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  • Synod of the Amazon and married priests



    The news that Pope Francis has set in motion the planning for a synod of bishops of the Amazon region next year may not strike most U.S. Catholics as a matter of great interest. But hold on--there's a lot more at stake here than may appear at first glance. For if the bishops of the vast (2.1 million square miles), priest-short Amazon region ask for married priests and the Pope approves--and both of those things seem likely to happen--the synod will have taken a large step toward married priests in many areas besides the Amazon..

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  • Do Not Be Afraid of Holiness



    Last week, Pope Francis published an apostolic exhortation on the call to holiness in today's world. Entitled Gaudete et Exsultate, "Rejoice and Be Glad," taken from Jesus' words from the Sermon on the Mount, the papal appeal passionately urges us "not to settle for a bland and mediocre existence," but to commit ourselves, body and soul, to responding to God's "call to holiness in today's world."

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  • Pope Francis and hell



    Q. Did Pope Francis just say that there is no hell? (Chesapeake, Virginia) A. No. Pope Francis did not say that there is no hell. That misinformation comes from a March 2018 article in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica. The article -- written by that newspaper's co-founder and former editor, Eugenio Scalfari -- claimed that the pope had told Scalfari in a recent conversation that "the souls of those who are unrepentant, and thus cannot be forgiven, disappear" and that "hell does not exist; the disappearance of sinful souls exists."

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  • Moral Outrage



    Moral outrage is the antithesis of morality. Yet it's everywhere present in our world today and is everywhere rationalized on the basis of God and truth. We live in a world awash in moral outrage. Everywhere individuals and groups are indignant and morally outraged, sometimes violently so, by opposing individuals, groups, ideologies, moral positions, ecclesiologies, interpretations of religion, interpretations of scripture, and the like. We see this everywhere, television networks outraged at the news coverage of other networks, church groups bitterly demonizing each other, pro-life and pro-choice groups angrily shouting at each other, and politics at its highest levels paralyzed as different sides feel so morally indignant that they are unwilling to contemplate any accommodation whatever with what opposes them.

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  • 'The Dream of Gerontius', a courageous, Catholic musical work



    In the year 1900 Edward Elgar composed one of the greatest, and also one of the most courageous pieces of music ever envisioned by an English composer. The title is "The Dream of Gerontius", an evening-length dramatic work. It is scored for three soloists, orchestra, large chorus and organ. It is often called an oratorio, but that doesn't really describe the intensely dramatic, psychologically and spiritually probing nature of the work. Its subject is the journey of an aged man from his dying day, through death, and on into the other side.

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  • He rose again from the dead



    I want to change how you think about the Resurrection by asking you to imagine it in a new way. You need to use your imagination, not in the sense of thinking of some fable which never existed, but in the sense of grasping more accurately what did -- and does -- exist.

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  • The quest for a pastor in Augusta, Maine



    On April 18, 1838, James D. Fisher wrote to Martin Carroll from Kennebec Arsenal in Augusta, Maine, describing the effect of the local Catholic Church upon the Irish laborers there. Fisher reveals in his letter that the coming year in Augusta would call for about 250 laborers to work on the Kennebec Dam, at least 100 to work on the United States Arsenal, and at least an additional 50 to work on a nearby hospital. Based on the current population, he estimates that of the 400 or so laborers, 90 percent would be Irish Catholics.

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  • The Most Unexpectedly Religious Film of the Year



    I went to see A Quiet Place, John Krasinski's new thriller, with absolutely no anticipation of finding theological or spiritual themes. I just wanted a fun evening at the movies. How wonderful when a film surprises you! I don't know if I can find the golden thread that draws all of these themes together into a coherent message, but I think one would have to be blind not to see a number of religious motifs in this absorbing film.

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  • Planned Parenthood's abortion fixation



    Cecile Richards, who plans to retire this year as president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, has authored a self-congratulatory memoir called "Make Trouble." During her decade-long leadership, trouble is certainly something the organization has created. While it serves fewer clients than in 2005, its share of the nation's abortions has increased from under one-fifth to over one-third. While claiming to serve women's overall "reproductive health," in 96 percent of cases what it provides to pregnant women is abortion.

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  • Disciples in Mission update -- Part I



    Last week I was invited to speak at the annual Co-Workers in the Vineyard Conference about the progress of Disciples in Mission. Most of the people attending the conference work in parishes as pastoral associates, faith formation leaders, youth ministers or in some leadership capacity in the parish.

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  • 'Do not be afraid!'



    Do you live with a phobia? While some fear heights, spiders or public speaking, a Chapman University poll of Americans suggests some very different concerns: corrupt government officials, healthcare, pollution and finances. Regardless of what makes us uneasy, in this Friday the 13th edition of the Pilot, I would like to offer a remedy to the fears and anxieties in our lives: the new St. John Paul II Shrine of Divine Mercy.

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  • Soft eyes and soft hearts



    After the resurrection, Jesus sought out his shattered disciples hiding in locked rooms in terror. He walked along the road to Emmaus to be with his followers who were turning away in grief. He waited on the shore so that his closest friend would not be swallowed by his shame of betrayal.

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  • Full text of Pope Francis' letter to Chilean bishops



    In a letter addressed to Chile's bishops, Pope Francis admitted to making “serious mistakes” in handling the nation's massive sex abuse crisis and asked for forgiveness. The pope summoned Chile’s bishops to Rome to address the issue, and invited victims to meet with him as well. Please find below CNA's translation of the full text of Pope Francis' April 8 letter.-- Editor

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  • First date



    I remember my first date because it ended with my first kiss. At the end of the movie and pizza, as we pulled into the driveway of my house, in the back seat of his mother's car, Ari C. leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. Utterly shocked, I said goodbye as quickly as I could, and got out of the car. I think he may have tried to walk me to the door, but I moved too fast. The whole thing really upset me. Why? Because I didn't like Ari enough to want him blazoned into my life's history. At least, that's how I saw it in the 8th grade.

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  • A pro-life opportunity



    ''Pro-life includes sensible gun control." It was one among a forest of signs at the recent "March for Our Lives" in Washington, D.C., that attracted hundreds of thousands of demonstrators, but it caught my attention.

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  • Building a community of support for Parkinson's



    People with Parkinson's seek out support for good reason: they confront chronic physical and non-physical symptoms that become increasingly difficult as the disease progresses. Parkinson's disease affects a part of the brain called the substantia nigra, whose neurons produce an important neurotransmitter called dopamine. Without adequate levels of dopamine in the brain, people with Parkinson's experience a loss of control over their physical movements, and may develop a variety of non-physical symptoms. Support networks provide a setting where people can manage symptoms and learn more about their Parkinson's diagnosis.

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  • Remote preparations -- What can you do?



    On June 1 of this year, 19 new collaboratives will be formed. There will be seven in the South Region, five in the North Region, three in the Merrimack Region, three in the Central Region and one in the West Region. Before starting to work as a collaborative, pastors and staffs have begun to do some preparations with the intent of helping parishioners make a smooth transition into Disciples in Mission.

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  • The Day the Lord Made



    Three times in today's Psalm we cry out a victory shout: "His mercy endures forever." Truly we've known the everlasting love of God, who has come to us as our Savior. By the blood and water that flowed from Jesus' pierced side (see John 19:34), we've been made God's children, as we hear in today's Epistle.

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  • When Time Stands Still



    The theory of relativity tells us that space and time are not what they appear to be. They're relative, meaning that don't always function in the same way and they aren't always experienced in the same way. Time can stand still.

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  • Not feeling God's forgiveness



    Q. I confessed a grave sin more than 40 years ago and received absolution for it. I have, however, been haunted by this over the years and still feel guilt. My sin was that I had taken my 16-year-old daughter to our family doctor to have an abortion. So I not only committed a serious sin myself but caused her to do the same.

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  • Celebrating God's Greatest Joy



    As the Church celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday on April 8, I am delighted that I will be in Rome. The last time I was in Rome for the Second Sunday of Easter was when I was a newly ordained priest. It was on that day I had what I describe as my "conversion" to Divine Mercy.

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  • Air turbulence and the Resurrection



    If there's anything Catholics in the United States should have learned over the past two decades, it's that order -- in the world, the Republic, and the Church -- is a fragile thing. And by "order," I don't mean the same old same old. Rather, I mean the dynamic development of world politics, our national life, and the Church within stable reference points that guide us into the future.

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  • What will be gained from a deal with Beijing?



    Beijing, China, Mar 29, 2018 CNA.- Ever since President Nixon famously “opened” China to the West, the country’s rise as an economic and political superpower has been a thorny nettle to grasp. The conventional wisdom has been that, while there are grave and pervasive issues in China relating to political freedom and human rights, these will be gradually eroded by a developing economy and growing middle class - a process best hastened by open trade and engagement with Western nations.

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  • March for Our Lives



    Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley delivered the following remarks at the start of the Mass for Peace, Justice and Healing at St. Anthony Shrine, Boston, March 24: It is good to greet you as you gather at this Mass for Peace, Justice and Healing. We are grateful to Father Tom Conway and the Franciscan Friars here at St. Anthony Shrine for providing this time for prayer and the celebration of the Eucharist prior to the "March for Our Lives" that takes place today on the Boston Common. This local rally, and those in many other cities throughout the country, is connected to a much larger event taking place in Washington DC. At all of these gatherings, people are coming together to address a problem which threatens the common good of our nation; the problem of gun violence.

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  • Love is the only answer



    Our 40-day journey of Lent is ending. We have arrived at Holy Week and will soon recall the events of the Passion story that lead to the Cross. We know this story well. Yet, hearing it again in the solemn stillness of the Triduum, it becomes new as the boundary between the past and the present quietly fades away and the story of "that" time becomes the story of "our" time. The fear and darkness of those days bleeds into the fear and darkness of our days, and we discover that there is only one story -- the story of God's infinite love for his wayward children.

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  • John Paul II first visited Boston as a cardinal



    Next Sunday, April 8, the St. John Paul II Divine Mercy Shrine will be dedicated in Salem, Massachusetts. St. John Paul II's story is quite interesting as he grew up in a free Poland, then experienced occupation by Nazi Germany, and later the rule of Soviet Russia. He was born on May 18, 1920, in Wadowice, Poland. He was a bright student, and graduated as valedictorian of his secondary school before moving to Krakow with his father to attend university. His formal studies there were cut short by the Nazi invasion of Poland on Sept. 1, 1939.

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  • On loving the Holy Father



    March 13 marked the 5th anniversary of Pope Francis' election as Bishop of Rome, successor of Peter and head of the universal Church. As always with public figures, there is no lack of media commentary on his papacy, and in his case it's been mostly positive but with a recently growing undertow of negativity. What are we to make of this?

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  • Lent and Holy Week in the collaboratives



    ''I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do." (John 13:15) On Ash Wednesday, some six weeks ago, we heard the call to conversion of heart, a call to prayer, fasting and alms giving. Each one of us, I suspect, gave particular thought to what we could do to make this Lent a time of renewal and deepening of our relationship with Christ. In addition to whatever individual sacrifices or actions we may have decided upon, parishes throughout the archdiocese as well as in the collaboratives have offered a variety of spiritual exercises/activities.

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  • We are witnesses



    In the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and all the popes since, we hear over and over again that evangelization is the primary task of the Church. In fact, in 1990, St. John Paul II declared, "I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the Church's energies to a new evangelization."

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  • Emmaus and the Scriptures



    On the first Easter Sunday, two of Jesus' disciples, disillusioned by the events of the past three days, set out from Jerusalem for Emmaus, several miles away. En route they meet a stranger who appears totally unaware of what has transpired in Jerusalem.

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  • Memory, identity, and patriotism



    The second volume of my biography of St. John Paul II, The End and the Beginning, benefited immensely from the resources of Poland's Institute of National Remembrance [IPN, from its Polish initials], which was established after the Revolution of 1989 to preserve records related to the Polish experience under the Nazis and the communists. Documents obtained from IPN by Polish historians helped me paint a detailed picture of the forty-year war the communists conducted against Karol Wojtyla, from the days when he was a young priest, through his Cracovian episcopate, and on to his first decade as Pope John Paul II.

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  • Why Sister Jean and Father Rob matter



    Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt and Father Rob Hagan have been getting a lot of attention these days in the national media. They are the chaplains for the two Catholic teams, Loyola University Chicago and Villanova University, playing in the Final Four of the NCAA men's basketball tournament this weekend.

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  • A daydreaming believer



    I often follow along in my missalette the words of the entire Mass, not because I am pious but because I am a chronic daydreamer. Looking at the words on the page and thinking about them can keep me focused ... for a while. But then something sends me off again.

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  • Stephen Hawking and the pope



    Q. Stephen Hawking died recently. As I understand it, Professor Hawking claimed to have proven that God does not exist. And yet the pope met with him and recognized his studies; why would the pope do that and celebrate an atheist? (central Virginia)

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  • Secular coercion



    In his much discussed indictment of secularized liberal democracy, Polish philosopher and sometime government minister Ryszard Legutko writes bitingly of the powerful and coercive "demon" he so abhors. Toward the end of The Demon in Democracy (Encounter Books) he describes the problem like this: "The law has become a sword against the unresponsiveness and sometimes resistance of society to the policy of aggressive social restructuring that is euphemistically called modernization."

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  • Putting God on Trial



    In both our piety and our agnosticism, we sometimes put God on trial and whenever we do that, it's we who end up being judged. We see that in the Gospel accounts of the trial of Jesus, particularly in John's Gospel.

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  • Catholic schools build both skills and character



    I am very blessed in my role as Superintendent to meet many wonderful students. I meet students who are learning what it means to be a citizen, who are learning how to make good decisions -- decisions based on the truth of the Gospel and their faith. We need our children to be ethical people of integrity and those lessons are taught every day in our schools.

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  • Dogma from an atheist!



    One of the nation's most prestigious newspapers puts out a weekend edition that prominently features an essay on some very trendy topic. A few weeks ago, this prestigious space was turned over to a Harvard professor, Stephen Pinker. The professor has become this generation's Pied Piper promoting a dangerous dogma of scientism, one without a grounded sense of what is right and what is wrong.

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  • The brewing storm



    Ironic, isn't it, that the first days of spring are full of predictions and hype about yet another snowstorm? Three significant nor'easters within two weeks were rough; we certainly do not need a fourth. But the fact that they've all happened in March makes it worse. I mean, what are we supposed to do, break out into a stirring rendition of "I'm Dreaming of a White Easter"? Winter is long enough, and the last thing anyone wants or needs is more snow.

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  • The wrong-headedness of "wrongful birth" lawsuits



    At its core, the idea of a "wrongful birth" claim is unreasonable and ethically incoherent. Parents who bring these lawsuits against obstetricians and hospitals claim that medical professionals should have detected a particular disease or defect in their unborn baby through prenatal testing and informed them about it. Had they been given this information, their argument continues, they would have chosen to abort their baby, rather than spending years of their lives caring for a less-than-perfect, possibly infirm child. Wrongful birth lawsuits enable the parents to seek legal redress, often in the form of multi-million dollar settlements.

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  • Good deeds go on all year



    Walking into the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End of Boston to attend the annual noon time Mass on St. Patrick's Day with Mayor Marty Walsh and my wife Kathy, we were introduced to a group of young adults by Father Kevin O'Leary. They were originally from the Dominican Republic but were now living in Boston. A couple of them told us they were hoping to be priests, another young lady wanted to be a medical doctor, while others told us they wanted go to college and work in the community and help the poor and needy.

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  • Stories of Palm Sunday



    The Palm Sunday cry of Christians, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord," was heard many centuries ago in Jerusalem's streets. It still is heard today. The words of this cry are so familiar that their meaning risks being overlooked or taken for granted. They hold a great challenge, however.

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  • Holy Week: The week we live at church



    Spiritual writer, Kathleen Norris, in her book, "The Cloister Walk," shares her Holy Week schedule. It includes morning prayers, choir rehearsal, evening liturgy services but what I really noticed, was right smack in the middle of her afternoons, she wrote "NAP!!!" Yes, in capital letters and extra exclamation points.

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  • Jesus' journey to Jerusalem



    In many ways, the Gospel of Mark is quite mysterious. Even a superficial reading often leads to many questions. A deeper reading may give some answers, but reveals many more puzzles. During Holy Week, as we reflect on the passion narratives presented in the Gospels, we may notice that, although Jesus surely went to Jerusalem many times throughout his life to observe the Jewish feasts, Mark recounts only one visit (Mk 11:1-10). Why would that be?

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  • Darkness at Noon



    Crowned with thorns, our Lord is lifted up on the Cross, where he dies as "King of the Jews." Notice how many times he is called "king" in today's Gospel--mostly in scorn and mockery. As we hear the long accounts of his Passion, at every turn we must remind ourselves--he suffered this cruel and unusual violence for us.

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  • A Hispanic cardinal question



    A cursory look at the surnames and biographies of current U.S. cardinals, active and retired, yields the following list (in alphabetical order): Burke, Cupich, DiNardo, Dolan, Farrell, Harvey, Levada, Mahony, Maida, McCarrick, O'Brien, O'Malley, Rigali, Stafford, Tobin and Wuerl.

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