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Pope Francis shares a spiritual life hack: Know the ‘passwords’ of your heart

Pope Francis greets pilgrims on St. Peter's Square, Oct. 5 2022. / Daniel Ibáñez / CNA

Rome Newsroom, Oct 5, 2022 / 03:04 am (CNA).

Pope Francis shared a spiritual life hack for discernment at his general audience on Wednesday.

Speaking in St. Peter’s Square on Oct. 5, the pope said that the “spiritual life, too, has its passwords.” 

Just like on one’s computer, where “we know how important it is to know the password in order to get into the programs where the most personal and valuable information is stored,” the pope said that discernment requires unlocking “the passwords of our heart.”

Crowds welcome Pope Francis on St. Peter's Square, Oct. 5, 2022. Daniel Ibáñez / CNA
Crowds welcome Pope Francis on St. Peter's Square, Oct. 5, 2022. Daniel Ibáñez / CNA

Pope Francis underlined that “self-knowledge” is key to discernment. When discerning whom to marry or whether one is called to be a priest or religious sister, the pope said it is important to know what one’s heart is most sensitive to protect oneself from temptation. 

He said the devil “knows these passwords well, and it is important that we know them too, so as not to find ourselves where we do not want to be.”

“Temptation does not necessarily suggest bad things, but often disordered things, presented with excessive importance,” the pope said.

“They can be, for example, degrees, careers, relationships, all things that are in themselves praiseworthy, but towards which, if we are not free, we risk having unrealistic expectations, such as the confirmation of our worth. … From this misunderstanding often comes the greatest suffering, because none of those things can be the guarantee of our dignity,” he said.

Pope Francis recommended the practice of an “examination of conscience” to learn and note “what we give most importance to” in daily choices. 

Above all, he said that it is crucial to understand what truly “satiates the heart.”

“For only the Lord can give us confirmation of what we are worth. He tells us this every day from the cross: he died for us, to show us how precious we are in his eyes. There is no obstacle or failure that can prevent his tender embrace,” he said.

The pope’s reflection was part of a weekly catechesis series on spiritual discernment that he launched on Aug. 31. 

Pope Francis noted that “underlying spiritual doubts and vocational crises” is often a lack of self-knowledge.

The pope quoted Thomas Green’s book on discernment, “Weeds Among the Wheat”: “I have come to the conviction that the greatest obstacle to true discernment (and to real growth in prayer) is not the intangible nature of God, but the fact that we do not know ourselves sufficiently, and do not even want to know ourselves as we really are. Almost all of us hide behind a mask, not only in front of others, but also when we look in the mirror.”

Pope Francis added: “Forgetfulness of God’s presence in our life goes hand in hand with ignorance of ourselves … ignorance of our personality traits and our deepest desires.”

General audience with Pope Francis, Oct. 5, 2022. Daniel Ibáñez / CNA
General audience with Pope Francis, Oct. 5, 2022. Daniel Ibáñez / CNA

At the end of his general audience, Pope Francis recalled that the Church celebrates the feast of St. Faustina Kowalska on Oct. 5.

“Through her, God directed the world to seek salvation in his mercy. Let us remember this especially today, thinking especially of the war in Ukraine,” he said in his greeting to Polish-speaking pilgrims.

Pope Francis reminded people of his appeal for Ukraine in his Angelus address on Sunday and added: “We trust in God’s mercy, which can change hearts, and in the maternal intercession of the Queen of Peace.”

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Pope Francis Shares a Spiritual Life Hack: Know the ‘Passwords’ of Your Heart

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Italian Court Acquits Three Legionaries of Christ of Extortion Charges

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A Mobile Abortion Facility at a Church? Planned Parenthood is Considering Just That

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Italian court acquits three Legionaries of Christ of extortion charges

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Denver Newsroom, Oct 4, 2022 / 17:20 pm (CNA).

The Legionaries of Christ announced Monday the conclusion of a judicial process in the Ordinary Court of Milan involving three priests and two other persons in Italy.

In a statement posted on their website Oct. 3, the Legionaries reported that the ruling says, “All the defendants have been fully acquitted of the crime of attempted extortion because such an attempt did not exist,” and that “the judge will announce the reasons for her decision within 90 days.”

The statement explains that the accusations were made in 2013, “in the context of the relationship with a family that had reported abuse by Vladimir Reséndiz Gutiérrez.”

Reséndiz is a Mexican national and former Legionary of Christ priest. In 2011 he was accused of committing sexual abuse between 2006 and 2008 in the congregation’s minor seminary in Gozzano, in Italy’s Novara Province.

In March 2011, while working in Venezuela, he was removed from ministry after admitting he had abused a minor there.

In April 2013 he was dismissed from the clerical state.

In a civil proceeding that ended in 2020, Reséndiz was sentenced to seven years in prison and to pay various compensation.

“The Congregation asks forgiveness of those who suffered any abuse and for all the pain that was caused, knowing that this request for forgiveness will never be enough to heal the deep wounds caused,” the Legionaries said.

The Legionaries of Christ is a Catholic religious congregation comprised of priests and candidates for the priesthood.

The order was founded on Jan. 3, 1941, in Mexico City by the late Marcial Maciel, a priest who sexually abused at least 60 minors.

The Catholic congregation and its Regnum Christi lay movement went through a process of renewal and purification with the accompaniment of the Vatican, represented by the late Cardinal Velasio de Paolis.

This renewal led to the creation of the Regnum Christi Federation, which includes the Legionaries of Christ, the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi, and the Lay Consecrated Men of Regnum Christi.

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

A mobile abortion clinic at a church? Planned Parenthood is considering just that

null / Glynnis Jones/Shutterstock.

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Oct 4, 2022 / 16:15 pm (CNA).

Planned Parenthood is responding to state abortion restrictions by trying something new: an abortion clinic on wheels. It will send its first one — a 37-foot abortion RV — to Illinois, where it will offer abortions at various locations by the end of this year.

As the nation’s largest abortion provider maps the best routes for the mobile clinic, it is considering churches as “potential stopping-off points,” NPR reported Monday.

The mobile clinic could be the first of many. Planned Parenthood is keeping open the possibility of creating additional ones in the future, the outlet reported officials as saying. The news follows the Supreme Court’s June decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and leave abortion policy up to the states.

The abortion RV will drive along the border of Illinois — a state with liberal abortion laws — to cater to pregnant women in neighboring states that are restricting abortion after Roe. More specifically, the clinic will travel near the borders of southeastern Missouri, western Kentucky, and northeastern Tennessee while staying in Illinois, according to the AP.

A pro-life group in that state condemned the decision.

“Planned Parenthood’s announcement of a mobile abortion unit that will travel the southern portion of Illinois is further proof that the abortion industry will stop at nothing to expand the killing of preborn children at the expense of women’s health and safety,” ​​Amy Gehrke, the executive director of Illinois Right to Life, responded in a press release Tuesday.

This year, the clinic will hand out abortion pills up to 11 weeks’ gestation, NPR reported. Next year, it plans to offer surgical abortions.

“Rather than being the simple solution abortion advocates claim, chemical abortions often lead to massive bleeding and pain,” Gehrke cautioned about the abortion pills. “Women may also have to dispose of their child’s developing body. Finally, chemical abortions have an alarmingly high complication rate, four times that of surgical abortion.”

In 2021, the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the research arm for SBA Pro-Life America, cited a study looking at more than 42,000 abortions in Finland from 2000 to 2006, which found chemical abortion has a complication rate four times greater than that of surgical abortion. 

The FDA first approved mifepristone, which is paired with another drug called misoprostol, for earlier abortions in 2000. It is accepted for use up to 10 weeks’ gestation.

Dr. Colleen McNicholas, chief medical officer for Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis office, told NPR that women will consume mifepristone, the first drug, at the clinic. Women will swallow the other, misoprostol, on their own. 

“The mobile abortion clinic is a way to reduce travel times and distances in order to meet patients at the Illinois border,” McNicholas told the AP. 

The RV will feature a small waiting area, laboratory, and two exam rooms. 

Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri did not respond with comment by time of publication.

Maryland priest accused of sexual abuse of minors placed on administrative leave

Parishioners of Holy Cross Church in Garrett Park, Maryland, learned in a Sept. 30, 2022, email that their pastor was suspended over allegations of sexual abuse of minors. / Farragutful|Wikipedia|CC BY-SA 3.0

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Oct 4, 2022 / 15:15 pm (CNA).

A priest at a Catholic church in Garrett Park, Maryland, has been placed on administrative leave after he was accused of sexually abusing minors before he became a priest.

The Archdiocese of Washington (ADW) informed parishioners at Holy Cross Catholic Church in a Sept. 30 emailed letter that their pastor, Father Robert P. Buchmeier, had been suspended from his duties and is no longer living at the rectory. Buchmeier has not been charged criminally in connection with any of the allegations.

In the letter, Father Anthony Lickteig, the ADW’s episcopal vicar for clergy, explained that the Archdiocese of Arlington, Virginia, notified the ADW of the accusations against Buchmeier and noted that the abuse was alleged to have taken place decades before in another diocese “prior to his ordination to the priesthood.”

The letter did not specify the number of incidents of abuse cited in the accusation.

WTOP news reported that an email from the principal at Holy Cross Catholic School, which serves children from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, said that the alleged sexual abuse took place in Virginia.

The letter indicated that the accusations were first made to the Diocese of Arlington and advised anyone with more information to contact the Alexandria police.

Alexandria police could not be reached for comment at the time of publication. The Catholic Standard reported that as of Oct. 4, charges had not been filed against the priest.

Buchmeier was ordained in 1991 after studies at Blessed John XXIII Seminary in Weston, Massachusetts. Before entering the seminary, he spent 15 years of commissioned service in the U.S. Army as a Medical Service Corps officer.

He was appointed pastor of Holy Cross by Cardinal Donald Wuerl in 2015. Following his ordination, he served as a parochial vicar at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Clinton, Maryland.

He then served at the following Maryland churches: St. Bernardine of Siena Parish, Suitland; Christ the King Parish, Silver Spring; St. Mary Parish, Bryantown; and St. John the Evangelist Parish, Clinton. As a pastor, he has served at St. Nicholas Parish, Laurel, from 1998 to 2005; St. Columba Parish, Oxon Hill, from 2005 to 2011; and Sacred Heart Parish in La Plata from 2011 until his appointment to Holy Cross.

This is a developing story.

Medical groups ask DOJ to investigate critics of hospitals’ gender surgeries on children

Boston Children's Hospital / JosephBarillari|Wikipedia|CC BY-SA 3.0

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Oct 4, 2022 / 14:30 pm (CNA).

Three top medical groups have called on Biden’s justice department to investigate and prosecute activists and journalists who report on hospitals that perform irreversible gender surgeries on children. 

The American Medical Association (AMA), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and Children’s Hospital Association (CHA) asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to launch an investigation on Monday in a letter saying the backlash against children’s hospitals that perform gender surgeries amounted to “attacks.” 

“Children’s hospitals, academic health systems, and physicians are being targeted and threatened for providing evidence-based health care,” the letter read.

The letter claims that hospitals and medical staff who came under fire this summer for operating children’s gender clinics have faced harassment on social media and threats of violence in the form of emails, phone calls, and protestors. The letter also referred to a bomb threat that was later discovered to be false.

“The attacks are rooted in an intentional campaign of disinformation, where a few high-profile users on social media share false and misleading information targeting individual physicians and hospitals, resulting in a rapid escalation of threats, harassment, and disruption of care across multiple jurisdictions,” the letter states. 

The groups urged the Department of Justice to “investigate” and “prosecute” anyone responsible for spreading “disinformation” about gender programs. 

“We now urge your office to take swift action to investigate and prosecute all organizations, individuals, and entities responsible,” they wrote. 

Children’s hospitals received backlash for their own content 

One of the hospitals in question is Boston Children’s, which became infamous on social media earlier this summer when activists Libs of TikTok and Chris Elston, also known as “Billboard Chris,” highlighted the hospital’s own videos and website promoting its “first of a kind” gender clinic for kids.

Elston pointed out that the hospitals were coming under fire for their own published content.

“All I do is write the simple but horrific truth about what these clinics are doing to kids,” Elston told CNA.

“I’ve shared content which children’s hospitals themselves produced, and then tried to hide. It’s the words of their own doctors which cause the outrage.” 

Back in August, Elston shared screenshots on Twitter of Boston Children’s website, which said it offered double mastectomies for children as young as 15 and sterilizing genital surgeries for patients as young as 17.

After the hospital’s own videos describing these procedures went viral online, Boston Children’s removed the reference to 17-year-olds and updated its website to say patients must be 18 years of age to qualify. 

The hospital also deleted its entire YouTube playlist of at least 40 videos featuring surgeons describing the procedures.

Conservative activists such as Chris Rufo and Matt Walsh have also publicized the video playlists and websites of other children’s hospitals across the country that offer gender surgeries for children. 

Rufo took to Twitter on Monday, saying: “If ‘gender-affirming care’ is so good, the activists and doctors who promote it — and profit from it — should defend their practices in the realm of public opinion.”

Former transgender teen Chloe Cole replied, “‘Gender affirming care’ is so great that we need to violate 1A rights to convince people of how great it is!!!”

Boston Children’s Hospital did not respond to CNA’s request for comment. 

In the letter, the medical groups also called on tech companies, including Twitter, TikTok, and Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, to censor what they called “disinformation.” 

“[We] ask the platforms to take bolder action when false information is shared about specific institutions and physicians” and “do more to prevent coordinated campaigns of disinformation,” the organizations wrote.

Elston told CNA he has already experienced these effects.

“Twitter is already censoring me, requiring people to enter a birthdate before viewing my account, and flagging all media as ‘sensitive content.’ They’ve also made my account unsearchable,” he said.

But Elston and other activists fighting against gender transitions for children are not deterred. 

“Trying to silence us only amplifies our voices,” he said. “If the AMA and AAP want the outrage over gender clinics to cease, there is only one solution: stop transitioning kids.”

When CNA reached out for comment, the AMA referred to a joint press release put out by the three organizations in lieu of a comment. 

AMA president Dr. Jack Resneck said in the release, “We condemn groups that promote hate-motivated intolerance and toxic misinformation that can lead to grave real-world violence and extremism and jeopardize patients’ health outcomes.” 

“The AMA will continue to work with federal, state, and local law enforcement officials to develop and implement strategies that protect hardworking, law-abiding physicians and other health care workers from senseless acts of violence, abuse, and intimidation,” he added.

The AAP, CHA, and DOJ did not respond to CNA’s requests for comment.