Keep your eyes open!...


September 22, 2017  

(2Ti 4:3-4) For there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables.

FR JOSEPH ESPER REVIEW: Preparing Ourselves for the Coming Persecution

ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT: Sex, sanity, and beliefs that ‘live loudly’ within us

EXCERPT CATHOLIC HERALD: Faithful Christians are the new Western dissidents

American Evangelical Protestants make up the nation’s largest, if loosely connected, religious group; a group that has often made its views felt in the public square on disputed moral issues. On August 29, a group of prominent Evangelical scholars and pastors – including respected public voices like Russell Moore – issued the Nashville Statement, a public text dealing mainly with issues related to sexuality. It’s worth reading in the original, rather than reading about it. Nothing in the document is shocking or belligerent. On the contrary: in its preamble and 14 articles, the text simply reaffirms historic biblical beliefs about marriage, chastity and the nature of human sexuality. Critics might question its timing or structure or wording or things it omitted. Some Evangelicals have done so. In a normal time, though, the statement would be a non-story.

But we don’t live in a normal time. We live in the midst of a culture war. A methodical effort is now playing out in the American mass media to recast biblical truths as a form of “hate”, to reshape public opinion away from those biblical truths, and to silence anyone who stays faithful to Christian teaching on matters of sexual behaviour, sexual identity, family and marriage. The message is simple: conform to the new herd dogmas or enjoy the consequences. Which explains the river of elite contempt that was quickly poured out on the Nashville Statement.

Happily, three days after the statement, Cardinal Robert Sarah approached some of the same issues from a Catholic perspective in the Wall Street Journal. Sarah stressed that “to love someone as Christ loves us means to love that person in the truth.” Sexuality is a gift from God with beauty and purpose. Within marriage, sexual intimacy is a source of unity, joy and new life. At the same time, Scripture is clear about the destructive nature of promiscuity in any form. The call to chastity applies to all persons, in all circumstances, whatever their state of life or sexual inclinations.

Sarah especially noted that “In her teaching about homosexuality, the Church guides her followers by distinguishing their identities from their attractions and actions.” Persons deserve respect and understanding as children of God. But “same-sex relations [are] gravely sinful and harmful to the well-being of those who partake in them. People who identify as members of the LGBT community are owed this truth in charity, especially from clergy who speak on behalf of the Church.” In other words, we need to speak the truth with love. Truth without love becomes a weapon. But no real love, no authentic mercy, can exist divorced from speaking the truth.

CRISIS MAGAZINE COMMENTARY: The Nashville Statement and Why It Matters to Catholics

: In rare WSJ op-ed, Cardinal Sarah says Fr. Martin's LGBT outreach falls short

PRRI SURVEY: America’s Changing Religious Identity

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 15- "On incorruptible purity and chastity"

36. Purity is the fellowship with and likeness to God, so far as is possible for men.

September 20, 2017

(Rev 11:19) And the temple of God was opened in heaven: and the ark of his testament was seen in his temple. And there were lightnings and voices and an earthquake and great hail.

BLOG: Our Lady of Revelation and the Newly Published Diaries of Bruno Cornacchiola

MARK MALLETT: Fatima and the Great Shaking

A MOMENT WITH MARY: La Salette is a message of hope

"The wide diffusion of the event of La Salette (Marian apparition in a village of the French Alps in 1846) bears convincing attestation that the message of Mary is not contained solely within the suffering expressed by her tears. The Virgin called for spiritual composure, penance, perseverance in prayer, and especially fidelity in the observance of Sunday. Through the witness of the two children, Melanie and Maximin, the young seers, Mary asked that her message be made known to all her people.

Indeed, the children’s voices were heard. Pilgrims came. There were many conversions. Mary appeared in a light reminiscent of the splendor of a humanity transformed by the Resurrection of Christ. La Salette is a message of hope... sustained by the intercession of her who is the Mother of all peoples. Our alienations are not irreparable. The night of sin surrenders to the light of divine mercy. Human suffering properly accepted can contribute to purification and salvation. The arm of the Son of Mary will not weigh upon, nor condemn, the people who walk humbly in the ways of the Lord. Christ will take the outstretched hand into his own, and lead to new life the sinner reconciled by the grace of the Cross."

Saint John Paul II Letter to Bishop Louis Dufaux, Bishop of Grenoble, May 6, 1996, for the 150th anniversary of the Apparition of Our Lady at La Salette.

TED FLYNN: When Our Lady Speaks…

There are a few things in Catholic circles and well beyond as controversial as the Blessed Mother’s apparitions in world history. C.S Lewis once remarked that he left the Blessed Mother out of Mere Christianity because she was such a divisive subject. What are people afraid of if they listen to her or openly talk about her? What do they have to lose? Why are they hostile or ambivalent? Is she to be admired, but nothing more?

There are approved apparitions in Catholic history and those unapproved. To be cautious or judicious of those unapproved is healthy and wise. Time will always weed out those that are bogus. Immediately being skeptical implies negativity often before knowing the facts. There are ongoing apparitions like Medjugorje where the Blessed Mother has been appearing since June of 1981 (the Vatican has recently given approval of the first seven apparitions) in Bosnia-Hercegovina, and those approved like Fatima by the Magisterium of the Church. Then there are others like Rwanda, Our Lady of All Nations in Amsterdam, Our Lady of America, and many others approved by the local Bishop. In the authentic messages there is always a plea to an amendment of life that is not contrary to the deposit of faith in any way. So why are some people skittish about speaking about Our Lady’s messages?

Many Catholics are highly guarded or worse when it comes to these phenomena. Sometimes persons will often become pegged as a bit of a lunatic or a bit odd as fast as one gives an opinion of acceptance of what may be taking place. Minimally, people will just pay lip service, but if Our Lady speaks there is often a price to pay for social acceptance. To those who express acceptance these people are often kept at a healthy distance as they and their friends may become tainted through association. At authentic apparitions, it is a timeless message often repeated: the Rosary as a daily exercise, the Mass being the center of one’s life, Scripture reading, regular confession, adhering to the sacraments, and the timeless message of the Gospel, “Do whatever He tells you.” I can’t find a radical message in this contrary to the gospel. Yet, woe and behold if one brings these issues up in many circles, with the most virulent coming from those sects more traditional. These people will often venerate Our Lady on her feast days, but as long as she doesn’t speak, things are fine and it is business as usual. They are often unaware that Our Lady has been appointed by the Trinity to a very special role in these times. She is bringing many people back to her son, Jesus Christ. As long as the conversation publicly is political or on “safe” subjects, a person will be accepted.

Why is there often a negativity and abhorrence to what the Queen of heaven and earth is saying when the message is only meant to help humanity? What mother would not speak up if she saw her children in danger? We will name just a few apparition sites where what was foretold happened as it was written. Dozens more could easily be mentioned.

At Fatima in 1917 (approved), the Blessed Mother appeared to three young illiterate children and gave the most prescient message of the 20th Century. She said, if mankind did not amend their lives, then “Russia would spread her errors throughout the world,” and if mankind complied there would be peace in the world. Most know about the Russian communist connection, but few know that one of those errors was the Russian promotion of abortion globally starting in 1921. There were specific requests made, but there was a lack of compliance by church leaders to consecrate Russia by name. The results of not complying are felt in every living room of the world to this day. Fatima was the cornerstone of apparitions for the 20th Century. The Blessed Mother promised peace if her requests were made. 70,000 people witnessed the Miracle of Sun on October 13, 1917, yet people still doubted the authenticity of the messages immediately after the event. It was asked at Fatima “Why was the Blessed Mother here?” Her response was “So people would believe.” The question must be asked, “Do we have peace in the world?” Mankind had everything to gain and nothing to lose by complying with her requests.

In Rwanda (approved) the Blessed Mother appeared to young children in April of 1981, just two months before the apparitions of Medjugorje. Her message was again the same to a new group of people now in Africa versus those in Europe or elsewhere. Our Lady requested that they live the sacraments, repent, go to confession and attend Mass. Again, nothing too radical here that should cause a Catholic concern. She asked for fidelity to her Son. She said, “Rwanda would become a river of blood” unless the people heeded her messages. In 1994, approximately 800,000 Rwandans were hacked to death with approximately two million refugees in about 100 days. It was payback for the same type of occurrence that happened in the 1950’s where millions of Rwandans were driven into the jungle of the Congo by another tribe. Neighbors who lived side by side for two generations hacked each other to death over previous grievances and disputes. After the events, many Rwandans said, “If only we had listened.” Time and Newsweek magazine covers showed the same photo of a river of blood with dead corpses floating downstream. There is a price to pay for not listening.

At Akita, Japan, 1973, (approved), the Blessed Mother said the future church would be “Cardinal opposing cardinal, bishop against bishop, priest against priest….” If you are watching the news, the dissent of the Dubia is just the tip of the iceberg on the dissent in the Church. Many clergy in the rank and file are angry, and largely silent due to potential pushback from their bishop if they go public with their views as they watch the disintegration of doctrine.

Many more apparitions can be discussed here that are authentic with the same points being made, but the larger issue is why are there such obstructionists with a negative attitude coming from those who say they pledge fidelity to the Church?

We have been told by the Blessed Mother if the statue of Our Lady of America is processed into the Shrine of the Immaculate in Washington, D.C by the U.S. Bishops, America would be restored to purity. So why would it not be done? With the destruction and free fall of the U.S. political system well advanced in conjunction with the moral obliteration of the family, what do we have to lose to process the statue as she asked? So the question is, why do people doubt her words, thus her promises? We have seen in hindsight the destruction and confusion for a century of not abiding by the request made at Fatima and the Consecration of Russia? There are powerful evil forces at work here. Let us pray that Our Lady’s plan for peace is fulfilled.

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 15- "On incorruptible purity and chastity"

34. As long as sorrow and despair are present, we do not so easily abandon ourselves to further sin. But when sorrow and despair are quenched, the tyrant speaks to us again of God's mercy.

September 18, 2017

(Rom 12:9-12) Let love be without dissimulation. Hating that which is evil, cleaving to that which is good, Loving one another with the charity of brotherhood: with honour preventing one another. In carefulness not slothful. In spirit fervent. Serving the Lord. Rejoicing in hope. Patient in tribulation. Instant in prayer.

CARDINAL CAFFARA: The Lord will not abandon His Church. There were twelve apostles, so the Lord will start again with a few. Imagine the suffering of Saint Athanasius, who was left alone to defend the truth for the love of Christ, of the Church and of men. We must have faith, hope, and fortitude.

CNA: How the US needs to stick up for the Middle East's Christians

LIFEZETTE: What the Mainstream Media Won’t Tell You About Syria’s Christians by Fr. Benedict Kiely
Accurate reporting about what is really happening in Syria is hard to come by — the “fake news” phenomenon could almost have been invented for the way much of the Western media reports conflict in the Middle East.

At an event in the British parliament last November, the Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Damascus told assembled parliamentarians they should not believe most media reports about the war in his country. He documented how in the previous week the media had not even mentioned the death of several children in Western Aleppo, as that news did not fit the narrative of the “rebels” as freedom fighters — not child killers.

A London-based expert on Middle Eastern politics was told by a war correspondent — someone who worked for an international news agency and who had just returned from Syria — that all talk of "moderate" rebels was nonsense. There were only "Islamist extremists" now, he said. However, he had never said that in any of his reports, as he couldn't. Once again, it did not fit the narrative.

On one of my visits to Iraq to assist the persecuted Christians driven from their homes by ISIS, my translator was a young Syrian who had ended up — as many Syrians did — in the refugee camps of Erbil. He was an Assyrian Christian, one of the oldest Christian groups in the Middle East, and actually came from the city of Raqqa, the headquarters of the so-called Caliphate of the Islamic State. Rabby spoke perfect English, albeit with a strong American accent; he also spoke Arabic and Aramaic, the ancient language spoken by Christ.

I asked him how a 21-year-old from Raqqa spoke such good English — "watching six seasons of Game of Thrones," was his answer. He told me that when the uprising against the Assad regime had begun in Syria he, along with many of his friends, had been in the streets protesting with the others. Now, he said, he supported Assad without question.

What had changed? I asked him. The answer was simple: He had seen what the alternative was — and it was far worse.

That little story illustrates how the easy and facile narrative — the painting of a "good and evil" scenario, where sides can be picked from the comfort of media control rooms or academic lunches — is just that. It's easy and facile. The truth is far more complicated. The reality is that there are no good guys and plenty of very bad guys, as an Iraqi priest said to me once, speaking of living under Saddam and then the turmoil of present-day Iraq. "There is bad and there is worse. Which would you prefer to live under?"

Realpolitik is usually uncomfortable. It is the situation as it is and not as we might like it to be. In Syria, after hundreds of thousands of deaths, massive destruction, and the displacement of nearly half the Syrian population, President Assad and his military apparatus have "won," according to Robert Ford, the former US Ambassador to Syria.

Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. special envoy to Syria, declared recently that rebel forces must accept that "If they were planning to win the war, facts are proving this is not the case." Both the U.S. and Great Britain have withdrawn financial aid and support from "rebel" groups, while Jordan is considering reopening the border with Syria. Even Saudi Arabia, the most virulent enemy of the Syrian regime, is reported to have accepted that Assad will not be removed.

Given these facts, popular or not, is it not time to ease the suffering of the ordinary Syrian people? Is it not time to heed the call made in August 2016 of the Christian leaders of Syria for sanctions against the people to be lifted? The three Patriarchs of Damascus — Syrian Orthodox, Melkite Catholic, and Greek Orthodox — appealed to the international community to lift the sanctions, which they said had "deepened the suffering of the Syrian people."

Just this January, speaking on Vatican radio, the Syrian Catholic Patriarch, Ignatius Younan, said "those sanctions surely hurt the population, not those who are in the government," and he urged Western governments to "stop financing and arming the rebels."

For that to happen, the world must listen to what the Syrian Christian leaders are saying: Sanctions against the Syrian people must end now.
Most political experts agree one of the purposes of sanctions against a government is to encourage people to rise up and overthrow that government. Clearly in Syria that has failed. Now it is only the ordinary Syrians who are suffering because of those sanctions.

This is unlike Iraq, where reports of Christians by the thousands returning to destroyed towns liberated from ISIS (but completely unprotected) are being greatly exaggerated. In Syria, the reality on the ground is that, where the government has recovered territory, the Christians are indeed returning, rebuilding, and trying to begin again.

This is the solution to the refugee crisis — it's what most governments say they want. But this rebuilding cannot succeed without international support, job creation and investment. For that to happen, the world must listen to what the Syrian Christian leaders are saying: Sanctions against the Syrian people must end now.


Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 15- "On incorruptible purity and chastity"

26. Offer to the Lord the weakness of your nature, fully acknowledging your own powerlessness, and imperceptibly you will receive the gift of chastity

September 14, 2017

(Mat 16:18-19) And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.

CATHOLIC CULTURE: New papal document could re-ignite debate on liturgical translations

Pope Francis has amended the Code of Canon Law to give national bishops’ conferences the primary role in approving the translations of liturgical texts.

The motu proprio Magnum Principium, released on September 8, is consistent with the Pope’s push for decentralization of Church authority. By amending #838 of the Code of Canon Law, he removes the task for translation from the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship, giving the responsibility instead to individual episcopal conferences.

On paper, Magnum Principium involves only a minor shift in jurisdiction. But in practice the Pope’s move is likely to have considerable impact, possibly re-igniting the battles over translations that were fought with particular vigor in the English-speaking world in the 1990s.

The papal document was released shortly after Pope Francis declared that the liturgical reforms of Vatican II are “irreversible.” Although the Pope has not shown a great interest in discussion of the liturgy, the new motu proprio has been widely interpreted as a reversal of a trend toward ending liturgical experimentation: a trend that began under Pope John Paul II and was enthusiastically supported by Pope Benedict XVI.

In 2001, the Vatican released Liturgiam Authenticam, a document designed to provide guidelines for liturgical translations. That document—which called upon translators to adhere as closely as possible to the language of original Latin texts—remains in effect. However, the new papal document is already being hailed by critics of Liturgiam Authenticam as grounds for a reconsideration of the fundamental principles of translation, and for a fresh effort to provide new English-language translations for the liturgy.

Even under the terms of the motu proprio, the Vatican retains the authority to recognize new translations. However, national episcopal conferences are now charged with the responsibility to “faithfully prepare visions of the liturgical books in vernacular languages, suitably accommodated within defined limits, and to approve and publish the liturgical books for the regions for which they are responsible after the confirmation of the Apostolic See.”

Pope Francis explains that the existing Vatican documents on liturgical translation “were and remain at the level of general guidelines and, as far as possible, must be followed by liturgical commissions as the most suitable instruments…” He writes that the liturgical texts in vernacular languages should approximate the Latin originals “for their elegance of style and the profundity of their conceptions with the aim of nourishing the faith.”

In an explanatory note accompanying the papal document, Archbishop Arthur Roche, the secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, notes that the Vatican will continue to review and evaluated adaptations of liturgical rites. But for translations, he explained, his dicastery will “confirm” the decisions of the local bishops’ conferences. “Obviously,” the archbishop writes, “this presupposes a positive evaluation of the fidelity and congruence of the texts produced in respect to the typical editions on which the unity of the rite is founded, and, above all, taking account of the texts of greatest importance, in particular the sacramental formulae, the Eucharistic Prayers, the prayers of ordination, the Order of Mass and so on.”

It is noteworthy that Pope Francis called upon Archbishop Roche to provide the explanatory note, rather than giving that task to Cardinal Robert Sarah, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship. Cardinal Sarah, who has been an strong defender of traditional approaches to the liturgy, may have been bypassed in the preparation of the new document.

TEXT: Motu Proprio “Magnum Principium”


In Conversation on the Motu Proprio: Bishop Coyne
Concerns Over the Pope's Decree on Liturgical Translations

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 15- "On incorruptible purity and chastity"

25. He who has resolved to contend with his flesh and conquer it himself struggles in vain. For unless the Lord destroys the house of the flesh and builds the house of the soul, the person who wants to destroy it watches and fasts in vain.

September 7, 2017  

(Mat 19:14) But Jesus said to them: Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for the kingdom of heaven is for such.

BROKEN BRANCHES NEWSLETTER: Issue 118 for August/September 2017

OPINION: A Day to Remember the Victims of Abortion by Father Frank Pavone

The release of a movie with its corresponding book, as well as an additional book, detailing the crimes of Kermit Gosnell could not be more timely. As renewed attention is being given to the case of the Philadelphia abortionist who was sentenced to life in prison, people are preparing for memorial services across the nation at the gravesites of babies killed by abortion.

Gosnell was convicted of the first-degree murder of three infants born alive during botched abortions and the involuntary manslaughter of a mother on whom he performed an abortion. The infants, who were well past 20 weeks gestation, were murdered by having their spines cut with scissors shortly after delivery.

Those who came to be aware of Gosnell's crimes were appropriately horrified. But the horror raises the question of why it is any less horrifying to decapitate and dismember a baby of the same age while still in the womb.

Research indicating that these children are capable of feeling pain is very compelling. And there's plenty of it. Once people learn that mid-trimester abortions exist, are not rare, and are carried out by dismemberment, they reject it. In fact, most people want tighter restrictions on abortion beyond the first trimester. Perhaps the growing awareness that children are being torn limb from limb and can feel the pain of it is what is motivating states to enact laws that protect pain-capable babies in the womb who are 20 weeks and beyond.

Pennsylvania, which is not far behind in enacting such a law, is also one of many states across the nation that will be participating in the fifth annual National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children on Saturday, Sept. 9. Perhaps the most prominent service will take place at the gravesite of some of the babies who were killed by Gosnell.

Many will gather to remind the community that the victims of abortion are not just numbers — they're our brothers and sisters.

The vision behind the annual memorial which I helped to found five years ago is to take abortion out of the realm of abstract debate and bring it into the concrete humanity we experience each day. It is far too easy to slip into the arena of ideas when we are talking about abortion. Visiting a gravesite where real human beings are buried reinforces that we are talking about the life and death of real people.

Those who participate do so out of a desire to make reparation for the lack of reverence with which these victims have been treated. Victims are either thrown away as trash, sold for their body parts, or flushed away.

In fact, after the raid of Gosnell's office and his conviction, the medical examiner's office denied the requests of Priests for Life and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to release bodies for proper burial. Priests for Life meanwhile held a memorial service and named those babies. It wasn't until after the covert cremation and burial in unmarked graves that Priests for Life became aware of their location. Since then, an annual memorial has been held there, as well as in other locations nationwide to remember unborn children everywhere who have been killed by abortion.

The proper and necessary response to abortion is a broken heart. And hence we come together to grieve. Some participants have had abortions or have helped others to do so. They come with regret, sorrow, and a longing for healing. The National Day of Remembrance brings people along the path of that healing and invites those who don't know about it yet. It isn't just mothers and fathers who come, but those who, in some way, had something to do with a decision that cost a child his or her life.

This is why our ministries Silent No More and Rachel's Vineyard work so diligently towards this goal. We are mindful of the shockwaves caused by abortion, affecting not just moms and dads, but grandparents, siblings, uncles, aunts, friends, and the abortionists and their staff.

The Lord said in the Sermon on the Mount "Blessed are they who mourn." God's heart is broken and ours have to be broken, too. Many pro-life activists start out in this ministry because they feel utter loss and broken- hearted over these children.

It is when our hearts are broken that they open wide enough for grace to enter in and move us to action. It is when we are broken-hearted that we advocate for those for whom our hearts are broken. We will continue this tradition of honoring the victims of abortion and mourning at their graves until the day the law recognizes their dignity and we no longer have to rescue the tiny bodies from trash bins or landfills.

COMMENTARY: Abortion Supporters Defend Killing Babies For Their Disabilities


Abortion Clinic Offers Free Abortions to Victims of Hurricane Harvey
Kentucky Trial Could Make State First in U.S. with No Abortion Clinic
Bishop Tobin: Ending DACA shatters lives. So does abortion

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 15- "On incorruptible purity and chastity"

24. Do not expect to overthrow the demon of fornication with refutations and pleadings. For with nature on his side, he has the best of the argument.

September 5, 2017

(Mat 5:9) Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

POPE FRANCIS: “'Let us take the first step' is the theme of this Journey. It reminds us that a first step is always required for any activity or project. It also urges us to be the first to love, in order to build bridges and create solidarity. Taking the first step encourages us to reach out to our neighbor, to extend a helping-hand, and to offer a sign of peace. Peace is what Colombia has sought after for a long time, and she is working to achieve it: A stable and lasting peace, so that we see and treat each other as brothers and not as enemies. Peace reminds us that we are all children of the same Father, who loves and consoles us".

VATICAN RADIO: Pope visits Colombia 'to support peace and promote reconciliation'


ACN NEWS: Pope to visit Colombia at crucial moment in country’s history

The Nuncio in Colombia described the Pope’s Sept. 6-10, 2017 trip to Colombia as “the visit of a friend.” That means, explained Archbishop Ettore Balestrero, that the Pope, “like all friends of the Colombians, will ask some searching questions: What are you doing with your life? Are you really happy? What is the meaning of what you do?” The archbishop contrasted Pope Francis’ visit with that of Paul VI in 1968, which was “like the visit of a teacher from afar,” and with the journey of St. John Paul II in 1987, which was “like the visit of a father.” Pope Francis, he continued, will come as a friend—“a friend who is, of course, also a father and a teacher, but who is first and foremost a friend. Since he is from Latin America himself, he knows Colombia. He understands the Colombian way.” The towns Francis will visit include not only the internationally famous ones—Bogotá, Medellín and Cartagena – but also Villavicencio on the eastern plain. No Pope has ever been there. That region which was the scene of many armed conflicts between leftist FARC guerrillas and paramilitary units on the right.

Referring to the peace process currently underway in the country—with the goal of fully disarming FARC and reintegrating its members in the larger society—the archbishop stressed that the upcoming papal visit marks a historically crucial time: “Although a number of legal and social issues still have to be worked out, Colombia is in the process of closing a chapter of its history “At the same time, a new chapter is beginning in which everything is open. Colombians will themselves be the authors of this new chapter. They will shape it with the decisions they make. Colombia can adopt the positive aspects of Western culture and modern societies. But it can also fall prey to the contradictions and weaknesses that characterize these societies.

The archbishop said that the Holy Father is coming as a “pilgrim of faith, hope and reconciliation, visiting a country which is passing through a transitional stage in many respects, not only on account of the peace process.” Citizens’ urgent task, he added, is “to rebuild a reconciled country in which Colombians love and respect one another, and where they show respect for God.

Describing Colombians as “very warm, enterprising and diligent,” the archbishop nonetheless talked about what he called a major social rift in Colombia. He said: “There are people starving, while others throw away food.” Specifically, he mentioned the contrast between highly developed cities—such as Bogotá, Medellín, Cali and Barranquilla—and other regions in the country that are desperately poor “The Holy Father,” said the archbishop, “is the father of the rich and the poor. But he is coming here to remind us that Colombia needs the contribution of all. In the language he uses and in what he proclaims, the Pope plays special emphasis on those who suffer. We cannot live under the same heaven and fail to recognize that other reality as through it didn’t exist.”

Catholic World News reports that “Colombia, a nation of 48.2 million, is 93.9% Catholic; 7,236 diocesan priests and 2,324 religious priests minister to the faithful in 4,397 parishes, with 2,995 minor seminarians and 3,416 major seminarians in formation. In addition, the Church in Colombia has 593 permanent deacons, 1,058 non-ordained male religious, 13,874 religious sisters, and 4,167 Catholic schools.”

MORE: Programme of Pope Francis' Apostolic Journey to Colombia

NEWS REPORT: Columbia to Sign Cease-Fire With Last Guerrilla Group

Ladder of Divine Ascent excerpt: Step 15- "On incorruptible purity and chastity"

23. He who falls is to be pitied. But still more to be pitied is he who causes another to fall, because he bears the burden of the falls of both, and further, the burden of pleasure tasted by the other.
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