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New EWTN poll: Most Catholics don’t want Biden to run for a second term

President Joe Biden speaks during the Phoenix Awards Dinner at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 1, 2022. / Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Oct 3, 2022 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

Most Catholics believe that President Joe Biden, the nation’s second Catholic president, should not run for a second term in 2024, according to a new EWTN News/RealClear Opinion Research Poll of likely Catholic voters released Monday.

The poll, conducted Sept. 12–19, shows Biden continues to face challenges in garnering support among Catholic voters in the run-up to Election Day on Nov. 8. In particular, the poll indicates waning support for the president among Hispanic Catholic voters, traditionally a strong source of support for the Democratic Party.

Among other highlights of the poll, Catholic voters rank inflation and the economy as the most critical issues facing the country, and most say they are very concerned about the state of education, especially after the lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Much of the poll’s results provide a snapshot of how Catholic voters assess Biden’s performance after two years in office.

When asked how they feel Biden is handling his job as president, nearly 52% of Catholic voters said they either disapproved (5%) or strongly disapproved (47%); around 46% either approved (32%) or strongly approved (14%). Notably, the strong disapproval number was significantly higher than strongly approved. Only 2% of voters had no opinion.

A majority of Catholics (58%) feel that Biden should not run for a second term in 2024, while only 22% support a possible re-election bid; 19% of Catholics are not sure. Most Catholics (67%-27% with 10% not sure) also do not want former President Donald Trump to run for president again in 2024.

The president’s challenges may also be reflected in the fact that the survey found Democrats trailing Republicans by four points in the generic ballot for Congress. When asked if they would vote for a Democrat or Republican candidate, almost 49% of Catholics would vote for the Republican candidate while 45% would choose the Democrat, with the rest not sure. This margin underestimates the Republican advantage in the race for control of Congress since Democrat voters are more geographically clustered.

The well-documented statistical disparity that exists between Mass-attending Catholics and those who attend only yearly or never remains in this latest poll.

Among Catholics who attend Mass once a week or more often, 75% say they would vote for the Republican candidate, while 54% of those who attend a few times a year or less would vote for the Democrat candidate.

Catholics are also divided on the president’s job approval. A substantial majority of Catholics (75%) who attend Mass at least weekly or more disapprove of the president’s handling of his job while his approval rating among Catholics who attend Mass a few times a year or less stands at 53%.

The poll, conducted by the Trafalgar Group, surveyed 1,581 Catholic voters and has a margin of error of 2.5%. The questionnaire was administered using a mix of six different methods, including live phone calls, text messages, and email.

A third and final EWTN News/RealClear poll will focus on the Catholic vote in the days just before the midterms.


Catholics divided on abortion

On the issue of abortion, the survey of Catholic voters taken after the release of the Supreme Court’s June 24 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, found that Catholics remain very divided even as a massive majority (87%) wants various restrictions on abortion.

Surveyed on whether they agree or disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Catholic voters are almost evenly split, with 48% saying that abortion should be a federally protected right and 46% saying each state should determine its own abortion policy; 6% were not sure. Still, 13% of Catholics say abortion should be available to a woman at any time she wants one during her entire pregnancy while 8% say that abortion should never be permitted under any circumstances.

Overall, most Catholics favor restrictions ranging from abortion should be allowed only in cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother, 27%; until 15 weeks, when the baby can feel pain, 20%; only during the first six months of pregnancy, 13%; until a heartbeat can be detected, 10%; or only to save the life of the mother, 9%. Catholics who attend Mass once a week or more favor the overturn of Roe by 75%, while 50% of those who attend a few times a year or less believe abortion should be a federally protected right.

Catholics are similarly divided on whether they would be more or less likely to support a candidate who agrees with the overturn of Roe v. Wade, with 42% saying they would be more likely and 42% saying they would be less likely; 16% are not sure.

On the recent controversy surrounding pregnancy resource centers, some two-thirds of Catholic voters support public funding for these centers, where pregnant women can seek help with alternatives to abortion, while 18% are opposed and the remainder are not sure. Likewise, 62% say that political and church leaders should be speaking out against the recent attacks and acts of vandalism on pregnancy resource centers, compared with 15% who say they should not and another 23% who are not sure.

Inflation, jobs are major worries

Abortion, however, is not the most important issue to Catholic voters as they look to the midterms. While a major element of the Democrat campaign for the 2022 election, abortion trails significantly behind other issues, including inflation and the economy, as most important. Only 10% of Catholics say abortion is the most important issue facing the nation — tied with immigration, while 34% say inflation and another nearly 20% say the economy/jobs.

Like most Americans, Catholics are feeling the impact of inflation. Asked how much their personal finances have been affected by rising prices and inflation, 81% of Catholic voters say that inflation has impacted them, while only 19% say not much or not at all.

A plurality (41%) place the blame for inflation on Biden and his administration, while nearly 32% blame it on the global slowdown due to COVID-19 or the Russian invasion of Ukraine (more than 9%), and 17% say all of the above or they don’t know. As for the Inflation Reduction Act that the president recently signed into law, Catholics express little confidence that it will reduce inflation. A majority of Catholics (54%) say they don’t have much or any confidence that it will reduce inflation, while 37% say they have a great deal or some confidence and the rest are not sure.

Hispanic support slipping for Biden, Democrats

One potentially significant development the poll found was a decline in support for the president and Democrats in general among Hispanic Catholics — historically a reliable Democrat voting bloc.

When asked how they feel Biden is handling his job as president, 50% of Hispanic Catholics say they strongly approve (11%) or approve (39%), while nearly 47% say they either disapprove (7%) or strongly disapprove (40%). Biden’s numbers among white Catholics are much worse, with 54% strongly disapproving (51%) or disapproving (4%), compared with 44%, who either strongly approve (16%) or approve (28%). Among African-American Catholics, he enjoys a very high approval rate of 90%, with 12% approving strongly and 78% approving. The first EWTN/RealClear poll in July found that Biden’s approval rating among white Catholics was 36%, 59% among Hispanic Catholics, and 72% among Black Catholics.

President Joe Biden walks past a screen during a Hispanic Heritage Month reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 30, 2022. Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images
President Joe Biden walks past a screen during a Hispanic Heritage Month reception in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 30, 2022. Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

As for whether he should run for re-election, the president is facing a serious electoral and demographic challenge. Only 17% of white Catholics think he should run, while 62% say he should not. Among Hispanic Catholics, only 28% say he should run, and 53% say he should not. Almost all African-American Catholics (94%) think he should run again.

When asked about their preference for candidates in the midterms, Hispanic Catholics are now evenly divided, with 45% favoring the Democrat and 44% preferring the Republican. Among white Catholics, Republicans hold an edge of 51%-44%. Black Catholics favor the Democrat 90%-10%.

Education concerns

One other area of concern to many Catholics is that of education, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns that impacted schools across the country. Three-quarters of Catholics said they are concerned about a “COVID deficit” in schoolchildren that has caused them to have lost significant intellectual and social development; around 17% said they were not concerned and 10% said they were not sure.

A majority of Catholics (nearly 78%) either strongly support (47%) or support (21%) school choice, a policy that allows public education funds to follow students to the schools or services that best fit their needs, including a public school, private school, charter school, home school, parochial school, or any other learning environment a family might choose; 26% either strongly oppose (17%) or oppose (9%) school choice.

Majorities of Catholics also support parents of K–12 students helping determine what is being taught in schools (64%-31%), oppose biological boys who identify as girls competing against biological girls on school sports teams (76%-14%), and oppose introducing Critical Race Theory (CRT) into the classroom (60%-29%).

Half of Catholics believe in Real Presence

Finally, in the area of Catholic belief and practice, some 84% of Catholics believe in heaven. Previous polls found that 77% believe in hell and 65% believe in purgatory. A majority of Catholic voters (77%) also believe in guardian angels.

When asked about their Mass attendance post-COVID, only 1% of Catholics attend daily, 7% attend more than once a week, 24% once a week, 10% once or twice a month, 26% a few times a year, 5% once a year, and 26% less than once a year or never.

The numbers for Mass attendance are matched by belief in the Real Presence of the Eucharist. As found also in the last poll, 50% of Catholics believe that the transformed bread and wine are the Body and Blood of Christ while 40% say the bread and wine are symbols of the Body and Blood of Christ; almost 10% say they are not sure. At the same time, only 26% of Catholics go to confession at least monthly or yearly, while 50% never go.

Abortion-protesting priest faces possible prison time after charges under FACE Act

Father Fidelis Moscinski (far left, in gray robe), a well-known pro-life activist and priest of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFR), is seen during a tense standoff between pro-life and pro-abortion demonstrators in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022. / Jeffrey Bruno/CNA

St. Louis, Mo., Oct 3, 2022 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

A prominent pro-life priest known for his nonviolent attempts to hinder the operation of abortion clinics to save unborn children faces federal charges for padlocking closed the gate to a New York abortion clinic in July, blocking the entrance to the clinic in the hopes of counseling the women seeking an abortion that day to reconsider.

Father Fidelis Moscinski, 52, a priest of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFR), was charged last week under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, a 1994 federal law that prohibits the blocking of access to abortion clinics. 

According to a Sept. 29 release from the Department of Justice, Moscinski — whom the release identifies as “Christopher” — arrived at the Planned Parenthood of Greater New York clinic in Hempstead, New York, the morning of July 7 wearing civilian garb. 

He allegedly fastened several padlocks and bicycle locks, some with glue poured in them, onto the gated entrance of the clinic. Later, while wearing his friar’s habit, he lay in front of the gate to block access to the abortion clinic with his body. The clinic reportedly remained closed for two hours as a result of his actions. 

The DOJ says first-time convictions of the FACE Act are misdemeanor violations punishable by up to one year in federal prison; subsequent convictions are a felony. The FACE Act prohibits “violent, threatening, damaging, and obstructive conduct intended to injure, intimidate, or interfere with the right to seek, obtain, or provide reproductive health services,” according to the DOJ. 

Terrisa Bukovinac, founder and executive director of the pro-life group Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU), decried the charges against Moscinski in an Oct. 2 statement. 

Bukovinac said the FACE Act was enacted primarily to quash the efforts of Operation Rescue, whose members would frequently try to physically prevent women from entering abortion clinics. 

“In recent years there has been a renewed interest in Rescue and of nonviolent direct action outside killing centers across America. And the response from [Attorney General Merrick] Garland’s DOJ has been swift,” Bukovinac said. 

“The weaponization of this office has led to the unjust targeting of peaceful pro-life activists such as Mark Houck, Father Fidelis, Lauren Handy, and others. Alternatively, Garland’s Justice Department has allowed violent pro-abortion groups to continue their terrorization of churches and pregnancy centers across the country,” she said, referring to the large number of as-yet unprosecuted crimes against pro-life entities reported across the country in the wake of the Roe v. Wade decision. 

Father Fidelis Moscinski (lower left, standing behind the cross), a well-known pro-life activist and priest of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFR), is seen during a tense standoff between pro-life and pro-abortion demonstrators in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022. The pro-life marchers were trying to reach a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic where they planned to hold a prayer vigil, and the pro-abortion demonstrators were trying to block their path. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA
Father Fidelis Moscinski (lower left, standing behind the cross), a well-known pro-life activist and priest of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (CFR), is seen during a tense standoff between pro-life and pro-abortion demonstrators in Lower Manhattan on July 2, 2022. The pro-life marchers were trying to reach a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic where they planned to hold a prayer vigil, and the pro-abortion demonstrators were trying to block their path. Jeffrey Bruno/CNA

Moscinski has garnered media attention in recent years for his prayerful protests in the face of pro-abortion opposition and his work with the group Red Rose Rescue. In 2021, photos of the procession at Brooklyn’s Witness for Life day of prayer showed pro-abortion advocates shouting, holding signs, and smoking cigarettes in the face of a calm Moscinski.

More recently, following his July 7 arrest, Moscinski told EWTN Pro-life Weekly that he knew his actions in blocking the clinic entrance could engender “severe consequences” and that he chose to act alone so as not to implicate anyone else. 

Moscinski told host Prudence Robertson that his goal was to “keep that Planned Parenthood closed for as long as possible so that I would have an opportunity to talk to the mothers that were coming in that morning.” He encouraged pro-life people to pray the rosary and to ask themselves: “What am I willing to sacrifice to show love to the mothers and children who are at risk for abortion?” 

Prosecutors cited that EWTN interview as part of the criminal complaint against Moscinski.

Bukovinac of Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising said her group is aware of at least 16 peaceful pro-life advocates indicted under the FACE Act in 2022 alone, including a member of PAAU, Lauren Handy

Another recent indictment, that of Philadelphia pro-life leader and father of seven Mark Houck, has garnered widespread consternation and criticism. Houck was indicted by a federal grand jury Sept. 22 after a Planned Parenthood clinic escort alleged that Houck pushed him twice, causing him to fall to the ground both times. Accounts of how Houck was taken into custody have been met with sharp criticism from GOP lawmakers, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri.

Gothic Revival reborn: Nottingham Cathedral receives grant to ‘Restore Pugin’

The Cathedral Church of St. Barnabas in Nottingham, England, U.K. / Kevin George/Shutterstock

CNA Newsroom, Oct 3, 2022 / 14:01 pm (CNA).

He reignited the dazzling colors, details, and diversity of the Middle Ages with his buildings. Now, his design of a Catholic church that brings to life this legacy — St. Barnabas Cathedral in Nottingham, U.K. — is to be restored and brought back to life.

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin famously worked on iconic buildings such as London’s clock tower — which houses “Big Ben” — and the Houses of Parliament. At Nottingham Cathedral, built in the 1840s, Pugin pioneered a revival of the grand tradition of medieval architecture known as Gothic Revival.

With the support of money from British lottery players, the Restoring Pugin project aims to revive this heritage in England’s East Midlands in the heart of Nottingham city centre on busy Derby Road. 

Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. Wikimedia (CC0)
Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin. Wikimedia (CC0)

The project has received the offer of a substantial grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to fulfill its goal.

The development grant awarded amounts to £277,558 (more than $312,000). That pays for some 60% of project development costs, according to a statement by the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.

There is also a potential delivery grant of £524,858 (more than $591,000) for the implementation phase, covering 60% of the project’s total cost of restoring the Grade II* listed building.

“This is a really exciting project,” said Sophie Andreae, vice chair of the Bishops’ Conference’s Patrimony Committee.

“The original Pugin decorative scheme in Nottingham Cathedral would once have filled the building with colour, contributing greatly to the sense of the sacred,” she said.

The Blessed Sacrament Chapel at Nottingham Cathedral. Wikimedia / Michael D. Beckwith (CC0)
The Blessed Sacrament Chapel at Nottingham Cathedral. Wikimedia / Michael D. Beckwith (CC0)

“Following a number of grants in recent years, which have seen the exterior of the cathedral made wind- and water-tight, now is the time to focus on [the] interior and to restore it to its original glory,” Andreae continued. “The original painted decoration is there under layers of later paint just waiting to be revealed.”

Benachir Medjdoub, professor of digital architecture at Nottingham Trent University, said the project is an opportunity to use the latest restoration tools.

“This project will use advanced digital technologies and real-time data to pave the way to new pedagogical tools to educate our young people from different communities in heritage and conservation, and to support Nottingham Cathedral conservation through real-time monitoring,” he said.

The recent lottery grant made possible a laser scan and a fly-through model of the cathedral. The 3-D model shows the original building and Pugin’s original designs.

Since the U.K.’s National Lottery began in 1994, National Lottery players have raised more than £43 billion for projects, and more than 635,000 grants have been awarded across Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

“We are really delighted that the National Lottery Heritage Fund is generously supporting our plans to ‘Restore Pugin’ at Nottingham Cathedral,” Canon Malachy Brett, dean of Nottingham Cathedral, said in a statement.

“Thanks to National Lottery players, not only will we be able to restore some of Pugin’s magnificent original design work to the cathedral but [we will also be able] to create a number of opportunities for young people to engage in conservation and heritage work,” he said.

Video on St. Peter’s facade ‘an encounter between ancient and modern,’ cardinal says

The facade of St. Peter’s Basilica was illuminated on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, with 3-D projection mapping of Renaissance art from the Vatican Museums in a new light display titled “Follow Me: The Life of St. Peter.” The display will be projected on the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica every 15 minutes between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. each night through Oct. 16, 2022. / Vatican Media livestream screenshot

Vatican City, Oct 3, 2022 / 13:02 pm (CNA).

The facade of St. Peter’s Basilica was illuminated on Sunday night with 3-D projection mapping of art from the Vatican Museums in a new light display that seeks to combine new and old.

Cardinal Mauro Gambetti described the Vatican’s new light showcase as “an encounter between ancient and modern using 3-D production technologies to enhance masterpieces of the past with a message aimed at the future.”

The cardinal spoke in St. Peter’s Square on Oct. 2 at the opening of the light display, which is showing each night on the basilica for the next two weeks.

Thousands gathered in front of St. Peter’s Basilica to watch the eight-minute video, “Follow Me: The Life of St. Peter,” on the first night as the basilica was lit up with moving images of Renaissance art from the Vatican Museums.

The display featured Raphael’s “Transfiguration” and Pietro Perugino’s “Christ Giving the Keys of the Kingdom to St. Peter” as an Italian narrator told a basic story of the Church’s first pope.

The 3-D video mapping also highlighted architectural elements of the basilica exterior as it illuminated the Latin inscription “Tu es Petrus” (You are Peter), words from Matthew 16:18.

Andrea Bocelli performed as a special guest for the show’s inauguration. The Italian tenor sang several songs, including “Ave Maria” and “The First Noël,” a song from his new album set to be released at the end of October.

Gambetti, the archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, said that the video projection on the basilica is part of an initiative to make the Vatican basilica recognized as “the church that holds the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles” rather than as “a museum.”

“Now the pope wants us to insist on promoting St. Peter’s as a shrine and avoid the risk that it might become a museum,” Gambetti told Avennire in an Oct. 2 interview.

The cardinal noted that 40,000 to 50,000 people visit the basilica each day, often with tourist guides, which he said “inevitably creates an almost museum-like atmosphere.”

Under Gambetti’s leadership, the basilica, formerly reserved for prayer each day before 8 a.m., now allows large tour groups to enter in the early mornings. Private Masses were also restricted from the upper church soon after he became archpriest.

Gambetti acknowledged that there is a serious problem that “those who want to access, come to pray, or participate in liturgies … maybe have to wait more than an hour in line.”

He said that he is planning to make “incremental attempts to make the basilica more easily accessible to the faithful who come to pray with separate fast lanes from the tourists.”

The cardinal hopes to address these issues before the Church’s 2025 Jubilee Year, during which the Vatican expects 30 million people to visit.

“It is important that they see the face of the Mother Church that welcomes everyone. We thought of showing the image of the early Church, founded on Peter and his profession of faith,” Gambetti said when he announced the video-mapping initiative last month.

“We think that people will be guided by the example of Peter to encounter the Lord and their brothers and sisters, to live their experience as pilgrims, and to leave renewed,” he said.

The video display will be projected on the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica every 15 minutes between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. each night through Oct. 16.

Europe’s top human rights court to rule on landmark euthanasia case

Tom Mortier / ADF International

CNA Newsroom, Oct 3, 2022 / 06:30 am (CNA).

The European Court of Human Rights is set to rule in a landmark euthanasia case on Tuesday on whether Belgium wrongly allowed a woman to be euthanized by lethal injection on the grounds of “untreatable depression.” 

Tom Mortier is the son of Godelieva de Troyer, who died in 2012 after she had approached the country’s leading euthanasia advocate, who ultimately agreed to euthanize her despite being a cancer specialist.

Before her death by euthanasia at age 64, neither her son nor any family member was consulted, according to a statement by the Christan legal group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF International).

Mortier says that Belgium violated the European Convention on Human Rights for failing to adequately protect the right to life of his mother, who suffered severe mental difficulties and coped with depression throughout her life. 

“She was treated for years by psychiatrists, and sadly, she and I lost contact for some time. It was during this time that she died by way of lethal injection. Never could I have imagined that we would be parted forever,” he said. 

Over a period of just a few months, de Troyer made a financial payment to a Belgian euthanasia advocate’s organization. He referred her to see other doctors who were also part of the same association, despite a requirement for independent opinions in the case of individuals not expected to die soon, according to ADF International. 

The same doctor that euthanized her is also co-chair of the federal commission charged with approving euthanasia cases after the fact.

Countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands have been at the forefront of offering euthanasia and assisted suicide, and doctors who personally object to the practice must still refer patients.

Vincent Kemme, the founder of the Belgian bioethics organization Biofides, told EWTN News in September that his organization has observed a shift in recent years, especially in the low countries of Europe, away from conscience protections for the medical profession: 

“In Europe and the United States, the introduction of relativism and moral subjectivism has completely changed the profession of the doctor,” Kemme told EWTN News.

Under Belgian law, euthanasia is permissible when a “medically futile condition of constant and unbearable physical or mental suffering” resulting from a severe and incurable disorder caused by illness or accident cannot be alleviated.

Over 27,000 people have died from euthanasia in Belgium since it was legalized 20 years ago, on May 28, 2002, according to the latest official data from Belgian authorities, ADF said.

Belgium’s law even allows minors of any age who are diagnosed as terminally ill to request euthanasia. Parental consent, as well as the agreement of doctors and psychiatrists, is required.

Pope Francis recognizes the ‘countless acts of kindess and charity’ of Stella Maris, Apostleship of the Sea

Pope Francis / Vatican Media

CNA Newsroom, Oct 3, 2022 / 04:50 am (CNA).

Marking more than 100 years of helping seafarers around the world, Pope Francis has recognized the role of Stella Maris, the Apostleship of the Sea. 

In a message to participants at the 25th World Congress of the Catholic organization, Pope Francis said: “I join you, and all associated with Stella Maris, in giving thanks to Almighty God for the witness of faith and countless acts of kindness and charity shown by so many chaplains and volunteers over the past century to those who toil on our seas and waterways for the benefit of us all.”

The apostleship was founded in Glasgow, Scotland, on Oct. 4, 1920. A congress was to be held there to mark its 100th anniversary in October 2020, but the date could not be fully celebrated due to the outbreak of the pandemic. 

“Now that you have gathered in person for the first time since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is my hope that you will be able to celebrate fully the hundredth anniversary of the founding,” Pope Francis said in his message.

In September 2020, the organization changed its name from the Apostleship of the Sea to Stella Maris, after one of the Latin titles of veneration of the Virgin Mary.

By its own description, the apostleship is the largest ship-visiting network in the world.

“Indeed, from small and humble beginnings, Stella Maris has grown into the widespread organization we see today, providing spiritual, psychological, and material assistance, on ships and ashore, for myriads of seafarers and maritime personnel of diverse nationalities and religious traditions,” Pope Francis said.

The pontiff noted that despite technological advances, many maritime workers not only spend large amounts of time separated from their homelands “but also continue to suffer from a variety of unjust working conditions and other deprivations” in a world where more than 90% of goods are transported by ships. 

Stella Maris therefore should not waver in “drawing attention to the issues which deprive many within the maritime community of their God-given human dignity,” Pope Francis said.

He added that the apostleship thereby puts into practice the words of Jesus: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.”

The pope concluded with “prayerful good wishes” and a blessing: “Entrusting the chaplains, volunteers, and all associated with Stella Maris to the loving protection of Our Lady Star of the Sea, I impart my blessing as a pledge of fortitude, joy, and peace in Christ the Lord.”

Pope Francis meets Apple CEO Tim Cook at the Vatican

Pope Francis shakes hands with Apple CEO Tim Cook at the Vatican, Oct. 3, 2022. / Vatican Media

CNA Newsroom, Oct 3, 2022 / 04:22 am (CNA).

Pope Francis met with Apple CEO Tim Cook at the Vatican on Monday morning.

Cook heads up a company whose stock market value hit $3 trillion in June. He spoke privately with Pope Francis on Oct. 3, the eve of the feast day of the pope’s namesake, St. Francis of Assisi — known for embracing radical poverty.

The technology executive has been in Italy since Sept. 28. He first traveled to Naples, where he launched the first Apple Developer Academy in Europe and received an honorary degree from the University of Naples Federico II.

Cook told students in Naples about his excitement for the future of artificial intelligence technologies, predicting that it will be a “fundamental, horizontal technology that will touch everything in our lives.”

“I’m super excited about augmented reality. … So I think that if you, and this will happen clearly not too long from now, if you look back at a point in time, you know, zoom out to the future and look back, you’ll wonder how you led your life without augmented reality,” he said.

Pope Francis has also spoken about the future of artificial intelligence. In November 2020, the pope invited Catholics around the world, as part of his monthly prayer intention, to pray that robotics and artificial intelligence always remain at the service of human beings — rather than the other way around.

The Pontifical Academy for Life has also signed a declaration calling for the ethical and responsible use of AI.

Pope Francis has often met with tech company executives in recent years. Elon Musk, the head of Tesla and SpaceX, posted a photo with the pope on Twitter in June.

The pope previously met Cook in 2016, a year in which Pope Francis also hosted the CEO of Google (Eric Schmidt at the time) and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at the Vatican.

Pope Francis appeals to Putin for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine

Pope Francis dedicated nearly all of his Angelus address on Oct. 1 to the war in Ukraine. / Vatican News

Rome Newsroom, Oct 2, 2022 / 06:32 am (CNA).

Pope Francis made a direct appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin for an immediate ceasefire on Sunday, imploring him to end the “spiral of violence and death” in Ukraine.

Speaking from the window of the Apostolic Palace on Oct. 2, the pope dedicated nearly all of his Angelus address to the war in Ukraine.

“I deeply deplore the grave situation that has arisen in recent days … It increases the risk of nuclear escalation, giving rise to fears of uncontrollable and catastrophic consequences worldwide,” Pope Francis said.

“My appeal is addressed first and foremost to the president of the Russian Federation, imploring him to stop this spiral of violence and death, also for the sake of his people,” he said.

The pope also appealed to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to be “open to serious proposals for peace” and to the international community to “do everything possible to bring an end to the war without allowing themselves to be drawn into dangerous escalations.”

He said: “After seven months of hostilities, let us use all diplomatic means, even those that may not have been used so far, to bring an end to this terrible tragedy. War in itself is a mistake and a horror.”

The pope’s five-minute speech on the war in Ukraine from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square was a departure from his typical Sunday routine. The pope usually gives a reflection on the Church’s Sunday Gospel reading before praying the Angelus, a traditional Marian prayer, and speaking about his prayer intentions.

Pope Francis underlined that he chose to devote his entire reflection to Ukraine because the course of the war has “has become so serious, devastating, and threatening that it has caused great concern.”

“I am saddened by the rivers of blood and tears spilled in these months,” he said.

“I am grieved by the thousands of victims, especially children, and the destruction that has left many people and families homeless and threatens vast territories with cold and hunger. Such actions can never be justified, never!”

The pope has frequently mentioned Ukraine in his prayers at the end of his public audiences since the war began in February. Recently in a conversation with Jesuit priests during his trip to Kazakhstan, the pope said that he had attempted to help a prisoner swap between Ukraine and Russia.

“In the name of God and in the name of the sense of humanity that dwells in every heart, I renew my call for an immediate ceasefire,” Pope Francis said in his appeal.

“Let there be a halt to arms, and let us seek the conditions for negotiations that will lead to solutions that are not imposed by force, but consensual, just and stable. And they will be so if they are based on respect for the sacrosanct value of human life, as well as the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each country, and the rights of minorities and legitimate concerns.”

At the end of his Angelus address dedicated to Ukraine, the pope said that he has also been praying for the people of Florida and Cuba hit by Hurricane Ian

“May the Lord receive the victims, give consolation and hope to those who suffer, and sustain the solidarity efforts,” he said.

Francis added that he was praying for the victims of a stampede at the end of a soccer match in Indonesia, where at least 174 people died, according to the Associated Press.

Pope Francis also offered a reminder to the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square that a new light display on the life of St. Peter will be projected on the Vatican basilica each night for the first two weeks of October. Andrea Bocelli is slated to sing at the show’s inauguration on the night of Oct. 2.

More than ‘the nuts and bolts’: World’s newest bishops talk synodality in Rome

St. Peter's Basilica / Simone Savoldi / Unsplash (CC0)

Rome Newsroom, Oct 2, 2022 / 03:00 am (CNA).

The world’s newest bishops gathered in Rome last month to learn more about what it means to be a Catholic bishop.

While the week’s presentations spanned a range of topics, three U.S. bishops who attended told CNA that synodality emerged as a key theme.

The Vatican’s annual formation course, sometimes known by the nickname “baby bishop school,” was canceled for two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic — making the 2022 edition the largest yet, with approximately 330 participating bishops across two sessions.

“People kind of picture baby bishop school as nuts and bolts, like ‘how to be a bishop.’ It’s not that at all,” Bishop Erik Pohlmeier of the Diocese of St. Augustine, Florida, told CNA at the end of the course.

“It’s kind of whatever the Church is talking about at that time, bringing that to the bishops that are coming on board,” he said. “The synodal process has been ... a hallmark of conversation for the last couple of years, so now as we’re new bishops ... the reflections revolved around that.”

The seminar’s first session was primarily attended by bishops consecrated in 2019 and 2020, while the second session was mostly those who joined the ranks in 2021 and the first part of 2022.

Thirty-nine U.S. bishops and auxiliary bishops attended, divided between the two weeks.

Pohlmeier was the freshest U.S. bishop to join. He was ordained a bishop on July 22 — just two days after his 51st birthday and seven weeks before arriving in Rome for the Sept. 12–19 course. 

Speaking to CNA in Rome on Sept. 19, Pohlmeier said that as a new bishop, there are many things you do not know, but that’s where one’s fellow bishops come in.

“Every bishop knows other bishops,” he explained, like the bishop of the diocese where they served as a priest. “And they’re always, I mean to a person, helpful.”

Bishop Gregory Gordon, the first-ever auxiliary bishop of Las Vegas, Nevada, told CNA on Sept. 19 that the U.S. bishops’ conference also organizes meetings between bishops of the same ordination year, or “class,” as a way to build fraternity and create a network of support.

Bishop Gregory Gordon greets Pope Francis at the end of the course Sept. 19, 2022. Vatican Media
Bishop Gregory Gordon greets Pope Francis at the end of the course Sept. 19, 2022. Vatican Media

While the formal theme of this year’s seminar was how to announce the Gospel in changing times, Pohlmeier, Gordon, and Bishop Louis Tylka of Peoria, Illinois, said the unofficial topic of the week was synodality.

What they talked about

“We’re in the midst of the synod,” Tylka, who attended the seminar Sept. 1–8, told CNA by phone from his diocese. So the course, he added, focused on questions such as: “What does it mean to be a synodal Church? What is the ministry of the bishop in relation to that?”

Care for the planet and one’s neighbor, themes important to Pope Francis’ pontificate, were also a major part of the seminar, Tylka said.

The week’s presentations also covered child protection and the sexual abuse crisis.

“That’s one of those things that I think we will take home, saying we will be very, very careful not to neglect,” Gordon said. 

Some talks, Pohlmeier noted, were directly about synodality and what it means. At the same time, those of a more practical nature, such as canon law for bishops, “would always include some comment on the synodal approach.”

“You’re going to get different articulations of what that means depending on who you talk to, but in general, my understanding is that it is more of a listening posture,” the St. Augustine bishop said.

A bishop takes a photo of Pope Francis during their encounter on Sept. 19, 2022. Vatican Media
A bishop takes a photo of Pope Francis during their encounter on Sept. 19, 2022. Vatican Media

Bishop Gordon said Pope Francis himself modeled this listening attitude in their meeting with him on the final day of formation.

In the nearly two-hour meeting, he said most of the time was spent with the pope answering the bishops’ questions. “So you finished the course, [the pope] said. You’ve heard a lot already... Now I want to hear from you.”

This was Gordon’s big takeaway from the week: “It has to go back to the Holy Father’s words to us as he was answering our own questions, you know, asking us to exercise that episcopal closeness.”

The week also included time for communal prayer, Mass, adoration, and confession. 

Bishop Tylka of Peoria said his personal opinion is that “a big part of synodality is the willingness and openness to create space for people to share their stories, to share their own encounters with Christ, to share their own experiences of how life is going.”

“So I think the role of the bishop clearly is to model that openness and that willingness to engage in dialogue,” he said.

What (not) to wear

But there is also a lighter side to being a new bishop, as Pohlmeier evidenced with an amusing scene from the end of the week.

“Here we are, brand new and so ... we got instructions on what we’re supposed to wear to meet the pope,” Pohlmeier said.

He explained that bishops in the Latin Church have two main styles of a full-length garment called a cassock. The new bishops were told to meet the pope. They should wear a black cassock with red trim, a purple fascia, and a purple zucchetto. (There is also a purple cassock with red trim for special liturgical events.)

Pohlmeier said it was funny to watch the bishops get ready for Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica and, afterward, the meeting with Pope Francis. Many of them were helping each other figure out where each piece of the complicated attire went — including the tall headpiece, called a mitre, which bishops wear to denote their office.

“Guys are literally opening up bags that haven’t been opened with miters from right there, from Euroclero,” Pohlmeier said, pointing over his shoulder in the direction of a clerical supply store next to St. Peter’s Square.

“You could see everybody that bought one this morning because they all matched,” he chuckled. “There were several people that were literally opening it up and pulling it out of the package and trying to get it on straight, and get things attached right, and not sure what clips go where and what’s right.”

“Those kinds of things are funny,” Pohlmeier said, “but nobody just tells you, ‘OK, buy this stuff, here’s what you need.’”

8 quotes from saints on guardian angels

null / Petra Homeier/Shutterstock

Denver Newsroom, Oct 2, 2022 / 00:00 am (CNA).

During the month of October, the Catholic Church celebrates guardian angels.

Guardian angels are instruments of providence who protect their charges from suffering serious harm, and care for their salvation.

It is a theologically certain teaching that every one one of the faithful has his or her own guardian angel from baptism, and it is the general teaching of theologians that every human person has his or her own guardian angel from birth.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their [angels’] watchful care and intercession. ‘Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.’ Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God” (CCC, 336).

Several of our greatest saints have also shared their thoughts on guardian angels. Here’s what they had to say:

St. John Vianney: “Our guardian angels are our most faithful friends, because they are with us day and night, always and everywhere. We ought often to invoke them.”

St. John Bosco: “When tempted, invoke your angel. He is more eager to help you than you are to be helped. Ignore the devil and do not be afraid of him; he trembles and flees at the sight of your guardian angel.”

St. Jerome: “How great is the dignity of souls, that each person has from birth received an angel to protect it.”

St. Basil the Great: “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd, leading him to life.”

St. Bernard of Clairvaux: “We should show our affection for the angels, for one day they will be our co-heirs just as here below they are our guardians and trustees appointed and set over us by the father.”

St. Francis de Sales: “Make yourself familiar with the angels, and behold them frequently in spirit. Without being seen, they are present with you.”

St. Josemaría Escrivá: “If you remembered the presence of your angel and the angels of your neighbors, you would avoid many of the foolish things which slip into your conversations.”

St. John Cassian: “Cherubim means knowledge in abundance. They provide an everlasting protection for that which appeases God, namely, the calm of your heart, and they will cast a shadow of protection against all the attacks of malign spirits.”