AUSTRALIAN HIGH COURT TO HEAR CARDINAL PELL APPEAL – POPE FRANCIS: MARRIED COUPLES, LAITY ARE MODELS FOR THE FAITH – POPE FRANCIS RECEIVES ANGLICAN ARCHBISHOP WELBY

AUSTRALIAN HIGH COURT TO HEAR CARDINAL PELL APPEAL

Catholic News Agency reported that “the Australian High Court announced Wednesday that Cardinal George Pell’s application for special leave to appeal has been referred to the full court for decision. Pell is seeking to appeal an August decision by the Court of Appeal in Victoria to uphold his conviction for child sexual abuse.

“His application will now be considered by all the members of Australia’s highest court, and a decision is expected in March or April.

“Pell’s appeal to the High Court in Canberra, Australia’s supreme court, is his last legal avenue to overturn a conviction which has divided opinion in the country and internationally.”

The Full Court of the High Court has 7 members.

Responding to the news coming out of Australia, the Holy See Press Office had this to say today: “While reiterating its trust in the Australian justice system, the Holy See acknowledges the decision of Australia’s High Court to accept Card. George Pell’s request of appeal, aware that the Cardinal has always maintained his innocence. At this time, the Holy See reaffirms once again its closeness to those who have suffered because of sexual abuse on the part of members of the clergy.”

The High Court rejects about 90% of the appeals that come to it.

Following the High Court’s decision to grant leave to appeal, a spokesperson for Cardinal George Pell said: “This matter is now still before the court and so we are unable to comment.”

Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney released the following statement: “I welcome today’s decision of the High Court that it will hear the appeal of Cardinal George Pell against his conviction. The Cardinal has always maintained his innocence and continues to do so, and the divided judgment of the Court of Appeal reflects the divided opinion amongst jurors, legal commentators and within our community.

“Many questions remain, and it is appropriate that these will be examined by our highest court. For the sake of all involved in this case, I hope that the appeal will be heard as soon as possible. The Church will continue to offer pastoral support to the Cardinal while he remains in prison awaiting the hearing of this appeal, and for all others affected by today’s outcome.”

POPE FRANCIS: MARRIED COUPLES, LAITY ARE MODELS FOR THE FAITH

Pope Francis on Wednesday during his general audience focused his attention on St Paul’s journey to Corinth, and the welcome he received from husband and wife Aquila and Priscilla who, like the Apostle, were tentmakers by trade.

Christian hospitality
Continuing his catechesis on the Acts of the Apostles, the Pope highlighted this devout married couple’s Christian hospitality.

Persecution
He explained to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square that the couple had been forced to move from Rome to Corinth after the emperor Claudius had ordered the expulsion of the Jews. Dwelling on this point in off the cuff remarks, the Pontiff spoke of the suffering of Jewish people down through history. He said, they were “driven out, persecuted” and suffered many brutalities.


The Pope also underlined that the “habit of persecuting Jews is beginning “to be reborn here and there.” “The Jews are our brothers,” he said, and “they should not be persecuted.”

Returning to the theme of hospitality, the Pope noted how the house of Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth opened its doors not only to the Apostle, but also to their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Domus ecclesiae
Pope Francis described how St. Paul speaks of the “‘community that gathers in their house’ which becomes a ‘house of the Church’, a ‘domus ecclesiae’, a place of listening to the Word of God and of celebrating the Eucharist.”

Even today, he stressed, in some countries where there is no religious freedom and no freedom for Christians, Christians gather in hiding to pray and celebrate the Eucharist.

The role of laity
The Pope pointed out that “among the many collaborators of Paul, Aquila and Priscilla emerge as ‘models of a married life responsibly committed to the service of the entire Christian community’ and remind us that, thanks to the faith and commitment to the evangelization of so many lay people like them, Christianity has come down to us.”

Concluding his catechesis and quoting his predecessor Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope Francis said that, “Christianity from the beginning was preached by the laity. You too, the laity, are responsible for your Baptism to carry on the faith.”

Pope Francis also prayed for the victims of terror attacks in the West African nation of Burkina Faso and appealed for the promotion of inter-religious dialogue and harmony. Pope Francis says his thoughts are with the people of Burkina Faso that is “suffering from recurrent episodes of violence, and where a recent attack killed almost one hundred people.”

POPE FRANCIS RECEIVES ANGLICAN ARCHBISHOP WELBY

This afternoon, 13th November 2019, Pope Francis received in audience His Grace Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, accompanied by His Grace Archbishop Ian Ernest, Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome and Representative of the Anglican Communion to the Holy See.

By the Holy See Press Office

During the friendly discussions, the condition of Christians in the world was mentioned, as well as certain situations of international crisis, particularly the sorrowful situation in South Sudan.

At the end of the meeting, the Holy Father and the Archbishop of Canterbury agreed that if the political situation in the country permits the creation of a transitional government of national unity in the coming 100 days, according to the timing set by the recent agreement signed in Entebbe, Uganda, it is their intention to visit South Sudan together.

Click here for photo gallery: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-11/pope-francis-receives-archbishop-welby-at-casa-santa-marta.html

AUSTRALIAN APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS CARDINAL PELL ABUSE VERDICT

AUSTRALIAN APPEALS COURT UPHOLDS CARDINAL PELL ABUSE VERDICT

The following were released to journalists by the Holy See Press Office:

STATEMENT FROM SPOKEPERSON FOR CARDINAL GEORGE PELL

Cardinal Pell is obviously disappointed with the decision today.

However his legal team will thoroughly examine the judgement in order to determine a special leave application to the High Court.

While noting the 2-1 split decision, Cardinal Pell maintains his innocence.

We thank his many supporters.

STATEMENT FROM ARCHBISHOP MARK COLERIDGE, PRESIDENT OF THE AUSTRALIAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS CONFERENCE

The Victorian Court of Appeal has today announced that, in a 2-1 decision, Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his convictions for child sexual abuse offences has been dismissed. (cna/ewtn photo)

The Catholic Bishops of Australia believe all Australians must be equal under the law and accept today’s judgement accordingly.

Cardinal Pell’s legal team has said it will examine the judgement in order to determine a special leave application to the High Court.

The Bishops realise that this has been and remains a most difficult time for survivors of child sexual abuse and those who support them. We acknowledge the pain that those abused by clergy have experienced through the long process of the trials and appeal of Cardinal Pell. We also acknowledge that this judgement will be distressing to many people.

We remain committed to doing everything we can to bring healing to those who have suffered greatly and to ensuring that Catholic settings are the safest possible places for all people, but especially for children and vulnerable adults.

STATEMENT FROM MOST REV. ANTHONY FISHER, OP
ARCHBISHOP OF SYDNEY

The Victorian Court of Appeal has today upheld the verdict of historical sexual abuse allegations against Cardinal George Pell in a 2-1 decision.

From the outset the Cardinal has strenuously maintained his innocence. He continues to do so notwithstanding today’s decision.

Today’s split decision amongst the judges is consistent with the differing views of the juries in the first and second trials, as well as the divided opinion amongst legal commentators and the general public. Reasonable people have taken different views when presented with the same evidence and I urge everyone to maintain calm and civility.

As the Cardinal may yet decide to appeal the judgment to the High Court of Australia, I am limited in my ability to comment on today’s outcome.

Matters of the Cardinal’s status within the Church can only be determined by the Vatican, not the Church in Australia. I anticipate that the Holy See may well wait until the appeal process has been exhausted.

I recommit myself and the Archdiocese of Sydney to doing all we can to ensure that past crimes are never repeated and that Church environments are the safest possible for children and vulnerable adults.

I pray for and will continue to support survivors of child sexual abuse at the hands of clergy and other members of the Catholic Church so that they may find justice and healing. I again say how sorry I am that you were harmed by people you should have been able to trust. I am conscious how you and your loved ones have had to live with the consequences of abuse for a lifetime.

I know that there are many in the Catholic community and beyond who will find it difficult to come to terms with this judgment, especially those who know the Cardinal and will struggle to reconcile this outcome with the man they know. I thank them for persevering in faith, hope and love.

As we wait to hear whether the legal process will continue, I will seek to provide pastoral support to those Catholics who may have found their faith tested

Archbishop Peter A Comensoli’s Media Statement on Cardinal George Pell

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Today the Victorian Court of Appeal, in a 2:1 majority decision, dismissed Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his conviction for assaulting two choir boys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in late 1996 and early 1997.

I respectfully receive the Court’s decision, and I encourage everyone to do the same. That there have been two trials, and now today’s decision in the Court of Appeal, the complexity of the search for the truth in this matter has tested many, and may very well continue to do so.

My thoughts and prayers are with the man who brought this matter before the courts. I humbly acknowledge it has been a challenging time for him, and I stand ready to offer pastoral and spiritual help, should he seek it.

In Christian charity, I will ensure that Cardinal Pell is provided pastoral and spiritual support while he serves the remainder of his sentence, according to the teaching and example of Jesus to visit those in prison.

I also want to acknowledge with gratitude the people who have been involved in this case. For many, this has been a demanding and distressing experience.

To the faithful of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, I want to acknowledge the deep impact today’s decision will have for you. My prayer is that all of us might reach out to each other in faith, hope and love, as I do for you at this moment.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne continues to work with survivors to offer support for their healing, recovery and well-being. This is based upon an Archdiocesan-wide commitment to build a culture of respect and safety for all, and to reach out to those who courageously bring forward their stories.

I re-commit myself and the Archdiocese to a culture that listens, that seeks to bring justice and healing, and that protects children and vulnerable people.

Most Rev Peter A Comensoli Archbishop of Melbourne

HOLY SEE PRESS OFICE – AUGUST 21, 2019

The very first statement from Holy See Press Office after the verdict: “While reiterating its respect for the Australian judicial system, as stated on 26 February after the first instance verdict was announced, the Holy See acknowledges the court’s decision to dismiss Cardinal Pell’s appeal. As the proceedings continue to develop, the Holy See recalls that the Cardinal has always maintained his innocence throughout the judicial process and that it is his right to appeal to the High Court. At this time, together with the Church in Australia, the Holy See confirms its closeness to the victims of sexual abuse and its commitment to pursue, through the competent ecclesiastical authorities, those members of the clergy who commit such abuse.”

Journalists accredited to the Holy See Press Office were notified that this morning, Wednesday, August 21, 2019 at 9:15, press office Director Matteo Bruni will read the declaration on the outcome of the appeal process of Cardinal George Pell.

Responding to the questions received from journalists, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, has affirmed the following: “As in other cases, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is awaiting the outcome of the ongoing proceedings and the conclusion of the appellate process prior to taking up the case.

“As was stated by the Holy See Press Office on 26 February, the Holy Father had already confirmed the precautionary measures imposed on Cardinal Pell upon his return to Australia, that is, as is the norm, the prohibition from exercising public ministry and from any voluntary contact whatsoever with minors.”
*.*.*

POPE FRANCIS’ LENTEN MESSAGE CALLS FOR CONVERSION – VATICAN TO AWAIT APPEAL OF PELL GUILTY VERDICT

POPE FRANCIS’ LENTEN MESSAGE CALLS FOR CONVERSION

In his message for Lent, Pope Francis warns that once God’s law is forsaken, the law of the strong over the weak takes over.

By Linda Bordoni (vaticannews)

Pope Francis is calling on the faithful not to let the Lenten season of grace pass in vain, and to live as children of God acknowledging and obeying His law, in particular in regards to our brothers and sisters and to creation. In this year’s Lenten message, the Pope invites believers to prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed, warning that “Sin leads man to consider himself the god of creation, to see himself as its absolute master and to use it, not for the purpose willed by the Creator but for his own interests”.

The Pope’s Lenten message was released on Tuesday during a press conference at the Holy See Press Office. The theme chosen this year is “For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God” (Rom 8:19)

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, 6 March, and will conclude on Holy Saturday, 20 April, the day before Easter.

“Let us leave behind our selfishness and self-absorption, and turn to Jesus’ Pasch. Let us stand beside our brothers and sisters in need, sharing our spiritual and material goods with them”.

This is one of the key passages of Pope Francis’ Lenten Message for 2019. Reflecting on a verse from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, the Pope highlights how the season before Easter must be a time to “welcome Christ’s victory over sin and death into our lives”, and attract “its transforming power to all of creation”

Fasting, prayer, almsgiving
Appealing to the faithful to not allow this season of grace to pass in vain, Pope Francis says that if, “the Lent of the Son of God ‘was an entry into the desert of creation to make it become again that garden of communion with God” that it was before the original sin, Christians today are invited “to embody the paschal mystery more deeply and concretely in their personal, family and social lives, above all by fasting, prayer and almsgiving.”

Fasting, the Pope says, means turning away from the temptation to “devour” everything to satisfy our voracity; Prayer teaches us to abandon idolatry and the self-sufficiency of our ego; Almsgiving, whereby we escape from the insanity of hoarding everything for ourselves in the illusory belief that we can secure a future that does not belong to us.

If we follow this journey, he said it “is possible to rediscover the joy of God’s plan for creation and for each of us, which is to love him, our brothers and sisters, and the entire world, and to find in this love our true happiness”.

Conversion

The path to Easter, therefore, demands that “we renew our faces and hearts as Christians through repentance, conversion and forgiveness” the Pope said pointing out that it is a call that involves the whole of creation.

This “eager longing”, this expectation of all creation, Pope Francis says, will be fulfilled in the revelation of the children of God, that is, when Christians and all people enter decisively into the “travail” that conversion entails.

VATICAN TO AWAIT APPEAL OF PELL GUILTY VERDICT

The following statement was released this morning by the Holy See Press Office:

The Holy See agrees with the statement issued by the President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference regarding the sentence of guilt in the first instance concerning Cardinal George Pell.

This is painful news that, as we are well aware, has shocked many people, not only in Australia. As already expressed on other occasions, we have the utmost respect for the Australian judicial authorities.

Out of this respect, we await the outcome of the appeals process, recalling that Cardinal Pell maintains his innocence and has the right to defend himself until the last stage of appeal.

While awaiting the definitive judgement, we unite ourselves with the Australian bishops in praying for all victims of abuse, and reaffirm our commitment to do everything possible so that the Church might be a safe home for all, especially for children and the most vulnerable.

In order to ensure the course of justice, the Holy Father has confirmed the precautionary measures which had been imposed by the local Ordinary on Cardinal George Pell when he returned to Australia. That is, while awaiting the definitive assessment of the facts, as is the norm, Cardinal George Pell is prohibited from exercising public ministry and from having any voluntary contact whatsoever with minors.

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

 

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.

20160401_175214

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

20160401_175225

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

20160401_182932

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.

20160401_183813

20160401_183013

Numerous media representatives were present as well.

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

20160401_181712

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)

20160226_225108

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!

20160226_225644

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.

20160226_231915

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)