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What is inclusive language and why is it dangerous?

Cardinal-elect Víctor Manuel Fernández was appointed by Pope Francis on July 1, 2023, to become the next prefect for the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. / Credit: Courtesy of Archdiocese of La Plata

ACI Prensa Staff, Mar 3, 2024 / 08:00 am (CNA).

The move toward so-called inclusive language finds its origins in the feminist movement where activists considered sexist the generic masculine form of words, which has perennially been understood to include both men and women. 

In the past, for example, no one thought of challenging “for the good of mankind” as excluding women. However, the feminist movement drew heightened sensitivity to what activists considered the “patriarchal” nature of language.

Various publications started to use terms or forms of words that made it clear that a job could be performed by both men and women. Hence “fireman” became “firefighter” and “mankind” became “humankind,” etc.

While some of these changes are not that dramatic or noticeable in English, introducing inclusive wording in languages such as Spanish, where nouns are either grammatically masculine or feminine, becomes quite obvious due to the novel alteration of noun endings.

Gender-neutral language has similarly become an issue in Germany, as German nouns are also either masculine or feminine.

Inclusive language has also been identified as “one of the tools” of gender ideology, a school of thought that has been repeatedly criticized by the Catholic Church. 

Pope Francis has warned about this school of thought on several occasions. As recently as March 1, for example, the Holy Father pointed out that gender ideology “erases differences and makes everything the same; erasing differences is erasing humanity.”

What does inclusive language mean?

The Royal Spanish Academy, considered the definitive authority on what is correct Spanish, describes inclusive language as “a set of strategies that aim to avoid the generic use of the grammatical masculine.”

In addressing the issue, the academy has stated that the generic masculine is “firmly established in the language and does not imply any sexist discrimination” and that the recently invented artificial gender-neutral noun endings “that are supposedly gender inclusive are … unnecessary since the grammatical masculine already fulfills this function.” 

In a May 2022 article in the Argentine newspaper La Nación, Alicia María Zorrilla, president of the Argentine Academy of Letters, said that inclusive language is based on the error of taking literally the concept that, in language, the masculine [form of a word] always refers to the men only.”

Pushback

In a YouTube interview with Edgardo Litvinoff, Nobel Prize winner in literature Mario Vargas Llosa said that within feminism “there are some excesses” that he believes are “very important to combat,” for example, in the field of language.

“We cannot force language by completely denaturalizing it for ideological reasons; it doesn’t work that way, languages do not work that way, and so the so-called inclusive language is a kind of aberration within language,” he noted.

Cardinal Fernández weighs in

In 2022, while still archbishop of La Plata, Argentina, the current prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, warned about the “ideological imposition” that “inclusive language” can trigger.

In June of that year, Fernández wrote in a column in the Argentine newspaper La Nación: “Fundamentally, the intention does not seem to be to ‘incorporate everyone’ but to make the very conception of ‘male-female’ disappear. The aim is that what was called ‘sex’ leaves room for a personal construction that ‘fabricates’ the identity that each person comes up with.”

“Destroying the language and expecting everyone to submit to a certain ideology can only be counterproductive and, due to the law of the pendulum, will cause more intolerance and tension,” he warned.

Growing backlash 

In 2021, the French Ministry of Education prohibited the use of inclusive language in educational institutions because, according to the Daily Mail, such alterations “are a threat to the language.” The Académie Française, a nearly 400-year-old institution similar to its Spanish counterpart, said inclusive language is “harmful to the practice and understanding” of French.

Uruguay’s National Administration of Public Education, for its part, established restrictions in 2022, determining that “language that conforms to the rules of the Spanish language” must always be used.

The City of Buenos Aires, Argentina, banned inclusive language in 2022, arguing that this variation of the language creates difficulties for students in learning grammatical rules.

Most recently, Argentina’s government, led by recently elected President Javier Milei, extended the ban to all areas of national public administration. The spokesman for office of the president, Manuel Adorni, announced on Feb. 27 that artificial alterations of word endings to make them gender neutral are now prohibited.

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

This tailoring shop in Jordan helps Iraqi refugees knit their lives back together

Woolen scarves produced at the Rafedìn tailoring workshop in Amman, Jordan. The workshop is hosted in the premises of the Latin parish of Mar Yousef and it provides employment for approximately 20 young Iraqi women who sought refuge in Jordan. / Credit: Marinella Bandini

Jerusalem, Mar 3, 2024 / 07:00 am (CNA).

In Amman, Jordan, there is a tailoring workshop where, in addition to creating clothing and accessories, the wounds of life are stitched back together. 

It is called Rafedìn, which means “the two rivers.” The rivers refer to the Tigris and the Euphrates, enclosing Mesopotamia, the land of Iraq. The name was chosen by the first Iraqi girls who participated in the project: approximately 20 young women who fled the persecution of ISIS in 2014. In Jordan, they attempted to rebuild their future.

A view of the Rafedìn tailoring workshop in Amman, Jordan. The word “Rafedìn” means “the two rivers.” The rivers refer to the Tigris and the Euphrates, enclosing Mesopotamia, the land of Iraq. The name was chosen by the first Iraqi girls who participated in the project: approximately 20 young women who fled the persecution of ISIS in 2014. Credit: Marinella Bandini
A view of the Rafedìn tailoring workshop in Amman, Jordan. The word “Rafedìn” means “the two rivers.” The rivers refer to the Tigris and the Euphrates, enclosing Mesopotamia, the land of Iraq. The name was chosen by the first Iraqi girls who participated in the project: approximately 20 young women who fled the persecution of ISIS in 2014. Credit: Marinella Bandini

The project was launched eight years ago, on Feb. 24, 2016. Since then, approximately 150 young women have been trained, according to Father Mario Cornioli, the founder and coordinator of the project.

“We started with the ‘cash for training’ formula: Those who attended the training courses received expense reimbursements. It was a way to assist with dignity, providing professional training and helping them support their families,” Cornioli told CNA. 

Cornioli comes from a family of entrepreneurs, a characteristic that emerges in his practical approach to challenges and attention to details, which are coupled with a profound spirit of service.

Father Mario Cornioli, initiator of the Rafedìn project in Amman, Jordan. Cornioli arrived in the Holy Land in 2009 as a “fidei donum” priest of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Since 2015, he has been in Jordan, serving with Iraqi refugees. “They are people of extraordinary faith," he told CNA. "They have lost everything they had but have kept their faith alive. For me, for my work, they are an endless source of personal enrichment and edification.” Credit: Marinella Bandini
Father Mario Cornioli, initiator of the Rafedìn project in Amman, Jordan. Cornioli arrived in the Holy Land in 2009 as a “fidei donum” priest of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Since 2015, he has been in Jordan, serving with Iraqi refugees. “They are people of extraordinary faith," he told CNA. "They have lost everything they had but have kept their faith alive. For me, for my work, they are an endless source of personal enrichment and edification.” Credit: Marinella Bandini

In 2013, he founded the nongovernmental organization Habibi, of which he is the president, supporting various human and social development projects, including Rafedìn, in both Bethlehem and Jordan, where Cornioli has carried out his mission. 

In fact, after being ordained a priest in 2002 for the Diocese of Fiesole, Italy, he arrived in the Holy Land in 2009 as a “fidei donum” priest of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. (“Fidei donum” refers to priests, deacons, and laypeople who serve temporarily in an existing diocese by way of an agreement between the sending bishop and the receiving bishop.) Since 2015, he has been in Jordan, serving with Iraqi refugees.

According to the latest statistics from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in Jordan there are nearly 718,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers, including more than 55,000 Iraqis. They have arrived in multiple waves since the 1990s, after the First Gulf War. In 2014, during the significant exodus due to the rise of the Islamic State, Christian churches and organizations alone welcomed over 10,000 refugees.

What began as an emergency of a few weeks transformed into a long-term situation, bringing forth challenges related to residency, the sustenance of families, access to health care, education, and employment. 

As explained in a report from Caritas, Iraqi refugees in Jordan do not receive legal status. This means they cannot work legally, making it difficult for them to sustain themselves. Consequently, they are compelled to seek settlement elsewhere, particularly in Australia, Canada, or the United States, even though their ultimate dream is to return to their homeland one day.

It is in this context that Rafedìn was born. 

“We are here to tell them that God has not abandoned them,” Cornioli said. “We started with the idea of restoring dignity to these people.”

Rafedìn tailoring workshop in Amman, Jordan. The project started on Feb. 24, 2016, initiated by Italian priest Father Mario Cornioli, who serves as a "fidei donum" for the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Credit: Marinella Bandini
Rafedìn tailoring workshop in Amman, Jordan. The project started on Feb. 24, 2016, initiated by Italian priest Father Mario Cornioli, who serves as a "fidei donum" for the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Credit: Marinella Bandini

With the support, not only financially but also professionally, of friends and volunteers, Rafedìn took its first steps. “Some seamstresses and fashion designers got involved,” Cornioli explained, particularly the designer Rosaria Mininno, who left her job in Italy last year to move to Amman and dedicate herself full time to Rafedìn. The fashion designer Antonella Mazzoni also joined them.

Currently, 19 girls are employed, all of whom are Christians. The workshop is hosted in the premises of the Latin parish of Mar Yousef. This serves as a means to protect the women working there who might not have had the opportunity to do so otherwise.

“One of the crafts that sets us apart is patchwork. The idea originated to reuse fabric scraps, but it also holds symbolic value,” according to Cornioli. “Just as something new and beautiful can emerge from scraps of fabric joined together, these ‘discarded’ girls, when united, can create beauty around them, as demonstrated by this project.”

For Cornioli, contact with refugees is what nourishes his own faith. 

“They are people of extraordinary faith: They have lost everything they had but have kept their faith alive. For me, for my work, they are an endless source of personal enrichment and edification,” he said.

Since 2018, the project has been supported by the Italian Bishops’ Conference and benefits from the collaboration of the association Pro Terra Sancta. Since 2020, there has been a partnership with the French Embassy in Jordan. 

A woman inserts the zipper into a pillowcase lining in the Rafedìn workshop in Amman (Jordan). “We cover expenses and manage to provide a small salary to the girls,” Father Mario Cornioli said. Credit: Marinella Bandini
A woman inserts the zipper into a pillowcase lining in the Rafedìn workshop in Amman (Jordan). “We cover expenses and manage to provide a small salary to the girls,” Father Mario Cornioli said. Credit: Marinella Bandini

Over the years, Rafedìn has grown, developing various production lines and expanding its collections. Now, it is economically self-sufficient: “We cover expenses and manage to provide a small salary to the girls,” Cornioli said.

Luna Sharbel, 25, arrived last November after leaving Iraq with her husband and two children. They are from Qaraqosh and made the decision to leave after a fire destroyed a structure during a wedding party resulting in more than 100 casualties

“There is no work, no security in Iraq. Now we hope to leave soon for Australia, where my husband’s entire family is already settled,” she said. 

In the meantime, Sharbel works at Rafedìn: “I feel good here. Even though I don’t think I’ll continue doing this work, coming here gives me hope.”

Hope is also the word found on Rafedìn’s label: “Fashion seen through threads of hope.” 

“For these young women, being forced to leave their homeland is an open wound,” Cornioli explained. “Working, organizing their day, contributing to support their family has a positive impact, even psychologically. As they sew, the threads of colored cotton become threads of healing, of hope for the future, the fabric of a new life.”

Third Sunday of Lent

Year B Readings 

Scrutiny Year A Readings

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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Third Sunday of Lent

Reading I Ex 20:1-17

In those days, God delivered all these commandments:
“I, the LORD, am your God, 
who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.
You shall not have other gods besides me.
You shall not carve idols for yourselves 
in the shape of anything in the sky above 
or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; 
you shall not bow down before them or worship them.
For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, 
inflicting punishment for their fathers’ wickedness 
on the children of those who hate me, 
down to the third and fourth generation; 
but bestowing mercy down to the thousandth generation 
on the children of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain.
For the LORD will not leave unpunished 
the one who takes his name in vain.

“Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.
Six days you may labor and do all your work, 
but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD, your God.
No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, 
or your male or female slave, or your beast, 
or by the alien who lives with you.
In six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, 
the sea and all that is in them; 
but on the seventh day he rested.
That is why the LORD has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.

“Honor your father and your mother, 
that you may have a long life in the land 
which the LORD, your God, is giving you.
You shall not kill.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, 
nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass, 
nor anything else that belongs to him.”

OR: 

Ex 20:1-3, 7-8, 12-17

In those days, God delivered all these commandments:
“I, the LORD am your God, 
who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.
You shall not have other gods besides me.

“You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain.
For the LORD will not leave unpunished 
the one who takes his name in vain.

“Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.
Honor your father and your mother, 
that you may have a long life in the land 
which the Lord, your God, is giving you.
You shall not kill.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, 
nor his male or female slave, nor his ox or ass, 
nor anything else that belongs to him.”

Responsorial Psalm 19:8, 9, 10, 11

R. (John 6:68c)  Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
    refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
    giving wisdom to the simple.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
    rejoicing the heart;
the command of the LORD is clear,
    enlightening the eye.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
    enduring forever;
the ordinances of the LORD are true,
    all of them just.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.
They are more precious than gold,
    than a heap of purest gold;
sweeter also than syrup
    or honey from the comb.
R. Lord, you have the words of everlasting life.

Reading II 1 Cor 1:22-25

Brothers and sisters:
Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 
but we proclaim Christ crucified, 
a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 
but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, 
Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, 
and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Verse Before the Gospel Jn 3:16

God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life.

Gospel Jn 2:13-25

Since the Passover of the Jews was near,
Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, 
as well as the money changers seated there.
He made a whip out of cords
and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, 
and spilled the coins of the money changers
and overturned their tables, 
and to those who sold doves he said,
“Take these out of here, 
and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”
His disciples recalled the words of Scripture, 
Zeal for your house will consume me.
At this the Jews answered and said to him,
“What sign can you show us for doing this?”
Jesus answered and said to them, 
“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”
The Jews said, 
“This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, 
and you will raise it up in three days?”
But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, 
his disciples remembered that he had said this, 
and they came to believe the Scripture 
and the word Jesus had spoken.

While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, 
many began to believe in his name 
when they saw the signs he was doing.
But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all, 
and did not need anyone to testify about human nature.
He himself understood it well.

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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Third Sunday of Lent

Reading I Ex 17:3-7

In those days, in their thirst for water,
the people grumbled against Moses,
saying, “Why did you ever make us leave Egypt?
Was it just to have us die here of thirst 
with our children and our livestock?”
So Moses cried out to the LORD, 
“What shall I do with this people?
a little more and they will stone me!”
The LORD answered Moses,
“Go over there in front of the people, 
along with some of the elders of Israel, 
holding in your hand, as you go, 
the staff with which you struck the river.
I will be standing there in front of you on the rock in Horeb.
Strike the rock, and the water will flow from it 
for the people to drink.”
This Moses did, in the presence of the elders of Israel.
The place was called Massah and Meribah, 
because the Israelites quarreled there
and tested the LORD, saying,
“Is the LORD in our midst or not?”

Responsorial Psalm 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9

R. (8)  If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us sing joyfully to the LORD;
    let us acclaim the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
    let us joyfully sing psalms to him.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Come, let us bow down in worship;
    let us kneel before the LORD who made us.
For he is our God,
    and we are the people he shepherds, the flock he guides.
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.
Oh, that today you would hear his voice:
    “Harden not your hearts as at Meribah,
    as in the day of Massah in the desert,
Where your fathers tempted me;
    they tested me though they had seen my works.”
R. If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts.

Reading II Rom 5:1-2, 5-8

Brothers and sisters:
Since we have been justified by faith, 
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 
through whom we have gained access by faith 
to this grace in which we stand, 
and we boast in hope of the glory of God.

And hope does not disappoint, 
because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts 
through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
For Christ, while we were still helpless, 
died at the appointed time for the ungodly.
Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, 
though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die.
But God proves his love for us
in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.

Verse Before the Gospel Cf. Jn 4:42, 15

Lord, you are truly the Savior of the world;
give me living water, that I may never thirst again.

Gospel Jn 4:5-42

Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, 
near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there.
Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well.
It was about noon.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water.
Jesus said to her,
“Give me a drink.”
His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.
The Samaritan woman said to him,
“How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”
—For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.—
Jesus answered and said to her,
“If you knew the gift of God
and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink, ‘
you would have asked him 
and he would have given you living water.”
The woman said to him, 
“Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; 
where then can you get this living water?
Are you greater than our father Jacob, 
who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself 
with his children and his flocks?”
Jesus answered and said to her, 
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; 
but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; 
the water I shall give will become in him
a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty 
or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Jesus said to her,
“Go call your husband and come back.”
The woman answered and said to him,
“I do not have a husband.”
Jesus answered her,
“You are right in saying, ‘I do not have a husband.’
For you have had five husbands, 
and the one you have now is not your husband.
What you have said is true.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, I can see that you are a prophet.
Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; 
but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus said to her,
“Believe me, woman, the hour is coming
when you will worship the Father
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You people worship what you do not understand; 
we worship what we understand, 
because salvation is from the Jews.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, 
when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; 
and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.
God is Spirit, and those who worship him
must worship in Spirit and truth.”
The woman said to him,
“I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; 
when he comes, he will tell us everything.”
Jesus said to her,
“I am he, the one speaking with you.”

At that moment his disciples returned, 
and were amazed that he was talking with a woman, 
but still no one said, “What are you looking for?” 
or “Why are you talking with her?”
The woman left her water jar 
and went into the town and said to the people, 
“Come see a man who told me everything I have done.
Could he possibly be the Christ?”
They went out of the town and came to him.
Meanwhile, the disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat.”
But he said to them,
“I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
So the disciples said to one another, 
“Could someone have brought him something to eat?”
Jesus said to them,
“My food is to do the will of the one who sent me
and to finish his work.
Do you not say, ‘In four months the harvest will be here’?
I tell you, look up and see the fields ripe for the harvest.
The reaper is already receiving payment 
and gathering crops for eternal life, 
so that the sower and reaper can rejoice together.
For here the saying is verified that ‘One sows and another reaps.’
I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; 
others have done the work, 
and you are sharing the fruits of their work.” 

Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him
because of the word of the woman who testified, 
“He told me everything I have done.”
When the Samaritans came to him,

they invited him to stay with them; 
and he stayed there two days.
Many more began to believe in him because of his word, 
and they said to the woman, 
“We no longer believe because of your word; 
for we have heard for ourselves, 
and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”

OR:

Jn 4:5-15, 19b-26, 39a, 40-42

Jesus came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, 
near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jacob’s well was there.
Jesus, tired from his journey, sat down there at the well.
It was about noon.

A woman of Samaria came to draw water.
Jesus said to her,
“Give me a drink.”
His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.
The Samaritan woman said to him, 
“How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?”
—For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.—
Jesus answered and said to her,
“If you knew the gift of God
and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink, ‘
you would have asked him 
and he would have given you living water.”
The woman said to him, 
“Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the cistern is deep; 
where then can you get this living water?
Are you greater than our father Jacob, 
who gave us this cistern and drank from it himself 
with his children and his flocks?”
Jesus answered and said to her, 
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; 
but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; 
the water I shall give will become in him
a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman said to him,
“Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty 

or have to keep coming here to draw water.

“I can see that you are a prophet.
Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain; 
but you people say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”
Jesus said to her,
“Believe me, woman, the hour is coming
when you will worship the Father 
neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.
You people worship what you do not understand; 
we worship what we understand, 
because salvation is from the Jews.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, 
when true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth; 
and indeed the Father seeks such people to worship him.
God is Spirit, and those who worship him 
must worship in Spirit and truth.”
The woman said to him,
“I know that the Messiah is coming, the one called the Christ; 
when he comes, he will tell us everything.”
Jesus said to her,
“I am he, the one who is speaking with you.”

Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him.
When the Samaritans came to him,
they invited him to stay with them; 
and he stayed there two days.
Many more began to believe in him because of his word, 
and they said to the woman, 
“We no longer believe because of your word;
for we have heard for ourselves, 
and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.”

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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

St. Katharine Drexel

St. Katharine Drexel

Feast date: Mar 03

On March 3, the universal Church celebrates the feast of St. Katharine Drexel, a Philadelphia heiress who abandoned her family’s fortune to found an order of sisters dedicated to serving the impoverished African American and American Indian populations of the United States.

Katharine was born November 26, 1858 into a wealthy and well-connected banking family. The family's wealth, however, did not prevent them from living out a serious commitment to their faith. 

Her mother opened up the family house three times a week to feed and care for the poor, and her father had a deep personal prayer life. Both parents encouraged their daughters to think of the family's wealth not as their own, but as a gift from God which was to be used to help others.

During the summer months, Katharine and her sisters would teach catechism classes to the children of the workers on her family’s summer estate. The practice would prepare her for a life of service, with a strong focus on education and attention to the poor and vulnerable.

While traveling with her family through the Western U.S., Katharine witnessed the poor living conditions of the Native Americans. Eventually, while still a laywoman, she would give much of her own money to fund the missions and schools in these seriously deprived areas.

Eventually, however, the young heiress would give more than just funding to these much-needed missions and schools. She would decide to devote her whole life to the social and spiritual development of black and American Indian communities.

The inspiration for this work came to her during a visit to Rome, where she was granted an audience with Pope Leo XIII. During that time, Katharine had been considering a vocation to cloistered contemplative life as a nun. But when she asked Pope Leo XIII to send missionaries to Wyoming, he told Katharine she should undertake the work herself.

In February of 1891, she made her first vows in religious life – formally renouncing her fortune and her personal freedom for the sake of growing closer to God in solidarity with the victims of injustice. 

Although African-Americans had been freed from slavery, they continued to suffer serious abuse and were often prevented from obtaining even a basic education. Much the same situation held in the case of the native American Indians, who had been forcibly moved into reservations over the course of the 19th century.

Katharine founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for the purpose of living with these communities while helping them acquire education and grow in faith.

Between 1891 and 1935 she led her order in the founding and maintenance of almost 60 schools and missions, located primarily in the American West and Southwest. Among the prominent achievements of Drexel and her order is New Orleans' Xavier University, the only historically black Catholic college in the U.S.

Katharine was forced into retirement for the last 20 years of her life after she suffered a severe heart attack. Although she was no longer able to lead her order, she left the sisters with her charism of love and concern for the missions.

She died on March 3, 1955 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 1, 2000.

Church Militant to shut down following $500,000 defamation lawsuit brought by priest

St. Michael's Media founder and CEO Michael Voris during an interview for local television news before the "Bishops Enough Is Enough" rally at the MECU Pavilion Nov.16, 2021, in Baltimore. / Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

CNA Staff, Mar 2, 2024 / 14:22 pm (CNA).

Church Militant, the controversial Catholic media outlet that has for years maintained a reputation for combative and antagonistic coverage of Catholic figures and issues, will cease operations next month following a $500,000 defamation judgment against it.

Boston-based law firm Todd & Weld said in a press release this week that Church Militant had “agreed to the entry of a judgment against it in the amount of $500,000” in a defamation lawsuit brought by Father Georges de Laire, the judicial vicar of the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire.

The media outlet had run an article in 2019 titled “NH Vicar Changes Dogma Into Heresy,” one in which the author, canonist Marc Balestrieri, claimed to “have talked to a number of anonymous sources who allegedly made negative comments about Father de Laire both personally and professionally,” the law firm said.

De Laire brought suit against both Balestriei and Church Militant over the article. In the course of the lawsuit, both the writer and the outlet were “unable to identify a single source who said anything negative about Father de Laire,” Todd & Weld said.

The law firm said the article had been written in “an attempt to discredit Father de Laire” and the Diocese of Manchester.

Todd & Weld said in the press release that St. Michael’s Media, the parent company of Church Militant, “will cease all operations of Church Militant by the end of April 2024.”

Church Militant did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday regarding its reasons for shutting down. Asked for insight into the company’s decision, Howard Cooper — a founding partner of Todd & Weld — declined to speculate.

“Questions about Church Militant’s thinking will need to be answered by them,” he told CNA.

Late last year, Church Militant founder Michael Voris resigned over a “morality” violation, with Voris at the time alluding to “horrible ugly things” he had done, though he did not go into specifics at the time.

“I need to conquer these demons,” he said of his decision to resign. “The underlying cause of it has been too ugly for me to look at.”

The Washington Post reported last week that staffers had “complained that Voris had sent shirtless photos of himself to Church Militant staff and associates” prior to his resignation.

Voris founded St. Michael’s Media in 2006. The company launched Church Militant — originally titled Real Catholic TV — in 2008. 

Pope Francis opens Vatican’s Judicial Year, has aide read speech due to ‘bronchitis’

Pope Francis engages with a youngster at the inauguration of the 95th Judicial Year of the Vatican City State on Saturday, March 2, 2024. / Credit: Vatican Media

Vatican City, Mar 2, 2024 / 10:42 am (CNA).

Pope Francis presided over the inauguration of the 95th Judicial Year of the Vatican City State on Saturday morning, however he delegated the task of reading the speech to an aide due to bronchitis. 

“I thank you all. I have prepared a speech, but you can hear I am unable to read it because of bronchitis,” a visibly fatigued and hoarse-sounding Francis said to the Vatican’s magistrates gathered in the Hall of Blessings. 

The 87-year-old pontiff canceled his public engagements last Saturday and Monday due to a “mild flu.” After his remarks at the general audience on Wednesday, which were also read by Monsignor Filippo Ciampanelli, the pope went to Rome’s Gemelli Isola Tiberina Hospital for “diagnostic tests.” 

On Saturday, however, the pope maintained a full schedule, including several meetings with curial officials and a private audience with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. 

The pope’s remarks to the Vatican magistrates highlighted the virtue of courage, which he observed was at the very center of justice. He said that when “combined with fortitude, [courage] ensures constancy in the search for good and makes one capable of facing trials.” 

Observing that “in well-organized, well-regulated, and institutionally supported societies, it always remains that personal courage is needed to face different situations,” the pope stressed that courage is underscored by a “healthy audacity.”

In the absence of this, the pope warned, “we risk giving in to resignation and ending up overlooking many small and large abuses.”

Expanding on this reflection, the Holy Father noted that courage is a core virtue that allows people to confront difficult inner and external trials.

“Let us think of the victims of wars, or of those who are subjected to continuous violations of human rights, including the numerous persecuted Christians. In the face of these injustices, the Spirit gives us the strength not to give up, it inspires indignation and courage in us: indignation in the face of these unacceptable realities and the courage to try to change them.”

“Courage,” the pope continued, “contains a humble strength, which is based on faith and the closeness of God and is expressed in a particular way in the ability to act with patience and perseverance, rejecting the internal and external conditioning that hinders the accomplishment of good. This courage disorientates the corrupt and puts them, so to speak, in a corner, with their hearts closed and hardened.”

The pope also noted that courage is not an isolated virtue but exists in tandem with “prudence and justice,” both of which are underscored by charity. The nexus of these virtues, the pope observed, form the basis for exercising sound judgment.

“The administration of justice,” the pope added, “[is] demonstrated by the serenity of judgment, the independence and impartiality of those who are called upon to judge at the various stages of the process. The best response is industrious silence and serious commitment to work, which allow our courts to administer justice with authority and impartiality, guaranteeing due process, in compliance with the peculiarities of the Vatican system.”

Pope Francis to the world’s children: ‘If we really want to be happy, we need to pray’

Pope Francis poses with a woman and three children during a lunch in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall for over 1,000 poor and economically disadvantaged people on Nov. 19, 2023. / Credit: Vatican Media

Vatican City, Mar 2, 2024 / 10:16 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has issued a message to the world’s children in anticipation of the Church’s first-ever World Children’s Day, which will take place in Rome from May 25–26, reminding them that the key to happiness lies in cultivating a prayer life and personal relationship with Christ, which in turn forms the basis of broader social action. 

“If we really want to be happy, we need to pray, to pray a lot, to pray every day, because prayer connects us directly to God. Prayer fills our hearts with light and warmth; it helps us to do everything with confidence and peace of mind,” the pope wrote in his March 2 letter addressed to the world’s children. 

The pope followed up this reflection by asking children to pray the Lord’s Prayer “every morning and every evening, in your families too, together with your parents, brothers, sisters, and grandparents.” But the pope urged children to not merely recite the words but to reflect on their meaning and on Jesus’ ministry. 

“He is calling us and he wants us to join actively with him, on this World Children’s Day, to become builders of a new, more humane, just, and peaceful world. Jesus, who offered himself on the cross to gather all of us together in love, who conquered death and reconciled us with the Father, wants to continue his work in the Church through us,” the pope continued

Pope Francis announced the creation of World Children’s Day last December, saying that it will be an event to bring children from all around the world together to reflect on the question of “What kind of world do we wish to pass on to the children who are growing up?” The Vatican’s Dicastery for Culture and Education is sponsoring the initiative. 

In his March 2 letter, the pope explained the theme for the World Day of Children is taken from Jesus’ words in the Book of Revelation: “Behold, I make all things new.” The pope noted these words “invite us to become as clever as children in grasping the new realities stirred up by the Spirit, both within us and around us.” 

Reflecting on the importance of children for families, the pope noted that they are a sign “of every person’s desire to grow and flourish” and a “source of joy,” a recognition that helps foster an intergenerational link “from the past to the future.” 

The pope’s message also touched upon the need for social action, asking young people to always remember “other children and young people who are already battling illness and hardship.” 

Highlighting the examples of those who are facing poverty and hunger, “victims of war and violence,” or those “forced to be soldiers or to flee as refugees, separated from their parents,” Pope Francis pleaded that “we need to hear those voices, for amid their sufferings they remind us of reality, with their tearful eyes and with that tenacious yearning for goodness that endures in the hearts of those who have truly seen the horror of evil.” 

The pope encouraged children that action starts on the local level through small acts of kindness.  

“Our world will change if we all begin with these little things, without being ashamed to take small steps, one at a time,” the pope expressed. 

Catholic priest finds kidney donor through parishioner

null / Credit: Chaikom/Shutterstock

CNA Staff, Mar 2, 2024 / 08:00 am (CNA).

Father Tim O’Sullivan is a parochial vicar at St. Ephrem Catholic Church in Bensalem, Pennsylvania. He first arrived to the parish in 2001 and says he considers it home.

In 2017, the priest began to have several health issues that led to him undergoing 11 different surgeries in a matter of 15 months. 

“The doctors say all the anesthesia that was in my system eventually took its toll on my kidneys,” O’Sullivan told Trish Hartman of Channel 6 Action News.

This led O’Sullivan to being on dialysis for five years. 

In November 2023, he decided to write a letter in the parish bulletin letting parishioners know that he was in search of a kidney donor. Despite having several people reach out, none were a match.

“A couple people in the parish did call but were not qualified for some reason or another,” he said.

It wasn’t until January that O’Sullivan received the good news — he had a donor.

Albert Stanley, 46, of South Philadelphia, died on New Year’s Day after suffering several strokes and a brain bleed. His sister, Christine Moretti, is a parishioner at St. Ephrem’s. After seeing on her brother’s driver’s license that he was an organ donor, she contacted O’Sullivan. 

“He had multiple people in his family that were not matches, so in speaking with him, of course, this would be the miracle that we need,” Moretti told Channel 6 Action News.

On Jan. 3, O’Sullivan received the call that Stanley was a match.

He received both of Stanley’s kidneys and is no longer on dialysis. O’Sullivan is still recovering but hopes to be offering Mass again at St. Ephrem’s in April. 

Stanley’s mother and sister said that knowing his organs saved someone else’s life has given them comfort in their grief.

“It was already a comfort knowing that he would live on through others. But to know that it’s someone so close — part of our parish, that my kids interact with — was very meaningful to me,” Moretti said.

O’Sullivan shared that the family’s decision was “humbling” and was a “very generous decision, even in the midst of a mother’s worst grief.”