STATUES THOWN IN TIBER RECOVERED BY ITALIAN POLICE

STATUES THOWN IN TIBER RECOVERED BY ITALIAN POLICE

Following is a communique from the Holy See Press Office with a transcription of words pronounced off the cuff by Pope Francis this afternoon during the 15th General Congregation at the end of the prayer:

“Good afternoon, I would like to say a word about the statues of the pachamama that were removed from the Traspontina church which were there without idolatrous intentions and were thrown to the Tiber. First of all this happened in Rome and as a bishop of the diocese I ask forgiveness from the people who have been offended by this gesture.

I want to announce that the statues, which have created so much media hype, have been found in the Tiber. The statues are not damaged. The commander of the Italian carabinieri asked that he be informed of this news before it became public. At the moment the news is confidential and the statues are kept in the office of the Italian carabinieri commander.

The carabinieri commander will be happy to follow up on any indication regarding how the news is published and about other initiatives in this regard, for example, “the display of the statues during the closing Mass of the Synod.” We will see. I delegate the Secretary of State to respond to this. This is good news, thanks.

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.

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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 EXPLORES THE ACCU – POPE IN NAPLES: DIALOGUE AND WELCOME FOR MEDITERRANEAN OF PEACE

Today’s talk by Pope Francis in Naples was one of the longest he has given in recent memory – 4.500 words and about a half hour in length, all told. He addressed a two-day, Jesuit-organized conference in Naples on the theme “Theology after Veritatis gaudium in the context of the Mediterranean.”

I started reading the Italian version – the only one published so far – and found I had to re-read some paragraphs and even re-read a third time as they touched on so many topics and ideas and ideologies and usages of the word ‘theology’ that I found myself wishing I was sitting with a theologian, a philosopher and a Church historian.

The priest next to the Pope in this photo is wearing the same expression I probably had as I was reading the discourse, aka, “I’m not sure what you mean!” (I am quite sure this Jesuit Father did understand!)

I really need to spend some more time with theologians to grasp more thoroughly exactly what the word “theology” means and the many contexts in which it can be used (dogmatic theology, moral theology, systematic theology, biblical theology, theology of the body, pastoral theology, a theology of welcoming as the Pope said today, and so on. I know some of those categories but do not understand (and want to) for example, “theology of sports,” “theology of suffering,” “theology of work.”

The most concise definition of theology I ever read (and the first one I ever learned) was: “theology” is derived from two Greek words (theos and logos) that combine to mean “the study of God.”

Even though I spent many hours online researching theology yesterday and today, I have a lot to learn (and just wish I had some time for some formal courses).

VATICAN INSIDER EXPLORES THE ACCU

My special guest this week on Vatican Insider is Michael Galligan-Stierle, outgoing president and CEO of ACCU, the Washington, D.C.-based Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities. I’ve known Michael and his wife Pamela for a number of years and we renew that friendship every June when Michael leads the ACCU’s annual Rome seminar for university and college presidents.

We look at Michael’s decades-long career in education, ACCU’s history and structure and mission, its members, how one becomes a member, the benefits of joining ACCU, the difference between college and university, the many advantages of attending a Catholic university, the annual Rome seminar and much more!

IN THE UNITED STATES, you can listen to Vatican Insider (VI) on a Catholic radio station near you (stations listed at http://www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio, or on http://www.ewtn.com. OUTSIDE THE U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” VI airs at 5am and 9pm ET on Saturdays and 6am ET on Sundays. On the GB-IE feed (which is on SKY in the UK and Ireland), VI airs at 5:30am, 12 noon and 10pm CET on Sundays. Both of these feeds are also available on the EWTN app and on http://www.ewtnradio.net ALWAYS CHECK YOUR OWN TIME ZONE! For VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/audio-library/index.asp (write Vatican Insider where it says Search Shows and Episodes)

POPE IN NAPLES: DIALOGUE AND WELCOME FOR MEDITERRANEAN OF PEACE

Pope Francis makes a strong appeal for a theology of welcome based on dialogue and proclamation, that contributes to building a fraternal society among the peoples of the Mediterranean.

The Pope’s speech concluded a two-day conference in Naples on the theme “Theology after Veritatis gaudium in the context of the Mediterranean.” With that Apostolic Constitution, Pope Francis provided for a renewal of theological studies in the context of a Church that goes forth.

Pope Francis began his reflection by recalling that “the Mediterranean has always been a place of transit, exchange, and sometimes even conflict” and today it is a place that “poses a series of questions, often dramatic. To face them – he observes – we need “a theology of welcoming”, aimed “at developing an authentic and sincere dialogue (…) for the construction of peace in an inclusive and fraternal society and for the protection of creation”.

Dialogue and kerygma
The Pope indicates two elements, kerygma, that is, the proclamation of Christ who has died and risen, and dialogue, as “criteria” for renewing studies for a Church that puts evangelization at its center. Dialogue is above all a “method of discernment” and of proclamation, capable of relating to every human situation. It is Saint Francis of Assisi who outlines how dialogue and proclamation can take place, by witnessing to God’s love for all men and women. It requires docility to the Spirit, that is, “a style of life and proclamation without a spirit of conquest, without a desire for proselytism and without an aggressive intent to refute”. It is a dialogue with people and their cultures that also includes witnessing to the point of sacrificing life as did, among others, Charles de Foucauld, the monks of Tibhirine, and the bishop of Oran, Pierre Claverie.

Dialogue with Muslims and Jews
This dialogue was established by encouraging courses in Arabic and Hebrew language and culture in the theological faculties to foster relations with Judaism and Islam in order to understand common roots and differences. With Muslims, he says, “we are called to dialogue to build the future of our societies and our cities,” “to consider them partners to build a peaceful coexistence, even when there are shocking episodes by fanatical groups that are enemies of dialogue, such as the tragedy of last Easter in Sri Lanka.”

“Yesterday the Cardinal of Colombo told me this: ‘After I did everything I had to do, I realized that a group of people, Christians, wanted to go to the Muslim neighborhood to kill them. I invited the imam with me, in the car, and we both went there to convince the Christians that we are friends, that these are extremists, that they are not our own.’ This is an attitude of closeness and dialogue.”

With Jews, we are called to “live our relationship better on the religious level”. The Mediterranean – the Pope observes – is a “bridge” between Europe, Africa and Asia, a space in which to build a “great tent of peace” where the different children of the common father Abraham can live together.

Theology of Compassion
The Pope launches an appeal to theologians: “In this continuous journey of going out of oneself and meeting with the other, it is important that theologians be men and women of compassion, touched by the oppressed life of many, by the slavery of today, by social wounds, by violence, by wars and by the enormous injustices suffered by so many poor people who live on the shores of this ‘common sea’. Without communion and without compassion, constantly nourished by prayer, theology not only loses its soul, but loses its intelligence and ability to interpret reality in a Christian way.”

Therefore, it deals with the complex events of “aggressive and warlike attitudes,” “colonial practices,” “justifications for wars” and “persecutions carried out in the name of a religion or a claimed racial or doctrinal purity.” The method of dialogue, guided by mercy, can enrich a reinterpretation of this painful history by promoting also “by contrast, the prophecies of peace that the Spirit has never failed to arouse.”

“Now that Western Christianity has learned from many errors and criticisms of the past, it can return to its sources, hoping to be able to bear witness to the Good News to the peoples of East and West, North and South. Theology (…) can help the Church and civil society to get back on the road in the company of many shipwrecked people, encouraging the people of the Mediterranean to reject any temptation to re-conquest and to identitarian closure”.

Theological Pentecost
The task of theology is to tune in to the Risen Jesus and “reach the peripheries,” “even those of thought.. In this sense, theologians must “encourage an encounter of cultures with the sources of Revelation and Tradition,” but the Pope warns, although “the great theological syntheses of the past” are mines of theological wisdom, they “cannot be applied mechanically to current issues”: “It is a matter of treasuring them to seek new ways. Thanks be to God, the first sources of theology, that is, the Word of God and the Holy Spirit, are inexhaustible and always fruitful; therefore, one can and must work in the direction of a ‘theological Pentecost’, which allows the women and men of our time to listen ‘in their own language’ to a Christian reflection that responds to their search for meaning and full life.”

To do this, it is necessary to “start again from the Gospel of mercy” because theology is born in the midst of concrete human beings, met with the gaze of God who goes in search of them with love: “Practicing theology is also an act of mercy (…). Even good theologians, like good shepherds, smell of the people and the streets and, with their reflections, pour oil and wine on the wounds of men. Theology should be the expression of a Church that is a ‘field hospital’, that lives its mission of salvation and healing in the world!

The Pope emphasizes that “theological freedom” is necessary because without the possibility of experimenting with new paths, nothing new is created: “everything must be oriented” to “encourage as much as possible the participation of those who wish to study theology”, such as lay men and women, in addition to seminarians and religious. “I dream of theological faculties where one lives the conviviality of differences, where one practices a theology of dialogue and acceptance; where one experiences the model of the polyhedron of theological knowledge in place of a static and disembodied sphere. Where theological research is able to promote a challenging but compelling process of inculturation.”

The theology after Veritatis gaudium, concludes Pope Francis, is therefore in dialogue with cultures and religions “for the construction of the peaceful coexistence of individuals and peoples.” (source: vaticannews.va)

POPE FRANCIS LAYS OUT 21 GUIDELINES FOR PROTECTING MINORS

POPE FRANCIS LAYS OUT 21 GUIDELINES FOR PROTECTING MINORS

In his brief remarks in the opening morning of the Vatican’s Meeting for the Protection of Minors, Pope Francis laid out 21 reflection points, suggested guidelines to be used by all present at the current meeting and in eventual follow-up in dioceses for the worldwide protection of minors. Francis noted that these guidelines came from Episcopal conferences: “They are a simple point of departure that came from you and now return to you.” (Vatican media photo)

Following is his talk:

Dear Brothers, good morning! In light of the scourge of sexual abuse perpetrated by ecclesiastics to the great harm of minors, I wanted to consult you, Patriarchs, Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, and Religious Superiors and Leaders, so that together we might listen to the Holy Spirit and, in docility to his guidance, hear the cry of the little ones who plead for justice.

In this meeting, we sense the weight of the pastoral and ecclesial responsibility that obliges us to discuss together, in a synodal, frank and in-depth manner, how to confront this evil afflicting the Church and humanity. The holy People of God look to us, and expect from us not simple and predictable condemnations, but concrete and effective measures to be undertaken. We need to be concrete. So we begin this process armed with faith and a spirit of great parrhesia, courage and concreteness.

As a help, I would share with you some important criteria formulated by the various Episcopal Commissions and Conferences – they came from you and I have organized them somewhat. They are guidelines to assist in our reflection, and they will now be distributed to you. They are a simple point of departure that came from you and now return to you. They are not meant to detract from the creativity needed in this meeting.

In your name, I would also like to thank the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the members of the Organizing Committee for their outstanding and dedicated work in preparing for this meeting. Many thanks! Finally, I ask the Holy Spirit to sustain us throughout these days, and to help us to turn this evil into an opportunity for awareness and purification. May the Virgin Mary enlighten us as we seek to heal the grave wounds that the scandal of paedophilia has caused, both in the little ones and in believers. Thank you.

REFLECTION POINTS

1. To prepare a practical handbook indicating the steps to be taken by authorities at key moments when a case emerges.

2. To equip oneself with listening structures that include trained and expert people who can initially discern the cases of the alleged victims.

3. Establish the criteria for the direct involvement of the Bishop or of the Religious Superior.

4. Implement shared procedures for the examination of the charges, the protection of the victims and the right of defense of the accused.

5. Inform the civil authorities and the higher ecclesiastical authorities in compliance with civil and canonical norms.

6. Make a periodic review of protocols and norms to safeguard a protected environment for minors in all pastoral structures: protocols and norms based on the integrated principles of justice and charity so that the action of the Church in this matter is in conformity with her mission.

7. Establish specific protocols for handling accusations against Bishops.

8. Accompany, protect and treat victims, offering them all the necessary support for a complete recovery.

9. Increase awareness of the causes and consequences of sexual abuse through ongoing formation initiatives of Bishops, Religious Superiors, clerics and pastoral workers.

10. Prepare pathways of pastoral care for communities injured by abuses and penitential and recovery routes for the perpetrators.

11. To consolidate the collaboration with all people of good will and with the operators of mass media in order to recognize and discern real cases from false ones and accusations of slander, avoiding rancor and insinuations, rumors and defamation (cf. Pope Francis’ address to the Roman Curia, 21 December 2018).

12. To raise the minimum age for marriage to sixteen years.***

13. Establish provisions that regulate and facilitate the participation of lay experts in investigations and in the different degrees of judgment of canonical processes concerning sexual and / or power abuse.

14. The right to defense: the principle of natural and canon law of presumption of innocence must also be safeguarded until the guilt of the accused is proven. Therefore, it is necessary to prevent the lists of the accused being published, even by the dioceses, before the preliminary investigation and the definitive condemnation.

15. Observe the traditional principle of proportionality of punishment with respect to the crime committed. To decide that priests and bishops guilty of sexual abuse of minors leave the public ministry.

16. Introduce rules concerning seminarians and candidates for the priesthood or religious life. Be sure that there are programs of initial and ongoing formation to help them develop their human, spiritual and psychosexual maturity, as well as their interpersonal relationships and their behavior.

17. Be sure to have psychological evaluations by qualified and accredited experts for candidates for the priesthood and consecrated life.

18. Establish norms governing the transfer of a seminarian or religious aspirant from one seminary to another; as well as a priest or religious from one diocese or congregation to another.

19. Formulate mandatory codes of conduct for all clerics, religious, service personnel and volunteers to outline appropriate boundaries in personal relationships. Be specific about the necessary requirements for staff and volunteers and check their criminal record.

20. Explain all information and data on the dangers of abuse and its effects, how to recognize signs of abuse and how to report suspected sexual abuse. All this must take place in collaboration with parents, teachers, professionals and civil authorities.

21. Where it has not yet been in place, establish a group easily accessible for victims who want to report any crimes. Such an organization should have a certain autonomy with respect to the local ecclesiastical authority and include expert persons (clerics and laity) who know how to express the Church’s attention to those who have been offended by improper attitudes on the part of clerics.

*** On this point, Abp. Scicluna noted in the afternoon press briefing that universal Canon law now has the minimum age for marriage for girls at 14 and for boys at 16. He said the Pope wishes the age to be uniformly 16 for both boys and girls, adding that national Episcopal conferences have had the power to change the minimum age, given circumstances and the cultures in their countries.

WYD, “A GREAT SYMPHONY OF FACE AND LANGUAGES” – HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PAPAL AGENDA FOR 2019

I want my many friends and family members who live in the States struck by the polar vortex that I am praying for you every day, principally that you remain healthy and do not encounter any life-threatening moments during what some media are calling a historical time. Prayers especially for those alone, for the elderly, the newborn and the very young!

FYI: This is what I saw when I just clicked on a link to an article about the NFL in the Baltimore Sun: “Unfortunately, our website is currently unavailable in most European countries. We are engaged on the issue and committed to looking at options that support our full range of digital offerings to the EU market. We continue to identify technical compliance solutions that will provide all readers with our award-winning journalism.”

This is due to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation 2016/679, a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union and the European Economic Area. It also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU and EEA areas.

Happens to me daily with a lot of U.S. papers whose articles I might want to read online – Chicago Tribune, etc. VERY annoying!

WYD, “A GREAT SYMPHONY OF FACE AND LANGUAGES”

As is customary for a Pope after completing a trip, at today’s general audience in the Paul VI Hall, Pope Francis spoke about his just-completed journey to Panama for World Youth Day 2019.

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,” he began, “Today I ask you to join me in thanking God for the graces he bestowed on the Church and on the people of Panama during my recent visit for World Youth Day. I thank the President and other authorities and particularly the volunteers for their warm welcome. The groups of people gathered there formed a great symphony of faces and languages typical of this event and the sight of the waving of so many flags was a prophetic sign that young Christians are a leaven of peace for the world.”

He noted that “one of the elements of World Youth Day is always the Way of the Cross. In Panama, the youth carried with Jesus and Mary the suffering of many brothers and sisters in Central America and beyond, especially those affected by forms of slavery and poverty, and by HIV/Aids.”

The Holy Father then turned to the Mass on Sunday, saying “the Risen Christ spoke afresh to young people, calling them to live the Gospel today, because they are the ‘today’ of the Church and the world.”

Then, in reference to his consecration of the new altar of Panama’s 400-year old cathedral, he noted that, “the oil of Chrism was used to consecrate the altar in the restored Cathedral in Panama, that which also anoints those being baptized, confirmed or ordained, and enables families to draw life from the Holy Spirit so as to continue their pilgrimage throughout the world as young missionary disciples of Jesus Christ.”

At the end of the English summary of his catechesis, via an interpreter, Pope Francis said, “I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s audience, especially those from the United States of America. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the Lord’s blessings of joy and peace. God bless you!”

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PAPAL AGENDA FOR 2019

Pope Francis has just completed his first major trip and event of the New Year, returning 48 hours ago from Panama where he celebrated World Youth Day 2019 with an estimated five million plus young people.

He barely unpacked one suitcase and is now getting ready to pack for his second foreign trip of the year, three days in the United Arab Emirates.

Here’s a look at some of the highlights on the papal agenda for 2019. And there’s always room to add something important, so stay tuned.

United Arab Emirates
February will be particularly busy for the Holy Father. From February 3 to 5, Pope Francis becomes the first Pope to visit the United Arab Emirates. The Journey’s central theme surrounds inter-religious dialogue and solidarity among members of different faiths. The leaders of the UAE declared 2019 as a “Year of Tolerance” with the goal of promoting a culture free of religious fundamentalism.

Council of Cardinals and Curial reform
From February 18 to 20, the 28th meeting of the Council of Cardinals will take place in the Vatican. The focus will be on the revision of the Constitution of the Roman Curia, Pastor Bonus. A new proposal was presented last December to Pope Francis, under the title “Praedicate evangelium”. Its goal is to help the Vatican’s governing body become more responsive to the need of a missionary Church.

February meeting against abuse
Probably the most-awaited papal event of 2019 takes place in the Vatican from February 21 to 24 February when Pope Francis will meet all Presidents of Bishops’ Conferences to discuss how to prevent the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults. It promises to be a pivotal meeting in the fight against sexual abuse, as well as abuse of power and conscience, which are carried out by some members of the Church. Speaking to the Roman Curia in December 2018, Pope Francis said no excuse for following the path of truth and justice will be tolerated.

Journey to Morocco
On March 30 and 31, Pope Francis travels to Morocco, 33 years after Pope St. John Paul II’s historic visit on August 19, to Casablanca. The Pope will continue in his predecessor’s path of promoting mutual comprehension and inter-religious dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

Bulgaria & Macedonia
After a short rest in April, the Holy Father heads across the Adriatic Sea to visit Bulgaria and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on May 5 to 7. In Bulgaria he will visit the cities of Sofia and Rakovski. Then he travels to the Macedonian city of Skopje, where Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, founder of the Missionaries of Charity, was born. Catholics in these two Balkan nations are a tiny minority amidst the Orthodox majority, so promoting ecumenism will be high on the Pope’s to-do list.

Pope’s visit to Japan
Pope Francis openly told a group of Japanese visitors to the Vatican in September 2018 that he hopes to travel to Japan in 2019. He confirmed that he will travel there in November 2019 during remarks to journalists on the January 23rd flight from Rome to Panama for World Youth Day. During the encounter, the Pope recalled that, in 1585, a group of 4 Japanese young people arrived in Rome with several Jesuit missionaries to visit Pope Gregory XIII.

Amazonian Synod
Later in the year, the Synod of Bishops meets in October to discuss the Pan-Amazonia region. The Pope called for the special assembly on the theme “Amazonia: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology”. Many themes, not limited to ecology, form the center-of-attention for the 7 Bishops’ Conferences and 9 nations involved.

(source: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-01/pope-francis-agenda-2019-journeys-abuse-reform.html)

POPE TO ACADEMY FOR LIFE: PROMOTE HUMANISM OF FRATERNITY

The Pontifical Academy for Life was originally instituted by St. John Paul on February 11, 1994 with the Motu proprio “Vitae mysterium.” It was dedicated to “study, information and formation on the principal problems of biomedicine and of law, relative to the promotion and defense of life, above all in the direct relation that they have with Christian morality and the directives of the Church’s Magisterium”.

In 2016 and 2017 Pope Francis overhauled one of the stars of his predecessor’s pontificate, creating a new academy, statues and members, including at least one who is pro-abortion. Remarkably the original requirement for members to sign a “Declaration of the Servants of Life” was removed. This aimed at making explicit the members’ willingness to follow Church teaching on the sacredness of human life and to defend life on the Magisterium’s teaching.

Pope Francis also included the idea of “human ecology” and creation in outlining the focal points of the academy.

Today’s papal message comes just before 46th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. on Friday, January 18, and the 13th edition of the March for Life in Paris on Sunday, January 20.

The Vatican news portal on Monday published a Message from Francis to the Paris March with words of encouragement.

As I read – and re-read – today’s Message I noted something interesting: the words “right to life,” “pro-life” and “unborn” do not appear. “Abortion” appears once. Humanism 5 times, humanity 5 times, human 9 times (separate from humanity and humanism).

POPE TO ACADEMY FOR LIFE: PROMOTE HUMANISM OF FRATERNITY

On the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Pope Francis calls on its members to promote human fraternity and a humanism of life.
By Christopher Wells (vaticannews)

Pope Francis made the “human community” the focus of a letter addressed to the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life on the 25th anniversary of its foundation by Pope St John Paul II. (vaticannews photo)

God’s dream
“The human community is God’s dream even from before the creation of the world,” the Pope said, emphasizing that we must “grow in the awareness of our common origin in God’s love and creative act.” He explained that “in our time, the Church is called once more to propose the humanism of the life that bursts forth from God’s passion for human beings.”

A state of emergency
After briefly reviewing the history of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Pope Francis went on to outline the “serious obstacles” facing humanity today. In particular, he noted the “state of emergency existing in our relationship with the history of the earth and its peoples.” This emergency, rooted in concern for oneself at the expense of the common good, has led to a paradox: despite rapid economic and technological progress, humanity finds itself “creating our most bitter divisions and our worst nightmares.”

A difficult task for the Church
In response, the Pope said, the Church is called to react against the negativity that “foments division, indifference, and hostility.” This is a difficult task for the Church, which is in danger of failing to recognize the gravity of the contemporary emergency. “It’s time,” he said, “for a new vision aimed at promoting a humanism of fraternity and solidarity between individuals and peoples.”

Speaking of the future of the Academy, Pope Francis said, “We need to enter into the language of men and women today, making the Gospel message incarnate in their concrete experience.” He expressed his hope that the Pontifical Academy for Life might be “a place for courageous dialogue in the service of the common good.” In particular, the Pope spoke of the importance of seeking universal criteria for making decisions, as well as a deepening understanding of the relationship between rights and duties. He called, too, for continued study of “emergent” and “convergent” technologies, mentioning specifically information and communication technologies, biotechnologies, nanotechnologies, and robotics.

The unkept promise of modernity
Finally, Pope Francis said, “The kind of medicine, economy, technology, and politics that develop within the modern city of man must also, above all, remain subject to the judgment rendered by the peripheries of the earth.” We should remember, he said, “that fraternity remains the unkept promise of modernity.”

“The strengthening of fraternity,” he said in conclusion, “generated in the human family by the worship of God in spirit and truth, is the new frontier of Christianity.”

Read the full text of Pope Francis’ Letter to the President of the Pontifical Academy for Life for the 25th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Academy.  http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/letters/2019/documents/papa-francesco_20190106_lettera-accademia-vita.html

 

20 FORMER LATIN AMERICAN HEADS OF STATE WRITE POPE FRANCIS

FYI: Reports are that Starbucks is set to open two stores in Rome in the fall of 2019 – one in the neighborhood of the Vatican Museums and the second in the center of Rome, a location still top secret. Starbucks debuted in Milan last year and is apparently doing well in what is known as the Reserve Roastery. The U.S. chain is due to open new stores there, including one at Milan’s Malpensa Airport.

I am curious to know the numbers at the Milan stores, in particular the number of Italians who frequent this café as opposed to tourists, foreigners and visitors. The typical Italian loves his espresso or cappuccino as prepared at home, at the neighorhood bar or a favorite bar near work. They are very loyal coffee drinkers and café customers.

20 FORMER LATIN AMERICAN HEADS OF STATE WRITE POPE FRANCIS

A fascinating article that appeared in the Rome newspaper IL MESSAGERO, written by its Vatican correspondent Franca Giansoldati: This is a translation from the Italian:

Vatican City – With a never seen before, almost spectacular initiative, 20 former Latin American heads of State have taken to pen and paper to send a shocking letter to Pope Francis, substantially contesting the appeal made on Christmas Day from the basilica loggia on the situation in Venezuela and Nicaragua, an invocation to concord between the parties in conflict Urbi et Orbi Message: “This time of blessing – Pope Bergoglio said – allows Venezuela to find harmony and all the social components to work fraternally for the development of the country and to assist the weakest sections of the population.”

According to the signatories of the letter, the appeal formulated in this way risks giving a somewhat approximate political vision of the seriousness of the general situation. In the letter sent to the Pope on the initiative of IDEA (the democratic initiative of Spain and the Americas) that also appeared in various local press organs, we read: “In this way there is no emphasis on the fact that Venezuelans are the victims of oppression of a militarized narco-dictatorship, which has no qualms about systematically conciliating the rights to life, liberty and personal integrity.”

The 20 former presidents explain to Pope Francis they are aware of his concerns about the suffering suffered by both Venezuelans and Nicaraguans. “The former are victims of the oppression of a militarized narco-dictatorship (…), the second in a wave of repression that has caused 300 deaths and 2,500 injured.” In Venezuela, they add, deliberate policies aimed at a corruption are carried out in a systematic way that is scandalizing the world while people are impoverished to the point that they no longer have even medicines. What they tell the Pope is that his appeal, structured in that way, risks being understood as “a request to the oppressed peoples, who are victims to agree with their respective torturers,” particularly in the case of Venezuela, where “there it is a government that has caused 3 million refugees” and where the prospect, for 2019, is to reach 5.4 million, according to UN figures.

“The expressions of His Holiness that we know to be in good faith and dictated by his spirit as a pastor can also be interpreted in a negative way for the majority of Venezuelans and Nicaraguans. Especially when there is currently, in both countries, a political disagreement that calls for tolerance and understanding, between forces of speech and distant narratives, within a very democratic framework “where lying is elevated to a system, where there is no freedom of the press, on the contrary, where the different voices risk prison and persecution and often death as well as the American and European human rights.

Signatories include: Oscar Arias, Costa Rica; Nicolás Ardito Barletta, Panama; Enrique Bolaños, Nicaragua; Alfredo Cristiani, El Salvador; Felipe Calderón, México; Rafael Ángel Calderón, Costa Rica; Laura Chinchilla, Costa Rica; Fernando De la Rúa, Argentina; Vicente Fox, México; Eduardo Frei, Chile; César Gaviria T., Colombia; Osvaldo Hurtado, Ecuador; Luis Alberto Lacalle, Uruguay, Jamil Mahuad, Ecuador; Mireya Moscoso, Panama; Andrés Pastrana A., Colombia; Jorge Tuto Quiroga, Bolivia; Miguel Ángel Rodríguez, Costa Rica; Álvaro Uribe V., Colombia; Juan Carlos Wasmosy, Paraguay. The petitioners then ask for a meeting, even at the Vatican, “under favorable circumstances”.

Since the beginning of his mandate, Pope Francis has spent himself in trying to find a way to mediate the Venezuelan crisis. He invited Maduro to the Vatican, he sent people of trust to Caracas, he followed the facts with apprehension through the bishops, the nuncio but especially through Cardinal Parolin (who was nuncio to Caracas until 2013) and the Deputy Pena Parra, recently called to the Secretariat of State. The Venezuelan stall remains one of the thorns in the side. There has been no shortage of appeals for refugees who continue to flee because of poverty, uncertainty and persecution against opponents of the system.

The Venezuelan bishops yesterday, during a plenary assembly, affirmed that Maduro’s new mandate is illegitimate. In the current situation “it’s a pity – they write – that it shouts to the heavens to want to keep the power at all costs and try to prolong the bankruptcy and inefficiency of these last decades: it is morally unacceptable! God does not want the people to suffer submitting to injustice ». Hence the urgency to arrive at a solution and a change. The bishops consider the vote of 20 May to be illegitimate for the election of the President of the Republic, as well as the National Constituent Assembly imposed by the executive branch. Therefore “the intention to start a new presidential term on 10 January 2019 – the bishops continue – is illegitimate because of its origin and opens a door to the non recognition of the government because it lacks the democratic support in justice and law”.