Not ‘only of the pure,’ Church welcomes sinners, Pope Francis says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- If the church excluded sinners, it would pretty much be empty, Pope Francis told thousands of people gathered for his weekly general audience. In the history of the church, "some have been tempted to say that the church is the church only of the pure" and that others should be shunned, he said Oct. 2. "This isn't true. This is a heresy."

Pope: Signs of God in church are peace, joy, not flawless efficiency

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The day before Pope Francis was set to meet with a select group of cardinals to discuss reforming the governance of the Roman Curia, the pope said the signs of God’s presence in the church are peace and joy, and not necessarily a perfectly efficient, flawless operation. “The disciples wanted efficiency, […]

The meaning of the phrase, Jesus rose ‘again’

Q. Thank you for your column, which helps me to understand the nuances of our faith. Here is my question: In both the Nicene Creed and the Apostles' Creed, we say that Jesus "rose again" from the dead; the word "again" puzzles me -- did Jesus rise twice? (McFarland, Wis.) Q. I was married outside the church in 1979. In 2003, I was divorced. I am a practicing Catholic and attend Mass regularly. Is it all right for me to receive holy Communion? And if I were to remarry, could I be married in the church? (Hope, Ark.)

Pope: Get out in the real world to find Jesus

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- People will not find Jesus by hanging out in first-class lounges or in the library, but by being out and about in the real world and in prayer, Pope Francis said. And following him will not be easy because "Jesus creates problems," the pope said Sept. 26 during his morning Mass in his residence of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

Mediums are an extra large no-no in church teaching

A skeptical reader wonders about a spirit "medium" communicating messages from the dead, and what the church's stance is on the subject. Columnist Father Ken Doyle replies that church teaching on the matter is crystal clear. Also, he addresses a question about one parish's ban on altar girls.

Pope: Judging others kills, reflects cowardice in facing own defects

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — People who judge and criticize others are hypocrites and cowards who are unable to face their own defects, Pope Francis said. Gossip, too, is “criminal” as it destroys, rather than exalts the image of God present in others, he said in his early morning homily Sept. 13 at his residence of […]

Programs for the happily married; position of the tabernacle

Q. We have a question that we would like answered with reasons, not just words. We hear about pre-Cana for engaged couples, the Christian Family Movement for those with children, Marriage Encounter for those with problem marriages and separate retreats for men and women. There is nothing for happily married couples who want to spend their trip to heaven together, as the unit they became when they were married. For what reason does the church not support the idea of couples being treated as one, as they strive to improve their spiritual life together? (Bluffton, S.C.) Q. When I was growing up, the tabernacle was in the front of the church on the main altar. I am upset that some Catholic churches today put our Lord in a small chapel in the back of the church. I consider that disrespectful and think that it must displease Jesus. (Bedford, Va.)

Pope: It’s impossible to live out Gospel without help from Christ, Mary

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- What God asks of people is too difficult and demanding to do without help from Jesus and Mary, Pope Francis said. People need to lose themselves in the contemplation of Mary's sweetness and Christ's suffering in order to receive the grace necessary to live out God's will, he said in his Sept. 12 morning homily at his residence in the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

Fasting is a tie that binds us to Syrians and all suffering people

In his remarks last Sunday in Rome, Pope Francis called the whole church to a day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria and the whole world. This is not the ritual fast before we receive the Eucharist, nor the traditional fast of Lent. This fast is a call to throw ourselves on the mercy of God, keening for the brokenness of the Body of Christ that has brought us — again — to the brink of war.

Yes, you can greet one another before Mass

Q. According to one article that I read, the bishops addressed the practice of inviting members of the congregation to greet those around them before the Mass begins -- their feeling being that this detracted from the sign of peace, which the liturgy places just before Communion. Sadly, though, this action continues in many parishes. What is your take on it? (Walnut Creek, Calif.) Q. We have all been told that Jesus and Mary were like us in all things but sin. I take that to mean that they felt all the emotions that humans naturally experience. But I heard a nun say on television that Jesus was not afraid to die. I don't believe that. I think he was terrified. Likewise, the early 18th-century St. Louis de Montfort said in one of his books that Mary suffered no pain in childbirth. Why not? Was she human or not? (Carrolltown, Pa.)