All people of goodwill gathered at the Cathedral of Saint Peter, located at 315 Wyoming Avenue in Scranton, for a special Prayer Service for an End to the War in Ukraine on Sunday, Sept. 25, at 2:30 p.m.
During the Prayer Service, everyone in attendance was invited to offer prayers for peace in Ukraine and for the innocent people who continue to suffer in the country.
Fr. Myron Myronyuk, Pastor, St. Vladimir Ukrainian Catholic Church of Scranton, and Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, led the Prayer Service..
A goodwill offering for those on the ground helping the Ukrainian people was collected at the conclusion of the Prayer Service.
On Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022, the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, issued the following statement on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II:
“Today, I join with millions of people around the world to mourn Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and celebrate her remarkable life and legacy.
“During her 70-year-reign, Queen Elizabeth, as head of the Church of England, provided great witness to her strong Christian faith, served as a vocal proponent of interfaith harmony and provided an example of how to be of service to others.
“I ask you to join me in praying for the repose of the soul of Queen Elizabeth and for His Majesty King Charles III, the entire Royal Family and all those whose lives have been impacted by her loss.
“Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her.
“May she rest in eternal peace.”
MANCHESTER, England (CNS) – Catholics in the U.K. paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II following her death Sept. 8 and the end of a reign that lasted more than 70 years.
Pope Francis sent a telegram addressed “To His Majesty the King, Charles III,” her son who immediately ascended to the throne.
“I willingly join all who mourn her loss in praying for the late queen’s eternal rest and in paying tribute to her life of unstinting service to the good of the nation and the Commonwealth, her example of devotion to duty, her steadfast witness of faith in Jesus Christ and her firm hope in his promises,” Pope Francis said.
The British sovereign died “peacefully” at Balmoral, the royal residence in Scotland, surrounded by members of her family. She was 96.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, paid tribute using many of the queen’s own words.
“On 21 April 1947, on her 21st birthday, Princess Elizabeth said, ‘I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service,'” Cardinal Nichols said. “Now, 75 years later, we are heartbroken in our loss at her death and so full of admiration for the unfailing way in which she fulfilled that declaration.”
“Even in my sorrow, shared with so many around the world, I am filled with an immense sense of gratitude for the gift to the world that has been the life of Queen Elizabeth II,” he said. “At this time, we pray for the repose of the soul of Her Majesty. We do so with confidence, because the Christian faith marked every day of her life and activity.”
The cardinal quoted Queen Elizabeth’s Christmas message from 2000, in which she said the teachings of Christ and her own “personal accountability before God” gave her a framework of how to live, and that Christ’s words and example offered her “great comfort in difficult times.”
Cardinal Nichols said: “This faith, so often and so eloquently proclaimed in her public messages, has been an inspiration to me, and I am sure to many. The wisdom, stability and service which she consistently embodied, often in circumstances of extreme difficulty, are a shining legacy and testament to her faith.”
He also offered prayers “for His Majesty the King, as he assumes his new office, even as he mourns his mother. God save the king.”
Bishop Hugh Gilbert, president of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, praised Queen Elizabeth for her life of “outstanding and dedicated public service.”
“Her determination to remain active to the end of her long life has been an example of Christian leadership, which demonstrated her great stoicism and commitment to duty and was undoubtedly a source of stability and continuity in times of great change,” he said. “Scotland’s Catholic bishops will remember her in our prayers and pray for all those who mourn her loss.”
Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury said: “As we grieve together, we know that, in losing our beloved queen, we have lost the person whose steadfast loyalty, service and humility has helped us make sense of who we are through decades of extraordinary change in our world, nation and society.”
Queen Elizabeth died 17 months after the death of her husband, Philip, who died in April 2021 at age 99. Her 73-year marriage to Philip was the longest of any British sovereign.
The U.K. has entered a 10-day period of mourning.
Elizabeth was born on April 26, 1926, to Prince Albert, Duke of York, and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon.
She acceded to the throne Feb. 6, 1952, and during her coronation in Westminster Abbey June 2, 1953, Queen Elizabeth was open about her Christian faith.
“When I spoke to you last, at Christmas, I asked you all, whatever your religion, to pray for me on the day of my coronation — to pray that God would give me wisdom and strength to carry out the promises that I should then be making,” the queen said in her address. “Throughout this memorable day, I have been uplifted and sustained by the knowledge that your thoughts and prayers were with me.”
The accession of 1952 made 2022 the year when the world’s oldest monarch and the longest-serving monarch in British history celebrated the platinum jubilee of her reign — the point when Elizabeth had sat on the British throne for 70 years.
The queen was able to witness the celebrations in her honor but handed over all of her public duties to her nearest relatives. Her final act of office was to receive Prime Minister Liz Truss in Scotland Sept. 6, when she was also last photographed.
Fourteen prime ministers served during her reign, beginning with Sir Winston Churchill. Truss was the 15th to greet her in that office.
During her reign, Queen Elizabeth met with four popes — Francis, Benedict, John Paul II and John XXIII, and as princess she met Pope Pius XII.
The queen sometimes joked about her longevity, once quoting Groucho Marx, saying: “Anyone can get old. All you have to do is live long enough.”
She served as a constitutional monarch — the British head of state and Commonwealth — the supreme governor of the Church of England and head of the British armed forces.
In her private life, she was a mother four children, a grandmother of eight, and a great-grandmother of 11 children.
Following her death, King Charles said in a statement: “The death of my beloved mother, Her Majesty the Queen, is a moment of the greatest sadness for me and all members of my family.
“We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and a much-loved mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the Realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.”
On Thursday, September 8, 2022, nearly a thousand students, faculty and staff from the University of Scranton gathered at the Byron Recreation Complex for the school’s annual Mass of the Holy Spirit.
The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L., Bishop of Scranton served as the principal celebrant and Rev. James F. Duffy, S.J., M.D., the new superior for the Scranton Jesuit Community delivered the homily.
The Mass of the Holy Spirit is a tradition among Jesuit academic institutions dating back to the 16th century, in which the community gathers to thank God for the gifts of creation and salvation and to seek the guidance and wisdom of the Holy Spirit in the coming school year.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Europe and the entire world are being shaken by a war of great seriousness, Pope Francis told his papal nuncios who serve around the globe.
It is “a particularly serious war, due to the violation of international law, the risks of nuclear escalation and the drastic economic and social consequences,” he said.
“It is a Third World War ‘fought piecemeal’ that you are witnessing in the places where you carry out your mission,” he added.
The pope’s remarks came during his brief greeting to his representatives before opening the floor to their “questions and suggestions” during a private meeting in the Apostolic Palace Sept. 8.
The group included 91 apostolic nuncios and six permanent observers; five papal representatives were unable to attend, according to Vatican News. The group was at the Vatican Sept. 7-10 as part of an organized gathering of all papal representatives, scheduled every three years.
Pope Francis expressed his gratitude that, after all the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, “now it seems the worst may be behind us, and thank God we were able to meet.”
“But, unfortunately, Europe and the whole world are shaken by a particularly serious war,” he added.
He thanked them for everything they have been doing in “these situations of suffering” everywhere they work. “You have brought the closeness of the pope to the people and the church. You have been points of reference during moments of extreme loss and turbulence.”
The pope asked everyone to remember the retired papal representatives who have died over the past three years, and in particular, the two nuncios who died while still actively serving their mission: Syro-Malabar Archbishop Joseph Chennoth, 76, papal nuncio to Japan, who died of a heart attack Sept. 8, 2020; and Italian Archbishop Aldo Giordano, 67, papal nuncio to the European Union, who died Dec. 2, 2021, after contracting COVID-19 during the pope’s visit to Slovakia two months prior.
John Frank, chairperson of the VOICE of JOHN’s 2022 Christmas Card Contest announced that this year’s contest is opening to all students in Grades 7 – 12. The Christmas Card features the beautiful artwork of Jenn Witner. The front of the Christmas Card depicts Our Blessed Mother looking upon the face of her child, Jesus.
Our local parishes and schools will receive a copy of the artwork to inspire the verse within the card. All entries must be received no later than October 11th: the winner will be announced on October 14th. The author of this year’s verse will receive a $100 prize.
Maryann Lawhon, president of PHL and director of the VOICE of JOHN, encourages participation from CCD, homeschool, public and private school students in this year’s event.
John Frank, from Holy Rosary Parish in Hazleton, a member of Pennsylvanians for Human Life, serves the VOICE of JOHN as the spokesperson for Down Syndrome. John is featured in a video podcast on the VOICE of JOHN website and will be a guest on an upcoming radio program, JMJ Catholic Radio’s weekly program The VOICE of JOHN with Maryann Lawhon. He will be joined by his sister Amanda Frank during the month of October, which is designated as Down Syndrome Awareness Month.
Jenn Witner is a local artist who has gifted the pro-life ministry with her immense talent, designing last year’s first ever Christmas Card, and again this year, designing the magnificent portrayal of Mary, holding her child Jesus, as the flow of her veil resembles the child in the rose, the theme of the prolife movement.
All entries are to be submitted by October 11th, mailing your entry to:
The VOICE of JOHN
103 John’s Jog
Drums, PA 18222
DUSHORE – Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, will serve as the principal celebrant for a Mass of Thanksgiving at Saint Basil’s Church, Dushore, at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022.
The Mass will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the first Mass offered in the present church. While the actual anniversary took place in 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a decision was made to delay a public celebration until this year. Father Thomas J. Major, Pastor, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, will concelebrate the Mass. A dinner will be held in Saint Basil’s Hall following the Mass.
Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish has established a committee of volunteers to help prepare for the Sesquicentennial celebration. The committee is handling reservations, decorations and the dinner following Mass.
“As we prepare to gather in prayer to celebrate the Eucharist together, we will be celebrating the entire community of faithful Catholics who have made Saint Basil’s Church their home for 150 years,” Bishop Bambera said. “Over all of that time, the people of Sullivan County have done Christ’s work by celebrating life, teaching people about our faith, feeding families, clothing the poor and converting hearts to the Lord.”
The beginning of Catholic life within the present boundaries of the Diocese of Scranton can trace its roots back to the Dushore-area of Sullivan County. The first two Catholic settlements in northeastern Pennsylvania were near Silver Lake Township, Susquehanna County, and along the Loyalsock Creek in Sullivan County. Both settlements preceded anthracite mining and the logging, lumbering and tanning industries.
The history of Saint Basil’s Church itself dates back to the early 1800s.
In the 1830s, numerous Catholic settlers lived along the Loyalsock Creek but they did not know how to establish a Catholic Church. In 1836, one of the settlers contacted Rt. Rev. Francis Patrick Kenrick, then Bishop of Philadelphia, asking him to visit the people of Dushore.
When the visit took place, Bishop Kenrick advised the people to buy enough land for a cemetery and clear a place for a small chapel. Two years later, the work was complete.
The first Church of Saint Basil’s was a small log chapel, which was dedicated on July 4, 1838. Priests would visit Dushore to celebrate Mass periodically until 1852 when Father James McNaughton was appointed the first resident pastor.
As the congregation continued to grow, the building of a new church was authorized.
The cornerstone of the present church was set by the Most Rev. William O’Hara, Bishop of Scranton, on Oct. 28, 1868. The first Mass was celebrated in the church on the Third Sunday of Lent, March 12, 1871. Bishop O’Hara celebrated a dedication Mass for the church on Sept. 7, 1873.
The church was built of native stone that was quarried about four miles from Dushore and hauled by the parishioners and their neighbors by teams of oxen. The lime was brought 40 miles via horses.
The church was not fully decorated and furnished until 1876 when the frescoes were completed and the pews were installed.
In 1878, the first Fourth of July parish picnic took place and in 1879, the church steeple was erected and the church bell installed.
Many improvements have been made to the physical properties of Saint Basil’s over the years, which include a church renovation in 1960 in which major improvements were also made to the rectory and the cemetery was reorganized. The church also sustained damaged when an EF-1 tornado, with maximum wind speeds of 110 mph, hit Dushore on April 15, 2019.
There have been many vocations to the religious life from Saint Basil’s Church over its history including numerous priests, several brothers and dozens of nuns.
“Our parishioners have so much to be proud of, just as their forefathers had when they attended that first Mass on that third Sunday of Lent in 1871,” Father Major said. “Without so many faithful people there would be no celebration. This anniversary celebration will remind us all that we are joined together by our Baptism into Christ and we continue to be bound together through His presence in the Eucharist.”
All are invited to attend the Mass of Thanksgiving that will be celebrated by Bishop Bambera on Sept. 17, 2022. Anyone who would like to attend the dinner following Mass should contact the parish office at (570) 928-8865 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Humanity can no longer ignore the cries of the earth that is suffering due to greed and the excessive consumption of its resources, Pope Francis said.
In his message for the World Day of Prayer for Creation, the pope said the current climate crisis is a call for men and women, especially Christians, to “repent and modify our lifestyles and destructive systems.”
“The present state of decay of our common home merits the same attention as other global challenges such as grave health crises and wars. Living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience,” he wrote in his message, released by the Vatican July 21.
The theme of the World Day of Prayer for Creation, celebrated Sept. 1, is “Listen to the voice of creation.”
Reflecting on the theme, the pope said that there is “a kind of dissonance” when one listens to the “voice of creation.”
“On the one hand, we can hear a sweet song in praise of our beloved Creator; on the other, an anguished plea, lamenting our mistreatment of this our common home,” he said.
The pope said the earth has fallen “prey to our consumerist excesses” and to a “tyrannical anthropocentrism,” an attitude in which people think they are the center of the universe. Such an attitude is at odds “with Christ’s centrality in the work of creation.”
Exaggerated self-centeredness, he said, has led to the loss of biodiversity and the extinction of countless and has greatly impacted the lives of the poor and vulnerable indigenous populations.
“As a result of predatory economic interests, their ancestral lands are being invaded and devastated on all sides, provoking a cry that rises up to heaven,” he said.
Furthermore, the pope said, younger generations feel “menaced by shortsighted and selfish actions” and are “anxiously asking us adults to do everything possible to prevent, or at least limit, the collapse of our planet’s ecosystems.”
Pope Francis said the Vatican’s July 6 accession to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement was made “in the hope that the humanity of the 21st century will be remembered for having generously shouldered its grave responsibilities.”
While the goal of limiting the increase of the earth’s temperature “is quite demanding,” the pope said it also serves as a “call for responsible cooperation between all nations” to confront the climate crisis by reducing net greenhouse gas emissions to zero.
Presenting the pope’s message at the Vatican press office July 21, Canadian Cardinal Michael Czerny, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said Pope Francis’ message served as a call for bolder action by world leaders attending “this year’s COP27 and COP15 summits on climate change and biodiversity.”
“The planet already is 1.2°C hotter, yet new fossil fuel projects every day accelerate our race toward the precipice,” Cardinal Czerny said. “Enough is enough. All new exploration and production of coal, oil and gas must immediately end, and existing production of fossil fuels must be urgently phased out.”
In his message, the pope highlighted the need to change “models of consumption and production, as well as lifestyles” and transform them into something respectful of creation and integral human development.
“Underlying all this,” the pope wrote, “there is need for a covenant between human beings and the environment, which, for us believers, is a mirror reflecting the creative love of God, from whom we come and toward whom we are journeying.’
“The transition brought about by this conversion cannot neglect the demands of justice, especially for those workers who are most affected by the impact of climate change,” the pope added.
He also expressed his hope that the COP15 summit on biodiversity, which will be in December in Montreal, will adopt new agreements that will “halt the destruction of ecosystems and the extinction of species.”
Emphasizing the principles needed to prevent “the further collapse of biodiversity,” the pope appealed to the mining, oil, forestry, real estate and agribusiness industries to “stop destroying forests, wetlands and mountains, to stop polluting rivers and seas, to stop poisoning food and people.”
“How can we fail to acknowledge the existence of an ‘ecological debt’ incurred by the economically richer countries, who have polluted most in the last two centuries,” Pope Francis said.
“Even the economically less wealthy countries have significant, albeit ‘diversified’ responsibilities in this regard,” he added. “Delay on the part of others can never justify our own failure to act. It is necessary for all of us to act decisively. For we are reaching a breaking point.”
WASHINGTON (CNS) – This year’s annual Labor Day statement from the U.S. bishops touts two bills awaiting action in Congress as being helpful to children, women and families: the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and an expansion of the federal child tax credit.
“Even before current economic uncertainties, women – especially women of African descent and Latina women – earned less than their male counterparts, including when doing the same work with the same qualifications,” said Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, in the statement.
“They filled the majority of direct care jobs, experiencing increased risk of injury, high stress, and exposure to illness while earning low wages. They were the majority of caretakers for their loved ones, yet many lacked adequate family and medical leave policies. These and other economic challenges continue to affect working families and children,” Archbishop Coakley said.
The statement, “Building a Just Economy for Women and Families,” dated Sept. 5 – Labor Day – was released Aug. 31.
Noting that this was the first Labor Day since the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, Archbishop Coakley said: “This unique moment necessitates a society and an economy that supports marriages, families and women; it demands that all of us reach across political aisles and work diligently to reframe social policies in ways that are pro-woman, pro-family, pro-worker and, thus, authentically pro-life.”
He suggested that both the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act and the child tax credit expansion fulfill that goal, calling the former one of the bishops’ “policy priorities.”
“There is currently no federal law requiring employers to provide short-term, reasonable accommodations to pregnant women in the workplace and the PWFA would do so. Common requests include being able to carry a bottle of water, a stool for jobs that involve long periods of standing, or lighter duty for jobs that entail heavy lifting,” he said.
“Women in low-wage and physically demanding jobs, disproportionately held by women of color, are regularly denied these simple accommodations and terminated or forced to take leave without pay. A number of states already have laws like this in place; however, pregnant women in every state should be protected by these standards.”
The bill has passed the House, but awaits action in a Senate running out of days on its calendar. “No woman should be forced to risk her or her child’s health, miscarriage, preterm birth, economic security or losing insurance benefits just because she requests a short-term, reasonable, pregnancy-related accommodation,” Archbishop Coakley said.
The archbishop used the statement to press for passage of an expanded child tax credit.
“In 2021, the CTC provided financial relief for families who were having difficulty making ends meet. Families largely spent this money on food, energy bills, housing payments and other basic needs. With rising inflation, continuing to expand this tax credit would be critically helpful to families forced to choose between buying food and filling up their gas tanks,” Archbishop Coakley said.
“Congress should move forward with a CTC proposal that has no minimum income requirement, includes families with mixed immigration status, is available for the year before birth, and is offered to every child — regardless of the size of the family,” he added. “The CTC was enormously effective at reducing child poverty in 2021 and we should not regress from this progress.”
Passing both bills, Archbishop Coakley said, “would have a profound impact on family stability, especially for families who are financially vulnerable.”
He also voiced themes common in the annual Labor Day statement, among them federal paid leave policy, just wages and the right to organize. “We have long called for a system in which the whole of society enjoys fundamental human needs including nutrition, affordable housing, education, and health care,” the archbishop said.
“The efforts of labor unions have helped union workers fare better during the pandemic than nonunion workers, as they were more likely to maintain their pay and their jobs,” he added.
He also lauded the efforts of organizations funded through the Catholic Campaign for Human Development that “work on low-wage workers’ rights and training, in an effort to eliminate labor trafficking and related workplace abuses such as wage theft.”
Archbishop Coakley took note of the death 20 years ago of Msgr. George G. Higgins, head of what was then known as the bishops’ Social Action Department and who either wrote or consulted on multiple decades worth of Labor Day statements.
“He was a fervent advocate of economic justice for all, working closely with unions and union organizers, including Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers, and received many awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom,” Archbishop Coakley said.
“May the spirit and example of Msgr. Higgins inspire us, ” he said, “that we might have the wisdom to build up justice and improve the lives of workers and their families as he did throughout his life.”
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage
SCRANTON – As the entrance hymn ‘Vivien Con Alegria’ began, some people in the crowd happily clapped along with the fast-moving beat. Others clutched their cell phones to record the moment.
With the sound of joyful music echoing outside of the Cathedral of Saint Peter, there was no denying the presence of the Holy Spirit as the 2022 Hispanic Heritage Mass for the Diocese of Scranton got underway shortly after noon on Sept. 10, 2022.
“This is great for the Spanish community. We all come from different countries,” Rufino Cano, a parishioner from the linked parishes of Saint John Neumann and Saint Paul of the Cross in Scranton, said.
An estimated 500 people attended the Mass, which was celebrated entirely in Spanish. The Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, served as principal celebrant and homilist.
The Mass helps to kick off Hispanic Heritage Month that is a time to celebrate the history, culture and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
“It’s a way of acknowledging our culture,” Catalina Valladares, a parishioner of Most Holy Trinity Parish in Cresco, said. “I think this is a very big accomplishment for the Hispanic community in the diocese.”
Hispanic Heritage Month began on Sept. 15 and runs through Oct. 15 each year.
Brenda Bonilla, a parishioner of the linked parishes of Saint John Neumann and Saint Paul of the Cross in Scranton, was moved by the Eucharistic celebration.
“You feel alive. You always feel alive. It’s the music, it’s the people, it’s the prayers, it’s the hymns, it’s everything!” she said. “I was very humbled to see the whole Hispanic community from the whole diocese unified together in one place, in the Mass, which is the best place that we can be together.”
Michael Garcia, 19, and his brother Sebastien, 16, travelled nearly an hour from Saint Matthew Parish in East Stroudsburg specifically to attend the Eucharistic liturgy.
“It was amazing. It was breathtaking, seeing all the priests from all around the parishes and all these people gathered together to celebrate this beautiful Mass,” Michael said.
“It really means a lot to me, all these cultures are all together in one place,” Sebastien added.
During his homily, Bishop Bambera reminded the faithful of their true origins.
“No matter how justifiably proud we are of our countries of origin, the heritage that we cherish and seek to nurture and pass from one generation to the next – our origin is not Mexico, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, the United States or any other land,” the bishop noted. “Our true origin – the reason for our time together this day – and the source of our life, our hope and our salvation is Jesus Christ.”
The bishop encouraged unity among all people. He also encouraged the faithful to serve one another as brothers and sisters and to become credible witnesses of the Savior.
“Thank you for working together to build bridges, to make unity a reality in our communities and to serve those among us who are most in need,” Bishop Bambera said. “I am so grateful for you who represent the Hispanic community in our local Church. You are a blessing beyond words and our hope for the future.”
Following the Mass, a three-hour reception was held across the street from the Cathedral at the Diocesan Pastoral Center. The crowd enjoyed food and many musical and dance performances by parishioners from various parishes.
“That is important to create more community, to know other Spanish people from other corners of the diocese,” Cano said.
“It’s the only way that we can get to know that we’re not by ourselves. It’s not my parish in a little corner, it’s not the next parish in a little corner, it’s all of us together – bringing the whole community together walking in our faith,” Valladares added.
The Hispanic Ministry Office of the Diocese of Scranton put the Hispanic Heritage Month Mass and the reception together. Funding for many programs like this comes from generous gifts to the Diocesan Annual Appeal.
An estimated 500 people attended the Diocese of Scranton’s annual Hispanic Heritage Mass at the Cathedral of Saint Peter in Scranton on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022.
Following the celebration of the annual Hispanic Heritage Mass, everyone in attendance was invited to enjoy food and fellowship at the Diocesan Pastoral Center. (Photo/Eric Deabill)
Above: Before the beginning of Mass, flags of countries of Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America were brought into the Cathedral.
Right: Mass attendees listen to Bishop Bambera’s homily.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The death penalty is an affront to human dignity that offers no solace to victims and denies the possibility for conversion of those who commit serious crimes, Pope Francis said.
The growing calls around the world for an end to capital punishment are “a sign of hope” for the church, the pope said in a video message released by the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network Aug. 31.
“Capital punishment offers no justice to victims, but rather encourages revenge. And it prevents any possibility of undoing a possible miscarriage of justice,” he said.
“From a legal point of view, it is not necessary,” the pope added.
At the start of each month, the network posts a short video of the pope offering his specific prayer intention. For the month of September, the pope dedicated his prayer intention for the abolition of the death penalty.
In his video message, the pope said the death penalty was unnecessary because society “can effectively repress crime” without denying those who offend “the possibility of redeeming themselves.”
The death penalty, he said, is “morally inadmissible” because it destroys life, which is “the most important gift we have received.”
“Let us not forget that, up to the very last moment, a person can convert and change,” the pope said. “The commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ refers to both the innocent and the guilty.”
Concluding his prayer intention, Pope Francis called on “all people of goodwill” to rally together to end capital punishment and prayed that “the death penalty, which attacks the dignity of the human person, may be legally abolished in every country.”
In 2018, Pope Francis ordered a revision of the catechism’s paragraph on capital punishment to say that “the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” and to commit the church to working toward its abolition worldwide.