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Pope Francis offers guidance to young Christians in politics

Pope Francis meets with members of Chemin Neuf Politics Fraternity at the Vatican’s Clementine Hall, May 16, 2022. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, May 16, 2022 / 08:20 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Monday urged young Christians engaged in politics to promote fraternity, while shunning “violent confrontation” and ideology.

The pope outlined his vision for the renewal of politics in a May 16 address to members of the Chemin Neuf Politics Fraternity, an international group of people aged 18 to 35 who want to “be active in politics according to the heart of God.”

He gave the young people present in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall three watchwords — encounter, reflection, and action — and encouraged them to show “unconditional acceptance and respect” for others.

“Without such a change of heart, politics often risks turning into a violent confrontation, where people try to impose their own ideas and pursue particular interests over the common good, contrary to the principle that ‘unity prevails over conflict,’” he said, referring to a maxim in his 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium.

The pope, who has been making his public appearances in a wheelchair since May 5 due to a torn ligament in his right knee, invoked the 18th-century statesman Edmund Burke.

He recalled that the author of “Reflections on the Revolution in France” told his constituents after his election to the British Parliament that he would not only serve their interest but also “the interest of the entire country, the general good.”

The pope said: “As Christians, we recognize that politics is practiced not only through encounter, but also through shared reflection in the pursuit of this general good, not simply through the clash of differing and often opposed interests.”

He added: “Our own compass for advancing this common project is the Gospel, which brings to the world a profoundly positive vision of humanity as loved by God.”

The Chemin Neuf Politics Fraternity is part of the Chemin Neuf Community, which was founded in Lyon, France, in 1973 and describes itself as a Catholic community with an ecumenical vocation.

Members of the Politics Fraternity issued a manifesto in Poland in 2016 recalling that Pope Pius XI described politics as “the highest form of charity” and committing themselves to strive “for justice and peace, through our political commitment.”

The pope highlighted the group’s “efforts on behalf of migrants and ecology,” as well as an initiative in which members “have chosen to live together in a working-class quarter of Paris, in order to listen to the voices of the poor.”

“That is a Christian way of engaging in political life,” he commented. “Don’t forget these things, that realities are more important than ideas: politics cannot be practiced with ideology. That the whole is greater than the part, and that unity prevails over conflict. Always seek unity and do not get lost in conflict.”

‘Warriors to Lourdes’ pilgrimage brings comfort to wounded souls

The 8th annual Warriors to Lourdes pilgrimage on May 10-16, 2022. / Tamino Petelinsek/KofC.

Lourdes, France, May 16, 2022 / 07:30 am (CNA).

The “invisible” wounds of war are at the heart of the eighth annual Warriors to Lourdes pilgrimage, taking place on May 10-16 during the 62nd International Military Pilgrimage at the shrine in southwestern France.

Sponsored by the Knights of Columbus in partnership with the Archdiocese for the Military Services, the Warriors to Lourdes (WTL) pilgrimage helps U.S. soldiers to experience transformation and healing in the French city where the Virgin Mary appeared to St. Bernadette Soubirous in 1858.

Each year, around a hundred soldiers “in need” are selected from across the country by the leadership of WTL, which covers the trip’s expenses. More than 175 active-duty personnel and veterans are participating in the pilgrimage this year, led by Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio.

For many wounded warriors, the support programs’ good fruits were visible from the pilgrimage’s first days.

Richard Johnson, a former military nurse with serious addiction problems, felt reborn at the feet of Our Lady, buoyed by the care, compassion and expertise of the trip leaders, and the friendships formed rapidly with the other pilgrims.

“The friendliness and kindness that surrounds us here places us in the ideal conditions to welcome the love of God and to meet our Lord Jesus through Mary,” he said.

“Words can hardly describe the experience I’m living here. I can feel the healing. It is something one can almost touch.”

This year’s International Military Pilgrimage — the first since the coronavirus outbreak — comprises some 10,300 pilgrims from 42 different countries, eager to be reunited with their brothers in arms for the first time in three years.

Launched at the end of World War II to promote peace and reconciliation across the world, the pilgrimage was officially established in 1958, on the centenary of the apparitions. It features not only religious celebrations, but also times for sharing, concerts around the city, and other festivities.

Solène Tadié.
Solène Tadié.

In addition to these international activities, participants in the Warriors to Lourdes program are offered a daily English-speaking Mass as well as “faith and fellowship” sessions.

This year, the WTL pilgrimage – whose theme is Pacem meam do vobis (“My peace I give to you”) – is emphasizing the invisible wounds caused by the war. These include moral injuries – a scourge that is still too little known, according to the organizers.

Dorothy Perkins, a retired army intelligence officer and trip leader for the pilgrimage in the Seattle area, told CNA: “The Knights of Columbus have been seeking to raise awareness on this topic through dedicated sessions and training, because so many soldiers suffer from moral injury without knowing it.”

“Fortunately, this issue is progressively coming to the fore. Specialists are getting training to address military isolation and moral injuries, and we too want to give people the help that they need at our level.”

Perkins, who holds a master’s degree in theology with an emphasis on moral injury, explained that moral wounds can be sustained either through one’s own actions or those of others. Deep moral injuries, she said, can also result from remaining silent before morally reprehensible actions committed by individuals or groups.

“If you break a rule in the military, you’ll get a penalty for it, while moral injury is a violation of moral codes that do not necessarily have to do with the law,” she said.

“At the same time, while physical injury is mostly addressed with medication, moral injury is more difficult to identify and then to address.”

Perkins pointed to her mission in Iraq as a trigger of a deep personal wound.

“I saw so many horrible, unimaginable things there and I felt a moral injury by supporting that war effort through my mission on the ground, seeing what people were doing to each other,” she said.

In her view, the best way to heal that kind of wound is first to understand and recognize the symptoms — including grief, depression, guilt, and suicidal ideation — with the help of a trained moral authority such as a religious leader whose guidance can help soldiers acknowledge what happened and start to forgive themselves.

Solène Tadié.
Solène Tadié.

Charles H. Gallina, a retired colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, highlighted the sacraments’ role in healing the soul.

“The real treatment of moral injury is confession,” the principal coordinator for the WTL pilgrimage told CNA, explaining that 17 chaplains are accompanying the pilgrims.

“We bring these wounded people to Lourdes so that they have the opportunity to reconnect with Christ through Our Lady, and I’m spending my time talking to them, encouraging them to go to confession, or helping them to open up with me if they don’t want to talk to anybody else,” Gallina said.

“We’ve decided to devote more resources and attention to interior wounds because we think that a lot of suicides could be avoided in that way, and that’s the reason why we’re having moral injury sessions every day.”

The Ukraine war is another focal point of this year’s pilgrimage. On May 13, the Warriors to Lourdes assembled around 3,000 prayer kits that will be shipped to Ukrainian military personnel. The kits, blessed by Archbishop Broglio, include a rosary, Our Lady of Lourdes prayer card, Blessed Michael McGivney prayer card, and vial of Lourdes holy water.

In addition, the Knights of Columbus have sponsored a Ukrainian delegation consisting of six active-duty military personnel, four mothers of fallen soldiers, two military officials, two military chaplains, and a military bishop, so that they can seek protection and consolation from Our Lady of Lourdes for their war-torn nation.

Catholic bishop questions lack of EU support as Poland aids millions of Ukrainian refugees

Bishop Krzysztof Zadarko, chairman of the Polish bishops’ council for migration, tourism, and pilgrimages. / Episkopat News.

Koszalin, Poland, May 16, 2022 / 05:08 am (CNA).

A Catholic bishop has questioned why Poland is not receiving more support from the European Union and other countries as it aids millions of Ukrainian refugees.

Bishop Krzysztof Zadarko, chairman of the Polish bishops’ council for migration, tourism, and pilgrimages, noted that thousands of refugees continued to cross into Poland from Ukraine every day.

“It is necessary to establish systemic and long-term assistance,” he told CNA. “I do not completely understand why there is no support from the European Union and other countries.”

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, over six million people have fled the fighting. More than half of them have sought sanctuary in Poland amid Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War.

Poland, a Central European country of 38 million people, joined the EU, a political and economic union of 27 member states, in 2004.

Zadarko, the auxiliary bishop of Koszalin-Kołobrzeg, northwestern Poland, said: “The scale of humanitarian aid provided by the Catholic Church in Poland is enormous. There is no parish that would not join in the aid — whether by accepting refugees or organizing collections of money and in-kind donations.”

“As the Church, we strive to understand and fulfill the words of Jesus: ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me.’”

He went on: “The whole society is involved in helping. We all feel the same desire to help the poor and the needy. It is important to note the very large participation of volunteers from all over the world, especially at the reception points.”

The chairman of the bishops’ migration council stressed that everyone had become a volunteer in Poland since February. But he underlined that the country still lacked a professionally organized volunteer network almost three months after the outbreak of war.

“Spontaneous help, which has become today a formula, even a brand of our form of assistance, is good for a short time,” he said. “We can appeal for solidarity and perseverance in this help, which is very much needed today, because the natural condition of society is weakening and exhausting, it encounters the obstacle of burnout and fatigue.”

The 61-year-old bishop stressed the need for long-term support for Ukrainian refugees living in Poland.

“It is necessary to create a systemic, long-term, and structural aid secured legally and financially — a program based on a coherent migration policy,” he said.

“We will continue to appeal not to forget about those who are already among us today, but also about the thousands of people who reach us every day from Ukraine.”

He added: “The Polish state is trying better and better, week by week, to cope with an extremely difficult situation. A government plenipotentiary for assistance to refugees from Ukraine was appointed and a special law adopted by the government, facilitating access of Ukrainian migrants to the labor market, health care, and education.”

Speaking at an international conference in the Polish capital Warsaw earlier this month, Paweł Szefernaker underlined that Poland needed help to provide for refugees’ long-term needs.

“We need a fund that adds up to billions of euros to assist not Poland, but the refugees who reach our country. We don’t want the fund for ourselves, we want the fund to help refugees,” the deputy minister at Poland’s interior ministry said.

Szefernaker told CNA: “Many representatives of governments and international organizations come to Poland for study visits, but so far this has not translated into tangible material aid.”

“I think that the Polish postulate to convene a summit of the European Union as soon as possible in order to discuss additional funds has a lot of support in our part of Europe, especially among those countries that border Ukraine.”

Bishop condemns 'abhorrently evil' slaying of 10 at Buffalo supermarket

olice on scene at a Tops Friendly Market on May 14, 2022 in Buffalo, New York. According to reports, at least 10 people were killed after a mass shooting at the store with the shooter in police custody. / John Normile/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 15, 2022 / 06:16 am (CNA).

Ten people were killed and three others injured Saturday when a teenage gunman opened fire with an assault rifle at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.

Authorities are calling the mass shooting a racially motivated hate crime and say the gunman specifically targeted the store because it is located in a predominantly Black neighborhood. Eleven of those shot were Black, while the other two victims were white, authorities said.

The gunman, identified as Payton S. Gendron of Conklin, New York, livestreamed the attack. He surrendered to police at the scene.

Bishop Michael W. Fisher of the Diocese of Buffalo issued a statement on Twitter after the shootings.

Fisher said that “what unfortunately has become an all too common occurrence in this country has now shown its abhorrently evil face in Buffalo as we have now learned that 10 innocent souls have lost their lives here.

“On behalf of the Diocese of Buffalo, I, in the strongest of terms, condemn this utterly senseless act and pray for the victims and all those impacted by this act of cowardice,” Fisher said.

“May the Good Lord guide us as we pray that our society regain respect for life and for an end to this tragic and despicable act in this beautiful city of ours. I encourage all Catholics and all people of faith to come together in prayer for the victims and for peace.”

The statement concluded: “The scourge of senseless gun violence that has taken the lives of so many across our nation and changed the lives of countless innocent men, women and children must come to an end.”

After driving some 200 miles to Buffalo, Gendron parked outside the Tops Friendly Market around 2:30 p.m. Saturday, authorities said. He began shooting in the parking lot, where he killed three people and injured another person, authorities said. He then moved inside the store, where he exchanged fire with a retired Buffalo police officer working as a security guard, killing him, authorities said.

The guard shot Gendron but the gunman’s tactical gear prevented him from being seriously injured, authorities said. Gendron proceeded to shoot more people inside the store before police arriving at the scene talked him into surrendering.

The gunman is believed to have posted a manifesto online in which he expresses racist, anti-immigrant views and claims that white Americans were at risk of being replaced by people of color, the New York Times reported.

He was arraigned on first-degree murder charges and appeared in court Saturday evening wearing a bandage over his shoulder, USA Today reported.

The White House issued a statement from President Biden on the shootings Saturday evening.

“Tonight, we grieve for the families of ten people whose lives were senselessly taken and everyone who is suffering the physical and emotional wounds of this horrific shooting. We are grateful for the bravery of members of law enforcement and other first responders who took immediate action to try to protect and save lives. The First Lady and I are praying for the victims and their families, and hearts all across this country are with the people of Buffalo,” Biden said.

“We still need to learn more about the motivation for today’s shooting as law enforcement does its work, but we don’t need anything else to state a clear moral truth: A racially motivated hate crime is abhorrent to the very fabric of this nation,” Biden continued. 

“Any act of domestic terrorism, including an act perpetrated in the name of a repugnant white nationalist ideology, is antithetical to everything we stand for in America. Hate must have no safe harbor. We must do everything in our power to end hate-fueled domestic terrorism.”

Full text of Pope Francis’ homily for the canonization Mass of 10 saints

Canonization Mass on May 15, 2022 / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, May 15, 2022 / 05:40 am (CNA).

On Sunday, Pope Francis declared 10 holy men and women to be saints of the Catholic Church before around 45,000 people during a canonization Mass in St. Peter’s Square.

At the end of Mass, the pope led people from all over the world in praying the Marian antiphon, Regina Caeli, in honor of the Virgin Mary.

Before the prayer, he said: “It is good to see that, through their evangelical witness, these saints have fostered the spiritual and social growth of their respective nations and also of the entire human family.”

“While sadly,” he continued, “distances grow in the world and tensions and wars increase, may the new saints inspire solutions of togetherness, ways of dialogue, especially in the hearts and minds of those who hold positions of great responsibility and are called to be protagonists of peace and not of war.”

Below is the full text of Pope Francis’ homily at Mass:

We have heard what Jesus told his disciples before leaving this world and returning to the Father. He told us what it means to be a Christian: “Even as I have loved you, so you must love one another” (Jn 13:34). This is the legacy that Christ bequeathed to us, the ultimate criterion for discerning whether or not we are truly his disciples. It is the commandment of love. Let us stop to consider two essential elements of this commandment: Jesus’ love for us —“as I have loved you” — and the love he asks us to show to others — “so you must love one another.”

First, the words “as I have loved you”. How did Jesus love us?  To the very end, to the total gift of himself. It is striking to think that he spoke these words on that night of darkness, when the atmosphere in the Upper Room was one of deep emotion and anxiety: deep emotion, because the Master was about to bid farewell to his disciples; anxiety because he had said that one of them would betray him. We can imagine the sorrow that filled the heart of Jesus, the dark clouds that were gathering in the hearts of the apostles, and their bitterness at seeing Judas who, after receiving the morsel dipped for him by the Master, left the room to enter into the night of betrayal. Yet at the very hour of his betrayal, Jesus reaffirmed his love for his own. For amid the darkness and tempests of life, that is the most important thing of all: God loves us.

Brothers and sisters, may this message be the core of our own faith and all the ways in which we express it: “…not that we loved God but that he loved us” (1 Jn 4:10). Let us never forget this.  Our abilities and our merits are not the central thing, but rather the unconditional, free and unmerited love of God. Our Christian lives begin not with doctrine and good works, but with the amazement born of realizing that we are loved, prior to any response on our part. While the world frequently tries to convince us that we are valued only for what we can produce, the Gospel reminds us of the real truth of life: we are loved. A contemporary spiritual writer put it this way: “Long before any human being saw us, we were seen by God’s loving eyes.  Long before anyone heard us cry or laugh, we were heard by our God, who is all ears for us.  Long before any person spoke to us in this world, we were spoken to by the voice of eternal love” (H. NOUWEN, Life of the Beloved). He loved us first; he waits for us; he keeps loving us. This is our identity: we are God’s loved ones. This is our strength: we are loved by God.

Acknowledging this truth requires a conversion in the way we often think of holiness. At times, by over-emphasizing our efforts to do good works, we have created an ideal of holiness excessively based on ourselves, our personal heroics, our capacity for renunciation, our readiness for self-sacrifice to achieve a reward. This can at times appear as an overly “pelagian” way of viewing life and holiness. We have turned holiness into an unattainable goal. We have separated it from everyday life, instead of looking for it and embracing it in our daily routines, in the dust of the streets, in the trials of real life and, in the words of Teresa of Avila to her Sisters, “among the pots and pans”. Being disciples of Jesus and advancing on the path of holiness means first and foremost letting ourselves be transfigured by the power of God’s love. Let us never forget the primacy of God over self, of the Spirit over the flesh, of grace over works.  For we at times give more importance to self, flesh and works. No, the primacy is that of God over self, of the Spirit over the flesh, of grace over works.

The love that we receive from the Lord is the force that transforms our lives.  It opens our hearts and enables us to love. For this reason, Jesus says — here is the second element — “as I have loved you, so must you love one another”. That word “as” is not simply an invitation to imitate Jesus’ love; it tells us that we are able to love only because he has loved us, because he pours into our hearts his own Spirit, the Spirit of holiness, love that heals and transforms. As a result, we can make decisions and perform works of love in every situation and for every brother and sister whom we meet, because we ourselves are loved and we have the power to love.  As I myself am loved, so I can love others. The love I give is united to Jesus’ love for me.  “As” he loved me, so I can love others. The Christian life is just that simple. Let’s not make it more complicated with so many things. It is just that simple.

In practice, what does it mean to live this love? Before giving us this commandment, Jesus had washed the disciples’ feet; then, after giving it, he gave himself up to the wood of the cross. To love means this: to serve and to give one’s life. To serve, that is, not to put our own interests first: to clear our systems of the poison of greed and competitiveness; to fight the cancer of indifference and the worm of self-referentiality; to share the charisms and gifts that God has given  us. Specifically, we should ask ourselves, “What do I do for others?” That is what it means to love, to go about our daily lives in a spirit of service, with unassuming love and without seeking any recompense.

Then, to give one’s life. This is about more than simply offering something of ours to others; it is about giving them our very selves. I like to ask people who seek my counsel whether they give alms.  And if they do, whether they touch the hand of the recipient or simply, antiseptically, throw down the alms. Those people usually blush and say no. And I ask whether, in giving alms, they look the person in the eye, or look the other way. They say no. Touching and looking, touching and looking at the flesh of Christ who suffers in our brothers and sisters. This is very important; it is what it means to give one’s life.

Holiness does not consist of a few heroic gestures, but of many small acts of daily love. “Are you called to the consecrated life? So many of you are here today! Then be holy by living out your commitment with joy. Are you married? Be holy by loving and caring for your husband or wife, as Christ does for the Church. Do you work for a living? Be holy by laboring with integrity and skill in the service of your brothers and sisters, by fighting for justice for your comrades, so that they do not remain without work, so that they always receive a just wage. Are you a parent or grandparent? Be holy by patiently teaching the little ones how to follow Jesus. Tell me, are you in a position of authority? So many people in authority are here today! Then be holy by working for the common good and renouncing personal gain” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 14). This is the path of holiness, and it is so simple! To see Jesus always in others.

To serve the Gospel and our brothers and sisters, to offer our lives without expecting anything in return, any worldly glory: this is a secret and it is our calling. That was how our fellow travelers canonized today lived their holiness. By embracing with enthusiasm their vocation — as a priest, as a consecrated woman, as a lay person — they devoted their lives to the Gospel. They discovered an incomparable joy and they became brilliant reflections of the Lord of history. For that is what a saint is: a luminous reflection of the Lord of history. May we strive to do the same. The path of holiness is not barred; it is universal and it starts with Baptism. Let us strive to follow it, for each of us is called to holiness, to a form of holiness all our own. Holiness is always “original”, as Blessed Carlo Acutis used to say: it is not a photocopy, but an “original”, mine, yours, all of ours. It is uniquely our own. Truly, the Lord has a plan of love for everyone. He has a dream for your life, for my life, for the life of each of us. What else can I say? Pursue that dream with joy. 

Pope Francis canonizes 10 new saints of the Catholic Church

Canonization Mass on May 15, 2022 / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, May 15, 2022 / 03:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Sunday recognized 10 new saints of the Catholic Church during a canonization Mass in St. Peter’s Square.

It was the Church’s first canonization since that of St. John Henry Newman and four others in October 2019.

Religious men and women, priests, and a lay man are among the 10 people who are recognized to be in heaven after living lives of exemplary holiness on earth.

“Holiness does not consist of a few heroic gestures, but of many small acts of daily love,” Pope Francis said during his homily on May 15, a sunny, warm day in Rome.

Pope Francis, who has been suffering from knee pain and has used a wheelchair to avoid walking in recent days, was able to stand for a short time and walk short distances during the Mass. He had assistance and walked visibly slower than in the recent past.

The Mass began with the rite of canonization, which included the reading of short biographies of each blessed, read by Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

A litany of saints was sung before Pope Francis recited the formula of canonization.

He declared: “For the honor of the Blessed Trinity, the exaltation of the Catholic faith and the increase of the Christian life, by the authority of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and our own, after due deliberation and frequent prayer for divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of many of our brother bishops, we declare and define Blessed Titus Brandsma, Lazarus known as Devasahayam, César de Bus, Luigi Maria Palazzolo, Giustino Maria Russolillo, Charles de Foucauld, Marie Rivier, Maria Francesca di Gesu Rubatto, Maria di Gesù Santocanale, and Maria Domenica Mantovani to be saints and we enroll them among the saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

“To serve the Gospel and our brothers and sisters, to offer our lives without expecting anything in return, or any worldly glory: this is our calling. That was how our fellow travelers canonized today lived their holiness,” Pope Francis said.

“By embracing with enthusiasm their vocation — some as a priest, others as a consecrated woman, as a lay person — they devoted their lives to the Gospel,” he said. “They discovered an incomparable joy and they became brilliant reflections of the Lord of history. For that is what a saint is: a luminous reflection of the Lord of history.”

“May we strive to do the same — the path of holiness is not barred; it is universal and it begins with baptism. It is not barred. May we strive to follow it, for each of us is called to holiness, to a form of holiness all our own,” he added.

The new saints are:

-Charles de Foucauld: A French soldier and explorer who became a Trappist monk and Catholic missionary to Muslims in Algeria. Known as Brother Charles of Jesus, he was killed in 1916 at the age of 58.

-Titus Brandsma: A Dutch priest, professor, and journalist who opposed Nazi propaganda in Catholic newspapers. He was killed by lethal injection in Dachau in 1942.

-Devasahayam Pillai: A layman from India who was tortured and martyred after converting from Hinduism to Catholicism in the 18th century.

-Marie Rivier: The founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Presentation. The Frenchwoman founded the order in 1796, at the age of 28, during the Reign of Terror.

-Maria Francesca of Jesus: A 19th-century missionary founder who crossed the Atlantic Ocean seven times by boat to establish an order of Capuchin sisters in Uruguay, Argentina, and Brazil.

-Maria Domenica Mantovani: The first general superior of the Institute of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family, which she co-founded to serve the poor, orphaned, and the sick in Italy in 1892.

-Maria of Jesus Santocanale: The founder of the Capuchin Sisters of Immaculate Mary of Lourdes in Sicily in 1910. She spent most of her free moments, day or night, in front of the tabernacle. 

-César de Bus: A French Catholic priest who founded two religious congregations in the 16th century. He was a zealous preacher and catechist, who performed many works of charity.

-Luigi Maria Palazzolo: An Italian priest who is known for having established the Sisters of the Poor, opened an orphanage, and worked for the poor. 

-Giustino Maria Russolillo: The founder of the religious congregations of the Vocationist Fathers, the Vocationist Sisters and of the Secular Institute of the Apostles of Universal Sanctification in Italy. The priest was devoted to educating young people and cultivating their vocations.

The canonization Mass was attended by an estimated 45,000 people, many of whom traveled from outside Italy.

Among those present in St. Peter’s Square were also Italian President Sergio Mattarella, French Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin, Dutch Minister of the Exterior Wopke Hoekstra, Indian Minister of Minorities Gingee K. S. Mathan, and Algerian President of the High Islamic Committee Bouabdellah Ghoulamallah.

In remarks at the conclusion of Mass before the Regina Caeli prayers, the pope greeted the official delegations from several countries which had attended the canonizations. He also greeted all the faithful from all around the world who had attended the Mass.

Pope Francis encouraged Catholic Christians to imitate the example of the saints.

“It is good to see that, with their evangelical witness, these Saints have fostered the spiritual and social growth of their respective nations and also of the entire human family,” the pope said. “While sadly in the world distances grow, and tensions and wars increase, may the new saints inspire solutions of togetherness and ways of dialogue, especially in the hearts and minds of those who hold positions of great responsibility and are called upon to be agents of peace, not war.”

“And now, let us turn to the Virgin Mary, so that she may help us joyfully imitate the example of the new saints,” said Pope Francis.

Staff Writer Kevin J. Jones contributed to this story.

Catholic cathedral attacked in Nigeria after arrests over ‘blasphemy’ killing

Holy Family Catholic Cathedral in Sokoto, northwest Nigeria. / catholicdiocese-sokoto.org.

London, England, May 15, 2022 / 00:52 am (CNA).

A mob has attacked a Catholic cathedral in Nigeria amid protests demanding the release of two suspects in the killing of a Christian student.

The Diocese of Sokoto said in a statement that youths targeted Holy Family Catholic Cathedral in Sokoto, north-west Nigeria, after police arrested two students in connection with the murder of Deborah Samuel.

Samuel, a student at Shehu Shagari College of Education in Sokoto, was beaten and burned on May 11 after being accused of posting “blasphemous” statements about Islam in a WhatsApp group.

The Sokoto diocese said: “The Sokoto State Government has declared a 24-hour curfew to help stem the ongoing protests embarked upon by Muslim youth in the state capital today.”

“During the protest, groups of youths led by some adults in the background attacked the Holy Family Catholic Cathedral at Bello Way, destroying church glass windows, those of the Bishop Lawton Secretariat and vandalized a community bus parked within the premises.”

“St. Kevin’s Catholic Church, Gidan Dere, Eastern By-pass, was also attacked and partly burnt; windows of the new hospital complex under construction, in the same premises, were shattered.”

“They were promptly dispersed by a team of mobile policemen before they could do further damage.”

“The hoodlums also attacked the Bakhita Centre located along Aliyu Jodi Road and burnt down a bus within the premises.”

The Diocese of Sokoto includes all of Sokoto State (in red), as well as parts of the neighboring states of Zamfara, Kebbi and Katsina. Himalayan Explorer, based on work by Uwe Dedering via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).
The Diocese of Sokoto includes all of Sokoto State (in red), as well as parts of the neighboring states of Zamfara, Kebbi and Katsina. Himalayan Explorer, based on work by Uwe Dedering via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Sokoto Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah thanked state governor Aminu Tambuwal for imposing the curfew to quell protests, as well as the security forces for preventing further damage to diocesan facilities.

The diocese added: “Contrary to information in circulation, we wish to disclaim that there was an attack of any sort on the residence of Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah.”

“The bishop appeals to Christians to remain law-abiding and pray for the return of normalcy. All Masses in Sokoto metropolis have been suspended until the curfew is lifted.”

Sokoto is a predominantly Muslim city of more than 600,000 people in the far north west of Nigeria, a country roughly evenly divided between Christians and Muslims.

Kukah, who has led the Sokoto diocese since 2011, expressed “deep shock” at the “gruesome murder” of Samuel in a May 11 statement.

He said: “We condemn this incident in the strongest terms and call on the authorities to investigate this tragedy and ensure that all the culprits are brought to book.”

Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah. .  Aid to the Church in Need/James Nicholls.
Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah. . Aid to the Church in Need/James Nicholls.

“The only obligation that is owed her immediate family, her fellow students, and the school authorities is the assurance that those who are guilty of this inhuman act, no matter their motivation, are punished according to the extant laws of our land.”

He went on: “This has nothing to do with religion. Christians have lived peacefully with their Muslim neighbors here in Sokoto over the years. This matter must be treated as a criminal act and the law must take its cause.”

“Meanwhile, I wish to call on all Christians in Sokoto and around to remain calm and to please pray for the repose of the soul of Ms. Deborah. It is the first obligation we owe her. May God grant her eternal rest and console her immediate family.”

Nigeria is ranked seventh on the World Watch List for the persecution of Christians compiled by the advocacy group Open Doors.

Christians in Africa’s most populous country have suffered growing insecurity in recent years amid attacks by the Islamist organization Boko Haram and the Fulani Militia, a nomadic, predominantly Muslim group.

Christian leaders have consistently accused President Muhammadu Buhari, who has led the country since 2015, of failing to tackle the violence.

Arrest made in Texas church theft, though tabernacle remains missing

The tabernacle belonging to St. Bartholomew the Apostle Catholic Church in Katy, Texas, was stolen May 8, 2022. / Screenshot from YouTube video

Houston, Texas, May 14, 2022 / 15:03 pm (CNA).

A suspect has been charged with burglary in connection with the theft of a tabernacle from a parish church in Greater Houston, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston announced Friday.

The tabernacle had been stolen from St. Bartholomew the Apostle Catholic Church in Katy, Texas, May 8.

“Thanks to the Katy Police Department's diligent efforts and skill, a suspect has been apprehended and charged with burglary. It is our understanding the theft was not motivated by last week's release of the draft Supreme Court opinion involving Roe v Wade,” the Galveston-Houston archdiocese announced May 13.

“Sadly, the tabernacle has not yet been recovered, though efforts by the Katy police are ongoing. In any case, such a theft beyond material price is immeasurably hurtful to us and speaking theologically, is sacrilegious.”

The suspect was identified by the Houston Chronicle as Christian James Meritt.

The archdiocese stated: “We offer our profound gratitude to the Katy Police for their hard work in the investigation.”

“We ask all to continue praying with us for the parish and all those involved in this matter,” it added.

International community laments Cardinal Zen's 'precarious' position

Cardinal Joseph Zen. / Twitter @krislc

Denver Newsroom, May 14, 2022 / 11:23 am (CNA).

The arrest this week of Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun in Hong Kong continues to attract international condemnation, with the U.S. bishops calling the situation “alarming.”

The cardinal’s arrest “indicates the downward trend in respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights in Hong Kong,” Bishop Malloy of Rockford, chair of the U.S. bishops’ international justice and peace committee, said May 12.

“Although Cardinal Zen has been released on bail, his situation remains precarious,” he added.

Cardinal Zen was arrested May 11 under China’s national security law with at least four others for his role as a trustee of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, which helped pro-democracy protesters in the special administrative region of Hong Kong to pay their legal fees.

The president of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ conferences, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, expressed May 14 “profound concern about the situation for human rights and threats to religious freedom in Hong Kong” in light of Cardinal Zen’s arrest.

He urged prayer for the region, and that people “speak out for freedom and justice.”

While Hong Kong, a British colony until 1997, “used to be one of Asia’s freest and most open cities,” it is now “transformed into a police state,” Cardinal Bo said, noting that freedoms of expression, press, and assembly “have all been dismantled.” He added there are signs that religious freedom “is threatened” and that religious leaders are self-censoring.

“To see a government in China break its promises made in an international treaty, the Sino-British Joint Declaration, so repeatedly and blatantly, is appalling.”

Regarding the supposed crimes of Cardinal Zen, the Burmese cardinal said: “In any system where the rule of law exists, providing assistance to people facing prosecution meet their legal fees is a proper and accepted right. How can it be a crime to help accused persons have legal defence and representation?”

He encouraged another week of prayer for China around the feast of Our Lady of Seshan, focusing on Cardinal Zen, Hong Kong, Chinese Christians, and other persecuted Chinese groups, including Uyghurs and Tibetans.

Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, wrote May 13 that since the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre, “the Chinese Communist Party’s appalling human rights record and repression of political freedoms have only worsened.”

In an opinion piece at The Washington Post, the California Democrat called Cardinal Zen “a critical voice of conscience: an embodiment of moral fortitude, who has been a constant presence as Hong Kong has led a decades-long pursuit of the freedoms promised with the handover from British rule.”

She too noted China’s failure to uphold the terms of Hong Kong’s handover: “Nearly 25 years later, China’s pledges have been utterly abandoned. Any pretense that Hong Kong’s rights would be respected has been shattered by violence and intimidation.”

“Zen’s arrest is one of the clearest signs yet of Beijing’s worsening crackdown as Hong Kong fights for its freedoms — and of Beijing’s growing desperation and fear that it is losing this fight,” Pelosi wrote.

Cardinal Zen, who was Archbishop of Hong Kong from 2002 to 2009, has long advocated for underground Catholics in mainland China.

The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, told journalists May 12 his “most concrete hope is that initiatives like this cannot complicate the already complex and not simple path of dialogue between the Holy See and the Church in China.”

Catholic University awards honorary degree to imprisoned human rights advocate Jimmy Lai

Hong Kong media tycoon and Apple Daily founder Jimmy Lai. / Napa Institute.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 14, 2022 / 09:00 am (CNA).

The Catholic University of America on Saturday awarded an honorary degree to imprisoned Hong Kong human rights advocate Jimmy Lai. His adult son, Sebastien Lai, accepted the award on his father’s behalf.

The younger Lai spoke about the university’s recognition of his father in an interview with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo earlier this week.

“It really means a lot to have the support of all these great people,” he said on “The World Over” May 12.

“I’m sure he’ll be very happy to receive this award, and I’m sure knowing that all these people are praying for him, and knowing that all these people have the same thoughts towards freedom and freedom of religion, freedom of expression, will make him incredibly happy," he added. You can watch the full interview in the video below.


A devout Catholic and media magnate, Jimmy Lai, 74, has been arrested numerous times for his pro-democracy activism and is awaiting trial on sedition charges related to the stringent national security law the China’s communist government imposed on Hong Kong in July 2020.

Most recently he was sentenced in December 2021 to 13 months in prison on a charge of unlawful assembly, stemming from his participation in an annual vigil commemorating the 1989 crackdown of pro-democracy demonstrators at Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

Authorities in Hong Kong also have shuttered Lai’s influential Hong Kong newspaper, Apple Daily.

Under the new security law, a person who is convicted of secession, subversion, terrorism or collusion with foreign forces will receive a minimum of 10 years in prison, with the possibility of a life sentence.

In a video interview produced by the Napa Institute prior to his imprisonment, Lai spoke about his Catholic faith and the role it played in his outspoken defense of human rights for the past 30 years, citing "the Lord's teaching that your life is not about yourself."

"When you lift yourself above your own self-interest, you find the meaning of life. You find you're doing the right thing, which is so wonderful. It changed my life into a different thing," Jimmy Lai said of his conversion to Catholicism in 1997.

"The way I look at it, if I suffer for the right cause, it only defines the person I am becoming. It can only be good for me to become a better person. If you believe in the Lord, if you believe that all suffering has a reason, and the Lord is suffering with me … I'm at peace with it."

Bestowed during The Catholic University of America’s commencement in Washington, D.C. Saturday, the honorary degree comes just days after Cardinal Joseph Zen, the 90-year-old archbishop emeritus of Hong Kong and outspoken advocate for human rights and religious freedom in China, was detained by Hong Kong’s national security forces. Zen baptized Jimmy Lai in 1997.

In his interview with Arroyo, Sebastien Lai spoke about Zen as a close friend of his family and said his detention was a “strong act” by Hong Kong authorities.

The younger Lai observed that “Hong Kong used to be this island off the coast of China that had its own legal system and freedoms and it just seems that these ideals keep getting degraded every single news cycle.”

He said he is able to correspond with his father, who he said draws a picture of Jesus on the back of each letter he sends.

The Catholic University of America’s Class of 2022 has 1,496 graduates. Dominican Father Joseph White, O.P., rector of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, delivered this year’s commencement speech.