Pope Francis is in Geneva today to mark the 70th anniversary of the WCC, the World Council of Churches. The Catholic Church is not a member of the WCC but has a partnership rather than membership relation. When Catholic Church delegates attend WCC meetings they are referred to as “delegate observers.”
Membership in the WCC is actually by national churches thus, of the 345 members, for example, there might be 35 or so Lutheran churches, 45 Anglican churches and so on. There is no national Catholic Church, rather it relates to other Christian churches in the WCC as an international Christian communion. Catholic delegates do participate in many ways and contribute to the WCC commissions.
EWTN is covering the tip with photos, articles, tweets and FB posts.
POPE FRANCIS ON MIGRATION, AFRICA, WOMEN, CHILE, CHINA
Phil Pullela of Reuters had an interview over the weekend with Pope Francis in the Santa Marta residence. Following are Reuters articles that highlight the various topics touched on. The writing and editing of the interview includes reports from other Reuters bureaus, such as Beijing.
US IMMIGRATION POLICY
Pope Francis has criticized the Trump administration’s policy of separating migrant families at the Mexican border, saying populism is not the answer to the world’s immigration problems.
Speaking to Reuters, the Pope said he supported recent statements by U.S. Catholic bishops who called the separation of children from their parents “contrary to our Catholic values” and “immoral”.
“It’s not easy, but populism is not the solution,” Francis said on Sunday night.
In a rare, wide-ranging interview, the pope said he was optimistic about talks that may lead to a historic agreement over the appointment of bishops in China, and said he may accept more bishops’ resignations over a sexual abuse scandal in Chile.
Reflecting at his Vatican residence on his five years as pope, he defended his leadership of the Roman Catholic Church against criticism by conservatives inside and outside the Church who say his interpretation of its teachings is too liberal.
He also said he wanted to appoint more women to top positions in the Vatican administration.
One of his most pointed messages concerned President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy, in which U.S. authorities plan to criminally prosecute all immigrants caught crossing the Mexican border illegally, holding adults in jail while their children are sent to government shelters.
The policy has caused an outcry in the United States and has been condemned abroad as videos emerged of youngsters held in concrete-floored enclosures and an audio of wailing children went viral.
U.S. Catholic bishops have joined other religious leaders in the United States in condemning the policy.
Europe should stop exploiting Africa and invest in ways that benefit the continent more, including by sharing mineral wealth more equitably, Pope Francis said.
“We must invest in Africa, but invest in an orderly way and create employment, not go there to exploit it,” he told Reuters in a wide-ranging interview, while discussing the migration of Africans to Europe.
“When a country grants independence to an African country it is from the ground up – but the subsoil is not independent. And then people (outside Africa) complain about hungry Africans coming here. There are injustices there!”
Touching on the reasons for hunger in Africa, the pope said that, “in our collective unconscious there is something inside us that says Africa must be exploited.”
His comments follow moves in some African countries to win more generous terms from international mining companies.
In Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, the government has enacted a new mining code that is designed to earn extra money for the state from copper, cobalt and gold produced there.
Mining companies say the government should reconsider the law in order to respect exemptions that were granted by its predecessor.
The pope said Europe needed to focus on education and investment in Africa if it wanted to stem the flow of migrants, which is also an increasingly divisive issue in Italy, where the new governing coalition is taking a hard line.
“And there’s a problem,” he added. “We send people back to those who have sent them here. They end up in the jails of traffickers.”
The pope then showed Reuters graphic photographs that he said showed victims of human trafficking who had been tortured and killed in an unspecified location in Africa.
Pope Francis has voiced optimism for improved ties between the Vatican and China, rejecting criticism that the Holy See may be selling out Catholics to Beijing’s communist government.
The Vatican and China are in advanced talks to resolve a dispute over the appointment of bishops in China, one of the biggest obstacles to resuming diplomatic ties that were cut almost 70 years ago.
“We are at a good point,” the pope told Reuters in an interview at his Vatican residence.
China’s estimated 12 million Catholics are split between an underground Church that swears loyalty to the Vatican and the state-supervised Catholic Patriotic Association.
Pope Francis did not comment in the interview on the details under discussion but said dialogue was the best way forward.
“Dialogue is a risk, but I prefer risk rather than the certain defeat that comes with not holding dialogue,” he said.
“As for the timing, some people say it’s ‘Chinese time’. I say it’s God’s time. Let’s move forward serenely.”
Francis said the road to reconciliation with China was divided into three paths — the official dialogue, unofficial contacts among ordinary citizens “which we do not want to burn,” and cultural dialogue.
“I think the Chinese people merit the Nobel Prize for patience. They know how to wait. Time is theirs and they have centuries of culture …. They are a wise people, very wise. I have great respect for China,” he said.
Asked about the comments, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China was sincere about improving two-way ties with the Vatican, and had made “unremitting efforts”.
“We are willing to meet the Vatican side halfway, and make new progress in the process of improving relations and advancing constructive bilateral dialogue,” Geng told a regular news briefing in Beijing on Thursday, without elaborating.
The most outspoken critic of the pope’s China strategy is 86-year-old Cardinal Joseph Zen, a former bishop of Hong Kong, who has said the direction of negotiations suggests the Vatican is preparing to sell out the underground church.
In Hong Kong, a beachhead for Vatican loyalists in southern China, some priests say the talks could be a trap leading to greater persecution of underground believers and ultimately to tighter Communist Party control of their religion.
CHILE AND SEX ABUSE CASES
Pope Francis has said he could accept the resignations of more Chilean bishops following a sexual abuse scandal that has shattered the credibility of the Roman Catholic Church in the South American country.
The pope has already accepted the resignations of three bishops, and all Chile’s remaining bishops have offered to resign after allegations that the abuse, including of children, was covered up.
The scandal was “the work of the spirit of evil,” the pope told Reuters in an interview at his residence in the Vatican.
Asked whether he would accept more resignations, the pontiff said: “Maybe some.”
“I still have to accept the resignations of two (bishops) who have exceeded the age limit. But maybe there’s someone else whose resignation I will accept. In one case, I asked that he be given the accusations in order to give him the possibility to defend himself against the accusations and then we will see,” he said.
Chilean Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, one of nine cardinals from around the world appointed by the pope to serve as his special advisers, has been accused by abuse survivors of discrediting victims and not investigating their cases. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Asked whether Errázuriz’s position was at risk on the C-9, the pope said: “The C-9 is not an honor, it’s a job. I do not want to get into the game of cutting heads and seeking scapegoats.”
The scandal revolves around Father Fernando Karadima, who was found guilty in a Vatican investigation in 2011 of abusing boys in Santiago in the 1970s and 1980s. Now 87 and living in a nursing home in Chile, he has always denied any wrongdoing.
Four of the about 40 men trained by Karadima for the priesthood later became bishops.
One of the bishops, Juan Barros of the southern city of Osorno, became the focal point of the investigation and is one of the bishops whose resignation the pope has already accepted.
“Many people would have been happy if I had just removed Barros and done nothing else. But no!” the pope said.
Barros has denied allegations that he witnessed and covered up sexual abuse cases.
The scandal came to a head when the Argentine pontiff visited Chile in January. He has since launched a Vatican investigation.
The pope’s sexual abuse investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, has produced a 2,300-page report accusing Chile’s bishops of “grave negligence” in investigating allegations that children were abused and has said evidence of sex crimes was destroyed.
Pope Francis has promised Chilean Catholics that “never again” would the Church ignore them or the cover-up of abuse in their country.
“Families brought their children to Karadima because they believed that the doctrine was sound and they did not know what was happening in there,” he said in the interview.
“The Karadima problem is a very complex problem because there was a blend of the Chilean elite with socio-political situations.”
He called Karadima “a gravely disturbed person”.
The pope said he had returned from his visit to Chile with a feeling of disquiet about the situation there. He said he had summoned all the Chilean bishops to a meeting in Rome because it was “the only thing to do.”
“In the end they said: ‘We want you to feel free, we are all handing in our resignations’,” he said, describing their offer as “a generous gesture”.
The pope said he had wondered what had happened in Chile to cause a sharp drop in support for the Church.
“It’s a difficult phenomenon to understand. Some think it has something to do with a hidden elitism there, but this is just an opinion. Certainly it is the work of the spirit of evil,” he said.