Tuesday, February 28, 2023

This patron Saint of Wales begins our March Saints of the Day


St. David

According to tradition, St. David was the son of King Sant of South Wales and St. Non. He was ordained a priest and later studied under St. Paulinus. Later, he was involved in missionary work and founded a number of monasteries. The monastery he founded at Menevia in Southwestern Wales was noted for extreme asceticism. David and his monks drank neither wine nor beer - only water - while putting in a full day of heavy manual labor and intense study. Around the year 550, David attended a synod at Brevi in Cardiganshire. His contributions at the synod are said to have been the major cause for his election as primate of the Cambrian Church. He was reportedly consecrated archbishop by the patriarch of Jerusalem while on a visit to the Holy Land. He also is said to have invoked a council that ended the last vestiges of Pelagianism. David died at his monastery in Menevia around the year 589, and his cult was approved in 1120 by Pope Callistus II. He is revered as the patron of Wales. Undoubtedly, St. David was endowed with substantial qualities of spiritual leadership. What is more, many monasteries flourished as a result of his leadership and good example. His staunch adherence to monastic piety bespeaks a fine example for modern Christians seeking order and form in their prayer life.His feast day is March 1.

In New York, this local diocese has banned some Latin Masses


Albany Diocese bans Latin Masses following new guidance from the Vatican

Washington D.C., Feb 27, 2023 / 17:28 pm (CNA).

The Diocese of Albany, New York, has at least temporarily banned the Traditional Latin Mass at two parishes to comply with an order issued by the Vatican last week.

Effective immediately, parish churches in the diocese are prohibited from celebrating the Latin Mass in accordance with the “Missale Romanum” of 1962, according to a statement from the diocese.

“In light of the rescript, which the Vatican sent last week, the celebration of the Usus Antiquior [Traditional Latin Mass] is currently on hold in parish churches in the Albany Diocese,” the diocese noted in a statement provided to CNA. “As we explore various possibilities, the Usus Antiquior can continue at Our Lady of Martyrs Shrine in Auriesville, which is not a parish church in the diocese.”

Holy Family Parish in Little Falls, which offered the Latin Mass at noon on Sundays and at 8 a.m. on Wednesdays, cannot celebrate the ancient form of the Mass for the time being. St. Ann’s Church in Fort Ann, which offered the Latin Mass on certain weekdays, was also informed it can no longer celebrate this form of the Mass.

At this time, the only church within the diocese that can offer the Latin Mass in accordance with the Missale Romanum of 1962 is the Our Lady of Martyrs Shrine in Auriesville. The shrine is currently closed until May. The diocese is also home to a Carmelite rite church: St. Joseph Church in Troy. The Carmelite rite has a unique liturgical tradition that celebrates an older form of the Mass in Latin, which is distinct from the “Missale Romanum” of 1962. According to the diocese, the Carmelite rite’s liturgy is not subject to the Vatican’s restrictions. The church offers a Latin Mass at noon on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

On July 16, 2021, Pope Francis issued a motu proprio titled Traditionis custodes, which directed bishops to designate locations for the celebration of the Latin Mass but added that those locations not be within parish churches. Many bishops offered dispensations for parishes that already had thriving Latin Mass communities. On Feb. 21, Cardinal Arthur Roche, who serves as the prefect for the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, issued a clarification, known as a rescript. The rescript clarified that all dispensations must be approved by the Vatican and ordered any bishop who had already issued dispensations to inform the dicastery, which will evaluate individual cases.

CNA reached out to Holy Family Parish and St. Ann’s Church but did not receive a response by the time of publication. However, one Holy Family parishioner, Fred Simon, told CNA that he is requesting prayers.

“We are living through historic and unprecedented times and the best thing we can do — and I’m asking everyone to do so — is pray for our bishops and priests,” Simon said.

The effect of Cardinal Roche’s rescript is still unclear, as many bishops have yet to clearly indicate what they will do next. However, some bishops have already sought and received Vatican approval for dispensations. These dispensations, however, are not permanent but instead only granted for a limited period of time. For example, the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, was approved for two-year dispensations for three parishes that offer the Traditional Latin Mass:  St. Anthony Mission in King George County, St. Rita in Alexandria, and St. John the Beloved in McLean. When that time is up, the dispensations will expire and will need the Vatican’s approval to be extended.

Some bishops have sought to accommodate Latin Mass goers in other ways. For example, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, redesignated a parish church that offers the Latin Mass, Sacred Heart, as a non-parish church to skirt the restrictions. Bishop Robert Barron of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, designated a new chapel for the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass that was not inside a parish church.

Citing dementia and increasing weakness, McCarrick asks for all charges of abuse be dropped

Ex-cardinal McCarrick asks for dismissal of sex abuse case against him, citing dementia

Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, 92, filed a motion in a Massachusetts court claiming he is “legally incompetent” to stand trial for sex abuse charges, citing “significant, worsening, and irreversible dementia.”

McCarrick is charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over the age of 14 relating to allegations that he sexually abused the teenager who was a family friend at a wedding ceremony in the 1970s at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. 

McCarrick, laicized by Pope Francis in 2019, held one of the highest offices in the Catholic Church and has been accused of serially abusing his priestly authority by sexually abusing minors and seminarians.

The state of Massachusetts told CNA that it wants an opportunity to examine McCarrick’s competency to stand trial.

McCarrick’s motion to dismiss the charges comes about a month after his legal team said a neurological exam of him was being conducted by Dr. David Schretlen, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

That exam remains unavailable to the public, as Schretlen’s final report includes “extensive confidential information” about McCarrick’s health and personal life, and would be “harmful” to McCarrick if it were available to the public, one of McCarrick’s lawyers, Daniel Marx, said in a separate court document.

However, there are certain details from the report that were available in McCarrick’s motion to dismiss the case, such as his consistently low performance scores on cognitive tests.

The document says that McCarrick performed “below expectation” on nearly two-thirds of the cognitive tests administered to him. Quoting the report, the document says that he performed “worse than 92% of reasonably healthy men of similar background and estimated premorbid on 38% of the cognitive measures.”

The report on McCarrick says that his “reported inability to retrieve memories of the alleged incident and potential witnesses” and “any exculpatory factors related to it” are consistent with his performance on the exams and testimony from those who know him well, according to the document.

Schretlen’s report concluded that McCarrick has a “severe cognitive disorder” and “everyday functional disability” that classifies as dementia and is most likely due to Alzeimer’s disease, the document says.

McCarrick is not legally competent to stand trial, the document says. It adds that his dementia is also “irreversible” and “likely to progress over time” with no expectation of improvement. 

The document says that although McCarrick “remains intelligent and articulate,” he is unable to stand trial because his dementia prevents him from “meaningfully consulting with counsel and effectively participating in his own defense.”

It would be a violation of McCarrick’s 14th Amendment right in the Constitution and Article XII of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights if he were to stand trial with his dementia, his lawyers maintain in the court document.

David Traub, director of communications for the Norfolk District Attorney’s Office, which is prosecuting the case, told CNA in an email Monday that “the Commonwealth will hire its own expert to assess competency.”

Traub said that an update court hearing in Dedham District Court on the state’s examination of McCarrick is set for April 20.

McCarrick’s lawyer Barry Coburn declined comment. Marx, his other lawyer, did not respond to a request for comment.

McCarrick hasn’t been seen publicly since his arraignment in Dedham on Sept. 3, 2021, when he pleaded not guilty to all three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over the age of 14. 

 He appeared in frail condition that day, arriving at the courthouse wearing a mask and hunched over a walker. He made no comment either inside or outside the courthouse, where a demonstrator yelled, “Shame on you!” as McCarrick slowly walked past reporters and photographers alongside one of his attorneys.

The document says that McCarrick continues to maintain his innocence on all charges. 

Agenda for Pope Francis today: Lenten spiritual exercises


File photo of Pope Francis at the start of LentFile photo of Pope Francis at the start of Lent 

Lenten Spiritual Exercises underway for Pope, Roman Curia in Vatican

This first week of Lent, Pope Francis' engagements are suspended as he and top Roman Curia officials dedicate these days to private, prayerful Spiritual Exercises.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

Pope Francis and the Roman Curia are dedicating this first week of Lent to Spiritual Exercises, focused on private, personal prayer.

Last month, the Holy See Press Office announced the Pope had invited all Cardinals residing in Rome, heads of Dicasteries, and Superiors of the Roman Curia to take the week for prayer.

Pope Francis’ engagements are suspended this week, including the Wednesday General Audience of tomorrow, 1 March.

His next public event will be his Sunday Angelus.

The Holy Father urged top officials of the Roman Curia to “experience in a personal way a period of Spiritual Exercises.”

In order to facilitate their personal retreat, he requested them to suspend their “work activities and engage in prayer from the afternoon of Sunday, 26 February, to the afternoon of Friday, 3 March."

Monday, February 27, 2023

Tuesday Saint of the Day


St. Hilary, Pope

Pope from 461-468 and guardian of Church unity. He was born in Sardinia, Italy, and was a papal legate to the Robber Council of Ephesus in 449, barely escaping with his life from this affair. Hilary was used by Pope St. Leo I the Great on many assignments. When Leo died, Hilary was elected pope and consecrated on November 19,461. He worked diligently to strengthen the Church in France and Spain, calling councils in 462 and 465. Hilary also rebuilt many Roman churches and erected the chapel of St. John Lateran. He also publicly rebuked Emperor Anthemius in St. Peter's for supporting the Macedonian heresy and sent a decree to the Eastern bishops validating the decisions of the General Councils of Nicaea, Ephesus, and Chalcedon. Hilary consolidated the Church in Sandi, Africa, and Gaul. He died in Rome on February 28.

Ongoing governmental persecution of the Church in Nicaragua; bans all public devotions for Holy Week and Easter


Bishop Rolando Alvarez of MatagalpaBishop Rolando Alvarez of Matagalpa 

Nicaragua: Ortega bans Easter processions and attacks bishops

The Nicaraguan regime forbids the celebration of the traditional public processions of the Way of the Cross and accuses bishops of “grave crimes and horrors".

By Lisa Zengarini

In the latest move against the Catholic Church and government opponents in Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega’s regime has reportedly banned the traditional public processions of the Way of the Cross in all parishes in the country.

During Lent, and also on Good Friday, the ritual will take place inside the churches and not in public venues.

The move comes in the context of President Ortega’s escalating crackdown against the Nicaraguan Church and follows the widespread outcry over the recent sentencing of Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa to 26 years’ imprisonment and the deportation to the United States of 222 political opponents. They have all been stripped off citizenship along with other 94 Nicaraguan citizens, including the exiled Auxiliary Bishop Silvo José Baez, of Managua, and a priest from Matagalpa.

Bishops accused of "grave crimes and horrors" 

Tensions between the Sandinista regime and the Catholic Church reached its peak last week when, in a speech for the 89th anniversary of the killing of Nicaraguan national hero Augusto Sandino, President Ortega launched an unprecedented attack against the Church, accusing the Catholic hierarchy of "grave crimes and horrors" and of supporting dictator Somoza, who was ousted by the Sandinista Revolution in 1979. 

In his address to the nation, Ortega also accused the papacy of having supported Italian dictator Mussolini, and the Vatican of being a “mafia organization”.

“I don't believe in popes or kings: who chooses the Pope?”, he said. “If we want to talk about democracy, the people should first elect priests and the bishops”, and “even the Pope” should be “elected by direct vote and not by the organized mafia in the Vatican".

Worldwide solidarity with the Church in Nicaragua

Ortega’s ranting came in the wake of Pope Francis’ appeal for Nicaragua on February 12. During the Angelus prayer, the Pope said he was praying for Bishop Álvarez, “for those who have been deported to the United States, and for all those who suffer in the beloved nation of Nicaragua”, adding his voice to the many expressions of solidarity with the Church in Nicaragua from across the world.

In his speech Ortega made no mention of the 222 exiles, nor  of Bishop Álvarez recent sentencing to 26 years of prison for treason.

In recent days the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) called for the immediate release of the prelate, saying he is "unjustly detained", and denounced that, since his imprisonment in La Modelo security prison, there has been no news about him, and no family visits have been allowed. According to the organization his life is in danger.

U.S. Bishops' support to Church in Nicaragua

Following Pope Francis’ appeal, the US Bishops too have expressed their solidarity with the Church in Nicaragua. In a statement last week, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB,  Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, thanked the Catholic community in the United States for the warm welcome given to the Nicaraguan exiles. “At this dark hour, courageous hope, charity, and solidarity are bearing witness to the enduring vitality of the faith of the people of Nicaragua and among Catholics worldwide supporting the Nicaraguan faithful”, Archbishop Broglio said, urging he U.S. government and other partners “to continue to pursue the release of Bishop Álvarez and the restoration of human rights in Nicaragua.”

Increasing attack against the Church between 2018-2022

Relations between the Ortega administration and the Nicaraguan Church deteriorated again after the wave of anti-regime protests that were brutally suppressed by the government in 2018.

Despite attempts to mediate in the crisis, bishops were ultimately banned from mediating, and accused by Ortega of being "putschists" for giving refuge to wounded demonstrators during protests that, according to human rights groups, left at least 328 people dead.

Relations further worsened after the controversial 2021 elections which confirmed the Sandinista leader for another mandate.

Since the outbreak of the crisis the Church has been the target of several attacks and desecrations, as well as harassment and intimidations of bishops and priests.

Between April 2018 and October 2022, the Nicaraguan regime has allegedly carried out 396 attacks against the Catholic Church of Nicaragua, ranging from offensive paintings in churches to physical attacks, exiles, and arrests.

Pope Francis headed to Hungary in April


File photo of Pope Francis' arrival to Hungary in 2021 to celebrate Mass at the closure of the 52nd International Eucharist CongressFile photo of Pope Francis' arrival to Hungary in 2021 to celebrate Mass at the closure of the 52nd International Eucharist Congress  (Vatican Media)

Pope Francis to make Apostolic Journey to Hungary in April

Pope Francis will make an Apostolic Journey to the European nation of Hungary from 28 to 30 April, marking his 41st Journey abroad, where he will follow a busy itinerary in the country's capital of Budapest.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

In a statement from Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni announced on Monday: "Accepting the invitation of the civil and ecclesial Authorities, His Holiness Pope Francis will make an Apostolic Journey to Hungary from 28 to 30 April 2023, visiting the city of Budapest."

The papal visit will mark Pope Francis' 41st Apostolic Journey abroad.

During his three-day journey, the Pope will visit with refugees and poor people, as well as with children of the Blessed László Batthyány-Strattmann Institute.

As is customary, the Holy Father will address authorities, civil society and the diplomatic corps; young people; bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated persons, seminarians and pastoral workers; and representatives of the academic and cultural world.

More than half of Hungarians are Christian, and at least 37 percent of the population identify as Catholic.

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, nearly 1 million Ukrainian nationals have travelled through Hungary as refugees, according to local sources.

Closeness to Hungary

The Holy Father had made a brief stop in the country's capital of Budapest to celebrate Mass for the closure of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress on 12 September 2021, on his way to Slovakia.

Pope Francis had also has shown his closeness to the Hungarian faithful during his visit to Romania, when celebrated Mass at the popular Hungarian pilgrimage site of Csíksomlyó (Șumuleu Ciuc) in the Romania's Transylvania region.

Transylvania had once been part of Hungary, but became Romanian territory in 1920. Ethnic Hungarians in Romania total more than one million people.

Here is the Pope's itinerary in the European nation:

28 - 30 APRIL 2023

Friday, 28 April 2023
08:10 Departure by airplane from Rome/Fiumicino International Airport to Budapest
10:00 Arrival at Budapest International Airport
11:00 WELCOME CEREMONY in the square of “Sándor” Palace
12:20 MEETING WITH THE AUTHORITIES, CIVIL SOCIETY AND THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS in the former Carmelite Monastery Address of the Holy Father

Saturday, 29 April 2023
10:15 MEETING WITH POOR PEOPLE AND REFUGEES in St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church Address of the Holy Father
16:30 MEETING WITH YOUNG PEOPLE in “Papp László Budapest Sportaréna” Address of the Holy Father

Sunday, 30 April 2023

09:30 HOLY MASS in Kossuth Lajos' Square Homily of the Holy Father
Regina Caeli
16:00 MEETING WITH THE ACADEMIC AND CULTURAL WORLD at the Faculty of Information Technology and Bionics of the Catholic University “Péter Pázmány” Address of the Holy Father
17:30 FAREWELL CEREMONY at Budapest International Airport
18:00 Departure by airplane from Budapest International Airport to Rome
19:55 Arrival at Rome/Fiumicino International Airport