Vatican City, Jan 20, 2019 / 06:46 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis launched an app Sunday called “Click to Pray,” which connects Catholics to a global network to share prayer intentions via their smartphones.
The pope opened the new app using an iPad during his Angelus address Jan. 20 and encouraged young Catholics, in particular, to download the smartphone app to pray the “Rosary of Peace” ahead of World Youth Day.
“Click to Pray” allows users to post prayer intentions and view other prayer requests in six languages. After posting on the social network, one can track how many Catholics around the world have prayed for their request.
The Android and iOS app includes the pope’s monthly prayer intentions, all of the mysteries of the rosary, and daily prayers for morning, afternoon, and night. In each of these sections, users can click a box to indicate that they have completed the prayer and view how many others also prayed.
This month’s prayer intention is “for young people and the example of Mary.” In his Angelus address, Pope Francis reflected on Mary’s role in Sunday’s Gospel narrative of the wedding feast at Cana.
“Let us look at Mary: the words that Mary addresses to the servants come to crown the spousal framework of Cana, ‘Do whatever he tells you,’” Francis said. “These words are a precious inheritance that our Mother has left us.”
“To serve the Lord means to listen and practice His word. It is the simple, essential recommendation of the Mother of Jesus, it is the program of life of the Christian,” he continued.
Pope Francis explained that “it is not accidental that at the beginning of Jesus' public life there is a wedding ceremony, because in Him God has married humanity.”
Jesus’ transformation of water into wine was also symbolic, Francis noted, “Water is necessary to live, but the wine expresses the abundance of the banquet and the joy of the party.”
He joked, “It would have been bad to continue the party with water! ... A party without wine? I don’t know.”
The pope encouraged Catholics to turn to Our Lady when facing difficult situations, and to echo her words, “They have no wine.”
Francis explained, “When problems occur that we do not know how to solve, when we often feel anxiety and anguish, when we lack the joy, go to Our Lady and say, ‘We have no wine. The wine is finished: look how I am, look at my heart, look at my soul.’ Tell Mother, and she will go to Jesus to say, ‘Look at this, look at this: they have no wine.’ And then, she will come back to us and tell us, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’”
In a prayer to Mary after the Angelus, the pope expressed his grief and continued prayers for the Colombian people after the terrorist attack last Thursday at the National Police Academy, which killed 21 people.
The pope said that it “pained his heart” that an estimated 170 migrants are missing after two shipwrecks in the Mediterranean this weekend.
“They were looking for a future for their lives. Victims, perhaps, of human traffickers. We pray for them, and for those who are responsible for what happened,” he said.
The cheers at the end of the Angelus prayer were louder than usual as young people in St. Peter’s square waved Panamanian flags and raised a large banner reading, “Buon Viaggio.” The pope will depart Rome for Panama on January 23 for World Youth Day 2019.
Vatican City, Jan 19, 2019 / 06:02 am (CNA).- Pope Francis issued a motu proprio Saturday ending the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei and creating an office within the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith to focus on doctrinal dialogue with traditionalist groups.
For over thirty years, the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei has “facilitated the full ecclesial communion of priests, seminarians, communities or individual religious linked to Mgr. Marcel Lefebvre’s fraternity, who wished to remain united to the Successor of Peter in the Catholic Church, preserving their spiritual and liturgical traditions,” Pope Francis wrote in the apostolic letter published Jan. 19.
“The institutes and religious communities that usually celebrate in extraordinary form have found today their own stability of number and life,” the pope noted.
Pope Francis stated that the issues dealt with today by the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei are of “a predominantly doctrinal nature,” and therefore the complete transfer of the pontifical commission’s task to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith is with the desire that “these aims become more and more evident to the conscience of the ecclesial communities.”
Established in 1988 by St. John Paul II in order to carry on a dialogue with traditionalist parties, Ecclesia Dei was reformed by Benedict XVI in 2009 with the instruction Universae Ecclesiae, linking the commission to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).
The closing of Ecclesia Dei is the latest step in the pope’s wider project of reform of the Roman Curia. Administrative matters, including the pontifical commission's budget, will now be included in the ordinary accounts of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.
The Ordinary Session of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith on November 15, 2017 requested that “the dialogue between the Holy See and the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X be conducted directly” by their congregation, the apostolic letter explained.
In November 2018, Fr. Davide Pagliarani, the superior general of the SSPX, met with CDF Prefect Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer and Archbishop Guido Pozzo, secretary of the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei.
During the meeting “it was recalled that the fundamental problem is actually doctrinal … Because of this irreducible doctrinal divergence, for the past seven years no attempt to compose a draft of a doctrinal statement acceptable to both parties has succeeded. This is why the doctrinal question remains absolutely essential,” according to a SSPX statement.
The SSPX was founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1970 to form priests, as a response to what he described as errors that had crept into the Church after the Second Vatican Council. Its relations with the Holy See became particularly strained in 1988 when Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer consecrated four bishops without the permission of St. John Paul II.
The illicit episcopal consecrations resulted in the excommunication of the bishops involved. The excommunications of the surviving bishops were lifted in 2009 by Benedict XVI, and since then negotiations “to rediscover full communion with the Church” have continued between the SSPX and the Vatican.
There were indications in recent years of movement towards regularization of the priestly society, which has some 600 priest-members.
In March 2017, Pope Francis gave diocesan bishops or other local ordinaries the authorization to grant priests of the SSPX the ability to celebrate licitly and validly the marriages of the faithful who follow the Society's pastoral activity.
And in September 2015, the pope announced that the faithful would be able to validly and licitly receive absolution from priests of the SSPX during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. This ability was later extended indefinitely by Francis in his 2016 apostolic letter Misericordia et misera.
Vatican City, Jan 17, 2019 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- The Vatican said yesterday that the most significant cost associated with human trafficking is the exploitation and degradation of its victims.
With a new online guide, the Vatican seeks to combat the “ugly business” of human trafficking, which is estimated to generate $150 billion dollars a year, by examining the different levels of its complex international supply chains to target this grave evil at its roots.
“Approved by the Holy Father, this handbook reflects current Catholic teaching and courageous ministry, especially the ministry of the sisters on the front lines,” Father Michael Czerny, undersecretary of the Vatican’s Migrants and Refugees Section, said on the guide’s release January 17.
“These pastoral options offer a reading, a comprehension, ‘Why does the depravity of human trafficking persist in the 21st century?” he continued. “How does the ugly, evil, business -- and we underline the word business -- operate?”
The guide is the result of the Vatican Migrants and Refugee Section’s consultation with researchers and practitioners working in the field to address human trafficking and enslavement, and “the Church’s full response was considered, in terms of strengths, weaknesses, pastoral action and policy options,” according to Czerny.
The handbook -- named “Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking” -- is broken down into ten sections, each analyzing human trafficking from a different angle and providing recommendations.
These recommendations range from targeting and prosecuting consumers of human trafficking to aiding in the full spiritual and psychological recovery of its victims.
The Vatican will host a conference focused on the implementation of these guidelines in early April.
More attention needs to be placed on those consumers who drive the demand for human trafficking, in addition to the traffickers themselves who supply it, according to the Vatican office.
“People who generate the demand share real responsibility for the destructive impact of their behaviour on other human persons, and for the moral values violated in the process,” the guide states, noting that “the buying of so-called sexual services, in all forms including pornography, internet based cyber-sex, strip clubs and erotic dancing venues, is a serious offence against human dignity and human integrity.”
The guide goes on to recommend that states consider “criminalizing those who take advantage of prostitution or of other uses of sexual exploitation provided by those who have been trafficked.”
Last year, Pope Francis expressed a similar sentiment in his World Day of Prayer address, “If there are so many young women victims of trafficking who end up on the streets of our cities, it is because many men here — young, middle-aged, elderly — demand these services and are willing to pay for their pleasure. I wonder then, is the principal cause of trafficking really the traffickers? I believe the principal cause is the unscrupulous selfishness of the many hypocrites in our world. Of course, arresting traffickers is an obligation of justice. But the true solution is the conversion of hearts, cutting off demand in order to dry out the market.”
Ethical Supply Chains
The Vatican is calling for an ethical assessment of both business models and consumption, particularly in the industries such as agriculture, fishing, construction and mining where human trafficking is deeply embedded.
“The Church encourages both sides of the commercial relationship – entrepreneurs who provide and end-users who consume – to engage in this ethical reflection and then to make the changes that are called for,” the guide states.
“Purchasing is always a moral – and not simply economic – act,” Benedict XVI wrote in Caritas in Veritate in 2009. “Hence the consumer has a specific social responsibility, which goes hand-in-hand with the social responsibility of the enterprise.”
On a broader level, the Vatican office recommends that countries implement legislation that requires “all companies, particularly those working transnationally and outsourcing in developing countries, to invest in the transparency and accountability of their supply chains.”
Adding that there needs to be special and intense prosecution of organized crime engaged in people smuggling and trafficking nationally and transnationally, along with prosecution of connivance by local and national authorities.”
Ways of Hope
Along with the guidebook, a compilation of all of Pope Francis’ teachings on migrants, refugees, and human trafficking entitled “Lights on the Ways of Hope” was also released in hardcover and online in English and other languages. The searchable digital version will continue to be updated as the pope comments on human trafficking in the future.
“I hope that this collection of teachings may indeed illuminate our steps on the pathways of hope, providing food for inspiration and prayer, preaching and pastoral action,” Pope Francis wrote in the introduction to the book released Jan. 17.
The pope reflected on examples of migration and enslavement throughout the history of salvation, from the betrayal and sale of young Joseph by his brothers to Abraham and Sarah’s departure from their homeland in response to God’s promise.
“Indeed, like human history, the history of salvation has been marked by displacements of every sort – migration, exile, flight, exodus – and yet all reaching out with hope for a better future elsewhere. And even when the displacement is a criminal enterprise, as in the case of trafficking, let no one be robbed of the hope of being rescued and set free,” Francis said.