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Catholic News

IMAGE: CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, ReutersBy Junno Arocho EstevesPANAMA CITY (CNS) -- A church wounded by sin can paralyze, confuse and tire the hearts of Catholic clergy and laypeople, causing them to doubt their mission in the modern world, Pope Francis said.Celebrating Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Santa Maria La Antigua Jan. 26 with priests, consecrated men and women and members of lay movements, the pope warned that the burdens and troubles in the church can lead to a "weariness of hope" that "calls into question the energy, resources and viability of our mission in this changing and challenging world.""The weariness of hope comes from seeing a church wounded by sin, which so often failed to hear all those cries that echoed the cry of the Master: 'My God, why have you forsaken me?'" he said.Thousands of pilgrims and Panamanians waited outside -- some camped outside since 4 a.m. -- cheering loudly as the bells of the cathedral hailed Pope Fra...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

PANAMA CITY (CNS) -- A church wounded by sin can paralyze, confuse and tire the hearts of Catholic clergy and laypeople, causing them to doubt their mission in the modern world, Pope Francis said.

Celebrating Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Santa Maria La Antigua Jan. 26 with priests, consecrated men and women and members of lay movements, the pope warned that the burdens and troubles in the church can lead to a "weariness of hope" that "calls into question the energy, resources and viability of our mission in this changing and challenging world."

"The weariness of hope comes from seeing a church wounded by sin, which so often failed to hear all those cries that echoed the cry of the Master: 'My God, why have you forsaken me?'" he said.

Thousands of pilgrims and Panamanians waited outside -- some camped outside since 4 a.m. -- cheering loudly as the bells of the cathedral hailed Pope Francis' arrival.

Upon entering the 220-year-old church, the pope was greeted with applause by those present, including President Juan Carlos Varela of Panama and his wife, Lorena Castillo.

The pope then spent several minutes praying before a statue of Santa Maria La Antigua, patroness of Panama. The original image, which depicts Mary holding baby Jesus in her arms and carrying a rose, was first brought into the country by Spanish conquistadors in 1510.

During the Mass, Pope Francis consecrated the altar of the newly renovated cathedral. Removing his chasuble and rolling up his left sleeve, he poured chrism oil and anointed the altar.

According to World Youth Day officials, the Cathedral Basilica of Santa Maria La Antigua is the first cathedral in the Americas to have an altar consecrated by a pope.

In his homily, the pope reflected on the reading from St. John's Gospel in which Christ, weary from a journey, asks a Samaritan woman for a drink of water.

While many in the church seek to announce the Good News as Jesus did, he said, "we do not always know how to contemplate and accompany his weariness; it seems this is not something proper to God."

"The Lord knew what it was to be tired, and in his weariness so many struggles of our nations and peoples, our communities and all who are weary and heavily burdened can find a place," the pope said.

While priests, laity and consecrated men and women can experience physical weariness due to long work hours or "toxic working conditions and relationships," there is also another "subtle weariness" that "seems to have found a place in our communities."

This weariness of hope, he added, can lead to a "gray pragmatism" that pierces the heart of the church, making it seem that while "everything apparently goes on as usual, in reality, faith is crumbling and failing."

"Disappointed by a reality that we do not understand or that we think has no room for our message, we can open the door to one of the worst heresies possible in our time," the pope warned.

It is "the notion that the Lord and our communities have nothing to say or contribute in the new world now being born," he said. "What once arose to be the salt and light for the world ends up stale and worn."

Christians need to quench their parched hope by returning to the "deep well of our first love, when Jesus passed our way, gazed at us with mercy and asked us to follow him."

A wearied hope can be healed, he said, when people are not afraid to let their heart "return to the place of its first love and to find, in the peripheries and challenges before us today, the same song, the same gaze that inspired the song and the gaze of those who have gone before us."

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Chaz MuthBy Rhina GuidosPANAMA CITY (CNS) -- To open up a conversation about what Mary's answer to God can teach the young, Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich reached back into the life of his grandmother, an immigrant who carried a profound pain from a father who sent her away to another country with the parting words: "You're no good to me."Life can produce moments of great pain, moments that can paralyze us with fear, Cardinal Cupich told English-speaking World Youth Day pilgrims Jan. 25 during a catechetical session at Our Mother of Perpetual Help Parish in Panama City.During World Youth Day, cardinals, bishops and others participate in sessions that allow for teaching and sharing and give pilgrims a change to ask questions. Though the events can take many forms, the young pilgrims present for the cardinal's session sat in the room of the small church and listened intently in the pews to hear his family story, which was mixed in with the account of Mary...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Chaz Muth

By Rhina Guidos

PANAMA CITY (CNS) -- To open up a conversation about what Mary's answer to God can teach the young, Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich reached back into the life of his grandmother, an immigrant who carried a profound pain from a father who sent her away to another country with the parting words: "You're no good to me."

Life can produce moments of great pain, moments that can paralyze us with fear, Cardinal Cupich told English-speaking World Youth Day pilgrims Jan. 25 during a catechetical session at Our Mother of Perpetual Help Parish in Panama City.

During World Youth Day, cardinals, bishops and others participate in sessions that allow for teaching and sharing and give pilgrims a change to ask questions. Though the events can take many forms, the young pilgrims present for the cardinal's session sat in the room of the small church and listened intently in the pews to hear his family story, which was mixed in with the account of Mary's acceptance. Mary, as an unmarried girl, probably faced great fear when presented with the possibility of being the mother of Jesus and yet she accepted, Cardinal Cupich said.

But fear and pain cannot stop people if they trust in a God who promises to look out for them, he said. For his grandmother, being sent away in a painful manner did not stop her from creating a life, one that led to children and even grandchildren -- including one who became a U.S. cardinal.

Sometimes, one of the pilgrims told the cardinal, there are people who find it hard to believe in God's love; what happens then?

"Make sure you don't give up on God's grace," Cardinal Cupich responded, adding that whether it's pain, or whether it's a great honor, such as becoming the mother of God, a person has to get outside of him or herself and focus on a life of serving others.

Mary, for example, "didn't stay home and post on Facebook 'Hey, I'm the mother of God,'" he said to great laughter. Looking at the Gospel, one of the first things she did was to head out to help her cousin Elizabeth.

"You'll be happier if you serve others," the cardinal said.

Whether it's fear or surprise, people must believe that God is putting each person in a position he wants, the cardinal said. That means a position to help others, he added.

"The Lord calls you to join him and accompany other people," the cardinal said.

Vennera Adedjeh-Mensah of Ghana said she appreciated that the cardinal did not approach the group, which filled the church, with a lecture.

"He brought it to our times and we were able to relate to it," she said.

Sometimes the world offers a view that material goods, or a life that says the "one with the most toys wins," is what will bring people happiness, but it does the opposite, Cardinal Cupich told them. Some speak of what's called the "prosperity" gospel; "that's very dangerous," he said.

And that's not the Gospel of Jesus, he said.

But it's one that can easily call to today's young, said Adedjeh-Mensah.

"There are so many voices nowadays calling for you attention," she said. "But you have to find balance."

Cardinal Cupich told the young people to keep the model of Mary firmly in mind.

"God is calling you to a life of happiness serving others," he said.

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Carlos Jasso, ReutersBy Junno Arocho EstevesPANAMA CITY (CNS) -- The path walked by Jesus to his passion and death on the cross is the same path of indifference and marginalization taken by those who suffer in the world today, Pope Francis said.Addressing young men and women participating in the Way of the Cross at World Youth Day in Panama Jan. 25, the pope said the road to Calvary is "a way of suffering and solitude" that is "prolonged in a society that has lost the ability to weep and to be moved by suffering."Jesus "walks and suffers in all those faces hurt by the complacent and anesthetizing indifference of our society that consumes and is consumed, that ignores and is ignorant, blind to the pain of our brothers and sisters," he said.While the youthful participants expressed their joy with cheers when Pope Francis arrived, prayerful silence overcame the thousands of young people gathered as the solemn celebration began. Groups of ...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Carlos Jasso, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

PANAMA CITY (CNS) -- The path walked by Jesus to his passion and death on the cross is the same path of indifference and marginalization taken by those who suffer in the world today, Pope Francis said.

Addressing young men and women participating in the Way of the Cross at World Youth Day in Panama Jan. 25, the pope said the road to Calvary is "a way of suffering and solitude" that is "prolonged in a society that has lost the ability to weep and to be moved by suffering."

Jesus "walks and suffers in all those faces hurt by the complacent and anesthetizing indifference of our society that consumes and is consumed, that ignores and is ignorant, blind to the pain of our brothers and sisters," he said.

While the youthful participants expressed their joy with cheers when Pope Francis arrived, prayerful silence overcame the thousands of young people gathered as the solemn celebration began. Groups of pilgrims from different countries took turns carrying the World Youth Day cross throughout the stage at every station.

Each significant event of Jesus' crucifixion was linked to a current theme or issue affecting young people, particularly in Latin America.

Two young pilgrims from Guatemala read the reflection and prayer that connected the station -- Jesus denied by Peter -- to the suffering and marginalization of indigenous people.

"Our indigenous people represent Jesus in centuries-old pain that marks their lives," a young man prayed. "Denied and forgotten, they found in their Lord Jesus the image of their pain, the portrait of so many forgotten."

The reflection and prayer on Jesus being scourged and crowned with thorns was read by two pilgrims from Venezuela, where political and economic instability continues, causing countless men, women and children to flee the country as refugees.

Just like those migrants and refugees, said the male pilgrim, Christ, too, heard "the footsteps of those who yesterday and today, persecute with brutality those who have not only lost everything, but also those who have seen how borders and doors are closed."

He added that the boundaries separating countries today are "crowned with sharp thorns that threaten, despise and reject so many brothers and sisters."

The Venezuelan pilgrims prayed that the world may see the face of Christ in the migrants and refugees of the country and "care, heal and fill with hope the scourged and thorn-crowned hearts of many who have lost even their homeland."

After the Stations of the Cross, Pope Francis, who had watched from the stage, began his meditation by reflecting on the arduous path taken by Christ and the paralyzing temptation of indifference that causes many to look away or actively hurt those who suffer.

"How easy it is to fall into a culture of bullying, harassment and intimidation. It is not like that for you, Lord: On the cross, you identified yourself with all those who suffer, with all those who feel forgotten," the pope said.

With arms outstretched on the cross, Jesus wished to "embrace all those unworthy of an embrace, a caress, a blessing or, worse yet, do not even realize that they need it."

The pope then identified the ways in which Christ's Way of the Cross continues, praying for women who are "mistreated, exploited, abandoned, and stripped of their dignity" as well as children "kept from being born" and denied the right to a childhood.

He also related the suffering path taken by Christ to the suffering of those who have been exploited and abused, especially by members of the clergy.

The suffering Christ, he said, can be seen "in the anguish of young faces, our friends, who fall into the snares of unscrupulous people -- including people who claim to be serving you, Lord -- snares of exploitation, criminal activity, and abuse which feed on their lives."

Reflecting also on the suffering of indigenous people, the abandoned, the elderly and creation, which has been profoundly wounded by many, the pope encouraged the young pilgrims to look to Mary, who stood beneath the cross and accompanied the suffering of her son.

"She shared his suffering, yet was not overwhelmed by it. She was the woman of strength who uttered her 'yes,' who supports and accompanies, protects and embraces. She is the great guardian of hope," the pope said.

"Lord, teach us to stand, at the foot of the cross, at the foot of every cross," Pope Francis prayed. "Open our eyes and hearts this night, and rescue us from paralysis and uncertainty, from fear and desperation."

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul HaringBy Junno Arocho EstevesPANAMA CITY (CNS) -- Just like the Pharisees, many today shun Jesus' merciful love toward sinners and prefer to use labels that stigmatize a person's past, present and future, Pope Francis said.Speaking to young detainees at a penitential liturgy in Las Garzas de Pacora Juvenile Detention Center in Panama Jan. 25, the pope said society creates "an adjective culture" that prefers to immediately label people as good or bad rather than truly getting to know them."Gossipers are not interested (in the person). They quickly seek to put a label to get them out of the way. The adjective culture belittles the person," he said.Pope Francis traveled by helicopter to the industrial town of Pacora, 20 miles east of Panama City. Thousands of people lined the streets holding banners, balloons and flags welcoming the pope, who waved and smiled as he greeted them from his popemobile.The detainees -- wearing white World Youth Day...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

PANAMA CITY (CNS) -- Just like the Pharisees, many today shun Jesus' merciful love toward sinners and prefer to use labels that stigmatize a person's past, present and future, Pope Francis said.

Speaking to young detainees at a penitential liturgy in Las Garzas de Pacora Juvenile Detention Center in Panama Jan. 25, the pope said society creates "an adjective culture" that prefers to immediately label people as good or bad rather than truly getting to know them.

"Gossipers are not interested (in the person). They quickly seek to put a label to get them out of the way. The adjective culture belittles the person," he said.

Pope Francis traveled by helicopter to the industrial town of Pacora, 20 miles east of Panama City. Thousands of people lined the streets holding banners, balloons and flags welcoming the pope, who waved and smiled as he greeted them from his popemobile.

The detainees -- wearing white World Youth Day T-shirts - chanted "Esta es la juventud del papa" ("We are the pope's youths.") Many wore rosaries around their necks or held them in their hands.

In a message sent to journalists, the Vatican said the pope's drive around the neighborhood of Pacora was "a sign of closeness to the people who live in this periphery."

Upon his arrival, the pope listened to the experience of Luis Oscar Martinez, a young man detained at the prison. Recalling his arrest and subsequent transfer to Las Garzas, Martinez said that, despite the situation, "something told me, 'It isn't over.'"

"In that moment," Martinez recalled, "I understood that God my father was with me. And if I am talking to you right now, it is because of the grace and love of God and my beloved Christ."

Sharing his hopes and dreams of one day becoming an international chef, Martinez expressed his gratitude to Pope Francis for visiting him and his fellow inmates.

"I would like to thank you because, as a servant of the Lord Jesus, you took the time to listen to a poor person deprived of freedom like myself. There are no words to describe the freedom I feel at this moment. Thank you for that," he said.

During the penitential liturgy, the pope heard the confessions of five inmates -- four young men and a young woman -- in a small tent set up outside of the prison, the Vatican said. One of the young men was missing a leg and using crutches. He could not sit down, so the pope stood up to hear his confession.

In his homily, the pope reflected on the day's reading from the Gospel of St. Luke, which recalled the criticism by the Pharisees against Jesus because "he receives sinners and eats with them."

While the Pharisees intended to "discredit and dismiss" Christ, he explained, they instead point out Jesus' "most ordinary yet distinctive ways of relating to others."

"Jesus is not afraid to approach those who, for countless reasons, were the object of social hatred, like the publicans -- we know that tax collectors grew rich by exploiting their own people and they caused great resentment -- or like those who were called sinners because of the gravity of their faults, errors and mistakes," the pope said.

The pope added that Jesus' way of approaching and engaging others, even if it meant "putting his reputation at risk," stood in stark contrast to the Pharisees' "sterile, fruitless approach" of complaining and "blocking any kind of change, conversion and inclusion."

This attitude, he continued, spoils everything, because it creates "an invisible wall that makes people think that, if we marginalize, separate and isolate others, all our problems will magically be solved."

"When a society or community allows this," he added, "and does nothing more than complain and backbite, it enters into a vicious circle of division, blame and condemnation."

On the other hand, the pope continued, the Gospel characterizes the merciful approach of God who celebrates "when he sees his children returning home."

This love "has no time for complaining" and "initiates a process capable of providing ways and means for integration and transformation, healing and forgiveness: a path of salvation," he said.

Jesus, he said, breaks the mentality "that separates, excludes, isolates and falsely separates 'the good and the bad,'" not with slogans or sentimentality but by "creating relationships capable of enabling new processes; investing in and celebrating every possible step forward."

Through this approach, Christ also breaks the insidious whispers that haunt those who repent from their sin, that continue to tell them "You can't do it," which instills in them fear that they will never change, Pope Francis said.

"Friends, each of us is much more than our labels. That is what Jesus teaches us and asks us to believe," the pope said. "His approach challenges us to ask and seek help when setting out on the path of improvement."

Encouraging the young detainees, the pope urged them to not believe or listen to the voices that bring them down and instead listen to the voices "that encourage you to look ahead."

Society, he added, can only be fruitful when it offers a path of inclusion and integration instead of relentless, negative and heartless campaigning against young men and women looking for a second chance.

"Keep fighting, all of you, to seek and find the paths of integration and transformation." Pope Francis said. "The Lord will bless, sustain and accompany you."

After the penitential liturgy, Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Vatican press office, said the pope was "visibly moved by this meeting" and that he wanted to "communicate to those young people that they are not alone and that they are not separated from God's love."

"I was able to speak a bit with the pope after this visit," Gisotti told journalists. "And the pope told me this: 'The most important message I wanted to give witness to today was the mercy of God and highlight that we are all in need of God's mercy.'"

Emma Alba de Tejada, director of Las Garzas de Pacora Juvenile Detention Center, said among the five detainees whose confessions were heard was a young man who harbored anger over the death of his brother and wanted revenge.

"Today, when he finished his confession, he couldn't stop crying," Alba said. "He (finally) felt what he wanted to feel. He said, 'I am transformed; I want to change and I will change.'"

"What the pope did today for our kids was spiritually great. It was what they needed: that he would remember that there are young people who had broken the law, who deserved that he would look at them and tell them, 'I am here,'" Alba said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Chaz MuthBy Rhina GuidosPANAMA CITY (CNS) -- Thousands of World Youth Day pilgrims stopped by the Jama Mosque Jan. 24 en route to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis."Brothers, sisters, you need water," Hashim Bhana yelled at them from under a tent that announced a "hydration center" outside the mosque, a place where pilgrims could pick up free water, or catch some needed shade and a smile as they struggled to stay hydrated under the blazing sun."This is an event for the good of young people, it benefits them so how could we say no" to helping them, said Bhana.While hundreds of vendors sold water to the thirsty, the Muslim community at the oldest mosque in Panama City gave it away for free near a banner that said, "Welcome Pilgrim Friends." By the time Pope Francis had arrived at Santa Maria la Antigua Field, they had handed out 15,000 bottles and were looking for more because of the demand, said Bhana.In Panama City, people of d...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Chaz Muth

By Rhina Guidos

PANAMA CITY (CNS) -- Thousands of World Youth Day pilgrims stopped by the Jama Mosque Jan. 24 en route to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis.

"Brothers, sisters, you need water," Hashim Bhana yelled at them from under a tent that announced a "hydration center" outside the mosque, a place where pilgrims could pick up free water, or catch some needed shade and a smile as they struggled to stay hydrated under the blazing sun.

"This is an event for the good of young people, it benefits them so how could we say no" to helping them, said Bhana.

While hundreds of vendors sold water to the thirsty, the Muslim community at the oldest mosque in Panama City gave it away for free near a banner that said, "Welcome Pilgrim Friends." By the time Pope Francis had arrived at Santa Maria la Antigua Field, they had handed out 15,000 bottles and were looking for more because of the demand, said Bhana.

In Panama City, people of different religions get along well, he said, so the gesture was not unusual.

"What's important to us is that we're all brothers and sisters. We don't ask about your religion, your skin color, age. We're all humans and we want everyone to be well," said Kasim Bhana, who was helping distribute water.

Having the pope in Panama City is a blessing, he said, adding that the Muslim community would be providing free water until World Youth Day was over, particularly because the venues for many of the events were near the mosque and they did not want the pilgrims to dehydrate or suffer.

The mosque has about 8,000 members, give or take, said Kasim Bhana, and many were taking turns staffing the water stations during the hottest times of the day. Others bought and delivered water and ice to keep the water bottles cold. But on the day the pope was going to be closest to the mosque, they opened earlier.

"This was the best day," he said.

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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IMAGE: CNS/Giampiero SpositoBy Cindy WoodenVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Despite some new tensions, "practically the whole of Christianity is in a process of advancing beyond the controversies and competition of the past, toward greater understanding, trust and solidarity," said Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.Writing in The Tablet, a London-based international Catholic weekly, Bishop Farrell said, "Pockets of mutual rejection and contention remain, but most of the world's Christians have come to recognize one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, united in a common baptism and giving a common witness in serving the needs of suffering humanity."The bishops' article was published Jan. 24 during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.To illustrate how "not all is plain sailing" in the search for Christian unity, Bishop Farrell pointed to the challenges posed by a dispute within Orthodoxy over the quest...

IMAGE: CNS/Giampiero Sposito

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Despite some new tensions, "practically the whole of Christianity is in a process of advancing beyond the controversies and competition of the past, toward greater understanding, trust and solidarity," said Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Writing in The Tablet, a London-based international Catholic weekly, Bishop Farrell said, "Pockets of mutual rejection and contention remain, but most of the world's Christians have come to recognize one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, united in a common baptism and giving a common witness in serving the needs of suffering humanity."

The bishops' article was published Jan. 24 during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

To illustrate how "not all is plain sailing" in the search for Christian unity, Bishop Farrell pointed to the challenges posed by a dispute within Orthodoxy over the question of authority and by a controversy within the Catholic Church over allowing the husband and wife in a Catholic-Protestant marriage to receive Communion.

The tensions within the Orthodox Church, particularly between the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Russian Orthodox Church over the ecumenical patriarch's recognition of the independent Orthodox Church of Ukraine, have implications for the Catholic-Orthodox dialogue as well, the bishop said.

"Beyond any political considerations involved, the fundamental point in question is whether the Ecumenical Patriarchate by itself has the authority to do what it has done," Bishop Farrell wrote. "The Russian church has roundly rejected that claim, even accusing Patriarch Bartholomew of wanting to be a pope over all of Orthodoxy. The Russian claim is that there is no universal primacy over the whole church, only independent local churches gathered in a communion of faith, grace and brotherhood."

That claim, the bishop said, would seem to indicate that agreed statements by the official Catholic-Orthodox dialogue on the role of primacy in the universal church "are far from received and accepted."

"Whether and how the dialogue commission can effectively and usefully continue its work in the present situation is now an impelling question," he wrote.

On the Catholic side, he said, "a crucial test of ecumenical resolve" resulted from the debate over a plan by the Germany's Catholic bishops to make it easier for the Protestant spouses of Catholics to receive Communion with their husband or wife.

In the end, Pope Francis asked the German bishops to shelve the plan until they could reach a fuller consensus on it.

Normally, Bishop Farrell wrote, "the sacraments should only be administered to those in full communion with the celebrating church," but the church can and has recognized that "certain situations constitute a call on her to offer the means of holiness and salvation to other baptized Christians, not her own members."

Current church law permits sacramental sharing in cases of "grave need" when it is clear the person receiving the Eucharist shares a "Catholic faith" that it is Christ's body.

Many Catholics, including several prominent German bishops, felt being in an interchurch marriage did not constitute a "grave need."

Bishop Farrell said, though, the debate and eventual suspension of the plan had ecumenical repercussions as well because "in the eyes of many ecumenical partners, too, the debate gave the impression of a new 'closure' on the part of the Catholic Church."

But the work and prayer for Christian unity made strides in 2018 as well, he said, citing Pope Francis' visit to the World Council of Churches, the dialogues the Catholic Church is involved in, the dialogues other Christian churches are pursuing and, especially, the "dialogue of life and love" conducted by many Christians of many denominations.

"For centuries the divided Christian churches used their differences to affirm their identity over against one another," Bishop Farrell said. "Consequently, the very idea of working together was practically unthinkable."

Now, not only are Christians working together to serve the poor, he said, they also are adopting "a new mindset in which legitimate differences of doctrinal formulation and liturgical and canonical tradition and practice are acknowledged and esteemed and, therefore, seen not as a denial of what we are but as gifts that complement us."

The bishop said a "turning point in the ecumenical quest" could be reached when -- as Pope Francis said Jan. 18 -- Christians realize it is "a grave sin to belittle or despise the gifts that the Lord has given" to other Christians and instead acknowledge their value.

 

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Rhina GuidosBy Rhina GuidosPANAMA CITY (CNS) -- Panama City has skyscrapers, bumper-to-bumper traffic, and a population of 880,000 within the city limits -- more than 1.5 million in the metropolitan area. Yet a group of pilgrims from Indiana found warmth and the diversity of the Catholic Church while attending World Youth Day in the bustling city center.From encountering friendly and welcoming Uber drivers and watching other pilgrims dance to sharing the Catholic faith and spirit, the experience has been a joyful one, said a group from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana. They spoke to Catholic News Service Jan. 23 at the FIAT Festival, an event aimed at U.S. pilgrims."It's a unique experience," said Leo Patino of Warsaw, Indiana, a city of about 14,700. Patino, attending World Youth Day for the first time, said he had found exactly what Archbishop Jose Ulloa Mendieta spoke about at the event's opening Mass -- the warmth of the Panamanian people...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Rhina Guidos

By Rhina Guidos

PANAMA CITY (CNS) -- Panama City has skyscrapers, bumper-to-bumper traffic, and a population of 880,000 within the city limits -- more than 1.5 million in the metropolitan area. Yet a group of pilgrims from Indiana found warmth and the diversity of the Catholic Church while attending World Youth Day in the bustling city center.

From encountering friendly and welcoming Uber drivers and watching other pilgrims dance to sharing the Catholic faith and spirit, the experience has been a joyful one, said a group from the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana. They spoke to Catholic News Service Jan. 23 at the FIAT Festival, an event aimed at U.S. pilgrims.

"It's a unique experience," said Leo Patino of Warsaw, Indiana, a city of about 14,700. Patino, attending World Youth Day for the first time, said he had found exactly what Archbishop Jose Ulloa Mendieta spoke about at the event's opening Mass -- the warmth of the Panamanian people.

"Everyone has been very friendly," said 17-year-old Sophia Rodriguez of South Bend.

Even when the group went looking for hard-to-find Mexican food in Panama City, particularly tortillas, which are not a staple food here, Panamanians told them to call ahead of time and they would do what they could to accommodate them.

But one of the biggest benefits has been being able to mix with pilgrims of other countries and also those who express their lives of faith a little differently.

Alexandra Castaneda, 17, said the church back home in Ligonier, Indiana, is "more conservative," so it was beautiful to watch other pilgrims express themselves differently, specifically through dance, and she appreciated the "emotion and energy" she saw in them. It was something that was "different" for her, she said.

Rodriguez said it made her realize the variety of styles within the church, but also the different nationalities that make up Catholicism.

Patino said being around pilgrims from other countries at World Youth Day has helped him see the church's richness.

The pilgrims said they met people from New Zealand, Colombia and El Salvador and, even though many of them were Latinos like them, they learned new things and appreciated meeting them.

"It makes you see the differences" in a good way, said Rodriguez.

Eduardo Arroyo, 24, said it was enriching to hear the Uber driver explain about politics and the history of his home country, a place of architectural riches, particularly when it comes to churches.

But the biggest gifts of the week came in the discernment process about what this World Youth Day will mean going forward, said Patino.

"We're on fire and we're ready to put into practice the words of (Archbishop Ulloa) ... to confront obstacles and break barriers," he said.

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul HaringBy Junno Arocho EstevesPANAMA CITY (CNS) -- Young men and women in the church can bring the joy of the Gospel to the world by showing that God's love extends to all people and excludes no one, Pope Francis said."By your actions and your approach, your way of looking at things, your desires and above all your sensitivity, you discredit and defuse the kind of talk that is intent on sowing division, on excluding or rejecting those who are not 'like us,'" the pope said Jan. 24 during the official ceremony welcoming him to World Youth Day in Panama.Arriving at the site, which sat along the picturesque Panamanian coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the pope was welcomed by an estimated 250,000 young people enthusiastically waving their country's flags as the popemobile passed.Five young people, representing each of the five continents present at the gathering, greeted the pope. Taking those near him by the hand, Pope Francis walked toward the main s...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

PANAMA CITY (CNS) -- Young men and women in the church can bring the joy of the Gospel to the world by showing that God's love extends to all people and excludes no one, Pope Francis said.

"By your actions and your approach, your way of looking at things, your desires and above all your sensitivity, you discredit and defuse the kind of talk that is intent on sowing division, on excluding or rejecting those who are not 'like us,'" the pope said Jan. 24 during the official ceremony welcoming him to World Youth Day in Panama.

Arriving at the site, which sat along the picturesque Panamanian coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the pope was welcomed by an estimated 250,000 young people enthusiastically waving their country's flags as the popemobile passed.

Five young people, representing each of the five continents present at the gathering, greeted the pope. Taking those near him by the hand, Pope Francis walked toward the main stage as young people processed, carrying the World Youth Day cross.

Interspersed with festive music and dancing, the opening ceremony celebrated the universality of the church as young people dressed in the traditional outfits of their native countries entertained the multitude.

Young people from Panama presented the pope with a stole made of "mola," a handmade textile form featuring ornate designs that are part of the indigenous Guna people of Panama.

In his speech, the pope thanked the young people for coming to Panama and encouraged them to be better witnesses of the Gospel.

While World Youth Day is usually marked by festive celebrations, its goal is not to "create a parallel church that would be more 'fun' or 'cool,'" the pope said.

"That way of thinking," he said, "would not respect either you or everything that the Spirit is saying through you."

Instead, the pope continued, World Youth Day is an opportunity to reawaken "the church's constant freshness and youth" that happens only by listening and sharing with others as well as by serving others.

Acknowledging the difficulty many young men and women faced in making the journey to Panama, Pope Francis said it mirrored the life of a disciple who "is not merely someone who arrives at a certain place, but one who sets out decisively, who is not afraid to take risks and keeps walking."

In making the sacrifices that allowed them to participate in World Youth Day, he added, young people have become "true teachers and builders of the culture of encounter."

Their example, he continued, teaches that the culture of encounter "does not mean having to look alike, or think the same way or do the same things, listening to the same music or wearing the same football jersey."

Instead, young people can teach the world that the culture of encounter is built by a shared dream, "a great dream, a dream that has a place for everyone."

It is "a dream named Jesus, sown by the Father in the confidence that it would grow and live in every heart," he said. "A dream running through our veins, thrilling our hearts and making them dance whenever we hear the command: 'that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

Citing the words of St. Oscar Romero, Pope Francis reminded the young pilgrims that Christianity is not merely "a collection of truths to be believed, of rules to be followed or of prohibitions. Seen that way, it puts us off."

"Christianity is a person who loved me immensely, who demands and asks for my love. Christianity is Christ. It means pursuing the dream for which he gave his life: loving with the same love with which he loved us," the pope said.

Like Mary, who was asked by the angel Gabriel if she wanted to bear the son of God in her womb, the pope said young people are still asked today if they are willing to bear Christ's love in their hearts.

The result of World Youth Day will not be a final document or a program, he said, but rather each young person returning home with "the new strength born of every encounter with others and with the Lord" to keep love alive and not let it "grow cold in the heart of our world."

"Wherever we may be and whatever we may do, we can always look up and say, 'Lord, teach me to love as you have loved us,'" Pope Francis said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Since the work of child protection must continue after the February meeting at the Vatican on safeguarding, one organizer said they plan on creating a "task force" with teams on every continent.The task force would be just one of a number of "concrete measures that we want to offer the bishops of the world," Jesuit Father Hans Zollner told the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano Jan. 24."One of our main ideas," he said, "is that this encounter is another step along a long journey that the church has begun and that will not end with this meeting," which will bring presidents of the world's bishops' conferences, the heads of the Eastern Catholic churches and representatives of the leadership groups of men's and women's religious orders to the Vatican Feb. 21-24.A task force made up of child protection experts "will probably be instituted in the various continents where the churc...

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Since the work of child protection must continue after the February meeting at the Vatican on safeguarding, one organizer said they plan on creating a "task force" with teams on every continent.

The task force would be just one of a number of "concrete measures that we want to offer the bishops of the world," Jesuit Father Hans Zollner told the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano Jan. 24.

"One of our main ideas," he said, "is that this encounter is another step along a long journey that the church has begun and that will not end with this meeting," which will bring presidents of the world's bishops' conferences, the heads of the Eastern Catholic churches and representatives of the leadership groups of men's and women's religious orders to the Vatican Feb. 21-24.

A task force made up of child protection experts "will probably be instituted in the various continents where the church is present," and they will travel from place to place, said Father Zollner, who is a member of the meeting's four-person organizing committee, president of the Centre for the Protection of Minors at the Pontifical Gregorian University and a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

"They will be able to find out about the guidelines that the bishops' conferences are about to implement, what point they are at in this process and what they may need," he said.

"They will seek to understand how they can help (the bishops), how to provide them information," but also share with them "the most valuable solutions that have already been tried out in other continents," said Father Zollner.

That way, he said, the different "teams" of the task force should be able to help, "for years to come, to measure the success of this exercise of realizing own's own responsibility, even on the global level, in the face of public expectations."

In the newspaper interview, Father Zollner said organizers hope all those who attend the meeting will clearly understand current norms and the issues of responsibility and transparency when it comes to safeguarding minors from abuse and will "truly be able to implement what has been talked about."

"And finally, we want to see how we can make it so that they not only understand the procedures, the norms" to follow concerning safeguards and handling allegations, "but also how we can motivate people to dedicate themselves to put things into action and not dilly-dally."

Another resource available in the runup to the summit is a collection of articles published by the Jesuit journal, La Civilta Cattolica.  

Titled "Safeguarding," it is part of the journal's "Perspectives" series and is available in English at https://laciviltacattolica.com/safeguarding/. The reprinted articles from 2002 to 2018 give readers a closer look at the scandal of sexual abuse and its psychological and spiritual aspects.

The volume outlines what has been done the past two decades, "the renewal of canonical norms, the formulation of guidelines by episcopal conferences, the development of formation projects and other initiatives, and also some significant recent letters by Pope Francis. It also enumerates a series of key issues the meeting will have to confront," said the journal's director, Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro.

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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IMAGE: CNS photo/Rhina GuidosBy Rhina GuidosPANAMA CITY (CNS) -- Panama City has skyscrapers, bumper-to-bumper traffic, and a population of 880,000 within the city limits -- more than 1.5 million in the metropolitan area. Yet a group of pilgrims from Indiana found warmth and the diversity of the Catholic Church while attending World Youth Day in the bustling city center.From encountering friendly and welcoming Uber drivers and watching other pilgrims dance to sharing the Catholic faith and spirit, the experience has been a joyful one, said a group from the Diocese of Forth Wayne-South Bend, Indiana. They spoke to Catholic News Service Jan. 23 at the FIAT Festival, an event aimed at U.S. pilgrims."It's a unique experience," said Leo Patino of Warsaw, Indiana, a city of about 14,700. Patino, attending World Youth Day for the first time, said he had found exactly what Archbishop Jose Ulloa Mendieta spoke about at the event's opening Mass -- the warmth of the Panamanian peopl...

IMAGE: CNS photo/Rhina Guidos

By Rhina Guidos

PANAMA CITY (CNS) -- Panama City has skyscrapers, bumper-to-bumper traffic, and a population of 880,000 within the city limits -- more than 1.5 million in the metropolitan area. Yet a group of pilgrims from Indiana found warmth and the diversity of the Catholic Church while attending World Youth Day in the bustling city center.

From encountering friendly and welcoming Uber drivers and watching other pilgrims dance to sharing the Catholic faith and spirit, the experience has been a joyful one, said a group from the Diocese of Forth Wayne-South Bend, Indiana. They spoke to Catholic News Service Jan. 23 at the FIAT Festival, an event aimed at U.S. pilgrims.

"It's a unique experience," said Leo Patino of Warsaw, Indiana, a city of about 14,700. Patino, attending World Youth Day for the first time, said he had found exactly what Archbishop Jose Ulloa Mendieta spoke about at the event's opening Mass -- the warmth of the Panamanian people.

"Everyone has been very friendly," said 17-year-old Sophia Rodriguez of South Bend.

Even when the group went looking for hard-to-find Mexican food in Panama City, particularly tortillas, which are not a staple food here, Panamanians told them to call ahead of time and they would do what they could to accommodate them.

But one of the biggest benefits has been being able to mix with pilgrims of other countries and also those who express their lives of faith a little differently.

Alexandra Castaneda, 17, said the church back home in Ligonier, Indiana, is "more conservative," so it was beautiful to watch other pilgrims express themselves differently, specifically through dance, and she appreciated the "emotion and energy" she saw in them. It was something that was "different" for her, she said.

Rodriguez said it made her realize the variety of styles within the church, but also the different nationalities that make up Catholicism.

Patino said being around pilgrims from other countries at World Youth Day has helped him see the church's richness.

The pilgrims said they met people from New Zealand, Colombia and El Salvador and, even though many of them were Latinos like them, they learned new things and appreciated meeting them.

"It makes you see the differences" in a good way, said Rodriguez.

Eduardo Arroyo, 24, said it was enriching to hear the Uber driver explain about politics and the history of his home country, a place of architectural riches, particularly when it comes to churches.

But the biggest gifts of the week came in the discernment process about what this World Youth Day will mean going forward, said Patino.

"We're on fire and we're ready to put into practice the words of (Archbishop Ulloa) ... to confront obstacles and break barriers," he said.

- - -

Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

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