Browsing News Entries

Vatican asks for suspension of ordinations in French diocese

Bishop Dominique Rey of Fréjus-Toulon / Claude Truong-Ngoc via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Rome Newsroom, Jun 3, 2022 / 11:00 am (CNA).

The Vatican has asked a diocese in southern France to suspend its ordinations of priests and deacons scheduled for this month after a “fraternal visit” of the diocese.

Bishop Dominique Rey of Fréjus-Toulon announced June 2 that the suspension was requested due to “questions that certain Roman dicasteries were asking about the restructuring of the seminary and the policy of welcoming people to the diocese.”

“We welcome this request with both sorrow and confidence, aware of the trial it represents above all for those who were preparing to receive ordination,” Rey said.

The announcement comes after Archbishop Jean-Marc Aveline of Marseille conducted a visitation of the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, his suffragan, at the request of the Vatican. 

Aveline is among the 21 cardinals named by Pope Francis earlier this week. He will be the first French residential prelate to receive a red hat during this pontificate.

Rey, known for his support of the traditional Latin Mass, said that he has already spoken with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and other offices of the Roman curia about the questions raised by the visitation.

“Pending the outcome of these ongoing exchanges with the Roman dicasteries, it has been requested that the diaconal and priestly ordinations planned for the end of June be postponed,” he wrote in a letter published on the diocesan website.

The French diocese’s ordinations were scheduled for the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, June 29. 

According to the French publication La Vie, last year the diocese ordained ten priests and eight deacons.

La Croix reported that in 2020, 126 priests were ordained throughout France, and that more than 60% of the country’s dioceses had no ordinations.

Rey has ordained diocesan clerics using the 1962 Roman Pontifical, and has used the same book for the ordinations of religious communities, including the Institute of the Good Shepherd.

The diocese is home to the Fraternity of St. Joseph the Guardian and to the Monastere Saint-Benoit. 

The Benedictine community, which uses the traditional Latin Mass, recently had several of its members ordained outside France by an undisclosed bishop after Rey could not envisage ordaining the men amid the scrutiny of the diocese. 

After the promulgation of Traditionis custodes, the motu proprio issued by Pope Francis in 2021 which restricted Masses celebrated in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, Rey highlighted the concerns of a number of priests and communities present in his diocese who offered Mass according to the old rite. 

“I encourage each of you to also pray for our diocese, while waiting for the situation to be clarified for the good of all,” Rey said as he announced the postponed ordinations.

“May the Spirit of Pentecost keep our hearts at peace, happy to serve and to love.”

Blessed Carlo Acutis’ tomb permanently reopened for public viewing

Carlo Acutis’ tomb is opened for public veneration in Assisi, Italy, Oct. 1, 2020. Photos courtesy of Assisi diocese. / null

Rome Newsroom, Jun 2, 2022 / 07:25 am (CNA).

Visitors to Assisi can once again see Blessed Carlo Acutis, the first millennial to be beatified in the Catholic Church, dressed in jeans and tennis shoes through a viewing glass on his tomb.

Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino removed the panel covering Acutis’ tomb on June 1, reopening it for permanent public veneration.

With the lifting of Italy’s former travel restrictions for tourists, many international pilgrims will now have the opportunity to see the young Blessed for the first time.

The archbishop of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino said that he hopes that all who come to pray at the tomb will “open themselves to the light of the Gospel and have a profound experience of faith."

Acutis’ tomb is located in Assisi’s Sanctuary of the Renunciation, a part of the Church of St. Mary Major. The sanctuary is located on the spot where a young St. Francis of Assisi is said to have cast off his rich clothes in favor of a poor habit.

In a letter written for the Sanctuary of the Renunciation’s inauguration in 2017, Pope Francis called it “a precious place where young people can be aided in the discernment of their vocations.”

Blessed Carlo Acutis was a young Catholic from Italy with a passionate devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and an aptitude for computer coding.

He died of leukemia in 2006 at the age of 15, offering his suffering for the pope and for the Church.

Despite tight travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 41,000 people visited Acutis' tomb during the diocese’s 19-day celebration of his beatification in October 2020 when it was originally opened for public viewing, according to the Diocese of Assisi.

The opening of Acutis' tomb at the time caused some confusion online as to whether the teen might have been incorrupt, which led the bishop of Assisi, Domenico Sorrentino, to clarify that the boy's body, though intact, “was found in the normal state of transformation typical of the cadaveric condition."

The tomb of Blessed Carlo Acutis remained covered from Oct. 19, 2020 until June 1, 2022. Diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino.
The tomb of Blessed Carlo Acutis remained covered from Oct. 19, 2020 until June 1, 2022. Diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino.

While the viewing glass over Acutis’ tomb had remained covered since Oct. 19, 2020, devoted pilgrims continued to visit the tomb bringing their prayer intentions with them.

Pope Francis has said that Blessed Carlo’s “witness shows today’s young people that true happiness is found by putting God in first place and serving Him in our brothers and sisters, especially the least.”

Blessed Carlo Acutis was recently named one of the patrons of the World Youth Day celebration set to take place in Lisbon, Portugal in August 2023.

Pope Francis congratulates Queen Elizabeth II on her platinum jubilee

Britain's Queen Elizabeth II stands on the Balcony of Buckingham Palace as the troops march past during the Queen's Birthday Parade, the Trooping the Colour, as part of Queen Elizabeth II's platinum jubilee celebrations, in London on June 2, 2022. / Jonathan Brady/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 2, 2022 / 06:21 am (CNA).

Pope Francis sent a congratulatory message to Queen Elizabeth II on Thursday coinciding with the United Kingdom’s joyous celebration of the 70th anniversary of her reign.

“On this joyful occasion of your Majesty’s birthday, and as you celebrate this Platinum Jubilee year, I send cordial greetings and good wishes, together with the renewed assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will bestow upon you, the members of the Royal Family and all the people of the nation blessings of unity, prosperity and peace," the pope said in a telegram to the queen.

Queen Elizabeth, who turned 96 on April 21, is England’s longest serving monarch, having ascended to the throne in 1952 at age 25 after the death of her father, King George VI. Her coronation took place the following year, on June 2, 1953.

On Thursday the United Kingdom began four days of jubilee celebrations, starting with an event called Trooping the Color, a colorful military parade in London that featured 240 horses, a Royal Air Force flyover, and a gun salute. The queen watched the parade from a balcony at Buckingham Palace.

Queen Elizabeth greets Pope Francis at the Vatican in 2014. Vatican Media
Queen Elizabeth greets Pope Francis at the Vatican in 2014. Vatican Media

Elizabeth has met four popes as queen, and one (Pius XII) as princess in 1951.

Queen Elizabeth and her late husband, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, met with Pope Francis in the Vatican in 2014.

The meeting marked the 100th anniversary of the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the United Kingdom and the Holy See. After their meeting, Pope Francis gave the couple a facsimile of Pope Innocent XI's order extending the cult of St. Edward the Confessor, and the queen in turn presented the pope with a large basket of food from the estates surrounding her homes. The items included an assortment of honey, a dozen eggs, a haunch of venison, shortbread, juice, preserves, and Balmoral whiskey.

Here's how Catholics will pray for Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee

Queen Elizabeth II arrives at the Vatican, April 3, 2014. / Lauren Cater/CNA.

Denver Newsroom, Jun 1, 2022 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

As the United Kingdom prepares to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years as monarch, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has released prayers for the occasion.

“We pray for Elizabeth, our Queen; may she continue to know the steadfast love of God and serve her people faithfully,” reads the model intention published by the bishops’ conference.

The bishops’ conference said that at all Sunday Masses this coming weekend, June 4-5, each parish in England and Wales should pray “for Her Majesty the Queen to mark her Platinum Jubilee.” Each parish should include an intention in the Prayer of the Faithful and at the end of the Mass recite the “Prayer for the Queen.”

Queen Elizabeth II acceded to the throne on Feb. 6, 1952 at the age of 25, after the death of her father, King George VI. She is the first British monarch to hold her throne for 70 years. Queen Victoria, Elizabeth II’s great-great-grandmother, ruled for 63 years and seven months.

The Platinum Jubilee has led to many celebratory events and a four-day holiday weekend beginning Thursday.

“Parishes may also wish to sing the chant ‘Domine, salvum fac’ and/or the National Anthem,” the bishops’ instruction says. The Latin chant in English reads “O Lord, save Elizabeth, our Queen and hear us on the day we call upon you.” The National Anthem of the United Kingdom is “God Save the Queen.”

The “Prayer for the Queen,” to be said following the Prayer After Communion, reads: “Almighty God, we pray, that your servant Elizabeth, our Queen, who, by your providence has received the governance of this realm, may continue to grow in every virtue, that, imbued with your heavenly grace, she may be preserved from all that is harmful and evil and, being blessed with your favor may, with the royal family, come at last into your presence, through Christ, who is the way, the truth and the life and who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

The queen is head of the Church of England, a Protestant body which broke from the Catholic Church in the 16th century. Any potential successors to the British throne who become Catholic give up their rights to become monarch. Until a 2013 Act of Parliament took effect in 2015, any potential successors who married a Catholic were barred from acceding to the throne.

About eight percent of the population in England and Wales is Catholic.

The Missionaries of Mercy are growing — and their ministry is changing lives

Pope Francis greets Father John Paul Mary Zeller during a meeting with Missionaries of Mercy at the Vatican on April 25, 2022. / Vatican Media.

London, England, Jun 1, 2022 / 04:00 am (CNA).

When the Vatican first invited priests to become Missionaries of Mercy in 2015, Father John Paul Mary Zeller, MFVA, felt a clear prompting from God.

“It was almost like a tap on the shoulder,” he said in a mid-May phone interview with CNA. “We call it a ‘signal grace,’ an actual grace, where I felt an invitation from the Lord. And immediately I just said: ‘I have to pursue this.’”

Seven years later, Father John Paul explained that being a Missionary of Mercy was not simply one more role shoehorned into his already busy life as employee chaplain of EWTN, the world’s largest religious media network.

“Being a Missionary of Mercy has become not just something that is added, but it has become the prism or the locus, almost the embodiment, the way in which I’ve lived my priesthood,” he said.

The origins of the Missionaries of Mercy

Pope Francis established the Missionaries of Mercy in the 2015 papal bull Misericordiae vultus, proclaiming the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, which ended in November 2016.

The pope said that he wanted to send out Missionaries of Mercy as “living signs of the Father’s readiness to welcome those in search of his pardon.”

Many thought that the initiative would end with the Jubilee Year. But the pope extended the Missionaries of Mercy’s mandate. And when he met with the priests this spring, he expressed delight at their continued growth.

He also highlighted a significant new development: the Missionaries of Mercy are enshrined in the new Vatican constitution, Praedicate evangelium, released in March.

“I wanted to put you there, in the apostolic constitution, because you are a privileged instrument in the Church today, and you are not a movement that exists today and will not exist tomorrow, no, you are in the structure of the Church,” the pope said.

It wasn’t entirely clear at first how the Missionaries of Mercy would fulfill their mission.

But it was soon established that their main tasks would be preaching God’s mercy and administering it in the confessional. They were also given the faculties to pardon certain sins in cases otherwise reserved to the Holy See.

Becoming a Missionary of Mercy

Father John Paul, a member of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, believes that his life up to 2015 helped prepare him to be a Missionary of Mercy.

Speaking during a month-long visit to Rome, he said: “My religious name is John Paul Mary of Divine Mercy. And I think the theme of mercy has been all throughout my life, and God’s generosity and God’s embrace.”

“In my own life, I’ve experienced the embrace of God, the forgiveness of God, and that has been such an important part of my life. And my vocation to the priesthood is being close to God’s people.”

“And that’s something that Pope Francis has emphasized a lot, the word ‘closeness,’ the closeness of God. And whenever I hear him say that, it really strikes a chord in me because God is close.”

“So many people in our world and in our culture have become so isolated. And they don’t sense and don’t experience God as close. They think that God is so far off and somehow looking at us from a distance, as the old Bette Midler song goes. I think that song is not true at all.”

Pope Francis formally commissioned the Missionaries of Mercy during a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Ash Wednesday 2016. Father John Paul said that processing into the basilica with other priests chosen for the mission was daunting.

“It was a little overwhelming just because I think none of us really truly understood what this would do to us or what this might mean for our lives,” the Pennsylvania-born priest recalled.

An extraordinary Jubilee Year

The Jubilee Year proved to be “an incredible experience,” with Father John Paul spending more time than ever before in the confessional.

“During the Jubilee Year of Mercy, we had a Jubilee Year door up in Hanceville. And a lot of people sought to go through the holy door at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Alabama.”

“It was interesting: I think people would seek me out because I was a Missionary of Mercy and not, I would say, solely because I had the special faculties to remit those unique censures that are reserved to the Holy See. But I think they saw the title. They heard about the title, ‘Missionary of Mercy.’ And perhaps maybe they thought that’s a special grace. They sought me out to go to Confession.”

Father John Paul remembered an audience that the Missionaries of Mercy had with Pope Francis before they were commissioned. The pope spoke about people who had been hurt by others in the Church, especially priests.

“And it’s so true,” Father John Paul said. “I’ve heard stories of how people have been treated by priests in the Sacrament of Confession, sometimes harshly, from a very young age, and they remember that and that has kept people away from going to Confession for decades. They remember that experience of being hurt.”

“And I heard that and really internalized it, and took it as almost my own kind of personal commission, hearing from the words of the Holy Father to reach out to people who may be on the peripheries, to reach out to people who have been away from Confession for quite some time.”

“Often when I give a presentation or a homily on Confession, I take it as an opportunity to just apologize for any way a priest has ever offended you — and I make it personal. I don’t just throw it out there and say ‘you all,’ but I try to make it personal, because the Gospel is always personal.”

Mother Angelica was always kind of famous for this. She made the Gospel tangible, real, and personal to each one of us in the way that she communicated about the Lord’s love for us.”

“And I have found that in inviting people back in a personal way, and in even apologizing for the sins and mistakes of my brother priests — it might have been 60 years ago or even longer — seeing people’s heads nod and almost sometimes tears coming out of their eyes, and that is just enough of a bridge that people have found their way back into the confessional.”

Casting the net

At least once a year, Father John Paul will lean back as he’s preaching about the Sacrament of Confession and position his arms as if he is about to throw a large net. He appeals to viewers who have been away from the confessional for two years, five years, or 15 years, rising in steady increments all the way up to 70 years.

“At that point, I’ll almost lean back like I’m getting ready to throw out a net,” he said. “And I’ll look directly at the camera, and I’ll act like I’m throwing the net out.”

Whenever he casts the figurative net, there is always at least one person who responds.

“There was one man who came back. Over 50 years, he had never stepped foot in a church, he told me. He responded to that gesture. He made an appointment with a parish priest to hear his confession.”

“And he went to Mass that Sunday and received Holy Communion after going to Confession, and he told me — and these are his words — ‘I now know what it feels like to be born again.’”

There was a tone of joy and wonder in Father John Paul’s voice as he spoke about helping people return to the Church after years away. He described the relief that they experience “after unburdening, after putting their sins before the Divine Mercy, and having their sins washed clean.”

Many people don’t know, he said, that if they have been away from Confession for a long time, they can ask the priest to guide them through the process.

“You can simply say, ‘Father, it’s been five years, 10 years, 25 years… I’ve tried to examine my conscience, but really I don’t know where to start. Can you help me?’ And any priest when they hear those words would be like ‘Of course I can help you.’”

“A lot of people think that they need to go to Confession all perfectly prepared. Usually, when we go to Confession, we try to make an examination of conscience. We try to have sorrow for our sins. But somebody that’s been away for a time may not know all of those things.”

“As Missionaries of Mercy, a lot of us have tried to be very present and open to the working of the Holy Spirit and what has drawn this person to the Sacrament of Penance, and to help them, to guide them, in their Confession.”

The future of the Missionaries of Mercy

Since 2016, U.S. Missionaries of Mercy have worked together in a way that has earned praise from the Vatican.

“We know that we can accomplish more together as a group and helping each other to understand our mandate and not simply being just lone fish out there in a pond by ourselves,” Father John Paul said.

He expressed hope that the Missionaries of Mercy would play a signficant role in the upcoming National Eucharistic Revival, the U.S. bishops’ three-year initiative to renew belief in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.

“There’s a link between confession and the Eucharist,” Father John Paul said. “So being of service to our bishops, to the dioceses, and helping people understand the link between Confession and a more worthy participation and reception of the Holy Eucharist: I hope that’s our contribution in the United States.”

Father John Paul added that meeting with some of the world’s more than 1,000 Missionaries of Mercy in Rome this spring brought home how varied the ministry is and how each priest lived it in a deeply personal way. He noted that his own ministry had developed in an unexpected direction during the coronavirus crisis.

“During the pandemic, I started in a ministry for adult children of divorce,” he said. “And we know this culture is plagued by divorce and separation in marriage. There are so many of us who are adult children of divorce.”

“My parents divorced when I was 24 years old and first started seminary. So I knew it was something that affected me in my life. And during the pandemic, I came across this ministry called Life-Giving Wounds.”

“I went on their retreat and it really touched my life. It really struck a chord in my own personal life and helped me to address areas in my life that were wounded by my parents’ divorce and separation. And from that experience, I am now a volunteer chaplain for Life-Giving Wounds.”

“That’s just one example in my own life of how I’ve lived out this mission of mercy, this mandate the Holy Father’s given me, is to help be involved in that ministry of Life-Giving Wounds and to help adult children of divorce and separation.”

Muslim and Protestant politicians receive Communion at German Catholic event

Bishop Gebhard Fürst of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, Germany. / Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart.

Stuttgart, Germany, Jun 1, 2022 / 02:45 am (CNA).

A Muslim politician and at least one Protestant politician have received Communion at Masses celebrated by bishops during a multi-day Catholic event in Germany.

The same event, held on May 25-29, reportedly barred organizers of the German March for Life from having a stall.

Muhterem Aras, a Turkish-born Muslim and prominent state parliamentarian of Germany’s environmentalist Greens, received Communion at the opening Mass in Stuttgart, southern Germany, celebrated by local Bishop Gebhard Fürst, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

While Aras received the Eucharist, Sabine Foth, president of the Protestant state synod, “kept her distance ‘out of respect for the bishop,’” said the local newspaper Stuttgarter Nachrichten.

CNA Deutsch contacted the Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart for comment but had not received a response at the time of publication. At least one Protestant politician did receive Communion at a later date.

The Katholikentag (“Catholics Day”) is a biannual event organized by the local diocese together with the Central Committee of German Catholics, a lay organization supported by the German bishops’ conference.

This year, the event made headlines ahead of its opening when a pro-life organization accused organizers of barring it from having a stall.

The Federal Association for Life oversees the March for Life in Berlin. When applying for a stand at the Katholikentag, it was reportedly told by organizers that they were “unable to determine that your organization is clearly Christian,” according to a statement by the association’s president Alexandra Maria Linder.

Another well-known Protestant politician received Communion personally from Bishop Georg Bätzing, chairman of the German bishops’ conference, at the same event.

Thomas de Maizière, a former defense minister and interior minister who served in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Cabinet for 12 years, was seen receiving the Eucharist from Bishop Bätzing, reported CNA Deutsch.

An image of Bätzing giving Communion to the prominent Protestant was posted on Twitter.

A spokesperson for the German bishops’ conference confirmed that Bätzing had been approached by de Maizìere before Mass and the politician subsequently received Communion from the bishop.

The bishops’ spokesperson added there is “not yet full church Communion between the Protestant and Catholic churches and therefore no general communion. A Protestant Christian who has examined himself, shares the faith in the presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist, and comes to the Lord’s Table may receive Holy Communion on a case-by-case basis.”

Bätzing has repeatedly expressed qualified support for intercommunion with Protestants, telling journalists in February 2021 that it was necessary to respect the “personal decision of conscience” of those seeking to receive Communion.

Bätzing also led an ecumenical study group that published the 2019 document “Together at the Lord’s Table,” proposing a “Eucharistic meal fellowship” between Catholics and Protestants.

The situation triggered a response by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in September 2020.

In a four-page critique and letter to Bätzing, the doctrinal congregation emphasized that significant differences in understanding of the Eucharist and ministry remained between Protestants and Catholics.

“The doctrinal differences are still so important that they currently rule out reciprocal participation in the Lord’s Supper and the Eucharist,” it said.

“The document cannot therefore serve as a guide for an individual decision of conscience about approaching the Eucharist.”

The CDF cautioned against any steps toward intercommunion between Catholics and members of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD).

Following the Vatican intervention, Bätzing reaffirmed his view that intercommunion with Protestants should be possible.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, the Swiss president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, also expressed serious misgivings about the “Eucharistic meal fellowship” proposal.

There was little sign of such a fellowship being wilfully orchestrated in Stuttgart, CNA Deutsch reported, quoting local media as saying that there was some confusion about who could receive Communion, with one Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion telling a Protestant visitor: “I don’t know. I only know that this is the Body of Christ.”

Despite the controversies, a survey showed that most Catholics are not interested in the event, CNA Deutsch reported. Attendance numbers are dwindling, while the costs are extensive, with the Stuttgart event expected to cost more than 10 million euros (around $11 million).

Real Madrid offers European Cup to the Virgin of Almudena

Real Madrid offers the Champions League trophy to Our Lady. / Archimadrid / Luis Millán

Lima, Peru, May 31, 2022 / 12:25 pm (CNA).

Real Madrid CF returned Sunday to Spain after winning the EUFA Champions League final, and offered the Virgin of Almudena both this trophy and that it won April 30 by winning the Spanish football league.

Real Madrid won the May 28 Champions League Fiinal 1-0 against Liverpool F.C. The match was played in Paris and the winning goal was scored by Vinicius Junior in the 59th minute. This is the 14th time that Real Madrid has won the European football competition.

The team, which was received by tens of thousands of fans in the streets of the Spanish capital May 29, went to Almudena Cathedral in the evening and was received by Cardinal Carlos Osoro Sierra of Madrid.

It is not the first time that Real Madrid has offered the Champions League trophy to Our Lady.

During the visit, Cardinal Osoro greeted the players "with affection and joy", saying that "it is stimulating to share a path with others, to support each other in the search for success.”

As reported by the Archdiocese of Madrid, the cardinal thanked them for taking the name of the Spanish capital to as many corners as did Saint Isidore the Farmer, "a simple man with presences on all continents," to whom a Holy Year is being dedicated in the Archdiocese of Madrid.

During the brief ceremony, Real Madrid’s public relations director, former footballer Emilio Butragueño, read some petitions, one of which asked that those present experience "the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary."

Pope Francis prays rosary for peace in Ukraine and around the world

Pope Francis prays the rosary for peace in Rome’s Basilica of St. Mary Major, May 31, 2022. / Vatican Media.

Rome Newsroom, May 31, 2022 / 11:10 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Tuesday prayed the rosary for peace in Ukraine and around the world.

The pope recited the rosary before the statue of Mary Regina Pacis (Mary, Queen of Peace) at Rome’s Basilica of St. Mary Major on May 31, at the end of the Month of Mary.

The pope meditated on the Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary in union with Marian shrines around the world, including the Shrine of the Mother of God in Zarvanytsia, western Ukraine.

The shrines were connected via video link and shown on the Vatican’s live stream of the event.

Before the recitation of the rosary, a bouquet of white flowers brought by Pope Francis was placed at the foot of the statue and the pope read an introductory prayer.

Marian shrines around the world join the rosary for peace in Rome’s Basilica of St. Mary Major, May 31, 2022. Screenshot from Vatican News YouTube channel.
Marian shrines around the world join the rosary for peace in Rome’s Basilica of St. Mary Major, May 31, 2022. Screenshot from Vatican News YouTube channel.

“O Mary, Mother of God and Queen of Peace, during the pandemic we gathered around You to ask for Your intercession. We asked You to support the sick and give strength to medical staff; we implored mercy for the dying and to wipe away the tears of those who suffered in silence and loneliness,” he said.

“This evening, at the end of the month especially consecrated to You, here we are again before You, Queen of Peace, to beseech You: grant the great gift of peace, end the war soon which has been raging for decades now in various parts of the world, and which has now invaded the European continent as well.”

He went on: “We are aware that peace cannot be the result of negotiations alone nor a consequence of political agreements alone, but is above all an Easter gift of the Holy Spirit.”

“We have consecrated the warring nations to your Immaculate Heart and asked for the great gift of the conversion of hearts. We are confident that with the weapons of prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and the gift of your grace, the hearts of men and the fortunes of the whole world can be changed.”

“Today we raise our hearts to You, Queen of Peace: intercede for us with Your Son, reconcile hearts filled with violence and vengeance, straighten thoughts blinded by the desire for easy enrichment, on all the earth may Your enduring peace reign.”

The statue of Mary Regina Pacis at Rome’s Basilica of St. Mary Major. Screenshot from Vatican News YouTube channel.
The statue of Mary Regina Pacis at Rome’s Basilica of St. Mary Major. Screenshot from Vatican News YouTube channel.

The 85-year-old pope sat in a wheelchair facing the statue of Mary Regina Pacis, in the basilica’s left aisle. The image was commissioned by Pope Benedict XV to ask for the Virgin Mary’s intercession to end the First World War.

The sculptor Guido Galli depicted Mary with her left arm raised, commanding the war to end, and in her right arm, she holds the Child Jesus, who is poised to drop an olive branch symbolizing peace.

Announcing the rosary for peace on May 26, the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization said that the pope wanted “to offer a sign of hope to the world, suffering from the conflict in Ukraine and deeply wounded by the violence of the many wars still active.”

It added that the pope would be joined at the basilica by children who had recently made their First Communions or received the Sacrament of Confirmation, as well as families from Rome’s Ukrainian community.

Several people seated in the basilica wore clothes in the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag. Around 900 people were present, including senior Vatican cardinals, Swiss Guards, and refugees.

The basilica also contains the icon of Our Lady Salus Populi Romani (Protection of the Roman People), which the pope visited before departing.

After praying the five Sorrowful Mysteries, the congregation sang the Salve Regina and recited the Litany of Loreto.

The pope read a final prayer and then offered his blessing.

He said: “Grant to your faithful, Lord our God, that they may always enjoy health of body and spirit; through the glorious intercession of Mary Most Holy, Queen of Peace, save us from the evils that now grieve us and lead us to joy without end. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) declares its 'full independence'

Onufriy, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), at a liturgy in Kyiv, May 8, 2016. / Sergento via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Denver Newsroom, May 28, 2022 / 13:45 pm (CNA).

A council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) on Friday resolved on its “full self-sufficiency and independence,” distancing the Church from Russian Orthodoxy.

The decision comes amid the third month of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has been prominently supported by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow.

“The Council adopted relevant amendments and additions to the Statutes on the administration of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, indicating the full self-sufficiency and independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” the Church resolved May 27 in Kyiv.

The council also condemned the Russo-Ukrainian War, gave terms for dialogue with the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, and broached the possibility of making chrism, which has been considered a sign of autocephaly in the Russian tradition.

“The council condemns the war as a violation of God’s commandment Thou shalt not kill,” it said, and it expressed its “disagreement with the position of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia regarding the war in Ukraine.”

It asked that Russian and Ukrainian authorities continue to negotiate. 

Given the difficulties of communication amid the war, diocesan bishop were granted “the right to independently make decisions on certain issues of diocesan life that fall within the competence of the Holy Synod or the primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, with the subsequent informing of the hierarchy, when the opportunity is restored.”

Considering the flight of millions of Ukrainians amid the war it resolved to support the diaspora, expressing “its deep conviction that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church cannot leave its faithful without spiritual care, must be close to them in their trials, and organize church communities … It’s necessary to further develop the mission abroad among Orthodox Ukrainians in order to preserve their faith, culture, language, and Orthodox identity.”

Eastern Orthodoxy in Ukraine is split between the UOC-MP and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which was granted autocephaly by the Ecumenical Patriarch in 2019. Since the Russian invasion, some parishes of the UOC-MP have transferred to the OCU, and some have stopped commemorating Patriarch Kirill in the Divine Liturgy.

The council expressed “deep regret over the lack of unity in Ukrainian Orthodoxy,” saying it was “particularly disappointing” that the granting of autocephaly to the OCU “deepened misunderstandings and led to physical confrontation.”

Dialogue could resume, it said, if the OCU stops “the forcible seizures of churches and forced transfers of parishes” of the UOC-MP; “realize that their canonical status … is actually not autocephalous”; and “resolve the issue of the canonicity of the OCU hierarchy, because for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as for most Local Orthodox Churches, it’s quite obvious that in order to recognize the canonicity of the OCU hierarchy, it’s necessary to restore the Apostolic Succession of its bishops.”

50 years ago, the paths of 2 heroic Polish blesseds crossed

Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński ordains Father Jerzy Popiełuszko to the priesthood on May 28, 1972. / Muzeum Ks. Jerzego Popiełuszki.

London, England, May 28, 2022 / 04:00 am (CNA).

Fifty years ago, the lives of two heroic Polish Catholics crossed at St. John’s Archcathedral in Warsaw’s Old Town.

A photograph from that day — May 28, 1972 — shows Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński clasping the hands of Jerzy Popiełuszko between his own during the 24-year-old’s ordination to the priesthood.

Today, both men are blesseds and their portraits can be seen in churches throughout Poland.

Great suffering lay ahead of them, but that spring day was joyful. Wyszyński ordained a total of 31 new priests: an impressive number given the hardships that Poland’s Catholics suffered under a communist regime that sought to stifle the Church.

The cardinal spoke only briefly at the ordination ceremony. In his address, preserved by the Instytut Prymasowski Stefana Kardynała Wyszyńskiego, he told the new priests that they were being sent out to serve the People of God in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

“We prayed,” Wyszyński said, “to the Holy Spirit to strengthen this work in them, so that the new priests would confess God’s truth bravely, in their words and in their lives, before the People of God.”

Father Jerzy Popiełuszko did indeed “confess God’s truth bravely” — and paid for it with his life.

Father Jerzy Popiełuszko. Courtesy of the Polish bishops' conference.
Father Jerzy Popiełuszko. Courtesy of the Polish bishops' conference.

After the communist authorities declared martial law in 1981, he celebrated monthly “Masses for the Homeland” at his church in Warsaw’s Żoliborz district. Thousands of people attended and his defiant homilies were broadcast on Radio Free Europe.

In 1982, the priest’s home was bombed. A year later, he was arrested on false charges, but released after a public outcry. The year after that, he evaded a “traffic accident” designed to kill him.

But on Oct. 19, 1984, the authorities finally caught up with him. He was driving back to Warsaw after celebrating Mass in Bydgoszcz when three Security Service agents waved to him to pull over, pretending that their vehicle had broken down.

They are said to have beaten him with a rock until he died, and then tied weights to his body and flung it into a reservoir.

His remains were recovered on Oct. 30, generating a wave of revulsion that undermined what little was left of the regime’s legitimacy.

Popiełuszko was beatified on June 6, 2010, years before the man who ordained him was declared blessed.

Cardinal Wyszyński led the Polish Church during some of the most challenging times of the communist era. He was placed under house arrest in 1953 for three years after he refused to subordinate the Church to the state.

He is known today as the “Primate of the Millennium” because as Primate of Poland he oversaw a nine-year program of preparation culminating in a nationwide celebration of the millennium of Poland’s baptism in 1966.

He also helped to secure the approval of Karol Wojtyła as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, which ultimately led to Wojtyła’s election as Pope John Paul II in 1978.

Wyszyński died in 1981 of abdominal cancer, perhaps mercifully not living to see the fate of the young man he ordained to priesthood.

Wyszyński was beatified on Sept. 12, 2021. His liturgical memorial is celebrated for the first time on May 28. The day is not only the anniversary of his death, but also of the ordination of Father Popiełuszko.

Justyna Galant in Warsaw contributed to this article.