Cantalamessa Asks To Remain ‘A Simple Priest Of The Church’

Papal preacher prepares to be made a cardinal

79Papal preacher Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa at the liturgy for the Lord's Passion in St. Peter's Basilica on Good Friday, March 30, 2018. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.Papal preacher Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa at the liturgy for the Lord’s Passion in St. Peter’s Basilica on Good Friday, March 30, 2018. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

By Hannah Brockhaus

Vatican City, Nov 19, 2020 / 11:00 am MT (CNA).- For more than 60 years, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa has preached the Word of God as a priest — and he plans to continue doing so, even as he prepares to receive the cardinal’s red hat next week.

“My only service to the Church has been to proclaim the Word of God, so I believe that my appointment as cardinal is a recognition of the vital importance of the Word for the Church, more than a recognition of my person,” the Capuchin friar told CNA Nov. 19.

The 86-year-old Capuchin friar will be one of 13 new cardinals created by Pope Francis in a consistory on Nov. 28. And though it is customary for a priest to be ordained a bishop before receiving the red hat, Cantalamessa has asked Pope Francis for permission to remain “a simple priest.”

Because he is over the age of 80, Cantalamessa, who delivered exhortations to the College of Cardinals before the 2005 and 2013 conclaves, will not vote in a future conclave himself.

Being chosen to join the college is considered an honor and recognition for his faithful service over 41 years as Preacher of the Papal Household. 

Having delivered meditations and homilies to three popes, Queen Elizabeth II, many bishops and cardinals, and countless laity and religious, Cantalamessa said that he would continue as long as the Lord allows.

The Christian proclamation always requires one thing: the Holy Spirit, he said in an email interview with CNA from the Hermitage of Merciful Love in Cittaducale, Italy, his home when he is not in Rome or giving talks or sermons.

“Thus the need for every messenger to cultivate a great openness to the Spirit,” the friar explained. “Only in this way can we escape human rationales, which always try to exploit the Word of God for contingent, personal, or collective purposes.”

His advice for preaching well is to start on your knees “and ask God what is the word he wants to make resound for his people.”

You can read the full CNA interview with Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM. Cap., below: 

Is it true you asked to not be ordained a bishop before being made a cardinal in the upcoming consistory? Why did you ask the Holy Father for this dispensation? Is there a precedent?

Yes, I asked the Holy Father for a dispensation from the episcopal ordination provided for by canon law for those who are elected cardinal. The reason is twofold. The episcopate, as the name itself implies, designates the office of the person in charge of overseeing and feeding a portion of Christ’s flock. Now, in my case, there is no pastoral responsibility, so the title of bishop would have been a title without the corresponding service that it implies. Secondly, I wish to remain a Capuchin friar, in habit and in the rest, and the episcopal consecration would have legally placed me outside the order.

Yes, there have been some precedents for my decision. Several religious over the age of 80, created cardinals with the same honorary title as me, have requested and obtained dispensation from episcopal consecration, I think for the same reasons as mine. (Henri De Lubac, Paolo Dezza, Roberto Tucci, Tomáš Špidlík, Albert Vanhoye, Urbano Navarrete Cortés, Karl Josef Becker.)

In your opinion, will becoming a cardinal change something about your life? How do you intend to live after receiving this position of honor?

I believe it is the desire of the Holy Father — as it is mine too — to continue my style of life as a Franciscan religious and a preacher. My only service to the Church has been to proclaim the Word of God, so I believe that my appointment as cardinal is a recognition of the vital importance of the Word for the Church, more than a recognition of my person. As long as the Lord gives me the opportunity, I will continue to be the Preacher of the Papal Household, because this is the one thing that is required of me, even as a cardinal.

Over your many years as the papal preacher, have you changed your approach or the style of your preaching?


I was appointed to that office by John Paul II in 1980, and for 25 years I had the privilege of having him as a listener [to my sermons] every Friday morning during Advent and Lent. Benedict XVI (who even as a cardinal was always in the front row for the sermons) confirmed me in the role in 2005 and Pope Francis did the same in 2013. I believe that in this case the roles are reversed: it is the pope who, truthfully, gives a sermon to me and to the whole Church, by finding the time, despite his immense pile of commitments, to go and listen to a simple priest of the Church.

The office which I have held has made me understand firsthand a characteristic of the Word of God frequently emphasized by the Fathers of the Church: its inexhaustibility (inexhaustus, inexhaustible, was the adjective used by them), that is, its capacity to always give new answers according to the questions which are asked, in the historical and social context in which it is read.

For 41 years I have had to give the Good Friday sermon during the liturgy of the Passion of Christ in St. Peter’s Basilica. The biblical readings are always the same, yet I must say that I have never found it difficult to find a particular message in them which responded to the historic moment the Church and the world were going through; this year, the coronavirus health emergency.

You ask me if in many years my style and my approach to the Word of God has changed. Certainly! St. Gregory the Great said that “Scripture grows with the one who reads it,” meaning, it grows at the measure it is read. Advancing in years, you advance also in comprehension of the Word. In general, the tendency is to grow toward a greater essentiality, that is, the need to get always closer and closer to the truths which really matter and which change your life.

In addition to preaching at the Papal Household, during all these years I have had the occasion to speak to all kinds of audiences: from a Sunday homily given in front of about 20 people in the hermitage where I live to Westminster Abbey, where in 2015 I spoke before the general synod of the Anglican Church in the presence of Queen Elizabeth and Primate Justin Welby. This taught me to adapt to all types of audiences.

One thing remains identical and necessary in every form of Christian proclamation, even in those made through the means of social communication: the Holy Spirit! Without it everything remains a “wisdom of words” (1 Corinthians 2:1). Thus the need for every messenger to cultivate a great openness to the Spirit. Only in this way can we escape human rationales, which always try to exploit the Word of God for contingent, personal, or collective purposes. This would be “watering down,” or, according to another translation, “trading on” the Word of God (2 Corinthians 2:17).

What advice would you give to priests, religious, and other Catholic preachers? What are the principal values, the necessary elements, for preaching well?

There is advice I often give to those who must announce the Word of God, even if I am not always good at observing it myself. I say there are two ways to prepare a homily or any type of announcement. You can sit down, choosing the theme based on your experiences and knowledge; then, once the text is prepared, get on your knees and ask God to infuse his grace into your words. It is a good thing, but it is not a prophetic method. To be prophetic one must do the reverse: first, get on your knees and ask God what is the word he wants to make resound for his people. As a matter of fact, God has his word for every occasion and he does not fail to reveal it to his minister who humbly and insistently asks him for it.

At the beginning it will only be a small movement of the heart, a light that ignites in the mind, a word of the Scripture that attracts the attention and sheds light on a lived situation or an event taking place in society. It seems just a small seed, but it contains what people need to hear in that moment; at times it contains thunder which shakes even the cedars of Lebanon. After that, one can sit down at the table, open one’s books, consult notes, collect and organize one’s thoughts, consult the Fathers of the Church, the teachers, sometimes the poets; but now it is no longer the Word of God which is at the service of your culture, but your culture which is at the service of the Word of God. Only in this way does the Word manifest its intrinsic power and become that “double-edged sword” of which Scripture speaks (Hebrews 4:12).

Tags: ConsistoryCatholic NewsCollege of CardinalsCatholic ChurchPreachingFr. Raniero Cantalamessa

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Nigeria Slides Into Worst Economic Recession

Nigeria is now into its worst economic recession in three decades and this is official.

The GDP statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Saturday, shows a contraction of 3.62 percent in the third quarter of 2020.

This is the second consecutive quarterly GDP decline since the 2016 recession. The cumulative GDP for the first nine months of 2020 is -2.48 percent.

The last time Nigeria recorded such cumulative GDP was in 1987, when GDP declined by 10.8 percent.

The World Bank and NBS figures show that this is the second recession since 2015 when President Muhamadu Buhari came to power in Nigeria.

Earlier this year, the World Bank warned in a statement that the Nigerian economy is expected to plunge into severe economic recession, the worst in almost 40 years due to the collapse of oil prices and the outbreak of the coronavirus disease.

The World Bank report in June estimated that Nigeria’s economy would likely contract by 3.2% in 2020,

‘Maintain Souls, Not Stones’, Papal Nuncio In Nigeria Exhorts

By Padre Mike Nsikak Umoh, CSN, Abuja

The Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria, Archbishop Antonio Guido Filipazzi, has advised Christ’s faithful of Nsukka diocese, Southeast Nigeria to channel more efforts toward the pastoral care of Christian souls than the maintenance of stones. According to him, “the Christian souls are the temple of God, and Christians are the living Church of Jesus Christ.”
While the prelate was full of commendation for the Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Most Rev. Godfrey Onah for his doggedness in completing the work on his new magnificent Cathedral of St. Theresa’s, as well as thanking the clergy and lay faithful for their collaboration and generosity to God, he nevertheless cautioned that “this Church will remain beautiful and a house of prayer only if we continue to live by faith and prayer.”
The papal envoy lamented the situation in some erstwhile Catholic countries where magnificent Cathedral buildings built over the centuries have been turned into museums because “there are no more faithful, no more priests and no more faith.”

He therefore urged the Church in Nigeria to learn from those ugly experiences by ensuring that true faith is kept alive so that such failure does not befall their Church communities.

To further drive home his point on the need for the faithful to keep the Cathedral alive by their faith, prayer and commitment, the Italian-born Archbishop copiously quoted Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI), saying: “The spirit builds the stones, and not vice versa. The spirit cannot be replaced with money or with history.”

As a fact, “When the spirit does not build, the stones become silent. When the spirit is not alive, when it is not effective, and there is no faith, cathedrals become museums, memorials to the past,” he argues. For indeed, “If the spirit does not give, money gives in vain. It is faith alone that can keep cathedrals alive,” he concludes.

In addition, Archbishop Filipazzi also stressed the need for religious tolerance in Nigeria, affirming that “places of worship are like thermometers for the society.” He noted that, “a country where the places of worship are destroyed by violence is an indication that such country is defeated, in danger, and losing its soul.”

The historic and colourful event in Nsukka Cathedral which held on Thursday November 19, 2020 had in attendance John Cardinal Onayekan, the Bishop emeritus of Nsukka diocese, Bishop Francis Okobo, the metropolitan of Onitsha province, Archbishop Valerian Maduka Okeke, 29 other Archbishops and bishops, over 400 priests, a large number of female religious, Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, numerous other government dignitaries, royal fathers, the mother of Bishop Onah, and a sea of lay faithful from all over the diocese and beyond.

The Bishop of Nsukka, Prof. Onah was the Vice Chancellor of the Vatican University in Rome.

Kids Stealing from Parents: What You Need to Know

By Carole Banks, LCSW

Mom talking with son about stealing

Has your child been caught stealing from you or someone else? Have you found them using your credit card for online gaming, taking money from your wallet without asking, or even taking big-ticket items from your house?

The anger, disappointment, and lack of trust you feel can be destructive to your relationship. Empowering Parents coach Carole Banks has some advice.

Stealing is not about you and your parenting—it’s about your child and the inappropriate ways they’re choosing to solve their problems at the moment.

If your child has been caught stealing, you might have wondered, “Why would my child do this after everything we’ve taught them?” Many parents question their own abilities and wonder where they’ve gone wrong with their child when theft is involved.

And while it’s disappointing and frustrating for parents when their child steals, I firmly believe that in most cases, it’s a behavior that can be changed.

Younger Kids: Take it Easy

There is a big difference between children under the age of 6 taking something compared to older kids who steal. Really young kids don’t have a sense of right and wrong about this issue yet. Their brains haven’t developed enough to think outside of themselves and about others.

If your younger child has been taking things, focus on teaching them the skills of sharing. Teach them to ask for what they would like to have. And teach them to take turns.

When your child gets to be a little older, you need to coach them to say, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have taken that without asking.” But you don’t want to make them feel like they’re a bad person. And don’t label it as stealing. Instead, make it clear that taking something without asking is wrong.

Older Kids: Make Sure Crime Doesn’t Pay

If your child is nine or older and they’re taking things from you or others, you should treat the problem more seriously. As James Lehman says, “Understand that your child is using faulty thinking as a way to solve their problem.”

The “problem” might be that your ten–year–old wants a new video game but doesn’t have any money. They “solve” it by taking money from your wallet without asking. They’re probably thinking, “I need this money. Mom’s not even going to notice.”

When you catch your child using this faulty thinking, you can say:

“Just because you want something doesn’t mean it’s okay to take it without asking.”

And then ask:

“What should you do next time?”

It’s important that you don’t allow your child to keep what they took. They should never benefit in any way from taking something from someone else. You don’t ever want stealing to pay off.

Make Amends

Many parents will call parent coaching when their kids have taken something from a store. They’re worried their child will be prosecuted if they take the shoplifted item back. They decide to give the child a consequence, such as no T.V., but they allow the child to keep the stolen item.

It’s best to require your child to take the item back to the store. I understand this can be a complicated decision, depending on the age of your child and where you live. This has to be a choice you make after weighing all possible outcomes.

If you decide against having your child take it back, make sure they don’t get off scot-free. Give them consequences at home—and do not let them keep the item. You ultimately want your child to learn that when you harm someone, even if it’s the owner of a store, you should make amends directly to that person. That is why the best lesson is for your child to take the item back.

Related content: Why is My Child Stealing and What Can I Do? Advice for Parents on Kids, Stealing and Shoplifting

When Your Child Uses Your Credit Card

I’ve talked with many parents whose kids have used their credit card to buy something online. Often, they’ve used it for gaming. Even if the money is gone and cannot be retrieved, don’t let your child off the hook. They can make amends by doing something extra around the house to work it off. For example, they can clean out the basement, the garage, or do yard work.

The bottom line is that you want to try to teach your child to make amends to the person they’ve wronged. In this case, that person is you. I also recommend that you log on to your credit card account frequently—daily if necessary—to monitor your card’s activity.

When Your Child Takes Big-Ticket Items: Are Drugs Involved?

If your child is taking large amounts of money or big-ticket items from your home, I think you need to question why. If you think drugs might be involved, there are probably other signs that are telling you that your child has a problem, like changes in mood or personality. You should definitely look into the possibility that they’re taking drugs and rule it out.

If you know your child has a problem, but you haven’t been able to get them off drugs or into treatment, then consider reporting their thefts to the police to get them into the juvenile justice system. Many states have drug courts, where kids do not have to serve sentences in a juvenile detention center as long as they’re in treatment and clean. If you suspect drugs, reporting repetitive theft to the police can be a good course of action.

Here’s the truth: a child who is never made to be accountable will never learn from their mistakes. In your own home, have your kids make amends as directly to you or the injured party. This drives home the meaning of what they’ve actually done. It lets them know that their actions have caused harm to someone.

When Stealing Continues

If your child can’t stop stealing, you need to help level the playing field for them by finding out what’s causing this to happen over and over. You also might want to secure items in your home and keep your wallet in a safe place at all times until your child can learn how to solve their problems more appropriately.

I want to stress that even if you’re worried about your child’s character, don’t let them think that you feel they’re a bad, horrible person. Rather, you need to convey the opposite. They need to make amends and do the right thing because that is what good people do. You want to say things like:

“I know it’s hard, but I believe you can do it.”

When you change your opinion of your child as a person and start thinking that they’re “bad” or that there’s something wrong with their character, there is great potential to harm the relationship. Your child will sense that you have a poor opinion of them and could start to lose hope in their ability to ever change.

If your child continues to take things from you, you will need to firmly address their faulty thinking. There may be an emotional need or impulsivity that drives their behavior.

There are also many people who call the Support Line with adopted kids who steal from their families. Not all adopted kids steal, of course, but sometimes kids with traumatic backgrounds may have trouble trusting other people to meet their needs, so they take food and other items and hoard them.

When Your Child Denies the Theft

I often tell parents that if you know for sure that your child has stolen something, act with that knowledge. Just say:

“I think that you used my credit card because you wanted to download some songs from iTunes. And I’m going to ask you to make amends for that.”

If you don’t know for certain and your child denies the theft, then I don’t think you can give them a consequence. You don’t want to accuse your child of something that they haven’t done because it can end up really backfiring on you. They may act out just because you believe they’re capable of it. Basically, unless you catch your child red-handed, I wouldn’t punish them.

I understand that parents feel hurt and betrayed after their child has stolen something. But try not to take the fact that they stole personally. Stealing is not about you and your parenting. Rather, it’s about your child and the inappropriate ways they’re choosing to solve their problems at the moment.