PAPAL SCHEDULE FOR LAST WEEK IN JUNE – VATICAN STATEMENT ON MISSING CHINESE BISHOP

PAPAL SCHEDULE FOR LAST WEEK IN JUNE

MONDAY morning was Pope Francis’ last Mass in the chapel of the anta Marta Residence before his summer break. Masses will resume in September after the Pope’s trip to Colombia scheduled for September 6 to 11.

TUESDAY at 8 am in the Pauline Chapel. Pope Francis will concelebrate Mass with the cardinals present in Rome on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his Episcopal ordination.  At 9:30 he will meet with a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople as it visits Rome for the June 29th feast of St. Peter and Paul, Apostles. At 10 am he is scheduled to meet with Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.

WEDNESDAY at 9 am in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father will meet with a delegation of about 1,000 members of the Confederation of Italian Labor Unions. At 10 in St. Peter’s Square he will preside at the final general audience before the summer break. Audiences will resume August 2.

At 4 pm Wednesday in St. Peter’s Basilica, the Pope will preside at an ordinary public consistory for the creation of five new cardinals. From 6 to 8 pm that day, courtesy visits to the new cardinals will take place in the Paul VI Hall.

THURSDAY, June 29, feast of St. Peter and Paul, Apostles, patron saints of Rome, is a holiday in both the Vatican and Rome. At 9:30 am in St. Peter’s Square, Mass with the rite of the blessings of palliums for the new metropolitan archbishops. The 5 new cardinals will be present, as will members of the College of Cardinals, bishops and priests. Pope Francis will recite the Angelus at noon.

FRIDAY, the Pope will have a series of private audiences in the morning and at 12:30, in the Clementine Hall welcome 200 members of the Italo-Latin American International Organization

VATICAN STATEMENT ON MISSING CHINESE BISHOP

From Holy See Press Office Director Greg Burke:

In response to questions from journalists regarding the case of Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou (Continental China), I can state the following:

The Holy See is observing with grave concern the personal situation of Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou, forcibly removed from his episcopal see some time ago.

The diocesan Catholic community and his relatives have no news or reasons for his removal, nor do they know where he is being held. In this respect, the Holy See, profoundly saddened for this and other similar episodes that unfortunately do not facilitate ways of understanding, expresses the hope that Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin may return as soon as possible to the diocese and that he can be assured the possibility of serenely exercising his episcopal ministry. We are all invited to pray for Bishop Shao Zhumin and for the path of the Catholic Church in China.

A recent chronology by AsiaNews:

June 8:

The bishop disappeared after being called for a meeting with the Office for Religious Affairs. Bishop Shao is recognized by the Vatican, but not by the government. The bishop’s mother, 90, asks to be able to see her son. Catholics in Wenzhou ask for prayers for their shepherd, so he may be “strong” in faith and witness. In the past some underground bishops were killed while in police hands.

Wenzhou (AsiaNews) – There is still no news of Msgr. Peter Shao Zhumin, bishop of Wenzhou (Zhejiang). The diocese’s faithful are very concerned, and with them also the bishop’s mother, a 90-year-old woman who has already asked several times to see her son. Msgr. Shao, 54, disappeared last May 18, after being invited at 9 am to the office for religious affairs in the city. His whereabouts remain unknown.

On May 22, he made a request to his co-workers to have wine for the celebration of Mass, but since then nothing has been heard. Priests and faithful say they do not know where he is and the authorities will tell them nothing.

A message sent to AsiaNews by a member of the faithful asks for “prayers to God to guide him to have a strong faith and a clear witness.” Msgr. Shao had been kidnapped already in April, a few days ahead of Easter, perhaps to prevent him from commemorating the rites of Holy Week with the faithful and his priests. Bishop Shao is a member of the underground community and as a bishop is not recognized by the government. The Holy See, however, confirmed him as ordinary bishop of the diocese, after the death of his predecessor, Msgr. Vincenzo Zhu Weifang, on September 7th. It is most likely that his forced disappearance aims to persuade the prelate to enroll in the Patriotic Association (PA), the party body that wants to build an independent Church, which is “inconsistent with Catholic doctrine “as Benedict XVI affirms in his 2007 Letter to Chinese Catholics, a position confirmed by Pope Francis.

June 19:

Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou, a bishop not recognised by the overnment, is missing again. The bishop apparently arrived at Wenzhou airport, but did not go home.  Government officials took him to an unknown place. His priests did not see him at home. According to the latest figures, Wenzhou Catholics number 130,000.

Wenzhou (AsiaNews) – Msgr. Peter Shao Zhumin, ordinary bishop of Wenzhou, is still in the hands of the police held at an unknown location. A report AsiaNews received two days ago was only partially right.

Three days ago, the bishop was seen at Wenzhou Airport waiting for luggage. A Catholic who was there by chance took a photo of him.

This led some Catholics to believe that the bishop had finally been brought back to his city.  However, a day later, some priests in the diocese noted that the bishop had not been seen at his home.

When he was getting his luggage at the airport, the prelate was accompanied by government officers, perhaps plain-clothes police, who drove him in a Volkswagen, not home, but to an unknown location.

Bishop Shao, 54, belongs to Wenzhou’s unofficial Catholic community, which is not recognised by the government. He is the ordinary bishop of the local diocese. He was taken on 18 May by police and was held for almost a month until he was seen at the airport.

It is thought that his absence, like previous disappearances, was part of an attempt to persuade him to join the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association so that he can be under its control. For the latter, “underground” bishops are regarded as “unreliable”.

June 26:

The last 10 years of the Church in China: from the Letter of Benedict XVI to the silence on the arrest of Msgr. Shao Zhumin – by Joseph

The silence on the persecution of Chinese Catholics and their bishops in Wenzhou and Shanghai. The organisms that Benedict XVI did not accept (Patriotic Association and Chinese Bishops’ Conference) because “incompatible with Catholic doctrine” now govern the Church. Dialogue between China and the Vatican must address the issue of underground bishops out in the open and not under the shroud of secrecy. An analysis from a northeast Chinese Catholic, as the Vatican celebrates a new round of China-Holy See talks.

http://www.asianews.it/news-en/The-last-10-years-of-the-Church-in-China:-from-the-Letter-of-Benedict-XVI-to-the-silence-on-the-arrest-of-Msgr.-Shao-Zhumin-41118.html

VATICAN ON ALLEGED UNAUTHORIZED EPISCOPAL ORDINATIONS IN CHINA – THE SITUATION OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN CHINA EXPLAINED

VATICAN ON ALLEGED UNAUTHORIZED EPISCOPAL ORDINATIONS IN CHINA

(Vatican Radio) The director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, has clarified the Vatican has not authorized any episcopal ordinations in continental China.

“Should such episcopal ordinations have occurred, they would constitute a grave violation of canonical norms,” Burke said in a statement.

He reiterated “it is not licit to proceed with any episcopal ordination without the necessary papal mandate, even by appealing to particular personal beliefs.”

The declaration of the director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, concerning the  purported episcopal ordinations without the Pontifical Mandate in Continental China:

“In recent weeks, there has been a series of reports regarding some episcopal ordinations conferred without papal mandate of priests of the unofficial community of the Catholic Church in continental China.  The Holy See has not authorized any ordination, nor has it been officially informed of such  events. Should such episcopal ordinations have occurred, they would constitute a grave violation  of canonical norms. The Holy See hopes that such reports are baseless. If not, it will have to await reliable information and sure documentation before adequately evaluating the cases. However, it is reiterated that it is not licit to proceed with any episcopal ordination without the necessary papal mandate, even by appealing to particular personal beliefs”.

THE SITUATION OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN CHINA EXPLAINED

By Rome Reports, with Fr. Bernardo Cervellera, Editor, AsiaNews

The communist regime in China considers Rome and the pope as foreign influences in their country, that might promote dissent from the government.

That is why the Chinese government created the Catholic Patriotic Association in 1957, an official body to name, coordinate and manage all Catholic bishops in China.

Many of those bishops, considering that the CPA does not follow Christian teachings and interferes in their allegiance to Rome, refuse to recognize its authority. They constitute the “unofficial Church.”

Fr. Bernardo Cervellera, a long-time missionary in China, claims however, that there is one Church in China.

BERNARDO CERVELLERA, director, AsiaNews

“No, one cannot say that there are two churches in China. In fact, there is an official Church, in which all of the bishops, except eight, are in communion with the pope. In the “unofficial Church” there are around 40 bishops that pledge allegiance to the pope.”

The challenge for Vatican diplomats is to convince the Chinese government to soften the anti-Vatican agenda of the Catholic Patriotic Association, so that the Church loyal to Rome might be able to operate freely.

However, if the government concedes this, they might ask for something in exchange, and will most likely be that the Vatican recognize eight bishops who have been excommunicated but are still active and are members of the CPA.

Fr. Bernardo Cervellera thinks this is the main obstacle in the way towards full communion between China and the Vatican.

“I do not think that the Church can accept embracing the excommunicated bishops all at once, because amongst them there are bishops who have a wife and children. There are bishops who refuse to ask for reconciliation. There has to be a screening, one by one, to see if it is possible to bring them into communion. I think it will be difficult…”

Fr. Bernardo Cervellera thinks that cozying up to the CPA is a red line for Parolin and the Vatican diplomatic corps, that is why he thinks a possible agreement between the Vatican and Beijing might go along the lines of improving religious freedom for the underground Church and ending persecution.

“The Holy See is seeking an agreement that does not threaten Catholic doctrine, while at the same time protects the underground bishops and pushes for the release of those imprisoned. This makes me think that Cardinal Parolin does not want to ‘sell’ the Catholic faith and imprison it in the hands of the Catholic Patriotic Association, but rather he wants to cooperate with the government to improve religious freedom for the Church.”

Recently, there was a small but significant gesture that could be a good omen for relations between the Vatican and China. Pope Francis spoke about it in his return flight from Azerbaijan.

POPE FRANCIS:For example, there was two-day conference, in the Academy for Science, about Laudato si’, and there was a Chinese delegation there, and the Chinese president sent me a present… The relationship is good…”

The gift the pope is talking about is a replica of the Nestorian Stele, a symbol for Christianity in China. In Chinese culture, a present is a message, and this one seems loud and clear.

 

POPE WRITES LETTER TO ITALIAN PRISONERS – HONG KONG, CHRISTIANS PROTEST AGAINST DEMOLITION OF CROSSES

POPE FRANCIS TWEETED TODAY: All are called to love and cherish family life, for families are not a problem; they are first and foremost an opportunity.

Today, April 25, is Toot Your Own Horn Day! (If it isn’t, it should be!) – so that’s what I’ll do!

I leave Thursday for the U.S. for what promises to be an amazing two weeks! I’ll be very briefly in Fox Point, Wisconsin for the First Communion of my great-nephew Emory, after which I fly to New York on May 2 where I will spend a week doing book promotions and signings, a bit of television and some radio (for starters). I’ll fly to Washington, D.C. on May 9, doing pretty much of the same, but including some very special events!

I have a feeling this is not the first time you’ve heard of my book – but just in case…!  Here are some reviews of my book, “A Holy Year in Rome, The Complete Pilgrim’s Guide to the Jubilee of Mercy” (I may have posted the Vatican Radio story previously). The second review was written by Monica Knudsen, one of my former French students with whom I had a reunion in Rome (and about which I wrote in early March)!

As I travel, I’ll keep you posted daily on events, offer some photos, etc – will do what I can to keep you informed about any breaking news in Rome. In particular, for those of you who live in or near NCY and DC, I’ll let you know where we can meet – and I’ll sign your book!

http://catholicnewslive.com/story/573760

http://www.archokc.org/news/6602-review-a-holy-year-in-rome

https://www.catholiccompany.com/a-holy-year-in-rome-and-the-holy-year-of-mercy-a-faith-sharing-guide-2-book-set-i119501/

http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2016/03/21/joan%E2%80%99s_vatican_and_rome_for_jubilee_year_of_mercy/1216928

And now some news from Pope Francis in Rome and from the Church in China.

POPE WRITES LETTER TO ITALIAN PRISONERS

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a letter to prisoners detained in a prison in the Italian city of Velletri, a short distance from Rome.

Prisoners at the facility had written to the Holy Father earlier this year, entrusting their letter to Bishop Marcello Semeraro, the Bishop of Albano, during a pastoral visit to the facility. In his response, Pope Francis thanked the detainees for thinking of him, and assured them that they, and others in similar situations, were often in his thoughts as well. He noted that during his Apostolic Voyages, he always tries to make a visit to local prisons. (photo from a previous prison visit)

POPE FRANCIS PRISONERS

The Pope noted that during the Holy Year of Mercy, there will also be a jubilee for prisoners, and he assured them that on that day he would be “in communion” with all prisoners “spiritually and in reciprocal prayer.”

Pope Francis also expressed his sympathy, noting that prisoners “are living an experience in which time seems both to be stopped, and to never end.” But, he said, “the true measure of time is not that of the clock”; rather, “the true measure of time is called hope.” He expressed his desire that all those incarcerated might “always keep lit the light of the hope of faith to illuminate” their lives.

“Always be certain that God loves you personally,” the Pope wrote to the prisoners. He encouraged them to never allow themselves to be closed in by their past, but rather to transform the past “into a journey of growth, of faith and charity.” He called on them to “give God the possibility” of making them “to shine” through their experience, recalling that many saints throughout history “have achieved sanctity” in harsh and difficult situations. “With Christ,” he said, “all this is possible.”

HONG KONG, CHRISTIANS PROTEST AGAINST DEMOLITION OF CROSSES

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – A group of dozens of Christians led by Cardinal Joseph Zen has asked the Chinese government to stop demolishing crosses on mainland China and to release religious leaders from jail. The retired bishop of Hong Kong pointed out that freedom is declining even in the former British colony: “We need to speak out, to take action to prevent this from spreading”.

CARDINAL ZEN

The protests were held yesterday in front of the Hong Kong Liaison Office with China. The Hong Kong Christian Institute, Christians for Hong Kong Society, Christian Social Concern Fellowship and Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Hong Kong were the four groups that protested yesterday. Participants chanted, “respect for religious freedom” as they left flowers in memory of those who have died to affirm this right in China.

The group reminded those gathered that more than 2,000 crosses were removed or demolished in the province of Zhejiang alone since the end of 2013, when the campaign against Christian religious symbols was started by the local Party. In addition, the protesters asked the central government in Beijing to release pastors and priests imprisoned for opposing these demolitions.

Cardinal Zen he was worried the anti- Christian campaign could spread to Hong Kong. “The freedom is less and less. So we have to speak out because we, in Hong Kong, can see the possibility of the anti- Christian campaign spreading from the mainland,” he said.

CARDINAL ZEN  2

The Hong Kong protests come one day after the meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and representatives of the United Front (which gathers together all “non-communist” social groups in modern-day China).

During his address, Xi stressed that religious groups must obey the Party: ” Religious groups must adhere to the leadership of the Communist Party of China”. But party members must be “unyielding Marxist atheists,” Xi said, calling on them to “resolutely guard against overseas infiltrations via religious means.”

THE CHURCH, IN CHRIST, IS VISIBLE SIGN OF GOD’S MERCIFUL LOVE FOR MANKIND – A MIRACLE IN ZHENGDING – GENUINE PAPAL BLESSINGS ONLY AVAILABLE IN VATICAN CITY

Today I offer three stories – the good news of the general audience, the great news from China and the bad news story about fraudulent Jubilee souvenir vendors in Rome.

Here is the logo from the official website im.va of the Jubilee of Mercy that will be on all OFFICIAL merchandise:

JUBILEE LOGO

Some background for the second story: I discovered many years ago that I harbored great affection for Catholics wherever they were persecuted and suffering. For many decades I followed the situation of Catholics in what used to be called Eastern Europe, the communist bloc countries of Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, the USSR, etc.

My attention also turned to China in the 1990s when I was working for the Vatican and, in 1995, was part of the Holy See delegation to the 1995 U.N. Conference on Women in Beijing. We had daily Mass in our delegation suite (and the Chinese authorities who were placed in the hallway outside our rooms and this suite knew it!), always leaving the door a bit ajar on purpose. A Catholic Mass in a Chinese hotel would have been unthinkable before the U.N. conference or afterwards, even though freedom of religion was stated in a pamphlet about the Chinese constitution that was in every room.

There is the underground Church in China and the government-allowed Church – as you will see in the AsiaNews story.

I also have been following Church-State relations in Vietnam. I wrote about several of my experiences during my June 2013 trip to Vietnam – to DaNang and Hochiminhville (Saigon).

I was thus overjoyed when I read the AsiaNews story and why I called it great news. I could dedicate an entire book to all of the places I have mentioned. I have also been to Taiwan and there is flourishing freedom of religion there.

THE CHURCH, IN CHRIST, IS VISIBLE SIGN OF GOD’S MERCIFUL LOVE FOR MANKIND

Pope Francis, at today’s weekly general audience, told pilgrims that he wanted the Jubilee to be an experience shared by all people. He said, “the Jubilee of Mercy was inaugurated this past week by the opening of the Holy Door, not only here in Rome but in dioceses worldwide, as a visible expression of our communion in the universal Church.”

He told his guests that he personally opened the first Holy Door in Bangui, the heart of Africa, when he visited the Central African Republic in November, noting that Rome is “the visible symbol of that mystery of communion between the Universal and each local Church.”

The Pope explained that, “Fifty years ago, the Second Vatican Council reminded us that the Church is called to be, in Christ, the visible sign of God’s merciful love for the entire human family. Each of us, by practicing charity, mercy and forgiveness, can be a sign of the power of God’s love to transform hearts and to bring reconciliation and peace.”

Mercy and forgiveness are not just nice words, said Francis, but rather visible signs that faith has transformed our hearts. “In our daily lives, we must never grow tired of loving and forgiving others as God loves and forgives us.”

“By going through the Door of Mercy during this Holy Year,” said the Holy Father, “we show our desire to enter more deeply into the mystery of Christ’s redemptive love. Jesus tells us that He Himself is the door to eternal life (cf. Jn 10:9), and he asks us, through genuine conversion, to open the doors of our hearts to a more sincere love of God and neighbor. … As we go through, we must also remember to keep the door of our hearts wide open.”

He then spoke extemporaneously and asked the faithful to “make sure that no one asks you to pay for going through that door! You don’t pay for salvation – Jesus is for free!”

Pope Francis said, “a special sign of grace in this Jubilee of Mercy is the sacrament of Penance, in which Christ invites us to acknowledge our sinfulness, to experience his mercy, and to receive the grace which can make us ever more effective signs of his reconciling love at work in our world.”

A MIRACLE IN ZHENGDING

A “miracle” at the Holy Door in Zhengding: 10,000 underground Catholics celebrate the Jubilee without arrests (Gallery)

Rome (AsiaNews) – “It’s a miracle! It is protection from Heaven!” said some Catholics from the underground community in Zhengding (Hebei) after what happened on Sunday, December 13.

About 10,000 faithful from Zhengding, Lingshou, Beijing, and Baoding had gathered outside the cathedral (pictured) to celebrate the beginning of the Jubilee and the opening of the Holy Door.

The “miracle” is that police, always present in front of the church, did nothing to prevent the event and did not arrest anyone. (Perhaps) an even greater miracle was the fact that the underground bishop led the liturgy, which lasted from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm.

MSgr Julius Jia Zhiguo, who is not recognized by the government, has been under house arrest for years for refusing to join the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association (CPCA), and for remaining loyal to the pope.

The CPCA is a Communist Party agency whose aim is to establish a Catholic Church independent from the pope.

Msgr. Jia Zhiguo lives near Zhengding cathedral and is monitored day and night. He is often taken away for a week or two of “holiday” – i.e. classes of indoctrination and brainwashing – to convince him to join the CPCA.

Despite this, “it is amazing,” said a nun, “that so many people could gather for so long and no one was arrested. It is likely that there were plainclothes police mingled with the crowd, but nothing happened.”

A procession followed by a series of readings from Misericordiae Vultus, Pope Francis’ Bull of Indiction of the Jubilee of Mercy, preceded the solemn opening of the Holy Door in Zhengding. A single Eucharistic ceremony followed the door opening.

For years, the Chinese government has been trying to eliminate unregistered underground communities, whose “crime” is that of engaging in unsupervised religious activities. For this reason, priests involved in underground services are often imprisoned.

In recent months, many underground priests and bishops have come under strong pressure to join the CPCA, through enticements and offers of money.

Despite the constant monitoring to which he is subjected, Msgr. Jia Zhiguo is well liked by the police as well as the population.

For a long time, he hosted at his residence about 200 abandoned children and disabled people, taking care of them along with some nuns and faithful

GENUINE PAPAL BLESSINGS ONLY AVAILABLE IN VATICAN CITY

(ANSA) Both pilgrims and counterfeiters have geared up for the Jubilee. Not only are fake rosaries, images and key rings flooding the religious-items market, there are also counterfeit personalized apostolic blessings on pontifical parchment with Holy See seals and photos of Pope Francis. Italian finance police confiscated 3,500 on Monday, a day when Interior Minister Angelino Alfano and Finance Police Chief Saverio Capolupo presented the first results of the Jubilaeum action plan against fraud and counterfeiting during the Holy Year.

“We knew that the Jubilee would have been hit by illicit business and fraudsters, and we thus prepared to fight against it,” the minister said. “A million counterfeit products have been confiscated this first week. The Jubilaeum plan aims to help pilgrims, increase perceived security and the fight against illegal trade, accommodation and counterfeit products. Every day as many as 32 finance police patrols are carried out in Rome to step up surveillance.”

A shop near St. Peter’s Basilica has been found to have housed the illegal printing press for the fraudulent apostolic blessings offered to unwitting pilgrims. The parchments had already had Pope Francis’s image and the papal and Vatican State emblems stamped on them. They also had – in Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and English – the words ‘blessing of the pilgrim’ on them and were personalized with names provided by the buyers.

The shopkeeper, who did not possess the necessary authorization from the Holy See, has been reported to the police for production and trade in counterfeit goods.

The parchments confiscated are worth over 70,000 euros, and the amount taken over during the first few days on sale is being calculated.

Interior Minister Alfano spoke about the lower number of visitors than expected during the beginning of this Holy Year, saying that it had nothing to do with the concerns raised by the recent attack in Paris. He noted that ”the number of pilgrims for the Jubilee are those expected and do not directly depend in any way on post-Paris anxiety. “Pope Francis’s strategy has been to open several Holy Doors and give value to other places of worship across the nation, such as Loreto and S.Giovanni Rotondo. “So it is not necessary to come to Rome to take part in the ceremony.”

On the issue of security, the interior minister said that ”on (the opening day) December 8, some 200,000 people took part in events in Rome and there was only one person reported to the police, for possession of a knife. This is proof that the (security) plan worked.”

 

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

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

“VATICAN INSIDER” GOES INSIDE THE EBOLA CRISIS

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

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives:

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

POPE FRANCIS HONORS OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE WITH CREOLE MASS

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

Our Lady of Guadalupe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

POPE MEETS WITH SYRIAC PATRIARCH, BISHOPS, FAITHFUL

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

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

SYRIAC PATRIARCH

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

POPE FRANCIS WRITES MESSAGE TO NOBEL PEACE LAUREATES

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

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

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

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

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

SECRETARIAT FOR ECONOMY PREPARING 2015 BUDGET

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

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

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

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

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

– Increase of available economic resources for the mission.”

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

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

CHALDEAN PATRIARCH PROPOSES ACTS OF PENANCE DURING ADVENT

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

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