LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR APPEAL TO SUPREME COURT – ARCHBISHOP GAENSWEIN TALKS OF TWO POPES

POPE FRANCIS’ TWEET FOR THE DAY: The one who helps the sick and needy touches the flesh of Christ, alive and present in our midst.

LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR APPEAL TO SUPREME COURT

This just in from the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty:

Forced to choose faith or massive fines, nuns seek relief

JULY 23, 2015 – WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, for the second time in two years, the Little Sisters of the Poor must ask the Supreme Court to protect them from the government. The order of Catholic nuns and other non-profits have been forced to ask the Court for relief to the government’s refusal to exempt them from a regulation that makes them choose between their faith—which prohibits them from providing contraceptives—and continuing to pursue their religious mission of serving the elderly poor.

LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR

“The government has lost every single time they have made these arguments before the Supreme Court—including last year’s landmark Hobby Lobby case. One would think they would get the message and stop pressuring the Sisters,” said Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead attorney for the Little Sisters of the Poor. “The government is willing to exempt big companies like Exxon, Chevron, and Pepsi Bottling, but it won’t leave the Little Sisters alone.”

The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and leading Supreme Court advocate Paul Clement—the same legal team that won Hobby Lobby—filed the petition on behalf of the Little Sisters as well as the Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust, Christian Brothers Services, Reaching Souls International, Truett-McConnell College, and GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. They are seeking relief from a 100-page decision by the Tenth Circuit that disagrees with the ministries’ understanding of moral theology. Today’s petition is the fifth the Court has received and makes it likely the Court will decide in the upcoming term whether religious ministries, like religious for-profits, will receive protection from the Mandate.

“The Sisters consider it immoral to help the government distribute these drugs. But instead of simply exempting them, the government insists that it can take over their ministry’s employee healthcare to distribute these drugs to their employees, while dismissing the Sisters’ moral objections as irrelevant,” said Rienzi. “In America, judges and government bureaucrats have no authority to tell the Little Sisters what is moral or immoral. And the government can distribute its drugs without nuns—it has its own healthcare exchanges that can provide whatever it wants.”

“As Little Sisters of the Poor we dedicate our lives to serving the neediest in society, with love and dignity. We perform this loving ministry because of our faith and simply cannot choose between our care for the elderly poor and our faith, and we shouldn’t have to,” said Sr. Loraine Marie Maguire, Mother Provincial of the Little Sisters of the Poor. “We hope the Supreme Court will hear our case and ensure that people from diverse faiths can freely follow God’s calling in their lives.” For more, click here: http://www.becketfund.org/littlesisters-scotus-appeal/

ARCHBISHOP GAENSWEIN TALKS OF TWO POPES

Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, private secretary to Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and Prefect of the Papal Household for Pope Francis talks about the two Popes in a wide-ranging interiew done by Zenit. He is asked how he manages collaborating with two Popes, about the different personalities of each pontiff, about Benedict’s election and his reaction and then, eight years later, his resignation. He also talks about the problems the Church in Germany is experiencing.

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The archbishop also talks about the upcoming October Synod, saying it “must begin not from a particular problem, but from the main topic and that is, from ‘the evangelization of the family’. Clearly the Church doesn’t close her eyes in face of the difficulties of faithful living in difficult situations. However, the Church must give sincere answers that are oriented, not to the spirit of the times, but to the Gospel, to the Word of Jesus Christ and to the Catholic Tradition.”

Click here to read the entire interview: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/francis-is-the-only-convincing-voice-that-says-things-as-they-are

POPE, MAYORS SIGN AGREEMENT TO FIGHT ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE, TRAFFICKING – FRANCIS BLESSES CHURCH’S DAY FOR LIFE IN ENGLAND AND WALES – NEW YORK MAYOR SAYS NYC PAPAL VISIT WILL BE “EXTRAORDINARY”

POPE, MAYORS SIGN AGREEMENT TO FIGHT ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE, TRAFFICKING

Pope Francis and mayors from major cities around the world on Tuesday signed a common declaration of intent to combat environmental damage and human trafficking at the end of the first day of the two-day workshop entitled “Modern Slavery and Climate Change” organized by the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences, and by the chancellor of the academies, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo. (Photo: news.va. ANSA)

POPE MAYORS AGREEMENT

That final agreement states, among other things, that human induced climate change is a scientific reality and it’s effective control is a moral imperative for humanity It also calls for financial incentives to transition to low carbon and renewable energy and to shift public financing away from the military to urgent investments in sustainable development. The agreement notes that political leaders have a special responsibility at the December conference on climate in Paris talks to approve a bold climate agreement that confines of global warming to a safe to a limit say for humanity.

Following are excerpts from that document:

“We the undersigned have assembled at the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences to address two inter-connected dramatic emergencies: human-induced climate change, and social exclusion in the extreme forms of radical poverty, modern slavery and human trafficking.”

“On the basis of the encyclical ‘Laudato si’, we have considered the over-whelming scientific evidence regarding human-induced climate change, the loss of biodiversity, and the vulnerability of the poor to economic, social and environmental disasters. In the face of the emergencies attributable to human-induced climate change, social exclusion, and extreme poverty, we join together to declare the following:

“Human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its effective control is a moral imperative for humanity.

“In this core moral space, cities play a very vital role. All of our cultural traditions uphold the inherent dignity and social responsibility of every individual and …. affirm the beauty, wonder and inherent goodness of the natural world, and appreciate that it is a precious gift entrusted to our common care.”

“In spite of having a minimal role in the disruption of the climate, the poor and excluded face dire threats from human-induced climate change, including the increased frequency of droughts, extreme storms, heat waves, and rising sea levels. Today humanity has the technological instruments, the financial resources and the know-how to reverse climate change while also ending extreme poverty, through the application of sustainable development solutions, including the adoption of low-carbon energy systems supported by information and communications technologies.

“The financing of sustainable development….should be bolstered through new incentives for the transition towards low-carbon and renewable energy, and through the relentless pursuit of peace, which also will enable a shift of public financing from military spending to urgent investments for sustainable development.”

“The … climate summit in Paris later this year (COP21) may be the last effective opportunity to negotiate arrangements that keep human-induced warming below 2°C, and aim to stay well below 2°C for safety. .. Political leaders of all UN member States have a special responsibility to agree at COP21 to a bold climate agreement that confines global warming to a limit safe for humanity, while protecting the poor and the vulnerable from ongoing climate change that gravely endangers their lives.”

“As mayors we commit ourselves to building, in our cities and urban settlements, the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reducing their exposure to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters, which foster human trafficking and dangerous forced migration.

“At the same time, we commit ourselves to ending abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of modern slavery, which are crimes against humanity, including forced labor and prostitution, organ trafficking, and domestic servitude; and to developing national resettlement and reintegration programs that avoid the involuntary repatriation of trafficked persons.”

FRANCIS BLESSES CHURCH’S DAY FOR LIFE IN ENGLAND AND WALES

Pope Francis has sent his good wishes and support to the Catholic Church in England and Wales for this Sunday’s Day for Life, according to a press release from the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of England and Wales. The Day for Life is the day dedicated to praying for the protection of human life and raising awareness about its meaning and value at every stage and in every condition.

Britain’s Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Antonio Mennini received the letter from the Pope and conveyed it to Bishop John Sherrington who heads the Day for Life. The Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing “upon all those persons who are participating in this significant event and working in any way for the promotion of the dignity of every human person from the moment of conception until natural death.”

The Day for Life 2015 focuses on Catholic teaching about appropriate treatment at the end of life. The essential message for the Day is “How do we cherish life while we can and accept death when it comes?”

Over 300,000 postcards will be distributed to parishioners in England and Wales this weekend offering guidance about end of life decisions.

NEW YORK MAYOR SAYS NYC PAPAL VISIT WILL BE “EXTRAORDINARY”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke to reporters about Pope Francis’ upcoming trip to his city, and he had nothing but praise for the Holy Father. In its video, Rome Reports quotes the mayor as saying, “I think the emotion that the people of New York City feel for this Pope is going to manifest itself in the streets of the city. Anywhere he goes, I think you’re going to see a great outpouring of support for him.”

RR writes that, “while he does not practice any religion, the mayor has formed strong bonds with many religious communities in New York. He has become good friends with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, and they’ve worked together to prepare for the upcoming trip.”

“I think it’s going to be extraordinary,” said de Blasio of the upcoming visit. There’s tremendous energy in New York City in anticipation of the Pope’s visit. Now, it will happen during our annual U.N. week, so certainly logistically there will be a lot going on, and it’s going to take a huge effort by the city to accommodate both the papal visit and the U.N. week, but we’re ready. We’ve been in preparation now for months.”

The mayor spoke after the first day of the Vatican-sponsored conference for mayors and local officials to discuss climate change and human trafficking. Mayors de Blasio said having the Pope’s moral authority strengthened their work: “Let’s face it, having the support of His Holiness is the most encouraging thing I can think of. It’s the most empowering possibility to have the strongest moral voice in the global today calling us to action.”

The mayors signed a declaration with Pope Francis calling for national leaders to come up with a “bold climate agreement.” For his part, de Blasio also announced that his city intends to cut carbon emissions 40 percent by 2030.

 

THE WORLDS MAYORS DISCUSS CLIMATE CHANGE, POVERTY, TRAFFICKING – POPE FRANCIS TO MAYORS: CARE FOR ENVIRONMENT, FIGHT TRAFFICKING – JUBILEE TO BRING 33 MILLION PILGRIMS TO ROME

How many times in his papacy, has Pope Francis asked us: “Do you know the date of your baptism? And why not? Find out!”

Well, I’ve known ever since I was rather little that the anniversary of my baptism is today – July 21st. It was written in our family Bible, which I have right here in my office, along with a lot of other important dates!

I went to the Paul VI Hall today in search of Mayor William Bell of Birmingham, Alabama as he is attending the Vatican workshop on “Modern Slavery and Climate Change: the Commitment of the Cities.” It was a delight to meet him and I will present our conversation on “Vatican Insider”this weekend, so set aside a few minutes to listen to that on Saturday or Sunday. I’ll remind you Friday.

As I exited the Paul VI Hall and was walking towards the Petriano Gate (the entrance pilgrims use when they attend a Wednesday general audience in the Paul VI Hall), I saw a very large contruction site going up right inside the gate and next to the Vatican building housing the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. I asked a worker what it was and he said the site would be temporary bathrooms as they are fixing, remodeling, updating the bathrooms off St. Peter’s Square in preparation for the Jubilee Year.

There was some really big news today for three men and for the archdiocese of Los Angeles: Pope Francis today named three new auxiliary bishops to the archdiocese of Los Angeles in the United States. Among them was Father Robert E. Barron, the Rector of the University of St. Mary and Mundelein Seminary in Chicago. Father Barron is also the founder of the multimedia “Word on Fire Catholic Ministries”, which produces programs which have been broadcast regularly on WGN America, EWTN, Relevant Radio and the Word on Fire YouTube Channel. Also named as auxiliaries were Msgr. Joseph V. Brennan, the Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, and Irish-born Msgr. David G. O’Connell, pastor of Saint Michael Parish in Los Angeles.

FR. ROBERT BARRON

As many of you wrote on my Facebook page, the seminarians in Chicago have to be devastated so this is both a good news/bad news story. However, I am sure we will see Bishop-elect Barron on EWTN as we have great new studios on the West Coast!

Our affection for you, Fr, Robert, and our prayers, have just been doubled. As they have for the other future bishops whom I do not know but intend to know!

THE WORLDS MAYORS DISCUSS CLIMATE CHANGE, POVERTY, TRAFFICKING

(Vatican Radio)  Ways to combat climate change and its effects on society’s most vulnerable:  some sixty mayors and local administrators from around the world are brainstorming on that topic in  the Vatican Tuesday and Wednesday.  Pope Francis is expected to greet them in an audience Tuesday evening.

In his recently released environment encyclical “Laudato Si,” the Pope said caring for the Earth is an urgent moral imperative and that fossil fuel-based global warming puts the poor most at risk. Urban centers are considered some of the biggest contributors to climate change.

CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE

Hailing from cities in North and South America, Europe and from developing nations like India and Gabon, many of the officials are committed to environmentally friendly policies aimed at bringing down the carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.

The two-day Vatican climate conference comes ahead of the Paris COP-21 climate negotiations in December. Click here to see the YouTube coverage of the events.

In presenting this week’s meeting, the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences said “global warming is one of the causes of poverty and forced migrations, and it favours human trafficking, forced labour, prostitution and organ trafficking.”

Mayors and Local Administrators at the Vatican summit are expected to urge global leaders to take bold action to curb global warming, and to press for approval of the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals this fall.

Speaking to participants Tuesday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his city’s plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by a further 40 percent over the next fifteen years.  He described Pope Francis’ as “the most powerful voice on this earth for those whose voice is not being heard…he did not convene us here to accept the status quo but to indict it.”

Speaking of the fast-approaching Paris climate summit, de Blasio added, “we need to see it as the finish line of a sprint, and take every local action we can in the coming months to maximize the chance that our national governments will act boldly.”

Governor Jerry Brown, whose state of California has enacted some of the most stringent carbon emissions policies in the U.S., decried “powerful” opposition groups at home which deny global warming and “spend billions on trying to keep from office” people who believe scientific evidence proves the phenomenon exists.

The Mayor of New Orleans on Tuesday (July 21st) hailed Pope Francis’ words and actions on climate change and said he believes the upcoming papal visit to the U.S. will be transformational and in particular his address to Congress will be “very challenging.”  Mayor Mitch Landrieu was among the participants at a 2-day workshop of mayors from around the world who came to the Vatican to discuss the issues of climate change and human trafficking. Most of New Orleans is under the sea level and 10 years ago the U.S. city suffered devastating flooding when it was hit by Hurricane Katrina

In a previous press conference announcing this climate meeting, Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, said the climate crisis and modern slavery were “interconnected emergencies,” stating that “although the poor and the excluded have the least effect on climate change… they are the  most exposed to the terrible threat posed by human-induced climate disruption.”

He said, “in this fundamental moral context, cities and their mayors play a key role. “Currently, most of humanity is concentrated in formal and informal urban settlements and this trend is set to increase,”

“We intend for the mayors to commit to promoting the empowerment of the poor and of those who live in vulnerable conditions in our cities and in our urban settlements, reducing their exposure to  extreme weather events caused by radical environmental, economic and social instabilities, which  create fertile ground for forced migration and human trafficking.”

Francis newest encyclical “Laudato si’, was mandatory reading for the conference participants, as they prepared to attend and speak at the Vatican meeting.

In his remarks to the press, Bishop Sorondo said, “the Pontifical Academy of Sciences agrees with the Holy Father that there is a clear link between the two human-induced emergencies of the climate crisis and the social crisis. Following the  Encyclical, our commitment is to make the whole of society aware of these phenomena and of the  human responsibilities of these crises and to react firmly, as a new moral imperative for all of humanity  in favour of the common good.”

POPE FRANCIS TO MAYORS, CARE FOR ENVIRONMENT, FIGHT TRAFFICKING

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged mayors from big cities to direct their efforts towards the care for the environment and the fight against human trafficking.

The Pope was speaking to some 70 mayors from around the world who are in the Vatican for a two-day workshop entitled “Modern Slavery and Climate Change” organized by the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences. (Linda Bordoni reported for Vatican Radio).

POPE ON CLIMATE

Telling those present he has “a lot of hope” that negotiators at Paris climate talks will reach an ambitious agreement to reduce global warming, Pope Francis said he places great trust in the United Nations to bring about a good agreement. But – he stressed – he also wants U.N. nations to prioritize fighting both human trafficking and the exploitation of the world’s most vulnerable people.

And referring to his recently published encyclical “Laudato Si”, Pope Francis made it quite clear that the document is not an encyclical on the environment.

It’s a social encyclical – he explained –  because the state of the environment is directly and intimately linked to the life and wellbeing of humankind.

And this is not the only connection Pope Francis made in his off-the-cuff greeting in which he chose to speak in his native Spanish.

He said huge migratory waves of peoples across the globe are triggered by environmental issues such as desertification and deforestation which leave people and entire communities without the possibility of seeking a livelihood.

Thus – he said – the exodus that takes them into urban centers gives life to human trafficking which brings with it diverse forms of exploitation (be it economical or sexual) of women, children and vulnerable people.

Pope Francis concluded his address with a series of quotes and references to theologian Romano Guardini and his theology of the human person.

And he issued a strong call to all the Mayors present at the event to be aware of these problems and to seek solutions working – he said – from the peripheries towards the center.

JUBILEE TO BRING 33 MILLION PILGRIMS TO ROME

(ANSA) – Rome, July 21 – As many as 33 million tourists and pilgrims are expected to visit Rome during the Jubilee year that begins in December, Censis said Tuesday. The research firm said that about 70% of the visitors will come from abroad, spending an estimated eight billion euros. According to Censis, about 25 million tourists came to Rome for the Jubilee of 2000, and it expects a sizeable increase for this Holy Year.

“The extraordinary flow of tourists will be part of the great wave seeing the growing attractiveness of Rome,” said Censis. It added that includes “a proliferation” of visitors who now see Rome as a day trip rather than a place worth staying overnight or longer.

On the second anniversary of his election last March Pope Francis Francis announced the special Jubilee year to begin December 8 and end November 20, 2016 in order to underscore a central spiritual theme of his pontificate. The Jubilee has been dedicated to the theme of Mercy.  http://popefrancisnewsapp.com/

ANSA also reported today that there are nearly 4,000 “irregular” tourist lodgings currently on offer in the Eternal City, making up a total of about 36,000 beds, with unregulated or “under the table” structures totaling about 75% of those, said Censis on Tuesday. The think tank said the city government loses around 40 million euros annually due to the phenomenon. Censis conducted the study, called “Rome Towards the Jubilee,” in light of the special Jubilee year announced by Pope Francis, which will begin in December and is expected to attract up to 33 million tourists and religious pilgrims to Rome.

THERE’S ALSO THIS….

Today’s column is a bit of this and a bit of that – short takes on a variety of topics. In Sweden they would call this a smorgasbord

Before I launch into those stories, take a look at this! Take Amazing 360° Tour of St. Peter’s in Vatican City From Your Chair! Get comfortable, click here and enjoy! http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/07/150720-Vatican-360-Degree-Tour-Saint-Peters-Basilica/

THERE’S ALSO THIS….

WOMEN READ MORE THAN MEN: (ANSA) – Vatican City, July 17 – As religious publishing houses struggle with the same financial woes hitting the secular world, a bonus to encourage readership could help, says the director of the Vatican Publishing House (Lev). Providing a bonus for priests and nuns could encouraging more purchases of books, said Fr. Giuseppe Costa.

Just as in secular society, religious women read much more then men, he added.  “The records of book sales show an obvious fact: nuns read more than priests,” Costa told L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican daily newspaper. “But the effects of the crisis are being felt in each level and purchases in bookshops have become less frequent for everyone, even among the religious. Hence, the proposal to establish a bonus for reading priests and nuns.” A monthly allowance for priests and nuns to encourage reading and meditation on spiritual texts could be another option, said Costa.

PAPAL STYLES, PAST AND PRESENT: The next edition of National Geographic features Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office as he talks about the styles of Pope Francis and his predecessor, Pope emeritus Benedict XVI. Here, in part, is what that story says: “When Federico Wals, who had spent several years as Bergoglio’s press aide, traveled from Buenos Aires to Rome last year to see the pope, he first paid a visit to Father Federico Lombardi, the longtime Vatican communications official whose job essentially mirrors Wals’ old one, albeit on a much larger scale. ‘So, Father,’ the Argentine asked, “how do you feel about my former boss?” Managing a smile, Lombardi replied, ‘Confused’.

“Lombardi had served as the spokesman for Benedict, formerly known as Joseph Ratzinger, a man of Germanic precision. After meeting with a world leader, the former pope would emerge and rattle off an incisive summation, Lombardi tells me, with palpable wistfulness: ‘It was incredible. Benedict was so clear. He would say, ‘We have spoken about these things, I agree with these points, I would argue against these other points, the objective of our next meeting will be this’—two minutes and I’m totally clear about what the contents were. With Francis—‘This is a wise man; he has had these interesting experiences’.

“Chuckling somewhat helplessly, Lombardi adds, ‘Diplomacy for Francis is not so much about strategy but instead, ‘I have met this person, we now have a personal relation, let us now do good for the people and for the church’.” http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2015/08/vatican/draper-text

GOOD NEWS FOR TRAVELERS: ROME AIRPORT SLOWLY RE-OPENS FOR BUSINESS: (ANSA) – Fiumicino, July 17 – Rome’s Fiumicino airport is set to reopen an area of the airport that has been closed as a result of a fire in May this weekend, airport operator ADR (Aeroporti Di Roma) said on Friday. The boarding area D in Terminal 3 has been closed in alternating phases after the electrical fire in the night of May 6-7 devastated the terminal, which handles international flights. The closure has led to many cancellations and disruption of flights, that capacity at the airport has been reduced to 60 percent. Area D was set to reopen the night between Saturday-Sunday, July 18/19. Fiumicino Mayor Esterino Montino has said the terminal will still need extensive renovation following the blaze, which tore through many luxury boutiques and took more than five hours to bring under control.

WYD 2016, KRAKOW – POLISH SURVIVAL PHRASES: Tons of interesting stuff on the official site for World Youth Day 2016 to help pilgrims prepare for this big event. You have plenty of time – a year – to get ready, including learning a bit of Polish. “Before arriving in a foreign country,” says http://worldyouthday.com/krakow-2016, “it is best to know a few key phrases to help you get around and for use in emergency situations. To start brushing up on basic Polish, visit SurvivalPhrases.com. There, you can access three FREE lessons in Polish to learn how to say Thank you, You’re Welcome, and Please. Each lesson has a detailed audio tutorial paired with a PDF transcript.”

You also learn that Campus Misericordiae (“Field of Mercy”) is the official name of the vigil site for World Youth Day 2016 where Pope Francis will meet with young people from around the world. On the border of Krakow and Wieliczka, this site will host the Saturday night vigil with the Holy Father and the Sunday morning Mass that together are the climax of World Youth Day. Other events central to World Youth Day – the opening Mass, the welcome ceremony for the Holy Father, and the Way of the Cross – will be held in Błonia Park in central Krakow.

To learn about flights, communication, money, electricity, passport and visas, medical, transportation, group travel, etc., click here: http://worldyouthday.com/travel-tips

VATICAN RELEASES 2014 FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

You may recall that in mid-June, on a flight to Rome from a cousin’s funeral in Chicago, I sat next to Bret Bonanni, one of the members of the USA Water Polo team on the plane on their way to a round of matches in Europe. On June 15, their one free day in Rome, nine of the team members joined me and Santiago Perez, head of the Vatican’s Sports Desk at the Council for the Laity, on a three-hour tour of Vatican City, the gardens and the basilica. I wrote about that morning and posted a photo.

Each of the team members wrote me a beautiful thank-you email and I have been able to stay in touch, especially with Bret and his parents, who were in Europe for the matches and took me to dinner in Rome. They are all currently in Toronto where the USA Water Polo teams, both men and women, won the Gold Medal matches last night! Seems they are now on the road to Rio 2016!

Here is a photo from the link to the victory story:

USA WATER POLO TEAM

http://www.teamusa.org/News/2015/July/16/Veteran-Captain-Tony-Azevedo-Leads-Recently-Formed-Mens-Water-Polo-Team-To-Gold

VATICAN RELEASES 2014 FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

The Vatican today released its 2014 financial statements and, noting that new accounting systems had been used for 2014, there was good news and bad news.

Income from areas like the Vatican Museums and the sales of stamps almost doubled profits from the previous year (from 33 million euros to 63.5 million euros), but the budget deficit to run the Roman Curia grew over 2013 (up from 24.5 million euros to 25.6 million).

Previously unreported assets of 1.1 billion euros, and previously unreported liabilities of 222 million euros meant that net assets rose by 939 million euros.

The biggest single outlay in 2014 for the Vatican was salaries for 2,880 personnel at 64 Holy See entities – 126.6 million euros.

The Governorato – the administration that basically runs Vatican City state – the museums, pharmacy and medical offices, clothing and food stores, post office, police and fire department – has a staff of 1,930 people.

Another entry: 21 million euros in contributions from the world’s dioceses and 50 million euros from the Vatican bank.

Here is the report released by the Secretariat for the Economy, headed by Cardinal George Pell:

2014 Financial Statements: Consolidated Financial Statements of the Holy See and Financial Statements of the Governorate of Vatican City State

At the Council for the Economy meeting on 14 July 2015, Cardinal Pell and the staff from the Secretariat for the Economy presented the Consolidated Statements for the Holy See and the Financial Statements for the Governatorato.  The Statements had been prepared by the Prefecture for Economic Affairs and reviewed and verified by the Secretariat, the Audit Committee of the Council and the External Auditor. It was noted that 2014 was a year of transition to new Financial.

Management policies based on International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). The former accounting principles and consolidation perimeter (comprising 64 Holy See entities) were used in preparation of the 2014 Statements.  Managers were however asked to ensure they had included all assets and liabilities and provide appropriate certification as to completeness and accuracy.  Working with the external auditor, third party confirmation of balances were requested so that, consistent with sound audit practice, amounts could be independently verified.  To include all assets and liabilities in the accounts at year end and to prepare for the new policies, a number of closing entries were included which make direct comparison with 2013 figures difficult.  Where appropriate relevant points of comparison were provided to the Council.

The journey of transition to new policies is progressing well and the Secretariat was pleased to report high levels of interest and cooperation in the entities.   The 2014 Financial Statements reflect  an  enormous  amount  of  work  by  staff  in  many  Holy  See  entities,  particularly  in  the Prefettura for Economic Affairs and the Secretariat for the Economy and Council members expressed their gratitude for the rigourous and professional work and the strong commitment to implementing the financial reforms approved by the Holy Father.

The Financial Statements for the Holy See for 2014 indicate a deficit of 25.621 M Euro which is similar to the deficit of 24.471 M Euro reported in the 2013 Statements.  Had the same accounting treatment applied in 2014 been applied in 2013, the 2013 deficit would have been reported as 37.209 M Euro – the improvement in 2014 was largely due to favourable movements in investments held by the Holy See. The main sources of income in 2014, in addition to investments, include the contributions made pursuant to Canon 1271 of the Code of Canon Law (21 M Euro) and the contribution from Institute of Works of Religion (50 M Euro).

Net Assets increased by 939 M Euro as adjustments were made to include all assets and liabilities in the closing balances for 2014.  For the entities included in the consolidation perimeter, assets previously off the Balance sheet amounted to 1,114 M Euro and liabilities amounted to 222 M Euro.  While the patrimonial situation in the Pension Fund was not reflected in the closing Balance Sheet, it was reported that the new Pension Fund Board will be asked to prepare an updated assessment of the overall situation.

As in previous years, the most significant expense included in the Holy See Financial Statements is the cost of staff (126.6 M Euro) and the Statements indicate total staffing of 2880 in the 64 Holy See entities included in the consolidation.

The Financial Statements for the Governatorato for 2014 indicate a surplus of 63.519 M Euro which is a significant improvement on the 2013 surplus of 33.042 M Euro, largely due to continued strong revenue from the cultural activities (especially the Museums) and favourable movements in investments.  Net Assets increased by 63.5 M Euro and there were no adjustments necessary to include additional assets and liabilities in closing balances for 2014.  The Statements indicate a total staffing in the Governatorato of 1930.

Following the meeting of the Council for the Economy, the Secretariat for the Economy was advised the Auditor confirmed that a clear audit certificate had been issued for the Holy See and Governatorato Financial Statements.

The Council also received a further update on the 2015 Budget. The 2015 Budgets were prepared under the new Financial Management Policies, approved last year by the Holy Father. The Council in late May received a detailed budget submission prepared by the Secretariat.

The submission highlighted proposed activities as well as anticipated revenue and expenditure for the coming year and included specific recommendations for each of the 136 entities on the list, as approved  by  the  Holy  Father,  who  are  subject  to  control  and  vigilance  of  the  Council  and Secretariat.  The Budgets indicate the deficits experienced in recent years are likely to continue in 2015.

While rapid progress is being made in implementing reforms requested by the Holy Father, the complete transition to the IPSAS is likely to take several years.  The 2015 Budgets and the 2015

Statements are the first important steps. From 2015, the Consolidated Statements for the Holy See will include the new practices and additional entities, as required under the new Financial Management Policies and the IPSAS Standards.

VATICAN MEETING ON MODERN SLAVERY AND CLIMATE CHANGE, THE COMMITMENT OF CITIES

Among the several interesting meetings I had yesterday was one with Salvatore Martinez, president of the Vatican Foundation “International Family Center of Nazareth,” a fascinating foundation that, for so many faithful, has gone almost unnoticed. Yet the foundation has a very important scope and will play a very big role in Philadelphia at the September world Meeting of Families.

This Foundation was based on an idea of St. John Paul, instituted by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and is being brought to fruition by Pope Francis.  I will be writing and talking about the Foundation at length in the near future but have to cut things short today in this column.  Here, in a nutshell, is a look at this Center via the foundation website:

The Center will be an International Observatory on pastoral ministry to the family in the world, particularly in the Holy Land and in the Middle East – with regard to mass media, welfare, education, formation, leisure, inter cultural and ecumenical dialogue – in collaboration with Bishops’ Conferences throughout the world, with Catholic Universities, and International Institutions at the service of the family. It will offer material support to families in difficulty, in a special way to those of the Holy Land, through international projects of fund raising.

The Center will offer: an auditorium, 500 seating capacity; a Diocesan Pastoral Center; a conference center and study halls; a church with 500 seats; housing for the local community; a hotel with 105 rooms and restaurants designed to welcome families; a recreation center and playground for children; outside space, a parking lot and areas for fun and leisure.

Here is a link to the website: http://www.fondazionevaticanafamigliadinazareth.org/sito.html?language=EN&page=main

It has been a wonderfully fruitful day, with lots of behind-the-scenes work and meetings and tapings for television, but all that has left me little time at this hour for a more informative column.  Just one news story – see VIS’ account of the  conference held today in the Holy See Press Office.

VATICAN MEETING ON MODERN SLAVERY AND CLIMATE CHANGE, THE COMMITMENT OF CITIES

(VIS) – This morning in the Holy See Press Office Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, presented the meeting “Modern slavery and climate change: the commitment of the cities”, and the symposium “Prosperity, people and planet in the cities”, to be held in the Casina Pio IV (Vatican, 21-22 July). These events will be attended by the mayors of major cities, local administrators and various representatives of the United Nations, and the speakers will include expert communications consultants Michael Shank and Alessandro Gaetano.

“The Pontifical Academy of Sciences is in agreement with the Holy Father in perceiving a clear link between these two emergencies: the crisis of climate change and the social crisis, both of anthropic origin”, explained the prelate. Our commitment, following the Encyclical, is to ensuring that all society is made aware of these phenomena and of the human responsibilities for these crises, and reacts with firmness, as a new moral imperative for all humanity in favour of the common good”.

“In this fundamental moral context, cities and their mayors play a key role”, explained the prelate. “Currently, most of humanity is concentrated in formal and informal urban settlements and this trend is set to increase. Each of our cultural traditions also affirms the inherent dignity and the social responsibility of each individual in relation to the common good. They emphasise the importance of living together in the polis for the fulfilment of the social, cultural and religious identity of every human being and for the beauty, wonder and inherent goodness of the world, recognising it as a precious gift that supports life and is entrusted to our stewardship. It is not a matter of preserving it as in a museum, but of developing it according to its potential, following the very laws of nature. Respecting and developing “our common home” rather than devastating it is a moral imperative”.

Bishop Sanchez Sorondo noted that, as the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences has remarked, although the poor and the excluded have the least effect on climate change and often live on the outskirts of the city, they are the most exposed to the terrible threat posed by human-induced climate disruption. However, the world now has within reach the scientific knowledge, technological tools and financial means to reverse anthropogenic climate change, while ending extreme poverty at the same time through solutions that include renewable and low carbon emission energy sources. “Financing the initiative in favour of this ‘integral ecology’, including the decisive containment of human-induced climate change, could also be based on the relentless pursuit of peace, which would allow a redistribution of public spending from military expenditure towards urgent investments for the benefit of social inclusion and the effective monitoring of carbon emissions, particularly in the cities”.

With reference to the presence of mayors at the events on 21 and 22 July, he emphasised that the intention of the Pontifical Academy was for them “to commit to promoting the empowerment of the poor and of those who live in vulnerable conditions in our cities and in our urban settlements, reducing their exposure to extreme weather events caused by radical environmental, economic and social instabilities, which create fertile ground for forced migration and human trafficking”.

“At the same time”, he added, “we would like the mayors to commit to put an end to abuse, exploitation, human trafficking and all forms of modern slavery within their communities. These tragic occurrences, which Pope Benedict and Pope Francis termed ‘crimes against humanity’, also include forced labour, prostitution, organ trafficking and domestic servitude. We would also like the mayors to commit to developing resettlement and social integration programmes for the victims, at the national and local levels, in order to avoid their involuntary repatriation”.

“In short”, he concluded, “we would like our cities and urban settlements to become more socially inclusive, safe, resilient and ecologically integrated”.

The studies of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences on the impact of climate change can be consulted on-line at www.pas.va