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St. Romero's brothers rejoice at his canonization

IMAGE: CNS photo/Jose Cabezas, Reuters

By Melissa Vida

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Before the sun rose in Rome Oct. 14, 88-year-old Gaspar Romero and his brother, 93-year-old Tiberio Romero were at the head of the line of thousands of people waiting to get into St. Peter's Square.

The two were at the Vatican for the canonization of their brother, St. Oscar Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador who was assassinated in 1980.

In the glow of the lights under the colonnade surrounding St. Peter's Square, the Romero brothers and other family members waited with a group of priests from El Salvador.

"Thanks to this event, our country has become known in the whole world," Gaspar Romero told Catholic News Service. "So many people in the world were waiting for this."

While standing in line, he shared an anecdote of the honors his brother received throughout the years.

"The biggest honor was when Queen Elizabeth of England contacted me," he said, explaining it happened under atypical circumstances. "I had seen in the papers that the Westminster Abbey was preparing a statue (of Archbishop Romero in 1998), and so I wrote a thank-you note to them."

A few days later, the British ambassador visited Gaspar Romero at his home and invited him to meet the queen. "For me that was something unexpected, unexplainable and unasked for," he said with a chuckle.

The Anglican Church, while not formally canonizing St. Romero, honored him and nine others as "martyrs of the 20th century" and erected their statues in Westminster Abbey. Lord Rowan Williams, the former archbishop of Canterbury, led an official delegation of the Anglican Communion at the canonization Mass in St. Peter's Square.

Although he had kept a low profile in the wake of his brother's death, Gaspar Romero recently has begun to share his experience publicly.

"I feel proud as a brother and as a family member," he said, "but also as part of the (Salvadoran) people because over there, they love him a lot."

The younger Romero said his trip to Rome made him realize just how much people from around the globe share that sentiment.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

For Catholics, St. Oscar Romero's canonization a dream come true

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Melissa Vida and Junno Arocho Esteves

ROME (CNS) -- For many pilgrims from El Salvador and for many Catholics who focus on the tie between faith and justice, waiting for the canonization of St. Oscar Romero was an exercise in patience.

The declaration of the sainthood of the Salvadoran archbishop, who was assassinated while celebrating Mass in 1980, teaches men and women that "holiness is first and foremost a gift" that doesn't come quickly, said Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Philippines.

"In Oscar Romero, we saw how he struggled, how he took the painful path of reconciling his previous understanding of the Gospel and the performance of the church's mission with the openness that Vatican II presented," the cardinal told Catholic News Service after celebrating a vigil Mass Oct. 13.

"In a world where everyone is in a hurry, in a rush, and we want things perfect, well, he seems to be telling us, 'Take it easy, be patient!' And if you have to suffer through your own internal revolution of change out of love, then it's worth going through it," he told CNS.

The Mass preceded a conference and a concert sponsored by Caritas Internationalis celebrating the Oct. 14 canonizations of both St. Romero and St. Paul VI.

Cardinal Tagle, president of Caritas Internationalis, presided at the vigil Mass along with Cardinals Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and Gregorio Rosa Chavez, auxiliary bishop of San Salvador.

Holding back tears, Cardinal Tagle said in his homily that true Christians give witness not to an ethic or a law, but "a person, Jesus who loved me, who gave his life for us and I experienced this love, this charity!"

"And when I live by that love, my life becomes a testimony to the gift I have received," he added. "And death does not become the annihilation of life, but death becomes the apex of life. When we love, we live. But when we love, we also die. But it is in dying that we live."

Cardinal Rodriguez said St. Romero's canonization wasn't just a reason for El Salvador to celebrate but for all Central America and that "it also is a reason to hope."

St. Romero "simply took up his cross," the cardinal said, "and it was a heavy cross because (it was) the cross of his brothers (bishops) who didn't support him -- because there were very few who supported him -- and even in the midst of that, he knew how to go forward until he triumphed."

For Manuel Roberto Lopez, El Salvador's ambassador to the Holy See, there is only one word that comes to mind as a Salvadoran witnessing the beloved archbishop's canonization: a blessing.

"That's the word that comes to mind because I feel that it is a blessing that comes from heaven not only for Salvadorans, it's for all Latin America, for the whole world," Lopez told CNS.

"I hope the Salvadoran people, especially young people, understand this message and they can truly live out the teachings of Romero because, if not, his blood will be shed for nothing," he said. "St. Romero is waiting for that fruit from us."

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, postulator for St. Romero's sainthood cause, said he believed the canonization of the Salvadoran archbishop and of St. Paul VI marks a turning point for the Catholic Church.

"For me, this is not only a beautiful celebration," Archbishop Paglia told CNS Oct. 13. The canonizations mark "a new step for the church."

"There will be three people, two who are in heaven and one on earth: Paul VI, Romero and Pope Francis, who all admire each other," the archbishop said. "This tryptic is explosive, and for me, the message is very clear: This is a church that has chosen to blend with history and with the preference of the poor."

"What the cardinals and priests who opposed (St. Romero's canonization) don't understand is that (St. Romero's) faith was not theoretical, it was a faith blended with current times, charity, justice and the forces of a changing world," Archbishop Paglia said.

Before sunrise Oct. 14 thousands of pilgrims stood in line to enter St. Peter's Square for the canonization Mass; many of them were wearing white and blue scarves and hats, the colors of El Salvador's flag.

"We have been waiting since midnight and we haven't slept because we want to be among those privileged to be here for the 6 million Salvadorans who wanted to come," Jose Antonio Garcia Garcia, a Salvadoran pilgrim living in Rome, told CNS.

"It is a historic event, a transcendental day," Liliana Emeldy Reyes, another pilgrim who traveled from El Salvador, told CNS.

As St. Romero is known for defending the poor and the victims of El Salvador's military repression in the 1970s, some viewed his legacy as politicized. Reyes told CNS she was among those who had a negative opinion of him until a few years ago.

"Many people would say that he was polarizing and that he wasn't a universal person but only fighting for the left," Reyes told CNS. She changed her mind when she met pilgrims who traveled to El Salvador for his beatification in 2015. "Now I know that he is a just man," she said.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Saints risk all for love of Jesus, pope says at canonization Mass

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Carrying Pope Paul VI's pastoral staff and wearing the blood-stained belt of Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador, Pope Francis formally recognized them, and five others, as saints of the Catholic Church.

Thousands of pilgrims from the new saints' home countries -- Italy, El Salvador, Spain and Germany -- were joined by tens of thousands of others Oct. 14 in St. Peter's Square to celebrate the universal recognition of the holiness of men and women they already knew were saints.

Carolina Escamilla, who traveled from San Salvador for canonization, said she was "super happy" to be in Rome. "I don't think there are words to describe all that we feel after such a long-awaited and long-desired moment like the 'official' canonization, because Archbishop Romero was already a saint when he was alive."

Each of the new saints lived lives marked by pain and criticism -- including from within the church -- but all of them dedicated themselves with passionate love to following Jesus and caring for the weak and the poor, Pope Francis said in his homily.

The new saints are: Paul VI, who led the last sessions of the Second Vatican Council and its initial implementation; Romero, who defended the poor, called for justice and was assassinated in 1980; Vincenzo Romano, an Italian priest who died in 1831; Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa, a Spanish nun who ministered in Mexico and Bolivia and died in 1943; Catherine Kasper, the 19th-century German founder of a religious order; Francesco Spinelli, a 19th-century priest and founder of a religious order; and Nunzio Sulprizio, a layman who died in Naples in 1836 at the age of 19.

"All these saints, in different contexts," put the Gospel "into practice in their lives, without lukewarmness, without calculation, with the passion to risk everything and to leave it all behind," Pope Francis said in his homily.

The pope, who has spoken often about being personally inspired by both St. Paul VI and St. Oscar Romero, prayed that every Christian would follow the new saints' examples by shunning an attachment to money, wealth and power, and instead following Jesus and sharing his love with others.

And he prayed the new saints would inspire the whole church to set aside "structures that are no longer adequate for proclaiming the Gospel, those weights that slow down our mission, the strings that tie us to the world."

Among those in St. Peter's Square for the Mass was Rossi Bonilla, a Salvadoran now living in Barcelona. "I'm really emotional, also because I did my Communion with Monsignor Romero when I was eight years old," she told Catholic News Service.

"He was so important for the neediest; he was really with the people and kept strong when the repression started," Bonilla said. "The struggle continues for the people, and so here we are!"

Claudia Lombardi, 24, came to the canonization from Brescia, Italy -- St. Paul VI's hometown. Her local saint, she said, "brought great fresh air" to the church with the Second Vatican Council and "has something to say to us today," particularly with his 1968 encyclical "Humanae Vitae" on human life and married love, especially its teaching about "the conception of life, the protection of life always."

In his homily, Pope Francis said that "Jesus is radical."

"He gives all and he asks all; he gives a love that is total and asks for an undivided heart," the pope said. "Even today he gives himself to us as the living bread; can we give him crumbs in exchange?"

Jesus, he said, "is not content with a 'percentage of love.' We cannot love him 20 or 50 or 60 percent. It is either all or nothing" because "our heart is like a magnet -- it lets itself be attracted by love, but it can cling to one master only and it must choose: either it will love God or it will love the world's treasure; either it will live for love or it will live for itself."

"A leap forward in love," he said, is what would enable individual Christians and the whole church to escape "complacency and self-indulgence."

Without passionate love, he said, "we find joy in some fleeting pleasure, we close ourselves off in useless gossip, we settle into the monotony of a Christian life without momentum where a little narcissism covers over the sadness of remaining unfulfilled."

The day's Gospel reading recounted the story of the rich young man who said he followed all the commandments and precepts of Jewish law, but he asks Jesus what more he must do to have eternal life.

"Jesus' answer catches him off guard," the pope said. "The Lord looks upon him and loves him. Jesus changes the perspective from commandments observed in order to obtain a reward, to a free and total love."

In effect, he said, Jesus is telling the young man that not doing evil is not enough, nor is it enough to give a little charity or say a few prayers. Following Jesus means giving him absolute first place in one's life. "He asks you to leave behind what weighs down your heart, to empty yourself of goods in order to make room for him, the only good."

"Do we content ourselves with a few commandments or do we follow Jesus as lovers, really prepared to leave behind something for him?" the pope asked people gathered in St. Peter's Square, including the 267 members of the Synod of Bishops and the 34 young people who are observers at the gathering.

"A heart unburdened by possessions, that freely loves the Lord, always spreads joy, that joy for which there is so much need today," Pope Francis said. "Today Jesus invites us to return to the source of joy, which is the encounter with him, the courageous choice to risk everything to follow him, the satisfaction of leaving something behind in order to embrace his way."

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Contributing to this story were Carol Glatz, Junno Arocho Esteves and Melissa Vida.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Wis 7:7-11

I prayed, and prudence was given me;
I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me.
I preferred her to scepter and throne,
and deemed riches nothing in comparison with her,
nor did I liken any priceless gem to her;
because all gold, in view of her, is a little sand,
and before her, silver is to be accounted mire.
Beyond health and comeliness I loved her,
and I chose to have her rather than the light,
because the splendor of her never yields to sleep.
Yet all good things together came to me in her company,
and countless riches at her hands.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 90:12-13, 14-15, 16-17

R. (14) Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!
Teach us to number our days aright,
that we may gain wisdom of heart.
Return, O LORD! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
R. Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!
Fill us at daybreak with your kindness,
that we may shout for joy and gladness all our days.
Make us glad, for the days when you afflicted us,
for the years when we saw evil.
R. Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!
Let your work be seen by your servants
and your glory by their children;
and may the gracious care of the LORD our God be ours;
prosper the work of our hands for us!
Prosper the work of our hands!
R. Fill us with your love, O Lord, and we will sing for joy!

Reading 2 Heb 4:12-13

Brothers and sisters:
Indeed the word of God is living and effective,
sharper than any two-edged sword,
penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow,
and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.
No creature is concealed from him,
but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him
to whom we must render an account.

Alleluia Mt 5:3

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 10:17-30

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up,
knelt down before him, and asked him,
"Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
Jesus answered him, "Why do you call me good?
No one is good but God alone.
You know the commandments: You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
you shall not defraud;
honor your father and your mother."

He replied and said to him,
"Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth."
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,
"You are lacking in one thing.
Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."
At that statement his face fell,
and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,
"How hard it is for those who have wealth
to enter the kingdom of God!"
The disciples were amazed at his words.
So Jesus again said to them in reply,
"Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."
They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves,
"Then who can be saved?"
Jesus looked at them and said,
"For human beings it is impossible, but not for God.
All things are possible for God."
Peter began to say to him,
"We have given up everything and followed you."
Jesus said, "Amen, I say to you,
there is no one who has given up house or brothers or sisters
or mother or father or children or lands
for my sake and for the sake of the gospel
who will not receive a hundred times more now in this present age:
houses and brothers and sisters
and mothers and children and lands,
with persecutions, and eternal life in the age to come."

or MK 10:17-27

As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up,
knelt down before him, and asked him,
"Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
Jesus answered him, "Why do you call me good?
No one is good but God alone.
You know the commandments: You shall not kill;
you shall not commit adultery;
you shall not steal;
you shall not bear false witness;
you shall not defraud;
honor your father and your mother."

He replied and said to him,
"Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth."
Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him,
"You are lacking in one thing.
Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor
and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me."
At that statement his face fell,
and he went away sad, for he had many possessions.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples,
"How hard it is for those who have wealth
to enter the kingdom of God!"
The disciples were amazed at his words.
So Jesus again said to them in reply,
"Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!
It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle
than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God."
They were exceedingly astonished and said among themselves,
"Then who can be saved?"
Jesus looked at them and said,
"For human beings it is impossible, but not for God.
All things are possible for God."
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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

President of U.S. Bishops Conference and Chairman of USCCB Domestic Justice Committee Issue Statements on Hurricane Michael

ROME—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued the following statement on the devastating impact of Hurricane Michael from the Florida Panhandle to Virginia.

Full statement of Cardinal DiNardo follows:

"In the wake of two powerful hurricanes, people across the southeast now face the long process of recovery. May God's mercy comfort family and friends who have lost loved ones and sustain those rebuilding their homes and businesses. Let us respond with prayer and personal generosity.

As a community of faith, we remain with our brothers and sisters throughout their journey. I am grateful for the way so many volunteer their time, make donations, and witness to the need long after the headlines fade. Your generosity reveals Christ is present.

Humanitarian needs still exist from previous hurricanes. New storms will bring new suffering. Together, we can help communities carry this cross. Thousands of parishes have taken up an Emergency Collection for 2018 Natural Disasters. You can also support relief efforts in the United States by visiting www.catholiccharitiesusa.org or internationally at www.crs.org.

Thank you and may God bless you in this time of great need."

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Hurricane Michael, natural disasters, prayer

Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

WASHINGTON—Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice Florida, Chair of the of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, has issued the following statement regarding Hurricane Michael's swath of deadly destruction which has devastated the Florida Panhandle, and parts of Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia. In his statement, Bishop Dewane calls for prayers for all those who have been impacted, as well as prayers for the first responders and those who have been evacuated. Full statement from Bishop Dewane follows:

"Our nation is yet again facing the impact of a powerful and deadly hurricane. Our brothers and sisters in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras and Cuba have already felt Hurricane Michael's destruction, and we pray for their recovery efforts.

As Hurricane Michael has moved with deadly force through the Florida Panhandle, Alabama, Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia; we lift up in prayer all of those who are impacted, asking almighty God to guide the steady hands of first responders and to widen the hearts of all who are able to be generous to neighbors facing danger, grief, or displacement of any kind due to the disaster.

While the fury of this storm season continues, I am reminded of the disciples' plea to Jesus as a violent storm threatened their lives: 'Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?' (Mk 4, 38). At a time like this, when human lives are disrupted and the mystery of suffering becomes a painful reality for so many, we implore to the one who 'commands even the winds and the sea' (Lk 8, 25) to give them strength and protection.

Prayers and generosity are greatly needed at this time. With great faith and hope in the midst of this crisis may all our work and efforts go towards helping those in need. Last week, the day after tropical storm Michael was first monitored, the USCCB 'requested that dioceses across the country take up an emergency collection on behalf of those devastated by Hurricane Florence, as well as any forthcoming natural disasters this year.' The funds collected in this special appeal for 2018 Disasters will be used to support the efforts of Catholic Charities USA and/or Catholic Relief Services, the official relief agencies of the U.S. Catholic Church as they and their local agencies respond to immediate emergency needs.

As the impact of Hurricane Michael becomes clearer, we will work closely with local dioceses, Catholic relief entities and with other organizations to assess the needs on the ground and offer assistance.

Let us join in prayer for all those who are in the path of Hurricane Michael. May God bless and protect you."

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Keywords: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Bishop Frank Dewane, Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Hurricane Michael, Catholic Charities USA and/or Catholic Relief Services, devastation, assistance.

Media Contact:

Judy Keane

202-541-3200

Saturday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 Gal 3:22-29

Brothers and sisters:
Scripture confined all things under the power of sin,
that through faith in Jesus Christ
the promise might be given to those who believe.

Before faith came, we were held in custody under law,
confined for the faith that was to be revealed.
Consequently, the law was our disciplinarian for Christ,
that we might be justified by faith.
But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a disciplinarian.
For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus.
For all of you who were baptized into Christ
have clothed yourselves with Christ.
There is neither Jew nor Greek,
there is neither slave nor free person,
there is not male and female;
for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants,
heirs according to the promise.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 105:2-3, 4-5, 6-7

R. (8a) The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
proclaim all his wondrous deeds.
Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
Look to the LORD in his strength;
seek to serve him constantly.
Recall the wondrous deeds that he has wrought,
his portents, and the judgments he has uttered.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R. The Lord remembers his covenant for ever.
or:
R. Alleluia.

Alleluia Lk 11:28

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Blessed are those who hear the word of God
and observe it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 11:27-28

While Jesus was speaking,
a woman from the crowd called out and said to him,
"Blessed is the womb that carried you
and the breasts at which you nursed."
He replied, "Rather, blessed are those
who hear the word of God and observe it."
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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Young people want leaders who are fathers, not Pharisees, observer says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Catholic Church must be a place of justice and mercy, and its members must be catalysts for change, some young observers said at the Synod of Bishops Oct. 11.

"In order to teach justice and mercy to our young people, the church must first be a place of justice and mercy for our young people," said Joseph Moeono-Kolio from Samoa, who was representing the Caritas Internationalis Youth Forum and young people from the Pacific Islands.

He asked the synod what young people could to do about uprooting injustice from the world "when we can't do it within our own churches?"

The problem of clerical sexual abuse and corruption are present in his region, he said, but "reporting it or even speaking of it here is professional and cultural suicide."

"Young people are tired of Pharisees, we need fathers," he said.

Moeono-Kolio used an analogy for how he would like to see young people and elders live and work together. When his ancestors would sail from island to island, he said, strong young people were put in charge of paddling while the elders onboard were in charge of reading the stars in the sky and the ocean currents in order to guide the boat to their common destination.

Whether it is the Pacific Ocean or today's sea of challenges, he said, "until we start paddling together by way of listening and equipping our young people with the tools to navigate the inevitable storms, our canoe will only float into irrelevance."

"But if you, our elders, set the right course and steer this canoe in the right direction, we the young faithful are ready to help you power it through the challenges" and bring the light of faith to the ends of the world, he said.

Nicole Anne Perez, who is a catechist in the Philippines, voiced her concerns to the synod about how Catholics in youth ministry can be catalysts of change and find solace, guidance and love in a region with so many huge problems.

The breakdown of families, parents focused more on money than their children, predators taking advantage of children's poverty for sexual exploitation, inauthentic online relationships and casual sex all leave "ordinary" people wondering what they can do to solve these problems, she said.

Her answer, she explained, is found in Jesus telling the Pharisee that the greatest commandment of all is love -- loving God and loving one's neighbor as oneself.

Perez said she looks inside herself to make sure she is being "a spark of light in the dark," spreading that spark to others and leading other people to "the true light."

"Let us be Jesus to others, letting them see the source of true light in our own lives and relationships," she said.

Chaldean Catholic Safa al Abbia, a 26-year-old dentist from Iraq, urged the synod participants to pray for Iraq and support its Christians and churches.

He said he understands the importance of talking about the more common themes at the synod -- the family, sexuality and social media -- but the main challenge for young people in Iraq is "peace and stability and their right to live in dignity."

Young people are struggling to remain faithful as witnesses to Jesus and hold onto their traditions, values and liturgy, he said. But they have grown up seeing many of their brothers and sisters martyred and their churches bombed.

"I will never forget the face of my friends after the Mass when they said, 'See you next week,' and I never saw them again because they were burned under the fire of the bombed car" near their church one year.

Young people also are leaving the country because of diminishing opportunities in employment and education as well as a breakdown in values and the law, he said. As a result, "Iraqi youth are questioning the impact of being Iraqis on their life, the role of God and the role of the church in spite of all the good effort of the church in assisting."

Al Abbia told Pope Francis that he had a message for him from young people, "They hope one day to see you in Iraq."

Henriette Camara, a member of the Catholic scouts in Guinea, told the synod that the scout movement "is deeply permeated with Gospel values" and it helps young people deepen their faith and love for Christ and the church.

Catholic scouts can help those young people who have given up on life or are headed down errant paths, she said, because "we are young optimists who face life's daily problems with stamina, courage and wisdom."

Mantantu Vita, who works in youth ministry at the Congo bishops' conference, told the synod the ministry's aim is to guide young people in all aspects of their lives so they can become responsible adults.

To be someone who accompanies, she said, isn't about trying to attract young people to entertain them, keep them busy or help them "kill their free time."

It is being someone who is a true guide, leading them toward Jesus, whom they greatly need, she said.

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

New documentary reveals rare interview of Blessed Oscar Romero

IMAGE: CNS photo/Oscar Romero: A Shepherd according to the heart of Christ

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A new documentary about Blessed Oscar Romero, featuring a rare interview with him, revealed the martyred archbishop's thoughts regarding accusations that he became too progressive.

Salvadoran Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez shared an excerpt of the interview with journalists during a briefing Oct. 11 at the Vatican press office.

"We had never heard this before because it was dubbed in German. We waited 40 years to find out what Archbishop Romero said," Cardinal Rosa Chavez said.

The cardinal, who directed the documentary "Oscar Romero: A Shepherd According to the Heart of Christ," explained that in 1979 a Swiss television crew visited the future saint and asked to follow him for one week.

Blessed Romero's response to a question regarding the fact that he "changed from a conservative bishop to a progressive bishop," he said, is a question "that has caused so much debate" and is now answered by the slain archbishop himself.

"I don't think there has been a substantial change," Archbishop Romero said in the interview. "It is more of an evolution in accordance with the circumstances. My goal as a priest has always been to be faithful to the vocation, to the service of the church and the people."

Although the Salvadoran archbishop did not view his support of the poor and the oppressed as support for a political ideology, rumors abounded both in the halls of El Salvador's right-wing government and in the corridors of the Vatican.

Cardinal Rosa Chavez told journalists that the same year the documentary was filmed, Blessed Romero met with the newly elected pope, St. John Paul II.

The meeting, the cardinal said, was "disconcerting for Romero" because the pope scolded him for his lack of harmony with the Salvadoran bishops. At the time, several reports from the Salvadoran bishops' conference were sent to the Pope John Paul accusing Romero of causing division.

In his diary entry following the meeting, Blessed Romero said that he was "worried to see how much the negative reports of my pastoral work had influenced the pope."

However, Cardinal Rosa Chavez explained, after Blessed Romero's martyrdom, St. John Paul realized the inaccuracy of the reports. The pope even visited the slain archbishop's tomb in 1983 against the wishes of the Salvadoran government and local church leaders.

"The pope went to the Blessed Sacrament and then to Romero's tomb where he prostrated in prayer; I was very close to him and the pope said, 'Romero is a saint,'" the cardinal recalled.

The documentary featured footage of the Salvadoran archbishop visiting El Paisnal, the hometown of Jesuit Father Rutilio Grande and the church where he was buried alongside two local farmers who were killed with him.

Father Grande, a close friend of Blessed Romero, was known as a champion of the poor and the oppressed at a time when El Salvador was on the threshold of a civil war, a war that eventually killed over 70,000 people.

Father Grande's death in 1977 at the hands of El Salvador's notorious death squads is believed to have been the inspiration for Archbishop Romero to take up the mantle of defending the poor.

In his interview with Swiss television, Blessed Romero said that there "has never been such a violent circumstance as it was for me when I arrived at the archdiocese. When I arrived, they were expelling priests and the month after my arrival, they killed Father Rutilio Grande."

Standing in the church where his dear friend was laid to rest, Archbishop Romero prayed, "May the blood so sorrowfully shed of this dear brother, Father Rutilio, together with his two farmer friends -- Nelson Rutilio (Lemus) and Manuel (Solorzano) -- signify a fruitful wellspring that continues to bear fruit."

Blessed Romero told the Swiss journalist that it was not only Father Grande's death that pushed him to become more outspoken, but also "the need to defend the church that is so persecuted to the point of murdering priests."

Both reasons, he said, "push me toward a more powerful ministry in defense of the rights of the church and the rights of men and women."

Asked if he was scared that he would be killed like his friends, Blessed Romero admitted that while he did have a "prudent concern" about threats to his life, he did not experience a "fear that inhibits me, that prevents me from working."

"I feel that while I walk along fulfilling my duty, while I go around freely being a shepherd to the communities, God is with me," he said. "And if something happens to me, then I am prepared for everything."

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Devil destroys overtly or slyly by pretending to be a friend, pope says

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The devil is more dangerous when he is polite and friendly, persuading people to be "lukewarm" and worldly, than when he shows his true face and blatantly pushes people to sin, Pope Francis said.

The vocation or "nature of the devil is to destroy" what God has created, the pope said Oct. 12 in his homily during morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

When the devil is unable to destroy something directly, through conflict or vices, he looks for another, sneakier way to attack because he is "slier than a fox," the pope said.

The battle between good and evil is being fought even inside each person, "perhaps unbeknownst to us, but we are in battle," he said.

"We Christians, Catholics, we go to Mass, pray," admit to having some flaws and recognize a few "little sins, but all seems to be in order," the pope said.

That is when the devil puts on a friendly face, "he goes and looks for a nice-looking clique, knocks on the door, 'Hello? May I come in?' He rings the doorbell," Pope Francis said, reflecting on the day's Gospel reading (Lk 11:15-26). The passage talks about an unclean spirit that is cast from his "home" and then "brings back seven other spirits more wicked than itself" to move back in and make the person's situation worse than before.

"These well-mannered demons are worse than the first because you don't realize that you have them there at home," inside oneself, he said.

These demons, "don't make noise, they make friends, they persuade you," convincing people that it is OK to become mediocre, "lukewarm" and worldly.

"So often I ask myself, which is worse in a person's life," the devil trapping people into obvious sin, which leads them to feel ashamed, or a well-mannered devil who "is at your table, lives with you and all seems normal, but he makes insinuations and possesses you with the worldly spirit?" he asked.

Therefore, the pope said, people need to be calmly vigilant against falling into "spiritual mediocrity," which "corrupts us from within."

People must ask themselves: "What is happening in my heart? Why am I so mediocre? Why am I so lukewarm? How many polite ones live at home without paying rent?"

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Update: Pope accepts Cardinal Wuerl's resignation as Washington archbishop

IMAGE: CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters

By

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl as archbishop of Washington but did not name a successor.

When the pope's decision was announced Oct. 12, the Archdiocese of Washington released a letter from Pope Francis to the cardinal, making clear his support for Cardinal Wuerl's ministry and leadership, but also praising the cardinal for putting the good of the church first.

"You have sufficient elements to 'justify' your actions and distinguish between what it means to cover up crimes or not to deal with problems, and to commit some mistakes," the pope wrote. "However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defense. Of this, I am proud and thank you."

The archdiocese also announced the pope has named Cardinal Wuerl as apostolic administrator to oversee the archdiocese until a successor is named.

Cardinal Wuerl had been facing pressure to resign after an Aug. 14 grand jury report detailing sexual abuse claims in six Pennsylvania dioceses painted a mixed picture of how he handled some of the cases when he was bishop in Pittsburgh from 1988 until 2006.

The 77-year-old cardinal, the sixth archbishop of Washington, had submitted his resignation, as is mandatory, to the pope when he turned 75, but it had not been accepted until now.

After his resignation was announced Oct. 12, Cardinal Wuerl said in a statement: "Once again for any past errors in judgment, I apologize and ask for pardon. My resignation is one way to express my great and abiding love for you the people of the church of Washington."

The cardinal also thanked Pope Francis for what he had expressed in his letter, saying, "I am profoundly grateful for his devoted commitment to the well-being of the archdiocese of Washington and also deeply touched by his gracious words of understanding."

In early September, Cardinal Wuerl told priests of the archdiocese that he would meet with Pope Francis and ask him to accept his resignation "so that this archdiocesan church we all love can move forward" and can experience "a new beginning."

The Vatican announcement that the pope accepted his resignation came more than two months after the announcement that Pope Francis accepted the resignation of retired Washington Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick from the College of Cardinals. Archbishop McCarrick faces credible allegations of sexual abuse, including two that involved minors; Pope Francis ordered him to maintain "a life of prayer and penance" while awaiting a trial or other canonical process on the charges.

Cardinal Wuerl has said until the Archdiocese of New York began investigating the claims that Archbishop McCarrick abused a minor, he was never informed of such accusations or even the rumors of Archbishop McCarrick's sexual harassment of seminarians.

In a letter Aug. 30 to the priests of the archdiocese, Cardinal Wuerl apologized for not being as close to his priests as he could or should have been in the wake of all the abuse-related scandals.

Cardinal Wuerl asked the priests "for prayers for me, for forgiveness for my errors in judgment, for my inadequacies and also for your acceptance of my contrition for any suffering I have caused, as well as the grace to find, with you, ways of healing, ways of offering fruitful guidance in this darkness."

"Would you please," he told the priests, "let the faithful you serve know of my love, my commitment to do whatever is necessary to right what is wrong and my sincere solidarity with you and them."

Cardinal Wuerl has been archbishop of Washington for the past 12 years. He earlier served as an auxiliary bishop of Seattle from 1986 until 1988, when he was named bishop of Pittsburgh, where he served for 18 years.

The Archdiocese of Washington is home to more than 655,000 Catholics, 139 parishes and 93 Catholic schools, located in the District of Columbia and in the five surrounding Maryland counties of Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George's and St. Mary's.

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Contributing to this story was Cindy Wooden in Rome and Mark Zimmermann in Washington.

 

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Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.