RELIGIOUS SISTERS WITH DOWN SYNDROME: THE JOY OF SHARED CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE

I just got back from Sorrento with my niece Christie and her husband Bryan and their four magnificent kids and wanted to be in touch today, after being unable to get to my computer yesterday. We really lucked out today as we had already decided to hire a car and driver to take us to Rome and that was before we knew there was a transportation strike in Italy today!

Our days down south included touring the Amalfi Coast (Positano, Amalfi and stupendous Ravello), visiting Capri over the weekend, and enjoying many other great pleasures this part of the world provides. One of my favorite pastimes is discovering new churches and visiting the ones I know well and love such as the Cathedral of Sts. Philip and James and Our Lady of Carmel. I now have a new favorite – Our Lady of Graces (more later, along with some photos).

I found some time to keep up with Vatican events and post some news when they went on a few excursions that I did not join. They went to Pompeii on Sunday and, as I had already been there a number of times and it was amazingly hot and humid, I stayed in Sorrento to relax and spend an afternoon on the computer for stories breaking over the weekend.

Monday morning they went to a place near Sorrento for snorkeling, swimming and a boat ride back to the Sorrento port and I used that time in Sorrento to research and write. It actually has been fairly quiet at the Vatican with the Holy Father in the last week of his working vacation in the Vatican. In fact, even the vaticannews.va web site has accumulated news and stories from around the Catholic world to write about in lieu of daily papal stories.

One of those stories is below. This is so wonderfully inspiring! IF you need some good news and need a smile, this will do it!

RELIGIOUS SISTERS WITH DOWN SYNDROME: THE JOY OF SHARED CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE

The Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb live in the centre of France. They are the first contemplative community in the world to welcome into consecrated life people with Down Syndrome, or trisomy 21.

By Cyprien Viet (Vaticannews)

The community, which has a special devotion to Saint Benedict and Saint Theresa of Lisieux, first got the idea in the 1980’s. It started with a friendship. Line was on a spiritual search of her own and felt a calling to work with children. Véronique is a young woman with Down syndrome who felt a vocation to the consecrated life.

Line is now Mother Line, Superior of the Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb (Petites Soeurs Disciples de l’Agneau). She explains: “I visited several communities that welcomed people with disabilities, but I saw they could not find their place in these communities because they were not suitable for them”. “It was the encounter with Véronique, a girl with Down syndrome that gave us the idea for a new beginning. I told myself I had to help her realize her vocation”.

Véronique wanted to respond to her vocation to serve the Lord, but was refused by all the communities she approached because she has Down syndrome. Canon Law and monastic rules do not provide for the admission of people with mental disabilities to religious life. It took Line and Véronique 14 years to get the statutes of this special community, with its own original style, recognized

Gradual recognition by the Church
Line and Véronique began their community of two in 1985 in a small apartment, a council house. Later, another girl with Down syndrome joined them. In 1990, they asked the future Cardinal and Archbishop of Tours, Jean Honoré (1920-2013), to recognize them as a public association of lay faithful. It was the support of Cardinal Honoré, who defended their case in Rome, which allowed this small community to be recognized.

In 1995, the growing number of “associates” obliged the Little Sisters to move. They settled in Le Blanc, a town of 6,500 inhabitants in the Diocese of Bourges. Pierre Plateau (1924-2018), Archbishop of this diocese in central France, welcomed them warmly. His intervention helped make further progress for them in Rome, with a view to obtaining the status of a contemplative religious institute. This they obtained in 1999.

“Plateau was really a father to our community”, says Mother Line, “he was very close to people with Down syndrome”. The sisters gradually developed the priory and the chapel and in 2011 obtained the definitive recognition of their statutes, thanks to the intervention of Archbishop Armand Maillard, who added his support to the community, considering it a source of life and joy in the area.


A community of life
There are currently 10 Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb: eight of them have Down syndrome. The community hopes to welcome more sisters, as those with Down syndrome need assistance and support. Even though, according to Mother Line, they are mostly independent “because the contemplative life allows them to live at their own pace. For people with Down syndrome, changes are difficult, but when life is very regular they manage well,” she says.

That regular lifestyle unfolds in daily functions and tasks. Holy Mass is celebrated every Tuesday in the chapel, and the various activities include weaving and pottery workshops and, most recently, the creation of a garden of medicinal plants. Ultimately, this extraordinary vocation is expressed in the ordinary things of life, in the humility of service, following the “little path” revealed by Saint Teresa of Lisieux, whose spirituality is the source of their inspiration.

“34 years have passed since I heard the call of Jesus”, says Sr Véronique. “I have tried to know Jesus by reading the Bible and the Gospel. I was born with a disability called Down syndrome. I am happy. I love Life. I pray, but I am sad for the children with Down syndrome who will not feel this same joy of living. For those who felt called to live, like Saint Teresa, the vocation to love, the journey was long but her patience and her faith gave their fruits. Jesus made me grow in His love”.

After facing rejection by other communities, Sr Véronique describes experiencing her greatest joy on 20 June 2009 when she made her perpetual vows in the Institute of the Little Sisters Disciples of the Lamb, and became “the bride of Jesus”.

Let love unfold
“At a time when society lacks points of reference, no longer finding meaning in life or giving it value, our community wants to reaffirm the sacred character of life and the human person through the simple witness of our life consecrated to God”, say the Little Sisters.

The Little Sisters extend an open invitation to a period of discernment to all young women who feel “touched by the spirit of poverty and devotion, and who are ready to offer their lives serving Christ in the persons of their little sisters with Down syndrome”.

Young women with Down syndrome, who feel called to consecrated life, go through the same period of discerning their vocation. Mother Line explains how the Lord calls when we come to understand who we are, and what we want. “It is just like for any other vocation”, she says. They understand perfectly well if it is not authentic.

The gift of friendship with Jesus
Mother Line says she has discovered great spiritual strength in her sisters with Down syndrome. “They know the Bible, the lives of the saints, and they have a fabulous memory”, she says. “They are souls of prayer, they are very spiritual, very close to Jesus”.

Mother Line sees in their simplicity a prophetic sign for our time. “Their souls are not disabled! On the contrary, they are closer to the Lord, they communicate with Him more easily. The other sisters of the community admire their ability to forgive, to encourage their sisters by finding the right phrase from the Bible that helps give meaning to the day”.

In 2013, the community was shaken by the premature death of Sr Rose-Claire at the age of 26. Her sisters describe her as having an aura of holiness similar to that of Saint Teresa of Lisieux, whom she loved very much. Mother Line recounts the reaction of the Little Sisters with Down syndrome who embraced their sister’s passing with great serenity, placing everything under the gaze of God. “When I went to their room to talk to them the next morning, one of them told me: ‘It is the desire of Heaven’. Another encouraged me, saying: ‘We must be strong. We have faith’”.

To some, the experience of this community may seem unusual. To others, it responds to an anthropological challenge in a world obsessed with efficiency and productivity. A world in which there appears to be no place for people with Down syndrome. According to Mother Line, however, their capacity to love and to be close to the Lord produces surprising fruits. Theirs is a world to be discovered, she concludes. “They bring joy to society and, above all, they bring love to the world. A world that needs it so much”.

VINCENT LAMBERT, A MARTYR, VICTIM OF MEN’S MADNESS – NO REMAINS FOUND IN VATICAN CEMETERY TOMBS – EMANUELA ORLANDI: THE 36- YEAR- OLD MYSTERY CONTINUES

VINCENT LAMBERT, A MARTYR, VICTIM OF MEN’S MADNESS

The Vatican this morning released a statement on the death in France of Vincent Lambert: “We received the news of Vincent Lambert’s death with pain. We pray that the Lord will welcome him into His house and we express closeness to his loved ones and to those who, up to the end, committed themselves to assist him with love and dedication. Let us remember and reiterate what the Holy Father said when he spoke of this painful affair: ‘God is the only master of life from the beginning to the natural end and it is our duty to remember this always and not to give in to the throwaway culture’.”

Vincent Lambert became a quadriplegic after a motorbike accident 11 years ago and has been in a persistent vegetative state since then. Symbolizing the right to life debate in France – and for some, the right to die – Lambert’s feeding tubes were removed by doctors against the wishes of family.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, tweeted today: En ce triste jour, je prie pour le repos éternel de l’âme de Vincent Lambert, mort en martyr, victime de la folie effrayante des hommes de notre temps. Je prie pour sa famille et en particulier pour ses parents, si courageux, si dignes. N’ayons pas peur. Dieu veille. +RS (On this sad day, I pray for the eternal repose of the soul of Vincent Lambert, who died as a martyr, a victim of the frightful madness of the men of our time. I pray for his family and especially for his parents, so brave, so worthy. Do not be afraid. God watches. RS +) https://twitter.com/Card_R_Sarah

A tweet from the Pontifical Academy for Life in both French and Italian: Monsignor Paglia and all the @PontAcadLife pray for the family of #VincentLambert, for the doctors, for all the people involved in this affair. The death of #VincentLambert and his story are a defeat for our humanity. https://twitter.com/PontAcadLife

NO REMAINS FOUND IN VATICAN CEMETERY TOMBS

Holy See Press Office interim director Alessandri Gisotti issued the following statement at noon today:

“The operations at the Campo Santo Teutonico were concluded at 11.15 am within the scope of the investigative tasks of the Orlandi case. Results of the research were negative: no human remains or funerary urns were found. The careful inspection of the tomb of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe has unearthed a large underground compartment of about 4 meters by 3.70, completely empty. Subsequently the opening operations of the second tomb-sarcophagus took place, that of Princess Carlotta Federica di Mecklemburgo. Inside it, no human remains have been found. The family members of the two Princesses were informed of the results of the research.

“The staff of the Fabbrica di San Pietro, professor Giovanni Arcudi and his staff, in the presence of a trusted expert appointed by the lawyer of the family of Emanuela Orlandi, collaborated with the investigations. The Orlandi family’s lawyer, Laura Sgrò, and Emanuela’s brother, Pietro Orlandi, were present. The Promoter of Justice of the Tribunal of the Vatican City State, Gian Piero Milano, and his Assistant Alessandro Diddi, together with the Commander of the Vatican Gendarmerie Corps, Domenico Giani, followed all phases of the operation.

“For further details, documentary checks are underway concerning the structural interventions that have taken place in the area of the Campo Santo Teutonico, in a first phase at the end of the nineteenth century, and in a second more recent phase between the 1960s and 1970s.

“At the end of the work, we would like to reiterate that the Holy See has always shown attention and closeness to the suffering of the Orlandi Family and in particular to Emanuela’s mother. Attention demonstrated also in this occasion in accepting the specific request of the family to check the Campo Santo Teutonico (for alleged remains).”

Earlier this morning he had released the following statement:

“At 8.15 am this morning, after a prayer led by the Rector of the Teutonic College in front of the two sepulchres, regular operations began at the Campo Santo Teutonico (Teutonic cemetery) as part of the investigative aspects of the Orlandi case. At the moment, it is not possible to predict how much time will be needed for completing such operations that involve about fifteen people.

“In particular, the staff of the Fabbrica di San Pietro is operating for the opening and closing of the tombs, while overseeing the discovery will be done by Prof. Giovanni Arcudi and his staff, in the presence of a trusted expert appointed by the lawyer of the Orlandi family. Present were the Promoter of Justice of the Tribunal of the Vatican City State, Prof. Gian Piero Milano, his Deputy, Prof. Alessandro Diddi, and the Commander of the Vatican Gendarmerie Corps, Domenico Giani.

”As indicated in the decree of the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice, the operations concern the “Tomb of the Angel” of Princess Sophie von Hohenlohe and the adjacent tomb of Princess Carlotta Federica di Mecklemburgo. Although the grave indicated by the lawyer of the Orlandi Family is, in fact, that with the Angel who holds in his hands an open book with the inscription “Requiescat in pace”, the Promoter of Justice, in order to avoid possible misunderstandings about what the indicated grave could be, ordered the opening of both tombs as they are neighboring tombs and both with similar niches.

”For procedural reasons and in accordance with the secrecy of the investigation, the identity of the relatives of the two buried princesses will not be disclosed; obviously these are descendants who have been informed of the operations and who, for the sake of the truth, have guaranteed their complete availability and collaboration with the Holy See and in particular with the Office of the Promoter of Justice.

EMANUELA ORLANDI: THE 36- YEAR- OLD MYSTERY CONTINUES

Since the July 2 announcement by the Vatican that two tombs would be opened on July 11 in its Teutonic Cemetery to ascertain whether or not the remains of Emanuela Orlandi were in one of the tombs, the Vatican has been providing news and background stories, including an interview with the forensic anthropologist commissioned by the Vatican judiciary to examine findings and take samples for DNA testing following the opening of two tombs in the Vatican on Thursday.

Emanuela Orlandi was the daughter of a Vatican employee who vanished mysteriously 36 years ago on her way to a music lesson.

Now we know that today’s findings will not give closure to the many people involved – those workers assembled to open the tombs, the lawyers of the Orlandi family and the families or descendants of the people whose names were on the grave headstones opened today, members of the Orlandi family, Vatican security personnel, witnesses, etc.

The announcement on July 2 of the opening of the tombs said the decision to do so was part of one of the files opened following a request by the family of Emanuela Orlandi who, in recent months, had reported the possible concealment of her body in the small cemetery located within the territory of the Vatican State.

That press office announcement also stated: “The decision comes after a phase of investigations during which the Office of the Promoter – with the help of the Gendarmerie Corps – carried out investigations aimed at reconstructing the main judicial stages of this long and painful and complex case. It should be remembered that for legal reasons the Vatican investigating authority has no jurisdiction to investigate Emanuela Orlandi’s disappearance in Italy; investigations which, moreover, have been conducted by Italian investigators – from the earliest stages – with scrupulosity and professional rigor. Therefore, the Vatican initiative concerns only the ascertainment of the possible burial of the body of Emanuela Orlandi in the territory of the Vatican State.”

Whatever else can be done to discover what happened to Emanuela Orlandi after more than three decades of various leads have been exhausted is now in the hands of Italian authorities and possibly any police and investigative authorities in other countries with whom Italian officials have been in touch.

NUNCIO IN FRANCE COOPERATES WITH AUTHORITIES, RENOUNCES DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY

NUNCIO IN FRANCE COOPERATES WITH AUTHORITIES, RENOUNCES DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY

Responding to questions from journalists, interim director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, stated the following:

“I can confirm that the Holy See renounces jurisdictional immunity enjoyed by the Apostolic Nuncio in France, Msgr. Luigi Ventura, by virtue of the Vienna Convention of 18 April 1961 on diplomatic relations, for the purposes of criminal proceedings concerning him.

“This is an extraordinary gesture that confirms the will of the Nuncio, expressed from the beginning of the story, to collaborate fully and spontaneously with the French judicial authorities, competent for the case. In order to take this decision, the Holy See awaited the conclusion of the preliminary phase of the procedure – communicated to it at the end of June – in which Msgr. Ventura has freely participated. The Holy See’s decision was officially communicated to the French authorities last week.”

VATICAN WEIGHS IN ON RIGHT-TO-DIE CASE IN FRANCE

VATICAN WEIGHS IN ON RIGHT-TO-DIE CASE IN FRANCE

THE BACKGROUND: (BBC)

A French court has ordered doctors to resume life support for a quadriplegic man whose case has become central to the right-to-die debate in France.

Doctors had begun switching off life support for Vincent Lambert, 42, on Monday, before the court order.

Mr. Lambert has been in a vegetative state since a 2008 motorcycle accident.

His care has divided the country and his family. His wife has called for his feeding tubes to be withdrawn; his parents insist he be kept alive.

Mr. Lambert’s mother Viviane, 73, hailed the latest ruling as “a very big victory” in her struggle to maintain her son’s life support. “They are going to restore nutrition and give him drink. For once I am proud of the courts,” she said.

Doctors had earlier on Monday halted the nutrition and hydration Lambert receives, in line with the wishes of his wife and other relatives.

An earlier judicial ruling had said Mr. Lambert should be removed from life support and that process had begun before Monday evening’s dramatic reversal by the Paris Court of Appeal.

JOINT DECLARATION FROM DICASTERY FOR FAMILY, LAITY AND LIFE AND PONTIFICAL ACADEMY FOR LIFE ON VINCENT LAMBERT CASE:

“In fully sharing what was stated by Archbishop Éric de Moulins-Beaufort of Reims, and by Auxiliary Bishop Bruno Feillet, in relation to the sad story of Mr. Vincent Lambert, we wish to reiterate the serious violation of the dignity of the person, which the interruption of food and hydration entails The ‘vegetative state’, in fact, was certainly a serious pathological condition, which however does not in any way compromise the dignity of the persons who are in this condition, nor their fundamental rights to life and care, understood as continuity of basic human assistance.

“Nutrition and hydration are a form of essential care that is always proportionate to the maintenance of life: feeding a sick person is never a form of unreasonable therapeutic obstinacy, as long as the person’s body is able to absorb nutrition and hydration, unless doing that causes intolerable suffering or is harmful to the patient.

“The suspension of these treatments represents, rather, a form of abandonment of the patient, based on a merciless judgment on his quality of life, expression of a culture of waste that selects the most fragile and defenseless people, without recognizing their uniqueness and immense value. The continuity of assistance is an inescapable duty.

“We therefore hope that effective solutions can be found as soon as possible to protect the life of Mr. Lambert. To this end, we assure the prayer of the Holy Father and of the whole Church.

Kevin Cardinal Farrell,
Prefect, Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia,
President, Pontifical Academy for Life

BISHOP ROBERT BARRON: HIS WORD WAS ON FIRE IN ROME

Another day to remember in the life of a Rome-based Vatican correspondent. Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles is in Rome and he came to both give and receive. He gave a lecture at the Dominican-run Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas and the university conferred a Doctor Honoris Causa degree on him. The university is also called the Angelicum or Ang, given that Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church, is called “the Angelic Doctor.”

Bishop Barron’s lecture was entitled “The One Who Is, The One Who Gives: Aquinas, Derrida and the Dilemma of Divine Generosity.” He received sustained applause when he was introduced and had a standing ovation after he spoke and when the degree was conferred on him.

An estimated 600 guests were present, including students and teachers from the Angelicum and those from other universities, diplomats, Vatican officials, including two American cardinals, James Harvey and Edwin O’Brien, and people who for years have been fans of the bishop’s Word on Fire ministry.

I’ve been blessed to know Bishop Barron for years and he truly blessed everyone today with his presence and magisterial talk. EWTN was there and you will be able to see video of his time with the media had later. And, God willing, an interview for “Vatican Insider.”

 

 

“VATICAN INSIDER” EXPLORES VENERABLE ENGLISH COLLEGE – “BE NOT AFRAID” OF “OTHERS,” FOREIGNERS, OUTCASTS AND STRANGERS – NUNCIO TO FRANCE INVESTIGATED FOR ALLEGED SEXUAL ASSAULT

“VATICAN INSIDER” EXPLORES VENERABLE ENGLISH COLLEGE

Join me this weekend on Vatican Insider for Part II of my conversation with my special guest and friend, Msgr. Philip Whitmore, rector of the Venerable English College, the English seminary in Rome. It is truly a venerable institution with a history of over 600 years!

Msgr. Whitmore, rector since June 2013, is from the Archdiocese of Westminster, and before 2013 served in the Roman Curia, working first at the Congregation for Bishops and then at the Secretariat of State. He tells fascinating stories about the college, its amazing and very long history, the young men studying here, the historical Archives project, the summer residence of Pallazola and much more. Some very surprising facts as well.

This photo is from an audience in 2018 with Pope Francis – Msgr. Whitmore is to the Pope’s right as we look at the photo:

In case you missed them last week, here are photos of the seminary’s stunning chapel!

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“BE NOT AFRAID” OF “OTHERS,” FOREIGNERS, OUTCASTS AND STRANGERS

“Free from fear”: that is the theme of a 3-day meeting organized by the Migrantes Foundation, Italian Caritas, and the Jesuit-run Astalli Center for Refugees, to discuss reception structures for migrants.

The meeting is being held at the Fraterna Domus, a Welcome and Retreat Center near the town of Sacrofano, about 20 kilometers outside Rome. Consistent with his commitment to welcoming migrants, Pope Francis chose to open the meeting on Friday afternoon by celebrating Mass at the Fraterna Domus Center.

Do not be afraid
In his homily, the Pope focused on the readings chosen for the celebration, which he summed up in a single sentence: “Do not be afraid”.

Pope Francis used the image of the Israelites at the Red Sea, in the Book of Exodus, to illustrate how we are “called to look beyond the adversities of the moment, to overcome fear and to place full trust in the saving and mysterious action of the Lord”.

Free from fear
Turning to the Gospel of St Matthew, the Pope described the disciples crying out in fear at the sight of Jesus walking on the waters, and His response to them: “Courage, it is I, do not be afraid”. Reminding his listeners that “Free from fear” is the theme chosen for this meeting, Pope Francis said it is “through these biblical episodes that the Lord speaks to us today and asks us to let Him free us from our fears”.

Fear of others
“Faced with the wickedness and ugliness of our time”, said Pope Francis, we too, “are tempted to abandon our dream of freedom”. We are tempted to “shut ourselves off within ourselves”, he said, “in our fragile human security…in our reassuring routine”.
The Pope called this retreat into oneself, “a sign of defeat”, one that increases our fear of “others”, foreigners, outcasts and strangers. “This is particularly evident today”, he continued, with the arrival of migrants and refugees “who knock on our door in search of protection, security and a better future”.

Fear is legitimate
While recognizing that fear is legitimate, Pope Francis said it can lead us to “give up encountering others and to raise barriers to defend ourselves”. Instead, he continued, we are called to overcome our fear, knowing “the Lord does not abandon His people”. The encounter with the other”, said the Pope, “is also an encounter with Christ…even if our eyes have difficulty recognizing Him”. He is the one, said Pope Francis, “with ragged clothes, dirty feet, agonized faces, sore bodies, unable to speak our language”.

Overcoming fear
The Pope concluded his homily by suggesting we should “begin to thank those who give us the opportunity of this meeting, that is, the ‘others’ who knock at our door, and offer us the possibility of overcoming our fears, meeting, welcoming and assisting Jesus”.
And those “who have had the strength to let themselves be freed from fear”, he said, “need to help others do the same”, so they too can prepare themselves for their own encounter with Christ.

NUNCIO TO FRANCE INVESTIGATED FOR ALLEGED SEXUAL ASSAULT

Responding to the questions of journalists, interim director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, said: “The Holy See has learned in the press that an investigation has been initiated by the French authorities towards Monsignor Luigi Ventura, Apostolic Nuncio in Paris. The Holy See is awaiting the outcome of the investigations “.

CNA/EWTN news reports that Bishop Luigi Ventura, apostolic nuncio to France since 2009 and a long-time Vatican diplomat, is under investigation for alleged sexual assault.
The French newspaper Le Monde reported Friday that Ventura, 74, is being investigated by Paris authorities after he was accused late last month of having inappropriately touched a young male staffer of Paris City Hall.

A Vatican statement Feb. 15 said that it was made aware of the French authorities’ investigation of the envoy through the press and is “awaiting the outcome of the investigations.”
The alleged assault is said to have taken place in Paris’ City Hall Jan. 17, during a reception for the annual New Year address of Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo. The address is usually given to diplomats, religious leaders, and civil society members, with a role by the apostolic nuncio.
The claim against Ventura was brought to French authorities by Paris City Hall six days after it allegedly took place. The alleged victim has not been identified. (To continue: https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/vatican-ambassador-under-investigation-for-sexual-assault-71198)

MAY FRANCE FOSTER SEARCH FOR PEACE, HUMAN DIGNITY, RESPECT FOR LIFE AND COMMON GOOD – BE MODELS OF LOYALTY, HONESTY, HARMONY, HUMANITY, POPE TELLS ATHLETES – VATICAN FINANCIAL INFORMATION AUTHORITY ISSUES 2016 REPORT

Pope Francis tweeted today: Jesus asks to be looked in the eye, to be acknowledged, to be loved.

MAY FRANCE FOSTER SEARCH FOR PEACE, HUMAN DIGNITY, RESPECT FOR LIFE AND COMMON GOOD

The Holy Father sent the following telegram to Emmanuel Macron, the newly-elected president of the French Republic. Elected on May 7, President Macron, 39, was sworn in last Sunday. (photo news.va)

“On the occasion of your investiture as president of the French Republic, I send you my very cordial wishes for the exercise of your high office in the service of all your compatriots. I pray that God support you so that your country, faithful to the rich diversity of its moral traditions and its spiritual heritage marked also by the christian tradition, may always endeavor to build a more just and fraternal society. With respect for difference and attention to those in situations of vulnerability and exclusion, may it contribute to the cooperation and solidarity between nations. May France continue to foster, in Europe and throughout the world, the search for peace and the common good, respect for life and the defense of the dignity of every person and of all peoples. I heartily invoke the Lord’s blessing upon you and all the inhabitants of France. Francis

BE MODELS OF LOYALTY, HONESTY, HARMONY, HUMANITY, POPE TELLS ATHLETES

Pope Francis Tuesday welcomed the players, coaches and staff of Italian football teams, Juventus and Lazio as they are about to meet in the final game of the national soccer championship, and told them they have a big responsibility towards their fans, especially the youngest.

As public fgures, you have a certain responsibility, said Francis, who is a big fan of the sport called soccer in the U.S, and football is most of the rest of the world. He explained that “champions are role models for many young fans,” and thus, in every game, he said, you must show discipline, balance and respect for rules and regulations. (photo news.va)

“He, who through his behavior, puts all of this into practice, provides a good example for his followers, and this is what I wish for each of you: to be witnesses of loyalty, honesty, harmony and humanity” he said. He did note that violence sometimes occurs in football stadiums, disrupting games and spoiling what should be enjoyable moments: for all.

He wished both teams a “great match” when they play Wednesday evening in Rome’s Olympic Stadium.

VATICAN FINANCIAL INFORMATION AUTHORITY ISSUES 2016 REPORT

This morning at the Holy See Press Office, a press conference presented the 2016 Annual Report of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority (Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria – AIF) on supervision and financial intelligence for the prevention and countering of money laundering and financing of terrorism as well as prudential supervision. Presenters included René Brülhart and Tommaso Di Ruzza, respectively president and director of AIF.

Following is the press release that reviews the activities and statistics of AIF for the year 2016. It includes a significant fostering of international cooperation of the Vatican competent authority with its foreign counterparts to fight illicit financial activities, and a consolidation of the reporting system as well as a further strengthening of the regulatory framework have been some of the key achievements in 2016.

“International cooperation is a precondition to fight financial crimes and the Vatican is fully committed to it,” said René Brülhart, AIF president. “In 2016, AIF has seen a significant increase of bilateral cooperation with competent authorities of other jurisdictions and will continue to be an active partner to combat illicit financial activities globally.”

“The number of suspicious activity reports (SARs) by different reporting subjects decreased in comparison to 2015 (207 in 2016, 544 in 2015). But the number of SARs was still higher than in previous years, indicating an ever-increasing and effective implementation of reporting requirements by supervised entities,” said Tommaso Di Ruzza, AIF director. “In parallel, SARs show an improvement in terms of quality with a positive impact on the reports AIF disseminated to the Vatican Promoter of Justice, which are leading to domestic prosecution, and on the international cooperation with foreign FIUs, registering a notable development.”

In 2016, 22 reports have been submitted for further investigation by Vatican judicial Authorities. The number of cases of bilateral cooperation between AIF and foreign FIUs has increased from 81 in 2013, to 113 in 2014, to 380 in 2015 and 837 in 2016.

Furthermore, the transitional period to implement the requirements established by the prudential regulatory framework expired in 2016 and the domestic system – based on Title III of Law n. XVIII dated 8th October 2013 and AIF Regulation on “Prudential supervision of entities carrying out financial activities on a professional basis” n. 1 dated 13th January 2015 –, has been further strengthened with the issuance of new Circulars on accounting standards and statistical reporting requirements.   About AIF The Financial Information Authority is the competent authority of the Holy See and Vatican City State for supervision and financial intelligence for the prevention and countering of money laundering and financing of terrorism as well as prudential supervision.

Established by Pope Benedict XVI with the Apostolic Letter in form of Motu Proprio of 30 December 2010, AIF carries out its institutional activities in accordance with its new Statute introduced by Pope Francis with Motu Proprio of 15 November 2013 and Law No. XVIII of 8 October 2013.

In 2016, AIF signed MOUs with supervisory Authorities and FIUs of Austria, Brazil, Canada, Italy, Panama, Poland and Russia. In previous years, AIF had already signed MOUs with Albania, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Cuba, Cyprus, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Romania, San Marino Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States of America.

AIF has been a member of the Egmont Group since 2013.