Pope Francis reflected on the priesthood Saturday, stressing that a true priest, who has been anointed by God for His people, will surely have a close, living relationship with Jesus Christ, without which the priest will have nothing to offer.
The pope encouraged priests to ask themselves some basic questions. "What is the place of Jesus Christ in my priestly life? Is it a living relationship, from the disciple to the Master, from brother to brother, from the poor man to God, or is it a somewhat artificial relationship... that does not come from the heart?" the Vatican Radio quoted Francis as saying in his homily at Casa Santa Marta on Saturday.
"We are anointed by the Spirit, and when a priest is far from Jesus Christ he can lose this unction. In his life, no: essentially he has it... but he loses it. And instead of being anointed he ends up being smarmy," the pope added. more >>
Asia Noreen Bibi, the first Pakistani woman sentenced to death for blasphemy in November 2010, thanked Pope Francis and all the churches praying for her and credited them with her survival after four-and-a-half years in prison.
"I am very grateful to all the churches that are praying for me and fighting for my freedom. If I am still alive, it is thanks to the strength that your prayers give me," Bibi wrote in a Christmas letter to Pope Francis. While Bibi was sentenced to death in 2010, the verdict must be upheld by a superior court, and many petitions have protested her imprisonment.
Bibi lamented the fact that, while many people have spoken and fought for her, it is "to no avail." Even though she is still in prison, she said, "I just want to trust the mercy of God, who can do everything, that all is possible." Bibi wrote that in her dire situation, "Only God will be able to free me." more >>
"Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words" is a quote widely attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. It also seems to be the motto of Pope Francis. Instead of just talking about abstract doctrines, he consistently lives out his beliefs in public ways that have grabbed the world's attention. His example of humility, compassion, and authenticity resonate powerfully in Washington, where cynicism is rampant, pride remains even after the proverbial falls, and an ideology of extreme individualism has overtaken a significant faction within our politics.
The Pope's words and deeds fascinate us because they are genuine and selfless. How could a leader of global significance spend time cold calling pregnant women in distress, kissing the feet of young Muslim inmates, or embracing a disfigured man? What sorts of values motivate such behavior? These stories touched our hearts, but they appeared irrelevant to our politics.
Then the Pope started talking about our wallets, which, according to a several commentators on the far right, instantly transformed him into a threat to capitalism itself. more >>
A Roman Catholic congregation in a small Oregon town has erected a pro-life display featuring over 500 white crosses. Parishioners from St. Francis Catholic Church of Sherwood and a local chapter of the Knights of Columbus built the display last weekend.
Fr. Ysrael C. Bien, parish priest for St. Francis Catholic, told The Christian Post that the display was meant "to promote life issues outside the confines of our parish community." Bien presided over "a simple blessing" Sunday in honor of the display, which was meant to be in remembrance of the "millions of babies" aborted since 1973.
"When a knight saw similar memorial white crosses erected in California, he got the idea and brought it to the council and myself for approval," said Bien. "The parish Respect Life committee also got involved and before you know it, parishioners, including our youth ministry members, began painting the crosses." more >>
An ordained minister who was once a Satanist, but now seeks to evangelize to those involved in the occult, has applauded the Roman Catholic Church's training of new exorcists.
Jeff Harshbarger, author and head of Refuge Ministries, told The Christian Post that he approved of the increased emphasis on dealing with those "demonically possessed."
"I do believe there is a tremendous need for trained exorcists; be it by the Catholic church or the Protestant church," said Harshbarger. "The Catholic church has had an awareness of dealing with the demonically possessed. That has waned recently, but they have been made aware and are responding." more >>
Extracts of a Pope Francis speech have recently been published in Italian websites, where the Vatican leader warns educators that they need to be careful when engaging with children of gay couples and those living in complex family situations, and make sure they are not administering "a vaccine against faith to them."
A Vatican spokesman has moved to clarify, however, that the pope's remarks are not political and do not serve as a recognition of gay civil unions.
"On an educational level, gay unions raise challenges for us today which for us are sometimes difficult to understand," Francis said in a speech to the Catholic Union of Superiors General in November, according to reports in Italian media websites on Saturday. more >>