POPE GRANTS CARDINAL PELL LEAVE OF ABSENCE TO ANSWER CHARGES IN AUSTRALIA

POPE GRANTS CARDINAL PELL LEAVE OF ABSENCE TO ANSWER CHARGES IN AUSTRALIA

Very early in the morning, the Holy See Press Office sent out a notice that Cardinal George Pell would address journalists at the press office at 8:30am, about an hour before the start of the papal Mass on the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Sitting to the cardinal’s left was press office director Greg Burke. The cardinal’s statement – which was videoed but not live streamed – was in reaction to charges made against him relative to decades-old accusations of sex abuse. No questions were allowed.

Greg Burke read the following statement, after which Cardinal Pell spoke.

“The Holy See has learned with regret the news of charges filed in Australia against Card. George Pell for decades-old actions that have been attributed to him.

“Having become aware of the charges, Card. Pell, acting in full respect for civil laws, has

decided to return to his country to face the charges against him, recognizing the importance of his participation to ensure that the process is carried out fairly, and to foster the search for truth.

“The Holy Father, having been informed by Card. Pell, has granted the Cardinal a leave of absence so he can defend himself. During the Prefect’s absence, the Secretariat for the Economy will continue to carry out its institutional tasks. The Secretaries will remain at their posts to carry forward the ordinary affairs of the dicastery, donec aliter provideatur.

“The Holy Father, who has appreciated Cardinal Pell’s honesty during his three years of work in the Roman Curia, is grateful for his collaboration, and in particular, for his energetic dedication to the reforms in the economic and administrative sector, as well as his active participation in the Council of Cardinals (C9).

“The Holy See expresses its respect for the Australian justice system that will have to decide the merits of the questions raised. At the same time, it is important to recall that Card. Pell has openly and repeatedly condemned as immoral and intolerable the acts of abuse committed against minors; has cooperated in the past with Australian authorities (for example, in his depositions before the Royal Commission); has supported the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors; and finally, as a diocesan bishop in Australia, has introduced systems and procedures both for the protection of minors and to provide assistance to victims of abuse.”

BACKGROUND FROM CNA/EWTN – Jun 28, 2017 / 07:47 pm (UPDATED June 29 9:12 am) (CNA/EWTN News).- After years of fighting allegations of sexual abuse and negligence in handling abuse cases, Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s top finance man, will be charged on multiple counts of abuse, Australian police announced Wednesday.

Pell, who has fervently denied the allegations, will be charged on summons, and will be required to return to Melbourne in July order to answer the charges.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Victoria police were the ones who decided to charge the cardinal. In a June 29 statement, Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton said Pell is facing “multiple charges in respect to historic sexual offenses,” which multiple complaints in each of the charges.

Due to heavy media speculation surrounding the investigation, Patton clarified that “the process and the procedures that have been followed in the charging of Cardinal Pell have been the same that have been applied in a whole range of historical sex offenses whenever we investigate them.”

“There has been no change in any procedures whatsoever,” he said, noting that Pell has been treated the same as anyone else.

The deputy commissioner stressed the importance of remembering that “none of the allegations that have been made against Cardinal Pell have, obviously, been tested in any court yet.”

Cardinal Pell, like any other defendant, has a right to due process and so therefore it’s important that the process is allowed to run its natural course,” he said.

“Preserving the integrity of that process is essential to all of us, so for Victoria police it’s important that it’s allowed to go through unhindered, and its allowed to see natural justice is afforded to all the parties involved, including Cardinal Pell and the complainants in this matter.”

Pell has been summoned to appear before the Melbourne Maginstrate’s court July 18 for a filing hearing to face the charges, which were served to his legal team Wednesday (Thursday Australian time).

The charging of Cardinal Pell, who in 2013 was tapped to oversee the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy and is a member of the Council of Cardinals advising Pope Francis, makes him the most senior Vatican official to ever be charged with abuse.

Cardinal Pell was ordained in the diocese of Ballarat in 1966, where he served as a priest and later as a consulter to Bishop Ronald Mulkearns, who oversaw the diocese from 1971-1997. Pell was appointed auxiliary bishop for the archdiocese of Melbourne in 1987, and was named archbishop in 1996.

In February 2016, he testified for the third time before Australia’s Royal Commission regarding claims that surfaced in 2015 accusing the cardinal of moving “known pedophile” Gerald Ridsdale, of bribing a victim of the later-defrocked priest, and of ignoring a victim’s complaint.

Established in 2013, the Royal Commission is dedicated to investigating institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

Despite having testified before the commission twice before on the same charges, Pell was again summoned to return to Australia for deposition in December. However, the cardinal’s doctor advised against the long flight, due to health issues.

As a result, Cardinal Pell volunteered to appear by way of video conference from Rome. His proposal for the video conference was accepted, and he gave his testimony again with abuse survivors present, who crowd-funded in order to attend the hearing in person.

Shortly before the hearing, abuse allegations surfaced accusing the cardinal of multiple counts of child sexual abuse dating as far back as 1961, which he fervently denied at the time.

In a statement released after the accusations arose, Pell said “the allegations are without foundation and utterly false.”

At the close of the hearing, the cardinal admitted that he should have done more to protect the children of Australia during his time as a bishop.

“One of the things I regret as a Catholic priest is the damage that these crimes do to the faith of survivors, of the victims, and their friends and family, and generally throughout the society,” he said, and voiced his willingness to work with authorities.

In a June 29 statement following the announcement of the Victoria police department’s decision to charge him, Cardinal Pell’s office said he has “again strenuously denied all allegations.”

The statement said Pell would return to Australia as soon as possible “to clear his name” after consulting with his doctors, who will advise him on his travel arrangements, and that he looks forward to “vigorously” opposing the charges in court

Pell is set to give a statement to journalists in Rome at 8:30a.m. local time in the Holy See Press Office regarding the announcement of the charges.

The CNS video of the press office statement and Cardinal Pell’s remarks can be found here:

http://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/7386/0/vatican-financial-chief-pell-takes-leave-of-absence-to-fight-sex-abuse-charges-

Also this: http://www.catholicnews.com/services/englishnews/2017/cardinal-pell-professing-innocence-will-face-charges-in-australia.cfm

 

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MASS IN VATICAN PARISH COMMEMORATES MOTHER ANGELICA

Today is the 11th anniversary of the death of St. John Paul, a day that no one who was in Rome at the time will ever forget. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to overhear a conversation between St. John Paul and Mother Angelica!

Mass last night at Sant’Anna was just lovely, as I hope you can glean from my photos. I was very blessed to be a lector at that Mass. I have not actually checked but I am sure that video is now or will be soon be posted on Youtube.

As you pray today, include members of the large pilgrimage organized by New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan whose flight to Rome yesterday was cancelled by Delta! I was to have joined them today for a walk together with Cardinal Dolan to St. Peter’s Basilica to mark the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy by entering the Holy Door to receive a plenary indulgence. Afterwards, at 4 pm, he was scheduled to celebrate Mass at the Tomb of St. Peter: Hopefully those events can be rescheduled!  Tonight was to feature dinner and a book-signing event with the pilgrims, many of whom I know!

MASS IN VATICAN PARISH COMMEMORATES MOTHER ANGELICA

At the same time that the funeral for Mother Angelica was being held at the Shrine of the Angels in Hanceville, Alabama, yesterday morning, the Rome EWTN family and friends attended a Mass in the Vatican parish of Sant’Anna that was celebrated by Cardinal George Pell.

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EWTN staff were lectors and readers of prayer intentions during Mass, including intentions read in various languages by the multi-lingual Rome members.

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Cardinal Pell was the principal celebrant and concelebrants for the Mass were: Msgr. Dario Eduardo Vigano, president of the Secretariat for Communications, Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J., spokesman for the Vatican and director of the Holy See Press Office, and Fr. Jeff Kirby, who is studying for his doctorate in moral theology in Rome

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Present at the Sant’Anna Mass were Ambassadors to the Holy See Ken Hackett of the U,S. Esteban Kriskovich of Paraguay, as well as representatives from Opus Dei, Cor Unum, the Foreign Press Office, FAO, L’Osservatore Romano, Order of the Holy Sepulcher, Catholic-Link, the Pontifical North American College (NAC), the Vatican Post Office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Christian Life Movement, the European Parliament, the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate and Greg Burke, vice director of the Holy See Press Office.

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Numerous media representatives were present as well.

Following is Cardinal Pell’s homily for Mother Angelica memorial Mass:

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April 1, 2016 –  St. Anne’s Church, Vatican City

Easter Sunday is a good day for dying, a good day for being born into eternal life. Mother Angelica died on last Easter Sunday, and we should be consoled by the time of her passing as we gather to pray for the repose of her soul as she awaits the Resurrection of the body.

Today’s Easter Gospel passage and the reading from Acts both speak of spectacular miracles. In the Gospel the apostles had been fishing all through the night without catching anything. And they did not recognize Jesus as he stood on the bank and invited them to try once more. I suspect the fisherman complied with the request out of politeness rather than conviction. But they took in a great catch of 153 fish, which strained their nets, and Jesus then gave them breakfast. In the passage from Acts we have Peter and John curing the crippled man through the power of Jesus Christ, and so disturbing the high priests and the leaders with their teachings and their miracles. It was after the first Pentecost, and Peter was no longer afraid as he defended his good deed done to a cripple. Mother Angelica would have been proud of him. ‘The man who stands before you was healed,’ he proclaimed, ‘in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. He is the stone rejected by you builders which has become the corner stone. And there is no salvation through anyone else.’ As the cross was proclaimed as a sign of contradiction with such faith and courage, it’s not surprising that by then the early Christian community numbered 5,000 men.

Some parallels quickly come to mind. The spread and effectiveness of Mother Angelica’s Eternal Word Television Network, EWTN, founded in 1981 with an investment of $200 was as unexpected as the apostles’ huge catch of fish. So too we should draw strength from the fact that Peter’s salvation message was exactly the same as Mother Angelica’s, unbroken and substantially unchanged across 2,000 years. This kerygma, the basic Good News, doesn’t need improvement or pruning, and doesn’t need corrections or additions. And part of Mother Angelica’s effectiveness came from her acceptance of this truth.

Mother Angelica’s public personality was so boisterous that we can be tempted to forget that she was a contemplative Franciscan nun, a Poor Clare from the age of 21. I still feel her religious name is somewhat incongruous, as she was not angelic in any conventional sense. The Little Flower’s parents were both canonized, but Mother Angelica had no such blessing. Born into a poor family in the Rust Belt, Ohio, Rita Rizzo’s father abandoned her when she was five, and she was brought up by her mother, who suffered from depression. She did poorly at school – at the McKinley High School ­– although she was the drum majorette in the school band. Her life story brings a message of encouragement for all those who were or are children from broken homes. Some, perhaps many, from such backgrounds are tempted to be resentful, short of self-confidence, uncertain of their ability to contribute or build a good family. Mother Angelica is one more example of what can be achieved from difficult beginnings. She knew what it was to struggle. She wasn’t a ‘milk and water’ character, but a triumph of God’s grace through, and perhaps despite, her nature. She truly cast fire upon the earth.

God works in unexpected ways, as Mother Angelica promised him that she would found a monastery deep in the Protestant south, at Irondale in Alabama. With four companions she came there in 1962. An unlikely launching pad for an international television network, although probably not quite as unpromising a spot as Bethlehem and Nazareth. Mother began in a small way by recording video tapes of her homilies in the 1970s until she founded EWTN with Deacon Bill Steltemeier. Eventually EWTN pioneered the digital revolution in broadcasting, and many experts visited to examine just what they were doing. There was an enormous development and progression.

Mother Angelica was conservative, direct, and in fact somewhat divisive. She spoke truth to authority, as strong women have ever done to their families, their priests and bishops, and sometimes to the public; just think of Catherine of Siena. She didn’t found another church, and while she spoke bluntly to a number of the Church’s officials, she recognized the office of Pope and bishops and priests.

The Catholic world was very different back when she unleashed her withering attack on those who presented a female Christ figure at the 1993 Denver World Youth Day. There were not, then, as there are now, so many signs of hope; not so many young, orthodox and vital priests and religious. And this para-liturgical abuse provoked her to unleash the pent-up frustrations of many years. It was powerful and eloquent, something of a diatribe, certainly over-the-top in some ways. But thank God she spoke that way. When I read it, I remember thinking ‘yes, she’s right.’ And one Australian activist had written to me just recently, and told me that he changed his life’s direction after hearing it. It wasn’t discreet – in fact it was massively imprudent. But it was great copy for the journalists, and a great witness to the Christ that we follow.

She slowed down the drift toward destruction, turned away many from damaging themselves. We pray for her soul, despite the long years of penance through suffering which occurred after her strokes in 2001. May she be liberated from the effects of her weakness and sins.

Above all we thank God for her message, her courage and her faith. And we pray that the Church in the United States will throw up other giants equally unexpectedly to help strengthen our faith and lead us to Christ. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

George Card. Pell

Prefect

Secretariat for the Economy

LEAP YEAR AND “THE CATHOLIC CONNECTION” – CARDINAL PELL TESTIFIES BEFORE ROYAL COMMISSION ON ABUSE CASES

One of the more extraordinary moments of my life occurred last Friday when I had an amazing reunion with two former high school French students of mine, touching bases for the first time since I left the Academy of the Holy Names in 1964! The now-defunct Academy, where I taught French for four years, was at 711 Pershing Drive in Silver Spring, Maryland, and the very buildings were an illustrious part of state history.

I could write an extra long column about how very much I loved teaching, the great relationships I built with a number of AHN families, and how special the Academy and those years were! Perhaps another day, another time.

Monica (Longen) Knudsen and Anne (Quinn) Glickman stayed in touch after they graduated from the Academy and, even though they now live in different states, they still keep up with each other. (Monica, l, and Anne, center)

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In 2014 they went to the Holy Land on a pilgrimage. On their return, upon watching EWTN one night in her home, Monica heard what she told her husband was “a familiar voice.” My name was announced and she theorized it was her former French teacher, did some research, found me on Facebook (merci Facebook!) and contacted Anne!

In a November 2014 post, Monica wrote: A thought to cheer you: I have never forgotten so many things you taught us in French class. For example, you told us that “mon petit chou-fleur” was a term of endearment in French. Leave it to the French to be able to wring romance out of a humble cauliflower! Happy Thanksgiving to you! Monica

I learned they would be in Rome at this time with a small group and we arranged to have dinner last Friday at La Scaletta. It was phenomenal – Monica, Anne and Madameoiselle Lewis –after so many years! But the years melted away as we exchanged stories about families, work, travel, the changes in teaching and our country in the ensuing years – oh so many adventures!

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And we reminisced, of course, about AHN – the classrooms, the gym, the ballroom, having classes outdoors in the spring, the nuns and the two other lay teachers, so much! It was amazing to go back in time when I was barely 10 years older than my freshmen and sophomore students!

Salih, one of the waiters at La Scaletta, was so taken by this wonderful reunion story, that he was telling everyone at the other tables about us – a group of Scottish rugby players, young Italian couples out for the night, an American couple, and others. The Italians came over to congratulate us and wish us the very best for the future! They were so young that I’m sure the idea of a friendship spanning 50 years was almost beyond comprehension!

Another special moment was having Francesco, the Sicilian-born, Bill Murray-lookalike chef personally cater to our table, bringing our dishes, etc. to us.

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Both Monica and Anne had copies of my book so I wrote a few dedications. I’ve invited them to my home for a mini reception and some prosecco when they return to Rome from points north on Thursday, and they’ll bring several more members of the group.

LEAP YEAR AND “THE CATHOLIC CONNECTION”

Here we are – it’s that extra special day we get once every four years in what we call Leap year and – guess what – it has its origins right here in Rome!

I recently read a story in the Boston Pilot by Donis Tracy that explained that this extra day was a way to adapt the calendar year to the astronomical year. While the concept of the leap year has been around since ancient times — the Ancient Jewish calendar added a leap month every 19 years for example — the current calendar year has its origins in the Catholic Church.

You see, in 1582 Pope Gregory XIII set about adjusting the calendar in order to bring the celebration of Easter to the time of year in which it was celebrated by the early Church. Pope Gregory determined that the calendar was out of sync with the spring equinox by 10 days, and set out to remedy that. This was significant to the Church because the date for Easter was set by the Council of Nicea in 325 as the Sunday after the first full moon of spring, and the start of spring was fixed as March 21. Without adjustment, the date of Easter would eventually drift into the summer.

On February 24, 1582, Pope Gregory issued a papal bull that said the new calendar – which would be called the Gregorian calendar – added an extra day to February every four years, unless the year is divisible by 100. Those years do not have a leap year. The exception to that rule is if the year is divisible by 400. So, following this rule, 1900 was not a leap year but 2000 was. There was some confusion in different countries for a while but eventually all fell into place!

Are you confused as well? You are probably not alone.

For the Pilot story, Tracy interviewed Rev. James Weiss, associate professor of Church history at Boston College.

Over the next 200 years, noted The Pilot article, most European nations adopted the Gregorian calendar, he continued. The final country to switch to the Gregorian calendar was Turkey, which finally adopted the calendar in 1927.

Today, most of the world uses the Gregorian calendar. Some exceptions, such as Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan still use their traditional calendars to mark the years. Others, such as India, Bangladesh and Israel use both the Gregorian and their traditional calendars to mark the passage of time.

CARDINAL PELL TESTIFIES BEFORE ROYAL COMMISSION ON ABUSE CASES

This weekend, before his testimony on sex abuse cases in Australia, given via video linkup with Australia from a Rome hotel, Cardinal George Pell visited the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in the Vatican Gardens to pray for all survivors use. He is the prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.

The Cardinal testified for four hours from Sunday night to early Monday morning (given the time difference between Australia and Rome) before the Royal Commission that is investigating institutional sexual abuse in Australia. He will testify again over the next few days. Seated in the same conference room were two dozen Australian abuse survivors who had traveled to Rome with the help of donations from a fund-raising campaign to help pay their expenses.

(Vatican Radio) Cardinal Pell also offered his support for the “Loud Fence” movement by tying a yellow ribbon on the fence at the grotto.

Beginning in Ballarat, in the Australian state of Victoria, the Loud Fence movement encourages people to tie brightly-coloured ribbons on the fences of Catholic institutions, as a symbol of solidarity with survivors of sexual abuse, their families and communities.

The people of the Diocese of Ballarat suffered greatly from a sexual abuse crisis, which led to the suicide of several victims.

Loud Fence ribbons had previously been tied to the barricades around St. Peter’s Square, but the ribbon Cardinal Pell tied to the Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto is the first to appear within the Vatican itself.

“I am aware of the Loud Fence movement and how it has grown rapidly. This is my gesture of support, especially for the people of Ballarat,” Cardinal Pell said.

“I think this is an entirely appropriate place to place a ribbon of support and prayed for all survivors of abuse here. I hope the coming days will eventually lead to healing for everyone,” he continued.

Cardinal Pell said he hoped people will accept this gesture of support and solidarity for the Loud Fence movement.

Cardinal Pell has repeatedly given his support for the work of the Australian Royal Commission, and has vowed to meet individually with victims who had travelled to Rome and has said he hoped the coming days “will eventually lead to healing for everyone.”

During his testimony, he acknowledged the Church has not handled the issue of sexual abuse well in the past.

“I’m not here to defend the indefensible. The church has made enormous mistakes and is working to remedy those,” Cardinal Pell said.

“The Church has made enormous mistakes and is working to remedy those, but the Church in many places, certainly in Australia, has mucked things up, has let people down,” he continued.

Cardinal Pell is scheduled to give further evidence over the next three days.

JUST AN ORDINARIATE FRIENDSHIP – THERE’S ALSO THIS…..

JUST AN ORDINARIATE FRIENDSHIP

Fr. Christopher Pearson’s post on my Facebook page brought back some terrific memories of a trip to London in September 2010, a wonderful meal in an Italian restaurant in London and a friendship born that night. I write about this because of his post and also because you’ve heard two of my conversations with Fr. Christopher on “Vatican Insider.” (photo from his Facebook page)

FR. CHRISTOPHER PEARSON

As you will see, there is another important thread as I weave this story: The Personal Ordinariate.

I had gone to London for six days to cover Pope Benedict’s amazing visit to the UK. On Friday, September 17, the second day of his state visit and the day after his triumphant reception in Scotland, he was scheduled to visit St. Mary’s University College in Twickenham, where I was credentialed to cover his meeting with 3,000 young people – schoolchildren, students – to celebrate Catholic education.

Twickeham was a bit of a train trip from London and I had to be up at 4 am to get the train and be at the college to go through security, find the media section, etc. It was a terrific morning and experience (I wrote about it extensively on these pages) and I was only able to write about it and download photos after returning to London and going to the Queen Elizabeth II Convention Center, the media center for the papal visit

I finished work shortly after 9 pm and was absolutely starving. I had had only a sandwich and some orange juice for lunch – I don’t even remember having breakfast! All the restaurants and pubs were closed near the center but the personnel told me there should be a few places open about four blocks up Queen Victoria street. That sounded good to me and I knew I had to find a place as I had a phone interview to do for EWTN at 10 pm.

It is fairly rare that I seek an Italian restaurant when I travel but Il Coliseo seemed suitable and there was quite a number of people inside – a good sign as Londoners generally eat earlier than Romans do, thus a restaurant with a crowd at 9:30 seemed ideal. I ordered dinner, got up just before 10 to go outside and do the EWTN phone report and returned to my seat to finish dinner.

Just as I ordered coffee (to try and sat awake as I had now been up for 18 hours), two men came into the restaurant. The first was wearing a Roman collar and carrying a huge Vatican flag and he was accompanied by a friend. They sat down at a table not far from mine. I smiled and decided I would go and ask a priest his thoughts about the papal visit, Pope Benedict, etc. I was still wearing my media credentials but apparently did not need them for, as I approached the table, the man who turned out to be Fr. Pearson, said, “Oh my word, it’s Joan Lewis from EWTN!”

It turned out that Fr. Pearson was the pastor of an Anglican parish, St. Agnes, and he was with what Anglicans call the parish ‘warden’, also named Christopher. They invited me to have my coffee while they had dinner and the next hour or more was filled with some of the most stimulating conversation I’ve ever had about the Church, faith, Catholics and Anglicans, Pope Benedict, the Personal Ordinariate, and so on. Had Father not told me he was Anglican I would not have doubted for a minute that he was Catholic. But not to get ahead of myself.

I had my first interview with him on that trip: We spoke about the Personal Ordinariate, established only the year before by Pope Benedict which is, put simply, a structure created by the Catholic Church for those bishops, priests and people in the Anglican Communion who seek to enter the Catholic Church and be in full communion with the Successor of Peter.

In 2011 when the first Personal Ordinariate, Our Lady of Walsingham, was created, Fr. Christopher joined and became a Catholic priest, as did many other priests and several Anglican bishops, one of whom became the Ordinary of this first ordinariate and is now also a friend of mine, Msgr. Keith Newton. I spent 4 days in London in January 2011, right after Our Lady of Waslingham was established and Msgr. Newton was named as ordinary. I interviewed him and also visited St. Agnes where many of the parishioners had a thousand questions about the Ordinariate. Many, it turned out, would want to join.

My second interview with Fr. Christopher for Vatican Insider was when he was a Catholic priest. He is now the rector of the Ordinariate and Parish Church of the Most Precious Blood in London.

Almost as if to complete the circle, it looks like I will be going, at the end of the month, to Houston, Texas, where yet another good friend, Bishop-elect Steven Lopes, will be ordained as the first bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Peter! He will be ordained on February 2 at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.

I’ll have to find out if Fr. Christopher or Msgr. Newton will be in attendance.

If not, we must plan to meet in London at Il Coliseo!

THERE’S ALSO THIS…..

CARDINAL GEORGE PELL, PREFECT OF THE SECRETARIAT FOR THE ECONOMY, announced on Sunday the Holy See is taking steps to “slave-proof” the Vatican supply chain. He was speaking in Rome during a meeting of The Global Foundation, an Australian organization which brings together business and government leaders. “I am pleased to confirm that the Vatican itself will commit to slavery-proofing its own supply chains and I hope that today’s announcement will serve as encouragement for others to follow suit,” Cardinal Pell told the gathering. At the same meeting, the Consumer Goods Forum – a consortium of major companies including Carrefour, Barilla, and Nestle – announced it had passed a resolution to “eradicate” forced labour from their supply chains.

“INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE AND EXTREMISM: REASONS AND REMEDIES” was the title of the First Arab Thinkers Forum, held in Abu Dhabi January 17 and 18 at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research. The only non-Muslim speaker was Fr. Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, who intervened during the first session during which the Grand Mufti of Lebanon, Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan, also gave an address. Fr. Ayuso Guixot structured his discourse around five key points: extremism, the culture of encounter, the key role of religious leaders, the need for sincere dialogue and the importance of prayer. He emphasised that it was not his intention to pursue considerations on the economic, political, social and cultural reasons for extremism, well known to those present, preferring to focus instead on Pope Francis’ recommendations to the international community on how to construct peace which can serve to counter extremism.

A PRECIOUS TREASURE FROM THE ROME CHURCH OF SAN GREGORIO AL CELIO was brought back home on Monday after spending a week on loan to Canterbury Cathedral for a meeting of worldwide Anglican leaders there. The head of a crozier, or pastoral staff, associated with St Gregory the Great, has been on display in the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral, alongside a rare 6th century book of the Gospels given by Pope Gregory to St Augustine as he set off on his mission to take the Christian faith to England. The manuscript is the oldest surviving Latin illustrated Gospel book and one of the most ancient European books in existence. Appropriately, the relic of St Augustine was returned to Rome at the start of the annual week of prayer for Christian Unity. (sources: VIS, Vatican Radio)

VATICAN RELEASES 2014 FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

You may recall that in mid-June, on a flight to Rome from a cousin’s funeral in Chicago, I sat next to Bret Bonanni, one of the members of the USA Water Polo team on the plane on their way to a round of matches in Europe. On June 15, their one free day in Rome, nine of the team members joined me and Santiago Perez, head of the Vatican’s Sports Desk at the Council for the Laity, on a three-hour tour of Vatican City, the gardens and the basilica. I wrote about that morning and posted a photo.

Each of the team members wrote me a beautiful thank-you email and I have been able to stay in touch, especially with Bret and his parents, who were in Europe for the matches and took me to dinner in Rome. They are all currently in Toronto where the USA Water Polo teams, both men and women, won the Gold Medal matches last night! Seems they are now on the road to Rio 2016!

Here is a photo from the link to the victory story:

USA WATER POLO TEAM

http://www.teamusa.org/News/2015/July/16/Veteran-Captain-Tony-Azevedo-Leads-Recently-Formed-Mens-Water-Polo-Team-To-Gold

VATICAN RELEASES 2014 FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

The Vatican today released its 2014 financial statements and, noting that new accounting systems had been used for 2014, there was good news and bad news.

Income from areas like the Vatican Museums and the sales of stamps almost doubled profits from the previous year (from 33 million euros to 63.5 million euros), but the budget deficit to run the Roman Curia grew over 2013 (up from 24.5 million euros to 25.6 million).

Previously unreported assets of 1.1 billion euros, and previously unreported liabilities of 222 million euros meant that net assets rose by 939 million euros.

The biggest single outlay in 2014 for the Vatican was salaries for 2,880 personnel at 64 Holy See entities – 126.6 million euros.

The Governorato – the administration that basically runs Vatican City state – the museums, pharmacy and medical offices, clothing and food stores, post office, police and fire department – has a staff of 1,930 people.

Another entry: 21 million euros in contributions from the world’s dioceses and 50 million euros from the Vatican bank.

Here is the report released by the Secretariat for the Economy, headed by Cardinal George Pell:

2014 Financial Statements: Consolidated Financial Statements of the Holy See and Financial Statements of the Governorate of Vatican City State

At the Council for the Economy meeting on 14 July 2015, Cardinal Pell and the staff from the Secretariat for the Economy presented the Consolidated Statements for the Holy See and the Financial Statements for the Governatorato.  The Statements had been prepared by the Prefecture for Economic Affairs and reviewed and verified by the Secretariat, the Audit Committee of the Council and the External Auditor. It was noted that 2014 was a year of transition to new Financial.

Management policies based on International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). The former accounting principles and consolidation perimeter (comprising 64 Holy See entities) were used in preparation of the 2014 Statements.  Managers were however asked to ensure they had included all assets and liabilities and provide appropriate certification as to completeness and accuracy.  Working with the external auditor, third party confirmation of balances were requested so that, consistent with sound audit practice, amounts could be independently verified.  To include all assets and liabilities in the accounts at year end and to prepare for the new policies, a number of closing entries were included which make direct comparison with 2013 figures difficult.  Where appropriate relevant points of comparison were provided to the Council.

The journey of transition to new policies is progressing well and the Secretariat was pleased to report high levels of interest and cooperation in the entities.   The 2014 Financial Statements reflect  an  enormous  amount  of  work  by  staff  in  many  Holy  See  entities,  particularly  in  the Prefettura for Economic Affairs and the Secretariat for the Economy and Council members expressed their gratitude for the rigourous and professional work and the strong commitment to implementing the financial reforms approved by the Holy Father.

The Financial Statements for the Holy See for 2014 indicate a deficit of 25.621 M Euro which is similar to the deficit of 24.471 M Euro reported in the 2013 Statements.  Had the same accounting treatment applied in 2014 been applied in 2013, the 2013 deficit would have been reported as 37.209 M Euro – the improvement in 2014 was largely due to favourable movements in investments held by the Holy See. The main sources of income in 2014, in addition to investments, include the contributions made pursuant to Canon 1271 of the Code of Canon Law (21 M Euro) and the contribution from Institute of Works of Religion (50 M Euro).

Net Assets increased by 939 M Euro as adjustments were made to include all assets and liabilities in the closing balances for 2014.  For the entities included in the consolidation perimeter, assets previously off the Balance sheet amounted to 1,114 M Euro and liabilities amounted to 222 M Euro.  While the patrimonial situation in the Pension Fund was not reflected in the closing Balance Sheet, it was reported that the new Pension Fund Board will be asked to prepare an updated assessment of the overall situation.

As in previous years, the most significant expense included in the Holy See Financial Statements is the cost of staff (126.6 M Euro) and the Statements indicate total staffing of 2880 in the 64 Holy See entities included in the consolidation.

The Financial Statements for the Governatorato for 2014 indicate a surplus of 63.519 M Euro which is a significant improvement on the 2013 surplus of 33.042 M Euro, largely due to continued strong revenue from the cultural activities (especially the Museums) and favourable movements in investments.  Net Assets increased by 63.5 M Euro and there were no adjustments necessary to include additional assets and liabilities in closing balances for 2014.  The Statements indicate a total staffing in the Governatorato of 1930.

Following the meeting of the Council for the Economy, the Secretariat for the Economy was advised the Auditor confirmed that a clear audit certificate had been issued for the Holy See and Governatorato Financial Statements.

The Council also received a further update on the 2015 Budget. The 2015 Budgets were prepared under the new Financial Management Policies, approved last year by the Holy Father. The Council in late May received a detailed budget submission prepared by the Secretariat.

The submission highlighted proposed activities as well as anticipated revenue and expenditure for the coming year and included specific recommendations for each of the 136 entities on the list, as approved  by  the  Holy  Father,  who  are  subject  to  control  and  vigilance  of  the  Council  and Secretariat.  The Budgets indicate the deficits experienced in recent years are likely to continue in 2015.

While rapid progress is being made in implementing reforms requested by the Holy Father, the complete transition to the IPSAS is likely to take several years.  The 2015 Budgets and the 2015

Statements are the first important steps. From 2015, the Consolidated Statements for the Holy See will include the new practices and additional entities, as required under the new Financial Management Policies and the IPSAS Standards.

“VATICAN INSIDER” GOES INSIDE THE EBOLA CRISIS – POPE FRANCIS HONORS OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE WITH CREOLE MASS – POPE MEETS WITH SYRIAC PATRIARCH, BISHOPS, FAITHFUL – POPE FRANCIS WRITES MESSAGE TO NOBEL PEACE LAUREATES – SECRETARIAT FOR ECONOMY PREPARING 2015 BUDGET – CHALDEAN PATRIARCH PROPOSES ACTS OF PENANCE DURING ADVENT

The news yesterday that Pope Francis will create new cardinals on February 14, 2015 has prompted speculation in the U.S. as to whether or not the Pope might name Archbishops Cupich of Chicago, Chaput of Philadelphia and/or Gomez of Los Angeles as cardinals. While the Holy Father may certainly follow or bend any rules involving the creation of cardinals, it is customary to have only one under-80, voting-age cardinal from each See. Because the former archbishops of Chicago (Cardinal Francis George), Philadelphia (Cardinal Justin Rigali) and Los Angeles (Cardinal Roger Mahony) are all under the age of 80 (although Cardinal Rigali, emeritus of Philadelphia, turns 80 on April 19, 2015), it is viewed as unlikely (though not impossible) that the Pope will elevate any of these three to the red hat.

“VATICAN INSIDER” GOES INSIDE THE EBOLA CRISIS

Join me this weekend for Part II of my conversation with Msgr. Robert Vitillo, health advisor for Caritas Internationalis and Dr. Timothy Flanigan, MD, professor of Infectious Diseases at Brown University Medical School, and also a permanent deacon in the diocese of Providence, Rhode Island. Both men had spent some time in Liberia and had cone to Rome for a Caritas-sponsored conference on the Ebola crisis, and that is when we spoke. Our conversation is riveting – you will learn a lot about Ebola and things you have not heard or read elsewhere about how Africans cope with this insidious virus.

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 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 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives:

http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

POPE FRANCIS HONORS OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE WITH CREOLE MASS

In a very short time as I write these words, Pope Francis will preside at what is known as a Creole Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to honor today’s feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas and commonly referred to as the Queen of Mexico.  A Creole Mass is marked by the use of indigenous instruments and rhythms with prayers in Spanish. Photos from news.va

Our Lady of Guadalupe

The dictionary definition of “Creole” is “original to, or born in Louisiana” and/or “any person who claims decent from the region’s earliest settlers or inhabitants.”

The 6 pm Mass will be preceded by the recitation of the Rosary of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Advent prayers and popular Latin-American hymns. According to Vatican Radio, the Mass itself will feature hymns from the “Misa Criolla,” written by Argentinian composer Ariel Ramìrez, directed by his son Facundo Ramirez, sung by an Argentinian musical group and accompanied by a Roman choir, called “Musica Nuova.”

Concelebrants include Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation of Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America; Cardinal Norbert Rivera Carrera of Mexico City; Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis of Aparecida; Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley of Boston; and Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, archbishop-emeritus of Santiago.

Guzman Carriquiry of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America told Rome Reports that, “more than 750 priests will concelebrate the Mass with Pope Francis. In fact, many Cardinals and Bishops will travel to Rome, specifically to take part in this celebration.” He noted that Our Lady of Guadalupe “is the Patroness of the Americas and the queen of the entire continent. In fact, she is also the Patroness of the Philippines.”

Pope Francis, the first Pope from the Americas, travels to the Philippines in January 2015.

In 2011 Pope Benedict XVI celebrated a Creole Mass in the Vatican.

Click here for libretto for the Mass: http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/libretti/2014/20141212-libretto-madonna-guadalupe.pdf

POPE MEETS WITH SYRIAC PATRIARCH, BISHOPS, FAITHFUL

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis Friday morning met with Patriarch Ignace Youssif III Younan, and the bishops and faithful of the Syriac Catholic Church, and urged them to coordinate their efforts with the other Churches in the Middle East and seek to meet the humanitarian needs of the people affected by the violence and unrest in the region.

His Beatitude was accompanied to the meeting by the bishops of the Syriac Catholic Church, who held their annual Synod in Rome this week, as well as members of the faithful.

SYRIAC PATRIARCH

In his remarks, the Pope extended his greetings to the Eastern Catholic “communities scattered throughout the world” and expressed his “encouragement, in particular to those of Iraq and Syria, who are living times of great suffering and fear in the face of violence.” He also assured them of his prayers.

POPE FRANCIS WRITES MESSAGE TO NOBEL PEACE LAUREATES

A Message in Pope Francis’ name, signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, has been sent to to the participants of the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, which opened in Rome on Friday.

In his “cordial greetings to all gathered for this occasion,” Pope Francis notes, “In the heart of every man and woman is the desire for a full life, including that irrepressible longing for fraternity that draws us to fellowship with others and enables us to see them not as enemies or rivals but as brothers and sisters to be accepted and embraced.”

“His Holiness,” continues the greeting to the Nobel peace laureates, “is deeply grateful for the commitment of the Summit participants to promoting peace and fraternity among peoples, and for their efforts in finding solutions to the conflicts of our day. As this meeting honors the memory of Nelson Mandela, whose legacy of non-violence and reconciliation continues to inspire the world, Pope Francis prays that all present may be renewed and encouraged in their urgent work, and that their labours may bear an abundant harvest of peace for the world.”

One of those laureates, the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists who won the eace prize in 1989, is garnering big headlines for the reports that the Pope will not meet with him. Fr. Federico Lombardi, papal spokesman, declined to say whether Pope Francis had personally turned down a request for a meeting with the Dalai Lama, but he did say, “Pope Francis obviously holds the Dalai Lama in very high regard, but he will not be meeting any of the Nobel laureates.”

Given the enormous difficulties between Tibet and China (Tibet sees itself as an independent nation – China sees Tibet as part of mianland China), many see the non-meeting between the Pope and Dalai Lama as the Vatican’s way of not doing anything that would irritate Chinese leadership with whom they want to have closer ties to protect Christians living and practicing their faith in China, most of the time under difficult circumstances imposed by the authorities.

SECRETARIAT FOR ECONOMY PREPARING 2015 BUDGET

The latest news bulletin from the Secretariat for the Economy, presided over by the prefect, Cardinal George Pell, explains that “the preparation of the 2015 budget of the Holy See is well under way” and it is “being prepared in accordance with the new Financial Management Policies distributed to all entities of the Holy See and the Vatican City State in November following the approval by the Holy Father.”

“To assist and support entities with the new budgeting process and budget template,” says the bulletin, “the Secretariat offered training sessions in November and December. More than 160 staff members, representing 79 entities participated in these sessions. Each session was organized as a meeting of collaborators rather than a classroom, and included a detailed explanation of the reasons for the new policies. Participants were invited to ask questions, seek clarification and discuss some of the challenges of implementation as we reviewed the main objectives of the new Policies:

– Establishment of sound and consistent financial management policies, practices and reporting at the Holy See, the Vatican City State, and all related entities.

– Facilitation of decision making at a local level and provision of a clear framework for accountability of those entrusted with the resources of the Church.

– Strengthening of the planning process so that economic resources are allocated where they can be most effectively used.

– Increase of available economic resources for the mission.”

The bulletin further notes that, “training and support material distributed to all participants was reviewed and discussed so that all were clear about the new polices and accounting practices that will be implemented from 2015 and beyond. We were very grateful for the positive feedback and encouragement participants provided in the training sessions and in our discussions afterwards.” The Secretariat found “helpful” the “engagement and dialogue.”

The 2015 budget is scheduled for publication in spring of 2015.

CHALDEAN PATRIARCH PROPOSES ACTS OF PENANCE DURING ADVENT

Fides news agency reports from Baghdad that Patriarch Louis Raphael I of the Chaldean Church has proposed to the faithful acts of penance during the Advent season as an invocation to God “for the release of Mosul and the Nineveh Plain and to demonstrate concrete closeness and solidarity to all Iraqi refugees, forced to leave the cities and villages that have fallen under the control of the jihadists of the Islamic State (IS). Those acts include fasting, prayer and penance in the three days before Christmas and the invitation to give up parties with music and dancing at Christmas and New Year.

Patriarch Sako wrote Fides, saying “During Advent,we prepare for Christmas by fasting, prayer, penance and works of charity.” He asks “’all the sons and daughters’ of the Chaldean Church to fast from Monday, December 22 until the evening of December 24, to invoke the Lord for the gift of release of Mosul and the Nineveh plain, so that all the refugees might return safely to their homes, to their work and to their schools.” In his message, Patriarch Sako expressed confidence that “Christ will hear our prayers.”