Mon, 24 Sep 2018 07:55:00 -0400
VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- For the first time in decades, all of the Catholic bishops in China are in full communion with the pope, the Vatican announced. Pope Francis lifted the excommunications or irregular status of seven bishops who had been ordained with government approval, but not the Vatican's consent, the Vatican announced Sept. 22. A few hours earlier, representatives of the Vatican and the Chinese government signed what they described as a "provisional agreement" on the appointment of bishops. "With a view to sustaining the proclamation of the Gospel in China, the Holy Father Pope Francis has decided to readmit to full ecclesial communion the remaining 'official' bishops ordained without pontifical mandate," the Vatican said, listing their names. The pope also included in the list Bishop Anthony Tu Shihua, who, before dying Jan. 4, 2017, "had expressed the desire to be reconciled with the Apostolic See," the Vatican said. Regularizing the bishops' status, the Vatican said, Pope Francis hopes "a new process may begin that will allow the wounds of the past to be overcome, leading to the full communion of all Chinese Catholics," some of whom steadfastly have refused to participate in activities or parishes under the leadership of bishops not recognized by Rome. In recent years, most bishops chosen by the government-related Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association have sought and received Vatican recognition before their ordinations. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said in a statement that "the objective of the Holy See is a pastoral one: the Holy See intends just to create the condition, or to help to create the condition, of a greater freedom, autonomy and organization, in order that the Catholic Church can dedicate itself to the mission of announcing the Gospel and also to contribute to the well-being and to the spiritual and material prosperity and harmony of the country, of every person and of the world as a whole." "What is required now is unity, trust and a new impetus," Cardinal Parolin said in a video message recorded before he left Rome to join the pope in Vilnius. "To the Catholic community in China -- the bishops, priests, religious and faithful -- the pope entrusts, above all, the commitment to make concrete fraternal gestures of reconciliation among themselves, and so to overcome past misunderstandings, past tensions, even the recent ones." The nomination and assignment of bishops has been a key sticking point in Vatican-Chinese relations for decades; the Catholic Church has insisted that bishops be appointed by the pope and the Chinese government has maintained that would amount to foreign interference in China's internal affairs. Catholic communities that have refused to register with the government and refused to follow government-appointed bishops commonly are referred to as the underground church. Many communities, though, have bishops who were elected locally but who pledged their unity with and fidelity to the pope, which in effect meant they were recognized by both the government and the Vatican. Vatican officials always have said that giving up full control over the nomination of bishops would not be what it hopes for, but could be a good first step toward ensuring greater freedom and security for the Catholic community there. The Vatican announcement said the agreement was signed Sept. 22 in Beijing by Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, undersecretary for foreign relations in the Vatican Secretariat of State, and Wang Chao, Chinese deputy foreign minister. The provisional agreement, the Vatican said, "is the fruit of a gradual and reciprocal rapprochement, has been agreed following a long process of careful negotiation and foresees the possibility of periodic reviews of its application. It concerns the nomination of bishops, a question of great importance for the life of the church, and creates the conditions for greater collaboration at the bilateral level." "The shared hope," the ...
Fri, 21 Sep 2018 08:27:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- No one can remain indifferent to the way minority groups are increasingly the object of so much fear, scorn and hatred, Pope Francis said. And he warned those who profit from exploiting foreigners or people in precarious situations and those who contribute to today's new forms of slavery that one day they will have to answer to God for the choices they have made, he said Sept. 20. The pope's remarks came in a written speech he handed participants attending a Sept. 18-20 conference on "Xenophobia, Racism and Populist Nationalism in the Context of Global Migration." The gathering was jointly hosted by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the Geneva-based World Council of Churches in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. In his speech, the pope noted how "feelings of suspicion, fear, contempt and even hatred" were on the rise against individuals or groups who have been judged to be "different" based on their ethnicity, national origin or religious affiliation, and, as such were being considered "not sufficiently worthy of being fully part" of a community's life. These feelings, he added, "all too often inspire real acts of intolerance, discrimination or exclusion" and can gravely harm people's dignity and rights. Unfortunately, he said, the same attitudes also can be seen in the world of politics when people "give in to the temptation of exploiting the fears and objective difficulties of some groups and use misleading promises for short-sighted electoral interests." The seriousness of these situations "can leave no one indifferent," he said. "We are all called to cultivate and promote the respect of the dignity intrinsic to every human person." Families and educators, he said, must show what sharing, welcoming and solidarity look like. The media, he said, have a particular "duty to put themselves at the service of truth" and make sure the information they share fosters "a culture of encounter and openness to others, in mutual respect for diversity." Religious leaders must all share God-given ethical values and principles that uphold the dignity of life, respect human dignity and foster solidarity, he said. However, the pope sent a clear warning to those who benefit economically from "the climate of distrust toward foreigners" by using undocumented workers and feeding a system of job insecurity and exploitation. These people should look deeply into their own conscience, he said, "knowing that one day they will have to answer to God for the choices they made." Conference participants released a final message Sept. 19 calling on Christians to reject xenophobia and racism as attitudes incompatible with Gospel values. "Racism is a sin, in both its personal and systemic expressions, radically incompatible with the Christian faith," the statement said. "People of faith must condemn racism because it denies human dignity and the mutual belonging to the one human family and defaces the image of God in every human being." Participants also affirmed the right of people fleeing from armed conflict, persecution or natural disaster to seek asylum in another nation, and "we invoke respect for the rights for all people on the move, regardless of their status," said the statement. Turning to the issue of populist nationalism, the message said, "Claiming to protect Christian values or communities by shutting out those who seek safe refuge from violence and suffering is unacceptable, and undermines Christian witness in the world, and raises up national boundaries as idols." The participants pledged to will work together for the "transformation of unjust structures and systems" and to strive to promote a culture of "encounter and dialogue, recognizing God in the face of migrants."
Thu, 20 Sep 2018 11:29:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, and he defended taking the title "pope emeritus." In two private letters from the retired pope to German Cardinal Walter Brandmuller, former president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, the pope defended the way he handled his resignation and warned the cardinal of the negative impact his public comments could have. The German newspaper, Bild, obtained copies of the letters written in November 2017, but blurred Cardinal Brandmuller's name in photos. The New York Times named the cardinal and also published translated excerpts from the letters Sept. 20. The first letter from the retired pope was a response to a comment Cardinal Brandmuller made in a lengthy interview with the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published Oct. 28, 2017. The interviewer had asked what the cardinal thought about the "construction" of "pope emeritus" -- the title the retired pope has taken on. The cardinal responded that the figure of a "pope emeritus" never existed in the church's history and having a pope come along and overturn 2,000 years of tradition, "floored not just us cardinals." Referring to that portion of the newspaper interview, the pope wrote that Cardinal Brandmuller should certainly be aware that other popes had -- though rarely -- stepped down. Pope Benedict wrote that by using the title "pope emeritus," he would be away from the media spotlight and make it thoroughly clear there was just one pope. "If you know of a better way, and therefore think that you can judge the (title) chosen by me, please tell me," the retired pope wrote. In the second letter, the pope acknowledged the cardinal responding to his first letter, and he said he was grateful that it seemed the cardinal would no longer discuss his resignation in public. "I can very well understand the deep-seated pain that the end of my papacy has caused you and many others," Pope Benedict wrote. "However, for some people and -– it seems to me -- also for you, the pain has turned into an anger that no longer merely concerns my resignation, but increasingly also my person and my papacy as a whole." With such an attitude, he wrote, his whole papacy "is now being devalued and conflated with sadness about the situation in which the church currently finds itself." Cardinal Brandmuller had already postulated the idea that an "emeritus" pope figure could threaten church unity in his essay, "Renuntiatio papae: Some Historical Reflections," published online in July 2016. Cardinal Brandmuller was also one of four cardinals, including U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, who publicly released in September 2016 a critical set of questions, known as "dubia," asking Pope Francis for clarification about his teaching on the family. Pope Benedict, a noted theologian, had described his decision to be the first pope to resign in almost 600 years as the result of intense prayer and an examination of his conscience before God. In the last two days of his pontificate, he pledged obedience to his successor and noted that he was leaving the "active exercise of the (Petrine) ministry." While promising to remain "hidden" in retirement, he also said he was "not returning to private life" but would belong "always and totally to everyone, to the whole church" and "remain, so to speak, within St. Peter's precincts."
Wed, 19 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0400
In an unprecedented move, Pope Francis has summoned the presidents of every Catholic bishops’ conference in the world to Rome in February to discuss the prevention of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults. The announcement, which was made Sept. 12, came after the pope and members of his international Council of Cardinals wrapped up three days of meetings. After consulting with his cardinal-advisers, Pope Francis “decided to convoke a meeting with the presidents of the bishops’ conferences of the Catholic Church on the theme of the protection of minors,” the council said in a written communique. Catholic News Service reported that the council members “extensively reflected together with the Holy Father on the matters of abuse,” and that Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, OFM Cap., of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and a member of the council, updated members on the commission’s ongoing efforts. The gathering of conference presidents will be held Feb. 21-24, at the Vatican. The meeting, which will attract more than 100 bishops and is the first of its kind, was announced as the sexual abuse crisis continues to roil the Church in the United States and around the world. Latest eruptions On the day the Vatican announced the February bishops’ gathering, Der Spiegel magazine reported that a study commissioned by the bishops of Germany had found that 1,670 priests and clerics had sexually abused more than 3,600 minors, mostly boys, in Germany over a 70-year period. Further underscoring the global dimension of the crisis, the Archdiocese of Santiago in Chile announced Sept. 15 that Pope Francis had expelled Father Cristian Precht from the priesthood, with no possibility of appeal, after he had been convicted of sexual abuse. The crisis, meanwhile, continues to cause turmoil in the United States. Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C., announced in mid-September that he was preparing to ask Pope Francis to accept his resignation. (He reached the canonical retirement age for bishops, 75, in late 2015.) The cardinal has received withering criticism since a Pennsylvania grand jury report in mid-August said he allowed some priests who had been accused of sexual abuse to stay in ministry while he was the bishop of Pittsburgh. Also, it was announced Sept. 13 that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael Bransfield of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia. With that move, the pope appointed Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore to lead an investigation into allegations that Bishop Bransfield sexually harassed adults. Archbishop Lori will serve as apostolic administrator of the Wheeling-Charleston diocese while remaining archbishop of Baltimore. U.S. audience The announcement of Bishop Bransfield’s resignation came on the same day that a delegation of U.S. bishops met with Pope Francis to discuss the county’s abuse crisis. “We shared with Pope Francis our situation in the United States — how the Body of Christ is lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse. He listened very deeply from the heart. It was a lengthy, fruitful and good exchange,” said Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who is the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Cardinal DiNardo publicly requested the meeting with Pope Francis after Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former nuncio to the United States, in August accused the pope of knowing for years about the alleged sexual misconduct of a former U.S. cardinal, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, and failing to act. Archbishop McCarrick was removed from ministry by Pope Francis in June and resigned from the College of Cardinals in July amidst allegations that he had sexually abused minors and adults, including seminarians and priests. He has denied the allegations and awaits a canonical trial. In meeting with the pope, Cardinal DiNardo was accompanied by Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez, vice-president of the USCCB. They were joined in ...
Wed, 19 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0400
In the spring of 2018, the International Theological Commission released a document on the topic of “Synodality in the Life and Mission of the Church.” This document begins with the strong words of Pope Francis: “The path of synodality is the path that God expects from the Church of the third millennium” (No. 1). The document then traces the path of synodality through Scriptures, Tradition, synods and formation for synodal events. Synodality refers to members of the Church moving forward in communion with (‘syn’) Christ and one another along a path (‘odos’) under the impulse of the Holy Spirit. This movement, likened to a pilgrimage, occurs when members of the Church, at whatever level, come together according to their particular vocation to pray, to discuss and to discern the next step on their pathway (Nos. 48-49). The first part of the document on synodality (Chapters 1 and 2) offers examples of early experiences of synodality recorded in Scripture and Tradition. The evangelist Luke, in the account of the disciples of Emmaus (Lk 24:13-35) offers a living icon of the Church as the people of God, guided along the way by the Risen Lord (No. 16). More on 'Synodality in the Life and Mission of the Church' The full text of the International Theological Commissions’ document on synodality and its role in the life of Christians today is available on the Vatican’s website. The progressive revelations provided by various moments of synodality each illustrate the co-responsibility of disciples journeying together. These can be found in Acts, the letters of St. Paul and other testimonies from early Tradition and all the way up to and including documents of the First and Second Vatican Councils. For example, Lumen Gentium radiates inspired principles of synodality: All members of the Church are to be free and active participants. Companions on the journey, according to the charism of each vocation, they are called to be in mutual service to one another while dynamically being formed into a single community as the dwelling place of God in the Spirit. In dioceses and parishes there are various permanent synodal structures to be distinguished from synodal events or synods, which have a beginning and an end. These structures include the parish pastoral council, the finance council and a diocesan pastoral council. As the Synod of Bishops gathers in Rome in October for an assembly dedicated to young people, the synod process is once again in focus in the life of the Church. And with Pope Francis’ announcement of a gathering of bishops to address abuse slated for next February, we see the synodal structure and function tackling major issues in the life of the Church. Spirited exchanges A synod or synodal event considers questions pertaining to the Church’s activity in the world and its mission to evangelize. It occurs in a particular church, diocese or region, or in the universal Church in collegial and hierarchical communion with the bishop of Rome. As part of the Body of Christ on pilgrimage with the Risen Lord, a synod calls upon the action of the Holy Spirit in discussions among those participating. While a synod involves the co-responsibility of all the participants, it is not a democracy. A bishop begins the synodal event, identifies and nurtures movements of the Holy Spirit within the discussions and discerns the path forward that springs from the Gospel of Jesus in the hearts of the participants in a particular time and place (Nos. 76-77). What happens if there is conflict among the members in the discussions? A goal of synodality is willingness to have intense public discussions, especially in areas of disagreement, and not to avoid or dominate them. The document on synodality (Nos. 20-22) offers the example of an intense disagreement that took place in the Apostolic Council of Jerusalem, described in Acts 15 and Gal 2:1-10. The question of the conflict is submitted to the whole Church of Jerusalem, which is present throughout its ...
Fri, 14 Sep 2018 07:28:00 -0400
NEW YORK (CNS) -- The daily schedule at the United Nations is jammed with substantial debates and conferences about issues of interest to the universal church. Amazingly, the Vatican's leanly staffed Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations is represented at most of them, thanks to a "force-multiplier" cadre of interns and fellows. Each year, 18 to 20 young Catholics from around the world are selected to participate in an intensive program that immerses them in the Holy See's multilateral work at the U.N. During their three-to-six-month service, participants attend U.N. meetings, file comprehensive reports for the Holy See, staff conferences run by the mission, and go to receptions and cultural events sponsored by various U.N. missions. The Vatican has been a neutral, nonvoting member of the world body since 1964. It participates in the debate of the General Assembly, makes interventions, co-sponsors draft resolutions that make reference to the Holy See and is a party to international agreements. Father Roger Landry, an attache at the mission and director of the intern program, said interns and fellows are valuable adjuncts to the permanent staff that includes Archbishop Bernardito Auza, who is the Holy See's permanent observer, as well as two diplomats and four attaches. "Their zeal and youth keep all the staff members enthusiastic for the work, even on challenging days," Father Landry told Catholic News Service. Their presence at meetings and research on issues "have impacted in a very powerful way the work we've done at the U.N.," he said. The universal church also benefits from training bright, committed young Catholics who will use their new learning to help strengthen both church and society in their home countries, he said. Interns have served at the mission for many years, but since the program was formalized and re-established in 2016, the number of applicants and their qualifications has increased significantly, Father Landry said. Most of the people who apply for one of three annual sessions are graduate students and one-third already hold an advanced degree. Interns are unpaid, but fellows receive a stipend from their universities. "They want to integrate their academic life with their life of faith. Their zeal for the types of things we are doing precedes them here," he said of the applicants. Father Landry described the successful candidates as faithful Catholics who know Catholic social teaching and see it as part of what the Vatican has to offer the international community. They are self-starting, high-level thinkers who can understand complex, nuanced issues and write clearly, he said. "We also want them to be able to work efficiently and cheerfully and not be overwhelmed by the amount of work, but integrate into it the joy of the Gospel," he told Catholic News Service. "They bring some sunshine to the work we do. We call them teammates and members of the family and they become some of our greatest advertisers and recruiters," Father Landry said. Since 2016, there have been more than 50 interns and fellows from 14 countries on six continents. During the first week of September, seven new participants completed a three-day training program at the mission and "hit the ground running," according to Father Landry. Giulia Iop, 23, an intern from Udine, Italy, has an undergraduate degree from Sciences Po in Paris, and a master's degree in comparative politics from the London School of Economics. She said she applied for the program because "I wanted to see if spirituality, my own and others', can fit into politics and political strategies. I think it's something that's missing today and could be a great help in solving current issues." Iop, who wrote her master's dissertation on extremist Buddhist organizations in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, said she hopes to see if spirituality is something that can become "entrenched in the political system." Mary Goretti Byamugisha, 32, a doctoral candidate from Uganda, ...
Wed, 12 Sep 2018 09:02:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis is calling the presidents of every Catholic bishops' conference in the world to Rome Feb. 21-24 to discuss the prevention of the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults. The Vatican made the announcement Sept. 12 after the pope and members of his international Council of Cardinals wrapped up three days of meetings. After hearing from his council, the pope "decided to convoke a meeting with the presidents of the bishops' conferences of the Catholic Church on the theme of the protection of minors," the council said in a written communique. The members present "extensively reflected together with the Holy Father on the matters of abuse" during their deliberations Sept. 10-12. Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, also updated those present with the commission's ongoing efforts. Three of the nine council members were absent for the meetings: Cardinal George Pell, 77, who currently is on trial in Australia on sex abuse charges; Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, 85, retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile, who is facing questioning over his handling of abuse allegations; and Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo, who turns 79 in early October. The six present for the September meeting were: Cardinals O'Malley, 74; Pietro Parolin, 63, Vatican secretary of state; Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, 75, of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Oswald Gracias, 73, of Mumbai, India; Reinhard Marx, 64, of Munich and Freising, Germany; and Giuseppe Bertello, 75, president of the commission governing Vatican City State. The papally appointed group of nine cardinal members, the so-called C9, has been tasked with helping advise the pope on the reform of the Vatican's organization and church governance. The council said in its communique that, concerning work on the reform of the Curia, it finished "rereading the texts already prepared (and) also called attention to the pastoral care of personnel who work there," in the Roman Curia. Paloma Garcia Ovejero, vice director of the Vatican press office, told reporters that a major part of the council's work was making final changes to the draft of the apostolic constitution that would govern the Curia. The document, provisionally titled "Praedicate Evangelium" ("Preach the Gospel"), is still set for further "stylistic editing" and canonical review, she said. Pope Francis reviewed for his considerations the finalized draft at their last meeting in June. The draft document emphasizes four points: the Curia is at the service of the pope and the local churches throughout the world; the work of the Curia must have a pastoral character; the new section in the Vatican Secretariat of State would oversee the training, assigning and ministry of Vatican nuncios and diplomats around the world; and the proclamation of the Gospel and a missionary spirit must characterize the activity of the Curia. Garcia Ovejero reiterated the council's last written statement from Sept. 10 in which the members asked Pope Francis for a reflection on "the work, structure and composition of the council itself, also taking into account the advanced age of some of its members." The six again "expressed full solidarity with Pope Francis for what has happened in the last few weeks," she said. In response to questions, she said there was no word yet on the expected release of the "possible and necessary clarifications" the council said were being formulated by the Holy See given the current debate on abuse in the church. The council will meet again Dec. 10-12.
Wed, 12 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0400
Sept. 15, 1993, was the birthday of Father Puglisi, parish priest of San Gaetano in the Brancaccio district of Palermo, Sicily. He spent that Sunday like so many others until that evening, when, under the door of his residence, he found himself face to face with the most ruthless murderer of Brancaccio. Salvatore Grigoli had committed up to that time 45 murders, including dissolving a child in an acid bath. He was there to kill Father Puglisi, shooting him in the back of his head with a pistol. The murder was ordered by the mafia boss Leoluca Bagarella, who also rebuked Brancaccio’s mafia bosses for having waited too long to kill the priest. Father Puglisi was beatified as a martyr in Palermo on May 25, 2013, two months after the election of Pope Francis. Now Francis is preparing to go to the Sicilian city on Sept. 15 to visit Puglisi’s residence and parish church on the 25th anniversary of his martyrdom. Marco Pappalardo, 42, from Catania, Sicily, is a teacher, journalist and author whose last book is titled “3P. Father Pino Puglisi, Supereroe Rompiscatole” (an Italian popular expression for “superhero troublemaker”). As shown in this interview with Our Sunday Visitor, it is impossible to talk about Father Puglisi without facing, as Pappalardo does and the pope in Palermo will too, the contentious issue of the relationship between Sicily, the Church and the mafia. Our Sunday Visitor: To summarize, who was the Blessed Father Pino Puglisi? Marco Pappalardo: A priest who gave his last breath to the young, teaching them to work for the good, not to give up, to do something to make society better. He was killed because the mafia was afraid of the change he was making with the disruptive power of the Gospel. OSV: And the mafia? Pappalardo: A criminal organization at a local, national and world level, which does all that provides power and wealth in the pockets of mafia families. ... This includes selling drugs, tightening ties with corrupt politics, exploiting ignorance and misery of the people, eliminating those who fight or betray it, controlling companies and industries, stealing the future from young people, extortion, murder and more. OSV: Father Pino Puglisi is not the only priest killed by the mafia, but he is the only one proclaimed a martyr. Why? Pappalardo: Professor Giuseppe Savagnone in my book says: “He firmly believed in the Gospel. Therefore, he was not only concerned with the rites within the walls of the temple, but he also tried to interpret life in the streets, among the people, like a great liturgy that must celebrate the Lord, [....] because man is the glory of God.” OSV: According to Church law, martyrs are killed out of hatred for their Christian faith. Does the mafia really hate the Church? Pappalardo: The religiosity of the mafia is false, made of external symbols, appearances, superstition. I do not think they hate the Church. They do not really understand it because of ignorance. But they hate those in the Church who denounce mafia actions and are committed to educating for legality. OSV: In addition to flaunting religious symbols, the “mafiosi” often has manipulated religious events such as feasts or processions. What relationship does the Church have with the mafia? Pappalardo: Let us speak not of the Church in general but of those in the Church who have had relations with the mafia, protecting it or being conniving, or remaining silent for fear even if being able to act, which is no better. The Church cannot and must not have relations with the mafia, apart from fighting it. OSV: In 2014, the pope went to another southern region, Calabria, oppressed by the mafia. When there he said “mafiosi” are excommunicated. Why do you think there was so much clamor? Pappalardo: It is a truth! Without true repentance, those who steal, kill, hate, disfigure creation, create poverty, ruin the hearts of young people cannot participate in the communion of the Church. It is the Gospel. The pope can only shout it. It ...
Wed, 12 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0400
It seems counterintuitive that Pope Francis would visit a country where at least three out of every four inhabitants are atheists and less than 1 in 100 are Catholics, as is the case in Estonia. But from Sept. 22-25, the pope is visiting the three so-called Baltic republics: Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which in the last century were part of the Soviet Union. The arrival in Estonia — which has fewer than 7,000 Catholics — is scheduled for the morning of Sept. 25, returning to Rome the same day. The last trip of a pope to Estonia dates back to 1993, with Pope St. John Paul II, when Estonia had just gained independence. Archbishop Philippe Jean-Charles Jourdan, was appointed apostolic administrator for Estonia on April 1, 2005, by John Paul II. Born 58 years ago in France, he graduated as an engineer before being ordained a priest of Opus Dei. Estonia was constituted as an apostolic administration in 1924. Then, from 1942-92, during the Soviet Rule, the see remained vacant. Archbishop Jourdan was ordained bishop on Sept. 10, 2005, but not in a Catholic church, as he shared with Our Sunday Visitor: Our Sunday Visitor: The Catholic Church in Estonia is a small community of only about 7,000. What is the meaning of a visit to such a small flock? Archbishop Philippe Jean-Charles Jourdan: Pope Francis has said that he likes to visit small countries, which have greatly suffered. Estonia is such a country, and its great sufferings, especially during the 20th century (20 percent of the population was deported) gives the visit a special meaning. Approximately half of the world’s population lives in places where Catholics make up less than 1 percent. Pope Francis has said that the Church cannot just stay in its buildings — or in its traditional heartlands — but has to reach everybody. From Estonia, Pope Francis will speak to that half of the world where Catholics are a very small minority. It is not the logic of Catholic statistics, but the logic of Pope Francis. We Catholics sometimes have the tendency to consider that the Church is mainly that half of the world where a lot of Catholics live. But it is not correct as the Church is the whole world, is universal, is “catholic” by nature. OSV: Statistics on Estonia say that the majority of its inhabitants are without religion, are self-proclaimed atheists. Why is that, and what does the pope’s visit mean to them? Archbishop Jourdan: More than atheists, the majority of people in Estonia feel themselves as without religion (75-80 percent, according to the polls), even if many acknowledge the existence of a superior force. They are like the Athenians in the time of the apostle St. Paul, worshipping the “unknown God” (Acts 17:23). The visit of Pope Francis is for many of them a moment to stop in their ordinary life and discover that “unknown God” they are looking for. Certainly 50 years of communist occupation are greatly responsible for the current situation. But in a broader way, that situation reflects the trend of Europe in the last two or three centuries to try to live as though God didn’t exist. Because if it is true that the other European countries have usually a greater proportion of people claiming to be Christians than our country, when you visit those countries, you don’t feel a much greater religiosity than in Estonia. With some exceptions, of course, like Poland. Visit Schedule 1. Saturday, Sept. 22 (Rome, Vilnius) Travel from Rome to Lithuania, meet with government leaders and visit a Marian shrine and the cathedral. 2. Sunday, Sept. 23 (Vilnius, Kaunas, Vilnius) Public Mass, Angelus, meet with bishops, priests, religious and seminarians, prayer at the monument to the victims of the Vilnius Ghetto, visit and prayer at the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights. 3. Monday, Sept. 24 (Vilnius, Riga, Vilnius) Travel to Latvia, meet with government leaders, ecumenical prayer service at Lutheran cathedral, visit to Catholic cathedral, visit to Marian shrine in Aglona, Mass outside ...
Tue, 11 Sep 2018 14:59:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will meet Sept. 13 with Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and with Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the Vatican press office announced. Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice president of the USCCB, and Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield, general secretary of the conference, also will participate in the meeting, said Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office. Cardinal DiNardo had said in a statement Aug. 16 that he was requesting a meeting at the Vatican following the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on the mishandling of hundreds of cases of sexual abuse in six dioceses and after news was released that allegations of child sexual abuse committed by Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, the former cardinal-archbishop of Washington, were found credible. The USCCB Executive Committee, Cardinal DiNardo had said, met recently and established three goals: "an investigation into the questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick; an opening of new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops; and advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints." Achieving the goals, he had said, would involve "consultation with experts, laity and clergy, as well as the Vatican. We will present this plan to the full body of bishops in our November meeting. In addition, I will travel to Rome to present these goals and criteria to the Holy See, and to urge further concrete steps based on them." "The overarching goal in all of this," he had said, "is stronger protections against predators in the church and anyone who would conceal them, protections that will hold bishops to the highest standards of transparency and accountability."
Tue, 11 Sep 2018 08:11:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Members of Pope Francis' international Council of Cardinals expressed "full solidarity" with him in the midst of questions about his handling of the clerical sexual abuse scandal and said the Vatican is planning a response to allegations made against him by a former nuncio. Only six of the nine cardinals who are members of the council participated in the meeting Sept. 10. The six "expressed full solidarity with Pope Francis in the face of what has happened in the last few weeks, aware that in the current debate the Holy See is formulating possible and necessary clarifications," according to a statement released after the first day of what was expected to be a three-day meeting. The September session of the council was the first since news broke in late June about an investigation finding credible sexual abuse allegations against then-Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, since the release in mid-August of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on how six dioceses handled abuse allegations and since the publication in late August of a document by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, former nuncio to the United States, alleging that Pope Francis knew of Cardinal McCarrick's sexual misconduct yet allowed him to continue in active ministry. Pope Francis formed the Council of Cardinals, often referred to as the C9, shortly after his election in 2013 to advise him on the reform of the Roman Curia and on church governance generally. The statement Sept. 10 said that council members asked Pope Francis for a reflection on "the work, structure and composition of the council itself, also taking into account the advanced age of some of its members." The six present for the September meeting were: Cardinals Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state; Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Sean P. O'Malley of Boston; Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India; Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany; and Giuseppe Bertello, president of the commission governing Vatican City State. The three who were absent were: 85-year-old Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile, who is facing questioning over his handling of abuse allegations; Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo, who turns 79 in early October; and 77-year-old Australian Cardinal George Pell, who currently is on trial in Australia on sex abuse charges.
Fri, 07 Sep 2018 18:20:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A top official from the Vatican Secretariat of State acknowledged allegations made by a New York priest in 2000 concerning Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, according to a letter obtained by Catholic News Service. Father Boniface Ramsey, pastor of St. Joseph's Church Yorkville in New York City, told CNS Sept. 7 that he received the letter dated Oct. 11, 2006, from then-Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, the former Vatican substitute for general affairs, asking for information regarding a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark who studied at Immaculate Conception Seminary and was being vetted for a post at a Vatican office. He made the letter available to CNS. Then-Archbishop Sandri wrote to Father Ramsey, "I ask with particular reference to the serious matters involving some of the students of the Immaculate Conception Seminary, which in November 2000 you were good enough to bring confidentially to the attention of the then Apostolic Nuncio in the United States, the late Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo." Father Ramsey had been on the faculty of the seminary from 1986 to 1996 and had sent a letter in 2000 to Archbishop Montalvo informing him of complaints he heard from seminarians studying at the seminary, located in South Orange, New Jersey. In the letter, Father Ramsey told CNS, "I complained about McCarrick's relationships with seminarians and the whole business with sleeping with seminarians and all of that; the whole business that everyone knows about," Father Ramsey said. Father Ramsey said he assumed the reason the letter from then-Archbishop Sandri, who is now a cardinal and prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, only mentioned "serious matters involving " seminarians and not Archbishop McCarrick's behavior was because accusations against the former cardinal were "too sensitive." "My letter November 22, 2000, was about McCarrick and it wasn't accusing seminarians of anything; it was accusing McCarrick." While Father Ramsey has said he never received a formal response to the letter he sent in 2000, he told CNS he was certain the letter had been received because of the note he got from then-Archbishop Sandri in 2006 acknowledging the allegations he had raised in 2000. The 2006 letter not only confirms past remarks made by Father Ramsey, but also elements of a document written by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who served as nuncio to the United States from 2011 to 2016. In an 11-page statement, published Aug. 26, Archbishop Vigano accused church officials, including Pope Francis, of failing to act on accusations of sexual abuse, as well as abuse of conscience and power by now-Archbishop McCarrick. Archbishop Vigano stated that the Vatican was informed as early as 2000 -- when he was an official at the Secretariat of State -- of allegations that Archbishop McCarrick "shared his bed with seminarians." Archbishop Vigano said the Vatican heard the allegation from the U.S. nuncios at the time: Archbishop Montalvo, who served from 1998 to 2005 and Archbishop Pietro Sambi, who served from 2005 to 2011. In late June, then-Cardinal McCarrick, the 88-year-old retired archbishop of Washington, said he would no longer exercise any public ministry "in obedience" to the Vatican after an allegation he abused a teenager 47 years ago in the Archdiocese of New York was found credible. The then-cardinal has said he is innocent. Since then, several former seminarians have claimed that the then-cardinal would invite groups of them to a beach house and insist individual members of the group share a bed with him.
Fri, 07 Sep 2018 08:22:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Turning an archaeological discovery into an appealing, informative site for tourists takes more than just digging interesting remains and ruins out of the dirt. That's why experts from the Vatican Museums and the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archaeology turned to a string of outside professionals to help spiff up a site unearthed near the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls 11 years ago. Before the remake, "it looked like a parking garage," Carolina De Camillis, an architect and lighting designer, told guests at the new unveiling in mid-July. Located underneath a bookstore and cafe next to the basilica, the 13,000-square-foot (1,200-square-meter) archaeological site was surrounded by concrete walls, polystyrene insulation ceiling panels and electrical cables draping every which way, she said. Her job, she said, was to see "what light could do to bring focus onto the site" while others worked on making the concrete surroundings less distracting. Giorgio Filippi, an archaeologist and expert in ancient inscriptions at the Vatican Museums, said the dig, which ran from 2007 to 2009, had revealed the remains of "a series of extraordinary buildings," including the only bell tower from the early medieval period remaining in Rome. They found evidence of what is most likely one of a number of houses for the poor that Pope Symmachus had built near the basilicas of St. Paul and St. Peter and the church of St. Lawrence in the sixth century as well as the marble bases of what had been columns supporting almost 2.5 miles of paved and covered walkways and porticoes to provide shade and rain protection to the throngs of pilgrims visiting the tomb of St. Paul. A large lead pipe which brought fresh water to the residence for the poor was excavated and restored showing an inscription that the plumbing pertained to the complex of "Sancti Pauli" and remains of a brick kiln are testament to the ongoing construction at the once expanding complex. The walls of an eighth-century monastery were found together with a well and a corridor that may have been the hallway of a dormitory. Right outside the monastery there had been vegetable gardens, an orchard and a small vineyard. "The new archaeological site opens a window onto the medieval period at St. Paul's and, more generally, medieval Rome," said Lucrezia Spera and Umberto Utro in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, in late June. The purpose of the buildings and how the land was used show how the early church handled and cared for the deluge of visitors and the poor who flocked to the city's Christian shrines, they said in an article appearing before the site was reopened to the public June 28 -- the eve of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. The remodeled site also reveals fresh details of the extensive and intense popular devotion to St. Paul throughout history. In ancient times, the bustling neighborhood that sprouted up around the shrine grew so crowded with buildings and shops that the sixth-century historian Procopius said marauders would find the place "difficult to attack." When the site was first opened to the public in 2013, visitors followed a narrow, elevated metal walkway through a poorly lit area. The original staging always was meant to be temporary, Utro said at the event. To revamp the site and better protect it from the elements, the museums eventually enlisted the help of architects and designers from Rome's La Sapienza University, its school of architectural heritage and the Higher Institute for Conservation and Restoration. The squeaking metal walkway was replaced with spacious wooden platforms. The white walls, ceiling and support columns were colored a dark gray, so they could let the white and light colors of the ruins pop out more, and wires and cables were encased in dark channels. The same kind of contrasting effect and "a clear sense of space" were made by covering the ground around the ruins with different colored pebbles, said Paolo ...
Tue, 04 Sep 2018 08:30:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Jesus himself showed that the best way to respond to scandal and divisiveness is to stay silent and pray, Pope Francis said Sept. 3 as he resumed his early morning Masses with invited guests. "With people lacking good will, with people who seek only scandal, with those who look only for division, who want only destruction," he said, the best response is "silence. And prayer." The pope's Mass and homily came just over a week after Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former papal nuncio to the United States, called on Pope Francis to resign for allegedly ignoring sanctions Pope Benedict XVI had placed on then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick for sexual misconduct. Asked about the archbishop's 11-page document, which included allegations of a "homosexual current" at the highest levels of the church, Pope Francis told reporters Aug. 26 to read the document for themselves and make their own judgments. The Vatican press office and most officials named in the archbishop's document also refused to comment. The Gospel for Sept. 3 recounted Jesus' return to Nazareth and the fury of the townspeople when he refused to perform miracles for them. The reading from St. Luke ends: "They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away." In his homily, Pope Francis said the reading should help Christians "reflect on how to act in daily life when there are misunderstandings," but also to understand "how the father of lies, the accuser, the devil acts to destroy the unity of a family, of a people." According to a Vatican News report on the homily, Pope Francis said that it was with his silence that Jesus defeated the "wild dogs," the devil, who "had sown lies in the hearts." "It wasn't people, it was a pack of wild dogs that chased him out of the city," the pope said. But Jesus is silent. "It is the dignity of Jesus. With his silence he defeats that wild pack and walks away because it was not yet his hour.' "This teaches us that when there is this way of acting, of not seeing the truth, silence remains," he said. Even in a family, he said, there are times when a discussion of politics or sports or money escalates into a truly destructive argument; "in these discussions in which you see the devil is there and wants to destroy -- silence. Have your say, then keep quiet." "Because the truth is meek. The truth is silent. The truth is not noisy," he said. Remaining silent and refusing to fight back is not always easy, he said, but it is what Jesus did and it is "anchored in the strength of God." "May the Lord grant us the grace to discern when we must speak and when we must remain silence," he prayed.
Wed, 29 Aug 2018 16:13:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While the faith of Catholics in Ireland is strong, the scandal of abuse and cover-up by church leaders has caused a decline in vocations to the priesthood and religious life, Pope Francis said. During his weekly general audience Aug. 29, the pope led pilgrims in praying a "Hail Mary" to Our Lady of Knock so "the Lord may send holy priests to Ireland, that he sends new vocations." "In Ireland there is faith; there are people of faith, a faith with great roots. But you know something? There are few vocations to the priesthood. Why? This faith doesn't flourish because of these problems, the scandals, many things," he said. In his audience talk, the pope reflected on his visit Aug. 25-26 to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families. The thousands of families participating from around the world, he said, were "an eloquent sign of the beauty of God's dream for the entire human family." "God's dream is unity, harmony and peace, the fruit of fidelity, forgiveness and reconciliation that he has given us in Christ," the pope said. "In the mystery of his love, he calls families to participate in this dream and make the world a home where nobody is alone, unwanted or excluded." The witness given by couples during the meeting, he continued, was a reminder that love in marriage is a gift from God that is "cultivated every day in the domestic church" and spreads "its beauty in the great community of the church and of society." "How much is the world in need of a revolution of love, of tenderness!" the pope said. "This revolution begins in the heart of the family." Pope Francis said that although there were moments of great joy during his trip, there were also moments of "pain and bitterness" caused by the suffering endured by survivors of abuse and "the fact that church leaders in the past did not always know how to adequately address these crimes." His meeting Aug. 25 with abuse survivors left "a profound mark," and he said he prayed for forgiveness "for these sins, for the scandal and the sense of betrayal" felt by survivors and members of the church. "I prayed that Our Lady would intercede for the healing of victims and give us the strength to firmly pursue truth and justice," the pope said. The Irish bishops, he said, have taken "a serious path of purification and reconciliation" with those who have suffered and have worked alongside government authorities to establish "a series of severe norms to guarantee the safety of young people." "In my meeting with the bishops, I encouraged them in their efforts to remedy the failures of the past with honesty and courage, trusting in the promises of the Lord and counting on the profound faith
Wed, 29 Aug 2018 09:45:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While recent accusations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano have created tension in the Catholic Church, Pope Francis is approaching the situation calmly, the Vatican secretary of state said. In an interview posted Aug. 30 by "Vatican Insider," the online news supplement to the Italian newspaper La Stampa, Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that in situations like the current crisis "that obviously creates so much bitterness and worry," the pope "has the ability to take a very serene approach." "From what I saw -- I haven't seen him today, but I have seen him in these days; I was with him during the trip to Ireland and after -- he seems serene," Cardinal Parolin said. In an 11-page statement, published Aug. 26, Archbishop Vigano, who served as nuncio to the United States from 2011 to 2016, accused church officials, including Pope Francis, of failing to act on accusations of abuse of conscience and power by now-Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick. Archbishop Vigano claimed he told Pope Francis about Cardinal McCarrick in 2013. Citing the rights of the faithful to "know who knew and who covered up (Archbishop McCarrick's) grave misdeeds," Archbishop Vigano also named nearly a dozen former and current Vatican officials -- including Cardinal Parolin -- who he claimed were aware of the accusations. Speaking to reporters traveling back to Rome with him from Dublin Aug. 26, Pope Francis called on them to read Archbishop Vigano's statement carefully "and make your own judgment." "I think the statement speaks for itself, and you have a sufficient journalistic ability to make a conclusion," the pope said. Cardinal Parolin said that "one can only express pain, great pain" in a situation in which a bishop makes serious accusations against the pope. "I hope that we can all work in the search for truth and justice, that those may be the points of reference and nothing more," the cardinal said. However, when asked his opinion of the veracity of Archbishop Vigano's accusations, Cardinal Parolin said he deferred to Pope Francis' response. "It is better not to enter into details on those things," Cardinal Parolin said. "I repeat what the pope said: You must read and make your own judgments; what was written speaks for itself."
Mon, 27 Aug 2018 08:21:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A former apostolic nuncio to the United States accused church officials, including Pope Francis, of failing to act on accusations of abuse of conscience and power by now-Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick. In an open letter first published by Lifesite News and National Catholic Register Aug. 26, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who served as nuncio to the United States from 2011-2016, wrote that he was compelled to write his knowledge of Archbishop McCarrick's misdeeds because "corruption has reached the very top of the church's hierarchy." Archbishop Vigano confirmed to the Washington Post Aug. 26 that he wrote the letter and said he would not comment further. Despite repeated requests from journalists, the Vatican had not responded to the allegations by midday Aug. 26. Throughout the 11-page testimony, which was translated by a Lifesite News correspondent, the former nuncio made several claims and accusations against prominent church officials, alleging they belong to "a homosexual current" that subverted church teaching on homosexuality. Citing the rights of the faithful to "know who knew and who covered up (Archbishop McCarrick's) grave misdeeds," Archbishop Vigano named nearly a dozen former and current Vatican officials who he claimed were aware of the accusations. Archbishop Vigano criticized Pope Francis for not taking action against Cardinal McCarrick after he claimed he told the pope of the allegations in 2013. However, he did not make any criticism of St. John Paul II, who appointed Archbishop McCarrick to lead the Archdiocese of Washington and made him a cardinal in 2001. According to the former nuncio's testimony, the Vatican was informed in 2000 of allegations that Archbishop McCarrick "shared his bed with seminarians" by two former U.S. nuncios -- Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo and Archbishop Pietro Sambi. This corresponds to remarks by Father Boniface Ramsey, pastor of St. Joseph's Church Yorkville in New York City, who told Catholic News Service earlier in August he had written a letter "and it didn't seem to go anywhere." Archbishop Vigano said that in 2006, as the official in the Secretariat of State that coordinated relations with nunciatures around the world, he sent two memos recommending that the Holy See "intervene as soon as possible by removing the cardinal's hat from Cardinal McCarrick and that he should be subjected to the sanctions established by the Code of Canon Law." "I was greatly dismayed at my superiors for the inconceivable absence of any measure against the cardinal, and for the continuing lack of any communication with me since my first memo in December 2006," he said. The former nuncio claimed that Pope Benedict XVI later "imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis." "I do not know when Pope Benedict took these measures against McCarrick, whether in 2009 or 2010, because in the meantime I had been transferred to the Governorate of Vatican City State, just as I do not know who was responsible for this incredible delay," he said. Then-Cardinal McCarrick, he said, "was to leave the seminary where he was living" which, at the time, was the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Washington, D.C. Archbishop McCarrick, he added, was also "forbidden to celebrate Mass in public, to participate in public meetings, to give lectures, to travel, with the obligation of dedicating himself to a life of prayer and penance." However, no such sanctions, which normally are made public, were announced by the Vatican at the time. The alleged sanctions, he said, continued to be in effect when Archbishop Vigano became apostolic nuncio to the United States in 2011 and were relayed to then-Cardinal McCarrick. "I repeated them to Cardinal McCarrick at my first meeting with him at the nunciature. The cardinal, muttering in a barely comprehensible way, admitted that he had perhaps made the mistake of sleeping in the same bed with some seminarians at his beach ...
Mon, 27 Aug 2018 08:11:00 -0400
ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM DUBLIN (CNS) -- Pope Francis said Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano's long document calling on him to resign is written in a way that people should be able to draw their own conclusions. "I read the statement this morning and, sincerely, I must say this to you and anyone interested: Read that statement attentively and make your own judgment," he told reporters Aug. 26. "I think the statement speaks for itself, and you have a sufficient journalistic ability to make a conclusion." Speaking to reporters traveling back to Rome with him from Dublin, the pope said his lack of comment was "an act of faith" in people reading the document. "Maybe when a bit of time has passed, I'll talk about it." Asked directly when he first learned of the former Cardinal McCarrick's sexual abuse, Pope Francis said the question was related directly to Archbishop Vigano's report and he would not comment now. Archbishop Vigano, the former nuncio to the United States, claimed he told Pope Francis about Cardinal McCarrick in 2013. In June, the Vatican announced that the pope had ordered the former Washington archbishop to live in "prayer and penance" while a canonical process proceeds against him. The pope later accepted Archbishop McCarrick's resignation from the College of Cardinals. The issue of clerical sexual abuse and other crimes and mistreatment of minors and vulnerable adults by Catholic priests and religious and the attempts by bishops and superiors to cover up the facts dominated the news coverage of the pope's trip to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families. The pope said his meeting Aug. 25 with survivors of abuse was "very painful," but it was very important "to listen to these people." Marie Collins, a survivor and former member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, told reporters after the meeting that she is still concerned that the pope has not established a tribunal to investigate and hold accountable bishops accused of failing to protect minors and covering up abuse. Pope Francis said while he likes and admires Collins, "she is fixated" on the accountability tribunal, and he believes he has found a more efficient and flexible way to investigate and try suspected bishops by setting up temporary tribunals when needed. The pope then went on to describe how "many bishops" had been investigated and tried, most recently Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron of Agana, Guam. In March an ad hoc apostolic tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith found him guilty of "certain accusations." Pope Francis said the archbishop has appealed the conviction and, while he has asked some canon lawyers for input, he plans to make the final judgment on the archbishop's case himself. But the archbishop was accused of sexually abusing minors; the tribunal Collins was talking about was supposed to look specifically at bishops accused of covering up cases of abuse. The pope immediately welcomed one of the suggestions made during the meeting with survivors: that he ask publicly and very specifically for forgiveness for the abuse that took place in a variety of Catholic institutions. The result was a penitential litany at the beginning of the Mass he celebrated in Dublin Aug. 26 to close the World Meeting of the Families. Pope Francis said the survivors' meeting was the first time he had heard details about the church-run homes for women who were pregnant out of wedlock. Many of the women were forced to give their babies up for adoption and were even told that it would be a "mortal sin" to go looking for their children. The now-notorious St. Mary's home for unmarried mothers and their children in Tuam was a specific case brought to the pope's attention personally by Katherine Zappone, Irish minister for children and youth affairs. Pope Francis told reporters that Zappone had given him a memo about a "mass grave" found on the site of one of the homes and "it appears that the church was involved." In May 2014 ...
Mon, 27 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0400
In a scathing 11-page written statement, the Vatican’s former ambassador to the United States accuses Pope Francis of ignoring concerns about Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and lifting sanctions against the former cardinal years before the public became aware of abuse allegations against him. Without offering any corroborating documentation, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò alleges that Pope Benedict XVI, sometime in 2009 or 2010, banned the former U.S. cardinal from publicly celebrating Mass, living in a seminary or traveling to give lectures, and ordered him to a life of prayer and penance. Archbishop Viganò, 77, a vocal critic of Pope Francis and a controversial figure in Vatican politics, said he learned about those sanctions from the former prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and that he personally informed Pope Francis about them in June 2013. He said the pope failed to act. He said he knew “He knew from at least June 23, 2013, that McCarrick was a serial predator,” writes Archbishop Viganò, who also called on Pope Francis to “set a good example” and resign along with the cardinals and bishops who the archbishop said covered up Archbishop McCarrick’s alleged abuse. In a statement emailed to Our Sunday Visitor, Washington D.C. attorney Barry Coburn, who represents Archbishop McCarrick, declined to directly address the allegations raised in Archbishop Viganò’s letter. “These are serious allegations,” Coburn said. “Archbishop McCarrick, like any other person, has a right to due process. He looks forward to invoking that right at the appropriate time.” Archbishop Viganò’s letter, which was first reported Saturday, was released while Pope Francis visited Ireland, which has also been rocked with its own abuse crisis. On Saturday, the pope addressed the crisis during a Mass at Phoenix Park in Dublin. “Some members of the hierarchy didn’t own up to these painful situations and kept silence. We ask for forgiveness,” Pope Francis said. Speaking aboard the papal plane from Dublin to Rome on Aug. 26, Pope Francis declined to address the former nuncio’s claims. The pontiff said people can make up their own minds about the statement. “I read the statement this morning, and I must tell you sincerely that, I must say this, to you and all those who are interested: Read the statement carefully and make your own judgment,” Pope Francis said, adding that the statement “speaks for itself.” A difficult time In the United States, the archbishop’s statement provided another flashpoint in the clergy abuse scandals that have engulfed the American Catholic community since revelations came to light that Archbishop McCarrick, the former cardinal-archbishop of Washington D.C., is alleged to have sexually abused seminarians and minors. The statement also created new scrutiny for Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the current archbishop of Washington D.C., who is already dealing with the fallout from the Pennsylvania grand jury report this month that raised questions regarding how he handled clergy sex abuse cases during his tenure as bishop of Pittsburgh. In his statement, Archbishop Viganò said he mentioned the reported sanctions against former Archbishop McCarrick to Cardinal Wuerl, and that based on the cardinal’s response, “it was immediately clear to me that he was fully aware of it.” Chieko Noguchi, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Washington D.C., provided a statement to OSV disputing the archbishop’s claims. “In spite of what Archbishop Viganò’s memo indicates, Cardinal Wuerl did not receive any documentation or information during his time in Washington regarding any actions taken against Archbishop McCarrick,” Noguchi said. The claims made in the 7,000-word statement — which Archbishop Viganò called his “testimony” — angered many longtime critics of Pope Francis, some of whom took to social media over the weekend to demand accountability and the pope’s resignation. The pope’s defenders cast doubts on the statement and cited a 2014 memo that ...
Tue, 21 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will meet survivors of sexual abuse during his trip to Ireland Aug. 25-26, but it will be up to the survivors to decide whether any information about the meeting will be released, said the director of the Vatican press office. Greg Burke, press director, told reporters Aug. 21 that from the moment the Vatican decided the World Meeting of Families 2018 would be in Dublin, it was clear that the pope would have to acknowledge the crimes committed against thousands of Irish Catholics by priests in parishes and by priests, religious brothers and nuns in schools, orphanages and other institutions. The date, time and location of the meeting and the list of survivors invited will not be released until after the meeting, and then only with the permission of the survivors taking part, Burke said. Pope Francis wants the trip to focus on families, Burke said, which is why he is not going to Northern Ireland on the same visit. Even the moments dictated by protocol -- for example, meetings with government officials -- will focus on the family, he said. Asked whether the pope and the Vatican were concerned that with renewed media attention on clerical sexual abuse the theme would overshadow the pope's focus on the family, Burke responded, "Any trip to Ireland was not only going to be about the family." "The pope is well rested and ready and wants to talk about the family," Burke said. However, in discussing the individual events on the pope's schedule in Ireland, the spokesman also mentioned that Aug. 25 Pope Francis would begin his visit to Dublin's co-cathedral by praying silently before a candle in the Blessed Sacrament chapel that burns for the abuse survivors. Without providing details, Burke also said the pope would talk about abuse in at least one of his speeches during the trip