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 Catholic News 

Vatican City, Sep 20, 2014 / 05:09 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis has appointed Spokane, Wash. Bishop Blase Cupich as the new shepherd of the Archdiocese of Chicago, replacing retiring Cardinal Francis George.

The 65-year-old prelate was named Chicago's new archbishop on Sept. 20.

He sits on numerous committees at the U.S. bishop's conference including the Subcommittee on the Church in Central and Eastern Europe.

Born in Omaha, Neb. In 1949, he was ordained a priest in 1975 and studied at the College of St. Thomas in Minnesota as well as the Pontifical College of North America in Rome. In 1998, he was named bishop of Rapid City, South Dakota, and in 2010, he was named bishop of Spokane.

He will replace Cardinal George, who submitted his resignation two years ago, when he turned 75, as is required by Canon Law.

The 77-year-old cardinal has struggled with his health, facing cancer three times. After being diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2006, he underwent a five-hour operation to remove his bladder, prostate gland and sections of his ureters, the tubes which connect the kidneys to the bladder. In August 2012, cancerous cells were discovered in his kidney and in a nodule that was removed from his liver. He underwent chemotherapy, and the cancer cells in his kidney became dormant.

Cardinal George was born in Chicago on Jan. 16, 1937 and is the first native of Chicago to become archbishop of the city. Pope John Paul II named him Bishop of Yakima in Washington State in 1990. After serving for five years, he was appointed archbishop of Portland, Oregon, on April 30, 1996.

Less than a year later, on April 8, 1997, Pope John Paul II named him the eighth Archbishop of Chicago after the See had fallen vacant with the death of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin on Nov. 14, 1996.

Vatican City, Sep 19, 2014 / 05:01 pm (CNA).- Catholic Church sources have dismissed rumors that Pope Francis is annoyed by an Ignatius Press book critical of Cardinal Walter Kasper’s position on Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried.

The French Catholic newspaper La Croix said Sept. 17 that “a senior source close to the Argentine Pope” claimed that Pope Francis would be “annoyed by the publication of this collective work.”

However, sources close to the Pope denied this claim, telling CNA that the Pope is not even aware of the book.

The book, from Ignatius Press, is titled “Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church.” It is a collection of essays on the pastoral approach to Catholics who have divorced and civilly remarried. Authors of the essays include five cardinals as well as other scholars.

Contributors include Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura; Cardinal Walter Brandmuller, president emeritus of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences; Cardinal Carlo Caffarra of Bologna, one of the closest theologians to St. John Paul II in questions of morality and the family; and Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, president emeritus of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs of the Holy See.

The book is set to be published next month, around the time that the Synod of Bishops will be meeting in Rome to discuss issues involving the family.

The Ignatius Press book’s introduction says the essays in “Remaining in the Truth of Christ” are responses to Cardinal Walter Kasper’s 2014 book “The Gospel of the Family,” which includes his advocacy of giving Holy Communion to some Catholics who have divorced and civilly remarried without an annulment.

Fr. Joseph Fessio, S.J., founder and editor of Ignatius Press, responded sharply to claims by Cardinal Kasper in an email exchange with CNA. He drew from Cardinal Kasper’s Sept. 18 interview with Italian newspaper La Stampa, responding point-by-point to the cardinal’s statements.

In the interview, Cardinal Kasper complained of learning about the book from journalists who had received advance copies of it. The cardinal said that he had not received an advance copy, adding, “In my entire academic life nothing like this has ever happened to me.”

“You chose to leave academia to enter public life. Get used to it,” Fr. Fessio responded.  

The priest also referenced Cardinal Kasper’s statement, “If cardinals who are the closest collaborators of the pope intervene in this organized and public manner, at least in regard to the most recent history of the Church we are facing an unprecedented situation.”

“Well, you did something unprecedented,” Fr. Fession replied. “And it was organized and public. Well, it was supposed to be done in secrecy, but then you published your consistory intervention as a book.”

Furthermore, Fr. Fessio responded to Cardinal Kasper’s statement that his consistory remarks had not offered “a definitive solution” but rather “posed some questions and offered considerations for possible responses.”

“Well, what are you complaining about then?” Fr. Fessio asked. “You got some answers and some responses to your considerations. Or weren’t those the answers you were expecting?”

Controversy over the subject arose when Cardinal Kasper delivered a prominent two-hour address to the February 2014 cardinals’ consistory, which focused on the topic of the family. He has advocated his positon in other interviews and speeches as well.

During the consistory speech, Cardinal Kasper asked “is it not perhaps an exploitation of the person” when a person who has been divorced and remarried is excluded from receiving Communion. He suggested that for “the smaller segment of the divorced and remarried,” perhaps they could be admitted to “the sacrament of penance, and then of Communion.”

In an interview with Italian newspaper Il Mattino published Sept. 18, Cardinal Kasper charged that some bishops in the upcoming synod “want a doctrinal war.”

Catholic doctrine is “not a closed system” but “a living tradition that develops,” he said, adding that he is not “the target of the controversy,” but rather that the Pope “probably is.”

The contributors to the Ignatius Press book write that the Bible and the Church Fathers do not support the practice advocated by Cardinal Kasper. The authors say that there is no contradiction between “genuine mercy and compassion” and Catholic doctrine and pastoral practice. Catholic teaching is “based on the teaching of Jesus himself,” they say, according to the Ignatius Press summary of the book.

The contributors also consider the Eastern Orthodox approach to divorce and remarriage and Catholic resistance to it. They find “serious theological and pastoral difficulties” in the practice.

Coverage of the rumors surrounding the Ignatius Press book has been prominent among those who speculate or assume that Pope Francis intends to side with Cardinal Kasper’s position at the bishops’ synod.

Pope Francis himself has reaffirmed the indissolubility and lifelong nature of Christian marriage, such as his April 2014 remarks to the bishops of South Africa.

“The holiness and indissolubility of Christian matrimony, often disintegrating under tremendous pressure from the secular world, must be deepened by clear doctrine and supported by the witness of committed married couples,” the Pope said, stressing that these truths must be taught “with great compassion.”

Other critical evaluations of Cardinal Kasper’s position have come from Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan, Congregation for Bishops prefect Cardinal Marc Ouellet and Cardinal George Pell, the last of whom is on the council of nine cardinals who are special advisers to Pope Francis.


Vatican City, Sep 19, 2014 / 03:37 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Bodily resurrection is a reality which is the seal of our identity as Christians, Pope Francis said in his Friday morning homily at Santa Marta.

Pointing to the people of Corinth, whom St. Paul spoke to in the readings during Mass, the Pope noted the Corinthians have similar problems as Christians today have when it comes to grasping the resurrection of human bodies.

“[They] had other ideas: ‘sure, the dead are justified, they shall not got to hell – good thing, too! – but they’ll go into the cosmos, into the air – just the soul before God’,” the Pope said.

People today, too, tend to believe in some sort of “cosmic pantheism” rather than the resurrection and transformation of our physical human bodies, the pontiff explained, because it is easier to accept.

“There is resistance to the transformation, resistance to the work of the Spirit we received at Baptism, which is to transform us utterly, unto the Resurrection,” the pope observed. “When we speak of this, our language tells us: ‘I want to go to heaven, I don’t want to go to hell’, but we stop there. None of us says: ‘I shall rise as Christ [did]’. No, even for us it is difficult to understand this.”

But the Christian understanding of what happens to our bodies after we die is much more radical, he said.

“[The Christian teaching on the bodily resurrection] is a scandal: they cannot understand it,” he said of the Corinthians. “This is why Paul offers the following line of reasoning, which is quite clear: ‘If Christ is risen, how can they say that there is not among yourselves resurrection from the dead, as well? If Christ is risen, the dead, too, shall rise.’”

Bodily resurrection is a part of the Profession of Faith said at Mass by Catholics: “I look forward to the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.”

This reality is the heart of Christian identity, Pope Francis said, that is: “being with the Lord, in body and soul.” He went onto explain that we are most complete as Christians “with the resurrection of our bodies, with our resurrection.”

We begin our journey to our resurrection here on earth, the pope observed, as disciples of the Lord.

“And as we get the habit of being with the Lord, this fear of the transformation of our body withers.”

Our resurrection is our great hope as Christians because it is how we will abide with God forever, the Pope said, reflecting on the words of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, who also had difficulty understanding.   

“At the end we will be with Him.”

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