Ascension Catholic Church


Pope Francis: cardinals went to end of world to find me

Vatican City, Mar 13, 2013 / 01:55 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis began his first words to the Church by saying that the cardinals “went to the end of the world” to find the new Bishop of Rome.

“Brothers and Sisters, good evening. You know that the charge of the conclave was to give a bishop of Rome.

“It would seem that my brothers went to the end of the world to choose him,” he said March 13 from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Pope then called on the crowd of tens of thousands to pray for “our Bishop Emeritus Benedict.”

“This way of the Church that we commence on,” he said, is one of “an evangelization in this beautiful city.”

Before he closed his remarks, Pope Francis asked the crowd for the favor of praying for him in silence before he gave his blessing.

He then bowed at the waist as silence settled over St. Peter’s Square.

The Pope blessed the throng of people, saying, “I give my blessing to you and all people of good will in the world.”

“I’m going to say goodbye now, thank you so much for your welcome.

I say good night “because tomorrow I want to go and pray to Mary for her protection.”

A marching band playing and the bells of St. Peter’s ringing in the night followed Pope Francis’ first words.


Archbishops Aquila, Chaput welcome Pope Francis

Denver, Colo., Mar 13, 2013 / 01:50 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- American archbishops Samuel J. Aquila and Charles J. Chaput voiced gratitude to Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, for accepting election as Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Christ today.

“Today is a day of great joy for the entire Church. Pope Francis has been called to the ministry of St. Peter: to be the 'visible source and foundation' of unity in the Church,” Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of the Denver archdiocese told CNA shortly after the announcement.

“As we rejoice, Pope Francis begins what will be the most difficult period of his life. Join me in giving thanks and praise to the Father for the gift of Pope Francis. And join me in prayer and fasting for his ministry.”

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia stated that Pope Francis “is a man from the new heartland of the global Church; a priest of extraordinary intellectual and cultural strengths; a man deeply engaged in the issues of contemporary life and able to speak to the modern heart; open to the new realities the Church faces; and rooted in a deep love of Jesus Christ.”

“He is a wonderful choice; a pastor God sends not just to the Church but to every person of good will who honestly yearns for justice, peace and human dignity in our time,” added Archbishop Chaput.

“May God grant him courage and joy, and sustain him with his divine presence. And may Catholics in Philadelphia and around the world lift him up with our prayers.”

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. He is a Jesuit and is 76. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1958, and obtained a licentiate in philosophy. He was ordained a priest in 1969, and was a theology professor. He was a provincial leader for the Society and a seminary rector.

He is the first Jesuit Pope, and the first Pope from the New World. He was elected in a 24 hour conclave on the fifth ballot.

In a public statement, Archbishop Aquila added that the Petrine ministry was founded by Christ giving Saint Peter the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.

“For two thousand years, the successors of St. Peter have served as the, Pope Francis takes up the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. His leadership, his guidance, and his friendship with Jesus Christ will guide Christ's disciples for the years to come.”

Archbishop Aquila asked that Catholic join him in thanking God the Father for the gift of Pope Francis.

“Please join me too in prayer for his ministry,” he added. “And let us to commit to joining Pope Francis in a life of service, fidelity, and friendship with Jesus Christ, our savior and brother.”


Cardinal Bergoglio elected as Pope Francis

Vatican City, Mar 13, 2013 / 01:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires has become the next Pope of the Catholic Church, taking the name Francis.

Pope Francis greeted the crowds of faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square shortly after 8:00 p.m. local time, after spending time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament in the Pauline Chapel.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. He is a Jesuit and is 76. He is the first Latin American Pope and the first Jesuit Pope. In 2005, he received the second-most votes in the conclave that elected Pope Benedict.

He entered the Society of Jesus in 1958, and obtained a licentiate in philosophy. He was ordained a priest in 1969, and was a theology professor. He was a provincial leader for the Society and a seminary rector.

The College of Cardinals came to an agreement on the Holy Father’s election the afternoon of March 13, after a total of four inconclusive votes earlier that day and the previous day.

Two-thirds of the cardinals present – in this case, 77 of 115 – are necessary to elect a new Pontiff.



White smoke from Vatican chimney, new Pope to be announced

Vatican City, Mar 13, 2013 / 12:06 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- White smoke billowing from the Sistine Chapel’s chimney on March 13 indicated that the
College of Cardinals had chosen a new Pope.

The identity of the new Holy Father will be revealed shortly, and he will greet the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square from the balcony of the basilica.

The smoke, which was seen rising from the chimney at 7:06 p.m. local time, was
accompanied by the ringing of bells at St. Peter’s to tell the world that two-thirds of the 115 cardinals gathered in the conclave had come to an agreement in casting their ballots for the new Pope.

The voting began on the evening of March 12, yielding an initial inconclusive vote marked by black smoke.


LA archdiocese settles sex abuse case for nearly $10 million

Los Angeles, Calif., Mar 13, 2013 / 11:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has agreed to pay $9.99 million to settle a case brought by four supposed sex abuse victims of Michael Baker, who was formerly a priest of the archdiocese.

The cases allege that Baker sexually abused the boys on multiple occasions as early as the 1970s. Baker was ordained a priest in 1974, and resigned from the priesthood in 2000.

As part of the settlement, announced March 12, none of the parties admit wrongdoing.

In 2007, Baker plead guilty to 12 counts of molesting two minors, and was jailed. He was released in 2011.

The same year as Baker's conviction, the Los Angeles archdiocese made a “global settlement” with more than 500 alleged victims of clergy abuse for some $660 million.

In January, the archdiocese released personnel files dating from 1986 and 1987, which were filed as evidence in litigation involving Baker and another ex-priest, Nicholas Aguilar Rivera.

The files showed that in the late 1980s, Cardinal Roger Mahony – then the archbishop of Los Angeles – and Bishop Thomas Curry, who was then archdiocesan vicar of clergy, corresponded often about dealing with priests who had sexually abused minors, including Baker.

Despite this, Baker was not removed from ministry until 2000.

On Jan. 31, Archbishop José Gomez, the current head of the archdiocese, announced that with the release of Baker's, and other priests' personnel files, Cardinal Mahony and Bishop Curry would no longer have any official duties in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Archbishop Gomez, who was appointed Los Angeles' coadjutor bishop in 2010, announced that “I find these files to be brutal and painful reading...We need to acknowledge that terrible failure today.”

Cardinal Mahony led the Los Angeles archdiocese for 26 years. On Feb. 1, he released a letter he wrote to Archbishop Gomez explaining his history of dealing with clergy sexual abuse.

“Nothing in my own background or education equipped me to deal with this grave problem,” he said.

He reproached his archbishop for not expressing displeasure with his policies before now.

“Not once over these past years did you ever raise any questions about our policies, practices, or procedures in dealing with the problem of clergy sexual misconduct involving minors.”

Archbishop Gomez' decision to relieve Bishops Mahony and Curry of their duties in his archdiocese has been widely welcomed, with local author and historian Charles Coulombe calling it “the best possible thing he could have done.”

“In every way seemingly, he's the opposite of his predecessor, and that's what we need,” Coulombe told CNA last month.

The Los Angeles archdiocese now provides training for both adults and children about how to prevent abuse. It has been found in compliance with every audit of child protection measures, which have been conducted since 2004.


Healthier cardinals means earlier smoke signals

Vatican City, Mar 13, 2013 / 09:05 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The smoke signals that indicate whether or not a new Pope has been chosen might be earlier than in the past because there are no cardinals in the infirmary.

According to the Vatican’s press office director Father Federico Lombardi, “the rapidity of the vote shows it. Making use of the 'Infirmarii' (those who bring one of the voting urns to any cardinals who are too ill to attend the proceedings in the Sistine Chapel) would require more time.”

In fact, all 115 cardinal electors are present in the Sistine Chapel, even though one African cardinal is in a wheelchair and Cardinal Ivan Dias is using arm braces to walk.

They each required a nurse to help them into the conclave, and those medical assistants remained with them inside, Fr. Lombardi said at a March 13 press briefing.

The smoke, known as the “fumata” in Italian, was originally forecast to be visible around noon and 7:00 p.m. any day after the first evening of the conclave.

Last night’s smoke was expected around 8:00 p.m. because the conclave heard a meditation before its first vote.

But the first black smoke appeared at 7:42 p.m., almost 20 minutes early.

The next signal would normally have been seen at close to noon, however it rose from the smoke stack at 11:40 a.m., in keeping with the pattern of the night before.

Fr. Lombardi also mentioned that the Vatican received numerous phone calls from concerned locals who thought that the amount of smoke must have meant that something went wrong and that it also got inside the chapel.

“The smoke didn't damage any of Michelangelo's frescos or endanger the health of the cardinals,” he said.

“The prelates are all doing well, are in good spirits, and this morning some even walked to the Pauline Chapel, where they celebrated Mass before entering the Sistine Chapel,” Fr. Lombardi added.

The stove that generates the smoke is outfitted with a device that accepts a cartridge containing five doses of a chemical compound that will produce about seven minutes of black or white smoke that mingles with the smoke from the ballots.

The black smoke is produced by a mixture of potassium perchlorate, anthracene, and sulphur, while the white smoke is made by burning a mixture of potassium chlorate, lactose, and rosin – a natural amber resin.


Three cardinals entered conclave with strong candidacies

Vatican City, Mar 13, 2013 / 08:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Last night black smoke poured out of the Sistine Chapel smoke stack, leaving no doubt that a single cardinal was unable to reach the two-thirds of the vote needed to be elected the next Pope.

In 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – according to a cardinal’s diary published in 2006 in the Italian magazine Limes – got 47 votes out of 115 on the first scrutiny, and the consensus around him grew until he overtook the two-thirds margin on the fourth vote and was elected Pope. The election lasted less than one full day.

But this time around, will there be a cardinal that can accomplish Cardinal Ratzinger’s feat? Apparently the answer is no.

According to several sources who gave their analyses to CNA before the conclave – including a cardinal’s secretary and some personnel who work inside the Vatican – three cardinals entered the conclave with a considerable package of votes: the Brazilian Odilo Pedro Scherer, the Canadian Marc Ouellet and the American Timothy Dolan.

Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan probably took a portion of the votes, but not as much as one might expect.

He comes from Communion and Liberation – a Church movement that has pontifical approval and whose founder’s cause for sainthood is being considered – but he has worked to shed the image of being a movement follower.

Cardinal Scola, who is well connected with the media, was reported by the Italian daily La Stampa as addressing head-on the issue of whether or not he is considered a papal contender, saying that he did not want to hear anyone approach him with a deal or a bargain.

And Rocco Buttiglione – an Italian politician who is a long-time friend of Scola – gave an interview recently to the Italian newspaper Il Giornale in which he explained “Scola distanced himself from Communion and Liberation almost 20 years ago, when the most political faction of the ecclesiastical movement (which he did not agree with) came to power.”

The Communion and Liberation scandals are mostly an Italian story. During the 1990s, many members of the movement entered politics. Things were more or less uneventful until 2012, when some of them were investigated for allegations of kickbacks and money laundering.

These developments meant that Scola needed to clean his image up in Italian press.

He will not presumably get the votes of Italian cardinals, and he will not probably get the votes of the Latin-American cardinals.

On Italian side, Scola’s appointment to an important archdiocese made part of the country’s bishops very upset. He was appointed Archbishop of Milan from his previous post as Patriarch of Venice, in an unprecedented decision by Pope Benedict XVI. There were many within the Italian episcopate that either wanted to be appointed to Milan or to have one of their protégés in the post.

The Latin American cardinals just have a different approach to the papal vote and not many of them seem to appreciate Communion and Liberation.

But Scola is able to build a certain consensus in Europe – where bishops and priests appreciated his theological works. He also is looked upon favorably in some Middle-Eastern countries as well, thanks to Oasis, a magazine and cultural center he that created as a bridge to the East. The magazine is in multiple languages including Arabic and Urdu, with showed his attention to Islam and Christianity in those countries.

Scola’s candidacy is one that will result from a compromise among the cardinals, and he knows that.

The prominent Vatican analyst Sandro Magister told CNA March 12 that this is why Scola would back Dolan as the new Pope for the first rounds of voting.  

According to a source aware of their discussions, Cardinal Dolan could have received all 11 votes from the American cardinals as well.

The anonymous source said that Cardinal Francis George called on his fellow Americans to “vote for Timothy,” at least in the first ballots, likely resulting in a consensus of around 20 or 30 votes.

He could make the cut to be the next Pope, but he needs to reach the 77-vote threshold by the fifth scrutiny, which will take place Wednesday evening.

If no clear candidate emerges by the fifth round, the cardinals will seek a new person.

Cardinal Scola is a likely a compromise solution. He could be planning a late entry into the race, after the cardinals see that the initial candidates are not able to draw enough votes.  

According to a March 12 report in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Scola had secured the backing of up to 50 electors prior to the conclave starting. He is still far from the 77 cardinals needed to be the new Pope, but maybe – if he enters the race this afternoon – he will get some of the votes that previously went to Scherer and Dolan.

It seems possible that the cardinals will not reach an agreement even today. In that case, the new Pope would be elected on Thursday, at the third day of scrutiny.

Names to watch as possible second round candidates are: Cardinal Vinko Pulji of Sarajevo, who earned respect for his work in Catholic-Muslim dialogue; Cardinal Péter Erd? of Budapest, a canon law expert who is of the Ratzinger school, and would also get the vote of Cardinal Bertone’s side of the Curia cardinals who are now presumably voting for Cardinal Ouellet; and finally Cardinal Willem Eijk of Utrecht in the Netherlands who is respected among the European Episcopal Conferences and is well regarded in Rome.

Will the new Pope come from this set of three?

Knowing for sure what the cardinals are inclined to do would help the analysis, but the nature of conclaves is that nothing is ever certain. Inside the Sistine Chapel’s walls the cardinals’ tendencies and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit might make things very different than what they were on outside.


No Pope after third round of voting

Vatican City, Mar 13, 2013 / 05:33 am (CNA/EWTN News).- At 11:38 a.m. local time on March 13, black smoke rose from the Sistine Chapel’s chimney, indicating that the cardinals gathered at the Vatican have not yet reached an agreement on the next Pope.

Voting began on the evening of March 12, yielding an initial inconclusive vote marked by black smoke at 7:43 p.m. local time.

Tow more rounds of voting will be held in the afternoon, with a smoke signal expected between 7:00p.m. and 8:00p.m.

As a general rule four rounds of voting and two smoke signals will take place each day, until a Pope is chosen. The exception to that rule occurs when a Pope is selected on either the morning of the afternoon’s first ballot. In that case, the smoke will be seen around10:30 a.m. or 5:30 p.m.

This conclave seems to proceeding quickly with the votes, usually sending up smoke signals on the earlier side of the expected time window.

When 77 of the 115 cardinal electors – two-thirds – give their vote to one candidate agreement, white smoke will be sent up from the chimney and the bells of St. Peter’s will toll, signaling that a new Holy Father has been chosen.

The cardinals will spend time in prayer each day of the conclave, asking the Holy Spirit to lead them in the process of electing the new Pontiff.

If there is no Pope by Friday night, the cardinals will rest on Saturday and voting will resume again on Sunday.


Benedictine monk: reverent liturgy helps us encounter Christ

La Garde-Freinet, France, Mar 13, 2013 / 04:05 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Celebrating the liturgy with reverence and beauty helps facilitate the encounter with Christ during the Mass, reflected a monk involved in organizing a conference on liturgy in Rome this summer.

“Our liturgical nourishment must be ample and in accord with the mind and tradition of the Church if we are to take our place in the world as witnesses to the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Dom Alcuin Reid, a Benedictine monk who hails from France, told CNA March 8.

Dom Reid said the importance of “liturgical nourishment” is analogous the importance of bodily nutrition, noting how “we know how essential it is for children to receive the sufficient and correct nutrition if they are to grow into healthy adults.”

Dom Reid is assisting Bishop Dominique Rey of the Fréjus-Toulon diocese in organizing “Sacra Liturgia 2013,” a conference which will discuss the role of the liturgy as a foundation for the Church's mission, all in the context of the Year of Faith.

“Sacra Liturgia 2013” will be held in Rome June 25-28, and will include speakers as well as celebrations of Mass and Vespers.

The conference is being co-sponsored by The Cardinal Newman Society, Ignatius Press, De Montfort Music, and other groups.

Speakers include Cardinals Malcolm Ranjith and Leo Burke; Archbishop Alexander Sample; Monsignor Guido Marini; and Tracey Rowland. Topics include such things as “liturgical catechesis and the New Evangelization” and “the Sacred Liturgy and the New Communities.”

Bishop Rey told New Liturgical Movement that he hopes the conference “will help further the liturgical renewal so dear to Pope Benedict’s heart and demonstrate liturgical foundation the of New Evangelization in this Year of Faith.”

“The purpose of evangelization,” Dom Reid said, is to bring people to an encounter with the person Jesus Christ.

How we encounter Christ, he said, is precisely “in his Church through the liturgy, in the sacraments and other rites.”

“Baptism establishes the life of Christ within me...the Eucharist completes this initiation and sustains me in the Christian life. Through the Prayer of the Church I join him in offering praise, thanksgiving and supplication to the Father.”

“Through the sacraments of matrimony and holy orders I am given the grace necessary for my vocation. In confession I meet the healing mercy of Christ when I am wounded by sin,” reflected Dom Reid.

Thus, the celebration of the liturgy is central to our relationship with Christ. While “some see it as  enough that these rites are celebrated validly and licitly,” Dom Reid said it is “hardly sufficient.”

“If we take seriously that fact that we are bodily, sensual creatures whose connection with Christ is by means of created signs...we will celebrate the liturgy as well as we possibly can so as to optimize our connection, as bodily and psychological creatures, with the person of Jesus Christ.”

Liturgy matters, Dom Reid said, because “that connection is the foundation of all evangelization.”

He offered two contrasting examples, showing how different ways of celebrating Mass can have “very different effects” on those attending. A priest whose manner of celebrating Mass suggests reverence, profound faith, and “awe for the mysteries celebrated” may “easily bridge the way for those assembled to encounter Christ.”

On the other hand, a priest who emits “a desire to be finished as soon as possible,” even though his Mass is licit and valid, will be “mitigating optimal connection with the action of Christ,” at the level of human engagement.

“Where the liturgy is celebrated well, fully, making use of the multivalent riches of Catholic liturgical tradition, I am likely to be more engaged, better connected, with Christ,” Dom Reid concluded.

In announcing “Sacra Liturgia 2013,” Bishop Rey noted that “the Sacred Liturgy is at the centre of the new evangelization” and that the conference would be “focusing on the liturgy and liturgical formation as the point of departure for the new evangelization.”

Dom Reid echoed this, saying that “our Christian life and formation is essentially liturgical – only from that are we able to go out as evangelists.”

He even went so far as to say, “there is no such thing as an un-liturgical Catholic.”

The approach to liturgy should be one that seeks the beautiful and the best because “if the liturgy is celebrated in a minimalistic way – or worse, if it is abused by individuals or groups in a way the Church neither intends or permits – then my formation will be deficient,” said Dom Reid.

“My connection with Christ will be impeded and my opportunities to thank God or to seek his healing and strength will be jeopardized.”

Benedict XVI set an example for the proper place of liturgy in the Christian life, Dom Reid suggested. He referenced his words, spoken while prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, that “the true celebration of the sacred liturgy is at the centre of any renewal of the Church whatever.”

While “in recent decades” the importance of liturgical nourishment “has not, perhaps, been well appreciated,” Dom Reid said that Benedict's 2007 apostolic exhortation “Sacramentum Caritatis” was a reminder that “our liturgical diet has to be more than the mere minimum.”

Dom Reid concluded by saying that “when the sacred liturgy – old or new – is celebrated according to this spirit (of richness and beauty) it forms and sustains us in the life of faith and in our mission in the world.”


Champion of 'feminine genius' celebrated on 90th birthday

Alexandria, Va., Mar 13, 2013 / 02:03 am (CNA).- On her 90th birthday, noted philosopher and Catholic theologian Alice von Hildebrand has been lauded for both her teachings and example of “authentic womanhood.”

“Alice von Hildebrand has written eloquently on the beauty of femininity,” John Henry Crosby, director of the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project, told CNA March 12.

“Yet what makes her such a compelling proponent is that she embodies in her own person the grace, depth, receptivity – and, indeed, the genius – of authentic womanhood.”

March 11 marked von Hildebrand's 90th birthday. She is regarded as a pillar of courage, knowledge, and wit, and is well known in the Catholic world and beyond.

von Hildebrand is a philosopher and theologian and spent 37 years as a professor of philosophy at Hunter College in New York City. Hunter College is a private, secular institution, yet Alice was able to spend many years their influencing the thought of students.

“Nowadays, Alice von Hildebrand writes for a worldwide audience of devoted fans. Yet we cannot forget that her gifts were honed in the crucible of tremendous opposition she endured during her thirty-seven years as professor of philosophy in a secular university,” Crosby said.

“Her witness needs to be emulated, for she did not rail against her situation; rather, she became an extraordinary teacher who won over thousands of students by persuasion, intelligence, and wit.”

She is the widow of Dietrich von Hildebrand, also a philosopher and theologian. They were married from 1957 until his death in 1977, and co-authored several books. Many of his works were publicized because of her efforts typing and editing his manuscripts.

Crosby noted that von Hildebrand “has devoted her life to promoting the thought of her late husband, the great Catholic philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand. She has no equal in her ability to distill his profound insights into practical wisdom.”

Alice herself is the author of “Greek Culture,” “Introduction to a Philosophy of Religion,” “By Love Refined: Letters to a Young Bride,” and “The Privilege of Being a Woman,” among other works.

She is also a guest columnist at Catholic News Agency.

The occasion of her 90th birthday is being celebrated with a year-long exploration of her “rich life and innumerable contributions” by the Dietrich von Hildebrand Legacy Project.

“Great and inspiring lives need to be celebrated – to honor those who have lived them, to be sure, but perhaps even more so to awaken us all to the beauty of giving ourselves totally and generously to our particular vocations,” Crosby wrote in an announcement of the initiative.