VATICAN INSIDER: VICKI THORN AND PROJECT RACHEL – POPE ORDERS BROTHERS OF CHARITY TO STOP OFFERING EUTHANASIA – KOREAN CATHOLICS TO PRAY ROSARY FOR PEACE ON AUGUST 15

Today’s papal tweet: When something makes us suffer, let us listen to the voice of Jesus in our hearts: “Do not fear! Go ahead! I am with you!”

VATICAN INSIDER: VICKI THORN AND PROJECT RACHEL

My guest this week on Vatican Insider is Vicki Thorn, founder of Project Rachel and the Executive Director of the National office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation & Healing in Milwaukee. Since we taped this in Rome, I have also learned that Vicki has been named as a corresponding member of the Pontifical academy for Life. She was a member in the academy previously but its strategies, membership and statutes have been reformed under Pope Francis…another topic for another time.

In the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) 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. 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 9:00am (ET). 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 YOUR TIME ZONE. Here’s a link to download VI to your iTunes library: http://www.ewtn.com/se/pg/DatService.svc/feed/~LE.xml   For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

POPE ORDERS BROTHERS OF CHARITY TO STOP OFFERING EUTHANASIA

(A follow up to my FB post of yesterday)

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has ordered the Belgian arm of the Brothers of Charity religious order to stop offering euthanasia in its psychiatric hospitals.

The Holy See Press Office confirmed that the Pope gave his personal approval to a Vatican letter sent at the beginning of August, which gives the Catholic charity until the end of August to stop the practice at all of its 15 centers in Belgium.

Euthanasia is legal in the country, and in May the Brothers of Charity Group which administers the Belgian hospitals announced it would allow doctors to perform euthanasia on psychiatric patients.

The charity said in a statement it would be performed only if there were “no reasonable treatment alternatives”.

Joint letter affirming magisterium

Pope Francis also ordered Brothers of Charity who serve on the group’s board to sign a joint letter to their Superior General declaring that they “fully support the vision of the magisterium of the Catholic Church, which has always confirmed that human life must be respected and protected in absolute terms, from the moment of conception till its natural end.”

Brothers who refuse to sign the joint letter renouncing the practice of euthanasia will face sanctions under canon law, while the Catholic charity group can expect to face legal action and even expulsion from the Church if it fails to change its policy.

Brothers of Charity statement

Bro. René Stockman, General Superior of the Brothers of Charity, released a statement in response to the position of his Belgian brothers.

“The central point and the foundation within Christian ethics is that life is absolute, which cannot be touched. Life is a gift from God and entails an assignment. And because life is absolute, it is a state worthy of protection,” he wrote.

Mattias De Vriendt, a spokesman for the Belgium charity, said it had received the Vatican’s request but had not yet responded.

He confirmed the charity’s hospitals had received requests from patients seeking euthanasia recently but could not say whether any procedures had been performed.

KOREAN CATHOLICS TO PRAY ROSARY FOR PEACE ON AUGUST 15

Expressing great concern over mounting tension in the Korean peninsula and beyond over North Korea’s missile and nuclear bravado, South Korean bishops are seeking spiritual aid to diffuse the situation.  The bishops are urging their faithful to seek the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for peace in their land, in view of the upcoming solemn feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Aug. 15.

In a message, Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul asked Catholics to pray the rosary in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Marian apparition in Fatima.  “The Virgin Mary urged us to pray the rosary for the conversion of sinners and for peace in the world,” said Cardinal Yeom. “The rosary is our spiritual weapon to defeat evil effectively and it will help us overcome challenges in our faith and transfigure us to become workers for world peace,” he said.

The August 15 feast of the Assumption is profoundly linked with Korean history.  The National Liberation Day of Korea‎ is marked in commemoration of that day in 1945 when Korea was liberated from Japanese colonial rule.  The Catholic Church in South Korea is also dedicated to the Blessed Mother and it considers its liberation as a “gift from Mary.”

“For the safety and the future of all Koreans, North Korea should come to the discussion table and abandon their nuclear weapons,” said Cardinal Yeom expressing grave concern over North Korea’s nuclear weapon and missile programmes. (Vatican Radio)

 

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BRUSSELS IN MOURNING, THE POPE AND BISHOPS SPEAK

BRUSSELS IN MOURNING, THE POPE AND BISHOPS SPEAK

Pope Francis has sent a telegram to Archbishop Jozef De Kesel of Mechelen-Brussels following the attacks on Tuesday morning in the Belgian capital Brussels. In the telegram signed by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis prays for the victims, the injured and their families and again condemns “blind violence which causes so much suffering.” (photo news.va, AP)

BRUSSELS

Following is a Vatican Radio translation of the papal telegram:

“Learning of the attacks in Brussels, which have affected many people, His Holiness Pope Francis entrusts to God’s mercy those who died and he prays for those who have lost relatives. He expresses his deepest sympathy to the injured and their families, and all those who contribute to relief efforts, asking the Lord to bring them comfort and consolation in this ordeal. The Holy Father again condemns the blind violence which causes so much suffering and imploring from God the gift of peace, he entrusts on the bereaved families and the Belgians the benefit of divine blessings.”

The Catholic Bishops of Belgium have issued a statement condemning the deadly terror attacks on the Brussels airport and underground stations on Monday, calling for prayerful solidarity with the victims and for national unity in response to the assault.

Following is Vatican Radio’s English translation of the Bishops’ statement:

“The bishops of Belgium are appalled to learn of the attack at Zaventem airport and in the center of Brussels. They share the anguish of thousands of travelers and their families, aviation professionals and the first responders who are once again called to service. They entrust the victims to the prayers of all in this new dramatic situation. Airport chaplains are every day at the service of all and provide the necessary spiritual support. May the whole country live these days with a great sense of civic responsibility.” (source: Vatican Radio)

POPE FRANCIS: “WOMEN HEAR THINGS WITH MORE CREATIVE, MORE PATIENT, MORE TENDER HEARTS” – KING AND QUEEN OF BELGIUM ARE WELCOMED BY POPE FRANCIS – CARDINAL TAURAN TAKES OATH AS CAMERLENGO – VATICAN RECEIVES RANSOM NOTE FOR DOCUMENT STOLEN FROM ARCHIVES

The menu in the next day or two will be a bit sparse as every waking hour is filled with events, meetings, interviews, symposiums, receptions, etc., leaving little or no time to write in between (and this includes evening events). I will then be taking a few days off but always check this column as well as my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420) because I’ll update you – even if only briefly) on important news, especially on Friday when I’ll talk about my weekend guest on “Vatican Insider.”

Friday, March 13 is also the second anniversary of Pope Francis’ election to the papacy!  Doesn’t seem possible at times!

And some news about that day: The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff today announced that the Holy Father will preside at the rite of reconciliation of penitents, with individual confession and absolution, on Friday, March 13 at 5 p.m in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Sunday afternoon, International Women’s Day, I spent well over five hours in the Vatican at an event, “Voices of Faith,” that brought together talented, inspiring Catholic women of faith from around the world to talk about their experiences in reaching out to the world’s poor and marginalized, to the un-schooled, to those living in countries where they are threatened by terror groups, to women especially who are victims of human trafficking in so many places in the world.

Some truly remarkable women spoke the first two-hour segment of the afternoon as they explained their experiences with trafficked women, with trying to save women and girls from ISIS, with offering education possibilites to thousands of refugees around the world. And many more compelling stories. There was one male voice in the choir, that of a Jesuit priest from Nigeria who, as he told the story of his efforts to rescue the girls kidnapped so many months ago by Boko Haram terrorists and his letter to the nation’s president, became very emotional, with a similar ripple effect in the audience.

The second part of the afternoon featured a period of about an hour where four women, including a theologian, former Swedish ambassador to the Holy See, a Vatican Radio staff member and a doctor, spoke of their experience in (or with) the Catholic Church (one is Lutheran and one guest was a convert) as well as their hopes and dreams for the role of women in the Church.

Voices of Faith was organized by Chantal Goetz, the executive director of the Goetz Foundation and also the founder of Voices of Faith. This unique event, now in its second edition, was held in the Casina Pio IV, a beautiful and historic building in the Vatican gardens that houses the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Sciences.

I will bring you the individual stories (video and photos), one by one, in coming weeks but if you want a preview of the people whose lives, ministries and stories mesmerized so many of us, click here: http://www.voicesoffaith.org/

Time now for just a few highlights from Sunday and this morning: Pope Francis’ Angelus reflections on Sunday, March 8, International Women’s Day, the visit to the Vatican by the Belgian royal couple on Monday, Cardinal Tauran’s being sworn in as Camerlengo and the ransom demand asked of the Vatican!

POPE FRANCIS: “WOMEN HEAR THINGS WITH MORE CREATIVE, MORE PATIENT, MORE TENDER HEARTS”

In reflections after reciting the Angelus on Sunday, March 8, Pope Francis greeted “all the women throughout the world who are seeking, every day, to build a more human and welcoming society. And a fraternal thank you to those who in a thousands ways bear witness to the Gospel and work in the Church.”

March 8th is traditionally celebrated around the world as International Women’s Day.

He explained that this special day is “an opportunity to reaffirm the importance and the necessity of their presence in life. A world where women are marginalized is a barren world, because women not only bring life, but they also give us the ability to see beyond – they see beyond themselves – and they transmit to us the ability to understand the world through different eyes, to hear things with more creative, more patient, more tender hearts. A prayer and a special blessing for all women present here in the square and for all women! Greetings!”

KING AND QUEEN OF BELGIUM ARE WELCOMED BY POPE FRANCIS

This morning in the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis welcomed to the Vatican King Philippe and Queen Mathilde of Belgium who, after a cordial meeting and exchange of gifts. subsequently met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for Relations with States.

POPE FRANCIS - BELGIUM ROYALS

“During the cordial discussions,” said a Vatican communique, “the good bilateral relations between Belgium and the Holy See were confirmed. Attention was then paid to matters of mutual interest, such as social cohesion, the education of the young, the phenomenon of migration and the importance of intercultural and interreligious dialogue. Mention was then made of various problems of an international nature, with special reference to the future prospects of the European continent.”

Queen Mathilde was sporting crutches during the visit, following a fall some weeks ago, and was assisted in walking or sitting in a chair. Nothing seemed to dampen the s of the Belgian royals, nor that of a smiling Pope Francis.

CARDINAL TAURAN TAKES OATH AS CAMERLENGO

This morning in the Urban VIII Chapel of the Apostolic Palace, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, took the oath as Camerlengo or chamberlain of Holy Roman Church. He was appointed on December 20, 2014.

Holy See Press Office director, Fr. Federico Lombardi, explained that Pope Francis presided over the short liturgy for this occasion, reading the liturgical texts provided, though not making a speech. Cardinal Tauran read the text of the oath, and then briefly spoke some words of thanks. In the event of the “sede vacante,” the vacant see that occurs with the death or resignation of the Pope, the Camerlengo is one of only two officials who retain their positions in the Vatican administration. His role is to administer the temporal goods of the Church until the election of a new Pope. The Camerlengo also verifies the pontiff’s death and then destroying his ring.

Click here to see Cardinal Tauran’s bio from the Vatican website: http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/documentation/cardinali_biografie/cardinali_bio_tauran_jl.html

VATICAN RECEIVES RANSOM NOTE FOR DOCUMENT STOLEN FROM ARCHIVES

Here is the ransom story so far: (combined reports; the Guardian, AP) – The Vatican admitted Sunday that it had received a ransom demand in exchange for the return of two documents written by the great Renaissance artist Michelangelo that were stolen from its archives almost 20 years ago.

The Rev. Federico Lombardi said the Vatican had recently been offered the return of the documents in exchange for a payment, but that officials have refused. Instead, Lombardi said the matter has been turned over to the Vatican gendarmerie for further investigation.

The ransom demand was first reported by the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero. The paper said that the demand had been made by a person it described as a “former Vatican employee” and added that the person had asked for 100,000 euros ($108,600).

According to Lombardi, the documents were stolen in 1997, when a nun who worked in the Vatican archives informed church officials that they had disappeared. It is not clear why the theft was never made public. The Guardian reported that the documents, one of which bears Michelangelo’s signature, were taken from the archive of the department responsible for the upkeep of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Michelangelo was appointed architect of St. Peter’s Basilica in 1546 at the age of 72. He died eighteen years later in 1564, and the cathedral was not consecrated for another 62 years.