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Vatican Connections: January 30


The Franciscan revolution continues, piece by piece. This week, it was revealed that Pope Francis is changing the process by which metropolitan archbishops are invested with their pallium. The new process highlights the importance of the local church and its connection to the wider church.

In a letter to papal nuncios around the world, the papal master of liturgies, Monsignor Guido Marini, said Pope Francis will still invite newly appointed metropolitan archbishops to concelebrate Mass with him on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul (June 29). At the end of the Mass, during a private moment with the pope, the archbishops will be given a wool pallium to take back to their archdiocese.

Each archbishop will set a date for a mass in their home see. The papal nuncio will formally invest the archbishop with his pallium during that mass.
Monsignor Marini told Vatican Radio the move is meant to highlight the archbishops relationship with the local church, and the communion among the local churches. He said the new practice “enriches” the pallium ceremony.

Last year the papal almoner’s office had shower facilities built in the bathrooms at St. Peter’s square for the pope’s homeless neighbours. The papal almoner’s office is now going one step further and having a barber shop installed in the newly-renovated washrooms.

Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the head of the office that distributes the alms given to the pope, told the Italian news agency ANSA the barbershop facility is essentially completed. Everything from scissors and combs to barber chairs and mirrors were donated by local barbers and hairdressers.  He said homeless people living the Vatican neighbourhood can’t walk into a barbershop to get a haircut and shave because of the fear of spreading scabies or lice.

Haircutting and shaving services will be available on mondays – the day most barbers and salons are closed. Local barbers and hairdressers have already signed up to volunteer their services.

Pope Makes Pallium Changes – Perspectives Daily

Today on Perspectives, Pope Francis makes changes to the investiture of the Pallium, daily mass and the Patriarchs of Lebanon meet to condemn the funding of terror.

Now or never: urgency needed in run-up to Synod 2015


When in October 2013 the Vatican announced the first ever two-stage Synod of Bishops, many in the Catholic Church were hopeful about the possibilities of an in-depth discussion and consultation. After all, a year in between the two Synods is a lot of time, right?

Not necessarily. The Vatican didn’t publish the Lineamenta—a discussion guideline consisting of the final document of the October Synod and a series of questions looking at particular family issues—until over one month after the Synod, on December 9th, 2014. At that time, the Vatican also requested that responses from the Bishops’ conferences on behalf of the local churches be submitted to Rome no later than April 15th.

In Toronto, where Salt and Light is headquartered, Cardinal-Archbishop Thomas Collins invited “a concise response” to the Lineamenta from concerned Catholics with a submission deadline of February 16th. Time is needed, obviously, to organize the responses and send them to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) where the Conference will then need time to organize the responses from around the country.

Though the Archdiocese of Toronto is unique in terms of its size and complexity, we can assume that other dioceses find themselves in the same boat. Suffice it to say, the preparing of the Lineamenta, its wide dissemination and the three-tier organization of material from the local level up to the Vatican quickly turn “one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment,” into only a few weeks of actual discussion and consultation of Catholics in the local churches.

In a sense, no one can be blamed for this. The genuine desire of Pope Francis for real consultation involving the whole Church has been deflated by the reality of a complex bureaucratic system that is characteristic of any global institution. But perhaps a greater focus could be on the discussion and consultation rather than the organization of the material.

There are other challenges, including creating for people a “protected space so that the Holy Spirit may speak,” as the Pope likes to say about the Synods. In other words, conducting an effective and in-depth discussion/reflection even at the parish level is no walk in the park—many parishes have never done that. Considering these limitations, it would be easier to do nothing. But that cannot be the response of Catholics at an historic moment like this. In his landmark document on evangelization today, Pope Francis wrote:

“Pastoral ministry in a missionary key seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says: “We have always done it this way.” I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 33)

There are two key points to be made here: first, the emphasis on thinking outside of the box. It’s clear; an attitude towards the Synod and this consultation of the People of God which reflects the status quo at the parish or diocesan level is not acceptable. Second, the link between this consultation and evangelization. The Pope is speaking about “pastoral ministry in a missionary key,” which we may not naturally attribute to a Synod consultation. But a process like this is as much about evangelizing ourselves—changing the way we think about being church—as it is about sharing our experiences of family life today.

All of this to speak a word of encouragement to Catholics participating in—or thinking of starting—a conversation around the Synod document at their parish, school or other community. The challenges are many and the timeline is short, but this is also a learning process for every community; “synod” literally means “journeying together.” “Even a bad shot is dignified when one accepts a duel,” as Chesterton wrote. Rest assured, if you consider the direction in which the Church is going, it won’t be the last consultation.  When the reality suggests we’re nowhere close to perfecting the process, practice is exactly what is needed.  Even if deadlines are missed.

The Pope has said clearly that there are only three authoritative documents to consider during this church-wide consultation: The Lineamenta, the Message to the People of God and the Pope’s final address to the Synod Fathers on October 18th. For those who wish to go a bit deeper, S+L provides you with a complete list of related documents on the Synod of Bishops on the Family:

Important texts for discussion/reflection on the Synod of Bishops on the Family


1) Lineamenta (Dec. 2014)

2) Message to the People of God (Oct. 2014)

3) Pope Francis’ final address to the Synod (Oct. 2014)


4) Pope Francis’ homily during the concluding Mass of the Synod (Oct. 2014)

5) Midterm report (Oct. 2014)

6) Pope Francis’ opening address to the Synod (Oct. 2014)

7) Pope Francis’ homily during the opening Mass of the Synod (Oct. 2014)

8) Pope Francis’ homily during the prayer vigil for the Synod (Oct. 2014)

9) Instrumentum Laboris for the Extraordinary Synod (June 2014)

10) Cardinal Kasper addresses consistory (Feb. 2014)

11) Pope Francis’ letter to families (Feb. 2014)

“The Francis Effect” Documentary to air on ABC Television Affiliates in the USA


Through a special partnership with the Interfaith Broadcasting Commission and ABC Television Network in the USA, Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation is pleased to announce that their 2014 documentary “The Francis Effect” will begin airing on close to 250 ABC affiliates beginning on February 8, 2015.  A special 58-minute version of the original 75-minute production was edited for television broadcast on ABC Television Network.

The documentary will have a broadcast window of six weeks. Those interested in watching the documentary should consult their local TV guides to determine broadcast times in your area during the broadcast period. The documentary is very timely as it coincides with the second anniversary of the historic transition in the papacy of 2013 that culminated in the election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Bishop of Rome on March 13, 2013.

Brief Synopsis of Documentary

What has happened in the Church, and how can it be that a 77-year-old, retirement-bound archbishop from Buenos Aires has captivated the world? Is this all the work of a public relations company or clever media strategists hired by the Vatican and frantically working behind the scenes to re-brand its image? Or is there some- thing else at work?

On March 13, 2013, Jorge Mario Bergoglio received the call in the Sistine Chapel to go, rebuild, repair, renew and heal the Church. There are those who delight in describing the new Pope as a bold, brazen revolutionary sent to rock the boat. Others think he has come to cause a massive shipwreck. But the only revolution that Pope Francis has inaugurated is a revolution of tenderness, the very words he used in his major letter, The Joy of the Gospel. (Evangelii Gaudium, 88)

It wasn’t long into the pontificate of Pope Francis before we knew this one was going to be different. The spontaneity of his words and actions and his down-to-earth style generated unprecedented and overwhelmingly positive global attention.

The Francis Effect takes a critical and in-depth look at how the Catholic Church is rapidly changing under the leadership and vision of Pope Francis. The film begins by situating the pontificate of Francis in a wider historical context, referencing an essay written by the German theologian Fr. Karl Rahner, SJ—one of the most influential Catholic thinkers of the 20th century. Rahner proposed that the Second Vatican Council of the 1960’s was the beginning of a fundamental transformation of the Catholic Church into a fully world religion. The person and ministry of Pope Francis are seen as part of the continuing realization of that transformation.

The body of the film is divided into six chapters representing the major themes of Francis’ first year as pope. By analyzing these themes both individually and collectively, a more complete picture of the Francis effect emerges, namely, the realization of the Second Vatican Council and a concrete expression of how to preach the Gospel in today’s world. The film concludes by raising the essential question: what happens now? Will those who are inspired by Pope Francis transform their communities, and society as a whole, by living and sharing the Gospel of mercy and love?

Pope Francis has not come to overturn doctrine and age-old beliefs that are the bedrock of our Catholic Christian faith! He wants to make those teachings understandable and part of our lives. He opens doors to a faith that offers attractive, compelling answers to questions deep in the hearts of all men and women. There is something incredibly appealing here not only to Catholics, but to Christians and to all men and women of good will. Is it any wonder then, why the world is listening to him?

Francis, Bishop of Rome, reminds us each day of the words of his predecessor Saint John XXIII over 50 years ago at the beginning of the Second Vatican Council: “The substance of the ancient doctrine of the Deposit of Faith is one thing, and the way it is presented is another.” With Pope Francis, it’s the same story we have heard for ages, but the packaging has indeed changed!

For those in the USA, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, St. Croix and Guam, please check your TV guides to find the broadcast times of this excellent documentary on Pope Francis.  For more information, call 1-888-302-7181.

The Francis Effect – Promo 2 from saltandlighttv on Vimeo.

Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for Lent 2015 “Make your hearts firm” (James 5:8)


Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’ Lenten Message:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Lent is a time of renewal for the whole Church, for each communities and every believer. Above all it is a “time of grace” (2 Cor 6:2). God does not ask of us anything that he himself has not first given us. “We love because he first has loved us” (1 Jn 4:19). He is not aloof from us. Each one of us has a place in his heart. He knows us by name, he cares for us and he seeks us out whenever we turn away from him. He is interested in each of us; his love does not allow him to be indifferent to what happens to us. Usually, when we are healthy and comfortable, we forget about others (something God the Father never does): we are unconcerned with their problems, their sufferings and the injustices they endure…Our heart grows cold. As long as I am relatively healthy and comfortable, I don’t think about those less well off. Today, this selfish attitude of indifference has taken on global proportions, to the extent that we can speak of a globalization of indifference. It is a problem which we, as Christians, need to confront.

When the people of God are converted to his love, they find answers to the questions that history continually raises. One of the most urgent challenges which I would like to address in this Message is precisely the globalization of indifference. Indifference to our neighbour and to God also represents a real temptation for us Christians. Each year during Lent we need to hear once more the voice of the prophets who cry out and trouble our conscience. God is not indifferent to our world; he so loves it that he gave his Son for our salvation. In the Incarnation, in the earthly life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God, the gate between God and man, between heaven and earth, opens once for all. The Church is like the hand holding open this gate, thanks to her proclamation of God’s word, her celebration of the sacraments and her witness of the faith which works through love (cf. Gal5:6). But the world tends to withdraw into itself and shut that door through which God comes into the world and the world comes to him. Hence the hand, which is the Church, must never be surprised if it is rejected, crushed and wounded. God’s people, then, need this interior renewal, lest we become indifferent and withdraw into ourselves. To further this renewal, I would like to propose for our reflection three biblical texts.

  1. “If one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Cor 12:26)– The Church

The love of God breaks through that fatal withdrawal into ourselves which is indifference. The Church offers us this love of God by her teaching and especially by her witness. But we can only bear witness to what we ourselves have experienced. Christians are those who let God clothe them with goodness and mercy, with Christ, so as to become, like Christ, servants of God and others. This is clearly seen in the liturgy of Holy Thursday, with its rite of the washing of feet. Peter did not want Jesus to wash his feet, but he came to realize that Jesus does not wish to be just an example of how we should wash one another’s feet. Only those who have first allowed Jesus to wash their own feet can then offer this service to others. Only they have “a part” with him (Jn 13:8) and thus can serve others. Lent is a favourable time for letting Christ serve us so that we in turn may become more like him. This happens whenever we hear the word of God and receive the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. There we become what we receive: the Body of Christ. In this body there is no room for the indifference which so often seems to possess our hearts. For whoever is of Christ, belongs to one body, and in him we cannot be indifferent to one another. “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honoured, all the parts share its joy” (1Cor 12:26). The Church is the communio sanctorum not only because of her saints, but also because she is a communion in holy things: the love of God revealed to us in Christ and all his gifts. Among these gifts there is also the response of those who let themselves be touched by this love. In this communion of saints, in this sharing in holy things, no one possesses anything alone, but shares everything with others. And since we are united in God, we can do something for those who are far distant, those whom we could never reach on our own, because with them and for them, we ask God that all of us may be open to his plan of salvation.

  1. “Where is your brother?” (Gen 4:9)– Parishes and Communities

All that we have been saying about the universal Church must now be applied to the life of our parishes and communities. Do these ecclesial structures enable us to experience being part of one body? A body which receives and shares what God wishes to give? A body which acknowledges and cares for its weakest, poorest and most insignificant members? Or do we take refuge in a universal love that would embrace the whole world, while failing to see the Lazarus sitting before our closed doors (Lk 16:19-31)? In order to receive what God gives us and to make it bear abundant fruit, we need to press beyond the boundaries of the visible Church in two ways. In the first place, by uniting ourselves in prayer with the Church in heaven. The prayers of the Church on earth establish a communion of mutual service and goodness which reaches up into the sight of God. Together with the saints who have found their fulfilment in God, we form part of that communion in which indifference is conquered by love. The Church in heaven is not triumphant because she has turned her back on the sufferings of the world and rejoices in splendid isolation. Rather, the saints already joyfully contemplate the fact that, through Jesus death and resurrection, they have triumphed once and for all over indifference, hardness of heart and hatred. Until this victory of love penetrates the whole world, the saints continue to accompany us on our pilgrim way. Saint Therese of Lisieux, a Doctor of the Church, expressed her conviction that the joy in heaven for the victory of crucified love remains incomplete as long as there is still a single man or woman on earth who suffers and cries out in pain: “I trust fully that I shall not remain idle in heaven; my desire is to continue to work for the Church and for souls” (Letter 254, July 14, 1897). We share in the merits and joy of the saints, even as they share in our struggles and our longing for peace and reconciliation. Their joy in the victory of the Risen Christ gives us strength as we strive to overcome our indifference and hardness of heart.

In the second place, every Christian community is called to go out of itself and to be engaged in the life of the greater society of which it is a part, especially with the poor and those who are far away. The Church is missionary by her very nature; she is not self-enclosed but sent out to every nation and people. Her mission is to bear patient witness to the One who desires to draw all creation and every man and woman to the Father. Her mission is to bring to all a love which cannot remain silent. The Church follows Jesus Christ along the paths that lead to every man and woman, to the very ends of the earth (cf. Acts 1:8). In each of our neighbours, then, we must see a brother or sister for whom Christ died and rose again. What we ourselves have received, we have received for them as well. Similarly, all that our brothers and sisters possess is a gift for the Church and for all humanity. Dear brothers and sisters, how greatly I desire that all those places where the Church is present, especially our parishes and our communities, may become islands of mercy in the midst of the sea of indifference!

  1. “Make your hearts firm!” (James 5:8) – Individual Christians

As individuals too, we are tempted by indifference. Flooded with news reports and troubling images of human suffering, we often feel our complete inability to help. What can we do to avoid being caught up in this spiral of distress and powerlessness? First, we can pray in communion with the Church on earth and in heaven. Let us not underestimate the power of so many voices united in prayer! The 24 Hours for the Lord initiative, which I hope will be observed on 13-14 March throughout the Church, also at the diocesan level, is meant to be a sign of this need for prayer. Second, we can help by acts of charity, reaching out to both those near and far through the Church’s many charitable organizations. Lent is a favourable time for showing this concern for others by small yet concrete signs of our belonging to the one human family. Third, the suffering of others is a call to conversion, since their need reminds me of the uncertainty of my own life and my dependence on God and my brothers and sisters. If we humbly implore God’s grace and accept our own limitations, we will trust in the infinite possibilities which God’s love holds out to us. We will also be able to resist the diabolical temptation of thinking that by our own efforts we can save the world and ourselves.

As a way of overcoming indifference and our pretensions to self-sufficiency, I would invite everyone to live this Lent as an opportunity for engaging in what Benedict XVI called a formation of the heart (cf. Deus Caritas  Est, 31). A merciful heart does not mean a weak heart. Anyone who wishes to be merciful must have a strong and steadfast heart, closed to the tempter but open to God. A heart which lets itself be pierced by the Spirit so as to bring love along the roads that lead to our brothers and sisters. And, ultimately, a poor heart, one which realizes its own poverty and gives itself freely for others. During this Lent, then, brothers and sisters, let us all ask the Lord: “Fac cor nostrum secundum cor tuum”: Make our hearts like yours (Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). In this way we will receive a heart which is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart which is not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalization of indifference. It is my prayerful hope that this Lent will prove spiritually fruitful for each believer and every ecclesial community. I ask all of you to pray for me. May the Lord bless you and Our Lady keep you.


(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

From Synod to Synod Recap


On October 2, 2014, Pope Francis said, “A synod means walking together and also praying together.” Three months ago, the Church was given a gift in the form of the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. We are very thankful that S+L could be a part of the historical moment in Church. Last year, Fr. Thomas Rosica led a S+L TV production team in Rome to cover the Synod in English, French and Chinese at the Vatican. It was a fruitful experience and a huge blessing for us all.

On January 26, 2015, we experienced yet another fruitful moment. We hosted a special presentation on the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family at St. Michael’s College School. The presentation was led by Fr. Thomas Rosica with three of our producers, Sebastian Gomes (who covered the Synod in English), Charles Le Bourgeois (who did the French coverage) and Rodney Leung (who led our Chinese coverage). The evening was a beautiful time to share our Synod experience with our board members and general public.

The evening kicked off with the premiere of a short S+L video production on the Synod, titled “This is the Synod of Bishops – 2014 Synod Recap.” Check it out below!

After the video premiere, Fr. Rosica gave a short summary of the evening to come and introduced our producers! Each producer then gave a short presentation ranging from 6-15 minutes on their own experience at the Synod. It was quite interesting to hear about all the stuff that happened INSIDE the Synod, stuff that wasn’t usually reported on by the media. And since our three reporters each reported in their own language, we lived three different experiences!

Following the short presentations came the Q&A period of the night. The audience members asked excellent questions on euthanasia and homosexual unions, just to name a few. The whole evening was a huge success! Afterwards, we received many positives remarks and compliments on all the great work our producers did.

(Check out a few photos of the evening at the end of the post!)

The Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was just a preparatory stage for the Synod that is come in October 2015. There is still a long way to go for the Church and for the faithful.

Let us all learn not to judge, but to love and to pray with people and for all people.

Let us also keep Pope Francis, all the cardinals and bishops in our prayers. May the Holy Spirit be with them always and guide them in the upcoming Synod this October.

Lastly, thank you for your prayers and your generous support for us! We will broadcast this special program – “From Synod to Synod” soon. We would love to share this special moment with all of you and your family.

God Bless!

Holy Family of Nazareth, pray for us!


AudienceReception1 Reception NoelTony Emilie BillyTable

Check out our Facebook page for more photos! Stay tuned for the television airing!


Pope Francis’ General Audience – Perspectives Daily

Today on Perspectives, Pope Francis’ Weekly General Audience.

Ottawa Celebrates Homelands Mass – Perspectives Daily

Today on Perspectives, Pope Francis’ Message for Lent and the Archdiocese of Ottawa celebrates it’s annual Homelands Mass.

Pope Francis Surpassing Steve McQueen in Pop Culture Coolness



Noel-BlogWelcome to S+L’s Weekly News Round-Up. As the Director of Marketing and Communications here at S+L, many interesting Catholic news stories and articles come across my desk on a daily basis. Some of them we’ll cover on our different television programs and others I’d like to share with you on this blog.

This blog column is where I’ll point out some of the more interesting news pieces that I’ve come across over the past week. Enjoy!

Steve McQueenSteve-McQueen has always been for me the quintessential definition of the uber-cool dude, never breaking a sweat, never a flustered moment even in the most difficult situations. Lately, however, I’m starting to see that even the late great McQueen can’t hold a candle to the cool persona of Papa Francesco. And I’m not the only one starting to think so! Check out how Pope Francis smoothly handles these tough moments with genuine humor, never missing a beat or ever losing his cool! This is from ABS-CBN news. – I doubt that even McQueen could be that cool.

Now here’s an interesting video. St. Valentine’s day is just around the corner and, leading up to this special day focused on love, you’ll see many young men try to woo and court the hearts of their loved ones in all kinds of crazy and ridiculous ways . But have you seen it done like this before – in the way of a Catholic pick-up lines song? Really? Seriously? ‘How utterly cheesy!’ so I thought. But listen to the lyrics. It’s darn funny and now I’m wondering, “why didn’t I think of that?!!”

For those of you who are on Facebook, I’m sure that you’ve noticed the endless array of quizzes that populate your news feed. I don’t normally pay any attention to them, but I came across this one that piqued my interest – Online quiz of the Virgin Mary. I thought I could ace this one easily, (you know, since I work for a Catholic media organization and all…) But in the end, I’m embarrassed to say that I only scored a 57% – Can you do better?

I’m sure by now you’ve heard of the term “Flash Mob.” If not, it’s basically a large impromptu public gathering of people, usually organized through text messaging or online social networks. (See here for an example.) But have you heard of the term of MASS Mob? Very sadly, many churches in New York are slated to close due to dwindling attendance and finances. Could a series of “Mass Mobs” save them? Check this interesting read posted by the Crux.

In light of Pope Francis’s recent visit to the Philippines there’s a lot of speculation that the Pope’s visit could potentially boost Cardinal Tagle’s chances as the first Asian pontiff. Many parallels are being recognized between the Filipino Cardinal and Pope Francis. The question is, is all this speculation based on fact or just wishful thinking by the Filipino nation? Read about it here. And yet another article on the same topic!

Incidentally, check out the interview we did with him on our show Witness:

Finally, Super Bowl XLIX is just four days away. Personally, I don’t care much for football but here is a interesting article on the sport that does interest me. Apparently, God has a strong hand in determining the winner and 1 in 4 Americans believe that the hand of God will be seen before the final whistle blows. So I guess, (if I was American), God, indeed, has much to do with football devotion after all!– Interesting read – Now if only the half-time shows could be more Christian..Or do the Super Bowl organizers think that God is taking a washroom break during the half-time shows?… Hmmm.

That’s it for me folks. I’d love to hear you thoughts and comments on these stories. If you have any interesting stories yourself, please feel free to send them to me!

I hope you enjoy these little stories. I certainly have. Till next week!

– Noel

Pope Francis Concludes the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity – Perspectives Daily

Today on Perspectives, Pope Francis’ Sunday Angelus address and the Ecumenical Prayer Service to close the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.