FOR CHRISTIANS THE LITURGY IS TRUE SCHOOL OF PRAYER – ROME CIRCUS OFFERS 2100 TICKETS TO POPE FRANCIS FOR POOR, HOMELESS, REFUGEES, AND NEEDY FAMILIES – CONGREGATION APPOINTS COMMISSIONER FOR CHRISTIAN LIFE SOCIETY

MISSING IN ACTION – Apologies for two days of silence on this page, especially after a weekend filled with big stories – the Epiphany celebrations on Saturday, the 34 children baptized by Pope Francis in the Sistine Chapel on Sunday and the annual papal “state of the world” address to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See on Monday. I was under the weather, as the expression goes, on Monday and spent Tuesday recovering from Monday. Being online, researching and reading Vatican news and then posting stories was not high on my agenda, important as they were.

I was briefly online Monday to read the papal speech to the diplomats, given its importance and the subjects and places he covers in this “lights and shadows” look at the world. The 5300-word talk lasted about 45 minutes and was published in 8 languages by the Vatican.

Along with the papal speech, the Vatican published a “Note on the Diplomatic Relations of the Holy See, 08.01.2018.” It listed the number of countries and organizations with diplomatic ties to the Holy See, the new ambassadors as of January 2017, and also listed the resident and non-resident ambassadors. I was fascinated by one paragraph dedicated to the women ambassadors accredited to the Holy See, noting that there were 25 women diplomats.

When I returned to the news site today to look for that specific information about women ambassadors, it was gone. It no longer appears on the press office bulletin, on http://www.vatican.va or http://www.vaticannews.va. I searched the Internet to see if some colleague or news source has published it but my search for “women ambassadors accredited to the Holy See” was in vain. I also looked for “accredited to the Vatican” although that is technically incorrect.

Just moments ago I had my own epiphany, remembering where I first saw that information in Italian – in my own mailbox! I went back to January 8 and sure enough, there it was! I found the two press office attachments when I opened that (then) embargoed papal talk and the Note that I received via email at 9:45 am on January 8. I had not dreamed up the numbers and I do have a good memory!

Here is the info (my translation from the Italian) missing from Vatican websites:

Among the ambassadors, 25 are women: 12 are resident ambassadors (Australia, Benin, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia, Germany, Ireland, Panama, Perú, San Marino, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States of America); 13 are non-resident: (Burundi, United Arab Emirates, Gambia, Grenada, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mauritania, Zimbabwe, Qatar and Sweden).

This too was in an original text from the Holy See Press Office:

Between January1, 2017 and January 7, 2018, 31 new ambassadors, of whom 17 are resident, presented their Letters of Credence (Credentials) to the Holy Father: (Ghana, Brazil, Ecuador, Egypt, Iraq, Italy, Lebanon, Lithuania, Nigeria, Mexico, Montenegro, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, South Africa, USA, Uruguay); e 14 non residenti: (Mauritania, Myanmar, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Niger, Sudan, Trinidad e Tobago, Yemen, New Zelanda, Swaziland, Azerbaijan, Chad, Liechtenstein, India).

I wonder who decided and why it was decided not to include those two paragraphs, especially on women ambassadors, in the final version of the news sites.

A CHOIR, A HOTEL AND A POLISH SAINT – In addition to Vatican and papal news, I had every intention of sharing the wonderful Saturday evening I spent in the presence of two choirs that sang at the papal Mass on the Epiphany, principally the young people’s amazing choir of Christ Cathedral in Orange County, California, along with members of St. Anne’s choir from Laguna Niguel. I was invited to join them for dinner at a hotel I had heard of but never visited, the Kolbe Hotel.

From their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ChristCathedralMusic/

The hotel was named for St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Conventual Franciscan Friar who died in the Auschwitz concentration during World War II. The Nazi prison guards chose 10 people to be put to death and prisoner 16670 Kolbe offered to take the place of a stranger. We commemorated his birthday on Monday, January 8. The hotel premises are part of a structure built in 1625 that became a Franciscan monastery in 2012. Renovations started on the premises in 2007 and the result is what we see today, the Kolbe Hotel, part of which is still a Franciscan monastery.

In coming days, I’ll bring you some of the photos and stories I intended to publish Monday on this page.

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF A CHRISTMAS TREE – I’m sure you saw the news and photos over the holidays of Rome’s unbelievably scrawny Christmas tree placed in the capital’s central Piazza Venezia. Nicknamed “the mangy one” it eventually found a fond place in the hearts of Romans and visitors, but not before the world’s media found every way possible to make fun of it.

Now that the holidays are over, what will become of the much-mocked tree?

Well, it will be carved up and turned into souvenirs and a lactation hut for mothers and babies, city officials said Tuesday. Here’s the story:
http://www.yourconroenews.com/news/world/article/Rome-s-mangy-Christmas-tree-to-be-carved-up-into-12484838.php

And now, some Vatican news stories from today…..

FOR CHRISTIANS THE LITURGY IS TRUE SCHOOL OF PRAYER

Pope Francis continued his series of general audience catecheses on the Mass that he began last November by pointing out. “In our catechesis on the Holy Eucharist, we now turn to the Gloria and the Opening Prayer. Having confessed our sinfulness and asked God’s forgiveness in the penitential rite, “ he said, “we recite, on Sundays and holydays, the ancient hymn “Glory to God in the highest”. Echoing the song of the angels at our Lord’s birth, we praise the mercy of the Father in sending his Son who takes away the sins of the world.

Francis explained that, “the Opening Prayer is also called the ‘Collect’, because it gathers up and presents to the Triune God all our individual prayers. The priest’s invitation, ‘Let us pray,’ is followed by a moment of silence, as we open our hearts and bring our personal needs to the Lord. The Opening Prayer praises the Father’s provident love revealed in history and then implores his continued help as we strive to live as his sons and daughters in Christ.

“With the invitation ‘Let us pray,’ the priest exhorts the people to recollect themselves with him in a moment of silence, in order to be conscious of being in the presence of God and to have arise, in each one’s heart, the personal intentions with which he takes part in the Mass.” In this moment of silence, “each one thinks of the things of which he is in need, what he wishes to ask for in prayer.”

“By ancient tradition,” said the Pope, “the prayer is addressed to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. By reflecting on these rich prayers, and uniting ourselves with the Church in lifting them up to God, we see how the liturgy becomes for each Christian a true school of prayer.”

ROME CIRCUS OFFERS 2100 TICKETS TO POPE FRANCIS FOR POOR, HOMELESS, REFUGEES, AND NEEDY FAMILIES

Pope Francis through his apostolic almoner, Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, has invited the poor, the homeless, refugees, a group of prisoners, needy persons and families together with their volunteers, to attend a circus.

The Medruno circus – its owners, benefactors and performers – has placed at the disposition of the Holy Father all of its 2,100 seats in the big tent for this charity event. In fact, the Casartelli family and entrepreneur Fabrizio Grande are calling this “a circus of solidarity” with the Holy Father’s poor.

Once, during a general audience, Pope Francis spoke of circus performers, saying they “create beauty, they are creators of beauty and this does the soul good! How great is our need for beauty!” This then is the gift offered by the artists of the circus who, with constant commitment and many sacrifices, succeed in creating and giving beauty to themselves and to others. This can become also for our poorest brothers an encouragement to overcome the bitter moments and the difficulties of life that so many times seem so great and impossible to overcome.

Also available will be a medical service offered by volunteer doctors and nurses with an ambulance and a mobile ambulatory from Vatican City. At the end of the circus, those in need will receive also a carry out dinner bag,

CONGREGATION APPOINTS COMMISSIONER FOR CHRISTIAN LIFE SOCIETY

The Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life promulgated today, Wednesday 10 January 2018, the Decree for the Compulsory Administration of the Society of Apostolic Life Sodalitium Christianae Vitae (Christian Life Society), appointing as Apostolic Commissioner of the aforementioned Society H.E. Msgr. Noel Antonio Londoño Buitrago, C.Ss.R., bishop of Jericó (Antioquia), Colombia.

Cardinal Joseph Tobin, C.Ss.R., continues to be the referent for the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life, as Delegate ad nutum in relation to Sodalitium Christianae Vitae and with regard to economic issues in particular.

The Holy Father Francis has closely followed all the information that, for several years, has come to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life on the situation of the Christian Life Society. The Pope has shown himself to be particularly attentive to the seriousness of the information concerning the internal regime, formation and economic and financial management, which is why he has asked the Dicastery to pay particular attention. In addition to this, a series of measures have recently been adopted by the Peruvian judicial authority against Mr. Luis Fernando Figari. After a thorough analysis of all the documentation, the Dicastery issued the Decree for Compulsory Administration.

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REPORT ON U.S. WOMEN RELIGIOUS PRAISES NUNS, STRESSES FIDELITY TO CHURCH DOCTRINE – ASSESSMENT OF LCWR: BRIEF BACKGROUND AND TIMELINE

My question about why St. Peter’s dome has not been illuminated in recent days has been answered and it is rather what I thought it might be – new lighting. In fact, Vatican Radio reported this morning that new LED lighting for the facade and dome of St. Peter’s Basilica will be turned on Friday evening at about 6, simultaneous with the illumination of the the Christmas tree in St. Peter’s Square. There will be 315 new clusters of LED lights to illuminate the basilica and, most importantly, to offer the Vatican a signifiant savings in energy consumption. The lighting ceremony follows that of the unveiling of the Nativity scene in St. Peter’s square. Traditionally this is unveiled on Christmas Eve, the moment that Baby Jesus is placed in the crib.

Have you been to the Vatican website lately – www.vatican.va? There are images of all the Popes up to now with their name as Pope, their birth name and place of birth and the beginning and ending dates of their pontificate.

REPORT ON U.S. WOMEN RELIGIOUS PRAISES NUNS, STRESSES FIDELITY TO CHURCH DOCTRINE

The Final Report on the Apostolic Visitation of Institutes of Women Religious in the United States of America, was made public today by the Vatican and placed on its website (see link below). This is separate from an assessment done by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Today’s report was “Given in Rome, Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, September 8, 2014 Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” and signed by Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, Prefect, and Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo, O.F.M., Secretary.

Speakers at the press conference (which aired simultaneously online) included Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life; Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, O.F.M., secretary; Mother Mary Clare Millea, A.S.C.J., director of the Apostolic Visitation in the United States; Sister Sharon Holland, I.H.M., president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR); Sr. Agnes Mary Donovan, S.V., coordinator of the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR), and Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., assistant to the Visitation Committee.

Cardinal Braz de Aviz explained that the Visitation was initiated “because of our awareness that apostolic religious life in the United States is experiencing challenging times. Although we knew that any initiative of this magnitude would have its limits, we wished to gain deeper knowledge of the contributions of the women religious to the Church and society as well as those difficulties that threaten the quality of their religious life and, in some cases, the very existence of the institutes.

“Our final report on the Apostolic Visitation is addressed to the women religious of the United States as well as to the Church’s pastors and faithful. In addition to publishing this general report, our dicastery will send individual reports to those institutes that hosted an on-site visitation and to those institutes whose individual reports indicated areas of concern. We will also send letters of thanks to those institutes that participated in the first two phases of the Visitation. … We are aware that the Apostolic Visitation was met with apprehension by some women religious as well as the decision, on the part of some institutes, not to collaborate fully in the process. While this was a painful disappointment for us, we use this present opportunity to express our willingness to engage in respectful and fruitful dialogue with those institutes which were not fully compliant with the Visitation process.”

Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, O.F.M, secretary of the Congregation, gave an overview of the final report. He explained that the dicasteries of the Apostolic See regularly authorize Apostolic Visitations, which involve sending one or more visitors to evaluate an ecclesiastical entity in order to assist the group in question to improve the way in which it carries out its mission in the life of the Church.

He also gave some statistics: the Apostolic Visitation involved 341 religious institutes of women religious that engage in apostolic ministry and which have a generalate, provincialate and/or initial formation program in the United States. Both diocesan and pontifical right institutes, to which approximately 50,000 women religious throughout the United States belong, were part of the Visitation. Each province of institutes that had more than one province in the United States was considered a separate unit, for a total of 405 entities involved in the Visitation.

He noted that the congregation appointed a woman Religious from the United States, Mother Mary Clare Millea, A.S.C.J., as Apostolic Visitator, granting her the faculties to design and carry out the Visitation. She, in turn, chose a core team of American religious who assisted her throughout the process.

The archbishop explained that the Visitation took place between 2009 and 2012 and was divided into four phases. In the first phase, 266 superiors general (78% of their total number) voluntarily engaged in personal dialogue with the Visitator. Subsequently, all major superiors were asked to complete a questionnaire requesting empirical data and qualitative information regarding the spiritual, community and ministerial life of the individual institutes. On-site visits were then conducted in a representative sample of 90 religious institutes, representing about half of the apostolic women religious in the United States. In the final phase of the Visitation, the Visitator submitted to our dicastery a final general report on the major issues and trends in women’s religious life in the United States. While these trends cannot be presumed to apply to each of the institutes, they were significant enough to warrant mention in her report.”

The 5,275 word Report can be accessed here:   http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2014/12/16/0963/02078.html

The full text of the Report is also available at: http://www.uisg.org; http://www.vidimusdominum.org; http://www.lcwr.org; http://www.cmswr.org; and http://www.usccb.org.

The Final Report has an Introduction, followed by 12 sections: 1. The Apostolic Visitation to Institutes of Women Religious in the United States: Rationale and Overview; 2. Empirical Findings of the Apostolic Visitation; 3. Charism and Identity of the Religious Institutes 4. Vocation Promotion and Religious Formation; 5. Praying with the Church; 6. Called to a Life Centered on Christ; 7. Community Life; 8. The Service of Authority; 9. Financial Stewardship; 10. Collaboration in the Evangelizing Mission of the Church; 11. Ecclesial Communion and 12. Conclusion:

Following is a link to the Holy See Press Office bulletin with the speeches given at today’s press conference: http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2014/12/16/0962/02072.html

There are some interesting and generally pretty fair headlines in the media today as they report on the Final Report and press conference: Vatican probe ends with an olive branch for American nuns; Vatican Report Finds American Nuns are a Graying Workforce; Vatican report on US nuns is conciliatory, stresses teachings; Vatican Report Cites Achievements and Challenges of US Nuns;

ASSESSMENT OF LCWR: BRIEF BACKGROUND AND TIMELINE

2008:

The LCWR is an association of more than 1,500 leaders of U.S. congregations of women religious. Together they represent more than 80% of the 57,000 women religious in America. (https://lcwr.org)

In 2008, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) initiated a doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) conducted by (then) Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo, Ohio. The LCWR responded at the end of 2009 and a subsequent report was made by Bishop Blair in 2010. See the April 2012 CDF document (below) for reasons why mandate was initiated.

Cardinal William Levada was the prefect of the CDF in 2008 when this assessment was mandated.

2012:

APRIL 18: The above-mentioned reports (LCWR 2009 – Bishop Blair 2010) were included in the document issued by the CDF on April 18, 2012 and published on the website of the U.S. Bishops: http://www.usccb.org/upload/Doctrinal_Assessment_Leadership_Conference_Women_Religious.pdf

JUNE 12:

“Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, released a statement Tuesday about a meeting at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) about the doctrinal Assessment of the LCWR, Leadership Conference of Women Religious, a group that represents about 80 percent of American sisters.

“He said, “Today the superiors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met with the president and executive director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the United States of America. Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle, the Holy See delegate for the doctrinal assessment of the LCWR, also participated in the meeting.” Fr. Lombardi noted that, “the meeting provided the opportunity for the Congregation and the LCWR officers to discuss the issues and concerns raised by the doctrinal assessment in an atmosphere of openness and cordiality.”

“The CDF in fact, on April 18 issued an assessment of the conference that noted “serious doctrinal problems” and significant need for reform. Since then, there has been a vehement outcry in the U.S. from members of the LCWR as well as from Catholic faithful who support many of the ministries operated by women religious.

“The press office statement continued. “According to Canon Law – canons 708 and 709 – a conference of major superiors such as the LCWR is constituted by and remains under the supreme direction of the Holy See in order to promote common efforts among the individual member institutes and cooperation with the Holy See and the local conference of bishops. The purpose of the doctrinal assessment is to assist the LCWR in this important mission by promoting a vision of ecclesial communion founded on faith in Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Church as faithfully taught through the ages under the guidance of the Magisterium.”

“Sisters Pat Farrell and Janet Mock, respectively president and executive director of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, attended the meeting.”

JULY 25:

Part of a Catholic News Service (CNS) story by Cindy Wooden. CNS is the news service of the U.S. Bishops Conference.

“VATICAN CITY — Asked about how he would handle the most controversial cases he inherited, the new head of the Vatican’s doctrinal office said, “For the future of the church, it’s important to overcome ideological conflicts from whatever side they come.”

“German Archbishop Gerhard L. Muller, named prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in early July, told the Vatican newspaper that the congregation’s discussions with the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X and with the U.S. Leadership Conference of Women Religious would focus on the fact that being Catholic means believing what the church teaches.

“Although he has been a member of the congregation for five years, Muller told L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, that it would take him some time to get up to speed on all of the details of the congregation’s work.

“But, in the interview published Wednesday, the archbishop was asked what he thought about the ongoing discussions aimed at bringing the traditionalist SSPX back into full communion with the church and about the congregation-ordered reform of the LCWR, the organization that brings together the superiors of most religious orders of women in the United States.

“….In an apparent reference to the LCWR, he said, “One cannot profess the three religious vows (poverty, chastity and obedience) and not take them seriously.”

FOR FULL STORY, click here: http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1203123.htm

(Since this report, Muller has been made a cardinal)

2014

APRIL 30:

Meeting of the Superiors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with the Presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) -Opening Remarks By Cardinal Gerhard Müller

I am happy to welcome once again the Presidency of the LCWR to Rome and to the Congregation. It is a happy occasion that your visit coincides with the Canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII, two great figures important for the Church in our times. I am grateful as well for the presence and participation of the Delegate for the implementation of the LCWR Doctrinal Assessment, Archbishop Peter Sartain.

As in past meetings, I would like to begin by making some introductory observations which I believe will be a helpful way of framing our discussion.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL REMARKS: http://www.doctrinafidei.va/muller/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20140430_muller-lcwr_en.html