POPE FRANCIS TO ROTA: “THE ANNULMENT PROCESS MUST BE KEPT SEPARATE FROM ECONOMIC INTERESTS”
Before arriving in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly general audience, Pope Francis made two stops in the Paul VI Hall: the first to speak to participants in the course on marriage organized by the Roman Rota, and the second to greet the faithful who are ill or disabled who were inside today because of the threat of rain.
In his remarks to those taking the Roman Rota course, Francis noted that during the recent synod of bishops on the family, a number of bishops pointed to the need for annulment procedures to be streamlined for reasons of justice. He mentioned the many people who wait for years for a judgment to be reached, saying, “sometimes the procedures are very long and difficult, which does not help matters, and people give up.” Some might even leave the Church.
The Holy Father emphasized the importance of the course his guests were taking and the need to be careful to ensure that the procedures do not become linked to economic interests, referring to public scandals. He noted that during the Synod some proposals had been made regarding the costs of the process. “When spiritual interest is attached to economic interests, then it not a matter of God.” He said, “Mother Church has enough generosity to be able to provide justice freely, as we are freely justified by Jesus Christ. This point is important – these two issues must be separate.”
The Tribunal of the Roman Rota is the Court of Appeals of the universal Church for the Latin Church, for the Oriental Churches, and for the Ecclesiastical Tribunal of Vatican City. The origins of this tribunal date back to the 12th century. The name “Rota” is derived from the circular enclosure in which the auditors sat when they gathered to judge cases.
BISHOPS ARE AT SERVICE OF “SPIRITUAL MOTHERHOOD” OF THE CHURCH
On his second stop this morning in the Paul VI Hall, before going to St. Peter’s Square for the weekly general audience, Pope Francis briefly visited pilgrims who were in some way ill, suffering or disabled, together with their families and care-givers. “You can stay here without getting wet,” he said, referring to the leaden skies over Rome and the threat of rain. “It is dangerous, it might rain, it might not rain, we just don’t know!” The Pope and faithful then recited the Haily Mary, and he said afterwards, “Don’t forget to pray for me as I pray for you.”
Pope Francis was then taken by jeep to St. Peter’s Square, circling the great piazza and greeting the faithful. The catechesis began promptly at 10, under leaden skies and a very strong wind that blew the papal cape around his face a few times and could also be heard in microphones broadcasting the audience.
The Holy Father’s continuing catechesis on the Church today focussed on her hierarchy. He said, “we have seen that the Holy Spirit constantly bestows his gifts in building up the Body of Christ. Among these gifts are the ordained ministries. Through the sacrament of Holy Orders, bishops, priests and deacons are called to guide and protect Christ’s flock, above all though the celebration of the sacraments that give us new life in Christ.”
The Pope asked those present to pray for bishops, that they may be men of virtue: “It isn’t easy,” he noted. “We are all sinners, so pray for us”.
“The Church is both hierarchical and maternal,” he explained. “Her ordained ministries are at the service of her spiritual motherhood. This is especially clear in the case of bishops, who are called to lead the Christian community as living signs of the Lord’s presence in our midst. Like the Apostles whose successors they are, the Bishops form one college in communion with the Pope. This collegiality is seen not only in special assemblies like the recent Synod but also in the daily communion of Bishops throughout the world.”
Continuing, but in unscripted remarks, Francis said, “We understand, therefore, that it is not a position of prestige, an honorary role. The Bishop is not an honorary role it is a service. Jesus wanted it this way. There should not be room in the church for a worldly mentality. A worldly mentality speaks of a man who has an ‘ecclesiastical career and has become a bishop’. There should be no place for such a mentality in the Church. The Bishop serves, it is not a position of honor, to boast about.”
He said the many bishops who are saints show us that one does not seek this ministry, one does not ask for it, it cannot be bought, one accepts it in obedience, not in an attempt to climb higher but to lower oneself, just as Jesus “humbled himself and became obedient unto to death, even death on a cross.” The Pope added, “It is sad when we see a man who seeks this office and does all he can to get it and when he gets it does not serve, instead goes around like a peacock and lives only for his vanity”.
The Holy Father stated that, “bishops are also called to express one single college, gathered around the Pope, who is the guardian and guarantor of this profound communion that was so dear to Jesus and His apostles. … It is beautiful when the bishops, with the Pope, express this collegiality, despite living in places, cultures, sensibilities and traditions that are different and distant from each other.”
POPE FRANCIS ANNOUNCES 2015 VISIT TO SHROUD OF TURIN
As he greeted the pilgrims after the general audience catechesis and summaries in different languages, Pope Francis said, “I am pleased to announce that, God willing, next June 21 I will go on pilgrimage to Turin to venerate the Holy Shroud and to honor Saint John Bosco on the occasion of the bicentennial of his birth.”
The Shroud, with its outline of a supine male figure is believed to be the burial cloth that wrapped the body of Jesus as he lay in the tomb following his crucifixion. It will be displayed for veneration by the faithful for just over two months, from April 19 to June 24, 2015 in Turin’s cathedral. The theme of the exposition is “The Greatest Love.”
The 14 foot 3 inch by 3 and a half-foot linen cloth in a fishbone weave shows the frontal and dorsal images of a crucified man, about 5 foot 10 inches in height, whose body shows signs of having been whipped and on whose head was placed a helmet-like crown of thorns. The burial cloth or Shroud has bloodstains as well as a parallel set of burn marks that run down the sides of the cloth. These appeared when the silver reliquary in which the Shroud was kept in a chapel in France was partially burned in a fire and molten silver fell onto the cloth that was folded eight times over – thus the symmetrical burn marks. It also shows watermarks from the water used to douse that fire on December 4, 1532. From April 14 to May 2, 1534 the Poor Clare Sisters of Chambery tried to mend the Shroud by sewing on triangular patches of fabric.
The 2015 viewing will be the 25th time since the Shroud was transferred from Chambery, France to Turin in 1578 by Duke Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy. The Shroud was in the Savoy family until 1983 when King Umberto II, the last Duke of Savoy who was deposed in 1946 and died in 1983, bequeathed the linen to the Holy See but the Pope left the relic in the care of the Archbishop of Turin. It was on display in 1978 to mark the fourth centenary of its transfer to Turin, and again in 1998 on the occasions of the 500th anniversary of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Turin and the centennial of the first photograph of the Shroud taken in 1898 by Secondo Pia, a photograph whose negative revealed the front and dorsal blood-stained images of a crucified man who had been whipped and whose head was covered with a crown of thorns. In recent decades dozens of tests have been done on very small pieces or threads of the linen that the archbishop of Turin allowed to be taken from the Shroud. Carbon dating tests were done in 1988 but have basically proved inconclusive. Most of the evidence, including coins from a Roman era that cover the eyes of the Man of the Shroud, traces of many types of pollens, including one now extinct pollen found only in Palestine two millennia ago, that would bear out the linen’s journey from the Middle East through modern day Turkey and Syria to France and Italy, indicates this piece of linen is 2000 years old. It does not prove the Man was Jesus.
No Pope has ever made a definitive pronouncement about the Shroud. Pope Francis had expressed his desire to venerate the Shroud, and Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin said today in a press conference that the longer time frame was chosen to facilitate a visit by the Holy Father. Francis did say in the early days of his papacy that, “the Man of the Shroud invites us to contemplate Jesus of Nazareth. ….(it is an image that) “speaks to our heart and moves us to climb the hill of Calvary, to look upon the wood of the Cross, and to immerse ourselves in the eloquent silence of love.”
In 2015 the diocese of Turin will also be marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of Saint John Bosco, patron of Catholic schools.
Presenters at today’s press conference, according to a VIS report, noted that this will be the third time the Shroud has been displayed to the public during this millennium. The event will focus on two themes: the young, and those who suffer. It is precisely for this reason that the Pope has allowed the solemn exposition, which coincides with the Jubilee for the 200th anniversary of the birth of St. John Bosco.
As on previous occasions, special attention will be paid to the sick who visit the Holy Shroud. The pastoral ministry for healthcare in Turin will make two reception centers available for pilgrims and carer-givers. In addition, with the collaboration of more than 3500 volunteers, moments of prayer will be held, and a confessional service in different languages will be available in locations in the area near the Cathedral.
The visit will be free of charge but booking is obligatory, to enable the effective management of the flow of pilgrims. Booking is online, at www.sindone.org
I took the following photos on my 2010 visit to Turin:
The church was in almost total darkness and it took me about 10 minutes to acclimate myself. No flashes were allowed inside the church. The side aisles are closed off and people who come in to pray can only go half way up the center aisle – the rest is set off for visitors with reservations. However, no matter were you are in the church, you can see the Shroud – lit from behind, it is this white glowing object above the main altar.
I spent quite some time in prayer, having promised many people I would pray for their special intentions. I spent quite some time in reflection, looking at the Shroud, thinking of what I had studied and learned about this 2000-year old piece of cloth, thinking of the Man whose body it wrapped.
Jesus asked His disciples: “And who do you say I am?”
I believe that linen wrapped Our Lord’s body, Jesus’ body.
NEW NORMS ON RESIGNATIONS OF BISHOPS, CURIAL OFFICIALS
On November 3, Pope Francis met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and approved new norms that modify the presentation and acceptance of resignations from pastoral ministry by diocesan bishops and from offices of the Roman Curia by those named by pontifical appointment. The Pope indicated these norms would enter into effect today.
The text is as follows:
Art. 1: The current discipline in the Latin Church and in the “sui iuris” Oriental Churches, by which diocesan and eparchal Bishops, and those held to be of equivalent office in accordance with canons 381 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law and 313 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, as well as coadjutor and auxiliary Bishops, are invited to present the resignation from their pastoral office upon reaching the age of seventy-five years, is confirmed.
Art. 2: Resignation from the aforementioned pastoral offices is effective only from the moment in which it is accepted by the legitimate Authorities.
Art .3: With the acceptance of the resignation from the aforementioned offices, the interested parties cease to hold any other office at national level conferred for a period determined in concomitance with the aforementioned pastoral office.
Art. 4: The gesture of a Bishop who, by motives of love or the wish to offer a better service to the community, considers it necessary to resign from the role of Pastor before reaching the age of seventy-five on account of illness or other serious reasons, is to be deemed worthy of ecclesial appreciation. In such cases, the faithful are requested to demonstrate solidarity and understanding for their former Pastor, providing punctual assistance consistent with the principles of charity and justice, in accordance with canon 402 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
Art. 5: In some particular circumstances, the competent Authorities may deem it necessary to request that a Bishop present his resignation from pastoral office, after informing him of the cause for this request, and listening closely to his reasons, in fraternal dialogue.
Art. 6: Cardinals serving as Heads of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia and other Cardinals holding office by pontifical nomination are also required, upon the completion of their seventy-fifth year of life, to present their resignation from office to the Pope, who, after full consideration, will proceed.