In Bari, Pope decries 'murderous' indifference to a weeping Middle East


Vatican City, Jul 7, 2018 / 01:43 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Joined by heads of Christian Churches in the Middle East, Pope Francis Saturday condemned the “complicit silence” and indifference of the world to the conflicts tearing the region apart, and urged Christians to pray for peace.

“Indifference kills, and we desire to lift up our voices in opposition to this murderous indifference,” the pope said July 7.

As Christians, “we want to give a voice to those who have none, to those who can only wipe away their tears,” he said. “For the Middle East today is weeping, suffering and silent as others trample upon those lands in search of power or riches.”

“On behalf of the little ones, the simple ones, the wounded, and all those at whose side God stands, let us beg, 'Let there be peace!'”

Pope Francis spoke at the opening of a prayer encounter during his July 7 daytrip to Bari for an ecumenical gathering of patriarchs and heads of Christian churches in the Middle East, which holds the theme “Peace be upon you! Christians together for the Middle East.”

Located in the southern Italian region of Puglia, Bari is known as the “porta d’Oriente,” or the “Eastern Gate,” because of its connection to both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches through the relics of St. Nicholas, who is highly venerated in both traditions.

The ecumenical gathering in Bari drew the participation of some 19 leaders of Eastern Catholic Churches and Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, as well as ecclesial communities.

Upon his arrival, the pope was greeted by local authorities before heading to the Basilica of St. Nicholas, where he personally greeted the 19 patriarchs who came to the event and venerated the relics of the saint alongside them in the basilica's crypt.

After the prayer gathering, the pope and ecumenical leaders will return to the Basilica of St. Nicholas for a closed-door meeting opened by Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. The group will then have lunch before Francis heads back to Rome.

In his address during the prayer gathering, Pope Francis said veneration of St. Nicholas “crosses seas and bridges boundaries between Churches,” and prayed that the saint would intercede “to heal the wounds that so many people bear within them.”

The Middle East, he said, is the place where Jesus lived and died, and is therefore the place where “the light of faith spread throughout the world.”

However, despite the rich monastic and cultural traditions in the region, the Middle East has been overshadowed by “dark clouds of war, violence and destruction, instances of occupation and varieties of fundamentalism, forced migration and neglect,” Francis said, noting that all this has taken place “amid the complicit silence of many.”

The Middle East, he said, “has become a land of people who leave their own lands behind. There is also the danger that the presence of our brothers and sisters in the faith will disappear, disfiguring the very face of the region. For a Middle East without Christians would not be the Middle East.”

Francis recalled how at the beginning of the day, while the heads of churches were praying in front of the relics of St. Nicholas, he lit an oil lamp with a single flame as a symbol of unity.

As Christians, “we want to kindle a “flame of hope” in the Middle East, he said, and prayed that light from this and additional lamps lit during the prayer gathering would be a sign of the light that continues to shine in darkness.

“Christians are the light of the world not only when everything is bright around them, but also when, in dark moments of history, they refuse to be resigned to the encircling gloom but instead feed the wick of hope with the oil of prayer and love,” he said.

Pope Francis closed his address urging those present to join in prayer for peace in the Middle East, and for all those who suffer.

He offered a special prayer for Jerusalem, which has been the center of religious and political tensions for years, and which became a fresh source of conflict following U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a decision that goes against the position taken by the United Nations.

The Lord “continues to weep” for Jerusalem, the pope said, and prayed for peace in the city, which is “beloved of God and wounded by men.”

Francis closed his address praying for all those who suffer, asking that “the God of all consolation, who heals the brokenhearted and binds up every wound, hear our prayer.”


Francis appoints four presidents delegate for youth synod


Vatican City, Jul 16, 2018 / 10:50 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis appointed Saturday four cardinals as presidents delegate to the synod on youth, which will meet at the Vatican in October.

His July 14 appointments were Cardinal Louis Raphael I Sako, Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon; Cardinal Désiré Tsarahazana of Toamasina; Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon; and Cardinal John Ribat of Port Moresby.

Each were appointed cardinal by Pope Francis.

The presidents delegate will take turns presiding over the synod on the pope's behalf. They are to guide the synod's work, delgate special tasks, and sign the synod's documents.

The Oct. 3-28 Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and the Discernment of Vocation will address questions of sexuality and gender, the role of women, and the desire for a Church which knows how to listen.

The synod's instrumentum laboris was issued last month, and key issues highlighted in it include increasing cultural instability and conflict, and that many young people, both inside and outside of the Church, are divided when it comes to topics related to sexuality, the role of women, and the need to be more welcoming to members of the LGBT community.


New Mexico bishop made coadjutor of San Jose


Vatican City, Jul 11, 2018 / 05:57 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican announced Wednesday Pope Francis' appointment of Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, New Mexico to be coadjutor bishop of San Jose, California.

As coadjutor, Cantú will assist Bishop Patrick J. McGrath, 73, in the administration of the Diocese of San Jose, and succeed McGrath upon his retirement or death.

Cantú, 51, has served as bishop of Las Cruces, New Mexico since February 2013. He is fluent in English, Spanish, Italian, and French.

In 2016, the bishop was one of two delegates chosen to represent the U.S. bishops’ conference during Pope Francis’ visit to Mexico. After the pope’s visit, the bishop told CNA it showed Mexico “that the Holy Father cares about you, and that God is with us even in difficult moments, even in the darkness of life.”

Cantú has served as chairman of the United States bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace and is a member of the subcommittees on the Church in Latin America and Hispanic Affairs.

Born in Houston Dec. 5, 1966, he is the fifth of eight children. His parents, Ramiro and Maria de Jesus Cantú, are from small towns near Monterey, Mexico.

“There’s no dichotomy in being a Mexican-American. We love both countries because we have part of ourselves in both countries,” Bishop Cantú told CNA in a February 2016 interview

Houston Catholic schools were vital to the bishop’s formation and the formation of six of his siblings. Although Bishop Cantú’s father only received schooling up to 6th grade, he taught the value of education to his children, four of whom graduated college and three of whom have earned master’s degrees.

As a seminarian, Cantú worked on a committee with then-Bishop James Tamayo of Laredo to promote Hispanic ministry.

Ordained to the priesthood May 21, 1994, Cantú was made a bishop in 2008, at the age of 41, when Pope Benedict XVI appointed him auxiliary bishop of San Antonio.

During his 14 years as a priest of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston, he was involved in the Christian Family movement leading youth retreats; Engaged Encounter ministry; and the Metropolitan Organization (TMO), which addresses social issues in the community.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Dallas, and a master’s in divinity and a master’s in theological studies from the University of St. Thomas in Houston. He also earned his Doctorate of Sacred Theology in dogmatic theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

Before being ordained a bishop, he was pastor of his childhood parish, Holy Name, in Houston. He also served as parochial vicar of St. Christopher Parish and taught at the University of St. Thomas and St. Mary’s Seminary.

The Diocese of San Jose was canonically established in 1981 and belongs to the ecclesiastical province of San Francisco.