Catholic News

USCCB News News from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

  • Faith, hope, love are antidote to pride, pope says at audience
    by PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE on April 24, 2024 at 8:30 am

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While the virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance are the marks of a righteous individual, the virtues of faith, hope and love emphasize a connection to other people fueled by belief in God and reliance on prayer, Pope Francis said. "The Christian is never alone. He or she does good not because of a titanic effort of personal commitment, but because, as a humble disciple, he or she walks behind the master Jesus," the pope said April 24 at his weekly general audience. Bundled up in a coat on a chilly spring morning, Pope Francis continued his audience talks about virtue, distinguishing between the "cardinal" -- meaning "hinge" -- virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance, which are essential for living a righteous life, and the "theological" or New Testament virtues of faith, hope and charity. Pope Francis greets visitors as he rides the popemobile around St. Peter's Square at the Vatican before his weekly general audience April 24, 2024. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez) The cardinal virtues were espoused and promoted by ancient philosophers well before the development of Christianity, the pope said. "Honesty was preached as a civic duty, wisdom as the rule for actions, courage as the fundamental ingredient for a life that tends toward the good and moderation as the necessary measure not to be overwhelmed by excesses." Christianity, he said, did not replace that ethical heritage, but "enhanced, purified, and integrated" it with the teachings of Jesus about faith, hope and love. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the pope noted, says the three theological virtues "are the foundation of Christian moral activity; they animate it and give it its special character. They inform and give life to all the moral virtues." Those virtues, he said, also are "the great antidote to self-sufficiency" and prevent a good person from falling into pride. "Pride is a poison; it is a powerful poison: one drop of it is enough to spoil an entire life marked by goodness," the pope said. If people perform good works only "to exalt themselves, can they still call themselves virtuous? No," he said. Pope Francis gives his blessing at the end of his weekly general audience as Msgr. Luis Maria Rodrigo Ewart, an aide, holds the pope's prayer book in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican April 24, 2024. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez) "Goodness is not only an end, but also a way. Goodness needs a lot of discretion, a lot of kindness," the pope said. "Above all, goodness needs to be stripped of that sometimes too unwieldy presence that is our self." Greeting Polish pilgrims, Pope Francis noted that April 27 is the 10th anniversary of the canonization of St. John Paul II. "Looking at his life, we can see what man can achieve by accepting and developing within himself the gifts of God: faith, hope and charity." Amid an ongoing debate about liberalizing the nation's abortion laws, Pope Francis asked Polish Catholics to "remain faithful to his legacy. Promote life and do not be deceived by the culture of death." Expressing his ongoing concern about wars in Ukraine, the Middle East and Myanmar, Pope Francis encouraged people to ask, through the intercession of St. John Paul, "for the gift of peace to which he, as pope, was so committed." Pride 'poisons' righteousness, pope says   A look at Pope Francis' April 24 general audience.

  • Jesus laid down his life out of love for each person, pope says
    by PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE on April 23, 2024 at 8:30 am

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When Jesus called himself the "good shepherd," he was telling people not only that he was their guide, but that they were important to him and "that he thinks of each of us as the love of his life," Pope Francis said. "Consider this: for Christ, I am important, he thinks of me, I am irreplaceable, worth the infinite price of his life," which he laid down for the salvation of all, the pope said April 21 before reciting the "Regina Coeli" prayer with visitors in St. Peter's Square. Jesus was not just saying something nice, the pope said. Each believer should recognize that "he truly gave his life for me; he died and rose again for me. Why? Because he loves me, and he finds in me a beauty that I often do not see myself." Many people think of themselves as inadequate or undeserving of love, he said. Or they believe their value comes from what they have or are able to do. In the day's Gospel reading, Jn 10:11-18, "Jesus tells us that we are always infinitely worthy in his eyes," the pope said. To understand and experience the truth of that statement, Pope Francis said, "the first thing to do is to place ourselves in his presence, allowing ourselves to be welcomed and lifted up by the loving arms of our good shepherd." Pope Francis talks to visitors gathered in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 21, 2024, for his recitation of the "Regina Coeli" prayer. (CNS photo/Vatican Media) The pope asked people in the square to consider if they find or make the time each day "to embrace this assurance that gives value to my life" and "for a moment of prayer, of adoration, of praise, to be in the presence of Christ and to let myself be caressed by him." That time in prayer, he said, will remind a person that "he gave his life for you, for me, for all of us. And that for him, we are all important, each and every one of us." After reciting the "Regina Coeli," Pope Francis told the crowd that he continues to follow the tensions in Israel, Palestine and throughout the Middle East "with concern and also with grief." "I renew my appeal not to give in to the logic of vengeance and war. May the paths of dialogue and diplomacy, which can do so much, prevail," he said. "I pray every day for peace in Palestine and Israel, and I hope that these two peoples may stop suffering soon." He also asked Catholics to continue to pray for peace in Ukraine and for the people who are suffering because of the war.  

  • Pope's representative to U.S. warns of 'auto-referential' church
    by PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE on April 22, 2024 at 8:30 am

    ROME (CNS) -- The Catholic Church in the United States is grappling with a tendency to become more "auto-referential" and withdraw itself from the international stage and universal church, Pope Francis' representative to the United States said. Speaking with Catholic News Service before formally taking possession of his titular church in Rome April 21, Cardinal Christophe Pierre described the reality of the church in the United States as a "paradox." He said that while the U.S. church has "always been very faithful to the Holy Father," he also noted that "the difficulty in America, like in every country in a world which is globalized but becomes more and more individualistic, (is) to receive the message of the pope, especially to work together." "The pope feels that if we don't work together, we are not a church," he stressed. Cardinal Pierre pointed to a growing "tendency to withdraw, to be more auto-referential," both in the United States and worldwide. "We have to share our riches, our goods," particularly in an increasingly individualistic world, he told CNS. "And I see that as a challenge for the church." French Cardinal Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, proceeds into Mass in Rome April 21, 2024, to formally take possession of his titular church, the Church of St. Benedict Outside St. Paul's Gate. (CNS photo/Pablo Esparza) The cardinal was in Rome to take possession of his titular church -- the Church of St. Benedict Outside St. Paul's Gate -- to seal his cardinal's identity as a member of the clergy of Rome. In ancient times, the cardinals who elected popes were pastors of the city's parishes. The cardinal celebrated Mass in the Rome church joined by local parishioners, members of the Roman Curia, U.S. Cardinal James Harvey, ambassadors he has worked with over the course of his 47-year diplomatic career representing the Holy See and some 15 members of his family from the Brittany region of France. Joe Donnelly, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, attended the liturgy and told CNS that Cardinal Pierre "has been a bridge that has helped to break down differences" between the United States and the Vatican, praising the cardinal for "trying to connect the American church with the Vatican." At the beginning of the Mass, French Xavière Missionary Sister Nathalie Becquart, undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, read aloud Pope Francis' formal declaration from Sept. 20, 2023, granting Cardinal Pierre the title and privileges of a cardinal and assigning him his titular church. Joe Donnelly, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, attends Mass in Rome April 21, 2024, celebrated by Cardinal Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, to formally take possession of his titular church, the Church of St. Benedict Outside St. Paul's Gate. (CNS photo/Pablo Esparza) Four U.S. seminarians and two deacons studying at the Pontifical North American College in Rome served at the Mass. In his homily, Cardinal Pierre recalled how as a seminarian he initially thought his vocation was to remain a pastor in the diocese of his native Rennes, France, but that after almost 50 years of traveling the world in diplomatic service "the pope called me to give me a parish, the parish I never had." He said that while a cardinal is a "universal figure" who can "float" between many roles, "the pope says 'no,' you should not float, quite the opposite, you should have deep roots in the church." While representing the Holy See in nine countries on five continents, Cardinal Pierre said he always found "a local church, a local country, a local culture." The pectoral cross of French Cardinal Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, is seen before the cardinal celebrates Mass in Rome April 21, 2024, to formally take possession of his titular church, the Church of St. Benedict Outside St. Paul's Gate. (CNS photo/Pablo Esparza) "We encounter Christ in the church, and the church is not an idea, it is not a structure outside of our lives," he said. "The church is the presence of God in our existence." The cardinal also reflected on the role of a nuncio as a missionary, and he said that the two words that highlight Pope Francis' mission for the church are "encounter" and "conversion." "The work of a priest, of a missionary, is precisely to create this encounter, but not the encounter of myself with another person -- the encounter of Christ through me or through the other person," he said, which "helps us make a conversion." Prior to being sent to the United States in 2016, Cardinal Pierre had postings as apostolic nuncio in Mexico, in Uganda and Haiti. He also served at Vatican diplomatic missions in Switzerland, Brazil, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and New Zealand.

  • Pope Francis Names New Auxiliary Bishop of Sacramento
    by PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE on April 20, 2024 at 8:30 am

    WASHINGTON - Pope Francis has appointed Rev. Reynaldo Bersabal as auxiliary bishop of Sacramento. Bishop-elect Bersabal is a priest of the Diocese of Sacramento and currently serves as pastor of Saint Francis of Assisi parish in Sacramento, California. The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on April 20, 2024, by Cardinal Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States. The following biographical information for Bishop-elect Bersabal has been drawn from preliminary materials provided to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: Father Bersabal was born October 15, 1964, in the Philippines. He was ordained to the priesthood on April 29, 1991. Bishop-elect Bersabal’s assignments in the Philippines after ordination include: parochial vicar at Our Lady of Snows parish (1991); parish administrator at Our Lady of Guadalupe parish (1992); and parish priest at St. Francis Xavier parish (1995). Father Bersabal was incardinated into the Diocese of Sacramento on April 7, 2004. His assignments in the diocese include: parochial vicar at St. James parish in Davis (1999-2001); parochial vicar at St. Anthony parish in Sacramento (2002-2003); pastor at St. Paul parish in Sacramento (2003-2008); pastor at St. John the Baptist parish in Folsom (2008-2016); and pastor at St. James parish in Davis (2016-2022). Since 2022, he has served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi parish in Sacramento. Bishop-elect Bersabal’s priestly ministry in the Philippines has included: assessor of marriage cases for the metropolitan tribunal of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro City (1996); chancellor of the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro City (1998); and archdiocesan director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the Philippines (1998). Since his incardination into the Diocese of Sacramento, Bishop-elect Bersabal’s ministry has included: interim director of the Newman Catholic Center in Davis (2000); assistant diocesan vocation director (2000-2002); dean of the southern suburbs/city deanery (2004-2008); member and treasurer of the diocesan presbyteral council  (2007-2010); dean of the Gold Country deanery (2011-2014); dean of the Yolo Deanery (2020-2022); member of the diocesan priests personnel board (2023-present); liaison for the Filipino presbyterate (2012-present); member of the diocesan liturgical commission (2023-present); and a member of the diocese’s independent review board (2023- present). He speaks English, Spanish, and Tagalog. The Diocese of Sacramento is comprised of 46,597 square miles in the State of California and has a total population of 3,786,209 of which 1,056,698 are Catholic. ###

  • No Employer Should be Forced to Participate in Abortion, says Bishop Rhoades
    by PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE on April 19, 2024 at 8:30 am

    WASHINGTON - “No employer should be forced to participate in an employee’s decision to end the life of their child,” Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty said today, in response to newly released regulations by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The regulations implement the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which itself provides helpful accommodations to pregnant women in the workplace. The EEOC, however, has defied Congress’s intent and added a mandate for employers, including religious employers, to provide accommodations, such as leave time, for abortion. Said Bishop Rhoades, “The bipartisan Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, as written, is a pro-life law that protects the security and physical health of pregnant mothers and their preborn children. It is indefensible for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to twist the law in a way that violates the consciences of pro-life employers by making them facilitate abortions. No employer should be forced to participate in an employee’s decision to end the life of their child.” The USCCB submitted formal comments to the EEOC in September 2023 (available here) when the federal agency proposed these regulations. ###