Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Leading theologian warns of dangers to Church credibility

Jesuits Ireland

A leading theologian has warned that continuing resistance among the laity to teachings on issues such as birth control has implications for the credibility of the Church.

Irish theologian Dr Gerry O’Hanlon SJ, speaking to the Edinburgh Newman Association about the synodal pathway, said the faithful are well aware that in many parts of the Church the current teaching on sex in relation to contraception and same-sex relationships as well as the ordination of women have not been received.

Their non-reception has implications for the credibility of the Church and the efficacy of its missionary outreach to our world, the theologian with the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice said.

He warned that those who insist on repeating current teaching without taking on board the resistance expressed in the “sense of faith of the faithful” risk becoming ideologues.

Acknowledging that the issue of doctrinal change or development is contested, he said, “There is clear evidence that doctrinal development takes place” in the Church.

Historically, issues such as the admission of Gentiles, slavery, the headship of man in marriage, and in contemporary times, Pope Francis’ teaching on access to communion for the divorced and remarried, and the creation of ministries of acolyte, lector and catechist, showed “there is clear evidence” that doctrinal development through discussion takes place in the church “often processed through councils and synods”.

He said that a synod is not simply a sociological survey of Catholic opinion at any particular time but is a privileged instance of the “sense of faith of the faithful”.

Elsewhere in his address in Edinburgh, Dr O’Hanlon questioned critics of the synodal process who cite the low numbers involved to question its validity and whether it can really be representative of Catholicism.

The fear of change is voiced most often by traditionalist voices “which initially were rather dismissive of the whole exercise and failed to participate but who now, as they perceive momentum gathering behind the project, are scrambling to come on board”, he said.

He said, “Do the critics really imagine, when all the surveys show to the contrary, that a larger group would have different views on, for example, the role of women or the controversial teaching on sexuality?”

French nuns report spiritual abuse by superiors

Bénédictines du Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre - Wikiwand

French nuns dedicated to the Sacred Heart and its iconic Sacré Coeur Basilica in Paris have said they suffered systematic spiritual abuse by their superiors in the past “with serious and lasting consequences, implemented over several decades”.

Joining previous French dioceses, orders and communities that have issued public confessions, the Benedictines of the Sacred Heart of Montmartre (BSCM) said they and women who had left the order came together to agree on a joint statement addressing the abuse.

The order had suffered “spiritual and conscience abuse, abuse of power and authority, separation of the sisters from their family and spiritual advisors, moral and physical violence” it said, as well as “threats, systematised lies, slander, a climate of fear and manipulation, humiliation, deprivation of freedom and a lack of vocational discernment”.

Coming after apostolic visitations in 2004 and 2012, the declaration shows how deep-seated this abuse was, it said. 

“These abuses caused many departures of sisters, in too often painful and difficult conditions,” the 2 May statement declared.

“The authorities at the time neither supported nor accompanied, but rather ostracised them.”

The order, which prays and welcomes pilgrims at Sacré Coeur and nine other religious sites around France, said departed sisters had contacted it to open a dialogue about the past. They spent a weekend together in February.

Their statement asked forgiveness “from all those who have been victims of this abuse”, in particular Roseline de Romanet, the prioress general from 1998 to 2004 who was “seriously humiliated and durably slandered (as well as her family) before the sisters and the Church”.  

Romanet, who quit the order in 2004, said the two apostolic visits “did not prevent 20 years from going by before we began to resolve these difficulties. What a waste of time!”

The statement also thanked those who left for breaking their silence and denouncing excesses. They said they would establish an independent commission to study the excesses and decide on just reparation.

Sister Marie-Jérémie Rorthais, the order’s general counsel, told La Croix the worst abuse occurred between 1998 and 2012 but could not establish how many sisters had suffered because “in a certain way, we were all victims”.

Sister Véronique Margron, head of the Conference of French Religious, said the abuse episode was “one of our dramas … hence the importance of all this work and the effort of transparency”.

Pope says Argentina’s military junta wanted him behind bars

 Argentina 'Dirty War' accusations haunt Pope Francis - BBC News

After revealing a recent interview that he plans to visit his native Argentina next year, Pope Francis subsequently told Hungarian Jesuits that roughly 50 years ago, the country’s military dictatorship wanted to put him behind bars.

He also spoke of the clerical sexual abuse crisis, which hits especially close to home for the Jesuits given the recent scandals of a prominent artist and member of their order, Father Marko Ivan Rupnik, and said that he restricted the Traditional Latin Mass because it was being used for “ideological” purposes.

Speaking to some 32 Jesuits in Budapest April 29, Pope Francis referred to a trial he underwent while still provincial superior of the Jesuits in Argentina, saying he met one of the judges in Rome after he was elected pope, and the judge admitted that “they had received instructions from the government to convict me.”

Pope Francis visited Hungary April 28-30, where he met with national authorities, refugees, the country’s bishops and religious, as well as young people.

He held a private meeting with members of the Jesuit Order in Hungary on the second day of his trip, during which he took questions from the group and greeted each one individually.

He was asked by one of the Jesuits present to explain what happened with the arrest and torture of two Jesuits priests while he was Jesuit provincial in the 1970s.

Over 8,000 people, with some claiming the number is as high as 30,000, were killed and disappeared by Argentina’s military junta between the 1976-1983 military government.

During that time, two priests, Jesuit Fathers Franz Jalics, a Hungarian missionary in Argentina, and Father Orlando Yorio, who worked in the slums, were kidnapped and tortured by the military in 1976.

They were released after five months, but for years, then-Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a young priest during Argentina’s military coup in the 1970s, was accused of not doing enough to protect the men in his role as provincial, with some even accusing Bergoglio of handing them over.

As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio was called to testify twice in the case of Yorio and Jalics. Bergoglio maintained his innocence, testifying in the early 2000s that he had met with army leaders Jorge Videla and Emilio Massera twice to ask for the priests’ and to ensure their safe release.

In his conversation with Hungarian Jesuits, Francis said both Jálics and Yorio carried out their ministry in a working-class neighborhood and “worked hard.”

A professor of dogmatic theology courses in Argentina and Chile at the time, Jálics had actually taught Bergoglio and served as his confessor when Bergoglio was in his first and second years of theological studies.

“In the neighborhood where he worked there was a guerrilla cell. But the two Jesuits had nothing to do with them: they were pastors, not politicians. They were innocent when taken prisoner,” the pope said, saying the military found nothing to charge the priests with, but nonetheless kept them in prison and subjected them to torture.

“These things leave deep wounds,” he said, saying that after Jálics was released, the priest immediately came to him so they could talk, and Francis said that at the time, he advised Jálics to join his mother in the United States because the situation “was really too confusing and uncertain.”

He said rumors then began to circulate saying he had handed the priests over, but insisted that a 3-volume set documenting what happened between the Catholic Church and the military junta recently published by the Argentinian Bishops’ Conference sets the record straight.

Pope Francis said that when the military left power, Jálics asked his permission to come back to Argentina to lead a course of the Jesuits’ Ignatian spiritual exercises. Francis said he granted permission, and the two celebrated Mass together while Jálics was in town.

“Then I saw him again as archbishop and then again also as pope; he came to Rome to see me. We always maintained this relationship,” he said, saying the last time Jálics came to visit him at the Vatican, “I could see that he was suffering because he didn’t know how to talk to me.”

“There was a distance. The wounds of those past years remained both in me and in him, because we both experienced that persecution,” he said.

Francis said there were some in the government at the time who “wanted to ‘cut off my head,’” so they put him on trial and “questioned my whole way of acting during the dictatorship.”

He said that his hearing, which took place at the episcopal residence in Buenos Aires, lasted four hours and 10 minutes, and that one of the judges “was very insistent in his questioning about the way I behaved.”

“I always answered truthfully. But, from my point of view, the only serious question, with substance and well expressed, came from the lawyer who belonged to the Communist Party. And thanks to that question, things were clarified. In the end, my innocence was established,” he said.

Pope Francis said he later saw two of the judges in Rome, who visited with a group of Argentinians.

After recognizing one of the judges, Francis said he again insisted he had acted correctly, saying, “I deserve judgment for my sins, but on this point, I want to be clear.” The second judge, he said, also greeted him, and confided that they had received instructions from the government to convict, even the future pope was eventually found innocent.

“But I want to add that when Jálics and Yorio were taken by the military, the situation in Argentina was bewildering and it was not at all clear what should be done. I did what I felt I had to do to defend them. It was a very painful affair,” the pope said, calling Jálics, who died in 2021 at the age of 94, “a man of God.”

Jálics was “a man who sought God, but he fell victim to an entourage to which he did not belong. He himself understood this. That entourage was the active resistance in the place where he went to be a chaplain,” he said, and urged the Jesuits to read the volumes published by the Argentinian bishops’ conference.

Pope Francis’s remarks on Argentina come after a conversation with an Argentine journalist in April, during which he said that he wants to visit his home country, which he has not returned to since before his election in 2013, next year.

In the conversation, Pope Francis also answered a question about how to find God amid the challenges of the modern world, specifically in light of the recommendations of the Second Vatican Council.

“I wouldn’t know how to answer that theoretically, but I certainly know that the Council is still being applied. It takes a century for a Council to be assimilated, they say,” he said, saying that ongoing resistance to the council’s reforms “is terrible.”

To this end, he pointed to what he has termed indietrismo, meaning “backwardness,” calling it a form of “restorationism” and a “nostalgic disease” that clings to the past and rejects what is modern.

Referring to his decision in 2021 to restrict use of the Traditional Latin Mass despite a liberalization of the pre-1962 liturgy by his predecessor Benedict XVI, Fracis said that, “This is why I decided that now the permission to celebrate according to the Roman Missal of 1962 is mandatory for all newly consecrated priests.”

“After all the necessary consultations, I decided this because I saw that the good pastoral measures put in place by John Paul II and Benedict XVI were being used in an ideological way, to go backward. It was necessary to stop this indietrismo, which was not in the pastoral vision of my predecessors,” he said.

Pope Francis was also asked about the clerical abuse crisis, which hits especially close to home for the Jesuits, who are currently grappling with allegations of sexual misconduct against famed Jesuit artist Marko Ivan Rupnik, who has been accused of abusing several adult women. He is currently being investigated by his order and could be defrocked at the end of the process.

Asked how to show God’s love to both the abused and the abuser, Francis said this “is not easy at all,” and that while there might be a feeling of “revulsion” when approaching an abuser, the question must also be asked of, “how can you love them?”

“The abuser is to be condemned, indeed, but as a brother. Condemning him is to be understood as an act of charity. There is a logic, a form of loving the enemy that is also expressed in this way. And it is not easy to understand and to live out,” he said.

“When you hear what abuse leaves in the hearts of abused people, the impression you get is very powerful…Even talking to the abuser involves revulsion; it’s not easy,” he said, but added, “they are God’s children too.”

“They deserve punishment, but they also deserve pastoral care. How do we provide that? No, it is not easy,” he said.

French lay group travels to build crosses and restore faith in Ireland

SOS Calvaires | Twitter, Instagram, Facebook | Linktree

A lay Catholic movement that restores Catholic monuments in France is in Ireland May 5–13 to build crosses with the hope of restoring faith in that country.

S.O.S. Calvaires CEO Alexandre Caillé, 26, told CNA a group will go to Croagh St. Patrick, a traditional Irish pilgrimage destination, and four other sites. “We’re going to erect five Celtic crosses all over the country,” he said. 

S.O.S. Calvaires — which has grown exponentially in just two years — was founded in 1987. Its motto is “Stat crux dum volvitur orbis” — “The world turns while the Cross remains.” 

The group seeks to restore the artistic and religious heritage of France, much of which is deteriorating under natural causes but also due to vandalism and government neglect.

The group does not receive any government funding. Its stated purpose is “to strengthen the unity of Christians around the Cross and do apostolate by example.”

The effort in Ireland is just the beginning of the group’s international outreach. S.O.S. Calvaires has already built a traditional cross in Armenia and has received requests to work in Belgium. Caillé said branches are planned for America and the rest of Europe.

A native of France, Caillé learned English while bicycling in Ireland for several months several years ago and was struck by the challenges to the Catholic faith he saw there. 

Another group member, who goes by the moniker “Titouann,” reflected on the political and religious divisions on the Emerald Isle: “I see this as a wonderful opportunity to seize this challenge in order to share our faith. In this country particularly impacted by religious wars, gathering around the cross is a sign of brotherhood given to the world.”

Restoring crosses in France

The French government holds title to nearly all Catholic monuments and places of worship in France but does not expend significant resources for upkeep despite calls for repair. However, permission must come from the government for restoration. According to the S.O.S. Calvaires website, 80% of church buildings of historical significance are in poor condition.

Some calvaries (open-air crucifixes) and crosses were built by St. Louis Grignon de Montfort, for example, more than 200 years ago and are found at crossroads and town centers, especially in rural areas. Crosses are found on mountain summits such as the Pic Saint-Loup in the south. In 2020, the 40-foot tall iron cross was cut down there and vandals scrawled graffiti that read “Secular peak.” Less than a week later, a wooden cross took its place and supporters raised more than 24,000 euros ($26,400) to erect a metal replacement.

S.O.S. Calvaires was once focused on a small area of France. In 2020, its goal was to restore at least one monument per quarter. However, after leaders rented a production facility and hired carpenters and staff, it has spread nationally. 

Since then, the branches of S.O.S. Calvaires have grown from two to 52 throughout France and have restored some 4,000 religious monuments. There are now approximately 3,000 active members, and hundreds of student volunteers and scouts provide additional needed work hours during the summer.

“When I arrived as CEO six months ago, we had 25 branches. In six months, we’ve doubled the number of branches. We are restoring more than one cross per day,” Caillé said. 

“Last year, we did 150 calvaries, and as of April 24 [of this year], we have restored 135 calvaries,” Caillé said, adding: “I think the budget will double.”

“The association was founded because Christian patrimony was in bad shape and needed restoration,” Caillé said. He explained that the founders were aging and had become less active; younger people took over and added renewed energy.

“They found that people were very receptive to this kind of activity: It’s outdoors in the pouring rain and carrying heavy things. So they were very interested in the association,” he said.

Referring to the small number of believers who attend church or temple weekly in France, Caillé said: “We want to restore hope.” While the group has restored two chapels and wants to restore more, members want them for worship rather than conversion by the government. 

“If you restore a church, it’s not for it to become a nightclub. It’s for it to become a church,” Caillé said.

Historical significance

The historical significance of the crosses is not lost on the members of S.O.S. Calvaires. The group has promised to restore a monumental iron cross at the birthplace of Charles-Melchior Artus de Bonchamps, a heroic commander of resistance forces of the Vendée region who fought to save fellow Catholics from the atheistic, genocidal Republican army in the 1790s. Incidentally, the Bonchamps family home was known as Château du Crucifix.

In March, a massive crucifix measuring more than 20 feet tall was restored in northwestern France, where it had lain concealed by a grove of trees. After its discovery, the group restored the 200-year-old crucifix and bronze corpus to their place in sight of a vineyard. A local priest officiated a blessing of the monument while dozens of local people looked on.

Many volunteers are not Christian but civic-minded people who acknowledge the importance of national heritage. Titouann told CNA: “It is a rich idea to show our faith as Christians.” 

Titouann grew up in an evangelical Christian home and is descended from a long line of devout Huguenots. “I feel the pride of being Christian, the pride of being saved, and of wanting to share this joy with the world,” he said.

“In France it is common to come across these calvaries; our villages all have them in their heart, our countryside is populated by crosses, and so whether we turn right or left, our decision is made under the gaze of this cross,” said Titouann, who will lead the group in Ireland. “I have always loved these calvaries, which represent an important part of the material heritage of the Church: not just the Catholic, Protestant, or Orthodox churches. No, these crosses belong to all Christians, who can see in them a reminder of our identity.”

Titouann said he hopes to preserve the monuments and even install new ones “to allow future generations to live this grace of meeting the cross by ‘chance’ on our walks.”

During one restoration, he recalled, “we were verbally attacked by a neighbor. Our calm and prayerful reaction threw him off balance, and he even ended up helping us and praying with us. What I retain from this episode is the quality of the testimony we bear.”

“We are gathered at this moment by our faith, and in spite of our differences we have succeeded in witnessing the love that we receive and that we bear to each other, between brothers and sisters,” he continued. “This has touched this person who obviously acted like this because of a lack of love.”

A restoration of just one of the large crucifixes costs more than $1,500. Restoration of bronze or cast iron statues and chapels can cost much more. S.O.S. Calvaires has created a smartphone app to allow users to identify calvaries, crosses, and other monuments for restoration. It continues to raise funds for its nonprofit work.

Commenting on the links between restoring Catholic monuments and Christian faith, Caillé said: “I have heard testimony of people coming to our association because of the cross, for the patrimony, and they go back with Christ. Because at the end of the work, they raise their eyes to the One who is on the cross and here ends our work and there begins the work of almighty God.”

“Our goal is to re-evangelize France and to restore as many calvaries as we can: There are hundreds of thousands. We have lots of things to do, so why not go abroad and reach every country with Christian patrimony,” Caillé said.

Young podcaster emulates media priest Father Mike Schmitz with ‘Kid’s Bible in a Year’

 Kid podcaster 1

When “The Bible in a Year” podcast hosted by Father Mike Schmitz shot to the top of the charts at the start of 2021, it inspired millions of people to dive more deeply into the Bible. 

One Michigan third grader was not content to merely listen, though — he wants to be a podcasting priest like Schmitz when he grows up. 

And he’s well on his way to making that dream a reality. 

Teddy Howell, 9, is the creator — with the help of his parents, Stephani and Sean — of the “Kid’s Bible in a Year with Teddy” podcast, which launched on March 12. In each episode, released Sundays and Wednesdays, Teddy leads a prayer and then reads a passage from the Great Adventure Kids Catholic Bible Chronicles, a book from publisher Ascension that provides 70 Bible stories arranged in the same timeline order that the “Bible in a Year” podcast uses. 

Teddy’s mom Stephani said her son, the oldest of six siblings, already loves learning about and sharing his Catholic faith with others. She said he often stays up at night reading the Bible under the covers with a headlamp and recently started serving at the altar at the family’s parish in southeast Michigan. 

“He’s always had a love for the Church and the priesthood. Kind of of his own accord, he decided he wanted to go to daily Mass over the summer,” she said.

When asked directly what he wants to be when he grows up, Teddy didn’t hesitate — he wants to be a priest. He said his favorite part of the Mass is the Liturgy of Eucharist, though given his love for the Bible, the Liturgy of the Word also touches him deeply. He said his favorite parts of the Bible are the Gospel passages about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. 

Teddy’s podcasting ambitions were sparked almost wholly by the example of Schmitz, the popular Minnesota priest who, in his podcast, reads through the entire Bible in 365 daily episodes, plus a prayer and reflection. 

Teddy’s parents would often put on “The Bible in a Year” for the family in the car, but turned it off if Schmitz issued any warnings about material unsuitable for children, as he occasionally does throughout the series. The interruptions perturbed Teddy, who craved a Bible podcast he could listen to in its entirety. 

It was this desire, along with the prayers offered by Schmitz at the end of each “Bible in a Year” episode, that really inspired Teddy to want to create his own podcast. 

He told his parents he wanted to give it a try, reading the Kids Catholic Bible Chronicles aloud. Stephani contacted the publisher of the book, Ascension, to see if they’d be willing to allow him to read the words from the book on-air. Ascension agreed (although Teddy always reads a disclaimer noting that Ascension doesn’t endorse or review the episodes).

Teddy begins each episode with a self-written prayer, then reads a passage from the book related to a Bible story, and then offers a reflection. He writes the scripts himself on his parents’ computer and then does the recording, editing, and posting of the episodes with their help. Teddy uses a microphone attached to his parents’ computer to get the job done. 

The technical aspects of creating the podcast have been a learning experience for Teddy’s parents as well. Sean said he asked around among his friends about how to start a podcast, and his friends recommended the online platform Anchor, which allows listeners to subscribe and listen on just about any podcast app. 

As of early May, Teddy has posted a dozen episodes, with no plans to slow down. His podcast has already garnered several thousand listens across several countries, with a growing number of five-star ratings. Ascension has even taken notice, sharing episodes from Teddy’s podcast on social media. 

Beyond being a great learning experience for the budding young priest, Teddy has genuine hopes that his podcast will touch people’s lives. 

“Hopefully a lot more people who are not Christian will become Christian by the end of this year by listening to my podcast,” he said.

Same-sex provision unlikely to be finalised in July, Synod planners accept

General Synod meets at York next month with debates from Ukraine war to  online safety | The Church of England

DRAFTS of prayers and blessings for same-sex couples in church, and guidance on their use, are unlikely to be finalised at the forthcoming meeting of the General Synod in York, the newly published timetable suggests.

The Synod will meet at York University from Friday 7 July to Tuesday 11 July. 

Just one session over these five days — on the Saturday afternoon — has been set aside to discuss the proposals first set out by the Bishops in January, concluding years of discernment through the Living in Love and Faith (LLF) process (News, 18 January).

A press release from Church House on Wednesday said that “the July meeting will include a substantial item on the proposals” — this may run for several hours. However, it also confirmed that a further group of sessions is to be held in November (13-15) in London to “provide an opportunity for Synod to consider any aspects of that work not completed by July”.

Since the proposals were approved by the Synod in London in February (News, 9 February), implementation groups have been established to refine the set of draft texts known as Prayers of Love and Faith, and work on new pastoral guidance on their use, as well as pastoral “reassurance” for clergy and laity who do not wish to offer these provisions.

In a joint statement, the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, and the Bishop of Truro, the Rt Revd Philip Mounstephen, who co-chair the steering group overseeing the implementation groups (News, 3 May), said that these were “working at pace and are making good progress”.

“We hope that work to refine the texts of Prayers of Love and Faith, together with aspects of the work of the Pastoral Guidance and Pastoral Reassurance groups, will be in place before the meeting of Synod in York in July.

“We will be bringing a report to Synod updating in more detail on the progress that has been made. Recognising the complexity of the matters being considered, we anticipate that time could be made available at the November meeting of Synod for any further work required.”

Other items on the agenda include a report from the National Investing Bodies on climate change; an item on safeguarding to include a presentation from the Independent Safeguarding Board (omitted from the previous Synod); and the first consideration of the Clergy Conduct Measure, which is to replace the Clergy Discipline Measure.

Bishop Martin Hayes: “Mountjoy Prison is under huge pressure”

Tipperary Bishop Martin Hayes supports statement by Catholic organisations  on COP26 - Tipperary Live

Following a visit to support the prison chaplaincy team in Mountjoy Prison, Dublin, Bishop Martin Hayes lamented the pressure that the prison system is under.

Bishop Hayes said, “people are sent to prison in the hope that they will mend their ways; that they will be rehabilitated. However, our prison system, despite the best of intentions, is struggling to achieve rehabilitation for those in custody. It is in this context that we cannot forget about those who are sent to prison, the men and women who are serving time for crimes that they committed.

“It is clear to me that the prison system in Mountjoy Prison is under huge pressure to cope with the demands placed upon it. The key message for me was that, while the population of our country has increased, the capacity of our Irish Prison Service – in terms of the total number of available cells – has not. It means that our prisons are becoming overcrowded resulting in instances of two prisoners occupying one cell, with one prisoner lying on the floor on a thin mattress, as I witnessed myself in Mountjoy.”

Bishop Hayes concluded, “Another challenge is the ease with which drugs can be delivered into the prison. As Mountjoy is a prison in a city, drugs can literally be catapulted into the grounds thus increasing their ‘market’ value. Drugs are sought to cope with prison life and, of course, they hinder rehabilitation efforts.

Bishop Martin Hayes is Bishop of Kilmore and liaison bishop with prison chaplains.

Progress for pilgrims as Vatican launches new website and app


The Vatican office in charge of coordinating plans for the Holy Year 2025 is launching a new website and an app to help people register and to guide them along their pilgrimage in Rome.

By registering online at or on the Jubilee app, people will receive a free digital “pilgrim’s card” which will be needed to participate in Jubilee events, especially gaining access to the Holy Door at St Peter’s Basilica, said Msgr Graham Bell, undersecretary of the Dicastery for Evangelisation’s section that is coordinating the Holy Year.

The Jubilee website will go live today and be available in nine languages, Msgr Bell told a news conference at the Vatican yesterday.

People can begin registering online starting in September, he said, “by clicking on the ‘participate’ button”. After registering, people will be able to access a personal page on the site’s “pilgrim’s zone”, which will also go live in September.

Registrants will receive a digital “pilgrim’s card”, which is a personal QR code needed to access Jubilee events and better facilitate the pilgrimage to the Holy Door, Msgr Bell said. 

The Jubilee website and app will give news and information on the Holy Door of St Peter’s and the other basilicas, as well as offer the possibility of organising one’s own pilgrimage within the city, he said.

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, pro-prefect of the section, said Pope Francis has asked all Catholics to prepare for the Jubilee by spending 2023 studying the documents of the Second Vatican Council, especially its four constitutions, which focused on: the liturgy; the Church as the people of God; Scripture; and the role of the Church in the modern world.

The ordinary Jubilee will begin with the opening of the Holy Door of St Peter’s Basilica in December 2024, he said, and there will be “major Jubilee events” throughout 2025.

US Government backs down over order to extinguish sanctuary candle

Catholic hospital says federal government told it to extinguish sanctuary  candle or risk funding - Catholic Review

With a potential lawsuit looming, the US Government has issued a waiver to allow a Catholic hospital in Oklahoma to keep the flame of its chapel sanctuary candle burning.

The Department of Health and Human Services “realised it would be playing with fire in court if it stood by its absurd demand, so it chose wisely,” Lori Windham, vice president and senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty said in a statement.

Following a hospital inspection in February, a surveyor commissioned by the US Government deemed that a living flame in the St Francis Hospital South chapel – part of the St Francis Health System – violated code, as it is “an open flame burning unattended 24/7.”

The surveyor issued a citation demanding the candle be extinguished. The Government then doubled down on the decision in an April 20 letter response to the hospital’s appeal and request for reconsideration, noting that the hospital would lose its accreditation if it didn’t follow the order.

Saint Francis Health Systems and the Becket, meanwhile, argued that Saint Francis cannot extinguish the flame as a matter of faith, since the living flame in the chapel is “a sign of the living presence of Jesus.”

A spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services that commissioned the surveyor, said in a statement that the two sides met, and the hospital will now work with the accrediting organisation on next steps to ensure safety.

“At the heart of Saint Francis’ mission is love for God and man. The living flame of our chapel candle indicates to all who enter our hospitals that we will serve them with religious devotion as Christ commands us,” Dr Cliff Robertson, Saint Francis Health System chief, said.

Dutch priest ‘tweets with God’ in Tasmania

Helping young people grow in understanding of the Catholic faith and tradition while nurturing a deeper relationship with God is at the heart of Fr Michel Remery’s “Tweeting with God” ministry.

Hailing from the Netherlands, Fr Remery has been a priest for 18 years and has served in various countries and roles, including Vice Secretary General of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences, as the National Youth Chaplain of Luxembourg and Secretary of both the Commission for Social Communications and the Commission for Catechesis, Schools, and Universities.

Invited by Catholic Education Tasmania, Fr Remery spent one week in April speaking to Catholic school students and staff across the state, both in person and through video conferences.

Speaking about his visit and his interactions with young people in schools, Fr Remery said what had stood out to him was the focus on the importance of evangelisation.

“The young people here are asking the same questions they’re asking in Holland, in Vietnam or in Africa or in any other continent.

“They’re asking the same questions because these are the fundamental questions, not only of young people, but of humanity – Questions about God, but also about how that affects my own life.

“I must say I found a lot of people who are generally searching for answers; searching for the truth and to do right, and I’ve only met marvellous people here,” he said.

Fr Remery added that his Tweeting with God ministry has come a long way from when it first began, and now includes the Tweeting with God book and smartphone app, “Online with the Saints” and other initiatives.

“Most of my time now is spent on the Ministry of Tweeting with God, Online with Saints, How to Grow in Faith – these different tools that we developed step by step in dialogue with young people.”