VATICAN CALLS FOR SUSPENSION OF VENEZUELA’S CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY – VATICAN SECRETARIAT OF STATE’S COMMUNIQUE ON VENEZUELA – HOLY SEE OBSERVER TO UN ON VENEZUELA CRISIS

VATICAN CALLS FOR SUSPENSION OF VENEZUELA’S CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY

(Vatican Radio) The Vatican on Friday issued an urgent appeal to Venezuela’s leaders to suspend the new Constituent Assembly which, it says, is threatening the future of the South American nation.

The strongly worded communique, issued by the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, says Pope Francis is following closely the situation in Venezuela, where President Nicolas Maduro is headed towards a showdown with the opposition, as he pushes ahead with the inauguration of his new Assembly.

The statement comes as the body’s 545 delegates were expected to be installed at the legislative palace in the capital, Caracas, close to the chamber where the opposition-controlled National Assembly meets.

Erosion of democracy

The new Constituent Assembly has been tasked with rewriting the country’s constitution and holds powers that override all other government branches.

Opposition leaders have denounced the erosion of democracy and vowed they will only be removed by force. Over a hundred and twenty-five people have already been killed in over three months of violent anti-government protests.

Respect rights enshrined in Constitution

The Vatican statement expresses “profound concern for the radicalisation and worsening of the crisis”, including the increase in deaths, injuries and arrests of protesters. It calls on all the country’s politicians, in  particular, the government, to guarantee “full respect for human rights and basic freedoms, as well as for the existing Constitution”.

Suspend Constituent Assembly

It says initiatives such as the new Constituent Assembly should be “avoided or suspended” since they “foment a climate of tension and conflict” which “mortgages the future” of the country, rather than fostering reconciliation and peace.

The statement calls for a negotiated solution, along the lines already indicated in a previous letter from the Secretary of State on December 1st 2016. These solutions must take into account “the serious suffering of the people”, due to a lack of security, as well as the shortages of food and medicine.

Pray for Venezuela

Finally the statement calls on all members of Venezuelan society, in particular the security forces, to avoid violence or an excessive use of force. It says the pope assures all Venezuelans of his prayers and invites people across the globe to pray intensely for the country at this moment of crisis.

VATICAN SECRETARIAT OF STATE’S COMMUNIQUE ON VENEZUELA

Following is my translation of the communique from the Secretariat of State that was released in Spanish and Italian:

The Holy See once again expresses its profound concern for the radicalization and worsening of the crisis in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, with an increase in deaths, wounded people and detainees. The Holy Father, directly and through the Secretariat of State, is closely following the situation and its humanitarian, social, political economic – and even spiritual – implications, and assures his constant prayer for the Nation and all Venezuelans, while he invites the faithful of the entire world to pray intensely for this intention.

At the same tine, the Holy See asks all political players, in particular the government, to assure full respect for human rights and basic freedoms, as well as the current constitution; to avoid or suspend initiatives underway such as the new Constituent Assembly that, instead of favoring reconciliation and peace, foments a climate of tension and clashes and mortgages the future; to create conditions for a negotiated solution in line with the indications expressed in the letter from the Secretariat of State of December 1, 2016, bearing in mind the grave sufferings of the people given the difficulties in procuring food and medicine, and for the lack of security.

And lastly, the Holy See issues a heartfelt appeal to the entire society so that every form of violence be averted, and invites, in particular, the security forces to abstain from excessive and disproportionate use of force.

HOLY SEE OBSERVER TO UN ON VENEZUELA CRISIS

On June 21, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Holy See Permanent Observer to the United Nations, reiterated that the crisis in Venezuela must be answered with serious and sincere negotiations between the parties concerned.

In a statement to the General Assembly of the Organization of American States taking place in Cancun, Mexico,  the archbishop said since the beginning of the crisis, the Pope, the Vatican Secretary of State and the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference have on several occasions called upon institutions and political forces, to listen to the voice of the people and defend the common good.

Referring to a letter by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin from December 1, 2016, the nuncio observed that the path to seeking a peaceful solution can be promoted through negotiation in a number of areas, such as a path that leads to free and transparent elections, and measures to provide humanitarian aid. In the 2016 letter, the archbishop added, the Secretary of State also urges measures to be taken involving the release of political prisoners.

Archbishop Auza notes that the recent government’s decision to convene a Constituent Assembly, instead of helping to solve problems, can complicate the situation and jeopardize the democratic future of the country. He concludes that, it is, however, appreciated that a group of countries in the region or, possibly, other continents chosen by both the government and the opposition, may negotiate as guarantors.

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46 METROPOLITAN ARCHBISHOPS TO RECEIVE PALLIUM ON JUNE 29 – HOLY SEE, PALESTINE SIGN HISTORIC AGREEMENT

Instead of writing this column, I’d actually like to cross the street and go into St. Peter’s Basilica for some quiet prayer. I’d like to spend some time at the Altar of St. Joseph, that saintly, humble man who was the head of the Holy Family and putative father of Jesus. I’d then cross to the right aisle of the basilica to spend some time in meditation before Michelangelo’s Pieta, the magnificent statue that depicts a sorrowful Mary holding the body of her crucified Son.

After talking to Mary, I’d move on down the right aisle just a few feet to the Chapel of St. Sebastian and kneel in prayer before the tomb of St. John Paul, the pontiff who wrote so magnificently about the family, about marriage, about “Love and Responsibility,” and who instituted the World Meetings of Families.

And how could I not spend time in prayer at the tomb of the first Pope I ever saw, St. John XXIII! He wrote so lovingly and beautiful about the family and marriage – and it is the question of marriage – the utter, total redefining of marriage –  that is tearing my heart apart today.

This is why I want to pray so badly – pray for our nation where the Supreme Court has just decided that same sex marriage must be allowed in all 50 U.S. states.

I cannot write a reasonable and well-thought-out column on this subject today.  I have seen television commentary and I have downloaded Chief Justice Roberts’ dissent and have started to read that 6,033 word document.  I not only have fears about traditional marriage, I have fears about religious freedom, fears that Chief Justice Roberts expresses in his dissent.

For now, here are Chief Justice Roberts’ final words in his dissent:

“If you are among the many Americans—of whatever sexual orientation—who favor     expanding same-sex mar­riage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the oppor­tunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it. I respectfully dissent.”

On June 29, 1959, St. John XXIII’s Encyclical “Ad Petri cathedram” was published. In that beautiful document, which should be read and re-read as it addresses truth, unity, the moral life and peace in what has been called “a fatherly message … addressing (these) issues with warmth and concern.”

In that document, St. John wrote:All the evils that poison men and nations and trouble so many hearts have a single cause and a single source: ignorance of the truth—and at times even more than ignorance, a contempt for truth and a reckless rejection of it.”

Ora pro nobis!

46 METROPOLITAN ARCHBISHOPS TO RECEIVE PALLIUM ON JUNE 29

Pope Francis on Monday, June 29, the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Apostles, in St. Peter’s Basilica will give the pallium to the 46 new metropolitan archbishops whom he has named since July 1, 2014.  June 29 is a holiday in Rome as well as the Vatican.

Earlier this year Francis changed the traditional ceremony in which the prelates receive the pallium, deciding that the public ceremony of investiture of the pallium on metropolitan archbishops will henceforth take place in their home dioceses and not in the Vatican as has been the case under recent pontiffs. The Holy Father will concelebrate Mass with the archbishops on June 29 and afterwards will give each metropolitan the pallium “in a private manner,” not placing it on their shoulders as seen here.

POPE- Pallium

Guido Marini, Master of Liturgical Ceremonies of the Supreme Pontiff, broke the news in a January 12 letter to nuncios in countries where metropolitan archbishops had been named to receive the pallium from the Pope in the Vatican on June 29.

Msgr. Marini, in an interview with Vatican Radio, said: “Pope Francis believes that this new custom can serve to advance that journey of synodality in the Catholic Church which, from the beginning of his pontificate, he has constantly emphasized as particularly urgent and precious at this time in the history of the Church.”

The pallium will be blessed during the Mass on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul in the Vatican, but placed on the metropolitan archbishop in his own diocese by the papal representative, the apostolic nuncio, in the country. The ceremony is to be determined individually with each new metropolitan.

The pallium, which is placed on the shoulders of each archbishop and worn at all liturgical ceremonies in his own archdiocese, is a band of white wool with two hanging pieces, front and back, that is decorated with six black crosses and represents the authority of a metropolitan archbishop and unity with the Holy Father.  The Pope also wears a pallium. The wool used in weaving the palliums comes from baby lambs  – lambs under one year of age – that are blessed each year in the basilica of St. Agnes in Rome on her January 21 feast day and then brought to the apostolic palace to the Holy Father.

PALLIUM

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI explained “the symbolism of the pallium” in a very concrete way in his homily when he inaugurated his Petrine ministry on April 24, 2005 and said, “the lamb’s wool is meant to represent the lost, the sick or weak sheep which the shepherd places on his shoulders to carry to the waters of life.”

Click here to see the names of those who will reeive the pallium:  http://www.news.va/en/news/metropolitan-archbishops-to-receive-the-pallium

HOLY SEE, PALESTINE SIGN HISTORIC AGREEMENT

On Friday, June 26, 2015 at the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States, and Dr. Riad Al-Malki, minister of Foreign Affairs, of the State of Palestine, signed a Comprehensive Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Palestine.

-Sala dei Trattati-Firma Accordo tra la Santa Sede e la Palestina   26-06-2015  - (Copyright L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO - Servizio Fotografico - photo@ossrom.va)

-Sala dei Trattati-Firma Accordo tra la Santa Sede e la Palestina 26-06-2015
– (Copyright L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO – Servizio Fotografico – photo@ossrom.va)

The accord follows on the Basic Agreement that was signed between the Holy See and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) on February 15, 2000 and is the result of the negotiations undertaken by a bilateral working commission over the past number of years.

Others who took part in the ceremony include, for the Holy See: Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto, Apostolic Delegate to Jerusalem and Palestine; Archbishop Antonio Franco, Apostolic Nuncio, and Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fouad Twal; Msgr. Antoine Camilleri, Under-Secretary for Relations with States; Fr. Lorenzo Lorusso, O.P., Under-Secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches; Msgr. Alberto Ortega, Official of the Section for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State; Msgr. Paolo Borgia, Official of the Section for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State; and Fr. Oscar Marzo, O.F.M., member of the Custody of the Holy Land and Official of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

For the State of Palestine: His Excellency Dr. Ramzi Khoury, Advisor to the President, Deputy Head of the Presidential Higher Committee on Church Affairs in Palestine; Ambassador Issa Kassissieh, Representative of the State of Palestine to the Holy See; Ambassador Rawan Sulaiman, Assistant Foreign Minister for Multilateral Affairs; Mrs. Vera Baboun, Mayor of Bethlehem; Mr. Moussa Abu Hadeed, Mayor of Ramallah; Mr. Ammar Hijazi, Deputy Assistant Foreign Minister for Multilateral Affairs; Mr. Azem Bishara, Legal Advisor of the PLO; Mr. Ammar Nisnas, Counselor of the Diplomatic Representation of the State of Palestine to the Holy See.

The Agreement is comprised of a Preamble and 32 Articles distributed in 8 Chapters. It deals with essential aspects of the life and activity of the Catholic Church in the State of Palestine, while reaffirming support for a negotiated and peaceful resolution of the situation in the region.

The Agreement shall come into force when both Parties have notified each other in writing that the constitutional or internal requirements for the coming into force of the Agreement have been met.

Archbishop Gallagher, welcomed the delegations, saying the Agreement “marks an important step on the path of good relations which for some time have happily existed between the Parties.”

He noted that, in contrast with the February 2000 Agreement, “the present one is being signed by the Holy See and the State of Palestine; this is indicative of the progress made by the Palestinian Authority in recent years, and above all of the level of international support, which culminated in the Resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations of 29 November 2012, which recognized Palestine as a non-member Observer State at the United Nations.

“In this context,” said the archbishop, “it is my hope that the present Agreement may in some way be a stimulus to bringing a definitive end to the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which continues to cause suffering for both Parties. I also hope that the much desired two-State solution may become a reality as soon as possible. The peace process can move forward only if it is directly negotiated between the Parties, with the support of the international community. This certainly requires courageous decisions, but it will also offer a major contribution to peace and stability in the region. “

Archbishop Gallagher went on to note that, “the Comprehensive Agreement, while constituting an understanding between two subjects of international law, basically concerns the life and activity of the Church in Palestine. In this respect, I am pleased that juridical recognition is clearly established and that guarantees have been given for the work of the Catholic Church and her institutions. Catholics do not seek any privilege other than continued cooperation with their fellow-citizens for the good of society. I am also pleased to say that the local Church, which has been actively involved in the negotiations, is satisfied with the goal attained and is happy to see the strengthening of its good relations with the civil Authorities.

“In the complex reality of the Middle East, where in some countries Christians have even suffered persecution, this Agreement offers a good example of dialogue and cooperation, and I earnestly hope that this may serve as a model for other Arab and Muslim majority countries. With this in mind, I would like to emphasize the importance of the chapter dedicated to freedom of religion and freedom of conscience. (source: news.va)

 

POPE BLESSES STATUES OF BABY JESUS, GIVES PRAYER BOOKS TO FAITHFUL – POPE FRANCIS TELLS CHILDREN OF HIS FIRST COMMUNION – HOLY FATHER ON “CHALLENGING MISSION” OF CATHOLIC MEDIA – HOLY SEE, U.S. SECRETARIES OF STATE MEET IN VATICAN

Pope Francis’ December 15 Tweet: “Today is my anniversary of ordination to the priesthood. Please pray for me and all priests.”

And in two days, December 17, the Holy Father will celebrate his 78th birthday! So, remember to offer another “Ave” for His Holiness.

The Pope seems to have celebrated a delightful Gaudete Sunday yesterday, as you will see by the two stories below – one about the Angelus and the second about his parish visit. There are also two news stories from today (in addition to private audiences the Holy Father had) – the Pope’s audience to TV 2000, the Catholic TV station of the Italian bishops, and the meeting of two secretaries of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin for the Holy see and John Kerry for the U.S.

Re: the blessing of the bambinelli: wouldn’t it be lovely to have this tradition become part of every parish in every diocese?

For the third night in a row (at least as far as I have observed) the dome of St. Peter’s basilica is dark – and I don’t know why. Sent an email to someone today to find out but no answer as of now.

POPE BLESSED STATUES OF BABY JESUS, GIVES PRAYER BOOKS TO FAITHFUL

Sunday at the Angelus, Pope Francis noted that this, the third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday, from the Latin word for joy. He said, “The heart of every person desires joy… All of us desire joy, every family, every people aspires to happiness.” The Christian, he said, is called to live and to witness to the joy that comes from the nearness of God, from God’s presence in our life. Christian joy is not simply the fullness of joy that we will experience in heaven, the Pope said. Rather, it begins even in this life, it is experienced even now, “because Jesus is our joy, our home with Jesus is our joy.” He asked the crowd to say with him “With Jesus, joy is part of the home.”

After praying the Angelus prayer with the sizeable crowd of faithful in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis greeted all those present – families, parish groups, associations and, in particular, faithful from Poland where today the Christmas candle is lit and commitment to solidarity is reaffirmed, especially in the current Polish “Year of Caritas.”

The third Sunday of Advent is also the day that children of all ages and from all over Rome – and sometimes other towns and cities in Italy – bring their bambinelli, statues of the Baby Jesus, to be blessed by the Pope at the end of the Angelus. These statues will be placed in the cribs of nativity scenes – known as ‘crèches’ in French and ‘presepio’ in Italian, in homes and schools. Many a child holds up two or even three statues for the papal blessing as they bring a bambinello for a friend who could not make it to the Angelus. (Photo from news.va)

BAMBINELLI

The Pope thanked the children for the joy they brought to the square where, among the many signs held up, one read, “With Jesus, there is joy in our home.” Francis wished them a happy Christmas and asked them to pray for him in front of their Nativity display at home, as he does for them.

“Prayer is the breath of the soul,” he said. “It is important to find moments during the day to open our heart to God, even with the simple and short prayers of the Christian people. Therefore, I thought of giving a gift to all of you here in the square – a surprise, a gift: I will give you a little pocket-sized book that gathers together a few prayers, for various moments in the day and different situations in life. Some volunteers will distribute to them to you. Take one each and keep it with you always, as a help to live the whole day with God, and so we do not forget that beautiful message you have brought here on your banner: ‘With Jesus, there is joy in our home’. Once again: ‘With Jesus, there is joy in our home’.” He asked the faithful to repeat this five times

The book, in 50,000 copies, contains Psalms, the Magnificat, invocations of Mary, the Gloria, the prayer to the Angel of the Guard, prayers to recite during the day and blessings for the table, in confession and for specific intentions. It was published in Italian by the Vatican Publishing House.

POPE FRANCIS TELLS CHILDREN OF HIS FIRST COMMUNION

(VIS) – Sunday afternoon Pope Francis visited the Roman parish of San Giuseppe all’Aurelio, in the Primavalle neighborhood of the capital where, before celebrating Mass, he met with various groups, including children, Rom gypsies,, the ill and newly baptized infants.

He first met with some children preparing for their First Communion, and spoke about his own on October 8, 1944. “I remember it as if it were today. I prepared for a year with a very kind nun and two catechists. … In those times, its was not possible to drink a little water before Mass, nothing – not even a drop of water. It was Pope Pius XII who saved us from this dictatorship! … And we all arrived in the Church with our hands together, singing. … And later, in the afternoon, we returned to the Church for our Confirmation: the same day. And you, who will take your first Communion, will remember that day forever, all your life: the first day Jesus came to you. He comes, He makes Himself one with us, he nourishes us to give us strength. … Do not forget the date, and every year, on that day, confess and take communion, will you?”

The Holy Father then spoke to the Rom families in the parish, wishing them peace within their families. Afterwards he met with the sick, thanking them for their witness of patience, of love for God and of hope in the Lord. “This does great good to the Church”, he affirmed. “You continually nurture the Church with your life, with your suffering, with your patience. Thank you, truly. The Church, without the sick, would not carry on. You are the strength of the Church, her true strength,”

Francis’ final encounter was with newly baptized children with their parents. “Our hopes reside in our children,” he said. “We hand them the torch of faith and life, and they will pass it on to their children, our grandchildren. This is life. And in Baptism, you have given them faith, and thus faith from Jesus’ time up to the present day is like a chain, transmitted by parents. And this is a real responsibility! Never forget the day of your Baptism.”

The Pope then revealed that he was baptized on December 25, just eight days after his birth, as was the custom at the time, Francis asked all those present to pray for him, and added, “babies and children cry, they make noise, they run about … and it bothers me greatly when a child cries in church and people expect him or her to leave. No! It is the best sermon. The cry of a child is the voice of God. Never, ever send them out of the church!”

Following his meetings with the parishioners, Pope Francis heard several confessions and then celebrated Mass. In his homily, he explained that, “the Church this Sunday anticipates the joy of the Nativity, and it is therefore called ‘Gaudete Sunday’, joyful Sunday”. The joy of the Nativity, he said, is a special joy the the Christian experiences not only on that day, but throughout all his or her life. “It is a serene, calm joy, a joy that always accompanies a Christian. Even in difficult moments, this joy is transformed into peace. The true Christian never loses this peace, even during suffering. This peace is a gift from the Lord.”

The Pope also spoke about all those people who do not know how to thank God and who are always looking for something to complain about. “A Christian cannot live like this, always complaining. … No saint has ever had a sad face. The saints always had joyful faces. Or at least, in moments of suffering, their faces showed peace.”

HOLY FATHER ON “CHALLENGING MISSION” OF CATHOLIC MEDIA

Catholic communication as courageous truth-telling that opens channels of dialogue and speaks to the whole person was part of Pope Francis’ message Monday morning to the management, journalists and technical staff of TV 2000 – the television broadcaster of the Italian Bishops’ Conference – as part of a special audience for them in Paul VI Hall.

He said he wished to share “three thoughts on the role of the communicator,” recalling that “the Catholic media have a very difficult mission in relation to social communication: seeking to preserve it from all that distorts and twists it for other purposes. Often communication is subject to propaganda, ideologies, political ends, or for the control of the economy or technology. He said that courageous frankness and freedom are the characteristics of the authentic communicator. and Catholic communications in particular.

The Holy Father also spoke of the duty all communicators have to do justice to the complexities of real life, without losing sight of the truth that is the object of authentic dialogue. “To open, and not to close,” channels of dialogue, said Pope Francis, “is the second task of the communicator.”

Finally, the Pope focused on the need to avoid both sensationalism and platitudes in reporting stories, and the need to cultivate an integral approach to interpersonal communication. “It is necessary to speak to people in their entirety,” he said, “to their mind and to their heart, so that they might be able to see beyond the immediate, beyond a present that is at risk of being amnesiac and fearful of the future.”  (Sources: VIS, Vatican Radio)

HOLY SEE, U.S. SECRETARIES OF STATE MEET IN VATICAN

(Vatican Radio) – A meeting was held in the Vatican Monday between the Holy See’s Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.  A note from Vatican Press Office spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, specified that the American delegation included the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Kenneth Hackett and two members of the State Department staff.  The Holy See was represented by three Curia officials responsible for the topics covered.

According to Fr. Lombardi, the main topics discussed were the situation in the Middle East, and the commitment of the U.S. to avoid the escalation of tensions and the explosion of violence; also the commitment to promote a resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

The United States’ commitment to the closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison was also illustrated and the desire expressed for the Holy See’s assistance in seeking adequate humanitarian solutions for current inmates .

The short time available for Monday’s discussions prevented both sides from examining other issues in depth, though some were mentioned – in particular, the situation in Ukraine and its prospects and the emergency surrounding the Ebola outbreak.