Vatican News

Preparations begin for Father Arrupe's sainthood cause, postulator says

By Junno Arocho Esteves Catholic News Service

NS photo/Jesuit Father B. Reynolds

The general postulator of the Society of Jesus said he has begun compiling all of the writings of Jesuit Father Pedro Arrupe and seeking eyewitnesses who can attest to the holiness of order's late superior general. Father Arrupe is pictured in an undated photo. (CNS photo/Jesuit Father B. Reynolds) See ARRUPE-SAINTHOOD-CAUSE July 13, 2018.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The general postulator of the Society of Jesus said he has begun compiling all of the writings of Jesuit Father Pedro Arrupe and seeking eyewitnesses who can attest to the holiness of order's late superior general. 

The massive task of compiling a list of 120 witnesses, especially those who personally knew Father Arrupe, should "be finished in about a year," Jesuit Father Pascual Cebollada, the postulator, told Catholic News Service July 13.

"I can tell you that these witnesses will be from various places: from Spain where he was born; Japan where he was first sent by his superiors; and from Rome where he lived the last years of his life," Father Cebollada said. 

During a meeting in Bilbao, Spain, with Jesuits and lay associates July 11, Father Arturo Sosa Abascal, superior general of the Society of Jesus, announced that "we have seriously begun the process for the beatification of Father Pedro Arrupe."

"We are still at the beginning of the process, but Cardinal Angelo de Donatis, the vicar of Rome, has given the Diocese of Rome's approval to open the process of beatification," Father Sosa said.

Father Cebollada, who is responsible for overseeing the sainthood causes of Jesuits, told CNS that he has met with the judicial vicar of the Diocese of Rome to discuss the initial phase of gathering information regarding Father Arrupe's life and works. 

He also is tasked with collecting all of Father Arrupe's writings, which will be studied by theological censors who will "testify whether or not there is anything against the faith or tradition of the church."

"This is the type of work that we have begun to do," Father Cebollada said. "We are in the preparation phase that is done in every cause."

Once the postulator has the list of potential witnesses and has collected the writings, the formal opening of Father Arrupe's sainthood cause would be opened by the Diocese of Rome, which is the diocese where the former superior general died.

Born in Spain, Father Arrupe entered the Society of Jesus in 1927. Following the expulsion of the Jesuits from Spain in 1932, he continued his studies in Belgium, Holland and the United States. After ordination, he was sent to Japan in 1938.

According to the U.S. website of the Jesuits, Father Arrupe was serving in a Japanese mission outside of Hiroshima when the United States dropped the atomic bomb there in 1945. The Jesuit priest, who studied medicine before entering the society, and several companions "were able to give aid to 150 victims."

"(Father) Arrupe is the best of the Jesuits, although this may sound exaggerated and emotional," Father Cebollada said. "But for many of us, from different generations, Father Arrupe is an example of being rooted in Christ, a man of the church, a man who follows the calling of the Holy Spirit and, without fear, made the decisions he needed to make because he was rooted in God."

For this reason, he added, the announcement of the first steps of Father Arrupe's sainthood cause made headlines even though the formal opening of the cause "will take almost a year to complete."

In 1965, Father Arrupe was elected superior general of the Society of Jesus. He resigned in 1983. 

Father Cebollada told CNS that Pope Francis and countless other Jesuits who lived during and after Father Arrupe's death in 1991 continue to be inspired by his life and spirituality. 

The general postulator recalled Pope Francis' meeting with a group of Jesuits during his visit to Peru in January, in which the pope recalled "the grace of the generalate of Father Pedro Arrupe."

Pope Francis "gave several examples of Father Arrupe as a person who helped us Jesuits rediscover our spirituality in the 1970s," Father Cebollada said. 

Despite the pope's admiration for the late superior general, Father Cebollada told CNS that Pope Francis will play no role in preparing Father Arrupe's cause. 

"The pope is the last person in this long process of discernment in a beatification or canonization cause. He is the last judge, and, in the end, it is he who approves the decree. So, he cannot be in the middle of this; he, or his successor, is the one at the end (of the process) who would eventually sign the decree," Father Cebollada said. 

A good Christian shares the Gospel, pope says

By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service

CNS photo/Fabio Frustaci, EPA

Pope Francis waves as he leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square July 15 at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Fabio Frustaci, EPA) See POPE-ANGELUS-MISSION July 16, 2018.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- All Christians are called to be missionaries, concerned more with sharing the Gospel than with earning money or even with being successful at winning converts, Pope Francis said.

"A baptized person who does not feel the need to proclaim the Gospel, to announce Christ, is not a good Christian," the pope said July 15 before reciting the Angelus prayer with an estimated 15,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Pope Francis was commenting on the day's Gospel reading, which told about how Jesus sent the disciples out two-by-two to preach and to heal in his name.

"It was a kind of apprenticeship for what they would be called to do with the power of the Holy Spirit after the resurrection of the Lord," the pope explained.

Speaking only in the name of Jesus, he said, "the apostles had nothing of their own to proclaim and none of their own abilities to demonstrate, but they spoke and acted as emissaries, as messengers of Jesus."

"This Gospel episode concerns us, too, and not only priests, but all the baptized, who are called to witness to the Gospel of Christ in all the situations of life," the pope said.

Christians fulfill their mission, he said, when their proclamation is motivated only by love for and obedience to Christ and when the only message they share is Christ's.

In the reading from St. Mark's Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples "to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick -- no food, no sack, no money in their belts."

The poverty and simplicity of lifestyle Jesus asks for, the pope said, were meant to make the disciples of yesterday and today "free and light."

Jesus, he said, calls his disciples to set out as "messengers of the kingdom of God, not powerful managers, not unmovable functionaries (and) not stars on tour."

Although all the baptized are sent out on mission by Christ, they go with no guarantee of success, the pope said. "This, too, is poverty: the experience of failure."

Pope Francis prayed that Mary, "the first disciple and missionary of the word of God, would help us bear the message of the Gospel in the world with a humble and radiant exultation that goes beyond every refusal, misunderstanding or tribulation."

Learn from the past before looking to future, pope tells young people

By Junno Arocho Esteves Catholic News Service

CNS photo/Vatican Media

A screenshot shows Pope Francis smiling during a video message from the Vatican to young people of the Caribbean attending the July 10-23 youth assembly sponsored by the Antilles bishops' conference. (CNS photo/Vatican Media) See POPE-ANTILLES-YOUNG July 16, 2018.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The future cannot be understood without reflecting on the past and on the history and traditions passed on to young people from parents and grandparents, Pope Francis said. 

"It's from your roots that you will get the strength to continue. None of us -- neither you nor me -- were manufactured in a laboratory; we have a history, we have roots. And everything we do, the results we achieve, the beauty we create in the future, all comes from those roots," the pope said in a video message released by the Vatican July 15. 

The pope's message was sent to young people of the Caribbean attending the July 10-23 youth assembly sponsored by the Antilles bishops' conference. The conference's theme was focused on transforming the family in the Caribbean in accordance with "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love"), the pope's apostolic exhortation on marriage and family.

In his message, the pope warned young people of the danger of becoming "aging youths" who are "settled" and do not have the strength to move forward and build a better future. 

Explaining that his exhortation's fourth chapter is "the heart" of the document's teaching on the family, the pope urged them to study and examine it as a way "of moving the family forward and to transform the family of the Caribbean."

"Study it. Look at it and you will have the guidelines to move forward," the pope said. 

Love is never-ending and is an important aspect of family life with "a strength all its own," Pope Francis said. 

"St. Paul says: 'Faith and hope will end when we are united with the Lord, but love will continue with Him,'" the pope told the young people. "You are transforming something that is for all eternity; that strength (of love) that will remain forever."

Update: Middle East plays vital role in promoting Christian unity, cardinal says

By Junno Arocho Esteves Catholic News Service

CNS photo/Paul Haring

Men enjoy the waterfront in Bari, Italy, July 6. Pope Francis is meeting Christian leaders in Bari July 7 for an ecumenical day of prayer for peace in the Middle East. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis' visit to the southern Italian Adriatic port city of Bari will be an occasion to once again affirm the church's closeness with persecuted Christians in the Middle East, Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch said.

As the birthplace of Christianity, the Middle East plays a special role in promoting a path toward unity, the cardinal said.

"The Middle East, which is a martyred region, is a place where ecumenical relations are strongest and most promising, particularly between Orthodox and Catholics," said Cardinal Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Cardinal Koch, along with Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect for the Congregation for Eastern Churches, updated journalists July 3 on the pope's trip to Bari, where he will host a day of reflection and ecumenical prayer for peace in the Middle East.

The Vatican confirmed that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria and Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and all Africa, will be present at the service.

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of external relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, also will be present on behalf of Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow.

Pope Francis will meet with the patriarchs and representatives of the Eastern churches and pray before the relics of St. Nicholas, who is venerated by both Catholics and Orthodox.

They will then travel by bus to the site of the ecumenical prayer service and afterward return to the Basilica of St. Nicholas, where the pope will meet privately with the patriarchs for more than two hours.

During his Sunday Angelus address July 1, Pope Francis called on the faithful to join him and the patriarchs "in prayer on this pilgrimage of peace and unity" for the Middle East.

"We will live a day of prayer and reflection on the always tragic situation of that region where so many of our brothers and sisters in the faith continue to suffer and we will implore in one voice: 'Peace be upon you!'" the pope said.

Cardinal Koch said the persecution and suffering of Christians in the Middle East is an "ecumenical incentive" for Christians around the world.

Christian leaders, he said, must work together to avoid a scenario of "a Middle East without Christians; not for religious reasons but also for political and social reasons, because Christians are an essential element of balance in the region."

In Lebanon July 5, four Mideast church leaders met ahead of their participation in the Bari meeting. 

Hosted by Cardinal Bechara Rai, patriarch of Maronite Catholics, the meeting at Bkerke, the seat of the Maronite Church, included Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan; Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II and Armenian Apostolic Catholicos Aram of Cilicia.

The church leaders stressed the need for "working for the consolidation of a just and lasting peace in the (Middle East) region, ending the wars immediately and returning all displaced persons, refugees and kidnapped people to their countries with dignity, so that they can restore their role and preserve their cultures in their homelands."

Lebanon, with its existing population of about 4 million people, has absorbed some 1.5 million refugees from neighboring Syria.

The prelates also emphasized the importance of a "constructive and active Christian presence in the countries of the Middle East, on the basis of citizenship and equality."

Church urged to approach young people, listen to them, hear their needs

By Maria-Pia Negro Chin Catholic News Service

CNS photo/Joaquin Badajoz, The T

Daniel Solares speaks June 23 during the Region II encuentro held June 22-24 in Albany, N.Y. As a delegate to the Region II encuentro, Solares echoed a message youth ministers have been sharing around the country during the process leading up to the National Fifth Encuentro to be held this fall. (CNS photo/Joaquin Badajoz, The Tablet) See ENCUENTRO-WELCOME-YOUNG July 5, 2018. 

ALBANY, N.Y. (CNS) -- As a delegate to the Region II encuentro held recently in Albany, Daniel Solares echoed a message youth ministers have been sharing around the country during the process leading up to the National Fifth Encuentro to be held this fall.

"This is the time to listen to young people. ... And, without losing sight of the church's teachings, adapt to their needs," said Solares, a member of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Troy, New York.

Delegates to the June 22-24 regional highlighted the fact that 60 percent of Catholics under age 18 are Hispanic. So the church needs to reach out to them, welcome them and prepare them to lead, they said, because young people are not only the future but the present of the church.

Speakers at the encuentro also pointed out statistics showing an increase of Hispanics joining the ranks of the "nones" -- a term for those who claim no religious affiliation. 

"We have to approach them, listen to them, see what they need," said Solares, one of 300 encuentro delegates. 

He was one of the youth ministers on a panel underscoring the importance of engaging young people. 

At his parish, he said, he learned the importance to be open to "discover" young people and listen to them -- without being weighed down by preconceived notions about them.

One of the initiatives that came out of his parish encuentro, Solares added, was to host a crash course for young people to foster dialogue and understanding with their families. "The needs of young people are often the need to be heard," he said.

Panelist Krismely Garcia, a youth leader at St. Elizabeth Church in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, talked about the need to support young people -- even those who might seem like they don't need help.

Garcia, who moved to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic when she was 12, spoke about the differences between youth ministries in young migrants' countries of origin and the need to accompany young people during their transition.

"There is a cultural shock because you are battling to learn the language," she said. "They might feel alone but would say they don't need help."

The region's youth ministers shared ideas about the ways they foster the support of young people at breakout sessions across the eight ministerial areas prioritized at their regional encuentro. They also talked about how their parishes' encuentros were a good opportunity to engage the young people who are not typically in the pews.

At Garcia's parish, many young people who were on the peripheries become part of the parish youth group as a result of the outreach they did during their parish encuentro.

"Many young people did not know they had a church nearby," Garcia said. "Many have decided to prepare for their sacraments."

Panelist Christopher Rivera, a youth minister and director of religious education at St. Teresa Parish in Manhattan, said the parish reached out to youth "who walked away from church."

His focus, he said, was not why they left but "how we accommodate and invite them into our parish life without judgment."

"Whatever life they have been living, we need to let him know that Christ is greater than any difficulty that they living through," Rivera said.

Rivera also talked about the issue of mental health. He just received a master's degree in social work from Jesuit-run Fordham University and plans to volunteer at his parish offering individual and family counseling.

He encouraged dioceses and parishes to increase the understanding of general mental health needs and how they affect young people nationwide. He encouraged the region to help the community to have access to appropriate resources.

"We need to meet young people where they are and we cannot just say that we provide faith formation and not the mental health support," Rivera said.

Catechetical and leadership formation also is important, the delegates said.

"We need formation as Hispanic leaders," Garcia said in an interview with Catholic News Service. "We need to show that Christ is alive in our hearts."

Rivera also encouraged parishes to create bilingual programs like Jornadas de Vida Cristiana (Journeys of Christian Life), a movement where young Latinos can deepen their faith development and hone their leadership skills, so they can become peer ministers and youth ministers.

"We need to open doors for youth and young adults who have been prepared to be trusted to lead," Rivera said.

God's grace comes in unexpected, surprising ways, pope says

NS photo/Riccardo Antimani, EPA

Pilgrims take pictures as Pope Francis leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square July 8 at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Riccardo Antimani, EPA) See POPE-ANGELUS July 9, 2018.

By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- God does not conform to people's expectations, and he often presents himself and his graces in surprising ways, Pope Francis said.

"God does not conform himself to preconceptions. We have to make an effort to open our hearts and minds to accept the divine reality that presents itself to us," the pope said before praying the Angelus to those gathered in St. Peter's Square July 8.

For example, the pope said, the people of Nazareth could not understand how Jesus, a simple carpenter with no formal education, could perform miracles and outdo even the scribes with his teachings. 

Being so familiar with Jesus' family and modest roots, the residents go from being in awe to being incredulous at what the Lord had to say, Pope Francis said.

"Instead of opening themselves up to reality, they are scandalized," he said, because in their minds, God would never lower himself to speak through such an ordinary man. 

"It's the scandal of the incarnation," which still exists today, he said, when people have preconceived notions about God, which keep them from recognizing him. 

"It's about having faith; the lack of faith is an obstacle to God's grace. Many baptized live as if Christ didn't exist -- they repeat the gestures and signs of faith, but these do not correspond to a real bond to the person of Jesus and his Gospel," he said.

"The Lord invites us to adopt an approach of humble listening and waiting meekly because God's grace often presents itself to us in surprising ways that do not match our expectations," he added. 

St. Teresa of Kolkata is a good example of this, he said. She was a petite, poor nun who -- with prayer and good works -- did miraculous, great things and "revolutionized the charitable work of the church."

"She is an example for our day," the pope said, asking that people open themselves up to God's grace, truth, mission and mercy, "which is meant for everyone, without anyone excluded."

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