Advent Events

Eucharistic Adoration

December 12, 2017 - 5:30pm
Chapel
Eucharistic adoration is expanded to 5:30 to 8:30pm for Advent. Confessions 5:30 to 6:50pm. Rosary at 7pm.Read more

Communal Penance Service

December 13, 2017 - 6:00pm
Church
A communal penance service will be hosted at St Regis with several priests available for confessions. This will be conducted oncurrently with... Read more

Christmas Mass Times

December 25, 2017 - 10:30am
Christmas Eve Masses December 24 - 4:30pm & Midnight Christmas Morning Mass December 25 - 10:30amRead more

Welcome!

If you have never been to a Catholic church, or if you are new to our area of Kansas City, welcome!

If you and your family have been away from the Catholic Church for some time, welcome back! If you are an active member of our family at St. John Francis Regis, welcome! In short, we are glad you are here.

Come and join us for Holy Mass and be transformed by God’s grace. Participate, go out “into the deep”— get involved. We are truly blessed to have such a Christ-centered, faith-filled community. We invite you to join us and experience this great gift of God. Learn ways you can get involved at St. John Francis Regis by browsing our site, our bulletin, or our Facebook page. Take advantage of the various links and videos and contemplate anew the splendor of our faith alive in our age.

I invite you to consider becoming a registered member of our parish so you can grow in abundant love of God and neighbor. We look forward to seeing you, and may God richly bless you!

In Christ,
Fr. McCaffery

Upcoming Events

Eucharistic Adoration

Confessions and Rosary
December 12, 2017 - 5:30pm
Chapel
Eucharistic adoration is expanded to 5:30 to 8:30pm for Advent. Confessions 5:30 to 6:50pm. Rosary at 7pm.Read more

Communal Penance Service

with Eucharistic Adoration
December 13, 2017 - 6:00pm
Church
A communal penance service will be hosted at St Regis with several priests available for confessions. This will be conducted oncurrently with... Read more

Knights of Columbus General Membership Meeting

KofC
December 13, 2017 - 7:00pm
Rosary at 7:00pm, Meeting starts immediately after the RosaryRead more
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Advent

Advent: More Than a Chocolate Calendar

Saint of the day

December 11, 2017 - 1:21pm
Saint Damasus was born in Rome at the beginning of the fourth century. His father, a widower, had received Holy Orders there and served as parish priest in the church of St. Laurence.Damasus was archdeacon of the Roman Church in 355 when the Pope, Saint Liberius, was banished to Berda. Damases followed him into exile, but afterwards returned to Rome. On the death of Saint Liberius in 366, our Saint was chosen to succeed him, at the age of sixty-two. A certain Ursinus, jealous of his election and desiring for himself that high office, had himself proclaimed pope by his followers, inciting a revolt against Damasus in Rome, in which 137 people died. The holy Pope did not choose to resort to armed defense, but the Emperor Valentinian, to defend him, drove the usurper from Rome for a time. Later he returned, and finding accomplices for his evil intentions, accused the holy Pontiff of adultery. Saint Damasus took only such action as was becoming to the common father of the faithful. He assembled a synod of forty-four bishops, in which he justified himself so well that the calumniators were excommunicated and banished.Having freed the Church of this new schism, Saint Damasus turned his attention to the extirpation of Arianism in the West and of Apollinarianism in the East, and for this purpose convened several councils. He sent Saint Zenobius, later bishop of Florence, to Constantinople in 381 to console the faithful, cruelly persecuted by the Emperor Valens. He commanded Saint Jerome to prepare a correct Latin version of the Bible, since known as the Vulgate, and he ordered the Psalms to be sung accordingly. He rebuilt and adorned the Church of Saint Laurence, still called Saint Laurence in Damaso. He caused all the springs of the Vatican to be drained, which were inundating the tombs of the holy persons buried there, and he decorated the sepulchres of a great number of martyrs in the cemeteries, adorning them with epitaphs in verse. Before his death, he consecrated sixty-two bishops.Saint Damasus is praised by Theodoret as head of the famous doctors of divine grace of the Latin church. The General Council of Chalcedon calls him the "honor and glory of Rome." Having reigned for eighteen years and two months, he died on December 10, 384, when he was nearly eighty years old. In the eighth century, his relics were definitively placed in the church of Saint Laurence in Damaso, except for his head, which was conserved in the Basilica of Saint Peter.Source: The Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs and Principal Saints, by Rev. Alban Butler.
December 10, 2017 - 12:21pm
St. Eulalia descended from one of the most prominent families in Spain. She was educated in the Christian religion and was taught the sentiments of perfect piety. From her infancy she distinguished herself by an admirable sweetness of temper, modesty and devotion. She showed a great love of the holy state of virginity, and by her seriousness and her contempt of dress, ornaments diversions and worldly company, she gave early signs of her sincere desire to lead a heavenly life on earth. Her heart was raised above the world before she was thought capable of knowing it, so that its amusements, which usually fill the minds of youth, had no charms for her, and every day of her life she continued to grow in virtue.She was just twelve years old when the bloody edicts of the Emporer Diocletian were issued, by which it was ordered that all persons, without exception of age, sex, or profession, should be compelled to offer sacrifice to the gods of the empire.Eulalia, although young, took the publication of this order as a sign of battle, but her mother, observing her impatient ardor for martyrdom, carried her into the country. However, the young saint quickly found a means to make her escape by night, and after much fatigue, arrived at Merida before daybreak. That same morning, as soon as the court convined, she presented herself before the cruel judge, whose name was Dacian, and reproached him with impiety in attempting to destroy souls by compelling them to renounce the only true God.The governor then commanded her to be seized. First, employing caresses, Dacian presented to her the advantages which her birth, youth and fortune gave her in the world, and the grief which her disobedience would bring to her parents. Seeing that these temptations had no effect, he began to threaten her, placing the most cruel instruments of torture before her eyes, saying to her, "All this you shall escape if you will but touch a little salt and frankincense with the tip of your finger." Provoked at these seducing flatteries, she threw down the idol, trampled upon the cake which was laid for the sacrifice and spat at the judge -- an action only to be excused by her youth and inattention under the influence of a warm zeal, and fear of the snares which were laid before her.  Upon the judge's order, two executioners began to tear her tender sides with iron hooks, so as to leave the very bones bare. While this was happening, she called the strokes the trophies of Christ. Next, lighted torches were applied to her breasts and sides: under which torment, instead of groans, nothing was heard from her mouth but thanksgivings. The fire at length catching her hair, surrounded her head and face, and the saint was stifled by the smoke and flame.History says that a white dove seemed to come out of her mouth, and to wing its way upward when the holy martyr expired: at which prodigy the executioners were so much terrified that they fled and left the body. Her relics are kept with great veneration at Oviedo, where she is honored as patroness. The Roman Martyrology mentions her name on December 10. Source: Butler's Lives of the Saints
December 9, 2017 - 10:21am
On Dec. 9, Roman Catholics celebrate St. Juan Diego, the indigenous Mexican Catholic convert whose encounter with the Virgin Mary began the Church's devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.In 1474, 50 years before receiving the name Juan Diego at his baptism, a boy named Cuauhtlatoatzin -- “singing eagle� -- was born in the Anahuac Valley of present-day Mexico. Though raised according to the Aztec pagan religion and culture, he showed an unusual and mystical sense of life even before hearing the Gospel from Franciscan missionaries.In 1524, Cuauhtlatoatzin and his wife converted and entered the Catholic Church. The farmer now known as Juan Diego was committed to his faith, often walking long distances to receive religious instruction. In 1531, he would be the recipient of a world-changing miracle.On Dec. 9, Juan Diego was hurrying to Mass to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. But the woman he was heading to church to celebrate, came to him instead.In the native Aztec dialect, the radiant woman announced herself as the “ever-perfect holy Mary, who has the honor to be the mother of the true God.�“I am your compassionate Mother, yours and that of all the people that live together in this land,� she continued, “and also of all the other various lineages of men.�She asked Juan Diego to make a request of the local bishop. “I want very much that they build my sacred little house here� -- a house dedicated to her son Jesus Christ, on the site of a former pagan temple, that would “show him� to all Mexicans and “exalt him� throughout the world.She was asking a great deal of a native farmer. Not surprisingly, his bold request met with skepticism from Bishop Juan de Zumárraga. But Juan Diego said he would produce proof of the apparition, after he finished tending to his uncle whose death seemed imminent.Making his way to church on Dec. 12, to summon a priest for his uncle, Juan Diego again encountered the Blessed Virgin. She promised to cure his uncle and give him a sign to display for the bishop. On the hill where they had first met he would find roses and other flowers, though it was winter.Doing as she asked, he found the flowers and brought them back to her. The Virgin Mary then placed the flowers inside his tilma, the traditional garment he had been wearing. She told him not to unwrap the tilma containing the flowers, until he had reached the bishop.When he did, Bishop Zumárraga had his own encounter with Our Lady of Guadalupe – through the image of her that he found miraculously imprinted on the flower-filled tilma. The Mexico City basilica that now houses the tilma has become, by some estimates, the world's most-visited Catholic shrine.The miracle that brought the Gospel to millions of Mexicans also served to deepen Juan Diego's own spiritual life. For many years after the experience, he lived a solitary life of prayer and work in a hermitage near the church where the image was first displayed. Pilgrims had already begun flocking to the site by the time he died on Dec. 9, 1548, the anniversary of the first apparition.Blessed John Paul II beatified St. Juan Diego in 1990, and canonized him in 2002.
December 8, 2017 - 9:21am
"The most Blessed Virgin Mary was, from the first moment of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege of almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from all stain of original sin." (Pius IX, Ineffabilis Deus, 1854)In 1854, Pope Pius IX's solemn declaration, "Ineffabilis Deus," clarified with finality the long-held belief of the Church that Mary was conceived free from original sin. Mary was granted this extraordinary privilege because of Her unique role in history as the Mother of God. That is, She received the gift of salvation in Christ from the very moment of her conception.Even though Mary is unique in all humanity for being born without sin, She is held up by the Church as a model for all humanity in Her holiness and Her purity, in Her willingness to accept the Plan of God for Her.Every person is called to recognize and respond to God’s call, to their own vocation, in order to carry out God’s plan for their life and fulfill the mission prepared for them since before the beginning of time.Mary’s “Let it be done to me according to Thy Word,� in response of the Angel Gabriel’s greeting is the response required of all Christians to God’s Plan. The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is a time to celebrate the great joy of God’s gift to humanity in Mary, and to recognize with greater clarity, the truth that each and every human being has been created by God to fulfill a particular mission that he and only he can fulfill.“The word of the Lord came to me thus: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you." (Jeremiah 1:5-6)
December 7, 2017 - 7:21am
Today the Catholic Church celebrates the memory of St. Ambrose, the brilliant Bishop of Milan who influenced St. Augustine's conversion and was named a Doctor of the Church.Like Augustine himself, the older Ambrose (born around 340) was a highly educated man who sought to harmonize Greek and Roman intellectual culture with the Catholic faith. Trained as a lawyer, he eventually became the governor of Milan. He manifested his intellectual gifts in defense of Christian doctrine even before his baptism.While Ambrose was serving as the governor of Milan, a bishop named Auxentius was leading the diocese. Although he was an excellent public speaker with a forceful personality, Auxentius also followed the heresy of Arius, which denied the divinity of Christ.Although the Council of Nicaea had reasserted the traditional teaching on Jesus' deity, many educated members of the Church – including, at one time, a majority of the world's bishops – looked to Arianism as a more sophisticated and cosmopolitan version of Christianity. Bishop Auxentius became notorious for forcing clergy throughout the region to accept Arian creeds.At the time of Auxentius' death, Ambrose had not yet even been baptized. But his deep understanding and love of the traditional faith were already clear to the faithful of Milan. They considered him the most logical choice to succeed Auxentius, even though he was still just a catechumen.With the help of Emperor Valentinan, who ruled the Western Roman Empire at the time, a mob of Milanese Catholics virtually forced Ambrose to become their bishop against his own will. Eight days after his baptism, Ambrose received episcopal consecration on Dec. 7, 374. The date would eventually become his liturgical feast.Bishop Ambrose did not disappoint those who had clamored for his appointment and consecration. He began his ministry by giving everything he owned to the poor and to the Church. He looked to the writings of Greek theologians like St. Basil for help in explaining the Church's traditional teachings to the people during times of doctrinal confusion.Like the fathers of the Eastern Church, Ambrose drew from the intellectual reserves of pre-Christian philosophy and literature to make the faith more comprehensible to his hearers. This harmony of faith with other sources of knowledge served to attract, among others, the young professor Aurelius Augustinus – a man Ambrose taught and baptized, whom history knows as St. Augustine of Hippo.Ambrose himself lived simply, wrote prolifically, and celebrated Mass each day. He found time to counsel an amazing range of public officials, pagan inquirers, confused Catholics and penitent sinners. The people of Milan never regretted their insistence that the reluctant civil servant should lead the local church.His popularity, in fact, served to keep at bay those who would have preferred to force him from the diocese, including the Western Empress Justina and a group of her advisers, who sought to rid the West of adherence to the Nicene Creed. Ambrose heroically refused her attempts to impose heretical bishops in Italy, along with her efforts to seize churches in the name of Arianism.Ambrose also displayed remarkable courage when he publicly denied communion to the Emperor Theodosius, who had ordered the massacre of 7,000 citizens in Thessalonica. The chastened emperor took Ambrose's rebuke to heart, publicly repenting of the massacre and doing penance for the murders.“Nor was there afterwards a day on which he did not grieve for his mistake,â€� Ambrose himself noted when he spoke at the emperor's funeral. The rebuke spurred a profound change in Emperor Theodosius. He reconciled himself with the Church and the bishop, who attended to the emperor on his deathbed.St. Ambrose died in 397. His 23 years of diligent service had turned a deeply troubled diocese into an exemplary outpost for the faith. His writings remained an important point of reference for the Church, well into the medieval era and beyond.At the Catholic Church's Fifth Ecumenical Council – which took place at Constantinople in 553, and remains a source of authoritative teaching for both Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians –  the assembled bishops named Ambrose, along with this protege St. Augustine, as being among the foremost “holy fathersâ€� of the Church, whose teaching all bishops should “in every way follow.â€�
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Daily Readings

December 11, 2017 - 1:00am
1 The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus
2 it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God.
3 Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees.
4 Say to those who are of a fearful heart, "Be strong, fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you."
5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6 then shall the lame man leap like a hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing for joy. For waters shall break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert;
7 the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp, the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
8 And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not pass over it, and fools shall not err therein.
9 No lion shall be there, nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it; they shall not be found there, but the redeemed shall walk there.
10 And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
December 11, 2017 - 1:00am
8 Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints, to those who turn to him in their hearts.
9 Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.
10 Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.
12 Yea, the LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.
13 Righteousness will go before him, and make his footsteps a way.
December 11, 2017 - 1:00am
17 On one of those days, as he was teaching, there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was with him to heal.
18 And behold, men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they sought to bring him in and lay him before Jesus;
19 but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus.
20 And when he saw their faith he said, "Man, your sins are forgiven you."
21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, "Who is this that speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God only?"
22 When Jesus perceived their questionings, he answered them, "Why do you question in your hearts?
23 Which is easier, to say, `Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, `Rise and walk'?
24 But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins" -- he said to the man who was paralyzed -- "I say to you, rise, take up your bed and go home."
25 And immediately he rose before them, and took up that on which he lay, and went home, glorifying God.
26 And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, "We have seen strange things today."
December 10, 2017 - 1:00am
1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
2 Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD's hand double for all her sins.
3 A voice cries: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.
5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."
9 Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, "Behold your God!"
10 Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.
11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
December 10, 2017 - 1:00am
8 Let me hear what God the LORD will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints, to those who turn to him in their hearts.
9 Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him, that glory may dwell in our land.
10 Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
11 Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.
12 Yea, the LORD will give what is good, and our land will yield its increase.
13 Righteousness will go before him, and make his footsteps a way.
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Saturday 4:30 p.m.

Sunday 8:30 a.m. & 10:30 a.m.

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24-hour exposition of the Blessed Sacrament occurs every first Friday of the month from 9:00 a.m. Friday to 9:00 a.m. Saturday.

Catholic News

December 11, 2017 - 8:00pm

Vatican City, Dec 11, 2017 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis’ remarks on the “wrong” translation of the Lord’s Prayer in a TV show hosted by the Italian Bishops’ Conference’s TV2000 network are part of a wider debate that has taken place in Italy for over two decades.
 
The Pope said that the words “non ci indurre in tentazione” – “Do not lead us into temptation,” in the English version – are not correct, because, he said, God does not actively lead us into temptation.
 
The Pope also praised a new translation operated by the French Bishops’ conference.
 
The new French translation is “et ne nous laisse pas entrer in tentationI” – “let us not enter into temptation.” It replaces the previous translation “ne nous soumets pas à la tentation” – “do not submit us to temptation.”
 
It is worth noting that St. Thomas Aquinas considered the question of whether God leads men “into temptation” in a commentary he wrote on the Our Father. The saint, and Doctor of the Church, concluded that “God is said to lead a person into evil by permitting him to the extent that, because of his many sins, He withdraws His grace from man, and as a result of this withdrawal man does fall into sin.”

The Pope’s intent seems to be to emphasize that God’s active will does not “tempt” men, that, instead, the permissive will of God allows people to be tempted because of their sinfulness. This is the emphasis of the French translation. The theological context is complex, but certainly the Pope has not intended to deny the theological and scriptural sense in which God allows, or permits, temptation.

However, the Pope was talking in Italian, on an Italian television show, and his remarks dealt with the Italian translation of the Lord’s Prayer. It would be a mistake to assign his remarks significance beyond the Italian context, in which they would be well understood.

And, in fact, a new Italian translation of that very sentence of the Lord’s Prayer has already been done.
 
The new translation of the Bible issued by the Italian Bishops Conference says “do not abandon us to the temptation,” and the rephrasing of that sentence was the fruit of a long process, aimed at being more faithful to the Latin text of the prayer – the so-called editio typica – and at the same time more fit to the current language.
 
Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, Archbishop of Florence and a well known scripture scholar, who has also served as undersecretary and secretary of the Italian Bishops Conference, recounted to the Italian newspaper Avvenire how the process for a new translation took place.
 
“The work,” he said, “dates back to 1988, when the decision was made to review the old 1971 translation of the Bible.”
 
At that time, a working group of 15 scripture scholars was established, coordinated by a bishop – the first was Bishop Giuseppe Costanzo, then Bishop Wilhelm Egger, and finally Bishop Franco Festorazzi.
 
This working group collected the opinions of 60 more experts on scripture. The group was overseen by the Bishops Commission for the Liturgy, and the Italian Bishops’ Conference Permanent Council, a group composed of the presidents of regional bishops conference, and the presidents of the commissions established within the Bishops’ Conference itself.
 
Cardinal Betori said that “within the Permanent Council, a restricted committee for the translation was established,” was composed of Cardinals Giacomo Biffi and Carlo Maria Martini, and of Archbishops Benigno Luigi Papa, Giovanni Saldarini and Andrea Magrassi.
 
“This committee,” Cardinal Betori said, “also received and considered the proposal for the new translation of the Our Father.”
 
The formula “do not abandon us to temptation” was adopted because it met the approval of both Cardinal Martini and Biffi, who “were not, as is known, from the same schools of thought,” Cardinal Betori explained.
 
Cardinal Betori said that the formula was chosen because it had a wider meaning, as “do not abandon us to temptation” can both mean “do not abandon us, so that we will not fall into temptation” and “do not abandon... when we are already facing temptation,” Cardinal Betori explained.
 
The new translation was approved by the Italian bishops in 2000. In 2001, the Congregation for Divine Worship issued Liturgiam Authenticam, a set of new provisions for the translation of liturgical texts.
 
After Liturgiam Authenticam, the whole work of translation was reviewed by a group of experts, led by bishops Adriano Caprioli, Luciano Monari and Mansueto Bianchi. Cardinal Betori was part of this group.
 
The revision, which suggested many amendments, was forwarded to the bishops. However, these amendments “did not change the proposal for the new translation of the Lord’s Prayer.”
 
The new translation of the Bible was finally approved during the 2002 General Assembly of the Italian Bishops Conference, with 202 out of 203 bishops voting favorably. The text of the Lord’s Prayer was approved separately, to be certain there were no doubts from bishops. The Holy See gave its recognitio in 2007, and the Italian Bishops Conference Bible was finally published in 2008 with the new translation.
 
The new translation of the Lord’s Prayer was ‘transferred’ to the Missal. However, the new translation, in order to be part of liturgical use, must be approved by the Holy See, and the text has not been approved, because there are other issues of concern in the Missal’s translation.
 
This is the reason why, the formula for the Lord’s Prayer in Italian is still “non ci indurre in tentazione.”
 
Ultimately, speaking about the translation of the Lord’s Prayer, Pope Francis did not say anything really new. Italian theologians and scripture scholars have already provided their solution for the translation.
 
However, there is another story to be told. There is a question regarding what will happen to translations that once needed a “recognitio” from the Holy See, which is now simply called to “confirm” the new translation.
 
Will this lead to a general change in translations in languages other than Italian?

 

December 11, 2017 - 6:10pm

Sydney, Australia, Dec 11, 2017 / 05:10 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Church in Australia kicked off Advent with a Catholic Youth Festival in Sydney last weekend, drawing some 20,000 attendees and including the country's largest Mass since the World Youth Day in 2008.

The event was also the opening of a “Year of Youth” meant to “open new horizons for spreading joy for the young Church and our communities.”  

Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney said that “our culture has messed up about life and love, justice and mercy,” at the festival's Dec. 9 Mass, citing political challenges such as the recent legalization of voluntary euthanasia in Victoria.

“If ever we need new John the Baptists to call to people to repent and to believe, to offer some really good news amidst all the bad and to point people to Christ, it’s right now.”

The festival was held Dec. 7-9, shortly after Archbishop Denis Hart of Melbourne, president of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, invited the nation's youth to participate in the 2018 Year of Youth, which will last until Nov. 25, 2018.

The festival mostly took place at the Sydney Olympic Park. There young people attended workshops, Mass, faith-filled discussions, and even interactive games, such as a Saint John Paul II video game.

However, the highlight of the weekend was a pilgrimage through Australia’s largest city followed by the closing event. Depending on the desired length, people could begin the pilgrimage at either the St Mary Mackillop Shrine, Harbour Bridge, or St Mary’s Cathedral, but the pilgrims all converged for a concert and closing Mass at the Domain in the Royal Botanical Gardens.

The nearly three hour praise and worship concert included Matt Maher and tributes to the country’s aboriginal groups. A Saturday anticipated Mass soon followed the event, celebrated by Archbishop Fisher, who cancelled all other anticipated Masses to encourage attendance at the youth Mass.

“Episode Eight is coming,” said the archbishop at the beginning of his homily, referring to the new Star Wars movie which will be released this month.

He explained that he had first seen Star Wars during his last year of school nearly 40 years ago, and how it is now a cultural staple which has earned billions of dollars and spawned cultural phrases such as “I am your father.”

Although the series has a bizarre religious perspective, he said, it is still based on the theme of a struggle between light and darkness, adding that the movies include champions who fought on behalf of goodness.

“One thing is still clear, we still look for heroes,” he said, pointing to John the Baptist, an unlikely hero who ate bugs, honey, and smelled like camels.

“All together, JB (John the Baptist) is not the kind of guy your parents would want you to bring home from ACYF as your new boyfriend or new best mate,” he joked.

However, he said this saint aimed to bring people the good news, namely Christ, and stood up against the evils of the times, even if it meant losing his head to Herod because he denounced the king’s illegitimate marriage.

Archbishop Fisher highlighted the evils of euthanasia, which was recently legalized in the state of Victoria, and warned that people can no longer rely on the Christian presence within the culture, but will have to choose for themselves to believe in the teachings of the Catholic Church.

“Things are sliding in our culture, and going forward Christians may not be as influential or even welcome as they used to be. Christian’s won’t be carried by the culture any more. They will have to decide for themselves.”

The culture needs Catholic youth to be heroes and to proclaim the good amid the darkness of the world, he said, noting the example of Mary, the mother of God.

“There were many challenges for [Mary] and not just at the beginning. Accompanying Christ to the cross tore her Immaculate Heart,” he said.

But instead of despairing over evil, he challenged Catholic youth to respond as Mary did at the resurrection.

“Being held by him after the resurrection must have been the greatest joy a human heart, even an immaculate one, could ever have contained. Indeed she couldn’t contain that joy. The next time we see her in the New Testament she is praying in the cenacle of the Church as she awaits her new children to be over shadowed by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

December 11, 2017 - 6:00pm

Dublin, Ireland, Dec 11, 2017 / 05:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Amnesty International is in no position to oppose an Irish law against foreign political funding now that it is under scrutiny for taking money from U.S. financier George Soros’ Open Society Foundations to target the country’s abortion restrictions, Irish pro-life advocates have said.

“The arrogance they have shown in the past few days on this issue is staggering. They are now trying to argue that they have a ‘human right’ to take money from billionaires to push to have abortion legalization in Ireland, while they also argue that preborn children should not have the most basic human right of all – the right to life,” Niamh Ui Bhriain, a spokesperson for the Irish-based Life Institute, told CNA Dec. 11.

She said the action shows the reliance of Irish pro-abortion rights campaigners on foreign funding. Millions of dollars in overseas funding have targeted Ireland’s pro-life laws for decades, as have other U.S. groups like the Center for Reproductive Rights.

“It’s made for a very un-level playing field in the abortion debate in Ireland,” she said.

The Republic of Ireland’s Standards in Public Office Commission has told the human rights and pro-abortion legalization group to return about $160,000 in funds to the Soros foundations. According to the commission, the money violated Irish law barring foreign donations to third party groups seeking to influence the outcome of a referendum campaign.

Colm O’Gorman, Amnesty International’s executive director, said in a Dec. 8 statement that it would oppose the election funding law.

“Ireland is targeting Amnesty International purely for its human rights work,” he claimed.

The organization is backing repeal of the Eighth Amendment to the Republic of Ireland’s constitution. The amendment, passed by voters in 1983, acknowledges “the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother.”

“Amnesty International will not be complying with the instruction from the SIPOC and will deploy every means at its disposal to challenge this unfair law,” said O’Gorman.

He claimed the instruction is “an indefensible attack on human rights defenders” and shows the election funding law is a threat to civil society organizations in the country.

However, Cora Sherlock, deputy chairperson of The Pro-Life Campaign, characterized the Amnesty statement as “nothing more than a public relations exercise to disguise the fact that they have been receiving vast sums of money from abroad to fund their campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment.”

“Amnesty are behaving like they are above the law and are hiding behind the term ‘human rights’ as a justification for everything they do,” she said Dec. 8. “Amnesty should immediately return the money and stop trying to portray itself as a victim in all of this.”

The effort to repeal the amendment is expected to launch in February 2018, The Irish Times reports.

In August 2016, CNA broke the news that documents that had been reportedly hacked from the Open Society Foundations and posted to the site DCLeaks.com included a strategy proposal targeting Ireland’s pro-life amendment.

The groups apparently intended to serve a role in this strategy were the Abortion Rights Campaign, Amnesty International Ireland, and the Irish Family Planning Association.

The strategy suggested that a pro-abortion rights victory in Ireland “could impact other strongly Catholic countries in Europe, such as Poland, and provide much needed proof that change is possible, even in highly conservative places.”

Abortion Rights Campaign Ireland had received about $29,500 from the foundations in 2016, but returned it later that year after being contacted by the standards commission, which warned that the organization could be reported to the national police.

On Dec. 8, Amnesty International objected that the commission in 2016 told the organization that its work against Ireland’s abortion laws, including work supported by the Open Societies Foundations, did not violate the election funding law. The organization cited the election commission’s 2003 suggestion that the law’s definition of “political purposes” was too broad and could regulate many unintended groups, specifically naming Amnesty International.

O’Gorman contended that it was not clear why the commission reversed its position. He said his organization’s critics have “portrayed foreign funding as somehow sinister.” He contended that the Irish law contradicted the Irish government’s criticisms of “draconian anti-NGO laws elsewhere.”

Sherlock stressed the importance of the stated purpose of the Open Society Foundations grant: “to assist the coordination of groups in Ireland with a view to repealing the Eighth Amendment and taking away legal protection for the baby in the womb.”

She said the involvement of the U.S.-based foundations represented “a gross interference in our democracy and in safeguarding the right to life.”

Amnesty International was neutral on abortion until April 2007, when its leadership decided to support decriminalization of abortion. The change resulted in protests and resignations from leading Catholics and other objectors to abortion among the membership.

At present, Ireland’s Standards in Public Office Commission is also in talks with the Irish Family Planning Association, which received $150,000 from the Open Society Foundations in 2016, because of possible violations of the Republic of Ireland’s election laws on political funding.

A spokeswoman for the Irish Family Planning Association said that in 2016 the association and the commission agreed that the grant did not require the association to register as a “third party” organization under election funding rules. She said the money was not being used for campaign purposes, the Irish Times reports.

There has been more recent correspondence, and the family planning association is again in discussions with the commission.

Ui Bhriain said that pro-abortion rights campaigners see Ireland as “the jewel in the crown of the pro-life movement.” Ireland shows “you don’t need abortion to protect women or to make them safe in pregnancy.”

She cited the country’s “excellent” maternal healthcare and its U.N. ranking as among the safest places to have a baby.

“Ireland is proof that we can best serve mother and baby without abortion, and that a compassionate and truly progressive nation rejects the violence of abortion,” she said.

“That makes us a prime target for the global abortion industry, and, in the next six months, we will see them working night and day to help overturn our pro-life law in this upcoming referendum.”

December 11, 2017 - 4:48pm

Arlington, Va., Dec 11, 2017 / 03:48 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- An Arlington priest who was formerly a KKK member has written an apology letter and paid restitution to a family for burning a cross in their lawn in 1977.

Fr. William Aitcheson, a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, Va. is a former member of the Ku Klux Klan and was arrested in 1977 for burning six crosses, one on the lawn of Philip and Barbara Butler. He was 23 years old at the time.

In a handwritten letter to the Butlers released on Friday, Aitcheson apologized for his “despicable act” and for the pain that it caused. “I also know that the symbol of the most enduring love the world has ever known must never be used as a weapon of terror,” he wrote.

Besides the letter, the priest also sent the Butlers a check for $23,000, the original restitution owed them in 1977, and offered to pay their legal fees of $9,600.

While the family originally refused to accept Aitcheson’s apology and money, the diocese said in a press release that the Butlers “have since reconsidered and accepted” the restitution and money for legal fees, which were paid from Aicheson’s personal funds and a private loan.

The diocese also stated that “Fr. Aitcheson had no legal obligation to make restitution, and it should be clarified that he had no obligation under Church law either. Fr. Aitcheson felt a moral obligation to pay as much as he could. The Diocese supported this decision.”

“Fr. Aitcheson acknowledges that he should have reached out to the Butler family and paid restitution decades ago, but he hopes this resolution begins a process of healing and peace,” the diocese added.

In August, Aitcheson’s past as a KKK member was made public when he wrote an article in the diocesan newspaper “with the intention of telling his story of transformation” from being a Klan member to abandoning his racist beliefs and becoming a Catholic priest.

The article, entitled “Moving from hate to love with God’s grace,” was written in the wake of the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va. on Aug. 11-12, which drew national attention. According to the diocese, a freelancer reporter contacted the diocese at that time after she found that Fr. Aitcheson’s name matched that of a man arrested in the 1970s. Fr. Aitcheson saw it as a chance to share his story of conversion, and the diocese agreed to publish his account.

“He left that life behind him 40 years ago and since journeyed in faith to eventually become a Catholic priest,” the diocese said in a statement in August.

The Butlers’ lawyer has told local media that the family is still pursuing a civil suit against the law firm that originally represented them at the time of the incident and failed to renew the judgment on the case, allowing it to expire. The family is seeking to collect the interest accrued on the original $23,000, which would now be more than $68,000.

The family is also looking into a civil suit against the diocese, which they believe should have come forward about Aitcheson’s past, and alleging harm caused by an apology letter published by the priest.

The diocese has said that they were aware of Aitcheson’s past KKK involvement but were not made aware of the civil suit until August.

Fr. Aitcheson entered the seminary and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Reno-Las Vegas, Nev. in 1988. He came to the Arlington Diocese in 1993. The Arlington Diocese stated in August that “there have been no accusations of racism or bigotry against Fr. Aitcheson throughout his time in the Diocese of Arlington.”

Fr. Aitcheson has been on a voluntary leave of absence since August. According to the diocese, “plans for (Aitcheson’s) future priestly ministry are still being discerned.”

 

December 11, 2017 - 4:12pm

Vatican City, Dec 11, 2017 / 03:12 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Leading lay experts and top Vatican officials have joined forces this week to talk about how they can collaborate in addressing key areas of modern concern, placing a special emphasis on the role of laypeople.

“Even before the (Second) Vatican Council, the conviction of the Church was that lay involvement in certain spheres of life, particularly political and social, was absolutely indispensable,” Archbishop Paul Gallagher told CNA Dec. 11.

The importance of the laity “is quite clear even more today,” he said, explaining that without their activity and social and political advocacy, the Church would lose its voice.

“It is absolutely key, crucial, for the future of the Church's engagement with society that laypeople should be prepared to do this, should be courageous in doing it, and should have this great will to bring the voice of Christ now in the political sphere and social sphere, on a local level and an international level,” he said.

“I think they can do a great service to the Church and to the world in this way,” he said, adding that “any form of engagement” is encouraged.

Msgr. Gallagher, Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, spoke before celebrating Mass on the opening night of a Dec. 11-13 conference organized by the Forum of Catholic-inspired NGOs, titled “Promoters of Humanity in a Transforming World.”

The conference, which drew a slew of representatives from various NGOs around the world, including non-Catholics, focused on how Catholic-inspired organizations can help safeguard core values such as family and religious freedom, and ensure the that a proper integral human development is achieved in the context of a rapidly changing global society.

In his speech for the conference, Gallagher said the Holy See and Catholic-inspired NGOs can work together to achieve “the ideal of human fraternity and a means for its greater realization.”

He stressed that the Holy See isn't “controlling” the forum, but that rather, the members and leaders of the NGOs are the real protagonists, since they bring “real life experiences and expertise” to the table through their work.

Among those “protagonists” present for the conference was Helen Alvare, a professor of family law, law and religion, and property law at Antonin Scalia Law School, George Mason University. She is also the cofounder of the “Women Speak for Themselves” organization, the president of “Reconnect Media” non-profit communications group, and an adviser to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.  

In comments to CNA, Alvare also stressed the importance of the role of laity, specifically women and the poor, in advocating key issues in the Church, especially in regards to the family.

Through the organizations she is involved with, Alvare focuses on giving voice to people on the grassroots level and empowering them to have a greater role in the push for both religious freedom and the family values lost in the sexual revolution. The hope is to show that questions on sexuality “cannot be separated from issues about economic well-being and poverty and human happiness.”

Pope Francis has been a leading voice advocating for women and the poor, Alvare said.  However, while the Pope has set “a wonderful tone” on these issues, she believes that “one of the signs of the times is that it cannot come from top down in the Church.”

“No matter how lovely a tone Pope Francis sets on empowering women and the poor, when the subject matter turns to sex, marriage and parenting, the powers that be don't want to hear from him or the Church in any level,” she said.

Rather, the argument needs to come from those who have supposedly been empowered by the sexual revolution – laity, and especially lay women.

When the Church hierarchy joins forces with laity and religious on the ground, they can have a powerful effect, Alvare said, and this includes reaching the people taken in by the agenda of the sexual revolution.

Speaking of the partnership the Holy See can have with NGOs and the people who run them, Gallagher in his speech highlighted several key areas of collaboration, the first being to advance the 2030 sustainable development goals, which Pope Francis has called “an important sign of hope” and which in large part are aimed at ending poverty, protecting the environment, and promoting education.

He also pointed to the issues of forced migration and displacement resulting in “unprecedented population shifts,” giving specific mention to the 2018 U.N. global compacts on migration and refugees.

Other major areas of concern, he said, are climate change and the promotion of an integral human ecology; the freedom of thought, conscience and religion, which includes concern for religious discrimination and persecution; and freedom of expression, as well as the freedom to convert.

While the global landscape in light of these issues might seem “immense and complex,” Gallagher said it is also promising, because the efforts that appear to be small are capable of “developing and achieving ends for the benefit of the common good of all.”

In a brief Q&A after his talk, Gallagher encouraged members of NGOs to be active and involved in the debate on relevant issues in their competence, keeping the papal representatives in the loop on the discussion and seeking advice or input from the Holy See when needed.

“Part of the thing about autonomy, is one shouldn't be waiting for instructions,” he said. “It's about working together, its about collaborative ministry together,” he said, adding that it's not about “a voice coming from on high saying, 'Do a,b,c'.”  

Responding to a question on his advice for Catholic doctors and medical personnel who work with Catholic-inspired medical organizations, Gallagher said the most important traits needed today are “great courage and sacrifice.”

Part of this courage also means exercising the right to follow their conscience. “We expect you to assert the rights of your conscience and that of your more vulnerable colleagues,” he said, adding that the role of the conscience for those working in the medical field right now “is absolutely fundamental.”

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