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List of New Cardinals Named by Pope Francis

VATICAN CITY — The following is the list of new cardinals named by Pope Francis on Feb. 15 to be formally installed in the position on Feb. 14.

1. Monsignor, Dominique Mamberti, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature, Vatican City

2. Monsignor Manuel Jose Macario do Nascimento Clemente, patriarch of Lisbon, Portugal

3. Monsignor Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, C.M., archbishop of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

4. Monsignor John Atcherley Dew, archbishop of Wellington, New Zealand

5. Monsignor Edoardo Menichelli, archbishop of Ancona-Osimo, Italy

6. Mons. Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon, archbishop of Hanoi, Vietnam

7) Monsignor Alberto Suarez Inda, Archbishop of Morelia, Mexico

8) Monsignor Charles Maung Bo, S.D.B., archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar

9 ) Monsignor Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij, archbishop of Bangkok, Thailand

10)Monsignor Francesco Montenegro, archbishop of Agrigento, Sicily, Italy

11) Monsignor Daniel Fernando Sturla Berhouet, S.D.B., archbishop of Montevideo, Uruguay

12) Monsignor. Ricardo Blazquez Perez, archbishop of Valladolid, Spain

13) Monsignor Jose Luis Lacunza Maestrojuan, O.A.R., bishop of David, Panama

14) Monsignor Arlindo Gomes Furtado, bishop of Santiago de Cabo Verde, Archipelago of Cape Verde

15) Monsignor Soane Patita Paini Mafi, bishop of Tonga, Tonga Islands


The following churchmen, 80 or older and thus ineligible to vote for the next pope, were also named as cardinals

1. Monsignor Jose de Jesus Pimiento Rodriguez, emeritus archbishop of Manizales, Colombia

2. Monsignor Luigi De Magistris, emeritus Vatican official

3. Monsignor Karl-Joseph Rauber, apostolic nuncio

4. Monsignor Luis Hector Villalba, emeritus archbishop of Tucuman, Argentina

5. Monsignor Julio Duarte Langa, emeritus archbishop of Xai-Xai, Mozambique

Pope Francis on Sunday named new cardinals

Pope Francis on Sunday named new cardinals to the group that will choose his successor, with appointments that strengthened the Catholic Church in Asia, Africa and Latin America and further shifted its power center away from the developed world.

It was the second time the 78-year-old Francis has used the appointment of cardinals to put his stamp on the 1.2 billion-member church. The two sets of appointments increase the chances that the next pontiff will, like Francis, be a non-European.

Only one of the new electors is from the Curia, the Vatican's central administration, which Francis has pledged to overhaul. Last month, the pope said the Curia was infected with careerism, scheming, greed and "spiritual Alzheimer's".

Francis' nominees now make up a quarter of the 125 "cardinal electors" under 80 years old -- easily enough to sway the election of a new pope when Francis dies or resigns.

Francis read out the names of the 20 new cardinals, 15 of them electors, to tens of thousands of people in St. Peter's Square for his Sunday address.

The new electors come from Italy, France, Portugal, Ethiopia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Mexico, Myanmar, Thailand, Uruguay, Spain, Panama, Cape Verde and Tonga. Nine of them come from the developing world. It was the first time cardinals from Myanmar, Tonga and Cape Verde had been appointed, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said.

Francis "does not feel chained to the tradition" that some major cities in Italy, elsewhere in Europe or in the United States, should automatically have cardinals to lead them, Lombardi said.

No new cardinals from North America were chosen because their number "is already sizeable", Lombardi said. There are 15 cardinal electors in the United States and Canada.


"The big picture here is that he is reaching out to the margins," said John Allen, author of numerous books about the Vatican. Allen said that "while there are some recognizable moderates, there are no recognizable conservatives."

By elevating Archbishop Alberto Suarez Inda of Morelia, Mexico, Francis wanted to draw attention to suffering in an area that has been plagued with violence related to drug trafficking, the Vatican said.

Europe, with 57 cardinal electors, still has the largest voting bloc, but the developing world's rose to more than 50.

The five new cardinals over 80, who will not be allowed to enter a conclave, come from Colombia, Italy, Germany, Argentina and Mozambique. They were given the title in recognition of their long service to the Church.

Francis bent a Church rule that puts a cap of 120 on the number of cardinal electors. Sunday's appointments bring the total number of cardinals to 228, 125 of them electors and 103 of them non-electors over 80.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Alessandra Galloni and Larry King)

Pope Francis recently delivered a powerful message

Pope Francis recently delivered a powerful message to ring in the new year at St. Peter’s Basilica’s Roman Catholic Church’s World Day of Peace. In his message, which served as an introductory for this year’s theme, he discussed the positive aspects of unity among religions and cultures.

According to the Huffington Post, he urged all religions to come together and join in the fight against modern slavery and human trafficking. The powerful message was quite befitting for this year’s theme, “No Longer Slaves, but Brothers and Sisters.”

“All of us are called (by God) to be free, all are called to be sons and daughters, and each, according to his or her own responsibilities, is called to combat modern forms of enslavement. From every people, culture and religion, let us join our forces.”

However, the notion of bringing all religions together seems like a positive concept that would undoubtedly make the world a better place. But, unfortunately from a realistic perspective, there are definitely doubts. Due to the various beliefs of different denominations, some feel freedom and peace cannot work with religious ideology, dogma, or a theocracy because science and religion are in conflict with one another. The Record also cites the complexity of the relationship between science and religion, which is often as controversial as the separation of church and state. Then, there are others who have rendered “coming together” as forming one denomination.

The ongoing argument about the concept and misconception of “one denomination” has sparked quite a debate. Although some agree with Pope Francis’ views, many argued that theoretically it could never happen, and “peace on earth” is an impossible feat. For example, many readers could not even fathom Muslims taking on the beliefs of any other religion or culture, let alone agree with the idea of anti-slavery.

Here are some of the responses to Pope Francis’ perspective of bringing all religions together.

“I am always wary of what the Pope has to say. Since way back when the Catholic Church changed the Sabbath day from the seventh day to the first day to demonstrate their strength, their agenda has been suspect. We are a thinking people. Think.”

“There will never be peace in the world unfortunately. People give each other the finger in traffic and you think people will stop and make peace?”

“how would you feel if someone suggested that al people become a different religion…like say Buddhism…how would you like that?”

“The pope may convince Catholics, some Protestants, and even a few Muslim clerics in a venue for justice, but Muslims in general will never agree to anti-slavery, at least not in practice, else they’d have to edit their book. Regardless, when religious bodies “join forces” in religious exercises, prayers, etc., there’s often a vain attempt to intermingle light and darkness, good and evil, but the scriptures are clear that we are not to be unevenly yoked with unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14). A church that incorporates wolves into the flock will soon be devoured.”

“We cannot possibly become one religion. We can all want the best for the betterment state of our country, but becoming one religion is not doing it. The Muslims, Hamas and Jihadists, don’t think so!”

However, there are some believers who feel the void between faith and science will close one day. But, what would that signify? In the book of Revelations, the bible speaks of one world religion near the end of time. So, although the sentiment is a relatively positive notion, many find the concept of peace on earth quite disconcerting.

Pope Francis driving a wedge between conservatives and the Catholic Church

Pope Francis is increasingly driving a wedge between conservatives and the Catholic Church.?

The magnetic pope has sparked new enthusiasm around the world for the church and has flexed his political muscles internationally, most recently by helping to engineer a new relationship between the United States and Cuba.??

But Francis’s agenda, which also includes calls to address income inequality and limit climate change, is putting him at odds with Republicans, including GOP Catholics in the United States.?

Hours after President Obama announced moves to ease trade and travel restrictions to Cuba, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a practicing Catholic and potential 2016 presidential candidate, criticized the deal and Francis's role in it.

“I would also ask His Holiness to take up the cause of freedom and democracy, which is critical for a free people, for a people to truly be free,” Rubio told reporters.

Rubio said that Cubans “deserve the same chances to have democracy as the people of Argentina have had, where he comes from, as the people of Italy have, where he now lives.”

His office declined additional comment for this story.

Fellow Catholic Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) said he wished Francis would stand up for the Cuban people "rather than their oppressors."

“Sadly, in the case of Cuba, the Catholic Church has not always applied its basic principles of human dignity and reverence for the God-given freedoms that belong to every soul. I was supremely disappointed by press reports that the Pope had a hand in urging President Obama to cede crucial leverage that could have been used to help the Cuban people become free,” Diaz-Balart said.??

It's not the first time Francis has clashed with conservatives.

Since his papal inauguration in March 2013, the pontiff has publicly made policy remarks about income inequality and the environment that many American Catholics weren't used to hearing coming from the Vatican, and not just from the pulpit.

“Inequality is the root of social evil,” Francis tweeted in March, after months earlier slamming “trickle-down” economics as a “crude and naïve” theory.

Next year, as part of a speech he’ll give to the United Nations General Assembly, Francis will issue an edict urging the world's 1.2 billion Catholics to do what they can to fight climate change.?

“He's modeling the church as a place for open disagreement,” said Vincent J. Miller, who chairs the University of Dayton's Catholic theology program. “In that sense, one of the most important changes he's making is that conservative politicians are now openly disagreeing with him,” Miller said.

Catholics have long been considered an important voting block in American politics and have turned out for the winning presidential candidate in the last three cycles.

A closer look at the Catholic vote reveals that white Catholics have supported the Republican candidate in each of those elections, while Hispanic Catholics have supported the Democratic candidate, according to Pew Research polling.

According to Pew, Catholics made up 24 percent of the electorate in the 2014 cycle, voting for GOP House candidates over Democratic ones 54 percent to 45 percent.

Francis himself enjoys a high favorability rating of 78 percent among all Americans, with only 11 percent disapproving of him and the remaining having no opinion, according to a Dec. 11 poll from Pew. Among Catholics, his favorability spikes to 93 percent.

Miller said Republicans are no longer able to use issues like abortion and gay marriage as the defining issues for American Catholics.??

But Mauricio Claver-Carone, director of the conservative U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC, said that by injecting his beliefs, Francis has alienated Cuban-Americans who are deeply opposed to the communist Castro regime in Cuba.??

“I don't want the pope running the foreign policy of the United States, just as I don't think the president wants the pope running the social policy of the United States,” said Claver-Carone, referencing the pope’s anti-abortion rights views.

Progressive Catholics, however, such as Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice organization, are cheering Francis on as he calls for the world's elite to do more to help the poor. ??

“Oh my gloria, this is a definite change in tone from being a 'scolder-in-chief' to being the one who identifies with the pain in our world,” said Simone, who organized the “Nuns on a Bus” cross-country tours.

“Pope Francis's message and tone are making Catholic Republicans a little uncomfortable,” Simone said. “He's stirring the concern on issues like poverty and the economy.”

A priest was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head MEXICO CITY

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A priest was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head, his diocese said Friday, marking the latest in series of abductions, attacks and highway robberies against Roman Catholic clerics in an area of southern Guerrero state dominated by drug cartels.

Rev. Gregorio Lopez Gorostieta is the third Catholic priest to have been killed in the region this year, and the first to die since the federal government launched a special, stepped-up security operation in the area following the disappearance of 43 teachers' college students three months ago.

The motive in Lopez Gorostieta's killing remains unclear; Bishop Maximino Martinez said a group had been seen lurking around the seminary where the priest taught on the outskirts of Ciudad Altamirano, Guerrero, on Sunday and Monday. Lopez Gorostieta was apparently kidnapped by the gang early Monday; his truck was found abandoned two days later.

"This is another priest added to those who have died for their love of Christ," Bishop Martinez said. "Enough already of so much pain, of so many murders. Enough already of so much crime. Enough extortions."

That was an apparent reference to the "protection payments" that the local drug gang, the Knights Templar, demand from business owners in Ciudad Altamirano. One business owner, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals, said his family had been forced to pay thousands of pesos (dollars) each year to the gang for the right to operate a pharmacy.

While the Rev. Jesus Mendoza Zaragoza said gangs have also demanded protection payments from parish priests in the nearby resort city of Acapulco, Lopez Gorostieta didn't have a parish or collect tithes.

But Bishop Martinez said there could be other motives: Priests have received threats when they refuse to perform quickie marriages or baptisms for drug gang members. The church normally requires extensive paperwork before performing such ceremonies.

"At times, if they ask for a baptism and you don't do it, they start to threaten you," Martinez said. "They want a marriage, or a blessing" for a car or a home, he said, and won't take "no" for an answer.

The Mexican Council of Bishops issued a statement saying "we demand authorities clear up this and so many other crimes that have caused pain in so many homes, and ensure that it is punished."

But Mendoza Zaragoza said there appears to be little likelihood authorities will find the killers, because they haven't done so in past cases. "The government offers to investigate, but nothing is ever known," he said referring to the other recent killing of a priest in the Altamirano diocese.

In September, the battered body of the Rev. Ascension Acuna Osorio was found floating in the Balsas river near his parish of San Miguel Totolapan, near Ciudad Altamirano. Guerrero state prosecutors said the priest's body had head wounds, but it was unclear whether they were caused by the body being dragged by the current, or whether he had been killed before being dumped in the river. Martinez said authorities never offered more information on the investigation into his death.

Residents of San Miguel Totolapan told reporters that Acuna Osorio was well liked in the town, but they were afraid to speak more about his death, or the gang that operates in the area. The town is an area dominated by the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel, which has been implicated in the mass killing of 43 students in September in the nearby city of Iguala.

The area is so dangerous that Martinez said one priest had been briefly kidnapped in the mountains above San Miguel Totolapan by cartel gunmen who complained the priest had been speaking in favor of "La Familia" — the name of a rival drug cartel.

The priest had to quickly explain he had been preaching in favor of family values, not the rival cartel.

Nor have authorities cleared up the killing of a Ugandan priest whose body was found in a clandestine grave in a nearby Guerrero diocese in November.

Father John Ssenyondo, 55, had been kidnapped about six months earlier. His body was later identified as one of 13 found in a clandestine grave discovered Nov. 2 in the town of Ocotitlan.

Ssenyondo, a member of the Combonian order, was abducted April 30 in the town of Santa Cruz after celebrating Mass, when a group of people in an SUV intercepted his car.

Several priests have also been victims of highway assaults in Guerrero in recent months that appear to be attempted robberies.

Church officials also believe three abductions of church workers in March may have been intended to discourage priests from leading protests against rampant violence. The three were released unharmed.

The Catholic Multimedia Center, a church group, reports that eight priests were killed in the past two years in Mexico — now nine including Lopez Gorostieta's death — and that two priests remain missing.

Watch the video below to see the surprise

Watch the video below to see the surprise 12-20-2014

Twice a day, for hours at a time, Nathaniel Kendrick dons his luminescent vest to help keep the children of Lakewood Elementary School safe.

Kendrick, better known as "Mr. Kent" to the students, began working as the school's crossing guard a decade ago and loves every minute of it.

"It's wonderful; I enjoy it," Kendrick says.

He's a man who cares for children, while at the same time caring for his sick wife as her health, and their finances, deteriorate.

"My mother told me long before she passed, 'Take care of your wife.' So I try my best," Kendrick explains.

But despite his best efforts, he continues to fall on hard times.

As word spread of Kendrick's situation, a group of dads who are part of the Friends of Lakewood community group got together to brainstorm a solution. What they came up with is quite simply amazing.

Watch the video below to see the surprise that shocked Kendrick to the point of speechlessness.

Here at the USA TODAY network, not only do we want to provide you with the current events of the day, but also a little dose of inspiration while you're getting your news fix. Inspiration Nation is our way of providing you with that jolt of good news to bring a smile to your day.


Pope Francis is naming new cardinals

The Vatican announced Thursday (Dec. 11) that Pope Francis will name a new batch of cardinals in February, adding to the select group of churchmen who will someday gather to elect his successor.

Rome won’t reveal the names until next month, but could an American be among them?

There are a number of factors that will govern the choices, and thus the predictions:

First, there are 208 cardinals in the College of Cardinals, but at the age of 80 a cardinal is no longer allowed to vote in a conclave. That leaves 112 cardinals under the age of 80, as of now, though two more will age out in February and another two in March and April.

The customary ceiling on the number of electors today is 120 (it has changed many times over the centuries). That means that Francis could give a so-called red hat to 10 or 12 bishops.

The pope could also raise the ceiling, or ignore it, as Saint John Paul II often did during his long reign.

Other factors to keep in mind: The U.S. currently has 18 living cardinals, 11 of whom are eligible to vote. That’s about 10 percent of the total, which isn’t bad considering American Catholics represent about 6 percent of the global population of 1.2 billion Catholics.

In appointing his first group of cardinals last February, Francis surprised Vatican-watchers by overlooking many traditional dioceses in Europe and instead choosing bishops — 16 of them under 80 — from places such as Haiti and Burkina Faso, poor countries that are on the margins of ecclesiastical influence.

That signaled that Francis, an Argentine who is the first non-European pope in modern times, wants to redistribute power in the church. He has work to do on that score: As John Allen noted at Crux, two-thirds of the members of the College of Cardinals (69) still come from the Northern Hemisphere, while two-thirds of all Catholics live in the Global South — Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Another custom working against the expectation that Francis will name an American is that by tradition, the Vatican does not like to have more than two voting-age cardinals from the same diocese.
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That said, Francis did not pick any Americans when he made his first batch of cardinals, and several U.S. cardinals are very close to 80.

So if he were to choose an American — or two — who might it be? Here are four options, listed in order of likelihood:

1. Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles

Los Angeles is far and away the largest diocese in the U.S. church, with more than 4 million baptized members. Gomez, who turns 63 this month, is Mexican-born and, like his flock, represents the Latino future of the church. Although he hews to doctrinal orthodoxy, Gomez is increasingly outspoken on social justice issues such as immigration — a priority for Francis.

2. Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago

Cupich, 65, was only appointed to Chicago in September, but he was Francis’ first major U.S. nomination and one the pope took a personal role in. Cupich is seen as much more in line with Francis’ agenda than the retired archbishop, Cardinal Francis George. George is nearly 78 so has two more years of conclave eligibility, but he is also seriously ill with cancer.

3. Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta

Gregory, 67, was considered a contender for the Chicago spot, but a red hat would be a nice consolation prize. It would also make some sense: Atlanta is a fast-growing diocese, unlike shrinking dioceses in the Northeast and Midwest, and although it has never had a cardinal as archbishop it may be time. Also, Gregory is one of a handful of African-American bishops and making him a cardinal would be like, well, electing a black president.

4. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia

Chaput, 70, is widely seen as a leader of the culture warrior wing of the U.S. hierarchy, and not particularly in sync with Francis. But Chaput is hosting the church’s World Day of Families next September, which will serve as the main venue for Francis’ first U.S. visit. The retired archbishop of Philadelphia, Cardinal Justin Rigali, turns 80 in April. On the downside, Philadelphia — like many other dioceses in the declining “Rust Belt” of Catholicism — may no longer be considered an automatic red hat as it once was.

Here is the current geographic breakdown of voting members of the College of Cardinals:

Europe: 54

Latin America: 16

North America: 15 (11 from the U.S. and 4 from Canada)

Africa: 12

Asia: 11

Middle East: 2

Caribbean: 1

Oceania: 1

Pope Francis gave an interview to LA NACION

Near to his 78th birthday, Pope Francis gave an interview to LA NACION in which he made a balance of 21 months of pontificate. Relaxed and with a very good sense of humor, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires took 50 minutes to talk about everything.

Francis questioned divorced being excluded from the life of the Church and anticipated that process of analysis of the topic will finish in October 2015.

These are some of the most relevant dialogues of the full interview:
Go to the web site link below to read more.

Pope Francis: "God has bestowed on me a healthy dose of unawareness"

The synod on the family: "The divorced and remarried seem excommunicated"

Changes of the Swiss Guard: "It was a mere renewal... is sane to know that nobody goes on forever"

Humour, anecdotes and a laid back Pope on a rainy afternoon at the Vatican

For further content, visit the Pope Francis' channel

The Vatican's finances

The Vatican's finances 12-05-2014

The Vatican's economy czar says the Holy See's finances are in better shape than he thought, revealing that hundreds of millions of euros were kept off the balance sheet and that reforms are forging ahead to make the Vatican "boringly successful."

In a frank essay published Thursday in Britain's The Catholic Herald, Cardinal George Pell outlined his vision for a Vatican that follows international accounting standards, is transparent and audited externally, and uses its proceeds to help the poor.

Pope Francis was elected in 2013 on a mandate to get the Vatican's finances in order after years of scandal at its bank and waste in its administration. Pell was among the most vocal in calling for reform, and was named by Francis to head the new Secretariat for the Economy to oversee the process.

In the essay, Pell disparaged the Vatican's past practices of financial secrecy, defending fiefdoms and dragging its feet in implementing international anti-money laundering norms.

He resurrected two of the most recent scandals — the "sacking" of the Vatican bank president and the leaks of documents by the papal butler — which he said had "severely" damaged the Holy See's reputation.

In saying they were a "heavy cross" for Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI to bear, Pell suggested that Benedict's resignation was indeed linked to the scandals. The reforms, however, are going ahead to make the Vatican "boringly successful," Pell said.

He said his team had discovered that the financial situation was "much healthier than it seemed, because some hundreds of millions of euros were tucked away in particular sectional accounts and did not appear on the balance sheet."

Pell didn't say that the euros were unknown to Vatican authorities, just that they didn't feature into the balance sheet.

Chicago archbishop on the way forward for the Catholic Church


Pope Francis addresses how will the world end

By Athena Yenko | November 28, 2014 2:52 PM EST

Pope Francis addresses humans' ancient question on when and how the end of the world will take place. On Nov 27, he addressed pilgrims during his weekly General Audience in St Peter's Square.
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Reuters/Giampiero Sposito
Pope Francis leaves after leading a thanksgiving mass for Canadian Saints in St.Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, October 12, 2014.

Pope Francis said people had been spontaneously thinking about how the final passage will take place and what will happen to humanity and to the world that surrounds humans. He said these questions exist and, in fact, even the disciples of Jesus had the very same questions. He added these questions are ancient human questions.

He said even the Church knows no answer to these questions. Church leaders do not know the time for the "consummation of the earth and of humanity." Yes, the Earth is already deformed by sin and this world shall pass away. However, God promised a new dwelling place and a new Earth is being prepared; in this new world, justice will abide and God shall answer and quenched humans' longing for peace - Pope Francis highlighted quoting the Second Vatican Council's Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World.

With this, Pope Francis said, the end of the world is not actually a destruction of the world but rather a transformation to a new truthful and beautiful universe. "It is not an annihilation of the universe and all that surrounds us, rather it brings everything to its fullness of being, truth and beauty," the Pope told the pilgrims.

The Church shall evolve towards this transformation, towards the "new Jerusalem," or "Paradise." He emphasised this transformation is more than a place but a state of being. "We will all find ourselves up there! All of us in heaven," - thinking this way strengthens our soul, he said.

Read Pope Francis' full address.

In his mass in Casa Santa Marta on Nov 28, he had also spoken in the same tune. He spoke of the fall of Babylon and Jerusalem from which the First Reading from Revelation and the Gospel from St Luke Chapter 21 highlighted the end of this world. He said these two cities fell for different reasons.

Babylon fell because of its corruption, and corrupt culture makes people believe they were already in heaven - such is also the case at present. Babylon symbolises every people, culture and society who turned away from God.

Jerusalem fell because it was distracted. He said Jesus was knocking at Jerusalem's door but it was not willing to receive Jesus.

The Pope said, people should ask whether they are like the corrupt Babylon or the distracted Jerusalem. He said with many people and nations living with hatred and spiritual worldliness, the end times becomes true. "All of this will fall! Let us ask the Lord for the grace to be prepared for the banquet that awaits us," the Pope said.

No more church ‘quietness’ under Cupich

He’s wasting no time 11-24-2014

Right out of the box, Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich was standing on the right side.

“The work of comprehensive immigration reform is not important because it is on my agenda, but because it is on God’s,” Cupich proclaimed at his inaugural homily at Holy Name Cathedral last Monday night.

As President Barack Obama announced his immigration executive order last week, Cupich urged that Congress act. “It’s been a long time coming; it’s frustrating things are not moving forward,” ABC7 Chicago quoted him as saying.

Another prominent Chicago Roman Catholic has noticed.

“What I’m hearing so far from Archbishop Cupich is that he is not at all shy about speaking to issues,” Rev. Michael Pfleger told me last week.

The renegade priest never holds back. The longtime pastor of St. Sabina Church has dabbled and roused for social justice and change for decades. Pfleger has loudly driven a host of causes: gun control, battling street violence, denouncing racist policies and practices, championing civil rights.

The firebrand’s run-ins with retiring Cardinal Francis George nearly got him evicted from his parish.

Pfleger says he has spoken briefly with his new leader and is gratified by the archbishop’s embrace of “God’s agenda.”

Cupich has repeatedly and publicly praised Pfleger’s efforts to work with gang members, the police and activists to help cure the epidemic of violence in our communities.

“He said, yes, he knew what we had done and were doing here,” Pfleger recalled. “And we are going to talk, and he wants to talk and do more of it, and he said he’s talked to the mayor about it.”

It was a new day for Pfleger as we chatted at his South Side rectory, the chill sun glancing off the window.

For too long, he says, his church has indulged in an unacceptable “quietness” about the issues his community cares about, he said.

“The church has become so tunnel vision, and so judgmental, and
. . . almost had a spiritual laryngitis of very important issues of poverty, and violence, and guns . . .”

Pope Francis has shifted the moral ground and tapped Cupich to plant new seeds. Cupich is talking about gun violence. Poverty. Inclusion. Tolerance.

“Wow!” Pfleger exclaimed. “I’ve been screaming this for years.” He hopes to meet with Cupich soon to push for new anti-violence initiatives.

As a lifelong Catholic, I have chafed at a church that seemed to care only about abortion, same-sex marriage and condemnation.

Cupich has the clout to make transformative change: He leads a flock of 2.2 million Catholics. He can use his gilded bully pulpit to influence the political biggies, from the governor to the mayor to other top players in Springfield, who lined up for his installation.

Most of those who perish from gun violence on the South and West sides are African-American, and not Catholic. Yet, true moral leadership must reach out to those who Pfleger calls the “throwaways” — who suffer from rampant crime, few jobs and scant hope.

After his elevation last year, Pope Francis asked, “Who am I to judge?” His query came in response to the issue of gays in the church, but it set the stage for his church’s future.

The time for judging is over. It’s time to act.

Pope denounces Mafia, meets father of slain boy

CASSANO ALL'JONIO, Italy (AP) — Pope Francis journeyed Saturday to the heart of Italy's biggest crime syndicate, met the father of a 3-year-old boy slain in the region's drug war, and declared that all mobsters are automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Church.

During his one-day pilgrimage to the southern region of Calabria, Francis comforted the imprisoned father of Nicola Campolongo in the courtyard of a prison in the town of Castrovillari.

In January the boy was shot, along with one of his grandfathers and the grandfather's girlfriend, in an attack blamed on drug turf wars in the nearby town of Cassano all'Jonio. The attackers torched the car with all three victims inside.

The boy's father and mother already were in jail at the time on drug trafficking charges. The pope had expressed his horror following the attack and promised to visit the town.

Francis embraced the man. He asked the pope to pray for the boy's mother, who was permitted to leave prison following her son's slaying and remains under house arrest. The pope also met two of the boy's grandmothers.

A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, said Francis told the father: "May children never again have to suffer in this way."

Pope Francis
Pope Francis waves from his pope-mobile at the end of his weekly general audience, in St. Peter's Sq …

"The two grandmothers were weeping like fountains," Benedettini added.

Calabria is the power base of the 'ndrangheta, a global drug trafficking syndicate that enriches itself by extorting businesses and infiltrating public works contracts in underdeveloped Calabria.

During his homily at an outdoor Mass, Francis denounced the 'ndrangheta for what he called its "adoration of evil and contempt for the common good. "

"Those who go down the evil path, as the Mafiosi do, are not in communion with God. They are excommunicated," he warned.

Francis greeted about 200 other prisoners during his visit there.

When Francis visited a hospice, a doctor there removed a bothersome wooden splinter from one of the pope's fingers at his request, organizers said.

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Knights of Saint Joseph we live and serve in the faith of the Holly Trinity. With what we know and don't know, our faith keeps us grounded to seek and find all truths to our life, to share with others what we see, know and believe as truth under the Father, Son and Holly Sprit. We walk in our strength of faith and knowledge to help, guide, protect and uplift those in need and those misdirected in life. We will preserve, protect and help develop the catholic church and protect it from any evil or anyone's misdirection trying to damage or destroy it or it's people.

Joseph Lucey

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