1. Vatican’s point man on family says Church needs to go positive.

By Elise Harris, Catholic News Agency, May 9, 2017

The Vatican’s point-man on family and life issues says rather than just complaining about problems we see in society, we need to focus on the Church’s rich, beautiful take on marriage and the family.

“We criticize the times we live in, we criticize governments about laws…this is an opportunity to do something positive for the family, not just to sit back and say ‘they’re all wrong,’” Cardinal Kevin Farrell told CNA May 3.

Prefect of the Vatican’s new mega-dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, Cardinal Farrell was one of three Americans to get a red hat from Pope Francis during his Nov. 19 consistory. He was previously the bishop of Dallas before being tapped by Francis to lead the new department.

The cardinal is in charge of preparing for three major events that will take place in 2018 and 2019: the World Meeting of Families, which will take place Aug. 22-26, 2018, in Dublin, Ireland; the Synod on youth in October 2018 and the Jan. 22-27, 2019, international World Youth Day encounter in Panama.

Pope Francis’s Amoris Laetitia will form the basis for the catechesis sessions during the World Meeting of Families, “but we will accentuate the positive,” he said.


2. In the shadow of Romero, Latin American Church renews call to mission.

By Austen Ivereigh, Crux, May 9, 2017

There is a whiff of history hanging over the gathering of the 22 bishops’ conferences of Latin America this week in San Salvador, more than a hint that this is a “favorable time” for the Church of that continent.

The May 9-15 assembly is happening in El Salvador, because it’s the centenary Thursday of the birth of Oscar Romero, Latin America’s most famous modern martyr, and icon of the “Church of the poor.”

The former Archbishop of San Salvador, shot dead while celebrating Mass in March 1980 after speaking out against the bloody repression of the poor, was finally beatified two years ago, after Francis unblocked his cause, long stalled in Rome at the insistence of Salvador’s nuncio and ruling class. Francis is expected to declare Romero a saint later this year.

This week is also the 50th anniversary of the 1968 CELAM assembly at Medellín that launched the Latin-American Church in its modern form, committing it to a historic task of liberation. Although the concept led to fierce disagreements in the wake of the Cuban revolution, the Latin-American bishops’ pledge to stand with their poor majority against all the threats to their wellbeing is now, arguably, firmer than ever.

This week’s meeting will have a contingent of bishops from the U.S. and Canada to discuss a new “synod of the Americas” – to take place not in Rome but in, say, Central America or Mexico. It would allow the Churches of north and south to speak with a single voice on key global issues such as immigration, climate change, violence, drugs and threats to marriage and family.


3. Book Review – “Littlest Suffering Souls”.

By Andrea Picciotti-Bayer, Catholic News Agency, May 8, 2017

Austen Ruse … in his new book Littlest Suffering Souls recounts the lives of three saintly children of our times who held a profound love for God, suffered greatly, and brought immense joy to those around them. All three children were, as Cardinal Burke states in his Foreword to the book, “examples of holiness and instruments of God’s grace for those who knew them.”

Austen Ruse’s Littlest Suffering Souls offers much in the way of spiritual reading. The little children whose lives are highlighted are “witnesses to the proposition that all human life has meaning and dignity, even and especially those lives we may not fully understand.” The stories of their joy in the midst of suffering are a great reminder that when facing whatever kind of contradiction here on earth, we need simply place our trust in Christ. Brendan of Great Falls, Audrey of La Celle Saint Cloud, and Margaret of Mclean, pray for us.


4. Top Vatican scientist calls on scientists who believe to ‘come out’.

By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, May 8, 2017

There’s an episode of “The Simpsons” that pivots on the discovery of a fossil that appears to be in the form of an angel, which triggers a round of religious fervor until it’s revealed to be a publicity stunt for the opening of a new mall.

This being America, the affair gave rise to a lawsuit in which a judge places a restraining order on science, ordering it to stay 500 feet away from religion at all times. The scene reflected the popular conception that science and religion are natural enemies, and that things turn combustible whenever they intersect.

Brother Guy Consolmagno, a Jesuit who directs the Vatican Observatory, has spent the better part of his career trying to debunk that view of things, and now he’s hosting a major conference that puts an exclamation point on the idea: A May 9-12 summit at the papal summer residence in Castelgandolfo, which is also home to the Vatican Observatory (to escape the distracting lights of Rome), on “Black Holes, Gravitational Waves and Space-Time Singularities.”

“The Vatican Observatory was founded in 1891 by Pope Leo XII to show that the Church supports good science, and to do that we have to have good science,” he said, arguing that’s what this gathering is about. He noted that among the speakers will be a former Nobel Prize winner in physics and a former Wolf Prize winner.


5. Vatican celebrates big bang to dispel faith-science conflict.

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, May 8, 2017, 11:11 AM

The Vatican Observatory has invited leading scientists and cosmologists to talk black holes, gravitational waves and space-time singularities as it honors the late Jesuit cosmologist considered one of the fathers of the idea that the universe began with a gigantic explosion.

The TuesdayFriday conference honoring Monsignor George Lemaitre is being held at the Vatican Observatory, founded by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 to help correct the notion that the Roman Catholic Church was hostile to science.

The head of the Vatican Observatory, Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, says Lemaitre’s research proves that you can believe in God and the big-bang theory.

“Lemaitre himself was very careful to remind people — including Pope Pius XII — that the creative act of God is not something that happened 13.8 billion years ago. It’s something that happens continually,” Consolmagno said Monday.