesus but also with each other. Krebs said they are being more intentional about one-on-one time to help form deeper friendships.

    Byzantine liturgy

    Attending a Byzantine Catholic liturgy for the first time is very different from the Roman Catholic Mass, starting with the lack of pews.

    Attendees stand reverently throughout most of the Byzantine Divine Liturgy at Holy Protection of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Church in downtown Denver on June 8, 2024. Credit: Kate Quiñones/CNA
    Attendees stand reverently throughout most of the Byzantine Divine Liturgy at Holy Protection of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Church in downtown Denver on June 8, 2024. Credit: Kate Quiñones/CNA

    “I think [of] what Father said in the very beginning of the sacred liturgy, ‘If this is new to you, just let it wash over you,’” Krebs recalled. “I really like that he said that because it gave me a context in which to approach this.”

    The Mass, called a Divine Liturgy, involves multiple processions around the crowded room with incense. Many parishioners will make the sign of the cross and a low bow, sometimes touching the floor. The Eucharist is given via intinction, where the small cubes of consecrated, leavened bread are placed in the chalice and given on a spoon.

    Attendees of the  Byzantine Divine Liturgy sit on the floor during the homily at Holy Protection of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Church in downtown Denver on June 8, 2024. Credit: Kate Quiñones/CNA
    Attendees of the Byzantine Divine Liturgy sit on the floor during the homily at Holy Protection of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Church in downtown Denver on June 8, 2024. Credit: Kate Quiñones/CNA

    Young kids are invited to stand in the front while the priest reads the Gospel, and during the homily attendees sit crisscrossed on the ground while pews line the walls for those who need them.

    Jack Krebs receives the Eucharist during a Byzantine Catholic Divine Liturgy on June 8, 2024. The Eucharist is given via “intinction,” where the small cubes of consecrated, leaven bread are placed in the chalice and given on a spoon. Credit: Kate Quiñones/CNA
    Jack Krebs receives the Eucharist during a Byzantine Catholic Divine Liturgy on June 8, 2024. The Eucharist is given via “intinction,” where the small cubes of consecrated, leaven bread are placed in the chalice and given on a spoon. Credit: Kate Quiñones/CNA

    “I sat there and let the beauty of it wash over me and tried to be present to the beauty of the icons and the church architecture,” Krebs said. 

    Nature and God 

    Krebs, originally from Wisconsin, studied environmental science at the University of Nebraska. He went on the national pilgrimage after first hearing about it from a friend. 

    “I think it just made my prayer become a lot more relational,” he said of the Eucharistic Revival. “I’ve been coming to know the gift of the Eucharist is a lot deeper.”

    After the pilgrimage, Krebs will be working at Annunciation Heights, a program that runs outdoor Catholic camps for youths, families, and students in Estes Park, a town in the Colorado Rockies.

    “I studied environmental science and water science in college, so praying or being close to the Lord in creation, or coming to know our Creator through that has been powerful,” he said.

    Krebs mentioned taking inspiration from Psalms 121 and 122, which are the psalms that people would pray when making pilgrimages to Jerusalem. 

    “[We’re] driving through the mountains and one of the Psalms uses the imagery, as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so God’s love surrounds you,” he recalled. “And we’re driving through this canyon, and I’m thinking, if these mountains, if these rocks are God’s love, I’m just so safe here. Nothing can hurt me down here. It’s just so beautiful and you feel safe.”

    Krebs shared another reflection that the pilgrimage has inspired, noting that images from the Psalms help convict him “of the deeper truth of God’s love, or his care for us, or his mystery, his grandeur, his smallness — all of it.”

    “Because even as I’m driving by and I see this one little flower in the middle of the pasture, God knows that that flower is there, and he willed that that flower was there, and that flower is just glorifying him in its smallness,” he continued. “It’s going to live for a year, and then it’s going to die, and no one’s going to know about it — but God cares so much about the small things.” 

    “And then I think also going through the cities where there’s more people, I think the image is Jesus is able to look on all these people and see them and bless them,” he continued. “Not that he doesn’t see them [already], but he’s being made physically present here because in such a real way.”

  7. Pope Francis meets with U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday, June 14, 2024, after a session at the G7 summit, which is being held June 13–15 in the southern Italian region of Puglia. / Credit: Vatican Media

    Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 14, 2024 / 17:55 pm (CNA).

    President Joe Biden privately met with Pope Francis early Friday evening in Apulia, Italy, at the Group of Seven (G7) Summit to discuss foreign policy and climate change.

    Francis is the first pope to address the G7 summit, which is an annual meeting of government leaders from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, and Italy. The European Union also participates but is not an official member.

    Pope Francis meets with U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday, June 14, 2024, after a session at the G7 summit, which is being held June 13–15 in the southern Italian region of Puglia. Credit: Vatican Media
    Pope Francis meets with U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday, June 14, 2024, after a session at the G7 summit, which is being held June 13–15 in the southern Italian region of Puglia. Credit: Vatican Media

    In a statement following the meeting, the White House said both leaders “emphasized the urgent need for an immediate cease-fire and a hostage deal” in Gaza and the need to “address the critical humanitarian crisis.”

    The statement added that “Biden thanked Pope Francis for the Vatican’s work to address the humanitarian impacts of Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, including his efforts to help return kidnapped Ukrainian children to their families.”

    “President Biden also reaffirmed his deep appreciation for the pope’s tireless advocacy for the poor and those suffering from persecution, the effects of climate change, and conflict around the world,” according to the statement.

    In the morning, prior to the meeting, a senior Biden administration official said during a press teleconference that Biden planned to discuss issues in the Middle East and Ukraine with the pontiff. On Ukraine, the official said “the Holy See has been actively engaged” on this issue. 

    “Cardinal [Matteo] Zuppi, in particular, has been an envoy working to return Ukrainian children who have been forcibly deported across the border, separated from their families,” the official added. “Of course, it’s one of the huge tragedies of this war. And the Holy See has also been engaged in trying to promote a peace agreement.”

    The official said Biden would also discuss climate change, “which is an issue that is near and dear to both leaders.”

    “Of course, the president’s plan for adaptation and resilience, which was launched in November of 2021, is an important effort to deal with climate change, as is the multilateral Loss and Damage Fund to which the United States has contributed $17.5 million, an important effort to mitigate some of the effects of climate change,” the official said.

    Before the scheduled meeting, Biden and other leaders briefly greeted Francis when he arrived at the summit to address officials about concerns related to artificial intelligence (AI). The pontiff, who has called for global regulations on AI, expressed apprehensions about AI becoming a tool for war and cautioned against relying too much on AI without human input during his address. Francis has promoted global regulations to ensure AI is used to advance the common good.

    The senior administration official said during the teleconference that Biden would also likely discuss AI with Francis — an issue that has been important to the pontiff over the past year. 

    “I’ll just say on AI, I think we are both interested in responsible use of artificial intelligence, preserving human dignity and human rights,” the official said. “And so they’ll have a chance to get into that.”

    The White House statement following the meeting, however, did not mention AI. 

    Pope Francis meets with U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday, June 14, 2024, after a session at the G7 summit, which is being held June 13–15 in the southern Italian region of Puglia. Credit: Vatican Media
    Pope Francis meets with U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday, June 14, 2024, after a session at the G7 summit, which is being held June 13–15 in the southern Italian region of Puglia. Credit: Vatican Media

    Biden previously met with Francis in October 2021 for about 75 minutes to discuss poverty, climate change, and other issues. That was Biden’s first in-person meeting with the pontiff as president, but the two leaders also spoke on the phone shortly after the presidential election. Biden and Francis also spoke on the phone in October 2023 to discuss the conflict between Israel and Gaza. Biden had met Francis three times before becoming president.

    The president claimed in 2021 after the two met in person that Francis told him he “was a good Catholic and I should keep receiving Communion.” The Vatican declined to comment on whether Francis made those comments. However, in July 2022, Francis criticized Biden for the president’s support of abortion, saying that it is an “incoherence” for a Catholic to be in favor of legal abortion.

    The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has been at odds with the Biden administration over issues related to abortion and gender ideology. The bishops also criticized the president’s recent border security measures.

  8. Adele Brise. / Credit: National Shrine of Our Lady of Champion

    Louisville, Ky., Jun 14, 2024 / 17:35 pm (CNA).

    The U.S. Catholic bishops voted on Friday to begin the process of officially declaring Adele Brise a saint. Brise, an immigrant from Belgium living in northern Wisconsin, witnessed the first and only approved Marian apparition in the United States in 1859.

    In a unanimous voice vote at their spring general assembly held in Louisville, Kentucky, the bishops gave their approval to advancing on the local level the cause of beatification and canonization of Brise.

    In 2022, the Vatican gave its formal stamp of approval to the apparitions Brise witnessed, recognizing the newly named National Shrine of Our Lady of Champion in Champion, Wisconsin, as an approved apparition site. 

    Bishop David Ricken of the Diocese of Green Bay, who initiated the formal investigation into the apparitions, told CNA the number of pilgrims traveling to the shrine has increased from 10,000 a year to over 200,000 a year today since the apparitions were approved. 

    “The Blessed Mother is calling people to come to the shrine to experience the peace there, the simplicity, the basics of the Gospel, the catechism are exposed there,” Ricken said.

    Our Lady of Champion is the patroness of the Northern Marian Route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage. The pilgrimage will be stopping at the shrine on June 16 on its way to the National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis.

    A saint for our times

    On Oct. 9, 1859, the Belgian-born Brise reported seeing the first of three apparitions of the Virgin Mary while walking in the woods in Champion, Wisconsin. 

    Brise, who was 28 at the time, saw a woman dressed in white and wearing a crown of gold stars who asked her to pray for the conversion of sinners and teach children about the faith.

    Brise immediately set out to visit families within a 50-mile radius of her home to share the Gospel with them and teach them the catechism. They were Belgian immigrants like herself, but unlike Brise, they had lost their faith since coming to America.

    “She’s really current for now because we’re facing the same problems. People not knowing the faith, people having fallen away from the Church. She’s a model for us of what it means to be an evangelizing catechist. She’s very pertinent for today as well,” Ricken said.

    “From the moment of the apparitions, Adele furiously traveled the wild country of northeast Wisconsin, teaching children. She would go so far as to do the household chores for the families in exchange for simply having some time to instruct the children,” Ricken said.

    Brise went on to gather other women to help her with her mission and establish a school house and convent. Brise’s father built a chapel at the site of the apparitions, which eventually became a shrine to Our Lady of Good Help. The name was taken from the words the Blessed Mother said to Brise: “I will help you.”

    What did the Blessed Mother say to Brise?

    After Brise reported seeing the first apparition, her parish priest advised that if she were to appear again she should ask: “In God’s name, who are you and what do you want of me?”

    “I am the Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners, and I wish you to do the same. You received holy Communion this morning and that is well. But you must do more. Make a general confession and offer Communion for the conversion of sinners. If they do not convert and do penance, my Son will be obliged to punish them,” the apparition said.

    According to the shrine’s website, the apparition “gazed kindly” upon Brise and her companions (who could not see her) and said: “Blessed are they that believe without seeing.” Then, looking toward Brise, the Queen of Heaven asked: “What are you doing here in idleness while your companions are working in the vineyard of my Son?”

    “What more can I do, dear Lady?” Brise asked, weeping.

    “Gather the children in this wild country and teach them what they should know for salvation.”

    “But how shall I teach them who know so little myself?” Brise said.

    “Teach them their catechism,” the woman in white replied, “how to sign themselves with the sign of the cross, and how to approach the sacraments; that is what I wish you to do. Go and fear nothing; I will help you.”

    Possible miracles

    In his address to his fellow bishops, Ricken shared the testimonies of people who said they had received healing thanks to the intercession of Brise.

    Candidates for beatification and canonization normally require two miracles attributed to their intercession as well as evidence that they were holy and virtuous.

    “As we examine Adele’s life more closely and gather testimonies of people who attest to the life of the growing virtue and possession of Adele, two stories of healing speak out to the most,” Ricken said.

    He recounted the story of a woman named Sharon, who while hospitalized for depression saw a vision of a woman she believed to be Brise who gave her the will to live a joyful life of faith.

    The second person to testify, a man named John, was diagnosed in 2018 with colorectal cancer, which had metastasized to his lungs. He received what he believes to be a miraculous cure after he prayed for Brise’s intercession.  

    “As of January 2022, I was declared with no evidence of disease, and I have been without cancer detected through my last scans all the way through April 2024,” Ricken quoted the man’s testimony. 

    “I pray every day, and I’m convinced that my visit to the Champion Shrine, my deepening relationship with Mary through Adele, has really blessed me,” the bishop quoted John as saying. 

  9. Delegates vote to approve a synthesis report at the conclusion of the Synod on Synodality on Oct. 28, 2023. / Credit: Vatican Media

    Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 14, 2024 / 17:05 pm (CNA).

    A group of 20 theologians concluded an evaluation of 107 synod reports from national bishops’ conferences and Eastern Catholic Churches following nearly two weeks of meetings in Rome, according to a news release from the general secretariat of the synod.

    The theologians, who met from June 4 through June 14, were asked to provide an analysis of the reports, which will help synod officials draft the Synod on Synodality’s “Instrumentum Laboris 2” — the document that will guide the work of the second session of the synod in October. The analysis from the theologians has not been made public.

    The ongoing Synod on Synodality is focused on studying various questions about how the Church should operate. Some of the questions focus on the role of women, inclusion, women deacons, and outreach to those who struggle with same-sex attraction. Parishes held listening sessions this past Lent that were consolidated into the national reports analyzed by the theologians.

    According to the news release, the themes most frequently mentioned are the formation of synodality, the functioning of participatory bodies, the role of women, outreach to young people, attention to the poor, inculturation, transparency, and a culture of accountability. Additional themes are catechesis, Christian initiation, and collaboration among churches.

    “The reports often recount the experience of people who have made a real personal conversion,” Secretary General of the General Secretariat of the Synod Cardinal Mario Grech said in a statement following the conclusion of the theologians’ analysis. 

    “Others, however, are of people who continue to experience confusion, worry, or anxiety,” the cardinal continued. “In particular, there is a fear that what is sent is not taken seriously or that ideologies and lobbies of the faithful may exploit the synodal path to impose their own agenda.”

    Grech said the October session will not be “about this or that issue” but focused on “synodality” and “about how to be a missionary Church on the way.” The session, he added, “will invoke the help of the Holy Spirit and that of his brothers and sisters to discern God’s will for his Church and not an opportunity to impose one’s own vision of Church."

    The group of theologians included bishops, priests, consecrated men and women, and laypeople. Eight of the theologians were European, including five Italians. There were three theologians from Africa and three from South America. Two theologians were from North America, including one from the United States; two were from Asia; and two were from Australia. 

    “The holy people of God has been set in motion for mission thanks to the synodal experience,” Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, SJ, who is the general rapporteur of the synod, said in a statement.

    “In the reports there were enthusiastic and creative responses offered as well as some with resistance and concern,” the cardinal said. “Most reports, however, show the joy of the journey that has given new life to many local communities and also provoked significant changes on their way of living and being Church. The seeds of the synodal Church are already sprouting!"

    After the ordinal council evaluates the analysis from the theologians, the members will draft the Instrumentum Laboris document itself and provide the draft to Pope Francis for final approval.

    Monsignor Riccardo Battocchio, the special secretary of the assembly, said in a statement that the document “will look different from the previous one,” which guided the prior synod meeting, because it will be more focused. 

    “If for the first session it was important to bring out the wide-ranging themes to be addressed; the working document for the October session intends instead to highlight some knots to be unraveled in order to answer the question ‘How to be a synodal Church in mission,’ taking in the path made so far and proposing theologically grounded arguments together with some concrete proposals to help the discernment entrusted to the members of the assembly,” Battocchio said.

  10. null / Credit: HQuality/Shutterstock

    Ann Arbor, Michigan, Jun 14, 2024 / 15:30 pm (CNA).

    The European Court of Human Rights on June 13 ruled in favor of Hungary’s right to uphold its laws prohibiting assisted suicide, thus affirming the laws of 46 countries of the Council of Europe that protect human life.

    The Council of Europe is the broadest coalition in Europe and is larger than the 26-member European Union. The United Kingdom is a member of the European Council, for example, but is not a member of the European Union.

    ADF International, a global alliance of law firms defending human life, intervened in the case Karsai v. Hungary, arguing that Hungary’s prohibition of assisted suicide should be upheld because Hungary is a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights, which upholds the right to life. ADF argued that while states have an obligation to protect the right to life, there is no right to die.

    Jean-Paul Van De Walle, an attorney for ADF, said: “Instead of abandoning our most vulnerable citizens, society should do all it can to provide the best standards of care.”

    “Worldwide, only a tiny minority of countries allow assisted suicide. Wherever the practice is allowed, legal ‘safeguards’ are insufficient to prevent abuses, proving most harmful to vulnerable members of society, including the elderly, the disabled, and those suffering from mental illness or depression. Suicide is something society rightly considers a tragedy to be prevented, and the same must apply to assisted suicide. Care, not killing, must be the goal we all strive towards,” Van De Walle said.

    Hungarian lawyer Daniel Karsai, diagnosed with a neurodegenerative condition, argued that criminalizing physician-assisted suicide violates the European Convention on Human Rights,  which protects private and family life and prohibits discrimination. Hungarian law would make those assisting his suicide liable to prosecution, and he argued that prohibiting PAS/E (physician-assisted suicide/euthanasia) was discriminatory because terminally ill patients are able to ask for treatment to be withdrawn.

    ADF warned that abuses inevitably follow when the right to life is abolished.

    “Removing such provisions from law creates a dangerous scenario where pressure is placed on vulnerable people to end their lives in fear (whether or not justified) of being a burden upon relatives, carers, or a state that is short of resources,” the brief stated.

    The court concurred with ADF on June 13, finding “no basis for concluding that the member states are thereby advised, let alone required, to provide access” to assisted suicide. The court said there are risks of error and abuse in providing physician-assisted dying, and huge societal implications

    The court also found that Hungary’s law prohibiting PAS/E protects the disabled and terminally ill. 

    “Hungarian society did not encourage the sick to seek death but sought instead to provide them with care and support,” it said, affirming the right of patients to refuse unwanted treatment, which is recognized by the Council of Europe and connected to the right to free and informed consent. The court found no discrimination in Karsai’s case.

    Austria, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Spain are the only Council of Europe members with legalized assisted suicide. This is despite a 2012 resolution by the Council of Europe assembly that stated that euthanasia, “the intentional killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit, must always be prohibited.”

    Critics of PAS/E fear that redefining terminal illness, and the growing number of jurisdictions allowing PAS/E, will further jeopardize the infirm and mentally ill.

    While nonvoluntary euthanasia is illegal in all 50 states of the United States, physician-assisted suicide/euthanasia is legal in the District of Columbia, California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, New Mexico, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, Washington, and Hawaii.

    The National Catholic Bioethics Centerclarifies: “Euthanasia is categorized in different ways …Voluntary euthanasia is when a person wishes to have their life ended and is legal in a growing number of countries. Nonvoluntary euthanasia occurs when a patient’s consent is unavailable and is legal in some countries … in both active and passive forms. Involuntary euthanasia, which is done without asking for consent or against the patient’s will, is illegal in all countries and is usually considered murder.”

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Intentional euthanasia, whatever its forms or motives, is murder. It is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator” (No. 2324).

  11. Bishop Edward M. Lohse. / Credit: Diocese of Kalamazoo

    CNA Staff, Jun 14, 2024 / 14:05 pm (CNA).

    The Vatican has removed Bishop Paul Bradley as apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Steubenville, Ohio, the bishop revealed on Friday, with Pope Francis appointing a new administrator to take his place. 

    Bradley said in a letter to the diocese on Friday that the Holy Father had “informed me that my service as apostolic administrator of the diocese has been completed,” with Francis having “thanked me for my leadership over these last nine months.” 

    The Vatican has appointed Kalamazoo Bishop Edward Lohse as the new apostolic administrator of the Ohio diocese, Bradley said. The appointment was effective immediately. 

    Bradley had retired from the bishopric in Kalamazoo last July before being appointed by the pope as apostolic administrator of Steubenville on Sept. 28. 

    The prelate was appointed to that role after the departure of prior Bishop Jeffrey Monforton, whom Pope Francis transferred to the Archdiocese of Detroit at the same time. 

    While serving in the Steubenville Diocese, Monforton had proposed a merger between Steubenville and the Diocese of Columbus. That plan drew negative feedback and disappointment from many within Steubenville, including clergy who said they had not been consulted about the proposal. 

    Monforton ultimately put a hold on the plan one week before the U.S. bishops’ conference planned to vote on the merger at its 2022 meeting in Baltimore.

    Bradley and Columbus Bishop Earl Fernandes said in December of last year that the two dioceses were back into talks about a possible merger. 

    The Steubenville Diocese was created in November 1944 out of territory previously part of the Diocese of Columbus. The diocese has seen a marked decline in population in the subsequent 80 years as the region has suffered from economic struggles stemming from losses in the coal and steel industries. 

    In March of this year the two dioceses said in a press release that they had “submitted a summary of findings on how both dioceses could be affected by a potential merger” to Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schnurr as well as the apostolic nunciature. 

    “No decision on a merger has been made,” the bishops said at the time. “The final decision will be made by the Holy Father, Pope Francis.” 

    “This process of discernment is distinct from the process of implementation should a merger occur,” the bishops said. 

    In his letter on Friday, meanwhile, Bradley said he was “so very grateful to the Holy Father” for the Steubenville appointment. 

    He said Lohse, who will continue to serve as bishop of Kalmazoo, would “complete the current process of discernment” underway in the diocese.

    “I am confident that Bishop Lohse will provide excellent leadership to the diocese throughout the remainder of this process,” the bishop said.

  12. Cardinal Robert McElroy, bishop of San Diego, celebrates Mass at St. Patrick's Church in Rome Aug. 28, 2022. / Credit: Hannah Brockhaus/CNA

    CNA Staff, Jun 14, 2024 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

    The Diocese of San Diego filed for bankruptcy on Thursday, the latest U.S. diocese to do so in response to hundreds of sexual abuse allegations leveled against it. 

    San Diego bishop Cardinal Robert McElroy said in February 2023 that the diocese was considering declaring bankruptcy due to the “staggering” legal costs of responding to 400 new lawsuits brought during a three-year statewide expansion of the statute of limitations for child abuse cases.

    In a letter to the diocese on Thursday, McElroy said that diocesan leaders have spent the past 16 months reviewing the abuse cases and that the diocese has “come to the conclusion that this is the moment to enter formally into bankruptcy and continue negotiations as part of the bankruptcy process.”

    The bankruptcy filing, the cardinal said, was motivated by “the need for just compensation for victims of sexual abuse” as well as “the need to continue the Church’s mission of education, pastoral service, and outreach to the poor and the marginalized.”

    McElroy pointed out that the diocese has already paid out a major sum stemming from a 2007 bankruptcy filing over other sex abuse cases. 

    The diocese’s Chapter 11 filing this week “will achieve a definite conclusion to its legal liability for past claims of sexual abuse in the settlement we hope to reach in bankruptcy,” the prelate said. 

    San Diego joins numerous other Catholic dioceses in filing for bankruptcy to address voluminous sexual abuse claims. Most recently, the Diocese of Fresno, also in California, filed for bankruptcy in May.

    Numerous instances of diocesan bankruptcy have occurred after civil authorities have temporarily lifted the statute of limitations for sex abuse cases, allowing alleged victims to file lawsuits against Church authorities for abuses that reportedly occurred decades ago. 

    As has been the case with other diocesan bankruptcy proceedings, McElroy noted this week that, for San Diego, “only the diocese will be filing for bankruptcy.” 

    “The parishes, parochial schools, and high schools will not,” the bishop said. 

    “But it is clear that as part of providing appropriate compensation to past victims of the sexual abuse of minors, both the parishes and high schools will have to contribute substantially to the ultimate settlement in order to bring finality to the liability they face,” he said.

    Efforts over the last few decades to address the sex abuse crisis in the Church “cannot begin to mitigate the enormous moral responsibility that I, as your bishop, and the entire Catholic community continue to bear,” McElroy said in his letter. 

    “May God never let this shame pass from our sight, and may God’s tenderness envelop the innocent children and teenagers who were victimized,” he said.

  13. Interior view of a stained-glass window of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. / Credit: Wolfgang Kaehler/LightRocket via Getty Images

    Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 14, 2024 / 12:45 pm (CNA).

    The U.S. Catholic bishops approved on Friday a document at their spring meeting that apologizes to Catholic Indigenous communities for a “history of trauma” caused in part by their “abandonment” by the Church and proposes a way forward that takes into account the “unique cultural needs” of these communities. 

    The document, “Keeping Christ’s Sacred Promise: A Pastoral Framework for Indigenous Ministry,” provides an updated pastoral plan to address the concerns of Catholic Indigenous communities. The preface notes the last time the bishops formally addressed these communities was 1977.

    The USCCB vote approving the text took place at the conference’s annual spring meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, on June 14. 

    In the document, the bishops note the contributions of Catholic missionaries and the impact on Native people, stating: “Today, many North American Indigenous Catholics trace their faith to the decision of their ancestors to embrace Catholicism hundreds of years ago.” 

    But the bishops continue with an apologetic tone, writing: “Sadly, many Indigenous Catholics have felt a sense of abandonment in their relationship with Church leaders due to a lack of understanding of their unique cultural needs. We apologize for the failure to nurture, strengthen, honor, recognize, and appreciate those entrusted to our pastoral care.”

    The document takes into consideration insights from a previous listening session with bishops and Native leaders in 2019 and aims “to lift the major topics and concerns that emerged from those conversations, and to encourage local bishops to engage and deepen the dialogue with the local Native communities.”

    The text first recalls a history of trauma experienced among Indigenous communities, starting in the 15th century with the arrival of Europeans in North America. Among the major sources of trauma the text lists “epidemics, national policies, and Native boarding schools, which stand out because of their profound effect on family life.”

    It states: “The family systems of many Indigenous peoples never fully recovered from these tragedies, which often led to broken homes harmed by addiction, domestic abuse, abandonment, and neglect. The Church recognizes that it has played a part in traumas experienced by Native children.”

    The text also notes that “European and Eurocentric world powers” exploited the language of papal letters from the 14th and 15th centuries, and developed “justifications to enslave, mistreat, and remove Indigenous peoples from their lands.” The draft document states: “Let us be very clear here: The Catholic Church does not espouse these ideologies.”

    The text states: “Historical traumas are a significant contributor to the breakdown of family life among many Indigenous peoples. In response, youth and young adults are disaffiliating from the institutional authorities such as the Church, community, and their Elders. Many have rejected Christianity and turned to pre-Christian Indigenous religious practices. Many long for belonging and acceptance and might find solace in social media and other outlets.”

    The draft calls for more listening sessions with Native American Catholics and partnerships “with ministries such as Catholic Charities and others that provide counseling and support groups for Indigenous peoples who struggle with woundedness from trauma.” 

    The draft document also states a desire to support Indigenous Catholic communities as they unite to the sacramental life of the Church. The text says: “Let us not forget that the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, also serve as a prime opportunity for the Church to help heal past wounds.”

    A connection is also made to traditional Native practices.

    “For many Native communities, both healing rituals and those honoring the dead are meaningful,” it says. “The Church can use these beliefs to deepen Indigenous understanding of how Christ is present and active in the sacraments. Through embracing the sacraments, many communities have experienced the profound hope of reconciliation, healing, and eternal life.”

    The text emphasizes the need for “authentic inculturation in the liturgy to deepen our relationship with Christ.” For Native Catholics, it notes “traditional rituals that complement and are compatible with Catholic doctrine and liturgical practices enhance the prayer life and religious experience of the people.”

    Looking at some of the prevalent social issues, the draft says: “The Church in the United States must discern how best to allocate resources to support Indigenous communities in need.” The social concerns listed include an abuse of natural resources on Native lands, a lack of quality education, health disparities, racism, and inadequate housing.

    Notably, the document mentions the importance of the USCCB anti-poverty program known as the Catholic Campaign for Human Development in addressing some of these concerns. The bishops will be discussing the future of this program at their spring meeting.

    The U.S. bishops hope the document will “be used by dioceses, parishes, regions, Native Catholic leaders, Catholic schools, and other Catholic institutions serving Indigenous populations to develop specific priorities, initiatives, and programs, tailored to the needs, concerns, and aspirations of the local Native populations.”

    In the document’s conclusion, the bishops note: “An unfortunate tension exists today for many Indigenous Catholics, who feel they are presented with a false choice: Be Native or be Catholic…For Native Catholics who feel this tension, we assure you, as the Catholic bishops of the United States, that you do not have to be one or the other. You are both. Your cultural embodiment of the faith is a gift to the Church.”

    This article was first published on June 11, 2024, and updated on June 14, 2024.

  14. Cardinal Christophe Pierre, the Vatican's nuncio to the United States, speaks to the U.S. bishops at their annual fall assembly in Baltimore on Nov. 14, 2023. / Credit: Screenshot of USCCB livestream

    Louisville, Ky., Jun 14, 2024 / 12:30 pm (CNA).

    Pope Francis’ ambassador to the United States conveyed the Holy Father’s support for the National Eucharistic Revival in a speech Thursday at the spring gathering of the U.S. bishops held in Louisville, Kentucky.

    Cardinal Christophe Pierre, who has served as the apostolic nuncio to the United States since 2016 in addition to being the Vatican’s top diplomat in Washington, D.C., is tasked with representing the pope in his dealings with the U.S. bishops. 

    “Pope Francis is united with us in his desire that people rediscover the power of the Eucharist,” Pierre said.

    The National Eucharistic Revival, which launched on the feast of Corpus Christi in 2022, has a mission to “renew the Church by enkindling a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ in the holy Eucharist,” as stated on its website. Sponsored by the U.S. Catholic bishops, the revival aims to inspire people to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist. 

    In his speech, Pierre said that Pope Francis has embraced this goal as a means to conversion of heart, a commitment to evangelization, service, and community.

    “We have set out on this Eucharistic Revival because we want our people to come to a renewed and deeper appreciation of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist,” he said.

    “We want them to know that Christ is there for them in the Eucharist: to receive their adoration, to accompany them in their earthly journey, and to feed them with the Bread of Life,” Pierre told the assembled bishops.

    “We want them also to know the implications of encountering Christ in this way: how it calls them to an ongoing journey of conversion, and also how it commits them to a life of evangelization — of being people who offer an openhearted welcome of mercy to everyone who seeks a place in God’s Church,” Pierre said.

    Synodality of Eucharistic pilgrimages

    The apostolic nuncio also conveyed the Vatican’s support for the National Eucharistic Pilgrimages underway across the country, connecting them to the theme of synodality. 

    “The Eucharistic processions that are going on right now, and which will converge on Indianapolis next month, are an outward symbol of what we want to happen on a spiritual level. We want people to turn to the Eucharistic Lord, to walk with him, and to be led by him. We also want this to happen in the context of community,” Pierre told the bishops.

    “Our people need to experience that a journey with the Lord is also a journey with others who seek the Lord. That this journey is a true synod,” he said.

    Bishops as wounded healers

    He also called on the bishops to seek the fruits of a Eucharistic revival in their own lives.

    “Let us not forget: We need Eucharistic revival too! Let’s be attentive in our own hearts to what the Lord is saying and doing among us,” he said. 

    “The lesson is: The Eucharistic encounter with the risen Lord affords a new personal and ecclesial experience, one in which the wounds suffered in the body of Christ become signs of his victory over death,” he said.

    He then suggested that the “woundedness” of the Church can similarly be a pathway forward to healing and listed those wounds.

    “We are painfully aware of the most glaring wounds in today’s Church. The scandal of abuse and of failed oversight. The plague of indifference toward the poor and suffering, which can affect us all. Skepticism toward God and religion in a secularized culture. And an agitating temptation toward polarization and division, even among those of us who are committed to Christ and his Church,” he said.

    “We find the answer in Christ. By showing the apostles his hands, feet, and side, the Lord is saying to them, and to us: ‘I choose to make your sin and failure a part of the story of my victory. If the marks of my crucifixion can exist on my resurrected body, then the marks of your own suffering and failures can exist in the body of my resurrected Church,” Pierre said.

  15. The University of Notre Dame School of Law. / Credit: Wikimedia Commons

    CNA Staff, Jun 14, 2024 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

    The University of Notre Dame School of Law’s religious liberty initiative announced its support of a federal lawsuit challenging the exclusion of houses of worship from a state historic grant program. 

    The amicus brief, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey in the case Mendham Methodist Church v. Morris County, argues that “excluding religious organizations from generally available grant programs” both “violates the law and harms congregations and their surrounding communities,” according to a press release from the school’s Religious Liberty Clinic. 

    The lawsuit, originally filed last year, concerns a “Historic Preservation Trust Fund” run by Morris County, New Jersey. The county through that fund “distributes money to eligible organizations for the repair, restoration, and preservation of historic local buildings and resources,” the lawsuit indicates. 

    For more than a decade after the fund was originally launched in 2003, churches were eligible for — and often received — funding from the trust, according to the plaintiffs. Yet the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that the state constitution “bars the use of taxpayer funds to repair and restore churches” there. 

    The lawsuit seeks to challenge that rule and open the grant funding up to churches. In its amicus brief, meanwhile, the Notre Dame law clinic argues that the U.S. Constitution “squarely prohibits the county from excluding groups who are otherwise qualified for [public aid] merely because they happen to be religious.”

    In addition to violating the law, the exclusionary grant program “threatens significant harms that can never be undone through litigation,” the brief argues. 

    Facing major budgetary shortfalls, many houses of worship around the country “have been unable to adequately preserve their historic buildings or had to abandon them altogether,” the brief states. 

    Religious institutions “offer irreplaceable cultural and historic value to their communities,” the filing continues. Religious communities “often anchor community life itself,” the brief states.

    The law clinic cited one study that indicated the closure of Catholic schools has been shown to “lead to less socially cohesive, and more disorderly, neighborhoods.” 

    Meredith Holland Kessler, a staff attorney for the Religious Liberty Clinic, said in the group’s press release that the court should “recognize the vital contributions that communities from a variety of faith traditions have made to their neighbors for centuries.”

    The filing asked the court to enter a preliminary injunction against the New Jersey county to halt the denial of the grant funds.

  16. Head coach of the Boston Celtics Joe Mazzulla (left) and forward Jayson Tatum. / Credit: Wikimedia Commons

    Boston, Mass., Jun 14, 2024 / 11:30 am (CNA).

    The Boston Celtics are just one game away from clinching their first NBA title since 2008 — and their head coach Joe Mazzulla has already decided what he will do if they win.

    “If we win the championship this year, we’re flying to Jerusalem and we’re walking from Jericho to Jerusalem,” Mazzulla said in an NBC Sports Boston docuseries released in May. 

    “And it will be kind of like just our reconnect. But we went last year and we stopped right along this mountain side of the Kidron Valley and you could see a path in between the mountains… [and] during the time, the only way that [Jesus] could have gotten from Jericho to Jerusalem was through this valley. And right there I was like, ‘We have to walk that,’” he said.

    “Most people go to Disney World or whatever but... I think [the Holy Land is] the most important place to go back and recenter yourself,” the 35-year-old said.

    A devout Catholic, Mazzulla is in his second season as head coach for the Boston franchise. 

    Growing up in Rhode Island, he attended the Catholic-affiliated Bishop Hendricken High School, where in 2018 he was inducted into the athletics hall of fame and called “one of the best multi-sport athletes” in school history.

    Although he’s a recent head-coaching addition to the league, Mazzulla has been catching the attention of basketball fans for taking his team deep into the NBA playoffs two years in a row.

    But some who don’t follow the sport as closely still may recognize Mazzulla from a viral November 2022 postgame interview in which he was asked about the presence of Prince William and Princess Kate Middleton at the TD Garden, the Celtics’ home court.

    The reporter asked Mazzulla: “A non-basketball question: Did you get a chance to meet with the royal family and if not how was it having them there in the building?”

    “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph?” Mazzulla responded, with a perplexed look on his face. The reporter responded, chuckling, and clarifying who she was referring to: “The prince and princess of Wales.”

    “Oh no, I did not,” Mazzulla said. “I’m only familiar with one royal family. I don’t know too much about that one.”

    Outspoken about his Catholic faith

    That wasn’t the only time Mazzulla offered a candid response about faith to a question from the media. 

    Following Boston’s first win against the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA finals, Mazzulla was asked by a reporter in a press conference about this matchup being the first time since 1975 that two black head coaches have faced off in the championship.

    “Given the plight, sometimes, of black coaches in the NBA, do you think this is a significant moment? Do you take pride in this? How do you view this or do you not see it at all?” the reporter asked.

    “I wonder how many of those have been Christian coaches?” Mazzulla answered, followed by a long moment of silence. That exchange, too, received heavy media attention. 

    In the recent NBC docuseries, Mazzulla — who often dons a small gold cross pinned on his shirt while he coaches — said that he likes to get to the basketball facility around noon and do a “prayer walk,” seeming to reference his arrival time and ritual before games.

    “I like to do a prayer walk around the court at the Garden. I like to be in the Garden when there’s not a lot of people there, just because it’s the Garden. So I get there at like 11-12, do a 20-minute walk around the court and just kind of take in how cold it is. I love that, the smell of it, just the banners obviously, taking all that in,” he said.

    Shown during his “prayer walk,” Mazzulla can be seen holding a green and gold wooden rosary.

    That rosary was a gift given to him made from the original floor of the now-vanished Boston Garden, Mazzulla said.

    “And so it just ties two of the three most important things in my life, [which] is the job that I have for the Celtics, my faith, and the tradition of the Celtics, it’s just a really cool gift,” he said.

    “I also love collecting rosary beads just because it tells a story of kind of where you were at,” he said.

    Home chapel

    In the docuseries, Mazzulla introduces viewers to his private home chapel in which he said he tries to begin and end his days in.

    “So when Camai [his wife] came to look at the place, she walked in this room first and she was like, ‘This is the room for the chapel.’ So I always made a promise that we were going to have that. So it’s important,” he said.

    “We try to start our day and end our day in here,” he added. 

    The chapel has religious candles, statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary, other icons, an altar, kneelers, a holy water font, rosaries, a bookshelf, and a crucifix. 

    Mazzulla also pointed to a photo of him and his childhood priest Father Marcel Taillon at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. 

    “He’s the guy that blessed the crowd when we were down nine to Minnesota. He’s been my priest since I’ve been in eighth grade, so we’ve known each other now for almost 20 years,” Mazzulla said. Taillon was the former chaplain at Bishop Hendricken High School when Mazzulla attended from 2002 to 2006. 

    The crowd blessing occurred on Jan. 10 when the Celtics were facing off with the Minnesota Timberwolves in the fourth quarter. The Celtics were down by nine points with just over four minutes left when Taillon, wearing his clerics, was shown on the jumbotron. Taillon began to bless the crowd and the assembly began to cheer. 

    At that moment, “God’s Plan” by the hip-hop artist Drake began to play over the loudspeakers. The Celtics ended the game with a phenomenal comeback, pushing the game into overtime and clinching a win. 

    When Mazzulla was appointed to the Celtics’ head coaching position in 2023, the priest said in a Hendricken press release that “Coach Mazzulla is right for the job, not only because of the Celtics’ record but [also] his ability to form the whole person whom he leads.”

    “His faith life, his family life, and his deep gratitude for all he has received makes his life a response instead of a job.”

    ‘I’m not a basketball coach’

    Mazzulla, who was a star athlete in college, said in the docuseries that when he was younger, his identity was “in being a basketball player.”

    “All my affirmation and everything I was seeking I put into basketball, I put into being a basketball player. And I lost that identity when I got hurt and missed a season. And then I lost it again when I thought I was going to play overseas and I lost the game of basketball and it made me ask myself like who am I?” he said.

    “Like who is Joe Mazzulla the basketball player versus Joe Mazzulla the person. And as I got into coaching I had to reinvent myself because my identity had been in something that is fleeting,” he added.

    Mazzulla offered similar comments in a pregame interview last year when he was asked how he handles “life-altering world events” while also being a basketball coach and preparing for a game. 

    “I’m not a basketball coach,” he responded. “I’m just a person that shows up to work everyday to help people.”

    Faith is an ‘anchor’

    Prior to Game 3 of the NBA finals, Mazzulla was asked in a press conference how he leans on his faith when coaching.

    Mazzulla said his faith is “the most important thing.”

    “I think the ability to handle the ebbs and flows, the humility to understand that there’s a plan that’s much bigger than just who you are individually and have an impact on other people and then using the gifts that God has given you to try to impact those people,” he said.

    “So it’s my anchor and it’s been the most important thing, and I’ve enjoyed just the challenge of having to stick with that even when it’s difficult at times,” he said.



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