Skip to content

Should the Church require a year of marriage prep? Catholic formators weigh in

Vatican City, Jun 24, 2022 / 15:38 pm (CNA).

The Vatican last week released a document with recommendations for a year-long “marriage catechumenate” to prepare Catholic couples for the sacrament of matrimony.

In the document’s preface, Pope Francis called adequate marriage preparation a matter of justice, since it precedes a life-long commitment.

But a couple’s experience of sacramental preparation before their wedding can vary widely from place to place.

On June 15, the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life published a booklet called currently available in Italian and Spanish, which suggested three stages of Catholic marriage formation.

The first phase, called “proximate preparation,” should last “about one year,” according to the dicastery’s recommendations. The second phase would take place in the final months before the wedding, and the third part would follow the couple through the first 2-3 years of married life. 

The idea of a marriage catechumenate, the document said, is analogous to the preparation for baptism in the early Church: “a faith formation and accompaniment in the acquisition of a Christian lifestyle, specifically aimed at couples.”

The Vatican said: “It is generally suggested that the upcoming preparation should last approximately one year depending on the couple’s previous experience of faith and ecclesial involvement.”

“Having made the decision to marry — a moment that could be sealed by the rite of betrothal — one could begin the immediate preparation for marriage, lasting a few months, to be set up as an actual initiation into the nuptial sacrament,” it explained.

“The duration of these stages should be adapted, we repeat, taking into account the religious, cultural, and social aspects of the environment in which one lives and even the personal situations of each couple,” the document said. “What is essential is to safeguard the regularity of the meetings in order to accustom couples to take care of their vocation and marriage responsibly.”

Deanna Johnston, the director of family life for the Diocese of Tyler, said she is in favor of a longer marriage preparation, but emphasized that it cannot just be the diocese handing couples a checklist of things to do for 12 months.

“It gives us a challenge, I think, as family life directors,” she told CNA during an interview in Rome, where she traveled with her husband, Michael, and the oldest of her four children, 7-year-old Alexandria, to take part in the World Meeting of Families.

“We can’t just send couples through a program and expect that to be the thing that gives them a happy, healthy, holy marriage,” she said.

At a time when many couples are afraid of divorcing, or come from families of divorce, she emphasized that the Church needs to present the idea of a “marriage catechumenate” as a way to achieve a good marriage, and not just another heavy task to fulfill. 

Part of this, she said, is building relationships with engaged couples that continue even after the wedding day.

“I know for us, we’ve been married for only nine years, and so much life has happened,” Johnston said. “I remember going to Engaged Encounter and some of the things that they had us discuss, but life is very different than I think we thought it would be back in 2013.”

Johnston said she thinks the engagement period is also an opportunity to grow as a person and in virtues such as chastity, even for practicing Catholics.

“That’s one pushback that I’ve heard is like, well, if you have two really well-formed Catholics, why would you make them wait for the sacrament of marriage? But even as well-formed Catholics — Michael is a former seminarian, I am a deacon’s daughter, like we were good Catholics, right? — but we’d never been married before,” she said.

“So, recognizing that these two individuals have never experienced married life together, that it’s so worthwhile for us to invest that time and relationship building to make sure that they have a strong foundation.”

Sheila Reineke, a Natural Family Planning program coordinator for the Diocese of St. Cloud, told CNA she thinks extending marriage preparation from the standard 4-6 months to an 8-12 month program “would allow for relationships to form with the other couples that the couples are meeting with. I think that they could really become a small community.”

Sheila and her husband Vince have been married for 34 years and have four adult children.

Finding community and friendship with other Catholic couples in a Bible study was something that helped strengthen their own marriage early on, they said.

Reineke said she knows some people already find the current standard requirements to marry in the Catholic Church burdensome, and there are always necessary exceptions, such as for military couples.

“I would start by listening” to couples’ concerns, she said. “But again, I think if we speak to them with love and explain the reasons for it, many couples really enjoy the process when they get to the end of it.”

Deanna Johnston’s husband, Michael, is the director of the theology department at a Catholic high school. He said a year of formation for a life-long commitment does not seem unreasonable. 

He and his colleagues try to start even earlier, by setting teenagers up for a successful marriage relationship in the future by “forming them in moral theology and Church history and ethics just so that they have an orientation towards what marriage actually is at a very young age, or a relatively young age.”

He noted that focusing on forming good Catholic families now will have a positive influence on the children from those marriages, and who will be walking into the doors of a high school in a dozen years.

The Johnstons and Reinekes agreed that having mentor couples is a helpful approach to engaged formation.

Bishop John Doerfler told CNA that his Diocese of Marquette also follows the mentor couple model.

One difficulty new married couples often face is a sense of loneliness or isolation, “especially when problems may arise,” he said. “It’s our hope over time that by fostering mentor couples, they know that there’s someone there they can reach out to, so they don’t have to go through difficulties or struggles alone.” 

With the idea of a 12-month preparation, “there needs to be some kind of flexibility,” he said, “because often people will approach us when they have already set a date for their marriage and we want to be able to work with them as best we can.”

“But I think in general, trying to look at preparation for a whole year is a good idea, with some flexibility depending on the circumstances in which people find themselves,” the bishop said. 

Deanna Johnston noted that those preparing engaged couples “won’t have every single answer for them when they’re going through marriage formation in the very beginning, but if we can set it up so that the Church is there to walk with them through all of these different changes and challenges in life — maybe that’s very idealistic but I think it’s very worthwhile.”

Pontifical Academy of Life says overturning of Roe v. Wade ‘challenges the world’

Vatican City, Jun 24, 2022 / 12:54 pm (CNA).

The Pontifical Academy of Life said Friday that the U.S. Supreme Court’s “challenges the whole world.”

“The court's opinion shows how the issue of abortion continues to arouse heated debate. The fact that a large country with a long democratic tradition has changed its position on this issue also challenges the whole world,” the Vatican academy wrote in a statement on June 24.

“The protection and defense of human life is not an issue that can remain confined to the exercise of individual rights, but instead is a matter of broad social significance. After 50 years, it is important to reopen a non-ideological debate on the place that the protection of life has in a civil society to ask ourselves what kind of coexistence and society we want to build,” it said.

The academy's statement was the first official reaction to the court’s decision issued by an entity linked to the Roman Curia. Pope Francis has condemned abortion , referring to it as "murder" and on multiple occasions comparing the act of killing an unborn child to hiring a "hitman" to solve a problem.

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the president of the academy, said: “In the face of Western society that is losing its passion for life, this act is a powerful invitation to reflect together on the serious and urgent issue of human generativity and the conditions that make it possible.”

The Pontifical Academy of Life also urged the importance of assisting mothers carry on with a difficult pregnancy, as well as “ensuring adequate sexual education, guaranteeing health care accessible to all and preparing legislative measures to protect the family and motherhood.”

St. John Paul II founded the Pontifical Academy of Life in 1994 to have the specific task of studying and providing formation on issues in biomedicine and the law regarding the promotion and defense of life.

, the French geneticist who discovered the extra chromosome that causes Down syndrome, served as the pontifical academy’s first president. 

The Pontifical Academy of Life wrote that it joined the U.S. bishops in calling for “healing wounds and repairing social divisions.”

“It is a time for reasoned reflection and civil dialogue, and for coming together to build a society and economy that supports marriages and families, and where every woman has the support and resources she needs to bring her child into this world in love,” the academy said.

Records of Jews who sought Vatican help during Holocaust to go public

Denver Newsroom, Jun 23, 2022 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

Relatives of Holocaust survivors and victims can now look through the files of more than 2,700 Jews who sought help through Vatican channels to escape Nazi persecution before and during the Second World War. The archives have gone public on the internet at the request of Pope Francis.

The files constitute “a heritage that is precious because it gathers the requests for help sent to Pope Pius XII by Jewish people, both the baptized and the non-baptized, after the beginning of Nazi and fascist persecution,” Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations, said in a June 23 article for Vatican News.

This heritage is “now easily accessible to the entire world thanks to a project aimed at publishing the complete digitalized version of the archival series,” he said. “Making the digitized version of the entire Jews/Jewish people series available on the internet will allow the descendants of those who asked for help, to find traces of their loved ones from any part of the world. At the same time, it will allow scholars and anyone interested, to freely examine this special archival heritage, from a distance.”

. The archive hosts a photographic reproduction of each document and an analytical inventory that names all those requesting help.

The series pertains to the papacy of Venerable Pius XII, who was elected pope on March 2, 1939, just six months before the start of the war.

Some requests written by Jews or on behalf of Jews sought help to obtain visas or passports, to find asylum, or to reunify families. Others sought freedom from detention or transfers to a different concentration camp. They sought news of deported people or asked for supplies of food or clothes, financial support, spiritual support, and more.

Requests went through the Secretariat of State, and Church diplomatic channels would try to provide “all the help possible,” said Gallagher.

In 2020, when this archive was first opened to researchers, Vatican officials described the documents as “Pacelli’s List,” using the family name of Pope Pius XII to allude to the “Schindler’s List” of the Stephen Spielberg film about a German who rescued Jews from the Holocaust.

“Although the two cases differ, the analogy perfectly expresses the idea that people in the corridors of the institution at the service of the pontiff, worked tirelessly to provide Jewish people with practical help,” Gallagher said.

Critics of Venerable Pius XII have said he did not do enough to oppose Nazism or to help Jews during the Holocaust. His defenders point to the pope’s record before and during the war, including significant evidence of Vatican assistance for Jews and others persecuted by the Nazis.

The archive series is 170 volumes in total, about 40,000 digital files. About 70% of the material will be made available immediately, but the final volumes are still being integrated into the collection, the Holy See Press Office said in a June 23 bulletin published in the English, Italian, and Hebrew languages.

Most of the Secretariat of State’s foreign relations files were named for geographical subjects, not for a race or religion of people. The Ebrei Archival Series was named “Jews” or “Jewish people” in Italian because “its aim is to preserve the petitions for help from Jewish people all over Europe, received by the Pope during the Nazi-Fascist persecutions,” the press office said.

In the mid-20th century, the Section for Relations with States was known as the Congregation for Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, equivalent to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Msgr. Angelo Dell’Acqua had a diplomatic role in this office called minutante. He and his office oversaw requests from Jews and sought “to provide the petitioners with all possible assistance,” the archive page says.  Dell’Acqua would later become a cardinal and vicar-general of Rome under St. Paul VI.

Some of the Jews who wrote seeking Catholic aid were baptized Christians, but many were not. Many petitions were written by intermediaries on behalf of Jews.

“Thousands of people persecuted for their membership to the Jewish religion, or for merely having ‘non-Aryan’ ancestry, turned to the Vatican, in the knowledge that others had received help,” said Gallagher.

Gallagher’s article in Vatican News recounted the case of Werner Barasch, a 23-year-old German university student of Jewish background who was baptized in 1938. His historic file has documents from his effort to be released from a concentration camp in Spain. On Jan. 17, 1942 Barasch wrote to an Italian friend and asked her to seek the intervention of Pius XII through the apostolic nuncio in Madrid.

Barasch wrote: “with this intervention from Rome, others had been able to leave the

concentration camp.” He said he had hoped to join his mother who had fled to the U.S. in 1939 “to prepare a new life for me.” He needed the help “of someone from outside” so that the authorities would grant his release.

“There is little hope for those who have no outside help,” said Barasch’s letter.

The Vatican file shows the Secretariat of State addressed the case in a few days’ time and “newly” brought it to the attention of the nuncio to Spain. There is nothing more to the paper trail. Like the majority of cases, the Vatican files say nothing about what happened to Barasch.

“In our hearts, we immediately inevitably hope for a positive outcome, the hope that Werner Barasch was later freed from the concentration camp and was able to reach his mother overseas,” Gallagher said.

This hope was fulfilled. Barasch was a known Holocaust survivor who recounted his story at the age of 82 in a video interview now at the online collections of the U.S. Holocaust Museum. He was released from the Spanish camp a year after his appeal to the Pope. In 1945, he was able to join his mother in the U.S. He studied at the University of California, Berkeley, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Colorado before working as a chemist in California.

“As for the majority of requests for help witnessed by other cases, the result of the request was not reported,” Gallagher said.

About 6 million Jews were murdered in the Holocaust.

On June 22, Pope Francis received an international delegation of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights group that counts 400,000 member families in the U.S. The delegation presented to the pope a copy of an original report authored and signed by Nazi leader Adolph Hitler in which he called for the destruction of the Jewish people. The document is dated Sept. 16, 1919, long before the Nazis took power.   

“What began as one man’s opinion would become state policy of Nazi Germany 22 years later, which led to the systematic murder of one-third of world Jewry,” Marvin Hier, founder and CEO of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said at the meeting. “This document shows the power of words and is a warning for everyone to take threats of any demagogue seriously.”

Hier noted anti-Semitic attacks on both sides of the Atlantic, which the Simon Wiesenthal Center said confirm “surging anti-Semitism.”

He also used his remarks to criticize a deal with Iran on nuclear weapons, which the Vatican has supported. Hier also criticized the Russian invasion of Ukraine, charging that Russia was adopting the same tactics as Hitler’s Germany.

The pope accepted the gift of the historic document, which will be placed in the Vatican Archives.

In his remarks, Pope Francis stressed the importance of “recalling history so it can be of service to the future.”  He denounced anti-Semitic attacks. According to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, he said the 1919 letter from Hitler showed that the Nazi leader did not care about the German people but only about promoting a dangerous ideology.

Parents of young mother considered for sainthood share powerful testimony at World Meeting of Families

Denver Newsroom, Jun 23, 2022 / 16:47 pm (CNA).

On June 13, 2012, a 28-year-old Italian woman, Chiara Corbella Petrillo, died in her wedding gown, surrounded by her family and friends. In the 10 years since her passing, the story she left has touched the hearts of many around the world.

At the age of 18, Chiara met the man who would become her husband, Enrico Petrillo. As a married couple, they would face many challenges together. They suffered the death of two of their children, both of whom died 30 minutes after birth. 

Chiara became pregnant again with their son Francesco. The joyful news was short-lived as she was diagnosed with cancer. Her cancer was an unusual lesion of the tongue, which was later discovered to be carcinoma. 

She rejected any form of treatment that posed a risk to her unborn son. As the cancer progressed, it became difficult for Chiara to speak and see. 

Chiara's cause for canonization was announced on June 13, 2017, the fifth anniversary of her death.

Her parents, Roberto and Maria Anselma Corbella, shared their daughters' moving witness of faith during their speech at the Festival of Families, part of the World Meeting of Families, which is being held in Rome from June 22-26. 

They shared the struggles they have faced within their own family, touching on the lives of both of their daughters, Elisa and Chiara. While Elisa lives in northern Italy with her three children, it was the battle Chiara faced that left them “like Mary at the foot of the cross,” but taught them how to embrace their cross and trust in God’s plan.

Her mother Maria explained that Chiara’s son Francesco, now 11 years old, was only one when she passed, but during that time she showed them how “in every situation, one can expect the utmost happiness in this life with God as a guide.” 

“It was difficult for us to accompany her to the threshold of Heaven and let her go, but from that moment such grace flowed that gave us a glimpse of God's plan and kept us from falling into despair,” her mother said. “Chiara’s serenity opened for us a window to eternity and continues to shed light on it to this day.” You can watch the couple's testimony about their daughter in the video below.

In his speech during the Festival of Families, Pope Francis addressed Chiara’s parents and her legacy saying, “You testified that the heavy cross of Chiara’s sickness and death did not destroy your family or eliminate the serenity and peace of your hearts. We can see this in your faces. You are not downcast, desperate, or angry with life. Quite the opposite! What we see in you is great serenity and great faith.”

“As a wife, alongside her husband, she followed the way of the Gospel of the family, simply and spontaneously,” the Holy Father added. “Chiara’s heart also welcomed the truth of the cross as a gift of self: Hers was a life given to her family, to the Church, and to the whole world.”

Describing his daughter, Roberto said, “She did not run away in the face of life's trials, she faced them with her gaze heavenward. … Her every step was directed toward the goal with God's help and Mary's guidance, she was committed to reaching it, with personal prayer keeping her in relationship with the Lord from whom she received the grace that nourished her faith.”

“May Chiara be an inspiration on our own journey of holiness, and may the Lord support and make fruitful every cross that families have to bear,” Pope Francis concluded.

Ukrainian family prays for peace at World Meeting of Families

Vatican City, Jun 23, 2022 / 10:42 am (CNA).

A Ukrainian family of 10 is participating in the World Meeting of Families this week.

Wolodymyr and Tatiana Korczyński arrived in Rome on June 21 with a Ukrainian flag and a desire to pray at St. John Paul II’s tomb for peace in their home country.

As Catholics from 120 countries are gathered at the Vatican to discuss the joys and challenges of family life, the Ukrainian family, currently based in Poland, has shared how war can weigh heavily on children.

“I see that the current situation in Ukraine requires more responsibility from children. They grow up faster,” Tatiana told CNA on June 22.

The mother of eight has seen this especially in her 13-year-old son Franciszek, who often accompanies his father on trips across the Polish border to provide aid and support for the Ukrainian cause.

“Franciszek often goes to Ukraine, but he also stays at home as an older man to support and help me a lot. This is because more responsibilities fall on his shoulders,” she said.

While the war has forced her kids to grow up faster, Tatiana has also observed that her children have also grown in compassion, knowing that many of their peers have lost parents in the war.

“I have more than once sensed that my children would want to adopt those children who stay in Ukraine, who have lost their families,” she said.

Amid the upheaval and uncertainty that their home country has faced, the Korczyński family sees their participation in the World Meeting of Families as an opportunity to pray for Ukraine.

“We feel very honored to represent Ukraine at this congress and to participate. For us, it is a great gift and at the same time a task to be done,” Tatiana said.

“All our prayers and the prayers of the people in Ukraine, who are now praying for peace, we can bring to God here in Rome and implore in an extraordinary way for a miracle, for God's lavishing his grace on our nation.”

Wolodymyr pointed out that the timing of the World Meeting of Families coincides with the anniversary of John Paul II’s apostolic journey to Ukraine in June 2001.

“It is no coincidence to be here now, to ask John Paul II for his mediation, for peace in Ukraine. I think God runs all this,” he said.

“I can honestly say that Wolodymyr and I grew up at a time when the Catholic faith was being persecuted in Ukraine,” Tatiana recalled.

“Our grandmothers taught us the catechism … I think family is the bedrock and the very beginning of the Church,” she said.

Tatiana sees the World Meeting of Families as a celebration of how “we come to know God through love for our neighbor, first of all in the family.”

The Korczyńskis’ daughters, 12-year-old Teresa and 9-year-old Magdalena, added that they like being a part of a big family because of all the time spent together. 

The girls dressed up in matching blue dresses, white hats, and pigtail braids for their Vatican visit, alongside their elder brother, Franciszek. The Korczyńskis’ four youngest kids stayed in Poland in the care of their oldest daughter.

The Korczyński family are Latin rite Catholics originally from the city of Kamianets-Podilskyi in western Ukraine. The family relocated to Poland five years ago in an effort to keep the family together after their eldest daughter was accepted to a school in Szymanów.

“We decided to move and stay together because we think that the greatest gifts of a family are unity, collective prayer and being together in everyday life,” Tatiana said.

Tatiana remembered how the family all prayed the rosary together for peace in the days leading up to Pope Francis’ consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

“We took part in the consecration. We prepared ourselves by confession, participated in the service, and prayed together at home,” Tatiana said.

“At this moment, when Ukraine is suffering, when a lot of people are experiencing great suffering, more people are asking and turning to God. I think it was very timely at that moment to talk about reparation, prayer, repentance, and forgiveness,” she said.

Cardinal Farrell: St. John the Baptist is a ‘witness to the sacredness of life’

Vatican City, Jun 23, 2022 / 02:30 am (CNA).

Cardinal Kevin Farrell said on Thursday that Saint John the Baptist is a witness to the sacredness of life from conception to natural death.

The Irish-American cardinal celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist on June 23.

The Mass in English was part of the , taking place in Rome from June 22-26 with families from around the world. Families are also encouraged to participate in the event from home via .

Even before Saint John the Baptist was born, “at the moment of Mary’s greeting, [he] recognized the Lord Jesus and leaped for joy in Elizabeth’s womb,” Farrell said.

“A call from God reached him while he was still in the womb,” he noted. “It invested him with the great task of preparing the hearts of humankind to receive the Savior of the world.”

The cardinal, who leads the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, which organized the World Meeting of Families, said Saint John’s reaction to encountering the unborn Jesus points to an important aspect of family life.

“All of this helps us to understand another key dimension of the family vocation,” he said, “to be guardians of the sacredness of human life from the first moment of conception to natural death.”

Saint John the Baptist’s birth is ordinarily celebrated on June 24, but is moved to June 23 when it coincides with the Feast of Corpus Christi or the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as happened this year.

In his homily, Cardinal Farrell, who is of the Holy Roman Church, reflected on the liturgy’s , from the Prophet Isaiah.

“The Lord called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name,” Farrell said, quoting Isaiah 49:1.

“The life of each child must be protected and defended precisely because God has great plans for that child's goodness and holiness right from the beginning,” he said.

“God’s call has reached your children too,” he continued, “right from the beginning, so that all of them may be saints of tomorrow and will make our world a brighter place for all.”

Catholic family who welcomed Ukrainian refugees into their home share testimony at the Vatican

Vatican City, Jun 22, 2022 / 13:07 pm (CNA).

As millions of refugees fled the war in Ukraine this year, a Catholic family of eight made the decision to welcome a refugee family into their home.

Pietro and Erika Chiriaco live in Rome with their six children. The couple explained to their children during family prayer time that welcoming a refugee family would be “like welcoming Jesus.”

This is how Iryna and Sofia, a mother and her 17-year-old daughter from Kyiv, came to live in the Chiriaco family in the southern outskirts of Rome. 

The pair left the Ukrainian capital 10 days after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and eventually took a bus to Italy.

“The decision to leave was not easy,” Iryna said.

“Today I thank God because he sent so many good people in our path,” she added. 

Iryna and Sofia shared their story with the pope alongside the Chiriaco family on the stage of the World Meeting of Families, which is taking place in Rome June 22-26.

The Chiriacos said that they made the decision to host the Ukrainian refugees out of gratitude to God. Erika Chiriaco added that the presence of the Ukrainian mother and daughter in their home has been a “blessing from heaven.”

Pope Francis thanked the family for their generosity and for witnessing to what it means to be a “welcoming family.”

“Welcoming is truly a ‘charism’ of families, especially large families,” Pope Francis said.

“We may think that, in a large home, it is harder to welcome other people; yet that is not the case, for families with numerous children are trained to make room for others. They always find space for others.”

The pope added that a family is the place where a person “experiences what it is to be welcomed.” He said that this can be seen when a family welcomes the life of a child with a disability, welcomes a relative facing difficulties, or welcomes an elderly person in need of care. 

The organizers of the 10th World Meeting of Families are encouraging families to participate virtually in this Catholic tradition started by St. John Paul II by tuning into media broadcasts and of the speeches and catecheses.

Pope Francis thanked Iryna and Sofia for sharing their witness to faith amid human brutality at the World Meeting of Families.

“You gave a voice to all those persons whose lives have been devastated by the war in Ukraine,” he said.

“In you, we see the faces and the stories of so many men and women forced to leave their homeland. We thank you, for you have not lost your trust in providence and you have seen how God is at work in your lives, not least through the flesh and blood people he led you to encounter.”

Catholic marriage is a gift, not a formality, Pope Francis says at World Meeting of Families 2022 opening

Vatican City, Jun 22, 2022 / 12:10 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis said Wednesday that Catholic marriage is a gift, not just a formality or rule.

“Marriage is not a formality to be fulfilled. You don’t get married to be Catholic ‘with the label,’ to obey a rule, or because the Church says so, or to throw a party,” the pope said at the opening event of the World Meeting of Families on June 22.

“You get married,” he continued, “because you want to base your marriage on the love of Christ, which is as firm as a rock.”

“We can say that when a man and a woman fall in love, God offers them a gift: marriage. A wonderful gift, which has in it the power of divine love: strong, enduring, faithful, able to recover after any failure or fragility,” Francis said. 

The World Meeting of Families 2022 opened with a Festival of Families in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall. The event featured a performance by Italian operatic rock trio Il Volo.

Pope Francis and around 2,000 families from around the world also listened to the testimonies of married couples and individuals with stories of overcoming incredible challenges or of serving others.

The 10th edition of the World Meeting of Families, which ends on June 26, includes three days of talks from lay Catholics on subjects related to marriage and the family. Mass and Eucharistic adoration are also on the schedule.

Pope Francis told families: “In marriage Christ gives himself to you, so that you have the strength to give yourselves to each other.”

“Take courage, then, family life is not an impossible mission,” he added. “With the grace of the sacrament, God makes it a wonderful journey to be taken together with him, never alone.”

“Family is not a beautiful ideal, unattainable in reality. God guarantees his presence in marriage and family, not only on your wedding day but throughout your life. And he sustains you every day in your journey,” Francis said.

First married couple to be beatified together featured at World Meeting of Families

Vatican City, Jun 22, 2022 / 09:46 am (CNA).

Relics of the first married couple to be beatified together by the Catholic Church can be venerated inside St. Peter’s Basilica this week during the World Meeting of Families in Rome.

Blessed Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi are the official patrons of the 10th World Meeting of Families taking place in Rome on June 22-26.

The Italian couple was married for 45 years, enduring two world wars together and nurturing their four children’s vocations in service of the Church amid unprecedented difficulties facing Europe.

Both of their sons became priests in the 1930s and went on to concelebrate the beatification Mass of their parents with John Paul II in 2001. 

Their eldest son, Father Tarcisio Beltrame, a Benedictine monk, and his younger brother Father Paolino, a Trappist, both risked their lives to secretly work with the resistance during the Nazi occupation of Italy in World War II, while the Beltrame Quattrocchi family’s apartment in Rome served as a hiding place for fugitives and Italians with Jewish heritage.

A living relative of the Beltrame Quattrocchi family says that he has documents from the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS) confirming the sons’ collaboration in the Resistance movement, which was made even riskier by the fact that the family’s apartment was located right by the headquarters of the German command in Rome. 

“If they had been discovered they would have all been immediately shot,” Francesco Beltrame Quattrocchi told EWTN. 

The Beltrame Quattrocchis’ daughters also enthusiastically served the Church. Their eldest daughter, Stefania, entered a Benedictine monastery as a nun in 1927. And the youngest child in their family, Enrichetta Beltrame Quattrocchi, was a lay consecrated woman who has been declared venerable.

At the root of their children’s vocations and the courageous witness of the Beltrame Quattrocchi family during times of trial was the rich spiritual foundation within Luigi and Maria’s marriage. 

When St. John Paul II beatified Luigi and Maria in 2001, he  that the blessed married couple “lived an ordinary life in an extraordinary way.”

“Among the joys and anxieties of a normal family, they knew how to live an extraordinarily rich spiritual life. At the center of their life was the daily Eucharist as well as devotion to the Virgin Mary, to whom they prayed every evening with the rosary,” he said.

Luigi and Maria lived lives of heroic virtue together as spouses and parents. The couple was married in the Basilica of St. Mary Major on Nov. 25, 1905. Luigi was 25 years old and Maria was 21. A plaque commemorating their marriage can be seen in the basilica’s Corsini chapel today. 

After being married in Rome’s largest Marian basilica, the couple later entrusted their family and all their children to Our Lady of Divine Love.

“This couple lived married love and service to life in the light of the Gospel and with great human intensity. With full responsibility they assumed the task of collaborating with God in procreation, dedicating themselves generously to their children, to teach them, guide them and direct them to discovering his plan of love,” John Paul II said.

“From this fertile spiritual terrain sprang vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life, which shows how, with their common roots in the spousal love of the Lord, marriage, and virginity may be closely connected and reciprocally enlightening.”

Luigi worked as a lawyer and Maria served as a catechist and wrote several books on education while raising their four children.

The couple also organized Catholic marriage preparation courses for engaged couples through their work in Catholic Action.

During World War I, the family also assisted the wounded and families facing difficulties. They also financially supported some young people who wished to become priests or enter religious life.

Luigi died of a heart attack in 1951 at the age of 71. Maria lived for another 14 years after the death of her beloved husband and continued her dedicated service to her family and the Church.

In addition to the first-class relics of the blessed married couple, which can be found in front of the main altar in St. Peter’s Basilica, several other personal items of theirs will be on display in the Paul VI Hall during the World Meeting of Families in Rome. 

The items showcase how the couple’s spiritual lives were intertwined with the love shared in their marriage. On display is the engagement ring that Luigi gave to Maria and the Bible that the couple would read together. 

There is also the small holy card of the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary of Pompei that Maria gave to Luigi before their wedding, which Luigi kept in his wallet for over 40 years. 

The beatified couple are buried together in Rome’s Sanctuary of Divine Love. 

Pope Francis mourns Catholic priests killed in Mexico

Vatican City, Jun 22, 2022 / 06:35 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Wednesday he is mourning the death of two Jesuit priests who were killed in Mexico this week.

“I also express my sorrow and dismay at the killing in Mexico the day before yesterday of two Jesuit religious, my brothers, and a layman,” the pope said on June 22 in St. Peter’s Square.

“How many killings in Mexico,” he said before thousands of pilgrims. “I am close with affection and prayer to the Catholic community affected by this tragedy. Once again, I repeat that violence does not solve problems, but increases unnecessary suffering.”

The Jesuits of Mexico announced Tuesday that two of their priests inside a church in a mountainous region of Chihuahua state.

Fathers Javier Campos Morales and Joaquín César Mora Salazar had served as Jesuit priests for nearly a century combined. The gunmen who carried out the June 20 attack on the church in Cerocahui, Chihuahua also took their bodies.

According to the Chihuahua State Attorney General’s Office, both priests tried to protect a person who sought refuge in the church while being chased by at least one other man, both armed, El Sol de Mexico newspaper reported. The chaser reportedly shot and killed all three men.

Luis Gerardo Moro Madrid SJ, Provincial of the Jesuits of Mexico, condemned the killings and said they are “working with the federal and state authorities to ensure the safety” of the parish’s two remaining priests.

Pope Francis expressed his sorrow at the death of the priests in an appeal at the end of his Wednesday general audience.

He also said he is praying for victims of a powerful earthquake in Afghanistan, which struck just after 1:30 a.m. local time on Wednesday.

At least 920 people have been killed, and hundreds injured, according to Taliban officials, the BBC reported.

“In the past few hours, an earthquake has claimed lives and caused extensive damage in Afghanistan,” Pope Francis said.

“I express my sympathy to the injured and those affected by the earthquake and pray especially for those who lost their lives and their families,” he said. “I hope that with everyone’s help, the suffering of the dear people of Afghanistan can be alleviated.”

Pope Francis: Do not sugarcoat your witness of the Gospel

Vatican City, Jun 22, 2022 / 04:00 am (CNA).

Do not sugarcoat your witness of the Gospel, but let the truth be made manifest even through your weakness, Pope Francis said in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday.

“We can ask ourselves: are we capable of preserving the tenor of this relationship of Jesus with the disciples, according to that style of his that is so open, so frank, so direct, so humanly real?” the pope said on June 22. “How is our relationship with Jesus? Is it like that, like him with his disciples?”

“Are we not, instead, very often tempted to enclose the testimony of the Gospel in the cocoon of a ‘sugary’ revelation, to which is added our own circumstantial veneration?” he continued. “This attitude, which seems like respect, actually distances us from the real Jesus, and even becomes the occasion for a very abstract, very self-referential, very worldly walk of faith.”

Pope Francis said Jesus is present to us even in our old age and infirmity, as our dependency on others grows.

“Jesus is the Word of God made man, and he acts as man, he speaks to us as man, God-man. With this tenderness, with this friendship, with this closeness. Jesus is not like that sugary image in those little pictures, no: Jesus is at our side, he is close to us,” he said.

Continuing a series of lessons on old age, Francis reflected during the general audience on Jesus’ “moving dialogue” with Peter at the end of the Gospel of John.

The conversation, in which Jesus asks Peter if he loves him, reflects “a relationship in truth,” he said.

He recalled Jesus’ words to St. Peter, that “when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”

The pope encouraged the elderly to embrace their weaknesses and their ill health, rather than fight against it.

“Tell me about having to go in a wheelchair, eh,” he said. Pope Francis has been using a cane and wheelchair in recent weeks due to an inflamed ligament in his knee.

“But that’s how it is, that’s how life is: with old age you get all these diseases and we have to accept them as they come, don’t we,” he remarked.

“We don’t have the strength of the young,” the pope continued. “And your witness, too, Jesus says, will go along with this weakness. You are to give witness to Jesus even in weakness, in sickness and death.”

Pope Francis recalled a quote from St. Ignatius of Loyola, who said, “Just as in life, even in death we must bear witness as disciples of Jesus.”

Even at the end of life we must continue to be disciples of Christ, he urged, noting that St. John the Evangelist, in the Gospel, explains that Jesus is alluding to the witness of martyrdom.

“But we can well understand more generally the meaning of this admonition: your pursuit [of Jesus] will have to learn to be taught and shaped by your frailty, your helplessness, your dependence on others, even in dressing, in walking,” he said.

Jesus, the pope said, continues to say, “you, ‘follow me.’”

Catholics should reflect, he said, on how to “remain faithful to the lived pursuit, to the promised love, to the justice sought in the time of our capacity for initiative, in the time of fragility, in the time of dependence, of leave-taking…”

“Following Jesus is important: always follow Jesus, on foot, running, slowly, in a wheelchair, but always follow him,” he urged.

Pope Francis: Nuclear weapons are ‘immoral’

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 21, 2022 / 11:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis condemned the use of nuclear weapons in favor of a “culture of life and peace” in a message released Tuesday. 

“I wish to reaffirm that the use of nuclear weapons, as well as their mere possession, is immoral,” the pontiff wrote to Ambassador Alexander Kmentt, president of the First Meeting of States Parties, regarding the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). 

“Trying to defend and ensure stability and peace through a false sense of security and a ‘balance of terror,' sustained by a mentality of fear and mistrust inevitably ends up poisoning relationships between peoples and obstructing any possible form of real dialogue,” Pope Francis wrote. “Possession leads easily to threats of their use, becoming a sort of ‘blackmail’ that should be repugnant to the consciences of humanity.” 

States parties to the TPNW are gathering in Vienna, Austria, June 21-23 to “commit to concrete actions to implement obligations under the Treaty,” which envisions a world without nuclear weapons, according to the . 

“The Holy See has no doubt that a world free from nuclear weapons is both necessary and possible,” Pope Francis added. “In a system of collective security, there is no place for nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.”

Pope Francis identified the treaty’s “courageous vision” as “ever more timely,” adding that “we need to remain aware of the dangers of short-sighted approaches to national and international security and the risks of proliferation.”

“As we know all too well, the price for not doing so is inevitably paid by the number of innocent lives taken and measured in terms of carnage and destruction,” he said.

He urged that disarmament treaties are not only legal obligations but also “moral commitments.” 

Peace, Pope Francis said, is “indivisible,” and to be just and lasting, it must also be “universal.” 

“It is deceptive and self-defeating reasoning to think that the security and peace of some is disconnected from the collective security and peace of others,” he said.

He emphasized the Catholic Church's role.

“For its part, the Catholic Church remains irrevocably committed to promoting peace between peoples and nations and fostering education for peace throughout its institutions,” the pope’s statement says. “This is a duty to which the Church feels bound before God and every man and woman in our world.”

Pope Francis called on people to be responsible for maintaining peace, both on a public level and a personal level. It is a legal discussion as well as an ethical discussion, he said. He added that this treaty recognizes that education for peace can play an important role in teaching current and future generations.

The statement also paid homage to the survivors of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as to all victims of nuclear-arms testing.

Pope Francis closed by encouraging representatives, international organizations, and all of civil society to continue to promote “a culture of life and peace based upon the dignity of the human person and the awareness that we are all brothers and sisters.”

Pope Francis has expressed concern about nuclear weapons in the past. More recently, in the context of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the pope that the image of Noah’s flood is “gaining ground in our subconscious” as the world considers the possibility of a nuclear war “that will extinguish us.”

Pope Francis discusses ‘survival of Christians in the Middle East’ with Melkite bishops

Vatican City, Jun 20, 2022 / 09:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis discussed the "survival of Christians in the Middle East" with Catholic bishops from Syria and Lebanon at the Vatican on Monday.

The pope met with Patriarch Youssef Absi of Antioch and other representatives of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church as the Eastern church began its synod of bishops, which is taking place in Rome June 20-25.

In the meeting, Absi asked Pope Francis to put pressure on political authorities to “draw a red line,” prioritizing the protection of the Christian presence in the Middle East.

The patriarch told the pope of the Melkite bishops’ concern that widespread poverty, low standards of living, and dangerous conditions have led to a wave of emigration from the region, particularly of young people.

Pope Francis said: “You are rightly concerned about the survival of Christians in the Middle East — I too am worried — it’s a concern that I fully share.”

The pope also noted that the Melkite church now has a worldwide presence with eparchies in Argentina, Australia, the United States, Canada, and Venezuela.

The Melkite Greek Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the pope based in the Syrian capital of Damascus. Absi was elected as the Melkite patriarch of Antioch, Alexandria, Jerusalem and All the East during a synod in Lebanon in 2017.

Pope Francis recalled that since the start of his pontificate thousands of people have died in “beloved and martyred Syria” and millions more have fled the region as refugees.

“The tragedies of recent months, which sadly force us to turn our gaze to the east of Europe, must not make us forget what has been going on in your land for 12 years,” the pope .

During the meeting, Pope Francis renewed his appeal to both Syrian authorities and the international community to achieve “an equitable and just solution to the tragedy in Syria.”

“On more than one occasion I happened to meet and hear the account of some young Syrian who had arrived here, and I was struck by the drama he carried within him, by what he had experienced and seen, but also by his gaze, almost drained of hope, unable to dream of a future for his land. We cannot allow even the last spark of hope to be taken out of the eyes and hearts of young people and families,” the pope said.

Let Jesus Christ feed the hungers of your life, Pope Francis says on Corpus Christi

Denver Newsroom, Jun 19, 2022 / 09:56 am (CNA).

The Feast of Corpus Christi is a time for Christians to remember that God will meet their basic needs to eat and to be filled with the joy and amazement of receiving loving nourishment from Jesus Christ, Pope Francis said Sunday.

At the same time, the pope emphasized, the Eucharist must also move Christians to action.

“We can evaluate our Eucharistic Adoration when we take care of our neighbor like Jesus does,” the pope said Sunday before the recitation of the Angelus at St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

“There is hunger for food around us, but also for companionship; there is hunger for consolation, friendship, good humor; there is hunger for attention, there is hunger to be evangelized. We find this in the Eucharistic Bread — the attention of Christ to our needs and the invitation to do the same toward those who are beside us. We need to eat and feed others.”

The pope’s remarks reflected on Sunday’s Gospel reading, the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes from the Gospel of Luke. 

The pope linked the reading to the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. The Eucharist was like “the destination of a journey along which Jesus had prefigured through several signs, above all the multiplication of the loaves narrated in the Gospel of today’s liturgy."

The pontiff reflected on the manner of the miracle when Jesus fed so many who lacked food.

“The miracle of the loaves and fishes does not happen in a spectacular way, but almost secretly, like the wedding at Cana — the bread increases as it passes from hand to hand. And as the crowd eats, they realize that Jesus is taking care of everything,” said Pope Francis. 

“This is the Lord present in the Eucharist. He calls us to be citizens of Heaven, but at the same time he takes into account the journey we have to face here on earth,” he said. “If I have hardly any bread in my sack, he knows and takes care of it himself.”

The pope connected the tangible needs of food with the intangible needs of humankind.

“Sometimes there is the risk of confining the Eucharist to a vague, distant dimension, perhaps bright and perfumed with incense, but rather distant from the straits of everyday life. In reality, the Lord takes all our needs to heart, beginning with the most basic,” he said. 

“In the Eucharist, everyone can experience this loving and concrete attention of the Lord. Those who receive the Body and Blood of Christ with faith not only eat, but are satisfied. To eat and to be satisfied: These are two basic necessities that are satisfied in the Eucharist,” he added. “The crowd is satisfied because of the abundance of food and also because of the joy and amazement of having received it from Jesus!"

Jesus Christ’s self-giving presence is key to understanding the Eucharist, the pope said.

“We certainly need to nourish ourselves, but we also need to be satisfied, to know that the nourishment is given to us out of love. In the Body and Blood of Christ, we find his presence, his life given for each of us. He not only gives us help to go forward, but he gives us himself — he makes himself our traveling companion, he enters into our affairs, he visits us when we are lonely, giving us back a sense of enthusiasm.”

“This satisfies us, when the Lord gives meaning to our life, our obscurities, our doubts; he sees the meaning, and this meaning that the Lord gives satisfies us,” the pope explained. Everyone is looking for the presence of the Lord, because “in the warmth of his presence, our lives change,” the pope added.

“Without him, everything would truly be gray,” he said. “Adoring the Body and Blood of Christ, let us ask him with our heart: ‘Lord, give me that daily bread to go forward, Lord, satisfy me with your presence!’”  

The pope also prayed that the Virgin Mary may teach us “how to adore Jesus, living in the Eucharist and to share him with our brothers and sisters.”

After the Angelus, the pope discussed the Saturday beatification of Dominican religious who were killed in the Spanish Civil War.

“They were all killed in hatred of the faith in the religious persecution that took place in Spain in the context of the civil war of the last century,” the pope said, calling for applause for them. “Their witness of adherence to Christ and forgiveness for their killers show us the way to holiness and encourage us to make their lives an offering of love to God and their brothers and sisters.”

The conflict of Ukraine after the Russian invasion also was a point for prayer, the pope said: “Let us not forget the suffering of the Ukrainian people in this moment, a people who are suffering.”

“I would like you all to keep in mind a question: What am I doing today for the Ukrainian people? Do I pray? Am I doing something? Am I trying to understand? What am I doing today for the Ukrainian people? Each one of you, answer in your own heart,” he asked.

Pope Francis also lamented the violence in Myanmar, which has forced many to flee their homes and blocked them from meeting basic needs.

“I join the appeal of the bishops of that beloved land, that the international community does not forget the Burmese people, that human dignity and the right to life be respected, as well as places of worship, hospitals, and schools. And I bless the Burmese community in Italy, represented here today,” he said.

In early 2021 the Myanmar military seized power in the country. Its crackdown on opponents provoked a violent backlash. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has said the conflict has displaced more than 800,000 people from their homes. Of these, 250,000 are children. 

Military forces continue to target churches and Christian institutions. On June 15 government soldiers  in Dawnyaykhu in Phruso Township in Karenni State.

Pope Francis also noted that the 10th World Meeting of Families will begin June 22 in Rome and throughout the world. Around 2,000 Catholic families will gather in Rome this week to meet Pope Francis and hear talks on marriage and the faith.

“I thank the bishops, parish priests, and family pastoral workers who have called families to moments of reflection, celebration and festivity,” he said. “Above all, I thank the married couples and families who will bear witness to family love as a vocation and way to holiness. Have a good meeting!”

Pope Francis: Follow St. Paul’s wisdom when using tech to spread the Gospel

Vatican City, Jun 18, 2022 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has pointed to St. Paul as a model for Catholics who seek to use the latest technologies to communicate the Gospel.

In a delivered to the Society of Saint Paul on June 18, the pope encouraged the Catholic religious congregation to continue “using the most effective and up-to-date means of communication to bring the Good News to people where and how they live.”

He told the priests, who work in a communications apostolate, not to forget St. Paul’s message in the Letter to Romans to not be conformed to this age, but to be transformed by the renewal of their minds.

“Paul does not say transform the world, but … ‘let yourselves be transformed,’ that is, make room for the only subject who can transform you: the Holy Spirit, the Grace of God,” he said.

“It is therefore first of all the mentality that must be changed, converted, and assimilated to that of Jesus, in order to help spread in society a way of thinking and living based on the Gospel. This is a great challenge for the Church …” Pope Francis added.

“Indeed, it is not enough to use the means of communication to spread the Christian message and the Magisterium of the Church; it is necessary to integrate the message itself into the new culture created by modern communication,” he said.

The was founded in Italy in the early 20th century by , who also founded the Daughters of St. Paul, also known as the Media Nuns.

“From St. Paul you learn anew the passion for the Gospel and the missionary spirit, which, being born from his ‘pastoral heart,’ pushed him to make himself everything to everyone,” Pope Francis wrote in the message delivered to the Pauline priests.

“And now, after the early days of euphoria for technological innovations, we are aware that it is not enough to live ‘online’ or ‘connected,’ we need to see to what extent our communication, enriched by the digital environment, actually creates bridges and contributes to the construction of the culture of encounter,” he said.

During the audience at the Vatican with the participants in the Society of Saint Paul’s 11th general chapter, the pope decided to hand out his pre-written message and to speak off the cuff, rather than reading the speech aloud.

Pope Francis warned in his impromptu comments that there is much “disinformation” in today’s media, “where one thing is said but many others are hidden.”

The pope said that “bad communication distorts reality.” He called on the media apostolate not only to communicate clearly, but to help “redeem communication from the state it is in today” – full of slander and scandals.

“We must make sure that this does not happen in our communication of the faith … that the message comes precisely from our vocation, from the Gospel, crisp, clear, and witnessed with our own lives,” he said.

Pope Francis: The Virgin Mary teaches us ‘to live eucharistically’

Vatican City, Jun 18, 2022 / 07:00 am (CNA).

The Blessed Virgin Mary never allowed herself to be “paralyzed by pride or fear,” but she arose and went with haste to humbly offer a helping hand, the pope told young Catholics on Saturday.

“Mary teaches us also to live eucharistically. In other words, to give thanks, to cultivate praise, and to not be fixated only on problems and difficulties,” Pope Francis on June 18.

Pope Francis underlined that the Mother of God did not stay home and think about the great privilege she had received after her encounter with the angel at the Annunciation, nor did she fixate on the many problems it could bring.

“She was not one of those people for whom all it takes to be comfortable and secure is a good sofa: ‘couch potatoes.’ If her elderly relative needed a helping hand, she was ready to set out immediately to be there for her,” he added.

The pope spoke in an audience with young Catholics who are part of the , the second-biggest Eastern Catholic Church with more than four million members worldwide.

Based in India, the Syro-Malabar Church is one of the 23 autonomous Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome. It is the largest of the churches that trace their origin to St. Thomas the Apostle, who is believed to have traveled as far as southern India during his missionary journeys after his life-changing encounter with the risen Jesus.

Pope Francis told the participants in the Syro-Malabar Youth Leaders Conference that they are called to bear witness to the truth that “our lives find substance and meaning whenever we say ‘yes’ to Jesus.”

He said: “You are the young people of the Syro-Malabar diaspora. The Apostle Thomas came to the west coast of India to sow the seeds of the Gospel and the first Christian communities grew up there. According to tradition, this year marks the 1,950th anniversary of Thomas's martyrdom, which sealed his friendship with Jesus, whom he had called: ‘My Lord and my God!’”

“The Church is apostolic because she is founded on the testimony of the Apostles, and continues to grow not by proselytism, but by witness. Every baptized person shares in building up the Church to the extent that he or she is a witness. You too are called to bear witness, primarily among your peers in the Syro-Malabar diaspora, but also among those who do not belong to your communities, and even those who do not know the Lord Jesus.”

Pope Francis encouraged the young Catholics to be like Mary, who visited her older cousin Elizabeth, by visiting their elderly relatives and receiving their wisdom.

“The young mother of Jesus was very familiar with the prayers of her people, which she had learned from her parents and grandparents. There is a hidden treasure in the prayers of our elders. In the Magnificat, Mary takes up the legacy of faith passed down by her people and makes it a song of her own; at the same time, the whole Church sings that song with her,” he said.

“If you, young people, want to make your own lives a canticle of praise, a gift for all humanity, it is essential to be grounded in the tradition and prayer of past generations. This is particularly true for you; it means discovering that treasure ever anew, with the help of your bishops and priests, in the history of your Church and in its spiritual and liturgical riches.”

“Above all, I encourage you to be familiar with the word of God, to read it each day and to apply it to your life. Jesus, the risen Lord, will warm your hearts and shed light on your journey, even in life's most difficult and dark moments,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis: Candidates for the priesthood must be well scrutinized

Vatican City, Jun 17, 2022 / 09:10 am (CNA).

Pope Francis spoke on Friday about the importance of scrutinizing candidates for the priesthood to ensure that the men who reach ordination are well-formed and mature.

In a meeting with seminary formators from the on June 17, the pope that the process of accompanying those discerning vocations to the priesthood required sensitivity and expert skill.

“When discerning whether or not a person can embark on a vocational journey, it is necessary to scrutinize and evaluate him in an integral way: to consider his way of experiencing affections, relationships, spaces, roles, responsibilities, as well as his frailties, fears, and imbalances,” Pope Francis said.

“The whole journey must initiate processes aimed at forming mature priests and consecrated persons, who are ‘experts in humanity and closeness’ and not ‘officials of the sacred.’”

Pope Francis underlined that each man brings with him a unique family, personal, and spiritual history to the seminary.

“Sexuality, affectivity, and relationships are dimensions of the person to be considered and understood, by both the Church and science, also in relation to socio-cultural challenges and changes,” he said.

“An open attitude and good witness allow the educator to ‘encounter’ the whole personality of the ‘called one,’ engaging his intelligence, emotions, heart, dreams, and aspirations.”

To achieve this outcome, seminary formators themselves must be growing daily “toward the fullness of Christ,” the pope said, so that the charity of Christ may be more clearly manifested in them.

“Seminarians and young people in formation should be able to learn more from your life than from your words; to be able to learn docility from your obedience, industriousness from your dedication, generosity with the poor from your sobriety and availability, fatherhood from your chaste and non-possessive affections. We are consecrated to serve the People of God, to take care of all, starting with the poorest,” Pope Francis told the priests.

“Suitability for ministry is tied to availability, joy, and generosity toward others. The world needs priests who are able to communicate the goodness of the Lord to those who have experienced sin and failure, priests who are experts in humanity … men who know how to listen to the cry of those who suffer.”

Pope Francis: Jesus and the Buddha understood need to overcome egoism

Vatican City, Jun 17, 2022 / 08:38 am (CNA).

Pope Francis spoke about the teachings of Jesus and the Buddha during a meeting with a Buddhist delegation from Thailand on Friday.

“Sadly, on all sides, we hear the cry of a wounded humanity and a broken earth. The Buddha and Jesus understood the need to overcome the egoism that gives rise to conflict and violence,” the pope at the Vatican on June 17.

He added: “The sums up the Buddha’s teachings thus: 'To avoid evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one’s mind — this is the teaching of the Buddha.’”

“Jesus told his disciples: ‘I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another,’” Francis said, quoting from .

“Our task today,” he went on, “is to guide our respective followers to a more vivid sense of the truth that we are all brothers and sisters. It follows that we should work together to cultivate compassion and hospitality for all human beings, especially the poor and marginalized.”

Pope Francis’ encounter with the Thai delegation marked the 50th anniversary of a historic meeting between Pope Paul VI and the Most Venerable Somdej Phra Wannarat, the 17th Supreme Buddhist Patriarch of Thailand, on June 5, 1972.

In his speech, Pope Francis hailed 50 years of steady growth in dialogue and collaboration between Thai Buddhists and Catholics.

He also renewed the words of Pope Paul VI 50 years ago to the Thai delegation, that “we have a profound regard for the spiritual, moral, and socio-cultural treasures that have been bestowed on you through your precious traditions.”

“We recognize the values of which you are the custodians, and we share the desire that they should be preserved and fostered,” Francis continued to quote.

“We hope there will be increasing friendly dialogue and close collaboration between the traditions that you represent and the Catholic Church.”

The Thai Buddhist delegation included three prominent Buddhist monks of both the Theravada and Mahayana schools, 60 lay Buddhists, and several representatives of the Thai Catholic Church.

Pope Francis recalled his on Nov. 20-23, 2019, “and the wonderful welcome and hospitality I received.”

On Friday afternoon, the Vatican’s hosted a conference with Rome’s on

US Catholics gave $13 million to Peter’s Pence collection in 2021

Vatican City, Jun 16, 2022 / 04:11 am (CNA).

Catholics in the United States made the largest contribution to the Vatican’s Peter’s Pence fund in 2021, with a donation of $13 million, representing almost 30% of all donations.

The income of the pope’s charitable fund increased overall by 2.9 million euros in 2021, quashing an that contributions would decrease by 15% from the year before.

According to a report published on Thursday, received a total of 46.9 million euros ($48.8 million) in 2021.

Donations from Catholics made up 44.4 million euros and 2.5 million euros came from other sources.

After U.S. Catholics, Catholics in Italy gave the second-largest amount at 5 million euros ($5.2 million). Germany was in third place, with 2.3 million euros, followed by South Korea, France, Spain, Brazil, Ireland, the Czech Republic, and Canada.

Peter’s Pence is the Holy See’s annual collection to finance the pope’s charitable works and other priorities, including the Roman Curia.

The annual collection is usually taken up in Catholic churches around the world on a weekend close to the June 29 .

The fund’s total collection in 2020 was 44 million euros (about $49 million), an 18% decrease from the year prior. Peter’s Pence also saw a fall in annual income of 23% from 2015 to 2019.

Total expenses in 2021 amounted to 65.3 million euros, leaving a deficit of 18.4 million, which was covered by Peter’s Pence reserve funds.

The Vatican used 55.5 million euros from Peter’s Pence to support the Holy See and its work and 9.8 million euros went toward providing direct assistance to aid projects around the world.

In January 2022, Father Juan A. Guerrero, S.J., prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, told Vatican News that while not all donations had yet been recorded, there was a in the collection, which he expected to amount to at least 15%.

We have a new Vatican constitution, but where are the new curial appointments?

Vatican City, Jun 16, 2022 / 03:40 am (CNA).

The curial revolution seems to be on pause — though it is not clear for how long.

After the went into force on June 5, Pope Francis was expected to make a wave of appointments to senior curial posts.

Given that the constitution renamed and, in some cases, merged Vatican departments, it seemed likely that the pope would immediately confirm some curial leaders in their posts and appoint others to new positions.

That hasn’t happened yet, though the appointments could arrive today, tomorrow, later this month, or even after the consistory creating new cardinals in August.

What are the possible reasons for this delay?

When the new constitution entered into force, it seemed likely that the pope would appoint a new Major Penitentiary, the head of the Vatican’s , given that the current incumbent, , is two years beyond the retirement age of 75.

, currently the pope’s vicar for the Diocese of Rome, appeared to be destined for the post. This would have created an opening for the appointment of a new vicar.

Everything seemed ready for the arrival at the vicariate of , the archbishop of Siena and a former auxiliary bishop of Rome. Lojudice is considered one of the pope’s favorite Italian prelates and was to be the next president of the Italian bishops’ conference.

But Pope Francis met De Donatis on June 9, and Monsignor Angelo Pedretti, secretary-general of the vicariate, on June 11. The meetings were very positive and the pope confirmed both men in their current positions.

Lojudice is therefore now expected to stay in the archdiocese of Siena, which should be joined in person by another small suffragan diocese. In short, everything has changed in the last week — at least until the pope decides otherwise.

Since June 5, the official daily records of private papal audiences — known as audience sheets — have offered clues about coming curial appointments.

Cardinal-elect Arthur Roche, who met the pope last week, was on the audience sheet as the prefect of the newly named Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. , who met the pope on June 11, was as prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops.

On the official website of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, is as the prefect of the newly titled dicastery.

, meanwhile, had no title on the on June 9. Archbishop Rino Fisichella, until now president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, was described simply as “titular archbishop of Voghenza,” even at the presenting the message for the .

A possible explanation is that the leaders of the dicasteries that have simply changed their names are still in office. Nevertheless, a new appointment is needed to define the heads of the dicasteries that have changed not only their names but also their competencies.

The impression given is of a Curia “sede vacante.” In this situation, with no formalization of new roles, no curial employee can feel entirely secure. Everything will remain suspended until the new appointments arrive or the pope publishes transitory norms. Time is crucial: at the moment, there is only the pope in command, with a Curia devoid of reference points.

There are various rumors about how Pope Francis will design the new Curia.

The latest hypotheses suggest that the leaders of the Secretariat of State will be confirmed in place, and so will the following:

  • , general secretary of the Synod (formerly the Synod of Bishops);

  • , prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life;

  • , prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development;

  • Cardinal-elect Arthur Roche, prefect of the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments;

  • Cardinal-elect Lazarus You Heung-sik, prefect of the Dicastery for the Clergy;

  • , prefect of the Dicastery for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life;

  • , prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints;

  • , prefect of the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue;

  • Cardinal Kurt Koch, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity;

  • Paolo Ruffini, lay prefect of the Dicastery for Communication.

There are also expected to be some temporary confirmations. So, for example, , prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, and , prefect of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches, could stay until September. And perhaps Ouellet will also remain in charge of the Dicastery for Bishops for a while.

Who will replace Ladaria? Some speculate that it will be Tagle, but others think he will instead succeed Ouellet at the Dicastery for Bishops.

Since 2019, the Filipino cardinal has served as the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, which under the new constitution is absorbed into the flagship Dicastery for Evangelization. But it seems that Tagle will not be pro-prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization for the Propaganda Fide section. Fisichella, however, is expected to be pro-prefect of the new evangelization section.

When Sandri retires, his place could be taken by , currently prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Archbishop Filippo Iannone, head of the Dicastery for Legislative Texts, should therefore go to the Signatura. His place would be taken by Bishop Marco Mellino, secretary of the Council of Cardinals and editor of . It would therefore be Mellino who was responsible for resolving the various disputes concerning the new constitution’s interpretation.

If De Donatis does not go to the Apostolic Penitentiary, another Major Penitentiary will have to be appointed, as well as a pro-prefect for evangelization in place of Tagle.

should remain prefect of the Dicastery of Charity, which has taken the place of the Office of Papal Charities (Elemosineria Apostolica). As there is no continuity between the two offices, a formal appointment will be needed.

The pope will also have to appoint the new prefect of the Dicastery for Culture and Education, which replaces the Congregation for Catholic Education, led by , and the Pontifical Council for Culture, led by . Both men are over 75 years old. Indeed, Ravasi is almost over 80, so he will also lose all positions in the Curia.

The new prefect is expected to be , the Archivist and Librarian of the Holy Roman Church, who will also manage the Apostolic Library.

It remains to be seen whether these rumors will be confirmed or if the pope will change his mind again. As far as we know, Pope Francis can leave everything suspended until Aug. 29-30, when the reforms will finally be with the College of Cardinals. At that point, the pope will also have made his to L’Aquila.

The trip on Aug. 28 revived rumors of a . In one scenario currently being floated, Pope Francis could make a gesture to govern the transition to the next pontificate, following the example of the Jesuits. He could announce his resignation but give a period of at least a year to govern the transition and finish the reforms.

This would follow the practice of Jesuit superior generals: announced that he would be stepping down three years in advance, while his successor gave a year’s notice.

At that time, Pope Francis could give new rules for the management of the Vatican during the and the conclave, perhaps thinking of decreasing the quorum of votes needed after a second day of ballots in the Sistine Chapel.

Benedict XVI established that two-thirds of the votes were always required for the election of a pope and that the quorum should never be lowered. His conviction was that the pope should come from a communion of ideas, not from a political agreement.

Indeed, we are heading towards the end of an uncertain pontificate, especially . Over and over again, Pope Francis has intervened with motu proprios, rescripts, and other immediate documents to take personal management of situations. He is, in the end, a pope who focuses a lot of power on himself.

As the summer season descends on Rome, everything is frozen, and very few decisions are made. But perhaps that will change after the August consistory.

Pope Francis: New public associations of faithful require written Vatican approval

Vatican City, Jun 15, 2022 / 06:50 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Wednesday decreed that diocesan bishops must receive written permission from the Vatican before erecting a public association of the faithful that is later expected to become a religious institute.

The pope’s , issued on June 15, states that the diocesan bishop must receive a “written license” from the before erecting, by decree, “a public association of the faithful with a view to becoming an institute of consecrated life or a society of apostolic life of diocesan right.”

The decision, approved on Feb. 7, goes into effect immediately.

The Code of Canon Law associations of the Christian faithful, which can be either public or private, as groups striving “in a common endeavor to foster a more perfect life, to promote public worship or Christian doctrine, or to exercise other works of the apostolate such as initiatives of evangelization, works of piety or charity, and those which animate the temporal order with a Christian spirit.”

It explains that “associations of the Christian faithful which are erected by competent ecclesiastical authority are called public associations.”

The new rule follows a change Pope Francis made to canon law in 2020, which a bishop to have permission from the Holy See before establishing a new religious institute in his diocese.

The pope modified canon 579 of the Code of Canon Law, which concerns the erection of religious orders and congregations, referred to in Church law as institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life.

The law was changed from requiring the diocesan bishop to consult with the Vatican before giving canonical recognition to a new institute to requiring him to have written permission.

This change further strengthened Vatican oversight over the process.

Pope Francis says Catholic marriage preparation is a ‘duty of justice’ in text for dioceses

Vatican City, Jun 15, 2022 / 04:33 am (CNA).

Adequate preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage is a matter of justice in the Catholic Church, Pope Francis said in a new Vatican document for priests and dioceses working with engaged couples.

“There is therefore first and foremost a duty to accompany with a sense of responsibility those who manifest the intention to be united in marriage, so that they may be preserved from the traumas of separation and never lose faith in love,” the pope said in the preface to “Catechumenal Itineraries for Married Life,” published on June 15.

The 97-page booklet, prepared by the , is a pastoral tool for bishops, priests, married couples, and people serving in family ministry.

The document “is a gift and it is a task,” Francis said, underlining that it offered guidelines that should be adapted to particular cultures and situations, rather than being considered “magic formulas.”

In his preface, Pope Francis noted the Church’s years-long preparation for candidates to the priesthood and religious life, and how marriage preparation sometimes only lasts a few weeks.

“It is therefore a duty of justice for the Mother Church to devote time and energy to the preparation of those whom the Lord calls to so great a mission as the family,” he said.

The document is and will soon be released in other languages, the Vatican said. It is structured in three stages: marriage preparation, the wedding celebration, and accompaniment in the first years of married life.

“The Church, in every age, is called to proclaim anew, especially to young people, the beauty and abundance of grace that are contained in the sacrament of marriage and in the family life that flows from it,” Pope Francis said.

He noted that married couples make up the majority of the Catholic faithful and are often pillars in parish life, volunteer groups, and Catholic movements and associations.

“There is also a feeling of justice that should animate us. The Church is a mother, and a mother does not play favorites among her children. She does not treat them with disparity; she gives everyone the same care, the same attention, the same time,” he said.

“Dedicating time is a sign of love: if we do not devote time to a person it is a sign that we do not love them.”

Spouses are “guardians of life,” he said, pointing out that “it is from families that vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life are born; and it is families that make up the fabric of society and ‘mend its tears’ with patience and daily sacrifices.”

There is a concern, he explained, that if marriage preparation is superficial, couples will run the risk of celebrating a , or having too weak a foundation to withstand the inevitable crises.

“These failures bring with them great suffering and leave deep wounds in people. They become disillusioned, bitter and, in the most painful cases, even end up no longer believing in the vocation to love, inscribed by God himself in the heart of the human being,” he said.

The Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life said that the marriage preparation booklet was an initiative to mark the , which is dedicated to deepening pastoral outreach to families. The year marks the fifth anniversary of , Pope Francis’ on love in the family. It will end on June 26, with the 10th edition of the in Rome.

The pope said he hoped that another document would soon be published dedicated to men and women “who have experienced the failure of their marriage and are living in a new union or are civilly remarried.”

The Church wants to accompany these couples “so that they do not feel abandoned and can find accessible and fraternal places of welcome, help in discernment and participation in communities,” he wrote.

Pope Francis: ‘When you are old, you are no longer in control of your body’

Vatican City, Jun 15, 2022 / 03:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said on Wednesday that the elderly must accept their physical limitations, noting that he now has to walk with a cane.

In his general audience on June 15, the pope said that old age is invariably marked by fragility.

“When you are old, you are no longer in control of your body. One has to learn to choose what to do and what not to do,” he said.

“The vigor of the body fails and abandons us, even though our heart does not stop yearning. One must then learn to purify desire: be patient, choose what to ask of the body and of life.”

He added: “When we are old, we cannot do the same things we did when we were young: the body has another pace, and we must listen to the body and accept its limits. We all have them. I too have to use a walking stick now.”

Pilgrims responded with applause to his reference to his recent health struggles.

The 85-year-old pope has walked short distances at recent general audiences with the help of a cane. Due to , he has appeared at other public events since May 5.

The pope’s catechesis was the 14th in a that he began in February. He entered St. Peter’s Square in a jeep, stopping to invite children in white hats to join him for part of his journey among the pilgrims.

The vehicle drove up to a raised platform in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, where the pope was helped to walk up to the white chair where he gave his address.

Pope Francis’ catechesis focused on Jesus’ healing of Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, as described in .

He noted that the Gospel writer did not say if she was suffering from a mild ailment or something more serious, observing that “in old age, even a simple fever can be dangerous.”

The pope underlined the significance of Jesus’ decision to visit the sick woman with his disciples rather than alone.

“It is precisely the Christian community that must take care of the elderly: relatives and friends, but the community. Visiting the elderly must be done by many, together and often,” he said.

“We should never forget these three lines of the Gospel [Mark 1:29-31], especially now that the number of elderly people has grown considerably, also in relation to the young, since we are in this demographic winter, we have fewer children, and there are many old people and few young ones.”

“We must feel a responsibility to visit the elderly who are often alone, and present them to the Lord with our prayers. Jesus himself will teach us how to love them.”

The pope then underlined a consistent theme of his reflections on old age: that society’s “throwaway culture” seeks to “cancel out” the elderly.

“Yes, it does not kill them, but socially it eliminates them, as if they were a burden to carry: it is better to conceal them,” he said.

“This is a betrayal of our own humanity, this is the worst thing, this is choosing life according to utility, according to young and not with life as it is, with the wisdom of the elderly, with the limits of the elderly.”

He went on: “The elderly have much to give us: there is the wisdom of life. There is much to teach us: this is why we must teach children that their grandparents are to be cared for and visited.”

“The dialogue between young people and grandparents, children and grandparents, is fundamental for society, it is fundamental for the Church, it is fundamental for the health of life.”

“Where there is no dialogue between the young and the old, something is lacking and a generation grows up without past, that is, without roots.”

Pope Francis said that the healed woman offered the disciples a lesson by rising from her sickbed and serving them.

“Even in old age one can, or rather one must, serve the community,” he commented.

“It is good for the elderly to cultivate the responsibility to serve, overcoming the temptation to stand aside. The Lord does not reject them; on the contrary, he restores to them the strength to serve.”

Concluding his address, Pope Francis said: “Please, let us make sure that the elderly, grandparents, are close to children, to the young, to hand down this memory of life, to pass on this experience of life, this wisdom of life.”

“To the extent to which we ensure that the young and the old are connected, to this extent there will be more hope for the future of our society.”

A summary of the pope’s catechesis was then read out in seven languages.

Addressing English-speaking Catholics, he said: “I greet the English-speaking visitors taking part in today’s audience, especially the various pilgrimage groups from the United States of America.

“Upon you and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you.”

Before offering his final remarks, the pope urged pilgrims to pray for the victims of war in Ukraine.

“And please, let us not forget the martyred people of Ukraine at war. Let us not get used to living as if the war is a distant thing,” he said.

“May our remembrance, our affection, our prayer, and our help always be close to this people who are suffering so much and who are experiencing a true martyrdom.”

Addressing Italian pilgrims at the end of the audience, he noted that Catholics around the world are preparing to celebrate the .

“Tomorrow we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, which in Italy is transferred to next Sunday,” he .

“May the Eucharist, mystery of love, be for all of you a source of grace and light that illuminates the paths of life, support amid difficulties, sublime comfort in the suffering of each day.”

Pope Francis: No Christian is exempt from aiding the poor

Vatican City, Jun 14, 2022 / 10:15 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said this week that no Christian is exempt from aiding the poor.

In his for the 2022 World Day of the Poor, published on June 14, the pope said that the worst thing that can happen to a Christian community is to be “dazzled by the idol of wealth, which ends up chaining us to an ephemeral and bankrupt vision of life.”

“Where the poor are concerned, it is not talk that matters; what matters is rolling up our sleeves and putting our faith into practice through a direct involvement, one that cannot be delegated,” Pope Francis said.

“No one must say that they cannot be close to the poor because their own lifestyle demands more attention to other areas. This is an excuse commonly heard in academic, business or professional, and even ecclesial circles. None of us can think we are exempt from concern for the poor and for social justice,” he added.

The pope underlined that it is not a question of approaching the poor with “a welfare mentality,” but of ensuring that no one lacks what is necessary.

He warned Catholics against laxity and inconsistent behavior with regard to the poor.

He said: “At times ... a kind of laxity can creep in and lead to inconsistent behavior, including indifference about the poor. It also happens that some Christians, out of excessive attachment to money, remain mired in a poor use of their goods and wealth. These situations reveal a weak faith and feeble, myopic hope.”

Pope Francis the World Day of the Poor in 2016 at the end of the Church’s Jubilee Year of Mercy. The day is celebrated each year on the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, a week before the feast of Christ the King.

The 6th World Day of the Poor will be celebrated on Nov. 13 with the theme “for your sakes Christ became poor,” inspired by .

In the message, signed on the June 13 feast day of , the pope made a distinction between poverty that humiliates, in which people live in squalor, and Christian poverty that sets people free and brings peace.

“Jesus’ words are clear: if we want life to triumph over death, and dignity to be redeemed from injustice, we need to follow Christ’s path of poverty, sharing our lives out of love, breaking the bread of our daily existence with our brothers and sisters, beginning with the least of them, those who lack the very essentials of life,” he said.

“This is the way to create equality, to free the poor from their misery and the rich from their vanity, and both from despair.”

At a on June 14, Archbishop Rino Fisichella highlighted some Vatican initiatives to help aid the poor in coordination with the World Day of the Poor.

He said that 500 families received assistance with rent, insurance, gas, electricity, and water bills thanks in part to the Italian financial services company UnipolSai, and that tons of basic food supplies were distributed thanks to the generous collaboration of local supermarkets in the Diocese of Rome.

In his message for the World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis also raised the question of what more can be done to help the millions of people living in war-torn Ukraine and other conflict zones.

“What great poverty is produced by the senselessness of war,” he said.

“Millions of women, children, and elderly people are being forced to brave the danger of bombs just to find safety by seeking refuge as displaced persons in neighboring countries. How many others remain in the war zones, living each day with fear and the lack of food, water, medical care, and above all human affections?”

“How can we respond adequately to this situation, and to bring relief and peace to all these people in the grip of uncertainty and instability?” he asked.

Pope Francis told Bishop Bätzing: We don’t need 2 Evangelical churches in Germany

Vatican City, Jun 14, 2022 / 04:55 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said in an interview published on Tuesday that he told the leader of Germany’s Catholic bishops that the country already had “a very good Evangelical Church” and “we don’t need two.”

The pope recalled his remark to Bishop Georg Bätzing, chairman of the German bishops’ conference, during a with the editors of Jesuit journals.

The dialogue, which also touched on and , was published in on June 14 but was on May 19.

The pope was asked what he thought of the a controversial multi-year gathering of bishops and lay people to discuss four main topics: the way power is exercised in the Church; the priesthood; the role of women; and sexual morality.

Participants have voted in favor of draft documents calling for the , same-sex blessings, and on homosexual acts, prompting accusations of heresy and fears of schism.

The , a federation of 20 Lutheran, Reformed, and United , ordains women as priests and bishops and permits the blessing of same-sex unions.

Both the Catholic Church and the Evangelical Church in Germany are seeing an .

Pope Francis told the editors: “To the president of the German Episcopal Conference, Bishop Bätzing, I said: ‘In Germany, there is a very good Evangelical Church. We don’t need two.’”

“The problem arises when the synodal path comes from the intellectual, theological elites, and is much influenced by external pressures. There are some dioceses where the synodal way is being developed with the faithful, with the people, slowly.”

Bätzing, who has led the German bishops’ conference , expressed disappointment with Pope Francis in an published in May.

“The pope, even in the Catholic Church, even with all the powers vested in him, is not someone who could turn the Church from its head onto its feet, which is what we would like,” the bishop of Limburg said.

Bätzing has concerns — expressed by Church leaders from , the , and — that the Synodal Way could lead to schism.

Pope Francis wrote an extensive to Catholics in Germany in 2019. Addressing what he called the “erosion” and “decline of the faith” in the country, he called on the faithful to convert, pray, and fast, as well as proclaim the Gospel.

The pope referred to the letter in his conversation with the editors.

“I wrote it myself, and it took me a month to write it. I did not want to involve the curia. I did it by myself.”

“The original is Spanish and the one in German is a translation. That is where you will find my thoughts,” he said.

Pope Francis also discussed the future of the embattled German who has faced intense pressure to step down as head of the Cologne archdiocese.

In September 2021, the pope Woelki in the post after an apostolic visitation of the archdiocese and permitted him to take a period of leave. When the 65-year-old cardinal returned in March this year, the archdiocese that he had submitted his resignation.

The pope said: “When the situation was very turbulent, I asked the archbishop to go away for six months, so that things would calm down and I could see clearly. Because when the waters are rough you cannot see clearly.”

“When he returned, I asked him to write a letter of resignation. He did and he gave it to me. And he wrote a letter of apology to the diocese. I left him in his place to see what would happen, but I have his resignation in hand.”

Pope Francis went on: “What is happening is that there are a lot of pressure groups, and under pressure it is not possible to discern. Then there is an economic issue for which I am considering sending a financial team. To be able to discern, I am waiting until there is no pressure.”

“The fact that there are different points of view is fine. The problem is when there is pressure. That does not help. I do not think Cologne is the only diocese in the world where there are conflicts, though. I treat it like any other diocese in the world that experiences conflict. I can think of one where the conflict has not yet ended: Arecibo in Puerto Rico has been in conflict for years. There are many dioceses like that.”

Pope Francis Bishop Daniel Fernández Torres of Arecibo from office in March. The bishop, who had led the diocese since 2010, described the decision as “totally unjust.”

Pope Francis: There are many ‘restorers’ in the US who do not accept Vatican II

Vatican City, Jun 14, 2022 / 04:12 am (CNA).

There are many “restorers” in the United States who do not accept the Second Vatican Council, Pope Francis said in an interview published on Tuesday.

Speaking to the editors of Jesuit journals, he criticized what he called “restorationism” in the Church, which he defined as the failure to accept Vatican II, the ecumenical council held from 1962 to 1965.

He : “Restorationism has come to gag the Council. The number of groups of ‘restorers’ — for example, in the United States there are many — is significant.”

“An Argentine bishop told me that he had been asked to administer a diocese that had fallen into the hands of these ‘restorers.’ They had never accepted the Council. There are ideas, behaviors that arise from a restorationism that basically did not accept the Council.”

“The problem is precisely this: in some contexts, the Council has not yet been accepted. It is also true that it takes a century for a Council to take root. We still have 40 years to make it take root, then!”

Pope Francis when he issued the in July 2021, limiting celebrations of the Traditional Latin Mass.

In a to the world’s bishops, he said he was saddened that the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass was “often characterized by a rejection not only of the liturgical reform, but of the Vatican Council II itself.”

To doubt the Council, he said, is “in the final analysis, to doubt the Holy Spirit himself who guides the Church.”

The pope’s conversation with editors, which also touched on and the German “Synodal Way,” was published in La Civiltà Cattolica on June 14 but was conducted on May 19.

Pope Francis: Russia’s use of mercenaries in Ukraine is ‘monstrous’

Vatican City, Jun 14, 2022 / 02:32 am (CNA).

Pope Francis described Russia’s use of mercenaries in the Ukraine war as “monstrous” in an interview published on Tuesday.

Speaking to the editors of Jesuit journals, the pope also suggested that the war, which began with a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, was “perhaps somehow either provoked or not prevented.”

The conversation, which also touched on the Second Vatican Council and the German was published in on June 14 but was on May 19.

Commenting on Ukraine, the pope : “What we are seeing is the brutality and ferocity with which this war is being carried out by the troops, generally mercenaries, used by the Russians. The Russians prefer to send in Chechen and Syrian mercenaries.”

“But the danger is that we only see this, which is monstrous, and we do not see the whole drama unfolding behind this war, which was perhaps somehow either provoked or not prevented. And note the interest in testing and selling weapons. It is very sad, but at the end of the day that is what is at stake.”

He rejected suggestions that he was in favor of Russian President Vladimir Putin, emphasizing that he was “simply against reducing complexity to the distinction between good guys and bad guys.”

The pope said: “Someone may say to me at this point: so you are pro-Putin! No, I am not. It would be simplistic and wrong to say such a thing. I am simply against reducing complexity to the distinction between good guys and bad guys without reasoning about roots and interests, which are very complex.”

“While we see the ferocity, the cruelty of Russian troops, we must not forget the real problems if we want them to be solved.”

“It is also true that the Russians thought it would all be over in a week. But they miscalculated. They encountered a brave people, a people who are struggling to survive and who have a history of struggle.”

The pope added that he hoped to meet with Russian Orthodox leader Patriarch Kirill in September.

“I hope to be able to greet him and speak a little with him as a pastor,” he commented.

Elsewhere in the conversation with editors, the pope criticized what he called “restorationism” in the Church, suggesting that the United States was a hotbed of “restorers.”

He said: “Restorationism has come to gag the Council. The number of groups of ‘restorers’ ⁠— for example, in the United States there are many ⁠— is significant.”

“An Argentine bishop told me that he had been asked to administer a diocese that had fallen into the hands of these ‘restorers.’ They had never accepted the Council.”

“There are ideas, behaviors that arise from a restorationism that basically did not accept the Council.”

“The problem is precisely this: in some contexts, the Council has not yet been accepted. It is also true that it takes a century for a Council to take root. We still have 40 years to make it take root, then!”

Asked about the “Synodal Way” in Germany, and the charge by some that it is heretical, Pope Francis referenced to German Catholics in 2019. 

“I wanted to write a letter about your Synodal Way. I wrote it myself, and it took me a month to write it. I did not want to involve the curia. I did it by myself. The original is Spanish and the one in German is a translation. That is where you will find my thoughts,” he said.

Francis also said he told Bishop Georg Bätzing, the chairman of the German bishops’ conference, that “in Germany, there is a very good Evangelical Church. We don’t need two.”

“The problem arises,” he said, “when the synodal path comes from the intellectual, theological elites, and is much influenced by external pressures. There are some dioceses where the synodal way is being developed with the faithful, with the people, slowly.”

The interview with Jesuit magazine editors was published after it emerged that Pope Francis discussed his stance on the war with a Ukrainian delegation on June 8.

One participant, Myroslav Marynovych, the vice-rector of the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, described the meeting as “very significant.”

He : “We all left the meeting feeling grateful to the pope for the opportunity to share our thoughts and were truly inspired. This conversation was very significant for all of us.”

“Of course, it does not mean that from now on, the pope will view the world through the Ukrainian prism. Indeed, in the future, it might be important for Ukrainians to hear the Vatican’s perspective on certain issues.”

“However, today there is one thing we can be certain about: communication crises must be resolved via friendly communication. And that is what we tried to do while in the Vatican.”

Vatican’s financial watchdog sees rise in suspicious activity reports in 2021

Vatican City, Jun 13, 2022 / 09:18 am (CNA).

The Vatican’s financial watchdog authority reported on Monday that it received 104 suspicious activity reports in 2021, an increase from the previous year.

In a 35-page , released on June 13, the Supervisory and Financial Information Authority () said that it submitted 21 reports to the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice (prosecutor), the highest number in the past five years.

The watchdog authority is responsible for financial intelligence, as well as combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism. It the Institute for the Works of Religion (the or “Vatican bank”).

In its report, it said: “With regard to financial intelligence activities, in 2021 ASIF’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) received 104 reports of suspicious activity, 98 of which from the obliged entity [IOR], 5 from Vatican authorities, and 1 from a non-profit organization. No reports were received that were directly or indirectly linked to the financing of terrorism.”

“ASIF submitted 21 reports to the Office of the Promoter of Justice, the highest number recorded in the last five years; of these, 3 were first reports and 18 were supplemental reports.”

ASIF reported last year that it received in 2020, 16 of which it forwarded to the Promoter of Justice for possible prosecution.

In 2019, it received 95 reports, compared to 83 in 2018, and 150 in 2017.

The 2021 report also disclosed that the ASIF sent 34 requests for information to foreign financial intelligence units, while receiving 19 such requests — fewer than in 2020.

ASIF president Carmelo Barbagallo described 2021 as a “year of consolidation” for the organization, which was established by Benedict XVI in 2010 and known as the Financial Information Authority (AIF) until it was in December 2020.

He welcomed the of an eagerly awaited 2021 report by Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering watchdog.

In an with Vatican News, Barbagallo noted that the Moneyval review “is of fundamental importance for the action and financial reputation of the jurisdictions that adhere to it.”

“An eventual negative review would have repercussions on the path of transparency undertaken long ago by the Holy See and also risk also complicating financial relationships of institutions like the IOR or with their foreign counterparts,” he said.

“On the other hand, the great work done in previous years, and especially more recently, has prevented that from happening.”

“However, we cannot ‘let our guard down’ in terms of the effectiveness of prevention and enforcement action, because continuous refinement action is imperative that includes frequent instances of verification, also in accordance with international standards.”

René Brülhart and Tommaso Di Ruzza, respectively the former president and director of the AIF, are among 10 people currently at the Vatican over allegations of financial impropriety.

Brülhart is facing the charge of abuse of office, while Di Ruzza stands accused of abuse of office and violation of the secret of the office. Both men the charges.

After postposting Africa trip, Pope Francis says: ‘We will bring Kinshasa to St. Peter’s’

Vatican City, Jun 13, 2022 / 06:52 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said on Monday that he intends to celebrate Mass for Rome’s Congolese community on the day he was due to offer Mass in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The pope made the announcement on June 13, the day after he for having to postpone a scheduled trip to Africa in July because of ongoing knee pain.

He said that on July 3, when he was previously scheduled to celebrate Sunday Mass , he would seek instead offer Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

“We will bring Kinshasa to St. Peter’s, and there we will celebrate with all the Congolese in Rome, of which there are many,” he said at the start of an audience with the (White Fathers) in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall.

The 85-year-old pope told participants in the international missionary society’s general chapter that he hoped to be able to make the trip at another time.

“Unfortunately, with great regret, I had to postpone the trip to Congo and South Sudan,” he said.

“Indeed, at my age, it is not so easy to go on a mission trip! But your prayers and example give me courage, and I am confident that I can visit these peoples, whom I carry in my heart.”

Pope Francis was planning to spend July 2-5 in the Congolese cities of Kinshasa and Goma, and July 5-7 in the South Sudanese capital Juba.

The Vatican on June 10 that due to treatment for his knee pain, the journey had to be delayed.

Speaking after the Angelus on June 12, the pope promised to reschedule the visit

The pope has been suffering from an inflamed ligament in his knee, limiting his ability to walk. He has been during public appearances since last month.

The Vatican on June 13 that he will not preside at a Mass and procession on the feast of Corpus Christi.

The Holy See press office explained that the decision was taken “due to the limitations imposed on the pope by gonalgia,” or knee pain, “and the specific liturgical needs of the celebration.”

The pope is still scheduled to in Canada on July 24-29.

Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica for Congolese immigrants on Dec. 1, 2019. The Mass, which featured , marked the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the Congolese Catholic Chaplaincy of Rome.

There are an estimated 35 million Catholics in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, accounting for roughly half of the country’s population. The last pope to visit Kinshasa was John Paul II .

Pope Francis won’t preside at Corpus Christi Mass and procession due to knee pain

Vatican City, Jun 13, 2022 / 02:41 am (CNA).

Pope Francis will not preside at a Mass and procession on the feast of Corpus Christi, the Vatican announced on Monday.

The Holy See press office on June 13 that the decision was taken “due to the limitations imposed on the pope by gonalgia,” or knee pain, “and the specific liturgical needs of the celebration.”

The announcement came the day after the 85-year-old-pope for having to postpone a scheduled trip to Africa in July because of his knee problem.

Speaking after the Angelus on June 12, he promised to reschedule the visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan “as soon as possible.”

The 85-year-old pope has been suffering from an inflamed ligament in his knee, limiting his ability to walk. He has been during public appearances since last month.

From 2013 to 2017, Pope Francis followed the custom by Pope John Paul II of marking the by celebrating a Mass at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran and then leading a Eucharistic procession to the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

In , he celebrated the solemnity in Ostia, a district of Rome, and in , he presided at Corpus Christi Mass and procession in Rome’s Casal Bertone neighborhood.

In and , he marked the solemnity with a Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica, but without a procession due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Corpus Christi, which dates back to the 13th century, traditionally falls on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday, but is transfered to the Sunday in many parts of the Catholic world.

The Vatican later on June 13 that , the archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, will celebrate Corpus Christi Mass in the basilica on Thursday, June 16. The Mass will be accompanied by a procession and Benediction.

The pope is still scheduled to on July 24-29.

Pope Francis: The Trinity inspires us 'to live with others and for others'

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 12, 2022 / 07:47 am (CNA).

Speaking on Trinity Sunday, Pope Francis said that celebrating the Trinity is “not so much a theological exercise, but a revolution in our way of life.”

“God, in whom each person lives for the other in a continual relationship, in continual rapport, not for himself, provokes us to live with others and for others," he said.

In his address prior to the recitation of the Angelus, Pope Francis reflected on Sunday's Gospel reading, from the 16th chapter of John. In the reading, Jesus is speaking to the apostles about the coming of the Holy Spirit. "I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth," the Lord says.

Jesus tells the apostles, "Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you."

“We notice that the Holy Spirit speaks, but not of himself: He announces Jesus and reveals the Father,” Pope Francis said to thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square June 12.

“And we also notice that the Father, who possesses everything because he is the origin of all things, gives to the Son everything he possesses: He keeps nothing for himself and he gives himself fully to the Son,” he said.

Pope Francis added that “the Holy Spirit speaks not of himself; he speaks about Jesus, he speaks about others. And the Father does not give himself, he gives the Son. It is open generosity, one open to the other.”

The Holy Father then invited the crowd to do a self-examination.

“When we speak, we always want to say something good about ourselves, and often, we only speak about ourselves and what we do,” he said. “How often!”

Giving examples, Pope Francis said that people often say “I have done this and that” and “I had this problem.”

“We always speak like this,” he said.

He added, “How different this is from the Holy Spirit, who speaks by announcing others, and the Father the Son! And, how jealous we are of what we possess. How hard it is for us to share what we possess with others, even those who lack the basic necessities! It is easy to talk about it, but difficult to practice it.”

He encouraged the crowd to question whether “our life reflects the God we believe in.”

Leading the crowd in self-examination, the pope asked, “do I, who profess faith in God the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, truly believe that I need others in order to live, I need to give myself to others, I need to serve others? Do I affirm this in words, or do I affirm it with my life?”

The one, triune God must be manifested in deeds, not words, he said.

“God, who is the author of life, is transmitted not so much through books as through witness of life,” Pope Francis said. “He, who, as the evangelist John writes, ‘is love’ (1 Jn 4:16), reveals himself through love.”

Pope Francis encouraged the crowd to think about “good, generous, gentle” people they have met and reflect on their way of thinking and their actions.

By doing this, “we can have a small reflection of God-Love,” he said. “And what does it mean to love? Not only to wish them well and to be good to them, but first and foremost, at the root, to welcome others, to be open to others, to make room for others, to make space (for) others. This is what it means to love, at the root.”

To better understand the Trinity, the Holy Father encouraged the crowd to consider each name of the three persons of the Trinity, “which we pronounce every time we make the sign of the cross: Each name contains the presence of the other.”

“The Father, for example, would not be such without the Son; likewise, the Son cannot be considered alone, but always as the Son of the Father. And the Holy Spirit, in turn, is the Spirit of the Father and the Son,” he said.

“In short,” Pope Francis added, “the Trinity teaches us that one can never be without the other. We are not islands, we are in the world to live in God’s image: open, in need of others, and in need of helping others.”

After praying the Angelus at noon, Pope Francis called for a round of applause for the recent beatification of Sister Paschalis Jahn and nine sister martyrs of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Elizabeth, who were killed at the end of World War II by Red Army soldiers.

The nuns were in Wroclaw, Poland.

Although the women knew the danger they were putting themselves in by attending to the sick and elderly, Pope Francis said, they did it anyway because of their Christian faith.

“May their example of faith to Christ help us all, especially Christians who are persecuted in various parts of the world, to bear witness to the Gospel courageously,” he said of the new blessed.

Pope Francis also spoke about the “great regret” he felt for having to postpone his scheduled trip in early July to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan due to issues he is having with his leg.

“I truly feel great sorrow for having had to postpone this trip, which means so much to me,” he said. “I apologize for this. Let us pray together that, with the help of God and medical attention, I will be able to be with you as soon as possible. Let us be hopeful!”

Speaking of World Day against Child Labor, Pope Francis called for all to work to “eliminate this scourge “so that no child is deprived of his or her fundamental rights and forced or coerced to work.”

The Holy Father also said that the Ukrainian people remain “vivid in my heart,” speaking of the Russian-Ukrainian war.

“Let the passage of time not temper our grief and concern for that suffering population,” he said. “Please, let us not grow accustomed to this tragic situation! Let us always keep it in our hearts. Let us pray and strive for peace.”

Expressing 'great sorrow,' Pope Francis apologizes for postponed Africa trip

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 12, 2022 / 00:28 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Sunday apologized for having to postpone his trip to Africa in July because of his knee pain, and vowed to reschedule it “as soon as possible.”

The 85-year-old pope has been suffering from an inflamed ligament in his knee, limiting his ability to walk. He has been using a wheelchair during public appearances since last month.

Pope Francis was planning to spend July 2-5 in the Congolese cities of Kinshasa and Goma, and July 5-7 in the South Sudanese capital Juba. The  that due to treatment for his knee pain, the trip had to be put off. 

Pope Francis addressed the postponement in remarks after his daily Angelus reflection for pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square on June 12 for Trinity Sunday.

“And now I would like to address the people and authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan,” he began.

“Dear friends, with great regret, due to problems with my leg, I have had to postpone my visit to your countries, planned for the first days of July. I truly feel great sorrow for having had to postpone this trip, which means so much to me. I apologize for this,” he said.

“Let us pray together that, with the help of God and medical attention, I will be able to be with you as soon as possible. Let us be hopeful!” the pope concluded.

Pope Francis is still scheduled to visit Canada on July 24-29.

Pope Francis thanks army brigade for protecting pilgrims to the Vatican

Vatican City, Jun 11, 2022 / 08:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Saturday thanked an Italian army brigade for one year of service protecting pilgrims to Rome and the Vatican from attack.

“With every exit and return to the Vatican, on apostolic trips, visits to some parish or community, I see you and give thanks to God for your dedication and presence, a garrison of security,” the pope said to military personnel on June 11 at the Vatican.

He met the Grenadiers of Sardinia Brigade, part of the Italian army, and their families as they concluded a one-year station in Italy’s capital city as part of Operation Safe Streets.

Operation Safe Streets began in Italy in 2008, when armed forces were charged with providing extra security against terrorism or attacks at important political and religious sites and during large public events.

The military men and women are also present at all hours of night and day at several places close to the Vatican.

“As part of Operation Safe Streets, you guard sensitive areas and targets: institutional and diplomatic sites, airports, train and subway stations, places of art, worship and religious interest,” the pope said.

He noted that their presence fosters a sense of serenity in the people of Rome.

“I love to think that your stay in Rome may have been a positive experience for human and professional growth, as well as a fruitful time from a spiritual point of view,” he said, encouraging them to turn to the Virgin Mary “in moments of weariness and difficulty.”

“For my part,” Francis added, “I would like to express sincere gratitude for the discreet and important service you render to the Holy See, in conjunction and jointly with the police forces, for the safeguarding of public order.”

“Your work in the environs of Vatican City contributes to ensuring the serene conduct of the events that, throughout the year, attract pilgrims and tourists from all parts of the world,” he said. “It is an activity that requires availability, patience, a spirit of sacrifice and a sense of duty.”

Pope Francis: Pornography is ‘a threat to public health’

Vatican City, Jun 10, 2022 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Friday spoke about the challenges facing families, including threats to human dignity such as pornography and surrogacy.

“We also talk about the scourge of pornography, which is now spread everywhere via the web,” the pope at the Vatican on June 10.

“It should be denounced as a permanent attack on the dignity of men and women. It is not only a matter of protecting children — an urgent task of the authorities and all of us — but also of declaring pornography a threat to public health,” he told members of a family association network.

Quoting a he gave to a congress on child dignity online, the pope added that “it would be a serious illusion to think that a society in which abnormal consumption of sex on the web is rampant among adults is then capable of effectively protecting minors.”

Family networks, schools, and local communities are crucial to combat pornography and to help heal the wounds of those addicted, he said.

“The dignity of men and women is also threatened,” he continued, “by the inhumane and increasingly widespread practice of ‘womb renting,’ in which women, almost always poor, are exploited, and children are treated as commodities.”

Pope Francis spoke about some of the challenges faced by families in a meeting with members of the Federation of Catholic Family Associations in Europe (FAFCE).

FAFCE is an umbrella organization that gives support to Catholic families and promotes discussion of family policy issues within European institutions and local governments. The group met with Pope Francis before their June 10 conference on the family, held in Rome in advance of the World Meeting of Families 2022.

In his speech, the pope encouraged the pro-family organization to continue its mission during what is “not only an era of change, but a change of epoch.”

It can be a discouraging time for families, he said, “but, with God’s grace, we are called to work with hope and confidence, in effective communion with the Church.”

“The family founded on marriage is, therefore, at the center. It is the first cell of our communities and must be recognized as such, in its generative, unique and indispensable function,” Francis said.

The pope also worried about the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the “hidden pandemic” of loneliness.

“While many families have rediscovered themselves as domestic churches, it is also true that too many families have experienced loneliness, and their relationship with the Sacraments has often become merely virtual,” he noted.

Addressing the topic of the environment, Pope Francis disagreed with a view which holds that children have a negative impact on the world’s ecology.

Quoting a , he said, “the concept of an ‘ecological footprint’ cannot be applied to children, as they are an indispensable resource for the future. Instead, consumerism and individualism must be addressed, by looking to families as the best example of resource optimization.”

“Having children should never be considered a lack of responsibility towards creation or its natural resources,” he quoted.

Pope Francis also spoke about the important example of unity families can give, and how they can work to bring about peace, especially at a time when many families are separated due to the war in Ukraine.

Pope Francis discusses Ukraine war with European Commission head

Vatican City, Jun 10, 2022 / 06:35 am (CNA).

Pope Francis discussed the Ukraine war on Friday with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

The head of the executive branch of the European Union, a political and economic union of 27 member states, also met on June 10 with the Vatican’s Secretary of State and “foreign minister” Archbishop Paul Gallagher, who in May.

The Holy See press office said: “During the cordial discussions held in the Secretariat of State, the parties focused on the good bilateral relations and common commitment to work to bring the war in Ukraine to an end, dedicating particular attention to the humanitarian aspects and the food consequences of the continuation of the conflict.”

It added that the two parties also addressed the conclusions of the , a series of “citizen-led” debates from April 2021 to May 2022 that culiminated in a on the continent’s propects.

They also reflected on “the consequences for the future structure” of the EU.

Tweeting after her papal audience, the German Lutheran mother of seven said she was “truly glad” to meet the pope again, following a in May 2021.

“We stand with those suffering from the destruction in Ukraine," she . “This war must end, bringing peace back to Europe.”

Von der Leyen, who the Ukrainian capital Kyiv in April, on June 9 at the opening session of a conference organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Pope Francis’ July trip to Africa postponed for health reasons

Vatican City, Jun 10, 2022 / 05:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis’ July trip to the African countries of the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan has been postponed for health reasons, the Vatican said on Friday.

“At the request of his doctors, and in order not to jeopardize the results of the therapy that he is undergoing for his knee, the Holy Father has been forced to postpone, with regret, his Apostolic Journey to the Democratic Republic of Congo and to South Sudan,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said on June 10.

The trip, planned for July 2-7, will be moved “to a later date to be determined,” the statement said.

Pope Francis was planning to spend July 2-5 in the Congolese cities of Kinshasa and Goma, and July 5-7 in the South Sudanese capital Juba.

The trip’s full program was at the end of May.

The 85-year-old has been suffering from a painful inflamed ligament in his knee, limiting his ability to walk. He has been during public appearances since last month.

He is still scheduled to on July 24-29.

Pope Francis appoints San Diego auxiliary to lead Phoenix diocese

Vatican City, Jun 10, 2022 / 04:16 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Friday San Diego Auxiliary Bishop John P. Dolan to lead the Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona.

Dolan, 60, succeeds Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, whose resignation was accepted on June 10, after turning 75, the usual age of retirement for bishops.

Phoenix is the fifth-largest city in the U.S. and the serves 1.2 million Catholics. Bishop Dolan will begin his assignment in early August.

Dolan, a strong Spanish-speaker, has been an auxiliary bishop in San Diego, a diocese of almost 1.4 million Catholics, since 2017, serving under .

Dolan in the Clairemont neighborhood of San Diego as one of nine children. He was ordained a priest of the diocese in 1989. He was a parish priest for 27 years before he was appointed as auxiliary bishop.

He has served as vicar general and moderator of the curia. As vicar for clergy, he also assisted McElroy in the assignment of priests in San Diego’s 98 parishes.

“I cannot begin to express my thanks to God for his goodness to me throughout my life and I enter this new chapter with a renewed commitment to love and serve the Lord and His Church with my whole heart, soul, and strength,” Bishop Dolan said in a June 10 press release.

The Phoenix bishop-elect was also known in San Diego for his support of refugees, in particular the , a group of more than 20,000 boys from the Nuer and Dinka ethnic groups who were orphaned or left home during the .

After his appointment as an auxiliary bishop in 2017, Dolan was hailed as an by New Ways Ministry, a Catholic LGBT outreach group or recognition from the Catholic Church.

Dolan was the pastor of St. John the Evangelist parish in the Hillcrest neighborhood, which, according to New Ways Ministry, is “where many of San Diego’s LGBT residents live.”

Dolan his time at the parish as “an eye-opening experience, but also a joyful experience.”

In January 2021, he was one of 14 US bishops who signed a on protecting LGBT youth from bullying, called “God is on your side.”

Cardinal-designate McElroy said on June 10 that Dolan “is a man of deep faith, pastoral wisdom and enormous energy. In addition, there is a profound joy in his soul that reflects the grace of God and the wonderful love of his parents and family.”

“Bishop Dolan has been the pastor of six very diverse parishes within the Diocese of San Diego, and to each he has brought leadership, prayerfulness, collaboration, creativity and unity,” McElroy added.

Pope Francis urges Sicily’s Catholic priests to be moral guides — but to drop the lace

Vatican City, Jun 9, 2022 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis told priests and bishops from the Italian island of Sicily on Thursday to be strong moral guides, and to update their art and vestments in conformity with Church reforms.

“In Sicily, people still look to priests as spiritual and moral guides, people who can also help to improve the civil and social life of the island, to support the family, and to be a reference for growing young people. High and demanding is the Sicilian people’s expectation of priests,” the pope during a June 9 meeting at the Vatican.

In improvised comments during his speech, Francis also addressed a topic that he said “worries” him: the progress of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, particularly relating to the liturgy.

“I don’t know, because I don’t go to Mass in Sicily and I don’t know how the Sicilian priests preach, whether they preach as was suggested in [the 2013 ] or whether they preach in such a way that people go out for a cigarette and then come back,” the pope said.

He suggested that after eight minutes of a homily, most people’s attention begins to wane.

Noting that he had seen photos from Masses in Sicily, Francis appeared also to comment on the use of lace on the vestments priests wear while celebrating Mass.

“Where are we 60 years after the Council,” he said. “Some updating even in liturgical art, in liturgical ‘fashion.’”

“Yes, sometimes bringing some of grandma’s lace is appropriate, sometimes. It’s to pay homage to grandma, right?” he continued. “It’s good to honor grandma, but it’s better to celebrate the mother, Holy Mother Church, and how Mother Church wants to be celebrated. So that insularity does not prevent the true liturgical reform that the Council sent out.”

Sicily, a southern Italian island region, has a population of 5 million people. The Catholic Church in the region is divided into 18 dioceses.

Around 300 of the island’s 2,078 priests, and 20 bishops, are in Rome for a pilgrimage and meeting with Pope Francis to mark the 30th anniversary of the Church in Sicily’s Regional Marian Priests’ Day.

Sicily, like the rest of Italy, is facing a decline in vocations to the priesthood, with 30% fewer seminarians compared with a decade ago.

In his speech in the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis reflected on the changing times, including the decline in vocations.

The 85-year-old pope, who has made public appearances since May 5 due to knee pain, said that priests and bishops needed to make courageous choices, with the discernment of the Holy Spirit, about how to share the Gospel of Christ today.

“We witness in Sicily behaviors and gestures marked by great virtues as well as cruel heinousness,” he said. “As well, alongside masterpieces of extraordinary artistic beauty we see scenes of mortifying neglect.”

He noted the declining social situation, including the fall in population due to a low birthrate and the exodus of young people looking for work.

“We need to understand how and in what direction Sicily is experiencing the change of age and what paths it could take, in order to proclaim, in the fractures and joints of this change, the Gospel of Christ,” he said.

“This task, while entrusted to the entire people of God, asks of us priests and bishops full, total, and exclusive service,” Pope Francis commented.

“Please, do not stand in the middle of the road,” he urged. “Faced with the awareness of our weaknesses, we know that the will of Christ places us in the heart of this challenge.”

“The key to everything is in his call,” he underlined, “on which we lean to take to the sea and cast our nets again. We do not even know ourselves, but if we return to the call, we cannot ignore that Face who has met us and drawn us behind Himself, even united us to himself, as our tradition teaches when it states that in the liturgy we even act ‘in persona Christi.’”

“This full unity, this identification, we cannot limit it to the celebration, but rather we must live it fully in every moment of life, mindful of the Apostle Paul’s words: ‘No longer do I live, but Christ lives in me,’” he said.

Pope Francis mourns Order of Malta leader Fra’ Marco Luzzago

Vatican City, Jun 9, 2022 / 04:26 am (CNA).

In a condolence message on Wednesday, Pope Francis praised the “luminous Christian witness” of Order of Malta leader Fra’ Marco Luzzago.

Luzzago, who had overseen the 1,000-year-old institution since 2020, on June 7 after a sudden illness.

The pope offered his condolences in a to Cardinal Silvano Maria Tomasi, the pope’s to the Order of Malta.

The telegram said: “Spiritually sharing in the grief at the sudden passing of His Excellency Fra’ Marco Luzzago, Lieutenant of the Grand Master, I wish to offer my condolences to his family and to the entire order and, in remembering his commitment generously lavished in the performance of his high office in the service of this institution, as well as his love for the Church and luminous Christian witness, I invoke eternal peace for him and from my heart impart my blessing to you ... to the interim Lieutenant Fra’ Ruy Gonçalo do Valle Peixoto de Villas-Boas, to the Grand Magistry, and to all the members of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.”

Luzzago at the age of 71 at Villa Ciccolini in the Italian province of Macerata.

The Italian medical doctor, who was related to Pope Paul VI, was as on Nov. 8, 2020.

He was expected to serve for a one-year term ahead of the election of a new of the order, a position traditionally held for life.

But his term was by Pope Francis amid a push to conclude a years-long process of constitutional reform.

, the order’s Grand Commander since 2019, will oversee the organization until the election of a new leader.

The order on June 9 that Fra’ Marco Luzzago will lie in state on June 10-13 at the , in its Magistral Villa complex in Rome.

His funeral will take place on June 14 in the in Rome at 11 a.m. local time. It will be live-streamed on the order’s .

Here’s what the Vatican finance trial has revealed about the London deal

Vatican City, Jun 8, 2022 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

This week at the , it was the broker Raffaele Mincione’s turn to be questioned. The responses of the Italian businessman — the first person to manage the London building at the center of the intricate trial — shed more light on the disastrous deal.

Mincione’s answers added to the information provided at previous hearings by Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the former Vatican investment manager Enrico Crasso, and the ex-Secretariat of State officials Fabrizio Tirabassi and Monsignor Mauro Carlino.

The same testimonies confirmed the contents of a text submitted by Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, the current Sostituto (Substitute) for the Secretariat of State, who decided on the deal’s final steps.

Mincione spoke before the court on June 6-7, with the support of 18 blue binders of documentation. There were almost 16 hours of total interrogation, introduced by Mincione’s spontaneous statements recalling his career in finance, which included a collaboration with the Institute for Works of Religion (the IOR or “Vatican bank”) in the 1990s.

Before going into the details of Mincione’s responses, it’s worth recalling the gestation of the London deal, as revealed during the trial so far. Of course, this offers only a partial picture, but it highlights the mechanisms — including psychological ones — behind the operation.

It all began in 2012 when an investment in Falcon Oil, an oil extraction company in Angola, was proposed to the Secretariat of State via Becciu, then the dicastery’s second-ranking official. The proposal came from the entrepreneur Antonio Mosquito, a benefactor of the apostolic nunciature in Angola, where Becciu served for seven years.

Becciu said he proposed the deal, but without applying pressure. Tirabassi, Crasso, and Mincione all confirmed this under questioning.

Credit Suisse managed the Secretariat of State’s funds, and the Credit Suisse man in charge of them was Enrico Crasso. This is an important fact. The Secretariat of State did not manage them directly. It could, of course, approve or disapprove of business decisions. It wanted profits. In general, however, when one relies on a manager, everything is in their hands.

Crasso was commissioned to study the deal, but he did not have the requisite expertise. So his Credit Suisse agency suggested that he seek advice from the London branch. Credit Suisse London recommended Raffaele Mincione.

It was now 2013, the year Pope Francis was elected. While studying the project’s feasibility, for which 200 million euros (around $215 million) were requested, Mincione set up the Athena Fund, where the funds were paid. This was so that, once the decision was taken, the funds could be immediately available. Both Tirabassi and Mincione confirmed this.

But the investment project in Angola slowly lost traction. Initially, Mosquito lowered its investment needs to 100 million euros (about $107 million), thus freeing up the other half of the fund for other investments. This is when the idea of investing in the infamous Sloane Avenue property arose.

Mincione suggested at the hearings that talking about the “London building” was inappropriate. It was rather a “project” that involved an investment in the property.

The former Harrods warehouses would have been converted into lofts. A floor would have raised the property, and then it would have been sold at a significant profit, considering that rents in that area of ​​London are very high.

It was a large project, explained Mincione, because English law states that, when the intended use of an office building is changed, another office building must also be built to keep the tax burden unchanged.

It was also a project that came with favorable conditions because all the tenants of the Sloane Avenue property terminated their leases, Mincione explained.

By making all these assessments, the idea of ​​an investment in the building became feasible, using the part of the fund not earmarked for the Falcon Oil proposal.

In the end, the Falcon Oil operation came to nothing. Mincione himself made it known that there were no necessary guarantees. At the same time, as Tirabassi told the court, there were also moral doubts about investing in oil when Pope Francis was publishing the environmental .

Yet it should be noted that Monsignor Alberto Perlasca, then head of the Vatican Secretariat of State administration, was said to have been “very determined” to move forward with the affair.

Becciu, on the other hand, no longer appeared in the discussions. “I had faith in my collaborators. I had to have it,” he explained.

There was, therefore, a total of 200 million euros left to invest. Mincione said that he was willing to return it to the Secretariat of State. He expressed this verbally to Crasso, who included him in a report sent to the Secretariat of State that was shown in court by Mincione’s defense.

The Secretariat of State, however, decided to trust Mincione. He changed the destination of the Athena Fund, using it to take over the shares of the Sloane Avenue property, starting the operation. The Vatican entered into a so-called lock-up management contract, which lasted five years and could be extended by another two in the event of a particular disruption. The only way out of the contract would have been to pay penalties. This was still 2013.

Credit Suisse approved the investment, but, Mincione said, the Secretariat of State proved to be “a particularly restless investor.” For “Secretariat of State,” read “Monsignor Alberto Perlasca,” the one who, according to the hearings so far, took all the decisions.

Mincione said that he never started work on Sloane Avenue but had begun work on the other office building to be built as compensation for the change in use. There was no way to get the investment going, and then Brexit came, with its disruptive effects. In this situation, the extra two years on the contract should have been guaranteed. But the Secretariat of State was dissatisfied and decided to change management.

Mincione said that as early as February 2018, he began to understand that the Secretariat of State was having second thoughts. He felt pressure to sell the shares of the property, and set out to satisfy his client. The possible purchase price was 350 million euros (around $375 million), considering the project, not the state of the building.

There was an offer of 350 million euros from Invest, a company belonging to Luciano Capaldo. Capaldo was at the time a partner of the broker Gianluigi Torzi, whom Mincione met at the end of 2017.

Mincione recalled: “He had his office across the street. Sometimes I saw him in breaks, taking a breath of fresh air. Torzi has presented thousands of projects, some I have read, very few perhaps I have approved.”

In the second half of 2018, Torzi was the man to whom the Secretariat of State turned to take over the shares in the Sloane Avenue building. Torzi said he would be able to convince Mincione to sell the shares and proposed new management in which the stakes were anchored to his Luxembourg-based company Gutt SA.

On Nov. 20, 2018, there was a meeting in Mincione’s London offices. It was attended by Mincione, Torzi, Tirabassi, Crasso and the lawyer Manuele Intendente.

Under questioning, Crasso complained about being involved in the matter, saying that “going to that meeting was the biggest mistake of my life.”

Tirabassi said that he was in constant telephone contact with Monsignor Perlasca and that Perlasca himself told him that Torzi would be representing the Holy See’s interests. Everyone confirmed that the Vatican did not have a lawyer to represent it at the meeting.

But what of Intendente’s role? Mincione said: “I thought he was the head of the Gendarmerie. He sat at the back, never speaking, with a slightly grim look that confirmed the idea that he was a policeman.”

Mincione was very disappointed that control of the building was taken away from him. He believed that the contract should have come to an end. Disappointed, he left his lawyers with the task of developing the exit agreement. “I could ask for any price, refuse, but I let it go,” he said.

Torzi assigned almost all the shares to the Secretariat of State, but kept 1,000 of them: the ones with the right to vote.

Both Tirabassi and Crasso said they did not know about the nature of the 1,000 shares. Monsignor Perlasca insisted in interviews before he became the trial’s star witness that when he realized what had happened, he wanted to denounce it. But in his view, a complaint could have been counterproductive. There were contracts, and contracts had to be respected.

In mid-2018, Archbishop Peña Parra was appointed Sostituto and immediately faced a remarkably complex situation. He decided to take matters into his own hands. The most logical solution, in his opinion, was to acquire the property directly, ending contracts with intermediaries and thus allowing the Secretariat of State to invest directly.

Meanwhile, Capaldo had become a consultant for the Secretariat of State. His defense claimed that he had cut off all contact with Torzi. Mincione said that, after making the first offer for the acquisition of the building by his company, Capaldo arrived with another offer of 350 million euros, representing a Sheikh Salah. Indeed, the Holy See took away the property management and made Mincione suspect that it had decided to resell it to Salah, and then to pocket the capital gain. But it would not be so.

Peña Parra entered a world of mutual suspicion. Monsignor Carlino said during the trial that he had been placed under control by Giuseppe Milanese, a personal friend of Pope Francis, and that the pope was involved in mediation to persuade Torzi to leave the deal.

Crasso said that he was asked to find, in the fund of the Secretariat of State, six million euros (around $6.4 million) to finance the sale of bonds of a cooperative run by Milanese.

Carlino recalled that Peña Parra also put Gian Franco Mammì, director general of the IOR, under observation. The Secretariat of State asked the IOR for a loan to take over the mortgage on the London building and renegotiate it. The IOR at first said yes, with an official note. Then it suddenly changed course. Mammì made a report to the Vatican’s auditor general, who started an investigation.

This was followed by searches at the Secretariat of State and the Vatican Financial Intelligence Authority, a summary procedure decided by the pope, and the trial that is presently taking place at the Vatican.

Mincione has always stressed that his relationship was with Credit Suisse and not directly with the Holy See. “I don’t understand why I’m here and not Credit Suisse,” he said.

At this point in the trial, the hearings have created more questions than answers. It must be remembered that the accused are questioned but they do not give a formal testimony, swearing an oath to tell the truth. They can therefore potentially lie to defend themselves. This needs to be borne in mind when considering their declarations.

But there is a striking harmony in their accounts, albeit with various nuances. And so, we can begin to grasp the wider picture, even if some parts have yet to come into focus.

Pope Francis: Don’t hide wrinkles, it’s ‘the heart that matters’

Vatican City, Jun 8, 2022 / 04:05 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Wednesday encouraged people not to hide their wrinkles, saying “it’s the heart that matters.”

In his general audience on June 8, the pope praised the “wise Italian actress” for refusing to allow her wrinkles to be concealed.

Magnani, who died in 1973 at the age of 65, is said to have once told her make-up artist: “Please don’t retouch my wrinkles. It took me so long to earn them.”

Pope Francis cited the Oscar-winning actress, nicknamed “La Lupa” (“the she-wolf”), during a reflection on “the myth of eternal youth.”

He said: “Everything is done to always have this youth — so much make-up, so many surgical interventions to appear young. The words of a wise Italian actress, Magnani, come to mind, when they told her she had to remove her wrinkles and she said, ‘No, don’t touch them! It took so many years to have them — don’t touch them!’”

“This is what wrinkles are: a sign of experience, a sign of life, a sign of maturity, a sign of having made a journey. Do not touch them to become young, that your face might look young. What matters is the entire personality; it’s the heart that matters, and the heart remains with the youth of good wine — the more it ages, the better it is.”

The pope’s catechesis was the 13th in a that he began in February. He entered St. Peter’s Square in a white jeep, stopping to invite children in bright green hats to join him for part of his journey among pilgrims.

The jeep drove up to a raised platform in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, where the 85-year-old was helped to walk up to the white chair where he gave his address. The pope, who has made public appearances since May 5 due to knee pain, used a walking stick.

Pope Francis’ catechesis focused on the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus, a Pharisee, described in . The pope noted that the member of the Sanhedrin, an assembly of elders, was confused by Jesus’ declaration that “no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”

He said: “Nicodemus’s objection is very instructive for us. We can, in fact, turn it upside down, in the light of Jesus’ word, with the discovery of a mission proper to old age.”

“Indeed, being old is not only an obstacle to the being born from above that Jesus speaks of, but it becomes the opportune time to illuminate it, disassociating it from being equated with lost hope.”

He went on: “Our epoch and our culture, which demonstrates a worrisome tendency to consider the birth of a child as the simple matter of the production and biological reproduction of the human being, cultivate the myth of eternal youth as the desperate obsession with an incorruptible body.”

“Why is old age not appreciated in so many ways? Because it bears the undeniable evidence of the end of this myth, that makes us want to return to our mother’s womb always to return with a young body.”

The pope said that when old age is seen from the correct perspective, it has “a unique beauty.”

“Old age is the condition granted to many of us in which the miracle of this birth from above can be intimately assimilated and rendered credible for the human community,” he reflected.

“It does not communicate a nostalgia for a birth in time, but of a love for our final destination. In this perspective, old age has a unique beauty — we are journeying toward the Eternal.”

He added: “No one can re-enter their mother’s womb, not even using its technological and consumeristic substitute. This is not wisdom; this is not a journey that has been accomplished; this is artificial. That would be sad, even if it were possible. The elderly person moves ahead; the elderly person journeys toward the final destination, towards God’s heaven; the elderly person journeys with the wisdom of lived experience.”

“Old age, therefore, is a special time of disassociating the future from the technocratic illusion of a biological and robotic survival, especially because it opens one to the tenderness of the creative and generative womb of God.”

Concluding his address, Pope Francis said that today’s “throwaway culture” mistakenly sought to “throw out the elderly.”

“The elderly are the messengers of the future, the elderly are the messengers of tenderness, the elderly are the messengers of the wisdom of lived experience. Let us move forward and watch the elderly,” he commented.

A summary of the pope’s catechesis was then read out in seven languages.

Addressing English-speaking Catholics, he said: “I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially those from England, the Philippines, and the United States of America.”

“I offer a special greeting to the many student groups present. Upon you and your families I invoke the joy and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!”

Speaking to Polish pilgrims, the pope noted that June 8 is the anniversary of the of the 14th-century Polish queen , which took place in 1997.

He : “During her canonization, St. John Paul II recalled that through her work, Poland was united with Lithuania and Rus’. Entrust yourselves to her intercession, praying as she did at the foot of the Cross for peace in Europe. I bless you from my heart.”

Watch Pope Francis’ Full Catechesis Here:

Vatican bank reports $19 million profit in 2021

Vatican City, Jun 7, 2022 / 10:30 am (CNA).

The Institute for Works of Religion (), commonly known as the Vatican bank, announced on Tuesday that it had recorded a profit of around $19 million in 2021.

The $19 million net profit is down from in 2020 and in 2019.

In its , published on June 7, the IOR emphasized its dedication to managing clients’ financial assets according to Catholic values and principles.

, president of the Supervisory Commission of Cardinals, wrote in the report that the profit of 18.1 million euros ($19.3 million) was “an important result considering the low yields on financial markets.”

“The wise and prudent choices made by management continue to pay off,” he commented.

The IOR, based in Vatican City State, has 110 employees and 14,519 clients. It looks after 5.2 billion euros ($5.6 billion) of client assets.

According to the report, “the IOR strives to serve the global mission of the Catholic Church through the administration of the entrusted assets and by providing payment services to the Holy See and to Vatican City State, related entities, religious orders, other Catholic institutions, clergy, employees of the Holy See and the accredited diplomatic bodies.”

The report also noted that the IOR is a civil party in a historic to prosecute 10 people for financial crimes, some of which are related to the Secretariat of State’s purchase of a 350 million euro (about $375 million) London investment property.

The IOR is seeking damages together with the Secretariat of State, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (), the Financial Information and Supervision Authority (), and former Secretariat of State official Monsignor Alberto Perlasca.

In January 2021, the Vatican court in a separate trial against the IOR’s former president and other executives who had used their positions to embezzle from the Vatican.

The court found Angelo Caloia, his lawyer Gabriele Liuzzo, and Liuzzo’s son Lamberto Liuzzo guilty of financial crimes, for which they were given a prison sentence and fined 24.5 million euros (around $26 million) plus interest and costs. An appeal is pending.

The conclusion of the trial, which began in 2018, marked the first time that the Vatican had issued a prison sentence for financial crimes.

, the IOR’s prelate, wrote that the Vatican bank “was one of the first institutions to accept faithfully the wishes of the Pope in order to guarantee clarity, honesty, and order in the economic affairs of the Holy See.”

Ricca, who is second in the institute’s organizational hierarchy, said that new staff had “provided a great professional growth” and noted that the institute had “moved from the extensive activity that, for better or for worse, it carried out at the beginning of the changes to a smaller operational size that brings it exclusively into the service of the Holy See.”

“It basically does what it is supposed to do and nothing else,” he said.

Cardinal Farrell to lead Vatican investment oversight committee

Vatican City, Jun 7, 2022 / 05:49 am (CNA).

Cardinal Kevin Farrell will chair a new committee to oversee investments, the Vatican said on Tuesday.

The 74-year-old Irish-American cardinal will of four finance professionals.

Since 2020, Farrell has also led a committee to monitor internal that fall outside other accountability norms.

The investment committee was established by the Vatican’s , , to ensure “the ethical nature of the Holy See’s movable investments according to the social doctrine of the Church and, at the same time, their profitability, appropriateness, and riskiness.”

The apostolic constitution went into effect on June 5, the feast of Pentecost.

, who has led the since 2016, is overseeing the preparations for the in Rome from June 22-26.

Pope Francis appointed the former Dallas bishop as , or chamberlain, of the apostolic chamber, in 2019.

The camerlengo’s responsibilities include overseeing the preparations for a papal conclave and managing the administration of the Holy See in the period between a pope’s death or resignation and the election of a new pope.

Farrell will be joined on the investment oversight committee by , the chief investment officer of Boston College.

The other committee members are , founder and manager of RegHedge; , managing director of Union Investment Privatfonds GmbH; and portfolio manager of Skagen Funds.

Nigeria church massacre: Pope Francis mourns victims of ‘unspeakable violence’

Vatican City, Jun 6, 2022 / 11:54 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has expressed his “spiritual closeness” to Nigerian Catholics mourning the victims of a massacre at a church on Pentecost Sunday.

A sent on the pope’s behalf said that he was praying “for the conversion of those blinded by hatred and violence.”

In the June 5 attack, unidentified gunmen reportedly opened fire on Catholic worshipers attending Pentecost celebrations at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Owo, Ondo State, in southwestern Nigeria.

Initial reports suggested that were killed, including children, and others injured. Reuters on June 6 that there was no official death toll.

The papal telegram, released on June 6, was sent to Bishop Jude Ayodeji Arogundade of Ondo by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

It said: “His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the horrific attack at St. Francis Church in Owo, and he assures you and all those affected by this act of unspeakable violence of his spiritual closeness.”

“In commending the souls of the dead to the loving mercy of Almighty God and imploring divine healing and consolation upon the injured and those who are grieving, His Holiness prays for the conversion of those blinded by hatred and violence so that they will choose instead the path of peace and righteousness.”

“Upon you and the faithful of the diocese, Pope Francis invokes the divine blessings of comfort and strength as you continue to live the Gospel message with fidelity and courage.”

The Vatican also on June 5 after Pope Francis was informed of the attack.

“The pope learned of the attack on the church in Ondo, Nigeria, and the death of dozens of faithful, many children, during the celebration of Pentecost,” said Matteo Bruni, the director of the Holy See press office.

“While the details of the incident are being clarified, Pope Francis prays for the victims and for the country, painfully affected in a moment of celebration, and entrusts both to the Lord, to send his Spirit to comfort them.”

Why this August’s extraordinary consistory of cardinals is significant

Vatican City, Jun 6, 2022 / 04:46 am (CNA).

Under the Code of Canon Law, reformed in 1983, there are two types of consistories of cardinals: ordinary and extraordinary.

An extraordinary consistory is celebrated in particular cases and all the world’s cardinals are called to take part.

An ordinary consistory takes place when the pope needs the cardinals’ counsel on some important (though routine) issue, or to give solemnity to a papal decision such as the approval of canonizations.

The last time that Pope Francis summoned the cardinals to an extraordinary consistory was on Feb. 12-13, 2015. Now that the has been published, the pope is once again calling the cardinals to Rome for an extraordinary consistory.

It is the closing of a circle. The 2015 gathering was held before the consistory for the creation of new cardinals. The extraordinary consistory on Aug. 29-30, dedicated to discussion of the , will also take place after a consistory for the creation of .

Pope Francis has only called one other extraordinary consistory since his election in 2013. The meeting on Feb. 22, 2014, was focused on the family. It began with a speech by the German theologian that served as a baseline for discussions at the .

Between 2015 and 2022, many things changed. First of all, in the College of Cardinals. By 2015, Pope Francis had created 15 cardinal electors and five non-electors. In later consistories, he created 73 other cardinals, including 48 electors. The face of the College of Cardinals has profoundly altered in recent years.

After the August consistory, there will be 132 cardinal electors and will be cardinals created by Pope Francis. Many of them have not had the opportunity to talk to each other. “In the event of a conclave, I wouldn’t know who sits next to me,” complained a cardinal created during a past pontificate.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis has moved forward with a reform of the Curia that has also changed a lot over time. To understand the changes, we must go back to that extraordinary consistory of 2015, in which 164 cardinals from all over the world participated.

Father Federico Lombardi, then director of the Holy See press office, reported that the 2015 extraordinary consistory began with a “very broad multi-voiced report” on economic issues. , then prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, spoke, as did , president of the Council for the Economy, and other figures involved in Vatican financial reform.

The next day, there was a report by the Council of Cardinals (then known as the C9) on curial reform and also an address on the internal coordination of the Curia. then spoke about the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which had just been established.

In the ensuing years, Vatican financial reform took steps both forward and back, which mirrored the discussion at the 2015 consistory. In fact, the financial autonomy of Vatican departments was discussed then, as well as which departments maintained a degree of independence because of their unique nature, such as the Secretariat of State and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

In the end, however, after much trial and error, Pope Francis continued briskly with the reforms he had in mind. And perhaps it was precisely the discussions of those days, which some did not hesitate to call “resistance,” that convinced him of the need to pursue reform without consulting the wider College of Cardinals.

Father Lombardi said that there had been “a certain consensus” on the possibility of a partial implementation of some specific aspects of the reform, “without waiting for the completion of the whole work.”

That’s exactly what happened. But the use of the consistory as a sort of “papal advisory board,” as the pope had sought to do at the start of his pontificate, was suspended.

Consistories had a particular importance in the Middle Ages. They functioned at times as a governing body, as well as a court. Pope Innocent III even convened three meetings of the cardinals per week.

After Pope Sixtus V’s reform of the Curia in the 16th century, the consistories lost the weight of government. The cardinals assisted the pope in governing the Church instead through work in the Vatican congregations, while consistories were convened to add solemnity to important moments in the Church’s life.

The consistory assumed renewed importance after the Second Vatican Council. Writing in the book Father Gianfranco Grieco said that the pope always wanted the cardinals gathered in a consistory to wait for him on his return from an international trip, to exchange first impressions of the visit with them.

John Paul II convened six extraordinary consistories during his almost 27-year pontificate, discussing themes such as the renewal of the Curia, Church, and culture, the threats against life, and the challenge of the sects.

During these meetings, the cardinals seized the chance to get to know each other, talk to each other, and understand each other’s way of thinking. The gatherings were opportunities for exchange, not just for discussion. These have been lacking in the past seven years.

The extraordinary consistory in August, therefore, will have an impact on the next conclave. But what the cardinals have to say during the formal discussions is unlikely to carry much weight. The reform of the Curia has already been completed and promulgated; the cardinals can merely take note of it.

Pope Francis calls 100 days of war in Ukraine ‘negation of God’s dream’

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 5, 2022 / 07:04 am (CNA).

Pope Francis condemned the war in Ukraine after Russia’s ongoing invasion of that country reached the 100-day mark.

“On Pentecost, God’s dream for humanity becomes reality; fifty days after Easter, peoples who speak different languages encounter and understand one another,” the 85-year-old pontiff said. “But now, 100 days after the beginning of the armed aggression against Ukraine, the nightmare of war, which is the negation of God’s dream, has once again befallen humanity.”

He spoke to the crowd in St. Peter’s Square in Rome following the Regina Coeli, a Marian prayer said during the Easter season, on June 5. Thousands of faithful gathered on the feast of Pentecost with colorful banners and flags to pray with the pontiff on the hot, summer-like day. 

Every year, the feast of Pentecost marks the end of Easter and recalls when the Holy Spirit comes upon the apostles, Mary, and the first followers of Christ.

Before the Regina Coeli, Pope Francis asked the joyful crowd — young, elderly, religious, and families from around the world — to repeat the prayer: “Come Holy Spirit, remind me of Jesus, enlighten my heart.”

During his address, he urged world leaders to unite against war and work toward solutions.

“And while the fury of destruction and death rampages and the conflicts rage on, fuelling an escalation that is increasingly dangerous for all, I renew my appeal to the leaders of Nations: do not lead humanity into ruin, please!” he pleaded. “Let true negotiations take place, real talks for a ceasefire and for a sustainable solution.”

He added, “Let the desperate cry of the suffering people be heard — we see this every day in the media — have respect for human life and stop the macabre destruction of cities and villages in the east of Ukraine.”

June 3 marked 100 days since the beginning of Russia’s invasion that has left thousands dead. The United Nations that nearly 7 million people have fled Ukraine following Russia’s invasion, with many more within Ukraine.

Pope Francis, an outspoken advocate for the Ukrainian people, to meet with Vladimir Putin in Moscow and when the “right time” comes.

His comments come after he to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in March. At the end of May, he and around the world.

On Sunday, the pontiff encouraged, “Let us continue, please, to pray and to strive tirelessly for peace.” You can watch the pope's full address in the video below.

At the end of his address, Pope Francis also recognized the recent beatification of two : Leonardo Melki and Thomas George Saleh. 

Pope Francis also thanked God for a recently renewed truce between the Government in Yemen and Houthi rebels in the Yemen conflict.

He prayed for the victims of the landslides caused by torrential rains in the metropolitan region of Recife, Brazil, that have left more than 100 dead. He also expressed his closeness to fishermen suffering from increased gas prices and to all workers affected by the conflict in Ukraine.

He concluded with one last request: “I pray for you; pray for me.”

Boy asks Pope Francis: 'Can you come to Ukraine to save all the children?'

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Jun 5, 2022 / 05:35 am (CNA).

Pope Francis had a poignant exchange Saturday with a young Ukrainian boy who asked him to visit Ukraine "to save all the children who are suffering there now."

The conversation took place at the Vatican where the pope met with 160 schoolchildren of various faiths participating in the program “Treno dei Bambini," Italian for “Children’s Train," an initiative of the Pontifical Council for Culture in collaboration with the Italian state railways.

The request for Pope Francis to visit Ukraine came from a young Ukrainian boy named Sachar, who left Ukraine as a refugee and now lives in Rome, according to Vatican Media.

"I do not have a question but a request: Can you come to Ukraine to save all the children who are suffering there now?" the boy asked.

"I am glad that you are here. I think a lot about the children of Ukraine, and for that I have sent some cardinals to help there and to be close to all the people, to the children," responded the pope, who was seated in his wheelchair.

"I would like to go to Ukraine," he continued. "I just have to wait for the moment to do it, you know, because it's not easy to make a decision that can do more harm than good to the whole world."

The pope went on to say that "this coming week I will be receiving representatives of the Ukrainian government, who will come to talk, also to talk about my possible visit there. Let's see what happens." You can watch the pope's interactions with the children in the EWTN video below:

June 3 marked the 100th day of the war in Ukraine. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, since Russia's invasion began on Feb. 24, 4,183 Ukrainian civilians have been killed, of whom 268 are minors. In addition, 5,014 people have been injured, including 427 minors.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that nearly 7 million refugees have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries since the fighting started, and millions more have been displaced from their homes to other parts of Ukraine.

Pentecost 2022: Full text of Pope Francis’ homily

Vatican City, Jun 5, 2022 / 05:30 am (CNA).

In the final words of the Gospel we have just heard, Jesus says something that can offer us hope and make us think. He tells his disciples: “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all I have said to you (Jn 14:26). “Everything,” “all” – these words are striking; they make us wonder: how does the Spirit give this new and full understanding to those who receive him? It is not about quantity, or an academic question: God does not want to make us encyclopedias or polymaths. No. It is a question of quality, perspective, perception. The Spirit makes us see everything in a new way, with the eyes of Jesus. I would put it this way: in the great journey of life, the Spirit teaches us where to begin, what paths to take, and how to walk.

First, where to begin. The Spirit points out to us the starting point of the spiritual life. What is it? Jesus speaks of it in the first verse of the Gospel, when he says: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (v. 15). If you love me, you will keep ... this is the “logic” of the Spirit. We tend to think the exact opposite: if we keep the commandments, we will love Jesus. We tend to think that love comes from our keeping, our fidelity and our devotion. Yet the Spirit reminds us that without love as our basis, all the rest is in vain. And that love comes not so much from our abilities, but as his gift. He teaches us to love and we have to ask for this gift. The Spirit of love pours love into our hearts, he makes us feel loved and he teaches us how to love. He is the “motor” of our spiritual lives. He set it in motion within us. But if we do not begin from the Spirit, or with the Spirit or through the Spirit, we will get nowhere.

The Spirit himself reminds us of this, because he is the memory of God, the one who brings to our minds all that Jesus has said (cf. v. 26). The Holy Spirit is an active memory; he constantly rekindles the love of God in our hearts. We have experienced his presence in the forgiveness of our sins, in moments when we are filled with his peace, his freedom and his consolation. It is essential to cherish this spiritual memory. We always remember the things that go wrong; we listen to the voice within us that reminds us of our failures and failings, the voice that keeps saying: “Look, yet another failure, yet another disappointment. You will never succeed; you cannot do it.” This is a terrible thing to be told. Yet the Holy Spirit tells us something completely different. He reminds us: “Have you fallen? You are a son or daughter of God. You are a unique, elect, precious and beloved child. Even when you lose confidence in yourself, God has confidence in you!” This is the “memory” of the Spirit, what the Spirit constantly reminds us: God knows you. You may forget about God, but he does not forget about you. He remembers you always.

You, however, may well object: these are nice words, but I have problems, hurts and worries that cannot be removed by facile words of comfort! Yet that is precisely where the Holy Spirit asks you to let him in. Because he, the Consoler, is the Spirit of healing, of resurrection, who can transform the hurts burning within you. He teaches us not to harbor the memory of all those people and situations that have hurt us, but to let him purify those memories by his presence. That is what he did with the apostles and their failures. They had deserted Jesus before the Passion; Peter had denied him; Paul had persecuted Christians. We too think of our own mistakes. How many of them, and so much guilt! Left to themselves, they had no way out. Left to themselves, no. But with the Comforter, yes. Because the Spirit heals memories. How? By putting at the top of the list the thing that really matters: the memory of God’s love, his loving gaze. In this way, he sets our lives in order. He teaches us to accept one another, to forgive one another and to forgive ourselves; he teaches us to be reconciled with the past. And to set out anew.

In addition to reminding us where to begin, the Spirit teaches us what paths to take. We see this in the second reading, where Saint Paul explains that those “led by the Spirit of God” (Rom 8:14) “walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (v. 4). The Spirit, at every crossroads in our lives, suggests to us the best path to follow. It is important, then, to be able to distinguish his voice from the voice of the spirit of evil. Both speak to us: we need to learn to distinguish the voice of the Spirit, to be able to recognize that voice and follow its lead, to follow the things he tells us.

Let us consider some examples. The Holy Spirit will never tell you that on your journey everything is going just fine. He will never tell you this, because it isn’t true. No, he corrects you; he makes you weep for your sins; he pushes you to change, to fight against your lies and deceptions, even when that calls for hard work, interior struggle and sacrifice. Whereas the evil spirit, on the contrary, pushes you to always do what you want, what you find pleasing. He makes you think that you have the right to use your freedom any way you want. Then, once you are left feeling empty inside – it is bad, this feeling of emptiness inside, many of us have felt it – and when you are left feeling empty inside, he blames you and casts you down. He blames you, becomes the accuser. He throws you down, destroys you. The Holy Spirit, correcting you along the way, never leaves you lying on the ground, never. He takes you by the hand, comforts you and constantly encourages you.

Then again, whenever you feel troubled by bitterness, pessimism and negativity – how many times have we fallen into this! – then it is good to remember that these things never come from the Holy Spirit. Bitterness, pessimism, sad thoughts, these never come from the Holy Spirit. They come from evil, which is at home with negativity. It often uses this strategy: it stokes impatience and self-pity, and with self-pity the need to blame others for all our problems. It makes us edgy, suspicious, and querulous. Complaining is the language of the evil spirit; he wants to make you complain, to be gloomy, to put on a funeral face. The Holy Spirit on the other hand urges us never to lose heart and always to start over again. He always encourages you to get up. He takes you by the hand and says: “Get up!” How do we do that? By jumping right in, without waiting for someone else. And by spreading hope and joy, not complaints; never envying others, never -- envy is the door through which the evil spirit enters. The Bible tells us this: by the envy of the devil, evil entered the world. So never be envious! -- but the Holy Spirit brings you goodness; he leads you to rejoice in the success of others.

The Holy Spirit is practical, he is not an idealist. He wants us to concentrate on the here and now, because the time and place in which we find ourselves are themselves grace-filled. These are concrete times and places of grace, here and now. That is where the Holy Spirit is leading us. The spirit of evil, however, would pull us away from the here and now, and put us somewhere else. Often he anchors us to the past: to our regrets, our nostalgia, our disappointments. Or else he points us to the future, fueling our fears, illusions and false hopes. But not the Holy Spirit. The Spirit leads us to love, concretely, here and now, not an ideal world or an ideal Church, an ideal religious congregation, but the real ones, as they are, seen in broad light of day, with transparency and simplicity. How very different from the evil one, who foments gossip and idle chatter. Idle chatter is a nasty habit; it destroys a person’s identity.

The Holy Spirit wants us to be together; he makes us Church and today – here is the third and final aspect – he teaches the Church how to walk. The disciples were cowering in the Upper Room; the Spirit then came down and made them go forth. Without the Spirit, they were alone, by themselves, huddled together. With the Spirit, they were open to all. In every age, the Spirit overturns our preconceived notions and opens us to his newness. God, the Spirit, is always new! He constantly teaches the Church the vital importance of going forth, impelled to proclaim the Gospel. The importance of our being, not a secure sheepfold, but an open pasture where all can graze on God’s beauty. He teaches us to be an open house without walls of division. The worldly spirit drives us to concentrate on our own problems and interests, on our need to appear relevant, on our strenuous defense of the nation or group to which we belong. That is not the way of the Holy Spirit. He invites us to forget ourselves and to open our hearts to all. In that way, he makes the Church grow young. We need to remember this: the Spirit rejuvenates the Church. Not us and our efforts to dress her up a bit. For the Church cannot be “programmed” and every effort at “modernization” is not enough. The Spirit liberates us from obsession with emergencies. He beckons us to walk his paths, ever ancient and ever new, the paths of witness, poverty and mission, and in this way, he sets us free from ourselves and sends us forth into the world.

And finally, oddly, the Holy Spirit is the author of division, of ruckus, of a certain disorder. Think of the morning of Pentecost: he is the author… he creates division of languages and attitudes… it was a ruckus, that! Yet at the same time, he is the author of harmony. He divides with the variety of charisms, but it is a false division, because true division is part of harmony. He creates division with charisms and he creates harmony with all this division. This is the richness of the Church.

Brothers and sisters, let us sit at the school of the Holy Spirit, so that he can teach us all things. Let us invoke him each day, so that he can remind us to make God’s gaze upon us our starting point, to make decisions by listening to his voice, and to journey together as Church, docile to him and open to the world. Amen.

On Pentecost, Pope Francis explained how to recognize the Holy Spirit’s voice

Vatican City, Jun 5, 2022 / 04:30 am (CNA).

On the Solemnity of Pentecost, Pope Francis offered advice on how to distinguish the voice of the Holy Spirit from “the voice of the spirit of evil.”

Speaking from a wheelchair in front of the main altar of St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope provided several examples of how to recognize the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who “at every crossroads in our lives suggests to us the best path to follow.”

“The Holy Spirit will never tell you that on your journey everything is going just fine. … No, he corrects you; he makes you weep for your sins; he pushes you to change, to fight against your lies and deceptions, even when that calls for hard work, interior struggle and sacrifice,” Pope Francis in his homily on June 5.

“Whereas the evil spirit, on the contrary, pushes you to always do what you think and you find pleasing. He makes you think that you have the right to use your freedom any way you want. Then, once you are left feeling empty inside – it is bad, this feeling of emptiness inside, many of us have felt it – and when you are left feeling empty inside, he blames you, becomes the accuser, and throws you down, destroys you.”

“The Holy Spirit, correcting you along the way, never leaves you lying on the ground, never. He takes you by the hand, comforts you and constantly encourages you,” he added.

The pope, who has suffered from in recent months, did not preside over the Pentecost Mass. He sat in a white chair in front of the congregation to the right of the altar. Francis was assisted to the front of the altar in a to offer the homily.

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the 88-year-old dean of the College of Cardinals, served as the main celebrant for the Mass, as he did on earlier this year.

In his homily, Pope Francis underlined that feelings of “bitterness, pessimism and negativity” never come from the Holy Spirit, but come from evil, which “stokes impatience and self-pity … complaints and criticism, the tendency to blame others for all our problems.”

“The Holy Spirit on the other hand urges us never to lose heart and always to start over again. … Get up! How? By jumping right in, without waiting for someone else. And by spreading hope and joy, not complaints; never envying others, never – envy is the door through which the evil spirit enters — but the Holy Spirit ... leads you to rejoice in the successes of others,” he said.

The pope added that the Holy Spirit is “practical” and “wants us to concentrate on the here and now, because the time and place in which we find ourselves are themselves grace-filled.”

“The spirit of evil, however, would pull us away from the here and now, and put us somewhere else. Often he anchors us to the past: to our regrets, our nostalgia, our disappointments. Or else he points us to the future, fueling our fears, illusions and false hopes. But not the Holy Spirit. The Spirit leads us to love, here and now,” he said.

The Solemnity of Pentecost, which is celebrated 50 days after Easter, marks the descent of the Holy Spirit. Thousands were gathered inside of St. Peter’s Basilica for the Mass.

The twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit are charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity.

Pope Francis said that the Holy Spirit “rejuvenates the Church” and teaches the Church “to be an open house without walls of division.”

“Brothers and sisters, let us sit at the school of the Holy Spirit, so that he can teach us all things. Let us invoke him each day, so that he can remind us to make God’s gaze upon us our starting point, to make decisions by listening to his voice, and to journey together as Church, docile to him and open to the world,” he said.

Pope Francis to Oriental Orthodox priests: ‘Unity does not come about by standing still’

Vatican City, Jun 3, 2022 / 10:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis met Friday with a delegation of priests and monks from Oriental Orthodox Churches at the Vatican.

“Unity is not simply an end in itself, but is closely tied to the fruitfulness of the Christian proclamation: unity is for mission. Jesus prayed for his disciples that they ‘may all be one … so that the world may believe,’” the pope told the Oriental Orthodox delegation on June 3.

“At Pentecost, the Church was born as a missionary Church. Today too, the world is waiting, however unconsciously, to hear the Gospel message of charity, freedom and peace. It is a message that we are called to bear witness to with one another, not against one another or apart from one another.”

The Oriental Orthodox delegation visiting the Vatican was made up of 18 priests and monks from Egypt, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, India, Ethiopia, and Eritrea.

Within the group, clergy from the Coptic Orthodox Church, Armenian Apostolic Church, Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch, and many others were represented.

In his to the delegation, Pope Francis spoke about the Solemnity of Pentecost and the gift of Christian unity.

He said that unity is a gift “of the working of the Holy Spirit, to whom we need to open our hearts in trust, so that he can guide us along the path to full communion.”

The pope also noted that “unity is not uniformity,” but rather a “harmony in the diversity of the charisms bestowed by the Spirit.”

The Oriental Orthodox delegation was invited to the Vatican by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. , the president of the council, welcomed the group to Rome on May 31.

While in Rome, the delegation is scheduled to visit the Vatican Secretariat of State, the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for Catholic Education, Pontifical Armenian College, and the Pontifical Maronite College.

“Unity does not come about by standing still, but by moving forward with the new energy that the Spirit, from the day of Pentecost, impresses on the disciples,” Pope Francis said.

Quoting , whom the pope recently declared the “Doctor of Unity,” the pope said that the Church is “, a caravan of brothers.”

Pope Francis also thanked the priests who have witnessed to the Gospel amid Christian persecution and violence in their countries.

“Dear brothers, may the cross of Christ be the compass that directs us on our journey towards full unity. For on that cross Christ, our peace, reconciled us and gathered us into one people,” he said.