A THIRD “LITTLE THING”

A THIRD “LITTLE THING”

In off-the-cuff remarks to the synod plenary about 8 pm Saturday evening, at the end of a gruelling final day of work on the Final Document, Pope Francis spoke briefly.

He began: “I too have to say thank you to everyone. To Cardinal Baldisseri, Monsignor Fabene, the delegated presidents, speakers, the undersecretaries who I said had ‘left their skin’ in the preparatory document, now I believe that they leave the bones to us … thanks to the experts and we saw how we pass from a martyr text to the commission martyr, that of editorial staff, who has done so much effort so much penance have done this. Thanks to all of you, the listeners, and especially the young people who brought their music to the classroom – music is the diplomatic word to say noise.”

He then said he had “two little things to say”.

“First: to reiterate once more that the Synod is not a Parliament. It is a protected space for the Holy Spirit to implement. This is why the information that is given is general, and not the most particular things – the names, the way of saying things – which are those with which the Holy Spirit works in us … and this was a protected space … it was Spirit at work here.

“Second, the result of the Synod is not a document, we are full of documents. I do not know if this document out something, but yes I know what it must do in us, it must work in us. We have made the document, we have studied it, we have approved it. Now the Spirit gives us the document to work in our heart. We are the recipients of the document. Not people … For this document to work, to pray with the document, to study, to ask others for light, but it is mainly for us. We are the first recipients, there is the spirit that has done all this and returns to us. Do not forget that.”

Francis then added a third item:

“The third thing. I think of our Mother, the Holy Mother Church. The last three numbers (of the final document) on holiness show what the Church is, our mother is holy, but children are sinners. We are all sinners. And do not forget that expression of the fathers, the caste meretrix, the Holy Church, the Holy Mother with sinful children. And because of our sins, always the great accuser who takes advantage of the first chapter of Job turning, looking for who to accuse, in this moment he is accusing us and this accusation becomes persecution as well (…) the president of today says it, his persecuted people (…)and also becomes another type of persecution, constant accusations to dirty the Church. The Church does not get dirty. Yes children, we are all dirty, but Mother does not. Now is the time to defend the Mother, and the Mother defends herself from the great accuser with prayer and penance because of this I asked to pray the Rosary, to pray to St. Michael the Archangel (…) is a difficult time because the accuser through us attacks the Mother and you don’t touch the Mother.”

Some have seen this third item as a reference to the devil, to Satan, infiltrating the Church in a number of ways. Others saw this as a reference to the evils of the clerical sex abuse cases that have surfaced over the years, becoming especially painful after the Pennsylvania Report and the McCarrick case in the U.S.

And yet others saw this as a clear reference to Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano whose three missives with accusations against those in the Vatican – even at the highest level – who knew about and covered up McCarrick, were seen as “attacks” on the Church.

Interesting to ponder as these were off-the-cuff remarks.

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THE SYNOD FOR YOUTH AND THE FINAL DOCUMENT: IS IT A DONE DEAL?

THE SYNOD FOR YOUTH AND THE FINAL DOCUMENT: IS IT A DONE DEAL?

The Final Document of the 2018 synod was voted on last evening by the synod fathers. It was distributed in Italian only, even though many synod participants requested that it be made available in several languages. You may have seen Edward Pentin’s tweet last night: +Chaput: “Many bishops were frustrated by the lack of advance translations for important issues they were expected to vote on. As one of the synod fathers argued, it’s actually immoral to vote ‘yes’ on significant issues if you can’t even read and reflect on what the text says.”

Media received the Italian-only document as well as a sheet that showed how voting went on each single paragraph of the document, indicating ‘placet’ (it pleases) or ‘non placet’ (it does not please). Not a single paragraph escaped a ‘nay’ vote.

Following is an analysis by Sandro Magister. He presented the original Italian language paragraphs and I used google to translate them, re-reading and editing where needed. If I had left those paragraphs in Italian, you’d have had the same problem as some (many?) of the synod fathers had!

Here is his analysis:

In voting point by point on the final document of the synod on young people, on the afternoon of Saturday, October 27, in almost every case the synod fathers approved the text by a wide majority.

Out of 167 points put to a vote, fully 125 times the votes against were fewer than 10 and the votes in favor equal to or more than 240.

On only fifteen points were the votes against equal to or more than 30. And in only two cases were the votes against more than 50, in any case far from the threshold of the 83 “non placet,” equivalent to one third of the voters, which if crossed would have entailed the non-approval of the paragraph.

In the first case, with 51 votes against, the question in play concerned the increase of “synodality” in the Church. Actually, the six subsequent paragraphs concerning this issue all received more than 30 votes against.

In the second case, with 65 votes against, the point under discussion concerned sexuality, and in particular homosexuality, a word that occurs only twice in the entire document – in paragraphs 39 and 150, which refer respectively to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the 1986 letter of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith – but in realty was the elephant in the room for the whole synod, even where the document is silent on it, for example with regard to the seminaries and the formation of future priests.

Presented here below are eight paragraphs from the final document, each of them the recipient of a few dozen votes against. With the caution that the votes against cannot be automatically attributed to one side or the other, progressive or conservative, but can also be the expression of both, for different and sometimes opposite reasons.

But first it is also helpful to point out that in the run-up to the vote on the final document the synod fathers elected 16 members of the 21 who will make up the new council of the secretariat of the synod that will prepare the next assembly.
They are:

For Africa: Dieudonné Nzapalainga, cardinal archbishop of Bangui, Central African Republic;
Gabriel Mbilingi, archbishop of Cubango, Angola;
Andrew Ikea Fuanya, bishop of Mamfe, Cameroon.

For Latin America:
Daniel Fernando Sturla Berthouet, cardinal archbishop of Montevideo, Uruguay;
Jaime Calderón Calderón, bishop of Tapachula, Mexico;
Sérgio de Rocha, cardinal archbishop of Brasilia, Brazil.

For North America:
Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, cardinal archbishop of Québec, Canada;
Joseph W. Tobin, cardinal archbishop of Newark, United States.

For Asia:
Luis Antonio G. Tagle, cardinal archbishop of Manila, Philippines;
Oswald Gracias, cardinal archbishop of Bombay, India;
Charles Maung Bo, cardinal archbishop of Yangon, Myanmar.

For Europe:
Christoph Schönborn, cardinal archbishop of Vienna, Austria;
Matteo M. Zuppi, archbishop of Bologna, Italy;
Juan José Omella Omella, cardinal archbishop of Barcelona, Spain.

For Oceania:
Anthony Colin Fisher, archbishop of Sydney.

For the Eastern Churches:
Ignatius Joseph III Yonan, patriarch of Antioch of the Syriacs

In addition to these, one head of a curial dicastery and four prelates of pontifical appointment will be part of the new synod council.

The Final Document of the Synodal Assembly
3. It is important to clarify the relationship between the Instrumentum laboris and the Final Document. The first is the unitary and synthetic frame of reference that emerged from the two years of listening; the second is the fruit of discernment achieved and gathers the generative thematic nuclei on which the Synodal Fathers concentrated with particular intensity and passion. We therefore recognize the diversity and complementarity of these two texts. This document is offered to the Holy Father (see Francis, Episcopalis communio, No. 18, Instruction, Article 35 §5) and also to the whole Church as the fruit of this Synod. Since the synodal journey has not yet ended and foresees an implementation phase (see Episcopalis communio, No. 19-21), the Final Document will be a map to guide the next steps that the Church is called to move. Votes in favor 191, against 43

I Part
Chapter II – Three crucial junctions
Recognize and react to all types of abuse
Go to the root
30. There are different types of abuse: power, economic, conscience, sexual. The task of eradicating the forms of exercise of authority on which they are grafted and of countering the lack of accountability and transparency with which many cases have been managed is evident. The desire for domination, the lack of dialogue and transparency, the forms of double life, the spiritual emptiness, as well as psychological fragility are the terrain on which corruption flourishes. Clericalism, in particular, “arises from an elitist and excluding vision of vocation, which interprets the ministry received as a power to be exercised rather than as a free and generous service to offer; and this leads us to believe that we belong to a group that has all the answers and no longer needs to listen and learn anything, or pretends to listen “(Francesco, Discourse to the General Congregation of the XV General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, 3 October 2018). Votes in favor 204, against 31

Chapter III – Identity and relationships Body and affectivity The questions of young people
39. The Church has a rich tradition on which to build and from which to propose its own teaching on this subject: for example, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the theology of the body developed by St. John Paul II, the Encyclical Deus caritas est of Benedict XVI , the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia di Francesco. But young people, even those who know and live this teaching, express the desire to receive a clear, human and empathetic word from the Church. In fact, sexual morality often causes misunderstanding and estrangement from the Church, as it is perceived as a space of judgment and condemnation. Faced with social changes and ways of experiencing affectivity and the multiplicity of ethical perspectives, young people are sensitive to the value of authenticity and dedication, but are often disoriented. They express more particularly an explicit desire for comparison on issues related to the difference between male and female identity, to the reciprocity between men and women, to homosexuality. Votes in favor 195, against 43

Part II Chapter IV – The art of discerning The Church, environment to discern Ecclesial conscience
109. The conscience of every believer in his most personal dimension is always in relation with the ecclesial conscience. It is only through the mediation of the Church and her tradition of faith that we can access the authentic face of God revealed in Jesus Christ. Spiritual discernment therefore presents itself as the sincere work of conscience, in its commitment to know the possible good on which to decide responsibly in the correct exercise of practical reason, within and in the light of personal relationship with the Lord Jesus. Votes in favor 205, against 34

Part III Chapter I – The Synodal Missionary of the Church A constitutive dynamism The synodal form of the Church

121. The lived experience of the Synod participants aware of the importance of a synodal form of the Church for the proclamation and transmission of the faith. Synonymous with “awaken” synodality, which is a “constitutive dimension of the Church. […] As St. John Chrysostom says,” the Church and Synod are synonymous “- because the Church is nothing other than the “walking together” of the Flock of God on the paths of the history of Christ the Lord “(Francis, Speech for the Commemoration of the Synod of Bishops, 17 October 2015). Synodality characterizes both the life and the mission of the Church, which is the People of God formed by young and old, men and women of every culture and horizon, and the Body of Christ, in which we are members of each other, starting from those who are marginalized and trampled. During the exchanges and through the testimonies, the Synod brought out some fundamental features of a synodal style, towards which we are called to convert. Votes in favor 191, against 51

Chapter III – A renewed missionary impulse – Women in the Synodal Church
148. A Church that seeks to live a synodal style can not but reflect on the condition and role of women within it, and consequently also in society. Young people and young people ask for it with great force. The reflections developed require to be implemented through a work of courageous cultural conversion and change in daily pastoral practice. An area of particular importance in this regard is that of the presence of women in the ecclesial bodies at all levels, also in functions of responsibility, and of women’s participation in ecclesial decision-making processes while respecting the role of the ordained ministry. It is a duty of justice, which finds inspiration both in the way in which Jesus was related to men and women of his time, and in the importance of the role of some female figures in the Bible, in the history of salvation and in the life of the Church. Votes in favor 201, against 38

Sexuality: a clear, free, authentic word
150. There are questions concerning the body, affectivity and sexuality that need a more in-depth anthropological, theological and pastoral elaboration, to be carried out in the most convenient modalities and levels, from local to universal. Among these emerge in particular those related to the difference and harmony between male and female identity and sexual inclinations. In this regard, the Synod reaffirms that God loves every person and so does the Church, renewing its commitment against any discrimination and violence on a sexual basis. Equally it reaffirms the determinant anthropological relevance of the difference and reciprocity between man and woman and considers it reductive to define the identity of people starting only from their “sexual orientation” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on pastoral care of homosexual persons, October 1, 1986, No. 16).

In many Christian communities there are already paths of accompaniment in the faith of homosexual persons: the Synod recommends encouraging these paths. In these ways people are helped to read their own story; to adhere freely and responsibly to one’s baptismal call; to recognize the desire to belong and contribute to the life of the community; to discern the best forms to make it happen. In this way we help every young person, no one excluded, to increasingly integrate the sexual dimension into his personality, growing in the quality of relationships and walking towards the gift of self. Votes in favor 178, against 65

Chapter IV – Integral formation The formation of seminarians and consecrated persons
163. The specific task of the integral formation of candidates for the ordained ministry and for the consecrated life of men and women remains an important challenge for the Church. The importance of a solid cultural and theological formation for consecrated and consecrated persons is also recalled. As for the seminars, the first task is obviously the assumption and operational translation of the new Ratio fundamentalis institutionis sacerdotalis. During the Synod some important emphases emerged, which should be mentioned. In the first place the choice of formators is not enough that they are culturally prepared, they must be capable of fraternal relations, of an empathic listening and of profound inner freedom. Secondly, for a proper accompaniment serious and competent work will be needed in differentiated educational teams, which include female figures. The formation of these formative teams in which different vocations interact is a small but precious form of synodality, which affects the mentality of young people in initial formation. Thirdly, formation must aim at developing in future pastors and consecrated persons the ability to exercise their leadership role in an authoritative and non-authoritarian manner, educating young candidates to give themselves for the community. Particular attention should be paid to some formative criteria such as: overcoming tendencies to clericalism, ability to work in a team, sensitivity for the poor, transparency of life, willingness to be accompanied. Fourthly, the seriousness of initial discernment is decisive because too many young people who present themselves at seminaries or formation houses are welcomed without adequate knowledge and a thorough re-reading of their history. The question becomes particularly delicate in the case of “wandering seminarians”: relational and affective instability, and the lack of ecclesial roots are dangerous signals. To neglect ecclesial legislation in this regard constitutes irresponsible behavior, which can have very serious consequences for the Christian community. A fifth point concerns the numerical consistency of the training communities: in those too large there is a risk of depersonalisation of the path and of inadequate knowledge of young people on the way, while those too small risk being suffocating and subject to the logic of dependence; in these cases the best solution is to set up inter-diocesan seminars or training houses shared among several religious provinces, with clear training projects and well-defined responsibilities. Votes in favor 217, against 22

SYNOD OF BISHOPS ON YOUTH, A “TIME OF GRACE”

Pray for all the synod participants as they end their work of 25 days in the Vatican. May each one of them, from the Holy Father to the lay auditors, bring the gift of a synod that many have called “grace-filled days” to their home dioceses and parishes. The closing Mass is this Sunday at 10 am in St. Peter’s Basilica. Safe travels to all who came to the Eternal City for this important meeting.

Also this weekend: Tune in to Vatican Insider as I look back at the synod and other Vatican news and then present a special interview. 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)

SYNOD OF BISHOPS ON YOUTH, A “TIME OF GRACE”

The Primate of all Ireland said at Friday’s Synod of Bishops press briefing that he that has not engaged with and encouraged young people enough.
By Russell Pollitt, SJ (vaticannews)

A graced month

Both Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Austria and Archbishop Eamon Martin of Ireland said that the Synod has been a time of grace – despite their personal apprehension before it started.

Synod Fathers are shown here after the Mass yesterday morning in St. Peter’s Basilica following the pilgrimage along the Via Francigena to the tomb of the first Pope. The Pope, in the center, is not vested as he did not celebrate Mass but was present. In the background you can see three archways over three altars in the south aisle of the basilica. The center altar – the Altar of St. Joseph –  has the relics of two of the 12 Apostles, Sts. Simon and Jude. Not many people know that St. Peter is not the only Apostle buried in St. Peter’s Basilica. By the way, their feast day is this Sunday, October 28!

Cardinal Schönborn said that when appointed he was concerned about being away from Vienna for such a long time. Now, he says, he realises what a good experience it was for bishops to come from all over the world so that they could listen to young people and share with them. He said that they heard more about the experiences and life situations of youth. He said that here is no other comparable social body of leaders in the world who will take the time – a whole month – to listen to young people with empathy and true attention.

The Vienna cardinal said that the atmosphere was not one in which the bishops had answers but simply one in which they gave attention to the vision and dreams of young people. He said that at the Synod they laughed a lot and that there was an excellent atmosphere and real communion. He said that he will be more determined in his missionary spirit because the courage and willingness of young people.

Archbishop Martin echoed this. He said that it was a graced-filled month. He too said that he was skeptical before arriving. He said that in Ireland they have to connect with young people but they haven’t done a great job. He said that the Church connects with families and schools but after that they struggle to engage young people. He said that the Synod has offered him much for reflection on how to go about connecting with youth. The communion at the Synod, with the Holy Father, bishops and young people was a real grace, he said.

Archbishop Anthony Muheria from Kenya said that the Synod was an exceptional experience of the universality of the church, its diversity and also of collegiality. He says that the Synod has been like a flame, a fire, which reignited the desire of the bishops to engage young people and in so doing give new life to the Church.

The Church must preach a counter-cultural message

Archbishop Martin said that this Synod was not talking about a particular doctrinal issue. The Synod touched on many issues from the point of view of young people. In the first week the gathering identified the pressures that young people were under. The reality of poverty, human trafficking, migration, how many young people are lost, the increase in depression, mental illness and their yearning for a stable reference point. The Archbishop said that the bishops felt the importance again of the Church presenting a counter-culture message to the world, a world, he added, in which young people are drowning and feel suffocated. He said that the Church gives people a reason to hope, to hold on to life, to live with passion. If anything, he said, the Church mustn’t chase after fashions but fearlessly speak and go against the grain of what society proposes. We need a Church that is counter-cultural, he said.

The future challenge

Archbishop Muheria said that the challenge is now for the bishops to pass the flame of the Synod on to young people. We need to instill hope. He said for him it is now about what will happen when the Synod ends on Sunday. He said that the Church needs to help young people face hurdles so that they can have great dreams for the future – great dreams which are calling the whole Church forward, he added. He said this will mean a change in approach and therefore a new adventure. He said that the majority of Catholic youth are in Asia and Africa and the Synod must connect with them despite their particular challenges.

Archbishop Martin said that he is nervous as he has to go home and bring the power and joy and life of the Synod back to the particular Churches in Ireland. “I have to be an ambassador of the Synod,” he said.

He said that young people have to be involved in the contemporary Church. In society they are in politics, education, policing, government and the legal system. For this reason, too, he said, the Church must engage with them so that they can transform society from within the places they are already working and involved.

Archbishop Martin said that he came to the realisation that young people are not the object of ministry, young people are themselves agents of evangelisation. He said that he realises that he must engage more with young people so that they can become missionary disciples. He said he sees now that he has not engaged with and encouraged young people enough. He said that he must go and reimagine his diocese and parishes. A question, for himself, he said, was how he facilitates making faith-filled young people part of the decision-making of the Church back in Ireland.

Mr Erduin Alberto Ortega Leal from Cuba, said that the Church does try and help young people find answers but that the Church of the future must also be involved and active with all people. He said that sometimes people in the Church don’t understand the mistakes of the past but, thanks to the Synod, he feels that there is a better understanding now.

SYNOD OF BISHOPS: GOD IS AN ABSTRACT THOUGHT FOR THE YOUNG

If you want to spend some very special time understanding the synod with Bishop Robert Barron or in some of the Eternal City’s beautiful churches via his video team, go here for some marvelous videos! https://wof.digital/synod2018/#updates

SYNOD OF BISHOPS: GOD IS AN ABSTRACT THOUGHT FOR THE YOUNG

Although many young people attend mass and go to confession, and despite 12 years of catechism, God still remains an abstract thought for them, a bishop says at Wednesday’s press briefing.
By Russell Pollitt, SJ (vaticannews)

On Wednesday the Synod Fathers discussed the draft of the final document of the Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment. A letter to young people, from the Synod, was also read out in the General Assembly. It is expected that the letter will be read at the closing Mass of the Synod on Sunday, 28 October.

Full Churches but what happens outside?
Bishop Andrew Nkea Fuanya of Cameroon said that parishes in Africa are full, there is not enough space to contain all the young people. The problem is that after joyful celebrations – sometimes lasting a number of hours – young people leave and enter a world of unemployment, no medical care, high rates of poverty and war situations.
The Bishop said that the understanding of family in Africa was still very strong. He said that traditional values correspond to values in the Church. They are passed on from generation to generation, youth still follow their elders.

Asked why he thought the Church in Africa was thriving, he said that he believes that it is because community is at the heart of African life. The Bishop said that in Africa they fight the “in-creeping” of individualism. He said that once people lock themselves up in big houses and build high walls then community and connection are lost. The Church as community and family is very strong in Africa. If this is lost, then the Church will empty out.

He also noted that the Church must speak in unambiguous language, tell young people the truth. It is important that the truth is not watered down, he added, especially about delicate topics.

God is an abstract idea
Archbishop Grzegorz Ryś of Poland said that it is not that Poland’s parishes are empty, to the contrary. He said that about 50 percent of young people go to Church and seek confession regularly. This, however, does not necessarily mean that they know Jesus. He said that for many youngsters God is an abstract idea after 12 years of catechism. He said that young people know little about faith. He went on to explain that if you ask young people about values they say that family is a value; faith is, sadly, way down the list. Family is important because of the relationships. He used the example of religious feasts like Christmas and Easter. Young people see these as significant “family events” and not as religious occasions. He added that this is not a judgement but something important to take note of.

Accompanying the young as they make existential decisions
Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Germany said that Pope Francis has decided to use Synods as part of a global process and way of moving the Church forward. The Cardinal said that looking at young people between the ages of 15-28 was key because this is when they are making existential decisions. He said that they are at a sensitive age and one that the Church must understand. He said that accompaniment at this time was crucial because if they are not well accompanied then the Church will be a lost playing field for evangelisation.

Women
Asked about the role of women in the Church, Cardinal Marx said that without change and development one can never make any progress. The question of women’s roles in the Church is important for the whole Church. He said that women need to be given real participation in the Church’s decision-making processes. In some place this is already happening. The Cardinal said that 30 years ago he too may have been opposed to this but, he said, “thank God I didn’t get stuck there!”

The Cardinal said that the Church must understand the evolution of time and the development of women’s equality. He said that this is a gift that God gives the Church in the light of the Gospel. We would be foolish if we did not make use of the potential that women have. Thank God we are not that stupid, the Cardinal added.

Sexuality should not be exploited for ideological reasons
Asked about the use of the acronym LGBTI in the final document, Bishop Nkea said that we must be careful of the language we use. He said that the Church is the only voice that is opposed to certain ideologies. He said that there were programmes that require pro-abortion policies in order to receive aid. This cannot be accepted. The Bishop said that he would not be in favour of the acronym “LGBTI” being used in the final document. He said that 99.9 percent of young people in his diocese would not know what that means. He said that if the acronym was used in the document, he would have to take time to become conversant with something he is not familiar with so that he can explain it to others.

Cardinal Marx was asked about sexual orientation and the way that the German Church has handled this. He said that sexuality is being discussed at the Synod but that this is not a Synod on sexuality. It is being dealt with in the dimension of accompaniment. He said that there are lobbies from all different sides wanting to have their agenda heard. He warned against those who use sexuality to exploit it for ideological reasons. He said that the Church needs to use a language that is understandable to everyone, one that accompanies and does not homogenise cultures. He said that this Synod is not about language but about accompanying the young as best as the Church can. He said that, for Jesus, sexuality is one dimension of the whole person and not the whole person.

Commenting on sexual abuse, Cardinal Marx said that this was brought back into focus in Germany just before Synod. He said that it has been discussed at the Synod and that a change of attitude is necessary. He added that abuse was also an abuse of power, as Pope Francis has said many times.

SYNOD OF BISHOPS: YOUNG PEOPLE ARE USED-LESS, NOT USELESS – BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE SYNOD

Yesterday was, as I briefly noted, the feast day of St. John Paul II and it was also the 40th anniversary of the inauguration of his pontificate on October 22, 1978. At his death on April 2, 2005, almost 27 years later, his was the third longest papacy after Pius IX (31 years, 7 months, 21 days) and St. Peter (precise dates unknown).

I met John Paul almost 20 times when I worked at VIS, the Vatican Information Service, had a number of occasions to actually speak to him and actually have a video I really cherish, a close up of the two of us talking before I left for China on the Holy See delegation to the UN’s women conference in 1995. He met the delegation before we left the next day for three weeks in Beijing. (I had no knowledge of the audience beforehand or I’d have worn a dark color outfit instead of a pink dress)

For 15 years in my job at VIS, I read every speech or homily John Paul gave and every document he wrote – how my faith and knowledge of the Church, the Universal Church grew!

The first time we met after Mass in his private chapel: there’s an hysterical story associated with this meeting in December 1985!

My favorite moments were attending Mass in his private chapel and making cookies for him. Yes, I started making chocolate chip cookies for John Paul as soon as I learned he loved chocolate. I’m a chocaholic so it was natural to share my favorite food. I always hand delivered them to his then secretary – now Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz – and I always got a note or phone call of thanks from Msgr. Stanislaw.

World Youth Day, Denver 1993-

One day I decided to research for VIS the countless “firsts” of John Paul’s pontificate. To name but a few: first Pope to ever visit a synagogue; to visit a mosque (Omayyad Great Mosque of Damascus); to hold press conferences in airplanes and one in the Holy See Press Office; the first Pope to stay in a hotel during a trip instead of residing in the apostolic nunciature or the bishop’s residence as is tradition during papal trip: he stayed at the Irshad Hotel in Baku, Azerbaijan, in May 2002. The hotel had diplomatic status for the duration of his stay. There was no bishop in Azerbaijan and there were only 120 faithful, the smallest ever number of Catholics in a country visited by a Roman Pontiff.

Pope John Paul visited the Holy See Press Office in January 1994

I was a lector at Christmas Midnight Mass, December 1993


A few more “firsts” of the dozens and dozens of this papacy: St John Paul added five new mysteries to the Rosary, the Luminous Mysteries; he said Mass in an airplane hangar at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport on the December 10th feast day of Loreto: Our Lady of Loreto is the patron saint of aviators; he called for a Day of Pardon in the Great Jubilee Year 2000); said Mass in the northernmost Catholic community in the world, over 350 kilometers north of the Arctic Polar Circle (Tromso, Norway 1989); first Pope (and I think the only one!) to use a letter on his papal crest: he put “M” for Mary. The rules of heraldry allow letters or words only around a crest, not on it.

The final time we met: December 14, 2004


I have always felt tremendously sorry for people who did not live during this papacy, who never knew St. John Paul! We were blessed beyond telling!

SYNOD OF BISHOPS: YOUNG PEOPLE ARE USED-LESS, NOT USELESS

At the Tuesday briefing for the Synod of Bishops on Young People, Cardinal Tagle from the Philippines said that the young women present with the bishops provided a much-needed expansion of horizons at the Synod.
By Russell Pollitt, SJ (vaticannews)

The draft of the final document was presented to the Synod Fathers on Tuesday morning and was greeted with a long round of applause, said Dr Paolo Ruffini Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication. On Wednesday, the Synod Fathers will put forward proposals for integration into the final document. Dr Ruffini said that the document is different than the working document, the Instrumentun Laboris, but reflects many of the issues that were outlined in that document. He said that the icon for the entire document is the Scriptural account of the Road to Emmaus. He also said that a letter is being prepared and addressed to young people.

Wisdom and strength move us forward
Mr Joseph Sepati Moeono-Kolio, an auditor representing Caritas International and Oceania from Somoa, said the Synod has been an overwhelming experience. He said that it has been a time in which the Church has been reflecting on its engagement with the world, being acutely aware of the challenges the Church faces and proactively going out to meet those challenges. He said that the Synod spoke about Catholic Social Teaching and how to equip young people to go and use it in the world to face the issues that are before them.

Mr Sepati said that an image of the Synod for him from his own context in the Pacific region is an older wise person and young person in a canoe. The older person knows how to read the stars and navigate the oceans, the younger person has the strength to move things forward.

The Synod was like a school
Cardinal Charles Maung Bo from Myanmar said that after the Synod he personally and the Church in Myanmar will give more attention to young people. He said that he realised that young people have not be listened to as they deserve to be. He said that the Church needs to realise that young people are used-less and not useless. He said that he hopes that the whole Church will give attention to young people and follow up on the recommendations of the Synod.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle from the Philippines said that he doesn’t like comparing Synods, as each one that he has attended, seven in all, is unique. This Synod has been like a school, young people have been teaching us, by sharing their dreams and desires but most especially by telling their stories, the Cardinal explained.

The feminine
Cardinal Tagle said that this has also been a different Synod as the feminine voice has certainly been a focal point. He said that it was suggested often that female figures in Scripture should be used as interpretative lights for young people today. He said that the testimony of the young women at the Synod provided a much-needed expansion of horizons. The Cardinal said that when we talk about diversity it is not just about cultures but also the experience of women which is unique.

Migration and education
Archbishop Bienvenu Manamika Bafouakouahou from Congo said that he uses this image for the Synod: the final document of the Synod will be one that launches the bishops into orbit, like satellites, they in turn will give the signal back to young people on earth.

He said that in different parts of the world the issues were different for young people. For him, he said, migration is a real issue. Young people are looking for a better life but they are also driven from their homes, expelled from their land. This was caused, for example, by the degradation of the ecosystem at the hands of multinationals. He said that things like COP21 are often not adhered too despite all the promises made.

The Archbishop went on to say that another big concern is formation and education. He said that in Europe education was advanced but that in many African countries this is still a serious problem. Something must be done so that young people can grow and integral development can take place on the continent, the Archbishop concluded.

Holy Father to attend a book launch
At the briefing Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro spoke about a book that will be launched tonight at which Pope Francis will be present and answer questions. The book is entitled The Wisdom of Time and is aimed at bridging and connecting different generations. Fr Spadaro said that the Pope has been involved in the book in three ways: The Holy Father wrote the preface, he wrote about his own experience as an older man himself and then also contributed as a spiritual guide by commenting on the stories in the book.

BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE SYNOD

From “The Catholic Thing”: “On the Verge – by Robert Royal

The first draft of the final document of the Synod on Youth is being given to the bishops today – many of you may already know something about that by the time you read this, given the six-hour time difference between Rome and the East Coast of America. As I write, I don’t yet.

Italian journalists with long experience here say to expect a relatively uncontroversial text – on the surface. It will, they say, include ambiguous language about LGBTs designed not to provoke too strong a reaction, but formulations that can be turned in several desired directions in the future.

This seems only too likely. And that’s why the bishops who truly get what’s going on must push strongly for language that allows for no blurring of Catholic teaching, explicit or implicit, anywhere in the final document.

The synod fathers were on a kind of brief vacation Monday and will be back in session reading this text and proposing changes Tuesday and Wednesday. Their proposed changes will then be incorporated, or not, by the committee doing the writing of a second draft later in the week and finally voted on Saturday. Or at least that’s the schedule – which Pope Francis can always decide to change – as Paolo Ruffini, prefect of the Communications Office of the Holy See, regularly reminds audiences.

We can’t yet know, of course, what the draft will say, but we can make informed guesses on the basis of the few things we have seen at recent briefings. For example, on Saturday, Diane Montagna of LifeSite News asked three English-speaking bishops (Cardinal Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Rabat of Papua New Guinea, and Archbishop Comensoli of Melbourne) a perfectly reasonable – and perfectly clear – question.

Are you distinguishing, on the one hand, between “welcoming and accepting and including” people who are same-sex attracted as persons, who like all persons deserve our respect and goodwill, and on the other hand, are you making it clear, as the Catechism does, that homos exual orientation, let alone behavior, is not being “welcomed”? Especially since young people want the truth.

You would think that this is something any Catholic bishop, archbishop, or cardinal could answer in a couple of words: Of course, yes. You can watch the reaction here (he gave a link to a video), in which Archbishop Comensoli goes through a roundabout way of saying we are all sinners on a pilgrimage to the foot of the Cross.

Well, yes, of course, but that’s not exactly what’s being questioned at the moment.

Cardinal Cupich gave an even more puzzling response that we have to be sure “not to place obstacles” to the workings “of God’s grace.” Presumably, this means that you don’t simply, and obstinately, repeat Church teaching and neglect real human engagement with people who are same-sex attracted, but are also seeking Jesus Christ.

But this is only to say that, when dealing with someone who’s searching, you shouldn’t be a jerk. No argument there, of course. But it’s a real question whether it may also be an obstacle to the working of grace not to urgently – also sensitively, if you will – convey to the same-sex attracted or to anyone how serious all sin is.

There’s something in this “accompanying” that in one way is what the Church has always done – reaching out to all of us as we return again and again to confess, repent, make a firm resolution to avoid future sin.

But in another way, there’s something else being introduced here. Sure the Church wants to walk on a pilgrimage with God’s people, which means dealing with sinners who progress and relapse. But if there’s no sense of urgency and the pilgrimage begins to stretch out seemingly without limit, maybe the real call of the Gospel is not being proposed.

Besides, as the wisdom of all good theology and even pagan philosophy reminds us, none of us knows the hour of our death.

Asking for a real decision – here and now – may be a more merciful and compassionate, even more realistic and essential, than an obstacle.

It’s fair to speculate that we’ll see some attempt to get non-committal, open-ended language like this into the first draft. Amoris laetitia has already given us the example for it, the “walking with” people in second marriages and the half-expressed change in teaching that it’s going to be fine for everyone to receive the sacraments even though there is no intention to change a sinful life.

For multiple reasons, our time finds it particularly difficult to make traditional moral affirmations about homosexuality. The ashes of Matthew Shephard, a homosexual prostitute and drug dealer who was horribly murdered in Wyoming years ago, but has been falsely mythologized as a gay saint, will be interred at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. this week. The Episcopal Church is quite lost at present, in many ways, not least in trying to normalize and celebrate and even sacralize what until recently that church regarded as sin.

And even American Evangelicals have been affected. Evangelicals have been poorly educated in their churches lately and are now confused about many core Christian beliefs, as a study released in the past week by an evangelical outfit has discovered. But the largest shift in attitudes has occurred over homosexuality. Around half of evangelicals say they believe that “The Bible’s condemnation of homosexual behavior doesn’t apply today.”

The Catholic embrace of both faith and reason, Scripture and tradition, has long been a point of pride about how we differ from other faith groups, especially when they become unmoored, and go along with wherever the culture, often a decidedly non-Christian culture, is going.

We will see in the next few days how such things stand among the gathered bishops.

SYNOD OF BISHOPS: WE MUST ASK FOR FORGIVENESS – NOTRE DAME STUDENTS REFLECT ON SYNOD, CHALLENGES FACING YOUTH TODAY – REFLECTIONS ON ARCHBISHOP VIGANÒ’S COURAGEOUS THIRD LETTER

Tune in tonight to EWTN’s “At Home with Jim and Joy” when I speak of a Pope I dearly loved, respected and admired – and in whose papacy I worked! – St. Pope John Paul. Today is his feast day and also the 40th anniversary of the inauguration of his pontificate on that faraway October 22, 1978. I share a few personal moments and also look at a handful of the “firsts” of the John Paul papacy!

As you will see below, Msgr. Charles Pope wrote a brilliant piece for the National Catholic Register entitled, “Reflections on Archbishop Viganò’s courageous Third Letter.” Believe me, he is spot on!

SYNOD OF BISHOPS: WE MUST ASK FOR FORGIVENESS

At Monday’s press briefing for the Synod of Bishops on Young People a bishop said that the Church must ask young people for forgiveness for the kind of world we have created.
By Russell Pollitt, SJ (vaticannews)

The Synod Fathers had Monday off while the first draft of the Synod document was being finalised. This draft will be presented at the General Assembly on Tuesday morning. The draft will be debated on Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday the Synod Fathers will have a day off while a final draft is being prepared. On Friday the General Assembly will meet to elect a new Council for the Synod and, on Saturday, the final document will be presented to the bishops. They will vote on the document paragraph by paragraph, each needing a two thirds majority to be included in the final document.

We must ask forgiveness
Bishop Paolo Bizzeti, S.J., from Turkey said that he has been thinking about the kind of world that has been created for young people. We have not prepared a liveable world for young people where they can work, express themselves and use their talents. We have to ask young people for forgiveness, he said, for creating a world in which we have deprived them of so many possibilities.

The Bishop also said that what emerged for him at the Synod was the vast differences between the Church in affluent wealthy parts of the world compared to many impoverished places. He said that in impoverished places it is very hard to talk about faith and discernment when many young people from the ages of 8 or 10 are not able to choose because choices are made for them, often by the desperate conditions they find themselves in.

Conversion
We must change, we must take conversion seriously, so that we can become a better Church, said Fr Ángel Fernández Artime, S.D.B., General Superior of the Salesians of Saint John Bosco. He said that young people have asked the Church to be brave and bear witness, to testify to the faith. He said that this was a call to all adults, not just to the clergy.

Ms. Henriette Camara, an auditor and member of the Catholic Scouts from Guinea, spoke about her conversion. She said that she came from a Muslim family. She came into contact with the Catholic Scouts and explained how, through this movement, she chose to convert. She says that she received a lot of support from them, she was welcomed without any discrimination and that her commitment to the Church with other young people has been a very meaningful experience. She also said that, even today, her mother is not happy that she chose to convert but she is still supported by the scouts.

Feeling fatherless and motherless
Bishop Bizzeti and Fr Artime said that they believe that motherhood and fatherhood is missing in the world. Fr Artime says that he meets young people who suffer from this lack of parenthood. He said that even in families that are conventional the pace of life is such that children are often not given the presence and accompaniment they need.

He went on to say that he believed that there is a weakness in the Church’s vision. The Church is not only present in parishes but in schools, shelters and other institutions and it is precisely in these that the Church can offer and help young people with a truly mature and healthy motherhood and fatherhood.

Local Synods
Bishop Frank J. Caggiano from the USA, said that the work of the Synod has been to look at things from a universal level but that this now needs to be taken into local Churches. He said that Synodality doesn’t end now, it must be concretised in local areas. A big question for him, he says, is how he takes this forward in his own diocese. He said that he wants to bring young people in his diocese together so that they can put their heads together and find a way forward. He said that a diocesan synod or congress might be a way of taking the Synod forward.

Bishop Caggiano said that young people have a unique contribution to offer the Church in the form of the technologies they use. Young people have expertise on the “digital continent” and that needs to become real missionary territory. He said that the young people at the Synod are ready to be sent and that it is his hope that they unleash a new energy and power in the Church. Young people best evangelise young people, the bishop said.

Commenting on the sexual abuse of minors. Bishop Caggiano said that abuse was both a crime and a sin and that there is no place in the Church for this at all. We need to let young people know that we are committed to rebuilding our credibility and trust. The Bishops said that when trust is broken it is very hard to rebuild and needs to be done one person at a time. He said that that is something the bishops will address and must have a definitive way of dealing with in the future.

NOTRE DAME STUDENTS REFLECT ON SYNOD, CHALLENGES FACING YOUTH TODAY

As the Synod of Bishops on Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment draws to a close, twelve students from the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Ethics and Culture’s Sorin Fellows program spent a week in Rome meeting with synod delegates, volunteering with the Missionaries of Charity, and traveling on pilgrimage to some of Rome’s historic churches.

Here is a link to their reflections on the synod process and the challenges facing young people today: https://cruxnow.com/synod-of-bishops-on-youth/2018/10/21/notre-dame-youth-on-synod-the-sacred-heart-and-mother-teresa/

REFLECTIONS ON ARCHBISHOP VIGANÒ’S COURAGEOUS THIRD LETTER

In thin-skinned times such as these, Archbishop Viganò’s most recent letter shines forth as a clarion call to Catholics everywhere.

Msgr. Charles Pope (for National Catholic Register)

As I finished reading Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s third letter, I had an immediate sense that I had just read something that is destined to be one of the great pastoral and literary moments of the Church’s history. There was an air of greatness about it that I cannot fully describe. I was stunned at its soteriological quality — at its stirring and yet stark reminder of our own judgment day. In effect he reminded us that this is more than a quibble over terminology or who wins on this or that point, or who is respectful enough of whom. This is about the salvation of souls, including our own. We almost never hear bishops or priests speak like this today!

Others will write adequately on the canonical, ecclesial and political aspects of Archbishop Viganò latest and very concise summary of the case. As most of you know, I have fully affirmed elsewhere that I find his allegations credible and that they should be fully investigated. But in this post I want to explore further the priestly qualities manifest in this third letter, qualities that are too often missing in action today.

 (AP Photo/Alex Washburn)

To begin with, he has in mind the moral condition of souls. The Archbishop warns in several places of the danger posed to the souls of the faithful by the silence and confusing actions of many bishops and priests and the Pope. He laments that this, along with the homosexual subculture in the Church, “continues to wreak great harm in the Church — harm to so many innocent souls, to young priestly vocations, and to the faithful at large.”

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, this was the first concern of most every priest: the moral condition of souls, including his own. Today, many bishops and priests, as well as many parents and other leaders in the Church, seem far more concerned with the feelings, and emotional happiness of those under their care than with their actual moral condition. They worry more about political correctness and not upsetting those who engage in identity politics and base their whole identity on aberrant and sinful habits and disordered inclinations. That a person be pleased and affirmed today is seemingly more important than that they be summoned to repentance and healing or be made ready for their judgment day. Passing and apparent happiness eclipses true and eternal happiness. Further, silence in the face of horrible sin, deferring to and fawning over powerful churchmen, and cultural leaders of this world seems to outweigh any concern for the harm caused to the souls and lives of others.

Yes, too often, the only thing that really matters, the salvation of souls, is hardly considered. As others have rightly pointed out, this points to a loss of faith and a bland universalism wherein all, or the vast majority, attain to Heaven. Further, the possibility of Hell is all but dismissed — almost never preached, let alone considered a factor in how we should pastorally guide people.

In all of this, Archbishop Viganò still has that “old-time religion.” He takes seriously Jesus’ admonitions regarding Judgment Day, his many warnings about Hell and the absolute need to decide whom we will serve: God or the world, the Gospel or popular culture, the flesh or the spirit. Viganò’s final two paragraphs could not be clearer:

You can choose to withdraw from the battle, to prop up the conspiracy of silence and avert your eyes from the spreading of corruption. You can make excuses, compromises and justification that put off the day of reckoning. You can console yourselves with the falsehood and the delusion that it will be easier to tell the truth tomorrow, and then the following day, and so on.

On the other hand, you can choose to speak. You can trust Him who told us, “the truth will set you free.” I do not say it will be easy to decide between silence and speaking. I urge you to consider which choice — on your deathbed, and then before the just Judge — you will not regret having made.

This is powerful. I could be reading St. John Chrysostom, Pope St. Gregory the Great or St. Alphonsus Liguori. Honestly, I cannot recall many times I have heard a modern bishop or even priest speak like this. There are exceptions of course, such as the great Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, but clarity is rare. I hope too that some of the deacons, priests and bishops who might read this are saying, “I too am an exception. I often preach like this.”

But my general experience tells me, from many who write to me, that their priests and bishops never mention mortal sin, Hell or judgement. And if they do preach on sin they use abstractions and generalities, euphemisms and other safe terms such as “injustice” and “woundedness.”

In this letter Archbishop Viganò writes as if he never got the memo to obfuscate and speak in cloaked and guarded ways; to speak in such hazy terms that no one really has any idea what you are saying.

Instead the Archbishop comes right out and says,
[T]his very grave crisis cannot be properly addressed and resolved unless and until we call things by their true names. This is a crisis due to the scourge of homosexuality, in its agents, in its motives, in its resistance to reform. It is no exaggeration to say that homosexuality has become a plague in the clergy, and it can only be eradicated with spiritual weapons. It is an enormous hypocrisy to condemn the abuse, claim to weep for the victims, and yet refuse to denounce the root cause of so much sexual abuse: homosexuality. It is hypocrisy to refuse to acknowledge that this scourge is due to a serious crisis in the spiritual life of the clergy and to fail to take the steps necessary to remedy it.… the evidence for homosexual collusion, with its deep roots that are so difficult to eradicate, is overwhelming. …To claim the crisis itself to be clericalism is pure sophistry.

Here too there have been very few bishops or priest willing to speak so clearly and to depart from euphemisms. There are exceptions, but they are too few. And, for a bonus round, the good archbishop even reintroduces an older term that has fallen out of use:

Unquestionably there exist philandering clergy, and unquestionably they too damage their own souls, the souls of those whom they corrupt, and the Church at large.

A philanderer is a man who exploits women, a “womanizer.” He is one who, in an often-casual way exploits a woman, but has little or no intention of marrying her. He will exploit her for his needs but not consider her as a person deserving of his ultimate respect and loyalty in marriage. Sadly this too exists in the priesthood, but on a far more limited basis. Whatever the number or percentage of philanderers — one is too many — the much larger number of homosexual offenses (80 percent) in clergy sexual delicts shouts for attention. But few, very few bishops or Vatican officials are willing to talk openly and clearly about it. This must change if any solutions are to be credible and trust is to be restored with God’s people. Excluding any reference to active homosexuality in the priesthood is like excluding any talk about cigarette smoking as a cause for lung cancer. It results in a pointless and laughable discussion that no one can take seriously. Will any other bishops follow the lead of Archbishop Viganò and a few others, such as Bishop Robert Morlino? It remains to be seen, but credibility remains in the balance.

Finally, Archbishop Viganò, in a Pauline sort of way, has taken up the necessary mantle of opposing Peter’s (i.e., Pope Francis’) behavior to his face and publicly. While some wonder why this is not done privately, the answer must surely be, “How could he approach Pope Francis privately?” Pope Francis has steadfastly refused to engage his questioners. He has taken up a policy of “weaponized ambiguity” and when legitimate questions are asked, they are greeted with silence. Far from answering his flock, he often refers to them as monsters, accusers, scandalmongers and worse when they press for clarity and seek for answers and accountability.

How rare it is that other bishops are willing to speak out so clearly of their concerns. Only four cardinals issued the dubia. Why is this? Where are the rest? Only in recent weeks has the Pope even hinted that there may be an allowable investigation of the Vatican Archives. One must still ask: When? How? And to what extent? It will take a courageous insistence on the part of the faithful and bishops to see this through.
In the end, I am deeply grateful for Archbishop Viganò’s dose of “old-time religion.”

It is refreshing to hear an archbishop actually call sin by name; to show concern for the moral condition of souls, not just the emotional state; to warn of judgment and summon us all to decide — not just hide, obfuscate and fret about “getting along” while souls are being lost. It is hopeful that an archbishop of high reputation is willing to call the Pope and the Vatican to account. This sort of leadership is too little in evidence today among the hierarchy and priests.

Some will surely bristle at the Archbishop’s “strong language.” But I ask you, is it really so different from the way the Lord Jesus spoke? Perhaps the bristling is more emblematic of our dainty and thin-skinned times — times marked by identity politics, cries of victimization, and every form of shock and outrage over the slightest reproach.

In my estimation this letter of Archbishop Viganò will go down in history as one of the great moments of pastoral exhortation and integrity. It will shine forth as a clarion call in an age of timid silence from too many other prelates and priests. May the Archbishop’s courage inspire many more to come forth and respectfully but clearly insist on answers and honesty. May his warning on our Judgement Day be salutary. May repentance, renewal and courage be growing realities in God’s Church!

THE SYNOD IN PICTURES – POPE WELCOMES PRESIDENT OF SOUTH KOREA – CARDINAL PAROLIN CELEBRATES MASS FOR PEACE ON KOREAN PENINSULA – LOOKING BACK: HOLY SEE NUNCIO TO KOREA, THE TRUMP VISIT, THE CHURCH IN KOREA

THE SYNOD IN PICTURES

https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2018-10/synod-youth-2018-pope-photo-gallery.html

POPE WELCOMES PRESIDENT OF SOUTH KOREA

Today, in the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father Francis received in audience H.E. Mr. Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea, who subsequently met with His Eminence Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, and with H.E. Msgr. Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States. (AP photos)

During the cordial discussions, the parties evoked the good bilateral relations and the positive contribution offered by the Church in the social, education and healthcare sectors, as well as the promotion of dialogue and reconciliation between Koreans.

Strong appreciation was expressed for the common commitment to fostering all useful initiatives to overcome the tensions that still exist in the Korean Peninsula, in order to usher in a new season of peace and development. Finally, some matters of a regional nature were discussed.

FROM AP: South Korea’s president has met with Pope Francis in a private audience, and his office says that the pontiff indicated his willingness to visit North Korea.
The South Korean presidential office said in a statement that President Moon Jae-in “conveyed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s desire for a papal visit to North Korea”.

A formal invitation directly from North Korea will follow.
The office said Francis said that, “if the invitation comes, I will surely respond to it, and I can possibly go”.

Mr Kim initially indicated his desire for a papal visit during a Korean summit last month.

If it materialises, such a visit would be the first by a pope to North Korea.

CARDINAL PAROLIN CELEBRATES MASS FOR PEACE ON KOREAN PENINSULA
By Robin Gomes (vaticannews)

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin celebrated Mass Wednesday evening in St. Peter’s Basilica and prayed for peace in the Korean peninsula, saying that peace without crosses and tribulations is not the peace of Jesus.

Present at the Mass were visiting South Korean President Moon Jae-in (a Catholic), his wife, a large group of Korean faithful, a hundred priests and missionaries, some bishops and many representatives of the Holy See’s diplomatic corps.

The Holy See Press Office had announced that Cardinal Parolin would celebrate the Mass on the eve of a meeting between Moon and Pope Francis.

In his homily, Cardinal Parolin said that they were praying for peace in the world, especially in the Korean Peninsula, so that “after so many years of tension and division, the word peace may finally fully resound.”

Peace – God’s gift amidst tribulations
The secretary of State said that, “peace is built by daily choices, by a serious commitment to the service of justice and solidarity, by the promotion of the rights and dignity of the human person, and especially by caring for the weakest”. “But, for the one who believes, peace, first of all, is a gift that comes from above, from God Himself.”

The cardinal pointed out that peace is something lived concretely in daily life, as Pope Francis often repeats, “a peace in the midst of tribulations”. This is why the peace promised by Jesus is not the as the world gives but as He gives.

Citing Pope Francis again, who said that the world often “anaesthetizes us so that we do not see another reality of life, which is the cross,” the Vatican Secretary of State said that the peace that God offers us goes beyond merely earthly expectations. “It is not the fruit of a simple compromise, but a new reality, which involves all the dimensions of life, even the mysterious ones of the cross and the inevitable sufferings of our earthly pilgrimage. For this reason, he said, Christian faith teaches us that, “a peace without the cross is not the peace of Jesus”.

Educating to love and build peace
Cardinal Parolin also recalled St. Pope Paul VI, who in his message for the Church’s first “World Day of Peace” in 1968, cited St. John XXIII saying, “We must always speak of peace. The world must be educated to love peace, to build it up and defend it.” “Against the resurgent preludes to war […]we must arouse in the men of our time and of future generations the sense and love of peace founded upon truth, justice, freedom and love.”

The Vatican secretary of State urged all to implore God for the grace to make peace an authentic mission in today’s world, trusting in the mysterious power of Christ’s cross and resurrection.

“With God’s grace,” he said, “the path of forgiveness becomes possible, the choice of fraternity among peoples becomes a concrete fact, peace becomes a shared horizon even in the diversity of those who make up the international community.”

LOOKING BACK: HOLY SEE NUNCIO TO KOREA, THE TRUMP VISIT, THE CHURCH IN KOREA

NUNCIO IN KOREA: SINGAPORE SUMMIT IS TRULY HISTORIC

The Apostolic Nuncio to Korea Archbishop Alfred Xuereb comments on the outcome of the summit.

The Apostolic Nuncio to Korea and Mongolia, Archbishop Alfred Xuereb hailed Tuesday’s “truly historic” summit between the US President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. He said the Church is “full of hope and confidence” but warned, “we’re still at the beginning of a long process.”

Long and arduous road

Speaking from Seoul in an interview with Vatican News, Archbishop Xuereb said that the Korean people and the local Church had been anxiously awaiting “these truly historic events.” He described the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as “marking an important page at the beginning of a long and arduous road” (towards peace).

At the same time, said Archbishop Xuereb, “we are hopeful because this beginning was very positive, very good” and we’ve moved from rhetoric and words like “fire and fury” and “the complete devastation of North Korea” to more conciliatory words that speak about peace.

Novena for peace

Saying the Church in Korea is living these events “with great faith,” the Nuncio described how the Catholic Cathedral in Seoul has been holding special prayers for peace and reconciliation every Tuesday. He also said the Catholic Bishops of Korea have proposed a novena from the 17th to the 25th of June to pray for peace, reconciliation and unity on the Korean peninsula.

In the wake of this historic summit and the more conciliatory climate engendered by it, Archbishop Xuereb said the Church prays for the evangelization of North Korea.
“The Holy See wishes to offer its support to any initiative in favour of dialogue and reconciliation and also take advantage of this to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to North Korea,” he said. (https://joansrome.wordpress.com/2018/06/12/nuncio-in-korea-singapore-summit-is-truly-historic-church-in-korea-launches-novena-for-peace-on-korean-peninsula/)

CHURCH IN KOREA LAUNCHES NOVENA FOR PEACE ON KOREAN PENINSULA

The Catholic Church in Korea has proposed a novena for peace and reconciliation on the Korean peninsula as a series of summits and declarations mark the way for new diplomatic relationships between the two Koreas and with the United States.
By Linda Bordoni (vaticannews June 12, 2018))

The Catholic Church in Korea has proposed a novena from 17 to 25 June to pray for peace, reconciliation and unity on the Korean peninsula.

As leaders of the United States and North Korea held an historic Summit in Singapore on June 12, the Korean Church called for a novena of prayer and organized a conference for reconciliation and unity between the two Koreas who technically are still at war since the Korean Armistice Agreement signed in 1953.

Singapore Summit

After the Singapore Summit, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un signed a “comprehensive” document, promising a new relationship between the nations and committing North Korea to work towards “the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

Just over a month ago the leaders of North and South Korea, Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un signed an agreement in which they agreed to pursue talks on a peace treaty as well as denuclearization.

Panmunjom Agreement

In the 27 April Panmunjom Agreement, the two leaders committed to bring a swift end to the Cold War relic of longstanding division and confrontation, to boldly approach a new era of national reconciliation, peace and prosperity, and to improve and cultivate inter-Korean relations in a more active manner.

The Catholic Bishops of Korea have indicated a different prayer intention for each day: For healing following the separation of the Korean people; for families who have been separated by the Korean war; for the brothers and sisters who live in the North; for refugees from the North who currently live in the South; for politicians of the North and the South; for the evangelization of the North; for the promotion of exchange and dialogue between South and North; for true reconciliation between the two nations; for the peaceful reunification of the peninsula.

A Conference on the future of the Korean peninsula

The Bishops are also promoting a Conference on 21 June to take place at the Major Seminary of the Archdiocese of Daegu. Dedicated to a new future of the Korean peninsula thanks to fruitful exchanges between South and North, the event foresees the participation of the Bishops of Uijeongbu and Daegu as well as a panel of experts.