FRIDAY AT THE VATICAN: PAPAL MEETINGS AND THE JUBILEE OF CHOIRS – VATICAN INSIDER IN HAWAII: BISHOP LARRY SILVA OF HONOLULU

FRIDAY AT THE VATICAN: PAPAL MEETINGS AND THE JUBILEE OF CHOIRS

This morning the Holy Father had a number of private audiences and he also met with several groups, addressing members of the John Paul II Foundation as well as the participants in an international meeting of the pastoral ministry for vocations promoted by the Congregation for Clergy

Francis’ private audiences included a meeting with Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy and a separate one with Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, president of APSA, the Administration for the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.

While no communiqués are given about the content of these private meetings, Cardinal Calcagno’s office, APSA, which handles real estate holdings, has been under fire from seven fellow cardinals who live in a Vatican-owned building, part of which, according reports, will soon be leased out by the Vatican to McDonald’s for €30,000 a month. It seems that several of the cardinals have written to the Pope about the matter. In addition, there has been general consternation about this potential tenant in this much-trafficked neighborhood, filled with souvenir stores, coffee bars and restaurants.

Today, Friday we saw the start of the three-day Jubilee of Choirs and Liturgical Animators that has brought together liturgical directors, choir directors, musicians, choirs, organists, schools of sacred music, and musical bands that serve liturgy. They met today on the theme “Music in Liturgy for Evangelization.” Tomorrow there will be a celebration with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square, and later that afternoon a concert in the Paul VI Hall with the participation of all the choirs. Sunday participants will attend a Jubilee Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica that will be presided over by Abp. Rino Fisichella. That will be followed by the recitation of the Angelus by Pope Francis.

VATICAN INSIDER IN HAWAII: BISHOP LARRY SILVA OF HONOLULU

My special guest this weekend and next on Vatican Insider is Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu. We met on my very first visit to the islands in 2008 and now have an almost annual reunion, usually including a meal, during my summer vacation stays in Honolulu. We also met in Rome in 2009 when Fr. Damien was canonized and again in 2012 when the Pope declared Blessed Marianne Cope a saint.

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This time Bishop Larry and I talk about two big anniversaries coming up in the diocese in 2018 – the 100th anniversary of the death of St. Marianne Cope and the 175th anniversary of the cathedral. Our Lady of Peace Cathedral, in fact, is closely associated with the lives of Hawaii’s two saints – Fr. Damien and St. Marianne  – and also with Bishop Larry’s family! Our Lady of Peace needs a fair amount of restoration and updating and the bishop explains the plans to accomplish that by the 2018 anniversary. Renovations will include building a side chapel to enshrine the remains of St. Marianne and the relics of St. Damien.

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By the way, we talk about a possible third saint for Hawaii – Brother Joseph Dutton!

I took the pictures shown here in Bishop Silva’s office. Next weekend, I’ll post some great photos of the cathedral that I took during an evening visit after dinner with the bishop and a visiting priest friend from the mainland.

Bishop Silva told me that this statue of Our Lady of Fatima is one of four that the Portuguese sculptor, Jose Ferreira Thedim, made: The well-known original is in the chapel at Fatima:

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As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on channel 130 Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live 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.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:00 am (Eastern time). On the SKY satellite feed to the UK and parts of Europe, VI airs on audio channel 0147 at 11:30 am CET on Saturdays, and 5:30am and 10pm CET on Sundays. It’s also available on demand on the EWTN app and on the website. CHECK FOR YOUR TIME ZONE. Past shows are in VI archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

VATICAN RELEASES 2014 FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

You may recall that in mid-June, on a flight to Rome from a cousin’s funeral in Chicago, I sat next to Bret Bonanni, one of the members of the USA Water Polo team on the plane on their way to a round of matches in Europe. On June 15, their one free day in Rome, nine of the team members joined me and Santiago Perez, head of the Vatican’s Sports Desk at the Council for the Laity, on a three-hour tour of Vatican City, the gardens and the basilica. I wrote about that morning and posted a photo.

Each of the team members wrote me a beautiful thank-you email and I have been able to stay in touch, especially with Bret and his parents, who were in Europe for the matches and took me to dinner in Rome. They are all currently in Toronto where the USA Water Polo teams, both men and women, won the Gold Medal matches last night! Seems they are now on the road to Rio 2016!

Here is a photo from the link to the victory story:

USA WATER POLO TEAM

http://www.teamusa.org/News/2015/July/16/Veteran-Captain-Tony-Azevedo-Leads-Recently-Formed-Mens-Water-Polo-Team-To-Gold

VATICAN RELEASES 2014 FINANCIAL STATEMENTS

The Vatican today released its 2014 financial statements and, noting that new accounting systems had been used for 2014, there was good news and bad news.

Income from areas like the Vatican Museums and the sales of stamps almost doubled profits from the previous year (from 33 million euros to 63.5 million euros), but the budget deficit to run the Roman Curia grew over 2013 (up from 24.5 million euros to 25.6 million).

Previously unreported assets of 1.1 billion euros, and previously unreported liabilities of 222 million euros meant that net assets rose by 939 million euros.

The biggest single outlay in 2014 for the Vatican was salaries for 2,880 personnel at 64 Holy See entities – 126.6 million euros.

The Governorato – the administration that basically runs Vatican City state – the museums, pharmacy and medical offices, clothing and food stores, post office, police and fire department – has a staff of 1,930 people.

Another entry: 21 million euros in contributions from the world’s dioceses and 50 million euros from the Vatican bank.

Here is the report released by the Secretariat for the Economy, headed by Cardinal George Pell:

2014 Financial Statements: Consolidated Financial Statements of the Holy See and Financial Statements of the Governorate of Vatican City State

At the Council for the Economy meeting on 14 July 2015, Cardinal Pell and the staff from the Secretariat for the Economy presented the Consolidated Statements for the Holy See and the Financial Statements for the Governatorato.  The Statements had been prepared by the Prefecture for Economic Affairs and reviewed and verified by the Secretariat, the Audit Committee of the Council and the External Auditor. It was noted that 2014 was a year of transition to new Financial.

Management policies based on International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). The former accounting principles and consolidation perimeter (comprising 64 Holy See entities) were used in preparation of the 2014 Statements.  Managers were however asked to ensure they had included all assets and liabilities and provide appropriate certification as to completeness and accuracy.  Working with the external auditor, third party confirmation of balances were requested so that, consistent with sound audit practice, amounts could be independently verified.  To include all assets and liabilities in the accounts at year end and to prepare for the new policies, a number of closing entries were included which make direct comparison with 2013 figures difficult.  Where appropriate relevant points of comparison were provided to the Council.

The journey of transition to new policies is progressing well and the Secretariat was pleased to report high levels of interest and cooperation in the entities.   The 2014 Financial Statements reflect  an  enormous  amount  of  work  by  staff  in  many  Holy  See  entities,  particularly  in  the Prefettura for Economic Affairs and the Secretariat for the Economy and Council members expressed their gratitude for the rigourous and professional work and the strong commitment to implementing the financial reforms approved by the Holy Father.

The Financial Statements for the Holy See for 2014 indicate a deficit of 25.621 M Euro which is similar to the deficit of 24.471 M Euro reported in the 2013 Statements.  Had the same accounting treatment applied in 2014 been applied in 2013, the 2013 deficit would have been reported as 37.209 M Euro – the improvement in 2014 was largely due to favourable movements in investments held by the Holy See. The main sources of income in 2014, in addition to investments, include the contributions made pursuant to Canon 1271 of the Code of Canon Law (21 M Euro) and the contribution from Institute of Works of Religion (50 M Euro).

Net Assets increased by 939 M Euro as adjustments were made to include all assets and liabilities in the closing balances for 2014.  For the entities included in the consolidation perimeter, assets previously off the Balance sheet amounted to 1,114 M Euro and liabilities amounted to 222 M Euro.  While the patrimonial situation in the Pension Fund was not reflected in the closing Balance Sheet, it was reported that the new Pension Fund Board will be asked to prepare an updated assessment of the overall situation.

As in previous years, the most significant expense included in the Holy See Financial Statements is the cost of staff (126.6 M Euro) and the Statements indicate total staffing of 2880 in the 64 Holy See entities included in the consolidation.

The Financial Statements for the Governatorato for 2014 indicate a surplus of 63.519 M Euro which is a significant improvement on the 2013 surplus of 33.042 M Euro, largely due to continued strong revenue from the cultural activities (especially the Museums) and favourable movements in investments.  Net Assets increased by 63.5 M Euro and there were no adjustments necessary to include additional assets and liabilities in closing balances for 2014.  The Statements indicate a total staffing in the Governatorato of 1930.

Following the meeting of the Council for the Economy, the Secretariat for the Economy was advised the Auditor confirmed that a clear audit certificate had been issued for the Holy See and Governatorato Financial Statements.

The Council also received a further update on the 2015 Budget. The 2015 Budgets were prepared under the new Financial Management Policies, approved last year by the Holy Father. The Council in late May received a detailed budget submission prepared by the Secretariat.

The submission highlighted proposed activities as well as anticipated revenue and expenditure for the coming year and included specific recommendations for each of the 136 entities on the list, as approved  by  the  Holy  Father,  who  are  subject  to  control  and  vigilance  of  the  Council  and Secretariat.  The Budgets indicate the deficits experienced in recent years are likely to continue in 2015.

While rapid progress is being made in implementing reforms requested by the Holy Father, the complete transition to the IPSAS is likely to take several years.  The 2015 Budgets and the 2015

Statements are the first important steps. From 2015, the Consolidated Statements for the Holy See will include the new practices and additional entities, as required under the new Financial Management Policies and the IPSAS Standards.

VATICAN INSIDER: MSGR. JAMES CHECCHIO, RECTOR, NORTH AMERICAN COLLEGE – LENTEN STATION CHURCH: FRIDAY OF WEEK 1, SANTI 12 APOSTOLI – CURIA RETREAT OVER, POPE FRANCIS RETURNS TO VATICAN – POPE FOLLOWING SITUATION IN SYRIA, SAYS VATICAN NUNCIO – VATICAN RESPONSE TO L’ESPRESSO STORY ON ECONOMIC REFORMS

This weekend – February 27 and 28 – marks the second anniversary of the resignation of Benedict XVI. His resignation became official at 8 pm on Thursday, February 28. On those last two days of February 2013, among the many “good-byes” he said, Benedict held his final general audience on Wednesday the 27th, greeted members of the College of Cardinals and, in a memorable scene the world will never forget, departed Vatican City by helicopter for Castelgandolfo where he would spend two months as workers readied the monastery he now lives in. Upon his arrival, he greeted the populace of Castelgandolfo from a balcony of the apostolic palace, a building whose doors were slowly and solemnly closed by Swiss Guards promptly at 8 pm.  At that moment, the See of Peter became vacant.

We pray for the continued health, happiness and tranquility of this Servant of the Servants of God, a title he dearly loved!

VATICAN INSIDER: MSGR. JAMES CHECCHIO, RECTOR, NORTH AMERICAN COLLEGE

My guest this week on the interview segment of Vatican Inside is a longtime friend, Msgr. James Checchio, who is in his 10th year as rector of the Pontifical North American College, We look at those 10 years and at NAC’s growth – growth in the number of seminarians attending NAC but also in the physical sense of new buildings, etc.  The newest building was inaugurated on the January 6 feast of the Epiphany by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. I posted photos on this page as well as a few videos on my Youtube page (joansrome). A do-not-miss conversation this weekend.

I took these photos in Msgr. Checchio’s new office in the new building.

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As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live 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.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives: http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

LENTEN STATION CHURCH: FRIDAY OF WEEK 1, SANTI 12 APOSTOLI 

I have always loved this old and very beautiful church and try to stop in, even for just a brief Hail Mary, anytime I am near it. One day, not long ago, I was walking from the Gregorian University to catch a bus on the nearby Pza. Venezia and saw that an evening Mass would begin shortly, so I went into the church and briefly explored before attending Mass. I quickly went into the crypt area and took the following photos, I only had my phone so will have to go back some day for better and more comprehensive pictures of the tomb of two of the 12 Apostles who are buried in Rome.

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Franciscan friars administer this basilica and, as they say on their website (http://www2.ofmconv.pcn.net/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=12&Itemid=21): “Just a few meters off of the Piazza Venezia, often considered to be the very center of Rome, you will find the administrative center of the Order at the Friary of the Twelve Holy Apostles (Santi Apostoli) next to the Basilica of the Twelve Holy Apostles first given to the Conventual Franciscan Friars in 1517 by the Holy See. The Friary is owned by the Vatican, while the Basilica is under the care of the Italian State.  Given the expense of maintaining such magnificent buildings as the Basilica, we are grateful that the State is assuming so much of the expense so that the Order is able to use our monies for our work around the world, even though it is a very sacred place, containing the mortal remains of the Apostles Philip and James the Less.

“The Friars living here have a variety of ministries. Not only are we engaged in the work of the General Government of the Order, but we also care for the Basilica, work at the Vatican, teach in some Universities in Rome, serve the poor, develop the arts within the Order, plus everything that is involved in taking care of a house this size. There are 37 Friars presently assigned to the Friary, ranging in age from 31-99. They come from 11 different countries representing 18 different jurisdictions within the Order. Being in the heart of Rome, Italian is the most common language for everyday use, but one often hears all four of the official languages of the order spoken.”

Here is Brian Lenz’s account of the Lenten station church Mass here in 2014:

http://blenzinrome.blogspot.it/2014/03/friday-of-first-week-santi-dodici_16.html

And for a real-in-depth visit, explore this site: http://romapedia.blogspot.it/2013/10/basilica-of-holy-apostles.html

Even TripAdvisor writes: “Santi Apostoli, or Santi Dodici Apostoli as the Italians say, is the Church of the Twelve Holy Apostles at the Piazza bearing the same name. This is really an astonishing Church, hidden behind Piazza Venezia. We visited this hidden gem during a guided tour of ancient Rome with ‘When in Rome Tours’ and we were glad we did…… Santi Dodici Apostoli was the parish church of Michelangelo and his tomb was shortly placed here before its transportation to the Basilica di Santa Croce di Firenze. …A visit of Santi Apostoli is really worthwhile. So when you are at Piazza Venezia or at the Trevi Fountain, look for Piazza Santi Apostoli and spend an hour to absorb the beauty of this unique Church.”

CURIA RETREAT OVER, POPE FRANCIS RETURNS TO VATICAN

The Holy Father and members of the Roman Curia who accompanied him to Ariccia for a six-day retreat that started last Sunday afternoon, have returned to Vatican City.  The final prayers and meditation by Carmelite Father Bruno Secondin were held Friday morning at the Pauline Fathers’ Casa Divin Maestro. Busses carrying the Pope and prelates back to the Vatican left Ariccia about 10:30 this morning. (news.va photo)

POPE FRANCIS - END RETREAT

At the end of the retreat Pope Francis thanked Father Secondin for leading the spiritual exercises: “On behalf of all of us, I too would like to thank the father for his work among us during the spiritual exercises. It’s not easy to give exercises to priests, right?  We’re a bit complicated, all of us, but you succeeded in sowing seeds. May the Lord make these seeds that you have given us grow and I also hope that myself and all the others can leave here with a piece of Elijah’s cloak, in our hands and in our hearts. Thank you, Father!”

POPE FOLLOWING SITUATION IN SYRIA, SAYS  VATICAN NUNCIO

(Vatican Radio) Even during his retreat in the hills of Rome, immersed in Lenten spiritual exercises, Pope Francis is following the situation in Syria with deep concern. Speaking to Vatican Radio, Archbishop Mario Zenari, the apostolic nuncio in Damascus, says “the Pope is constantly adjourned of developments and his prayers are tuned to the suffering of the people.”

Noting the three-day offensive this week that has seen at least 220 people abducted by so-called Islamic State militants, most of them from Assyrian Christian villages in the north east, the nuncio said, “not only the Christians are afraid. Those who have the possibility to do so are fleeing the region.” He says that the perception of the people is that they have been abandoned by the international community because there have been no tangible changes to the situation as yet.

He expresses his belief that measures that have been undertaken to isolate the fundamentalists such as freezing bank accounts, cutting off provisions and fuel and tracking down potential Jihadists in Europe must continue. He describes the situation as one of the most serious humanitarian catastrophes after the Second World War, saying, “it is under the eyes of all! The civil conflict must be halted but so must the advance of the so-called Caliphate.”

Abp. Zenari says, “we are dealing with two different fronts: the civil war front which has been going on for almost five years, a conflict which has killed over 200,000 people, has injured more than a million and displaced 11 million; and then there are all the terrible things that are happening in the areas under the control of the so-called Islamic State: two different fronts, the one worse than the other!”

VATICAN RESPONSE TO L’ESPRESSO STORY ON ECONOMIC REFORMS

(Vatican Radio) The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, has responded to a collection of articles published in the Italian weekly L’Espresso. The articles purport to show internal struggles within the Vatican on ongoing economic reforms.

“Passing confidential documents to the press for polemical ends or to foster conflict is not new, but is always to be strongly condemned, and is illegal,” Father Lombardi said. “The fact that complex economic or legal issues are the subject of discussion and diverse points of view should be considered normal. In light of the views expressed, the Pope issues guidelines, and everybody follows them.”

Father Lombardi continued, “The article makes direct personal attacks that should be considered undignified and petty. And it is untrue that the Secretariat for the Economy is not carrying on its work with continuity and efficacy. In confirmation of this, the Secretariat is expected in the next few months to publish the financial statements for 2014 and the estimated budgets for 2015 for all of the entities of the Holy See, including the Secretariat itself.”

“VATICAN INSIDER” GOES INSIDE THE EBOLA CRISIS – POPE FRANCIS HONORS OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE WITH CREOLE MASS – POPE MEETS WITH SYRIAC PATRIARCH, BISHOPS, FAITHFUL – POPE FRANCIS WRITES MESSAGE TO NOBEL PEACE LAUREATES – SECRETARIAT FOR ECONOMY PREPARING 2015 BUDGET – CHALDEAN PATRIARCH PROPOSES ACTS OF PENANCE DURING ADVENT

The news yesterday that Pope Francis will create new cardinals on February 14, 2015 has prompted speculation in the U.S. as to whether or not the Pope might name Archbishops Cupich of Chicago, Chaput of Philadelphia and/or Gomez of Los Angeles as cardinals. While the Holy Father may certainly follow or bend any rules involving the creation of cardinals, it is customary to have only one under-80, voting-age cardinal from each See. Because the former archbishops of Chicago (Cardinal Francis George), Philadelphia (Cardinal Justin Rigali) and Los Angeles (Cardinal Roger Mahony) are all under the age of 80 (although Cardinal Rigali, emeritus of Philadelphia, turns 80 on April 19, 2015), it is viewed as unlikely (though not impossible) that the Pope will elevate any of these three to the red hat.

“VATICAN INSIDER” GOES INSIDE THE EBOLA CRISIS

Join me this weekend for Part II of my conversation with Msgr. Robert Vitillo, health advisor for Caritas Internationalis and Dr. Timothy Flanigan, MD, professor of Infectious Diseases at Brown University Medical School, and also a permanent deacon in the diocese of Providence, Rhode Island. Both men had spent some time in Liberia and had cone to Rome for a Caritas-sponsored conference on the Ebola crisis, and that is when we spoke. Our conversation is riveting – you will learn a lot about Ebola and things you have not heard or read elsewhere about how Africans cope with this insidious virus.

As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at www.ewtn.com) or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live 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.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives:

http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7096&pgnu=

POPE FRANCIS HONORS OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE WITH CREOLE MASS

In a very short time as I write these words, Pope Francis will preside at what is known as a Creole Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica to honor today’s feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas and commonly referred to as the Queen of Mexico.  A Creole Mass is marked by the use of indigenous instruments and rhythms with prayers in Spanish. Photos from news.va

Our Lady of Guadalupe

The dictionary definition of “Creole” is “original to, or born in Louisiana” and/or “any person who claims decent from the region’s earliest settlers or inhabitants.”

The 6 pm Mass will be preceded by the recitation of the Rosary of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Advent prayers and popular Latin-American hymns. According to Vatican Radio, the Mass itself will feature hymns from the “Misa Criolla,” written by Argentinian composer Ariel Ramìrez, directed by his son Facundo Ramirez, sung by an Argentinian musical group and accompanied by a Roman choir, called “Musica Nuova.”

Concelebrants include Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation of Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America; Cardinal Norbert Rivera Carrera of Mexico City; Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis of Aparecida; Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley of Boston; and Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, archbishop-emeritus of Santiago.

Guzman Carriquiry of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America told Rome Reports that, “more than 750 priests will concelebrate the Mass with Pope Francis. In fact, many Cardinals and Bishops will travel to Rome, specifically to take part in this celebration.” He noted that Our Lady of Guadalupe “is the Patroness of the Americas and the queen of the entire continent. In fact, she is also the Patroness of the Philippines.”

Pope Francis, the first Pope from the Americas, travels to the Philippines in January 2015.

In 2011 Pope Benedict XVI celebrated a Creole Mass in the Vatican.

Click here for libretto for the Mass: http://www.vatican.va/news_services/liturgy/libretti/2014/20141212-libretto-madonna-guadalupe.pdf

POPE MEETS WITH SYRIAC PATRIARCH, BISHOPS, FAITHFUL

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis Friday morning met with Patriarch Ignace Youssif III Younan, and the bishops and faithful of the Syriac Catholic Church, and urged them to coordinate their efforts with the other Churches in the Middle East and seek to meet the humanitarian needs of the people affected by the violence and unrest in the region.

His Beatitude was accompanied to the meeting by the bishops of the Syriac Catholic Church, who held their annual Synod in Rome this week, as well as members of the faithful.

SYRIAC PATRIARCH

In his remarks, the Pope extended his greetings to the Eastern Catholic “communities scattered throughout the world” and expressed his “encouragement, in particular to those of Iraq and Syria, who are living times of great suffering and fear in the face of violence.” He also assured them of his prayers.

POPE FRANCIS WRITES MESSAGE TO NOBEL PEACE LAUREATES

A Message in Pope Francis’ name, signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, has been sent to to the participants of the 14th World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, which opened in Rome on Friday.

In his “cordial greetings to all gathered for this occasion,” Pope Francis notes, “In the heart of every man and woman is the desire for a full life, including that irrepressible longing for fraternity that draws us to fellowship with others and enables us to see them not as enemies or rivals but as brothers and sisters to be accepted and embraced.”

“His Holiness,” continues the greeting to the Nobel peace laureates, “is deeply grateful for the commitment of the Summit participants to promoting peace and fraternity among peoples, and for their efforts in finding solutions to the conflicts of our day. As this meeting honors the memory of Nelson Mandela, whose legacy of non-violence and reconciliation continues to inspire the world, Pope Francis prays that all present may be renewed and encouraged in their urgent work, and that their labours may bear an abundant harvest of peace for the world.”

One of those laureates, the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists who won the eace prize in 1989, is garnering big headlines for the reports that the Pope will not meet with him. Fr. Federico Lombardi, papal spokesman, declined to say whether Pope Francis had personally turned down a request for a meeting with the Dalai Lama, but he did say, “Pope Francis obviously holds the Dalai Lama in very high regard, but he will not be meeting any of the Nobel laureates.”

Given the enormous difficulties between Tibet and China (Tibet sees itself as an independent nation – China sees Tibet as part of mianland China), many see the non-meeting between the Pope and Dalai Lama as the Vatican’s way of not doing anything that would irritate Chinese leadership with whom they want to have closer ties to protect Christians living and practicing their faith in China, most of the time under difficult circumstances imposed by the authorities.

SECRETARIAT FOR ECONOMY PREPARING 2015 BUDGET

The latest news bulletin from the Secretariat for the Economy, presided over by the prefect, Cardinal George Pell, explains that “the preparation of the 2015 budget of the Holy See is well under way” and it is “being prepared in accordance with the new Financial Management Policies distributed to all entities of the Holy See and the Vatican City State in November following the approval by the Holy Father.”

“To assist and support entities with the new budgeting process and budget template,” says the bulletin, “the Secretariat offered training sessions in November and December. More than 160 staff members, representing 79 entities participated in these sessions. Each session was organized as a meeting of collaborators rather than a classroom, and included a detailed explanation of the reasons for the new policies. Participants were invited to ask questions, seek clarification and discuss some of the challenges of implementation as we reviewed the main objectives of the new Policies:

– Establishment of sound and consistent financial management policies, practices and reporting at the Holy See, the Vatican City State, and all related entities.

– Facilitation of decision making at a local level and provision of a clear framework for accountability of those entrusted with the resources of the Church.

– Strengthening of the planning process so that economic resources are allocated where they can be most effectively used.

– Increase of available economic resources for the mission.”

The bulletin further notes that, “training and support material distributed to all participants was reviewed and discussed so that all were clear about the new polices and accounting practices that will be implemented from 2015 and beyond. We were very grateful for the positive feedback and encouragement participants provided in the training sessions and in our discussions afterwards.” The Secretariat found “helpful” the “engagement and dialogue.”

The 2015 budget is scheduled for publication in spring of 2015.

CHALDEAN PATRIARCH PROPOSES ACTS OF PENANCE DURING ADVENT

Fides news agency reports from Baghdad that Patriarch Louis Raphael I of the Chaldean Church has proposed to the faithful acts of penance during the Advent season as an invocation to God “for the release of Mosul and the Nineveh Plain and to demonstrate concrete closeness and solidarity to all Iraqi refugees, forced to leave the cities and villages that have fallen under the control of the jihadists of the Islamic State (IS). Those acts include fasting, prayer and penance in the three days before Christmas and the invitation to give up parties with music and dancing at Christmas and New Year.

Patriarch Sako wrote Fides, saying “During Advent,we prepare for Christmas by fasting, prayer, penance and works of charity.” He asks “’all the sons and daughters’ of the Chaldean Church to fast from Monday, December 22 until the evening of December 24, to invoke the Lord for the gift of release of Mosul and the Nineveh plain, so that all the refugees might return safely to their homes, to their work and to their schools.” In his message, Patriarch Sako expressed confidence that “Christ will hear our prayers.”

POPE FRANCIS MEETS PRESIDENT OF“GRANDMOTHERS OF PLAZA DE MAYO” – SISTINE CHOIR GIVES POPE A CD OF MUSIC FROM 2013 CONCLAVE – POPE GREETS DELEGATION FROM WORLD EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE – POPE HIGHLIGHTS MALAWI BISHOPS’ COMMITMNENT TO THE FAMILY – SECRETARIAT FOR THE ECONOMY DISTRIBUTES HANDBOOK TO CURIA OFFICES

POPE FRANCIS MEETS PRESIDENT OF“GRANDMOTHERS OF PLAZA DE MAYO”

Pope Francis on Wednesday met with Estela de Carlotto, founder and president of the “Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo,” an Argentinian grandmothers’ association set up to track down “los desaparecidos” – the disappeared – the grandchildren abducted from families as well as from female prisoners who gave birth in secret detention centers during the military dictatorship of 1976-1984. She brought several family members, including her grandson Ignacio Guido, the son of her daughter Laura, who was abducted while pregnant, tortured and killed by the military 36 years ago. Ignacio had been missing since then but was found in August this year thanks to a DNA bank set up by families and survivors of the dictatorship. The Argentinian Pope received gifts from the family including a CD of music composed by Ignacio, a musician, and a scarf worn by members of the “Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo.” (Photos from L’Osservatore Romano)

Argentina Grandmothers 1 Argentina - Grandmothers 2

SISTINE CHOIR GIVES POPE A CD OF MUSIC FROM 2013 CONCLAVE

In other news from Wednesday, Vatican Radio reported that Msgr. Massimo Palombella, director of the Sistine Chapel, presented Pope Francis with a CD: “Habemus Papam. La musica del Conclave (We Have a Pope. Music from the Conclave).” The CD contains the music used during the liturgical ceremonies surrounding the election of Pope Francis: The “Missa pro eligendo Pontifice,” (Mass for the Election of a Pope), the “Veni Creator” used during the entrance into the Sistine Chapel, the music of the Mass celebrated with the College of Cardinals the day after his election, the music of the inaugural Mass of Pope Francis and, for the first time, 11 minutes containing the announcement “Habemus Papam” and the first words of Pope Francis on the evening of March 13, 2013. (L’Osservatore Romano)

Conclave CD

In an interview with “Avvenire,” the newspaper of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Msgr. Palombella said he wanted to offer the real experience of the events. “There is a cough, or a plane flying over St. Peter’s Square…it makes it seem as if you are there live,” he said.

The CD uses audio tracks provided by Vatican Radio and CTV. It is the first of a planned series produced with Deutsche Grammophon. Future CDs will include the canonization of Popes St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II, as well as a CD of the repertoire of the Sistine Chapel Choir produced in a studio setting.

POPE GREETS DELEGATION FROM WORLD EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE

Thursday morning, Pope Francis welcomed a delegation from the World Evangelical Aliance and said he was confident the Holy Spirit “can inaugurate a new stage in the relations between Catholics and Evangelicals—a stage that allows us to realize more fully the will of the Lord to bring the Gospel even to the furthest ends of the earth.” He said he was “pleased to learn that, in different countries in the world, Catholics and Evangelicals have established relations of brotherhood and collaboration.”

The Pope noted that, “The Sacrament of Baptism reminds us of a fundamental and very consoling truth: that the Lord always goes before us with His love and His grace. It precedes our communities; it precedes, anticipates, and prepares the hearts of those who proclaim the Gospel and of those who welcome the Gospel of Salvation.” He added that, “the Gospel is not merely about our personal relationship with God. … The Gospel is about the kingdom of God; it is about loving God who reigns in our world.”

Francis also acknowledged the “divisions, …rivalries and conflicts” among Christians, saying these “weaken our capacity to fulfil the command of the Lord to preach the Gospel to all nations” and they “disfigure the beauty of the seamless garment of Christ but never completely destroys the profound unity generated by the grace in all the baptized. The efficacy of the Christian announcement would certainly be greater if Christians would overcome their divisions and could celebrate together the Sacraments and together spread the Word of God and witness to charity.”

 POPE HIGHLIGHTS MALAWI BISHOPS’ COMMITMNENT TO THE FAMILY

The bishops of Malawi, in Rome on their mandatory quinquennial “ad limina” visit, were received by the Holy Father this morning who offered “a joyful welcome to you who have come from ‘the warm heart of Africa’.” He expressed his “esteem” for each bishop and for their work, singly and collectively for “God’s holy people in Malawi. The effectiveness of your pastoral and administrative efforts is the fruit of your faith as well as of the unity and fraternal spirit that characterize your episcopal conference.!

Francis also expressed his “appreciation for the admirable spirit of the Malawian people, who, though faced with many serious obstacles in terms of development, economic progress and standards of living, remain strong in their commitment to family life. It is in the family, with its unique capacity to form each member, particularly the young, into persons of love, sacrifice, commitment and fidelity, that the Church and society in Malawi will find the resources necessary to renew and build up a culture of solidarity.”

“You yourselves,” stated the Pope, “know well the challenges and the value of family life, and, as fathers and shepherds, you are called to nurture, protect and strengthen it in the context of the ‘family of faith’, which is the Church. Indeed, for Christians, family life and ecclesial vitality depend on and reinforce each other.”

“There is no aspect of family life – childhood and youth; friendship, engagement and marriage; spousal intimacy, fidelity and love; interpersonal relations and support – which is excluded from the healing and strengthening touch of God’s love, communicated through the Gospels and taught by the Church. There is scarcely a greater commitment that the Church can make to the future of Malawi – and indeed, to her own development – than that of a thorough and joyful apostolate to families…. Thus, by doing everything you can to support, educate and evangelize families, especially those in situations of material hardship, breakdown, violence or infidelity, you will bring inestimable benefit to the Church and all of Malawian society.”

He also asked the bishops to be close to orphane children and to victims of AIDS.

SECRETARIAT FOR THE ECONOMY DISTRIBUTES HANDBOOK TO CURIA OFFICES

According to a newsletter from the Secretariat for the Economy, this office has distributed a new handbook this week to all Vatican offices outlining financial management policies that will go into effect on January 1, 2015. The Manual has been endorsed by the Council for the Economy and approved by Pope Francis in forma specifica.

The newsletter quotes Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the secretariat, as saying, “The purpose of the manual is very simple. It brings financial management practices in line with international standards and will help all entities and administrations of the Holy See and Vatican City State prepare financial reports in a consistent and transparent manner.” Cardinal Pell added that, “Having sound and consistent financial management practices and reporting helps provide a clear framework of accountability for all those entrusted with the resources of the Church.”

The new policies will strengthen the planning process for Vatican/Holy See offices,so that resources can be used more effectively and efficiently in serving the mission of the Church. The Secretariat for the Economy will provide training and support to the Vatican/Holy See offices to help implement the new policies. The consolidated Financial Statements will be reviewed by a major international auditing firm.