It is so exciting here in Rome as we are just hours away from the start of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, an event announced on March 13, 2015, the second anniverary of Pope Francis’ election. You should see St. Peter’s Square: the chairs are up for tomorrow’s papal Mass, pilgrims are viewing the Christmas Tree and Nativity scene and security is all over the place – visible and invisible.
Tomorrow, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, is a holiday in Italy and countless numbers of people are taking four days off to celebrate, including the two-day weekend plus yesterday and tomorrow’s feast day. Many, including entire families with little children, have come to Rome for the Holy Year events.
Tomorrow’s agenda starts at 9:30 am with the papal Mass to open the Holy Year of Mercy, including the opening of St. Peter’s Holy Door, and continues in the afternoon with the traditional visit by the Holy Father to Pza. di Spagna where he will offer a floral homage to the statue of Mary Immaculate and say a prayer. EWTN will be carrying this ceremony and, of course the morning Jubilee Mass.
Tune in today (2pm ET) to At Home with Jim and Joy when I will bring you some updates on Jubilee preparations.
I am not sure what this page will offer you tomorrow. It is a holiday for Italy but not for the media. I will be busy in St. Peter’s Square and the Holy See Press Office and in the afternoon will do the TV commentary for Pope Francis’ visit to Pza. di Spagna. Tomorrow evening at 6, Rome time, there will be the recitation of the rosary in St. Peter’s Square at the statue of St. Peter: this will take place every night at that hour during the Holy Year.
If you are in the Eternal City tomorrow, come to St. Peter’s Square between 7 and 8 pm, Rome time, when there will be a light show on the facade and dome of St. Peter’s Basilica.
POPE LIGHTS ASSISI CHRISTMAS TREE FOR REFUGEES
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday evening lit – remotely from the Vatican – the Christmas tree and nativity scene in the lower piazza of the Basilica of St.Francis in Assisi.
The nativity scene has been built into a seven-meter boat used by migrants to travel from Tunisia to the Italian island of Lampedusa in 2014. The ceremony was attended by 31 refugees from Afghanistan, Cameroon, Nigeria and Syria being hosted by Caritas Assisi. Also present was an Italian naval officer who had helped in some of the many rescues of migrants off the coast of Sicily. In this photo, you see the refugees next to some of the people from Assisi: (photo AP)
The Italian State Railway and Italian Navy also distributed toys to families in need.
Here is Pope Francis’ message during the illumination:
“Watching that boat … Jesus is always with us, even in difficult times. How many brothers and sisters have drowned at sea! They are with the Lord now. But He came to give us hope, and we must take this hope. He came to tell us that He is stronger than death, that He is greater than any evil. He came to tell us he is merciful, all mercy; and this Christmas I invite you to open your hearts to mercy and forgiveness. But it is not easy to forgive these massacres. It’s not easy.
“I would like to thank [members of the] Coast Guard: the good men and women. I thank you, for you were the instrument of hope that brings us Jesus. You, among us, you have been sowers of hope, the hope of Jesus. Thank you, Antonio, you and all your teammates and all that this land of Italy has so generously received: the South of Italy is an example of solidarity for the whole world! For everyone who looks at the crib, they can say to Jesus: ‘But, I also have lent a hand because you are a sign of hope’.
“And to all refugees, I say a word, that of the prophet: Raise your head, the Lord is near. And with him is strength, salvation, hope. The heart, perhaps, [is] sorrowful, but the head [is] high in the hope of the Lord.”
TRIAL UNDERWAY IN VATILEAKS 2 CASE
Vatican City, 7 December 2015 (VIS) – The Holy See Press Office today issued the following communique: “This morning at 9.30, in the Vatican City State Tribunal, a further hearing was held in the criminal trial for the dissemination of confidential news and documents.
“The defendants were all present, accompanied by their respective lawyers (all five of whom are currently recognised as ‘private’ lawyers: E. Bellardini for Msgr. L.A. Vallejo Balda, L. Sgrò for F. I. Chaouqui, R.C. Baffioni for N. Maio, L. Musso for E. Fittipaldi and R. Palombi for G. Nuzzi).
“The College of Judges (President Prof. Giuseppe Dalla Torre, and the members Prof. Piero Antonio Bonnet, Prof. Paolo Papanti-Pellettier and Prof. Venerando Marano) heard the oral presentation from the defence, along with the objections and demands already submitted in writing prior to the established deadline (Saturday 5 December).
“With regard to each objection and demand submitted, the opinion of the Promoter of Justice represented by Prof. Milano and Prof. Zannotti was heard.
“The College therefore retired to the Counsel Chamber shortly before 10.30 for around one hour. Finally, it communicated its decisions, providing the proper detailed motivations. The hearing concluded before midday.
“The objection presented by Chaouqui’s defence regarded the presumed lack of jurisdiction of the Tribunal given that the events took place in Italy and were carried out by a person declared a ‘political refugee’ in Italy. The objection was rejected, and the College clarified that the current law attributes without doubt the jurisdiction of the Vatican City State Tribunal, and observed that Chaouqui, by appearing before the investigators and the Tribunal, had in practice recognised such jurisdiction.
“The demand presented by the Msgr. Vallejo Balda’s counsel for the defence for a psychological evaluation of the defendant was rejected. The Promoter of Justice explained that the Vatican legal system admits requests for a ‘psychiatric evaluation’ but not for a ‘psychological evaluation’, and that aspects of the personality and behaviour of the defendant can emerge adequately during the proceedings.
Click here to read the rest of this story: http://www.news.va/en/news/new-hearing-in-the-trial-for-dissemination-of-rese
FR. LOMBARDI ON VATILEAKS TRIAL, VATICAN LAW AND JUSTICE
The following note by Fr. Federico Lombardi, head of the Holy See Press Office, was published today. He addresses the question of the judges and lawyers at Vatican City State Tribunal, Vatican law and the trial of 5 people in the so-called Vatileaks 2 scandal:
In recent weeks, since the opening of the trial for the dissemination of reserved documents commonly known as “Vatileaks 2”, many observations and evaluations have been written regarding the judicial system of Vatican City State and in particular on the Tribunal where this trial and its related procedures are taking place. Since many of these observations are inappropriate, or at times entirely unjustified, it would appear opportune to offer some considerations enabling a clearer view and a more just evaluation of this fundamental aspect of the situation.
Firstly, although this should be self-evident, it is necessary to recall that Vatican City State has its own legal order, entirely autonomous and separate from the Italian legal system, and has its own judicial bodies for the various levels of judgement and the necessary legislation in terms of criminal matters and procedure.
Within this latter there exist all the procedural guarantees characteristic of the most advanced contemporary legal systems. Indeed, all the fundamental principles are established and fully implemented: an independent and impartial tribunal constituted by law, the presumption of innocence, the right to a technical defence (by private or ex officio legal representation), and the freedom of the judicial college to form an opinion on the basis of evidence in public hearing and in debate between the prosecution and the defence, leading to the issuance of a sentence able to be substantiated and with the possibility of being contested by appeal and ultimately annulled.
All those engaged in judicial roles, both investigators and judges, are selected via cooptation; they may not be recruited by way of a public selection procedure open to the citizens of the State, as normally occurs in other States. They are selected from among professionals of the highest level, with consolidated experience and a recognised reputation (as may be seen in their curricula vitae, which can be consulted via internet). Indeed, they are all professors in Italian universities.
With regard to the lawyers, a violation of the right to a defence has been hypothesised. In this respect it is necessary to avoid a basic mistake: the current Vatican legislation, applied by the legal authorities, is perfectly in line with procedural law in the majority of jurisdictions throughout the world, where a specific qualification is required for admission to practice in the courts; this is issued subject to certain prerequisites and the possession of specified qualifications. It is therefore unsurprising that a lawyer able to practice in Italy may not be able to do so in Vatican City State, just as he or she would not be able to practice in Germany or France. Arguments to the contrary would imply that a foreign defendant would be able to claim to be represented in Italy by a foreign private lawyer, which is not permitted. Such conditions do not constitute a limit imposed by the Vatican legal order, but rather a further confirmation of its autonomy and completeness. All lawyers are enrolled on an easily consulted professional register of lawyers with right of audience before the Vatican City State Tribunal. Ex officio or private lawyers may be selected from the professionals on this register.
These are lawyers qualified not only at the Tribunals of the Church and the Holy See, but also in the Italian courts, as they are all registered in the respective councils of the Order of Italian lawyers. In addition, they also possess a second degree in canon law and a further diploma conferred following a three-year specialist course at the Roman Rota. Therefore, they are professionals who, aside from being in authorised to practise in Italy, are also in possession of further knowledge rendering them eligible for practice in a jurisdiction in which a knowledge of canon law is necessary.
These are prerequisites necessary to guarantee the professionalism and competence of those who are entrusted with ensuring the proper conduct of a trial which, for various reasons, attracts broad attention.