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Colombians to choose new President

Colombians go to the polls Sunday to choose a new President in an election that is polarized by left and right.

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Pope sends condolences upon death of Cardinal Angelo Sodano

Pope Francis offers his condolences for the death of Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who served as the Vatican Secretary of State for 15 years and who died on Friday at the age of 94.

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Laudato si' family in Honduras: ‘We feel part of an integral Church’

The Canales Sheran family doesn’t come from a long lineage of Catholics. But the family of five has wholeheartedly embraced Pope Francis’ message in Laudato si’ and they seek in everything to lead their community in Honduras to care and advocate for God’s creation.

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Life Monument intended to reveal beauty and sacredness of life

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, will bless a new sculpture entitled “Life Monument” on Sunday in Rome. The bronze statue, by Canadian artist Timothy Paul Schmalz, depicts the Blessed Virgin Mary with the unborn Christ Child.

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Angola: Our liturgies must invite people to want to participate.

Angola’s 13th National Liturgy Week has ended in the historic Diocese of Mbanza Congo with a call for liturgies that are well prepared, appealing and yet observe the Church’s liturgical norms.

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Pope to Mongolian Buddhists: Humanity must renounce all forms of violence

Pope Francis greets a Buddhist delegation from Mongolia visiting the Vatican, and calls for interreligious dialogue to help humanity embrace nonviolence in every aspect of life.

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Pentecost Novena: Here's how to pray the first novena

Duccio's Pentecost (1308) / public domain

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 27, 2022 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

The first novena ever prayed is the Pentecost Novena, or the Novena to the Holy Spirit. This year, it begins on Friday, May 27, and concludes on Saturday, June 4.

Catholics worldwide often recite the novena during the nine days that fall between the feast of the Ascension, when Christ rises body and soul to heaven, and the feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit comes upon the apostles, Mary, and the first followers of Christ.

This year, Pentecost falls on June 5.

The prayer recalls and invites Catholics to participate in the nine days that the Blessed Virgin Mary and the apostles spent in prayer after Christ ascended into heaven. Together, they prayed in Jerusalem in anticipation of the Holy Spirit’s coming, which Christ had promised them. 

The word “novena” is derived from the Latin word for nine. Catholics will frequently pray a novena — a prayer repeated once a day for nine days — for a particular intention. This novena asks for the Holy Spirit’s seven gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.

There are many versions of this novena, including one derived from the "The Sanctifier" by Servant of God Luis Maria Martinez, Archbishop of Mexico from 1937 to 1956, and made available by the Daughters of St. Paul

The Archdiocese of Denver recommends the one below, adapted from novenas found on Adoremus.org and Angeluspress.org.  

End each day with the following prayer for all seven gifts:

O Lord Jesus Christ who, before ascending into heaven, promised to send the Holy Spirit to finish your work in the souls of your apostles and disciples, be pleased to grant the same Holy Spirit to me that he may perfect in my soul the work of your grace and love.  Grant me the spirit of wisdom, that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal; the spirit of understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of your divine truth; the spirit of counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven; the spirit of fortitude that I may bear my cross with you and that I may overcome all obstacles that oppose my salvation; the spirit of knowledge that I may know God and know myself in him; the spirit of piety that I may find the service of God sweet and pleasurable; the spirit of fear of the Lord that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to offend him.  Animate me in all things with your spirit.  Amen.

Day 1: Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit 

Holy Spirit, Lord of Light,

from the clear celestial height,

thy pure beaming radiance give. 

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your divine love.  Send forth your spirit and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.  O God, who has taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that by the gift of the same Spirit we may always be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Day 2: Prayer for the Gift of Holy Fear 

Come thou father of the poor,

come with treasures which endure,

come thou light of all that live. 

Come, O blessed Spirit of Holy Fear, penetrate my inmost heart, that I may set you, my Lord and God, before my face forever; help me to shun all things that can offend you, and make me worthy to appear before the pure eyes of your Divine Majesty in heaven, where you live and reign in the unity of the Blessed Trinity, God, world without end.  Amen.

Day 3: Prayer for the Gift of Piety 

Thou of all consolers best,

visiting the troubled breast,

dost refreshing peace bestow. 

Come, O blessed Spirit of Piety, possess my heart.  Implant in my soul filial love toward God my heavenly Father, and brotherly love for all, so that I may delight in the service of God and my neighbor.  Amen.

Day 4: Prayer for the Gift of Fortitude 

Thou in toil art comfort sweet,

pleasant coolness in the heat,

solace in the midst of woe. 

Come of blessed Spirit of Fortitude, uphold my soul in time of trouble and adversity, sustain my efforts after holiness, strengthen my weakness, give me courage against all the assaults of my enemies, that I may never be overcome and separated from you, my God and greatest Good.  Amen.

Day 5: Prayer for the Gift of Knowledge 

Light immortal, light divine,

visit thou these hearts of thine,

and our inmost being fill. 

Come, O blessed Spirit of Knowledge, and grant that I may perceive the will of the Father; show me the nothingness of earthly things, that I may realize their vanity and use them only for your glory and my own salvation, looking ever beyond them to you and your eternal rewards.  Amen.

Day 6: Prayer for the Gift of Understanding 

If thou take thy grace away,

nothing pure in man will stay;

all his good is turned to ill. 

Come, O Spirit of Understanding, and enlighten our minds that we may know and believe all the mysteries of salvation; and may merit at last to see the eternal light in your light; and in the light of glory to have a clear vision of you, the Father, and the Son.  Amen.

Day 7: Prayer for the Gift of Counsel 

Heal our wounds, our strength renew;

on our dryness pour thy dew;

wash the stains of guilt away. 

Come, O Spirit of Counsel, help and guide me in all my ways, that I may always do your holy will.  Incline my heart to that which is good; turn it away from all that is evil and direct me by the straight path of your commandments to that goal of eternal life for which I long.  Amen.

Day 8: Prayer for the Gift of Wisdom 

Bend the stubborn heart and will,

melt the frozen, warm the chill,

guide the steps that go astray. 

Come, O Spirit of Wisdom, and reveal to my soul the mysteries of heavenly things, their exceeding greatness, power, and beauty.  Teach me to love them above and beyond the passing joys and satisfactions of earth.  Help me to attain them and possess them forever.  Amen.

Day 9: Prayer for the Fruits of the Holy Spirit 

Thou on those who evermore,

thee confess and thee adore,

in thy sevenfold gift descend. 

Give them comfort when they die,

give them life with thee on high,

give them joys which never end. 

Come, O Divine Spirit, fill my heart with your heavenly gifts: your charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, that I may never weary in the service of God, but by continued faithful submission to your inspiration may merit to be united eternally with you in the love of the Father and the Son.  Amen.

Eucharist film again in US theaters for one day only

"ALIVE: Who is there?" is a new documentary about personal encounters with the Eucharist. / Hakuna Films/Bosco Films

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 27, 2022 / 15:23 pm (CNA).

A film highlighting the transformative power of the Eucharist will have an encore showing in theaters in the U.S. on June 21, the day on which the bishops’ Eucharistic revival will begin.

Founder of Bosco Films — the organization that is marketing the film “ALIVE: Who is there?” — Lucía González-Barandiarán said in a press release that “This is exactly what we prayed for.” 

She continued: “We are calling on Catholics everywhere to turn out at the theaters! Bring your family, those who are near and those who are far off, and let them experience the truth of the Eucharist and the powerful testimonies of the unlikely men and women who share their stories. No one will leave the theater the same. We have given you a movie about the Eucharist, now it is up to you to lead people to the theaters!”

Directed and produced by Spanish filmmakers, the Bosco Films and Hakuna Films documentary “ALIVE: Who is there?” features the testimonies of five men and women who share how the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist has transformed their lives.

The film, which is in Spanish with English subtitles, also includes bonus content, including commentary from Bishop Andrew Cozzens of Crookston, the U.S. bishops’ conference chair on evangelization and catechesis, who is leading the three-year national eucharistic revival.

Cozzens told CNA in April that he hoped many would go see the movie, while praising the film's mode of using testimony to teach about the Real Presence.

Father Jose Pedro Manglano, founder of the Hakuna movement, said in the press release that “ALIVE always creates a movement and the movement we hope to create is one around renewed Eucharistic devotion.”

“It's no coincidence with God that the encore showing of ALIVE will take place exactly as the United States Catholic bishops begin their initiative for Eucharistic revival,” he added.

Tickets for the 90-minute-long documentary can be bought through Fathom Events. The film is planned to be available in more than 300 locations across the U.S.

On its April 25 broadcast in theaters, 30,000 tickets to the film were sold in more than 750 locations across the country. 

As of right now, Bosco films is in negotiations with Australian distributors to bring the film there. Streaming and DVD will be available after its showing in theaters.

“ALIVE will serve as a tool for Catholic dioceses, parishes, ministries and families to share the message of Jesus Christ present in the Eucharist at a time when the world is in great need of the light, hope and power of Jesus Christ,” the press release says. 

“In a very special way, the encore presentation of ALIVE  will become a cinematic platform for parish and ministry groups wanting to participate in the national movement toward Eucharistic revival in the U.S.”

Vandalism of pro-life pregnancy centers continues across US with incident near Seattle

null / Photographee.eu/Shutterstock.

Denver Newsroom, May 27, 2022 / 12:39 pm (CNA).

Pro-life organizations and Catholic church buildings continue to be targeted with arson and graffiti attacks, incidents which began in earnest earlier this month after a leaked draft opinion suggested that the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade and return the question of abortion policy to the states. 

In the latest reported incident, a Seattle-area crisis pregnancy center was tagged with graffiti and vandalized in the early morning hours of May 25. In addition to the red paint, at least five of the front windows of Next Step Pregnancy Center in Lynnwood, Washington were smashed. 

Security video footage shared online by a local radio host shows a lone person dressed in black, spray painting the slogans “Jane’s revenge” and “If abortions aren’t safe, you aren’t either.”

The Next Step center provides free pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, counseling, post-abortive support, pregnancy loss support, and adoption information, according to its website

"I believe that we were targeted because a lot of people, including maybe that person, are very misinformed and misguided about what really goes on in a pregnancy resource clinic,"  Heather Vasquez, director of the center, told local radio host Jason Rantz.

"I think there’s a lot of misconceptions about what’s really happening here. But none of them ever want to come in and, you know, be with us and see what happens day to day."

The center has stayed open and continued its work despite the damage, and Lynnwood police have opened a case on the incident, Fox News reported. 

The latest spate of attacks on pregnancy centers began with an incident at the headquarters of Wisconsin Family Action, an organization that advocates for the unborn, marriage, and religious liberty, which were set on fire May 8. "A molotov cocktail, which did not ignite, was thrown inside the building. It also appears a separate fire was started in response," a police report said.

Graffiti left outside the building, located on the north side of Madison, Wisconsin, said, "If abortions aren't safe than you aren't either" — matching the graffiti left in Washington. 

A group called “Jane’s Revenge” reportedly claimed responsibility for the Wisconsin attack. 

That same evening, Oregon Right to Life reported that Molotov cocktails were thrown at the organization’s offices in Keizer, igniting a small fire. The fire was quickly put out and no one was hurt.

Since then, there have been several other notable attacks. In Denton, Texas, near Dallas, two women's resource centers, Woman to Woman Resource Center and Loreto House, were vandalized over the May 7-8 weekend. The buildings were spray painted with slogans such as “Forced birth is murder” and “Not a clinic.”

In Maryland, the ​​Alpha Pregnancy Center in Reisterstown, northwest of Baltimore, suffered spray-painted threats May 14 including "If abortions aren't safe, neither are you,” "Not a clinic," and "You're anti-choice and not pro-life." Those messages were also signed as being from "Jane's Revenge.” 

Other incidents have been reported at pro-life centers in Frederick, Maryland and Alexandria, Virginia. 

Catholic church buildings have been targeted too. 

St. John XXIII parish in Fort Collins, about an hour north of Denver, was tagged with graffiti in the early morning of May 7, police said. “My Body My Choice” and a symbol that appears to be an “A” signifying “anarchy” were written on the church’s exterior. Some exterior glass panels at the church also were broken.

The look and style of the graffiti appears similar to that which appeared on a Catholic church building in nearby Boulder a few days prior. Sacred Heart of Mary Parish was defaced with pro-abortion slogans the evening of May 3, marking the second time in less than a year that the parish has been targeted with graffiti of this sort. 

Is Pope Francis about to name new cardinals?

Pope Francis creates five new cardinals during a consistory in St. Peter's Basilica on June 28, 2017. / L'Osservatore Romano.

Vatican City, May 27, 2022 / 11:10 am (CNA).

Pope Francis could soon convene a consistory for the creation of new cardinals, taking the number of cardinals eligible to take part in a future conclave over the 120 limit established by Paul VI.

Rumors of a new consistory have multiplied in recent weeks because the new Vatican constitution Praedicate evangelium will come into force on June 5, the feast of Pentecost. Several new Vatican dicasteries will come into being that day and there is an expectation that their leaders will be named cardinals, though the constitution emphasizes that laypeople can lead certain departments.

Pope Francis has two options. He can wait until the end of the year, when the number of cardinal electors will drop to 110 and he will therefore have 10 slots available. Or he can convene a consistory on June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. A consistory that day would, in all likelihood, take the number of cardinal electors over 120. But then their number is expected to drop in the following months.

The College of Cardinals currently has 117 cardinal electors. Of these, 12 were created by John Paul II, 38 by Benedict XVI, and 67 by Pope Francis. Cardinals created by Pope Francis account for 57% of the cardinal electors.

The last consistory creating new cardinals was on Nov. 28, 2020. Up to that point, Pope Francis had convened a consistory every year since 2014. But 2021 passed without the creation of new cardinals.

So far this year, four cardinal electors have already turned 80, and another six will do so before 2022 ends. The last will be Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga on Dec. 29.

Of these 10 cardinals, only four were created by Pope Francis. Therefore, if Pope Francis decided to name 10 new cardinal electors and return to the maximum limit of 120 electors established by Paul VI and confirmed by John Paul II, there would be 76 cardinals created by him in a possible conclave. That is to say, only four fewer than the 80 cardinals who represent the two-thirds of votes needed to elect a new pope.

Pope Francis has generally chosen candidates who are little known in the wider Church, with more pastoral than theological profiles, and with great attention to local churches that are considered marginalized, such as those in Tonga, Cape Verde, and the Central African Republic.

Any discussion of conclaves is, of course, speculative. It is not known who the cardinals will vote for. When they enter the Sistine Chapel, they are isolated, without the possibility of contact with the outside world. There, they ponder the choice of the next pontiff based more on pragmatic considerations than geopolitical ones.

But studying the composition of the College of Cardinals is still worthwhile. If nothing else, it allows us to understand what direction Pope Francis wants to give to the Church and bishops around the world.

Reviewing Pope Francis’ seven consistories creating new cardinals, three fundamental criteria can be distinguished.

The first is unpredictability. The second is a desire to expand the representation of the Church to the most remote and least Christian regions. The third is that at least one new cardinal should represent a connection to the past.

On the first point, Pope Francis has shown that he can choose anyone as a cardinal. But there are some figures who are more likely to receive red hats due to their positions at the Vatican. They include Archbishop Lazarus You Heung-sik, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Archbishop Arthur Roche, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, and Archbishop Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, president of the Governatorate of Vatican City State.

Then there are the less obvious possibilities. The number of Italian cardinals has consistently decreased under Pope Francis. Traditionally cardinalatial sees such as Naples, Palermo, Venice, Milan, and Turin are currently without a red hat. But the pope may opt for Archbishop Marco Tasca of Genoa, even though his predecessor, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, is still among the cardinal electors.

He might also reward Archbishop Gintaras Grušas of Vilnius, Lithuania, the president of the Council of European Bishops' Conferences (CCEE).

Among the surprises, there could also be another Italian: Monsignor Pierangelo Sequeri, president of the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences. Sequeri is 77 years old and would therefore be a cardinal elector.

With the red hat, would Pope Francis somehow wish to bless the new direction of the institute named after the Polish pope but profoundly reshaped in recent years?

It is a hypothesis, as is a red hat for Archbishop Piero Marini, Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations from 1987 to 2007 and, until this year, president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses.

Both Sequeri and Marini would arguably fit into the category of cardinals who represent a connection with the past. One would underline the new theological course under Pope Francis and the other the new liturgical line expressed most recently through the motu proprio Traditionis custodes.

A red hat for Marini, who was known for his progressive liturgical ideas during the pontificate of John Paul II, would say more than a thousand words about the direction that Pope Francis wants to give to the Church.

France could also gain a red hat. Apart from Cardinal Dominique Mamberti, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, Pope Francis has not placed a red hat on a French head since his election in 2013. With former Paris archbishop Cardinal André Vingt-Trois turning 80 on Nov. 7, and losing his right to vote in a conclave, there is a possible opening.

Spain currently has four cardinals: the archbishops of Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona, ​​and Valladolid. Archbishop Francisco Cherro Chaves of Toledo, the Primate of Spain, is not a cardinal. But insiders think that is unlikely to change.

Looking at Europe, the absence of red hats in influential archdioceses such as Kraków, Poland, and Armagh, Northern Ireland, is striking.

Neither the United States nor Canada seems a likely destination for a new red hat. The U.S. already has six resident cardinal electors: Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, and Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark. There are three others in Rome: Cardinal Raymond Burke, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, and Cardinal James Harvey.

Canada, meanwhile, has two residential archbishops — Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto and Cardinal Gérald Lacroix of Quebec — and two curial cardinals, Cardinal Michael Czerny and Cardinal Marc Ouellet.

In Latin America, the pope is thought to be able to give the red hat to Archbishop Carlos Mattasoglio of Lima, Peru, and Archbishop Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo of Belo Horizonte, the president of Brazil’s bishops’ conference.

Africa is currently under-represented in the College of Cardinals (as well as among the heads of Vatican dicasteries) and three African cardinals turned 80 in 2021. Pope Francis could look to South Sudan, where he intends to visit in July. A possible candidate would be Archbishop Stephen Ameyu Martin Mulla of Juba.

But the pope might also gravitate toward Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye of Dakar, Senegal, or Archbishop Siegfried Mandla Jwara of Durban, South Africa.

Australia does not currently have a cardinal elector, and the two most prominent names would be Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney and Archbishop Peter Comensoli of Melbourne. But the possibility of a red hat for Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane should not be underestimated. Coleridge was until recently the president of the Australian bishops’ conference and was seemingly highly esteemed by Pope Francis during the 2015 family synod.

Oceania could also be rewarded with a cardinal, perhaps from Papua New Guinea, where the pope has indicated that he wants to travel.

Asia now has 15 cardinal electors and is probably unlikely to gain many more at a new consistory.

Yet geographical considerations could become irrelevant if Pope Francis decided to expand the number of cardinal electors. There is a precedent: With the consistory of Nov. 28, 2020, he exceeded the threshold of 120, reaching 128 cardinal electors.

When choosing new cardinals, the pope has tended to opt for candidates whom he trusts. But he has also sent signals about the direction of his governance. It is notable that since the beginning of his pontificate, the general secretary of the Synod of Bishops has been a cardinal (first Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri and now Cardinal Mario Grech.) This is a sign of how important the pope considers the Synod of Bishops to be.

When Czerny received the red hat, he was under-secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and responsible for Vatican policy on migrants and refugees. The gesture was a clear indication of the pope’s strong interest in the themes promoted by the dicastery.

And when it comes to Pope Francis’ choices, no signal should be underestimated.