– Tej Francis



(CNS) Following the Francigena Way, an ancient pilgrims’ path, a group of about 300 synod participants and young people from Rome parishes headed to St. Peter’s Basilica to pray at the apostle’s tomb. The wayfaring cardinals, bishops, priests and young people were stocked with small backpacks, shod with comfortable footwear, and readied with hats and water bottles to walk 3.7 miles (6 km) from an urban nature preserve to Christianity’s largest church.

Sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, the pilgrimage was held Oct. 25 as part of the Synod of Bishops on young people, faith and vocational discernment. The walk gave participants opportunities to stop for prayer and for photos, but even more, according to the pilgrimage booklet, it offered a way to experience the itinerant condition of the church, which is the people of God journeying on their way to heavenly Jerusalem.

The Synod of Bishops, too, it said, “is a sign of a journey that the community of believers wants to accomplish as a response to God’s call” to listen to his Word more closely, to renew one’s heart and profess the faith in a more “committed and responsible” way.

Pope Francis met the group of pilgrims after they streamed into St. Peter’s Basilica and he led them in a profession of the faith above the tomb of the apostle, who with his life and martyrdom, gave witness to the faith. The pope then remained for the Mass celebrated by Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, general secretary of the Synod of Bishops.



(Crux) While more than 5,000 pilgrims from El Salvador crowded St. Peter’s Square last Sunday for the long-anticipated canonization of St. Oscar Romero, some of those same attendees now have their sights on another El Salvadoran martyr in hopes that he might be next.

Jesuit Father Rutilio Grande, who was a close friend of Romero and known for his bold calls for social transformation, was assassinated three years before Romero. Grande’s death had a profound impact on Romero, leading many to believe it served as a turning point in the now saint’s life and emboldened him to use his voice as a megaphone for the poor and marginalized.

In an interview with Crux, veteran Catholic journalist and author of Rutilio Grande: A Table for All, Rhina Guidos, describes the vindication many El Salvadorans feel now that Pope Francis has formalized what they knew all along: Oscar Romero is, indeed, a saint.

Officially, Father Rutilio’s cause of beatification has been opened but there isn’t anything official being said about its advancement. Unofficially, we keep hearing that it’s heading in a good direction. But for someone so proud to be “lowly” he has friends in high places, mainly the pope, a fellow Jesuit who is said to have told Rutilio’s biographer that Rutilio’s first miracle was Romero. But, Rutilio suffered calumnies as bad as Romero’s but not under the same spotlight because he was a rural priest.



(CNA/EWTN NEWS) In recent weeks, Catholics in France and Belgium — countries still recovering from brutal ISIS attacks — have been hit with numerous acts of violence and aggression, including fires set in churches, an assault on a priest, the desecration of a tabernacle and the hacking of more than 100 Catholic websites.

In the French periodical La Provence, local priest Father Benoît Delabre reported that two weeks ago, the altar at the Church of St. Madeleine-de-l’Île was set on fire in Martigues, about 800 kilometers south of Paris. “The altar … is marble, which prevented the fire from spreading. I can’t imagine what would have happened with a wooden altar. The consequences for our church would have been tragic.”

He also said that, on May 15, another unknown person desecrated the tabernacle that contained the consecrated Hosts in the church at Jonquières in the same region. Additionally, Father Delabre himself was attacked last Sunday, by a man he caught at the church door who appeared to be “trying to steal something.”

The publication La Croix reported that, in April, more than 100 websites of churches and congregations were hacked by suspected Tunisian cyber-jihadists who call themselves the Fallaga Team.

In Belgium, on the afternoon of May 24, two fires considerably damaged the church in Mont-Sainte-Geneviève, which dates from the 16th century. The first one began in the sacristy. The firefighters had barely left the scene, after managing to control that fire, when another much bigger fire in the church roof was reported. The police from Hainut, 37 miles southeast of Brussels, are looking for the culprits.