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Ukrainian family prays for peace at World Meeting of Families

Wolodymyr, Tatiana, Franciszek, Magdalena, and Teresa Korczyński on June 22, 2022. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, Jun 23, 2022 / 10:42 am (CNA).

A Ukrainian family of 10 is participating in the World Meeting of Families this week.

Wolodymyr and Tatiana Korczyński arrived in Rome on June 21 with a Ukrainian flag and a desire to pray at St. John Paul II’s tomb for peace in their home country.

As Catholics from 120 countries are gathered at the Vatican to discuss the joys and challenges of family life, the Ukrainian family, currently based in Poland, has shared how war can weigh heavily on children.

“I see that the current situation in Ukraine requires more responsibility from children. They grow up faster,” Tatiana told CNA on June 22.

The mother of eight has seen this especially in her 13-year-old son Franciszek, who often accompanies his father on trips across the Polish border to provide aid and support for the Ukrainian cause.

“Franciszek often goes to Ukraine, but he also stays at home as an older man to support and help me a lot. This is because more responsibilities fall on his shoulders,” she said.

While the war has forced her kids to grow up faster, Tatiana has also observed that her children have also grown in compassion, knowing that many of their peers have lost parents in the war.

“I have more than once sensed that my children would want to adopt those children who stay in Ukraine, who have lost their families,” she said.

A pilgrimage of prayer

Amid the upheaval and uncertainty that their home country has faced, the Korczyński family sees their participation in the World Meeting of Families as an opportunity to pray for Ukraine.

“We feel very honored to represent Ukraine at this congress and to participate. For us, it is a great gift and at the same time a task to be done,” Tatiana said.

“All our prayers and the prayers of the people in Ukraine, who are now praying for peace, we can bring to God here in Rome and implore in an extraordinary way for a miracle, for God's lavishing his grace on our nation.”

Wolodymyr pointed out that the timing of the World Meeting of Families coincides with the anniversary of John Paul II’s apostolic journey to Ukraine in June 2001.

“It is no coincidence to be here now, to ask John Paul II for his mediation, for peace in Ukraine. I think God runs all this,” he said.

Faith passes through the family

“I can honestly say that Wolodymyr and I grew up at a time when the Catholic faith was being persecuted in Ukraine,” Tatiana recalled.

“Our grandmothers taught us the catechism … I think family is the bedrock and the very beginning of the Church,” she said.

Tatiana sees the World Meeting of Families as a celebration of how “we come to know God through love for our neighbor, first of all in the family.”

The Korczyńskis’ daughters, 12-year-old Teresa and 9-year-old Magdalena, added that they like being a part of a big family because of all the time spent together. 

The girls dressed up in matching blue dresses, white hats, and pigtail braids for their Vatican visit, alongside their elder brother, Franciszek. The Korczyńskis’ four youngest kids stayed in Poland in the care of their oldest daughter.

The Korczyński family are Latin rite Catholics originally from the city of Kamianets-Podilskyi in western Ukraine. The family relocated to Poland five years ago in an effort to keep the family together after their eldest daughter was accepted to a school in Szymanów.

“We decided to move and stay together because we think that the greatest gifts of a family are unity, collective prayer and being together in everyday life,” Tatiana said.

Tatiana remembered how the family all prayed the rosary together for peace in the days leading up to Pope Francis’ consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

“We took part in the consecration. We prepared ourselves by confession, participated in the service, and prayed together at home,” Tatiana said.

“At this moment, when Ukraine is suffering, when a lot of people are experiencing great suffering, more people are asking and turning to God. I think it was very timely at that moment to talk about reparation, prayer, repentance, and forgiveness,” she said.

Justyna Galant provided the translation for this interview from Polish to English.

World Meeting of Families 2022: Full text of Pope Francis' address at the Festival of Families

Rome - June 22, 2022: Day one of the World Meeting of Families with Pope Francis during the Festival of Families. / Vatican Media

Rome, Italy, Jun 23, 2022 / 10:25 am (CNA).

Here is the full text of Pope Francis' address at the Festival of Families during the World Meeting of Families 2022, which was held in the Paul VI Audience Hall on June 22, 2022.

Dear families,

I am happy to be here with you, following the disturbing events that you have all recently experienced: first the pandemic and now the war in Europe, to say nothing of the other wars afflicting our human family.

I thank Cardinal Farrell, Cardinal De Donatis, the personnel of the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life, as well as those of the Diocese of Rome, whose dedication has made this meeting possible.

I would also like to thank the families present, who have come from many parts of the world, especially those who have shared their testimonies with us. Thank you so much! It is not easy to speak before so large an audience about your lives, your troubles and those gifts, wonderful but profoundly personal, that you have received from the Lord. Your testimonies have served as “amplifiers”: you have given voice to the experiences of other families in the world that, like yourselves, are sharing in the same joys and concerns, the same hardships and hopes.

For this reason, I would like to say something to those of you here present and to all the married couples and families listening to us throughout the world. I want you to feel my closeness to you, wherever you are, and to your concrete life situation. My word of encouragement is precisely this: start from where you are, and, from there, try to journey together: together as couples, together in your families, together with other families, together with the Church. I think of the parable of the Good Samaritan who meets someone wounded and in need. He draws near to him, cares for him and helps him to resume his journey. That is what I want the Church to be for all of you! A Good Samaritan that draws near to you and helps you to continue your journey and to take a step forward, however small. Never forget that closeness is the “style” of God, closeness and tender love. I will now try to indicate a few “steps forward” that need to be taken together, by reflecting on the testimonies we have heard.

1. “A step forward” towards marriage. Thank you, Luigi and Serena, for having told us with great honesty about your own experience, with its hardships and hopes. I think it was painful for all of us to hear you say, “We did not find a community that would support us with open arms for what we are”. That is painful! It should make us all think. We need to be converted and to journey as a welcoming Church, so that our dioceses and parishes can increasingly become “communities that support with open arms”. How much we need this, in our present-day culture of indifference! Providentially, you found support in other families, which are in fact “little churches”.

I was greatly consoled when you explained the reason that led you to baptize your children. You said something very beautiful: “Despite our noblest human efforts, we are not sufficient unto ourselves”. It is true, we can have the loveliest dreams, the loftiest ideals, but in the end, we also discover – and this is wisdom – our own limitations, which we cannot overcome by ourselves but by opening ourselves to the Father, to his love and to his grace. That is the meaning of the sacraments of baptism and of matrimony: they are the concrete helps that God gives us in order not to leave us alone, precisely because “we are not sufficient unto ourselves”. It was good to hear those words: “we are not sufficient unto ourselves”.

We can say that whenever a man and a woman fall in love, God offers them a gift; that gift is marriage. It is a marvelous gift, which contains the power of God’s own love: strong, enduring, faithful, ready to start over after every failure or moment of weakness. Marriage is not a formality you go through. You don’t get married in order to be “card-carrying” Catholics, to obey a rule, or because the Church tells you to, or to have a party… No, you get married because you want to build your marriage on the love of Christ, which is solid as rock. In marriage, Christ gives himself to you, so that you can find the strength to give yourselves to one another. So take heart: family life is not “mission impossible”! By the grace of the sacrament, God makes it a wonderful journey, to be undertaken together with him and never alone. The family is not a lofty ideal that is unattainable in reality. God solemnly promises his presence in your marriage and family, not only on the day of your wedding, but for the rest of your lives. And he keeps supporting you, every day of your journey.

2. “A step forward” to embrace the cross. I thank you, Roberto and Maria Anselma, because you told us the moving story of your own family, and in particular about Chiara. You spoke to us of the cross, which is part of the life of every individual and of every family. You testified that the heavy cross of Chiara’s sickness and death did not destroy your family or eliminate the serenity and peace of your hearts. We can see this in your faces. You are not downcast, desperate or angry with life. Quite the opposite! What we see in you is great serenity and great faith. You told us how “Chiara’s serenity opened for us a window onto eternity”. To see how she experienced the trial of her illness helped you to lift up your gaze, not to remain imprisoned in grief, but to be open to something greater: the mysterious plans of God, to eternity, to heaven. I thank you for this witness of faith! You also quoted something that Chiara had said: “God puts a truth in each of us and it is not possible to misunderstand it”. God put into Chiara’s heart the truth of a holy life, and so she wished to preserve the life of her child at the cost of her own life. As a wife, alongside her husband, she followed the way of the Gospel of the family, simply and spontaneously. Chiara’s heart also welcomed the truth of the cross as gift of self: hers was a life given to her family, to the Church and to the whole world. We always need great examples to look to. May Chiara be an inspiration on our own journey of holiness, and may the Lord support and make fruitful every cross that families have to bear.

3. “A step forward” towards forgiveness. Paul and Germaine, you found the courage to tell us about the crisis that you went through in your marriage, and we thank you for that, because every marriage has its moments of crisis. We need to say this, not to hide it, and to take steps to overcome those crises. You didn’t try to sweeten matters with a bit of sugar! You called every cause of the crisis by its name: insincerity, infidelity, the misuse of money, the idols of power and career, growing resentment and hardness of heart. As you were speaking, I believe that all of us relived our own experiences of pain before similar situations of broken families. To see a family break up is a tragedy that cannot leave us indifferent. The laughter of married couples disappears, children are troubled, serenity is lost. And most of the time, nobody knows exactly what to do.

That is why your story transmits hope. Paul said that at the bleakest moment of the crisis, the Lord answered his heart’s deepest desire and saved his marriage. That is what happens. Deep within the heart of each person is the desire for love not to end, for the story of a love experienced together not to be cut short, for the fruits of love not to be dispersed. Everyone has this desire. No one wants a love that is short-term or is marked with an expiration date. So we suffer greatly whenever failings, negligence and human sins make a shipwreck of marriage. But even amid the tempest, God sees what is in our hearts. By his providence, you met a group of laypersons specifically committed to assisting families. That was the start of a journey of rapprochement and healing in your relationship. You began to talk to one another, to be open and sincere with each other, to acknowledge your faults, to pray together with other couples, and all those things brought you to reconciliation and forgiveness.

Brothers and sisters, forgiveness heals every wound. Forgiveness is a gift welling up from the grace that Christ showers on couples and whole families whenever we let him act, whenever we turn to him. It was wonderful that you celebrated your own “feast of forgiveness” with your children, and renewed your marriage promises at the celebration of Mass. It made me think of the feast that, in Jesus’ parable, the father organized for his prodigal son (cf. Lk 15:20-24). Only this time, the ones who went astray were the parents, not the child! “Prodigal parents”. Yet this too is wonderful and can be a great witness for children. Young people, as they emerge from infancy, begin to realize that their parents are not “superheroes”; they are not all-powerful, much less perfect. In you, your children saw something much more important: they saw the humility to beg forgiveness and the God-given strength to pick yourselves up after the fall. This is something that children really need! For they too will make mistakes in life and realize that they too are not perfect, but they will also remember that the Lord raises us up, that all of us are forgiven sinners, that we have to beg forgiveness from others but also be able to forgive ourselves. The lesson that they learned from you will remain in their hearts forever. It was good for us too, to hear this. Thank you for your witness of forgiveness!

4. “A step forward” towards welcome. Thank you, Iryna and Sofia, for your witness. You gave a voice to all those persons whose lives have been devastated by the war in Ukraine. In you, we see the faces and the stories of so many men and women forced to leave their homeland. We thank you, for you have not lost your trust in providence and you have seen how God is at work in your lives, not least through the flesh and blood people he led you to encounter: host families, the doctors who helped you, and other kind-hearted men and women. The war brought you face to face with cynicism and human brutality, yet you also encountered people of great humanity. People at their worst and people at their best! It is important for all of us not to keep dwelling on the worst, but to maximize the best, the great goodness of which every man and woman is capable, and from there to start over again.

I thank you also, Pietro and Erika, for telling your own story, and for the generosity with which you welcomed Iryna and Sofia into your already large family. You shared with us that you did so out of gratitude to God and with a spirit of faith, as a call from the Lord. Erika told us that welcoming them was a “blessing from heaven”. Indeed, welcoming is a genuine “charism” of families, and especially of large families! We may think that, in a large home, it is harder to welcome other people; yet that is not the case, for families with numerous children are “trained” to make room for others. They always have room for others.

In the end, this is what family is all about. In the family, we experience what it is to be welcomed. Husbands and wives are the first to “welcome” and accept one another, as they said they would do on the day of their marriage: “I take you…” Later, as they bring a child into the world, they welcome that new life. Whereas in cold and anonymous situations, the weak are often rejected, in families it is natural to welcome them: to accept a child with a disability, an elderly person in need of care, a family member in difficulty who has no one else… This gives hope. Families are places of welcome, and woe if they were to disappear! Society would become cold and unbearable without welcoming families. Welcome and generous families give “warmth” to society.

5. “A step forward” towards fraternity. I thank you, Zakia, for having shared your story with us. It is amazing and consoling that what you and Luca built together remains alive. Your story was born and built on the sharing of very high ideals that you described when you said: “We based our family on authentic love, with respect, solidarity and dialogue between our cultures”. Nothing of that was lost, not even after the tragedy of Luca’s death. Not only do the example and the spiritual legacy of Luca continue to live on and to speak to the consciences of many people, but also the organization that Zakia founded in some way carries on his mission. Indeed, we can say that Luca’s diplomatic mission has now become “a mission of peace” on the part of your entire family. In your story, we see clearly how what is human and what is religious can become intertwined and bring forth precious fruit. In Zakia and Luca, we find the beauty of human love, passion for life, altruism and fidelity to one’s own beliefs and religious tradition, as a source of inspiration and interior strength.

Your family expresses the ideal of fraternity. In addition to being husband and wife, you lived as brother and sister in your humanity, in your differing religious experiences, and in your commitment to society. This too is a lesson that is learned in the family. Living in the family together with others different from ourselves, we learn to be brothers and sisters. We learn to overcome divisions, prejudices and narrow-mindedness, and to build together something grand, something beautiful, on the basis of what we have in common. Lived examples of fraternity, like that of Luca and Zakia, give us hope; they help us to look with greater confidence at our world, so torn by division and hostility. Thank you for this example of fraternity!

I don’t not want to move on from Luca and you without mentioning your mother. She is here, and she has always been at your side. This is the goodness that mothers-in-law bring to families, good mothers-in-law and good mothers! I thank her for coming with you today.

Dear friends, each of your families has a mission to carry out in our world, a testimony to give. We the baptized are especially called to be “a message that the Holy Spirit takes from the riches of Jesus Christ and gives to his people” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 21). For this reason, I would like you to ask yourselves this question: What is the word that the Lord wants to speak through our life to all those whom we meet? What “step forward” is he asking of our family, my family, today? Everyone should ask this. Stop and listen. Let yourselves be changed by him, so that you too can change the world and make it “home” for all those who need to feel welcomed and accepted, for all those who need to encounter Christ and to know that they are loved. We need to live with our eyes raised to heaven: as Blessed Maria and Luigi Beltrame Quattrocchi used to say to their children, confronting the efforts and joys of life, “always looking from the roof upwards”.

I thank you for coming here. I thank you for the efforts you make in raising your families. Keep moving forward, with courage and with joy. And please, don’t forget to pray for me.

Cardinal Farrell: St. John the Baptist is a ‘witness to the sacredness of life’

Cardinal Kevin Farrell celebrates Mass in St. Peter's Basilica for the World Meeting of Families 2022 / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, Jun 23, 2022 / 02:30 am (CNA).

Cardinal Kevin Farrell said on Thursday that Saint John the Baptist is a witness to the sacredness of life from conception to natural death.

The Irish-American cardinal celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist on June 23.

The Mass in English was part of the World Meeting of Families 2022, taking place in Rome from June 22-26 with families from around the world. Families are also encouraged to participate in the event from home via livestream.

Even before Saint John the Baptist was born, “at the moment of Mary’s greeting, [he] recognized the Lord Jesus and leaped for joy in Elizabeth’s womb,” Farrell said.

“A call from God reached him while he was still in the womb,” he noted. “It invested him with the great task of preparing the hearts of humankind to receive the Savior of the world.”

The cardinal, who leads the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, which organized the World Meeting of Families, said Saint John’s reaction to encountering the unborn Jesus points to an important aspect of family life.

“All of this helps us to understand another key dimension of the family vocation,” he said, “to be guardians of the sacredness of human life from the first moment of conception to natural death.”

Saint John the Baptist’s birth is ordinarily celebrated on June 24, but is moved to June 23 when it coincides with the Feast of Corpus Christi or the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as happened this year.

In his homily, Cardinal Farrell, who is camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, reflected on the liturgy’s first reading, from the Prophet Isaiah.

“The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name,” Farrell said, quoting Isaiah 49:1.

“The life of each child must be protected and defended precisely because God has great plans for that child's goodness and holiness right from the beginning,” he said.

“God’s call has reached your children too,” he continued, “right from the beginning, so that all of them may be saints of tomorrow and will make our world a brighter place for all.”

Why June 29 is a good day to consider the legend of St. Peter and St. Agatha

This painting of St. Peter visiting St. Agatha was created by Federico Zuccari between 1597 and 1599 for the altar of Sant’Agata in the Milan Cathedral. It was directly commissioned by Milan native Federico Borromeo, a cousin of St. Charles Borromeo. / Photo by Kathleen Naab

Milan, Italy, Jun 22, 2022 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

Within the splendor of Milan’s cathedral, a unique image from the late 16th century hangs over one of the side altars of the south aisle of the nave.

Created by Federico Zuccari between 1597 and 1599 for the altar of Sant’Agata, it was commissioned by Milan native Federico Borromeo, a cousin to St. Charles Borromeo, the saint and champion of the Counter-Reformation and hero of the plague.

The painting is unique because it depicts a Christian legend that, today, is not particularly well known.

The basic outlines of the story of St. Agatha are familiar, largely due to the fact that they are so gruesome one can hardly forget them.

Agatha, a young virgin from Sicily, had pledged herself to Christ when a Roman Senator Quintianus became enamored by her beauty. She refused his advances, protesting that she already belonged to God, and this infuriated him. The governor turned her over to various tortures, one of which is memorialized in the iconography of the virgin: he had her breasts cut off. 

This horrific torment led to her becoming a patroness of women everywhere, but especially of breast cancer sufferers and nurses. It also brought about the tradition of peculiar breast-shaped sweets being popular on her Feb. 5 feast day.

Agatha is a much-beloved saint, especially in Italy, Malta, and other places, and is one of the female martyrs mentioned in the Roman Canon. Her death is believed to have occurred during the persecution of Decius, from 250 to 253.

But a lesser-known element of her legend involves St. Peter. 

According to the story, once Quintianus’ minions had severed her breasts and left her in agony in prison, St. Peter and an angel appeared to her. The first pope healed the young virgin’s wounds and reaffirmed her in her zeal.

The healing did nothing to shock or shame Quintianus into changing his mind, and he had Agatha dragged through the streets of the city until her triumphant death finally brought an end to her suffering.

It is this visit from Peter and the angel that is depicted at her altar in Milan’s cathedral, the Duomo. The painting shows a childlike Agatha looking upward, where three cherubs hover in bright light, contrasting with the darkness of her cell. Her left hand lies over a silver tray containing her severed breasts. With her right hand, she points up and her bloodied chest stains her garments. An older, bearded Peter offers her a cup, with the angel standing in the foreground, as if keeping guard against the night watchmen.

The narrative is clear, in line with Federico Borromeo’s desire to use art as a way to promote the devotion of the faithful and their understanding of the stories of salvation.

Which is why June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, is a good day to consider this legend and this masterpiece.

St. Peter was himself martyred some 200 years before Agatha and is shown here to the faithful as a source of comfort and the bearer of God’s healing for the suffering young Christian. As the first of Christ’s vicars, he is an image of the whole Church and thus comes to offer both fatherly and motherly consolation to the agonizing Agatha.

Peter’s 266th successor, Pope Francis, invites us to feel something of what Agatha must have felt at seeing Peter come to her in prison.

“Let us ask ourselves if, deep in our hearts,” the pope said in his Feb. 16 general audience, “we love the Church as she is … all the goodness and holiness that are present in the Church, starting precisely with Jesus and Mary. Loving the Church, safeguarding the Church, and walking with the Church.”

St. Peter naturally calls to mind the pope’s teaching role and how the magisterium is the source of unity for the Church; but it also reminds us that he is, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church points out, the “shepherd of the whole flock” (No. 881) and “pastor of the entire Church” (No. 882). In other words, his teaching office is meant to be combined — as it was in Christ — with the fatherly, caring role of one who accompanies, especially in suffering.

Pope Francis often emphasizes the importance of this role. In speaking of priestly identity, he urges pastors to be close to their sheep, accompanying them both with prayer and presence in the realities they face.

“I am convinced that, for a renewed understanding of the identity of the priesthood, it is important nowadays to be closely involved in people’s real lives, to live alongside them, without escape routes,” he said in a Feb. 17 address at a symposium on the priesthood. 

Certainly, Peter’s presence beside Agatha in prison gives us a vision of just such an accompaniment.

As we celebrate the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, let us allow our hearts to fill with gratitude for the splendor of the Church’s art and history; for the many saints who are our friends in heaven; for the Church herself, our mother; and for Peter’s successors down through the ages, bringing us Christ’s comfort and closeness.

Cardinal Kasper warns German synodal way risks 'breaking its own neck'

Cardinal Walter Kasper, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, at the Vatican in April 2015. / Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

Berlin, Germany, Jun 22, 2022 / 14:40 pm (CNA).

A theologian considered close to Pope Francis has warned that the German Synodal Way is at risk of “breaking its own neck” if it does not heed the objections raised by a growing number of bishops around the world.

Cardinal Walter Kasper also said organisers were using a “lazy trick” that in effect constituted a “coup d’etat” that could result in a collective resignation, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

The 89-year-old German cardinal is President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and was Bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart from 1989 to 1999.  

He spoke at an online study day on June 19 of the initiative “New Beginning” (Neuer Anfang), a reform movement critical of the Synodal Way.

Kasper warned that the Church was not some substance to be “re-molded and reshaped to suit the situation”. 

In April, more than 100 cardinals and bishops from around the world released a "fraternal open letter" to Germany's bishops, warning that sweeping changes to Church teaching advocated by the process may lead to schism.

In March, an open letter from the Nordic bishops expressed alarm at the German process, and in February, a strongly-worded letter from the president of Poland’s Catholic bishops' conference raised serious concerns

Such concerns “will be repeated and reaffirmed and, if we do not heed them, will break the neck of the Synodal Way," Kasper warned in his speech.

It was "the original sin of the Synodal Way" that it did not base itself on the pope's letter to the Church in Germany, he said, with its "proposal of being guided by the Gospel and the basic mission of evangelization”. 

Instead, the German process, initiated by Cardinal Reinhard Marx, "took its own path with partly different criteria”, Kasper said.

In June 2019, Pope Francis sent a 19-page letter to Catholics in Germany urging them to focus on evangelization in the face of a “growing erosion and deterioration of faith.” 

The president of the German bishops' conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, has repeatedly rejected all concerns, instead expressing disappointment in Pope Francis in May 2022.  

In an interview published earlier this month, Pope Francis reiterated that he told the leader of Germany’s Catholic bishops that the country already had “a very good Evangelical Church” and “we don’t need two.”

“The problem arises when the synodal way comes from the intellectual, theological elites, and is much influenced by external pressures,” the pope said.

Bätzing, who serves as president of the Synodal Way, is also a signatory to the “Frankfurt Declaration”. This petition demands German bishops should declare their commitment to implementing resolutions passed by the process, CNA Deutsch reported

On Sunday, Kasper decried this push for “commitment”, saying it was "a trick and, moreover, a lazy trick."

"Just imagine a civil servant who allows himself to be appointed, then renounces the exercise of his legal obligations," the cardinal said. "He would be sure to face proceedings under civil service law. Ultimately, such a self-commitment would be tantamount to a collective resignation of the bishops. Constitutionally, the whole thing could only be called a coup, i.e., an attempted coup d'état."

The Church can never be governed synodally, Kasper stressed: "Synods cannot be made institutionally permanent." Instead, he said, a synod constituted "an extraordinary interruption" to ordinary proceedings.

The Synodal Way, also referred to as Synodal Path, describes itself as a process bringing together Germany’s bishops and selected laypeople to debate and pass resolutions about the way power is exercised in the Church, sexual morality, the priesthood, and the role of women.

Participants have voted in favor of draft documents calling for the priestly ordination of women, same-sex blessings, and changes to Church teaching on homosexual acts.

Cardinal Kasper has repeatedly expressed concern about the process.

On Sunday, Kasper used the close-sounding German words Neuerung (“renewal”) and Erneuerung (“innovation”) to say one could “not reinvent the Church,” but rather one should contribute to renewing it in the Holy Spirit: "renewal is not innovation. It does not mean just trying something new and inventing a new Church."

Instead, Kasper continued, true reform was about "letting the Spirit of God make us new and give us a new heart." 

Analogously, he said, the term "reform" applies to bringing the church back "into shape," "namely, into the shape that Jesus Christ wanted and that he gave to the Church. Jesus Christ is the foundation, no one can lay another (1 Cor 3:10 f); he is at the same time the capstone that holds everything together (Eph 2:20). He is the standard, the Alpha and Omega of every renewal."

Catholic family who welcomed Ukrainian refugees into their home share testimony at the Vatican

The Chiriaco family share their story at the World Meeting of Families, June 22, 2022. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Vatican City, Jun 22, 2022 / 13:07 pm (CNA).

As millions of refugees fled the war in Ukraine this year, a Catholic family of eight made the decision to welcome a refugee family into their home.

Pietro and Erika Chiriaco live in Rome with their six children. The couple explained to their children during family prayer time that welcoming a refugee family would be “like welcoming Jesus.”

This is how Iryna and Sofia, a mother and her 17-year-old daughter from Kyiv, came to live in the Chiriaco family in the southern outskirts of Rome. 

The pair left the Ukrainian capital 10 days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and eventually took a bus to Italy.

“The decision to leave was not easy,” Iryna said.

“Today I thank God because he sent so many good people in our path,” she added. 

Iryna and Sofia shared their story with the pope alongside the Chiriaco family on the stage of the World Meeting of Families, which is taking place in Rome June 22-26.

The Chiriacos said that they made the decision to host the Ukrainian refugees out of gratitude to God. Erika Chiriaco added that the presence of the Ukrainian mother and daughter in their home has been a “blessing from heaven.”

Pope Francis thanked the family for their generosity and for witnessing to what it means to be a “welcoming family.”

“Welcoming is truly a ‘charism’ of families, especially large families,” Pope Francis said.

“We may think that, in a large home, it is harder to welcome other people; yet that is not the case, for families with numerous children are trained to make room for others. They always find space for others.”

The pope added that a family is the place where a person “experiences what it is to be welcomed.” He said that this can be seen when a family welcomes the life of a child with a disability, welcomes a relative facing difficulties, or welcomes an elderly person in need of care. 

The organizers of the 10th World Meeting of Families are encouraging families to participate virtually in this Catholic tradition started by St. John Paul II by tuning into media broadcasts and live streams of the speeches and catecheses.

Pope Francis thanked Iryna and Sofia for sharing their witness to faith amid human brutality at the World Meeting of Families.

“You gave a voice to all those persons whose lives have been devastated by the war in Ukraine,” he said.

“In you, we see the faces and the stories of so many men and women forced to leave their homeland. We thank you, for you have not lost your trust in providence and you have seen how God is at work in your lives, not least through the flesh and blood people he led you to encounter.”

Catholic marriage is a gift, not a formality, Pope Francis says at World Meeting of Families 2022 opening

Pope Francis speaks at the opening of the World Meeting of Families in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, June 22, 2022. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Vatican City, Jun 22, 2022 / 12:10 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis said Wednesday that Catholic marriage is a gift, not just a formality or rule.

“Marriage is not a formality to be fulfilled. You don’t get married to be Catholic ‘with the label,’ to obey a rule, or because the Church says so, or to throw a party,” the pope said at the opening event of the World Meeting of Families on June 22.

“You get married,” he continued, “because you want to base your marriage on the love of Christ, which is as firm as a rock.”

“We can say that when a man and a woman fall in love, God offers them a gift: marriage. A wonderful gift, which has in it the power of divine love: strong, enduring, faithful, able to recover after any failure or fragility,” Francis said. 

The World Meeting of Families 2022 opened with a Festival of Families in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall. The event featured a performance by Italian operatic rock trio Il Volo.

Pope Francis and around 2,000 families from around the world also listened to the testimonies of married couples and individuals with stories of overcoming incredible challenges or of serving others.

The 10th edition of the World Meeting of Families, which ends on June 26, includes three days of talks from lay Catholics on subjects related to marriage and the family. Mass and Eucharistic adoration are also on the schedule.

Pope Francis told families: “In marriage Christ gives himself to you, so that you have the strength to give yourselves to each other.”

“Take courage, then, family life is not an impossible mission,” he added. “With the grace of the sacrament, God makes it a wonderful journey to be taken together with him, never alone.”

“Family is not a beautiful ideal, unattainable in reality. God guarantees his presence in marriage and family, not only on your wedding day but throughout your life. And he sustains you every day in your journey,” Francis said.

Can laity preach at Mass? Chicago parish offers pulpit to same-sex couple

Alex Shingleton and Landon Duyka deliver a 'Gospel reflection' during Mass at Old St. Patrick's in Chicago, Ill., June 19, 2022. / Old St. Patrick’s/vimeo.

Denver Newsroom, Jun 22, 2022 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

A Chicago Catholic parish is facing questions after the pastor allowed a couple in a same-sex marriage to offer a “reflection” in lieu of the homily at a June 19 Mass. 

The parish, Old St. Patrick’s, is a historic and prominent parish on Chicago’s west loop. The priest celebrating the Mass, Father Joe Roccasalva, introduced the two men immediately after proclaiming the Gospel and said they were to give a Father’s Day “Gospel reflection.” According to canon law, laypeople are not allowed to preach homilies during Mass — only the ordained, meaning priests, bishops, and deacons, are allowed to do so. 

Upon taking the lectern, Alex Shingleton and Landon Duyka — who say they have been members of the parish for a decade — described their same-sex marriage as a “blessing” and the adoption of their two children as “miracles.” 

“Let’s be honest, there are probably not too many gay dads speaking on Father’s Day at many Catholic Churches on the planet today,” one of the men said. 

Later in the presentation, one of the men stated: “We wanted to raise our children in the Catholic Church…On the other hand, we didn’t want to expose our children to bigotry and have them feel any shame or intolerance about their family.” 

The men described as a “miracle” the fact that they had found an LGBT-affirming community at the self-described “radically inclusive” Old St. Patrick’s parish, as they said they had experienced rejection and a lack of welcome at other Catholic parishes. 

The Catholic Church teaches that people who identify as LGBT should be treated with dignity and respect, but also that homosexual acts are sinful and that homosexual unions — even if recognized as marriage by governments or society — cannot be approved by the Church under any circumstance. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that "'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved." At the same time, the Catechism and popes have drawn a clear distinction between homosexual acts and homosexual inclinations, the latter of which, while objectively disordered, are not sinful

"Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection," the Catechism adds.

In terms of the question of laypeople giving homilies, Father Pius Pietrzyk OP, a canon lawyer, told CNA in written responses that although the allowance of the reflection was technically a clear violation of the law, Catholics should not merely be concerned with the letter of the law, but also the reasons behind it. 

“[The law] expresses the Church's understanding of the role of the priest in the life of the parish community,” Pietrzyk explained. 

“More importantly, it expresses the essential link between the munus sanctificandi [duty to sanctify, or consecrate] and the munus docendi [the duty to teach], which is rooted in the sacrament of holy orders.” 

Pietrzyk said he hopes that the men who spoke at Old St. Patrick’s continue to participate in the Catholic Church. 

“We should continue to encourage these two men to participate in the life of the Church,” Pietrzyk stressed, but reiterated that the fact that they are living publicly as a same-sex married couple — a state the Church teaches to be sinful — cannot simply be ignored. 

Moreover, Pietrzyk described the priest’s decision to allow the men to speak during Mass as a “politicization of the Eucharist.”

“The selection of these two as [homilists] on Father's Day must be seen for what it is, a political act of submission to modern sexual ideologies and an act of rebellion against the teachings of Christ and his Church,” the priest said. 

In March 2021, the Vatican’s doctrinal office clarified that the Catholic Church does not have the power to give liturgical blessings of homosexual unions, writing that “it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage (i.e., outside the indissoluble union of a man and a woman open in itself to the transmission of life), as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex.” The ruling and note were approved for publication by Pope Francis. 

The Archdiocese of Chicago has not responded to questions on the matter from other Catholic publications. 

First married couple to be beatified together featured at World Meeting of Families

Blessed Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi. / Courtesy of Diocese of Rome

Vatican City, Jun 22, 2022 / 09:46 am (CNA).

Relics of the first married couple to be beatified together by the Catholic Church can be venerated inside St. Peter’s Basilica this week during the World Meeting of Families in Rome.

Blessed Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi are the official patrons of the 10th World Meeting of Families taking place in Rome on June 22-26.

The Italian couple was married for 45 years, enduring two world wars together and nurturing their four children’s vocations in service of the Church amid unprecedented difficulties facing Europe.

Both of their sons became priests in the 1930s and went on to concelebrate the beatification Mass of their parents with John Paul II in 2001. 

Their eldest son, Father Tarcisio Beltrame, a Benedictine monk, and his younger brother Father Paolino, a Trappist, both risked their lives to secretly work with the resistance during the Nazi occupation of Italy in World War II, while the Beltrame Quattrocchi family’s apartment in Rome served as a hiding place for fugitives and Italians with Jewish heritage.

A living relative of the Beltrame Quattrocchi family says that he has documents from the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS) confirming the sons’ collaboration in the Resistance movement, which was made even riskier by the fact that the family’s apartment was located right by the headquarters of the German command in Rome. 

“If they had been discovered they would have all been immediately shot,” Francesco Beltrame Quattrocchi told EWTN. 

The Beltrame Quattrocchis’ daughters also enthusiastically served the Church. Their eldest daughter, Stefania, entered a Benedictine monastery as a nun in 1927. And the youngest child in their family, Enrichetta Beltrame Quattrocchi, was a lay consecrated woman who has been declared venerable.

‘Extraordinarily rich spiritual life’

At the root of their children’s vocations and the courageous witness of the Beltrame Quattrocchi family during times of trial was the rich spiritual foundation within Luigi and Maria’s marriage. 

When St. John Paul II beatified Luigi and Maria in 2001, he said that the blessed married couple “lived an ordinary life in an extraordinary way.”

“Among the joys and anxieties of a normal family, they knew how to live an extraordinarily rich spiritual life. At the center of their life was the daily Eucharist as well as devotion to the Virgin Mary, to whom they prayed every evening with the rosary,” he said.

Luigi and Maria lived lives of heroic virtue together as spouses and parents. The couple was married in the Basilica of St. Mary Major on Nov. 25, 1905. Luigi was 25 years old and Maria was 21. A plaque commemorating their marriage can be seen in the basilica’s Corsini chapel today. 

After being married in Rome’s largest Marian basilica, the couple later entrusted their family and all their children to Our Lady of Divine Love.

The Beltrame Quattrocchi children. Courtesy of Diocese of Rome
The Beltrame Quattrocchi children. Courtesy of Diocese of Rome

“This couple lived married love and service to life in the light of the Gospel and with great human intensity. With full responsibility they assumed the task of collaborating with God in procreation, dedicating themselves generously to their children, to teach them, guide them and direct them to discovering his plan of love,” John Paul II said.

“From this fertile spiritual terrain sprang vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life, which shows how, with their common roots in the spousal love of the Lord, marriage, and virginity may be closely connected and reciprocally enlightening.”

Luigi worked as a lawyer and Maria served as a catechist and wrote several books on education while raising their four children.

The couple also organized Catholic marriage preparation courses for engaged couples through their work in Catholic Action.

During World War I, the family also assisted the wounded and families facing difficulties. They also financially supported some young people who wished to become priests or enter religious life.

Luigi died of a heart attack in 1951 at the age of 71. Maria lived for another 14 years after the death of her beloved husband and continued her dedicated service to her family and the Church.

Relics of Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi currently on display in St. Peter’s Basilica. CNA
Relics of Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi currently on display in St. Peter’s Basilica. CNA

In addition to the first-class relics of the blessed married couple, which can be found in front of the main altar in St. Peter’s Basilica, several other personal items of theirs will be on display in the Paul VI Hall during the World Meeting of Families in Rome. 

The items showcase how the couple’s spiritual lives were intertwined with the love shared in their marriage. On display is the engagement ring that Luigi gave to Maria and the Bible that the couple would read together. 

There is also the small holy card of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary of Pompei that Maria gave to Luigi before their wedding, which Luigi kept in his wallet for over 40 years. 

The beatified couple are buried together in Rome’s Sanctuary of Divine Love. 

Pope Francis mourns Catholic priests killed in Mexico

null / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Vatican City, Jun 22, 2022 / 06:35 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Wednesday he is mourning the death of two Jesuit priests who were killed in Mexico this week.

“I also express my sorrow and dismay at the killing in Mexico the day before yesterday of two Jesuit religious, my brothers, and a layman,” the pope said on June 22 in St. Peter’s Square.

“How many killings in Mexico,” he said before thousands of pilgrims. “I am close with affection and prayer to the Catholic community affected by this tragedy. Once again, I repeat that violence does not solve problems, but increases unnecessary suffering.”

The Jesuits of Mexico announced Tuesday that two of their priests were killed on June 20 inside a church in a mountainous region of Chihuahua state.

Fathers Javier Campos Morales and Joaquín César Mora Salazar had served as Jesuit priests for nearly a century combined. The gunmen who carried out the June 20 attack on the church in Cerocahui, Chihuahua also took their bodies.

According to the Chihuahua State Attorney General’s Office, both priests tried to protect a person who sought refuge in the church while being chased by at least one other man, both armed, El Sol de Mexico newspaper reported. The chaser reportedly shot and killed all three men.

Luis Gerardo Moro Madrid SJ, Provincial of the Jesuits of Mexico, condemned the killings and said they are “working with the federal and state authorities to ensure the safety” of the parish’s two remaining priests.

Pope Francis expressed his sorrow at the death of the priests in an appeal at the end of his Wednesday general audience.

He also said he is praying for victims of a powerful earthquake in Afghanistan, which struck just after 1:30 a.m. local time on Wednesday.

At least 920 people have been killed, and hundreds injured, according to Taliban officials, the BBC reported.

“In the past few hours, an earthquake has claimed lives and caused extensive damage in Afghanistan,” Pope Francis said.

“I express my sympathy to the injured and those affected by the earthquake and pray especially for those who lost their lives and their families,” he said. “I hope that with everyone’s help, the suffering of the dear people of Afghanistan can be alleviated.”