VATICAN INSIDER: THE “BEST OF”

I had one of the most wonderful, heart-warming, inspiring days of my life today when a colleague from the Ave Maria conference and I went to Laski, about a half hour outside of Warsaw, to visit a center run by the Franciscan Sisters, Servants of the Cross, whose charism is working with blind children.

The center is hosting some blind children from Ukraine and I’ll tell their story on Monday. Sister Fabiana will tell us of her life in Ukraine, a total of 15 years at two different times.

I’ll also tell you about this beautiful center, its founding and its foundress, and offer many photos of the school, the sisters, the children at play and the wonderful, serene setting in part of the massive Kampinos forest.

The sisters’ foundress, Mother Elzbieta Roza Czacka, from a Catholic, aristocratic and patriotic family, became blind at 22 and, after various vicissitudes, discovered her true mission in life.

So tune in to that on Monday!

VATICAN INSIDER: THE “BEST OF”

Because I have spent most of the week in Poland at the conference organized by the Ave Maria Law School and Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University of Warsaw that was dedicated to Pope St. John Paul’s Natural Law and International Human Rights Legacy, I’ve not had time to prepare my usual VI program of a news segment, Q&A and an interview. My colleagues at EWTN are thus offering a “Best of” Vatican Insider this weekend! Thanks for understanding!

The days were wonderful beyond telling but also very long and I literally had no time to write a blog or prepare VI during the conference. However, I’ll be back to writing on Monday and will have a new Vatican Insider for you next weekend. Back to Rome tomorrow!

In the meantime, wherever you are, at home or on vacation, enjoy yourself and those you love!

 

WARSAW CONFERENCE TO FOCUS ON NATURAL LAW AND INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LEGACY OF ST. JOHN PAUL

WARSAW CONFERENCE TO FOCUS ON NATURAL LAW AND INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS LEGACY OF ST. JOHN PAUL

The Ave Maria School of Law and Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University of Warsaw have organized a two-day conference on May 18 and 19 in Warsaw dedicated to Pope St. John Paul’s Natural Law and International Human Rights Legacy.

The program notes that, “If we want a century of violent coercion to be succeeded by a century of persuasion, we must find a way to discuss the human future intelligibly. The universal moral law written on the human heart is precisely that kind of ‘grammar’ which is needed if the world is to engage this discussion of its future.” (John Paul II, Address to the Fiftieth General Assembly of the United Nations Organization, 5 October 1995)

All these years later, we still see a time of “violent coercion” and pray daily that this will soon be followed a time “of persuasion!”

The conference actually opens tomorrow night in Warsaw with a gala dinner at Delicja Polska. I went online and can’t wait till we dine there: Delicja Polska is a restaurant in the Warsaw Old Town » DelicjaPolska.pl

Opening remarks will be delivered by Ron Rychlak, Vice-Chair of the Board of Governors of Ave Maria School of Law.

I was honored beyond telling when I was invited to give the first of three keynote addresses of the conference! My name appears on the program: Keynote Address: Joan Lewis, EWTN Rome Bureau Chief (emerita), “I Made Cookies for a Saint.”

While the great majority of speakers will address the topics of or related to John Paul’s natural law legacy and international human rights, I was asked, given my years working at the Vatican during his pontificate, to give a more personal look at this saintly Pope, John Paul the Great! I was asked to tell my personal stories – to look at John Paul the man, his humanity, his humor, his mysticism and yet his down-to-earthness. (from WYD in Denver)

And to tell the story of how “I Made Cookies for a Saint!”

Hopefully, my talk will come at dessert time!

On Wednesday, May 18, the first full conference day, Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw delivers the opening prayer and remarks. Afterwards, the deans of the two universities co-sponsoring the conference will address attendees: John Czarnetzky, Ave Maria School of Law, and Michał Gierycz, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University Dean.

I am guessing we might sing “Happy Birthday” at some time on this day as St. John Paul was born on May 18, 1920!

The keynote address for May 18 will be delivered by Adrian Vermuele, Ralph S. Tyler, Jr. Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School, “Common good constitutionalism.”

 Morning Session I with various speakers will be moderated by Alejandro Bermudez, Executive Director, Catholic News Agency. The program notes that, “In light of the lived experience of St. John Paul II, this panel will examine the various historical, juridical and anthropological factors of the 20th century leading to the lack of intelligible discourse in human rights experienced today and the consequences thereof.”

Appearing virtually in that session are George Weigel, John Paul biographer and Distinguished Senior Fellow and William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies, and Michael Breidenbach, Associate Professor and Chair of History, Ave Maria University.

The afternoon Session II, entitled “The ‘grammar’ of St. John Paul II and coherent human rights discourse,” will be moderated by Solène Tadié, Europe Correspondent, National Catholic Register.

This panel will examine the various historical, juridical and anthropological factors in the response of St. John Paul II to the elements identified in Session I. Appearing virtually will be Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, speaking on “Faith and Reason: Amity or Enmity?”

The late afternoon Session III on May 18 should be another riveting period as it features panels presenting St. John Paul II’s teaching and international human rights issues. PANEL A looks at St. John Paul II on human life and the natural family, and Panel B focuses on St. John Paul II on the common good and collective rights.

And this is only the first full day of the conference! And I only touched the tip of the iceberg as far as the names of the eminent speakers and panellists go! My head will be spinning with names and ideas and speech content by the time the conference ends Thursday evening. I hope there will be time for quality personal encounters and good conversations!

By the way, the third keynote address will be delivered on May 19, by J.H.H. Weiler, Professor, N.Y.U. Law School, “On the limits of Natural Law and the Virtues of Revealed Law.”

Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk, archbishop of Utrecht, will offer the opening prayer and remarks on “Human rights in a secularized society.”

(PS. I’m not sure what kind of time I will have for writing, but will do my best to post even a blurb. The days are literally 12 hours long)

MYANMAR CARDINAL DECRIES ARREST OF “BROTHER CARDINAL,” LOSS OF FREEDOMS IN HONG KONG

MYANMAR CARDINAL DECRIES ARREST OF “BROTHER CARDINAL,” LOSS OF FREEDOMS IN HONG KONG

A MUST READ STATEMENT BY CARDINAL CHARLES BO, PRESIDENT OF THE FABC (FEDERATION OF ASIAN BISHOPS CONFERENCES), ON THE ARREST OF HIS “BROTHER CARDINAL AND FELLOW SALESIAN”

Cardinal Bo expressed his “profound concern about the situation for human rights and threats to religious freedom in Hong Kong,” adding: “Hong Kong used to be one of Asia’s freest and most open cities. Today, it has been transformed into a police state. Freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and association, and academic freedom have all been dismantled.”

Cardinal Bo has been archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar, since 2003.

“To see a city that was a beacon for freedom, including religious freedom, move so radically and swiftly down a much darker and more repressive path is heart-breaking. To see a government in China break its promises made in an international treaty, the Sino-British Joint Declaration, so repeatedly and blatantly, is appalling.”

“For the people of Hong Kong it is now increasingly difficult to speak out freely, so those of us outside Hong Kong who have a voice must use it on their behalf, and devote our prayers and efforts to showing solidarity with and support for them, in the hope that one day their freedoms will be restored.”

For full text: https://www.signisasia.net/statement-by-his-eminence…/

 

VATICAN INSIDER: WILL HAWAII HAVE A THIRD SAINT?

VATICAN INSIDER: WILL HAWAII HAVE A THIRD SAINT?

Welcome to Vatican Insider at this halfway point of May! This week, in the interview segment, I’ve prepared a Special on Joseph Dutton, called Brother Joseph by St. Damien of Molokai, and later by St. Marianne Cope. This layman came to the island of Molokai at the age of 44 and then for 44 years worked with Fr. Damien and later Mother Marianne caring for the victims of leprosy who had been exited there by the King of Hawaii.

At Mass in Honolulu’s cathedral on May 10, Bishop Larry Silva formally opened the Diocesan Inquiry Phase of the cause of canonization of Servant of God Joseph Dutton.

In a letter to the diocese before the Mass, Bishop Larry wrote: “On Tuesday, May 10, 2022, I will celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at 6:00 p.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace.   It is the Memorial of St. Damien DeVeuster. At the end of the Mass, there will be a short ceremony to formally open the Diocesan Inquiry Phase of the cause of Servant of God Joseph Dutton.The members of the Joseph Dutton Guild will be present, and the officials who will play various roles in the investigation of the cause will take their oaths of office.”

Several years ago I was asked to become a member of that guild for the cause of canonization of Joseph Dutton. It has been a joy to work with the incredible members and to have reached such a high point as the May 10 Mass. I usually attend one guild meeting a year in person but Covid, and some restrictions in Hawaii, kept me from visiting in 2020 and 2021. I am hoping to remedy that this year!

Bishop Larry also wrote: “It should be noted that beatification and canonization in the Catholic Church is a rigorous process, and there is no guarantee that the process will finally result in Joseph Dutton’s beatification or canonization. Nevertheless, many of the faithful in the Diocese of Honolulu and in other parts of the world have spoken favorably and are hopeful that Joseph Dutton’s holiness of life will be deemed by the Church to be worthy of public veneration and imitation. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will guide this process to its completion according to the will of God and for the good of his holy Church.”

So tune in to that wonderful story after the news segment of Vatican Insider!

(I did post most of this information on my May 10 blog if it seems familiar!)

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: go to https://www.ewtn.com/radio/audio-archive and write the name of the guest for whom you are searching in the SEARCH box. Below that, will appear “Vatican Insider” – click on that and the link to that particular episode will appear.

 

 

IS CARDINAL ZEN A “WHITE MARTYR” FOR THE CHURCH? – CARDINAL ZEN ARRESTED IN HONG KONG, HOLY SEE EXPRESSES CONCERN

IS CARDINAL ZEN A “WHITE MARTYR” FOR THE CHURCH?

You have by now seen the news everywhere: Cardinal Joseph Zen was arrested yesterday, May 11 – and later released on bail – in Hong Kong. I was lucky to get a very early heads-up and posted the news links as soon as I received it!

For me, if you have followed his life, especially in recent years, Cardinal Zen is a saint-in-waiting. In case you need to be refreshed, some of his background appears in the link to the Register story as well as the Vatican news report.

Is he perhaps a “white martyr”?

Aleteia, in a report on three types of martyrdom, explained that, “white martyrdom is typically defined as being persecuted for the faith, but never shedding any blood. It consists of living a life boldly for Christ, yet never being asked to die for it.”

Cardinal Zen would not be the only “white martyr” in today’s world!

If you are a reader of Joan’s Rome and my Facebook page, you know full well how I feel about the Vatican’s 2018 agreement with the Chinese government on the naming of bishops and the renewal of that agreement in October 2020. Since 2018, I have been mystified – as have countless others! – as to why the Vatican would sign an agreement with a country that has persecuted – and continues to do so – Christians, especially Catholics. Churches have been burned, destroyed or closed, crosses removed from churches and church buildings, statues destroyed, bishops imprisoned, priests asks to sign documents basically saying they agree with the communist government, etc., etc.

You know I’m not making this up.

Two years ago, as Hong Kong was awaiting Pope Francis to name a new bishop, Cardinal Joseph Zen, former bishop of Hong Kong, 88 at the time, came to Rome, hoping to meet Pope Francis to plead with him to give Hong Kong a true shepherd for the Hong Kong flock.

That papal audience was not granted. No explanation. No reason. Silence.

For full story: Cardinal Zen Appeals to the Pope: Please Send a Faithful Shepherd to Hong Kong| National Catholic Register (ncregister.com)

I have had this photo on my laptop since the cardinal’s 2020 visit to Rome, and it always brings tears to my eyes!

Now, I ask you to please set aside 11 minutes for a riveting, extremely informational commentary on Cardinal Zen, the Vatican and China by Andrew Bolt of Sky News Australia. You may recall a few years back that Bolt was one of the most vocal defendants of Cardinal George Pell when he was in prison in Australia. Bolt, along with credible guests, made excellent legal points every time he dedicated a segment to the Pell case. He does the same here with Ed Condon of The Pillar: (9) Cardinal Joseph Zen’s arrest is ‘very serious’ and ‘not surprising’ – YouTube

Following is a Vatican news report on Cardinal Zen’s arrest:

CARDINAL ZEN ARRESTED IN HONG KONG, HOLY SEE EXPRESSES CONCERN

Cardinal Joseph Zen was detained in Hong Kong on Wednesday by the police force set up to oversee national security, and charged with “collusion with foreign forces” in connection with his role as administrator of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund. The director of the Vatican Press Office says the Holy See is closely following developments in the situation.

By Salvatore Cernuzio (vaticannews)

Ninety-year-old Cardinal Joseph Zen, who was the bishop of the Diocese of Hong Kong from 2002 to 2009, was arrested on Wednesday by Hong Kong authorities.

The cardinal has reportedly been released on bail, according to reports circulated via social media by local journalists who also posted photos of Cardinal Zen outside the Wan Chai police station.

As he left the police station around 11 PM Hong Kong time, the Cardinal reportedly got immediately into a car, without offering any comments.

Arrest and charges

The Cardinal was detained on Wednesday evening by the police section set up to monitor China’s national security.

According to local sources, he is currently being held at a police station for questioning. The cardinal is charged with “collusion with foreign forces,” in connection with his role as administrator of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, a fund that supported pro-democracy protesters in paying for the legal and medical expenses they faced.

“The Holy See has learned with concern the news of Cardinal Zen’s arrest and is following the evolution of the situation with extreme attention,” said the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, in response to journalists’ questions on Thursday afternoon.

Three other arrests

Cardinal Zen was one of the trustees of the organisation, established in 2019 and dissolved in October last year.

In addition to the cardinal, authorities also arrested other promoters of the fund, including well-known lawyer Margaret Ng, a former opposition MP; academic Hui Po-keung; and singer-songwriter Denise Ho. Their arrests were confirmed by Hong Kong legal sources.

Charges

Local media reported the arrest, saying that the law enforcement investigation focuses on alleged “collusion” by the 612 Fund with “foreign forces,” in violation of the national security law imposed by Beijing in June 2020.

The charge leveled against those arrested is one of four offences under the city’s National Security Act, designed to quash pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The new law has been internationally condemned. The other offences listed in the act – subversion, secession and terrorism – can carry sentences of up to life imprisonment.

Already in recent months, several Hong Kong media outlets have accused Cardinal Zen of inciting students in 2019 to revolt against a series of government measures. In the past, Cardinal Zen has also criticized the Chinese Communist Party for allegedly persecuting religious communities.

 

PATH TO PEACE FOUNDATION HONORS KING ABDULLAH, QUEEN RANIA OF JORDAN – ON FEAST OF ST. DAMIEN, HONOLULU DIOCESE OPENS CAUSE OF JOSEPH DUTTON

PATH TO PEACE FOUNDATION HONORS KING ABDULLAH, QUEEN RANIA OF JORDAN

The Path to Peace Foundation annual dinner last night in New York that honors peacemakers honored King Abdullah and Queen Rania of Jordan. It was one of the more amazing events of my life for many reasons. I have been to Jordan and my experiences were very memorable, happy and instructive. Truly a wonderful country and great people, a people whose respect and love for their monarch, in my experience, is palpable.

When I was in Amman in 2014 to cover Pope Francis’ three-day visit to Amman, Bethlehem and Jerusalem, I actually spent 6 days in Jordan, getting acquainted with the nation’s history and culture, including a remarkable visit to the ever-breathtaking Petra!

While there I bought King Abdullah’s book, “Our Last Best Chance: Pursuit of Peace in a Time of Peril.” It is a riveting read by a leader consumed for peace, a well-educated, thoughtful and, in so many ways, a down-to-earth, common sense man.

I also wanted to honor a man I greatly respect and have known for over 25 years, Cardinal Renato Martino, who instituted the Path for Peace Foundation in 1991. As Archbishop Martino, he headed the Holy See Mission to the U.N. for 16 years. Some of those years were in the mid-1990s, a time when I was a member of the Holy See delegations to four international conferences: Cairo, September 1994; Copenhagen, March 1995, Beijing, September 1995 and Istanbul, June 1996.

Last night we were all asked to turn off our phones, so I have no personal photos of Abp. Gabriele Caccia, head of the Holy See Mission to the United Nations and president of the Path to Peace Foundation, or King Abdullah or Queen Rania on the dais for the awards and speeches. I hope to have more photos from the official photographer and also will try to get the full text of King Abdullah’s memorable talk, interrupted numerous times by applause.

In the meantime, here is a great story and photo from the king’s official website: King at New York award ceremony: Our journey on path to peace must travel through Jerusalem | King Abdullah II Official Website

So often, when people say to me “God bless you,” my reply is “He really has!” And now you know one more reason why I feel that way!

ON FEAST OF ST. DAMIEN, HONOLULU DIOCESE OPENS CAUSE OF JOSEPH DUTTON

Exactly one year ago, I posted the following blog that features one of my favorite saints, St. Damien of Moloka’i, whose feast is today. At the time, I was about to leave for Chicago for the ordination of a young man who now, this coming Sunday, will celebrate his first anniversary as Fr. Ryan Brady! Congratulations, dear Ryan! May God continue to bless you and to bless us through you! SAINT OF THE DAY: SAINT DAMIEN OF MOLOKA’I’ | Joan’s Rome (wordpress.com)

The Collect for today’s Mass:

“Father of mercy, who gave us in Saint Damien a shining witness of love for the poorest and most abandoned, grant that, by his intercession, as faithful witnesses of the heart of your Son Jesus, we too may be servants of the most needy and rejected.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.”

Today is another very big day in the diocese of Honolulu!

Following is a letter from Honolulu Bishop Larry Silva regarding the opening of the diocesan phase of the cause for canonization of Servant of God Joseph Dutton. As you know from reading his story, Joseph Dutton worked for 44 years, half of his life, alongside Fr. Damien and Mother Marianne Cope, both now saints, with the victims of leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, who had been exiled to the peninsula of Kalaupapa on the island of Moloka’i.

Several years ago I was asked to become a member of the diocesan guild for the cause of canonization of Joseph Dutton. It has been a joy to work with the incredible members of this guild and to have reached such a high point as today’s Mass. I usually attend one guild meeting a year in person but Covid, and some restrictions in Hawaii, kept me from visiting in 2020 and 2021. I am hoping to remedy that this year!

From Bishop Silva:

“On Tuesday, May 10, 2022, I will celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at 6:00 p.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace1184 Bishop Street, Honolulu, Hawaii. It is the Memorial of St. Damien DeVeuster. At the end of the Mass, there will be a short ceremony to formally open the Diocesan Inquiry Phase of the cause of Servant of God Joseph Dutton. The members of the Joseph Dutton Guild will be present, and the officials who will play various roles in the investigation of the cause will take their oaths of office.

“It should be noted that beatification and canonization in the Catholic Church is a rigorous process, and there is no guarantee that the process will finally result in Joseph Dutton’s beatification or canonization. Nevertheless, many of the faithful in the Diocese of Honolulu and in other parts of the world have spoken favorably and are hopeful that Joseph Dutton’s holiness of life will be deemed by the Church to be worthy of public veneration and imitation. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will guide this process to its completion according to the will of God and for the good of his holy Church.”

I will be in Honolulu in spirit and prayer as my Hawaii brothers and sisters celebrate this important milestone!

And, as things move along, I will bring you updates!

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS SOLIDARITY HEALTH SHARE (PART II)

The Lord and weather willing, I will be off tomorrow to New York for a few days with the highlight of my visit being the May 9th Path to Peace Foundation dinner that is offered annually by the Holy See Mission to the United Nations.

The Foundation was instituted in 1991 by Archbishop (now Cardinal) Renato Martino who was the Vatican’s point man – the apostolic nuncio – to the U.N. for 16 years, I was honored to be a member of four Holy See delegations to international United Nations conferences when I worked at the Vatican: Cairo 1994, Copenhagen 1995, Beijing 1995 and Istanbul 1996, three of which were led by Abp. Martino. Mary Ann Glendon led the September 1995 delegation to Beijing for the U.N. conference on women and Abp. Martino was adjunct head of delegation.

Those were truly amazing times for me, personally and professionally.

The president of the foundation is always the apostolic nuncio and permanent observer to the United Nations. Currently that is Archbishop Gabriele Caccia. I’ve been blessed to know him for many years as well.

As the foundation website notes, at a special event held each year the Path to Peace Foundation honors an individual whose life and work have dramatically affected the world community for the better. The first Path to Peace Award was bestowed in 1993 upon H.E. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Secretary General of the United Nations. The honorees this year are King Abdullah of Jordan and his wife, and Queen Rania.

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS SOLIDARITY HEALTH SHARE (PART II)

Join me on Vatican Insider this weekend when my guest, Brad Hahn, CEO of Solidarity Health Share, returns in Part II to tell us more about this community that supports you and your family by lowering your medical bills, providing you with a team of care professionals to help you navigate the health care system, and giving you peace of mind knowing your health care dollars are used ethically. Learn of the challenges facing health care providers and how solidarity helps families in their own health challenges. Brad is a lawyer and has worked for decades in the Phoenix, Arizona area.  (photo taken after lunch at the marvelous Taverna Agape)

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: go to https://www.ewtn.com/radio/audio-archive and write the name of the guest for whom you are searching in the SEARCH box. Below that, will appear “Vatican Insider” – click on that and the link to that particular episode will appear.

POPE TO UISG: RECOGNIZE YOUR OWN VULNERABILITY AND THAT OF OTHERS

Pope Francis this morning received participants in the plenary assembly of the International Union of Superiors General in the Paul VI Hall. The speech that he had prepared was handed over to his guests and he spoke off the cuff. Thursday was the first time Pope Francis appeared in public in a wheel chair to protect his right knee for which he has received injections. However, he sat in a chair at a table as he addressed the superiors.

Arriving in the Paul VI Hall (photo Daniel Ibanez EWTN)

Matteo Bruni, head of the press office, chatted briefly with journalists this morning and, while not making an official statement about Pope Francis’ use today of a wheelchair, he did note how doctors have advised the Pope to rest the knee as much as possible. It seems probable that the Pope has already used the wheelchair to cover certain distances. Regarding treatment, he said the Pope did have an injection on the knee to help alleviate the pain. Bruni said “it is difficult to make predictions about future papal activities.”

However, a Holy See Press Office bulletin today announced that the Holy Father will preside at the Eucharistic celebration with rite of canonization scheduled for Sunday, May 15 at 10am in St. Peter’s Square.

POPE TO UISG: RECOGNIZE YOUR OWN VULNERABILITY AND THAT OF OTHERS

In an address to the International Union of General Superiors (UISG), Pope Francis invited them to reflect on St. Peter and Mary Magdalene in order to put themselves at the service of others. He also encouraged women religious to make their own synodal journey. (Vatican media text and 2 photos)

This week hundreds of superiors general have been exploring the theme “Embracing Vulnerability on the Synodal Journey,” during their plenary assembly.

And it was on this theme that Pope Francis focused when he addressed participants on Thursday in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall.

The Pope dwelt on some points for their discernment centred around two scenes from the Gospel.

Vulnerability and service

The first is when Jesus washes Peter’s feet at the Last Supper.

The Pope told those gathered that contemplating this scene “leads us to recognise both Peter’s vulnerability and the vulnerability that Jesus assumes in order to go out to meet him.”

“Peter finds it difficult to accept that he needs a change in his mentality, a change of heart, that he must allow himself to have his feet washed in order to be able to wash the feet of his brothers and sisters,” he said.

By going out to meet him, explained Pope Francis, “the Son of God places himself in a vulnerable position, in the position of a servant, showing how the life of Jesus can only be understood through service.”

Together with Peter, the Pope underlined, “the Church learns from her Master that, in order to be able to give her life in service to others, she is invited to recognise and accept her own fragility and, from there, to bow down to the fragility of others.”

Pope Francis invited the superiors general to animate the life of their congregations and accompany discernment in their communities, “to enter into this scene of the washing of feet, walking this path of the Church, and to live their authority as service.”

The Pope also told the sisters that religious life today recognises its vulnerability, even if it sometimes accepts it with difficulty.

He went on to say that the place the Son of God wants to occupy by placing himself at the feet of humanity “is a theological space.”

“Like Peter and with Peter, we are now called, after recognising our vulnerability, to ask ourselves what are the new vulnerabilities before which we, as consecrated men and women, must lower ourselves today.”

He also called on them to approach “the feet of wounded humanity” beginning with the sisters in their communities.

In the second Gospel scene from Luke, Mary Magdalene is the protagonist.  “She knows very well what it means to move from a messy and fragile life to a life centred on Jesus and the service of proclamation,” the Pope said.

The Synodal path

Turning his attention to the synodal path, the Pope considered what is the contribution that the Church expects from religious life in the synodal journey of the Church.

He told those gathered that, “if the synod is above all an important moment of listening and discernment, the most important contribution you can make is to participate in reflection and discernment.”

“Throughout this synodal process, be builders of communion, remembering the life and mission of Jesus.”

He also stressed the importance of congregations making their own synodal journey.

Concluding his address, Pope Francis said he was counting on the sisters “to accompany God’s holy people in this synodal process, as experts in building communion, in fostering listening and discernment.”

He also expressed the hope that the “synodal process that we are living in the Church may also take place within your institutes, where young and old exchange their wisdom and visions of consecrated life.”

Finally, the Pope acknowledged the concern about a lack of vocations and about ageing. On these issues, he said, “the important thing is always to be able to give a faithful and creative response to the Lord. Welcome the time in which we live as a gift from God, a kairos, for nothing escapes his hand.”

 

FAITH, LIVED OUT FULLY BY THE ELDERLY, IS A POWERFUL WITNESS FOR THE YOUNG

FAITH, LIVED OUT FULLY BY THE ELDERLY, IS A POWERFUL WITNESS FOR THE YOUNG

Before starting the catechesis at today’s general audience, Pope Francis was driven around a sun-splashed St. Peter’s Square for just over 10 minutes, seated in a swivel chair in the white, open jeep. Remaining seated due to his painful knee, for which he is being treated, he waved nonstop to the pilgrims and occasionally received an infant or toddler whom he hugged and kissed. (vatican photos)

Arriving at the raised platform, the Holy Father began the catechesis, saying, “In our continuing catechesis on the meaning and value of old age in the light of God’s word, we now consider the example of Eleazar, as found in the Second Book of Maccabees.

“At a time of violent persecution, the Jewish people were being forced under pain of death to eat meat sacrificed to idols. As an elderly and respected member of the community, Eleazar was told that if he merely pretended to do so, his life would be spared. Rather than betray his faith in God, Eleazar preferred death. His witness to the truth and dignity of the faith, even at the cost of his life, thus served as a powerful example to the young. Eleazar showed that faith is not an abstract idea or a set of rules to be followed, but a commitment of one’s entire being to God.”

“The central point is this,” Francis explained. “Dishonoring the faith in old age, in order to gain a handful of days, cannot be compared with the legacy it must leave to the young, for entire generations to come. But well-done Eleazar! An old man who has lived in the coherence of his faith for a whole lifetime, and who now adapts himself to feigning repudiation of it, condemns the new generation to thinking that the whole faith has been a sham, an outer covering that can be abandoned, imagining that it can be preserved interiorly!”

Pope Francis stressed that “the effect of such an external trivialization would be devastating for the inner life of young people. But the consistency of this man who considers the young! He considers his future legacy, he thinks of his people.”

Francis emphasized that, “in our own day, the witness of the elderly to a clear and consistent practice of the faith can counter the powerful cultural forces that would dismiss the faith as outmoded or irrelevant. By showing the dignity of a life of faith expressed in community worship and acts of charity, the elderly can help to strengthen the fabric of society and offer the young a model of integrity and fidelity valid for every age.”

Pope Francis, who is 85, said, “the practice of faith is not the symbol of our weakness, no, but rather the sign of its strength. We are no longer youngsters. We were not kidding around when we set out on the Lord’s path!”

“Dear elderly brothers and sisters, not to say old,” the Pope concluded, “we are in the same group. Please look at the young people: they are watching us. …. Young people are watching us and our consistency can open up a beautiful path of life for them. Hypocrisy, on the other hand, will do so much harm. Let us pray for one another. May God bless all of us old people. Thank you.”

POPE FRANCIS ORDERED TO REST TO ALLEVIATE KNEE PAIN – POPE’S MAY PRAYER INTENTION: “FOR FAITH-FILLED YOUNG PEOPLE”

POPE FRANCIS ORDERED TO REST TO ALLEVIATE KNEE PAIN

As I write, there has been no word from the Holy See Press Office and no published bulletin or statement on the intervention Pope Francis was to have today on his right knee to alleviate the debilitating pain he has undergone in recent months due to a ligament issue.

Vatican News, however, in its story today entitled “Pope Francis: ‘I am ready to meet Putin in Moscow,’ did start off with these words: “I have a torn ligament; I will have an operation with infiltrations and we will see… I’ve been like this for a long time; I can’t walk. There was a time when popes used to go with the gestatorial chair. It requires a little humiliation.”

“This is how Pope Francis justified the fact that he could not get up to greet Luciano Fontana and the deputy director Fiorenza Sarzanini of the Corriere della Sera, whom he received at the Casa Santa Marta for an interview that the newspaper published on Tuesday.” Pope Francis: ‘I am ready to meet Putin in Moscow’ – Vatican News

Earlier today, on Twitter and Facebook, I posted the CNA (Catholic News Agency) news story about that intervention: Pope Francis to undergo medical procedure for ‘torn ligament’ in knee | Catholic News Agency

Following is a report published by Aleteia that is based on news from the Argentinian newspaper Clarin: Pope Francis’ health: he is ordered ten days of total rest and his right knee infiltrated (clarin.com):

POPE’S DOCTOR IMPOSES 10 DAYS OF TOTAL REST AND AN INFILTRATION FOR HIS RIGHT KNEE

While Pope Francis’ knee has been the subject of many articles for several months, forcing him to cancel trips and lighten his schedule, the Argentine newspaper Clarin provides details on the health of the Pontiff. For now, his doctors have ruled out any surgical intervention, but the Pope must remain at absolute rest and must undergo a “robust [joint] infiltration” to reduce the swelling of the ligaments, reveals the media outlet.

According to orthopedist Francesco Bove, president of the Foundation for the Fight Against Osteoarthritis and Osteoporosis in Italy, the osteoarthritis, from which the Pope suffers, comes from an operation he underwent in 1994 in Buenos Aires, when he was fitted with a prosthesis in his right hip. “The habit of priests and nuns to pray on their knees may have aggravated his case,” he explains. The professor fears that “if time passes without improvement, surgery (will be) necessary.” Especially when one considers the program of apostolic journeys that are being studied from June onwards: Lebanon, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Canada and Kazakhstan. (Clarin, Spanish)

POPE’S MAY PRAYER INTENTION: “FOR FAITH-FILLED YOUNG PEOPLE”

Pope Francis releases his prayer intention for the month of May, and urges everyone to pray for young Catholics to be courageous in their response to God’s call. For summary and video: Pope’s May prayer intention: ‘For faith-filled young people’ – Vatican News