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Movies, Priests and Pope Francis – Still Popular


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!

So many great articles have surfaced over the past few weeks that I don’t event know where to begin or how to group them so that there is some order to this week’s blog post! Nevertheless, below are some of the pieces that I’ve enjoyed.

Being a big movie fan and working in television, I found this article particularly interesting. Apparently, there’s a list complied by the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications back in 1995 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the film industry. Check out the Vatican’s top 45 list of great films.

Since we are on the topic of films, our friends at Aleteia published an article highlighting 12 Great Movie Priests in film in the past 4 years. It’s really great to see that the priesthood is being portrayed very positively in some big-budget Hollywood films. I hope it’s a trend that we’ll continue to see!

Speaking of the priest hood in big films, how about on the “small screen”? Imagine some of the funny things that a poor pastor has to put up with on a daily basis at his church!

Check out these Funny Church Moments video posted on the Crux:

Ok, on to a more serious note. I’m sure we all remember from our history class, the atrocities that were committed against the Armenians during the Armenian genocide in 1915-16 when the Ottoman government systematically exterminated Armenian, leaving 1.5 million dead. Apparently, old files have surfaced detailing how the Vatican tried to stop the genocide. It is indeed a very interesting read. The article about it can be read here.

Earlier this month, Peter Wehner of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, published a long but interesting article in The New York Times on why a lot of evangelical Christians are ready to follow Pope Francis’ lead. He makes some compelling arguments as to why evangelicals should love the Pope. It’s definitely worth the read.

And since we are talking of interesting reads, do you remember the Screwtape letters written by C.S. Lewis? Here is an absolutely fantastic article, or letter if you so will, written in the same C.S Lewis fashion published in Catholic365. It seems that both Wormwood and Screwtape are still at it but this time in Connecticut.

Check it out here.

Finally now, here is a quiz that I thought you might like. Take it here: How well do you know the Eucharist? Being a catholic all my life I thought, this was an easy one. How wrong I was. Let’s see if you can beat my score of 2.

Well, that’s it for me this week 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 enjoyed these little stories! I certainly have. Till next week!

– Noel

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Vatican Connections: January 9, 2015

Pope Francis delivered his Christmas present to the Church a little late, but still well within the liturgical Christmas season.

On January 4, while leading the Angelus, Pope Francis announced the names of the 15 men under 80 he wants to elevate to the rank of cardinal. Among them are Latin Americans, Africans, Asians, and a select few Europeans from unexpected places. They are:

Abp.Dominique Mamberti – Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Segnatura

Abp. Manuel José Macário do Nascimento Clemente – Patriarch of Lisbon

Abp. Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, C.M., Archbishop of Addis Abeba, Ethiopia

Abp. John Atcherley Dew, Archbishop of Wellington, New Zealand

Abp. Edoardo Menichelli, Arcbishop of Ancona-Osimo. Italy.

Abp. Pierre Nguyên V?n Nhon, Archbishop ofHà Nôi, Viêt Nam

Abp. Alberto Suárez Inda, Archbishop of Morelia, Mexico

Abp.. Charles Maung Bo, S.D.B., Arcbishop of Yangon, Myanmar

Abp. Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij, Arcbishop of Bangkok, Thailandia

Abp. Francesco Montenegro, Archbishop of Agrigento, Italy

Abp. Daniel Fernando Sturla Berhouet, S.D.B., Archbishop of Montevideo, Uruguay

Abp. Ricardo Blázquez Pérez, Archbishop of Valladolid, Spain

Bp. José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuán, O.A.R., Bishop of David, Panamá

Bp. Arlindo Gomes Furtado, Bishop of Santiago of Cape Verde

Bp. Soane Patita Paini Mafi, Vescovo di Tonga, Isole di Tonga

There is much rejoicing among devotees of El Salvadorian Archbishop Oscar Romero. The official newspaper of the Italian Bishops’ Conference reported on Friday that a panel of theologians at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints had voted unanimously to recognize the slain archbishop’s death as that of a martyr.

The Vatican did not confirm the report.

In order to be beatified the cardinals and bishops who make up the Congregation for Saints causes would need to ratify the theological commission’s vote. Finally, Pope Francis would have to give his approval.

Getting papal approval to recognize Romero’s sanctity should not be difficult. In August 2014 Pope Francis told reporters “for me, Romero is a man of God.” In 2013 he reportedly told El Salvador’s Ambassador to the Holy See “I hope that under this pontificate we can beatify (Archbishop Romero).”

Earlier in the week Pope Francis read an excerpt from one of Archbishop Romero’s 1977 homilies during his catechesis talk at the weekly General Audience.

Archbishop Romero was killed on March 24 1980, while celebrating Mass in a hospital in San Salvador. One day earlier he had given a homily in which he called on soldiers in the country to stop enforcing the government’s policies of oppression and human rights violations.



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Today on Perspectives, Pope Francis’ weekly general audience, the Vatican steps up its efforts in the fight against Ebola, the Eastern Churches and the Orthodox Churches celebrate Christmas and the feast of St. Andre Bessette.

O Christmas Tree


Vatican Christmas Tree

Although it stands tall next to the obelisk in the middle of St. Peter’s Square every year, the Vatican’s Christmas tree is relatively new addition to the Holy See’s yuletide traditions.

St. John Paul II introduced the Christmas Tree to St. Peter’s square in the early 80s.

Why was the piazza bereft of a tree until then?

It could be due to the fact that the Christmas tree is not, strictly speaking, a religious symbol of feast of the birth of Christ.

The practice of decorating the home with boughs of evergreen and setting up a decorated tree, seem to be liked to pagan traditions prevalent in Roman times. It was common practice to decorate one’s home with greenery at New Year’s to scare away the devil.

Other sources point to the medieval nativity plays. At some point in time the date we now know as Christmas was the date of a feast dedicated to Adam and Eve (or very close to it). Medieval nativity plays kept that connection alive, and as a result often featured live trees decorated with fruits.

Eventually the practice was banned. However, it seems people in Germany took to setting up fruit-decorated trees, known as “Paradise Trees” in their homes and keeping them up throughout the Christmas season.

The practice of setting up a tree in one’s house was largely confined to Germany. It wasn’t until 1848 that the practice was introduced to the rest of the world, thanks to Queen Victoria.

The beloved queen encouraged Prince Albert to set up a decorated tree in the palace just as he did as a child in Germany. A picture of the royal Christmas tree was published in newspapers and magazines around the wor ld and the practice suddenly became fashionable.

By the time St. John Paul II became pope, Christmas trees were widely accepted as a Christmas symbol alongside the nativity scene, so it seemed natural to have a tree placed in St. Peter’s square next to the manger scene. Since St. John Paul II had the first tree placed in the piazza different places around Italy and northern Europe have considered it an honour to donate the tree that will adorn St. Peter’s Square.

(CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Christmas eve mass from St. Peter’s Basilica


On Christmas Eve Pope Francis leads the church in celebrating the birth of Christ with Mass at The Vatican. S+L brings you full coverage with English commentary.

Wednesday, Dec 24 3:30 pm ET / 12:30pm PT

Vatican Connections: December 19, 2014

Eight people were appointed to the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Minors this week, including an abuse survivor. With the appointments the commission is now fully formed and set to begin working in early February.

The new members come from different parts of the world and have expertise in some aspect related to sexual abuse. One of the new members, Peters Saunders, is an abuse survivor and the founder of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC). He was also one of six abuse survivors who met with Pope Francis in July.

Here are more details on the new committee members:

Father Luis Manuel ALI HERRERA is the Director of the Department of Psychology and a professor of pastoral psychology in the Conciliar Seminary of the Archdiocese of Bogotá, Colombia. He also serves as a parish priest.

Dr. Gabriel DY-LIACCO is an adult and adolescent psychotherapist in the Philippines. He is also a pastoral counselor for individuals, couples, families and groups with various mental health concerns. Dr. Dy Liacco has worked with both victims and perpetrators of abuse.

Bill KILGALLON is Director of the National Office for Professional Standards of the Catholic Church in New Zealand. He moved to New Zealand four years ago after a long career in social work and health services in the United Kingdom.

Sr. Kayula Gertrude LESA, RSC works at the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection in Zambia. She is the author of books on child protection, human trafficking, refugee rights and the right to information. She served as a member of the African Forum for Church Social Teaching (AFCAST).

Sr. Hermenegild MAKORO, CPS is the secretary general of the South African Bishops conference. She is a member of the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood in the Diocese of Mathatha.

Kathleen McCORMACK has served as Director of Welfare of CatholicCare in the Diocese of Wollongong, Australia for 29 years. CatholicCare helps diocese provide social services to people in need. McCormack held leadership roles in Family Services, Child Protection, Out Of Home Care and Ageing and Disability Services.

Peter SAUNDERS was abused throughout his childhood in Wimbledon, South West London.   Saunders eventually discovered that he was one of millions who had suffered such abuse and who could not find any appropriate support. He set up the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, to help support survivors and to help develop greater resources for responding to child abuse.

Dr. Krysten WINTER-GREEN is a New Zealander living in the United States. She has with post-graduate degrees in Theology, Human Development, Social Work, Religion and Pastoral Psychology. Winter-Green served as Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley’s chancellor when he was bishop of St. Thomas in the American Virgin Islands, and she also worked for him in Fall River and Boston. According to the biographical information provided by the Vatican she has done extensive work in the area of forensics, assessment and treatment of priest and clergy offenders.”

The commission will meet at the Vatican in early February.

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