Weekly round up: Notre Dame fragrances, St. Joseph, and haircuts for the homeless

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Happy Friday, everyone! Before you head out to enjoy the nice weekend (or the hot and humid weather like we’re supposed to have here in Chicago), let’s see what you might have missed in the news this week.

God is always on hand for us to talk to whenever we want. Priests, on the other hand, have busy schedules and may not always be around when we need them. Rest assured, Father Richard Heilman from the Madison, Wisconsin area has got you covered. He is developing an app called “My Confessor” that will let the people of his parish know when he’s available to listen to their sins. He hopes that this app will help with the declining number of priests and with time management. Hopefully this will catch on!

Speaking of sacraments, there’s been a change in the Eucharistic prayer. St. Joseph will officially grace us with his presence at Mass near you. Pope Francis gave the OK to add the saint into the usual prayer to the Virgin Mary, giving him equal billing because of his paternal care for Jesus in the priest’s prayer.

For all of you John Paul II fans out there, he’s steps away from sainthood now. Theologians at the Vatican “approved” a second miracle that is needed for becoming a saint. A woman in Costa Rica who suffered a severe brain injury and prayed to JPII was inexplicably healed. If speculations are correct, he could be named as saint as early as the beginning of October, breaking the “modern record” of the fastest time to sainthood (since it only took eight years after his death). 

I know that today is officially the first day of summer, but why not start your Christmas shopping a little earlier this year? The University of Notre Dame-branded fragrance will hit the shelves sometime in the fall (just in time for football season)! ND Gold Eau De Toilette, designed for men, and Lady Irish Eau De Parfum will let the Fighting Irish fans smell like team spirit—as if their blue and gold attire wasn’t enough before.

Going international, a request from victims of clergy sex abuse cases to investigate accused Vatican officials and their responsibility for those victims was shot down by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The outcome was expected however by the Catholic Church “given the total groundlessness of the accusation,” said Jesuit Father Frederico Lombardi, a spokesman for the Vatican. Leaders at the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests will continue fighting for the victims.

That was not, unfortunately, the only news of the sex abuse by clergy this week. This next one, however, was in favor of the victims. The Capuchin Franciscans Providence of St. Joseph ordered for the files regarding their misconducts be open to the public—an act that is being regarded by advocates as the broadest attempt of transparency by any part of the American church. Peter Isely, Midwest director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called the report "a good start" and "a very long overdue validation to victims."

Meanwhile in the Philippines, the Supreme Court is planning to discuss whether or not the law passed in December that provides contraception to the nation’s poorest women is constitutional. As the country with the third largest Catholic population in the world, many are working against the law. They definitely have their work cut out for them, seeing that more than 70 percent of surveyed Filipinos support the reproductive health law. 

With World Youth Day being only a month away, Rio de Janeiro is gearing up for all the volunteers. An estimated crowd of 2 million young pilgrims means a lot of work. Many families in Rio are opening their homes to those volunteers by letting them stay until after the event. Rio, however, isn’t as peaceful as hoped. Violent protests have raged in opposition to the increases in government spending to build stadiums for the Olympics in 2016 and the 2014 World Cup. In Rio de Janeiro on Thursday, protesters marched the streets and held signs saying, "I'd swap 10 stadiums for one decent hospital in this country" and "I'd give up the World Cup for better education in my country."

To end on a lighter note, 82-year-old Anthony Cymerys (also known as “Joe the Barber”) regained his right to continue giving free haircuts and a shave to men who are homelessness in exchange for a hug. It was a close shave with the police who tried to shut him down due to city permit and health violations. Thanks to Mayor Pedro Segarra’s intervention (and who also stopped in for a hug on June 19), Cymerys will welcome his guests every Wednesday to give them a sense of well-being.

That's all for today's weekly roundup. Enjoy your weekend and we'll see you next week!

Photo: Illustration by Angela Cox