Photo Credit: Vatican Radio

“The challenge is to rediscover, through the means of social communication as well as by personal contact, the beauty that is at the heart of our existence and journey, the beauty of faith and of the beauty of the encounter with Christ. Even in this world of communications, the Church must warm the hearts of men and women. Do our presence and plans measure up to this requirement or do we remain technicians? We hold a precious treasure that is to be passed on, a treasure that brings light and hope. They are greatly needed. All this, however, means that priests, religious and laity must have a thorough and adequate formation.

“The great digital continent not only involves technology but is made up of real men and women who bring with them their hopes, their suffering, their concerns and their pursuit of what is true, beautiful and good. We need to bring Christ to others, through these joys and hopes, like Mary, who brought Christ to the hearts of men and women; we need to pass through the clouds of indifference without losing our way; we need to descend into the darkest night without being overcome and disorientated; we need to listen to the dreams, without being seduced; we need to share their disappointments, without becoming despondent; to sympathize with those whose lives are falling apart, without losing our own strength and identity (cf. Pope Francis, Address to the Bishops of Brazil, 27 July 2013, n. 4). This is the path. This is the challenge.”

Address of the Holy Father to the Participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications
21 September 2013

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Habemus Papam Franciscum!

PopeFrancis_001Yesterday, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, S.J., 76, was selected by the Cardinal-Electors as the 266th Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, choosing the name Francis after the great humble servant St. Francis of Assisi. He becomes the first Jesuit, the first South American, and the first from the southern hemisphere to be elected Pope.

From the very beginning, when Pope Francis emerged onto the center loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica in the simple white cassock, it was evident that our new Holy Father was going to perform his duties in such a way distinctive from his predecessors. When he asked the crowd that had gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray with him for our Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, I was furthermore impressed with him. But, what helped me start to recognize the type of leader he would be for our church was his request of the crowd present in the square below him—“before the Bishop blesses his people, I ask you to pray to the Lord that he will bless me: the prayer of the people asking the blessing for their Bishop.” It was an incredibly moving and emotional moment.

Since news of his election became public, like most Catholics around the world, I have spent every available minute researching Cardinal Bergoglio. According to the biography sent out by the Vatican Press Office shortly after his initial Urbi et Orbi message, Pope Francis was born on December 17, 1936 in Buenos Aires to parents of Italian descent; his father immigrated to Argentina from Italy while his mother was born in Buenos Aires to Italian immigrant parents. Pope Francis is one of five children, three of whom are deceased. In an interview with Argentine media, his only remaining sister María Elena said that she had “prayed he wouldn’t be chosen” as Pope because of the tremendous challenges facing the Church. When she found out that the Cardinals had elected him as the new Holy Father, María recalled she wanted to give her big brother a hug.

PopeFrancisFamilyWithin his now-former archdiocese, Pope Francis is already being called “el papa de los villeros”—“the Pope of the slum dwellers”—because of his deep concern and compassion for the poor. As the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, then-Cardinal Bergoglio was very much aware of the plight of the poor within his community and chose to serve them and minister to them in way that truly exemplifies the Gospel message of Christ. He doubled the number of priests serving in the most impoverished areas of Buenos Aires, continually visited those who were imprisoned, and shared in the suffering of those in hospitals. The general consensus amongst the faithful: “Everyone here felt very close to him.”

Throughout his time as Cardinal Archbishop of the Argentine capital, the Holy Father lived in a simple apartment, cooked his own meals, and traveled to work using public transportation. His humility gave him a “closeness with the street” that allowed him to thoroughly recognize and respond to the needs of the people he served. He cherished his people in a way that only a shepherd cares for his sheep: “Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.”—Isaiah 40:11

Ladies and gentlemen, the Holy Spirit has given us a tremendous pastor, a shepherd who will guide the Church of Christ with a firm yet gentle grasp, by compassionately serving those who are most in need, and through teachings that give us courage to embrace the many crosses that may arise along the journey of life. He will strengthen us by his prayers. He will lead by example. He will challenge us to grow in holiness. He will invite us to participate more fully in the life of the Church. And—most importantly—he will teach us what it means to be disciples of the Lord.

Viva il Papa!

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Pope-Benedict-XVIWell folks, I do not believe any of us expected to wake up on a Monday morning to the news that Pope Benedict XVI will resign on February 28th due to lack of strength and frail health. The move, which is the first since 1415, while unexpected may not have been as much of a surprise as many would believe.

In late-December, early-January, I had the privilege of traveling to Rome for New Years for a pilgrimage with a church from the Diocese of Orlando. During our visit, we were invited to sing a selection for the New Years Day Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica with Pope Benedict. During the Mass, as he was walking up and down the stairs of the main altar, I couldn’t help but notice that he looked so frail, weak, and tired. But, I never quite expected him to resign, at least this soon.

When Benedict was elected to the papacy, he stated that he would resign if and when he became unable to carry out his pastoral duties. In other words, we shouldn’t be surprised he did this. And, as a friend put it, his resignation shows Benedict’s humility, bravery, and overall concern for the Church. Below is the full statement from the Vatican:

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonisations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013


In the end, let us all pray for Pope Benedict, for the pending conclave, for the Cardinal who will participate, for our next Pope, and for the future of the Church.

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Good morning, folks. This morning, Pope Benedict XVI announced a November 24th consistory that will increase the number of Cardinal Electors by six to 122. The Cardinals-elect are:

  • Archbishop James Harvey, Prefect of the Pontifical Household
  • His Beatitude, Bechara Boutros Rai, Patriarch of the Maronite Church
  • His Beatitude, Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, Major Archbishop of the Syro-Malankara Church
  • Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria
  • Archbishop Ruben Salazar Gomez, Archbishop of Bogota, Colombia
  • Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, Philippines

Cardinal-elect Harvey was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and has served as Prefect of the Pontifical Household since his appointment to that position by Pope John Paul II in 1998.

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20120428-132028.jpgEarlier this week, in commemoration of Pope Benedict XVI’s election anniversary, the Vatican announced a new technological endeavor that would help “diffuse the teachings of the Holy Father, thus further enhancing the Papal Magisterium.” The new tool is a widget that can be placed on blogs and websites by request.

The day of the announcement, I put in my request with the Vatican, along with about 2000 other people. Yesterday, I received an email from the Vatican informing me that my request had been approved.

If you would like to receive your own widget, click on the following link and complete all the required steps. It’s very easy to do. http://www.vatican.va/widget/widget.htm

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