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3/22/2019

Vatican City, Mar 22, 2019 / 11:13 am (CNA).- In a message for World Water Day, Pope Francis stressed the need to remember the suffering of billions of people who do not have reliable access to clean water in their homes.

“Joint work is essential to eradicate this evil [of a lack of access to clean water] that afflicts so many of our brothers and sisters,” the pope said.

“It will be possible if we join efforts in the search for the common good, when the other has a real face, takes center stage and is placed at the center of debate and initiatives. This is when the measures adopted will take on the flavor of encounter, and the value of responding to an injustice that needs to be healed.”

Pope Francis sent a message to Professor José Graziano da Silva, director general of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization on March 22, World Water Day.

Observed annually by the United Nations to highlight the need for access to safe water, the theme of this year’s World Water Day is “Leaving no one behind.”

One of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals set in 2015 is ensuring clean water and sanitation for all people by 2030. Currently, up to 2.1 billion people lack safe water at home, according to the United Nations. Nearly two-thirds of the global population struggles to find water during at least part of the year.

In his message, Pope Francis noted that water is crucial “for the balance of ecosystems and human survival, and it is necessary to manage it and take care of it so that it is not contaminated or lost.”

All people are called “to value and defend this good,” the pope said.

He emphasized the need for education, in order to create an awareness of the suffering caused by those who lack clean water or experience other environmental challenges.

“This task of raising awareness is a priority in a world in which everything is discarded and disdained, and which in many cases does not appreciate the importance of the resources we have at our disposal,” he said.

With environmental challenges growing, Pope Francis said, “the disadvantaged of the earth challenge us to find a remedy for the lack of water in their countries; they also challenge us, from their poverty and limits, to accord the just value to this good, essential for the development of all peoples.”

He called for financing plans, long-range water projects, and a new vision of water that is seen as a good for humanity, not just a commodity governed by laws of the market.

The pope voiced prayers that World Water Day may contribute to the good of people currently suffering from a lack of clean water.

“Access to this good is a fundamental human right, which must be respected, because the life of the people and their dignity are at stake,” he said.

3/21/2019

Vatican City, Mar 21, 2019 / 11:08 am (CNA).- Meeting with pediatricians at the Vatican on Thursday, Pope Francis encouraged the medical professionals to be “promoters of a culture of solidarity and inclusive health.”

“In our time, in fact, increasingly often prevention and treatment become the prerogative of those who enjoy a certain standard of living, and therefore can afford it,” he told members of the Italian Federation of Primary Care Pediatricians during a papal audience.

“I encourage you to work to ensure that this inequality is not added to the many others that already afflict the weakest, but rather that the health system assure assistance and preventative care to all, as rights of the person.”

The pope met with the group, which has been active in the country for some 40 years and offers support to over 5,500 family pediatricians.

Noting the range of talent and training required to care for children from birth through adolescence, Pope Francis praised those present for their commitment to remain constantly up-to-date with developments in the medical field, while also promoting “a culture more capable of protecting the health of people, especially little ones.”

“In our time, where the many comforts and technological and social developments are paid for with an increasingly invasive impact on the natural dynamics of the human body, it becomes urgent to implement a serious program of health education and lifestyles that respects the body, so that progress does not come at the expense of the person,” he said.

The pope encouraged the doctors to frequently read the Gospel passages in which Jesus encounters and heals the sick, seeing in these a constant source of inspiration.

“By virtue of the faith you have received, you are always called to regard Jesus, source of closeness and tenderness, as a model of humanity and dedication to others,” he said.

He recalled how Jesus welcomed the children who came to him and even pointed to them as a model for those who wish to enter the Kingdom of God.

Pope Francis reminded the doctors always to be attentive to the person they are encountering, whether it be the parent entrusting them with the health of a child, or patients receiving care.

Children in particular, the pope said, “have powerful antennas, and rapidly grasp whether we are well disposed to them or if we are distracted, because maybe we wish we had already finished the shift, would like to work faster, or find a patient who screams less ... You too are men and women, with your worries, but we know that you are also trained to smile, necessary to give courage and open a gap of trust in the little ones; and even medicines are more effective.”

Pediatricians can play a role in shaping the culture, and their work “represents a real mission, which involves both the mind and the heart,” he said, noting that while they may take vacations from their work, “your profession will always accompany you, and involves you for far longer and more deeply than during the hours you are at work.”

“With this style, you give Christian witness, because you seek to practice Gospel values and your sense of belonging to the Church,” the pope said, “but also for the breadth of your gaze, for the ability to imagine the social context and the health system most appropriate for the future, and for your desire to be at the service, with humility and competence, of every person entrusted to you.”
 

3/20/2019

Vatican City, Mar 20, 2019 / 05:13 pm (CNA).- As Chinese President Xi Jinping travels to Rome this week, there has been much speculation as to whether his trip will also include an unofficial visit with Pope Francis.

Ahead of the Chinese president’s arrival in Italy March 21, the AP reported that Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said, “Our door is always open.”

“The proclamation of the Gospel in China cannot be separated from a stance of respect, esteem, and trust toward the Chinese People and their legitimate state authorities,” Parolin wrote in his introduction to the book, The Church in China: A Future Yet to be Written, published this week to coincide with Xi’s visit to Italy.

Parolin wrote that the provisional agreement signed by the Holy See and China in September was “not so much a point of arrival as a starting point.”

Italian media have been speculating about a possible meeting, noting that Pope Francis’ schedule does not have many appointments planned for the dates when Xi will be in Italy March 21-23.

However Chinese sources have expressed that a potential meeting between the pope and the Chinese leader is unlikely.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said he was “not aware” of a potential meeting between the pope and the president, but said that China is ready to meet the Vatican halfway through “constructive dialogue” to “accumulate mutual trust.”

Since China severed diplomatic ties with the Holy See in 1951, a potential meeting between the pope and the Chinese leader would have to be an unofficial meeting.

Xi Jinping’s visit to Italy beginning March 21 will focus on the two countries' economic ties with the Chinese hoping to secure Italian support for their Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to expand commerce through infrastructure investments.

The Chinese president will then travel to Monaco and meet with President Emmanuel Macron in Nice, France before returning March 26.

A Vatican source told the National Catholic Register that it is unlikely that a meeting will occur, but said that “last-minute decision is possible.”

The source added that the Vatican has been planning a papal trip to China for at least two years and hopes that it will take place by 2020.

The Vatican-China provisional agreement, signed Sept. 22, 2018, is still confidential in nature. The deal reportedly allows the Communist government-backed Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association to choose a slate of nominees for bishop. One effect of the agreement, the Holy See recognized seven illicitly consecrated Chinese bishops and entrusted them with the leadership of Chinese dioceses.

At the moment all of China’s bishops have recognition of both the government and the Holy See. Since the deal, no new bishops have yet been appointed to China.

“History often forces religious matters and political issues, ecclesial themes and cultural discussions, moral questions and social drama, into inextricable knots,” Cardinal Parolin wrote.

“The path of unity is not yet entirely complete and the full reconciliation between Chinese Catholics and the respective communities to which they belong remains a primary objective. It is more than ever necessary, therefore, that in China a serious path of purification of memory begin progressively,” he said.

3/20/2019

Vatican City, Mar 20, 2019 / 09:59 am (CNA).- To pray is to believe in God’s power to replace the evil in the world with goodness, Pope Francis said at the general audience Wednesday.

“If we pray it is because we believe that God can and wants to transform reality by overcoming evil with good,” he said March 20. This is why it makes sense to “obey and abandon one’s self” to the will of God, even in moments of difficulty and trial.

“The Christian does not believe in an unavoidable ‘fate,’” he stated. “There is nothing haphazard in the faith of Christians: there is instead a salvation that waits to manifest itself in the life of every man and woman and to be fulfilled in eternity.”

Pope Francis pointed to the ‘Our Father’ as one prayer that demonstrates a belief that God’s will desires the good of the world. The Lord’s Prayer, he said, “ignites in us the same love of Jesus for the will of the Father, a flame that drives us to transform the world with love.”

Continuing his catechesis on the ‘Our Father,’ the pope reflected on the line, “Thy will be done,” using the example of Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus, he said, prayed for the Father to take away his suffering, but also said, “still, not my will but yours be done.”

In that moment, “Jesus is crushed by the evil of the world, but trustingly abandons himself to the ocean of the love of the Father’s will,” Pope Francis said.

And the will of God, he emphasized, is what brings real freedom. Therefore, praying, “thy will be done,” is not a “slavish” act; obeying the Lord is not like obeying a slave master, or bending the will to an unchangeable destiny. “On the contrary, it is a prayer full of ardent trust in God who wants good for us, life, salvation,” he said.

God wants his children to be free and it is his love that gives that freedom, he noted, adding that: “In fact, the ‘Our Father’ is the prayer of children, not slaves; but of children who know the heart of their father and are certain of his design of love.”

He pointed to the story of Zacchaeus, stating that the love of God is like that experienced by the tax collector and sinner. Zacchaeus climbed a tree to see Jesus but did not know that the Lord was, in fact, searching for him long before he knew.  

“God with his love knocks on the door of our hearts. Why? To attract us; to attract us to Him and carry us forward on the path to salvation. God is close to each of us with his love, to take us by hand to salvation. How much love is behind this!” Pope Francis said.

In the world, there are many things not in conformance with the will of God, he said, and encouraged people, in the face of evils like war, abuse of power, and exploitation, to pray with the awareness of the Lord’s will of good for his people and world, and to beg of him: “your will be done!”

“Thus is the Lord, thus he loves us…” the pope concluded.

3/19/2019

Vatican City, Mar 19, 2019 / 12:01 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis declared Tuesday the martyrdom of seven Greek-Catholic bishops killed by the communist regime in Romania in the mid-20th century.

Bishops Valeriu Traian Frentiu, Vasile Aftenie, Ioan Suciu, Tito Livio Chinezu, Ioan Balan, Alexandru Rusu, and Iuliu Hossu were declared to have been killed “in hatred of the faith” between 1950 and 1970, during the Soviet occupation of Romania and the rule of Nicolae Ceausescu.

Each of the bishops was arrested and held in prisons and camps until he died, often from isolation, cold, hunger, disease, or hard manual labor. Most were never tried or convicted and were buried in unmarked graves, without religious services.
 
A year before his death, Bishop Iuliu Hossu was named a cardinal “in pectore.” After spending years in isolation, he died in a hospital in Bucharest in 1970. His last words were: “My struggle is over, yours continues.”

In addition to imprisonment and isolation, Bishop Vasile Aftenie was tortured at the Interior Ministry, later dying from his wounds May 10, 1950.

After meeting March 19 with Cardinal Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Pope Francis gave his approval for the publication of the decrees of martyrdom of the seven bishops, and of another seven people on the path to sainthood.

The pope approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Maria Emilia Riquelme y Zayas, foundress of the Congregation of Missionary Sisters of the Most Holy Sacrament and the Blessed Immaculate Virgin Mary (1847-1940), who will now be called ‘blessed.’

He also recognized the martyrdom of Italian missionary Alfredo Cremonesi, a religious priest of the Pontifical Institute for External Missionaries, who was born in Italy and killed in Burma in 1953.

The Servants of God declared to have heroic virtue, and who can now be called ‘venerable,’ are: Francesco Maria Di Francia, priest and founder of the Congregation of Capuchin Sisters of the Sacred Heart (1853-1913); Maria Hueber, foundress of the Congregation of the Tertiary Sisters of St. Francis (1653-1705); Maria Teresa Camera, foundress of the Congregation of the Daughters of Our Lady of the Pieta (1818-1894); Maria Teresa Gabrieli, co-foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Poor - Palazzolo Institute (1837-1908); and Giovanna Francesca of the Holy Spirit, foundress of the Institute of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Word Incarnate (1888-1984).

3/19/2019

Astana, Kazakhstan, Mar 19, 2019 / 10:55 am (CNA).- The bishops’ conference of Kazakhstan issued a statement of support Tuesday for Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, apostolic nuncio to that country, who has recently been accused of financial and personal misconduct during his time of service as the Vatican’s chief diplomat at the United Nations.

“Archbishop Chullikatt has been working very earnestly for the good of the people and the Church in Kazakhstan,” the conference said in a communique issued March 19.

“Immediately after his arrival, with zeal and joy he started visiting all the parishes of Kazakhstan. He has been working very hard for the good of all of us here and we are particularly grateful for all the assistance he gives to the Bishops’ Conference. Besides, he is involved in good projects at various levels (educational, social, charitable etc.) for the people of Kazakhstan.”

“For us, Archbishop Chullikatt is the kind of Nuncio, we Bishops in Kazakhstan would like to have with us at least for a few more years,” the statement continued.

Chullikatt led the Holy See’s permanent observer mission at the U.N. from 2010 until 2014. He became apostolic nuncio to Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan in 2016.

On March 15, Catholic News Agency reported allegations from former officials and employees of the Holy See’s U.N. mission office that Chullikatt had mismanaged some financial matters, especially those concerning the payment of employees and contractors, and that he had reportedly engaged in an inappropriate romantic relationship while he led that office.

That report detailed allegations made by three priests who had been in service to the U.N. mission during Chullikatt’s tenure. Since publication, an additional priest, also a former official of the U.N. mission, confirmed to CNA his knowledge of the misconduct which had been reported.

Crux first reported the allegations of financial misconduct March 11, in a report that also said information about the archbishop’s alleged financial misconduct was reported to the Vatican’s Secretariat of State in 2013, and that the archbishop remained in his post for another six months after those reports were filed.

The communique from the Kazakhstan bishops said that “all these almost past three years of his presence in Kazakhstan we heard only good things about Archbishop Chullikatt from the priests, religious sisters and from our lay people, as well from those who work at the Apostolic Nunciature in Astana.”  

“There was not noticed the slightest suspicion about Archbishop Chullikatt’s moral conduct or any improper behavior towards women. According to our information, his dealings and treatment towards his collaborators and employees in the Nunciature is marked by kindness, courtesy and tact. We never heard any complaint in this regard.”

On March 11, the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the U.N. issued a statement saying that during the time Chullikatt led the mission, “the visa status of all members of the diplomatic, technical and service staff of the Mission, whether religious or lay, was fully in line with the applicable provisions of U.S. State Department regulations.”

“The remuneration received by the members of the service staff of the Mission at the time was higher than the minimum salary required at the time by the laws of New York and included a generous compensation package (contributions on a pension fund, health and dental insurance, a 13th month benefit, a fully furnished apartment, a full month’s paid vacation and daily meals),” the statement added.

The statement from the Kazakhstan bishops’ conference, signed by Bishop Jose Luis Sierra, president of the conference, and Bishop Athanasius Schneider, its secretary general, said that “we are pleased to recognize the Statement from the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations...which states that the employment conditions and the visa status of all members of the diplomatic, technical and service staff of the Mission during the tenure of Archbishop Chullikatt were fully in line with the laws of New York and the applicable provisions of U.S. State Department regulations.”

“Thereby the relevant accusations" reported in the Crux and CNA articles “against Archbishop Chullikatt have been proven to be unfounded with regard to this concrete issue.”

“We also wish to recognize with sincere gratitude the important role played by Archbishop Chullikatt during his mission at the United Nations as a staunch defender of the unborn, of the traditional marriage and the institution of the family, often in close collaboration with many friendly Muslim-majority countries, including Kazakhstan,” the bishops’ statement added.

“We express our hope that Archbishop Chullikatt can continue his exemplary apostolic work in Kazakhstan with many spiritual fruits and we wish him strength and abundant Divine blessings.”

 

3/19/2019

Vatican City, Mar 19, 2019 / 09:25 am (CNA).- French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin will remain the Archbishop of Lyon, the Vatican announced Tuesday. According to a statement released by the Holy See Press Office, Pope Francis has not accepted the cardinal's resignation, though Barbarin has stepped back from the day-to-day leadership of the diocese.

Barbarin was convicted by a French tribunal on March 7 on charges of failing to report allegations of sexual abuse committed by a priest of his diocese. He was given a six-month suspended prison sentence and plans to appeal the verdict.

Barbarin met with Pope Francis March 18 to submit his resignation as archbishop. Papal spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said March 19 that Francis chose to not accept the resignation of Barbarin as Archbishop of Lyon but, aware of the “difficulties” of the archdiocese at the present moment, “left Cardinal Barbarin free to make the best decision for the diocese.”

According to Gisotti, Barbarin has decided to “retire for a time,” leaving the vicar general of the Archdiocese of Lyon in charge during his absence.

In a statement on the Lyon archdiocesan website March 19, the cardinal said the pope did not want to accept his resignation, “invoking the presumption of innocence.”

“At his suggestion and because the Church of Lyon has been suffering for three years, I decided to retreat for a while and leave the leadership of the diocese to the vicar general moderator, Father Yves Baumgarten,” he said.

“The Holy See is keen to reiterate its closeness to the victims of abuse, to the faithful of the Archdiocese of Lyon and of the whole Church of France who are experiencing a particularly painful moment,” Gisotti’s statement concluded.

French tribunal president Brigitte Vernay declared Barbarin guilty March 7 “of non-denunciation of ill-treatment” of a minor, according to AFP.

The trial of Barbarin began in January on charges he did not report instances of abuse to judicial authorities between July 2014 and June 2015, in a case involving Fr. Bernard Preynat, who has been accused of abusing dozens of minors in the 1980s and early ‘90s.

In 2017, the cardinal told Le Monde that he did not conceal allegations against Preynat, but that his response to the allegations had been “inadequate.” He said he opened an investigation against Preynat after becoming aware of the allegations against him.

Allegations against Preynat became public in 2015. Prosecutors dropped the case the following year after an initial investigation, but a victims’ group with more than 80 members who say they were abused by Preynat led to a reopening of the case, the Guardian reports.

Preynat was banned from leading boy scout groups in the early 1990s, but remained in ministry until being removed by Cardinal Barbarin in 2015.

The priest will face his own trial later this year.

Barbarin’s trial and conviction comes as revelations of clerical sex abuse and cover up continue to send shock waves through the Catholic Church. The United States, Ireland, Australia, Chile, Argentina, Poland, and Germany are among the countries that have seen recent abuse scandals uncovered.

3/18/2019

Vatican City, Mar 18, 2019 / 01:17 pm (CNA).- Meeting with representatives of a charismatic group dedicated to caring for the sick, Pope Francis on Monday emphasized the need for tenderness as the natural Christian response to human suffering.

The word “tenderness,” Pope Francis warned, is “a word that today risks being dropped from the dictionary.”

“We must take it up again and put it into practice anew. Christianity without tenderness does not work. Tenderness is a properly Christian attitude: it is also the very marrow of our encounter with people who suffer,” he said.

The pope met March 18 with men and women religious from the Camillian Charismatic Family.

Founded by St. Camillus de Lellis in the late 1500s, the Camillians around the world serve the sick, with an emphasis on the poor and dying.

Pope Francis praised those present for their work of “loving and generous donation to the sick, carrying out a precious mission, in the Church and in society, alongside the suffering.”

He encouraged members of the Camillian family to always remember that their charism of mercy toward the sick is a gift from the Holy Spirit, meant to be shared with others.

Charisms, he said, “always have a transitive character: they are orientated towards others. Over the years, you have made efforts to incarnate your charism faithfully, translating it into a multitude of apostolic works and in pastoral service to the benefit of suffering humanity throughout the world.”

St. Camillus de Lellis initially founded an order of men, at a time when active consecrated life for women “had not yet matured,” Pope Francis noted. Two congregations for women were created in the 19th century, and secular institutes were established in the 20th century.

These developments, the pope said, “have given completeness to the expression of the charism of mercy towards the sick, enriching it with the distinctly feminine qualities of love and of care.”

He offered prayers that Mary, Health of the Sick might especially guide and accompany the consecrated women, teaching them maternal dedication and tenderness.

Together, Pope Francis said, these different Camillian groups make up “a single constellation, that is, a ‘charismatic family’ composed of men and women religious, secular consecrated persons and lay faithful.”

“None of these realities is the sole custodian or single holder of the charism, but each receives it as a gift and interprets it and updates it according to his or her specific vocation, in different historical and geographical contexts,” he said. In this way, the different ecclesial bodies all work together “[t]o witness in every time and place Christ’s merciful love towards the sick.”

“At the centre there remains the original charism, as a perennial source of light and inspiration, which is understood and embodied dynamically in the various forms.”

Looking forward, Pope Francis urged the Camillians to be open to new apostolates, at the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

He instructed them “always to cultivate communion among you, in that synodal style that I have proposed to all the Church, listening to each other and everyone listening to the Holy Spirit, to value the contribution that every single situation offers to the single Family, so as to express more fully the multiple potentialities that the charisma includes.”

Through fidelity to their founder, and by listening to and accompanying those experiencing poverty and suffering today, the pope said, the Camillians “will know how to make light shine, always new, on the gift received; and many young people the world over will be able to feel attracted by and to join with you, to continue to bear witness to God’s tenderness.”

3/17/2019

Vatican City, Mar 17, 2019 / 06:15 am (CNA).- Pope Francis called for gestures of peace to oppose hatred and violence Sunday in the wake of attacks on two mosques in New Zealand.

“To the grief for the wars and the conflicts that continue to afflict humanity, we have added that for the victims of the horrible attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand,” Pope Francis said March 17.

The pope asked all gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Sunday Angelus prayer to join him in a moment of silent prayer for “our Muslim brothers” who were killed in New Zealand, and said that he will continue to pray the dead, the wounded, and their families. A total of 50 people were killed in Friday’s shooting, and 34 of the injured remain in Christchurch Hospital.

Reflecting on the necessity and meaning of suffering, the pope said, “Each of us has his own cross. The Lord shows us at the end of our journey -- which is the Resurrection -- the beauty of carrying our own cross.”

“The Transfiguration of Christ shows us the Christian perspective of suffering,” Pope Francis said. “It is a necessary, but transitory passage.”

“By showing his glory, Jesus assures us that the cross, the trials, the difficulties in which we struggle have their solution and will be overcome in Easter,” he said.

The pope explained that in Christ’s Transfiguration, Jesus granted his disciples Peter, James, and John a foretaste of the Resurrection shortly before his crucifixion.

“Jesus knew that they would not accept this reality - the reality of the cross, the reality of Jesus' death,” Francis said. “And so he wants to prepare them to bear the scandal of the passion and death of the cross, so that they will know that this is the way through which the Heavenly Father will bring his Son to glory, raising him from the dead.”

“And this will also be the path of the disciples: no one comes to eternal life except by following Jesus, bringing his own cross into earthly life,” he added.

Pope Francis recommended taking more time for prayer and moments of recollection during the Lenten season to allow Christ’s “light to pervade and radiate in our lives.”

Through “prayer in Christ and in the Holy Spirit” a person can be transformed from within and “can illumine others and the surrounding world,” he said.

“The Virgin Mary teaches us to stay with Jesus even when we do not understand Him and do not understand His ways. Because only by remaining with Him will we see His glory,” Pope Francis said.

3/15/2019

New York City, N.Y., Mar 15, 2019 / 01:09 pm (CNA).- An archbishop who served as the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations is accused of financial and professional misconduct, including the use of Vatican staff and influence to assist and support financially a woman with whom he is alledged to have had a romantic relationship.

Sources say that although Vatican officials were informed of the man’s conduct, he was quietly reassigned to a new diplomatic post without facing sanctions.
 
Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, 65, now apostolic nuncio to Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan, is alleged to have maintained an inappropriate romantic relationship with a woman during his time as the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations in New York, a post he held from July 2010 until June 2014.

 

Errant texts

Three priests who were members of the diplomatic staff at the Vatican mission in New York told CNA that Chullikatt would frequently send the woman “inappropriate” and “romantic” text messages from his phone, and that the Holy See’s mission staff assisted her in obtaining a visa to come to New York.

One priest-official said this was “the most unfortunate part of the story having to do with Archbishop Chullikatt.”

Former staff members told CNA that on several occasions, Chullikatt mistakenly sent these text messages to staff members, who were left confused and concerned.

“The messages were, frankly, very inappropriate in content and clearly romantic in nature,” one priest told CNA. “At least three members of the mission staff received them that I know of, including me.”

“The first time this happened, he managed to send it to a member of staff who didn’t know what to make of it. As [the recipient] was a layman, it was doubly concerning to us,” the priest said.

Another former official said that every time Chullikatt mistakenly sent a romantic message to the wrong person, he would “abandon his phone and get a new cell phone or a new cell phone number.”

Another priest said the archbishop was obliged to change his phone “ridiculously often.”

A third priest who also served at the Holy See’s mission to the U.N. during Chullikatt’s time also recalled the messages.

“I cannot think how he managed to keep doing this,” he told CNA. “I can only surmise he must have been drinking when he would send them to the wrong people.”

“They were of an obviously romantic character, really outlandish, and usually sent very late at night.”

As romantic messages continued to be sent to priests, lay employees, and religious sisters, it became apparent who their intended recipient was.

According to multiple sources, the woman is a consecrated virgin who Chullikatt met during a previous diplomatic assignment. Staffers say they were expected to assist her in securing a visa and coming to the U.S., and later, in finding employment.

The office of the Holy See’s mission to the United Nations did not respond to requests from CNA for comment.

One former official at the mission, also a priest, told CNA that the woman had served as the archbishop’s interpreter during a prior diplomatic posting.

“That was my understanding of how they met,” the priest told CNA.

A woman of the same name, also a consecrated virgin was previously an auditor at a special assembly of the synod of bishops in Rome, and was identified at that time as a university professor.

The university where the woman reportedly teaches did not respond to a request for confirmation. CNA was unable to contact the woman directly.

After she came to the U.S., the woman was, according to multiple accounts, a regular visitor at the mission’s offices.

“She was around, we all knew of her. She was a very significant figure in Chullikatt’s life, I think we can put it that way,” a priest-official told CNA.

The priest told CNA that the woman would visit Chullikatt at the mission in New York “quite frequently,” and that he behaved with “impunity.”

“She was there, that was it,” he told CNA. “In any normal situation, let alone one like this, you would expect there to be some sort of backstory given – we met in school, she’s a family friend, something – but he gave no explanation, he just carried on.”


Financial questions

The same priest said the nuncio’s relationship with the woman was part of a pattern of dysfunctional and unprofessional conduct during his time in New York. Another priest said the relationship fit a pattern of “indifference” to immorality, which included financial impropriety.

A March 11 report from Crux alleged that Chullikatt had mistreated staff at the Holy See’s mission to the U.N. and imposed arbitrary wage cuts on the salaries of lay staff members. The priests who spoke with CNA confirmed those allegations

“I would say that swinging cuts [to salaries] were a mark of his tenure,” one priest told CNA.

“He treated staff as inferiors, across the board. There was no spirit of collaboration, no sense of working ‘with’ anyone.”

The priest also told CNA that in additional to subjecting employees - both priests and lay people - to frequent and “humiliating” outbursts of temper, Chullikatt was also known to dismiss staff at a moment’s notice.

“It was alright for us priests, I suppose,” he told CNA. “We always have a diocese to go home to, but for the lay staff, they were often left stranded with no means of support.”

One priest told CNA that Chullikatt would often bemoan the salaries paid to lay staffers, suggesting that they ought to volunteer their time without concern for being paid. Because they were paid, a priest said, Chullikatt questioned their loyalty.

A source recalled a particular instance in which a lay expert was recruited by the mission for a three month contract.

“This man was a tenured professor who arranged to take three months of unpaid leave from his post to serve the Church. Chullikatt sacked him within two weeks, leaving him without a salary for the rest of his sabbatical.”

“There was only ever room for one opinion, one voice in the room with Chullikatt - even adult conversation was impossible with him, let alone professional collaboration.”

Terrence McKeegan, a former legal advisor to the Holy See’s mission to the U.N., told CNA that after he signed a one-year contract to work for the mission, Chullikatt arbitrarily cut his wages.

“On or about December 10 of 2013, I myself was informed by the nuncio that starting in 2014, he would only pay me half of the salary we had contractually agreed upon,” McKeegan told CNA.

McKeegan also noted that, beyond his contracted position, he was expected to serve, unpaid, as legal advisor to the non-profit Path to Peace Foundation, a legally distinct U.S.-based private foundation affiliated with the U.N. mission. McKeegan said he was not given access to records for the foundation, or invited to attend meetings.

The foundation, he said, helps fund mission operations and staff salaries. It also, according to its tax filings, has funded scholarships, seminars, and a U.N. internship program founded by Fr. Thomas Rosica.
 

“Surreal” conditions

One priest told CNA that may lay employees were reticent to complain because some were in the U.S. only on diplomatic passports, and because many of them love the Church and wanted to support the U.N. mission.

Former staff members said that the imposition of arbitrary cuts to wages and the dismissal of staff were linked to Chullikatt’s relationship with the woman he maintained a relationship with.

“I would say his need to be tight-fisted with the mission’s finances was, at least partly, because he had a secret need. I believe he was supporting this woman: room, board, everything,” one priest, who was directly involved in the mission’s finances, said.

The priest recalled an example in which the archbishop budgeted money for “bonuses” for the mission’s staff, but then only distributed a portion of the money.

“The rest? Well, [Chullikatt] knows where it went,” he told CNA.

Another priest, who also was involved in the mission’s financial administration, also told CNA that Chullikatt was supporting the woman financially.

McKeegan spoke to CNA about what he called the “surreal” working conditions under Chullikatt.

In a statement, McKeegan said that in his time in New York he heard “voluminous allegations of highly improper and scandalous behavior by Archbishop Chullikatt.”

“I know that the longest-tenured cleric on staff had already brought many of most serious allegations against the nuncio to the attention of then-Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Dominque Mamberti, in a meeting they had around Mamberti’s visit to the U.N. in late September of 2012,” McKeegan said.

 

Report to Rome

Concerns about Chullikatt’s behavior, regarding both the woman and the office finances, were reported in a “dossier” of complaints delivered to the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, in December 2013, former staffers told CNA.

This dossier included a letter signed by McKeegan detailing numerous instances of financial malpractice by Chullikatt, including the unjust treatment of staff and the near-systematic withholding of agreed salaries.

“I was, and still am, absolutely certain of the serious moral violations that were being committed by the nuncio regarding the withholding of just wages,” McKeegan’s letter said.

“However, based on my experience with high-ranking officials in the Church, I knew that even sins that cry out for vengeance would likely go unheard in Rome, so I stressed in my letter to Archbishop Parolin that the unjust withholding of Mission staff salaries could constitute potential criminal violations of US visa and labor laws.”

According to one staff member familiar with the delivery of the complaints in Rome, direct mention was made of allegations that Chullikatt was supporting the woman financially, and that he had directed mission staff to arrange a visa for her to travel to New York.

In January 2014, Chullikatt was summoned for an extended meeting in Rome, for what a former senior mission staffer called “a dressing down.”

Chullikatt remained in Rome for nearly two months, while his absence from New York went unexplained to staff.

“He was supposed to be removed then and there,” one priest said, “but he was able to run around to enough of his friends in Rome to stay on [in his position] a little while longer.”

One staff member told CNA that Chullikatt had “exploited” the pope’s well-known disposition toward mercy, in order to avoid being removed from his position.

Another staffer told CNA that Chullikatt demanded a stay of his removal, insisting that members of the Spanish royal family were scheduled to visit the U.N. in June at his personal invitation, and that he needed to be in place to welcome them.

In June 2014, Queen Sofia of Spain visited the U.N. in New York. Chullikatt’s resignation from the U.N. position was accepted July 1 of that year.

“He used that time [between December and June] to clear out the opposition to him, dismissing staff and generally making life even more miserable before he went,” one former mission staffer told CNA.

During the final six months of Chullikatt’s tenure, several mission staffers were dismissed from their posts. Sources told CNA that Chullikatt waged a “vendetta campaign” because of the complaints to the Secretary of State.

 

The pontifical secret

Several staff members told CNA that Chullikatt would remind them that their obligation to maintain “pontifical secrecy” included his behavior. This, they said, prevented staff from speaking out.

One former priest official told CNA that “I’m sure he thinks everything we saw and had to endure is covered by the secret.”

“In reality, it refers to the sensitive diplomatic work undertaken on behalf of the Church. It certainly doesn’t cover the fact that he’s a nasty little man.”

The pontifical secret, which was defined by Pope St. Paul VI in the 1974 instruction Secreta continere, obliges clerics, lay employees, and even volunteers to keep confidential information obtained in service to the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. Violation of the secret can be punished with an excommunication.

But the former priest-officials of the U.N. mission told CNA that the secret is formulated without clarity, and can lead employees and volunteers to think they are beholden to keep confidential things they ought to report. They told CNA that Chullikatt’s situation is evidence it would be to the Church’s benefit to reform its policies governing the pontifical secret.

In recent months, Cardinals Blase Cupich and Reinhard Marx have both called for reforms to those policies.

“Pontifical secrecy shouldn’t protect bad people and their bad behavior,” one former priest-official of the U.N. mission told CNA. “It should protect properly professional and confidential information.”

 

Kazakhstan

After he resigned from his role New York, Chullikatt spent nearly two years without an assignment before being sent to Kazakhstan in June 2016 - a post one priest characterized as “the back end of beyond as far as the diplomatic service goes.”

One former official of the U.N. mission told CNA simply “he doesn’t deserve to be anywhere.”

McKeegan described the handling of the allegations against Chullikatt, and his eventual rehabilitation as part of an “all-too-familiar pattern.”

“Rome followed a very specific playbook with its handling of Archbishop Chullikatt.  Although giving the impression (never directly but via back channels and rumor) to the whistleblower or accuser that Rome was dealing with the problem, the Vatican was instead maneuvering to protect yet another high-ranking official who had “played ball” with the corrupt leadership in the Church.”

“Archbishop Chullikatt was quietly given a sabbatical. This sabbatical period was not used by Rome to fully investigate the serious allegations against him, of which my letter only constituted a small portion, but rather to wait out mission staff accusers like me to give up in frustration,” McKeegan said.

Another former senior member of the mission’s staff told CNA he was unsurprised that the allegations went without formal response, and that Chullikatt had been restored to the diplomatic service.

“You have to understand the culture of the diplomatic service, and the curia more widely,” he told CNA.

“There is a powerful incentive to keep a problem like Chullikatt under wraps. You aren’t just touching one man by speaking out, you touch a whole genealogy of those who have covered for him, and those who he’s covered for and been promoted by in turn,” the priest said.

The Vatican press office acknowledged receipt of questions from CNA regarding the allegations against Chullikatt, but did not respond before deadline.

Despite repeated attempts, Chullikatt could not be reached for comment.

 

This story has been updated.

3/15/2019

Vatican City, Mar 15, 2019 / 08:15 am (CNA).- Pope Francis mourned “senseless acts of violence” against innocent life after the New Zealand mosque attacks. On Friday, at least forty-nine people were killed in attacks on two mosques in the city of Christchurch.

 

The pope assured all New Zealanders, in particular the Muslim community, of “his heartfelt solidarity in the wake of these attacks,” in a telegram sent on his behalf by the Vatican Secretary of State March 15.

 

New Zealand officials say that one man in his late 20s has been charged with murder, and two other aremed suspects have been taken into police custody. The attacks centered on the Masjid Al Noor and Linwood Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand Friday afternoon.

 

One of the attackers broadcast the murders live on Facebook. The police also found two explosive devices attached to his vehicle.

 

The attack took place during Friday prayer at the mosques. At least 48 people were injured in addition to the 49 confirmed dead.

 

“Commending those who have died to the loving mercy of Almighty God, Pope Francis invokes the divine blessings of comfort and strength upon the nation,” it stated.

 

Pope Francis said he will continue to pray for “the healing of the injured, the consolation of those who grieve the loss of their loved ones, and for all affected by this tragedy.”

 

The attacks have prompted an outpouring of condolences and solidarity across the international community.

 

On Friday morning, U.S Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the attacks during a press briefing in Washington, DC.

 

“I offer my personal condolences to the nation of New Zealand in the wake of the grotesque mosques attacks in Christchurch,” Pompeo said.

 

“The thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the victims and their families today. The United States condemns this hateful assault and we pledge our unwavering solidarity with the government and people of New Zealand in this hour of darkness.”

3/14/2019

Munich, Germany, Mar 14, 2019 / 05:27 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising has announced that the Catholic Church in Germany is embarking on a "binding synodal process" to tackle what he says are the three key issues arising from the clerical abuse crisis: priestly celibacy, the Church's teaching on sexual morality, and a reduction of clerical power.

Speaking at the conclusion of the plenary session of the German bishops’ conference on Thursday, Marx told reporters that the bishops had unanimously decided these three topics would be subject to a process of "synodal progression" that could lead to a binding, but as yet undetermined, outcome.

"The Church needs synodal progress," the president of the German bishops' conference asserted. "Pope Francis encourages this."

The German bishops held their plenary session in the German town of Lingen from March 11 to 14.

Addressing journalists on the final day, Marx said the Church's teaching on sexual morality has yet to account for significant recent discoveries from theology and the humanities. Also, he said, the significance of sexuality to personhood has not yet received sufficient attention from the Church.

Bishops “feel we often are unable to speak on questions of present-day sexual behavior," Marx said.

The cardinal also said that the German bishops appreciate priestly celibacy as an "expression of the religious bond to God" and do not simply want to give up on it. But to what extent celibacy should always be an element of priestly witness is a question "we will determine" through the "synodal process," Marx told the press.

Furthermore, Marx said clerical abuse of power constitutes a betrayal of the trust of people in need of stability and religious orientation. Therefore, the "synodal process" would be charged with identifying what measures must be taken to achieve "the necessary reduction of [clerical] power."

The establishment of ecclesiastical administrative courts is one such step for which the bishops will in the near future draft a proposal.

As a first step on the proposed synodal path, Marx announced that the German bishops have decided to set up three preparatory working groups. The working group on "clerical power" is headed by Bishop Karl-Heinz Wiesemann of Speyer, the working group on "sexual morality" will be headed by Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück. The working group on "the priest's way of life," which will focus on celibacy, will be moderated by Bishop Felix Genn of Münster.

Interim reports are expected from all three by Sept. 13.

Referring to the German bishops' four year "Würzburg Synod" from 1971 to 1975, which was charged with an implementation of the decisions of the Second Vatican Council, Marx affirmed that the Church in Germany is "not starting at zero" in a synodal process, given the Würzburg experience, and various consultation processes undertaken by the German bishops in recent years.

The "synodal process" will involve consultations with the "Central Committee of German Catholics," a lay organization that closely cooperates with the bishops' conference, and will draw on outside experts.

 

 

3/14/2019

Vatican City, Mar 14, 2019 / 09:16 am (CNA).- Cardinal Godfried Danneels died Thursday at the age of 85 in his native Belgium. Danneels served as Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels and leader of the Belgian Bishops’ Conference for more than thirty years.

In later life, Danneels was widely recognized as an influential member of the college of cardinals and an at times controversial figure.

“This zealous pastor served the Church with dedication not only in his diocese but also at the national level as President of the Conference of Bishops of Belgium, while being a member of various Roman Dicasteries,” Pope Francis wrote March 14 in a telegram to the bishops of Belgium expressing his condolences.

“Attentive to the challenges of the contemporary Church, Cardinal Danneels took an active part in various Synods of Bishops, including those of 2014 and 2015 on the family. He has just been reminded of God at this time of purification and of walking toward the Resurrection of the Lord,” Francis said.

Considered among the more progressive churchmen of his generation, Danneels was an enthusiastic supporter of the liturgical reforms which followed Vatican Council II. He was also a prominent advocate for decentralized Church governance and interreligious dialogue.

As leader of the Church in Belgium, the cardinal was an established figure in national life, keeping close company with politicians and members of the royal family. He was sometimes criticized for his apparent willingness to embrace secular-liberal politics, once controversially describing same-sex marriage as a “positive development” in Belgium.

In recent years, accusations of mismanagement and cover-up of clerical sexual abuse cast a shadow over his past leadership of the church in Belgium.

Danneels was at the center of a national scandal when the Belgian newspapers De Standaard and Het Nieuwsblad published transcripts of a recording in which he appeared to pressure a victim of sexual abuse to remain silent.

The victim had been abused by his uncle, Belgian Bishop Roger Vangheluwe, beginning at the age of 5. When the victim met with Danneels to report the abuse and insist on his uncle’s removal from office, the cardinal told the man that Vangheluwe would retire in a few months.

“I don’t think you’d do yourself or [your uncle] a favor by shouting this from the rooftops,” Danneels was recorded saying.

The cardinal denied that he intended any cover-up.

Danneels was born June 4, 1933 in Kanegem, diocese of Bruges, and grew up in a family of six in West Flanders.

Ordained in 1957, Danneels went on to teach theology at the Flemish Catholic University of Louvain as a professor for ten years, after earning a doctorate at the Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome.

Danneels was appointed as the bishop of Antwerp by Pope Paul VI in 1977, became archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels in 1980, and created cardinal by Pope John Paul II three years later.

After his retirement in 2010, Danneels would infrequently speak in public.

In 2013, Danneels stood next to the newly elected Pope Francis on the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica. Pope Francis later invited Danneels to attend the two sessions of the Synod of Bishops on the family as a special delegate.

In a 2015 authorized biography of the cardinal, Danneels was listed as being part of a group of cardinals who coordinated efforts ahead of the conclave that elected Pope Francis.

The funeral for Cardinal Danneels will take place in the Cathedral of St. Rombouts in Mechelen, and will be celebrated by the current Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels Cardinal Jozef De Kesel.

In a March 14 statement announcing the death, Cardinal Kesel recognized Danneels’ years of service, “We are very grateful to Cardinal Danneels. For many years he has exercised shepherding in the Church in a period of fundamental changes in Church and society.”

“He has experienced trials, and in the end he was greatly weakened and exhausted. We continue to thank him gratefully. May he rest in God's peace,” he said.

3/13/2019

Vatican City, Mar 13, 2019 / 10:15 am (CNA).- On the sixth anniversary of Pope Francis’ election Wednesday, the Vatican's chief spokesman said Francis will continue to lead the Church as a synodal “field hospital” in the year ahead.

 

Pope Francis “has a vision of an ‘outgoing’ Church and a ‘field hospital’ Church,” Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Holy See Press Office told Vatican Media March 13.

 

“The outgoing Church presupposes that you walk … and ‘synodal’ means walking together,” he continued.

 

Gisotti connected Pope Francis’ vision of the Church, from the beginning of his pontificate, as a field hospital to the Vatican’s recent sex abuse summit on the protection of minors.

 

“With the meeting on the protection of minors we have seen a Church that has the courage to bind the wounds of women and men of our time,” Gisotti said.

 

The Vatican spokesman reaffirmed that last month’s Vatican summit necessitated concrete follow-up on the global issue of the protection of minors. This next phase will include the publication of a motu proprio, a handbook from the Congregation on the Doctrine of Faith with a series of regulations, and a task force with experts that can consult bishops’ conferences on the issue of child protection.

 

“Many had some doubts that it was appropriate to hold this meeting, while the Pope in this regard showed courage and also, in my opinion, a prophetic courage, because for the first time - in the face of a terrible scandal that puts at risk not only the credibility, but in some respects the very mission of the Church - he convoked all the presidents of the episcopates,” Gisotti said.

 

Vatican Media Editor Andrea Tornielli also said that pope’s sixth year will be “marked at the beginning and the end by two ‘synodal’ events,” the Vatican sex abuse summit and the special Synod on the Amazon respectively.

 

“But a look at the past year cannot ignore the re-emergence of the abuse scandal and the internal divisions that led the former nuncio Carlo Maria Viganò last August to publicly demand the resignation of the Pope for the management of the McCarrick case, just as Francis celebrated the Eucharist with thousands of families in Dublin proposing the beauty and value of Christian marriage,” Tornielli wrote in an Italian editorial on the eve of the pope’s anniversary.

 

“The Church, as Pope Francis reminds us today, is not self-sufficient precisely because she too recognizes herself as a beggar asking for healing, in need of mercy and forgiveness from her Lord and she bears witness to the Gospel to many wounded men and women of our time,” he said.

 

“Perhaps never before as in the troubled year just gone by, the sixth of his pontificate, has the Pope who presents himself as ‘a forgiven sinner,’ testified to this essential and most relevant fact of the Christian faith,” he continued.

 

The pope spent the sixth anniversary of his election as the 265th successor of St. Peter on a weeklong Lenten retreat with members of the Roman curia, held outside of Vatican City.

 

At the retreat Wednesday, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re told Pope Francis and 64 members of the Roman curia that “we are asking that the Lord be your light, support and comfort in your task of confirming your brethren in faith, of being the foundation of unity, and of showing everyone the way that leads to heaven.”

3/11/2019

Vatican City, Mar 11, 2019 / 06:00 pm (CNA).- Argentine Bishop Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta, under a Vatican investigation for sexual abuse of seminarians and other sexual misconduct, is attending Pope Francis’ annual Lenten spiritual exercises with other curia officials this week.

According to a report from Christopher Altieri of the Catholic Herald, Zanchetta confirmed by phone that he is attending the retreat, which began in the afternoon March 10 at a retreat house outside Rome.

The bishop is on a leave of absence from APSA while under investigation. The current Bishop of Orán is in the process of collecting testimonies regarding the allegations against Zanchetta, which will be sent to the Congregation for Bishops, and ultimately be judged by Pope Francis personally.

The pope’s annual Lenten spiritual exercises are taking place March 10-15 at the Casa del Divin Maestro in Ariccia, a town situated about 16 miles outside Rome on Lake Albano. The retreat is traditionally attended by the pope and senior members of the Roman Curia, particularly department heads.

This year’s retreat is being led by Benedictine abbot Bernardo Francesco Maria Gianni. He will give meditations on the theme of Christ’s gaze and gestures in the life of the world.

After resigning as bishop of Orán in August 2017, Zanchetta, was appointed by Pope Francis in December 2017 to a position created for him within the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), which oversees the Vatican’s assets and real estate holdings.

The Vatican has twice insisted it knew nothing about abuse reports against Zanchetta until the fall of 2018, though media investigations suggest that Pope Francis knew about the allegations in 2015, two years before he gave Zanchetta a Vatican job.

Zanchetta was reported to the Vatican in 2015 and 2017 when he was discovered in lewd sexual photographs on his cellphone, and suspected of sexual abusing of seminarians.

Documents published Feb. 21 by The Tribune, a newspaper in the Salta region of Argentina, purport to show that the Vatican received a complaint about Zanchetta in 2015 and that Pope Francis had spoken to Zanchetta after the complaint was filed. The documents also claim that Zanchetta failed to register and report the sale of two church properties worth millions of dollars.

The documents seem to confirm earlier reporting by the Associated Press. Zanchetta also faces a judicial complaint of sexual abuse in Argentina that was recently made public.

Fr. Juan Jose Manzano, Zanchetta’s former vicar general in the diocese of Orán, told the Associated Press that the Vatican received complaints against Zanchetta in both 2015 and 2017, but that the 2015 complaint against Zanchetta was not issued as an official canonical complaint.

According to The Tribune’s report, one of the Zanchetta’s secretaries alerted authorities after accidentally finding sexually explicit images sent and received on Zanchetta’s cell phone. The complaint says that some of the images depict “young people” having sex in addition to lewd images of Zanchetta.

The report says three of Zanchetta’s vicars general and two monsignors made a formal internal complaint before the Argentinian nunciature in 2016, alleging inappropriate behavior with seminarians, such as encouraging them to drink alcohol and favoring the more “graceful” (attractive) among them.

Pope Francis summoned Zanchetta to Rome for five days in October 2015. The pope appeared to have accepted Zanchetta’s excuse that his cell phone had been hacked, and dismissed the allegations.

The 2017 internal accusation, which The Tribune says alleged more explicit abuse by Zanchetta of seminarians, resulted in Zanchetta’s exit from the diocese, though Zanchetta said he was resigning for health reasons. The Vatican did not open an investigation at that time.

Manzano said part of the reason the allegations against Zanchetta may have not been taken seriously by the Vatican was because of the bishop’s close relationship with Pope Francis, who appointed him bishop of Orán in 2013. Still, Manzano said he didn’t believe the Vatican meant to lie or hide anything about Zanchetta. He said he believed Francis and other Vatican officials had also been victims of the bishop’s “manipulation.”

Vatican Press Office spokesman Alessandro Gisotti in January “resolutely” repeated a Vatican statement that said no sexual abuse charges had yet emerged against the bishop at the time Pope Francis appointed Zanchetta to his position at APSA. Gisotti said the charges only emerged in the fall of 2018.

When asked at a Feb. 24 press conference about Zachetta’s case, Gisotti reiterated that an investigation is ongoing.