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1/15/2019

Vatican City, Jan 15, 2019 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- The finalization of a Curial reform process, a reshuffle in some Vatican positions, and an eventual consistory to “refill” the College of Cardinals might be among Pope Francis’ key moves in 2019.
 
As all eyes are set on the Vatican anti-abuse meeting, to be held Feb. 21-24, Pope Francis is in fact engaged in ongoing to reshape the Roman Curia and the College of Cardinals.
 
The first of the pope’s likely key moves has to do with the College of Cardinals.
 
After the death of Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, there is no cardinal camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church. The camerlengo is chosen by the pope only, and holds is a very delicate position, especially during a sede vacante in the papacy.
 
When the pope dies, or renounces his seat, “the Camerlengo of Holy Roman Church has the duty of safeguarding and administering the goods and temporal rights of the Holy See, with the help of the three cardinal assistants, having sought the views of the College of Cardinals, once only for less important matters, and on each occasion when more serious matters arise,” according to the apostolic constitution Pastor bonus.
 
In general, the camerlengo oversees an office of the papal household that administers the property and revenues of the Holy See.
 
If the pope doesl not appoint a camerlengo, the cardinals will elect one at the beginning of the sede vacante.
 
However, Pope Francis might refrain from appointing a new camerlengo before he promulgates a long-awaited apostolic constitution on Vatican governance, Predicate evangelium, which is expected to reshape the offices of the Roman Curia.
 
There are rumors, in fact, that Pope Francis is going to abolish the pontifical household, including its office within the first section of the Secretariat of State.

According to a CNA source familiar with the subject, the idea has been suggested, though the shutdown of the pontifical household does not appear to be imminent.
 
The abolition of the pontifical household will bring some issues to be solved, since all the competencies of the pontifical household might be divided into other offices: the Sistine Chapel choir would go under the administration of the office for liturgical celebrations, the management of state visits would be placed under the protocol of the Secretariat of State, and so on. It is yet to clarified.
 
However, the decision would mark a major break with the past. The pontifical household is the direct legacy of the pontifical court, and its presence recalls the religious meaning behind any papal activity.
 
The rumors about the pontifical household also involve Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the prefect. Ganswein was appointed to the position in 2012 by Benedict XVI. He is now in his  second 5-year term at the helm of the prefecture, while maintaining his position as particular secretary to the Pope Emeritus Benedict.
 
However, discontinuing the prefecture would prompt Pope Francis to find Ganswein a new position. One of the more widespread rumors is that Ganswein will be appointed secretary of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, to replace Archbishop Marcello Bartolucci. Bartolucci will turn the retirement age, 75, in April.

Ganswein could also be eligible to take a position within the Congregation for Divine Worship. It is noteworthy that Cardinal Robert Sarah, the prefect, will end his five-year mandate in November, and it is possible the composition of the congregation’s top ranks will be reshuffled at that time.
 
Another key move in the Roman Curia might be the shutdown of the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei. Established in 1988 by St. John Paul II in order to carry on a dialogue with traditionalist parties, the commission was reformed by Benedict XVI with a 2009 instruction Universae Ecclesiae, linking the commission to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
 
Pope Francis may shut down the commission, making it an office within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
 
If the shutdown takes place, the pope will have to find a new post for Archbishop Guido Pozzo, the commission’s president.
 
The shutdown of both the pontifical household and Ecclesia Dei would be part of the wider project for Curia reform.
 
At the moment, Praedicate evangelium, that is, the new constitution that will regulate tasks and competencies of Curia offices, is being finalized. Pope Francis will likely want to make an overall revision of the text.
 
However, most of the structural reforms are already in place: Pope Francis has established the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, merging there the Pontifical Councils for Laity and Family and a part of the competency of the Pontifical Academy for Life; he established the dicatery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, that absorbed the Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace, Migrants, Cor Unum, and for Health Care Workers.
 
Under Pope Francis, the Secretariat for the Economy and the Council for the Economy have been set up, while the reform of the communication department led to the establishment of the Secretariat for Communication, now a dicastery.
 
It seems that, at the moment, the other curial offices will not be touched. Cardinal Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, is 76 now, so he has surpassed the usual retirement age. Pope Francis, however, confirmed him at the helm of the dicastery until his 80th birthday. No changes are to be expected there, then.
 
The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue is without a leader since Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, the president, died in July 2018. It is still uncertain whether the pope will appoint a new president or will merge the pontifical council with another Curia office.
 
While undergoing these major structural changes, it likely Pope Francis will hold another consistory for the creation of new cardinals during this year.
 
Cardinals are eligible to vote in a conclave when they are under 80. At the moment, there are 124 cardinals who are eligible to vote in a conclave. Out of these, 59 have been created by Pope Francis in five consistories, an average of one consistory per year.
 
During this year, there will be 10 cardinals that will turn 80, and will not be eligible to vote  in a papal conclave anymore. Out of these 10, three were made cardinals by Pope Francis.
 
The cardinals aging-out are: Alberto Suarez Inda, Orlando Beltran Quevedo, Edwin O’Brien, Stanislaw Dzwisiz, John Tong Hon, Sean Baptist Brady, Laurent Mosengwo Pasinya, Zenon Grocholewski, Edoardo Menichelli, and Telesphore Placidus Toppo.
 
By October there will be only 114 cardinals eligible to vote in a conclave, six less than the maximum permitted number of voting cardinals, which was set at 120 by St. Pope Paul VI – Pope Francis made an exception to this number at the last consistory.
 
All odds say that Pope Francis will hold another consistory, naming new cardinals during 2019. Who will receive new red hats is not foreseen.
 
It is noteworthy that Archbishop Filippo Iannone, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, and Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for  Promoting the New Evangelization, are the only heads of dicasteries without red birettas.
 
And it is noteworthy that Ireland’s only living representative in the College of Cardinals will age out of voting eligibility. So,  the pope might consider  another Irish cardinal.
 
However, it is also possible the pope will reward some of the periphery Churches, sticking to the point that all the Church must be represented in the College of Cardinals.
 
So by the end of 2019, the Roman Curia and College of Cardinals might be completely made in Pope Francis image. And it would be the first time since the beginning of his pontificate.

 

1/15/2019

Vatican City, Jan 15, 2019 / 11:12 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis approved Tuesday the next step in the canonization causes of 17 women from four countries, including the martyrdom of 14 religious sisters killed in Spain at the start of the Spanish Civil War.

After meeting with the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, Jan. 15, the pope gave his approval to the declaration of the martyrdom of Sr. Maria del Carmen and 13 companions, all religious sisters of the Order of Franciscan Conceptionists, who were killed in Madrid in 1936.

Francis also approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of the Swiss laywoman Bl. Marguerite Bays, paving the way for her canonization in 2019.

Bays, who was born in La Pierraz, Switzerland in 1815, was a member of the Secular Franciscan Order. She never married but gave her life to the needs of the people of her parish and neighborhood, especially the sick and dying, children and young girls, and the poor, whom she called “God’s favorites.”

After developing intestinal cancer at the age of 35, Bays asked Our Lady to intercede that her suffering from cancer would be exchanged for a suffering more directly connected to the suffering of Christ at his Passion.

The holy woman was miraculously healed of the cancer Dec. 8, 1854, the day Bl. Pius IX declared the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. After the healing, Bays began to experience a sort-of ecstatic immobilization every Friday, where she would relive physically and spiritually the events of Christ's passion. Bays also received the stigmata.

Bays’ deep devotion to prayer, which had been a focus of her life since childhood, included a strong love for the Blessed Virgin Mary and for praying the rosary. She also loved the Eucharist and spent many hours in adoration.

Bays died at 3:00pm, on Friday, June 27, 1879, and was beatified by St. John Paul II in 1995.

Two women were also declared Venerable Jan. 15: Anna Kaworek, a Pole and cofounder of the Congregation of Sisters of St. Michael the Archangel (1872-1936); Maria Soledad Sanjurjo Santos (religious name Maria Consolata), a sister of the Congregation of the Servants of Mary Ministers of the Infirm (1892-1973) from Puerto Rico.

1/15/2019

Vatican City, Jan 15, 2019 / 06:45 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Dialogue with society for the protection of human dignity and the common good, which are under threat, Pope Francis said in a letter to the Pontifical Academy for Life, published Tuesday.

“We know that the threshold of basic respect for human life is being crossed, and brutally at that, not only by instances of individual conduct but also by the effects of societal choices and structures,” the pope wrote.

In an over 3,000-word letter to the president of the Vatican’s life academy, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, Francis encouraged the group to be a place “for courageous dialogue in the service of the common good.”

As never before, he said, business strategies and the pace of technological development is influencing “biomedical research, educational priorities, investment decisions and the quality of interpersonal relationships.”

A love for creation, deepened and illuminated by faith, has “the possibility of directing economic development and scientific progress towards the covenant between man and woman, towards caring for our common humanity and towards the dignity of the human person,” he said.

Sent for the 25th anniversary of the academy’s institution, the letter urged active participation in the intercultural, interdisciplinary, and interreligious discussion of human rights. “At stake is the understanding and exercise of a justice that demonstrates the essential role of responsibility in the discussion of human rights,” duties, and solidarity with those in need, he said.

The pope’s letter also commented on the need for the Church to study “emergent” and “convergent” technologies, such as formation and communication technologies, biotechnologies, nanotechnologies and robotics.

Due to advancements in physics, genetics, neuroscience and computing, it is now possible to make “profound interventions on living organisms,” he said, which creates a “pressing need” to understand “these epochal changes and new frontiers” in order to put them at the service of the human person while “respecting and promoting the intrinsic dignity of all.”

Pope Francis noted that Pope St. John Paul II’s institution of the academy on Feb. 11, 1994, was, as he wrote at the time, to promote research, education, and communications which show “that science and technology, at the service of the human person and his fundamental rights, contribute to the overall good of man and to the fulfilment of the divine plan of salvation.”

The Pontifical Academy for Life’s new statutes, adopted in October 2016, were intended to give a “renewed impetus” to this task and to engagement with contemporary issues surrounding technological and scientific advancement, he explained.

“It is time,” he wrote, “for a new vision aimed at promoting a humanism of fraternity and solidarity between individuals and peoples,” knowing that they are not completely closed off “to the seeds of faith and the works of this universal fraternity sown by the Gospel of the kingdom of God.”

Fraternity must continue to be emphasized, the letter continues. “It is one thing to resign oneself to seeing life as a battle against constant foes, but something entirely different to see our human family as a sign of the abundant life of God the Father and the promise of a common destiny redeemed by the infinite love that even now sustains it in being.”

Pope Francis also praised the 25-year history of the academy, which he said has shown a “constant effort to protect and promote human life and every stage of its development,” condemning abortion and euthanasia as “extremely grave evils.”

“These efforts must certainly continue, with an eye to emerging issues and challenges that can serve as an opportunity for us to grow in the faith, to understand it more deeply and to communicate it more effectively to the people of our time,” he said.

 

1/14/2019

Vatican City, Jan 14, 2019 / 04:05 am (CNA).- A former papal representative to the U.S. has written an open letter to Archbishop Theodore McCarrick that urges the archbishop to repent publicly of the sexual abuse and misconduct of which he stands accused.

“You, paradoxically, have at your disposal an immense offer of great hope for you from the Lord Jesus; you are in a position to do great good for the Church.  In fact, you are now in a position to do something that has become more important for the Church than all of the good things you did for her throughout your entire life,” wrote Archbishop Carlo Vigano in a Jan. 13 letter to McCarrick.
 
“A public repentance on your part would bring a significant measure of healing to a gravely wounded and suffering Church.  Are you willing to offer her that gift?  Christ died for us all when we were still sinners (Rom. 5: 8).  He only asks that we respond by repenting and doing the good that we are given to do.”
 
McCarrick, 88, has been accused in recent months of sexually abusing at least two adolescent boys, and of engaging for decades in coercive sexual behavior toward priests and seminarians. The allegations were first made public in June 2018, when the Archdiocese of New York reported that it deemed credible an allegation that McCarrick sexually abused a teenage boy in the 1970s, while serving as a New York priest.

In July 2018, Pope Francis accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals.

Vigano’s letter noted that McCarrick is subject to an administrative canonical process overseen by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. A verdict is expected shortly from that process. If he is found guilty, McCarrick is expected to be dismissed from the clerical state.

“No matter what decision the supreme authority of the Church takes in your case, what really matters and what has saddened those who love you and pray for you is the fact that throughout these months you haven’t given any sign of repentance.”  

“I am among those who are praying for your conversion, that you may repent and ask pardon of your victims and the Church,” Vigano wrote.

The letter, issued on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, is the most recent in a string of letters Vigano has issued publicly in recent months, beginning with a “testimony” the archbishop published on Aug. 25, 2018. That letter alleged that McCarrick’s alleged sexual misconduct had been known to some Vatican officials for years, eventually leading to a restriction on the archbishop’s ministry by Pope Benedict XVI in the late 2000s, and a subsequent restoration of McCarrick’s place as a papal advisor by Pope Francis.

Vigano’s August “testimony” set off a flurry of debate, especially as numerous Vatican and U.S. Church officials weighed in on the veracity of the archbishop’s charges. Amid that debate, Vigano issued additional letters, as did other ecclesial officials, including Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, who in October 2018 accused Vigano of sowing confusion and division in the Church. Vigano responded to that charge by arguing that he was acting for the good of the Church.

Since they first emerged, Pope Francis has maintained that he will not respond to the charges of the Vigano letters, and instead has encouraged journalists to investigate their allegations.  

To date, some aspects of Vigano’s testimonial seem to have been verified, while other aspects remain controversial or unproven, and some have proven to have been exaggerated, overstated, or unlikely.

Vigano’s most recent letter, however, differs from his recent writings, in that it focuses entirely on spiritual affairs, and is directed at McCarrick, who maintains his innocence, and is now living in a Franciscan friary in Kansas.

“I implore you, repent publicly of your sins, so as to make the Church rejoice and present yourself before the tribunal of Our Lord cleansed by His blood. Please, do not make His sacrifice on the cross void for you. Christ, Our Good Lord, continues to love you. Put your entire trust in His Sacred Heart. And pray to Mary, as I and many others are doing, asking her to intercede for the salvation of your soul,” Vigano concluded.

“Time is running out, but you can confess and repent of your sins, crimes and sacrileges, and do so publicly, since they have themselves become public. Your eternal salvation is at stake.”

 

Full text:

Dear Archbishop McCarrick,

As has been reported as a news by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the accusations against you for crimes against minors and abuses against seminarians are going to be examined and judged very soon with an administrative procedure.

No matter what decision the supreme authority of the Church takes in your case, what really matters and what has saddened those who love you and pray for you is the fact that throughout these months you haven’t given any sign of repentance.  I am among those who are praying for your conversion, that you may repent and ask pardon of your victims and the Church.

Time is running out, but you can confess and repent of your sins, crimes and sacrileges, and do so publicly, since they have themselves become public. Your eternal salvation is at stake.

But something else of great importance is also at stake. You, paradoxically, have at your disposal an immense offer of great hope for you from the Lord Jesus; you are in a position to do great good for the Church.  In fact, you are now in a position to do something that has become more important for the Church than all of the good things you did for her throughout your entire life.

A public repentance on your part would bring a significant measure of healing to a gravely wounded and suffering Church.  Are you willing to offer her that gift?  Christ died for us all when we were still sinners (Rom. 5: 8).  He only asks that we respond by repenting and doing the good that we are given to do.  The good that you are in a position to do now is to offer the Church your sincere and public repentance.  Will you give the Church that gift?

I implore you, repent publicly of your sins, so as to make the Church rejoice and present yourself before the tribunal of Our Lord cleansed by His blood. Please, do not make His sacrifice on the cross void for you. Christ, Our Good Lord, continues to love you. Put your entire trust in His Sacred Heart. And pray to Mary, as I and many others are doing, asking her to intercede for the salvation of your soul.

“Maria Mater Gratiae, Mater Misericordiae, Tu nos ab hoste protege et mortis hora suscipeʺ. Mary Mother of the Grace, Mother of Mercy, protect us from the enemy and welcome us in the hour of death.

Your brother in Christ,
+ Carlo Maria Viganò

Sunday, January 13, 2019
The Baptism of the Lord
Saint Hilary of Poitiers

 

 

1/13/2019

Vatican City, Jan 13, 2019 / 05:38 am (CNA/EWTN News).- At Mass in the Sistine Chapel Sunday, Pope Francis baptized 27 babies, reminding their parents that the first space in which children learn and witness the faith is at home.

“Yes, when they go to catechism class, they will study the faith well, they will learn catechesis,” he said Jan. 13. “But before being studied, faith must be transmitted, and this is a job that is up to you.”

Preparing to baptize the 27 babies – 15 girls and 12 boys – Francis urged their parents “to transmit the faith by example, by words, by teaching [them] to make the sign of the Cross. This is important.”

“The important thing is to transmit the faith with your life of faith: that they see the love of the spouses, that they see the peace of the house, that they see that Jesus is there,” he said.

Francis gave the brief, impromptu homily during Mass for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, when there is a tradition of baptizing a group of babies in the Sistine Chapel, a custom started by Pope St. John Paul II.

In his homily, he said that it is the parents’ task to pass the faith along to their children, beginning at home, “because faith must always be transmitted ‘in dialect:’ the dialect of the family, the dialect of the house, in the atmosphere of the home.”

Asking if he could give a little advice, he went on to urge the couples not to fight in front of their children. He noted that it is perfectly normal for a husband and wife to quarrel but recommended trying to keep arguments out of the view and hearing of their kids.

“This, I dare, is a piece of advice that will help you pass on the faith,” he said.

The pope also commented on the “chorus of tears,” that could be heard coming from the over two dozen babies in the chapel and said mothers should not be ashamed to breastfeed if their child is hungry.

“And so, we go forward in this ceremony, in peace, with the awareness that the transmission of the faith is your responsibility,” he said.

Following Mass, the pope reflected on the Baptism of Christ before leading the Angelus, noting that before Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan river took place, he was “in the midst of the people.”

This element of the story “is not only a background of the scene, but is an essential component of the event,” he said. “Before plunging into the water, Jesus ‘plunges’ into the crowd, joins it and fully assumes the human condition, sharing everything except sin.”

“In his divine holiness, full of grace and mercy, the Son of God became flesh to take upon himself and take away the sin of the world,” he continued.

Explaining that Jesus’ baptism marks the start of his public life and mission, Francis noted that the mission of the Church and each person to be “faithful and fruitful,” calls for a “grafting” onto the mission of Jesus.

“It is a matter of continuously regenerating evangelization and apostolate in prayer, to make a clear Christian witness. Not according to human projects, but according to God’s plan and style,” he said.

“The feast of the Baptism of the Lord is a favorable opportunity to renew with gratitude and conviction the promises of our Baptism, committing ourselves to live daily in harmony with it.”

 

1/12/2019

Vatican City, Jan 12, 2019 / 06:01 am (CNA).- The Vatican announced Thursday the start of the first official sports association inside of the small city-state, including among its membership two young African migrants living in Italy, to show how sport can aid integration.

The migrant members of the Athletica Vaticana sports team, which also consists of Vatican citizens and employees of the Holy See, are guests of the Auxilium cooperative in Castelnuovo di Porto, where Pope Francis celebrated Holy Thursday Mass in 2016.

Under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for Culture, the group’s main sport for the time being is running, and it participates in marathons including Rome’s annual “Via Pacis” half-marathon, an inter-religious event which also benefits the poor through the pope’s charity office.

To aid in evangelization, the team composed a “Prayer of the Marathoner,” which was translated into 37 languages, including Arabic and Swahili, and printed onto an image of a 4th-century fresco of an athlete from one of Rome’s catacombs. They distribute the cards at the starting line of competitions. They have also promoted the celebration of Mass before races.

“Effectively, authentic sport is part of one of the basic components of the human being,” the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, told journalists at a press conference Jan. 10. “The history of culture always had a connection with sport.”

Participation is open to men and women of all ages (and their immediate family members) who are working for the Vatican in some capacity, including priests and religious. Members range in age from 19 to 62.

The team is comprised of around 60 people associated with the Vatican in capacities ranging from Swiss Guard to employee of the Vatican Pharmacy to members of the Roman Curia. Members also include Vatican firefighters and gendarmerie, service technicians, Vatican Museums employees, and a professor of the Apostolic Library.

The association came about in an organic manner, according to its leaders, since an informal community of Vatican employees had already been running together on a path along the Tiber River some early mornings before work.

Athletica Vaticana also has the participation of athletes with disabilities as “honorary members” through partnerships with two Italian Paralympics organizations.

Msgr. Melchor Sánchez de Toca, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Culture and president of the new sports association, stated that the collaboration between Athletica Vaticana and disabled athletes has a cultural value and, “as Pope Francis teaches, it aims at encouraging a change of mentality and actions even within the Church itself to meet people with disabilities.”

1/11/2019

Vatican City, Jan 11, 2019 / 07:57 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican announced Friday that Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Vatican communications department, has amended the organizational structure of the Holy See Press Office to include a senior advisor, two assistants, and an office manager.

The positions are in support of the press office director and will remain in place beyond the mandate of Alessandro Gisotti, who was named to the position on an interim basis after the sudden departure of Greg Burke and his vice director Paloma Garcia Ovejero Dec. 31.

The new appointees come from diverse geographic backgrounds, as two hail from the United States, one from Peru, and the fourth is French-Italian.

In comments to journalists Jan. 11, Gisotti pointed to this fact, underlining the “internationality” of the new supporting team, which he called “very, very important.” He said that collectively the new staff members come with significant experience working at Vatican Radio and have “a history of collaboration with the press office.”

Gisotti emphasized that there is no “Italian team” or any team of a particular nationality, saying, “we are trying to be the ‘Holy See team’ serving the Church and the Holy Father.”

Romilda Ferrauto will serve as senior advisor to the director. She told journalists Jan. 11 that while she cannot give official statements, she is at the disposal of Vatican journalists, and is happy to hear their concerns and perspectives.

Ferrauto has over 20 years’ experience at Vatican Radio, including as the manager of the French section. She also served as an assistant to the press office during the last five general assemblies of the Synod of Bishops.

Sr. Bernadette M. Reis, a religious sister of the Daughters of St. Paul, joins the press office as an assistant to the director. Reis, who hails from the United States, is a journalist for Vatican News and a consultant for the Communication Commission of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG).

Peruvian Raúl Cabrera Pérez, a long-time Vatican Radio journalist, was also appointed assistant to the director. Most recently, he collaborated with the information commission for the Synod of Bishops on Young People in October 2018.

American Thaddeus M. Jones, a member of the coordinating team in the Vatican News Portal Office and a former official of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication, was appointed office manager.

Gisotti told journalists that as his leadership of the press office is for now “ad interim,” there will be no vice director appointment at this time.

He expressed his desire that the intermediary period would be a short one and that the Holy See Press Office would return to normal as quickly as possible, adding that, in reality, it will be a “new normal.”

For the future, another objective, he said, is to better coordinate with Vatican Media, the news branch of the Dicastery for Communications.

On the resignations of Burke and Ovejero, Gisotti noted that the former director is his friend, and that he has known Ovejero since she arrived in Rome, but that he had no comment on their exit or the reasons behind it.

He added that the two were with him the entire day following their resignation to assist in the transfer of duties.

1/11/2019

Vatican City, Jan 11, 2019 / 03:53 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican confirmed Friday that Pope Francis will travel to Romania to the cities of Bucharest, Iaşi, and Blaj, and to a Marian shrine in eastern Transylvania, at the end of May and beginning of June.

The trip is set for May 31 to June 2 and will include a stop at a Marian shrine located in the Șumuleu Ciuc neighborhood of the city of Miercurea Ciuc, which is in a Hungarian ethno-cultural region of Romania.

CNA reported in November that Pope Francis had told the Romanian bishops during their ad limina meeting Nov. 9 that he would be visiting their country this year, though the precise date was not confirmed at the time.

Francis' visit to the country follows exactly 20 years after Pope St. John Paul II was the first pope to go to Romania in 1999.

The motto of the visit is “Let’s Walk Together.” The trip’s logo, in blue and gold, depicts a group of Romanian people walking beneath an image of Our Lady, which according to a statement from the Holy See Press Office, evokes the Virgin Mary’s care and protection of the Romanian people.

The press office also noted that Romania has often been called “the garden of the Mother of God,” which is a phrase also used by Pope St. John Paul II during his visit to the country.

“The visit of Pope Francis takes up this Marian accent, inviting everyone to join forces under the protective mantle of the Madonna,” the statement continued.

As of 2011, the Catholics in Romania numbered 870,774; making up 4.3 percent of the population. The Catholic Church is the second largest denomination after the Romanian Orthodox Church.

The Romanian bishops’ conference is composed of 17 bishops, including both bishops of Roman Catholic dioceses and Greek Catholic dioceses, that is, dioceses of the Byzantine rite.

The pope will be in Romania just one week before the Feast of Pentecost, which is for many Romanian and Hungarian people an important day of pilgrimage to the Șumuleu Ciuc neighborhood.

The pilgrimage is made in commemoration of the Catholic Szekely population’s resistance to pressure from the Hungarian King John II Sigismund Zapolya to convert to Protestantantism. The group refused to abandon the Catholic faith and emerged victorious in a battle which took place on the Saturday before Pentecost in 1567.

1/10/2019

Vatican City, Jan 10, 2019 / 11:59 am (CNA).- The Synod of Bishops released Thursday an English translation of the final document of the 2018 session on young people, faith, and vocational discernment. The document encourages young people to seek an authentic encounter with God, instead of adopting a morally relativistic outlook on life.

The document highlights the spiritual and religious experiences of young people around the world, both in and outside of the Church, noting that in many places “forms of alternative religiosity are on the rise.” It also held out the authentic Christian experience of many young people as a witness of faith and hope to their peers.

“The youth help to enrich what the Church is and not only what she does. They are her present and not only her future,” the synod fathers wrote.

The synod met for more than three weeks in October for its fifteenth ordinary general session, and published the original text of its conclusions on Oct. 27. The document was released in English by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops on Thursday.

During the meeting, synod fathers were joined in Rome by young people and religious form around the world who participated in the session as auditors.

“The religious experience of the young is strongly influenced by the social and cultural context in which they live,” the document states.

The synod fathers noted that, while in some places the Church and faith were present as a “strong and lively community experience, in which the young participate with joy,” this was not so everywhere.

“In other areas of ancient Christian tradition, the majority of the Catholic population does not experience a real sense of belonging to the Church,” the document said. Instead, many young people were disillusioned with the very concept of religious practice.

Nevertheless, the fathers said, there remains a common pursuit for meaning and truth in the lives of young people everywhere.

Often, those averse to the idea of “religion” are still drawn to other forms of “spirituality.” While reflecting a search for the truth, the document warned that these efforts were often diverted into lesser kinds spiritual satisfaction and missed to opportunity for an authentic relationship with God.

“This attention [to the spiritual], though, can sometimes take the form of a search for psychological well-being rather than openness to encounter with the Mystery of the living God,” the fathers wrote.

The synod’s report highlighted the danger of moral and religious relativism replacing faith and a relationship with Christ through the Church.

“Particularly in some cultures, many see religion as a private matter and they choose from a variety of spiritual traditions those elements in which they find their own convictions mirrored.  There thus spreads a certain syncretism, which develops on the relativistic assumption that all religions are equal,” the report said.

When the faith is lived within a deeply relativistic culture, the fathers wrote, membership of the Church can be “accompanied and sometimes replaced by ideologies or by the cult of success in professional and economic terms, with a view to material self-fulfilment.”

“In Christian communities we sometimes risk proposing, even without intending it, an ethical and therapeutic theism, which responds to the human need for security and comfort, rather than a living encounter with God in the light of the Gospel and in the strength of the Spirit.”

The synod fathers echoed the recent work of Christian Smith, professor of sociology at the University of Notre Dame.

In his book "Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers," Smith argued that the dominant religion among American teenagers is “moralistic therapeutic deism,” in which God is understood as a benevolent creator who, while wanting people to treat each other well, is generally uninvolved in their day-to-day lives.

This impersonal conception of God, Smith said, means that the “central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.”

Recognizing that the fullness of human fulfillment comes from an authentic personal experience of the living God, the synod fathers said that authentic communities of faith were needed to lead people out of moral and religious relativism.

“If it is true that life is awakened solely through life, it becomes clear that young people need to encounter Christian communities that are truly rooted in friendship with Christ, who leads us to the Father in the communion of the Holy Spirit,” they wrote.

Such communities do exist, the synod report said, and that the active presence of many young people in the Church was an essential sign of life and the Church’s “present and not only her future”.

“Young Catholics are not merely on the receiving end of pastoral activity: they are living members of the one ecclesial body, baptized persons in whom the Spirit of the Lord is alive and active,” the fathers wrote, highlighting the work done by many youth in catechesis and liturgy, caring for the weak, voluntary work with the poor.

The syond report stressed that a lived reality of community was an important part of fostering an active faith and effective evangelization, noting that “movements, associations and religious congregations” within the Church offered young people particular “opportunities for commitment and co-responsibility.”

“In various contexts there are groups of young people, often from ecclesial movements and associations, who are actively involved in the evangelization of their peers through a transparent life witness, accessible language and the capacity to establish authentic bonds of friendship,” the report said.

“This apostolate makes it possible to bring the Gospel to people who might not otherwise be reached by ordinary youth ministry and it helps to mature the faith of those who engage in it.”

At the same time, the report conceded that there were still cultural barriers to overcome within the Church, highlighting “a certain authoritarianism and mistrust from older people and pastors” who could “struggle to share responsibility.”

The synod fathers particularly noted the frustrations of many young people in the Church concerning the role of women, saying that many “clamour for greater recognition and greater valuing of women in society and in the Church.”

“Many women play an essential part in Christian communities,” the report said, “but often it is hard to involve them in decision-making processes, even when these do not require specific ministerial responsibilities.”  

The synod fathers said that the absence of “the feminine voice and perspective” was something which “impoverishes debate and the Church’s journey.”

“The Synod recommends that everyone be made more aware of the urgency of an inevitable change, not least on the basis of anthropological and theological reflection on the reciprocity between men and women.”

While many young people had a healthy and sustaining relationship with the Church as a mother which leads them to Christ, the report noted that scandals and abuse within the Church contributed to the alienation of young people from the Church and from the sacraments.

The synod fathers warned that sincere attempts by young people to engage in with these issues could be misread, and that it was important to recognize both its true intentions and potential benefits.

“The young ask the Church to offer a shining example of authenticity, exemplariness, competence, co-responsibility and cultural solidity,” the report concluded.

“At times this request can seem like a criticism, but often it assumes the positive form of personal commitment to a fraternal, welcoming, joyful and committed community, prophetically combating social injustice.”

 

1/9/2019

Vatican City, Jan 9, 2019 / 10:50 am (CNA).- Cardinal Walter Brandmüller made headlines last week, after he told German news agency DPA that debate over the clerical sexual abuse crisis should not “forget or silence the fact that 80% of the cases of sexual assault in the Church affected male youths not children,” adding that a connection between homosexuality and sexual abuse has been “statistically proven.”

Brandmüller, 90, told the news agency Friday that “only a vanishingly small number” of priests has committed sexual abuse, and that it was “hypocritical” to focus only on the sexual abuse crisis in the Church.

“What has happened in the Church is nothing other than what is happening in society as a whole,” he said.

In an interview with CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language sister agency, the church historian explained his remarks - and pointed to causes of the Church crisis and possible solutions:


Your Eminence, your interview on Friday has generated a great deal of attention. How do you deal with the reporting and the reactions?

What secular media makes of statements that do not correspond to the worldview of the reporting journalists might well raise certain questions. But I was concerned with scandals that are more important than how I am being dealt with as a person.

You’re referring to the abuse scandals and their coverup?

Well, I would argue  that the real scandal is that when it comes to this issue, clergy and employees of the Church are not sufficiently distinguishable from society overall. The apostle Paul admonished the Romans, "do not be conformed to this world." [[12:2]]

[But] sexual abuse - in whatever form - is anything but a specifically Catholic phenomenon.

How is that to be understood in this context?

The sexualization of society over decades - think of Oswalt Kolle and Beate Uhse - has left its mark on Catholics and those in the employ of the Church. This statement may help explain the heinousness of the transgressions, but is by no means an excuse!

[ed. Note: Oswalt Kolle was an author, filmmaker, advocate for the sexual revolution in Germany, prominent during the 1960s and 1970s. Beate Uhse AG is a German distributor of pornography, “sex toys,” and lingerie.]

In other words,  the role and self-conception of the clergy are at the heart of the issue?

First of all, it must be emphatically emphasized that hundreds of thousands of priests and religious people faithfully and selflessly serve God and men. To put them under general suspicion is just as offensive as unjustified, considering the tiny percentage of abusers. On the other hand, it equally is an excessively narrow view of reality to look only at the Catholic Church.

But surely one must be differentiate between abuse in the Church and across society?

Absolutely.

It would be no less unrealistic to forget or conceal that 80 percent of cases of abuse in the church context were perpetrated against male adolescents, not children. This relationship between abuse and homosexuality has been statistically proven - but it has nothing to do with homophobia, whatever one might mean by that term.

How can sexual misconduct and abuse be prevented in principle? Irrespective of whether it is perpetrated against minors or adults, men or women?

In the first place it will be necessary, before any religious consideration, to once again refamiliarize and deepen our understanding of the principles of sexual morality brought about by human nature being that of man and woman. John Paul II, with his Theology of the Body, has made a groundbreaking contribution on this matter.

Surely such an understanding would particularly be required of the clergy, and anyone in a teaching capacity, both in terms of educating on this matter and themselves actually living it?

Indeed, this doctrinal teaching of John Paul II should also form the basis for the selection and formation of future priests and religious educators. Then we should pay attention to their psycho-physical constitution. However, it should not be forgotten that all of this is not just about psychology and sociology, but rather about recognizing a true vocation coming from God. Especially when it comes to priests! Only when these aspects are duly considered and taken into account can a candidate be admitted to ordination.

This is also what Pope Francis has said on several occasions.

By the way: Experienced rigor in the selection of candidates also leads to a higher attractiveness of the priestly profession.

Given this falls under a bishop’s bailiwick, surely theirs is a key role in bringing this about?

The present crisis can only be overcome if, above all, the bishops understand it as a call and an incentive to a new spiritual awakening, drawing on the roots of our Faith. Is it not it astounding that the "conventional" seminars of so-called traditionalist communities, especially in France but not only there, have no shortage of seminarians? So why not adopt this model for success?

In the face of the current crisis, the credibility of the Church as a moral institution is severely shaken in the eyes of many. What is more, Catholics are asking themselves in which direction the Church is headed.

The question I ask myself is whether there really is any direction. Is the Church not tossed back and forth on contradictory currents? Can one recognize any direction at all?

In any case, it is obvious that - at least in Western Europe - Church statements are more or less in line with the social mainstream, and that purely secular matters often determine the speeches and actions of ecclesiastical authorities instead of following the lead of Benedict XVI, who in his speech in Freiburg in 2011 talked about the necessary detachment from worldliness [Entweltlichung], which promptly was misunderstood and even met with disapproval.

In the meantime, even some bishops, especially in the field of morality, have expressed views that are diametrically opposed to Scripture. But in doing so, one removes oneself from the very foundations of the Church’s existence.

So the Church and its foundations are still in their place?

Naturally. And of course it is all the more embarrassing when a financially potent but spiritually foundering  Church in Germany reckons it has a mandate to lecture its "poorer brothers and sisters" in - of all places - regions where  the Church is experiencing a period of spiritual vitality and growth, ie in Eastern and Northeast Europe as well as regions such as Africa and Asia.

What is also noteworthy in the West, however, is the phenomenon of religious awakenings among the youth, who are unimpressed with the decline around them.

"Fluctuat nec mergitur" - This expression is written on the coat of arms of the city of Paris, which shows a ship on high waves: Despite being tossed back and forth, it is not lost! In fact, Jesus Christ is on board even when he appears to be asleep. This is a depiction of of the Church.

 

Translation provided by AC Wimmer.

 

1/9/2019

Vatican City, Jan 9, 2019 / 05:13 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Persevere in prayer, remembering that God the Father is waiting to answer his children – even if the result is to change the person, not the circumstance, Pope Francis said at the general audience Wednesday.

“How many times have we asked and not obtained – we all experience it – how many times have we knocked and found a closed door? Jesus urges us, in those moments, to insist and not to give up,” the pope said Jan. 9.

“Prayer,” he continued, “always transforms reality, always. If things do not change around us, at least we change, change our heart. Jesus promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to every man and to every woman who prays.”

In his continuing catechesis on the ‘Our Father,’ Pope Francis reflected on Jesus’ instructions about prayer in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 11, when he teaches his disciples “to pray and to insist in prayer.”

“He promised us: He is not like a father who gives a snake instead of a fish. There is nothing more certain: the desire for happiness that we all carry in our hearts will one day be fulfilled,” he stated.

Francis noted the very first words Jesus taught his disciples to use when praying: “Our Father.”

“We can stay all the time in prayer with that word alone: ‘Father.’ And to feel that we have a father: not a master or a stepfather. No: a father,” he added. “The Christian addresses God by calling him above all ‘Father.’”

Recalling the verse in Luke which says, “What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish?” he invoked the experience of fathers and grandfathers, when their hungry children and grandchildren ask and cry for food: “You feed him what he asks for, for the good of him,” he said.

“With these words Jesus makes us understand that God always answers, that no prayer will remain unheard,” he said, adding: “Why? Because he is a Father, and he does not forget his children who suffer.”

Francis noted how such statements about prayer can cause people distress, because so many prayers seem to get no result and no answer from God.

“We can be sure that God will answer,” he said. “The only uncertainty is due to the time, but we do not doubt that He will answer. Maybe we will have to insist for a lifetime, but He will answer.”

“Jesus says: ‘Will God not do justice to his elect, who cry day and night to him?’ Yes, he will do justice, he will listen to us,” the pope stated. “What a day of glory and resurrection will it be! Praying is now the victory over loneliness and despair.”

At the moment, creation is “heaving in the torpor of a story that we sometimes do not grasp,” he continued. “But it’s moving, it’s on its way, and at the end of every street, what’s at the end of our road?”

“At the end of prayer, at the end of a time when we are praying, at the end of life: what is there? There is a Father waiting for everything and waiting for everyone with his arms wide open. We look at this Father,” he concluded.

 

1/8/2019

Vatican City, Jan 8, 2019 / 04:58 am (CNA/EWTN News).- To serve the poor and sick in a generous manner is a powerful form of evangelization, Pope Francis said Tuesday in a message for the upcoming World Day of the Sick.

“The Church – as a Mother to all her children, especially the infirm – reminds us that generous gestures, like that of the Good Samaritan, are the most credible means of evangelization,” the pope wrote.

His message for the World Day of the Sick was published Jan. 8, in advance of the solemn celebration to be held Feb. 11, 2019, in Calcutta, India. The theme of this year’s message comes from Matthew 10:8: “You received without payment; give without payment.”

“Gift,” Francis said, is more than giving of physical property or objects as presents: “it involves the giving of oneself,” freely, and with the desire for relationship with others, “the basis of society.”

Moreover, “‘gift’ is a reflection of God’s love, which culminates in the incarnation of the Son and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit,” he said.

The pope noted that one person who exemplified self-gift, especially in service of the sick, is St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who “helps us understand that our only criterion of action must be selfless love for every human being, without distinction of language, culture, ethnicity or religion.”

Her example continues to be a guide of hope and joy for those in need of understanding and love – especially the suffering, he said.

Quoting from the homily he gave at her canonization Mass Sept. 4, 2016, he said: “For Mother Teresa, mercy was the ‘salt’ which gave flavor to her work; it was the ‘light’ that shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering.”

“Her mission to the urban and existential peripheries remains for us today an eloquent witness to God’s closeness to the poorest of the poor,” he continued.

Pope Francis said that when thinking of the sick or infirm, it is good to remember that every person, at birth, is reliant on his or her parents to survive, and remains in need of the help of others in some manner at every stage of life.

Acknowledging this fact helps people to practice solidarity with those in need, he explained: “Only if we see ourselves, not as a world apart, but in a fraternal relationship with others, can we develop a social practice of solidarity aimed at the common good.”

People should not fear personal limitations or reliance on others, because “God himself, in Jesus, has humbly stooped down to us and continues to do so; in our poverty, he comes to our aid and grants us gifts beyond our imagining,” Francis stated.

In his message, the pope also praised the work of healthcare volunteers, who, he said, “eloquently embody the spirituality of the Good Samaritan.”

Volunteer work in hospitals and in homes, offering health care and spiritual support, “is of primary importance,” he stated, urging people to continue to be a sign of the Church’s presence to the sick and elderly and infirm in body or mind.

Catholic healthcare institutions, in particular, should be inspired by generosity, self-giving, and solidarity, he explained, since they “carry out their activity in the light of the Gospel.”

“Catholic healthcare institutions must not fall into the trap of simply running a business; they must be concerned with personal care more than profit,” he said.

1/7/2019

Vatican City, Jan 7, 2019 / 12:30 pm (CNA).- While recent media reports suggest that a trial of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick is underway, Vatican sources have told CNA that his case is not being handled by a full judicial process.

 

Sources at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have confirmed that allegations against McCarrick are being considered through an abbreviated approach called an “administrative penal process.”

 

That decision gives insight into the strength of evidence against McCarrick, and suggests that resolving sexual abuse allegations against the archbishop is a top priority for Pope Francis and other senior Vatican officials.

 

--

 

Canon law outlines specific processes for handling allegations of sexual abuse by clerics. All of these are reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. When the charges involve a bishop, the CDF requires specially delegated authority from the pope to handle the case.

 

A full canonical trial is a lengthy affair. Depositions of witnesses and alleged victims are taken by the court at which a prosecutor, called the “promoter of justice” in canon law, and lawyers for the defense are present. Written argumentation is exchanged through a panel of judges, with precise timelines, manners of proceeding, and legal minutiae that must be observed at each step of the way, in order to ensure that the rights of the accused are protected.

 

In previous sexual abuse cases against bishops, full and formal trials have taken years, and include the possibility of appeals by both the prosecution and defense. But this is not happening with McCarrick.

 

Under certain circumstances canon law allows for a legal investigation and determination to be conducted by an administrative penal process. This is a much-abbreviated mechanism that leaves out many of the procedural stages of a full judicial process or trial, including the back-and-forth argumentation between prosecution and defense.

 

An administrative process is only used when the evidence collected during the preliminary investigation is so clear as to make a full trial unnecessary.

 

In McCarrick’s case, the use of an administrative process strongly suggests that the Vatican has clear evidence the archbishop has committed a delict, an ecclesiastical crime, especially because his position as an archbishop and former cardinal guarantee considerable scrutiny of the result.

 

The use of the abbreviated process for McCarrick also indicates a significant change in the CDF’s assessment of the evidence and allegations he faces.

 

The first public accusation against McCarrick, announced by the Archdiocese of New York in June, concerned abuse against an altar boy who was, at the time of the alleged abuse, 16 years old.

 

While that allegation was enough to trigger a number of subsequent disclosures about McCarrick’s alleged behavior over a period of years, and prompted his departure from the college of cardinals, sources close to the CDF told CNA that a trial over that allegation was, by itself, unlikely to result in McCarrick’s laicization.

 

In addition to the relative paucity of evidence, sources also noted that at the time of the alleged abuse in the early 1970s, canon law did not consider someone over 16 years old to be a minor, which means that a trial might have concerned delicts more difficult to prosecute than child abuse.

 

But in the course of the CDF’s investigation, evidence has been received from a number of other alleged victims of McCarrick.

 

Key among McCarrick’s accusers is James Grein, who gave evidence before specially deputized archdiocesan officials in New York on Dec. 27.

 

As part of the CDF’s investigation, Grein testified that McCarrick, a family friend, sexually abused him over a period of years, beginning when he was 11 years old. He also alleged that McCarrick carried out some of the abuse during the sacrament of confession - itself a separate canonical crime that can lead to the penalty of laicization.

 

The CDF has also reportedly received evidence from an additional alleged victim of McCarrick - 13 at the time of the alleged abuse began - and from as many as 8 seminarian-victims in the New Jersey dioceses of Newark and Metuchen, in which McCarrick served as bishop.

 

Because of the collection of that evidence, McCarrick now faces multiple canonical charges of sexual misconduct and abuse concerning both minors and adults, including solicitation in the confessional. Use of the abbreviated administrative process, which is only employed in cases of compelling evidence, indicates that McCarrick is likely to be convicted on at least some of the charges.

 

--

 

According to CDF sources, the investigative phase of the process has now been formally concluded and McCarrick has been given the chance to speak in his own defense. His canon lawyer may also submit arguments on his behalf.

 

The CDF is expected to formally assess the evidence and defense within the next week, and to reach a final determination.

 

While many Catholics, including some bishops, have expressed frustration at a lack of resolution to the McCarrick case, his process is proceeding at break-neck pace, at least by canonical standards.

 

Nevertheless, the CDF has been under pressure from the pope, together with several senior American cardinals, to resolve the matter before the heads of the world’s bishops’ conferences gather in Rome next month for a crisis summit on the recent sexual abuse scandals.

 

Some announcement of a decision is highly likely ahead of that meeting.

 

McCarrick is likely to be laicized if he is found guilty.

 

The Church has refrained from dismissing clerics who are either too old, infirm, and without other means of support, recognizing a moral obligation by the Church to see to their basic subsistence.

 

But while McCarrick is old and in failing health, he is also known to be financially independent. As one source in Rome told CNA “The CDF don’t usually laicize someone if it means they’ll be living on the street, but McCarrick has always had money to throw around.”

 

It also seems likely that as a technical matter, it will be Pope Francis, not the CDF, that declares a verdict and imposes a penalty on the archbishop.

 

The CDF’s legal procedures for an administrative process include the option to “present the most grave cases to the decision of the Roman Pontiff,” especially when they include dismissal from the clerical state. The pope has stated that he prefers to make the final decision on cases involving bishops, and the CDF is likely to acquiesce to the preference.

 

Among the reasons Pope Francis might decide McCarrick’s case personally is expediency. If the CDF imposes a penalty on McCarrick, the archbishop will be free to appeal the matter to the pope, and that could delay announcement of a resolution to sometime after the February summit.

 

On the other hand, if CDF chooses to make a recommendation to Francis that he personally declare the guilty verdict and the penalty of laicization, and if the pope does so, it would be formally impossible for the decision to be appealed.

 

--

 

Since the announcement of the first formal accusation against him in June, McCarrick has become for many the public face of the sexual abuse crisis. His fall from grace has damaged the credibility of many senior members of the Church’s hierarchy, both in the United States and in Rome, and has touched the legacies of three successive popes.

 

Removing McCarrick from the newscycle - and possibly the clerical state - has been a major priority for both the pope and the American hierarchy.

 

If his case is resolved before the February summit, it could be seen a much-needed demonstration by Pope Francis that he is serious about punishing offending bishops.

 

But even if resolved, the McCarrick case will pose serious questions for the bishops to consider next month in Rome.

 

The long list of charges he faces includes many seminarians and other adults. While he may be convicted and laicized on the strength of the evidence he abused minors, his other victims will also look for justice.

 

Prominent voices like Cardinal Sean O’Malley and Marie Collins, the abuse survivor and former member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, have called for a change in the CDF’s legal definition of “vulnerable adults,” who are classed alongside minors by the CDF in sexual abuse cases.

 

Currently, a vulnerable adult is someone who “habitually lacks the use of reason.” O’Malley and Collins have both called for the definition to be broadened to include other victims, especially when sexual abuse it accompanied by an abuse of authority or power. Such a redefinition would include McCarrick’s alleged seminarian-victims.

 

If the Rome meeting next month sets out to narrowly treat the the issue of minors, and seems to exclude other victims of coercive sexual abuse, the figure of Theodore McCarrick might still cast a shadow over anything it tries to achieve.

1/7/2019

Vatican City, Jan 7, 2019 / 11:49 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Upholding the dignity of the human person, and the rule of law, are essential for good politics, Pope Francis said Monday to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See.

Such politics promote the common good and establish and maintain peace between nations, he said, by considering “the transcendent dimension of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God.”

The pope made his annual address to the diplomatic corps Jan. 7 in the Vatican's Sala Regia.

“Respect for the dignity of each human being is thus the indispensable premise for all truly peaceful coexistence,” he said, “and law becomes the essential instrument for achieving social justice and nurturing fraternal bonds between peoples.”

Human rights must be reaffirmed, he added, “lest there prevail partial and subjective visions of humanity that risk leading to new forms of inequality, injustice, discrimination and, in extreme cases, also new forms of violence and oppression.”

Francis emphasized that “politics must be farsighted and not limited to seeking short-term solutions,” noting that political leaders “should listen to the voices of their constituencies and seek concrete solutions to promote their greater good.”

“Yet this,” he said, “demands respect for law and justice both within their national communities and within the international community, since reactive, emotional and hasty solutions may well be able to garner short-term consensus, but they will certainly not help the solution of deeper problems; indeed, they will aggravate them.”

The Holy See has diplomatic relations with 183 states, as well as the European Union and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta. Of these, 89 states maintain embassies to the Holy See in Rome.

The pope told the diplomatic corps that “fidelity to the spiritual mission” of Christ's command to the Apostle Peter to “feed my lambs,” impels him and thus the Holy See “to show concern for the whole human family and its needs, including those of the material and social order.”

The Holy See “has no intention of interfering in the life of States,” he stressed, but wants to be an attentive and sensitive listener to the issues involving humanity; “the same concern leads the Church everywhere to work for the growth of peaceful and reconciled societies.”

Structured on St. Paul VI’s 1965 speech of to the United Nations, the pope emphasized in his lengthy address the importance of increasing multilateral diplomacy, promoting justice, defending the vulnerable, and building peace.

Quoting St. Paul VI’s UN address, he said, “You sanction the great principle that relationships between nations must be regulated by reason, justice, law, by negotiation, not by force, nor by violence, force, war, nor indeed by fear and deceit.”

This still an important idea for today, especially as, according to Pope Francis, nationalistic tendencies have grown, many relationships within the international community, and the multilateral system, have entered a difficult period.

Reasons for this include, he said, an “inability of the multilateral system to offer effective solutions to a number of long unresolved situations, like certain protracted conflicts” and to confront present challenges in a satisfactory way.

National policies based on “quick partisan consensus” rather than pursuit of the common good and an increase in powerful and influential interest groups and “new forms of ideological colonization” have also contributed, he said.

“In part too, it is a consequence of the reaction in some parts of the world to a globalization that has in some respects developed in too rapid and disorderly a manner, resulting in a tension between globalization and local realities,” he added. “The global dimension has to be considered without ever losing sight of the local.”

The pope listed several grave issues facing humanity in the coming year, namely, ongoing international conflicts, especially in the Middle East; the refugee and migrant crisis; violence against women; the rights of workers; climate change; and the prevalence of nuclear arms.

He also highlighted the issue of abuse against minors, which he noted has “sadly” involved members of the Catholic clergy. “The abuse of minors is one of the vilest and most heinous crimes conceivable,” he said.

“The Holy See and the Church as a whole are working to combat and prevent these crimes and their concealment,” he said, adding that a February meeting with bishops is intended as a “further step in the Church’s efforts to shed full light on the facts and to alleviate the wounds caused by such crimes.”

1/7/2019

Cairo, Egypt, Jan 7, 2019 / 04:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis sent Christmas and New Year’s greetings to Coptic Christians and all Egyptians upon the inauguration of a major Coptic cathedral, jointly opened with a larger mosque at the same complex.

“With joy I greet all of you, on the happy occasion of the dedication of the new Cathedral of the Nativity, built in the new administrative capital,” the pope said. “The prince of peace gives the gift of peace and prosperity to Egypt, the Middle East and all the world.”

For the Coptic Orthodox, Jan. 7 marks the celebration of Christmas. Francis’ message in part addressed the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, who also bears the title “Pope.”

“I offer a special greeting to my very dear brother His Holiness Pope Tawadros II and to the dear Coptic Orthodox Church, which is known to give a true witness of faith and charity even in very difficult times,” Pope Francis said.

The cathedral has a capacity of 8,200 people and takes up 30 percent of a 4.1-acre complex designed around a large central square, the Egyptian news site Ahram Online says. It is located in Egypt’s new administrative capital to the east of Cairo.

“May the worship of God in the highest heaven ever be welcomed in the new cathedral, and may blessings and peace descend upon all people, whom God loves,” the pope’s message continued.

The church’s newly dedicated neighbor, Al-Fattah Al-Alim Mosque, is claimed to be the largest mosque in Egypt and the Middle East, with a capacity of over 17,000 people. Both were constructed over a period of about 18 months.

Christians make up about ten percent of Egypt’s 98 million people. The vast majority of these Christians are Coptic Orthodox, with roots dating back to the apostolic period.

The dedication event follows years of trouble for Christians in the region. The beheading of 20 Coptic Christians and another man in Libya was recorded on video and shocked the world when it was released in February 2015.

In December 2016, A bomb exploded at a chapel attached to St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo, killing over 20 people.

In February 2017, the Islamic State group called for Egypt’s Christians to be targeted. Dozens of Christians were killed in Palm Sunday church bombings that year. Islamic militants have sometimes conducted deadly attacks on buses of Christians traveling to Christian sites.

Pope Francis alluded to these deaths in his message, saying “you have some martyrs who give strength to your faith. Thank you for your example.”

Legal regulations on new church construction and church repair have created a heavy burden on the region’s Christians. Middle East observers at the Project on Middle East Democracy suggested that despite the construction of the prominent cathedral, many of these issues are still unresolved.

In his message, Pope Francis gave separate greetings to the Egyptian government and to President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, who attended the ceremonies.

The inauguration ceremonies began at the complex’s convention center. Various artists performed Islamic chants and Christian hymns. A children’s choir sang about Egyptian unity amid religious difference, as did the popular singer Angham.

Pope Tawadros toured the mosque with President El-Sisi, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other local and international leaders.

“This is a day of joy as we see our beloved country write a new page in the history of civilization,” the Coptic pope said.

“Today we celebrate an unprecedented occasion where the minarets of Al-Fattah Al-Alim Mosque are embracing those of the Nativity of the Christ Cathedral, opening a new horizon for our beloved country on this happy occasion, achieved through the Egyptian people’s donations and efforts with sincerity and love.”

“As an Egyptian citizen, I am happy to stand in the mosque to celebrate its opening with my Muslim brothers,” he continued, praising el-Sisi’s fulfillment of his promise to build the mosque and the cathedral.

“We pray for our unity to continue as the world witnesses such tolerance and love in our country, God bless you all, long live Egypt,” he said.

During the dedication of a plaque outside the church, Muslim cleric Sheikh Ahmed al Tayyeb of Al-Azhar Mosque, a leading Sunni institution, said the joint inauguration is “the embodiment of the soul of brotherhood and love.” He said Islamic law requires safeguarding Christian and Jewish houses of worship just as mosques are protected.

After entering the cathedral, el-Sisi said the occasion sends the message “that we will not allow anybody to come between us.” He voiced dislike for calling conflicts “sectarian strife,” because “Muslims and Christians in Egypt are one, and will stay one.”

He said the event “represents a tree of love which we have planted together, but this tree still needs attention and care so that its fruit reaches from Egypt to the whole world.”

“Strife will not end, but God saved Egypt and he will continue to do so for the sake of its people,” the president said. He discussed the 2013 attacks on Egyptian churches, saying Pope Tawadros’ words helped the country repair the damage and build new projects.

El-Sisi, a former general, became president in the 2013 elections following a military coup against a government led by the Muslim Brotherhood. He was re-elected in 2018 but his government’s human rights record has faced strong criticism due to its treatment of its political opponents.

The dedication event took place under significant security. A policeman was killed trying to defuse an explosive device near a church in a Cairo neighborhood late on Saturday. The explosion wounded two policemen, including the bomb squad commander, BBC News reports.

In April 2017 Pope Francis traveled to Cairo and appeared in public with Pope Tawadros II and other religious figures. Pope Francis honored various Coptic martyrs during this visit, and declared that the sufferings of the Copts “are also our sufferings.”