Angelus News | January 12, 2024 | Vol. 9 No. 1

On the cover: The Vatican’s new document Fiducia Supplicans on blessings for those in same-sex or “irregular” relationships has probably left the average Catholic with more questions than answers. What does it really say, and why is it so controversial? On Page 10, we break down the saga of the document’s reception with a sampling of some key reactions that illustrate what’s at stake. On Page 20, John Allen explains why the impact of Fiducia on the global Church may be more limited than we think.

On the cover: The Vatican’s new document Fiducia Supplicans on blessings for those in same-sex or “irregular” relationships has probably left the average Catholic with more questions than answers. What does it really say, and why is it so controversial? On Page 10, we break down the saga of the document’s reception with a sampling of some key reactions that illustrate what’s at stake. On Page 20, John Allen explains why the impact of Fiducia on the global Church may be more limited than we think.


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MIXED<br />


The Vatican document<br />

everyone’s talking about:<br />

What does it really say?<br />

<strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> <strong>Vol</strong>. 9 <strong>No</strong>. 1

<strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong><br />

<strong>Vol</strong>. 9 • <strong>No</strong>. 1<br />

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The Vatican’s new document Fiducia Supplicans on blessings<br />

for those in same-sex or “irregular” relationships has probably<br />

left the average Catholic with more questions than answers.<br />

What does it really say, and why is it so controversial? On Page<br />

10, we break down the saga of the document’s reception with<br />

a sampling of some key reactions that illustrate what’s at stake.<br />

On Page 20, John Allen explains why the impact of Fiducia on<br />

the global Church may be more limited than we think.<br />



Children dressed up for their annual Christmas<br />

play from St. John the Evangelist Church<br />

in South LA paid a visit to Nazareth House,<br />

a Catholic retirement home for seniors near<br />

West LA, on Dec. 27. The kids sang Christmas<br />

carols and performed short Nativity-related<br />

skits for the home’s residents for the<br />

first time since the COVID-19 pandemic.


Pope Watch............................................... 2<br />

Archbishop Gomez................................. 3<br />

World, Nation, and Local <strong>News</strong>...... 4-6<br />

In Other Words........................................ 7<br />

Father Rolheiser....................................... 8<br />

Scott Hahn.............................................. 32<br />

Events Calendar..................................... 33<br />

16<br />

18<br />

20<br />

23<br />

26<br />

28<br />

30<br />

Archbishop, faith leaders appeal to LA’s conscience to solve homeless crisis<br />

Meet the LA youth choir that just sang for Pope Francis — twice<br />

John Allen: After ‘clarification’ on same-sex blessings, will anything change?<br />

Why Nicaragua’s treatment of Catholic priests has the U.S. on high alert<br />

Grazie Pozo Christie on the complicated feelings of becoming an abuelita<br />

In ‘Freud’s Last Session,’ the God debate makes for a surprisingly great movie<br />

Heather King: Takeaways from a retreat for artists at an Irish abbey<br />

<strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 1


Journalism for the forgotten<br />

The following is adapted from the Holy<br />

Father’s remarks at an audience with the<br />

Association of German Catholic Journalists<br />

Jan. 4 at the Vatican.<br />

Communication helps to be, as<br />

the apostle Paul says, “members<br />

of one another” (Ephesians<br />

4:25), called to live in communion<br />

within a continually expanding network<br />

of relations. This is essential in the<br />

Church, where the bond with universality<br />

develops and is harmonized in a<br />

particular way through the ministry of<br />

the Successor of Peter.<br />

Your association proposes commitment<br />

to ecumenism, interreligious dialogue,<br />

and the defense of peace, freedom, and<br />

human dignity. How many conflicts<br />

today, instead of being extinguished<br />

by dialogue, are fueled by false or<br />

inflammatory statements in the media!<br />

Therefore, it is even more important<br />

that you, steadfast in your Christian roots<br />

and the faith you live daily, support the<br />

disarming of language.<br />

The Church in Germany has undertaken<br />

a synod path, about which I wrote<br />

a letter in 2019, which I hope will be<br />

better known, meditated upon, and<br />

implemented, as it expresses two aspects<br />

that I consider fundamental in order not<br />

to go astray.<br />

First of all, care for the spiritual<br />

dimension, that is, the real and constant<br />

adaptation to the gospel and not to<br />

the models of the world, rediscovering<br />

personal and community conversion<br />

through the sacraments and prayer,<br />

docility to the Holy Spirit and not to the<br />

spirit of the times.<br />

And then the universal, Catholic dimension,<br />

so as not to conceive the life of<br />

faith as something relative only to one’s<br />

own cultural and national sphere. From<br />

this point of view, participation in the<br />

universal synodal process is good. Catholic<br />

communicators have a valuable role<br />

to play in such situations: providing<br />

accurate information, they can contribute<br />

to clarifying misunderstandings and<br />

above all preventing them from arising,<br />

helping mutual understanding rather<br />

than opposition.<br />

But it is important not to have an<br />

introverted attitude, but rather to “go<br />

forth” to bring the Christian message to<br />

every sphere of life, using the media and<br />

possibilities available today. A Church<br />

that is occupied primarily with herself<br />

sickens with self-absorption. Instead, the<br />

Church is mission, and Catholic communicators<br />

cannot but get involved and<br />

remain, so to speak, “neutral” regarding<br />

the message they transmit.<br />

Dear friends, you come from a prosperous<br />

and developed country, but even<br />

there one finds, sometimes hidden,<br />

more than a few hardships. I think of the<br />

phenomenon of child poverty, of families<br />

who are unable to pay their bills, and<br />

of the situation of so many migrants and<br />

refugees, whom Germany has welcomed<br />

in large numbers. There the God<br />

of love is waiting for the good news of<br />

our charity: He is waiting for Christians<br />

to come out and go to the people on the<br />

margins. And for this there is also a need<br />

for communicators who give prominence<br />

to the stories and faces of those to<br />

whom few or none pay attention.<br />

When you communicate, therefore,<br />

always think of the faces of the people,<br />

especially the poor and the simple, and<br />

start from them, from their reality, their<br />

dramas and their hopes, even if doing<br />

so means going against the tide, and<br />

wearing out the soles of your shoes!<br />

Papal Prayer Intention for <strong>January</strong>: We pray that the Holy<br />

Spirit may help us to recognize the gift of different charisms<br />

within the Christian community and to discover the richness<br />

of different traditions and rituals in the Catholic Church.<br />

2 • ANGELUS • <strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>



Living our Catholic story in <strong>2024</strong><br />

Every new year marks a new<br />

beginning, a chance to make<br />

a fresh start. This is a hopeful<br />

thought and a very “Catholic” thought.<br />

Our life of faith is always a work of<br />

beginning and beginning again.<br />

Following Jesus, becoming the person<br />

whom God made us to be, is the<br />

project of a lifetime and we carry it out<br />

in the daily struggle against selfishness<br />

and weakness. We make mistakes,<br />

lose focus, and make wrong turns; but<br />

always, we begin again.<br />

What makes it all possible is God’s<br />

great love for us.<br />

I thought about that a lot during the<br />

Christmas season. I thought especially<br />

about how as Catholics, we belong to<br />

a great narrative of love, the story of<br />

salvation history that gives meaning<br />

and purpose to our lives.<br />

In its outlines, the story goes like this:<br />

At a moment in human history, the<br />

living God, the Creator of life, came<br />

down to his creation, to live among us<br />

in Jesus, a person both fully divine and<br />

fully human. God came as a baby and<br />

revealed his true face as a Father who<br />

loves every person as his own son or<br />

daughter.<br />

In his life, death, and rising from the<br />

dead, Jesus showed the depths of the<br />

Father’s love, revealing the destiny of<br />

our human lives, that we are made to<br />

share in God’s own divine life as he<br />

shared in our human life.<br />

By his teaching, Jesus set out the path<br />

we are to follow as children of God,<br />

and our lives are now a journey of<br />

love in his Church that leads beyond<br />

death to eternal life with the Father in<br />

heaven.<br />

This is the beautiful story that we<br />

have inherited as Catholics and the<br />

story that we have become a part of in<br />

our baptism.<br />

This story tells us who we are, what<br />

we are here for, and how we should<br />

live. It tells us where we came from<br />

and where we are going. This story<br />

tells us what we should value and what<br />

really matters.<br />

Our Catholic story gives our lives<br />

“roots” in the spiritual family we call<br />

the Church. It is the source for our<br />

prayers and worship, our teachings,<br />

and all that we call our Catholic tradition<br />

and culture.<br />

We are in a moment when the Catholic<br />

story, and the wider Judeo-Christian<br />

story that formed the basis for Western<br />

civilization, is being rejected. There<br />

are many reasons for this, but we can<br />

see its consequences in the crisis of<br />

meaning that is spreading throughout<br />

society.<br />

This is also a challenge for us as Catholics,<br />

as it becomes more difficult for<br />

us to tell our story and to live according<br />

to our beliefs.<br />

That’s why I think it’s important, as<br />

we begin the new year, to return and<br />

reflect on our Catholic story and to be<br />

renewed in its truth and promises.<br />

The story we have inherited is a beautiful<br />

and personal love story.<br />

God wants nothing “out of us” but<br />

our love. He created each of us for our<br />

own sake, simply because he loves us;<br />

it’s as if he could not imagine the world<br />

without us.<br />

God does not want to control or “lord<br />

over” us. He simply wants to live with<br />

us and be our friend.<br />

The promise that God makes to us is<br />

this: If we accept his love and believe<br />

in his love, if we love him as he loves<br />

us, and if we love others as he loves<br />

them, then we can become like him.<br />

And if we follow his way of love, he<br />

promises that we can know the joy of<br />

what Jesus called the abundance of<br />

life.<br />

In this coming year, let us ask for the<br />

grace to deepen our faith in the power<br />

of our Catholic story, in the truth of<br />

Jesus Christ and his love for us.<br />

In a practical way, we can be renewed<br />

in this story through ever deeper devotion<br />

to the Eucharist.<br />

In every celebration of the Eucharist,<br />

we pray the prayers of our ancestors,<br />

hear their stories from the Scriptures,<br />

and listen to the words of Jesus. Every<br />

Eucharistic prayer retells the story of<br />

his sacrifice of love and communicates<br />

that love to us.<br />

So, let us resolve again this year to<br />

make the celebration of holy Mass, and<br />

By his teaching, Jesus set out the path we are to<br />

follow as children of God, and our lives are now<br />

a journey of love in his Church that leads beyond<br />

death to eternal life with the Father in heaven.<br />

the encounter with the living God that<br />

we have in the bread and wine, the<br />

heart of our lives.<br />

Pray for me and I will pray for you.<br />

And let us ask our Blessed Mother<br />

Mary to help us to tell the story of<br />

her Son with new joy, confidence,<br />

and courage, especially to our young<br />

people.<br />

<strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 3

WORLD<br />

■ Camino<br />

de Santiago<br />

draws record<br />

number of<br />

pilgrims<br />

Pilgrims walk the Camino de Santiago<br />

near Burgos, Spain, last summer. | OSV<br />


More people are<br />

walking the famed<br />

Camino de Santiago<br />

than ever before,<br />

according to<br />

statistics released<br />

by the official<br />

pilgrims office.<br />

Some 446,035 pilgrims completed the historic pilgrimage, known as the<br />

“Way of St. James,” which leads travelers through Spain to the traditional<br />

burial place of the apostle St. James. Nearly 200,000 of those pilgrims<br />

were from Spain, with the U.S. coming in second at 32,063.<br />

Once pilgrims complete their route — usually by foot (93%) but also<br />

by bike or horse — they stop at the cathedral’s pilgrim office, where<br />

they receive an official document, known as a compostela, proving they<br />

completed the Way. The office also collects and publishes demographic<br />

information from each pilgrim. Almost a quarter of last year’s pilgrims<br />

cited no religious reason for making the pilgrimage, and less than half<br />

cited their faith as their primary reason for the journey.<br />

■ Nigeria: Nearly 200<br />

Christians killed in Christmas<br />

attacks<br />

More than 200 Christians were killed in<br />

attacks on more than 80 villages in the Nigerian<br />

state of Plateau in the days before and<br />

after Christmas.<br />

Jihadist Islamic militants belonging to the<br />

semi-nomadic Fulani tribe are believed to be<br />

behind the murders. Bodies were still being<br />

discovered the week of Jan. 1-8, declared a<br />

week of mourning by the local government.<br />

Nigeria has seen a recent increase in the<br />

persecution of Christians, including a massacre<br />

on Pentecost 2022 that left 50 Christians<br />

dead. Christian leaders have criticized<br />

the country’s government for inaction that<br />

enables continuing violence. In remarks to<br />

media, Bishop Matthew Kulah of Sokoto<br />

called the attackers “sons of Satan.”<br />

“We have cried enough tears,” wrote Kulah,<br />

whose diocese is in the affected area. “We<br />

may pretend that we are not at war, but truly,<br />

a war is being waged against the Nigerian<br />

state and its people.”<br />

■ Is it too late to fix the damage<br />

of China’s one-child policy?<br />

Fewer than 10 million babies were born in China<br />

in 2022, down from 16 million a decade prior.<br />

And despite efforts by the Chinese government to<br />

urge women to have more children, the country’s<br />

population continues toward a potential demographic<br />

collapse.<br />

Since the 2015 overturn of the country’s onechild<br />

policy, officials have pushed for a baby boom<br />

that could counteract current projections, which<br />

would see the country’s population from current<br />

levels of 1.4 billion to half a billion by 2100.<br />

A Communist Party campaign for a “birth-friendly<br />

culture” continues to urge women to have more<br />

children as the fertility rate has dropped to 1.09,<br />

well below the 2.1 needed for a stable population.<br />

“Having had one child, I think I’ve done my<br />

duty,” Feng Chenchen, a mother of a 3-year-old<br />

girl, told the Wall Street Journal. She tells relatives<br />

urging her to have a second child that it would be<br />

too expensive. “I can have another kid as long as<br />

you give me 300,000 yuan,” she said.<br />

Marriage itself is also in decline, with 6.8 million<br />

couples registering marriages in 2022, only about<br />

half the marriages reported in 2013.<br />

The children of Bethlehem — Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for<br />

the Service of Charity, is pictured with children living in a religious sisters-run orphanage Dec.<br />

22, 2023, in Bethlehem. The Polish cardinal was making a charity visit to the Holy Land on<br />

behalf of Pope Francis amid the Israel-Hamas war. | COURTESY DICASTERY FOR THE SERVICE<br />


4 • ANGELUS • <strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

NATION<br />

■ Catholic women’s college reverses transgender admissions decision<br />

St. Mary’s College, a Catholic women’s school in Indiana, will reverse a controversial decision to accept transgender<br />

applicants.<br />

The reversal came less than a month after the <strong>No</strong>v. 27 email, which announced that the school’s board had approved a<br />

new policy that would consider any applicants who “consistently live and identify as women.” The policy drew swift criticism,<br />

including from Bishop Kevin Rhoades of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, where the school is located.<br />

“We believed it affirmed our identity as an inclusive, Catholic, women’s college,” read the Dec. 21 reversal email from<br />

Katie Conboy, president, and board chair Maureen Smith. “It is increasingly clear, however, that the position we took is not<br />

shared by all members of our community.”<br />

A fatherly exception — Jean-Claude Duncan, a married father of nine and<br />

former Methodist minister, was ordained a priest of the Diocese of St. Cloud,<br />

Minnesota, Dec. 9, thanks to a little-known Vatican provision that allows for<br />

some converted Protestant ministers to be ordained priests. Duncan is now one<br />

of more than 150 married priests serving in the United States. He was received<br />

into the Catholic Church in 2016, along with his wife and children. | CENTRAL<br />


■ Pro-life pregnancy centers<br />

could lose federal funding<br />

Pregnancy resource centers may be cut out of federal<br />

funds under new regulations proposed by the White House.<br />

The proposed rule would bar Temporary Assistance for<br />

Needy Families (TANF) funds — which total about $16.5<br />

billion a year — from being used for pregnancy counseling<br />

or other programs that apply only after someone is already<br />

pregnant.<br />

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has urged<br />

Catholics to petition the Biden administration to drop the<br />

proposed change, which is currently in a period of public<br />

comment. Conservative leaders have criticized it as politically<br />

motivated.<br />

“HHS does not cite any evidence that pregnancy centers<br />

or others receiving TANF funding under alternatives to<br />

abortion programs are unlawfully using federal funds for<br />

non-TANF purposes,” read a public comment letter signed<br />

by several congressional Republicans. “This suggests HHS<br />

is targeting pregnancy centers for their pro-life mission rather<br />

than for any kind of misuse of federal funds.”<br />

■ Rome asks US for one more<br />

round of synod listening sessions<br />

Dioceses in the U.S. are being asked to hold another round<br />

of listening sessions this year as part of the ongoing Synod<br />

on Synodality.<br />

The request from synod organizers in Rome was announced<br />

by Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, who coordinates<br />

the U.S. bishops’ synod process, in a Jan. 2 letter to<br />

his fellow American bishops. Flores’ team is requesting that<br />

each diocese hold two to three listening sessions regarding<br />

the guiding questions posed by the synod secretariat.<br />

The first question is: “Where have I seen or experienced Bishop Daniel Flores sits next to Pope Francis at the Synod of Bishops last year. | CNS/<br />


successes — and distresses — within the Church’s structure(s)/organization/leadership/life<br />

that encourage or hinder the mission?”<br />

The second: “How can the structures and organization of the Church help all the baptized to respond to the call to proclaim<br />

the Gospel and to live as a community of love and mercy in Christ?”<br />

After the sessions are held, diocesan synod leaders will be invited to participate in a national working group to discuss the<br />

outcomes.<br />

“We all know time is short, but even modest efforts at the local level can bear much fruit,” wrote Flores to the bishops.<br />

“Let us do what we can, as well as we can and trust the Lord to accomplish beyond what we can foresee.”<br />

<strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 5

LOCAL<br />

■ OneLife LA to mark 10th anniversary<br />

OneLife LA will return to downtown LA Saturday, Jan. 20, for its 10th anniversary.<br />

As in previous years, the annual event celebrating the dignity of life from conception<br />

to natural death will feature live music, food, several renowned guest<br />

speakers, and Mass. The event will kick off at 11 a.m. at the La Placita church<br />

on Olvera Street, where attendees will then walk to nearby Los Angeles State<br />

Historic Park for festivities. A Requiem Mass for the unborn will take place later<br />

at 5 p.m. at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.<br />

Guest speakers include award-winning author and podcast host Katie Prejean<br />

McGrady and Father Josh Johnson, vocations director for the Diocese of Baton<br />

Rouge and host of the acclaimed “Ascension” podcast and video series.<br />

Learn more, register for the event, or sign up to volunteer at onelifela.org.<br />

■ New STEM-focused Catholic<br />

university to launch in LA<br />

After years of attempting to establish a Catholic university in Los Angeles<br />

focusing on STEM teachings, Catholic Polytechnic University (CPU) was<br />

approved by the state and will welcome its inaugural class in fall <strong>2024</strong>.<br />

A Los Angeles-area location for the campus has been identified but is still<br />

being finalized. To start, the university will offer bachelor’s and master’s degree<br />

programs in computer science, with courses of study in subjects such as cybersecurity,<br />

technology, data science, and more. CPU is now accepting applications<br />

for students to attend in the fall.<br />

According to CPU, its mission is to “promote the intersection of faith and<br />

science as seen through the lens of faithful Catholic teachings.” The university<br />

received approval and a blessing from Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez<br />

in <strong>January</strong> 2020.<br />

“We’re basically starting up a Catholic Caltech or a Catholic MIT,” said Jennifer<br />

<strong>No</strong>lan, Ph.D., the university’s president. “That’s the vision of it.”<br />

To get more information, apply, or donate, visit catholicpolytechnic.org.<br />

Something beautiful growing — Father Mario Torres, pastor at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Los Angeles,<br />

blesses the new prayer garden dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe. The garden was the brainchild of the<br />

school’s “Faith Club,” which meets weekly. | ST. THOMAS APOSTLE SCHOOL<br />

Actor Shia LaBeouf — shown starring in the 2023<br />

film “Padre Pio” — entered into full communion<br />

with the Catholic Church after receiving the<br />

sacrament of confirmation on Dec. 31, 2023. |<br />


■ Actor Shia LaBeouf<br />

confirmed into the<br />

Church in SoCal<br />

Actor Shia LaBeouf, who recently<br />

starred in the film about the beloved<br />

saint, “Padre Pio,” received the<br />

sacrament of confirmation into the<br />

Catholic faith on New Year’s Eve,<br />

according to social media posts by<br />

the Capuchin Franciscans’ Western<br />

American Province.<br />

The posts featured several photos of<br />

LaBeouf with the friars and Bishop<br />

Robert Barron of Winona-Rochester,<br />

Minnesota, who had previously interviewed<br />

the actor through his Word on<br />

Fire ministry.<br />

The ceremony took place at the Old<br />

Mission Santa Inés in Solvang, where<br />

Bishop Barron — who previously<br />

served as an auxiliary bishop in the<br />

Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Santa<br />

Barbara region — administered the<br />

sacrament.<br />

The actor said he felt called to convert<br />

to Catholicism after accepting the<br />

role in “Padre Pio” and developing<br />

his relationships with the friars while<br />

researching for the movie.<br />

Y<br />

6 • ANGELUS • <strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

V<br />


Letters to the Editor<br />

How the Holy Spirit works in Finland<br />

I was very impressed with the article about Finland’s new bishop, “A<br />

shepherd at the end of the world,” in the Dec. 29 issue of <strong>Angelus</strong>. In<br />

fact, it’s important to realize that Father Raimo Goyarrola Belda (now Bishop) has<br />

been in Finland for 17 years. What he has accomplished, by the grace of God, is<br />

remarkable.<br />

What struck me most is the ecumenical cooperation among Christian churches<br />

in this country of few Christians. Whether Orthodox, Lutheran, Catholic, or other<br />

denominations, the Christians there share their churches so that Mass can be said<br />

“at least once a month in 25 cities where there’s no Catholic parish.”<br />

Their “collections are very small because the people don’t have money.” Yet the<br />

Church in Finland has grown from 7-8,000 Catholics (17 years ago) to 17-18,000<br />

today.<br />

<strong>No</strong> doubt, Bishop Raimo Goyarrola’s enthusiasm for the New Evangelization,<br />

his love for the Finns, and his hard work had something to do with that, but it’s<br />

obvious also that the Holy Spirit is alive and active in Finland.<br />

Thank you for this beautiful story that captures how the energy of the Church is<br />

spreading in the world today.<br />

— Marilyn Boussaid, St. James Church, Redondo Beach<br />

Y<br />

Continue the conversation! To submit a letter to the editor, visit <strong>Angelus</strong><strong>News</strong>.com/Letters-To-The-Editor<br />

and use our online form or send an email to editorial@angelusnews.com. Please limit to 300 words. Letters<br />

may be edited for style, brevity, and clarity.<br />

Bringing Christ on Christmas<br />

“We are not Jesus for one<br />

another if we’re looking at<br />

our phone.”<br />

~ Kathleen McNutt, the head of Bishop Ireton High<br />

School, in a Jan. 2 USA Today article on banning<br />

cellphones in schools.<br />

“I’m living on the streets. I’m<br />

also dying there.”<br />

~ “Michael,” interviewed by National Catholic<br />

Reporter for a Dec. 29 story on local efforts to help<br />

the homeless in the <strong>No</strong>rth Hollywood area.<br />

“Does my life belong to me,<br />

or is it a gift from God?”<br />

~ Bishop Robert Barron, in a Jan. 4 Word on Fire<br />

commentary on euthanasia and physician-assisted<br />

suicide.<br />

“We’ve had more than<br />

one suit of armor come<br />

through, believe it or not.”<br />

~ Bryan Owens, owner of Unclaimed Baggage Center,<br />

in a Dec. 27 CBS <strong>News</strong> article on lost luggage finding<br />

new life.<br />

“We cannot live and speak<br />

of peace if our hearts are<br />

not turned to God, if our<br />

lives are not truly inhabited<br />

by his presence, if we do<br />

not feel the need to ask for<br />

his forgiveness.”<br />

~ Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin patriarch of<br />

Jerusalem, at a Jan. 1 Mass for Peace celebrated amid<br />

the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.<br />

Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez handed out copies of “The Twelve Steps and the Sacraments” by Scott<br />

Weeman to inmates at Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles after celebrating Christmas Mass the morning of Dec. 25.<br />

Archbishop Gomez’s visits to the jail have become a Christmas Day tradition. | VICTOR ALEMÁN<br />

View more photos<br />

from this gallery at<br />

<strong>Angelus</strong><strong>News</strong>.com/photos-videos<br />

Do you have photos or a story from your parish that you’d<br />

like to share? Please send to editorial @angelusnews.com.<br />

“We’re like stepping into the<br />

shoes of the dead person.”<br />

~ Dennis Cotek, an LA County investigator, in a Jan.<br />

4 Associated Press article on investigating unclaimed<br />

bodies in Los Angeles.<br />

<strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 7

IN EXILE<br />


Oblate of Mary Immaculate Father<br />

Ronald Rolheiser is a spiritual<br />

writer; ronrolheiser.com<br />

Our pathetic selves<br />

When all is said and done, our<br />

lives are not all that serene<br />

and peaceful. In a manner<br />

of speaking, we are always somewhat<br />

pathetic. That shouldn’t scare us.<br />

Pathetic is not a pejorative term. The<br />

word comes from the Greek “pathos,”<br />

which means pain. To be pathetic is<br />

to live in pain, and we all do because<br />

of the very way we are made.<br />

You might say that doesn’t sound<br />

right. Aren’t we made in the image<br />

and likeness of God so that each of<br />

us, no matter how messed up our lives<br />

might be, carry a special dignity and<br />

a certain godliness within us? We do<br />

carry that special dignity. However,<br />

despite that and largely because of it,<br />

our lives tend to be so complex as to<br />

be pain-filled. Why?<br />

Godliness isn’t easy to carry. The infinite<br />

inside us doesn’t easily fit itself<br />

into the finite. We carry too much<br />

divine fire inside to find much peace<br />

in this life.<br />

That struggle begins early in life. To<br />

create a self-identity as a very young<br />

child, we need to make a series of<br />

mental contractions, which ultimately<br />

limit our awareness. First, we need<br />

to differentiate ourselves from others<br />

(That’s mom — I’m me); then, we<br />

need to differentiate between what is<br />

living and what is not (the puppy is<br />

alive — my doll isn’t); next, we need<br />

to differentiate between what is physical<br />

and what is mental (this is my<br />

body — but I think with my mind).<br />

Finally, and critically, as we are<br />

doing all this, we need split off as<br />

much of our luminosity we can<br />

consciously handle from what is too<br />

much to consciously handle. With<br />

that we create a self-identity — but we<br />

also create a shadow, namely, an area<br />

inside us which is split off from our<br />

consciousness.<br />

<strong>No</strong>tice that our shadow is not first<br />

of all a looming darkness. Rather, it’s<br />

all the light and energy inside us that<br />

we cannot consciously handle. Most<br />

of us, I suspect, are familiar with the<br />

words of Marianne Williamson made<br />

famous by Nelson Mandela in his inauguration<br />

speech: “Our deepest fear<br />

is not that we are inadequate. Our<br />

deepest fear is that we are powerful<br />

beyond measure. It is our light, not<br />

our darkness that most frightens us.”<br />

Our light frightens us because it<br />

is not easy to carry. It gives us great<br />

dignity and infinite depth, but it also<br />

makes us pathologically complex and<br />

restless. Ruth Burrows, one of the<br />

foremost spiritual writers of our time,<br />

begins her autobiography with these<br />

words: “I was born into this world<br />

with a tortured sensitivity and my<br />

life has not been an easy one.” You<br />

wouldn’t expect those words from a<br />

mystic, from someone who has been<br />

a faithful nun for more than 75 years.<br />

You wouldn’t expect that her struggle<br />

in life was as much with the light<br />

within herself as with the darkness<br />

within and around her. That’s also<br />

true for each of us.<br />

There’s a famous passage in the<br />

Book of Qoheleth where the sacred<br />

writer tells us that God has made<br />

everything beautiful in its own time.<br />

However, the passage doesn’t end on<br />

a peaceful note. It ends by telling us<br />

that, while God has made everything<br />

beautiful in its own time, God has put<br />

timelessness into the human heart so<br />

that we are congenitally out of sync<br />

with time and the seasons from beginning<br />

to end. Both our special dignity<br />

and our pathological complexity take<br />

their origins in that anomaly in our<br />

nature. We are overcharged for life on<br />

this planet.<br />

St. Augustine gave this classic<br />

expression in his famous line: “You<br />

have made us for yourself, Lord, and<br />

our hearts are restless until they rest<br />

in you.” There is an entire anthropology<br />

and spirituality in that single<br />

line. Our dignity and our perpetual<br />

restlessness have one and the same<br />

source.<br />

Thus, you need to give yourself<br />

sacred permission for being wild of<br />

heart, restless of heart, insatiable of<br />

heart, complex of heart, and driven of<br />

heart. Too often, where both psychology<br />

and spirituality have failed you is<br />

in giving you the impression that you<br />

should be living without chaos and<br />

restlessness in your life.<br />

Admittedly, these can beset you<br />

more acutely because of moral inadequacy,<br />

but they will beset you no<br />

matter how good a life you are living.<br />

Indeed, if you are a deeply sensitive<br />

person, you will probably feel your<br />

complexity more acutely than if you<br />

are less sensitive or are deadening<br />

your sensitivity with distractions.<br />

Karl Rahner once wrote to a friend<br />

who had written to him complaining<br />

that he wasn’t finding the fulfillment<br />

he longed for in life. His<br />

friend expressed disappointment with<br />

himself, his marriage, and his job.<br />

Rahner gave him this counsel: “In<br />

the torment of the insufficiency of<br />

everything attainable, we ultimately<br />

learn that in this life there is no finished<br />

symphony.”<br />

There can be no finished symphony<br />

in this life — not because our souls<br />

are defective, but because they carry<br />

godliness.<br />

8 • ANGELUS • <strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

Why everyone’s talking about<br />


What to make of the various reactions and<br />

interpretations prompted by the new Vatican<br />

document Fiducia Supplicans.<br />


10 • ANGELUS • <strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

While it grabbed the world’s<br />

attention when it was<br />

released just a week before<br />

Christmas, the rollout for Fiducia<br />

Supplicans did not seem to go as the<br />

Vatican planned.<br />

With its Latin title meaning “Supplicating<br />

Trust,” the 5,000-word document<br />

issued by the Dicastery for the<br />

Doctrine of the Faith with the approval<br />

of Pope Francis was billed as a sort of<br />

Pope Francis waves to an estimated 70,000 people<br />

gathered in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican for his<br />

Christmas blessing Urbi et Orbi (“to the city and the<br />

world”) Dec. 25, 2023. | CNS/VATICAN MEDIA<br />

explainer on the “pastoral meaning of<br />

blessings.”<br />

Specifically, it sought to address a<br />

thorny everyday question faced by<br />

priests worldwide: Under what conditions<br />

are they allowed to offer blessings<br />

to people who are living in “irregular”<br />

relationships outside the Church’s<br />

teachings on marriage, especially those<br />

who are divorced and remarried, and<br />

same-sex couples?<br />

While the document takes pains<br />

to explain that it is not changing the<br />

Church’s “perennial teaching” on marriage<br />

and that “the Church does not<br />

have the power to impart blessings on<br />

unions of persons of the same sex,” that<br />

has not stopped a firestorm of response<br />

from Church officials and ordinary<br />

Catholics.<br />

Indeed, since its publication Dec.<br />

18, Fiducia Supplicans would seem<br />

to have raised as many questions as<br />

it claimed to answer, provoking a<br />

dizzying array of interpretations and<br />

reactions on every continent.<br />

Father James Martin, SJ, a widely<br />

recognized advocate for homosexuals<br />

in the Church, performed a same-sex<br />

couple “blessing” the day after the document<br />

was published, and invited The<br />

New York Times to his Manhattan<br />

residence to cover it. The Times’ frontpage<br />

story declared: “Gay Catholics<br />

Hear History: ‘God Bless You’.”<br />

Other activists heralded the document<br />

as a milestone on the road to<br />

the Church’s ultimate acceptance of<br />

same-sex marriage.<br />

But others have come out against the<br />

document on just that point, claiming<br />

that in its willingness to entertain the<br />

blessing of those in “irregular” situations,<br />

it undermines Church teaching<br />

on marriage and marks an abrupt<br />

reversal of a 2021 statement by the<br />

same Vatican doctrine office on the<br />

same topic that bluntly declared: “God<br />

cannot bless sin.”<br />

In their responses, Catholic bishops<br />

in parts of Africa, Asia, and Eastern<br />

Europe rejected the new “horizon”<br />

for such blessings outlined by Fiducia<br />

Supplicans as incompatible with the<br />

Church’s teaching on homosexuality<br />

and sexual relations outside the<br />

marriage of one man and one woman.<br />

Some bishops’ conferences have<br />

responded by explicitly banning the<br />

blessing of same-sex couples, among<br />

them the Ivory Coast and Kazakhstan.<br />

Other critics questioned the declaration’s<br />

length, its avoidance of terms<br />

like “conversion” and “sin,” and the<br />

unusual timing of its release a week<br />

before Christmas.<br />

More tradition-minded Protestant<br />

voices also expressed concern.<br />

In an open letter to Francis, the<br />

American Black Pentecostal leader,<br />

Rev. Eugene Rivers III, expressed<br />

“alarm and anguish,” urging the pontiff<br />

to withdraw the document because<br />

it “contradicts the truths of the Holy<br />

Bible.”<br />

“Already,” Rivers said, the document<br />

is “almost universally being interpreted<br />

as approving the blessing of sexual sin;<br />

indeed, it invites the inference that it<br />

was meant to be interpreted thus.”<br />

In the face of the controversy, the<br />

doctrine office’s prefect and document<br />

author, Cardinal Víctor Manuel<br />

Fernández, took to media interviews<br />

to “clarify” the document’s intentions,<br />

at one point saying that it was meant<br />

to respond to doctrinally questionable<br />

same-sex blessings being pushed by<br />

bishops and priests in Germany.<br />

Finally, on Jan. 4, the doctrine office<br />

was forced to publish a long statement,<br />

nearly half as long as the original document,<br />

explicitly denying charges that it<br />

was “heretical” or “blasphemous.”<br />

“The document is clear and definitive<br />

about marriage and sexuality … ‘not<br />

allowing any type of liturgical rite or<br />

blessing similar to a liturgical rite that<br />

can create confusion,’ ” the statement<br />

insisted.<br />

“We are talking about something that<br />

lasts about 10 or 15 seconds,” it added.<br />

“Does it make sense to deny these<br />

kinds of blessings to these two people<br />

who ask for them? Is it not more appropriate<br />

to support their faith, whether it<br />

be small or great, to assist them in their<br />

weaknesses with a divine blessing, and<br />

to channel that openness to transcendence<br />

which could lead them to be<br />

more faithful to the Gospel?”<br />

The controversy is ongoing. To better<br />

understand what it does and doesn’t<br />

say, we encourage readers to read the<br />

document itself at the Vatican website<br />

(Vatican.va). Here we offer a sampling<br />

of notable comments reflecting the<br />

broad outlines of the debate.<br />

<strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 11

Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández,<br />

Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine<br />

of the Faith<br />

These kinds of blessings are simple<br />

pastoral channels that help to express<br />

people’s faith, even if those people are<br />

great sinners.<br />

Therefore, by giving this blessing to<br />

two people who spontaneously come<br />

forward to request it, one can legitimately<br />

ask God to grant them health,<br />

peace, prosperity — the things that we<br />

all ask for and that a sinner can also<br />

ask for.<br />

At the same time, since one can think<br />

that in the daily lives of these two<br />

persons, not everything is sin, one can<br />

therefore pray for them [to receive] a<br />

spirit of dialogue, patience, and mutual<br />

help.<br />

But the declaration also mentions a<br />

request for help from the Holy Spirit<br />

so that this relationship, which is often<br />

unknown to the priest, may be purified<br />

of everything that does not respond to<br />

the Gospel and the will of God, and<br />

may mature along the lines of God’s<br />

plan.<br />

Obviously, when there is a text signed<br />

by the pope, in order to interpret it<br />

broadly the bishops must first study<br />

it in-depth and without haste, and<br />

allow themselves to be enlightened<br />

and enriched by that text. Therefore,<br />

prudence and attention to local culture<br />

could admit different ways of application,<br />

but not a total denial of this step<br />

being asked of priests.<br />

United States Conference<br />

of Catholic Bishops<br />

The declaration … articulated a distinction<br />

between liturgical (sacramental)<br />

blessings, and pastoral blessings,<br />

which may be given to persons who<br />

desire God’s loving grace in their lives.<br />

The Church’s teaching on marriage<br />

has not changed, and this declaration<br />

affirms that, while also making an effort<br />

to accompany people through the<br />

imparting of pastoral blessings because<br />

each of us needs God’s healing love<br />

and mercy in our lives.<br />

A man walks outside the Cathedral of St. Paul in 2013<br />

in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Homosexual unions are not<br />

recognized or allowed in most African countries, and<br />

many Catholic bishops on the continent have said<br />

that any form of blessings involving such couples will<br />

not be implemented in their countries or dioceses. |<br />


Father James Martin, SJ,<br />

Editor-at-Large, America Magazine<br />

You may hear from some quarters that<br />

“nothing has changed.” But a great<br />

deal has in fact changed. … Today,<br />

with some limitations, I can perform a<br />

public blessing of a same-sex couple.<br />

Yesterday, I could not.<br />

Some LGBTQ people may be disappointed<br />

that this declaration doesn’t go<br />

as far as they might hope — that is, allowing<br />

same-sex couples to be married<br />

sacramentally.<br />

As for me, I welcome this new declaration<br />

and see it as a much-needed<br />

pastoral response to Catholic same-sex<br />

couples in loving, committed, and<br />

self-sacrificing relationships who desire<br />

God’s presence and help. And as a<br />

priest I look forward to blessing samesex<br />

couples, and sharing with them the<br />

graces that God desires for everyone,<br />

something I’ve waited years to do.<br />

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Prefect of<br />

the Congregation for the Doctrine of<br />

the Faith, 20<strong>12</strong>-2017<br />

According to the Catholic faith, the<br />

pope and the bishops can set certain<br />

pastoral accents and creatively relate<br />

the truth of Revelation to the new<br />

challenges of each age … but these<br />

innovations cannot go beyond what<br />

was revealed to them once and for all<br />

by the apostles as the word of God.<br />

In fact, there are no biblical texts or<br />

texts of the Fathers and Doctors of the<br />

Church or previous documents of the<br />

magisterium to support the conclusions<br />

of [the declaration]. Moreover,<br />

what we see is not a development but a<br />

doctrinal leap.<br />

In order to accept the blessing of situations<br />

that are contrary to the Gospel,<br />

the [declaration] proposes an original<br />

solution: to broaden the concept of<br />

a blessing. … That is, a new concept<br />

of blessing is needed, one that goes<br />

beyond sacramental blessings in order<br />

to accompany pastorally the journey<br />

of those who live in sin. … <strong>No</strong>tice<br />

that not only sinful persons are blessed<br />

here, but that by blessing the couple,<br />

it is the sinful relationship itself that is<br />

blessed.<br />

The difficulty of blessing a union or<br />

couple is especially evident in the case<br />

of homosexuality. For in the Bible, a<br />

blessing has to do with the order that<br />

God has created and that he has declared<br />

to be good. This order is based<br />

on the sexual difference of male and<br />

female, called to be one flesh. Blessing<br />

a reality that is contrary to creation is<br />

not only impossible, it is blasphemy. …<br />

Priests should proclaim God’s love<br />

and goodness to all people and also<br />

help sinners and those who are weak<br />

and have difficulty in conversion with<br />

counsel and prayer. This is very different<br />

from pointing out to them with<br />

self-invented but misleading signs and<br />

<strong>12</strong> • ANGELUS • <strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

words that God is not so demanding<br />

about sin, thus hiding the fact that sin<br />

in thought, word, and deed distances<br />

us from God.<br />

There is no blessing, not only in public<br />

but also in private, for sinful living<br />

conditions that objectively contradict<br />

God’s holy will.<br />

Zambia Conference of<br />

Catholic Bishops (Africa)<br />

Based on sacred Scripture, which presents<br />

homosexual acts as acts of grave<br />

depravity (Genesis 19:1–29; Romans<br />

1:24–27; 1 Corinthians 6:10; 1 Timothy<br />

1:10), the conference reaffirms<br />

the traditional teaching of the Church,<br />

which declares “homosexual acts to be<br />

intrinsically disordered and contrary<br />

to natural law.” Hence, “under no<br />

circumstances can they be approved”<br />

(Catechism of the Catholic Church,<br />

no. 2357).<br />

In order to avoid any pastoral confusion<br />

and ambiguity … and while listening<br />

to our cultural heritage, which<br />

does not accept same-sex relationships,<br />

the conference guides that the<br />

declaration … be taken as for further<br />

reflection and not for implementation<br />

in Zambia.<br />

The conference would like to earnestly<br />

invite all those engaged in samesex<br />

unions to embark on the path of<br />

conversion with greater trust in God’s<br />

mercy and love.<br />

Bishop Erik Varden, OSCO,<br />

Bishop of Trondheim (<strong>No</strong>rway)<br />

Can believers who live in irregular<br />

situations be blessed? They can, of<br />

course. It is a long-established custom<br />

in our Church that, at the moment of<br />

holy Communion, those who for one<br />

reason or another cannot receive the<br />

sacrament approach the priest and ask<br />

for a blessing: this is never withheld<br />

unless the supplicant, God forbid,<br />

manifests a sacrilegious attitude.<br />

It is edifying and touching to see a<br />

brother or sister in the faith, a person<br />

dear to us, acknowledge: “Here and<br />

now, the circumstances of my life are<br />

such that I cannot receive the sacraments;<br />

still, I believe in God and trust<br />

that God believes in me, so I invoke his<br />

blessing and declare my will to remain<br />

a part of this community of faith.”<br />

There is sincerity, humility, and<br />

strength in such a posture. Where<br />

those three qualities are present, grace<br />

can work.<br />

What is the difference between an<br />

“ecclesial” and a “pastoral” blessing?<br />

An “ecclesial” act takes place publicly,<br />

following a ritual approved by the<br />

Church; a “pastoral” act is personal, intimate,<br />

pertaining to the inner forum.<br />

Here, then, we have a criterion for<br />

the application of Fiducia Supplicans:<br />

If couples living in irregular circumstances<br />

request a “pastoral” blessing,<br />

the appropriate setting is away from<br />

The exterior of the headquarters of the Dicastery<br />

for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican in 2022. |<br />


the public eye, following the example<br />

of the Lord in the Gospel who, when<br />

approached by a blind man begging to<br />

touch him, took the man “by the hand<br />

and led him out of the village” (Mark<br />

8:23), there to lay his hands on him,<br />

that the healing of divine grace might<br />

touch that in him which was broken,<br />

without the brokenness becoming a<br />

public spectacle.<br />

A second criterion concerns the intention<br />

of couples asking to be blessed. …<br />

Presupposed is a will to conversion and<br />

an attitude of faith by virtue of which<br />

they “acknowledge themselves humbly<br />

as sinners.” There is to be, so Fiducia<br />

Supplicans declares, “no intention to<br />

legitimize anything, but rather to open<br />

one’s life to God, to ask for his help to<br />

live better.”<br />

Archbishop Eamon Martin,<br />

Primate of All Ireland<br />

At a practical level as a priest, I<br />

welcome the clarity in this document.<br />

The pope is very clear that these<br />

pastoral blessings are not a kind of a<br />

liturgical or ritual acknowledgment<br />

that these unions are equivalent or in<br />

any way analogous to the marriage<br />

between a man or a woman.<br />

At the same time, it shows that the<br />

<strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 13

issues and the hurts experienced by<br />

people identifying as LGBT+ have<br />

certainly been heard very loudly<br />

within the Church. I do hope that<br />

people who may have felt excluded<br />

in the past, will see this as some step<br />

toward them with the love and mercy<br />

of Christ.<br />

The pope is very much exercising his<br />

pastoral role in accompanying people.<br />

One of the great gifts of the priesthood<br />

is being able to offer people a blessing.<br />

These informal, pastoral, but beautiful<br />

moments, where you are able to bless<br />

someone where they are at, is something<br />

we do every day as a priest.<br />

This particular declaration makes<br />

somebody like me or any priest a little<br />

bit more comfortable that they can do<br />

this without feeling, “Am I contradicting<br />

the teaching of the Church?” So,<br />

there is a clarity here, which I think<br />

will help pastors on the ground.<br />

Bishop José Ignacio Munilla,<br />

Bishop of Orihuela-Alicante, Spain<br />

I would have expected another way<br />

of approaching the subject. I believe<br />

that a mistake has been made by not<br />

consulting the entire episcopate,<br />

especially when pastoral reasons are<br />

alleged in the declaration.<br />

It’s surprising that they did not<br />

proceed in a synodal manner, in line<br />

Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, <strong>No</strong>rthern<br />

Ireland, blesses delegates during a prayer walk at a<br />

pre-synodal assembly in the sixth-century monastic<br />

site of Clonmacnoise in Ireland June 18, 2022. |<br />


with the ecclesiology of the Second<br />

Vatican Council. We would have<br />

been spared the dissenting reactions<br />

of episcopal conferences that we are<br />

witnessing, for example.<br />

There would be no problem in performing<br />

a blessing, carried out in the<br />

privacy of pastoral accompaniment,<br />

with a formulation along the following<br />

lines:<br />

“Lord, bless your children N. and N.,<br />

and grant them to continue walking<br />

in humility, so that at the same time<br />

that they recognize your gifts, they<br />

also recognize that their union is not<br />

in accordance with your design. Pour<br />

out upon them your grace, for them to<br />

become coherent in their lives and accept<br />

with courage and determination<br />

your call to conversion. Amen.”<br />

Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, Archbishop<br />

of Bologna and President of the<br />

Bishops’ Conference of Italy<br />

Some things you can say after you<br />

have made people feel at home again.<br />

So it will be possible to learn the rules<br />

— beautiful — of a home from which<br />

you were estranged, which you think<br />

you do not understand and which is<br />

not understood.<br />

The Church communicates the love<br />

that explains the rule and makes it<br />

alive, and this is done by reestablishing<br />

a relationship with everyone. The<br />

world is not black and white and requires<br />

listening, discernment, acceptance.<br />

Someone may think: this way<br />

you lose the truth. In contrast, no, this<br />

is how you rediscover it: by living, by<br />

encountering, by talking about Jesus.<br />

And you discover that Christianity has<br />

deeper roots than you think.<br />

The altar is draped with a rainbow flag during the<br />

blessing service “Love Wins” in the Church of St.<br />

Martin in Geldern, Germany, in 2021. For the last<br />

several years, many Catholic leaders in the country<br />

have been pushing the Vatican to change its teaching<br />

on marriage and sexuality to be more open to samesex<br />

couples. | CNS/RUDOLF WICHERT, KNA<br />

14 • ANGELUS • <strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

<strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 15

Archdiocesan interfaith officer Rt.<br />

Rev. Alexei Smith helps Archbishop<br />

José H. Gomez light a candle in<br />

remembrance of the homeless who<br />

have died on LA’s streets at the<br />

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels<br />

Dec. 21. Smith is the pastor of St.<br />

Andrew Russian Greek-Catholic<br />

Church in El Segundo.<br />


On the longest night of the year, local faith<br />

leaders prayed for the homeless victims of a<br />

crisis with no end in sight.<br />


Archbishop José H. Gomez called<br />

on Angelenos to look at those<br />

suffering on the streets with “new<br />

eyes” at an interreligious prayer service<br />

remembering the city’s homeless dead.<br />

“We need to bear one another’s burdens;<br />

we need to lift up our neighbors<br />

when they’ve fallen, bind their wounds,<br />

and find them a place to live,” said<br />

Archbishop Gomez in his reflection at<br />

the second annual Homeless Persons’<br />

Interreligious Memorial Dec. 21.<br />

“When one of us is suffering, we all<br />

suffer.”<br />

More than 200 people attended the<br />

memorial, symbolically timed to coincide<br />

with the date of the winter solstice,<br />

the longest night of the year. As rain fell<br />

outside, the lights inside the Cathedral<br />

of Our Lady of the Angels were dimmer<br />

than usual as a delegation of local<br />

interreligious representatives, led by<br />

Archbishop Gomez, began the service<br />

processing in to the sound of “Amazing<br />

Grace.”<br />

Set near the cathedral altar were 1,665<br />

battery-charged candles, bearing the<br />

names of each of the people identified<br />

by the LA County Coroner’s Office as<br />

having died on the streets from December<br />

2022 through <strong>No</strong>v. 3, 2023. Each<br />

name was also printed in the night’s<br />

program, a detail noted by Lutheran<br />

Bishop Brenda Bos, who was the first to<br />

speak at the event.<br />

“Every one of those people was a<br />

prophet, was a witness, was an angel<br />

among us … who had a story, who had<br />

a family, who had a life,” said Bos, who<br />

leads the Southwest California Synod<br />

of the Evangelical Lutheran Church<br />

of America. “I’m so glad that we could<br />

honor them and we can thank God for<br />

their presence in our midst.”<br />

Other interreligious delegates at the<br />

service included representatives of<br />

Orthodox, Bahá’í, Hindu, Jewish, and<br />

Mormon faith traditions. Speakers<br />

invoked the importance of recognizing<br />

our common humanity as they<br />

appealed to the city’s conscience.<br />

Swami Mahayogananda of Hollywood’s<br />

Vedanta Center lamented how<br />

“we are able to let our own brothers and<br />

sisters die on the streets of our city, unloved,<br />

uncared for, cold and hungry.”<br />

Death may be a certainty of life, the<br />

Hindu monk said, “but surely we all<br />

deserve death with dignity.”<br />

Rabbi Beaumont Shapiro of the Skirball<br />

Cultural Center near Brentwood<br />

admitted he’d considered trying some-<br />

16 • ANGELUS • <strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

thing “sacrilegious” that night to get his<br />

message across: What would happen,<br />

he asked, if he were to take scissors and<br />

cut out every verse in the Hebrew Bible<br />

that speaks of the moral obligation to<br />

help the poor, needy, and powerless?<br />

“The entire section of the prophets<br />

would be decimated, the psalms ripped<br />

to shreds, and much of Leviticus and<br />

Deuteronomy torn to pieces,” said<br />

Shapiro.<br />

<strong>No</strong>t only are the Scriptures filled<br />

with the themes of homelessness and<br />

wandering, Shapiro said, but they<br />

command readers to care for the most<br />

vulnerable “more often than any other<br />

commandment.”<br />

In his reflection, Archbishop Gomez<br />

said the prayer service was a call “to<br />

reach across the boundaries that separate<br />

us from our neighbors, to recognize<br />

in each person the spark of the divine,<br />

to see everyone as a child of God.”<br />

“Jesus asks us tonight to see with ‘new<br />

eyes,’ ” said Archbishop Gomez after<br />

the Gospel passage of the parable of the<br />

Good Samaritan was proclaimed. “He<br />

asks us to look at the ‘other’ and see a<br />

brother or a sister. Whatever the color<br />

of their skin, whatever their nationality,<br />

their language, or religion. Whatever<br />

their condition or their worldly status.”<br />

According to official statistics, Los<br />

Angeles had an estimated homeless<br />

population of 41,980 in 2022, making<br />

it the city with the largest homeless<br />

population in the country that year<br />

(that number grew to 46,260 in 2023).<br />

The number of homeless<br />

deaths in LA counted for<br />

2023’s memorial was over<br />

200 more than the same<br />

time period in 2022, a<br />

grim sign that the situation<br />

isn’t improving. Visitors<br />

to the cathedral that night<br />

agreed.<br />

“I think it is getting<br />

worse,” said Ray Salazar,<br />

who came to the cathedral<br />

with his 8-year-old daughter<br />

Rebecca. His wife, Susana,<br />

works for the Society<br />

of St. Vincent de Paul and<br />

was one of the volunteers<br />

at the memorial.<br />

“There are a lot of problems<br />

with people getting mental illness.<br />

I see more drugs in the streets, and<br />

everybody knows it, but nobody talks<br />

about it.”<br />

<strong>Vol</strong>unteers from the Society of St.<br />

Vincent de Paul Society and the local<br />

nonprofit organization SOFESA —<br />

which both helped organize the vigil<br />

— were on hand to welcome guests<br />

and distribute programs and memorial<br />

candles. Students from several Catholic<br />

high schools showed up to help, too,<br />

including Mayfield Senior School in<br />

Pasadena and Crespi High School in<br />

Encino.<br />

Before the service’s end, the local<br />

religious leaders took turns lighting<br />

candles in honor of the homeless dead.<br />

Afterward, visitors were encouraged to<br />

Rabbi Beaumont Shapiro of the Skirball Cultural<br />

Center speaks at the second annual Homeless<br />

Persons’ Interreligious Memorial Dec. 21.<br />

take the small, battery-charged candles<br />

home and pray for the men and women<br />

named on them. They were also shown<br />

a QR code linking to an Amazon Wish<br />

List, where blankets, sleeping bags, and<br />

socks could be purchased as donations.<br />

Several community donation drives<br />

were held around the archdiocese<br />

leading up to the memorial, like<br />

“Hearts & Hats,” organized by the<br />

Los Angeles Archdiocesan Council of<br />

Catholic Women. Before the service<br />

started, council member Karen Akana<br />

came with her husband, Jim, to drop<br />

off boxes of hats and scarves collected<br />

during the drive.<br />

“It’s just remarkable that we have that<br />

many people on the streets who have<br />

passed away,” said Akana, a parishioner<br />

at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in<br />

Students from Crespi,<br />

Bishop Alemany, Cathedral,<br />

Immaculate Heart, and<br />

Incarnation high schools,<br />

as well as Mayfield Senior<br />

School, were among the<br />

volunteers at the 2023<br />

Homeless Memorial.<br />

<strong>No</strong>rthridge. “It’s<br />

hard to believe<br />

that even tonight<br />

somebody<br />

is probably dying<br />

because it’s<br />

so cold outside.<br />

So we came<br />

down to pray for<br />

them.”<br />

During the<br />

service, Akana said her mind turned to<br />

the big picture of the city’s “worsening”<br />

homelessness crisis, one whose solution<br />

has evaded leaders so far.<br />

“I was praying in there, saying, ‘What<br />

do we do?’ ” said Akana. “We have to<br />

have an answer to this.”<br />

Pablo Kay is the editor-in-chief of<br />

<strong>Angelus</strong>.<br />

<strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 17


TO ST. PETER’S<br />

The choir of singers from St. Andrew Church in<br />

Pasadena and Pueri Cantores San Gabriel Valley<br />

pose in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, where they<br />

performed for Pope Francis. | SUBMITTED PHOTO<br />

A local youth choir spent the holiday break<br />

on a Italian tour — with a few performances<br />

for Pope Francis included.<br />


In the vast space of St. Peter’s<br />

Basilica, Alejandro Quintero saw<br />

Pope Francis moving toward him<br />

and knew he had to get closer. The<br />

11-year-old student scooted past others<br />

in the crowd and inched his way so<br />

close to the pope that he could almost<br />

touch him.<br />

Just before a smiling Francis moved<br />

past Quintero in his wheelchair, he<br />

saw him, reached out, and shook his<br />

hand.<br />

“It felt great because almost everyone<br />

in the world knows him and a bunch<br />

of people from the other side of the<br />

world come to see him,” Quintero<br />

said. “Because he’s like the closest one<br />

to God.”<br />

But Quintero wasn’t in Rome simply<br />

to get a glimpse of Francis. He was<br />

there to perform for the pope, along<br />

with 14 other young singers who<br />

are part of the children’s choir at St.<br />

Andrew Church in Pasadena or Pueri<br />

Cantores San Gabriel Valley.<br />

The group and several members<br />

of their families participated in a<br />

whirlwind tour of Italy, with the choir<br />

performing for the pope twice in<br />

addition to concerts at places such as<br />

Santi Apostoli and the Basilica of St.<br />

Francis in Assisi.<br />

For Patrick Flahive, the music teacher<br />

and choir director at St. Andrew<br />

plus the artistic director and founder<br />

of Pueri Cantores San Gabriel Valley,<br />

18 • ANGELUS • <strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

this trip marked the 30th anniversary<br />

of the first time he brought a choir to<br />

sing for the pope.<br />

“It’s just a tremendous experience<br />

to have such beautiful life-changing<br />

events,” Flahive said. “These people,<br />

kids and adults, can share an experience<br />

they can recall and still be<br />

inspired by.”<br />

The choir had been rehearsing twice<br />

a week since September to prepare,<br />

but the logistics for a trip like this<br />

has been years in the making: music<br />

purchased by Flahive; hotel rooms<br />

booked and organized by Flahive’s<br />

wife; choir robes bought by St.<br />

Andrew pastor Father Marcos Gonzalez;<br />

rehearsal space arranged by St.<br />

Andrew Catholic School Principal Jae<br />

Kim.<br />

“All those things where they didn’t<br />

think twice,” Flahive said. “Absolutely<br />

supportive in every way.”<br />

The choir’s first performance in Italy<br />

was a historic one on New Year’s Eve<br />

with the pope singing vespers evening<br />

prayer at St. Peter’s Basilica. Flahive<br />

doesn’t believe an American children’s<br />

choir has ever been invited to<br />

do that.<br />

The students sat side by side with the<br />

Sistine Chapel Choir — labeled the<br />

oldest choir in the world — and sang<br />

responses in Latin and Italian.<br />

For Arturo Hernandez III, 13, an<br />

eighth-grader at St. Andrew who’s<br />

never traveled internationally before,<br />

the moment was an emotional one.<br />

“I was feeling pretty excited,”<br />

Hernandez said. “And then when it<br />

finally happened, like when the music<br />

started playing, it’s just like a whole<br />

different emotion went over me. Like<br />

‘I am doing this right now.’<br />

“<strong>No</strong>t many people get to sing for the<br />

pope, so I feel pretty special that I was<br />

able to even be there at the Vatican.”<br />

On New Year’s Day, the choir performed<br />

again at St. Peter’s Basilica,<br />

this time at a noontime Mass for the<br />

feast of Mary, Mother of God, where<br />

they sang more traditional holiday<br />

songs like “O Come, All Ye Faithful,”<br />

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” and<br />

the Italian “Gesù Bambino.”<br />

In addition to performing in Assisi<br />

and at the Santi Apostoli in Rome, the<br />

choir concluded its trip by singing at<br />

the Epiphany Mass on Jan. 6, again<br />

for Pope Francis.<br />

“He’s such a brilliantly positive presence,”<br />

Flahive said of the pope. “The<br />

children obviously enliven him and<br />

are dear to him. That’s really meaningful<br />

to me.”<br />

For the students, many of whom<br />

have never been outside of California,<br />

seeing the historic landscape of Italy<br />

was eye-opening.<br />

“It’s great,” Hernandez said. “Stuff<br />

over in California isn’t really that old.<br />

Over here, there’s stuff everywhere<br />

that’s thousands of years old and you<br />

can touch it.”<br />

“It’s been exciting,” Quintero<br />

said. “Seeing stuff that’s<br />

been on TV, like the Colosseum.<br />

It’s cool being in Italy.”<br />

Overall, Flahive was<br />

impressed with the way the<br />

students handled the rigor<br />

of the trip and stepped up to<br />

meet the moment.<br />

“Everything is completely<br />

unknown territory for them,<br />

and I love the fact that they’re<br />

not really fearful,” he said.<br />

“They’re just going into these<br />

things with such courage and<br />

such enthusiasm, and then<br />

such delight when they realize that<br />

these magnificent events and magnificent<br />

places are actually occurring and<br />

they’re a very integral part.”<br />

The experience can only broaden<br />

the students’ faith — and ours —<br />

Flahive said.<br />

“They’re getting a real experience<br />

of the universe, of their faith, and<br />

a real experience of friendship,” he<br />

said. “You know, brotherhood and<br />

sisterhood with the other kids who<br />

can’t even speak the same language.<br />

But they’re obviously sharing the same<br />

thing.<br />

“The singing of the children brings<br />

all of us closer to God. Because it’s<br />

the beauty of it, of their voices, the<br />

beauty of their spirit and the beauty<br />

of the sacred texts that they sing are<br />

all just powerful and overwhelmingly<br />

delightful.”<br />

Mike Cisneros is the associate editor<br />

of <strong>Angelus</strong>.<br />

Pope Francis is wheeled into St. Peter’s<br />

Basilica to greet the performers who<br />

helped pray vespers on New Year’s Eve. |<br />


<strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 19

Cardinal Víctor Manuel<br />

Fernández, prefect of the<br />

Dicastery for the Doctrine<br />

of the Faith, participates in<br />

the first working session of<br />

the assembly of the Synod of<br />

Bishops in the Vatican’s Paul VI<br />

Audience Hall Oct. 4, 2023. |<br />



The Vatican spent the holidays clarifying its clarification on blessings for<br />

those in ‘irregular’ relationships. But will anything actually change?<br />


ROME — During the peak of<br />

the Watergate scandal in the<br />

early 1970s, President Richard<br />

Nixon became infamous for prefacing<br />

his rambling efforts at self-defense<br />

with the line, “Let me make one thing<br />

perfectly clear.”<br />

Observers soon learned that when<br />

those words passed Nixon’s lips, whatever<br />

followed might be many things,<br />

but clarity was unlikely to be among<br />

them.<br />

The memory comes to mind in light<br />

of the various efforts at clarification<br />

being issued these days by Argentine<br />

Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernández,<br />

Pope Francis’ doctrinal czar, regarding<br />

the Dec. 18 declaration Fiducia<br />

Supplicans (“Supplicating Trust”),<br />

authorizing Catholic priests to offer<br />

nonliturgical blessings of same-sex<br />

couples.<br />

The latest such attempt to clear<br />

things up came Jan. 4, in the form of<br />

a press release from Fernández and<br />

his top deputy, Italian Msgr. Armando<br />

Matteo, regarding reception of the<br />

declaration. Perhaps the first thing to<br />

note is that at 2,200 words, the press<br />

release is half as long as the document<br />

it seeks to clarify — mathematically,<br />

anyway, suggesting that after a mere<br />

fortnight’s frenzied reaction, virtually<br />

every other word in the original text<br />

needed some sort of explanation.<br />

Certainly, it’s hard to remember the<br />

20 • ANGELUS • <strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

last time a prefect of what was once<br />

known as the “Holy Office,” and<br />

which is historically the successor to<br />

the Roman Inquisition, felt compelled<br />

to issue a public statement denying<br />

that his previous declaration contained<br />

anything “heretical, contrary<br />

to the tradition of the Church or<br />

blasphemous.”<br />

The press release capped what had<br />

been a spiraling series of media interviews<br />

by Fernández, including a Jan. 3<br />

interview with the German newspaper<br />

Die Tagespost, in which he called the<br />

document a “clear answer” to Germany’s<br />

effort to codify formal liturgical<br />

blessing ceremonies for same-sex<br />

couples.<br />

That interview seemed to create yet<br />

another bit of confusion: If the point<br />

was to deliver a verdict on a single<br />

nation, why did the Vatican choose to<br />

speak to the entire universal Church,<br />

publishing the first formal declaration<br />

from the Holy Office since Dominus<br />

Iesus (“The Lord Jesus”) in 2000,<br />

almost a quarter-century ago?<br />

Of all the unanswered questions<br />

about Fiducia Supplicans, however,<br />

perhaps this most basic one is the following:<br />

Does any of this really matter?<br />

Or, are we witnessing the latest Catholic<br />

cycle of sound and fury signifying<br />

relatively little?<br />

It’s a well-documented fact of Catholic<br />

life that sometimes we argue over<br />

It’s a well-documented fact of Catholic life that<br />

sometimes we argue over things that seem to<br />

have a great deal of symbolic importance, but<br />

which, over time, are revealed as less sweeping or<br />

monumental than we originally thought.<br />

things that seem to have a great deal<br />

of symbolic importance, but which,<br />

over time, are revealed as less sweeping<br />

or monumental than we originally<br />

thought.<br />

To take one example, Anglophone<br />

Catholics of a certain age will recall<br />

the titanic battles fought in the 1990s<br />

and 2000s over the new English translation<br />

of texts used in the Mass, known<br />

collectively as the “liturgy wars.”<br />

Oceans of ink were spilled arguing<br />

over matters such as “dynamic equivalence,”<br />

and whether it’s appropriate<br />

to use relatively obscure terms such as<br />

“consubstantial” and “oblation” in the<br />

people’s parts of the prayers.<br />

Supporters of the new translation<br />

predicted it would stir a liturgical renaissance<br />

of deeper and more reverent<br />

celebration. Critics forecast a liturgical<br />

exodus, as people would be so<br />

alienated by the remote and unnatural<br />

language they would vote with their<br />

feet against it.<br />

Participants attend a meeting of the third Synodal<br />

Assembly in Frankfurt, Germany, Feb. 4, 2021. Cardinal<br />

Fernández has said Fiducia Supplicans was a response<br />

to the German Church’s efforts to codify formal<br />

liturgical blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples. |<br />


<strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 21

<strong>No</strong>w that we’ve been living with the<br />

new texts for more than a decade, it<br />

seems abundantly clear neither the<br />

best-case nor the nightmare scenarios<br />

have materialized. In fact, the<br />

towering lesson seems to be instead<br />

that translation, while undeniably<br />

important, just isn’t the heart of the<br />

liturgical experience.<br />

Where a worship community is<br />

welcoming, music is stirring and<br />

preaching is gripping, the liturgy will<br />

come alive no matter what translation<br />

is used; conversely, where a community<br />

is cold, music banal and preaching<br />

uninspired, no translation will make<br />

much difference. We argue over translation<br />

because it’s the sort of thing that<br />

can be settled by committee, but the<br />

real difference-makers in the liturgy<br />

are all retail.<br />

To come to Fiducia Supplicans,<br />

there’s a reasonable case to be made<br />

that it’s another case of tremendous<br />

sizzle without a great deal of steak.<br />

To begin with, the document doesn’t<br />

prohibit or require anything. It simply<br />

authorizes priests to make case-bycase<br />

determinations as to whether a<br />

blessing is appropriate in a given set<br />

of circumstances. Bishops and pastors<br />

inclined to say yes probably were<br />

already doing so, albeit perhaps more<br />

quietly and circumspectly, while those<br />

disposed to say “no” aren’t being compelled<br />

to change their tune.<br />

Indeed, Fernández himself has<br />

more or less endorsed the positions of<br />

several African bishops’ conferences<br />

in concluding that such blessings are<br />

inappropriate in their contexts, as long<br />

as such discretion doesn’t imply “a<br />

total or definitive denial” of the document’s<br />

teaching.<br />

It’s also reasonable to wonder how<br />

much pent-up demand for such blessings<br />

there actually is. While there’s<br />

a sizable “LGBT community” in the<br />

Catholic world, a healthy percentage<br />

of those folks don’t go to church.<br />

Many of those who do have already<br />

found a home, often in sympathetic<br />

parishes where the pastor was already<br />

known for finding creative ways to<br />

offer a blessing on their lives well<br />

before Francis, Fernández, or Fiducia<br />

Supplicans came along. In addition, at<br />

least some of those practicing Catholics<br />

who identify as LGBT may not<br />

even want such a blessing, feeling that<br />

despite the best of intentions, it still<br />

falls short of the full marriage equality<br />

they seek from the Church.<br />

In other words, no matter how much<br />

dust it may throw up on social media<br />

and in op/ed pieces, the extent to<br />

which Fiducia Supplicans actually<br />

will change the situation in the<br />

trenches remains to be seen. It may<br />

well be that for most meat-and-potatoes<br />

Catholics, it’ll be another case of<br />

something that caused great consternation<br />

at the time but is actually hard<br />

to remember a year or so after the fact.<br />

In the end, the answer to the question<br />

of how much will really change<br />

is something that only time, and not<br />

repeated explanations from authority,<br />

is likely to make “perfectly clear.”<br />

John L. Allen Jr. is the editor of Crux.

Parishioners pray at the Metropolitan<br />

Cathedral in Managua, Nicaragua, last<br />

March amid the suspension of diplomatic<br />

ties between Nicaragua and the Vatican. |<br />



As Nicaragua’s violent crackdown on Catholics worsens,<br />

the US may be considering new ways to help them.<br />


ROME — Following the arrests<br />

of a second bishop and<br />

several priests, the U.S. State<br />

Department has once again included<br />

Nicaragua in its list of “Countries of<br />

Particular Concern.”<br />

In a statement released Jan. 4, U.S.<br />

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken<br />

said the countries on the list “engaged<br />

in or tolerated particularly severe<br />

violations of religious freedom.”<br />

“Governments must end abuses such<br />

as attacks on members of religious minority<br />

communities and their places<br />

of worship, communal violence, and<br />

lengthy imprisonment for peaceful<br />

expression, transnational repression,<br />

and calls to violence against religious<br />

communities, among other violations<br />

that occur in too many places around<br />

the world,” Blinken said.<br />

According to the Reuters news agency,<br />

Nicaraguan police arrested four<br />

priests — Msgr. Miguel Mantica, and<br />

Fathers Mikel Monterrey, Gerardo<br />

Rodriguez, and Raul Zamora — in<br />

their homes Dec. 30.<br />

Their arrests, along with the Dec.<br />

21 arrest of Bishop Isidoro Mora of<br />

Siuna, were made after they publicly<br />

expressed support for Bishop Rolando<br />

José Álvarez of Matagalpa, who was<br />

handed a 26-year prison sentence for<br />

his public opposition to the government<br />

of President Daniel Ortega<br />

and his wife, Vice President Rosario<br />

Murillo.<br />

In a Jan. 5 op-ed published in the<br />

Spanish newspaper El Pais, U.S.<br />

Ambassador-at-Large for International<br />

Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain,<br />

said the Ortega government’s “heavy<br />

hand extends beyond the Catholic<br />

Church” and evangelical communities<br />

have “faced similar wrath.”<br />

<strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 23

He also expressed the United States’<br />

commitment in helping “Nicaraguans<br />

as they work to (re)gain protection<br />

of and respect for their human rights<br />

and fundamental freedoms, and to<br />

reaffirm their democracy.”<br />

Nicaraguans, Hussain said, “deserve<br />

full restoration of their freedoms, and<br />

Bishop Álvarez deserves the opportunity<br />

to resume his ministry.”<br />

A senior state department official<br />

told <strong>Angelus</strong> that U.S. officials are<br />

figuring out how best to mitigate the<br />

government’s suppression of religious<br />

freedom.<br />

Blinken’s statement was released the<br />

same day the United States Commission<br />

on International Religious<br />

Freedom (USCIRF)<br />

expressed its “outrage”<br />

over the “brutal<br />

crackdown on members<br />

of the Catholic<br />

Church.”<br />

“It has become<br />

increasingly clear<br />

that President Daniel<br />

Ortega and Vice<br />

President Rosario<br />

Murillo are intent on<br />

silencing the voice<br />

of any individual<br />

peacefully following<br />

the dictates of their<br />

conscience,” said<br />

USCIRF Vice Chair<br />

Fredrick A. Davie.<br />

The USCIRF also<br />

condemned the Dec.<br />

24 sentencing of six<br />

former Caritas employees<br />

in the country<br />

“to six years imprisonment on dubious<br />

money laundering charges.”<br />

USCIRF Commissioner Frank Wolf<br />

called on Congress to hold Ortega’s<br />

government responsible by passing the<br />

“Restoring Sovereignty and Human<br />

Rights in Nicaragua Act of 2023,”<br />

a bill that would impose sanctions<br />

against Ortega’s government.<br />

The bill cited Ortega’s persecution of<br />

the Catholic Church, the arrest and<br />

torture of citizens, and expressed concern<br />

over his support of Russia and its<br />

invasion of Ukraine, which “poses a<br />

significant threat to global peace and<br />

stability in the Western Hemisphere.”<br />

Florida Republican Sen. Marco<br />

A recent photo released by the Nicaraguan government shows Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa<br />

receiving medical attention from a prison doctor. | X/ARTURO MCFIELDS YESCAS<br />

Rubio, who introduced the bill to<br />

Congress in June, also wrote a letter<br />

to Pope Francis Dec. 13 urging him<br />

to call for Álvarez’s release, citing<br />

recently revealed evidence “that<br />

strongly suggest that Bishop Álvarez<br />

has endured torture at the hands of<br />

the Ortega regime.”<br />

The Nicaraguan government released<br />

images of Álvarez receiving a<br />

medical examination in an apparent<br />

attempt to counter reports of the prelate’s<br />

mistreatment while incarcerated.<br />

Nevertheless, the images caused<br />

concern for the health of the bishop,<br />

who seemed much thinner dressed in<br />

a pink shirt and gray slacks.<br />

Father Edwing Román, a Nicaraguan<br />

priest residing in Florida who<br />

fled following threats against his life,<br />

tweeted that the government, which<br />

he called a “Sandinista dictatorship,”<br />

was flaunting the “physical deterioration”<br />

of the “unjustly condemned”<br />

bishop.<br />

He also condemned the arrests of<br />

Mora and the clergymen, exclaiming<br />

“¡Libertad!” (“Freedom!”)<br />

Auxiliary Bishop Silvio José Báez<br />

of Managua, who was exiled to the<br />

United States, also took to X (formerly<br />

known as Twitter) to condemn the<br />

Nicaraguan government for the “cynical<br />

and disrespectful” photos which<br />

he called an attempt at “cleaning up<br />

their crime.”<br />

“Understand that no one believes<br />

you! The only just thing is for Bishop<br />

Álvarez to be freed, along with Bishop<br />

Mora, his seminarians, and the other<br />

priests,” Báez tweeted.<br />

Báez, who also resides in Florida,<br />

visited Los Angeles over the weekend<br />

where he celebrated a Mass for the<br />

feast of Epiphany Jan. 6 at St. Vincent<br />

De Paul Church, along with Román.<br />

In his <strong>Angelus</strong> address Jan. 1, Francis<br />

expressed “deep concern” for the<br />

Catholic Church in the country<br />

“where bishops and priests have been<br />

deprived of their freedom.”<br />

“I also invite all of you present here,<br />

and all the people of God, to pray insistently;<br />

meanwhile<br />

I hope that we will<br />

always seek the path<br />

of dialogue to overcome<br />

difficulties. Let<br />

us pray for Nicaragua<br />

today,” the pope told<br />

pilgrims gathered in<br />

St. Peter’s Square.<br />

In an interview with<br />

the Spanish-language<br />

news site Infobae<br />

in March 2023, the<br />

pope issued a much<br />

stronger condemnation,<br />

calling Ortega<br />

“unstable” and comparing<br />

the current<br />

government to “the<br />

communist dictatorship<br />

of 1917 or the<br />

Hitler dictatorship of<br />

1935.”<br />

Nicaraguans took<br />

to the streets in 2018 after the government<br />

announced changes to the<br />

nation’s social security system. The<br />

protests turned deadly as Ortega’s government<br />

sought to suppress growing<br />

calls for his ouster.<br />

Since then, the Catholic Church in<br />

the country, which offered refuge in<br />

its parishes to protesters attacked by<br />

police and paramilitary groups, drew<br />

the president’s ire and led to a wave<br />

of arrests against clergy as well as the<br />

closure or exile of religious communities<br />

in the country.<br />

Junno Arocho Esteves is a freelance<br />

journalist based in Italy and Sweden.<br />

24 • ANGELUS • <strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

Managua auxiliary bishop, exiled<br />

priest visit LA parish for Epiphany<br />

Exiled prelate Bishop Silvio Báez encouraged<br />

LA-area Nicaraguans to seek the Lord while<br />

“fighting for peace, liberty, and justice without<br />

ever losing hope or giving up” during a visit to<br />

St. Vincent de Paul Church in Exposition Park on<br />

Epiphany weekend.<br />

“We Nicaraguans know well that in our history as<br />

a people we’ve lived through very dark periods in<br />

which terrible errors have been committed,” Báez<br />

said before hundreds at a Saturday, Jan. 6 Mass.<br />

“But we should never forget that, despite these<br />

failures, it’s always possible to start over and keep<br />

walking. In our history, God has always put new<br />

shining stars in our path for us to follow.”<br />

After the liturgy, hundreds of attendees greeted<br />

Báez and fellow exile Father Edwing Román of<br />

Managua for photos, autographs, and blessings at<br />

a reception in St. Vincent’s school auditorium,<br />

complete with traditional Nicaraguan food and<br />

music.<br />

To read more about Báez’s visit to Southern California,<br />

visit <strong>Angelus</strong><strong>News</strong>.com.<br />

— Theresa Cisneros<br />

Auxiliary Bishop Silvio Báez, at right in the background, and Father Edwing Román, foreground<br />

center, both of the Archdiocese of Managua in Nicaragua, process into St. Vincent de Paul Church<br />

in Exposition Park for Mass on Jan. 6. | VICTOR ALEMÁN



My abuelita moment<br />


Abuelita Lalita, my father’s mother, would give my<br />

sister and me a great treat every summer when we<br />

visited Miami from Mexico.<br />

On Saturday mornings when she was not working at the<br />

jean factory, she would take us downtown — a trip that<br />

consisted of two bus rides preceded and followed by long<br />

walks and waits in the melting heat. Our destination was the<br />

Sears department store, a veritable wonder-house of goods in<br />

which a person could buy anything — if they only had the<br />

money.<br />

Abuelita Lalita would make a modest purchase, something<br />

she had thought long and hard about, invariably accompanied<br />

by a carefully folded advertisement from the Nuevo<br />

Herald announcing a special low price that she pulled out of<br />

her purse. After that came our great moment: a hot dog and<br />

soda lunch at the counter of the adjacent Five and Ten. It<br />

was a treat we found glorious.<br />

Abuelita Lalita has been on my mind a lot lately. My son’s<br />

wife is expecting the very first child of the next generation of<br />

our family in March: a little girl who is making something<br />

new out of each of us — father, mother, uncle, abuelita.<br />

These are total transformations, like the ones that nature<br />

accomplishes every time a swimmy tadpole becomes a<br />

landlocked frog. It may be most remarkable in the case of<br />

the new mother and father, but my own “becoming abuelita”<br />

feels just as momentous to me. The child is granting<br />

me a whole new identity, in the proper sense of the word. I<br />

am taking on a novel role, forming a new, permanent bond,<br />

moving up a generation, acquiring, even, a fresh title. I am<br />

receiving at her little hands a whole new set of duties and<br />

responsibilities.<br />

It has made me reconsider the whole concept of identity,<br />

which we hear about constantly, usually attached to broad<br />

categories like sex, race, and nationality. This entirely misses<br />

the real source of identity, which is relational, and its nature,<br />

which is distinct. Human beings are not simply interchangeable<br />

members of a particular affinity group like checkers<br />

shifted around a board. We are unique persons who manifest<br />

26 • ANGELUS • <strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie is a mother of five<br />

who practices radiology in the Miami area.<br />

our individuality more fully with each personal bond we<br />

make, whether chosen or unchosen.<br />

We are, each of us, the unrepeatable center of a vast web of<br />

human connections, and in each strand, properly acknowledged<br />

and lived, is the source not only of individuality but<br />

of real fulfillment and meaning. We know this, instinctively.<br />

When asked who we are, we respond: I am so and so’s wife,<br />

or that person’s father, or my sister’s sister. If we go to the<br />

deepest, most fundamental source of our identity, we can<br />

each answer, in truth: I am an irreplaceable child of God.<br />

As he exists in a relationship of three persons creating eternally<br />

together, and as we are made in his image, we flourish<br />

exactly in the measure in which we love and are loved. This<br />

is why the saddest person imaginable is one who loves no<br />

one and is unaware of the great love God has for him or her.<br />

That kind of loneliness is not compatible with life.<br />

The rugged individualist who will not be beholden to<br />

anyone, the cynic who considers all human dealings transactional,<br />

the armchair Darwinist who sees others chiefly<br />

as opponents in the struggle for existence — these are all<br />

the types who deny the relational essence of man. Perhaps,<br />

at bottom, is a rejection of the burdens that each human<br />

connection lays upon us. To love someone is to act on their<br />

claims on us: for companionship, tenderness, encouragement,<br />

correction, material assistance — the list goes on. And<br />

their claims cannot be set aside for being inconvenient or<br />

ill-timed, or even for requiring some great sacrifice from us.<br />

I can’t tell for sure what claims upon her Abuelita Lalita<br />

was fulfilling when she took two little girls with her to Sears<br />

on those hot Saturday mornings. Maybe she was helping my<br />

mother a little by taking two of her children for a few hours.<br />

Perhaps she knew how hard it was for my sister and I to be<br />

all day in her little government apartment where it wasn’t<br />

safe to play outside. I imagine she found our joy at the lunch<br />

counter with its red revolving stools infectious, and that the<br />

joy sustained her on our weary return journey.<br />

What I do know for certain is that she was the irreplaceable<br />

— and unforgettable — center of a complex web of loving<br />

relationships. And that is exactly what I’m hoping to be, too,<br />

when I become an abuelita.<br />

<strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 27




An imaginary conversation between an unlikely<br />

pair of 20th-century thinkers may have made for<br />

the smartest film of 2023.<br />


Anthony Hopkins as Sigmund Freud and Matthew<br />

Goode as C.S. Lewis star in a scene from<br />

the movie “Freud’s Last Session.” | OSV NEWS/<br />



In 1939, on the eve of World War II,<br />

a Jewish psychiatrist named Sigmund<br />

Freud moved to London to escape<br />

the Nazi persecution in his native<br />

Vienna. Three weeks before his death,<br />

the famed inventor of psychoanalysis<br />

met with an unidentified Oxford professor<br />

in his apartment and conversed with<br />

him at length. To this day, we still do<br />

not know the identity of his visitor.<br />

American playwright Mark St.<br />

Germain wrote a play imagining that<br />

the professor was C.S. Lewis –– the<br />

famous scholar, philosopher, Christian<br />

apologist, and author of “The Chronicles<br />

of Narnia.” The script has been<br />

adapted for the new feature “Freud’s<br />

Last Session,” which opened in theaters<br />

Dec. 22.<br />

The most pressing topic in this fictional<br />

chat is, of course, the existence<br />

of God.<br />

In the film, Lewis has recently<br />

returned to Christianity under the<br />

influence of his friend J.R.R. Tolkien,<br />

while Freud has emerged as one of<br />

society’s most ardent atheists, claiming<br />

that religion is a figment of people’s<br />

imagination, a projection of their desire<br />

for protection and guidance, and a<br />

reflection of their relationship with<br />

their fathers.<br />

The conversation is set against a dramatic<br />

backdrop: London is preparing<br />

for airstrikes, trains full of children are<br />

being evacuated. Meanwhile, Freud<br />

is terminally ill with cancer and has<br />

already given his doctor instructions for<br />

his eventual euthanasia.<br />

In the hands of lesser talent, this<br />

project could easily have been a<br />

disaster. But fortunately for us, the great<br />

Anthony Hopkins doesn’t try to give us<br />

an impression of Freud — his Freud is<br />

a man, not a mask. Matthew Goode’s<br />

elegant, sharp portrayal of Lewis is just<br />

as effective at bringing out the humanity<br />

of his character (ironically, Hopkins<br />

played Lewis 30 years ago in the classic<br />

film “Shadowlands”).<br />

The film’s premise is attractive but<br />

28 • ANGELUS • <strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

also dangerous, inviting at least three<br />

significant risks.<br />

The first would have been to reduce<br />

an exceptionally complex intellectual<br />

debate into some sort of rhetorical<br />

showdown; the second would have<br />

been to take sides between the two<br />

men, turning the movie into an apology<br />

of one side or the other. The third<br />

would have been to make an impossibly<br />

boring film: philosophical debates<br />

make for great university classes, but<br />

for a movie one needs action, plot, and<br />

character.<br />

Somehow, “Last Session” manages to<br />

avoid all three. It is a film that does not<br />

tell you what to think about God — it<br />

tells you how to think about him. In<br />

other words, it shows what elements<br />

should be put into the equation required<br />

to solve the “God problem.”<br />

The characters’ discussion of God<br />

(and many other subjects) is not just<br />

an exchange of learned opinions, but<br />

features flashbacks and references to<br />

their own lives. Freud, for example,<br />

tackles the problem of suffering (a<br />

theme Lewis dedicated entire books to)<br />

by recalling the premature death of his<br />

daughter and grandson. The issue of<br />

paternity and the father-son relationship<br />

is discussed with reference to the two<br />

characters’ fathers, and to Freud’s own<br />

relationship with his daughter, Anna.<br />

The result demonstrates an important<br />

truth: that the question of God<br />

is inextricably linked with how we<br />

interpret the facts, the events of our<br />

lives. As Lewis suggests at the end of the<br />

film, God is everywhere, the world is<br />

crowded with him, yet he is incognito.<br />

We can recognize his presence or be<br />

completely blind to it, depending on<br />

our disposition.<br />

In this “Last Session,” both characters<br />

get to play the role of the analyst, and<br />

both recline on Freud’s famous couch<br />

as patients. Both are faced with the discrepancies<br />

between what they preach<br />

and how they live, and the film does<br />

not shy away from the most controversial<br />

aspects of their lives.<br />

At the time, Lewis lived with a much<br />

older woman, the mother of a friend<br />

deceased in World War I. Questioned<br />

by Freud about this relationship, Lewis<br />

refuses to provide a definitive answer,<br />

but the film seems to imply they were<br />

lovers (a topic of disagreement among<br />

Lewis’ biographers).<br />

The film is merciless in its portrayal of<br />

Freud’s dysfunctional relationship with<br />

his last daughter, Anna, who followed<br />

in his footsteps to become a major<br />

figure in child psychoanalysis. Her<br />

relationship with him, as Freud himself<br />

admits to Lewis, is at the root of her<br />

lesbianism, of which Freud disapproves.<br />

He blocks the advancement of her<br />

career, keeps her away from relationships<br />

with both men and women, and<br />

tyrannically demands her constant<br />

presence and attention.<br />

It does not take a Dr. Freud to understand<br />

she needs a break from him, but<br />

Freud selfishly denies her the freedom<br />

his treatment is supposed to provide.<br />

But the most important element in the<br />

equation arrives when the discussion<br />

shifts to the topic of Freud’s impending<br />

death. “You believe you can outthink<br />

your fear by hiding behind your desk in<br />

your den of gods. But the truth is you<br />

are terrified,” Lewis attacks.<br />

But Freud reminds Lewis of his terror<br />

in front of death in a previous scene,<br />

when the two took refuge in a bomb<br />

shelter during what turned out to be<br />

a false air-raid alarm.<br />

You did not seem too<br />

eager to meet your<br />

creator then, Freud<br />

adds.<br />

“Because you know<br />

beyond all your fairy<br />

tales that he does not<br />

exist,” Freud tells him.<br />

“You see, you bury<br />

your doubts, your<br />

memories of the war,<br />

but at the core of your<br />

being, you are a coward.<br />

We are all cowards<br />

before death.”<br />

Thankfully, this film<br />

will be a disappointment<br />

to those who<br />

wanted to see Lewis<br />

destroy Freud and his<br />

arguments (or vice<br />

versa). If there’s one<br />

takeaway from “Last<br />

Session,” it’s that it is imperative for<br />

each man to question himself about the<br />

existence of God — and that finding<br />

the answer is not easy.<br />

As Freud understood, we are all<br />

conditioned by our desires, traumas,<br />

and complex personal histories, and<br />

tempted to fashion a god with the attributes<br />

of our earthly fathers. Lewis, for<br />

example, grew up with an absentee father,<br />

leading him to search for a father<br />

in heaven to replace his missing one.<br />

But the same preconditioning, the<br />

film suggests, goes in the opposite<br />

direction. Freud’s hatred of his father<br />

compelled him to deny the existence<br />

of God no less than Lewis’ desire for a<br />

father figure prompted him to imagine<br />

a divine one.<br />

By the end of the film, Freud admits<br />

that “it was madness to think that we<br />

could solve the greatest mystery of all<br />

times.” “There is a greater madness,”<br />

Lewis replies, “not to think of it at all.”<br />

“The real trouble” he adds, “is to<br />

come awake, to stay awake” to the possibility<br />

of his existence. This intelligent<br />

film can help with this endeavor.<br />

Stefano Rebeggiani is an associate<br />

professor of classics at the University of<br />

Southern California.<br />

Sigmund Freud in<br />

1921. | WIKIMEDIA<br />



<strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 29



Our vocation is love<br />

<strong>Vol</strong>unteers drop off Christmas gifts and other items<br />

for needy families last month as part of the Archdiocese<br />

of Los Angeles’ Adopt-a-Family program. |<br />


“We, though many, are one Body in<br />

Christ and individually parts of one<br />

another. Since we have gifts that differ<br />

according to the grace given to us, let us<br />

exercise them: if prophecy, in proportion<br />

to the faith; if ministry, in ministering;<br />

if one is a teacher, in teaching; if one<br />

exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes,<br />

in generosity; if one is over others, with<br />

diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with<br />

cheerfulness.” — Romans <strong>12</strong>:5–8<br />

Last summer I gave a retreat entitled<br />

“The Vocation of the Artist”<br />

at Kylemore Abbey in Connemara,<br />

Ireland.<br />

The retreatants varied in age, nationality,<br />

demographic, and religious orientation.<br />

Some but not all were working artists.<br />

One young American woman was<br />

painting a series of Irish holy wells.<br />

Another, from Dublin, had designed<br />

stamps for An Post, the Irish postal<br />

service. One man, a Joycean scholar,<br />

wrote for The Irish Times. A 36-year-old<br />

woman taught at an inner-city Dublin<br />

school.<br />

Our credo was a quote from Russian<br />

playwright and short-story writer Anton<br />

Chekhov: “If you want to work on your<br />

art, work on your life.”<br />

I introduced some of the members of<br />

what I call my Personal Communion of<br />

Saints: fiber artist Judith Scott, born with<br />

Down syndrome; Butoh dancer Kazuo<br />

Ohno, self-taught marine biologist<br />

Maud Delap from County Donegal<br />

who bred jellyfish, the first person to do<br />

so anywhere in the world, in the family<br />

bathtub.<br />

The grounds of Kylemore (“Big<br />

Wood”) comprise the former estate<br />

of Mitchell Henry (1826-1910), an<br />

English financier and politician who<br />

planted over 300,000 trees. His castle,<br />

now open to the public, is situated on a<br />

rise that looks down on a mile-plus-long<br />

freshwater lake (Lough Pollucapal) and<br />

across to some of the majestic Connemara<br />

Hills.<br />

The opposite end of the estate boasts a<br />

showcase Victorian walled garden.<br />

Kylemore is also a working abbey of<br />

30 • ANGELUS • <strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>

Heather King is an award-winning<br />

author, speaker, and workshop leader.<br />

Benedictine nuns, founded in 1920,<br />

whose lives are anchored in prayer.<br />

Three times a day they gather in the<br />

monastic church: for morning prayer,<br />

noon Mass, and vespers.<br />

I, for one, was thrilled when Sister<br />

Máire, well into her 80s, trained in<br />

classics at Oxford, and a former abbess,<br />

asked if she could join some of our<br />

sessions. “Are you kidding?” I screeched.<br />

“We’d be honored.”<br />

We gave her the best, most comfortable<br />

seat. In her black habit, Sister<br />

Máire didn’t speak often but when<br />

she did speak, we instinctively leaned<br />

forward to hear every word. She was intelligent,<br />

articulate, honest, and utterly<br />

original. She didn’t ask the predictable<br />

question. She didn’t draw the predictable<br />

conclusion.<br />

At one point we fell into a discussion<br />

about untapped gifts; about allowing<br />

ourselves to feel the deepest desires of<br />

our hearts.<br />

As we went around the circle, people<br />

spoke of having jobs that paid well but<br />

did not necessarily address the hunger of<br />

their souls. One person spoke of gardening,<br />

another of poetry, a third held forth<br />

passionately on the theater. I offered<br />

that my own life is ordered to writing:<br />

physically, emotionally, spiritually.<br />

Then it was Sister Máire’s turn. “I’m<br />

not good at any of the wonderful things<br />

that have been mentioned,” she said.<br />

“I’m not a gardener. I have no aptitude<br />

for drawing or painting. I don’t shine at<br />

writing. I’m not even much of a cook.”<br />

She paused.<br />

“I think what I’ve tried to do, what I’ve<br />

developed over the years, is simply a<br />

desire to contribute as best I can to the<br />

community. To our small community<br />

of nuns.”<br />

She believes that effort avails. She<br />

believes that contribution goes out, not<br />

only to the Benedictine community at<br />

Kylemore, but to the whole world.<br />

Immediately I thought of St. Thérèse<br />

of Lisieux, who searched in vain for<br />

her own place in the Church and in<br />

the world. She came upon the passage<br />

where St. Paul observes that we are<br />

members of the body, each performing<br />

our own particular part.<br />

But I have so few practical skills, so<br />

little education. I’m not the legs, she<br />

thought, not the hands, not even the<br />

heart. At last it occurred to her to ask,<br />

What force moves the legs, the arms,<br />

the heart, the brain? Love! she realized.<br />

My vocation is love!<br />

The love-based effort to sustain and<br />

foster community, of various kinds, is<br />

possibly the most important vocation<br />

we can have on earth — and possibly<br />

the least flashy, the least likely to garner<br />

praise.<br />

To that end, this might be a good way<br />

of taking our spiritual temperature as<br />

the year begins: How am I contributing<br />

to and participating with the people in<br />

my household, my parish, my neighborhood,<br />

my social circle, the Church?<br />

As a 4th-century desert father observed,<br />

“If a man settles in a certain place and<br />

does not bring forth the fruit of that<br />

place, the place itself casts him out, as<br />

one who has not borne its fruit.”<br />

And as Sister Máire reminds us,<br />

however noble the vocation of the artist,<br />

there is no art higher than to love the<br />

Lord God with our whole heart, our<br />

whole soul, our whole strength, our<br />

whole mind — and to try to love our<br />

neighbor, wherever we may be planted,<br />

as ourselves.<br />

<strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 31



Scott Hahn is founder of the<br />

St. Paul Center for Biblical<br />

Theology; stpaulcenter.com.<br />

Mid-month at the oasis<br />

St. Anthony of Egypt was not the first monk, but he’s often<br />

called the Father of Monasticism. He set an example that<br />

people saw and wanted to imitate. And I mean many<br />

people. It’s often said that he turned the desert into a city.<br />

Anthony, whose feast we<br />

celebrate on Jan. 17, led a<br />

fascinating life. He lived in<br />

tombs and for a while in<br />

an abandoned fort. He did<br />

spiritual combat with squadrons<br />

of demons sent from hell<br />

to drag him down.<br />

But I’m most fascinated with<br />

the quiet beginning of his<br />

story. It all started at Mass,<br />

during the reading of the<br />

Gospel.<br />

St. Athanasius knew<br />

Anthony and wrote his first<br />

biography. He tells us that<br />

Anthony was a young man<br />

when he lost both parents and<br />

inherited his family’s substantial<br />

farmlands. Then, “not six<br />

months after the death of his<br />

parents, he went according to<br />

custom to the Lord’s house. ...<br />

He entered the church, and<br />

it happened the Gospel was<br />

being read, and he heard the<br />

Lord saying to the rich man,<br />

‘If you would be perfect, go,<br />

sell what you possess and give<br />

to the poor, and you will have<br />

treasure in heaven’ (Matthew<br />

19:21). Anthony, ... as if the<br />

passage had been read on his<br />

account, went out immediately<br />

from the church, and gave<br />

the possessions of his forefathers<br />

to the villagers.”<br />

It happened just like that. He heard the Gospel at Mass, and<br />

it changed him. I should say that he listened to the Gospel at<br />

Mass. And then he went off to lead a solitary life.<br />

It was an ordinary Mass in a rural village. I’m sure the priest<br />

“St. Anthony of Egypt holding a rosary and a staff, with an angel — miniature from<br />

the Book of Hours of Simon de Varie,” by Getijdenboek van Simon de Varie, Master<br />

of Jean Rolin II, 15th century, French. | WIKIMEDIA COMMONS<br />

or deacon who recited the Gospel was an ordinary clergyman<br />

and there was nothing special about his delivery.<br />

But the proclamation re-echoed for centuries. Anthony went<br />

off, and hundreds followed him. Athanasius wrote a bestselling<br />

book about Anthony’s life,<br />

so that even after his death<br />

— and long after his death<br />

— thousands followed him.<br />

Within a century of its first<br />

publication, Athanasius’ “Life<br />

of Anthony” had influenced<br />

Augustine, Jerome, Rufinus,<br />

Evagrius, and many others.<br />

Such is the power of sacred<br />

Scripture when it’s proclaimed<br />

in the Mass. The church is the<br />

normal place for the delivery<br />

of the word of God. And Mass<br />

is the ordinary time. It’s a<br />

graced moment.<br />

In Anthony’s world, few people<br />

could read, and only the<br />

wealthiest could own books.<br />

They encountered the inspired<br />

word as they encountered the<br />

incarnate Word, when they attended<br />

the liturgy on Sunday.<br />

The Church’s liturgy — its<br />

public, ritual worship — was<br />

and remains the natural and<br />

supernatural habitat of the<br />

Church’s Scriptures.<br />

When that simple parish<br />

priest read aloud from St. Matthew’s<br />

Gospel, he changed the<br />

course of history. He enriched<br />

millions of lives. And he almost<br />

certainly never knew the<br />

effect during his earthly life.<br />

I don’t think that was a<br />

unique event. I don’t even<br />

think it was unusual. In every Mass you and I attend, God is<br />

shaping the future through the Gospel proclamation of the<br />

covenant renewed in the Eucharist.<br />

We need to listen.<br />

32 • ANGELUS • <strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong>


30th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast.<br />

Proud Bird Restaurant, 11022 Aviation Blvd., Los Angeles,<br />

8-11 a.m. Organized by the African American Catholic<br />

Center for Evangelization. Keynote speaker: professor<br />

Michael Howard, Black Catholic program, LMU. Cost: $50/<br />

donation. Visit aaccfe.org.<br />

Christian Coaching: Prospering the Body, Soul, and Spirit.<br />

Holy Spirit Retreat Center, 4316 Lanai Rd., Encino, 9:30<br />

a.m.-3:30 p.m. For more information, visit hsrcenter.com or<br />

call 818-815-4480.<br />

■ SUNDAY, JANUARY 14<br />

Diaconate Virtual Information Day. 2-4 p.m. Open to all<br />

those interested in joining the diaconate program. Email<br />

your name, parish, and pastor’s name to dmz2011@la-archdiocese.org.<br />

■ MONDAY, JANUARY 15<br />

End of Life Preparation. St. Bruno Church, 15740 Citrustree<br />

Rd., Whittier, 9-10:30 a.m. or 7-8:30 p.m. RSVP to<br />

Cathy by Jan. 10 at 562-631-8844.<br />


Healing Garden Blessing and Dedication. St. Bernadette<br />

Church, 3825 Don Felipe Dr., Los Angeles, 8:45 a.m. dedication.<br />

Mass will be celebrated at 8 a.m. The Archdiocese<br />

of Los Angeles’ Victims Assistance Ministry will dedicate<br />

the fourth healing garden for LA Catholics.<br />

LACBA CFJ Veterans Record Clearing Clinic. Virtual,<br />

5-8 p.m. Assisting with clearing California traffic tickets,<br />

expunging criminal records, and felony reductions. Open<br />

to Southern California veterans. Registration required. Call<br />

213-896-6537 or email inquiries-veterans@lacba.org.<br />


Children’s Bureau: Foster Care Zoom Orientation. 4-5<br />

p.m. Children’s Bureau is now offering two virtual ways for<br />

individuals and couples to learn how to help children in<br />

foster care while reunifying with birth families or how to<br />

provide legal permanency by adoption. A live Zoom orientation<br />

will be hosted by a Children’s Bureau team member<br />

and a foster parent. For those who want to learn at their<br />

own pace about becoming a foster and/or fost-adopt parent,<br />

an online orientation presentation is available. To RSVP<br />

for the live orientation or to request the online orientation,<br />

email rfrecruitment@all4kids.org.<br />

■ FRIDAY, JANUARY 19<br />

Praise and Worship Mass and Healing Prayers. St. Frances<br />

of Rome Church, 501 E. Foothill Blvd., Azusa, 6 p.m. Celebrant:<br />

Father Parker Sandoval. Music by Clarissa Martinez.<br />

OneLife LA Holy Hour. St. Teresa of Avila Church, 2216<br />

Fargo St., Los Angeles, 7-8 p.m. Visit onelifela.org/holy-hour<br />

for more.<br />


Alleluia Dance Theatre: Embracing All There Is. Holy<br />

Spirit Retreat Center, 4316 Lanai Rd., Encino, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.<br />

For more information, visit hsrcenter.com or call 818-815-<br />

4480.<br />

Embracing the Winter of Life: Aging to Saging. Mary & Joseph<br />

Retreat Center, 5300 Crest Rd., Rancho Palos Verdes,<br />

9 a.m.-<strong>12</strong> p.m. Workshop will help connect with your inner<br />

sage to the divine to help you age in comfort and health.<br />

Areas covered include spirituality, mental, geographical,<br />

financial wellness, and more. Email MarkMitchellSpeaks@<br />

gmail.com.<br />

100th Celebration. St. Sebastian Church, 1453 Federal<br />

Ave., Los Angeles, 10 a.m. Mass. Celebrant: Bishop Matthew<br />

Elshoff. Reception to follow. Email stsebastianoffice@<br />

gmail.com.<br />

OneLife LA. LA State Historic Park, <strong>12</strong>45 N. Spring St., Los<br />

Angeles, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Join Archbishop José H. Gomez on<br />

a walk for life through downtown Los Angeles, followed by<br />

a festival with speakers, music, and food. Theme: “10 Years<br />

Together As One.” For more information, visit onelifela.org.<br />

Requiem Mass for the Unborn. Cathedral of Our Lady of<br />

the Angels, 555 W. Temple St., Los Angeles, 5 p.m. Archbishop<br />

José H. Gomez will celebrate the annual Mass for the<br />

Unborn to end OneLife LA.<br />

■ SUNDAY, JANUARY 21<br />

Feast of Santo Niño Mass. Cathedral of Our Lady of the<br />

Angels, 555 W. Temple St., Los Angeles, 3 p.m. procession,<br />

3:30 p.m. Mass. Principal celebrant: Bishop Brian Nunes.<br />

Hosted by the Santo Niño Cruzada (SNCU) organization.<br />

Bring statues of Santo Niño for a special blessing.<br />

■ MONDAY, JANUARY 22<br />

Mass and Healing Service. St. Rose of Lima Church, 1305<br />

Royal Ave., Simi Valley, 7 p.m. Celebrant: Father Michael<br />

Barry, with Deacon Pete Wilson. Call 805-526-1732.<br />


LACBA Family Law Clinic. Virtual, 2-5 p.m. Covers child<br />

support, custody, divorce, and spousal support. Open to LA<br />

County veterans. Registration required. Call 213-896-6537<br />

or email inquiries-veterans@lacba.org.<br />


The Indwelling Wholeness of the Trinity. St. Andrew<br />

Church, 538 Concord St., El Segundo, 9:30 a.m.-3:45 p.m.<br />

Retreat focuses on a contemplative experience to prayerfully<br />

enter the inner sanctum of the heart in the art of attention.<br />

Cost: $25/offering, includes continental breakfast<br />

and lunch salad bar. RSVP by Jan. 20. Contact nbstjames@<br />

gmail.com.<br />

■ SUNDAY, JANUARY 28<br />

Mass Honoring Sisters of Mercy. St. Pius X School, 10855<br />

S. Pioneer Blvd., Santa Fe Springs, 10 a.m. St. Pius X parish<br />

and school will celebrate 33 years of service by the Sisters<br />

of Mercy with a special Mass and dedication. Call 562-234-<br />

1165.<br />

■ MONDAY, JANUARY 29<br />

End of Life Preparation. St. Bruno Church, 15740 Citrustree<br />

Rd., Whittier, 9-10:30 a.m. or 7-8:30 p.m. RSVP to<br />

Cathy by Jan. 10 at 562-631-8844.<br />


Ethical Leadership Lunch. Cathedral of Our Lady of the<br />

Angels, 555 W. Temple St., Los Angeles, 11:30 a.m.-1:30<br />

p.m. Event brings together Catholic leaders from the business<br />

world to discuss how ethical practices positively impact<br />

our community. For more, visit lacatholics.org/events.<br />


Nun Run, 5K, 1-Mile, and Community Service Fair. La<br />

Reina High School, 106 W. Janss Rd., Thousand Oaks,<br />

8 a.m. 10th annual Nun Run, hosted by Sisters of <strong>No</strong>tre<br />

Dame, will raise proceeds for local and global outreach.<br />

Visit nun.run.<br />

Items for the calendar of events are due four weeks prior to the date of the event. They may be emailed to calendar@angelusnews.com.<br />

All calendar items must include the name, date, time, address of the event, and a phone number for additional information.<br />

<strong>January</strong> <strong>12</strong>, <strong>2024</strong> • ANGELUS • 33

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