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10 things you need to know about how Fatima's 'Miracle of the sun' ended an Atheist regime

Crowds looking at the Miracle of the Sun, occurring during the Our Lady of Fatima apparitions. / Public Domain.

Fatima, Portugal, Oct 13, 2021 / 09:15 am (CNA).

October 13, 1917 marked the last Marian apparition in Fatima, and the day in which thousands of people bore witness of the miracle of the dancing sun; a miracle that not only proved the validity of the Fatima Marian apparitions, but also shattered the prevalent belief at the time that God was no longer relevant.

Dr. Marco Daniel Duarte, a theologian and director of the Fatima Shrine museums told CNA these 10 things we need to know about the impact of the miracle during those days in Portugal.

1) If one were to open philosophy books during that period, they would likely read something akin to the concept conceived by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who boldly asserted in the late 1800s that “God is dead.”

2) Also, in 1917, Portugal, like the majority of the world, was embroiled in war. As World War I raged throughout Europe, Portugal found itself unable to maintain its initial neutrality and joined forces with the Allies. More that 220,000 Portuguese civilians died during the war; thousands due to food shortages, thousands more from the Spanish flu.

3) Few years before, in 1910, a revolution had led to the establishment of the First Portuguese Republic in 1910 and a new liberal constitution was drafted under the influence of Freemasonry, which sought to suppress the faith from public life.

4) Catholic churches and schools were seized by the government, and the wearing of clerics in public, the ringing of church bells, and the celebration of public religious festivals were banned. Between 1911-1916, nearly 2,000 priests, monks and nuns were killed by anti-Christian groups.

5) This was the backdrop against which Mary, in 1917, appeared to three shepherd children – Lucia dos Santos, 10, and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, 9 and 7 – in a field in Fatima, Portugal, bringing with her requests for the recitation of the rosary, for sacrifices on behalf of sinners, and a secret regarding the fate of the world.

6) To prove that the apparitions were true, Mary promised the children that during the last of her six appearances she would provide a “sign” so people would believe in the apparitions and in her message. What happened on that day – Oct. 13, 1917 – has come to be known as the “Miracle of the Sun,” or “the day the sun danced.”

7) According to various accounts, a crowd of some 70,000 people – believers and skeptics alike – gathered to see the miracle that Mary had promised: The rainy sky cleared up, the clouds dispersed and the ground, which had been wet and muddy from the rain, was dried. A transparent veil came over the sun, making it easy to look at, and multi-colored lights were strewn across the landscape. The sun then began to spin, twirling in the sky, and at one point appeared to veer toward earth before jumping back to its place in the sky.

8) The stunning miracle was a direct, and very convincing contradiction to the atheistic regimes at the time, which is evidenced by the fact that the first newspaper to report on the miracle on a full front page was an anti-Catholic, Masonic newspaper in Lisbon called O Seculo.

9) The Miracle of the Sun, was understood by the people to be “the seal, the guarantee that in fact those three children were telling the truth.”

10) Even today, “Fatima makes people change their perception of God,” since "one of the most important messages of the apparitions is that even if man has separated God from his existence, God is present in human history and doesn’t abandon humanity.”

This article was originally published on CNA on Oct. 12, 2017.

Blessed Carlo Acutis’ doctors recall his last days in hospital

The tomb of Blessed Carlo Acutis in Assisi, Italy. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Rome Newsroom, Oct 12, 2021 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

Fifteen-year-old Carlo Acutis died within a week of being diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia, offering his suffering for the pope and for the Church. Following his beatification on Oct. 10, 2020, his doctors and hospital chaplain recalled their memories of his final days.

Fr. Sandro Villa was the hospital chaplain of St. Gerald Hospital outside of Milan who gave Acutis the Anointing of the Sick and Holy Communion on Oct. 10, 2006, the day before Acutis went into a coma due to a brain hemorrhage caused by the M3 subtype of acute myeloid leukemia. 

Villa shared at an event in Assisi Oct. 13, 2020 that he was touched by Acutis’ “composure and devotion” in receiving the sacraments in the hospital room.

“In a small room, at the end of the corridor, I found myself in front of a boy. His pale but serene face surprised me -- unthinkable in a seriously ill person, especially an adolescent,” he said.

“I was also amazed by the composure and devotion with which, albeit with difficulty, he received the two sacraments. He seemed to have been waiting for them and felt the need for them.”

Before his cancer diagnosis, Carlo Acutis had a great devotion to the Eucharist. From a young age, he expressed a special love for God, even though his Catholic parents had stopped attending Mass. 

As he grew older, he started going to daily Mass, often dragging his family members along with him. He made Holy Hours before or after Mass and went to confession weekly. 

With his aptitude for computer programming, Acutis built websites to inform others about Eucharistic miracles and Marian apparitions around the world. On his site, he told people, “the more often we receive the Eucharist, the more we will become like Jesus, so that on this earth we will have a foretaste of heaven.”

For Villa, this administration of the sacraments would be his only encounter with Acutis, but he said that the look of serenity on Carlo’s face was something that stayed with him.

“After a few years … I learned that he was declared ‘Venerable.’ I was amazed that the Lord had allowed me to meet him, if only for a few moments,” he said.

Villa continued: “I decided to learn about his life. I discovered that he was in love with the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and I therefore began to better understand some of his words.”

Dr. Andrea Biondi and Dr. Mòmcilo Jankovic, who treated Acutis in the pediatric clinic of St. Gerald Hospital, recorded their memories together in a paper that was read aloud at the event.

They said: “Carlo was like a meteor with a quick passage through our ward; leukemia took him away before we could get to know him even a little. However, his sweet eyes remain engrained [in our memories]. His gaze was full of attention … of courage, of love, of strong empathy.”

“His faith in God, which he had wanted and still wanted to pass on to others, to his neighbor, shone through him … His gentle eyes … taught us a lot: life, whether short or long must be lived intensely for oneself, but also and above all for others.”

Acutis’ heart stopped beating on Oct. 12 -- a date which is now celebrated as a local feast in the Diocese of Assisi and Archdiocese of Milan. His parents had desired to donate his organs, but they were too compromised by leukemia to be donated.

Today Blessed Carlo’s heart is considered a relic and is contained in a reliquary in Assisi that is inscribed with his words: “The Eucharist is my highway to heaven.”

This article was originally published on CNA on Oct. 16, 2020.

Dean resigns after filming of questionable music video in Toledo Cathedral

The Toledo Cathedral in Toledo, Spain. / Michal Osmenda via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Toledo, Spain, Oct 12, 2021 / 17:45 pm (CNA).

Fr. Juan Miguel Ferrer Grenesche, dean of the Toledo Cathedral, has submitted his resignation following the improper use of the sacred space in a music video which includes sensual dance scenes within the church.

“The Dean expresses his request for forgiveness from the institution, on his own behalf and on behalf of the various elements of the cathedral chapter, insofar as they have had responsibility, for all the errors and faults that may have been committed by word, deed and omission in the recent events,” the Archdiocese of Toledo said Oct. 12.

Fr. Ferrer’s resignation will take effect Oct. 16. His term was to have ended Nov. 5.

The archdiocese said that the priest expressed his “full communion” with Archbishop Francisco Cerro Chaves  “and the Diocesan Church.”

Spanish rapper C. Tangana released a music video for his song "Ateo" (Atheist) Oct. 7, made with Argentine singer Nathy Peluso. In the video, both perform sensual and provocative dances inside the cathedral.

The archdiocese also pointed out that "by internal regulations of the cathedral chapter, in effect for years, the money collected for extraordinary activities of the Cathedral is used for charitable works."

C. Tangana paid 15,000 euros ($17,000) for the use of the cathedral in the music video.

In a statement to the Spanish press reported by Europa Press Oct. 12, Fr. Ferrer said that "communication failures" complicated the case, and hat he doesn’t regret his first statement, in which he justified the recording of the music video.

What he said at that time "is true and I explained the reasons why permission was given,”  but he acknowledged that during the recording of the performance there were no representatives of the cathedral to realize "the things that later caused some people to be scandalized. That was a failure."

Fr. Ferrer also said that requests for permission for this type of recordings are not normally communicated to the archbishop, which "may be another failure that would have avoided some of the difficulty that we have experienced."

"I acknowledge all criticism and that I have been wrong, but when they correct me, I like it to be done with charity and respect," he said.

However, the priest said that for him this case is "water under the bridge, and what I want is for everyone to be serene and live in peace and that there not be any tension."

“I am convinced that the music of one kind of guy or another, from our faith, what we are looking for is to do good to people and I hope that after all this pain and this controversy we will all strive to do some good to one another,” he said.

Fr. Ferrer had said Oct. 8 that  “the video presents the story of a conversion through human love. The lyrics of the song are precise: ‘I was an atheist, but now I believe, because a miracle like you had to come down from heaven.’”

In addition, the dean criticized "certain attitudes of intolerance," to which, he said, "is opposed by the understanding and acceptance of the Church, as manifested in the final sequences of the video."

The Toledo archdiocese said Oct. 8 that the archbishop “was absolutely unaware of the existence of this project, its content and the final result,” and that he “deeply regrets these events and disapproves of the images recorded” in the cathedral.

The Archbishop of Toledo asked "humbly and sincerely for forgiveness from all the lay faithful, consecrated people and priests, who have felt justly hurt by this misuse of a sacred place."

"From this moment, the archdiocese will work to review the procedure followed to prevent something similar from happening again," the statement added.

"To do this, a protocol for the recording of images for public broadcasting in any church in the archdiocese will be immediately drawn up.”

About 30 people gathered outside the cathedral Oct. 10 to pray a reparative rosary.

The Archbishop of Toledo announced Oct. 9 there will be an act of reparation carried out during an Oct. 17 Mass.

“As a result of recent events, I want to add to this celebration an invitation to conversion, reparation for sins and purification that this time of grace and interior renewal requires, and that we will carry out in a special penitential act of the Mass,”  the archbishop said.

Why women didn’t need Roe to get ahead: An interview with the head of Secular Pro-Life

Pro-life feminists participate at the Women's March in Washington D.C. on Jan. 21, 2017. / Addie Mena/CNA

Washington D.C., Oct 12, 2021 / 16:15 pm (CNA).

This December, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in the abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Many legal experts say it presents the most momentous test yet of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide. At issue is the constitutionality of Mississippi’s 2018 law banning most abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy.

As with any high-profile Supreme Court case, dozens of amicus curiae, or “friend of the court,” briefs have been filed both in support of and in opposition to the Mississippi law.

Kelsey Hazzard, an attorney and the founder and president of the group Secular Pro-Life, is one of the signers of an amicus brief supporting Mississippi’s pro-life law. The brief argues that women’s “social, economic, and political opportunities” were already increasing before Roe, and that abortion is not necessary for women’s socioeconomic success 

The following is a transcript of CNA’s interview with Hazzard. It has been edited for length and clarity.

Tell me about yourself. What is your personal and faith background? How did you come to the place where you are professionally?

I grew up attending a United Methodist church, which is officially a “pro-choice” denomination. Abortion was never discussed, from the pulpit or anywhere else. As a result, the pro-life position was not framed as “religious” for me. Once I was old enough to understand what abortion was, I came to the pro-life movement simply by applying my general values, e.g. sticking up for the “little guy.” When I left Christianity for unrelated reasons (it just stopped making sense to me), my pro-life position was unaffected because it was always secular. 

Professionally, I am a lawyer in private practice; my pro-life advocacy is 100% volunteer. I earned my B.A. at the University of Miami and my J.D. at the University of Virginia School of Law, and held leadership roles in the pro-life student organizations for each [university].

The amicus brief lays out an argument that, contrary to the Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade, abortion has not facilitated women’s advancement and, in fact, has hurt women. Can you walk me through the brief’s argument and evidence?

In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Supreme Court said that even if Roe was wrong, it couldn’t correct its deadly error because American women had come to rely upon abortion for their professional advancement. This is the infamous “reliance interest.” And yet in the decades since Casey, abortion rates have plummeted dramatically while women have enjoyed ever-increasing gains in the workplace. Forget “correlation does not equal causation”—they don’t even have correlation! 

As a professional woman myself, the fact that the highest court in the land attributes my success to the mass slaughter of preborn babies fills me with disgust. That is the polar opposite of my values, and I deserve credit for my own hard work. 

How did it come about that you signed the amicus brief in this case?

One of Secular Pro-Life’s board members heard about the pro-life feminist brief in progress from another signatory, and we jumped on it!

Have you signed amicus briefs in similar cases in the past? If not, why was this case different for you?

This was my first opportunity to join an amicus brief. 

Many are saying this case has a chance of overturning Roe v. Wade. Do you agree?

Yes, it does! 

Have you always considered yourself to be pro-life, or was there a moment or event that convinced you of the position?

I can’t point to a moment. I’ve been pro-life ever since I heard about abortion.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions or myths about the pro-life position that you encounter in your professional environment?

That we’re all Trump supporters, that we’re all Bible thumpers, that we’re all… anything, really, is a myth! Our movement is incredibly diverse.

Do you ever feel you are treated differently from others because you are a pro-life woman? In the pro-life movement, do you feel as though you are treated differently due to your atheism? 

The pro-life movement has welcomed me with open arms. In my experience, women are the majority of engaged pro-life advocates. Pro-life female leadership is commonplace and unremarkable. Pro-life atheism is less common statistically – according to Pew, religiously unaffiliated people are about 12% of abortion opponents in the United States – but most religious pro-lifers welcome the collaboration.   

We hear a lot about the pro-life position being “anti-science.” Do you face this accusation often? If so, how do you respond? 

Pro-life is pro-science. The pro-choice movement has become almost a caricature of itself at this point. I mean, talking about “cardiac activity” or “flutters” to avoid saying “heartbeat”? Come on. 

That said, I think the “clump of cells” talking point is on its way out; the truth is just too difficult to avoid. Instead it’s the ad hominem attacks taking the lead: “you hate women,” “you don’t care about kids after they’re born,” that sort of thing.

What is it like leading an organization of secular pro-lifers? How do you counter the "get your rosaries off my ovaries" criticism? 

Leading an organization of secular pro-lifers is an honor, and also reminiscent of herding cats. Secular Pro-Life has become a home not only for pro-life atheists and agnostics, but also for members of minority religious groups like Wiccans, Mormons, Muslims, and more liberal Christians who don’t fit the “religious right” label. 

I’ve gotten to meet people from all walks of life. It’s really emphasized for me how unique every human being is – and how great a loss the world experiences with every abortion.   

What do you hope for the future of the pro-life movement? How can other faithful women support your efforts?

We must remember that success in Dobbs is only the beginning. I worry that people will get complacent, thinking that reversal of Roe was the goal. No: saving lives is the goal.  The post-Roe abortion industry is not going to accept defeat quietly. They are going to enact ever more extreme laws in pro-abortion states. They are already trying chemical-abortion-by-mail schemes. Increasingly, abortion advocates dehumanize not only children in the womb, but their defenders as well. It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Is there anything you would like the pro-life movement, or pro-life people in general, to try to improve on, especially as the possibility of a post-Roe country becomes more and more likely?

Pro-lifers have spent decades building up an infrastructure of pregnancy resource centers, maternity homes, and other support systems for pregnant mothers in crisis. We need to continue that investment and also do a much better job of advertising what is already out there. 

What good is a scholarship for pregnant students if the candidate who needs it doesn’t hear about it? 

More broadly, we need to fix the mainstream media’s capture by pro-abortion interests, so pro-life efforts to help needy families can get fair coverage.

Before Supreme Court, Kentucky’s attorney general asks to intervene in defense of pro-life law

Matthew Kuhn, Principal Deputy Solicitor General of Kentucky (right), along with Daniel Cameron, Attorney General of Kentucky (center) and his wife Makenze (left), outside the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 12, 2021. / Matt Hadro/CNA

Washington D.C., Oct 12, 2021 / 14:10 pm (CNA).

The office of Kentucky’s attorney general appeared at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, asking to be allowed to intervene in defense of the state’s dismemberment abortion ban.

Kentucky’s pro-life law, H.B. 454, passed the state legislature in 2018 and was signed into law by then-governor Matt Bevin (R). It bans the practice of live dismemberment abortions, a second-trimester abortion procedure, after eleven weeks of pregnancy. The law was subsequently challenged by the state’s only abortion facility, and was overturned in a federal court.

While the current governor and health secretary do not support the law, Kentucky’s attorney general David Cameron (R) is seeking to intervene in defense of the law and to have it reconsidered at the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. When the Sixth Circuit would not allow Cameron to intervene in the case, the attorney general appealed to the Supreme Court.

After oral arguments concluded on Tuesday, Cameron said he was “excited” and “optimistic” about his case, calling it an “honor” to seek to defend the law.  

“Basically, what it [the law] said in overwhelming bipartisan fashion, is in Kentucky, we want to make sure that we show the compassion in the heart of the men, women, and children of all 120 counties in saying that if this [dismemberment abortion] procedure is occurring – again, we don’t necessarily want it to occur but if it is to occur – you don’t want the baby to feel pain in the womb,” Cameron said.

Cameron noted that he and his wife are expecting a baby in January. “The issue is more important to us,” he said, “knowing that we’ve got a little one on the way.”

“This is an important issue for Sisters for Life, this is an important issue for Kentucky Right to Life. This is important, again, for the men, women, and children of all of our 120 counties.”

The court is considering not the constitutionality of the law itself, which was struck down by a federal district court, with the Sixth Circuit upholding that decision. Rather, the court is considering whether Cameron is lawfully allowed to intervene in the case. As Cameron had only moved to defend the law once the Sixth Circuit upheld the lower court's decision, the circuit court ruled he could not intervene in the case.

In his brief at the Supreme Court, Cameron argued that as attorney general he had the “final say” on whether to accept the lower court’s decision. On Tuesday, the state’s principal deputy solicitor general Matthew Kuhn argued that the office should be allowed to defend the law in court.

Cameron is seeking to intervene “so the commonwealth could exhaust all appeals in defense of its law,” Kuhn said. Cameron is not doing so in a personal capacity, but in his lawful capacity as state attorney general, Kuhn said.

“This court’s case law instructs that acting for a state is a distinct capacity, because everyone agrees that the attorney general did not participate in that capacity in district court, he is not jurisdictionally barred from doing so now,” Kuhn said.

Kuhn told reporters on Tuesday that the state had created a “failsafe” for situations when government officials would not defend state laws. According to Kuhn, state law allows the attorney general to intervene in court in such cases to uphold the law.

Pro-life groups advocated on Cameron’s behalf on Tuesday.

“As chief enforcer of the Commonwealth’s laws, Attorney General Cameron should have the power to defend the will of the people to protect the unborn, stated Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List.

“The legislature of Kentucky, elected by the people of Kentucky, passed the law to prevent the horrific deaths of unborn babies by dismemberment abortions,” stated Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life. 

French Catholic leader discusses ‘clumsy wording’ on confessional seal with interior minister

Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort, pictured in 2015. / Olivier LPB via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Paris, France, Oct 12, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

The president of the French bishops’ conference discussed the “clumsy wording” of his recent comments about the confessional seal with the country’s interior minister on Tuesday.

In a statement after the meeting at the interior ministry’s headquarters in Paris on Oct. 12, the bishops’ conference said that Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort and Gérald Darmanin reflected on an interview that the archbishop gave after the publication of a watershed report on clerical abuse in France.

In the interview with France Info, Moulins-Beaufort was pressed on whether the confessional seal took precedence over French laws.

“The seal of confession imposes itself on us and in this, it is stronger than the laws of the Republic,” he said.

France has a mandatory reporting law, with sanctions for failing to stop or report a crime.

“Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort was able to discuss with Gérald Darmanin the clumsy wording of his answer on France Info last Wednesday morning,” the bishops’ conference statement said.

“The state has the task of organizing social life and regulating public order. For us Christians, faith appeals to the conscience of each person, it calls to seek the good without respite, which cannot be done without respecting the laws of the country.”

The final report of the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (CIASE), issued on Oct. 5, estimated that 216,000 children were abused by priests, deacons, monks, or nuns from 1950 to 2020.

The independent commission, established by the French bishops in November 2018, spent 30 months investigating abuse within the Catholic Church led by Jean-Marc Sauvé, a senior civil servant.

Among the report’s 45 recommendations was a request for the Church to reconsider the seal of confession in relation to abuse.

The bishops’ conference statement quoted Moulins-Beaufort as saying: “I ask forgiveness of the victims and all those who may have been hurt or shocked by the fact that the debate sparked by my remarks on France Info about confession took precedence over the reception of the content of the CIASE report and the consideration of the victims.”

The Vatican has strongly defended the confessional seal in response to mandatory reporting laws introduced around the world.

In June 2019, the Apostolic Penitentiary issued a note reaffirming the inviolability of the sacramental seal.

The bishops’ conference statement noted that Darmanin, who is responsible for France’s religious affairs, initiated the meeting. It said that the two men discussed the CIASE report, which it described as “remarkable.”

It noted that the French bishops’ conference (CEF) and the Conference of Religious in France (CORREF) had asked Pope Francis to grant Sauvé and his colleagues an audience.

“The extent of sexual violence and aggression against minors revealed by the CIASE report requires the Church to re-read its practices in light of this reality. Work is therefore needed to reconcile the nature of confession with the need to protect children,” the statement said.

The French bishops will address the CIASE report and its recommendations at their plenary assembly on Nov. 3-8.

“Along with the bishops of France, Archbishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort invites parishes, movements, and communities to read this report, to share it and to work on it, as it seems essential that all welcome the numerous testimonies of victims that it contains and draw the necessary conclusions,” the bishops’ conference statement said.

“The reality of sexual violence and aggression against minors within the Church and in society calls women and men of goodwill, believers or not, to work together in the service of the protection of the youngest, of the reception and accompaniment of the victims.”

“Faced with these facts, Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort reiterates his shame and dismay, but also his determination to carry out the necessary reforms so that the Church in France may deserve the trust of all.”

Bishop: Ask Bl. Carlo Acutis on his feast day for a greater love for the Eucharist

A detail from a poster marking the liturgical memorial of Bl. Carlo Acutis on Oct. 12, 2021. / Diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino.

Rome Newsroom, Oct 12, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

On the feast of Blessed Carlo Acutis, the bishop of Assisi invited pilgrims gathered at the Italian teen’s tomb to seek his intercession for a greater love for Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist.

“Making Jesus our all. This is the ideal of the Christian life. The Eucharist, well celebrated and adored, allows us to live in Jesus,” Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino said on Oct. 12.

Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino. Diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino.
Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino. Diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino.

“It is to the Eucharist, not to himself, that Carlo calls us … Let us ask Carlo, on this liturgical memorial, to instill in us his love for the Eucharist, as we prepare to receive it under his smiling and joyful gaze,” the bishop of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino said in his homily.

Sorrentino offered Mass in Assisi’s Sanctuary of the Spoliation, part of the parish Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, where the blessed’s tomb is located. Concelebrants included Bishop Robert Baker of Birmingham, Alabama. Carlo Acutis’ mother, Antonia, attended the Mass.

Carlo Acutis’ mother, Antonia (wearing pink mask).
Carlo Acutis’ mother, Antonia (wearing pink mask).

The tomb has drawn more than 117,000 visitors since Bl. Carlo became the first millennial to be beatified in the Catholic Church last year, according to the Diocese of Assisi.

“In this year that has passed since his beatification, Carlo’s ‘work’ has certainly increased, so to speak, and we can see the fruits,” the archbishop said.

“By now there are many, in every part of the world, who entrust themselves to him. They call on him for help, like a generous intercessor. And they experience that it is not in vain … which makes one imagine that the miracle that will serve for his inclusion in the register of the saints is not far away,” he said.

Bl. Carlo is known for his passionate devotion to the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and an aptitude for computer programming.

He died on Oct. 12, 2006, of leukemia at the age of 15 after offering his sufferings for Pope Benedict XVI and for the Church.

“Carlo speaks to the hearts of many young people,” Sorrentino said.

“The reason for this is to be found in the fact that, beneath all the banalities of life, there always remains within us a spark of good that God knows how to rekindle with a new flame. Carlo is God’s lighter.”

Liturgical celebrations of Bl. Carlo Acutis’ feast day took place across Italy. In Rome, three relics of the blessed were enthroned in the parish of Sant’Angela Merici, followed by a party for children in the parish garden.

Three relics of Blessed Carlo Acutis are enthroned in the parish of Sant’Angela Merici in Rome, Oct. 11, 2021. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.
Three relics of Blessed Carlo Acutis are enthroned in the parish of Sant’Angela Merici in Rome, Oct. 11, 2021. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Santa Maria Segreta, the parish in Milan where Carlo attended daily Mass, also offered a Mass in honor of their former parishioner on the evening of Oct. 12.

Assisi celebrated the local feast over the course of four days, offering additional hours of Eucharistic adoration and a prayer vigil for young people in the days ahead of the Mass offered by Sorrentino.

Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.
Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

A wooden statue of Bl. Carlo was installed beside his closed tomb before the Mass.

The wooden statue of Bl. Carlo Acutis. Diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino.
The wooden statue of Bl. Carlo Acutis. Diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino.

“The Sacred Host, the bread with which Jesus in every Holy Mass presents himself with his sacrifice to become the nourishment for our life, literally enraptured Carlo’s heart,” Sorrentino said.

“His love for the Eucharist had the ardor of that of St. Francis. His daily attendance at Mass and his apostolate with the exhibition of Eucharistic miracles are the expression of a fervor that made his entire existence Eucharistic.”

Cordileone prayer update: 10,688 roses and counting for Nancy Pelosi

Roses gathered by Catholics representing a rosary prayed for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. / Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone Twitter / Benedict Institute

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Oct 12, 2021 / 11:50 am (CNA).

More than 10,000 people have committed to pray the rosary and to fast on Fridays for the ideological conversion of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on the subject of abortion, the Benedict XVI Institute announced Tuesday.

"As of Saturday, October 9, we have 10,688 Catholics who have committed to praying one rosary each week and fasting on Fridays through the end of October,” said Maggie Gallagher, executive director of the Benedict XVI Institute. The institute is administering the “Rose and Rosary for Nancy” campaign with the support of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Pelosi's bishop in San Francisco.

“We hope the Blessed Mother will touch her maternal heart, as the Archbishop has put it so beautifully, and extend her compassion and respect for the equal dignity of all people to children in the womb," said Gallagher.

The announcement coincides with the launch of a new advertisement featuring Cordileone. 

"This is a critical time in our country when we especially need to pray for our political leaders as we see our country moving more and more in the direction of the culture of death,” Cordileone says in the video advertisement. “Our leadership is very important, so I invite you all to join me in prayer and sacrifice for the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi from here in San Francisco.”

“Please join me in the Rose and Rosary for Nancy Campaign. Pray a rosary once a week for her. Fast on Friday, and you can sign the petition at BenedictInstitute.org. And if you commit to the rosary and fasting, we will send a rose to her as a symbol of your prayers and sacrifices,” Cordileone says in the video. 

The initial call to pray a rosary and to fast for Pelosi came on Sept. 29, following the House of Representatives’ passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2021. The bill, which is not likely to pass in the Senate, would codify the legal right to an abortion into law. 

Pelosi championed the bill, despite her Catholic faith. In his message on Sept. 29, Cordileone singled her out as someone in need of ideological conversion on the issue of abortion. 

“A conversion of heart of the majority of our Congressional representatives is needed on this issue, beginning with the leader of the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi,” he said. 

“Speaker Pelosi speaks fondly of her children. She clearly has a maternal heart. Pope Francis has called abortion murder, the equivalent of hiring a hitman to solve a problem,” Cordileone said. 

“The solution to a woman in a crisis pregnancy is not violence but love. Please join me in praying the rosary and fasting for a conversion of Speaker Pelosi’s maternal heart to embracing the goodness and dignity of human life not only after birth, but in the womb as well.”

Two days after the initial call for prayer, 1,000 roses were delivered to Pelosi’s office in San Francisco. Gallagher called the number of people who signed up to pray for Pelosi “remarkable,” and said she hoped more people would commit to prayer and fasting as the month continues.  

“This is more than a moment, it is a movement," she said. "In less than a week, more than 10,000 Catholics responded to the call. By the end of October, Respect Life Month, let's make it a shower of 50,000 roses and rosaries for Nancy."

Gallagher noted that Pope Francis “recently called for us to take a pastoral approach to those who are not in full communion with our faith,” and said that Cordileone’s “Rose and Rosary For Nancy” campaign served as “a wonderful example to us all.” 

"The really hard teachings of Jesus are not really about chastity but about charity: Do good to those who do you wrong, or who do wrong to others —no matter what stage or condition of life they may be in," she said. 

The Benedict XVI Institute is located in San Francisco. According to its website, the goal of the organization is to provide “practical resources for more beautiful and reverent liturgies and energizing a Catholic culture of the arts.” Cordileone is a board member of the institute. 

Millennial and Gen Z Catholics love Carlo Acutis. Here's why

Carlo Acutis. / carloacutis.com

Washington D.C., Oct 12, 2021 / 11:15 am (CNA).

Blessed Carlo Acutis was beatified on Oct. 10, 2020, and became the first member of the millennial generation to become officially known as a “blessed.”

Interest in the life of Carlo Acutis has been intense all over the world. And while research shows that a growing number of millennials and Gen Z Americans do not practice any religious faith, CNA spoke with some Catholic contemporaries of Acutis, who said the video-game playing Italian makes them want to grow closer to God.

Born on May 3, 1991, Carlo Acutis died at the age of 15 on Oct. 12, 2006 after suffering from leukemia.

During his life, he made a website dedicated to Eucharistic miracles, and maintained a deep devotion to the Eucharist until his death. He also loved PlayStation, which is probably a first for anyone canonized or beatified.

Acutis serves as an example for how millennials and Gen Z should live their lives, Cecilia Cicone, a 25-year-old from Delaware, told CNA.

“Carlo puts flesh on what a saint who plays video games and goes on the internet looks like. He challenges me to examine my conscience and say, ‘Ok, I'm called to be a saint who uses the internet too. Am I using it to make God's love known?’”

Acutis, she said, is a concrete example of “what holiness looks like in the 21st century.”

“We see that holiness can involve awkward middle school phases with popped collars and video games,” she said.

“With the beatification of Carlo Acutis, for the first time I experience the peace and joy of recognizing that I, too, can be a saint of the 21st century. It's not a hypothetical anymore.”

Fr. John LoCoco, a priest of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, is about six months younger than Acutis. And when he first heard about Acutis in 2014, he said he was “wholly unimpressed by his witness at first.”

“I never cared much for computers or video games, so it never made him ‘familiar.’ He was just a kid who blogged about the Eucharist,” LoCoco told CNA.

Gradually, however, LoCoco’s views on Acutis began to change, and now he thinks that Acutis “will be a stalwart saint in the modern age.”

“I think that what I have come to love is what seems to be the very gentle nature of Carlo,” LoCoco said. “His care for those who are picked on in school, his care for those whose parents were divorcing; Carlo seems so emotionally invested in the lives of people.”

LoCoco told CNA that he now finds the “profoundly quiet, honest sense that he had of God’s presence in all things” to be “remarkable.”

Maria Roberts, a 26-year-old computer programmer, is excited that her profession is about to gain its own patron saint, and she thinks that Acutis is a good example for how Catholics should be using the internet. 

“It is important for us as Catholics to think about how technology can be used for good and for evangelization, and not as a way to take advantage of others or demoralize young people,” she said.

“There is so much good to be done and so much suffering nowadays- young people should know that their talents can be used for God’s glory in many ways through our technological advances.”

Acutis’ age has been a sort of a spiritual wake-up call for some Catholics.

“The fact that we were alive at the same time and are so close in age seems to highlight even more the gap between our ‘levels’ of holiness,” Taylor Hyatt, a 28-year-old from Canada, told CNA. She was born the same year as Acutis.

“That said, I really appreciate his deep love for the Eucharist and interest in the Internet. We shared those interests, back when I was his age and up to now,” she said. Hyatt also admired Acutis’ interest in disability rights, a cause she is also involved with.

Fr. Paul, a recently-ordained priest in Ontario, was more blunt in his assessment of his life to Acutis’.

“For me personally, knowing how holy Blessed Carlo was makes me feel like a piece of crap,” he said. “I was born the same year as him and as a teenager wasn't particularly saintly.”

“But I talked about him to our young adults group last week and showed them the picture of his tomb and more than a few people commented on the fact that he was wearing normal clothes, and that he played video games and was good with computers,” said Fr. Paul.

“I have tried to use Pier Giorgio as an example young people can relate to but perhaps Blessed Carlo might be better these days given how contemporary he is.”

It is Acutis’ “normalcy” that makes him so interesting, some Catholics told CNA.

Acutis “is someone we can look at and quite literally picture ourselves,” Alex Trevino, a 30-year-old from Dallas, told CNA. “He’s buried in the clothes that I wore as a teenager.”

Trevino said that Acutis’ beatification shows young people “that you don’t need to be a priest, a bishop, or even a pope to be holy.”

“We need to see as a Church that sainthood, heaven, and eternal life with God is real and attainable,” he added. 

Ani, a 24-year-old from Texas, agreed. She described Acutis as “just a regular dude who grew up Catholic, as we all do, got sick like so many people do, and built a website to post about his specific interests like we do.”

“We talk about everyday sanctity a lot in Schoenstatt, the concept of doing things extraordinarily well,” Ani said to CNA. “I feel like Carlo’s maybe the first saint I’ve seen that’s had an actually normal, human, attainable way to do that.”

Unlike other saints who died young, such as St. Kateri, St. Therese, or St. Maria Goretti, Acutis had “no supernatural influence at any point,” said Ani.

“No visions, no tilma, no stigmata. Just a dude and his computer and his love of God. That stuff’s cool,” she said. 

This article was originally published on Oct, 9, 2020.

USCCB pro-life chairman urges Biden to act like the ‘devout Catholic’ he says he is

Joe Biden. / Drop of Light via www.shutterstock.com

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Oct 12, 2021 / 10:53 am (CNA).

The U.S. Catholic bishops’ pro-life chairman is expressing disappointment with President Biden as his administration reverses a Trump-era rule that restricted funding over abortion.

“It’s really sad,” Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, who heads the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, told EWTN News Nightly on Oct. 8. The Biden administration, he added, is “in the control of abortion extremists.” 

The archbishop reacted to the administration’s reversal of the “Protect Life Rule,” which barred tax dollars from Title X recipients that provide or promote abortion and required Title X clinics to be physically separate from abortion clinics. A federal program, Title X subsidizes family planning services, including contraceptives, for low-income communities. 

The archbishop challenged President Biden – the second Catholic president in U.S. history – to defend and cherish human life.

“He likes to call himself a devout Catholic. I would urge him to begin to act like one, especially on the life issues,” Archbishop Joseph Naumann said. “And to let his faith really inform his conscience and the decisions that he’s making, not the platform of his party.” 

President Biden has repeatedly demonstrated support for abortion. After decades of backing the Hyde Amendment, which barrs taxpayer funding from going toward abortion, he switched his position while running for president. More recently, in the wake of Texas’ new abortion law, he confirmed that his administration is “deeply committed” to abortion as a constitutional right. According to White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, the president “believes that it's up to a woman to make those decisions and up to a woman to make those decisions with her doctor.”

Right now, the archbishop said, the Biden administration is “looking for every opportunity to expand abortion,” and this latest reversal is “just one more casualty along that train.”

In an Oct. 7 statement, Archbishop Naumann stressed that Title X was “intended and authorized to be a program entirely separate from abortion.” Abortion, he concluded, is not family planning. Instead, it wounds women and “takes the life of an already-conceived and growing child.”