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Council of Cardinals studies suggested amendments to draft of Vatican constitution

Vatican City, Dec 2, 2020 / 05:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals met online Tuesday to continue work on the new apostolic constitution to govern the Roman Curia, according to a Vatican statement.

The seven cardinals and an archbishop secretary are studying “observations, amendments, and proposals received from the dicasteries consulted in recent months” regarding the draft of the new constitution, known as Praedicate evangelium, a brief press release said.

Pope Francis also participated in the Dec. 1 meeting, connecting virtually from the Vatican guesthouse where he lives.

The group of cardinal advisers, referred to as the C9 for its original nine members, was established by Pope Francis in 2013, with the aim of revising the text of the 1988 apostolic constitution Pastor bonus.

At one of the council’s first meetings, it was decided that projected revisions to Pastor bonus would be substantial enough to warrant an entirely new constitution.

The cardinals have been working on drafting and revising the text since 2014, soliciting feedback from bishops’ conferences last year. An updated draft was presented to Pope Francis this summer and suggestions from Vatican departments are being evaluated. But the Vatican has given no projected date for the constitution’s publication.

In October, the pope named a new member of the council, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu of Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The 60-year-old Capuchin has led the archdiocese, which comprises more than six million Catholics, since 2018.

During the council’s latest meeting, Pope Francis spoke briefly, Cardinal Besungu was introduced, and cardinals gave updates on the life of the Church on their continents, especially amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Vatican statement said. 

Bishop Marco Mellino, the council’s secretary, offered a summary of work on the constitution thus far.

In addition to Besungu, the other cardinal members of the council are Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State; Seán O’Malley, archbishop of Boston; Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay; Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa; Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising; and Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Governorate of the Vatican City State.

The council’s next meeting is scheduled for February 2021.

Pope Francis: God is patient and never stops waiting for a sinner’s conversion

Vatican City, Dec 2, 2020 / 04:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis said Wednesday that God does not wait for us to stop sinning to start loving us, but always holds out hope for the conversion of even the most hardened sinner.

“There is no sin that can completely erase the image of Christ present in each one of us,” the pope said at his general audience Dec. 2.

“Sin can disfigure it, but not remove it from God’s mercy. A sinner can remain in error for a long time, but God is patient till the end, hoping that the sinner’s heart will eventually open and change,” he said.

Speaking via livestream from the library of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis said that reading the Bible with prisoners or a rehabilitation group can be a powerful experience.

“To allow these people to hear that they are still blessed, notwithstanding their grave errors, that the heavenly Father continues to desire their good and to hope that they will open themselves in the end to the good. Even if their closest relatives have abandoned them … they are always children to God,” he said.

“At times miracles happen: men and women are reborn. … For God’s grace changes lives: He takes us as we are, but He never leaves us as we are. … God did not wait for us to convert ourselves before beginning to love us, but He loved us a long time before, when we were still in sin.”

Pope Francis said that God’s love is like that of a mother who goes to visit her son in prison, adding “like this, we are more important to God than all the sins we can commit, because He is father, He is mother, He is pure love, He has blessed us forever. And he will never stop blessing us.”

Continuing his cycle of catechesis on prayer, Pope Francis focused his reflections this week on blessing.

A blessing can accompany a person who receives it throughout his or her entire life and disposes the person’s heart to allow God to change it, the pope explained.

“The hope of the world lies entirely in God’s blessing: He continues to desire our good, He is the first, as the poet Péguy said, to continue to hope for our good,” he said, referencing the 19th-century French poet Charles Péguy.

“God’s greatest blessing is Jesus Christ. This is the great gift of God, His Son. It is a blessing for all humanity; it is a blessing that has saved us all. He is the Eternal Word with which the Father blessed us ‘while we were yet sinners’: the Word made flesh and offered for us on the cross,” Pope Francis said.

He then quoted St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before him. In love he destined us for adoption to himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of his will, for the praise of the glory of his grace that he granted us in the beloved.”

The pope said that we too can respond to “the God who blesses” by blessing through prayers of praise, adoration and thanksgiving.

He said: “The Catechism states: ‘The prayer of blessing is man’s response to God’s gifts: because God blesses, the human heart can in return bless the One who is the source of every blessing.’”

“We cannot only bless this God who blesses us, we must bless everything in Him -- all the people -- bless God and bless our brothers and sisters, bless the world,” Pope Francis said. “If we all did this, surely there would be no wars.”

“This world needs blessing and we can give blessing and receive the blessing. The Father loves us. And we have the joy of blessing him and the joy of thanking him, and of learning from him not to curse, but to bless.”

At the end of his general audience, Pope Francis marked the 40th anniversary of the death of four missionary women, including two Maryknoll sisters and one Ursuline nun, who were raped and killed in El Salvador by paramilitaries during the civil war. 

“They brought food and medicine to the displaced and helped the poorest families with evangelical commitment and taking great risks. These women lived their faith with great generosity. They are an example for everyone to become faithful missionary disciples,” he said.

French president presses Muslim leaders to embrace 'republican values'

CNA Staff, Dec 2, 2020 / 03:01 am (CNA).- In the wake of several suspected Islamist attacks in France this year, President Emmanuel Macron has asked the country’s Muslim leaders to sign a "charter of republican values" agreeing to a rejection of Islam as a political movement.

According to the BBC, Macron’s proposed charter is one part of a wider government strategy to curb foreign influence and prevent violence and threats from extremists.

Macron has, since his 2017 election, emphasized support for secular government and has criticized what he calls “Islamist separatism,” encouraging the nation’s Muslims to integrate into French society. As part of legislation that Macron has introduced to tackle extremism, homeschooling would be restricted.

The charter will, among other things, state that Islam is a religion and not a political movement, the BBC reports.

Members of the French Council of the Muslim Faith agreed in November to form a national council of imams, and the CFCM is set to meet with Macron this week to discuss the proposed charter. The CFCM will be charged with accrediting imams.

France is home to Western Europe’s largest Muslim minority, at around 5 million.

The debate over the charter and the “French values” it contains continues following at least three suspected Islamist terrorist attacks during 2020.

In mid-October, a Muslim student beheaded teacher Samuel Paty after Paty showed his class a cartoon depicting Muhammad.

Eyewitnesses said that suspect Abdoullakh Abouyedovich Anzorov shouted “Allahu akbar”— Arabic for “God is great”— as he murdered Paty near the middle school where he taught. The 18-year-old Russian national of Chechen origin was shot dead by police shortly after the murder.

Public schools in France held a minute of silence in tribute to Paty Nov. 2, and some classrooms held discussions on freedom of expression.

The discussions of freedom of expression led to the police investigation of at least 17 minors, one of whom is Catholic, the New York Times reported.

The justice ministry said 14 minors were interrogated in police stations or held in custody. Some of their families were questioned about their religious practices.

One 16-year-old near Marseille was arrested for continuing to listen to music on headphones during the minute of silence.

Another Islamic attacker on Oct. 29 killed three people inside Notre-Dame de Nice. Police shot and arrested the perpetrator, Brahim Aouissaoui. Aouissaoui reportedly arrived in Europe in late September, first at the Italian island Lampedusa before traveling to France.

Other attacks took place in France Oct. 29. In Montfavet, near Avignon, a man waving a handgun made threats and was killed by the police two hours after the Nice attack. Radio station Europe 1 said the man was also shouting “Allahu Akbar.”

Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the CFCM, condemned the terrorist attack and asked French Muslims to cancel their festivities for Mawlid, the Oct. 29 celebration of Muhammad's birthday, “as a sign of mourning and solidarity with the victims and their loved ones.”

Macron introduced sweeping anti-radicalization legislation following the attacks, which is set to be debated in the French cabinet Dec. 9. Restrictions on homeschooling are among the provisions of the bill.

Other provisions of the bill include stricter punishments for those who intimidate public officials on religious grounds; extending national identification numbers— which most students in France already have— to homeschoolers to ensure that students are attending school; and a ban on sharing personal information that allows people who want to harm a person to find them, a practice known in the U.S. as “doxxing.”

The concept of laïcité, or secularism, has been a fixture of French law since 1905. At that time, the Third Republic officially established state secularism, causing a subsequent wave of anti-Catholicism, which included the end of government funding for religious schools, mandatory civil marriage, and the removal of chaplains from the army.

The principles of laïcité have evolved over the years to apply to private citizens as well as the government, and in recent decades been applied to Muslim women who wear hijabs or other religious garb in public.

During summer 2016, the Council of State, France’s highest administrative court, ruled that the burkini ban in the town of Villeneuve-Loubet “seriously and clearly illegally breached fundamental freedoms,” including freedom of belief. 

On Nov. 30 this year, the French Council of State ruled that a proposed 30-person limit on Masses and other forms of public worship is a “disproportionate” government measure and must be modified by Dec. 2.

The country’s Catholic bishops welcomed the decision Nov. 29, saying in a statement that “reason has been recognized.”

France has suffered over a dozen Islamist terrorist attacks since 2015, including a January attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper, and a series of coordinated attacks in Paris during November 2015 that killed at least 130 people. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks.

Father Jacques Hamel was beheaded by supporters of the Islamic State while offering Mass July 26, 2016. Following Paty’s killing this year, religious leaders gathered at a memorial to Hamel and laid a wreath in Paty’s honor.

In England, multiple Catholic bishops have expressed concern that the government's push for “British values” in schools, meant to counter Islamist extremism, could instead harm sincere religious believers and burden Catholic schools.

Wednesday of the First Week of Advent

Reading 1 IS 25:6-10A

On this mountain the LORD of hosts
will provide for all peoples
A feast of rich food and choice wines,
juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the veil that veils all peoples,
The web that is woven over all nations;
he will destroy death forever.
The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from all faces;
The reproach of his people he will remove
from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken.

On that day it will be said:
“Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!
This is the LORD for whom we looked;
let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”
For the hand of the LORD will rest on this mountain.

Responsorial Psalm PS 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6

R. (6cd) I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage. 
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.
Only goodness and kindness follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.




R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Behold, the Lord comes to save his people;
blessed are those prepared to meet him.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 15:29-37

At that time:
Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee,
went up on the mountain, and sat down there. 
Great crowds came to him,
having with them the lame, the blind, the deformed, the mute,
and many others. 
They placed them at his feet, and he cured them. 
The crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking,
the deformed made whole, 
the lame walking, 
and the blind able to see,
and they glorified the God of Israel.

Jesus summoned his disciples and said,
“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd,
for they have been with me now for three days
and have nothing to eat. 
I do not want to send them away hungry,
for fear they may collapse on the way.” 
The disciples said to him,
“Where could we ever get enough bread in this deserted place
to satisfy such a crowd?” 
Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” 
“Seven,” they replied, “and a few fish.” 
He ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground. 
Then he took the seven loaves and the fish,
gave thanks, broke the loaves,
and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. 
They all ate and were satisfied. 
They picked up the fragments left over–seven baskets full.

- - -

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Next Buffalo bishop promises 'truth' and 'transparency'

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Dec 1, 2020 / 03:30 pm (CNA).- The newly-announced next Bishop of Buffalo has promised to be a pastor who will promote transparency in the scandal-ridden New York diocese.

“In all things, I pledge to be truthful and transparent in the decisions that we will need to make,” said Bishop Michael Fisher, currently auxiliary bishop of Washington, D.C. Fisher was announced as Pope Francis’ choice to lead the Diocese of Buffalo on December 1. 

Speaking at a Tuesday press conference, he promised “collaboration and consultation” with local Catholics.  

“I come to you as your new bishop. I am first and foremost your brother in faith,” he said. “I hope you will call me Bishop Mike.”

Fisher will be installed as Buffalo’s bishop on Jan. 15, 2021. The oldest of five children, he was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington in 1990 and has served on the archdiocese’s administrative board, clergy personnel board, priest council, and priest retirement board.

He will take over a diocese rocked by recent revelations of clergy sex abuse, allegations of a cover-up and mishandling of abuse by former Bishop Richard Malone and Edward Grosz, a lawsuit by New York state, and ongoing bankruptcy proceedings.

Last week, the office of New York’s Attorney General published a 216-page report documenting the years-long failure by the diocese to abide by the standards of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in handling cases of alleged clergy sex abuse of minors.

In December, 2019, Bishop Malone announced that the pope had accepted resignation. That announcement followed an apostolic visitation ordered the Vatican to investigate his handling of clergy sex abuse. Malone’s former secretary had leaked audio of the bishop appearing to acknowledge the credibility of claims of sexual harassment and violation of the seal of Confession made against a diocesan priest months before that priest was removed from active ministry.

Malone’s former executive assistant also leaked diocesan records in 2018 that appeared to show the diocese working with its lawyers to conceal the names of some diocesan priests with credible claims of sex abuse from the public.

Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany was appointed as interim leader of the diocese after Malone’s resignation. In January, he told members of the media that he was “not given” the results of the 2019 Vatican-ordered investigation into the diocese. He also said that he “was not sent with a particular mission.”

On Tuesday, when asked by WKBW if he would seek Vatican permission to publish the conclusions of the 2019 investigation into the diocese, Fisher said he had not seen the report yet.

“That is something that I will need to look at. Again, I’ve just been named today, and have not been given the details of those things yet,” he said.

“But I will be certainly delving into those issues, and hopefully with proper collaboration and consultation, can be able hopefully to make those kinds of decisions later.

Fisher also said that the Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Christophe Pierre, did not bring up the problems of the diocese when asking him if he would accept Pope Francis’ appointment to Buffalo.

“In terms of going into any of the problems,” Fisher recalled, “he [Pierre] didn’t get into that.”

When asked about the Attorney General’s lawsuit against the diocese, filed last week, Fisher said that it was “very serious” and that a “zero tolerance policy for any abuse of children, for the sexual harassment of adults, needs to be taken seriously and followed.”

He was also asked about concerns that diocesan staff who allegedly helped cover up clergy sex abuse might still hold their positions. Fisher responded that he would have to “meet people” first.

Fisher said that his first priority as bishop “will be to get to know the parishes and its people.”

His other priorities, he said, will be to “get to know the priests and pastors,” and to “continue the healing, and work of renewing the faith in ministries of the diocese that Bishop Scharfenberger and so many other devoted parish leaders have begun.”

“I am well aware of the challenges we face,” he said, noting the current coronavirus pandemic, the diocese’s ongoing bankruptcy process, and the revelations of clergy sex abuse in recent years.

'Mary on the Mantel'? Think 'Elf on the Shelf', but Catholic 

Denver Newsroom, Dec 1, 2020 / 02:55 pm (CNA).- For the past 16 years, Elf on the Shelf has become a tradition, both hated and loved, for families in the days leading up to Christmas.

Based on a book and accompanying doll, the elf is a scout for Santa Claus, who watches children’s behavior during the day and reports back to the North Pole every night. There are rules about how to interact with the elf and a myriad of ideas for the things he can do.

Whether Elf on the Shelf is a “footless creep” or a beloved tradition, the concept sparked the idea for Mary on the Mantel, a traveling doll that aims help children enter more deeply into Advent.

Erica Tighe Campbell, founder of the Catholic lifestyle products company Be A Heart, was pregnant with her first child last year when she came up with the idea of creating a Mary doll.

“I was doing my baby registry, and..I saw a closet for a doll, and I thought, ‘What doll needs outfits?’” Campbell told CNA.

“Then I started thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, wait, Mary has so many outfits in all of her different apparitions. What if there was a really beautiful Mary doll that looked like other things that are selling?’”

The outfits could help teach children about Mary and her messages in the different apparitions she has made, Campbell added.

“On feast days, you could talk about the different apparitions with your children by getting out her Guadalupe dress or getting out her Fatima dress, and recognizing that she is the same person, but she appears to us differently,” Campbell said.

Campbell said she wanted the doll to help foster a deeper relationship with Mary for children.

“I wanted my daughter to have a doll to teach her about the comfort that Mary brings,” she said.

“In my own life, Mary’s motherly love and care is what has brought me through so many difficult times. As a child, going through things with my family in high school, I would always turn to the Hail Mary, that was my go-to,” she said. “And as I've grown as a woman, I really look to her yes...saying yes to God, even when things are uncertain.”

Campbell made her first Mary doll this year, with a simple blue veil and linen dress, available in three different skin tones.

The idea to use the Mary dolls for “Mary on the Mantel” first came from her web developer, who is the father of four children. He suggested that Mary somehow replaced Elf on the Shelf.

Campbell started thinking of ways to tweak the idea of the traveling elf to better suit Advent, and about the ways Christians can prepare their hearts for the coming of Jesus at Christmas.

“Elf on the Shelf reports back to Santa if girls and boys are good or bad, and really in my own spiritual life, I have had to kind of undo that theology of ‘I'm good when I do this and I'm bad when I do this, and God is watching,’” Campbell said.

God is not like Santa, she said, in that he’s not a “transactional God, where as long as I'm doing good, then I will reap the rewards of a gift under the Christmas tree. In my own parenting, I didn’t want to pass that message along to my children.”

“And so I started conceptualizing: what could Mary do instead of being this watchful tattletale? That's going to create a friendship with her? How do we teach children to be friends with Mary?”

“I started thinking about what Mary was doing, even before they got the census announcement? She was probably preparing her house, preparing all of these things. She went on a trip to see Elizabeth. There are so many ways that we can recognize the personhood of Mary, and talk about that with our children - that she was a girl, she had normal daily tasks that she needed to do.”

In late November, Campbell posted to social media, announcing the idea for Mary on the Mantel - a Mary doll that would show up in different places around the house every morning of Advent.

Instead of Elf on the Shelf’s brand of mischief, Mary would be caught doing things to prepare for the coming of baby Jesus, like washing baby clothes, or reading a pregnancy book, or planning her journey to Bethlehem for the census.

“I have this image of Mary taking our hands and leading us to her Son, a little bit like how I imagine for my own self, having the baby and wanting people to meet her,” Campbell said.

“We get to prepare ourselves for Christmas, and putting up our Advent wreath and our Christmas tree and cleaning the house and wrapping presents - that is similar to our preparation. We prepare homes just as a mother prepares her home to welcome her new baby.”

Instead of reporting on the children’s bad behavior, every morning Mary would be found with a message encouraging children to do a specific act of kindness each day. The notes can be left in Mary’s tote bag, which comes with each ‘Be A Heart Mary’ doll.

“How do we really become like the people who are prepared to meet the baby Jesus in the manger? We can do acts of kindness for others,” Campbell said. Because the parents can write whatever message they want and place it in Mary’s bag, they can choose acts of kindness that are tailored to their child’s development and what they are capable of accomplishing.

“There are simple things to do. You could read a book to your sibling, or you could do a chore without being asked, or you could write letters to your grandparents, or call a friend, little things like that,” she said.

“Children could go through their toys and find toys that they don't play with that are still good, that could be donated to another child who needs them. But the parents are in control, so it doesn't get overwhelming.” Mary’s linen dress has room for paper towel or tissue stuffing to make her belly “grow,” Campbell added, as Christmas nears and she prepares to give birth.

And for parents struggling to come up with new ideas, Campbell’s blog post on the idea includes long lists of ideas of activities that the Mary doll can do, and ideas for age-appropriate acts of kindness.

The Mary on the Mantel project can be done with any Mary doll or figurine, Campbell added. After her Mary on the Mantel post, the Be A Heart dolls sold out, though Campbell is hoping to have more in stock soon.

Campbell is also planning the first dress for Mary, which will be the Our Lady of Guadalupe dress. And she has plans for a St. Joseph doll, a baby Jesus doll, a donkey for them to ride on, and more.

The Mary on the Mantel tradition also differs from Elf on the Shelf in that parents do not have to put Mary away once Christmas arrives, Campbell said. In fact, the Mary doll is meant to be a companion all year long.

“We really just think that journeying with Mary is an important way for children to enter into the Advent season,” Campbell said.

“It allows for something fun, and something that parents can do that's not super complicated, hopefully, and that kids can wake up and be excited for, and be excited about doing things for other people every day,” she said. “I'm interested to see what comes of it as people use their own imaginations with it.”


Pope Francis: Inculturated Mass shows us the gifts of the Holy Spirit

Vatican City, Dec 1, 2020 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis said Tuesday that inculturated liturgy can teach Catholics to better appreciate the diverse gifts of the Holy Spirit.

In a preface to a new book, Pope Francis said “this process of liturgical inculturation in Congo is an invitation to value the various gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are a treasure for all humanity.”

A year ago, Pope Francis offered Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for Congolese immigrants, marking the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the Congolese Catholic Chaplaincy of Rome.

The inculturated Mass included traditional Congolese music and the Zaire Use of the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

The Zaire Use is an inculturated Mass formally approved in 1988 for the dioceses of what was then known as the Republic of Zaire, now called the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in central Africa. 

The only inculturated Eucharistic celebration approved after the Second Vatican Council, it was developed following a call for adaptation of the liturgy in “Sacrosanctum concilium,” Vatican II’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy.

“One of the main contributions of the Second Vatican Council was precisely that of proposing norms for adapting to the disposition and traditions of various peoples,” the pope said in a video message published Dec. 1.

“The experience of the Congolese rite of the celebration of Mass can serve as an example and model for other cultures,” the pope said.

He urged the bishops of Congo, as St. Pope John Paul II did during the bishops’ visit to Rome in 1988, to complete the rite by also adapting the other sacraments and sacramentals. 

The pope sent the video message in advance of the Vatican’s publication of the Italian-language book “Pope Francis and the ‘Roman Missal for the Dioceses of Zaire.’”

Francis said that the subtitle, “A Promising Rite for Other Cultures,” “indicates the fundamental reason behind this publication: a book that is the testimony of a celebration lived with faith and joy.”

He recalled a line from his post-synodal apostolic exhortationQuerida Amazonia,” published in February, in which he said that “we can take up into the liturgy many elements proper to the experience of indigenous peoples in their contact with nature, and respect native forms of expression in song, dance, rituals, gestures and symbols.”

“The Second Vatican Council called for this effort to inculturate the liturgy among indigenous peoples; over 50 years have passed and we still have far to go along these lines,” he continued, quoting the exhortation.

The new book, which includes a preface by Pope Francis, has contributions from professors at the Pontifical Urbaniana University, a PhD student at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and a journalist from the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

“The spiritual and ecclesial significance and the pastoral purpose of the Eucharistic celebration in the Congolese Rite were the basis of the drafting of the volume,” the pope explained.

“The principles of the need for scientific study, adaptation and active participation in the Liturgy, strongly desired by the Council, have guided the authors of this volume.”

“This publication, dear brothers and sisters, reminds us that the true protagonist of the Congolese Rite is the People of God who sing and praise God, the God of Jesus Christ who saved us,” he concluded.

Catholic diocese prays for the dead and injured after car plows into pedestrians in Trier

CNA Staff, Dec 1, 2020 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- A Catholic diocese said Tuesday that it was praying for the dead and injured after a car plowed into pedestrians in the city of Trier in southwest Germany. 

CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, reported that the Diocese of Trier wrote on its Twitter account Dec. 1: “We pray for the victims and all those affected.”

Local police announced shortly after 2 p.m. that a car had hit and injured several people in a pedestrian zone in downtown Trier. In a later update, they said that they had arrested a 51-year-old man from the local area and secured a vehicle.

Roger Lewentz, interior minister of the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, confirmed that four people were killed and 15 injured. Media reported that one of the dead was a baby.

The public broadcaster SWR quoted Wolfram Leibe, the mayor of Trier, as saying that he had walked through the city center after the incident “and it was just horrible.” 

"There is a sneaker lying on the ground, and the girl it belongs to is dead," he said.

A Christmas market usually held in the city was canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but shops were open.

In a statement Dec. 1, Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier said: “I am deeply shocked by the rampage that happened almost on our doorstep.” 

“We still know little about the circumstances or the background, but the incident is affecting people far beyond the city of Trier.” 

He said that Trier Cathedral -- the oldest church in Germany -- was open for prayer and that emergency pastors were on duty to help visitors. He added that an ecumenical prayer service would take place at the cathedral at 8 p.m. 

Pro-life candidate elected to Congress by six votes

CNA Staff, Dec 1, 2020 / 10:00 am (CNA).- In one of the last results in the 2020 election to be called, another pro-life female candidate won election to the House of Representatives in Iowa’s 2nd district race certified on Monday.

Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks eked out victory over Democratic candidate Rita Hart by the narrowest of margins in the state’s southeast district, winning by only six votes as the election results were certified on Monday: 196,964 to 196,958.

Miller-Meeks’ victory marked took the Republicans’ net gains in the House to ten seats, narrowing the Democratic majority and raising hopes of stalling a slate of pro-abortion legislative priorities. She is the 18th new woman backed by the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List (SBA Lits) to be elected to the House this cycle.

“The exponential growth of pro-life women in the House is reflective of the fact that life has gone from being viewed as a political problem to a winning issue,” said SBA List president Marjorie Dannenfelser on Monday.

With 11 pro-life women incumbents returning, Dannenfelser noted that 29 women identifying as pro-life will serve in the House come January, and will be “a brick wall against the radical pro-abortion agenda” that includes repealing the Hyde Amendment.

In an election where Democrats won the White House and gained at least one seat in the Senate, the party lost ground in the House while still maintaining control of the chamber. While Speaker Nancy Pelosi had suggested House Democrats could see double-digit gains in the elections, the reverse has proven to be the case.

SBA List-endorsed women were responsible for ten of eleven seats lost by Democrats. Another race in upstate New York’s 22nd district has yet to be called; as of Tuesday morning, Republican candidate Claudia Tenney held only a 12-vote lead over Democratic incumbent Rep. Anthony Brindisi, with votes yet to be certified, according to WBNG.

Speaker Pelosi has said she plans to scrap the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal tax dollars from funding abortions, next year. With a reduced majority in the House, it remains to be seen if she will be able to follow through on that promise. Democrats have also talked about passing the Equality Act, which would recognize sexual orientation and so-called gender identity as protected legal classes, and could expand abortions.

However, Republicans currently hold 50 seats in the Senate with two races going to a January runoff. If they win just one of those seats, they will maintain control of the chamber and could possibly nullify attempts to repeal the Hyde Amendment or pass the Equality Act.

SBA List has already announced a $4.1 million effort to elect the two Republican candidates in Georgia, aiming to reach one million voters through door-knocking, phone calls, digital ads, and voter mail.

Rwanda’s first cardinal sees family as key to planting the seeds of peace

Rome Newsroom, Dec 1, 2020 / 09:00 am (CNA).- Rwanda’s first cardinal lost seven members of his immediate family in the 1994 genocide. Now he is using his role as archbishop of Kigali to plant “seeds of peace” by promoting the family as the foundation for building a peaceful future.

Cardinal Antoine Kambanda made history when he received his red biretta from Pope Francis in the consistory on Nov. 28 as the first cardinal from the east-central African country.

“It was a great joy and I was thanking the Lord for this great grace for the Church in Rwanda and the country and Africa,” Cardinal Kambanda told EWTN News Nov. 30.

Immediately following the consistory, the 11 new cardinals present in Rome greeted Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in Vatican City.

“He still has a very good memory,” Kambanda said. “When I was presented as the archbishop of Rwanda, he remembered Rwanda and he told me: ‘Your people suffered so much.’ It showed that he had a good memory of Rwanda and what took place in Rwanda, and he prays for us.”

Rwanda experienced a 100-day genocide in 1994 in which more than 800,000 people were killed as members of the Hutu ethnic majority took up machetes and turned on their minority Tutsi neighbors, friends, and colleagues.

Kambanda lost his parents and five of his siblings in the genocide. The only other surviving member of his family is a brother who currently lives in Italy.

Kambanda was 35 years old and studying moral theology in Rome at the time of the genocide. He returned to Rwanda in 1999 after receiving his doctorate to direct the local Caritas in helping to rebuild the country torn apart by violence.

“The Church in Rwanda has taken an important role, has had an important role in the process of reconciliation,” Kambanda said.

For the past 20 years, Kambanda was directly involved in this process of reconciliation and rebuilding in Rwanda, first as the director of the Diocesan Commission for Justice and Peace in Kigali from 1999 to 2005 and later as bishop of the dioceses of Kibungo and Kigali. 

He told EWTN that in the process of rebuilding, strengthening the family was especially important.

“The family is something that we are working upon because the family is the domestic church and the family is the foundation of the society to prepare the lasting peace in the future,” he said.

“When we take care of the young ones, the children are brought up in love and peace and kindness. It is a seed of peace that we plant in their hearts and a foundation for the peaceful relationships and peaceful country in the future.”

The formation of the next generation is critical, he explained. “The youth have got the strength, they have the talents, and they need formation in skills in order to have their talents developed. … The youth are vulnerable, but when they are well trained, well taken care of, they become a solution instead of being a problem in the society.”

Kambanda, 62, has served as archbishop of Rwanda’s capital, Kigali, since 2019. Prior to this appointment, he was bishop of Kibungo from May 2013. His episcopal motto is “Ut vitam habeant’’ (That They May Have Life).

Born in Kigali in 1958, Kambanda attended primary schools in Burundi and Uganda before completing secondary school in Kenya. 

He returned to Rwanda for seminary and was ordained a priest by St. John Paul II in 1990 during the pope’s pastoral visit to Rwanda.

After receiving his doctorate in moral theology from the Alphonsian Academy in Rome, he taught moral theology and was a spiritual director at seminaries in Rwanda. He also served as rector of the major seminary of philosophy in Kabgayi and the Saint Charles Borromeo Major Seminary in Nyakibanda.

“I never ever dreamt of being a cardinal. It was the Lord who wanted it. I love the Lord, and I consecrated my life to work for Him. Being a cardinal gives me the opportunity to do even much more for the Lord,” Kambanda said in an interview with Vatican News the day after Pope Francis announced that he had chosen 13 new cardinals.

“I thank the Lord for his grace which is at work in his Church all the time –a Church which today faces several challenges. Therefore, we must work hard to share and make the message of salvation better understood. It is both joy, a great burden, and a challenge,” Cardinal Kambanda said.

In a 2014 interview with Patheos, Kambanda recalled the genocide.

He said “1994 was a terrible agony for all Rwandans. Those in the country lived it physically, psychologically and spiritually. For us outside the country we lived it psychologically and spiritually. It was quite painful to live it from far in Europe where I was surrounded by a rather an indifferent society that continued its normal life. I have to adapt to it in order to be able to go ahead with it in spite of my deep sorrow and suffering.”

“But I must say that it was faith and prayer that sustained me in that difficult period ... I developed an intensive and deep prayer. Hours of meditation of the word of God and prayer brought me to deeper communion with God and through Him also communion with the dear ones who passed away. This gave me life courage and strength to finish my studies and accomplish my mission in Rome despite the difficult situation.”