17 May 2018
A new feast to honor Mary as Mother of the Church will be observed the Monday after Pentecost. Marian devotion is widespread among Christians around the world. Here, an altar server prepares for the liturgy near a statue of Mary in a Syriac Catholic church in Stockholm, Sweden. (photo: Magnus Aronson)
On 8 March this year Pope Francis initiated a new feast to honor the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus. The feast — which will be observed on the Monday after Pentecost Sunday — will honor Mary as Mother of the Church. Monday 21 May 2018 will be the first observance of this feast in the Catholic Church.
The number of titles given to Mary in the Roman Catholic Church almost goes beyond counting. Some, like Mother of God (Greek: theotokos) are extremely ancient, while others like Mother of the Church seem more recent. In a sense,”Mary, Mother of the Church” is a title both ancient and recent.
Looking back, we find that mention of ”Mary, Mother of the Church” is rare in Catholic history. In 1895, Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical ”Adjutricem populi” (“Helper of the People”) referred to Mary as “Mother of the Church and Queen of the Apostles.” But we rarely hear mention of that title again until the Second Vatican Council.
There, it appears in the Vatican II document ”Lumen Gentium” (the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, 21 November 1964). After dealing with the church from almost every aspect, the bishops at the Council decided to add a chapter (VIII) on “Our Lady.” Although the Council does not give him credit, the German theologian Hugo Rahner in 1944 showed that Ambrose (ca. 340-397), bishop of Milan and a Church Father, saw in Mary a type/image of the church. The Council refers to Ambrose and this teaching and develops it.
The title ”Mary, Mother of the Church,” as understood by Vatican II, is extremely important. The church at the same Council committed itself, among other things, to ecumenism — to the work of restoring unity to Christians. The Council was aware that there have been and continue to be different attitudes towards Mary among Christians. Protestant Christians have sometimes disapproved of Marian devotion, seeing it as taking away from the unique role of Christ. Some have even seen the devotion as idolatrous.
Vatican II was aware not only of the deep importance of devotion to Mary, but also aware of some of the excesses that had grown up over the centuries. The Council “strongly urges theologians and preachers … to be careful to refrain as much from all false exaggeration as from too summary an attitude in considering the special dignity of the Mother of God” (LG par. 67). It reminds the faithful “that true devotion consists neither in sterile or transitory affection, nor in a certain vain credulity, but proceeds from true faith.” (ibid.)
This title recognizes that faith, and recognizes Mary as the mother of all Christians. Her maternal embrace enfolds all under mantel. Modern popes have used the term repeatedly; since 1964, the title ”Mary, Mother of the Church” has been used by every pope since Pope John XXIII.
But it wasn’t until now, with this new feast, that Pope Francis has given it expression in the devotional life of the church.
Byzantine and Eastern Orthodox Christians — people with whom CNEWA works closely — have a great devotion to Mary. However, it is a devotion that is different — though no less intense — from that of Roman Catholics. We’ll explore more of that in the coming weeks.
It would be easy to believe that Pope Francis has just added another Marian feast to a liturgical calendar that is perhaps already overburdened with such feasts (a cursory reading of the liturgical calendar shows 15 Marian feasts a year). However, that is not the case. In fact, by instituting this feast, Pope Francis has countered a certain centrifugal force in Catholic Marian devotion. This centrifugal force can unmoor Mary from Christ, placing emphasis on specific geographical locations, acculturations, etc., which have at times occurred. ”Mary, Mother of the Church” focuses attention on Mary and her role within the church (very similar to the theology of Ambrose) and links her closely — indeed, inseparably — to Christ.
In the next two weeks we will look at how two ancient traditions — Catholic in the west and Orthodox in the east — revere and honor Mary, Mother of the Lord and Mother of the Church. Each tradition can enrich and also act as a corrective to the veneration of Mary among Christians.
17 May 2018
Tags: Catholic Mary
Pope Francis greets new ambassadors to the Holy See during an audience in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican on 17 May. Welcoming new ambassadors from seven countries, the pope said that migration “has an intrinsically ethical dimension.” (photo: CNS/Vatican Media)
Diplomats have a duty to uphold human rights for all people, especially those fleeing their countries due to war, poverty and environmental challenges, Pope Francis told new ambassadors to the Vatican.
The issue of migration “has an intrinsically ethical dimension that transcends national borders and narrow conceptions of security and self-interest,” the pope said on 17 May.
“None of us can ignore our moral responsibility to challenge the ‘globalization of indifference’ that all too often looks the other way in the face of tragic situations of injustice calling for an immediate humanitarian response,” he said.
The pope’s comments came in a speech welcoming new ambassadors to the Vatican from Tanzania, Lesotho, Pakistan, Mongolia, Denmark, Ethiopia and Finland.
Speaking to the group of diplomats, the pope said the work of international diplomacy “is grounded in the shared conviction” of the unity and dignity of all men and women.
The United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, he said, is a call for solidarity with “those suffering the scourge of poverty, disease and oppression.”
“Among the most pressing of the humanitarian issues facing the international community at present is the need to welcome, protect, promote and integrate all those fleeing from war and hunger, or forced by discrimination, persecution, poverty and environmental degradation to leave their homelands,” the pope said.
While acknowledging the “complexity and delicacy of the political and social issues involved,” Pope Francis called on the international community work toward crafting decisions and policies “marked above all by compassion foresight and courage.”
“For her part, the church, convinced of our responsibility for one another, promotes every effort to cooperate, without violence and without deceit, in building up the world in a spirit of genuine brotherhood and peace,” the pope said.
17 May 2018
Tags: Pope Francis Migrants
Palestinians run for cover from Israeli fire and tear gas at the Israel-Gaza border during a protest against the U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem on 14 May. (photo: CNS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa, Reuters)
Europe’s bishops lend their support to calls for peace in Middle East (Vatican News) Europe’s Catholic bishops on Wednesday lent their support to the appeal of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land for peace in region, stressing the urgency of protecting life at all costs …
U.N. report says chronic hunger on the rise around the world (Vatican News) The report by the United Nations World Food Program (W.F.P.) examines these “spreading and intensifying” food crises around the world. Entitled “World Food Assistance, Preventing Food Crises,” the new report by the W.F.P. warns that chronic hunger is increasing around the world and food crises are spreading and intensifying. It asks what causes these crises to break out, what determines their scale and how they might be prevented…
Hindus oppose Muslims praying in India’s public places (UCANews.com) Hindu groups’ opposition to Muslims using public places for congregational prayers is creating tension in India, with some suspecting there is a hidden agenda afoot linked to the national elections expected early next year. An amalgam of 22 leading pro-Hindu groups have intensified their calls for a total ban on the country’s 172 million Muslims conducting congregational prayers on public grounds and some roads…
Byzantine prayer app now available (ByzCath.org) A new and unique daily prayer app is now available from Eastern Christian Publications for iOS and Android devices. The app is titled “ECPubs” and is available for free download from either the Apple Store or Google Play. This is the only Byzantine Catholic app available in English with all the changeable prayer texts included for the Daily Office…
16 May 2018
Tags: India Middle East Hunger Hindu
Little Mariam visited CNEWA’s office in Amman just two months after she was born. (photo: CNEWA)
The CNEWA team in Amman, Jordan, was happily surprised recently by a small visitor — one who owes her life, in no small part, to CNEWA’s donors. We’d like you to meet one of our success stories, 2-month-old Mariam.
Before Mariam was born, her parents came to CNEWA, looking for help. The mother was older, and it was clear she needed a Caesarean delivery. The CNEWA staff directed the family to the Italian Hospital, supported by CNEWA in Amman, and helped pay for the surgery.
The delivery went well, but the doctors discovered that Mariam has a small hole in her heart. She is being treated with drugs and, in time, it is hoped the hole will close and Mariam will have a long life.
What a blessing to see Mariam alive and well — and to see the joy on her parents’ faces.
So often, we at CNEWA start to feel a bond with those we serve, especially refugees in need of help. It’s not just a matter of providing food or milk or health care. It is a matter of love — as Jesus commanded us, “Love one another, as I have loved you.”
Mariam and her parents stopped by CNEWA’s Amman office to express their gratitude. (photo: CNEWA)
16 May 2018
Tags: CNEWA Jordan Amman
Pope Francis met with representatives of Dharmic religions — including Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and Sikh — at the Vatican on Wednesday 16 May. He said religious leaders need to foster “a culture of encounter … at the service of life, human dignity and the care of creation.” (photo: Vatican Media)
16 May 2018
Tags: Pope Francis Interreligious Dialogue
Pope Francis passes a crucifix as he walks down steps during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican 16 May. During his audience, the pope called for efforts to stop the “spiral of violence” in the Middle East. (photo: CNS/Paul Haring)
Pope issues plea for peace in Middle East (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Wednesday once more expressed his deep concern at the worsening violence in the Middle East. ”I am very concerned at the escalation of tension in the Holy Land and in the Middle East, and the spiral of violence that is moving away further from the path of peace, dialogue and negotiation,” he said at the end of his general audience in Rome’s St. Peter’s Square…
Syrian rebels leave last besieged area (Reuters) The remaining fighters started to withdraw from the last rebel-held enclave in central Syria on Wednesday, state television reported, sealing the government’s control over the area and opening a major stretch of the country’s most important highway…
Lebanon’s president: country will not wait for a political solution on refugees (Middle East Monitor) Lebanese President Michel Aoun said that his country refuses to wait for a political solution before returning the Syrian refugees to their homeland. “We are surprised by the position of some parties which obstruct this return or do not encourage it,” Aoun said during a meeting with foreign delegations in the presidential palace. “Lebanon faces many challenges with 1.8 million displaced people on its territory since 2015,” he said…
Shi’ite cleric’s win puts Iran to the test in Iraq (Reuters) Already pressured by the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Iran faces a major test in managing Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al Sadr, a formidable opponent who beat Tehran’s longtime allies to achieve a shock victory in Iraq’s parliamentary election…
Pope meets with Buddhists, Hindus, others at Vatican (Vatican News) Pope Francis on Wednesday briefly met a delegation of Buddhists, Hindus, Jains and Sikhs who participated in a one-day conference in the Vatican, and another group of Buddhist monks from Thailand...
15 May 2018
Tags: Iraq Pope Francis Lebanon Middle East
Mourners carry the body of 8-month-old Palestinian Laila al Ghandour, who died after inhaling tear gas at the Israel-Gaza border during a 15 May protest against the U.S embassy move to Jerusalem. (photo: CNS/Mohammed Salem, Reuters)
As the world witnesses “another outburst of hatred and violence, which is once again bleeding all over the Holy Land,” the head of Jerusalem’s Latin Patriarchate called for prayers for peace.
“We need to pray more for peace and our conversion and for all,” said Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, apostolic administrator of the patriarchate, or diocese.
The Associated Press reported that the same day the United States was inaugurating its embassy in Jerusalem, Israeli forces shot and killed 57 Palestinians and injured more than 2,700 during mass protests along the Gaza border 14 May. In addition, a baby died from tear gas inhalation, the Gaza Health Ministry said, bringing the death toll to 58.
“The lives of so many young people have once again been shut down and hundreds of families are mourning their loved ones, dead or wounded,” said the statement from Archbishop Pizzaballa. “As in a kind of vicious circle, we must condemn all forms of violence, any cynical use of human lives and disproportionate violence. Once again we are forced by circumstances to plead and cry out for justice and peace!”
He announced that 19 May, the eve of Pentecost, the church would hold a prayer vigil at the Church of St. Stephen at L’Ecole Biblique. He asked the entire diocese to dedicate a day of prayer and fasting for the peace of Jerusalem and that the liturgy on Pentecost be dedicated to prayer for peace.
“We must truly pray to the Spirit to change our hearts to better understand his will and to give us the strength to continue to work for justice and peace,” the archbishop said.
Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital and now feel that, with its embassy there, the U.S. cannot be a fair broker in the peace process with Israel.
Many Israelis see opening the embassy as the long-awaited official recognition of Jerusalem as their capital and the fulfillment of a promise made by numerous U.S. presidents to move the building from Tel Aviv.
15 May 2018
Tags: Gaza Strip/West Bank Palestine Israel Holy Land Israeli-Palestinian conflict
In the video above, ambulances in Cairo carry caskets with the remains of martyred Egyptian Copts. They were executed by ISIS on a beach in Libya in 2015. (video: Al Jazeera/YouTube)
Remains of Egyptian Copts executed by ISIS arrive in Egypt (Libya Herald) The remains of 20 Egyptian Copts ceremoniously murdered while being recorded on video by the terrorist organization ISIL during its control of Sirte, were returned to Egypt yesterday. Their remains were flown from Misrata airport after completion of the relevant procedures by Libyan authorities, Libyan state news agency LANA reports…
Uneasy calm falls over Gaza after Monday violence (The New York Times) Gaza awoke on Tuesday to a grim agenda: Funerals for protesters killed along the fence bordering Israel, including one for an 8-month-old baby girl overcome by tear gas; and still-frenzied work treating the thousands of people wounded, in hospitals so overrun with patients that tents were set up in their courtyards. There was also uncertainty about whether the demonstrations would grow, fade, or give way to an outright armed conflict. The death toll in the protests reached 60 overnight…
Delhi archbishop launches election prayer campaign (UCANews.com) Delhi Archdiocese has started a year-long prayer campaign ahead of federal elections, saying India faces a turbulent political future that threatens the country’s democracy. In a pastoral letter read out on 13 May in all the national capital’s parishes, Archbishop Anil Couto of Delhi called on Catholics in his archdiocese to start a campaign of prayer and Friday fasting ahead of elections in due in April 2019…
Modi’s party claims victory in crucial Indian state election (UCANews.com) Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party emerged wining more seats in a crucial election in the southern Indian state of Karnataka in a major setback to their rival Congress party, setting the tone for national elections early next year…
Syria’s lost generation: school kids who can’t go to school (Haaretz) Syria’s Education Ministry recently published detailed directives on finding and punishing students who have forged diplomas — another action by which the regime seeks to show that the areas under its control are being properly run. Actually, these directives are meaningless. The real details on the number of forgers are unavailable, and the need to forge documents stems not only from a desire to cheat, but from the loss of documents during the war, documents students need to get jobs or complete their studies…
14 May 2018
Tags: India Egypt Gaza Strip/West Bank ISIS
Archbishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara visited CNEWA’s New York offices Monday morning. (photo: CNEWA)
This morning, we were privileged to welcome to CNEWA’s New York offices Archbishop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara, who heads the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of Faridabad in India.
It’s not a small job.
His eparchy stretches across six states in the “great north” of India, bordering Nepal — ”at 19,000 feet, it’s the highest diocese in the world,” Msgr. John E. Kozar, CNEWA’s president, explained by way of introduction. The territory embraces about one million square kilometers (just under 400,000 square miles) and counts a population of 120 million people — nearly all of them non-Christian.
But into this vast territory, he is bringing the Gospel — and with the help of CNEWA and our generous donors, helping the message of Jesus to be heard.
As he told the CNEWA staff during a meeting this morning, his main focus at the moment is Punjab, a region on the northern border of India with a culture and a government that are tolerant. Unlike many other parts of India, Punjab does not have an “anti-conversion bill” on the books — that is, a law whereby anyone who is converted without the knowledge and approval of civil authorities can be arrested. Punjab permits Christianity to be taught and practiced, and Archbishop Kuriakose is helping lead the way.
With CNEWA’s support, he has just established the 19th mission in the area. He described how these missions work.
“We rent out a building,” he explained, adding that conditions are, by Western standards, primitive. “In many houses, priests do not even have running water. They have to take a bucket, collect water, come to the mission house where they live. Often, in the work, they are helped by catechists. Priests do not always master the language, so we have one or two paid full-time catechists. Then I have a seminary student who is an intern. All these go to the villages and they make a presence. They have singing, they spend time with them, praying with them.”
There is also great effort to attract vocations.
“To go to such a primitive, remote area, to work in such conditions, you need dedicated priests,” he told us. “This is my blessing. I have young people who are eager. We are promoting a kind of priestly adventure. ‘Come here,’ we say. ‘Live here three years.’ And they are coming.”
“What he is doing is wonderful,” Msgr. Kozar said of the archbishop’s work. “He’s using the resources of the south, by inviting them on this ‘priestly adventure,’ to come and learn about a whole new dimension of the church in India, a church that is hungry for people to know Jesus, and to form the local church up in the ‘great north.’
“This is really the model for what evangelization is supposed to be.”
Archbishhop Kuriakose Bharanikulangara and Msgr. John E. Kozar. (photo: CNEWA)
14 May 2018
Tags: India CNEWA Evangelization
Carl Hetu, national director of CNEWA Canada, meets with Ethiopian Catholic Bishop Lesanu-Christos Matheos of Bahir Dar-Dessie. (photo: CNEWA)
Today I had the pleasure of meeting with Ethiopian Catholic Bishop Lesanu-Christos Matheos.
Three years ago he was named the bishop of the Eparchy (Diocese) of Bahir Dar-Dessie, in Ethiopia. It is a new and developing Eparchy that is equivalent in size to Italy.
He was also given, by the Ethiopian Bishops Conference, the responsibility of caring for all Ethiopian Catholics living outside the country. It was for this purpose that he was in Canada and why I had the opportunity to meet with him.
We were happy to meet, as CNEWA has been supporting several of Bishop Matheos’ ministries over the years. A couple of years ago we helped him build a modest church in an isolated part of his Eparchy for the Gumuz tribal people. We also helped in providing Catechesis ministry to this same tribe. He joyfully shared that, last year alone, more than 800 people were baptized through the works of these ministries.
CNEWA has also been supporting his youth ministry initiatives, particularly those on university campuses. This is a ministry that is very important to him, so after our meeting I dropped him off at the headquarters of Catholic Christian Outreach — a university student movement dedicated to evangelization, with a wealth of experience and written materials from which he hopes to draw ideas.
Thank you to CNEWA’s donors who have supported our important work in Ethiopia over the years. If you would like to make a donation towards our Ethiopian program please click here.
For more information on Bishop Matheos Mission with the Gumuz you can visit this blog post.
To support CNEWA’s Ethiopian program please click here.
Tags: CNEWA Canada Ethiopian Catholic Church