SCRANTON – During the months of September and October, our country observes National Hispanic Heritage Month. We celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose family ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. Many of these countries celebrate the anniversary of their independence during this month.

The Spanish community at Saint John Neumann parish in South Scranton has brought their heritage and cultural customs to this Catholic community for close to 40 years. The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe brings hundreds of people from throughout the Diocese of Scranton to the church in December. Another big event at the parish, among many, is the Spanish Food Booth at the Summer Festival. This year, the COVID pandemic put the fun and delicious event on hold.

To assist the parish and keep our Spanish taste buds alive, Saint John Neumann is offering, on Saturday, September 26, a Spanish Food Drive-by form 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Nativity Church Parking lot site. Tickets are on sale now and these homemade Spanish foods are available: 2 Empanadas for $5.00, 2 Elote (Mexican corn-on-the-cob) for $5.00, 3 Tacos Dorados for $5.00. Tickets can be reserved at the Parish Office (633 Orchard Street) or by calling (570-344-6159). Advanced Ticket

Sales only and no tickets sold after Sept. 23rd. Join St. John Neumann Parish and NEPA in celebrating our Spanish brothers and sisters who share their gifts and histories during this special time.


SCRANTON – The 2020 Diocesan Annual Appeal: Bound Together in Hope will begin in all parishes in the Diocese of Scranton on Sept. 26 and 27. This year’s goal is $4.5 million.

An Appeal video will be shown at Masses and on parish websites and Facebook pages. Six regional Appeal videos have been produced to feature ministries funded by the Appeal in each area of the diocese. The videos will also be available on the diocesan website.

“This year’s Appeal theme Bound Together in Hope speaks to the strength of our faith especially during the coronavirus pandemic as we reach out to help each other as one body in Christ,” Bishop Joseph C. Bambera said.

“The generosity of the faithful to the Diocesan Annual Appeal brings hope to thousands of people in northeastern and north central Pennsylvania. This is particularly true this year as we are serving an increasing number of people seeking help,” Bishop Bambera added. “While I know this is a challenging time for many of our parishioners and some may not be able to support the Appeal this year, I ask those who are able to help to consider making a contribution.”

Because of the pandemic, the traditional In-Pew Commitment Weekend for the Appeal will be replaced with an Online Giving Weekend on Nov. 21 and 22, where parishioners and friends will be invited to support the Appeal through this special online event.

Gifts to the Appeal will have a significant impact this year to help diocesan ministries serve an increasing number of people in need and provide opportunities to offer programs and services in different ways in response to the pandemic.

More than 10,000 households have received food from one of our Catholic Social Services food pantries in Carbondale, Scranton, Hazleton and Wilkes-Barre from March to July 2020.  This is a 50% increase over the same period last year.  Parishes are also serving more people in their parish outreach programs, some of which are supported by the Appeal through social justice grants.

Appeal gifts support Diocesan Catholic School teachers and staff as they make the significant changes that are needed to continue to provide a quality education to our students in the safest way possible.

Donations to the Appeal also support the Office for Parish Life in its efforts to develop new ways to connect to parishes such as the recent virtual Catechist Camp for parish directors of religious education, the Together Project for young adults and a new online Faith Formation program to assist parishes.

Thousands of the faithful who are not able to attend Mass in person are watching the broadcast and livestreaming of Masses from the Cathedral of Saint Peter. Catholic Television, The Catholic Light and information provided on the Diocesan website are funded by donations to the Appeal.

Gifts to the Appeal also provide assistance to our seminarians in priestly formation and care and support for Diocesan retired and ill priests who have dedicated their lives in faithful service to parishioners throughout the diocese.

Donors to the Appeal may designate their gift to any of the ministries listed above.

For more information on the Diocesan ministries supported by gifts to the Annual Appeal, to view one of the regional Annual Appeal videos or to make a donation online, visit . Gifts may also be made by calling the Diocesan Development Office at 570-207-2250 or by sending a donation to: Diocesan Annual Appeal, 300 Wyoming Ave., Scranton, PA, 18503.



September 14, 2020

CARBONDALE – Eucharistic exuberance filled the hearts of the faithful when diocesan parishes opened their doors for a return to the sacraments for their flocks. In the months that followed, priests have celebrated Masses in small indoor gatherings and larger outdoor venues.

As the public continues to be welcome to enter their houses of worship for liturgical celebrations, a trend began in which Holy Masses left the churches – especially in rural parish settings – and the Eucharist came to the people who would gather outdoors to be spiritually nourished.

The open air liturgies and sacramental celebrations that continue to be offered have certainly been blessed by Divine Providence, with very little rain taking place during the weekend celebrations of Mass.

“We were blessed with a beautiful morning and naturally beautiful setting at Takach Grove,” Father Jeff Walsh, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint Rose of Lima in Carbondale, said of the parishes’ first outdoor Mass celebrated on the last Sunday of August at the Greenfield Township social pavilion.

According to the recently appointed pastor of the Carbondale faith communities, approximately 130 faithful gathered for the outside liturgy, abiding by the social distancing and mask regulations set forth by the Diocese of Scranton and Centers for Disease Control during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

As principal celebrant, Father Walsh remarked that the outdoor celebration was the first in-person Mass for many of his parishioners since March.

He was joined by concelebrant and assistant pastor, newly ordained Father Kevin Miller, Deacon Pat Massino and Diocesan seminarian Michael Boris, who has been assigned to serve his pastoral year at the Carbondale parishes, welcomed the outside congregation to the celebration of Mass.

“Surrounded by green field with wandering wild turkeys, next to a pond with lily pads, the Mass was very well received and appreciated,” Father Walsh said. “Thanks be to God!”

In the Poconos, an outdoor Mass is celebrated every Sunday at noon in the grassy area off the upper parking lot of Our Lady of Victory Church, Tannersville, where Father Richard Czachor is the longtime pastor.

“This came about after a few weeks of celebrating Mass only in our church, following proper distancing and wearing of masks,” Father Czachor explained. “Some people shared that they were afraid to come into church. Others said it’s difficult to wear a mask for so long. But they all still wanted so very much to receive the Eucharist.”

The pastor noted members of the Knights of Columbus organize the parking details and give instructions to the gathering congregation. Some remain in their cars, he said, while others bring chairs or sit on the lawn near the covered altar.

“The Contemporary Choir provides the music, making for a beautiful celebration,” noted Father, who indicated between 30 or 40 cars arrive for Mass each week, with upwards of 70 faithful in attendance. “So many people come forward and express their thanks for the opportunity to attend Mass and receive the Eucharist.”

The outdoor Masses have brought Donna and Fred Talcove of Jackson Township back to the liturgies at Our Lady of Victory, after the 18-year parishioners had been viewing the church celebrations online since mid-March.

“I think it’s great because I have underlying issues,” said Donna, who suffers from COPD and would rather attend Mass outside. “I missed receiving Holy Communion.”

Referring to an imminent change in the weather that will not be as conducive to outdoor liturgies, Fred remarked, “I don’t know how long we can go like this. We will take it week by week.”

Stephen and Laura Brady of Reeders, OLV parishioners for 25 years, have attended the outdoor Mass since it was first offered. “It’s good to get back,” said Stephen. “This is fine. We could do this every Sunday.”

A former Catholic school student who became accustomed to attending informal Masses in the gymnasium, Laura said, “You have options,” noting there is no need to register for the outside liturgies.

“You can stay in your car and have Communion brought to you, if you need to,” she remarked.

Echoing the Bradys’ sentiments was John DeRobertis of Stroud Township, a member of the Tannersville parish since 1986.

“When I was in the Boy Scouts, we had outdoor Masses and I loved it,” he said. “It’s just so nice to be outside, in nature, with beautiful scenery around and enjoying the Mass.”

DeRobertis further noted that the open-air liturgies lessen the chances of contracting the COVID virus and offered, “It’s so good to receive the Lord. That’s what we are here for, to receive Jesus.”

At Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Brodheadsville, weekday Masses are celebrated in the outdoor Pavilion on the church grounds on Monday at 12:10 p.m. and Tuesday through Saturday at 8 a.m., with a Spanish Mass offered outside on Sundays at 5 p.m.

The Pavilion area has also provided the ideal setting for weekly sacramental confessions at the parish, which is also currently celebrating the Sacrament of Baptism outdoors.

Pastor Father Mike Quinnan sees the outdoor liturgical celebrations as a blessing in disguise in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.

“We are having a beautiful summer,” Father Quinnan said. “It is so peaceful and pleasant to look out over nature and the beauty of the Poconos while celebrating Mass every morning.”

He continued, “I will miss not having Mass out in the Pavilion when the weather turns colder. However, the prayer and faith of the parish is strong and together we will meet the challenges and go where God wants us.”

Queen of Peace parishioner Diane Hicks said of participating in the outdoor liturgies, “It gives me a serenity and a deep connection with God and nature.”

Fellow Mass-goer Joseph Kenas feels the outdoor Pavilion at the parish is a “true blessing,” given the mandated social distancing and other health guidelines brought about by the pandemic.

“Thankfully, through the massive efforts of so many of our church volunteers, we were able to have an outside Pavilion built,” he remarked, “and what better way to celebrate and show our thanks than to celebrate Mass here daily. It’s truly a joy to be able to share this experience with others every day. Sure, it’s not quite the same as celebrating Mass in the church proper, but it’s a very, very close second!”

Father Christopher Sahd, senior priest at Saint John the Evangelist Parish in Honesdale, has been celebrating the 11:30 a.m. Sunday Mass on a picturesque hill located behind Saint John Church.

Explaining that the novel outdoor Mass is offered on the site of the original parish church and cemetery, Father Sahd noted, “While there are no grave markers, there is a beautiful golden statue of the Child Jesus being held by the Mother of God, which beckons prayer for the faithful buried there,” adding the statue presides over the spot where the open-air Mass is offered.

Father estimated that between 50 and nearly 90 parishioners — with children, chairs and blankets in tow — arrive each week and assemble before the outdoor altar for the Sunday celebration.

“Through sacred art and the chanting of the Propers of the Mass, the use of incense and frequent silent contemplation,” he continued, “we have tried to arrange for the Mass to be a solemn as possible, so as to lift our demeanor from the casual to the reverent.”

The Honesdale senior priest said he is always uplifted by the presence of young children at the liturgies, who join their elders in kneeling or standing in adoration on the hillside.

“To me, there is something beautiful about the outdoor Mass,” Father Sahd concluded. “Passersby catch a glimpse of the Sacred Host and chalice lifted high above the altar. We thank God for giving us this opportunity to keep His Day holy and giving Him worship.”

Weekday Twilight
Masses in Muncy

The current health crisis has also brought about changes in parishes’ overall Mass schedules — most notably, the popular choice of pastors to move their traditional weekday morning liturgies to later in the day to accommodate the faithful.

At Resurrection Parish in Muncy, their pastor Father Glenn McCreary decided to celebrate three daily Masses in the evening hours to provide more opportunity for Mass attendance during the week, especially given the lifting of the Sunday obligation.

As Father McCreary explained, since the parish enjoyed a good experience with their regularly scheduled Wednesday evening Mass, daily liturgies on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday are now offered at 7 p.m. in the Church of the Resurrection. The 9 a.m. Mass on Thursday still continues to allow time for Confessions and adoration later in the evening.

“We’re getting more people at weekday Mass in the evenings than we did in the mornings,” the Muncy pastor said.

“Some of those parishioners had never attended weekday Mass,” he continued. “I believe people appreciated the ability of the parish to adapt to new realities and to shape a schedule that better fit their lives.”




September 13, 2020

Planning, preparation and prayer have helped Catholic school students, families, faculty, staff and administrators safely begin a brand new school year.

Many students in the Diocese of Scranton Catholic School System have returned to class for in-person instruction over the last several weeks, while others are taking part in the Diocesan Virtual Academy.

“There is energy and excitement around the first day of school on any year,” Kristen Donohue, Superintendent of Catholic Schools, said. “I’m extremely proud of how our students and teachers have embraced this time, turning challenges into opportunities in many cases.”

Everyone has a role to play in helping mitigate the spread of COVID-19 this fall. Through the diocese’s “Sharing Good Health” initiative, strategies include continuing health screenings at home before going to school, wearing masks, good hygiene practices and keeping a safe physical distance in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus.

“While things may look different this year, our staff has worked extremely hard to create a welcoming environment like always, so that our children can continue to achieve their God-given potential,” Jason Morrison, Chief Executive Officer and Diocesan Secretary of Education, said.



SCRANTON – The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the cancellation of many events but it wasn’t enough to stop what has become an annual back-to-school tradition in North Scranton.

For the last several years, Mary, Mother of God Parish has hosted a picnic for students and families from the Bangor Heights Housing Development in late August. Due to the coronavirus, this year’s event on Aug. 27 looked different but was still able to accomplish its mission.

“It’s very important to come, just to see the children here,” parishioner Mary Lou Lozinger said. “They appreciate it and whatever we can do to help them further their schooling, we’ll do it.”

Instead of hamburgers and hot dogs served off the grill, those who turned out received pre-wrapped sandwiches. They were also provided with free school supplies and clothing.

“They don’t get a lot of what other children do, so we try our best to help out,” parishioner Nina Condella said.

The back-to-school picnic serves as evangelization tool for the parish. Parents are able to enroll or learn more about religious education classes.

“Every year that we come, we always get a few children to join the CCD classes and receive Communion and Confirmation. Some even get baptized so it’s nice, it really is,” Condella added.

Geraldine Francisco, who lives in the Bangor Heights development, learned about the parish through the event several years ago after moving to Scranton. She attended the event with her son after seeing a promotional flyer.

“I wanted to baptize my son since he was a baby and because of other things going on at the time, it felt impossible, but now I feel stable here at the parish. I’m glad that I was able to baptize him and he’s doing his First Communion so I’m really happy about that,” Francisco said.

“I did not know Geraldine before but now we do, because of this particular project and there are a lot more Geri’s. We just have to surface them and connect with them,” Mary, Mother of God pastor, Father Cyril Edwards, said.

The event is funded by a social justice grant, provided to the parish by generous donations from the Diocesan Annual Appeal.

“This is an opportunity, through the Appeal, to show that there is plenty of hope,” Father Edwards explained.

“The interaction it provides with people is priceless,” Sister Therese Mary Dougherty, I.H.M., said. “Hope never dies. We want to nurture people’s hope through the church and through their neighborhood.”

While Father Edwards used a microphone and speaker to invite families to the picnic, volunteers from the Mary, Mother of God Marian Society waited for hungry guests under two large pop-up tents.

“It is a way to reach people. You have to…We have to go to them,” Father Edwards said.

Without attending the picnic, Geraldine Francisco said she may not have become involved with the parish.

“I feel like everything happens for a reason and if it wasn’t for that, then I wouldn’t be where I am today and I’m so happy that I’m in the parish family,” she said.



Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis delayed the annual Peter’s Pence Collection from June 29, 2020, to Oct. 4.

The purpose of the Peter’s Pence Collection is to provide the Holy Father with the financial means to respond to those who are suffering as a result of war, oppression, natural disaster and disease.

It likewise provides the faithful with a tangible opportunity to not only empower the weak, defenseless and voiceless, but also sustain those who suffer.

“In view of the current health crisis, the Holy Father has decided that, for this year 2020, the Peter’s Pence Collection, which traditionally takes place around the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, on June 29, will be transferred throughout the world to the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Oct. 4, the day dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi,” Matteo Bruni, Director of the Holy See Press Office, said in making the announcement this summer.



September 3

SCRANTON – In addition to the seemingly endless interruptions the COVID-19 global pandemic has had on our world – from a direct impact on those it has affected, to fear of contracting the virus, to separation from loved ones, and an overall upheaval it has caused to our social, work and financial lives – the crisis has also taken a serious, sometimes deadly, toll on the mental health of society.

No one is more aware of that fact than Deacon Ed Shoener.

Ordained a Permanent Deacon for service in the Diocese of Scranton in 2004, Deacon Shoener in 2017 launched his Catholic Mental Health Ministry based at the Cathedral of Saint Peter, where he serves as the parish deacon. He began the support ministry following the death of his daughter Katie Shoener, who took her own life after a 12-year battle with severe depression.

Deacon Shoener is currently president and a founding member of the Association of Catholic Mental Health Ministers.

Since becoming the face and point person for such ministry in the Diocese, Deacon Shoener has emphasized that mental health ministry in the Catholic Church is growing because many people see the need for a ministry focused on the spiritual needs of those living with a mental illness, along with family members and others who love and support them.

Within the past six months, the need has become greater than ever.

“The pandemic has clearly led to greater isolation and anxiety for everyone,” Deacon Shoener said. “For people who are living with mental health challenges, the added isolation and stress has made their lives more difficult.”

The deacon noted that during the height of the COVID restrictions in the spring, the mental health ministry support group gatherings in Scranton transitioned to online ZOOM meetings, but have returned to in-person sessions requiring facial masks and social distancing.

Support ministry for those suffering from mental illness continues to meet on the second and fourth Saturday of the month from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Saint Peter Cathedral Rectory. For family and friends who support those living with mental illness, meetings are held on the first Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. in the rectory.

In a recent homily Deacon Shoener preached at the Cathedral, following Matthew’s Gospel account of the terrified disciples being tossed in a boat during a raging storm only to encounter Jesus walking on the water towards them, he equated the apostles’ plight with the feelings of helplessness so many are wrestling with at this time.

“The pandemic is not only causing physical, social and economic strains, it is also heaping pressure on the mental health of many people in ways that are hard to see,” he said. “Like the disciples in today’s Gospel, we are shaken by a vast storm that we have no control over.”

Noting that many struggling with the effects of the global health crisis are overwhelmed by its impact on all aspects of life, the deacon remarked, “For others, the pandemic may be manageable, but it may be some other part of life, perhaps a relationship, that is in chaos.”

Following the example of the disciples, who “cried out in fear,” said Deacon Shoener, there is a need to cry out for Jesus.

“You are struggling with the loneliness brought on by the pandemic, you are struggling with the fear brought on by the pandemic — Cry out for Jesus,” he said. “You lost a job and your debt is a burden you don’t think you can bear — Cry out for Jesus.”

“We may fall, we may begin to sink beneath the waves, but He will pick us up,” the deacon continued. “Our faith may be weak, yet His mercy is strong.”

“During these uncertain and chaotic times, we all need to cry out for Jesus,” Deacon Shoener said. “We all need to spend time with Him in prayer. He will speak to us in the quiet moments. We all need to be with Him in His Church. Jesus will pour out countless graces on us to calm the storm.”



WILLIAMSPORT – During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have been looking for signs of hope. On Sunday, Aug. 16, they didn’t need to look any further than the front lawn of UPMC Susquehanna.

More than 100 people came together for a “Prayer Vigil of Light and Hope” at the hospital organized by Saint Joseph the Worker parish.

“The one thing that we wanted to do was pray for our doctors, our nurses, our firefighters, police and first responders, all those people who have been battling COVID on the front lines ever since the beginning,” Father Brian Van Fossen, pastor, said.

Attendees prayed a rosary on the hospital’s front lawn, lighting candles that ultimately spelled out the word “HOPE” in large letters.

“It was really, really nice. We even had people in the windows of the hospital looking down and being with us, even though they were in the hospital working,” Father Van Fossen said. “There was even a couple people who came out of the emergency room, who were able to stand and pray at a distance.”

The parish worked with the hospital to make the event a success. People who attended wore face masks and were easily able to maintain proper social distancing.

The event was planned for the weekend that the Church celebrates the Assumption of Mary. The rosary focused on the Glorious Mysteries: Resurrection, Ascension, Pentecost, Assumption and Coronation of Mary.

“All you have to do is look at the Glorious Mysteries of the Church and you see how the Cross is overcome by the triumph of faithfulness and hope and love and people proclaiming the Gospel,” Father Van Fossen added.

The Williamsport pastor says even after the prayers were over, many people wanted to stick around, caught up in the awe-inspiring moment. In the days following the event, he added that the parish has received numerous notes of appreciation from doctors and nurses who witnessed the prayer vigil.

“It really formulated a sense of community with those who are on the front lines,” he added.

The prayer vigil at UPMC Susquehanna was the final event in a weekend of activities for members of Saint Joseph the Worker parish.

On Saturday, volunteers took to the street to clean up litter as a community service project. Normally in mid-August, the parish would be immersed in festivities for the Little League World Series, but since the games were canceled this year, parishioners decided to give back in other ways.

“We knew with a few hours and a few hands we could clean it up,” Makenzie Conner, director of youth ministry, said. “It was a great morning after Mass, walking the streets and cleaning up trash, taking the young out and learning about our city.”

On Sunday, before the prayer vigil at UPMC Susquehanna, the parish held Mass and a meal at a local park right behind a baseball field that would have normally been a welcoming site for thousands during the Little League World Series.

“There is something about sharing a meal together with a parish family that we all really missed,” Conner added, emphasizing that safety measures remained in place.

The parish is already working on its next big community events.

“One of the things we’re looking at doing with the Knights of Columbus is the National Rosary Rally in October. Our Knights of Columbus have taken up the mantel and we’ve placed five strategic locations throughout the city of Williamsport and we just got approval that we can do this,” Father Van Fossen said. “We’re going to go to city hall where our police department is located, we’re going to go to the food pantry and family promise for the homeless and those who are in need, especially in light of our world today, we’re going to go over to the hospital and pray a decade of the rosary there, and then we’re going to come to the fire hall and pray a decade of the rosary there and finally finish here at the church with the decade of the rosary as well.”




Eric M. Deabill

Secretary for Communications

Editor-in-Chief, The Catholic Light

Diocese of Scranton

300 Wyoming Avenue

Scranton, PA 18503

Direct Office Line: (570) 591-5001

Catholic Light Office: (570) 207-2229

Cell: (570) 237-6508




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WILKES-BARRE – When Father Fidel Ticona walked into a downstairs room at Saint Nicholas Church in mid-August, the parishioners burst into sudden applause.

For many, it was the first time they had seen Father Fidel in five months.

In March, when travel restrictions started being put in place, the 50-year-old cleric was on vacation visiting family in his native Peru. He ended up spending five months in the South American country because he could not return home to Luzerne County.

“I usually take my vacation around that time. It’s summer time in the south, back home. It was about a two and a-half week vacation that was planned and expected,” Father Fidel recounted. “I was ready to come back and look what happened.”

Father Fidel said he was on his way to the airport when his niece called him and told him everything was going to be shut down due to COVID-19 concerns.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Father Fidel explained. “When I got there, it was chaos in the airport. There was nobody to talk with. People didn’t know what to do.”

After a few hours, Father Fidel was told that he could still take a domestic flight to Lima, the capital city of Peru, for the first part of his journey home to Wilkes-Barre. Realizing that if he took that flight to Lima he still wouldn’t be able to return to the United States, he decided to stay put in his native Puno, Peru.

“I didn’t know what to do,” Father Fidel admitted.

Initially, Father Fidel thought he would need to remain in Peru for only a month, but he quickly realized it would take much longer to return home.

“I tried to get a plane ticket through different countries,” he said. “I got one after a month and a-half. I was ready to come back. Three days before, the flight was cancelled.”

Father Fidel often thought about all of the items on his work calendar, including baptisms, but it wasn’t until he had a phone call with Father Joseph Verespy, pastor of Saint Nicholas Parish, when he learned that many local events also were being changed because of the coronavirus.

“After that, I enjoyed my time,” Father Fidel admitted.

The quarantine in Peru was very strict. Father Fidel said only one person per family was allowed to go out for necessities like groceries and medicine. He said there was a curfew between 5:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.

“We were allowed to go out on designated days by gender. I was allowed to go out Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Women were allowed to go out Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday,” he said.

Travelling was also no easy task. In most cases, it took Father Fidel two hours to walk to the store in only one direction.

“We had to walk. There was no way to move from one place to another place,” he said. “You had to wait in line for hours and hours.”

Father Fidel was able to leave Peru on July 23. He arrived back in Wilkes-Barre on July 25 and then spent two weeks in quarantine locally before returning to public ministry duties.

“It’s nice to be home,” he said. “It has been really rewarding to work with the Hispanic population who are most in need.”

While he was able to talk to some parishioners by phone while he was in Peru, Father Fidel said now that he is back in Wilkes-Barre there is a lot of work to do.

“What I have to do goes beyond their spiritual needs,” admitting that he helps his parishioners with finding jobs, translating documents and other necessary services.


Pope Francis leads his general audience in the library of the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican Aug. 26, 2020. Christians cannot stand idly by and watch as milions of people are deprived of their basic needs because of greed, the pope said. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Christians cannot stand idly by and watch as millions of people are deprived of their basic needs because of others’ greed, Pope Francis said.

“When the obsession to possess and dominate excludes millions of people from having primary goods, when economic and technological inequality are such that the social fabric is torn and when dependence on unlimited material progress threatens our common home, then we cannot stand by and watch,” he said Aug. 26 during his weekly general audience.

Christians must act together, rooted in God and united in the hope of “generating something different and better” that is more just and equitable, he said.

During a livestream from the library of the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis continued a series of talks on the principles of the church’s social doctrine as a guide for healing and building a better future.

Focusing on the universal destination of goods, the pope said this is “the first principle of the whole ethical and social order.”

God entrusted the earth and its resources “to the common stewardship of mankind to take care of them,” he said, citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2402).

When God called on his children to “have dominion” over the earth in his name, the pope said, this was not to be interpreted as “a ‘carte blanche’ to do whatever you want with the earth.”

“No,” he said. “There exists a relationship of mutual responsibility between us and nature.”

Communities must protect the earth, take only what they need for subsistence and make sure the fruits of the earth reach everyone, not just a few people, the pope said.

A person should see his or her legitimate possessions “not only as his own but also as common in the sense that they should be able to benefit not only him but also others,” according to the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (“Gaudium et Spes”).

In fact, the catechism says ownership of any property makes the “holder a steward of providence, with the task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to others,” he said.

“We are stewards of goods, not masters” or lords keeping them “selfishly for yourself,” he added.

The pope said the catechism also says, “political authority has the right and duty to regulate the legitimate exercise of the right to ownership for the sake of the common good.”

This “subordination of private property to the universal destination of goods,” he said, “is a golden rule of social conduct and the first principle of the whole ethical and social order.”

Property and money are meant to be instruments that serve development, he said.

However, people easily turn property and money into ends in themselves, he added.

When that happens, he said, the human being, who was made in the image and likeness of God, “becomes deformed” and becomes individualistic, calculating and dominating, instead of social, creative, cooperative and charitable “with an immense capacity to love.”

Social inequality and environmental degradation go hand in hand, he said, and have the same root cause: “the sin of wanting to possess and dominate one’s brothers and sisters, nature and God himself,” which was not God’s plan for creation.

The inequalities in the world “reveal a social illness; it is a virus that comes from a sick economy,” which is the result of unfair economic growth that disregards fundamental human values and leaves just a handful of people with more wealth than the rest of the world, he said.

“If we take care of the goods that the creator gives us, if we put what we possess in common in such a way that no one would be lacking, then we would truly inspire hope to regenerate a more healthy and equal world,” he said.