Creation is sacred gift deserving respect, care, pope says on Earth Day
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Humanity has failed to take care of the earth and its inhabitants, sinning against God and his gift of creation, Pope Francis said. Celebrating Earth Day, which fell during the “Easter season of renewal, let us pledge to love and esteem the beautiful gift of the earth, our common home, and to care for all members of our human family,” he said during his livestreamed weekly general audience from the Vatican. The pope dedicated his catechesis April 22 to a reflection on the human and Christian responsibility to care for the earth, humanity’s common home. The day marked the 50th Earth Day, which was established in 1970 to raise public awareness and concern for the environment and its impact on people’s health and all life. This year also marks the fifth anniversary of the pope’s encyclical, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.” In his catechesis, the pope said Earth Day was “an occasion for renewing our commitment to love and care for our common home and for the weaker members of our human family.” “As the tragic coronavirus pandemic has taught us, we can overcome global challenges only by showing solidarity with one another and embracing the most vulnerable in our midst,” he said. As the Book of Genesis relates, he said, “we live in this common home as one human family in biodiversity with God’s other creatures,” and God has called on humanity to care for and respect His creation and “to offer love and compassion to our brothers and sisters, especially the most vulnerable among us, in imitation of God’s love for us, manifested in His son Jesus.”
Pope postpones International Eucharistic Congress in Budapest
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis, the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses and local organizers have agreed to postpone by one year the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress, the Vatican announced April 23. Because of the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the travel and assembly of large groups of faithful, the pope, the papal committee, congress organizers and the bishops of Hungary decided to hold the congress in Budapest in September 2021 instead of this year. The announcement came a few days after the Vatican announced the next World Meeting of Families would be pushed back until June 2022 and the next international gathering for World Youth Day would be postponed to August 2023.
Religious education continues in different format during pandemic
WASHINGTON (CNS) — When parishes announced they were no longer having public Masses or church events due to the COVID—19 pandemic, this brought typical religious education classes, youth retreats and preparation programs for first Communion and confirmation across the country to a stop or at least sent them in a slightly different direction. Parishes, unlike many schools, were unable to put in place online programs for distance learning. In many cases, parishes had to furlough their directors of religious education. The teachers of religious education classes are almost all volunteers, facing their own challenges in the current pandemic. But at diocesan and sometimes parish levels, Church leaders have been working hard to come up with creative ways to stay connected with these young people and their families and to give them resources to help the students continue to grow in faith during this time of isolation. From the start of discontinued religious education classes, a major concern for parents was if or when their children would receive first Communion or confirmation, sacraments that typically are given in late spring and that involve big groups of people. Archdiocesan directors of catechesis and religious education from coast to coast — specifically in the Washington and Los Angeles archdioceses — told Catholic News Service that they have reassured parents these sacraments will take place, but they just don’t know how or when right now. Jamie Gutierrez, coordinator of youth ministry and confirmation at St. Frances of Rome Parish in Azusa, California, said she has told parents from the start there are no clear answers about the confirmation schedule and this still might not clear when California’s stay-at-home order is lifted, but one thing is certain: confirmations will take place.
‘Spiritual adoption’ project aims to foster connection, hope amid virus
BOSTON (CNS) — The Daughters of St. Paul have launched a “spiritual adoption” project as part of their #SpiritualCommunion online response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Spiritual adoption is a specific effort within #SpiritualCommunion for those on the front lines to be spiritually supported,” the Boston-based religious congregation said in an April 22 news release. “Spiritual adoption also is designed to bring meaning, connection and hope to those feeling the effects of isolation in lockdown.” The release described the #SpiritualCommunion response overall as “an invitation sent out across the digital continent to reach and support the Catholic Church during the current pandemic.” The congregation’s spiritual adoption project is aimed at COVID-19 patients, doctors, nurses, and other first responders on the front lines as well as those in lockdown. There are three aspects: It allows participants to become spiritually adopted, to have their loved ones become spiritually adopted or to become “spiritual adopters” themselves. All participants can sign up online at www.tinyurl.com/SpirituallyAdopt. Then Daughters of St. Paul pair participants together and connect them virtually.
God is telling us ‘we have to take care of one another,’
LOS ANGELES (CNS) — As stay-at-home orders remain in place during this pandemic, “it is frustrating for all of us,” and Catholics especially want life to return to normal so they can attend the celebration of Mass in church and receive the sacraments, said Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez. “We are united in prayer, but we long for the comfort of just being together in the same church, praying and sharing our faith,” and while he is grateful to be connected to his flock via the internet, “it is not the same as seeing one another face-to-face, drawn together in the fellowship of Christ,” he said. He made the comments April 21 in his weekly column, “New World of Faith, “ which appears in English and Spanish on the website of Angelus, the media arm of the Los Angeles archdiocese, https://angelusnews.com. Archbishop Gomez, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that in his own reflections amid this “extraordinary Easter season,” he sees “God calling us, in a most dramatic way, to realize how much we need Him, how we cannot live without Him.”
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