POPE FRANCIS: FUTURE HOLY SEE DIPLOMATS WILL SPEND A YEAR ON MISSION – A VATICAN EDITORIAL ON THE PAPAL LETTER: AMBASSADORS OF A MISSIONARY CHURCH

A fascinating development in one of the Vatican’s most interesting institutions, the Pontifical Ecclesial Academy that trains future diplomats – a year of missionary service as part of the training and studies of future Holy See diplomats.

My very first thought as I read the whole letter this morning was: Will the Amazon be the first and/or main recipient of these diplomatic trainees?

POPE FRANCIS: FUTURE HOLY SEE DIPLOMATS WILL SPEND A YEAR ON MISSION

Pope Francis has sent a letter to the president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, announcing that whoever enters the Vatican’s diplomatic service will be asked to carry out a 12-month missionary experience in a diocese.
By Vatican News

Pope Francis has introduced a year of missionary experience into the curriculum of those preparing to enter service in the Holy See’s diplomatic corps.

The Pope had foreseen this change in his final speech at the Synod on the Amazon, and now it has become a reality.

In a letter to Archbishop Joseph Marino, the new President of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy – which trains nuncios for the Vatican’s diplomatic staff – Pope Francis requests an addition to the curriculum: one year spent on mission within a local Church. The letter is dated 11 February 2020.

The Holy Father expresses his “desire that priests preparing for the diplomatic service of the Holy See devote a year of their training to missionary service in a diocese.”

“I am convinced,” he adds, “that such an experience will be useful for all the young men preparing for or beginning priestly service, but especially for those who will someday be called to work with the Pontifical Representatives and, afterwards, will in turn become Envoys of the Holy See to nations and particular Churches.”

Pope Francis quotes a speech he gave to the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in June 2015: “The mission to which you will be called one day to carry out will take you to all parts of the world. Europe is in need of an awakening; Africa is thirsty for reconciliation; Latin America is hungry for nourishment and interiority; North America is intent on rediscovering the roots of an identity that is not defined by exclusion; Asia and Oceania are challenged by the capacity to ferment in diaspora and to dialogue with the vastness of ancestral cultures.”

In his letter, the Pope adds that “to take on in a positive manner these growing challenges for the Church and the world, future diplomats of the Holy See need to acquire – in addition to a solid priestly and pastoral formation” and that offered by the Academy – “a personal experience of mission outside their own diocese of origin, sharing a portion of their journey with the missionary Churches and their communities, participating in the daily activity of evangelization.”

In this vein, Pope Francis asks Archbishop Marino to “put into practice my desire to enrich the Academy’s formation curriculum with a year dedicated entirely to missionary service in the particular Churches spread throughout the world. This new experience will come into force starting with the students who begin their formation in the next academic year 2020/2021.”

Effecting this change, writes the Pope, will require “first of all close collaboration with the Secretariat of State and, more precisely, with the Section for the Diplomatic Staff of the Holy See (the so-called Third Section), as well as with Pontifical Representatives, who will certainly not fail to provide valuable assistance in identifying the local Churches that are ready to welcome the students and closely follow their experience.”

“I am certain,” concludes Pope Francis, “that – once the initial concerns that may arise in the face of this new style of formation for future diplomats of the Holy See have been overcome – the missionary experience offered will be useful not only to young academics but also to the individual Churches with which they will work. And I hope it will encourage with other priests of the universal Church the desire to make themselves available to carry out a period of missionary service outside their own diocese.”

A VATICAN EDITORIAL ON THE PAPAL LETTER: AMBASSADORS OF A MISSIONARY CHURCH

Pope Francis decides to include a year of mission in the training curriculum of the diplomatic staff of the Holy See.
By Andrea Tornielli

Pope Francis’ decision to include a year spent in mission territory in the training curriculum of diplomatic Nunciature personnel, comes just a few months after the announcement made by the Pope himself in the concluding speech of the Synod for the Amazon. This announcement now becomes reality for new students of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in the academic year 2020/2021.

First, it is interesting to note the context in which this project was first announced: the need for, and difficulty in finding, priests for the missions. The Pope had quoted the negative response one sometimes receives: “No, I am not suitable for this”. “Well,” commented the Pope, “this must be reformed. Young religious have a great vocation and it is necessary to train them in apostolic zeal to go to the peripheries”. Immediately afterwards, Pope Francis spoke of future diplomats, hinting at a “suggestion” he had received: “In the curriculum of the diplomatic service of the Holy See, young priests should spend at least a year in missionary territory. Not doing an internship in the Nunciature as they do now, which is very useful, but simply in the service of a bishop in a place of mission”.

Now this proposal becomes concrete. In his letter to the president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the Pope writes: “I am convinced that such an experience will be useful for all the young men preparing for or beginning priestly service, but especially for those who will someday be called to work with the Pontifical Representatives and, afterwards, will in turn become Envoys of the Holy See to nations and particular Churches”. The commitment of future Apostolic Nuncios will serve as an example, so that other priests will accept the invitation to spend time in mission.

There is no doubt that the decision, now formalized by the Successor of Peter, represents a truly significant change in the course of studies for those who will serve in the Nunciatures and who will, in many cases, be made bishops at a relatively young age. A fundamental piece of the curriculum now becomes the year dedicated to missionary service in the field, far from home, getting one’s hands dirty in pastoral work, in the frontier Churches. A year of change, of fatigue, of new experiences, which will allow a better and deeper understanding of the reality of the Church, of her problems and difficulties, but also of her hopes and the comforting beauty of her daily life. A year that will allow the students of the Ecclesiastical Academy themselves, their superiors and the bishops of their dioceses of origin, to better discern individual vocations. A year that could also dissuade someone from undertaking this service. It will certainly be an experience destined to change the outlook and perspective for those who will one day be called to represent the Pope in various countries, thus underlining the importance for the local Churches of helping the Pope by sending good and capable priests in his service.

Once again, Pope Francis reminds us that the whole Church – diplomatic service included – is either missionary or she is not. She either evangelizes or she is not Church. “If the Church is not on the move, she decays, she becomes something else”, as the Pope stated in the important book interview with Gianni Valente, “Without Him We Can Do Nothing”. In this recent publication that deserves to be taken to heart, Pope Francis says: “Mission is not a tried and tested company plan. Neither is it a public spectacle organized to flaunt how many people are associated with it thanks to our marketing. The Holy Spirit works as He wills, when He wills and where He wills”. “Mission’s mysterious fruitfulness does not consist in our intentions, in our methods, in our impulses and in our initiatives, but rests precisely in this ‘vertigo’: the ‘vertigo’ we perceive when we hear Jesus’ words: ‘Without me you can do nothing’”.

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA DIOCESE CELEBRATES A NATIVE SON – VATICAN INSIDER AND SAINT JOHN HENRY NEWMAN

Synod participants met yesterday and again today in circoli minores, that is, small language groups, for discussions. As they have done by publishing syntheses of speeches given in the synod hall, the Vatican does not publish remarks from or about these language groups.

BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA DIOCESE CELEBRATES A NATIVE SON

As the diocese of Birmingham in England prepares to celebrate the canonization Sunday of English Cardinal John Henry Newman, another diocese of Birmingham – this time in Alabama – is rejoicing today as a native son, Archbishop Joseph Marino was named by Pope Francis to head the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the Vatican school for diplomats.

Archbishop Marino has been in the Holy See’s diplomatic service since 1988, having served in the Philippines, Uruguay, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Malaysia, East Timor and Brunei.

His studies include degrees in theology and biblical theology from the Rome’s Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University while he was in residence at the North American College from 1975 to 1980. He was an associate pastor at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Birmingham for four years. In 1984 he entered the very academy that he now heads, the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy and also returned to the Gregorian for a doctorate in canon law.

Ordained a priest in Birmingham in 1979, he was ordained to the episcopate by the late Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran in Birmingham’s cathedral of St. Paul in March 2008.

VATICAN INSIDER AND SAINT JOHN HENRY NEWMAN

Such an exciting weekend here in Rome as English Cardinal John Henry Newman will be canonized this very Sunday as the first new English saint in about 50 years. Learn more about this prolific prelate, a convert from the Anglican Church to Catholicism, in my conversation with Sister Birgit Dechant, FSO of the International Center of Newman Friends in Rome.

Sr. Birgit is a follower of, expert on and author about the life, work and writings of Cardinal Newman. We examine why Cardinal Newman was so exceptional, his life as an Anglican, his conversion, his work and body of writings as a Catholic priest and his impact on millions over his life ….a rich and multifaceted life…. and since his death.

By the way, on Sunday the Holy Father will give the Universal Church 5 new saints! In addition to Cardinal Newman, the new saints will include Indian Sister Marian Thresia, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family, Italian Sister Giuseppina Vannini, co-foundress of the Daughters of St. Camillus, Brazilian Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes, founder of the Charitable Works Foundation of Sister Dulce and Marguerite Bays, a Swiss consecrated virgin of the Third Order of St. Francis.

I learned that Cardinal John Henry Newman is not only the first new English saint in about 50 years, he is the first English person who has lived since the 17th century officially recognized as a saint!

Why was Newman special? Born in 1801, he was ordained as a Church of England, that is, Anglican priest and was famous already in his 30s for his homilies and writings, including poems, and his dialectical skills. Newman went on to found the Oxford Movement that tried to return to the Church of England many Catholic beliefs and liturgical rites present before the Reformation. In 1845 Newman, joined by some of the Oxford Movement followers, left the Church of England and his teaching post at Oxford University and converted to Catholicism, a life-changing decision after which huge numbers of friends and followers deserted him. But this also enriched the Catholic Church with his thoughts and writings.

Benedict XVI said of Cardinal Newman at his 2010 beatification in Birmingham, English: “Cardinal Newman is a modern man, who took on all of the problems of modernity, he experienced the problem of agnosticism, the impossibility of knowing God, of believing; a man who throughout his life was on a journey, a journey to let himself be transformed by the truth, in a search of great sincerity and great willingness, to learn more, to find and to accept the path to true life.” And we are always on a journey of faith transformed by truth so let’s allow ourselves be inspired by this great English saint.

So tune in Sunday to EWTN to watch the Eucharistic liturgy with the always-moving rite of canonization presided over by Pope Francis

FRANCIS TO FUTURE DIPLOMATS: “NEVER FORGET YOUR WHOLE LIFE IS SERVICE TO THE GOSPEL, TO THE CHURCH” – PHILADELPHIA WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES IS FOCUS OF PRESS CONFERENCE

FRANCIS TO FUTURE DIPLOMATS: “NEVER FORGET YOUR WHOLE LIFE IS SERVICE TO THE GOSPEL, TO THE CHURCH”

Pope Francis Thursday addressed members of the Pontifical Eccesiastical Academy, the Church institution responsible for preparing priests for the diplomatic service of the Holy See, telling them, “Your whole life is at the service of the Gospel and of the Church. Never forget it!”

The Academy, formerly called the Pontifical Academy of Ecclesiastical Nobility, was founded by Pope Clement XI in 1701 with the scope of preparing, through special studies, young ecclesiastics to the Holy See’s diplomatic service. Candidates must be nominated by their bishops. Holy See ambassadors, called apostolic nuncios, are always archbishops (if not so when they are named, they are ordained to the episcopacy).

pontifical ecclesiastical academy

The Cardinal Protector of the Academy is always the Secretary of State, today Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

The future diplomats spend four years at the Academy; two years earning a licentiate in canon law, a JCL, from a Roman university, followed by two years of studies for a doctorate in canon law (JCD). If the students that have been recruited already have a J.C.D. then their time is shortened to two years. Courses include studies in diplomatic history, languages and diplomatic writing and are considered not to be academic, but rather focus on the practical skills needed to serve as a diplomat.

It has happened that a small number of diplomats represent the Holy See who have not been through the formal academic and practical training of the Academy.

The Holy See has diplomatic relations with 180 States, with the European Union and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and relations of a special nature with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)

In his talk to the diplomats-in-training, Pope Francis said it is only the charity of Christ that makes the Church of Rome “universal and credible” to human beings and to the world. This “is the heart of its truth, which does not build walls of division and exclusion, but makes bridges that build communion and recall the whole human race to unity; this is its secret power, which nourishes its unshakable hope, invincible despite momentary defeats.”

Your service, he said, will be to defend the liberty of the Apostolic See, “in order not to betray its mission before God and for the true good of men.” It must not get caught up in factions or “allow itself to be colonized by the popular thoughts of the day, or by the illusory hegemony of the ‘mainstream’.”

Don’t expect “the ground to be ready,” said Francis. Be prepared to “plow it with your hands… in order to prepare it for the seed” in hopeful expectation of a harvest which they, perhaps, may never see. Don’t “fish in aquariums or fish farms,” rather have the courage to go to the margins, to cast “nets and fishing poles” in lesser known areas, without getting used to “eating fish that others have prepared.”

In particular the Holy Father reminded them that their mission will take them all over the world: “To Europe, needing to be awakened; to Africa, thirsty for reconciliation; to Latin America starving for nourishment and interiority; to North America, intent upon rediscovering the roots of an identity that does not define itself in terms of exclusion; in Asia and Oceania, challenged by the capacity of fermenting in diaspora and dialogue with the vastness of ancestral culture.”

PHILADELPHIA WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES IS FOCUS OF PRESS CONFERENCE

This morning in the Holy See Press Office a press conference was held to present the Eighth World Meeting of Families to be held in Philadelphia, U.S.A., from September 22 to 27 on the theme “Love is our mission. The family fully alive.”

World Meerting of Families

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, emphasised that the Meeting is a valuable opportunity to place the family at the center of the Church and of civil society. “The family builds the Church and sustains society. … During the days of the conference, we will present the results of some international research that has scientifically studied this positive influence. The family constantly asks for help and support in the entire ecclesial community – and in the next few days I will write to all the monasteries of the world to ask them to accompany these very important days with their prayers – and from civil society as a whole, which cannot remain indifferent to such beauty and goodness that is so effective and so viable.”

He stressed that “The family is the heritage of all humanity, at every latitude, in every culture; it is blessed by all religions. That is why we wanted a significant presence of other Christian denominations and of major world religious traditions. … We are working so that delegations from around the globe and especially from the world’s poorest local Churches will be present.”

This universality will be enshrined in the final gesture of the meeting, according to Archbishop Paglia who explained that, at the end of Mass on Sunday, September 27, Pope Francis will give the Gospel of Luke, “the Good News of God’s mercy, which is Jesus, to families from big cities on the five continents: Kinshasa, Africa; Havana, America; Hanoi, Asia; Sydney, Australia; and Marseilles, Europe. This is a symbolic gesture that will announce the sending of a million copies of this book to the five cities involved. We want the Gospel of Mercy to be announced in the great cities of the world so that they may build bonds of love between them, in the Church and in society.”

Presenters today also included Bishop John J. McIntyre and Jerry and Lucille Francesco, a couple from the archdiocese, married for fifty years.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia noted that more than a million people are expected to attend, adding that representatives of more than a hundred nations have registered. So far 6,100 volunteers have offered assistance of various types and the event organisers intend to make more than 5,000 buses available. More than 1,600 people have signed up to the “Host a Family” program.

For more information on the events linked to the meeting, visit: http://www.worldmeeting2015.org/

(Vatican Radio) During the course of the conference this morning, journalists learned that the week of festivities will include ecumenical, interreligious, and multicultural celebrations of the family involving an expected 15,000 participants from more than a dozen countries around the globe. For the Holy Father’s public engagements on September 26 and 27, between 1 and 2 million people are expected to take part.

In an exclusive interview with Vatican Radio following the press conference, the Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap. spoke of the irreplacable contribution the Church has to make to the ongoing discussion of the place of the family in society. “The only unique thing that the Church brings to a discussion of family life is the teaching of Jesus Christ,” he said, “and so it seems to me that the most important contribution we make, is to make that teaching very clear, announcing it in a joyful and positive way.”

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter told Vatican Radio his city and its people are ready to welcome Pope Francis.

“It is a tremendous honor to be the host city for the World Meeting of Families,” said Nutter, “and of course, for the visit of Pope Francis.” The mayor went on to say, “Our plans are basically in place: to anticipate over a million people, perhaps as many as 1.5 million,” adding, “the logistics, the security, the transportation,” are all going very well. “We’re very excited,” said Mayor Nutter, “we’re ready.”