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Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) declares its 'full independence'

Onufriy, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), at a liturgy in Kyiv, May 8, 2016. / Sergento via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Denver Newsroom, May 28, 2022 / 13:45 pm (CNA).

A council of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) on Friday resolved on its “full self-sufficiency and independence,” distancing the Church from Russian Orthodoxy.

The decision comes amid the third month of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has been prominently supported by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow.

“The Council adopted relevant amendments and additions to the Statutes on the administration of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, indicating the full self-sufficiency and independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,” the Church resolved May 27 in Kyiv.

The council also condemned the Russo-Ukrainian War, gave terms for dialogue with the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, and broached the possibility of making chrism, which as been considered a sign of autocephaly in the Russian tradition.

“The council condemns the war as a violation of God’s commandment Thou shalt not kill,” it said, and it expressed its “disagreement with the position of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia regarding the war in Ukraine.”

It asked that Russian and Ukrainian authorities continue to negotiate. 

Given the difficulties of communication amid the war, diocesan bishop were granted “the right to independently make decisions on certain issues of diocesan life that fall within the competence of the Holy Synod or the primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, with the subsequent informing of the hierarchy, when the opportunity is restored.”

Considering the flight of millions of Ukrainians amid the war it resolved to support the diaspora, expressing “its deep conviction that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church cannot leave its faithful without spiritual care, must be close to them in their trials, and organize church communities … It’s necessary to further develop the mission abroad among Orthodox Ukrainians in order to preserve their faith, culture, language, and Orthodox identity.”

Eastern Orthodoxy in Ukraine is split between the UOC-MP and the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, which was granted autocephaly by the Ecumenical Patriarch in 2019. Since the Russian invasion, some parishes of the UOC-MP have transferred to the OCU, and some have stopped commemorating Patriarch Kirill in the Divine Liturgy.

The council expressed “deep regret over the lack of unity in Ukrainian Orthodoxy,” saying it was “particularly disappointing” that the granting of autocephaly to the OCU “deepened misunderstandings and led to physical confrontation.”

Dialogue could resume, it said, if the OCU stops “the forcible seizures of churches and forced transfers of parishes” of the UOC-MP; “realize that their canonical status … is actually not autocephalous”; and “resolve the issue of the canonicity of the OCU hierarchy, because for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, as for most Local Orthodox Churches, it’s quite obvious that in order to recognize the canonicity of the OCU hierarchy, it’s necessary to restore the Apostolic Succession of its bishops.”

Massachusetts parish packs close to 48,000 meals for families in Haiti

Volunteers pack meals for families in Haiti at St. Cecilia parish in Wilbraham, Mass., May 2022. / St. Cecilia Parish, Wilbraham

Springfield, Mass., May 28, 2022 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

More than 150 volunteers at St. Cecilia Parish in Wilbraham, Massachusetts spent May 21 and 22 packing nearly 48,000 meals for needy families in Haiti. The parish’s Hope Ministry assists families in Haiti each year. This is the second year the parish participated in the Feed Haiti Pack-a-thon project, run by Holy Name Haiti Health Promise. The New Jersey nonprofit operates Hospital Sacre Coeur, located in Milot, Haiti.

“This is the second year doing the food pack-a-thon because there’s such severe famine,” said parishioner Kathy Fuss, who co-chaired the project with fellow parishioner Katy Reed.

“Feed the Hunger provides the team and the food which we bought for 35 cents a meal. All of our food is going to Hospital Sacre Coeur which is now part of Haiti Health Promise, formerly known as the CRUDEM Foundation,” Fuss explained.

In March, the parish held a Hope Haiti fundraiser to pay for the meals. A parishioner, Dr. Peter J. Kelly, an ophthalmologist and eye surgeon in Ludlow, is the former president of the CRUDEM Foundation. Dr. Kelly has led many efforts to help those in need in Haiti with parishioners from St. Cecilia’s through the years. In addition, St. Cecilia’s has also helped fund the building of 19 houses in Haiti.

“This all started because of Peter Kelly. That’s how people from St. Cecilia’s started going to Haiti,” said Fuss, a registered nurse who has gone on two mission trips to Haiti.

All of the food packed at the church this weekend will be distributed by Hospital Sacre Coeur in Haiti. Several other pack-a-thons have been held in recent weeks around the country.

“At St. Cecilia Parish, we try to put faith in action through our youth and seniors and everyone in between,” said Father John Connors, the pastor of St. Cecilia Parish. “This weekend is an example. Jesus calls us to feed to hungry. With several thousand meals packed up, parishioners have had an impact to do just that,” he said.

This article was first published by the Catholic Communications Corporation, supporting the Diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts, May 22, and is reprinted at Catholic News Agency with permission.

Pope Francis invites Mongolian Buddhists and Catholics to work together to end violence

Pope Francis met with an interreligious delegation including leaders of Buddhism in Mongolia on May 28, 2022 / Vatican Media

Vatican City, May 28, 2022 / 07:10 am (CNA).

Pope Francis invited Catholics and Buddhists to work together for peace and nonviolence, during a Vatican meeting with Buddhist leaders from Mongolia on Saturday.

“Peace is the ardent yearning of humanity today. Therefore, through dialogue at all levels, it is urgent to promote a culture of peace and nonviolence and to work for it,” the pope said on May 28, speaking from a wheelchair in his study.

“This dialogue must call on everyone to reject violence in all its forms, including violence against the environment,” he stated. “Unfortunately, there are those who continue to abuse religion by using it to justify acts of violence and hatred.”

The leaders of Mongolian Buddhism met with Pope Francis in the Vatican’s apostolic palace, together with Bishop Giorgio Marengo, apostolic prefect of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Cardinal Miguel Ayuso Giuxot, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue was also present.

The Mongolian Buddhist authorities are in Rome to mark the 30th anniversary of the presence of the Catholic Church in Mongolia and the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the East Asian country and the Holy See.

In Mongolia, around 53% of the population is Buddhist. There are an estimated 1,300 Catholics out of a total population of 3.2 million.

The visit of the Mongolian Buddhist delegation to the Vatican “is intended to deepen your friendly relations with the Catholic Church, to promote mutual understanding and cooperation in order to build a peaceful society,” Pope Francis noted.

He noted that both Jesus and Buddha were peacemakers, and said, “in a world ravaged by conflict and war, as religious leaders, deeply rooted in our respective religious doctrines, we have a duty to arouse in humanity the will to renounce violence and build a culture of peace.”

Despite the small number of Catholics in Mongolia, “the Church is fully committed to promoting a culture of encounter, following her Master and Founder who said, ‘Love one another as I have loved you,’” Pope Francis said.

“Let us strengthen our friendship for the good of all,” he urged. “Mongolia has a long tradition of peaceful coexistence of different religions. My hope is that this ancient history of harmony in diversity can continue today through the effective implementation of religious freedom and the promotion of joint initiatives for the common good.”

“Your presence here today is in itself a sign of hope. With these sentiments, I invite you to continue your fraternal dialogue and good relations with the Catholic Church in your country, for the cause of peace and harmony,” he stated.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, former Vatican secretary of state, dies at 94

Cardinal Angelo Sodano speaks at the funeral Mass for the former archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Bernard Law, who died in 2017. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Vatican City, May 28, 2022 / 04:15 am (CNA).

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, former Vatican diplomat and retired secretary of state, died on Friday at the age of 94.

The ex-dean of the College of Cardinals had contracted pneumonia after becoming ill with COVID-19; He had been hospitalized since May 9 at Rome’s Columbus Hospital. His funeral will be held in St. Peter’s Basilica on May 31.

In a May 28 statement, Pope Francis said that the death of Cardinal Sodano “stirs in my soul feelings of gratitude to the Lord for the gift of this esteemed man of the Church, who lived with generosity his priesthood first in the Diocese of Asti and then, for the rest of his long existence, in the service of the Holy See.”

Cardinal Sodano retired as secretary of state in 2006, after leading the powerful curial office for 15 years under both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

He had come under criticism in the later part of his life for allegedly covering up sexual abuse by Legionaries of Christ founder Marcial Maciel, former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and others.

Juan Carlos Cruz, a clerical sex abuse survivor from Chile and member of the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, wrote on Twitter on May 28, that Cardinal Sodano “did so much harm to so many people and covered up years of abuse in Chile and the world.”

Sodano was nuncio to Chile from 1977 to 1988. He also served in the nunciatures in Ecuador and Uruguay, and was secretary of the Council for the Public Affairs of the Church.

At the same time as reports were coming out about Sodano’s actions on abuse in 2019, Pope Francis accepted his resignation as dean of the College of Cardinals, citing old age. The pope also established a five-year term limit for cardinal deans, previously a life position.

Sodano was born in Isola d’Asti, in Italy’s north-western Piedmont region, the second of six children.

He was ordained a priest in 1950, and spent almost 10 years teaching dogmatic theology in the diocesan seminary before being called to serve in the Vatican’s diplomatic corps.

In his telegram for Sodano’s death, Pope Francis said “I recall his diligent work alongside so many of my predecessors, who entrusted him with important responsibilities in Vatican diplomacy, up to the delicate office of secretary of state.”

“In the Roman Curia he carried out his mission with exemplary dedication. I, too, was able to benefit from his gifts of mind and heart, especially during the time when he exercised the office of Dean of the College of Cardinals,” he continued.

“In every assignment he showed himself to be an ecclesially disciplined man, an amiable pastor, animated by a desire to spread the leaven of the Gospel everywhere,” he stated. “I raise to God the Merciful Father prayers of suffrage for the late cardinal, that he may receive him into eternal joy.”

50 years ago, the paths of 2 heroic Polish blesseds crossed

Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński ordains Father Jerzy Popiełuszko to the priesthood on May 28, 1972. / Muzeum Ks. Jerzego Popiełuszki.

London, England, May 28, 2022 / 04:00 am (CNA).

Fifty years ago, the lives of two heroic Polish Catholics crossed at St. John’s Archcathedral in Warsaw’s Old Town.

A photograph from that day — May 28, 1972 — shows Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński clasping the hands of Jerzy Popiełuszko between his own during the 24-year-old’s ordination to the priesthood.

Today, both men are blesseds and their portraits can be seen in churches throughout Poland.

Great suffering lay ahead of them, but that spring day was joyful. Wyszyński ordained a total of 31 new priests: an impressive number given the hardships that Poland’s Catholics suffered under a communist regime that sought to stifle the Church.

The cardinal spoke only briefly at the ordination ceremony. In his address, preserved by the Instytut Prymasowski Stefana Kardynała Wyszyńskiego, he told the new priests that they were being sent out to serve the People of God in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

“We prayed,” Wyszyński said, “to the Holy Spirit to strengthen this work in them, so that the new priests would confess God’s truth bravely, in their words and in their lives, before the People of God.”

Father Jerzy Popiełuszko did indeed “confess God’s truth bravely” — and paid for it with his life.

Father Jerzy Popiełuszko. Courtesy of the Polish bishops' conference.
Father Jerzy Popiełuszko. Courtesy of the Polish bishops' conference.

After the communist authorities declared martial law in 1981, he celebrated monthly “Masses for the Homeland” at his church in Warsaw’s Żoliborz district. Thousands of people attended and his defiant homilies were broadcast on Radio Free Europe.

In 1982, the priest’s home was bombed. A year later, he was arrested on false charges, but released after a public outcry. The year after that, he evaded a “traffic accident” designed to kill him.

But on Oct. 19, 1984, the authorities finally caught up with him. He was driving back to Warsaw after celebrating Mass in Bydgoszcz when three Security Service agents waved to him to pull over, pretending that their vehicle had broken down.

They are said to have beaten him with a rock until he died, and then tied weights to his body and flung it into a reservoir.

His remains were recovered on Oct. 30, generating a wave of revulsion that undermined what little was left of the regime’s legitimacy.

Popiełuszko was beatified on June 6, 2010, years before the man who ordained him was declared blessed.

Cardinal Wyszyński led the Polish Church during some of the most challenging times of the communist era. He was placed under house arrest in 1953 for three years after he refused to subordinate the Church to the state.

He is known today as the “Primate of the Millennium” because as Primate of Poland he oversaw a nine-year program of preparation culminating in a nationwide celebration of the millennium of Poland’s baptism in 1966.

He also helped to secure the approval of Karol Wojtyła as archbishop of Kraków in 1964, which ultimately led to Wojtyła’s election as Pope John Paul II in 1978.

Wyszyński died in 1981 of abdominal cancer, perhaps mercifully not living to see the fate of the young man he ordained to priesthood.

Wyszyński was beatified on Sept. 12, 2021. His liturgical memorial is celebrated for the first time on May 28. The day is not only the anniversary of his death, but also of the ordination of Father Popiełuszko.

Justyna Galant in Warsaw contributed to this article.

Pentecost Novena: Here's how to pray the first novena

Duccio's Pentecost (1308) / public domain

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 27, 2022 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

The first novena ever prayed is the Pentecost Novena, or the Novena to the Holy Spirit. This year, it begins on Friday, May 27, and concludes on Saturday, June 4.

Catholics worldwide often recite the novena during the nine days that fall between the feast of the Ascension, when Christ rises body and soul to heaven, and the feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit comes upon the apostles, Mary, and the first followers of Christ.

This year, Pentecost falls on June 5.

The prayer recalls and invites Catholics to participate in the nine days that the Blessed Virgin Mary and the apostles spent in prayer after Christ ascended into heaven. Together, they prayed in Jerusalem in anticipation of the Holy Spirit’s coming, which Christ had promised them. 

The word “novena” is derived from the Latin word for nine. Catholics will frequently pray a novena — a prayer repeated once a day for nine days — for a particular intention. This novena asks for the Holy Spirit’s seven gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

There are many versions of this novena, including one derived from the "The Sanctifier" by Servant of God Luis Maria Martinez, Archbishop of Mexico from 1937 to 1956, and made available by the Daughters of St. Paul

The Archdiocese of Denver recommends the one below, adapted from novenas found on Adoremus.org and Angeluspress.org.  

End each day with the following prayer for all seven gifts:

O Lord Jesus Christ who, before ascending into heaven, promised to send the Holy Spirit to finish your work in the souls of your apostles and disciples, be pleased to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that he may perfect in my soul the work of your grace and love.  Grant me the spirit of wisdom, that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal; the spirit of understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of your divine truth; the spirit of counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven; the spirit of fortitude that I may bear my cross with you and that I may overcome all obstacles that oppose my salvation; the spirit of knowledge that I may know God and know myself in him; the spirit of piety that I may find the service of God sweet and pleasurable; the spirit of fear of the Lord that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to offend him.  Animate me in all things with your spirit.  Amen.

Day 1: Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit 

Holy Spirit, Lord of Light,

from the clear celestial height,

thy pure beaming radiance give. 

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your divine love.  Send forth your spirit and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.  O God, who has taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that by the gift of the same Spirit we may always be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Day 2: Prayer for the Gift of Holy Fear 

Come thou father of the poor,

come with treasures which endure,

come thou light of all that live. 

Come, O blessed Spirit of Holy Fear, penetrate my inmost heart, that I may set you, my Lord and God, before my face forever; help me to shun all things that can offend you, and make me worthy to appear before the pure eyes of your Divine Majesty in heaven, where you live and reign in the unity of the Blessed Trinity, God, world without end.  Amen.

Day 3: Prayer for the Gift of Piety 

Thou of all consolers best,

visiting the troubled breast,

dost refreshing peace bestow. 

Come, O blessed Spirit of Piety, possess my heart.  Implant in my soul filial love toward God my heavenly Father, and brotherly love for all, so that I may delight in the service of God and my neighbor.  Amen.

Day 4: Prayer for the Gift of Fortitude 

Thou in toil art comfort sweet,

pleasant coolness in the heat,

solace in the midst of woe. 

Come of blessed Spirit of Fortitude, uphold my soul in time of trouble and adversity, sustain my efforts after holiness, strengthen my weakness, give me courage against all the assaults of my enemies, that I may never be overcome and separated from you, my God and greatest Good.  Amen.

Day 5: Prayer for the Gift of Knowledge 

Light immortal, light divine,

visit thou these hearts of thine,

and our inmost being fill. 

Come, O blessed Spirit of Knowledge, and grant that I may perceive the will of the Father; show me the nothingness of earthly things, that I may realize their vanity and use them only for your glory and my own salvation, looking ever beyond them to you and your eternal rewards.  Amen.

Day 6: Prayer for the Gift of Understanding 

If thou take thy grace away,

nothing pure in man will stay;

all his good is turned to ill. 

Come, O Spirit of Understanding, and enlighten our minds that we may know and believe all the mysteries of salvation; and may merit at last to see the eternal light in your light; and in the light of glory to have a clear vision of you, the Father, and the Son.  Amen.

Day 7: Prayer for the Gift of Counsel 

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;

on our dryness pour thy dew;

wash the stains of guilt away. 

Come, O Spirit of Counsel, help and guide me in all my ways, that I may always do your holy will.  Incline my heart to that which is good; turn it away from all that is evil and direct me by the straight path of your commandments to that goal of eternal life for which I long.  Amen.

Day 8: Prayer for the Gift of Wisdom 

Bend the stubborn heart and will,

melt the frozen, warm the chill,

guide the steps that go astray. 

Come, O Spirit of Wisdom, and reveal to my soul the mysteries of heavenly things, their exceeding greatness, power, and beauty.  Teach me to love them above and beyond the passing joys and satisfactions of earth.  Help me to attain them and possess them forever.  Amen.

Day 9: Prayer for the Fruits of the Holy Spirit 

Thou on those who evermore,

thee confess and thee adore,

in thy sevenfold gift descend. 

Give them comfort when they die,

give them life with thee on high,

give them joys which never end. 

Come, O Divine Spirit, fill my heart with your heavenly gifts: your charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, that I may never weary in the service of God, but by continued faithful submission to your inspiration may merit to be united eternally with you in the love of the Father and the Son.  Amen.

Eucharist film again in US theaters for one day only

"ALIVE: Who is there?" is a new documentary about personal encounters with the Eucharist. / Hakuna Films/Bosco Films

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 27, 2022 / 15:23 pm (CNA).

A film highlighting the transformative power of the Eucharist will have an encore showing in theaters in the U.S. on June 21, the day on which the bishops’ Eucharistic revival will begin.

Founder of Bosco Films — the organization that is marketing the film “ALIVE: Who is there?” — Lucía González-Barandiarán said in a press release that “This is exactly what we prayed for.” 

She continued: “We are calling on Catholics everywhere to turn out at the theaters! Bring your family, those who are near and those who are far off, and let them experience the truth of the Eucharist and the powerful testimonies of the unlikely men and women who share their stories. No one will leave the theater the same. We have given you a movie about the Eucharist, now it is up to you to lead people to the theaters!”

Directed and produced by Spanish filmmakers, the Bosco Films and Hakuna Films documentary “ALIVE: Who is there?” features the testimonies of five men and women who share how the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist has transformed their lives.

The film, which is in Spanish with English subtitles, also includes bonus content, including commentary from Bishop Andrew Cozzens of Crookston, the U.S. bishops’ conference chair on evangelization and catechesis, who is leading the three-year national eucharistic revival.

Cozzens told CNA in April that he hoped many would go see the movie, while praising the film's mode of using testimony to teach about the Real Presence.

Father Jose Pedro Manglano, founder of the Hakuna movement, said in the press release that “ALIVE always creates a movement and the movement we hope to create is one around renewed Eucharistic devotion.”

“It's no coincidence with God that the encore showing of ALIVE will take place exactly as the United States Catholic bishops begin their initiative for Eucharistic revival,” he added.

Tickets for the 90-minute-long documentary can be bought through Fathom Events. The film is planned to be available in more than 300 locations across the U.S.

On its April 25 broadcast in theaters, 30,000 tickets to the film were sold in more than 750 locations across the country. 

As of right now, Bosco films is in negotiations with Australian distributors to bring the film there. Streaming and DVD will be available after its showing in theaters.

“ALIVE will serve as a tool for Catholic dioceses, parishes, ministries and families to share the message of Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist at a time when the world is in great need of the light, hope and power of Jesus Christ,” the press release says. 

“In a very special way, the encore presentation of ALIVE  will become a cinematic platform for parish and ministry groups wanting to participate in the national movement toward Eucharistic revival in the U.S.”

Vandalism of pro-life pregnancy centers continues across US with incident near Seattle

null / Photographee.eu/Shutterstock.

Denver Newsroom, May 27, 2022 / 12:39 pm (CNA).

Pro-life organizations and Catholic church buildings continue to be targeted with arson and graffiti attacks, incidents which began in earnest earlier this month after a leaked draft opinion suggested that the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade and return the question of abortion policy to the states. 

In the latest reported incident, a Seattle-area crisis pregnancy center was tagged with graffiti and vandalized in the early morning hours of May 25. In addition to the red paint, at least five of the front windows of Next Step Pregnancy Center in Lynnwood, Washington were smashed. 

Security video footage shared online by a local radio host shows a lone person dressed in black, spray painting the slogans “Jane’s revenge” and “If abortions aren’t safe, you aren’t either.”

The Next Step center provides free pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, counseling, post-abortive support, pregnancy loss support, and adoption information, according to its website

"I believe that we were targeted because a lot of people, including maybe that person, are very misinformed and misguided about what really goes on in a pregnancy resource clinic,"  Heather Vasquez, director of the center, told local radio host Jason Rantz.

"I think there’s a lot of misconceptions about what’s really happening here. But none of them ever want to come in and, you know, be with us and see what happens day to day."

The center has stayed open and continued its work despite the damage, and Lynnwood police have opened a case on the incident, Fox News reported. 

The latest spate of attacks on pregnancy centers began with an incident at the headquarters of Wisconsin Family Action, an organization that advocates for the unborn, marriage, and religious liberty, which were set on fire May 8. "A molotov cocktail, which did not ignite, was thrown inside the building. It also appears a separate fire was started in response," a police report said.

Graffiti left outside the building, located on the north side of Madison, Wisconsin, said, "If abortions aren't safe than you aren't either" — matching the graffiti left in Washington. 

A group called “Jane’s Revenge” reportedly claimed responsibility for the Wisconsin attack. 

That same evening, Oregon Right to Life reported that Molotov cocktails were thrown at the organization’s offices in Keizer, igniting a small fire. The fire was quickly put out and no one was hurt.

Since then, there have been several other notable attacks. In Denton, Texas, near Dallas, two women's resource centers, Woman to Woman Resource Center and Loreto House, were vandalized over the May 7-8 weekend. The buildings were spray painted with slogans such as “Forced birth is murder” and “Not a clinic.”

In Maryland, the ​​Alpha Pregnancy Center in Reisterstown, northwest of Baltimore, suffered spray-painted threats May 14 including "If abortions aren't safe, neither are you,” "Not a clinic," and "You're anti-choice and not pro-life." Those messages were also signed as being from "Jane's Revenge.” 

Other incidents have been reported at pro-life centers in Frederick, Maryland and Alexandria, Virginia. 

Catholic church buildings have been targeted too. 

St. John XXIII parish in Fort Collins, about an hour north of Denver, was tagged with graffiti in the early morning of May 7, police said. “My Body My Choice” and a symbol that appears to be an “A” signifying “anarchy” were written on the church’s exterior. Some exterior glass panels at the church also were broken.

The look and style of the graffiti appears similar to that which appeared on a Catholic church building in nearby Boulder a few days prior. Sacred Heart of Mary Parish was defaced with pro-abortion slogans the evening of May 3, marking the second time in less than a year that the parish has been targeted with graffiti of this sort. 

Is Pope Francis about to name new cardinals?

Pope Francis creates five new cardinals during a consistory in St. Peter's Basilica on June 28, 2017. / L'Osservatore Romano.

Vatican City, May 27, 2022 / 11:10 am (CNA).

Pope Francis could soon convene a consistory for the creation of new cardinals, taking the number of cardinals eligible to take part in a future conclave over the 120 limit established by Paul VI.

Rumors of a new consistory have multiplied in recent weeks because the new Vatican constitution Praedicate evangelium will come into force on June 5, the feast of Pentecost. Several new Vatican dicasteries will come into being that day and there is an expectation that their leaders will be named cardinals, though the constitution emphasizes that laypeople can lead certain departments.

Pope Francis has two options. He can wait until the end of the year, when the number of cardinal electors will drop to 110 and he will therefore have 10 slots available. Or he can convene a consistory on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. A consistory that day would, in all likelihood, take the number of cardinal electors over 120. But then their number is expected to drop in the following months.

The College of Cardinals currently has 117 cardinal electors. Of these, 12 were created by John Paul II, 38 by Benedict XVI, and 67 by Pope Francis. Cardinals created by Pope Francis account for 57% of the cardinal electors.

The last consistory creating new cardinals was on Nov. 28, 2020. Up to that point, Pope Francis had convened a consistory every year since 2014. But 2021 passed without the creation of new cardinals.

So far this year, four cardinal electors have already turned 80, and another six will do so before 2022 ends. The last will be Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga on Dec. 29.

Of these 10 cardinals, only four were created by Pope Francis. Therefore, if Pope Francis decided to name 10 new cardinal electors and return to the maximum limit of 120 electors established by Paul VI and confirmed by John Paul II, there would be 76 cardinals created by him in a possible conclave. That is to say, only four fewer than the 80 cardinals who represent the two-thirds of votes needed to elect a new pope.

Pope Francis has generally chosen candidates who are little known in the wider Church, with more pastoral than theological profiles, and with great attention to local churches that are considered marginalized, such as those in Tonga, Cape Verde, and the Central African Republic.

Any discussion of conclaves is, of course, speculative. It is not known who the cardinals will vote for. When they enter the Sistine Chapel, they are isolated, without the possibility of contact with the outside world. There, they ponder the choice of the next pontiff based more on pragmatic considerations than geopolitical ones.

But studying the composition of the College of Cardinals is still worthwhile. If nothing else, it allows us to understand what direction Pope Francis wants to give to the Church and bishops around the world.

Reviewing Pope Francis’ seven consistories creating new cardinals, three fundamental criteria can be distinguished.

The first is unpredictability. The second is a desire to expand the representation of the Church to the most remote and least Christian regions. The third is that at least one new cardinal should represent a connection to the past.

On the first point, Pope Francis has shown that he can choose anyone as a cardinal. But there are some figures who are more likely to receive red hats due to their positions at the Vatican. They include Archbishop Lazarus You Heung-sik, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Archbishop Arthur Roche, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, and Archbishop Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, president of the Governatorate of Vatican City State.

Then there are the less obvious possibilities. The number of Italian cardinals has consistently decreased under Pope Francis. Traditionally cardinalatial sees such as Naples, Palermo, Venice, Milan, and Turin are currently without a red hat. But the pope may opt for Archbishop Marco Tasca of Genoa, even though his predecessor, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, is still among the cardinal electors.

He might also reward Archbishop Gintaras Grušas of Vilnius, Lithuania, the president of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences (CCEE).

Among the surprises, there could also be another Italian: Monsignor Pierangelo Sequeri, president of the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences. Sequeri is 77 years old and would therefore be a cardinal elector.

With the red hat, would Pope Francis somehow wish to bless the new direction of the institute named after the Polish pope but profoundly reshaped in recent years?

It is a hypothesis, as is a red hat for Archbishop Piero Marini, Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations from 1987 to 2007 and, until this year, president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses.

Both Sequeri and Marini would arguably fit into the category of cardinals who represent a connection with the past. One would underline the new theological course under Pope Francis and the other the new liturgical line expressed most recently through the motu proprio Traditionis custodes.

A red hat for Marini, who was known for his progressive liturgical ideas during the pontificate of John Paul II, would say more than a thousand words about the direction that Pope Francis wants to give to the Church.

France could also gain a red hat. Apart from Cardinal Dominique Mamberti, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, Pope Francis has not placed a red hat on a French head since his election in 2013. With former Paris archbishop Cardinal André Vingt-Trois turning 80 on Nov. 7, and losing his right to vote in a conclave, there is a possible opening.

Spain currently has four cardinals: the archbishops of Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona, ​​and Valladolid. Archbishop Francisco Cherro Chaves of Toledo, the Primate of Spain, is not a cardinal. But insiders think that is unlikely to change.

Looking at Europe, the absence of red hats in influential archdioceses such as Kraków, Poland, and Armagh, Northern Ireland, is striking.

Neither the United States nor Canada seems a likely destination for a new red hat. The U.S. already has six resident cardinal electors: Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, and Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark. There are three others in Rome: Cardinal Raymond Burke, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, and Cardinal James Harvey.

Canada, meanwhile, has two residential archbishops — Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto and Cardinal Gérald Lacroix of Quebec — and two curial cardinals, Cardinal Michael Czerny and Cardinal Marc Ouellet.

In Latin America, the pope is thought to be able to give the red hat to Archbishop Carlos Mattasoglio of Lima, Peru, and Archbishop Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo of Belo Horizonte, the president of Brazil’s bishops’ conference.

Africa is currently under-represented in the College of Cardinals (as well as among the heads of Vatican dicasteries) and three African cardinals turned 80 in 2021. Pope Francis could look to South Sudan, where he intends to visit in July. A possible candidate would be Archbishop Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla of Juba.

But the pope might also gravitate toward Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye of Dakar, Senegal, or Archbishop Siegfried Mandla Jwara of Durban, South Africa.

Australia does not currently have a cardinal elector, and the two most prominent names would be Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney and Archbishop Peter Comensoli of Melbourne. But the possibility of a red hat for Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane should not be underestimated. Coleridge was until recently the president of the Australian bishops’ conference and was seemingly highly esteemed by Pope Francis during the 2015 family synod.

Oceania could also be rewarded with a cardinal, perhaps from Papua New Guinea, where the pope has indicated that he wants to travel.

Asia now has 15 cardinal electors and is probably unlikely to gain many more at a new consistory.

Yet geographical considerations could become irrelevant if Pope Francis decided to expand the number of cardinal electors. There is a precedent: With the consistory of Nov. 28, 2020, he exceeded the threshold of 120, reaching 128 cardinal electors.

When choosing new cardinals, the pope has tended to opt for candidates whom he trusts. But he has also sent signals about the direction of his governance. It is notable that since the beginning of his pontificate, the general secretary of the Synod of Bishops has been a cardinal (first Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri and now Cardinal Mario Grech.) This is a sign of how important the pope considers the Synod of Bishops to be.

When Czerny received the red hat, he was under-secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and responsible for Vatican policy on migrants and refugees. The gesture was a clear indication of the pope’s strong interest in the themes promoted by the dicastery.

And when it comes to Pope Francis’ choices, no signal should be underestimated.

Large US companies rated on respect for free speech, religious freedom

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Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 27, 2022 / 10:58 am (CNA).

With some American companies able to have a profound impact on the exercise of free speech and religious freedom, Alliance Defending Freedom and Inspire Investing have launched a Business Index to rate their commitment to these values.

“CEOs and business leaders have positions of considerable power. They shouldn’t weaponize their influence or the companies they run to divide Americans or engage in speech censorship or anti-religious bigotry,” ADF Senior Vice President for Corporate Engagement Jeremy Tedesco said in a May 26 statement.

“Instead of using the cultural power of their brands to drive polarization, business leaders should commit to respecting everyone, regardless of their religion or ideology. Businesses should respect viewpoint diversity at every level of their organizations, from the shop floor to the board room, and externally as well.”

The 2022 Business Index rates 50 companies on the Fortune 1000 list according to a “Viewpoint Diversity Score” in the market, the workplace, and the public square. The 50 companies examined were organizations in the banking, payment processing, and cloud services industries.

Companies that “serve as platforms for third-party expression in the digital space” were also examined, ADF stated. The report said that only companies in “specific sectors of concern” were considered for rankings.

The statement said that “Viewpoint Diversity Score will provide companies with workable solutions through model polices, research, toolkits, polling, and constructive dialogue.”

Robert Netzly, CEO of Inspire Investing, a Christian investment firm, commented that “By adopting the model policies and strategies we recommend, companies can cement their reputations as tolerant businesses that respect free speech and religious freedom as a standard part of doing business.”

In a May 25 op-ed at the Wall Street Journal, Tedesco and Netzly wrote that “the time is ripe to restore a business culture that respects American freedoms and ideals as well as diverse views among employees, customers, shareholders, and the general public.”

Businesses in the U.S., they said, have become captive “to a left-wing political agenda that many of their employees, customers, and shareholders don’t support, and that many Americans don’t want imposed on them by powerful governments or private actors.”

“Companies that respect diverse viewpoints are better equipped to serve people and communities with diverse values, recruit and retain top talent, and contribute to a public culture that supports liberal democracy and open markets,” Tedesco and Netzly stated.

The 50 corporations on the Business Index were given an average Viewpoint Diversity Score of 12%, with a range from 2% to 35%.

While no industry performed well, according to ADF, certain industries scored “particularly poorly.”

Computer software industries were given a score of 6%, while internet services and retailing scored 7%. The financial and data services industry garnered an 8% rating.

Companies that have come under fire for encroaching free speech, such as Twitter, Meta, and Alphabet, are all on the list.

Among the members of the Viewpoint Diversity Score Advisory Council are Andrew Abela, Dean of The Bush School of Business at Catholic University of America; Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals & Institutions at Princeton University; and Andrew Olivastro, Vice President for Outreach at The Heritage Foundation.