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12 things to know and share about the Holy Trinity

The Most Holy and Undivided Trinity. / Credit: Lawrence OP via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

National Catholic Register, May 26, 2024 / 04:00 am (CNA).

The Catholic Church teaches that the Holy Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith. But how much do we know about this mystery? What is its history? What does it mean? And how can it be proved?

Here are 12 things to know and to share.

1. Where does the word “Trinity” come from?

It comes from the Latin word “trinitas,” which means “three” or “triad.” The Greek equivalent is “triados.”

 2. When was the word first used?

The first surviving use of the term (there may have been earlier uses that are now lost) was about 170 A.D. by Theophilus of Antioch, who wrote:

“In like manner also the three days which were before the luminaries are types of the Trinity [Τριάδος], of God, and His Word, and His wisdom. And the fourth is the type of man, who needs light, that so there may be God, the Word, wisdom, man” (“To Autolycus,” 2:15).

3. What is the Trinity?

The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains it this way:

“The Church expresses her trinitarian faith by professing a belief in the oneness of God in whom there are three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The three divine Persons are only one God because each of them equally possesses the fullness of the one and indivisible divine nature. They are really distinct from each other by reason of the relations which place them in correspondence to each other. The Father generates the Son; the Son is generated by the Father; the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son” (No. 48).

 4. Is the Trinity the central mystery of the Christian faith?

Yes. The compendium explains:

“The central mystery of Christian faith and life is the mystery of the Most Blessed Trinity. Christians are baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (No. 44).

5. When did the Church infallibly define the Trinity?

The dogma of the Trinity was defined in two stages, at the First Council of Nicaea (325 A.D.) and the First Council of Constantinople (381 A.D.).

First Nicaea defined the divinity of the Son and wrote the part of the Creed that deals with the Son.

This council was called to deal with the heresy known as Arianism, which claimed that the Son was a supernatural being but not God.

First Constantinople defined the divinity of the Holy Spirit and wrote the part of the Creed that deals with the Spirit.

This council dealt with a heresy known as Macedonianism (because its advocates were from Macedonia), which denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit. This heresy was also called Pneumatomachianism (from a Greek phrase meaning “fighting the Spirit”).

6. How can the Trinity be proved?

The Trinity can only be proved through the divine revelation that Jesus brought us. It cannot be proved by natural reason or from the Old Testament alone. The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

“God has left some traces of his trinitarian being in creation and in the Old Testament but his inmost being as the Holy Trinity is a mystery which is inaccessible to reason alone or even to Israel’s faith before the Incarnation of the Son of God and the sending of the Holy Spirit. This mystery was revealed by Jesus Christ and it is the source of all the other mysteries” (No. 45).

Although the vocabulary used to express the doctrine of the Trinity took time to develop, we can demonstrate the different aspects of the doctrine from Scripture.

7. How can we show from Scripture that there is only one God?

The fact that there is only one God was already made clear in the Old Testament. For example, the book of Isaiah proclaims:

“You are my witnesses, says the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me” (Is 43:10).

“Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god” (Is 44:6).

8. How can we show that the Father is God? 

The Father is proclaimed as God numerous times in the New Testament. For example, St. Paul declares:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Cor 1:3).

“There is ... one God and Father of us all, who is above all and through all and in all” (Eph 4:4-6).

 9. How can we show that the Son is God?

This is proclaimed in a variety of places in the New Testament, including at the beginning of the Gospel of John:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ... And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father” (Jn 1:1, 14).

And later:

“Then [Jesus] said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’” (Jn 20:27-28).

 10. How can we show that the Holy Spirit is God?

In the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit is portrayed as a divine Person who speaks and who can be lied to:

“While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them’” (Acts 13:2).

“But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? ... You have not lied to men but to God’” (Acts 5:3-4).

11. How can we show that the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are distinct Persons?

The distinction of the persons can be shown, for example, in the fact that Jesus speaks to his Father. This would make no sense if they were one and the same person.

“At that time Jesus declared, ‘I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will’” (Mt 11:25-26).

The fact that Jesus is not the same Person as the Holy Spirit is revealed when Jesus — who has been functioning as the Counselor (Greek, “Parakletos”) of the disciples — says he will pray to the Father and the Father will given then “another Counselor,” who is the Holy Spirit. This shows the distinction of all three Persons: Jesus who prays; the Father who sends; and the Spirit who comes:

“And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you” (Jn 14:16-17).

12. How can we show that the Son is generated by the Father and that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son?

The fact that the Son is generated by the Father is indicated by the names of these Persons. Sons are generated by fathers. The second Person of the Trinity would not be a Son if he were not generated by the first Person as his Father.

The fact that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son is reflected in another statement of Jesus:

“But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me” (Jn 15:26).

This depicts the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son (“whom I shall send”). Here the outward operations of the Persons of the Trinity reflect their mutual relations with each other. It may also be said that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son.

For more on the procession of the Holy Spirit, click here.

This article was first published by the National Catholic Register, CNA's sister news partner, on June 7, 2020, and has been updated and adapted by CNA.

Pope Francis meets with 50,000 for World Children’s Day in Rome’s Olympic Stadium

Pope Francis watches a friendly soccer game between Italian professional soccer players with children clad in uniforms as part of the first World Children’s Day on May 25, 2024, at Olympic Stadium in Rome. / Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA

Rome Newsroom, May 25, 2024 / 14:05 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis on Saturday addressed the first World Children’s Day, a gathering with children from around the globe, where he spoke on the importance of building a future based on peace, hope, and dialogue.

“In you, children, everything speaks of life and the future. The Church, as a mother, welcomes you and accompanies you with tenderness and hope,” the pope said to the estimated 50,000 in attendance at Rome’s Olympic Stadium on May 25.

Pope Francis is surrounded by children in Rome’s Olympic Stadium for World Children’s Day on May 25, 2024. Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA
Pope Francis is surrounded by children in Rome’s Olympic Stadium for World Children’s Day on May 25, 2024. Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA

Recalling his meeting with nearly 7,000 children last November — an event sponsored by the Dicastery for Culture and Education dedicated to the theme “Let Us Learn from Boys and Girls” — the pope explained that the meeting “left a lasting impression in my heart” and was the catalyst for World Children’s Day.

“I prayed and realized that our conversation had to continue and expand to reach more children and young people,” the pope said. “That is why we are here today: to keep the dialogue going, to ask questions and seek answers together.”

Pope Francis is surrounded by children as he watches a friendly soccer match between Italian professional players and children in Rome’s Olympic Stadium for World Children’s Day on May 25, 2024. Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA
Pope Francis is surrounded by children as he watches a friendly soccer match between Italian professional players and children in Rome’s Olympic Stadium for World Children’s Day on May 25, 2024. Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA

World Children’s Day is a new initiative by Pope Francis sponsored by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Culture and Education in collaboration with the Catholic community of Sant’Egidio, the Auxilium Cooperative, and the Italian Football Federation.

The event commenced at Rome’s Olympic Stadium, transformed into the “Children’s Village,” at 3:30 p.m. local time. Italian professional soccer players engaged in a friendly soccer match with some of the children clad in uniforms.

Pope Francis arrived at the stadium in the white “popemobile” at approximately 4:40 p.m. against the backdrop of thunderous cheers from the crowd, who represented more than 100 nationalities.

Pope Francis arrives at Rome’s Olympic Stadium in the white “popemobile” for World Children’s Day on May 25, 2024. Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA
Pope Francis arrives at Rome’s Olympic Stadium in the white “popemobile” for World Children’s Day on May 25, 2024. Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA

The pope took a seat in the arena, where he was surrounded by children, where he opened his speech addressing some of the issues children face but encouraged them to have faith.

Speaking on the theme of war and peace, the pope asked the children: “Are you sad about the wars?” To which they answered in unison: “Yes!”

“You are saddened because many of your peers cannot go to school. There are girls and boys who cannot go to school. They are realities that I also carry in my heart, and I pray for them,” the pope said.

Pope Francis addresses some of the issues children face, encouraging them to have faith during World Children’s Day on May 25, 2024, in Rome’s Olympic Stadium. Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA
Pope Francis addresses some of the issues children face, encouraging them to have faith during World Children’s Day on May 25, 2024, in Rome’s Olympic Stadium. Credit: Daniel Ibañez/CNA

“We pray for the children who cannot go to school, for the children who suffer from wars, for the children who have nothing to eat, for the children who are sick and no one cares for them,” he said.

But striking an optimistic note, the pope asked the children if they knew the motto of the event, telling them that it is taken from the Bible: “Behold, I Make All Things New.”

“This is the motto. It’s beautiful,” Pope Francis said. “Think: God wants this, everything that is not new passes away. God is new. The Lord always gives us news.”

“Let’s move forward and have joy,” the pope said in his closing remarks. “Joy is health for the soul.”

At the end of the address, the pope asked the attendees to join him in praying the Hail Mary. “Let’s pray to the Mother, to the Mother of Heaven. ”

Earlier in the morning, Pope Francis met with a group of Palestinian and Ukrainian children at the Vatican. Some of the children had lost their parents, while others lost limbs or had other visible injuries.

Pope Francis meets with a group of Palestinian and Ukrainian children at the Vatican on May 25, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media
Pope Francis meets with a group of Palestinian and Ukrainian children at the Vatican on May 25, 2024. Credit: Vatican Media

Vatican news reported that the encounter was organized by Father Marcin Schmidt, who introduced the children and spoke on the struggles they’ve faced.

On Sunday morning the children will join Pope Francis for Mass in St. Peter’s Square at 10:30 a.m. Afterward the pope will deliver the Angelus address at noon from the window of the Apostolic Palace, accompanied by Italian actor Roberto Benigni.

Carbon dating reveals true age of purported tunics of St. Peter and St. John

null / Credit: TIZIANA FABI/AFP via Getty Images

Rome Newsroom, May 25, 2024 / 13:30 pm (CNA).

The Vatican Museums on Thursday announced the new permanent exhibition of two relics purportedly belonging to St. Peter and St. John the Evangelist, shedding light on their origin and age.

The conference titled “The Tunics of St. Peter and St. John, Two Extraordinary Relics of the Sancta Sanctorum,” presented a historic overview of the two relics — a tunic of St. Peter and a dalmatic belonging to St. John the Evangelist — as well as presentations on the intensive restoration process concluded by the Tapestries and Textiles Restoration Laboratory of the Vatican Museums and the report analysis performed by the museums’ Cabinet of Scientific Research.

“The tunic with narrow sleeves, in particular, dates back to the sixth/seventh century, while the dalmatic dates back to between the end of the first and the beginning of the third century,” said Alessandro Vella, expert of Christian antiquity at the Vatican Museums, on the museum’s carbon dating analysis.

“If the tunic with narrow sleeves dates from the next years of the pontificate of Gregory the Great,” he continued, “it evidently cannot have belonged either to St. John the Evangelist nor to St. Peter, nor to any of the apostles. It would therefore be a false relic.”

But Vella noted the garments can still hold devotional value, a claim he made referencing a letter from Pope Pelagius from the middle of the sixth century on a practice “used to obtain secondary relics.”

“Any commonly used garment could be placed in contact with the venerated tomb of a saint,” he said. “At that point the robe, a tunic, specifically, left for three days at the tomb of St. Peter, would have absorbed the sanctifying virtues ‘ex contactu,’ by contact, and would in turn have become a relic if our only one was truly identifiable with the relic of St. John.”

The garments were held in the Sancta Sanctorum (Holy of Holies), a chapel located at the top of the Scala Santa (the Holy Stairs) on the inside of the original Lateran Palace, which sits adjacent to the archbasilica of St. John Lateran, the official seat of the pope as the bishop of Rome.

The Sancta Sanctorum was used to store objects of inestimable artistic and devotional values, going back to at least the middle of the eighth century, and became the private oratory of the popes. The collection included items such as the jeweled cross of Pope Sergius, relics belonging to St. Praxedes and St. Agnes, as well as the Uronica icon, an image of Christ as ruler of the universe, attributed to St. Luke.

In 1903 Pope Leo XIII allowed for scholars to enter the site to open up an investigation of the relics. But it wasn’t until 1905 that a blacksmith was able to open the two 13th-century bronze doors that enclosed the iron vault under the altar.

“The reliquaries, as well as the textiles, were transferred to the Christian Museum of the Vatican Library in 1906, then to the Vatican Museums in accordance with the rescriptum of Pope John Paul II in 1999,” explained the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, a group dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the museums’ extensive collection of artwork.

Vella shed light on the origin of the items in the collection, noting that they are not only of great devotional value but also represent the extensive diplomatic exchange that cut across the Mediterranean world.

“The composition analyzed by scholars reveals that it was not a random collection of objects collected by pilgrims during their travels but rather diplomatic gifts exchanged between the heads of the ecclesiastical hierarchies and particularly between the popes and patriarchs of Jerusalem.”

“So these movements, these journeys, of the relics,” Vella continued, “followed official diplomatic channels, which are also attested by various other examples.”

Chronicling this historical development is important, Vella emphasized, as it offers an explanation on how the tunics arrived in the collection.

“If our tunic were truly identifiable with the relic of St. John — and there are clearly doubts that remain — this would be the origin we should attribute to it,” Vella said. “That is, it would be a garment dating back to the end of the sixth century, ritually sanctified thanks to contact with the tomb of the Evangelist John in the basilica dedicated to the saint in the city of Ephesus, Turkey, which then reached Rome and the Lateran, possibly passing through Syracuse.” 

Kenyan pilgrims begin more than 200-mile walk to mark Ugandan Martyrs Day

Pilgrims on their way to Ugandan Martyrs' Day on May 21, 2024. / Credit: St. Joseph's Cathedral of Kakamega Diocese

ACI Africa, May 25, 2024 / 08:00 am (CNA).

One of Africa’s — and the world’s — largest religious gatherings will take place on June 3 in Kampala, Uganda, and one group from Kenya has already begun its more than 200-mile pilgrimage to arrive for the yearly event. 

Ugandan Martyrs Day this year will draw anywhere from 500,000 to millions of Catholics and other Christians from across the continent of Africa.

Pilgrims from the Nzoia Deanery of the Diocese of Kakamega are traveling to Uganda’s Namugongo Shrine, where the event takes place, bringing with them various prayer intentions — among them, “praying that more people may embrace, in faith and fidelity, the call of God in their respective lives,” according to ACI Africa, CNA’s news partner in Africa. 

Blessed and sent off on Tuesday, May 21, by Father Columban Odhiambo, the parish priest of St. Joseph the Worker Kongoni Parish in the Kakamega Diocese, the pilgrims will cover 18-25 miles each day.

Pilgrims to Uganda Martyrs' Day 2024 from Nzoia Deanery of the Catholic Diocese of Kakamega in Kenya, with the parish priest of St. Joseph the Worker Kongoni Parish, Father Columban Odhiambo, on May 21, 2024. Credit: St. Joseph the Worker Kongoni Parish/Kakamega Diocese
Pilgrims to Uganda Martyrs' Day 2024 from Nzoia Deanery of the Catholic Diocese of Kakamega in Kenya, with the parish priest of St. Joseph the Worker Kongoni Parish, Father Columban Odhiambo, on May 21, 2024. Credit: St. Joseph the Worker Kongoni Parish/Kakamega Diocese

In an interview with ACI Africa, Odhiambo said the intention to pray for the growth of vocations to the priesthood, religious life, and marriage was inspired by a May 11 priestly ordination, which the Kenyan Deanery hosted at St. Mark’s Nzoia Parish in the Kakamega Diocese. Nine deacons were ordained priests — seven for the diocese and two for the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin (OFM Cap).

The long pilgrimage to Namugongo, Odhiambo said, “is simply a spiritual journey. The pilgrims have personal intentions, and some have been given intentions by their parishes” to be included in their collective prayer intention.

The Kenyan pilgrims, who are being accompanied by two priests, had an opportunity to participate in the sacrament of confession and Mass before embarking on their spiritual journey to Namugongo. Along the way, they will meet dozens of other faithful walking from the Kakamega Diocese and, together, about 150 of them “will sing, pray the rosary, pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and will go to confession,” Odhiambo told ACI Africa.

The priest said the deanery’s pilgrimage group of 19 is the largest number so far to make the pilgrimage. “Last year, we only had three,” he said.

A blessing of pilgrims who are on their way to Uganda Martyrs' Day, May 21, 2024. Credit: St. Joseph the Worker Kongoni Parish/Kakamega Diocese
A blessing of pilgrims who are on their way to Uganda Martyrs' Day, May 21, 2024. Credit: St. Joseph the Worker Kongoni Parish/Kakamega Diocese

The Namugongo Shrine in Uganda is one of the most popular sites on the northeast edge of the Archdiocese of Kampala. It is the site where St. Charles Lwanga and his companions were burned alive by the order of King Mwanga II of the Buganda kingdom. 

The Ugandan Martyrs’ Day dates back to the first decade of Christian presence in the East African nation when 45 men between the ages of 14 and 50 years old were killed between Jan. 31, 1885, and Jan. 27, 1887, because they would not renounce their faith.

Twenty-two of the martyrs were beatified in 1920 and canonized in 1964.

This article was originally published by ACI Africa, CNA's news partner in Africa, and has been adapted by CNA.

Cardinal Hollerich: ‘Today we have politicians. Politicians have no convictions’

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, relator general of Synod on Synodality, speaks to the media on June 20, 2023, at the temporary headquarters of the Holy See Press Office in Vatican City. / Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA

CNA Deutsch, May 25, 2024 / 07:00 am (CNA).

In an interview with the French newspaper La Croix on Thursday, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, SJ, discussed the European elections and the dwindling influence of Christianity on politics. 

Hollerich is archbishop of Luxembourg, a member of the Council of Cardinals that advises Pope Francis, and a key figure at the Synod on Synodality, where he serves as relator general.

“This is a political consequence of the decline of Christianity and Catholicism in Europe because it is a fact that Christians in Europe are now a minority and will become even more so in the coming years,” he said, explaining the current political position of Christians in Europe.

This decline had led to a “lack of ideas” and a lack of politicians of the caliber of Robert Schuman and Alcide De Gasperi — two staunch Catholics and founders of the European Union.

“Today we have politicians. Politicians have no convictions: They read polls and adapt what they think to them. This is a huge mistake that I see at both national and European levels,” the cardinal said.

Compelling political argumentation has faded into the background, he added. “Today, those who govern us no longer have a backbone.”

Hollerich went on to say that other “ideals” — such as ecology and climate change — are supported by a large part of the population, which he also shared because “they are a necessity in order to save humanity.”

Climate change must be tackled, the cardinal said, because it otherwise “will kill just as many people as war.”

Regarding the Church’s role in dealing with political and social issues, Hollerich said it should engage the world in a dialog based on the Second Vatican Council.

The archbishop of Luxembourg said that some “ideals, such as globalization, are supported by a small bourgeois, rich, and intellectual minority. As far as the various socialist parties are concerned, in many countries they have begun to promote social reforms rather than social welfare reforms.”

Nevertheless, the cardinal said he continues to see Christians as a resource for the future of the European Union and compared their current situation with that of the minority of Soviets during the Russian Revolution. Despite their quantitative inferiority, they succeeded in implementing their idea.

Concerning the upcoming European elections, the cardinal stated: “We have become accustomed to the European Union. We are no longer aware of the advantages of this political institution and the will behind it.”

Hollerich also warned against a return to fascism. “It’s already here. I don’t want to snub Italy, but the ruling party there is post-fascist,” he said. “That scares me, especially as I come from a family where everyone was in the resistance. As a young boy, I heard stories from the Second World War.”

On the subject of abortion, the cardinal condemned “rich society” for finding no other solution than “killing unborn children.” He warned: “History will judge us.”

This article was originally published in CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, and has been translated and adapted by CNA.

‘Come and get it’: Texas Catholic charity gives away nearly 50,000 pounds of potatoes

Local residents collect potatoes from Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle on May 17, 2024. / Credit: Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle

CNA Staff, May 25, 2024 / 06:00 am (CNA).

A Catholic charity in Texas managed to give away nearly 25 tons of potatoes to the local community after receiving the massive donation as part of a food drive.

Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle’s Interfaith Hunger Project “received a HUGE donation of potatoes” from an anonymous donor earlier this month, the group said in a press release.

“And by HUGE, we’re talking the 50,000-pound range,” the charity said. “Because there’s no way we can distribute that many potatoes to our clients before they go bad, we are inviting anyone in the public to come and take as many as they can use FREE of charge.”

Local residents collect potatoes from Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle on May 17, 2024. Credit: Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle
Local residents collect potatoes from Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle on May 17, 2024. Credit: Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle

The charity had already distributed “more than 12,000 pounds to other local nonprofits,” but roughly 35,000 pounds of the spuds were still remaining.

“So, come and get it. There’s plenty for everyone who wants it,” the charity said.

Kelly James, the director of development at the Texas charity, told CNA that the remaining 18 tons of potatoes were collected in a matter of hours after they invited the public to take them.

“[We] opened it up Friday morning at 9 and we gave them all away in less than three hours,” James said.

The charity “had originally planned to give out potatoes on an additional date,” the group said, but “because of the overwhelming response” there were no potatoes available for a second date.

The charity’s Interfaith Hunger Project “serves needy residents 50 years of age and older within the Texas Panhandle as well as the disabled of any age or financial need,” the group said.

Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle is located in Amarillo, Texas, under the diocese of the same name.

Local residents collect potatoes from Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle on May 17, 2024. Credit: Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle
Local residents collect potatoes from Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle on May 17, 2024. Credit: Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle

The charity says on its website that Bishop Rudolph Gerken established the group in 1932. It was originally called Catholic Family Service and works to combat “food insecurity, poor vision, lack of English language proficiency, and a lack of cultural understanding.”

How Padre Pio overcame suffering with hope

The body of St. Pio of Pietrelcina. / Credit: patterned via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

CNA Staff, May 25, 2024 / 04:00 am (CNA).

St. Pio of Pietrelcina — better known as Padre Pio — one of the most beloved modern saints in the Catholic Church, was born 137 years ago on May 25 in Pietrelcina, Italy. On the occasion of his birthday, we remember what one of the last journalists to interview him said about how the friar bore his sufferings.

Renzo Allegri, the author of the biography “Man of Hope,” visited the famous friar a year before he died in 1968 and said that while Pio’s suffering was difficult to witness, the saint’s silent strength was observable.

“It was hard for me to watch him walking in the sacristy or the corridors of the monastery, bent over, dragging his swollen feet, and holding on to the walls so that he would not fall down,” Allegri wrote.

“His suffering was tremendous, but he bore it without complaining as he continued to give himself to those who needed him. When he would lift his head and look around, his big eyes looked like they were burning, not from pain but from a goodness that he could not contain.”

Allegri said that during his stay at San Giovanni Rotondo in 1967, he was able to speak with Pio twice. He said he witnessed an “extraordinary moral strength that emanated from [Pio’s] whole being.”

Following the saint’s death, Allegri wrote a long newspaper piece on Pio’s life and works. During his research, the journalist was given thousands of unpublished documents regarding the saint’s hardships.

“I discovered something about Padre Pio that few people knew: He had endured incredibly enormous suffering throughout his life, consisting of more persecution, humiliation, accusations, slanders, trials, and condemnations than one can imagine,” he said.

He said many people will focus on Pio’s intense life of penance and characterize him as dark and medieval. However, he said the saint is better labeled as “a man of hope.”

“Throughout his life, in the midst of the most difficult trials, he always looked to the future with a spirit of optimism, faith, and love,” Allegri said.

The saint was born in 1887 to farmers Grazio Mario Forgione and Maria Giuseppa Di Nunzio. During his childhood, Pio was known for his zealous spirituality, and when he was 15, he entered the novitiate of the Capuchin Franciscan Friars in Morcone.

World War I broke out in 1914 and Pio was drafted into the 10th Company of the Italian Medical Corps. He was released shortly thereafter due to medical reasons. In 1916, he moved to the Lady of Grace Capuchin Friary located in San Giovanni Rotondo.

Many miracles and extraordinary sufferings have been attributed to Pio’s life. Beside experiencing bilocation and levitation, he also had the stigmata — a miraculous exhibition of the wounds of Christ — and underwent physical attacks from the devil.

In his recent reflection, Allegri pointed to the words of Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, archbishop emeritus of Genoa, who highlighted Christ’s redemptive suffering as essential to the faith. In times when this is misunderstood, Siri said God will send men like Padre Pio.

“With the stigmata, which he bore throughout his life, and with the other physical and moral sufferings he endured, Padre Pio calls our attention to the body of Christ as a means of salvation,” Siri told Allegri in an interview for “Man of Hope.”

“In our time, the temptation to forget about the reality of the body of Christ is enormous. And God has sent us this man with the task of calling us back to the truth.”

This article was originally published on Sept. 19, 2019, and has been updated.

Iowa parish still working to help tornado victims after deadly twister

Residents continue recovery and cleanup efforts on May 23, 2024, with the help of family and friends following Tuesday’s destructive tornado in Greenfield, Iowa. The storm was responsible for several deaths in the small community. / Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images

CNA Staff, May 24, 2024 / 18:08 pm (CNA).

Ever since a massive tornado ripped through the small town of Greenfield, Iowa, the afternoon of May 21, St. John’s Catholic Church has been mobilizing volunteers to provide material assistance and respite to those in need. 

According to a blog post from the Diocese of Des Moines, St. John’s opened its doors the afternoon of the disaster to provide shelter, food, a place for the community to charge their phones, and to rest. That evening the parish provided pizza in their parking lot until 9 p.m. and Greenfield residents used the parish hall to charge their phones until 10 p.m. 

Believed to be an EF-4 based on data from the National Weather Service, the tornado, which left a line of destruction from 2:57 p.m. to 3:43 p.m. local time, has killed at least five people and injured 35. Peak winds were estimated at 175-185 mph and the tornado was at least 1,000 yards across. Greenfield is situated about an hour’s drive southwest of Des Moines.

“Our church has been designated as a collection point for nonperishable food and hygiene items, and providing meals,” Father Philip Yaw Bempong, St. John’s pastor, told the diocese.

“This morning [May 22], we provided breakfast for those impacted and our volunteers. Currently, we are distributing sack lunches, and local volunteers are cooking food in our parking lot … We will continue serving warm meals three times daily and remain open as a place to eat, relax, charge devices, and access necessities such as hygiene products, food, and water.”

On its Facebook page, the parish said on Friday that it has been “abundantly blessed with donations” of nonperishable food items, hygiene items, and gift cards, and encouraged community members who are in need after the tornado to come and get them. They also said restaurants have been donating food in order to help the parish continue to provide free meals. 

The Diocese of Des Moines said Wednesday it is doing a damage assessment, inviting all pastors and parishes to send to its communications office what kind of damage their communities sustained and how the diocese might be of assistance.

Bishop William Joensen will be with the Greenfield community on Saturday, the diocese said, celebrating the 5 p.m. Mass at St. John’s.

Pro-life roundup: Louisiana passes abortion fraud bill, California invites abortionists from Arizona

A pro-abortion activist displays abortion pills as she counter-protests during an anti-abortion demonstration on March 25, 2023, in New York City. / Credit: Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images

CNA Staff, May 24, 2024 / 17:48 pm (CNA).

Here’s a look at major abortion-related developments that took place in the states this week. 

Louisiana passes bill to make abortion coercion a crime

In the wake of the case of a pregnant Texas woman being poisoned with an abortion drug, Louisiana is taking steps to criminalize “abortion fraud” and defining abortion drugs mifepristone or misoprostol as controlled substances.

When Catherine Herring told her husband Mason she was pregnant, he spiked her drink with abortion drugs. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail and 10 years on probation. Their daughter, Josephine, survived his multiple attempts to poison her, though she has developmental issues as a result and was born 10 weeks early.

A Louisiana native, Herring testified in support of the Louisiana law while Herring’s brother, Sen. Thomas Pressly, introduced the bill.

Louisiana SB 276 was established “to create the crime of coerced criminal abortion by means of fraud,” establishing penalties of five to 10 years in prison or $10,000 to $75,000 fines for those who give a pregnant woman abortion drugs without her knowledge or consent.

The bill contains harsher penalties when the unborn child is more than 3 months old given that the nonconsensual use of an abortion drug can “substantially increases the pregnant woman’s risk of death or serious bodily harm” and carries the penalty of either 10 to 20 years in prison or a fine between $50,000 and $100,000, or both. 

“We are proud of Sen. Pressly’s outstanding defense of SB 276, which will protect women like his sister for decades to come,” Sarah Zagorski, the communications director for Louisiana Right to Life, said in a May 23 statement, adding: “The intention of SB 276 is to stop the abortion industry from profiting off of abuse and trafficking of vulnerable women through their flagrantly illegal distribution of pills.”

The Louisiana Senate passed the law on Tuesday and it is expected to be signed by the governor. The bill would still allow pregnant women to abort their unborn children through the medication but would prevent anyone who does not have a prescription from obtaining the drug.

Louisiana Right to Life noted that its statement was issued “in response to the onslaught of misinformation” about the bill and noted that no female senators voted against the bill. 

“From my experience in northeast Louisiana, medications such as mifepristone and misoprostol are recklessly available online and on the street without a prescription or a physician’s exam,” Dr. Amber Shemwell, a Louisiana OB-GYN, said in the Louisiana Right to Life press release.

“Without proper physician screening for ectopic and molar pregnancies, these medications have the potential to be dangerous,” she continued. “For these reasons, I support categorizing both of these medications as controlled substances. Physicians commonly use controlled substances, and I’m confident that my care for women will not be harmed by this legislation, even as it applies to the appropriate use of misoprostol in my practice.”

Louisiana protects unborn children from abortion in all stages except for cases where the life of the mother is threatened or the baby is discovered to have a lethal fetal anomaly.

California allows traveling abortionists from Arizona 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law on Thursday that allows Arizona abortionists to come to California to perform abortions until the repeal of a pro-life Arizona law goes into effect later this year.

An Arizona Supreme Court repealed the 1864 law protecting unborn babies at all stages of life except for those conceived by incest or rape. The 1864 law came into effect in the wake of Roe v. Wade’s overturn, and though it was repealed, the repeal won’t go into effect until September.

The California law, SB 233, which immediately went into effect, allows any licensed Arizona abortionists to come to California to offer abortions until Nov. 30 of this year. In a May 23 press release, Newsom said the state of California “stands ready to protect reproductive freedom.”

“Together, we will continue to work to ensure that all who are forced to leave their home state to access abortion care can get the services they need and deserve in California,” CEO Jodi Hicks of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California added in the release.

“Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Legislature’s Democrat supermajority have found yet another devilishly clever way to promote the abortion industry,” California Right to Life Director Mary Rose Short told CNA in an email. 

“Based on the fact that Arizona law may protect the right to life of all unborn children for a few weeks’ duration, they passed SB 233 as an urgency bill, encouraging the fiction that pregnancy is a deadly disease that strikes without warning,” she added. 

“Not content with the executions of over 100,000 of our state’s baby boys and girls every year, California Democrats want to facilitate the deaths of Arizona children as well,” she concluded.

Myanmar conflict: a state of unprecedented turmoil and suffering, Cardinal Bo says

Cardinal Bo during his interview with ACI Prensa and EWTN News. / Credit: ACI Prensa/EWTN News

ACI Prensa Staff, May 24, 2024 / 17:18 pm (CNA).

In an interview with ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, archbishop of Yangon in Myanmar, said there is an “unprecedented state of turmoil and suffering, which seems to have no end” in the country resulting from a coup d’état at the beginning of 2021 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The conflict has already left more than 100 places of worship bombed or damaged, the cardinal said, and the violence has spread in many areas of the territory.

In addition, he said that almost 3 million people have been displaced and are in urgent need of assistance, which has been arriving little by little thanks to the work of the Catholic Church and other nongovernmental organizations such as Religions for Peace

Religious freedom under threat

Although Myanmar is a predominantly Buddhist country, the constitution guarantees religious freedom. However, Bo pointed out a worrying reality: “The last decade saw the emergence of fundamentalist forces that targeted minority religions.”

The situation has been exacerbated by recent political unrest affecting people of all faiths who are suffering the consequences of an expanding civil war. “Peace is the common prayer of all the religions,” the cardinal emphasized.

The conflict has left a devastating mark on the country’s religious infrastructure, especially in the Sagaing region and the Diocese of Loikaw, the archbishop reported.

“The attack on places of worship has forced many congregations to abandon their churches, a significant blow to predominantly Christian communities such as Kachin,” he lamented.

Furthermore, armed ethnic groups, which do not officially represent any religion, are often mistakenly associated with their particular faith, which quickly leads to attacks against places of worship.

How is the Catholic Church surviving?

“Summer has brought unbearable heat and water is scarce. The Church has suffered but continues to be a source of healing, especially through the priests and religious and social work,” Bo related.

The prelate also said that Catholic churches have taken in numerous internally displaced people throughout the country.

“The needs are enormous and food security is an urgent need for our people,” he emphasized.

The cardinal, who is also president of the Myanmar Bishops’ Conference, said many religious communities have lost homes, monasteries, and churches due to the violence.

In November 2018, Pope Francis visited the country. According to the archbishop of Yangon, during his visit the pope gave “several messages of love and peace, but unfortunately it didn’t register.” Despite everything, the pontiff, the cardinal added, brought a message of peace between religions and their leaders.

In the face of so much violence, the cardinal made a universal call to bring about peace in Myanmar:  “We call on all parties to seek a path of peace. At the beginning of the war, the Church tried to bring together all parties to work for consensus. Recently, the avenues for peace seem to be limited, but the Church continues to reach out to all stakeholders in the hope of bringing peace.”

United Nations warns: ‘Never-ending nightmare’ in Myanmar

In early March, the United Nations (U.N.) expressed its profound concern about the situation in Myanmar, describing the crisis as a “never-ending nightmare” that has inflicted unbearable levels of suffering and cruelty on its population.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk reported in May that the military regime has caused thousands of deaths, including airstrikes in towns and cities, and has arbitrarily detained more than 20,000 opponents, including 3,909 women. 

Additionally, the U.N. Security Council in April called for an immediate end to violence, the release of arbitrarily detained prisoners, and improved humanitarian access. 

Finally, the U.N. also reported that the humanitarian emergency will worsen this year, with 18.6 million people needing assistance in 2024, a figure 19 times higher than that recorded in February 2021.

The coup d’état in Myanmar

In early 2021, the Asian country’s armed forces (known as Tatmadaw) seized control of the government, alleging election fraud in the general elections of Nov. 8, 2020, in which the National League for Democracy (NLD) party of Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1991, won a landslide victory.

However, these claims of fraud were not supported by independent observers and are seen by many as an excuse for the military to regain control of the country. 

Although Myanmar moved to civilian rule in 2011, the country’s constitution — enacted by the military in 2008 — ensures that the military retains significant control over the government, including control of important ministries and a quarter of the seats in Parliament. 

The NLD’s overwhelming victory in 2020 increased the Tatmadaw’s concern about the loss of its political and economic influence. The combination of these circumstances, among several other factors, led the military to overthrow the democratically elected government, arrest Aung San Suu Kyi and other NLD leaders, and declare a state of emergency, promising new elections, which have not yet materialized.

Consequently, the coup d’état triggered widespread resistance, mass protests, and an escalation of armed conflicts across the country, thrusting Myanmar into its current, unprecedented humanitarian and human rights crisis.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.