Pray that Priests Never Use Law to Shut Door to Salvation, Pope Says
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Carol Glatz || 19 October 2017
The Pharisees and doctors of the law who claim salvation comes only from fulfilling God's laws are not just biblical figures of the past, Pope Francis said.
"There are many of them today, too. That is why praying for us priests is necessary," so that today's ministers will not close the door like the Pharisees did to people seeking God's mercy and forgiveness, he said in his homily Oct. 19 during morning Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae.
The pope reflected on the day's first reading from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans (3:21-30), in which the apostle explains only God is righteous and people are justified freely by his grace through Christ; people are justified by faith, not by works of the law.
Christians must remember that God always accompanies and always freely offers salvation, the pope said. The sign that a Christian has accepted God's grace is that he or she demonstrates love through spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Spiritual and corporal works of mercy "are the touchstone of the fulfillment of the law," he added.
This is how God wants his disciples to live so that they can also help "open the door" to God for themselves and for others, he said.
The pope also pointed to the day's Gospel reading (Lk 11:47-54), in which Jesus admonishes scholars of the law. By forgetting God is more than the source of the law, "You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter" the doorway toward salvation, the verse says.
One example of what it looks like when a priest takes away "the key of knowledge" and "closes the door," the pope said, is when a priest refuses to baptize the child of an unwed mother or a mother not married in the church. Just a few months ago, the pope said, he heard of a priest who demanded a father not be present at his child's baptism ceremony because he had been divorced.
"This happens today. The Pharisees, the doctors of the law are not things from the olden days, there are many of them today, too," he said.
For doctors of the law, the pope said, God is not a God of revelation -- a God who began a journey and walks with his people starting with Abraham.
"When one loses this close relationship with the Lord," he said, "one falls into this obtuse mentality that believes in the self-sufficiency of salvation with the fulfillment of the law."
If Christians lose their closeness with God and lack a life of prayer, he said, then they "cannot teach doctrine," much less theology and, least of all, moral theology.
All priests have a responsibility to never lose or take away "the key of knowledge" and to never shut the door to themselves and others, he said.
Ex-head of Vatican Hospital Found Guilty of Abuse of Office
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Carol Glatz || 16 October 2017
A Vatican court found the former president of the Vatican-owned pediatric hospital guilty of abuse of office for using donations belonging to the hospital's foundation to refurbish a Vatican-owned apartment used by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, former Vatican secretary of state.
Originally charged with embezzlement, Giuseppe Profiti was sentenced to one year in jail and fined 5,000 ($5,900) euros on the reduced charge, but the sentence was suspended. The three-judge tribunal dismissed charges against Massimo Spina, the hospital's former treasurer. The judgments were handed down Oct. 14.
The original indictment said Profiti, who was president of Bambino Gesu hospital from 2008 to 2015, and Spina extracted 420,000 euros for non-institutional ends from 2013 to 2014 by using hospital foundation money to refurbish Vatican property in order to benefit a construction company owned by Gianantonio Bandera. The company, Castelli Re, went bankrupt in 2014.
Profiti argued in court that the money had been an investment because the apartment's refurbished areas were to be used for fundraising events to benefit the hospital.
Vatican prosecutor, Roberto Zanotti, said in closing arguments that the deal reflected "opacity, silence and poor management" in the way Vatican assets were handled.
Cardinal Bertone, who was not asked to appear in court, had said he paid 300,000 euros from his own savings for the work; however, the hospital foundation also paid the construction company 422,000 euros. Cardinal Bertone also donated 150,000 euros to the hospital because of the loss they incurred.
Bandera had been asked to provide a six-figure "donation" to the hospital foundation, according to trial testimony. Spina testified he tried to get the "donation" from Bandera, but Bandera cited financial difficulties with the bankruptcy.
It's not the first time Profiti faced charges of financial crimes.
He had been sentenced to six months' house arrest while he was still hospital president after being found guilty in 2008 of taking bribes and kickbacks at a different job. As president of Italy's Liguria region, he was found guilty of the impropriety when assigning or promising contracts to companies bidding for providing food services to public schools and hospitals in the cities of Genoa and Savona. At least four others were found guilty in the same investigation.
Pope Tops 40 million Followers on Twitter, 5 Million on Instagram
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Matthew Fowler || 11 October 2017
Pope Francis' @Pontifex Twitter accounts reached more than 40 million followers just a few months before the fifth anniversary of when Pope Benedict XVI launched the initiative.
The papal Twitter accounts, in nine different languages, have grown by over 9 million followers in the past 12 months, representing the interest and attention of "the people -- ordinary people, Christians and non-Christians, political leaders -- for the Holy Father's tweets," the Vatican Secretariat for Communication said Oct. 11.
The accounts, it said, are a way for Pope Francis to personally connect with people around the world.
"Every day, through his tweets, Pope Francis makes himself available to men and women through social media, at times offering a spiritual thought," it said, "other times sharing with his followers a reflection on events of great significance for the international community."
The secretariat's prefect, Msgr. Dario Vigano, told Vatican Radio that "the pope takes great care of his social profiles, to such an extent that he closely and carefully checks all the tweets, which are then published."
It shows the pope's concern and "care for relationships" even over the internet, even though the pope has admitted he is not savvy with new technologies, Msgr. Vigano said. The pope knows, he said, that the web is "a network not of wires but of people."
In a recent report on Twitter by Twiplomacy.com, which ranks world leaders' impact on the social media platform, the @Pontifex accounts had the second-most followers among world leaders, only 200,000 followers behind the U.S. president, @realDonaldTrump. Since the report, both the president and the pope's followers have continued to grow, with Trump's account exceeding the 40.3 million mark, maintaining a tight lead over Pope Francis.
Twiplomacy ranked the pope as coming in third among world leaders with the most interactions and being the most influential because of his average of 41,000 retweets.
The pope also communicates digitally via Instagram, the social image channel. His account, @Franciscus, was approaching 5 million followers since its creation March 19, 2015. The majority of Instagram followers are from the ages of 25-34, with the United States and Brazil being the countries where it is most followed.
Canon Law Must Serve Vatican II Vision of the Church, Pope Says
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Cindy Wooden || 09 October 2017
The Catholic Church's Code of Canon Law is an instrument that must serve the church's pastoral mission of bringing God's mercy to all and leading them to salvation, Pope Francis said.
Just as the first full codification of Catholic Church law was carried out 100 years ago "entirely dominated by pastoral concern," so today its amendments and application must provide for a well-ordered care of the Christian people, the pope said in a message Oct. 6 to a canon law conference in Rome.
Leading canonists, as well as professors and students from all the canon law faculties in Rome, were meeting Oct. 4-7 to mark the 100th anniversary of the first systematic Code of Canon Law, which was promulgated by Pope Benedict XV in 1917.
Work on the code began under the pontificate of St. Pius X and was a response not only to the need to examine, systematize and reconcile often conflicting church norms, Pope Francis said. After the Vatican lost its temporal power, he said, St. Pius knew it was time to move from "a canon law contaminated by elements of temporality to a canon law more conforming to the spiritual mission of the church."
The 100th anniversary of the code, which was updated by St. John Paul II in 1983, should be a time to recognize the importance of canon law as a service to the church, Pope Francis said.
When St. John Paul promulgated the new law, the pope said, he wrote that it was the result of an effort "to translate into canonical language ... the conciliar ecclesiology," that is, the Second Vatican Council's vision of the church, its structure and relation to its members and the world.
"The affirmation expresses the change that, after the Second Vatican Council, marked the passage from an ecclesiology modeled on canon law to a canon law conforming to ecclesiology," Pope Francis said.
The church's law must always be perfected to better serve the church's mission and the daily lives of the faithful, which, he said, was the point of his amendments to canon law streamlining the church's process for determining the nullity of a marriage.
Canon law, he said, can and should be an instrument for implementing the vision of the Second Vatican Council.
In particular, Pope Francis said, it should promote "collegiality; synodality in the governance of the church; valuing particular churches; the responsibility of all the Christian faithful in the mission of the church; ecumenism; mercy and closeness as the primary pastoral principle; individual, collective and institutional religious freedom; a healthy and positive secularism; (and) healthy collaboration between the church and civil society in its various expressions."
Pope Announces Pre-Synod Meeting to Listen to Youths' Hopes, Doubts
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Junno Arocho Esteves || 04 October 2017
Pope Francis has invited Christian and non-Christian young people from around the world to a meeting in preparation for the Synod of Bishops on youth in 2018.
Before concluding his weekly general audience, the pope said the March 19-24, 2018, pre-synod meeting will be an opportunity for the church to listen to the hopes and concerns of young men and women.
"Through this journey, the church wants to listen to the voices, the sensibilities, the faith as well as the doubts and criticisms of young people. We must listen to young people," Pope Francis said Oct. 4.
The theme chosen by the pope for the Synod of Bishops, which will be held in October 2018, is: "Young people, faith and vocational discernment."
The general secretariat of the synod said the initiative "will allow young people to express their expectations and desires as well as their uncertainties and concerns in the complex affairs of today's world."
Young people attending the meeting will represent bishops' conferences, the Eastern Catholic churches, men and women in consecrated life and seminarians preparing for the priesthood, the general secretariat said.
The gathering also will include representatives from other Christian communities and other religions and experts in the fields of education, culture, sports and arts, who "are involved in helping young people discern their choices in life."
"The pre-synod meeting will enrich the consultation phase, which began with the publication of the preparatory document and its questionnaire, along with the launch of an online website containing a specific questionnaire for young people," the synod office said in a statement.
Conclusions drawn from the meeting, the general secretariat added, will be given to members of the Synod of Bishops "to encourage their reflection and in-depth study."
Young people attending the meeting also will take part in the Palm Sunday Mass at the Vatican March 25, coinciding with local celebrations of World Youth Day.
Pope Mourns Victims of 'senseless' Las Vegas Shooting
Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Elise Harris || 02 October 2017
On Monday, Pope Francis offered his condolences and spiritual support to victims of a deadly shooting in Las Vegas that left at least 50 people dead and hundreds more wounded when a gunman opened fire at a country music festival.
“Deeply saddened to learn of the shooting in Las Vegas, Pope Francis sends the assurance of his spiritual closeness to all those affected by this senseless tragedy,” read an Oct. 2 telegram signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
Addressed to Las Vegas Bishop Joseph Anthony Pepe, the telegram offered the Pope's encouragement for the efforts of police and emergency service personnel. Francis also assured of his prayers “for the injured and for all who have died, entrusting them to the merciful love of Almighty God.”
In what has become deadliest the mass shooting in U.S. history, more than 50 people were killed and 500 hospitalized when a shooter opened fire on the last of the three-day Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas, Nev. just after 10 p.m. Sunday night, BBC News reports.
According to the Las Vegas Police department, an more than 500 people have been hospitalized after the incident.
The death toll, which police say is only preliminary, tops last year's massacre at a nightclub in Orlando, which left 49 dead. It was also reminiscent of a deadly shooting in Paris in November 2015 that killed 89 people as part of a coordinated attack by the Islamic State that left a total of 130 people dead.
The festival, which took place along the Las Vegas Strip, was sold out, and had drawn thousands of participants to see top performers such as Eric Church, Sam Hunt, and Jason Aldean.
Identified as Stephen Paddock, 64, the shooter opened fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, raining bullets on the open-air music festival happening below. Although the local sheriff department has not given an exact number of casualties, two of the at least 50 killed were off-duty officers.
The Associated Press reports that Paddock shot and killed himself as police tried to enter his room. Officers believe he acted alone, but are unsure of his motive. They are also currently pursuing a female Asian companion, reported to be Paddock's roommate, as a “person of interest” in the incident.
In a tweet sent this morning, U.S. President Donald Trump offered his “warmest condolences and sympathies” to victims and families affected by “the terrible Las Vegas shooting.”
Various other global leaders have also voiced support and condolences, including representatives from the UK, Australia and Sweden.
In separate tweets, Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston also offered his support to victims, their families and emergency workers, asking that “God grant strength and faith to families affected by last nights violence; Lord welcome the dead into your loving embrace.”
He also prayed that God would bless all first responders “as they care for the victims of last nights' violence.”
Bishop Edward Burns of Dallas, Texas, also tweeted-out support, saying “Our prayers and concerns are with all those affected by the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas. May God, the giver of all life, sustain us.”
Source: Catholic News Agency…
Vatican and Former Vatican Auditor Give Differing Accounts of Resignation
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Cindy Wooden || 25 September 2017
The first person to serve as the Vatican's independent auditor said he was forced to resign after opponents of Pope Francis' financial reforms mounted a campaign against him.
But the Vatican press office responded Sept. 24, saying Libero Milone, "going outside his competencies, illegally hired an external company to undertake investigative activities about the private lives of representatives of the Holy See."
"This, besides being a crime, irremediably strained the trust placed in Dr. Milone," the statement said. It added that the Vatican's internal investigation of his actions was conducted with care and respect.
Without providing an explanation, the Vatican in June announced that Milone turned in a letter of resignation, which was accepted by Pope Francis. Milone had been in office just two years, although he had a five-year contract.
The position of auditor general was seen as a key component of Pope Francis' efforts to reform Vatican finances and bring greater transparency in financial dealings. According to statutes issued by Pope Francis, the auditor general has the power to audit the books of any Vatican office and reports directly to the pope.
Milone, 68, an Italian accountant and expert in corporate risk management, was chairman of Deloitte Italy and served three years as a member of the audit committee of the United Nations' World Food Program.
The Vatican statement Sept. 24 expressed surprise that Milone had gone to the news agency Reuters and other news outlets when, at the time he left the Vatican, he had agreed not to discuss the circumstances of his leaving.
Milone told Reuters his troubles had begun on the morning of Sept. 27, 2015, when he suspected that his office computer had been tampered with. He contacted an external company that had done work for him before to check for surveillance devices "because there are no such specialized people" in the Vatican.
The company discovered that his computer had been the target of an unauthorized access, and that his secretary's computer had been infected with spyware that copied files, he told Reuters.
But Archbishop Angelo Becciu, Vatican undersecretary of state, told Reuters there was proof that the outside contractor had been helping Milone to spy on others, "including me." The archbishop added, "If he had not agreed to resign, we would have prosecuted him."
Pope Says Church was Late Fighting Abuse, Promises 'zero tolerance'
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Carol Glatz || 21 September 2017
Pope Francis has endorsed an approach of "zero tolerance" toward all members of the church guilty of sexually abusing minors or vulnerable adults.
Having listened to abuse survivors and having made what he described as a mistake in approving a more lenient set of sanctions against an Italian priest abuser, the pope said he has decided whoever has been proven guilty of abuse has no right to an appeal, and he will never grant a papal pardon.
"Why? Simply because the person who does this (sexually abuses minors) is sick. It is a sickness," he told his advisory commission on child protection during an audience at the Vatican Sept. 21. Members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, including its president -- Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston -- were meeting in Rome Sept. 21-23 for their plenary assembly.
Setting aside his prepared text, the pope said he wanted to speak more informally to the members, who include lay and religious experts in the fields of psychology, sociology, theology and law in relation to abuse and protection.
The Catholic Church has been "late" in facing and, therefore, properly addressing the sin of sexual abuse by its members, the pope said, and the commission, which he established in 2014, has had to "swim against the tide" because of a lack of awareness or understanding of the seriousness of the problem.
"When consciousness comes late, the means for resolving the problem comes late," he said. "I am aware of this difficulty. But it is the reality: We have arrived late."
"Perhaps," he said, "the old practice of moving people" from one place to another and not fully facing the problem "lulled consciences to sleep."
But, he said, "prophets in the church," including Cardinal O'Malley, have, with the help of God, come forward to shine light on the problem of abuse and to urge the church to face it.
Typically when the church has had to deal with new or newly emerging problems, it has turned to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to address the issue, he said. And then, only when the problem has been dealt with adequately does the process for dealing with future cases get handed over to another dicastery, he added.
Because the problem of cases and allegations of abuse are "grave" -- and because it also is grave that some have not adequately taken stock of the problem -- it is important the doctrinal congregation continue to handle the cases, rather than turning them over directly to Vatican tribunals, as some have suggested.
However, he said, the doctrinal congregation will need more personnel to work on cases of abuse in order to expedite the "many cases that do not proceed" with the backlog.
Pope Francis told commission members he wants to better balance the membership of the doctrinal team dealing with appeals filed by clergy accused of abuse. He said the majority of members are canon lawyers, and he would like to balance out their more legalistic approach with more members who are diocesan bishops and have had to deal with abuse in their diocese.
He also said proof that an ordained minister has abused a minor "is sufficient (reason) to receive no recourse" for an appeal. "If there is proof. End of story," the pope said; the sentence "is definitive."
And, he added, he has never and would never grant a papal pardon to a proven perpetrator.
The reasoning has nothing to do with being mean-spirited, but because an abuser is sick and is suffering from "a sickness."
The pope told the commission he has been learning "on the job" better ways to handle priests found guilty of abuse, and he recounted a decision he has now come to regret: that of agreeing to a more lenient sanction against an Italian priest, rather than laicizing him as the doctrinal team recommended.
Two years later, the priest abused again, and Pope Francis said he has since learned "it's a terrible sickness" that requires a different approach.
Cardinals Müller, Sarah Urge Unity, Charity in Liturgical Matters
Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Elise Harris || 15 September 2017
Cardinals Gerhard Müller and Robert Sarah encouraged unity over partisanship at a conference held in Rome Thursday to mark the 10th anniversary of Benedict XVI's motu proprio on the “extraordinary form” of the Roman liturgy.
“We must also overcome the tensions and polarizations,” Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told CNA Sept. 14. He noted that some in the Church say “we belong to this party,” while others say “we belong to that party.”
“That is not Catholic,” he said, and stressed the need to understand the liturgy “in the context (of) and with a deep understanding of the fundamentals; what is the essence, what is the substance of the liturgy?”
Cardinal Müller was a keynote speaker at the Fifth Roman Colloquium on Summorum Pontificum, which was held in thanksgiving for the 10th anniversary of the motu proprio.
Other keynote speakers at the event included Archbishop Guido Pozzo, Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, and Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
Summorum Pontificum widened access to use of the older form, or “Tridentine” liturgy. It established that the post-Vatican II Roman Missal, first issued by Blessed Paul VI, is the ordinary form of the Roman Rite, and that the prior version, last issued by St. John XXIII in 1962, the “Tridentine Mass,” is the Roman Rite's “extraordinary form.”
In the motu proprio, Benedict noted that the “extraordinary form” of the Mass was never abrogated. He acknowledged the right of all priests of the Roman Rite to say Mass using the Roman Missal of 1962, and established that parish priests should be willing say the extraordinary form for groups of the faithful who request it.
By publishing the motu proprio, Benedict XVI “wanted to overcome the tensions which came out of the reform of the liturgy” following the Second Vatican Council, Cardinal Müller said.
The main objective of the reform, he said, was “not a change of the fundamentals of the liturgy as an objective praise of God.”
“The liturgy we have now is the same substance, the same liturgy, as in the older form, the extraordinary form,” he said, reiterating that “the substance, the constitutive elements, are the same.”
Cardinal Müller said the Church must look to the new rite “altogether, in this new synthesis,” rather than falling into division.
Liturgy, he said, “is a participation in the work of salvation, it is a participation of the life of...Jesus Christ … and in the Holy Spirit, who is present in all life and all the sacramental actions of the Catholic Church.”
During his address, Cardinal Sarah also emphasized the importance of avoiding division in the Church and focusing on unity, and opened by saying, “God wants the unity of His Church, for which we pray in every Eucharistic celebration.”
With Summorum Pontificum, Benedict XVI “wanted to establish a sign of reconciliation in the Church, one that has brought much fruit,” he said.
“We are called to continue to pursue this path of reconciliation and unity, as an ever-living witness of Christ in today's world.”
Cardinal Sarah's address focused on silence and the primacy of God in the liturgy. He stated that “silence of heart, mind and soul” are the key to achieving “full, conscious and actual participation” in the liturgy, which was the very goal of the liturgical movement.
Pointing to the “scandal of the divisions” in the Church following the liturgical reform following the Second Vatican Council, Cardinal Sarah said Summorum Pontificum has done a lot to mend these divisions, but noted that there is also “more to do to achieve the reconciliation Pope Benedict XVI so desired, and which work Pope Francis has continued.”
“We must pray and work so to achieve that reconciliation for the good of souls, for the good of the Church and so that our Christian witness and mission to the world may be ever stronger.”
The extraordinary form ought to be seen as “a normal part of the life of the Church of the twenty-first century,” he said. And while statistically the number of people who attend the older form might, as predicted by Benedict XVI, stay a minority, “there should be no competition between the more recent rites and the older ones of the one Roman rite.”
“Both should be a natural element of the life of the Church in our times,” he said, adding that “Christ calls us to unity, not division! We are brothers and sisters in the same faith no matter which form of the Roman rite we celebrate!”
Offering a “paternal word” to all those attached to the traditional rite, Cardinal Sarah noted that many people refer to them as “traditionalists,” and that even those who attend Masses in the old rite refer to themselves as such, “or hyphenate yourselves in a similar way.”
“Please do this no longer,” he said. “You do not belong in a box on the shelf or in a museum of curiosities. You are not traditionalists: you are Catholics of the Roman Rite as am I and as is the Holy Father.”
As members of the Catholic Church, those who are drawn to the extraordinary form of the Mass “are called by God, as is every baptized person, to take your full place in the life and mission of the Church in the world of today, not to be shut up in – or worse, to retreat into – a ghetto in which defensiveness and introspection reign and stifle the Christian witness and mission to the world you too are called to give.”
If experiencing 10 years of Summorum Pontificum has meant anything, “it means this,” he said, and told his audience that “if you have not yet left behind the shackles of the ‘traditionalist ghetto,’ please do so today. Almighty God calls you to do this.”
Source: Catholic News Agency…
Council of Cardinals Says More Youth, Women Needed in Roman Curia
Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Elise Harris || 13 September 2017
One of the key talking points in the latest round of meetings for the Pope's Council of Cardinals was the selection of personnel in the Roman Curia, with an emphasis on making it more international, and with a higher number of young people and women.
The cardinals gathered for the 21st time in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace from Sept. 11-13 to discuss the ongoing reform of the Roman Curia.
Commonly referred to as the “C9,” the group was established by Pope Francis after his election as Bishop of Rome in 2013 to advise him in matters of Church governance and reform.
Absent from this week's meetings were Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa and Cardinal George Pell, Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.
In comments to journalists during a Sept. 13 press briefing, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said that as of now, no one is stepping in for Cardinal Pell during his leave of absence while facing charges for abuse in Australia.
Pope Francis himself was absent for the first day of meetings due to his recent trip to Colombia, but was present for the rest of the sessions apart from Wednesday morning, when he was at the weekly general audience.
In addition to reviewing the status of previous proposals given to the Pope regarding the reform of the Curia, members also took time for a special reflection on past speeches Francis has given on the topic.
Texts examined in the previous round of meetings, which took place in June, included proposals for the dicasteries for Interreligious Dialogue, Eastern Churches, Legislative Texts, and the three courts of the Roman Curia: the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Apostolic Signatura, and the Roman Rota.
Led by Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, the reflection focused primarily on the speeches given by the Pope during his annual Christmas audiences with the Roman Curia, the consistories of February and October 2015, and his speech for the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops in 2015.
In his comments to the press, Burke said specific themes discussed by the cardinals were the role of the Curia as “an instrument of evangelization and service for the Pope and the local Churches,” decentralization, the role of apostolic nunciatures, and the “selection and competence” of curial personnel.
Specifically, Burke said four points were brought up in regards to Curia personnel -- that the Curia be “less clerical, more international” and that there is “an increase in young people and women” among their ranks.
The role of young people, laity, and women is something Pope Francis has emphasized strongly throughout his pontificate, as is the need for a more international Church that is less “Euro-centric.”
In fact, the laity, youth, and women were key groups Francis brought up to the bishops of Latin America in his audience with CELAM during his visit to Colombia, in which he said they are the faces of hope on the continent.
In his speech to the Curia Dec. 22, 2016, which is among the texts reflected on by the C9, Pope Francis said that when it comes to curial officials, “in addition to priests and consecrated persons, the catholicity of the Church must be reflected in the hiring of personnel from throughout the world.”
This “catholicity” must also be reflected in the presence of “permanent deacons and lay faithful carefully selected on the basis of their unexceptionable spiritual and moral life and their professional competence,” he said.
In this view, “it is fitting to provide for the hiring of greater numbers of the lay faithful, especially in those dicasteries where they can be more competent than clerics or consecrated persons.”
He also stressed that “of great importance is an enhanced role for women and lay people in the life of the Church and their integration into roles of leadership in the dicasteries, with particular attention to multiculturalism.”
In addition to curial personnel, the cardinals also discussed Pope Francis' recent motu proprio Magnum principium, which gave more power to local bishops in the translation and approval of liturgical texts, and its implications for the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, also addressed the group, speaking about updates in his dicastery.
Later this afternoon, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, will address the group on the latest work of the dicastery, which was a focus of June's meetings.
The cardinals also re-read the statutes of the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, which was established in 2016, and is headed by Cardinal Kevin Farrell.
Cardinal Farrell also made an appearance at the C9 meetings, and gave his fellow prelates an update on the dicastery's work. Cardinal Sean O'Malley also briefed the group on the most recent work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which he was tapped to lead in 2014.
Cardinal O'Malley is slated to meet with the Pope individually later this afternoon. In response to journalists, Burke said the meeting would naturally involve the commission's work, but would also touch on other topics.
The Council of Cardinals' next round of meetings is set to take place Dec. 11-13.
Source: Catholic News Agency…
At Final Mass in Colombia, Pope Calls for Change of Culture
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By David Agren || 10 September 2017
Pope Francis capped a five-day trip to Colombia with a call for culture change in a country attempting to pursue a path of peace and reconciliation after decades of armed conflict and centuries of social exclusion.
The pope issued his call in Cartagena, on Colombia's Caribbean Coast, where he remembered St. Peter Claver and urged the country to follow the example set centuries earlier by the priest, who tended to slaves arriving on ships by showing kind gestures and dignity.
"We are required to generate 'from below' a change in culture, so we respond to the culture of death and violence with the culture of life and encounter," Pope Francis said Sept. 10, prior to returning to Rome.
"How many times have we 'normalized' the logic of violence and social exclusion, without prophetically raising our hands or voices?" Pope Francis asked. "Alongside St. Peter Claver were thousands of Christians, many of them consecrated, but only a handful started a countercultural movement of encounter."
The final Mass, celebrated at the docks and full of up-tempo music and worship, reiterated many of the themes Pope Francis raised throughout his trip to Colombia: peace, reconciliation and social inclusion, to name but three.
He also invoked the motto for his trip, "Let's take the first step." The motto speaks to the collective action needed pull together a country polarized by class divisions, social inequality and how to implement a recently approved peace accord. The accord between the government and guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, is not universally popular, though the pursuit of peace is.
But Pope Francis pleaded with Colombians to play their personal part in achieving peace and for Catholics to set the example by living their Christian values.
"We pray to fulfil the theme of this visit: 'Let us take the first step!' And may this first step be in a common direction. To 'take the first step' is, above all, to go out and meet others, with Christ the Lord," Pope Francis said.
"If Colombia wants a stable and lasting peace, it must urgently take a step in this direction, which is that of the common good, of equity, of justice, of respect for human nature and its demands," he continued.
"Only if we help to untie the knots of violence will we unravel the complex threads of disagreements. The Lord is able to untie that which seems impossible to us, and he has promised to accompany us to the end of time and will bring to fruition all our efforts."
During his Sept. 6-10 visit, Pope Francis heard the voice of victims and victimizers. At the Mass in Cartagena, he departed from his prepared remarks to denounce the illegal drug business, which has spurred violence in the Andean region -- where coca is grown -- and beyond.
"I strongly condemn this scourge which has put an end to so many lives and is sustained by unscrupulous men," Pope Francis said. "I'm making a call so that we explore all ways to end narcotics trafficking. The only thing it has done is sow death all over the place, truncating so many hopes and destroying so many families."
Pope Francis titled his homily, "Dignity of the person and human rights," and he listed a litany of indignities harming the country and much of the region: money laundering and financial speculation, resource exploitation and destruction of the environment, along with "The overlooked tragedy of migrants."
He again spoke of the necessity of seeking truth and providing justice for those wronged in Colombia to reconcile its recent past, which is marred by an armed conflict leaving 220,000 dead and millions more displaced.
"Deep historic wounds necessarily require moments where justice is done, where victims are given the opportunity to know the truth, where damage is adequately repaired and clear commitments are made to avoid repeating those crimes," he said.
"No collective process excuses us from the challenge of meeting, clarifying, forgiving."
Pope Arrives to Help Promote Healing in Colombia, Scarred by War
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By David Agren || 07 September 2017
Pope Francis arrived in Colombia Sept. 6 for a five-day visit to promote reconciliation in a deeply Catholic country scarred and reticent to offer forgiveness after decades of war.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and his wife, Maria Clemencia Rodriguez Munera, welcomed the pope at the airport. Children in traditional costumes presented him with flowers, and the pope greeted members of the Colombian military, including soldiers injured in the line of duty.
In a gesture to promote the themes of peace and reconciliation, he was given a dove by a boy named Emmanuel, who was born in a guerrilla camp to Colombian politician Clara Rojas, kidnapped in 2002 and released nearly six years later.
With no speeches at the airport, Santos walked Pope Francis to a shiny new popemobile made in Colombia for the occasion. The pope rode 10 miles to the Vatican nunciature in the open-sided vehicle, slowing or completely stopping frequently to greet the hundreds of thousands of people who lined the streets.
At the nunciature, an estimated 2,000 people gathered on the sidewalks, street and on a large makeshift stage to give him a rousing welcome in song and dance.
Each evening of the pope's visit was to feature different groups meeting the pope outside the nunciature, where he is staying. The first night featured a group of Catholic couples and priests who reach out to families in difficulty and a choir, band and dance troop formed by "at-risk youths," many of whom had lived on the streets or struggled with drug addiction.
Pope Francis thanked the young people for their happiness, joy and enthusiasm, but especially for the efforts they have made to overcome their pasts. "This is called heroism," he told them.
The young people gave the pope a "ruana," a thick wool poncho, which he promptly put on. The organization the youths belong to told the press that the ruana was meant to symbolize both Colombia's warm embrace of Pope Francis, but also the toil and commitment of the youths who work in the group's artisan program.
On the 12-hour flight from Rome, Pope Francis told reporters that the trip was "to help Colombia go forward in its journey of peace."
Expectations for Pope Francis' visit were running high among Colombian Catholics. It was the first papal trip to Colombia since 1986, when St. John Paul II visited.
Pope Francis arrived after the signing of a peace accord promising to put Colombia on a path of ending more than 50 years of armed conflict. Just days before the visit, the government and the National Liberation Army, a Marxist organization carrying out crimes like kidnapping and bombings, agreed to a four-month cease-fire.
Challenges remain, especially as many Colombians -- including Catholics and those of conservative persuasions -- object to the idea of demobilized Marxist guerrillas accused of atrocities receiving reduced punishments and even participating in politics. Those persecuted by paramilitaries voice similar misgivings.
"We are expecting that the pope brings a lot of hope," said Msgr. Hector Fabio Henao, director of Caritas Colombia. "The pope arrives at a time when reconciliation is the greatest challenge. We hope that his message touches the hearts of those who have suffered due to this conflict."
The papal trip carries the motto: "Let's take the first step," purposely chosen to convey a sense of collective involvement in the country's peace process.
"The motto of the apostolic trip says exactly what we are expecting: Let's take the first step," said Auxiliary Bishop Juan Carlos Cardenas Toro of Cali. "This first step by the pope, stepping off the flight to come closer to this nation, which has suffered, is something for us that opens the door to hope."
The Colombian government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by its Spanish acronym as FARC, reached a peace accord in 2016, in which the FARC agreed to demobilize. The agreement has proved polemical, even though violence perpetrated by guerrilla groups, government soldiers and paramilitaries has left an estimated 220,000 dead and millions more displaced.
Catholics are divided on the peace accord, and Colombian bishops have stayed on the sidelines, while encouraging the laity to voice their opinions. Many conservative Catholics, along with evangelicals, argued the deal included provisions harmful to the traditional family -- a charge denied by peace accord proponents; opponents turned out to defeat the deal in a plebiscite.
The accord later was reworked and approved in Congress. People say they want peace, but disagree -- often strongly -- on how to pursue it
"The church itself reflects the divisions in Colombian society," said Jesuit Father Mauricio Garcia Duran. "The pope comes to Colombia in a context of polarization."
The papal visit touches on themes important to the country and church. In the capital, Bogota, Sept. 7, the pope was to celebrate a Mass focused on young people. Up to 1 million people were expected to attend.
The pope was to travel Sept. 8 to Villavicencio -- gateway to the at-times neglected southern half of Colombia -- where he was to pray with 6,000 victims of violence and was expected to call for reconciliation. That call for reconciliation was to include a call to reconcile with creation; indigenous peoples from the Amazon and lands increasingly exploited by mining and natural resource extraction were invited.
The following day, Pope Francis was to address clergy and religious in the city of Medellin. He also was scheduled to visit a Catholic orphanage.
Pope Francis was to end his visit to Colombia on the Caribbean coast in the city of Cartagena. There he was expected to address the church's controversial role in the slave trade.
He also was to recite the Angelus at a shrine to St. Peter Claver, a Jesuit who worked to stop slavery.
Contributing to this story was Cindy Wooden in Bogota.
In New Book, Pope Upholds Traditional Marriage Between a Man and a Woman, Need to Help Sinners
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Carol Glatz || 01 September 2017
By virtue of its very definition, marriage can only be between a man and a woman, Pope Francis said in a new book-length interview.
"We cannot change it. This is the nature of things," not just in the church, but in human history, he said in a series of interviews with Dominique Wolton, a 70-year-old French sociologist and expert in media and political communication.
Published in French, the 417-page book, "Politique et Societe" ("Politics and Society") was to be released Sept. 6. Catholic News Service obtained an advance copy, and excerpts appeared online.
When it comes to the true nature of marriage as well as gender, there is "critical confusion at the moment," the pope said.
When asked about marriage for same-sex couples, the pope said, "Let's call this 'civil unions.' We do not joke around with truth."
Teaching children that they can choose their gender, he said, also plays a part in fostering such mistakes about the truth or facts of nature.
The pope said he wondered whether these new ideas about gender and marriage were somehow based on a fear of differences, and he encouraged researchers to study the subject.
Pope Francis also said his decision to give all priests permanent permission to grant absolution to those who confess to having procured an abortion was not meant to trivialize this serious and grave sin.
Abortion continues to be "murder of an innocent person. But if there is sin, forgiveness must be facilitated," he said. So often a woman who never forgets her aborted child "cries for years without having the courage to go see a priest."
"Do you have any idea the number of people who can finally breathe?" he asked, adding how important it was these women can find the Lord's forgiveness and never commit this sin again.
Pope Francis said the biggest threat in the world is money. In St. Matthew's Gospel, when Jesus talked about people's love and loyalty being torn between two things, he didn't say it was between "your wife or God," it was choosing between God or money.
"It's clear. They are two things opposed to each other," he said.
When asked why people do not listen to this message even though it has been clearly condemned by the church since the time of the Gospels, the pope said it is because some people prefer to speak only about morality.
"There is a great danger for preachers, lecturers, to fall into mediocrity," which is condemning only those forms of immorality that fall "below the belt," he said.
"But the other sins that are the most serious: hatred, envy, pride, vanity, killing another, taking away a life ... these are really not talked about that much," he said.
"The most minor sins are the sins of the flesh," he said, because the flesh is weak. "The most dangerous sins are those of the mind," and confessors should spend more time asking if a person prays, reads the Gospel and seeks the Lord.
One temptation the church has always been vulnerable to, the pope said, is being defensive because it is scared.
"Where in the Gospels does the Lord say that we need to seek security? Instead he said, 'Risk, go ahead, forgive and evangelize.'"
Another temptation, he said, is to seek uniformity with rules, for example, in the debate concerning his apostolic exhortation on the family, "Amoris Laetitia."
"When I talk about families in difficulty, I say, 'Welcome, accompany, discern, integrate ...' and then everyone will see the doors open. In reality, what happens is you hear people say, 'They cannot receive Communion.' 'They cannot do this and that.'"
That temptation of the church to emphasize "no, no and no" and what is prohibited is the same "drama Jesus (experienced) with the Pharisees."
This closed, fundamentalist mindset like Jesus faced is "the battle I lead today with the exhortation."
Jesus followed "another logic" that went beyond prohibitions as he did not adhere to customs -- like not touching lepers and stoning adulterers -- that had become like commandments, he said.
Church leaders are used to "frozen norms" and "fixed standards," but when they ask, "'Can we give Communion to divorcees?' I reply, 'Speak with the divorced man and woman, welcome, accompany, integrate and discern," which opens a path and a way of communication to lead people to Christ.
Encountering Christ is what leads people onto a path of living a moral life, he said.
When asked about the church's "just-war" theory, the pope said the issue should be looked into because "no war is just. The only just thing is peace."
Concerning the persecution of Christians, particularly in the East, and the question of why God would allow such tragedy, the pope said, "I do not know where God is, but I know where man is in this situation. Men make weapons and sell them."
It is easy for people to question God, he said, but "it is we who commit all this" and allow it to happen; "our humanity is corrupted."
Speaking about women, the pope said they have an important role in society because they help unify and reconcile people.
Some people mistake women's demands to be represented and heard in the world with a kind of "machoism in a skirt," but machoism is a form of "brutality" and does not represent what women should be.
He said with the reform of the Roman Curia, "there will be many women who will have decision-making power," not just roles as advisers.
While he said he believes he will succeed in opening up more positions to women in the curia, it will be difficult and there will be problems -- not because of misogyny, but because of "the problem of power."
When Pope Francis and the French interviewer talked about differences between the Argentines and the French, the pope said, "Argentines are quite fond of psychoanalysis."
The pope praised those psychoanalysts who are able to be "open to humanism and to dialogue with other sciences," particularly medicine and homeopathy.
"Those whom I have known have helped me a lot at one point in my life when I needed consultation," he said, describing how met with a Jewish psychoanalyst once a week for six months when he was 42 "to clear up certain things."
"She was very good. Very professional as a doctor and psychoanalyst" and "she helped me so much."
Pope: God Wants People to Dream Big, Not Listen to Cynics
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Carol Glatz || 30 August 2017
God wants people to live with hope and joy -- not bitterness -- and to dream with him of a better world, Pope Francis said.
"Please, make sure we do not pay attention to disappointed and unhappy people; let us not listen to those who cynically plead not to cultivate hope in life," he said Aug. 30 during his weekly general audience.
People must ignore those who try to crush enthusiasm and smother "youthful euphoria," he said. Instead, Christians must cultivate a "healthy utopia" based on what God wants for the world.
"God wants us to be able to dream like he does and, with him as we journey, to be quite attentive to reality -- dreaming of a different world," he said.
Continuing his series of audience talks on Christian hope, the pope reflected on a reading from the Gospel of St. John (1:35-43), which describes how the first disciples heard of Jesus and wished to follow him.
Jesus asked the first two men, "What are you looking for?" because he sensed a healthy restlessness in their young hearts, Pope Francis said.
In fact, the pope said, young people who are not seeking something or looking for meaning in life "are not young, they have gone into retirement, they have aged before their time. It's sad to see young people in retirement."
Throughout the Gospels, he said, Jesus responds to the people he meets along the way; he is like an "arsonist," the pope said, setting people's hearts ablaze.
The intense joy Jesus ignites in those he encounters is the wellspring of every vocation, the pope said, whether it be marriage, consecrated life or the priesthood.
In that first encounter, Jesus "gives us new joy and hope and leads us -- even through trials and difficulties -- to an ever-fuller encounter with him and fullness of joy."
Jesus doesn't want people who walk reluctantly behind him, the pope said. "Jesus wants people who have experienced that being with him gives immense joy that can be renewed each day in life."
Any disciple who does not carry joy in his or her heart "does not evangelize in this world."
People do not become preachers of God's word by "sharpening the weapons of rhetoric," the pope said. "You can talk and talk and talk," but it will not make a difference if that bright light of joy is missing from one's eyes.
At the end of the general audience, the pope met with three soccer players, who survived a devastating airplane crash in 2016 that killed all of their teammates.
The charter flight for the Brazil's Chapecoense soccer team was headed from Bolivia to Colombia for the 2016 South American Cup finals. The crash, caused by an exhausted fuel supply, killed 71 of the 77 passengers, which included players, coaching staff, journalists and guests. Only three players and three others survived.
The pope blessed the surviving players, and he greeted and hugged family members of the deceased and the team's current players. David Plinio de Nes, team president, told Vatican Radio that "Pope Francis has let us feel his love since the tragic moment of the plane accident" and has given them the strength to go on.
Video Shows ISIS Destroying Catholic Church, Threatening the Vatican
Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Hannah Brockhaus || 25 August 2017
A new video has been released showing ISIS militants in the Philippines threatening to come to Rome as they desecrate a Catholic church.
Filmed in the Philippine city of Marawi, the video shows militants shooting and setting fires within a church, as they destroy a crucifix and statues of Mary and St. Joseph.
One jihadist tears up photos of Pope Francis and Benedict XVI while saying, “Remember this, you kuffar [non-Muslims] – we will be in Rome, we will be in Rome, inshallah [god willing].”
Over the footage, another narrator can be heard saying “after all their efforts, it would be the religion of the cross that would be broken. The crusaders’ enmity toward the Muslims only served to embolden a generation of youth.”
The video, distributed by the pro-ISIS media organization Al Hayat, also contains graphic footage of fighting in the besieged Philippine city, including dead Philippine soldiers and militants shooting AK-47s as a narrator encourages Muslims in East Asia to come to the city “to perform jihad.”
Since May 23, militants of the Maute group, which formed in 2012 and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in 2015, have been fighting against government forces for control of the city of Marawi on the island of Mindanao.
Violence began after a failed army and police raid to capture Isnilon Hapilon, a local Islamist leader. The initial attack launched by Maute burned several buildings, including the Catholic cathedral and the bishop’s residence.
The majority of the city’s 200,000 people – mostly Muslim – have fled since its occupation. At least 400 people have been killed in the fighting as of mid-July, though numbers haven't been updated since.
On Aug. 24, government forces recaptured the city's Grand Mosque, where it had been believed that as many as 40 civilian hostages were being held by militants, though no militants or hostages were found.
Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said in a briefing that the retaking of the Grand Mosque, located in the central area of Marawi, was “a significant development,” despite recovering no hostages.
The government has said some of the militants fighting in Marawi appear to be from abroad, including countries like Russia, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Officials say there are also indications that other slain militants have come from the Middle East.
The fighting has fueled fears that the Islamic State is attempting to set up a regional base in Southeast Asia.
Source: Catholic News Agency…
The Vatican II Liturgical Reform is ‘irreversible’: Pope Francis
Catholic News Agency (CNA) || 24 August 2017
On Thursday Pope Francis told a group of Italian liturgists that while the process of implementing the liturgical reform following Vatican II has been a long and at times bumpy task, the reform is “irreversible.”
“After this magisterium, after this long journey we can affirm with certainty and with magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible,” the Pope said Aug. 24 at the Vatican's Paul VI Hall to participants in the Italian National Liturgical Week.
The week, which this year is exploring the theme “A living liturgy for a living Church”, is organized by the Center for Liturgical Action.
Pope Francis noted that the center has existed for 70 years, and recalled the history of the 20th century liturgical movement, saying that “in the history of the liturgy, events have occurred which are substantial and not superficial.”
“There are two directly related events, the Council and the reform, which did not blossom suddenly, but after long preparation,” Francis said.
He referenced steps taken both by St. Pius X, who aimed to restore Gregorian chant with his 1903 motu proprio Tra le sollecitudini and who formed a commission on liturgical renewal ten years later; and by Venerable Pius XII, who introduced a revised psalter, attenuated the Eucharistic fast, allowed some use of the vernacular in ritual, and reformed Holy Week.
Francis also referred to Ven. Pius XII's 1947 encyclical on the sacred liturgy, Mediator Dei. In that document the late Pope had said, among other things, that “one would be straying from the straight path were he to wish the altar restored to its primitive tableform” and that the assertion that priests cannot offer Mass at different altars at the same time is among “certain exaggerations and over-statements which are not in agreement with the true teaching of the Church.”
These culminated, Francis argued, in Vatican II's constitution on the sacred liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, “whose lines of general reform respond to real needs and to the concrete hope of a renewal; it desired a living liturgy for a Church completely vivified by the mysteries celebrated.”
He asserted that the direction traced by the Second Vatican Council “took form according to the principle of respect for sound tradition and legitimate progress in the liturgical books promulgated by Blessed Paul VI.”
The application of these changes is a lengthy process and is still ongoing, he said, noting that this is in part because “it is not enough to reform the liturgical books; the mentality of the people must be reformed as well.”
The reformation of liturgical texts “introduced a process that demands time, faithful reception, practical obedience, and wise implementation” not only from ordained ministers, but from all who participate in the liturgy, he said. “In truth, we know, the liturgical education of pastors and the faithful is a challenge to be faced ever anew.”
Seeming to acknowledge the varied reception of the liturgical reforms which followed Vatican II, he quoted from a 1977 address of Bl. Paul VI to a consistory of cardinals declaring that “The time has now come definitely to leave aside divisive ferments.”
“And today, there is still work to do in this direction, in particular rediscovering the reasons for the decisions made with the liturgical reform, overcoming unfounded and superficial readings, partial receptions, and practices that disfigure it,” he declared.
“It is not a matter of rethinking the reform by reviewing its choices, but of knowing better the underlying reasons, even through historical documentation, of internalizing its inspirational principles and of observing the discipline that governs it.”
This comes as Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, has in recent years called a “reform of the reform” a “spiritual necessity”, saying its possibility or desirability cannot be dismissed and that “that there has been an increasing amount of critical study by faithful sons and daughters of the Church asking whether what was in fact produced truly implemented the aims of [Sacrosanctum Concilium], or whether in reality they went beyond them.”
Having iterated the irreversibility of the liturgical reform, Pope Francis then turned to the theme of the liturgical week, “ A living liturgy for a living Church”.
The Church sought a liturgy that was “alive” and helped the Church to become “fully enlivened by the celebrated mysteries,” he said.
Quoting Sacrosanctum Concilium, he said faithful shouldn't go to the liturgy “as strangers or silent spectators; on the contrary, through a good understanding of the rites and prayers they should take part in the sacred action conscious of what they are doing, with devotion and full collaboration.”
Pope Francis then outlined three key points to living the liturgy, which he said is centered on Christ, involves the entire people of God, and serves as a school of Christian life.
The liturgy “is alive” thanks to the sacrifice of Christ, who through his death and resurrection gave us new life, the Pope said, explaining that without “the real presence of the mystery of Christ, there is no liturgical vitality.”
“As without a heartbeat there is no human life, so without the beating heart of Christ no liturgical action exists,” he said.
Going on, Francis said the liturgy is also a source of life “for the entire people of the Church,” and because of this, her nature is in fact “popular” and not “clerical,” since it's ultimately an action “for the people, but also by the people.”
Even in her many liturgical prayers the Church recalls that the liturgy itself is an action of God for the good of the people, but it's also an action from the people, “who listen to God” and praise him through the various signs they perform.
The Church, he said, gathers together all those whose heart is open to hearing the Gospel, including “the small and the great, the rich and the poor, children and elderly, healthy and sick, the just and sinners.” Thus, in Christ the liturgical assembly surpasses “every boundary of age, race, language and nation.”
In fact, the Pope said the “popular” scope of the liturgy “reminds us that it is inclusive and not exclusive, advocating communion with all but without being homologous.”
Finally, Francis said the liturgy serves as a “school of Christian life,” which initiates a process of “transforming the way of thinking and acting, and not filling a bag of it's own ideas about God.”
“The liturgy is life and not an idea to understand,” he said. Nor is it “a doctrine to understand or a rite to complete.”
“It's naturally also this but in another way, it's essentially different: it's a source of life and light for our journey of faith.”
Pope Francis closed his address by telling attendees that the Church is only truly alive if she “brings life, is mother and is missionary, going out to meet the other, urging to service without pursuing worldly powers that make it sterile.”
He also noted that the “richness” of the liturgy extends beyond the Roman Rite, and pointed to the liturgical “harmony” the Catholic Church shares with Eastern rites.
“The harmony of the ritual traditions, from East to West, by the breath of the same Spirit gives voice to the one prayer for Christ, with Christ and in Christ, for the glory of the Father and for the salvation of the world,” he said.
Francis closes his speech noting that in the effort to promote liturgical reform, “fatigue is not lacking, but neither is joy!” and asked participants to help not only pastors, but all who participate in the liturgy, “to cooperate so that the liturgy is the source and culmination of the vitality of the Church.”
Elise Harris contributed to this report.
Source: Catholic News Agency…
'Arbitrary expulsions' Won't Solve the Migration Crisis, Pope Says
Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Elise Harris || 21 August 2017
In his message for the next World Day of Migrants and Refugees, Pope Francis outlined a four-step vision for responding to the ongoing global migration crisis, which he said is a “sign of the times” that can't be solved by simply expelling incoming foreigners, but rather by upholding human dignity.
Pointing to the “lamentable situation” of the many migrants and refugees who flee war, persecution, natural disasters and poverty in their homelands, the Pope said the scenario “is undoubtedly a sign of the times” which he has tried to draw attention to since his election as the Successor of Peter in 2013.
He has consistently spoken out about the issue from the beginning with his July 8, 2013, visit to Lampedusa, up to the formation of the new dicastery for Integral Human Development in January 2017.
“Every stranger who knocks at our door is an opportunity for an encounter with Jesus Christ, who identifies with the welcomed and rejected strangers of every age,” Francis said in his message, released Aug. 21.
The Church in particular is asked to show solidarity with those who leave their countries in search of a better life, he said, stressing that this solidarity “must be concretely expressed at every stage of the migratory experience – from departure through journey to arrival and return.”
Part of this involves a four-step response to the crisis which Pope Francis said can be summed up with four verbs: “to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate.”
“Collective and arbitrary expulsions of migrants and refugees are not suitable solutions, particularly where people are returned to countries which cannot guarantee respect for human dignity and fundamental rights,” he said.
Rather, welcoming foreigners above all means “offering broader options for migrants and refugees to enter destination countries safely and legally.”
In order for this to happen, the Pope said there must be a commitment to “increase and simplify” the process for granting humanitarian visas and reuniting families that have been separated.
He urged a wider global adoption of both private and community sponsorship and humanitarian corridor programs for vulnerable refugees, as well as the issuing of “special temporary visas” for those fleeing conflicts in neighboring countries.
Making the human person the focal point of the issue “obliges us to always prioritize personal safety over national security,” he said, and stressed the importance of ensuring that migrants and asylum seekers be guaranteed both personal safety and access to basic services upon their arrival.
He also spoke out against the detainment of illegal immigrants in detention centers, saying that “for the sake of the fundamental dignity of every human person, we must strive to find alternative solutions to detention for those who enter a country without authorization.”
Dating back to 1914, when it was established under Pope St. Pius X, the World Day of Migrants and Refugees is celebrated annually on Jan. 14. This year, the theme follows the Pope's action-plan: “Welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees.”
His message comes amid heated tensions on the immigration issue in the U.S. in particular, as President Donald Trump has outlined new legislation with sweeping cuts to the number of legal immigrants allowed into the country, as well as the implementation of a merit-based visa system.
The issue was one of the most contentious during Trump's campaign, and he even sparred with Pope Francis when he threatened to built a wall between the U.S.-Mexico border. So far during his time in office, Trump has promoted the idea of the wall, and has implemented a travel ban on six majority-Muslim countries, from which millions are fleeing due to war and violent conflict.
As it stands, current U.S. law forbids migrants from receiving food stamps, Medicaid and Social Security until they have been in the U.S. for at least five years.
However, in his message Pope Francis in his second point stressed that protecting immigrants means defending “the rights and dignity of migrants and refugees, independent of their legal status.”
“Such protection begins in the country of origin, and consists in offering reliable and verified information before departure, and in providing safety from illegal recruitment practice,” he said.
This entails ensuring migrants have proper council and assistance, the right to access documents of identification at any time, the ability of opening a personal bank account and enough money to live on.
“When duly recognized and valued, the potential and skills of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees are a true resource for the communities that welcome them,” Francis said. “This is why I hope that, in countries of arrival, migrants may be offered freedom of movement, work opportunities, and access to means of communication, out of respect for their dignity.”
For those who decide to return to their homelands, reintegration programs ought to be available, the Pope said, and urged for protection of underage migrants, particularly those who travel alone.
“They must be spared any form of detention related to migratory status, and must be guaranteed regular access to primary and secondary education,” he said, adding that when they come of age, these migrants must be “guaranteed the right to remain” in their host country and continue their studies.
Foster programs for unaccompanied minors ought to be set up, and nationality granted and “duly certified” for all children at birth, he said, adding that the “statelessness” some migrants fall into can be avoided with national legislation that respects “the fundamental principals of international law.”
When it comes to “promoting” the interests of migrants and refugees, Pope Francis said this refers to “a determined effort to ensure that all migrants and refugees – as well as the communities which welcome them – are empowered to achieve their potential as human beings, in all the dimensions which constitute the humanity intended by the Creator.”
This means ensuring freedom of religion, and promoting the personal and professional abilities of migrants, which must be “appropriately recognized and valued.”
Since work is essential to dignity, Francis voiced encouragement for “a determined effort to promote the social and professional inclusion of migrants and refugees,” guaranteeing for all – including those seeking asylum – the opportunity for employment, language classes and “active citizenship,” with enough information provided in their mother tongue to ensure that they are successful.
However, when it comes to minors, the Pope cautioned that their involvement with labor must be properly regulated in order to eliminate and prevent opportunities for exploitation. He also spoke out on the need to help disabled migrants, saying they “must be granted greater assistance and support.”
Francis also called for an increase in international humanitarian assistance for developing countries receiving high numbers of migrants and refugees, and voiced hope that local communities that are vulnerable and financially strapped “will be included among aid beneficiaries.”
His final point, integration, is something the Pope has often brought up in relation to the migrant issue, taking advantage of speaking engagements with large governmental bodies such as the the Council of Europe or foreign diplomats.
In his message, Francis said integration is not “an assimilation that leads migrants to suppress or to forget their own cultural identity,” but rather, he said contact with others “leads to discovering their ‘secret,’ to being open to them in order to welcome their valid aspects and thus contribute to knowing each one better.”
“This is a lengthy process that aims to shape societies and cultures, making them more and more a reflection of the multi-faceted gifts of God to human beings,” he said.
This process, he said, can be accelerated by granting citizenship that is free of financial or linguistic requirements, and by offering special legislation to migrants able to claim long-term residence upon arrival.
Pope Francis also drew attention to the plight of migrants who abandon their own countries only to flee their country of arrival due to a humanitarian crisis. These people, he said, “must be ensured adequate assistance for repatriation and effective reintegration programs in their home countries.”
The Pope closed his message insisting that “the contribution of political communities and civil societies is indispensable, each according to their own responsibilities” in order for a positive outcome to the current migration crisis.
To this end, he pointed to the U.N. Summit held in New York Sept. 16, 2016, in which world leaders gathered to discuss their own action-plan to support migrants and refugees with shared responsibility on a global level.
To execute this responsibility, the participating States committed to drafting and approving two Global Compacts, one for migrants and one for refugees, before the end of 2018.
In light of these ongoing processes, the Pope said the coming months “offer a unique opportunity to advocate and support” his own four-point action plan, and invited leaders to “use every occasion to share this message with all political and social actors involved (or who seek to be involved) in the process which will lead to the approval of the two Global Compacts.”
Source: Catholic News Agency…
Pope Prays for Victims of 'devastating' Mudslide in Sierra Leone
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Cindy Wooden || 16 August 2017
Pope Francis offered his condolences and his prayers to the people of Sierra Leone after flooding and a major mudslide Aug. 14 led to the deaths of hundreds of people and displaced thousands.
"Deeply saddened by the devastating consequences of the mudslide on the outskirts of Freetown, His Holiness Pope Francis assures those who have lost loved ones of his closeness at this difficult time," said a message sent to Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles of Freetown by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state.
Pope Francis "prays for all who have died, and upon their grieving families and friends he invokes the divine blessings of strength and consolation," said the message, which was released by the Vatican Aug. 16. The pope also "expresses his prayerful solidarity with the rescue workers and all involved in providing the much-needed relief and support to the victims of this disaster."
In an Aug. 16 telephone interview from Freetown, Ishmeal Alfred Charles, who is managing Caritas' emergency response, told Catholic News Service, "There is so much agony and pain here."
"The burials start today," he said, noting that he was on his way to a mortuary to help people identify the bodies of their loved ones.
Caritas' emergency team of 10 medics and about 30 voluntary helpers "needs more resources," Charles said. "We have exhausted all that we have, and the needs are overwhelming."
The team got to the scene of the mudslide early Aug. 15 and "in the first 10 minutes we were there, 11 corpses," including six children, were brought into the tent they had set up to register victims, he said.
One of the survivors is a 16-year-old girl "who had been at a friend's house watching movies when she called her mother to ask if she could stay over because it was getting late," Charles said.
"Her mother agreed on the condition that she return home early the next morning. When she woke up and walked home, there was nothing there," he said. "She is her family's only survivor."
Visiting the hard-hit town of Regent, about 15 miles east of Freetown, President Ernest Bai Koroma described the devastation as "overwhelming" and pleaded for international assistance.
Soon after the disaster struck, Catholic Relief Services, the overseas aid agency of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, published an appeal to donors.
"More than 300 people were killed and property was destroyed" in the mudslide, CRS said. At least 100 homes were covered and more than 600 people were still missing early Aug. 16.
"The death toll is expected to rise," the CRS appeal said. "Families affected by the Sierra Leone landslide need food, shelter, water and clothing," which CRS and its partner Caritas will strive to provide.
Idalia Amaya, CRS' deputy head of programs and the emergency response coordinator, said: "The devastation is like nothing we've seen before. Entire neighborhoods have been washed away ... People are in a complete state of shock."
CRS said in addition to providing food, water and mattresses to those immediately affected by the disaster, it would support the government and religious leaders with dignified burials of those who perished. The agency said its staffers were drawing from the experience of CRS' Ebola response in 2014.
"People here have already experienced so much trauma having lived through war and then Ebola, and now this," Amaya said. "But at the same time, people from Sierra Leone are incredibly resilient, and I know that with the proper support they will overcome this latest tragedy."
CAFOD, the official aid agency of the bishops of England and Wales, said heavy rainfall was expected to continue, and conditions may deteriorate.
In Freetown, Kayode Akintola, CAFOD's country representative for Sierra Leone, said: "Things are really bad on the ground. Just a few minutes' walk from our office a bridge has been submerged. There are dead bodies in the water and littering some of the streets, and houses are still under water."
CAFOD estimated 3,000 people had lost their homes.
Vatican Grants Permission for Nun to Officiate at Wedding in Canada
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Deborah Gyapong || 02 August 2017
When no priests were available, the bishop of the Quebec Diocese of Rouyn-Noranda sought and received Vatican permission for a local nun to officiate at a recent wedding.
While the story has been portrayed around the world as a sign that Pope Francis is changing the role of women in the church, Bishop Dorylas Moreau said the wedding was carried out according to a long-established provision of canon law.
It allows an exception for a layperson to be permitted to officiate at a wedding when a bishop, priest or deacon is unavailable. That layperson can be a man or a woman.
"It is an exceptional situation, not something habitual," Bishop Moreau said in French.
The bishop said he has only 16 priests for 35 parishes in a diocese that covers nearly 9,300 square miles of rugged territory. The diocese has more than 75 nuns, but no deacons, although three are currently in formation.
This priest shortage, especially acute in the summer, led the bishop to make a request through the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments for permission to have Sister Pierrette Thiffault of the Sisters of Providence conduct the wedding. Approval was received in May.
On July 22, Sister Thiffault conducted the wedding of a couple identified only as David and Cindy at a Catholic parish in Lorrainville, Quebec, about 300 miles northwest of Ottawa. The church was not far from the parish in Moffett, where Sister Thiffault is a pastoral worker.
She had known David since he was a high school student through her role as a catechist.
The couple was unavailable for an interview.
"It was a new experience for me," Sister Thiffault said in French. She described the experience as "precious" for her, for the couple and for the people in the parish.
"It was good for the diocese," she said. "It was also an experiment for the Catholic Church."
Sister Thiffault called her involvement a "work of evangelization," because she met with the couple several times to help prepare them for marriage.
If another need arises, she would be happy to officiate again, she said.
"I imagine the authorization will not be given only for one marriage," she said. "If I can help, I will accept."
Vatican Shuts Down Fountains as Rome Deals with Drought
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Junno Arocho Esteves || 27 July 2017
While Rome reels from one of its worst droughts in decades, the Vatican is doing its part to conserve water by shutting down the city-state's 100 fountains.
The office governing Vatican City State announced July 25 that the drought has "led the Holy See to take measures aimed at saving water" by shutting down fountains in St. Peter's Square, throughout the Vatican Gardens and in the territory of the state.
"The decision is in line with the teachings of Pope Francis, who reminds us in his encyclical 'Laudato Si'' how 'the habit of wasting and discarding' has reached 'unprecedented levels' while 'fresh drinking water is an issue of primary importance, since it is indispensable for human life and for supporting terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems,'" the office said.
The prolonged drought has forced officials from the Lazio region of Italy to halt pumping water from Lake Bracciano, located roughly 19 miles north of Rome. Less than usual rainfalls in the past two years have steadily depleted the lake, which provides 8 percent of the city's water supply.
In an interview with Italian news outlet Tgcom24, Nicola Zingaretti, the region's president, said the lake's water level has "fallen too much and we risk an environmental disaster."
While the drought already forced Rome city officials to shut down some of Rome's public drinking fountains in June, it may lead to strict water rationing for the city's estimated 1.5 million residents.
City officials may also take the Vatican's lead and shut down water pouring down from Rome's many ancient fountains.
Pilgrims and visitors alike have marveled at the majestic fountains of St. Peter's Square that have cascaded water for centuries since their construction in the 17th century.
While the source of water was once provided from an ancient Roman aqueduct, the two fountains, as well as 10 percent of Vatican City State's 100 fountains "recirculate water currently," Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, told Catholic News Service in a July 25 email.
Others, he added, "will eventually be transformed in order to recirculate" the same water rather than let it be wasted by running into the drainage or sewer system.
Burke told CNS that the Vatican's move to switch off the fountains located within its territory is "a way to show a good example" in conserving water as the city deals with the crisis.
"We're not going to be able to solve Rome's water problem this summer, but we can do our part," Burke said. "This is the Vatican putting 'Laudato Si'' into action. Let's not waste water."
This Boy Invited Pope Francis on a Pilgrimage – and Here's How He Responded
Catholic News Agency (CNA) || 23 July 2017
Nine-year-old Andrea is an Italian boy who joined 130 children last month for a “Pilgrimage of Joy” to the Marian Shrine of Loreto, Italy.
He was so moved by the experience that he wrote a letter about it to Pope Francis, inviting the Pope to accompany him and the other children for another pilgrimage next year.
And the Pope offered a surprising response, leaving the door open to the possibility in a letter of reply.
“Thanks for the invitation you have made me to go on a pilgrimage with you, being with children is for me the greatest joy. A proverb says: 'Never say never.' Therefore let us entrust this dream into the hands of Providence,” the Pope wrote.
Andrea’s letter to Pope Francis was sent on behalf of himself and the 130 other children who traveled to the Marian Shrine of Loreto from June 22-26. The letter was reprinted by several Italian media outlets.
The pilgrimage was organized by the Rome-Lazio chapter of the National Italian Union of Transportation of the Sick to Lourdes and International Shrines (UNITALSI) with the goal of teaching young children the importance of prayer and closeness to God, while at the same time allowing them to play, have fun, and make new friends.
“We are more than 130 children, and many are sick, others in wheelchairs and others are going alone and are accompanied by some nuns,” Andrea said in his letter, adding that they are praying for the Pope every day.
Andrea also included a group photo of all the children, and asked for the Holy Father’s blessing.
Pope Francis responded saying that “it was so nice to receive your letter and to hear about the enriching adventure you experienced with UNITALSI during the Pilgrimage of Joy to Loreto for children.”
“Thanks also for the group photo you sent me, where I could see that there are a lot of you, and you all look so nice. As I was looking at each face in the photograph, I was praying to Our Lady of Loreto for you, and I blessed you straight from the heart, along with your parents, volunteers, priests and the UNITALSI leaders,” the Pope said in his reply.
Source: Catholic News Agency…
In Latest Appointments, Pope Names New Members of a Holy See Court
Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Elise Harris || 20 July 2017
Fr. Pierangelo Pietracatella and Fr. Hans-Peter Fischer are the newest members of the Roman Rota, and mark the latest in a string of appointments Pope Francis has made this summer as part of his ongoing effort to restructure the Roman Curia.
Hailing from the northern Italian diocese of Toronta, Fr. Pietracatella, a member of the Rota, has been named as its new Chief of Office.
Fr. Fischer, a priest of the archdiocese of Freiburg, located in Germany's black forest region, has been named an auditor of the Rota. He is the current rector of the Pontifical Teutonic College of Santa Maria in Campo Santo, located in the Vatican.
Composed of various auditors, the Roman Rota is one of the three courts of the Holy See, the other two being the Apostolic Penitentiary and the Apostolic Signatura.
The Apostolic Penitentiary is the tribunal in charge of cases involving excommunication and serious sins, including those whose absolution is reserved to the Holy See, while the Signatura functions as a sort of Supreme Court. The Rota, for its part, is akin to a court of appeals or court of “last instance,” and is also where marriage nullity cases are judged.
The Roman Rota is the Vatican's court of higher instance, usually at the appellate stage, with the purpose of safeguarding rights within the Church.
Among its responsibilities is the trying of appeals in marriage annulment cases. The annulment process was streamlined by Pope Francis in December 2015, giving the possibility of a stronger role to local bishops and cutting the automatic appeal of initial judgments, among other things.
Announced in a July 20 communique from the Holy See, the appointments to the Rota are the latest carried out by Pope Francis in his ongoing reform of the Roman Curia.
Earlier this month the pontiff made waves by choosing to not renew the 5-year term of Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
In his stead, the Pope Francis on July 1 named Jesuit Archbishop Luis Ladaria, former secretary of the congregation, to take the helm.
Just over two weeks later, on July 18, he tapped the congregation's undersecretary, Father Giacomo Morandi, to take Ladaria's place as secretary. The priest was also appointed titular Archbishop of Caere, however, the date of his episcopal consecration has not yet been set.
These latest appointments by Pope Francis are significant, since they represent many of the curia officials had been named by Benedict before his resignation.
While Francis has made several of his own appointments since his election, the terms of the officials named by Benedict are now coming to an end, giving way for a curia that is shaped more by the mind of Francis as he moves forward in his process of Church reform.
Source: Catholic News Agency…
New Sign on Pope Francis’ Door: ‘Complaining Not Allowed’
Crux || By Ines San Martin || 14 July 2017
A sign recently put up on Pope Francis's door at the Santa Marta residence also warns transgressors, saying that complaining can lead them to develop a “victim complex” with the subsequent “diminution of their sense of humor and ability to solve problems," and advises, "Stop complaining, and act to make your life better."
Complaining in Pope Francis’s room is not allowed, at least according to a sign now hanging on his door at the Domus Santa Marta, the residence on Vatican grounds where he’s lived since the beginning of his pontificate.
“Complaining Not Allowed” (in Italian, Vietato Lamentarsi), reads the sign, which was recently spotted on the pope’s door by long-time Italian Vatican watcher Andrea Tornielli. In much smaller print, a red warning on the sign defines this as the first law in the protection of one’s health and well-being.
The sign also warns transgressors, saying that they’re subject to developing a “victim complex” with the subsequent “diminution of their sense of humor and ability to solve problems.”
Complaining in the presence of children, the sign warns, would lead to a double sanction.
The recent addition to Pope Francis’s door closes on a more upbeat note, advising readers that “to become the best of yourself, you have to concentrate on your own potential and not on your limits, therefore: Stop complaining, and act to make your life better.”
The sign was produced by Italian psychologist and psychotherapist Salvo Noé, who gave it to the pontiff after a June 14 weekly audience. Noé specializes in psychology in work environments, and gives well-being lectures to universities, security forces and companies.
According to Tornielli, who got the picture and background from “an old priest who was with the pope earlier this week,” Francis promised to put it up on his office door, but seeing it would look out of place in the Apostolic Palace, he decided instead to put it in the Santa Marta.
Though Room 201 is considered the pope’s private quarters, he’s often welcomed people there, mostly long-time friends who are not part of his public agenda.
Francis has spoken about the dangers of excessive complaining many times, including early on in his pontificate when he said that Christians who complain too much or are melancholic, “have more in common with pickled peppers than the joy of having a beautiful life.”
A year later, during one of his daily morning Masses, in Santa Marta, the Argentine pope warned against exaggerating difficulties compared to those undergoing major tragedies when praying.
“Our life is too easy, our complaints are over-dramatized,” the pontiff said at the time.
“Faced with the complaints of so many people, of so many brothers and sisters who are in the dark, who have lost all memory, almost lost all hope - who are experiencing this exile from themselves, who are exiled, even from themselves, (our complaints are) nothing!”
Former Vatican Hospital Officials Indicted for Illegal Use of Funds
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Carol Glatz || 13 July 2017
Vatican magistrates have formally indicted two former officers of the Vatican's pediatric hospital on charges of illegally using funds to help finance the remodeling of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone's apartment.
Giuseppe Profiti, who was president of Bambino Gesu hospital until 2015, and Massimo Spina, the former treasurer, will be called to appear before Vatican judges beginning July 18, the Vatican press hall announced in a statement July 13. If the two men do not present themselves to the court on the opening trial date, they will be charged with contempt, the Vatican statement said.
After a more-than-yearlong Vatican investigation, Profiti, Spina and their lawyers were notified of the charges June 13 and had until July 11 to supply evidence for their defense.
Giuseppe Dalla Torre, president of the tribunal of Vatican City State, will not be part of the trial proceedings because he is a member of the Bambino Gesu hospital's board of directors, Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, told reporters.
According to the Vatican announcement, Profiti, 55, and Spina, 57, were being charged with illicit use of funds belonging to the Bambino Gesu Foundation to pay Gianantonio Bandera, an Italian contractor, to refurbish an apartment belonging to Vatican City State and used as the residence of Cardinal Bertone, former Vatican secretary of state.
It said Profiti and Spina "were paid" more than 420,000 euros for "completely non-institutional ends" by using the money to refurbish Vatican property in order "to benefit Gianantonio Bandera's company." It said the alleged crime committed in Vatican City State spanned from November 2013 to May 28, 2014 -- the time period that the contractor's seven invoices were dated and paid for, according to news reports.
Profiti, who had been president of the hospital since 2008, resigned in January 2015, less than a year into a renewed three-year term, amid rumors of the alleged financing. The revelations emerged after Emiliano Fittipaldi, a journalist acquitted in a Vatican trial in 2016 for publishing allegedly stolen Vatican documents, published his findings in early 2016.
Based on Fittipaldi's investigation and according to letters published by L'Espresso magazine March 31, 2016, Profiti wrote the cardinal in late 2013, allegedly offering to pay for the remodeling using the foundation money in exchange for being able to use the top floor of the cardinal's residence for work-related gatherings.
In a letter of reply the next day, the cardinal allegedly accepted the proposal, adding that he would make sure the costs were taken care of by a "third party" so that the foundation would not have to pay.
Mariella Enoc, current hospital president, told reporters in late 2015, "Cardinal Bertone never directly received money (from the hospital's foundation), but recognized that we suffered a loss and, therefore, assisted us with a donation of 150,000 euros."
Cardinal Bertone repeatedly disputed news reports about the size of the apartment and its cost, and he insisted that he personally paid the Vatican, which owns the apartment, for the work done.
Cardinal Bertone was not under investigation.
Profiti had been sentenced with six months' house arrest while he was still hospital president after being found guilty in 2008 of bribes and kickbacks when assigning or promising contracts to companies bidding for providing food services to public schools and hospitals in the cities of Genoa and Savona. At the time, Profiti had been the head of the region of Liguria, where the cities are found in northern Italy. At least four others were found guilty in the same investigation.
Vatican Asks Bishops to Ensure Validity of Matter for Eucharist
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Carol Glatz || 10 July 2017
Bishops should look at ways to help verify and guarantee the validity and worthiness of the bread and wine used for the celebration of the Eucharist, the Vatican said in a recent document.
Because bread and wine for the Eucharist are no longer supplied just by religious communities, but "are also sold in supermarkets and other stores and even over the internet," bishops should set up guidelines, an oversight body and/or even a form of certification to help "remove any doubt about the validity of the matter for the Eucharist," the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments said.
The recommendations came in a circular letter, "On the bread and wine for the Eucharist," sent to diocesan bishops "at the request of the Holy Father, Pope Francis." Dated June 15 -- the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ -- the letter was made public by the Vatican July 8. The letter was signed by Cardinal Robert Sarah, congregation prefect, and Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary.
Because the church requires certainty regarding the conditions necessary for the validity of the sacraments, the congregation offered some suggestions so that bishops can continue to "watch over the quality of the bread and wine" as well as "those who prepare these materials."
The congregation underlined that every bishop "is bound to remind priests, especially parish priests and rectors of churches, of their responsibility to verify those who provide the bread and wine for the celebration and the worthiness of the material."
Bishops must also provide information to the producers of the bread and wine for the Eucharist and to remind them of the absolute respect that is due to the norms," it said. Producers "must be aware that their work is directed toward the eucharistic sacrifice and that this demands their honesty, responsibility and competence," it added.
The congregation suggested ordinaries offer guidance, for example, by "guaranteeing the eucharistic matter through special certification."
Bishops may want to agree on and establish "concrete regulations" on the national level through their bishops' conferences, it suggested.
"Given the complexity of situations and circumstances, such as a decrease in respect for the sacred, it may be useful to mandate a competent authority to have oversight in actually guaranteeing the genuineness of the eucharistic matter by producers as well as those responsible for its distribution and sale," the Vatican congregation wrote.
A competent authority, for example, could be "one or more religious congregations or another body capable of carrying out the necessary checks on production, conservation and sale of the eucharistic bread and wine in a given country and for other countries to which they are exported," it wrote.
The letter also reiterated norms already in place regarding eucharistic matter:
-- "The bread used in the celebration of the most holy eucharistic sacrifice must be unleavened, purely of wheat, and recently made so that there is no danger of decomposition."
-- Bread made from another substance, even grain or mixed with another substance so different from wheat that it would not commonly be considered wheat bread, "does not constitute valid matter."
-- The introduction of any other substances, "such as fruit or sugar or honey, into the bread for confecting the Eucharist," it said, "is a grave abuse."
-- Low-gluten hosts are valid matter for people who, "for varying and grave reasons, cannot consume bread made in the usual manner," provided the hosts "contain a sufficient amount of gluten to obtain the confection of bread without the addition of foreign materials and without the use of procedures that would alter the nature of bread."
-- Completely gluten-free hosts continue to be "invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist."
-- Wine used in the celebration of the eucharistic "must be natural, from the fruit of the grape, pure and incorrupt, not mixed with other substances," well conserved and have not soured.
-- "It is altogether forbidden to use wine of doubtful authenticity or provenance."
-- No other drinks of any kind may not be admitted "for any reason, as they do not constitute valid matter."
-- For people who, "for varying and grave reasons," cannot consume wine fermented in the normal manner, "mustum" is valid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist. Mustum is grape juice that is either fresh or preserved by methods that suspend its fermentation without altering its nature, for example, by freezing.
-- Eucharistic matter made with genetically modified organisms can be considered valid matter.
-- Permission must be given by the ordinary for an individual priest or layperson to use low-gluten hosts or mustum for the celebration of the Eucharist. "Permission can be granted habitually, for as long as the situation continues which occasioned the granting of permission."
People who live with celiac disease are unable to digest gluten, a type of protein commonly found in grains such as rye, barley and wheat. There also are people who live with nonceliac gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity whose health can be adversely affected by gluten.
The U.S. bishops' Committee on Divine Worship has said Catholics who cannot receive Communion wafers at all, even under the species of low-gluten hosts, "may receive Holy Communion under the species of wine only." The church teaches that "under either species of bread or wine, the whole Christ is received," it said.
Medical certification of a condition justifying the use of mustum or low-gluten hosts for Communion is not required, the committee said.
Pope's Pediatric Hospital is Fixing Past Problems, Says Cardinal Overseer
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Carol Glatz || 05 July 2017
While there had been problems and complaints in the past, the Vatican-owned Bambino Gesu Children's Hospital was working to resolve them, said Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, who oversees the hospital.
In responding to an investigative report by the Associated Press, the cardinal told the AP July 4 there had been past problems at the hospital, but that the hospital's current administration, put in place in 2015, was making a "serious effort to resolve them."
The AP reported July 3 that the Vatican formed a commission in 2014 to study workers' complaints and concerns about unsafe medical protocols, overcrowding and a culture that emphasized practices that might reap greater revenues.
An external audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2014 determined the hospital's mission "had been modified in the last few years" by emphasizing expansion and revenues without adequate governance, according to the AP.
In January 2015, the Vatican assembled a team to conduct an announced onsite inspection of the hospital. That team, led by U.S. Sister Carol Keehan -- a Daughter of Charity and president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association -- determined the commission's report was unfounded and praised the quality of care at the hospital.
Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, confirmed in a written statement July 3 that "After hearing complaints about care at the hospital three years ago, the Holy See moved quickly and decisively to study them seriously. After collecting the criticism, a clinical team was commissioned to look at the accusations and visit the hospital. The team found an exceptional level of care at the hospital, and that the accusations were unfounded."
"The sole critical note concerned inadequate space in intensive care units, something hospital officials are aware of and working to improve," Burke wrote.
He said the church "welcomes any efforts to help improve that care in its hospitals, including reports of practices that might be below standard. No hospital is perfect, but it is false and unjust to suggest that there are serious threats to the health of children at Bambino Gesu."
Cardinal Parolin told AP that some of the problems reported by former and current hospital staff in 2014 had been "truly unfounded," but that "there was an attempt, and there is currently an attempt and serious effort to resolve" those problems that had been confirmed.
Meanwhile, the hospital's president, Mariella Enoc, told the AP July 4 that the climate at the hospital had become "more serene" since she was appointed by Cardinal Parolin in early 2015. She said she was calling for more open communication and urging people to come forward with any problems in order to talk "and not keep it inside and then have it explode."
Enoc was appointed after the resignation of Giuseppe Profiti, who had been president of the hospital since 2008. He left less than a year into a renewed term right before the January 2015 onsite Vatican inspection of the hospital, amid rumors that a significant amount of money from the foundation supporting the children's hospital was used to help finance the remodeling of the apartment of former Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
Profiti and Massimo Spina, former treasurer of the hospital, were then subjected to a Vatican investigation in connection to the financing case.
In November 2015, Cardinal Parolin put in a new board of advisers at the Bambino Gesu Foundation with a new set of statutes aimed improving the fundraising body's transparency.
In December 2015, Pope Francis established a special pontifical commission to study entities operating in the name of the Catholic Church in the field of health care. The body, under the guidance of Cardinal Parolin, who also named Enoc as one of its members, aims to study and propose ways to increase efficiencies, improve governance and collaboration, and protect the religious mission and charisms of the clinics, hospitals or institutes.
When Pope Francis met with staff and patients of the Bambino Gesu hospital Dec. 15, 2016, he emphasized how all those working in the field of health care must help their patients and be on guard against falling down the slippery slope of corruption that begins with special favors, tips and bribes.
"The worst cancer in a hospital like this is corruption," he said. "In this world where there is so much business involved in health care, so many people are tricked by the sickness industry, Bambino Gesu hospital must learn to say no. Yes, we all are sinners. Corrupt, never."
Pope Names Archbishop to Succeed Cardinal Muller at Doctrine Office
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Cindy Wooden || 03 July 2017
Promoting the secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the office of prefect, Pope Francis chose not to ask German Cardinal Gerhard Muller to serve a second five-year term in the post.
The Vatican announced July 1 that the pope chose as prefect Spanish Archbishop Luis Ladaria Ferrer, 73, a Jesuit theologian who had been appointed secretary of the congregation in 2008 by then-Pope Benedict XVI.
"The Holy Father Francis thanked His Eminence Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller at the conclusion of his quinquennial mandate," the Vatican announcement said. No new position was announced for Cardinal Muller, who at 69 is still more than five years away from the normal retirement age for a bishop.
Anticipating an announcement of the pope's decision June 30, both the English Rorate Caeli blog and the Italian Corrispondenza Romana blog presented the pope's move as a dismissal of the German cardinal, who originally was appointed to the post by now-retired Pope Benedict XVI.
Pope Francis had met that morning with Cardinal Muller, whose five-year term was to end July 2.
Both Rorate Caeli and Corrispondenza Romana implied Cardinal Muller was let go because he insisted that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics could not receive Communion unless they made a commitment to abstain from sexual relations with their new partners. Other bishops and bishops' conferences have read Pope Francis' exhortation on the family, "Amoris Laetitia," as presenting a process of discernment that in certain circumstances could allow some couples to return to the sacraments.
Cardinal Mueller told the German daily, Allgemeine Zeitung, that "There were no disagreements between Pope Francis and me" and that there had been no dispute over "Amoris Laetitia," the newspaper reported July 2. The cardinal spoke with reporters while he was in Mainz celebrating his 50th high school reunion July 1 and Mass July 2 commemorating the 29th anniversary of the death of Cardinal Hermann Volk of Mainz, who ordained him to the priesthood in 1978.
According to the interview with Allgemeine Zeitung, the cardinal said the pope's decision had been unexpected since such terms were usually renewed, but that he was not bothered by it.
"I do not mind," he said, adding that "everyone has to stop" at some point.
"The five-year term had now expired," he said. The cardinal told the newspaper that Pope Francis wanted, in general, to limit the term of office to five years and he just happened to be the first person to which the new standard applied.
However, he said he regretted losing three staff members of the doctrinal congregation after Pope Francis let them go "a few weeks ago," according to the German newspaper. "They were competent people," the cardinal said.
He said he would stay in Rome and continue working in pastoral care and continue scholarly, academic pursuits -- "continue my role as a cardinal." He is a member of the congregations for Eastern Churches, for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and for Catholic Education. He is a member of the pontifical councils for Legislative Texts, for Promoting Christian Unity and for Culture.
"I have plenty to do in Rome," he said, even though at the age of 69, he said, "I would normally already be retired."
Cardinal Muller was the first Vatican official formally confirmed in his post by Pope Francis after his election in 2013 and was among the 19 churchmen named cardinals that year by Pope Francis.
The prefect of the doctrinal congregation is responsible for promoting the correct interpretation of Catholic doctrine and theology; his office also is responsible for conducting investigations of clergy accused of sexually abusing minors.
Resigning from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, Marie Collins, one of the founding members and the last remaining abuse survivor on the commission, said members of the Roman Curia were reluctant to implement the commission's recommendations and she particularly cited Cardinal Muller.
Speaking to reporters in May on his flight from Fatima, Portugal, to Rome, Pope Francis said Collins was "a little bit right" because of the slow pace of investigating so many cases of alleged abuse.
However, the pope said the delays were due to the need to draft new legislation and to the fact that few people have been trained to investigate allegations of abuse. Cardinal Muller and Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, he added, were looking "for new people."
As head of the doctrinal congregation, the prefect also serves as president the Pontifical Biblical Commission, the International Theological Commission and the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei," which is responsible for the pastoral care of traditionalist Catholics and for the ongoing reconciliation talks with the Society of St. Pius X.
The new prefect, Archbishop Ladaria, was appointed congregation secretary by Pope Benedict after having worked with him as a member of the International Theological Commission in 1992-1997, as a consultant to the doctrinal congregation from 1995 to 2008 and as secretary general of the theological commission from 2004 until being named congregation secretary.
Archbishop Ladaria was born in Manacor, Mallorca, April 19, 1944, and earned a law degree at the University of Madrid before entering the Society of Jesus in 1966. After theology and philosophy studies in Spain and Germany, he was ordained to the priesthood July 29, 1973.
He earned a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1975 and began teaching dogmatic theology at the Pontifical University Comillas in Madrid. Nine years later, he began teaching at the Gregorian and served as vice rector of the university from 1986 to 1994.
Before the debate over "Amoris Laetitia," Cardinal Muller made headlines for his role in the Vatican critique of the U.S.-based Leadership Conference of Women Religious and for his friendship with Dominican Father Gustavo Gutierrez, considered the father of liberation theology.
In 2004, he co-authored a book, "On the Side of the Poor: The Theology of Liberation," with Father Gutierrez. In the 1990s, when then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger headed the congregation before becoming Pope Benedict, Father Gutierrez was asked by the congregation to write and rewrite articles clarifying some of his theological and pastoral points.
In a 2012 interview with the Vatican newspaper, then-Archbishop Muller said he was invited to participate in a seminar with Father Gutierrez in 1988, and he went "with some reservations" because the doctrinal congregation had criticized aspects of liberation theology that it said were too influenced by Marxist ideology.
"One must distinguish between an erroneous and a correct liberation theology," Archbishop Muller told the newspaper. While a Catholic must reject Marxist ideas and analysis, he said, "we must ask ourselves sincerely: How can we speak about the love and mercy of God in the face of the suffering of so many people who do not have food, water, medical care; who don't know how to give their own children a future; where human dignity really is lacking; where human rights are ignored by the powerful?"
Before being named prefect of the doctrinal congregation, Cardinal Muller had served five years as one of its members and had been a member of the International Theological Commission from 1998 to 2003. Pope Benedict led both bodies until 2005, when he was elected pontiff.
Cardinal Muller has close ties to retired Pope Benedict and in 2008 helped establish the Pope Benedict XVI Institute, which is publishing a complete collection of works by the German-born pope and theologian.
When he was appointed prefect of the doctrinal congregation by Pope Benedict in 2012, he told the Vatican newspaper his job in Rome would be "to relieve part of his work and not bring him problems that can be resolved" at the level of the congregation. "The Holy Father has the important mission of proclaiming the Gospel and confirming his brothers and sisters in the faith. It's up to us to deal with the less pleasant matters so that he will not be burdened with too many things, although, naturally, he always will be informed of important matters."
Cardinal Muller is a native of Mainz, Germany. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1978 and served in his native diocese as a chaplain and high school religion teacher. With degrees in philosophy and a doctorate in theology, he was a professor of dogmatic theology in Munich from 1986 to 2002.
He was named bishop of Regensburg in 2002 and then-Cardinal Ratzinger attended his episcopal ordination. Then-Bishop Muller chose as his episcopal motto "Dominus Iesus" (Jesus Is Lord), which comes from St. Paul's Letter to the Romans and is the title of the 2000 document on salvation through Christ alone, issued by the doctrinal congregation under then-Cardinal Ratzinger.
Vatican Cardinal Pell to Take Leave while Facing Abuse Charges in Australia
Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Elise Harris || 29 June 2017
After Australian police announced that they have charged him on multiple counts of sexual abuse, Cardinal George Pell has maintained his innocence, saying he will take leave from his responsibilities in the Vatican to clear his name.
In comments to journalists during a June 29 news briefing at the Holy See Press Office, Cardinal Pell said that with the permission of Pope Francis, he will be taking "leave" from his position as the Prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy in order "to clear my name."
"I am looking forward, finally, to having my day in court. I'm innocent of these charges, they are false," he said, adding that "the whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me."
Throughout the two years he has been fighting the accusations, there have been various media leaks and "relentless character assassination," he said, insisting he has been "consistent and clear in my total rejection of these allegations."
Pell said that he has regularly kept Pope Francis informed of the process. In the past week, the two have spoken on "many occasions" about "my need to take leave to clear my name," he said, voicing his gratitude to the Pope "for giving me this leave to return to Australia."
The cardinal said he has already spoken with his lawyers and doctors about how and when he will return to Australia to face the charges.
"News of these charges strengthens my resolve, and court proceedings now offer me the opportunity to clear my name and then return here, back to Rome, to work," he said.
Cardinal Pell's statement came after the police of Victoria, Australia announced that they are charging him on multiple counts of historical sexual abuse.
The charging of Cardinal Pell, who in 2013 was tapped to oversee the Vatican's Secretariat for the Economy and is a member of the Council of Cardinals advising Pope Francis, makes him the most senior Vatican official to ever be charged with abuse.
He was ordained in the diocese of Ballarat in 1966, where he served as a priest and later as a consulter to Bishop Ronald Mulkearns, who oversaw the diocese from 1971-1997. Pell was appointed auxiliary bishop for the archdiocese of Melbourne in 1987, and was named archbishop in 1996.
In February 2016, he testified for the third time before Australia's Royal Commission regarding claims that surfaced in 2015 accusing the cardinal of moving “known pedophile” Gerald Ridsdale, of bribing a victim of the later-defrocked priest, and of ignoring a victim’s complaint.
Established in 2013, the Royal Commission is dedicated to investigating institutional responses to child sexual abuse.
Despite having testified before the commission twice before on the same charges, Pell again offered to give his testimony, which he did via video conference from Rome.
Shortly before the hearing, abuse allegations surfaced accusing the cardinal of multiple counts of child sexual abuse dating as far back as 1961, which he has continued to fervently deny.
In a June 29 communiqué released after Cardinal Pell made his statement to journalists, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said the Holy See learned with "regret" about the charges filed for "decades-old actions" that have been attributed to the cardinal.
"Having become aware of the charges, Card. Pell, acting in full respect for civil laws, has decided to return to his country to face the charges against him, recognizing the importance of his participation to ensure that the process is carried out fairly, and to foster the search for truth," the communiqué read.
Echoing Pell's own statement, Burke affirmed that Pope Francis has granted the cardinal an absence from his duties "so he can defend himself," and that in his absence, the Secretariat for the Economy will continue to carry out its work.
The secretaries in the department will remain at their posts to carry forward the dicastery's work "donec aliter provideatur," meaning "until otherwise provided."
Pope Francis, Burke said, "has appreciated Cardinal Pell’s honesty during his three years of work in the Roman Curia," and is grateful for his collaboration and "energetic dedication to the reforms in the economic and administrative sector, as well as his active participation in the Council of Cardinals (C9)."
On behalf of the Holy See, Burke voiced respect for the Australian justice system, which "will have to decide the merits of the questions raised."
However, at the same time, he said "it is important to recall that Card. Pell has openly and repeatedly condemned as immoral and intolerable the acts of abuse committed against minors" and has cooperated with Australian authorities in the past, specifically with his depositions before the Royal Commission.
Moreover, the cardinal has been supportive of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, and as a diocesan bishop in Australia, introduced systems and procedures "both for the protection of minors and to provide assistance to victims of abuse."
Burke closed noting that Cardinal Pell will no longer be attending public events while facing the charges, and as such would be absent from the day's today's Mass for the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, to be celebrated by Pope Francis and attended by all new metropolitan archbishops appointed during the previous year.
Source: Catholic News Agency…
Vatican's First General Auditor Resigns Abruptly
Catholic News Agency (CNA) || 20 June 2017
In an unexpected move in the Holy See’s ongoing financial reform, the Vatican announced on Tuesday the resignation of Libero Milone, General Auditor of the Holy See, effective immediately.
The brief Vatican statement simply said that Libero Milone had offered his resignation, and that the Vatican had accepted it.
The lack of reason given for the resignation has some speculating that it is another part of the ongoing, internal conflicts of Vatican financial reform.
Milone’s resignation comes as a surprise because of the emphasis the Vatican placed on the importance of his position when it was created.
Since his election in 2013, Pope Francis has sought to reform the Vatican’s bank and finances.
Francis created the position of General Auditor for the Holy See in February 2014 in an effort to increase financial transparency.
Upon the appointment of Milone, Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, wrote in The Catholic Herald that having an independent auditor was a key part of the “separation of powers” necessary for reforming the Vatican’s finances.
The task of the general auditor was to audit the accounts of the dicasteries of the Vatican Curia and the other institutions dependent on the Holy See and the Vatican State.
During his time as General Auditor, Milone’s personal computer was hacked, and he also clashed with the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, the treasury of the Vatican. Milone showed his commitment to maintaining the separation of powers of his office when he declined an offer in April to become part of the Board of Directors of the Italian public broadcasting service Rai, saying that he wanted to maintain his independence in the Vatican.
Before coming to the Vatican, Libero Milone had extensive experience in reviewing and advising in different companies and public and private firms throughout the world such as Deloitte, Fiat and Wind.
In the statement, the Holy See added that Milone’s resignation was “of mutual accord” and that they are seeking his replacement “as soon as possible.” Milone had previously been expected to serve as General Auditor until 2021.
Source: Catholic News Agency…
Academy for Life President Defends Nomination of Anglican Theologian
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Cindy Wooden || 19 June 2017
The Pontifical Academy for Life is and always will be against abortion and is committed to involving increasing numbers of people in the defense of human life, said Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, academy president.
In an interview posted June 17 on the Vatican Insider website, Archbishop Paglia defended the nomination of Nigel Biggar, an Anglican professor of moral theology, as a member of the academy.
Tweeting about the interview, which was in Italian, Archbishop Paglia wrote, "Translation: 'Our NO to abortion is a total NO!'"
Several newspapers and pro-life organizations, including the American Life League, questioned the appointment of Biggar, citing a 2011 interview and debate he was part of with a philosopher who is strongly pro-abortion.
The interview-debate between Biggar and Peter Singer was printed in the online edition of the British Standpoint magazine. Critics focused on Biggar's statement in the piece that he "would be inclined to draw the line for abortion at 18 weeks after conception, which is roughly about the earliest time when there is some evidence of brain activity, and therefore of consciousness."
The larger point of his argument, though, was to argue against Singer's greater openness to abortion and even infanticide in circumstances where a baby is severely ill or disabled.
"Peter's view is that human life is only valuable if it exhibits certain qualities, and an infant before birth doesn't have these qualities, so we can abort it -- and an infant after birth doesn't have these qualities either, so we may kill it," Biggar said. "My view is that we should draw the line much more conservatively. This is simply because the killing of any human being is a morally hazardous business, even if it is permitted at an early fetal stage. It isn't something that we should do casually and wantonly, and I suspect that Peter would agree with that."
Biggar said his position that abortion should not be permitted after 18 weeks of pregnancy was to support "maintaining a strong social commitment to preserving human life in hindered forms, and in terms of not becoming too casual about killing human life."
In the interview with Vatican Insider, Archbishop Paglia said he had not known previously about the interview, but he later spoke to Biggar about it. The focus of the Anglican theologian's work is on opposing euthanasia, the archbishop said, and he has never written or published anything about abortion "and he does not intend to enter into debates on this theme in the future."
The idea of abortion possibly being acceptable up to 18 weeks of gestation "certainly is not my personal position and even less the position of the academy," Archbishop Paglia said.
"We are at the service and defense of life from the first moment of conception to the last breath," he said. "Nothing and no one will ever change this orientation. If anything, we will go anywhere to convince as many people as possible."
The mix of people among the new members, he said, was designed to bring together expertise in a variety of life-related fields, and the working of the academy should demonstrate the church's desire to face issues together "patiently gaining the maximum consensus possible."
In an effort to broaden the membership of the academy, he said, Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury was asked to suggest an Anglican theologian for membership, and Biggar was the person he proposed.
Biggar is the author of the 2004 book "Aiming to kill: The Ethics of Suicide and Euthanasia," which reviewed arguments for and against suicide and euthanasia and explored the theological basis for asserting the sacredness of human life.
In a 2009 article printed in the journal Ethics in Brief, Biggar argued for a reform of the health care system to ensure better palliative care for patients in pain. The legalization of physician-assisted suicide, he said, would "jeopardize society's commitment to the high value of individual human lives, and its support for those lives when they are ailing. It will make society more liberal at the expense of making it less humane."
Vatican Releases Online Questionnaire for 2018 Synod on Youth
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Carol Glatz || 14 June 2017
To involve young people in preparations for the Synod of Bishops on youth in 2018, the Vatican has released an online questionnaire to better understand the lives, attitudes and concerns of 16- to 29-year-olds around the world.
The questionnaire -- available in English, Spanish, French and Italian -- can be found on the synod's official site: http://youth.synod2018.va/content/synod2018/it.html and is open to any young person, regardless of faith or religious belief.
The general secretariat of the synod launched the website June 14 to share information about the October 2018 synod on "Young people, faith and vocational discernment" and to link to an online, anonymous survey asking young people about their lives and expectations.
The answers to the questionnaire, along with contributions from bishops, bishops' conferences and other church bodies, "will provide the basis for the drafting of the 'instrumentum laboris,'" or working document for the assembly, synod officials said in January.
Young people from all backgrounds are encouraged to take part in the questionnaire because every young person has "the right to be accompanied without exclusion," synod officials had said.
The list of 53 mostly multiple-choice questions is divided into seven sections: general personal information; attitudes and opinions about oneself and the world; influences and relationships; life choices; religion, faith and the church; internet use; and two final, open-ended questions. The write-in questions are an invitation to describe a positive example of how the Catholic Church can "accompany young people in their choices, which give value and fulfillment in life" and to say something about oneself that hasn't been asked in the questionnaire.
Other questions ask about living arrangements; self-image; best age to leave home and have a family; opinions about education and work; measures of success; sources of positive influence; level of confidence in public and private institutions; and political or social activism.
The section on faith looks at the importance of religion in one's life and asks, "Who Jesus is for you?" That question provides 16 choices to choose from, including "the savior," "an adversary to be fought," "an invention" and "someone who loves me." It also asks which topics -- promoting peace, defending human life, evangelization, defending truth, the environment -- are the most urgent for the church to address.
The Vatican's preparation for a synod generally includes developing a questionnaire and soliciting input from bishops' conferences, dioceses and religious orders. This is the first time the Vatican's synod organizing body put a questionnaire online and sought direct input from the public.
A synod's preparatory phase seeks to consult of "the entire people of God" to better understand young people's different situations as synod officials draft the working document. The synod on youth will be looking for ways the church can best and most effectively evangelize young people and help them make life choices corresponding to God's plan and the good of the person.
Pope to Youth: Share your lives, or you’ll end up in a museum
Crux || By Ines San Martin || 10 June 2017
In his latest Google Hangout with youth from around the world on Friday, Pope Francis said that a life which isn't shared with others "belongs in the museum," and urged young people not to succumb to an "elitist education" but to be agents of a "human globalization," one which doesn't annul differences but which is respect of the diversity of all the people involved.
“Hanging out” with youth from around the world, Pope Francis on Friday spoke about the need for a “human” globalization, as opposed to an “elitist” education, and told young people that a life that isn’t shared with others belongs “in the museum.”
“We all have something to give, and we all have to open ourselves to receive from the other, and in this way, we globalize in a human way,” Francis said on Friday.
Every person, the pope said, has a meaning for their life, and the young people should focus on finding out what theirs is.
“In education, we make a wrong selection, an elitist one,” he said. “We create closed groups led by selfishness.”
This elitist isolation, Francis continued, makes the heart and the mind close in on themselves, “making us incapable of thinking with the other, of feeling with the other, of working with the other.”
The encounter was organized by Scholas Ocurrentes, a canonical foundation that began to take shape 20 years ago in Argentina, when Francis was still Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires.
As is usually the case in these encounters, the gathering included a Google Hangout between the pope and young people from around the world. This time, they called in from nine countries: Italy, Spain, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, the United Arab Emirates and Haiti.
Visibly in a good mood, Francis delivered many jokes, some of which were directed at the interpreters, who would have trouble translating words such as “ningunear.” It’s a word seldom used in Spanish, and in English it’d be something like “look down on someone.”
The Laudato Si’ pope actually began his short, off-the-cuff remarks with a joke, saying that society needs youth, “just like this room needs air conditioning!”
The room was the new Rome offices of Scholas Occurentes. The scope of the foundation is to integrate young people from different walks of life, promoting activities that lead to what Francis describes as a “culture of encounter.”
Those in the call have taken part in recent times in some of the activities promoted by Scholas. They talked about learning to share with peers of different races, religions and nationalities. This sharing they said, helped them work together for a better society, while fighting many things that affect school-aged children today, such as bullying.
Francis also spoke about “three languages,” that of the mind, the heart, and the hands.
“You take risks so you can think what you feel and do, feel what you think and do, and do what you think and feel,” the pope said. This, he continued, allows them to be coherent, instead of being “cut into pieces” by the world’s throwaway culture.
He also said that in many places, educational budgets are being cut, making education only available for those who can afford it.
“To educate is not to know things, but being capable of using the three languages, that of the hands, the heart and the mind,” he said. “Education is to include.”
After warning against elitist education, Francis spoke of another “danger,” which is that of globalization conceived as a “pool ball.”
In a sphere, he explained, each point is equidistant to the center, “everyone is equal,” so different personal characteristics are “annulled.”
“You either make yourself equal to the system, or you are not. You don’t exist,” Francis said. “The same thing happens with the peoples. Or they are all the same, or they don’t exist.”
Real globalization, the pope told the youth, is a “polyhedron,” an image he’s used before in these settings.
That, he said, is the Scholas challenge: To help each one of those who participate in their programs to find what is their “peculiarity, their wealth,” and to share it with others, “because I have a purpose.
“What do I have a purpose fore? To give. And in that giving, give ourselves openly, listening, dialoguing, but with no violence. Because there’s a violent way of giving. Think about bullying. No to bullying,” he said.
Lastly, the pope said that those present, including Italy’s minister of education and himself, are learning from the youth and their ability to communicate with each other in dialogue and discussion, accepting that the other thinks differently.
“In this way you grow and avoid being alienated by a society that all the time tends to be more elitist, excluding, and less participative,” he said.
Dialogue with Muslims, Defend Human Dignity, Pope Tells Missionaries
Crux || By Junno Arocho Esteves || 06 June 2017
“You are called to further your charism, to project yourselves with renewed zeal in the work of evangelization, in view of pastoral urgencies and new forms of poverty,” Pope Francis told a group of men and women missionaries at the Vatican and encouraged them to build bridges with Muslims.
Missionaries are entrusted with bringing hope to poor Christian communities while building bridges with Muslims and protecting human rights, Pope Francis told a group of men and women missionaries.
Meeting with members of the Consolata Missionaries at the Vatican June 5, the pope also encouraged them to push the boundaries of their missionary activity, especially in “defending the dignity of women and family values.
“You are called to further your charism, to project yourselves with renewed zeal in the work of evangelization, in view of pastoral urgencies and new forms of poverty,” he said.
Founded by Blessed Giuseppe Allamano, both the men’s and women’s congregations aim to evangelize in remote areas of the world and form Christian communities.
Consolata missionaries want to bring the world true consolation, which is found in Jesus and his Gospel, according to the order’s website. They carry out their mission by being with marginalized and abandoned people, comforting the suffering and the afflicted, caring for the sick, defending human rights and promoting justice and peace.
Pope Francis urged both congregations to carry out their work with “careful discernment” and to bring “comfort to the populations who are often marked by great poverty and acute suffering, as for example in many parts of Africa and Latin America.
“An increasing awareness” of God’s mercy, he added, can help them carry out their mission. “It is much more important to be aware of how much we are loved by God, than of how we love him ourselves!” he said.
A journey of the “progressive rediscovery of divine mercy,” the pope said, can help consecrated men and women imitate Christ’s virtues in their missionary work.
“This will enable you to be actively present in the new arenas of evangelization, favoring - even if this may lead to sacrifices - openness toward situations that, with their particular needs, reveal themselves to be emblematic for our time.”
Pope Francis encouraged them to continue along the path of Blessed Allamano, who served those in need with generosity and hope.
“May your missionary consecration always be a source for the life-giving and sanctifying encounter with Jesus and with his love, wellspring of consolation, peace and salvation for all humanity,” he said.
Cardinal Turkson: Put your Faith before your Nationality
Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Adelaide Mena || 02 June 2017
Vatican experts on human development and social issues challenged Catholics around the world this week to respond with openness and a willingness to confront global issues in a truly Catholic manner.
In a meeting with reporters at Georgetown University, Cardinal Peter Turkson warned that when Catholics focus on national or regional identities first “and make that qualify Catholicism or Catholic teaching, there’s a mighty good chance that we may be going in parallel lines and never meet.”
The cardinal warned that Catholics from various regions of the world might lose sight of what’s more important when placing these identities at the forefront, rather than the faith. “The thing that binds us, that makes us common is the fact of belonging to the Catholic faith,” he stressed.
Cardinal Turkson, who serves as prefect for the Dicastery of Integral Human Development, was joined by Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, former Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, in the May 31 meeting. There at Georgetown, they spoke with reporters about a range of challenges facing the Church and the West today, including climate change, migration, education, development and social cohesion.
The two prelates came to the university as part of a national convention of Catholic university centers studying Catholic Social Teaching.
Archbishop Tomasi, who also has experience working with refugee and migration issues, warned that recent trends in the West promote what he called a “self-centered” and inward-focused politics that can distract these nations from helping to find solutions to global problems. “If you look around the world, one of the situations we see in Europe, for example, even in Africa; there is a tendency in a part of the population to close in on itself.”
“It’s a global issue and if you limit yourself to the needs of your own country,” Archbishop Tomasi said, “you are not going to solve the problem.”
To truly create solutions to social problems, however, the Church believes that care must be taken for the good of the human person, Cardinal Turkson said. “Development,” he stressed, “is ultimately about the human person.”
“The human person requires certain conditions to flourish. Some of those conditions are moral conditions. Some of them are physical,” he continued. “Human ecology from the point of view of the Church would require…legislation, policies that enable a human person to flourish and realize its dignity.”
Development efforts that fail to recognize both the bodily and spiritual needs of persons, the cardinal warned, are “kind of flawed - it’s not quite complete.”
Similarly, efforts that promote “norms which negatively affect human growth and development,” Cardinal Turkson told CNA, pose the risk of “ideological colonization” and the pushing of harmful ideas as contingencies for development to happen in the first place.
Despite the risks of shortcomings, and collaboration in facing global struggles is a necessity – and a reason why Cardinal Turkson was disappointed to hear the United States would be re-evaluating its relationship with the Paris climate agreement. Cardinal Turkson played a major role in helping to broker the 2015 Paris climate agreement. “The truth is that climate is a global public good and not limited to any country, not limited to any nation,” he said, advocating for the acceptance of “global responsibility” for the health of the environment.
Yet, while these issues are global, response to them – both in policy and in politics – have local sources to first consult. Cardinal Turkson granted that it was understandable for a leader to reconsider the deal’s economic burdens or the weight of participation in the agreement on a given nation’s citizens. He cautioned, though, that complete abandonment should not be done without consulting other nations party to the agreement and also those threatened by climate change.
When looking towards the future, another issue the United States, Europe and other countries have to consider is the question of migration, Archbishop Tomasi stated. Pointing to special initiatives by the Holy See on migration and refugees, Archbishop Tomasi called for a global response and innovative solutions to the questions of migration.
“The fact that the Pope wants to show a special interest in migration is to emphasize the fact that that migration is not a European problem, it’s a global problem,” he said. “It touches the Americas, it touches Australia, it touches Asia, and in this sense, he wants to emphasize the need for governments to address this issue in a global way.”
An integrated, complete response to migration will require more than just readjustment of quotas or physical resettlement of migrants, the archbishop said, but considering how immigrants and refugees already fit into receiving societies. “It is in the self-interest of the United States, as it is in the self-interest of Europe, to look at immigration in a more constructive and positive way, and look at integration, rather than just debate how many we can take in.” He pointed to many industries in Western nations that rely upon immigrant labor or support.
Yet, he granted, there are serious challenges to consider, such as the integration of new immigrants into existing communities. These issues, he challenged “are very fundamental issues.”
Still, Archbishop Tomasi said, in all of these issues, Catholics who live in the United States can have a global impact. “The presence of the Catholic community in the United States plays a role in influencing the government or creating public culture.”
“It has an impact outside the United States,” Archbishop Tomasi said. “In that sense, given the political preeminence of our country, if the Catholic community succeeded in promoting certain aspects of life and culture that are acceptable in the American context, they would have an impact outside.”
Source: Catholic News Agency…
Catholics, Orthodox Must Work Toward Unity in Diversity, Pope Says
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Junno Arocho Esteves || 10 May 2017
In a letter to Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II, Pope Francis said he hoped that both their churches can continue along the path of true unity and communion.
The bond between the Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church is a reminder "to intensify our common efforts to persevere in the search for visible unity in diversity, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit," the pope wrote in a letter to the patriarch May 10.
"Along this path, we are sustained by the powerful intercession and example of the martyrs. May we continue to advance together on our journey toward the same eucharistic table, and grow in love and reconciliation," he said.
The letter commemorated the "Day of friendship between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church," which marks the 44th anniversary of the first meeting between Blessed Paul VI and Pope Shenouda III.
Recalling his visit April 28-29 to Cairo, Pope Francis expressed his appreciation for the agreement he and Pope Tawadros signed ending a long disagreement between the two churches over the sacrament of baptism.
In the joint declaration, the two leaders declared they "will seek sincerely not to repeat the baptism that has been administered in either of our churches for any person who wishes to join the other."
Pope Francis said he was "especially grateful that we have strengthened our baptismal unity in the body of Christ."
He also assured Pope Tawadros of his prayers "for you, and for peace in Egypt and the Middle East."
"May the Spirit of peace bestow on us an increase of hope, friendship and harmony," the pope said.
Vatican Conference Unites Science and Religion's Search for Truth
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Junno Arocho Esteves || 08 May 2017
Science and religion are not at odds but are united in the continuing search for truth in unlocking the mysteries of the cosmos.
The scientific conference titled, "Black Holes, Gravitational Waves and Space-Time Singularities," is an opportunity to show that "the church supports good science," said Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, director of the Vatican Observatory.
"We are hoping that this meeting will also be an encounter of people with very different opinions but very close friendships that come from having the same common desire to understand the truth of the universe and how we can understand that truth," he told journalists May 8.
Renowned experts from around the world were to meet at Vatican Observatory in Castel Gandolfo for the May 9-12 conference, which seeks to bring together science and religion in the continuing search for truth in understanding the mysteries of the universe, he said.
The 2016 discovery of the existence of gravitational waves, predicted nearly 100 years ago by Albert Einstein in his general theory of relativity, was to be one of the topics of discussion. The discovery could open a new chapter in understanding celestial events and black hole regions in the universe, something that previously could only be hypothesized.
The conference also will celebrate the scientific legacy of Msgr. George Lemaitre, one of the fathers of the theory that the expanding universe could be traced to an origin point, also known as the "Big Bang theory."
As historic as Msgr. Lemaitre's theory was, Brother Consolmagno said, the Belgian priest was also mindful that the God's creation of the universe wasn't just a one-time occurrence but an event "that occurs continually."
"If you look at God as merely the thing that started the Big Bang, you reduce God to a nature god, like Jupiter throwing lightning bolts," he said. "That is not the God we as Christians believe in. We must believe in a God who is supernatural and we then recognize God is who is responsible for the existence of the universe and our science tells us how he did it."
Dr. Alfio Bonanno, an Italian cosmologist at the National Institute for Astrophysics, told journalists that the conference also aims to dispel the "myth" that religion fears science, because the search for truth "will bring us to God."
"We should not be afraid. Fear is not from God. Rather, we should go in search of this truth because truth -- if we have this attitude of humility which was (Msgr.) Lemaitre's attitude -- we can also change our ideological preconceptions," he said.
"The search for truth is what unites us," Brother Consolmagno added. "Those of us who are religious will recognize in the truth the presence of God, but you don't have to make that theological leap to have a desire to know truth."
"The first step in recognizing the truth is that you don't already have it," he said, adding that people cannot consider themselves good scientists nor good religious people "if we think that our work is done."
Regarding intelligent design, Brother Consolmagno said that its original intention as a way of looking at the universe and seeing "the design of a good God" has been misused.
"If you mean that you can use our scientific ignorance as a way proving the existence of God, that would not be a God I would want to believe in," he said.
God, he continued, is not something one arrives to at the end of scientific research, but rather its starting point. In that way, "we then can see the hand of God in how we observe the universe."
"I am afraid of a God that could be proved by science because I know my science well enough to not trust it," the director of the Vatican Observatory said.
Brother Consolmagno said it was important for scientists who are believers to make their science known to their fellow parishioners and remind them that "science was an invention of the medieval universities that the church founded."
"The logic of science comes out of the logic of theology and if there is a rivalry, it's a sibling rivalry," he said. "We need to know that it's a crime against science to say, 'only atheists can do it' because that would eliminate so many wonderful people from so many different religions who could contribute so much to science."
Pope Urges Vatican Communications to go Digital amid Ongoing Reform
Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Hannah Brockhaus || 04 May 2017
Pope Francis told the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications, which is holding their first plenary assembly this week, that given a growing digital culture throughout the world, new media must become a primary platform for spreading the Gospel.
“Studying new ways and means to communicate the Gospel of mercy to all people, in the heart of different cultures, through the media that the new digital cultural context makes available to our contemporaries” is something that is “very much in my heart,” Pope Francis said May 4.
He spoke to members of his Secretariat for Communications, which was formed in June 2015 as part of his ongoing reform of the Roman Curia, during their first plenary assembly.
The assembly is taking place May 3-5 at the Vatican and gathers members of the secretariat, which is headed by Msgr. Dario Edoardo Vigano.
In his audience with the plenary participants, Francis said the word “reform” is something we shouldn’t be afraid of. To reform, he said, isn’t just “repainting” things, but is rather “giving another form to things, organizing them in a different way.”
“And it must be done with intelligence, meekness, but also...also, allow me the word, with a bit of ‘violence,’” he said, but stressed that its a “good violence to reform things.”
More than just merging the Vatican’s various communications entities, the secretariat has the task of building “a truly new institution” that has arisen from the need for a “so-called ‘digital convergence,’” he said.
Whereas in the past each form of expression had its own medium in either newspapers, books, photographs, television, radio and CDs, now all of these forms of communications, are transmitted “with a single code that exploits the binary system.”
In this context, he pointed to the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, which will officially join the secretariat next year, saying it “will have to find a new and different way to reach a number of readers greater to what it can achieve in paper format.”
As of now the paper operates primarily in daily and weekly print format, with a limited online presence in its various languages.
Pope Francis also turned to Vatican Radio, which broadcasts papal and Vatican news several languages throughout the world, saying the entity will need to be revisited “according to new models and adapted to the modern technologies and needs of our contemporaries.”
He made a point to emphasize the attention Vatican Radio has given to broadcasting in countries will little access to technology, such as certain countries in Africa, noting that services to these places “have never been abandoned.”
In addition to L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican Publishing House and the Vatican Typography office will also be merged into the greater working community of the secretariat, which is something the Pope said will require “availability to harmonize” with their “new productive and distributive design.”
“The work is great, the challenge is great, but it can be done. It must be done,” he said, stressing the need to for a willingness to work together as all of the changes and merges take place.
As the study commissions within the secretariat move forward in identifying new paths and proposals, the Pope told them to be “courageous” in the criteria they choose, asking that the guiding criteria be an “apostolic and missionary one, with special attention to situations of discomfort, poverty, difficulty.”
“In this way, it becomes possible to bring the Gospel to everyone, to optimize human resources, without replacing the communication of the local Churches and, at the same time, supporting the ecclesial communities most in need.”
He concluded his speech stressing the need to “not let ourselves be overcome by the temptation of attachment to a glorious past,” and encouraged members instead to make “a great effort of teamwork to better respond to the new communicative challenges that the culture of today asks of us, without fear and without imagining apocalyptic scenarios.”
Pope Francis established the Secretariat for Communications on June 27, 2015, with the promulgation of the motu proprio, “The current communication context.”
One of its primary responsibilities is the restructuring and consolidation of the Holy See’s various communications outlets, which were previously ran as individual offices.
The dicastery will eventually oversee Vatican Radio, L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican Television Center, the Holy See Press Office, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Vatican Internet Service, the Vatican Typography, the Photograph Service, and the Vatican publishing house.
Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, previously head of Vatican Television, is prefect of the department. On April 12, 2017, the Pope named a group of 13 new consultors, including EWTN's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Warsaw
Source: Catholic News Agency…
Church Needs Missionaries, Not 'clericalized' Laity, Pope Says
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Junno Arocho Esteves || 27 April 2017
The Catholic Church needs laypeople with a missionary spirit, which means Catholics do not have to try to force members into a vocation that is the Holy Spirit's to give, Pope Francis said.
The temptation to impose a vocation on laypeople as some kind of validation of their service in the church "worries me," the pope said April 27 during a meeting with members of Catholic Action.
"What has happened many times in dioceses?" the pope asked. "A priest comes and says, 'I have a phenomenal layman who does this, this and that; he is a good organizer. What if we make him a deacon?' Stop! Don't give him a vocation that is up to the Holy Spirit to give him. Do not clericalize!"
Catholic Action's meeting with Pope Francis kicked off a three-day forum designed to reflect on the theme "Catholic Action in mission with all and for all."
Warmly greeted by some 300 participants from around the world, Pope Francis was presented with several meaningful gifts. Two members from Lampedusa, Italy, where thousands of refugees arrive each year, gave the pope an English copy of the Psalms and the New Testament found in one of the fishing boats used by migrants.
After being told that the book was found with a folded page marking Psalm 55, a song of supplication in times of need, the pope reverently took the gift and kissed it.
He was also greeted by a family from Bethlehem. The children, the pope was told, wanted to teach Pope Francis the Sign of the Cross in Arabic to prepare him for his visit to Egypt the following day.
Bending over and attentively listening to the instruction of the twin siblings, Pope Francis placed his hands above their heads and thanked them.
In his speech, the pope told members that a true missionary apostolate involves "going out" to those in need or who are far away from the church.
However, in calling others to conversion, the pope said Christians must avoid the practice of proselytism or coercion, "which goes against the Gospel."
"It makes me really sad to see people who are in ministry -- lay, consecrated, priests, bishops -- who are still playing the proselytism card. No! It is done through attraction. That is the genius phrase of Pope Benedict XVI," he said.
The pope also called on laymen and laywomen to be agents of mercy to those who are far from the church rather than acting like "border control" agents.
"You cannot be more restrictive than the church nor more papist than the pope," he said. "Please, open the doors, don't administer Christian perfection tests because you will only promote a hypocritical phariseeism."
Prayer, formation and sacrifice are also crucial in preparing laypeople to become missionaries, otherwise, "there is no fruit," the pope added.
Groups and movements like Catholic Action, he continued, must "take flesh" and be willing to serve within their dioceses while avoiding the temptation to become self-serving, which would otherwise remove them from their true calling.
"A Catholic Action that only pretends and does not take flesh isn't Catholic. It is action, but it is not Catholic. To take flesh doesn't mean what I want, it means what the church wants," Pope Francis said.
Instead, he said, members of the international lay organization must continue to make their presence known in all areas of life, from the world of politics and business to prisons, hospitals and factories.
"Do not become an institution of exclusives that doesn't say anything to anyone nor to the church. Everyone has a right to be evangelized," the pope said.
Mercy is Key to the Life of Faith, Pope Francis Says
Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Elise Harris || 23 April 2017
On Divine Mercy Sunday Pope Francis said mercy is essential in living the Christian life, because it not only allows us to understand ourselves and God better, but it also prompts us to recognize and help those in need.
“Let us never forget that mercy is the keystone of the life of faith, and concrete way with which we give visibility to the Resurrection of Jesus,” the Pope said April 23.
Mercy, he said, is understood as a true awareness of “the mystery” that the Church is living, particularly during the Easter season.
Not only is mercy understood in various ways such as through the senses, intuition and reason, but we can also become aware of it through an act of mercy that we personally experience, he said, adding that “this opens the door of the mind to better understand the mystery of God and of our personal existence.”
“It makes us understand that violence, resentment and revenge have no meaning, and the first victim is whoever lives these sentiments, because it deprives them of their own dignity,” he said.
Additionally, mercy also allows us to open the door of our hearts and draw close to those who are “alone and marginalized,” recognizing those in need and finding the right words to say to comfort them.
“Mercy warms the heart and makes it sensitive to the needs of our brothers with sharing and participation,” Francis said, explaining that in the end, mercy “commits everyone to being instruments of justice, reconciliation and peace.”
Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims during his Sunday Regina Coeli address on Divine Mercy Sunday, the first Sunday after Easter. The Regina Coeli is traditionally prayed instead of the Angelus throughout the liturgical Easter season.
In his brief speech, the Pope noted now the Sunday after Easter in the past was referred to as “in albis,” meaning “in white,” as a reminder of the white garments worn by those who had come into the Church on Easter Sunday.
In the time after Easter, he said, Sunday takes on “an even more illuminating” aspect, especially considering the previous traditional custom in which the garment would be worn by the person for the entire week after their baptism until the following Sunday, when they began their new life in Christ and the Church.
Francis then pointed to how the Sunday after Easter was later designated as Divine Mercy Sunday by Pope Saint John Paul II during the Jubilee year 2000.
“It was a beautiful institution!” he said, noting that his own Extraordinary Jubilee for Mercy concluded just a few months ago, on the Nov. 20, 2016, Solemnity of Christ the King.
In wake of the Jubilee, Divine Mercy Sunday “invites us to take up with strength the grace that comes from the mercy of God,” he said, noting that in the day’s Gospel from John, Jesus appears to his disciples in the upper room, and gives them the message: “As the Father has sent me, so I also send you.”
After saying this, Jesus then entrusts them with a special task, telling them “receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven.”
“This is the meaning of the mercy that is presented to us on the day of the Resurrection of Jesus as forgiveness of sins,” Pope Francis said, explaining that the Risen Christ gave his Church as a first task “his same mission of bringing to all the concrete announcement of forgiveness.”
Francis said this commission is a visible sign of Christ’s mercy, which brings both peace of heart and the joy of a renewed encounter with the Lord.
He closed his address praying that Mary, the Mother of Mercy, would “help us to believe and live all of this with joy,” and led pilgrims in praying the Regina Coeli.
The Pope then greeted pilgrims from various countries around the world, giving a special shout-out to Spain, where yesterday the priest Fr. Luis Antonio Rosa Ormières was proclaimed a Blessed, and to all youth who had been confirmed or are currently candidates for Confirmation.
He then thanked everyone who sent him messages wishing him a happy Easter before asking for prayers and giving his blessing.
Source: Catholic News Agency…
Pope Francis among Time Magazine's 100 most Influential People
Catholic News Agency (CNA) || 20 April 2017
Time Magazine has released its 2017 list of the world’s 100 most influential people, and Pope Francis is among the leaders highlighted by the publication.
The nomination included a brief reflection on Pope Francis, written by Cardinal Blase J. Cupich of Chicago, who reflected on the Pope’s humility, saying that his powerful witness is what attracts so many people to his message.
Cardinal Cupich recalled that in his first interview after being elected to the pontificate, Pope Francis acknowledged himself as a sinner, and that when he hears confessions in St. Peter’s Basilica, he also goes to confession himself, “because one cannot accompany a suffering world without acknowledging one’s own faults.”
“The same goes for the church Francis leads,” the cardinal reflected. “Before being elected Pope, Francis gave a speech to his fellow Cardinals warning against becoming a ‘self-referential’ church, rather than one that goes out of itself to the margins of society to be with those who suffer.”
“That is where God is working in the world and where he calls us to be. This has rung especially true this year, as Francis has spoken out on the need to welcome refugees amid a global crisis,” he continued.
Other people on the Time Magazine list include U.S. President Donald Trump, actress Viola Davis, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, NBA star LeBron James, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Source: Catholic News Agency…
Pope Gives Youths Three Missions before Synod, World Youth Day
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Cindy Wooden || 10 April 2017
On the eve of Palm Sunday, Pope Francis gave young people several missions: to ask their grandparents what their dreams were; to work to make those dreams reality; and to let their bishops and the pope himself know what they need from the church.
Officially launching the youths' preparation for the 2018 Synod of Bishops and for World Youth Day 2019 in Panama, Pope Francis gathered with youths and young adults for an evening prayer vigil April 8 at Rome's Basilica of St. Mary Major.
The 80-year-old pope surprised some people with two references to his own age, first pointing out that while they are preparing for the future, "at my age we are preparing to go." The young people present objected loudly. "No?" the pope responded, "Who can guarantee life? No one."
Later, returning to his appeal that they speak to their grandparents, the pope said, "I don't know if it will be me, but the pope will be in Panama and he will ask you, 'Did you speak with your elders?'"
Pope Francis arrived at the basilica with a prepared text, but as a Franciscan sister and a young man who survived a terrible accident shared their stories, the pope took notes, eventually setting aside the text.
The theme of the world Synod of Bishops, which will meet in October 2018, is: "Young people, faith and vocational discernment."
"But let's just call it, 'the synod of young people,'" the pope said. It should be "a synod from which no young person feels excluded."
The church could hold a synod involving Catholic youths active in parish life or Catholic organizations and lay movements. But Pope Francis said that is not what the church or young people need.
"This is the synod of young people and we all want to hear them," including young people who have moved away from the church or are questioning the existence of God, he said. "Every young person has something to say to others, something to say to the adults, to the priests, sisters, bishops and the pope. We all need to hear you."
Young people must harness their energy and ideals and set out, "one alongside another, but looking to the future," he said. "The world today needs young people who go in haste," like Mary went to her pregnant cousin Elizabeth.
Franciscan Sister Marialisa, 30, who shared her vocation story, is an example, the pope said. Not every path she took was the right one, but eventually she discovered God's purpose for her life and the way she was called to serve others.
The Italian nun told the young people she decided church wasn't for her after she was confirmed at the age of 13. A couple of years later, a friend asked her to join a project the parish youth group was doing, "and I accepted only because there were a bunch of boys who went, too."
Sister Marialisa said her involvement grew and she discovered a group of people who didn't care what she looked like or what she wore, but cared about her. They helped her discover Jesus and his love.
Convinced she wanted to be an actress, she went to school in Rome, but she still had a nagging feeling something was missing from her life. She met the Franciscans and decided she needed to find out if being a consecrated woman was the way she was to live "the vocation to love." Now she works with children in an area of southern Italy where the Mafia is strong. She said she tries to help them discover they are loved and have a right "to dream and dream big."
Pope Francis said too often the world treats young people as "disposable" by not providing an adequate education or job opportunities. And, he said, "many young people must flee, immigrate to other lands. It's harsh to say, but often young people are disposable material and we cannot tolerate this."
Life will be challenging and involve taking risks, the pope told the young people, but they must have the courage to change the world and to start over when they fail.
"And try to find the beauty in little things," the pope said, pointing as an example to Pompeo Barbieri, who also shared his story with the young people.
The 23-year-old Barbieri recounted how, at the age of 8, firefighters pulled him from the rubble of his school in San Giuliano di Puglia after an earthquake in 2002. His teacher and all 27 of his classmates died when the school collapsed.
Injured and needing a wheelchair, Barbieri's parents were told swimming would help and now he's a top Paralympian, he said. "That suffering, this wheelchair, have taught me the beauty of little things and remind me each day of how fortunate I am."
"I wouldn't change almost anything about my life or that tragedy except I wish my friends were still here. Just that," he said.
Global Catholic Population Tops 1.28 Billion; Half are in 10 Countries
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Cindy Wooden || 06 April 2017
Taken together, the 10 countries with the most Catholics account for almost 56 percent of the world's Catholic population, the Vatican reported.
The 2017 "Annuario Pontificio," or Vatican yearbook, and a new edition of the Vatican Statistical Yearbook report that the countries with the most Catholics are, in order: Brazil, Mexico, Philippines, United States, Italy, France, Colombia, Spain, Congo and Argentina.
The number of baptized Catholics grew 1 percent in a year to reach 1.285 billion as of Dec. 31, 2015, the date to which the statistics in both books refer.
Looking at the period 2010-2015, the global Catholic population increased by 7.4 percent, the Vatican said. Africa continued to be the continent with the largest percentage growth, increasing by 19.4 percent over the same five-year period. The increase in Africa outpaced the growth of the general population.
In Europe, the Americas and Asia, generally speaking, the statistical growth or decline of the Catholic population coincided with the growth or decline of the population as a whole over the five-year period, according to the Central Office for Church Statistics.
Of the world's 1.285 billion Catholics, it said, almost 49 percent live in North or South America, including the Caribbean. Europe is home to 22.2 percent of the global Catholic population; 17.3 percent are in Africa; 11 percent are in Asia; and just under 1 percent are in Oceania and the South Pacific.
At the end of 2015, it said, there were 670,320 professed women religious in the world, 415,656 priests, 54,229 religious brothers, 45,255 permanent deacons and 5,304 bishops.
The number of bishops and of permanent deacons were the only two of those categories to experience growth from 2014 to 2015. Potentially stalling a trend of annual growth that began in 2000, the number of priests in the world dropped by 136 during 2015. The increased number of diocesan and religious-order priests in Africa could not make up for the strong drop in Europe, which lost 2,502 priests in one year.
Looking at a statistically more relevant period, 2010-2015, the number of diocesan priests globally rose, while the number of priests belonging to religious orders fell.
The impact on Catholics in the pew is obvious, the Vatican said. In 2010 there were an average of 2,900 Catholics for every Catholic priest in the world; in 2015, the ratio had climbed to 3,091 Catholics per priest.
The number of seminarians in the world, the office said, "touched a maximum in 2011" and has since experience "a gradual contraction. The only exception remains Africa, which for the moment does not seem to be touched by the vocations crisis and can be confirmed as the geographical area with the greatest potential."
Pope to Seminarians: Using Church for Personal Ambition is a 'plague'
Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Carol Glatz || 03 April 2017
Do not settle for a worry-free, comfortable life with an unhealthy attachment to money and an ambitious heart yearning for honors, Pope Francis told seminarians studying in Rome.
"I'm telling you this as a brother, father and friend. Please, shun ecclesial careerism. It is a plague. Avoid it," he said April 1 during an audience at the Vatican with students, faculty, staff and alumni of the Pontifical Spanish College of St. Joseph in Rome. The college was celebrating the 125th anniversary of its founding.
Everything hinges on loving the Lord with all of one's heart, soul, mind and strength, he said, citing the Gospel of Mark (12:30).
That is what determines whether a person will be able to say "yes" to Jesus or turn one's back on him like the rich young man did in the Gospels, he said.
"You cannot settle for leading an orderly and comfortable life that lets you live without worry unless you feel the need to cultivate a spirit of poverty rooted in the heart of Christ," the pope said.
Priests must have "an appropriate relationship with the world and earthly goods" if they are to gain authentic freedom as children of God, he said.
"Do not forget this -- the devil always comes in through the pocket, always."
Give thanks for what one possesses, he said, and "generously and willingly renounce the superfluous in order to be near the poor and weak."
While Pope Francis said he wasn't asking them to "sell their shirt" like Blessed Manuel Domingo y Sol, the college founder, asked people to be willing to do, the pope said he was asking them to be witnesses to Jesus through a lifestyle based on "simplicity and austerity" so as to be "credible proponents of a true social justice."
Priestly formation cannot depend solely on academic formation, which breeds "all the ideologies that infect the church with every type of clerical academicism."
Studies must intertwine academic, spiritual, community and apostolic formation all together, and when one of these four legs is missing, he said, "formation begins to limp and the priest ends up paralyzed."
Let Go of 'false lights' that Lead Down the Wrong Path, Pope Says
Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Elise Harris || 26 March 2017
On Sunday Pope Francis said Lent is a key time to open ourselves to the light of Christ and let go of all the “false lights” that lead us away from him, taking us instead down a path of darkness marked by our own selfishness.
“If now I were to ask you, do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? Do you believe that he can change your heart? Do you think you can see reality as he sees it, not as we do? Do you believe that he is light, that he gives us the true light?” the Pope asked March 26, telling pilgrims to respond in silence.
The walk in the light of Christ means to convert, he said, explaining that this transformation means above all “abandoning false lights.”
One of these false lights, he said, is the “cold and fatuous light of prejudice against others, because prejudice distorts reality and builds hate against those who we judge without mercy and condemn without an appeal.”
Gossip is an example of this, he said, noting that to speak badly of others leads away from light, and down the path of darkness.
Another false light that is particularly “seductive and ambiguous,” he said, “is personal interest.”
“If we evaluate men and things based on the criteria of our profit, our pleasure, our prestige, we will not live the truth in relationships and in situations,” the Pope said. “If we go down this path of seeking only personal interests, we will walk in darkness.”
Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Sunday Angelus address, focusing on the day’s Gospel reading from John which recounts the healing of man blind from birth who, after receiving his sight, recognizes and worships Jesus as the Son of God.
“With this miracle Jesus manifests himself as the light of the world,” Francis said, explaining that the blind man represents each of us, who, blinded by sin, “need a new light, that of the faith, which Jesus has given us.”
Referring to the Gospel passage, Francis noted that it was precisely by “opening to the mystery of Christ” that the man gained his sight.
Francis pointed to the line in the passage where Jesus asks the man “do you believe in the Son of Man?” and tells him that “you have seen him, it is he who is speaking with you.”
The man then prostrated himself and worshipped Jesus, the Pope observed, saying the episode serves as an invitation to reflect on our own faith in Christ, and to remember the moment we received it in our Baptism.
Baptism “is the first sacrament of the faith: the sacrament which make us ‘come to the light,’ through rebirth in water and in the Holy Spirit,” he said, noting how the blind man’s eyes were opened after bathing in the Pool of Siloam, upon Jesus’ request.
The man’s need for healing and rebirth is a sign of the times when we fail to recognize “that Jesus is the light of the world, when we look elsewhere, when we prefer to rely on small lights, when we fumble in the darkness.”
The fact that that blind man didn’t have a name, Pope Francis said, “helps us to see ourselves with our face and our name in his story.”
We have also been “illuminated” by Christ through our Baptism, he said, explaining that because of this, we, like the blind man, “are called to act like sons of light.”
But to do this “requires a radical change of mentality, a capacity to judge men and things according to a new scale of values, which comes from God,” the Pope said, adding that Baptism itself requires “a firm and decisive choice” to let go of the false lights, and live as children of the true light of Christ.
Francis concluded his address by praying that Mary, welcomed Jesus as the “light of the world,” would intercede for us in obtaining the grace needed to really welcome “the light of faith” into our lives during Lent.
“May this new illumination transform us in attitude and action, so that also we, starting from our poverty, may be bearers of a ray of the light of Christ.”
After leading pilgrims in the traditional Marian prayer, Pope Francis offered special thanks to the diocese of Milan for his March 25 pastoral visit.
He also gave a shout-out to Blessed José álvarez-Benavides y de la Torre and his 114 martyr companions, who were beatified yesterday in Spain.
“These priests, religious and laity were heroic witnesses of Christ and his Gospel of fraternal peace and reconciliation,” he said, and prayed that their example and intercession would “sustain the commitment of the Church in building the civilization of love.”
Source: Catholic News Agency…
Pope Francis Prays for Victims of Deadly London Attack
Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Elise Harris || 23 March 2017
After four people died in an apparent terrorist attack in London yesterday, Pope Francis has voiced his sorrow and solidarity for the victims and their families, entrusting them and the nation to God’s mercy.
“Deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and of the injuries caused by the attack in central London, His Holiness Pope Francis expresses his prayerful solidarity with all those affected by this tragedy,” a March 23 letter signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin read.
The Pope commended the souls of those who died “to the loving mercy of Almighty God,” and prayed for “divine strength and peace upon their grieving families,” while assuring of his prayer for the entire nation.
Francis’ letter comes the day after a deadly March 22 attack on London’s Parliament took the lives of four people.
During the attack, a car apparently plowed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before crashing into the fence surrounding the Parliament building. The assailant then attempted to enter the Parliament building with a knife, stabbing one police officer before being shot by other officers on the grounds.
According to the Guardian, four people were killed, including the police officer who was stabbed and one man believed to be the assailant. About 20 others were reported injured, some severely.
Nearby government buildings were placed on lockdown while authorities worked to ensure the safety of the area. Scotland Yard said the attack is being treated “as a terrorist incident until we know otherwise.”
The incident marks the first mass-casualty terrorist attack in Britain since the 2005 bomb attack on London that claimed the lives of 52 people when four bombers blew themselves up in the city’s public transportation system.
March 22 also marks the one-year anniversary of the Brussels airport bombings that left more than 30 dead and 300 injured. Those bombings were declared the deadliest act of terrorism in Belgium's history.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, issued a March 23 statement to the priests and parishes of his diocese saying yesterday’s attacks “have shocked us all.”
“The kind of violence we have seen all too often in other places has again brought horror and killing to this city,” he said, and urged pastors to lead their people in prayer, particularly for the victims and their families.
He offered special prayers for victim Aysha Frade, who was killed by the car on Westminster Bridge and whose two young children attend the diocese’s St. Mary of the Angels Primary School.
He also offered special prayers for Frade’s husband and a group of French students who were injured in the attack, as well as police officer Keith Palmer, the officer who died, and his family.
“Let our voice be one of prayer, of compassionate solidarity and of calm,” the cardinal said.
“All who believe in God, Creator and Father of every person, will echo this voice, for faith in God is not a problem to be solved, but a strength and a foundation on which we depend.”
Source: Catholic News Agency…