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Retired Pope Says Criticism against Pope Francis is 'foolish prejudice'

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Junno Arocho Esteves || 14 March 2018

pope benedict xvi defends pope francis 2018On the eve of the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis' election, retired Pope Benedict XVI defended the continuity of the church's teaching under his successor and dismissed those who criticize the pope's theological foundations.

In a letter sent to Msgr. Dario Vigano, prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for Communication, Pope Benedict applauded the publication of a new book series titled, "The Theology of Pope Francis."

"It contradicts the foolish prejudice of those who see Pope Francis as someone who lacks a particular theological and philosophical formation, while I would have been considered solely a theorist of theology with little understanding of the concrete lives of today's Christian," the retired pontiff wrote.

The Secretariat for Communication released a photograph of the letter in which the final lines of the first page were blurred. While Pope Benedict said early in the letter that he hoped the 11 volumes would put an end to the "foolish prejudice" against Pope Francis, in the blurred lines the retired pope said he could not write a complete theological reflection on the 11 volumes because he had not read them and would be physically unable to do so in time for the presentation of the volumes to the public.

Msgr. Vigano read from the letter, including the blurred lines, during a presentation of the 11-volume series March 12.

The Vatican press office did not say why the lines were blurred, but said the Vatican never intended to publish the complete text. In fact, the second page of the letter -- except for Pope Benedict's signature, is covered by books.

Before reading the letter, Msgr. Vigano said he sent a message to Pope Francis and Pope Benedict regarding the publication of the book series.

He also asked if Pope Benedict would be "willing to write a page or a page and a half of dense theology in his clear and punctual style that (we) would have liked to read this evening."

Instead, the retired pontiff "wrote a beautiful, personal letter that I will read to you," Msgr. Vigano said.

Pope Benedict thanked Msgr. Vigano for having given him a copy of "The Theology of Pope Francis" book series, which was authored by several notable theologians.

"These small volumes reasonably demonstrate that Pope Francis is a man with profound philosophical and theological formation and are helpful to see the interior continuity between the two pontificates, even with all the differences in style and temperament," he wrote.

Pope Benedict has made no secret of his affection for and admiration of Pope Francis.

During a Vatican celebration for the 65th anniversary of Pope Benedict's priestly ordination June 28, 2016, the retired pope expressed his sincere gratefulness to Pope Francis, saying that his goodness "from the first moment of your election, in every moment of my life here, touches me deeply."

"More than the beauty found in the Vatican Gardens, your goodness is the place where I live; I feel protected," Pope Benedict said.


Five Years of Pope Francis: A Paradigm Shift in Mercy, Migrants and Marriage

The Globe and Mail || By Nicole Winfield || 12 March 2018

five years of pope francis 2018Whenever Pope Francis visits prisons, during his whirlwind trips to the world’s peripheries or at a nearby jailhouse in Rome, he always tells inmates that he, too, could have ended up behind bars: “Why you and not me?” he asks.

That humble empathy and the ease with which he walks in others’ shoes has won Francis admirers around the globe and confirmed his place as a consummate champion of the poor and disenfranchised.

But as he marks the fifth anniversary of his election Tuesday and looks ahead to an already troubled 2018, Francis faces criticism for both the merciful causes he has embraced and the ones he has neglected. With women and sex abuse topping the latter list, a consensus view is forming that history’s first Latin American pope is perhaps a victim of unrealistic expectations and his own culture.

Nevertheless, Francis’ first five years have been a dizzying introduction to a new kind of pope, one who prizes straight talk over theology and mercy over morals — all for the sake of making the Church a more welcoming place for those who have felt excluded.

“I think he’s fantastic, very human, very simple,” Marina Borges Martinez, a 77-year-old retiree, said as she headed into evening Mass at a church in Sao Paulo, Brazil. “I think he’s managed to bring more people into the church with the way he is.”

Many point to his now famous “Who am I to judge?” comment about a gay priest as the turning point that disaffected Catholics had longed for and were unsure they would ever see.

Others hold out Francis’ cautious opening to allowing Catholics who remarry outside the church to receive Communion as his single most revolutionary step. It was contained in a footnote to his 2016 document “The Joy of Love.”

“I have met people who told me they returned to the Catholic faith because of this pope,” Ugandan Archbishop John Baptist Odama, who heads the local conference of Catholic bishops, said.

“Simple as he may be, he has passed a very powerful message about our God who loves everybody and who wants the salvation of everyone.”

Another area in which Francis has sought change extends into global politics, with his demand for governments and individuals to treat migrants as brothers and sisters in need, not as threats to society’s wellbeing and security.

After a visit to a refugee camp in Lesbos, Greece, Francis brought a dozen Syrian Muslim refugees home with him on the papal plane. The Vatican has turned over three apartments to refugee families. Two African migrants recently joined the Vatican athletics team.

His call has gone largely unanswered in much of Europe and the United States, though, where opposing immigration has become a tool in political campaigns. Italians in the pope’s backyard voted overwhelmingly this month for parties that have promised to crack down on migration, including with forced expulsions.

The Pew Research Center found that while Francis still enjoys a consistently high 84 per centfavourability ratings among U.S. Catholics, an increasing number on the political right believe him to be “too liberal” and naive. Despite all the talk of “the Francis effect” bringing Catholics back to church, Pew found no evidence of a rise in self-proclaimed Catholics or Mass-goers.

Whether he ultimately will be remembered as a unifying or divisive figure, the world has gotten to know the man formerly known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the son of Italian immigrants to Argentina who emerged on the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica as pope on March 13, 2013, and quipped that his brother cardinals had to search to the “end of the Earth” to find a new leader.

There have been magical moments: When Francis wept hearing the life story of an Albanian priest who was tortured during communist rule, and later made the clergyman a cardinal. When his whispery voice weakened as he met with Myanmar’s Rohingya refugees and told them, “The presence of God today is also called Rohingya.”

But not all are pleased.

When Francis created room for remarried Catholics to receive Communion, a few dozen traditionalist academics and clergy accused him of heresy. Four of his cardinals formally asked for clarification. Conservatives in the U.S. and Europe wrung their hands trying to square how Christ’s vicar on Earth could seemingly condone adultery under the guise of mercy.

“At the end of the day, ‘The Joy of Love’ is the result of a new paradigm that Pope Francis is bringing forward,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, said. “Probably the difficulty that exists in the church is due to this change of attitude that the pope is asking for.”

One cause Francis is accused of neglecting reared its head last week. A coalition of Catholic women gathered at Francis’ own Jesuit headquarters in Rome to demand he provide women with a voice and a place at the decision-making table in the Catholic Church.

“Women’s right to equality arises organically from divine justice. It does not and should not depend on ad hoc papal benevolence or magnaminity,” former Irish President Mary McAleese said.

To be fair, Francis appointed a study commission on ordaining women deacons. He has named a woman to head the Vatican City’s biggest cash cow, the Vatican Museums. He empowered ordinary priests, not just bishops, to absolve women who have had abortions and put Mary Magdalene on par with the male apostles by declaring a feast day in her honour.

But no woman heads a Holy See office, no woman sits on his kitchen cabinet. The Vatican’s women’s magazine ran a scathing expose this month of how nuns are treated like indentured servants by the bishops and cardinals they serve.

The other major unmet expectation is on the clerical sex abuse front. Francis set the bar high when he vowed “zero tolerance” for abuse, created an ad-hoc commission of experts to advise him and publicly pledged that bishops would be held accountable when they botched cases.

But he scrapped a planned tribunal to judge those bishops, allowed his advisory commission to lapse and most recently, shocked even his closest advisers by callously dismissing accusations of coverup lodged by victims of Chile’s most notorious predator priest.

The episode further cemented the impression that the 81-year-old Jesuit simply hasn’t grasped how important the scandal is in many parts of the world, and how his papacy will be judged by it.

Source: Globe and Mail… 


Vatican Conference Hopes to 'hack' into Social Issues

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Junno Arocho Esteves || 08 March 2018

hackathon at the vatican 2018The Vatican will host a fast-paced gathering of students, developers and entrepreneurs from around the world that aims to find high-tech solutions for complex global issues.

While issues addressed at the March 8-11 "VHacks: A hackathon at the Vatican" conference include the migrant and refugee crisis, the focus will be on viewing the problem from a different perspective, said Jesuit Father Michael Czerny, undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugee Section of the Vatican Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

"When we talk about migrants and refugees, we tend to talk about it in vast terms as if it were a huge problem or a so-called global problem. But in fact, it's a collection of very individual problems, particular problems of persons and of families," Father Czerny told Catholic News Service March 8.

Several tech giants, including Google and Microsoft, are sponsoring the 36-hour hackathon, which "is a sprint-like event in which multi-disciplinary teams (including computer programmers, graphic designers, project managers, etc.) collaborate to create solutions under a time constraint," a statement from VHacks said.

The 120 students attending the conference, including five students from Georgetown University, will seek to use technology to address other issues such as social inclusion and interfaith dialogue.

Speaking at a press briefing about the event, Msgr. Lucio Adrian Ruiz, secretary of the Vatican Secretariat for Communications, told journalists the idea of hosting a hackathon "was very important" for the Vatican and especially for Pope Francis.

"When I spoke to him about this idea, he was so happy and he said, 'We must do it!'" Msgr. Ruiz said. "We discussed it with him and he wanted this idea, this project, to be a reality."

Father Czerny told CNS that although the conference may not solve the migrant and refugee crisis on a global scale, he hoped it would use technology to come up with solutions for individuals such as apps that can help migrants find lost documents or a place to stay.

"Now you may say putting up somebody for a night or getting a document is not going to solve the global migration crisis," Father Czerny said. "But then I say that's partly because we are thinking wrongly. We're not understanding it from the viewpoint of the people who really need help and who can be helped if we identify the problems."

Aside from developing possible technological solutions to social issues, Father Czerny said the Vatican-sponsored hackathon helps young people become "more informed and especially more concerned about the migrant and refugee issue."

"These young people are future -- you might say -- activists and even leaders in the high-tech sector," Father Czerny told CNS. "And I am counting on them to bring this sensitivity, this awareness to their future work and their future leadership and this will be an improvement and a contribution."


Vatican Court Charges Former IOR President with Embezzlement

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Hannah Brockhaus || 05 March 2018

former ior president chargedA former president of the Institute of Religious Works, the so-called “Vatican Bank,” and his lawyer, have been ordered to stand trial at the Vatican on charges of embezzlement and money laundering.

According to a press release from the institute, Angelo Caloia, 78, president of the IOR from 1989 to 2009, and his lawyer, Gabriele Liuzzo, 94, are accused of participating in “unlawful conduct” from 2001-2008, during “the disposal of a considerable part of the institute’s real estate assets.”

The institute is seeking compensation for damages estimated at more than 50 million euro (62 million dollars). Caloia is the highest-ranking Holy See financial official to be indicted.

Former IOR director general Lelio Scaletti, who died Oct. 15, 2015, was part of the original investigation, launched in 2014 after complaints were lodged by the IOR. The trial is set to begin March 15.

According to the press release published by the IOR Feb. 26, the trial is an important step that “shows once again the significant commitment that IOR’s management has undertaken in the last four years in order to implement strong and transparent governance, which complies with the most rigorous international standards.”

It also stated that the institute “intends to pursue by civil and criminal judicial proceedings any illicit activity carried out to its detriment, no matter where it occurred and who performed it.”

The institute announced that it has also joined a civil suit, in addition to the criminal proceedings.

In February, a Vatican Court found former IOR general director, Paolo Cipriani and former deputy general director, Massimo Tulli, liable for mismanagement, and ordered them to compensate the IOR for resulting damages.

The news of the sentence against the IOR’s former senior managers was delivered Feb. 6 in a short release that provided no names, nor the amount of money to be compensated.

The Institute for Religious Works was founded in 1942 under Ven. Pius XII but has origins dating back to 1887. It aims to hold and administer finances designated for “religious works or charity,” its website says. It accepts deposits from legal entities or persons of the Holy See and of the Vatican City State. The main function of the bank is to manage bank accounts for religious orders and Catholic associations.

According to 2016 figures, the bank has about $7 billion in assets from almost 15,000 customers. It has about 100 employees and turned a profit of about $44 million.

The Board of Superintendence governs the bank under a six-member Commission of Cardinals. The commission is supervised by Cardinal Santos Abril y Castelló.

Since his election as Bishop of Rome in 2013, Pope Francis has sought to reform the Vatican’s bank and other financial aspects of the Holy See. The process has not been easy. There have been various debates about jurisdiction, oversight, and auditing; establishment of new laws and guidelines; and changes in key personnel and leadership.

Source: Catholic News Agency… 


Pope, Cardinal Advisers Studying Regional Tribunals for Abuse Cases

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By By Junno Arocho Esteves || 28 February 2018

vatican studying regional tribunals for abuse casesPope Francis and his international Council of Cardinals discussed the possibility of establishing regional tribunals around the world that would judge cases of sexual abuse allegedly committed by clergy, the Vatican spokesman said.

Greg Burke, the spokesman, confirmed a report published Feb. 27 on the website Vatican Insider that said the pope and his cardinal advisers were considering decentralizing the role of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in handling cases, but would not diminish the congregation's authority.

"I can say that this is one of the options. The pope himself spoke about this in one of his press conferences," Burke told journalists Feb. 28.

The Council of Cardinals, often referred to as the C9, held its first meeting of the year Feb. 26-28 with Pope Francis. The pope appointed the council members five years ago to advise him on the reform of the Roman Curia and on church governance.

During his flight to Rome from Fatima last May, Pope Francis spoke to reporters about the possibility of establishing regional tribunals. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the pope told journalists, was overwhelmed with "many delayed cases because they have been piling up." He added that discussions on the regional tribunals were "in the planning stage."

"For this, we are thinking of providing continent-wide assistance, one or two per continent. For example -- in Latin America -- one in Colombia, another in Brazil. They would be continental pre-tribunals or tribunals," he said.

According to Vatican Insider, the establishment of regional tribunals also would resolve the complication of dealing with cases in various countries with different laws and customs, thus allowing for a faster process in examining those cases.

Burke emphasized that if established, regional tribunals "would always be under" the authority of the doctrinal congregation.

The Vatican spokesman said the council also discussed the role of bishops' conferences and ways the conferences could contribute to discussions on theological issues in a more collegial spirit.

Pope Francis, in his 2013 exhortation, "The Joy of the Gospel," had written about the need for a greater role for bishops' conferences, asserting that "excessive centralization, rather than proving helpful, complicates the church's life and her missionary outreach."

Among other documents, Burke said, the Council of Cardinals looked at St. John Paul II's 1998 apostolic letter on the theological and juridical nature of bishops' conferences.

"It is a question of re-reading the motu proprio, 'Apostolos Suos,' in a spirit of healthy decentralization that the pope often speaks of (while) reaffirming that it is always he who guards unity in the church," Burke said.

The Council of Cardinals will meet again April 23-25. Its members are: Cardinals Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state; Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Sean P. O'Malley of Boston; Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile; Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India; Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo; George Pell, head of the Secretariat of the Economy; and Giuseppe Bertello, president of the commission governing Vatican City State.

Cardinal Pell, who is on a leave of absence while facing charges of sexual abuse filed against him in Australia, was not in attendance. Cardinal Monsengwo was unable to attend the first day of the meeting because of a flight cancellation due to a rare snowstorm that struck Rome Feb. 26, Burke said.


Cardinal Sarah: Communion in the Hand Part of ‘diabolical attack’ on Eucharist

Catholic Herald || By Staff Reporter || 23 February 2018

cardinal sarah on communion in the handThe cardinal called for greater respect for the Blessed Sacrament

The widespread practice of Catholics receiving communion in the hand while standing up is part of Satan’s attack on the Church, the head of the Vatican department dealing with liturgy has said.

In the preface to a book on the subject, Cardinal Robert Sarah lamented the lack of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, saying this leads to belief in “errors” on the matter.

“The most insidious diabolical attack consists in trying to extinguish faith in the Eucharist, sowing errors and favouring an unsuitable manner of receiving it,” the cardinal wrote.

“Truly the war between Michael and his Angels on one side, and Lucifer on the other, continues in the heart of the faithful: Satan’s target is the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Real Presence of Jesus in the consecrated host.

“Why do we insist on communicating standing in the hand? Why this attitude of lack of submission to the signs of God?

“[Receiving kneeling and on the tongue] is much more suited to the sacrament itself. I hope there can be a rediscovery and promotion of the beauty and pastoral value of this manner. In my opinion and judgment, this is an important question on which the church today must reflect. This is a further act of adoration and love that each of us can offer to Jesus Christ.”

The cardinal’s preface appears in the new book ‘The distribution of Communion on the hand: a historical, juridical and pastoral survey’ by Don Federico Bortoli. It was reproduced on the Italian website La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana.

Communion in the hand, he points out, “involves a great dispersion of fragments” of the Host, which, although small, are still the body of the Lord. Failure to respect this can cause people to lose their belief in the Real Presence, leading Catholics to think: “If even the parish priest does not pay attention to the fragments, if he administers the Communion so that the fragments can be dispersed, then it means that Jesus is not in them, or only ‘up to a certain point'”.

Cardinal Sarah also criticises “outrages” against the Blessed Sacrament. These include not only satanic ‘Black Masses’, but also sacrilegious communions (received while in a state of mortal sin) and ‘intercommunion’ (received by non-Catholics).

We should not receive Communion like any other food, he adds, saying Catholics must retain a sense of the sacred.

“Why are we so proud and insensitive to the signs that God himself offers us for our spiritual growth and our intimate relationship with Him?” the cardinal asks. “Why do we not kneel down to receive Holy Communion on the example of the saints? Is it really too humiliating to bow down and kneel before the Lord Jesus Christ?”

Source: Catholic Herald…


Pope to Young People: Take the World Youth Day Challenge

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Carol Glatz || 22 February 2018

pope on world youth day challenge 2018It's time to break free from fear, fake online personas and looking at the world through a digital screen display, Pope Francis told young people.

"Do not allow the spark of youth to be extinguished in the darkness of a closed room in which the only window to the outside world is a computer and smartphone," the pope told youths in his annual message for local celebrations of World Youth Day.

"Open wide the doors of your life! May your time and space be filled with meaningful relationships, real people with whom to share your authentic and concrete experiences of daily life," he said in the message, published Feb. 22 at the Vatican.

In preparation for the next international celebration of World Youth Day -- which will be held in Panama Jan. 22-27, 2019 -- many dioceses will have their own celebrations Palm Sunday, March 25.

The Panama gathering will focus on Mary's response to the angel Gabriel's announcement that God had chosen her to bear the child Jesus: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." The 2018 theme chosen by Pope Francis is the angel's reassurance, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God."

Many young people today are afraid -- afraid of never being accepted, of finding a good job and even of their real selves, the pope said in his message.

"Today, there are many young people who feel the need to be different from who they really are, in an attempt to adapt to an often artificial and unattainable standard," he wrote. "They continuously 'photo-shop' their images, hiding behind masks and false identities, almost becoming fake selves."

This sense of inadequacy is the root of many uncertainties and even obsessions, such as "receiving as many 'likes' as possible" on social media, he added.

No one is exempt from doubt or fear, which even can be seen in the Bible in the lives of Mary, Moses, Abraham, the apostles and many others, he said. In fact, he added, the biggest obstacle to faith in God is often fear, not skepticism.

The only way forward is to face one's fears head on, identify them clearly and come to terms with them, he said, "so as not to find yourself wasting time and energy by being gripped by empty and faceless ghosts."

People have to act, which requires faith in God and his grace, otherwise fear and doubt will make people "become inward-looking and closed off to defend ourselves from everything and everyone, and we will remain paralyzed," he said.

The pope told young people to look for God in prayerful silence and the sacraments so they could draw on the needed courage, wisdom and grace, and to turn to members of the church for encouragement and support.

God is always there to help everybody, he said. He does not ask people to present a stellar resume of their lives, "full of merits and successes."

Receiving God's grace will not mean life's problems will disappear, he said, "but it does have the power to transform our life deeply."

"The unknown that tomorrow holds for us is not a dark threat we need to overcome, but a favorable time given to us for living out the uniqueness of our personal vocation, and for sharing it with our brothers and sisters in the church and in the world," he said.

Being with others on life's journey is always key, he said, because it helps unlock one's own gifts, inspires dreams and opens new horizons.

"Never lose the enthusiasm of enjoying others' company and friendship, as well as the pleasure of dreaming together, of walking together," he said.

That is why it is so important young people break out of the "darkness of closed room" and the virtual world so as to experience meaningful relationships with real people, he said.

Pope Francis called on adults in the Catholic Church to have courage, too, and give young people "important responsibilities."

"Young people need to know that someone truly believes in you," he said. "Please know that the pope has confidence in you, that the church has confidence in you! For your part, have confidence in the church!"

"In the sacred Scriptures the expression 'do not be afraid' is repeated 365 times with different variations, as if to tell us that the Lord wants us to be free from fear, every day of the year," he said.

The Catholic Church's annual gathering of World Youth Day "is for the courageous! Not for young people who are searching only for comfort and who withdraw whenever difficulties arise," the pope said. "Do you accept the challenge?"


Pope Urges Youth To Go Online and Give the Church an Earful

Crux || By John L. Allen Jr. || 18 February 2018

pope urges youth to go online 2018In his noontime Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis essentially invited youth of the world to go online and give the Catholic Church an earful, as part of an upcoming March gathering of young Catholics ahead of a Synod of Bishops on youth in October.

“A month from now, March 19 to the 24, around 300 youth from the entire world will come to Rome for a preparatory meeting for the synod in October,” the pope said.

“However, I strongly want all young people to be able to be protagonists of this preparation,” he said, emphasizing the word “strongly” as he spoke.

“Therefore, they’ll be able to take part online through linguistic groups moderated by other youth. The contribution of these ‘groups of the web’ will be joined to that of the Rome meeting,” he said.

“Dear young people,” Francis said, “you can find information on the web site of the Secretary of the Synod of Bishops. I thank you for your contribution to walking together!”

The pope’s invitation is part of a campaign by synod officials to boost youth participation ahead of the October meeting, after what was considered a disappointing response to an initial online questionnaire posted in June 2017.

In the end, roughly 221,000 people took a look at that questionnaire, of whom around 100,000 actually filled it out. Given a global Catholic population of roughly 1.2 billion, a strong share of that total made of youth, especially in the developing world, the results were lower than many anticipated.

The March 19-24 meeting in Rome is intended to shine a spotlight on the upcoming synod, blending input from youth representatives designated by bishops’ conferences around the world meeting in person with suggestions from young people taking part in groups on Facebook organized by language.

“It’s an event where young people will be actors and protagonists,” said Italian Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, during a Vatican press conference for the pre-Synod last Friday.

“We won’t just talk ‘about’ them, but they will be talking themselves: with their own words, their enthusiasm and their sensitivity,” he added.

On Friday, the pre-synod inaugurated its Facebook, Instagram and Twitter pages in multiple languages, where youth wanting to be a part of the conversation have a chance to be heard by using the official #Synod2018.

To date, the Synod’s Twitter page has about 2,500 followers, more than 4,000 likes and follows on Facebook and a little over 1,200 followers on Instagram.

In the body of his Angelus address on Sunday, Francis reflected on the day’s Gospel themes of temptation, conversion and Good News, which he situated in the context of the Lenten season.

“For us, Lent is a time of spiritual ‘competition,’” the pope said.

“We’re called to face the Evil One through prayer, in order to be able, with the help of God, to defeat him in our daily life,” Francis said.

“Evil, unfortunately, is at work in our existence and all around us, where it’s manifested in violence, rejection of the other, closure, wars and injustices,” he said.

“In our life, we always need conversion, and the Church asks us to pray for it,” the pope said.

Today, Francis takes part in the opening of the annual Lenten retreat for members of the Roman Curia, the Vatican’s governing bureaucracy. The retreat will take place in Ariccia, a small town about 16 miles southeast of Rome.

Source: Crux… 


Pope Francis Modifies Norms for the Resignation of Bishops

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Hannah Brockhaus || 15 February 2018

norms for resignation of bishops modifiedOn Thursday Pope Francis tweaked the Church’s policies on bishops and Curial officials reaching the age of retirement, indicating that they should accept what God wants, whether accepting retirement or accepting continued service.

The changes were made through a motu proprio entitled Imparare a congedarsi, meaning “Learning to take your leave,” published Feb. 15.

Previous norms stated that the appointment of most bishops serving as curial officials and papal diplomats lapsed after the officials had reached the Vatican’s usual age of retirement of 75. Now, like diocesan bishops, they are requested to resign at 75, and will continue in their positions unless the Pope accepts their resignation. He may also request them to stay on, at his discretion.  

In the motu proprio, signed Feb. 12, Pope Francis cited the generous commitment and experience of many bishops in dioceses or working in the Curia, as a reason for the update in norms.
He noted that the period of transition, whether a resignation is accepted or not, can require an interior attitude of acceptance, and that even the conclusion of an ecclesial office itself is a service and requires “a new form of availability.”
“This interior attitude is necessary both when, for reasons of age, one must prepare oneself to leave office, and when asked to continue that service for a longer period, even though the age of seventy-five has been reached,” he said.

The Pope also provided some examples of reasons he might choose to extend a Curial bishop’s service in an ecclesial office past the age of 75.

The reasons could include, he said, the importance of continuity and the adequate completion of important projects, the difficulties associated with changing leadership of a dicastery already in a period of transition, and the contribution of the person in the application of new directives or new magisterial guidelines from the Holy See.

Francis explained that the transition from active service to retirement requires adequate internal preparation, which includes stripping oneself of the desire for power and or the need to be indispensable to others.
Such preparation will help to make the transition full of peace and confidence, rather than pain and conflict, he said.

As much as possible, this new “project of life,” should include austerity, humility, intercessory prayer, and time dedicated to reading and providing simple pastoral services, he said, noting that prayer is also a powerful tool for discerning how to live out this time.

On the other hand, if a bishop’s resignation is not accepted, and he is asked to continue his service for a longer period, this requires that he abandon his personal desires and projects “with generosity,” the Pope said.

He also emphasized that such a request of the Pope should not be considered a “privilege, or a personal triumph,” a favor between friends, or even an act of gratitude for the service he has provided.
“Any possible extension can be understood only for certain reasons always linked to the ecclesial common good,” he said, and is not an “automatic act, but an act of government.”

The Pope said that the virtue of prudence is applied, along with adequate discernment, in order to make the appropriate decision in these cases.

Source: Catholic News Agency…


Vatican Conference Unites Police and Church in Fight against Human Trafficking

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Hannah Brockhaus || 09 February 2018

vatican conference on human trafficking 2018A conference on human trafficking and modern-day slavery was held at the Vatican Feb. 8-9, bringing together church leaders and senior police officers from more than 30 different countries to discuss progress and setbacks in initiatives.

It was the fifth meeting of the Santa Marta Group, a Pope Francis-endorsed international alliance of police and bishops, since its formation in 2014. The group was developed by the Catholic Bishops' Conference for England and Wales (CBCEW) and is named after the building where Francis lives in the Vatican.

The two-day meeting included reports from delegates of 18 countries, and several international agencies, as well as presentations by Greg Burke of the Holy See Press Office and Alexander DesForges, spokesperson of the England and Wales bishops’ conference.

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster, told journalists Feb. 9 that he was “humbled” by what he heard from delegates. “What was important in this meeting was that members were willing to share their sense of failure as well as their sense of success,” he said.

Often in these kinds of meetings “it's all about saying how good we are, what we are going to do, our promises...” he noted. But this time, people felt comfortable enough with each other “to say, ‘Well, actually, we’re just beginning,’ or ‘Actually, this didn’t work,’” he said.

Nichols explained that estimates say there are 42 million people around the world currently enslaved in some form. “The drama of human trafficking,” he said, “has never been greater ever… than it is at this moment.”

Archbishop Augustine Akubeze of Benin City, Nigeria, was also present at the conference. He told journalists that the Nigerian bishops’ conference joined the Santa Marta Group because their country is one of the major countries of origin for trafficked people.

He said that because of the Santa Marta Group, the Nigerian government has become more aware of the issue and started to do more to tackle the problem, which he said stems in particular from a lack of education and a lack of jobs.

When people are in poverty, they are more easily tempted into trafficking, whether as a perpetrator or as a victim, he said. They also run awareness programs and teach in schools to help young people not be taken in by perpetrators.

They bring people to the Santa Marta Group meetings in order to “seek out more good ideas,” Akubeze said, “and then we go back home and try to do something.”

Cardinal Charles Bo, archbishop of Yangon in Bangladesh said that listening to the experiences of delegates from four different continents was interesting and the greatest advantage he personally gained during these meetings.

“After listening to the positive side as well as the weakness and the realities of human trafficking I think many of us who are working in this group have a new determination really to eradicate this curse of human trafficking,” he said.

Pope Francis met with participants of the conference at its conclusion Feb. 9. Speaking to Church and police leaders from around the world, he said that “experience shows that such modern forms of slavery are far more widespread than previously imagined, even – to our scandal and shame – within the most prosperous of our societies.”

“God’s cry to Cain, found in the first pages of the Bible – ‘Where is your brother?’ – challenges us to examine seriously the various forms of complicity by which society tolerates, and encourages, particularly with regard to the sex trade, the exploitation of vulnerable men, women and children,” he continued.

Francis said that initiatives to combat human trafficking must look not only at dismantling criminal structures, but also responsible use of technology and media. He added that we should also explore the ethical implications of economic models which put profit before people.

“I trust that your discussions in these days will also help to raise awareness of the growing need to support victims of these crimes by accompanying them on a path of reintegration into society and the recovery of their human dignity,” he said.

“The Church is grateful for every effort made to bring the balm of God’s mercy to the suffering, for this also represents an essential step in the healing and renewal of society as a whole.”

Source: Catholic News Agency… 


Pope Tells Priests to Keep Homilies Brief: 'no more than 10 minutes!'

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Elise Harris || 07 February 2018

pope urges keeping homilies briefOn Wednesday Pope Francis touched on a topic close to home for both parish priests and people in the pews, offering his recipe for what makes a good homily, saying they should be short and well-prepared.

However, he also pointed to the amount of complaining that happens when people are unenthusiastic about homilies, and told faithful that even when bored, they also have to make an effort by actively listening, and being patient with the limits of their pastor.

“Those listening have to do their part too,” the Pope said Feb. 7, saying Mass-goers must give “the appropriate attention, thus assuming the proper interior dispositions, without subjective demands, knowing that every preacher has both his merits and his limits.”

“If sometimes there’s reason to get annoyed about an overly long homily, one that lacks focus or that’s incomprehensible, other times it’s actually the prejudice [of the listener] which creates obstacles,” he said.

However, he also urged those giving the homily, whether it's a priest, deacon or bishop, to remember that they are “offering a real service to all those who participate in Mass.”

The homily has been a source of pastoral concern and interest for the Pope since the beginning. He devoted a large portion of his 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium – often seen as a blueprint for his papacy – to the homily.

Quoting the document, Francis said the homily “is not a casual discourse, nor a conference or a lesson,” but is rather a way of resuming “that dialogue which has already been opened between the Lord and his people, so that it finds fulfillment in life.”

“Whoever gives the homily must be conscious that they are not doing their own thing, they are preaching, giving voice to Jesus, preaching the World of Jesus,” he said. Because of this, homilies “should be well prepared, and they must be brief!”

To drive the point home, Francis told a story, recounting how a priest had once told him that when visiting another town where the priests' parents lived, the father had said “I’m happy, because me and my friends found a church where they do the Mass without a homily.”

“How many times have we seen people sleeping during a homily, or chatting among themselves, or outside smoking a cigarette?” he said. When people laughed at the notion, Francis responded, saying “it’s true, you all know it...it’s true!”

“Please,” he said, “be brief...no more than 10 minutes, please!”

Pope Francis spoke during his weekly general audience in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, continuing his catechesis on the liturgy. After reflecting on the Liturgy of the Word last week, today he focused on the Gospel and the homily.

Just as with the liturgical celebration, in scripture “Christ is the center and the fullness,” Francis said. “Jesus Christ is always there at the center, always.”

On the readings, he noted that while all the readings are significant, the Gospel is especially important, which is seen by the fact that the priest kisses the text and incenses it before reading the daily passage, and the congregation stands to listen to the reading on their feet.

“From these signs the assembly recognizes the presence of Christ who brings them the good news which converts and transforms,” he said, explaining that we don't stand to hear the Gospel itself, but Christ, who speaks to us through the reading.

“It's for this reason that we are attentive, because it's a direct conversation,” he said.

Because of this, the Gospel isn't read during Mass simply to “know how things went,” but to increase our awareness that these are the things Jesus himself said and did.

“The Word of Jesus which is in the Gospel is living and arrives to my heart,” he said. And because Jesus still communicates with us through the Gospel readings, every Mass we must give him a response, Francis said, adding that “we listen to the Gospel and we must give a response in our lives.”

According to the Vatican Gendarmerie, roughly 8,000 people attended the Pope's audience. After his address, they were all treated to a performance with juggling, balancing acts and other tricks by members of the Rony Rollers Circus. The spectacle has become a regular appearance in general audiences, with different circus troupes performing every few weeks.

Francis also noted how tomorrow marks the World Day of Prayer against Human Trafficking and voiced support for the event, which takes place annually on the Feast of St. Josephine Bakhita.

He also gave a shout-out to the Winter Olympics, which opens on Friday in Pyeongchang in South Korea, and which will be attended by Msgr. Melchor Sanchez de Toca, Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture, who is representing the Holy See at the opening ceremony Friday, Feb. 9.

This year's games will hold a special importance, he said, noting how the delegations from both North and South Korea will march in together under one flag depicting the entire Korean peninsula, and will compete as one team.

“This fact gives hope for a world in which conflicts are resolved peacefully with dialogue and mutual respect, as sports teaches (us) to do,” he said, and prayed that the Olympics would be “a great celebration of friendship and sport.”

Source: Catholic News Agency…


Despite Denial, Pope Received Abuse Victim’s Letter from Chile

Catholic Herald || By Associated Press || 05 February 2018

pope received letter from chile despite denialPope Francis received an 8-page letter in 2015 detailing abuse at the hands of Fr Karadima, AP reports

Pope Francis received a victim’s letter in 2015 that graphically detailed sexual abuse at the hands of a priest and a cover-up by Chilean church authorities, contradicting the Pope’s recent insistence that no victims had come forward, the letter’s author and members of Pope Francis’ own sex- abuse commission have told The Associated Press.

The fact that Pope Francis received the eight-page letter, obtained by the AP, challenges his insistence that he has “zero tolerance” for sex abuse and cover-ups. It also calls into question his stated empathy with abuse survivors, compounding the most serious crisis of his five-year papacy.

The scandal exploded last month when Pope Francis’ trip to South America was marred by protests over his vigorous defence of Bishop Juan Barros, who is accused by victims of covering up the abuse by Fr Fernando Karadima. During the trip, Francis callously dismissed accusations against Barros as “slander,” seemingly unaware that victims had placed him at the scene of Karadima’s crimes.

On the plane home, confronted by reporters, the Pope said: “You, in all good will, tell me that there are victims, but I haven’t seen any, because they haven’t come forward.”

But members of the Pope’s Commission for the Protection of Minors say that in April 2015, they sent a delegation to Rome specifically to hand-deliver a letter to the Pope about Bishop Barros. The letter from Juan Carlos Cruz detailed the abuse, kissing and fondling he says he suffered at Fr Karadima’s hands, which he said Barros and others witnessed and ignored.

Four members of the commission met with Pope Francis’ top abuse adviser, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, explained their objections to Pope Francis’s recent appointment of Barros as a bishop in southern Chile, and gave him the letter to deliver to Francis.

“When we gave him (O’Malley) the letter for the Pope, he assured us he would give it to the pope and speak of the concerns,” then-commission member Marie Collins told the AP. “And at a later date, he assured us that that had been done.”

Cruz, who now lives and works in Philadelphia, heard the same later that year.

“Cardinal O’Malley called me after the Pope’s visit here in Philadelphia and he told me, among other things, that he had given the letter to the Pope — in his hands,” he said in an interview at his home Sunday.

Neither the Vatican nor O’Malley responded to multiple requests for comment.

While the 2015 summit of Pope Francis’ commission was known and publicized at the time, the contents of Cruz’s letter — and a photograph of Collins handing it to O’Malley — were not disclosed by members. Cruz provided the letter, and Collins provided the photo, after reading an AP story that reported Pope Francis had claimed to have never heard from any Karadima victims about Barros’ behaviour.

The Barros affair first caused shockwaves in January 2015 when Francis appointed him bishop of Osorno, Chile, over the objections of the leadership of Chile’s bishops’ conference and many local priests and laity. They accepted as credible the testimony against Fr Karadima, a prominent Chilean cleric who was sanctioned by the Vatican in 2011 for abusing minors. Bishop Barros was a Karadima protege, and according to Cruz and other victims, he witnessed the abuse and did nothing.

“Holy Father, I write you this letter because I’m tired of fighting, of crying and suffering,” Cruz wrote in Pope Francis’s native Spanish. “Our story is well known and there’s no need to repeat it, except to tell you of the horror of having lived this abuse and how I wanted to kill myself.”

Cruz and other survivors had for years denounced the cover-up of Fr Karadima’s crimes, but were dismissed as liars by the Chilean church hierarchy and the Vatican’s own ambassador in Santiago, who refused their repeated requests to meet before and after Bishop Barros was appointed.

After Pope Francis’s comments backing the Chilean hierarchy caused such an outcry in Chile, he was forced last week to do an about-face: The Vatican announced it was sending in its most respected sex-crimes investigator to take testimony from Cruz and others about Bishop Barros.

In the letter to the Pope, Cruz begs for Pope Francis to listen to him and make good on his pledge of “zero tolerance.”

“Holy Father, it’s bad enough that we suffered such tremendous pain and anguish from the sexual and psychological abuse, but the terrible mistreatment we received from our pastors is almost worse,” he wrote.

Cruz goes on to detail in explicit terms the homo-eroticised nature of the circle of priests and young boys around Fr Karadima, the charismatic preacher whose El Bosque community in the well-to-do Santiago neighbourhood of Providencia produced dozens of priestly vocations and five bishops, including Barros.

He described how Fr Karadima would kiss Barros and fondle his genitals, and do the same with younger priests and teens, and how young priests and seminarians would fight to sit next to Fr Karadima at the table to receive his affections.

“More difficult and tough was when we were in Karadima’s room and Juan Barros — if he wasn’t kissing Karadima — would watch when Karadima would touch us — the minors — and make us kiss him, saying: ‘Put your mouth near mine and stick out your tongue.’ He would stick his out and kiss us with his tongue,” Cruz told the Pope. “Juan Barros was a witness to all this innumerable times, not just with me but with others as well.”

“Juan Barros covered up everything that I have told you,” he added.

Bishop Barros has repeatedly denied witnessing any abuse or covering it up. “I never knew anything about, nor ever imagined, the serious abuses which that priest committed against the victims,” he told the AP recently. “I have never approved of nor participated in such serious, dishonest acts, and I have never been convicted by any tribunal of such things.”

For the Osorno faithful who have opposed Barros as their bishop, the issue isn’t so much a legal matter requiring proof or evidence, as Barros was a young priest at the time and not in a position of authority over Fr Karadima. It’s more that if Bishop Barros didn’t “see” what was happening around him and doesn’t find it problematic for a priest to kiss and fondle young boys, he shouldn’t be in charge of a diocese where he is responsible for detecting inappropriate sexual behavior, reporting it to police and protecting children from pedophiles like his mentor.

Cruz had arrived at Fr Karadima’s community in 1980 as a vulnerable teenager, distraught after the recent death of his father. He has said Fr Karadima told him he would be like a spiritual father to him, but instead sexually abused him.

Based on testimony from Cruz and other former members of the parish, the Vatican in 2011 removed Fr Karadima from ministry and sentenced him to a lifetime of “penance and prayer” for his crimes. Now 87, he lives in a home for elderly priests in Santiago; he hasn’t commented on the scandal and the home has declined to accept calls or visits from the news media.

The victims also testified to Chilean prosecutors, who opened an investigation into Karadima after they went public with their accusations in 2010. Chilean prosecutors had to drop charges because too much time had passed, but the judge running the case stressed that it wasn’t for lack of proof.

While the victims’ testimony was deemed credible by both Vatican and Chilean prosecutors, the local Church hierarchy clearly didn’t believe them, which might have influenced Pope Francis’s view. Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz has acknowledged he didn’t believe the victims initially and shelved an investigation. He was forced to reopen it after the victims went public.

He is now one of the Argentine Pope’s key cardinal advisers.

By the time he finally got his letter into the Pope’s hands in 2015, Cruz had already sent versions to numerous other people, and had tried for months to get an appointment with the Vatican ambassador. The embassy’s December 15, 2014, email to Cruz — a month before Barros was appointed — was short and to the point:

“The apostolic nunciature has received the message you emailed December 7 to the apostolic nuncio,” it read, “and at the same time communicates that your request has been met with an unfavourable response.”

One could argue that Pope Francis didn’t pay attention to Cruz’s letter, since he receives thousands of letters every day from faithful around the world. He can’t possibly read them all, much less remember the contents years later. He might have been tired and confused after a weeklong trip to South America when he told an airborne press conference that victims never came forward to accuse Bishop Barros of cover-up.

But this was not an ordinary letter, nor were the circumstances under which it arrived in the Vatican.

Francis had named Cardinal O’Malley, the Archbishop of Boston, to head his Commission for the Protection of Minors based on his credibility in having helped clean up the mess in Boston after the U.S. sex abuse scandal exploded there in 2002. The commission gathered outside experts to advise the church on protecting children from paedophiles and educating church personnel about preventing abuse and cover-ups.

The four commission members who were on a special subcommittee dedicated to survivors had flown to Rome at their own expense specifically to speak with O’Malley about the Barros appointment and to deliver Cruz’s letter. A press release issued after the April 12, 2015, meeting read: “Cardinal O’Malley agreed to present the concerns of the subcommittee to the Holy Father.”

Commission member Catherine Bonnet, a French child psychiatrist who took the photo of Collins handing the letter to Cardinal O’Malley, said the commission members had decided to descend on Rome specifically when Cardinal O’Malley and other members of the Pope’s group of nine cardinal advisers were meeting, so that Cardinal O’Malley could put it directly into the Pope’s hands.

“Cardinal O’Malley promised us when Marie gave to him the letter of Juan Carlos that he will give to Pope Francis,” she said.

Cardinal O’Malley’s spokesman in Boston referred requests for comment to the Vatican. Neither the Vatican press office, nor officials at the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, responded to calls and emails seeking comment.

But Cardinal O’Malley’s remarkable response to Francis’ defence of Barros and to his dismissal of the victims while he was in Chile, is perhaps now better understood.

In a rare rebuke of a Pope by a cardinal, O’Malley issued a statement on January 20 in which he said the Pope’s words were “a source of great pain for survivors of sexual abuse,” and that such expressions had the effect of abandoning victims and relegating them to “discredited exile.”

A day later, Pope Francis apologised for having demanded “proof” of wrongdoing by Bishop Barros, saying he meant merely that he wanted to see “evidence”. But he continued to describe the accusations against Bishop Barros as “calumny” and insisted he had never heard from any victims.

Even when told in his airborne press conference on January 21 that Fr Karadima’s victims had indeed placed Bishop Barros at the scene of Fr Karadima’s abuse, Pope Francis said: “No one has come forward. They haven’t provided any evidence for a judgment. This is all a bit vague. It’s something that can’t be accepted.”

He stood by Bishop Barros, saying: “I’m certain he’s innocent,” even while saying that he considered the testimony of victims to be “evidence” in a cover-up investigation.

“If anyone can give me evidence, I’ll be the first to listen,” he said.

Cruz said he felt like he had been slapped when he heard those words.

“I was upset,” he said, “and at the same time I couldn’t believe that someone so high up like the Pope himself could lie about this.”

Source: Catholic Herald… 


Don’t Substitute the Lessons at Mass for Non-Biblical Texts, Pope Francis Says

Catholic Herald || By Carol Glatz || 31 January 2018

lectors not to garble their wordsThe Pope also said churches should not use lectors who garble their words so 'no one can understand a thing'

Listening to the Scripture readings at Mass is hearing God speak directly to his people, offering spiritual sustenance and needed guidance for life’s difficult journey, Pope Francis said.

For that reason, the prescribed texts should never be skipped or substituted during the Mass, lectors should read clearly and people should always listen with an open heart so that the words may eventually bear fruit in good deeds, the Pope said at his weekly general audience.

Continuing his series of audience talks on the Mass, Pope Francis spoke about the Liturgy of the Word and the importance of listening to the Bible readings at Mass.

“In the Liturgy of the Word, in fact, the pages of the Bible stop being something written and become the living word, delivered by God himself,” the Pope said.

As the readings are proclaimed, people in the pews should be silent and receptive, opening their hearts and minds to what is being said, not looking around or making small talk and criticising what other people are wearing, he said.

“We have to listen, open our hearts, because it is God himself who is speaking to us. So don’t think about other things or talk about something else. Understood?” he asked the thousands of people gathered in St Peter’s Square.

“We need to listen! It is a question of life,” he said, because as Jesus told the devil in the desert, “one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”

People can receive spiritual nourishment from the “table” of God’s word, which is abundant and “rich” in so many biblical offerings, he said.

It is obvious then why “some subjective choices” are forbidden – such as omitting the prescribed readings or substituting them with nonbiblical texts, for example, like the newspaper for bringing up a current event, he said.

“No. The word of God is the word of God. You can read the newspaper later. However, right there, the word of God gets read,” not something else, he said.

Substituting God’s word with something else “impoverishes and compromises the dialogue between God and his people in prayer,” the Pope said, while sticking with the prescribed readings expresses and fosters ecclesial communion, helping everyone on their journey together.

The Pope also insisted on choosing lectors who are well-prepared and speak clearly, not people who garble their words “and no one can understand a thing.”

“The Lord’s word is an indispensable aid for not getting lost,” he said. It is, as the psalmist says, “a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.”

“How can we tackle our earthly pilgrimage, with its trials and tribulations, without being regularly nourished and enlightened by the Word of God that rings out in the liturgy,” the Pope asked.

Also, he said, listening to God’s word requires much more than one’s ears. It must go from the ears, to the heart and then to the hands, resulting in good works in the world, he said.

“It’s necessary to have an open heart to receive the word,” Pope Francis said. “God speaks and we turn to him to listen so as to then put into practice what we have heard.”

Source: Catholic Herald…


Pope Revamps Ecclesiastical Universities in New Apostolic Constitution

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Elise Harris || 29 January 2018

veritatis gaudium of pope francis 2018On Monday Pope Francis released a new apostolic constitution calling for a “radical” reform to the nature and curriculum of ecclesiastical universities and institutions.

“The primary need today is for the whole People of God to be ready to embark upon a new stage of Spirit-filled evangelization,” the Pope said in the document, “Vertatis Gaudium.”

This new stage of evangelization, he said, “calls for a resolute process of discernment, purification and reform. In this process, a fitting renewal of the system of ecclesiastical studies plays a strategic role.”

Signed Dec. 8, 2017, and published Jan. 29, 2018, the 87-page document is Francis' is titled “Veritatis Gaudium,” meaning “the joy of truth.”

The document deals specifically with ecclesiastical universities and faculties, which, differing from regular Catholic universities, offer Vatican-approved degrees required to teach in seminaries or at pontifical universities.

It consists of two parts dedicated to general norms and specific norms, and also contains an appendix and norms of application. The document is meant to “update” previous norms, and abrogates any prior rules which contradict the new ones laid out by Pope Francis in Veritatis Gaudium.

The document abrogates any contrary norms established by John Paul II's 1979 Apostolic Constitution “Sapientia Christiana,” issued after a careful study of the Second Vatican Council's decree “Optatam Totius” on ecclesiastical studies. However, John Paul II's 1990 Apostolic Constitution “Ex corde Ecclesiae” is not impacted, as it deals specifically with Catholic colleges and universities, rather than ecclesiastical academic entities.


In the foreword for his new constitution, Pope Francis, who has often spoken of the importance of education, said that while offering a great contribution to the Church's life and mission, Sapientia Christiana “urgently needs to be brought up to date.”

“While remaining fully valid in its prophetic vision and its clarity of expression, the constitution ought to include the norms and dispositions issued since its promulgation, and to take into account developments in the area of academic studies in these past decades,” he said.

“There is also a need to acknowledge the changed social-cultural context worldwide and to implement initiatives on the international level to which the Holy See has adhered.”

Francis noted that the world is currently living not only a time of change, but it is also experiencing “a true epochal shift, marked by a wide-ranging anthropological and environmental crisis,” such as natural, social and financial disasters which are swiftly reaching “a breaking point.”

This reality, he said, requires “changing the models of global development and redefining our notion of progress.” However, a great problem in doing this is the fact that “we still lack the culture necessary to confront this crisis. We lack leadership capable of striking out on new paths.”

Because of this, he said that on the cultural level as well as that of academic training and scientific study, “a radical paradigm shift” and “a bold cultural revolution” are needed which involve a worldwide network of ecclesiastical universities and faculties which are capable of promoting the Gospel and Church Tradition, but which are also “ever open to new situations and ideas.”

“Philosophy and theology permit one to acquire the convictions that structure and strengthen the intelligence and illuminate the will,” he said, but cautioned that this “is fruitful only if it is done with an open mind and on one’s knees.”

“The theologian who is satisfied with his complete and conclusive thought is mediocre,” Francis said. However, “the good theologian and philosopher has an open, that is, an incomplete, thought, always open to the maius of God and of the truth, always in development.”

Pope Francis then listed four criteria for ecclesiastical studies which he said are rooted in the Second Vatican Council's teaching and and inspired by the changes that have taken place in the decades since.

The first of the criteria, he said, is the “contemplation and the presentation of a spiritual, intellectual and existential introduction to the heart of the kerygma, namely the ever fresh and attractive good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Secondly, he said there is need for a “wide-ranging dialogue” which is not merely a “tactical approach,” but which is “an intrinsic requirement for experiencing in community the joy of the truth and appreciating more fully its meaning and practical implications.”

He then pointed to the need for an “inter-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary” approach which is carried out “with wisdom and creativity in the light of revelation.”

“What distinguishes the academic, formative and research approach of the system of ecclesiastical studies, on the level of both content and method,” he said, “is the vital intellectual principle of the unity in difference of knowledge and respect for its multiple, correlated and convergent expressions.”

The fourth and final criteria the Pope gave was “the urgent need for networking” between worldwide institutions that “cultivate and promote ecclesiastical studies, in order to set up suitable channels of cooperation also with academic institutions in the different countries and with those inspired by different cultural and religious traditions.”

In this regard, he said there is a need to establish more specialized centers of research dedicated to studying “the epochal issues affecting humanity today and to offer appropriate and realistic paths for their resolution.”

He urged the competent authorities to give a “new impulse” to scientific research conducted in ecclesiastical universities and faculties, saying the need for new and qualified research centers is “indispensable.”

These centers, the Pope said, ought to include scholars from different religious universities and from different scientific fields who can interact with “responsible freedom and mutual transparency.”

He said plans are already under way for the establishment of “outstanding interdisciplinary centers and initiatives aimed at accompanying the development of advanced technologies, the best use of human resources and programs of integration.”


In the new norms, Francis outlined the role, nature and purpose of ecclesiastical universities and faculties, saying they are to evangelize and, through scientific research, better enunciate the truths of the faith and present them in “a manner adapted to various cultures.”

Bishops' conferences will be charged with overseeing the life and progress of the universities, and are to be headed by a chancellor who will serve as the entity's go-between with the Holy See. All ecclesial universities and institutions will be overseen by the Congregation for Catholic Education, headed by Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi.

Regarding the role of teachers, the Pope said there must be several teachers of various ranks in each faculty, including permanent ones.

Criteria necessary to be considered for appointment to such faculties include the need to be “distinguished by wealth of knowledge, witness of Christian and ecclesial life, and a sense of responsibility.”

Teachers, Francis said, must also have a doctorate or similar equivalent title or scientific accomplishment; they must show “documentary proof” of their suitability for doing scientific research, preferably a published dissertation, and they must demonstrate adequate teaching ability.

He also stressed that all teachers, no matter their rank, “must be marked by an upright life, integrity of doctrine, and devotion to duty, so that they can effectively contribute to the proper goals of an ecclesiastical academic institution.”

This goes for both Catholics and non-Catholics, as the document allows for non-Catholic professors to teach specialized courses at ecclesiastical universities and institutions in their areas of expertise.

Francis said that should any of the required criteria cease, “the teachers must be removed from their post, observing the established procedures.”

Teachers who instruct on faith and morals, he said, “are to be conscious of their duty to carry out their work in full communion with the authentic Magisterium of the Church, above all, with that of the Roman Pontiff.”

On the role of students who attend the ecclesiastical universities and institutions, the Pope said these entities must be open “to all who can legally give testimony to leading a moral life and to having completed the previous studies appropriate to enrolling in the faculty.”

As far as the study plan for ecclesiastical entities, the Pope said they must place a focus on ecclesial texts, with special emphasis on those from the Second Vatican Council, while also taking into account scientific advances that contribute to answering questions on modern concerns.

“Up-to-date didactic and teaching methods should be applied in an appropriate way, in order to bring about the personal involvement of the students and their active participation in their studies,” he said.

The Pope also said there must be freedom and flexibility in terms of research, but stressed that it must be “based upon firm adherence to God’s Word and deference to the Church’s Magisterium, whose duty it is to interpret authentically the Word of God.”

“Therefore, in such a weighty matter one must proceed with trust, and without suspicion, but the same time with prudence and without rashness, especially in teaching; moreover, one must carefully harmonize the necessities of science with the pastoral needs of the People of God.”

He said faculties of theology have the specific task of “profoundly studying and systematically explaining, according to the scientific method proper to it, Catholic doctrine, derived with the greatest care from divine revelation” and of carefully seeking solutions to human problems in light of this revelation.

Revealed truth, the Pope said, must be considered alongside valid scientific accomplishments, in order to see “how faith and reason give harmonious witness to the unity of all truth.”

“Also, its exposition is to be such that, without any change of the truth, there is adaptation to the nature and character of every culture, taking special account of the philosophy and the wisdom of various peoples,” Pope Francis said, but stressed that “all syncretism and every kind of false particularism are to be excluded.”

While the positive aspects of the various cultures and philosophies studied are to be sought and taken up after careful examination, he said “systems and methods incompatible with Christian faith must not be accepted.”

Ecumenical questions must be “carefully treated,” as well as questions regarding relationships with non-Christian religions. In addition, Francis said problems that arise from atheism and other currents of contemporary culture must also be “scrupulously studied.”

“In studying and teaching the Catholic doctrine, fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church is always to be emphasized. In the carrying out of teaching duties, especially in the basic cycle, those things are, above all, to be imparted which belong to the received patrimony of the Church,” he said. “Hypothetical or personal opinions which come from new research are to be modestly presented as such.”

Faculties of canon law, whether in the Latin rite or in Eastern rites, must cultivate and promote the judicial disciplines in light of the Gospel, he said.

These faculties, Francis said, should include a first, two-year cycle for those who have no prior education in philosophy and theology, as well as those who have a degree in civil law. During this first cycle, students ought to study the basic concepts of canon law, philosophy and theology in order to advance.

In the second cycle, which he said should last three years, students must become familiar with canon law “in all its expressions,” including the normative, jurisprudential, doctrinal, praxis, and the codes for both the Latin and Eastern Churches should be studied “in depth” with magisterial and disciplinary sources.

As with theology, the third cycle ought to consist of a suitable time-frame in which students finish their training with scholarly research aimed at preparing a doctoral dissertation.

Faculties of philosophy, he said, have the aim of “investigating philosophical problems according to scientific methodology, basing itself on a heritage of perennially valid philosophy.”

Philosophical study, Francis said, must look for solutions in the light of “natural reason” and must also demonstrate “consistency with the Christian view of the world, of man, and of God, placing in a proper light the relationship between philosophy and theology.”

The first cycle of study, he said, should last for three years and consist of an “organic exposition” of the various aspects of philosophy – including the world, man and God – as well as a look at the history of philosophy and an introduction to the method of scientific research.

In the second cycle, which should last for two years, Francis said specializations ought to begin through special disciplines and seminars. The third cycle, which he said should last for three years, must promote “philosophical maturity” through writing a dissertation.

The document also included new norms on other types of faculties, degrees, financial management, strategic planning and cooperation, and leadership ad government for ecclesiastical universities and institutions.

These new norms will go into effect on the first day of the 2018-2019 academic year or of the 2019 academic year, depending on the calendar year of the various academic entities. Each faculty or university must present their revised statutes and plan of studies before Dec. 8, 2019.

After being presented, the new statutes and plans of study will be approved “ad experimentum” for a three-year period. However, faculties with a juridical connection with civil authorities can be given a longer period of time with permission from the Congregation for Catholic Education.

Source: Catholic News Agency… 


Sharing ‘fake news’ Makes You an Accomplice in Evil, Pope Says

Catholic Herald || By Cindy Wooden || 24 January 2018

serpent in the garden of eden used fake newsThe first to use fake news was the serpent in the Garden of Eden, Pope Francis said

People have a responsibility to check the source of what they share on social media to ensure it is not “fake news” designed to further prejudices or increase fear, Pope Francis said.

Fake news grabs people’s attention “by appealing to stereotypes and common social prejudices, and exploiting instantaneous emotions like anxiety, contempt, anger and frustration,” Pope Francis wrote in his message for World Communications Day 2018.

The message is a reflection on the theme, “‘The truth will set you free.’ Fake news and journalism for peace.” World Communications Day will be celebrated May 13 at the Vatican and in most dioceses. The papal message was released at the Vatican on January 24, the feast of St Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists.

Fake news is so effective, he said, because it mimics real news but uses “non-existent or distorted data” to deceive and manipulate.

The first to employ the fake-news tactic was the serpent in the Garden of Eden who convinced Eve she would not die by eating the fruit of the forbidden tree, he said. The Bible story shows that “there is no such thing as harmless disinformation; on the contrary, trusting in falsehood can have dire consequences.”

Pope Francis praised educators who teach young people how to read and question the news and the information they see presented on social media. He encouraged efforts to develop regulations to counter fake news and he praised tech and media companies for trying to improve ways to verify “the personal identities concealed behind millions of digital profiles.”

But, he insisted, individuals always will have the final responsibility for discerning what is real news and what is helpful to share on social media.

“We need to unmask what could be called the ‘snake-tactics’ used by those who disguise themselves in order to strike at any time and place” like the serpent in the Garden of Eden did.

The snake’s power grows as people limit their sources of information to one outlet, especially if that outlet is a social media platform whose algorithms are based on providing users with more information like they have just read, the Pope said.

“Disinformation thus thrives on the absence of healthy confrontation with other sources of information that could effectively challenge prejudices and generate constructive dialogue,” he wrote.

People who re-post or re-Tweet such false information, the pope said, become “unwilling accomplices in spreading biased and baseless ideas.”

One way to know if something should be checked and not be shared, he said, is if it “discredits others, presenting them as enemies, to the point of demonizing them and fomenting conflict.”

In the modern world, with the rapid and viral spread of news and information – both real and fake – lives and souls are at stake, he said, because the “father of lies” is the devil.

True discernment, the Pope said, means examining information and keeping what promotes communion and goodness, while rejecting whatever “tends to isolate, divide, and oppose.”

“We can recognize the truth of statements from their fruits: whether they provoke quarrels, foment division, encourage resignation; or, on the other hand, they promote informed and mature reflection leading to constructive dialogue and fruitful results,” Pope Francis wrote.

Journalists, he said, have a special responsibility in the modern world amid the media “feeding frenzies and the mad rush for a scoop.”

Pope Francis asked media professions to promote “a journalism of peace,” which does not mean ignoring problems or being saccharine. It means “a journalism that is truthful and opposed to falsehoods, rhetorical slogans and sensational headlines.”

A journalism of peace is at the service of all people, “especially those – and they are the majority in our world – who have no voice,” he said. It is “a journalism committed to pointing out alternatives to the escalation of shouting matches and verbal violence.”

Pope Francis ended his message with his own adaptation of the “Prayer of St Francis” for both those who report the news and those who read or watch it.

“Where there is shouting, let us practice listening,” the prayer said. “Where there is ambiguity, let us bring clarity.”

“Where there is prejudice, let us awaken trust,” it continued. “Where there is hostility, let us bring respect; where there is falsehood, let us bring truth.”

Source: Catholic Herald…


Pope Apologizes to Sex Abuse Victims, Defends Accused Chilean Bishop

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Junno Arocho Esteves || 22 January 2018

pope apologizes defends accused chilean bishopPope Francis apologized to victims of clergy sex abuse, saying he unknowingly wounded them by the way he defended a Chilean bishop accused of covering up abuse by his mentor.

Speaking with journalists on his flight to Rome from Lima, Peru, Jan. 21, the pope said he only realized later that his words erroneously implied that victims' accusations are credible only with concrete proof.

"To hear that the pope says to their face, 'Bring me a letter with proof,' is a slap in the face," the pope said.

Pope Francis was referring to a response he gave in Iquique, Chile, Jan. 18 when local reporters asked about his support for Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno, given accusations that the bishop may have been aware of abuse perpetrated by his former mentor, Father Fernando Karadima. The priest was sentenced to a life of prayer and penance by the Vatican after he was found guilty of sexually abusing boys.

"The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I will speak. There is not one piece of evidence against him. It is calumny. Is that clear?" the pope had told the reporters in Iquique.

His response provoked further outrage, especially from Father Karadima's victims who said the pope's response made his earlier apologies for the church's failure to protect sex abuse victims seem hollow.

Asked about the incident during the flight back to Rome, Pope Francis said he meant to use the word "evidence," not "proof." The way he phrased his response, he said, caused confusion and was "not the best word to use to approach a wounded heart."

"Of course, I know that there are many abused people who cannot bring proof (or) they don't have it," he said. "Or at times they have it but they are ashamed and cover it up and suffer in silence. The tragedy of the abused is tremendous."

However, the pope told reporters on the papal flight he still stood firmly behind his defense of Bishop Barros, because he was "personally convinced" of the bishop's innocence after the case was investigated twice with no evidence emerging.

Pope Francis said that while "covering up abuse is an abuse in itself," if he punished Bishop Barros without moral certainty, "I would be committing the crime of a bad judge."

During the inflight news conference, Pope Francis answered eight questions over the course of an hour, although the conference was interrupted by turbulence, which forced the pope to sit for about five minutes.

As he did in November on his return from Bangladesh, he said he only wanted to respond to questions related to the trip.

Pope Francis told reporters he appreciated the statement made Jan. 20 by Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, acknowledging the pain survivors of abuse felt because of the pope's statement about Bishop Barros.

"Words that convey the message 'If you cannot prove your claims then you will not be believed' abandon those who have suffered reprehensible criminal violations of their human dignity and relegate survivors to discredited exile," the cardinal wrote.

He also said, "Pope Francis fully recognizes the egregious failures of the church and its clergy who abused children and the devastating impact those crimes have had on survivors and their loved ones."

The pope said he was grateful for Cardinal O'Malley's statement because it struck the right balance between listing what he has done to show his support for sex abuse victims and the pain experienced by victims because of the pope's remarks.

Pope Francis also spoke about the scandal-plagued Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, a Catholic movement based in Peru.

The movement's founder, Luis Fernando Figari, has been accused of the sexual and psychological abuse of members; he has been ordered by the Vatican to remain in Rome and not have any contact with the movement.

"He declared himself innocent of the charges against him," Pope Francis told reporters, and he has appealed his cause to the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican's supreme court. According to the information the pope has received, he said, "the verdict will be released in less than a month."

Pope Francis also was asked about the status of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which he set up in 2014. The three-year terms of its members expired in December and some have questioned whether child protection really is a priority when the commission's membership was allowed to lapse.

Before the terms ended, he said, the members decided to recommend who should serve a second term and offering the names of possible new members.

The final list, he said, arrived on his desk a week before the trip began "and now it is going through the normal channels in the Curia.


Pope Meets with Clergy Sex Abuse Victims in Chile

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Junno Arocho Esteves || 18 January 2018

pope in chile with sex abuse victims 2018Pope Francis met in private Jan. 16 with survivors of sexual abuse by Chilean clergy, a Vatican spokesman said.

Greg Burke, the spokesman, said the pope met with "a small group of victims of sexual abuse by priests" at the apostolic nunciature in Santiago, Chile.

"The meeting took place in a strictly private way, and no one else was present: only the pope and the victims," Burke told journalists that evening.

The private setting, he added, allowed the group to speak freely with the pope "and recount their sufferings.

Pope Francis "listened, prayed and cried with them," Burke said.

Also present at the press conference was Auxiliary Bishop Fernando Ramos Perez of Santiago, secretary-general of the Chilean bishops' conference.

Bishop Ramos addressed criticism regarding the presence of Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno at several papal events, including the pope's meetings with the country's clergy as well as the bishops of Chile.

Bishop Barros' appointment as bishop by the pope in 2015 drew outrage and protests due to his connection to Father Fernando Karadima, his former mentor. Father Karadima was sentenced to a life of prayer and penance by the Vatican after he was found guilty of sexually abusing boys.

"Bishop Barros is bishop of Osorno and was named by the pope. All bishops have the right and responsibility to participate at the events. That was the only reason why" he was present, Bishop Ramos said.

Arriving in Iquique Jan. 18 at the site of his final Mass in Chile, Pope Francis was asked by local journalists about his support for Bishop Barros.

The pope reiterated that he has yet to see any evidence that Bishop Barros knew or witnessed the abuses committed by his former mentor.

"The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I will speak. There is not one piece of evidence against him. It is calumny. Is that clear?" the pope told the journalists.

Earlier Jan. 16, the pope asked forgiveness from the victims of sexual abuse during an address to government authorities and members of Chile's diplomatic corps, expressing his "pain and shame at the irreparable damage caused to children by some ministers of the church."

Burke said it was significant the pope addressed the issue of clergy sex abuse during his meeting with government authorities "because normally he speaks about it when meeting with bishops or priests."

"The fact that he spoke there means that it is an evil not only for the church but for society," Burke said.


Fear Becomes Sin When it Leads to Hostility Toward Migrants, Pope Says

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Cindy Wooden || 14 January 2018

hostility toward migrants sinfulBeing afraid and concerned about the impact of migration is not a sin, Pope Francis said, but it is a sin to let those fears lead to a refusal to help people in need.

"The sin is to allow these fears to determine our responses, to limit our choices, to compromise respect and generosity, to feed hostility and rejection," the pope said Jan. 14, celebrating Mass for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees.

While fear is a natural human reaction, he said, "the sin is to refuse to encounter the other, the different, the neighbor, when this is in fact a privileged opportunity to encounter the Lord."

Thousands of migrants and refugees now living in Rome, but coming from more than 60 countries, joined Pope Francis and an international group of cardinals, bishops and priests for the Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

Sixty of the migrants and refugees carried their homeland's national flags into the basilica before the Mass and hundreds wore the national dress of their countries, including many of the people who read the prayers of the faithful and brought up the gifts at the offertory during the multilingual Mass.

While care for migrants and refugees has been a priority for Pope Francis, the World Day for Migrants and Refugees has been an annual celebration of the Catholic Church for more than 100 years. St. Pius X began the observance in 1914.

After reciting the Angelus in St. Peter's Square after the Mass, Pope Francis announced that "for pastoral reasons" the date of the annual celebration was being moved to the second Sunday of September. The next World Day of Migrants and Refugees, he said, would be marked Sept. 8, 2019.

According to the United Nations, an estimated 258 million people are living outside the country of their birth. The number includes 26 million refugees and asylum seekers, who were forced to flee their homelands because of war or persecution.

In his homily at the Mass, Pope Francis reflected on Jesus' response to the disciples who asked him where he lived. "Come and you will see," Jesus tells them, inviting them into a relationship where they would welcome and get to know each other.

"His invitation 'Come and see!' is addressed today to all of us, to local communities and to new arrivals," the pope said. "It is an invitation to overcome our fears so as to encounter the other, to welcome, to know and to acknowledge him or her."

For the migrants and refugees, he said, that includes learning about and respecting the laws and customs of their host countries. "It even includes understanding their fears and apprehensions for the future," he added.

For people in the host countries, he said, it means welcoming newcomers, opening oneself "without prejudices to their rich diversity," understanding their hopes, fears and vulnerabilities and recognizing their potential.

'In the true encounter with the neighbor, are we capable of recognizing Jesus Christ who is asking to be welcomed, protected, promoted and integrated?" Pope Francis asked.

"It is not easy to enter into another culture, to put oneself in the shoes of people so different from us, to understand their thoughts and their experiences," the pope said. That is one reason why "we often refuse to encounter the other and raise barriers to defend ourselves."

People in host countries may be afraid that newcomers "will disturb the established order (or) will 'steal' something they have long labored to build up," he said. And the newcomers have their own fears "of confrontation, judgment, discrimination, failure."

Both set of fears, the pope said, "are legitimate, based on doubts that are fully comprehensible from a human point of view."

Sin, he said, enters the equation only when people refuse to try to understand, to welcome and to see Jesus present in the other, especially "the poor, the rejected, the refugee, the asylum seeker."


As Pope Turns 81, Kids Entertain with Song, Dance and 13-foot Pizza

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Junno Arocho Esteves || 18 December 2017

pope francis turns 81 2017Celebrating his 81st birthday, Pope Francis blew out the candles on a 13-foot long pizza after being serenaded with song and dance by children and employees from a Vatican pediatric clinic.

A group of children receiving assistance from the Vatican's St. Martha Dispensary, a maternal and pediatric clinic, had given the pope a birthday party Dec. 17 marked with singing, dancing and a cake adorned with gold and white fondant decorations.

They also rolled out a large pizza with a single lit candle on it. The pope was joined with several children from the clinic and counted down before blowing out the candle.

"Eat the 4-meter pizza: Eat well, it will do you good and make you grow," the pope told the children.

The pope said their joy was a gift and is like "good earth that makes life grow with good fruits."

"Do not make children sad. When children see that there are problems at home, that their parents are fighting, they suffer," he said. "They must always grow with joy."

After meeting the children, Pope Francis greeted an estimated 25,000 pilgrims in St. Peter's Square for his Sunday Angelus address.

After reciting the Angelus prayer, the pope was about to greet several individual groups present in the square before the crowd burst into song, singing "Happy Birthday."

Touched by the gesture, the pope said: "Thank you. Thank you very much."

Celebrating the third Sunday of Advent, Gaudete Sunday, Pope Francis invited Christians to prepare for Christ's coming through "constant joy, persevering prayer and continual thanksgiving."

"Joy, prayer and gratitude are the three attitudes that prepare us to live Christmas in an authentic way," the pope said before inviting the crowd to repeat the words: "Joy, prayer and gratitude."

Pope Francis also blessed the statues of baby Jesus that will be at the center of Nativity scenes in Rome schools, churches and homes.

Addressing the children who brought their figurines to the square, the pope said, "When you pray at home, in front of the creche with your family, let yourselves be drawn toward the tenderness of the child Jesus, who was born poor and fragile in our midst to give us his love. This is the true Christmas."

With Christmas also around the corner, the pope also met with members of the Italian branch of Catholic Action's children's section, parish-based groups of young people, ages 4-14, for his traditional pre-Christmas audience with them.

The pope said the Christmas season is a reminder of helping those in need who are the "image of the child Jesus who was turned away and who did not find a place to stay in the city of Bethlehem."

He called on them to ask themselves how they can better serve the suffering Christ in those who are cast aside by society.

"Here are your 'peripheries;' try to fix your goal on companions and people that no one sees, and dare to make the first step to meet them, to give them a bit of your time, a smile, a gesture of tenderness," the pope said.

"In this upcoming feast of holy Christmas, you are called to always make him known more and more among your friends, in the cities, in the parishes and in your families," he said.


Vatican to Launch Revamped News Site

Catholic Herald || By Cindy Wooden || 14 December 2017

revamped vatican news site to launched 2017Vaticannews.va will bring together audio, text and video, and will launch in six languages

Before Christmas, the Vatican plans to launch its new multimedia communications website, although the Vatican Radio and Vatican Television Center sites will stay accessible as archives.

Mgr Dario Vigano, prefect of the Secretariat for Communication, announced on December 13 that the new site — vaticannews.va — would be launched in beta form “in the coming days.”

The public announcement came the day after Mgr Vigano presented the site to Pope Francis and his international Council of Cardinals and explained to the council the progress made in unifying the various Vatican media.

“The cornerstone of the system, fruit of a process of consolidation on an economic and technical level, is represented by the Editorial Multimedia Center,” which will be a single structure responsible for producing audio, text, video and graphics in several languages and for use on a variety of platforms, including the new website and social media.

The Secretariat for Communication’s editorial board will determine how various events and issues are presented and covered.

According to a statement from Mgr Vigano, eventually the multimedia centre will include about 350 employees drawn from the 40 language programs of the former Vatican Radio and from the nine institutions — the radio, Vatican newspaper, Vatican television production centre, Vatican printing press, etc. — that now form part of the secretariat.

The multimedia centre will begin its work with 70 people working in six languages: Italian, English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese. They will focus on four areas: the Pope, the Vatican, the Church and the world.

Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, briefed reporters on the meeting of the Council of Cardinals on December 11-13, including on Mgr Vigano’s report that the new website and production centre simply the “first visible and concrete expression” of the unified approach to communications requested by the Pope and cardinals.

More generally, the Pope and cardinals discussed “the Curia as an instrument of evangelization and of service to the Pope and the local churches,” Burke said. The idea of the “reform of the Roman Curia” is not simply to change structures, “but mentalities.

Source: Catholic Herald…


God Does Not Lead Us into Temptation, Satan Does, Pope Says

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Cindy Wooden || 11 December 2017

our father prayer translation to be changedThe Italian and English translations of the "Our Father" can give believers the wrong impression that God can and does lead people into temptation, Pope Francis said.

The Italian bishops' television channel, TV2000, has been broadcasting a series of conversations between the pope and a Catholic prison chaplain looking at the Lord's Prayer line by line.

The episode broadcast Dec. 6 focused on the line, "Lead us not into temptation."

Father Marco Pozza told the pope that friends have asked him, "Can God really lead us into temptation?"

"This is not a good translation," the pope said.

The standard versions of the prayer are translated from the Latin, which was translated from the New Testament in Greek.

While he said nothing about ordering a new translation, Pope Francis noted how the French bishops had decided that beginning Dec. 3, the first Sunday of Advent, French Catholics would change the line to the equivalent of "do not let us enter into temptation."

French-speaking Catholics in Benin and Belgium began using the new translation at Pentecost last June. The common Spanish translation already is "no nos dejes caer en la tentacion" or "do not let us fall into temptation."

The Italian bishops' conference in 2008 adopted a new translation of the Bible; for the Lord's Prayer both in Matthew 6 and Luke 11, they chose "do not abandon us in temptation," although they did not order the change in liturgical use. The New American Bible, revised edition, is the basis for the Lectionary used at English-language Masses in the United States; the petition from the Lord's Prayer in Matthew and Luke is translated as: "do not subject us to the final test."

Pope Francis told Father Pozza, "I'm the one who falls. But it's not (God) who pushes me into temptation to see how I fall. No, a father does not do this. A father helps us up immediately."

"The one who leads us into temptation is Satan," the pope said. "That's Satan's job."

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in its discussion of the Lord's Prayer, says, "our sins result from our consenting to temptation; we therefore ask our Father not to 'lead' us into temptation. It is difficult to translate the Greek verb used by a single English word: the Greek means both 'do not allow us to enter into temptation' and 'do not let us yield to temptation.'"

Referring to James 1:13, the catechism says, "'God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one'; on the contrary, he wants to set us free from evil. We ask him not to allow us to take the way that leads to sin."


Pope Francis: It's Good for Young People to Study Latin

EWTN || By Hannah Brockhaus || 06 December 22017

good for young people to study latinIn a message to the Pontifical Academies on Tuesday, Pope Francis praised the study of Latin, especially for young people, and encouraged scholars and teachers to promote its study as a positive guide for students as they navigate life.

Addressing academics and Latin teachers, the Pope said Dec. 5 that they should “know how to speak to the hearts of the young, know how to treasure the very rich heritage of the Latin tradition to educate them in the path of life, and accompany them along paths rich in hope and confidence…”

Pope Francis’ message was read at the 22nd Solemn Public Session of the Pontifical Academies, which had as its theme, “In interiore homine: Research paths in the Latin tradition.”

The Pope praised “the theme of interiority, of the heart, of consciousness and self-awareness” which he said is found “in every culture as well as in the different religious traditions.”

“Significantly,” he continued, this theme is “presented with great urgency and strength even in our time, often characterized by concern with appearance, superficiality, the division between heart and mind, interiority and exteriority, consciousness and behavior.”

Moments of change, crisis, or transformation, whether in relationships or in a person’s identity, require reflection “on the inner and intimate essence of the human being.”

Francis also noted the many important figures, both in the classical and the Christian traditions, who have reflected on the dynamism of man, pointing especially to the Fathers of the Church and the Latin writers of the first millennium.

Highlighting St. Augustine in particular, the Pope quoted from his Tractates on the Gospel of St. John, which say, “Return to your heart; see there what, it may be, you can perceive of God, for in it is the image of God. In the inner man dwells Christ, in the inner man are you renewed after the image of God, in His own image recognize its Author.”

This is relevant also for our time, he stressed, and worthy of our reflection and of sharing with others, especially young people, who are just starting on the journey of life.

A journey where they may be caught up, he explained, in the “labyrinths of superficiality and banality, of the external success that conceals an inner emptiness, of the hypocrisy that masks the split between appearances and the heart, between the beautiful and cared-for body and the soul, empty and arid.”

At the meeting, the winners of the 2017 Prize of the Pontifical Academies were also awarded. This year's prize winners are Dr. Pierre Chambert-Protat for his doctoral thesis on Florus of Lyon, and Dr. Francesco Lubian for her critical publication of the Disticha attributed to St. Ambrose.

The winners of the Medal of the Pontificate were Dr. Shari Broodts for a critical edition of the Sermones of St. Augustine and the Latin Teaching Group of the University of Toulouse, for the publication of a Latin manual for university students.

The 2017 Prize of the Pontifical Academies was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Academy for Latin, or Pontificia Acadamia Latinitatis, which was founded by Benedict XVI in 2012 through the motu proprio Latina Lingua.

Organized every year by the Pontifical Council for Culture, the 2017 Prize of the Pontifical Academies was on two themes: methodological proposals for teaching Latin today, and the reception of ancient Christian Latin between the medieval and modern eras.

The first topic was “reserved to institutions (academies, schools, associations, foundations, research groups etc.) that are engaged in formative activity among the youth,” the Prize’s press release stated.

The second was for scholars between the ages of 25 and 40 who have produced doctoral theses or publications on the theme in the last five years.

Source: EWTN…


Pope: What I Don't Say in Public, I Say Behind Closed Doors

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Elise Harris || 02 December 2017

pope flight interview from bangladeshOn his return flight from Bangladesh to Rome, Pope Francis offered journalists an insight into his communication strategy, saying that when it comes to a sensitive topic, at times he prefers to hold his tongue publicly so that his message gets across, but is more open in private conversations.

“For me, the most important thing is that the message arrives and in order to do this I try to say things, step by step, and listen to the answers, so that the message may arrive,” the Pope said on his Dec. 2 flight from Dhaka to Rome.

He was returning from a Nov. 27-Dec. 2 visit to south Asia, which took him to both Burma and Bangladesh.

A major underlying theme of the trip was crisis surrounding the Rohingya, a largely Muslim ethnic group who reside in Burma’s Rakhine State, who have faced levels of state-sanctioned violence so drastic that the United Nations has called their plight “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

Of particular concern was whether or not Pope Francis would use the term “Rohingya” in his public speeches, because despite widespread use of the word in the international community, the term is controversial within Burma. The Burmese government refuses to use the term, and considers the Rohingya to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. They have been denied citizenship since Burma gained independence in 1948.

Given the delicate political situation, Pope Francis had been advised by local Church leaders in Burma to avoid using the word during official speeches, which he did. However, after meeting with a group of 18 Rohingya Muslims at an interreligious encounter in Bangladesh, he decided to drop the phrase publicly, breaking with his previous protocol.

During an hour-long press conference with journalists on board the flight, which consisted of 12 questions focused primarily on the visit, Francis was asked if he regretted not using the word “Rohingya” publicly while in Burma.

In his answer, the Pope noted that he has used the term publicly several times in different audiences and speeches, so “it was already known what I thought about this thing and what I had said.”

However, he said the question made him reflect on “how I try to communicate,” and the most important goal is always to ensure that his message gets across.

Using the image of a teenager as an everyday example, he said that if they are in a crisis, they “say what they think by throwing the door in the face of the other...and the message doesn’t arrive. It closes.”

When it came to using the word “Rohingya,” Francis said he realized that if he used it in the official speeches, “I would have thrown the door in a face,” implying that the term would have prevented Burmese officials from hearing his message.

Instead, he said he chose to describe the situation and the lack of human rights, and to advocate for inclusion and citizenship in public. In private conversations, however, the Pope said he allowed himself to “go beyond.”  

While in Burma, also called Myanmar, the Pope met privately with officials, including General Min Aung Hlaing, the military’s commander-in-chief and a powerful political figure in the nation.

“I was very, very satisfied with the talks that I was able to have,” he said, explaining that while he didn't have “the pleasure of throwing the door in the face, publicly, a denouncement,” he was able to have “the satisfaction of dialoguing and letting the other speak and to say my part.”

In the end, Pope Francis said his message got across, and that “this is very important in communications, the concern that the message will arrive.”

The Pope told journalists that he didn’t know whether he would have the opportunity to meet with Rohingya representatives while in Bangladesh. He thanked the Bangladeshi government for allowing the Rohingya to join him for the Dec. 1 interreligious encounter, saying the country is a good example of what it means to welcome and to have open doors.

Many of the 18 Rohingya present at the meeting didn't know they would meet him either, Francis said, explaining that they were taken from the crowd and told to get in line to greet him, but not to say anything.

“I didn’t like that,” he said. And when the organizers tried to usher them off stage right away, “I got mad and a chewed them out a bit,” he said, confessing that “I'm a sinner.”

After hearing each of them share their stories, Francis said he was moved and wanted to say something to them spontaneously, so he offered a brief prayer in which he asked for forgiveness on behalf of all who harmed them.

“In that moment I cried. I tried not to let it be seen. They cried too,” he said, noting that the other religious leaders who came up to greet them were also moved.

By doing things in this way, Pope Francis said he felt that “the message had arrived. Part was planned, but the majority came out spontaneously.”

Source: Catholic News Agency… 


Pope Arrives in Bangladesh, Praises Country's Welcome of Rohingya

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Cindy Wooden || 30 November 2017

pope arrives in bangladeshThe government and people of Bangladesh have shown exemplary generosity in welcoming hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, despite great demands placed on already limited resources, Pope Francis said.

Arriving in Bangladesh from Myanmar Nov. 30, Pope Francis wasted no time in mentioning the plight of the refugees who have been a source of concern for him for more than two years.

While he spoke diplomatically in Myanmar about the obligation to protect the rights of all people and ethnic groups, he was more specific in Bangladesh, referring to the "massive influx of refugees from Rakhine state" in Myanmar. He did not, however, use the word "Rohingya," which is how the refugees identify themselves.

Providing shelter and basic necessities to the refugees "has been done at no little sacrifice," the pope said.

The eyes of the world have watched Bangladesh take the refugees in, he said, but clearly the situation is still dire. 

"None of us can fail to be aware of the gravity of the situation, the immense toll of human suffering involved, and the precarious living conditions of so many of our brothers and sisters, a majority of whom are women and children, crowded in the refugee camps," he said.

Pope Francis publicly pleaded with the international community to assist Bangladesh in meeting the refugees' emergency needs, but also in helping to resolve the crisis in Myanmar that led them to flee.

As he did in Myanmar, the first stage of his trip, the pope also spoke in Bangladesh about interreligious dialogue, religious freedom and consolidating peaceful coexistence among members of different religious communities.

From the Dhaka international airport, Pope Francis went directly to the National Martyrs' Memorial, which honors those who died in the 1971 war in which Bangladesh separated from Pakistan. In the memorial's guestbook, Pope Francis wrote: "Recalling all those who gave their lives as the nation came to birth, may the people of Bangladesh work truly for justice and the common good."

In the book, under the heading "name," he wrote "Francis." Under "designation," he wrote, "Roman Catholic bishop."

He held a private meeting with Bangladeshi President Abdul Hamid, then addressed the president, government officials, diplomats and leaders of Bangladeshi society.

Welcoming the pope, Hamid told the pope his government had sheltered 1 million Rohingya. Unfortunately, he said, "thousands of them, including women and children, were brutally killed, thousands of women were violated. They saw their homes burned into ashes."

The president, too, spoke of interreligious dialogue and harmony among all groups in the nation where the majority of people are Muslim.

"We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism," he told the pope, but his government is working to "eradicate the root causes of terrorism and violent extremism."

Hamid told the pope that Bangladeshis have a tradition of coexistence and believe "religion is personal, but its festivals are universal" and something neighbors of different faiths celebrate with each other.

"In a world where religion is often -- scandalously -- misused to foment division, such a witness to its reconciling and unifying power is all the more necessary," the pope told him.

"Only through sincere dialogue and respect for legitimate diversity can a people reconcile divisions, overcome unilateral perspectives and recognize the validity of differing viewpoints," Pope Francis said. "Because true dialogue looks to the future, it builds unity in the service of the common good and is concerned for the needs of all citizens, especially the poor, the underprivileged and those who have no voice."


ISIS Group Releases Propaganda Poster of Pope Francis Being ‘beheaded’

Catholic Herald || By Staff Reporter || 22 November 2017

propaganda poster of pope francis being beheadedThe group has also warned of terror attacks at Christmas time

A group linked to Islamic State (ISIS) has released a propaganda poster depicting Pope Francis being beheaded.

The picture, which the Catholic Herald has chosen not to show, depicts a jihadist standing over the torso of a prisoner in an orange jumpsuit while holding the head of the Pope.

The terrorist, clad in a white scarf and khaki, is standing in front of several damaged and destroyed buildings. Next to the Pope’s head is written “Jorge Mario Bergoglio”.

The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reports that the Wafa Media Foundation, a propaganda outlet with links to ISIS, produced the image. It comes just days after the group circulated another poster depicting a man driving a car towards St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, warning of a Christmas terror attack at the Vatican.

Analysts have warned that the terror group may step up so-called “lone wolf” attacks in Europe as its self-proclaimed state collapses in Iraq and Syria, especially around Christmas time.

In December last year, a terrorist linked to ISIS drove a truck into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 11 people and injuring 56.

On All Saints Day this year, Pope Francis prayed for the victims of recent attacks throughout the world, saying: “We ask the Lord to convert the hearts of terrorists and free the world from hatred and homicidal folly that abuses the name of God, spreading death.”

Source: Catholic Herald… 


Pope: Not Everything Technically Possible is Morally Acceptable

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Elise Harris || 18 November 2017

technically possible may not be morally acceptableOn Saturday Pope Francis praised the achievements of scientific and technological advancements, but cautioned that developments in the field have limits, and should be founded above all on the good of the human person.

“It remains always valid the principle that not everything that is technically possible or feasible is therefore ethically acceptable,” the Pope said in his prepared remarks Nov. 18.

“Science, like any other human activity, knows that there are limits to be observed for the good of humanity itself, and requires a sense of ethical responsibility,” he said, adding that in the words of Bl. Pope Paul VI, the true measure of progress “is that which is aimed at the good of every man and the whole man.”

Pope Francis spoke on the last day of the Pontifical Council for Culture's Nov. 15-18 plenary titled “The Future of Humanity: New Challenges to Anthropology,” and which took place inside the Vatican's old synod hall. Some 54 members and consultors of the council, including prelates and laity, participated.

Discussion touched on anthropological changes in three key areas: medicine and genetics, neuroscience, and the progress of autonomous and thinking machines.

In his speech, the Pope noted how each of these scientific and technical developments have prompted some to think humanity is on the cusp of a new age and level of being superior to what came before.

The questions these advancements raise are “great and serious,” he said, and the Church is paying close attention, but with the desire to put the human person and the issues surrounding it at the center of her own reflections.

In the bible the course of man's anthropological progress can be seen from Genesis to Revelation, he said, developing around the “fundamental elements” of relation and freedom.”

Relation consists of three dimensions: relation to material things such as land and animals, relation to the divine and relation to other beings, where as freedom is expressed in autonomy and in moral choices.

This understanding of anthropology is still valid today, Francis said, but at the same time, today we also realize that “the great fundamental principles and concepts of anthropology are not rarely put into question on the basis of a greater knowledge of the complexity of the human condition and the need for further investigation.”

Anthropology is the source of our self-understanding, but in modern times, it has become a “fluid and changing horizon” in light of increasing socioeconomic changes, population shifts, increasing intercultural interactions, globalization and the “incredible” discoveries of science and technology.”

Francis said that in response to this situation, we must first give thanks to the scientists who work in favor of humanity and all of creation through their research and discoveries.

Science and technology have helped to deepen in our understanding of the human person, he said, but cautioned that “this alone is not enough to give a response.”

In this regard, he said it's necessary to draw on the “treasures of wisdom” conserved in the various religions traditions, in “popular wisdom”  and in literature and the arts, while at the same time rediscovering the perspectives offered by philosophy and theology.

He stressed the need to overcome the “tragic division” between the humanistic-theological culture and the scientific culture, saying there must be greater dialogue between the Church and the scientific community.

The Church, he said, offers key talking points for this dialogue, the first of which is the centrality of the human person, “which is considered an end and not a means.” Secondly, the Church reminds the world of the principle of the “universal destination of goods,” which includes knowledge and technology.

“Scientific and technical progress serve to benefit all of humanity and their benefits can't go to the advantage of the few,” Francis said, adding that new inequalities based on knowledge that increase the divide between the rich and the poor must be avoided in the future.

Pope Francis closed his speech saying the major decisions on the direction of scientific research and investment “are assumed by the whole of society and not dictated solely by the market or by the interest of a few,” and thanked participants for the “precious service” to the Church and to humanity.

Source: Catholic News Agency…


Pope’s Car Gift (Lamborghini) To Be Auctioned Off for Charity

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Elise Harris || 15 November 2017

pope car gift to be auctioned off for charity 2017On Wednesday, Pope Francis became the new owner of a papal-themed Lamborghini Huracán, which was given to him by company executives at the Vatican and will be auctioned off for charity.

The sleek white Huracán with gold lines running along the hood and angles of the car's body was presented to Francis in front of his residence at the Vatican's Saint Martha Guesthouse Nov. 15. He blessed and autographed it in the presence of top executives from the luxury Italian sports car brand.

The car will be auctioned at Sotheby's in London, and the Pope has decided to give the proceeds to three different charitable causes: the restoration of villages on the Nineveh Plain in Iraq, assisting victims of human trafficking, and missionary work in Africa.

At a base cost of roughly $250,000, the Huracán made its debut at the March 2014 Geneva Auto show, and was released in the second quarter of the year, quickly becoming Lamborghini's most popular and best-selling car.

The name, which is Spanish for “hurricane,” is reminiscent of the fighting bull “Huracán” that fought in the late 1800s and was known for its courage. The choice of the car's name follows suit with Lamborghini's style, which often uses historic Spanish fighting bulls as a scheme for naming vehicles.

It was designed based on the hexagonal form of the carbon atom, and has 610 metric horsepower and 4 wheel drive, as well as a naturally aspirated V10 engine and a full-LED lighting system. In 2014, the Huracán was named “Supercar of the Year” by car magazine Top Gear.

With six different models of the Huracán on the market, the papal-version marks a special 7th edition created specifically for Pope Francis.

Funds raised by the car's auction will go in part toward initiatives led by papal charity Aid to the Church in Need to rebuild properties that were destroyed by ISIS in Iraq.

One of their projects, titled “Iraq, return to the roots,” was presented at the Vatican in September. From 2014-2017, the project has financed various programs for Christians in Iraq, amounting to an approximate total of $35 million.

Among the structures destroyed or damaged since the ISIS invasion of the Nineveh Plains in 2014, it is estimated that some 13,000 homes, schools, hospitals and religious buildings were completely or partially destroyed. The project, with a total estimated cost of $250 million, aims to continue providing a concrete response to Christians from the Nineveh Plains who want to return to their homes.

Proceeds from the auction will also directly benefit the Pope John XXIII Community, which assists women who have been victims of human trafficking and prostitution. Pope Francis has met members of the community at the Vatican on several occasions, and he visited them in August 2016 as one of his “Mercy Friday” outings during the Jubilee of Mercy.

Funds from the auction will also support two Italian associations that carry out missionary work in Africa, one being the “GICAM” project of hand surgeon Professor Marco Lanzetta, and the other being the “Friends of Central Africa” organization, which for two years has led projects dedicated primarily to care for women and children.

Francis has done similar auctions for high-end gifts in the past, with each item going for well beyond its market sale price.

In 2013, he was given a Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide, which was sold to a private buyer for roughly $327,000, far exceeding the $16-22,000 pre-sale estimate.

After his September 2015 visit to the United States, during which FIAT Chrysler made a pair of FIAT 500Ls available for the Pope to use during his time in Philadelphia, both of the cars were auctioned off to support local charity.

Similarly, in April 2016 a white skullcap – known as a “zucchetto” and worn by prelates in the Catholic Church – was sold for around $18,000, after the owner had bought it and exchanged it with the Pope during a general audience. At least part of the funds went to support a children's charity.

Source: Catholic News Agency…


'Shepherds' Who Seek Money, Power Cause Scandal, Pope Says

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Junno Arocho Esteves || 13 November 2017

shepherds seeking money cause scandal 2017Church leaders who are attached to money and try to climb the ladder of success wound the church and destroy people's hope, Pope Francis said.

Shepherds and those in positions of authority within the church who say one thing and do another "drive people away with their example, with their incoherency, with their own inconsistency," the pope said Nov. 13 during his morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae.

"The inconsistency of Christians is one of the easiest weapons the devil has to weaken the people of God and to drive the people of God away from the Lord," he said.

In his homily, the pope reflected on the day's Gospel reading from St. Luke in which Jesus warns of those who cause scandal through sin.

"It would be better for him if a millstone were put around his neck and he be thrown into the sea than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin," Jesus said.

While scandals are inevitable, Pope Francis said, Christians must beware of injuring the "vulnerability of the people of God" and causing them wounds that "they carry their whole life."

Scandal "is also capable of killing: killing hope, killing illusions, killing families, killing so many hearts," he said.

One of the ways men and women are scandalized today, he added, is when they see an attachment to money and power, especially by those who are called to lead the church.

Pope Francis called on all Christians, especially the church's pastors, to "make an examination of conscience" so that "we can respond to the Lord and be a little closer to him" rather than causing scandal.

"Every shepherd must ask himself: how is my friendship with money? Or the shepherd that seeks to move up; vanity leads him to climb up instead of being meek and humble because meekness and humility encourages closeness to the people. Or the shepherd who thinks he is a lord -- proud -- and commands everyone, not a shepherd who serves the people of God," the pope said.


Pope: Mass is for the Eucharist, Not Pictures. Put the Phone Away

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Hannah Brockhaus || 08 November 2017

eucharist not a spectacle for photos pope unhappyOn Wednesday, a fiery Pope Francis chastised those who spend Mass talking to others, looking at their phone or even taking pictures during papal liturgies, saying these are distractions that take focus away from the “heart of the Church,” which is the Eucharist.

“The Mass is not a show: it is to go to meet the passion and resurrection of the Lord,” the Pope said Nov. 8. “The Lord is here with us, present. Many times we go there, we look at things and chat among ourselves while the priest celebrates the Eucharist... But it is the Lord!”

In particular, Francis condemned the use of cell phones to take photos at papal Masses. At one point during the Mass the priest says, “we lift up our hearts,” he said. “He does not say, ‘We lift up our phones to take photographs!’”

“It’s a bad thing! And I tell you that it gives me so much sadness when I celebrate here in the Piazza or Basilica and I see so many raised cellphones, not just of the faithful, even of some priests and even bishops.”

“But think: when you go to Mass, the Lord is there! And you're distracted. (But) it is the Lord!”

During the general audience, Pope Francis said the Eucharist would be the new focus of his weekly catechesis for the year, because “it is fundamental for us Christians to understand well the value and meaning of the Holy Mass to live more and more fully our relationship with God.”

In the Eucharist we rediscover, through our senses, what is essential, he said. Just as the Apostle Thomas asked to see and touch the wounds of Jesus after his resurrection, we need the same thing: “to see him and touch him to be able to recognize him.”

In this way, the Sacraments meet this very "human need" of ours, he said. And in the Eucharist, in particular, we find a privileged way to meet God and his love.

The Second Vatican Council was inspired by the desire to help Christians understand the beauty of the encounter in the Eucharist even better, he continued. This is why “it was necessary first to implement, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, an adequate renewal of the liturgy.”

A central theme emphasized at Vatican II was the liturgical formation of the faithful, which Francis said is also the aim of the series of catechesis he began today: to help people “grow in the knowledge of this great gift God has given us in the Eucharist.”   

As a side note, Francis asked if people had noticed the chaotic way children make the sign of cross at Mass, moving their hand all over their chest, and asked people to teach children to make the sign of the cross well.

“We need to teach children to do the sign of the cross well,” he said, noting that this is how Mass begins, because just as Mass begins this way, “so life begins, so the day begins.”

Concluding his reflection on the Mass and the Eucharist, Pope Francis said that he hopes that through these brief weekly lessons, everyone will rediscover the beauty "hidden in the Eucharistic celebration, and which, when revealed, gives a full meaning to the life of everyone."

Source: Catholic News Agency…


Despite Reports, Pope Francis Isn’t Opening the Door to All Married Priests

Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Mary Rezac || 05 November 2017

celibacy seems there to stayPope Francis has reportedly said he will allow for debate as to whether married men could be ordained to the priesthood in the region during a 2019 Synod of Bishops focusing on the Church in the Amazon basin.

His comments came in response to a question on the matter from Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the president of the Episcopal Commission for the Amazon, according to the newspaper Il Messaggero.

The comments have been broadly interpreted in media outlets to mean that Pope Francis is considering opening the door for priests throughout the Roman Catholic Church to get married. However, the Pope’s comments in response to Cardinal Hummes were specifically about whether “viri probati” or “proven men” could be ordained to the priesthood. Such men, who have displayed virtue and prudence, are thought by some to be a possible solution to a shortage of priestly vocations in Brazil.

Dr. Kurt Martens, a canon lawyer and professor at The Catholic University of America, said there is no reason to think that the Pope’s comments mean he is open the door to the married priesthood throughout the Church.

“Even if the synod would recommend or ask for the ordination of viri probati in the Pan-Amazon area, it is important to note that the Pope still would have to accept the request and make it into law, and it would most likely be limited to that area,” Martens told CNA in e-mail comments.

“So we are not talking about changing the law on celibacy for the whole Church: it would be the ordination of viri probati for only that region,” he added.

The ratio of Catholics to priests in the Amazon is region is 10,000 to one, about three times the worldwide ratio of Catholics to priests throughout the world, and more than five times the ratio in the United States.

The Pope has raised the possibility of the married priesthood in previous interviews, although usually in response to direct questions about the subject.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis answered a question about the priest shortage in a March 8 interview published in the German weekly Die Zeit. The pontiff offered a variety of possible solutions to the priest shortage, but did not mention the married priesthood until he was asked about it specifically.

In response, the Pope spoke about the possibility of ordaining ‘viri probati’, especially in areas “where priests are needed. But optional celibacy is not the solution,” he said.

The celibate priesthood has long been a tradition of the Roman Catholic Church, with exceptions made only in the cases of married ministers of other denominations who convert to Catholicism and then become priests.

Early on in the Church, bishops were selected from the celibate priests, a tradition that stood before the mandatory celibate priesthood. As the “culture of celibacy” became more established, it increasingly became the norm in the Church, until married men who applied for ordinations had to appeal to the Pope for special permission.

In the 11th century, St. Gregory VII issued a decree requiring all priests to be celibate and asked his bishops to enforce it. Celibacy has been the norm ever since in the Latin Rite, with special exceptions made for some Anglican and other Protestant pastors who convert to Catholicism.

Fr. Gary Selin is a priest and professor at St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver. His research on the topic, “Priestly Celibacy: Theological Foundations” was published last year by CUA press.

Fr. Selin told CNA earlier this year that while the debate about married priesthood often centers on pragmatics, it usually ignores the rich theological reasons behind the celibate priesthood.

“Jesus Christ himself never married, and there’s something about imitating the life our Lord in full that is very attractive,” Fr. Selin told CNA at the time.

“Interestingly, Jesus is never mentioned as a reason for celibacy. The next time you read about celibacy, try to see if they mention our Lord; oftentimes he is left out of the picture.”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI also once told priests that celibacy agitates the world so much because it is a sign of the kingdom to come.

“It is true that for the agnostic world, the world in which God does not enter, celibacy is a great scandal, because it shows exactly that God is considered and experienced as reality. With the eschatological dimension of celibacy, the future world of God enters into the reality of our time. And should this disappear?” Benedict XVI said in 2010.

Christ himself said that no one would be married or given in marriage in heaven, and therefore celibacy is a sign of the beatific vision, Fr. Selin has pointed out.

“Married life will pass away when we behold God face to face and all of us become part of the bridal Church,” Fr. Selin said. “The celibate is more of a direct symbol of that.”

Source: Catholic News Agency…


Pray that Priests Never Use Law to Shut Door to Salvation, Pope Says

Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Carol Glatz || 19 October 2017

priests not to shut door to salvationThe 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

giuseppe profiti guilty of abuse of officeA 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 tops 40 million followers on twitter 2017Pope 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

pope wants canon law to serve vatican iiThe 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 announces pre synod meeting for youth 2017Pope 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

pope mourns las vegas deadly shooting 2017On 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

former vatican auditor on his resignationThe 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 says church was late fighting abusePope 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

muller and sarah urge charity for liturgical mattersCardinals 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

more youth and women needed for curiaOne 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 calls for change of culture in colombia 2017Pope 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 arrives in colombia 2017Pope 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

pope upholds traditional marriage of man and womanBy 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 dream bigGod 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

isis threatens the vaticanA 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

vatican ii liturgical reform irreversibleOn 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

arbitrary explusion of migrants not helpfulIn 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 prays for victims of sierra leone madslidePope 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

vatican permits nun to officiate wedding in canadaWhen 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."


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