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5/19/2019

Vatican City, May 19, 2019 / 05:56 am (CNA).- The boundless love with which Jesus Christ loves each and every person is the same love Catholics are compelled to show their “enemies,” Pope Francis said Sunday.

Speaking during his address before the recitation of the Regina Coeli prayer May 19, the pope asked people to answer a question in their hearts: “Am I capable of loving my enemies?”

“We all have people – I do not know if they are enemies – but that do not agree with us, who are ‘on the other side,’” he said.

“Or does anyone have people who hurt them,” he added, urging people to ask themselves: “Am I capable of loving those people? That man, that woman who hurt me, who offended me? Am I able to forgive him?”

It is the love of Jesus for us that makes the act of loving and forgiving others possible, he said, reflecting on the moment at the Last Supper, when, after washing the feet of his disciples, Jesus gives them a “new” commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.”

“Jesus loved us first,” Pope Francis said. “He loved us despite our frailties, our limitations and our human weaknesses. It was He who made us become worthy of his love that knows no limits and never ends.”

“The love that is manifested in the cross of Christ and that He calls us to live is the only force that transforms our heart of stone into a heart of flesh,” he stated. “The only force capable of transforming our heart is the love of Jesus, if we also love with this love.”

“And this love makes us capable of loving our enemies and forgiving those who have offended us.”

Francis noted that the commandment to love one another, when Jesus gave it, was not novel, but that what made it “new” was the part which says, “as I have loved you.”

Speaking shortly before his Crucifixion and death, Jesus showed his disciples the origin and example of the kind of love people are called to give.

“The novelty is all in the love of Jesus Christ, the one with which he gave his life for us. It is a question of the love of God, universal, without conditions and without limits, which finds its apex on the cross.”

“In that moment of extreme lowering, in that moment of abandonment to the Father, the Son of God has shown and given to the world the fullness of love,” he said.

May the Virgin Mary, the pope prayed, “help us, with her maternal intercession, to welcome from her Son Jesus the gift of his commandment, and from the Holy Spirit the strength to practice it in everyday life.”

 

5/18/2019

Vatican City, May 18, 2019 / 10:16 am (CNA).- In a meeting with members of the Federation of European Food Banks Saturday, Pope Francis warned against food waste, which he said shows a lack of concern for others.

“Fighting against the terrible scourge of hunger means also fighting waste. Waste reveals an indifference towards things and towards those who go without. Wastefulness is the crudest form of discarding,” he said May 18.

“To throw food away means to throw people away,” the pope added. “It is scandalous today not to notice how precious food is as a good, and how so much good ends up so badly.”

Francis noted that in today’s complex world, it is also important that the good done by charitable organizations is “done well,” and is not “the fruit of improvisation.”

Doing good “requires intelligence, the capacity for planning and continuity. It needs an integrated vision, of persons who stand together: it is difficult to do good while not caring for each other,” he said.

Even good initiatives guided by good intentions can get trapped by “extended bureaucracy, excessive administrative costs, or become forms of welfare that do not lead to authentic development,” he noted. “Wasting what is good is a nasty habit that can insinuate itself anywhere, even in charitable works.”

The pope also emphasized the importance of actions over words: “It is always easy to speak about others; it is much harder to give to others, and yet this is what matters.”

Food banks, he said, are good at taking what is “thrown into the vicious cycle of waste” and inserting it into a “virtuous circle” of good use instead.

The pope went on to speak about the economy, which he said has a “profound need” of working to the advantage of all, and especially those who are disadvantaged.

“It is good to see languages, beliefs, traditions and different approaches converging, not for self-interest, but rather to give dignity to others,” he said.

Noting the modern world’s connectivity and rapid pace, he decried the “frenetic scramble for money” which leaves people with an increasing interior frailty, disorientation, and loss of meaning. He added: “What I care about is an economy that is more humane, that has a soul, and not a reckless machine that crushes human beings.”

“We must find a cure,” he urged, by “supporting what is good and taking up paths of solidarity, being constructive.”

“We must come together to relaunch what is good, knowing full well that, even if evil is at large in the world, with God’s help and the good will of so many like yourselves, the world can be a better place,” he said.
 
“We need to support those who wish to change things for the better; we need to encourage models of growth based on social equality, on the dignity of human persons, on families, on the future of young people, on respect for the environment.”

5/18/2019

Vatican City, May 18, 2019 / 07:08 am (CNA).- Pope Francis told journalists Saturday that their profession has a great responsibility, the foundation of which should be humility.

“Humility is an essential virtue for spiritual life; but I would say that it can also be a fundamental element of your profession,” the pope said May 18.

He affirmed that there are other important qualities of a journalist, such as professionalism, writing skill, and ability to investigate and ask the right questions, but added that, “still, humility can be the cornerstone of your activity.”

“Yours is an indispensable role, and this also gives you a great responsibility,” he continued. “It asks of you a particular care for the words you use in your articles, for the images you transmit in your services, for everything you share on social media.”

Pope Francis added that, “humble journalists does not mean mediocre, but rather aware that through an article, a tweet, a live television or radio program, you can do good, but also, if you are not careful and scrupulous, evil to others and sometimes to entire communities.”

The pope spoke about humility in journalism during a meeting with around 400 members of the Association of Foreign Press in Italy, at the end of which he gave out copies of the book, “Comunicare il Bene,” (“Communicate the good”) which compiles some of his words to journalists over the last six years.

In his speech the pope acknowledged “how difficult and how much humility the search for truth requires,” saying, “I therefore urge you to work according to truth and justice, so that communication is really a tool to build, not to destroy...”

He also gave advice on the importance of humility, showing in what ways it helps a journalist to do his or her job well. For example, he said it is humility which drives someone to look deeper than the first, easy solution to a question.

If a mistake is made, it should always be rectified, he advised, especially in a time when, through the internet, false information is easily spread. He also warned media professionals to resist the temptation to publish something which has been insufficiently verified.

Humility, he continued, also helps journalists to not be slaves to haste, but to take the necessary time to understand something well.

Another quality of a humble journalist is seeking to know all the facts before relating them or commenting on them, he said, and as St. Francis de Sales once said, to use words carefully, “as the surgeon uses the scalpel.”

Pope Francis also urged those in media to work to bring to light the circumstances of those who have been rejected, excluded, and discriminated against.

“You and your work are needed to help not to forget many situations of suffering, which often do not have the light of the spotlight, or they have it for a moment and then return to the darkness of indifference,” he said.

Thanking journalists for their work, which if done in service, “becomes a mission,” the pope said they help people to not forget the lives “suffocated before they are even born” or those that, when born, suffer from hunger, hardship, war, persecution, or abuse.

He encouraged journalists to tell those stories, but to also tell the stories of people who sacrifice themselves, even heroically, to help others.

“Please continue to tell even that part of reality that thanks to God is still the most widespread: the reality of those who do not surrender to indifference, of those who do not flee before injustice, but build patiently in silence,” he said.

Pope Francis called these stories “a submerged ocean of good that deserves to be known and that gives strength to our hope.”

He assured the journalists, many of whom are secular, of the Church’s esteem for them, “even when you put your finger in the wound, and perhaps the wound is in the ecclesial community.”

He also quoted Pope St. John Paul II in a meeting with the same association in 1988, when he said: “The Church is on your side. Be Christian or not, in the Church you will always find the right esteem for your work and the recognition of freedom of the press.”

5/17/2019

Vatican City, May 17, 2019 / 03:30 pm (CNA).- The Vatican announced Friday that a former Curial official accused of sexual solicitation in the confessional was found not guilty after a penal process at the Church’s highest canonical court. Previous reports had indicated that the allegations were investigated by the Vatican, but had not indicated that the matter was resolved by a formal judicial process.

Fr. Hermann Geissler, 53, is a member of Familia spiritualis Opus (FSO), informally known as “Das Werk.” The priest served as an official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1993 until Jan. 29.

Geissler stepped down from his position after a former member of “Das Werk,” Doris Wagner, claimed last year in a lengthy piece in the German newspaper DIE ZIET that she had been sexually harassed in the confessional by a member of the religious community she then belonged to, identified in the article as “Hermann G.”

Geissler has maintained his innocence since the allegations first . The solicitation of a sin against the sixth commandment within the context of confession is considered in the Church law to be a “grave delict,” or offense, for which a priest can be dismissed from the clerical state.

A communique issued May 17 by the Vatican’s Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura said that after an administrative penal process, a five-judge panel “issued the decree of acquittal of the accused,” because the allegation was not “proven with due moral certainty.”

That release clarifies a May 16 release from Geissler’s religious community, which said that a decision was made at the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, “after a preliminary investigation according to Canon 1717,” that the “above-mentioned case does not constitute a delict.”

The “preliminary investigation” is the canonical process that precedes a formal trial. An administrative penal process, by contrast, is a kind of expedited canonical trial, at which judges hear evidence and arguments regarding an allegation, without all of the formal requirements of an ordinary trial. The Signatura’s release clarifies that Geisler was in fact subject to formal charges, for which he was found not guilty.

The administrative penal process is the same canonical procedure that was used earlier this year to try former cardinal Theodore McCarrick. McCarrick was found guilty of sexually abusing minors and adults, and of sexual solicitation in the sacrament of penance.

Geissler is well known as a theologian and a scholar of Bl. John Henry Newman. His religious community has not yet announced what next he will do.

5/17/2019

Vatican City, May 17, 2019 / 03:05 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis spoke to African-based missionaries gathered at the Vatican on Friday, applauding their efforts to show compassion to the continent’s most vulnerable.

The Society of African Missions was received by the pope at the Consistory Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace.

The order has been in Rome for its General Chapter, taking place at the Vatican from April 30 to May 24. The theme of this year’s meeting is “A family faithful to its missionary charism in today’s complex and changing context.”

The pope commended the order’s dedication to its communal life, which he said leads to greater acts of charity toward the suffering victims on the “peripheries” of society, especially in the rural populations where the Christian faith is fragile.

“Faithful to your roots, you are called, as a family and since you are a family, to bear witness to the risen Christ through the love that unites you to one another, and with the radiant joy of an authentic fraternal life,” he said.

“Evangelization is always carried out by a community that acts ‘by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary, and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others,’” he further added, quoting Evangelii gaudium.

The Society of African Missions was founded in 1856 by Servant of God Melchior de Marion Brésillac and its first superior general Fr. Augustin Planque. The order seeks to provide the people of Africa with spiritual and physical nourishment including education, interreligious dialogue, and aid to displaced people.

The pope applauded the order for continuing to follow in the footsteps of its founders, with members even placing themselves in dangerous situations to advance the Gospel.

He pointed to the example of an Italian priest, a member of the order, who was kidnapped last September by unknown gunmen in Niger. The pope promised to pray for the priest, who is still believed to be in captivity.

“I would like to join in your prayer for your brother Fr. Pierluigi Maccalli, kidnapped for several months in Niger, and to assure the concern and attention of the Holy See regarding this worrying situation.”

He challenged the members to undergo greater conversion, immersing themselves into charitable works, reflections on scripture, and the sacraments. This dedication to the spiritual life will lead its members to find Christ in the work they do and further embrace their commitment to the vulnerable, he said.

“I also encourage you to persevere in your commitment, in close collaboration with members of other religions and institutions, at the service of children and the most fragile people, victims of war, disease, and human trafficking,” he said.

“Because the option for the least, for those that society rejects and sets aside, is a sign that concretely manifests the presence and solicitude of the merciful Christ.”

Concluding his address, Pope Francis invoked the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary that the group may witness the faith with a renewed zeal, listening to the Holy Spirit for opportunities to extend beyond the familiar and to new paths of evangelization.

“I encourage you to persevere, with renewed enthusiasm and dynamism, on the path travelled by the Society of African Missions and which has produced many fruits of conversion to Christ,” he said.

“With this hope, I entrust your missionary family to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, asking her to support your efforts.”

5/17/2019

Vatican City, May 17, 2019 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis Friday encouraged medical professionals to defend and promote life, highlighting the practice of conscientious objection in today’s healthcare environment.

“Defend and promote life, starting from those who are most defenseless or in need of assistance because they are sick, or elderly, or marginalized,” Pope Francis said May 17.

The pope met with the Italian Catholic Association of Healthcare Workers in Vatican’s apostolic palace and encouraged their commitment to pro-life healthcare.

The pope stressed that just because a medical technique is technologically possible does not mean it is necessarily ethical.

“Any medical practice or intervention on the human being must first be evaluated carefully to see if it actually respects life and human dignity,” he said.

“The practice of conscientious objection … can be a sign for the healthcare environment in which we find ourselves, as well as for the patients and their families,” he explained.

Francis said that in extreme cases where human life is endangered, conscientious objection based on one’s ethical convictions should be sought with respect and humility in order to prevent understandings.

“Always seek dialogue, especially with those who have different positions, listening to their point of view and trying to transmit yours,” he advised.

Pope Francis critiqued the “corporatization” of healthcare systems today, commenting that healthcare workers must treat patients as people, not numbers.

“Its corporatization … has fundamentally changed the approach to illness and to the patient himself with its preference for efficiency often preceding attention to the person, who needs to be understood, listened to and accompanied, as much as he needs a correct diagnosis and effective treatment,” Francis said.

He said that this corporatization also has an effect on medical workers leading to “burnout,” with many struggling to cope with long work shifts and a stressful working environment.

To guard against these pressures, Francis emphasized the importance of prayer and prioritizing one’s own spiritual life, commenting that this is what sustained the many dedicated saints who served the sick with love.

“To keep your spirit alive, I urge you to be faithful to prayer and to nourish yourselves with the Word of God: always with the Gospel in your pocket,” the pope advised.

“Healing, among other things, passes not only from the body, but also from the spirit.”

5/17/2019

Vatican City, May 17, 2019 / 03:38 am (CNA).- The Vatican announced Friday that the next World Meeting of Families will focus on the vocation of married life as a path to holiness with a particular emphasis on Amoris Laetitia.

The 2021 World Meeting of Families will be held in Rome June 23-27 with the official theme selected by Pope Francis, “Family Love: a vocation and a path to holiness,” the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, the Family, and Life announced May 17.

“The meeting proposes a rereading of Amoris Laetitia in the light of the call to holiness spoken of in Gaudete et Exsultate,” according to the announcement.

“Conjugal and family love reveals the precious gift of a life together where communion is nourished and a culture of individualism, consumption and waste is averted,” it continued.

The next World Meeting of Families will mark the fifth anniversary of Amoris Laetitia -- Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on love in the family. The theme of the meeting seeks to examine family life through the lens of holiness, “the most attractive face of the Church,” as described by the 2018 exhoration Gaudete et Exsultate.

The meeting announcement quotes Amoris Laetitia’s section on Love in Marriage, which states: “The aesthetic experience of love is expressed in that ‘gaze’ which contemplates other persons as ends in themselves.”  

The World Meeting of Families, established by St. Pope John Paul II in 1994, takes place once every three years in a different country, most recently in Ireland in 2018. The 2021 meeting will be the third time World Meeting of Families will be hosted in Rome.

“As marriage and family shape a concrete experience of love, they demonstrate the great significance of human relationships in which joys and struggles are shared in the unfolding of daily life as people are led towards an encounter with God,” the announcement states.

“This journey, when lived with fidelity and perseverance, strengthens love and enables the vocation to holiness that is possessed by each individual person and expressed in conjugal and family relationships.”

5/16/2019

Vatican City, May 16, 2019 / 11:23 am (CNA).- A Vatican court has decided not to initiate canonical charges against a former Vatican official, after an investigation into allegations he made sexual advances toward a woman in the confessional several years ago.

Fr. Hermann Geissler, 53, is a member of Familia spiritualis Opus (FSO), informally known as “Das Werk.”

Geissler's community announced today that five judges of the Vatican’s supreme tribunal decided May 15 that Geissler would not be tried for “a delict of solicitation to a sin against the sixth commandment in the context of confession.”

A preliminary investigation into the matter, as specified by canon 1717 of the Code of Canon Law, was carried out by the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

Most likely to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, Pope Francis requested the Signatura undertake the process instead of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is the Vatican office usually charged with reviewing allegations of this kind.

Geissler, who maintained his innocence throughout the process, stepped down from his position within the CDF Jan. 29, where he had been an official since 1993. From 2009 he had been the head of the congregation’s teaching office.

A statement released Jan. 29 said that Geissler “affirms that the accusation made against him is untrue, and asks that the canonical process already initiated continue. He also reserves the right for possible civil legal action.”

Geissler, an Austrian, is also a prominent scholar of Bl. Cardinal Henry Newman.

The accusations against him became public at the end of September, when a (now-former) member of “Das Werk,” Doris Wagner, claimed in a lengthy piece in the German newspaper DIE ZIET that she had been sexually harassed in the confessional by a member of the religious community she then belonged to, identified in the article as “Hermann G.”

Wagner again spoke of the accusations last November, saying at a conference in Rome that she had received unwanted sexual advances and been “groomed” for sex by “a priest working to this day as capo ufficio at the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith,” according to La Croix International.

The solicitation of a sin against the sixth commandment within the context of confession is considered in the Church law to be a “grave delict,” or offense, for which a priest can be dismissed from the clerical state.

 

5/16/2019

Vatican City, May 16, 2019 / 08:20 am (CNA).- On the 300th anniversary of St. John Baptist de la Salle’s death, Pope Francis urged the Lasallian Brothers to continue their educational mission with the zeal of their founder.

“Dear spiritual children of St. John Baptist de La Salle, I urge you to deepen and imitate his passion for the least of these and the rejected,” Pope Francis told the Brothers May 16 in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

The pope called the brothers to bring a “culture of resurrection” into the schools where they serve, especially in contexts where the “culture of death” prevails.

“Teaching cannot be just a job, but a mission,” Pope Francis said as he described St. John Baptist de La Salle’s founding impetus.

St. John Baptist de La Salle, a 17th century French priest, established a lay community to offer a Christian education to the children of the poor that later grew into a new form of consecrated life, the “religious brotherhood,” in which “lay religious” take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience without ordination.

Pope Francis praised La Salle’s bold reforms of teaching methods, calling him a “a pioneer in the field of education.”

La Salle was one of the first pedagogues to emphasize classroom teaching in the vernacular rather than Latin. He also divided pupils into learning groups for more effective work, set up Sunday schools for adults, and rehabilitative programs for juvenile delinquents and prisoners, Francis explained.

“He dreamed of a school open to all, so he did not hesitate to face extreme educational needs, introducing a method of rehabilitation through school and work,” the pope said.

Three centuries later, more than 4,000 Christian Brothers continue La Salle’s mission educational mission with a “preferential option for the poor” in 79 countries in conjunction with the Lasallian Sisters, Signum Fidei Fraternity, and Guandalupana Sisters de La Salle.

“Do not get tired of looking for those who are in the modern tombs of loss, degradation, discomfort and poverty, to offer new life hope,” Pope Francis said.

In addition to La Salle himself, 14 Christian Brothers have been canonized and 150 beatified. St. John Baptist La Salle is the patron saint of teachers.

“The impetus for the educational mission, which made your founder a teacher and witness for so many of his contemporaries, and his teaching, can still today feed your projects and your action,” the pope said.

5/15/2019

Vatican City, May 15, 2019 / 05:01 am (CNA).- Pope Francis greeted an international group dedicated to Jewish-Catholic dialogue Wednesday, calling dialogue “the way better to understand one another.”
 
“I offer you my encouragement, for dialogue is the way … to work together in building a climate not only of tolerance but also of respect between religions,” the pope said May 15 in St. Peter’s Square while greeting the International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee, which is holding its 24th meeting.
 
“From the promulgation of Nostra aetate until now, Jewish-Catholic dialogue has borne good fruit” Francis maintained.
 
He said that “we share a rich spiritual patrimony that can and must be ever more esteemed and appreciated as we grow in mutual understanding, fraternity and shared commitment on behalf of others.”
 
The pope urged the committee to discuss “timely issues such as our approach to refugees and how best to help them, the fight against the troubling regrowth of anti-Semitism, and concern for the persecution of Christians in various parts of the world.”
 
“Our strength is the gentle strength of encounter, not of the extremism emerging in certain quarters today, which leads only to conflict,” he reflected. “One never errs in seeking dialogue.”
 
Francis quoted from Proverbs: “deceit is in the mind of those who plan evil, but those who counsel peace have joy”, and concluded: “I pray that your gathering may be an encounter in peace and for peace. May the blessing of the Most High be with you, grant you the tenacity of gentleness and the courage of patience. Shalom!”

5/15/2019

Vatican City, May 15, 2019 / 04:08 am (CNA).- Pope Francis said Wednesday that Jesus gave humanity a precious gift on the cross -- liberation from evil.

“The Christian knows how overwhelming the power of evil is, and at the same time he experiences how much Jesus, who never succumbed to its flattery, is on our side and comes to our aid,” Pope Francis said in St. Peter’s Square May 15.

The pope connected the last line of the Our Father prayer, “Deliver us from evil,” to Christ’s crucifixion.

“Deliver us from evil” covers a wide range of human experiences, he explained: “the mourning of man, innocent suffering, slavery, the exploitation of others, the cry of innocent children.”

In the Passion “Jesus fully experienced the piercing of evil. Not only death, but death on the cross. Not only loneliness, but also contempt, humiliation,” Pope Francis said.

“Thus the prayer of Jesus leaves us the most precious of inheritances: the presence of the Son of God who has freed us from evil, struggling to convert it,” he said.

Pope Francis explained that invoking God when faced with evil is “an essential characteristic of Christian prayer.”

“Jesus teaches his friends to put the invocation of the Father before everything, even and especially at times when the evil one makes his threatening presence felt,” he said.

“There is evil in our life, its presence is indisputable,” Francis said. “History books are the desolate catalog of how much our existence in this world has often been a failed venture.”

“There is a mysterious evil, which surely is not the work of God,” he explained. “At times it seems to take over: on some days its presence seems even sharper than that of God's mercy.”

However, Pope Francis said, forgiveness flows from Christ on the cross, which liberates us from evil.

“In the hour of the final fight … He offers a word of peace: ‘Father, forgive them because they do not know what they do,’” he said.

“‘Deliver us from evil.’ With this expression, one who prays not only asks not to be abandoned in the time of temptation, but also begs to be liberated from evil,” he said.

“If there were not the last verses of the ‘Our Father’ how could sinners, the persecuted, the desperate, the dying pray?” Pope Francis asked.

“The ‘Our Father’ resembles a symphony that asks to be fulfilled in each of us,” he said.

As Pope Francis entered the general audience on the popemobile this week, he greeted eight migrant children from Syria, Nigeria, and Congo, who arrived in Italy on a humanitarian vessel from Libya April 29.

5/15/2019

Vatican City, May 15, 2019 / 04:03 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Wednesday appointed Bishop Peter Baldacchino to head the Diocese of Las Cruces, New Mexico – making him the first diocesan bishop associated with the Neocatechumenal Way to serve in a mainland U.S. diocese.

Baldacchino, 58, has been an auxiliary bishop of Miami, Florida, since 2014. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Newark in 1996.

As a seminarian in Newark, Baldacchino studied at the Immaculate Conception Seminary at Seton Hall University but lived at the Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary.

Baldacchino’s formation was in part guided by the Neocatechumenal Way, a post-baptismal itinerary of Christian formation first approved by Pope Paul VI and supported by each of the subsequent popes.

Seminarians who discern their vocation while involved with the Neocatechumenal Way are encouraged to place special emphasis on the universal missionary character of the priesthood and offer themselves, at the discretion of their local bishop, in service to the New Evangelization anywhere in the world.

Baldacchino is the first graduate of a Redemptoris Mater seminary to serve as a diocesan bishop in a mainland U.S. diocese.

He was born on the European island country of Malta, to a family of four children. His family joined the Neocatechumenal Way while he was a child, but he was not initially drawn to the priesthood.

After studying science and chemistry at the University of Malta, he began working as a technical manager at a bottling plant. At age 28 he attended the 1989 World Youth Day in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, after which he became more involved in the Neocatechumenal Way.

Through the movement he was sent on mission, during which he started to feel called to the priesthood, eventually being matched with the Redemptoris Mater seminary in Newark. He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Newark on May 25, 1996.

Baldacchino served for over a decade as a missionary in the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean, and speaks Maltese, English, Italian, Creole, and Spanish.

The Diocese of Las Cruces was established in 1982. According to 2015 estimates, it has more than 236,600 Catholics, accounting for just over 42% of the area's population.

5/14/2019

Vatican City, May 14, 2019 / 06:53 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Tuesday gave his approval for eight sainthood causes to proceed, including that of Blessed Dulce Lopes Pontes, a 20th-century religious sister who served Brazil’s poor.

With the pope’s approval of a second miracle attributed to her intercession, Bl. Dulce can be canonized, according to the May 14 announcement. Pope Francis approved the next steps in the causes after meeting with Cardinal Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Sr. Dulce was born as Maria Rita to an upper middle-class family in Salvador, Brazil in 1914. Her mother died when she was six years old. At the age of 13, an aunt took Maria Rita to see the poor area of the city, which left a strong impression on her, and from that time she began to care for the poor and beggars in her own neighborhood.

After graduating from high school at age 18, her father allowed her to join the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. For her religious name she took “Dulce,” the name of her mother.

Not long after joining the missionary sisters, Dulce became determined to shelter the many ill people she encountered on the streets of Salvador. She would house them in abandoned buildings and bring them food and medical care.

Eventually she and her more than 70 patients were kicked out of the building. Left with nowhere to take them, she asked her mother superior for help, and was given the convent’s chicken yard to turn into an improvised hotel.

As part of the agreement, Sr. Dulce was asked to care for the chickens, which she did by butchering them and feeding them to her patients.

This eventually became the site of the Santo Antonio Hospital, which continues to serve Brazil’s poor and disabled.

Bl. Dulce founded the Sao Francisco’s Worker’s Union, the first Christian worker’s movement in the Brazilian state of Bahia, which she later transformed into the Worker’s Center of Bahia.

She also founded the Charitable Works Foundation of Sister Dulce (Obras Sociais Irma Dulce) in 1959, which continues to be one of the most well-known and well-respected charitable organizations in Brazil.

In 1988, Sr. Dulce was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by the President of Brazil, Jose Sarney.

She died in 1992, at the age of 77, after battling lung problems for 30 years. She met Pope John Paul II twice during her life, the second in 1990 while hospitalized. She was beatified May 22, 2011.

Pope Francis also gave his approval May 14 for the canonization of Rome-native Bl. Giuseppina Vannini, foundress of the Daughters of San Camillo (1859-1911) and for the beatification of Venerable Lucia dell’Immacolata, a sister of the Institute of the Servants of Charity (1909-1962).

Called by some “the saint of simplicity,” as a child Sr. Lucia dell’Immacolata was noted for her piety and charity. From a young age she worked in a spinning mill and factory to help her family.

After meeting the foundress of the Servants of Charity, St. Maria Crocifissa di Rosa, she joined the institute, where she devoted herself to the humble tasks of doing the shopping for the convent, accompanying the other sisters on errands, or serving the priests who stayed in the mother house for retreats.

She died from an illness in 1954 in Brescia, Italy, at the age of 45.

Those whom the pope has declared ‘Venerable’ are: Italian Giovanni Battista Pinardi, auxiliary bishop of Turin (1880-1962); Italian Carlo Salerio, a priest of the Institute of the Foreign Missions of Paris and founder of the Institute of the Sisters of Reparation (1827-1870); Spaniard Domenico Lazaro Castro, a priest of the Society of Mary (1877-1935); Brazilian Salvatore da Casca, professed of the Order of Friars Minor (1911-1971); and Italian Eufrasia Iaconis, foundress of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Immaculate Conception (1867-1916).

5/13/2019

Washington D.C., May 13, 2019 / 02:44 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis’ recently promulgated policy on sexual abuse allegations made against bishops, Vos estis lux mundi, offers a new and much expanded interpretation of what constitutes a canonical sexual crime by a cleric.

That interpretation has raised real questions about how the law is to be applied, at the Vatican and in diocesan chanceries.

The new policy recognizes as explicitly criminal the abuse of authority in coercive sexual relationships, a move called for often in the wake of the Theodore McCarrick scandal. It also offers a new definition for “vulnerable” adults, a legal category of persons who could be subject to criminally coercive abuse.

The universal law of the Church previously defined a “vulnerable adult” as one who “habitually lacks the use of reason.”

The new definition classifies a “vulnerable adult” as “any person in a state of infirmity, physical or mental deficiency, or deprivation of personal liberty which, in fact, even occasionally, limits their ability to understand or to want or otherwise resist the offense.”

That definition could seem to cover a very broad swath of situations, which would be quite distinct from each other. Some Vatican and diocesan officials have told CNA they are concerned that the potentially broad applicability of the new definition could cause unjust expectations, and uncertainty about how to proceed in individual cases.

Specifically, some worry that Vos estis could foster a sense that nearly any sexual act committed by a priest is expected be treated on a par with the sexual abuse of minors, and lead to his removal permanent removal from ministry.

In a Church committed to zero-tolerance for sexual abuse, the new definition for “vulnerable adult” could make clergy discipline a decidedly more complicated undertaking.

It seems clear, for example, that a priest who has had a sexual relationship with a traumatized victim of abuse who comes to him for spiritual direction has committed a most grave offense, and should face the fullest measure of justice - civil and canonical.

But can the same be said for a newly ordained priest who, while still coming into maturity, kisses a parishioner with whom he is friends in a moment of indiscretion, after they both have a few drinks, and then immediately puts a stop to things?

Both are serious offenses that impact the good of souls and the public good. In both situations, the other party was impaired in some way, and could seem to meet the definition of vulnerability. Both should be addressed directly by ecclesiastical authorities. But ought those situations be treated the same?

Applying the Church’s new policy, some canonists have said, requires that Church officials clarify that different kinds of offenses will, and should, merit different kinds of penalties.
 
At the close of the global summit on sexual abuse in February, the organizing committee announced that the follow-up from the meeting would include a motu proprio, now published. They also said that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith would produce a vademecum, a practical and procedural handbook, outlining for bishops their responsibilities.
 
Many in Rome and in diocesan chanceries have told CNA they hope that such a manual will address these concerns, spelling out or at least acknowledging an escalating gradation of crimes and correspondent penalties.

It is not clear when the CDF might publish such a document, or even if it will address these questions. But those concerns might be addressed by other Vatican or diocesan offices.

It is possible that bishops might soon request guidance from the Congregation for Clergy, the curial department which receives the vast majority of cases involving priestly misconduct and requests for laicization. Given that the Congregation for Clergy has long handled clerical sexual issues not defined as sufficiently grave to be sent to the CDF, its experience could prove valuable to bishops trying to understand new canonical definitions and their implications.  

At the same time, bishops themselves might begin to act to bring the provisions of Vos estis into force in their own dioceses.

Bishops like Baltimore’s Archbishop William Lori have already begun taking independent initiatives, like setting up third party reporting mechanisms, to address the current crisis. Bishops might soon decide to also establish localized policies reflecting the norms of Vos estis.

Bishops are canonically free to establish their own guidelines on how they will be applying the new norms of Vos estis, offering what many of the faithful say they want most to see: clear, concrete, steps towards reform in their own home dioceses.

Diocesan norms could also provide the reassurances that many priests are hoping for regarding their rights in the face of accusations, credible or otherwise, and the assurance that “zero-tolerance” will not be a byword for summary justice.

Before the February summit, Pope Francis repeatedly stated his intention not to provide a universal and comprehensive canonical solution to the sexual abuse crisis. Rather, the pope’s stated aim was to provide a global framework which supported bishops in their own responsibilities.

Despite Francis’s insistence that he is providing a foundation for local dioceses to build upon, many bishops are still tempted to look to Rome or the national bishops’ conference to tell them what to do next.

In the same way that no investigative model or review board can insulate the Church from individual episcopal negligence, no papal decree of conference policy can substitute for conversion and leadership by individual bishops. Rome has spoken, and bishops will now face the challenge of carrying out the pope’s direction.

5/13/2019

Vatican City, May 13, 2019 / 09:30 am (CNA).- In an interview with a Chinese state-run publication, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin welcomed the opportunity for China and the Holy See to work together to “build a more secure and prosperous world.”

“The prospect opens up that two ancient, great and sophisticated international entities - like China and the Apostolic See - may become ever more aware of a common responsibility for the grave problems of our time,” Parolin said in an interview with the Global Times published May 12.

The Global Times is an English-language newspaper owned by the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

The cardinal told the state-owned paper that “inculturation,” a Catholic missionary practice, and “sinicization,” a Chinese government campaign, can be “complementary” and “can open avenues for dialogue.”

“Inculturation is an essential condition for a sound proclamation of the Gospel which, in order to bear fruit, requires, on the one hand, safeguarding its authentic purity and integrity and, on the other, presenting it according to the particular experience of each people and culture,” he said.

“These two terms, ‘inculturation’ and ‘sinicization,’ refer to each other without confusion and without opposition.”

Parolin pointed to the example of 16th century Jesuit missionary, Matteo Ricci, as an outstanding witness of fruitful inculturation in China.

“For the future, it will certainly be important to deepen this theme, especially the relationship between ‘inculturation’ and ‘sinicization,’ keeping in mind how the Chinese leadership has been able to reiterate their willingness not to undermine the nature and the doctrine of each religion,” Parolin said.

Since coming to power in 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping has mandated the “sinicization” of all religions in China, a move which the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom called  “a far-reaching strategy to control, govern, and manipulate all aspects of faith into a socialist mold infused with ‘Chinese characteristics.’’

The Chinese government is in the midst of implementing a five-year “sinicization plan” for Islam, a religion that has faced increased persecution in the country with at least 800,000 Uyghur Muslims held in internment camps.

In April 2019, the commission recommended that China continue to be designated as a Country of Particular Concern. This designation is reserved for nations in which the government “engages in or tolerates particularly severe religious freedom violations, meaning those that are systematic, ongoing, and egregious.”

Parolin said that there is “an increased trust between the two sides” since China and the Holy See signed a provisional agreement in September 2018 on the nomination of bishops, saying the accord provides “hope that we can gradually arrive at concrete results.”

“There is confidence that a new phase of greater cooperation can now be opened for the good of the Chinese Catholic community and the harmony of the whole society,” he said.

Parolin also said that it should not come as a surprise that there is criticism of the deal between the Holy See and the Chinese government, as this is what “generally happens in complex issues and when one faces problems of great importance.”

The agreement has been roundly criticized by human rights groups and some Church leaders, including Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong.

Since the agreement was reached, there have been numerous instances of Catholic churches and shrines being demolished by government agents.

More recently, in the capital of Guangdong province, the Guangzhou Department of Ethnic and Religious Affairs offered a reward of 10,000 Chinese yuan (almost $1,500) for information on the activities of religious groups which could lead to the arrest of key leaders.

In March, U.S. ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback said that “since this provisional deal [between the Vatican and China] was announced last year, the Chinese government’s abuse of members of Catholic communities has continued. We see no signs that will change in the near future.”

Parolin reiterated that dialogue is close to the heart of Pope Francis, who is particularly interested in dialogue on the pastoral level.

“The Holy Father asks Catholics in particular to undertake with courage the path of unity, reconciliation and a renewed proclamation of the Gospel. He sees China not only as a great country but also as a great culture, rich in history and wisdom,” he said.

The Vatican Secretary of State pointed to the fight against poverty, environmental and climatic emergencies, migration, and ethical scientific development as global issues in which China and the Vatican can work together in a spirit of positive cooperation with “the dignity of the human person be placed at the center.”

“The Holy See hopes that China will not be afraid to enter into dialogue with the wider world and that the world's nations will give credit to the profound aspirations of the Chinese people. In this way, with everyone working together, I am sure that we will be able to overcome mistrust and build a more secure and prosperous world,” Parolin said.