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Pope will go to Romania calling for unity, focus on the common good

IMAGE: CNS image/courtesy Holy See Press Office

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will make a three-day apostolic visit to Romania in late May, the Vatican announced.

Accepting invitations from President Klaus Iohannis and from Catholic leaders, the pope will visit the capital of Bucharest, the cities of Iasi and Blaj, and the Marian sanctuary in Sumuleu Ciuc in the Transylvanian region.

A detailed schedule for the trip May 31-June 2 will be released later, the Vatican said in a statement Jan. 11.

The theme of the visit is "Let's walk together," and the trip logo shows a group of faithful gathered together with an image of Mary behind them, representing her protection over "the people of God in Romania," the Vatican said.

"Romania is often called the 'garden of the Mother of God,'" a term also used by St. John Paul II during his visit there in 1999, it said.

It said Pope Francis' visit also will have this Marian aspect as an invitation to Christians to unite their efforts "under Our Lady's mantle of protection."

"The Holy Father has always called for the uniting of various forces, refusing selfishness and giving central importance to the common good. The Successor of Peter is going to Romania to invite everyone to unity and to confirm them in the faith."

The overwhelming majority -- almost 82 percent -- of Romania's 20 million inhabitants say they belong to the Romanian Orthodox Church. About 6 percent of the population identifies itself as Protestant and over 4 percent identify as Catholic, belonging either to the Romanian Catholic Church -- an Eastern rite -- or the Latin rite.

The trip will be Pope Francis' fifth in the first six months of 2019. He is scheduled to be in Panama Jan. 23-27 for World Youth Day; and he will go to Abu Dhabi Feb. 3-5, to Morocco March 30-31 and to Bulgaria and Macedonia May 5-7.

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Talking to Some Young Jesuits About Social Justice and Evangelization

While I was in Chicago for the Christmas break, I had a wonderful meeting with around thirty young Jesuits. They were massively impressive people: smart, articulate, passionate about their work, and dedicated to the Gospel. Toward the end of our time together, one of the men posed a question that, he warned, would “put me on the spot”—and the discussion then became especially lively and illuminating.

Spinoza, Secularism, and the Challenge of Evangelization

During this Christmas holiday, I’ve been reading Anthony Gottlieb’s breezy and enjoyable history of modern philosophy, entitled “The Dream of Enlightenment.” I found his chapter on Spinoza extremely clarifying and indeed useful as a foil for what I take to be a properly religious view of things. Answering him point by point is a good exercise for anyone who would aspire to evangelize the culture today.

Listening to Jordan Peterson and Sam Harris

Over the Christmas break, I spent a fair amount of time binge-watching Jordan Peterson videos. Of the many Peterson videos, the ones that intrigued me the most featured his dialogues with Sam Harris, one of the “four horsemen of the new atheism” and perhaps the most strident critic of religion on the scene today.

Escuchando a Jordan Peterson y a Sam Harris

Durante el receso navideño pasé una buena cantidad de tiempo dándome un atracón de videos de Jordan Peterson. De los muchos videos de Peterson, los que más me intrigaron fueron sus diálogos con Sam Harris, uno de los “cuatro jinetes del nuevo ateísmo” y quizá el crítico más estridente de la religión hoy por hoy.

Regarding the funeral at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish, Temperance

The Archdiocese of Detroit regrets that one of its parish priests was unable to bring comfort to a grieving family at the recent funeral of their beloved son. Our hope is always to bring comfort to situations of great pain, through funeral services centered on the love and healing power of Christ.

Unfortunately, that did not happen in this case. We understand that an unbearable situation was made even more difficult, and we are sorry.

In light of recent reports, and in an effort to clarify misunderstanding, we are sharing a copy of the prepared homily Father LaCuesta read during the funeral. Names have been redacted to protect the family’s privacy.

In the homily, Father LaCuesta attempted to offer a message of confidence in salvation, affirming that “nothing – not even suicide – can separate us from the unconditional love of God.” Father LaCuesta also shared that because of God’s mercy, “he makes allowance for the spiritual, mental and emotional despair that leads to suicide.”

Referring to the individual for whom the funeral was offered, he affirmed: “We remind ourselves that he is not lost to God who seeks to save all of his children.”

We acknowledge, however, that the family expected a homily based on how their loved one lived, not one addressing how he passed away. We also know the family was hurt further by Father’s choice to share Church teaching on suicide, when the emphasis should have been placed more on God’s closeness to those who mourn.

Father LaCuesta agrees that the family was not served as they should have been served. For the foreseeable future, he will not be preaching at funerals and he will have all other homilies reviewed by a priest mentor. In addition, he has agreed to pursue the assistance he needs in order to become a more effective minister in these difficult situations. This assistance will involve getting help from professionals – on human, spiritual and pastoral levels – to probe how and why he failed to effectively address the grief of the family in crisis.

Father LaCuesta also expressed his regret in a message to parishioners following Masses at Our Lady of Mount Carmel this weekend.

In a continuing effort to offer comfort, the family has received calls from our Vicar for Clergy and the Auxiliary Bishop for the South Region of the archdiocese. In addition, Archbishop Vigneron spoke with the family to apologize and to offer an in-person meeting in the near future. They have accepted his offer.

We ask all to please join in praying for the family.

Tolkien, Chesterton, and the Adventure of Mission

The writings of J.R.R. Tolkien and G.K. Chesterton are often read as nostalgic celebrations of a quiet domesticity that existed before the rise of modernity and capitalism. However, I’m convinced that to see things this way is almost entirely to miss the point. For the ultimate purpose of their work is not to celebrate domesticity but rather to challenge it.

Summer Feeding Program

The Archdiocese of Detroit School Foods Program will be sponsoring the USDA funded Summer Meals programs this summer in locations throughout the city.   Everyone wins with the Summer Meal program!

Meals are available beginning June. This is a great opportunity for families to stretch their food dollars during the summer months.  Children, 18 years of age or younger may participate at no charge!  Many sites also have exciting summer activities scheduled for your child as well!!

Contact Bob Nelson for more information

Phone# 313-883-8755

Tolkien, Chesterton y la aventura de la misión

Los escritos de J.R.R. Tolkien y G.K. Chesterton se lee a menudo como celebraciones nostálgicas de una apacible domesticidad que existió antes del auge de la modernidad y el capitalismo. Sin embargo, estoy convencido de que ver las cosas así nos lleva a perder de vista lo más importante. Pues el último propósito de sus obras no es el de celebrar la domesticidad sino el de desafiarla.

Reverend John Riccardo

Reverend John Riccardo is being released to create and lead a new non-profit organization, Acts XXIX, a pastoral initiative aimed at supporting the movement to Unleash the Gospel. The team, composed of clergy and laity, will concentrate on two primary areas of focus: first, to work with pastors and parishes to create a culture of evangelization and discipleship; and second, in support of parishes, especially in the City of Detroit to offer direct evangelization efforts that foster encounters with Christ. This position will become effective July 1, 2019 until June 30, 2023. Father Riccardo is currently serving as Pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Plymouth.