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Pope establishes panel to hear appeals of clerical offenders

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican indicated Pope Francis was establishing a commission under the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to examine the appeals of priests punished for sexual abuse of minors and other very serious crimes.

In a brief note May 19, the Vatican press office announced the pope had nominated Argentine Archbishop Jose Luis Mollaghan of Rosario to be a member of the congregation “in the commission being established to examine the appeals of clergy for ‘delicta graviora,’” the Vatican term for sexual abuse of minors and serious sins against the sacraments.

The Vatican did not provide further details about the commission, when it would be established or what the extent of its mandate would be. It did not mention what Archbishop Mollaghan’s position on the commission would be.

In indicating that the archbishop has headed the Archdiocese of Rosario “until now,” the announcement signaled that being part of the commission would be a full-time job in Rome.

AICA, the Argentine Catholic news agency, reported May 19 that Archbishop Emil Paul Tscherrig, Vatican nuncio to Argentina, announced Archbishop Mollaghan’s appointment and said he would serve as apostolic administrator of Rosario until a new archbishop is named.

Archbishop Mollaghan, 68, holds a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He was named an auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires in 1993, one year after the current pope became an auxiliary bishop in the city. The two worked together until Archbishop Mollaghan was named bishop of San Miguel in 2000.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Vatican representative to U.N. agencies in Geneva, told a committee there May 6 that, between 2004 and 2013, the Holy See dismissed 848 priests from the priesthood as a result of sex abuse allegations found to be true. In another 2,572 cases, mainly involving priests of an advanced age, the men were ordered to have no contact with children and were ordered to retreat to a life of prayer and penance.

 

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Pope has a cold, postpones meetings to rest

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Because he has a bit of a cold and wants to rest up for his May 24-26 trip to the Holy Land, Pope Francis has postponed several scheduled appointments.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told reporters May 16 that Pope Francis had celebrated his morning Mass that day with guests invited to the Domus Sanctae Marthae where he lives. Vatican Radio’s coverage of the morning Mass includes several clips of Pope Francis’ homily, delivered in a slightly hoarse voice.

Because he was not feeling well and his agenda included meetings that easily could be postponed, the pope decided to “consolidate his rest” and take the remainder of the day off, Father Lombardi said.

Already May 15, Father Lombardi had announced that the pope decided to postpone a planned May 18 pastoral visit to Rome’s parish and Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love to rest up for his visit to Jordan, Palestine and Israel later in May.

However, the pope kept a packed schedule of meetings with ambassadors and with Mexican bishops making their “ad limina” visits May 15.

When the pope was 21, the upper half of his right lung was removed after cysts caused a severe lung infection. He has said the episode never caused him further health problems.

 

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Morning homily: Being Christian means belonging to the church, going to Mass

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Being a Christian means belonging to the church, remembering with others all God’s saving actions and celebrating the covenant between God and his people by participating in Mass, Pope Francis said.

“A Christian without the church is a pure idea, it is not real,” the pope said May 15 during his early morning Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives. “It would be like something made in a laboratory, something artificial, something that could not give life.”

Commenting on the day’s first reading, Acts 13:13-25, in which St. Paul explains that the newly formed Christian community traces its history to the people of Israel, the pope said the idea of one Christian alone, without connection to a community and its history, makes no sense.

Understanding who Jesus was requires recognizing that he, too, was born into the people of Israel and kept alive the memory of what God had done for his people.

“Jesus Christ did not fall from heaven like a hero who comes to save us,” the pope said, according to a report by Vatican Radio. “No, Jesus Christ had a history.”

As a follower of Jesus, a Christian must be mindful of the community’s history, which is the history of all God has done in order to save humanity, the pope said. At the same time, a Christian must remember the blessings God has provided in one’s own life.

Christians share God’s promise of salvation, and the church is the community in which they move toward the ultimate fulfillment of that promise, the pope said. It also is the community in which one celebrates God’s covenant with his people in the Mass; therefore, a Christian must be “a eucharistic woman, a eucharistic man.”

Pope Francis encouraged those at his Mass to pray each day for “the grace of memory,” “the grace of hope” and “the grace of renewing each day the covenant to which the Lord has called us.”

 

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Allow Holy Spirit to lead, pope says, don’t try to block it

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Christians must recognize that they do not lead or guide the church, but that the Holy Spirit does and the Holy Spirit can be unpredictable, Pope Francis said.

“If, for example, an expedition of Martians arrived tomorrow,” and one said he wanted to be baptized, “What would happen?” the pope asked May 12 during his early morning Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

Explaining that he really was talking about Martians, something unimaginable, he said he meant beings that are “green, with long noses and big ears, like in children’s drawings.”

According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis said that if the Holy Spirit prompted the most unusual being to seek baptism, who would we be to hinder that person?

The pope focused his homily on the day’s first reading, Acts 11:1-18, which tells of the Apostles’ discussion, and consternation, over the Holy Spirit descending on a group of Gentiles at a time when the rest of the community of believers came from the Jewish tradition.

From the very beginnings of Christianity, the pope said, church leaders and members have been tempted at times to block the Holy Spirit’s path or try to control it.

“When the Lord shows us the way, who are we to say, ‘No, Lord, it is not prudent. No, let’s do it this way,’” he said. “Who are we to close doors?”

Many parishes, Pope Francis said, have ushers to open the church doors and welcome people in, “but there has never been a ministry for those who close the doors. Never.”

“The Holy Spirit is the living presence of God in the church,” he said. Jesus sent the Spirit after his ascent into heaven to guide the church and lead it forward into uncharted territory.

The Spirit “makes unthinkable, unimaginable choices,” the pope said. “And we Christians must ask the Lord for the grace of docility to the Holy Spirit” in order to follow the Spirit’s lead.

 

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Pope Francis to beatify Pope Paul VI on Oct. 19

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis will beatify Pope Paul VI Oct. 19 during the closing Mass of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family.

Pope Francis signed a decree May 9 recognizing a miracle attributed to the intercession of Pope Paul, who led the church from 1963 to 1978, and authorized publication of the Oct. 19 beatification date, according to a Vatican statement May 10.

Pope Francis will beatify Pope Paul Oct. 19 during the closing Mass of the extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the family. The miracle needed for Pope Paul’s beatification involved the birth of a healthy baby to a mother in California after doctors had said both lives were at risk. (CNS photo/Giancarlo Giuliani, Catholic Press Photo)

The miracle involved the birth of a baby in California in the 1990s. The family’s name and city have not been released, but according to news reports, a pregnant woman whose life was at risk along with the life of her baby was advised by doctors to terminate the pregnancy. Instead she sought prayers from an Italian nun who was a family friend. The nun placed a holy card with Pope Paul’s photograph and a piece of his vestment on the woman’s belly.

The baby was born healthy. For Pope Paul’s sainthood cause, physicians continued monitoring the child’s health up to the age of 12 and everything was normal.

Pope Paul’s connection with the themes expected to be raised at the synod on the family Oct. 5-19 include the encyclical for which is he is most known, “Humanae Vitae.” The 1968 encyclical, usually described as a document affirming the church’s prohibition against artificial contraception, places that conclusion in the context of Catholic teaching on the beauty and purpose of marriage, married love and procreation.

When St. John XXIII died in 1963, Pope Paul reconvened the Second Vatican Council, presided over the final three of its four sessions and oversaw the promulgation of all of the council’s documents. He also led the process of implementing the council’s reforms.

Pope Paul VI was the first pope in the modern area to travel abroad, visiting: Jordan and Israel in January 1964; Lebanon and India in December 1964; the United Nations and New York in October 1965; the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugual in May 1967; Turkey in July 1967; Colombia and Bermuda in August 1968; Switzerland in June 1969; Uganda in July-August 1969; and Iran, Pakistan, the Philippines, Samoan Islands, Australia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Sri Lanka in November-December 1970.

Born Giovanni Battista Montini in 1897 in the northern Italian province of Brescia, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1920 and was named archbishop of Milan in 1954. Elected pope in 1963, he died at the papal summer villa in Castel Gandolfo Aug. 6, 1978.

 

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Pope tells students he loves school because of his first-grade teacher

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis told about 300,000 Italian students that he loved school as a boy, as a teacher and as a bishop because it was a place where he met different people and where he was challenged to try to understand reality.

Pope Francis looks on as young people dance during an encounter with Italian students, teachers and parents in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican May 10. About 300,000 attended the event. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Meeting with the students May 10 in St. Peter’s Squareand along the wide boulevard leading to it, the pope said he has never forgotten his first-grade teacher. “I love school because that woman taught me to love it.”

“Going to school means opening your mind and heart to reality in all its richness and various dimensions,” he said. “If one learns how to learn, this is the secret, learning to learn, this will stay with you forever.”

The pope, who taught high school literature and psychology as a young Jesuit in Argentina, warned teachers that their students would be able “to smell” it if a teacher lacked the enthusiasm to keep learning.

The evening celebration of “the world of Italian schools,” an event sponsored by the Italian bishops’ conference, was designed to promote collaboration between the Italian church, its schools and the government and its schools. Italian comedians, actors, singers and students entertained the crowd in between speeches from the pope, teachers and Stefania Giannini, Italy’s education minister.

Giannini began her speech voicing the crowd’s prayers for the more than 250 schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria in mid-April by the Boko Haram terrorist group. Pope Francis the same day Tweeted his concern for the girls: “Let us all join in prayer for the immediate release of the schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria.” The Tweet included the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, which is part of the international campaign to rally support for their release.

Addressing the students, teachers and Italian bishops, Pope Francis said a school is not “a parking garage,” where parents simply drop off their children. “It is a place of encounter along our journey.”

While parents are the first educators of their children and the family is the first place people learn to get along with others and value differences, he said, “at school we are socialized. We meet people who are different from us, different in age, culture, origin and ability.”

“Families and schools should never be in opposition,” he said, but they must work together for the good of the child. “This makes me think of a beautiful African proverb, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’”

The pope said he also loves schools because “they educate us about truth, goodness and beauty, which all go together. Education cannot be neutral, either it is positive or it is negative; it enriches or impoverishes; it helps the person grow or it suppresses or even corrupts them.”

In the end, he said, a mature person will graduate speaking “three languages: the language of the mind, the language of the heart and the language of the hands,” making sure their actions are well thought out and are motivated by what is true, good and beautiful.

 

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Pope tells United Nations that respect for life, solidarity needed for development

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Meeting top officials of the United Nations, Pope Francis called for a “worldwide ethical mobilization” that would push technical programs for justice, peace and development further by promoting respect for human life, “fraternity and solidarity.”

“An important part of humanity does not share in the benefits of progress and is, in fact, relegated to the status of second-class citizens,” the pope said May 9 during a meeting at the Vatican with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and members of the U.N. System Chief Executives Board for Coordination.

Pope Francis shakes hands with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during a meeting at the Vatican May 9. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

The board includes the directors of 29 specialized agencies and U.N. departments. The Vatican and Catholic organizations around the world work closely with many of them, such as the World Food Program and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. However, tensions also have arisen with some of the departments and agencies, particularly concerning population control programs and efforts to broaden access to legalized abortion.

While Pope Francis did not dwell on the tensions or mention any of them specifically, he insisted that the promotion of human dignity include a recognition that “life is sacred and inviolable from conception to natural death.”

The pope’s meeting with the board came just days after Vatican representatives were questioned by the U.N. Committee Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, particularly regarding the church’s handling of the clerical sexual abuse scandal, but also about the church’s opposition to abortion in all cases.

During the May 5-6 hearing, Felice Gaer, vice chair of the committee, had said that “laws that criminalize the termination of pregnancy in all circumstances can violate the terms” of the international treaty against torture and inhuman or cruel treatment. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican representative to U.N. agencies in Geneva, responded that the Catholic Church “condemns torture, including for those who are tortured and killed before they are born.”

At the May 9 meeting with the U.N. board members, Pope Francis said improving the lives and health of all the world’s people “involves challenging all forms of injustice and resisting the ‘economy of exclusion,’ the ‘throwaway culture’ and the ‘culture of death,’ which nowadays sadly risk becoming passively accepted.”

The U.N.-coordinated Millennium Development Goals made significant progress in decreasing extreme poverty and improving education levels in many countries, the pope said, but “it must be kept in mind that the world’s peoples deserve and expect even greater results.”

The key to continued improvement, he said, is to address “the structural causes of poverty and hunger, attain more substantial results in protecting the environment, ensure dignified and productive labor for all and provide appropriate protection for the family, which is an essential element in sustainable human and social development.”

Progress requires the cooperation of governments, international agencies, scientists and technicians, he said, but it will not occur without a broad commitment of individuals to solidarity.

“The gaze, often silent, of that part of the human family which is cast off, left behind, ought to awaken the conscience of political and economic agents and lead them to generous and courageous decisions,” he said.

People also must recognize that the spiritual, intellectual and material goods “which God’s providence has placed in our hands” are meant to be shared, including through charitable aid and “the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state.”

 

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Christian unity can honor common witness of martyrdom, pope says

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — To honor the sacrifice of those killed for their faith in the 20th century, Christians today must renew their commitment to reconciliation and full Christian unity, Pope Francis said.

“Just as in the ancient church the blood of the martyrs became the seed of new Christians, so in our day the blood of many Christians has become the seed of unity,” the pope told Catholicos Karekin II of Etchmiadzin, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Pope Francis embraces Catholicos Karekin II of Etchmiadzin, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church, during a meeting at the Vatican May 8. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Pope Francis welcomed the catholicos to the Vatican May 8, paying homage to the fidelity and sacrifice of Armenian Christians during decades of persecution and oppression. He also praised the Armenian Apostolic Church’s commitment to ecumenical dialogue.

“The number of disciples who have shed their blood for Christ in the tragic events of the last century is certainly greater than the number of martyrs in the first centuries” of Christianity, the pope said. “In this martyrology, sons and daughters of the Armenian nation have a place of honor.”

Pope Francis did not use the term “genocide,” although his remarks were an obvious reference to the estimated 1.5 million Armenians, more than half the Armenian population at the time, who died in a forced evacuation by Ottoman Turks in 1915-18.

The suffering of Christians from every church and denomination under the Nazis, the communists and various dictatorships in the 1900s has made “an invaluable contribution to the cause of unity among Christ’s disciples,” the pope said.

The unity of Christians in “suffering and martyrdom and blood,” he said, “is a powerful call to continue walking the path of reconciliation among churches with decisiveness and trusting abandonment to the work of the Spirit.”

“We have an obligation to travel this road of brotherhood, including out of a debt of gratitude toward the suffering of so many of our brothers and sisters, a suffering that is salvific because it is united to the passion of Christ,” Pope Francis said.

The pope prayed that the Holy Spirit would “enlighten us and guide us to that deeply desired day when we can share at the eucharistic table.”

After their formal meeting and remarks in the papal library, Pope Francis and Catholicos Karekin, along with members of his entourage, went to the Redemptoris Mater Chapel in the Apostolic Palace for a brief prayer service.

During the service, a prayer was offered “for our pontiffs, His Holiness Francis and His Holiness Karekin” and for their ministry. At the end of the service, both leaders offered their solemn blessings to the small congregation.

 

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Canonization begins celebration of sainted popes’ feast days — Oct. 11 and 22

April 28th, 2014 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , ,

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — From the moment Pope Francis said, “We declare and define Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II be saints” and “they are to be venerated as such by the whole church,” their October feast days automatically could be celebrated at Masses around the world.

St. John’s feast day is Oct. 11, the anniversary of the day in 1962 that he opened the Second Vatican Council. St. John Paul’s feast day is Oct. 22, the anniversary of the inauguration of his pontificate in 1978.

After the two were beatified, Pope John in 2000 and Pope John Paul in 2011, special Vatican permission was required to publicly celebrate their feast days outside the Diocese of Rome, where they served as bishop and pope, and their home dioceses. Vatican permission also was required to name parishes after them, but with their canonization, that is no longer necessary.

A key difference between beatification and canonization is:

• At a canonization, the pope issues a formal decree recognizing the candidate’s holiness and permitting public remembrance of the candidate at liturgies throughout the church.

• With a beatification, the pope concedes permission for limited public remembrances, usually among members of the candidate’s religious order or in the diocese where the candidate lived and worked.

 

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Women tell the stories of two healings through intercession of two popes

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — People said Floribeth Mora Diaz was crazy to think Blessed John Paul II interceded with God to heal her brain aneurysm, but if so, “then it is a blessed craziness, because I’m healthy,” she told reporters at the Vatican.

The 50-year-old Costa Rican woman spoke at a news conference April 24, just three days before she would participate in the Mass for the canonization of Blessed John Paul; Pope Francis accepted her healing as the miracle needed for the late pope’s canonization.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, and Floribeth Mora Diaz, attend a press conference at the Vatican April 24 in advance of the canonization of Blesseds John XXIII and John Paul II. Mora Diaz’s cure from an aneurysm in 2011 was the second miracle in the sainthood cause of Blessed John Paul. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

At the same news conference, Daughter of Charity Sister Adele Labianca gave her eyewitness account of the healing of Sister Caterina Capitani, the nun whose healing in 1966 was accepted as the miracle needed for the beatification of Blessed John XXIII. Pope Francis waived the requirement of another miracle for his canonization.

Even though both women have told their stories hundreds of times, they were emotional before an international gathering of reporters at the Vatican. Sister Labianca said she had to read her testimony from a prepared text because she was certain she would forget something. Mora Diaz simply let her voice tremble.

The Costa Rican woman, who traveled to the Vatican with her husband and four children, told about having a severe headache in April 2011, going to the doctor and being told she had a brain aneurysm. The doctors in Costa Rica said surgery might be able to help, but she would have to go to Mexico or Cuba for the operation, and she did not have the money.

The local doctors could do nothing more for her, so they sent her home, “telling me I had only a month to live.” She began crying as she talked about her husband trying to prepare their children for their mother’s death and urging them to pray.

Mora Diaz said she had long had a devotion to Pope John Paul and watched his beatification May 1, 2011, “and then I fell asleep.” A few hours later, she heard the late pope’s voice, “Rise! … Do not be afraid.” She said, “I had a peace, a peace that assured me I was healed.”

Still, she said, she and her husband did not have the money to pay for more tests to verify the healing, but eventually her doctor did an MRI. “He was shocked,” she said. “My husband wondered why he wasn’t saying anything and I said, ‘because I’ve been healed through the intercession of John Paul II.’”

The doctor’s reaction was important, she said, “because I wasn’t the only one saying I was healed, but there were doctors, who were very serious, saying so.”

Sister Labianca, who spoke about the miracle accepted for Pope John’s beatification, worked in an Italian pediatric hospital with Sister Capitani in 1963 when, for the first time, she had a gastric hemorrhage in the middle of the night. “She panicked and woke me up.”

After months of treatment, doctors removed most of her stomach, which was covered with tumors, and her entire spleen and pancreas. At first she improved, but then she developed an external fistula, which leaked, Sister Labianca said. She was on the point of death May 22, 1966, when the assistant provincial of the Daughters of Charity brought her a relic, reportedly a piece of Pope John’s bed sheet.

“She put it on her wound in the hope that the Lord would come with his mercy and his love,” Sister Labianca said. “Suddenly, Sister Caterina woke from her stupor and no longer felt any pain,” instead she felt a hand on her wound and heard a voice calling, “Sister Caterina!”

“Frightened to hear a man’s voice” in her room, she turned and saw Pope John standing by her bed. He told her she was fine, and she went to tell the other sisters that she was healed and hungry, Sister Labianca said.

With the acceptance of her healing as a miracle, Pope John Paul beatified Pope John in 2001, and Sister Capitani was there. She died in 2010, more than 43 years after she was healed.

 

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