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TLM altar boys implore cardinal: Consider our love for Latin Mass

Altar boys swing incense in a procession in Cologne, Germany. / Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 14, 2022 / 06:00 am (CNA).

Six Latin Mass altar servers in a Washington, D.C. parish have written an impassioned letter to the Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Wilton Gregory, imploring him to consider their positive experiences in the Traditional Latin Mass when implementing the Vatican’s new guidance on the Extraordinary Form.

“For us, the Latin Mass is a refuge,” the May 4 letter, posted on the parish's Facebook page, says. “A refuge where the evils of the world and the struggles of life cannot penetrate. We believe it is the closest thing to heaven on earth and we would love to see it continue.”

Pope Francis issued a motu proprio in July 2021 called Traditionis custodes that includes new guidance and restrictions on when and where the Roman Missal of 1962, typically referred to as the Traditional Latin Mass, may be used. The document, which gives local bishops increased authority on the celebration of the Extraordinary Form, was received with much pain and confusion among Catholics who participate in the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass. 

Although many bishops issued temporary guidance for their dioceses, there have been few reports of permanent guidance issued. The Archdiocese of Washington has yet to issue permanent guidance.

Altar boys serving at a Traditional Latin Mass at St. Mary Mother of God parish in Washington, D.C. Screenshot of Facebook livestream video
Altar boys serving at a Traditional Latin Mass at St. Mary Mother of God parish in Washington, D.C. Screenshot of Facebook livestream video

The letter, written by altar boys from St. Mary Mother of God parish in the nation’s capital, says that if the Latin Mass were no longer allowed at St. Mary’s, it would feel like “losing something precious, something of ourselves, nearly comparable to losing a loved one.”

The altar boys wrote that they wish to “partake in the mystery of the Eucharist” through the Latin Mass and added that “hopefully, one or more of us will be called to serve Our Lord as a priest.”

The altar boys remain unnamed. The letter is signed, simply, “St. Mary’s Altar Boys.”

“We have been going to the Latin Mass at St. Mary's since we were born and have loved it since we were old enough to understand the beauty of it,” the letter says.

The altar boys wrote that they drive an hour to get to the church to serve Mass.

“The experience of serving the Mass is amazing and we also find great joy in teaching the young boys how to serve the Mass and leading them through the motions and prayers,” the letter says.

The letter continues: “From the Gloria on Holy Thursday to the Procession with the Infant at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and the sad but beautiful liturgy of Good Friday we enjoy every bit of partaking in the great work of Christ. Our siblings have been baptized into the Church at St. Mary's and our families have received first Holy Communions there and been reconciled with God in our first Confessions at St. Mary's.”

The letter concludes: “We ask that you consider these words when you make your decision about the continuing of this beautiful form of Jesus' Sacrifice on the Cross.”

A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Washington was not immediately available for comment Saturday.

Roe v. Wade: Could the Supreme Court's decision in Dobbs case come Monday?

Security fencing was erected outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., after the leak of a preliminary draft opinion in a pivotal abortion case that could decide the fate of the Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973 that legalized abortion nationwide. / Katie Yoder

Washington D.C., May 14, 2022 / 05:25 am (CNA).

The Supreme Court’s scheduled release of one or more opinions on Monday is fueling speculation that it may issue a decision then in the Mississippi abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

May 16 marks the first “opinion issuance day” since the leak of a draft opinion in the case that suggests justices will overturn Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973.

When the court announced that Monday would be a decision day, “I think everybody’s ears kind of perked up,” Katie Glenn, government affairs counsel for the pro-life group Americans United for Life, told CNA.

While the court traditionally waits to issue decisions in bigger, more controversial cases like Dobbs until the end of the court’s term in late June or early July, the leak of the draft opinion, written by Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., threw into question that expectation.

In the wake of the bombshell leak, first published by Politico on May 2, several pro-life leaders and organizations have said they believe the court ought to come out with the decision quickly.

"The unprecedented leak is an attempt by the Left to corrupt the Court’s deliberation process and bully the justices into changing their majority opinion,” Carrie Severino, the president of the Judicial Crisis Network, told CNA. “For the sake of the Court's own integrity, it would be appropriate to release the opinion as soon as possible.”

In response to the leak, abortion activists protested outside of justices’ private homes and attacked Catholic churches and pro-life pregnancy centers. At the same time, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. stressed that the “work of the Court will not be affected in any way” by the leaked draft, which the Supreme Court confirmed is authentic. 

Roberts and the eight other justices met in private for the first time since the leak on Thursday, May 12, the Associated Press reported. Justices could decide Dobbs on Monday, legal experts say, or they could decide any of the 37 other cases that have yet to be ruled on before the court breaks for summer recess.

Glenn of Americans United for Life outlined several possible outcomes. Justices might want to get the decision out of the way now, as people protest outside their homes, and attempt to diffuse the situation. She could also see justices waiting until June to show that the pressure and tactics directed at them do not influence the court’s behavior. 

Justices could also still be working on the main opinion or concurrences and dissents.

“It could be just a timing issue,” Glenn suggested. “They can't release it on Monday because it's not finished.” 

Monday is the earliest scheduled date for the justices to issue a decision in Dobbs. The latest date they could release it is more uncertain.

While the last Thursday of June usually marks the end of the Supreme Court’s term, Glenn said that, “depending on how all of this changes their schedule or if there are a lot of concurrences and dissenting opinions — more than normal — they very easily could go into July.”

Lauren Muzyka, an attorney who serves as the president and CEO of Sidewalk Advocates for Life, outlined two possible outcomes regarding the timing of the decision.

She told CNA that the leak, “rather than forcing the Justices to move more quickly than they’d originally intended, might actually convince them to stick to their ground and maintain their original schedule, simply out of principle.”

“Still, knowing that Justice Alito and his family have been taken to a secure location for protection right now and other Justices have been given increased security as well,” she added, “I also wouldn't be surprised if Chief Justice Roberts made a decision to push it out Monday.”

Muzyka said that, regardless, the pro-life movement’s mission remains the same: empowering women to choose life.

“Even with the furor out there at the moment — pregnancy centers and churches being vandalized plus violent commentary on social media and television — that’s not going to stop the pro-life movement from reaching mothers in crisis with the news that they have options, resources, and they deserve better than abortion,” Muzyka concluded. “And I don’t think it’s necessarily going to move the Supreme Court to change direction, either.”

How do we know if we are listening to God's voice, or our own? This author has some advice

Carrell Jamilano, author of The Alluring Voice of God. / Carrell Jamilano

Denver Newsroom, May 14, 2022 / 05:04 am (CNA).

Discernment is hard. How do we know if the voice we’re listening to is God’s, or our own? 

“The Alluring Voice of God: Forming Daily Encounters” (Liguori Publications, 2021) by Carrell Jamilano strives to offer individuals practical tips on how to hear the voice of God among all the noise of their daily lives. The engaging read offers guidance for those seeking to develop a more intimate relationship with God.

As a spiritual director and former director of young-adult ministry, Jamilano was inspired to write this book with the goal to answer the tough questions she frequently received from the young Catholics she ministered to. 

In an interview with CNA, Jamilano explained that she “wanted to give these individuals a practical resource that would help them better hear God’s voice in their everyday lives.” 

Carrell Jamilano, author of The Alluring Voice of God. Carrell Jamilano
Carrell Jamilano, author of The Alluring Voice of God. Carrell Jamilano

“It includes how to develop a more intimate relationship with God providing step-by-step guidance at the end of every chapter,” she added. 

So, how do we develop that intimate relationship with God and recognize His will? 

In the journey of discerning God’s will for each of our lives, we must first recognize the different ways in which God speaks. Jamilano offers 5 ways through which God speaks: prayer, sacred scripture, silence, tradition, and nontraditional means. 

  1. Prayer

Jamilano writes in the book that “prayer is the conduit through which we develop a personal and living relationship with Abba, our heavenly Father.” It’s personal, involves our whole heart, and it’s a conversation with God requiring us to both speak and listen. Additionally, she advises to invoke the Holy Spirit as you pray. “The Holy Spirit is a friend and advocate who leads us, already working on our behalf to make us more receptive to God’s voice,” she says.

  1. Sacred Scripture

Distinguishing God’s voice is an important part of discernment. Jamilano expresses that “taking the time to get to know God by reading Scripture is vital to understanding which voice is his.” Many examples are given of individuals who receive clarity through spending time with the Word of God. Prayers are answered and insight is gained into who we are and what God has intended for us. 

  1. Silence

In the busyness of our lives, it can be challenging to sit down in silence. When we pray, we tend to do all the talking. However, how many times do you stop and sit in silence? Jamilano emphasizes the importance of removing all distractions and giving God our full attention. She says, “When we are silent, we acknowledge God’s presence, and we give him the opportunity to respond to our prayers” and adds that “silence amplifies our inner voice.” This inner voice, Jamilano explains, is the Holy Spirit which, when we spend moments in silence, helps us to begin to notice where the Holy Spirit is calling us and realize what God is calling us to do. 

  1. Tradition

In the book, Catholic tradition is defined as, “all the practices that have been given to us by our predecessors through apostolic succession,” including all the prayers and teachings that unite Catholics. Therefore, Jamilano makes the point that the Mass, the sacraments, and our traditional prayers are all ways in which God can speak to us. 

  1. Nontraditional Means

Jamilano describes nontraditional means as “the unexpected ways God chooses to speak to us.” Examples include other people, music, a tv show or movie, art, nature, and even in the ordinary tasks of the day. 

How to Discern

Now that we are familiar with the different ways in which we can hear God’s voice speak to us, the process of discerning becomes possible. 

“Discernment is a process of uncovering God’s will about a significant decision in our life,” she defines in the book. These are the five tips she offers for discernment. 

  1. Spend time in sacred silence 

 Allowing yourself to spend time in the presence of the Lord and simply listen “enables us to confront the inner stirrings of our hearts.”

  1. Seek wisdom 

According to the author, some of the best sources include scripture, tradition, nature, people, and nontraditional means.

  1. Listen to your heart 

Reflect on your several choices, pray, and allow your heart to lead you.

  1. Test the call 

Readers are encouraged to “take a leap of faith and live out the call” after spending time in prayer, seeking wisdom and listening to your heart. 

  1. Choose love  

“Finally, pray about which choice would enable you to love God and others more fully,” Jamilano suggests in the book. Typically, the option that brings you closer to God “is exactly where you need to be.” 

Equipped with the tools to talk and listen to God, Jamilano said that she hopes her book “will help youth, young adults, and all those desiring a more intimate relationship with God to experience a profound encounter with Him and set this world aflame!”

“The message I hope readers will get from “The Alluring Voice of God” is not only that God hears our prayers, but also responds to each and every one of them out of undying love for us,” she said. “God is with us, and He desires to be part of every area of our life. He hears us, He thirsts for us, and He loves us!”

What is Roe v Wade? Six things to know.

Capitol police placed fencing in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 1, 2021, during oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, in an attempt to separate rallies by abortion supports and pro-lifers. / Katie Yoder/CNA

Denver Newsroom, May 13, 2022 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

You’ve heard of Roe v. Wade — and you’ve probably heard that the U.S. Supreme Court may be about to overturn it. 

But what exactly is Roe v. Wade, and why does it matter whether it’s overturned?

Here’s what to know:

Roe v. Wade was a legal case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States in January 1973. 

“Wade” refers to Henry Wade, the district attorney of Dallas County, Texas. “Roe” is the pseudonym of Norma McCorvey, a Louisiana woman who had filed a lawsuit in Texas to get an abortion, which was illegal at the time. Despite her involvement in the case, McCorvey never actually got an abortion. In fact, she eventually converted to Protestant Christianity and later to Catholicism, and engaged in pro-life ministry in her later years. 

In their opinion, the justices ruled that states could not ban abortion before viability, which the court determined to be 24 to 28 weeks into pregnancy. The legal reasoning centered on the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment, which the court interpreted as conferring a "right to privacy" for women seeking abortions. 

The makeup of the court at that time, which issued the ruling by a 7-2 vote, was entirely male — the first female justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, would not arrive at the court until eight years later. 

Nearly 20 years later, the court upheld Roe in the case Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The 1992 ruling said that while states could regulate pre-viability abortions, they could not enforce an “undue burden,” defined by the court as “a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus.”

What effects has Roe had since the decision was made?

The immediate effect was the legalization of abortion throughout the entire United States, until roughly the end of the second trimester. Abortion was already legal in some form in several states — such as Colorado, Hawaii, and New York— before Roe changed the status quo for the entire country. 

Abortion rates in the U.S. rose in the years following Roe, peaking at an estimated 1.4 million per year in 1990. In 2019, the latest year government figures are available, there were an estimated 630,000 abortions. 

Since Roe and Casey, every state regulation on abortion that has been proposed or passed has had to be viewed through Roe’s legal framework of “strict scrutiny”, and later through Casey’s “undue burden” standard. Dozens of state regulations have been struck down by courts over the years for being out of step with Roe, and thus unconstitutional. 

Is there a chance Roe could be overturned now?

Yes. A case currently before the court, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, involves a 2018 Mississippi law restricting most abortions after 15 weeks. The case centers on the question of “Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional,” or whether states can ban abortion before a fetus can survive outside the womb, making it a direct challenge to Roe and Casey. 

What will happen if Roe is overturned?

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the question of abortion legalization or restriction will return to the states. State policy would vary widely on the question of abortion, with the practice being automatically outlawed in several states, and explicity protected in others. 

If Roe is overturned and women who would have chosen an abortion are unable to get them, many more babies and mothers will need care than previously. Pro-life organizations are marshalling resources to offer support. 

That said, abortions will continue in states which have passed laws to protect access to it, and some states, such as Colorado, have explicitly positioned themselves as destinations where women can travel from states with restrictions to avail themselves of abortions.

The federal government under President Joe Biden has attempted preemptively to pass a bill codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law, which if passed would supersede state-level pro-life laws, but such attempts so far have failed. 

What will happen if Roe is not overturned?

There are a number of scenarios that could come to fruition that involve Roe remaining in place. 

If the Supreme Court does not overturn Roe, but upholds Mississippi’s 15-week ban, other states with a court-blocked 15-week bans, such as Arizona, could see their laws come into effect. Additionally, other pro-life states may pass 15-week bans now that they are constitutionally allowed to do so. 

​​If the Mississippi law is struck down, and Roe and Casey are affirmed, it would be a devastating setback for the pro-life movement, which has pinned its long-term legal strategy on someday having a “conservative” supermajority on the Supreme Court, as is the case today.

So… How likely is it that Roe v. Wade will be overturned? 

A leaked draft opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court, which has been confirmed to be genuine though not necessarily final, suggests that the court is indeed poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. 

The draft, reported on May 2 after being leaked to Politico, shows the court siding with Mississippi, as well as a thoroughly repudiating Roe and Casey.

“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” Associate Justice Samuel Alito writes in the 98-page draft document, which is labeled as the “Opinion of the Court.”

“It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

The Politico news report said that four justices had joined Alito in the majority, three are preparing dissents, and Chief Justice John Roberts — often a swing vote — had not yet settled on a side.

Whatever the court ultimately decides, the consequences for the country will be enormous.

Colombian bishops lament court's approval of assisted suicide

null / HQuality/Shutterstock.

Bogotá, Colombia, May 13, 2022 / 15:59 pm (CNA).

The Colombian Bishops’ Conference said it was deeply pained by the Constitutional Court’s Wednesday ruling decriminalizing assisted suicide, and urged the authorities to make decisions aimed at protecting life "and not its destruction."

By a 6-3 vote, the Colombian Constitutional Court decriminalized assisted suicide May 11. Judges Alejandro Linares, Gloria Ortiz, Diana Fajardo, Natalia Ángel Cabo, and Antonio José Lizarazo voted in favor, and Jorge Enrique Ibáñez, Cristina Pardo, and Paola Meneses voted against. Lizarazo was in charge of presenting the case to the court.

With its ruling, the court accepted the lawsuit that Lucas Correa Montoya and Camila Jaramillo Salazar of the Laboratory of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights filed in challenge to Section 2 of Article 107 of the Penal Code. The case was admitted for consideration by the court Sept. 1, 2021.

The section that the court declared unconstitutional penalized a violation with 16 to 36 months in prison "when the inducement or aid [to commit suicide] is aimed at putting an end to intense suffering resulting from bodily injury or serious and incurable disease."

In a May 12 statement, the Colombian bishops’ conference pointed out that following the teaching of the Church and "its fundamental option to fully serve the human being (...), it receives with profound pain the decision of the Constitutional Court in favor of Medically Assisted Suicide.”

The bishops called on the country's authorities to be "consistent with the inviolable value of human life, as enshrined in the Colombian Constitution,” so that "the decisions that are made are aimed at its protection, defense and care and not at its destruction."

“As a society we are called to receive life and preserve it with gratitude; to choose, in all circumstances, the necessary human, scientific and spiritual means to surround it with meaning and value”, they pointed out.

The bishops expressed solidarity with people who are suffering and recalled that "it’s important to translate the love of Christ into concrete gestures of prayer, affection, service and accompaniment in the face of pain, like the Good Samaritan in the Gospel, who healed the wounds of his brother in need with heartfelt mercy, using the 'oil of consolation and the wine of hope.'”

The bishops urged those suffering "to reject the temptation, sometimes induced by legislative changes, to use medicine to cause death."

They reaffirmed that “no healthcare worker can be forced to collaborate in the death of others; his conscience prevents him. The fundamental right to personal conscientious objection must always be guaranteed, as well as the safeguarding of the principles of the mission and vision of the Institutions in accordance with their nature, which identifies them in favor of life.”

"We understand that, based on the principle of human dignity, there is no 'fundamental right to a dignified death', but rather the right to life. The pastors of the Church reiterate, therefore, our commitment to be proclaimers of the Gospel of life and hope,” they said.

Euthanasia for terminally ill adults has been allowed in Colombia since 2015, after the Constitutional Court ordered the Ministry of Health to approve the protocol for this practice. It had first ruled in favor of euthanasia in 1997.

In October 2017 the court extended euthanasia to minors with a terminal illness, and in July 2021, the court extended euthanasia to people with non-terminal illnesses.

Spanish bill would allow girls 16 and 17 to get an abortion without parental consent

Spanish Equality Minister Irene Montero speaks after the Council of Ministers, March 3, 2020. / La Moncloa - Gobierno de España via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Madrid, Spain, May 13, 2022 / 14:50 pm (CNA).

Spain’s coalition government of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez intends to propose a bill that would legalize abortion without parental consent for 16 and 17 year old children.

Sources in the Ministry of Equality have confirmed to the EFE news agency that the text is in the last phase of negotiation in the government, formed by the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party and Unidas Podemos, and that the Council of Ministers are expected to approve it May 17.

After approval by the cabinet, the bill would be introduced to the Congress of Deputies.

The draft bill would eliminate a three day waiting period before procuring abortion, during which the mother is  informed of the rights, benefits, and public assistance for motherhood and getting an abortion.

It would also regulate conscientious objection by healthcare personnel, creating a register of conscientious objectors, and reinforce the right to abortion at public healthcare facilities, making having an abortion in a private clinic a secondary choice.

In addition, the bill would reduce or eliminate value-added tax on feminine hygiene products and offer free items at locations such as schools and prisons, provide extended paid maternity leave before giving birth, and allow medical leave for women with severe menstrual pain.

Abortion has been legal in Spain since 1985. The current abortion law, mandating parental consent for girls aged 16 and 17 to procure an abortion, was was adopted in 2015 when the People's Party was in power. The People's Party is now the largest group in the opposition.

Equality Minister Irene Montero said in October 2020 that it is "more than necessary" to repeal the parental consent law. 

Montero said in the Council of Ministers at the time that "we demand, like so many [abortion advocates] from all corners of the world, the right of all women to decide about their bodies and we demand a freely decided motherhood and above all a full and free sexual life."

And in July 2021, Montero declared that “the right of physicians to conscientious objection cannot be above women’s right to decide.”

Women in Spain can get state-paid abortion on demand during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, up to 22 weeks in cases of serious health risks to the mother or baby, and for all nine months if the fetus has anomalies incompatible with life, or an extremely serious and incurable disease.

Last month, the Spanish penal code was amended to criminalize “harassment” of women entering abortion clinics.

Pope Francis: Anglicans are ‘valued traveling companions’

Pope Francis meets with members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Dialogue Commission (ARCIC) at the Vatican, May 13, 2022. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, May 13, 2022 / 12:20 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis said on Friday that members of the Anglican Communion are “valued traveling companions” as Catholics take part in a worldwide synodal process.

Speaking to the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Dialogue Commission (ARCIC) on May 13, the pope said he hoped that Anglicans would contribute to the two-year initiative leading to the Synod on Synodality in Rome in 2023.

He said: “As you know, the Catholic Church has inaugurated a synodal process: for this common journey to be truly such, the contribution of the Anglican Communion cannot be lacking. We look upon you as valued traveling companions.”

The 85-year-old pope noted that in July he is due to travel to South Sudan with Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the Anglican Communion.

The pope, who has been making his public appearances in a wheelchair since May 5 due to a torn ligament in his right knee, said: “As part of this concrete journey, I wish to recommend to your prayers an important step. Archbishop Justin Welby and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, two dear brothers, will be my traveling companions when, in a few weeks’ time, we will at last be able to travel to South Sudan.”

“The visit was postponed on account of the troubles in that country. My brother Justin is sending his wife ahead of us for the works of preparation and charity. This is the fine work he is doing with his wife, as a couple, and I thank her very much.”

He added: “Ours will be an ecumenical pilgrimage of peace. Let us pray that it may inspire Christians in South Sudan and everywhere to be promotors of reconciliation, patient weavers of concord, capable of saying no to the perverse and useless spiral of violence and of arms.”

The Anglican Communion is the world’s third-largest Christian communion after the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church. It has an estimated 85 million members in more than 165 countries.

ARCIC was founded in 1967 by the then Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey and Pope Paul VI. Currently in its third phase, the commission’s most recent document is entitled “Walking Together on the Way.”

Pilgrims in Fatima offer prayers for peace in Ukraine

Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal on May 13, 2022. / Screenshot from Radio Espérance YouTube channel.

Rome Newsroom, May 13, 2022 / 11:36 am (CNA).

On the 105th anniversary of the first apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Fatima on Friday, pilgrims prayed for peace in Ukraine.

Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, the Substitute (Sostituto) of the Vatican Secretariat of State, offered Mass at the Marian shrine in Portugal on May 13 in the presence of two cardinals, 28 bishops, 318 priests, and thousands of pilgrims.

During the Mass, pilgrims prayed “for peace in the world, especially for the victims of the conflict in Ukraine, so that the Lord will open the hearts of political decision-makers and lead them to the discernment that only in peace is it possible for us all to be brothers.”

It was the first large gathering for the May 13 anniversary since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as since Pope Francis consecrated Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Portuguese media estimated that around 200,000 people attended the candlelight prayer vigil at Fatima on the evening of May 12.

Two Ukrainian refugee children helped to lead a decade of the rosary during the Fatima vigil.

“Tonight we walk under the loving gaze of the Blessed Virgin Mary to find peace and new light in our hearts,” Peña Parra said on May 12, according to Portugal Posts.

He added: “Especially in the intimacy of this night, Our Lady of Fatima, in addition to constant prayer to ask for the gift of peace in Ukraine and throughout the world (…), we beg you to take each one of us under your mantle and guard our lives.”

Cardinal Parolin hopes Zen arrest will not complicate Vatican-China dialogue

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, pictured on July 2, 2015. / Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

Vatican City, May 13, 2022 / 11:00 am (CNA).

Cardinal Pietro Parolin has said that he is “very sorry” about Cardinal Joseph Zen’s arrest earlier this week and hopes it will not complicate the Holy See’s dialogue with China.

“I would like to express my closeness to the cardinal who was freed and treated well,” Parolin said on May 12, according to Vatican News, the Holy See’s online news portal.

The Vatican Secretary of State, a key architect of the Holy See’s provisional agreement with Chinese authorities on the appointment of bishops, added that Zen’s arrest in Hong Kong should not be read as “a disavowal” of the agreement with Beijing, which is up for renewal this fall.

Parolin told journalists that 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.”

Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, said in an interview on the same day with an Italian television program, Tg2 Post, that the Vatican’s dialogue with Chinese Communist Party officials was “not always easy” and “the desired results” have not always been seen.

The Russia-Ukraine war

Gallagher also spoke about the war in Ukraine, where he is due to travel next week and expected to meet with the Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Kyiv on May 20.

“I believe that great powers like the United States and China, members of the Security Council, have a very important role in this moment, and we must appeal to them to fulfill their responsibilities with a deep sense of morality and urgency,” the 68-year-old English archbishop said.

The Vatican’s equivalent of a foreign minister said at another point in the interview that “Ukraine has the right to defend itself,” but added that it was essential to avoid an arms race.

Parolin, in his comments to journalists on the sidelines of an event at the Pontifical Gregorian University on Pope John Paul I, reiterated his desire “to have some clear parameters to address the issue of weapons in the most just and moderate way possible” in the Ukraine war.

“Eventually they will have to find a solution, because geography forces them to live, not together, but close together; they share a border that is many thousands of kilometers in length,” he said.

“It is a pity,“ he added, “that we still have not understood the lesson that instead of doing all this slaughter and producing all this rubble, solutions could be found sooner — what the Holy See has always hoped for.“

China-Holy See relations

The cardinal’s comments on China come as the Holy See’s provisional agreement with Beijing is due to expire in October.

It is unclear what impact Zen’s arrest will have on the discussions between the Holy See and Chinese authorities about the renewal of the agreement, which was first signed in 2018 and renewed in 2020.

Beijing’s foreign ministry office in Hong Kong said this week that the arrest of the cardinal this week was “completely irrelevant to the occupation or religious background of the persons arrested.”

“The persons concerned are suspected of conspiracy to collude with foreign countries or foreign forces to endanger national security — an act of severe nature,” the government said.

Zen, who has been released on bail, was arrested on May 11 with at least four others for his role as a trustee of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, which helped pro-democracy protesters to pay their legal fees.

More than 180 people in Hong Kong have been arrested since a sweeping National Security Law came into force in the former British colony, criminalizing previously protected civil liberties under the headings of “sedition“ and “foreign collusion.”

Pope Francis recorded a video message for Hong Kong Catholics in March in which he said: “It takes patience to hope.”

“I wish you to be good citizens and that you are courageous in the face of the challenges of the time,” the pope said.

Pope Francis: Family life more tested than ever before

Pope Francis meets participants in an international conference of moral theology in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall, May 13, 2022. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, May 13, 2022 / 10:25 am (CNA).

Family life is more tested today than it has ever been before, Pope Francis told a group of moral theologians on Friday.

“First of all, for some time ‘the family has been going through a profound cultural crisis, like all communities and social bonds,’” the pope said on May 13, quoting from his 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium.

“The very possibility of establishing a family today is often arduous and young people find so many difficulties in getting married and having children,” he said.

“In fact,” Francis went on, “the epochal changes that we are experiencing prompt moral theology to take up the challenges of our time and to speak a language that is understandable to interlocutors — not just ‘insiders’; and thus help ‘overcome adversity and contrasts’ and foster ‘a new creativity to express in the current challenges the values that constitute us as a people in societies and in the Church, the People of God.’”

The pope also noted that many families were suffering from a lack of work and dignified housing, “where they can live in peace in an age of great and rapid change.”

“These difficulties fall on family life, generating relational problems,” he said.

Pope Francis met at the Vatican with participants in an international conference on moral theology, organized by the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Pontifical Theological Institute John Paul II for Marriage and the Family Sciences.

The conference is being held on May 11-14 in Rome, on the theme of “Pastoral practices, life experience, and moral theology: Amoris laetitia between new opportunities and new paths.”

The family, Pope Francis said, played a decisive role today in the pastoral conversion of communities and the missionary transformation of the Church.

He suggested that different theological approaches should work in dialogue to help answer the question: “How can Christian families bear witness today, in the joy and labors of conjugal, filial, and fraternal love, to the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?”

“At the center of the Christian life is the grace of the Holy Spirit, received in lived faith, which prompts acts of charity,” the pope said.

“Goodness, then,” he continued, “is a call, it is a ‘voice’ that liberates and urges consciences, as the text of Gaudium et spes says: ‘In the depths of his conscience, man detects a law which he does not impose upon himself, but which holds him to obedience […] Conscience is the most secret core and sanctuary of a man. There he is alone with God, Whose voice echoes in his depths.’”

Addressing the theologians, he said: “You are all asked to rethink today the categories of moral theology in their mutual connection: the relationship between grace and freedom, between conscience, the good, the virtues, the norm and the Aristotelian phrónesis, Thomistic prudentia and spiritual discernment, the relationship between nature and culture, between the plurality of languages and the oneness of agape.”