POPE FRANCIS, A SURPRISE VISITOR TO VANCOUVER TED CONFERENCE – BRIEFING HELD AS C9 CARDINALS END THREE-DAY MEETING

POPE FRANCIS, A SURPRISE VISITOR TO VANCOUVER TED CONFERENCE

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has broken new ground in the way he communicates his message when the first-ever papal TED Talk went on line.

TED is a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading ideas in the form of short talks. What began in 1984 as a conference covering Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED), today provides talks from a wide range of different speakers – except popes. Until today,according to Sean Lovett of Vatican Radio.

He wrote that, “those of us following TED’s annual Conference in Vancouver had been promised a surprise ‘world figure’ who would deliver his 18-minute message on the conference theme, ‘The Future You’, alongside tennis superstar, Serena Williams, entrepreneur, Elon Musk, and chess champion, Garry Kasparov.

But no one expected to see the Pope’s face appear on the screen. (photo) news.va)

“I very much like this title – ‘The Future You’”, began Pope Francis, “because, while looking at tomorrow, it invites us to open a dialogue today, to look at the future through a ‘you’…The future is made of you’s…because life flows through our relations with others”.

Speaking in his typically personal and informal style, the Pope reminded us of how “everything is connected” and of how “life is about interactions”. “None of us is an autonomous and independent ‘I’”, he said. “We can only build the future by standing together, including everyone”.

His second message regarded “educating people to a true solidarity” in order to overcome the “culture of waste” that puts products at the centre of techno-economic systems, instead of people. “The other has a face”, he said. “The ‘you’ is…a person to take care of”.

The Pope illustrated his point by quoting Mother Teresa and the parable of the Good Samaritan, before going on to talk about Hope – which he described as “a humble, hidden seed of life that, with time, will develop into a large tree”. “A single individual is enough for hope to exist”, he said. “And that individual can be you”.

Pope Francis’ third and final message was dedicated to what he called “the revolution of tenderness”. Tenderness means “being on the same level as the other”, he said. It is not weakness, but strength: “the path of solidarity…of humility”. And through humility, even power becomes a service and a force for good.

The Pope concluded by affirming that the future of humankind is not in the hands of politicians or big companies but, most of all, in the hands of those people “who recognize the other as a ‘you’ and themselves as part of an ‘us’”. Because: “We all need each other”.

Listen to the English-dubbed version of the Pope’s TED talk (appears at end of written summary of papal talk): http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-francis-gives-ted-talk-we-build-future-togeth

BRIEFING HELD AS C9 CARDINALS END THREE-DAY MEETING

(Vatican Radio) The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, held a briefing for the press on the 19th meeting of the cardinals who are advisors to Pope Francis.

The Council of Cardinals met with the Holy Father for three days, starting on Monday. All of the members of the council were present. Pope Francis was absent from the morning meeting on Wednesday due to the general audience.

The working sessions took place from 9 am to 12:30 pm and again from 16:30 to 19:00. They were dedicated to further considerations on the various dicasteries of the Roman Curia. In particular, discussions continued on the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (Propaganda Fide), and the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. The Cardinals also considered texts to propose to the Holy Father regarding the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts; and three tribunals: the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, and the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.

During the meetings, the council also studied the selection and formation of the personnel in the service of the Holy See, both clerics and members of the lay faithful. Officials and superiors from the Secretariat of State, from the Council for the Economy, and from the Labor Office of the Holy See took part in the discussions. Archbishops Angelo Becciu, Paul Richard Gallagher, and Jan Romeo Pawłowski were present on behalf of the Secretariat of State. For the Council for the Economy, in addition to Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Prof. Franco Vermiglio, a member of the Council, spoke at the meeting. Bishop Giorgio Corbellini and a lawyer, Salvatore Vecchio addressed the cardinals for the Labor Office.

Another important theme treated by the council was the relationship between the Episcopal Conferences and the Roman Curia. Cardinal George Pell gave an update on the work of the Secretariat for the Economy, of which he is the President, with special attention to the review of the budget for the current year. Cardinal Seán O’Malley updated the council on the work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of minors, focussing especially on the programme of global education, the last plenary assembly, and the visits to various dicasteries.

The next meeting of the Council of Cardinals will take place June 12-14.

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

VATICAN ON ALLEGED UNAUTHORIZED EPISCOPAL ORDINATIONS IN CHINA

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

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

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

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

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

THE SITUATION OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN CHINA EXPLAINED

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

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

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

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

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

BERNARDO CERVELLERA, director, AsiaNews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The following was going to be my lead news in today’s column but all that changed with the appointment of a new director for the Holy See Press Office – see that story below. However, I think it is noteworthy that the world’s oldest priest turns 107 today! Here is a Reuters story from Belgium:

NALINNES, Belgium (Reuters) – A strict daily routine is the recipe for a long life, according to the world’s oldest priest, Belgian Jacques Clemens, who will celebrate his 107th birthday on Monday.

Clemens, who has also celebrated his 80th anniversary as a Catholic priest, gets up every morning at 5.30 a.m. and goes to bed at 9.00 p.m.

When Clemens was about to retire at 75, his bishop asked him to remain in service until they found a successor – he only stopped holding regular church services at his parish in the southern Belgian village of Nalinnes last year.

At Mass yesterday –

Father Jacques Clemens attends a mass at St. Benoit church in Nalinnes, Belgium, July 10, 2016.   REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Father Jacques Clemens attends a mass at St. Benoit church in Nalinnes, Belgium, July 10, 2016. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Happy Birthday, Fr. Clemens!

POPE NAMES AMERICAN TO HEAD HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE

Today’s big news story at the Vatican is the nomination of a new director for the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, a long time friend and colleague, and the naming of a female laywoman, also a journalist, to be the assistant director. History in the making in Vatican communications.

Pope Francis has named American journalist Greg Burke as the new director of the Holy See Press Office, effective August 1st. In another big appointment at a Vatican communications office, Francis also named a laywoman, Spanish journalist Paloma Garcia Ovejero, as assistant director of the press office. (N C Register photo)

GREG BURKE - NC REGISTER

The press office was headed by another Opus Dei numerary, Joaquin Navarro Valls, for 22 years during the papacy of John Paul II. Named in 1984, Navaro-Valls served as the papal spokesman until July 2006. Burke is thus the second layperson to head the press office but today’s nominations indicate the first time that two lay people head the sala stampa.

Paloma Garcia Ovejero –

PALOMA

Pope Francis has spoken for several years about women having a bigger role in the Church had many have noted that he had done little to implement that in the Roman Curia. Today’s nomination changed that perception, at least a little.

Another perception that the Pope changed in some way with Burke’s nomination is the idea there has been an anti-American feeling in the Curia. In fact, a number of Americans have been given other positions and moved out of the Roman Curia while none have been appointed to high-ranking positions inside the Vatican as they were with St. John Paul and Benedict XVI. At one point, Americans were second only to Italians in the Curia in numbers.

Both Burke, a native of St. Louis, and Garcia Ovejero speak multiple languages. She was the Vatican correspondent for the Spanish broadcaster COPE, and has ties to the Spanish Episcopal Conference.

I have known Greg since the mid-1980s when I was covering the Vatican as the Rome Bureau Chief for the National Catholic Register. I had that position until returning to the U.S. in December 1985, at which point Greg’s was a name I suggested to my superiors at the Register as someone who could succeed me.

Most of the news stories today about these appointments point to Greg Burke’s last position before being tapped as a communications consultant for the Secretariat of State – his work as the Fox News correspondent in Rome. He had also been a correspondent for TIME magazine.

I remember hearing Greg’s name being bandied about as a successor to Joaquin Navarro- Valls in May 2006 during Pope Benedict’s trip to Poland to honor his late predecessor, John Paul II. I mentioned it in either a blog or on air and did hear from Greg rather quickly – where had I heard that, he asked. I told him that, with the imminent departure of Navarro-Valls, his name had come up among journalist colleagues as an able, affable, competent, unflappable successor to the popular Spaniard who held the office for so long.

Exactly ten years ago, on July 11, 2006, a little over a month after Benedict’s Poland trip, the Pope named Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi as the successor to Navarro-Valls.

And now we have that able, affable, competent, unflappable successor to Fr. Federico Lombardi!

Will there be a successor to Greg Burke as a senior communications adviser in the Secretariat of State? Will there still be that office? Burke was the first to occupy that newly-created position four years ago. He was named deputy director of the press office in January 2016.

I cannot close without praising Fr. Lombardi’s leadership at the helm where he sailed a ship for ten years in waters that would have capsized a better boat!

He has been such a wonderful presence over the years – his calm, his knowledge, his availability, his extraordinary thoroughness on any topic he had to tackle – his truly encyclopedia knowledge! He had the knack of telling the world – especially vis-a-vis Pope Francis – what the Pope meant to say when his words created doubt or confusion, without every saying “What the Holy Father meant was…..”

I wonder if anyone else at the Vatican has lost as much sleep – and surely countles meals! – as Fr. Lombardi!

These words are altogether too few to express ny heartfelt thanks to this great and very humble man who has been our guide, guardian and mentor for ten years!

PRESS OFFICE ON LEAKS OF VATICAN DOCUMENTS – CONGREGATION ADDRESSES NEWS REPORTS ON ITS REAL ESTATE HOLDINGS

Pope Francis is back on Twitter!  Here is his November 12 tweet, the first since October 31:  As Christians, we are called to imitate the Good Shepherd and to help families experiencing difficulties.

PRESS OFFICE ON LEAKS OF VATICAN DOCUMENTS

Wednesday afternoon the following statement was released by the Holy See Press Office relative to news reports of alleged illicit financial activity by a Vatican office:

“In recent days articles have appeared in various media organs and news agencies that refer in a partial and imprecise fashion to the content of a confidential document, hypothesizing that in the past APSA has been exploited for an illicit financial activity. The Vatican’s judicial authority has opened an investigation in regard to the diffusion of this document. APSA (Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See) has always collaborated with the competent bodies, it is not the subject of an investigation and it continues to undertake its own activity with respect to norms in force.”

FR. FEDERICO LOMBARDI

Later Wednesday afternoon, the Holy See Press Office issued an additional statement on Wednesday that confirmed that a pair of Italian journalists are under investigation by Vatican police (the Gendarmeria), under the direction of judicial magistrates probing the leak of confidential documents that allegedly indicate mismanagement at high levels of the Roman Curia. (Vatican Radio)

Journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi each wrote a book released earlier this month, claiming to give details of what they describe as resistance to the Holy Father’s efforts to reform the machinery of central Church governance.

In his statement, Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ, said other officials are under scrutiny for possible involvement in the document leak as well.

Following is the full text of Fr. Lombardi’s statement, in Vatican Radio’s English translation:

The Vatican Gendarmeria, in its capacity as judicial police, had informed the Vatican judiciary of the operations of two journalists [Gianluigi] Nuzzi and [Emiliano] Fittipaldi, in connection with [their] possible participation in dissemination of reserved information and confidential documents – a crime under the Vatican City criminal code (Law n.IX SCV, of 13 July 2013 Art. 116b).

In the investigative activity already undertaken, the Judiciary has acquired elements of evidence of the fact of the two journalists’ involvement in the offense, who therefore are now under investigation.

The situations of other persons who, owing to their official positions, could have cooperated in the acquisition of the reserved documents in question, are also under investigation.

CONGREGATION ADDRESSES NEWS REPORTS ON ITS REAL ESTATE HOLDINGS

(VIS) – The following is the full text of the communique issued yesterday afternoon by the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples on news relating to its ownership of real estate.

“The Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, also known as ‘Propaganda Fide’, adheres fully to the Holy Father Francis’ line of thought and guidance with regard to the life and reform of the Roman Curia; in addition, it his committed to pursuing the institutional aims set forth in the Apostolic Constitution ‘Pastor Bonus’, as well as respecting the will of donors who over the years have contributed to its missionary work. Therefore, it welcomes all the administrative reforms anticipated by the Secretary for the Economy and submits all the budgets and final accounts to the latter.

“Certain insinuations on the part of certain sectors of the media, which circulate news not corresponding to the truth, are therefore unacceptable. It has been written, for example, that the Congregation offers luxury properties for rent at low prices as favours, and even that it hosts a spa or is the proprietor of the Hotel Priscilla.

“The real estate belonging to the Congregation, donated for the Missions, is rented at market value; there are exceptions in the case of situations of poverty. The aforementioned properties are rented in accordance with current Italian legislation, to which both the Congregation as the owner and the recipient are subject.

“The income deriving from the rent of these properties, for which regular tax is paid in Italy (in 2014 the Dicastery paid IMU – imposta municipale unica, property tax, of 2,169,200 euros in Rome alone) is destined principally for the maintenance of the Congregation, the Pontifical Urbanian University, the Pontifical Collegio Urbano, the missionary institutions and young Churches in the mission territories.

“Propaganda Fide is grateful to the benefactors who, with its help, make it possible for the Gospel to be announced and provide support for innumerable educational, social and healthcare initiatives in the poorest countries.

“We wish to clarify that, should such dissemination of false or biased information recur, this Congregation will be obliged to protect its image in the appropriate forums.”

SAINTS ARE AMONG US IN OUR DAILY LIVES, OUR FAMILIES, OUR NEIGHBORS – VATICAN ARRESTS TWO PEOPLE, INCLUDING HIGH RANKING MONSIGNOR

Pope Francis tweeted on October 31:   Vanity not only distances us from God: it makes us look ridiculous.

As I re-read that papal tweet before writing the following story on the arrest of a priest and lay woman in the Vatican over the weekend, it almost seemed fitting for today’s news. One could, however, add another adjective or two after the word “ridiculous.”

I fully intended to dedicate this column to Pope Francis’ marvelous Angelus yesterday, the Solemnity of All Saints, as well as his afternoon Mass at Verano cemetery but feel that this story – which falls into the journalism “creed” of “if it bleeds, it leads” – needed some background information.

So as not to leave you bereft of the lovely papal thoughts, below is a very small nutshell version of the Angelus – enough to start you seriously thinking about how you can become a saint. You see, I am sure that most people want to be good, holy people and perhaps even saints someday, and so his words at the Angelus become meaningful and encouraging.

As I wrote those words, I had a sudden flashback to the visit a few years ago of one of the sisters of my freshman year college roommate at St. Mary’s of Notre Dame. At the end of freshman year I had gone to California to visit Mary, her folks and her 7 siblings for several weeks. Mary’s sister Kathy said she was always struck by how I answered her Dad at the dinner table one night when he asked what I wanted to be, and I replied, “a saint.” And now, Pope Francis has encouraged me!

By the way, today, the feast of All Souls is a holiday in the Vatican. At 6 pm today, Pope Francis went down to the Vatican Gottoes to pray at the tombs of deceased Roman Pontiffs (I believe there are 19).

VATICAN GROTTOES

SAINTS ARE AMONG US IN OUR DAILY LIVES, OUR FAMILIES, OUR NEIGHBORS

As is tradition in Rome on the November 1 Solemnity of All Saints, Pope Francis on Sunday celebrated Mass at Verano cemetery, Rome’s largest, where he spiritually joined all who, throughout the world in these days, pray on the tombs of their loved ones. In his homily on the Gospel account of the Beatitudes, the Pope said the Beatitudes are “the path of holiness, and the same path of happiness. It is the path Jesus has taken; indeed, Jesus Himself is this path.” (photo: news.va)

VERANO

Earlier, as he recited the Angelus with the tens of thousands of faithful in St. Peter’s Square on a slendid, springlike November day, hee explained that saints lived their lives in the grace of Baptism, behaving like children of God, trying to imitate Jesus. In fact, the Pope ad libbed “We are all children of God. Thus, we bear his name. His name is part of ours!  Isn’t that marvelous!”

ANGELUS - ALL SAINTS

Francis noted that saints are not only those who have been canonized, but can be anyone from our next door neighbors, to members of our own families or others we have met as we live our ordinary lives. “How many good people have we met in our lives; how often do we exclaim: ‘this person is a saint!’… These are the saints who live next door, not the ones who are canonized, but the ones who live with us.” He sytressed that “we must be grateful to these saintly people and to God for having given them to us as examples of how to live and die in fidelity to God and to the Gospel.”

What can one do to become a saint? The Hoy Father surely answered when he said: “Acts of tenderness, of generous help, of closeness can appear insignificant, but in God’s eyes they are eternal, because love and mercy are stronger than death.”

VATICAN ARRESTS TWO PEOPLE, INCLUDING HIGH RANKING MONSIGNOR 

A statement was released today by the Holy See Press Office regarding the arrests over the weekend of two people, including a high ranking monsignor, who have been accused of removing and disseminating private and confidential Vatican documents. By Vatican law, this is an offense.

Following is the English language translation of that statement in Italian by Fr. Tom Rosica, English language assistant to the press office:

“As part of criminal investigations carried out by the Vatican Gendarmerie that have been underway for several months involving the removal and dissementation of news and confidential documents, last Saturday and Sunday two individuals were called in for questioning on the basis of the evidence gathered.

The individuals are an ecclesiastic, Msgr. Lucio Angel Vallegjo Balda and Doctor Francesca Chaouqui, who in the past were respectively secretary and member of COSEA (Commission charged to study and address the organization of Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See, established by the Pope in July 2013 and subsequently dissolved after the completion of its mandate).

Following the results of the interrogation the two people were held in detention in view of the continuing investigation. Today the Office of the Promoter of Justice, in the persons of Professor Advocate Gian Piero Milano, Promoter of Justice, and Professor Roberto Zannotti, Assistant Promoter of Justice, has validated the arrest of the above individuals, but they released Dr. Chaouqui, against whom there were no precautionary requirements and also due to the fact that she cooperated with the investigation.

“The position of Msgr. Vallejo Balda remains under consideration of the Office of the Promoter of Justice.

“One should remember that disclosure of information and confidential documents is an offense under the Law no. IX of the State of Vatican City (13 July 2013) Article 10 (art. 116 bis C.P. ).

“As for the books ****announced for publication in the the next few days, let it be clearly stated at this time, as in the past, that such actions are a serious betrayal of trust granted by the Pope and, as to the authors, an operation that takes advantage of a seriously unlawful act unlawful delivery of confidential documents – an operation whose legal implications and possibly penalties are under study by the Office of the Promoter of Justice in view of possible further measures that will, if necessary, involve international cooperation. Publications of this kind do not contribute in any way to establishing clarity and truth, but rather they create confusion and partial and tendentious interpretations. We must absolutely avoid the mistake of thinking that this is a way to help the mission of the Pope.”

**** JFL notes: Two books are due out on November 5 that purport to show, via confidential and private Vatican documents and interviews, growing opposition in the Vatican to Pope Francis’ ongoing reforms in the Roman Curia, as well as allege excesses in spending, especially on residences for some prelates.

One book, “Merchants in the Temple,” is by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi who, in 2012, penned a book, “His Holiness,” that reproduced confidential letters and memos to and from Benedict XVI and his personal secretary and others that, according to the Vatican, violated the Pope’s right to privacy. He had previously aired these on an Italian television program. It was revealed in May 2012 that the Pope’s personal butler was the author of the thefts and the person who gave the documents to Nuzzi. This eventually led to the affair being called “Vatileaks.” The butler, Paolo Gabriele, was arrested, underwent a trial and was subjected to house arrest, but later pardoned by Pope Benedict.

The second volume is “Avarice: Documents Revealing Wealth, Scandals and Secrets of Francis’ Church.” It was written by Italian journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi who writes for the Italian weekly, L’Espresso, which has previously published leaked Vatican documents, including the letter by 13 cardinals to Francis at the start of the 2015 synod. That was leaked by L’Espresso staffer Sandro Magister but later proven not to be the original letter. Nor were all 13 signatories names correct.

Saturday, May 19, 2012, Holy See Press Office director, Fr. Federico Lombardi released a statement about the publication that morning of additional confidential Vatican documents, the so-calle Vatileaks documents. He said at the time:The latest publication of documents of the Holy See and private documents of the Holy Father can no longer be considered a questionable – and objectively defamatory – journalistic initiative, but clearly assumes the character of a criminal act.”

The Commission of which the two persons arrested were members, was instituted in July 2013 by Pope Francis and publicly announce a day later: “The Holy Father, by a chirograph dated 18 July, has established a Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organisation of the economic-administrative structure of the Holy See.

“The Commission will gather information, report to the Holy Father and co-operate with the Council of Cardinals for the study of the organisational and economic problems of the Holy See, in order to draft reforms of the institutions of the Holy See, with the aim of a “simplification and rationalisation of the existing bodies and more careful planning of the economic activities of all the Vatican Administrations.”

POPE FRANCIS ASKS FORGIVENESS FOR RECENT SCANDALS – PAPAL CATECHESIS: THE PROMISES WE MAKE TO CHILDREN – DAY 9 PRESS BRIEFING ON THE SYNOD – SYNOD LANGUAGE GROUPS PRESENT REFLECTIONS

POPE FRANCIS ASKS FORGIVENESS FOR RECENT SCANDALS

As thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly general audience and catechesis, 700 people who were sick or with disabilities gathered in the Paul VI Hall to watch the audience on large screens. Pope Francis noted this at the outset of the audience and asked those in St. Peter’s Square to applaud the faithful in the Paul VI Hall.

The Holy Father then began the catechesis in a very somber tone, saying, in off-the-cuff remarks: “Before I begin the catechesis, in the name of the Church, I want to ask you for forgiveness for the scandals that have occurred recently either in Rome or in the Vatican. I ask you for forgiveness.”

Francis did not specify what he meant, and papal spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, when asked by journalists, replied that he could not know what the Pope meant nor would he try to guess.

However, in what was considered a scandal for the Vatican, on the vigil of the opening of the synod on the family, a Polish priest, Msgr. Krzysztof Charamsa, a theologian who has worked at the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 2003, and also teaches at several pontifical universities, gave an interview to a prominent Italian daily, admitting publicly he was gay, had a partner and asked for changes in Church teachings on homosexuals and homosexual activity.

After his remarks, the Pope made a reference to the reading of the day that each language group hears and said, “The word of Jesus is strong today, woe to the world because of scandals. Jesus is a realist. He says it is inevitable that there will be scandals. But woe to the man who causes scandals.”

PAPAL CATECHESIS: THE PROMISES WE MAKE TO CHILDREN

Returning to the theme of the profound relationship between the Church and the family, a theme he started last week at the general audience, Pope Francis this morning spoke of the promises we make to children. He said he did not mean the many light promises we might make during the day to please them, perhaps offering candy or ice cream to encourage them to work hard at school. No, “I am talking of the most important ones, decisive for their expectations in life, for their trust in relation to other human beings, for their capacity to conceive of God’s name as a blessing.”

“Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis on the family, we now consider the promises we make to our children by bringing them into the world. The greatest of these is love; every child trusts that he or she will be loved and cared for. When that promise is broken, the result is a “scandal” which Jesus condemns, telling us that their angels in heaven stand in God’s presence (cf. Mt 18:10).

“The Church too, in Baptism, makes promises to our children, promises to be kept by parents and the Christian community as a whole. In experiencing human love, each child comes to sense the presence of a God who loves children. It is important for us to foster this mysterious relationship by leaving room for God in their young lives.

“Parents, in and through the love they show for their children, help them to appreciate their identity and uniqueness as sons and daughters of God. Jesus taught us to become like little children; in protecting our children, and protecting the family, may we keep the great promise which God has given to us in them, and through them, to our human family.”

DAY 9 PRESS BRIEFING ON THE SYNOD

Click here for a Vatican Radio report on the press briefing : http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2015/10/14/synod_on_the_family_press_briefing_day_9/1179307

In addition to papal spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, Synod Fathers today included Cardinals Vincent Nichols of Westminster, Phillippe Ouedraogo from Burkina Faso and Rubén Salazar Gomez from Colombia.

20151014_130410

In his remarks before a Q&A session, Cardinal Nichols said he had attended previous synods, adding, “for me this one has similarities and differences with the others. The similarities are that we work hard and get tired. I have heard over 200 speeches, for example. The differences? The interplay between plenary and small (language) groups. Their work shows energy and creativity, we see growing friendships in groups.”

20151014_131940

Cardinal Nichols pointed out that the Instrumentum laboris, or working document, has complicated the synod process by combining two sources in one document, that is, the end document of the 2014 synod with its own logic and flow of thought and then we have the results of the questionnaire that was the preparation to the current synod. He said the synod needs much stronger theological theme, noting there were creative suggestions about theological framework in 4 or 5 of the talks.

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He was asked if he hoped the Pope would write a final document: “I hope the Pope will write a magisterial document. My own instinct is that the Pope has asked us and encouraged us to speak freely. He has established the Jubilee Year to create a context in which he can put his definitive statements about the synod process.”

Cardinal Salazar Gomez, speaking his native Spanish, has been in two previous synods and noted that they had propositions at the end of all the meetings. With the new synod methodology, he said we do not know if there will be propositions this year. Will the Pope write a document? Will we be contributing? He did say this synod was a continuation of the problems expressed in the past and yet a look at new challenges, perspectives. He said the current synod is a very broad inquest to listen to the voices of families, of individuals, of those who are troubled. People are speaking with enormous liberty. There is great desire to show the world what the Catholic Church teaches and believes about the family and marriage.

Burkina Faso Cardinal Ouedraogo spoke in French. He said, “I am in a family by coming to this synod.” He said that Africa cannot be generalized, there are many different cultures in Africa, different realities, different hopes. Africa seems like a forest of many different, beautiful trees. The cardinal said he hopes this synod will tell us about God’s project for the family, for marriage. It is so important to know this plan. It is important to preserve the Magisterium in the midst of all these differences. We must teach the fundamental value of the family. There must be pastoral availability to meet all the challenges – the divorced and remarried a reception of the sacraments, mixed marriages, polygamy.

Answering a question about the amount of time the Synod Fathers spend discussing mercy, Cardinal Nichols said, “we have to prove there is no conflict between justice and mercy, as there is a profound relationship between justice and mercy. He noted that the German language group report was the most theological: it spoke of mercy, truth, grace and justice. And he said, “we need wisdom to attend to situations.”

All three highlighted the universality of the church but also its “particular” nature, the local Church, the diverse cultural contexts of the isues being discussed in the synod.

Answering a final question at the press briefing, Cardinal Nichols noted the word “stalemate” used by the questioner and said emphatically, “My experience has not been one of a stalemate at all.  We are a family and families have differences. We took our lead from what Pope Francis said the second morning, that is, we should not be guided by a ‘hermeneutic of conflict.’ My sense is that of a great desire by all to explore many issues but there is certainly no sense of negativity.”

SYNOD LANGUAGE GROUPS PRESENT REFLECTIONS

(VIS) – During this morning’s General Congregation the various working groups presented to the Synod Fathers the result of their reflections on the second part of the Instrumentum Laboris.

Almost all the groups agreed on the need for the final document of the Synod to use the language of biblical theology and, as affirmed by the French group B, to be clear and simple, avoiding ambiguity and misunderstandings that may impair understanding of the mission and the vocation of the family in the Church and in the world. It will be necessary to take into account the fragility and the suffering of the family, without overstating the current situation, as these problems have always existed. The emphasis on this dimension leads the group to stress that the Church accompanies all her children, and must proclaim the Gospel and its call to conversion.

The English group B comments that the final document should illustrate how divine pedagogy for marriage and the family has accompanied the entire history of salvation and continues right until our day. “We propose … [beginning] with Genesis, which already provide a definition of marriage as a unique union between a man and a woman, so total and intimate that because of it a man must leave his father and mother in order to be united with his wife. This account of the creation of marriage presents also the three basic characteristics of marriage, as it was in the beginning – monogamy, permanence, and equality of the sexes. … But the divine pedagogy of salvation history concerning marriage and the family reached its climax with the Son of God’s entry in human history”. The group acknowledges that “It is only through reflection on the divine pedagogy that we will understand our ministry as mirroring God’s patience and mercy. The divine plan continues even in our time. It is the divine pedagogy which provides content and tone for the teaching of the Church”. With regard to the difficult situations to be examined in the third part, the group emphasises that “we should always remember that God never gives up on his mercy. It is mercy which reveals God’s true face. God’s mercy reaches out to all of us, especially to those who suffer, those who are weak, and those who fail”.

The French group, whose rapporteur is Archbishop Laurent Ulrich of Lille, France, also speaks about divine pedagogy, and proposes “emphasising the many encounters between Jesus and families” throughout the Gospels, reaffirming that “divine pedagogy acts in all biblical revelation and must continue to be experienced by the Church, following families in their joys and sorrows”. Another observation of this group, that resonates widely, is that the Relatio should express a broader conceptual unity and not speak about indissolubility as if it were its only concern. “Fidelity and indissolubility should be referred to as a gift and call, rather than in the legal terms of duty; they should not be perceived as superimposed on commitment, but rather as deeply integrated into the language of love and within its theological dimension. Marriage should be considered as a call to love and communion”.

The Spanish group recommends that emphasis be placed on gradualness and processuality in understanding the process by which God communicates the grace of the Covenant, educating by taking into account each person, progressively, in their community, correcting, accompanying and forgiving. As part of divine pedagogy, processuality is also present in Tradition and in the Aparecida document, notes the rapporteur Cardinal Jose Luis Lacunza Maestrojuan. “There are expressions that render marriage and the family absolute, while Jesus relativises them in the Kingdom of God. There are encounters between Jesus and specific persons in specific contexts, but it emphasis should be given to those that occur in the context of the family: Lazarus and his family, Peter and his family … Jesus always opens doors. God’s faithfulness is expressed in the sacrament of marriage, but in a human way: ‘quidquid recipitur, ad modum recipientis recipitur’. The indissoluble fidelity of marriage is a mystery that includes fragility. We have a theology of the family and the marriage, but more closely linked to morality. The Magisterium should present the Gospel of the family in an organic and integrated from. Following the thesis of the ‘semina Verbi’, the many positive values in other types of families cannot be overlooked”.

Several groups attribute great importance to the preparation of young couples for marriage and the need to support them on their journey. While the French group B notes a significant reduction in marriages in European capitals, the Latin American Cardinal Lacunza clarifies that “when talking about young people and marriage, it is done from the perspective of fear, which is not enough, it is an anthropological question: they live in the moment, ‘for ever’ does not fit in with their way of thinking”. Perhaps we could speak about informality: perhaps we have surrounded marriage with so many formalities that do not fit into the minds of young people who often identify formality with hypocrisy. Moreover, to say that they are afraid or do not dare would contradict the experience of many young people who accept the risk of volunteer work or risk for political or other struggles”.

The French group B also reports that the members have voted unanimously in favour of the proposal that “the proclamation of the Gospel of the family today demands a magisterial intervention to simplify and render more coherent the current canonical theological doctrine on marriage”, and that it must support the definition of the family “as a subject of pastoral action”.

In this regard, the French group, whose rapporteur is Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Canada, notes that “shared pastoral experiences lead us to see that in the Church, speaking about families means speaking about a human reality that is inscribed in time and in space. … Every family has its genealogy that entrenches it in a history and a culture. … This complexity is the place and the occasion for the manifestation of the mystery and the mercy of God. We wish to express our hope that the Synod will open up a period of patient seeking by theologians and pastors with the intention of establishing the correct directions for family pastoral ministry, translating the horizon of the family to a horizon of communion. We are less in need of adaptations of universal discipline than a solid basis for reflection and pastoral commitment”.

The concept of family as mission is also recurrent. The Italian group C speaks about the “evangelising value of marriage and the family” and calls for a “new style of closeness to families on the part of the Church, a contagious closeness, a strong and demanding tenderness”. The members insist that “the Christian community should be a family of families, measuring its pastoral action according to the style of the family and transmitting in this way a humanising force to the life of the world, to overcome the tendency towards individualism”.

“The Synod Fathers have found it very useful to refer to Pope Francis’ catechesis on the need to harmonise an appreciation of the sacramentality of marriage and attention to its creaturely dimension”, write the members of the Italian group A, who also call for the text of the Instrumentum Laboris to be completed with the addition of the spiritual and pneumatological dimension, open to the sensibility of the Eastern tradition. Translated into a more concrete proposal, this makes more explicit the primacy of grace, the recognition of sin and the need to inspire conversion. Grace does not act only at the time of the celebration of the sacrament but rather throughout life, as it is a permanent sacrament like the Eucharist”.

Archbishop Coleridge of the English group C, comments on “the need to explore further the possibility of couples who are civilly married or cohabiting beginning a journey towards sacramental marriage and being encouraged and accompanied on that journey.” In English group D, a number of bishops emphasised that the document should explore further the role of women, recalling that many suffer abuse by their husbands. “We need to be realistic about marital problems rather than simply encouraging people to stay together”, the text affirms. In the same group, another prelate remarks that “exemplary families are sometimes difficult for people in painful circumstances to see as positive”. Some bishops suggest that the text present the canonical reasons for separation of spouses and reasons for seeking an annulment.

Another common concept is the vocation to family life and family spirituality, and therefore the English group A, whose rapporteur is Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, suggests a consideration of best practices, “which would show families how to more fully and faithfully live out their vocation”. These would include receiving the Word of God in the family, family catechesis and the explicit encouragement of the use of para-liturgical prayers and rituals within the family setting.

Archbishop Coleridge’s group also suggests that the final document present a series of clear initiatives or strategies to help families and to support those in difficulty, in harmony with the essentially practical nature of this second Synod on the family.

The English group A notes that “in the past, the Holy Father often used the final approved texts as a basis for an Apostolic Exhortation and we spoke of the fruitfulness of this approach. However, we recognise the limitations of a document that will be approved at the conclusion of this Synod. Though every effort should be made to provide for streamlined, attractive language, a primary concern was the clarity of well-grounded explanations of Church teaching on marriage and the family”.

Again considering the final document, the Spanish group B considers the approach of the Synod. “The doctrine is known”, its members write, “but the needs of reality and the new emphases of theological reflection must be taken into account in order to truly make a meaningful contribution. More explicit reference is suggested to texts from both the Old and New Testaments (God’s nuptial love for His people), as well as the rich post-conciliar Magisterium on the family”.

The Italian group B comments on the need for a magisterial document: “given that the Synod is not able to respond to the need to reorder in a complete and exhaustive document the complex and diversified doctrine on marriage and the family, it is necessary, on the one hand, to require a magisterial document that responds to this need, and on the other, to consider the pastoral aspects relevant to the issue. In this respect, the Fathers express the need to consider the mission specific to pastoral mediation in the transmission of doctrine”.