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Pope has full day of appointments after going to hospital for tests

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The day after Pope Francis paid a brief visit to Rome's Gemelli Isola Hospital for "diagnostic tests," he had a full morning of audiences, including a meeting with bishops from Italy's Emilia Romagna region making their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican.

The bishops, including Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna, had been scheduled to meet the pope Feb. 26, but the meeting was postponed to Feb. 29 because of what the Vatican press office described as "mild flu-symptoms."

Pope Francis held his weekly general audience Feb. 28, but began the gathering by telling visitors, "I'm still a bit sick," and having aides read most of his prepared remarks.

Pope Francis meets with Cardinal Zuppi, other Italian bishops
Pope Francis meets with the bishops of Italy's Emilia Romagna region as they made their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican Feb. 29, 2024. Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna, president of the Italian bishops' conference, is seen listening as Pope Francis addresses the group. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

Immediately after the audience, "Pope Francis went to the Gemelli Isola Tiberina Hospital for some diagnostic tests. Afterward, he returned to the Vatican," said a statement Feb. 28 from the Vatican press office.

The Reuters news agency reported that the pope underwent a CT scan at the hospital on Rome's Tiber Island; the Vatican press office did not respond to a request for confirmation.

The 87-year-old pope had canceled his appointments Feb. 24 and Feb. 26, but he led the recitation of the Angelus prayer Feb. 25 without obvious difficulty. The Vatican provided no health update Feb. 27 since Tuesdays are his usual day off and he did not have to cancel any appointments.

In addition to meeting the group of Italian bishops, Pope Francis had separate audiences Feb. 29 with: Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life; with Father Andrzej Komorowski, superior general of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter; and with Archbishop Rui Manuel Sousa Valério of Lisbon, Portugal, and a group of people accompanying him. None of the audiences involved the pope making a speech or having someone read his text.

Arriving for his general audience Feb. 28, Pope Francis used a wheelchair instead of walking with his cane. His voice was hoarse and softer than usual.

Pope Francis arrives for audience
Pope Francis arrives in a wheelchair for his weekly general audience in the Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican Feb. 28, 2024. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

Pope Francis also went to the Gemelli Isola Hospital in late November for a CT scan of his lungs. At the time, Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office had said, "The CT scan ruled out pneumonia, but showed pulmonary inflammation that was causing some respiratory difficulties."

The problems forced him to cancel a planned trip to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 1-3 for the U.N. climate change summit. On several occasions in the first weeks of December, he had aides read his speeches for him. In mid-January, saying he had "a bit of bronchitis," he skipped several speeches although kept meeting different groups.

Pope Francis had undergone surgery in 1957 to remove part of one of his lungs after suffering a severe respiratory infection. He has insisted the operation has had no lasting impact on his health.

But last year, he was hospitalized at the main Gemelli hospital March 29-April 1 for what doctors said was a "respiratory infection." He tested negative for COVID-19.

In 2022 the hospital on Rome's Tiber Island, founded and run by the Brothers Hospitallers of Saint John of God, became affiliated with the Gemelli hospital where St. John Paul II and Pope Francis himself have undergone surgery.

Wednesday of the Second Week of Lent

Reading 1 Jer 18:18-20

The people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem said,
"Come, let us contrive a plot against Jeremiah.
It will not mean the loss of instruction from the priests,
nor of counsel from the wise, nor of messages from the prophets.
And so, let us destroy him by his own tongue;
let us carefully note his every word."

Heed me, O LORD,
and listen to what my adversaries say.
Must good be repaid with evil
that they should dig a pit to take my life?
Remember that I stood before you
to speak in their behalf,
to turn away your wrath from them.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 31:5-6, 14, 15-16

R. (17b) Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
You will free me from the snare they set for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commend my spirit;
you will redeem me, O LORD, O faithful God.
R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
I hear the whispers of the crowd, that frighten me from every side,
as they consult together against me, plotting to take my life.
R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.
But my trust is in you, O LORD;
I say, "You are my God."
In your hands is my destiny; rescue me
from the clutches of my enemies and my persecutors.
R. Save me, O Lord, in your kindness.

Verse Before the Gospel Jn 8:12

I am the light of the world, says the Lord;
whoever follows me will have the light of life.

Gospel Mt 20:17-28

As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem,
he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves,
and said to them on the way,
"Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem,
and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests
and the scribes,
and they will condemn him to death,
and hand him over to the Gentiles
to be mocked and scourged and crucified,
and he will be raised on the third day."

Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her, "What do you wish?"
She answered him,
"Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom."
Jesus said in reply,
"You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?"
They said to him, "We can."
He replied,
"My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left,
this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father."
When the ten heard this,
they became indignant at the two brothers.
But Jesus summoned them and said,
"You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them,
and the great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant;
whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.
Just so, the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve
and to give his life as a ransom for many."
- - -

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Lisieux House: Convent-Turned-Young-Adult Community Celebrates 10 Years

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Mafia in Italy Suspected of Poisoning Priest’s Chalice

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The courage of Christian martyrs is a blessing for everyone, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christians who never renounce their love for Christ and are faithful to the point of death are a blessing for everyone, Pope Francis said.

"There will always be martyrs among us. This is a sign that we're on the right path," the pope said in a video message for the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network, formerly known as the Apostleship of Prayer, released Feb. 27.

The pope's prayer intention for the month of March is dedicated to modern martyrs as witnesses to Christ.

"The courage of the martyrs, the witness of the martyrs, is a blessing for everyone," he said in his video message, noting that it is estimated there are more martyrs today than during the time of the early church. 

praying xavier
People stand in prayer in front of an image of St. Francis Xavier in this screen grab from a video from The Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network. (CNS photo/ThePopeVideo.org)

"Let us pray that those who risk their lives for the Gospel in various parts of the world might imbue the church with their courage and missionary drive. And to be open to the grace of martyrdom," he said. 

The pope began the video by sharing a story he heard from a Muslim man about his Christian wife while visiting a refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece.

It is "a story that is a reflection of the church today. It is the story of a little-known witness of faith," he said. 

He said the man told him terrorists had confronted them "and asked what our religion was. They approached my wife with a crucifix and told her to throw it on the ground. She didn't do it, and they slit her throat in front of me."

The pope said the man "held no grudges. He was focused on his wife's example of love, a love  for Christ that led her to accept, and to be faithful to the point of death." 

For the martyrs of our day, witnesses to Christ

For the martyrs of our day, witnesses to Christ

The Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network released the pope's prayer intention for the month of March, which is dedicated to modern martyrs as witness to Christ.  

Tuesday of the Second Week of Lent

Reading 1 Is 1:10, 16-20

Hear the word of the LORD,
princes of Sodom!
Listen to the instruction of our God,
people of Gomorrah!

Wash yourselves clean!
Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes;
cease doing evil; learn to do good.
Make justice your aim: redress the wronged,
hear the orphan's plea, defend the widow.

Come now, let us set things right,
says the LORD:
Though your sins be like scarlet,
they may become white as snow;
Though they be crimson red,
they may become white as wool.
If you are willing, and obey,
you shall eat the good things of the land;
But if you refuse and resist,
the sword shall consume you:
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken!

Responsorial Psalm Ps 50:8-9, 16bc-17, 21 and 23

R. (23b) To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
"Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,
for your burnt offerings are before me always.
I take from your house no bullock,
no goats out of your fold."
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
"Why do you recite my statutes,
and profess my covenant with your mouth,
Though you hate discipline
and cast my words behind you?"
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
"When you do these things, shall I be deaf to it?
Or do you think that I am like yourself?
I will correct you by drawing them up before your eyes.
He that offers praise as a sacrifice glorifies me;
and to him that goes the right way I will show the salvation of God."
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

Verse Before the Gospel  Ez 18:31

Cast away from you all the crimes you have committed, says the LORD,
and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit.

Gospel Mt 23:1-12

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
"The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people's shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation 'Rabbi.'
As for you, do not be called 'Rabbi.'
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called 'Master';
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted."
- - -

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Freedom to Meet Migrants’ Basic Human Needs Must be Preserved, says Bishop Rhoades

WASHINGTON - Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, expressed solidarity with faith-driven ministries to migrants and noted the special need to protect religious liberty. His remarks commended the February 23 statement issued by the Catholic bishops of the State of Texas.

“It is hard to imagine what our country would look like without the good works that people of faith carry out in the public square. For this, we can thank our strong tradition of religious liberty, which allows us to live out our faith in full.

“As the tragic situation along our border with Mexico increasingly poses challenges for American communities and vulnerable persons alike, we must especially preserve the freedom of Catholics and other people of faith to assist their communities and meet migrants’ basic human needs. I join my brother bishops in the State of Texas in expressing solidarity with those seeking simply to fulfill the fundamental biblical call: ‘whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’”

###

Pope cancels another day of meetings because of flu symptoms

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Saying Pope Francis was continuing to experience "mild flu-like symptoms," the Vatican announced he had canceled his appointments again Feb. 26.

The 87-year-old pope had led the recitation of the Angelus prayer as usual Feb. 25 and seemed to have no difficulty speaking or breathing, and he did not cough.

The previous day, though, he canceled a meeting with transitional deacons from the Diocese of Rome. The Vatican press office had put out a note Feb. 24 saying, "Due to a mild flu-like condition, as a precautionary measure, the pope canceled his audiences scheduled for today."

The press office provided no further information and did not indicate what those symptoms were.

The only information the press office added Feb. 26 was that the pope did not have a fever.

The cancellation came after Pope Francis and top officials of the Roman Curia took five days off for their Lenten spiritual reflections.

In November and January when the Vatican said the pope had "flu-like symptoms" they were respiratory difficulties, which Pope Francis described as bronchitis.

At a Jan. 12 meeting with Catholic communicators from France, the pope skipped reading his prepared text because, he told the group, "I have a bit of bronchitis, and I can't speak well."

In late November and early December, he also suffered from what he described as a very serious bronchial infection.

"Thank God it was not pneumonia," he told a group of health care managers. "I no longer have a fever, but I am still on antibiotics and things like that," he had said.

He had canceled his appointments Nov. 25 because of what the press office described as "flu-like symptoms" and went that afternoon to a Rome hospital for a CT scan of his chest. In the following days, he canceled some appointments and had aides read his prepared texts at other events.

That bout of respiratory difficulties also was what led him to cancel his plans to travel to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates Dec. 1-3 to address the U.N. Climate Change Conference.

Suffering from a respiratory infection, he also spent four days in March at Rome's Gemelli hospital.

He had undergone surgery in 1957 to remove part of one of his lungs after suffering a severe respiratory infection. He has insisted the operation has had no lasting impact on his health.

Pope Francis usually does not have any formal audiences on Tuesday; he was scheduled to hold his weekly general audience Feb. 28.

 

Monday of the Second Week in Lent

Reading 1 Dn 9:4b-10

"Lord, great and awesome God,
you who keep your merciful covenant toward those who love you
and observe your commandments!
We have sinned, been wicked and done evil;
we have rebelled and departed from your commandments and your laws.
We have not obeyed your servants the prophets,
who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes,
our fathers, and all the people of the land.
Justice, O Lord, is on your side;
we are shamefaced even to this day:
we, the men of Judah, the residents of Jerusalem,
and all Israel, near and far,
in all the countries to which you have scattered them
because of their treachery toward you.
O LORD, we are shamefaced, like our kings, our princes, and our fathers,
for having sinned against you.
But yours, O Lord, our God, are compassion and forgiveness!
Yet we rebelled against you
and paid no heed to your command, O LORD, our God,
to live by the law you gave us through your servants the prophets."

Responsorial Psalm Ps 79:8, 9, 11 and 13

R. (see 103:10a) Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.
Remember not against us the iniquities of the past;
may your compassion quickly come to us,
for we are brought very low.
R. Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.
Help us, O God our savior,
because of the glory of your name;
Deliver us and pardon our sins
for your name's sake.
R. Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.
Let the prisoners' sighing come before you;
with your great power free those doomed to death.
Then we, your people and the sheep of your pasture,
will give thanks to you forever;
through all generations we will declare your praise.
R. Lord, do not deal with us according to our sins.

Verse Before the Gospel See Jn 6:63c, 68c

Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life;
you have the words of everlasting life.

Gospel Lk 6:36-38

Jesus said to his disciples:
"Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

"Stop judging and you will not be judged.
Stop condemning and you will not be condemned.
Forgive and you will be forgiven.
Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you."
- - -

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.