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John Thavis in studio to discuss Amoris Laetitia and more

Perspectives: The Weekly Edition
Catholic Update with John Thavis
Friday, May 6th at 7:00pmET

A month after the release of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (the Joy of Love), renowned Catholic journalist and author John Thavis is in studio to break down the contentious issues and discuss the implications of this new magisterial teaching.

Amoris Laetitia is the final product of a more than two-year synodal process initiated by Pope Francis in the fall of 2013.  Two synods of bishops were held in Rome in October 2014 and 2015 to discuss the pastoral challenges facing families around the world, in their particular cultural contexts.  Significant debate took place inside the Synod hall and publically in the media, as bishops tried to navigate the muddy waters of complex marital and familial situations while upholding the ideal of traditional marriage.

Two positions emerged clearly.  The majority of bishops, following the impulse of Pope Francis, pushed for a more pastoral, merciful approach in attitude and action when dealing with challenging situations.  The shift from the more traditional articulations of the Church’s teachings on marriage and family life typical of JPII and Benedict XVI was one of emphasis more than substance.  As Pope Francis stated clearly on the first Tuesday of the 2015 Synod, “Catholic teaching on marriage has not been put into question.”  At stake was the attitude with which the Church approaches and deals with people in their particular circumstances.

A minority of bishops pushed back against this development.  Their argument was essentially the “slippery slope” theory.  Present too much of a pastoral, merciful attitude to families in difficult situations and it will lead the Church down the dangerous path of relativizing the doctrine of marriage, giving the false impression that traditional marriage is an unattainable ideal.

The final document that emerged from the 2015 Synod was deemed unsatisfactory by the hardline minority bishops, in particular a few paragraphs that did not reaffirm the traditional teaching of JPII and Benedict that no divorced and remarried Catholics who have not obtained an annulment can receive Communion.  And yet, each paragraph of the final document received the necessary two-thirds majority vote to be considered “approved” by the synod and ready to hand over to Pope Francis.

Five months later Francis issued Amoris Laetitia, the authoritative teaching by the pope and the synod on the family.  Filled with so much of what the bishops discussed during those weeks in Rome last year, yet characteristically “Francis” in language and style, the document represents a new chapter in magisterial teaching and synodality in the Church.

Needless to say, we’re happy to welcome the former Rome Bureau Chief of Catholic News Service John Thavis to the S+L studios for Perspectives: The Weekly Edition, to analyze the synodal journey and the implications for the Church’s pastoral outreach.  In this episode we will also discuss Francis’ solidarity visit to the refugees in Lesbos, Greece, Bernie Sanders’ surprise invitation to the Vatican and possible implications of the US presidential campaign for the Church.

John Thavis is bestselling author of “The Vatican Diaries.”  His latest book, “The Vatican Prophecies: Investigating Supernatural Signs, Apparitions, and Miracles in the Modern Age,” will be featured on S+L’s new book show Subject Matters on Sunday, June 5 at 8:30pmET

Increase Dialogue, Decrease violence – Perspectives Daily

Today on Perspectives, an overview of the pope’s weekend activities and a priest known for his civil disobedience is remembered.

New show, old medium


There’s always something new happening at the S+L studios, and this spring is no different.  One of our most anticipated projects is a new book show entitled Subject Matters. The show is written, produced and hosted by Sebastian Gomes, and will premiere on Pentecost Sunday (May 15th) at 8:30pm ET / 5:30pm PT.

In an era when printed books are on decline and e-books are on the rise, many people are asking why we’re creating a TV show based on this seemingly outdated medium!  Indeed books have been around for a long time.  They have been the primary vehicles for communicating new ideas and preserving old ones.  The centuries-old art of book and manuscript writing is the only reason we know as much as we do about ancient civilizations and cultures, religions and exceptional individuals.

Something that has withstood the test of time, as books have, is not likely going to disappear forever.  Books are to communication what Benedictines are to the Catholic tradition.  There’s something very stable about them.  No informed person would believe that books are heading toward extinction any more than the Benedictines are.  If anything, amid the rapid changes in communication in the 21st century, books might prove once again to be a staple of communicating ideas and preserving culture.


Books are also very healthy.  They are the organic foods of the communication world: good for the mind (sparking imagination, creativity and critical thinking), good for the body (fostering moments of peace and quiet in an otherwise chaotic, noisy culture), and good for the soul (depending on what you’re reading!) And, despite their high cost, books are worth the investment over the long term to sustain a healthy life.

Finally, a word on silence.  Silence, as Benedict XVI wrote in his message for World Communications Day 2012, is an integral element of communication.  “In its absence, words rich in content cannot exist. In silence, we are better able to listen to and understand ourselves; ideas come to birth and acquire depth; we understand with greater clarity what it is we want to say and what we expect from others; and we choose how to express ourselves. By remaining silent we allow the other person to speak, to express him or herself; and we avoid being tied simply to our own words and ideas without them being adequately tested.”


Simply reading a book can promote that healthy balance between word and silence, something we all need to be effective and respectful communicators.  Our new show Subject Matters serves to promote the ancient practice of quiet reading, to introduce viewers to new ideas and to spark creative discussion.  We cover a broad range of topics of interest to both Catholics and non-Catholics.  By featuring relevant and readable books in a visually rich setting, we hope our audience will rediscover the old medium of the printed word, infused with new ideas for building a better world and living a joyful life.

It is of the new things that men tire—of fashions and proposals and improvements and change. It is the old things that startle and intoxicate. It is the old things that are young.
G.K. Chesterton

Church Leaders Dealing With Shortage of Priests – Perspectives Daily



In this episode of Perspectives Daily, we look at a report from CNS about how church leaders are faced the reality of having to continue to function with fewer priests while the number of priests coming out from the seminary not being equal with the number of priests retiring.

Tickets are still available for the upcoming S+L Taste and See dinner Gala hosted by the Archdiocese of Vancouver on May 28, 2016

With World Youth Day in Krakow is just around the corner and many of those interested in attending are asking questions about travel visas. Our friends at the World Youth Day volunteer office in Krakow have some answers.

Premiering on Salt and Light TV this Sunday,   academy award winner Susan Sarandon takes you into the life of one of the most significant spiritual influencers of the late 20th century, Henri Nowen. This film Journey of the Heart,  is a thought-provoking look at the life of this unassuming, charismatic scholar considered by many of his contemporaries as one of the best and brightest minds of his time. Abandoning the insular works of academia, Nouwen embarked on a radical and personal pilgrimage of downward mobility that led him to L’Arche, a community of people with developmental disabilities.

A Roman Catholic priest, University of Notre Dame, Yale and Harvard professor, author and social activist, Nouwen possessed a unique insight into the human condition. Through his many books, which continue to be widely popular, Nouwen wrote passionately and eloquently about our human frailty and brokenness, while identifying and addressing the spiritual needs of today.

This documentary features an inspiring conversation with Nouwen shot just a year before his death. Interviews with key friends, prominent colleagues and family members help complete the picture of this unique man of faith – a person of passion and compassion. Journey of the Heart airs this Sunday at 9:05 pm eastern. For all the broadcast details, you can visit our site at saltandlighttv.org/schedule

See you next week!


Sing to the Lord – “For the Beauty of the Earth”


St. Augustine told us, “He who sings, pray twice.”

I love music. I believe that music is sound reaching out to truth and prayer in song is music reaching out to love.

“For the Beauty of the Earth” is one of the hymns I really like. The lyrics are written by Folliott Sandford Pierpoint and the content is related to the psalm. The version I have listened to is written by John Rutter. This hymn is praising the creation of God.

In 2015, Pope Francis released his encyclical “Laudato Si” in which he called on people to “care for our common home.” He reminds us of how beautiful of all the things in the world are and we have to treasure and share those natural resources with others.

Today, try to put down your electronic devices, open your window or go outside, close your eyes, breathe deeply, feel the wind blowing, listen to the birds singing…then open your eyes to look at the trees, the grass, the sky, the people. These are signs of the unconditional love from God. Let us sing praise to our lord by singing this hymn. Amen!

For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our joyful hymn of praise.

For the beauty of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale and tree and flower,
Sun and moon and stars of light:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our joyful hymn of praise.

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth, and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild:
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our joyful hymn of praise.

For each perfect gift of thine
To our race so freely given,
Graces human and divine,
Flowers of earth and buds of heav’n.
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our joyful hymn of praise.


Rodney Leung is a Chinese producer for Salt + Light. Follow him on Twitter!

Mary Magdalene: the mislabeled woman

Some of the Salt + Light team went to the Holy Land on a pilgrimage. We had the opportunity to film reflections in various places of great importance. This is the text of a reflection was filmed at the Magdala Centre in Galilee. 

We are the Galilee region of Israel. Specifically, in Magdala, the same town that was home to Mary Magdalene, the woman we know as the apostle to the apostles. We know very little about the woman who is described as the apostle of the apostles, so this village helps fill in some background.

So far a first century synagogue has been unearthed, as well as paved streets, the ruins of mansions, and three ritual baths that used groundwater rather than rainwater. These few elements are quite important. These ritual baths are the first to be found that that used ground water instead of rainwater. This means Magdala has sophisticated plumbing. The paved streets and mosaics in the mansions, suggest wealth. Magdala seems to have been a thriving port city, at the forefront of commerce and culture. In its midst lived a woman named Mary.

This village tells us she was probably exposed to the world. From the Gospels we know she was a follower of Christ, she was at the crucifixion, she witnessed the resurrection, and she was the first person given the task of spreading the message of the resurrection. But how did she get there?

All four gospels refer to her as Mary Magdalene. Now, married women were described differently. For example: Mary the wife of Clopas, or Joanna the wife of Chuza. So we know Mary Magdalene was unattached. Three of the Gospels first introduce us to Mary Magdalene at the crucifixion. But Luke mentions here earlier. In Chapter 8 of his Gospel, Luke says:

“1 Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, 2 as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, 3 and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.”

She is part of a group of women who provided for Jesus and the apostles “out of their own means”. So, she had her own money and because she was unattached, it was her own. Also, she is described as the one “from whom seven demons had gone out.” She’s not a sinner here, but someone who was possessed. In Jesus’ day that might have been what we call mental illness, depression, anxiety, or other psychological issues. Maybe it was addiction, or emotional problems caused by her past. Maybe she survived an abusive relationship and never healed. Whatever it was,it took over her, changed her personality, affected her daily life, kept her from having healthy relationships, maybe led her to make bad choices. At the very least was probably known in town as “that” Mary.

But then something happened. Probably right here in Magdala. We don’t have details but we can imagine it based on what we already know: Jesus the Nazarene came to the area to teach, probably even in this synagogue. A buzz would have built up in the region and in town people would have been talking about him. Maybe it took a little while before curiosity got the better of her, but finally one day, she quietly slipped into the crowd as he was teaching. Maybe she stuck to the back of the group, maybe she stayed in the shadows. She listened to him teaching and understood his message. His parables they wash over her like a healing balm, and sin into her soul. She looks around and sees people of all ages, backgrounds, professions, social standing gathered around this Man. He touched them, healed those who needed healing, accepted them and showed them love. As she takes this in, he looks straight at her. That gaze. Without words, without anyone else in the crowd knowing what is happening, he says “I know. This is not you. I know.” After he finished teaching perhaps she approached him. He didn’t treat her like “that” Mary, he wasn’t afraid to be seen talking to her. He gazed at her without fear, without derision, He spoke to her like a normal person, an equal, and maybe even invited her to come along with him to his next stop. It was done. He was the real deal. He wanted nothing from her but to tell her of the Father’s love for her. Maybe she tried to explain “no, no, you don’t want me to follow you, I’m a bad deal” but he didn’t care. She was his father’s creation and deeply loved.

Whatever her demons were, anxiety, depression, addiction, it stopped there. Life had meaning again. She had a purpose. She was loved. Whatever she had in Magdala she packed up, maybe sold, maybe gave away, and embarked on a new life, following Jesus. Her meeting Jesus changed her life forever and set her on a new path. She would do anything, anything, to make sure other people met him face to face.Because of that meeting in Magdala, some years later Mary finds herself at the foot of the cross. Even though meeting Jesus changed her forever, it did not mean life would always be all roses. The worst thing she can imagine comes to pass. This man who changed her life is killed, hung on a cross to die. She stands at the foot of the cross, weeps, takes comfort from the other women also at the foot of his cross. When he breathes his last, she is there,watching. When his body is taken down and carried off to the tomb, she is there. She stays away on the sabbath because she must. She locks herself away with the apostles, with Our Lady, bides her time. But then, she can’t stand it any longer. On the third day after his death, she must go to him. She rises early and goes to the tomb. Some of the Gospels say she went with the other women to anoint the body. The point is, in all four Gospels Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. She finds the stone rolled away and the tomb empty. Again, each Gospel tells it slightly differently, but the common point is she meets someone who tells her “he is not here” and then, it clicks. This is what Jesus had been talking about, the temple that would be destroyed and rebuilt in three days! He is risen. She rushes back to the place where the apostles are locked up together, wallowing in their fear. She bursts through the door and breathlessly exclaims “I have seen the Lord!” They freeze, look up, see the joy on her face. Maybe she repeats it again, “I have seen the Lord” and then continues to tell them what she saw and what he said to her. They are at peace.

Mary Magdalene, the once off-kilter woman with problems, is their apostle. She brings them the message they have been waiting for, the one thing they have been waiting to hear since that horrible, horrible day at Golgotha. The woman with the seven demons is the very person who instinctively seeks and recognizes the face of God and through that search and encounter, becomes the very person He created her to be.

Alicia Ambrosio is an English producer for Salt + Light. Follow her on Twitter!

Coast to Coast: April 17 to April 23


Here’s a look at what we’ve been reading across the country this week:

One of Canada’s two member of the Pontifical Academy for Life has suggestions on how Canadians should handle the newly proposed bill on euthanasia.

In Winnipeg, Catholic health care providers weighed in on the new proposed bill and offered their own suggestions.

In Edmonton, the archdiocese hosted an in-depth exploration and discussion of the issues that surround euthanasia.

Meanwhile, in Vancouver, the church is trying to unpack the messages in the pope’s post-synodal exhortation “Amoris Laetitia”


In Memoriam of Gaetano Gagliano


We shall be forever grateful to Gaetano Gagliano who gave us faith and hope, boldness and courage, roots and wings. May he rest in peace and intercede for us.

Bernie Sanders is heading to the Vatican, what would he say to Pope Francis?

(S+L’s Sebastian Gomes interviewed Senator Bernie Sanders during Pope Francis’ trip to the United States last fall.  See more interviews here.)

Widespread speculation about a possible meeting between Pope Francis and American presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at the Vatican on Friday is flooding the internet.  While no official meeting is planned, that’s never restricted Francis from moving where the Spirit leads him.  Just this morning at Mass, Francis warned Christians not to, “resist the movement of the Holy Spirit,” in so-called, “fidelity to the law.”  The proven spontaneity of Pope Francis is enough reason to speculate about what an encounter between these two mavericks might look like.  Certainly there will be a “cordial” greeting and embrace (as the Vatican often describes such meetings between the Pope and politicians).  The photos will go viral in minutes.  But what would they say to each other?  Luckily, S+L’s Sebastian Gomes posed that question to Senator Sanders in an interview last fall (see interview above, 03:57).  “I would simply thank him,” says Sanders, for “reminding us that life simply cannot be about the accumulation of more and more money, and turning our backs on the children and the elderly and the poor.”  If they meet, and the Senator does say that, the cordial greeting might quickly turn into a cordial invitation to lunch in the bustling cafeteria at Santa Marta.

Lay participants in the 2015 Synod respond to Amoris Laetitia

Pedro J. de Rezende and Ketty A. Rezende of the University of Campinas, Brazil were lay auditors at the 2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family.  In that capacity they had the opportunity to address the Synod and participate in the small language groups which laid the foundation for the Final Relatio that was approved and given to Pope Francis on October 24, 2015.  After the publication of Francis’ exhortation Amoris Laetitia on Friday, the married couple drafted the following analysis.

A brief analysis of the apostolic exhortation “The Joy of Love”

by Pedro J. de Rezende and Ketty A. Rezende

It was with great anticipation that we awaited the publication of an Apostolic Exhortation on the family, as it had been announced shortly after the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that took place last October. Many believed that it would contain pastoral guidelines that addressed the great diversity of situations in which families find themselves in the contemporary world.

However, “The Joy of Love” (Amoris Laetitia) ended up being a pastoral document far beyond our expectations. At the same time that it is a reiteration of the church’s teachings, based on the Magisterium and on the texts from previous popes, one clearly sees the hand of Pope Francis in it: his style remains pedagogical, compassionate and very accessible to the lay Christian.

On the one hand, the document highlights doctrinal aspects already covered in previous encyclicals and exhortations. On the other hand, as is usual to Pope Francis, he stresses very concretely, to the couples and families who faithfully live their mission, the value of true conjugal love, openness to life and the education of children, as a source of wholehearted joy in the family environment and in the context of society.

It should be noted however, that “The Joy of Love” also promotes a pastoral novelty. It strongly emphasizes the aspect of “accompaniment” for those who are hurt or who place themselves apart from the Church. Francis speaks much about welcoming, caring and integrating them, in their present situation, into the Church’s loving environment. At the same time, he calls on us to help each person to find his or her path for continuous conversion and to gradually open themselves to the mission entrusted to them through baptism.

Therefore, this exhortation is a document to be studied and reflected upon by every Christian. It must be read with the same spirit of joy and love with which it was written: with an open mind, fidelity to the truth and a sincerely compassionate attitude, as demonstrated by Pope Francis himself.