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Pope Francis' message for Corpus Christi: Let yourself be broken for others

Rome, Italy, May 26, 2016 / 11:44 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In breaking bread for his disciples Christ gave an example of what it means to allow oneself to be broken for the good of others, Pope Francis said on the feast of Corpus Christi, explaining that it is the Eucharist which gives us the strength to do this.

“Jesus was broken; he is broken for us. And he asks us to give ourselves, to break ourselves, as it were, for others,” the Pope said May 26, during his homily for the Mass of the feast, said before the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of Rome.

Corpus Christi celebrates the institution of the Holy Eucharist and is marked by special displays of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, most notably Eucharistic processions.

During his homily, Pope Francis pointed to the many mothers and fathers who, “together with the slices of bread they provide each day on the tables of their homes, have broken their hearts to let their children grow, and grow well!”

Francis also noted how many Christians “as responsible citizens have broken their own lives to defend the dignity of all, especially the poorest, the marginalized and those discriminated against!”

“Where do they find the strength to do this? It is in the Eucharist: in the power of the Risen Lord’s love, who today too breaks bread for us and repeats: ‘Do this in remembrance of me.’”

The Pope recalled that the epistle for the Mass – St. Paul's recounting of the institution of the Eucharist in First Corinthians – is “the oldest testimony we have to the words of Christ at the Last Supper.”

By telling his disciples “do this,” Christ gives the command to repeat his own actions by which he gave us his own Body and Blood.

“Jesus gives the command to repeat this action by which he instituted the memorial of his own Pasch, and in so doing gives us his Body and his Blood. This action reaches us today: it is the 'doing' of the Eucharist which always has Jesus as its subject, but which is made real through our poor hands anointed by the Holy Spirit.”

Francis pointed to the day’s Gospel passage from John, which recounted the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish that fed a crowd of 5,000.

When Christ tells his disciples to “give them something to eat yourselves,” he is indicating that while he is the one who blesses and breaks the bread, providing enough to feed the entire hungry crowd, it is the disciples who offer the loaves and fish.

“Jesus wanted it this way: that, instead of sending the crowd away, the disciples would put at his disposal what little they had.”

The Pope then pointed to how the pieces of bread, once broken “by the holy and venerable hands” of Jesus, were then placed into “the poor hands of the disciples,” who distributed them to the people.

In distributing the bread to the hungry crowd, the disciples are able to share in Christ’s own action, giving the people something to eat.

“Clearly this miracle was not intended merely to satisfy hunger for a day, but rather it signals what Christ wants to accomplish for the salvation of all mankind, giving his own flesh and blood. And yet this needs always to happen through those two small actions: offering the few loaves and fish we have; receiving the bread broken by the hands of Jesus and giving it to all.”

The Pope said the breaking of the bread signifies another meaning of Christ's command to “do this in remembrance of me” – allowing ourselves to make sacrifices and to be broken for the good of others.

He noted how “breaking bread” became a sign for recognizing Christ and Christians, and pointed to several passages in scripture recounting how the disciples broke bread together.

“From the outset it is the Eucharist which becomes the center and pattern of the life of the Church.”

The Pope then pointed to the saints, both famous or anonymous, who have allowed themselves to be “broken” in order to “give something to eat” to their brethren.

Pope Francis concluded his homily by praying that the Eucharistic procession after Mass would be a response to Christ's command: “an action to commemorate him; an action to give food to the crowds of today; an act to break open our faith and our lives as a sign of Christ’s love for this city and for the whole world.”

In the Diocese of Rome, the celebration of Corpus Christi traditionally includes a Eucharistic procession from the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. The procession had traditionally been led by the Bishop of Rome, though Pope Francis did not elect to do so.

Instead, he traveled to Saint Mary Major separately to welcome the procession, which was led by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of the Diocese of Rome. The Pope then imparted Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament when it arrived.

During the procession, a monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament was carried through the street atop a white truck, protected by two deacons and illuminated by candles. Thousands of persons took part, including many of the prelates who concelebrated Mass with the Holy Father.

Exorcist says there's a demon that targets the family

Rome, Italy, May 26, 2016 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- There's a demon that specializes in attacking the family, said exorcist César Truqui, a priest who participated in a course on exorcism held in Rome last year.

Fr. Truqui warned that everything that is harming the family, including divorce, pleases the devil.

Speaking to the Italian weekly Tempi in 2015, the priest said that there is “a demon who specializes in the attack on the family, also cited in the story of Tobias, called 'Asmodeus.'”

In the Old Testament book, the demon is known to have killed seven of Sarah's husbands and was chained in the desert by Saint Rafael. The demon “is present” in many exorcisms, Fr. Truqui said.

The priest recalled encountering the demon “in exorcisms by Father Gabriele Amorth and Father Francisco Bamonte, whom I assisted.” The 90-year-old Fr. Amorth is a renowned exorcist in Rome who has performed an estimated 70,000 exorcisms over the course of 29 years. Carrying out an exorcism can require multiple sessions and each time the rite is administered it is counted as one instance.

“I remember a young couple, very united, who wanted to get married, however, the woman had to undergo an exorcism to be set free,” Fr. Truqi said.  

During the exorcism “the demon was furious and threatened Fr. Amorth in order to prevent the marriage, otherwise he would kill the young woman. Obviously, it was a threat from the Liar which in fact did not happen.”

In that regard, the priest added that the devil also seeks to attack the family through ideologies and lifestyles, as well as individualistic thinking and the spread of divorce.

“They think 'if I don't like my husband anymore, I would be better off divorcing' but they forget about the consequences to the children and society,” he said. “This mentality that works against the family pleases the devil – he knows that a man who is alone without any points of reference is manipulable and unstable.”  

“Even today, and I'm more than 50 years old, just thinking that my mother and father love each other forever, I find comfort and courage. In contrast, the children of separated parents are more fragile and wavering,” he said.

In 2014, Pope Francis gave an address to the Charismatic Renewal, in which he pointed out that the devil seeks to destroy families because that is where Jesus grows, in the midst of the love of the spouses and in the lives of their children.

“He grows in the love of the spouses, he grows in the lives of the children. And  that's why the enemy attacks the family so much. The devil does not love the family. He seeks to destroy it, he wants to eliminate love there,” he warned at Rome's Olympic stadium before 52,000 people.

On that day Francis reminded that “families are these domestic churches. The spouses are sinners, like everyone, but they want to progress in the faith, in their fruitfulness, in the children and their children's faith.”

And so he asked the Lord to “bless the family, make it strong, in this crisis in which the devil wants to destroy it.”

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What happens when an entire country becomes infested with demons? https://t.co/RyRTGkByRZ

— Catholic News Agency (@cnalive) May 25, 2016

How Catholic leaders are responding to the Queen's prison reform speech

London, England, May 26, 2016 / 12:26 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Catholic bishops of England and Wales are ready to support the government’s proposed prison reforms outlined in Queen Elizabeth II’s speech to Parliament.

“The Church has a strong practical contribution to make. Our chaplains work in every prison throughout England and Wales, and are often at the forefront of supporting prisoners in their rehabilitation,” Bishop Richard Moth of Arundel and Brighton said.

“This is a remarkable opportunity to place reform and redemption at the heart of our prisons,” he added. “It is only through a properly resourced system focused on genuinely helping people to turn their lives around that we will create a safer and more civilized society.”

Bishop Moth is the bishops’ liaison for prisons. He said recent conversations with the Minister for Prisons and his staff have been “extremely helpful.”

The bishop’s comments were a response to the queen’s May 18 speech to Parliament which summarized the legislative agenda.

“My government will legislate to reform prisons and courts to give individuals a second chance,” she said.

“Prison governors will be given unprecedented freedom and they will be able to ensure prisoners receive better education,” she added. “Old and inefficient prisons will be closed and new institutions built where prisoners can be put more effectively to work.”

She said there will be better mental health care for individuals in the criminal justice system.

Prisons will be required to publish statistics on education, reoffending, and inmates’ employment when they are released, BBC News reports.

There are pilot programs planned that will allow prisoners to become weekend inmates. The prisoners will spend weekdays at home and at work. Their movement will be monitored with GPS technology and satellite tracking tags.

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, in his comments on the queen’s speech, said that institutions for young offenders have not been working.

“They give the public the security of knowing that offenders are locked in but they're not doing enough to turn around the lives of people who will one day be let out,” he said.

He explained that prison reforms would draw on practices from other public service reforms like publishing results, giving proper control to administrators and “encouraging innovation, rewarding success and not tolerating persistent failure.”

Green MP Caroline Lucas has criticized the reform proposals, saying progress would be undermined by big cuts to prison budgets and overcrowding.

The queen’s speech also touched on anti-extremism measures.

“Legislation will be introduced to prevent radicalization, tackle extremism in all its forms, and promote community integration,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said Parliament’s expected anti-extremism legislation must be produced “with diligence and careful consideration.”

“It is vital that measures to keep the public safe do not inadvertently curtail free speech or alienate communities. The best way in which to undermine extremist beliefs will always be through the promotion of effective integration.”

Some Catholics and other commentators have voiced concern that measures apparently meant to counter Islamist extremism, such as the government’s push to teach “British values” in schools, could harm sincere religious believers and burden Catholic schools.

In 2014, government officials downgraded the high-performing St. Benedict's Catholic School in Suffolk because its students allegedly were not aware of the dangers of extremism and were not prepared for contemporary British life. The school said parents complained that the inspectors asked children as young as 10 about homosexual acts and transsexualism.

The Catholic Education Service demanded an apology for the action.

 

No, we didn’t hide money, Minnesota archdiocese says of abuse settlement

St. Paul, Minn., May 25, 2016 / 04:38 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis says his archdiocese has followed the law in its bankruptcy process, responding to claims by abuse victims that some assets were not made public.

“The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis has been fully cooperating with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court since filing in January of 2015,” Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis stated on Tuesday.

“Let me be clear: The Archdiocese has disclosed all of its assets and has followed all the rules set forth by the Court and all directives from the judge,” he continued.

An “unsecured creditors committee” and attorney Jeff Anderson, who represents hundreds of alleged Minnesota abuse victims, filed a motion on Monday claiming the archdiocese actually should have reported $1.7 billion in assets rather than the $49 million it reported in bankruptcy filings, according to the Associated Press.

They accused the archdiocese of hiding assets to protect them from payouts to abuse victims. The assets that should have been consolidated and included in the process included parishes, schools, cemeteries, and charitable organizations that consolidated together would have been worth $1.4 billion, they said. In addition, two other entities “controlled by the Archbishop” would be worth over $300 million.

All those entities should have been included in the reported assets of the archdiocese under “substantive consolidation,” the committee claimed.

In January of 2015, the archdiocese had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as more accusations of past sexual abuse of minors by clergy in the archdiocese had surfaced.

Then-Archbishop John C. Nienstedt had announced that “reorganization will allow the finite resources of the Archdiocese to be distributed equitably among all victims/ survivors.”

The archdiocese has worked to help ensure this distribution, Archbishop Hebda continued in his Monday statement. “I know that for at least the last 11 months we have been working extremely hard to marshal and maximize our assets with the hope of providing the most for the most,” he stated.

He added that the archdiocese will move forward with the bankruptcy proceedings. “Please continue to pray for all of those who have been sexually abused and for their families and for a quick resolution to these proceedings,” he insisted.

Archbishop Hebda was appointed to his position by Pope Francis in March after serving as apostolic administrator for the archdiocese since July of 2015. Then-Archbishop Nienstadt had resigned after the archdiocese was charged on six counts of failure to protect minors.

Those charges stemmed from the cases of one former priest Curtis Wehmeyer who was sentenced to five years in prison after he pled guilty to sexually abusing two boys and possessing child pornography. The archdiocese “turned a blind eye” to the situation, the prosecutor stated at the time.

Attorney Jeff Anderson, who has made millions off of suing the Catholic Church in the United States, has also represented abuse victims in several other states like Wisconsin, California, Iowa, and Delaware. His 2013 settlement with the archdiocese resulted in them making public additional names of priests “with substantiated claims of child sexual abuse”; ultimately they released 68 names of priests “with substantiated claims of sexual abuse of minors,” his website claimed.  

 

This priest in Cameroon evangelizes through soccer

Mamfe, Cameroon, May 25, 2016 / 04:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Father William Cañón is a Colombian missionary in Cameroon who transforms into a soccer coach every Sunday, helping to bring joy to some 60 local children through sport and camaraderie.

“After going to the Eucharist, we gather and provide a time of Christian formation; then, with my limited knowledge of sports, we play soccer,” Father Cañón told Pablo Romero of El Tiempo, a Colombian daily.

The missionary is a fan of Independiente Santa Fe, the Bogota football team which won the Copa Sudamericana last year. He has been a missionary to Mamfe, in southwestern Cameroon, since 2014.

Por intermedio del Padre William Cañón los niños de Fontem, Camerún aprenden a jugar al fútbol con la piel del León pic.twitter.com/KSA7uX94XI

— Ind. Santa Fe (@SantaFe) April 4, 2016 When he arrived in Cameroon he was assigned to a parish where the first evangelization has yet to be done: he found a people who still have customs such as polygamy, and a culture of machismo. They face disease, a shortage of food, and a lack of electricity and safe water.

But Father Cañón noticed the boys in Mamfe had a special love for soccer, and so he decided to take advantage of this opportunity to bring them closer to God. Every Sunday, he says Mass before roughtly 60 boys play soccer. Many of the children walk for up to three hours to get there, and the matches are held on a dirt  field with makeshift goals, and they always begin with a prayer.

“Seeing them arrive is an unimaginable sight. Some come barefoot, but with great joy on their faces. Most of them are spontaneous and sincere boys. And, above all, they're grateful, because it's the only time they have to have fun and dream. Despite the circumstances and difficulties, they're always there,” the priest told El Tiempo.

“Here the children are happy with little, and with the lives they have,” he added.

During the week, the priest says Mass every day at 6 am. Then he heads off to the local hospital where he spends almost the entire day as the chaplain.

Independiente Santa Fe was moved hearing about  the missionary's work. During a trip to Colombia, he asked for donations for his Cameroon team and they gave him soccer balls and Santa Fe uniforms for the boys.

“I'm very grateful to God for this beautiful opportunity that he's given me. And to Santa Fe, for the uniforms. From here, I continue to support my team,” he told El Tiempo.