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Pope Francis: Like holy oil, priests must pour themselves out for others

Vatican City, Apr 18, 2019 / 02:57 am (CNA).- The holy oil blessed at the Chrism Mass is a reminder of the priest’s call to be close to the People of God, pouring himself out in service to them, Pope Francis said Thursday.

“I would say this: We [priests] are not distributors of bottled oil,” the pope said April 18. “We anoint by distributing ourselves, distributing our vocation and our heart.”

Priests not only anoint with sacramental oil, they “anoint by dirtying our hands in touching the wounds, the sins and the worries of the people. We anoint by perfuming our hands in touching their faith, their hopes, their fidelity and the unconditional generosity of their self-giving,” he said.

Francis spoke to priests living in Rome about the “grace of closeness” during the Chrism Mass of Holy Week, the Mass at which the pope, as the bishop of Rome, blesses the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of Catechumens, and the Chrism Oil, which will be used throughout the diocese over the coming year.

“When we anoint others” with this holy oil, he said, “we ourselves are anointed anew by the faith and the affection of our people.”

Pope Francis recalled the many times the Gospel speaks of Jesus being surrounded by crowds. “The Lord never lost that direct contact with people,” he said. “Amid those crowds, he always kept the grace of closeness with the people as a whole, and with each individual.”

This is what the Lord’s priests are called to do, he said.

“By setting us with Jesus in the midst of our people, may the Father renew deep within us the Spirit of holiness,” he prayed. “May he grant that we be one in imploring his mercy for the people entrusted to our care and for all the world.”

“In this way, the multitude of the peoples, gathered in Christ, may become the one faithful people of God, which will attain its fullness in the Kingdom,” he continued.

The pope explained that priests can find in the crowds of people an “evangelical model” for their ministry.

The people of their parish “are the ones who complete and make real the anointing of the Spirit in ourselves; they are the ones whom we have been anointed to anoint,” he said, reminding priests that they themselves came from the crowd of “ordinary people.”

The Catholic people “are an image of our soul and an image of the Church,” he stated.

The people in the Gospels demonstrated their affection for Jesus by following him, but this attitude is contrasted, he said, with the attitude of the disciples, who in their “small-mindedness” suggest that Jesus send them away in order to get something to eat.

“Here, I believe, was the beginning of clericalism,” the pope explained. There is a temptation to clericalism “in this desire to be assured of a meal and personal comfort without any concern for the people. The Lord cut short that temptation: ‘You, give them something to eat!’ was Jesus’ response. ‘Take care of the people!’”

Francis urged priests to counteract this temptation by remembering that “we priests are the poor man and we would like to have the heart of the poor widow whenever we give alms.”

“We priests are [the blind man] Bartimaeus, and each morning we get up and pray: ‘Lord, that I may see.’ We priests are, in some point of our sinfulness, the man beaten by the robbers. And we want first to be in the compassionate hands of the good Samaritan, in order then to be able to show compassion to others with our own hands,” he said.

First Reading: Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14

1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt,
2 "This month shall be for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you.
3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month they shall take every man a lamb according to their fathers' houses, a lamb for a household;
4 and if the household is too small for a lamb, then a man and his neighbor next to his house shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb.
5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old; you shall take it from the sheep or from the goats;
6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs in the evening.
7 Then they shall take some of the blood, and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat them.
8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it.
11 In this manner you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD's passover.
12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD.
13 The blood shall be a sign for you, upon the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.
14 "This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations you shall observe it as an ordinance for ever.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 116:12-13, 15-18

12 What shall I render to the LORD for all his bounty to me?
13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD,
15 Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
16 O LORD, I am thy servant; I am thy servant, the son of thy handmaid. Thou hast loosed my bonds.
17 I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the LORD.
18 I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,
24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me."
25 In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

Gospel: John 13:1-15

1 Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2 And during supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him,
3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God,
4 rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel.
5 Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded.
6 He came to Simon Peter; and Peter said to him, "Lord, do you wash my feet?"
7 Jesus answered him, "What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand."
8 Peter said to him, "You shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part in me."
9 Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!"
10 Jesus said to him, "He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over; and you are clean, but not every one of you."
11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, "You are not all clean."
12 When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you?
13 You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.
14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

Holy Thursday

Holy Thursday is the most complex and profound of all religious observances, saving only the Easter Vigil. It celebrates both the institution by Christ himself of the Eucharist and of the institution of the sacerdotal priesthood (as distinct from the 'priesthood of all believers') for in this, His last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover, He is the self-offered Passover Victim, and every ordained priest to this day presents this same sacrifice, by Christ's authority and command, in exactly the same way. The Last Supper was also Christ's farewell to His assembled disciples, some of whom would betray, desert or deny Him before the sun rose again. The Holy Thursday liturgy, celebrated in the evening because Passover began at sundown, also shows both the worth God ascribes to the humility of service, and the need for cleansing with water (a symbol of baptism) in the Mandatum, or washing in Jesus' washing the feet of His disciples, and in the priest's stripping and washing of the altar. Cleansing, in fact, gave this day of Holy Week the name Maundy Thursday. The action of the Church on this night also witnesses to the Church's esteem for Christ's Body present in the consecrated Host in the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, carried in solemn procession to the flower-bedecked Altar of Repose, where it will remain 'entombed' until the communion service on Good Friday. No Mass will be celebrated again in the Church until the Easter Vigil proclaims the Resurrection. And finally, there is the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament by the people during the night, just as the disciples stayed with the Lord during His agony on the Mount of Olives before the betrayal by Judas. There is such an abundance of symbolism in the solemn celebration of the events of Holy Thursday layer upon layer, in fact that we can no more than hint at it in these few words. For many centuries, the Last Supper of Our Lord has inspired great works of art and literature, such as the glorious stained glass window in Chartres cathedral, Leonardo's ever popular (and much imitated) Last Supper in the 16th century, and the reminiscence called Holy Thursday, by the French novelist,François Mauriac, written in the 1930s.  

Man arrested entering St. Patrick’s cathedral with gasoline

New York City, N.Y., Apr 17, 2019 / 08:55 pm (CNA).- A man is in custody after he attempted to bring containers of gasoline into St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City Wednesday night.

A spokesperson from the Archdiocese of New York told CNA that “the individual was stopped as he tried to come into the cathedral” before he was turned over to the police.

The man was apprehended by cathedral security around 8 p.m. and taken into police custody by officers with the NYPD Critical Response Command. Police said he had a car nearby to escape the scene of the cathedral.

According to the NYPD, the man had four gallons of gasoline, two cans of lighter fluid, and two lighters with him when he attempted to enter the cathedral. He was prevented from entering by cathedral security, but while speaking with security personnel, some gasoline did spill onto the floor.

NBC New York identified the man as Marc Lamparello, whom police have said is 37-years-old and from Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey.

When questioned by police as to why he was attempting to bring containers of gasoline into New York City’s largest Catholic church, Lamparello gave “inconsistent answers.”

Deputy NYPD Commission John Miller told reporters Wednesday night the man eventually told police he was “cutting through the cathedral to get to Madison Avenue; that his car had run out of gas.”

After police inspected his minivan, and discovered that it was not out of gas, he was taken into custody.

Lamparello is thought to be “mentally disturbed,” police sources said. Until at least 2013, he worked as a music director at a NJ parish. He has also worked as an adjunct philosophy professor, and has a degree in philosophy from Boston College.

Police have said thet have not established a motive, and have not yet charged the man with a crime. Lamparello was described as being “known to police.”

 

Around 7:55pm, a man walked into St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan with gas cans and lighter fluid, and was subsequently apprehended by @NYPDCT without incident. We thank our partners for their help, and remember - if you see something, say something. pic.twitter.com/qEbmklnqzQ

— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) April 18, 2019 The last scheduled Mass at the cathedral for Wednesday was celebrated at 5:30 p.m., per the cathedral’s website.

On Tuesday, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York City expressed concern for the safety of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which, like Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, also has a wooden roof.

“I thought of St. Patrick’s. I said, ‘Oh my Lord, are we safe?’” said Dolan of the Paris fire.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral recently underwent a $177 million restoration project, which included new fire safety features.

“Thank God the FDNY has been extraordinarily vigilant and helpful, because we’ve got a wooden roof too,” said Dolan.

This story is developing and is being updated

In Texas, bipartisan vote protects abortion survivors – but in NC, veto looms

Washington D.C., Apr 17, 2019 / 06:01 pm (CNA).- Republicans and Democrats in the Texas legislature voted to strengthen protections for babies born after surviving attempted abortions, but in North Carolina the governor could veto a similar bill.

In the Texas House of Representatives, a 93-1 vote included 12 Democrats voting in favor and 50 declaring themselves “present, not voting.” A similar Senate bill passed with a vote of 21-10, with two Democrats backing the legislation.

Rep. Jeff Leach of Plano, the House bill’s sponsor, said the legislation is about “protecting innocent life, a baby who is born alive.” He said the bill was an opportunity to unite across party lines, adding, “as much as the issue of abortion has historically divided this country, this state and even this body at times, to me there should be no debate on this issue.” He said the bill adds enforcement to existing law, which in his view does not go far enough, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Democrats favoring the bill included Dallas Rep. John Turner and others who largely represented the heavily Catholic southern Texas.

Turner said he did not see the bill as being about reproductive rights, but rather as addressing “an extremely rare circumstance.” In his 2018 campaign he had said he would not vote for legislation that would restrict abortion access.

Houston Democrat Harold Dutton, the sole vote against the bill, urged others to declare themselves “present, not voting.” Dutton charged the legislation was “blatantly false, inflammatory and dangerous.”

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission said no infants were reported to be born alive after abortion procedures in Texas from 2013 to 2016. Over 219,000 abortions were performed in the state during that period.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures said that more than 140 infants died in U.S. cases related to induced abortion from 2003 to 2014, the Associated Press reports.

The Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm of the pro-life advocacy group the Susan B. Anthony List, said government figures suggest 25 babies were born alive during abortion procedures in the year 2017 in Arizona, Florida, and Minnesota.

Rep. Donna Howard, an Austin Democrat, said there was no record of post-abortion births in the state and said infanticide was already illegal. She argued that the proposal did not merit debate and would stigmatize women’s health decisions, while traumatizing families whose unborn child has severe anomalies.

“The misinformation perpetuated by this bill is dangerous and is the exact type of rhetoric that leads to threats against providers,” she said. Howard, who has a background as a medical nurse, said she was “insulted by the implication that I or any other nurse or doctor ... would not do any and everything in our power to provide care to any medically stressed human being.”

Differences between the bills still require legislative action before they head to the governor. House Bill 16 would allow the state attorney general to sue a physician who fails to treat a live infant, for a fine of at least $100,000. In cases of “gross negligence,” offenders could face a third-degree felony charge penalized by imprisonment of two to ten years. The Senate bill would give the same penalties regardless of whether there was a finding of gross negligence.

Democratic State Sens. Eddie Lucio of Brownsville and Judith Zaffirini of Laredo voted for the bill, the Texas Tribune reports. Two House Republicans did not vote: Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Rep. Sarah Davis of Houston, who filled in for Bonnen. While it is common practice for the speaker or presiding chair not to vote, Davis has advocated for abortion rights, the Dallas Morning News reports.

Texas and 25 other states require physicians to provide medical care and treatment to infants who are born alive at any stage of development.

In North Carolina, the House of Representatives voted 65-46 to pass the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, Senate Bill 359. The Senate passed the bill by a 28-19 vote, the Raleigh News and Observer reports.

However, some observers said the response to the bill from the Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s office suggested that he would veto the bill, the Associated Press reports.

“This unnecessary legislation would criminalize doctors for a practice that simply does not exist,” said Ford Porter, a spokesman for Cooper.

The legislation would require medical practitioners to provide sufficient care for babies who survive abortion. Failure to do so could mean prison time and up to $250,000 in fines.

The bill also mandates that medical professionals report a baby who has survived an abortion and received insufficient care. If signed into law, it would allow relatives of a baby who died to file a civil lawsuit.

The Republican-controlled legislature lost its veto-proof supermajority in the 2018 elections and will need Democratic support if the governor vetoes the bill.

“Do any of you really think that infanticide is legal in North Carolina?” said bill critic State Rep. Susan Fisher, a Buncombe County Democrat. She objected that the Republican-controlled legislature would have acted sooner, when it had a veto-proof supermajority, if legislators believed babies were being left to die or killed after a failed abortion. She argued that the measure aimed to intimidate health care providers who conducted legal abortions.

Other critics opposed charging medical providers with murder, said the legislation interfered with a woman’s right to abortion, or interfered with medical actions between a physician and a pregnant woman.

Others said the bill addressed a real injustice.

“I can attest to the fact that infanticide has happened here in North Carolina,” said Rep. Pat McElraft, a Republican from Carteret County. “I’ve been witness to the result of those late-term abortions.”

She said that earlier in her career in Jacksonville, N.C., she encountered a local doctor who performed abortions. According to the Raleigh News and Observer, she alleged this unnamed doctor preserved bodies of unborn babies at his office, which she believed to have survived abortion but were drowned in saline.

“Nurses told stories of babies who were born alive and were taken by the doctor and turned face down in the saline,” she said.

Federal born-alive legislation failed to pass Congress earlier this year.

In May 2013 Philadelphia-based abortionist Kermit Gosnell was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder for the deaths of babies at his clinic. A government raid on his clinic found filthy conditions and human remains. State authorities had not inspected his clinic in years.

The illegal sale of fetal tissue and baby body parts for profit has also become prominent due to undercover videos published by the Center for Medical Progress that appear to show such activity by major abortion providers, including Planned Parenthood. The videos have prompted concern that some babies targeted for abortion are delivered alive to provide intact bodies for tissue harvesters.

Rosica's Pope Francis text plagiarized from anti-Catholic blog, report says

Toronto, Canada, Apr 17, 2019 / 05:56 pm (CNA).- A Canadian priest’s controversial 2018 characterization of Pope Francis was plagiarized, according to a recent media report. The priest, Fr. Thomas Rosica, SDB, apologized in February after he was discovered to have committed acts of plagiarism serially.

Rosica, a long-serving English language press aide at the Vatican Press Office, and the CEO of Canada’s Salt+Light Television network, wrote in July 2018 that Pope Francis “breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants because he is ‘free from disordered attachments.’ Our Church has indeed entered a new phase: with the advent of this first Jesuit pope, it is openly ruled by an individual rather than by the authority of Scripture alone or even its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture.”

The passage had been taken from a 2014 blog post written by Richard Bennett, a former member of Dominican Order and an apparently laicized priest, who is now active in a fundamentalist Protestant organization which says it “places particular emphasis on the evangelization and conversion of Roman Catholics.”

Bennet’s post was intended as criticism of a video about Pope Francis released by Fr. James Martin, SJ, according to the National Post.

In one section of Bennet’s blog, which aimed to both summarize and critique Martin’s synopsis of Ignatian spirituality, Bennet wrote that: “Without the Gospel and locked into subjective mysticism, both the priests and the lay people are then without biblical authority – except as mediated to them by their Roman Church. Francis having completed the Spiritual Exercises is now ‘detached,’ i.e., free from any 'disordered attachments' so that all his attachments or desires are supposedly 'ordered toward God.'”

“Therefore, it is not surprising, as Jesuit priest Martin points out, Pope Francis breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants – because he is ‘free from disordered attachments’ according to the subjectivity of his own mindset rather than worshiping and serving God according to the authority of Scripture,” Bennet added.

“Clearly, the Roman Catholic Church has entered a new phase: with the advent of its first Jesuit pope, it is obviously ruled by an individual rather than by the authority of Scripture alone or even its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture,” he concluded, suggesting that Francis’ Ignatian spirituality contradicts Catholic doctrine regarding the binding authority of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

Each passage of Rosica’s controversial 2018 paragraph was nearly identical to a parallel passage in Bennet’s blog post, though no attribution was given. Rosica' paragraph was part of an essay, “The Ignatian Qualities of the Petrine Ministry of Pope Francis,” published July 31, 2018 at Salt+Light Media’s website. The essay has since been removed from the site.

Rosica’s essay was met with immediate criticism by some theologians, who said that the priest incorrectly characterized the pope’s spirituality in a manner contrary to Catholic doctrine regarding the binding authority of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.

Those critics, Rosica tweeted in response, should read the full text “then go to confession.”

Rosica was first reported by Life Site News Feb. 15 to have plagiarized sections of text in lectures and op-eds from a variety of writers, among them priests, theologians, journalists, and at least two cardinals.

Subsequent reports found pervasive plagiarism in academic articles, essays, speeches, and op-eds by Rosica, dating back more than a decade. Rosica was reported in March to have misrepresented his academic credentials, claiming falsely in his official biography to have earned an advanced degree from École Biblique et Archéologique Française de Jérusalem.

“I realize that I was not prudent nor vigilant with several of the texts that have surfaced and I will be very vigilant with future texts and compositions,” Rosica told The Catholic Register Feb. 18.

“I take full responsibility for my lack of oversight and do not place the blame on anyone else but myself.”

Rosica told the National Post Feb. 22 that “What I’ve done is wrong, and I am sorry about that. I don’t know how else to say it.”

Rosica also told the National Post his plagiarism was inadvertent and not malicious. He explained that “it could have been cut and paste,” apparently meaning that he had mistakenly included passages of text written by others in his texts without remembering to attribute them.

The priest added that he would “apologize that this came to light, and it’s wrong, and it’s not going to happen again.”

On March 14, the Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation announced that Rosica would take a “sabbatical of several months for rest and renewal.”

Salt and Light’s Board of Directors said it had “accepted the apology and deep regret of Chief Executive Officer, Fr. Thomas Rosica, for instances of plagiarism where passages and texts were not properly attributed. Fr. Rosica understands the gravity of his actions, accepts full responsibility for them and has pledged to the Board that this will not occur again.”

L.A. archdiocese pays abuse victim of layman $8 million

Los Angeles, Calif., Apr 17, 2019 / 05:47 pm (CNA).- The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has agreed to pay $8 million to a female teenager who was sexually abused and abducted by a teacher at her high school in 2016.

The victim attended San Gabriel Mission High School, an all-girls school in San Gabriel, Calif., about 10 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The then-15-year-old student was abused over numerous months by Juan Ivan Barajas, her volleyball coach and health teacher.

“The Archdiocese recognizes that there was serious harm done to the life of the victim-survivor,” the archdiocese stated. “We hope that the settlement will allow her to heal and move forward with her education and lifetime goals. The Archdiocese apologizes for the impact that this caused in her life.”

The plaintiff’s main attorney, David Ring, said April 16 that the amount is the largest the archdiocese has paid a single victim.

According to the New York Times, Barajas, 39, had sent her sexually explicit messages and images through his phone. He had abused her in several locations on school grounds beginning in April 2016.

After Barajas' wife found out about the abuse, he kidnapped the teenager in July, and took her to Las Vegas. The police found the pair living in his car in Henderson, Nev., and Barajas was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty.

About a year before the sexual misconduct took place, several reports were issued in 2015 about Barajas’ suspicious behavior around students. Parents and staff both expressed their objections to officials at the school and archdiocese.

According to the New York Times, Monsignor Sal Pilato, the archdiocese’s superintendent of high schools, had received concerns from two volleyball coaches and a parent. These individuals were worried about his interactions with the students, including time spent alone in his office.

An anonymous letter was also issued to the superintendent, stating that “he takes the ones he like to the office,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

“The warning signs here were crystal clear,” Ring told the Los Angeles Times. “The complaints about Barajas were unambiguous, and yet nothing was done.”

Adrian Marquez Alarcon, spokeswomen for the archdiocese, said the accusations had been investigated but that no evidence of sexual abuse was found. She said the former teacher had received a warning for time spent alone with a minor.

“He was counseled according to archdiocesan policies,” she said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Alarcon said the teen and her family plan to meet with Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, and apologized on behalf of the archdiocese.

In 2007, the archdiocese reached a $660 million abuse settlement with more than 500 alleged victims of clerical abuse. And in 2013 it paid nearly $10 million to settle a case brought by four alleged sex abuse victims of Michael Baker, who was formerly a priest of the archdiocese.

In a Jan. 22, 2013 statement regarding abuse documents, the archdiocese said that “few institutions have done as much as the Los Angeles Archdiocese to promptly report abuse allegations to civil authorities, to screen all those who supervise children, and to train adults and children in the latest abuse prevention procedures … We are justifiably proud of our record of child protection in the 21st century, and we remain vigilant against all that would harm our children and young people.”