POPE FRANCIS PRAYS FOR VICTIMS OF MEDITERRANEAN SHIPWRECK – POPE FRANCIS: THE OUR FATHER IS THE SYNTHESIS OF EVERY PRAYER – BONES FOUND IN TEUTONIC CEMETERY DATE TO END OF 1800s

POPE FRANCIS PRAYS FOR VICTIMS OF MEDITERRANEAN SHIPWRECK

At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis remembered migrants who drowned in a shipwreck earlier this week.
By Christopher Wells (vaticannews)

Pope Francis has once again called on the international community “to act with speed and decisiveness” to address the issue of migration. His appeal came during the Sunday Angelus, when he prayed for victims of a shipwreck in the Mediterranean earlier this week.

Scores of migrants are feared drowned after a boat carrying migrants from Libya sank about 8 km from the coast of Libya on Wednesday. It is believed to be the worst shipwreck on the Mediterranean this year. Authorities said at least 115 are missing, while 134 were rescued. One body was recovered.

According to the UN refugee office, a total of 164 people had already died on the route between Libya and Europe in the first four months of 2019.

In his remarks on Sunday, Pope Francis called for action “to avoid a repetition of such tragedies, and to ensure the security and dignity of all.” He concluded his appeal by asking those present “to pray with me for the victims and for their families… and also, from the heart, to ask: ‘Father, Why?’”

POPE FRANCIS: THE OUR FATHER IS THE SYNTHESIS OF EVERY PRAYER

At the Angelus, Pope Francis reflected on the Our Father, “one of the most precious gifts” Jesus has left us.
By Christopher Wells (vaticannews)

In his reflection on Sunday’s Gospel, Pope Francis said that the disciples wanted “to experience the same ‘quality’” of prayer was present in Jesus’ relationship with the Father. “They could see that prayer was an essential dimension in the life of their Master,” he said, noting that, “each of His important actions was characterized by extended periods of prayer.” They recognized, too, that Jesus “did not pray like the other masters of the time,” rather, “His prayer is an intimate link with the Father.”

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, the Pope said, the Lord did not simply “give an abstract definition of prayer, or teach an effective technique for praying in order to ‘obtain’ something.” Instead, Jesus shared with them His own experience of prayer, “putting them directly in contact with the Father, and arousing in them a longing for a personal relationship with Him.”

This, Pope Francis said, “is the novelty of Christian prayer: It is a dialogue between people who love one another, a dialogue based on trust, sustained by listening, and open to the commitment to solidarity.”

The prayer Jesus taught them, the Our Father, “is one of the most precious gifts left to us by the divine Master during His earthly mission,” the Pope said. With this prayer, Jesus teaches us “to enter into the Fatherhood of God, and shows us the way to enter into prayerful and direct dialogue with Him, through the way of filial trust.” The Our Father, he said, “is the synthesis of every prayer, and we always address it to the Father in communion with our brothers and sisters.”

BONES FOUND IN TEUTONIC CEMETERY DATE TO END OF 1800s

The Vatican released communications on Sunday, July 28, on the work done over the weekend in Vatican City’s Teutonic cemetery to analyze bone fragments found in two ossuaries to see if any bones or fragments belong to Manuela Orlando, the daughter of an Italian employee and citizen who disappeared on June 22, 1983, never returning home after a music lesson.

The Vatican has been examining graves and ossuaries since July 11, following an anonymous letter that arrived at the Orlandi home in the summer of 2018 that suggested Manuela’s remains could be found in the Teutonic cemetery where there was an angel and the words “requiescat in pace (rest in peace).”

Workers survey bones taken from an ossuary at the Teutonic cemetery in this image released by the Vatican July 27, 2019. The bones were inspected in the hope of finding the missing remains of a German princess and duchess and possibly the remains of Emanuela Orlandi, who disappeared in 1983. The Vatican announced that none of the bones postdate the 1800s. (CNS photo/Vatican Media) See VATICAN-BONES-ORLANDI July 29, 2019. 

Sunday’s Vatican statement said, “At 9.15 am this morning, as indicated yesterday, the morphological analysis of the findings discovered in the ossuaries in the Teutonic cemetery was resumed, as part of the investigative tasks of the Orlandi case. Present were Prof. Arcudi and his staff, the staff of the Fabbrica di San Pietro and the COS, the Operative Security Center of the Vatican Gendarmerie, the Promoter of Justice of Vatican City State Court, Prof. Gian Piero Milano, and his deputy, Prof. Alessandro Diddi, the lawyer and expert appointed by the Orlandi family and the officer in charge of the Judicial Police of the Vatican Gendarmerie Corps.

“At 12.30 the work in the cemetery was concluded. as part of the investigative tasks of the Orlandi case. Professor Giovanni Arcudi, assisted by his staff – in the presence of a trusted expert appointed by the Orlandi Family – completed the morphological analysis of the contents of the ossuaries (several hundred partially intact bone structures and thousands of fragments). During the forensic anthropological investigations, Prof. Arcudi did not find any bone structures that date back to a later period than the end of 1800.

“The consultant (for the family) requested a laboratory check on about seventy bone findings; Prof. Arcudi and his team did not endorse the request because the same bony structures have very ancient dating characteristics. For these reasons, the samples were collected and kept at the Gendarmerie Command available to the Promoter of Justice.

“In communicating these operations, the Holy See confirms its desire to seek the truth of the story of the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi and categorically denies that this attitude of full cooperation and transparency can in any way mean, as some people sometimes say, an implicit admission of responsibility.

“The search for truth is in the interest of the Holy See and the Orlandi family. The transparent will of the Holy See has already emerged, in addition to the investigations and examinations in progress at the Teutonico cemetery as in those carried out by Italian authorities following a report by the Vatican gendarmerie, at the headquarters of Villa Giorgina, the nunciature in Italy. A request for dismissal by the Public Prosecutor’s Office at the Court of Rome was communicated on 3 July.

“As to Villa Giorgina: bones found there July 25, 2018, were ascertained by Italian authorities to date back to a period between 90 and 230 AD. This belies any connection with the painful disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi.”

CARDINAL DELIVERS PAPAL LETTER TO PRESIDENT AL-ASSAD OF SYRIA – CARDINAL PAROLIN: “POPE ASKING ASSAD FOR CONCRETE INITIATIVES ON BEHALF OF SYRIAN POPULATION” – POPE: 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF MOON LANDING “INSPIRATION FOR COMMON GOOD” – WORK STARTS ON BONE OSSUAIRIES FOUND IN TEUTONIC CEMETERY

A statement this morning from Matteo Bruni notes this is his first day as the new director of the Holy See Press Office: “Today I begin my appointment as director of the Holy See Press Office after serving there for ten years in a spirit of service to the Pope and the Holy See with the experience and strength at my disposal. I thank my colleague and friend Alessandro Gisotti for having generously and expertly led the press office in recent months. I am aware of the delicate and decisive task of information and I am sure I will find support in my colleagues, whose value and professionalism in these intense years of work for the Holy See I have come to know. I thank the Holy Father for his confidence and the prefect of the Communication Department, Paolo Ruffini, for the support of the dicastery, which I know will not be lacking.

CARDINAL DELIVERS PAPAL LETTER TO PRESIDENT AL-ASSAD OF SYRIA

Statement by Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni on Monday, July 22: “This morning in Damascus, Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Integral Human Development, accompanied by Cardinal Mario Zenari, Apostolic Nuncio in Syria, and by the undersecretary of the aforementioned Dicastery, Fr. Nicola Riccardi, met with President Bashar Hafez al-Assad. During the meeting, the Cardinal prefect presented to the head of State a letter addressed to him by the Holy Father, which expresses the profound concern of His Holiness Pope Francis for the humanitarian situation in Syria, with particular reference to the dramatic conditions of the civil population in Idlib.”

CARDINAL PAROLIN: “POPE ASKING ASSAD FOR CONCRETE INITIATIVES ON BEHALF OF SYRIAN POPULATION”

Acts of war and bombardments against defenseless civilians continue to occur in Syria. With dozens of health facilities destroyed or closed in Idlib Province, Pope Francis asks Cardinal Turkson to deliver a letter to the Syrian President.
By Andrea Tornielli

Protection of civilian life, an end to the humanitarian catastrophe in Idlib Province, concrete initiatives for a safe return of displaced persons, the release of detainees and access for families to information regarding their loved ones, and humane conditions for political prisoners. All this and a renewed appeal for a resumption of dialogue and negotiations with the involvement of the international community.

These are the concerns and concrete requests contained in a letter that Pope Francis addressed to Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad. The Pope’s letter, dated 28 June 2019, was delivered only hours ago by Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

The Cardinal, bearing the missive written in English, was accompanied by Fr. Nicola Riccardi, O.F.M., Undersecretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and by Cardinal Mario Zenari, the Apostolic Nuncio to Syria.

Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, the Pope’s primary collaborator, spoke to Vatican News about the content and purpose of the letter.

Q: Your Eminence, why did the Pope decide to write to President Assad?
Cardinal Parolin: “At the heart of this new initiative lies Pope Francis’ and the Holy See’s concern for the emergency humanitarian situation in Syria, in particular in Idlib Province. More than 3 million people live in the area, of which 1.3 million are internally displaced, forced by the long conflict in Syria to find refuge in the area, which last year was declared demilitarized. The recent military offensive has added to the already extreme living conditions they had to endure in the camps, forcing many of them to flee. The Pope follows with apprehension and great sorrow the tragic fate of the civilian population, children in particular, caught up in the bloody fighting. Unfortunately, the war grinds on – it has not ended: the bombings continue, various health facilities have been destroyed in that area, while many others have had to suspend their activities, either completely or partially.”

Q: What is the Pope asking of President Assad in the letter that was delivered?
A: “Pope Francis renews his appeal for the protection of civilian life and the preservation of the main infrastructures, such as schools, hospitals, and health facilities. What is happening is intolerable and inhuman. The Holy Father asks the President to do everything possible to put an end to this humanitarian catastrophe, in order to protect the defenseless population, especially those who are most vulnerable, in respect for international humanitarian law”.

Q: From what you have said, it seems that the intent of the papal initiative is not “political”. Is that true?
A: “Yes, it is. As I have already explained, the concern is humanitarian-based. The Pope continues to pray that Syria may regain a climate of fraternity after these long years of war, and that reconciliation may prevail over division and hatred. In his letter, the Holy Father uses the word ‘reconciliation’ three times: this is his objective, for the good of that country and its defenseless population. The Pope encourages President Bashar al-Assad to carry out significant gestures in this urgent process of reconciliation, and he offers concrete examples. He cites, for example, creating the conditions needed for the safe return of exiles and internally displaced persons, and for all those who wish to return to the country after having been forced to leave. He also mentions the release of prisoners and the access of families to information about their loved ones.”

Q: Another dramatic issue is that of political prisoners. Does the Pope mention this topic?
A: “Yes, Pope Francis is particularly concerned about the situation of political prisoners, to whom – he affirms –humane conditions cannot be denied. In March 2018, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic published a report on this issue, saying there are tens of thousands of people who have been arbitrarily detained. At times – in unofficial prisons and in unknown places – they are allegedly subjected to various forms of torture without any legal assistance or contact with their families. The report notes that, unfortunately, many of them die in prison, while others are summarily executed.”

Q: What then is the purpose of this new initiative by Francis?
A: “The Holy See has always insisted on the need to seek an appropriate political solution to end the conflict, overcoming partisan interests. And this must be done using the instruments of diplomacy, dialogue, and negotiation, along with the assistance of the international community. We have had to learn once again that war generates war and violence incites violence – as the Pope has said many times, and as he repeats also in this letter. Unfortunately, we are concerned about the stalemate in the negotiation process – especially that seen in Geneva – for a political solution to the crisis. That is why, in the letter sent to President Assad, the Holy Father encourages him to show good will and to work towards finding viable solutions, putting an end to a conflict which has lasted far too long and which has led to the loss of numerous innocent lives”.

POPE: 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF MOON LANDING “INSPIRATION FOR COMMON GOOD”

Pope Francis Sunday at the Angelus recalled the first time a person set foot on the moon, expressing hope that achieving this goal might inspire work toward even greater ones.

By Francesca Merlo (vaticannews)

“Fifty years ago, yesterday”, Pope Francis said on Sunday, “Man set foot on the moon, achieving an extraordinary dream.”

Addressing the crowd gathered in St Peter’s Square, the Pope expressed his hope that the memory of “that great step for humanity” might spark the desire to reach even “greater goals – more dignity for the weak, more justice among peoples, and more future for our common home.”

Pope St. Paul VI, who expressed much interest in space travel and spent lots of time at the Vatican Observatory, was Pope on July 20, 1969. On that night, along with millions worldwide he watched Neil Armstrong become the first man to set foot on the moon.

Fifty years later, Pope Francis has dedicated much of his pontificate to the fight for the rights of those who are most vulnerable in today’s society as well as for the care of our common home.

Francis has expressed, on numerous occasions, in both words and actions, his desire to help those in need: migrants, the poor, the ill, the elderly and our planet – our common home.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the historic moon landing, therefore, Pope Francis shared his hopes for the future and that people worldwide might be inspired by this historic achievement to pursue these fights, and to reach, as mankind did 50 years ago, other extraordinary dreams.

WORK STARTS ON BONE OSSUAIRIES FOUND IN TEUTONIC CEMETERY

Two statements were sent out on Saturday, July 20, by Alessandro Gisotti, interim director of the Holy See Press Office regarding the recent discovery of bones in the Teutonic College, adjacent to the Teutonic cemetery in Vatican City:

Gisotti began: “At 9am this morning, operations began regularly at the Teutonic cemetery as part of the investigative tasks of the Orlandi case. As indicated in the decree of the Promoter of Justice of Vatican City State, the operations concern two ossuaries identified in an area adjacent to the tombs of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe and Princess Carlotta Federica of Mecklenburg.

“The remains were analyzed and studied on site in these hours by Prof. Giovanni Arcudi and his staff in the presence of the trusted expert appointed by the Orlandi family – according to internationally recognized protocols.

“It is not possible to predict, at the moment, the duration of the work to complete the morphological analysis of the remains found in the ossuaries.

“Today, in addition to Prof. Arcudi and his staff, the staff of the Fabbrica di San Pietro are working in the Teutonic Campo Santo for the opening and closing of the ossuaries and the staff of the COS, the Vatican Gendarme Security Operations Center. Present the Promoter of Justice of the Court of the State of the Vatican City, Prof. Gian Piero Milano, and his Deputy Prof. Alessandro Diddi, the lawyer of the Orlandi Family and the Officer in charge of the services of the judicial police of the Corps of the Gendarmerie.

“With this new forensic activity – after the operations of July 11 – the availability of the Holy See to the Orlandi Family is highlighted once again. An availability shown from the outset to accepting the (family) requests for verification (of possible remains) in the Teutonic cemetery, even on the basis of a mere anonymous report.

The second statement this afternoon noted that, “At 3 pm, work in the Teutonic cemetery was concluded as part of the investigative tasks of the Orlandi case. Prof. Giovanni Arcudi and his staff – in the presence of the trusted expert appointed by the Orlandi Family – brought to light the remains present in the ossuaries, which were subjected to an initial evaluation.
“According to the Office of the Promoter of Justice of the Vatican City State Court, the expert operations will continue on Saturday July 27, at 9 am, with an in-depth morphological analysis of the remains contained in the ossuaries.”

POPE AT ANGELUS: JESUS SHOWS US THE REMEDIES FOR TEMPTATIONS – POPE, ROMAN CURIA ON LENTEN RETREAT – PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES CRASH

POPE AT ANGELUS: JESUS SHOWS US THE REMEDIES FOR TEMPTATIONS

On the First Sunday of Lent, Pope Francis reflects on the day’s Gospel, which tells how Jesus was led into the desert where He was tempted by the devil.

By Christopher Wells (Vaticannews)

In his Angelus address, Pope Francis said the three temptations Jesus faced “indicate three paths that the world always proposes, promising great success”.

The greed of possession
After Jesus had fasted for forty days, the devil tempted Him to turn stones to bread. This, the Pope said, is “the path of the greed of possession”. The devil always begins with our natural and legitimate needs, he explained, “in order to push us to believe” that we can find fulfillment “without God, and even contrary to Him”. Jesus, however, responds by quoting Scripture: “Man shall not live by bread alone”.

The second temptation is “the prospect of becoming a powerful and glorious Messiah”, which Pope Francis describes as “the path of human glory”. Bowing down before “idols of money, of success, of power” can corrupt us. This leads to “the intoxication of an empty joy that soon fades away” – and this, the Pope says, is why Jesus responds, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve”.

Instrumentalizing God
Finally, the devil leads Jesus to the pinnacle of the Temple in Jerusalem, and “invites Him to cast Himself down” in order to demonstrate His divine power. Pope Francis calls this the path of “instrumentalizing God for one’s own advantage”. Jesus rejects the devil’s temptation, “with the firm decision to remain humble and confident before the Father”. Once again, the Lord quotes Scripture: “You shall not tempt the Lord your God”. In this way, the Pope said, Jesus “rejects perhaps the most subtle temptation: wanting ‘to bring God over to our own side’, by asking Him for graces that only serve to satisfy our own pride”.

All these temptations, the Pope said, are really “illusions” that promise “success and happiness”, but in reality “are all completely foreign to God’s way of acting”. In fact, he said, “they actually separate us from God, because they are the work of Satan”.

Remedies for temptation
Jesus overcomes these three temptations by personally facing them, “in order fully to adhere to the Father’s plan”. In doing so, Pope Francis said, Jesus shows us the remedies for temptations – namely, “the interior life, faith in God, the certainty of His love.” With the certainty that God is Father, and that He loves us, “we will overcome every temptation”.

So, Pope Francis said in conclusion, “let us take advantage of Lent, as a privileged time to purify ourselves, in order to experience the consoling presence of God in our life”.

POPE, ROMAN CURIA ON LENTEN RETREAT

Pope Francis and ranking members of the Roman Curia departed the Vatican Sunday afternoon for Ariccia where they will spend the next five days on retreat. Ariccia a 20-mile drive south of Rome, is home to the Casa Divin Maestro (Divine Master House), run by the Pauline Fathers. The retreat began at 6 pm Sunday with Eucharistic adoration then vespers at 6:45 and dinner at 7:30.

Click here to see where the Holy Father and other guests are staying (be sure to click on ‘Places and Surroundings” for some lovely additional photos): http://www.casadivinmaestro.it/www/aaa_intestazioni/intestazione.asp?LANGUAGE=ENG

This tradition of having weeklong retreats or “spiritual exercises” began with Pope Pius XI in 1925 and for over three decades took place in Advent. Pope St. John XXIII changed that when, a month before the October 1962 start of Vatican Council II, he went on retreat to prepare for the Council. A year after Pope John’s death in 1963, Pope Paul VI moved the retreat dates to Lent. For years they were held in the Vatican’s Redemptoris Mater Chapel, starting the first Sunday of Lent and concluding the following Saturday morning. (photo Vaticannews)

Pope Francis decided that the 2014 retreat – a year after his election – would take place outside the Vatican. This year, Pope Francis will be in Ariccia on March 13, the 6th anniversary of his election to the papacy.

The daily schedule looks like this:
· – 7.30 am, lauds and a brief reflection
· – 8.00 am, breakfast
· – 9.30 am, first meditation
· – 11.30 am, Eucharistic concelebration
· – 12.30 lunch
· – 4 pm, second meditation
· – 6 pm, Eucharistic adoration
· – 6.45 pm, vespers
· – 7.30 pm, dinner

Pope Francis mentioned the retreat at yesterday’s Angelus: “I hope that for everyone the Lenten journey, recently begun, will be rich in fruits; and I ask you a remembrance in prayer for me and my collaborators of the Roman Curia as this evening we will begin the week of Spiritual Exercises.”

And he tweeted an almost identical message: “I ask everyone to remember in prayer both myself and my collaborators in the Roman Curia as this evening we will begin the week of Spiritual Exercises.”

In this period, all papal audiences, including Wednesday’s general audience, are suspended.

PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES CRASH

The following telegram was sent in Pope Francis’ name by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin for the plane crash yesterday of Ethiopian airlines about 50km from Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. All aboard perished. The Vaticannews story did not say to whom the telegram was sent:

Having learned with sadness of the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash, His Holiness Pope Francis offers prayers for the deceased from various countries and commends their souls to the mercy of Almighty God. Pope Francis sends heartfelt condolences to their families, and upon all who mourn this tragic loss he invokes the divine blessings of consolation and strength.

POPE AT ANGELUS: JOIN FORCES TO END HUMAN TRAFFICKING

As he did at today’s Angelus, Pope Francis has spoken out many times on human trafficking. It has also been for quite some time now one of the main concerns of the United States and, in particular, the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See (see their website: https://va.usembassy.gov/)

POPE AT ANGELUS: JOIN FORCES TO END HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Pope Francis appeals for renewed efforts to protect victims of human trafficking, and to denounce the exploitation and slavery of men, women, and children.
By Christopher Wells (vaticannews)

At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis drew attention to the “plague” of human trafficking, and called on government leaders to confront the causes of the trade in human beings.

Recalling the World Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking, which takes place on the feast of St Josephine Bakhita, the Holy Father said the motto for this year’s observance – “Together against Human Trafficking” – is “an invitation to join forces to overcome this challenge”. All of us, he said, “can and must work together to denounce the cases of exploitation and slavery of men, women, and children”.

Prayer sustains our commitment

The Pope insisted, “Prayer is the force that sustains our common commitment” to ending trafficking. He led the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square in a prayer to St. Josephine, who had herself suffered as a slave before her conversion to Christianity.

The following prayer was printed and distributed at the Angelus, and shown on the screens for those present:

St Josephine Bakhita, as a child you were sold as a slave, and had to face unspeakable difficulties and suffering.

Once you were freed from physical slavery, you found true redemption in the encounter with Christ and His Church.

Saint Josephine Bakhita, help all those who are trapped in slavery.
In their name, intercede with the God of mercy, that the chains of their captivity might be broken.

May God Himself free all those who have been threatened, wounded, or mistreated by the trade and trafficking of human beings. May He bring relief to those who survive this slavery, and teach them to see Jesus as a model of faith and hope, that their wounds may be healed.

We implore you to pray and intercede for all of us: that we not fall into indifference; that we may open our eyes and look upon the miseries and wounds of so many brothers and sisters deprived of their dignity and freedom, and hear their cry for help. Amen.

A strong commitment
At a press conference on Friday, the actual World Day of Prayer and Awareness against Human Trafficking, Jesuit Father Frédéric Fornos noted Pope Francis’ strong commitment “to the fight against this scourge in its different expressions”. It is a “drama”, he said, that the Holy Father has had “in heart and in prayer for a long time”.

The scourge of human trafficking is also the subject of Pope Francis’ February prayer intention: “Let us pray for a generous welcome to the victims of human trafficking, enforced prostitution, and violence.”

ANGELUS: POPE FRANCIS RECALLS UKRAINE HOLODOMOR FAMINE – CARDINAL O’MALLEY: “FEBRUARY MEETING WILL BE AN IMPORTANT MOMENT” – ABP SCICLUNA: PROTECTION OF MINORS IS A GLOBAL, SYNODAL ISSUE

Pope Francis on Monday spent the morning in a meeting with the heads of dicasteries of the Roman Curia. This occurs several times a year and there are usually no Vatican statements following those meetings.

Yesterday, as you know, the Church celebrated the Solemnity of Christ the King, instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius XI to respond to growing secularism. In a note about this feast, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote: “In 2018, the Church faces pressures from without and crisis from within. In addition to the challenges that Christians in a secular society must confront, the body of Christ must also tend to the wounds inflicted on the Church by priests and bishops who either committed acts of sexual abuse themselves or failed to respond to abuse with justice when they had the opportunity.”

Relative to the sex abuse scandal, over the weekend in Rome, the Vatican announced that an organizing Committee has been instituted in view of the February 21-24 meeting in Rome on this crisis. Pope Francis named Cardinals Blase J. Cupich, of Chicago and Oswald Gracias of Bombay (India), Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner, President of the Center for the Protection of Minors at the Gregorian University as leading members. The meeting will include bishops, men and women religious and lay experts in the field.

Holy See Press Office director Greg Burke said: “The February meeting is unprecedented” and “shows that Pope Francis has made the protection of minors a fundamental priority for the Church.”

While many episcopacies already have guidelines for disciplining priests guilty of sex abuse, little exists on how bishops are to be held accountable or disciplined. It is hoped this will be a focus of the February meeting. Currently only the Pope may discipline bishops, although in a May 2010 update of Church child abuse laws, Benedict XVI gave the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith the authority to judge cardinals and bishops, as well as priests and deacons.

Following are comments on that February 2019 meeting by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, and Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta. Scicluna worked for many years at the CDF (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) and headed its clerical sex abuse section. Pope Francis recently appointed him adjunct secretary of the CDF while maintaining his position as archbishop of Malta. Abp. Scicluna was assigned by the Pope earlier this year to look into the cases of reported clerical sex abuse in Chile, reports that convinced Pope Francis that he had been wrong in his earlier estimates of stories told by sex abuse victims as not being believable.

ANGELUS: POPE FRANCIS RECALLS UKRAINE HOLODOMOR FAMINE

Following the Angelus prayer on Sunday, Pope Francis remembered the man-made famine that struck Ukraine in 1932-1933 and the anniversary of the event that occurred on Saturday.

The famine is known as “Holodomor” in Ukrainian, which means “to kill by starvation”.

Pope Francis called it “a terrible famine instigated by the Soviet regime which caused millions of people to die.”

Though the final death toll is unknown, most estimates put the number of people killed between 3.3 and 7.5 million, most of whom were ethnic Ukrainians.

Vatican City State is one of 16 countries to consider Holodomor an act of genocide carried out by the Soviet government.

“The image is painful,” the Pope said. “This terrible wound of the past is an appeal for all people to ensure that these tragedies never happen again.”

Pope Francis invited the faithful to pray for Ukraine “and for its long-sought-after peace.” (By Devin Watkins – vaticannews)

CARDINAL O’MALLEY: “FEBRUARY MEETING WILL BE AN IMPORTANT MOMENT”

Cardinal O’Malley, President of the Commission for the Protection of Minors, says he is grateful for the announcement of the formation of an organizing committee in view of the February meeting on the protection of minors in the Church.
By Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp (vaticannews)


In a statement released on Friday afternoon, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, and President of the Vatican Commission for the Protection of Minors, says he is grateful for the announcement that Pope Francis has appointed a commission to prepare for the February meeting on the protection of minors in the Church.

Who proposed the February meeting?
Cardinal O’Malley disclosed in the statement that the “proposal” for the February meeting “was developed by the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, was reviewed by the Council of Cardinals and subsequently accepted by the Holy Father”. He is both pleased that Pope Francis has called for the meeting and he says he looks forward to participating in it.

Role of the Pontifical Commission
The Cardinal explained that the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors is an “advisory body to the Holy Father, making recommendations on best practices for the universal Church for education and prevention programs regarding the crime of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults”. In view of this mission, he said that the Commission will be a resource for the committee in its work of preparing for the meeting in February. The Commission’s regularly hosts face to face meetings with survivors and newly appointed bishops, he said. This practice provided the Commission with the inspiration that “calling the bishops to Rome for a similar high-impact meeting would be very important in addressing the clergy abuse crisis globally”.

Commitment to zero tolerance
Cardinal O’Malley calls the meeting in February “a critical moment for the universal Church in addressing the sexual abuse crisis”. Diocese around the world will then be part of “developing a clear path forward” toward the implementation of the Church’s zero tolerance policy. He reiterated that the “support and pastoral care of survivors” is the Church’s first priority.

He concluded his statement saying: “This is a life-long journey that is now part of the fabric of the Catholic family and requires a partnership between the laity and clergy in responding to the failures of episcopal leadership by holding bishops accountable for the crimes against children and vulnerable adults.”

ABP SCICLUNA: PROTECTION OF MINORS IS A GLOBAL, SYNODAL ISSUE

Newly appointed to the organising Committee for a February meeting of Church leaders from around the world, Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna says he hopes the Church will begin to take a global approach to protecting minors and confronting clerical sexual abuse.
By Christopher Wells (vaticannews)

In an exclusive interview with Jesuit periodical America, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta described the upcoming meeting as “the beginning of a new approach that I hope will be global, because it concerns the whole Church.” But, he continued, “it will also have a very important local context, because safeguarding is not something up-there, it has to be lived in every parish, in every school, in every diocese.”


A new phase
With the announcement on Friday of an organising Committee, preparations for February’s summit on the protection of minors in the Church has entered a new phase. In addition to Abp Scicluna, the organising Committee is composed of Cardinals Blase Cupich and Oswald Gracias, and child protection expert Father Hans Zollner, SJ.

In the interview with America, Abp Scicluna emphasised the importance of the upcoming meeting, which he called “quite significant,” precisely because it involves bishops from around the world, coming together in dialogue with Pope Francis, in order “to get them on the same page with the Holy Father.”

A crisis in how we approach ministry
Archbishop Scicluna described the main goals of the meeting as making bishops “realise and discuss together the fact that the sexual abuse of minors is not only an egregious phenomenon in itself and a crime, but it is also a very grave symptom of something deeper, which is actually a crisis in the way we approach ministry.” In this context, Abp Scicluna placed accountability in the context of good “stewardship,” and described the cover-up of abuse which has plagued the Church as “the antithesis of stewardship.”

We have to move away from panic-driven policies that put the good name of the institution above all other considerations,” he said, noting that “in the end, those policies do reputational damage to the institution; they are actually also counterproductive.”

At the top of the Church’s agenda
Archbishop Scicluna said that the February summit meeting was called by Pope Francis precisely because “he realises that this issue” – the issue of abuse of minors in the Church – “has to be at the top on the Church’s agenda.” Pope Francis, he said, realises that this is a “global issue which the Church would want to approach with a united front, with respect for the different cultures, but with a united resolve, and with people being on the same page.”

The February meeting, Abp Scicluna said, will send an “important message” that “the prevention of abuse and protection and safeguarding of our children and young people is not a question only of the bishops; it is a synodal issue. It is something that involves the whole Church and everyone in the Church around the world; it concerns one and all.”

75TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BOMBING OF VATICAN CITY STATE – POPE EXPRESSES SORROW FOR ATTACK ON COPTIC CHRISTIANS – POPE FRANCIS: ‘ A CHRISTIAN CANNOT BE AN ANTI-SEMITE’ – CHINA: FOUR UNDERGROUND PRIESTS DISAPPEAR IN POLICE CUSTODY

There’s been more disturbing news from China over the weekend as you will see in the story from AsiaNews. If you happen to be interested in the Catholic Church in Asia, and especially what’s happening in China, given the September accord between the Vatican and China on the naming of bishops, the site to visit is http://www.asianews.it/en.html

75TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BOMBING OF VATICAN CITY STATE

It was five minutes after eight o’clock on the evening of November 5, 1943 when bombs rained down on Vatican City State.

The attack, perpetrated by an unidentified fighter plane, caused no casualties but much destruction to the Vatican railway station and to the art laboratory where mosaics were made. The back wall of the “Governatorato” building that housed offices and private apartments was also slightly damaged.

Vaticannews photo:

According to Augusto Ferrera, author of a book entitled “1943: Bombs on the Vatican,” the aim of the bombing was to destroy Vatican Radio and its mission to keep hope alive and help families by broadcasting messages to prisoners of war.

POPE EXPRESSES SORROW FOR ATTACK ON COPTIC CHRISTIANS

It was a busy weekend for the Holy Father who on Friday, November 2, All Souls Day, celebrated Mass at Rome’s Laurentino cemetery, one of 12 in the Eternal City, and on Saturday presided at a Requiem Mass for deceased Popes at the Altar of the Chair in St Peter’s Basilica. In addition, EIGHT Cardinals and a Patriarch who dies this past year were remembered, as were 154 Bishops from nearly 40 countries.

In his homily, the Pope reflected on Jesus’ parable of the Ten Bridesmaids, as recounted in St Matthew’s Gospel, who “go out to meet the Bridegroom”. He drew a parallel between this “going out” and our own lives that, he said, are a “constant call to go forth” – from the womb to the tomb. We are always on the move, he added, “until we make our final journey”. Our life is a constant preparation for the wedding banquet, for meeting Jesus, the Bridegroom.

On Sunday, after praying the Angelus with the faithful in a rain splashed St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis expressed his sorrow at the terrorist attack that struck the Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt on Friday. He prayed for the victims, noting they were killed “for the mere fact of being Christians.” 7 pilgrims were killed and at least 19 others injured in the attack on two buses carrying Coptic Christians near to the monastery of St Samuel the Confessor in Minya. 28 were killed there last year. Francis and the faithful then recited the Hail Mary and he asked “Mary Most Holy to console the families and the entire community in the wake of this latest terrorist attack.”

The 19 jihadists responsible for the arrack were all killed by Egyptian security forces over the weekend.

POPE FRANCIS: ‘ A CHRISTIAN CANNOT BE AN ANTI-SEMITE’

Pope Francis received a delegation from the ancient community of Mountain Jews to discuss Holocaust anniversaries and the problems of anti-Semitism today.
By John Waters (vaticannews)

Pope Francis on Monday held a meeting with representatives of the World Congress of Mountain Jews. It is the first time that a delegation from this community, which dates back to the 5th Century, has travelled to meet a Pope.

Past and present
Mountain Jews were descended from the Persian Jews, who came from modern day Iran. They were known to be great warriors and horsemen in the past. They lived in mountainous communities near the Caspian Sea for many centuries but, after the fall of the Soviet Union, are now spread across many regions, with the largest communities living in Russia and Azerbaijan.

The Pope began by recalling his most recent meeting with a Jewish community during his visit to Lithuania in September. That visit commemorated the Seventy Fifth anniversary of the destruction of the Jewish ghetto in the Lithuanian capital city, Vilnius.(Vatican photo from Lithuania visit)

Holocaust anniversaries
Pope Francis pointed out that a number of other Holocaust-related anniversaries are fast approaching. He mentioned the anniversaries of the raid on the Jewish ghetto in Rome and the anniversary of increased persecution of German Jews by the Nazi’s. The latter used to be known as ‘kristallnacht’, the ‘night of broken glass’, due to the destruction of many Jewish shop fronts and synagogues, though more recently historians have preferred terms referring to the destruction of people and lives.

“The attempt to replace the God of goodness with the idolatry of power and the ideology of hatred ended in the folly of exterminating human beings. Consequently, religious freedom is a supreme good to be safeguarded, a fundamental human right and a bulwark against the claims of totalitarianism” he said.

About 1,500 Mountain Jews were killed during the Holocaust, mostly from Crimea. Most of the community was not affected by the Holocaust, partly because Nazi forces did not reach their territories and partly because the Nazis considered them to be religious Jews, rather than racial Jews, who were a higher priority target for the Nazi regime.

Anti-Semitic attitudes
The Pope went on to note that there are still anti-Semitic attitudes in society today: “As I have often repeated, a Christian cannot be an anti-Semite; we share the same roots. It would be a contradiction of faith and life. Rather, we are called to commit ourselves to ensure anti-Semitism is banned from the human community”.

Quoting from the prophet Isaiah, Pope Francis called on all religions to help the world “Turn spears into pruning hooks” so that communities may experience a period of patient reconciliation. He ended his speech with a traditional Hebrew blessing: Shalom Aleichem!

CHINA: FOUR UNDERGROUND PRIESTS DISAPPEAR IN POLICE CUSTODY
by Bernardo Cervellera

Two priests belong to the ancient Diocese of Xiwanzi; the other two to that of Xuanhua. All four refuse to register in the Patriotic Association. For this they are subjected to indoctrination and isolation. In Shangcai (Henan), the cross of the bell tower and some spires are destroyed.

Rome (AsiaNews) – Four priests from the underground community of the diocese of Zhangjiakou (Hebei) were taken away by police because they refused to join the Patriotic Association.

The diocese of Zhangjiakou was formed by the government and includes two ancient dioceses, that of Xiwanzi and Xuanhua

Fr. Zhang Guilin of the Diocese of Xiwanzi (photo)


All priests were taken from their churches to a nearby hotel to be indoctrinated on the religious policy of the Chinese government. They are being subjected to this because they refuse to enroll in the Patriotic Association, which aims to create a Church independent of the Holy See.

According to some sources, Fr. Zhao is instead under house arrest, where he is also subjected to indoctrination.

Since China and the Vatican signed an agreement on the appointment of bishops, with which – at least in theory – the Pope is recognized as head of the Catholic Church – the Patriotic Association (PA) and the United Front have been waging a campaign to remind all priests that the Church in China “despite the agreement”, is “independent” and for this it obliges the underground priests not registered to join the Patriotic Association.

Many underground priests want to be recognized by the government, but do not want to belong to the PA, which according to Benedict XVI’s Letter to Catholics, has statutes that “are irreconcilable” with Catholic doctrine.

The message Pope Francis sent to Chinese Catholics immediately after the agreement, does not deal with this burning theme among the underground faithful. AsiaNews sources state that the Vatican’s position towards the PA has not changed and the Vatican delegation hopes to face the issue of the statutes of the PA in the future. Wang Meixiu, a religion expert at the Academy of Social Sciences, suggested that the PA should be an association with an optional membership.

In the meantime, however, both in Hebei and in Henan, the number of underground communities suppressed and unable to gather is growing. Many crosses and decorations of the sacred buildings are destroyed in the name of the sinicization of the submission of the Catholic faith to the Chinese culture, but above all to the PA and to the United Front, undermining every attempt at evangelization.

On the first of November, the Cross from the bell tower of the church of Shangcai (Henan) was destroyed, along with the spiers of the building. The church has been sealed and nobody can use it as a place of worship.

Many underground Catholics, observing the media silence on their suffering, feel “abandoned”, “forgotten” and even “betrayed”.

LIFE IN ITALY: THE FEAST OF ALL SAINTS

LIFE IN ITALY: THE FEAST OF ALL SAINTS

As I write this column, there’s been an almost unreal silence outside today – except for intermittent periods of pounding rain! It’s unreal for Rome whose chaotic traffic and honking horns, if nothing else, can cause untenable noise pollution. To enjoy silence, most Romans look forward to Sundays, holidays and the months of July and August when people go away on vacation.

It is so quiet because today is a big holiday in Italy and the Vatican – November 1, the feast of All Saints. The Vatican also observes November 2 – All Souls Day – as a day off, a day that used to be an Italian holiday but has been removed from the calendar of public holidays. Not that that makes much difference to Italians who use any excuse to create what they call a “ponte,” a bridge to an extra long weekend. Thus, given that today, Thursday, is a holiday, a number of Italians may ask for Thursday and Friday off, creating a four-day weekend.

Vatican personnel generally work Saturdays but a few people will ask for Thursday, Friday and Saturday and also have a four-day weekend!

Today at noon, as he usually does on Sundays and solemnities, Pope Francis recited the Angelus with the faithful and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square. He urged Christians “to seek holiness not by accomplishing extraordinary things but by following the path of the Beatitudes without half measures in everyday life.” (photo vaticannews)

The Holy Father said we are united not only with the saints of the calendar but also with our “next door” saints – our relatives and acquaintances who are now part of that immense multitude. Hence, the Pope said, “All Saints Day is a family feast, because the saints, our truest brothers and sisters, love us, know what is our true good, help us, await us and want us to be happy with them in heaven.”

The Beatitudes, he noted, are contrary to the way of the world. “The Gospel says blessed are the poor, while the world says blessed are the rich. The Gospel says blessed are the meek, while the world says blessed are the proud. The Gospel says blessed are the pure, while the world says blessed are the sly and pleasure seekers.”

Francis reminded the pilgrims that tomorrow, November 2, All Souls Day, he would be visiting the Laurentino Cemetery, and invited them “to accompany me with prayers on this day of supplication for those who have preceded us in the sign of faith and sleep the sleep of peace.”

It is tradition at the Vatican for Popes on November 1 to celebrate Holy Mass for the Solemnity of All Saints at a Rome cemetery, for many years Campo Verano, and, on the following day, November 2, to lead a prayer service in the Vatican Grottoes for all deceased Popes. This year, however, Francis changed the dates a bit; Mass at the Laurentino is tomorrow, and on November 3 he will lead the prayer service for deceased Popes.

Verano cemetery-

Last year on November 2, All Souls Day, Pope Francis visited the American military cemetery in Nettuno, south of Rome, There, at 3:15 in the afternoon, he celebrated Mass for all war dead, marking the annual Catholic tradition of mourning the departed, and left white roses on a number of grave markers.

November 1 – the feast of All Saints – is such an important day for Italians that newspapers – and now social media and websites – publish special inserts on how to get to a city’s cemeteries, where to park cars, what shuttle buses are available within cemeteries, etc. Cemetery hours – usually longer in the October 29 to November 5 period – are posted, as are the hours and routes of the “C” busses (“C” for cimitero or cemetery). In Rome there are 12 cemeteries and each one has special rules and regulations and opening hours. The larger ones will also have free shuttles buses (because no cars will be allowed) to take people to the graves of loved ones. In Rome’s largest cemetery, Verano, 16 stops have been programmed for these buses.

One million people are expected to visit Rome’s cemeteries in the weeklong period dedicated to the deceased. The city always make a concerted effort at this time of year to clean cemeteries of trash, to repair walkways and even headstones and to do some serious gardening. Visitors too will clean tombs, bring fresh flowers and entire families will meet to mourn their dearly departed as well as to celebrate their lives. And then family members will usually all go out for lunch or dinner, sometimes even taking a picnic lunch along (though not for eating in the cemeteries – even though that is what the very first Christians did when they gathered at burial grounds or in the catacombs).

One Rome paper a few years back even published a survey on the cost of funerals, saying “there is some meager consolation for those in mourning in the capital of Rome because a funeral there costs the least” of all cities questioned for the survey. They run about $2,750 in Rome, and, on the high end, cost $4,560 in Milan with Turin and Genoa somewhere in between. These prices include a walnut coffin with zinc interior, flowers, the burial and documents. However, says the paper, the best bargain is still a funeral paid for by the city, with Turin being the best buy at 660 Euro or $844, and Genoa being the costliest at 2,000 Euro or $2,560.

I’m guessing prices have changed significantly since those numbers were published.

Prices for flowers greatly increase at this time of year and I learned a hard lesson my first year in Rome.

It was the very end of October and I went to a private clinic to visit a friend who had just had serious surgery. I wanted to bring Lina an impressive bouquet of flowers to cheer her up but my budget did not allow for “impressive.” So I did the best I could. I bought about 8 or 10 chrysanthemums – being bigger flowers, they seemed more impressive as a bouquet. Surely just the thing to bring a smile to Lina’s face!

Well, I knew the minute I walked into the room that something was wrong. I saw a strange look on Lina’s face (and also on the face of a cousin visiting her, a priest), but never for a minute did I associate it with the flowers. We chatted and visited and faces seemed to brighten up, so I dismissed the first impression I had received that something was wrong.

Only much later did I learn that chrysanthemums are viewed by Italians as the flower of the dead and are the flowers that most people bring to place on the graves of their loved ones! Fortunately for me, Lina and Fr. John were wonderful, understanding friends who gently, some time later, told me what bringing chrysanthemums to someone in the hospital just days before the feast of All Saints is just not done! (Actually they seem to frown on flowers in hospitals at other times of the year as well.)

Like other hard-learned lessons in Italy, this was one mistake I never repeated.
Today, but especially tomorrow, Italians visit cemeteries in huge numbers, cleaning the graves of their loved ones and bringing votive candles as well as armloads of flowers, especially chrysanthemums. The price of flowers goes up steeply twice a year – on November 1 and 2 and on December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. On that day in Rome people bring flowers to the Piazza di Spagna, Rome’s celebrated Spanish Steps, placing them at the base of the column with the statue of Mary or on a table near the column. The loose flowers are then woven by priests and brothers into large bouquets or wreaths and placed near or on the column.