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The nun in a tent: Meet the sister who’s following the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage

Sister Mary Rose Chinn of the Handmaids of the Triune God attends a Byzantine Divine Liturgy at Holy Protection of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Church in downtown Denver on June 8, 2024. / Credit: Kate Quiñones/CNA

Denver, Colo., Jun 12, 2024 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

In her day-to-day life, Sister Mary Rose Chinn of the Handmaids of the Triune God works with public school kids in Ventura, California, a coastal city northwest of Los Angeles. But this summer, she hit the road to camp out and follow Jesus in the Eucharist.

When Chinn learned that a group of “Perpetual Pilgrims” would be making its way from California to Indiana on the Junipero Serra Route of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, she wanted to be a part of it.

Equipped with her car, a tent, and the “angels and saints in heaven,” Chinn follows the online schedule of the pilgrims, who are accompanying Jesus in the Eucharist on foot and by van on their way to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, where the National Eucharistic Congress will be held July 17–21.

Along the way, she’s offering up the prayer intentions of the people in Ventura and offers to pray for the prayer intentions of those she meets from city to city and parish to parish.

Sister Mary Rose Chinn (center) participates in a Eucharistic procession in downtown Denver that brought nearly 5,000 people on June 9, 2024. Credit: Kate Quiñones/CNA
Sister Mary Rose Chinn (center) participates in a Eucharistic procession in downtown Denver that brought nearly 5,000 people on June 9, 2024. Credit: Kate Quiñones/CNA

Chinn’s days are a blend of meeting people, visiting different parishes, and attending processions followed by the solitude of camping.

“It gives me a time to be quiet and in solitude with him [Jesus] during the times that I’m not in the churches or in the parish,” she told CNA. “Because there’s a lot of RV campers but very few tent campers anymore.”

Chinn has gone on many types of pilgrimages before, whether with an organization or “making her own way.” With some backpacking experience, she said she felt prepared for this pilgrimage. 

“The opportunity of a pilgrimage, for me, is like a microcosm of daily life, where you really have to listen and just trust in God’s providence for the next step,” she said. “You can make your plans … but then you turn your plans over to the Lord and see how he works out the day. That’s how it’s been.”

Conversion through the Eucharist

“My intention for the pilgrimage was to give thanks to the Lord for his gift of himself in holy Communion,” Chinn explained. 

Chinn, a convert to the Catholic Church, said another reason she joined the pilgrimage was because “it was really Jesus in the Eucharist that brought me into the Catholic Church.” 

“Because when I went to Mass with a friend, I was reading the Old Testament, wondering what happened to all the Old Testament laws regarding sacrifice, the Protestant churches, and there was no sacrifice,” she explained. “But as soon as I attended Mass, I saw Jesus in sacrifice.” 

Though initially mentored in Christianity by Pentecostals, she learned more about the faith from a Catholic priest before she eventually joined the Catholic Church.

“Of all my years of growing up, I had a lot of Catholic friends, but nobody ever shared Mass with me. They never invited me to Mass,” she said. “I was introduced to Christianity by customers at my parents’ restaurants who were Pentecostal Christians, and they invited me to their church. That’s how I first encountered Jesus in his word and through prayer and through the possibility of the Holy Spirit bringing healing, inflaming your life.”

When she faced the decision between Catholicism and Pentecostalism, the Eucharist pulled her toward the Catholic faith. 

“And so at the end, then, in my prayer, I asked Jesus, ‘So had I really been given the gift of faith to believe in Jesus in the Eucharist, on the altar in the tabernacle?’ and I said ‘Yes,’” she recalled. “So, how could I walk away from the Catholic Church? Because it would be denying Jesus.”

Sister Mary Rose Chinn receives the Eucharist during a Byzantine Catholic Divine Liturgy on June 8, 2024. The Eucharist is given via “intinction,” where the small cubes of consecrated, leaven bread are placed in the chalice and given on a spoon. Credit: Kate Quiñones/CNA
Sister Mary Rose Chinn receives the Eucharist during a Byzantine Catholic Divine Liturgy on June 8, 2024. The Eucharist is given via “intinction,” where the small cubes of consecrated, leaven bread are placed in the chalice and given on a spoon. Credit: Kate Quiñones/CNA

Along the pilgrimage, Chinn said she intends “to pray and ask God's forgiveness — the old word is ‘reparation’ — for those who do not believe in his real presence and [I am] praying for their conversion to be able to come back.”

Chinn said that since the COVID-19 pandemic she noticed that many people haven’t returned to Mass. She prays that they may “worship God as Jesus has given himself to us.”

“I find there’s a tendency, and it’s perennial, and it’s throughout all parishes, where the parents will send [their children] for the sacraments, but then they don’t practice the faith on a regular basis,” Chinn explained. “And [I pray] for them to fall in love with Jesus and holy Communion, and the Eucharist, and that Mass — that they would be consistent and constant.” 

“If they only realize it makes life much more stable,” she continued. “The Lord is with them all the time — that relationship can develop.”

Sister Mary Rose Chinn attends a Eucharistic procession in downtown Denver that brought nearly 5,000 people on June 9, 2024. Credit: Kate Quiñones/CNA
Sister Mary Rose Chinn attends a Eucharistic procession in downtown Denver that brought nearly 5,000 people on June 9, 2024. Credit: Kate Quiñones/CNA

“I think what has struck me the most is the number of parishes that the pilgrimage [reaches]. We, at least sometimes on Sundays, go through at least three parish cities,” she said. “And then there’s Benediction. So I’ve received Benediction at least three times a day.”

When asked what has stood out to her so far, Chinn explained that it has been the faith of the people she meets.

“I find, because I’m able to intermingle with the parishioners, they’re definitely people of faith,” she continued. “There’s an identification, even though they don’t know me, and I don’t know them. They’ve been very generous in the walk with me.”

“The basic faith of the people is still there,” Chinn said. “Even though they say Catholicism in the United States is dwindling, there is a solid portion of people who are still believers, who are willing to come out extra and then to worship God — especially Jesus in the Eucharist.”

Eucharistic pilgrims and others attend the Byzantine Divine Liturgy at Holy Protection of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Church in downtown Denver on June 8, 2024. Credit: Kate Quiñones/CNA
Eucharistic pilgrims and others attend the Byzantine Divine Liturgy at Holy Protection of the Mother of God Byzantine Catholic Church in downtown Denver on June 8, 2024. Credit: Kate Quiñones/CNA

Vatican commemorates 80th anniversary of Pius XII’s meeting with Allied troops

The 38th (Irish) Brigade marches at the Vatican in June 1944. / Credit: Imperial War Museum

Rome Newsroom, Jun 12, 2024 / 15:30 pm (CNA).

Bagpipers solemnly marched through St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday to mark the 80th anniversary of a historic meeting between Pope Pius XII and Allied troops who liberated Rome from Nazi occupation.

On June 12, 1944, Pius XII gave an enthusiastic speech in English thanking the members of the 38th (Irish) Brigade as he welcomed them to the Vatican.

To commemorate the historic moment, the Royal Irish Regiment and 38th (Irish) Brigade performed for Pope Francis during his general audience on June 12.

Ambassador Chris Trott, the British ambassador to the Holy See, pointed out that the brigade’s pipe band played the same tune at the exact same time as their forebears did in St. Peter’s Square 80 years ago.

In an interview with CNA, the U.K. ambassador described the significance of the commemoration in the wake of the 80th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy.

“We’ve spent the last 10 days focused on the 80th anniversary of what happened in northern France, but it’s easy to forget … that there was an army fighting its way through Italy trying to liberate the peninsula,” Trott said.

The Royal Irish Regiment and 38th (Irish) Brigade perform for Pope Francis at the Vatican on June 12, 2024. Credit: U.K. Embassy to the Holy See
The Royal Irish Regiment and 38th (Irish) Brigade perform for Pope Francis at the Vatican on June 12, 2024. Credit: U.K. Embassy to the Holy See

“The commemoration this morning was to mark a moment in time when Rome and then the Vatican were liberated by the Allied armies in 1944.”

The 38th (Irish) brigade formed in 1942 and was made up of Irish-born and second- and third-generation Irish born in Britain. The brigade had fought in Tunisia and the landings in Sicily before joining the campaign to liberate the Italian peninsula from German occupation. 

Pope Pius XII said after the liberation of Rome that he wanted to say thank you to the Irish regiment who had been the first ones to come into Rome, Trott explained, so he invited them to come back from the front for the day for an audience at the Vatican.

Historic news footage from 1944 published by Pathé shows Pius XII encouraging Allied troops visiting the Vatican to always remain “close to God” before giving them a papal blessing.

Father Dan Kelleher, the brigade’s Catholic chaplain, helped to arrange the papal audience, which included 150 servicemen, mostly Catholics.

Pius XII told the Irish brigade that they belonged “to the nation which has ever belonged to God’s church since St. Patrick,” according to The Irish Times.

Members of the Royal Irish Regiment and 38th (Irish) Brigade play bagpipes in a performance for Pope Francis at the Vatican on June 12, 2024. Credit: U.K. Embassy to the Holy See
Members of the Royal Irish Regiment and 38th (Irish) Brigade play bagpipes in a performance for Pope Francis at the Vatican on June 12, 2024. Credit: U.K. Embassy to the Holy See

“We are well aware of the good which the Irish have done in spreading the faith from the shores of their green isle into the United States of America, Australia, South Africa, and many other nations,” Pius said.

Although there are no longer any living members of the 38th (Irish) Brigade who met with Pope Pius XII, their family members and descendents traveled to Rome for the anniversary. 

The delegation included a Chelsea Pensioner, whose uncle played in the pipe band for Pope Pius XII on June 12, 1944. Three World War II veterans from the Chelsea Pensioners were also present to greet Pope Francis.

Following the audience, the Royal Irish Regiment led a Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving for the Lives of All who Fought for the Liberation of Italy (1943-1945) at the Basilica of San Silvestro in Rome.

A soldier displays a coat of arms during the Royal Irish Regiment and 38th (Irish) Brigade's performance for Pope Francis at the Vatican on June 12, 2024. Credit: U.K. Embassy to the Holy See
A soldier displays a coat of arms during the Royal Irish Regiment and 38th (Irish) Brigade's performance for Pope Francis at the Vatican on June 12, 2024. Credit: U.K. Embassy to the Holy See

The ambassador, whose grandfather fought in the campaign to liberate Italy, also recalled the heroic witness of Ireland’s Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, who worked with Trott’s predecessor, Sir D’Arcy Osborne, the British envoy to the Holy See, to protect the vulnerable from within the walls of Vatican City during World War II.

“For me, this is the sort of thing that I will always remember,” Trott said.

“My grandfather fought in Italy and so for me to be able to facilitate this commemoration is hugely important both officially and personally,” he said.

Jimmy Lai biographer: Trial is a ‘sham,’ but faith gives him ‘strength’

Mark Clifford, president of the Committee for Freedom of Hong Kong and the author of a forthcoming biography of Jimmy Lai, speaks with “EWTN News Nightly” on June 11, 2024. / Credit: EWTN News Nightly/Screenshot

CNA Staff, Jun 12, 2024 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

The president of the Committee for Freedom of Hong Kong and the author of a forthcoming biography of Jimmy Lai, Mark Clifford, calls the trial of the magnate a “sham” but said the 76-year-old Lai has the “strength to persevere” due to his Catholic faith.

Lai, the Chinese-born founder of the anti-government newspaper Apple Daily, entered a not guilty plea to the charges of conspiring to collude with a foreign power. The prosecution has rested its case and the trial has adjourned until next month.

“He’s charged with subverting state power, but all the prosecution seems to have shown during this lengthy trial that started last December is that he was a newspaper owner who believed in fighting for democracy, and if anything, acted as a moderating force, counseling nonviolence and restraint on the part of younger protesters,” Clifford said in an interview with “EWTN News Nightly.”

“I think there’s no case to offer,” he added. “But of course, I’m not a national security law judge in Hong Kong.”

Lai was arrested in August 2020 under that year’s national security law, which was passed by China’s communist-controlled government. He has been imprisoned by Chinese authorities since his arrest, largely in solitary confinement.

“The latest trial is another of the sham set of charges that they’ve brought against a man who they’ve proven only that he believes in nonviolence, and he wanted to put much of his considerable fortune where his mouth was for democracy and for freedom,” Clifford said of the Chinese authorities. 

But when asked if his Catholic faith was what has kept Lai strong, Clifford replied: “Absolutely.” 

“I think we’re all so fortunate that Jimmy has the strength to persevere, really, against Xi Jinping — it’s his faith,” Clifford said.

“He converted in 1997, one week after the handover of Hong Kong, which had been a British colony for 156 years and exemplified the sense of fair play and above all, rule of law that allowed Jimmy Lai to become such a successful and wealthy entrepreneur,” he continued.

“He married his wife, Theresa, in 1991, and under her influence, converted to Catholicism,” Clifford added. “It’s Theresa’s steadfast support as well as his faith that’s keeping him as strong as he is.”

When asked if Lai could get a fair trial in Hong Kong, Clifford said: “Absolutely not.” 

“I think it’s a shame,” he said. “I think it’s wonderful that he’s willing to show the Hong Kong system for what it is and how unfair it is.”

“He’s hired the best lawyers he can hire, and under Hong Kong law, under the mini constitution that the Chinese government wrote, he should have the right to have the best lawyer in the world,” he explained. “The authorities in Hong Kong, with help from Beijing, rewrote the rules so that he couldn’t have the foreign lawyer of his choice, a human rights advocate, a barrister named Tim Owen from the United Kingdom.”

“No, he can’t get a fair trial,” Clifford continued. ”It’s a joke for the world to think otherwise. But dictatorships like to play this game. They like to pretend that they’re doing everything legally, when in fact, they’re just trying to silence a very forceful and ineffective critic of their authoritarian regime.”

Pope Francis reportedly again uses derogatory word when discussing gay seminarians

Pope Francis speaks to priests of the Diocese of Rome at the Pontifical Salesian University on June 11, 2024. / Credit: Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Jun 12, 2024 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

During a private meeting with priests on Tuesday, Pope Francis reportedly once again used a derogatory slur to refer to gay men while arguing that there is a gay culture in the Vatican.

The pope, quoting himself, recalled a conversation in which he said “there is an air of faggotry” in the Vatican, according to the Italian website Silere Non Possum (Latin for “I cannot be silent”). The website on Wednesday published a transcript of Francis’ remarks on the subject. The website does not cite the source of the quotations.

“What I said on this issue: If a young man wants to enter the seminary and has a homosexual tendency: stop him,” Francis reportedly said in response to a question about seminaries and vocations.

“This is something that the Dicastery for the Clergy has said and I support, because today the homosexual culture has progressed so much and there are good young men who want the Lord, but it’s better not to [admit them to seminary], better not to.”

“Once a monsignor who works in the Vatican said to me, ‘Your Holiness, I want to say something, I am concerned about the gay culture in here,’” the pope continued, according to Silere Non Possum.

“I said, ‘Yes, there is an air of faggotry. It’s true, there is in the Vatican. But look, monsignor, today it is an honorific for our culture. Let us be careful, not to despise people with homosexual tendencies but to accompany them, there are so many good people.

“‘Accompany them, help them. Send them to psychologists. Please, however, be careful about accepting them in the seminary.’”

It is the second time in recent weeks that the pontiff has reportedly used the Italian slur “frociaggine,” which translates to “faggotry” or “faggotness” in reference to homosexual tendencies. 

Late last month, Holy See spokesman Matteo Bruni issued an apology after the pope used the term in reference to seminaries during a private meeting with Italian bishops on May 20.

Several prominent Italian news outlets also reported that the pope had used the derogatory term at the June 11 meeting, including ANSA, which cited sources present at the pope’s closed-door meeting with approximately 160 priests at the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome on the afternoon of June 11.

In an official communication June 11, the Vatican said Francis had spoken to priests “of the danger of ideologies in the Church and returned to the issue of the admission of people with homosexual tendencies to seminaries.”

The Vatican said the pope reiterated “the need to welcome them and accompany them in the Church and the prudential indication of the Dicastery for the Clergy regarding their entry into the seminary.”

The statement did not specify which indication from the Dicastery for the Clergy the Holy Father was referring to.

The pope’s meeting with priests ordained between 11 and 39 years ago was the third and final in a recent series of encounters with the priests of Rome. The first with older priests took place on May 14 and the second with priests ordained under 10 years took place on May 29.

After each of the closed-door meetings, the Vatican provided information summarizing the pontiff’s dialogue, including only select and short quotations.

The Vatican also distributed official photos of the events but no video, audio, or complete text of the pope’s words during the question-and-answer sessions were provided.

A Vatican News report of the June 11 meeting with priests also contained no direct quotes from Francis except to say that he called Rome “mission territory.”

Italian newspaper Il Messaggero reported this week on recent restrictions on information provided to Vatican-accredited journalists about Pope Francis and his speeches.

A closed-circuit audio feed to the Holy See Press Office, which previously allowed journalists to listen in to many of the pontiff’s smaller audiences, has been cut, and advance copies of papal speeches are only being provided in limited cases.

Vatican journalists on June 10 lodged a formal objection to the change, which the Vatican has not explained.

Two court rulings deal blow, victory to U.S. transgender advocates

null / Credit: Brian A. Jackson/Shutterstock

CNA Staff, Jun 12, 2024 / 12:20 pm (CNA).

Two court rulings in Florida and Texas simultaneously dealt both a victory and a setback to transgender advocates in the United States this week. 

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced on his website on Tuesday that the state had “won a major victory” against the Biden administration over the White House’s attempt to rewrite federal Title IX law to include transgender protections.

The U.S. Department of Education issued new regulations in April that radically redefined long-standing federal sex discrimination policy under federal Title IX provisions. The new rules in part redefined “sex discrimination” under Title IX to include protections for “gender identity.”

Title IX rules apply to any educational institutions that accept federal money. Paxton in his press release noted that the revised rules “would have forced Texas schools and universities to allow biological males to use women’s restrooms, locker rooms, and other sex-specific spaces.”

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas said in its Tuesday ruling that the federal government “cannot regulate state educational institutions in this way without violating federal law.”

The government “engaged in unlawful agency action taken in excess of [its] authority, all while failing to adhere to the appropriate notice and comments requirements when doing so,” the court said. 

To allow the order to stand “would be to functionally rewrite Title IX in a way that shockingly transforms American education and usurps a major question from Congress,” the court said. “That is not how our democratic system functions.”

The Texas attorney general said the White House’s effort to redefine the federal law had been “stopped in its tracks.” 

“Threatening to withhold education funding by forcing states to accept ‘transgender’ policies that put women in danger was plainly illegal,” the attorney general said. “Texas has prevailed on behalf of the entire nation.”

Florida court strikes down ban on transgender procedures for minors

In a separate court decision, meanwhile, a Florida court struck down the state’s ban on extremist transgender procedures performed on minors, claiming that the law violated the U.S. Constitution. 

The state last year enacted a law banning transgender “medical care” procedures — such as synthetic cross-sex hormones and puberty-stunting drugs — for individuals under 18 years old. 

The law also said adults could only seek transgender-related treatment from doctors instead of nurses or other medical officials. 

In his ruling on Tuesday, District Judge Robert Hinkle said the bans and restrictions were “unconstitutional,” with the judge claiming that the state “can regulate as needed but cannot flatly deny transgender individuals safe and effective medical treatment.”

“Gender identity is real,” the judge said. “Those whose gender identity does not match their natal sex often suffer gender dysphoria. The widely accepted standard of care calls for appropriate evaluation and treatment.”

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office told media on Tuesday that the governor plans to appeal the decision. 

“Through their elected representatives, the people of Florida acted to protect children in this state, and the court was wrong to override their wishes,” a DeSantis spokesman said. “We disagree with the court’s erroneous rulings on the law, on the facts, and on the science.”

A growing number of doctors and lawmakers are calling for increased regulation over transgender procedures, particularly those performed on children.

Top medical groups and physicians recently signed a “Doctors Protecting Children” declaration that expressed “serious concerns” about the treatment of minors who are uncomfortable with their biological sex, with doctors calling upon the medical industry to “respect biological reality and the dignity of the person” rather than engage in extreme experimental procedures.

Other states including South CarolinaTennesseeand Alabama have passed various bans on transgender procedures for children. Countries in Europe including England and Scotland, meanwhile, have pulled back on allowing those procedures to be performed on minors.

Foster parents sue Vermont after state revokes license for rejecting gender ideology

Bryan and Rebecca Gantt, two foster parents in Vermont, had their licenses revoked for refusing to embrace gender ideology. / Credit: Photo courtesy of Alliance Defending Freedom

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 12, 2024 / 11:35 am (CNA).

Two Vermont families who were inspired by their faith to foster children in their homes have filed a lawsuit against the state’s Department for Children and Families after the agency revoked their licenses for refusing to embrace gender ideology.

The foster parents, who are represented by the legal advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), have provided foster care to children for several years. However, their licenses were revoked because they did not agree to a policy that would require them to support a child’s decision to identify with a gender that is separate from his or her biological sex or to bring the child to events that promote homosexuality if he or she identifies as homosexual.

In both cases, neither set of parents was caring for a child who identified as transgender or homosexual. However, Vermont’s policy requires the foster parents to affirm that they would support a child in his or her self-asserted gender identity and sexuality — if the hypothetical situation were to occur.

“Vermont’s foster-care system is in crisis: There aren’t enough families to care for vulnerable kids, and children born with drug dependencies have nowhere to call home,” ADF Legal Counsel Johannes Widmalm-Delphonse said in a statement. “Yet Vermont is putting its ideological agenda ahead of the needs of these suffering kids.”

According to the department’s policies, parents are encouraged to “support children’s identities even if it feels uncomfortable” and “bring young people to LGBTQ organizations and events in the community.” It instructs foster parents to use “appropriate pronouns” — which would be inconsistent with the child’s biological sex if the child identifies as transgender — and “support young people’s gender expression.” 

The foster parents who filed the suit are Protestant Christians: Brian Wuoti, a pastor, and his wife, Katy; Bryan Gantt, who is also a pastor, and his wife, Rebecca. Both couples argue in the lawsuit that complying with this policy would violate their religious beliefs and their rights to free speech.

“The Wuoti and Gantt families have adopted five beautiful children between them, including children with special needs,” Widmalm-Delphonse said. “Now Vermont says they’re unfit to parent any child because of their traditional religious beliefs about human sexuality. Vermont seems to care little about the needs of vulnerable children, much less the constitutional rights of its citizens. That’s why we’re suing them in federal court.”

The lawsuit asks the United States District Court for the District of Vermont, Windham Division to find that the policy and its enforcement against these two sets of foster parents violates the constitutionally protected rights to free speech, free association, religious exercise, due process, and equal protection under the law. 

Further, the lawsuit asks the court to order that the department halt its enforcement of this policy, which denies or revokes licenses based on a person’s beliefs about sexuality and gender.

Aryka Radke, deputy commissioner of the Vermont Department for Children and Families, Family Services Division, said in a statement provided to CNA that the department “takes the care and support of youth in our custody seriously and we work to ensure that youth in foster care are placed in homes that support all aspects of what makes them who they are,” which includes “their sexual orientation and gender identity.”

“With the understanding that many children may not have fully figured out their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, an honestly answered question today may not reflect the honest feelings of those same children the next day,” Radke added. “That given, it is our responsibility to ensure all children and youth will reside in a home with caregivers who are committed to fully embracing and holistically affirming and supporting them.” 

However, the statement noted that the department “does not comment on the specifics of pending lawsuits” and did not comment on the alleged constitutional violations.

U.S. bishops gear up for spring gathering in Louisville, Kentucky

U.S. bishops gather in Baltimore for their spring assembly in 2019. / Credit: Kate Veik/CNA

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 12, 2024 / 10:15 am (CNA).

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will be meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, from June 12–14 for their 2024 spring plenary assembly.

During the assembly’s public sessions, beginning June 13, the bishops will vote on whether to approve a draft document that contains a pastoral plan for the U.S. Church’s Native American ministry, “Keeping Christ’s Sacred Promise: A Pastoral Framework for Indigenous Ministry.”

In the draft document, a copy of which was obtained by EWTN News, the bishops apologize for Native American Catholics’ “abandonment” by the Church and propose a way forward that takes into account the “unique cultural needs” of these communities.

Also up for vote is a document proposing a new framework for ministries with youth and young adults called “Listen, Teach, Send.” The document is the culmination of a process begun in response to Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Christus Vivit, released in 2019 after the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops on young people, faith, and vocational discernment. 

The assembled bishops will also consider whether to advance on the local level the cause of beatification and canonization of Adele Brise, who in 1859 witnessed the first and only approved Marian apparition in the United States in Champion, Wisconsin.  

The Latin Church members of the USCCB will also vote on whether to approve changes to the translation of the Liturgy of Hours.

Before the public meetings, the bishops will “spend time in prayer and fraternal dialogue with one another,” according to a press release from the USCCB. They will also consider the future of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the national anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic bishops, which has experienced a financial shortfall amid a decline in donations following the COVID-19 pandemic. The campaign is funded by an annual collection in U.S. parishes.

Beginning in 2008, the CCHD was criticized by activists — and some Catholic bishops — for funding organizations that have taken positions contrary to Church teaching, such as on abortion and same-sex marriage. In 2010, the USCCB instituted new controls to help ensure that grantees conform with Catholic teaching.

On Thursday, June 13, Cardinal Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, will address the assembly, followed by an address by the president of the USCCB, Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA.

Later in the day, Archbishop Borys Gudziak, chairman of the conference’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Robert Barron, head of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth, will provide updates on the USCCB’s mental health campaign.

In addition to action items up for vote on Friday, Bishop Mark Seitz, chairman of the migration committee, will update the bishops on the status of the religious worker visa program. As the National Catholic Register, CNA’s sister news partner, reported in December 2023, a new change in U.S. visa policy has left thousands of visa applicants — including Catholic priests seeking permanent residency — unable to obtain green cards before their initial visas expire. 

The public sessions on June 13 and 14 will be livestreamed on the USCCB website.

Pope Francis: Keep your homilies short or ‘people will fall asleep’

Pope Francis addresses pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his general audience on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. / Credit: Vatican Media

Rome Newsroom, Jun 12, 2024 / 09:35 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has once again appealed to Catholic priests to keep their homilies short, this time warning that homilies should be no longer than eight minutes or “people will fall asleep.”

Speaking in St. Peter’s Square for his Wednesday catechesis on June 12, the pope explained that the goal of a homily is to “help move the Word of God from the book to life.”

“But the homily for this must be short: an image, a thought, a feeling. The homily should not go beyond eight minutes because after that time you lose attention and people fall asleep,” he said.

It is not the first time that Francis has stressed the importance of short homilies. In 2018, the pope urged priests to “be brief” and ensure that their homilies are “no more than 10 minutes.” 

Pope Francis meets with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his general audience on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis meets with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his general audience on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media

The pope’s words echo the recommendations made by Archbishop Nikola Eterovic in his 2010 book on the 2008 Synod on the Word of God, which advised prelates to keep their homilies to eight minutes or shorter and to avoid “improvisations” from the pulpit.

Pope Francis often exceeds this time limit in his own homilies. On Holy Thursday this year, the pope’s homily for the chrism Mass was more than 20 minutes long. 

The pope made the comments on homily length off the cuff during a reflection on how the Bible is “inspired by God and authoritative.”

Pope Francis meets with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his general audience on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis meets with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his general audience on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media

Francis added that “the Holy Spirit, who inspired the Scriptures … also makes them perennially living and active.”

“It can happen that in a certain passage of the Scripture, that we have read many times without particular emotion, one day we read it in an atmosphere of faith and prayer, and then that text is unexpectedly illuminated, it speaks to us, it sheds light on a problem we are living, it makes God’s will for us clear in a certain situation,” the pope said.

“The words of the Scripture, under the action of the Spirit, become luminous; and in those cases, we touch with our own hands how true is the statement in the Letter to the Hebrews: ‘The word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword’ (Heb 4:12).”

Pope Francis meets with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his general audience on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis meets with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his general audience on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media

Pope Francis urged Catholics to take time every day to read and reflect on a passage from Scripture, recommending that Christians carry “a pocket Gospel” with them to read during spare moments throughout the day. 

“But the quintessential spiritual reading of the Scripture is the community reading in the liturgy in the Mass,” he said. “There, we see how an event or a teaching, given by the Old Testament, finds its full expression in the Gospel of Christ.”

“Among the many words of God that we listen to every day in Mass or in the Liturgy of the Hours, there is always one that is meant specially for us. Something that touches the heart. Welcomed into the heart, it can illuminate our day and inspire our prayer. It is a question of not letting it fall on deaf ears,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis meets with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his general audience on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis meets with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his general audience on Wednesday, June 12, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media

“‘The whole Bible,’ observes St. Augustine, ‘does nothing but tell of God’s love,’” he added.

At the end of the general audience, Pope Francis asked people to continue to pray for peace in Ukraine, Palestine, Israel, Myanmar, and the many countries that are at war today.

The pope extended greetings to pilgrim groups visiting from China, India, Indonesia, France, Poland, the United Kingdom, the Philippines, and the United States.

Also in St. Peter’s Square were bagpipers from the the Royal Irish Regiment and 38 Irish Brigade who performed in commemoration of 80th anniversary of the liberation of Rome and Irish brigade’s historic meeting with Pope Pius XII at the Vatican on June 12, 1944.

Pope Francis also encouraged devotion to St. Anthony of Padua ahead of his feast day on June 13.

“Tomorrow we will celebrate the liturgical memory of St. Anthony of Padua, priest and doctor of the Church,” he said. “May the example of this distinguished preacher, protector of the poor and the suffering, arouse in everyone the desire to pursue the path of faith and imitate his life, thus becoming credible witnesses of the Gospel.”

Former punk band guitarist, policeman ordained to Catholic priesthood

Bearded former punk band guitarist Father Giulio Vannucci and former policeman Father Michele Di Stefano flank Bishop Giovanni Nerbini following their June 8, 2024, ordination to the Catholic priesthood. / Credit: Diocese of Prato, Italy

ACI Prensa Staff, Jun 12, 2024 / 07:00 am (CNA).

The Cathedral of Prato, Italy, was the setting last Saturday for the ordination of a former punk band guitarist and policeman.

Father Giulio Vanucci, who has long hair and a beard and who earlier in life was part of the group i Quanti, a local punk band, was ordained along with Father Michele Di Stefano, a former police officer, by the bishop of Prato, Giovanni Nerbini.

“The Lord has not chosen administrators or supermen but simple and always generous people,” Nerbini said in his homily at the ordination Mass.

Vanucci, 38, was born in the town of Pistoia. Of his punk band past, he told the Italian newspaper Avvenire it was “a period in which I had a lot of fun and that I do not regret.” 

During the past eight years, Vanucci has worked as a bricklayer in a Catholic housing apostolate. “For me, being a priest means putting oneself even more at service, it means taking care of everything and everyone,” Vannucci said.

The other priest, Father Michele Di Stefano, 39, is a former police officer in the town of Bardonecchia. He completed his priestly formation in Florence.

“Today is not a goal achieved but rather the beginning of a new path, even an exhausting one,” Di Stefano said. “But I am sure that I am not alone and that I have God’s help. My intention is to be close to people who suffer, who feel alone,” said Di Stefano, who was accompanied by several policemen who were former colleagues of his.

In his homily prior to ordaining Father Guilio Vannucci and Father Michele Di Stefano, Bishop Giovanni Nerbini noted that "The Lord has not chosen administrators or supermen, but simple and always generous people." Credit: Diocese of Prato
In his homily prior to ordaining Father Guilio Vannucci and Father Michele Di Stefano, Bishop Giovanni Nerbini noted that "The Lord has not chosen administrators or supermen, but simple and always generous people." Credit: Diocese of Prato

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

‘The Chosen’ actor Paras Patel says portraying Matthew has ‘given me my purpose’

Actor Paras Patel as Matthew in the hit series “The Chosen.” / Credit: “The Chosen”

CNA Staff, Jun 12, 2024 / 06:00 am (CNA).

[Editor’s note: The following article may contain spoilers.]

Season 4 of the hit series “The Chosen” has been officially released for streaming exclusively on “The Chosen” app, and fan-favorite Paras Patel, who portrays Matthew in the series, recently spoke to CNA about his role in the show and how it has impacted him as a person. 

The actor said that being able to portray Matthew, specifically as someone who has autism, and have so many people share how his portrayal has touched their lives has “really given me my purpose as an artist.”

“The Chosen” is the first-ever multi-season show about the life of Jesus and became the most successful crowdfunded TV series or film project in history. 

Season 4 focuses on the time leading up to Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and includes important biblical moments such as the raising of Lazarus and the healing of the Roman Centurion’s servant.

Jesus and his disciples during Season 4 of "The Chosen." Credit: The Chosen/Mike Kubeisy
Jesus and his disciples during Season 4 of "The Chosen." Credit: The Chosen/Mike Kubeisy

After many episodes of tension between Matthew and Simon Peter, a heartfelt scene of forgiveness between the two serves as a reminder of Jesus’ message to forgive “not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times” (Mt 18:22). 

Patel explained that his character started his “apology tour” in Season 3 when Matthew reconciled with his parents. 

“Matthew, knowing who he is and becoming the person that he is, he always wants to make right of his wrongs — he feels the guilt and the shame,” he said. “So that carries into Season 4.”

He added: “That’s something that I love when I portray Matthew, because it really teaches us as the audience of what that can look like and kind of helps us want to do the right things in our lives with obstacles that have come our way.”

Fans of the show highlight the growth witnessed in Matthew since Season 1. Patel likes to describe the growth as Matthew becoming “activated.”

“I like to say that Matthew, when he was at the tax booth, was not activated, meaning nobody saw anything in him. Nobody valued him, people just ignored him. They spit on him. They didn’t give him his worth,” he said. “And it took one person that kind of shined a light straight into his heart and gave him the confidence he needed to make him into one of the most famous scribes in history.”

Patel said he has “learned so much” from playing Matthew and pointed out that “it’s so rare to have a character really impacting you.”

“Matthew teaches me so much about just… honestly, it sounds simple… but it’s just listening,” he shared. “Listening to one another, hearing other people’s thoughts, giving them space to feel comfortable, giving them a safe space to be open.”

He added: “I learn about not judging others so easily. I learn about respecting one another and just really trying to hear someone else out and hear their heart and not judge a book by its cover.”

Patel has shared that fans around the world send him messages thanking him for his portrayal of someone with autism because it gives them or their children someone they can relate to. Because of this, Patel has become a proud advocate for the autism community.

“It means a lot because a lot of times when you’re working in this industry, you’re just kind of doing job to job,” Patel said. “So, being an ambassador for the autism community has been so special for me because I never thought that I would be kind of the face of it through our show, and it’s something that I am very passionate about.”

While doing press in Brazil for Season 4, Patel told CNA that he encountered several people thanking him for his portrayal of Matthew and thanking him for providing a term for his behaviors because they previously did not have a word for autism. 

“Several times when I was there, I was thanked for the show. They said, ‘Thank you for letting us know what this is. We didn’t know the word is autistic for this behavior,’” he recalled. “They didn’t know the word for it until they watched the show. So that is literally the impact that the show has had globally and it’s very moving to be a part of.”

The highly anticipated release of Season 4 comes after a delay due to legal issues between “The Chosen” and Angel Studios. 

After episode one was released on June 2, the show’s app climbed to the No. 1 overall app in the Apple TV app store and to the No. 2 free app in the mobile iOS App Store. 

The season premiere had an impressive 3.5 million streams following the release of Episode 1 and 4.2 million streams across households in the U.S. over the first three days. During the first 72 hours, the stream on YouTube and the app alone yielded more than 2.5 million total viewers.

CNA's full interview with Patel can be viewed in full below.