SMALL GESTURES, SPARKS OF BEAUTY AND LOVE CAN HEAL – PONTIFICAL COMMISSION TO PROTECT MINORS LAUNCHES WEBSITE – ASTOUNDING: MYSTERIOUS ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELD DISCOVERED AT TOMB OF CHRIST

ChurchPOP, part of the EWTN network, is an online Christian brand that’s fun, informative, and inspiring with editions in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. It is under the spiritual patronage of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. Brantly C. Millegan is the founder and editor-in-chief of ChurchPOP and you can learn more about him on his personal website brantlymillegan.com.

I have posted stories from ChurchPOP before and offer one today – the third story below – that I think you’ll find fascinating.

POPE FRANCIS TWEETED DECEMBER 6: Jesus gives meaning to my life here on earth and hope for the life to come.

SMALL GESTURES, SPARKS OF BEAUTY AND LOVE CAN HEAL

Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin this afternoon read a Message from Pope Francis to participants in the XXI Joint Meeting of the Pontifical Academies as they ponder the meeting’s theme, “Sparks of beauty. Giving a more human face to our cities.” Participants met in the Apostolic Chancery on Tuesday afternoon to explore this theme chosen by the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi.

The Holy Father wrote, “Taking care of people, starting with the smallest and weakest, and their daily needs necessarily also means taking care of the environment in which they live. Small gestures, simple actions, small sparks of beauty and love can heal, ‘mending’ the often lacerated and divided human fabric [of society], as well as that of a city and of the environment, representing a concrete alternative to indifference and cynicism.”

academies

The papal Message was addressed to Cardinal Ravasi, who also serves as president of the Coordinating Committee for the Pontifical Academies and who opened Tuesday’s gathering.

There are eleven Pontifical Academies whose aim is to further research and encourage dialogue within and among scientific, artistic, professional and cultural disciplines.

PONTIFICAL COMMISSION TO PROTECT MINORS LAUNCHES WEBSITE

(Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors [PCPM] is launching a new website to provide information on the Commission and its Mission.

The website –currently in a ‘beta’ format – has resources divided into four categories: “Healing and Care”, “Guidelines”, “Education”, and the “Day of Prayer [for the Victims and Survivors of Sexual Abuse]”.

minors-1

minors-2

It also provides news and information about the Commission in an easily accessible format.

Pope Francis formally appointed the first eight members of the “Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors” on March 22, 2014 upon the suggestion of the Council of Cardinals.

In a ‘Chirograph’ issued the same day, the Holy Father wrote that the Commission’s task is to advise the Roman Pontiff on effective policies for the protection of minors and vulnerable adults and educational programs for all who are involved in this work.

The website – www.protectionofminors.va – is currently available in English, but will be expanded to Spanish, Italian, French, and Portuguese in the near future.

ASTOUNDING: MYSTERIOUS ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELD DISCOVERED AT TOMB OF CHRIST

Is this hard evidence of the Resurrection?

As you may have heard, a team of scientists were recently permitted to open up the place believed to have been the tomb of Christ in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. The slab had been sealed off long ago and hadn’t been opened – even partially – since the early 19th century.

There was at least one, possibly two, astounding discoveries made.

First, for the unconfirmed discovery: there are rumors that the scientists immediately smelled a sweet aroma when they opened the tomb. Those rumors haven’t been confirmed, but something similar was reported the last time the tomb was opened in 1809.

Second, and this is the most incredible: Marie-Armelle Beaulieu, editor-in-chief of the french magazine Terre Sainte, has received confirmation from a scientist from the team that the tomb had a strong, unexplainable electromagnetic field that messed up their equipment.

“The phenomenon was confirmed by one of the scientists authorized to access the tomb,” Aleteia reports. “Later, one of the heads of the building and construction team, Antonia Moropoulou, indicated that it is really hard to imagine that someone would be willing to put in danger his or her reputation just because of a “publicity stunt.” Moreover, the journalist testifies to the scientists’ surprise during the opening of the slab: they hoped that the grave would be much lower than it was. Their conclusion: previously performed analyses with the instruments seemed to have been distorted by an electromagnetic disturbance.”

The website uCatholic speculates that this electromagnetic field may lend credence to one theory that the Shroud of Turin was created by an impossibly strong electromagnetic burst.

So maybe the Resurrection left behind an electromagnetic field?

https://churchpop.com/2016/12/05/astounding-mysterious-magnetic-readings-at-recently-opened-tomb-of-christ/

Here are links to stories by National Geographic whose photographers were allowed to chronicle the restoration of the tomb of Christ:

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/10/jesus-christ-tomb-burial-church-holy-sepulchre/
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/proof/2016/11/oded-balilty-qa/
https://churchpop.com/2016/12/05/astounding-mysterious-magnetic-readings-at-recently-opened-tomb-of-christ/
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TRAVELS AND TRIVIA – REPORT FROM PONTIFICAL COMMISSION FOR PROTECTION OF MINORS – POPE CONFIRMS AILING ITALIAN YOUTH BEFORE SATURDAY AUDIENCE

TRAVELS AND TRIVIA

I leave tomorrow morning for Alabama to spend some days with my EWTN colleagues at our studios in Irondale and to attend the September 17 and 18 Family Celebration at the Jefferson Convention Center in Birmingham. I’ll be with Jim and Jim Pinto on Thursday to do a live edition of “At Home!” I’ll be on “At Home” tonight from Rome!

The weekend events will feature EWTN Radio Live, Main events (Mass, speakers, etc) each day in the auditorium, Meet the Author, Family Corner, Faith Factory for Kids, Religious Catalogue Shop, the National Catholic Register and Media Missionaries. If you are in the vicinity, come and put a face to a name! I leave for Rome on September 19 – will try post some news and photos while I am away!

The answer to Friday’s Question of the Week: Pope Urban VII was elected Pope on September 15th, 1590 but died just 12 days later – making his papacy the shortest in history.

Joan’s Advice for Tourists, Pilgrims and Visitors: As you walk to St. Peter’s Square, be it from Via della Conciliazione or either of the two colonnades, you will probably be approached (assailed?) by dozens of people trying, in multiple languages, to sell you tickets to Vatican sights and urging you to “avoid the lines” to the Museums, etc. They can be aggressive and follow you for 10 or more feet, trying to get you to listen. Many of them wear large vests that are white or, in most cases, chartreuse (lime green) and have the word STAFF on them. These are NOT Vatican people. The official Jubilee Year Vatican staff wear large YELLOW vests that say “Volunteer.” Help me help others – tell your friends!

Avoiding lines? SOOOOO easy! Just reserve in advance to visit the Museums: https://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/musei/tickets/index.html   There might be a little wait for security to enter the Basilica but these lines move rather quickly.

REPORT FROM PONTIFICAL COMMISSION FOR PROTECTION OF MINORS

I saw this news today on the Vatican website and immediately posted it on Twitter and tried to put it on my Facebook page but was blocked! This appeared on my screen: “This message contains content that has been blocked by our security systems. If you think you’re seeing this by mistake, please let us know.”

Of course, I let them know and I have not heard back all day. I sent them the following URL: http://www.news.va/en/news/pontifical-commission-for-the-protection-of-mino-4,

This is a very interesting but somewhat lengthy report: Click on the above link for the complete Commission statement.

(Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) met in Plenary Assembly last week, September 8-11 focusing their attention on the three key areas of education: a Day of Prayer and the Holy Father’s MOTU PROPRIO “As a Loving Mother,” the accountability of Church leadership. The Plenary also recognised the importance of digital technology and announced the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors will be going live with its own website. The Working Group meetings focused on the updates for current projects, and developing draft proposals for Pope Francis.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley heads this Commission. He is also a member of the C9 Council of Cardinals that advises Pope Francis. They are all in Rome, meeting for three days this week, for the 16th time, with the Holy Father in the Vatican.

POPE CONFIRMS AILING ITALIAN YOUTH BEFORE SATURDAY AUDIENCE

What a great story this is!

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to a seriously ill young man before his Saturday Jubilee audience in St. Peter’s Square.

Sixteen-year-old Giuseppe Chiolo, a patient of the oncological department of the Meyer Hospital in Florence, travelled to the Vatican on Saturday morning aboard an ambulance.

The Pope embraced Giuseppe before confirming him, and gifted him with a rosary as he asked the boy not to forget to pray for him.

pope-confirms

Giuseppe had recently written a letter to Pope Francis in which he revealed his strong desire to meet him and he was immediately invited to come to the Vatican.

The Pope also had words of encouragement and comfort for Giuseppe’s parents and for his sister and aunt who were present in St. Peter’s Square together with the chaplain of the Meyer Hospital and the vice-director of the local Florentine Caritas office. He also thanked the three volunteers of Mercy who accompanied Giuseppe on his journey to Rome.

During the special Jubilee audience, Pope Francis had words of greeting for other sick and disabled persons, including Laura Salafia who was shot by mistake six years ago and has undergone a series of operations and rehabilitation, and Pompeo Barbieri, a survivor of the 2002 earthquake in the southern Apulia region who has managed to become a swimming champion notwithstanding a disability that constrains him to a wheelchair.

COMMISSION FOR PROTECTION OF MINORS ENDS WEEKLONG PLENARY

COMMISSION FOR PROTECTION OF MINORS ENDS WEEKLONG PLENARY

(Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has released a communiqué at the end of its week-long Plenary Assembly at the Vatican. Dated February 8, 2016, the statement details the focal points and proposals that emerged from the six Working Groups of the session, including a request for Pope Francis to remind all authorities in the Church of the importance of responding directly to victims and survivors who approach them, the finalization of a Universal Day of Prayer, and a penitential liturgy.

The communiqué goes on to list upcoming activities of the Commission and partner organizations, including workshops on the legal aspects of the Protection of Minors with a view to to establishing greater transparency around canonical trials, and the development of a website to facilitate sharing of best practices for the protection of minors around the world.

Below, please find the full text, in its official English version, of the communiqué from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors:

News Release

Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors

8 February 2016

TO BE RELEASED IMMEDIATELY

The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has had seven full days of meetings in Rome. Meetings of the six Working Groups focused on updates for current projects, and developing and drafting proposals. Outside collaborators who assisted the Working Groups included the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (CAFOD), and an expert in Penal Canon Law. Draft proposals were presented to the Plenary Assembly for further discussion and decision about policies to propose to the Holy Father. Policies endeavor to recognize the diversity of information and guidance currently available to the Church around the world.

Examples of proposals being finalized for Pope Francis’ consideration include: a request for him to remind all authorities in the Church of the importance of responding directly to victims and survivors who approach them; the finalization of a Universal Day of Prayer and a penitential liturgy.

Workshops on the legal aspects of the Protection of Minors to establish more transparency around canonical trials, with participation of external collaborators, are planned for later in the year and a report and recommendations will be provided at the next Plenary Assembly. A website is also being developed to share Best Practice for the Protection of Minors around the world.

In order to fulfill the mission of the Holy Father’s Chirograph for the Institution of the Commission to promote local responsibility, Commission members are actively in contact with numerous Bishops Conferences, and members of the Commission have presented to Religious Conferences and Congregations on safeguarding minors.

Over the past year or so, Commission members have met with Bishops and child protection authorities in: Philippines, Austria, Pacific Islands, New Zealand, Scotland, Poland, Central America (in Costa Rica), United States National Safe Environment (SECs) and Victims Assistance Coordinators (VACs). As an outcome of the workshop conducted by members of the Commission last August in the Philippines, the Philippine Bishops’ Conference created a child safeguarding office and Pastoral Exhortation on the pastoral care and protection of minors.

A meeting is planned in March in Ghana with Secretaries General of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM), and a second meeting with child protection practitioners drawn from the Association of Member  Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) in Tanzania. Commission members are also attending the Anglophone Safeguarding Conference in Rome and the United States National Safe Environment and Victims Assistance Coordinators 2016.  In 2017 the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC) has requested a workshop with Commission members.

The Commission likewise welcomes the recent announcement that in a week’s time the first course offering a diploma in the Safeguarding of Minors at the Pontifical Gregorian University will start with 19 participants from four continents: Africa, Europe, America and Asia.

The September 2016 meeting of the Commission will have a strategic focus on safeguarding minors in Catholic schools, and will invite contributions from experts in Latin America, England and Wales.

The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors was created by Pope Francis in March of 2014. The Chirograph of His Holiness Pope Francis states specifically, “The Commission’s specific task is to propose to me the most opportune initiatives for protecting minors and vulnerable adults, in order that we may do everything possible to ensure that crimes such as those which have occurred are no longer repeated in the Church. The Commission is to promote local responsibility in the particular Churches, uniting their efforts to those of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, for the protection of all children and vulnerable adults.”END OF RELEASE

Following is some background on a concurrent story about commission member Peter Saunders who has said the only person who can tell him to take a leave of absence from the commission is Pope Francis:

EWTN/CNA –  February 6 – The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Children has announced member Peter Saunders will take a leave of absence from his work with the commission.

“Today’s meeting of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors discussed the direction and purpose of the Commission,” read a Feb. 6 press release from the commission. “As the result of this discussion, it was decided that Mr. Peter Saunders would take a leave of absence from his membership to consider how he might best support the commission’s work.”

Saunders is founder of the U.K.’s National Association for People Abused in Childhood, which focuses on abuse prevention and support for abuse survivors.

A survivor of priestly sexual abuse, Saunders had been a member of the Commission for the Protection of Children since December 2014. He reportedly became increasingly critical of the commission’s process of reforming the Church’s abuse protocol.

In a statement Saturday, the commission’s president, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, confirmed Saunders “has been asked to advise the commission on the possible establishment of a victim- survivor panel to work with the commission.”

A Vatican official who requested anonymity told journalists the panel will likely be modeled after a similar panel established for Saunder’s U.K. organization.

Saunders was one of 17 members of the commission, which Pope Francis founded to address the abuse crisis. The commission met in Rome this weekend.

According to Vatican Radio, “examples of proposals being finalized for Pope Francis’ consideration include: a request for him to remind all authorities in the Church of the importance of responding directly to victims and survivors who approach them, the finalization of a Universal Day of Prayer and a penitential liturgy.”

COMMISSION FOR PROTECTION OF MINORS HOLDS SECOND PLENARY

STAY TUNED TO “JOAN’S ROME” AND TO MY FACEBOOK PAGE TODAY AS  THERE IS A LOT OF NEWS AND I WILL BE POSTING SEPARATE STORIES AS THEY OCCUR.

COMMISSION FOR PROTECTION OF MINORS HOLDS SECOND PLENARY

(Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has completed its second plenary assembly, focusing on formation of candidate for priesthood and religious life,  the use of forensic assessments for people accused of sex abuse crimes and the use of liturgical support materials for the pastoral care of survivors. (photo L’Osservatore Romano)

COMMISSION ON ABUSE-MEMBERS

The Commission met in Rome from October 9th to 11th, beginning their plenary with a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in his Santa Marta residence. Members then focused their sessions on listening to and discussing progress reports presented by the Working Groups formed in the February 2015 Plenary.

Please find below the full press statement from the Commission:

The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors gathered in Plenary Assembly, October 9-11, 2015 in Rome.  It is the second time that the full Commission has gathered together.

The Plenary Assembly began with Mass with the Holy Father, Pope Francis, in Santa Marta. Members then focused their sessions on listening to and discussing progress reports presented by the Working Groups formed in the February 2015 Plenary.

These Working Groups cover key areas of the mission that has been entrusted to the Commission by the Holy Father, namely to advise him, his collaborators and the local church on the protection of minors.  The Working Groups are:

  • Guidelines for the safeguarding and protection of minors;
  • Healing and care for victims, survivors and their families;
  • Formation of candidates to the priesthood and religious life and the education of Church leadership;
  • Education of families and communities;
  • Theology and spirituality;
  • Canonical and civil norms.

Particular areas of focus of these working groups include research into the assessment and ongoing formation of candidates to the priesthood and religious life; the use of forensic assessments with people accused of a crime; the provision of liturgical support materials for the pastoral care of victims, survivors and communities. The Commission does not address individual cases, it does not exercise oversight, and is not a decision-making body.

Since its establishment, the Commission for the Protection of Minors has been invited by Church leaders to place the inter-disciplinary expertise of its members at the service of Church in various parts of the world.

Commission members have taken part in workshops, conferences and seminars on the protection of minors in Ireland, the UK, France, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and recently in the Philippines, where 76 bishops attended.  Next month, Commission members will also address all of the bishops of Central America.

Very positive feedback has been received from our participation in these initiatives.  The Commission’s contribution has been seen as a resource for the local Church worldwide as Bishops’ Conferences continue to develop sound and culturally effective guidelines that reflect the local reality.

The Commission plans to hold its next Plenary Assembly in February, 2016.

Commission members in attendance:

Cardinal Seán O’MALLEY, OFM Cap. (United States), President; Mons. Robert OLIVER (United States), Secretary; Rev. Luis Manuel ALI HERRERA (Colombia); Catherine BONNET (France); Marie COLLINS (Ireland); Gabriel DY-LIACCO (Philippines); Sheila BARONESS HOLLINS (United Kingdom); Bill KILGALLON (New Zealand); Sr. Kayula LESA, RSC (Zambia); Sr. Hermenegild MAKORO, CPS (South Africa); Kathleen McCORMACK (Australia); Claudio PAPALE (Italy); Peter SAUNDERS (United Kingdom); Hanna SUCHOCKA (Poland); Krysten WINTER-GREEN (United States); Rev. Humberto Miguel YÁÑEZ, SJ (Argentina) and Rev. Hans ZOLLNER, SJ (Germany).

PAPAL ADVISORY COUNCIL MEETS FOR NINTH TIME – NEW CARDINALS ASSIGNED MEMBERSHIPS IN ROMAN CURIA

PAPAL ADVISORY COUNCIL MEETS FOR NINTH TIME

The C9 – the nine-member Council of Cardinals that meets four or five times a years with Pope Francis to advise him on Church and Vatican business – began its ninth meeting this morning. The cardinals are meeting together with the Holy Father through Wednesday, although Pope Francis will preside at the weekly general audience on Wednesday morning.  The C9 last met in February 2015. (file photo: news.va)

C) CARDINALS

The C9 members are Cardinals Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State; Francisco Javier Errazuria Ossa, archbishop-emeritus of Santigo de Chile; Oswald Gracias, archbishop of Bombay; Reinhard Marx, archbishop of Munich; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop of Kinshasa; Sean Patrick O’Malley OFM Cap, archbishop of Boston; George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy;  Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, SDB, archbishop of Tegucigalpa and Pietro Parolin, secretary of State.

C9 member Cardinal Sean O’Malley was also busy Sunday when he met with several members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors who had requested a special meeting with him as head of that Commission. The three – Peter Saunders, Catherine Bonnet, and Sheila Hollins –  are part of a Commission subcommittee and asked to discuss the appointment of Chilean Bishop Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid, previously a military chaplain, to lead the diocese of Osorno. (JFL photo)

CARDINAL O'MALLEY

Bishop Barros’ appointment angered many and triggered wide protests in Chile because, although he was never formally charged, he was accused of protecting Fr. Fernando Karadima, a prominent priest in Chile whom the Vatican sentenced in 2011 to a life of solitude and prayer after being found guilty of sexually abusing minors in the 1980s and 1990s. The population of Chile is 70 percent Catholic.

When the Barros appointment was made public, Catholic faithful objected and tried to get Pope Francis to withdraw the name. His installation went ahead in March but was shortened in nature.

The three members of the papal Commission for the Protection of Minors, in comments to various media, said the meeting with Cardinal O’Malley on Sunday “went very well” and they feel assured he will bring their comments to Pope Francis during the C9 meetings.

A statement was issued Sunday by Msgr. Robert Oliver, Commission secretary. It noted that members were able “to discuss their concerns about the appointment of Bishop Barros in Chile.” It said; “Although we are not charged with dealing with individual cases, the protection of minors is our primary concern. The process of appointing bishops who are committed to, and have an understanding of child protection is of paramount importance.” The statement said additionally that, “In the light of the fact that sexual abuse is so common, the ability of a bishop to enact effective policies, and to carefully monitor compliance is essential. Cardinal O’Malley agreed to present the concerns of the subcommittee to the Holy Father.”

NEW CARDINALS ASSIGNED MEMBERSHIPS IN ROMAN CURIA

All cardinals are assigned membership in one or more of the Church’s 9 congregations and 12 pontifical councils or other dicasteries of the Roman Curias. The Vatican today published the congregations or councils to which the cardinals created in the February 14 public consistory have been named:

1) In the Council of Cardinals and Bishops of the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State, His Eminence Cardinal Dominique Mamberti, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura;

2) in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, His Eminence Cardinal Ricardo Blazquez Perez, Archbishop of Valladolid (Spain);

3) in the Congregation for Oriental Churches, the Eminent Cardinals: Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, Archbishop of Addis Ababa (Ethiopia); Edoardo Menichelli, Archbishop of Ancona-Osimo (Italy);

4) in the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, His Eminence Cardinal Dominique Mamberti, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura;

5) in the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, His Eminence Cardinal Dominique Mamberti, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura;

6) in the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Eminent Cardinals: John Atcherley Dew, Archbishop of Wellington (New Zealand); Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon, Archbishop of Hanoi (Vietnam); Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij, Archbishop of Bangkok (Thailand); Arlindo Gomes Furtado, Bishop of Santiago de Cabo Verde (Cape Verde); Soane Patita Paini Mafi, Bishop of Tonga (Tonga);

7) in the Congregation for the Clergy, the Eminent Cardinals: Manuel José Macário do Nascimento Clemente, Patriarch of Lisbon (Portugal); Alberto Suarez Inda, Archbishop of Morelia (Mexico);

8) in the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the Most Eminent Cardinals: Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon (Myanmar); Daniel Fernando Sturla Berhouet, Archbishop of Montevideo (Uruguay);

9) in the Congregation for Catholic Education, His Eminence Cardinal José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuan, Bishop of David (Panama);

10) in the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, His Eminence Cardinal John Atcherley Dew, Archbishop of Wellington (New Zealand);

11) in the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the Most Eminent Cardinals: Pierre Nguyen Van Nhon, Archbishop of Hanoi (Vietnam); Alberto Suarez Inda, Archbishop of Morelia (Mexico);

12) in the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum,” the Eminent Cardinals: Francesco Montenegro, Archbishop of Agrigento (Italy); Arlindo Gomes Furtado, Bishop of Santiago de Cabo Verde (Cape Verde); Soane Patita Paini Mafi, Bishop of Tonga (Tonga);

13) in the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People the Most Eminent Cardinals: Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, Archbishop of Addis Ababa (Ethiopia); Francesco Montenegro, Archbishop of Agrigento (Italy);

14) in the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Healthcare workers, His Eminence Cardinal Edoardo Menichelli, Archbishop of Ancona-Osimo (Italy);

15) in the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Eminent Cardinals: Charles Maung Bo, Archbishop of Yangon (Myanmar); Ricardo Blazquez Perez, Archbishop of Valladolid (Spain); José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuan, Bishop of David (Panama);

16) in the Pontifical Council for Social Communications,  the Eminent Cardinals: Manuel José Macário do Nascimento Clemente, Patriarch of Lisbon (Portugal); Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij, Archbishop of Bangkok (Thailand);

17) in the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, his Eminence Cardinal Daniel Fernando Sturla Berhouet, Archbishop of Montevideo (Uruguay).

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HOLY FATHER! BUON COMPLEANNO! FELIZ CUMPLEAÑOS! – POPE COMPLETES COMPOSITION OF COMMISSION FOR PROTECTION OF MINORS

Pope Francis is 78 today and I’ve been thinking how much I’d like to see all the goodies – the cakes and cookies and Argentinian specialities and flowers and cards – that have undoubtedly arrived in the Vatican and at the Santa Marta residence for Pope Francis. I think it is a sure bet that the Pope is sharing all of the edibles with the less fortunate – perhaps the homeless and many others who frequent the Dono di Maria run by the Missionaries of Charity, located just a few yards from the left hand colonnade of St. Peter’s Square.

I think you will really enjoy the Pope’s catechesis on the family today – a theme he began last week and will develop over quite a period of time. When he speaks, you somehow picture him sitting around your dining room table and telling you about the Holy Family, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, a young baby, then a growing lad, then an adult who, only at the age of 30, leaves home to undertake the mission given him by God the Father.

I picture Pope Francis as he tells this story, then looks around the table to see our reaction, and then delights as we turn off the lights, bring in a cake with lit candles, sing “Happy Birthday” and cut into it with great joy.

How I’d love to slip into the Santa Marta dining room tonight!

I don’t have much more at this moment but here are a few lines from Reuters about the Vatican assistance in the release of American Alan Gross from Cuba:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Negotiations for the release of ailing U.S. aid worker Alan Gross lasted for about a year, with significant involvement by the Vatican, U.S. Senator Richard Durbin told Reuters on Wednesday. Durbin said the White House called him on Tuesday night with the news of Gross’ pending release. “I was overjoyed by this news,” Durbin told Reuters by telephone from Joint Base Andrews, a military base outside of Washington, where Gross was expected to land within hours.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HOLY FATHER! BUON COMPLEANNO! FELIZ CUMPLEAÑOS!

Pope Francis turned 78 today, amidst great joy and celebrations in St. Peter’s Square, before and during the weekly general audience and all day long as cards, letters and telegrams arrived from around the world, many of which were read on Vatican Radio.

As he made his way through the crowds, Pope Francis stopped by a group of seminarians from the Legion of Christ, who offered him a birthday cake, complete with lighted candles. The Holy Father also took the opportunity to take a sip of maté, a traditional Argentinian drink, offered by pilgrims at the audience. Over 2,500 tango enthusiasts danced on Via della Conciliazione, the board avenue leading up to St Peter’s Square, for the birthday of the first Pope from Latin America. (Photo from news.va)

POPE FRANCIS - birthday

The Holy Father also received 1,760 pounds of chicken meat for the poor, provided by a Spanish producer and the Vatican said the meat would be distributed to soup kitchens. As he toured St. Peter’s Square in the opem jeep under clear, sunny skies (a real change from the weather this past week!) little children stopped to hand him cards and he seemed especially delighted with the hand-drawn greetings.

Though Pope Francis made no reference to his birthday during the audience, the monsignori from the Secretariat of State who read the summaries of the papal catechesis in different languages, did wish the Holy Father a very Happy Birthday.

Vatican Radio published a prayer for Pope Francis:

V. Let us pray for Francis, the Pope.

R. May the Lord preserve him, give him a long life, make him blessed upon the earth, and may the Lord not hand him over to the power of his enemies. V. May Your hand be upon Your holy servant.

R. And upon Your son whom you have anointed. Let us pray. O God, the Pastor and Ruler of all the faithful, look down, in your mercy, upon your servant, Francis, whom you have appointed to preside over your Church; and grant, we beseech you, that both by word and example, he may edify all those under his charge; so that, with the flock entrusted to him, he may arrive at length unto life everlasting. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

During today’s audience, Francis asked for prayers for the victims of the “inhuman terror attacks perpetrated in the past days in Sydney, Australia and in Peshawar, Pakistan.” And he asked those present to join him in his prayers to the Lord “to receive the deceased in peace, to bring comfort to their families and to convert the hearts of the violent who do not hold back even before children!”

Taliban militants in Pakistan killed at least 132 children and 9 staff members at a school in Peshawar on Tuesday, and an Islamist militant killed two people during a siege on a café in Sydney on Monday, and was himself killed by police.

The Pope’s appeal came after his second catechesis in preparation for next October’s Ordinary Synod of Bishops. He said that the Extraordinary Synod that took place last October represented the first step of a journey that will conclude next year with another synodal assembly on the theme “Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and in the World.” Francis said that his weekly Wednesday prayers and meditations are part of that common journey, and that is why he has chosen to reflect, this year, on the family: “this great gift of the Lord to the world, right from the beginning, when he entrusted Adam and Eve with the mission to “be fruitful, increase in number and fill the earth.”

The proximity to Christmas illuminates the mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God, he said, and this opens a new chapter in the universal history of man and woman. “And this new beginning occurs within a family, in Nazareth. He could have come spectacularly or as a warrior, an emperor… No, he came as the son of a family, in a family.”

Francis explained that, “God chose to be born “in a human family, that He Himself had formed. He created this family in a remote village in the outer reaches of the Roman Empire. Not in Rome, the capital of the Empire, not in a great city, but in an almost invisible and somewhat notorious periphery. This is even noted in the Gospel, almost as if it were a turn of phrase: ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Perhaps, in many parts of the world, we too still speak in this way when we hear the name of certain peripheral areas of large cities. And yet, it was precisely there, in the outskirts of the great Empire, that there began the most holy and good story of Jesus among mankind.”

Jesus, noted the Pope, stayed in that periphery for over 30 years as narrated by Luke, and many people say today “what a waste, 30 years at home.” There were no miracles or preaching, but just a very normal family life. Pope Francis spoke of the tenderness aroused by the descriptions of Jesus’ life as an adolescent who was raised in an atmosphere of religious devotion, learning from the words and examples of Mary and Joseph, and growing in wisdom, age and grace.

“Every Christian family – as Mary and Joseph did – must first welcome Jesus, listen to Him, speak with Him, shelter Him, protect Him, grow with Him; and in this way, make the world better. Let us make space in our heart and in our days for the Lord. This is what Mary and Joseph did, and it was not easy: how many difficulties they had to overcome! It was not a false or unreal family. The family of Nazareth calls to us to rediscover the vocation and the mission of the family, of every family. And so what happened in those thirty years in Nazareth can also happen to us: making love, not hate, normal; mutual help common, instead of indifference and hostility. It is not by chance that Nazareth means ‘she who preserves’, like Mary who, as the Gospel tells us, ‘treasured all these things in her heart’. From then on, whenever there is a family that preserves this mystery, even if it should be at the outer reaches of the world, the mystery of the Son of God is at work. And He comes to save the world.”

At the end of the audience, 2,500 people danced the milonga to the sound of the bandoneon near St. Peter’s Square to celebrate Pope Francis’ 78th birthday. The initiative, “A tango for Francis,” emerged on the social networks and, as was seen earlier today, thousands of people joined in. (Source: Vatican Radio, VIS)

POPE COMPLETES COMPOSITION OF COMMISSION FOR PROTECTION OF MINORS

As anticipated, the Holy Father has nominated new members of the Commission for the Protection of Minors, chosen from various parts of the world, so as to allow a broad representation of different situations and cultures.

The complete composition of the Commission is therefore as follows:

Cardinal Seán O’MALLEY, OFM Cap. (United States), president

Mons. Robert OLIVER (United States), secretary

Rev. Luis Manuel ALI HERRERA (Colombia)

Dr. Catherine BONNET (France)

Marie COLLINS (Ireland)

Dr. Gabriel DY-LIACCO (Philippines)

Prof. Sheila the Baroness HOLLINS (England)

Bill KILGALLON (New Zealand)

Sr. Kayula Gertrude LESA, RSC (Zambia)

Sr. Hermenegild MAKORO, CPS (South Africa)

Kathleen McCORMACK AM (Australia) Dr. Claudio PAPALE (Italy)

Peter SAUNDERS (England)

Hon. Hanna SUCHOCKA (Poland)

Dr. Krysten WINTER-GREEN (United States)

Rev. Dr. Humberto Miguel YÁÑEZ, SJ (Argentina)

Rev. Dr. Hans ZOLLNER, SJ (Germany)

The next plenary session of the Commission will take place, as previously stated, in the Vatican on from 6-8 February 2015. Brief information on members of the Commission is given below.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap. (United States), archbishop of Boston, serves as the president of the Commission and is a member of the Council of Cardinals which advises Pope Francis.

Msgr. Robert Oliver (United States) serves as the Secretary of the Commission, following many years in child protection work for the Archdiocese of Boston, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as the Promoter of Justice.

Rev. Luis Manuel Ali Herrera (Colombia) is the Director of the Department of Psychology, professor of pastoral psychology in the Conciliar Seminary of the Archdiocese of Bogota, and as a parish priest.

Dr. Catherine Bonnet (France) is a child psychiatrist, psychotherapist, researcher, and author on child sexual abuse and perinatal violence and neglect.

Marie Collins (Ireland) is a survivor of child sexual abuse. A founder Trustee of the Marie Collins Foundation she served on the committee which drafted the Catholic Church’s all-Ireland child protection policy, “Our Children Our Church.”

Dr. Gabriel Dy-Liacco (Philippines) is an adult and adolescent psychotherapist and pastoral counsellor for various mental health concerns including of individuals, couples, families and groups, including victims and perpetrators of abuse.

Prof. Sheila the Baroness Hollins (England) has worked as a psychiatrist and psychotherapist with children and adults with intellectual disabilities including those who have been sexually abused, and is a life peer in the House of Lords.

Bill Kilgallon (New Zealand) is Director of the National Office for Professional Standards of the Catholic Church in New Zealand where he has lived for the last four years. Prior to that he had a long career in social work and health services in the UK.

Sr. Kayula Gertrude Lesa, RSC (Zambia) is a development professional, trainer and author on child protection, human trafficking, refugee rights and the right to information. She served as a member of the African Forum for Church Social Teaching (AFCAST).

Sr. Hermenegild Makoro, CPS (South Africa) is a member of the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood in the diocese of Mathatha in South Africa. She works as a high school teacher and for several years in the diocese as a trainer in pastoral work. After serving as an Associate Secretary General of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference for six years, Sr. Hermenegild was appointed as the Secretary General of the SACBC in 2012.

Kathleen McCormack (Australia) is a social welfare worker who served as Director of Welfare of Catholic Care in the Diocese of Wollongong for 29 years and held leadership roles in Family Services, Child Protection, Out Of Home Care and Ageing and Disability Services.

Dr. Claudio Papale (Italy) is a canon lawyer and a civil lawyer, professor of canon law at the Pontifical Urban University, and an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Peter Saunders (England) was abused throughout his childhood in Wimbledon, South West London. Later in life, after earning a Business Studies degree, Peter discovered that he was one of millions who had suffered such abuse and who could not find any appropriate support. So he set up NAPAC, the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, for supporting all survivors and for developing greater resources for responding to child abuse.

Hon. Hanna Suchocka (Poland) is a professor of constitutional law and specialist in human rights at the University of Poznan, and was formerly Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland and Ambassador of Poland to the Holy See.

Dr. Krysten Winter-Green (United States) is a New Zealander with post-graduate degrees in Theology, Human Development, Social Work, Religion and Pastoral Psychology. She has served in dioceses around the world with homeless persons and those living with AIDS. Krysten’s concentration in the areas of child abuse include forensics, assessment and treatment of priest/clergy offenders.

Rev. Dr. Humberto Miguel Yanez, SJ (Argentina) is Director of the Department of Moral Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, professor of moral theology at the Gregorian and the Pontifical Urban University, and former Director of the Centre of Research and Social Action in Argentina.

Rev. Dr. Hans Zollner, SJ (Germany) is President of the Centre for Child Protection of the Pontifical Gregorian University and Director and Professor of the Institute of Psychology. He was Chair of the organising committee for the Symposium “Towards Healing and Renewal” on sexual abuse of minors (February 2012).