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Catholic Daily News

ACI Prensa's latest initiative is the Catholic News Agency (CNA), aimed at serving the English-speaking Catholic audience. ACI Prensa (www.aciprensa.com) is currently the largest provider of Catholic news in Spanish and Portuguese.
  1. San Salvador, El Salvador, Mar 24, 2017 / 02:49 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his role as Vicar General, Monsignor Ricardo Urioste was one of the closest collaborators of Oscar Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador who was martyred for the faith in 1980 and beatified two years ago.

    And this monsignor has some stories to tell.

    Among the most fascinating involve details surrounding the day Romero was killed, what the late archbishop really thought about the controversial and problematic Liberation Theology, and the fact that the martyr’s insides hadn’t decomposed when they were exhumed three years after his death.

    Archbishop Romero was brutally killed while celebrating Mass on March 24, 1980 – a time when El Salvador was on the brink of civil war. In February 2015, Pope Francis officially recognized his death as having been for hatred of the faith and gave the green light for his beatification.

    Msgr. Urioste, who currently heads up the Archbishop Romero Foundation, said that during the time the martyr lived, whenever “he preached, spoke, was a pastor, they accused him of being communist, Marxist, a politician, and a thousand things."

    However, he noted how after 12 years of extensive study on the life and writings of the archbishop, the Vatican never found anything that supported these claims.

    In an interview with CNA, Msgr. revealed some the of the lesser known facts surrounding the new blessed, as well as his continuing legacy on the Church and the world at large.

    What happened on the day Archbishop Romero died

    Msgr. Urioste can easily recall the day that Archbishop Romero was killed, saying that it was “an ordinary day of work” for him.

    In the morning the archbishop had a meeting with a group of priests, and then they ate lunch together. After the meeting he went to confession with his usual confessor, which was a priest named Fr. Segundo Ascue.

    Once he confessed, Archbishop Romero went to celebrate a 6 p.m. Mass in San Salvador’s hospital of Divine Providence, which was staffed by nuns. The Mass, Mons. Urioste recalled, had been widely publicized throughout the diocese.

    While he was celebrating Mass in the hospital’s chapel, the archbishop was shot in the chest from outside.

    Msgr. Urioste said that after getting a phone call informing him of what happened, “I immediately went to the hospital, and he was already taken to the polyclinic. A television set arrived, they interviewed me, and after I went to the hospital where he was."

    He recalled how as the sisters were going to embalm Archbishop Romero’s body, he told them “please be careful not to drop his insides anywhere, but that they pick them up and bury them, and they did, burying them in front of the little apartment he had in the hospital where he lived."

    Three years later, on the occasion St. John Paul II’s visit to the country, the nuns of the hospital “made a monument to the Virgin in the same place where we had buried (Romero’s) insides.”

    “When they were digging they ran into the box and the plastic bag where they had placed the insides, and the blood was still liquid and the insides didn't have any bad smell,” he revealed.

    “I don't want to say that it was a miracle, it's possible that it's a natural phenomenon, but the truth is that this happened, and we told the archbishop at the time (Arturo Rivera y Damas), look monsignor, this has happened and he said 'be quiet, don't tell anyone because they are going to say that they are our inventions,'” he said.

    However, “Pope John Paul II was given a small canister with Archbishop Romero’s blood,” he noted.

    Msgr. Urioste recalled that when John Paul II arrived to San Salvador, the first thing he did “was go to the cathedral without telling anyone. The cathedral was closed, they had to go and look for someone to open it so that the Pope could enter and kneel before the tomb of Archbishop Romero.”

    John Paul II asked during his visit that no one manipulate the memory of Archbishop Romero, Msgr. Urioste recalled, and lamented how “they politicized him.”

    “The left had politicized him, putting him as their banner. And the right politicized him, saying things that are untrue about the bishop, that are purely false, they denigrated him.”

    One of the things that the Church in El Salvador wants, Msgr. Urioste said, is that “the figure of the archbishop, known now a little more than he was before, is a cause for reflection, a motive for peace, a motive for forgiveness, a motive for reconciliation with one another, and that we all have more patience to renew ourselves and follow the paths that Archbishop Romero proposed to us.”

    “I think that (Romero’s) figure is going to contribute a lot to a better meeting and reconciliation in El Salvador,” he said.

    What Archbishop Romero really thought about Liberation Theology

    Despite the many accusations leveled against the archbishop of San Salvador, his Vicar General said that Romero “never had a Marxist thought or Marxist ideology in his mind.”

    “If there had been, the Vatican, which has studied so much, would not have beatified him, if they had found that he had Marxist interests.”

    The real backbone of his closeness to the poor, he said, was the Gospel and the teaching of the Church.

    “He was a servant of the Gospel, he never read anything from Liberation Theology, but he read the Bible.”

    Msgr. Urioste noted that the archbishop's library, “had all these books from the early Fathers of the Church, from the current Magisterium of the Church, but (he) never even opened any of the books from Liberation Theology, or Gustavo Gutiérrez, or of anyone else.”

    “He read the Bible and there he encountered a Jesus in love with the poor and in this way started walking toward him,” he said.

    What set Archbishop Romero apart

    One of the most distinguishing characteristics of Archbishop Romero was “his great sense of work. He was an extremely hardworking man and devoted to his work day and night – until midnight and until dawn,” Msgr. Urioste said.

    He recalled how the archbishop would begin to prepare his Sunday homilies the day before, and would always include three reflections on the Eucharist. When Romero preached, he made frequent reference to the Fathers of the Church, based his comments on Church teaching and related his thoughts to the country's current reality.

    “A homily that doesn't have this relation with what is happening sounds the same here as in Ireland, in Paris, as anywhere,” the priest said.

    He recalled how in Romero's time the government was “a ferocious military dictatorship, which had 'national security' as it's theme.”

    Everyone who either sided with the poor or expressed concern for them “was accused of being communist, they were sent to be killed without thinking more. There were 70 thousand deaths like this in the country at that time,” Msgr. Urioste noted.

    “The social economic reality was of a lot of poverty, of a great lack of unemployment, of low wages.”

    Ultimately, Archbishop Romero’s beatification, the monsignor said, is “a triumph of the truth.”

    It is a triumph, he said, of the truth of “who Archbishop Romero really was, what he did, how he did it, from the Word of God, from the Magisterium of the Church, in defense of the poor, who were the favored ones of Jesus Christ and who were were also the favored ones of Archbishop Romero.”

    A verison of this article was originally published May 23, 2015.

  2. Detroit, Mich., Mar 24, 2017 / 12:14 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A new television ad campaign launched by the Michigan Catholic Conference is featuring commercials that spotlight the hand of the Catholic Church in health, education, and charitable systems throughout the state.

    “The Catholic Church is the largest provider of social services, education, and health care after the government itself,” stated David Maluchnik, vice president of communications for the Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC), in a recent press release.

    “This advertising project aims to reinforce the notion that faith-based health care, charitable, and educational entities here in the state are an inclusive and diverse component of our local communities that serve all in the spirit of ‘loving thy neighbor,’” Maluchnik continued.

    Entitled “Freedom to Serve,” the ad campaign is the product of collaboration between the Michigan Catholic Conference and the media firm Minus Red. The commercials were originally produced as three short films, and were extracted from the films for television commercials.

    The goal behind the commercials is to underscore how the Catholic Church is “free to serve” the community in Michigan through various outlets, such as the fields of health, education and charity. Currently, there is a Catholic presence in 222 schools, 33 health centers, 88 social service centers, and 73 specialized homes.

    These commercials are being shown on 28 cable and network stations throughout the state, and will run from February through May. There are currently two commercials, titled “Little Simple Things” and “Hands of Service in Healing.”

    Each commercial tackles big issues such as palliative care and how organizations, such as Catholic Charities, are providing much-needed water for the city of Flint. One commercial notes that Catholic Charities is “one of the largest suppliers of water in Flint,” and that they give water away for free to those who need it.

    While there are only two commercials on air currently, new ads will debut over the next few months that will spotlight Catholic health centers and Catholic school systems.

    “For over one hundred years, the Catholic community in Michigan has played a vital role providing our most vulnerable brothers and sisters with the material and spiritual care necessary to uphold their dignity as human persons,” Maluchnik stated.

    According to the press release, the Catholic school system educated about 52,000 students during the course of 2016. The Church has also provided various social services and charity work for over 480,000 citizens in the state. Additionally, Catholic health services in Michigan have cared for over 5.5 million individuals, “all without regard to race, religion, or income.”

    “Catholic institutions are administered and staffed by persons who do not leave their faith at the doorstep when serving others – it is who they are from morning until night,” Maluchnik noted.

    There are about 1.8 million Catholics in the state – 18 percent of the Michigan population. The Michigan Catholic Conference is hoping that these commercials will highlight the many ways the Catholic Church is serving the greater Michigan community, and also bring light to recent government mandates which have put up roadblocks to serving those in need.

    More information about the “Freedom to Serve” project is available at www.CatholicsServe.com

     

  3. Cape Coast, Ghana, Mar 23, 2017 / 08:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Priestly formation isn't a just a job for the rector – it's a responsibility shared between the entire Christian community and seminarians themselves, said a Ghanaian bishop.

    “It is the duty and the primary responsibility of parents to form or educate seminarians, while the seminarian himself has the onerous responsibility to be involved and committed to his own formation if he wants to become truly what God the Father has willed,” Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle of Accra said.

    The archbishop delivered the keynote address the week of March 12 at gathering themed “Sixty Years of Priestly Formation for the Church in Ghana and the Universal Church – A Shared Responsibility.” The address was a part of the activities at St. Peter's Catholic Seminary in the Cape Coast to mark the 60th anniversary of Ghana's independence as a nation.

    Archbishop Palmer-Buckle acknowledges that “the challenges are not to be underrated” but stressed it is the entire Christian community which must contribute. He said the challenges for a complete and concrete formation are to be kept in sight of “parents, guardians and society,” for the good of the “subject, the child or the student…and [the] Church as a whole.”

    He said that education of the faith begins in the home with families and children, but then continues onto the state, the church, and religious leadership.

    Pope Francis has also expressed similar sentiments in a 2015 homily. He said the family is the “center of pastoral work,” and a “handing on of the faith” begins in the home and church.

    The Pope also said that a priest “always remains of the people and the culture that have produced him; our roots help us to remember who we are and to where Christ has called us. We priests do not fall from above but are instead called by God, who takes us ‘from among men,’ to ‘ordain us for men.’”

    In his address last week, Archbishop Palmer-Buckle said that the Holy Spirit is bestowed on everyone in the church, and it is therefore the responsibility of the entire church to nature vocations.

    “As a shared responsibility, it begins with praying to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his vineyard. Then it follows with calling people and nurturing them to follow Christ in the priesthood and religious life.”

  4. Baltimore, Md., Mar 23, 2017 / 05:10 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal William Henry Keeler, who was Archbishop of Baltimore from 1989 to 2007, has died at the age of 86, archdiocesan officials say.

    He died early in the morning of March 23 at St. Martin's Home for the Aged in Catonsville, Maryland, a home administered by the Little Sisters of the Poor.

    The cardinal's funeral Mass will be held March 28 at Baltimore's Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, after which his body will be interred in the basement crypt at the city's Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said in a statement that getting to know Cardinal Keeler was one of “the great blessings in my life.”

    Archbishop Lori added that after he was appointed Archbishop of Baltimore in 2012 “I became more aware than ever of his tremendous ministry in the City of Baltimore and in the nine Maryland counties that comprise the Archdiocese.”

    Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. bishops' conference, also offered his “prayers of gratitude for Cardinal Keeler’s return to the Lord he so dearly loved,” in a statement.

    “As a priest, Bishop of Harrisburg, and Archbishop of Baltimore, the Cardinal worked to bring the hope of Christ to people’s lives. He also built bridges of solidarity to people of other faiths as a leader in ecumenism and interreligious affairs,” Cardinal DiNardo continued.

    “Cardinal Keeler was a dear friend. The most fitting tribute we can offer is to carry forward his episcopal motto in our daily lives: ‘Do the work of an evangelist.’”

    Cardinal Keeler was born in San Antonio, Texas March 4, 1931. After growing up and attending Catholic schools in Pennsylvania, he joined the seminary and then attended the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He was ordained there as a priest of the Diocese of Harrisburg in 1955, at the age of 24.

    During the Second Vatican Council, Fr. Keeler served as secretary to Bishop George R. Leech of Harrisburg. He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Harrisburg in 1979, and in 1983 became bishop of the same diocese. In 1989 he was named the 14th Archbishop of Baltimore, the oldest diocese in the United States.

    Archbishop Keeler was also elected as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1992, where he helped coordinate 1993’s World Youth Day celebrations in Denver, Colorado.

    Archbishop Keeler was appointed a cardinal by St. John Paul II in 1994.

    He retired in 2007, at the age of 76.

    Cardinal Keeler was very involved in both interreligious and ecumenical activities, as well as the pro-life movement.

    At the USCCB, he served as the moderator for Catholic-Jewish relations as well as the Chair for the Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs between 1984 and 1987. He served on the International Catholic Orthodox Commission for Theological Dialogue, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and the Congregation for the Oriental Churches over the years. He also served twice as the Chair of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

    In Baltimore, Cardinal Keeler worked hard to secure funding for at-risk children and youth to attend Catholic schools in the archdiocese. Today, the fund that bears his name has awarded over 16,500 scholarships and has raised more than $70 million dollars in funding.

    Other efforts of Cardinal Keeler include his hosting of both Sts. John Paul II and Mother Teresa of Calcutta during their visits to Baltimore, and his efforts to restore the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

    Sean Caine, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, told CNA that “the cardinal served the Archdiocese of Baltimore for 18 years,” a feat which made him third longest -serving bishop in the historic see. “He did so with great distinction, great clarity of vision and fidelity to the Church.”

    Caine continued to explain the cardinal’s meaning to the city and the deep significance of his leadership over those nearly two decades.

    “He was probably best known for his work in interfaith and ecumenical relations, which probably drew him close to Pope St. John Paul II, and that relationship bore particular fruit for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.”

    During the Holy Father’s 1995 visit to Baltimore, the Pope “was the first and only sitting Pope to visit the Archdiocese of Baltimore,” Caine explained.

    “He was a champion of Catholic education” and helped organize the local Catholic Charities’ comprehensive Catholic social services program, the Our Daily Bread Employment Center, Caine added. “It really is the cornerstone of Catholic Charities here in Baltimore.”

    Archbishop Lori expressed that the city will feel the impact of Cardinal Keeler’s loss.

    “Cardinal Keeler will be greatly missed,” Archbishop Lori wrote. “I am grateful to the Little Sisters for their devoted care for the Cardinal. May his noble priestly soul rest in peace!”

    The Archdiocese of Baltimore asks that, in lieu of flowers, well-wishers make contributions to the Cardinal William H. Keeler Endowment Fund of the Catholic Community Foundation.

  5. Glasgow, Scotland, Mar 23, 2017 / 02:31 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Four centuries after the martyrdom of St. John Ogilvie, Catholics in Scotland have launched a campaign to mark the place in Glasgow’s city center where he was executed for preaching the Catholic faith.

    The Order of the Knights of St. Columba, a U.K.-based Catholic fraternal organization, is backing the effort, the Scottish Catholic Observer reports.

    “There should be something,” said the order’s Supreme Knight Charlie McCluskey. “He’s the only Scottish martyr and there’s not even a plaque. Whether you are Catholic, Protestant, whatever, this was an historic event in the history of the city that should be marked.”

    John Ogilvie was born in 1579 to a family of Scottish nobles in  Banffshire. Raised a Calvinist, he converted to Catholicism in 1596 while at Louvain, Belgium, after being educated at Catholic institutions. He later joined the Society of Jesus and was ordained a priest in Paris in 1610. He requested he be sent back to Scotland, which had become deeply hostile to the Catholic faith.

    He was betrayed by someone who posed as a Catholic, and was then imprisoned for treason. He faced torture by officials who sought the names of other Catholics, facing sleep deprivation and needles pushed under his fingernails.

    The torture did not succeed. St. John Ogilvie did not betray the faithful, and he was sentenced to death. He was hanged at Glasgow Cross on March 10, 1615, which later became his feast day.

    Pius XI beatified him in 1929, and he was canonized by Blessed Paul VI in 1976. He is the only post-Reformation Scottish saint to have been canonized.

    McCluskey has suggested the saint be honored with a statue in an alcove on the Mercat Building, owned by Glasgow City Council, which overlooks the Glasgow Cross.

    Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow spoke of the saint in his March 10 homily, Scotland’s Sunday Herald reports.

    “He died here in our city. He is an honorary Glaswegian. He belongs to Glasgow. And above all, his blood was shed for Christ here in Glasgow,” he said.

    The archbishop noted the national shrine to the saint at St. Aloysius Church and a famous painting of him in Glasgow’s St. Andrew’s Cathedral.

    Archbishop Tartaglia said the saint’s example is important at a time when Catholics face “more subtle forms of restricting religious freedom.”

    The Knights of St. Columba have made tentative inquiries to the Glasgow city council and reported finding no significant objections to the proposal. It aims to proceed if there is sufficient public support.

    One of the campaigners to recognize the saint is John Patrick Mallon, who heads the Sancta Familia Media group based at Holy Family Church in Mossend in the Diocese of Motherwell. His group made a short film about the saint at the site of his martyrdom at Glasgow Cross.



    “I was just really surprised there was nothing to mark it, not even a cross,” Mallon said. The social media campaign had “an amazing response” drawing the interest of hundreds of people.

    The saint’s martyrdom inspired the transformation of the Pontifical Scots College into a seminary in 1616. Pope Francis discussed the saint in an April 14, 2016 address to students of the college.  

    “The martyrdom of St. John Ogilvie, which was meant to silence the Catholic faith, instead was an impetus for its promotion and for defending the Church’s freedom to remain in communion with the See of Peter,” he said.

    “We too are living in a time of martyrdom, and in the midst of a culture so often hostile to the Gospel,” the Roman Pontiff continued. “I urge you to have that same selfless spirit as your predecessors did. Love Jesus above all things!”

  6. Vatican City, Mar 23, 2017 / 02:22 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- On Thursday a Vatican event on the prevention of child abuse narrowed in on the importance of education in schools and parishes in the safeguarding of children – not only for teachers, but for parents and children – and on the Church's role.

    Led by Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, he told CNA at the March 23 event that Catholic schools are, of course, a very important part of the Church’s and Commission's ministry.

    There are “60 million children in our care in Catholic schools and so this kind of a conference is extremely important for the ministry of the Church,” O'Malley said. “And we were very gratified that so many cardinals made time to be a part of this.”

    The seminar was attended by five different cardinals in addition to O'Malley, including Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, head of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, head of the Congregation for Bishops.

    Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life; Cardinal George Pell, Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy; and Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, were also in attendance.

    Additionally, every Vatican department was represented in some way.

    Fr. Hans Zollner SJ, who heads the Center for Child Protection (CCP) at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and is also a member of the commission, told CNA that it was a “very successful event, in drawing many high ranking members of the Curia, including a number of cardinals…all the dicasteries represented.”

    “This is taking shape and the formation that we have offered to dicasteries has also been very fruitful.”

    Sponsored jointly by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) and the Pontifical Gregorian University’s Center for Child Protection, the day-long educational seminar focused on what the local church and institutions are doing to combat abuse of minors specifically in schools and the home.  

    It included a presentation by Kathleen McCormack, Chair of the PCPM Working Group on Education of Families and Communities, and presentations by representatives from the South American countries of Mexico, Colombia and Argentina, as well as Australia and Italy.

    One participant, Fr. Luigi Gritti, a graduate of a CCP course on child abuse, told CNA that it was important that South America was a focus of the seminar, since the Western world is usually the focus when discussing this issue.

    “It tells you that the problem is present and acknowledged by the people, but also that something is being done to address the problem. So I think it's a good development,” he said.

    The presentations on South America all highlighted the importance of including children: speaking with and listening to them, teaching them about what is safe and appropriate behavior from adults, as well as becoming familiar with the visual and verbal signs that could indicate the occurrence of abuse, whether physical, emotional or sexual.

    The presenters for each country explained the unique cultural challenges they face in preventing abuse and in handling allegations, as well as what policies are currently in place.

    In the presentation on Australia, Francis Sullivan, CEO of Truth, Justice and Healing Council, said that in the end, the question of why the sex abuse crisis happened in our Church comes down to cultural problems and to corruption.

    Australia’s sexual abuse crisis has been one of the most shocking and widely known in the Church. Feb. 6, Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse held its final three-week review of how the Catholic Church in Australia has responded to sex abuse allegations.

    Referencing a quote from Pope Francis where he said that we don’t only need to reform the Church, but also the heart, he said that “child sexual abuse has broken the heart of the Church.”

    “We have never fully appreciated that the decisions that our leaders made in order to facilitate and cover up (abuse), actually broke the heart of what it means to be Catholic, and we need to go back and fully confront that,” he said.

    “Let’s not distract Church leaders from recognizing that this is a Church problem. Sure, it might happen in other institutions, sure, it happens in families. But the fact that it happened within the Catholic Church says something about the corruption within our Church… That we are not true to what we are meant to be.”

    Friday the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors begins their next Plenary Assembly, and one of the central topics will be how to ensure that survivors and victims are always the first priority, O’Malley said in his introductory remarks.

    “The assembly begins tomorrow and of course that is one of the things we'll be talking about,” he told CNA. A meeting of survivors is planned for June that the commission will also be involved in, he said.

    Regarding the participation of survivors, Fr. Zollner told CNA that “we need to be informed by survivors and victims, we need to listen to them, and we need to take into account what has been and is their experience.”

    Other topics at the Plenary Assembly will include how the commission will continue after the mandate concludes at the end of the calendar year, he said, and “we will see what are the structural steps, or the development, we will need so that our journey continues,” he said.

  7. Charlotte, N.C., Mar 23, 2017 / 09:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A new, epic narrative about the life of Mary, Queen of Heaven has just been released with the hope of drawing individuals closer to the Mother of God during the upcoming 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima.

    “We wanted to tell the story of Fatima. But, what the story of Fatima is really is the story of a battle,” Rick Rotondi, Vice President of New Business at Saint Benedict Press, told CNA.

    “That battle goes a long way back to the very beginning of the Bible, with enmity with the serpent. It’s a long story and that’s what we are trying to tell: the battle that Our Lady is engaged with in modern times,” he continued.

    The new program is titled Queen of Heaven: Mary's Battle for You and was released by Saint Benedict Press only a few weeks ago. The video series is broken down into eight different segments, in a document-style format and is hosted by Leonardo Defilippis, a Shakespearean actor and founder of St. Luke Productions.

    Throughout the segments, over a dozen theological experts such as Tim Staples, Fr. Dominic Legge, Dr. Carrie Gress, and Fr. Chris Alar weigh in on the life of the Mother of God. The videos also take viewers around the country to places like the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the World Apostolate of Fatima Shrine, and the St. John Paul II National Shrine, where parts of the program were filmed.

    The program was created for group study in parishes, where individuals can come together and learn more about the Queen of Heaven as a parish. However, individual study is possible through the use of DVDs.

    “As you go through the program, you are learning about the richness of the Marian devotions and how to incorporate them in your life. That full experience is reserved for the parishes, but individuals will have access to the DVD content and a book,” Rotondi said.

    Rotondi, who is also one of the script writers and developers for the program, noted that the whole series took about nine months to complete, and is a unique program unlike any other.

    The release of the series at the beginning of March “was very deliberate,” Rotondi explained, saying that the centenary of Our Lady of Fatima was the driving force behind its debut.

    “Seventy-five percent of the content is a study of Mary in the Bible and Mariology, the study of Marian doctrine, and even Our Lady of Lourdes and Guadalupe. Twenty-five percent is Fatima,” Rotondi stated.

    Since its release only a few weeks ago, Saint Benedict Press has received positive feedback about the series, and they hope it continues to grow.

    “It’s in a number of parishes currently, and we are getting very favorable responses,” Rotondi said.

    Moving forward, the material for Queen of Heaven is also going to be available in a Spanish edition this summer, and DVDs will be released later this year. A book will also be published this May.

    Rotondi believes that the goal behind this new series is “to have a deeper love of Our Lady,” and he hopes this program will be able to draw individuals closer to the Mother of God.

    “Our Lady always brings us to her Son. I think a lot of people who will watch this love our Lord already, but may have not yet considered Our Lady in these ways,” Rotondi said.

    “The greatness of Our Lord is also revealed fully when you realize what a beautiful Queen he has.”

  8. Vatican City, Mar 23, 2017 / 06:44 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Thursday Pope Francis approved the second and final miracle needed to canonize Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto, two of the shepherd children who witnessed the Fatima Marian apparitions.

    The Pope approved the miracle in a March 23 audience with Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, during which he advanced six other causes, approving one other miracle, two causes for martyrdom and three of heroic virtue.

    In addition, the Pope also approved a positive vote from members of the canonization causes for six martyrs who are already Blessed, but do not yet have a second miracle attributed to them.

    However, the most significant of the causes approved is that of Francisco and Jacinta Marto. With the approval of the second miracle, the two may now be canonized Saints. It is likely Pope Francis will preside over their canonization himself while in Fatima May 12-13 for the centenary of the apparitions.

    Francisco, 11, and Jacinta, 10, were the youngest non-martyrs to be beatified in the history of the Church.

    The brother and sister, who tended to their families’ sheep with their cousin Lucia Santo in the fields of Fatima, Portugal, witnessed the apparitions of Mary, now commonly known as Our Lady of Fatima.

    During the first apparition, which took place May 13, 1917, Our Lady asked the three children to say the Rosary and to make sacrifices, offering them for the conversion of sinners. The children did, praying often, giving their lunch to beggars and going without food themselves. They offered up their daily crosses and even refrained from drinking water on hot days.

    In October 1918, Francisco and Jacinta became seriously ill with the Spanish flu. Our Lady appeared to them and said she would to take them to heaven soon.

    Bed-ridden, Francisco requested his first Communion. The following day, Francisco died, April 14, 1919. Jacinta suffered a long illness as well. She was eventually transferred to a Lisbon hospital and operated for an abscess in her chest, but her health did not improve. She died Feb. 20, 1920.

    Pope John Paul II beatified Francisco and Jacinta May 13, 2000, on the 83rd anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, teaching us that even young children can become saints.

    In addition to Francisco and Jacinta, the Pope also approved a miracle for Bl. Angelo da Acri, a Capuchin priest who died in October 1739, allowing for his canonization.

    Causes for martyrdom approved by the Pope – meaning they can be beatified – include Fr. Giuseppe Maria Fernández Sánchez and his 32 companions, who were priests and coadjutor brothers of Congregation of the Mission, as well as six laypersons from the Association of the Miraculous Medal of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who were killed in hatred of the faith in 1936 during the Spanish Civil War.

    Another martyrdom cause approved by the Pope was that of Servant of God Regina Maria Vattalil, a Poor Clare nun killed in hatred of the faith in 1995.

    The martyrs who were already Blessed but may now be canonized based on the Congregation’s vote are: Andrea de Soveral and Ambrogio Francesco Ferro, diocesan priests, and Matteo Moreira, layman, killed in hatred of the Faith in Brazil in 1645, and Cristoforo, Antonio and Giovanni, teenagers, killed in hatred of the Faith in Mexico in 1529.

    He also declared the heroic virtue of the following people: Daniele da Samarate, a Capuchin priest; Macrina Raparelli, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of Basiliane Daughters of St. Macrina; and Daniela Zanetta, a laywoman.

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