MEMORIAL OF BLESSED VIRGIN MARY MOTHER OF THE CHURCH – VATICAN UPGRADES FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION, COST OVERRUNS, DEFICITS – POPE GIFTS AMBULANCE FOR THE POOR TO APOSTOLIC ALMONER

MEMORIAL OF BLESSED VIRGIN MARY MOTHER OF THE CHURCH.  

At the request of Pope Francis, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, with a decree dated February 11, 2018, ordered the inscription of the memory of the “Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of the Church” in the General Roman Calendar. The memorial, mandatory for the entire Church of the Roman Rite, is celebrated on the Monday after Pentecost.

I’ve been asked quite often about the mosaic of Mary that is located fairly high up on the exterior of the Apostolic Palace overlooking St. Peter’s Square – about 1 o’clock if the basilica is noon. Many have noted it did not seem to fit in with the architecture of the building. In fact the apostolic palace is a complex of buildings with over 1,000 rooms and halls that date from various historical periods, many of which are, however, from the Renaissance.

The mosaic is indeed more modern and has quite a lovely story, almost a love story, if you will. For the story, we enter St. Peter’s Basilica and walk down the left aisle to the very end where we will find the Chapel of the Column. It is just beyond the Prayer Door entrance to the basilica and, most unfortunately, is not available to visitors as this area has been roped off.

Over the altar in the Chapel of the Column is an image of the Blessed Virgin painted on a column that came from the first basilica. In 1607 the image was placed on this altar designed by Giacomo Della Porta and is framed by stunning marble and priceless alabaster columns. On November 21, 1964, Pope Paul VI bestowed on this image the title of “Mater Ecclesiae” – Mother of the Church. (jfl photos)

St. John Paul II had always wondered how on earth Mary – whom he dearly loved – was not among the 140 statues atop the basilica facade and the monumental colonnades that were designed by Bernini. When he was shot in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981, the Pope credited the hand of the Virgin – his mosaic Mary – with deflecting the bullet that would have killed him.

Dissuaded from eliminating one of the 140 statues to replace it with Mary, he had a mosaic reproduction of it set on the external wall of the Apostolic Palace facing St. Peter’s Square. St. John Paul’s motto – Totus tuus – all yours – is on this mosaic.

VATICAN UPGRADES FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION, COST OVERRUNS, DEFICITS

The big story today at the Vatican was the publication of a motu proprio by Pope Francis with specific, enforceable guidelines for those engaged in the fight against corruption, cost overruns and unfair competition in the awarding of contracts for services and goods in the mini State. Such measures are long overdue and the current document is the result of four years of work by the Pope and a team of advisors from various Vatican offices seeking to bring transparency, control and competition in the procedures for the award of public contracts of the Holy See and of the Vatican City State.

The motu proprio (meaning of the pope’s own initiative and hand) was published in today’s Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano and will enter into force in 30 days. The document is 34 pages long.

A Vatican communiqué said, “The document is the result of a synergistic work coordinated by the Secretariat of State between the various entities of the Roman Curia, including the Council for the Economy, the Secretariat for the Economy, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See and the Governorate of the Vatican City State. It is a unique code, which goes beyond the regulation currently in force in some individual realities and now applies to all entities referable to the Holy See and the Vatican City State.”

The communique added that, “The legislation is part of the most advanced international legislation on the subject. The guiding principle of the new text is the diligence of the good father of a family who wants an effective and ethical management of his resources, which at the same time promotes transparency, control and fair treatment of real competition between those who wish to establish an economic relationship with the interested bodies.”

In its report of the Motu proprio, Vatican news wrote that “Article 1 explains the purposes of the new law, which are: the sustainable use of internal funds, transparency of award procedures, “equal treatment and non-discrimination of tenderers, in particular through measures to combat illegal competition agreements and corruption.”

“Article 5,” continued Vatican news, “lists the fundamental principles which are founded on “ethicality orienting the economic choices and the interlocutors upon parameters of respect for the Social Doctrine of the Church; administrative autonomy, and subsidiarity in the management choices of the Body; loyal collaboration between the Entities and the different sections of the Governorate.”

“The goal is to obtain “cost-savings, effectiveness, and efficiency” through “planning and rationalization of expenditure,” while avoiding unnecessary operations, and in particular an award procedure which “must be transparent, objective, and impartial.”

“Measures are taken against conflicts of interest, illegal competition agreements, and corruption. These serve to avoid ‘any distortion of competition and ensure equal treatment of all economic operators.’

“Economic operators who become subject to investigation, prevention measures, or convictions at first instance for ‘participation in a criminal organization, corruption, fraud, terrorist offences,’ ‘laundering of the proceeds of criminal activities,’ and ‘he exploitation of child labour’ must be excluded from the Register and participation in tenders.

“One of the causes of exclusion is the failure to fulfill ‘obligations relating to the payment of taxes or social security contributions in accordance with the regulations of the country in which the operator is incorporated’, as well as residing or having settled in States ‘with privileged tax regimes.’

“Except in certain cases established as exceptions, ‘all goods and services, under penalty of nullity of the relevant contract, are ordinarily acquired by the Entities in a centralized manner.’ The ‘centralized authorities’, reads Article 15, include both APSA ‘in matters concerning the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia’ and institutions connected to the Holy See, as well as the Governorate. There are exceptions to centralization, but they must be duly justified.”

“Every six months, the Secretariat for the Economy, having consulted with APSA, will publish and update ‘the list of prices and the reference fees for goods and services’, together with the labour costs of the professionals registered in the Register. These will take into consideration prices and fees in the markets where the Vatican institutions are supplied. Vatican Entities are required to plan their purchases by 31 October of each year.”

POPE GIFTS AMBULANCE FOR THE POOR TO APOSTOLIC ALMONER

Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the Apostolic Almoner, announced today in a communique that yesterday morning, Pentecost Sunday, before he celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Altar of the Chair, Pope Francis blessed an ambulance for the poor of Rome. The Pope entrusted this new gift to the Apostolic Almoner for the very poor of Rome, “especially the homeless who live the difficulties of the road and who seek refuge in the surroundings of the Vatican or in makeshift shelters in Rome. The ambulance, registered SCV, is part of those used for rescue within the Vatican State and was made available by the Governorate exclusively to assist and help the poorest, who remain almost invisible to the institutions.” (photos from Almoner’s office)

The ambulance is only part of the medical assistance of the Apostolic Almone for the poor and homeless that this office, with the approval of Pope Francis, has set up including, the Mobile Polyclinic that brings treatment to the poorest and marginalized in the suburbs of Rome and the Mother of Mercy Outpatient Clinic under the right hand colonnade of St. Peter’s Square that offers medical care. This remained open throughout the Covid-19 emergency.

POPE ABOLISHES PONTIFICAL SECRET FOR CASES OF SEXUAL ABUSE – AMENDMENTS TO “NORMAE DE GRAVIORIBUS DELICTIS” – INSTRUCTION ON CONFIDENTIALITY OF LEGAL PROCEEDINGS – INTERVIEW WITH ARCHBISHOP CHARLE SCICLUNA ON PAPAL RESCRIPT – VATICAN NEWS EDITORIAL COMMENT ON PAPAL RESCRIPT

POPE ABOLISHES PONTIFICAL SECRET FOR CASES OF SEXUAL ABUSE

In an historical and unprecedented move, the Vatican announced today that Pope Francis has abolished the pontifical secret for cases of sexual abuse.

Following, in their entirety, are the two papal documents (AMENDMENTS TO “NORMAE DE GRAVIORIBUS DELICTIS” and INSTRUCTION ON CONFIDENTIALITY OF LEGAL PROCEEDINGS), an interview by Vatican News Editorial Director Andrea Tornielli with Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and an editorial commentary by Tornielli.

AMENDMENTS TO “NORMAE DE GRAVIORIBUS DELICTIS”

His Holiness Pope Francis, in the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Secretary of State and the undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on 4 October 2019, has decided to introduce the following amendments to the “Normae de gravioribus delictis” reserved to the judgement of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in accordance with the Motu proprio of Saint John Paul II “Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela” (30 April 2001), as amended by the Rescriptum ex Audientia SS.mi dated 21 May 2010 and signed by the then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal William Levada:

Article 1

Art. 6 § 1, 2° Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela is replaced in its entirety by the following text: “The acquisition, possession or distribution by a cleric of pornographic images of minors under the age of eighteen, for purposes of sexual gratification, by whatever means or using whatever technology”.

Article 2

§ 1 – Art. 13 Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela is replaced in its entirety by the following text: “The role of Advocate or Procurator is carried out by a member of the faithful possessing a doctorate in canon law, who is approved by the presiding judge of the college”.

§ 2 – Art. 14 Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela is replaced in its entirety by the following text: “In other Tribunals, for the cases under these norms, only priests can validly carry out the functions of Judge, Promoter of Justice and Notary”.

The Holy Father has ordered that the present Rescriptum be published in L’Osservatore Romano and in Acta Apostolicae Sedis, and take effect on 1 January 2020.

From the Vatican, 3 December 2019

INSTRUCTION ON CONFIDENTIALITY OF LEGAL PROCEEDINGS

His Holiness Pope Francis, in the Audience granted to His Excellency Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, Substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, on 4 December 2019, has decided to issue the Instruction On the Confidentiality of Legal Proceedings, attached to the present Rescriptum, of which it forms an integral part. The Holy Father has determined that the Rescriptum shall have firm and stable application, notwithstanding anything to the contrary, even if worthy of special mention, that it shall be promulgated by publication in L’Osservatore Romano, with immediate force, and then be published in the official commentary Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

From the Vatican, 6 December 2019

CARDINAL PIETRO PAROLIN Secretary of State

INSTRUCTION On the Confidentiality of Legal Proceedings

1. The pontifical secret does not apply to accusations, trials and decisions involving the offences referred to in: a) Article 1 of the Motu proprio “Vos estis lux mundi” (7 May 2019); b) Article 6 of the Normae de gravioribus delictis reserved to the judgement of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in accordance with the Motu proprio “Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela” of Saint John Paul II (30 April 2001), and subsequent amendments.

2. Nor does the pontifical secret apply when such offenses were committed in conjunction with other offences.

3. In the cases referred to in No. 1, the information is to be treated in such a way as to ensure its security, integrity and confidentiality in accordance with the prescriptions of canons 471, 2° CIC and 244 §2, 2° CCEO, for the sake of protecting the good name, image and privacy of all persons involved.

4. Office confidentiality shall not prevent the fulfilment of the obligations laid down in all places by civil laws, including any reporting obligations, and the execution of enforceable requests of civil judicial authorities.

5. The person who files the report, the person who alleges to have been harmed and the witnesses shall not be bound by any obligation of silence with regard to matters involving the case.

INTERVIEW WITH ARCHBISHOP CHARLE SCICLUNA ON PAPAL RESCRIPT

Interview by Vatican News Editorial Director Andrea Tornielli with Archbishop Charles Scicluna, Adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the publication of the Rescriptum of the Holy Father Francis On the Instruction Sulla Riservatezza delle cause (On the privacy of legal proceedings)

Published in Vatican News and L’Osservatore Romano – 17 December

Scicluna: “An epochal decision that removes obstacles and impediments” – “The bishops had spoken about it at the February meeting on the protection of minors”.

«An epochal decision». This is how the archbishop of Malta Charles Scicluna, adjunct Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, described the rescriptum published on Tuesday 17 December 2019, in this interview with Vatican Radio – Vatican News.

What importance does the Pope’s decision to abolish pontifical secrecy in cases of sexual violence in child abuse have?

I remember when the bishops were called to the Vatican by the Holy Father Francis in February 2019, that there was a full day of discussion on the question of transparency in cases of sexual misconduct. In May 2019 we have a new law which also gave an important impact and also development in the same line, and now we have another law by the Holy Father that says that cases of sexual misconduct are not under the Pontifical secret, that would be the highest level of confidentiality. That means, of course, the question of transparency now is being implemented at the highest level.

What does this decision change in concrete terms?

It opens up, for example, avenues of communication with victims, of collaboration with the state. Certain jurisdiction would have easily quoted the pontifical secret because that was the state of the law, in order to say that they could not, and that they were not, authorized to share information with either state authorities or the victims. Now that impediment, we might call it that way, has been lifted, and the pontifical secret is no more an excuse. However, the law goes further: it actually says, as also does Vos estis lux mundi, that information is of the essence if we really want to work for justice. And so, the freedom of information to statutory authorities and to victims is something that is being facilitated by this new law.

Does the abolition of pontifical secrecy mean that documents will become public?

The documents in a penal trial are not public domain, but they are available for authorities, or people who are interested parties, and authorities who have a statutory jurisdiction over the matter. So I think that when it comes, for example, to information that the Holy See has asked to share, one has to follow the international rules: that is, that there has to be a specific request, and that all the formalities of international law are to be followed. But otherwise, on the local level, although they are not public domain, communication with statutory authorities and the sharing of information and documentation are facilitated.

VATICAN NEWS EDITORIAL COMMENT ON PAPAL RESCRIPT

Following is a Comment by Editorial Director, Andrea Tornielli on the publication of the Rescript of the Holy Father Francis on the Instruction Sulla riservatezza delle cause (On the confidentiality of legal proceedings)

Published in Vatican News and L’Osservatore Romano – 17 December 2019

Historic decision, fruit of the February summit

With the abolition of the pontifical secret for cases of sexual abuse against minors, Pope Francis continues on the path of transparency.

ANDREA TORNIELLI

Convened by Pope Francis in the Vatican in February 2019, the summit on the protection of minors continues to bear fruit. In fact, today, Tuesday, 17 December, an important decision is being announced. It would not be hazardous to define it as historical. That decision regards the pontifical secret. The Pope, in fact, via a Rescript has decided to abolish it in cases of the sexual abuse of minors, of sexual violence and child pornography.

This means that any reporting, testimony and documents produced in canonical trials related to such cases of sexual abuse – those kept in Vatican Dicastery archives as well as those found in diocesan archives – which until now were subject to the pontifical secret, can now be handed over when requested to lawful authorities in their respective countries. This is a sign of openness, transparency, and the willingness to collaborate with the civil authorities.

In the case of Vatican Dicasteries, the request must be forwarded through the international rogatory process customary in the context of relations between States. The procedure is different, instead, for cases where the documents being requested are kept in diocesan Chancery archives: the competent legal authorities in each respective country must forward the request directly to the bishop. Particular arrangements provided for in agreements between the Church and State remain unaffected.

Connected to last May’s Motu Proprio Vos estis lux mundi, the breadth of Pope Francis’ decision is evident: the well-being of children and young people must always come before any protection of a secret, even the “pontifical” secret. The Rescript obviously does not affect the sacramental seal in any way, that is, the secret of confession, which is completely different from the pontifical secret, which covers documentation and testimony. Neither does it mean that in these cases those documents produced in canonical trials should enter into the public domain or that they should become matter for public disclosure. The right of the victims and the witnesses to confidentiality must always be protected. Now, however, the documentation must be placed at the disposal of the civil authority for the purpose of investigating cases for which canonical proceedings have already begun.

(A LINK TO POPE JOHN PAUL’S MOTU PROPRIO:
http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/motu_proprio/documents/hf_jp-ii_motu-proprio_20020110_sacramentorum-sanctitatis-tutela.html

POPE CHANGES ARCHIVES NAME TO VATICAN APOSTOLIC ARCHIVES – ABRAHAMIC RELIGIONS: NO TO EUTHANASIA, ASSISTED SUICIDE, YES TO PALLIATIVE CARE

POPE CHANGES ARCHIVES NAME TO VATICAN APOSTOLIC ARCHIVES

With an Apostolic Letter motu proprio dated October 22, 2019 and released today by the Vatican, Pope Francis has changed the name of the Vatican Secret Archives to the Vatican Apostolic Archives.

The motu proprio starts: “Historical experience teaches that every human institution, even born with the greatest care and with vigorous and well-founded hopes of progress, fatally touched by time and yet, wanting to remain faithful to itself and to the aims of its nature, feels the need, not to change its proper appearance, but rather to bring its inspiring values into different eras and cultures and to make those updates that are convenient and sometimes necessary.”

The Apostolic Letter then outlines a history of the Vatican library, the archives, their mission and purpose and the priceless service both have given to the Church over the centuries:

“This long service rendered to the Church, to culture and to scholars all over the world has always earned the Vatican Secret Archives esteem and gratitude, growing all the more growing from Leo XIII to our day, and because of the progressive ‘openings’ of the documentation made available to the consultation (which from next March 2, 2020, at my disposal, will extend until the end of the pontificate of Pius XII), both because of the increase in researchers who are admitted to the Archive on a daily basis and helped in every way in their research.”

Pope Francis then writes: “However, there is one aspect that I think may still be useful to update, reaffirming the ecclesial and cultural goals of the Archive’s mission. This aspect concerns the very name of the institute: Vatican Secret Archives.

“Born, as mentioned, from the Bibliotheca secreta of the Roman Pontiff, or rather from the part of codes and scriptures more particularly owned and under the direct jurisdiction of the Pope, the Archive was first titled Archivum novum, then Archivum Apostolicum, then Archivum Secretum (the first attestations of the term date back to around 1646).

“The term Secretum, which came to form the proper denomination of the institution, prevailed in the last few centuries and was justified because it indicated that the new Archive, wanted by my predecessor Paul V around 1610-1612, was none other than the private archive, separate, reserved by the Pope. So this is how Popes wanted to define it and scholars today still call it, without any difficulty. This definition, moreover, was widespread, with a similar meaning, in the courts of the sovereigns and princes, whose archives were properly defined as secret.”

Thus, writes the Holy Father, “Solicited in recent years by some esteemed prelates, as well as by my closest collaborators, I also heard the opinion of the Superiors of the same Vatican Secret Archive, (and) with this my Motu Proprio, I decide that: from now on the current Vatican Secret Archives, while changing nothing in its identity, its structure and its mission, is called the Vatican Apostolic Archives.”

Francis closes the Apostolic Letter by noting that, “the new name highlights the close link of the Roman See with the Archive, an indispensable tool of the Petrine ministry, and at the same time underlines its immediate dependence on the Roman Pontiff, thus as already happens in parallel for the name of the Vatican Apostolic Library.”

ABRAHAMIC RELIGIONS: NO TO EUTHANASIA, ASSISTED SUICIDE, YES TO PALLIATIVE CARE

Representatives of the Abrahamic monotheistic religions condemn euthanasia and assisted suicide, and encourage palliative care everywhere and for everyone.


By Robin Gomes (vatiannews)

“We oppose any form of euthanasia – that is the direct, deliberate and intentional act of taking life – as well as physician-assisted suicide – that is the direct, deliberate and intentional support of committing suicide -because they fundamentally contradict the inalienable value of human life, and therefore are inherently and consequentially morally and religiously wrong, and should be forbidden without exceptions.”

Representatives of the Abrahamic religions made the statement in a position paper that they signed and released in the Vatican on Monday regarding end-of-life issues, such as euthanasia, assisted suicide and palliative care.

The term, Abrahamic monotheistic religions, derives from the Old Testament biblical figure Abraham who is recognized by Jews, Christians, Muslims and others.

Euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide – morally and religiously wrong
“Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide,” they declared, “are inherently and consequentially morally and religiously wrong and should be forbidden with no exceptions.” As such, they categorically condemned any pressure upon dying patients to end their lives by active and deliberate actions.

They wrote, “Care for the dying, is both part of our stewardship of the Divine gift of life when a cure is no longer possible, as well as our human and ethical responsibility toward the dying (and often) suffering patient.”

“Holistic and respectful care of the person,” they said, “must recognize the uniquely human, spiritual and religious dimension of dying as a fundamental objective.”

The person behind the declaration is Rabbi Avraham Steinberg of Israel who proposed the idea to Pope Francis, who in turn entrusted it to the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life. Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, the president of the Academy, involved and coordinated a mixed inter-faith group to draft the declaration.

After the release of the position paper, the 30 signatories were received in audience by Pope Francis in the Vatican. Among them were some cardinals, rabbis, including David Rosen and Syamsul Anwar of Indonesia’s second-largest Islamic organization, Muhammadiyah.

Palliative care for all
The Abrahamic religions encouraged and expressed support for qualified palliative care everywhere and for everyone. “Even when efforts to continue staving off death seems unreasonably burdensome,” they wrote, “we are morally and religiously duty-bound to provide comfort, effective pain and symptoms relief, companionship, care and spiritual assistance to the dying patient and to her/his family.”

While calling for laws and policies that protect the rights and the dignity of the dying patient to avoid euthanasia and promote palliative care, they committed themselves to involve other religions and all people of goodwill.

Archbishop Paglia stressed the importance of the ecumenical and interreligious dimension of the joint initiative. He said it allowed them to discover areas of convergence and bring fruits of communion in order to render a service to all people in whom “we all see sons and daughters of God”.

ST. JEROME’S OPUS MAGNUS, TRANSLATING THE BIBLE INTO LATIN – POPE FRANCIS INSTITUTES “SUNDAY OF THE WORD OF GOD”

ST. JEROME’S OPUS MAGNUS, TRANSLATING THE BIBLE INTO LATIN

Aware that today is the feast day of St. Jerome, one of the Church’s greatest saints and a Doctor of the Church, I wanted to share one of my experiences related to this 4th-5th century saint.

I well remember visiting and taking photos of what today, in Bethlehem, is known as St. Jerome’s Cave, the place where he spent over 30 years translating the Bible into Latin, what is known as the Vulgate. I could see the photos in my mind’s eye as if I had taken them an hour ago. However, I could not remember on which of my trips to the Holy Land I took the photos, and thus spent considerable time this afternoon going through my tens and tens of thousands of photos. Patience paid off and I am posting a few of those with Jerome’s story.  You can see how moved our pilgrimage group was by being in these caves, in St. Jerome’s Cave, adjacent to the cave of the Nativity!

I found my blogs from that trip but did not given an extended description of St. Jerome’s Cave, so, along with my photos, I offer some brief descriptions from a website about the Cave:

After many years in Rome and what today we call Turkey, St. Jerome, late in the summer of 388 was back in Palestine, and spent the remainder of his life working in a cave near Bethlehem, the very cave where Jesus was born, surrounded by a few friends, both men and women (including Paula and Eustochium), to whom he acted as priestly guide and teacher.

From a cave beneath the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem came the most enduring version of the Bible ever translated.

In this underground study — pleasantly cool in summer but chilly in winter — St Jerome spent 30 years translating the Scriptures from Hebrew and Greek into Latin.

The scholarly Dalmatian priest had begun his task around AD 386. The text he produced in St Jerome’s Cave was the first official vernacular version of the Bible. Known as the Vulgate, it remained the authoritative version for Catholics until the 20th century.

This version, asserts the historian G. S. P. Freeman-Grenville, was “assuredly heard by more Christians than any other”.

St Jerome (also known as Hieronymus, the Latin version of Jerome) spent more than 36 years in the Holy Land. He was well-known for his ascetic lifestyle and his passionate involvement in doctrinal controversies.

Access to St Jerome’s two-room cave is from the Church of St Catherine. On the right hand side of the nave, steps lead down to a complex of subterranean chambers. At the end, on the right, are the rooms where Jerome lived and worked.

The adjacent caves have been identified as the burial places of Jerome (whose remains were later taken to Rome), his successor St Eusebius, and Sts Paula and Eustochium.

Jerome died in 420. His body was later transferred to Constantinople and then to Rome, where his bones rest today in the Basilica of St Mary Major.

POPE FRANCIS INSTITUTES “SUNDAY OF THE WORD OF GOD”

With the Apostolic Letter “Aperuit illis” – Opened to Them” – Pope Francis has instituted Sunday of the Word of God to be celebrated annually on the Third Sunday of Ordinary Time. This Sunday will be dedicated to the celebration, reflection and spreading of the Word of God.

Given in Rome, at the Basilica of Saint John Lateran, on 30 September 2019, the liturgical Memorial of Saint Jerome, on the inauguration of the 1600th anniversary of his death. FRANCIS

The full Letter was made public this morning in 7 languages. St. Jerome is known for having translated the whole of the Bible into the Latin version which is known as the Vulgate.

POPE ESTABLISHES SUNDAY OF THE WORD OF GOD

Pope Francis, in his Apostolic Letter, Motu proprio “Aperuit illis”, published today by the Vatican, established that “the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God”. Following I the report by Vatican News.

The timing of the document is significant: September 30 is the Feast of Saint Jerome, the man who translated most of the Bible into Latin, and who famously said: “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ”. This year also marks 1600 years since his death.

The title of the document, “Aperuit illis”, is equally important. They are its opening words, taken from St Luke’s Gospel, where the Evangelist describes how the Risen Jesus appeared to His disciples, and how “He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures”.

A response to requests
Recalling the importance given by the Second Vatican Council to rediscovering Sacred Scripture for the life of the Church, Pope Francis says he wrote this Apostolic Letter in response to requests from the faithful around the world to celebrate the Sunday of the Word of God.

An ecumenical value
In the Motu proprio (literally, “of his own initiative”), Pope Francis declares that, “the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is to be devoted to the celebration, study and dissemination of the Word of God”. This is more than a temporal coincidence, he explains: the celebration has “ecumenical value, since the Scriptures point out, for those who listen, the path to authentic and firm unity”.
photo

A certain solemnity
Pope Francis invites local communities to find ways to “mark this Sunday with a certain solemnity”. He suggests that the sacred text be enthroned “in order to focus the attention of the assembly on the normative value of God’s Word”. In highlighting the proclamation of the Word of the Lord, it would be appropriate “to emphasize in the homily the honour that it is due”, writes the Pope.

“Pastors can also find ways of giving a Bible, or one of its books, to the entire assembly as a way of showing the importance of learning how to read, appreciate and pray daily with Sacred Scripture”.

The Bible is for all
The Bible is not meant for a privileged few, continues Pope Francis. It belongs “to those called to hear its message and to recognize themselves in its words”. The Bible cannot be monopolized or restricted to select groups either, he writes, because it is “the book of the Lord’s people, who, in listening to it, move from dispersion and division towards unity”.

The importance of the homily
“Pastors are primarily responsible for explaining Sacred Scripture and helping everyone to understand it”, writes Pope Francis. Which is why the homily possesses “a quasi-sacramental character”. The Pope warns against improvising or giving “long, pedantic homilies or wandering off into unrelated topics”.

Rather, he suggests using simple and suitable language. For many of the faithful, he writes, “this is the only opportunity they have to grasp the beauty of God’s Word and to see it applied to their daily lives”.

Sacred Scripture and the Sacraments
The Pope uses the scene of the Risen Lord appearing to the disciples at Emmaus to demonstrate what he calls “the unbreakable bond between Sacred Scripture and the Eucharist”. Since the Scriptures everywhere speak of Christ, he writes, “they enable us to believe that His death and resurrection are not myth but history, and are central to the faith of His disciples”.
When the sacraments are introduced and illumined by God’s Word, explains the Pope, “they become ever more clearly the goal of a process whereby Christ opens our minds and hearts to acknowledge His saving work”.

The role of the Holy Spirit
“The role of the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures is primordial”, writes Pope Francis. “Without the work of the Spirit, there would always be a risk of remaining limited to the written text alone”. The Pope continues: “This would open the way to a fundamentalist reading, which needs to be avoided, lest we betray the inspired, dynamic and spiritual character of the sacred text”. It is the Holy Spirit who “makes Sacred Scripture the living word of God, experienced and handed down in the faith of His holy people”.

Pope Francis invites us never to take God’s Word for granted, “but instead to let ourselves be nourished by it, in order to acknowledge and live fully our relationship with Him and with our brothers and sisters”.

Practicing mercy
The Pope concludes his Apostolic Letter by defining what he describes as “the great challenge before us in life: to listen to Sacred Scripture and then to practice mercy”. God’s Word, writes Pope Francis, “has the power to open our eyes and to enable us to renounce a stifling and barren individualism and instead to embark on a new path of sharing and solidarity”.

The Letter closes with a reference to Our Lady, who accompanies us “on the journey of welcoming the Word of God”, teaching us the joy of those who listen to that Word – and keep it.

VATICAN INSIDER: A PAPAL DOCUMENT ON NORMS FOR SEX ABUSE CASES

VATICAN INSIDER: A PAPAL DOCUMENT ON NORMS FOR SEX ABUSE CASES

Welcome to another edition of Vatican Insider on this beautiful weekend when we celebrate Mother’s Day. Congratulations to all who are mothers and grandmothers and godmothers and everyone who is in some way a mother’s helper!

This weekend, instead of an interview, I have prepared a special for you on the just released Apostolic Letter by Pope Francis, a motu proprio on new norms for the entire church on sex abuse cases. The special presentation is taken from an explanation of the motu proprio by the editorial director of the Dicastery for Communications, a piece featured on the Vaticannews site. When you think of the topic of this papal letter – the sex abuse scandal that has convulsed the Church around the world – I felt it fitting to bring you this news. It is a very important document that I want everyone to know about.

Entitled “NEW NORMS FOR THE WHOLE CHURCH AGAINST THOSE WHO ABUSE OR COVER UP”, Pope Francis’ Motu proprio, “Vos estis lux mundi”, establishes new procedures for reporting abuse and violence, and ensures that Bishops and Religious Superiors are held accountable for their actions. It includes the obligation for clerics and religious to report abuse. Every Diocese must have a system that allows the public to submit reports easily.

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NEW NORMS FOR THE WHOLE CHURCH AGAINST THOSE WHO ABUSE OR COVER UP

This is not a long read, my friends, but a very important one….

NEW NORMS FOR THE WHOLE CHURCH AGAINST THOSE WHO ABUSE OR COVER UP

Pope Francis’ Motu proprio, “Vos estis lux mundi”, establishes new procedures for reporting abuse and violence, and ensures that Bishops and Religious Superiors are held accountable for their actions. It includes the obligation for clerics and religious to report abuse. Every Diocese must have a system that allows the public to submit reports easily.

Andrea Tornielli (editorial director for Dicastery for Communication: published on vaticannews)

“Vos estis lux mundi”. “You are the light of the world… Our Lord Jesus Christ calls every believer to be a shining example of virtue, integrity and holiness”. The Gospel of Matthew provides the title and first words of Pope Francis’ new Motu proprio dedicated to the fight against sexual abuse committed by clerics and religious, as well as the actions or omissions of Bishops and Religious Superiors that in any way interfere with or fail to investigate abuse.

The Pope recalls that “the crimes of sexual abuse offend Our Lord, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful”, and mentions the special responsibility of the Successors of the Apostles to prevent these crimes. The document represents another result of the Meeting on the Protection of Minors held in the Vatican in February 2019. It establishes new procedural rules to combat sexual abuse and to ensure that Bishops and Religious Superiors are held accountable for their actions. It establishes universal norms, which apply to the whole Catholic Church.

An “office” for reporting in every diocese
Among the new indications given is the obligation for every Diocese in the world to set up, by June 2020, “one or more public, stable and easily accessible systems for submission of reports” concerning sexual abuse committed by clerics and religious, the use of child pornography, and coverups of the same abuse. The legislation does not specify what these “systems” consist of, because it leaves operational choices to the Diocese; and these may differ according to various cultures and local conditions. The idea is that anyone who has suffered abuse can have recourse to the local Church, while being assured they will be well received, protected from retaliation, and that their reports will be treated with the utmost seriousness.

The obligation to report
Another new indication concerns the obligation for all clerics, and all men and women religious, to “report promptly” all accusations of abuse of which they become aware, as well as any omissions and cover-ups in the management of cases of abuse, to ecclesiastical authorities. Though this obligation was formerly left up to individual consciences, it now becomes a universally established legal precept. The obligation as such is sanctioned for clerics and religious, but any layperson can, and is encouraged to, use the system to report violence and abuse to the competent ecclesiastical authority.

Not only child abuse
The document covers not only violence and abuse against children and vulnerable adults, but also sexual abuse and violence resulting from an abuse of authority as well. This includes cases of violence against religious by clerics, as well as abuse committed against adult seminarians or novices.

Dealing with cover-ups
One of the most important elements is the identification, as a specific category, of so-called cover-ups, defined as “actions or omissions intended to interfere with or avoid civil investigations or canonical investigations, whether administrative or penal, against a cleric or a religious regarding the delicts” of sexual abuse. This section refers to those who hold positions of particular responsibility in the Church, and who, instead of pursuing abuses committed by others, have hidden them, and have protected alleged offenders instead of protecting the victims.

The protection of vulnerable people
Vos estis lux mundi stresses the importance of protecting minors (anyone under 18) and vulnerable people. The definition of a “vulnerable person” is broadened to include “any person in a state of infirmity, physical or mental deficiency, or deprivation of personal liberty which, in fact, even occasionally, limits their ability to understand or to want to otherwise resist the offense”. In this respect, the new Motu proprio echoes recent Vatican legislation (CCXCVII of 26 March 2019).

Respecting the laws of states
The obligation to report to the local Ordinary or Religious Superior does not interfere with, or change, any other reporting obligation that may exist in respective countries’ legislation. In fact, the norms “apply without prejudice to the rights and obligations established in each place by state laws, particularly those concerning any reporting obligations to the competent civil authorities”.

The protection of victims and those reporting abuse
The sections dedicated to protecting those who come forward to report abuse are also significant. According to the provisions of the Motu proprio, someone reporting abuse cannot be subjected to “prejudice, retaliation or discrimination” because of what they report. The problem of victims who in the past have been told to keep silent is also addressed: these universal norms provide that “an obligation to keep silent may not be imposed on any person with regard to the contents of his or her report”. Obviously, the seal of confession remains absolute and inviolable and is in no way affected by this legislation. Vos estis lux mundi also states that victims and their families must be treated with dignity and respect and must receive appropriate spiritual, medical and psychological assistance.

The investigation of bishops
The Motu proprio regulates the investigation of Bishops, Cardinals, Religious Superiors and all those who lead a Diocese, or another particular Church, in various capacities and even temporarily. The rules apply not only in the case of these persons being investigated for having committed sexual abuse themselves, but also if they are accused of having “covered up”, or of failing to pursue abuses of which they were aware, and which it was their duty to address.

The role of the Metropolitan
There are new indications regarding the role of the Metropolitan Archbishop in preliminary investigations: if the accused individual is a Bishop, the Metropolitan receives a mandate from the Holy See to investigate. This strengthens his traditional role in the Church and indicates a desire to make the most of local resources with regard to investigations into Bishops. Every thirty days, the person in charge of the investigation sends the Holy See “a status report on the state of the investigation”, which “is to be completed within the term of ninety days” (extensions for “just reasons” are possible). This establishes specific timeframes and requires the Vatican Dicasteries concerned to act promptly.

Involvement of the laity
Citing the Canon Law article that stresses the important contribution of the laity, the norms of the Motu proprio provide that the Metropolitan, in conducting the investigations, can avail himself of the help of “qualified persons”, according to “the needs of the individual case and, in particular, taking into account the cooperation that can be offered by the lay faithful”. The Pope has repeatedly stated that the specializations and professional skills of the laity represent an important resource for the Church. The norms now provide that Episcopal Conferences and Dioceses may prepare lists of qualified persons willing to collaborate, but the ultimate responsibility for investigations remains with the Metropolitan.

Presumption of innocence
The principle of presumption of innocence of the person under investigation is reaffirmed. The accused will be informed of the investigation when requested to do so by the competent Dicastery. The accusation must be notified only if formal proceedings are opened. If deemed appropriate, in order to ensure the integrity of the investigation or of the evidence, this notification may be omitted during the preliminary stage.

Conclusion of the investigation
The Motu proprio does not modify the penalties for crimes committed, but it does establish the procedures for reporting and carrying out the preliminary investigation. At the conclusion of the investigation, the Metropolitan (or, in certain cases, the Bishop of the suffragan Diocese with the greatest seniority of appointment) forwards the results to the competent Vatican Dicastery. This completes his contribution. The competent Dicastery then proceeds “in accordance with the law provided for the specific case”, acting on the basis of already existing canonical norms. Based on the results of the preliminary investigation, the Holy See can immediately impose preventive and restrictive measures on the person under investigation.

Concrete commitment
With this new juridical instrument, called for by Pope Francis, the Catholic Church takes a further and incisive step in the prevention and fight against abuse, putting the emphasis on concrete actions. As the Pope writes at the beginning of the document: “In order that these phenomena, in all their forms, never happen again, a continuous and profound conversion of hearts is needed, attested by concrete and effective actions that involve everyone in the Church”.

MOTU PROPRIO ISSUED WITH NEW NORMS FOR SEX ABUSE CASES

MOTU PROPRIO ISSUED WITH NEW NORMS FOR SEX ABUSE CASES

The Holy See today issued the following communiqué on a new motu proprio from Pope Francis:

Pope Francis has promulgated the Apostolic Letter in the Form of Motu proprio “Vos estis lux mundi” concerning new measures to be adopted to prevent and fight sexual abuse committed against minors, against vulnerable persons or abuses carried out with violence, threat or abuse of authority. This Motu proprio, the product of reflection and collaboration during and after the meeting of the Presidents of Episcopal Conferences and Supreme Moderators of the main religious Institutes held last February, represents a further commitment of the Church in this area.

“Vos estis lux mundi” contains several innovative elements that aim to improve coordination between the dioceses and the Holy See. In particular, within a year all dioceses must establish stable and publicly accessible systems to report cases of sexual abuse and their cover up. Furthermore, this Motu proprio obliges all clerics, as well as men and women religious, to report to the competent ecclesiastical authorities the abuses of which they become aware. The reported cases must thereafter be promptly verified and handled in accordance with canon law.

As for reports regarding Bishops, the Motu proprio introduces procedural measures that, as a rule, charge the Metropolitan of the pertinent ecclesiastical Province with verifying what has been reported.

Also established for the first time are time restrictions within which investigations must be carried out, as well as the procedures to be followed by the Metropolitan, who can make use of the specific professional contributions of the lay faithful.

Finally, the Motu proprio emphasizes the care of people harmed and the importance of welcoming them, listening to them and accompanying them, offering them the spiritual and medical assistance they need. It is our profound desire that this new Motu proprio, accompanied by prayer and animated by conversion, will contribute to eliminating the scourge of sexual abuse of minors and the vulnerable.

(JFL: A further statement in English with specific details will follow)