“THE ABUSE OF CHILDREN IS WRONG ANYWHERE AND ANYTIME: THIS POINT IS NOT NEGOTIABLE” – DIGITAL PRESS KIT FOR THE MEETING ON THE PROTECTION OF MINORS

As I post this column, Pope Francis is attending the second of three days of meetings of the C9 Council of Cardinals who are his advisors. He usually attends both the morning and afternoon sessions but will preside, as previously scheduled, tomorrow’s weekly general audience.

Three of the original nine are no longer members: Cardinal George Pell, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz, and Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo. On December 12, 2018, the then papal spokesperson Greg Burke told journalists in a briefing that Pope Francis sent letters to each of them at the end of October to thank them for their service to the Council of Cardinals over the last five years.

No new members have been named.

“THE ABUSE OF CHILDREN IS WRONG ANYWHERE AND ANYTIME: THIS POINT IS NOT NEGOTIABLE”

Statement by Major Superiors of Religious Orders and Congregations prior to the Meeting on the Protection of Minors in Rome UISG / USG
#PBC2019

As the meeting on safeguarding and protection of minors begins we, the Major Superiors of Religious Orders and Congregations around the world, unite in support of this initiative of Pope Francis.

In our work as religious, we come across many situations where children are abused, neglected, maltreated and unwanted. We see child soldiers; the trafficking of minors; the sexual abuse of minors; the physical and emotional abuse of minors. They cry out to us. As adults, as Christians and as religious we want to work so that their lives are changed and that the situations in which they are brought up are improved.

The common theme across all of these issues is vulnerability. Children are the most vulnerable in our societies. Children who are poor, who are disabled or destitute or who are on the margins, who belong to lower social classes or castes may have a particular vulnerability. They are considered dispensable, to be used and abused.

Sexual abuse in the Church
This particular meeting focuses on the sexual abuse of children and the abuse of power and conscience by those in authority in the Church, especially bishops, priests and religious. It is a story stretching back for decades, a narrative of immense pain for those who have suffered this abuse.

We bow our heads in shame at the realisation that such abuse has taken place in our Congregations and Orders, and in our Church. We have learned that those who abuse deliberately hide their actions and are manipulative. By definition, it is difficult to uncover this abuse. Our shame is increased by our own lack of realisation of what has been happening. We acknowledge that when we look at Provinces and Regions in our Orders and Congregations across the world, that the response of those in authority has not been what it should have been. They failed to see warning signs or failed to take them seriously.

TO CONTINUE: http://www.internationalunionsuperiorsgeneral.org/statement-prior-meeting-protection-minors-rome-uisg-usg/

DIGITAL PRESS KIT FOR THE MEETING ON THE PROTECTION OF MINORS

At yesterday’s press conference, it was announced that a Digital Press Kit for members of the media had been created by the organizing committee specifically for the upcoming four-day meeting on the clerical sex abuse scandal and the Protection of Minors that opens Thursday, February 21.

It is an amazing volume of the type that would ordinarily be prepared as background material for a huge event in the life of the Vatican, the Roman Curia and the media – an event such as a conclave to elect a new Pope. It thus seems that this is how all of us – we in the media and you our readers, radio listeners and TV viewers – are to consider this week’s meeting.

As I browsed through the kit yesterday, and began a serious reading today, I came to realize why so much time had passed between the announcement of this meeting in September and the actual start of the meeting this month. This had been a huge criticism about the meeting when the dates were announced, and I had tweeted: “The house is on fire and the firemen will be here in February.”

The work of many people and a great deal of time went into this press kit: it was obviously not something that was done – or could have been done – overnight.

The same goes for the official website – http://www.pbc2019.org – and the twitter account @pbc2019

If you are truly interested in what this meeting intends to do, is doing and what it will achieve in reality, you’ll want to stay tuned to the website and twitter account, in addition to the vaticannews.va page where daily press briefings will be streamed.

The Digital Press Kit is divided into 9 chapters that embrace Background on the Meeting on the Protection of Minors, Official Curial or Papal Documents, Timeline of the Church’s Response both on the Local and Universal Levels, Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and General background regarding how cases of sexual abuse of minors by a deacon, priest or bishop are processed in the Church.

The final chapters are titled Safeguarding Boards and Guidelines by country, Experts by Country, Articles and Interviews in various languages and A look at Child Abuse on the Global Level.

We read about the three themes for the first three days off meetings, themes desired by Pope Francis: 1) Responsibility, 2) Accountability, 3) Transparency. Each of these themes will be articulated in three presentations. Each presentation will focus on the theme as it relates to: the person of the bishop and his responsibilities; the relationship of a bishop with other bishops; the relationship of the bishops with the People of God and society. The presenters were chosen so that a variety of continents, cultures and situations in the Church could be represented.

Please click here to access a list of the presentations and the presenters: http://www.pbc2019.org/conference/presentations

http://www.pbc2019.prg is the pofficial website for the protection of minors meeting.

There will be a brief time for questions and answers at the end of each presentation. Then the participants will meet in their language groups to discuss the presentation(s). Each group will formulate a brief summary of their discussion to be shared with the assembly in the evening.

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MEETING ON PROTECTION OF MINORS: RESPONSIBILITY, ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY

MEETING ON PROTECTION OF MINORS: RESPONSIBILITY, ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY

Pope Francis, following the Angelus on Sunday, spoke of the “Protection of Minors in the Church” meeting that starts this week – February 21 – in the Vatican. The presidents of the world’s Episcopal Conferences will attend, in addition to many other invitees for a total of 190 participants.

The four-day meeting will include plenary sessions, working groups, moments of common prayer, listening to testimonies, a penitential liturgy, and a final Eucharistic celebration. Francis invited the faithful in St. Peter’s Square to pray for the meeting, saying he wanted it “as an act of strong pastoral responsibility in the face of an urgent challenge of our time,” clerical sex abuse.

This morning there was a press conference to present the meeting on protecting minors. Participants included Cardinal Blase Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, member of the Organizing Committee; Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, member of the Organizing Committee; Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, moderator of the meeting; and Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner, president of the Center for the Protection of Minors of the Pontifical Gregorian University, member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors; Also present was American Pauline Sr. Bernadette Reis, assistant to the press office director.

Interim press office director Alessandro Gisotti moderated.

The press conference opened with brief statements by all of the participants for a total of 45 minutes. Cardinal Cupich said, “we at the conference must give a voice to the voiceless, to the minors, to the victims of abuse.” He announced that people who wanted to follow the meeting could refer to a website that would be launched right after today’s press conference.

That website is: http://www.pbc2019.org twitter.com/pbc2019

Archbishop Scicluna, quoting Pope Francis on the trip back from Panama for World Youth Day, said “we all need to be more aware of this problem, we know it’s important that we know what we need to do.” Scicluna added, “It is important that we pray. We must remember the flock is not our own, it is the flock of Jesus Christ. We all need it to be on the same page and just coming together is a big step.” (Scicliuna on left)

The Maltese archbishop thanked the media for the investigative work that has brought this topic where it belongs by bringing stories to light, and encouraged them to continue to collaborate.

Fr. Federico Lombardi outlined the three days of work sessions, as well as the penitential liturgy on Saturday afternoon and the closing Mass with the Pope on Sunday. Those last two events will be in the Sala Regia of the Apostolic Palace, whereas the other meetings are in the new Synod Hall. (Lombardi on right, next to Gisotti)

There will be a specific theme for each of the three days of work: responsibility accountability and transparency. Fr. Lombardi outlined the specifics of each day’s morning and afternoon sessions, including speaker

Fr. Hans Zollner noted that a questionnaire was sent to all participants with five questions. There was an astonishing 89% response. Some of the questions included how would you describe sex abuse by clerics in your country? What is the level of awareness among the public? What are the greatest risk factors in your country/ cultures?

Fr. Zollner said this survey will help to create a synodal church and will help even more so in the follow up to this week’s meeting. He then announced the website whereby everyone can follow this meeting: pbc2019.org PBC stands for Presidents Bishops Conference. The site will be continually updated and will eventually serve to tailor the responses for bishops as they do a follow-up in their home countries.

In the question and answer session, which lasted over an hour, Cardinal Cupich was asked when what message he will bring to Chicagoans when he returns. He responded that he wants to make it clear that bishops have to take responsibility on sex abuse issues, that loopholes have to be closed, and that concrete steps – especially for bishops – will be in place. Cupich said he hopes that people see this as a turning point, and that they know that the three themes – responsibility accountability and transparency – will keep children safe. He emphasized that bishops will be held accountable.

In response to a journalist who noted that Archbishop Scicluna was the first to have the courage to use the word “omerta”, a mafia word for silence, vis a vis the Church, Scicluna replied by saying silence can never exist in clerical sex abuse cases. He said, “denial is a natural but a primitive response” adding, there is great need to break any and all codes of silence.

The organizers were asked if they will be addressing “the question of abuse of vulnerable adults, of seminarians,” to which Scicluna immediately responded “other types of misconduct will be addressed.”

Cardinal Cupich, addressing that question, said “it is our intention at this meeting to focus on those who do not have a voice, that is to say and minors.”

A journalist asked Archbishop Scicluna how we felt Pope Francis had evolved on this issue.

In fact, Scicluna was asked last year to be a point man for the Pope in events in Chile after the Pope had he denied the veracity of earlier reports of victims and later, admitted he, Francis, was part of the problem.

The archbishop said “we have to look at Francis where he is now. He no longer hides from reality. The Pope says we need to make things right and the 190 people here for the meeting all want to do that. We are also going to start follow-up procedures immediately after the meeting.” He added he was greatly impressed by Pope Francis’ humility. He added, “If something goes wrong, we need to make it right.”

Another question was asked about accountability. If the Church is asking Episcopal conferences to be accountable for clerical sex abuse cases in their jurisdiction, why is the Vatican not being held accountable to the same standard?

Cardinal Cupich said, “yes, that has to be looked at.” He noted there are reports that say homosexuality is not a cause of abuse of minors, and reports, like CARA, that say reports of cases have declined greatly in the United States since measures were taken to look at how seminaries screen young men.

Another journalist asked how seminarians get ordained, much less move up the ladder to becoming a bishop or beyond. Where are the protocols for selecting a bishop based on behavior, past activity or inclinations, psychological evaluation, etc.

Archbishop Scicluna said the Congregation for Bishops is working on guidelines similar to those in seminaries for evaluating a person nomination for the Episcopal office.

Another journalist asked if there should not be in more input from women, noting that there are only about 10 at this weeks meeting.

Cardinal Cupich agreed and said that, in his 20 years as a bishop the voices and input from women have been very valuable and had helped him very much.

The question was asked: why did the Pope try recently to lower expectations for this conference! Archbishop Scicluna said, “the higher the expectations, the higher the frustrations will be. The Pope has said let’s start with reasonable expectations. It will actually be the follow up everywhere that will be the most watched.

Cardinal Cupich was asked about the alleged Vatican interference in the November meeting of bishops in the US. He said the Holy See actually did us a favor in November by asking us to wait. This is part of the synodality the Pope wants, working together with others.”

Members of the organizing committee have been asked by the Pope to stay in Rome for a few days after the event ends Sunday.

 

“VATICAN INSIDER” EXPLORES VENERABLE ENGLISH COLLEGE – “BE NOT AFRAID” OF “OTHERS,” FOREIGNERS, OUTCASTS AND STRANGERS – NUNCIO TO FRANCE INVESTIGATED FOR ALLEGED SEXUAL ASSAULT

“VATICAN INSIDER” EXPLORES VENERABLE ENGLISH COLLEGE

Join me this weekend on Vatican Insider for Part II of my conversation with my special guest and friend, Msgr. Philip Whitmore, rector of the Venerable English College, the English seminary in Rome. It is truly a venerable institution with a history of over 600 years!

Msgr. Whitmore, rector since June 2013, is from the Archdiocese of Westminster, and before 2013 served in the Roman Curia, working first at the Congregation for Bishops and then at the Secretariat of State. He tells fascinating stories about the college, its amazing and very long history, the young men studying here, the historical Archives project, the summer residence of Pallazola and much more. Some very surprising facts as well.

This photo is from an audience in 2018 with Pope Francis – Msgr. Whitmore is to the Pope’s right as we look at the photo:

In case you missed them last week, here are photos of the seminary’s stunning chapel!

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“BE NOT AFRAID” OF “OTHERS,” FOREIGNERS, OUTCASTS AND STRANGERS

“Free from fear”: that is the theme of a 3-day meeting organized by the Migrantes Foundation, Italian Caritas, and the Jesuit-run Astalli Center for Refugees, to discuss reception structures for migrants.

The meeting is being held at the Fraterna Domus, a Welcome and Retreat Center near the town of Sacrofano, about 20 kilometers outside Rome. Consistent with his commitment to welcoming migrants, Pope Francis chose to open the meeting on Friday afternoon by celebrating Mass at the Fraterna Domus Center.

Do not be afraid
In his homily, the Pope focused on the readings chosen for the celebration, which he summed up in a single sentence: “Do not be afraid”.

Pope Francis used the image of the Israelites at the Red Sea, in the Book of Exodus, to illustrate how we are “called to look beyond the adversities of the moment, to overcome fear and to place full trust in the saving and mysterious action of the Lord”.

Free from fear
Turning to the Gospel of St Matthew, the Pope described the disciples crying out in fear at the sight of Jesus walking on the waters, and His response to them: “Courage, it is I, do not be afraid”. Reminding his listeners that “Free from fear” is the theme chosen for this meeting, Pope Francis said it is “through these biblical episodes that the Lord speaks to us today and asks us to let Him free us from our fears”.

Fear of others
“Faced with the wickedness and ugliness of our time”, said Pope Francis, we too, “are tempted to abandon our dream of freedom”. We are tempted to “shut ourselves off within ourselves”, he said, “in our fragile human security…in our reassuring routine”.
The Pope called this retreat into oneself, “a sign of defeat”, one that increases our fear of “others”, foreigners, outcasts and strangers. “This is particularly evident today”, he continued, with the arrival of migrants and refugees “who knock on our door in search of protection, security and a better future”.

Fear is legitimate
While recognizing that fear is legitimate, Pope Francis said it can lead us to “give up encountering others and to raise barriers to defend ourselves”. Instead, he continued, we are called to overcome our fear, knowing “the Lord does not abandon His people”. The encounter with the other”, said the Pope, “is also an encounter with Christ…even if our eyes have difficulty recognizing Him”. He is the one, said Pope Francis, “with ragged clothes, dirty feet, agonized faces, sore bodies, unable to speak our language”.

Overcoming fear
The Pope concluded his homily by suggesting we should “begin to thank those who give us the opportunity of this meeting, that is, the ‘others’ who knock at our door, and offer us the possibility of overcoming our fears, meeting, welcoming and assisting Jesus”.
And those “who have had the strength to let themselves be freed from fear”, he said, “need to help others do the same”, so they too can prepare themselves for their own encounter with Christ.

NUNCIO TO FRANCE INVESTIGATED FOR ALLEGED SEXUAL ASSAULT

Responding to the questions of journalists, interim director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, said: “The Holy See has learned in the press that an investigation has been initiated by the French authorities towards Monsignor Luigi Ventura, Apostolic Nuncio in Paris. The Holy See is awaiting the outcome of the investigations “.

CNA/EWTN news reports that Bishop Luigi Ventura, apostolic nuncio to France since 2009 and a long-time Vatican diplomat, is under investigation for alleged sexual assault.
The French newspaper Le Monde reported Friday that Ventura, 74, is being investigated by Paris authorities after he was accused late last month of having inappropriately touched a young male staffer of Paris City Hall.

A Vatican statement Feb. 15 said that it was made aware of the French authorities’ investigation of the envoy through the press and is “awaiting the outcome of the investigations.”
The alleged assault is said to have taken place in Paris’ City Hall Jan. 17, during a reception for the annual New Year address of Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo. The address is usually given to diplomats, religious leaders, and civil society members, with a role by the apostolic nuncio.
The claim against Ventura was brought to French authorities by Paris City Hall six days after it allegedly took place. The alleged victim has not been identified. (To continue: https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/vatican-ambassador-under-investigation-for-sexual-assault-71198)

POPE FRANCIS NAMES CARDINAL KEVIN FARRELL ‘CAMERLENGO’ – POPE TO IFAD STAFF: LOOK FOR FACES, NOT CASE STUDIES

I hope that, wherever you are celebrating St. Valentine’s Day, you are having a blessed day. Hopefully the link to this Jacquie Lawson greeting card will work as there is a message for each one of you – my faithful readers, radio listeners and TV viewers – on the Valentine tree. (Jacquie Lawson cards are marvelous, by the way, for many occasions)

https://www.jacquielawson.com/sendcard/preview?cont=1&hdn=0&fldCard=3478770&path=105741&pmode=init

As I watched this e-card play out, I thought of my own childhood and how we celebrated Valentine’s Day. One year, Mom took a shoebox, decorated it with red, white and pink paper and hearts, cut a slit on the middle and put it in the center of our dinner table every February 14. Even as young kids, we bought small greeting cards with our allowance, wrote a message and then addressed the cards to Mom, to Dad and to our siblings, and slipped them in the shoebox. Cards were distributed at dessert time!

As we grew, Mom started a tradition of creating a box for each of us – this time a much bigger box – into which she put our baby books, perhaps a lock of hair, report cards and every single card we gave, whatever our age, to her and my Dad on birthdays, Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, and so on. I still have “Joan’s Box”!

PS – Did you know that St. Valentine’s skull is in a reliquary in Rome’s Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin!

POPE FRANCIS NAMES CARDINAL KEVIN FARRELL ‘CAMERLENGO’

Vatican City, Feb 14, 2019 / 05:41 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis Thursday nominated a new camerlengo, Irish-American Cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, and a former bishop of Dallas.

The responsibilities of camerlengo include overseeing the preparations for a papal conclave and managing the administration of the Holy See in the period between a pope’s death or renunciation and the election of a new pope.

Farrell was one of several bishops about whom questions were raised last summer regarding prior knowledge of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s misdeeds in the dioceses of Metuchen and Newark.

Farrell had served as an auxilary bishop under the former cardinal in Washington, DC, as well as moderator of the curia and vicar general, a chief advisory role to the disgraced archbishop.
Farrell lived together with McCarrick in a renovated parish building in Washington’s Kalorama neighborhood for six years, and many have characterized McCarrick as a mentor to the cardinal.
Last July, Farrell denied having any knowledge of accusations of sexual abuse or harassment against McCarrick.

A former member of the Legion of Christ, Farrell had also previously denied having prior knowledge of sexual abuse on the part of the Legion of Christ’s founder and former general director, Marcial Maciel.

Farrell also caused controversy last summer after he suggested in an interview with the Irish Catholic magazine Intercom that priests lack the necessary experience to provide adequate marriage preparation to engaged couples, saying, “priests are not the best people to train others for marriage.” The comment echoed a statement of his from September 2017, that priests have “no credibility when it comes to living the reality of marriage.”

The office of camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, which is situated within the pontifical household, has been vacant since the death of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran last July.

To take office, Farrell, 71, will take an oath before Pope Francis, who will give him a scepter, a symbol of the authority of the camerlengo. The current scepter, covered in red velvet, dates to the papacy of Benedict XV.

Born in Ireland and ordained a priest in 1978 as a member of the Legion of Christ, Farrell eventually relocated to Washington, DC, serving as director of Washington’s Spanish Catholic Center, before becoming the archdiocese’s finance officer in 1989.

In 2002, he became an auxiliary bishop of Washington, serving as moderator of the curia and vicar general, a chief advisory role, to then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

He was named Bishop of Dallas in 2007, where he served until his appointment as the first prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life in August 2016, which put him in charge of the planning of the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in 2018 and World Youth Day in Panama in January 2019.

Farrell became a cardinal in November 2016.

The camerlengo is one of two head officials of the Roman Curia who do not lose their office while the papacy is vacant. The position of camerlengo, which is regulated by the apostolic constitutions Pastor bonus and Universi dominici gregis, administers Church finances and property during the interregnum.

Paragraph 17 of Universi dominici gregis establishes that “the Camerlengo of Holy Roman Church must officially ascertain the Pope’s death” and “must also place seals on the Pope’s study and bedroom,” and later “the entire papal apartment.”

The camerlengo is also responsible for notifying the cardinal vicar for Rome of the pope’s death, who then notifies the people of Rome by special announcement. He takes possession of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican and Palaces of the Lateran and of Castel Gandolfo and manages their administration.

“During the vacancy of the Apostolic See, the Camerlengo of Holy Roman Church has the duty of safeguarding and administering the goods and temporal rights of the Holy See, with the help of the three Cardinal Assistants, having sought the views of the College of Cardinals, once only for less important matters, and on each occasion when more serious matters arise,” the constitution states.

Only the pope may choose the cardinal to fill the position of camerlengo, though he may also leave it vacant, in which case, the College of Cardinals would hold an election to fill the office at the start of a sede vacante.

POPE TO IFAD STAFF: LOOK FOR FACES, NOT CASE STUDIES

Pope Francis tells staff of the International Fund for Agricultural Development that God appreciates their work to eradicate poverty and hunger in rural areas of the world.
By Vatican News
Seventy-five percent of the world’s poor live in rural areas of developing countries. Addressing the 42nd annual Governing Council meeting of IFAD in Rome, on Thursday, Pope Francis pointed out how paradoxical it is that “a good part of the more than 820 million people who suffer hunger and malnutrition in the world, live in rural areas, are dedicated to food production, and are farmers”.


Going against the flow
Following that address, the Pope met with IFAD staff members and thanked them for their work “in the service of such a noble cause as the fight against hunger and poverty in the world”. He also thanked them “for going against the flow”.

“Today’s trend sees a slowdown in the reduction of extreme poverty and an increase in the concentration of wealth in the hands of a few”, he said. “Few have too much and too many have too little”. The Pope described what he called “this perverse current of inequality” as being “disastrous for the future of humanity”.

Competence and sensitivity
Pope Francis acknowledged how “many needy and disadvantaged people, who survive with so much suffering on the peripheries of the world, benefit from your work”. These beneficiaries include disadvantaged children, women, and entire families.

He went on to tell IFAD staff how, “in order to perform this type of service well, it is necessary to combine competence with a particular human sensitivity”. It is important to “cultivate the inner life”, he told them, “the feelings that open the heart and ennoble others”.

Putting God in everything
Pope Francis encouraged everyone working at the International Fund for Agricultural Development, not to lose hope, not to give in to resignation, “thinking that it is only a drop in the ocean”. We can inject enthusiasm into everything we do, “day by day, even in small things”, he said. This means “putting God in what we do”, added Pope Francis: “because God never tires of doing good, of starting again. He never tires of giving hope”.

Looking for faces
Finally, the Pope urged IFAD staff always “to look for a face”, the faces of the people behind the case studies. “It is important not to stay on the surface”, he said, “but to enter into reality, to see the faces”.

The question to be asked, suggested Pope Francis, is “how much love do I put into the things I do now”? Those who love, he concluded, use their imagination: they can see solutions “where others see only problems”.

TRUE PRAYER IS SILENT DIALOGUE WITH GOD – MICROSOFT, ACADEMY FOR LIFE TO PROMOTE PRIZE ON ETHICS IN AI

TRUE PRAYER IS SILENT DIALOGUE WITH GOD

Pope Francis told the faithful during his weekly general audience that prayer with God is a silent dialogue with love at its core, where there is no pretence. In his ongoing catechesis on the “Our Father,” Pope Francis told pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI hall for the Wednesday audience that, “true prayer is made in the intimate depths of a heart visible only to God. “It is a silent dialogue”, he said, with love at its core. “To look at God and to let oneself be looked at by God is to pray.

Compassion for others

The Pope commented that in this way, the Christian does not forget the world, but rather brings its people and its needs into prayer. He continued by saying that the person who prays, tells God about the pain of someone he or she met that day. “If you don’t realize that there’s so many people who suffer,” the Pontiff underlined, “that means one’s heart is withered. … Feeling compassion …is one of the key verbs of the Gospel.”

“Let us ask ourselves,” said Francis, “when I pray, do I open myself to the cry of so many people near and far? Or do I think of prayer as to some kind of anaesthesia so I can relax?”

No hypocrisy

He stressed that, “Jesus doesn’t want hypocrisy. …True prayer is that which is accomplished in the secret of conscience, of the heart: inscrutable, visible only to God… It avoids falsehood: with God it is impossible to pretend.” Before God, he said, tricks have no power.

No room for individualism

Pope Francis noted that in the Our Father there is the absence of the word “I.” Jesus, he explained, teaches us instead to pray: “your kingdom come, your will be done”. The second half of the prayer then moves from “your” to “our”: “give us our daily bread; forgive us our trespasses”. “This use of the plural, he added, shows us that Christian prayer never asks bread for just one person, but always on behalf of others.” There is no room for individualism in dialogue with God.”

Jesus makes us pray, the Pope emphasized, even for those “who apparently do not seek God,” because God seeks these people “more than anyone else.”

MICROSOFT, ACADEMY FOR LIFE TO PROMOTE PRIZE ON ETHICS IN AI

A statement this afternoon from interim director of the Holy See Press Office, Alessandro Gisotti, said that, in a private audience this afternoon at the Vatican, the Holy Father received Microsoft President Brad Smith, accompanied by the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia.

During their meeting, Mr. Smith discussed the topic of artificial intelligence at the service of the common good and activities aimed at bridging the digital divide that still persists at the global level. With Abp. Paglia, he informed the Holy Father that Microsoft, together with the Pontifical Academy for Life, will promote an international prize on ethics in artificial intelligence, the theme of the Academy’s 2020 plenary assembly.

This year the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life will take place in the Vatican from February 25 to 27 to discuss the theme, ‘Roboethics: Humans, Machines and Health’, whereas the plenary assembly in 2020 will focus on artificial intelligence.

SHORT TAKES…. – VATICAN RADIO INAUGURATED 88 YEARS AGO

As of early 2017, the name, the term, the words “Vatican Radio” were to be strictly confined to “Radio Vaticana Italia” as this was part of a Vatican communications reorganization that was to be Italian-centric, at least in the beginning. Those of us in communications were enjoined not to use the name Vatican Radio unless we were referring to the Italian language radio.

I wrote a column about “the death of a radio” last March and received an incredible number of emails with people expressing condolences, disappointment, and delusion. https://joansrome.wordpress.com/2018/03/23/for-whom-the-bell-tolls-the-death-of-a-radio/

Today, as you will see below, I offer excerpts from a Vatican Radio report on the 65th anniversary of the inauguration of the radio. It is a fascinating, colorful read for sure, yet sad at the same time in light of the communications reforms. The most popular programs, for example, for the major language at Vatican radio were always the feature programs and it is those programs that basically died a year ago.

The story I offer below would have been typical of what the radio referred to as a “feature program.” I can just hear the voice of a reporter reading this account, the dramatic, yet historic recounting of the birth of a radio. Feature programs – the true art of storytelling!

If you want news a la radio, then scroll down to the bottom of the vaticannews.va website, click on “podcasts” and listen to a selection of language news programs.

SHORT TAKES….

POPE FRANCIS WILL VISIT THE ITALIAN CITY OF NAPLES ON JUNE 21ST to take part in a meeting on “Theology after Veritatis Gaudium in the Mediterranean context.” He is scheduled to arrive around 9 AM and will be welcomed by Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, archbishop of Naples, Bishop Francesco Marino of Nola, and Fr. Arturo Sosa, Jesuit Superior General. Francis will address participants in the conference that is being hosted by the San Luigi section of the Pontifical Theological Faculty of Southern Italy. The Pope is set to return to the Vatican early in the afternoon. He previously visited Naples in March 2015.

TO UNDERLINE HIS CONSTANT ATTENTION TO WELCOMING MIGRANTS, on Friday February 15, at 4.00 pm at the Fraternal Domus of Sacrofano (Rome), Pope Francis will preside the Eucharistic Celebration that opens the “Free from Fear” meeting on the realities of welcoming and receiving migrants organized by the Migrantes Foundation, by Italian Caritas and by the Centro Astalli. The three-day meeting starts February 15, 2019. The visit will have a private character, so the presence of journalists and communication operators is excluded. Vatican television will supervise the live broadcast of this event.

TODAY, FEBRUARY 12, MARKS THE 88TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE INAUGURATION OF VATICAN RADIO on Thursday February 12, 1931. Pope Pius XI transmitted the first radio message in Latin in the presence of Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of the radio and creator of Vatican Radio, and Fr. Giuseppe Gianfranceschi S.I., first director of the radio.

VATICAN RADIO INAUGURATED 88 YEARS AGO

On February 12, 1931, the Marquis Guglielmo Marconi spoke these historical words:

“I have the highest honor of announcing that in only a matter of seconds the Supreme Pontiff, Pope Pius XI, will inaugurate the Radio Station of the Vatican City State. The electric radio waves will transport to all the world his words of peace and blessing. With the help of Almighty God, who allows the many mysterious forces of nature to be used by man, I have been able to prepare this instrument which will accord to the Faithful of all the world the consolation of hearing the voice of the Holy Father. Most Holy Father, the work that Your Holiness has deigned to entrust to me, I, today return to You…may you deign, Holy Father, to allow the entire world to hear your august words.”

It is exactly 4:49 p.m. on the Twelfth of February, Nineteen Thirty-One.

The rich text of the first radio message was written in Latin by Pius XI himself. The Pope imbued his message with passages from the Sacred Scriptures which emphasize the universality of the Gospel message. Pius XI concluded the first line of the discourse in this manner: “Listen, O Heavens, to that which I say; listen, O Earth, listen to the words which come from my mouth…Listen and hear, O Peoples of distant lands!” He continued, speaking in the voice of the Old Testament prophet, To the City and to the World! Now, we turn to the reporting of the event and to the story that preceeded it.

As early as 1925, the Director General of Communications for Vatican City, Jesuit Father Giuseppe Gianfranceschi, was in the process of drawing up plans for the establishment of a wireless station in the Vatican. A letter written by Fr. Gianfranceschi dated July 25, 1925 speaks about the establishment of such a transmission station.

Two years later Fr. Gianfranceschi contacted the Italian scientist Guglielmo Marconi to undertake initial plans and meetings for the realization of this project for the Pope. Marconi demonstrated much enthusiasm for this project and offered his complete availability to the Pontiff. Additionally, he stated that he would perform the work for the Church without charge. Two more years passed before the work would begin. Actually, it was the signing of the Lateran Treaty in 1929 that gave rise to the initiation of the work on this transmission station in the Vatican Gardens. Only four days after the signing of the Lateran Treaty, Marconi received official permission to begin construction of this project for the Vatican City State.

Inauguration of Vatican Radio
On the inauguration day of Vatican Radio a large group of reporters and cameramen from Paramount News of the United States was present. They brought equipment of the highest quality to record the event. The cameras, although hand-powered, shot for the first time in the history of cinema exterior footage with live soundtrack. The film footage of the event, which is conserved in the archives of Vatican Radio, is an irreplaceable testimony of the event in the history of the Church and telecommunications.

It is a cold clear day, with a light wind coming from the mountains in the north…at exactly 3:00 p.m. a Papal gendarme orders the evacuation of the premises. Two Papal banners suspended from each side of the building flutter in the wind. Inside everything is prepared and ready for the first broadcast. The transmitters have been tested for the last time. At 3:30 p.m. the Marquis Marconi arrives; the illustrious inventor goes directly to the Amplification Studio, places the earphones on his head, and begins the transcontinental conversations. The voice arrives clearly in New York, Melbourne, and Quebec. Fr. Gianfranceschi works with his usual conentration in preparing the final arrangements for the broadcast of the Pope. Although beseiged with many questions he responds with his characteristic smile and kindness. His manner serves to reduce the commotion and nervousness of the day. After several moments the equipment is shut down and will be reactivated only after the arrival of the Pontiff.

The first signal to be sent out is in Morse code. The technician types the words, In nomine Domini, Amen, that is In the Name of the Lord, amen! At this very instant radio stations, ships, and anyone who has the equipment to receive the signal hears this benediction and invitation. After a brief introduction of the Pope by Marconi, Pius XI takes the microphone and inaugurates the first world-wide radio message ever given by a Pope.

The first to approach the big microphone is the great architect. Guglielmo Marconi is 56 years old and two years earlier, Pius XI – who wanted a state-of-the-art radio station for the newborn Vatican City – proposed the company to him. The inventor of the radio visits the Vatican on 11 June 1929, just four days after the exchange of ratifications by the Lateran Pacts. The construction work is fast and when the second anniversary of the Pacts … is approaching, the inauguration of the radio is also approaching. …At the microphone, an excited Marconi underlines the most striking aspect of the novelty. After “twenty centuries” of papal Magisterium that has “made itself felt” with the documents, it is the “first time” in which it can be heard “simultaneously” by the Pope’s “living voice”

(http://www.vatican.va/news_services/radio/multimedia/storia_ing.html)

PS: Marconi’s daughter Maria Eletra lives in Rome

Click here for photos and video from those days in 1931with Pope Pius XI: https://www.vaticannews.va/it/vaticano/news/2019-02/radio-vaticana-anniversario-88-papa-pio-xi-guglielmo-marconi.html#play

FEBRUARY 11 IN NUMBERS – A PAPAL RESIGNATION, AN UNFOLDING STORY – THE DISMAY, SURPRISE, AMAZEMENT OF CARDINALS AT PAPAL ANNOUNCEMENT – POPE BENEDICT SAYS RUMORS HE WAS FORCED TO RESIGN ARE “ABSURD”

FEBRUARY 11 IN NUMBERS

February 11 commemorates some important moments for the Catholic Church:

Today is the 161st anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes to St. Bernadette.

It is the 90th anniversary of the establishment of Vatican City State via the 1929 Lateran Pacts. Today is a holiday in Vatican City State to mark that event.

It is the 27th World Day of the Sick, established in May 1992 by St. John Paul II, a year after he learned that he had Parkinson’s.

It is the 6th anniversary of the announcement by Pope Benedict XVI that he would resign the papacy effective at the end of the month.

The 11th hour of the 11th Day….

Today I focus on that last anniversary because of its unique nature and because of what it entailed for me – and hundreds of others – as a vaticanista. How to handle history as it is actually being made! Getting it right!.

Where does one start to write about a day that is historical, stunning, amazing and also sad – there were so many reactions and emotions. Having lived in Rome for decades and having worked for or covered the Vatican and the papacy for all but two of those years, all of the above emotions were part of that incredible February 11, 2013 when we heard Pope Benedict XVI tell the world he would resign the papacy effective February 28, 2013!

Over the years, from my first visit to Rome as a college student to this very day, I have met or been in the presence of Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis and have actually spoken to the last four. I was at the 1978 Mass when John Paul I was installed as Pope but never did meet him during his very brief pontificate.

Up to February 11, 2013, the whole world knew that the death of a Pope was the only way the papacy was vacated, that there could be a “sede vacante,” literally, a vacant chair.

No one is alive on this earth today who had ever heard a Pope say what Pope Benedict did on that fateful, historical morning exactly six years ago – Monday, February 11, 2013.

I remember every moment of that day and subsequent ones like it just happened yesterday – the resignation, the TV appearances, the press conferences, the preparations for a conclave, the mountains of research need to answer questions and to prepare for EWTN’s live television coverage of all events, the visits prepared for the media to Castelgandolfo where Benedict would be living until his permanent home was ready to receive him, and the monastery where Benedict now lives.

I look back at February 11, 2013 with amazement, with gratitude for being here during an historical period, with awe at the events of the months that followed, and once again with gratitude for a Church that could so beautifully transition from one papacy to another.

I look back at the courage and humility and love of the Church that prompted Pope Benedict to resign as he feared, sensed, realized he could not serve the Church he loved as she deserved.

Benedict XVI had become a role model for so many people, for millions of Catholics – and others – who miss him terribly today and wish him well and pray for him on a daily basis. More frequently than you might imagine – still today, six years later – people write me to ask me to please extend to Pope emeritus Benedict their regards, their love, their prayers and their thanksgiving for his pontificate. I try to pass on what I can!

I vividly remember telling U.S. television the night of Benedict’s resignation that Pope John Paul II, in his long suffering, taught us how to die and Pope Benedict, in his humility, courage and love, was teaching us how to live!

Too often we live and make decisions based on what others might think of us. We want to “look good,” we need approval before we act. We rarely look inside ourselves to see – even pray – what is the right thing to do. That is what Benedict XVI did. He looked inside himself and, with great honesty, unbelievable courage and his noted humility, he knew he had to leave the papacy.

In my mind’s eye today I’ve relived every encounter I had with Pope Benedict over the years – the brief exchanges, his soft smile, his wonderful blue eyes, his total sincerity. I will go to Mass and say a rosary today for Benedict, out of love, respect and gratitude.

My favorite photo:

And now a look back at history….

A PAPAL RESIGNATION, AN UNFOLDING STORY

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Fr. Federico Lombardi, papal spokesman and head of the Holy See Press Office and Vatican Radio gave a very interesting and informative press briefing today for the world’s media now converging in Rome following Benedict XVI’s stunning announcement that he will “renounce” the office of Pope, the Petrine ministry on February 28.

He said he had little to add to what he told reporters yesterday, and then proceeded to speak and answer questions for almost 90 minutes. He thanked the media for its coverage, saying that in general it was abundant, informative, timely, respectful and, in some instances, “reflective.” He reiterated what he said about the Pope’s decision to resign, namely, that he made the decision with lucidity and serenity and that it was “spiritually well-founded from a human and faith perspective.”

We did learn that the Holy Father has had a pacemaker since the 1990s – before his pontificate – and that as recently as several months ago he went privately to Pius XI clinic in Rome to have the batteries replaced – something he has done regularly over the years.

All the activities, meetings, speeches and liturgies that were on Pope Benedict’s calendar before his announcement for the month of February remain unchanged, including his retreat with members of the curia that starts next Sunday evening, February 17 and ends the following Saturday in late morning. The Pope will receive the presidents of Romania and Guatemala, will meet with the Roman clergy Thursday morning (live in Vatican television), and will continue to meet Italy’s bishops on their ad limina visits.

Two events will have venue changes to accommodate larger crowds.

Tomorrow’s Ask Wednesday Mass in Santa Sabina Basilica that usually follows a procession from St. Anselm’s to Santa Sabina will take place in St. Peter’s Basilica, starting at 5 pm and scheduled to last two hours.

Pope Benedict’s final weekly general audience will be held on February 27th in St. Peter’s Square to accommodate what is expected to be a very large crowd of faithful

One journalist asked why the Pope is resigning specifically at 8 pm on February 28th. Fr. Lombardi said the Pope always considered 8 pm the end of his working day.

The Pope’s promised encyclical on faith will not be ready by February 28. It is not known if it would be released at a future date and possible under Benedict XVI /Joseph Ratzinger.

Benedict XVI will move to a small monastery in Vatican City that is currently being renovated. He will spend in days in prayer and reflection and, many hope, further writing. Pope John Paul years earlier had given this building to an order of cloistered nuns, and he invited a new order to come every five years. The last group of nuns left in November 2012 and the renovation started on the monastery, which has a small chapel, after that.

The Pope knows the monastery well and had visited the cloistered nuns on a number of vocations.

Vatican television went this morning to shoot images for the media.

The Pope’s decision to retire began to “mature” during his Mexico and Cuba trip last year, and became set in his mind in recent months. He had, however, given indications in speeches, in the book/interview, “Light of the World” and in a December talk at a senior citizens’ home in Rome that, if he were to find himself in circumstances where he could not perform the duties of the Petrine ministry, then renouncing the papacy would be a possibility.

Many questions were asked at the press briefing to which Fr. Lombardi said he did not have a specific answer but would inquire:

1. Would Benedict participate in the inaugural Mass of is successor?

2. Have the cardinals been formally notified of the conclave, etc.?

3. Have the current residents of the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta where conclave cardinals reside been informed of a date they must vacate their rooms?

4. What happens to the papal ring and seal and other objects that are usually broken or destroyed when a Pope dies? In this case, Benedict will still be with us

5. Could Pope Benedict himself now write a document and solve some of these issues?

6. How will people refer to Benedict XVI after his resignation? His title? We do know he is now the Bishop of Rome so he will be the former Bishop of Rome.

The date for the start of the conclave to elect Benedict’s successor has not been announced but Msgr. Guido Marini, master of papal ceremonies, has said it would start 15 to 20 days, after the Pope leaves. This is according to John Paul’s 1996 Apostolic Constitution “Universi dominici gregis”, though people are still studying this to determine events.

THE DISMAY, SURPRISE, AMAZEMENT OF CARDINALS AT PAPAL ANNOUNCEMENT

From the February 12 (2013) edition of L’Osservatore Romano:

“Dismay, surprise, amazement and emotion at the words of Benedict XVI who announced his decision to ‘renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome’. These sentiments were etched on the faces of the cardinals, bishops and prelates – assembled for the Ordinary Public Concistory on Monday morning, 11 February, in the Concistory Hall of the Apostolic Palace – who heard the unexpected announcement in the Pope’s own voice.

“Everyone’s eyes met, a light murmur swelled in the hall and astonishment faded into sorrow. Yet, after the first few moments of confusion, the unanimous recognition that the Pope’s act was a very lofty act of humility made headway among those present – who included the papal masters of ceremony, representatives of the postulations, choristers of the Sistine Chapel Choir, papal chair bearers and technicians.

“It was a decision that took everyone by surprise. As did the fact that the Pope – accompanied by Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Prefect of the Papal Household, and Archbishop Guido Pozzo, the Pope’s Almoner, Mons. Leonardo Sapienza, Regent of the Papal Household, and Alfred Xuereb of the Pope’s Private Secretariat – chose to communicate it personally when, at the end of the celebration of Midday Prayer and after the announcement that the three canonizations on the agenda of the Concistory would be held next 12 May, he read the Latin text of the Declaratio written in his own hand. Speaking in a firm, calm voice, while those present listened to him in an almost unreal silence, he explained the reasons for his decision, made “with full freedom”, and “after having repeatedly examined my conscience before God”.

“The prayerful, joyous atmosphere turned into sadness. The spokesman who rose to the occasion was Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals who immediately took the floor on behalf of all the cardinals. “Your Holiness, beloved and venerable Successor of Peter”, he said, “your moving message rang out in this hall like a bolt from the blue. We heard it with a sense of bewilderment, almost totally unbelieving. In your words we noted the great affection which you have always had for God’s holy Church, for this Church which you have so deeply loved”.

“Now, he added, ‘may I be permitted to tell you on behalf of the apostolic ‘upper room’, the College of Cardinals, on behalf of your dear co-workers, that we are closer to you than ever, as we have been especially close in these luminous eight years of your pontificate’”.

“The Cardinal assured Benedict XVI that ‘before 28 February, as you said, the day on which you wish to give the last word to your papal service, carried out so lovingly, so humbly, before 28 February we will have an opportunity to express our sentiments to you better. A great number of pastors and of the faithful, scattered across the world, will do likewise, as will numerous people of good will, together with the authorities of a great many countries”. He then made a reference to the upcoming commitments of the Pope.

During this month we shall have the joy of hearing your voice as a pastor: on Ash Wednesday, then on Thursday with the clergy of Rome, at the Angelus on the coming Sundays, at the Wednesday General Audiences. There will thus be many occasions on which to hear your fatherly voice again”. “Your mission”, he concluded, “will nevertheless continue”. You said that you will always be close to us with your witness and with your prayers. Of course, the stars of heaven always continue to shine and thus the star of your pontificate will always shine among us. We are close to you, Holy Father, and please bless us’.”

POPE BENEDICT SAYS RUMORS HE WAS FORCED TO RESIGN ARE “ABSURD”

Just days before the first anniversary of his February 28, 2013 resignation, Pope emeritus Benedict wrote a letter to an Italian journalist and said media speculation that he was forced by a group of cardinals to resign because of issues such as the Wikileaks scandal and clerical sex abuse cases was “simply absurd.”

Andrea Tornielli of La Stampa had written to the former pontiff with three questions: he asked about the reason for his resignation, why he continues to wear white and why he kept the name Benedict. Tornielli’s questions to the Pope emeritus arose because of press reports that Benedict was pressured to quit by a group of cardinals opposed to him, and for this reason his resignation was invalid. The charge was that Benedict considered himself still to be Pope, and continued to wear the papal white and keep his papal name.

Tornielli’s article appeared in the February 26  (2014) edition of the Italian daily “La Stampa.” He said Pope emeritus Benedict personally penned answers to the question in a simple and direct fashion.

Before he stepped down a year ago, Benedict on several occasions, most notably on February 11 when he announced his impending resignation to a group of cardinals, spoke of failing physical strength due to old age as the reason for his resignation.

In his letter to Tornielli, he wrote: “There is absolutely no doubt regarding the validity of my resignation from the Petrine ministry.” He said the only condition for the validity of his resignation was the complete freedom of his decision.

In 2010, in the book/ interview with Peter Seewald, “Light of the World,” Benedict said at one point: “If a Pope realizes with clarity that he is no longer able, physically, psychologically and spiritually, to absolve the duties of his office, then he has the right and, in some circumstances even the obligation, to resign.”

As to his wearing white, Benedict XVI said that, at the time of his resignation, no other clothes were available so he kept the white cassock for “purely practical reasons.” He also noted that he wears it in a different way than Francis, without the sash and the cape. The Pope emeritus said questions about his attire was another example of “completely unfounded speculation.” He kept the name Benedict also “for practical reasons.”

It is known that Pope Francis and Pope emeritus Benedict have a close friendship and are in touch with each other on a very frequent basis.