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7/23/2019

Vatican City, Jul 23, 2019 / 04:01 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Tuesday named Bishop Mark Brennan the Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia following financial corruption and alleged sexual assault by the former bishop of the diocese, Michael J. Bransfield.

Brennan, 72, is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, where he has served since his appointment in 2016.

"I eagerly look forward to being a part of this local Church in West Virginia, to working with the good people, enjoying their interests and most especially, gaining their trust as their brother and servant,” Brennan told Baltimore's The Catholic Review July 23.

Brennan said that he hopes to share in the joys and sorrows of the people in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston as he works to face the diocese's challenges and need for healing.

"Can I personally bring healing? I don’t know – and I believe God’s the one who brings healing – but can I be an instrument in doing that? I hope and pray I can," he said.

The West Virginia episcopal appointment follows a Vatican communique July 19 stating that the bishop emeritus of Wheeling-Charleston Michael J. Bransfield will no longer be allowed to participate in public Masses or live within his former diocese.

Bransfield is reported to have sexually harassed, assaulted, and coerced seminarians, priests, and other adults during his time as Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston. He was also found to have given large cash gifts to high-ranking Church leaders, using diocesan funds.

Archbishop William E. Lori has served as apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston since Pope Francis accepted Bransfield’s resignation on Sept. 13, 2018, five days after he reached the retirement age of 75.

Lori subsequently barred Bransfield from public ministry in both Wheeling-Charleston and Baltimore following an investigation, authorized by Pope Francis, found credible the accusations of serious financial misconduct and an established pattern of sexual malfeasance. Lori also announced that the Holy See would be conducting an additional evaluation of the investigation.

Bishop Mark Brennan will assume leadership in Wheeling-Charleston, a diocese of 77,874 Catholics following months of scandal as details of his predecessor’s financial corruption over his 13-year-long tenure became public.

Archbishop Lori said in that Archdiocese of Baltimore was blessed by Brennan's gifts during the two years he served as an auxiliary bishop for the diocese.

"I have witnessed his pastoral love for the people of God, who have accepted and embraced him for his kindness, humility and joyful witness to the faith," Lori said July 23.

"These gifts and so many others will bring healing and hope to the Church in West Virginia, which deserves a shepherd who bears so many of the qualities possessed by Bishop Brennan," he said.

Brennan was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Washington May 15, 1976. He obtained a bachelor’s degree at Brown University and attended Christ the King Seminary in New York and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome where he received a bachelor’s and master’s in theology.

He spent a year in the Dominican Republic doing “Hispanic Immersion Studies” in the 1980s, and served as a pastor at several parishes, providing pastoral ministry to the Hispanic community at St. Bartholomew parish from 1988-1989.

The bishop previously held the position of director of priestly vocations and priestly programs for the Archdiocese of Washington and has been a member of the Priests’ Council and the College of Consultors. He was Vicar Forane of “Northwest Deanery West” from 2002-2005 and Advocate of the Metropolitan Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Washington in 2006.

In 2005 Brennan was given the title of Monsignor. In addition to English, he speaks Spanish and knows French and Italian.

Brennan said that he wants to prioritize poverty alleviation in the West Virginia diocese.

“A primary focus will be on the poverty that those in the rural areas of the state face. I will depend on those who are working to alleviate their suffering and to determine how we can increase the Church’s outreach and impact – particularly for those who have fallen victim to opioid addiction,” Brennan said.

“Although there is great need across the state, there are also tremendous assets. It will be my priority to harness the resources of the diocese to serve the considerable needs while also bringing about a new era of renewal of our faith,” he said.

7/23/2019

Vatican City, Jul 23, 2019 / 03:01 am (CNA).- The cause for canonization of Servant of God Edward Flanagan, the priest who founded Nebraska's Boys Town community for orphans and other boys, advanced Monday with the presentation of a summary of records on his life.

The positio, which summarizes the records collected by the Archdiocese of Omaha, was presented to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints July 22, along with a letter of support from Archbishop George Lucas.

The positio argues that Flanagan demonstrated heroic virtue.

“It has been a privilege to offer my support for the cause of Father Edward Flanagan at each stage of this process,” Archbishop Lucas said. “I was able to share with Cardinal Becciu the encouragement offered to all of us in the Church during this challenging time by the virtuous life and work of Father Flanagan.”

The Omaha archbishop had met with Cardinal Becciu, the prefect of the congregation, in January.

Father Flanagan helped at least 10,000 boys at Boys Town in his lifetime, and his influence extended around the world.

The priest was born in Ireland’s County Roscommon July 13, 1886. He emigrated to the U.S. in 1904 and was ordained a priest in 1912. He was assigned to what was then the Diocese of Omaha.

After working with homeless men in Omaha, he founded a boarding house for all boys, regardless of their race or religion. He soon moved his work to Overlook Farm on the outskirts of Omaha, where he cared for hundreds.

The home became known as the Village of Boys Town, growing to include a school, dormitories, and administration buildings. The boys elected their own government to run the community, which became an official village in the state of Nebraska in 1936.

Father Flanagan’s work inspired 80 other Boys Towns around the world. The original Boys Town now serves about 80,000 kids and families each year.

After World War II, the priest helped care for orphans and displaced children in Japan, Germany, and Austria at the request of US president Harry Truman.

Flanagan also worked to reform the criminal justice system’s treatment of minor offenders.

The priest rose to national and international prominence for his work. Spencer Tracy won an Oscar for his portrayal of Fr. Flanagan in the 1938 movie “Boys Town.”

Father Flanagan died in Berlin of a heart attack May 15, 1948. His corpse is interred in a memorial chapel at Boys Town.

Flanagan's cause was opened in the Archdiocese of Omaha in 2012, and the diocesan phase was concluded in June 2015.

At that time, documents produced by the diocesan tribunal were signed and sealed, and then sent to the Vatican.

An official of the Omaha archdiocese told CNA that since 2015, the local Church has continue to investigate Flanagan's life, and possible miracles attributed to his intercession.

In January 2017, the then-prefect of the congregation, Cardinal Angelo Amato, signed a decree affirming the validity of the diocesan phase of Flanagan's cause.

The positio will now be reviewed by historical consultants at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, then theological consultants, and finally the members of the congregation.

If all three groups agree, the congregation would then recommend that Pope Francis declare Flanagan “Venerable”, the next stage in the process of canonization.

Omar Gutierrez, who served as notary for the tribunal that investigated Flanagan's life, told CNA in 2015 that the priest “was a man driven by his love for Jesus Christ to care for children who were forgotten and abused. He is a great model for the priesthood and for what Catholic social teaching looks like in the real world.”

Steven Wolf, president of the Father Flanagan League Society of Devotion and vice-postulator of his cause, said he thinks there is abundant evidence of the priest’s heroic virtue.

“He completely immersed his life in the gospel, and lived it,” Wolf told CNA. “He completely poured his life into saving these kids nobody else wanted to deal with.”

Father Flanagan integrated young boys, “built a society around them, and put love, God’s love, in the middle of their circumstances and helped them to become whole and complete people.”

“He could see the face of Christ in every child, and he wanted to help every child, not just be successful citizens, but also be saints.”

Wolf added, “We need people to look into this man’s life, look into this man’s motivation, and look at his example and live that example. Pray that we can make our culture a better place through the way that he lived the gospel in his life.”

In 2015, Gutierrez said that two alleged miracles attributed to Flanagan's intercession were being investigated.

7/22/2019

Vatican City, Jul 22, 2019 / 07:00 pm (CNA).- The search for the remains of missing 15-year-old Emanuela Orlandi took another twist as Vatican officials discovered “thousands” of human bones in a previously unknown ossuary on Saturday. It is unclear if any of the bones belong to Orlandi, or how old they are.

On July 11, the Vatican opened two tombs belonging to Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe and Duchess Charlotte Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who both died in the mid-19th century. The tombs, located in the cemetery of the Teutonic College, adjacent to the Vatican City State, were found to be completely empty of any human remains. Scientists were initially puzzled by this unforeseen development.

Afterwards, Vatican officials realized that restoration and structural work done in the 1960s and 1970s likely resulted in remains being moved. This led to the discovery of two ossuaries underneath the Teutonic College, which held containers of bones. Ossuaries are container, or even rooms, used to store skeletal remains after the rest of the body has decomposed. They are common in areas where underground burial space is limited.

Members of Orlandi’s family, as well as their lawyer and a forensic expert, were present at the opening of the containers.

Orlandi’s sister, Frederica, described the opening as an “emotional experience” and thinks that Emanuela’s remains are possibly in the ossuary.

Her brother, Pietro, described the discovery as “a large number of diverse bones,” and noted the need to identify and date the remains. Giorgio Portera, a forensic expert working with the family, estimated the total number of bones found indicated “the presence of the remains of a few dozen people.”

“There are long bones, small bones, many are fragmented,” said Portera. He explained they were not sorted, and were mixed together “all piled up inside a cavity.”

There are 206 bones in an adult body, meaning that the partial remains of a handful of people could easily number over 1,000 bones.

According to Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti, there will be “an in-depth morphological analysis” of the bones within the next week. Gisotti said that international protocols were followed during the initial examination of the bones.

Orlandi disappeared in Rome on June 22, 1983, and has not been seen or heard from since--although there have been several unconfirmed sightings. Prior to her disappearance, Orlandi called her sister and told her that she was approached by a man in a BMW who offered her a job selling Avon cosmetics. This man has never been identified. Orlandi’s father worked in the Vatican, and she and her family are citizens of Vatican City State. The Vatican denies having any role in her disappearance, but conspiracy theories regarding her disappearance have run rampant in Italy since she first vanished.

Almost two weeks after she disappeared, St. Pope John Paul II mentioned her in the Angelus, and asked for her those responsible for her disappearance to come forward. Shortly after this, her family began receiving telephone calls from people claiming to be associated with Turkish nationalist groups, claiming to have kidnapped Orlandi as a bargaining chip to secure the release of Mehmet Ali Ağca.

Ağca, who attempted to assassinate St. Pope John Paul II in 1981, said in an interview with Italian television that he believed Orlandi was alive and well and living in a convent. In 2006 he again stated that Orlandi is living in a cloistered convent somewhere in Europe. This has never been confirmed.

Others speculate that the Italian mafia was involved in her disappearance, or that she was kidnapped on the order of a cleric to send a message to her father.

Physical remains can be dated using carbon testing, which tests for the half-life of carbon. An older bone would have less carbon than a newer bone, which can provide a ballpark estimate for how old something may be.

 

7/22/2019

Vatican City, Jul 22, 2019 / 04:52 am (CNA).- Pope Francis, with concern for the humanitarian crisis in bombarded Idlib, has called on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to safeguard the weak and defenseless civil population in his country.

“The Holy Father asks the president to do everything possible to stop this humanitarian catastrophe, to safeguard the defenseless population, especially the weakest, in compliance with International Humanitarian Law,” Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin told Vatican News July 22.

The pope’s appeal was made in a letter delivered to Assad July 22 by Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, during a meeting with the president in Damascus.

Also present at the meeting were the apostolic nuncio to Syria, Cardinal Mario Zenari, and Fr. Nicola Riccardi, undersecretary of the Integral Human Development dicastery.

According to a statement by press office director Matteo Bruni, Francis’ letter makes particular reference to the situation of the civil population in Idlib.

Idlib, located on the Turkish border in northwestern Syria, is the last major rebel stronghold in the country. Since Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air cover, launched an offensive in late April, the city has seen intensive airstrikes and bombardment, resulting in the death of more than 2,000 people and the displacement of hundreds of thousands.

At least 19 people, including 16 civilians, were killed, and dozens injured, Monday in an airstrike on a market in Idlib. The strike followed one day after other air raids in the region killed 18.

“Pope Francis renews his appeal to protect the lives of civilians and preserve the main infrastructures, such as schools, hospitals and health facilities,” Parolin said. “Indeed what is happening is inhuman and cannot be accepted.”

Parolin said the pope’s letter to Assad encourages the president to show “goodwill” and to make an effort to find “viable solutions” to end a conflict which has lasted too long and taken a large number of innocent lives.
 
Pope Francis is worried about the stalled negotiation process, Parolin said, and urges the use of diplomacy, dialogue, and negotiation. He recalled a phrase of the pope repeated in the letter, that “war provokes war and violence provokes violence.”

According to Parolin, in his letter Francis gives several concrete examples of steps which should be taken, such as the creation of safe conditions for internally and externally displaced people to return home if desired, the release of prisoners, and access for families to information about loved ones.

The letter also addresses political prisoners, which Parolin said is a situation “particularly close at heart for Pope Francis.”

Citing a March 2018 report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Parolin said there are tens of thousands of people arbitrarily detained, sometimes in unofficial prisons where they may be tortured and executed.  

Pope Francis also sent a letter to Assad at the end of 2016, appealing for a peaceful resolution to hostilities and an end to extremism.

The Syrian civil war began in March 2011 with demonstrations against the nation's president, Bashar al-Assad. The war has claimed the lives of more than 500,000 people, and forced 5.6 million to become refugees. Another 6.6 million Syrians are believed to have been internally displaced by the violence.

The civil war is being fought among the Syrian regime and a number of rebel groups. The rebels include moderates, such as the Free Syrian Army; Islamists such as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and the Islamic State; and Kurdish separatists.

 

7/21/2019

Vatican City, Jul 21, 2019 / 06:29 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Sunday recalled the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, encouraging Catholics to look to that great event for inspiration to overcome injustices and mistreatment of the weak.

“Fifty years ago yesterday man set foot on the moon, realizing an extraordinary dream,” the pope said July 21. “May the memory of that great step for humanity ignite the desire to progress together towards even greater goals: more dignity for the weak, more justice among peoples, more future for our common home.”

Pope Francis referenced the July 20 anniversary of the Apollo 11 spaceflight, the first to land humans on the moon, during his weekly Angelus address in St. Peter’s Square.

In his message before the Angelus, he reflected on the day’s Gospel, when Jesus goes to visit Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus. In this Gospel, St. Luke tells readers that Martha was busy serving, while Mary sat at the feet of Jesus to listen to his words.

Jesus, in response to Martha’s complaint that Mary is not helping, says she “has chosen the better part.”

“Today’s Gospel reminds us that the wisdom of the heart lies precisely in knowing how to combine these two elements: contemplation and action,” Pope Francis said, adding that “Martha and Mary show us the way.”

Francis commented that Martha had a gift for hospitality and Jesus did not intend to condemn an attitude of service, “but rather the anxiety with which it is sometimes experienced.”

In fact, it is important to follow Martha’s example in working to create fraternity and welcome in one’s home and community, he underlined. But, he explained, when Jesus is there, “everything must be put aside because, when He comes to visit us in our lives, his presence and His word comes before everything.”

“In this scene of Mary of Bethany at the feet of Jesus, St. Luke shows the prayerful attitude of the believer, who knows how to stay in the presence of the Master to listen to him and be in harmony with Him,” the pope said.

To live a joyful life, the two attitudes must be associated, he continued. “On the one hand, ‘to stay at the feet’ of Jesus, to listen to him while he reveals the secret of everything to us; on the other hand, to be attentive and ready in hospitality, when He passes and knocks on our door, with the face of a friend who needs a moment of refreshment and fraternity.”

Pope Francis prayed that the Virgin Mary will intercede in granting the Church the grace to love and serve God and others “with the hands of Martha and the heart of Mary.”

7/18/2019

Vatican City, Jul 18, 2019 / 04:10 am (CNA).- Pope Francis appointed Fr. William Joensen, a priest of the Archdiocese of Dubuque and philosophy professor at a local college, as Bishop of Des Moines Thursday.

Joensen, 59, was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Dubuque in 1989, and received a Ph.D. in philosophy from the Catholic University of America in 2001.

Fr. Joensen has served as dean of campus spiritual life at Loras College, a Catholic liberal arts institution in Dubuque, since 2010. As such, he promotes the college's Catholic mission and identity, and serves as a spiritual director on the campus and at St. Pius X Seminary.

As an associate professor of philosophy at Loras, Joensen has taught courses in metaphysics, epistemology, philosophical anthropology, and history of philosophy. He also teaches the college’s Catholic Identity mission courses.

Fr. Joensen is a faculty member at the Tertio Millennio Seminar on the Free Society, a seminar on Catholic social teaching held annually in Krakow, Poland. He also serves on the medical-moral commission of the Dubuque archdiocese and is a regular contributor of spiritual reflections to Magnificat.

He will succeed Bishop Richard Pates, who retired Thursday at the age of 76.

“The Holy Father, Pope Francis, is sending a bishop with a pastoral heart to the Diocese of Des Moines,” Bishop Pates said.

“Through Bishop-elect Joensen’s stellar personal gifts, the diocese will be well served in the years ahead. Heartfelt thanks are extended to Pope Francis for his solicitous care," he said.

7/18/2019

Vatican City, Jul 18, 2019 / 04:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Thursday appointed Matteo Bruni director of the Holy See Press Office, effective July 22. No vice director was named.

Bruni replaces Alessandro Gisotti, who has been serving as director ad interim after the resignations of Greg Burke and Paloma Garcia Ovejero at the end of 2018.

Bruni, 43, an Italian born in Great Britain, has worked for the Holy See press office since 2009, including as chief press handler, and most recently, as the lead on organization of papal trips.

In 2016, he became coordinator of the Media Operations section; in which he handled the accreditation of journalists for events during the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Though not a journalist, Bruni's background includes time working with the Sant'Egidio Community, a lay Catholic movement, for which he traveled around the world coordinating charity initiatives.

Bruni speaks fluent English and has an academic background in foreign languages. He also speaks Italian, Spanish, and French.

Gisotti, who has taken part in five papal trips during his six and a half months as interim director, has been given the role of vice editorial director of the Dicastery for Communication, serving under editorial director Andrea Tornielli (named to the position in early December 2018) and Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Dicastery for Communication since July 2018.

Sergio Centofanti, a journalist for Vatican News, was also named a vice director of editorial direction for Vatican communications.

The editorial director and his new deputies will direct all of the content of the Vatican Media platform, coordinate the editorial line of Vatican communications, and oversee the integration of traditional media and digital media with attention to the universal dimension of the Holy See’s communications.

Gisotti and Centofanti’s appointment to the editorial office of Vatican Media strengthens that department and likely marks a shift toward putting Vatican Media at the center of Vatican communications, rather than the press office.

The appointment of a permanent director fills the Holy See press office roster (minus a vice director) and completes the restructuring announced in January, which created the positions of senior advisor, two assistants to the director, and office manager.

These positions, which will remain stable, are currently filled by Romilda Ferrauto as senior advisor; Sr. Bernadette Reis and Raul Cabrera Perez as assistants to the director; and Thaddeus M. Jones as office manager.

Gisotti said July 18 it had been a privilege to be the pope's spokesman "during such an intense period of his Pontificate" and that he is grateful for Francis' "fatherly support."

"I am sure that Matteo Bruni will know how to manage the extraordinary team here at the Press Office in the best way possible," he said. "I offer him my best wishes for success, as well as my availability to collaborate."

In an interview with Vatican News July 18 Bruni said the nomination is an honor, adding that his professional relationship with the media "has always been rather intense."

"Even though behind the scenes, I tried to make my work contribute to correct information, trying to convey some of the main themes of the pontificate," he said. "I am aware that now a different kind of commitment is beginning and I hope that mutual trust remains unchanged."

Reform of Vatican communications was launched in June 2015 with Pope Francis' creation of the Secretariat for Communications, which consolidated nine communications offices under one authority and prioritized an increase in the use of digital media.

In March 2018 Msgr. Dario Edoardo Vigano stepped down as the secretariat's first prefect, in the wake of a fake news scandal concerning a letter from Pope emeritus Benedict XVI. Vigano continues to work in the department as a consultor.

Three months later, in June 2018, the Secretariat was renamed to "dicastery," the general word used for the Vatican's various offices and departments, which was seen by some as a downgrade.

New appointments rounded out 2018, which ended with the surprise double resignation of Burke and Ovejero as the papal spokespersons.


CNA's Andrea Gagliarducci contributed to this report. The report was updated at 6 am MDT.

7/16/2019

Vatican City, Jul 16, 2019 / 09:19 am (CNA).- Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, who was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 2012 and 2017, presented an analysis with a series of objections and criticisms of the Instrumentum Laboris, or working document, of the Synod on the Amazon, to be held in Rome in October.

The following is the full text of Cardinal Mueller's analysis:

 

“For any other foundation no man can lay, but that which is laid; which is Christ Jesus.” (1 Cor 3:11)

On the Concept of Revelation as presented in the Instrumentum Laboris for the Amazon Synod

Cardinal Gerhard Mueller

1. On the method of the Instrumentum Laboris (IL)

Nobody would question the goodwill of all those involved in the preparation and implementation of the synod for the Church in the Amazon, nor their intention of doing everything possible to promote the Catholic Faith among the inhabitants of this vast region and its fascinating landscape.

The Amazon region is to serve for the Church and for the world “as a pars pro toto, as a paradigm, as a hope for the whole world.” (IL 37) The very wording of these terms of reference suggest the notion of an “integral” development of all of humankind at home on the one Earth, for which the Church now declares herself responsible. This notion appears again and again in the text of the Instrumentum Laboris (IL). The document is divided into three parts: 1) The Voice of the Amazon; 2) Integral Ecology: The Cry of the Earth and of the Poor; 3) A Prophetic Church in the Amazon: Challenges and Hope. These three parts are put forward following a pattern also applied in Liberation theology: Seeing the situation – judging in light of the Gospels – acting to achieve better living conditions.

2. Ambivalently defined terms and goals

As is so often the case when texts are produced as a team effort, by groups of people with a similar mindset contributing, there are many tiresome redundancies. If one were strictly to take out all the repetitions, the text could easily be cut down to half the length or less.

The main problem however is not quantitative, is not the excessive length. Rather, it is the fact that the key terms are not clearly defined and then excessively deployed: what is meant by a synodal path, by integral development, what is meant by a Samaritan, missionary, synodal, open Church? By a Church reaching out, the Church of the Poor, the Church of the Amazon, and other such terms? Is this Church something different from the People of God, or is she to be understood merely as the hierarchy of Pope and Bishops, or is she a part of it, or does she stand on the opposite side of the people? Is the term People of God to be understood sociologically or theologically? Or is she not, rather, the community of faithful, who, together with their shepherds, are on the pilgrimage unto eternal life? Is it the bishops who should hear the cry of the people, or is it God Who, just as He once did it with Moses during Israel's slavery in Egypt, now tells the successors of the Apostles to lead the faithful out of sin and apart from the godlessness of secularist naturalism and immanentism unto his salvation in God's Word and in the Sacraments of the Church?

3. Upside-down Hermeneutics

Has the Church of Christ been put by her Founder, as though she was some kind of putty, into the hands of bishops and popes, so they may now – illuminated by the Holy Spirit – rebuild her, into an updated instrument with secular goals, too?

The structure of the text presents a radical U-turn from the hermeneutics of Catholic theology. The relationship between Holy Scripture and Apostolic Tradition on the one hand, and the Church's Magisterium on the other, has been classically determined in such a way that Revelation is fully contained in Holy Scripture and Tradition, while it is the task of the Magisterium – united with the sense of the Faith of the whole People of God – to make authentic and infallible interpretations. Thus, Holy Scripture and Tradition are constitutive principles of knowledge for the Catholic Profession of Faith and its theological-academic reflection. The Magisterium, on the other hand, is merely active in an interpretative and regulative manner (Dei Verbum 8-10; 24).

In the case of the IL, however, the very opposite is the case. The whole line of thought revolves, in self-referential and circular ways, around the latest documents of Pope Francis' Magisterium, furnished with a few references to John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Only little is quoted of Holy Scripture, and the Church Fathers barely at all, and then only in an illustrative manner, for the sake of supporting pre-formed convictions. Perhaps one wishes thereby to show a special loyalty to the Pope, or one thus believes oneself to be able to avoid the challenges of theological work when one constantly refers back to his well-known and often repeated keywords, which the authors call – in a pretty sloppy manner – “his mantra” (IL 25). This flattery is then being carried to its extreme when the authors also add – after declaring that “the active subjects of inculturation are the indigenous peoples themselves” (IL 122) – the following odd expression: “As Pope Francis has affirmed, ‘Grace supposes culture.’” As if he himself had discovered this axiom – which is of course a fundamental axiom of the Catholic Church herself.  In the original, it is Grace which presupposes Nature, just as Faith presupposes Reason (see Thomas Aquinas, S. th. I q.1 a.8).

Next to the confusing of the roles of Magisterium on the one side and of Holy Scripture on the other, the IL even goes so far as to claim that there are new sources of Revelation. IL 19 states: “Furthermore, we can say that the Amazon – or another indigenous or communal territory – is not only an ubi or a where (a geographical space), but also a quid or a what, a place of meaning for faith or the experience of God in history. Thus, territory is a theological place where faith is lived, and also a particular source of God’s revelation: epiphanic places where the reserve of life and wisdom for the planet is manifest, a life and wisdom that speaks of God.” If here a certain territory is being declared to be a “particular source of God's Revelation,” then one has to state that this is a false teaching, inasmuch as for 2,000 years, the Catholic Church has infallibly taught that Holy Scripture and Apostolic Tradition are the only sources of Revelation and that no further Revelation can be added in the course of history. As Dei Verbum states, “we now await no further new public revelation” (4). Holy Scripture and Tradition are the only sources of Revelation, as Dei Verbum (7) explains: “This sacred tradition, therefore, and Sacred Scripture of both the Old and New Testaments are like a mirror in which the pilgrim Church on earth looks at God, from whom she has received everything, until she is brought finally to see Him as He is, face to face.” “Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the word of God, committed to the Church.” (Dei Verbum 10).

Besides these striking statements and references, the organization Rete Ecclesiale Panamazzonica (REPAM) – which has been tasked with the preparation of the IL and which was founded for that very reason in 2014 – as well as their authors of the so-called Theologia india [Indian Theology] mostly quote themselves.

It is a closed group of absolutely like-minded people, as can easily be gleaned from the list of participants at pre-synodal meetings in Washington and Rome, and it includes a disproportionately large number of mostly German-speaking Europeans.

This group is immune to serious objections, because such objections could only be based on monolithic doctrinalism and dogmatism, or ritualism (IL 38; 110; 138), as well as on clericalism incapable of dialogue (IL 110), and on the rigid way of thinking of the pharisees and on the pride of reason of the scribes. To argue with such people would just be a loss of time and a wasted effort.

Not all of them have direct experience with South America, and are only invited because they toe the official line and determine the agenda at the synodal process of the German bishops’ conference and the Central Committee of German Catholics currently underway (i.e. abolishing celibacy, [ordaining] women to the priesthood and promoting them to key positions of power so as to tackle clericalism and fundamentalism, conforming Catholic sexual morality to gender ideology and an appreciation for homosexual practices) that is simultaneously taking place.

I myself have been active in the pastoral and theological field in Peru and other countries for 15 consecutive years, always for two to three months on end. It was mainly in South American parishes and seminaries, and thus I do not now judge with a purely Eurocentric perspective, as some would like to tell me in a reproachful manner.
Every Catholic will agree with one important intention of the IL, namely that the peoples of the Amazon may not remain the object of colonialism and neo-colonialism, the object of forces solely dedicated to profit and power at the expense of the happiness and dignity of other people. It is clear in Church, society, and state that the people who are living there – especially our Catholic brothers and sisters – are equal and free agents in their lives and work, their Faith and their morality, and this in our common responsibility before God. But how can this be achieved?

4. The Point of Departure is God's Revelation in Christ Jesus

Without doubt, the proclamation of the Gospel is a dialogue which corresponds to the Word (=Logos) of God addressed to us - as well as our response to it by the free gift of obedience to the Faith (cf. Dei Verbum 5). Because this mission comes from Christ the God-Man and because He passed His Mission on from the Father onto His Apostles, the seeming tensions between a dogmatic approach “from above” versus a pedagogical-pastoral approach “from below” are rendered pointless, unless one were to reject the “divine-human-principle of pastoral ministry” (Franz Xaver Arnold).

However it is man to whom Jesus addresses the universal missionary mandate (Matthew 28:19), “the universal and sole mediator of salvation between God and all mankind” (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Tim 2:4 seq.), and man can reflect, by way of reason, upon the meaning of life, from birth to death, a life shaken by the existential crises of human existence, and he sets in life and death his hope in God, the origin and goal of all being.

A cosmovision with its myths and the ritual magic of Mother “Nature,” or its sacrifices to “gods” and spirits which scare the wits out of us, or lure us on with false promises, cannot be an adequate approach for the coming of the Triune God in His Word and His Holy Spirit. Much less can the approach be a scientific-positivistic worldview of a liberal bourgeoisie which accepts from Christianity only a comfortable remnant of moral values and civil-religious rituals.

In all seriousness, in the formation of future pastors and theologians, shall the knowledge of classical and modern philosophy, of the Church Fathers, of modern theology, of the Councils now be replaced with the Amazonian cosmovision and the wisdom of the ancestors with their myths and rituals?

Should the expression “cosmovision” merely mean that all created things are interdependent, it would be a mere commonplace. Due to the substantial unity of body and soul, man stands at the intersection of the fabric of spirit and matter. But the contemplation of the cosmos is only the occasion for the glorification of God and His wonderful work in nature and history. The cosmos, however, is not to be adored like God, but only the Creator Himself. We do not fall on our knees before the enormous power of nature and before “all kingdoms of the world and their splendor” (Matthew 4:8), but only before God, “for it is written, the Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and Him only shalt thou serve.” (Matthew 4:10) It is thus that Jesus rejected the diabolical seducer in the desert.

5. The Difference between Incarnation of the Word and Inculturation itself as a Way of Evangelization

The “Theologia indigena and the eco-theology” (IL 98) is a brainchild of social romantics. Theology is the understanding (intellectus fidei) of God’s Revelation in His Word in the Faith-Profession of the Church, and not the continuously new mixture of world feelings and world views or religious-moral constellations of the cosmic feeling of all-in-one, the mixing of the feeling of one’s own self with the world (hen kai pan). Our natural world is the creation of a Personal God. Faith in the Christian sense is thus recognition of God in His Eternal Word which became Flesh; it is illumination in the Holy Spirit, so that we recognize God in Christ.  With the Faith, the supernatural virtues of hope and charity are communicated to us.  That is how we understand ourselves as children of God, who, through Christ, say to God in the Holy Spirit Abba, Father (Rom 8:15). We put our whole trust in Him, and He makes us His sons, who are free of the fear of the elementary forces of the world and of the demonic appearances, gods and spirits, which maliciously await us in the unpredictability of the material forces of the world.

The Incarnation is a unique event in history which God has freely determined in His universal will of salvation. It is not an inculturation, and the inculturation of the Church is not an incarnation (IL 7;19;29;108). It was not Irenaeus of Lyon, in his 5th book of Adversus haereses (IL 113), but Gregory of Nazianzus who formulated the principle: “quod non est assumptum non est sanatum – that, which has not been assumed, is not redeemed either.” (Ep. 101, 32) What is meant here was the completeness of human nature against Apollinaris of Laodicea (315-390) who thought that the Logos in the Incarnation only assumed a nature, without a human soul. That is why the following sentence is completely abstruse “Cultural diversity calls for a more robust incarnation in order to embrace different ways of life and cultures.” (IL 113)

The Incarnation is not the principle of secondary cultural adaptation, but concretely and primarily also the principle of salvation in the “Church as Sacrament of salvation of the world in Christ” (Lumen Gentium 1:48), in the Church's Profession of Faith, in her Seven Sacraments, and in the episcopacy with the Pope at the head, in Apostolic succession.

Secondary rites from the traditions of the peoples can help to ingrain in culture the Sacraments, which are the means of salvation instituted by Christ. They may, however, not become independent, so that, for example suddenly marriage customs become more important than saying “I do” to the very Sacrament of Matrimony itself. The sacramental signs, as they have been instituted by Christ and the Apostles (word and material symbol), cannot be changed at any price. Baptism cannot be validly administered in any other way than in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and with natural water, and in the Eucharist, one may not replace with local food the bread made of wheat and the wine from the vine. That would not be inculturation, but an inadmissible interference with the will of Jesus as founder of the Church, and also would constitute a destruction of the unity of the Church at her sacramental center.

When inculturation here is referring to the secondary external celebration of divine worship and not to the Sacraments – which is ex opere operato, through the living Presence of Christ, the founder and true giver of Grace in these sacramental signs – then the following sentence is scandalous, or is at least thoughtless: “Without this inculturation the liturgy can be reduced to a ‘museum piece’ or ‘property of a select few.’” (IL 124)

God is not simply omnipresent and equally present in all religions, as if the Incarnation were merely a stereotypically Mediterranean phenomenon. In point of fact, God as Creator of the world is present as a whole and in each individual human heart (Acts 17:27seq) – even if the eyes of man are often blinded by sin, and his ears are deaf to God’s Love. But He comes by way of His Self-Revelation in the history of His chosen people Israel, and He comes very close to us ourselves in His Incarnate Word and in the Spirit which has been poured into our hearts. This self-communication of God as a Grace and life of each man is spread in the world by way of the Church’s proclamation of her life and her cult – that is to say, by way of the mission for this world according to the universal mandate of Christ.

But He already works with His helping and prevenient Grace also in the hearts of those men who do not yet know Him expressly and by name, so that, when they hear about Him in the Apostolic proclamation, they can identify Him as the Lord Jesus, in the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:3).

6. The Criterion of Discernment: the Historical Self-Communication of God in Jesus Christ

What is missing in the IL is a clear witness to the self-communication of God in the verbum incarnatum, to the sacramentality of the Church, to the Sacraments as objective means of Grace instead of mere self-referential symbols, to the supernatural character of Grace, for which reason the integrity of man does not just consist in communion with biological nature, but in the Divine Sonship and in the grace-filled communion with the Holy Trinity and for which reasons eternal life is the reward for the conversion to God, the reconciliation with Him, and not only with the environment and our common world.

One cannot reduce the notion of integral development to merely mean the provision of material resources. For man receives his new integrity only by way of perfection in Grace. We receive it presently in Baptism, whereby we become a new creature and children of God, and one day in the Beatific Vision in the community of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit and in communion with His saints. (1 John 1:3; 3:1 seq).

Rather than proposing an obscure approach comprised of vague religiosity and a futile attempt to turn Christianity into a science of salvation by sacralizing the cosmos, nature’s biodiversity and ecology, one must turn to the very center and origin of our Faith: “In His goodness and wisdom God chose to reveal Himself and to make known to us the hidden purpose of His will by which through Christ, the Word made flesh, man might in the Holy Spirit have access to the Father and come to share in the divine nature.” (Dei Verbum 2)

 

(Translator’s note: emphases in italics added for clarity.)

 

 

 

7/16/2019

Vatican City, Jul 16, 2019 / 08:27 am (CNA).- That the working document for October’s Synod of Bishops calls the Amazon region a source of revelation is a “false teaching,” Cardinal Gerhard Mueller said Tuesday.

If in the Instrumentum laboris of the Amazon synod, “a certain territory is being declared to be a ‘particular source of God’s Revelation,’ then one has to state that this is a false teaching,” the German cardinal said.

“For 2,000 years, the Catholic Church has infallibly taught that Holy Scripture and Apostolic Tradition are the only sources of Revelation and that no further Revelation can be added in the course of history,” he clarified.

Mueller’s analysis was simultaneously provided to CNA’s sister agency CNA Deutsch and several other news outlets, July 16. The working document for the special assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian region, which will take place in October, was published June 17.

In his seven-page response, Mueller said he believes in the goodwill and intention to promote the Catholic faith of those who prepared the Instrumentum laboris, but underlined what he sees as weaknesses in both form and content.  

He referenced paragraph 19 of the document, which says the Amazon, or another indigenous territory, is not only a geographical space, but “a quid or a what, a place of meaning for faith or the experience of God in history.”

“Thus,” the paragraph continues, “territory is a theological place where faith is lived, and also a particular source of God’s revelation: epiphanic places where the reserve of life and wisdom for the planet is manifest, a life and wisdom that speaks of God.”

Mueller compared this comment to what it says in Dei Verbum, Vatican II’s dogmatic constitution on divine revelation, that “we now await no further new public revelation.” He added that “Holy Scripture and Tradition are the only sources of Revelation.”

The cardinal said his main concern with the document is what he sees as an ambivalence in the definition of key terms and their general overuse. He lists, as examples, integral development, synodal path, and a Church reaching out.

Mueller also criticized the document’s reference to “Theologia indigena and the eco-theology.”

Theology is “the understanding of God’s revelation in His Word and in the Faith-Profession of the Church,” he said, not the “continuously new mixture of world feelings and world views…”

The Church should not, he argued, abandon the knowledge of classical and modern philosophy, of the Church Fathers, of modern theology, and of the Church Councils for the “Amazonian cosmovision.”

On the idea of inculturation of the liturgy in particular, Mueller warned of the importance of sacramental integrity. Inculturation can help “ingrain in culture the Sacraments,” but the sacramental signs themselves cannot be changed, he said. “That would not be inculturation, but an inadmissible interference with the will of Jesus as founder of the Church.”

Mueller said he believes every Catholic will agree with the pre-synod document’s desire for the men and women of the Amazon to not remain the object of colonialism and neo-colonialism.

“It is clear in Church, society, and state,” he said, “that the people who are living there – especially our Catholic brothers and sisters – are equal and free agents in their lives and work, their Faith and their morality, and this in our common responsibility before God.”

What he believes the Instrumentum laboris is missing, however, is “a clear witness to the self-communication of God in the verbum incarnatum, to the sacramentality of the Church, to the Sacraments as objective means of Grace instead of mere self-referential symbols…”

That “the integrity of man does not only consist of the unity with a bio-nature, but in the Divine Sonship and in the grace-filled communion with the Holy Trinity,” he explained, “not only with the environment and our shared world.”

“Due to the substantial unity of body and soul, man stands at the intersection of the fabric of spirit and matter,” he explained. “But the contemplation of the cosmos is only the occasion for the glorification of God and His wonderful work in nature and history. The cosmos, however, is not to be adored like God, but only the Creator Himself.”

“Instead of presenting an ambiguous approach with a vague religiosity and the futile attempt to turn Christianity into a science of salvation by sacralizing the cosmos and the biodiverse nature and ecology, it is about looking to the center and origin of our Faith,” he said, the Incarnation.

7/15/2019

Vatican City, Jul 15, 2019 / 11:49 am (CNA).- The prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development urged prayers Sunday for seafarers, fishermen, and maritime workers, by whose work some 90% of the world's goods are transported.

“Though we do not realize it, the work of seafarers is essential for our daily lives,” Cardinal Peter Turkson wrote in a message for “Sea Sunday,” July 14.

This is because “most of the possessions that we have in our houses, the television, the fridge, the washing machine, computer and phone, not to mention the fuel for our cars, the clothes we wear, and many other items are all made in distant parts of the world and brought to us by seafarers,” he said.

In his message, Turkson underlined the need to consider and reflect upon the importance seafarers and fishermen have on the comfort and well-being of others.

“The faithful are requested to remember and pray for the 1.5 million seafarers who criss-cross the oceans and the seas, transporting almost 90% of goods from one nation to another,” the cardinal said.

He noted that hazards faced by seafarers can include depression brought on by isolation and living in confined spaces, a delayed salary, exploitation, tough working conditions, threat of piracy or terrorist attack, and lack of proper rest.

Turkson acknowledged that with the ratification and implementation of some international legislation conditions aboard many vessels have improved, though he underlined that in some parts of the world, there are still “unscrupulous ship owners” who take advantage of a lack of law enforcement.

“In the faces of seafarers from different nations, I invite you to recognize the face of Christ in
your midst,” the cardinal said. “In the confusion of languages, I recommend you to speak the language of Christian love that welcomes everyone and excludes no one.”

In his message, Turkson praised the work of Apostleship of the Sea, or Stella Maris, a Catholic organization which provides pastoral care for seafarers and their families.

The organization will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2020, and will hold its world congress in Glasgow Sept. 29-Oct. 4 of that year. Glasgow was the location of the first meeting of Apostleship of the Sea in 1920, when they discussed a revival of ship-visiting in riverside parishes. The group’s constitution was approved by Pius XI in 1922.

Turkson said: “I would like to encourage the chaplains and volunteers of Stella Maris/Apostleship of the Sea during their daily ship visits to be vigilant and approach each seafarer and fisher with the same committed spirit that animated the pioneers of our ministry.”

The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development released a prayer for the occasion of “Sea Sunday.”

7/14/2019

Vatican City, Jul 14, 2019 / 05:36 am (CNA).- Helping a person in need requires compassion toward their situation, Pope Francis said Sunday, encouraging Catholics to think first about their own hardness of heart, not the sins of others.

“If you go down the street and see a homeless man lying there and you pass by without looking at him, or you think: ‘Eh, the effect of wine. He’s a drunk,’ do not ask yourself if that man is drunk, ask yourself if your heart has hardened, if your heart has become ice,” the pope said July 14.

The true “face of love,” he continued, is “mercy towards a human life in need. This is how one becomes a true disciple of Jesus.”

In his Sunday Angelus address, Pope Francis reflected on the parable of the Good Samaritan, which he called “one of the most beautiful parables of the Gospel.”

“This parable has become paradigmatic of the Christian life. It has become the model of how a Christian must act,” he said.

According to Pope Francis, the parable shows that having compassion is key. “If you do not feel pity before a needy person, if your heart is not moved, then something is wrong,” he warned. “Be careful.”

Quoting the Gospel of Luke, Francis said: “‘Be merciful, as your Father is merciful.’ God, our Father, is merciful, because he has compassion; he is capable of having this compassion, of approaching our pain, our sin, our vices, our miseries.”

The pope noted a detail of the parable of the Good Samaritan, which is that the Samaritan was considered an unbeliever. Jesus uses a man of no faith as a model, he said, because this man, in “loving his brother as himself, shows that he loves God with all his heart and with all his strength – the God he did not know!”

“May the Virgin Mary,” Francis prayed, “help us to understand and above all to live more and more the unbreakable bond that exists between love for God our Father and concrete and generous love for our brothers, and give us the grace to have compassion and grow in compassion.”

After the Angelus, the pope reiterated his desire to be close to the Venezuelan people, who he said are facing trials in the continued crisis in the country.

“We pray the Lord will inspire and enlighten the parties involved, so that they can, as soon as possible, reach an agreement that puts an end to the suffering of the people for the good of the country and the entire region,” he said.

 

7/14/2019

Vatican City, Jul 14, 2019 / 04:35 am (CNA).- Cardinal Paolo Sardi, who served under five popes, died Saturday at Gemelli Hospital in Rome after a short illness.

The 84-year-old Piemontese cardinal had been retired from his work in the Secretariat of State, where he coordinated the office which edits papal speeches and texts.

He most recently had served as pro-patron and then patron of the Sovreign Military Order of the Knights of Malta, a position he held from June 2009 to November 2014.

In a letter of condolence to members of Sardi's family July 14, Pope Francis praised the cardinal's "priestly spirit, his theological preparation, his gifts of intelligence and wisdom... through which he has given a valuable contribution to the magisteriums of St. Paul VI, John Paul I, St. John Paul II, and Benedict XVI."

Thanking God for Sardi's witness in his service to the Holy See, Francis said he joins his prayers to those of the many Catholics who would join the cardinal at his daily Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, often said at the altar of St. Pope John XXIII.

"Faithful to his episcopal motto, 'Esto Vigilans,' he has been good and vigilant, therefore we hope that, accompanied by the Virgin Mary, the saints Peter and Paul, and the Holy Bishop Guido of Acqui, he will be welcomed into the eternal reward of heaven," the pope prayed.

In 2012, Sardi was accused alongside two others, in an article in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, of being complicit in the leaking of sensitive papal information to the media, in the event now referred to as "Vatileaks."

At the time of the article's publication, the Vatican denied the claims, releasing a statement from the Secretariat of State expressing "firm and total disapproval of those publications, which are not based on objective criteria and seriously damage the honor of the people concerned, who have served the Holy Father faithfully for many years."

Then-papal spokesperson Fr. Federico Lombardi confirmed Sardi and the others were called to testify before a commission, but emphasized that it in no way indicated suspicion of "shared responsibility or 'complicity.'"

Sardi, who was born in the northern Italian town of Ricaldone in 1934, used to say that above all, his parents, who raised him to have a deep faith, taught him "humility and honesty." He also had the example of several priests in his extended family.

Sardi studied at a local seminary and in Rome at the Pontifical Gregorian University, where he received a license in theology. He was ordained a priest in 1958.

Sardi returned to Rome to study canon law, finishing a degree in 1963. He then taught moral theology at a seminary in the diocese of Acqui while serving at various parishes.

He later attended the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan for a degree in jurisprudence, continuing to teach moral theology at a seminary in Turin.

During this time he wrote a book on the history of the Church's teaching on abortion.

In 1976, Sardi was asked to come to the Vatican to work in the Secretariat of State in the section for general affairs. He was made head of an office in 1990 and in 1992 became vice assessor, coordinating the office which collaborates in the editing of the pope's speeches and texts.

He was ordained a bishop by St. Pope John Paul II in 1997, who said in his homily: "I pray for you, Mons. Sardi, that, named apostolic nuncio with special assignments, you will continue to yet work beside me in the Secretariat of State. I congratulate you for the service performed until now, I wish you to continue in the same way, with the same zeal."

From October 2004 to January 2011 Sardi served as Vice-Camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church.

He was made a cardinal by Benedict XVI in a November 2010 consistory.

7/13/2019

Vatican City, Jul 13, 2019 / 08:37 am (CNA).- The Vatican has found two ossuaries believed to maybe belong to the German noblewomen whose tombs were found empty earlier this week.

According to Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti, the ossuaries will be opened for testing July 20, in order to determine if they belong to Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe and Duchess Charlotte Frederica, who both died in the 19th century.

The women's tombs and monuments, located in the Teutonic cemetery on Vatican extra-territorial property adjacent to Vatican City State, were opened July 11 in an attempt to find a clue to the 1983 disappearance of an Italian teen, Emanuela Orlandi.

That the tombs were found empty of any human remains, including the women supposedly buried there, was considered an unseen twist in the mystery of the missing Orlandi.

Gisotti said July 13 documents had been found confirming that in the 1960s and 1970s an extensive renovation of the Teutonic College and the cemetery was carried out.

Staff examined the rooms of the college adjacent to the empty tombs, finding two ossuaries placed under the pavement via hatches in the floor.

"These were immediately sealed for subsequent examination and detection of the bone materials lying therein," Gisotti stated. The ossuaries are scheduled to be opened on the morning of July 20, in the presence of scientific experts.

Emanuela Orlandi was the daughter of an envoy of the Prefecture of the Pontifical House and a citizen of Vatican City State. Her disappearance at age 15 has been one of Italy's biggest unsolved mysteries and the subject of international intrigue, including suspicion about the Vatican’s role, since it occurred.

7/11/2019

Vatican City, Jul 11, 2019 / 10:35 am (CNA).- The opening of two tombs on Vatican property revealed both graves to be completely empty, providing no answers in the unsolved disappearance of an Italian girl 36 years ago, the Vatican reported Thursday.

“The research has given negative results: no human findings or funerary urns were found,” stated Holy See spokesman Alessandro Gisotti July 11.

The tombs, located on Vatican extra-territorial property adjacent to Vatican City State, were opened in an attempt to find a clue to the 1983 vanishing of Emanuela Orlandi.

Orlandi was the daughter of an envoy of the Prefecture of the Pontifical House and a citizen of Vatican City State. Her disappearance at age 15 has been the subject of international intrigue, including suspicion about the Vatican’s role, since it occurred.

The Vatican authorized the opening of the graves after a request by Orlandi’s family, which had last year received an anonymous letter suggesting a clue could be found near a large statue of an angel in the Teutonic College cemetery.

The tombs opened were those of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe, who died in 1836, and Duchess Charlotte Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who died in 1840.

Charlotte's monument bears an inscription indicating it was erected in 1848 by her son, Frederick VII of Denmark.

According to Gisotti, von Hohenlohe’s tomb revealed an empty underground compartment of approximately 13 by 12 feet. The opening of the sarcophagus of Charlotte also revealed no human remains. Relatives of both women were informed of the discovery.

The Vatican’s next step following the discovery, Gisotti explained, will be to look into documentation about structural renovations that took place in the cemetery at the end of the 1800s and in the 1960s and ‘70s.

The opening of the graves was performed by the Vatican construction staff and overseen by a forensic anthropologist and his team, the Vatican gendarmerie, and by the Vatican tribunal’s promoter of justice.

Members of Orlandi’s family, and their lawyer, were also present.

7/10/2019

Vatican City, Jul 10, 2019 / 10:06 am (CNA).- Authorities will open two tombs in a cemetery on Vatican property Thursday in order to perform testing in connection with the unsolved disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi in June 1983.

Orlandi was the daughter of an envoy of the Prefecture of the Pontifical House and a citizen of Vatican City State. Her disappearance has been the subject of international intrigue, including suspicion about the Vatican’s role, since it occurred. After multiple investigations, Orlandi’s case was closed in 2016.

The exhumation of the tombs in the cemetery of the Teutonic College, located on Vatican extra-territorial property adjacent to Vatican City State, was authorized after a request by Orlandi’s family.

According to Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, the mother and brother of Orlandi requested the tombs be opened after receiving an anonymous message claiming the graves near a large statue of a pointing angel could contain clues to the 15-year-old girl’s disappearance.

Interim director of the Holy See press office, Alessandro Gisotti, stated last week the exhumation will take place July 11 in the presence of the case’s lawyers and Orlandi’s relatives and the relatives of the people buried in the graves concerned.

The opening of the tombs will be overseen by a forensic anthropologist and by the Vatican gendarmerie. Gisotti said that as the Vatican has no jurisdiction over the investigation of Orlandi’s case, the exhumation and forensic and DNA testing will be performed only in order to determine if Orlandi’s body was buried on Vatican property.

Speculation about Orlandi's disappearance reignited last October when human bone fragments were discovered during the renovation of a building connected to the Holy See’s nunciature in Rome, though DNA testing found the remains to be from a male who died sometime between the 1st and 3rd centuries.

The tombs to be opened are those of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe, who died in 1836, and Duchess Charlotte Frederica of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, who died in 1840.