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Pope Francis sends poor, needy to major Roman sporting event

Vatican City, May 25, 2018 / 05:54 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Next week the poor, homeless, refugees, migrants and needy around Rome will be offered free tickets to the city's Golden Gala, an international track and field event that happens annually in the Eternal City.

Set to take place in Rome's Olympic stadium May 31, the gala will begin at 2p.m., with the last event starting at 10:25p.m. Events slated for the gala include a discus throw, relay races, pole vault jumps, hurdles and Paralympic courses for both men and women.

The gala was established in 1980 by Italian sports official and then-president of the Italian Athletics Federation (FIDAL) Primo Nebiolo as a way to gather athletes and individuals from the United States and NATO countries who boycotted the Moscow Olympics in wake of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Francis' guests will enter the event free of charge thanks to FIDAL, and they will be accompanied by volunteers from the Community of Sant'Egidio, the Cooperativa Auxilium – an Italian co-op that offers welfare services to the disadvantaged – and Athletica Vaticana, the running association for employees of the Holy See.

The goal of the event, according to the papal almoner's office, is to offer the poor “an evening of celebration and friendship through the beauty of [sports]” and to place greater emphasis on the importance of hospitality and solidarity.
 
In addition to their free entry, those who come with the papal almoner will be offered a sack dinner.

Such initiatives on the part of the pope are not uncommon. He frequently invites the poor, homeless, migrants and refugees to special events such as concerts, tours of the Vatican Museums and days at the beach. Showers and haircuts are also available inside St. Peter's Square courtesy of the papal almoner.

The man who heads the papal charity office, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, was recent tapped by Francis to become a cardinal. He will get his red hat from the pope during a June 29 consistory, showing the importance Pope Francis places on service to the poor.

Report: Pope Francis affirms Church practice against admitting gay men to seminary

Vatican City, May 24, 2018 / 11:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a closed-door speech to Italian bishops on Monday, Pope Francis spoke about the number and quality of seminary candidates, including concerns about their sexual orientation.

At the start of his May 21 audience with Italian bishops, Pope Francis voiced three areas of concern for the Church in Italy, the first of which was the lack of vocations.

Francis' brief remarks on his concerns, which also touched on evangelical poverty and transparency and the incorporation of Italian dioceses, were televised; however, his discussion with the bishops afterward was not.

In his public remarks on vocations, Pope Francis lamented the culture of the provisional, of relativism, and of the dictatorship of money, which hinder young people from discerning consecrated life. He also proposed that Italian dioceses with an abundance of vocations lend some of their priests to those Italian dioceses lacking in priests.

But in the discussion that followed the pope told the bishops to care more for the quality of seminary candidates than the quantity. Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti of Perugia-Citta della Pieve, president of the Italian bishops' conference, confirmed Francis' comments about homosexuality in a May 24 press conference.

The Pope touched on the topic of homosexuality, particularly when it comes to individuals with “deep-seated tendencies” or who practice “homosexual acts”, yet who want to enter the seminary.

In these cases, “if you have even the slightest doubt it's better not to let them enter,” Francis said, according to Vatican Insider, because these acts or deep-seated tendencies can lead to scandals and can compromise the life of the seminary, as well as the man himself and his future priesthood.

Pope Francis' comments were made during the opening May 21 session of the 71st general assembly of the Italian bishops' conference.

However, the pope's statements on the issue of homosexuality and the seminary reflect the Church's teaching on the topic.

In the 2016 edition of the Congregation for Clergy's ratio on priestly formation, the dicastery had written that “in relation to people with homosexual tendencies who approach seminaries, or who discover this situation in the course of formation, in coherence with her own magisterium, 'the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called “gay culture”.'”

The ratio quoted from the Congregation for Catholic Education's 2005 instruction “Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders.”

The instruction noted that those who practise homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the gay culture “find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women. One must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies.”

It distinguished those with deep-seated homosexual tendencies from those “with homosexual tendencies that were only the expression of a transitory problem - for example, that of an adolescence not yet superseded.”

Men with transitory homosexual tendencies could be admitted to seminary, the congregation wrote, though “such tendencies must be clearly overcome at least three years before ordination to the diaconate.”

The instruction drew, in turn, from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a 1985 memo from the Congregation for Catholic Education, and a 2002 letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship.

Though Pope Francis has not addressed the topic publicly, he alluded to problems of homosexuality in seminary formation during a recent meeting with Chilean bishops.

In a letter written to the bishops which was leaked to Chilean media, the pope issued a sharp correction of his brother prelates for a systematic cover-up of clerical abuse in the country.

One footnote in the letter noted how abuses were not limited to just one person or group, but was rather the result of a fractured seminary process.

In the case of many abusers in Chile, Francis noted how problems had been detected while they were in seminary or the novitiate, but rather than expelling these individuals, some bishops or superiors “sent priests suspected of active homosexuality to these educational institutions.”

After five decades, Pacem in terris is still relevant, Francis says

Vatican City, May 24, 2018 / 05:29 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Speaking about St. Pope John XXIII’s encyclical on establishing universal peace, Pacem in terris, Pope Francis said that even 55 years after its publication, the document still stands as “a permanent commitment” to peace.

Even if the way war is carried out has changed since the time when the encyclical was written, and today there appears to be more violence and conflict than in the past, St. John XXIII’s reflections “remain valid,” he said.

In an interview published May 24 in “L’Eco di Bergamo,” a newspaper of the northern Italian town of Bergamo, Francis said he is concerned about the ways violence occurs, not only with weapons, but with “mechanisms of oppression.”

Imbalances linked to the “reckless exploitation of men and of the resources of nature” are a cause for concern today, he continued, underlining that peace cannot only “be linked to the absence of war,” but must involve the “integral development of people and populations.”

The job of the Church is not to “make governments change,” he said, but to bring the “logic of the Gospel into the thinking and gestures” of those who govern.

It must be understood that “the commitment for social groups and states is to live relationships of justice and solidarity that cannot be just words.” Instead, “every form of selfishness, individualism, group interest” must be overcome at all levels of society.

The pope granted the interview for the occasion of a visit of St. John XXIII’s remains to the Diocese of Bergamo.   

Exposed for veneration at an altar inside St. Peter’s Basilica, the saint’s body has returned to his home diocese May 24-June 10 to mark the 55th anniversary of his death and the publication of the encyclical Pacem in Terris.

This visit is “a gift and an occasion” for a new journey of faith, the pope said. Especially for the elderly, poor, and sick, or anyone else who may not be able to visit St. Peter’s Basilica to venerate the saint.

St. John XXIII, he said, was “a man, a saint who did not know a contrary word, who did not like words like crusades or proselytism and who instead always sought what unites, who trusted in God and in man in his image.”

The ‘Good Pope,’ Francis said, believed that the Church is called to serve all people, “not only Catholics,” and to “defend above all and everywhere the rights of the human person…aware that the pope must build bridges.”

St. John XXIII also invites people “to look at what really matters,” he said, noting how his predecessor would keep a crucifix hanging opposite his bed so that it was the first thing he would see when he woke in the mornings.

The saint knew that “Christianity is not an ideal to follow, a philosophy to adhere to or a moral to be applied,” but “an encounter with Jesus Christ that makes us recognize in the flesh of brothers and sisters his very presence,” Pope Francis stated, encouraging people to serve the poor and sick – anyone who cannot give anything in return.

The story of St. John XXIII is filled with examples of “these gestures of closeness” with people who suffered, whether they were Catholics, Orthodox, or Jews, he said.

In the interview Francis also spoke about the future of Christianity, stating that identifying Christianity with Western culture in an absolute fashion “no longer makes sense” and that the future of Christianity will be “more concretely Catholic, universal, fully ecclesial,” and respectful of other cultures – for example in Africa, Asia and Latin America – or else risk “irrelevance.”

‘The most welcoming place’ - How the Church can reach out to the LGBT community

Vatican City, May 23, 2018 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- Daniel Mattson is accustomed to talking about same-sex attraction.

He’s written a book on the subject, and he speaks to audiences often about his experience as a Catholic striving to follow the Church’s teaching about chastity. In a recent interview with CNA, Mattson offered some lessons the Church can learn about engagement with the LGBT community.

The first of these, he told CNA May 23, is having "the confidence that what the Church has is truly good news for the LGBT community.”

“That is what is lacking, and I just wish that we would not be afraid of it,” he said, encouraging Catholics to be open in talking about Church teaching.

The goal is not to proselytize, he said but to explain the truth and beauty of Church teaching on the issue - “not what you think it is, but what it really is,” he said.

Mattson mentioned the Gospel scene when in Jesus stops the execution by stoning of a woman caught in adultery.

“We cannot be more compassionate than Jesus,” he said, explaining that he often identifies with the woman in the story, who, though broken, meets Jesus and is invited to something more for her life.

The Church, Mattson said, must have “that welcoming message of Christ that says 'I do not have any condemnation for you, but go and sin no more.'” And part of sinning no more, he said, is an invitation “to a richer life.”

“I want to get the Church excited to talk about this,” Mattson said.

Mattson is the author of the 2017 book “Why I Don't Call Myself Gay,” which describes his experience with same-sex attraction and his decision to live according to Catholic moral teaching.

Visiting Rome for the launch of the Italian-language version of his book, Mattson gave a speech May 23 at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, during which he offered his testimony, sharing that he was raised in a Christian family, his experiences being bullied as a child, and the experience of sexual confusion during his childhood and teenage years.

He also spoke about an addiction to pornography and an anger towards God over his same-sex feelings, prompting him to leave his faith later in life, and live out his same-sex desires in partnerships. Mattson said doing so only made him feel unhappy and lonely, and said it wasn't until he turned to the Church that he found true fulfillment, by living out her teachings.

In his comments to CNA after, Mattson said personal witness is the key to reaching out to people experiencing same-sex attraction.

In this sense, he said, the Church needs to give more visibility to the people with same-sex attraction who have opted to live celibate lives. He pointed to Courage International, an organization that counsels individuals with same-sex attraction who chose to live according to Church teaching.

“We're just sitting over here quietly abiding by every word of the Catholic Church and finding it to be the recipe for happiness, and we don't get much attention,” Mattson said.

The people who have tried living the LGBT lifestyle and “found it empty,” he said, “want to share what we found with the LGBT community and invite them into the full community of the family of God.”

Mattson said that while he has been called “crazy” or “internally homophobic” for speaking out, “I just have to laugh that off.”

Mattson said those who describe Catholicism as “homophobic” usually imply that the Church is somehow a “hateful place” with no room for people with same-sex attraction.

However, “the opposite is exactly the case for me. I have never felt more welcomed in my life than in the arms of Holy Mother Church.”

“It's the most welcoming place,” he said, “and it's sad if people want to use the language of the world to say that, to use that word and say that the Church doesn't have a place or that it isn't welcoming. For me, it's been the exact opposite.”

When asked by a priest in the audience how pastors ought to react to people who come to them and confide having same-sex attraction and feelings, Mattson stressed the importance of creating “an environment that is safe,” since many of these people already carry many wounds.

The fact that a person feels they can open up to begin with is a positive sign, he said, explaining that most people with same-sex attraction are afraid that “they will be treated with disgust” if they open up about it, so knowing they have a safe space to talk is key.

Mattson also mentioned Pope Francis, telling CNA Pope Francis has been clear about the Church's teaching, and explaining his belief that Francis' message is often manipulated by the media “to serve their own agenda.”

Mattson said he always remembers the pope's comments on his flight back from Rio de Janeiro in 2013 when he said that he is “a son of the Church.”

“If you really look at what he's said, he's been very clear about same-sex marriage over the years, he's been very clear that chastity is an important virtue,” he added.

“He's said he's a son of the Church and I'm confident in that,” Mattson said, and voiced his hope that one day he would be able to meet the pope and tell him “how the Church has been a mother to me and has guided me to happiness and freedom.”

Mattson also expressed support for the view that sexuality doesn't define a person's life, and stressed that using labels such as “gay” or “straight” reduce a person to their sexuality, since in the end everyone is ultimately a child of God.

“The truth is that my sexual identity is (that of) a man, just like Adam, just like Abraham, David, just like every other man that has walked the face of the earth, I'm not a different sort of sexual person than they were,” he told journalists.

“The Church's teaching is that you are identified as a beloved son of God, that has been the experience for me.”

 

Humanae Vitae needs no update, commission chair says

Vatican City, May 23, 2018 / 02:00 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The professor who chaired a Vatican study group on Humanae Vitae stressed that the Bl. Paul VI’s encyclical “needs no updating.”
 
Professor Gilfredo Marengo, of the Pontifical Theological Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, spoke with CNA at the presentation of his latest book, “Chiesa senza storia, storia senza Chiesa” (Church without history, history without the Church), which explores the implications and consequences of Gaudium et Spes, the Second Vatican Council’s pastoral constitution on the Church in the modern world.
 
Professor Marengo told CNA that, according to his studies, “one of the biggest knots in drafting Humanae Vitae was really that of going beyond the polarization between doctrine and pastoral issues.”
 
Professor Marengo added that Blessed Pope Paul VI “focused on this knowledge, and worked a lot to take the encyclical out of that polarization.”
 
Unfortunately, he said, polarization has increased in recent years, but, added that “the question cannot be solved by imagining a new doctrine or a new pastoral activity, but by going beyond the polarization.”
 
Professor Marengo stressed that “Humanae Vitae is an authoritative document of the Catholic Church, and it is part of the tradition. We are called to welcome it as it is, and to apply it with an intelligent pastoral plan.”
 
However, despite being “the most discussed encyclical in the last 50 years,” there is “no need to update it,” Professor Marengo stressed.
 
In the end, all that discussion might be framed into a general debate that took place after the Second Vatican Council, he said.

Professor Marengo heads a study group undertaking a historical-critical investigation into the drafting of Humanae Vitae. The aim is to reconstruct, as well as possible, the whole process of drafting the document.
 
As is widely known, the drafting of Humanae Vitae endured several pressures before its publication and even after its publication.

Beyond Professor Marengo, the study group on Humanae Vitae is reportedly composed of Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri, head of the John Paul II Institute, Philippe Chenaux, a professor of Church history at the Pontifical Lateran University, and Msgr. Angelo Maffeis, head of the Paul VI Institute in Brescia.

In 2017, Professor Marengo told reporters that the group was given access to the Vatican Secret Archives for mid-1960s, the time of Humanae Vitae's drafting.
 
Professor Marengo told CNA that “the Second Vatican Council has facilitated the resolution of polarization between pastoral and doctrinal issues.”
 
He added that Pope Francis “is investing a lot in this resolution,” as “one of the most meaningful aspects of Pope Francis’ biography is that he is the first post-conciliar pope: all the [recent] previous popes participated to the Council, but this pope did not, and so he can look at the Council with a less emotional viewpoint.”

 

The Holy Spirit makes our works effective, Pope Francis says

Vatican City, May 23, 2018 / 05:45 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Holy Spirit helps Catholics to do good works by giving them the gifts they need to be effective 'salt and light' in the world, Pope Francis said at the general audience Wednesday.

Like Jesus said: “You are the salt of the earth… you are the light of the world,” the pope said May 23, explaining that the images of salt and light “make us think of our conduct, because both the lack and the excess of salt make food disgusting, as the lack and the excess of light prevent us from seeing.”

“Who can really make us salt that gives flavor and preserves from corruption, and light that enlightens the world?” he asked. “It is only the Spirit of Christ!”

Explaining that at the moment of Confirmation the bishop says, “Receive the Holy Spirit, which has been given to you,” Francis said the sacrament is “a great gift of God, the Holy Spirit within us.”

“The Spirit is in our heart, is in our soul. And the Spirit guides us in life, so that we become the right [amount of] salt and the right [amount of] light for men.”

Pope Francis spoke about Confirmation after concluding his weekly reflections on Baptism, which he said is “the first step.” After Baptism, “it is then necessary to behave as children of God, that is, to conform to Christ who works in the holy Church,” he said.

“If in Baptism it is the Holy Spirit that immerses us in Christ, in Confirmation it is Christ who fills us with his Spirit,” he said. In Confirmation, Christ consecrates Catholics “as his witnesses, partakers of the same principle of life and mission, according to the plan of the heavenly Father.”

Becoming involved in Christ’s mission in the world: “This is what the anointing of the Holy Spirit provides,” he continued.

The pope also explained that the sacrament is called “Confirmation” because it “confirms Baptism and strengthens its grace,” noting that in the Italian language, the sacrament is called “Cresima,” to recall the anointing with chrism oil, which confers the power of the Holy Spirit.

It is also appropriate to speak about Confirmation following the celebration of Pentecost, the pope said, because the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples calls to mind the infusion of the Holy Spirit at Confirmation.

“Pentecost, which we celebrated last Sunday, is for the Church what for Christ was the anointing of the Spirit received at the Jordan, or the missionary impulse to consume the life for the sanctification of men, to the glory of God.”

If in every sacrament the Spirit works, it is especially in Confirmation that “the faithful receive the Holy Spirit as a gift,” he concluded. “Christian witness consists in doing only and all that the Spirit of Christ asks of us, granting us the strength to do it.”

At the end of the general audience, Francis pointed out that Thursday, May 24, is the feast day of the Blessed Virgin Mary, “Help of Christians,” which is particularly venerated at the Shrine of Our Mother of Sheshan near Shanghai, China.

This feast day “invites us to be spiritually united to all the Catholic faithful who live in China,” he said, praying for Chinese Catholics, that through the intercession of Our Lady, they would live their faith “with generosity and serenity… fraternity, concord and reconciliation, in full communion with the Successor of Peter.”

“Dearest disciples of the Lord in China, the universal Church prays with you and for you, so that even among the difficulties you may continue to entrust yourselves to God's will. Our Lady will never fail to help you and guard you with her motherly love.”

Dolan: Pope’s reported remarks to gay man, while ‘beautiful,’ could require clarification  

New York City, N.Y., May 22, 2018 / 08:30 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archbishop of New York said Tuesday that while some recent comments about homosexuality attributed to Pope Francis are “orthodox teaching,” the pope's reported remarks could require clarification.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan affirmed the pope’s recent affirmation of God’s love for a gay man with whom the pontiff visited in Rome, saying: “Jesus would have said that, and so would I. That’s conservative, traditional, Catholic, orthodox teaching. The ‘Catechism’ insists on that.”

“While any sexual expression outside of a man and woman in marriage is contrary to God's purpose, so is not treating anyone, including a gay person, with anything less than dignity and respect,” Dolan added, speaking May 22 during his weekly radio show on Sirius XM’s The Catholic Channel.

“What he says is beautiful, don’t you think?” Dolan asked.

The remarks were a response to questions about  Juan Carlos Cruz, a Chilean victim of sexual abuser Fr. Fernando Karadima, who told the Spanish newspaper El Pais on Friday that Pope Francis told him that it did not matter that he was gay.

“He told me ‘Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like that and he loves you like that and I do not care. The Pope loves you as you are, you have to be happy with who you are,’" Cruz recalled.

Asked about the most controversial aspect of the Holy Father’s remarks, regarding whether God wills that someone experience same sex attraction, Dolan was circumspect, citing “ongoing debate” among “professional circles.”

“Is one born that way, or is it - is it nature or nurture?... I don't think the Holy Father would feel competent to speak on that.”

Dolan noted that while he had no reason to doubt Cruz’s account, the pope’s reported remarks were “third hand: what the pope said to him, he said to the press, so one would want to get a clarification.”

He said his remarks were qualified by “a little bit of ‘wait and see’” adding “let’s find out exactly what the Holy Father said.”

 

Pope to meet in June with Chilean clerical abuse victims

Vatican City, May 22, 2018 / 02:51 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis will meet for three days next month with victims of a Chilean priest who committed sexual abuse as well as abuse of power and conscience, in an effort to respond to the country's clerical sex abuse crisis.

The Holy See press office stated May 22 that Pope Francis will receive a second group of victims of Fr. Fernando Karadima and his followers at the Vatican's Santa Marta guesthouse June 1-3.

The group of nine includes five priests who were victims of abuse of power, conscience, and sexuality; two priests who have been assisting the victims; and two lay people.

Most of those coming to the Vatican participated in Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta's investigation of abuse cover-up by the hierarchy in Chile, whick took place in February. The others worked with the investigation after the archbishop's time in Chile.

“With this new meeting, scheduled a month ago, Pope Francis wants to demonstrate his closeness to abused priests, to accompany them in their pain and to listen to their valuable views to improve the current preventive measures and the fight against abuses in the Church,” the Holy See press office said.

The meeting will conclude the pope's first round of meetings with the victims of abuses which occurred at Karadima's Sacred Heart parish in Santiago.

“These priests and lay people represent all the victims of abuses by clerics in Chile, but it is not ruled out that similar initiatives may be repeated in the future.”

The visit will include various meetings “which will take place in an atmosphere of trust and confidentiality.” Pope Francis will say Mass for the group June 2, after which there will be a group meeting, followed by individual conversations.

“The Holy Father continues to ask the faithful of Chile – and especially the faithful of the parishes where these priests carry out their pastoral ministry – to accompany them with prayer and solidarity during these days.”

Francis had met with three more of Karadima's victims, Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton, and Andres Murillo, at the Vatican April 27-30. Cruz, who has same-sex attraction, told a Spanish newspaper May 20 that the pope had told him to accept himself and his attraction, because God made him that way.

Karadima was convicted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2011 of abusing minors, and sentenced to a life of prayer and penance. He has not been sentenced by civil courts because of Chile's statue of limitations.

A sacerdotal association which Karadima had led, the Priestly Union of the Sacred Heart, was suppressed within a year of his conviction.

Attention to Karadima's abuse has heightened since the 2015 appointment of Bishop Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid to the Diocese of Osorno. Barros had been accused of covering up Karadima's abuses.

Pope Francis initially defended Barros, saying he had received no evidence of the bishop's guilt, and called accusations against him “calumny” during a trip to Chile in January. He later relented, and sent Scicluna to investigate the situation in Chile.

After receiving Scicluna's report, Francis apologized, said that he had been seriously mistaken, and asked to meet the country's bishops and more outspoken survivors in person.

He met with Chile's bishops May 15-17. As a result, each of them tendered letters of resignation, which Pope Francis has yet to accept or reject. The pope also gave the bishops a lettter chastising them for systemic cover-up of clerical abuse and calling them to institute deep changes.

On May 19, Bishop Alejandro Goić Karmelić of Rancagua suspended several priests after allegations of sexual misconduct were raised against them. He also apologized for not following up when the accusations were first brought to his attention.

Commentary: Did the pope say that God made someone gay?

Denver, Colo., May 21, 2018 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- I am not a priest or deacon, or even a counselor or pastoral care worker. But in more than a decade of full-time work in the Church, I’ve often sat with people who are confronting some difficult cross they have to carry, some heavy burden that’s been placed upon them.

I’ve found that the question people most often ask is “why?”

“Why did my spouse abandon me and my children?”

“Why did my baby die?”

“Why do I face these temptations? Why did God make me this way?”

“Why?” is the most common question. And it’s the question that we’re usually least equipped to answer.

We do well with “what” and “how” questions, but “why” is harder.

“What am I supposed to do now?” - “Follow the teachings of the Church, and give the anguish and the suffering to Jesus.”

“How can I live this way?” - “Trust in the Lord, stay close to the sacraments, lean on the community of the Church- on saints, family, friends, pastors, and counselors.”

Why did this happen to me?” - “I...I don’t know.”

We all want coherent and sensible narratives to explain the circumstances of our lives. Looking for those narratives seems to be a part of coping with difficulty or tragedy. But sometimes there are no clear answers. And sometimes, when we can’t find them, we create them in our minds- we call this the narrative fallacy.

The essayist Nassim Taleb says that the narrative fallacy “addresses our limited ability to look at sequences of facts without weaving an explanation into them, or, equivalently, forcing a logical link, an arrow of relationship upon them.”

A few years ago, I sat with a woman who had suffered terrible abuse. She was talking with me about her experience. Eventually, she told me that God had wanted her to suffer, to test her faithfulness to the Gospel. She told me her pastor had told her that was true.

Her pastor was a friend of mine. I doubted he believed that God proactively willed that this woman would be abused. I called him and asked him if he’d said that.

“No,” he told me. “She said that. I sat there quietly listening, trying to decide what I should say next. But before I got a chance, the conversation ended.”

I thought of that woman and her pastor when I read that a Chilean, Juan Carlos Cruz, told the Spanish newspaper El Pais that Pope Francis said that God had made him gay.

After being reported in the media, what the pope might have said has become the subject of speculation, of misapplication, of misunderstanding, and criticism.

It must be said that God loves each one of us. God is love. He created us in love, and sustains us in love. God reveals truth to us - truth about ourselves, and about his plan for us - because he loves us.
 
The Church teaches that same-sex attraction is a “disordered” inclination, which distorts God’s plan for our sexuality. Disordered inclinations come from the disordering effects of Adam’s fall - same-sex attraction is not a choice, it may even have genetic components, but it is not consistent with God’s positive will for the experience or expression of our sexuality.

God gives us the grace to bear our crosses, he permits that they exist and that we carry them, and through Christ, he transforms us in holiness as we carry our crosses. But it would be a cruel God who actively imposed on us the suffering that comes from disorder. And God is not cruel.

It is not immoral to experience same-sex attraction, which, the Church recognizes, often constitutes a “trial”- a cross. But all people, no matter their attractions, are called to express their sexuality in accord with the teaching of the Church, and with the virtue of chastity.

There is every reason to believe that Pope Francis knows those things and believes them. He teaches them, in fact, with regularity. While we don’t know what Pope Francis said in a private, pastoral moment, it is unfair to presume that he would willfully give counsel that contravenes the teachings of the Church.

What Pope Francis said might have been misreported, or it might have been accurately reported in its entirety. But it’s most likely that, in the difficulty of a pastoral moment, what the pope said, or attempted to say, was somehow unclear, confused, or misunderstood.  

We may not know what the pope said, or didn’t say. He may choose to clarify it, or it may continue to be the subject of speculation. But from Catholics, at least, the pope deserves the benefit of the doubt, with some understanding for the challenge of teaching complex theological concepts in intimate pastoral moments, and understanding for the challenge of receiving and comprehending those concepts.

In a private meeting with a man who carries many crosses, including some imposed by abuse at the hands of a priest, the pope gave a reminder of God’s love, and of the Church’s love. Beyond that, we are unlikely to be sure what was said. But in charity, we should presume the best of the pope, and pray for him, for Mr. Cruz, and for all those who might doubt the Lord’s love, or ask the oft-unanswerable question: “Why?


This commentary reflects the opinions of the author, and does not necessarily reflect an editorial position of Catholic News Agency.

 

Analysis: With new appointments, Pope Francis puts his mark on the College of Cardinals

Vatican City, May 21, 2018 / 12:32 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis’ fifth consistory marks an important shift within the College of Cardinals: it is the first time in the five years of this pontificate that in a possible future conclave the number of cardinals created by Pope Francis will surpass the number of cardinals created by his predecessors.
 
As of April, the College of Cardinals is composed this way: there are 48 voting cardinals created by Pope Francis, 48 by Benedict XVI and 19 created by John Paul II, for a total of 115 voting cardinals.
 
After the June 29 consistory, the number of cardinals created by Pope Francis will be 59, and the total number of voting cardinals will be 125.

Only cardinals younger than 80 have the right to vote in a conclave. On June 8, Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation of the Cause of Saints, will turn 80, and so at the moment of the consistory there will there will be 47 voting cardinals created by Benedict XVI.
 
That means that Pope Francis has made the decision to surpass the limit of 120 voting cardinals set by Paul VI and confirmed by John Paul II. He did so also at the last consistory, in June 28, 2017, when Pope Francis created 5 new cardinals, all of them below the age of 80, that raised the total number of voting cardinals to 121.
 
Some other figures are revealing.
 
Since the very first consistory, Pope Francis wanted to show a universal Church by tapping for a “red hat” bishops or archbishops from countries that had never before been represented by a cardinal.
 
This consistory is slightly different, as Pope Francis picked countries that have been already had cardinals. Japan, Pakistan, Madagascar, and Iraq are back in the sacred college, after a long absence. With their presence there are now 87 countries represented in the College of Cardinals.
 
Europe is now the most represented continent, and will still be: after the next consistory, there will be 53 European voting cardinals. Latin America has a new representative in the sacred college, so there will be 13 Latin American voting cardinals; Africa will climb to 16 cardinals and Asia to 17 cardinals. North America will have 17 cardinals and Central America 5, while Oceania will keep 4 red birettas.
 
The roster of the pope’s new cardinals do not include any bishops from North America. It is particularly surprising that Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles will not be created a cardinal, given that his predecessor, Cardinal Roger Mahony, has already turned 82.
 
Even if it is Pope Francis’ unwritten rule to avoid creating cardinals in diocese that already have an elector, Los Angeles does not fit the bill.
 
The rationale could be that of representativeness: with 10 voting cardinals, the United States is second only to Italy as the most represented country in the College of Cardinals. This consideration might have weighed in Pope Francis’ decision.
 
Another point is also noteworthy: Pope Francis rarely makes cardinals in dioceses generally considered cardinalatial posts. So, Japan will be represented, but the cardinal will not be the Archbishop of Tokyo, as usual, but instead Archbishop Thomas Aquinas Manyo of Osaka. Madagascar is not represented by the Archdiocese of Antananarivo, its capital city, but by Archbishop Desiré Tsarahazana of Toamasina.
 
The appointment of the fourth cardinal from Madagascar – the first was Jérôme Louis Rakotomalala, created by Paul VI in 1969, and the most recent was Armand Razafindratandra, who died in 2010  – shows a particular concern for the Church in Madagascar, and might also pave the way to a Pope Francis’ visit to the African country.
 
There are clues supporting that possibility.
 
Bishop Gilbert Aubry, Bishop of Reunion and president of the Indian Ocean Bishops’ Conference, which met Pope Francis for their ad limina visit Apr. 9, said May 10 in an interview with Antenne Reunion that a papal visit in Madagascar might be scheduled for 2019. It would be the second visit of a Pope to Madagascar, and would mark the 30th anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II’s 1989 visit.
 
Giving a wider glance at the list, it is easy to see many of Pope Francis’ main concerns. His focus on the Middle East is borne out in the fact that Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako of the Chaldeans is the first of the list, even before Archbishop Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and one of the three cardinals from the Roman Curia among the new red hats.
 
The appointment of Patriarch Sako as a cardinal shows the Pope’s attention to Iraq, and to suffering Churches - the Pope also appointed as a cardinal Syria’s nuncio, Mario Zenari, in the 2016 consistory.

Patriarch Sako recently said that he invited the pope to visit Iraq, during a visit with Francis in February. A papal visit to Iraq has been studied for years, and is considered likely to happen, once security issues can be solved.
 
Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi, Pakistan, will also get the red hat: Pope Francis learned of the difficult situation of Pakistan speaking with Pakistani bishops in their ad limina visit March 15, and the red birretta likely aims to give more attention to a small Catholic community who is also targeted by the blasphemy laws.
 
The Roman Curia got three red hats: beyond the appointment of Archbishop Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Pope appointed as cardinals Archbishops Giovanni Angelo Becciu and Konrad Krajewski.
 
This latter is the Papal Almoner, and he will apparently keep his post. It seems the pope wants to give to the office of the Papal Almoner the highest rank, emphasizing the work with poor. During recent years, the Papal Almoner has been promoter of many initiatives for poor, including a laundromat (“The Pope Francis laundry”) and a dormitory for the homeless.
 
The red hat given to Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, deputy to the Secretariat of State, might anticipate Archbishop Becciu’s appointment as Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, to replace Cardinal Amato, who will soon retire.
 
This would means, as a side effect, that there could be a further reshuffle within the Secretariat of State, with a new deputy, after the pope appointed Msgr. Joseph Murphy as new head of protocol March 22.

Archbishop Becciu is also one of the three new Italian cardinals.

Archbishop Angelo De Donatis, the Pope’s vicar for the diocese of Rome, will be a cardinal. This appointment negates rumors that Pope Francis did not want his vicar in Rome, who oversees the leadership of the Diocese of Rome, to be a cardinal. Actually, the pope’s vicar is supposed to be a cardinal, according to a consistorial decree issued by Pope Paul IV in the 16th century.
 
With this appointment, the Diocese of Rome could have even more impact in a future conclave, considering that Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Archbishop De Donatis predecessor as Pope’s vicar of Rome, is 78, and so he still has the right to vote in a conclave.
 
As the Pope already did with the bishops of Ancona, Perugia and Agrigento, a red birretta will go to another Italian archbishop from a traditionally non-cardinatial diocese: Giuseppe Petrocchi of L’Aquila, the city still rebuilding after a huge earthquake in 2009.
 
It is noteworthy that Archbishops of Turin and Patriarch of Venice still have not gotten the red birretta, though their archdioceses have been traditionally led by cardinals. The Patriarch of Venice, as a patriarch, can wear red vestments,however, although he is not a cardinal.
 
The pope did not include in the list the new Archbishop of Milan, Mario Delpini. However, Archbishop Delpini’s predecessor at the helm of the world biggest diocese, Cardinal Angelo Scola, is still below 80.
 
Pope Francis also awarded with a red hat to Bishop Antonio Marto, of Leiria-Fatima, Portugal. He is the first cardinal from the diocese of the apparitions, and he is created cardinal one year after Pope Francis was in Fatima for the 100th anniversary of the apparitions and for the canonization of the two visionaries.
 
Perhaps the pope wanted to show his deep personal devotion to the Fatima message.
 
The list of new cardinals includes only one representative from Latin America, Archbishop Pedro Barretto from Huancayo, Peru. The pope and Archbishop Barreto met in the 80s. Archbishop Barreto is vice president of the Peruvian bishops’ conference and represents the Latin American bishops’ conference (CELAM) within REPAM, the Pan-Amazonian Ecclesial Network. His appointment is likely intended to give more weight to preparations for the 2019 Special Synod for Pan-Amazonian Region.