10TH VATICAN EMPLOYEE POSITIVE WITH COVID-19 – POPE FRANCIS ESTABLISHES THE JOHN PAUL I VATICAN FOUNDATION – JOHN PAUL I STILL RELEVANT TODAY

I am so happy to hear the news about the John Paul I Vatican Foundation. I was in Rome when he was elected and for the Mass starting his far too brief pontificate. I was in Cairo, Egypt when he died and for the election of his successor, John Paul II.   I’ve previously told that story on these pages – days and week that were unforgettable in a thousand ways!

If you want to read something totally delightful, get Albino Luciani’s “Illustrissimi,” a collection of 40 letters written over several years to people, historic and fictional, including Pinocchio, Jesus Christ, Charles Dickens, Maria Theresa of Austria, Mark Twain, G.K. Chesteron and King David

Cardinal Pietro Parolin has written a piece about John Paul I and I include that in today’s news. I especially imagine it will be relevant for those of you who may not have known John Paul I, his character and personality and his pontificate.

By the way, at his morning Mass today, Pope Francis prayed that people will prudently adhere to measures put in place for the easing of the quarantine so that the Covid-19 pandemic does not return.

I write about Italy’s Phase Two plan in a separate post.

10TH VATICAN EMPLOYEE POSITIVE WITH COVID-19

Statement by Holy See Press Office Director, Matteo Bruni: In recent days, another employee was found to be positive with Covid-19. The person had presented symptoms in March and remained in solitary confinement, continuing to work remotely. Having no symptoms, the employee is now in quarantine and the necessary health measures for the workplace have been taken as a precaution and checks have been carried out among colleagues, with negative results.

POPE FRANCIS ESTABLISHES THE JOHN PAUL I VATICAN FOUNDATION

The Vatican today published a rescript by Pope Francis, made following a February 10 audience with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, that established the institution of the John Paul I Vatican Foundation. It will have a juridic personality in both civil and canon law and an office within the Secretariat of State. The Foundation was officially established on February 17.

Born Albino Luciani in northern Italy, John Paul I was the archbishop of Venice when elected to the papacy on August 26, 1978, following the death of his predecessor, Pope Paul VI. Known as the “smiling pope,” Luciani was the first Pope in history to have a double name, selecting the names of his two predecessors John XXIII and Paul VI. He died on September 28 after a pontificate of only 33 days.

During his pontificate he was known as Pope John Paul. He became John Paul I when a second John Paul was elected on October 16, 1978.

According to a Holy See communiqué, “The purpose of the Foundation is to enhance and spread the knowledge of the thought, works and example of Pope John Paul I.” It will “protect and preserve the cultural and religious heritage left by Pope John Paul I; promote initiatives such as conferences, meetings, seminars, and study sessions; establish awards and scholarships; take care of the publishing activity by publishing both the results of its own studies and research, and works by third parties; propose itself as a reference point, in Italy and abroad, for those operating in the same area and with the same purposes (Articles of Association, art. 2).” Cardinal Parolin was named president of the John Paul I Vatican Foundation. Members include Dr. Lina Petri, a retired Holy See Press Office employee and niece of John Paul I.

JOHN PAUL I STILL RELEVANT TODAY

Pope Francis establishes a John Paul I Vatican Foundation presided over by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State.

By Cardinal Pietro Parolin

The Holy Father established the Vatican John Paul I Foundation on 17 February. This was done in response to the proposal made to create a body destined to deepen the person, thoughts and teachings of John Paul I (26 August 1978 – 28 September 1978) .

Pope John Paul I was, and remains, a point of reference in the history of the universal Church. His importance, as Saint John Paul II had pointed out, is inversely proportional to the length of his very short pontificate: “magis ostentus quam datus.

The story of Albino Luciani is one of a pastor who is close to his people, centered on the essentials of faith and with an extraordinary social sensitivity. His magisterium is contemporary: proximity, humility, simplicity, insistence on God’s mercy, love of one’s neighbour and solidarity are the salient features.

He was a bishop who lived and applied the experience of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. In his brief pontificate, he led the Church along the magisterial paths indicated by this Council: going back to the sources of the Gospel and a renewed missionary spirit, episcopal collegiality, service in ecclesial poverty, the search for Christian unity, interreligious dialogue, dialogue with the modern world and international dialogue, all conducted with perseverance and determination, in favour of justice and peace.

I think, for example, of his general audiences and his persistence on ecclesial poverty, universal brotherhood and active love for the poor. Along with the traditional precepts of the Church, he wanted to include a precept on works of solidarity, which he had proposed to the Italian bishops.

I am thinking also of the appeal he made during his Angelus of 10 September 1978 in which he asked for peace in the Middle East and addressed his prayer invitation to Presidents of different faiths. He had already made this appeal in his speech to the Diplomatic Corps on 31 August, during which he freed himself from presumptions of geopolitical protagonism and defined the nature and peculiarity of the diplomatic action of the Holy See from a viewpoint of faith.

Receiving then the more than one hundred representatives of the international missions present at the inauguration of his pontificate, he stressed how “our heart is open to all peoples, all cultures and all races.” He then affirmed: “We certainly do not have miraculous solutions to the world’s great problems, but we can nevertheless give something very precious: a spirit that helps to solve these problems and places them in the essential dimension, that of openness to the values of universal charity… so that the Church, humble messenger of the Gospel to all the peoples of the earth, can contribute to creating a climate of justice, brotherhood, solidarity and hope without which the world cannot live”.

And so, following in the footsteps of the Council’s Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, and in so many messages of Saint Paul VI, he acted in the wake of the great diplomacy that has given so many fruits to the Church, by nourishing Her with charity.

This history of the Church, dedicated to serving the world, was not interrupted with his sudden death. The perspective marked by his brief pontificate was not a side note. Although John Paul I’s governance of the Church could not unfold in time, he helped – explevit tempora multa – to strengthen the design of a Church that is close to the pain of the people and their thirst for charity.

Through John Paul I’s cause for canonisation, numerous sources have been accumulated today, beginning an important work of research and elaboration from a historical and historiographical perspective. It is now possible, therefore, to bequeath the memory of Pope Luciani, so that its historical value can be fully restored within the historical period. It can now be examined with the analytical rigor that is due to him and may open up new perspectives of study on his work.

In this regard, the establishment of a new ad hoc Foundation can rightfully fulfil the task not only of protecting the entire patrimony of the writings and works of John Paul I, but also of encouraging the systematic study and diffusion of his thought and spirituality – all the more motivated by the consideration of how his person and his message are extraordinarily relevant.

STATEMENTS FROM THE VATICAN – POPE PRAYS FOR HOMELESS AND THOSE WHO SUFFER OUT OF SIGHT

STATEMENTS FROM THE VATICAN

FROM HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE DIRECTOR MATTEO BRUNI:
In addition to the six reported cases, the positivity of an additional Holy See employee, already in isolation since mid-March because of his wife who had tested positive at Covid-19 after serving in the Italian hospital where she works, was added. On this occasion it is useful to clarify that, like all institutional realities, the various entities and departments of the Holy See and of the Vatican City State continue only in essential, mandatory and non-deferrable activities, clearly adopting, to the maximum extent possible, the appropriate measures that have already been communicated, which include remote work and criteria regarding duty shifts, in order to safeguard staff health.

FROM CARDINAL SECRETARY OF STATE PIETRO PAROLIN:
The Holy Father Francis, in the audience granted to His Excellency Msgr. Edgar Peña Parra, substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State on March 31, 2020, agreed to extend the term and the legal effects referred to in the previous Rescriptum ex audientia SS.mi dated March 18, 2020 containing extraordinary and urgent measures to counter the epidemiological emergency from Covid-19 and to contain the negative effects on the conduct of the judicial activity. This term, initially set for April 3, 2020, is extended to May 4, 2020. The Holy Father has ordered that this rescript be promulgated by publication in L’Osservatore Romano, coming into force immediately, and then published in the official commentary of the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

POPE PRAYS FOR HOMELESS AND THOSE WHO SUFFER OUT OF SIGHT

During morning Mass on Thursday, Pope Francis turned his thoughts to those who are living this time of sorrow and fear, hidden in the cracks of society. (playback included – see link below)
By Vatican News

In his opening words at Mass at the Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis said, “these days of sorrow and sadness highlight so many hidden problems.”

He mentioned a photograph featured in a daily paper that, he said, touches the heart: “So many homeless people in a city, huddling in a parking lot… there are so many homeless people today.” (photo: Las Vegas Review)

He invited the faithful to ask St. Teresa of Calcutta to awaken in us a sense of closeness to those who live, hidden, in the cracks of society, like the homeless whose plight is particularly evident in this moment of crisis.

We have been chosen by God
In his homily, the Pope explained that Christians must be conscious of having been chosen by God, joyful as they tread the path of salvation, and faithful to the Covenant.

Commenting on the readings of the Day, from the Book of Genesis and from the Gospel according to John, the Pope noted they both focus on the figure of Abraham, on the Covenant with God and on how Jesus comes to “remake” creation by forgiving our sins.

(TO CONTINUE: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope-francis/mass-casa-santa-marta/2020-04/pope-mass-casa-santa-marta-homeless-homily.html)

VATICAN FINANCES: ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY – CARDINAL PAROLIN SAYS HE ARRANGED CONTROVERSIAL HOSPITAL LOAN, PAPAL FOUNDATION GRANT

Pope Francis today started his first full day of activities on his visit to Thailand, the first of two nations he will visit between now and November 26. I have posted a separate column on that journey.

VATICAN FINANCES: ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY

I also posted this today on Facebook and Twitter: A cogent and easy to read piece that goes to the heart of the matter: https://religionnews.com/2019/11/20/four-powers-the-pope-needs-to-grant-the-new-chief-of-vatican-finances/
And the Wall Street Journal posted this:

VATICAN LOSES ACCESS TO INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL WATCHDOG INFORMATION – The Egmont Group, a network of financial intelligence units, has suspended the Vatican watchdog from accessing its secure web system – by Francis X. Rocca

ROME -An international network of financial watchdogs has suspended the Vatican’s access to its information, dealing a major blow to the Vatican’s financial credibility under Pope Francis. The Egmont Group, a Toronto-based network of more than 160 national financial intelligence units around the world, has decided to suspend the Vatican watchdog from access to its secure web system, through which members share information about money laundering, financing of terrorism, tax fraud and other financial crimes….” (https://www.wsj.com/articles/vatican-loses-access-to-international-financial-watchdog-information-11574199689)

CARDINAL PAROLIN SAYS HE ARRANGED CONTROVERSIAL HOSPITAL LOAN, PAPAL FOUNDATION GRANT

Vatican City, Nov 20, 2019 / 10:26 am (CNA) – The Vatican Secretary of State told CNA this week that he is responsible for arranging a controversial loan for the purchase of a bankrupt Italian hospital, and that he arranged with Cardinal Donald Wuerl a grant from the U.S.-based Papal Foundation to cover the loan when it could not be repaid.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin told CNA he felt “compelled” to address the matter “in order to put an end to a controversy that takes away time and resources from our service to the Lord, to the Church and to the Pope, and disturbs the conscience of many Catholics.”

“The operations involving IDI…are ascribable to myself,” Parolin told CNA Nov. 19, while insisting that his actions regarding the IDI were both legal and transparent.

CNA asked Parolin to confirm that he personally had arranged a 2014 loan of 50 million euros from APSA, the Vatican’s central bank, to partially fund the purchase of the bankrupt IDI hospital. The cardinal confirmed that he had.

The IDI was purchased in 2015 by a for-profit partnership of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and the religious order that had owned and managed the hospital while it went bankrupt, incurred 800 million euros of debt, and saw some of its former administrators prosecuted and jailed for systematic fraud and embezzlement.

Though Parolin said the arrangement was “carried out with fair intentions and honest means,” the APSA loan is likely to draw scrutiny from European banking regulators, as the loan seems to violate 2012 regulatory agreements prohibiting the bank from making commercial loans.

Those agreements were the result of an on-site inspection by Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s Committee for combating money laundering and terrorist financing, and legally prohibit APSA from providing services to individuals or taking part in commercial transactions.

CNA also asked Parolin to confirm that he had personally devised a plan with Wuerl to request Papal Foundation funds to cover APSA’s bad loan. The cardinal confirmed that he had.

The $25 million grant request was widely understood to be an effort to remove the bad debt from APSA’s ledger before it drew attention, after it became obvious that the debt-ridden and insolvent hospital could not repay its loan to the Vatican central bank.

Wuerl, however, told the Papal Foundation board that the funds were intended to save the IDI from closure by covering short term operating deficits. But lay board members raised questions about whether the cash was really intended to meet an operating shortfall at the hospital, or to cover the bad debt at APSA.

Papal Foundation trustees and donors expressed also skepticism about the amount requested, which was far larger than its normal disbursements, which ordinarily are grants of a few hundred thousand dollars to charities around the world, selected by the Holy See.

After one board member objected to the loan by letter, former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was then a member of the board, wrote that raising concerns was “irresponsible, and seriously harmful to The Papal Foundation.”

McCarrick was under investigation for sexually abusing minors at the time he intervened in the matter.

Despite objections, the grant was ultimately approved by the Papal Foundation board in a secret ballot – sources inside the foundation told CNA that board members believe all but one of the bishop members voted for it, while all but one of the lay members voted against approving the grant.

Dispersal of the money stalled after the board continued to ask questions about the final destination of the funds.

Two initial installments were sent to Rome in late 2017 and early 2018, totaling $13 million. After internal disagreements about the grant went public, Cardinal Wuerl said he would ask the Vatican to cancel the request and return the funds. In early 2019 Parolin wrote to the board saying the $13 million would be reclassified as a loan, rather than a grant, and would be repaid as credits against future grant requests.

When the grant money stalled, APSA was forced to write off 30 million of the 50 million euro loan, wiping out APSA’s profits for the 2018 financial year.

Bishop Nunzio Galantino, head of APSA, acknowledged the loan and its write-off in September, even though APSA is legally prohibited from making loans that finance commercial transactions, due to its 2012 moneyval agreement.

After the Oct. 21 publication of a book that alleged the Vatican was nearly insolvent, Galatino blamed the loan for APSA’s failure to register a profit for the first time in its history.

Parolin answered CNA’s questions this week after Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who has widely been reported to have been the driving force behind both arranging the loan and pushing for the Papal Foundation grant, contacted CNA to deny his involvement in those matters. He told CNA that both matters were the “competence” of the Secretary of State, Parolin.

Becciu told CNA by text message earlier this month that he had not known about the APSA loan until after it was arranged, and that he had no part in requesting a grant from the Papal Foundation.

The 2014 APSA loan was arranged over the strong objections of Cardinal George Pell, then serving as the Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy and charged by Pope Francis with enforcing financial accountability on the Roman Curia. CNA has also reported a loan request for the same purpose had been vetoed by the IOR, the Vatican’s deposit bank, after its president, Jean-Baptiste Douville de Franssu, and Pell agreed that the IDI was unviable and the money would never be repaid.

While Parolin took responsibility for the IDI arrangements, Vatican officials across several dicasteries have told CNA Becciu was involved in organizing both the loan and coordinating the lobbying effort for the Papal Foundation grant. That effort included a visit to McCarrick by the secretary of APSA, Fr. Mauro Rivella, in Washington, DC, shortly after the grant request was made. The visit took place before McCarrick pushed board members to approve the grant, and after an investigation into McCarrick’s sexual misconduct had begun.

Still, Parolin insisted that “as far as I know, Cardinal Becciu had no role whatsoever in” those matters.

Nevertheless, Becciu’s personal connections to the IDI hospital go back at least as far as his appointment to the position of sostituto in 2011.

Shortly after Becciu began working as the second-ranking official in the Secretariat of State, Fr. Franco Decaminada, the IDI’s president – subsequently arrested, prosecuted, imprisoned, and laicised for theft and fraud – approached him for support on a proposal that the Secretariat of State supply the IDI with 200 million euros, ostensibly to fund a take over of another hospital by the IDI, which was already teetering on insolvency.

In October, Becciu told CNA he did not recall any such proposal, though it had been reported previously in Italian media. Shortly after that proposal was made, Decaminada hired Becciu’s niece Maria Piera Becciu, as his personal secretary.

In October, CNA asked Becciu if he or his position at the Secretariat of State had played any role in the hiring of his niece at the IDI. He told CNA that, “she applied for the position and was hired.”

Last month, Becciu told CNA that his interest and involvement with the IDI ceased when Cardinal Parolin was appointed Secretary of State.

“Cardinal Parolin assumed the office of Secretary of State [in 2013] and I no longer concerned myself with IDI,” he said.

While taking responsibility for the APSA loan and the Papal Foundation request, Parolin told CNA that the interpretation of those events “by certain media is a different matter, presenting these operations as non-transparent, irregular or even illegal: this, as far as I am concerned, is not the truth.”

But beyond the APSA loan and Papal Foundation grant, other aspects of the IDI purchase have raised serious questions.

In addition to the APSA loan, the Vatican also used 30 million euros diverted from the Bambino Gesu, another hospital under its oversight, to purchase the bankrupt IDI. That money was taken from an 80 million euro grant the Italian government had given the Bambino Gesu.

Cardinal Guisseppe Versaldi arranged that diversion. At the time, Versaldi led the partnership to buy the IDI, oversaw the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See and was the Vatican’s delegate to oversee the Italian province of the Sons of the Immaculate Conception, the religious congregation that had owned the hospital, had a partnership with the Vatican to buy it again, and had also been dragged into insolvency.

Wiretaps recorded Versaldi discussing the plan with Giuseppe Profiti, the president of Bambino Gesu, with the two agreeing to conceal the misdirection of the funds from Pope Francis.

Versaldi and Profiti later denied any wrongdoing, and the cardinal claimed he only wanted to spare the pope the technical details of the efforts to save the IDI.

In his comments to CNA Parolin also addressed a lament from Becciu, who told CNA this month that while he is uncertain which Vatican officials have suggested he is connected to the IDI affair, he believes he could be the victim of a misinformation campaign, designed to sully his reputation by linking him to the affair.

Parolin does not think that to be the case.

“I believe there is no curial plot. In any case, I am completely extraneous to any operation of the kind: if there were such an operation I would condemn it in the strongest possible terms,” Parolin told CNA.

A spokesman for Wuerl told CNA that the cardinal “has no comment beyond reiterating those facts already on the public record regarding the Papal Foundation application process.”

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

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

CARDINAL DELIVERS PAPAL LETTER TO PRESIDENT AL-ASSAD OF SYRIA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Francesca Merlo (vaticannews)

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

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

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

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

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

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

WORK STARTS ON BONE OSSUAIRIES FOUND IN TEUTONIC CEMETERY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CARDINAL PAROLIN: “THE POPE SEES CHINA AS A GREAT COUNTRY”

CARDINAL PAROLIN: “THE POPE SEES CHINA AS A GREAT COUNTRY”

In an unprecedented interview with an English-language Chinese newspaper – the Global Times – a sub-publication of the People’s Daily, the Vatican Secretary of State talks of positive developments in diplomatic relations between China and the Holy See, and of the mutual will to face and resolve problematic issues and questions.

By Linda Bordoni (vaticannews)

In a long Q&A conducted by an Italian correspondent for the Chinese publication, Parolin spoke of progress in the Provisional Agreement between China and the Holy See, he recalled some salient memories of his negotiations with Chinese representatives and he offered his perspective on China’s sinicization of religions, the process whereby non-Chinese societies come under the influence of Chinese culture.

Inevitable criticism
Having reiterated the will, on both sides, to look for practical solutions which concern the lives of real people who desire to practice their faith peacefully and offer a positive contribution to their own country, the Cardinal noted that there should not be a surprise if there is criticism, which can arise either in the Church or in China or from elsewhere, of an opening which can appear unprecedented after such a long period of confrontation.

Indeed, Parolin added, “it seems to me human and Christian to show understanding, attention and respect for those who express such criticism.”

The Cardinal acknowledged that not all problems have been resolved, and said that many questions still need to be addressed, adding that we are facing them with “willingness and determination.”

Sinicization and Inculturation
Regarding China’s sinicization of religions, Parolin said “Inculturation is an essential condition for a sound proclamation of the Gospel which, in order to bear fruit, requires, on the one hand, safeguarding its authentic purity and integrity and, on the other, presenting it according to the particular experience of each people and culture.”

He said that, “in the future it will certainly be important to deepen this theme, especially the relationship between ‘inculturation’ and ‘sinicization,’ keeping in mind how the Chinese leadership has been able to reiterate its willingness not to undermine the nature and the doctrine of each religion.”

Parolin went on to explain that, “These two terms, ‘inculturation’ and ‘sinicization,’ refer to each other without confusion and without opposition: in some ways, they can be complementary and can open avenues for dialogue on the religious and cultural level.”

Personal memories
Regarding his own memories and experience in dealing with Chinese representatives for many years, the Vatican Secretary of State recalled numerous hiccups, concerns and fears that inevitably have arisen throughout the process, but said the will to move forward prevailed on both sides.

He said that particularly important in creating a favorable atmosphere during negotiations, were the many moments of familiarity and friendship that arose, allowing the parties “to share the humanity that unites us beyond the differences that exist between us.”

Pope Francis
Cardinal Parolin concluded with an appeal from the Pope to Chinese Catholics “to undertake with courage the path of unity, reconciliation and a renewed proclamation of the Gospel.”

“He sees China not only as a great country but also as a great culture, rich in history and wisdom,” he said, reiterating the Holy See’s hope that “China will not be afraid to enter into dialogue with the wider world.”

“In the words of Pope Francis,” he said, “we would say that only by being united can we overcome the globalization of indifference, working as creative artisans of peace and resolute promoters of fraternity.”

For full interview in the Global Times: http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1149623.shtml

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS CATHOLIC EXTENSION – PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR LOSS OF LIFE IN NEPAL – APRIL PRAYER INTENTION FOR MEDICAL PERSONNEL IN CONFLICT ZONES – CARDINAL PAROLIN MEETS PEOPLE WORKING AGAINST CRIMINALIZATION OF HOMOSEXUALITY

In his only appointment for the day, Pope Francis this morning attended the 4th Lenten sermon given by preacher of the papal household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa.

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS CATHOLIC EXTENSION

Tune in to Vatican Insider on this first weekend of April when my guest in the interview segment is Joe Boland, Vice President of Mission at Chicago-based Catholic Extension. In a nutshell, Catholic Extension’s mission is to provide funding to help the Catholic Church grow in poor mission dioceses by investing in people, infrastructures and ministries. It is a wonderful, vibrant organization and I learned a lot – as you will! – when I spoke with Joe.

As I learned on its website, in 1907, Catholic Extension received its first papal approval by an Apostolic Letter of Pope Pius X. In 1910, the Pope raised Catholic Extension to the dignity of a canonical institution directly under his own guidance and protection. As a Papal Society, Catholic Extension’s president is appointed by the Pope himself. The current president is a native Chicagoan, Fr. Jack Wall. He was named in 2007 by Pope Benedict, (www.catholicextension.org)

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR LOSS OF LIFE IN NEPAL

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, secretary of State, sent the following telegram of condolences in Pope Francis’ name to Bishop Paul Simick of the Vicariate of Nepal: “Upon learning the sad news of the tragic loss of life and the destruction of homes caused by the recent storm in southern Nepal, His Holiness Pope Francis wishes to express his solidarity with all affected by this disaster and assures those grieving for deceased and injured family members of his prayers at this difficult time. His Holiness prays especially for the victims and encourages the emergency personnel as they continue to aid those in need. Upon all the people of Nepal Pope Francis invokes the divine blessings of consolation, healing and strength.”

APRIL PRAYER INTENTION FOR MEDICAL PERSONNEL IN CONFLICT ZONES

The Vatican has released Pope Francis’ video message with his prayer intention for April which is for doctors and their humanitarian collaborators in conflict zones.

Following is the English translation of his April video message: “The presence of doctors, nurses, and other health care workers in war-torn areas is a sign of hope. They are wise, valiant, and good-hearted people who, following their vocation, work under extremely dangerous conditions. Let us pray for doctors and their humanitarian collaborators in war-torn areas, who risk their lives to save the lives of others.”

April’s video (click here: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-04/pope-francis-prayer-intention-april-2019.html#play) is prepared by the Worldwide Prayer Network of the Apostleship of Prayer.

CARDINAL PAROLIN MEETS PEOPLE WORKING AGAINST CRIMINALIZATION OF HOMOSEXUALITY

Responding to questions from journalists, interim director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, stated on Friday: “Today in the Vatican, Cardinal Pietro Parolin received a group of approximately 50 persons working in various ways against the criminalization of homosexuality. During the meeting, research on the criminalization of homosexual relationships in the Caribbean was presented to the Vatican Secretary of State.

“Cardinal Parolin extended a brief greeting to those present, repeating the Catholic Church’s position in defense of the dignity of every human person and against every form of violence. After having listened to the presentations of some of the participants at the meeting, Cardinal Parolin then assured that he would inform the Holy Father of the contents of the research.”

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS CATHOLIC EXTENSION – PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR LOSS OF LIFE IN NEPAL – APRIL PRAYER INTENTION FOR MEDICAL PERSONNEL IN CONFLICT ZONES – CARDINAL PAROLIN MEETS PEOPLE WORKING AGAINST CRIMINALIZATION OF HOMOSEXUALITY

In his only appointment for the day, Pope Francis this morning attended the 4th Lenten sermon given by preacher of the papal household, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa.

VATICAN INSIDER VISITS CATHOLIC EXTENSION

Tune in to Vatican Insider on this first weekend of April when my guest in the interview segment is Joe Boland, Vice President of Mission at Chicago-based Catholic Extension. In a nutshell, Catholic Extension’s mission is to provide funding to help the Catholic Church grow in poor mission dioceses by investing in people, infrastructures and ministries. It is a wonderful, vibrant organization and I learned a lot – as you will! – when I spoke with Joe.

As I learned on its website, in 1907, Catholic Extension received its first papal approval by an Apostolic Letter of Pope Pius X. In 1910, the Pope raised Catholic Extension to the dignity of a canonical institution directly under his own guidance and protection. As a Papal Society, Catholic Extension’s president is appointed by the Pope himself. The current president is a native Chicagoan, Fr. Jack Wall. He was named in 2007 by Pope Benedict, (www.catholicextension.org)

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. 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.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

PAPAL TELEGRAM FOR LOSS OF LIFE IN NEPAL

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, secretary of State, sent the following telegram of condolences in Pope Francis’ name to Bishop Paul Simick of the Vicariate of Nepal: “Upon learning the sad news of the tragic loss of life and the destruction of homes caused by the recent storm in southern Nepal, His Holiness Pope Francis wishes to express his solidarity with all affected by this disaster and assures those grieving for deceased and injured family members of his prayers at this difficult time. His Holiness prays especially for the victims and encourages the emergency personnel as they continue to aid those in need. Upon all the people of Nepal Pope Francis invokes the divine blessings of consolation, healing and strength.”

APRIL PRAYER INTENTION FOR MEDICAL PERSONNEL IN CONFLICT ZONES

The Vatican has released Pope Francis’ video message with his prayer intention for April which is for doctors and their humanitarian collaborators in conflict zones.

The Holy Father calls on the faithful to pray for doctors and their humanitarian collaborators in war-torn areas as they risk their lives to save the lives of others.

Following is the English translation of his April video message: “The presence of doctors, nurses, and other health care workers in war-torn areas is a sign of hope. They are wise, valiant, and good-hearted people who, following their vocation, work under extremely dangerous conditions. Let us pray for doctors and their humanitarian collaborators in war-torn areas, who risk their lives to save the lives of others.”

April’s video (click here: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-04/pope-francis-prayer-intention-april-2019.html#play) is prepared by the Worldwide Prayer Network of the Apostleship of Prayer.

CARDINAL PAROLIN MEETS PEOPLE WORKING AGAINST CRIMINALIZATION OF HOMOSEXUALITY

Responding to questions from journalists, interim director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, stated on Friday: “Today in the Vatican, Cardinal Pietro Parolin received a group of approximately 50 persons working in various ways against the criminalization of homosexuality. During the meeting, research on the criminalization of homosexual relationships in the Caribbean was presented to the Vatican Secretary of State.

“Cardinal Parolin extended a brief greeting to those present, repeating the Catholic Church’s position in defense of the dignity of every human person and against every form of violence. After having listened to the presentations of some of the participants at the meeting, Cardinal Parolin then assured that he would inform the Holy Father of the contents of the research.”