DEAR LORD, HOW HAVE YOU BLESSED ME? LET ME COUNT THE WAYS…..

Today, Thanksgiving Day, and Friday are days off for EWTN staff so this column may be quiet. I might post something on Facebook if an event warrants it so stayed tuned for that. In any case, check in!

I will be celebrating and giving thanks at 10:30 Mass at St. Patrick’s Church and then attend a second Mass in the afternoon, followed by a grand turkey dinner (with a few Italian elements thrown in!) at the North American College. U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Callista Gingrich will read the Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation on both occasions.

My friendship with the priests, seminarians, faculty and staff of the Pontifical North American College is another of my many great blessings, as you will see…..

DEAR LORD, HOW HAVE YOU BLESSED ME? LET ME COUNT THE WAYS…..

Dear Lord, how have you blessed me? Let me count the ways…..

My wonderful family, my beautiful faith, my ocean of friends, the friends throughout your great universe whom You have brought into my life.

Does a day pass that You do not bring some unique, new person into my life? The newest member of my wonderful, large family? A friend from another country? Another wonderful seminarian or priest added to the many who have made my life and my faith so fulfilling? The list is so very long!

Does a day pass that I am not enriched and blessed by some amazing event that You placed in my path as a learning moment, a time of prayer, a period of silent Thanksgiving?

You blessed me at my baptism when You brought me into your beautiful Catholic Church and a faith to which I have always tried to be faithful.

You have blessed me by enriching that faith over the years, allowing me to work for You every day, to bring your Word and your teachings and your Truth to so many.

My words, by comparison, are very insignificant but truly heartfelt. I am filled with both thanksgiving and joy as I write these words, as my mind’s eye overflows with images of each family member, of friends here in Rome and around the globe, of the magnificent events that daily fill my life.

I sign most emails and letters with “God bless,” and then on another line “Joan” – but I read it silently as “God bless Joan.”

When people say to me, “Joan, God bless you!” I reply: “He really has!”

And You have blessed me! Heartfelt THANKS!

And Thank You FOR THE BEAUTY OF THE EARTH
For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.

For the beauty of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flower,
Sun and moon and stars of light,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth, and friends above,
Pleasures pure and undefiled,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our grateful hymn of praise.
(Part of a Christian hymn composed by Folliott S. Pierpoint (1835-1917)

POPE FRANCIS ON VATICAN FINANCES, INVESTMENTS AND PETER’S PENCE

POPE FRANCIS ON VATICAN FINANCES, INVESTMENTS AND PETER’S PENCE

Scrolling down the transcript from the Q&A session between Pope Francis and journalists aboard the papal flight from Tokyo to Rome, the reader comes to questions about Vatican finances, questionable transactions, possible corruption, and the use of Peter’s Pence funds for investments such as buying real estate.

Below is that exchange (not always an easy read in translation but you will get the general idea). Some of the names and terminology may not be clear unless you have followed reports in recent months and years about Vatican finances, the Vatican Bank, etc.  The Vatican’s AIF is mentioned many times (Financial Information Authority): a new director was named yesterday – see previous blogs.

At the end of the papal exchange with the media, I look at what Peter’s Pence is, was meant to be and how it is apparently being used, at least in part.

Cristiana Caricato (TV2000, Italy): Holy Father, people read in the newspapers that the Holy See has acquired an apartment for hundreds of thousands of euros in the heart of London and they become a bit disconcerted, because of this use of Vatican finances. Also, in particular, because it involves Peter’s Pence. Did you know of these financial things? And above all, in your opinion, is it correct to use Peter’s Pence in that way? You have often said that money should not be made with money. You have often denounced the unscrupulous use of finances. However, we see that this operation involves the Holy See. This scandalizes in some way. How do you see this whole event?

Pope Francis: Thank you. First of all, in good administration it is normal for a sum to come from the Peter’s Pence, and what do I do? Put in a drawer? No, this is bad administration. But I look to make an investment, and when there is the need, to give… when there is the necessity, in one year, you take it. Your capital you do not devalue, if it maintains or if it grows a little. This is good administration.

If [it is] an administration of the drawer, it is bad. But you should try to make a good administration, a good investment. Is that clear?

Also an investment, as we say, an investment by widows? What do widows do? [Ed.note: An Italian saying] Two or three here, five here, if one falls, one of the others so that they are not ruined is always on security, this is always moral.
If from Peter’s Pence you invest in a weapons factory, the pence is not a pence there, eh?

If you make an investment and for years, without touching it, the capital does not go, Peter’s Pence should be spent in one year, one year and a half, until the other collection arrives which is made world-wide. And this is good management.

On security, and also, yes, you can buy a property, rent it, and then sell it. But, on security, with all of the securities, for the good of the people of the Pence. This one. Then, what happened, happend: A scandal. They have done things that do not seem ‘clean.’

But, the report did not come from the outside. That reform of the economic methodology, that Benedict XVI had already started, is going forward. And it was the auditor of the internal accounts to say’Here there is a bad thing. Here there is something that is not working.’ And he came to me. And I said, but are you sure? ‘Yes.’ And he let me see the numbers. ‘What should I do?’ [he asked]. [I said:] There is the Vatican justice. Go and give the report to the Promoter of Justice. And in this I remained content, because you see that the Vatican administration now has the resources to clarify the bad things which happen inside, like in this case, that — if it is not the case of the apartment in London, because this is not yet clear — but in that [other instance] there were cases of corruption.

And the Promoter of Justice studied the accusations, consulted, and saw an imbalance in the budget. And then, he asked me for permission to make the searches. I said: ‘Is it clear, your report?’ He told me, ‘yes, there is a presumption of corruption in these cases. I should carry out searches in this office, this office, and this office.’ And I signed the authorization.

The searches were done in five offices. And up to today, we have the presumption of innocence, but there is capital that is not administered well, also with corruption.

I believe that in less than two months they will begin questioning the five people who are blocked [suspended from the Vatican], because there were indications of corruption. You will ask me: ‘And these five are corrupt?’ No, the presumption of innocence is a guarantee, a human right. But, there is corruption, and you will see. With the searches you will see if they are guilty or not.

It’s a bad thing, it’s not good what is happening in the Vatican. But it is clear that the internal mechanisms are beginning to work, those that Benedict XVI had already started to make. And I thank God. I do not thank God that there is corruption, but I thank God that the Vatican monitoring system is working well.

Bruni (Holy See Press Office): The next question is from Phil Pullella of Reuters.
Pope Francis: [small talk]
Philip Pullella (Reuters): [small talk] If you permit me, I would like to follow a little on the question Cristiana asked, with a few more details.

There is a lot of worry in the last few weeks about what happened and about the finances of the Vatican. And according to some people, there is an internal war over who should control the money, according to some people. The majority of the members of the council of the AIF administration are dismissed. The Egmont Group, a group of these financial authorities have suspended of the Vatican, the secure communication […] The director of AIF is still suspended, as you said, and still there is no general revisore.

What can you do or say to guarantee to the international financial community, and to the faithful in general, who are called to contribute to Peter’s Pence, that the Vatican will not return to be considered a pariah, that is, to have trust you will continue and not return to the habits of the past?

Pope Francis: Thank you for the question. The Vatican has made steps forward in its administration, for example, the IOR today has the acceptance of all the banks and can act like the Italian banks, normal. Something that was not there a year ago. There is progress.

Then, the Egmont Group, that is not an official international group, a group to which the AIF belongs. And the international control does not depend on the Egmont Group, a private group that has its weight. It is a private group. And MONEYVAL will carry out the inspection it has scheduled for the first months of the next year and it will do it, it will do it.

The director of the AIF is in suspension because there were suspicions of bad administration. The president of AIF was strong with the Egmont Group to take back the documentation. And this the justice cannot do.

In the face of this, I consulted with an Italian judge of a high level. ‘What should I do?’ Justice in front of an accusation of corruption is sovereign in a country. It’s sovereign. And no one can involve themselves there inside. No one can say to the Egmont Group, ‘your papers are here.’ No, the papers should be studied, that they add up to what seems a bad administration, in the sense of a bad control.

It was AIF that did not control, it seems, the crimes of others. And therefore [it failed] in its duty of controls. I hope that they prove it is not so. Because there is, still, the presumption of innocence.

And for the moment, the magistrates, the magistrate is sovereign. He should study how it went. Because on the contrary, a country should have a superior administration that would harm the sovereignty of the country.

And the [term of the] president of AIF was expiring [November] 19th. I would call him a few days before and he was not in agreement that I was re-calling him [as president of AIF] and he announced that the 19th he was leaving. I found a successor, a judge of the highest juridical and economic level, national and international, and at my return, he takes charge of AIF and things will continue like so.

It would have been a contradiction for the monitoring authority to be sovereign over the state. It is something which is not easy to understand, but what is a little disturbed is the Egmont Group, which is a private group. It helps a lot, but it is not the monitoring authority of MONEYVAL. MONEYVAL will study the numbers. It will study the procedures. It will study how […] the Promoter of Justice. And how the judges have determined the things.

I know that in these days the interrogation of the five who were suspended will begin or has already begun. It is not easy, but we should not be naive. We should not be slaves. Someone told me — but I do not believe it — but they said, ‘yes, with this, we have touched the Egmont Group. You scare the people . We are creating a little terrorism…’ Let’s leave that aside. We go forward with the law, with MONEYVAL, with the new president of AIF, and the director was suspended but maybe he is innocent. I would like that, because it is a beautiful thing [if] one is innocent and not guilty. I felt a little bit of noise with this group that was not wanting that the papers be touched that belong to the group.

Pullella: And a guarantee for the faithful that…?

Pope Francis: To guarantee this? Look, it’s the first time that in the Vatican the pot is discovered from the inside, not from the outside, From the outside many times. And they said look there and we had so much embarrassment. … But in this Pope Benedict was wise. And he began a process that matured and now the institutions that the auditor had the courage to make a written report against five people. …The auditor is working. Really, I do not want to offend the Egmont Group, because they did so much good, help, but in this case the state has sovereignty. And even justice is more sovereign then the executive power, more sovereign. It is not easy to understand but I ask you all to understand this difficulty.

PETER’S PENCE. Since the news was first published that some of Peter’s Pence donations were being used by the Vatican in real estate investments and possibly in some questionable dealings, the faithful have been wondering if they should continue to donate to what they thought was a Vatican office that assisted papal charities.

It is clear from media reports that the faithful have been talking about this to their pastors and bishops, and making comments via blogs, emails to columnists (such as myself), etc.

Below is the full link to the Vatican website about Peter’s Pence but here are a few of the main points of what the Vatican considers “An ancient custom still alive today,” and a collection “derived from the primitive Church. … This is in harmony with a tradition dating back to the Gospel (cf. Lk 10:7) and the teaching of the Apostles (cf. 1 Cor 9:11-14)” (Letter of Pope John Paul II to the Cardinal Secretary of State, 20 November 1982).”

In particular, the website notes that, “In the first year of his Pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI stressed the proper meaning of this offering: ‘Peter’s Pence’ is the most characteristic expression of the participation of all the faithful in the Bishop of Rome’s charitable initiatives in favor of the universal Church. The gesture has not only a practical value, but also a strong symbolic one, as a sign of communion with the Pope and attention to the needs of one’s brothers; and therefore your service possesses a refined ecclesial character”. … The ecclesial value of this gesture becomes evident when one considers how charitable initiatives are connatural to the Church, as the Pope stated in his first Encyclical Deus caritas est (25 December 2005).”

Pope St. John Paul’s words to St. Peter’s Circle in 2003 are also quoted: “You are aware of the growing needs of the apostolate, the requirements of the ecclesial communities, especially in mission countries, and the requests for aid that come from peoples, individuals and families in precarious conditions. Many expect the Apostolic See to give them the support they often fail to find elsewhere. In this perspective the Peter’s Pence Collection is a true and proper participation in the work of evangelization, especially if one considers the meaning and importance of concretely sharing in the concerns of the universal Church.”

We also read: “The faithful’s offerings to the Holy Father are destined to Church needs, to humanitarian initiatives and social promotion projects, as well as to the support of the Holy See.”

Thus, if one looks at the historical aspect as well as the current meaning of Peter’s Pence, it is clear why the faithful might be confused about the ultimate destination of their contributions: will the money go to papal charities or real estate purchases (however much revenue they might bring to the Vatican, as the Pope noted) ?

http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/secretariat_state/obolo_spietro/documents/actual_en.html

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS VICE POSTULATOR FOR VENERABLE FULTON SHEEN – POPE FRANCIS SUMMARIZES ASIA JOURNEY AT GENERAL AUDIENCE – TRANSCIPT OF PAPAL PRESSER ON TOKYO-ROME FLIGHT

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS VICE POSTULATOR FOR VENERABLE FULTON SHEEN

As I mentioned last week in this same spot, you all know by now that the Vatican has approved a miracle through the intercession of Venerable Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen, and the diocese of Peoria in Illinois where he is buried announced on Monday, November 18 that Sheen will be beatified in Peoria on December 21st.

Given that great news, last weekend I re-aired Part I of a conversation I had some time ago with Msgr. Richard Soseman, a pastor in the diocese of Peoria and also the vice postulator of the cause for sainthood of Archbishop Sheen. This weekend, I will re-air Part II of that conversation.

We talk about Msgr’s priestly life, his time studying in Rome and then working at Congregation for clergy, how his life and priesthood was impacted by Sheen, how he was assigned to the cause for sainthood, the role of a vice postulator and the miracle that led to Sheen’s beatification. A second miracle, by the way, is needed for canonization.

So stay tuned after the News and Q&A for Part II of that conversation.

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://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 http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: https://www.ewtn.com/radio/audio-archive (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

Here is Part I of my interview with Msgr. Soseman about Venerable Fulton Sheen – soon to be Blessed Fulton Sheen – that aired last weekend: https://soundcloud.com/ewtn-radio/vatican-insider-112319-archbishop-fulton-j-sheen

POPE FRANCIS SUMMARIZES ASIA JOURNEY AT GENERAL AUDIENCE

Though he had to be exhausted after his long and grueling trip to Asia, Pope Francis presided at the Wednesday general audience Wednesday in St. Peter’s Square. As is customary after an apostolic visit, Francis focused the general audience catechesis on his just-completed trip to Thailand and Japan. He began by thanking civil and religious authorities and all those responsible for preparing the visit.

“In Thailand,” said the Pope, “I met with the Supreme Buddhist Patriarch as a sign of esteem and of the importance of promoting respect and cooperation between the religions, and I encouraged the local Church’s support of the sick and poor at Saint Louis hospital. Among the highlights of my visit were the meetings with priests, consecrated men and women, the bishops and finally a group of young people. In the two celebrations of Mass we saw clearly how the Gospel is being inculturated among the Thai people.

“In Japan,” said the Pope, “the motto for my visit was ‘Protect All Life’: a vital theme for a county that experienced the devastation of the atom bomb and more recent disasters. I was able to spend time in prayer at Nagasaki and Hiroshima, where I met with survivors and their families, and I repeated my appeal for the abolition of nuclear weapons. In my meeting with young people, I encouraged them to face the future without fear by opening their hearts to God’s love in prayer and in service of others. I ask you to join me in entrusting the people of Thailand and Japan to God’s loving providence. May he bless them with prosperity and peace.”

During his audience, the Holy Father announced that on Sunday, December 1, he will go to Greccio in Italy’s Lazio region to pray at the site of the first living nativity scene set up here by St. Francis in 1223. It is said that Francis wished to attract pilgrims to the presepe or nativity scene in Greccio and to discourage them from going to the real first Nativity scene in Bethlehem because of the dangers to traveling pilgrims as the Holy Land was then under control of Muslims. Since 1223 there has been a living nativity scene here every Christmas season.

Francis previously visited Greccio on January 4, 2016.

Addressing Italian pilgrims, Pope Francis spoke of Albania and its people who have suffered greatly as a result of an earthquake that struck on Tuesday. The Pope said he was praying for the dead, the injured and their families and was close to all the Albanian people. He also noted that Albania was the first country in Europe that he wanted to visit.

TRANSCIPT OF PAPAL PRESSER ON TOKYO-ROME FLIGHT

Following is the transcript in English of the press conference held aboard the papal flight from Tokyo to Rome yesterday, November 26. As you will read at the end, “This unofficial transcript and translation is a collabortion of journalists at CNA, and its Italian and Spanish language news partners. Every effort is made for accuracy and clarity.”

I will go into detail in a separate post about the Pope’s remarks on Vatican finances, questionable transactions, possible corruption and the use of Peter’s Pence funds for investments such as buying real estate.

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/full-text-of-pope-francis-in-flight-press-conference-from-japan-36598

VATICAN ANNOUNCES NEW AIF PRESIDENT

VATICAN ANNOUNCES NEW AIF PRESIDENT

Statement of the new president of the (Vatican’s) Financial Information Authority (Autorità di Informazione Finanaziaria – AIF) following his appointment:

“I am honored to have received this appointment, aware of the full weight of the moral and professional responsibility it carries, and I thank the Holy Father for the trust he has placed in me,” the new president of the Financial Information Authority, Carmelo Barbagallo, said when speaking to Vatican News after publication of the news of his appointment.

“In carrying out my service of responsibility in leading the AIF,” Barbagallo added, “I will work to bring all my experience accumulated in forty years working at the Bank of Italy, as an inspector, as head of vigilance of the Italian banking and financial sector and in the context of the supervision of the European banking system.”

“I am sure,” he explained, “that the AIF will be able to give its own contribution in its role as a supervisory authority, so that the fundamental values of fairness and transparency of all the financial movements in which the Holy See is engaged may continue to be affirmed and recognized.”

“I intend to reassure the international system of financial information,” the AIF President concluded, “that all cooperation will be given in full respect of the best international standards. I will be at work already today to ensure continuity in the work of the AIF in pursuing its important institutional objectives.”

(Click here and scroll down to read what the Holy Father told journalists in regard to the AIF, Vatican finances, corruption, Peter’s Pence, etc. during the press conference on the papal plane yesterday as he was returning to Rome from Japan: https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/full-text-of-pope-francis-in-flight-press-conference-from-japan-36598)

POPE FRANCIS’ FINAL DAY IN JAPAN – THERE’S ALSO THIS….

POPE FRANCIS’ FINAL DAY IN JAPAN

Pope at Sophia University in Japan: Seek, find, and spread Divine Wisdom
Pope Francis visits Sophia University in Tokyo at the conclusion of his Apostolic Visit to Japan, and affirms that “quality education should not be the privilege of a few.” (+ VIDEO) https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-at-sophia-university-seek-find-and-spread-divine-wisdom.html

Social media takes on personal face as Pope visits Sophia University
As Pope Francis concludes his Apostolic Journey to Japan, students and staff at Sophia University wonder at how they came to greet him in person. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2019-11/tokyo-japan-sophia-university-welcomes-pope-francis.html

Pope bids farewell to Japan, leaves hearts overflowing with gratitude
Pope Francis concludes his Apostolic Journey to Japan, fulfilling his dream to be a missionary to the country and spurring the Japanese Church to protect all life. It was a bittersweet farewell that Pope Francis bade to the people of Japan on Tuesday, as he boarded the papal plane at Tokyo-Haneda airport. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-departs-japan-journey-overview.html

THERE’S ALSO THIS….
The Holy Father has named Msgr. Robert J. McClory of the clergy of the archdiocese of Detroit and rector of the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica in Royal Oak, Michigan as bishop of Gary in Indiana. His Vatican bio notes that in addition to his native English, he speaks, Italian, Spanish and knows sign language.

A longer biography can be read here: https://www.shrinechurch.com/monsignor-robert-j-mcclory-bio/

In part: Monsignor Robert J. McClory is the Pastor and Rector of the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica in Royal Oak, Michigan. He was appointed by Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron on July 1, 2017. As a newly ordained priest he offered his first Mass at Shrine on May 23, 1999.

He currently serves on the Archdiocese of Detroit Episcopal Council, College of Consultors, Priest Assignment Board, and New Evangelization Council. He is a leadership consultant with the Catholic Leadership Institute, offering leadership training to priests, deacons, seminarians, parish and diocesan leaders. He serves as the spiritual advisor to Detroit Team Eight for Teams of Our Lady, a marriage enrichment apostolate.

He has earned degrees at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University and completed his license in canon law at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome. He is a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and a third degree Knight of Columbus.

ROMAN CURIA NEWS: In the event you want to occasionally follow news from a few of the congregations, councils, dicasteries and other offices in the Roman Curia, here are some interesting links:

Click to access newsletter27.pdf

http://www.laityfamilylife.va/content/laityfamilylife/en.html

This was the highlight piece of news from Laity, Family and Life: On the Feast of Christ the King, the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life is happy to announce the establishment of an International Youth Advisory Body made up of 20 young people from different regions of the world and some international movements, associations and communities. A specific request was made in the Final Document of the 2018 Synod for the creation of an entity like this in order to reinforce the work being done by the Youth Office of the Dicastery (cf. no. 123).

POPE FRANCIS IN JAPAN – AMERICAN BISHOPS CONTINUE AD LIMINA VISITS TO ROME

POPE FRANCIS IN JAPAN

The Holy Father has had an amazing trip to Asia, first in Thailand as you saw from the colorful photos and videos and media reports, and now in Japan where he arrived late afternoon on Saturday, November 23. He is due back in Rome tomorrow, November 26, when he will surely visit Santa Maria Maggiore (St. Mary Major) and the image he so loves and that is so dear to Romans, Salus Populi Romani (Protectress or salvation of the Roman people).

Pope Francis’ final day in Japan is tomorrow, November 26. His schedule includes Mass with Jesuits in the chapel of Sophia University, followed by breakfast and a private meeting with the Collegium Maximum and a visit of the university. After a ceremony at Tokyo-Haneda airport, the papal plane departs for Rome at 11:35 local time, arriving back in Rome at 5:15 pm Rome time. There is an 8-hour time difference between Tokyo and Rome. The flight to Rome is estimated to take over 12 and a half hours.

Following are links to Vatican news reports of the various stops, visits and events of Pope Francis in Japan (Several have videos). The last Pope to visit Japan was Pope St. John Paul in 1981. The photo slideshow is from vaticannews.va

NOVEMBER 23

Pope to Japanese bishops: witness to the Gospel and protect life
In his first meeting in Japan, Pope Francis encourages Japan’s tiny Catholic community to witness daily to the Lord by protecting life and proclaiming the Gospel of compassion and mercy. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-apostolic-visit-japan-bishops-message.html

NOVEMBER 24
Pope in Nagasaki urges commitment to a world free of nuclear weapons – News Video
Visiting the Peace Memorial in Nagasaki on Sunday morning, Pope Francis confirms that peace and security cannot be guaranteed through false security based on fear and mutual mistrust. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/news-video-pope-nagasaki-urges-nuclear-free-world.html

The Pope’s day in Nagasaki and Hiroshima
A sixty-second video sums up Pope Francis’ poignant day in two Japanese cities that symbolise the tragedy of nuclear warfare: Nagasaki and Hiroshima. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-apostolic-visit-japan-nagasaki-hiroshima-video.html

Pope in Hiroshima: Use and possession of atomic energy for war is immoral
On his first full day in Japan, Pope Francis visits the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and describes it as a place where death and life, loss and rebirth, suffering and compassion have met. He reaffirms that the use and possesson of atomic energy for purposes of war is immoral. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-in-hiroshima-use-and-possession-of-atomic-energy-for-war-i.html

NOVEMBER 25
Pope to victims of Japan’s “triple disaster”: We are part of one another
Pope Francis meets with victims of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident that struck the Japanese city of Fukushima in 2011. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-to-victims-of-triple-disaster-we-are-part-of-one-another.html

Pope Francis meets victims of Japan’s “triple disaster” – News Video
On his third day in Japan, Pope Francis meets the victims of the earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear accident of 2011. He reminds us we are all members of one family, and that if one member suffers, we all do. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-meets-victims-of-japan-s-triple-disaster.html

Pope Francis meets with Japan’s Emperor Naruhito
Pope Francis meets with the Emperor of Japan, Naruhito, at the Tokyo Imperial Palace on Monday. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-private-meeting-japan-emperor.html

Pope to young people in Tokyo: ‘Japan needs you, the world needs you!’
One rendezvous Pope Francis never misses during an Apostolic Visit abroad is meeting with young people, “the builders of tomorrow’s society”. That meeting took place on the penultimate day of his visit to Japan, when he took time to meet with the youth in Tokyo. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-tokyo-japan-meeting-young-people.html

Pope at Mass in Tokyo: Gospel of life urges us to be a “field hospital”
Pope Francis celebrates Mass on Monday afternoon at the Tokyo Dome stadium. In his homily, the Pope says we need to get our priorities right, in line with the life of Jesus. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-apostolic-journey-japan-mass-tokyo0.html

Pope to authorities: your heritage is precious, your morals high
Pope Francis addresses members of civil society and the diplomatic corps, in Japan, and urges them to cherish their precious cultural heritage, maintaining solidarity with all members of our human family. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-address-authorities-civil-society-japan.html

Pope receives Scholas Occurrentes on its launch in Japan
On the penultimate day of his November 19-26 Apostolic Journey in Thailand and Japan, Pope Francis met representatives of the Scholas Occurrentes at the Apostolic Nunciature in Japan. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-apsotolic-journey-japan-sholas-occurrentes-inaugura.html

AMERICAN BISHOPS CONTINUE AD LIMINA VISITS TO ROME

American bishops from New Jersey and Pennsylvania are in Rome for their ad limina visit. The last time that U.S. prelates were in Rome for an ad limina (they are normally held every five years, the mandatory quinquennial ad limina apostolorum (to the threshold of the Apostles) was in 2011 with Pope Benedict.

New Jersey has 5 Latin rite dioceses and 2 Eastern rite dioceses, Pennsylvania has 8 Latin rite dioceses and 2 Eastern rite. Only Latin Rite bishops are in Rome for this 2019-2020 series of ad limina visits that end in January. New Jersey and Pennsylvania have a total of 32 bishops, including auxiliaries and emeritus bishops.

The bishops will be visiting various congregations, pontifical councils, dicasteries and other Roman Curial offices during the week and will have an audience with Pope Francis on Friday. They are scheduled to be at the Thanksgiving Day festivities on November 28 at the North American College that include a late afternoon Mass to be celebrated by Bishop James Chechhio of Metuchen, New Jersey, former rector of NAC. An abundant turkey dinner for invited guests will follow Mass.

PAPAL GIFTS TO CHURCH IN THAILAND

PAPAL GIFTS TO CHURCH IN THAILAND

Monstrance. Gift offered to the Parish priest of the Shrine to Blessed Nicolas Bunkerd.

Made of gilded metal as part of the modern manufacture of artistic objects for the liturgy, this monstrance shows elegant workmanship with a baroque flavor. Indeed, it is embellished with a series of decorative elements: in acanthus racemes, which not only frame the receptacle, but make the sunburst that surrounds the Body of Christ appear richer and brighter.

While the base is richly engraved but aniconic, the tall stem that supports the sunburst is instead a sort of elegant multifaceted pillar, with corners softened by the acanthus leaves. At the top of the same stem the leaves open up like a fan, from which some ears of wheat emerge, connected to the bunches of grapes held higher up by two fluttering angels.

While the ears of wheat refer to the “Passion” of Christ, from which the fruit of the “Resurrection” comes, the bunches of grapes instead recall the very essence of the duty of every good Christian to worship the Blessed Sacrament regularly.

Even the crown that surmounts the sunburst has a specific Christological meaning, since He is indicated in the Holy Scriptures as “Christ, King of Israel”, the “King of kings”, the “King of the Earth” and “King of nations”, although the essence of His incarnation lies in His announcement of the “Kingdom of Heaven”.

Below are images and description of the two gifts that Pope Francis gave to the apostolic nunciature in Bangkok upon completing his journey to Thailand

Cast of the Medal. Gift offered to the Apostolic Nunciature. On the left of the medal there is an image of Mary Assumed into Heaven, patroness of the Church in Thailand and, on the right, that of the Virgin Mary with the Child Jesus, venerated in Japan with the title of Virgo de Inventione Christianorum.

At the center of the two figures there is the cross and, above it, a palm leaf symbolizing martyrdom.

Around the border of the medal there are 33 seeds, each one of which contains the initial of the name of one of the martyrs: 26 of Japan and 7 of Thailand.

At the bottom there is the inscription of the Apostolic Trip and the date.

Artist: Daniela Longo

Mosaic of the coat of arms of Pope Francis. Gift offered to the Apostolic Nunciature. Entirely produced in mosaic using the traditional system of the manual cutting and setting of each individual colored tile, this panel depicts the coat of arms of His Holiness Pope Francis.

At the top of the papal coat of arms is the symbol of the Society of Jesus. It is composed of a radiant and flaming sun, in which there is the acronym IHS, and above it, a cross with three nails at its base. The acronym IHS lends itself to interpretation as Iesus Hominum Salvator (Jesus, Saviour of Humanity), or In Hoc Signo (Vinces), of Constantinian memory; whereas subsequently the Jesuits interpreted it as Habemus Iesum Socium (We have Jesus as Companion) and Societas Iesu humilis (Humble Society of Jesus). Aside from the symbol of the Society of Jesus, there is also a star, which according to heraldic tradition symbolizes the Virgin Mary, and the spikenard flower, which in Hispanic iconography refers to the chastity of Saint Joseph.

By selecting these symbols for his coat of arms, Pope Francis thus wished to express not only his particular devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus and his belonging to the Jesuits, but also his devotion to the Virgin Mary and to Saint Joseph, her spouse. The motto accompanying Pope Francis’ coat of arms – Miserando atque eligendo – instead pays homage to divine mercy. It is taken from the Homilies of Saint Bede the Venerable who, commenting on the Gospel episode of the vocation of Saint Matthew, wrote: Vidit ergo Iesus publicanum et quia miserando atque eligendo vidit, ait illi Sequere me (Jesus saw a tax collector and, as he looked at him with sentiment of love and chose him, He said to him, Follow me).

VATICAN INSIDER: VICE POSTULATOR SPEAKS ABOUT ARCHBISHOP SHEEN – THE HOLY FATHER IN THAILAND

VATICAN INSIDER: VICE POSTULATOR SPEAKS ABOUT ARCHBISHOP SHEEN

You must all know by now that the Vatican has approved a miracle through the intercession of Venerable Servant of God Archbishop Fulton Sheen and that on Monday, November 18, the diocese of Peoria in Illinois where he is buried announced that Sheen will be beatified in Peoria on December 21st. Given that great news, this weekend and next in the interview segment of Vatican Insider, we are re-airing a conversation I had with Msgr. Richard Soseman, a pastor in the diocese of Peoria and also the vice postulator of the cause for sainthood of Archbishop Sheen.

We talk about Msgr. Soseman’s priestly life, his time studying in Rome and then working at Congregation for clergy, how his life and priesthood was impacted by Sheen, how he was assigned to the cause for sainthood, the role of a vice postulator and the miracle that led to Sheen’s beatification. A second miracle, by the way, is needed for canonization. So stay tuned after the news highlights and a Q&A for Part I of that conversation.

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://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 http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: https://www.ewtn.com/radio/audio-archive (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

THE HOLY FATHER IN THAILAND

What it means to be a Christian
Pope Francis meets with priests, religious, consecrated men and women, seminarians and catechists in Bangkok, and shares guidelines on how to achieve apostolic fruitfulness, and on what it means to be a Christian. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-in-thailand-what-it-means-to-be-a-christian.html

Pope to Bishops: Holy Spirit is the protagonist of mission
Pope Francis addresses the Bishops of Thailand and of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) at the Shrine of Blessed Nicholas Bunkerd Kitbamrung in Bangkok. The Pope began his discourse to the Bishops by placing their meeting under the “watchful gaze” of Blessed Nicholas Bunkerd, “so that his example may inspire us with a great zeal for evangelization in all the local Churches of Asia.” https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-to-bishops-in-thailand-be-servants-not-managers.html

Encounter and mutual dialogue needed in a challenging world
Pope Francis meets Christian leaders and leaders of other religions at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, telling them co-operation and mutual respect are needed more than ever in a world filled with complex challenges. In 1897, Thailand’s King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) visited Rome and met Pope Leo XIII, the first time that a non-Christian Head of State was received in the Vatican. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-encounter-mutual-dialogue-needed-in-a-challenging-world.html

Pope to youth in Thailand: rooted in faith through friendship with Jesus
Pope Francis celebrates Mass for young people Friday evening in Bangkok’s Cathedral. A strong faith based on a deep friendship with Jesus, he says, will see them through life’s difficulties, as their elders testify. Pope Francis is asking the young people of Thailand to be deeply rooted and anchored in their faith by cultivating a friendship with Jesus, saying it will provide them with the oil needed to light up the path of their life and those of others around them. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-apostolic-journey-thailand-mass-youth.html

VATICAN FINANCES: ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY – CARDINAL PAROLIN SAYS HE ARRANGED CONTROVERSIAL HOSPITAL LOAN, PAPAL FOUNDATION GRANT

Pope Francis today started his first full day of activities on his visit to Thailand, the first of two nations he will visit between now and November 26. I have posted a separate column on that journey.

VATICAN FINANCES: ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY

I also posted this today on Facebook and Twitter: A cogent and easy to read piece that goes to the heart of the matter: https://religionnews.com/2019/11/20/four-powers-the-pope-needs-to-grant-the-new-chief-of-vatican-finances/
And the Wall Street Journal posted this:

VATICAN LOSES ACCESS TO INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL WATCHDOG INFORMATION – The Egmont Group, a network of financial intelligence units, has suspended the Vatican watchdog from accessing its secure web system – by Francis X. Rocca

ROME -An international network of financial watchdogs has suspended the Vatican’s access to its information, dealing a major blow to the Vatican’s financial credibility under Pope Francis. The Egmont Group, a Toronto-based network of more than 160 national financial intelligence units around the world, has decided to suspend the Vatican watchdog from access to its secure web system, through which members share information about money laundering, financing of terrorism, tax fraud and other financial crimes….” (https://www.wsj.com/articles/vatican-loses-access-to-international-financial-watchdog-information-11574199689)

CARDINAL PAROLIN SAYS HE ARRANGED CONTROVERSIAL HOSPITAL LOAN, PAPAL FOUNDATION GRANT

Vatican City, Nov 20, 2019 / 10:26 am (CNA) – The Vatican Secretary of State told CNA this week that he is responsible for arranging a controversial loan for the purchase of a bankrupt Italian hospital, and that he arranged with Cardinal Donald Wuerl a grant from the U.S.-based Papal Foundation to cover the loan when it could not be repaid.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin told CNA he felt “compelled” to address the matter “in order to put an end to a controversy that takes away time and resources from our service to the Lord, to the Church and to the Pope, and disturbs the conscience of many Catholics.”

“The operations involving IDI…are ascribable to myself,” Parolin told CNA Nov. 19, while insisting that his actions regarding the IDI were both legal and transparent.

CNA asked Parolin to confirm that he personally had arranged a 2014 loan of 50 million euros from APSA, the Vatican’s central bank, to partially fund the purchase of the bankrupt IDI hospital. The cardinal confirmed that he had.

The IDI was purchased in 2015 by a for-profit partnership of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and the religious order that had owned and managed the hospital while it went bankrupt, incurred 800 million euros of debt, and saw some of its former administrators prosecuted and jailed for systematic fraud and embezzlement.

Though Parolin said the arrangement was “carried out with fair intentions and honest means,” the APSA loan is likely to draw scrutiny from European banking regulators, as the loan seems to violate 2012 regulatory agreements prohibiting the bank from making commercial loans.

Those agreements were the result of an on-site inspection by Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s Committee for combating money laundering and terrorist financing, and legally prohibit APSA from providing services to individuals or taking part in commercial transactions.

CNA also asked Parolin to confirm that he had personally devised a plan with Wuerl to request Papal Foundation funds to cover APSA’s bad loan. The cardinal confirmed that he had.

The $25 million grant request was widely understood to be an effort to remove the bad debt from APSA’s ledger before it drew attention, after it became obvious that the debt-ridden and insolvent hospital could not repay its loan to the Vatican central bank.

Wuerl, however, told the Papal Foundation board that the funds were intended to save the IDI from closure by covering short term operating deficits. But lay board members raised questions about whether the cash was really intended to meet an operating shortfall at the hospital, or to cover the bad debt at APSA.

Papal Foundation trustees and donors expressed also skepticism about the amount requested, which was far larger than its normal disbursements, which ordinarily are grants of a few hundred thousand dollars to charities around the world, selected by the Holy See.

After one board member objected to the loan by letter, former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was then a member of the board, wrote that raising concerns was “irresponsible, and seriously harmful to The Papal Foundation.”

McCarrick was under investigation for sexually abusing minors at the time he intervened in the matter.

Despite objections, the grant was ultimately approved by the Papal Foundation board in a secret ballot – sources inside the foundation told CNA that board members believe all but one of the bishop members voted for it, while all but one of the lay members voted against approving the grant.

Dispersal of the money stalled after the board continued to ask questions about the final destination of the funds.

Two initial installments were sent to Rome in late 2017 and early 2018, totaling $13 million. After internal disagreements about the grant went public, Cardinal Wuerl said he would ask the Vatican to cancel the request and return the funds. In early 2019 Parolin wrote to the board saying the $13 million would be reclassified as a loan, rather than a grant, and would be repaid as credits against future grant requests.

When the grant money stalled, APSA was forced to write off 30 million of the 50 million euro loan, wiping out APSA’s profits for the 2018 financial year.

Bishop Nunzio Galantino, head of APSA, acknowledged the loan and its write-off in September, even though APSA is legally prohibited from making loans that finance commercial transactions, due to its 2012 moneyval agreement.

After the Oct. 21 publication of a book that alleged the Vatican was nearly insolvent, Galatino blamed the loan for APSA’s failure to register a profit for the first time in its history.

Parolin answered CNA’s questions this week after Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who has widely been reported to have been the driving force behind both arranging the loan and pushing for the Papal Foundation grant, contacted CNA to deny his involvement in those matters. He told CNA that both matters were the “competence” of the Secretary of State, Parolin.

Becciu told CNA by text message earlier this month that he had not known about the APSA loan until after it was arranged, and that he had no part in requesting a grant from the Papal Foundation.

The 2014 APSA loan was arranged over the strong objections of Cardinal George Pell, then serving as the Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy and charged by Pope Francis with enforcing financial accountability on the Roman Curia. CNA has also reported a loan request for the same purpose had been vetoed by the IOR, the Vatican’s deposit bank, after its president, Jean-Baptiste Douville de Franssu, and Pell agreed that the IDI was unviable and the money would never be repaid.

While Parolin took responsibility for the IDI arrangements, Vatican officials across several dicasteries have told CNA Becciu was involved in organizing both the loan and coordinating the lobbying effort for the Papal Foundation grant. That effort included a visit to McCarrick by the secretary of APSA, Fr. Mauro Rivella, in Washington, DC, shortly after the grant request was made. The visit took place before McCarrick pushed board members to approve the grant, and after an investigation into McCarrick’s sexual misconduct had begun.

Still, Parolin insisted that “as far as I know, Cardinal Becciu had no role whatsoever in” those matters.

Nevertheless, Becciu’s personal connections to the IDI hospital go back at least as far as his appointment to the position of sostituto in 2011.

Shortly after Becciu began working as the second-ranking official in the Secretariat of State, Fr. Franco Decaminada, the IDI’s president – subsequently arrested, prosecuted, imprisoned, and laicised for theft and fraud – approached him for support on a proposal that the Secretariat of State supply the IDI with 200 million euros, ostensibly to fund a take over of another hospital by the IDI, which was already teetering on insolvency.

In October, Becciu told CNA he did not recall any such proposal, though it had been reported previously in Italian media. Shortly after that proposal was made, Decaminada hired Becciu’s niece Maria Piera Becciu, as his personal secretary.

In October, CNA asked Becciu if he or his position at the Secretariat of State had played any role in the hiring of his niece at the IDI. He told CNA that, “she applied for the position and was hired.”

Last month, Becciu told CNA that his interest and involvement with the IDI ceased when Cardinal Parolin was appointed Secretary of State.

“Cardinal Parolin assumed the office of Secretary of State [in 2013] and I no longer concerned myself with IDI,” he said.

While taking responsibility for the APSA loan and the Papal Foundation request, Parolin told CNA that the interpretation of those events “by certain media is a different matter, presenting these operations as non-transparent, irregular or even illegal: this, as far as I am concerned, is not the truth.”

But beyond the APSA loan and Papal Foundation grant, other aspects of the IDI purchase have raised serious questions.

In addition to the APSA loan, the Vatican also used 30 million euros diverted from the Bambino Gesu, another hospital under its oversight, to purchase the bankrupt IDI. That money was taken from an 80 million euro grant the Italian government had given the Bambino Gesu.

Cardinal Guisseppe Versaldi arranged that diversion. At the time, Versaldi led the partnership to buy the IDI, oversaw the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See and was the Vatican’s delegate to oversee the Italian province of the Sons of the Immaculate Conception, the religious congregation that had owned the hospital, had a partnership with the Vatican to buy it again, and had also been dragged into insolvency.

Wiretaps recorded Versaldi discussing the plan with Giuseppe Profiti, the president of Bambino Gesu, with the two agreeing to conceal the misdirection of the funds from Pope Francis.

Versaldi and Profiti later denied any wrongdoing, and the cardinal claimed he only wanted to spare the pope the technical details of the efforts to save the IDI.

In his comments to CNA Parolin also addressed a lament from Becciu, who told CNA this month that while he is uncertain which Vatican officials have suggested he is connected to the IDI affair, he believes he could be the victim of a misinformation campaign, designed to sully his reputation by linking him to the affair.

Parolin does not think that to be the case.

“I believe there is no curial plot. In any case, I am completely extraneous to any operation of the kind: if there were such an operation I would condemn it in the strongest possible terms,” Parolin told CNA.

A spokesman for Wuerl told CNA that the cardinal “has no comment beyond reiterating those facts already on the public record regarding the Papal Foundation application process.”

POPE FRANCIS’ APOSTOLIC JOURNEY TO THAILAND

Update on papal trip to Thailand from Vaticannews.va:

POPE FRANCIS’ APOSTOLIC JOURNEY TO THAILAND

The King and the Pope
On his first full day in Bangkok, Pope Francis meets privately with King Maha Vajiralongkorn, the official protector of Buddhism in Thailand. One event of his 32nd Apostolic Visit abroad that took place far from the public eye was Pope Francis’ private meeting with the King of Thailand. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-thailand-king-vajiralongkorn.html

Pope hospital visit: Jesus close to us in our frailty and in our wounds
Pope Francis visits the patients and staff of the St. Louis Hospital in Bangkok, which this year is celebrating the 120th anniversary of its foundation. The St. Louis Hospital in Bangkok was founded in 1898 by the Apostolic Victor of Siam, Archbishop Louis Vey. Its mission is based on the motto “Where love is, there God is.” Today the hospital is run by a team of doctors, nurses and researchers with the help of state of the art medical equipment. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-hospital-visit-jesus-close-to-us-in-our-frailty-and-in-our.html

Pope in Thailand: Catholics and Buddhists can live as “good neighbours”
On his first full day in Thailand, Pope Francis meets the Buddhist Supreme Patriarch and confirms the Church’s commitment to open and respectful dialogue in the service of peace. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-in-thailand-catholics-and-buddhists-can-live-together.html

Pope in Thailand: the commitment to live in justice, solidarity and harmony
Pope Francis delivers his first official discourse in Thailand to members of government, civil and religious leaders, and the diplomatic corps. Among other things, he reminds them that being at the service of the common good is one of the noblest tasks anyone can undertake. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-in-thailand-the-commitment-to-live-in-justice-solidarity.html

Pope urges Thailand’s Catholics to be missionary disciples
Pope Francis celebrates his first public Mass on Thai soil Thursday evening at Bangkok’s National Stadium. Reflecting on the Gospel of the memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, he speaks about what missionary discipleship consists in. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-apostolic-visit-thailand-mass-bangkok.html

Pope’s first Mass in Thailand – photo gallery
Celebrating his first public Mass at the National Stadium in the Thai capital, Bangkok, the Pope speaks about what missionary discipleship consists in. Pope Francis is in Thailand to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the establishment of the Apostolic Vicariate of Siam in 1669 that formally marked the beginning of the Church in the country. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-apostolic-visit-thailand-mass-bangkok-photogallery.html