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. Vatican regulates the role of postulator in saints’ causes

    A pilgrim attends the canonization of St. John Henry Newman in Rome, Oct. 13, 2019. / Mazur/cbcew.org.uk.

    Vatican City, Oct 19, 2021 / 07:05 am (CNA).

    The Vatican has introduced formal regulations for postulators — those who help guide the process behind the declaration of a saint in the Catholic Church.

    The norms are part of the reform of the administration of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which began in 2016.

    The regulations for postulators, set out in 86 points, are designed to clarify the tasks and procedures, and to prevent conflicts of interest.

    Pope Francis approved the rules at the end of August, and the congregation’s prefect, Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, signed the document on Oct. 11.

    In an interview with Vatican News last week, Semeraro said that “the figure of the postulator and the office he holds continue to be important and, at the same time, delicate.”

    “The new regulation just promulgated is a sign of this, the need for which has been felt for some time,” he explained. “If they take their task seriously and with an ecclesial spirit, postulators can do much for the good of the causes and of the Church.”

    A postulator is the person who represents and guides a diocese or religious congregation through the beatification process, especially during its second phase, which happens in Rome.

    The first phase in a cause happens in a diocese or religious congregation — usually in the place where the man or woman being considered for canonization was born or lived for an extensive period.

    Postulators can be clergy, religious men or women, or lay people. According to the norms, the role can be filled by “any faithful Catholic of proven integrity, who has adequate knowledge of theology, canon law, and history, as well as the practice of the dicastery.”

    Other requisites are a diploma from the School of Higher Formation in the Causes of the Saints and being under the age of 80.

    To prevent a conflict of interest, the regulations now state that cardinals and bishops who are members of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and other officials and consultors connected with the congregation, cannot also be postulators.

    The norms also dictate that a postulator may have no more than 30 open cases at one time, though an exception is made for the postulator of a religious congregation.

    The rules clarify that a postulator is not a salaried employee of the Vatican, but can receive a “just compensation” for his or her work. Some postulators, such as those of religious congregations, may also choose to fulfill the role without receiving payment.

    Postulators cannot be treasurers or administrators of funds donated to sainthood causes, the regulations state.

    The document also says that the information gathered about the sainthood cause under investigation, which is bound together into a book called the “positio,” will remain confidential until 50 years after the inquiry concludes.

  2. Pope Francis: Catholic healthcare is called to bear witness to human dignity

    Pope Francis greets members of the Biomedical University Foundation of the Biomedical Campus University, at the Vatican’s Clementine Hall, Oct. 18, 2021. / Vatican Media.

    Vatican City, Oct 18, 2021 / 08:00 am (CNA).

    On the feast of the patron saint of doctors, Pope Francis said that Catholic healthcare is called to bear witness to human dignity amid a throwaway culture.

    “There are no lives that are unworthy or to be discarded because they do not respond to the criterion of utility or to the demands of profit,” Pope Francis said on Oct. 18.

    Vatican Media.
    Vatican Media.

    “We are experiencing a true throwaway culture; this is a bit like the air we breathe and we must react against this throwaway culture.”

    In an audience with medical professionals on the feast of St. Luke, the patron saint of physicians, the pope said that every healthcare facility, especially those with a Christian foundation, should be a place where it is possible to say: “Here you can experience the healing effects of human dignity.”

    Vatican Media.
    Vatican Media.

    Pope Francis met with the foundation that supports the Campus Bio-Medico University Hospital of Rome, a medical school hospital affiliated with the Catholic personal prelature Opus Dei.

    Blessed Álvaro del Portillo, the successor of Opus Dei’s founder St. Josemaría Escrivá, helped to establish the medical university in 1993.

    Vatican Media.
    Vatican Media.

    “It is nice to meet you in person on the very day we celebrate St. Luke, whom the Apostle Paul calls ‘the beloved physician,’” Pope Francis said.

    “Putting the patient before the disease is essential in every field of medicine; it is fundamental for a treatment that is truly comprehensive, truly human,” he said.

    Vatican Media.
    Vatican Media.

    “Blessed Álvaro del Portillo encouraged you to do this: to place yourselves every day at the service of the human person in his or her entirety. I thank you for this, it is very pleasing to God.”

    Pope Francis praised a vision of medicine in which “the centrality of the person” forms the basis of patient care, teaching, and research.

    Vatican Media.
    Vatican Media.

    This vision, he said, “does not put ideas, techniques, and projects in first place, but the actual person, the patient, to be cared for by understanding his or her story and establishing friendly relationships that heal the heart.”

    “Love for the person, especially in his or her condition of fragility, in which the image of Jesus Crucified shines through, is specific to a Christian reality and must never be lost,” the pope said.

    The Prefecture of the Papal Household announced on Oct. 18 that Pope Francis would celebrate a Mass on Nov. 5 at the Rome campus of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart marking the 60th anniversary of the Faculty of Medicine’s inauguration.

    Vatican Media.
    Vatican Media.

    In his address on Monday, Pope Francis said that the pandemic had revealed the importance of connecting and collaborating to solve common problems in medicine.

    “Charity requires a gift: knowledge must be shared, competence must be shared, science must be shared,” he said.

    Vatican Media.
    Vatican Media.

    He added that countries with fewer resources should be helped with vaccines, for example, but not only with the motivation of satisfying wealthy nations’ urgency to be safer faster.

    “Remedies must be distributed with dignity, not as pitiful handouts,” he said.

    “Medicine is an art, an art that involves head and heart, which combines knowledge and compassion, professionalism and piety, competence and empathy,” Pope Francis commented.

  3. Pope Francis names USCCB evangelization chair as new bishop of Crookston diocese

    Bishop Andrew Cozzens. / Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit.

    Vatican City, Oct 18, 2021 / 06:20 am (CNA).

    Pope Francis on Monday named the chair of the US bishops’ evangelization committee as the new bishop of Crookston, Minnesota.

    The pope appointed Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens, the 53-year-old auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, to the post that had remained vacant since Bishop Michael Hoeppner resigned on April 13.

    Hoeppner, who had led Crookston diocese since 2007, was the first U.S. bishop to be investigated under Vos estis lux mundi, Pope Francis’ 2019 norms on investigating bishops accused of mishandling or obstructing allegations of clerical sexual abuse.

    Cozzens said: “I am humbled and honored to be asked by the Holy Father to be the next Shepherd of the Diocese of Crookston. I look forward to getting to know the priests, deacons, consecrated religious and many faithful laity of the diocese.”

    “I pray that together we can grow to be Christ’s faithful disciples who make present his love in Northwestern Minnesota.”

    Andrew Harmon Cozzens was born in Denver, Colorado, on Aug. 3, 1968, the youngest of three children. He gained a bachelor’s degree in English literature and philosophy at the Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, where he encountered the Catholic Charismatic Renewal.

    According to an official biography, he then traveled around the United States serving young people with NET Ministries, founded in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 1981.

    He joined the Companions of Christ, a fraternity of diocesan priests and seminarians in the archdiocese, and led college Bible studies for the Catholic movement Saint Paul’s Outreach.

    He was accepted into the Saint Paul Seminary and ordained a priest of the archdiocese on May 31, 1997.

    He served as parish vicar of the Cathedral of Saint Paul from 1997 to 2000 and Faribault Catholic Community (now Divine Mercy) from 2000 to 2002.

    After doctoral studies in Rome, he worked at the Saint Paul Seminary from 2006 to 2013.

    Pope Francis named him as an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese on Oct. 11, 2013. His episcopal ordination took place on Dec. 9 that year at Saint Paul’s Cathedral.

    His appointment came shortly after a whistleblower accused Archbishop John Nienstedt of Saint Paul and Minneapolis of misconduct and cover-up. Nienstedt ultimately resigned in 2015.

    Cozzens told CNA in 2019 that he felt God had called him to be a bishop so that he could play a part in the healing process.

    He was elected chairman of the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in 2019, succeeding Bishop Robert Barron, founder of the global media ministry Word on Fire.

    In June this year, Cozzens presented a plan for a “Eucharistic revival” to his fellow bishops.

    He told CNA that the initiative aimed to launch a “three-year period of revival” nationwide, with special attention to the local level, bringing the focus of Eucharistic revival to “any parish that desires it.”

    The Diocese of Crookston covers 17,210 square miles in the State of Minnesota, serving 34,875 Catholics out of a total population of 227,689 people.

    Bishop Richard Edmund Pates has led the diocese as apostolic administrator since Hoeppner’s resignation.

    Hoeppner was accused of pressuring an alleged victim to drop his allegation of abuse against a priest, failing to follow mandatory reporting laws, and neglecting to follow protocols designed to monitor priests accused of misconduct.

    A report on the Vos estis investigation of Hoeppner was sent to Rome in October 2019, and in February 2020, Crookston diocese announced that the Vatican had ordered an additional investigation into the bishop.

    Both investigations were conducted by Archbishop Bernard Hebda of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

    “I apologize to you, as I have apologized to our Holy Father, for my failures in governing as bishop,” Hoeppner wrote in an April 13 letter to the faithful of the Diocese of Crookston.

    In an Oct. 18 statement, Pates said: “The Diocese of Crookston extends a heartfelt welcome to our new shepherd, Bishop Andrew Cozzens.”

    “He brings an engaging pastoral spirit, extensive experience, positive energy and will soon have the smell of the sheep of Northwest Minnesota on his person. May his days among us be especially blessed.”

    The installation Mass will take place on Dec. 6.

  4. Did you know Mother Teresa experienced visions of Jesus?

    Mother Teresa. / India 7 Network via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

    Vatican City, Oct 17, 2021 / 09:42 am (CNA).

    Even her friend of more than 30 years, Father Sebastian Vazhakala, did not know Mother Teresa had conversations with and visions of Jesus before forming the Missionaries of Charity.

    It wasn't until after her death, for the vast majority of people, that this part of Mother Teresa's spiritual life was uncovered. “It was a big discovery,” Missionary of Charity priest, Fr. Vazhakala told CNA.  

    When Mother Teresa's cause for canonization was opened, just two years after her death in 1997, documents were found in the archives of the Jesuits in Calcutta, with the spiritual director and another of Mother Teresa's close priest friends, and in the office of the bishop, containing her accounts of the communications.

    Fr. Vazhakala, who co-founded the contemplative branch of the Missionaries of Charity alongside Mother Teresa, said he has a document handwritten by Mother Teresa where she discusses what Jesus spoke to her directly during the time of the locutions and visions.

    During a period lasting from Sept. 10, 1946 to Dec. 3, 1947, Mother Teresa had ongoing communication with Jesus through words and visions, Fr. Vazhakala said. This all happened while she was a missionary sister in the Irish order of the Sisters of Loreto, teaching at St. Mary's school in Calcutta.

    Mother Teresa wrote that one day at Holy Communion, she heard Jesus say, “I want Indian nuns, victims of my love, who would be Mary and Martha, who would be so united to me as to radiate my love on souls.”

    It was through these communications of the Eucharistic Jesus that Mother Teresa received her directions for forming her congregation of the Missionaries of Charity.

    “She was so united with Jesus,” Fr. Vazhakala explained, “that she was able to radiate not her love, but Jesus’ love through her, and with a human expression.”

    Jesus told her what sort of nuns he wanted her order to be filled with: “'I want free nuns covered with the poverty of the Cross. I want obedient nuns covered with the obedience of the Cross. I want full-of-love nuns covered with the charity of the Cross,'” Fr. Vazhakala related.

    According to the Missionary, Jesus asked her, “Would you refuse to do this for me?” “In fact, Jesus told her in 1947,” Fr. Vazhakala explained, “'I cannot go alone to the poor people, you carry me with you into them.'”

    After this period of joy and consolation, around 1949, Mother Teresa started to experience a “terrible darkness and dryness” in her spiritual life, said Fr. Vazhakala. “And in the beginning she thought it was because of her own sinfulness, unworthiness, her own weakness.”

    Mother Teresa's spiritual director at the time helped her to understand that this spiritual dryness was just another way that Jesus wanted her to share in the poverty of the poor of Calcutta.

    This period lasted nearly 50 years, until her death, and she found it very painful. But, Fr. Vazhakala shared that she said, “If my darkness and dryness can be a light to some soul let me be the first one to do that. If my life, if my suffering, is going to help souls to be saved, then I will prefer from the creation of the world to the end of time to suffer and die.”

    People around the world know about Mother Teresa's visible acts of charity toward the poor and sick in the slums of Calcutta, but “the interior life of Mother is not known to people,” said Fr. Vazhakala.

    Mother Teresa's motto, and the motto of her congregation, was the words of Jesus, “I thirst.” And that they could quench the thirst of Jesus by bringing souls to him. “And in every breathing, each sigh, each act of mind, shall be an act of love divine. That was her daily prayer. That was what was motivating her and all the sacrifices, even until that age of 87, and without resting,” he said.

    Mother Teresa never rested from her work during her life on earth, and she continues to “work” for souls from heaven. “When I die and go home to God, I can bring more souls to God,” she said at one point, Fr. Vazhakala noted.

    She said, “I'm not going to sleep in heaven, but I'm going to work harder in another form.”

    Mary Shovlain contributed to this report.

    This article was originally published on CNA Aug. 27, 2016.

  5. Pope Francis: To seek status over service is a spiritual illness

    Pope Francis speaks during the Angelus prayer. / Vatican Media

    Vatican City, Oct 17, 2021 / 06:03 am (CNA).

    Do good from a spirit of service, not from a desire for personal glory, Pope Francis said on Sunday.

    In his message before the Angelus prayer Oct. 17, Pope Francis said there is a worldly mentality which tempts even Catholics “to experience everything, including relationships, in order to feed our ambition, to climb the ladder to success, to reach important positions.”

    “The quest for personal prestige can become a spiritual malady, masquerading even behind good intentions: for example, when behind the good we do and preach, we actually seek ourselves alone and our own affirmation,” he said from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

    This is also something that happens in the Catholic Church, he said: “How many times, we Christians – who should be servants – try to climb up, to get ahead.”

    This is why we need to constantly evaluate our heart’s real intentions, he said, and to ask ourselves: “Why am I carrying out this work, this responsibility? To offer service or rather to be recognized, praised and to receive compliments?”

    Pope Francis spoke about the desire for recognition during a reflection on the day's Gospel reading from St. Mark, in which two disciples, James and John, ask Jesus if they can one day sit at his right and left in glory.

    “Jesus patiently offers them a great teaching: true glory is not obtained by rising over others, but by experiencing the same baptism that He would receive just a little later in Jerusalem, that is, the cross,” Francis stated.

    With these words, “Jesus contrasts this worldly logic with his own,” the pope added: “instead of exalting yourself over others, get off your pedestal to serve them; instead of rising above others, be immersed in others’ lives.”

    He explained that it is through our Christian baptism that we are immersed in Jesus and receive the grace that directs us to follow Christ in service to others.

    “The word ‘baptism’ means ‘immersion:’ through his Passion, Jesus immersed himself into death, offering his life to save us. Therefore, his glory, the glory of God, is love that becomes service, not power that seeks to dominate,” he said.

    Pope Francis emphasized that “God is love and love is humble, it does not exalt itself, but descends like the rain that falls to the earth and brings life.”

    “It is a grace, a fire that the Spirit has kindled in us that needs to be nurtured,” he added. “Today, let us ask the Holy Spirit to renew the grace of Baptism in us, the immersion in Jesus, in his way of being, more in service, servants.”

    “And let us pray to the Madonna: she – even though she was the greatest – did not seek to rise up, but was the humble servant of the Lord, and is completely immersed in our service to help us encounter Jesus,” he concluded.

    After praying the Angelus in Latin, Pope Francis voiced his support for an initiative from the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN): “One million children praying the rosary.”

    The worldwide rosary campaign is held annually on Oct. 18, the feast of St. Luke.

    More than 100,000 children from 44 countries, including the United States, Spain, Kenya, India, Colombia, and the Philippines, have already registered to take part in the initiative, according to an online map published by ACN.

    “I encourage this prayer campaign that has been entrusted to the intercession of Saint Joseph in a particular way this year,” Pope Francis said. “Thanks to all the boys and girls participating in it.”

    The pope also drew attention to the beatification of Fr. Juan Elías Medina and 126 fellow martyrs, which took place in Córdoba, Spain on Oct. 16.

    Medina and the 126 companions – among them priests, religious, and lay people – were killed in hatred of the faith during the religious persecution of the Spanish Civil War from 1936 to 1939.

    Francis prayed that their fidelity would “grant us all, especially persecuted Christians in various parts of the world, the strength to witness to the Gospel courageously.”

    Pope Francis also said he is near to the families of the victims of recent violent attacks in Norway, Afghanistan, and England.

    One of the victims was Catholic and pro-life British lawmaker Sir David Amess, who died Oct. 15 after suffering multiple stab wounds at a Methodist church in southeast England.

    Amess, 69, was a Member of Parliament since 1983 and a member of the Conservative party. He was holding a meeting with his constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church when the attack took place.

    A 25-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the killing, and is being held for questioning under the Terrorism Act after early investigations uncovered a potential link to Islamic extremism, the BBC reported Oct. 17.

    “I beg you to please abandon the path of violence that is always a losing cause and is a defeat for everyone. Let us recall that violence begets violence,” Pope Francis said.