Vatican News Feed

ACI Prensa's latest initiative is the Catholic News Agency (CNA), aimed at serving the English-speaking Catholic audience. ACI Prensa (www.aciprensa.com) is currently the largest provider of Catholic news in Spanish and Portuguese.
  1. Chinese bishop forcibly removed from diocese still missing

    Vatican City, Jun 26, 2017 / 07:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Monday the Vatican issued a statement on the situation of the Chinese Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou, who has not been returned since being forcibly removed from his diocese by the Chinese state May 18.

    “The Holy See is observing with grave concern the personal situation of Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou, forcibly removed from his episcopal see some time ago,” read the June 26 statement by the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke.

    The Catholic community of the diocese and his family and friends remain with no news of the bishop’s whereabouts or of the reason for his removal, the statement continued.

    The Vatican-approved Bishop Shao, who is not recognized by the Chinese government, was summoned by their religious bureau on May 18 and has since not been heard from or returned, La Croix International reports.

    Following canon law, the Vatican confirmed Bishop Shao as the successor of the Wenzhou diocese on Sept. 21, 2016, following the death of his predecessor, Bishop Vincent Zhu Weifang. Since then he has been removed from the diocese or detained on four different occasions.

    He is not a part of the state-run Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) and is therefore part of the underground church not recognized by the communist government.

    The Vatican’s statement was issued in response to questions from journalists. There were reports last week claiming that the bishop had been spotted in the local airport with government officials, though the claim has not been substantiated and his present whereabouts are still unknown.

    “In this respect, the Holy See, profoundly saddened for this and other similar episodes that unfortunately do not facilitate ways of understanding, expresses the hope that Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin may return as soon as possible to the diocese and that he can be assured the possibility of serenely exercising his episcopal ministry,” the Vatican statement continued.

    “We are all invited to pray for Bishop Shao Zhumin and for the path of the Catholic Church in China.”

    Bishop Shao was first detained, along with three other priests, following the death of his predecessor, Bishop Zhu, preventing him from presiding over the funeral Mass.

    He was also detained just one month prior to this current detainment, from April 12-17, which ostensibly was to prevent him from celebrating the Triduum and Easter liturgies, which would have been his first time as head of the diocese.

    He is not the only Chinese bishop or Christian to be detained. Persecution of Christians in China varies by province, but certain provinces have seen an uptick in recent years.

    In Zhejiang province, where the Diocese of Wenzhou is located, more than 1,500 churches have been desecrated or demolished. Churches in Zhejiang have been ordered to stop displaying crosses and Christians there have been detained.

    Overall, the situation of religious freedom in China has deteriorated even more in recent years, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom noted in its 2017 annual report, as the country’s leader Xi Jingping has “further consolidated power” and worked to promote the “sinicization” of religion.

  2. Christ doesn’t promise freedom from difficulties, Pope says

    Vatican City, Jun 25, 2017 / 11:38 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis reminded the faithful that following Christ does not mean our lives will be free from all earthly troubles.

    “There is no Christian mission in the name of tranquility,” the Pope said, speaking to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square on June 25. “Difficulties and tribulations are part and parcel of evangelization.”

    Pope Francis reflected on the day’s Gospel, in which Jesus instructs his followers not to be afraid.

    “Jesus’ mission did not guarantee the disciples success, nor did it shield them from failure or suffering,” the Holy Father said.

    But Christ did promise them that he would always be with them as they faced the trials that were ahead.

    The same is true for us today, the Pope said. We should expect suffering and even persecution if we follow in the path of the crucified Christ, but at the same time, we can take comfort in knowing that “God does not abandon his children during the storm.”

    Sometimes this storm comes not in the form of active persecution, but in indifference, through “people who do not want to be awakened from a worldly numbness, who ignore the truth of the Gospel message and build their own ephemeral truth.”

    Regardless of the form that trials may take, we should persevere in faithfulness, he said, also reminding those gathered in the square to pray for those facing serious persecution. 

    “Jesus does not leave us alone because we are precious to Him.”

    Following the Angelus, the Pope offered prayers for landslide victims in southwestern China. He also offered a message to members of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church on the 150th anniversary of the canonization of St. Josaphat, as well as to Lithuanians celebrating Blessed Theofilius Matulonius. 

  3. The tale of Fr. Brochero: Gaucho priest, devil's worst nightmare

    Vatican City, Jun 25, 2017 / 02:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- If Jose Brochero doesn't sound like a Gaucho name, nothing does.

    Last year, Pope Francis canonized Saint Brochero, a fellow countryman from Argentina also known as the “Gaucho priest.”

    He was beatified in Sept. 2013 by Pope Francis, who said Fr. Brochero was a priest who truly “smelled of his sheep.” He was canonized Oct. 16, 2016.

    Saint Brochero was born Jose Gabriel del Rosario Brochero in Argentina in 1840, the fourth of ten children to Ignacio Brochero and Petrona Davila.

    St. Brochero entered seminary at the age of 16, and was ordained a priest at the age of 26 for the Archdiocese of Cordoba.

    As a priest, after teaching philosophy at a seminary for a few years, Fr. Brochero was assigned to the large diocese of St. Albert – 1,675 square miles with 10,000 far-flung parishioners in the rural, Great Highlands region of Argentina.

    Not deterred by altitude, distance or bad weather, Fr. Brochero was known for riding throughout the countryside of his parish on the back of a mule to bring his people the sacraments, always wearing a poncho and sombrero in the style of a gaucho, or Argentinian cowboy.

    On muleback, he carried an icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, his Mass kit and a prayer book on his travels so that he was always prepared to offer the sacraments. He established a House of Exercises where his people could participate in spiritual exercises, and helped found a school for girls.

    He is also credited with building post and telegraph stations, for building nearly 125 miles of roads, and for helping plan the railroad in the area.

    “Woe if the devil is going to rob a soul from me,” he is held to have said, capturing his determined spirit to be close to his people no matter what.

    Fr. Brochero was known for being particularly close to the poor and the sick, and helped care for those who contracted cholera during the epidemic in 1867. Eventually, he contracted leprosy from a leper in his parish, causing him to eventually become blind and deaf and to relinquish his parish duties, spending his last few years living with his sisters at home.

    Fr. Brochero died on Jan. 26, 1914. His last words were: “Now I have everything ready for the journey.”

    A few days after his death, the Catholic newspaper of Cordoba wrote: “It is known that Father Brochero contracted the sickness that took him to his tomb, because he visited at length and embraced an abandoned leper of the area.”  

    In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI approved a healing miracle attributed to Fr. Brochero, in which 13-year-old Nicolas Flores, who was in a vegetative state after a car accident, was cured through the intercession of the gaucho priest.

     

    An earlier version of this article was published on CNA July 14, 2016.

  4. Francis urges Serrans to 'keep moving forward' promoting vocations

    Vatican City, Jun 23, 2017 / 02:42 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis offered encouragement Friday to members of Serra International, which promotes religious vocations, urging them to persevere in their “beautiful vocation of being laity who are friends to priests” and to “(k)eep moving forward!”

    Pope Francis said June 23 that friendship “is central to the experience of faith.”

    Serra International is a lay apostolate dedicated to promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and does this by both prayer and assistance to discerners.

    Serra’s conference is taking place from June 22-25 in Rome under the theme Siempre Adelante, “keep moving forward.” Friday’s papal audience was open to all attendees after a Mass in St. Peter’s.

    Reflecting on friendship, Francis said that “the word ‘friend’ has become a bit overused.”

    “But, when Jesus speaks of ‘friends,’ he points to a hard truth: true friendship involves an encounter that draws me so near to the other person that I give something of my very self. Jesus says to his disciples: ‘No longer do I call you servants… but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you’. He thus establishes a new relationship between man and God, one that transcends the law and is grounded in trust and love.”

    Friends accompany us, he said. “They stand at our side, gently and tenderly, along our journey; they listen to us closely, and can see beyond mere words.”

    He linked this Christian idea of friendship to Serra’s work in promoting vocations and helping priests. They are “(f)riends who share the wonder of a vocation, the courage of a definitive decision, the joy and fatigue of ministry. Friends who can offer priests support and regard their generous efforts and human failings with understanding and tender love.”

    He compared their work to the home of Mary and Martha in the gospel, which Christ frequently visited and where he “was able to find rest and refreshment.”

    He then offered his reflections for the convention’s theme of Siempre Adelante.

    “Like you, I believe that this is a synonym for the Christian vocation,” he said. He compared the phrase to Christ's call to his disciples to go forward in their ministerial journey, and he cautioned against giving into fear on this journey.

    “Of course, we cannot make progress unless we take a risk,” he said. “We do not advance toward the goal if, as the Gospel says, we are afraid to lose our lives. No ship would ever set out into the deep if it feared leaving the safety of the harbour.”

    “On the other hand,” he said,” when Christians go about their daily lives without fear, they can discover God’s surprises.”

    He referenced the example of St. Junipero Serra, whom he canonized in Washington, D.C. in 2015, who, despite a limp, proceeded on his pilgrimage. He also warned against “museum Christians” who fear change.

    “It is better to go forward limping, and even at times to fall, while always trusting in the mercy of God,” he said.

    He concluded his speech by instructing them to not be afraid of changing the structures of their organization, humbly renouncing old roles and practices in favor of living their vocation.

    “So you too, siempre Adelante! With courage, creativity, and boldness,” he said.

    “The Church and priestly vocations need you. May Mary Most Holy, Mother of the Church and Mother of priests, be with you every step of the way And I ask you, please, pray for me!”

  5. Pope Francis meets Dutch king and queen, returns long-lost stick

    Vatican City, Jun 22, 2017 / 07:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Thursday Pope Francis met with King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, as part of the visit returning to them a long-lost royal stick of a 16th century Dutch king.

    An important diplomatic portion of the audience June 22, was the Vatican's return of the stick of William I, Prince of Orange, which until recently had remained lost in the Jesuit Catalan archives.

     

      The story of the long-lost stick of the Netherlands involves wars, a Spanish general, and Jesuits. Given by the Dutch Royalty to a commander in the army, he carried it into the Battle of Mookerheyde in 1574. Luigi of Nassau waved the stick in the battle. After its loss, it passed through the hands of a Spanish general to Catalan Jesuits, who stored it in their archives, and the stick was largely forgotten. On Thursday, #PopeFrancis returned the stick to the King and Queen of the Netherlands during their visit to the Vatican. #royalstick #Catholic #Vatican (????L'Osservatore Romano)

    A post shared by Catholic News Agency (@catholicnewsagency) on Jun 22, 2017 at 10:55am PDT

     

    The stick, which resembles a sort of scepter or baton, and depicts the coat of arms of William of Orange, was given by the 16th century Dutch royal to a Dutch commander in the Battle of Mookerheyde in 1574.

    The stick was waved by William's brother, Luigi of Nassau, during the battle.

    After it was lost, it came into the hands of a Spanish general and eventually a Jesuit general, until being returned Thursday, through the Vatican, to Willem-Alexander, current King of the Netherlands and Prince of Orange.

    According to a press release from the National Military Museum of the Netherlands, the delivery of the stick represents "a testimony of reconciliation, and of the current union between the two countries and religions."

    "It is also a symbol of the long journey that the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the Kingdom of the Netherlands, have passed from the past of rivalry, war and repression to a present of mutual respect and promotion of peace and human rights."

    The baton will be displayed to the public in the National Military Museum in Soesterberg, Netherlands from April 27 to the end of October 2018.

    According to a June 22 Vatican communique, in the audience the three cordially discussed topics “of shared interest,” including protection of the environment, the fight against poverty and how the Holy See and Catholic Church are contributing in these areas.

    Particular attention, it stated, was paid to “the phenomenon of migration, underlining the importance of peaceful co-existence between different cultures, and joint commitment to promoting peace and global security, with special reference to various areas of conflict.”

    They also shared reflections on the prospects of the European project. The private portion of the audience, which included both the King and the Queen, lasted 35 minutes.

    Queen Máxima, who was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, greeted Pope Francis in “porteño,” a dialect of Spanish spoken by people from the Río de la Plata basin of Argentina.

    “How are you? Delighted to see you again,” she said.

    During the visit Pope Francis gifted the royal couple a medallion depicting St. Martin of Tours, in the classic image of the saint dividing his cloak to give to a poor man.

    He also gave them the customary gift of copies of his environmental encyclical Laudato Si, his 2015 Apostolic Exhortation on the family “Amoris Laetitia,” and his 2013 exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium,” as well as a copy of his message for the 2017 World Day of Peace.

    For their part, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima gave the Pope a gift of Dutch flowers, white and yellow tulips from their country.

    Giving the gifts, they told Pope Francis that tulips aren't only for Easter, but could be planted in the Vatican.

    Afterward, the two met with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher.

    The Royal couple are in the midst of a state visit to the Italian Republic, taking place June 21-23.

    Before their meeting with the Pope, the King and Queen visited the Church of Saints Michael and Magnus, the national church of the Netherlands in Rome. Located next to the Vatican, it was built in 1140 in the place where pilgrims from the Netherlands met back in the 8th century.

    According to church statistics, Catholics currently make up 23 percent of the population of 17 million in the Netherlands.