Vatican News


Cardinal Parolin launches Catholic app for military personnel

By Junno Arocho Esteves Catholic News Service

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, speaks from the Vatican in a message encouraging military personnel to download the "Catholic Military Connect" app in this still image taken from a video released May 13, 2022. The app provides easy access to answers to military questions, prayers for the military, testimonies, and connects military personnel with chaplaincies around the world. (CNS photo/courtesy Tweeting with God)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, encouraged men and women in the military to download a new app designed to connect them to the Catholic faith and provide the consolation of prayer in times of war and uncertainty.

In a video message to active-duty and veteran military personnel attending an annual pilgrimage in Lourdes May 13, Cardinal Parolin said the "Catholic Military Connect" app is a useful tool that "will accompany you on your journey of faith."

"I believe that the app will be immensely helpful to all military personnel and, in a particular way, to young men and women who in this important sector of civil service, seek to grow in personal friendship with Jesus Christ and in the understanding and appreciation of the beauty and richness of our Catholic faith," he said.

The app, which is available for free in Google Play and Apple App stores, was developed by the Apostolat Militaire International, an organization dedicated to promoting Christian values in military life, and Tweeting with God, an initiative that informs users on questions on faith.

The Catholic Military Connect app provides easy access to "answers to military questions, prayers for the military, testimonies, inspiring quotes and spiritual first aid," according to a May 13 press release.

"In this difficult time, it is important to disseminate the Catholic Military Connect app to meet the spiritual needs of Catholic military personnel and give them comfort in whatever theater of operation they find themselves in," the statement said.

In his message, Cardinal Parolin conveyed greetings from Pope Francis "who has often spoken of the dignity and the importance of the military services for the promotion of the cause of peace."

"Your vital role in promoting the cause of peace, freedom and the common good has become all the more evident in recent weeks, even amid the tragedy of war, in the role you have played in the large-scale planning and provision of humanitarian aid to so many of our displaced and suffering brothers and sisters," he added.

The Italian cardinal said that in an "increasingly digital world," the Catholic Military Connect app can help members of the armed forces share and build "a sense of fellowship in our shared faith, our pursuit of holiness and our efforts to bring the light of faith to our daily duties in the service of the larger community."

The app, which also connects military personnel with chaplaincies around the world, "will prove particularly useful" and "help to build real, not merely virtual, worship communities," Cardinal Parolin said.

"All of us, in whatever position or role we play in society, are called to advance the Gospel vision of a world redeemed and reconciled, in which all the members of the human family can live in security, freedom, justice and peace," he said.

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Poverty driving children into forced labor must be tackled, pope says

By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, speaks from the Vatican in a message encouraging military personnel to download the "Catholic Military Connect" app in this still image taken from a video released May 13, 2022. The app provides easy access to answers to military questions, prayers for the military, testimonies, and connects military personnel with chaplaincies around the world. (CNS photo/courtesy Tweeting with God)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Poverty and inequality, which are major factors in child labor exploitation, must be addressed, Pope Francis said in a written message.

"Sadly, too many small hands are busy plowing fields, working in mines, traveling great distances to draw water and doing work that prevents them from attending school, to say nothing of the crime of child prostitution, which is robbing millions of children of the joy of their youth and their God given dignity," the pope wrote in a message to a global conference against child labor.

"Since poverty is, in fact, the chief factor that exposes children to labor exploitation, I am confident that your deliberations will not fail to address the structural causes of global poverty and the scandalous inequality that continues to exist among the members of the human family," the pope told conference participants.

Pope Francis' message was addressed to Guy Ryder, director-general of the International Labor Organization, on the occasion of the fifth Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labor being held May 15-20 in Durban, South Africa. Archbishop Peter B. Wells, apostolic nuncio of South Africa, read the pope's message to the assembly May 16.

Sending his "warm greetings and prayerful good wishes" to those attending the conference, the pope said he hoped the conference would raise awareness and promote a commitment to combating the problem of child labor.

"While significant progress has been made in eliminating the scourge of child labor from society, this tragedy has been worsened by the impact of the global health crisis and the spread of extreme poverty in many parts of our world where the lack of decent work opportunities for adults and adolescents, migration and humanitarian emergencies condemn millions of young girls and boys to a life of economic and cultural impoverishment," he wrote.

Pope Francis wrote that he hoped the conference would lead to greater commitment from relevant leaders and international and national organizations in "working to find appropriate and effective ways of protecting the dignity and rights of children, especially through the promotion of social protection systems and access to education on the part of all."

"The way we relate to children, the extent to which we respect their innate human dignity and fundamental rights, expresses what kind of adults we are and want to be and what kind of society we want to build," he wrote.

The Vatican is committed to working in ways that help the international community persevere in its efforts to fight child labor exploitation "so that children will be able to enjoy the beauty of this stage of life, while also cultivating dreams for a bright future," the pope wrote.

The World Day Against Child Labor will be marked June 12 and have the theme "Universal Social Protection to End Child Labor."

A report released by the International Labor Organization and UNICEF in 2021 estimated some 160 million children -- almost one in 10 -- worldwide were caught up in forced child labor, an increase of 8.4 million children over the previous four years.

The report said it found "a significant rise in the number of children aged 5 to 11 years in child labor, who now account for just over half of the total global figure." The number of children aged 5 to 17 years who were involved in work that is hazardous to their health, safety or morals had "risen by 6.5 million to 79 million since 2016."

Pope tells grandparents to leave grandkids their legacy of wisdom

By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service

Vietnamese-American photographer Nick Ut gives Pope Francis a copy of his famous 1972 photograph "The Terror of War," also known as the "Napalm Girl." As a girl, Phan Thi Kim Phúc, left, was featured in the photograph. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis told older people to use retirement as a time to serve others and to sow the seeds of their wisdom.

When people retire, starting the new chapter in life requires "a creative attention, a new attention, a generous availability," the pope said during his general audience in St. Peter's Square May 11.

"The previous skills of active life lose their constraint and become resources to be given away: teaching, advising, building, caring, listening ... preferably in favor of the most disadvantaged who cannot afford any learning or who are abandoned in their loneliness," he said.

Communities, he said, must understand "how to benefit from the talents and charisms of so many elderly people who are already retired, but who are a wealth to be treasured."

The pope continued his series of talks dedicated to the meaning and value of "old age" and reflected on the biblical figure of Judith, a pious widow, who, as a young woman, "had won the esteem of the community with her courage" in killing the commander-in-chief of the threatening armies of Nebuchadnezzar.

With her heroism, she lived "to the fullest the mission the Lord had entrusted to her," the pope said, and then, as an older widow with no children, she saw "it was time for her to leave the good legacy of wisdom, tenderness and gifts for her family and her community."

When people reach retirement age, they usually can expect to have many years ahead of them, he said. They may wonder what they should do and ask, "how can I grow in authority, in holiness, in wisdom?"

If there are grandchildren, there will be "the task, joyful and tiring," of looking after them, he said.

"The little ones learn the power of tenderness and respect for frailty" from their grandparents, and grandparents learn that "tenderness and frailty are not solely signs of decline: for young people, they are conditions that humanize the future," he said.

But sometimes family members live far apart, there are fewer children, and employment and housing conditions may be "unfavorable" to an intergenerational family, or families may not want grandparents to have an educational role or to do more than just help out when needed, he added.

With so many new demands on today's families, he said, they must learn to "reshape the traditional connection between the generations" and make their "conditions more human, more loving, more just."

"When we think of a legacy," he said, "at times we think of goods, and not of the goodness that is done in old age, and that has been sown, that goodness that is the best legacy we can leave," not just goods or assets.

The pope encouraged people read the Book of Judith to be inspired by her example. "Judith is not a pensioner who lives the emptiness it brings melancholically: she is a passionate mature woman who fills the time God gives her with gifts."

"This is how I would like all our grandmothers to be: courageous, wise and who bequeath to us not money, but the legacy of wisdom, sown in their grandchildren," he said.


Dutch priest proposed as patron saint of journalists

By Junno Arocho Esteves Catholic News Service

Blessed Titus Brandsma, a Dutch Carmelite martyred at the Dachau concentration camp, is pictured in an undated photo. Journalists signed a letter to Pope Francis requesting that Blessed Brandsma, who will be canonized May 15, 2022, be named a patron saint of journalists, alongside St. Francis de Sales. (CNS photo/courtesy Titus Brandsma Institute) 

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Among the 10 men and women Pope Francis will proclaim as the Catholic Church's newest saints is a Dutch priest and journalist who stood his ground against Nazi ideology and paid for it with his life.

The example of Blessed Titus Brandsma, who is scheduled to be canonized May 15, prompted dozens of journalists to sign an open letter asking the pope to name the Dutch Carmelite as the patron saint of journalists.

St. Francis de Sales, who was declared in 1923 as the patron saint of writers and journalists, "is undoubtedly a holy man of faith and of great merit, but he was not a journalist in the modern sense of the word. Titus Brandsma was," the letter stated.

"We, Catholic journalists, recognize in Titus Brandsma a professional peer and fellow believer of considerable standing. Someone who shared the deeper mission that should drive journalism in modern times: a search for truth and veracity, the promotion of peace and dialogue between people," it said.

For many, Blessed Brandsma's staunch opposition to promoting Nazi propaganda is particularly relevant today due to the increasingly polarized media landscape and the prevalence of "fake news."

According to his biography, he was named spiritual adviser to the Dutch Association of Catholic Journalists in 1935 and became its president after the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands. He worked with the Dutch bishops' in crafting their message opposing Nazi ideology and the forced publication of propaganda in Catholic newspapers.

Despite the risks, Blessed Brandsma visited the offices of Catholic media outlets around the country over the course of 10 days, encouraging editors to resist pressure to publish propaganda.

His actions drew the ire of the Nazi regime who arrested him in 1942. Several months later, he was transported to the Dachau concentration camp where he was killed by a lethal injection of carbolic acid.

St. John Paul II, who beatified the Dutch priest in 1985, regarded him as a "valiant journalist" and a "martyr of freedom of expression against the tyranny of the dictatorship."

Truth "is the indissoluble ally of freedom of expression, and therefore the main coefficient of progress in all fields of human life," the late pope told journalists in 1986. "It is no coincidence that regimes oppressing freedom create for their own use 'truths' that are instead blatant lies."

Blessed Brandsma's dedication to the truth and journalistic integrity comes at a time when journalists around the world increasingly face high risks of imprisonment, violence and even death for carrying out their work.

According to a report by UNESCO published in January, 55 journalists and media professionals were killed in 2021. Two-thirds of those killed, the report said, "died in countries where there is no armed conflict."

In an interview with Vatican News published May 10, Caroline Weijers, the Dutch ambassador to the Holy See, said Blessed Brandsma's persecution and death due to his opposition to Nazi ideology "is a warning of how careful we have to be about freedom of expression and freedom of the press."

"The number of journalists who are being attacked and sometimes even murdered worldwide is very worrying," Weijers said.

"It will touch on our rule of law, on elements like transparency, democracy, control by the people of governments, because the people need to be informed. So, I think his life and his death are a warning to all of us," she added.

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Faith, fortitude, martyrdom, miracles: Pope will recognize 10 new saints

By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- After a long pandemic pause, Pope Francis is scheduled to celebrate a Mass May 15 for the canonization of 10 men and women: five from Italy, three from France, one from India and one from the Netherlands.

The last canonization ceremony was celebrated Oct. 13, 2019, and included St. John Henry Newman.

The "big names" -- globally -- in the newly recognized heavenly host are soon-to-be St. Charles de Foucauld, who lived as a hermit in North Africa, and soon-to-be St. Titus Brandsma, a Dutch Carmelite martyred at the Dachau concentration camp.

Those canonized will bring to 909 the saints Pope Francis has recognized officially during his pontificate; the figure includes the 813 "Martyrs of Otranto," who were killed in the southern Italian city in 1480 and declared saints in 2013.

In view of the canonization ceremony, the Congregation for Saints' Causes has published a brief biography of each of the 10 new saints and information about the miracle attributed to their intercession needed for their canonizations. While the church does not require the recognition of a miracle for the beatification of a martyr, it generally requires one for all blesseds to be declared saints.

The 10, listed in the order the congregation lists them, are:

-- Blessed Devasahayam Pillai, an Indian layman and father who was born to an upper-caste Hindu family in 1712 and converted to Christianity in 1745. The Vatican said his refusal to participate in Hindu ceremonies and his preaching about "the equality of all people," denying the Hindu caste system, led to his arrest, torture and his death in 1752.

The only details the Vatican provided about the miracle in his case was that it involved "the resuscitation of a fetus at the 20th week of pregnancy of an Indian woman" and that a diocesan inquiry into the case was held in 2015.

-- Blessed César de Bus, the France-born founder of the Fathers of Christian Doctrine, a religious congregation dedicated to education, pastoral ministry and catechesis. Born in 1544, he enjoyed life and parties until he had a conversion experience in his early 30s and began dedicating his life to prayer and helping the poor. Ordained to the priesthood in 1582, he was a pioneer in educating the laity in the faith, using illustrations he painted himself and songs and poetry he wrote. He died in 1607.

The Vatican said the miracle approved for his canonization was the healing in 2016 of a young woman in Salerno, Italy, who suffered from "acinetobacter baumannii meningitis" with a "cerebral hemorrhage from a high-flow AVM rupture with acute hydrocephalus."

-- Blessed Luigi Maria Palazzolo, an Italian priest and founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Poor. Born in 1827, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1850. The Vatican biography said, "At that time there was an abundance of clergy and, like the majority of priests from wealthy families who stayed at home and generously dedicated themselves to good works, Don Luigi chose to devote himself to young people" at an oratory in a poor neighborhood. He opened a school that offered evening classes in reading and writing to men and boys before opening a separate oratory for girls and founding the Sisters of the Poor to run it.

The miracle recognized in his sainthood cause involved an Italian Sister of the Poor who had an intestinal perforation, sepsis, multi-organ failure and septic shock. In early 2016, when doctors had proclaimed her death imminent and had stopped trying to reverse the damage, she recovered.

-- Blessed Giustino Maria Russolillo, an Italian who, on the day of his ordination to the priesthood in 1913, vowed to establish a religious order dedicated to promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life, but his first attempt was stopped by his bishop. Eventually, though, he founded the Society of Divine Vocations for men and the Vocationist Sisters.

The healing in April 2016 of a young member of the Society of Divine Vocations who was in a coma had acute respiratory failure and rhabdomyolysis (muscle death) after an epileptic seizure was the miracle accepted for his canonization.

-- Blessed Charles de Foucauld was born in Strasbourg, France, in 1858. He strayed from the faith during his adolescence, but during a trip to Morocco, he saw how devoted Muslims were to their faith, which inspired him to return to the church and, eventually, to join the Trappists. After living in monasteries in France and in Syria, he sought an even more austere life as a hermit. Ordained to the priesthood in 1901, he lived among the poor and finally settled in Tamanrasset, Algeria. In 1916, he was killed by a band of marauders. His writings inspired the foundation, after his death, of the Little Brothers of Jesus and the Little Sisters of Jesus.

The miracle approved for his cause involved Charle, a carpenter's apprentice working on restoring a chapel in Saumur, France, who fell over 50 feet, hitting a bench whose armrest pierced his left side and came out at the back at the base of his rib cage. According to the Little Brothers of Jesus, Charle did not pass out, got up immediately to seek help and, after surgery, was discharged from the hospital after a week. "He went back to work two months after the accident without suffering any physical or psychological ill-effects," the order said. The accident occurred Nov. 30, 2016, the eve of the centenary of Blessed Charles' death.

-- Blessed Anna Maria Rubatto, founder of the order now known as the Capuchin Sisters of Mother Rubatto, was born in Carmagnola, Italy, in 1844 and died in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1904.

The miracle accepted in her cause involved the healing in March 2000 in Colonia, Uruguay, of a young man suffering from "cranio-encephalic trauma with severe subarachnoid hemorrhage, severe coma, endocranial hypertension and diffuse axonal damage," the Congregation for Saints' Causes said.

-- Blessed Maria Domenica Mantovani, co-founder and first superior general of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family. Born in 1862 in Castelletto di Brenzone, Italy, she dedicated her life to serving the poor and needy as well as assisting the sick and the elderly. She died in 1934.

The miracle in her case involved the healing in 2011 of a 12-year-old girl in Argentina who, during a medical procedure, suffered convulsions, cardiac arrest and respiratory failure. Touched with a relic of Blessed Mantovani and supported by the prayers of her family, the girl was extubated two days later and went on to recover, the Vatican said.

-- Blessed Titus Brandsma was born in Oegeklooster, Netherlands, in 1881 and entered the Carmelites in 1898. Ordained in 1905, he was sent to Rome for further studies and, while there, became a correspondent for several Dutch newspapers and magazines. When he returned home, he founded the magazine Karmelrozen and, in 1935, was named chaplain to the Dutch Catholic journalists' association. During World War II, he was arrested and sent to Dachau for treason after defending Jews and encouraging Catholic newspapers not to print Nazi propaganda. He was killed with a lethal injection in 1942 at the age of 61 and cremated at the camp.

The miracle in his cause involved Carmelite Father Michael Driscoll, former pastor of St. Jude Church in Boca Raton, Florida, who is now 80 years old. In 2004 he had been diagnosed with severe, stage 4, metastatic melanoma and began praying to Blessed Titus and putting a relic of the martyr's clothing on his head and neck. When the medical board of the Congregation for Saints' Causes looked at the case, the Vatican said, "of the disease, which was particularly malignant and invasive, there was no longer any trace, even after more than 15 years."

-- Blessed Marie Rivier, a Frenchwoman who founded the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary in 1796 during the time of the French Revolution, when many Catholic convents were closed and religious activities were outlawed. She was born in 1768 and died in 1838.

The miracle recognized for her canonization, the Vatican said, occurred in 2015 in Tagbilaran, Philippines. It involved the disappearance of hydrops -- a buildup of fluid in tissues and organs -- in a fetus just over 12 weeks into the pregnancy. The baby girl was born healthy Sept. 6, 2015.

-- Blessed Carolina Santocanale, also known as Blessed Mary of Jesus, an Italian nun born in 1852, who founded the Congregation of the Capuchin Sisters of the Immaculate of Lourdes. She died in Palermo in 1923.

The Vatican said the miracle in her cause involved a young bride suffering from two autoimmune disorders, myasthenia gravis and Hashimoto's thyroiditis, and documented infertility. Yet, after prayers to Blessed Carolina, in December 2016 she discovered she was pregnant. And, six months after her first child was born healthy, she became pregnant again and gave birth to another healthy baby.

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God does not disown his children, pope tells LGBT Catholics

By  Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis said he wants LGBT Catholics to know that God is a father who "does not disown any of his children."

The pope's comment was among the short answers to three questions posed in a letter by Jesuit Father James Martin, editor at large of America magazine and a driving force behind its new website, outreach.faith, which provides news and resources for LGBT Catholics, their families and the people who minister with them.

Pope Francis' letter, in Spanish, is dated May 8; it was posted on Outreach the next day. And Vatican Media also published a translation in Italian.

Father Martin asked the pope, "What do you say to an LGBT Catholic who has experienced rejection from the church?"

"I would have them recognize it not as the 'rejection of the church,' but instead 'of people in the church,'" the pope responded.

"The church is mother and calls together all of her children," he continued. "Take for example the parable of those invited to the feast: 'the just, the sinners, the rich and the poor, etc.'"

A church that is "selective," or makes some pretext about who is "pure," he said, "is not the Holy Mother Church, but rather a sect."

Asked what the most important thing LGBT people should know about God, Pope Francis responded, "God is Father and he does not disown any of his children. And 'the style' of God is 'closeness, mercy and tenderness.' Along this path you will find God."

Father Martin also asked the pope what he would like LGBT people to know about the church, to which the pope responded that they should read the Acts of the Apostles. "There they will find the image of the living church."


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