(OSV News) – A priest who offered up his suffering from cancer for the sake of clerical abuse victims said he has experienced a miraculous healing following a June 2022 pilgrimage to the Marian shrine at Lourdes, France.

Father John Hollowell, a priest of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, told OSV News that doctors have said his brain tumor, diagnosed in 2019, has disappeared.

“I had an MRI two weeks after I got back from Lourdes (at the end of June 2022),” said Father Hollowell, who first announced the news in a Jan. 30 video message on his YouTube channel. “All that remained was scar tissue from the surgeries.”

In 2020, Father Hollowell learned that a series of fainting spells and dizziness were the result of an oligodendroglioma – a brain tumor usually occurring in white and non-Hispanic males between the ages of 35 and 44. About 1,200 individuals in the U.S. are diagnosed with the tumor each year.

Father John Hollowell, pictured in a file photo celebrating Mass at Annunciation Church in Brazil, Ind., was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2020. He decided to offer his sufferings on behalf of clerical abuse victims, and received hundreds of letters of support. Now, following a June 2022 visit to Lourdes, Father Hollowell has learned from his doctors that the brain tumor has disappeared. (OSV News photo/CNS file, Sean Gallagher, The Criterion)

But the rare form of cancer was not entirely a surprise to the priest.

“In 2018, I made a prayer that I would be willing to suffer for the victims of the Catholic clergy’s sexual abuse,” he told OSV News. “And then a month later, I had what I know now was the first seizure from the brain tumor.”

The diagnosis was not confirmed until Feb. 11, 2020, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, by doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

“I knew it was the answer to the prayer I had made two years earlier,” said Father Hollowell, noting he celebrated Mass that same day in the “stunningly beautiful” chapel at the clinic’s St. Mary’s Campus.

Before surgery at Mayo, the priest took to his now-closed Twitter account, letting his 20,000 followers know in a Feb. 13, 2020 post that he planned to “embrace this (illness) willingly” for clerical abuse survivors.

The offering gained national attention, prompting hundreds of tweets and emails of gratitude from around the world.

About a month later, Father Hollowell returned to Mayo for surgery, taking with him “the names of about 180 victims” who had contacted him.

“I literally prayed for them every day,” he told OSV News. “I had a wristband on my arm that said ‘For the victims.'”

The procedure revealed that “some fingers from the tumor had gone deeper into my brain than the neurosurgeon expected,” he said.

The surgery also coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., and Father Hollowell remained at Mayo, having developed infections from the surgery, which was followed by two more operations as well as radiation and nine months of chemotherapy.

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis granted Father Hollowell a medical leave of absence from his assignments, which include pastoring two Indiana parishes — Annunciation Catholic Church in Brazil and St. Paul the Apostle in Greencastle — and serving as a Catholic chaplain at DePauw University in Greencastle and at Putnamville (Indiana) Correctional Facility.

Father Hollowell said his chemotherapy, which was marked by “a lot of complicating factors,” prompted side effects that included depression and even suicidal thoughts.

He completed that treatment and returned to his parishes by July 2021, reporting for MRI scans every three months. By January 2022, scans showed the tumor was starting to regrow, joined by a second tumor on his pituitary gland.

“I was totally fine with dying,” Father Hollowell told OSV News. “It’s actually a prayer I had started to make: ‘If I am able to offer up my life in reparation for the crimes of priests, I would do that willingly.'”

At the same time, he booked a June 2022 trip to Lourdes — site of 18 Marian apparitions experienced by St. Bernadette Soubirous in 1858 — to see if he might be one of the thousands who claim to receive healing from visiting the shrine.

He also had another objective.

“I thought … if I’m healed, that might help draw some of my family members and friends who had fallen away (from the practice of faith) back to church,” Father Hollowell told OSV News.

The trip, which he undertook alone, proved to be “a nonstop adventure,” he said, one that saw him getting lost while walking from a train station to the shrine, and almost missing his spot in line to splash himself with the sanctuary’s famed spring waters.

At times, he found himself “at the point of tears,” he said.

Yet Father Hollowell said “the greater experience” was seeing “thousands of my prayers, not related to my health,” answered.

Two weeks after his return — with parishioners already telling him he “looked a lot healthier” — an MRI showed Father Hollowell’s oligodendroglioma was gone. Issues from the growth on his pituitary gland “stopped when I got back from Lourdes,” he said.

Now, doctors have told Father Hollowell to report for MRIs every seven, rather than three, months.

But he’s not planning to submit his case to Lourdes’ medical officers for consideration.

“As a parish priest, I feel like I don’t even have the time to go through all of that, (getting) a miracle approved,” he told OSV News. “I don’t really need doctors to tell me I have a miracle, even though I do.”

And if his cancer returns, he is prepared.

“If it comes back, that’s God’s will, and I’m totally at peace with whatever that is,” said Father Hollowell. “I’m not afraid, and that can only come from the Holy Spirit. Jesus says to just worry about one day at a time.”

(OSV News) – The experience of the sacrament of penance in the Roman rite will be slightly different this Lent, thanks to approved changes in the English translation set to take effect in a few weeks.

Starting Ash Wednesday — which takes place this year on Feb. 22 — the prayer of absolution will include three modifications, so that the revised version will read as follows:

“God, the Father of mercies,
through the death and resurrection of his Son
has reconciled the world to himself
and poured out [formerly “sent”] the Holy Spirit for [previously “Holy Spirit among us for”] the forgiveness of sins;
through the ministry of the Church
may God grant [instead of “give”] you pardon and peace.
And I absolve you from your sins
in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

The new text was adopted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops during its Spring 2021 meeting, with the Vatican’s Dicastery (then-Congregation) for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments approving the text in April 2022. As of April 16, 2023, the Second Sunday of Easter known also as Divine Mercy Sunday, the revised formula for absolution is mandatory.

“The essential part of the absolution formula has not changed,” said Father Andrew Menke, executive director of the USCCB’s Secretariat for Divine Worship, during an Oct. 25, 2022, webinar co-sponsored by his office and the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions.

During his presentation, Father Menke admitted the bishops had debated whether the minor changes were worth undertaking. However, he said the consensus favored striving for a more accurate translation from the Latin.

A file photo shows a crown of thorns at St. Bonaventure Church in Paterson, N.J. The sacrament of penance in the Roman rite sounds slightly different this Lent, thanks to approved changes in the English translation set to take effect in a few weeks. (OSV News photo/Octavio Duran)

Father Menke noted penitents “who can be a little scrupulous” might panic if priests — many of whom “have said this prayer literally thousands of times” — inadvertently use the old form of absolution.

“They might be concerned (that absolution) doesn’t count,” he said.
Yet he stressed that “the heart of the sacrament” remains intact, and the absolution is still valid.

While not a major alteration, the update to the text nonetheless offers “a wonderful opportunity to reiterate and teach the importance of the sacrament of penance as a staple for living the Christian life,” Father Dennis Gill, director of the Office for Divine Worship at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, told OSV News ahead of a Jan. 31 webinar he plans to give on the topic. “It’s also a wonderful opportunity to catechize about the sacrament itself.”

Father Menke noted in his October 2022 webinar that the updates are part of a broader effort by the Vatican to ensure accuracy in the translation of liturgical texts.

“It’s not due to anything against the Latin texts,” he said. “It’s based on the fact that the Holy See instructed the bishops of the world at the beginning of the 21st century that our translations needed to be more accurate.”

Liturgical texts have been revised throughout church history under papal direction: St. Pius V modified both the breviary and the missal in response to the Council of Trent, while St. Pius X, Pope Pius XII and St. John XXIII, who convened the Second Vatican Council, all significantly furthered such efforts.

Noting several difficulties in the practical application of Vatican II’s liturgical reforms, St. John Paul II stated in his 1998 apostolic letter “Vicesimus Quintus Annus” the need “to remedy certain defects or inaccuracies, to complete partial translations … (and) to ensure respect for the texts approved.”

The 2001 document “Liturgiam authenenticam,” issued by the Vatican’s then-Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, developed the scope of the project, which first resulted in the 2011 full retranslation of the Roman Missal.

Since then, “we’ve dutifully been going through the books one by one with the assistance of ICEL (the International Commission on English in the Liturgy) and preparing new editions of these books,” said Father Menke in his presentation.

So far, he said, new English translations of liturgical books have been completed for confirmation (2015), matrimony (2016), exorcism (2017), the dedication of a church (2018), the blessing of oils (2019), the baptism of children (2020) and ordination (2021).

The updates do not imply that “the (older versions) are heretical,” Father Menke told OSV News Jan. 30. “It’s just that church authorities have determined we might do better.”

The translation process is a rigorous one, with plenty of opportunities for bishops to review and reconsider the proposed updates, he added.

ICEL contracts with translators who prepare texts for consideration by the 11 bishops’ conferences that are full members of the commission: Australia, Canada, England and Wales, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Scotland, South Africa, and the U.S.

The bishops representing those conferences in ICEL then evaluate the translators’ work and, once approved, texts are then provided to the various bishops’ conferences for evaluation by all of their members.

Each bishops’ conference decides whether to implement and publish the eventual final version, Father Menke told OSV News.

As the translations are completed, he looks forward to a slightly slower work pace.

“There’s been this (ongoing) change for the last 10 years or so, with new books coming out,” said Father Menke. “I hope 10 years from now we’ll start a period of stability that will last a long time.”

PHILADELPHIA (OSV News) – A Catholic pro-life activist has been found not guilty of charges that he violated a federal law protecting access to abortion clinics, thereby avoiding a possible 11-year prison sentence.

Mark Houck, known for his sidewalk counseling outside a Philadelphia abortion facility, was tried in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on two charges under the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, or FACE Act, for allegedly assaulting an abortion clinic volunteer in October 2021.

The 1994 law prohibits intentional property damage of a facility that provides “reproductive health services,” including those related to abortion, and prohibits using “force or threat of force or … physical obstruction” to “injure, intimidate or interfere with” someone entering an abortion clinic.

Mark Houck, co-founder and president of The King’s Men, a Catholic lay apostolate, is seen at St. Joseph Church in Downington, Pa., April 30, 2017. A federal trial opened Jan. 24, 2023, for Houck, a prominent Catholic pro-life activist arrested by FBI at his home last September, known for his sidewalk counseling outside a Philadelphia abortion facility. Houck was arrested for allegedly assaulting an abortion clinic volunteer in violation of the federal FACE Act. (OSV News photo/CNS file, Sarah Webb, CatholicPhilly.com)

Charges against Houck stemmed from two separate incidents Oct. 13, 2021, where Houck allegedly assaulted the victim — identified in the indictment as “B.L.” and named in trial proceedings as Bruce Love — who was acting as a volunteer escort at the reproductive health care clinic. Houck maintained he was instead defending his young son from harassment by Love.

Jurors in the trial, which began on Jan. 24, remained deadlocked on a verdict as of Jan. 27. By midafternoon on Jan. 30, however, they had reached a verdict resulting in Houck’s acquittal.

“We are, of course, thrilled with the outcome,” stated Peter Breen, executive vice president and head of litigation at the Chicago-based Thomas More Society, which represented Houck in the proceedings. “Mark and his family are now free of the cloud that the Biden administration threw upon them. We took on the Goliath — the full might of the United States government — and won. The jury saw through and rejected the prosecution’s discriminatory case, which was harassment from day one. The Biden Department of Justice’s intimidation against pro-life people and people of faith has been put in its place.”

Ashley Garecht, vice chair of the Pro-Life Union of Greater Philadelphia, told OSV News she and fellow pro-life advocates were “overjoyed” Houck has been acquitted.

“We are grateful that truth won out in Philadelphia,” she said. “Most of all, we just praise God for his protection and provision for Mark. We know so many people have been praying for him, and that courtroom was full of many rosaries.”

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis has chosen Chicago-born Archbishop Robert F. Prevost of Chiclayo, Peru, to succeed Canadian Cardinal Ouellet as prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

The Vatican announced Jan. 30 the retirement of Cardinal Ouellet and the appointment of Archbishop Prevost.

Pope Francis meets with Archbishop Robert F. Prevost, a Chicago native, during a private audience at the Vatican Feb. 12, 2022. The pope has named Bishop Prevost as the new prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The archbishop, who is 67, holds degrees from Villanova University in Pennsylvania and the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago and a doctorate from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. An Augustinian friar, he joined the Augustinian mission in Peru in 1985 and largely worked in the country until in 1999 when he was elected head of the Augustinians Chicago-based province. From 2001 to 2013, he served as prior general of the worldwide order. In 2014, Pope Francis named him bishop of Chiclayo, in northern Peru.

As prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops, Archbishop Prevost will lead the Vatican body responsible for recommending to the pope candidates to fill the office of bishop in many of the Latin-rite dioceses of the world. Recommendations made by the dicastery are typically approved by the pope. Archbishop Prevost has been a member of the dicastery since November 2020.

He will also oversee the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, established in 1958 by Pope Pius XII to study the church in Latin America, where nearly 40% of the world’s Catholics reside.

Archbishop Prevost speaks English, Spanish, Italian, French, Portuguese and can read Latin and German.

Cardinal Ouellet has been prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America since 2010. He had submitted his resignation from his curial positions as is required upon reaching the age of 75 in June 2019, but Pope Francis did not accept it.

In recent months, Cardinal Ouellet has been accused of sexual misconduct by two women when he was archbishop of Quebec from 2003 to 2010. Cardinal Ouellet has denied both allegations and sued one of the accusers for defamation in December 2022, seeking $100,000 in damages.

Archbishop Prevost will take up his new roles beginning April 12, 2023.