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The miracle of water and the Missionaries of Africa

Ensuring access to clean water is a constant challenge in a megacity like Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in some outlying districts, the State is simply unable to do so. In the commune of Kisenso, a parish run by the Missionaries of Africa oversees a “water project” which allows local people to access the precious resource without having to walk for miles.

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Congolese Minister: Pope’s visit “historic and symbolic”

The communications minister for the DRC notes that “millions of Congolese lined the streets” to welcome the Pope, and praises his speech calling for peace.

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Pope at Mass in DR Congo: Lay down your arms, embrace mercy

On the second day of his Apostolic Journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Pope Francis celebrates Mass for more than a million people at the "Ndolo" airport in Kinshasa, and urges them to lay down their arms, embrace mercy, and be missionaries of peace.

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Pope preaches peace, cooperation, resilience to a Congo 'gasping for breath'

KINSHASA, Congo (CNS) -- The people of Congo are more precious than any of the gems or minerals found in the earth beneath their feet, yet they have been slaughtered by warmongers and exploited by prospectors, Pope Francis said.

"This country, so immense and full of life, this diaphragm of Africa, struck by violence like a blow to the stomach, has seemed for some time to be gasping for breath," the pope said Jan. 31 at a meeting with Congo's President Felix Tshisekedi, other government and political leaders, diplomats and representatives of civil society.

Poverty, internal displacement, crime and violence plague the Congolese people. The United Nations and human rights organizations say more than 100 armed groups are operating in the country, sowing terror particularly in the east.

Yet, according to the U.S. State Department country report, for Africa "regional stability and security is dependent on durable peace" in Congo, "the largest country in sub-Saharan Africa," one bordering nine other nations and home to diamonds and vast mineral reserves. It also has the largest Catholic population in Africa and has the sixth most Catholics of any nation after Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines, the United States and Italy.

Tens of thousands of people lined the streets from the airport to the city center, cheering as the pope passed by in the popemobile. Many children and teens were dressed in their school uniforms, parishioners proudly held banners welcoming the pope in the name of their communities and many of the women wore brightly colored cotton dresses with images of the pope.

Speaking to several hundred leaders in the garden of the Palais de la Nation, his official residence, President Tshisekedi told the pope that the welcome and harmony that had characterized Congo for centuries has, in the past 30 years, "been undermined by the enemies of peace as well as terrorist groups, mainly from neighboring countries."

"Indeed," he told the pope, with "the inaction and silence of the international community, more than 10 million people have had been their lives taken from them atrociously. Innocent women, even pregnant ones, are raped and disemboweled, young people and children have their throats slit, families, the elderly and children are condemned to brave fatigue and exhaustion, wandering far from their homes in search of peace because of the atrocities committed by these terrorists in the service of foreign interests," who want to exploit the countries natural resources.

Pope Francis, responding to the president, added that Congo is suffering from a "forgotten genocide," one the world must recognize.

Returning to his prepared text, the pope chose diamonds as the key image in his first speech in Congo, insisting that "you, all of you, are infinitely more precious than any treasure found in this fruitful soil!"

In a speech frequently interrupted by applause and shouts of "Amen," the pope urged the Congolese people to demand the respect they deserve; he pleaded with the country's political leaders to put the common good ahead of greed and a lust for power; and he begged the international community to help Congo, not plunder it.

"Diamonds are usually rare," he said, "yet here they are abundant."

"If that is true of the material wealth hidden in the soil, it is even more true of the spiritual wealth present within your hearts," he said. "For it is from hearts that peace and development are born, because, with God's help, men and women are capable of justice and of forgiveness, of concord and reconciliation, of commitment and perseverance in putting to good use the many talents they have received."

Every person in Congo has a part to play, Pope Francis insisted.

"May violence and hatred no longer find room in the heart or on the lips of anyone, since these are inhuman and un-Christian sentiments that arrest development and bring us back to a gloomy past," he said.

Referencing both the loss of life and the term for diamonds mined to finance conflict, the pope said that "the poison of greed has smeared (Congo's) diamonds with blood."

The developed world, he said, "often closes its eyes, ears and mouth" to the tragedy occurring in Congo while greedily buying up coltan, a mineral used in mobile phones, and other natural resources from the country.

"Hands off the Democratic Republic of the Congo! Hands off Africa," Pope Francis insisted to applause and the stopping of feet. "Stop choking Africa: it is not a mine to be stripped or a terrain to be plundered."

At the same, the pope did not let the Congolese off the hook, especially those who promote members of their own ethnic group or political party to the detriment of their neighbors, "thus nurturing spirals of hatred and violence."

"From a chemical standpoint, it is interesting that diamonds are made up of simple atoms of carbon which, if differently bonded, form graphite: in effect, the difference between the brilliance of the diamond and the darkness of graphite comes from the way the individual atoms are arranged," he said.

Different ethnic groups or cultural traditions do not create tension automatically, but it depends on people and the way they choose to live together, the pope said. "Their willingness or not to encounter one another, to be reconciled and to start anew makes the difference between the grimness of conflict and a radiant future of peace and prosperity."

Pope Francis also called for greater respect for the environment, including the Congo rainforest, second in size only to the Amazon. The pope called it "one of the great green lungs of the world."

But, he said, efforts to protect it must be carried out in cooperation with the people who live there and rely on it for their livelihoods.

Pope arrives in Africa

Pope arrives in Africa

Pope Francis arrived in Kinshasa, Congo, Jan. 31.

World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life and Profession Class of 2022

WASHINGTON – The universal Catholic Church will celebrate World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life on February 2, 2023 and in parishes throughout the United States over the weekend of February 4-5.

Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, reflected that World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life provides a special opportunity for the faithful to give thanks to God for those living a consecrated vocation. “We give thanks to God today for continuing to call men and women to serve him as consecrated persons in the Church. May each of us be inspired by their example to love God above all things and serve him in all that we do.”

The USCCB’s Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations commissioned the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University to conduct its annual survey of newly professed men and women religious in the United States. The survey, Women and Men Professing Perpetual Vows in Religious Life: The Profession Class of 2022 polled religious who professed perpetual vows in 2022 in a religious congregation, province, or monastery based in the United States. Of the 168 identified newly professed, a total of 114 responded for an overall response rate of 67%.

Some of the major findings and highlights of the report are:

  • The average age of responding religious of the Profession Class of 2022 is 33. Half of the responding religious are age 34 or younger. The youngest is 25 and the oldest is 75.
  • Two in three responding religious (66%) are Caucasian, European American, or white followed by Asian/Pacific Islander/Native Hawaiian (16%), Hispanic/Latino(a) (10%), and African/African American/black (4%).
  • Nearly half of the responding religious (48%) attended a Catholic elementary school, which is higher than that for all Catholic adults in the United States (16%).
  • On average, respondents report that they were 18 years old when they first considered a vocation to religious life, with half being 18 or younger when they first did so.
  • More than nine in ten (93%) responding religious report that someone encouraged them to consider a vocation to religious life. Men are more likely than women to be encouraged by a parish priest, friend, mother, and parishioner; meanwhile, women are more likely than men to be encouraged by a religious sister or brother.

Prayers of the Faithful and a short bulletin quote for World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life is available on the USCCB website. Profiles of the Profession Class of 2022 and the full CARA report is available here.

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St. John Bosco: Saint of the Day for Tuesday, January 31, 2023

John Bosco, also known as Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco and Don Bosco, was born in Becchi, Italy, on August 16, 1815. His birth came just after the end of the Napoleonic Wars which ravaged the area. Compounding the problems on his birthday, there was also a drought and a famine at the time of his birth. At the age of two, John lost his father, leaving him and his two older brothers to be raised by his mother, Margherita. His "Mama Margherita Occhiena" would herself be declared venerable by the ...

Pope clarifies remarks about homosexuality and sin

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis reaffirmed that homosexuality is not a crime, and that any sexual act outside of marriage is a sin, in a written response to a request for clarification about his remarks during a recent interview with the Associated Press.

In an interview with the agency televised and published in Spanish Jan. 25, the pope had said that "being homosexual is not a crime. It is not a crime." He defined as "unjust" laws that criminalize homosexuality or homosexual activity and urged church members, including bishops, to show "tenderness" as God does with each of his children.

In the interview the pope said, "We are all children of God, and God loves us as we are and for the strength that each of us fights for our dignity. Being homosexual is not a crime. It is not a crime."

Then, he voiced an objection to that statement, followed by how he would respond to that objection, saying, "'Yes, but it is a sin.' Fine, but first let us distinguish between a sin and a crime."

"It's also a sin to lack charity with one another," he added.

U.S. Jesuit Father James Martin, who is editor of Outreach.faith, which provides news and resources for LGBTQ Catholics, wrote to the pope asking him to clarify his statement, which some media outlets had reported as the pope saying being gay is a sin.

Father Martin published the pope's written reply in Spanish Jan. 27. The pope acknowledged, "In a televised interview, where we spoke with natural and conversational language, it is understandable that there would not be such precise definitions."

"It is not the first time that I speak of homosexuality and of homosexual persons. And I wanted to clarify that it is not a crime, in order to stress that criminalization is neither good nor just," the pope wrote.

"When I said it is a sin, I was simply referring to Catholic moral teaching, which says that every sexual act outside of marriage is a sin. Of course, one must also consider the circumstances, which may decrease or eliminate fault," he wrote.

"As you can see, I was repeating something in general. I should have said, 'It is a sin, as is any sexual act outside of marriage,'" he wrote. "This is to speak of 'the matter' of sin, but we know well that Catholic morality not only takes into consideration the matter, but also evaluates freedom and intention; and this, for every kind of sin."

"And I would tell whoever wants to criminalize homosexuality that they are wrong," the pope wrote.

 

St. Aldegunais: Saint of the Day for Monday, January 30, 2023

Virgin and abess, also known as Adelgundis, Aldegonde, or Orgonne. She was a member of the royal family of the Merovingians and was raised by two saints: St. Walbert and St. Bertila, her parents. The family resided in the Hainault region of Flanders, a region of the Low Countries. Aldegundis reflused offers of marriage from other nobles and received the veil from St. Amandius, the bishop of Maastricht. She followed this ceremony of acceptance into the religious life with the foundation of a ...

Sts. Sarbelius & Barbea: Saint of the Day for Sunday, January 29, 2023

Two martyrs, brother and sister, who were put to death at Edessa during the persecutions of Emperor Trajan. Sarbelius, also called Sharbel, was a high priest at Edessa, in Mesopotamia. They were arrested for converting to the faith, and were tortured with red-hot irons prior to execution.

St. Thomas Aquinas: Saint of the Day for Saturday, January 28, 2023

Thomas is believed to have been born in the castle of Roccasecca in the old county of the Kingdom of Sicily, which is now known as the Lazio region of Italy, in 1225. His parents were well-off, but as the youngest son Thomas was expected to enter the monastery. At 5-years-old, Thomas began his education at Monte Cassino, where he remained until the military conflict between Emperor Frederick II and Pope Gregory IX reached the abbey. He was then transferred and enrolled at the studium generale ...