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Vatican communications department will soon unveil new website

Vatican City, Dec 13, 2017 / 11:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis and his Council of Cardinals met this week to continue discussions on reform of the Roman Curia and unveiled a new communications system for the Secretariat for Communications.

Taking place at the Vatican Dec. 11-13, all members were present for the meetings, apart from Cardinal George Pell. Pope Francis was present except for Wednesday morning during the general audience, as is ordinary.

Fr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, prefect of the Secretariat for Communications, presented the new communications system, including a new website and logos, during the 22nd round of meetings.

According to a Dec. 13 statement, the “the Vatican media system adopts a new production model based on integration and unified management, in full harmony with the reform desired by Pope Francis.”

The center of the communications system will be new multimedia publishing center, which will present a unified structure for the daily production of content, including audio, text, video, and graphics, in multiple languages.

This system is the result of consolidation on both an economic and technical level, and will be available soon (in a beta version) at vaticannews.va, the press release stated. This replaces the previously used informational websites and aims to streamline the image and channels of communication.

Starting Jan. 1, 2018, the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s photo service, and the Vatican Typography will merge with the secretariat.

It will start with a team of 70 people divided into six language divisions – English, Italian, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese – in four thematic areas: Pope, Vatican, Church, and world. It will all be overseen by an editorial directorate in coordination with other support groups.

The new system draws its inspiration from the words of Pope Francis to the Secretariat for Communication during their first plenary earlier this year: that “reform is not ‘whitewashing’ things: reform is to give another form to things, organize them in another way.”

Viganò also reported on the final stretch of the reform of Holy See communications, including the achievement of goals to reduce costs and consolidate personnel.

The meetings also included an update from Cardinal Kevin Farrell on the work of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, which is preparing for the 2018 synod on youth.

The cardinals also listened to presentations by Fr. Michael Czerny and Fr. Fabio Baggio, the under-secretaries of the Migrant and Refugee section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

The section is developing a global strategy to implement in cooperation with the Secretariat of State, bishops’ conferences, NGOs, and religious congregations.

As usual, Cardinal Sean O’Malley also provided an update on the work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Members of the commission are appointed for a term of three years, which may be reconfirmed. The terms of the present 15 members of the commission end Dec. 17. Pope Francis will decide whether to reconfirm current members and whom to appoint as new members.

Peter Saunders, founder and former Chief Executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood and a member of the commission since Dec. 2014, told the Tablet Dec. 13 he plans to step down from the commission at the end of the week. He has been on a leave of absence from the advisory body since early 2016.

Established by Pope Francis shortly after his pontificate began in 2013, the Council of Cardinals – also known as the “C9” – serves as an advisory body on Church governance and reform, with special emphasis on the reform of Pastor bonus, the apostolic constitution which governs the Roman Curia.

The council’s next round of meetings will take place Feb. 27-29.

Founding member of CFRs and EWTN host Fr. Andrew Apostoli dies at age 75

New York City, N.Y., Dec 13, 2017 / 09:45 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Franciscan friar and EWTN host Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR, passed away on the morning of Dec. 13, his community has confirmed.

Fr. Apostoli was a founding member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and was a regular on EWTN programming, most recently as the host of “Sunday Night Prime.”

He also authored numerous books and was considered one of the leading experts on the Our Lady of Fatima apparitions.

“All of us at EWTN are saddened by the loss of our dear friend Father Andrew Apostoli, CFR. Father Andrew was a constant presence on the Network for nearly twenty-five years, particularly as the host of ‘Sunday Night Prime’ for the past five years,” said Michael P. Warsaw, Chairman of the Board and CEO of the EWTN Global Catholic Network.

Fr. Apostoli was born Joseph Dominic Apostoli on July 3, 1942 in Woodbury, New Jersey, and was the second of four boys. He first encountered Capuchin Franciscan friars at his parish in 8th grade and was inspired by their joy.

“I felt that the brothers were joyful and I wanted the joy that I saw,” he told the Catholic Herald in 2015.

He met Archbishop Fulton Sheen while attending high school seminary, and would later be ordained a priest by Archbishop Sheen on March 16, 1967. He would eventually become the Vice Postulator for Sheen’s cause for canonization.

Fr. Apostoli was a founding member of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in 1988, and was also influential in the founding of the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal.

During his time in active ministry, Fr. Apostoli served as a teacher, retreat leader and spiritual director. He also wrote many spiritual books on subjects including Our Lady of Fatima and the Holy Spirit. His most recent book, “Answering the Questions of Jesus,” is a book designed to lead readers into deeper reflection on each of the personal questions Jesus asks in the Gospel.

Fr. Apostoli first appeared on EWTN on the “Mother Angelica Live” program in July of 1993, together with Fr. Benedict Groeschel, and taped his own series for the network in 1994, which first aired in 1995.

In 2012, Fr. Apostoli took over as host for EWTN’s “Sunday Night Prime” which had previously been hosted by Fr. Benedict Groschel, a fellow Franciscan Friar of the Renewal.

On November 10, Fr. Apostoli announced on the CFR’s website that due to declining health, he could no longer maintain a public schedule. Over the past month, the brothers have been posting brief health updates about the priest and asking for prayers.

In the morning of Dec. 13, the brothers confirmed that he had passed away.

“We always looked forward to his many visits to Irondale to produce programs,” Warsaw said.

“He was such a kind and holy man who always brought joy to the EWTN Family and who was a constant witness to the Franciscan spirit. We will certainly miss him.”

Pope Francis: Think 'being good' is enough? It’s not. Go to Mass

Vatican City, Dec 13, 2017 / 03:20 am (CNA/EWTN News).- According to Pope Francis, a Christian can’t just be a good person and skip Mass on Sundays, because it is the Eucharist that provides the nourishment needed to truly live the Gospel well in our daily lives.

“How can we respond to those who say that there is no need to go to Mass, not even on Sundays, because what is important is to live well, to love our neighbors?” the Pope said Dec. 13.

“It is true that the quality of the Christian life is measured by the capacity to love,” as Jesus says in the Gospels, he said.

“But how can we practice the Gospel without drawing the necessary strength to do it, one Sunday after another, from the inexhaustible spring of the Eucharist?”

Pope Francis spoke during his Wednesday general audience, during which he continued his weekly catechesis on the Mass and Eucharist, focusing on the reasons why we must go to Mass every Sunday, besides the fact that it is a law of the Church, which he said is important, but “not enough alone.”
 
Instead we must go deeper: “We Christians need to participate in Sunday Mass because only with the grace of Jesus, with his living presence in us and among us, can we put into practice his commandment, and thus be his credible witnesses,” he said.

The Eucharist and Mass, he said, are where we find our strength for daily life.

Without it, Christians “are condemned to be dominated by the fatigue of everyday life.” Often consumed by worries and fears, this weekly meeting is where Christ gives us the strength to live each day with courage and with hope.

He explained how participating in the Eucharistic communion with Jesus here on earth helps us to anticipate heaven, where it will be “Sunday without sunset”: no more tears, grief, or pain, but only “the joy of living fully and forever with the Lord.”

At Sunday Mass we rest from the busyness and work of the week, which teaches us to place our trust in the Father, not in earthly things, the Pope said. In this same way, abstaining from unnecessary labor on Sundays helps us to live out our identity as sons and daughters of God, and not slaves.

The Pope also noted an important distinction about Mass, which is that Christians do not go in order to give something to God, “but to receive from Him what we really need.”

This teaching is evoked in a prayer from the Roman Missal, which addresses God, saying: “You do not need our praise, but for a gift of your love you call us to give you thanks; our hymns of blessing do not increase your greatness, but they obtain for us the grace that saves us,” Francis said.

Pope Francis then noted that there are some Christian communities which are not able to celebrate Mass every Sunday, but they are still called to gather together in prayer, to listen to the Word of God, and to nurture their desire for the Eucharist.

Alternatively, there are many secularized societies which have entirely lost the Christian sense of an “illuminated Sunday,” he said.

In this case we must help revive and recover the meaning of the day, he said, which should be celebrated with joy, with community, and with solidarity; as a day of rest “that restores the soul and the body.”

New York archdiocese stresses commitment to aiding victims of clergy abuse

New York City, N.Y., Dec 13, 2017 / 12:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Nearly 200 sex abuse victims of clergy in the New York archdiocese have received compensation through a program the archdiocese says shows the Church’s willingness to reach out to and listen to victims.

“At a time when nearly every institution that involves minors has had to face allegations of abuse, the Church is now a model in how to respond to this horror,” the Archdiocese of New York said Dec. 7.

Since its program launched last year, the archdiocese has compensated 189 victims of archdiocesan clergy abuse in amounts totaling more than $40 million.

“By any measure, the reconciliation program has been a success,” the archdiocese said. “Many of the victim-survivors have expressed their gratitude that the Church extended an invitation, listened, and responded with compassion and understanding. All left knowing that the Archdiocese of New York was willing to make a genuine act of reparation for the harm that was done to them.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York launched The Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program in October 2016.

The program was headed by Kenneth Feinberg, an attorney and mediator who led the September 11 victims’ fund. He has been assisted by his colleague Camille Biros. They determined issuance and amount of compensation to be given to victims.

The compensation figures are accurate as of Nov. 30. More than 200 individuals applied, and additional claims made before the Nov. 1 application deadline are still being processed.

The Church’s effort against sex abuse and its care for survivors are summarized in the report.

“The crime and sin of the sexual abuse of minors has surfaced in every segment of society – schools, families, Hollywood, sports teams, youth groups, government programs for youth, religion – really, any group or organization that brings adult and minors into contact,” the report’s introduction says.

“Fortunately, for the Catholic Church, such horrors are now mostly confined to the past,” it continues. “That does not mean our work is over. Prevention, education, and, yes, reconciliation with those who have been hurt remain an ongoing priority.”

Second Option - Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 31:3-4, 6, 8, 16-17

2 Incline thy ear to me, rescue me speedily! Be thou a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me!
3 Yea, thou art my rock and my fortress; for thy name's sake lead me and guide me,
5 Into thy hand I commit my spirit; thou hast redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.
7 I will rejoice and be glad for thy steadfast love, because thou hast seen my affliction, thou hast taken heed of my adversities,
15 My times are in thy hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors!
16 Let thy face shine on thy servant; save me in thy steadfast love!

Second Option - First Reading: 2 Corinthians 10:17--11:2

17 "Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord."
18 For it is not the man who commends himself that is accepted, but the man whom the Lord commends.
1 I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me!
2 I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband.

First Option - Gospel: Matthew 11:28-30

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

First Option - Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 103:1-4, 8, 10

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor requite us according to our iniquities.

First Option - First Reading: Isaiah 40:25-31

25 To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One.
26 Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing.
27 Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, "My way is hid from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God"?
28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary, his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

Second Option - Gospel: Matthew 25:1-13

1 "Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.
2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.
3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them;
4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.
5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
6 But at midnight there was a cry, `Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.'
7 Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps.
8 And the foolish said to the wise, `Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.'
9 But the wise replied, `Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.'
10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut.
11 Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, `Lord, lord, open to us.'
12 But he replied, `Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.'
13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.