BIRTHDAY WISHES FOR POPE FRANCIS? A PIECE OF CAKE! – IOR APPOINTS 3 NEW MEMBERS TO BOARD OF SUPERINTENDENCE

The big story of the day for me was Pope Francis’ audience in the Paul VI Hall with young patients, their families and the hospital staff of Rome’s ‘Bambino Gesù’ Children’s Hospital. I posted the text of his remarks and an EWTN video for “Vaticano” on my FB page (facebook.com/joan.lewis.10420).

Two further news stories may interest you. Have a sweet tooth? The first story is for you.  Have an account at the Vatican Bank? Then the second piece of news is for you.

BIRTHDAY WISHES FOR POPE FRANCIS? A PIECE OF CAKE!

In celebration of Pope Francis 80th birthday on Saturday, a group of chefs presented the Pope with a huge birthday cake on Wednesday.

Pope-cake

Papal colors of white and gold adorned the big round cake and topped with a huge ball designed as a globe. As a sign of peace, chefs also decorated the cake with sprigs of olive trees.

Early Wednesday, thousands of people attended the Pope’s General Audience and sang the Italian version of “Happy Birthday to You.” Pope Francis thanked the audience and candidly joked about the bad luck of early birthday wishes.

Pope Francis Birthday cake

The Pope said, “Thank you very much for your greetings for my upcoming birthday.” The gathering served as the last public appearance of the Pope before his birthday. He then added, “But I’ll tell you something that will make you laugh. In my country, expressing greetings ahead of time brings bad luck and those who do it are jinxers.”

80 years of age signifies an important milestone for Catholic prelates, particularly to those who work at the Vatican.

The age limit for a cardinal to join in a conclave to vote for a pope is 80 years. Furthermore, they were relieved from serving Vatican congregations and councils which they attended.

On the other hand, the Pope does not have any limitations.

Everyone can now send birthday greetings to Pope Francis. The Vatican set up seven unique emails addresses earlier this month, which includes an English counterpart PopeFrancis80@vatican.va. Also, hashtag #Pontifex80 created in social media for the Pope’s birthday celebration.

Parliamentarians in the UK proposed an action for the House of Commons to greet the Pope on his birthday. Nine MPs already signed the motion from the Conservative and the Labour party. (www.newsline.com)

IOR APPOINTS 3 NEW MEMBERS TO BOARD OF SUPERINTENDENCE

(Vatican Radio) The Vatican on Thursday announced the Cardinals Commission of Vigilance of the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), commonly known as the Vatican Bank, has appointed Mr. Scott C. Malpass, Javier Marín Romano and Georg Freiherr von Boeselager as members of the IOR Board of Superintendence, bringing the total number of members to seven.

ior

Mr. Malpass, from the United States, has held various prestigious positions and has served for over 25 years as Chief Investment Officer for Notre Dame University in the United States, where he works in the field of investment in conformity with the social doctrine of the Church, and teaches courses in the field of investment research at the same University.

Mr. Marín, from Spain, enjoys a wealth of experience in banking and in particular has held various positions for Banco Santander, including Chief Executive Officer and as Head of the Private Banking, Asset Management and Insurance Division.

Mr. von Boeselager, of German nationality, has worked for many years in the private banking field and presently holds the position of Head of the Supervisory Board of Merck Finck & Privatbankiers AG, in Munich.

The three new members, each enjoying broad experience in the financial field, will meet together with the present members of the Board at their next meeting, scheduled for January, 2017.

GOD LISTENS TO, ANSWERS THOSE WHO PERSEVERE IN PRAYER – HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE ON IOR BOARD RESIGNATIONS – IOR ACCOUNTS OF ITALIAN ENTREPRENEUR SEIZED

I laughed out loud today when I realized the focus of the Pope’s catechesis on perseverance in prayer came from the Gospel story in Luke 18 that Francis described as “the parable of the unjust judge and the widow (Lk 18:1-8)…. (where) even an unscrupulous judge will finally render justice to a poor woman because of her persistence.”

Here are verses 1-8: “Then he told them a parable about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary. He said, 2 There was a judge in a certain town who neither feared God nor respected any human being. 3And a widow in that town used to come to him and say, ‘Render a just decision for me against my adversary.’ 4For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought, ‘While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, 5 because this widow keeps bothering me I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me.’” 6 The Lord said, “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says. 7 Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night? Will he be slow to answer them? 8 I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily. But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”

Why did I laugh? Because Luke 18 was my defender in July 2004 when, for nth time I visited the Vatican office at APSA (Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See) in charge of rental apartments to inquire how my application for a Vatican-owned apartment was proceeding.

To back up a bit: I arrived in Rome in August of 1990 to take up the position I had been offered at the Vatican Information Service the preceding May when I was in Rome on vacation. I had arranged temporary lodgings starting in late August but had to look for something more permanent.

The head of the Holy See Press Office at the time, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, told me I should put in an application at APSA for one of the apartments they owned, many of which were set aside at somewhat subsidized rents for Vatican employees whose salaries were notoriously low. Private Rome rents were usually so high as to be prohibitive on a Vatican salary.

In January 1991 I filled out an APSA application for rental. I well remember the gentleman who accepted that application, telling me “it will be at least five years before you may be called.” Astonished, I replied, somewhat jokingly, that I hoped to still be alive then.

If you want to know what perseverance is – the perseverance that St. Luke and Pope Francis spoke about – mine was biblical in breadth and depth.

By July of 2004, having moved several times in Rome, I had seen so many Vatican-owned apartments that my head was spinning. Only one met my requirements and the monthly rent was well above my monthly salary. With one exception, all the rest were in terrible shape and required work that went well beyond what I could have afforded. The very first one shown to me was in a sub-basement and so small that it almost defied description.

My house-hunting adventures became the stuff of lore. Friends were constantly asking, “What’s the latest?” and they couldn’t wait for the story.

I know the Vatican had reasonable apartments because I saw the homes of my friends. However, they had also put a lot of money into them as most were fixer-uppers. The really beautiful homes – already fixed up – were priced beyond our salaries.

July 2004: I made yet another appointment to see about an apartment. The night before the appointment I thought of the Gospel story of the widow but could not remember where to find it. I did a Google search and found Luke 18 and that was my sole weapon when I went to APSA.

I told the monsignor that, notwithstanding the amazingly long time that had passed since my application and notwithstanding the fact I had to say ‘no’ to a number of apartments, “I will be exactly like the widow in Luke 18 and will persevere until the very end.”

Two weeks later I was shown the apartment that I live in today!

GOD LISTENS TO, ANSWERS THOSE WHO PERSEVERE IN PRAYER

In what was another first for Pope Francis, he began his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday by greeting people in sign language, according to Vatican Radio.

POPE - sign language

The message of greeting – which involves raising one’s arms, and then turning your hand with the palms out – was for a pilgrimage group from the National Board for the Deaf, which is based in Florence. There was also a group of pilgrims from the Italian Union of the Blind, based in Latina.

Pope Francis’ catechesis today focuse on perseverance in prayer.

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” he began. “In our continuing catechesis for this Holy Year of Mercy, we now turn to the parable of the unjust judge and the widow (Lk 18:1-8).  In telling us that even an unscrupulous judge will finally render justice to a poor woman because of her persistence, Jesus encourages us to persevere in prayer to our heavenly Father, who is infinitely just and loving.  He also assures us that God will not only hear our prayers, but will not delay in answering them (vv. 7-8).

The Pope noted that, “the Gospels tell us that Jesus himself prayed constantly.  His own intense prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is a model for our own: it teaches us to present our petitions with complete trust in Father’s gracious will.  The parable of the unjust judge and the widow ends with a pointed question: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth”? (v. 8).

“Perseverance in prayer,” concluded Francis, “keeps our faith alive and strong.  For in that prayer, we experience the compassion of God who, like a Father filled with love and mercy, is ever ready to come to the aid of his children. (photo: news.va)

Ag May 25

At the end of the general audience, the Holy Father prayed for the victims of the atrocious coordinated terrorist attacks that took place in the Syrian cities of Jableh and Tartus on Monday, killing over 160 people.

“I exhort everyone to pray to the merciful Father, to pray to the Madonna, that [God] might give eternal rest to the victims, and consolation to their families, and might convert the hearts of those who sow death and destruction.” The Pope and pilgrims then prayed the Hail Mary together.

Funerals for the victims began on Tuesday in Syria.

Francis also noted that today is International Missing Children’s Day at his General Audience on Wednesday. This day was established by U.S. President Ronalòd Reagan in 1983, following the disappearance four years earlier of 6-year-old Etan Patz in New York City. He was last seen on May 25, 1979 and that day was chosen for the annual commemoration, which is now also celebrated internationally.

The Pope said, “It is everyone’s duty to protect children, especially those exposed to elevated risk of exploitation, trafficking, and deviant conduct.” He also expressed the hope that “civil and religious authorities might stir consciences and raise awareness, in order to avoid indifference in the face of children on their own, exploited children, and children far from their families and their social context, children who cannot grow-up peacefully or look with hope to the future. … Pray that each of them might be restored to the affection of their loved ones.”

In special words for the sick and suffering, Francis noted that Wednesday was the feast of Pope St. Gregory VII. “May he encourage you, dear sick people, to confront your moments of suffering with faith.”

HOLY SEE PRESS OFFICE ON IOR BOARD RESIGNATIONS

“With the recent approval and publication of the Annual Report of the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR) having been completed in a positive manner, two members of the Board of Superintendence, Clemens Börsig and Carlo Salvatori, in accordance with current rules, recently presented their resignations to the President of the Cardinals’ Commission of the IOR. The decision can be seen in light of legitimate reflections and opinions concerning the management of an Institute whose nature and purpose are as particular as those of the IOR.

“The two board members made a competent and qualified contribution in this important phase for the stability and integrity of the Institute, and its conformity not only to internal Vatican regulations, but also obligations taken by the Holy See on a European level.

“The President of the Cardinals’ Commission thanked the two members of the board, and accepted the resignations. A phase now begins, fully respecting the procedures in place, to find and evaluate new candidates suitable to fill the positions on the Board of Superintendence.”

IOR ACCOUNTS OF ITALIAN ENTREPRENEUR SEIZED

From the Holy See Press Office today: With regard to reports that have appeared in the Italian press in recent days on the bankruptcy of the company “Edil Ars” and the proceedings against the entrepreneur Mr. Angelo Proietti, it is to be noted that:

1)  The competent Authorities of the Holy See and the Vatican City State initiated the investigation established by the Vatican legislation in 2013, taking action on the basis of Suspicious Transaction Reports relating to Mr. Proietti, seizing all the relevant financial resources.

2)  Since the start of the investigation the competent Authorities of the Holy See and the Vatican City State requested the cooperation and exchanged information with the competent Italian Authorities, as required by the respective legislation and the Memoranda of Understanding in force.

3)  A criminal investigation is currently going on in the Vatican City State and the competent Authorities are assessing the existence of potential offences against entities of the Holy See and the Vatican City State.

POPE FRANCIS MEETS WITH IOR BOARD OF DIRECTORS – POPE NAMES BISHOP TO HEAD ORDINARIATE OF CHAIR OF PETER – WHAT IS A PERSONAL ORDINARIATE? READ ON….

A good friend, Fr. Steven Lopes, was just named today to a very important post in the United States – a good news/bad news announcement. Good news, obviously, for Fr. Steven but bad for those of us here in Rome who have enjoyed his friendship for so many years. I will talk about the Ordinariate to which he was named in the story below and give you some background on the Personal Ordinariate, its history and early beginnings in the UK.

I met with the very first Ordinary, Msgr. Keith Newton, exactly two weeks after the big announcement was made on January 15, 2011 in London. I’ve followed the Personal Ordinariate since its institution by Pope Benedict in 2009, as you may remember from these pages and my interviews on Vatican Insider.  I spent 5 days in London in January 2011 researching the newly established Ordinariate and interviewing people.

Part of my report comes from the columns I wrote in London and part from the Ordinariate media office which published a news letter immediately after the announcement today in Rome. I also feature a Q&A from 2011 that explains the Personal Ordinariate quite well. The Ordinariate has a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/CSPOrdinariate

God speed, Bishop-elect Steven!  May God sit on your shoulder! May we meet again at “La Vittoria” to break bread before your permanent departure for Houston!  Our paths crossed last week at La Vittoria: Fr. Steve and a friend were leaving and I was arriving and Fr. Keyes took a photo and posted it on my Facebook page on Nov. 20.

STEVE LOPES

POPE FRANCIS MEETS WITH IOR BOARD OF DIRECTORS

A brief Vatican communique this morning noted that, about 10:30 today, Pope Francis visited IOR, the Institute for the Works of Religion commonly called the Vatican bank. He met with the Board of Directors for approximately twenty minutes, at which time he announced the appointment of Dr. Gian Franco Mammi as the new director general. He will be assisted by Dr. Giulio Mattietti, pending the selection of a new deputy director. (photo: L’Osservatore Romano)IOR - Pope

POPE NAMES BISHOP TO HEAD ORDINARIATE OF CHAIR OF PETER

The Vatican announced today that Pope Francis has appointed Msgr. Steven Lopes as the first bishop Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of The Chair of St. Peter. The bishop-elect was born in Fremont, California and was ordained a priest in 2001. He holds a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and is currently an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The Personal Ordinariate is a structure equivalent to a diocese for Roman Catholics who were raised in the Anglican tradition. The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter was established by Pope Benedict on January 1, 2012, with its headquarters in Houston, Texas. Instituted to serve Roman Catholics across the U.S. and Canada, it is the first diocese of its kind in North America. The Ordinariate was created to provide a path for groups of Anglicans to become fully Roman Catholic, while retaining elements of their worship traditions and spiritual heritage in their union with the Holy Roman Church.

The first such Ordinariate was the Personal Ordiniariate of our Lady of Walsingham. On Saturday, January 15, 2011 the Vatican announced that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith erected a Personal Ordinariate within the territory of England and Wales for those groups of Anglican clergy and faithful who have expressed their desire to enter into full visible communion with the Catholic Church. This was in accordance with the provisions of Pope Benedict’s November 4, 2009 Apostolic Constitution ‘Anglicanorum coetibus’ that provided for the erection of such an ordinariate and came after careful consultation with the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales.

The Vatican statement announcing the first Ordinariate noted that, “For doctrinal reasons, the Church does not, in any circumstances, allow the ordination of married men as bishops. However, the Apostolic Constitution does provide, under certain conditions, for the ordination as Catholic priests of former Anglican married clergy.” Keith Newton, a married bishop in the Anglican tradition, was named as the first ordinary of Walsingham. He may wear his episcopal attire but has the title ‘Monsignor’.

Bishop-elect Lopes’ appointment comes just five days before the Ordinariate begins using Divine Worship: The Missal, a new book of liturgical texts for the celebration of Mass in the Personal Ordinariates around the globe. The texts were approved by the Vatican for use beginning the first Sunday of Advent, Nov. 29, 2015.

Bishop-elect Lopes was directly involved in developing these texts for worship: since 2011, he has served as the executive coordinator of the Vatican commission, Anglicanae Traditiones, which produced the new texts. The new missal is a milestone in the life of the Ordinariate, since the Ordinariate’s mission is particularly expressed through the reverence and beauty of its worship, which shares the treasury of the Anglican liturgical and musical traditions with the wider Catholic community.

The Ordinariate news release explained that Msgr. Jeffrey N. Steenson, who headed the Ordinariate of the Chair of Peter since 2012, introduced Bishop-elect Lopes at a news conference today at the Chancery Offices of the Ordinariate in Houston. “With this appointment,” it says, “Pope Francis affirms and amplifies Pope Benedict’s vision for Christian unity, in which diverse expressions of one faith are joined together in the Church.”

By naming Bishop-elect Lopes, the Pope has confirmed that the Ordinariate is a permanent, enduring part of the Catholic Church, like any other diocese – one that is now given a bishop so that it may deepen its contribution to the life of the Church and the world.

WHAT IS A PERSONAL ORDINARIATE?  READ ON….

The following Q&A was part of a lengthy communiqué issued by the Bishops Conference of England and Wales at the historic announcement of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham on January 15, 2011:

Why did Pope Benedict XVI publish Anglicanorum coetibus?

As the Holy Father stated when he published “Anglicanorum coetibus,” he was responding to petitions received “repeatedly and insistently” by him from groups of Anglicans wishing “to be received into full communion individually as well as corporately” with the Catholic Church. During his address to the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales at Oscott last September, Pope Benedict was therefore keen to stress that the Apostolic Constitution “should be seen as a prophetic gesture that can contribute positively to the developing relations between Anglicans and Catholics. It helps us to set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion in the context of which the mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies serves as an enrichment to us all.”  In this way, the establishment of the Ordinariate is clearly intended to serve the wider and unchanging aim of the full visible unity between the Catholic Church and the members of the Anglican Communion.

Will members of the Ordinariate still be Anglicans?

No. Members of the Ordinariate will be Catholics. Their decision is to leave the Anglican Communion and come into the Catholic Church, in full communion with the Pope. The central purpose of Anglicanorum coetibus is “to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared”. Members of the Ordinariate will bring with them, into full communion with the Catholic Church in all its diversity and richness of liturgical rites and traditions, some aspects their own Anglican patrimony and culture. It is recognised that the term Anglican patrimony is difficult to define but it would include many of the spiritual writings, prayers, hymnody, and pastoral practices distinctive to the Anglican tradition which have sustained the faith and longing of many Anglican faithful for that very unity for which Christ prayed. The Ordinariate will then bring a mutual enrichment and exchange of gifts, in an authentic and visible form of full communion, between those baptised and nurtured in Anglicanism and the Catholic Church.

Do all Anglicans who wish to become Catholics now have to be members of the Ordinariate?

No. Any individual former Anglican who wishes to be received into full communion with the Catholic Church, may do so without becoming a registered member of the Ordinariate. As stated above, the Ordinariate is being established essentially for groups of former Anglican faithful and their clergy who wish to maintain as members of the Catholic Church, within the canonically approved and structured ecclesial life of the Ordinariate, those aspects of their Anglican spiritual, liturgical and pastoral tradition which are recognised as authentic by the Catholic Church.

What is the ‘Ordinariate’ then?

The Ordinariate will be a specific ecclesiastical jurisdiction that is similar to a diocese and will be led by its own ‘Ordinary’ … who will be a bishop or priest. However, unlike a diocese its membership will be on a ‘personal’ rather than a ‘territorial’ basis; that is, no matter where a member of the Ordinariate lives within England and Wales they will, in the first instance, be under the ordinary ecclesial jurisdiction of the Ordinariate and not the diocese where they are resident. The Ordinariate will be made up of laity, clergy and religious who were formerly members of the Anglican Communion. Following reception into full communion with the Catholic Church, the laity and religious will become members of the Ordinariate by enrolment in a register; with ordination as priests and deacons, the clergy will be directly incardinated into (placed under the jurisdiction of) the Ordinariate.”

 

 

VATICAN BANK REPORTS HUGE PROFIT FOR 2014 – “PEOPLE DO ME GOOD,” POPE FRANCIS TELLS PAPER

I get frequent requests from people asking how they can obtain a papal blessing for a specific person or couple or family on a specific occasion (birthday, anniversary, etc.) To be honest, if you go to Google and type “papal blessing,” before you even finish the word blessing, you will be brought to this site – all the info you need on how to order, what occasions may be used for a blessings, how to pay, etc.  Help me to help others by passing this info on to people you know who want papal blessings, and be sure to put it on your own web page or Facebook page! http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/institutions_connected/elem_apost/documents/rc_elemosineria_doc_20130218_benedizioni_en.html

I am also asked – even more frequently! – for help in planning trips. I just can’t plan your trip for you but I can give suggestions on how to visit the Vatican as you can see by the link below (it is always on my blog page). Visiting Rome is a whole other category and I simply do not have the time to assist in planning itineraries, churches to visit, etc. The Internet has very valuable information and I’m sure that some surfing will yield wonderful results. In any case, one of the real fun parts of any trip is discovering places and monuments and churches and restaurants on your own! CLICK HERE FOR PRACTICAL INFORMATION ON VISITING THE VATICAN

Today is officially an EWTN holiday and a day off  but I have some work to attend to, including posting some news. There was a plethora of news and events in the Vatican this weekend – Pentecost Sunday and the birth of our beloved Church being at the top of that list! I am sure you are busy on Memorial Day – and I hope it is a day of rest and families being together and celebrating the reason for this important American holiday. Hopefully you’ll be so busy with family and friends that you won’t have a lot of time for reading but you can pick and choose what stories you want to follow by visiting: http://www.news.va/en/source/vatican-information-service

The biggest Vatican story of the day is the one that follows about the Vatican bank!  Very heady stuff, as you will see!

Just one favor today: I ask that you keep my twin cousins, Dotty and Debby, in your prayers. Deb wrote me while I was in Turin that Dot was admitted to the hospital a week ago with pneumonia and some complications arose (not pneumonia related) and she is going down hill very rapidly. They are three months younger than me and we have always been very close. And no one can imagine (unless you are a twin) what that very special bond is like! Deb and her other sister Diane and I are in daily touch and I’ll keep you posted.

VATICAN BANK REPORTS HUGE PROFIT FOR 2014

The IOR, the Institute for Works of Religion, known more informally as the Vatican bank, released its Annual Report for 2014 on Monday. The year 2014 was an eminently positive year for the IOR, as it showed a net profit of 69.3 million Euros, a substantial increase from the 2.9 million reported in 2013. (JFL: as of today, May 25, 2015, $1 = 0.9116 Euro).(photo: Salt and Light)
IOR - 2 salt and light

Below are excerpts from that report, presented in Italian and English.

About the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR):

The “Istituto per le Opere di Religione” (IOR) is an institute founded on 27 June 1942 by Papal Decree. Its origins date back to the “Commissione ad Pias Causas” established in 1887 by Pope Leo XIII. The mission of the IOR is to serve the global mission of the Catholic Church by providing for the custody and administration of its customers’ assets, and rendering dedicated worldwide payment services to its customers. The Institute’s mission was confirmed by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, on 7 April 2014. The IOR operates from a single location – its headquarters in the Vatican City State – and is regulated by the “Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria” (AIF), the financial supervisory body for the Vatican City State.

IOR releases Annual Report 2014

  • Transformation of IOR on track, including reorganization and adjustment to Vatican regulatory standard with regard to transparency, supervision and financial information
  • Strategic, long-term plan for the Institute far advanced
  • 2014 results show positive effect of financial market developments on securities portfolio

Further strengthening of compliance, risk and control monitoring systems and audit functions well advanced under supervision of Vatican regulator AIF

As of December 31, 2014, the IOR’s equity was EUR 695m (2013: EUR 720m).

The total value of assets entrusted by customers to the IOR rose marginally to EUR 6bn in 2014 (2013: 5.9bn). (JFL: the client base approved by the bank’s board include religious orders, Catholic institutions, clergy, employees or former employees of the Vatican, and embassies and diplomats accredited to the Holy See.)

On December 31, 2014, the IOR served 15,181 customers. From May 2013 through December 2014 the IOR closed 4,614 accounts with its customers, of which 2,600 were “dormant” or inactive or small balance accounts. Another 554 accounts were closed which did not fit in the categories of authorized client accounts and a further 1,460 were terminated for natural attrition. Another 274 accounts are in the process of termination. (CNA photo)

IOR - 1

Past Abuses Reported. Cases, where the IOR was subjected to abuse in the past, have been reported to the competent Vatican authorities.

Strategic, long-term plan for the Institute far advanced.

“The long-term, strategic plan of the Institute revolves around two key objectives: putting the interests of the clients first by offering appropriate and improved services and by de-risking the activities of the Institute”, said Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, President of the Board of Superintendence since July 2014. He added “all this is done within the strong regulatory framework now in place in the Vatican and in close cooperation with AIF, the Holy See regulator.”

The strategic plan builds on the work of the Pontifical Referring Commission to the IOR (CRIOR), and the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic- Administrative Structure of the Holy See (COSEA).

“PEOPLE DO ME GOOD,” POPE FRANCIS TELLS PAPER

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis says that being with people does him good.

In a long and very personal interview with Juan Beretta, a reporter from the Argentinean newspaper “La Voz Del Pueblo”, the Pope speaks of his feelings of when he was elected Pope, of how he misses walking the streets, using public transport and sitting down for a pizza, of how he feels moved and sad when he meets sick children, prison inmates and people who’ve had no opportunities in life, of how he would like to be remembered “as someone who did some good”.

The interview, conducted in the privacy of his residence at Casa Santa Marta, offers some insights into the everyday life of Francis who says that never would he have expected to be elected as the Successor of Peter, but of how the life of a religious, “a Jesuit, undergoes change according to necessity.”

CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST: http://www.news.va/en/news/pope-speaks-with-open-heart-to-argentinean-newspap

THE WORLD NEEDS A SHARED CHRISTIAN WITNESS – POPE THANKS POLICE FOR PROTECTING PLACES OF FAITH, PILGRIMS – IOR ISSUES NOTE ON STATUTE CHANGES – NIGER: CHURCHES AND CONVENTS BURNED, SCHOOLS, CLINICS CLOSED

THE WORLD NEEDS A SHARED CHRISTIAN WITNESS

The Holy Father Thursday welcomed an ecumenical delegation of the Lutheran Church from Finland on its annual visit to Rome during the January 18 to 25 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and the feast of St. Henry of Uppsala, patron saint of Finland.

He quoted from St. John Paul who, thirty years ago, welcomed the first such delegation and said, “The fact that you come here together is itself a witness to the importance of efforts for unity. The fact that you pray together is a witness to our belief that only through the grace of God can that unity be achieved. The fact that you recite the Creed together is a witness to the one common faith of the whole of Christianity.”

Reiterating the words of Bishop Vikstrom, in Rome with the delegation, Francis said, “there is so much that Catholics and Lutherans can do together to bear witness to God’s mercy in our societies. A shared Christian witness is very much needed in the face of the mistrust, insecurity, persecution, pain and suffering experienced so widely in today’s world.”

The Pope said, “The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine on Justification which was solemnly signed some fifteen years ago between the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church, can produce further fruits of reconciliation and cooperation between us. …Let us hope that further convergence will emerge from that dialogue on the concept of the Church, the sign and instrument of the salvation brought to us in Jesus Christ.”

POPE THANKS POLICE FOR PROTECTING PLACES OF FAITH, PILGRIMS

Thursday morning Pope Francis received a group of agents from the General Inspectorate for Public Security in the Vatican as it celebrates the 70th anniversary of the presence of the Italian forces of order in the Vatican. He thanked the officials and members of their families for the work they carry out on a daily basis “with professionalism and dedication.” The officers work normally in and around St. Peter’s Square and they staff the airport-style security maches for people entering St. Peter’s Basilica or entering the square for a papal general audience.

As we start a new year, he said, “we have many hopes and expectations, and we also see on the horizon the shadows and dangers that trouble humanity. As Christians we are called upon not to lose heart or to be discouraged. Our hope rests upon an immovable rock: God’s love, revealed and given in Christ Jesus, our Lord.”

Francis explained that, “In the light of this firm hope, your work assumes a different meaning that brings human and Christian values into play. Indeed, you have the task of protecting and supervising places of the utmost importance for the faith, and of guaranteeing the security of millions of pilgrims. Many people who come to visit the heart of Christian Rome frequently turn to you.”

“May every person,” said the Holy Father, “feel helped and protected by your presence and your care. … We are all called to be our neighbor’s guardians. The Lord will call us to account for the responsibilities entrusted to us, for the good and the bad we have brought upon our neighbors.”

IOR ISSUES NOTE ON STATUTE CHANGES

Vatican City, January 22, 2015 – The Holy Father declared on 10 January 2015 by way of a Rescriptum ex audientia Ss.mi presented to the President of the IOR Supervisory Commission of Cardinals that the Statute of the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR) has been changed to elevate the number of members in the IOR Supervisory Commission of Cardinals and the IOR Board of Superintendence from five to six respectively. The Rescriptum ex audientia Ss.mi has come into effect on 10 January 2015 and will be published in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis in due course. In addition, the nomination of a non-voting Secretary General to the IOR Board of Superintendence has been formalized by the President of the Supervisory Commission of Cardinals.

The full Rescriptum ex audientia Ss.mi as well as information on the IOR governance structure and its key personnel can be found on the Institute’s website at www.ior.va.

About the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR):

The “Istituto per le Opere di Religione” (IOR) is an institute founded on 27 June 1942 by Papal Decree. Its origins date back to the “Commissione Cardinalizia ad Pias Causas” established in 1887 by Pope Leo XIII. The purpose of the IOR is to serve the global mission of the Catholic Church by providing for the custody and administration of its customers’ assets, and rendering dedicated worldwide payment services to its customers. The Institute’s mission was confirmed by the Holy Father, Pope Francis, on 7 April 2014. The IOR operates from a single location – its headquarters in the Vatican City State – and is regulated by the “Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria” (AIF), the financial supervisory body for the Vatican City State. The IOR serves approximately 15,500 customers. As of 31 December 2013, the Institute was entrusted with customers’ assets totalling €5.9 billion.

NIGER: CHURCHES AND CONVENTS BURNED, SCHOOLS, CLINICS CLOSED

When Pope Francis appealed for peace in Niger yesterday at the general audience, he was referring to events in that country that have received little coverage in the secular media. The following reports, datelined Niamey, Niger, are from Fides, the news agency of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples:

(Fides) – “Between Friday 16 and Saturday 17 January, various churches and religious communities in Niger suffered extensive damage because of demonstrators protesting against the publication of the French weekly Charlie Hebdo. In the Diocese of Maradi and Niamey, several churches were burned, along with some religious houses. Other Protestant churches were also affected by the protesters.” Fr. Nicolas Ayouba, superior of the Redemptorists of Niger, confirmed the news to Fides, adding: “According to the latest news, our Community of St. Clement of Niamey was not attacked, while the church of St. Gabriel yes. All the Redemptorists are still in good condition.”

The churches of St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. Gabriel, St. John, St. Teresa and St. Joseph were burned and looted in Niamey, as well as two convents of nuns. Because of the situation, all Sunday celebrations were suspended.

The Apostolic Administrator of Niamey, Archbishop Michel Cartatéguy told Vatican Radio: “As a Christian community, we are still under shock. All our churches – 12 out of 14 – have been completely looted: there is nothing left … everything is burned. The cathedral was not touched, because of my request to monitor it. We have suspended all activities of the Catholic mission; we have closed our schools, our dispensaries … We are not able to understand what is going on. I summoned all the priests and community leaders to pray in silence, and we meditated on love for enemies. Many of our religious, who today have lost everything, were protected, and still are, by Muslim families. I said to the highest authorities: ‘We have nothing against the Muslim community, on the contrary’. Indeed, we must further strengthen the bonds of unity and brotherhood that we have built.”

In another report, Fides said, quoting a statement sent to the agency, “The bishops of Niger have suspended “until further notice” all the activities of the Catholic Church (schools, health centers, charitable activities), “following the looting of churches and infrastructure of our institutions, and the desecration of our places of worship. The measure will allow us to pray and to read, in serenity, the painful events that we have suffered.” The bishops “thank very warmly all those who have expressed their solidarity in these difficult times.”

IN INTERVIEW WITH ARGENTINE PAPER, POPE TALKS OF SYNOD, CURIA REFORMS, VATICAN BANK, FUTURE TRAVELS – NEWS IN BRIEF: VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE – IOR PRESSES CHARGES AGAINST TWO FORMER MANAGERS

I hope each one of you can someday experience December 8, the Immacolata, the day devoted to the Immaculate Conception, in Rome. This solemnity is a national holiday and hugely important for Italian families. There were tons of visitors in Rome and I don’t remember when I saw so many families visiting monuments, at the papal Angelus, filling the tables at local restaurants, and so on.

Several main streets in the center of Rome were closed for Pope Francis’ visits, first to St. Mary Major basilica in mid-afternoon and then to the Spanish Steps, Pza. di Spagna, to crown the image of Mary there. Traffic went, as the Romans love to say, “in tilt,” but the closed streets made for great walking around Rome’s historic center and shopping area.

This famous square in the heart of Rome is named for the Palazzo di Spagna, a magnificent building on the piazza that has housed the Spanish embassy to the Holy See since 1647. Every year, early in the morning of December 8, Roman firemen place a garland atop the statue of Mary Immaculate and by day’s end, thousands of Romans will have followed in their footsteps, offering floral homages to Mary. Single flowers as well as bouquets are placed on a table at the foot of the column bearing the statue and Conventual Franciscan Friars and Minim Friars arrange them in an orderly fashion, often creating elegant wreaths.

The ancient Roman column of cipolin marble was found in 1777 in the monastery of Our Lady of the Conception in central Rome and brought to Piazza di Spagna in 1856 to celebrate the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception two years earlier.

Sunday, on my blog and my Facebook page, I posted photos and videos of Pearl Harbor to mark the 73rd anniversary of the “day of infamy,” December 7, 1941. These were pictures and videos that I took at Pearl Harbor this summer and last summer.

I took the day off yesterday, but just from writing. I went to Mass and had lunch at the Pontifical North American College as the Immaculate Conception is the seminary’s feast day. In fact, exactly 155 years ago yesterday, a dozen young men entered the first campus of our new national seminary at 30 Via dell’Umiltà, the 410-year old building that was originally a convent for Dominican Sisters, and given by Pope Pius IX to the American bishops for use as their Rome seminary.

Today, the Casa Santa Maria, as it is known, houses the U.S. Bishops Office for Visitors to the Vatican where many people, on Tuesday afternoons, pick up the tickets that they had previously requested via email for the Wednesday papal general audience.

After a wonderful lunch in very special company at NAC, I came home briefly, only to leave again about 5:45 to join the Marian Fathers and invited guests at their generalate for vespers and dinner on this, the feast day of the order. I have been invited to this for a number of years now and it is always a joy to help the Marians mark their feast day. I am sure most of you know one of the Marians – Fr. Joseph Roesch –from his appearances on EWTN, especially for the feast of Divine Mercy.

IN INTERVIEW WITH ARGENTINE PAPER, POPE TALKS OF SYNOD, CURIA REFORMS, VATICAN BANK, FUTURE TRAVELS

Pope Francis recently gave an interview to the Argentine newspaper, “La Nacion,” touching on a wide variety of subjects including the recent synod, the reform of the Curia and Vatican bank, nominations, his health, futured travels, and other issues. Following is a Vatican Radio summary of the topics treated, after which I have placed two links to the full interview, translated in to English, in two parts.

In the interview, Pope Francis describes the recent Extraordinary Synod on the Family as “an open space, protected by the Holy Spirit”. It is not a parliament, he said, and it is a “simplification” to say that the Synod Fathers were divided into two opposing factions. What was important, said Pope Francis, was to “speak with clarity and listen with humility”.

Responding to a question about how the topic of homosexuality was dealt with at the Synod, the Pope said no one at the gathering had spoken about gay marriage. What was discussed, he said, involved families that include a homosexual son or daughter and, therefore, how to assist these families. “We spoke about the family and about homosexual persons in relation to their families”, said Pope Francis, “because this is a reality we encounter in the confessional”. He also stressed that people should not allow themselves to be influenced by what they read in individual news reports or articles concerning the Synod, but should go back and read what was actually said there. What really matters, he said, “is the post-synodal report, the final message and the Pope’s discourse”. “We must not be afraid”, he added, “to go forward guided by the Holy Spirit”.

Referring to his closing speech at the Synod, Pope Francis confirmed what he’d said regarding “not touching any item of Church doctrine on marriage”. There are many pastoral difficulties related to divorced and remarried Catholics, he said, but “it is not a solution if we give them Communion. This alone is not a solution: integration is the solution”. “It’s true they are not excommunicated, but they cannot be baptismal godparents, they cannot be readers at Mass, they cannot distribute Communion, they cannot teach catechism classes, so it appears they are, in fact, excommunicated”. This is why, said the Pope, “we need to open the doors a little”. Pope Francis made the comparison of allowing a “corrupt politician” to act as a godparent simply because he or she has been “married in Church”. Responding to those who speak about creating confusion, the Pope said: “I constantly make speeches and give homilies, and this is the Magisterium”. This, he said, “is what I think and not what the newspapers say I think…Evangelii Gaudium is very clear”.

Pope Francis also spoke about the reform of the Curia, describing it as “a slow process” and not one that will conclude in 2015. One of the proposals includes combining the Council of the Laity with that of the Family and with the Council for Justice and Peace, he explained. But the most important reform, said the Pope, is a spiritual one, “the reform of hearts”. He also anticipated that he is preparing a special Christmas message for members of the Curia and another for Vatican employees and their families who he will meet in the Paul VI Audience Hall. Meanwhile, economic reforms are “moving ahead well”, he said, and the Vatican Bank, or IOR, “is working extremely well”.

Responding to a question about his health, Pope Francis said he feels the usual aches and pains of someone his age “but I am in God’s hands and until now I’ve managed to keep up a relatively good rhythm of work”. “God has given me a good dose of recklessness”, he said.

Finally, the Pope mentioned a series of possible apostolic trips: “perhaps to Argentina in 2016” and other visits to three countries in Latin America and Africa next year. With upcoming elections in Argentina, the Pope said he would not be receiving politicians from that country in audience so as not to “interfere” with the democratic process. He also clarified reports concerning the so-called dismissal of the Commander of the Vatican Swiss Guard recently, confirming his personal admiration for the Commander and how he had been replaced after the normal conclusion of his mandate to that position.

http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1750350-pope-francis-god-has-bestowed-on-me-a-healthy-dose-of-unawareness

http://www.lanacion.com.ar/1750351-the-synod-on-the-family-the-divorced-and-remarried-seem-excommunicated

NEWS IN BRIEF: VATICAN INFORMATION SERVICE

For the full stories from Monday, December 8, feast of the Immaculate Conception and today, Tuesday, December 9, click here: http://www.visnews-en.blogspot.it/

AT THE DECEMBER 8 ANGELUS, Pope Francis said the message of the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception is, “Everything is given freely by God, all is grace, all is a gift of His love for us. He spoke from the window of his study to pray the noon Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square. He explained that, in the Annunciation, the Archangel Gabriel called Mary “full of grace,” since “in her there was no space for sin: God had always chosen her as the mother of Jesus, and so He protected her from original sin. Mary corresponds to this grace and abandons herself to it, saying to the Angel, ‘Be it done to me according to your word’. She does not say ‘I will do it according to your word’, but rather, ‘Be it done to me…’.” He stressed that, “None of us can buy salvation. Salvation is a free gift from the Lord! A free gift from God that arrives in us and lives within us. As we have received freely, so we are called to give freely, in imitation of Mary. … Because, if everything has been given, everything must be given b

PAPAL MESSAGE TO CONFERENCE ON NUCLEAR WEAPONS: Pope Francis’ message to Sebastian Kurz, Austrian federal minister for Foreign Affairs and Integration, was read Tuesday at the two-day conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons that began on December 8 in Vienna, Austria. It said, in part: “The humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons are predictable and planetary. While the focus is often placed on nuclear weapons’ potential for mass killing, more attention must be given to the ‘unnecessary suffering’ brought on by their use. …. To prioritize such spending is a mistake and a misallocation of resources that would be far better invested in the areas of integral human development, education, health and the fight against extreme poverty. When these resources are squandered, the poor and the weak living on the margins of society pay the price.” Noting that, “the desire for peace, security and stability is one of the deepest longings of the human heart,” the Pope “encouraged sincere and open dialogue between parties internal to each nuclear state, between various nuclear states, and between nuclear states and non-nuclear states.”

POPE FRANCIS SENDS TELEGRAM OF CONDOLENCES to Alejandro Jaime Mejia for the death of his brother, Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia, archivist and librarian emeritus of the Holy Roman Church, at the age of 91. The Pope wrote that the cardinal dedicated “long years of service with fidelity and competence to various organs of the Holy See,” and assured his prayers for the deceased, to whom he was joined in “a long friendship,” so that the Lord may grant peace to the Cardinal, who demonstrated “such intense and generous commitment to the Church.”

THE GENERAL SECRETARIAT OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS Tuesday issued a press release regarding the publication of the Lineamenta of the next Ordinary General Synod of Bishops, to take place in Rome from October 4-25 on the theme, “The vocation and the mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world.” The Lineamenta, the first document for the 2015 synod, as indicated by Pope Francis in his concluding speech of the October 2014 synod, are constituted essentially by the Relatio Synodi, drafted by the same Assembly. To facilitate the reception of the synodal document and to allow its themes to be considered in depth, the Relatio is accompanied by a series of questions that help to further the Synod’s progress on the path it has undertaken, and to assist in the preparation of the subsequent Instrumentum laboris for the next Ordinary Synod. The text of the Lineamenta in Italian may be consulted on the Vatican website: http://www.vatican.va

TUESDAY MORNING, CARDINAL PETER TURKSON, president of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace,” presented the international online bullying awareness campaign, “Stop Threats on the Internet,” in the context of the 25th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The presentation in the Holy See Pres Office also included Fr. Fortunato Di Noto, president of the Associazione Meter; Olivier Duval, president of the BICE (Bureau International Catholique de l’Enfance), Laetitia Chanut, a former victim of cyber-bullying and witness for the campaign, and Flaminia Giovanelli, under secretary of the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace.” Presenters confronted the issues of Internet bullying, “a new form of violence,” the question of adolescents and young people living in a condition of being continually “connected,” the sociological studies that examine the risks linked to the rapid development of information and communication technology, a phenomenon that requires parents to act as mediators of the technological experience for their children, and family relationships in an Internet-connected, globalized world

IOR PRESSES CHARGES AGAINST TWO FORMER MANAGERS

The Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR, Institute for Works of Religion, popularly known as the Vatican Bank,) confirmed Saturday in a press release that “it pressed charges against two former managers and a lawyer some months ago, underlining its commitment to transparency and zero tolerance, including with regard to matters that relate to a more distant past.

The charges submitted to the Vatican’s law enforcement authorities relate to circumstances recorded between 2001 and 2008 that have emerged in the internal review process initiated in early 2013. The accounts held by the concerned individuals at the IOR have recently been seized by order of the Promoter of Justice.

“We are very pleased that the Vatican Authorities are taking decisive action,” said Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, President of the IOR Board of Superintendence. Given the ongoing judicial enquiry, the IOR will refrain from further public statements.