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

“VATICAN INSIDER” EXPLORES VENERABLE ENGLISH COLLEGE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NUNCIO TO FRANCE INVESTIGATED FOR ALLEGED SEXUAL ASSAULT

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

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

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

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WEBSITE STANDS BEHIND STORY ABOUT BOLIVIAN CARDINAL-ELECT – NEW APOSTOLIC NUNCIO ARRIVES IN SOUTH KOREA

WEBSITE STANDS BEHIND STORY ABOUT BOLIVIAN CARDINAL-ELECT

This is a follow-up to what I posted yesterday about the news broken in a tweet by Edward Pentin that the Bolivian cardinal-elect, retired Bishop Toribio Ticona, is reported to have a “wife” and “children.” The original story appeared in Adelante La Fe. Pentin has asked the Vatican to respond to this: no answer as I write these words. (https://joansrome.wordpress.com/2018/05/29/vatican-asked-to-confirm-if-bolivian-cardinal-elect-is-married-with-children/)

I re-read the original article in Spanish and also followed the comments and tweets on the story. One reader asked: what is the source for this story?

I saw an answer to this question written by one Miguel Angel Yanez who is, it seems, the director (editor, moderator)) of Adelante La Fe. Following is his tweet – and following that is my translation:

Miguel Angel Yáñez Moderador emma • hace 2 días
Las fuentes somos nosotros, que hemos dado la noticia en exclusiva. Está totalmente documentada, sólo por motivos de confidencialidad no podemos publicar ni revelar las fuentes. Esto es un tema sobradamente conocido en su diócesis y del cual tienen pleno conocimiento las autoridades, incluida la nunciatura en Bolivia.

YANEZ: “We are the sources who gave that news in exclusive. It is totally documented, only for reasons of confidentiality we cannot publish or reveal the sources. This is a matter that is more than well known in his diocese, about which the authorities are fully aware, including the nunciature in Bolivia.”

I tried to tweet the following in response to his tweet: This is too important not to have the truth – la verdad. Faithful Catholics have a right to know. Please furnish concrete details. At this point, confidentiality could be damaging to far more people than just one “family.”

I also tried to reach him via Facebook but had to send a friend request – no answer as I write these words. (Just about to hit POST when I heard from Yanez – in a word, he stands 100% behind the Adelante La Fe story)

In the meantime Adelante la Fe has posted an update in answer to the statement made yesterday afternoon by Bishop Ticona (see below).

To summarize and translate just the first lines, the update says: “The information is totally truthful and has been in the public domain at all levels in the diocese of Oruro for many years now. The nunciature in Bolivia (and the site shows a photocopy of a page of a nunciature document with names blacked out to protect confidentiality) for some days now has a detailed two-page report made under oath that details the names of witnesses, houses where the couple lived and including the school of the children. This is not a question of rumors but of first hand witnesses, including neighbors.”

Specific school names and home addresses are then outlined, as is the name of the pharmacy where the family bought medicines (witness given by the pharmacist). The website notes that, since the publication of this news, there are many who are trying to silence the witnesses.

The last sentence before the photo of the nunciature document (with a seal); “This is the truth and only the truth, no matter who may disagree.”

Yesterday, the Bolivian Episcopal Conference released a statement by Bishop Toribio Ticona. Here is the CNA story from Bolivia:

La Paz, Bolivia, May 29, 2018 / 12:25 pm (CNA).- In a statement Tuesday, Bolivian bishop and Cardinal-elect Toribio Ticona strongly denounced rumors that he has a wife and children.

“As a result of the false accusation which is being spread in the media regarding my private life, it is my duty to declare and emphatically make clear that its content does not correspond to the truth,” Bishop Ticona said in a statement released by the Bolivian Bishops’ Conference.
The bishop said he interprets the rumors as an attack not only against himself, but against Pope Francis, who recently chose him to be elevated to the position of cardinal.

“If these accusations persist, I will have no problem filing a libel lawsuit against those promoting or propagating this,” he said.

Ticona said that similar rumors surfaced in 2011, but “ended up being simple calumny.”

“Personally, I am happy that these accusations should come out at this time, in order to definitively close the case,” he added.

Earlier this week, the blog Adelante la Fe reported that “It is a well-known fact that while (Ticona) was serving his office in Corocoro, he was living (as husband and wife) with a lady in Oruro’s chancery. She and her children are proud to be called wife and children of the Patacamaya bishop, as Bishop Toribio Ticona is also known.”

However, in a May 29 article in Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, journalist Franca Giansoldati reported that the Vatican has carried out “deep investigations” of the claims, which found that “nothing is true” regarding the rumors.

The Vatican has not yet responded publicly to the claims.

Earlier this month, Pope Francis announced that he would be holding a June consistory to create 14 new cardinals who express the “universality” of the Church. Francis made particular note of his election of Bishop Ticona along with two other bishops, saying that they “have distinguished themselves for their service to the Church.”

Ticona, 81, is Bishop Emeritus of the Cora Cora Prelature in Bolivia, and has been described as a charismatic figure and an advocate for the poor.
Upon being named a cardinal by Pope Francis, Ticona said it was “a great surprise” and that he thanked God for the honor.

Ticona was born to a poor Bolivian family in 1937, and worked as a shoe shiner, newspaper vendor and a mayor. Influenced heavily by the Belgian priests at his home parish, Ticona entered San Cristóbal seminary in 1960 and on January 29, 1967 was ordained a priest.

He was named Auxiliary Bishop of Potosí in 1986, and in 1992 was made the Prelature of Cora Cora in La Paz.

After learning of his election as a cardinal, the Bolivian Bishops’ Conference said that, “Bishop Toribio embodies the vocation of a humble priest who serves. Our Church joins in giving thanks to the Lord for this gift.”

NEW APOSTOLIC NUNCIO ARRIVES IN SOUTH KOREA

A news story on a happier note by Robin Gomes (Vatican news):

Archbishop Alfred Xuereb of Malta, Apostolic Nuncio to South Korea conveyed Pope Francis’ blessing and wishes for the Church and for peace and reconciliation on the peninsula, and pledged to further the unity of the country’s Catholics and pastors with the Holy See.

Archbishop Xuereb, the Holy See’s new Apostolic Nuncio to South Korea and Mongolia, arrived in Seoul on May 27 at the start of his diplomatic mission in South Korea.

Korean bishops and representatives of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea (CBCK) welcomed him at Incheon International Airport where he addressed a press conference.

Commitment to Church

“The prime role of a nuncio,” he said, “is to help worshippers and pastors at local churches. I will meet with bishops in Korea as soon as possible and listen to what they have to say.”

“I will also work to more closely unify the Holy See and the Korean church,” the Maltese archbishop said.

He said that during a farewell Mass with Pope Francis in the Vatican on Thursday, the Holy Father send his apostolic blessing to the Korean bishops and faithful.

Korean peace and reconciliation
He said that the Pope is well informed about the situation on the Korean peninsula and has great hopes that the peace and reconciliation talks that started with the April 27 summit at the Truce Village of Panmunjom will continue and be successful so that future generations will have a peaceful and prosperous future.

“He told me, ‘Please assure the Korean people and also the bishops that he will continue praying that future generations will have a future of stability and prosperity,’” the 59-year old archbishop said during Sunday’s press conference. “As a papal representative in South Korea,” he said, “I will convey his thoughts and wishes to authorities in Korea.”

In the Vatican since 2000, Archbishop Xuereb has served Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Pope Francis. On February 26, Pope Francis appointed him archbishop and Apostolic Nuncio to South Korea and Mongolia. Pope Francis consecrated him bishop on March 19 in Rome’s St. Peter’s Basilica.