Browsing News Entries

St. Pius V, safeguard of the faith

Palma il Giovane (1550-1628), “Portrait of Pope Pius V.” / Credit: Public Domain

National Catholic Register, Apr 30, 2024 / 04:00 am (CNA).

Michele Ghislieri, later St. Pius V, was born in Bosco, northern Italy, in 1504 and ordained a Dominican priest in 1528. Recognizing his holiness and learning, his community elected him prior four times.

During Pius’ lifetime, the Protestant ideas of Luther and Calvin were dissolving Catholic unity throughout Europe. In 1542, Pope Paul IV reorganized the Roman Inquisition to combat them and named Pius an inquisitor. In 1555, the newly elected Pope Pius IV made Pius bishop and later cardinal of Nepi and Sutri, a diocese near Rome, and general inquisitor of all Christendom (with authority over all other inquisitors).

Throughout his life, Pius devoted much time to prayer and practiced severe personal penances. He disliked public life and involvement in the governance of the Church, preferring the peace of the cloister, but relented when he saw that it was God’s will for his life. As a sign of his humility, as a cardinal and pope, Pius continued to wear the simple, white habit of the Dominican order, which began the tradition of popes wearing white. 

He became Pope Pius V in 1566 through the influence of St. Charles Borromeo, cardinal of Milan, whose uncle was Pius IV. As pope, he was stern and rigorous in the enforcement of laws and morality. For the next six years of his pontificate, he undertook dramatic reforms, which remained dominant in the Church through Vatican II.

From the outset, Pius V was determined to rid the Church of the abuses and corruption and implement the decrees of the Council of Trent. He urged his cardinals to shun luxury and ambition and to lead exemplary Christian lives. He ordered bishops living in Rome to return to their dioceses and to fast and pray to end the heresies unleashed by the Protestant revolt.

When Emperor Maximilian joined with some cardinals in asking Pius V to end the requirement of celibacy for priests (the era had its own vocations crisis), he steadfastly refused. He also insisted that clergy wear clerical dress and religious habits as outward signs of their vocation.

During Pius V’s reign, the Catechism of the Council of Trent was completed, a new breviary was published, and sacred music was reformed. (Palestrina became choirmaster of the papal chapel.) Pius declared his fellow Dominican, St. Thomas Aquinas, a doctor of the Church and made St. Thomas’ Summa Theologica mandatory study at seminaries.

Despite frequent shortages in the papal treasury, Pius refused to take financial gifts for special dispensations (which had been commonplace with some predecessors). Once, when a bishop proposed a scheme to improve the Church’s finances, Pius refused, remarking: “Christianity can get along well enough with prayer and exemplary lives, and has no need of treasure.”

As a temporal ruler, Pius battled the crime and loose morals prevalent in Rome. He was often severe, frequently resorting to the use of corporal and capital punishment. For example, when a handful of unruly citizens knocked down a statue of Pope Paul IV (two popes before Pius V), and rolled it into the Tiber River, a horrified Pius ordered their execution.

Pius was greatly aided in renewing the spiritual life of Rome’s citizenry through the work of St. Philip Neri and other holy priests and religious.

While he had critics, Pius had many defenders as well. For example, the Spanish ambassador to Rome declared: “Rarely indeed in a pope has the monarch so given place to the priest. One thing only he has at heart, the salvation of souls. This is what determines his entire policy; on this he bases every service and reckons the value of every institution and act.”

Cardinal John Henry Newman would later write: “I do not deny that St. Pius V was stern and severe, as far as a heart burning and melted with divine love could be so … yet such energy and vigor as his were necessary for the times. He was a soldier of Christ in a time of insurrection and rebellion, when, in a spiritual sense, martial law was proclaimed.”

Pius V’s greatest challenge, however, came at the end of his pontificate. For centuries, Muslim Turks had threatened to conquer Christian Europe. In Pius’ time, the Turkish dominated the Mediterranean, plundering Christian towns and villages and slaughtering their inhabitants. Mahomet II boasted to the world he would soon top St. Peter’s dome with the Crescent Moon and wind the pope’s head in a turban.

Pius persuaded the European powers to lay aside their rivalries and join in a holy alliance against the Turks. As he prayed and fasted, the badly outnumbered Christian forces engaged the Turks at Lepanto. In one of the most remarkable naval victories in world history, the Turks were routed and Christendom saved.

The day of the victory — Oct. 7, 1571 — the pope was meeting in Rome with his advisers when he suddenly stopped, gazed out a window to the East, and wept for joy as he declared: “The Christian fleet is victorious!” Two weeks later, official word came to Rome that Pius was right. Muslim armies would never again threaten Europe.

Pius attributed the victory to the intercession of Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, and declared Oct. 7 a feast day in her honor. He died seven months later and was canonized in 1712.

Pius V is remembered in the liturgy on April 30.

This article was first published by the National Catholic Register, CNA's sister news partner, and is reprinted here on CNA with permission.

Pier Giorgio Frassati could be canonized during 2025 Jubilee, cardinal says

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, who died at the age of 24 in 1925, is beloved by many Catholic young people today for his enthusiastic witness to holiness that reaches “to the heights.” / Credit: Public Domain

Vatican City, Apr 27, 2024 / 11:30 am (CNA).

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati could be declared a saint during the Catholic Church’s 2025 Jubilee Year, according to the head of the Vatican’s office for saints’ causes.

Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, the prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, announced at Catholic Action’s national assembly in Sacrofano, Italy, on April 26 that Frassati’s canonization is “on the horizon.” 

“I would like to tell you that the canonization of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati is now clearly on the horizon and is in sight for the coming Jubilee Year,” the cardinal said, according to Avvenire, the official newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference.

Frassati, who died at the age of 24 in 1925, is beloved by many Catholic young people today for his enthusiastic witness to holiness that reaches “to the heights.”

The young man from the northern Italian city of Turin was an avid mountaineer and third order Dominican known for his charitable outreach.

At the age of 17, he joined the St. Vincent de Paul Society and dedicated much of his spare time to taking care of the poor, the homeless, and the sick, as well as demobilized servicemen returning from World War I.

Frassati was also involved in the Apostleship of Prayer and Catholic Action. He obtained permission to receive daily Communion.

On a photograph of what would be his last climb, Frassati wrote the phrase “Verso L’Alto,” which means “to the heights.” This phrase has become a motto for Catholics inspired by Frassati to strive for the summit of eternal life with Christ.

Frassati died of polio on July 4, 1925. His doctors later speculated that the young man had caught polio while serving the sick.

Pope John Paul II, who beatified Frassati in 1990, called him a “man of the Eight Beatitudes,” describing him as “entirely immersed in the mystery of God and totally dedicated to the constant service of his neighbor.”

To be canonized as a saint in the Catholic Church, a miracle attributed to Frassati’s intercession will need to be officially recognized in a decree signed by the pope. Pope Francis usually signs these types of decrees when he meets with Semeraro.

Pope Francis to Vladimir Putin: A negotiated peace is better than an endless war

Pope Francis prays during his Wednesday general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on April 24, 2024. / Credit: Vatican Media

ACI Prensa Staff, Apr 25, 2024 / 16:10 pm (CNA).

Asked during a new interview if he has any message for Vladimir Putin, the Russian president who instigated the war in Ukraine, Pope Francis stated that “a negotiated peace is better than an endless war.”

CBS News broadcast some excerpts April 24 from a new interview conducted by journalist Norah O’Donnell with Pope Francis at St. Martha House, the pontiff’s residence in the Vatican.

During the exchange, the full version of which will be released on May 19, the Holy Father reflected on world conflicts and especially on the suffering of children during wars.

O’Donnell asked the Holy Father if he had any message for Vladimir Putin regarding Ukraine, to which the pontiff replied: “Please, countries at war, all of them... Stop the war. Seek to negotiate. Seek peace. A negotiated peace is better than an endless war,” he said.

Regarding the children who are suffering the consequences of the war in Gaza, Pope Francis said that “every afternoon at 7 p.m. I call the parish in Gaza. There are about 600 people there, and they tell me what’s happening. It’s very hard. Very, very hard. And food comes in, but they have to struggle to get it. It’s very hard,” he lamented. The pope also assured that he prays a lot for peace to be achieved.

The pontiff also asked people to think about the children of Ukraine, who due to the war “forget how to smile,” which he described as “very serious.”

In the interview, Pope Francis also talked about climate change and said that those who deny it do so “because they don’t understand it or for what benefits them,” and stressed that “climate change exists.”

Regarding those who don’t see a place for themselves in the Catholic Church anymore, the Holy Father responded that in the Church “there is always a place,” noting that “the Church is very big. It’s more than a church building … you shouldn’t flee from it.”

Pope Francis’ controversial ‘white flag’ statements

When referring to the conflict in Ukraine during an interview released in March by the Swiss radio station RSI, Pope Francis said: “I think that the strongest one is the one who looks at the situation, thinks about the people, and has the courage of the white flag, and negotiates.”

The words sparked some controversy, as they were interpreted as a call for Ukraine’s surrender to Russia and had to be clarified by the spokesman for the Holy See’s Press Office, Matteo Bruni.

The Vatican spokesman clarified that the Holy Father supported “a cessation of hostilities and a truce achieved with the courage to negotiate,” rather than Ukraine’s outright surrender.

Bruni also pointed out that it was the journalist interviewing the pontiff who had used the term “white flag” when asking the question.

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

Pope Francis may visit United States in September after UN invitation

Pope Francis speaks to the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, Sept. 25, 2015. / Credit: L’Osservatore Romano

Rome Newsroom, Apr 25, 2024 / 07:22 am (CNA).

Pope Francis is reportedly considering returning to the United States in September to speak before the United Nations General Assembly.

The news was initially reported by the French Catholic newspaper La Croix and has not yet been officially confirmed by the Vatican. A source from the Vatican Secretariat of State, meanwhile, told CNA this week that “a formal invitation has arrived from Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and Pope Francis seems inclined to respond positively.”

If the New York trip occurs, the pope would visit the United Nations during its “Summit of the Future,” which the international body will convene from Sept. 22–23.

The possible trip to the United States could change the pope’s already-busy September travel schedule. The Holy See Press Office has announced that Pope Francis will be in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, and Singapore from Sept. 2–13.

Pope Francis is also expected at the end of September in Belgium, where he is scheduled to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the University of Louvain, which has been divided into two different linguistic entities since the 1960s. The Holy Father told Mexican television network Televisa last December that he intended to travel to Belgium in 2024.

According to a source familiar with the planning of papal trips, Pope Francis’ trip to Louvain could be postponed to 2025. The postponement of the journey would leave room at the end of September for the visit to the United Nations.

During his planned stay in Belgium, Pope Francis will also celebrate Mass at the national shrine of Koelkenberg. There are also rumors that the pontiff will stop in Luxembourg, one of the small nations favored by the pope for trips to Europe. Luxembourg officials have denied the visit, but the Vatican Secretariat of State has indicated the trip is possible.

The September summit’s objective is to strengthen the structures of the United Nations and global “governance” to face more fully the “new and old challenges” of the coming years, the U.N. has said. 

The meeting will lead a “pact for the future” to advance rapidly toward realizing the U.N.’s “sustainable development goals.”

In a meeting with students in April, Pope Francis described the summit as “an important event,” with the Holy Father urging students to help ensure the plan “becomes concrete and is implemented through processes and actions for change.”

Pope Francis, who is 87, has undergone two surgeries in the last four years and is under regular medical screening. A planned trip to Abu Dhabi to participate in the COP28 meeting was canceled last December due to health reasons. 

The pope was last in the United States in 2015, during which he also appeared before the United Nations.

Cisco CEO meets Pope Francis, signs AI ethics pledge at Vatican

Chuck Robbins, the chief executive of the multinational digital communications conglomerate Cisco, signs the Rome Call for AI Ethics, a document by the Pontifical Academy for Life, on April 24, 2024, at the Vatican. / Credit: Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Apr 24, 2024 / 11:06 am (CNA).

The CEO of Cisco Systems signed the Vatican’s artificial intelligence ethics pledge on Wednesday, becoming the latest technology giant to join the Church’s call for ethical and responsible use of AI.

Chuck Robbins, the chief executive of the multinational digital communications conglomerate, met privately with Pope Francis on April 24 before signing the Rome Call for AI Ethics, a document by the Pontifical Academy for Life. 

Pope Francis meets with Chuck Robbins, the chief executive of multinational digital communications conglomerate Cisco, on April 24, 2024, at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis meets with Chuck Robbins, the chief executive of multinational digital communications conglomerate Cisco, on April 24, 2024, at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media

The document, first published by the pontifical academy in February 2020, has previously been signed by Microsoft President Brad Smith and IBM Executive John Kelly III.

The Rome Call underlines the need for “algor-ethics,” which, according to the text, is the ethical use of artificial intelligence according to the principles of transparency, inclusion, accountability, impartiality, reliability, security, and privacy.

The text quotes the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in pointing to the equal dignity and rights of all humans, which AI must protect and guarantee, it says, while calling equally for the “benefit of humanity and the environment.”

It states there are three requirements for “technological advancement to align with true progress for the human race and respect for the planet” — it must be inclusive, have the good of humankind at its core, and care for the planet with a highly sustainable approach.

Robbins said that “the Rome Call principles align with Cisco’s core belief that technology must be built on a foundation of trust at the highest levels in order to power an inclusive future for all.” 

Years before the widely popular release of the GPT-4 chatbot system, developed by the San Francisco start-up OpenAI, the Vatican was already heavily involved in the conversation of artificial intelligence ethics, hosting high-level discussions with scientists and tech executives on the ethics of artificial intelligence in 2016 and 2020.

The pope established the RenAIssance Foundation in April 2021 as a Vatican nonprofit foundation to support anthropological and ethical reflection of new technologies on human life.

Pope Francis also chose artificial intelligence as the theme of his 2024 peace message, which recommended that global leaders adopt an international treaty to regulate the development and use of AI.

Pope Francis: Theological virtues are the ‘fundamental attributes’ of a Christian life

Pope Francis addresses pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican for his Wednesday general audience on April 24, 2024. / Credit: Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Apr 24, 2024 / 09:09 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Wednesday opened a new chapter in his ongoing catechetical series on virtues by pivoting to a reflection on the three theological virtues — faith, hope, and charity — which he noted form the key pillars of Christian life.

The Holy Father bolstered his analysis by looking to the legacy of St. John Paul II.

“Looking at his life, we can see what man can achieve by accepting and developing within himself the gifts of God: faith, hope, and charity,” the pope said to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square. 

Saturday will mark the 10th anniversary of St. John Paul II’s canonization.

Pope Francis greets pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican for his Wednesday general audience on April 24, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis greets pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican for his Wednesday general audience on April 24, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media

“Remain faithful to his legacy. Promote life and do not be deceived by the culture of death. Through his intercession, we ask God for the gift of peace for which he, as pope, has worked so hard.”

The pope framed his predecessor’s legacy within the context of the three theological virtues, which he characterized as the “fundamental attributes” of a Christian life and “the great antidote to self-sufficiency.”

“The Christian is never alone,” the pope said. “He does good not because of a titanic effort of personal commitment but because, as a humble disciple, he walks behind the master, Jesus.” 

Harkening back to his previous reflections on the four cardinal virtues — prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance — Pope Francis noted while they “constitute the ‘hinge’ of a good life,” it is the three theological virtues that lead Christians “toward the fullness of life,” as they are “received and lived out in relationship with God.” 

Pope Francis greets pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican for his Wednesday general audience on April 24, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis greets pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican for his Wednesday general audience on April 24, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media

But the pope stressed that the four cardinal virtues were not “replaced” by Christianity but instead “enhanced, purified, and integrated.”

The pope stressed that living a life predicated upon the theological virtues forms a firewall against the vices, namely pride, which can “spoil a whole life marked by goodness.” 

The pope asked: “A person may have performed a mountain of good deeds, may have reaped accolades and praise, but if he has done all this only for himself, to exalt himself, can he still call himself a virtuous person?” 

But the Holy Father reminded the faithful: “If we open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, he revives the theological virtues in us. If we have lost confidence, God reopens us to faith; if we are discouraged, God awakens hope in us; if our heart is hardened, God softens it with his love.” 

At the end of the audience, Pope Francis renewed his appeal for peace for the “tormented” Ukraine, as well as in Myanmar, and in Israel and Palestine, repeating his regular refrain: “War is always a defeat.” 

Pope Francis to meet with thousands of grandparents and their grandchildren at the Vatican

Pope Francis greets an elderly couple at a general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. / Credit: Vatican Media

ACI Prensa Staff, Apr 22, 2024 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

“A Caress and a Smile” is the name of the event that will take place Saturday, April 27, in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall where elderly people, grandparents, and grandchildren from Italy will meet Pope Francis.

A total of 6,000 grandparents and their grandchildren will arrive this week at the Vatican for a special gathering with the Holy Father, an initiative presented by the Holy See’s Press Office today.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, noted that Italy has the second-highest number of elderly people in the world and that for the first time in history, four generations are living together, which “had never happened before.”

He also lamented that currently “we are afraid to use” the word “old” and that old age “is not only a very beautiful time, but can mean a change of direction, within the culture, society, economy, and also of religion.”

The prelate noted the special affection that Pope Francis has for older people and recalled the catechetical series that he dedicated to them, teaching “how to live the last 30 years” of life in a Christian way.

“This event will be held to give a new vision of old age. Old age is a great age, not to be wasted or a burden. Old age is not disconnected from other ages of life,” Paglia continued.

The prelate also noted the demographic winter that Italy is going through and highlighted the “particular harmony” and special ties that exist between grandparents and their grandchildren, two generations “that cannot live without each other.”

The event, organized by the Italian Old Age Foundation, will begin at 8:30 a.m. Rome time with a reflection on old age.

About 40 minutes later, Pope Francis will arrive at the Paul VI Hall to hear the testimony of two grandparents (among them a 91-year-old woman) and three grandchildren.

Also participating in this morning’s press conference was Lino Banfi, a well-known Italian actor who maintains a friendship with Pope Francis, whom he referred to as “the grandfather of the world.”

In addition, Pope Francis has also established the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, which this year will be celebrated on July 28.

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

Pope Francis: Christ the Good Shepherd ‘looks for us until he finds us’ when we’re lost

Pope Francis waves to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square on April 21, 2024, at the Vatican. / Credit: Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Apr 21, 2024 / 09:36 am (CNA).

Pope Francis reflected on the image of Christ as the Good Shepherd during his Regina Caeli address Sunday, noting that it is a role characterized by his sacrificial love.

“Jesus explains that he is not a hired man who cares nothing for the sheep but a man who knows them,” the pope said on April 21, the fourth Sunday of Easter, which is traditionally known as Good Shepherd Sunday because it is the theme of the day’s Gospel. “It is true, he knows us, he calls us by our name and, when we are lost, he looks for us until he finds us.”

Pope Francis explained that Christ’s role as a shepherd introduced a new logic, observing that he is not acting as a guide or “the head of the flock” but is instead “living in symbiosis” with his people.

“This is what the Lord wants to tell us with the image of the Good Shepherd: not only that he is the guide, the head of the flock, but above all that he thinks of each of us as the love of his life,” the pope said to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

Pilgrims gather in St. Peter’s Square for Pope Francis’ address and Regina Caeli prayer on April 21, 2024, at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media
Pilgrims gather in St. Peter’s Square for Pope Francis’ address and Regina Caeli prayer on April 21, 2024, at the Vatican. Credit: Vatican Media

Pope Francis emphasized the sacrificial component of the role of the shepherd, observing that Jesus “is not just a good shepherd who shares the life of the flock” but “is the Good Shepherd who has sacrificed his life for us and has given us his Spirit through his resurrection.”

The pope asked the faithful to meditate upon this sacrificial dimension of the shepherd so that we bear in mind that “for Christ, I am important, irreplaceable, worth the infinite price of his life.”

“It is not just a way of speaking,” the pope added, “he truly gave his life for me, he died and rose again for me because he loves me and he finds in me a beauty that I often do not see myself.”

The pope also cautioned against the temptation to measure our value based on “trivial things,” such as “the goals we achieve” or “on whether we succeed in the eyes of the world, on the judgments of others.”

“In order to find ourselves, the first thing to do is to place ourselves in his presence, allowing ourselves to be welcomed and lifted up by the loving arms of our Good Shepherd,” the pope said.

The Holy Father also drew attention to Sunday’s celebration of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which he observed as an “opportunity to rediscover the Church as a community characterized by a polyphony of charisms and vocations at the service of the Gospel.”

Following the recitation of the Regina Caeli, the pope renewed his appeal for peace in the Middle East, imploring leaders not to “give in to the logic of vengeance and war” but instead to let “the paths of dialogue and diplomacy prevail, which can do a lot.”

“I pray every day for peace in Palestine and Israel and I hope that those two peoples can soon stop suffering,” he said.

Pope Francis to canonize new female saint known as ‘an apostle of the Holy Spirit’

Blessed Elena Guerra. / Credit: Oblates of the Holy Spirit

Rome Newsroom, Apr 20, 2024 / 08:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Elena Guerra, paving the way for the canonization of a new female saint known as “an apostle of the Holy Spirit.”

A friend of Pope Leo XIII and the teacher of St. Gemma Galgani, Elena Guerra (1835–1914) is known for her spiritual writings and her passionate devotion to the Holy Spirit.

Guerra wrote more than a dozen letters to Pope Leo XIII between 1895 and 1903 in which she urged him to exhort all Catholics to call upon the Holy Spirit in prayer.

The pope heeded Guerra’s request and published three documents on the Holy Spirit during their correspondence, including a letter asking the entire Church to pray a novena to the Holy Spirit leading up to Pentecost in 1895 and his encyclical on the Holy Spirit, Divinum Illud Munus, in 1897.

“Pentecost is not over,” Guerra wrote. “In fact, it is continually going on in every time and in every place, because the Holy Spirit desired to give himself to all men and all who want him can always receive him, so we do not have to envy the apostles and the first believers; we only have to dispose ourselves like them to receive him well, and he will come to us as he did to them.”

Guerra is the foundress of the Oblates of the Holy Spirit, a religious congregation recognized by the Church in 1882.

Pope John XXIII called Guerra “a modern-day apostle of the Holy Spirit” as he beatified her in 1959.

The life of Elena Guerra

Born into a noble family in Lucca, Italy in 1835, Guerra was well-educated and formed in her faith.

For much of her 20s, Guerra was bedridden with a serious illness, a challenge that turned out to be transformational for her as she dedicated herself to meditating on Scripture and the writings of the Church Fathers.

Guerra felt the call to consecrate herself to God during a pilgrimage to Rome with her father after her recovery. She attended the third public session of Vatican I in St. Peter’s Basilica in April 1870 and later met Pope Pius IX on June 23, 1870.

“At the sight of Pope Pius IX she was so moved that, upon returning to Lucca, she vowed to offer her life for the pope,” according to the Vatican Dicastery for the Causes of Saints.

Against the wishes of her family, in her mid-30s Guerra formed a religious community dedicated to education, which eventually became the Oblates of the Holy Spirit.

One of her students, St. Gemma Galgani, wrote in her autobiography about the strong spiritual impact of her education by the Oblate sisters. Guerra personally taught Galgani French and Church history and exempted Galgani from the monthly school fee when her father fell into bankruptcy.

During her correspondence with Pope Leo XIII, Guerra also composed prayers to the Holy Spirit, including a Holy Spirit Chaplet, asking the Lord to “send forth your spirit and renew the world.”

The religious founder faced difficulties in the last years of her life when some of her sisters accused her of bad administration, leading her to resign from her duties as superior.

Guerra died on Holy Saturday on April 11, 1914. Her tomb is located in Lucca in the Church of Sant’Agostino. The Oblate sisters whom Guerra founded continue her mission today in Italy, Cameroon, Canada, Philippines, and Rwanda.

The miracle

Pope Francis recognized a miracle attributed to Guerra’s intercession that involved the healing of a man named Paulo in Uberlândia, Brazil, in 2010 after he fell from a tree and ended up in a coma with a serious brain injury. After undergoing a craniotomy and decompression surgery, the man’s situation worsened, and 10 days after his fall the protocol was opened to declare brain death, according to the Vatican.

While he was in a coma, members of the Charismatic Renewal organized prayer for Paulo’s recovery, asking everyone to pray for his healing through the intercession of Blessed Elena Guerra. On the 10th day after they began praying to Blessed Elena, doctors found an unexpected improvement in his condition, and within less than a month he was discharged from the hospital in good condition.

The pope officially approved the miracle during an audience with Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, the prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, on April 13.

During the audience, the pope also approved the martyrdom of Servants of God Cayetano Clausellas Ballvé, a diocesan priest, and Antonio Tort Reixachs, a layman and father, both killed during the Spanish Civil War in 1936.

The pope also recognized the heroic virtues of Sister Teresa Lanfranco, an Italian religious from the Congregation of the Daughters of Santa Maria di Leuca, who died in Rome in 1989.

The Vatican will announce the canonization date of Blessed Elena Guerra at a later time.

Pope Francis names Filipino priest an auxiliary bishop of Sacramento

Pope Francis on April 20, 2024, named Father Reynaldo Bersabal as an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Sacramento, California.  / Credit: Steve German/Diocese of Sacramento

Rome Newsroom, Apr 20, 2024 / 07:40 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has named Father Reynaldo Bersabal as an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Sacramento, California. 

The Vatican announced on Saturday that the priest ordained in the Philippines and incardinated into the Sacramento Diocese in 2004 will be consecrated as a bishop.

“I am grateful to His Holiness and honored to have my brother, Bishop-elect Rey Bersabal, as a co-worker for the Episcopal ministry in this favored part of the Lord’s vineyard,” Bishop Jaime Soto of the Diocese of Sacramento said in a Saturday statement on the diocese’s website.

“Bishop-elect Rey came as an immigrant priest bringing the rich cultural heritage of the Filipino people,” Soto continued. “He became part of a presbyterate and people that is a global Catholic kaleidoscope of faith and charity radiating the historic credal customs from Portugal, Italy, Ireland, China, Poland, Africa, and more. Bishop-elect Rey has learned a lot and given much during his 25 years as a priest in Sacramento.”

Bersabal was born in Magsaysay in the province of Misamis Oriental in the Philippines on Oct. 15, 1964.

He was ordained a priest April 29, 1991, for the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro in the Philippines was incardinated in the Diocese of Sacramento 13 years later.

In Sacramento, he served as the parish vicar of St. James Church in Davis and St. Anthony Church in Sacramento before being named the parish priest of St. Paul Church in 2003.

Bersabal was also the parish priest of St. John the Baptist in Folsom from 2008 to 2016 and St. James in Davis from 2016 to 2022.

The 59-year-old priest has served the parish of St. Francis of Assisi in Sacramento since 2022.

“The years of pastoral experience working in the parishes of the geographical and demographically large Diocese of Sacramento will be one of the strengths he brings to his new ministry,” Soto said. “His understanding of Catholic faith and mercy springs from lived experiences of families striving to follow the Lord Jesus in our turbulent times.”

“I am grateful to Bishop-elect Rey for saying ‘yes’ to the Holy Father’s invitation to the college of bishops,” Soto continued. “I ask all the clergy and faithful of the diocese to join me in praying for our brother, Bishop-elect Rey Bersabal, so that he may always walk first as a faithful disciple of the Lord Jesus and be co-worker and companion cultivating the verdant Sacramento Valley for a lasting harvest of mercy and joy.”

The Diocese of Sacramento serves more than 1 million Catholics in 20 counties covering 42,000 square miles of Northern California from San Francisco Bay to Sacramento and the Oregon border, according to a diocesan media release. The diocese includes more than 100 parishes, 42 elementary and secondary schools, and various social service and family support organizations throughout the region.

This story was updated at 1:38 p.m. ET on April 20, 2024, with comments from Bishop Jaime Soto.