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Pope simplifies annulment process, asks that it be free of charge

A pilgrim waves Argentina's flag as Pope Francis arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Sept. 2. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service

9.8.2015 10:23 AM ET

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — While a juridical process is necessary for making accurate judgments, the Catholic Church’s marriage annulment process must be quicker, cheaper and much more of a pastoral ministry, Pope Francis said.

Rewriting a section of the Latin-rite Code of Canon Law and of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, Pope Francis said he was not “promoting the nullity of marriages, but the quickness of the processes, as well as a correct simplicity” of the procedures so that Catholic couples are not “oppressed by the shadow of doubt” for prolonged periods.

Continue reading Pope simplifies annulment process, asks that it be free of charge

Our common home: Pope’s Encyclical

The long-anticipated Encyclical released this month by the Holy Father is hardly light reading. Laudato Si’ (“Praise be to you”) of the Holy Father Francis on Care for Our Common Home contains more than 40,000 words, quotes from Popes, saints, and biblical passages, and the guidance of an energized Pontiff. Many of his predecessors have cautioned that human interference of a fragile planet is a major moral issue, but the Encyclical allows Pope Francis to place the global degradation of the poor and the global degradation of the environment in one cart. Cardinal Seán O’Malley describes the Encyclical as “designed to have a long shelf-life. The problems it analyzes are both urgent and complex; the responses to these must begin now, but will take time to come to fruition.” Parishioners are invited to read some excerpts from this historic document here, and examine the Encyclical at the Vatican web site.

“The destruction of the human environment is extremely serious, not only because God has entrusted the world to us men and women, but because human life is itself a gift which must be defended from various forms of debasement.”

“Authentic human development has a moral character.”

“… integral ecology calls for openness to categories which transcend the language of mathematics and biology, and take us to the heart of what it is to be human.”

“Let us review, however cursorily, those questions which are troubling us today and which we can no longer sweep under the carpet. Our goal is not to amass information or to satisfy curiosity, but rather to become painfully aware, to dare to turn what is happening to the world into our own personal suffering and thus to discover what each of us can do about it.”

“We were not meant to be inundated by cement, asphalt, glass and metal, and deprived of physical contact with nature.”

“Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat [global] warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it.”

“Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry. They have no other financial activities or resources which can enable them to adapt to climate change or to face natural disasters, and their access to social services and protection is very limited.“

“Caring for ecosystems demands far-sightedness, since no one looking for quick and easy profit is truly interested in their preservation. But the cost of the damage caused by such selfish lack of concern is much greater than the economic benefits to be obtained.“

“Inequity affects not only individuals but entire countries; it compels us to consider an ethics of international relations. A true ‘ecological debt’ exists … connected to commercial imbalances with effects on the environment, and the disproportionate use of natural resources by certain countries over long periods of time.“

“…our common home is falling into serious disrepair.”

Cardinal Statement on “Laudato Si”

Following is the Cardinal’s statement on the Pope’s encyclical letter, “Laudato Si'”.  For full coverage please visit The Pilot website here and the Archdiocese of Boston website here.

Following the Cardinal’s statement we are providing a CatholicTV programming note regarding the encyclical.



Thursday, June 18, 2015

I welcome with joy and gratitude the encyclical letter, “Laudato Si'” (“Praise be to You”) on the urgent human, moral and religious issue of the environment. The first pope to take the name of Francis opens the letter with a phrase from St. Francis of Assisi whose spirit and vision is evident throughout the encyclical.

The Holy Father has given us a powerful, careful, prayerful analysis of two great ideas. The first idea, “Our Common Home,” the phrase he uses to describe the environment; the “home” for the human family is in severe danger and needs immediate protection and healing at the global, national and local levels of life. The second idea is that while the threatened state of the environment is a universal challenge affecting us all, those most in danger in the present and future are those already poor and vulnerable, within states and across the globe.

This constant linkage throughout the encyclical of the dual need to respect and protect “Our Common Home” and the need to respect and protect the dignity and lives of the poor may be regarded as the distinctive characteristic of this powerful message of Pope Francis. Both of these themes have been evident since the beginning of Pope Francis’s pontificate but this letter joins them with new depth and specificity.

“Laudato Si'” is permeated by a sense of human, moral and religious urgency, but the Pope recognizes the factual complexity of the joining of the environment and poverty. He states his case this way: “We are not faced with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental” (#139). In preparing the encyclical the Holy Father has consulted broadly in the scientific community, convinced, as he says, that the challenge facing “Our Common Home” provides a moment when religion and science can be joined in a crucial partnership.

The encyclical letter provides an overview of the specific issues which are well known in secular discussions of the environment: climate changes, shortages of safe clean water, the economic impact of choices made to address environmental threats and the need for wise and courageous political choices nationally and globally.

The letter is the voice of a pastor and teacher who leads a universal church across regions, cultures and nations. Pope Francis draws deeply on the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures and the Catholic social tradition as he develops the religious and moral foundation of his message. He relies heavily on the teaching of his immediate predecessors in the papacy; beginning with John XXII though Paul VI and particularly St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Chapter Two of the encyclical “The Gospel of Creation” draws deeply and broadly from biblical and theological scholarship to stress the specific meaning the environmental challenge is for Catholics. But the letter in the Pope’s mind has a broader audience. He states his intention at the outset to enter into the diverse global dialogue already underway about the threats to “Our Common Home.” He offers this letter as a contribution to the global conversation. He acknowledges with gratitude the resources other religious communities and traditions have made to the conversation, and he explicitly states that while many participants addressing the environment do not hold a religious perspective, he invites consideration of what religious vision and tradition can offer.

When Pope Francis turns to the moral dimensions of the environment and poverty, his themes are solidly grounded in the Catholic tradition of social teaching. Familiar Catholic themes of social justice, the option for the poor and the demands of the common good permeate the letter. The Holy Father adds a distinctive note to these in his call for an “integral ecology” seeking to bring the traditional ideas to confront the authentically new challenges posed by the environment and poverty.

“Laudato Si'” is a teaching document to be sure; but it is also a call for action at every level of our common life. In the final two chapters of the letter, Pope Francis highlights some of the choices which face individuals, states and international institutions if the twin problems of protecting the environment and honoring the equal dignity of all are to be faced effectively.

This encyclical, appearing still early in a new century, is designed to have a long shelf-life. The problems it analyzes are both urgent and complex; the responses to these must begin now, but will take time to come to fruition. I commend the letter to audiences inside and beyond the Catholic community and I pray for its reception and effective implementation.

CatholicTV Programming note:

CatholicTV is airing special coverage related to the release of Laudato Si.

The Ecology Encyclical: Care for Our Common Home

A panel discussion on the major themes and reactions to Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si (Praised Be To You). The CatholicTV Network and will air this presentation as follows (all times Eastern): Tuesday, June 23 at 11am, Tuesday, June 23 at 8pm, Wednesday, June 24 at 5am, Wednesday, June 24 at 1pm, Thursday, June 25 at 9:30pm, Friday, June 26 at 3:30pm

Creation – Starting June 22

In light of Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si, an attempt to discover why we should care for the environment. The CatholicTV Network and will air Creation beginning June 22 at the following times (all times Eastern):

Mondays 6pm, Tuesdays at 8:30am, Wednesday at 2:30pm, Thursdays at 4:30am, Saturdays at 9:30pm

Please visit CatholicTV here for more information.

About the Archdiocese of Boston: The Diocese of Boston was founded on April 8, 1808 and was elevated to Archdiocese in 1875. Currently serving the needs of 1.8 million Catholics, the Archdiocese of Boston is an ethnically diverse and spiritually enriching faith community consisting of 289 parishes, across 144 communities, educating approximately 42,000 students in its Catholic schools and 156,000 in religious education classes each year, ministering to the needs of 200,000 individuals through its pastoral and social service outreach.   Mass is celebrated in nearly twenty different languages each week. For more information, please visit

Pope Francis’ statement on the environment

Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, “Laudato Sii” which means, “Praise be” comes from St. Francis of Assisi’s “Canticle of Creatures.” Catholics around the world are being asked to pray for the environment, especially on Thursday, the release date of the Pope’s encyclical.  Below is the Canticle of the Creatures prayer.  Please pray this or one of your own on Thursday, June 18 and include prayers for the environment in your daily prayers.  More on the encyclical to come.

Canticle of the Creatures – St. Francis of Assisi

Most High, all-powerful, good Lord,
Yours are the praises, the glory, and the honor, and all blessing,
To You alone, Most High, do they belong,
and no human is worthy to mention Your name.
Praised be You, my Lord, with all Your creatures,
especially Sir Brother Sun,
Who is the day and through whom You give us light.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor;
and bears a likeness of You, Most High One.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
in heaven You formed them clear and precious and beautiful.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Wind,
and through the air, cloudy and serene, and every kind of weather,
through whom You give sustenance to Your creatures.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Sister Water,
who is very useful and humble and precious and chaste.
Praised be You, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom You light the night,
and he is beautiful and playful and robust and strong.
Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Mother Earth,
who sustains and governs us,
and who produces various fruit with colored flowers and herbs.

Praised be You, my Lord, through those who give pardon for Your love,
and bear infirmity and tribulation.
Blessed are those who endure in peace
for by You, Most High, shall they be crowned.

Praised be You, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whom no one living can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin.
Blessed are those whom death will find in Your most holy will,
for the second death shall do them no harm.

Praise and bless my Lord and give Him thanks
and serve Him with great humility.

What do you put on a coat of arms?

Cardinal O'Malley's coat of arms

A coat of arms is an emblem used to represent a knight, family, king, country, or institution. Coats of arms are also used by popes, cardinals, and bishops. These richly detailed drawings indicate one’s traits, duties, history, and beliefs. The Pope’s coat of arms, redesigned in 2013, includes an eight-point star and flower to represent Mary and Saint Joseph, with the seal of the Society of Jesus and the Pope’s motto, Miserando atque eligendo. (“Having mercy, he called him.”)

The coat of arms of Cardinal Seán O’Malley (shown below), also known as an archepiscopal heraldic achievement, is decorated with many interesting elements. Wavy lines on the blue shield indicate Boston Harbor, while a gold cross indicates the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Jean Legebvre de Cheverus, the first Bishop of Boston. There are also references to the Cardinal’s order, the Order of St. Francis, and his honors as Knight Commander of the Order of Prince Henry the Navigator and Hospitalier of St. John of Jerusalem.

To learn more about this incredibly detailed emblem, visit the Cardinal’s Corner at

Pope greets homeless

Pope Francis gave a special greeting to 150 homeless who were given a tour of the Sistine Chapel. Read about this special event.

The Official Vatican Network is your resource for news from Pope Francis and the Vatican, with archives, press releases, CTV, Vatican Radio, and more. Don’t forget to follow Pope Francis on Twitter!

Vatican calls for release of Nigerian schoolgirls

From the Vatican—The Vatican on Thursday made an urgent appeal for the release of over 200 Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram on the night of April 14th. Responding to journalists’ questions, the head of the Holy See Press Office, Fr. Federico Lombardi noted that the abduction of so many young girls is just the latest episode of “other horrible forms of violence” for which the militant Islamic group has become known in Nigeria.

“The denial of any kind of respect for life and for the dignity of the human person, even the most innocent, vulnerable and defenseless,” Fr. Lombardi said, “calls for the strongest condemnation, arouses the most heartfelt feelings of compassion for the victims and instills a sense of horror for the physical and spiritual suffering and the incredible humiliation they have suffered.”

He said the Holy See adds its voice to the many appeals for the liberation of the girls and for them to be returned to normal life again. “We hope and pray,” Fr. Lombardi concluded, “that Nigeria, thanks to the commitment of all who are in a position to help, “may find the way to end the situation of conflict and hateful terrorism which is a source of incalculable suffering.”

The kidnapping and subsequent threat by Boko Haram’s leader to “sell” the schoolgirls has provoked international outrage and brought offers of support for rescue efforts from China, the U.S., France and Britain.

Pontifical Commission created for the protection of minors

An announcement from the Holy See

The Holy Father Francis has instituted the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which was announced on Dec. 5, 2013, and called to be a part of it:

Dr. Catherine Bonnet (France)
Mrs. Marie Collins (Ireland)
Prof. the Baroness Sheila Hollins (United Kingdom)
Card. Sean Patrick O’Malley, OFM Cap (U.S.)
Prof. Claudio Papale (Italy)
Her Excellency Hanna Suchocka (Poland)
Rev. Humberto Miguel Yañez, SJ (Argentina)
Rev. Hans Zollner, SJ (Germany)

Their principal role will be to prepare the Statutes of the Commission, which will define its tasks and competencies. Other members will be added to the Commission in the future, chosen from various geographical areas of the world.

Continue reading Pontifical Commission created for the protection of minors