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AFRICA/GHANA - Resolve local conflicts to eliminate fertile ground for jihadist groups present on the borders

Accra - Attention must be paid to terrorist threats from neighboring states such as Burkina Faso, Togo and the Ivory Coast, as requested by the Ghana Bishops' Conference .
The appeal was launched on May 31 by the President of the GCBC. Msgr. Matthew Kwasi Gyamfi, Bishop of Sunyani , during a regional dialogue session on the evolution of the conflicts in the Bono region, in Sunyani.
The National Catholic Secretariat organized the meeting, which was attended by traditional leaders, representatives of religious bodies, security services, youth groups, politicians, business associations and high school students.
Msgr. Gyamfi declared that the security and protection of the nation should be everyone's concern, and called for a shared commitment to achieve a more secure and harmonious country.
"We must all do our part to help promote peace, stability and social cohesion", he remarked.
Ghana is considered one of the most stable countries in West Africa, but the presence of latent conflicts, such as the one in the Bawku region, in the north, on the border with Burkina Faso
, could offer fertile ground for the infiltration of jihadist groups present in neighboring states. Jihadists from Burkina Faso could offer support - fighters, weapons or training - to both sides as a way to win local allies for a future insurrection against the Accra government. In the last decade we saw how jihadist groups have managed to spread in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger precisely by taking advantage of local conflicts.
In recent years, jihadists have moved into Ghana, attacking security forces just 40 miles from Bawku, across the borders of Burkina Faso and Togo.
For this reason, the GCBC, together with other entities of the Catholic Church in Ghana, supports initiatives to resolve local conflicts.
In the case of the Bono region, regional minister Justina Owusu-Banahene has stated that it is one of the three most peaceful regions in the country and has praised the security services for helping to maintain peace and stability in the area.
However, the regional minister has pointed out that security problems such as perennial conflicts among tribal chiefs, land disputes and disputes, illegal mining, high unemployment and the activities of Fulani nomadic herders threaten peace and the stability of the region.

AFRICA/SUDAN - No "truce" really stops weapons. Bombings also block humanitarian aid

Khartoum - The Sudanese army has suspended negotiations, under the aegis of the United States and Saudi Arabia, aimed at guaranteeing a truce that should have allowed the delivery of humanitarian aid in the country where famine threatens. The army accuses the paramilitaries of not respecting their commitments and is "ready to fight until victory", said General Bourhane, during a visit to his men in Khartoum.
"The Church is called to give a message of hope to the people afflicted by so much suffering", said Sr. Teresia Wamuyu Wachira, Co-President of the Catholic movement Pax Christi, international. The nun spoke of the bloody conflict that broke out in Sudan and which is having devastating effects on the lives of thousands of people, especially women and children.
"We must show our support by reaching out to those affected", Sister Wamuyu said.
In fact, there is no truce - reports the local press - and the situation of the civilian population is dramatic. The organizations of the United Nations are sounding the alarm on the health situation and the impossibility of distributing food aid, operations prevented by the persistence of bombings.
"The war has nothing to do with the people of Sudan. It is a struggle between military factions. Civilians have no interest in this war, it is just a situation that has been imposed on them by the military factions", said Sr Teresia.
Sudan was already one of the poorest countries in the world before the war. One in three inhabitants suffered from hunger, long power cuts were the order of the day and the health system was on the verge of collapse.

VATICAN - Archbishop Nappa: "Charism, evangelization, synodality" the "traits" of the path of the Pontifical Mission Societies

Ciampino - Charism, evangelization and synodality. These are, according to Archbishop Emilio Nappa, Adjunct Secretary of the Dicastery for Evangelization and President of the Pontifical Mission Societies , the three key words that best describe the path of the PMS, which, from today until June 6, are engaged in the usual Annual General Assembly .
This afternoon, at the opening of the Assembly, Archbishop Nappa thanked the more than 100 National Directors present, addressing in particular a warm welcome to the newly appointed Directors and sincerely thanking the four Secretaries General for their valuable support in their daily work and in particular for this important appointment.
"We all participate in the universal task of the Holy Father to provide for evangelization in all the Churches, and in particular those which most need witness and help", underlined the President, who recalled his availability to listen and welcome ideas. Here in Rome, we do nothing but coordinate and interpret our common identity: to be "instruments for the promotion of the missionary responsibility of all the baptized and for the support of the new particular Churches" , as Pope Francis himself pointed out in the recent Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium''.
A path like that of the PMS whose distinctive features are the charism received as a gift from God through the founders, particularly useful in view of the revision of the Statutes of the PP.OO.MM. which will be carried out on the basis of the Constitution Praedicate Evangelium; evangelization that outlines "the identity of the Church", as the Pope reaffirmed in his Message for World Mission Day 2022 and synodality.
"In the light of the documents of the recent Magisterium, I clearly see the triple commitment assigned to us", underlined the President, dwelling on the evangelizing aspect of the path of the PMS. First, to help the particular Churches to form a mature and therefore missionary faith of the newly baptized and of those who are already baptized; secondly, to support the particular Churches with various subsidies, intended mainly for spreading the faith; and finally, to stimulate and animate "a new season of missionary action of Christian communities" , also in places of ancient Christian tradition, by "exploiting" to the maximum the potential of the existing worldwide capillary network of the national and diocesan directions of the PMS".
Urging everyone to a Christian-missionary lifestyle that inspires common work, the President also recalled the importance of working as a "team" avoiding the dangerous temptation of doing it "alone". He also addressed to the Directors some concrete ideas for the near future: Give witness in places of mission that create community and interest in conversion; study the most appropriate ways to offer subsidies that produce the greatest possible good; work on the presentation of projects and their consequent reports; try to create a network that facilitates transparent exchange; and provide serious formation to help the different territories to have agents for the Mission. "In this way, Archbishop Nappa concluded, we seek to actively commit ourselves on the path towards "an ever closer missionary cooperation of all its members at all levels" in the Church, as Pope Francis pointed out in his recent Message for this year's World Mission Day".

Fort Worth Diocese: Vatican says bishop has authority over Carmelite monastery amid investigation

Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity in Arlington, Texas. / Credit: CBS News Texas/YouTube

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 31, 2023 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

Amid an ongoing legal dispute between the Diocese of Fort Worth and a Carmelite monastery, the diocese announced that the Vatican formally recognized Bishop Michael Olson as having authority over the nuns.

A diocesan statement said that the Vatican appointed the bishop as the pontifical commissary, which makes him “the pope’s representative in this matter.” The statement said the May 31 decree was issued through the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

The dispute began in late April when the diocese launched an investigation into whether the Reverend Mother Superior Teresa Agnes Gerlach had an affair with a priest. The reverend mother and the Monastery of the Most Holy Trinity in Arlington, Texas, filed a lawsuit against the bishop and the diocese, which accused the bishop of confiscating the reverend mother’s computer, cellphone, and laptop and subjecting nuns to lengthy questioning.

According to the diocesan statement, the Holy See’s decree recognizes the bishop’s authority in the investigation and over the monastery.

“The Dicastery recognized and acknowledged that Bishop Olson has been, and continues to be, entrusted with full governing responsibility for the Monastery,” the statement reads. “This decree is in response to the challenge to Bishop Olson’s authority to conduct an investigation into the admitted-to violations of the sixth commandment of the Decalogue and the vow of chastity by the Reverend Mother Teresa Agnes (Gerlach).”

A spokesperson for the diocese declined to comment further on the matter.

The decree comes four days after Olson sent a letter to the Carmelite monastery, which accuses the nuns of inciting “hatred and animosity” toward him and the diocese. He also refused to reinstate daily Mass and regular confession at the monastery.

Amid the investigation, the bishop banned the monastery from celebrating daily Mass and blocked access to regular confessions. He has also prohibited lay participation in the Mass. The nuns now only have access to Mass on Sundays and are only guaranteed the right to access confession once per year.

The monastery requested that its access to daily Mass, lay participation in the Mass, and regular confession be reinstated, but Olson sent them a letter in which he denied the request and accused them of hindering his investigation.

Olson said neither daily Mass nor confessions can be “conveniently provided for the members of the monastery” and Mass participation cannot be “extended to the lay faithful” because the monastery “lodged a civil lawsuit, together with a request for a protection order, against me and the Diocese of Fort Worth, containing a false narrative to the pending investigation.”

“[This] has led to local, national, and international media coverage and has incited hatred and animosity against me because of my initiation of the investigation and has hindered the freedom of my ecclesiastical power to conduct that investigation,” Olson continued. “Further obstruction of the investigation has occurred since you and certain members of the Monastery have refused to cooperate with the investigation.”

Olson told the monastery that these restrictions will stay in place until the nuns “cease this behavior which is contrary to and unbecoming of their religious state and demonstrate love for and obedience to [the] Holy Church and to her holy Pastors … and until completion of the pending civil lawsuit or its withdrawal.”

The monastery accuses the bishop and the diocese of violating both civil and canon law through his conduct related to the investigation. The lawsuit seeks $1 million in civil damages and asks the court to block the bishop’s and the diocese’s access to any records obtained by confiscating the reverend mother’s property. The diocese argued that the dispute is an ecclesiastical matter and should not be heard in a civil court.

Matthew Bobo, a civil lawyer representing the monastery and Mother Gerlach, said the bishop’s restrictions are a display of vengeance.

“This latest salvo from Bishop Olson is an unbelievably extreme display of arrogance, vengeance and hard-heartedness directed toward Sister Francis Therese and the other cloistered sisters whose religious order, daily since the 1950s, have joyfully and tirelessly prayed the Divine Office (universal prayer of the Catholic Church) for the Church and the world,” Bobo said in a statement.

Although the diocese contends that the reverend mother admitted to violating the Sixth Commandment, which prohibits adultery, with a priest, Bobo has said that she was under the influence of pain medication related to a surgery and “has not admitted to any grave misconduct that would warrant his extreme and emotionally damaging measures.”

“I cannot imagine the heartbreak and psychological suffering these prayerful women — set apart from the world to pray for it — are experiencing at the hands of their God-given shepherd,” Bobo said.

After the monastery filed the lawsuit, Olson also denied Gerlach’s ability to choose her own canon lawyer to represent her in the ecclesiastical investigation. Instead, he appointed a canon lawyer to represent her. Although the canon lawyer has already filed paperwork on her behalf, the reverend mother rejects the legitimacy of his claim that he represents her in these matters.

Dodgers pitcher denounces team’s decision to honor anti-Catholic group: ‘God cannot be mocked’

Dodger Stadium with downtown Los Angeles in the background. / Credit: Emma_Griffiths/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., May 31, 2023 / 15:45 pm (CNA).

A Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher became the latest Major League Baseball player to publicly condemn the Dodgers’ decision to honor an anti-Catholic drag group known as the “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.”

Blake Treinen issued a statement Monday night in which he said: “I am disappointed to see the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence being honored as heroes at Dodger Stadium. Many of their performances are blasphemous, and their work only displays hate and mockery of Catholics and the Christian faith.”

Treinen released his statement via a friend’s Twitter account.

“This group openly mocks Jesus Christ, the cornerstone of my faith, and I want to make it clear that I do not agree with nor support the decision,” Treinen wrote.

“I understand that playing baseball is a privilege, and not a right,” he said, noting “my convictions in Jesus Christ will always come first.”

“Inviting the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to perform disenfranchises a large community and promotes hate of Christians and people of faith. This single event alienates the fans and supporters of the Dodgers, Major League Baseball, and professional sports,” Treinen said. 

“I believe the word of God is true, and in Galatians 6:7 it says, ‘do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked; a man reaps what he sows,’” Treinen said.

The controversy erupted last week after the Dodgers announced that they would honor the Los Angeles chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a group known for mocking Catholicism, during their Pride Night at Dodger Stadium event on June 16.

The national drag group uses Catholic religious imagery and themes in protests and sexualized performances to raise awareness and money for LGBTQ+ causes. The performers call themselves nuns and regularly use the images of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and women religious.

The Dodgers will be giving the group a “Community Hero Award” before the June 16 game against the San Francisco Giants. 

After initially receiving blowback from the Christian community, the Dodgers revoked their invitation to the drag group, only to reinstate it with an apology days later.  

Dodgers ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw, one of the MLB’s most successful pitchers, told the Los Angeles Times on Monday that he disagreed but did not go so far as to condemn the team’s decision.

“I don’t agree with making fun of other people’s religions,” Kershaw told the L.A. Times. “It has nothing to do with anything other than that. I just don’t think that no matter what religion you are, you should make fun of somebody else’s religion. So that’s something that I definitely don’t agree with.”

Kershaw said that a Dodgers Christian Faith & Family Day event to take place the month after the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are honored was the right response.  

“For us, we felt like the best thing to do in response was, instead of maybe making a statement condemning or anything like that, would be just to instead try to show what we do support, as opposed to maybe what we don’t,” Kershaw said. “And that was Jesus. So to make Christian Faith Day our response is what we felt like was the best decision.”

According to the L.A. Times, Kershaw said watching video of the group’s portrayal of Christianity was “tough,” but he is not planning on boycotting the event honoring the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

Another Catholics MLB player, Washington Nationals pitcher Trevor Williams, also condemned the Dodgers’ decision and called for a boycott of the team Tuesday.

“To invite and honor a group that makes a blatant and deeply offensive mockery of my religion, and the religion of over 4 million people in Los Angeles county alone, undermines the values of respect and inclusivity that should be upheld by any organization,” Williams said. “I also encourage my fellow Catholics to reconsider their support of an organization that allows this type of mockery of its fans to occur.” 

In a Tuesday press release, Williams’ press manager Zach Morley said that “his Catholic faith is the most important part of his life.” 

“This is why he chose to post on his social media accounts Tuesday, while the Nationals were in Los Angeles, that he was upset by the Los Angeles Dodgers decision to re-invite and honor a fringe group calling themselves, ‘The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence,’” the release said. 

On Tuesday, Anthony Bass, a pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays and a Christian, issued a public apology just a day after sharing a video to his social media that advocated for boycotts of Target and Bud Light for their support of transgender ideology.

“I recognize yesterday that I made a post that was hurtful to the Pride community, which includes friends of mine and close family members of mine, and I am truly sorry for that,” Bass said. “I just spoke with my teammates and shared with them my actions yesterday. I apologized with them and, as of right now, I am using the Blue Jays’ resources to better educate myself to make better decisions moving forward. The ballpark is for everybody. We include all fans at the ballpark, and we want to welcome everybody.”

The video shared by Bass was of Christian preacher Ryan Miller, who goes by the social media moniker “dude with good news,” advocating on a biblical basis for a boycott of Target and Bud Light. 

Despite his apology, Bass has continued to take heavy criticism on social media for his biblical stance against LGBTQ+ ideology. 

LGBTQ+ group “It Gets Better Canada” said in a tweet Tuesday that the organization was receiving donations “in recognition of Anthony Bass’ anti 2SLGBTQ+ stance.”

“Keep them coming! To our caring community — thank you for reminding us that hate has no space in baseball or in any other sport,” the group said. 

Cuban priest: 64 years is enough to prove the Cuban revolution didn’t work

Havana, Cuba. / Credit: Eduardo Berdejo ACI Prensa

ACI Prensa Staff, May 31, 2023 / 14:25 pm (CNA).

Father Alberto Reyes of the Archdiocese of Camagüey in Cuba said the 64 years that have elapsed since Fidel Castro seized power in 1959 “is more than enough time to realize that the project called the ‘Cuban Revolution’ didn’t work, because it didn’t bring progress, nor did it achieve its ideal of the ‘new man.’”

In a May 26 post on Facebook, Reyes pointed out that during these decades what has happened in Cuba is a precariousness of life and an increase in “the desire to escape.”

In addition, he pointed out, the six decades that have elapsed are “more than enough time to prove that, in reality, power over this people has been maintained through fear, mistrust ... repression that knows no limits and that is capable of going beyond what’s human.”

The priest asked those who run the country and “all those who, in one way or another, are involved in the mechanisms that maintain the power structures” if they don’t see what’s happening in Cuba.

“Is it that you’re not suffering? Is it that you don’t have family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances ... who tell you over and over again ‘I can’t take it anymore’ or ‘How long is this going to be?’” he asked.

Reyes, who reflects on the reality in Cuba on social media, also noted that in the Caribbean country, “any area of citizens’ lives falls into the category of being ‘a problem,’” whether it’s getting food or medicine, transportation, an education, or care for the elderly.

“Is it that you don’t see how the precarious situation has been breaking up that ‘basic cell of society’ called the family, continually split up by emigration, by ‘international (medical) missions,’ by the wars we have waged and which it seems we will continue to wage in geographic locations totally unrelated?” he challenged.

Cuba intervened militarily in Algeria (1963), Syria (1973), Angola (1975),  and Ethiopia (1977), and other countries.

“If you don’t see it,” Reyes asked, “it’s time for you to wake up and look at the reality in front of you. And if you see it, but you think that we are like this through no fault of our own, it’s time for you to decide to face the truth.”

“And if you see it and don’t question yourself, and don’t do anything, or don’t even begin to ask yourself what you could do to bring about real change, then you’ve not just chosen the condition of being a slave, but you’ve decided to build your life on the painful suffering of your own people,” the Cuban priest concluded.

The situation in Cuba is far from improving. One example is the constant power outages throughout the island, such as the one on May 28, despite the promises of the minister of energy and mines, Vicente de la O Levy, to have “better conditions.”

According to the report published in April by DatoWorld, Cuba leads the “Poverty Index in Latin America,” with approximately 72% of its population below the extreme poverty line, established by the World Bank at a daily income of less than $1.90.

Because the communist regime does not publish figures on the level of poverty, DatoWorld took the October 2022 report of the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights as a reference.

This means that thousands of Cubans continue to see emigration as a way out of poverty. According to the United States Customs and Border Protection Office, in the month of April, 9,008 people from the island tried to enter the country, totaling 143,926 Cubans since October 2022.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

This is Pope Francis’ prayer intention for the month of June

Pope Francis at his general audience in St. Peter's Square on May 17, 2023. / Vatican Media

Denver, Colo., May 31, 2023 / 11:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis’ prayer intention for the month of June is for the abolition of torture. 

“Torture is not past history. Unfortunately, it’s part of our history today,” Pope Francis said in a video released May 30.

“How is it possible that the human capacity for cruelty is so huge?” he questioned. 

“There are extremely violent forms of torture. Others are more sophisticated, such as degrading someone, dulling the senses, or mass detentions in conditions so inhumane that they take away the dignity of the person.”

The pope reminded the faithful that this is not something new. He urged everyone to “think of how Jesus himself was tortured and crucified.”

He added: “Let us put a stop to this horror of torture. It is essential to put the dignity of the person above all else. Otherwise, the victims are not persons, they are ‘things’ and can be mistreated mercilessly, causing death or permanent psychological and physical harm lasting a lifetime.”

Pope Francis concluded his message with a prayer: “Let us pray that the international community commit itself concretely to abolish torture, guaranteeing support to victims and their families.”

Pope Francis’ prayer video is promoted by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, which raises awareness of monthly papal prayer intentions.

Vatican supports Catholic research to improve families and marriages

null / Credit: anastasiya parfenyuk/Shutterstock

Rome Newsroom, May 31, 2023 / 10:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has backed a project aimed at enhancing interdisciplinary research at Catholic universities in the sphere of family, marriage, and childbearing.

“We cannot be indifferent to the future of the family as a community of life and love, a unique and indissoluble covenant between a man and a woman, a place where generations meet, a source of hope for society,” the pope said in a message of support released Tuesday.

The project, called the Family Global Compact, was presented May 30 by members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (PASS) and the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life.

In a written message read at the presentation, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the family dicastery, said: “The Family Global Compact entrusts Catholic universities with the task of developing more in-depth theological, philosophical, legal, sociological, and economic analyses of marriage and the family to sustain it and place it at the heart of systems of thought and contemporary action.”

The compact includes a 50-page document outlining specific challenges faced by families today, followed by suggested solutions and actions to take. Each challenge also includes guidelines for university research on that topic.

The document notes the challenges caused by low birth rates in many areas of the world and how the widespread practice and legalization of contraception, abortion, and sterilization “have transformed the meaning of procreation: from a natural inclination and gift of God to a project and result of a procreative will that tends to dominate life.”

The Vatican document encourages working to create “favorable conditions for getting married and having children at a young age” and to improve access to Church-approved forms of medical care, such as Naprotechnology, for those struggling with infertility.

The document also discusses the promotion of marriage among young adults, childbearing and adoption, intergenerational dependence, domestic violence, education to faith and the common good, employment, and poverty, among other subjects.

“This project,” the document says, “also challenges all the social actors to whom the Family Global Compact will be able to offer arguments and reflections based on rigorous empirical evidence, investigated and interpreted within an explicit anthropological perspective, relational and personalistic in nature, firmly inscribed in the social doctrine of the Church.”

The Vatican representatives emphasized May 30 that the project is based on the concrete realities of families today.

The president of PASS, Sister Helen Alford, OP, said: “We see that, despite the sense of a crisis in the family, or even of the ‘death’ of the family, it remains a central goal and value in people’s lives.”

“We cannot resign ourselves,” Pope Francis said in his message, “to the decline of the family in the name of uncertainty, individualism, and consumerism, which envision a future of individuals who think only of themselves.”

“The family, it should be recalled, has a positive effect on everyone, since it is a generator of common good,” he continued. “Healthy family relationships represent a unique source of enrichment, not only for spouses and children but for the entire ecclesial and civil community.”

Gabriella Gambino, an undersecretary of the family and life dicastery, pointed to four steps, or goals, of the Family Global Compact, as explained by Pope Francis.

The first is to initiate “a process of dialogue and greater collaboration among university study and research centers dealing with family issues, in order to make their activities more productive, particularly by creating or reviving networks of university institutes inspired by the social doctrine of the Church,” the pope said.

The second and third goals, he added, are to create “greater synergy of content and goals between Christian communities and Catholic universities” and to promote “the culture of family and life in society, so that helpful public policy resolutions and objectives can emerge.”

And finally, Francis said, the compact hopes to harmonize and advance proposals resulting from the research “so that service to the family can be enhanced and sustained in spiritual, pastoral, cultural, legal, political, economic, and social terms.”

Pierpaolo Donati, a sociologist and member of PASS, said in the past “once upon a time if you will,” young people were educated in a healthy family life by the family, but now, this has largely been lost.

“The core of the problem is a relationship culture that is lacking,” he said.

“Studies have revealed a crisis in family relationships,” Pope Francis said, “fueled by both contingent and structural problems, which, in the absence of adequate means of support from society, make it more difficult to create a serene family life.”

“This is one reason why many young people are choosing unstable and informal types of emotional relationships over marriage,” he explained. “At the same time, surveys make it clear that the family continues to be the primary source of social life and point to the existence of good practices that deserve to be shared and promoted globally.”

“Families themselves can and should be witnesses and leaders in this process.”

PHOTOS: Thousands gather in Times Square for eucharistic procession in New York City

Thousands of people gathered in Times Square for a eucharistic procession in New York City on May 27, 2023. / Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/CNA

New York City, N.Y., May 31, 2023 / 09:05 am (CNA).

In what many are calling the largest eucharistic procession ever held in New York City, thousands of people took to the streets reciting prayers and singing songs of praise on the vigil of Pentecost, May 27.

The NYPD estimated more than 4,000 people took to the streets and processed through Times Square. Led by Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Espaillat of the Archdiocese of New York, the procession brought together priests, nuns, and laity to pray for the forgiveness of sins in the iconic city and the world.

Thousands of people gathered in Times Square for a eucharistic procession in New York City on May 27, 2023. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Thousands of people gathered in Times Square for a eucharistic procession in New York City on May 27, 2023. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/CNA

The theme of the procession was “¡Esta ciudad pertenece a Jesucristo!” — “This city belongs to Jesus Christ!”

The procession was organized by the Hispanic Catholic Charismatic Center located in the Bronx, which is part of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church. Participants started at Father Duffy Square in Times Square and after two hours, the procession ended at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where Mass was celebrated.

Thousands of people gathered in Times Square for a eucharistic procession in New York City on May 27, 2023. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Thousands of people gathered in Times Square for a eucharistic procession in New York City on May 27, 2023. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/CNA

With a bullhorn in hand, Espaillat shared intense words to the faithful, saying: “In the middle of New York is the cross of Jesus Christ!”

“And this is why we rejoice today. We rejoice because this is Pentecost weekend. And we know what happened on Pentecost, right? There was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit,” he said.

Thousands of people gathered in Times Square for a eucharistic procession in New York City on May 27, 2023. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Thousands of people gathered in Times Square for a eucharistic procession in New York City on May 27, 2023. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/CNA

“And we would not be standing here if it were not for the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen?”

“So my sisters and my brothers in Christ, we rejoice today for the blessings that God has in store for this great city. I love this city! I love New York! And that’s why I’m here, because I want to pray for our city. Amen?”

Thousands of people gathered in Times Square for a eucharistic procession in New York City on May 27, 2023. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Thousands of people gathered in Times Square for a eucharistic procession in New York City on May 27, 2023. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/CNA

He exclaimed in Spanish: “¡Esta es mi ciudad! ¡Esta es nuestra ciudad! ¡Esta ciudad es de Jesucristo!” which translates to “This is my city! This is our city! This city is Jesus Christ’s’!” 

Photojournalist Jeffrey Bruno, who happened to be in the city for another assignment and stumbled upon the procession thanks to an Instagram post, said: “I have never seen anything like that before, especially in New York.” 

One particularly moving moment Bruno captured was the crowded street, lined by the skyscrapers of Times Square, filled with the faithful kneeling before the Blessed Sacrament as it was being lifted high into the air.

Thousands of people gathered in Times Square for a eucharistic procession in New York City on May 27, 2023. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Thousands of people gathered in Times Square for a eucharistic procession in New York City on May 27, 2023. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/CNA

Father Shane Johnson, administrator of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church and director of the Hispanic Catholic Charismatic Center, told CNA: “​​To me, the number of people was secondary to the amount of real authentic faith that was so evident in those who were present. It was astonishing.”

“These moments of kneeling on the asphalt in the middle of a city street with our arms raised to God remind us of who we are as his children and how this city really does belong entirely to him,” he added.

Thousands of people gathered in Times Square for a eucharistic procession in New York City on May 27, 2023. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Thousands of people gathered in Times Square for a eucharistic procession in New York City on May 27, 2023. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/CNA

Johnson explained that while many view New York City as hostile toward Catholic events, such as protests held during pro-life walks in the city, the vast majority of people are respectful. 

“There is far more faith than might appear at first glance,” he shared. “When the majority is silent and a tiny minority is very loud, we get the impression that faith is moribund, but I’m convinced that our Lord’s victory in the hearts of his children is, almost all of the time, far greater than we realize.” 

Thousands of people gathered in Times Square for a eucharistic procession in New York City on May 27, 2023. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Thousands of people gathered in Times Square for a eucharistic procession in New York City on May 27, 2023. Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/CNA

“Most people like to see expressions of faith, even when they don’t understand them fully, and even in a city that’s often considered more famous for its sinners than for its many saints.” 

The eucharistic procession was organized as part of the Church’s National Eucharistic Revival. The next procession will take place on the feast of Corpus Christi, Sunday, June 11.

Pope Francis praises Matteo Ricci for proclaiming the Gospel in China

Pope Francis at his general audience in St Peter’s Square on May 31, 2023. / Adi Zace/EWTN

Vatican City, May 31, 2023 / 05:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis dedicated his entire general audience on Wednesday to sharing the life of Venerable Matteo Ricci, a 16th-century Jesuit missionary in China.

The pope, who has mentioned China at every Wednesday general audience in the past three weeks, praised Ricci’s “missionary spirit” in witnessing to the Gospel in the heart of the Imperial City of Beijing.

“Matteo Ricci died in Beijing in 1610 at the age of 57, a man who gave his entire life for the mission,” Francis said in St. Peter’s Square on May 31.

“His love for the Chinese people is a model, but what represents a current path is his consistency of life, the witness of his life as a Christian.”

Ricci is known for introducing Christianity to China’s imperial Ming Dynasty. By studying the language and adopting the local clothes and customs, the Jesuit priest gained access to the interior parts of the country that had been closed to outsiders.

“He always followed the path of dialogue and friendship with all the people he met, and this opened many doors for him to proclaim the Christian faith,” the pope said.

“After Francis Xavier’s attempt, another 25 Jesuits had tried in vain to enter China. But Ricci and one of his confrères prepared themselves very well, carefully studying the Chinese language and customs,” he said.

After first arriving in Macao in 1582, Ricci persevered in China for 18 years before he was able to enter Beijing’s Imperial City.

Pope Francis described how Ricci engaged in dialogue with Chinese scholars, sharing mathematical and astronomical knowledge that “contributed to a fruitful encounter between the culture and science of the West and the East.”

“However, Ricci’s fame as a man of science must not obscure the deepest motivation of all his efforts: that is, the proclamation of the Gospel,” the pope said.

“With the scientific dialogue, with the scientists, he went forward, but he gave testimony of his own faith, of the Gospel. The credibility obtained through scientific dialogue gave him the authority to propose the truth of Christian faith and morality, of which he spoke in depth in his principle Chinese works, such as ‘The True Meaning of the Lord of Heaven.’”

Once Ricci entered Beijing in January 1601, he never left. He is buried in Beijing’s Zhalan Cemetery, the first foreigner to be buried on Chinese soil during the Ming dynasty.

“In the last days of his life, to those who were closest to him and asked him how he felt, Matteo Ricci ‘responded that he was thinking at that moment if the joy he felt inside was greater than the idea that he was close to the end of his journey to go and taste God, or the sadness that could cause him to leave the companions of the whole mission that he loved greatly, and the service he could still do to God Our Lord in this mission,’” the pope said.

Pope Francis underlined that it was prayer that nourished Ricci’s missionary life in which he helped “lead many of his disciples and Chinese friends to accept the Catholic faith.”

He said that missionaries can learn from how Ricci testified with his own life to what he proclaimed. Francis said: “This is the consistency of evangelizers. … I can say the ‘Creed’ by heart, I can say all the things we believe, but if your life is not consistent with what you profess, it’s useless."

“What attracts people is the testimony of coherence; we Christians are called to live what we say, and not pretend to live as Christians but live as worldly.”

Pope Francis advanced the sainthood cause for Ricci last December on the pope’s 86th birthday. In the decree promulgated on Dec. 17, the pope declared that Ricci lived a life of heroic virtue, making him “venerable.”

Last week, at the end of his Wednesday general audience, Pope Francis asked Catholics to pray that the Gospel can be fully and freely shared in China.

“I invite everyone to lift up prayers to God that the good news of the crucified and risen Christ can be announced in its fullness, beauty, and freedom, bearing fruit for the good of the Catholic Church and all of Chinese society,” he said.