Mon, 16 Jul 2018 09:12:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- All Christians are called to be missionaries, concerned more with sharing the Gospel than with earning money or even with being successful at winning converts, Pope Francis said. "A baptized person who does not feel the need to proclaim the Gospel, to announce Christ, is not a good Christian," the pope said July 15 before reciting the Angelus prayer with an estimated 15,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square. Pope Francis was commenting on the day's Gospel reading, which told about how Jesus sent the disciples out two-by-two to preach and to heal in his name. "It was a kind of apprenticeship for what they would be called to do with the power of the Holy Spirit after the resurrection of the Lord," the pope explained. Speaking only in the name of Jesus, he said, "the apostles had nothing of their own to proclaim and none of their own abilities to demonstrate, but they spoke and acted as emissaries, as messengers of Jesus." "This Gospel episode concerns us, too, and not only priests, but all the baptized, who are called to witness to the Gospel of Christ in all the situations of life," the pope said. Christians fulfill their mission, he said, when their proclamation is motivated only by love for and obedience to Christ and when the only message they share is Christ's. In the reading from St. Mark's Gospel, Jesus tells his disciples "to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick -- no food, no sack, no money in their belts." The poverty and simplicity of lifestyle Jesus asks for, the pope said, were meant to make the disciples of yesterday and today "free and light." Jesus, he said, calls his disciples to set out as "messengers of the kingdom of God, not powerful managers, not unmovable functionaries (and) not stars on tour." Although all the baptized are sent out on mission by Christ, they go with no guarantee of success, the pope said. "This, too, is poverty: the experience of failure." Pope Francis prayed that Mary, "the first disciple and missionary of the word of God, would help us bear the message of the Gospel in the world with a humble and radiant exultation that goes beyond every refusal, misunderstanding or tribulation."
Fri, 13 Jul 2018 11:09:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Documents in the Vatican Secret Archives and the archives of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith prove it was a "myth" that Blessed Paul VI largely set out on his own in writing "Humanae Vitae," the 1968 encyclical on married love and the regulation of births. In anticipation of the encyclical's 50th anniversary, Pope Francis gave special access to the archives to Msgr. Gilfredo Marengo, a professor at Rome's Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences. The results of his research were published in Italian in early July in the book, "The Birth of an Encyclical: 'Humanae Vitae' in the Light of the Vatican Archives." In a note to reporters, Msgr. Marengo said his research revealed four little-known facts: Pope Paul approved an encyclical, "De Nascendae Prolis" ("On a Child's Birth"), in early May 1968, but was convinced by translators in the Vatican Secretariat of State that it still needed work; a new draft was corrected by hand by Pope Paul; on several occasions the future St. John Paul II sent suggestions, including an extensive treatment of the theme, but there is no evidence that they were used heavily in the final document; and Pope Paul asked the 199 bishops at the 1967 world Synod of Bishops to send him reflections on the theme of the regulation of births. Msgr. Marengo said the request to the synod members was a surprise. It is not included in any report about the synod itself. "The news about the desire of the pope to consult all the members of the synodal assembly is very important," he said, "because one of the accusations repeated most often after the publication of 'Humanae Vitae' was that the pope decided to act alone, in a manner that was not collegial." The pope received only 25 responses in the period between Oct. 9, 1967, and May 31, 1968, Msgr. Marengo said. And, perhaps more surprising, of those, only seven bishops asked Pope Paul to repeat the Catholic Church's teaching against the use of contraceptives. The other responses -- including a joint U.S. response from Cardinal Lawrence Shehan of Baltimore, Cardinal John Krol of Philadelphia, Archbishop John Dearden of Detroit and Bishop John Wright of Pittsburgh -- exhibited an openness to the use of artificial birth control in some circumstances, however "none of them would say that using the pill is a good thing," Msgr. Marengo told Catholic News Service. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen of Rochester, New York, and Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Krakow, Poland -- the future Pope John Paul II -- were among the seven bishops urging a reaffirmation of church teaching that using contraceptives was wrong. "The pope never thought of proceeding alone, putting the collegial profile of the Petrine ministry in parentheses," Msgr. Marengo wrote. But consultation is not the same thing as taking a vote. And bishops were not the only ones asked for their input. Long before the synod, and before Pope Paul was elected to lead the church, St. John XXIII had appointed a small committee to study the issue of the regulation of birth. Pope Paul expanded the commission, which included several married couples. The commission's work ended in 1966 with the leaking of a report by the majority of members asserting artificial contraception was not intrinsically evil; minority reports, insisting contraception was morally wrong, were leaked in response. After reading the commission reports and the bishops' input, Msgr. Marengo wrote, Pope Paul "found himself in a situation that was not easy. His judgment had matured, and he felt obliged in conscience to express it in virtue of his apostolic ministry, knowing well that going in that direction would place him at a predictable and painful distance from sectors of the church community that were not marginal." In fact, less than a week after the encyclical was published, Pope Paul held a general audience and spoke about just how weighty the decision was. "Never before have we felt so ...
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 15:54:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis attended the funeral Mass and presided over the final commendation of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the French cardinal who led the Vatican's outreach to other religions and who had announced to the world his election as pope five years ago. Seated to the right of the closed casket with his head bowed in solemn prayer, the pope attended the entire ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica July 12. Typically, the pope arrives at the end of a cardinal's funeral Mass to officiate over the rites of final commendation. Pope Francis gave the final blessing, sprinkling with holy water and incensing Cardinal Tauran's casket, upon which was laid an open book of the Gospels. Members of the College of Cardinals, the diplomatic corps, Vatican officials, dignitaries and guests, including those of other faiths, gathered for the funeral of the late cardinal, who had spent more than 10 years as president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and decades in the Vatican's diplomatic service. Members of the Sikh and Muslim communities, along with other mourners, paid their respects before the cardinal's casket at the end of the service. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals and former Vatican Secretary of State, celebrated the funeral Mass. In his homily, he said he personally witnessed Cardinal Tauran's "great apostolic spirit" after working with him for so many years. The French cardinal courageously served the church, particularly through his illness, Cardinal Sodano said, and he was a living example of the beatitudes. The poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, "they are the beatitudes that will always shine on the life of our dear deceased brother like bright stars along his journey," he said. He said Cardinal Tauran also followed the path laid out by the Second Vatican Council in "Guadium et Spes," which says that with God as the father of all of humanity, everyone is called to be brothers and sisters; therefore, "we can and we should work together without violence and deceit in order to build up the world in genuine peace." Cardinal Tauran, who had been living with Parkinson's disease, died July 5 at the age of 75 in Hartford, Connecticut, where he had been receiving medical treatment. In a telegram to the cardinal's sister, who also attended the funeral Mass at the Vatican, Pope Francis had praised the cardinal's "sense of service and his love for the church." Cardinal Tauran left a deep and lasting mark on the church, the pope said in the telegram July 5, noting the great trust and esteem in which he was held, particularly by Muslims. "I have fond memories of this man of profound faith who courageously served the church of Christ to the end, despite the weight of disease," he wrote. An experienced diplomat and esteemed leader of the Vatican's interreligious efforts, the cardinal had grabbed the world spotlight for his other role as the top-ranking cardinal deacon in 2013, appearing at the basilica balcony to announce to the world, "Habemus papam," "We have a pope." His death left the College of Cardinals with 225 members, 124 of whom are under 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave. He was to be buried in his titular church in Rome, the Basilica of St. Apollinare alle Terme Neroniane-Alessandrine.
Wed, 11 Jul 2018 10:34:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican is helping organize an international conference meant to help dioceses work with their local communities in finding appropriate uses for decommissioned churches. The Pontifical Council for Culture, together with Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University and the Italian bishops' conference, will sponsor the gathering, titled "Doesn't God Dwell Here Anymore? Decommissioning Places of Worship and Integrated Management of Ecclesiastical Cultural Heritage," Nov. 29-30 in Rome. In the run-up to the conference, the public is invited to photograph and post on Instagram examples of deconsecrated churches being reused in a positive way, since examples of churches turned into night clubs and gyms garner the bulk of media attention. The photographs, to be tagged with #NoLongerChurches, #unigre and a hashtag of the name of the church and city, are meant to showcase positive ways the historical, social, artistic and sacred significance of such buildings can be maintained or highlighted. Photographs must be posted between July 10 and Oct. 15, and selected winners will have their images displayed at the international conference and published on the sponsors' websites and in Italian magazines dedicated to Christian art, the church and architecture. Researchers and academic institutes also are being invited to submit posters and papers on completed studies or projects underway dealing with the revitalization or repurposing of deconsecrated or underutilized places of worship. The results of the Instagram contest and call for papers will be used to inform and help bishops as they consider what to do with closed parishes. Representatives from bishops' conferences in Europe, North America and Oceania are invited to attend the conference to discuss and approve guidelines addressing the reuse of deconsecrated church properties. Whether or when a church should be deconsecrated or sold will not be the focus of the conference and its resulting guidelines; its purpose is to show the need for a long-term planning process that involves the whole community and aims for reaching an understanding about how such structures should be reutilized or rebuilt. Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Vatican's culture council, told reporters July 10 that former places of worship must retain some spiritual, social or culture value within the community and that every possible effort must be made to safeguard the church's patrimony, for example, by transferring mobile assets to diocesan museums. Current criteria for guiding this process, he said, "are too generic." While European churches built during the Renaissance, Baroque or other periods may have great artistic value, it must not be forgotten that a simple brick or wooden church in North America also carries important "spiritual value," said Richard Rouse, an official at the Pontifical Council for Culture. "They may not have Michelangelo's frescoes decorating the interior, but so many of these places of worship were built thanks to the donations, support and hard work of generations of families, and for some members of the local community, they would still have strong emotional significance," he told Catholic News Service July 11. The conference "will seek to demonstrate that the cultural patrimony of the church, built up with faith and charity over time, is still able to transmit Christian culture if it is properly enhanced and not seen as a burden to maintain," the organizers said in a press release. Success, the statement said, will depend on involving the church community in appreciating and managing their patrimony and on the formation of skilled architects, builders and planners who are "culturally motivated."
Wed, 11 Jul 2018 00:00:00 -0400
As we make our way through life as Christians, some signposts are clearer than others. Out of love for God and neighbor we will not kill, steal or commit adultery. Other signposts are harder to see. But they can become clearer over time when the results of ignoring them are writ large. When the birth control pill was developed in the 1960s, many people thought it would bring great benefits. Contraception would free women from fear of pregnancy, allowing men and women to love each other fully and have children only when ready. Abortion, child abuse and out-of-wedlock births would be reduced or eliminated. When Blessed Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical Humanae Vitae in 1968, he saw a different future. He thought readily available contraception would weaken, not strengthen, fidelity in marriage. He feared it would liberate not authentic love but rather a selfish desire allowing men to treat women as sex objects. Governments would promote birth control, intervening in what should be a private decision for couples. Many Catholics were skeptical of these predictions and disappointed in the encyclical. After 50 years, we can take a new look. The problems contraception was thought to solve are worse. We see more infidelity, divorce and sexual harassment and abuse of women. Governments have vast programs for population control, not all of them voluntary. It’s natural to ask: Why did Paul VI see the future more clearly than his critics? With the aid of our Christian tradition, did he see more deeply into the truth about marriage and sexuality? Shutterstock A deeper vision Here’s a strange fact. Every other system of the body — breathing, circulation, digestion and so on — is designed for our own survival and development. The sexual aspect of our bodies — which even Planned Parenthood calls “the reproductive system” — is different. It is for going out of ourselves, for uniting with another person and ensuring the survival and development of someone else who will need our unconditional love to thrive. And because we like to think of ourselves first, it is the only bodily system that modern medicine turns against. We are sold drugs, devices and surgeries — even those with bad effects on our overall health — to make this one healthy system stop working. Our Catholic faith adds its own insight. Our bodies are “temple[s] of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor 6:19), as are the bodies of any children we conceive. When a man and a woman give themselves to each other in committed love, their bond is a sacrament, a symbol of Christ’s union with his Church. And when their love conceives a child, they cooperate with God to create a human person, body and soul, with his or her own innate dignity and eternal destiny. This power to be “co-creators” with God deserves our respect. Paul VI sought to defend these two gifts from God, the “unitive” and “procreative” meanings of sexuality. Marital love is about bonding with each other forever and being open to a child who may result from that union. To quote Pope St. John Paul II, they are both ways in which “life attains its fullness in the sincere gift of self” ( Evangelium Vitae , No. 86). These two meanings imply and support each other. Marital commitment must be permanent so children can be sure of both parents’ love and support throughout childhood. And openness to having a child with each other makes married love deeper and richer. The love both parents have for a child arising from their love for each other is unique. In the Middle Ages, theologian Richard of St. Victor compared it to the love among the persons of the Holy Trinity, coining a new word for it: condilectio, or co-loving. Therefore when we “free” sexual love from openness to life, we do not set free the love between man and woman — we make it a less complete gift of self. What is set free from fully authentic love is a more selfish desire, with the consequences we have seen over half a century. It was to preserve the fullness of marital love that ...
Mon, 09 Jul 2018 11:20:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As war continues to threaten the land of Jesus' birth and to undermine the existence of Christian communities there, the international community must learn from the errors of the past and do more to bring lasting peace to the Middle East, Pope Francis said. "Do not forget the previous century; do not forget the lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; do not let the land of the East, where the Word of peace arose, be transformed into a dark expanse of silence," the pope said after a private meeting with the heads of Christian churches and communities in the Middle East. Pope Francis traveled July 7 to the southern Italian Adriatic port city of Bari to host a day of reflection and ecumenical prayer for peace in the Middle East. Arriving by helicopter in the early morning, the pope stood in front of the Basilica of St. Nicholas and greeted the patriarchs and other representatives of Christian churches. Among them was Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria and Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and all Africa. Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of external relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, represented Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. Flanked by the church leaders, the pope entered the basilica and walked down to the crypt, where he bowed deeply before the relics of St. Nicholas, who is venerated by both Catholics and Orthodox. After remaining several minutes in prayer and lighting a candle on the altar, the pope and church leaders boarded a bus that took them to the seaside site of the ecumenical prayer service. Thousands of men, women and children cheered and waved as the group made its way to the stage overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Behind the pope's chair was a large statue of Christ crucified with the words "May peace be upon you" etched above it. The pope began the service by welcoming the patriarchs and Christian leaders and thanking them for joining him in prayer for the Middle East, which he described as a source of "ever fresh streams of spirituality and monasticism." However, he added, the light of the region has been dimmed by the "dark clouds of war, violence and destruction," which threaten to cast out Christians "amid the complicit silence of many." "There is also the danger that the presence of our brothers and sisters in the faith will disappear, disfiguring the very face of the region. For a Middle East without Christians would not be the Middle East," the pope said. While asking "the Lord of heaven for that peace which the powerful of our world have not yet been able to find," the pope also prayed for peace in Jerusalem, "the holy city beloved of God and wounded by men for which the Lord continues to weep." After the prayer service, the pope and the Christian leaders returned to the basilica for a private meeting that lasted over two hours. In a speech delivered to the faithful outside the basilica, the pope said members of the group were encouraged by their dialogue, which "was a sign that encounter and unity are always found without fear of differences." Peace, he said, can only be cultivated and nurtured through listening and engaging in dialogue and not by "truces guaranteed by walls and tests of strength." Pope Francis denounced arms dealers who have taken advantage of the conflicts by selling weaponry and called for an end to the "personal profit of a few on the skin of many." "Enough with the occupation of lands that tear people apart. Enough with the prevalence of half-truths over people's hopes. Enough with using the Middle East for profits that are foreign to the Middle East," he said. Before ending the meeting with the release of two white doves, Pope Francis once again called for peace in Jerusalem whose "status quo demands to be respected." The Vatican supports a "two-state solution" for the Holy Land with independence, recognition and secure borders for both Israel and ...
Fri, 06 Jul 2018 15:05:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis issued decrees advancing the sainthood causes of four candidates, including two young teenagers who heroically lived the Christian virtues. At a meeting July 5 with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, the pope signed a decree recognizing the heroic virtues of Alexia Gonzalez Barros, who offered her sufferings from a malignant tumor for the church. Gonzalez was born in Madrid in 1971. Her parents were members of Opus Dei and passed on their faith to their five children. She made her first Communion in Rome and the following day attended the weekly general audience May 9, 1979. She ran up to St. John Paul II as he greeted pilgrims and received a blessing and a kiss from the pope. Several years later, her life dramatically changed when doctors discovered a tumor that gradually paralyzed her. Throughout her illness, she offered her sufferings for the church and the pope and would often pray, "Jesus, I want to feel better, I want to be healed; but if you do not want that, I want what you want." She died Dec. 5, 1985, at the age of 14. Pope Francis also recognized the heroic virtues of Carlo Acutis, a young teen who used his computer skills to catalogue eucharistic miracles around the world before his death at the age of 15 due to leukemia. According to the website of his canonization process, Acutis placed the Eucharist "at the center of his life and called it 'my highway to heaven.'" Before his death in 2006, Acutis offered his sufferings for Pope Benedict XVI and for the church. The other decrees signed by the pope recognized the heroic virtues of: -- Pietro Di Vitale, an Italian layman and a member of the Third Order of St. Francis. He was born in Sicily in 1916 and died in 1940. -- Giorgio La Pira, the former mayor of Florence and a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic. He was an advocate for peace during the Cold War and despite his stature in the international community, he lived in a small cell in the Basilica of St. Mark in Florence. He died in 1977. Recognizing the heroic virtues of a person is one of the first formal steps toward canonization, or sainthood. In most cases, a miracle attributed to that person's intercession is needed for beatification, the next step toward sainthood.
Fri, 06 Jul 2018 09:08:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, an experienced diplomat and head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, died at the age of 75 in Hartford, Connecticut, where he was receiving medical treatment. The cardinal, who had been living with Parkinson's disease, led a Vatican delegation to Saudi Arabia in April. But it was his role as "proto-deacon" or top-ranking cardinal deacon in 2013, that put him more squarely in the spotlight, appearing at the basilica balcony to announce to the world, "Habemus papam," "We have a pope." In a telegram to the cardinal's sister, Pope Francis extended his condolences and praised the cardinal's "sense of service and his love for the church." Cardinal Tauran left a deep and lasting mark on the church, the pope said, noting the great trust and esteem in which he was held, particularly by Muslims. "I have fond memories of this man of profound faith who courageously served the church of Christ to the end, despite the weight of disease," he wrote. Born in Bordeaux, France, April 5, 1943, the cardinal was ordained to the priesthood in 1969 and entered the Vatican's diplomatic service in 1975. He worked in apostolic nunciatures in the Dominican Republic and Lebanon from 1975 to 1983. He was a representative to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe from 1983 to 1988, pressing the Vatican's position on human rights at a time when the Soviet-bloc regimes of Eastern Europe were weakening. He was called to work in the Secretariat of State, first named undersecretary for relations with states in 1988, then secretary of the department in 1990. For the next 13 years, he was St. John Paul II's "foreign minister," the official who dealt with all aspects of the Vatican's foreign policy. Most of his work has been behind the scenes, with daily unpublicized meetings with diplomats accredited to the Holy See and with visiting dignitaries. But sometimes he was called upon to express Vatican positions more openly -- on war and peace, on the Holy Land or on the rights of minority Catholic communities. St. John Paul ordained him an archbishop in January 1991 and elevated him to the College of Cardinals in 2003, soon after making him head of the Vatican Library and the Vatican Secret Archives. In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI then named him president of Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the office overseeing the Vatican's dialogue efforts with representatives of other faiths, including Islam. The pope had placed the interreligious council under the wing of the Pontifical Council for Culture in 2006 but, with Cardinal Tauran's appointment, he returned the office to its previous autonomy and high profile. Addressing a conference on Muslim-Christian dialogue in Qatar in 2004, Cardinal Tauran told participants that political leaders have nothing to fear from true religious believers. "Believers who are recognized and respected for who they are will be more inclined to work together for a society of which they are full members," he said. He once told diplomats that the reason then-Pope John Paul made so many pronouncements against world conflicts and wars was not in an attempt to get involved in politics, "but to show men and women the correct path, to revive their consciences, to highlight rights and the commitments made to them, and to repeat with new words the Gospel beatitude: 'Blessed are the peacemakers.'" His death leaves the College of Cardinals with 225 members, 124 of whom are under 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave.
Thu, 05 Jul 2018 14:37:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Twenty-five years after St. John Paul II visited Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, Pope Francis will make the same three-nation visit Sept. 22-25, stopping at a number of the same places as his saint-predecessor. The four-day trip will take the pope to two important Marian shrines, two major ecumenical encounters and places that commemorate each nation's fight for freedom from oppression. Abortion and the disintegration of families have been serious challenges for the church and society in these three former Soviet republics, according to past reports from bishops during their visits Rome. Pope Benedict XVI had noted the problem of "scant attention paid to the transmission of authentic values to one's children, the precariousness of jobs" and mobility that breaks up extended family networks. "A modernity that is not rooted in authentic human values is destined to be dominated by the tyranny of instability" and a widespread sense of being lost, he told bishops from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in 2008. In a 2015 meeting with bishops from Latvia and Estonia, Pope Francis also addressed the need to adequately transmit church teaching on marriage and family life. The pope told the bishops in a written address that God had chosen them to "work in a society that, after having long been oppressed by regimes founded on ideologies contrary to human dignity and freedom, today is called to face other insidious dangers, such as secularism and relativism." It will be Pope Francis' 24th trip abroad and bring the total number of countries he has visited outside of Italy since his election to 38 nations. The Vatican released the following schedule July 5 with many of the times still yet to be announced. Times listed are local, with Eastern Daylight Time in parentheses. Saturday, Sept. 22 (Rome, Vilnius) -- 7:30 a.m. (1:30 a.m.) Departure from Rome's Fiumicino airport for Vilnius, Lithuania. -- 11:30 a.m. (4:30 a.m.) Arrival at Vilnius' international airport. -- Welcoming ceremony at the airport. -- Courtesy visit with the president at the presidential palace. -- Meeting with government authorities, local leaders and representatives of the diplomatic corps at the presidential palace. Speech by pope. -- 4:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m.) Visit the image of Mother of Mercy (Mater Misericordiae) at the Chapel of the Gate of Dawn. Prayer by pope. -- Meeting with young people in the square by the city's cathedral. Speech by pope. -- Visit the city's cathedral. Sunday, Sept. 23 (Vilnius, Kaunas, Vilnius) -- 8:15 a.m. (1:15 a.m.) Transfer from Vilnius to Kaunas by car. -- Mass at the Kaunas' Santakos park. Homily by pope. -- Angelus prayer at Santakos park. Angelus by pope. -- Lunch with the bishops at the curial house. -- Meeting with priests, men and women religious and seminarians in the Kaunas cathedral. Speech by pope. -- Transfer by car to Vilnius. -- Visit and prayer at the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights. Prayer by pope. Monday, Sept. 24 (Vilnius, Riga, Vilnius) -- 7:20 a.m. (12:20 a.m.) Departure by airplane from Vilnius' international airport to international airport of Riga, Latvia. -- 8:20 a.m. (1:20 a.m.) Arrival at the international airport of Riga, Latvia. -- Official welcome at the airport. -- Welcoming ceremony in the courtyard of the presidential palace. -- Courtesy visit with the president in the presidential palace. -- Meeting with government authorities, local leaders and representatives of the diplomatic corps at the presidential palace. Speech by pope. -- Ceremony and placement of flowers at the Freedom Monument. -- Ecumenical encounter at Riga's Lutheran cathedral. Speech by pope. -- Visit to the Catholic cathedral of St. James. Greeting by pope. -- Lunch with the bishops at the archdiocesan house of the Holy Family. -- Transfer by helicopter from Riga's harbor helipad to the Marian sanctuary of Aglona. -- Mass near the sanctuary. Homily by pope. -- Farewell ceremony at the heliport of Aglona. -- Transfer by ...
Thu, 05 Jul 2018 12:54:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican has released a document that establishes norms and principles for women who dedicate their lives as consecrated virgins and their place in the life of the church. Presenting the new document at the Vatican press office July 4, Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, said it is the "first document of the Holy See that delves into the character and discipline of this way of life." "The instruction on the 'Ordo virginum' ('Order of Virgins') intends to respond to the requests that numerous bishops and consecrated virgins in these years have presented to the congregation for consecrated life regarding the vocation and witness of the order of virgins, its presence in the universal church and, particularly, its formation and vocational discernment," Cardinal Braz de Aviz said. Consecrated by her local bishop, a member of the order of virgins makes a promise of perpetual virginity, prayer and service to the church while living independently in society. The publishing of the document, "Ecclesiae Sponsae Imago" ("The Image of the Church as Bride") comes two years ahead of the 50th anniversary of the promulgation of the renewed "Ritual for the Consecration of Virgins,'' an ancient rite in the church that fell into disuse in the years before the Second Vatican Council. Divided into three parts, the document's first section highlights the biblical origins and characteristics of the order of virgins, in which women "with spousal love are dedicated to the Lord Jesus in virginity." "Since this form of consecrated life was reintroduced in the church, there has been a real revival of the 'Ordo virginum,' whose vitality is evident in the rich variety of personal charisms placed at the service of the church's development and of the renewal of society in the spirit of the Gospel," the document stated. Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, secretary of the congregation, told journalists that through prayer penance and works of mercy, women in the order of virgins "take the Gospel as the fundamental rule of life." "The unique element of the 'Ordo virginum,' which distinguishes itself from the Institutes of Consecrated Life, is that the charism of virginity is harmonized with the charism of each consecrated woman, making room for a great variety of responses to vocations, in a creative freedom that demands a sense of responsibility and the exercise of a serious spiritual discernment," Archbishop Rodriguez said. The document's second section, he added, deals with the pastoral duties of bishops in fostering and nurturing the vocation of consecrated virgins as well as their role within the diocese. While rooted in their diocese, consecrated virgins are not confined to it and instead "are opened to the horizons of the universal mission of the church" in other dioceses, bishops' conferences and the universal church," Archbishop Carballo said. Finally, the third section of "Ecclesia Sponsae Imago" details the discernment and formation of women who choose the life of consecrated virgins. Bishops, the archbishop said, must ensure that their dioceses have the available resources to help women discern their calling that "deepens the understanding of the ecclesial value of this consecration." "Reproposing this way of life in the church may seem as an anachronism, but it is an act of trust in the action of the spirit, who is leading many women to accept and interpret this vocation in the light of the path fulfilled by the church over the centuries and according to the needs of the current historical context. It is a true path of sanctification that is fascinating and demanding," Archbishop Carballo said.
Thu, 05 Jul 2018 10:13:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has named a lay Italian journalist with decades of experience in print, radio and television broadcasting to head the Vatican's Secretariat for Communication. Paolo Ruffini, 61, who headed the Italian conference of Catholic bishops' TV and radio network, was named prefect of the dicastery July 5, making him the first layperson to head such a high-level Vatican dicastery. He succeeds Italian Msgr. Dario Vigano, who resigned as prefect in March after a controversy involving the use and photographing of a letter from retired Pope Benedict XVI. Born in Palermo in 1959, Ruffini received a degree in law at Rome's La Sapienza University. He worked for a number of major Italian newspapers beginning in 1979, then began working for radio news programs in 1996. He started working in television news in 2002. He served as the head of the Italian Conference of Catholic Bishops' television and radio stations -- TV2000 and Radio InBlu, from 2014 to 2018. He has received numerous awards for journalism, according to a Vatican press release. Pope Francis created the Secretariat for Communication in 2015 to streamline and coordinate the Vatican's many news and communications outlets and make them more effective. The Vatican has since changed its name to Dicastery for Communication. The development of digital media, with its converging technologies and interactive capabilities, required "a rethinking of the information system of the Holy See" and a reorganization that proceeded "decisively toward integration and a unified management," the pope wrote in the letter establishing the new dicastery.
Tue, 03 Jul 2018 14:46:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis' visit to the southern Italian Adriatic port city of Bari will be an occasion to once again affirm the church's closeness with persecuted Christians in the Middle East, Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch said. As the birthplace of Christianity, the Middle East plays a special role in promoting a path toward unity, the cardinal said. "The Middle East, which is a martyred region, is a place where ecumenical relations are strongest and most promising, particularly between Orthodox and Catholics," said Cardinal Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Cardinal Koch, along with Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect for the Congregation for Eastern Churches, updated journalists July 3 on the pope's trip to Bari, where he will host a day of reflection and ecumenical prayer for peace in the Middle East. The Vatican confirmed that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria and Greek Orthodox Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria and all Africa, will be present at the service. Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of external relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, also will be present on behalf of Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. Pope Francis will meet with the patriarchs and representatives of the Eastern Churches and pray before the relics of St. Nicholas, who is venerated by both Catholics and Orthodox. They will then travel by bus to the site of the ecumenical prayer service and afterward return to the Basilica of St. Nicholas, where the pope will meet privately with the patriarchs for more than two hours. During his Sunday Angelus address July 1, Pope Francis called on the faithful to join him and the patriarchs "in prayer on this pilgrimage of peace and unity" for the Middle East. "We will live a day of prayer and reflection on the always tragic situation of that region where so many of our brothers and sisters in the faith continue to suffer and we will implore in one voice: 'Peace be upon you!'" the pope said. Cardinal Koch said the persecution and suffering of Christians in the Middle East is an "ecumenical incentive" for Christians around the world. Christian leaders, he said, must work together to avoid a scenario of "a Middle East without Christians; not for religious reasons but also for political and social reasons, because Christians are an essential element of balance in the region."
Mon, 02 Jul 2018 13:03:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A new document driven by a fresh approach taken by the official Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue commission reflects a major development in ecumenism where difference is not cause for suspicion or reproach, but is used as an enriching opportunity for mutual listening, learning and conversion. This notable change is seen in the first agreed statement from the newest and third phase of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, known as ARCIC III. The statement, "Walking Together on the Way: Learning to Be the Church -- Local, Regional, Universal," was released to the public July 2 after seven years of joint meetings and consultations. In their introduction, the Catholic co-chairman, Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, England, and the Anglican co-chairman, Anglican Archbishop David Moxon, the archbishop of Canterbury's representative in Rome, wrote that the document sought to develop the issues of authority and ecclesial communion "in a new way." Understanding how the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion structure authority and exercise authority in communion on the local, regional and global levels are key for understanding how each body discerns its teaching and practices on critical issues in ethics and moral theology. It is also key for understanding and addressing questions, debates or divisions experienced internally within the churches. Which means the document also seeks to inform, enrich and help not just the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion on an ecumenical level, but also in dealing with their own internal debates and tensions. This first agreed statement from ARCIC III "represents a significant methodological and substantive step-forward for Anglican–Roman Catholic formal ecumenism," and it is also "in service of ecclesial reform within both Anglican tradition and Catholic tradition," Paul Murray, professor of theology at Durham University in the United Kingdom and Catholic member of ARCIC, told Catholic News Service. The commission members representing the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion focus on their "respective felt difficulties within their own ecclesial cultures, processes, structures and associated ecclesiologies, and ask how these difficulties might be helped by a process of receptive learning from relative strengths in the theology and practice of the other communion," he said July 2. This "receptive learning" lies at the heart of what has been called "receptive ecumenism," that is, a method in which the churches stop asking what the other needs to learn from them and begin asking what they need to learn from the other. It is more about self-examination, inner conversion and discerning what the Lord is calling for rather than convincing or judging one's partner in dialogue. This method has its roots in how St. John Paul II saw dialogue as not simply an exchange of ideas or a removal of obstacles, but an "exchange of gifts." "This implies more than ceasing to judge the other tradition as mistaken or problematic but discerning what is graced" and can be "gratefully received," the document said in its introduction. The document marks the start of a new phase that emerged after the official Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue experienced a six-year hiatus. Since ARCIC II finished its work in 2005, the Anglican Communion began experiencing strong internal tensions over the ordination of women as priests and bishops, the blessing of gay unions and the ordination of openly gay clergy. Differing positions on those moral issues also created a sense that Anglicans and Roman Catholics were growing farther apart rather than approaching unity. As such, now-retired Pope Benedict XVI and Archbishop Rowan Williams, the now-former archbishop of Canterbury, England, and head of the Church of England, had identified two critical areas for ecumenical exploration in their 2006 common declaration: "the emerging ecclesiological and ethical factors making that ...
Fri, 29 Jun 2018 08:36:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- God wants his disciples to bring his mercy and love to everyone, everywhere on earth, which means it may cost them their "good name," comfort and their life, Pope Francis said on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. Following Christ requires "that we open our hearts to the Father and to all those with whom he has wished to identify," particularly the downtrodden, the lost and the wounded, "in the sure knowledge that he will never abandon his people," he said during a Mass in St. Peter's Square June 29. "Jesus wants to liberate his disciples, his church, from empty forms of triumphalism: forms empty of love, empty of service, empty of compassion, empty of people," he said. The Mass was celebrated the day after Pope Francis created 14 new cardinals from 11 different nations. Both new and old cardinals as well as 30 archbishops appointed over the course of the past year were invited to be in Rome to concelebrate the feast day Mass with Pope Francis. The archbishops came from 18 countries, the majority coming from Latin America and others from Africa, Asia and Europe. As has become standard practice, Pope Francis did not confer the pallium on new archbishops during the liturgy, but rather, blessed the palliums after they had been brought up from the crypt above the tomb of St. Peter. As each archbishop approached him by the altar, the pope handed each one a small wooden box tied with a thin gold ribbon. The actual imposition of the woolen band was to take place in the archbishop's archdiocese in the presence of his faithful and bishops from neighboring dioceses. The pallium is a woolen band that symbolizes an archbishop's unity with the pope and his authority and responsibility to care for the flock the pope entrusted to him. Addressing the cardinals and archbishops during his homily, the pope spoke about what Peter teaches them about the life and risks of being Christ's disciple. It was Peter who recognized Jesus as "the Christ, the son of the living God," and it was Peter whom Jesus turned to, saying "You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church." But, when Jesus showed his disciples he must go to Jerusalem, be killed and be risen, it was Peter who protested. Jesus "kept bringing the father's love and mercy to the very end. This merciful love demands that we, too, go forth to every corner of life, to reach out to everyone, even though this may cost us our 'good name,' our comforts, our status ... even martyrdom." Peter reacts to this mandate of martyrdom by saying, "God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you," which makes him become "a stumbling stone in the Messiah's path," the pope said. "Thinking that he is defending God's rights, Peter, without realizing it, becomes the Lord's enemy; Jesus calls him 'Satan.'" he said. "Like Peter, we as a church will always be tempted to hear those 'whisperings' of the evil one, which will become a stumbling stone for the mission," the pope said. Sharing in Christ's mission, which is to anoint the people, the sick, the wounded, the lost and the repentant sinner, so that they may feel "a beloved part of God's family," means sharing Christ's cross, which is his glory. "When we turn our back on the cross, even though we may attain the heights of glory, we will be fooling ourselves, since it will not be God's glory, but the snare of the enemy," he said. Do not be Christians who keep "a prudent distance from the Lord's wounds," because Jesus touches human misery and "he asks us to join him in touching the suffering flesh of others," the pope told those assembled. It is failure to be immersed in "real human dramas" and in contact with people's concrete concerns that prevents people from "knowing the revolutionary power of God's tender love," he said. As is customary, a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople attended the Mass for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul -- the patron saints of the Vatican and the city of Rome. Before the ...
Fri, 29 Jun 2018 08:07:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In its effort to defend life at all stages, the Pontifical Academy for Life is relying on young scientists and professionals to reach across the aisle and bridge the gap between science and faith. In his address to the academy June 25, Pope Francis called for "a global vision of bioethics" inspired by Christian thought, in which the value of human life is not determined by sickness and death but by the "profound conviction of the irrevocable dignity of the human person." Since 2017, the pontifical academy has relied on the presence of young researchers to expand on this bioethical vision and give a fresh face to a timeless message. "There is nothing specific about we are doing that's different from the activity of other members. It's just new blood in the academy to refresh its energy," Sandra Azab told Catholic News Service June 26. Azab, along with fellow young researchers and other members attended the academy's June 25-27 general assembly, "Equal beginnings, but then? A global responsibility." "I think this conference is bringing many answers to the ailing questions that we are facing during our research, and especially with all the political events happening all over the world with immigration, inequality of health care access, etc.," said Azab, who studied as a pharmacist in Egypt and works as an international health specialist. Pope Francis updated the statutes of the pontifical academy in November 2016 and highlighted its need to study ways to promote "the care of the dignity of the human person at the different ages of existence, mutual respect between genders and generations, defense of the dignity of each human being, promotion of a quality of human life that integrates its material and spiritual value with a view to an authentic 'human ecology.'" According the pontifical academy's statutes, young researcher members "come from fields related to the academy's own areas of research, are no older than 35 years of age" and serve a five-year term. The areas of expertise the researchers specialize in include medicine, the biological sciences, theology, philosophy, anthropology, law and sociology. Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, told CNS that through the inclusion of young researchers, the academy wants to help them "understand the mission that has been entrusted to them." "It is a mission that, in this moment, has become very delicate because we are experiencing an age where the risk of a dictatorship of technology or science can make us forget the human dimension that, in reality, is the aim of everything," Archbishop Paglia said. Hye-Jin Kim, a South Korean professor at the Catholic University of Korea's College of Nursing, teaches nursing and maternal care. The general assembly's reflection on global ethics, she said, is linked with the issue of women's health care. But as a young researcher for the pontifical academy, Kim told CNS that her role is not just to provide insight into her areas of expertise, but to also be a "bridge between the old generation and the young generation." "It's not just about research; we can be a kind of bridge for young people who want to be researchers; we can give some kind of inspiration to them," Kim said. "I think the academy can use us to have a conversation with young people." The church's concern for young men and women will be front and center when the Synod of Bishops convenes in October to reflect on "young people, faith and vocational discernment." The synod's "instrumentum laboris" (working document), published by the Vatican June 19, highlighted young people's need for a church that listens to their concerns, accompanies them in discerning their vocations and helps them confront the challenges they face. Researchers are no stranger to challenges related to their work in scientific study, ranging from funding and mentorship to spiritual and moral challenges that come with "working in a very sensitive area as ...
Thu, 28 Jun 2018 14:21:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Defending the weak or hopeless and becoming a servant to those most in need is the best promotion one can ever receive, Pope Francis told new and old cardinals. "None of us must feel 'superior' to anyone. None of us should look down at others from above. The only time we can look at a person in this way is when we are helping them to stand up," he said during a ceremony in which he elevated 14 bishops and archbishops from 11 different nations to the College of Cardinals June 28. The formal ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica began with Pope Francis, wearing a miter and carrying a pastoral staff of retired Pope Benedict XVI, leading a procession of the soon-to-be cardinals -- in their new red robes -- while the choirs sang, "Tu es Petrus" (You are Peter). Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako of Baghdad approached a microphone to give thanks on behalf of all the new cardinals who have been "called to serve the church and all people with an even greater love." The 69-year-old patriarch, whose country has lost an estimated 1 million of what had been 1.5 million Christians over the years of war, violence by extremist militants and economic insecurity, thanked the pope for his special attention to the plight and struggle of "the tiny flock" of Christians throughout the Middle East. "We pray and hope that your efforts to promote peace will change the hearts of men and women for the better" and help the world become a more "dignified" place for all people, the patriarch said. Being made a cardinal, he noted, was not a prize or a personal honor, but an invitation to live out one's mission more firmly dedicated to "the very end," even to give one's life, as symbolized by the cardinal's color of red. Their mission, the pope said in his homily, is to remember to stay focused on Christ, who always ministered and led the way, unperturbed by his disciples' infighting, jealousies, failings and compromises. On the road to Jerusalem, as the disciples were locked in "useless and petty discussions," Jesus walks ahead yet tells them forcefully, when it comes to lording authority over others, "it shall not be so among you; whoever would be great among you must be your servant." What good is it, the pope asked, to "gain the whole world if we are corroded within" or "living in a stifling atmosphere of intrigues that dry up our hearts and impede our mission," including those "palace intrigues" in curial offices. "But it shall not be so among you," the Lord says, because their eyes, heart and resources must be dedicated "to the only thing that counts: the mission," the pope said. Personal conversion and church reform are always missionary, he said, which demands that looking out for and protecting one's own interests be stopped, so that looking out for and protecting what God cares about remains at the fore. Letting go of sins and selfishness means "growing in fidelity and willingness to embrace the mission" so that "when we see the distress of our brothers and sisters, we will be completely prepared to accompany and embrace them" instead of being "roadblocks ... because of our short-sightedness or our useless wrangling about who is most important." "The church's authority grows with this ability to defend the dignity of others, to anoint them and to heal their wounds and their frequently dashed hopes. It means remembering that we are here because we have been asked 'to preach good news to the poor ... to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed," he said. "Dear brother cardinals and new cardinals," the pope said, the "Lord walks ahead of us, to keep reminding us that the only credible form of authority is born of sitting at the feet of others in order to serve Christ." "This is the highest honor that we can receive, the greatest promotion that can be awarded us: to serve Christ in God's faithful people. In those who are hungry, neglected, imprisoned, sick, ...
Wed, 27 Jun 2018 08:44:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Here are brief biographical notes about each of the 14 churchmen who will become cardinals June 28. Their names are listed in the order Pope Francis announced them May 20: -- Iraqi Cardinal-designate Louis Raphael I Sako, the Chaldean Catholic patriarch, was ordained a bishop eight months after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. He witnessed the exodus of the country's native Christians and ministered to the beleaguered and martyred people who remained. After his installation as head of the Chaldean Catholic Church in 2013, he said the church must be a sign of hope, witness and communion, despite the difficulties, and work together with all Iraqis to defend human dignity and peaceful coexistence based on equal rights. The 69-year-old cardinal-designate was born July 4, 1948, in Zakho. After studies in Mosul, Rome and Paris, he returned to Mosul in 1986 and served as pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish and, during the U.S.-led embargo of Iraq, he and several physicians and pharmacists opened a dispensary for the poor. He was rector of the patriarchal seminary in Baghdad before the Chaldean bishops' synod elected him archbishop of Kirkuk in 2002 -- an election approved by St. John Paul II in 2003. He was elected to lead the Chaldean Church in early 2013, and Pope Benedict XVI formally recognized the election soon after. Iraq's Christian population, believed to number up to 1.4 million in the late 1990s, now is believed to be significantly fewer than 500,000. Almost two-thirds of Iraqi Christians belong to the Chaldean Catholic Church. -- Spanish Cardinal-designate Luis F. Ladaria, 74, was born in Manacor, Mallorca, April 19, 1944, and earned a law degree at the University of Madrid before entering the Society of Jesus in 1966. After theology and philosophy studies in Spain and Germany, he was ordained to the priesthood July 29, 1973. He earned a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1975 and began teaching dogmatic theology at the Pontifical University Comillas in Madrid. Nine years later, he returned to the Gregorian to teach, and he served as vice rector of the university from 1986 to 1994. Pope Benedict XVI made him an archbishop and appointed him secretary of the doctrinal congregation after having worked with him as a member of the International Theological Commission from 1992 to 1997, as a consultant to the doctrinal congregation from 1995 to 2008 and as secretary general of the theological commission from 2004 until being named congregation secretary. Pope Francis promoted Cardinal-designate Ladaria to prefect of the congregation in 2017. As prefect, he is responsible for promoting the correct interpretation of Catholic doctrine and theology; his office also is responsible for conducting investigations of clergy accused of sexually abusing minors. -- Cardinal-designate Angelo De Donatis, 64, a well-known retreat master and spiritual director, was chosen by Pope Francis in 2014 to lead his first Lenten retreat as pope. In 2015, Pope Francis named him an auxiliary bishop of Rome, and in 2017, tapped him to be his vicar for the Diocese of Rome. Born Jan. 4, 1954, in Casarano, Italy, he earned a licentiate in moral theology from Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University. Ordained to the priesthood in 1980 for the Diocese of Nardo-Gallipoli, he was incardinated as a priest of the Diocese of Rome in 1983. He ministered in a number of parishes and worked in the offices of the Rome vicariate before becoming the archivist for the College of Cardinals, a position he held from 1989 to 1991. For six years, he was director of the Rome diocesan office for clergy and, from 1990 to 2003, served as the spiritual director of the Rome diocesan seminary. -- Cardinal-designate Giovanni Angelo Becciu, 69, has served since 2011 as "substitute for general affairs" in the Vatican Secretariat of State, a position often described as being the pope's chief of staff, the one who deals with ...
Wed, 27 Jun 2018 00:00:00 -0400
In another blow to the U.S. Church, Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick was suspended June 20 from active ministry by the Holy See following a substantiated and credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. The retired archbishop of Washington, who previously served in dioceses in New York and New Jersey, becomes the highest ranking American bishop to be so charged. In a statement, Cardinal McCarrick said, “I have absolutely no recollection of this reported abuse, and believe in my innocence.” His fate is uncertain at this time, and a final verdict from Rome is pending. If the case goes to canonical trial and the cardinal is found guilty, penalties can include loss of rights and privileges of a cardinal, assignment to a life of prayer and penance or even laicization. Specifics of the claim The abuse claim dates back nearly 50 years to two separate episodes in the early 1970s when Cardinal McCarrick was a priest of the Archdiocese of New York. An attorney for the victim said that his client was a high school seminarian at the time the abuse occurred, while then-Msgr. McCarrick was serving as private secretary to New York’s archbishop, Cardinal Terence Cooke. Cardinal McCarrick Biography ◗ Born July 7, 1930 ◗ Ordained May 31, 1958, for the Archdiocese of New York ◗ Appointed Auxiliary Bishop of New York, May 24, 1977 ◗ Appointed Bishop of Metuchen, New Jersey, Nov. 19, 1981 ◗ Appointed Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, May 30, 1986 ◗ Appointed Archbishop of Washington, D.C., Nov. 21, 2000 ◗ Elevated to cardinal Feb. 21, 2001 ◗ Retired May 16, 2006 The abuse claim was received by the Archdiocese of New York a few months ago as part of their Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, through which victims of clerical sexual abuse are invited by the archdiocese to come forward with their claims as a means to bring healing and reconciliation with the Church. And although the Holy See reserves the right to investigate claims made against a cardinal, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York was delegated by the Holy See to oversee this initial investigation. The claim of abuse of a minor on the part of Cardinal McCarrick came as a shock and surprise to many. But alongside that announcement, two of Cardinal McCarrick’s successors in New Jersey announced there had been previously undisclosed claims of sexual misconduct with adults by Cardinal McCarrick. Two of these allegations resulted in settlements, according to Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark and Bishop James F. Checchio of Metuchen. On June 22, Cardinal Tobin announced he released those victims from their confidentiality agreements so that they may be free to speak, and he encouraged them to do so. The recently disclosed allegations of sexual misconduct with adults accompany rumors and claims that, as reported by many, have circulated for years about Cardinal McCarrick regarding sexual harassment and sexual behavior with priests and seminarians in particular. Questions remain There remain many unanswered questions. Why are these claims only being made public now? Who knew about these claims against Cardinal McCarrick and remained silent? Was money part of the settlements? If so, from where did it come? And how was it possible that Cardinal McCarrick continued to serve in public ministry and advance to more prestigious and influential positions in the Church despite reports of sexual misconduct? 'Saddened and Shocked' The following is a portion of the statement of Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York, where the abuse is said to have taken place: “The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, at the direction of Pope Francis, has instructed Cardinal McCarrick that he is no longer to exercise publicly his priestly ministry. Cardinal McCarrick, while maintaining his innocence, has accepted the decision. This archdiocese, while saddened and shocked, asks prayers for all involved, and renews its apology to all victims abused by priests.” While over a ...
Fri, 22 Jun 2018 07:54:00 -0400
GENEVA (CNS) -- At the end of a day dedicated to celebrating 70 years of an ecumenical fellowship forged by the World Council of Churches, Pope Francis turned to the region's Catholics, reminding them of what lies at the heart of the faith. The Lord's Prayer "offers us a road map for the spiritual life" by reminding people they are part of one human family, that they should live a simpler, more caring life and that forgiveness works miracles in history, he said. "There is no greater novelty than forgiveness, which turns evil into good," he told 40,000 Catholics from Switzerland, France and other nations not far from this landlocked country, whose history was built on the values of peace and neutrality. The pope was in Geneva June 21 "as a pilgrim in quest of unity and peace," for a one-day journey celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the World Council of Churches -- a fellowship of 350 ecclesial communities, including many Orthodox churches, who represent some 500 million Christians worldwide. The Catholic Church, which cooperates extensively with the council, is not a full member. Celebrating Mass at the city's enormous indoor expo center, the pope pointed to the essential lessons contained in the Lord's Prayer, which Jesus teaches his disciples in the day's Gospel reading. The pope first circled the vast indoor center in a small white electric cart, greeting the faithful and blessing babies. Former pontifical Swiss guards in traditional uniform were present, standing at attention, representing their service rendered for more than 500 years in Rome. "Father, bread, forgiveness," Pope Francis said in his homily. These are the three words in the Lord's Prayer "that take us to the very heart of our faith." When praying "Our Father, who art in heaven," people are reminded that God "does not group us together in little clubs, but gives us new life and makes us one large family." This prayer says that "every human being is part of us," he said, and that "we are called to be good guardians of our family, to overcome all indifference toward" everyone. "This includes the unborn, the older person who can no longer speak, the person we find hard to forgive, the poor and the outcast." God commands his children to love each other from the heart, he said. When praying, "Give us this day, our daily bread," it is asking God to "help me lead a simpler life." "Life has become so complicated," he said, with everyone acting "pumped up, rushing from dawn to dusk, between countless phone calls and texts with no time to see other people's faces, full of stress from complicated and constantly changing problems." "We need to choose a sober lifestyle, free of unnecessary hassles," the pope said, pointing to the example of a fellow Jesuit, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, whose feast day is June 21. The 16th-century Italian saint renounced his family's wealth and desired an austere religious life to better serve others. With so much abundance in the world, the pope said, it fills up people's lives and empties their hearts. May people rediscover "the courage of silence and of prayer" and "let us choose people over things so that personal, not virtual relationships may flourish." "Daily bread" also means to never forget the life-giving power of Jesus; "he is our regular diet for healthy living. Sometimes however, we treat Jesus as a side dish." Without him every day, life is meaningless, the pope said. Finally, the prayer calls for forgiveness, which is not easy, but it is a gift. God forgives everything and yet, "he asks only one thing of us: that we in turn never tire of forgiving. He wants to issue a general amnesty for the sins of others." Offer up to God those lingering dregs of resentment and bitterness that prevent complete forgiveness, the pope said. Imagine taking an X-ray of the heart, and point to the "stones needing to be removed," the pope said. Pray to God, "You see this stone? I hand it over to you and I pray for this person, for ...
Fri, 22 Jun 2018 07:43:00 -0400
ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM GENEVA (CNS) -- The question of allowing Protestants married to Catholics to receive Communion at Mass in special cases has to be decided by each individual bishop and cannot be decided by a bishops' conference, Pope Francis told reporters after a one-day ecumenical journey to Geneva. During an inflight news conference June 21, the pope was asked about his recent decision requesting the Catholic bishops' conference of Germany not publish nationwide guidelines for allowing Communion for such couples. He said the guidelines went beyond what is foreseen by the Code of Canon law "and there is the problem." The code does not provide for nationwide policies, he said, but "provides for the bishop of the diocese (to make a decision on each case), not the bishops' conference." "This was the difficulty of the debate. Not the content," he said. Cardinal-designate Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had written the bishops that "the Holy Father has reached the conclusion that the document has not matured enough to be published." Pope Francis expanded on that by saying it will have to be studied more. He said he believed what could be done is an "illustrative" type of document "so that each diocesan bishop could oversee what the Code of Canon Law permits. There was no stepping on the brakes," he said. The bishops' conference can study the issue and offer guidelines that help each bishop handle each individual case, he said. When asked about countries' recent reluctance to take in refugees, the pope underlined the basics every nation should provide, "welcoming, accompaniment, (help with) settling in, integrate." He added that each government must act with "prudence" and understand how many people it can educate and integrate and help. In response to another question, the pope said human rights are in a serious state of crisis today, having become relative or unimportant in the eyes of some parts of the world. Today there is a "crisis of hope, a crisis of human rights, a crisis of mediation, a crisis of peace," he said. Pope Francis said he and leaders of the World Council of Churches discussed this crisis during a private lunch, and one Protestant pastor commented that "perhaps the first human right is the right to have hope." The lack of belief in and enthusiasm for basic human rights is a serious concern, he said, and "we have to look for the causes for how we got here -- that human rights today are relative, even the right to peace is relative. It is a crisis of human rights." Conflicts in the world should not be resolved the way Cain tried, with violence, he said, referring to the biblical story of Cain and Abel. "Resolve them with negotiations, with dialogue, with mediation." Recounting remarks he had heard, he said: "If a Third World War is waged, we know what weapons will be used. But if there were to be a fourth, it will be waged with sticks, because humanity will have been destroyed."