Sister Suellen Tennyson, 83, a U.S. member of the Marianites of the Holy Cross, is pictured in a 2007 photo. Sister Tennyson, a native of New Orleans, was kidnapped late April 4 or early April 5, 2022, after armed attackers broke into the convent on the parish compound in Yago, Burkina Faso. (CNS photo/Christine Bordelon, Clarion Herald)

NEW ORLEANS (CNS) – Marianite Sister Suellen Tennyson, who was kidnapped from the convent of her educational and medical mission in Yalgo, Burkina Faso, in early April, has been found alive and is safe after nearly five months of captivity, a congregational leader of the Marianites said Aug. 30.

“She is safe,” Marianite Sister Ann Lacour said. “She is on American soil, but not in America. She is safe.” She said Sister Suellen was recovered Aug. 29 and the sisters in the congregation have spoken to her. “She eventually will get back to the United States,” she added.

Sister Ann told the Clarion Herald, archdiocesan newspaper of New Orleans, that she spoke with Sister Suellen by telephone.

At least 10 armed men were involved in the attack in which Sister Suellen, 83, was abducted, the Marianites of Holy Cross said in an electronic newsletter at the time of the abduction.

Since then, there had been no news of her whereabouts or condition.

Sister Ann said when she spoke with Sister Suellen, the missionary did not actually “know where she was.”

“She’s totally worn out,” Sister Ann said. “I told her how much people love her, and she doesn’t have anything to worry about. I told her, ‘You are alive and safe. That’s all that matters.'”

New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond said he received a text from Sister Ann and was overjoyed that she had been freed. When Sister Suellen was abducted – barefoot and in the middle of the night – she had left behind her blood pressure medication and her glasses.

The congregation said Sister Suellen, the former international congregational leader for the Marianites of Holy Cross and native of New Orleans, was sleeping when the men burst into the convent, ransacked the living quarters and kidnapped her, leaving behind two other Marianite sisters and two young women who also lived in the convent.

“There were about 10 men who came during the night while the sisters were sleeping,” Sister Ann said in an e-bulletin April 6. “They destroyed almost everything in the house, shot holes in the new truck and tried to burn it. The house itself is OK, but its contents are ruined.”

Sister Ann said she was told by the two younger women living at the convent that Sister Suellen was taken from her bed with “no glasses, shoes, phone, medicine, etc.”

The other two Marianites at the convent in Yalgo – Sister Pauline Drouin, a Canadian, and Sister Pascaline Tougma, a Burkinabé — were not abducted and did not see many of the details.

“They say the two young women who live with them saw what happened and told them (the details),” Sister Ann said. “They think there were more men on the road. They have heard nothing from or about Suellen since she was taken.”

Sister Ann said Sister Pauline and Sister Pascaline were quickly relocated to Kaya, Burkina Faso, about 70 miles from Yalgo.

She also said the Marianites contacted both the U.S. Embassy in Burkina Faso and the U.S. State Department and received assurance that this was “a high priority case for them.

The congregation also contacted the apostolic nuncios to the U.S., Burkina Faso and France as well as the Vatican’s secretary of state and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the U.S.

Yalgo is in northern Burkina Faso, not far from the border with Mali. Reliefweb, a humanitarian information source on global situations, reported in April that in the past two years, Burkina Faso’s northern and eastern regions had seen a “sharp deterioration in the security situation … due to the presence of nonstate armed groups.”

Sister Ann, who has visited the Marianites in the country, said Sister Suellen was serving as a pastoral minister, “to wipe tears, give hugs, import a smile. She really did support the people that work in the clinic that the parish runs,” adding that people walked for miles to get help from the clinic.

Bishop Theophile Nare of the Kaya Diocese, said Sister Suellen was abducted overnight between April 4 and 5 and taken to an unknown destination by Unidentified Armed Men (UAM).

The bishop said the kidnappers vandalized the convent where Sister Suellen lived in community with other religious women before taking her to the unknown destination.

According to media reports, Burkina Faso, one of the 10 countries in the Sahel region of Africa, has been facing rampant violence occasioned by political crises, which gives a fertile ground for the proliferation of extremist groups.

The city of Yalgo borders the province of Soum, where armed groups are particularly active. In this area, attacks against civilians have increased according to reports.

Ruby Faucheux Keefe, a childhood friend of Sister Suellen’s said she was thrilled to hear Sister Suellen was safe in U.S. custody. “I’ve been thinking about her every day. This has made my day. We grew up together.”

Keefe remembered how the two loved to dance and talk on the phone or in person. The last time Sister Suellen was in town, Keefe recalled how much her friend expressed her love for being in Africa, even though it was very primitive.

“She told me she didn’t have hot water,” Keefe said. “I thought I don’t know how she did it at our age, but she loved it.”

“I just feel so great to hear that she’s been found,” she added.

Pope Francis delivers his blessing at the conclusion of a Mass with new cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Aug. 30, 2022. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Jesus’ call to spread the Gospel should fill all Christians, especially those within the church hierarchy, with a sense of wonder and gratitude, Pope Francis said.

Celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica Aug. 30 with the College of Cardinals, the pope said this sense of wonder “sets us free from the temptation of thinking that we can ‘manage things.'”

“Today the church is big, it is solid, and we occupy eminent positions in its hierarchy. They call us ’eminence,'” he told the cardinals and the estimated 4,500 people present. “There is some truth in this, but there is also much deception, whereby the father of lies seeks to make Christ’s followers first worldly, then innocuous.”

“This calling is under the temptation of worldliness and, step-by-step, it takes away your strength, it takes away your hope, it takes you away from seeing the gaze of Jesus, who calls us by name and sends us. This is the cancer, the woodworm of spiritual worldliness,” the pope added, departing from his prepared remarks.

The votive Mass, offered “for the church,” was celebrated after the pope met with cardinals from around the world Aug. 29-30 to reflect on the apostolic constitution “Praedicate evangelium” (Preach the Gospel) on the reform of the Roman Curia.

“The work in language groups and exchanges in the hall provided an opportunity for free discussion on many aspects related to the document and the life of the church,” the Vatican said in a statement published Aug. 30.

The final session of the pope’s meeting with the cardinals, the statement said, was dedicated to the Jubilee Year in 2025.

In his homily at the Mass, the pope reflected on the first reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, in which the apostle praises God for revealing “the mystery of his purpose” and his “hidden plan” for humanity.

St. Paul’s hymn of praise, the pope said, is “born of wonder, a praise that will never become force of habit, as long as it remains rooted in wonder and nourished by that fundamental attitude of the heart and spirit.”

Recalling the Gospel reading from St. Matthew, in which Jesus sends his followers “to make disciples of all the nations,” Pope Francis said Christians cannot only marvel “at the plan of salvation itself, but at the even more amazing fact that God calls us to share in this plan.”

Christ’s promise that “I will be with you always to the end of time,” he said, “still has the power, even after 2,000 years, to thrill our hearts.”

“We continue to marvel at the unfathomable divine decision to evangelize the whole world, starting with that ragtag group of disciples, some of whom — as the evangelist tells us — still doubted,” the pope said.

Nevertheless, he continued, the mystery “of our being blessed in Christ and of going forth with Christ into the world” should awaken in Christians the “wonder of being in the church.”

Addressing the 20 new cardinals, elevated in a consistory Aug. 27, the pope said the wonder of being chosen to spread the Gospel “does not diminish with the passing of the years,” nor does it “weaken with our increasing responsibilities in the church.”

“No, thanks be to God; it grows stronger and deeper. I am certain that this is also the case with you, dear brothers, who have now become members of the College of Cardinals,” he said.

Citing St. Paul’s VI’s encyclical letter on the church, “Ecclesiam Suam,” Pope Francis expressed gratitude to his predecessor, “who passed on to us this love for the church” and gratefulness for the “gift of our being not only members of the church, but involved in her life, sharing in and, indeed, jointly responsible for her.”

Christians who are ministers of the church, Pope Francis said, are those who love the church and are ready to be at “the service of her mission wherever and however the Holy Spirit may choose.”

“This was the case with the apostle St. Paul, as we see from his letters. His apostolic zeal and the concern for the community was always accompanied, and indeed preceded, by words of blessing filled with wonder and gratitude,” the pope said.

“May it also be the case with us. May it be the case with each of you, dear brother cardinals,” he said.

Pope Francis delivers his blessing at the conclusion of a consistory for the creation of 20 new cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Aug. 27, 2022. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – In a ceremony to create 20 new cardinals, Pope Francis encouraged the College of Cardinals to have the same spiritual zeal for all people, whether they are in positions of power or ordinary Christians.

“A cardinal loves the church, always with that same spiritual fire, whether dealing with great questions or handling everyday problems, with the powerful of this world or those ordinary people who are great in God’s eyes,” the pope said Aug. 20 during the consistory, a prayer service during which he personally welcomed 20 churchmen into the College of Cardinals.

Those who have this apostolic zeal are compelled “by the fire of the Spirit to be concerned, courageously, with things great and small,” he said.

During the ceremony, each of the new cardinals, including Cardinal Robert W. McElroy of San Diego, California, professed their faith by reciting the Creed and formally swore fidelity and obedience to the pope and his successors.

They then approached Pope Francis, one by one, to receive their biretta, their cardinal’s ring and the assignment of a “titular” church in Rome, which makes them part of the Roman clergy.

In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on Jesus’ words to his disciples, in which he declared, “I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled.”

Focusing on the image of fire, Pope Francis said that the “flame of the spirit of God” represents his love “that purifies, regenerates and transfigures all things.” It also evokes the charcoal fire made by the risen Christ for his disciples along the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

“That charcoal fire is quiet and gentle, yet it lasts longer and is used for cooking. There on the shore of the sea, it creates a familiar setting where the disciples, amazed and moved, savor their closeness to their Lord,” he said.

Jesus’ words, he continued, are also emblematic of the “fiery mission” entrusted to the newly created cardinals.

For those “who in the church have been chosen from among the people for a ministry of particular service, it is as if Jesus is handing us a lighted torch and telling us: ‘Take this; as the Father has sent me, so I now send you,'” the pope said.

The fire of God’s divine love is what also inspires countless missionaries who “have come to know the exhausting yet sweet joy of evangelizing, and whose lives themselves became a gospel, for they were before all else witnesses.”

Recalling the life of St. Charles de Foucauld, the pope praised those Christians, both consecrated and lay, who live in secular environments, yet still are true Christian witnesses who keep the flame of God’s love alive through their lives and actions.

The pope also recalled the example of Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, a full-time Vatican diplomat for decades who served as Vatican secretary of state from 1979 to 1990.

Despite his responsibilities, the pope said the late cardinal would find time to visit young inmates at a juvenile prison in Rome.

Concluding his homily, Pope Francis called on Christians to contemplate on “the secret of the fire of God, which descends from heaven, brightening the sky from one end to the other, and slowly cooking the food of poor families, migrant and homeless persons.”

“Today too, Jesus wants to bring this fire to the earth. He wants to light it anew on the shores of our daily lives. Jesus calls us by name; he looks us in the eye and he asks: ‘Can I count on you?'” the pope said.

The consistory brought to 226 the total number of cardinals in the world; 132 cardinals are under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave.

The 20 prelates who received their red hats from the pope were Cardinals:

— Arthur Roche, 72, prefect of the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

— Lazarus You Heung-sik, 70, prefect of the Dicastery for Clergy.

— Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, 77, president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and president of the Governor’s Office for Vatican City State.

— Jean-Marc Aveline of Marseille, France, 63.

— Peter Ebere Okpaleke of Ekwulobia, Nigeria, 59.

— Leonardo Ulrich Steiner of Manaus, Brazil, 71.

— Filipe Neri António Sebastião do Rosário Ferrão of Goa, India, 69.

— Robert W. McElroy of San Diego, 68.

— Virgílio do Carmo da Silva of Dili, East Timor, 54.

— Oscar Cantoni of Como, Italy, 71.

— Anthony Poola of Hyderabad, India, 60.

— Paulo Cezar Costa of Brasília, Brazil, 54.

— Richard Kuuia Baawobr of Wa, Ghana, 62.

— William Goh Seng Chye of Singapore, 64.

— Adalberto Martínez Flores of Asunción, Paraguay, 70.

— Giorgio Marengo, apostolic prefect of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 48.

— Jorge Jiménez Carvajal of Cartagena, Colombia, 80.

— Archbishop Arrigo Miglio of Cagliari, Italy, 80.

— Gianfranco Ghirlanda, professor of canon law, 80.

— Fortunato Frezza, canon of St. Peter’s Basilica, 80.


Left to right: Grand Knight Tony Dalasio, Financial secretary Duane Valance, Bill Asinari and Deputy Grand Knight Steve Guza

The Knights of Columbus Abington Council 6611 recently presented Seminarian Bill Asinari with a $500 check to further his vocational studies toward the priesthood.


Please ask your PA senator and representative to contact the PA Department of Education to encourage them to process textbook orders for our Catholic schools in a timely fashion.

For whatever reason, this is not happening and does not seem to be a priority with PDE officials. Classes have already started for many of our schools and are very close to beginning for the rest.

Thank you so much!

Click the link below to log in and send your message:

Wind turbines are seen in Ocotillo, Calif., May 29, 2020. (CNS photo/Bing Guan, Reuters)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (CNS) – Sister Kathleen Storms hopes a calendar of prayers and suggestions for action during the upcoming worldwide Season of Creation will help people “understand that simple options can make an important difference in our care for creation.”

Meatless Mondays and shopping at farmer’s markets are among actions proposed by the Care for Creation Team of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to observe the season.

Sister Kathleen, a School Sister of Notre Dame, is a member of the team who wrote the calendar.

She said she studied resources on Catholic social teaching and ecology provided through the Catholic Climate Covenant, which was formed in 2006 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops with partners including Catholic Relief Services, Catholic Charities USA and St. Paul-based Catholic Rural Life. She worked on the calendar for about three weeks.

“My best creative time is in the morning,” said Sister Kathleen, whose ministry since the 1990s has centered on environmental education. “It was a very prayerful experience,” she told The Catholic Spirit, the archdiocesan newspaper.

The internationally recognized Season of Creation was proclaimed in 1989 for Eastern Orthodox Christians by the late Ecumenical Patriarch Dimitrios I of Constantinople.

In 2015, Pope Francis encouraged Catholics to welcome the season, the same year the pope wrote his encyclical on faith and the environment, “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.”

In his encyclical, Pope Francis calls on people to address pollution, waste and misuse of natural resources. He promotes “integral ecology,” that is, a realization that all things in the natural world are connected, and everyone has a responsibility to promote a healthful planet.

The season starts Sept. 1 with the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation and closes with the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Oct. 4.

The archdiocesan calendar takes this year’s Season of Creation theme, “Listen to the Voice of Creation,” and logo, the burning bush of Exodus 3:1-12, and includes suggestions for each day, such as pastors introducing the season to parishioners at Sunday Masses Sept. 4.

Suggestions for Sept. 6 are using cloth bags instead of single-use plastic and declining to use a straw when drinking a beverage. Sept. 29 recognizes the feast of the Archangels Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, while urging people to join an environmental group to help protect the earth.

Copies of the calendar can be requested at Calendars also are available through parishes in the archdiocese and a public resources tab at, according to Care for Creation Team leaders.

The calendar is one of several efforts by the Archdiocesan Care for Creation Team — which consists of about 15 volunteer leaders and a network of parish-based Care for Creation teams — to bring “Laudato Si'” to life, said Adam Fitzpatrick, leader of the effort and social mission outreach coordinator for the Center for Mission in the archdiocese.

Leaders of the archdiocesan team held their first meeting in February 2020, before COVID-19 and pandemic restrictions hit. They did not meet in person again until October 2021, when they held a leadership team retreat. That experience led to developing retreats now being offered for parishes.

The Archdiocesan Care for Creation Team also recently worked with the University of St. Thomas’ Sustainable Communities Partnership through the school’s Office of Sustainable Initiatives to produce an online survey last spring that resulted in 82 usable responses from students averaging age 20. The survey gauged their knowledge and concern about climate change.

The archdiocesan team also collaborated with a theology and the environment class at the university last spring that reviewed reports and data indicating climate vulnerabilities in the Twin Cities.

It found that the region’s population faces health risks from significant changes in temperature and precipitation, including unsafe, hot temperatures and exposure to new diseases.

Minnesota is among states across the country experiencing the most significant temperature changes, the study found, with the state an average of 3 degrees warmer than 124 years ago.

Weather fluctuations also have increased, with 10 of Minnesota’s warmest years and 10 of the state’s wettest years all occurring since 1998, the study said.

In the past 20 years, only 59% of Minnesota’s winters have reached 40 below zero, while that temperature was reached in 88% of the winters between 1944 and 1994, the students found. Minnesota’s growing season has increased by two weeks since 1950, increasing crop pest problems and allergen production such as pollen.

Students concluded their nine-page report on climate vulnerabilities by stating: “Helping to restore sustainable environmental stewardship is essential to protect God’s creation and most vulnerable populations.”

Among other findings, students’ feelings of sadness, anxiety, anger and helplessness over climate change rose more frequently than positive feelings of hope, optimism and empowerment, the University of St. Thomas’ survey said.

More than 77% of the students surveyed said they expect climate change to affect their daily lives in the future, while about 51% said climate change already affects their lives.

Depending on the question, 40% or fewer of the respondents said climate change influences their current decisions about politics, energy use, community engagement, course of study, spirituality and relationships. Percentages in those areas increased when asked about future decisions.

Those responses appear to indicate students believe there is still plenty of time to address climate change, Fitzpatrick said. However, he emphasized that the time to do so is now.

“The importance of responding early and being proactive is vital, especially if looking at long-term problems that will grow if current trends stay where they are,” Fitzpatrick said.

For those concerned about climate change and climate vulnerabilities, one survey result held particular promise, Fitzpatrick said.

Survey respondents who considered themselves spiritual said climate change had a significantly greater influence on their current and anticipated decisions compared to those who did not consider themselves spiritual, he said.

Among other ways being considered by the Archdiocesan Care for Creation Team to respond and spread the word about the students’ environmental study and survey, Fitzpatrick said, is continuing to emphasize that “nature has always been a key part of the exercise of Catholic spirituality.”

People in Kyiv, Ukraine, visit an exhibition of destroyed Russian military vehicles and weapons Aug. 21, 2022, as Russia’s attack on the Ukraine continues. (CNS photo/Valentyn Ogirenko, Reuters)

WASHINGTON (CNS) – As Ukraine approached the 31st anniversary of its independence Aug. 24, it did so while embroiled in a bitter fight for that freedom, as it hit the six-month mark of defending itself against a Russian invasion.

Archbishop Borys Gudziak, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in the U.S., used the occasion to thank U.S. Catholics and other people of goodwill for material and spiritual shows of solidarity as the nation fights to remain free from Russian control.

“I want to thank all of you for your solidarity: all Americans, all American Catholics, all people of goodwill. It is with your help that Ukraine is making this biblical stance (of) David against Goliath,” he said in a recorded video message posted on YouTube Aug. 23.

“And Ukrainians are saying to you and to me and to everybody in the world, ‘We will not be a colony,'” he said. “(Just as) Algeria will not be a colony of France, like Peru and Uruguay will not be a colony of Spain, like the United States will not be a colony of Great Britain, so Ukraine will never again be a colony of Russia.”

“This is what independence means today for Ukraine,” added Archbishop Gudziak, who heads the Ukrainian Catholic Archeparchy of Philadelphia.

And while Ukrainians remain defiant, some Catholic organizations sounded the alarm about the difficulties on the ground that have only increased since the Feb. 24 invasion by Russian forces.

“The current state of stress is not sustainable — not for Ukraine, not for its neighboring countries, not for the larger global community,” said Sean Callahan, president and CEO of Catholic Relief Services in an Aug. 22 statement.

“I had a chance to visit Lviv this summer and saw the steps people have taken to protect their homes and communities — lining their parks with sandbags, digging pits in case they have to defend their streets from invasion,” he said. “It’s devastating to know they’ve had to live in this constant stress.”

Catholic aid organizations such as CRS, the U.S. bishops’ overseas relief and development agency, as well as Cross Catholic Outreach have distributed aid from donations by U.S. Catholics, not just in Ukraine, but in neighboring Poland, Moldova, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro — nations that have taken in Ukrainian refugees.

Some of that help has included financial, spiritual and other material assistance to families, as well as securing ambulances, generators, clothing and food for those affected inside and outside of Ukraine. Some also have been able to receive therapy through the organizations to deal with the trauma.

CRS, in its statement, said that “the war has created an extraordinary refugee and displacement crisis.”

More than 11 million have crossed the Ukrainian border since the invasion began but as some of the fighting has decreased in other parts, nearly 5 million people have returned to remake their lives, even as the future is not certain, CRS said.

“The race is on to make those repairs now,” said Conor O’Loughlin, CRS country representative in Moldova and Ukraine, according to the organization’s statement. “The cost of living has skyrocketed in Ukraine putting enormous economic pressure on families. It’s imperative that we do as much as we can now to make sure people are ready for winter.”

The end of the conflict doesn’t seem to be on the horizon anytime soon.

Archbishop Gudziak asked that, along with their prayers and help, people try to have a “correct understanding of what is happening” in Ukraine, saying it is a “struggle for the God-given right to be free, to live in dignity, to celebrate.”

He said he would remember those who have been hurt and those who have died “defending freely, voluntarily, their independence,” and urged that hearts, hands and homes be open to those who have fled the violence.

The story of Ukraine’s fight for independence, he said, is “the story of the whole world.”

On Ukraine’s Independence Day, the Biden administration announced the U.S. would be sending $3 billion to Ukraine for arms and equipment as part of a $40 billion aid package that lawmakers approved earlier this year.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in a recorded address to mark the country’s celebration, said that “every new day is a new reason not to give up.”

“Having gone through so much, we have no right not to reach the end,” he added. “What is the end of the war for us? We used to say, ‘Peace.’ Now we say, ‘Victory.'”

He recently faced criticism for not acknowledging that he knew Western intelligence warning of a Russian invasion was real just before the conflict began Feb. 24.

“If we had communicated that,” the nation’s economy “would have been losing $7 billion a month since last October, and at the moment when the Russians did attack, they would have taken us in three days,” Zelenskyy told The Washington Post in mid-August.

And though some Ukrainians said lives could have been saved if Zelenskyy had shared the information, they also said this was not the time to deal with that controversy.

The country feared potential attacks on Independence Day, because Russia President Vladimir Putin has blamed Ukrainians for setting off a car bomb in Moscow that killed the daughter of a close associate.

Pope Francis continued to call for dialogue and said he was praying for peace to prevail amid the “insanity” of war.

“I think of the children, the many dead, and the many refugees of the war in Ukraine. There are so many wounded and many Ukrainian children and Russian children who have become orphans,” Pope Francis said in his general audience Aug. 24.

CRS’ Callahan expressed worries about the ramifications beyond Ukraine and its neighboring countries.

“We’re very concerned about the long-term implications of this war,” Callahan said. “It’s already done immeasurable damage not only to the Ukrainian people, but also to so many countries that rely on Ukrainian exports. Our fear is that it will be years before those affected can recover from this.”

The United Nations has said the conflict in particular will affect the poor in Africa, a continent whose nations rely on wheat and sunflower imports from Ukraine and Russia.

Millions of lives at stake as African nations deal with the economic repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic, drought and now a scarcity of staples produced by the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

“While Africa is yet to fully recover from the socioeconomic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine conflict poses another major threat to the global economy with many African countries being directly affected,” the U.N. said in an early May statement.

Pope Francis accepts a gift during an audience with members of the International Catholic Legislators Network at the Vatican Aug. 25, 2022. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The world needs lawmakers who are capable, inspired by love and dedicated to serving the most vulnerable, Pope Francis told Catholic and Christian legislators.

“I encourage your ongoing efforts, on the national and international levels, to work for the adoption of policies and laws that seek to address, in a spirit of solidarity, the many situations of inequality and injustice threatening the social fabric and the inherent dignity of all people,” the pope said during an audience at the Vatican Aug. 25.

“If we are to heal our world, so sorely tried by rivalries and forms of violence that result from a desire to dominate rather than to serve, we need not only responsible citizens but also capable leaders, inspired by a fraternal love directed especially toward those in the most precarious conditions of life,” he said.

Pope Francis was speaking to members and representatives of the International Catholic Legislators Network, who were in Rome for an annual conference. The network is an independent, nonpartisan initiative founded in 2010 “to bring together practicing Catholics and other Christians in elected office on a regular basis for faith formation, education and fellowship,” according to its website. It has headquarters in Vienna and an office in Washington, D.C.

Those in attendance included Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna and Syriac Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II, both honorary patrons of the network.

The pope told those in attendance that so many people today “cry out for justice, particularly the most vulnerable who often have no voice and who look to civic and political leaders to protect, through effective public policy and legislation, their dignity as children of God and the inviolability of their fundamental human rights.”

Among those who are most vulnerable, he said, are “the poor, migrants and refugees, victims of human trafficking, the sick and elderly and so many other individuals who risk being exploited or discarded by today’s ‘throwaway’ culture.”

The challenge facing lawmakers is “working to safeguard and enhance within the public sphere those right relationships that allow each person to be treated with the respect, and indeed the love, that is due to him or her,” he said. Jesus offers the best reminder, “Do to others as you would have them do to you,” he added.

But, for there to be a just society, “the bond of fraternity” is needed, that is, the “sense of shared responsibility and concern for the integral development and well-being of each member of our human family,” the pope said.

Finally, the pope said, “the path to lasting peace calls for cooperation,” especially among leaders, with a clear objective of “pursuing goals that benefit everyone.”

“Peace results from an enduring commitment to mutual dialogue, a patient search for the truth and the willingness to place the authentic good of the community before personal advantage,” he said.

This means their work as lawmakers and political leaders “is more important than ever. For true peace can be achieved only when we strive, through far-sighted political processes and legislation, to build a social order founded upon universal fraternity and justice for all.”

Pope Francis greets a boy who ran onstage during his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican Aug. 17, 2022. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis dedicated his general audience talk to the urgent need for young and old to come together so older people can share their faith and wisdom about the world.

“Let’s think about dialogue, about the alliance between old and young,” he said, as well as make sure this bond is not broken. “May the elderly have the joy of speaking, of expressing themselves with young people and may young people seek out the elderly to receive the wisdom of life from them.”

It was an appeal one small boy in the Vatican’s Paul VI audience hall seemed to take to heart, walking past the guards and straight up to the pope to stand transfixed by his side during the final greetings at the audience’s end.

The pope affectionately rubbed the boy’s close-cropped hair and reassured him he was welcome to stay.

“During the audience we talked about dialogue between old and young, right? And this one, he has been brave and he’s at ease,” the pope said about his small guest to applause.

The pope continued his series of talks on old age and reflected on how reaching a ripe old age is a reassurance of eternal life in heaven.

In fact, “the image of a God, who is watching over everything with snow-white hair, is not a silly symbol, it is a biblical image, it is a noble image, even a tender image,” the pope said. To depict God the Father as venerable in age and authority “expresses God’s transcendence, his eternity and his constant care for this world and its history,” the pope’s talk said.

The vocation for every older man and woman, the pope said, is to bear witness to the faith and to the wisdom acquired over the years.

“The witness of the elderly is credible to children. Young people and adults are not capable of bearing witness in such an authentic, tender, poignant way, as elderly people can,” the pope said.

He said it is also very compelling when the elderly bless life as it comes their way and show no resentment or bitterness as time marches on and death nears.

“The witness of the elderly unites the generations of life, the same with the dimensions of time: past, present and future, for they are not only the memory, they are the present as well as the promise,” the pope said.

“It is painful and harmful to see that the ages of life are conceived of as separate worlds, in competition among themselves, each one seeking to live at the expense of the other. This is not right,” he said.

An alliance between the elderly and young people “will save the human family,” he said. “There is a future where children, where young people speak with the elderly. If this dialogue does not take place between the elderly and the young, the future cannot be clearly seen.”

Humanity, even with all its progress, still seems “to be an adolescent born yesterday,” which needs “to retrieve the grace of an old age that holds firmly to the horizon of our destination.”

Death is a very difficult passage in life, the pope said, but it “concludes the time of uncertainty and throws away the clock,” ushering in “the beautiful part of life, which has no more deadlines.”

During the last part of the general audience, when the pope offers special greetings to those attending from different parts of the world, the pope reaffirmed his prayers for Ukraine, asking that people not forget “this martyred people.”

There was also a brief interruption during the greetings when a Swiss guard, who was standing behind one of the language speakers, fell face forward, dropping his halberd. Two men from security assisted him in standing back up and another Swiss guard took his place.

SUNYANI, GHANA – While more than 5,000 miles may separate the Dioceses of Scranton and Sunyani geographically, the two communities continue to grow closer in learning about one another and sharing their culture and faith.

The Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, along with Father Gerald W. Shantillo, Vicar General, and Father Brian J.T. Clarke, Diocesan Director of Pontifical Mission Societies, just completed a week-long pastoral visit to Sunyani. The trio departed the United States on Aug. 10, 2022 and will be returning Friday, Aug. 19.

“It has been an incredible experience,” Bishop Bambera said in regards to the visit. “We were made to feel so welcome.”

Throughout the pastoral visit, Bishop Bambera has been documenting his experiences and sharing regular updates on the Diocese of Scranton’s social media platforms. An archive of photos and videos that the bishop has posted is also available on the Diocese of Scranton website.

“Pope Francis often says the church is most alive in Africa. That has been our experience and we in Scranton are so blessed to have experienced this and to have the good blessing of eight priests from the Diocese of Sunyani to serve in our parishes,” Bishop Bambera said during one of the videos he shared.


Bishop Bambera’s pastoral visit to Sunyani was planned to coincide with the Diocese of Sunyani’s annual four-day celebration of the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The event brings roughly 15,000 people to Mary Queen of Peace Grotto each year.

Every parish in the Diocese of Sunyani sends parishioners to participate in the pilgrimage. The faithful participate in Morning Devotions, listen to testimonies and talks, celebrate Mass, recite the Rosary and enjoy each other’s company.

Bishop Bambera presided at the Closing Mass of the four-day celebration on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022.

“I was touched by the enthusiasm of the faithful, by their desire to express their faith, by the richness of their involvement in the liturgy and by their generous spirit and the beautiful procession of gifts when they brought food for the poor,” Bishop Bambera said.

The Diocese of Sunyani is home to more than 200,000 baptized Catholics. In 2023, the Diocese will celebrate its 50th anniversary.

The Most Rev. Matthew Kwasi Gyamfi, who is currently serving as Bishop of Sunyani, is only the second bishop in the history of the Diocese. He was appointed bishop in 2003 after the death of Bishop James Kwadwo Owusu.

Bishop Matthew called the pastoral visit for Scranton’s delegation “extraordinary.”

“People are so excited to have them,” Bishop Matthew said. “We thank the people of the Diocese of Scranton for permitting the bishop to come and join us. We are extremely grateful!”


One of the many reasons why Bishop Bambera, Father Shantillo and Father Clarke wanted to travel to Sunyani is to express gratitude for the incredible generosity that Sunyani has provided Scranton in terms of its priestly resources.

Over the last four years, ten priests from the Diocese of Sunyani have travelled abroad to serve in the Diocese of Scranton. There are currently eight serving here right now.

“It really means a great deal for me, on behalf of the clergy and the faithful of our Diocese, to go the Diocese of Sunyani and share with their bishop and with all of their people, our deep gratitude for their presence here,” Bishop Bambera explained. “It is a sacrifice to travel halfway around the world and to live in a land that you don’t necessarily understand and know as well as your own home.”

While in Ghana, the Diocese of Scranton delegation was especially grateful to have dinner with the parents of the priests who are working the Diocese of Scranton.

Throughout the course of the week-long visit, Bishop Matthew highlighted to his own people the good work that the Pontifical Mission Societies do. In reality, Bishop Matthew helped showcase the fact that as the People of God we all serve one another.

“Our churches and our faith is much, much bigger than simply our corner of the world that we know as the Diocese of Scranton,” Bishop Bambera added. “We join with brothers and sisters around the world, hands across the Atlantic Ocean now, to the Diocese of Sunyani.”


The Diocese of Sunyani is roughly 7,500 square miles. By size, that means it is a little smaller than the size of Scranton, which is roughly 8,800 square miles.

Throughout their week overseas, Bishop Bambera, Father Shantillo and Father Clarke had the opportunity to tour schools, a seminary, clinics and other various institutions.

On Monday, Aug. 15, the trio celebrated Mass at Saint James Seminary, a high school seminary, which has 900 students. Roughly 200 of those students are in the seminary formation program.

“It was a great opportunity to listen to their incredible voices singing and praising God,” Bishop Bambera noted.

The group also toured a sewing factory that makes religious vestments and school uniforms that is sponsored by the Diocese of Sunyani.

“What is so amazing about that is it started with a donation of three industrial sewing machines that were given to one of the priests of Sunyani several years ago and it has grown into an incredible industry,” Bishop Bambera explained. “It trains women to learn the craft of sewing that enables them to find jobs in that factory and elsewhere to start their businesses.”

While there was so much joy and inspiration on the pastoral visit, the Diocesan delegation also took time to mark a dark period in the history of Ghana.

On the second day of their visit, as they were traveling from Ghana’s capital city of Accra to Sunyani, the group stopped at Cape Coast Castle. The castle is one of dozens of “slave castles” built on the Gold Coast of Africa by European traders. Originally established for the gold/mineral trade, they eventually because used to hold slaves before they were put on ships and sold in the Americas.

“It was a reminder to us of the need for us to work against injustice in any way that we can, to bring an end, finally once and for all, to racism and discrimination,” Bishop Bambera said following his visit.

The final Mass that Bishop Bambera celebrated in Ghana was with young people of Sunyani on Wednesday, Aug. 17. He encouraged the young people to continue bringing Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness to the world in which they live.

“Stand up against intolerance and hatred, show the world by your example that we are all brothers and sisters,” he said. “Break down barriers of selfishness, protect this wonderful creation that we’ve been given, respect it, treasure it, and serve the poorest in our midst!”