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Pope Francis spoke about priestly abuse, Ukraine, and women in the Church

“One very key thing is zero tolerance. Zero. A priest cannot continue being a priest if he is an abuser. He cannot act (as a priest) because he is sick or a criminal,” the pope said in an interview with CNN Portugal.

“If he is a priest, he is there to lead people to God and not to destroy people in the name of God. Zero tolerance and we must not stop at that,” he said. The lengthy interview was recorded Aug. 11, 2022 at the Vatican and aired in two segments over two evenings, September 4-5, 2022 . . .

The interview covered a wide range of topics, such as the liturgy, the role of women, the importance of dialogue, synodality, prayer life and World Youth Day, which is to be held in Lisbon, Portugal, August 1-6, 2023.

Read more Pope Francis spoke about priestly abuse, Ukraine, and women in the Church

Myanmar’s Coup Junta executes four pro-democracy opponents

The military junta has executed four political prisoners who opposed the February 2020 coup: former National League for Democracy (NLD) MP Phyo Zeya Thaw, well-known activist Kyaw Min Yu, better known as Ko Jimmy, Hla Myo Aung and Aung Thura Zaw. Burmese generals, who overthrew the civilian government led by Aung San Suu Kyi, had sentenced the four men to death in January this year and announced the executions in June, after Phyo Zeya Thaw and Ko Jimmy lost their appeal.

Although hangings were still permitted under the previous civil government, capital punishment had not been carried out since 1988.

The Global News Light of Myanmar daily broke the news. The junta claimed that the four men had “given directives, made agreements and conspired to carry out terrorist acts.” Phyo's wife, Thazin Nyunt Aung, told Reuters that she had not been informed about her husband's execution, which according to The Irrawaddy took place in Insein prison in Yangon over the weekend.

Background of two pro-democracy advocates

Phyo Zeya Thaw was a hip-hop singer who wrote lyrics highly critical of the army; he was a close ally of Aung San Suu Kyi in the NLD. He was arrested in November for alleged acts of terrorism.

Read more Myanmar’s Coup Junta executes four pro-democracy opponents

Sister Luisa ministered in Haiti, amid danger and turmoil


Pope Francis said: "I would like to express my closeness to the relatives and fellow sisters of Sister Luisa Dell’Orto, a Little Sister of the Gospel of Saint Charles de Foucauld, who was killed yesterday in Port-au-Prince, the capital of Haiti.

“Sister Luisa lived there for twenty years, dedicated above all to serving children on the streets. I entrust her soul to God, and I pray for the Haitian people, especially for the least, so they might have a more peaceful future without misery and violence. Sister Luisa made a gift of her life to others even to martyrdom."

Read more Sister Luisa ministered in Haiti, amid danger and turmoil

La Salette and Youth – What’s happening today?

In ministering with youth today, we need to get initial information from those who are scientifically up-to-date in this area.

The professionals at Springtide Research Institute in Winona, Minnesota, a non-Denominational Research Institute with a solid reputation, concentrate their research on the inner and outer lives of young people. They seek to understand how these youth experience community, identity, and meaning. They exist at the intersection of religious and human experiences in the lives of young people. They listen well.

In 2021, they studied young people aged 13-25 and how they responded to the uncertainty that lay before them. They studied over 10,000 young people: There is good and bad news.

There is some good news and some bad news . . .

The bad news first: In the past, young people turned to their faith – a faith we’d recognize – in times of uncertainty, but the current batch is not doing this, at least not in the ways we usually understand. Most are not turning to traditional religious institutions to help them navigate. 40% of the Catholic youth surveyed have no connection to a Catholic religious institution.

Read more La Salette and Youth – What’s happening today?

100 Days War – Ukrainian Archbishop reflects on the pope, hope, solidarity

Marking the 100th day of Russia's war against Ukraine, Pope Francis again called for international efforts to stop the aggression, respect human life and end "the macabre destruction of cities and villages" in the country.

According to the popular Italian blog, Il Sismografo, the pope's June 5, 2022 plea was the 52nd time he spoke publicly about the war, which began Feb. 24, 2022. But, again, he did not name Russia as the aggressor or lay blame for the tragedy at the feet of Russia President Vladimir Putin.

pope2xPope Francis greets visitors in Vatican CityArchbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halych, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, is not so reticent. He has been publishing a video message each day during the conflict, condemning Russia and accusing its troops of following “a genocide manual.”

The pope's decision not to name and shame Russia has caused confusion for many people inside and outside Ukraine. So, why the difference? "The pope is the pope. He is the pastor of the universal church, and we are Ukrainians; we are the pastors of the Ukrainian people," Archbishop Shevchuk told Catholic News Service May 30. "Obviously, we are the voice of our people. We live through the pains and joys of our people with them."

The pope has a different role

“The Holy Father has condemned the war, he's pointed explicitly to who is guilty for it, how international law and human dignity are being violated today, in Ukraine in particular,” the archbishop said. "But he is the universal pontiff so he uses a language that, on the one hand, can fulfill the prophetic mission of the church and on the other, can open all possible paths to dialogue, to communication. So that's why the pope speaks as he does, though you could ask him," he added with a smile.

Read more 100 Days War – Ukrainian Archbishop reflects on the pope, hope, solidarity

The hidden life of trees

Peter Wohlleben manages a forest in the Eifel Mountains of Germany. He’s most familiar with “the struggles and strategies of beeches and oaks.” And from decades of observing, studying, living, breathing, and walking among the trees, he has come to discover a parallel world that is invisible to most of us.

A life invisible to naked eye

1024px Old Tjikko 2011 07 19 001 768x1091Old Tjikko is a tree in Fulufjäll in Sweden which is claimed to be the oldest tree in the world, by age of its root system; photo: Wikimedia CommonsModern forestry is principally concerned with producing lumber. It was Wohlleben’s job to size up hundreds of trees a day with an eye toward the marketplace. It was only when, in the mid-90s, he began to organize survival training and log-cabin experiences for tourists that he began to wake up to the mystery, variety, complexity, and wonder of trees. He wrote about that awakening in the 2015 bestseller “The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate: Discoveries from a Secret World

The Foreword by scientist, explorer, and conservationist Tim Flannery sets the tone:

“One reason that many of us fail to understand trees is that they live on a different time scale than us. One of the oldest trees on Earth, [Old Tjikko], a spruce in Sweden, is more than 9,500 years old. That’s 115 times longer than the average human lifetime.”

Trees, it turns out, are social. They’re sophisticated communicators. They experience pain, have memories, and live with their children.

Trees can “taste” and “smell.” Certain trees release chemicals to alert their neighbors that a threat — in the form, for example, of a leaf-eating giraffe — is at hand. Others, when under attack by insects, send out chemical signals to attract predators that will eat the insects.

Trees exchange nutrients through their root systems, including with their competitors. The system is to everyone’s advantage, because a grouping of trees creates an ecosystem that, among other things, can regulate temperature, store water, and generate humidity.

Read more The hidden life of trees

Art that exalts the women of the Resurrection

From the very beginning, Christianity challenged the pagan world in many ways, not least in its vision of women. Christ and his apostles were male, the decision-makers around Jesus’ condemnation and death were men, and yet it was the women of the Resurrection who brought the light of hope and first proclaimed the good news.

Rediscovering the hope of Easter through art

The artistic potential of these feminine protagonists of the history of salvation was not lost on artists who, over 18 centuries, produced myriad representations of the unique role assigned to Christ’s mother and female friends.

Read more Art that exalts the women of the Resurrection

What stands between Pope Francis and a visit to Kyiv?

Since his election to the papacy in 2013, Pope Francis has been dubbed a “pope of firsts” by Vatican observers, starting with who he is: the first pope from the Americas, the first Jesuit pope, and the first to take the name Francis.

Now, there’s a very real chance that, if the ongoing campaign lobbying for him to visit the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv succeeds, he’ll add another historic “first” to his legacy: the first pontiff in modern times to travel to a country being invaded by a foreign nation.

Pope St. John Paul II and Bosnian war

The one pope who came the closest was St. Pope John Paul II. In 1994 (year three of the four-year war in Bosnia), he tried to go to the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo, epicenter of the conflict.

Read more What stands between Pope Francis and a visit to Kyiv?

Finding faith at Harvard – Easter conversion stories

One convert’s journey to Catholicism began with an invitation to an ice-cream social. Another says he instantly believed in the Real Presence the moment someone explained what the round object was that everyone was staring at during eucharistic adoration. For a third, the poems of T.S. Eliot — and a seemingly random encounter with a priest on a public street — led to deeper questions about truth and faith.

Different paths to conversion during a pandemic

Their paths differed but led them to the same destination: St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where they are among 31 people set to be fully initiated into the Catholic Church during the Easter vigil Mass on Saturday, April 16, 2022. That number of initiates is a record high for St. Paul’s, a nearly century-old Romanesque-style brick church whose bell tower looms over Harvard Square.

Read more Finding faith at Harvard – Easter conversion stories

Jesus’ Resurrection – the Center of our Christian Life

The Resurrection is the greatest of Christ's miracles. For the soul of each of us, it is also the most important. But we need to know why!

The Son of God died and he rose again. The death of a God to satisfy our sins moves us deeply; it is a pathetic moment, we believe, but essential to our salvation and a testimony of the infinite love of God. On the other hand, the Resurrection of Jesus does not tell us much; it is a more glorious mystery, certainly than the first one, but only a magnificent appendix to the chapter of our redemption.

Alas! If we think like this, our faith is vain, as St. Paul says, and our life is meaningless. For the Resurrection, far from being a kind of addition to redemption, is an essential moment of it. The death and Resurrection of Christ form a whole. One without the other makes no sense. Together they constitute the Paschal Mystery, which is at the center of our faith and animates all Christian life. How does it work?

Read more Jesus’ Resurrection – the Center of our Christian Life

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