MEMORIAL OF BLESSED VIRGIN MARY MOTHER OF THE CHURCH – VATICAN UPGRADES FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION, COST OVERRUNS, DEFICITS – POPE GIFTS AMBULANCE FOR THE POOR TO APOSTOLIC ALMONER

MEMORIAL OF BLESSED VIRGIN MARY MOTHER OF THE CHURCH.  

At the request of Pope Francis, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, with a decree dated February 11, 2018, ordered the inscription of the memory of the “Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of the Church” in the General Roman Calendar. The memorial, mandatory for the entire Church of the Roman Rite, is celebrated on the Monday after Pentecost.

I’ve been asked quite often about the mosaic of Mary that is located fairly high up on the exterior of the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square – about 1 o’clock if the basilica is noon. Many have noted it did not seem to fit in with the architecture of the building. In fact the apostolic palace is a complex of buildings with over 1,000 rooms and halls that date from various historical periods, many of which are, however, from the Renaissance.

The mosaic is indeed more modern and has quite a lovely story, almost a love story, if you will. For the story, we enter St. Peter’s Basilica and walk down the left aisle to the very end where we will find the Chapel of the Column. It is just beyond the Prayer Door entrance to the basilica and, most unfortunately, is not available to visitors as this area has been roped off.

Over the altar in the Chapel of the Column is an image of the Blessed Virgin painted on a column that came from the first basilica. In 1607 the image was placed on this altar designed by Giacomo Della Porta and is framed by stunning marble and priceless alabaster columns. On November 21, 1964, Pope Paul VI bestowed on this image the title of “Mater Ecclesiae” – Mother of the Church. (jfl photos)

St. John Paul II had always wondered how on earth Mary – whom he dearly loved – was not among the 140 statues atop the basilica facade and the monumental colonnades that were designed by Bernini. When he was shot in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981, the Pope credited the hand of the Virgin – his mosaic Mary – with deflecting the bullet that would have killed him.

Dissuaded from eliminating one of the 140 statues to replace it with Mary, he had a mosaic reproduction of it set on the external wall of the Apostolic Palace facing St. Peter’s Square. St. John Paul’s motto – Totus tuus – all yours – is on this mosaic.

VATICAN UPGRADES FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION, COST OVERRUNS, DEFICITS

The big story today at the Vatican was the publication of a motu proprio by Pope Francis with specific, enforceable guidelines for those engaged in the fight against corruption, cost overruns and unfair competition in the awarding of contracts for services and goods in the mini State. Such measures are long overdue and the current document is the result of four years of work by the Pope and a team of advisors from various Vatican offices seeking to bring transparency, control and competition in the procedures for the award of public contracts of the Holy See and of the Vatican City State.

The motu proprio (meaning of the pope’s own initiative and hand) was published in today’s Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano and will enter into force in 30 days. The document is 34 pages long.

A Vatican communiqué said, “The document is the result of a synergistic work coordinated by the Secretariat of State between the various entities of the Roman Curia, including the Council for the Economy, the Secretariat for the Economy, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See and the Governorate of the Vatican City State. It is a unique code, which goes beyond the regulation currently in force in some individual realities and now applies to all entities referable to the Holy See and the Vatican City State.”

The communique added that, “The legislation is part of the most advanced international legislation on the subject. The guiding principle of the new text is the diligence of the good father of a family who wants an effective and ethical management of his resources, which at the same time promotes transparency, control and fair treatment of real competition between those who wish to establish an economic relationship with the interested bodies.”

In its report of the Motu proprio, Vatican news wrote that “Article 1 explains the purposes of the new law, which are: the sustainable use of internal funds, transparency of award procedures, “equal treatment and non-discrimination of tenderers, in particular through measures to combat illegal competition agreements and corruption.”

“Article 5,” continued Vatican news, “lists the fundamental principles which are founded on “ethicality orienting the economic choices and the interlocutors upon parameters of respect for the Social Doctrine of the Church; administrative autonomy, and subsidiarity in the management choices of the Body; loyal collaboration between the Entities and the different sections of the Governorate.”

“The goal is to obtain “cost-savings, effectiveness, and efficiency” through “planning and rationalization of expenditure,” while avoiding unnecessary operations, and in particular an award procedure which “must be transparent, objective, and impartial.”

“Measures are taken against conflicts of interest, illegal competition agreements, and corruption. These serve to avoid ‘any distortion of competition and ensure equal treatment of all economic operators.’

“Economic operators who become subject to investigation, prevention measures, or convictions at first instance for ‘participation in a criminal organization, corruption, fraud, terrorist offences,’ ‘laundering of the proceeds of criminal activities,’ and ‘he exploitation of child labour’ must be excluded from the Register and participation in tenders.

“One of the causes of exclusion is the failure to fulfill ‘obligations relating to the payment of taxes or social security contributions in accordance with the regulations of the country in which the operator is incorporated’, as well as residing or having settled in States ‘with privileged tax regimes.’

“Except in certain cases established as exceptions, ‘all goods and services, under penalty of nullity of the relevant contract, are ordinarily acquired by the Entities in a centralized manner.’ The ‘centralized authorities’, reads Article 15, include both APSA ‘in matters concerning the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia’ and institutions connected to the Holy See, as well as the Governorate. There are exceptions to centralization, but they must be duly justified.”

“Every six months, the Secretariat for the Economy, having consulted with APSA, will publish and update ‘the list of prices and the reference fees for goods and services’, together with the labour costs of the professionals registered in the Register. These will take into consideration prices and fees in the markets where the Vatican institutions are supplied. Vatican Entities are required to plan their purchases by 31 October of each year.”

POPE GIFTS AMBULANCE FOR THE POOR TO APOSTOLIC ALMONER

Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the Apostolic Almoner, announced today in a communique that yesterday morning, Pentecost Sunday, before he celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Altar of the Chair, Pope Francis blessed an ambulance for the poor of Rome. The Pope entrusted this new gift to the Apostolic Almoner for the very poor of Rome, “especially the homeless who live the difficulties of the road and who seek refuge in the surroundings of the Vatican or in makeshift shelters in Rome. The ambulance, registered SCV, is part of those used for rescue within the Vatican State and was made available by the Governorate exclusively to assist and help the poorest, who remain almost invisible to the institutions.” (photos from Almoner’s office)

The ambulance is only part of the medical assistance of the Apostolic Almone for the poor and homeless that this office, with the approval of Pope Francis, has set up including, the Mobile Polyclinic that brings treatment to the poorest and marginalized in the suburbs of Rome and the Mother of Mercy Outpatient Clinic under the right hand colonnade of St. Peter’s Square that offers medical care. This remained open throughout the Covid-19 emergency.

FRIDAY AT THE VATICAN: PAPAL MEETINGS AND THE JUBILEE OF CHOIRS – VATICAN INSIDER IN HAWAII: BISHOP LARRY SILVA OF HONOLULU

FRIDAY AT THE VATICAN: PAPAL MEETINGS AND THE JUBILEE OF CHOIRS

This morning the Holy Father had a number of private audiences and he also met with several groups, addressing members of the John Paul II Foundation as well as the participants in an international meeting of the pastoral ministry for vocations promoted by the Congregation for Clergy

Francis’ private audiences included a meeting with Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy and a separate one with Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, president of APSA, the Administration for the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.

While no communiqués are given about the content of these private meetings, Cardinal Calcagno’s office, APSA, which handles real estate holdings, has been under fire from seven fellow cardinals who live in a Vatican-owned building, part of which, according reports, will soon be leased out by the Vatican to McDonald’s for €30,000 a month. It seems that several of the cardinals have written to the Pope about the matter. In addition, there has been general consternation about this potential tenant in this much-trafficked neighborhood, filled with souvenir stores, coffee bars and restaurants.

Today, Friday we saw the start of the three-day Jubilee of Choirs and Liturgical Animators that has brought together liturgical directors, choir directors, musicians, choirs, organists, schools of sacred music, and musical bands that serve liturgy. They met today on the theme “Music in Liturgy for Evangelization.” Tomorrow there will be a celebration with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square, and later that afternoon a concert in the Paul VI Hall with the participation of all the choirs. Sunday participants will attend a Jubilee Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica that will be presided over by Abp. Rino Fisichella. That will be followed by the recitation of the Angelus by Pope Francis.

VATICAN INSIDER IN HAWAII: BISHOP LARRY SILVA OF HONOLULU

My special guest this weekend and next on Vatican Insider is Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu. We met on my very first visit to the islands in 2008 and now have an almost annual reunion, usually including a meal, during my summer vacation stays in Honolulu. We also met in Rome in 2009 when Fr. Damien was canonized and again in 2012 when the Pope declared Blessed Marianne Cope a saint.

20160814_020725

20160814_020742

This time Bishop Larry and I talk about two big anniversaries coming up in the diocese in 2018 – the 100th anniversary of the death of St. Marianne Cope and the 175th anniversary of the cathedral. Our Lady of Peace Cathedral, in fact, is closely associated with the lives of Hawaii’s two saints – Fr. Damien and St. Marianne  – and also with Bishop Larry’s family! Our Lady of Peace needs a fair amount of restoration and updating and the bishop explains the plans to accomplish that by the 2018 anniversary. Renovations will include building a side chapel to enshrine the remains of St. Marianne and the relics of St. Damien.

20160814_02064720160814_020659

By the way, we talk about a possible third saint for Hawaii – Brother Joseph Dutton!

I took the pictures shown here in Bishop Silva’s office. Next weekend, I’ll post some great photos of the cathedral that I took during an evening visit after dinner with the bishop and a visiting priest friend from the mainland.

Bishop Silva told me that this statue of Our Lady of Fatima is one of four that the Portuguese sculptor, Jose Ferreira Thedim, made: The well-known original is in the chapel at Fatima:

20160814_02091220160814_020921

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live 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.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK FOR YOUR TIME ZONE. Past shows are in VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

PRESS OFFICE ON LEAKS OF VATICAN DOCUMENTS – CONGREGATION ADDRESSES NEWS REPORTS ON ITS REAL ESTATE HOLDINGS

Pope Francis is back on Twitter!  Here is his November 12 tweet, the first since October 31:  As Christians, we are called to imitate the Good Shepherd and to help families experiencing difficulties.

PRESS OFFICE ON LEAKS OF VATICAN DOCUMENTS

Wednesday afternoon the following statement was released by the Holy See Press Office relative to news reports of alleged illicit financial activity by a Vatican office:

“In recent days articles have appeared in various media organs and news agencies that refer in a partial and imprecise fashion to the content of a confidential document, hypothesizing that in the past APSA has been exploited for an illicit financial activity. The Vatican’s judicial authority has opened an investigation in regard to the diffusion of this document. APSA (Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See) has always collaborated with the competent bodies, it is not the subject of an investigation and it continues to undertake its own activity with respect to norms in force.”

FR. FEDERICO LOMBARDI

Later Wednesday afternoon, the Holy See Press Office issued an additional statement on Wednesday that confirmed that a pair of Italian journalists are under investigation by Vatican police (the Gendarmeria), under the direction of judicial magistrates probing the leak of confidential documents that allegedly indicate mismanagement at high levels of the Roman Curia. (Vatican Radio)

Journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi each wrote a book released earlier this month, claiming to give details of what they describe as resistance to the Holy Father’s efforts to reform the machinery of central Church governance.

In his statement, Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, said other officials are under scrutiny for possible involvement in the document leak as well.

Following is the full text of Fr. Lombardi’s statement, in Vatican Radio’s English translation:

The Vatican Gendarmeria, in its capacity as judicial police, had informed the Vatican judiciary of the operations of two journalists [Gianluigi] Nuzzi and [Emiliano] Fittipaldi, in connection with [their] possible participation in dissemination of reserved information and confidential documents – a crime under the Vatican City criminal code (Law n.IX SCV, of 13 July 2013 Art. 116b).

In the investigative activity already undertaken, the Judiciary has acquired elements of evidence of the fact of the two journalists’ involvement in the offense, who therefore are now under investigation.

The situations of other persons who, owing to their official positions, could have cooperated in the acquisition of the reserved documents in question, are also under investigation.

CONGREGATION ADDRESSES NEWS REPORTS ON ITS REAL ESTATE HOLDINGS

(VIS) – The following is the full text of the communique issued yesterday afternoon by the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples on news relating to its ownership of real estate.

“The Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, also known as ‘Propaganda Fide’, adheres fully to the Holy Father Francis’ line of thought and guidance with regard to the life and reform of the Roman Curia; in addition, it his committed to pursuing the institutional aims set forth in the Apostolic Constitution ‘Pastor Bonus’, as well as respecting the will of donors who over the years have contributed to its missionary work. Therefore, it welcomes all the administrative reforms anticipated by the Secretary for the Economy and submits all the budgets and final accounts to the latter.

“Certain insinuations on the part of certain sectors of the media, which circulate news not corresponding to the truth, are therefore unacceptable. It has been written, for example, that the Congregation offers luxury properties for rent at low prices as favours, and even that it hosts a spa or is the proprietor of the Hotel Priscilla.

“The real estate belonging to the Congregation, donated for the Missions, is rented at market value; there are exceptions in the case of situations of poverty. The aforementioned properties are rented in accordance with current Italian legislation, to which both the Congregation as the owner and the recipient are subject.

“The income deriving from the rent of these properties, for which regular tax is paid in Italy (in 2014 the Dicastery paid IMU – imposta municipale unica, property tax, of 2,169,200 euros in Rome alone) is destined principally for the maintenance of the Congregation, the Pontifical Urbanian University, the Pontifical Collegio Urbano, the missionary institutions and young Churches in the mission territories.

“Propaganda Fide is grateful to the benefactors who, with its help, make it possible for the Gospel to be announced and provide support for innumerable educational, social and healthcare initiatives in the poorest countries.

“We wish to clarify that, should such dissemination of false or biased information recur, this Congregation will be obliged to protect its image in the appropriate forums.”