USCCB FALL MEETING: DAY ONE, SACKCLOTH, ASHES AND A MAJOR SHOCK – ARCHBISHOP VIGANO TO U.S. BISHOPS. YOU HAVE A SACRED MANDATE – POPE FRANCIS ON EIGHTH COMMANDMENT: GOSSIP KILLS, GOD IS TRUTH

The following column was prepared yesterday but my computer died – or was in a comatose state – before I finished writing and editing so could not post it. All is well today, at least so it seems, so here is the news from November 13 and a bit on today’s general audience with Pope Francis.

Among the offerings I had for yesterday was a penetrating piece by the Register’s Matthew Bunson on the request by the Vatican that the USCCB, as they meet in their fall assembly, delay any vote on further action in the clerical sex abuse issue, especially their plan to propose standards of conduct for bishops and how bishops might be disciplined or punished if in violation of those standards. This was to be the centerpiece of the November meeting. The Vatican asked that the bishops delay these proposals until the February 2019 meeting that Pope has called for in Rome for all the heads of Episcopal conferences throughout the world to address the abuse scandal

Two interesting pieces of news from November 13 from the Holy See Press Office

1. The Pope named Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta as adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, while remaining archbishop of Malta. For years he worked at the CDF before becoming an archbishop and he has been the Pope’s point man on important cases regarding clerical sex abuse. You might recall that Francis sent Scicluna earlier this year to Chile to investigate allegations of clerical sex abuse. The Pope had called the allegations ‘calumny’ but when Scicluna presented a massive report backing those who were abused, the Holy Father, in all humility, did an about-face, saying he was wrong and also “part of the problem.” Chile’s bishops came to Rome for a meeting and resigned en masse but the Pope has so far only accepted a small number of those resignations.

2. The Vatican announced today that Pope Francis, welcoming the invitation of His Majesty King Mohammed VI and of the (nation’s) bishops will undertake a trip to Morocco on March 30-31, 2019, visiting the cities of Rabat and Casablanca. The program will be published in due time

USCCB FALL MEETING: DAY ONE, SACKCLOTH, ASHES AND A MAJOR SHOCK

Matthew E. Bunson (National Catholic Register)
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opened its Fall Assembly in Baltimore Monday with an agenda of prayer and deliberations on dealing with bishop accountability in the face of the scandal surrounding former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. The agenda lasted only a few minutes before being upended by the announcement that no votes would be taken on several key items of reform at the request of the Holy See.

The decision by the Holy See – specifically the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops under its prefect Cardinal Marc Ouellet – asked the bishops not to vote on a new “Code of Conduct” for bishops and the creation of a lay-led board to investigate accusations of misconduct against bishops. The news came as a complete surprise to virtually all of the bishops in attendance, even as it raises significant questions about the prospects for finding solutions to the clergy sex abuse crisis and the McCarrick scandal and signals a blunt rejection of the U.S. bishops.

Some might even go so far as to describe the Vatican’s decision and its timing a deliberate act of humiliation of the U.S. bishops at a time when they are trying in good faith to grapple with the greatest crisis in the history of American Catholicism.
“Let us begin by taking those concerns to prayer.”

The U.S. bishops were only a few minutes into their morning session when the conference’s president, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, gave the news to his disbelieving brother bishops. The decision, he told them, was at “the insistence of the Holy See” and had been delivered to him only the night before the start of the fall meeting.

The surprise and anger were palpable in the room in the Marriott hotel in Baltimore, and Cardinal DiNardo himself went on to express his own disappointment.

“Brothers,” he said, “I am sure that you have concerns about this, as I do myself. Let us begin by taking those concerns to prayer.” In an address to the conference that had to be altered by the shocking news, Cardinal DiNardo stressed, “We remain committed to the program of episcopal accountability. Votes will not take place, but we will move forward.”

He again apologized to the victims of abuse and pledged to go forward.
In a news conference just a few hours later, he again urged Catholics to understand there is no lessening of their resolve.

“We have accepted these events [of the Holy See request],” he said, “we’ll keep pushing and moving until we get to a point until it becomes action. We are not happy.”

He explained further that the demand of the Holy See had come in the form of a letter from the Congregation for Bishops. The stated reason, the cardinal explained, was that the Holy See desired all votes on new measures related to the crisis be delayed until after the February meeting in Rome that Francis has called. That gathering will bring together the presidents of the world’s episcopal conferences to discuss the global sex-abuse crisis.

While the stated reasons are defensible enough, the request short-circuited months of preparations by the officials of the U.S. bishops’ conference and the genuine desire of the bishops in Baltimore to take highly anticipated concrete steps both to make progress in the crisis but also to try and regain some of the credibility that had been lost in a summer of scandals, attorneys general reports and simmering anger among the faithful over disgraced Archbishop McCarrick. The shocking events also completely overshadowed what was supposed to be one of those steps in restoring credibility: a day of prayer and penance.

The original plan was to devote most of the first day to prayer and to hearing from abuse victims, as well as reflections on the Book of Daniel, Chapter 9, on sackcloth and ashes, and the great reformer St. Charles Borromeo who was willing to face assassination to bring authentic renewal to his archdiocese of Milan in the 16th century.

The day of prayer, penance and adoration followed by deliberations and votes was potentially doubly significant.

First, it would have anchored the subsequent deliberations in a proper spiritual context, tying the important reality of institutional reform to the need for a corresponding authentic spiritual reform. Second, it would have served as a first step toward the planned longer and presumably deeper reflection, prayer and penance in January that will take place at Mundelein Seminary in Chicago.
Francis and Synodality

The notion of prayer had one additional facet. During their September meeting with Francis, Cardinal DiNardo and Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, the vice president of the USCCB, expressed their desire for the Holy See to launch a full investigation into the McCarrick scandal.

In reply, Francis encouraged them to cancel the fall assembly and have prayer and penance. The bishops took to heart the Pope’s suggestion but then also pushed ahead with the debate and vote on the plans to deal with the crisis. It was a compromise with the Pope’s recommendation, a down payment on the week of prayer in Chicago in January and a first step of offering the Catholic faithful a tangible set of proposals for the future.

The vote itself would have benefited from the credibility of action. They had a plan entering the assembly, and while it might not have been perfect and perhaps might not have passed the critical eye of the Congregations for Bishops and the Congregration for the Doctrine of the Faith, it was something the bishops could point to as a first concrete and transparent step.

Francis, however, wanted days of prayer and no votes. He apparently got his wish. But after asking frustrated and angry Catholics — many victims included — to wait for years for the bishops to begin holding themselves accountable, the idea of waiting months longer might seem intolerable to many. The Congregation for Bishops saw potential problems with the bishops’ proposals and acted firmly but with also painful timing.

To the bishops, of course, there is the requirement of obedience to the Vicar of Christ. At the news conference Monday, Cardinal DiNardo and Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, Vermont, the outgoing head of the Bishops’ Committee on Communications, both emphasized the importance of obedience.

Bishop Coyne said in answer to a question on why not just vote anyway, “Bishops by our very nature are collegial. … We work in union with each other to come to a collegial place. So when the Holy See asks us to work in collegiality, that’s what we do.”

Cardinal DiNardo added, “We are Roman Catholic bishops in communion with our Holy Father in Rome and he has people in Vatican congregations, and we are responsible to him to be attentive. Given that attentiveness, of faith, when we receive this letter we respond.”

The demand of the Holy See and the response of the bishops also exemplified another major issue, one that also emerged out of seeming nowhere during the Synod on Youth: synodality. From the closing days of the synod to the first day of the bishops’ meeting, the definition of synodality has been debated and interpreted.
In his morning address, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, taught, “Pope Francis asks us to be a synodal and humble Church. A Church that listens. We need to listen once more to the voice of Christ.”

Synodality means, as the nuncio stressed, listening. It has also been described as a journeying together. Was what happened on Day One in Baltimore a moment of synodality or were the U.S. bishops treated to the sheer raw exercise of power?
When asked if he saw the action of the Holy See as synodal, Cardinal DiNardo described it as “quizzical,” theorizing that the Congregation for Bishops might have considered the U.S. bishops to have been too hasty in crafting their proposal.
“I’m wondering if they could turn the synodality back on us,” he added. “My first reaction was, ‘This didn’t seem so synodical.’ But maybe the Americans weren’t acting so synodically either. But it was quizzical to me, when I saw it.”

Over the next days, the bishops will discuss the most important approaches to the crisis, and while there may not be a vote, the bishops will likely have plenty to say. Look for a final statement and a series of resolutions to salvage something from the disastrous news that began their journey together in Baltimore. Will the road ahead continue to be a long and tortured one? Will Pope Francis be listening?
Pray for our bishops and pray for our Holy Father.

ARCHBISHOP VIGANO TO U.S. BISHOPS. YOU HAVE A SACRED MANDATE

November 13, 2018 Tuesday
Dear Brothers Bishops in the US,
I am writing to remind you of the sacred mandate you were given on the day of your episcopal ordination: to lead the flock to Christ. Meditate on Proverbs 9:10: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom! Do not behave like frightened sheep, but as courageous shepherds. Do not be afraid of standing up and doing the right thing for the victims, for the faithful and for your own salvation. The Lord will render to every one of us according to our actions and omissions.
I am fasting and praying for you.
+Arch. Carlo Maria Viganò Your former Apostolic Nuncio
November 13, 2018 Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini

POPE FRANCIS ON EIGHTH COMMANDMENT: GOSSIP KILLS, GOD IS TRUTH

In his continuing catechesis on the Ten Commandments, the Pope during his General Audience reflects on the eighth commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour”.

In his Catechesis devoted to the eighth commandment, Pope Francis told pilgrims in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday that Christians are called to be “truthful not only in our words but in our entire way of acting towards others.” Speaking at his weekly General Audience, the Pope said that, “our ultimate model in this regard is Jesus himself. He is the truth in person who, at his trial before Pilate, revealed that he came into this world to testify to the truth.”

Where there is a lie there is no love

When a person is not communicating authentically, underlined the Pontiff, it is a serious matter because it inhibits relationships and therefore inhibits love. “Where there is a lie, he continued, there is no love. ”

Beware of Gossip

Gossiping, Pope Francis pointed out, kills. It kills, he explained, “because the tongue kills, like a knife.” Be careful, the Pope added, the gossip “is a terrorist because he or she throws a bomb and leaves.” “Christians are not exceptional men and women, said the Pope, “we are, however, children of our heavenly Father, who is good and does not disappoint us, and places in our hearts the love for our brothers and sisters.”

God is truth

“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour” he stressed, means living as children of God, acting in accordance with his will and trusting in him. “It bids us live this new life to the full, and thus to bear true witness to God’s saving love, made incarnate in the humanity of Christ our Lord. “I trust God”, concluded Pope Francis, “ this is the great truth.”

Here is the official English language summary of the Pope’s catechesis at the General Audience on 14th of November 2018:

Dear brothers and sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the Ten Commandments, we now turn to the eighth commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbour”. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that this commandment “forbids misrepresenting the truth in our relations with others” (No. 2464). We are called to be truthful not only in our words but in our entire way of acting towards others. Our ultimate model in this regard is Jesus himself. He is the truth in person (cf. Jn 14:6), who, at his trial before Pilate, revealed that he came into this world to testify to the truth (cf. Jn 18:37). In the mystery of his life, death and resurrection, he disclosed the deepest meaning of our life on earth, and invited us to share in his divine life. His gift of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, enables us to become adoptive sons and daughters of our heavenly Father and to dwell in his love as brothers and sisters. The eighth commandment bids us live this new life to the full, and thus to bear true witness to God’s saving love, made incarnate in the humanity of Christ our Lord.

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THE SYNOD: GETTING THE NEWS OUT – OR KEEPING IT IN? – CARDINAL DINARDO WELCOMES VATICAN INQUIRY INTO MCCARRICK FILES

As you know from reading this column both Saturday and Sunday, it was a big weekend here! The synod did not make headlines but two Vatican communiqués did: Saturday’s Holy See Press Office statement on ex-cardinal McCarrick and Sunday’s Open letter by Cardinal. Marc Ouellet on recent accusations against the Holy See. They are still – and will be for a while – the focus of news stories around the world.

A big news story today is about the news – read on…

THE SYNOD: GETTING THE NEWS OUT – OR KEEPING IT IN?

The Vatican Information Service (VIS) was instituted because of a desire of Pope John Paul to be closer in touch with the Church’s bishops and nuncios who had been telling him for years that communications with the Vatican, the Holy See were sporadic at best.

We are talking decades before the advent of today’s communications media – Internet, email, cell phones, social media, Facebook live, etc. Even the fax machine was relatively new in the 1980s, and certainly was uncommon in most homes.

When, sometime in the late 1980s, John Paul asked Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who headed the Holy See Press Office from 1984 to 2006, how the Vatican could better communicate with the bishops and nuncios around the world, Navarro-Valls said that, although telegrams and faxes were the best options at the time, technology was always developing and he wanted the Vatican to be on the cutting edge of whatever was new. The Vatican’s first webpage appeared in 1996 so the Church did get in on the ground floor of cutting edge technology.

Holy See diplomats had the distinct advantage for years – and still do – of receiving news from Rome in a very timely fashion in diplomatic pouches – and getting back to Rome in the same manner.

When the 1990 synod on “The Formation of Priests in Circumstances of the Present Day” took place, VIS was opening its offices, hiring staff, etc., and therefore did not cover it. I had begun to work at VIS in August 1990 and was greatly honored in the new year with an invitation to help translate into English parts of Pope John Paul’s Apostolic Exhortation on that synod, “Pastores dabo vobis.”

The years I was at VIS we covered the following nine synods, several of which were continental and had been called by Pope John Paul as a lead up to the Jubilee Year 2000: 1991 Europe, 1994 The Consecrated Life and its Role in the Church and the World, 1994 Africa, 1995 Lebanon, 1997 America, 1998 Asia, 1999 Oceania, 1999 Europe II, 2001 The Bishop: Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World.

Whenever we heard an announcement that a synod was being planned for such-and-such a year, we groaned. It was an enormous amount of work, though we fully realized that the staff of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops probably worked double the hours we did, preparing the synod and then being present in the synod hall almost around the clock while it was underway.

The press center was set up temporarily in the Synod Hall in a spot known as the “fungo”, the mushroom.

All participants in a synod who were to give a talk, were asked to hand that talk – preferably a summary of the short intervention – over to synod officials who then turned those summaries over to translators and to all of us at VIS as VIS transmitted its daily new service in four languages: English, Spanish, French and Italian.

For example, a bishop from France would give his French-language summary to synod officials, that summary was translated into other languages and then the original and the translations were placed in color-coded (for language) synod daily bulletins and made available to every member of the press corps, permanent or temporary, who was accredited by the Holy See Press Office to the synod.

Thus, French-speaking journalists would pick up the blue-color French synod bulletin to know what their prelates and those from other parts of the world were saying on the synod floor. The Spanish bulletins might be yellow, English green and so on for other languages.

The media was usually only allowed in the synod hall at the start of morning and afternoon sessions when the synod participants opened with a prayer. Media did not remain during the work session, although Vatican staff from VIS, the press office, and Vatican radio were usually present.

This system meant that all members of the media, in addition to any private interviews they had done or meetings they held with synod participants, had a very good overview of what was happening and what was being said in the synod hall. They knew what was being said and debated on certain topics relevant to the synod theme

In addition to the synod’s language bulletins, journalists keep abreast of news via press office conferences and, almost on a daily basis, briefings in different languages for smaller groups, ie, an English-speaking prelate for English media, etc.

That useful and worthwhile system, however onerous it was for all of us involved – nonstop work, skipped meals, late hours, etc – has been relegated to the past, given what I’m hearing and reading about the current synod.

You may have seen Ed Pentin’s tweet: Information Sec Fr. Spadaro justified not giving interventions in detail by saying #synod2018 is a “place of discernment” so delegates “must know what they say will remain in the hall.” If everything “were repeated externally, it would limit freedom, as it’s a spiritual context”

Hello! Several hundred people in the same room at once and not a single word will get out! We won’t find out what’s happening unless you want us to know?!

Delegates who want their message to get out will post on Facebook or a blog, tweet it and/or give a radio or print or TV interview.

If delegates want the world to know what is really happening in the synod hall and during coffee breaks, they will tell us.

If their want their intervention not to be published or publicized, that too will probably happen.

There cannot be a repeat of the 2014-2015 synods where enough people inside and outside the synod hall knew what was happening, knew and reported what people were saying so that when a draft of the final message came out and it did not reflect what the majority of synod fathers had said, all you-know-what broke loose!

I suggested a few sites the other day to follow for synod news. I included vaticannewsa.va and http://www.synod2018.va but now realize they in no way reflect what is happening in the hall where prelates and experts and auditors from around the world gather twice daily and scores of speeches are given.

Vaticannews, at least so far, has given only a handful of highlights – the Holy Father, the head of the Synod of Bishops and a few prelates. Iit does offer the possibility each day of clicking onto the link to the daily press conference so that viewers can listen in to the reports of Synod Fathers – all very helpful if you know several languages.

http://www.synod2018.va is basically a fact sheet on the synod. The section called “Press Review” highlights articles from vaticannews.va in different languages as well as articles from a few independent media organizations. It does not feature the speeches of Synod Fathers.

I recommend now, more than ever, following synod participants on their blogs or their Twitter accounts.

It will be interesting in coming days and weeks (the synod ends October 28) to see the news as it comes from official Vatican sites and what we hear from those participating. Will they be telling the same story?

CARDINAL DINARDO WELCOMES VATICAN INQUIRY INTO MCCARRICK FILES

Vatican City, Oct 8, 2018 / 03:10 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The president of the U.S. bishops conference said Sunday he welcomes the Vatican’s announcement of a further investigation into files on Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, praising the pope’s steps to end sexual assault.

“On behalf of my brother bishops in the United States, I welcome the statement of October 6 from the Holy See which outlines additional steps Pope Francis is taking to ensure the faithful are protected from the evil of sexual assault,” Cardinal Daniel DiNardo said.

DiNardo’s Oct. 7 statement was a response to the Vatican’s announcement that it would review its files pertaining to allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of McCarrick, who has been accused in recent months of serially sexually abusing two teenage boys, and of sexually coercing and assaulting priests and seminarians during decades of ministry as a bishop.

The Archdiocese of New York has already conducted a formal investigation into one allegation that McCarrick serially sexually abused a teenage boy in the 1970s, and announced in June that the allegation had been found credible.

The Vatican said that Pope Francis has decided to combine the information from that investigation “with a further thorough study of the entire documentation present in the Archives of the Dicasteries and Offices of the Holy See regarding the former Cardinal McCarrick.”

“The Holy Father’s ‘pressing invitation to unite forces to fight the grave scourge of abuse within the Church and beyond’ has been and will continue to be diligently accepted by the bishops of the United States,” DiNardo said.

He stated that the truth is what will ensure the “terrible sins of the past are not repeated” and said the courage of abuse survivors in bringing sexual abuse to light must be matched by the courage of pastors “to respond in justice.”

“Pope Francis echoes the call of Christ to be with survivors in their time of need. Let us respond simply. ‘Yes, Lord!’” he continued.

The statement also said the bishops offer their prayers and solidarity for the pope at this time and urged everyone in the Church, “particularly the bishops,” to reaffirm communion with Pope Francis, “who is the visible guarantor of the communion of the Catholic Church.”

“We unite in prayer and service with His Holiness as he leads the Church to meet our brothers and sisters in their suffering. With a pastor’s heart, the Holy Father calls us to a path of healing,” the statement concluded.

DiNardo, who is Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, also met with Pope Francis and other Vatican offices Oct. 8, ahead of the U.S. bishops’ fall general assembly next month.

USCCB Vice-President Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles and Msgr. Brian Bransfield, USCCB general secretary, were also present at that meeting. They were joined by the conference’s associate general secretary Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill.

The meeting took place just one month after Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop Gomez, Msgr. Bransfield, and Cardinal Séan O’Malley of Boston, met with Pope Francis to discuss the ongoing sexual abuse scandals in the Church in the U.S.

U.S. BISHOPS RESOLVE TO ADDRESS “MORAL CATASTROPHE”

U.S. BISHOPS RESOLVE TO ADDRESS “MORAL CATASTROPHE”

PRESIDENT OF U.S. BISHOPS’ CONFERENCE ANNOUNCES EFFORT THAT WILL INVOLVE LAITY, EXPERTS, AND THE VATICAN AS U.S. BISHOPS RESOLVE TO ADDRESS “MORAL CATASTROPHE”

August 16, 2018

WASHINGTON— Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), has issued the following statement after a series of meetings with members of the USCCB’s Executive Committee and other bishops. The following statement includes three goals and three principles, along with initial steps of a plan that will involve laity, experts, and the Vatican. A more developed plan will be presented to the full body of bishops at their general assembly meeting in Baltimore in November.

Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

“Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Two weeks ago, I shared with you my sadness, anger, and shame over the recent revelations concerning Archbishop Theodore McCarrick. Those sentiments continue and are deepened in light of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report. We are faced with a spiritual crisis that requires not only spiritual conversion, but practical changes to avoid repeating the sins and failures of the past that are so evident in the recent report. Earlier this week, the USCCB Executive Committee met again and established an outline of these necessary changes.

The Executive Committee has established three goals: (1) an investigation into the questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick; (2) an opening of new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops; and (3) advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints. These goals will be pursued according to three criteria: proper independence, sufficient authority, and substantial leadership by laity.

We have already begun to develop a concrete plan for accomplishing these goals, relying upon consultation with experts, laity, and clergy, as well as the Vatican. We will present this plan to the full body of bishops in our November meeting. In addition, I will travel to Rome to present these goals and criteria to the Holy See, and to urge further concrete steps based on them.

The overarching goal in all of this is stronger protections against predators in the Church and anyone who would conceal them, protections that will hold bishops to the highest standards of transparency and accountability.

Allow me to briefly elaborate on the goals and criteria that we have identified.
TO CONTINUE, CLICK HERE: http://www.usccb.org/news/2018/18-139.cfm

MY HEART IS BROKEN

MY HEART IS BROKEN

Journalists and writers are often called “wordsmiths” as words are the tools we use to forge images, ideas, opinions and feelings, and to tell stories. Well, today, reading the report from Pennsylvania on clerical sex abuse cases, I have run out of words.

Appalled, saddened, disillusioned, angered – these words don’t even start to say what I feel. How many priests have I known in my lifetime? Only God knows – and I’m sure He is at a loss for words as well.

I think of pastors I’ve known in my life, some well, others less so. I think of hospital and university and military chaplains I’ve known over the decades. University professors. Employees of the Roman Curia. Seminary professors. Seminary rectors. Employees of dioceses around the world. Priests who were friends of friends who suggested they look up Joan when they came to Rome for a visit or retreat or pilgrimage or to study. And so on….

I always smile when I hear from past or present priest friends. I smile because I think of our visits, our meals, our conversations, the laughter, the shared love for the Church and for our various ministries (I believe what I do is a form of ministry), our joy in the faith that we hope somehow we are transmitting to people and maybe transforming their lives.

I smile when I think of the good men I’ve known, those who accepted God’s call to become His shepherds, to be “in persona Christi” for us, to act in the Lord’s behalf for us.

I cannot smile today, even on this glorious feast of the Assumption. My heart is broken at the thought of even one priest on this planet breaking his vows and abusing another human being in such a terrible, inhuman way. One priest in the history of the Church found guilty of abuse would always be one priest too many! My heart is broken by the sheer numbers revealed in the Pennsylvania report. My heart is more than broken for the victims!

My heart also breaks as I think of my priest friends and their own feelings as they read this report. I cannot even imagine the depth of their sadness or anger. Will they be rejected – or feel rejected – by the faithful? Will a Roman collar no longer inspire respect and trust? I pray not!

I had written a totally different column to celebrate today’s solemnity, but it would appear almost frivolous in the wake of the news of the Pennsylvania clerical sex abuse report.

I think it’s time for a rosary………

https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2018-08/usccb-pennsylvania-grand-jury-sexual-abuse.html

POPE FRANCIS TO TRAVEL TO MYANMAR AND BANGLADESH – IN BRIEF

PAPAL TWEETS:

Sunday, August 27, feast of St. Monica, mother of St. Augustine; Today how many mothers shed tears, like St Monica, so that their children will return to Christ! Do not lose hope in God’s grace!

Monday, August 28, feast of St. Augustine the once errant son of St. Monica who became a saint: “You made us unto Yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you”. (St Augustine’s “Confessions”)

POPE FRANCIS TO TRAVEL TO MYANMAR AND BANGLADESH

The Holy See Press Office made the following announcement this morning:

“Welcoming the invitation of the respective heads of state and bishops, His Holiness Pope Francis will make an Apostolic Visit to Myanmar from 27 to 30 November 2017, visiting the cities of Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw, and to Bangladesh from 30 November to 2 December 2017, visiting the city of Dhaka. The program for the Visit will be published shortly.

On Sunday, in fact, at the Angelus, Pope Francis offered prayers for the victims of massive flooding in Bangladesh, Nepal, and northern India over the past several days: “I express my closeness to all the [affected] populations, and pray for the victims and for all who suffer because of this calamity.”

Annual monsoon rains have caused the flooding, which has claimed the lives of more than 1,200 people, and disrupted the lives of some 24 million others. Rescue and relief efforts are ongoing, with international aid agencies reporting thousands of villages cut off. People in remote and isolated areas have been without food and clean water for many days. (Vatican Radio)

Also Monday, the Vatican released the official logos for Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Myanmar logo

The logo for his visit to Myanmar depicts Pope Francis releasing a white dove from within a heart drawn in the colors of Myanmar’s flag: yellow, green, and red. An outline of Myanmar’s landmass sits beside the Pope within the heart, while the motto for his journey is shown above: “Love & Peace”.

Bangladesh logo

The logo for Pope Francis’ visit to Bangladesh has colored streamers in the shape of a dove, with a cross raised over a water lily (Bangladesh’s national flower) within it. Above, the official motto for the Apostolic Journey, “Harmony and Peace”, is written in red.

IN BRIEF

CARDINAL DANIEL DINARDO, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, and president of the U..S Conference of Catholic Bishops, released a statement regard the Texas floods on the website of the USCCB: “Please join me and pray for all of those affected by the storm and in need of assistance during this natural disaster,” the cardinal said Aug. 26. “In addition, I ask the faithful to also keep the emergency response personnel and volunteers in your prayers. For those residing in our Archdiocese, in Texas and along the Gulf Coast, be safe and may God have mercy on those affected by Hurricane Harvey.” Sunday he said: “Your safety and the safety of your loved ones is paramount during this emergency. Please do not be concerned about attending Mass today, and heed the warnings of civil authorities to shelter in place. More here: http://www.usccb.org/news/2017/17-150.cfm

CARDINAL SECRETARY OF STATE PIETRO PAROLIN, this evening at 6:30 in the millennia-old St. Peter’s Basilica in Ciel d’Oro di Pavia, northern Italy, celebrated Mass on the tomb of St. Augustine on the liturgical memory of the saint. The remains of St. Augustine have been in Pavia since the 8th century. In a note published by the Pavia Committee for St. Augustine, the cardinal said: “I have a great love and admiration for St. Augustine. I consider him a friend, a teacher, a model. The pages of his writings that move me and fill me with fire are when he speaks of Jesus, of eternal life and the intense desire to attain it, of prayer, of Christian virtues and above all of love and humility. Relative to my work at the Holy See, the pages that greatly interest me are where St. Augustine enters into dialogue with the society of his time, and gives the Church the task of promoting harmony and solidarity, that is, to make herself build the City of God within earthly cities.”

 

POPE FRANCIS SENDS VIDEO MESSAGE TO U.S. BISHOPS

POPE FRANCIS SENDS VIDEO MESSAGE TO U.S. BISHOPS

Video Message of His Holiness Pope Francis To the General Assembly of the USCCB 14-17 November 2016

Dear Brother Bishops,

I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak to you.  Just a year ago, I was with you during my Pastoral Visit to the United States.  There I was impressed by the vitality and diversity of the Catholic community.  Throughout its history, the Church in your country has welcomed and integrated new waves of immigrants.  In the rich variety of their languages and cultural traditions, they have shaped the changing face of the American Church.

In this context, I would commend the coming Fifth National Hispanic Pastoral Encuentro.  The celebration of this Fifth Encuentro will begin in your Dioceses in this coming January and conclude with a national celebration in September 2018.

In continuity with its predecessors, the Encuentro seeks to acknowledge and value the specific gifts that Hispanic Catholics have offered, and continue to offer, to the Church in your country.  But it is more than that.  It is part of a greater process of renewal and missionary outreach, one to which all of your local Churches are called.

Our great challenge is to create a culture of encounter, which encourages individuals and groups to share the richness of their traditions and experiences, to break down walls and to build bridges.  The Church in America, as elsewhere, is called to “go out” from its comfort zone and to be a leaven of communion.  Communion among ourselves, with our fellow Christians, and with all who seek a future of hope.

We need to become ever more fully a community of missionary disciples, filled with love of the Lord Jesus and enthusiasm for the spread of the Gospel.  The Christian community is meant to be a sign and prophecy of God’s plan for the entire human family.  We are called to be bearers of good news for a society gripped by disconcerting social, cultural and spiritual shifts, and increasing polarization.

It is my hope that the Church in your country, at every level, will accompany the Encuentro with its own reflection and pastoral discernment. In a particular way, I ask you to consider how your local Churches can best respond to the growing presence, gifts and potential of the Hispanic community.  Mindful of the contribution that the Hispanic community makes to the life of the nation, I pray that the Encuentro will bear fruit for the renewal of American society and for the Church’s apostolate in the United States.

With gratitude to all engaged in the preparation of the Fifth Encuentro, I assure you of my prayers for this important initiative of your Conference.  Commending you, and the clergy, religious and lay faithful of your local Churches, to the prayers of Mary Immaculate, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and peace in the Lord.

For Spanish text, click here: http://www.news.va/es/news/video-mensaje-del-papa-a-la-asamblea-general-de-la

2018 SYNOD THEME: YOUNG PEOPLE, FAITH AND VOCATIONAL DISCERNMENT – U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: “POPE FRANCIS IS A MAN OF PEACE, OF VISION”

What a week this has been so far! The three-day weekend papal trip to Georgia and Azerbaijan, Pope Francis’ unannounced visit Tuesday to the towns in central Italy struck by the earthquake last August 24, and three big moments on Wednesday: The first took place at 9 a.m., before the general audience, when Pope Francis received representatives of the Vodafone Foundation. The Vodafone CEO presented the Pope with an initiative called “Instant Schools for Africa,” which seeks to offer online access to important educational resources for a great number of African youth, some of whom are living in refugee camps.

The general audience followed that meeting, with the papal catechesis centered on the Holy Father’s apostolic trip to the Caucasus region. Wednesday afternoon, Francis addressed the First Global Sports and Faith Conference and, that evening, celebrated vespers in the Rome church of St. Gregory al Celio with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to mark the 50th anniversary of Anglican-Catholic relations. The Holy Father recalled the historic meeting 50 years ago between Blessed Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey, a meeting that led to a gradual rapprochement based on theological dialogue. During the liturgy the two leaders signed a common declaration and sent out on mission together 19 pairs of Anglican and Catholic bishops.

The big news today was the Vatican’s announcement of the theme of the October 2018 Synod of Bishops – see that story below. Also, please find a Vatican Radio interview with outgoing U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon who is in Rome for the Sports and Faith Conference. That meeting, now in its second day, was organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture and supported by the U.N. and the International Olympic Committee.

Pope Francis also met with Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, president of the USCCB, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Msgr. Brian Bransfield, secretary general, and Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill, adjunct secretary general.

2018 SYNOD THEME: YOUNG PEOPLE, FAITH AND VOCATIONAL DISCERNMENT

The Vatican press office announced today that, “Pope Francis, after consulting, as is customary, with Bishops Conferences, the Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris and the Union of Superior Generals, in addition to having listened to the suggestions of the Synod Fathers from the last Synod and the opinion of the XIV Ordinary Council, has decided that the XV General Assembly of the Ordinary Synod of Bishops will take place in October 2018 on the them, ‘Young people, faith and vocational discernment’.”

The press office statement described the theme “as an expression of the Church’s pastoral concern for the young, in continuity with what emerged from the recent Synods on the family and the content of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. It intends to accompany young people along their existential journey towards maturity so that, through a process of discernment, they can discover their life plan and achieve it joyfully, opening themselves up to an encounter with God and humanity and actively taking part in the building of the Church and society.”

U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: “POPE FRANCIS IS A MAN OF PEACE, OF VISION”

Pope Francis met with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday before the start of the First Global Conference on Sport and Faith on the theme “Sport at the Service of Humanity.” The conference was organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture, the United Nations, and the International Olympic Committee.

After his meeting with Pope Francis, the Secretary General spoke to Vatican Radio’s Alessandro Gisotti.

BAN KI-MOON: I’m grateful to His Holiness Pope Francis, the Vatican, and also the International Olympic Committee for organizing this very meaningful event, where people can be inspired to promote peace and development through sports. Sports is a universal language. It transcends all the national barriers. It transcends all ethnicities and nationalities and whatever differences one may have. It can have instant power of mobilizing people’s energy, and also commitment for development.

“Togetherness, oneness, can easily be realized through sports. In that regard, the United Nations is very much committed. The UN General Assembly has designated April 6, every year, as the International Day of Sports for Development and Peace, and I have appointed a special envoy to promote peace and development through sport. The United Nations and the IOC have been building a very strong partnership; now the Vatican – the Holy See – is joining. The Vatican, IOC, and the United Nations can have a very strong driving force to promote peace and development through sports.”

ban-ki-moon

Question: How important has the role of Pope Francis been in promoting peace and reconciliation, in your opinion?

BAN KI-MOON: His Holiness Pope Francis is a man of peace; a man of vision. He is a man of more voice. It has been a great privilege and honor for me to work with him. For example, when world leaders adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, it was the Pope’s urging and appeal to world leaders: He urged world leaders to have a stronger and visionary commitment for the world – people and planet – so that they can live in peace and prosperity through partnership. And also, it was His Holiness who, through his encyclical on climate change, Common Home [Laudato si’] – he termed it: Our planet earth is our common home. We are all seven billion people, and all creatures should live together, and that has given much inspiration. Strong voice: so that the world leaders adopted climate change agreement in Paris last year. I expressed my deepest admiration and gratitude to His Holiness during my audience with him.

Question: Finally, sport is an eloquent example today of this possibility and opportunity of the Holy See and the United Nations to play a role together. Do you think even in the construction of a more human society – peace, reconciliation, human dignity –  that the Holy See and the United Nations, the Church and the United Nations, can work together?

BAN: The Holy See, the Vatican, and Christianity and other religions, they share common goals, visions, and values as the Charter of the United Nations: Peace, respect for humanity, and human rights. And also through sports we can promote sustainable development. In that regard, it is very important that the United Nations has been working very closely with the Holy See, and also a strong partnership with the IOC. The idea of having this Faith and Sports for Peace and Development all came from His Holiness, and also the United Nations and IOC. That is why this is unprecedented that the Secretary General of the United Nations, the IOC, and Holy See work together for common good.