Do Not Be Afraid
By: Evelyn Vazquez-Albino
“Then He placed His right hand on me and said: Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.” (Revelation 1:17)
Jesus said first, “Do not be afraid” This is what we need to hear in these days when many of us are so anxious. Remember, fear doesn’t glorify God. Jesus was always saying “fear not” to his frightened disciples. The Gospels record that every time they were in trouble, they expressed themselves in manifestations of fear, anxiety, worry and panic, but the Lord always came along at the right moment and said, “Fear not.” We are called to do the same.
One of the best ways to combat two of the enemy’s weapon of fear and anxiety is through the power of Scripture. Read God’s Word, and repeatedly immerse yourself in it. The more you read, the better you will understand His Word and the truth found in it. While fear may continue to show up for you, when you acknowledge and truly believe God is in control, fear and anxiety will no longer paralyze you.
New bishop named for troubled Catholic diocese in Buffalo
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — A new bishop was named Tuesday for the troubled Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.
The diocese announced that 62-year-old Washington, D.C. Auxiliary Bishop Michael William Fisher was appointed by Pope Francis. Fisher’s installation will take place Jan. 15 at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Buffalo.
The Buffalo diocese — upstate New York’s largest with 163 parishes and missions across eight counties — sought bankruptcy protection in February, citing hundreds of lawsuits filed against it since August 2019.
New York’s attorney general last week sued the diocese, former Bishop Richard Malone and another church leader, alleging they covered up allegations of sexual misconduct and misused charitable assets by supporting predatory priests who were allowed to retire or go on leave.
Malone resigned in December 2019 amid mounting calls for his ouster from his staff, priests and the public over his handling of allegations of clergy sexual misconduct. The diocese has been led on an interim basis by Albany Bishop Edward Scharfenberger.
Fisher said he was humbled by the appointment and eager to serve.
He said in a prepared statement that “though the challenges that currently confront the Diocese of Buffalo are many and significant,” people involved with the church in western New York are up to the task.
Mexico's senior Catholic leader backs civil unions for gay couples
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The Mexican Catholic Church’s highest-ranking bishop agrees with recent comments by Pope Francis in support of legal protections offered by civil unions for gay couples, the prelate told Reuters, stressing that no family member should ever be rejected.
Mexico is the second-biggest Catholic country after Brazil with around 80% of its nearly 130 million people affiliated with the church. It has historically been conservative-leaning on social issues.
Cardinal Carlos Aguiar, archbishop of Mexico City, said in an interview that he backs the pope’s comments from a documentary that premiered in October and used previously unseen footage from an interview he gave to Mexican broadcaster Televisa. The comments marked the first time a sitting pope had advocated any legal protections for gay couples.
“I completely agree,” said Aguiar, a long-time ally of Pope Francis, who spoke ahead of Saturday’s feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, one of the Mexican Church’s most important annual celebrations.
In the documentary, entitled “Francesco,” the pope says, “Homosexual people have the right to be in a family, they are children of god,” and “what we have to have is a civil union law, that way they are legally covered.”
The pope’s comments did not signal any change in church doctrine on homosexuality or support for same-sex marriage, which the Vatican emphasized after the remarks made headlines across the globe.
But Francis’ more open and inclusive tone has marked a sharp contrast with his more conservative predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.
“All of us are children of god, all are members of the family, and if we’re fighting so that families are united, regardless of their conduct, they don’t stop being our children. And that’s what Pope Francis said, everyone has the right to family,” said Aguiar.
The cardinal, who has lobbied against both abortion rights and same-sex marriage, argued that parents should never reject their openly gay children.
“Because if, as it happens unfortunately, a son in a family declares himself openly homosexual, then they don’t want to have anything to do with him. And that can’t be, it just can’t be,” he said, echoing Francis’ sentiments.
“If they decide as a matter of free choice to be with another person, to be in a union, that’s freedom,” he said.
Like the Argentine pontiff, the 70-year-old Aguiar touts landmark church reforms in the 1960s that pushed the church closer to the faithful and also embraced a social teaching aimed at alleviating human misery, while focusing less on what Aguiar called the “clerical mentality” that prioritizes the institution.
“The key point was to move away from a church that defended itself from the world,” he said.
Aguiar added that much work remains to address poverty and inequality in Mexico and the surrounding region.
“Latin America is the part of the world that’s most unequal,” he said, “and many of us here are Catholic!
“What kind of witness is that?”
Reporting by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Leslie Adler
CIUDAD DEL VATICANO (AP) — El papa Francisco proclamó el inicio del “Año de la Familia” e insistió en la importancia del controversial documento que emitió en el 2016 sobre la vida familiar.
El pontífice el domingo manifestó que a partir del 19 de marzo comenzará el año de la familia, el quinto aniversario de su documento “La Alegría del Amor”, que entre otras cosas abre la posibilidad de que parejas divorciadas o vueltas a casar por lo civil reciban la comunión, lo que desató críticas e incluso acusaciones de herejía por parte de sectores conservadores.
Francisco redactó ese documento luego de convocar a un cónclave de obispos de todo el mundo para debatir cómo la Iglesia Católica puede servir mejor a las familias. Si bien el tema de divorcios dominó los titulares, el debate en ese sínodo también versó sobre la posibilidad de incluir a personas homosexuales y otras familias “no tradicionales”.
El pontífice ofreció sus comentarios en su bendición dominical, emitida desde el interior de su estudio para que la gente no se congregue en la Plaza de San Pedro debido a la pandemia del coronavirus.
Al hacer el anuncio, Francisco ofreció consejos a las familias que se pelean, recordándoles de la importancia de decir “gracias” y “disculpa” y nunca concluir el día sin hacer las paces “porque la guerra fría que viene al día siguiente es peligrosa”.