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Anglicans recognize Pope as ‘father of the Church in the West,’ says archbishop of Canterbury

Pope Francis and the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, at the Vatican on Oct. 5, 2021. / Vatican Media

Canterbury, England, Aug 5, 2022 / 09:26 am (CNA).

In ecumenical discussions at the Lambeth Conference in Canterbury, England, Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, has said that most Anglicans recognize the pope as “the father of the Church in the West.”

Welby said that he is “not proud” of the level of progress made in promoting Christian unity in recent years. He attributed this stasis in part to what he termed “habits of separation” that have been fostered over the last 500 years.

Nonetheless, he believes that the majority of the Church of England’s members acknowledge the pope to be “the father of the Church in the West.”

Addressing the conference, Cardinal Kurt Koch, prefect for the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, stressed the urgency of ecumenical dialogue. Koch called the present state of division an “emergency” in the Church.

Speaking to the Tablet, Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham Bernard Longley noted the ability of the conference to cement the unity of the Anglican Communion.

Longley pointed out that the road to wider Christian unity and dialogue between the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church would be “hampered” if the former were to divide.

The 2022 Lambeth Conference runs from July 26 until Aug. 8. Over 600 bishops representing Christian communities from the Anglican Communion have gathered in Canterbury for a program of lectures and discussions on a range of topics, from peace and reconciliation to environment and sustainability.

Welby’s comments on ecumenism follow his call for a vote on banning same-sex marriage earlier in the conference. However, Welby said at a press conference in March that debates about human sexuality should not dominate this year’s Lambeth Conference.

The theme of the event is “God’s Church for God’s World: Walking, Listening, and Witnessing Together.”

Ahead of trip to Kazakhstan, Pope Francis meets with Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Anthony

Pope Francis meets with Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk at the Vatican, August 5, 2022 / Vatican media

CNA Newsroom, Aug 5, 2022 / 08:22 am (CNA).

The new head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations met with Pope Francis today. 

It was the first visit of Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk, who was appointed in June, to the Vatican.

No further details of the meeting were provided by the Holy See. According to a brief statement by the Moscow Patriarchate, the “lengthy conversation” dealt with “current issues concerning relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.”

Metropolitan Antony’s predecessor as “foreign minister” of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, was “released from his position” after the war began.

As the Russian Orthodox Church’s chief ecumenical officer, Metropolitan Hilarion met with Pope Francis at the Vatican in December 2021.

The meeting raised hopes of a second encounter between the pope and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church. But the plans were abandoned following the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In recent months Kazakhstan has been discussed as a potential location for a meeting between Pope Francis and Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, as both are expected to attend an interreligious congress there in September.

The Moscow patriarch has faced intense criticism over his stance on the war and narrowly avoided being placed on a European Union sanctions list after reported opposition from Hungary, one of the EU’s 27 member states.

Orthodox Christian media had suggested that Metropolitan Hilarion was seeking to distance himself from Patriarch Kirill in recent months.

The Russian Orthodox Church is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Church with an estimated 150 million members, accounting for more than half of the world’s Orthodox Christians.

Pope Francis calls on young people to turn to Jesus like Blessed Carlo Acutis did

Pope Francis speaking to participants of an Italian youth camp on August 5, 2022 / Vatican media

CNA Newsroom, Aug 5, 2022 / 07:13 am (CNA).

Pope Francis told young Catholics on Friday that Jesus is not just a moral precept but a person and a great friend. 

He encouraged them to build and cultivate their relationship with Christ as Blessed Carlo Acutis did. 

The first millennial to be beatified by the Catholic Church, Carlo Acutis loved the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. ”To be always united with Jesus, this is my life program,” he wrote at age 7. 

Speaking to participants of an Italian youth camp in an audience on Aug. 5 at the Vatican, the pontiff reminded them of the message from Christus Vivit, a post-synodal exhortation published in 2019: ”Christ is alive and he wants you to be alive!”

Jesus is therefore the person a young Catholic should turn to, the pope explained. 

“We are in the presence of Jesus, who knows us and loves us more than we do ourselves, and who wants each of us to find his or her own unique, personal fulfillment.”

Pope Francis concluded his remarks with a prayer: “May Jesus become your great Friend, your Companion along the way. May the living Jesus become your life! Every day and forever.”

Alpha Camp is a “Church-sponsored weeklong camp for young people in central Italy dedicated to exploring life, faith, and meaning,” Vatican News reported.

How a village of 7 residents mobilized hundreds to restore altarpiece of its small church

Altarpiece of St. Euphemia Church in Terradillos de Sedano (Burgos, Spain) / Cultural Association of Santa Eufemia de Terradillos

Terradillos de Sedano, Aug 5, 2022 / 04:00 am (CNA).

A crowdfunding campaign through the Hispania Nostra Foundation has raised the necessary funds to restore the 16th-century altarpiece threatened with ruin in a small village in northern Spain where only seven residents live throughout the year.

Terradillos de Sedano is a small group of homes in the San Antón river valley in Burgos Province in northern Spain. Its few inhabitants had been longing for years for the restoration of the altarpiece of the church dedicated to St. Euphemia, a fourth-century martyr who was a victim of the persecutions ordered by Emperor Diocletian.

The villagers tried to raise funds through raffles and selling lottery tickets and calendars, but with the few funds they collected, it would have taken “seven or eight years and the altarpiece could be lost,” Nieves Martínez, one of the promoters of the campaign, told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language sister news agency.

Last summer, a neighbor from a nearby town told them about the possibility of raising funds through the Hispania Nostra Foundation created for the defense and promotion of Spain’s cultural and natural patrimony.

The campaign to raise the nearly $30,000 needed to restore the splendor of the main altarpiece in Plateresque Renaissance style, made of polychrome gilded wood, lasted almost two months, from May to July, and was successful, with more than 400 donors contributing.

Martínez explained that the restoration expert in charge of doing the work has already taken the first samples necessary to assess the damage. “It’s expected that in September or October the altarpiece will be dismantled and taken to the workshop,” she said, so that once again at the beginning of next year, it will beautifully adorn the head of the apse of the church.

Risk due to the structure’s deterioration

The altarpiece is set on the raised sanctuary floor. Its upper part depicts a crucifixion scene with the images of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and St. John, all crowned with the image of the eternal Father on a pediment.

In the rest of the altarpiece, which contains the tabernacle, images of the Fathers of the Church, the four Evangelists, St. Roch, St. Sebastian, and two reliefs on the life and martyrdom of St. Euphemia are represented. 

High humidity and temperature changes have seriously affected the structure of the altarpiece. According to the technicians, many of the pieces are “completely dislocated from their original position” both due to the passage of time — more than 500 years — and due to woodworm activity.

In addition, there are many breaks and missing pieces, and there is danger that the polychrome may come off.

All this will be repaired, but the residents are not satisfied. “We are very pumped up,” Martínez said, announcing that they will continue to mobilize for the conservation of the artistic religious heritage of Terradillos de Sedano.

Although the church is not large, it has six other altarpieces from a nearby town that was depopulated that some villagers want to repair as well.

The St. Euphemia parishioners who come every Sunday at the sound of the church bells to celebrate Mass will have to wait before that can be accomplished, but they know that for now, the altarpiece of the main altar has been rescued.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Hostility toward Christian values is growing in European institutions, Polish politician and philosopher says

Flag of the European Union / Alexey Larionov / Unsplash (CC0)

Budapest, Hungary, Aug 5, 2022 / 01:04 am (CNA).

The European Commission’s 2022 Rule of Law report has once again singled out Poland and Hungary, accusing both countries of not addressing “serious concerns,” including breaches in their judiciary and media systems. The report identified stark differences between the EU and the two countries. But one Polish member of the European Parliament has raised serious questions about the legitimacy of the report.

The annually published document, initiated in 2020, is meant to provide a general overview of the state of the rule of law in all 27 member states and includes tips for democratic improvements.  

Considered the EU’s poor performers in terms of respect for the rule of law for years, the conservative and Eurosceptic governments of the two Eastern European countries claim to be under attack from progressive forces in the EU leadership for refusing to accept their political agenda, particularly on issues relating to life, gender, LGBT groups, and immigration.

The rule of law report particularly criticized Poland for its system of disciplinary proceedings against judges that are, according to the commission, based on the content of their judicial decisions. The country’s legal system is considered too favorable to the current right-wing government.

The announcement by Polish President Andrzej Duda to abolish the disciplinary chamber for judges and replace it with a new “Chamber of Professional Responsibility” last February wasn’t considered sufficient by the European executive. The commission has therefore frozen the 35 billion euros from the EU’s Covid Recovery Fund approved in June, saying the Polish government should reverse its judicial policies before having access to those funds.

For the same reasons, the country — which has been praised by the international community these past months for its handling of the Ukrainian refugee crisis — is also facing a daily fine of 1 million euros. 

This penalty was imposed by the European Court of Justice in October 2021, with an accumulated total of at least 237 million euros to date.

The situation is also critical for Hungary, which remains under the so-called “conditionality mechanism” that provides for the suspension of European funds in case of breaches of the rule of law standards by a European government. It has little chance of seeing any post-pandemic financial support approved in the near future.  

At the same time, Hungary is the subject of a legal procedure initiated by the European Commission over a 2021 law banning LGBT content in schools and TV shows for those under 18.

The commission’s report stated concerns about judicial independence in Hungary, particularly concerning the system of appointment and promotion of judges — “remain unaddressed” and that it didn’t implement sufficient safeguards against corruption. The report also denounced continued pressure on civil society organizations and repression of independent media.

In a Facebook post on July 13, Minister of Justice Judit Varga reacted to the report by saying that it came as “no surprise” and that the Hungarian government remained “on the side of calm and professional dialogue in this pressure which [they] already got used to.” She considered that the report was, “like in previous years,” based on “uncertain indexes, biased NGOs and prejudices.” 

This idea that these repeated criticisms of the EU have an ideological basis is regularly raised by the members of Hungarian and Polish governments, that denounce a “double standard” in the way reporting and sanctions are established, depending on whether a government is conservative or progressive. For them, the conditionality mechanisms are used for political purposes. Indeed, Poland and Hungary are among the largest net recipients of European funds, and the loss of these amounts of money could have economic repercussions likely to destabilize these countries politically. 

The Polish politician and professor of philosophy at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Ryszard Legutko. European Parliament (CC BY-SA 2.0)
The Polish politician and professor of philosophy at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Ryszard Legutko. European Parliament (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In an interview with CNA, Polish Member of Parliament Ryszard Legutko, from the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, claimed that while for countries like France or Germany, the rule of law report relied on official documents from state institutions, it was based on “opinions from political opponents and hostile NGOs” when it came to Poland. 

He called into question the very legitimacy of this annual report, stating that the European Commission “is not a super-government or some super-court to judge the member states’ legal systems, especially since those are within the sole competencies of the member states.”

“With the Commission blocking Poland’s post-Covid recovery plan, it has become clear that Ursula von der Leyen [the commission’s president] and her colleagues want to topple the Polish government,” he commented, denouncing a “more and more politically aggressive” institution.

“The worst violator of the rule of law in Europe is the EU itself, as it persistently sidesteps all limitations that the treaties imposed on it, particularly article 5 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), which stipulates the principles of conferral, subsidiarity, and proportionality,” he said. 

The same criticism was leveled last year by Polish religious leaders and Catholic lawyers against the European Parliament following its adoption of a resolution to condemn the ban on eugenic abortion in Poland. In this resolution, the Parliament asked the European Commission to trigger the rule of law mechanism and suspend funds to Poland until the country modifies its constitution to liberalize abortion.

According to MEP Legutko, the conservative essence of the Polish and Hungarian governments and their refusal to join “the EU mainstream” motivates many of the accusations against them. “When Slovenia had a conservative government, it was also attacked,” he pointed out.

The parliamentarian added that the leaders of these institutions mainly targeted the Christian foundations of these conservative governments. 

“Despite the weakening of Christianity in Europe, hostility towards the Christian religion is growing among the European institutions; there is nothing paradoxical about it,” he said. “Christianity is still perceived as a force that resists the moral revolution conducted by the Left, like abortion, same-sex marriage, gender ideology, green revolution, etc.” 

“The European People’s Party [a transnational organization gathering Christian-democratic, conservative, and liberal-conservative member parties, and that represents today the largest political party in the European Parliament and Commission] has long capitulated and accepted the left-wing agenda and ideologies,” Legutko continued. 

“Christian democracy, in fact, has disappeared from European politics. It is therefore quite understandable that countries like Poland, which still has a strong Catholic culture and community, and resists the current moral revolution, are met with aggressive reactions from the EU,” he concluded. “And this aggression will increase until or unless Poland capitulates. I hope it won’t.”

Public Masses suspended at Chicago's Shrine of Christ the King

A community Carols and Candles event at the Shrine of Christ the King Sovereign Priest in Chicago, Ill., Dec. 16, 2017. / Marc Monaghan via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Denver Newsroom, Aug 4, 2022 / 17:19 pm (CNA).

A prominent Chicago church that is home to a Traditional Latin Mass religious institute announced the end of all public Masses, as of last Sunday.

“As of August 1, 2022 the celebration of public Masses is suspended,” said a message on the website of the Shrine of Christ the King. 

The shrine, in the Woodlawn neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, forms the U.S. headquarters of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. The institute is a society of apostolic life that celebrates the traditional form of the Roman rite, also known as the Traditional Latin Mass.

Members of the nonprofit community group Save the Shrine told the Chicago Sun-Times they are concerned the changes will endanger the church, a historic landmark.

One member of the group, Jennifer Blackman, attributed the change to a ban from the Chicago Archdiocese under new guidelines for the celebration of the Latin Mass.

Susan Thomas, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Chicago, rejected the claim. She said the church sent a July 31 letter to the archdiocese saying it would stop the Masses.

“They chose to discontinue the Masses and sent the archdiocese a letter stating that they would stop offering Mass and other sacraments at the shrine,” Thomas told the Chicago Sun-Times. 

“The shrine had the option to continue Latin Mass under the guidelines and decided not to,” Thomas said. “It is a false statement that we have a citywide Latin Mass ban. That’s simply untrue. Latin Mass is offered in the archdiocese.”

Among the guidelines of the Archdiocese of Chicago are a prohibition of the celebration of Traditional Latin Masses on the first Sunday of every month, Christmas, the Triduum, Easter Sunday, and Pentecost.

While Catholic communities that celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass are present only at a small percentage of Catholic churches, their numbers grew after Pope Benedict XVI announced broad permission for clergy to say the traditional Latin Mass in a 2007 motu proprio. 

Pope Francis, however, allowed local bishops to limit significantly celebrations of the traditional Latin Mass in his 2021 motu proprio Traditionis custodes. Various dioceses’ implementations of the new policy have caused serious concern among some Catholic congregations dedicated to the traditional Latin Mass.

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago announced his new directive implementing Traditionis custodes in December 2021. Under the directive, which took effect on Jan. 25, 2022, Cupich curtailed the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass and other sacraments that use liturgical books that predate Vatican II. Priests, deacons, and ordained ministers who wish to use the Old Rite must submit their requests to the cardinal in writing and agree to abide by the new norms.

CNA sought comment from the Christ the King shrine and the archdiocese but did not receive a response by publication.

In October 2015 the shrine suffered a devastating fire that collapsed much of its roof and its choir loft. The church windows and much of the interior furnishings were destroyed, though no one was injured. The tabernacle and an 18th-century statue of the Infant of Prague were rescued from the blaze.

The shrine church was built in 1927 as St. Clara Church and later renamed for St. Gelasius. 

After the fire, the Chicago Archdiocese secured a demolition permit but deeded the church site to the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest after an outpouring of financial support for its reconstruction.

Parishioners and the Coalition to Save the Shrine raised more than $3 million to rebuild the church.

Shortly after the fire, Mike Medina, then-president of the Woodlawn Residents Association, said that “From organizing block clean-up days and hosting meetings with city and civic leaders, to promoting local businesses and teaching hockey to neighborhood youth, the Shrine of Christ the King has been a tireless advocate for Woodlawn and serves our neighborhood with a giving and gracious heart. We stand together with the Shrine!”

The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest was founded in the west coast Central African country of Gabon in 1990. Its members are known as canons and wear blue choir dress to signify the community’s consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Its motherhouse and international seminary are located in Gricigliano, Italy, in the Archdiocese of Florence.

“Recognizing the importance of a deep harmony between faith, liturgy, life, and the power of beauty in attracting the human senses to the things above, an integral part of the Institute's charism is the use of the traditional Latin Liturgy of 1962 for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the other sacraments,” the institute says on its international website.

It describes the “essential elements” of its spirituality as “great care for a solemn liturgy, complete fidelity to the doctrine of the Church and the Holy Father, and awareness of the central role of Grace, especially Charity.”

Another Chicago-based religious community that celebrates the Traditional Latin Mass, the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, has modified its practices under the Chicago archbishop’s new rules.

Kansas abortion vote: Why did the pro-life amendment fail?

A poll worker helps a voter cast their ballot in the Kansas Primary Election at Merriam Christian Church on August 02, 2022 in Merriam, Kansas. / Kyle Rivas/Getty Images.

Washington D.C., Aug 4, 2022 / 16:18 pm (CNA).

The reason a pro-life amendment — known as the “Value Them Both” amendment — recently failed in Kansas boils down to misinformation and messaging, according to a Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America spokeswoman.

“I think ultimately it came down to chaos, confusion, and lies ruling the day,” Mallory Carroll, the vice president of communications for the national pro-life organization, told CNA. “The pro-abortion movement was very successful at claiming that this vote was going to be a vote to stop all abortion in Kansas and put women’s lives at risk.”

The referendum represented the first major statewide vote on abortion following the overturning of Roe v. Wade. With over 95% of ballots counted as of Thursday afternoon, Kansas voters rejected the pro-life amendment by about 59% to 41% during their state’s primary election.

The amendment, if approved, would have reversed the Kansas Supreme Court’s 2019 ruling that the state’s constitution protects a woman’s right to abortion. The ruling threatens existing Kansas laws, including a general ban on abortion 22 weeks or later into pregnancy. 

Currently, state lawmakers are, in most cases, prohibited from passing any type of abortion restriction. The amendment would have enabled state lawmakers to pass legislation to regulate or restrict abortion.

Ahead of the vote, SBA Pro-Life America invested $1.4 million in a Kansas voter education campaign which included digital ads, TV, radio, and mail as well as visits to more than 250,000 Kansas homes.

Carroll called the advertising from pro-abortion activists “incredibly deceptive and ultimately successful.”

“A lot of people worked really hard, we contacted a lot of voters, but the message that the pro-abortion movement was pushing, that this was going to lead to women literally dying, was more effective and salient,” Carroll said. “It really raises the stakes for upcoming elections and underscores how important it is that, both as a pro-life movement and individual pro-life candidates, need to be really clear about what it is that we stand for.”

That includes, she said, “that we are supporting protections for unborn children and women, and that we're not advocating for the criminalization of women or anything that's going to put moms in jeopardy.”

After the amendment’s failure, Carroll refused to be discouraged and looked to the future instead.

“We just won a 50-year-long battle to ensure that Americans could use the democratic process to make their voices heard and as disappointing as this decision was in Kansas, it is the people using the tools left to us by our founders and we must carry on,” she said, referring to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. “This is just the first of many opportunities that voters are going to have to make their voices heard on the life issue.”

She added: “We have to stay engaged and keep up the spirit of perseverance that has gotten us through these last five decades under Roe.” 

The vote has broad implications that extend past Kansas’ borders. It could indicate how other states will vote on abortion after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization — which overturned Roe and left abortion policy up to the states — and suggest where Americans stand on abortion ahead of the midterm elections in November.

Carroll said that the vote’s impact on the midterm elections “really depends on what pro-life candidates take away from this.”

“Our sincere hope is that pro-life candidates will remember the responsibility that they have to go on offense to explain to voters what they believe and to define their political opponents on this issue,” she said. “Otherwise they will be defined by the pro-abortion people.”

Life is a winning issue, she stressed.

“Life is always morally right, it still is politically smart, it just requires action on the part of candidates,” she said. 

Carroll expressed concern about one area: the overall idea that there could be more ballot initiatives. 

This is because, she said, this “hasn't been historically an area that the pro-life movement has focused on” as a way to effect change.

“We haven't spent a ton of time working on ballot initiatives, so if this is an area where the pro-abortion movement thinks now that they can win, we could see more of them,” she said, “and we're going to have to up our game and ability to engage in these types of races.”

This is Pope Francis’ prayer intention for August 2022

Pope Francis delivers the Angelus address in St. Peter's Square, July 31, 2022. / Vatican Media

Denver Newsroom, Aug 4, 2022 / 15:12 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis has asked the Catholic Church to pray for small businesses during the month of August. 

“As a consequence of the pandemic and the wars, the world is facing a grave socio-economic crisis,” the pope said in a video message released Aug. 2. “And among those most affected are small and medium-sized businesses.”

He added that “despite the difficulties, they create jobs, fulfilling their social responsibility.”

Among those hit the hardest, the pope mentions stores, workshops, cleaning businesses, transport businesses, and others “that don’t appear on the world’s richest and most powerful lists.”

The Holy Father applauded the dedication of small businesses to change things from the bottom up through “an immense creative capacity.”

“With courage, with effort, with sacrifice, they invest in life, creating wellbeing, opportunities, and work,” Pope Francis said. 

“Let us pray for small and medium-sized businesses, hard hit by the economic and social crisis, so that they may find ways to continue operating, and serving their communities,” he concluded. 

The video is part of a series created by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network in collaboration with the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life. 

The prayer intention follows prayer requests for the elderly in July and families in June. The July prayer intention coincided with the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly on July 24.

Archdiocese asks faithful to pray to Curé of Ars for priests in Nicaragua

Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes of Managua, Nicaragua, in a priestly ordination ceremony. / Lázaro Gutiérrez B. / Archdiocese of Managua

Denver Newsroom, Aug 4, 2022 / 14:33 pm (CNA).

On the feast day of St. John Mary Vianney, known as the Holy Curé of Ars, celebrated by the Catholic Church on Aug. 4, the Archdiocese of Managua, Nicaragua, called on the faithful to join in a day of prayer for  priests.

St. John Vianney, a Third Order Franciscan and the patron saint of priests and pastors of parishes, told his mother that he would dedicate his ministry to “winning many souls.”

In a Facebook post, the Archdiocese of Managua announced that today a “day of prayer for the sanctification and protection of priests” will be held to ask for the intercession of St. John Vianney for the pastors of their towns.

The archdiocese encouraged Catholics to “join in a spirit of prayer for priests” by spending time in prayer, attending Mass to pray for the priests,  fasting, reading the Bible, and praying the rosary.

The archdiocese said that as part of the preparation for this special day, Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes, the archbishop of Managua, and the archdiocesan clergy spent time together Aug. 2 in “recollection, reflection, and fellowship.”

“St. John Mary Vianney, intercede for all priests,” the post concluded.

The Movement of Prayer for Priests (Mosayre) of the Archdiocese of Managua announced that on Aug. 4 beginning at 3 p.m. local time (CST) there will be a holy hour for the priests before the Blessed Sacrament and that eucharistic adoration will be streamed live on Facebook.

“The holy people of God are invited to regularly kneel down and pray for their priests, particularly on Aug. 4, going to parishes and chapels to offer a holy hour for the sanctification and protection of priests,” Mosayre said in a video. 

“We invite you to join virtually and thus together pray for holiness and protection for priests and religious. Prayer is our strength,” the prayer movement said.

In addition, the faithful were encouraged to visit their parish churches “to congratulate your pastor and his vicars” on the feast day of the patron saint of priests.

Mosayre also invited people to write down the name of a priest so that the movement can pray for him, or “sponsor a priest,” which means praying for a priest in need of prayer.

“Thank you for accepting the call that the Church makes to us today, a call to spiritually accompany our priests through prayer,” the group said.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Britney Spears’ wedding: Who can get married in a Catholic church?

Britney Spears (L) and Sam Asghari arrive at the premiere of Sony Pictures' "Once Upon A Time ... In Hollywood" at the Chinese Theatre on July 22, 2019 in Hollywood, California. The couple wed in June 2022. / Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Aug 4, 2022 / 14:30 pm (CNA).

American pop star Britney Spears is expressing frustration after reportedly being unable to get married at a Catholic church. But there are four main requirements to have a Catholic church wedding, a priest tells CNA.

In a since-deleted Instagram post, Spears reportedly shared a photo Wednesday of another couple’s wedding inside St. Monica Catholic Church in Santa Monica, near Los Angeles.

“This is where I originally wanted to get married during COVID!!!! I wanted to go every Sunday,” she wrote, commenting on the church’s beauty. “[T]hey said it was temporarily shut down due to COVID!!!! Then 2 years later when I wanted to get married there they said I had to be catholic and go through TEST!!! Isn't church supposed to be open to all???”

A church representative later told TMZ that there was no record of Spears requesting to be married there. Her post came after she celebrated her wedding with actor Sam Asghari in June.

In response to Spears’ story, Father Matthew P. Schneider, LC, who teaches theology at Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, North Carolina, outlined four main requirements for a wedding to take place in a Catholic church.

Either the bride or groom must be Catholic and free from any impediments, such as marriage to another person. Both the bride and groom must “intend what the Church does,” including recognizing marriage as something permanent, exclusive, and open to life. 

They must also plan to raise their children Catholic.

Schneider stressed that the Catholic Church welcomes all, even with these requirements. 

“The Catholic Church is open to all, but for many to have a wedding in a Catholic church requires becoming Catholic & agreeing to Catholic teaching,” he tweeted. “Many other religions would be similar: for example, I doubt a synagogue would hold a wedding if neither spouse was Jewish.”

He spoke more specifically with CNA about Spears’ faith.

“It is not clear from public information what Britney Spears' canonical status is,” he said, referring to her status with the Catholic Church. “She was baptized a Baptist; then in 2021 she stated she was Catholic, but now she says she can't get married in a Catholic church because she is not Catholic.”

In 2021, Spears announced in a since-deleted Instagram post that she is Catholic and attends Mass. Spears has repeatedly posted prayers, including the Hail Mary, on social media. Her Instagram bio reminds people to “Pray Every Day.” 

While Spears was raised Baptist, several of her family members are practicing Catholics, including her mother, Lynne Spears, her sister, Jamie Lynn, and her nieces, Maddie Aldridge and Ivey Joan Watson, CNA previously reported.

“Is she a catechumen, formally received into the Catholic Church, or still a Baptist with some interest in Catholicism?” Schneider asked.

He also referenced Spears’ two previous marriages, adding that, “to be married in a Catholic church, she would need to get annulments on those."