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Vatican fixes website glitch showing two versions of Catechism

Vatican City, May 11, 2021 / 06:00 am (CNA).

The Vatican has corrected a problem on its website that meant it displayed at least two different editions of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in English.

When using an online search engine, internet users could land on two different editions of the in English, one of which was an earlier edition.

Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See Press Office, told CNA last week that “it is one of those cases where the system updates are incompletely coordinated, so one page had the older version and the other the more recent one.”

Bruni explained that after being alerted, Vatican staff realigned the pages of the Catechism in English and were checking the website for similar problems in other languages.

Before it was corrected, the Vatican website showed two versions of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, sometimes not reflecting recent significant changes to the document.

In one version, for example, Pope Francis’ 2018 to paragraph 2267 on the death penalty was not present, while nothing on the page indicated that it was an older edition of the Catechism.

In one version, Paragraph 2358, on homosexuality, showed wording from a of the Catechism, which left out the phrase, “which is objectively disordered,” after the words “this inclination,” except when “concordant links” were turned off.

After fixing the website, the , as published in the Catechism, is visible whether concordant links are on or off.

Following the update, when website users use a search engine to find the Vatican website’s publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church some links may lead to an error message which says and that access to the page is not permitted.

This issue can be solved by clicking on the correct link, or by going to the English-language version of the directly and clicking on “Resource Library” at the foot of the homepage, which leads to a section called containing a link to the Catechism.

The fix to a part of the website comes after cyber security experts the Vatican to strengthen its defenses against hackers.

Andrew Jenkinson​, group CEO of Cybersec Innovation Partners (CIP) in London, told CNA in November last year that he had contacted the Vatican in July to express concern about its vulnerability to cyber attacks.

The British cybersecurity consultancy approached the Vatican following in July 2020 that suspected Chinese state-sponsored hackers had targeted Vatican computer networks.

Pope Francis institutes new ministry of catechist

CNA Staff, May 11, 2021 / 03:35 am (CNA).

Pope Francis issued an apostolic letter Tuesday formally instituting the new lay ministry of catechist.

The Vatican released the , (“Ancient ministry”), on May 11 in , including Italian Sign Language.

The pope said that the institution of the new lay ministry would “emphasize even more the missionary commitment proper to every baptized person, a commitment that must however be carried out in a fully ‘secular’ manner, avoiding any form of clericalization.”

The letter, issued motu proprio (“on his own impulse”), is dated May 10, the feast of the 16th-century Spanish Doctor of the Church St. John of Avila.

In the apostolic letter, the pope recalled the role of catechists in Church history, beginning with the New Testament’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, which refers to “teachers” within the early Christian community.

He said that catechists played a critical role in the Church’s missionary expansion in the following centuries.

The pope described the Second Vatican Council, held from 1962 to 1965, as a turning point that led to “a renewed appreciation of the importance of lay involvement in the work of evangelization.”

He also highlighted the “great foresight” of his predecessor St. Paul VI, who encouraged bishops’ conferences worldwide to consider instituting the ministry of catechist in their regions in his 1972 .

Pope Francis said that recent decades had seen “a significant renewal of catechesis,” citing the publication of the in 1992, Pope John Paul II’s 1979 , and the catechetical directories released since Vatican II.

Describing the qualities that the Church seeks in participants in the new lay ministry, he wrote: “Catechists are called first to be expert in the pastoral service of transmitting the faith as it develops through its different stages from the initial proclamation of the kerygma [Gospel proclamation] to the instruction that presents our new life in Christ and prepares for the sacraments of Christian initiation, and then to the ongoing formation that can allow each person to give an accounting of the hope within them.”

“At the same time, every catechist must be a witness to the faith, a teacher and mystagogue, a companion and pedagogue, who teaches for the Church.”

He emphasized that candidates should receive “suitable biblical, theological, pastoral, and pedagogical formation to be competent communicators of the truth of the faith and they should have some prior experience of catechesis.”

Pope Francis has emphasized the role of the laity since his election in 2013.

In his 2020 post-synodal , he said that there was a need to strengthen lay leadership in the Amazon region.

He wrote: “A Church of Amazonian features requires the stable presence of mature and lay leaders endowed with authority and familiar with the languages, cultures, spiritual experience and communal way of life in the different places, but also open to the multiplicity of gifts that the Holy Spirit bestows on every one. For wherever there is a particular need, he has already poured out the charisms that can meet it.”

“This requires the Church to be open to the Spirit’s boldness, to trust in, and concretely to permit, the growth of a specific ecclesial culture that is distinctively lay. The challenges in the Amazon region demand of the Church a special effort to be present at every level, and this can only be possible through the vigorous, broad, and active involvement of the laity.”

In January this year, the pope a , , changing canon law to allow women to serve as lectors and acolytes.

Lector and acolyte are publicly recognized ministries instituted by the Church. The roles were once considered “minor orders” in the tradition of the Church and were changed to ministries by Pope Paul VI.

The Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments will publish a Rite of Institution of the new lay ministry of catechist.

The pope wrote: “This ministry has a definite vocational aspect, as evidenced by the Rite of Institution, and consequently calls for due discernment on the part of the Bishop.”

“It is in fact a stable form of service rendered to the local Church in accordance with pastoral needs identified by the local Ordinary, yet one carried out as a work of the laity, as demanded by the very nature of the ministry.”

The pope said that bishops’ conferences should decide the “necessary process of formation and the normative criteria for admission” to the new ministry.

The apostolic letter was due to be presented at a at the Vatican featuring Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, and Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the Pontifical Council’s delegate for catechesis.

Pope Francis: The Spiritual Exercises deepen the concept of personal reform

Vatican City, May 10, 2021 / 08:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Monday sent a video message for the launch of a book on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, written by one of the pope’s early spiritual mentors.

The of “Buscar y hallar la voluntad de Dios: Comentario prático de los Ejercicios Espirituales de san Ignacio de Loyola” (Seek and Find the Will of God: Practical Guide to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola), by Fr. Miguel Ángel Fiorito, S.J., will be published May 11.

Fiorito, a Jesuit spiritual master who died in 2005, taught Pope Francis during his Jesuit formation in Argentina in the late 1950s.

Pope Francis has about Fiorito’s “passion for the Spiritual Exercises,” and how the priest “taught many to pray and to discern the signs of the times.”

The future Pope Francis first met Fiorito as a seminarian, and Fiorito became Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s spiritual director as he prepared for priestly ordination.

Later, as Jesuit provincial for Argentina, Bergoglio put Fiorito in charge of the last stage of Jesuit seminary formation.

Pope Francis has written a preface to the Italian edition of Fiorito’s guide to the spiritual exercises, which he called “a real treasure trove to enter into the soul of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.”

“We, his disciples, called [Fiorito] ‘the teacher.’ The help he gave us was simple but necessary. This book presents it with an open or, as we would say today, interactive structure,” Francis in his May 9.

The pope drew attention to the prologue of Fiorito’s book, in which the professor of Jesuit spirituality noted the commentary’s usefulness for those who want to practice the Spiritual Exercises and “not limit themselves to studying them.”

“The aim is to give oneself the time to feel the motions of the Spirit, and to seek in the concrete the will of God through the ‘reform’ of one’s life,” Pope Francis said.

He emphasized that the concept of personal reform is expanded and deepened in the Spiritual Exercises, where “the reform is not only in tension with what was previously deformed. Reform is also conforming to what is new, that is, to the life, style, criteria, and choices of the Lord.”

“The reform does not have a functional character, nor a self-improvement one, but rather is aimed at the mission,” he said.

Francis pointed to St. Peter as an example: “Every time he confesses he is a sinner, the Lord immediately calls him to follow him, perfecting him not in everything, but in what it takes to be a fisher of men and to shepherd his sheep.”

“The Lord will not ask Peter to start reforming all the defects that he brings with him from the past life, but he will invite him to go out of himself to announce the Gospel,” the pope said, “a mission in which the past will reform itself with regard to certain things and not so much with regard to others.”

“According to the model of the Gospel, the flame and the interior form of the Exercises, as Fiorito says, consist in the interior action of knowing -- through discernment -- ‘the divine will on the relevant themes of our spiritual life,’” he concluded.

Vatican creates group to study separating mafia from the Catholic Church

Vatican City, May 10, 2021 / 04:10 am (CNA).

The Vatican’s human development office has created a working group on the topic of the expulsion of criminal organizations from the Catholic Church.

The group was created in honor of Rosario Livatino, a Catholic judge killed by the mafia in Sicily in 1990, who was in the Cathedral of Agrigento May 9.

The eight-member group will study the excommunication of the mafia, offering support to bishops around the world, according to a press release announcing the initiative from the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development.

Giuseppe Pignatone, president of the Vatican City State Tribunal, will be a member of the group. Pignatone is an Italian magistrate who served as deputy public prosecutor in Palermo and then public prosecutor in the cities of Reggio Calabria and Rome, where he oversaw the arrests and trials of a large number of people belonging to organized crime organizations.

Other members of the anti-mafia working group are philosopher Vittorio V. Alberti; Italian politician and former president of the Antimafia Commission Rosy Bindi; anti-mafia activist Fr. Luigi Ciotti; author and ex-mafia rehabilitation activist Fr. Marcello Cozzi; Greek Catholic priest Fr. Ioan Alexandru Pop; and prison chaplain Fr. Raffaele Grimaldi.

Grimaldi has served as a prison chaplain for more than 20 years and helped rehabilitate the man behind the 1990 murder of Bl. Rosario Livatino. Antonio Gallea, then 20 years old and a leader of the Agrigento-based Stidda, was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder.

In 2015, the court granted Gallea parole for good behavior and Grimaldi supported the ex-mafia boss’ reform and reintegration into society.

Gallea also gave testimony during the diocesan phase of Livatino’s beatification cause but was arrested in February on accusations that he is again leading the Stidda.

Grimaldi was saddened to learn that the man he had known for 11 years may have returned to criminal activity.

“It is a great disappointment, I had given him all my trust,” Grimaldi said, according to , the newspaper of the Italian bishops’ conference.

"But that doesn’t change our mission. I do not give up. Paths to rehabilitation and reintegration must always be offered to inmates. A story like this cannot put all those who really want to make a path of change in a bad light,” he said.

The priest said: “I followed him spiritually, he came to Mass and to prayer meetings. He asked me for advice and I as a spiritual father did everything for him. I am a priest, I must give strength to resume the journey. That’s why I’m so disappointed now. But I’m praying for him.”

On the day of Rosario Livatino’s beatification, May 9, Pope Francis called the young judge “a martyr of justice and faith.”

“He always placed his work ‘under the protection of God’; for this, he became a witness of the Gospel until his heroic death. May his example be for everyone, especially magistrates, an incentive to be loyal defenders of the law and liberty,” the pope at the end of his Regina Caeli address.

Livatino worked as a prosecutor in Sicily dealing with the criminal activity of the mafia throughout the 1980s. He confronted what Italians later called the “Tangentopoli,” the system of mafia bribes and kickbacks given for public works contracts.

At the age of 37, he served as a judge at the Court of Agrigento.

He was driving unescorted toward the Agrigento courthouse when another car hit his vehicle, sending him off the road. He ran from the crashed vehicle into a field, but was shot in the back and then killed by more gunshots.

Today a plaque on the highway marks the spot where Livatino was killed. It reads: “Martyr of justice.” On Dec. 21, Pope Francis elevated this title when he the judge as a martyr killed “in hatred of the faith.”

Pope Francis: To love like Christ means saying ‘no’ to love of money, vanity, power

Vatican City, May 9, 2021 / 07:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Sunday that loving like Christ requires a rejection of the worldly loves of money, success, vanity, and power.

“To love like Christ means saying 'no' to other ‘loves’ that the world offers us: love of money – those who love money do not love as Jesus loves -- love of success, vanity, of power,” the pope said from the window of the Apostolic Palace on May 9.

“These deceptive paths of ‘love’ distance us from the Lord’s love and lead us to become more and more selfish, narcissistic, overbearing. And being overbearing leads to a degeneration of love, to the abuse of others, to making our loved ones suffer.”

In his , the pope told pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square that “Jesus asks us to abide in his love,” not in “our own self-worship.”

“Those who dwell in self-worship, live in the mirror, always looking at themselves,” he said.

The pope said that Jesus desires “us to overcome the pretense of controlling and managing others,” and wants to open hearts to self-giving love for others.

“To love as Jesus means to offer yourself in service, at the service of your brothers and sisters, as he did in washing the feet of the disciples,” he said.

“It also means going outside of ourselves, detaching ourselves from our own human certainties, from earthly comforts, in order to open ourselves up to others, especially those in greater need. It means making ourselves available, as we are and with what we have.”

After reciting the Regina caeli, a Marian prayer said during the Easter season, the pope asked people to pray for the victims of a terrorist attack in Afghanistan.

At least 50 people were killed and more than 100 injured in a bombing on May 8 outside of a school in Kabul, according to the BBC. Many of the victims were young girls who attended the school.

Pope Francis called the attack “an inhumane act” and asked people to pray for each of the victims and their families. “And may God give peace to Afghanistan,” he added.

The pope also expressed concern about “violent clashes” in Colombia and in Jerusalem. He prayed for peace in both places, urging that the Holy Land should be “a place of prayer and peace.”

Pope Francis commended the May 9 , a Catholic judge brutally killed by the mafia in Sicily in 1990, calling him a “martyr of justice and faith.”

“And we cannot forget mothers!” the pope added, acknowledging Mother’s Day and extending a greeting to “all mothers around the world.”

“The Lord wants the joy he possesses … to be in us insofar as we are united to Him,” Pope Francis said.

“The joy of knowing we are loved by God despite our infidelities enables us to face the trials of life confidently, makes us live through crises so as to emerge from them better.”

“Our being true witnesses consists in living this joy, because joy is the distinctive sign of a true Christian. True Christians are not sad; they always have that joy inside, even in difficult moments.”

Pope Francis, Jane Goodall speak on ‘what it means to be human’ at Vatican health conference

Vatican City, May 8, 2021 / 10:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis and Jane Goodall both offered perspectives on “what it means to be human” on the final day of an online Vatican health conference on Saturday.

In a video message to the virtual conference on May 8, the pope said that Saint Augustine’s words in "The Confessions" are timeless: “Man is himself a great deep."

“The Scriptures, and philosophical and theological reflection in particular, have employed the concept of ‘soul’ to define our uniqueness as human beings and the specificity of the person, which is irreducible to any other living being and includes our openness to a supernatural dimension and thus to God,” the pope said.

Pope Francis said that “this openness to the transcendent” is fundamental and “bears witness to the infinite value of every human person.”

Anthropologist Jane Goodall, famed for her work with chimpanzees, also spoke at the Vatican conference on “mind, body, and soul,” giving a talk entitled “What does it Mean to be Human?”

“I think where we fit in into the picture of primates is we are the fifth great ape, and our closest relative among the other great apes... Well, there's two of them, actually, the chimpanzee and the bonobo. We differ from each other genetically by only just over 1%,” Goodall said.

She offered examples of how chimpanzees can be taught sign language, use the computer, and make drawings. During evolution, she said, humans learned to communicate with words, language, and writing that enables people to be distinguished by their ability to make plans for the future and invent rockets.

“But then when you realize how like us chimpanzees are, and yet how we differ with this explosive development of the intellect, this development of the intellect has not given us a reason to label ourselves as Homo sapiens, the wise ape. We're not wise. We've seen what Mars looks like. We don't want to live there. We've only got this one planet, at least in our lifetimes, and we're destroying it,” Goodall said.

“All the major religions share the golden rule, do to others as you would have them do to you. If we can apply that to animals, as well as to each other, then I think we shall be coming closer to being able to define ourselves as Homo sapiens,” she added.

The taking place May 6-8 on “Exploring the Mind, Body & Soul: How Innovation and Novel Delivery Systems Improve Human Health,” has featured more than 100 speakers including , chief medical adviser to U.S. President Joe Biden, as well as Clinton Foundation vice chair and New Age guru

It is the fifth conference of its kind organized by the and the , which describes itself as a “nonsectarian, nonpartisan” group “with a mission to improve human health globally.” This year is the first time that the conference is taking place virtually.

“I am pleased that students from various universities throughout the world, Catholic and non-Catholic, are taking part in this event. I encourage you to undertake and pursue interdisciplinary research involving various centers of study, for the sake of a better understanding of ourselves and of our human nature, with all its limits and possibilities, while always keeping in mind the transcendent horizon to which our being tends,” Pope Francis said.

The pope said that when interdisciplinary research is applied to the medical sciences it “translates into more sophisticated research and increasingly suitable and exact strategies of care.”

“We need but think of the vast field of research in genetics, aimed at curing a variety of diseases. Yet this progress has also raised a number of anthropological and ethical issues, such as those dealing with the manipulation of the human genome aimed at controlling or even overcoming the aging process, or at achieving human enhancement,” he said.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin also addressed the conference via video message on May 8.

The cardinal said that human beings are distinguished from animals by rationality, “a high degree of self-understanding” and reflection on others and the universe.

“Another unique feature is the moral conscience that allows us to act by distinguishing between what is good and what is bad. This fundamental reference causes us to ask ourselves ethical questions about our actions, about society, about the use of the tools that we develop and make socially usable,” Parolin said.

“A strong moral sense pushes us to denounce and take actions that put an end to injustices through philanthropic and solidarity actions that counteract the manifestations of evil.”

He also noted that humans are capable of contemplating beauty and artistic expression in many different forms, as well as possessing “the openness to the transcendent horizon which in the lives of many of us leads to religious experience, but which also prompts us to question ourselves about the ultimate questions.”

“The ancient thinkers encapsulated this specificity and uniqueness of the human being in a single term, , which from Cicero onwards became the category with which to indicate the objective principle of a complex system of exquisitely human moral values,” Parolin said.

“Now, this day seals the three days full of content, and is also the final moment of a complex itinerary of reflection. However, it is also an openness to a constant search for human natures conducted by the philosophers and men of culture of the past. My wish is, therefore, to continue to deepening the mystery of our being with enthusiasm and determination, to discover and be fascinated by what makes us truly human," he said.

Pope Francis calls for suspension of Covid-19 vaccine patents in ‘Vax Live’ concert video

Vatican City, May 8, 2021 / 06:40 am (CNA).

Pope Francis called for the "temporary suspension of intellectual property rights" for COVID-19 vaccines in his video message to the "Vax Live" concert co-chaired by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

“The coronavirus has produced death and suffering, affecting the lives of everyone, especially the most vulnerable,” Pope Francis said in his to the concert, which will be broadcast on May 8.

“I beg you not to forget the most vulnerable,” the pope said.

More than 20,000 vaccinated people filled a stadium at “Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World,” which was pre-taped on May 2 in Los Angeles.

The concert was organized by Global Citizen, an advocacy organization founded in Australia in 2008 focused on poverty reduction, with support from the Coca-Cola company, Delta Airlines, Verizon, Citi, Cisco, and Procter & Gamble.

Selena Gomez hosted the concert which included performances by Jennifer Lopez and the Foo Fighters, as well as appearances by David Letterman, Ben Affleck, and Chrissy Teigen.

In the pope’s video message, he said that a “sick economy” is one that “allows a very rich few, a very rich few, to own more than the rest of humanity.”

Pope Francis also spoke about the “virus of individualism” and the “virus of closed nationalism,” which he said stands in the way of the “internationalism of vaccines.”

“God the Creator instills in our hearts a new and generous spirit to abandon our individualisms and promote the common good: a spirit of justice that mobilizes us to ensure universal access to the vaccine and the temporary suspension of intellectual property rights; a spirit of communion that allows us to generate a different, more inclusive, fair and sustainable economic model,” he said.

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden also sent a video message to the Vax Live concert, in which the president said that the United States is “working with leaders around the world to share more vaccines.”

Pope Francis recorded his video message in Spanish. It was played on a large projection screen at the concert. The pope said: “Dear young people in age and spirit: Receive a cordial greeting from this old man, who does not dance or sing like you do, but who believes with you that injustice and evil are not invincible.”

“God, physician and savior of all, comfort the suffering, welcome into his kingdom those who have already departed,” he said.

“And I also ask this God for us, pilgrims on earth, to grant us the gift of a new brotherhood, a universal solidarity, that we can recognize the good and the beauty that he sowed in each one of us, to strengthen bonds of unity, of common projects, of shared hopes.”

Vatican Conference 2021: Chelsea Clinton, Francis Collins speak on second day

CNA Staff, May 7, 2021 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

On the second day of an online Vatican conference on “exploring the mind, body, and soul,” Chelsea Clinton called for the regulation of “anti-vaccine content” on social media.

She made the appeal during a May 7 discussion on building a more equitable health system in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The daughter of former U.S. President Bill Clinton and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began by thanking the Vatican for convening the virtual meeting.

Clinton, the 41-year-old vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, reflected on why a significant number of people are not taking up the COVID-19 vaccine. She distinguished between “vaccine hesitancy” and “vaccine refusal.”

“We just have to be cognizant that there are very different reasons why people may say ‘not now’ or ‘not ever,’” she said.

Clinton explained that the Clinton Foundation was seeking to reach both those who are reluctant to receive the vaccine and those who refuse it outright through “trusted messengers.”

She said: “We’ve done work with a number of different religious communities, including some of our Catholic partners, to really help ensure that whoever is able to have a conversation is able to preempt or to answer whatever questions people may have, and even for those who are currently in the refusing group to get a message like: ‘The vaccines are waiting for you, and the vaccinators will be too, whenever you are comfortable. And we are going to keep reaching out to try to help you get comfortable.’”

Clinton, a and a of legal abortion, was speaking at a on “Exploring the Mind, Body & Soul: How Innovation and Novel Delivery Systems Improve Human Health,” taking place virtually May 6-8.

It is the fifth conference of its kind organized by the and the , which describes itself as a “nonsectarian, nonpartisan” group “with a mission to improve human health globally.”

Emphasizing that she was speaking on her own behalf, rather than for the organizations she represents, Clinton called for international regulation of social media content on vaccines.

She said: “I personally very strongly believe there has to be more intensive and intentional and coordinated global regulation of the content on social media platforms.”

“We know that the most popular video across all of Latin America for the last few weeks, that now has tens of millions of views, is just an anti-vaccine, anti-science screed that YouTube has just refused to take down.”

“We know that often anti-vaccine content that is created in the United States, unfortunately, kind of flourishes across the world, through the pathways of WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram...”

“And we know that -- because I have tried -- appealing to the leadership of these companies to do the right thing has just not worked, and so we need regulation.”

Speaking earlier on the second day, Dr. Francis Collins suggested that the coronavirus pandemic should be seen as both a medical and a spiritual crisis.

Collins, the director of the U.S. (NIH) and a member of the , said that the medical crisis was obvious in terms of the number of people who have contracted the virus and died from it.

“But it has also disrupted us spiritually,” he said, “it has caused great amounts of struggle, in terms of mental health, anxiety, depression, even a sense of PTSD, from people who have gone through this over and over again.”

Speaking from his home office, where he said he had been living like a “hermit,” Collins said that while science seemed to provide the best hope for a way out of the pandemic, it could not answer people’s deepest questions about the meaning of suffering.

He said: “The hope that we might want to offer now comes in many ways from science, and it’s something that I’m immersed in every day: the development of these vaccines coming forward at extraordinary speed, with unexpectedly, remarkably high efficacy and safety -- an answer to prayer, one might even say.”

“But also the other struggles that people are having which vaccines alone are not going to deal with… The sense of hopelessness that many have experienced, of fear, that is where I think faith is a much better solution, perhaps, than many have given it credit for.”

Collins, an evangelical Christian who was once an atheist, has overseen the NIH’s collaboration with pharmaceutical companies and government agencies to develop a vaccine for COVID-19.

He noted that he had experienced difficult moments as he watched the virus spread around the world, but had found solace in the Bible.

He said: “I’ve had my own times over these 15 months of feeling frustrated, maybe even a little hopeless, that this virus continued to win the battles that we were losing. And I could not help but ask God: ‘Why is this happening? Is there not something that you can do about it?’”

“But as I read through the pages of that book of God’s words, of the Bible, I found myself settling into the Psalms a lot. Because if you think that our times and struggle are novel, well, go and read the Psalms and you’ll see what David and the other writers of those hymns were dealing with also.”

“And I continually come back to them and particularly to Psalms like Psalm 46, which seems to have been written for this era. Psalm 46 begins, ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.’ Trouble. We’ve had trouble. We’re still having trouble. But this is this promise that God is aware of that and with us, and as a refuge and a strength.”

Collins, who the $1.3 million Templeton Prize last year, continued: “So I’m glad for the vaccines. I’m glad for the remarkable advances in diagnostic technologies to figure out where this virus is and who’s been infected, and I’m glad for the therapeutic advances that are happening.”

“But I’m also glad that I have this promise of a God who understands suffering, died on a cross in a suffering experience that none of us can even imagine, and who is our refuge and strength and our ever-present help in trouble.”

Another speaker on day two was Brandon Marshall, who played 13 seasons in the NFL, who reflected on his struggle with borderline personality disorder and described his efforts to help people at risk of suicide.

In his remarks at the start of the conference on May 6, Pontifical Council president Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi said that the conference was organized around three themes, which he described as three stars that light up the sky: the body, the soul, and the mind.

He added that the conference would involve dialogue with different experts and people on these themes and that people’s visions on the issues would differ.

Speakers on the event’s included Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to U.S. President Joe Biden, and New Age guru Deepak Chopra.

The Vatican health conference also features the CEOs of large pharmaceutical companies, including Moderna and Pfizer, along with celebrities active in medical philanthropy, global health advocates, policymakers, physicians, and religious leaders.

The conference’s website more than 100 speakers, including Kerry Kennedy, Cindy Crawford, Joe Perry of the rock band Aerosmith, and Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, prefect emeritus of the Vatican Secretariat for Communications.

On Saturday, the conference’s final day, there will be a “private virtual audience” for participants with Pope Francis.

Pope Francis meets with bishop of murdered lay missionary

Vatican City, May 7, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis met with a delegation Thursday from the diocese in Peru where Nadia De Munari, an Italian lay missionary, was murdered last month.

Bishop Giorgio Barbetta, the auxiliary of Huarí diocese, came to Italy to offer a for De Munari, who was killed while serving among the poor as a Vincentian missionary in Peru.

“A beacon illuminated Nadia’s life,” Barbetta said at the funeral on May 3 in Schio, Italy.

De Munari brought this light to Nuevo Chimbote, the community where she served in Peru, Barbetta said.

In Nuevo Chimbote, the bishop explained, 80,000 people live “in shacks made of mats, often without light, water and sewers,” he said.

It was in this poor neighborhood that De Munari ran multiple kindergartens, daycare centers, and a primary school, serving around 500 children

“Just a few weeks ago, Nadia was worried about the children and had brought together the teachers to resume activities following the quarantine. She was running towards the good, but she was stopped by violence,” the bishop said.

On the morning of April 21, De Munari was found unconscious in a pool of blood with head injuries in the missionary center where she lived in Nuevo Chimbote.

According to the local newspaper Diario de Chimbote, she had been attacked in the early hours of April 21 at the “Mamma Mia” home run by Operation Mato Grosso organization.

The missionary was taken to the Eleazar Guzmán Barrón regional hospital, where the attending physician said that she had fractures to her jaw, forearm, and neck, as well as several cuts to her head and face.

She was later transferred to a clinic in Lima, where she died April 24. She was 50 years old.

There is an ongoing police investigation into the circumstances surrounding her death.

Pope Francis received Bishop Barbetta and priests from the Peruvian diocese in a private audience on May 6. The group showed the pope photographs and shared memories of the late missionary.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin sent a , dated April 27, on behalf of Pope Francis, saying that the pontiff offered prayers for the eternal repose of her soul.

The telegram said that Pope Francis condemned “this new and unjustifiable episode of violence, which is added to the many others in which missionaries have lost their lives while performing, with self-denial, their service to the Gospel and assistance to the most needy and defenseless.”

Barbetta said that De Munari’s life and blood had “become a seed” that has taken root.

“In Nuevo Chimbote, no one will be able to forget her … This seed will take root again in the hearts of many young people and those who receive this seed will feel pain and love, indissolubly united. But from pain, from non-sense, from coldness, they will discover love. it will be able to give life to the desire of God … because as Nadia often repeated ‘don't keep life for yourself, give it as a gift.’”

Cardinals’ council discusses pandemic recovery, curial reform with Pope Francis

Vatican City, May 7, 2021 / 04:05 am (CNA).

Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals met online Thursday to discuss the Church’s response to the economic and social fallout of the coronavirus pandemic in different parts of the world, according to a Vatican statement.

Each of the seven cardinals described the situation in their respective regions and “the commitment of the Church in favor of health, economic recovery and the support offered to the most needy,” the statement from the Holy See Press Office .

Pope Francis also participated in the May 6 meeting, connecting virtually from his residence in Vatican City.

Also on the agenda for the meeting was the ongoing revision of the draft of the new constitution to govern the Roman Curia, known as .

According to the Vatican, the Council of Cardinals discussed “the working methodology that will have to be implemented for the revision and correction of some normative texts following the future entry into force of the next apostolic constitution, as well as the further perspectives opened by the text in preparation.”

The group of cardinal advisers, sometimes referred to as the C9 because it previously had nine members, was by Pope Francis in 2013, to “assist him in the governance of the universal Church,” as well as to revise the text of the 1988 .

At one of the council’s first meetings, it was decided that projected revisions to would be substantial enough to warrant an entirely new constitution.

The cardinals have been working on drafting and revising the text since 2014, soliciting feedback from bishops’ conferences last year. An updated draft was presented to Pope Francis last summer and suggestions from Vatican departments are being evaluated. But the Vatican has given no projected date for the constitution’s publication.

The cardinal members of the council are Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State; Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay; Seán O’Malley, archbishop of Boston; Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa; Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich and Freising; Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu of Kinshasa; and Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Governorate of the Vatican City State.

The Council of Cardinal’s next meeting is scheduled for June.

Anthony Fauci, Deepak Chopra speak at first day of Vatican health conference

CNA Staff, May 6, 2021 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

At the first day of an online Vatican conference on “exploring the mind, body, and soul,” Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke about the evolution of the scientific community’s response to the novel coronavirus outbreak, and the difference between acting based on instinct and acting from data.

Fauci, an immunologist and chief medical adviser to U.S. President Joe Biden, responded to questions from CNN journalist Sanjay Gupta, who asked him how much doctors “have to rely on faith, not just religious faith, but your own system of belief,” when confronting something new, like COVID-19.

“I think you have to rely on it when you’re starting with nothing,” Fauci said. But he added that “as more solid scientific information becomes available, you pull away a bit from the kind of experience, instinct and get more into the reality of the evidence you have.”

He said there are some people “who don’t appreciate the evolution of understanding and the evolution of knowledge, that you’re going to change some of your viewpoints because the data itself will not necessarily change, but additional data changes the status of your knowledge.”

“Your knowledge may be minimal and you’re acting on quote ‘faith,’ as it were, versus the true, substantive evidence in data, which really gives you a much better foundation,” he said. “So that’s the way I look at it.”

Fauci spoke near the beginning of a on “Exploring the Mind, Body & Soul: How Innovation and Novel Delivery Systems Improve Human Health,” taking place virtually May 6-8.

It is the fifth conference of its kind organized by the and the , which describes itself as “a nonsectarian, nonpartisan, public 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to improve human health globally.”

Cura Foundation president Robin Smith and Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi gave the opening remarks.

Ravasi said that “the body is a fundamental reality of human existence and of communication,” and pointed to Christianity’s central mystery, the Incarnation.

He said the conference would be organized around three themes, which he described as three stars that light up the sky: the body, the soul, and the mind.

The cardinal added that the conference would involve dialogue with different experts and people on these themes, and that people’s visions on the issues would differ.

Deepak Chopra, a leading figure in the New Age movement, was part of a discussion with Dr. Rudolf Tanzi about inflammation and the brain, moderated by surgeon and television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz.

Chopra and Tanzi are co-authors of the book “The Healing Self” about “how a positive attitude can trigger health,” according to Oz.

In the context of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and Parkinson’s disease, Chopra gave his lifestyle advice for decreasing stress-based inflammation, including good sleep, mind-body coordination, exercise, emotional resilience, food, mindfulness, and yoga.

Oz asked Chopra about “the mind’s role in healing the body.”

Chopra said: “One of the fundamental questions in science is called ‘the hard problem of consciousness’: How do we experience thoughts, feelings, emotions, insight, intuition, inspiration, creativity, vision, even reverence for God?”

The question, he continued, is “how does the brain do that? Is the mind doing the brain or the brain doing the mind? And right now, the conversation seems to be neither is doing each other.”

“Consciousness is more fundamental. We experience it subjectively as the mind and we experience it objectively as the body and the brain, but the brain is part of the body,” he said.

This “consciousness,” he suggested, is “what spiritual traditions call the soul and cognitive scientists call the conscious agent.”

Oz asked Chopra “what gives you this essence, that soul? Where does that come from in your cosmology?”

Chopra said that “right now cognitive scientists, those who believe in this framework, say that that soul, or that conscious agent, is an aspect of a universal consciousness which religions might call God.”

“It doesn’t matter what you call it... there’s an underlying field of awareness, of consciousness, which modulates itself and differentiates itself into conscious agents which we call souls.”

The Vatican health conference also features the CEOs of large pharmaceutical companies, including Moderna and Pfizer, along with celebrities active in medical philanthropy, global health advocates, policymakers, physicians, and religious leaders.

The conference’s website more than 100 speakers, including Kerry Kennedy, Cindy Crawford, John Sculley, Brandon Marshall, Joe Perry of the rock band Aerosmith, and Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, prefect emeritus of the Vatican Secretariat for Communications.

Pope Francis to hold general audience with the public on May 12

CNA Staff, May 6, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

Members of the public will be able to attend Pope Francis’ general audience next week after a six-month absence due to the coronavirus crisis.

The Prefecture of the Papal Household announced May 6 that the pope’s general audience next Wednesday will take place in the San Damaso Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace.

It said that people wishing to attend the May 12 audience will be able to access the interior courtyard via the Bronze Doors, located under the right-hand colonnade in St. Peter’s Square.

Pilgrims will be required to observe safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The courtyard has a capacity of around 500 or so socially distanced and masked participants.

The Prefecture of the Papal Household said that pilgrims will not need entrance tickets to attend the audience.

General audiences are usually held in either St. Peter’s Square or the Paul VI Audience Hall. But when the pandemic first struck Italy in March 2020, the pope transferred his general audiences to the library of the Apostolic Palace, where they took place without public access.

The live-streamed general audience from the library occurred on March 11, 2020.

The Vatican with holding the audiences in the San Damaso Courtyard in September last year. The audience at the venue with members of the public took place on Sept. 2.

In the following weeks, Pope Francis sometimes sat close to attendees, many of whom he would spend a long time greeting individually before and after the event.

In October, the audiences were transferred to the Vatican’s larger Pope Paul VI Audience Hall and Pope Francis kept his distance from pilgrims.

The Vatican decided to move the audiences again when a person at the pope’s Oct. 21 audience was found to have been positive for COVID-19.

Pope Francis held his last Wednesday audience with the public on Oct. 28. He participants that he would be staying up on the stage and not greeting each of them as he liked to do.

“I would very much like to come down and greet each one of you, but we must keep our distance, because if I come down, then a crowd immediately forms to greet me, and this is contrary to the measures and the precautions we must take in order to face this ‘lady’ that is called COVID and harms us so much,” he said.

Starting Nov. 4, the pope gave his general audience catechesis and greetings via live video from his study in the Apostolic Palace.

At the end of December and through January, Pope Francis also delivered his Sunday Angelus address via live stream.

But in February, he began to give the address from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, where groups of masked pilgrims typically stand some distance apart from each other to prevent the transmission of the virus.

At the end of his address on Feb. 7, he : “I am happy to see you again gathered in the Square, even those habitué [regulars], the Spanish nuns here, who are always good; come rain or shine they are there! And also the young people of the Immaculate... All of you. I am pleased.”

‘We are ready to give up our lives’: 34 new Swiss Guards take oath to protect the pope

Vatican City, May 6, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

Thirty-four new Swiss Guards were sworn in Thursday in an elaborate ceremony in Vatican City in which the guards promised to protect the pope, even “sacrificing if necessary also my own life.”

Gian Andrea Bossi, a 20-year-old from Davos, Switzerland, was among the new Swiss Guards to take the oath on May 6.

“It is a great honor for me, for all of us. … We’ve prepared for weeks, for months for this day,” Bossi told EWTN News.

“I’ve always wanted to serve God in a way, and I wanted to serve the Catholic Church,” he said.

The swearing-in ceremony for one of the world’s oldest standing armies took place on the 494th anniversary of the Sack of Rome, the battle on May 6, 1527, in which 147 Swiss Guards lost their lives defending Pope Clement VII from mutinous troops of the Holy Roman Empire.

The ceremony began with three Swiss Guards blowing trumpets from the loggia, and then the guards marched to the sound of drums in a solemn procession.

Due to coronavirus restrictions, only the families of the guards and the press were allowed to attend the ceremony held in Vatican City’s San Damaso Courtyard. In 2020, at least 13 Swiss Guards for COVID-19.

As part of the schedule this year, the family members of the new guards prayed Vespers on the evening of May 5 in the church of Santa Maria della Pietà in the Vatican’s Teutonic College. Later, the “deposition of the crown” ceremony took place in commemoration of the guards who died during the Sack of Rome.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin also offered Mass with the Swiss Guards in St. Peter’s Basilica in the morning ahead of the swearing-in ceremony.

Gérald Crettaz, the father of one of the new Swiss Guards, 23-year-old Baptiste Crettaz, said that he was very proud of his son for taking the oath.

“In our current world, where everyone is quite selfish and self-centered, my son is committed to something bigger, something wider that doesn’t belong to him, but to everyone. I think it is fantastic and it is so generous,” Crettaz said.

During the ceremony itself, each new recruit approached the flag of the Swiss Guard as his name was called out. Firmly grasping the banner with his left hand, the new guard raised his right hand and opened three fingers as a sign of his faith in the Holy Trinity.

While holding up his fingers, the guard said aloud: “I, (name), swear diligently and faithfully to abide by all that has just been read out to me, so grant me God and so help me his saints.”

In English, the full oath reads: “I swear I will faithfully, loyally and honorably serve the Supreme Pontiff Francis and his legitimate successors, and also dedicate myself to them with all my strength, sacrificing if necessary also my life to defend them. I assume this same commitment with regard to the Sacred College of Cardinals whenever the see is vacant. Furthermore, I promise to the Commanding Captain and my other superiors respect, fidelity, and obedience. This I swear! May God and our Holy Patrons assist me!”

Swiss Guards -- known for their colorful striped Renaissance-era uniforms -- are responsible for Vatican security together with the Vatican gendarmes. The Vatican military was established by Pope Julius II in 1506.

Candidates for the Pontifical Swiss Guard are required to meet strict requirements. Each recruit must be a Catholic unmarried male at least 5 feet, 8 inches tall and between the ages of 19 and 30. Swiss citizenship is required, as is a letter of good standing from the candidate’s parish priest.

“It is something that only we, Swiss people, can do, and it is important to show that there still are young people ready to be committed to promote some values,” new Swiss Guard Baptiste Crettaz said.

“The fact that we are ready to give up our life for the Holy Father represents a strong meaning,” he said.

The Vatican approved an expansion of the size of the Pontifical Swiss Guards three years ago from 110 to 135 men. Despite the new recruits, it remains the smallest army in the world.

“I am excited to see the Vatican, to get to know the pope … also to be closer to the Church, to the faith, to grow in the faith,” Bossi said.

“In the end it is to serve God, to serve the Church, to protect the faith and defend the pope,” he said.

Pope Francis received the new Swiss Guards in the Vatican Apostolic Palace ahead of the ceremony. The pope recalled that some former guards had discerned the priesthood after their service, while others went on to form their own families.

“I pray that those who begin their service now may also respond fully to Christ’s call, following him with faithful generosity,” he .

“May these years that you will spend here be an occasion for a deepening of your faith and an even stronger love for the Church. I accompany you with my prayers and I thank you for choosing to make a few years of your life available to the Successor of Peter.”

Pope Francis prays for pandemic-stricken India

CNA Staff, May 6, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Thursday that he is praying for the people of India as they face a devastating coronavirus outbreak.

In a dated May 6 to Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, the pope expressed his “heartfelt solidarity” with the country’s 1.3 billion population.

He wrote: “At this time when so many in India are suffering as a result of the present health emergency, I am writing to convey my heartfelt solidarity and spiritual closeness to all the Indian people, together with the assurance of my prayers that God will grant healing and consolation to everyone affected by this grave pandemic.”

“My thoughts go above all to the sick and their families, to those who care for them, and in particular to those who are mourning the loss of their loved ones.”

He continued: “I think too of the many doctors, nurses, hospital workers, ambulance drivers, and those working tirelessly to respond to the immediate needs of their brothers and sisters. With deep appreciation, I invoke upon all of them God’s gifts of perseverance, strength, and peace.”

India reported a daily high of 412,000 new infections on May 5. The country has recorded more than 21 million cases of COVID-19 and over 230,000 deaths as of May 6, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center,

Actual infection and death rates could be higher than those shown in the official statistics, with medical staff at some hospitals reporting shortages of oxygen required to keep patients alive.

The outbreak has had a profound impact on India’s Catholic minority. Local media have reported that at least 14 Catholic priests died of COVID-19 in the country between April 20 and April 23, and five priests died in 24 hours in the western state of Gujarat on April 17.

Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, an auxiliary bishop of Ranchi archdiocese, in Jharkhand state, last week that he had driven priests with COVID-19 to hospital because no ambulances were available.

He held back tears as he described the dire health situation in his eastern diocese in an with Colm Flynn of EWTN News.

“I have seven priests in hospital right now, and those are the lucky ones who found a hospital bed. I have another seven seminarians who are sick, lying in their beds in a house close to the hospital. I took them to a house for the aging because there was no place in the hospital,” Mascarenhas said.

“I lost a priest, 30 years old, just one year of ordination ... five days ago. And it hurts,” the bishop said, recalling that he was with the young priest and “fed him coconut water until the last.”

Catholic aid groups, including Catholic Relief Services and Caritas India, are relief efforts.

Concluding his message to Cardinal Gracias, the pope said: “In a particular way, I am united to the Catholic community in your country, with gratitude for its works of charity and fraternal solidarity carried out in the service of all; I think especially of the generosity shown by so many committed young people.”

“I join you in commending to the Lord’s infinite mercy the faithful who have lost their lives, not least the great numbers of priests and men and women religious.”

“In these days of immense grief, may we all be consoled in the hope born of Easter and our unshakeable faith in Christ’s promise of resurrection and new life.”

Pope Francis sends video message to Argentina for feast of Our Lady of Lujan

Vatican City, May 6, 2021 / 07:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis sent a video message to Argentina Thursday ahead of the feast of Our Lady of Luján.

“I wish to be close to you … when all you bishops will gather to pray the rosary for the health of the Argentine people. I will accompany you from here,” Pope Francis in the published on May 6.

Our Lady of Luján is the patron saint of Argentina. Since 1630, the 14-inch terracotta statue of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception has been venerated by the Argentine people.

When Pope Francis served as the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he used to make frequent pilgrimages to the , where he would also hear confessions, according to Vatican News.

“Remember all that the Virgin has accomplished in your homeland. Let yourselves be accompanied by her, and accompany her in her journey,” the pope said in the message.

The feast of Our Lady of Luján, on May 8, commemorates how the icon first came to the city of Luján in the 17th century.

As a Portuguese ranch owner tried to take the statue from Buenos Aires via caravan to his ranch, the oxen pulling the statue’s cart stopped moving near the Luján river about 42 miles northwest of Buenos Aires.

After much failed coaxing, the ox-driver unloaded the image and found that the oxen moved again. The caravan took this as a sign that the Virgin Mary wanted the statue to be venerated at that place. Our Lady of Luján is now honored as the foundress of the city of Luján.

Many miracles have been attributed to Our Lady of Luján’s intercession. Pope Leo XIII honored the statue in 1886 with a papal coronation. Pope Pius XI declared Our Lady of Luján patroness of Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay in 1930.

On the May 8 feast day, the Basilica of Our Lady of Luján will Pope Francis’ , which is taking place throughout May.

The pope noted that Church leadership in Argentina is also using the feast to convene together to prepare for the celebrations leading up to the 400-year anniversary of the Marian image in 2030.

“It is a very long journey, but one that goes by quickly, one that must be done,” he said. “A journey to commemorate what the Virgin did there, she wanted to stay there. A journey of memory, of years and years of pilgrimage, of searching, of miracles, of daughters and sons who journey to see the mother.”

“May God bless you all and may the Virgin keep you. And please, do not forget to pray for me,” he said.

Pope Francis: Migrants bearing brunt of ‘aggressive’ nationalism and ‘radical individualism’

CNA Staff, May 6, 2021 / 06:10 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Thursday that “aggressive forms of nationalism and radical individualism,” exposed during the pandemic, are having a severe impact on migrants worldwide.

In his for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, issued May 6, he said that the coronavirus crisis had highlighted the deep divisions between human beings.

“Our ‘we,’ both in the wider world and within the Church, is crumbling and cracking due to myopic and aggressive forms of nationalism and radical individualism,” he said.

“And the highest price is being paid by those who most easily become viewed as others: foreigners, migrants, the marginalized, those living on the existential peripheries.”

The World Day of Migrants and Refugees, instituted in 1914 by Pope Pius X, is celebrated annually on the last Sunday in September. This year it falls on .

In his message for the day’s 107th commemoration, entitled “Towards an ever wider ‘we’,” Pope Francis addressed what he called a “twofold appeal,” to Catholics and the wider world, to embrace those on the margins.

He urged Catholics “to make the Church become ever more inclusive.”

“In our day,” he wrote, “the Church is called to go out into the streets of every existential periphery in order to heal wounds and to seek out the straying, without prejudice or fear, without proselytizing, but ready to widen her tent to embrace everyone.”

“Among those dwelling in those existential peripheries, we find many migrants and refugees, displaced persons and victims of trafficking, to whom the Lord wants his love to be manifested and his salvation preached.”

He appealed to those outside the Church to work with Catholics to build “a future of justice and peace.”

“Our societies will have a ‘colorful’ future, enriched by diversity and by cultural exchanges. Consequently, we must even now learn to live together in harmony and peace,” he commented.

He continued: “Today’s migration movements offer an opportunity for us to overcome our fears and let ourselves be enriched by the diversity of each person’s gifts. Then, if we so desire, we can transform borders into privileged places of encounter, where the miracle of an ever wider ‘we’ can come about.”

The pope argued that greater solidarity was also necessary “to ensure the proper care of our common home.”

He said: “Ours must be a personal and collective commitment that cares for all our brothers and sisters who continue to suffer, even as we work towards a more sustainable, balanced and inclusive development.”

“A commitment that makes no distinction between natives and foreigners, between residents and guests, since it is a matter of a treasure we hold in common, from whose care and benefits no one should be excluded.”

In an prepared for a Vatican launching the pope’s message, Cardinal Michael Czerny noted that the text developed themes in the pope’s latest , .

Referring to the pandemic, he said: “We are all suffering in different ways. What happens when the survivors in a lifeboat must all help to row to shore? What if some take more than their share of the rations, leaving others too weak to row? The risk is that everyone will perish, the well-fed and the starving alike.”

Czerny, the under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, added: “Widening the Good Samaritan attitude -- overcoming selfishness and caring for all -- is essential to survival.”

During the press conference, a video campaign for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees was presented, Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso describing the situation on the border between Mexico and the United States.

He said: “I’ve found the most rewarding opportunities of my life serving here at the border. I’ve learned that borders can be vibrant places of encounter and welcome -- encounters that enrich us. I’ve learned that we are all interconnected as one human family. We stand or fall together. We build walls and fences which divide us. Today people of faith need to be bridge builders.”

Speaking via video link, , an auxiliary bishop of the English diocese of Westminster, said that the pope’s message offered encouragement to Catholics in the U.K.

He said: “Pope Francis draws our attention to the interconnectedness of humanity: my decisions and actions here affect others who are far away.”

“Three areas in particular directly affect the human family today. The decision of the United Kingdom to reduce its aid budget compounds the suffering of the world’s poorest. Nations engaging in the arms trade bring endless misery to those in places of conflict. Our contribution to the climate emergency results in droughts, disasters and displacement thousands of miles away. Understanding the reasons for migration must include the acknowledgement that we are not blameless.”

Also speaking via video link, Sarah Teather, director of the , said that in her work she witnessed the lack of solidarity that Pope Francis described in his message.

“Faced with those who fled their homes and sought sanctuary, the asylum system builds walls of suspicion to stop them receiving the protection they need,” she .

“It detains them and enforces destitution. Destitution makes many vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, and they speak of the sense of losing themselves through years struggling at the margins.”

She highlighted the success of a project in which religious congregations and families welcome homeless asylum seekers into their homes.

She said: “Together, they create a counter-culture to the hostile public policies that render people homeless and marginalized.”

“In small, concrete ways, we can all participate in this shared project to recompose a common human family. For there are treasures to be found when we strive together to break down walls that divide us. The dream of one human family is a dream worth realizing.”

Pope Francis closed his World Day of Migrants and Refugees message with an appeal to people to “dream together” of a better future for all humanity.

He concluded with a prayer:

Reform may be coming to the chapter of St. Peter’s Basilica

Vatican City, May 5, 2021 / 20:19 pm (CNA).

That members of the chapter of St. Peter’s Basilica were prevented from participating in Pope Francis' rosary for the end of the pandemic has fueled speculations that the pope will reform both the chapter and the organization of St. Peter's Basilica.

The Chapter of St. Peter was established in 1043 by St. Leo IX. It was intended to guarantee a regular prayer in St. Peter and, in the earlier years, to assist the pope in managing the goods of St. Peter's patrimony.

The patrimony consists of several donations to the papacy, including real estate, in and outside Rome. According to a source who served as a member of the chapter, "it is complicated to give comprehensive figures of the patrimony. Management of an important chunk of it was already transferred to APSA."

The Chapter of St. Peter is chaired by the Archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica and is composed of him, the chapter's vicar, and 34 members. The members are chosen among the most remarkable personalities of the Catholic Church when they retire.

They are "professionals of prayer," according to Benedict XVI, who labeled them as such in 2007 during a private audience with the members of the chapter. The commitment to prayer is central in their activity. Until the middle of the 20th century, the chapter members had to be in the basilica on a daily basis to pray the hours, be in adoration, and serve in the liturgical celebrations.

Members of the chapter are now mainly involved on Sundays and feasts or in the commemoration of the Roman Pontiffs. They also take part in celebrations with the Pope in St. Peter's Basilica.

Some of them went to the Basilica May to participate in the rosary for the end of the pandemic presided by Pope Francis. The Italian newspaper Il Messaggero broke the news that the chapter members were denied access to the basilica.

Il Messaggero also stresses that the "members of the chapter seem to be Pope Francis' target" and adds that the Chapter of St. Peter is "one of those sectors the Pope wants to bring some order to."

According to a chapter source who spoke to CNA under condition of anonymity so as to speak freely, the rejection of the chapter members May 1 is not an indication of papal hostility against their members.

"They (the organizers) simply were not counting with their presence, and so there were no spots for them to sit," the source said.

Due to COVID restrictions, all the spots in the basilica are strictly regulated, and it is then harder to include people who are not on the list or who come unannounced.

But according to the same source, even if the episode was not linked to any perceived papal hostility to the chapter, its reform is underway.

The reform "will mostly deal on the role of the chapter members," the source told CNA, and explained that its members will keep their prayer duties in the basilica, and they will be more involved in liturgical celebrations. Since the Vatican has prohibited private celebrations at the basilica, chapter members will celebrate some of the authorized Masses.

The important changes, instead, will be coming on the financial side. The chapter members got a compensation for their services, funded directly with the revenue of St. Peter's patrimony. For some, this was a way to secure income to retired clerics, for others it was a contemporary form of sinecure. After the 2020 pandemic, Pope Francis cut their monthly salary. The members of the chapter were reimbursed for their service thanks to a solidarity fund set up by St. Peter's Basilica.

Most likely the rest of the real estate and goods belonging to St. Peter's patrimony will be transferred to APSA, which will be designed as a sort of Vatican central bank. At the end of the reform, all the Vatican investments will be centralized and managed by APSA.

The first dicastery transferring its funds to APSA has been the Secretariat of State. The process will also likely involve all the other Vatican dicasteries with their patrimony, such as the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Vatican City State Administration.

The reform of the Chapter of St. Peter will go along with a reform of the organization and schedule of St. Peter’s Basilica. Pope Francis already decided to forbid private Masses. Mauro Cardinal Gambetti, the new archpriest, wants to go further and have only two Masses per day, in Italian, broadcast by the Vatican communications service.

According to the CNA source, "these reforms have generated expected turmoil among the chapter members," but “there is very little, if anything, (we) can do about it.”

Catholic cycling champion who saved Jews during World War II honored in Assisi

Vatican City, May 5, 2021 / 09:10 am (CNA).

A cycling champion and devout Catholic who helped to save more than 800 Jews from Nazi persecution during World War II was remembered in Assisi Wednesday on the 21st anniversary of his death.

Bishop Domenico Sorrentino of Assisi led the of the Marian antiphon “Regina Coeli” at 12pm local time on May 5 in Gino Bartali’s personal chapel, now housed in the , to remember the man declared by Yad Vashem in 2013.

“Bartali was a great witness, [whose example] helps us to become more Christian, more human…” Sorrentino said. Even in the difficulties of the present time, “Bartali gives us a hand, with his example, his courage, and his faith.”

During World War II, Gino Bartali used his position as a famous road cycling champion to support the Italian Resistance and help, with others, to save the lives of more than 800 Italian Jews.

Using cycling training as a cover, Bartali transported photographs and forged documents between Florence and Franciscan convents in the surrounding regions where Jews were hidden. He also carried messages and documents for the Italian Resistance.

Bartali also assisted the Assisi Network, an underground network of Catholic clergy who hid Jews in convents and monasteries during World War II, by taking Jews from the hiding places to the Swiss Alps in a wagon with a secret compartment attached to his bicycle. If he was stopped, he said that the wagon was for training.

The cyclist, who twice won the Tour de France, also personally hid a Jewish family in his cellar, saving their lives, according to one survivor.

His reputation and popularity as Italy’s top cyclist before the war meant that he was mostly left undisturbed by the Fascist police and German troops, who did not want to risk upsetting his large fan base by arresting him.

Nevertheless, he was once taken in for questioning by the Nazi intelligence agency and the Italian RSS, and his life was threatened. Bartali never revealed what he had done. Even after the war, he spoke little about his accomplishments.

The cyclist used to say, “Good is done, but not said. And certain medals hang on the soul, not on the jacket.”

Bartali married in 1940 and was the father of three children. He died in 2000 at the age of 85 after suffering a heart attack following a heart bypass operation. He had received the last rites 10 days prior.

In an obituary for the Guardian newspaper, Tim Hilton wrote: “Bartali was a genuinely religious man, making his devotions public and, in return, becoming the Vatican’s favorite sportsman -- he was personally blessed by three popes.”

“He would set up shrines in his hotel bedrooms when he rode the Giro [d’Italia] and the Tour de France, and, on some mountains, children from summer camps sang canticles as he pedaled past, a priest conducting their infant worship.”

When he was not traveling to compete, Bartali lived in Florence. But he was very attached to the city of Assisi, which is just over 100 miles to the southeast in the region of Umbria.

In 1937, Bartali became a Carmelite Tertiary. He built a private chapel in honor of his brother who had died in a racing accident the year before. The chapel was consecrated by Cardinal Elia Dalla Costa, the archbishop of Florence.

That chapel is now part of Assisi’s Memorial Museum. Bartali’s granddaughter, Gioia Bartali, said that this chapel “has always represented an indelible memory of our family.”

“In 1937, my grandfather Gino took his vows as a Carmelite Tertiary following the untimely death of his beloved brother Giulio, who died in an accident during a cycling race,” she CNA’s Italian-language partner agency ACI Stampa.

“Following that tragic event he decided to stop racing,” she noted, “and it was only thanks to the comfort of his faith and the love of my grandmother Adriana that he decided to get back in the saddle, to win again, thus dedicating his victories to the Virgin Mary.”

She said the chapel was created that year, with a few simple objects placed in a small room in Bartali’s house.

“An altar consecrated to St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, which allowed him to have Mass celebrated [at home], thus managing to practice his faith with devotion and humility,” she said.

Bartali left the chapel to Gioia’s father, Andrea, in his will. At the request of Andrea, Gioia and her sister, Stella, donated the chapel to the bishop of Assisi.

Speaking about Assisi, she said that “no place more than the seraphic city could have celebrated the heroic deeds of a great sportsman and man of faith, who became a protagonist in the dark years of the war, saving hundreds of Jews in total silence and without asking for anything in return.”

Pope Francis confirms ex-management consultant as Vatican’s auditor general

Vatican City, May 5, 2021 / 08:05 am (CNA).

The Vatican announced Wednesday that Pope Francis has confirmed a former management consultant as the Vatican’s auditor general.

The Holy See press office May 5 that the pope had named Alessandro Cassinis Righini, who has served as acting auditor general since June 2017, to the role.

On his publicly accessible LinkedIn page, the auditor general lists the start date of his new position as March 2021.

He succeeds Libero Milone, who served as auditor general from 2015 to 2017.

Milone was dismissed just two years into a five-year mandate after being hired as the Vatican’s first auditor general in a move to introduce more financial transparency in the Vatican City State.

Three months after stepping down, Milone that he was “threatened” into resignation by an “old guard” opposed to his work.

Although he declined to give details due to non-disclosure agreements, he claimed that he had been targeted after launching an investigation into a possible conflict of interest involving an Italian cardinal.

Describing his version of the events that led up to his resignation, Milone said that he was called to the office of Archbishop Giovanni Becciu, then a senior official at the Vatican Secretary of State, on June 19, 2017, and told that the pope had lost faith in him and requested his resignation.

Becciu accused the auditor general of “spying” on the finances of senior officials -- a claim Milone strongly rejected.

Becciu, who received the red hat in 2018, in September 2020 as prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints and from the rights extended to members of the College of Cardinals.

The Vatican’s new auditor general was born in Rome on Dec. 29, 1965. After graduating in economics and commerce from the University of Rome La Sapienza, he gained an MBA from the School of Business Management of Bocconi University in Milan.

Married with three children, he taught strategic management at the University of Rome La Sapienza and at the Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali Guido Carli.

After gaining experience at the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, he worked as a researcher at the Fondazione Centro Studi Investimenti Sociali (Censis).

He then served as a management consultant for Braxton Associates in London and the Deloitte Group.

In March 2016 he was appointed as a deputy auditor, serving under Milone.

In September 2020, as acting auditor general, he a memorandum of understanding with the Vatican’s prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy on the fight against corruption.

The auditor general is responsible for auditing the financial statements of the Holy See and the Vatican City State.

According to the Vatican , the Office of the Auditor General consists of the auditor general, “who directs and represents the office,” and a group of auditors “with solid and proven professional experience,” assisted by support personnel.

It says: “The auditor general is appointed ad quinquennium [for five years] by the Holy Father and chosen among persons of proven reputation, who do not exercise activities that are incompatible with the appointment, who are free from any conflict of interest, and who have recognized professional competence and skills in the relevant areas concerning the work of the Office.”

“The auditor general may be appointed only for two terms.”

Pope Francis to issue apostolic letter on ministry of catechist

Vatican City, May 5, 2021 / 06:20 am (CNA).

Pope Francis will issue an apostolic letter next week on the ministry of catechist.

The Holy See press office May 5 that the papal letter, issued motu proprio (“on his own impulse”), would be presented at a press conference on May 11.

It described the apostolic letter, , as the means “by which the ministry of catechist is instituted.”

The Italian section of the Vatican News website : “The motu proprio therefore will formally establish the ministry of catechist, developing that evangelizing dimension of the laity called for by Vatican II.”

It noted that in a 2018 , Pope Francis said that the vocation of catechist “demands to be recognized as a true and genuine ministry of the Church, which we particularly need.”

Further details will be unveiled at the news conference, which will take place at the Vatican. Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, and Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the Pontifical Council’s delegate for catechesis, will speak at the event.

The Code of Canon Law (Can. 785) catechists as “lay members of the Christian faithful, duly instructed and outstanding in Christian life, who devote themselves to setting forth the teaching of the gospel and to organizing liturgies and works of charity under the direction of a missionary.”

“Catechists are to be formed in schools designated for this purpose or, where such schools are lacking, under the direction of missionaries,” it says.

In his 1990 , Pope John Paul II described catechists as “irreplaceable evangelizers.”

He wrote: “It is with good reason that the older and established churches, committed to a new evangelization, have increased the numbers of their catechists and intensified catechetical activity. But ‘the term “catechists” belongs above all to the catechists in mission lands ... Churches that are flourishing today would not have been built up without them.’”

“Even with the extension of the services rendered by lay people both within and outside the Church, there is always need for the ministry of catechists, a ministry with its own characteristics.”

He continued: “Catechists are specialists, direct witnesses and irreplaceable evangelizers who, as I have often stated and experienced during my missionary journeys, represent the basic strength of Christian communities, especially in the young churches.”

A 1993 , issued by the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, said: “Through religious instruction, preparation for the sacraments, animation of prayer and other works of charity, they help the baptized to grow in the fervor of the Christian life.”

“Where there is a shortage of priests, the catechists are also entrusted with the pastoral guidance of the little community separated from the center. Often, they are called to witness to their faith by harsh trials and painful privations.”

“The history of evangelization past and present attests to their constancy even to the giving of life itself. Catechists are truly the pride of the missionary Church!”

In his 2020 post-synodal , Pope Francis said that there was a need to strengthen lay leadership in the Amazon region.

He wrote: “A Church of Amazonian features requires the stable presence of mature and lay leaders endowed with authority and familiar with the languages, cultures, spiritual experience and communal way of life in the different places, but also open to the multiplicity of gifts that the Holy Spirit bestows on every one. For wherever there is a particular need, he has already poured out the charisms that can meet it.”

“This requires the Church to be open to the Spirit’s boldness, to trust in, and concretely to permit, the growth of a specific ecclesial culture that is distinctively lay. The challenges in the Amazon region demand of the Church a special effort to be present at every level, and this can only be possible through the vigorous, broad and active involvement of the laity.”

In January this year, the pope a , , changing canon law to allow women to serve as lectors and acolytes.

Lector and acolyte are publicly recognized ministries instituted by the Church. The roles were once considered “minor orders” in the tradition of the Church and were changed to ministries by Pope Paul VI.

Pope Francis: The contemplative dimension of being human gives life flavor

Vatican City, May 5, 2021 / 04:35 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Wednesday encouraged people to embrace the contemplative dimension of being human both in prayer and their daily lives.

In his general audience on May 5, the pope said that the “contemplative dimension of the human being -- which is not yet contemplative prayer -- is a bit like the ‘salt’ of life: it gives flavor, it seasons our day.”

“We can contemplate by gazing at the sun that rises in the morning, or at the trees that deck themselves out in spring green; we can contemplate by listening to music or to the sounds of the birds, reading a book, gazing at a work of art or at that masterpiece that is the human face,” he said.

The pope said that for those who live in a big city, where everything tends to be “artificial and functional,” there can be the risk of “losing the capacity to contemplate.”

Pope Francis recommended contemplative prayer, “the ‘breath’ of our relationship with God,” which he said “sharpens our gaze” and “purifies the heart.”

“Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus,” he said, quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

He recounted the story of a peasant in Ars, France, who told St. John Vianney while praying before the tabernacle: “I look at him and he looks at me.”

“The light of the countenance of Jesus illumines the eyes of our heart and teaches us to see everything in the light of his truth and his compassion for all men,” he said.

“Everything comes from this: from a heart that feels that it is looked on with love. Then reality is contemplated with different eyes. ‘I look at Him and He looks at me.’ It is like this: loving contemplation, typical of the most intimate prayer, does not need many words.”

The pope stressed that in the Gospel there is “no opposition between contemplation and action.”

Jesus “never lacked the time, space, silence, the loving communion that allows one’s existence not to be devastated by the inevitable trials, but to maintain beauty intact,” he said. “His secret was his relationship with his heavenly Father.”

Pope Francis spoke from the library of the Apostolic Palace due to coronavirus restrictions. The speech was the 32nd reflection in his cycle of catechesis on prayer, which he launched in May 2020 and resumed in October following nine addresses on healing the world after the pandemic.

At the end of his audience, the pope reminded Catholics to pray the rosary throughout May. He mentioned that this month around the world are hosting daily rosaries prayed for the intention of an end to the coronavirus pandemic and the resumption of work and social activities.

“There is only one great call in the Gospel, and it is that of following Jesus on the way of love. This is the pinnacle and center of everything,” Pope Francis said.

“In this sense, charity and contemplation are synonymous, they say the same thing. St. John of the Cross believed that a small act of pure love is more useful to the Church than all the other works combined.”

“What is born of prayer and not from the presumption of our ego, what is purified by humility, even if it is a hidden and silent act of love, is the greatest miracle that a Christian can accomplish. And this is the path of contemplative prayer: ‘I look at him, he looks at me.’ This act of love in silent dialogue with Jesus does so much good for the Church.”

Pope Francis’ prayer intention for May is for the regulation of financial markets

Vatican City, May 4, 2021 / 08:46 am (CNA).

Pope Francis is asking Catholics to pray throughout May for the regulation of financial markets to “protect citizens from its dangers.”

“How far is the world of big finance from most people’s lives. Finance, if not regulated, becomes pure speculation animated by monetary policies. This situation is unsustainable. It’s dangerous,” Pope Francis said in a video message released May 4.

“To prevent the poor from paying the consequences again, financial speculation must be strictly regulated.”

The Vatican released a to present the pope’s prayer intention for May.

The pope is asking Catholics to pray “that those responsible for finance will collaborate with governments to regulate financial markets and protect citizens from its dangers.”

Each month, the produces a video to spread the pope’s prayer intention. In 2021, these intentions have ranged from prayer for women who are victims of violence to prayer that more people will return to the sacrament of confession.

Fr. Frédéric Fornos, S.J., president of the network, said that “this prayer intention must be understood in the context of the crisis we’re living through, which has made evident the great inequality there is in the world.”

In 2020, global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) recorded its largest drop since the end of World War II, with millions of job losses as a result of restrictions imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The pope said it again recently,” Fornos said. “We cannot be content with ‘a return to an unequal and unsustainable model of economic and social life, where a tiny minority of the world’s population owns half of its wealth.’”

In this month’s video, Pope Francis stressed that “finance is a tool” to be put at the service of people and to “take care of our common home.”

He said: “We still have time to start a process of global change to put into practice a different, more just, inclusive, sustainable economy that leaves no one behind. Let’s do it.”

Pope Francis to preside at Mass for Rome’s Burmese community

Vatican City, May 3, 2021 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis will preside at a Mass for Rome’s Burmese community on May 16, as the death toll continues to rise following February’s military coup in Burma.

The Holy See press office announced May 3 that the pope will celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica for Burmese Catholics living in the Italian capital. The Mass will take place at the Altar of the Cathedra at 10 a.m. local time on the Solemnity of the Ascension.

The announcement came a day after Pope Francis once again about the Southeast Asian country, officially known as Myanmar, where security forces have fired on people protesting against the Feb. 1 coup.

The advocacy group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners estimates that have died in the crackdown.

Speaking after the Regina Coeli on May 2, the pope : “We have entered the month of May, in which popular piety expresses devotion to the Virgin Mary in many ways. This year it will be marked by a prayer marathon involving important Marian shrines, to implore the end of the pandemic. Yesterday evening was the first stop, in St. Peter’s Basilica.”

“In this context, there is an initiative that is very close to my heart: that of the Burmese Church, which invites us to pray for peace with a Hail Mary for Myanmar in our daily rosary. Each of us turns to our Mother when we are in need or in difficulty; this month, we ask our Mother of Heaven to speak to the hearts of all leaders in Myanmar so that they may find the courage to walk the path of encounter, reconciliation, and peace.”

Pope Francis has repeatedly called for harmony in the country, which has a population of 54 million people and borders Bangladesh, India, China, Laos, and Thailand. He became the first pope to visit the Buddhist majority nation in November 2017.

At his general audience on March 17, the pope to an circulating on social media of a Catholic nun in Burma kneeling before police, begging them not to attack protesters.

He said: “I also kneel in the streets of Myanmar and say: ‘Stop the violence.’ I too stretch out my arms and say: ‘May dialogue prevail.’”

The pope made an to the international community on March 3 to “ensure that the aspirations of the people of Myanmar are not stifled by violence.”

In a to diplomats accredited to the Holy See in early February, he expressed his wish that “the path towards democracy taken in recent years by Myanmar may be resumed through the concrete gesture of the release of the various political leaders imprisoned.”

Polish Catholic shrine leads global prayer marathon for end of pandemic

CNA Staff, May 3, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

The Polish Catholic shrine of Jasna Góra led a global rosary marathon Monday for an end to the coronavirus pandemic.

The in Częstochowa, southern Poland, is the third of worldwide chosen to lead the rosary during the month-long initiative launched by Pope Francis.

Fr. Samuel Pacholski, prior of Jasna Góra Monastery, which houses the revered icon of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, said: “We feel honored and privileged to take part in this prayer marathon.”

The pope the prayer marathon on May 1, the start of the traditional month of Mary, when he the rosary in St. Peter’s Basilica. The initiative will end on May 31 in the Vatican Gardens.

The first shrine to lead the event was in England on May 1, followed by the shrine of in Elele, Nigeria, on May 2.

The rosary took place at Jasna Góra at 6 p.m. local time and was . The Joyful Mysteries were recited in five languages.

The event fell on a significant day for Polish Catholics. May 3 marks the Feast of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Queen of Poland, as well as Constitution Day, a national holiday.

Poles have venerated Mary as Queen of Poland since King John II Casimir proclaimed her “Queen of the Polish Crown” in 1656. The May 3 feast was established at the request of the Polish bishops after the country regained its independence following the First World War.

Constitution Day commemorates the adoption of the Polish Constitution of May 3, 1791.

In addition to the prayer marathon, the shrine also hosted a of the permanent council of the Polish bishops’ conference on May 3. Bishops’ conference president Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki at a Mass at the shrine marking the Marian feast day.

The Pauline Fathers, who founded Jasna Góra Monastery in 1382 and serve as guardians of the icon of Our Madonna of Częstochowa, prepared a candle for the prayer marathon.

The size of a Paschal candle, it is decorated with papal insignia, the image of Our Lady, and a photograph of the shrine.

“We are responding eagerly to this papal prayer initiative. Throughout May we will continue praying the rosary, imploring the end of the pandemic,” said Fr. Pacholski.

Pope Francis presides at consistory for canonization of blesseds

CNA Staff, May 3, 2021 / 09:05 am (CNA).

Pope Francis presided Monday at a consistory for the canonization of seven blesseds.

The Ordinary Public Consistory took place at 10 a.m. local time May 3 in the Consistory Hall of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican with cardinals currently resident in or visiting Rome.

The gathering opened with the praying of Terce, or mid-morning prayer, from the Liturgy of the Hours.

Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, then presented summaries of the lives of the to the pope and the cardinals.

The cardinals voted to approve the canonizations.

The vote is the last step in the process and allows a date to be set for a Mass of canonization.

In a break with custom, the Vatican did not announce the date or location of the canonizations on Monday. It did not give a reason for the omission, but it is likely due to the difficulty of organizing events amid the pandemic.

Vatican News that the seven candidates would be “raised to the altars in the coming weeks and months, according to a schedule to be set at a later time.”

The most prominent figure among the seven is Charles de Foucauld, the French missionary killed in Algeria in 1916. He was a soldier, explorer, Catholic revert, priest, hermit, and religious brother, who served among the Tuareg people in the Sahara desert in Algeria.

Pope Francis his canonization cause in May 2020.

The consistory also voted on the canonization of Devasahayam Pillai, a layman from India who was martyred after converting from Hinduism to Catholicism in the 18th century.

Pillai, who is also known by his baptismal name of Lazarus, was beatified in 2012 in southern India. He will be the first lay Catholic in India to be declared a saint.

Other canonization causes voted on were those of Bl. Maria Francesca of Jesus (née Anna Maria Rubatto), foundress of the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters of Loano, and Bl. Maria Domenica Mantovani, co-foundress and first general superior of the Institute of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family.

The cardinals also voted on the canonizations of three priests who founded religious congregations and institutes: Bl. César de Bus, Bl. Luigi Maria Palazzolo, and Bl. Giustino Maria Russolillo.

The College of Cardinals is divided into three ranks: cardinal bishops, cardinal priests, and cardinal deacons.

Ten years after receiving the red hat, cardinal deacons can ask the pope to elevate them to a cardinal priest and to opt for a titular church. This practice is known in Latin as “Optatio.”

The Holy See press office that at Monday’s consistory eight cardinals were elevated from cardinal deacons to cardinal priests: Angelo Amato (Santa Maria in Aquiro); Robert Sarah (San Giovanni Bosco in Via Tuscolana); Francesco Monterisi (San Paolo alla Regola); Raymond Leo Burke (Sant’Agata de’ Goti); Kurt Koch (Nostra Signora del S. Cuore); Mauro Piacenza (San Paolo alle Tre Fontane); Gianfranco Ravasi (San Giorgio in Velabro); and Walter Brandmüller (San Giuliano dei Fiamminghi).

Pope Francis to open event on Italy’s demographic decline

Vatican City, May 3, 2021 / 07:00 am (CNA).

The Vatican announced Monday that Pope Francis will open an event on Italy’s demographic winter as the country’s birth rate has hit a historic low.

Pope Francis will give the opening remarks for the initiative on May 14 at the , just outside the walls of Vatican City State.

The mostly online meetings organized by the seek to address the 50 years of steady decline in births across Europe, and especially in Italy, and what can be done to reverse it.

Italy’s national statistics institute predicts that the country will see a significant decline in births in the years immediately following the coronavirus pandemic.

In 2019, births in Italy already hit a historic low since Italian unification in 1861.

Pope Francis has described this as the dramatic result of a “disregard for families.” Europe’s low birth rate “is a sign of societies that struggle to face the challenges of the present, and thus become ever more fearful of the future, with the result that they close in on themselves,” the pope said in 2018.

That year, Italy’s birth rate was 1.29 children per woman -- just ahead of Malta and Spain’s rates of 1.23 and 1.26 respectively for the lowest rate in Europe.

The General States of Birth initiative will feature Italian government ministers, company executives, journalists, actors, and athletes who will give talks on the family, including Elena Bonetti, Italy’s family minister.

Gian Carlo Blangiardo, the president of Italy’s national statistics institute , will also present previously unpublished data and projections on the country’s birth rate in the coming decades.

Nations across Europe and East Asia have faced low birth rates for decades. South Korea, Japan, Italy, Spain, Greece, Puerto Rico, Ukraine, and Portugal were among the countries with the lowest birth rates in 2019, according to the World Bank.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported that the U.S. birth rate hit a record low in 2019, and real-time data from certain states shows that the national figure may have fallen even further in 2020.

Pope Francis called in February for “a new springtime” to end Italy’s demographic winter.

“Our society must be helped to heal from all attacks on life, so that it may be protected in all of its stages,” the pope in an Angelus address Feb. 7, 2021.

“And allow me to add one of my concerns: the Italian demographic winter. In Italy, births have decreased and the future is in danger. Let us take up this concern and seek to ensure that this demographic winter ends and a new springtime of boys and girls thrives.”

Pope Francis: 'A truly Christian life bears witness to Christ'

Vatican City, May 2, 2021 / 05:30 am (CNA).

It is our task as Christians to proclaim the good news of the Gospel and to bear the good fruit of love in the world, Pope Francis said at his Regina caeli address on Sunday.

"The fruit that, like the branches, we must give, bears witness to our Christian life," the pope said May 2.

"After Jesus ascended to the Father, it is the task of the disciples – it is our task – to continue to proclaim the Gospel in words and in deeds," he added. "And they and us, disciples of Jesus, do so by bearing witness to his love: the fruit to be borne is love."

Francis gave his weekly Sunday reflection from a window overlooking St. Peter's Square. Afterward, he led the recitation of the Regina caeli, a Marian prayer said during the Easter season.

The pope explained the importance of being attached to Christ, the vine, so that "we receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and in this way we can do good to our neighbor and do good to society, to the Church."

"We recognize the tree by its fruits," he stated. "A truly Christian life bears witness to Christ."

Pope Francis' meditation centered on from St. John, in which Jesus tells his disciples "I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing."

"The Lord presents himself as the true vine, and speaks of us as the branches that cannot live without being united to him," the pope said, noting that Jesus used the verb "to abide," also sometimes translated as "to remain," seven times in the Gospel reading.

Francis said to abide or remain in Jesus is not a passive activity, "letting oneself be lulled by life," but an active and reciprocal action: "We abide in Jesus and Jesus abides in us."

"How can we do this?" he said. "Jesus says to us: 'If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.'"

"The fruitfulness of our life depends on prayer," he stated, explaining that in prayer we can ask Jesus for the gift of seeing the world with his eyes.

This way, he said, we can "love our brothers and sisters, starting from the poorest and those who suffer the most, as he did, and to love them with his heart and to bring to the world fruits of goodness, fruits of charity, and fruits of peace."

Pope Francis explained that first of all, we need the Lord. Before we can follow God's commandments, before we can live the beatitudes, and perform works of mercy, "it is necessary to be joined to him, to abide in him."

"We cannot be good Christians if we do not abide in Jesus. And yet with him, we can do everything," he underlined. "With him we can do everything."

"Let us entrust ourselves to the intercession of the Virgin Mary," he concluded. "She remained fully united to Jesus and bore much fruit. May she help us abide in Christ, in his love, in his word, to bear witness in the world to the Risen Lord."

At the end of the Regina caeli, Pope Francis sent his good wishes to Christians of the Orthodox Church and Eastern and Latin Catholic Churches, who celebrate Easter according to the Julian calendar, which falls this year on May 2.

"May the risen Lord fill them with light and peace, and comfort the communities living in particularly difficult situations. Happy Easter to them!" he said.

The pope also referenced the ongoing situation in Burma, where security forces have opened fire on people protesting the military coup, resulting in injuries and deaths.

He said the Church in Burma is encouraging everyone to devote one Hail Mary of their daily rosary during the month of May for peace in Burma.

"Each of us turns to our mother when he or she is in need or in difficulty," he said. "We, this month, ask our Heavenly Mother to speak to the hearts of all those responsible in Myanmar, so that they may find the courage to walk the path of encounter, reconciliation and peace."

Pope Francis also expressed his closeness to the people of Israel, where crowds at a Jewish religious festival on Mount Maron led to a crush of people resulting in 45 deaths and some 150 injuries the night of April 29 to April 30.

"I assure my remembrance in prayer for the victims of this tragedy and their families," he said.

Francis also mentioned the example of Bl. José Gregorio Hernández Cisneros, on April 30.

"He was a doctor, rich in science and faith. He was able to recognize the face of Christ in the sick and, as a good Samaritan, he helped them with evangelical charity. May his example help us to take care of those who suffer in body and spirit," he said, encouraging a round of applause for the new blessed.

'Hope for the future': Pope Francis asks Mary to intercede for end to pandemic

Vatican City, May 1, 2021 / 11:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis prayed a rosary Saturday for an end to the coronavirus pandemic, imploring the Virgin Mary to intercede for healing for the sick, comfort for the grieving, and hope for the future.

"Mother of Help, welcome us under your mantle and protect us, sustain us in the hour of trial, and ignite in our hearts the light of hope for the future," Pope Francis prayed May 1.

"At the beginning of the month dedicated to Our Lady, we unite in prayer with all of the shrines scattered throughout the world, with the faithful, and with all people of good will," he said, "to entrust in the hands of our Holy Mother all of humanity, strongly tried in this period of pandemic."

"In the present dramatic situation, full of sufferings and anxieties that grip the whole world, we turn to You, Mother of God and our Mother, and we seek refuge under your protection."

Around 160 people, including many families with young children, attended the pope's rosary, which was broadcast live from the Gregorian Chapel of St. Peter's Basilica.

The Gregorian Chapel contains the relics of St. Gregory of Nazianzus, a Doctor of the Church, as well as a 7th-century icon of Our Lady of Help.

The chapel altar under the icon was decorated with flowers for the rosary May 1, which kicked off a month of daily rosaries prayed at Catholic shrines around the world for the intention of an end to the coronavirus pandemic and the resumption of work and social activities.

Young adults and families led the Glorious Mysteries of the rosary and read the meditations, based on scripture passages.

At the end of the rosary, Pope Francis asked the Virgin Mary to turn her "merciful eyes to us in this coronavirus pandemic, and comfort those who are lost and weeping for their dead loved ones, sometimes buried in a way that wounds the soul."

"Support those who are anxious about sick people who, to prevent contagion, cannot be near," he said. "Instill confidence in those who are anxious about the uncertain future and the consequences on the economy and work."

The pope prayed for protection for healthcare workers and for priests. He prayed that scientists will find solutions to overcome the virus, and that national leaders will "work with wisdom, concern and generosity, helping those who lack the necessities to live, planning social and economic solutions with farsightedness and a spirit of solidarity."

Francis also prayed for women who have experienced domestic violence under the forced closures and all those who have been affected by the virus and by its consequences.

"Oh Mary, Comforter of the afflicted, embrace all your troubled children and obtain that God intervenes with his almighty hand to free us from this terrible epidemic, so that life can resume its normal course in serenity," he said.

"We entrust ourselves to you, who shines on our path as a sign of salvation and hope, oh merciful, oh pious, oh sweet Virgin Mary," he prayed. "Lead the steps of your pilgrims, who wish to pray and love you in the shrines dedicated to you all over the world, under the most varied titles that recall your intercession; be a sure guide for each one. Amen."

After the prayer, Pope Francis blessed rosaries to be sent to the 30 Marian shrines participating in the daily live-streamed prayers.

Vatican adds seven invocations to Litany of St. Joseph

Vatican City, May 1, 2021 / 07:50 am (CNA).

The Vatican's divine worship office announced Saturday the addition of seven new invocations to the Litany of St. Joseph.

The seven invocations, in Latin, are Custos Redemptoris, Serve Christi, Minister salutis, Fulcimen in difficultatibus, Patrone exsulum, Patrone afflictorum, and Patrone pauperum.

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments wrote a letter to the presidents of bishops' conferences May 1, the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, explaining the inclusion of the new invocations.

"On the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of Saint Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, published the Apostolic Letter , with the aim 'to increase our love for this great saint, to encourage us to implore his intercession and to imitate his virtues and his zeal,'" the congregation said.

"In this light," it added, "it appeared opportune to update the Litany in honor of Saint Joseph, approved by the Apostolic See in 1909, by integrating seven new invocations drawn from the interventions of the Popes who have reflected on aspects of the figure of the Patron of the Universal Church."

The additions to the Litany of St. Joseph were approved by Pope Francis.

The bishops' conferences will be responsible for the translation and publication of the updated litany in their local languages, the divine worship congregation stated. Bishops' conferences can also, according to their own prudential judgement, introduce other invocations by which St. Joseph is honored in their countries.

A litany is a type of repetitive, petitionary prayer, often invoking the intercession of the saints or the Virgin Mary under different titles approved by the Church.

The new invocations of St. Joseph can be translated in English as Guardian of the Redeemer, Servant of Christ, Minister of Salvation, Support in Difficulties, Patron of Refugees, Patron of the Afflicted, and Patron of the Poor.

Pope Francis to Catholic associations: ‘The Lord counts on your boldness’

Vatican City, Apr 30, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis said Friday that Catholic organizations must beware of “the trap of organizational charts” and prioritize docility to the Holy Spirit.

“We must be very careful not to fall for the illusion of functionalism. The programming, the organizational charts serve, but as a starting point, as an inspiration. What brings forth the Kingdom of God is docility to the Holy Spirit … the freedom of the Gospel,” Pope Francis the leaders of Catholic Action on April 30.

“It is sad to see how many organizations have fallen for the trap of organizational charts: all perfect, all perfect institutions, all the necessary money, all perfect... But tell me: where is the faith? Where is the Spirit?”

Pope Francis met with the national council of at the Vatican on the occasion of its national assembly, taking place online from April 25 to May 2.

“The pandemic has left many projects up in the air. It has asked everyone to deal with the unexpected. Welcoming the unexpected … means remaining docile to the Spirit,” the pope said.

“Docility to the Spirit is revolutionary because Jesus Christ is revolutionary, because the Incarnation is revolutionary, because the Resurrection is revolutionary,” he added.

The pope said that the lay people of Catholic Action could help the Church and all of society “rethink together what kind of humanity we want to be, what land we want to inhabit, what world we want to build.”

“I entrust to you those who have been most affected by the pandemic and those who risk paying the highest price: the little ones, the young, the elderly, those who have experienced fragility and loneliness,” he said.

The pope also met with representatives of the on April 30. The charismatic Catholic community, founded by Jesuit Fr. Laurent Fabre in 1973, is known for hosting retreats for married couples and young people.

“I invite you to remain firm in your convictions and in your faith. Never forget that Christ is alive and that he calls you to walk courageously after him. With him, be that flame that revives hope in the hearts of so many young people who are discouraged, sad, and without prospects,” Pope Francis .

“May you generate bonds of friendship, of fraternal sharing, for a better world. The Lord counts on your boldness, your courage, and your enthusiasm.”

Is the Vatican’s new judicial activism good for the Holy See?

Vatican City, Apr 30, 2021 / 08:00 am (CNA).

Experts attending the Moneyval plenary assembly in Strasbourg, France, this week a highly anticipated report on the Holy See.

Moneyval, the committee of the Council of Europe which assesses countries’ compliance with international financial transparency standards, is expected to publish its report in the coming weeks.

The Vatican judicial system prepared for Moneyval’s evaluation with reform and seemingly never-ending investigations over a Secretariat of State investment in London that have not led to any prosecutions.

The reform is about new measures, provisions, and treatment for Vatican tribunal officials. But it also in practice shuts down the appeal court of the Vatican City State -- a significant change in the way cases are handled.

The investigations concern the Secretariat of State’s purchase of a luxury property in London in 2018. This became the focus of scrutiny after a report by the Institute for the Works of Religion (also known as the IOR or “Vatican bank”).

Following a probe, six Vatican officials were suspended. Five of them were not renewed in their positions. But a year and a half later, the investigation is continuing and no prosecutions have been announced.

These two knots -- the effectiveness of reforms and of investigations -- will be crucial for Moneyval’s evaluation of the Holy See/Vatican City State.

The Holy See joined Moneyval’s evaluation rounds in 2011. Since then, Moneyval has issued one and three on the Holy See’s financial system and juridical framework.

The next progress report will scrutinize the effectiveness of the Vatican judicial system.

The question is whether the office of the Vatican prosecutor has adopted Moneyval’s previous recommendations -- and if so, how.

In 2016, the Vatican tribunal established a special section against economic and financial crimes. Up to 2018, the Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Authority disseminated 27 reports in six years for alleged money laundering to the Vatican prosecutor. Nine of the cases were dismissed and six others were under the motion of dismissal.

At the inauguration of the Vatican judicial year in 2019, the Vatican prosecutor Gian Piero Milano said that the Financial Intelligence Authority had issued six reports, while two of the previous reports were dismissed.

In its most recent , in 2017, Moneyval noted that “the overall effectiveness of the Holy See’s engagement with combating money laundering depends on the results that are achieved by the prosecution and the courts.” It also stressed that “the results on the law enforcement/prosecutorial/judicial side two years after the last review remain modest.”

The Vatican City State tribunal has shown notable activism in the last year and a half. In the end, the tribunal took the lead in the operations, according to a process that some internal observers have described as a “Vaticanization of the Holy See.”

To understand this better, let’s look at the London property issue.

The investment was signed, entrusted to brokers, and finally “restructured” because the signed agreements did not fully protect the Holy See. It was necessary to cut out the intermediaries, pay them the amount stipulated in the contract, and ask for liquidity from the IOR to refinance the investment. The IOR at first said yes. Then it backtracked, issued a complaint, and the pope authorized the Vatican’s promoter of justice to proceed summarily.

All this led to the suspension of six Vatican officials. Five of them were exposed to the public with the publication of a note from the Gendarmerie, which ended up in the newspapers. The officials’ houses were also searched, and one wonders whether everything took place in agreement with the Italian authorities.

In short, it is the Vatican City State judges who have taken command of the operations, establishing an unprecedented leadership of the state.

The state serves to sustain the Holy See. Yet the Vatican City State is an absolute monarchy where the pope decides and establishes what he wants. But the Holy See is an international entity that signs treaties and conventions on human rights and justice, which finds its credibility eroded by this new judicial activism.

This is the Vaticanization of the Holy See, carried forward in an Italian way. The Vatican tribunal is chaired by a retired Italian prosecutor, Giuseppe Pignatone. There are two promoters of justice (Alessandro Diddi and Roberto Zannotti) and one promoter of applied justice (Gianluca Perone) who serve as lawyers in Italy.

Yet Vatican magistrates recently have run into difficulties with their colleagues on the Italian side.

One case concerned the extradition request for Cecilia Marogna, nicknamed “the lady” of Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who is accused of misusing money from the Secretariat of State, where the cardinal used to work.

She was arrested in Italy and spent two weeks in prison. Italy’s Supreme Court later annulled the provision.

Then there was the search of the house of Fabrizio Tirabassi, one of the suspended Vatican officials. A Rome court later that the search warrant was “void” because it was an “informal” warrant, with “evident and substantial illegitimacy profiles, starting with the fact that the search order was ordered directly by the public prosecutor without going through the scrutiny of a judge.”

These words call into question the Vatican juridical system itself. The pope is a supreme judge who can instruct, make, and undo the processes.

An English judge has thought of this. Revoking the provision that had frozen the funds of Gianluigi Torzi, one of the intermediaries in the London property deal, the English judge Tony Baumgartner the work of Vatican prosecutors, arguing that their reconstruction of the facts was subject to mischaracterization or misinterpretation.

This situation all started in June 2020 with Torzi’s at the Vatican, where he had gone to answer questions from the Vatican police. Raffaele Mincione, an Italian citizen and the other broker involved in the London investment, was taken from a hotel and held in custody in Italy. He filed two lawsuits against the Holy See.

In three cases then -- Marogna, Tirabassi, and Torzi -- the Holy See’s requests have been overturned because of procedural defects.

This raises a series of questions that will undoubtedly catch Moneyval’s attention.

First: can a Vatican court be made up of part-time judges? They are experts, but certainly not in everything. Until now, the fact that the judges were part-time was justified by the small number of trials. But nowadays, everything has changed. Financial reform has brought new specializations and projected the Vatican system into the European system. Are part-time judges able to lead complex investigations such as those on the London property?

It is not even necessary that the judges be Italian. Knowledge of the Vatican legal system -- which is not a copy of the Italian code but comes from a legal code of 1899 -- and fluency in Italian would be enough. Judges from outside Italy could internationalize the Vatican system.

But Pope Francis has seemingly chosen the path of maintaining preferential relationships with Italy.

The second question: is this judicial activism good for the Holy See? The Holy See, in effect, sees its credibility undermined by a judicial system that does not understand the institutional consequences of its actions. The searches at the Financial Intelligence Authority and the Vatican Secretariat of State not only had a questionable justification; they also aroused the concern of international organizations.

In November 2019, the Egmont Group, which brings together financial intelligence units worldwide, decided unanimously to suspend the Holy See from the safe circuit of suspicious transaction reports. The Holy See then to the closed Egmont circuit in January 2020 after signing a memorandum of understanding with the Vatican tribunal. If there was a need for a memorandum of understanding, there was clearly a need for guarantees.

The Vatican’s anti-corruption commitment thus also shows limits and generates doubts about how justice is administered.

Alongside the topic of investigations and trials, there are recent judicial reforms that must also be considered.

One of the issues is that Vatican magistrates come out strengthened by the reforms. This can be seen through a symbolic detail of the revised law: that even after retirement, the judges will keep “all rights, assistance, welfare, and guarantees provided for citizens.” They have also been given extensive autonomy in investigating and condemning.

The reform also jeopardizes the appeal system. In February this year, Pope Francis a promoter of justice for the Vatican Court of Appeal, the Italian magistrate Catia Summaria, to fill a post vacant since 2020. At the same time, two other judges were also appointed to the Court of Appeal.

But just three days after this announcement, Pope Francis a motu proprio bearing “changes in matters of justice,” which, in fact, significantly reduced the role of the Court of Appeal. Indeed, in practice, it seemed to eliminate the role of the promoter of justice.

How? Consider the pope’s changes and compare them to the original version of the CCCLI law (351), the new judicial system promulgated by the pope on March 16, 2016.

In the original law issued in 2016, paragraph 351 stated that “the office of the promoter of justice carries out the functions of the public prosecutor and the others assigned to it by law in autonomy and independence.”

The new text specifies that “the office of the promoter of justice exercises autonomously and independently, in the three levels of trial, the functions of the public prosecutor and others assigned to it by law.”

The law also says: “In appeals, the functions of public prosecutor are exercised by a magistrate of the office of the promoter of justice, designated pursuant to Article 13, paragraph 1.”

In short, there is no mention of the promoter of justice of the Court of Appeal, but only of a single promoter of justice.

These are issues that will not go unnoticed. In its report, Moneyval may highlight the need for full-time and professional judges and will likely once again notice a disparity between reports of suspicious transactions and prosecutions.

Moneyval will at least acknowledge that there is a will to change things. However, the reform and the trials are not good advertisements for the Vatican judicial system.

Pope Francis changes law to allow Vatican City court to judge cardinals, bishops

Vatican City, Apr 30, 2021 / 07:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Friday amended part of a law issued last year regulating Vatican City’s judicial system, now allowing the court of first instance to rule on criminal trials of bishops and cardinals.

The law previously said that cardinals and bishops could only be judged by the final court of cassation for the civil judicial system, which is the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

The prior law meant that criminal trials of cardinals and bishops were judged by other cardinals. With the April 30 update, Vatican City judges -- typically lay people -- will be competent to rule on the cases.

The amendments were issued by Pope Francis in an “amending the jurisdiction of the judicial bodies of Vatican City State,” issued motu proprio (“on his own impulse”).

In the preamble, the pope referenced , the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, which that “there is true equality among all with regard to the dignity and action common to all the faithful in building the Body of Christ.”

He also quoted , Vatican II’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, which that “all men have the same nature and the same origin; all, redeemed by Christ, enjoy the same vocation and the same divine destiny; it is therefore necessary to recognize more and more the fundamental equality of all.”

“The awareness of these values ​​and principles, which has progressively matured in the ecclesial community, today calls for an ever more adequate compliance with them even in the Vatican system,” Francis said.

In the update, Pope Francis repealed article 24 of a issued on March 16, 2020, which declared that “the court of cassation is the only competent to judge, with consent of the Supreme Pontiff, the Most Eminent Cardinals and the Most Excellent Bishops in criminal cases.”

In the 2020 norms, , the pope grounded Vatican City civil law in the Church’s canonical legal system, making the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the curia’s highest canonical appeals court, the final court of cassation for the civil judicial system.

The court of cassation consists of the cardinal prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, currently Cardinal Dominique Mamberti, plus two cardinal members of the signatura and two or more judges appointed for three-year terms.

The court of cassation is usually ruled by a bench of cardinal judges but can include other judges if circumstances require.

In the April 30 amendment, Pope Francis added a paragraph to article 6 of the 2020 law, stating that “in cases involving the Most Eminent Cardinals and the Most Excellent Bishops ... the tribunal [court of first instance] shall judge with the consent of the Supreme Pontiff.”

The amendment makes note of the exception to this rule contained in of the Code of Canon Law, which says that only the pope can judge cardinals and bishops in penal cases regarding spiritual matters or a violation of Church law involving sin and the imposition of ecclesial penalties.

Pope Francis appoints new bishop of President Biden’s home diocese

Vatican City, Apr 30, 2021 / 06:15 am (CNA).

Pope Francis appointed Friday a new bishop of Wilmington, the home diocese of President Joe Biden.

The pope Msgr. William Koenig to lead the Diocese of Wilmington, which covers the state of Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland, upon the retirement of Bishop William Francis Malooly at the age of 77.

Bishop-elect Koenig, 64, is a priest of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, where he served as the vicar of clergy after more than 10 years as rector of St. Agnes Cathedral. His episcopal ordination is scheduled for July 13 at St. Elizabeth Church in Wilmington.

“I express my deep gratitude for the trust placed in me by His Holiness, Pope Francis in appointing me the 10th Bishop of Wilmington, Delaware,” Koenig said.

“I am especially grateful for my family who, when I was still an infant, presented me for Baptism and nurtured the new Life of the Risen Christ that came about through this Sacrament.”

“I am grateful for the priests, religious and lay faithful of the Diocese of Rockville Centre whose faith-filled example has enabled me to say ‘yes’ to God’s calling to be a priest and now a bishop.”

The pope also appointed a new bishop of Colorado Springs, a diocese that spans 10 central and eastern counties of Colorado. Fr. James Golka, of the Diocese of Grand Island, Nebraska, will succeed Bishop Michael J. Sheridan, 76.

Golka, 54, is currently the vicar general and rector of Grand Island’s Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, announced both appointments on April 30.

Bishop Malooly, who has been Biden’s home bishop since 2008, will introduce bishop-elect Koenig at a press conference at 10:30 a.m. local time.

Born in Queens in 1956, Koenig attended Catholic schools and Cathedral College in New York before entering seminary at the age of 23.

He earned a Master of Divinity degree from the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, New York, in 1983 and later a master’s degree in social work from Fordham University. He was ordained to the priesthood at the age of 26 on May 14, 1983.

He served at the parishes of St. Edward the Confessor and St. James parish before becoming director of vocations for the Diocese of Rockville Centre from 1989 to 1996.

Koenig was the pastor of St. William the Abbot parish in Seaford from 2000 to 2009 and then rector of St. Agnes Cathedral from 2009 to 2020. He was given the title monsignor in 2007.

Bishop John Barres of Rockville Centre welcomed the appointment of Msgr. Koenig to lead the Diocese of Wilmington.

“Bishop-elect Koenig is a seasoned and experienced pastor who is known for his pastoral charity, his humility, and his sincerity. He radiates an evangelizing spirit of joy and gentle interior peace that is the fruit of a deep prayer life and years of serving parishioners in a wide range of parishes, ministries, and apostolates on Long Island,” he .

He added that Koenig is “a champion of Catholic education, Catholic social justice teaching, and the Gospel of human life.”

“He is a Good Samaritan priest servant to youth, the elderly, the poor, the sick, the imprisoned, the migrant, and the refugee. He is known for being a priest’s priest who has the respect, trust, affection, and esteem of priests of every age and generation.”

Bishop-elect James Golka of Colorado Springs is originally from Nebraska. He attended Creighton University in Omaha.

After graduating in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Theology, he spent a year as a Jesuit lay missionary volunteer serving in Native American Missions in South Dakota.

He entered St. Paul Seminary in Minnesota and was ordained to the priesthood on June 3, 1994, for the Diocese of Grand Island.

Golka speaks both English and Spanish. He served as pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe parish from 2001 to 2006 and then pastor of St. Patrick’s parish and Catholic school for the next 10 years.

He directed a diocesan youth summer retreat program and was also a Holy Land pilgrimage director. He served as the rector of the cathedral since 2016 and vicar general since 2018. The date of Golka’s episcopal ordination is yet to be announced.

The bishop-elect will be introduced to his new diocese at a press conference at 10 a.m. local time, live-streamed on the Diocese of Colorado Spring’s .

Pope Francis praises Venezuela’s ‘doctor of the poor’ ahead of beatification

Vatican City, Apr 30, 2021 / 05:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis sent a video message for the beatification on Friday of José Gregorio Hernández, a Venezuelan doctor who served the poor during the Spanish flu pandemic.

“The beatification of Dr. Hernández is a special blessing of God for Venezuela, and invites us to grow towards greater solidarity with one another, to produce all together the response of the common good so necessary for the country to revive, to be reborn after the pandemic with a spirit of reconciliation,” the pope in the message sent April 29.

“In the midst of all the difficulties, I ask all of you who love Dr. José Gregorio so much to follow his admirable example of selfless service to others,” he said.

Pope Francis sent the message on the eve of the April 30 beatification in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, had planned to preside over the beatification Mass but canceled the trip to Venezuela on April 28 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The beatification of Dr. José Gregorio takes place at a particularly difficult moment for you. Like my brother bishops, I know well the situation you are undergoing, and I am aware that your prolonged suffering and anguish have been aggravated by the terrible COVID-19 pandemic that is affecting us all,” Pope Francis said.

Venezuela, a country of almost 29 million people bordering Colombia, Brazil, and Guyana, is in the midst of a years-long political and economic crisis.

In his , the pope said repeatedly that he would like to visit Venezuela, emphasizing that he was praying for “reconciliation and peace” in the country.

Francis urged Venezuelans to “seek the path of national unity” by “putting the common good before any other interest.”

“And I ask the Lord that no external intervention prevents you from following this path of national unity,” he added.

Pope Francis said: “I sincerely believe that this moment of national unity, around the figure of the people’s doctor, constitutes a particular moment for Venezuela and demands that you go further, that you take concrete steps in favor of unity, without letting yourselves be overcome by discouragement.”

“Following the example of Dr. José Gregorio, may you be able to recognize each other as equals, as brothers, as children of the same homeland.”

José Gregorio Hernández was born on October 26, 1864, in the town of Isnotú in the Venezuelan state of Trujillo. He lost his mother at the age of eight.

Hernández studied medicine in Caracas and received government funding to continue his studies in Paris in 1889 for two years.

After returning to Venezuela, he became a professor at the Central University of Caracas, where he started each lesson with the sign of the cross.

Hernández attended daily Mass, brought medicine and care to the poor, and made a profession as a Third Order Franciscan.

He eventually discerned a monastic religious vocation and gave up his professorship to enter a cloistered Carthusian monastery in Farneta, Italy, in 1908, with the name of Brother Marcelo.

After nine months, he fell ill, and his superior ordered him to return to Venezuela to recover. In Caracas, he received permission to enter the Santa Rosa de Lima Seminary.

He moved to Rome for three years to study theology at the Pius Latin American College, but again became ill and was forced to return to Venezuela in 1914.

Hernández concluded that it was God’s will for him to remain a layman. He decided then to promote sanctification as an exemplary Catholic by being a doctor and giving glory to God by serving the sick.

He devoted himself to academic research and deepened his dedication to serving the poor, particularly during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.

One day, as the doctor went to pick up medicine for an elderly poor woman, he was hit by a car. He died in hospital on June 29, 1919, after receiving the last rites.

Catholics in Venezuela have welcomed Hernández’s beatification as an inspiration for other lay people.

The National Council of Laity of Venezuela sent a statement to , CNA’s Spanish-language sister agency, expressing joy over “the first Venezuelan layman to be raised to the altars.”

“In this Year of the Venezuelan Laity, we hope that the heart of each person is animated by such an exemplary figure and that we live as authentic disciples giving daily witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior,” it said.

The lay Catholic association emphasized that Hernández “faced many difficulties during his life, including the pandemic of the so-called Spanish flu of 1918, which caused the death of many Venezuelans. However, he never tired in his eagerness to serve the Lord by giving himself to others.”

“[God], help us to renew the faith of this nation consecrated to the Blessed Sacrament and to understand the dignity of baptism that has purified us and committed us to our neighbor. Inspire us so that we often entrust ourselves to the Holy Spirit, who has renewed us, so that we can be aware that through the blood of Christ we are redeemed,” it said.

Pope Francis: St. Catherine of Siena is a gift to the Church and humanity

Vatican City, Apr 29, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

On the feast of St. Catherine of Siena, Pope Francis expressed his hope that the “great female figure of faith” would continue to inspire more joyful and fervent witness.

“The Holy Father hopes that, especially in the context of the 560th anniversary of the canonization of the Sienese Saint, the example of such a generous disciple of Christ will foster in all an ever more joyful and fervent witness to faith and charity to promote the civilization of love,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin wrote in a on behalf of the pope, published April 29.

The Vatican Secretary of State sent the telegram to Cardinal Augusto Paolo Lojudice, the archbishop of Siena-Colle di Val d’Elsa-Montalcino, expressing the pope’s good wishes to Catholics in the archdiocese during their three-day celebration of their hometown saint.

Pope Francis “joins in the common thanksgiving to the Lord for having given the Church and humanity such a great female figure of faith, who constantly calls the Church and all men of goodwill to Gospel values,” he said.

St. Catherine of Siena is a Doctor of the Church and co-patron of Europe. She played a pivotal role in ending the Avignon exile of the successors of Peter in the 14th century.

Born in Siena in 1347 on the feast of the Annunciation, she exhibited an unusually independent character as a child and an exceptionally intense prayer life.

When she was seven years old, she had the first of her mystical visions, in which she saw Jesus surrounded by saints and seated in glory. In the same year, she vowed to consecrate her virginity to Christ.

When, at the age of 16, her parents decided that she should marry, she cut off her hair to make herself less appealing, and her father, realizing that he couldn’t contend with her resolve, let her have her way.

She joined the Dominican Tertiaries and lived a deep and solitary life of prayer and meditation for the next three years in which she had constant mystical experiences, capped by the end of the three years with an extraordinary union with God granted to only a few mystics, known as “mystical marriage.”

St. Catherine suffered many periods of desolation alongside her mystical ecstasies, often feeling totally abandoned by God. She also tended to the sick, poor, and marginalized, especially lepers.

Her , a spiritual classic, records her visions, which she dictated in a state of mystical ecstasy.

God called her to a more public life while she was still in her 20s, and she corresponded with many influential figures, advising, admonishing, and exhorting them to holiness, including the pope himself, who she also rebuked when she saw fit.

She helped achieve peace when the Holy See and Florence were at war. While on her deathbed, she made possible the healing of the great schism between the followers of the legitimate pope, Urban VI, and those who opposed him.

She died in Rome on April 29, 1380, at the age of 33, and the stigmata appeared on her incorrupt body after her death. She was canonized by Pope Pius II on June 29, 1461.

She once said: “If you are what you should be, you will set the world ablaze.”

Pope Francis sends condolences after death of South Korean Cardinal Cheong

Vatican City, Apr 29, 2021 / 06:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis offered his condolences Thursday after South Korean Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk died at the age of 89.

The cardinal served as a bishop for more than 50 years in Korean dioceses, including 14 years as acting archbishop of Seoul and apostolic administrator of Pyongyang.

He is remembered for his passion for evangelization, pro-life advocacy, knowledge of canon law, service to the poor, and efforts to bring peace and unification to the Korean peninsula.

Cardinal Cheong died on the night of April 27 in St. Mary’s Hospital, where he had been receiving medical care since February. His body is being kept in a glass coffin in Seoul’s Myeongdong Cathedral until his funeral on May 1.

Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, the current archbishop of Seoul, offered a midnight Requiem Mass in the cathedral on April 27. He remembered his predecessor as someone who “wanted the Church to be the light and salt of society, and practiced a pastoral ministry that emphasized the values of life and family.”

“Cardinal Cheong gave out everything he had to churches and the poor. He donated his organs to devote himself to helping the weak," he said.

Cheong was born into a Catholic family in Seoul in 1931, at a time when Korea was under Japanese colonial rule. He was baptized four days after his birth, and the cardinal once said that his mother took him with her to daily Mass during his early childhood.

His father left the family after the liberation of Korea in 1945 to go to North Korea, where he went on to become a vice minister, according to the Korea Herald.

Cheong was admitted to Seoul National University, the top university in South Korea, to study chemical engineering in 1950, but his studies were interrupted by the start of the Korean War.

During the war, he served as an interpreter in the South Korean National Defense Corps. In the office of a U.S. Army chaplain, he found a book on St. Maria Goretti that helped inspire him to decide to become a priest.

After studying for the priesthood at Catholic University of Korea, he was ordained on March 18, 1961.

Cheong studied in Rome from 1968 to 1970, obtaining a degree in canon law from the Pontifical Urban University.

Upon his return to South Korea, he was consecrated bishop of Cheongju at the age of 39 and took the episcopal motto, “Omnibus Omnia,” meaning “All things to all people”.

He spent the next 28 years serving as bishop of Cheongju, where he helped to establish Kkottongnae, the largest Catholic charitable organization in South Korea.

Cheong led the years-long effort to translate the 1983 Code of Canon Law into the Korean language and published more than 50 books during his lifetime, including 15 commentaries on canon law.

He served as president of the Korean bishops’ conference from 1996 to 1999.

St. John Paul II appointed him archbishop of Seoul and apostolic administrator of Pyongyang in 1998. Pope Benedict XVI made him a cardinal in 2006.

From 1998 to 2004, the cardinal was president of the Korean bishops’ conferences Commission for the Reconciliation of the Korean People, which worked toward bringing about the peaceful unification of the Korean peninsula.

He then launched the Catholic Life Committee in 2005 and advocated for investment in adult stem cell research.

The cardinal retired as archbishop of Seoul in 2012 but continued to write and publish books.

Pope Francis sent a telegram to Cardinal Yeom expressing his condolences upon the death of Cardinal Cheong.

“United with you in thanksgiving for Cardinal Jin-suk’s many years of service to the Church in Korea and to the Holy See, I join all assembled for the solemn funeral Mass in commending his noble soul to the compassionate love of Christ the Good Shepherd,” the pope wrote.

“To all who mourn the late cardinal’s passing in the sure hope of the Resurrection I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of consolation and peace in the Risen Lord.”

In anti-corruption law, Pope Francis seeks to quash Vatican ‘envelope’ culture with ban on gifts over $50

Vatican City, Apr 29, 2021 / 04:50 am (CNA).

As part of a sweeping new anti-corruption law, Pope Francis on Thursday declared that officials of the Roman Curia should no longer accept personal gifts with a monetary value over 40 euros (about $50).

The new rule appears to be an effort to quash the Vatican “envelope” culture, in which large monetary donations are made to bishops and cardinals working in the Roman Curia.

These gifts have been blamed for contributing to corruption in the Church when they were used between high-level Church officials to seek favors, most notably in cases like that of ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

The new directive says that Vatican officials must not “accept or solicit, for oneself or for subjects other than the Entity in which they serve, for reasons or on the occasion of one’s office, gifts, presents or other benefits of a value exceeding 40 euros.”

Pope Francis’ April 29 , issued in the form of motu proprio (“on his own impulse”), added this rule to the , along with other requirements ensuring that Vatican personnel who handle the Vatican’s economic affairs are not involved in financially corrupt or illegal behavior.

In the motu proprio on “provisions on transparency in the management of public finance,” Pope Francis said that, “according to Scripture, fidelity in small things is related to fidelity in important ones.”

Referencing , he added, “just as being dishonest in matters of little consequence is also related to being dishonest in important matters.”

The pope said that the new law was intended to bring the Holy See and Vatican City State further in line with international best practices on corruption and financial transparency, building off of his on transparency in the awarding of public contracts.

The new measures were necessary to “prevent and fight, in every sector, conflicts of interest, methods of patronage, and corruption in general,” Francis said.

He added that those who work in or are connected to the Vatican “have a particular responsibility to make concrete the fidelity of which the Gospel speaks, acting according to the principle of transparency and in the absence of any conflict of interest.”

Under the new regulation, the cardinals leading dicasteries or other offices, and senior management and administrators of the Holy See and Vatican City State, whose jobs require handling money, will be required to sign a document every two years attesting that they and their finances are not connected to crime.

In the statement, they must declare that they do not hold shareholdings or interests in companies that operate “with purposes and in sectors contrary to the Social Doctrine of the Church.”

They must also attest that all goods owned by them originate from lawful activities and are not the profit or product of crime. In addition, they must say that they have never been convicted of a crime and are not under any criminal trial or investigation for crimes of corruption, fraud, terrorism, money laundering, tax evasion, trafficking, exploitation of minors, or participation in a criminal organization.

The employee or official must also declare that they do not hold any cash or investments, including shareholdings or interests, in companies and businesses on a list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes, or in countries considered at high risk for money laundering or terrorist financing.

The declaration will be held in the Secretariat for the Economy’s employee files and a copy will be kept in the Secretariat of State. The Secretariat for the Economy is authorized to verify the truth of the statements and false declarations will be subject to “a serious disciplinary offense.”

The new regulations must be enforced within 90 days of the law’s publication.

Pope Francis to launch rosary ‘marathon’ for end to pandemic

Vatican City, Apr 28, 2021 / 07:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Saturday will lead a rosary to begin a month-long prayer marathon for the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The pope’s rosary will be broadcast live from the Gregorian Chapel of St. Peter’s Basilica at 6 p.m. Rome time on May 1.

Situated directly to the west of the Holy Sacrament Chapel, the Gregorian Chapel contains the relics of St. Gregory of Nazianzus, a Doctor of the Church, as well as a 7th-century icon of Our Lady of Help.

The rosary kicks off a month of daily rosaries prayed at Catholic shrines around the world for the intention of an end to the coronavirus pandemic and the resumption of work and social activities.

Families, teens, and young adults from Rome and the surrounding region will lead the rosary together with Pope Francis.

During the event May 1, Pope Francis will also bless rosaries to be sent to the participating in the daily live-streamed prayers.

Among these are the shrines of Our Lady of Walsingham in England, the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in the United States, Our Lady of Częstochowa in Poland, the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary in South Korea, Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil, Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage in the Philippines, Our Lady of Knock in Ireland, the Virgin of the Poor at Banneux in Belgium, Notre Dame d'Afrique in Algeria, Our Lady of the Rosary of Fatima in Portugal, and Our Lady of Health in India.

Participating shrines in Italy include the Holy House of Loreto and Shrine of the Virgin of the Rosary of Pompei.

The other global shrines are Jesus the Saviour and Mother Mary in Nigeria, the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Our Lady of Lujan in Argentina, Our Lady Queen of Peace at Medjugorje in Bosnia, St. Mary’s Cathedral in Australia, Our Lady of Lourdes in France, Meryem Ana in Turkey, Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre in Cuba, Our Lady of Nagasaki in Japan, Nuestra Señora de Montserrat in Spain, Notre Dame du Cap in Canada, the National Shrine Our Lady Ta’ Pinu in Malta, Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe in Mexico, Mother of God in Zarvantysia in Ukraine, Altötting in Germany, and Our Lady of Lebanon in Harissa, Lebanon.

Pope Francis will also close the month of rosaries by leading the prayer in the Vatican Gardens May 31.

The initiative, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, is in response to a request from the pope.

“Pope Francis wishes to involve all the shrines around the world in this initiative, so that they may become vehicles of the prayer of the entire Church,” a press release said. “The initiative is being conducted in the light of the biblical expression: ‘Prayer by the Church was fervently being made to God’ (Acts 12:5).”

The Vatican’s evangelization office it had “extended this invitation to all the shrines around the world, in order to promote the diffusion of the initiative in the relevant regions, so as to reach priests, families, and all the faithful, inviting them to join in this prayer of intercession and hope to the Blessed Virgin Mary.”

All Catholics are invited to participate in the daily rosaries however and wherever they are able, the press release said.

A liturgical guide, available in , , and , can be downloaded from the website of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.

Cardinal Ladaria: Pastoral care, Church law are not in conflict in marriage cases

Vatican City, Apr 28, 2021 / 06:15 am (CNA).

The prefect of the Vatican’s doctrinal office stressed on Tuesday that in marriage annulment or dissolution cases, the Church’s procedural law and the pastoral care of persons are not in conflict.

Cardinal Luis Ladaria, S.J., spoke at the opening session of a hosted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and the Pontifical Lateran University.

The April 27 study day was devoted to the 2001 , which regulates the Catholic Church’s process for the dissolution of a prior non-sacramental marriage “in favorem fidei” (in favor of the faith).

According to Ladaria, in both dissolution and annulment cases in the Church, “the importance of the inclusion of all the realities of marriage in a pastoral framework” is already contained in the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

The theologian quoted canon 1063, calling it “probably one of the most beautiful of the canons on marriage in the code of canon law.”

Canon 1063 that “pastors of souls are obliged to take care that their ecclesiastical community offers the Christian faithful the assistance by which the matrimonial state is preserved in a Christian spirit and advances in perfection.”

The canon goes on to outline the concrete ways in which a pastor should provide this assistance for his community.

Ladaria said that pastoral care in the area of marriage is an obligation not only for pastors, but also for the whole Christian community. He rejected the idea that the legal process for a marriage annulment or for the granting of a dissolution of a natural marriage bond is in dichotomy with the spiritual care of souls.

“The position of marriage cases in the context of the pastoral environment was indicated by Pope Francis himself, precisely in his apostolic letters in the form of motu proprio and,” he said.

“The Roman Pontiff invites us -- in fact, he expresses the obligation on the part of the competent ecclesial authorities -- to overcome the temptation to create a divide between the pastoral sphere and the juridical sphere,” Ladaria underlined.

According to the cardinal, in his 2016 , Pope Francis both deepened the aspect of pastoral accompaniment already contained in the law and drew attention to marriage crises in need of pastoral care, for which the desired outcome is always the preservation of the union if possible.

The 2001 norms of say that “marriages between non-Catholics, of which at least one is not baptized, under certain conditions can be dissolved by the Bishop of Rome in favor of the faith and for the salvation of souls.”

This dissolution and the process involved, Cardinal Ladaria said, represents “mere grace.”

“It is the dissolution of a natural, valid marriage, entrusted to the supreme pontiff in his role as the supreme pastor of the Catholic Church.”

The dissolution of a marriage “in favorem fidei” can be approved on a case-by-case basis and only by the pope. In this way, it differs from what is called the “Pauline privilege,” when the Church recognizes the automatic dissolution of a natural marriage between two non-baptized persons.

The unique favor of the granting of dissolution for this reason also differs from the annulment of a marriage, which declares that a valid marriage did not occur in the first place.

In his 16-minute address, Ladaria gave some examples of how pastoral accompaniment is naturally contained in the juridical process involved in the application for a dissolution of the marriage bond.

One example the cardinal gave is the requirement, found in Article 4 of , that at the moment the favor is conceded it must be true that “no possibility exists to restore the partnership of conjugal life.”

Ladaria underlined that this is because the Catholic Church can never favor the dissolution of a marriage, but must always work first to preserve the union if possible.

Another requirement in is the presence of a new matrimonial project, either in the present or the future, he said, “and the presence of this implies, usually, the dissolution because the preceding matrimony has already failed irrevocably.”

Each person involved, from the couple to new spouses, to children, is in need of pastoral accompaniment, he said.

We must remember, he added, that a person seeking the dissolution of a marriage bond often needs pastoral care not only at the familial and relational level, but also at other spiritual levels, because he or she is often going through the process of catechumenate or conversion into the Catholic Church, for example, or is deepening his or her relationship with Christ and the Church.

“Thus,” Ladaria underlined, “the juridical pastoral aspect of the dissolution of marriage is only one of the elements of a much broader pastoral effort, which grants a renewal of all parts of their lives.”

In Pope Francis’ documents on marriage “even the accompaniment of the faithful in situations of crisis, indeed, in the failure of their union, is part of a uniform family pastoral concept,” he said.

“Accompaniment is needed from pastors and possibly other experts at the local level,” he advised. “which presupposes that both pastors and experts are offered adequate preparation.”

He also noted that separation and divorce are often filled with suffering.

“In the end, in the norms regarding ‘in favorem fidei,’ the Church also turns its gaze to those who are not directly involved in the procedure, but only observe,” he said. “So one of the reasons for the granting of the dissolution of marriage ‘in favorem fidei’ is a unique grace, that is, it should be granted only once, as commanded in the sixth article of the norms.”

He underlined that the Church should make an effort to avoid the expression of an attitude of divorce when one witnesses that the dissolution of a perfectly valid marriage is allowed.

The same pastoral concern is expressed in Article 9 of the norms, he said, when it states that a diocesan bishop should consult with the CDF if there is a fear of causing grave scandal should the dissolution be granted.

“Obviously all of the articles of the norms of which we have spoken are formulated as juridic texts. They are provisions which indicate aspects to observe, which suggest questions to ask during the questioning of the parties and of the witnesses,” he explained.

“However,” he continued, “despite this direct function of the precept of prohibition, these canonical provisions highlight some points of great relevance for the pastoral accompaniment of the couple, of other persons involved, or of those who only observe the modus procedendi [manner of proceeding] of the Church from a distance.”

The cardinal closed by saying that the Church’s institution of the dissolution of a non-sacramental marriage bond “in favorem fidei” is “not just a truly conventional procedure, but intends and should be, at the same time, understood as a pastoral tool suited to the affective side, and a way of seeing a uniform pastoral care of marriage and therefore, of the family.”

Pope Francis at the general audience: Christian meditation ‘is not a withdrawal into ourselves’

CNA Staff, Apr 28, 2021 / 04:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Wednesday that Christian meditation is a way of encountering Jesus and not “a withdrawal into ourselves.”

Speaking at his general audience April 28, the pope reflected on what distinguishes Christian meditation from other meditative practices popular in the Western world.

He said: “For us Christians, meditating is a way of coming into contact with Jesus. And in this way, only in this way, we discover ourselves.”

“And this is not a withdrawal into ourselves, no, no: it means going to Jesus, and from Jesus, discovering ourselves, healed, risen, strong by the grace of Jesus. And encountering Jesus, the Savior of all, myself included. And this, thanks to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”

The pope gave his , dedicated to meditative prayer, in the library of the Apostolic Palace due to coronavirus restrictions.

The speech was the 31st reflection in his cycle of , which he launched in May and resumed in October following nine addresses on healing the world after the pandemic.

In his address, Pope Francis noted the growth in popularity of meditation in the West.

He said: “The practice of meditation has received a great deal of attention in recent years. It is not only Christians who talk about it: the practice of meditation exists in almost all the world’s religions. But it is also a widespread activity among people who do not have a religious view of life.”

“We all need to meditate, to reflect, to discover ourselves, it is a human dynamic. Especially in the voracious Western world, people seek meditation because it represents a high barrier against the daily stress and emptiness that is everywhere.”

“Here, then, is the image of young people and adults sitting in meditation, in silence, with eyes half-closed... But what do these people do, we might ask? They meditate. It is a phenomenon to be looked on favorably: in fact, we are not made to run all the time, we have an inner life that cannot always be neglected. Meditating is therefore a need for everyone. Meditating, so to say, is like stopping and taking a breath in life. To stop and be still.”

The pope then considered what made Christian meditation different from other practices.

He said: “Meditating is a necessary human dimension, but meditating in the Christian context -- we Christians -- goes further: it is a dimension that must not be eradicated.”

“The great door through which the prayer of a baptized person passes -- let us remind ourselves once again -- is Jesus Christ. For the Christian, meditation enters through the door of Jesus Christ. The practice of meditation also follows this path.”

He continued: “And the Christian, when he or she prays, does not aspire to full self-transparency, does not seek the deepest center of the ego. This is legitimate, but the Christian seeks something else. The prayer of the Christian is first of all an encounter with the Other, with a capital ‘O’: the transcendent encounter with God.”

“If an experience of prayer gives us inner peace, or self-mastery, or clarity about the path to take, these results are, one might say, consequences of the grace of Christian prayer, which is the encounter with Jesus. That is, meditating means going -- guided by a phrase from the Scripture, from a word -- to the encounter with Jesus within us.”

The pope explained that within the Christian tradition the word “meditation” has been used to refer to many different practices over the past two millennia.

“Nevertheless,” he said, “some common lines can be traced, and in this we are helped again by the Catechism, which says ... ‘There are as many and varied methods of meditation as there are spiritual masters. [...] But a method is only a guide; the important thing is to advance, with the Holy Spirit, along the one way of prayer: Christ Jesus.’”

“And here it indicates a traveling companion, one who guides: the Holy Spirit. Christian meditation is not possible without the Holy Spirit. It is he who guides us to the encounter with Jesus. Jesus said to us, ‘I will send you the Holy Spirit. He will teach you and will explain to you. He will teach you and explain to you.’ And in meditation too, he is the guide for going forward in our encounter with Jesus Christ.”

The pope urged Catholics not to become overly attached to any one form of meditative prayer, saying that “the method is a road, not a goal.”

“The methods of meditation are paths to travel to arrive at the encounter with Jesus, but if you stop on the road, and just look at the path, you will never find Jesus,” he said.

“You will make a ‘god’ out of the path. The ‘god’ is not waiting for you there, it is Jesus who awaits you. And the path is there to take you to Jesus.”

He highlighted the practice of meditating on scenes from the Gospel, which was recommended by St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order to which the pope belongs.

He said: “Here, then, the grace of Christian prayer is: Christ is not far away, but is always in a relationship with us. There is no aspect of his divine-human person that cannot become a place of salvation and happiness for us. Every moment of Jesus’ earthly life, through the grace of prayer, can become immediate to us, thanks to the Holy Spirit, the guide.”

In his to different language groups, the pope noted that Poles celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Queen of Poland, on May 3.

Addressing Polish speakers, he said: “Since the 17th century, the Polish people have given this title to the Mother of God, placing themselves under her maternal protection and committing themselves to serve faithfully the cause of the Kingdom of her Son.”

“Remembering the vows your fathers took at Jasna Góra [in Częstochowa], also in these difficult times of ours, take up Mary’s ever-present invitation and do whatever Jesus tells you. May his blessing accompany each and every one of you, your families, and the entire Polish nation!”

Pope Francis meets Poor Clare nuns whose monastery was destroyed in 2009 earthquake

Vatican City, Apr 26, 2021 / 11:02 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Monday met with a community of Poor Clare nuns, whose abbess died when the roof of their monastery collapsed in an earthquake in 2009.

The cloistered nuns were able to return to their monastery, located in the hilltop town of Paganica in central Italy, in March 2019.

Ten years earlier, the 5.9 magnitude quake, with an epicenter not far from the nuns’ property, caused the monastery roof to collapse, seriously injuring two nuns and killing Abbess Maria Gemma Antonucci.

More than 300 people died in the earthquake, Italy’s deadliest since 1980.

“In that night you lost everything except God and fraternity,” Pope Francis told the nuns in prepared remarks given out during the April 26 meeting. “From these two strong points you have set out again with courage.”

He noted that the community of 12 nuns is flourishing with young vocations. “This is the message you have given to the people: in the face of tragedies it is necessary to start again from God and fraternal solidarity. Thank you so much for this,” he said.

The monastery of the Poor Sisters of St. Clare in Paganica was started by Bl. Antonia da Firenze and St. Giovanni da Capestrano in the 15th century. 

The incorrupt remains of Bl. Antonia are kept in the monastery’s church of St. Bartholomew. After the earthquake the relics were moved for safekeeping but they returned to the church in 2016. 

Before the 2009 earthquake, the cloistered community had lived in its current structure since 1997, when it moved from the nearby town of L’Aquila to the quieter spot. 

On their website, the nuns explain that they live “in the contemplative retreat of the cloister, witnessing to the world the priority of seeking God and encountering him.”

“By making ourselves channels of grace for the Church, our daily prayer wants to be intercession for every man, our brother,” the nuns state. “As the roots of the tree draw sap from the earth to give nourishment to the whole plant, so our life hidden in God, drawing from him through prayer, allows every creature, every vocation, to receive from God light, strength, peace, and every good.”

Pope Francis told the nuns never to tire “of being a prayerful and consoling presence to support the population, severely tested by the terrible experience [of the earthquake] and still in need of comfort and encouragement.”

“May the example of Bl. Antonia help you to always be poor and joyful women for love of the poor Christ,” the pope said. “Faithful to the charism received from St. Clare and St. Francis, respond generously to the desire that God has placed in your heart, living your life as a consecrated person in total adherence to the Gospel.”

During their meeting, the Poor Clares gave Pope Francis a Paschal candle they had painted for the chapel in his residence, the Casa Santa Marta, where he offers Mass every morning. The nuns attended the pope’s Santa Marta Mass Oct. 11, 2019.

Thanking them for their prayers and for the gift of the candle, Francis said, “through this symbol of Christ the light of the world, you are spiritually present at the celebrations that take place in that chapel.”

When the Franciscan community moved back into its monastery in 2019, Giuseppe Cardinal Petrocchi, Archbishop of L’Aquila, said in a homily that “the monastery, an industrious dwelling, has its windows open to the world and often, even if recluse, the Poor Clares arrive through prayer where we cannot reach.”

Pope Francis to hold consistory in last step before canonization of Bl. Charles de Foucauld

Vatican City, Apr 26, 2021 / 08:00 am (CNA).

The Vatican announced on Monday that Pope Francis will hold an Ordinary Public Consistory next week, the last step before the canonizations of seven men and women, including Bl. Charles de Foucauld, can take place.

The consistory will be at 10:00 a.m. on May 3, after the praying of Terce, or mid-morning prayer, from the Liturgy of the Hours.

At the consistory, cardinals will vote to approve the canonizations of seven beatified men and women. This vote is the last step in the canonization process and allows a date to be set for a Mass of canonization.

Only cardinals resident or present in Rome will take part in the consistory, which will be held in the consistory hall in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

The canonizations will be the first since the start of the worldwide COVID-19 emergency. The last canonization Mass took place on Oct. 13, 2019, when the Anglican convert, theologian, and philosopher St. John Henry Newman was canonized in the presence of tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis approved the canonization cause of Bl. Charles de Foucauld in May 2020. The French missionary, also known as Brother Charles of Jesus, was killed in Algeria in 1916.

De Foucauld was a soldier, explorer, Catholic revert, priest, hermit, and religious brother, who served among the Tuareg people in the Sahara desert in Algeria.

He was assassinated by a band of men at his hermitage in the Sahara on Dec. 1, 1916.

The May 3 consistory will also vote on the canonization of Devasahayam Pillai, a lay man from India who was martyred after converting from Hinduism to Catholicism in the 18th century.

Pillai, who is also known by his baptismal name of Lazarus, was beatified in 2012 in southern India. He will be the first lay Catholic in India to be declared a saint.

Seven years after his conversion, Pillai was killed at the age of 40 by gunshot, after he had been falsely accused of treason, arrested, and tortured for three years.

Other canonization causes being voted on May 3 are the foundress of the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters of Loano Bl. Maria Francesca di Gesù, and the co-foundress and first general superior of the Institute of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family Bl. Maria Domenica Mantovani.

The canonizations of three priests who founded religious congregations and institutes, Bl. César de Bus, Bl. Luigi Maria Palazzolo, and Bl. Giustino Maria Russolillo, will also be voted on.

Vatican cardinal: The Armenian genocide is a ‘stain’ of evil on all humanity

Rome Newsroom, Apr 26, 2021 / 07:00 am (CNA).

The fact of the Armenian genocide forces us to confront both the great evils committed in human history and the small evils we commit in our personal lives, a Vatican cardinal said this weekend.

Also known by the Armenian term Medz Yeghern, the genocide, is a “stain in the history of the whole of humanity, not only of those who were the negative protagonists of those days or of those who have remained silent for indifference or complicity,” Cardinal Leonardo Sandri said on Saturday.

Sandri, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Oriental Churches, spoke in a homily during a Divine Liturgy of the Armenian Catholic Church in Rome April 24.

The Divine Liturgy, said at the Pontifical Armenian College, marked the 106th anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian genocide in 1915, when over the span of eight years, the Ottoman Empire targeted the mostly Christian Armenian minority for mass displacement, family separation, death marches, mass shootings, starvation, and other abuses.

An estimated 1.5 million Armenians were killed in the genocide.

In his homily, Sandri said the literal translation of Medz Yeghern, “the Great Evil Crime,” “forces us to come to terms with the question of evil in human history, but above all within our personal history, when we give in to the compromises of temptation, when we stop listening to the Word of God, when we are indifferent to our brothers or worse, we try to do evil toward them instead of multiplying the blessings and the good towards them.”

“The Great Evil challenges our little daily evils, because the great negative events are always preceded by a prehistory of progressive anesthetization of the conscience,” he stated.

The cardinal noted that the descendants of the victims of the genocide have not lost the faith and are still here to proclaim it and celebrate it today.

“Just as the Jewish people in the Holocaust of a few decades later was crossed by the stabbing question ‘Where was God in the extermination camps,' so too we could ask ourselves the same in the face of the systematically planned suffering of the Armenian people,” Sandri said.

“However, before each path of response, we are called to add another question, which is valid then as today: ‘where is the human being? Where are you a human being, where is your heart, created for good but so capable of harboring feelings of hatred to the point of wanting to exterminate your brothers and actually doing it?’”

Cardinal Sandri said we can be consoled knowing that those who lost their lives in the Armenian genocide 106 years ago are “friends of God.”

“The life of our brothers and sisters was like that of Jesus, a grain of wheat fallen to the ground that by dying gave life to the whole world by saving it: their fruit remains, and it is we who in the world celebrate this day in faith,” he said.

May seeds of life and resurrection come from this fruit, he prayed. “We ask this through the intercession of the All Holy Mother of God, Mary Most Holy, and of all the saints and martyrs of the beloved Armenian people. Amen.”

Pope Francis at the Regina Coeli: Mediterranean migrant deaths are ‘moment of shame’

CNA Staff, Apr 25, 2021 / 06:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Sunday that the recent deaths of 130 migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea marked “a moment of shame.”

Speaking after the recitation of the Regina Coeli April 25, the pope referred to that the migrants died despite SOS calls being issued when their inflatable boat sank off the coast of Libya last week.

He : “I confess I am extremely sad over the tragedy that has once again taken place in the Mediterranean. One hundred thirty migrants died in the sea. They are people. They are human beings who begged for help in vain for two whole days -- help that never arrived.”

“Brothers and sisters, let us all ask ourselves about this umpteenth tragedy. It is a shameful moment. Let us pray for these brothers and sisters, and for all those who continue to die in these tragic crossings.”

“Let us also pray for those who can help but prefer to look the other way. Let us pray in silence for them…”

The pope gave his Regina Coeli address at a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, where pilgrims stood spaced apart to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

He observed that April 25 marked the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, whose theme this year is

“Let us thank the Lord so that he might continue to raise up in the Church people who, for love of Him, consecrate themselves to the proclamation of the Gospel and service to their brothers and sisters,” he said.

He noted that on Sunday morning he nine new priests for the Diocese of Rome in St. Peter’s Basilica.

“Let us ask the Lord to send good laborers to work in his vineyard and that he might multiply vocations to the consecrated life,” he said.

In his reflection before the Regina Coeli, the pope meditated on the Gospel reading for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, called Good Shepherd Sunday.

He said that presented Jesus as “the true shepherd who defends, knows and loves his sheep.”

“The ‘mercenary’ is the opposite of the Good Shepherd, the one who does not care about the sheep because they are not his. He does the job only for pay and is not concerned about defending them: when a wolf arrives, he flees and abandons them,” he said.

“Instead, Jesus, the true shepherd, defends us always and saves us from so many difficult situations, dangerous situations through the light of his word and the strength of his presence that we always experience if we want to listen, every day.”

The pope said it was consoling to know that as well as defending us, Jesus also knows each one of us personally.

“We are not a ‘mass,’ a ‘multitude,’ for Him, no. We are unique individuals, each with his or her own story, he knows us with our own story, each with his or her own value, both because they have been created and have been redeemed by Christ,” he said.

Above all, he commented, Jesus the Good Shepherd loves his flock.

“Christ’s love is not selective; it embraces everyone,” he said. “He Himself reminds us of this in today’s Gospel when he says: ‘And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd’ (John 10:16).”

“These words testify to his universal concern: He is everyone’s shepherd. Jesus wants everyone to be able to receive the Father’s love and encounter God.”

He said that the Church was called to continue Christ’s mission.

“Beyond those who participate in our communities, there is the majority, many people, who do so only at particular moments or never. But this does not mean they are not God’s children: the Father entrusts everyone to Jesus the Good Shepherd, and he gave his life for everyone,” he said.

After leading the Regina Caeli prayer, the pope said that on April 23 three priests and seven lay people were beatified in Santa Cruz del Quiché, Guatemala.

He recalled that the Spanish priest José Maria Gran Cirera and his nine companions, who belonged to the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, were killed between 1980 and 1991. He highlighted their defense of the poor at a time when the Catholic Church faced persecution.

“With lively faith in Christ, they were heroic witnesses of justice and love. May their example make us more generous and courageous in living the Gospel,” he said, asking for a round of applause in honor of them.

The pope expressed his closeness to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the southern Caribbean following .

“I assure you of my prayers. I bless all those who are participating in relief efforts and assistance,” he said.

He also stressed his nearness to victims of a fire at a hospital for coronavirus patients in Baghdad, a city he during his March trip to Iraq.

“As of now, there are 82 people who have died,” he said. “Let us pray for all of them.”

Finally, he greeted the people of Rome and pilgrims.

“In particular, I greet the families and friends of the newly ordained priests, as well as the community of the Pontifical German-Hungarian College who performed the traditional today,” he said.

‘You will be shepherds like him’: Pope Francis ordains nine new priests in St. Peter’s Basilica

CNA Staff, Apr 25, 2021 / 04:25 am (CNA).

Pope Francis ordained nine men to the priesthood on Sunday, urging them to be shepherds like Christ throughout their priestly lives.

In a largely off-the-cuff homily in St. Peter’s Basilica April 25, he told them that they would share in the mission of Christ.

He : “You will be shepherds like him. This is what he wants of you. Pastors. Pastors of God’s holy faithful people. Pastors who go with God’s people: sometimes in front of the flock, sometimes in the middle or behind, but always there with God’s people.”

The pope urged the ordinands to seek “closeness” to God, their bishop, their fellow priests, and the People of God throughout their priestly service. He described this as the “four closenesses of the priest.”

He said it was vital for clergy to remain near God in prayer.

“A priest who does not pray slowly extinguishes the fire of the Spirit within,” he commented.

He called on the ordination candidates to see themselves as “collaborators” with their bishops, ensuring unity in the local Church.

He also asked them to be respectful of other priests.

“I suggest a resolution for you to make on this day: never speak ill of a brother priest. If you have something against another, be a man: go there, and tell him to his face,” he said.

He also encouraged them always to maintain a strong connection with parishioners.

“None of you have studied to become a priest. You have studied the ecclesiastical sciences, as the Church says you should. But you have been elected, taken from God’s people,” he told them.

He warned them that when priests lose contact with the people, they become “entrepreneurs,” rather than servants.

He said he was moved when he heard the story of a priest who was an able administrator. When the priest discovered that an elderly employee had made a mistake, he harshly scolded him, terminating his employment. The pope said that the elderly man died as a result.

“The man had been ordained as a priest and ended up as a ruthless entrepreneur,” he reflected.

He continued: “Remember that this road of the four closenesses is beautiful, this road of being shepherds, because Jesus consoles the shepherds, because He is the Good Shepherd.”

Concluding his homily, he said: “If you are close to the Lord, to the bishop, to each other, and to the people of God, if you have God’s style -- closeness, compassion, and tenderness -- do not be afraid, everything will go well.”

The ordination ceremony took place on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, also known as Good Shepherd Sunday. April 25 also marked the 58th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which the pope with a in March.

The ordinands came from three seminaries in the Diocese of Rome: six from the ; two from the seminary, associated with the Neocatechumenal Way; and one from the , where candidates receive a Marian spiritual formation.

During the two-hour ceremony, the nine men wore white with matching white masks. The congregation consisted of hundreds of people, sitting apart and wearing face coverings to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the Vicar of Rome, concelebrated the Mass at the Altar of the Confession with the pope, as did the superiors of the seminaries where the candidates trained.

After the homily, the ordinands approached the pope one by one. They knelt before him, placing their hands between his as he asked them: “Do you promise to me and my successors filial respect and obedience?”

After they answered in the affirmative, he said: “May God who began his work in you bring it to completion.”

Then, as a group, the candidates prostrated themselves before the altar, as the choir sang the litany of saints.

The nine men again approached the pope individually and he laid his hands on top of their heads, ordaining them priests.

The new priests were given stoles and chasubles. After putting them on, they presented themselves before the pope one by one. He anointed their hands with chrism oil while reciting a prayer.

Cardinal De Donatis gave each of the priests a paten -- a shallow metal plate -- and a chalice, along with a host for the celebration of Mass.

The pope then celebrated the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

After the Mass, the pope greeted the priests, kissing the palms of their hands. He then greeted members of the congregation, who included relatives of the new priests.

Three of the nine new priests for the Diocese of Rome -- who range in age from 26 to 43 -- were born outside Italy. The non-Italians come from Romania, Colombia, and Brazil.

• Fr. George Marius Bodgan, originally from Romania, trained for the priesthood at both the Pontifical Roman Minor Seminary and the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary. He was first inspired to pursue the vocation when he read a life of St. John Bosco at the age of nine.

• Fr. Salvatore Marco Montone, a 32-year-old from Calabria, southwest Italy, was born on Good Friday 1989. On the day of his baptism, the parish ran out of white garments for children, so the priest covered him with his stole. “I have no memories, of course, but my parents always tell me about it,” he said in a press release from the Diocese of Rome.

• Fr. Manuel Secci, at 26 the youngest of the nine new priests, was born in Rome. His vocation was nurtured at his local parish of Santi Simone e Giuda Taddeo a Torre Angela, where, he said, “the sense of community and the beautiful experiences nurtured my vocation.” He trained at the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary.

• Fr. Diego Armando Barrera Parra, 27, was born in Colombia. After completing high school, he volunteered at a juvenile detention center and a foundation for drug addicts. “There my desire was born to be able to help and serve others forever,” said the new priest, who studied at the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary.

• Fr. Giorgio De Iuri, a 29-year-old from Brindisi, a port city on the Adriatic Sea, first felt a call to the priesthood at the age of 15. While studying medicine in Rome, he decided to pursue the vocation, training at the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary.

• Fr. Salvatore Orazio Lucchesi, a 43-year-old Sicilian, discerned his vocation later in life, studying at the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary.

• Fr. Riccardo Cendamo, 40, who trained at the Redemptoris Mater seminary, was previously a film director. In 2013, he was invited to show his co-directed short film “Regreso a casa” at the Ischia Film Festival. He has taught directing at the Accademia Togliani, a cultural association in Rome. Before his ordination, he said: “If I look back now, I realize that the call to the priestly vocation has always existed, that love had to mature.”

• Fr. Samuel Piermarini, 28, was a promising who turned down an opportunity to play for the youth team of the Serie A club A.S. Roma. After discerning a call to the priesthood, he entered the Redemptoris Mater seminary.

• Fr. Mateus Henrique Ataide Da Cruz, 29, was born in Afogados da Ingazeira, northeast Brazil. He recalled that when he was 15, he started working for an elderly man. “I helped him with the computer,” he said. “In the work contract it was clearly written that every day I would also have to pray with him and recite the rosary. What I experienced at first as an imposition became a necessity for me.” He moved to Rome seven years ago to train at the Seminary of Our Lady of Divine Love.

Pope Francis declares blind 14th-century lay Dominican a saint

CNA Staff, Apr 24, 2021 / 06:20 am (CNA).

Pope Francis declared a blind 14th-century Italian lay Dominican a saint Saturday using a process known as “equipollent” canonization.

The Holy See press office April 24 that the pope had authorized the extension of the liturgical cult of Blessed Margaret of Castello to the universal Church during a Saturday morning meeting with Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

She will now be inscribed among the saints via the procedure also called “equivalent” canonization, where the requirement for a miracle attributed to the candidate’s intercession is waived.

Margaret of Castello was born blind and with a severe curvature of the spine in 1287 in Metola, present-day central Italy. Her parents abandoned her in 1303 at a shrine in Città di Castello where they had taken her in hope of a miraculous cure. She was discovered by local townsfolk, who began caring for her.

She came in contact with the then recently founded Dominican order and was admitted to the Third Order of St. Dominic. While remaining a laywoman, she received a religious habit, which she wore for the rest of her life.

To thank her neighbors for raising her, she opened a small school, where she taught children the Psalms, which she had learned by heart, and instructed them in the Catholic faith.

She died in 1320, at the age of 33, and was buried inside the church, where her tomb quickly became associated with miracles.

Pope Paul V declared her Blessed by equivalent beatification in 1609.

Candidates for equipollent canonization must meet three criteria. They must be the subject of a long-standing cult. They should have a solid and enduring reputation for virtue. They must also have a long association with miracles.

While there were few equipollent canonizations in the 20th century, Benedict XVI declared Hildegard of Bingen a saint via the procedure in 2012.

Pope Francis has used the process relatively frequently. Saints made by equivalent canonization since his election include Angela of Foligno and in 2013, , , and in 2014, and in 2019.

During Saturday’s meeting with Semeraro, the pope also authorized the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints to promulgate a recognizing the heroic virtues of the Argentine millionaire Enrique Shaw.

Shaw was born in Paris, France, in 1921, and emigrated to Argentina, where he established himself as a businessman of outstanding integrity. He founded the Christian Association of Business Executives in 1952 and sought to apply Catholic social teaching in the workplace. He died in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1962.

Pope Francis oversaw the diocesan phase of Shaw’s cause while he was serving as archbishop of the Argentine capital.

The pope praised Shaw in a 2015 interview with the Mexican television station Televisa.

He said: “Enrique Shaw was rich, yet saintly. A person can have money. God gives it to him so he can administer it well, and this man administered it well.”

The pope added that Shaw used his wealth “not with paternalism, but by fostering the growth of people who needed help.”

The decree means that Shaw can now be referred to as “Venerable.”

Heroic virtue is one of the requirements for beatification in the Catholic Church. A verified miracle attributed to the candidate’s intercession is also usually required.

Pope Francis also authorized a decree Saturday recognizing the martyrdoms of 12 members of the Redemptorists religious congregation killed during the Spanish Civil War.

He formally acknowledged that Vincenzo Nicasio Renuncio Toribio and his 11 companions were killed in hatred of the faith in the Spanish capital, Madrid, in 1936.

In addition, the pope approved decrees recognizing the heroic virtues of four other candidates for canonization:

• Cardinal Pietro Marcellino Corradini (1658-1743), the bishop of the Italian diocese of Frascati who founded the Collegine Sisters of the Holy Family, providing religious instruction for girls.

• Emanuele Stablum (1895-1950), an Italian physician who belonged to the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Conception (C.F.I.C.)

• María de los Desamparados Portilla Crespo (1925-1996), a Spanish laywoman and mother of 11 children. Known as Amparo Portilla Crespo, she was renowned for her , and the serenity with which she accepted her diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

• Anfrosina Berardi (1920-1933), an Italian girl known for devotion to the Virgin Mary who died at the age of 12 from complications following appendicitis.

CDF to hold study day on 2001 instruction for dissolution of marriage ‘in favorem fidei’

Vatican City, Apr 23, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

The Vatican’s doctrinal office will hold a study day April 27 on the theme of the dissolution of marriage “in favorem fidei.”

The study day marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of the instruction , which regulated the dissolution of a marriage between two non-Catholic persons, when at least one is not baptized, to allow for the contraction or validation of a Catholic sacramental marriage in the future.

The dissolution of a marriage “in favorem fidei” (in favor of the faith), can be approved on a case-by-case basis and only by the pope. In this way, it differs from what is called the “Pauline privilege,” when the Church recognizes the automatic dissolution of a natural marriage between two non-baptized persons.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has organized the study day in partnership with the Pontifical Lateran University; the event is intended for Catholic university students, scholars, and those working in diocesan curias.

Attendance will be possible both in-person and online. The morning of April 27 will be dedicated to studying the theological-juridical aspect of ; in the afternoon participants will break into moderated small groups to look at practical cases related to the instruction.

The morning talks, in Italian, will be streamed online and can be watched without the need to register.

says that “marriages between non-Catholics, of which at least one is not baptized, under certain conditions can be dissolved by the Bishop of Rome in favor of the faith and for the salvation of souls.”

“But the exercise of this power, bearing in mind both the pastoral needs of times and places, and all the circumstances of each individual case, is subject to the supreme judgment of the Supreme Pontiff himself,” the document’s introduction, signed by then-CDF prefect Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, states.

The 2001 instruction explained that the dissolution of the bond “in favorem fidei” was first introduced after the promulgation of the 1917 Code of Canon Law.

Previously, the Pauline privilege had been adequate, it stated, since cases requiring the “pastoral remedy of the dissolution of the bond” were rare. In the 20th century, however, the need has increased.

Reasons include, the document states, the increase in mixed-faith marriages and marriages between a non-Catholic baptized person and a non-baptized person, as well as the increasing “fragility and inconstancy of family ties, so that divorce is spreading more and more and the number of marriages that fail is increasing day by day.”

“The Roman Pontiff, in the certainty of the power that the Church possesses to dissolve marriages between non-Catholics, of which at least one is not baptized, never hesitated to meet the new pastoral needs, resorting to the practice of exercising this power of Church, if, after an examination of all the circumstances that are found on a case-by-case basis, this would seem appropriate to him in favor of the faith and for the good of souls,” says.

Pope Francis prays for people displaced by St. Vincent volcano eruptions

Vatican City, Apr 23, 2021 / 08:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis expressed his solidarity on Friday with the thousands of people displaced by ongoing volcanic eruptions on the island of St. Vincent in the southern Caribbean.

The eruption of La Soufrière volcano displaced close to 20,000 people and left the entire main island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines with limited access to clean water, according to the United Nations.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, sent a on the pope’s behalf expressing “heartfelt solidarity with the many displaced persons forced to evacuate their homes and seek shelter from the effects of this disaster.”

“Praying in a particular way for the emergency personnel and volunteers providing relief assistance, His Holiness entrusts the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the loving providence of almighty God,” the cardinal said in the telegram released April 23.

La Soufrière, which had been dormant since 1979, has erupted multiple times since April 9 destroying homes and crops and covering entire villages with ash. Scientists at the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre expect that another eruption in the coming weeks is likely.

The U.N. launched a $29.2 million funding appeal to address the humanitarian consequences of the natural disaster.

The Diocese of Kingstown, the only diocese in the Caribbean country, is also on its website to aid those who lost their homes.

“Our brothers and sisters are in shelters spread throughout the island. Many are also in private homes. They all need our help,” the website says.

Catholics make up about 6% of the archipelago island country’s mostly Protestant population of around 110,000 people.

Bishop Gerard County of Kingstown issued a message following the second eruption on April 12 asking for prayers for the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, their government leaders, and emergency personnel working to “bring triumph from tragedy.”

“Our eyes are fixed on the skies during these trying times, yes, but also on the presence of Jesus who has risen from the ashes of death,” Bishop County said.

“We know through faith that brighter clouds will prevail in response to faith, hope, and trust. Our God, who is the author of all creation -- seeing all as very good -- will give us new life through prayer and compassion toward one another. So may it be in the name of our risen Lord, Jesus.”

Will the Vatican pass the Moneyval test?

Vatican City, Apr 23, 2021 / 07:15 am (CNA).

Next week, Moneyval will issue a long-awaited progress report on how the Holy See has strengthened its juridical framework to counter money laundering.

The report will assess how the Holy See has been working in the last two years and focus on the effectiveness of the judicial system. That is: in terms of numbers, how many prosecutions follow the suspicious transaction reports? On a broader scale, it will consider whether the eventual lack of prosecutions points to the poor quality of the reporting system.

Moneyval is the committee of the Council of Europe, which assesses compliance with the international financial transparency standards of the countries participating in the process. The Holy See joined the organization in 2011. The first Moneyval comprehensive on the Holy See/Vatican City State was released in 2012.

Moneyval has since issued four other on the Holy See. Like any other state participating in the process, the Holy See has kept adjusting and updating its reporting system to improve its effectiveness.

The Moneyval evaluations have so far, been generally positive. The latest progress was released in 2017. Next week’s report will come at the end of Moneyval’s plenary meeting on April 26-30.

A vital issue will be the number of processes carried out following reports of financial impropriety. In 2017, Moneyval said that “the results on the law enforcement/prosecutorial/judicial side two years after the last review remain modest.”

The upcoming report was supposed to be out in 2020. The pandemic has slowed down the process.

Meanwhile, many things have changed for the Holy See. Overwhelmed by the scandal concerning the Vatican Secretariat of State’s investment in a building in London, Pope Francis has, step by step, dismantled and rebuilt Vatican finances. The Secretariat of State has also to manage its funds in favor of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.

Also, all the Vatican officials who helped to build up the Vatican financial transparency system and strengthened relations with Moneyval are no longer working for the Holy See. The committee, therefore, has lost all of its historical references in the Holy See. This can make a difference.

Without going into the details of the financial transactions in question, it is worthwhile reconstructing some passages of the story that led to the current situation.

In 2018, the Secretariat of State decided to invest in a luxury property in London. Two brokers succeeded in managing the investment until the Holy See, to avoid further losses and regain control of the operations, decided to take over the building.

In leaving the ongoing operations, the Holy See had, by contract, to pay the intermediaries. The Secretariat of State then asked the Institute for Works of Religion (the IOR or “Vatican bank”) for a loan to complete the investment.

At first, the IOR agreed. Then it changed its mind and reported the operations to the pope. After that, a summary procedure ordered by the pope began. This led to searches in the Secretariat of State and the Financial Intelligence Authority (AIF), and the of five Vatican officials (and a further one) in the course of the investigations.

Pope Francis proceeded to change the top management of Vatican finances profoundly. Tommaso Di Ruzza, director of the AIF, was not renewed in his post, by Giuseppe Schlitzer. René Brülhart, president of the AIF, was either, by Carmelo Barbagallo. It was decided that the Secretariat of State would no longer manage funds, effectively emptying its administrative office competencies.

Who, then, is now in charge of the Vatican’s finances?

First of all, the Secretariat for the Economy. The body founded in 2014 and initially led by Cardinal George Pell has a very active prefect in Fr. Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, S.J. He presented the budget of the Holy See last year and also the budget planned for next year, which he described as a “mission budget.” He stressed that Peter’s Pence would cover some of the deficit in the with 30 million euros ($36 million) out of the expected 47 million ($57 million).

Therefore, the Secretariat for the Economy has taken on the role of control and direction that should allow Vatican finances to be better managed. This should minimize the risk of errors -- such as relying on the wrong intermediaries.

Then the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) is increasingly called to become a sort of “central bank” and has a central position in controlling investments.

To carry out this process, Fabio Gasperini, a layman with a long international career and earlier experience in the Vatican City State administration, was appointed secretary-general of APSA, becoming the to hold the position.

But the only body from which APSA has received the management of the funds, by papal decision, is the Secretariat of State, following the investment scandal. When will the transfer of funds and investments from the Vatican Governorate and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples to APSA take place?

The AIF, the Vatican’s financial intelligence body, is currently reaping the rewards of previous work. Barbagallo, the new president, worked to update the body’s and for a change of name: the AIF is now known as the (ASIF). The changes to the statutes make the role of the authority’s president more central.

The ASIF also now responds to the of the Roman Curia. This might be problematic. The ASIF oversees only the IOR operations. But the IOR itself kept its autonomy, even in terms of the curial regulations. There is, therefore, a control body that has less independence than the controlled body -- also in terms of wages.

In addition to these reforms, the Vatican’s financial watchdog has faced some issues with international partners. After the search and seizures in the AIF’s offices in October 2019, the Egmont Group, which brings together financial intelligence units from all over the world, suspended the AIF from its secure communication network.

The AIF was only when it signed a memorandum of understanding with the Vatican Tribunal guaranteeing the confidential use of the international intelligence documents seized.

Balancing the books remains a problem for the Holy See. The pandemic has put further strain on the Vatican coffers. While entities such as the IOR maintain their autonomy, the pope has sought to cut costs by of high-ranking officials and employees of the Holy See and Vatican City State. ASIF is affected by these moves. The IOR is not.

The effectiveness of this provision must still be proved in practice. The cuts will be applied only to the basic salary for executives, while additional remuneration is not affected. The expensive external advisers will remain and can still be hired.

These details show that the Vatican financial system does not currently have a clear direction. There was a legal framework, maintained since the pontificate of Benedict XVI, which had guaranteed that the Holy See’s international position was considered. That framework is now being undermined by a series of decisions that appear unrelated to each other and then need to be adjusted.

This is evident, fundamentally, in the London affair that has occupied the Holy See for the last year and a half. It has been said that it is good that the troubles have been cleared from the inside. But there are more questions than answers.

The Secretariat of State asked the IOR for an advance, to be repaid with interest, to conclude the London operation. Although the IOR made it clear in its latest annual report that it cannot lend money, it must be remembered that the institute supports the Church in its mission. It can give advances -- and it has done so, intervening in support of financially insolvent dioceses such as that of in Slovenia.

And in fact, the IOR had initially accepted the request from the Secretariat of State. But a few days before everything was defined, the IOR changed its mind, reported everything to the pope, and thus started the Vatican prosecutor’s investigation. Why did the IOR alter course?

It is evident that the challenge facing the Holy See is not only economic. Although deficits have to be addressed, the real issue for Vatican finances is the institutional framework. The institutional crisis, in the end, could hit the Holy See in the evaluation of Moneyval.

Will the change of name of the AIF to ASIF be well received? Will the reporting regime be deemed reliable? If so, how will the Vatican court’s work be considered? The evaluation will be based on what has happened in previous years. It will not refer to the latest changes. But these changes could have an impact on the general judgment.

Pope Francis celebrates name day with poor as the Vatican’s free vaccinations continue

Vatican City, Apr 23, 2021 / 05:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Friday celebrated the feast of St. George, his namesake, with 600 of Rome’s poor and needy, as they waited to receive the second dose of the coronavirus vaccination at the Vatican.

Pope Francis’ baptismal name is Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Jorge is the Spanish version of George, and April 23, St. George’s feast day, is a holiday in the Vatican.

On April 23, the Vatican continued its program of free vaccinations for those in need in Rome, administering the second dose to around 600 of a total 1,400 people to eventually receive the second shot.

Pope Francis walked around the atrium of the Paul VI Audience Hall to greet everyone present, including volunteers and sisters of the Missionaries of Charity, who are helping with the vaccination program.

At the end of his visit, the pope offered everyone a piece of a giant, hollow chocolate egg, an Easter tradition in Italy.

The 30-minute visit had a “festive and affectionate atmosphere,” a Vatican press release said, and a song wishing the pope well on his name day was sung before he left.

Francis encouraged the medical volunteers to “continue their commitment” to helping the poor, and the papal almoner, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, expressed the pope’s gratitude to all those who had assisted with the vaccine project, which also included a donation of vaccines to poor countries.

Italian President Sergio Mattarella sent a to Pope Francis to mark his name day, called “onomastico” in Italian.

“On the occasion of the feast of St. George, I have the pleasure of sending you the affectionate and cordial congratulations of the Italian people, together with my most fervent wishes for well-being for your person,” Mattarella said.

The president thanked Pope Francis for his on Dante Alighieri, written in the March 25 , published to mark the 700th anniversary of the death of the Florentine poet.

“I wish to join in the hope that the figure of Dante Alighieri, ‘paradigm of the human condition,’ may illuminate with hope the journey of each person -- especially in this difficult period still marked by the pandemic -- helping everyone ‘to advance with serenity and courage on the pilgrimage of life,’” Mattarella said.

The Italian president said: “It is in this spirit that, on the happy anniversary of your name day, I renew the expressions of the closeness of all Italians and of my utmost consideration for the high apostolic mission of Your Holiness.”

Pope Francis has always celebrated his name day in some way, often with an act of charity.

Last year, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis made a donation of ventilators to hospitals in Romania, Spain, and Italy, to assist patients with severe cases of the coronavirus.

In 2019, the pope gave away 6,000 rosaries to young people from Milan and asked them to pray for him through Mary’s intercession.

To mark St. George’s feast day in 2018, 3,000 homeless people in Rome received a gelato -- Italian ice cream -- from Pope Francis.