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First Reading: Isaiah 55:6-9

6 "Seek the LORD while he may be found, call upon him while he is near;
7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18

2 Every day I will bless thee, and praise thy name for ever and ever.
3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
8 The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 The LORD is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.
17 The LORD is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings.
18 The LORD is near to all who call upon him, to all who call upon him in truth.

Second Reading: Philippians 1:20-24, 27

20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I shall not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
22 If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell.
23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.
27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,

Gospel: Matthew 20:1-16

1 "For the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard.
2 After agreeing with the laborers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard.
3 And going out about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place;
4 and to them he said, `You go into the vineyard too, and whatever is right I will give you.' So they went.
5 Going out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour, he did the same.
6 And about the eleventh hour he went out and found others standing; and he said to them, `Why do you stand here idle all day?'
7 They said to him, `Because no one has hired us.' He said to them, `You go into the vineyard too.'
8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his steward, `Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.'
9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius.
10 Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received a denarius.
11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the householder,
12 saying, `These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.'
13 But he replied to one of them, `Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius?
14 Take what belongs to you, and go; I choose to give to this last as I give to you.
15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?'
16 So the last will be first, and the first last."

SSPX bishop signs letter claiming Pope Francis enables error

Rome, Italy, Sep 23, 2017 / 08:50 pm (CNA).- A letter presenting itself as a filial correction of Pope Francis for reputed errors and heresies has been signed by over 60 Catholic clergy and scholars, including most prominently Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior general of the breakaway traditionalist Society of St. Pius X group.

The letter to the Pope, dated July 16, says it concerns “the propagation of heresies effected by the apostolic exhortation ‘Amoris Laetitia’ and by other words, deeds and omissions of Your Holiness.” It claims the publication of the exhortation and other acts of the Pope has given “scandal concerning faith and morals” to the Church and to the world,

“While professing their obedience to his legitimate commands and teachings, they maintain that Francis has upheld and propagated heretical opinions by various direct or indirect means,” a press release accompanying the letter said of the signers. It added that the signers do not believe the Pope has propagated these opinions as dogmatic Church teachings and make no judgment about the Pope’s culpability.

The letter was delivered to Pope Francis on Aug. 11, the press release said.

Bishop Fellay reportedly learned of the document only after its delivery. The district superior of the Society of Pius X, Father Robert Brucciani, is also a signatory. The society’s leader in 1988 ordained four bishops without papal permission in 1988 and all five prelates were excommunicated. Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunications in 2009 and there have been continuing talks seeking to reconcile the society with the Church.

The letter to Pope Francis cites differences among the Catholic bishops and cardinals concerning the reception of Holy Communion by the divorced and remarried. It objects to the Pope’s silence in the face of the “dubia” submitted to the Pope by four cardinals seeking clarification of “Amoris Laetitia,” in September 2016.

It charges that the Pope’s actions have allowed Holy Communion to be received sacrilegiously by divorced people now living as husband and wife with someone not their spouse.

The letter claims the Pope has voiced “unprecedented sympathy” for Martin Luther and suggested there is an affinity between Luther’s ideas and the ideas of “Amoris Laetitia.” It also blames theological modernism for provoking a crisis within the Church.

Other signers include Dr. Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, past president of the Institution of Religious Works and an ethics professor at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, as well Msgr. Antonio Livi, dean emeritus of the Pontifical Lateran University.

Some U.S.-based signers include Dr. Philip Blosser, a philosophy professor at the Detroit archdiocese’s Sacred Heart Major Seminary; Christopher Ferrara, president of the American Catholic Lawyers’ Association and a columnist in the hardline traditionalist Catholic newspaper The Remnant; and Dr. John Rao, a history professor at St. John’s University in New York City who directs the Roman Forum.

Rise in immigration makes us missionaries at home, Pope Francis says

Vatican City, Sep 22, 2017 / 11:41 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Friday, Pope Francis said that the mass arrival of migrants and refugees may have its challenges, but also gives us the opportunity to be missionaries – even without leaving home.

“Contemporary migratory flows constitute a new missionary ‘frontier,’ a privileged opportunity to announce Jesus Christ and his Gospel without moving from our own environment,” the Pope said Sept. 22.

In personal encounters with refugees and migrants, especially those from different faiths, we can “concretely bear witness to the Christian faith,” finding a “fertile ground for the development of a genuine and enriching ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.”

Pope Francis spoke about immigration in an audience with national directors of pastoral care for migrants. They were participating in a meeting organized by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) in Rome Sept. 21-23.

The Pope also said that the arrival of Christian, and particularly Catholic, migrants is an opportunity for the Church in Europe to more fully realize its catholicity, its universality, which is part of the Creed we confess every Sunday at Mass.

“In recent years, many particular Churches in Europe have been enriched by the presence of Catholic migrants who have brought their devotions and their liturgical and apostolic enthusiasm,” he said.

Faced with the massive and complex migration flows of the last several years, and the crisis it has presented for current migration policies, the Church intends simply to remain faithful to her mission: “to love Jesus Christ, to adore and love him, particularly in the poorest and most abandoned,” the Pope said.

The Church’s love towards her brothers and sisters from other countries is a maternal love which “demands to be manifested concretely at all stages of the migratory experience, from departure to journey, from arrival to return…”

And the hope is that each local Church can contribute to this in its own way according to its own abilities. “Recognizing and serving the Lord in these members of his ‘journeying people’ is a responsibility that unites all particular Churches in the profusion of a constant, coordinated and effective effort,” he stated.

In his experience listening to the local Churches in Europe, the Pope said that he senses a “profound discomfort” about the arrival of so many migrants and refugees.

He said he believes this discomfort must be acknowledged, and that it can be understood in light of recent economic crises faced by some countries. It may also be “exacerbated” by the scope of migratory flows, the unpreparedness of host countries, and inadequate national and community policies, he said.

But it also points us to the difficulty still faced in a concrete application of the universality of human rights; for Christians, the logic that the human person should be at the center of all our decisions, as a unique and unrepeatable creation by God.

Francis continued, saying that he would not hide the concern he feels at signs of intolerance, discrimination and xenophobia found in different regions of Europe, which he believes to be motivated by fear and distrust of “the other, the stranger.”

He said he is also worried when Catholic communities turn migrants away under the justification of preserving the original culture and religious identity.

“The Church has spread to all continents through the ‘migration’ of missionaries who were convinced of the universality of the message of salvation of Jesus Christ, intended for men and women of all cultures,” he said.

“In the history of the Church there has been no lack of temptations of exclusivity and the raising of cultural barriers, but the Holy Spirit has always helped us to overcome them, guaranteeing a constant openness to the other, considered as a concrete possibility of growth and enrichment.”

 

Pope Francis: Fighting the mafia starts with cleaning up politics

Vatican City, Sep 21, 2017 / 01:29 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a meeting with Italy's Anti-Mafia Parliamentary Commission on Thursday, Pope Francis said that dismantling the mafia begins with a political commitment to social justice and economic reform.

Corruption “has a contagious and parasitic nature, because it does not nourish what good produces, but…it subtracts and robs,” Pope Francis said Sept. 21.

The meeting landed on the 27th anniversary of the death of Servant of God Rosario Livatino, who was a deputy prosecutor in an Italian court before being killed by mafia for his fight against corruption.

Called a “Martyr of Justice” by John Paul II, the Italian magistrate was commended by Pope Francis, who also praised two other judges – Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino – both killed in 1992.

The Pope's criticism of the mafia made global headlines when he publicly denounced organized crime in 2014. He said members of it were “excommunicated,” which was not a reflection of canon law per se but a call to conversion.

The fight against the mafia and organized crime is essential, the Pope said Thursday, particularly because “they steal the common good, taking away people's hope and dignity.”

However, the battle extends beyond the mafia to corrupt organizations which must also be reclaimed and transformed – and this needs commitment on an economic and political level, he said.

First, authentic politics is an important form of charity, which can work “to ensure a future of hope and to promote the dignity of each person.” And second, economic reform must be shifted to remove systems which magnify inequality and poverty.

The Pope warned that corrupt organizations can serve as an alternative social structure which roots itself in areas where justice and human rights are lacking. Corruption, he noted, "always finds a way to justify itself, presenting itself as the ‘normal’ condition, the solution for those who are ‘shrewd,’ the way to reach one's goals.”

Earlier this year, Pope Francis expressed concern that these criminal groups were using economic, social, and political weaknesses as a “fertile ground to achieve their deplorable projects.”

“The money of dirty affairs and mafia crimes is blood money and produces an unequal power,” he said.

He said that these criminal organizations, whose members often claim to live a devout Christian life while continuing to carry out heinous crimes, create a “social wound.”

He then challenged the international community to greater collaboration and determination to ensure justice and defense for the weakest in society. 

In abuse cases there should be no recourse to appeals, Pope Francis says

Vatican City, Sep 21, 2017 / 12:26 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- There should be no opportunity for appealing canonical cases of sexual abuse against minors when allegations have been proven by evidence, Pope Francis said in spontaneous comments Thursday.

In off-the-cuff remarks to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) Sept. 21, the Pope said that “if pedophilia, an abuse of minors, is proven it is enough to not receive appeals.”

“If there is the evidence, period: it is definitive.”

Pope Francis also explained that he would not consider direct appeals for clemency or reconsideration from priests who have been found guilty of allegations of sexual misconduct. “I have never signed one of these,” he said, “and I will never sign it.”

The Pope elaborated, saying that the Church must consider that a person that commits abuse “is sick, that they suffer from a disease.” He explained “today he is sorry, we forgive him, and then after two years he falls again.”

He also expressed regret for a case in which he chose to impose lenient sanctions against an Italian priest abuser, saying, “I learned in this.”

Speaking at the opening of the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, Francis set aside his prepared remarks, handing them out to be read, explaining that he preferred to talk in a more informal manner.

“I know it was not easy to begin this work,” he told commission members. “It was necessary to go against the current, because it is a reality, the conscience of the Church...came a bit late.”

Because awareness of the problem came late, “the means to solve the problem have come late,” he continued. “I am aware of this difficulty. But it is the reality, I tell you so: we arrived late.”

The practice of moving clergy who were suspected or accused of abuse to a different diocese may have contributed to a slowing of our consciences, he reflected. He said that the Lord has raised “prophetic” men in the Church who have worked to bring this issue to the surface.

One such person the Pope pointed to is Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the president of the PCPM, who frequently raised the issue of the problem of abuse to Pope Francis. The Pope said that Cardinal O’Malley spoke to him about the ministry of Jesus to children.

“Now what I think is that it should be the way to continue with our work,” Francis said. “I say 'ours' because it is not (only) a commission, because it is a commission within the Holy See with the Pope too.”

Speaking about the process for how the Holy See handles abuse cases, Pope Francis said that he believes “for the moment” the responsibility for the resolution of abuse cases should continue to reside with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as it has since 2001.

Some had speculated that the Pope was considering suggestions that the laicization of priests found to have committed abuse be reassigned to the Roman Rota and other tribunals of the Vatican.

“But in this moment the problem is real... it is grave that some have not taken notice of the problem,” he said, and for this reason the competency must remain with the CDF until the whole Church becomes aware.

There are many cases, at the moment, that do not move forward quickly, the Pope noted, but the newly-appointed secretary and prefect of the CDF, Bishop-designate Giacomo Morandi and Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer, are working to add more people to work on the process of abuse cases, he said.

The Pope concluded by thanking the commission for their work, saying without them it would not have been possible to carry out the work already done, nor would it be possible to continue their future work within the Curia.

“That's what I wanted to tell you spontaneously,” he said, “then you have the most formal, educated speech there, but I think that this you have the right to know.”

 

Pope reiterates Church’s ‘zero tolerance’ on abuse of minors

Vatican City, Sep 21, 2017 / 08:16 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Thursday in a written speech Pope Francis reiterated the Catholic Church’s commitment to the protection of minors from sexual abuse, stating that the Church will continue to take a “zero tolerance” stance against offenders.

“Let me say quite clearly that sexual abuse is a horrible sin, completely opposite and in contradiction to what Christ and the Church teach us,” the Pope’s prepared remarks stated Sept. 21.

“That is why, I reiterate today once again that the Church, at all levels, will respond with the application of the most firm measures to all those who have betrayed their call and abused the children of God.”

Pope Francis addressed members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors at the opening of their plenary assembly. Handing out copies of his prepared statement to those present, he then delivered off-the-cuff remarks.

In his prepared speech, the Pope wrote that the Church “irrevocably and at all levels seeks to apply the principle of ‘zero tolerance’ against sexual abuse of minors.”

He explained that the disciplinary measures which have been adopted by particular churches must apply to everyone who works within the institutions of the Church.

“However, the primary responsibility is of the bishops, priests and religious, of those who have received the vocation to offer their lives to the service, including the vigilant protection of all vulnerable children, young people and adults,” he continued.

The Pope noted how he has personally had the privilege of listening to the stories of victims and survivors of abuse and that in these encounters people have openly shared the effects that sexual abuse has had on their lives and on the lives of their families.

“I know that you too have had the blessed occasion to participate in the same meetings,” he said to commission members, “and that they continue to nourish your personal commitment to do everything possible to combat this evil and eliminate this ruin among us.”

Francis said that he wanted to share at that gathering the “profound pain I feel in my soul for the situation of abused children.” The sexual abuse scandal is, he continued, “a terrible ruin for the whole of humanity” affecting vulnerable children, young people and adults in every country and society.

The whole experience has also been “very painful” for the Church and is something “we are ashamed of,” he said.


“But we have also experienced a call, which we are sure comes directly from our Lord Jesus Christ: to embrace the mission of the Gospel for the protection of all vulnerable minors and adults.”

Francis spoke to the members of the commission after an address by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, president of the commission, and after presentations by two commission members, Sr. Hermenegild Makoro, CPS, and Mr. Bill Kilgallon, on the projects of the commission’s six working groups from the past three years.

Praising the work of the commission over the last three and a half years, the Pope said that they have worked to consistently emphasize the most important principles guiding the Church's efforts in abuse protection.

He also said that he was happy to hear that many churches have taken their advice of holding a Day of Prayer and of dialoguing with victims and survivors.

In his address, O’Malley said that the commission considers the safeguarding of minors and vulnerable adults to be “an integral part of the mission of the Church.”

“The Church’s care for victims/survivors of abuse and their families is a primary consideration in this mission. By listening attentively and sharing experiences with them, our Commission has benefitted greatly from all that survivors have offered to us.”

Other things the commission has emphasized has been educational and training programs, especially for Church leaders, and assistance for local churches to develop and implement guidelines, he said.

Following the audience with Pope Francis, he said the commission will hold their plenary assembly to continue to discuss these projects and prepare recommendations for the Pope for the continued work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Francis said that the Church is called to be “a place of piety and compassion, especially for those who have suffered.”

The Church is a field hospital, he concluded, one which accompanies each of us on our spiritual journey.

“I am fully confident that the Commission will continue to be a place where we can listen with interest to the voices of the victims and the survivors. Because we have much to learn from them and their personal stories of courage and perseverance.”

Vatican official laments lack of fair trade label for commercial fishing

Vatican City, Sep 21, 2017 / 12:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- An upcoming world congress by the Catholic organization Apostleship of the Sea will focus on the plight of fishermen, who frequently face exploitation in carrying out their work, according to one Vatican official.

He lamented that no ‘Fair Trade’ certification exists for their product.

“We have to be educated,” Fr. Bruno Ciceri told CNA Sept. 20. “Frozen food here is cheap, but it’s because people are exploited, because there is forced labor, because there are trafficked people that work aboard these fishing vessels.”

Referring to the label given to products from developing countries that adhere to ethical standards of trading, he said, “We talk a lot about ‘Fair Trade.’ I don't know the day when we will have ‘fair trade’ also in fishing. That will make a difference.”

Fr. Ciceri is a member of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. He is also the Vatican delegate for the Apostleship of the Sea, which provides pastoral care for seafarers and their families.

He also worked for the Apostleship of the Sea in Taiwan for 13 years.

Their next World Congress, which is held every five years, will take place in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, Oct. 1-7. Notable attendees will include Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, and Archbishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Taiwan was chosen for the 25th congress largely because the majority of the world's fishing fleets are concentrated in the island nation; about 36 percent of tuna fishing fleets in the world are Taiwanese.

When it comes to the fishing industry Taiwan faces several grave challenges, Fr. Ciceri said. For one, because Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations it is not obliged to follow UN conventions on the fishing trade.

In general though, the challenges are the same affecting the whole of the industry, he pointed out, including poor working conditions and wage and labor exploitation, such as what happens between fishermen and brokers.

For example, Fr. Ciceri said one situation that is common is when a broker will contract fishermen with a promise of a certain salary. Of this, maybe only 20 percent is given directly to the fisherman and 80 percent will be held by the broker, only to be given over after the fisherman has completed a three year contract. If he leaves before this, he loses everything.

So the fishing industry needs to “clean up their act,” he said, but so does the buyer – the big companies that buy the fish to import.

One thing the Apostleship of the Sea tries to do, he said, is ensure that big companies are checking their supply lines and guaranteeing that they are not profiting from forced labor or other violations.

“Often these companies just make sure that there are all of the hygienic things… but they don't consider the people,” Fr. Ciceri said. “While for us as the Church, people are important. Fish are important, but people are more important.”

Sometimes you will read on cans of tuna that it has been caught without “hurting any turtles or without killing any dolphins,” he said. “Thanks very much, but what about the fishermen?”

“But that is not considered. I think there should be a sort of balance on these things. It's true that we have to worry about the fish and other things, but we have to worry also about the people.”

For the average person who wants to do something, he continued, even the awareness of these practices, and why the products may be so cheap, is a good first step.

“It's true that we would always like to save money,” but maybe sometimes we could consider buying the more expensive product that we know pays people justly.

Cardinal Turkson sent a message July 9 for “Sea Sunday,” reflecting on these issues, saying that at the congress in October “we will strengthen our network with the objective to increase cooperation between the Apostleship of the Sea of the different nations; we will share resources and best practices to develop specific skills, particularly in the fishing sector.”

“Let us ask Mary, Star of the Sea, to sustain our service and dedication to seafarers, fishermen and their families and to protect all the people of the sea until they reach the ‘safe port’ of heaven.”