HAVANA - In a hot and steamy cathedral after listening to a Daughter of Charity talk about her work with people with severe disabilities, Pope Francis set aside his prepared homily and spoke about serving those the world considers "useless."

Published in Vatican

TORONTO - At St. John’s Bakery, the spiced, sweet scent of freshly baked hot cross buns fills the air. The bakery revives this popular tradition every year in anticipation of the joy of Jesus’ resurrection. But more than preparing an Easter treat, the hands that make the hot cross buns are symbols of hope and community.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

ROME - The move to normalize relations between Cuba and the United States has inaugurated "a new time ... for encounter and dialogue" between the two countries and is cause for great hope, said the cardinal of Havana.

Published in International
February 5, 2015

Accept the other

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Feb. 15 (Leviticus 13:1-2, 45-46; Psalm 32; 1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1; Mark 1:40-45)

Those whom we despise, fear and exclude often reflect our own fear and lack of love. They show us who we are inside, and that is why we fear them so much. The ancient scourge of leprosy was a perfect example.

Published in Fr. Scott Lewis

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) Feb. 8 (Job 7:1-4, 6-7; Psalm 147; 1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23; Mark 1:29-39)

When things go reasonably well and we are basically happy, then life itself seems positive and even joyful. But when illness, personal failures, pain and misfortunes make their appearance, our world can change in an instant. Life can seem negative, painful, dreary and futile. Even the things that used to bring us joy lose their lustre.

Published in Fr. Scott Lewis

TORONTO - Dave Williams happened into the closing liturgy for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity entirely by chance. He wandered into Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, saw what was happening and immediately called his wife, Beverly John.

By the end of the service, Williams and John were convinced they had stumbled into something important.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

TORONTO - It’s not easy being Syrian, especially if you’re the forgotten minority caught in the tsunami of sectarian massacres and ethnic cleansing referred to as the Syrian civil war.

Published in Canada

OXFORD, England - Burkina Faso's Catholic bishops sent a "message of peace and hope" to the West African country after its 27-year president, Blaise Compaore, fled prompting a military takeover.

Published in International

TORONTO - Armless guitarist Tony Melendez wants audiences to walk away from his performances with hope.

Published in Music News

VATICAN CITY - Today's bishops must be as vigilant and courageous as sentinels keeping watch over the faith, and as forgiving and patient as Moses, leading a sinning people across harsh deserts to God, Pope Francis said.

Published in Faith

The sawed-off four-metre wooden crucifix was carefully lowered to the ground at the entrance to the cemetery. 

Published in Guest Columnists

VATICAN CITY - Given the Holy Land's long and complex history of military, religious and cultural conflict, the run-up to Pope Francis' May 24-26 pilgrimage was inevitably marked by fears it would be marred by controversy — or worse.

Published in A Holy Land pilgrimage

VATICAN CITY - Just days before Pope Francis was set to canonize two of his predecessors, he expressed his hopes the two soon-to-be saints would continue to inspire the whole church in its mission.

Published in Papal Canonizations
July 25, 2013

Hope and optimism

Pope Francis is the first pope from Latin America and he ensured South America was the destination for his first foreign trip. So it was no surprise that the Argentine Pope was welcomed to World Youth Day in Brazil by huge, adoring crowds who brought his motorcade to a standstill.

Published in Editorial
September 19, 2012

Emissary of hope

As war raged in Syria and an anti-Muslim film ignited violence across the Arab world, Pope Benedict calmly arrived last week in Lebanon as a “pilgrim of peace.”

The 85-year-old pontiff would have been excused if, citing age and security concerns, he’d postponed this trip. During his three-day stay, 25 people were injured and a man killed in Lebanon’s second largest city, Tripoli, during protests aimed at an American film that mocks Islam. The day after he left, missiles from Syrian jets hit Lebanese territory. The region, habitually unsafe, is particularly dangerous right now.

The purpose of the trip was to officially endorse the Apostolic Exhortation that was drafted following the 2010 Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. That task could have been accomplished in the Vatican, of course, and transmitted live worldwide by video-conferencing and Internet technology. Yet the Pope dismissed that option.

Instead, he made the right and courageous decision to stand beside the Christians of the region and, by his physical presence, acknowledge the hardships they endure by living in nations that are often hostile to Christianity. That simple act alone says much about the Pope. Then, addressing some 20,000 young people from several Middle East countries, he urged them to be the vanguard to keep Christianity alive in the lands of its birth.

Middle East Christians, facing social and economic discrimination and seeking safety for their families, have been emigrating in droves to Europe and North America. At the current pace, Christianity might virtually disappear from the region in a generation. It is asking much of young Christians to endure financial and religious hardship, but that is exactly what the Pope implored. To be effective, the message had to be delivered in person.

“I am aware of the difficulties you face daily, on account of instability and a lack of security, and your sense of being alone and on the margins,” he said. But, he added, “You are meant to be protagonists of your country’s future.”

The Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation lays a common-sense framework for Middle East Christianity to endure. It emphasizes dialogue, respect, equality, tolerance and forgiveness among Christians, Muslims and Jews, while denouncing secularism and fundamentalism. The Pope urged young people to never be afraid or ashamed of being Christian and he affirmed their right to religious liberty, to live publicly as Christians and to participate fully in civil life.

The Pope arrived in Lebanon as a pilgrim of peace but departed as an emissary of inspiration and hope. He ignored the latest regional upheaval and chose boldly to stand among the anxious Christians to let them know in person that he will not abandon them. That may have been the most important message of all.

Published in Editorial
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