Pope opens possibility of US visit, says faith builds strong families

MILAN - As Pope Benedict XVI closed the World Meeting of Families in Italy's capital of finance and fashion, he opened the possibility of his heading to the United States when he named the Archdiocese of Philadelphia the next venue of the world gathering.

"God willing," he said, he would attend in 2015 as he greeted Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia and "the Catholics of that great city," saying he looked forward to meeting U.S. Catholics and other families from around the world there.

Philadelphia to host World Meeting of Families in 2015

MILAN - When the Archdiocese of Philadelphia hosts the United States' first World Meeting of Families in 2015, it will need to be a significantly smaller affair than the enormous gatherings seen since its inception in 1994, said the city's archbishop.

It is only with a reduced number of participants that "we could manage through special gifts and the like that people would be willing to give to support such a gathering," Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia told Catholic News Service shortly after Pope Benedict XVI's announcement.

For Michael O’Brien, faith is life

TORONTO - The Catholic Civil Rights League has named Michael O’Brien, a world-renowned Canadian author and artist, the 2012 recipient of the Archbishop Adam Exner Award for Catholic Excellence in Public Life.

This annual award recognizes “outstanding lay achievement in advocacy, education, life issues, media and culture, and philanthropy.”

IEC is Ireland's largest religious event since 1979 papal visit

DUBLIN - The weeklong 50th International Eucharistic Congress, which gets under way in Dublin June 10, will be Ireland's largest religious event since Pope John Paul II visited in 1979.

The celebration of faith offers a lively mixture of prayer, reflection and liturgy with participation from some of the leading voices in the Catholic world.

Organizers promise an estimated 12,000 overseas visitors the traditional Irish "cead mile failte" --"a hundred thousand welcomes." Many Dubliners have opened their homes to pilgrims.

Pope deplores 'VatiLeaks' scandal, prays for quake victims [w/ video]

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI voiced regret for the turmoil surrounding the recent publication of leaked Vatican documents, but thanked the vast majority of people who work at the Vatican for their dedication and fidelity.

Speaking at the end of his weekly general audience May 30, the pope said much of the media coverage of the leak of private letters and of the arrest May 23 of his personal assistant has been exaggerated and "completely gratuitous, and has gone far beyond the facts, offering an image of the Holy See that does not correspond to reality."

Poetry can open us to Church’s gifts

Jonathan recalled his conflict with a co-worker. In mid-sentence, he paused for a full minute, then said, “I’m not an angry person, am I? I don’t want to be an angry person.”

Why is it so difficult, sometimes, to acknowledge we’re angry? Even those of us who are pretty good at showing anger can find it hard to own. We might fear its power, or have experience of the ways anger can unleash terrible harm.  Yet some Church Fathers thought anger existed in Paradise: could we imagine anger an unfallen, pure gift of God? A force that works within us, creatively rather than destructively?

Jesus’ blood bears witness to God’s love

Body and Blood of Christ (Year B) June 10 (Exodus 24:3-8; Psalm 116; Hebrews 9:11-15; Mark 14:12-16, 22-26)

From the beginning of human history until our own day, blood has both repelled and fascinated humans. It has played a prominent role in religion, politics and, unfortunately, entertainment. 

The ancient Hebrews believed that blood was the bearer of life itself, and as such must always be treated with reverence and respect. People were forbidden to ingest the blood of animals. Human blood that had been spilled always required recompense and justice. Blood was powerful — it was offered to the gods or to God in sacrifice. It could both purify and ward off evil. The blood of Passover over Israelite doors turned aside the angel of death.

Sun, storms, wilderness, deserts and spirituality

A number of years ago, accompanied by an excellent Jesuit director, I did a 30-day retreat using the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. In the third week of that retreat there’s a meditation on Jesus’ agony in the garden. I did the meditation to the best of my abilities and met with my director to discuss the result. He wasn’t satisfied and asked me to repeat the exercise. I did, reported back to him, and found him again dissatisfied. I was at a loss to grasp exactly what he wanted me to achieve through that meditation, though obviously I was missing something. He kept trying to explain to me that Ignatius had a concept wherein one was supposed to take the material of a meditation and “apply it to the senses” and I was somehow not getting that part.

Pope likens world to latter-day Babel, announces new doctors of church

VATICAN CITY - The modern world is a latter-day Babel, where arrogance inspired by technological progress leads people to play God and sets them against each other, a predicament from which people can escape only through divinely inspired humility and love, said Pope Benedict XVI.

The pope made his remarks during his homily May 27, Pentecost Sunday, during Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

Catholics can gain indulgence by praying for families, going to Milan

VATICAN CITY - Catholics who dedicate themselves to special prayers and efforts to promote the holiness of Christian families can receive special indulgences during the World Meeting of Families May 30-June 2 in Milan.

Pope Benedict XVI authorized the indulgences for those who, "truly repentant and motivated by charity, dedicate themselves to the sanctification of the family," said a decree published May 25 by Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, which deals with indulgences.

Vatican publishes rules for verifying Marian apparitions

VATICAN CITY - To help bishops determine the credibility of alleged Marian apparitions, the Vatican has translated and published procedural rules from 1978 that had previously been available only in Latin.

The "Norms regarding the manner of proceedings in the discernment of presumed apparitions or revelations" were approved by Pope Paul VI in 1978 and distributed to the world's bishops, but never officially published or translated into modern languages.