SWISS GUARDS HAVE NEW COMMANDER – POPE FRANCIS PAYS SURPRISE VISIT TO MIGRANT CAMP – POPE FRANCIS, IN HOMILY, SAYS DEVIL IS “FATHER OF HATE, OF LIES,” WHO SEEKS DISUNITY – VATICAN COMPLETES WORK ON SHOWERS FOR HOMELESS

From Fr. Tom Rosica, English-language assistant to Fr. Federico Lombardi, head of the Holy See Press Office:  Prayers for Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, RSM

After a nearly 30-year career as a journalist in Washington, D.C. and Rome, working with Catholic News Service, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and most recently AMERICA Magazine, Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, who is 67, has returned to the Sisters of Mercy convent in Albany, New York, to live out her final days with metastatic breast cancer.  Kindly remember this wonderful woman and communicator in your prayers. Click here for a Sisters of Mercy profile of Mary Ann, friend to all of us accredited at the Holy See Press Office, and countless more in the U.S.: http://www.sistersofmercy.org/blog/2015/02/06/facing-terminal-illness-with-mercy-part-ii/?utm_source=t&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=cwm

This is a big week for “red hats” here in Rome, starting today with the eighth meeting of the Council of 9 Cardinals with the Pope at the Santa Marta residence. The meeting will  go to Wednesday, February 11, feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and World Day of the Sick. The following two days – February 12 and 13 – the College of Cardinals will hold their consistory in the Synod Hall and will discuss the reform of the Roman Curia being studied by Francis and C9 Council.

This coming weekend, new members will be joining the College of Cardinals as the Holy Father creates 20 new cardinals on Saturday, February 14 (15 of whom are under age 80 and therefore cardinal electors). That afternoon, the new cardinals will greet friends and relatives in both the Paul VI Hall and rooms of the Apostolic Palace. Sunday, the Pope and new eminences will concelebrate Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

And now, some of the stories from this weekend, especially Pope Francis’ unscripted stop Sunday at a migrant camp on his way to say Mass in a Roman parish!

SWISS GUARDS HAVE NEW COMMANDER

The Vatican announced that Pope Francis has appointed Lieutenant Colonel Christoph Graf as the new commander of the Pontifical Swiss Guard. Graf, who joined the guards in 1987, succeeds Colonel Daniel Anrig, who retired last month and had been commander since 2008. The Swiss Guards were formed in 1506 by Pope Julius II to protect the person of the Pope and the security of the Apostolic Palace.

Cardinal Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila, the Philippines, is in Rome for the events this week with the College of Cardinals. He presided at Mass Sunday morning for the new commander and fellow guards in the Swiss Guard Chapel. Click on the Swiss Guards Facebook page to see some photos: https://www.facebook.com/gsp1506

POPE FRANCIS PAYS SURPRISE VISIT TO MIGRANT CAMP

Late afternoon Sunday, on his way to the Roman parish San Michele Arcangelo in the Roman Pietralata neighborhood to say Mass, Pope Francis – no surprise! – made an impromptu visit to a migrant shantytown. The papal car stopped and the Pope got out, accompanied by the papal photographer and head of security and just walke through a gate, unannounced. The camp is called Campo Arcobaleno or Camp Rainbow and is only about 300 yards from the parish.

POPE FRANCIS - SHANTYTOWN

According to a report by Vatican Radio, “he got out of the car and people were shocked when they saw him in front of their shacks,” said Father Aristide Sana, the pastor of the parish who quickly traveled to the camp when he got word of the visit. Pope Francis received a boisterous welcome.

“Viva il Papa!” the crowd shouted, engulfing the Pope, chanting and shaking his hand.  Pope Francis asked how many spoke Spanish, and the crowd shouted out “All of us!” Actually, though many of the residents are from Peru and Ecuador, many others were from Eritrea, Ukraine, Russia, and other parts of the world. However. In what ever language, they joined the Pope in his request to pray the Our Father together in Spanish.

It was only a ten-minute visit, one the migrants will never forget, and Pope Francis seemed totally delighted at the occasion.

To enjoy that encounter with the Pope, here is a video I also posted on my Facebook page: http://www.romereports.com/pg160276-a-look-at-the-pope-s-powerful-visit-to-an-immigrant-shantytown-en

POPE FRANCIS, IN HOMILY, SAYS DEVIL IS “FATHER OF HATE, OF LIES,” WHO SEEKS DISUNITY

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday evening visited the parish of San Michele Arcangelo in the eastern Roman district of Pietralata, on the periphery of Rome and home to 8,000 families. After arriving at the parish hall, Pope Francis’ first stop was to meet with a group of homeless people who are cared for by the Sant’Egidio Community.

“The fact that people do not know your name, and call you ‘homeless’ and you carry this: It is your cross, and your patience,” said Pope Francis. “But there is something in the heart of all of you – of this, please be assured – there is the Holy Spirit.”

He then held a meeting with parents whose children had been baptized in the previous year, and he asked them to teach the Faith well, lamenting that there are “Christian children who cannot make the sign of the cross.”

In his meeting with older children, many of whom were part of the Scouting movement, Pope Francis pointed out that wars are not only those – and he asked them to make a list – that kill children in Iraq, Ukraine, and Africa. Wars are come about much earlier in people who do not possess God.

“Who is the father of war?” Pope Francis asked. “The devil!” the children answered.

Pope Francis said the devil is the “father of hate,” “the father of lies,” who seeks disunity.

“But God wants unity,” Pope Francis said. “If in your heart you feel jealousy, this is the beginning of war. Jealousies are not of God.”

And this is the theme Pope Francis continued during his homily at Mass.

“It is sad when in a family, brothers do not speak because of something stupid,” Pope Francis said.

“Because the devil takes stupidity and makes a world,” he continued. “Then these enmities continue and multiply for years.  It destroys the family: Parents suffer because their children do not speak to each other, or with the wife of a son…And so this jealousy and envy, it is sowed by the devil. And the only one who can drive out demons is Jesus.  The only one who can heal these things is Jesus. So to each of you: Have yourself healed by Jesus.”

As he often does during parish visits, he urged the congregation to listen to Jesus in the Gospel, to read a passage and ask themselves, what does it say to me?

“Have this daily contact with the Gospel,” Pope Francis said.  “Pray with the Gospel.”

VATICAN COMPLETES WORK ON SHOWERS FOR HOMELESS

(Vatican Radio) Work has now been completed on the building of three showers and a barber’s booth for the homeless under the colonnades of St Peter’s Square. The shower unit was commissioned by Pope Francis after learning from his Almoner that homeless people in Rome lacked places where to wash themselves or have their hair cut. (AP/L’Osservatore Romano pool photos)

HOMELESS SHOWERS - AP Photo(L'Osservatore Romano pool

The 3 showers and the barber’s booth have been installed in an existing lavatory block used by pilgrims and tourists visiting the Vatican area that was completely refurbished for this purpose. The showers will be available every day, except on Wednesday during the Pope’s general audience and when celebrations take place, either in St Peter’s Basilica or in the Square.

HOMELESS SHOWERS  -  2

The barber service will be available on Monday between 9am and 3pm.  A number of barbers in Rome have volunteered to offer their services as well as final-year students from a hairdressing school in Rome.  Sisters from Mother’s Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity Order will be among those helping to welcome the homeless who come to use the showers.

Each of the homeless people using the shower units will receive two free kits, a complete change of underwear and a kit containing towel, soap, toothpaste and brush, deodorant plus razor and shaving cream for the men. Many of the articles have been offered free of charge by various firms and private individuals who have wanted to show their solidarity with this project. The Pope’s Almoner will be responsible for purchasing, as needed, future supplies using money raised from the selling of parchments with a Papal Blessing.

The Vatican has called for ten nearby parishes to install showers as well. The bill will be paid with money from the Pope’s charity fund.

COMMISSION FOR PROTECTION OF MINORS ISSUES STATEMENT AFTER 3-DAY MEETING – CARDINAL O’MALLEY: COMMISSION ON SEX ABUSE TO STRESS BISHOPS’ ACCOUNTABILITY

Nothing can bring a person out of a four-day battle with a mini-flu faster than a journalistic deadline! I actually wanted to write about the following important stories as they happened over the weekend (this is the first of two columns I will post today), but I could not even sit at a keyboard so this is catch-up Monday (although I actually rested most of the day) with the help of news.va. Lots of news these past days and, as you will see, lots more to come the rest of the week, I’m dedicating this column to the just-concluded three-day meeting of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Other weekend news to come soon.

COMMISSION FOR PROTECTION OF MINORS ISSUES STATEMENT AFTER 3-DAY MEETING

The members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors gathered in Plenary Assembly February 6-8, in the Vatican. The following took part: Cardinal Sean O’MALLEY, OFM Cap. (United States), President; Mons. Robert OLIVER (United States), Secretary; Rev. Luis Manuel ALI HERRERA (Colombia); Catherine BONNET (France); Marie COLLINS (Ireland); Gabriel DY-LIACCO (Philippines); Sheila HOLLINS (England); Bill KILGALLON (New Zealand); Sr. Kayula LESA, MSC (Zambia); Sr. Hermenegild MAKORO, CPS (Zimbabwe); Kathleen MCCORMACK (Australia); Claudio PAPALE (Italy); Peter SAUNDERS (England); Hanna SUCHOCKA (Poland); Krysten WINTER-GREEN (United States); Rev. Humberto Miguel YÁÑEZ, SJ (Argentina) and Rev. Hans ZOLLNER, SJ (Germany).

COMMISSION ON ABUSE-MEMBERS

This year’s meeting was the first opportunity for all 17 members of the recently expanded Commission to come together and share their progress in the task entrusted them by the Holy Father, namely to advise him in the safeguarding and protection of minors in the Church.

During the meetings, members presented reports from their Working Groups of experts, developed over the past year. The Commission then completed their recommendations regarding the formal structure of the Commission and agreed upon several proposals to submit to the Holy Father for consideration.

The Working Groups are an integral part of the Commission’s working structure. Between Plenary Sessions, these groups bring forward research and projects in areas that are central to the mission of making the Church ‘a safe home’ for children, adolescents, and vulnerable adults. These include: pastoral care for survivors and their families, education, guidelines in best practice, formation to the priesthood and religious life, ecclesial and civil norms governing allegations of abuse, and the accountability of people in positions of responsibility within the Church when dealing with allegations of abuse.

The Commission is keenly aware that the issue of accountability is of major importance. In its Assembly, members agreed on an initial proposal to submit to Pope Francis for consideration. Moreover, the Commission is developing processes to ensure accountability for everyone in the Church – clergy, religious, and laity – who work with minors. Part of ensuring accountability is raising awareness and understanding at all levels of the Church regarding the seriousness and urgency in implementing correct safeguarding procedures. To this end, the Commission also agreed to develop seminars to educate Church leadership in the area of the protection of minors.

Following on from the Holy Father’s Letter to Presidents of the Episcopal Conferences and to Superiors of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, dated February 2, the Commission looks forward to collaborating with churches on a local level in making its expertise available to ensure best practices in guidelines for the protection of minors.

The Commission is also preparing materials for a Day of Prayer for all those who have been harmed by sexual abuse. This will underscore our responsibility to work for spiritual healing and also help raise awareness among the Catholic community about the scourge of the abuse of minors.

Pope Francis writes in his letter to Church leaders, “families need to know that the Church is making every effort to protect their children”. Conscious of the gravity of our task to advise the Holy Father in this effort, we ask you to support our work with prayer. (Vatican Radio)

CARDINAL O’MALLEY: COMMISSION ON SEX ABUSE TO STRESS BISHOPS’ ACCOUNTABILITY

(Vatican Radio) – Speaking to the press on Saturday, February 7, Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, said the 17-member Commission’s primary role is to help bishops conferences not just respond to accusations but also to protect minors and vulnerable adults.

To do this the Commission is setting up working groups, with outside consultants, on issues such as outreach to victims, the nature of abuse, Church law governing cases and accountability.

Cardinal O’ Malley stressed that key to all of the Commissions’ work is collaboration with local churches around the globe and with Vatican dicasteries.  One idea being considered is workshops for people working in the Roman Curia and for new bishops who come to Rome for orientation courses.

Referring to the Holy Father’s just-issued Letter to Bishops and Religious Superiors on this very matter, Cardinal O’Malley added that each conference will be asked to name a contact person to work with the Commission for Child Protection.

Another area that comes under the Commission’s mandate is to collaborate with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in ensuring that the guidelines for child protection sent in by the bishops conferences follow best practices.

He said “96 % of bishops conferences have sent their child protection guidelines to the Vatican” adding that the Commission will “reach out” to the remaining 4%, most of whom are from developing churches that may lack the adequate resources for the task.

Here the Cardinal underlined that, without norms, bishops sometimes improvise when faced with accusations of abuse by clergy, mistakes are made and people are hurt.

In this regard, he said the child protection commission is “very, very concerned” about accountability of bishops and working on policy recommendations for the Holy Father’s approval.

These would include consequences for bishops who do not comply with child protection norms, or respond to allegations.

Cardinal O’Malley was joined Saturday at the ress office by Peter saunders, a member of the Commission from South West London.  Saunders, a survivor of abuse himself, established NAPAC, the National Association for People Abused in Childhood. He told reporters that the accountability of bishops is a central concern of Child Protection Commission, adding that he came to the Vatican “with trepidation”, but the Commission meeting has given him “hope for change.”

Saunders said, “There is a determination that what happened to me and others will not happen again.”

Also present Saturday was Sister Kayula Lesa, a Religious Sister of Charity from Zambia, who has extensive experience in education and in child protection. She added that the Church at all levels must protect all minors from abuse not just within the Church, but also in family and wider society.

To this end, the Commission will propose a Day of Prayer for survivors of abuse, for the Holy Father’s approval.