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Biden administration proposes restoring Title X funding for abortion clinics

Planned Parenthood clinic in Newton, NJ Credit: Glynnis Jones

CNA Staff, Apr 14, 2021 / 12:49 pm (CNA).

President Joe Biden is moving to reverse a Trump-era policy that barred federal Title X funding to entities that perform and refer for abortions, such as Planned Parenthood. 


A proposal from the administration, set to be published April 15, would restore regulations first set in the year 2000 under Bill Clinton.


Title X is a federal program created in 1965 that subsidizes family-planning and preventative health services, including contraception, for low-income families. It has been frequently updated and subject to new regulations. 


Title X does not pay for abortions, but under the Clinton administration’s 2000 rule, grant recipients had to provide abortion counseling and abortion referrals to clients upon request.


In May of 2018, the Trump administration first proposed requiring a strict physical and financial line of separation between Title X programs and any program or facility that performs abortion, or supports or refers for abortion. 


The change of regulations did not impact the amount of funding allocated for Title X family planning programs, but rather changed who was eligible to receive such funds. 


The March 2019 implementation of the Protect Life Rule, as the previous administration’s policy was known, mandated Title X fund recipients to be both physically and financially separate from facilities that perform abortions. It also made abortion counseling optional and forbade Title X recipients from referring for abortions. 


After the new rules were announced, Planned Parenthood said it was exiting the Title X program in order to continue performing abortions.


Planned Parenthood had been receiving about one-fifth of the total amount of Title X funds distributed, and withdrawing from the program meant a $60 million cut in federal funding for the organization each year. Planned Parenthood still receives roughly $500 million annually in Medicaid reimbursement.


The HHS, in its rule-change proposal, cited statistics from the Planned Parenthood-affiliated Guttmacher Institute that claimed that the 2019 rule led to nearly 182,000 “unintended” pregnancies. 


A thirty-day comment period for the public on the proposed changes will open on April 15. 


In March 2021, on the same day that nominee Xavier Becerra was confirmed as the next HHS Secretary, the agency said it would implement the rule-change.


Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said April 14 that the 2019 rule “respected both the plain statutory language of Title X and the strong majority of Americans who oppose using taxpayer dollars to pay for abortion on demand.”


“Abortion is not ‘family planning’ and Biden-Harris Democrats pursue this extreme, unpopular agenda at their political peril,” Dannenfelser concluded. 


In March of this year, the Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to throw out a challenge to the 2019 rules, signaling it intends to roll back the restrictions.


The Baltimore mayor and city council, as well as a number of states and pro-abortion groups, challenged the rule in court. While the Fourth Circuit court in September ruled 8-6 against the rule, the Ninth Circuit court upheld the rule in February 2020, in a separate challenge.


In February of this year, the Supreme Court had agreed to hear the case which is currently scheduled to be argued during fall 2021. 


The federal Hyde Amendment currently prohibits federal funding for almost all abortions, though Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have expressed support for a repeal of the amendment.


Biden administration proposes restoring Title X funding for abortion clinics

Planned Parenthood clinic in Newton, NJ Credit: Glynnis Jones

CNA Staff, Apr 14, 2021 / 12:49 pm (CNA).

President Joe Biden is moving to reverse a Trump-era policy that barred federal Title X funding to entities that perform and refer for abortions, such as Planned Parenthood. 


A proposal from the administration, set to be published April 15, would restore regulations first set in the year 2000 under Bill Clinton.


Title X is a federal program created in 1965 that subsidizes family-planning and preventative health services, including contraception, for low-income families. It has been frequently updated and subject to new regulations. 


Title X does not pay for abortions, but under the Clinton administration’s 2000 rule, grant recipients had to provide abortion counseling and abortion referrals to clients upon request.


In May of 2018, the Trump administration first proposed requiring a strict physical and financial line of separation between Title X programs and any program or facility that performs abortion, or supports or refers for abortion. 


The change of regulations did not impact the amount of funding allocated for Title X family planning programs, but rather changed who was eligible to receive such funds. 


The March 2019 implementation of the Protect Life Rule, as the previous administration’s policy was known, mandated Title X fund recipients to be both physically and financially separate from facilities that perform abortions. It also made abortion counseling optional and forbade Title X recipients from referring for abortions. 


After the new rules were announced, Planned Parenthood said it was exiting the Title X program in order to continue performing abortions.


Planned Parenthood had been receiving about one-fifth of the total amount of Title X funds distributed, and withdrawing from the program meant a $60 million cut in federal funding for the organization each year. Planned Parenthood still receives roughly $500 million annually in Medicaid reimbursement.


The HHS, in its rule-change proposal, cited statistics from the Planned Parenthood-affiliated Guttmacher Institute that claimed that the 2019 rule led to nearly 182,000 “unintended” pregnancies. 


A thirty-day comment period for the public on the proposed changes will open on April 15. 


In March 2021, on the same day that nominee Xavier Becerra was confirmed as the next HHS Secretary, the agency said it would implement the rule-change.


Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, said April 14 that the 2019 rule “respected both the plain statutory language of Title X and the strong majority of Americans who oppose using taxpayer dollars to pay for abortion on demand.”


“Abortion is not ‘family planning’ and Biden-Harris Democrats pursue this extreme, unpopular agenda at their political peril,” Dannenfelser concluded. 


In March of this year, the Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to throw out a challenge to the 2019 rules, signaling it intends to roll back the restrictions.


The Baltimore mayor and city council, as well as a number of states and pro-abortion groups, challenged the rule in court. While the Fourth Circuit court in September ruled 8-6 against the rule, the Ninth Circuit court upheld the rule in February 2020, in a separate challenge.


In February of this year, the Supreme Court had agreed to hear the case which is currently scheduled to be argued during fall 2021. 


The federal Hyde Amendment currently prohibits federal funding for almost all abortions, though Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have expressed support for a repeal of the amendment.


Former Crookston bishop apologizes for failures in governance

Bishop Michael Hoeppner. CNA file photo.

Crookston, Minn., Apr 14, 2021 / 10:57 am (CNA).

Bishop Michael Hoeppner, who has resigned as Bishop of Crookston after being accused of mishandling cases of priests accused of sexual misconduct, apologized Tuesday for his failures at governing the diocese.

“The Church describes the ministry of a diocesan bishop as teaching, sanctifying and governing. It has been a joy and a blessing for me to have served as your bishop for the past 13+ years. I apologize to you, as I have apologized to our Holy Father, for my failures in governing as bishop,” Bishop Hoeppner wrote in an April 13 letter to the faithful of the Diocese of Crookston.

The resignation of Bishop Hoeppner had been accepted earlier that day.

Bishop Hoeppner, 71, was the first U.S. bishop to be investigated under Vos estis lux mundi, Pope Francis’ 2019 norms on investigating bishops accused of mishandling or obstructing allegations of clerical sexual abuse.

The bishop is reported to have pressured an alleged victim to drop his allegation of abuse against a priest, failed to follow mandatory reporting laws, and neglected to follow protocols designed to monitor priests accused of misconduct.

In his letter, Bishop Hoeppner wrote that Pope Francis had asked for his resignation, which “comes as a result of the investigation into reports that I, '…at times, failed to observe applicable norms when presented with allegations of sexual abuse involving clergy of the Diocese of Crookston.'”

He added his appreciation of “the many good things and blessings that God has showered upon us these past years … In our world of today where so many are confused about so many things, it is important that the truth of the Gospel and the Church’s Tradition be clearly presented for all to hear. I have enjoyed celebrating the Sacraments in the many wonderful parishes throughout our diocese.”

The bishop thanked “all the wonderful people with whom I have had the privilege to work these years,” particularly “the members of the diocesan curia and diocesan staff. It has been a delight to come to work each day and engage with such wonderful, dedicated people in the work of the Church.”

He announced his plan for the immediate future is to move with his sister to a warmer climate, and added, “I look forward to returning to Crookston for personal visits and will await the appointment of a new bishop here to determine other activity.”

“You who are the local Church of Crookston, will always be the premiere diocese for me. You have heard me say, and it is true, 'I am a blessed bishop.' And, it is as true today as the day I said it at my ordaination [sic] as your bishop, 'you have a bishop who loves you.' Be assured, I will continue to keep you all in my prayers each day. May God continue to be with you and bless you always.”

Bishop Richard Pates, Bishop Emeritus of Des Moines, has been appointed apostolic administrator of Crookston.

A report on the Vos estis investigation of Bishop Hoeppner was sent to Rome in late October 2019, and in February 2020, the Crookston diocese announced that the Vatican had ordered an additional investigation into the bishop.

Both investigations were conducted by Archbishop Bernard Hebda of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

Bishop Hoeppner was not permitted to oversee sexual abuse cases in his diocese during the second investigation.

In depositions released in November 2019 as part of a legal settlement, Bishop Hoeppner is seen to admit to several of the charges against him. In those depositions, Bishop Hoeppner also defended a diocesan decision to allow a priest to remain in ministry, without notifying parents or parishioners, after the priest admitted that while he was teenager he had sexually abused a younger child.

The announcement in early 2020 about a second investigation into Bishop Hoeppner followed several months in which local Catholics called for Bishop Hoeppner’s resignation, and accused him of mistreating a popular priest removed from ministry under vague terms.

Priests in the diocese told CNA at the time that they expected Bishop Hoeppner to be removed from office, and that given the bishop’s record, the credibility of the Vos estis procedures could be called into question were he eventually permitted to remain in office.

Vos estis lux mundi allows the Vatican “to provide for a supplementary investigation” after initial steps are taken, if Vatican officials deem it necessary.

There are currently several Vos estis investigations going on in dioceses in the U.S.

In 2021, announcements were made about Vos estis investigations into Bishop John Brungardt of Dodge City and Bishop Howard Hubbard, Bishop Emeritus of Albany.

Former Crookston bishop apologizes for failures in governance

Bishop Michael Hoeppner. CNA file photo.

Crookston, Minn., Apr 14, 2021 / 10:57 am (CNA).

Bishop Michael Hoeppner, who has resigned as Bishop of Crookston after being accused of mishandling cases of priests accused of sexual misconduct, apologized Tuesday for his failures at governing the diocese.

“The Church describes the ministry of a diocesan bishop as teaching, sanctifying and governing. It has been a joy and a blessing for me to have served as your bishop for the past 13+ years. I apologize to you, as I have apologized to our Holy Father, for my failures in governing as bishop,” Bishop Hoeppner wrote in an April 13 letter to the faithful of the Diocese of Crookston.

The resignation of Bishop Hoeppner had been accepted earlier that day.

Bishop Hoeppner, 71, was the first U.S. bishop to be investigated under Vos estis lux mundi, Pope Francis’ 2019 norms on investigating bishops accused of mishandling or obstructing allegations of clerical sexual abuse.

The bishop is reported to have pressured an alleged victim to drop his allegation of abuse against a priest, failed to follow mandatory reporting laws, and neglected to follow protocols designed to monitor priests accused of misconduct.

In his letter, Bishop Hoeppner wrote that Pope Francis had asked for his resignation, which “comes as a result of the investigation into reports that I, '…at times, failed to observe applicable norms when presented with allegations of sexual abuse involving clergy of the Diocese of Crookston.'”

He added his appreciation of “the many good things and blessings that God has showered upon us these past years … In our world of today where so many are confused about so many things, it is important that the truth of the Gospel and the Church’s Tradition be clearly presented for all to hear. I have enjoyed celebrating the Sacraments in the many wonderful parishes throughout our diocese.”

The bishop thanked “all the wonderful people with whom I have had the privilege to work these years,” particularly “the members of the diocesan curia and diocesan staff. It has been a delight to come to work each day and engage with such wonderful, dedicated people in the work of the Church.”

He announced his plan for the immediate future is to move with his sister to a warmer climate, and added, “I look forward to returning to Crookston for personal visits and will await the appointment of a new bishop here to determine other activity.”

“You who are the local Church of Crookston, will always be the premiere diocese for me. You have heard me say, and it is true, 'I am a blessed bishop.' And, it is as true today as the day I said it at my ordaination [sic] as your bishop, 'you have a bishop who loves you.' Be assured, I will continue to keep you all in my prayers each day. May God continue to be with you and bless you always.”

Bishop Richard Pates, Bishop Emeritus of Des Moines, has been appointed apostolic administrator of Crookston.

A report on the Vos estis investigation of Bishop Hoeppner was sent to Rome in late October 2019, and in February 2020, the Crookston diocese announced that the Vatican had ordered an additional investigation into the bishop.

Both investigations were conducted by Archbishop Bernard Hebda of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

Bishop Hoeppner was not permitted to oversee sexual abuse cases in his diocese during the second investigation.

In depositions released in November 2019 as part of a legal settlement, Bishop Hoeppner is seen to admit to several of the charges against him. In those depositions, Bishop Hoeppner also defended a diocesan decision to allow a priest to remain in ministry, without notifying parents or parishioners, after the priest admitted that while he was teenager he had sexually abused a younger child.

The announcement in early 2020 about a second investigation into Bishop Hoeppner followed several months in which local Catholics called for Bishop Hoeppner’s resignation, and accused him of mistreating a popular priest removed from ministry under vague terms.

Priests in the diocese told CNA at the time that they expected Bishop Hoeppner to be removed from office, and that given the bishop’s record, the credibility of the Vos estis procedures could be called into question were he eventually permitted to remain in office.

Vos estis lux mundi allows the Vatican “to provide for a supplementary investigation” after initial steps are taken, if Vatican officials deem it necessary.

There are currently several Vos estis investigations going on in dioceses in the U.S.

In 2021, announcements were made about Vos estis investigations into Bishop John Brungardt of Dodge City and Bishop Howard Hubbard, Bishop Emeritus of Albany.

Vatican’s saints office says it did not ask for money for beatification

The statue of St. Peter holding the keys, outside St. Peter's Basilica. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Vatican City, Apr 14, 2021 / 06:10 am (CNA).

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of the Saints has denied an accusation that an official asked for money to advance the beatification cause of an Italian statesman murdered in 1978.

“What was said is not true,” Fr. Bogusław Turek, undersecretary of the saints congregation, wrote in an April 9 letter to the journalists of an Italian investigative news program which aired April 12.

In the episode, a postulator, whose work is to guide a diocese through the canonization process in Rome, accused the undersecretary of asking him for a bribe in June 2018 to advance the beatification cause of former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro.

“I have never been concerned with, nor dealt with, Aldo Moro’s cause because it has not yet been presented in the Dicastery,” Turek said in the letter shared by the Vatican’s press office April 13.

In a separate note, dated April 9, the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints said it had received notice in April 2018 that the promoters of Moro’s cause had revoked the mandate of postulator Nicola Giampaolo, and assigned someone new.

“It should therefore be noted that the alleged financial request could not have been made to Mr. Giampaolo in June 2018, as he asserts, as he was no longer a postulator,” the saints office stated.

The postulator, Giampaolo, made the accusation in an interview on the program “Report,” which airs on the state-owned channel Rai3. Giampaolo is a journalist and author, who has also worked in local politics.

Undersecretary Turek said that he had met with Giampaolo in the offices of the saints congregation for another reason: to explain to him that he had not been approved by the dicastery as postulator of two other beatification causes “due to the lack of the requisites required by the canonical norms.”

Aldo Moro was a prominent Catholic politician and jurist. He was a founding member of Italy’s center-left Christian Democracy party and is said to be one of the most popular leaders in the history of the Italian Republic.

Moro was also one of Italy’s longest-serving prime ministers in the post-war era, holding the office from 1963 to 1968 and again from 1974 to 1976.

He was assassinated by the far-left terrorist group Red Brigades on May 9, 1978, after having been kidnapped and held in captivity for 55 days.

Moro’s cause for beatification was opened by the Diocese of Rome for investigation in September 2012. In 2015, controversies emerged around the statesman, held by some to have been killed in “hatred of the faith.” Moro’s then-postulator, Giampaolo, said the beatification process would possibly be put on hold.

At the time, Moro’s oldest daughter, Senator Maria Fida Moro, called the controversies “completely unjustified,” and described her father as “persecuted in life, in death, and after.”

On “Report,” Giampaolo said “unfortunately the cause was temporarily suspended, because I saw strong pressure from the outside towards the cause and at the same time, the supreme interests of the Church were at risk.”

“There were probably too many interests behind a beatification and canonization process,” he said.

The undersecretary of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, Fr. Bogusław Turek, told the journalists of “Report” last week that the Vicariate of Rome had not been authorized by the congregation to open Moro’s beatification cause.

And in its April 9 note, the saints office said Nicola Giampaolo had never been ratified as postulator of Moro’s cause and the congregation does not offer any form of “accreditation of postulators” as Giampaolo claims to have on his curriculum vitae.

Vatican’s saints office says it did not ask for money for beatification

The statue of St. Peter holding the keys, outside St. Peter's Basilica. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Vatican City, Apr 14, 2021 / 06:10 am (CNA).

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of the Saints has denied an accusation that an official asked for money to advance the beatification cause of an Italian statesman murdered in 1978.

“What was said is not true,” Fr. Bogusław Turek, undersecretary of the saints congregation, wrote in an April 9 letter to the journalists of an Italian investigative news program which aired April 12.

In the episode, a postulator, whose work is to guide a diocese through the canonization process in Rome, accused the undersecretary of asking him for a bribe in June 2018 to advance the beatification cause of former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro.

“I have never been concerned with, nor dealt with, Aldo Moro’s cause because it has not yet been presented in the Dicastery,” Turek said in the letter shared by the Vatican’s press office April 13.

In a separate note, dated April 9, the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints said it had received notice in April 2018 that the promoters of Moro’s cause had revoked the mandate of postulator Nicola Giampaolo, and assigned someone new.

“It should therefore be noted that the alleged financial request could not have been made to Mr. Giampaolo in June 2018, as he asserts, as he was no longer a postulator,” the saints office stated.

The postulator, Giampaolo, made the accusation in an interview on the program “Report,” which airs on the state-owned channel Rai3. Giampaolo is a journalist and author, who has also worked in local politics.

Undersecretary Turek said that he had met with Giampaolo in the offices of the saints congregation for another reason: to explain to him that he had not been approved by the dicastery as postulator of two other beatification causes “due to the lack of the requisites required by the canonical norms.”

Aldo Moro was a prominent Catholic politician and jurist. He was a founding member of Italy’s center-left Christian Democracy party and is said to be one of the most popular leaders in the history of the Italian Republic.

Moro was also one of Italy’s longest-serving prime ministers in the post-war era, holding the office from 1963 to 1968 and again from 1974 to 1976.

He was assassinated by the far-left terrorist group Red Brigades on May 9, 1978, after having been kidnapped and held in captivity for 55 days.

Moro’s cause for beatification was opened by the Diocese of Rome for investigation in September 2012. In 2015, controversies emerged around the statesman, held by some to have been killed in “hatred of the faith.” Moro’s then-postulator, Giampaolo, said the beatification process would possibly be put on hold.

At the time, Moro’s oldest daughter, Senator Maria Fida Moro, called the controversies “completely unjustified,” and described her father as “persecuted in life, in death, and after.”

On “Report,” Giampaolo said “unfortunately the cause was temporarily suspended, because I saw strong pressure from the outside towards the cause and at the same time, the supreme interests of the Church were at risk.”

“There were probably too many interests behind a beatification and canonization process,” he said.

The undersecretary of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, Fr. Bogusław Turek, told the journalists of “Report” last week that the Vicariate of Rome had not been authorized by the congregation to open Moro’s beatification cause.

And in its April 9 note, the saints office said Nicola Giampaolo had never been ratified as postulator of Moro’s cause and the congregation does not offer any form of “accreditation of postulators” as Giampaolo claims to have on his curriculum vitae.

Pope Francis: ‘The Church is a great school of prayer’

Pope Francis speaks from the Apostolic Palace during his general audience livestream April 14, 2021. / Vatican Media/CNA

Vatican City, Apr 14, 2021 / 05:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Wednesday that an essential task of the Church today is to teach people how to pray.

“The Church is a great school of prayer,” Pope Francis said in his general audience livestream on April 14.

“And this is an essential task of the Church: to pray and teach how to pray, to transmit from generation to generation the lamp of faith with the oil of prayer,” the pope said.

At his Wednesday audience, Pope Francis encouraged Christians to examine their lives to ensure that personal prayer is a priority. He warned that one of the devil’s tactics to attack the Church is to prevent people from praying.

“Everything in the Church originates in prayer, and everything grows thanks to prayer,” the pope said. “When the Enemy, the Evil One, wants to fight the Church, he does so first of all by trying to drain its sources by preventing it from praying.”

Speaking into the camera from the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, the pope posed a question to everyone watching his weekly broadcast: “Do you pray?” he asked.

“How do you pray? Like a parrot? Or do I pray with my heart? How do I pray? Do I pray as part of the Church and pray with the Church? Or do I pray a little according to my ideas and make my ideas become prayer? This is pagan, not Christian prayer,” he said.

Pope Francis pointed out that the life of every Catholic parish is “marked by times of liturgy and community prayer,” which he called “a great patrimony.”

“After certain passages in life, we realize that without faith, we would not have been able to get through it and that prayer has been our strength. Not only our personal prayer, but also that of our brothers and sisters and of the community that accompanied and supported us, of the people who know us, of the people we ask to pray for us,” he said.

The pope encouraged people to find strength by drawing from the “inexhaustible well of Mother Church,” as each of the saints has done throughout history.

“Holy women and men do not have an easier life than others, on the contrary, they too have their problems to face and, moreover, they are often the object of opposition. But their strength is prayer, through which they always draw from the inexhaustible well of Mother Church,” he said.

“With prayer, they feed the flame of their faith, as was done with oil from lamps. And so they go on walking in faith and hope. The saints, who often count for little in the eyes of the world, are actually those who support it, not with the weapons of money and power, media communications, and so on, but with the weapons of prayer.”

The pope explained that the strength found in prayer together is why “communities and groups dedicated to prayer flourish continuously in the Church.”

“In the Church there are monasteries, convents, hermitages, where people consecrated to God live, and these often become centers of spiritual light,” he said. “They are communities of prayer that radiate spirituality.”

The pope said that these “small oases where intense prayer is shared” are vital cells not only of the Church, but for society itself.

“Let us think, for example, of the role that monasticism played in the birth and growth of European civilization, and also in other cultures. Praying and working in community keeps the world going. It is an engine,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis stressed that without prayer, the Church becomes “like an empty shell” in which no effective changes take place and which loses its direction to evangelize.

He said: “In Luke's Gospel, Jesus poses a dramatic question that always makes us reflect: ‘When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?’”

“Or will he find only organizations, such as a group of ‘entrepreneurs of the faith,’ all well organized, who do many things for charity … but will he find faith?” the pope asked.

“Without faith, everything collapses. And without prayer, faith is extinguished. Faith and prayer, together. There is no other way. For this reason, the Church, which is a home and school of communion, is a home and school of faith and prayer,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis: ‘The Church is a great school of prayer’

Pope Francis speaks from the Apostolic Palace during his general audience livestream April 14, 2021. / Vatican Media/CNA

Vatican City, Apr 14, 2021 / 05:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Wednesday that an essential task of the Church today is to teach people how to pray.

“The Church is a great school of prayer,” Pope Francis said in his general audience livestream on April 14.

“And this is an essential task of the Church: to pray and teach how to pray, to transmit from generation to generation the lamp of faith with the oil of prayer,” the pope said.

At his Wednesday audience, Pope Francis encouraged Christians to examine their lives to ensure that personal prayer is a priority. He warned that one of the devil’s tactics to attack the Church is to prevent people from praying.

“Everything in the Church originates in prayer, and everything grows thanks to prayer,” the pope said. “When the Enemy, the Evil One, wants to fight the Church, he does so first of all by trying to drain its sources by preventing it from praying.”

Speaking into the camera from the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, the pope posed a question to everyone watching his weekly broadcast: “Do you pray?” he asked.

“How do you pray? Like a parrot? Or do I pray with my heart? How do I pray? Do I pray as part of the Church and pray with the Church? Or do I pray a little according to my ideas and make my ideas become prayer? This is pagan, not Christian prayer,” he said.

Pope Francis pointed out that the life of every Catholic parish is “marked by times of liturgy and community prayer,” which he called “a great patrimony.”

“After certain passages in life, we realize that without faith, we would not have been able to get through it and that prayer has been our strength. Not only our personal prayer, but also that of our brothers and sisters and of the community that accompanied and supported us, of the people who know us, of the people we ask to pray for us,” he said.

The pope encouraged people to find strength by drawing from the “inexhaustible well of Mother Church,” as each of the saints has done throughout history.

“Holy women and men do not have an easier life than others, on the contrary, they too have their problems to face and, moreover, they are often the object of opposition. But their strength is prayer, through which they always draw from the inexhaustible well of Mother Church,” he said.

“With prayer, they feed the flame of their faith, as was done with oil from lamps. And so they go on walking in faith and hope. The saints, who often count for little in the eyes of the world, are actually those who support it, not with the weapons of money and power, media communications, and so on, but with the weapons of prayer.”

The pope explained that the strength found in prayer together is why “communities and groups dedicated to prayer flourish continuously in the Church.”

“In the Church there are monasteries, convents, hermitages, where people consecrated to God live, and these often become centers of spiritual light,” he said. “They are communities of prayer that radiate spirituality.”

The pope said that these “small oases where intense prayer is shared” are vital cells not only of the Church, but for society itself.

“Let us think, for example, of the role that monasticism played in the birth and growth of European civilization, and also in other cultures. Praying and working in community keeps the world going. It is an engine,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis stressed that without prayer, the Church becomes “like an empty shell” in which no effective changes take place and which loses its direction to evangelize.

He said: “In Luke's Gospel, Jesus poses a dramatic question that always makes us reflect: ‘When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?’”

“Or will he find only organizations, such as a group of ‘entrepreneurs of the faith,’ all well organized, who do many things for charity … but will he find faith?” the pope asked.

“Without faith, everything collapses. And without prayer, faith is extinguished. Faith and prayer, together. There is no other way. For this reason, the Church, which is a home and school of communion, is a home and school of faith and prayer,” Pope Francis said.

EU Bishops welcome bloc's "Recovery Package"

European bishops welcome the EU “Recovery Package” to address the economic and social impact of the COVID-19.

Pope returns to his window overlooking the Square for Regina Coeli

From Sunday, 18 April, Pope Francis will be back at his window overlooking St Peter’s Square for the recitation of the Regina Coeli.