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Number of new Catholic seminarians in Poland falls by nearly 20% year on year

Mass in the chapel of a seminary in Poznań, western Poland, Sept. 15, 2018. / Mazur/

Warsaw, Poland, Oct 13, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

Nearly 20% fewer candidates for the Catholic priesthood have enrolled in Poland’s seminaries this year, compared to 2020.

Fr. Piotr Kot, chairman of the Conference of Rectors of Major Seminaries, told the Polish Catholic news agency KAI on Oct. 12 that 356 seminarians began their studies in 2021.

Last year, he said, there were 441 candidates, meaning that “the number is lower by approximately 20%.”

He explained that of the 356 candidates, 242 were training for the diocesan priesthood and 114 for religious orders.

There were 47 fewer seminarians in diocesan seminaries and 38 fewer candidates for religious orders compared with the previous year, he said.

The Polish Catholic weekly Gość Niedzielny noted that priestly vocations had declined sharply in Poland in recent years.

In 2012, it said, 828 candidates enrolled in the first year of seminary. There were 498 in 2019 and 441 in 2020.

In March this year, Poland’s bishops made their final adjustments to a decree, called “The Way of Formation of Priests in Poland” (Ratio institutionis sacerdotalis pro Polonia), setting out new rules for priestly formation.

Fr. Kot told KAI that it was difficult to identify all the factors behind the fall in priestly vocations with certainty.

He said that while God continued to call people, young people had difficulty responding.

“Sometimes they judge themselves unworthy or incapable of such a life,” he said. “Behind this may be difficult stories in the past: lack of appropriate role models in the family home, early addictions, personality problems, and identity disorders.”

“Others are reluctant to follow the call of a vocation because a negative image of the Church and the priesthood is entrenched around them.”

“Today this factor is reinforced by the sexual abuse crisis. If such a young man does not enter into deepened prayer, find a spiritual director, or receive support in some community living the faith enthusiastically and authentically, it is hard for him to respond to the call.”

Another factor, he said, was the “hyper-individualism” of contemporary society that makes it difficult to decide to sacrifice one’s life for others.

The Catholic Church in Poland is undergoing a reckoning on clerical abuse.

It announced in June that it had received 368 allegations of clerical abuse in the past two and a half years.

Since November 2020, the Vatican has disciplined a series of mainly retired Polish bishops after investigations under Pope Francis’ 2019 motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi.

But despite the decline, Poland remains one of the European countries with the highest number of priestly vocations. The website Notes from Poland reported last year that one in four priestly ordinations in Europe takes place in the country.

In Ireland, a former Catholic powerhouse with a population of almost five million people, nine candidates are beginning their studies for the priesthood this year.

In 2020, there were 56 ordinations to the diocesan priesthood in Germany, a country neighboring Poland with a population of 83 million people.

The “Church in Poland” report, issued in March this year, found that 91.9% of Poles -- 32.5 million people -- described themselves as members of the Church.

It concluded that 36.9% of Poland’s Catholics regularly attended Mass.

The report said that the Polish Church had two cardinals, 29 archbishops, 123 bishops, 33,600 priests, and around 19,000 religious sisters.

This is the miracle that paved the way for John Paul I’s beatification

Pope John Paul I in an undated file photo. / Vatican Media/CNA.

Rome Newsroom, Oct 13, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

After the doctors told Roxana Sosa that there was nothing else that they could do for her 11-year-old daughter, who was suffering from brain dysfunction and septic shock amid uncontrollable seizures, the mother went to pray in the Catholic church next to the hospital.

Inside the Buenos Aires’ church, she encountered Fr. José Dabusti, who came to pray at her daughter’s bedside on the night of July 22, 2011.

The priest proposed that they entrust her daughter, Candela Giarda, to the intercession of the Servant of God Pope John Paul I, and together they prayed.

Earlier that day, doctors at the Favaloro Foundation had used the words “imminent death” to describe Candela’s condition, according to the Vatican Congregation of the Causes of Saints website.

Her daughter had suddenly become ill four months earlier with what was eventually diagnosed as Febrile Infection-Related Epilepsy Syndrome.

In March 2011, Roxana brought Candela to a hospital in their hometown of Paraná, northeastern Argentina, “with refractory status epilepticus.”

“I took her to the pediatric hospital in Paraná and she was admitted to therapy. In a few hours, she was in a coma, on a respirator. She had convulsions and they tried different anticonvulsants, but nothing worked,” Roxana told reporters in an interview with the Argentine news site Infobae.

The numerous daily epileptic seizures made it necessary to intubate her daughter, who was transferred in an ambulance for more than 300 miles to the intensive care unit in the Favaloro Foundation research hospital in Buenos Aires in May that year.

“Since we had arrived at Favaloro, Cande got worse instead of better. She had no life expectancy. They even told me to go back to Paraná so that she would die at home,” Roxana said.

But after praying with Fr. Dabusti for the intercession of John Paul I, her daughter began to show signs of improvement overnight.

Roxana later admitted that she knew little at the time about the Italian pope, who had served only 33 days in office before dying unexpectedly in 1978. But she told the Argentine news site that she trusted what the priest was proposing to her without hesitation and asked the intercession of Pope John Paul I exclusively.

The nursing staff in the intensive care unit also joined in their prayers for the intercession of the former pope, according to the Vatican.

“On July 23, 2011, unexpectedly, there was a rapid improvement in septic shock, which continued with the subsequent recovery of hemodynamic and respiratory stability,” the Vatican website said.

Two weeks later, Candela was extubated and by Aug. 25 her status epilepticus was resolved. She was discharged from the hospital on Sept. 5.

Fr. Dabusti reported what had taken place to the Vatican and received instructions to write down with precise details everything that had happened regarding Candela’s health.

Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio was the local archbishop at the time that the miracle took place in Buenos Aires in 2011. He would go on to become Pope Francis in 2013.

After the Vatican investigation into Candela’s healing concluded, Pope Francis recognized the event as a miracle obtained through the intercession of John Paul I on Oct. 13, 2021.

Today, Candela is 21 years old and pursuing a veterinary degree in university. She is not currently taking any medications.

“Miracles exist, and I saw it with Cande,” Roxana said.

Archbishop Broglio: COVID-19 vaccines morally permissible, but troops may conscientiously object

Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese of the Military Services outside the meeting hall during the 2019 USCCB General Assembly, June 12, 2019. / Kate Veik/CNA

Washington D.C., Oct 13, 2021 / 10:20 am (CNA).

Service members should not be forced to receive a COVID-19 vaccine against their conscience, the archbishop of the U.S. military archdiocese said on Tuesday.

In a Oct. 12 statement “on Coronavirus Vaccines and the Sanctity of Conscience,” Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA stated that “no one should be forced to receive a COVID-19 vaccine if it would violate the sanctity of his or her conscience.”

“The denial of religious accommodations, or punitive or adverse personnel actions taken against those who raise earnest, conscience-based objections, would be contrary to federal law and morally reprehensible,” he said.

In August, the Pentagon announced that all service members would have to be vaccinated against COVID-19. In advance of that announcement, Archbishop Broglio said that receiving one of the COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the United States was morally permissible, and that a vaccine mandate “seems prudent” and would be “very similar” to mandates already enforced in the military.

The Pentagon press secretary said in August that a possibility existed for religious vaccine exemptions, but that the process of obtaining exemptions would differ among the various branches of the military.

On Tuesday, Broglio reiterated statements of the U.S. bishops’ conference and the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that use of COVID-19 vaccines with connections to abortion-derived cell lines is morally permissible.

All three COVID-19 vaccines approved for use in the United States have some link to cell lines derived from a baby believed to have been aborted in the 1970s. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were tested using the controversial cell lines, while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was developed, tested, and produced using the cell lines.

The connection of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to abortion “has been for centuries considered remote material cooperation with evil and is never sinful,” Archbishop Broglio noted on Tuesday. He added that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is “more problematic,” and while it is still “morally permissible” to use, Catholics should note their preference for the other two vaccines if possible.

Hundreds of thousands of service members are still not fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to an Oct. 10 Washington Post report. There are more than two million members of the U.S. military. Military branches have instituted various deadlines for the vaccination of all troops.

Regarding troops who are seeking a religious exemption to COVID-19 vaccines through the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Broglio stated that although the vaccines are morally permissible to receive, they can be refused in conscience.

However, he added that those refusing vaccines must act to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through other means, out of “charity for their neighbors and for the common good.”

These acts would include “wearing face coverings, social distancing, undergoing routine testing, quarantining, and remaining open to receiving a treatment should one become available that is not derived from, or tested with abortion-derived cell lines,” he said.

10 things you need to know about how Fatima's 'Miracle of the sun' ended an Atheist regime

Crowds looking at the Miracle of the Sun, occurring during the Our Lady of Fatima apparitions. / Public Domain.

Fatima, Portugal, Oct 13, 2021 / 09:15 am (CNA).

October 13, 1917 marked the last Marian apparition in Fatima, and the day in which thousands of people bore witness of the miracle of the dancing sun; a miracle that not only proved the validity of the Fatima Marian apparitions, but also shattered the prevalent belief at the time that God was no longer relevant.

Dr. Marco Daniel Duarte, a theologian and director of the Fatima Shrine museums told CNA these 10 things we need to know about the impact of the miracle during those days in Portugal.

1) If one were to open philosophy books during that period, they would likely read something akin to the concept conceived by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who boldly asserted in the late 1800s that “God is dead.”

2) Also, in 1917, Portugal, like the majority of the world, was embroiled in war. As World War I raged throughout Europe, Portugal found itself unable to maintain its initial neutrality and joined forces with the Allies. More that 220,000 Portuguese civilians died during the war; thousands due to food shortages, thousands more from the Spanish flu.

3) Few years before, in 1910, a revolution had led to the establishment of the First Portuguese Republic in 1910 and a new liberal constitution was drafted under the influence of Freemasonry, which sought to suppress the faith from public life.

4) Catholic churches and schools were seized by the government, and the wearing of clerics in public, the ringing of church bells, and the celebration of public religious festivals were banned. Between 1911-1916, nearly 2,000 priests, monks and nuns were killed by anti-Christian groups.

5) This was the backdrop against which Mary, in 1917, appeared to three shepherd children – Lucia dos Santos, 10, and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto, 9 and 7 – in a field in Fatima, Portugal, bringing with her requests for the recitation of the rosary, for sacrifices on behalf of sinners, and a secret regarding the fate of the world.

6) To prove that the apparitions were true, Mary promised the children that during the last of her six appearances she would provide a “sign” so people would believe in the apparitions and in her message. What happened on that day – Oct. 13, 1917 – has come to be known as the “Miracle of the Sun,” or “the day the sun danced.”

7) According to various accounts, a crowd of some 70,000 people – believers and skeptics alike – gathered to see the miracle that Mary had promised: The rainy sky cleared up, the clouds dispersed and the ground, which had been wet and muddy from the rain, was dried. A transparent veil came over the sun, making it easy to look at, and multi-colored lights were strewn across the landscape. The sun then began to spin, twirling in the sky, and at one point appeared to veer toward earth before jumping back to its place in the sky.

8) The stunning miracle was a direct, and very convincing contradiction to the atheistic regimes at the time, which is evidenced by the fact that the first newspaper to report on the miracle on a full front page was an anti-Catholic, Masonic newspaper in Lisbon called O Seculo.

9) The Miracle of the Sun, was understood by the people to be “the seal, the guarantee that in fact those three children were telling the truth.”

10) Even today, “Fatima makes people change their perception of God,” since "one of the most important messages of the apparitions is that even if man has separated God from his existence, God is present in human history and doesn’t abandon humanity.”

This article was originally published on CNA on Oct. 12, 2017.

Fatima visionary predicted 'final battle' would be over marriage, family

Our Lady of Fatima. / Joseph Ferrara Our Lady of Fatima in LA Archdiocese via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Mexico City, Mexico, Oct 13, 2021 / 08:33 am (CNA).

Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the three children who witnessed the Marian apparitions at Fatima, died in 2005. But before her death, she predicted that the final battle between Christ and Satan would be over marriage and the family.

So says Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, who reports that the visionary sent him a letter with this prediction when he was Archbishop of Bologna, Italy.

This reported statement by Sister Lucia, expressed during the pontificate of Saint John Paul II, was revisited in 2016 by the Desde la Fe (From the Faith) weekly of the Archdiocese of Mexico, in the midst of the debate generated by President Enrique Pena Nieto, who announced his intention to promote same-sex marriage in this country.

The Mexican weekly recalled the statements that Cardinal Caffarra made to the Italian press in 2008, three years after the death of Sister Lucia.

On Feb. 16, 2008, the Italian cardinal had celebrated a Mass at the tomb of Padre Pio, after which he gave an interview with Tele Radio Padre Pio. He was asked about the prophecy of Sister Lucia dos Santos that speaks about “the final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan.”

Cardinal Caffarra explained that Saint John Paul II had commissioned him to plan and establish the Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. At the beginning of this work, the cardinal wrote a letter to Sister Lucia of Fatima through her bishop, since he could not do it directly.

“Inexplicably, since I did not expect a reply, seeing as I had only asked for her prayers, I received a long letter with her signature, which is now in the archives of the Institute,” the Italian cardinal said.

“In that letter we find written: ‘The final battle between the Lord and the kingdom of Satan will be about Marriage and the Family.’ Don't be afraid, she added, because whoever works for the sanctity of Marriage and the Family will always be fought against and opposed in every way, because this is the decisive issue. Then she concluded: ‘nevertheless, Our Lady has already crushed his head’.”

Cardinal Caffarra added that “speaking again with John Paul II, you could feel that the family was the core, since it has to do with the supporting pillar of creation, the truth of the relationship between man and woman, between the generations. If the foundational pillar is damaged, the entire building collapses and we're seeing this now, because we are right at this point and we know it.”

“And I am moved when I read the best biographies of Padre Pio,” the cardinal concluded, “about how this man was so attentive to the sanctity of marriage and the holiness of the spouses, even with justifiable rigor at times.”

This article was originally published on CNA July 8, 2016.

Pope Francis approves beatification of Colombian sister filled with ‘ardent apostolic zeal’

Mother María Berenice receives the Eucharist during a period of illness. / Hermanitas de la Anunciación.

Vatican City, Oct 13, 2021 / 06:22 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Wednesday approved a miracle obtained through the intercession of Venerable María Berenice Duque Hencker, a Colombian nun described as an entrepreneurial figure with “great mettle.”

Mother María Berenice, as she was known, was the founder of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Annunciation in Medellín, Colombia. She died in 1993 at the age of 94, and her congregation continues to be active in Colombia and Venezuela.

Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, the late archbishop of Caracas, Venezuela, described her as having an “ardent apostolic zeal.”

Urosa told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, in May that the nun, who was born in 1898, “felt the vocation to religious life very young, and responded in 1917 to the Lord’s call, entering the Congregation of the Dominicans of the Presentation.”

“There she grew in her intense love for God, which inspired her with an ardent apostolic zeal to serve and evangelize her neighbor, which she concretized in the various activities that were progressively assigned to her,” the cardinal wrote in a letter.

In 1943, she founded the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Annunciation, and afterward, she began another congregation, the Missionary Sisters, to welcome young Afro-Colombian women called to consecrated life.

“She was a woman of living and firm Christian faith, of intense Marian piety and great mettle, an enthusiastic entrepreneur, with many initiatives to announce the name and love of God to those most in need,” Urosa said.

He added that the mother superior accepted and implemented the decrees of the Second Vatican Council in her congregation, and led her sisters “with prudence, gentleness, and tact.”

The cardinal stressed that “her intense love for God and her union with Christ crucified gave her the necessary strength to undertake many difficult deeds, especially among the poorest.”

In her 70s, she became seriously ill for several years, but “the Lord gave her a special strength to join the passion of Christ in the pain of illness and the weakness that it brings,” Cardinal Urosa said.

The miracle attributed to the nun’s intercession was approved by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in May, and on Oct. 13, Pope Francis gave his authorization for her to be beatified.

Pope Francis also signed off on the decrees of martyrdom of the diocesan priest Fr. Pedro Ortiz de Zárate and the Jesuit priest Fr. Juan Antonio Solinas, who were killed in Argentina in 1683.

Other Servants of God whose sainthood causes have been advanced are the Spanish priest Fr. Diego Hernández González (1915-1976); the Italian priest and Franciscan of the Order of Friars Minor Fr. Giuseppe Spoletini (1870-1951); the Italian foundress of the Fraternity of the Little Sisters of Jesus, Sr. Maddalena di Gesù (1898-1989); and Italian foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of Holy Mary of Leuca, Sr. Elizabetta Martinez (1905-1991).

Pope Francis: The Gospel opens every culture to greater freedom in Christ

Pope Francis’ general audience in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Oct. 13, 2021. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Oct 13, 2021 / 05:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis spoke Wednesday about the universal nature of the Catholic Church, which embraces all cultures because Christ died for all people.

“This is the meaning of calling ourselves Catholics, of speaking of the Catholic Church: it is not a sociological denomination to distinguish us from other Christians. Catholic is an adjective that means ‘universal,’” Pope Francis said in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall on Oct. 13.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“The Church contains within herself, in her very nature, an openness to all peoples and cultures of all times, because Christ was born, died, and rose for everyone,” he said.

The word “Catholic” comes from the Greek word “katholikos” (καθολικός), which means “universal.” The term was first used by St. Ignatius of Antioch, who wrote in the second century that “wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

In his weekly general audience, Pope Francis reflected on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, chapter five, verse 13: “For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love.”

Pope Francis said: “In the call to freedom we discover the true meaning of the inculturation of the Gospel ... being able to announce the Good News of Christ the Savior while respecting the good and the true that exist in cultures.”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“It is not easy. There are many temptations to seek to impose one’s own model of life as though it were the most evolved and the most appealing. How many errors have been made in the history of evangelization by seeking to impose a single cultural model.”

The pope pointed to examples from Church history in which missionaries who immersed themselves deeply in other cultures were criticized by their contemporaries. He mentioned the 16th-century Jesuit Fr. Matteo Ricci, who spent nearly three decades in China, and another Jesuit missionary, Fr. Roberto de Nobili (1577-1656), who learned Sanskrit and Tamil while ministering in India.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“The liberation obtained through baptism enables us to acquire the full dignity of children of God, so that, while we remain firmly anchored in our cultural roots, at the same time we open ourselves to the universalism of faith that enters into every culture, recognizes the kernels of truth present, and develops them, bringing to fullness the good contained in them,” Pope Francis said.

“To accept that we have been set free by Christ -- his passion, his death, his resurrection -- is to accept and bring fullness even to the different traditions of every people. True fullness.”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

In his 11th live-streamed address in his cycle of catechesis on Galatians, the pope underlined that “uniformity as a rule of life is not Christian.”

“Unity yes, uniformity no,” he said.

Pope Francis said that culture by its very nature is always in “continual transformation.”

“Think about how we are called to proclaim the Gospel in this historical moment of great cultural change, where increasingly advanced technology seems to have the upper hand,” he said.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“If we were to speak of faith as we did in previous centuries, we would run the risk of no longer being understood by the new generations. The freedom of Christian faith -- Christian freedom -- does not indicate a static vision of life and culture, but rather a dynamic vision, a dynamic vision too of tradition. Tradition grows but always with the same nature.”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“Let us not claim, therefore, to possess freedom. We have received a gift to cherish. Rather, it is freedom that asks each one of us to be constantly on the move, oriented towards its fullness. It is the condition of pilgrims; it is the state of wayfarers, in continual exodus: liberated from slavery so as to walk towards the fullness of freedom.”

At the end of the audience, Pope Francis greeted American visitors on pilgrimage in Rome.

“I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s audience, especially the groups from the United States of America. In this month of October, through the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary, may we grow in the Christian freedom that we received at baptism. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of the Lord. May God bless you,” the pope said.

John Paul I, ‘the smiling pope,’ to be beatified after miracle approved by Pope Francis

Pope John Paul I in an undated file photo. / Vatican Media/CNA.

Vatican City, Oct 13, 2021 / 04:41 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has recognized a miracle obtained through the intercession of his predecessor Venerable John Paul I, who will now be declared “blessed.”

Often called “the smiling pope,” John Paul I died unexpectedly on Sept. 28, 1978, after just 33 days in office. A priority of his short pontificate was carrying forward the work of the Second Vatican Council.

But even before he was elected pope, Albino Luciani was known for his humility, his emphasis on spiritual poverty, and his dedication to teaching the faith in an understandable manner.

Pope Francis gave his approval on Oct. 13 for the cause of beatification of John Paul I to move forward, along with the causes of six other people on the path to sainthood.

John Paul I was declared Venerable by Pope Francis in 2017.

According to a report this week from the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, John Paul I may be beatified before Easter.

Though beatification ceremonies usually take place in the country most associated with the life of the new blessed, John Paul I is likely to be beatified at the Vatican by Pope Francis because he served as a pope.

The miracle attributed to John Paul I’s intercession is the 2011 healing of a girl in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, Argentina, from a severe form of encephalopathy, a disease affecting the brain.

Last year, Pope Francis instituted a Vatican foundation to promote John Paul I’s thought and teachings.

In an article in L’Osservatore Romano on April 28, 2020, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin wrote that “Pope John Paul I was and remains a reference point in the history of the universal Church, the importance of which -- as St. John Paul II pointed out -- is inversely proportional to the duration of his very short pontificate.”

In 2008, on the 30th anniversary of John Paul I’s death, Benedict XVI reflected on St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, when the apostle wrote: “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves.”

Benedict said that this biblical text called to mind John Paul I, who chose the same episcopal motto as St. Charles Borromeo, “Humilitas.”

John Paul I’s simplicity, according to Benedict, “was a means of solid and fruitful instruction, which, thanks to the gift of an excellent memory and vast culture, was enriched by numerous citations of Church and secular authors.”

Blessed Carlo Acutis’ doctors recall his last days in hospital

The tomb of Blessed Carlo Acutis in Assisi, Italy. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Rome Newsroom, Oct 12, 2021 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

Fifteen-year-old Carlo Acutis died within a week of being diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia, offering his suffering for the pope and for the Church. Following his beatification on Oct. 10, 2020, his doctors and hospital chaplain recalled their memories of his final days.

Fr. Sandro Villa was the hospital chaplain of St. Gerald Hospital outside of Milan who gave Acutis the Anointing of the Sick and Holy Communion on Oct. 10, 2006, the day before Acutis went into a coma due to a brain hemorrhage caused by the M3 subtype of acute myeloid leukemia. 

Villa shared at an event in Assisi Oct. 13, 2020 that he was touched by Acutis’ “composure and devotion” in receiving the sacraments in the hospital room.

“In a small room, at the end of the corridor, I found myself in front of a boy. His pale but serene face surprised me -- unthinkable in a seriously ill person, especially an adolescent,” he said.

“I was also amazed by the composure and devotion with which, albeit with difficulty, he received the two sacraments. He seemed to have been waiting for them and felt the need for them.”

Before his cancer diagnosis, Carlo Acutis had a great devotion to the Eucharist. From a young age, he expressed a special love for God, even though his Catholic parents had stopped attending Mass. 

As he grew older, he started going to daily Mass, often dragging his family members along with him. He made Holy Hours before or after Mass and went to confession weekly. 

With his aptitude for computer programming, Acutis built websites to inform others about Eucharistic miracles and Marian apparitions around the world. On his site, he told people, “the more often we receive the Eucharist, the more we will become like Jesus, so that on this earth we will have a foretaste of heaven.”

For Villa, this administration of the sacraments would be his only encounter with Acutis, but he said that the look of serenity on Carlo’s face was something that stayed with him.

“After a few years … I learned that he was declared ‘Venerable.’ I was amazed that the Lord had allowed me to meet him, if only for a few moments,” he said.

Villa continued: “I decided to learn about his life. I discovered that he was in love with the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and I therefore began to better understand some of his words.”

Dr. Andrea Biondi and Dr. Mòmcilo Jankovic, who treated Acutis in the pediatric clinic of St. Gerald Hospital, recorded their memories together in a paper that was read aloud at the event.

They said: “Carlo was like a meteor with a quick passage through our ward; leukemia took him away before we could get to know him even a little. However, his sweet eyes remain engrained [in our memories]. His gaze was full of attention … of courage, of love, of strong empathy.”

“His faith in God, which he had wanted and still wanted to pass on to others, to his neighbor, shone through him … His gentle eyes … taught us a lot: life, whether short or long must be lived intensely for oneself, but also and above all for others.”

Acutis’ heart stopped beating on Oct. 12 -- a date which is now celebrated as a local feast in the Diocese of Assisi and Archdiocese of Milan. His parents had desired to donate his organs, but they were too compromised by leukemia to be donated.

Today Blessed Carlo’s heart is considered a relic and is contained in a reliquary in Assisi that is inscribed with his words: “The Eucharist is my highway to heaven.”

This article was originally published on CNA on Oct. 16, 2020.

Dean resigns after filming of questionable music video in Toledo Cathedral

The Toledo Cathedral in Toledo, Spain. / Michal Osmenda via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Toledo, Spain, Oct 12, 2021 / 17:45 pm (CNA).

Fr. Juan Miguel Ferrer Grenesche, dean of the Toledo Cathedral, has submitted his resignation following the improper use of the sacred space in a music video which includes sensual dance scenes within the church.

“The Dean expresses his request for forgiveness from the institution, on his own behalf and on behalf of the various elements of the cathedral chapter, insofar as they have had responsibility, for all the errors and faults that may have been committed by word, deed and omission in the recent events,” the Archdiocese of Toledo said Oct. 12.

Fr. Ferrer’s resignation will take effect Oct. 16. His term was to have ended Nov. 5.

The archdiocese said that the priest expressed his “full communion” with Archbishop Francisco Cerro Chaves  “and the Diocesan Church.”

Spanish rapper C. Tangana released a music video for his song "Ateo" (Atheist) Oct. 7, made with Argentine singer Nathy Peluso. In the video, both perform sensual and provocative dances inside the cathedral.

The archdiocese also pointed out that "by internal regulations of the cathedral chapter, in effect for years, the money collected for extraordinary activities of the Cathedral is used for charitable works."

C. Tangana paid 15,000 euros ($17,000) for the use of the cathedral in the music video.

In a statement to the Spanish press reported by Europa Press Oct. 12, Fr. Ferrer said that "communication failures" complicated the case, and hat he doesn’t regret his first statement, in which he justified the recording of the music video.

What he said at that time "is true and I explained the reasons why permission was given,”  but he acknowledged that during the recording of the performance there were no representatives of the cathedral to realize "the things that later caused some people to be scandalized. That was a failure."

Fr. Ferrer also said that requests for permission for this type of recordings are not normally communicated to the archbishop, which "may be another failure that would have avoided some of the difficulty that we have experienced."

"I acknowledge all criticism and that I have been wrong, but when they correct me, I like it to be done with charity and respect," he said.

However, the priest said that for him this case is "water under the bridge, and what I want is for everyone to be serene and live in peace and that there not be any tension."

“I am convinced that the music of one kind of guy or another, from our faith, what we are looking for is to do good to people and I hope that after all this pain and this controversy we will all strive to do some good to one another,” he said.

Fr. Ferrer had said Oct. 8 that  “the video presents the story of a conversion through human love. The lyrics of the song are precise: ‘I was an atheist, but now I believe, because a miracle like you had to come down from heaven.’”

In addition, the dean criticized "certain attitudes of intolerance," to which, he said, "is opposed by the understanding and acceptance of the Church, as manifested in the final sequences of the video."

The Toledo archdiocese said Oct. 8 that the archbishop “was absolutely unaware of the existence of this project, its content and the final result,” and that he “deeply regrets these events and disapproves of the images recorded” in the cathedral.

The Archbishop of Toledo asked "humbly and sincerely for forgiveness from all the lay faithful, consecrated people and priests, who have felt justly hurt by this misuse of a sacred place."

"From this moment, the archdiocese will work to review the procedure followed to prevent something similar from happening again," the statement added.

"To do this, a protocol for the recording of images for public broadcasting in any church in the archdiocese will be immediately drawn up.”

About 30 people gathered outside the cathedral Oct. 10 to pray a reparative rosary.

The Archbishop of Toledo announced Oct. 9 there will be an act of reparation carried out during an Oct. 17 Mass.

“As a result of recent events, I want to add to this celebration an invitation to conversion, reparation for sins and purification that this time of grace and interior renewal requires, and that we will carry out in a special penitential act of the Mass,”  the archbishop said.