Home » Archive by category 'Uncategorized'

2014 was a year marked by millions suffering in the Middle East

By

Catholic News Service

The story of the Middle East in 2014 is one of war and displacement, broken families and tireless aid workers, and the rise of a new group one scholar referred to as “al-Qaida on steroids.”

It’s a story of populations stretched to the limit, but still welcoming more refugees as neighbors. And it’s a tale of religious leaders calling for prayer, meeting for dialogue and urging an end to the violence.

U.S. Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, N.Y., stands amid rubble from buildings destroyed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza. Bishop Malone visited Gaza Sept. 14 as part of 18 bishops' nine-day prayer pilgrimage for peace in the Holy Land. (CNS photo/Matt McGarry,

U.S. Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, N.Y., stands amid rubble from buildings destroyed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza. Bishop Malone visited Gaza Sept. 14 as part of 18 bishops’ nine-day prayer pilgrimage for peace in the Holy Land. (CNS photo/Matt McGarry)

The continuing civil war in Syria created what Antonio Guterres, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, called “the defining humanitarian challenge of our times.” His agency estimated in December that more than 3.3 million Syrian refugees lived in the neighboring countries of Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt.

UNHCR also estimated that, within Syria, 12.2 million people were in need, including 7.6 million people displaced from their homes. Of those displaced, half were children.

Amid the migration of Syrians to neighboring countries, a group calling itself the Islamic State began driving Christians, Yezidis and even Muslim minorities from parts of Syria and Iraq. The minorities told stories of the Islamic State group cutting off electricity for weeks ahead of the main troops’ arrival. When the militants arrived, minorities were told to convert to Islam, pay a protection tax or be killed.

Mary Habeck, associate professor in strategic studies at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, described the Islamic State, and its parent group, al-Qaida, as “merchants of violence” trying to “use Islam for their own purposes.” The groups are “a very tiny group of extremists that have decided that they understand what Islam is, and they are going to force the rest of the Muslim-majority world in their direction.”

After capturing Mosul, Iraq, in June, the Islamic State group declared a caliphate, or Islamic empire. Habeck said the group views itself as “the only legitimate government in the entire world.”

Faced with the choice of renouncing their faith or being killed, hundreds of thousands of Christians and other minorities in Iraq’s Ninevah province fled Mosul to places like Qaraqosh. Later, as Islamic State fighters advanced, the minorities fled again to cities like Irbil, Iraq, where they slept in churches or in tents in parks and on the streets.

The mass migration of Syrians and Iraqis, combined with Palestinians left homeless after a 50-day Israeli incursion into the Gaza Strip, created a huge challenge for international aid organizations, including those run by the Catholic Church. Most refugees in the Middle East do not live in camps, but in local communities. This placed a strain on the host countries.

Church agencies focused on helping those communities. For instance, between August and early November, Caritas Jordan registered 4,000 Iraqis; the agency helped more who did not register.

Lebanon, a country 70 percent the size of Connecticut, has a population of 4 million and hosted 1.5 million additional refugees.

Jordan, slightly smaller than Indiana, with a population of 6.5 million, recognized 44 different nationalities as refugees. From 1921 to 2011, Jordan had a $10 billion deficit; since the Arab Spring began in 2011, it has picked up an additional $10 billion deficit.

Although the Jordanian government welcomed those fleeing, for the past three years it said that 30 percent of any aid going to help Syrian refugees must help the host community. It set similar quotas when Iraqis began fleeing to Jordan in 2003, at the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Christian aid agencies tried to coordinate their work, focusing on various aspects of aid: One agency might help with mattresses and personal items; another might help with education.

Church agencies also coordinated aid in Gaza after the Israeli-Hamas war left 2,000 Palestinians dead, thousands injured and more than 100,000 people homeless.

In July, the Catholic aid agencies met three times in as many days, planning for Gazans’ psychosocial and material needs.

“We are talking about a massive number of people who will be in need of help, and of at least 200,000 children who will need intervention,” Sami El-Yousef, regional director of the Jerusalem office of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, told Catholic News Service in July.

During a May visit to the Holy Land, Pope Francis made an unscheduled stop to pray for peace before the controversial separation wall built by Israel throughout the West Bank land. He invited Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the Vatican to pray for peace.

Throughout the year, he made repeated calls for peace in the Middle East. In early October, he met with the region’s apostolic nuncios and top Vatican officials; later that month, he included a discussion on the Middle East during the Oct. 20 consistory of cardinals in order to let the region’s seven patriarchs, who were taking part in the Synod of Bishops, also attend the proceedings.

At that meeting, Pope Francis said the Middle East was experiencing “terrorism of previously unimaginable proportions” in which the perpetrators seem to have absolutely no regard for the value of human life.

The Mideast Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs as well as bishops from North America, Europe and Oceania visited the Holy Land and northern Iraq to express solidarity with their fellow Christians. And although patriarchs expressed concern about Christians fleeing the violence in northern Iraq, laypeople were not the only ones leaving the advance of Islamic State: Twelve Chaldean religious men and priests living in the United States, Canada, Australia and Sweden were suspended from exercising their priestly ministry for not receiving permission from their superiors before emigrating from Iraq.

Once the Iraqis and Syrians fled, they hoped for resettlement in another country. One refugee described waiting for resettlement as “miserable days doing nothing.” Almost all Iraqis interviewed by a variety of news sources said they would not return to their country.

Father Rifat Bader described the refugees: “They are teachers. They are normal people, very kind people.” Faith “is a part of their identity.”

The Iraqis, he said, “are knocking at the doors of the embassies” trying to get resettled. But after their initial appointment, they were being forced to wait six months for a second appointment, he said

 

Comments Off

In eastern Ukraine, church has ‘returned to catacombs,’ spokesman says

By

Catholic News Service

WARSAW, Poland — Ukrainian Catholic leaders have warned their church is being driven underground again, a quarter-century after it was re-legalized with the end of communist rule.

“In Crimea and eastern Ukraine, we’ve already effectively returned to the catacombs,” said Father Ihor Yatsiv, the church’s Kiev-based spokesman.

A man lights a candle in a temporary Ukrainian Catholic tent church in 2013 during anti-government protests in Kiev. Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych and other Ukrainian Catholic leaders have warned their church is being driven underground again, a quarter-century after it was re-legalized with the end of communist rule.(CNS photo/Tatyana Zenkovich, EPA) S

A man lights a candle in a temporary Ukrainian Catholic tent church in 2013 during anti-government protests in Kiev. Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych and other Ukrainian Catholic leaders have warned their church is being driven underground again, a quarter-century after it was re-legalized with the end of communist rule.(CNS photo/Tatyana Zenkovich, EPA) 

“It’s a sad paradox that history is being repeated just as we commemorate our liberation. But after a couple of decades of freedom, we again look set to lose our freedom,” he told Catholic News Service Dec. 18.

The priest spoke as Ukrainian Catholic communities in Russian-occupied Crimea approached a Jan. 1 deadline for re-registering under Russian law. He said the Byzantine Ukrainian Catholic Church had no legal status in Russia and would therefore be unable, in practice, to register.

Father Yatsiv said Russian and separatist forces had not officially refused to register Ukrainian Catholic parishes, but had ensured it was impossible because of the lack of legal provisions. He added that there was no effective government in separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine, where rebel groups did not recognize Ukrainian Catholics and were “imposing whatever rules and regulations they choose.”

Earlier in December, Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych told Austria’s Kathpress news agency that Crimea’s five Ukrainian Catholic parishes would find themselves “outside the law,” along with the territory’s Latin Catholic, Muslim and breakaway Orthodox communities.

“It’s ironic we’ve just been celebrating the 25th anniversary of our legalization in the former Soviet Union, but our right to legal activity will soon be withdrawn in various parts of our country,” Archbishop Shevchuk told Kathpress Dec. 12.

“There’s clearly no religious liberty already in Crimea and the occupied territories of the east, and I hope the international community will deploy its resources to restoring freedoms in the affected areas,” he said.

Ukrainian Catholics fled Crimea to escape arrests and property seizures after Russia annexed the region in March. Most church parishes have closed in Ukraine’s war-torn Luhansk and Donetsk regions, where separatists declared an independent “New Russia” after staging local referendums last spring.

Ukraine’s Catholic Caritas charity warned Dec. 11 of a “humanitarian catastrophe” this winter, with 490,000 people now registered as refugees, and 545,000 displaced abroad, mostly in Russia.

The Ukrainian Catholic Church makes up around a tenth of Ukraine’s 46 million inhabitants. It was outlawed under Soviet rule from 1946 to 1989, when many clergy were imprisoned and most church properties seized by the state or transferred to Russian Orthodox possession.

 

Comments Off

Commentary: No one should be hungry during the Christmas season

By

 

In early December, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) stopped feeding 1.7 million Syrian refugees.

 

For two weeks these poor, battered fellow human beings who had fled the misery of civil war, and the barbarism of the “Islamic State,” were told there is no money available for food; children, women and men went hungry

 

A Kurdish refugee child from the Syrian town of Kobani sits in front of a tent Oct. 18 in a camp on the Turkey-Syria border. Catholics have expressed concerns about bloodshed in the Middle East and see cause for action against the Islamic State militant group. (CNS photo/Kai Pfaffenbach,

A Kurdish refugee child from the Syrian town of Kobani sits in front of a tent Oct. 18 in a camp on the Turkey-Syria border. Catholics have expressed concerns about bloodshed in the Middle East and see cause for action against the Islamic State militant group. (CNS photo/Kai Pfaffenbach)

The WFP has been providing food assistance for 1.85 million Syrian refugees living in the host countries of Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt.

 

However, on Dec. 1 the WFP reported that it had run out of money to fund its electronic voucher program for 1.7 million Syrian refugees because many donor nation commitments were not being fulfilled.

 

Ten days later the WFP announced that following an unprecedented social media campaign, government donors had given over $80 million, thus allowing reinstatement of food assistance to the 1.7 million Syrian refugees for the rest of the month. This funding will also allow the WFP to meet some of the refugee needs in January.

 

But then what?

 

According to the WFP, Syrian refugees in camps throughout the region are ill prepared for the harsh winter, especially in Lebanon and Jordan, where many children are bare foot and without proper clothing. Many tents are drenched in mud, and hygiene conditions are worsening.

 

In addition to the Syrian region, the WFP and other international aid agencies like Catholic Relief Services, are desperately trying to respond to four other simultaneous level-3 emergencies, the U.N.’s most serious crisis designation – in Iraq, South Sudan, Central African Republic and the African nations plagued by the Ebola outbreak.

 

According Eric Mitchell, director of government of relations for Bread for the World, an anti-poverty Christian lobbying organization, the U.S. government needs to fully fund the Food for Peace program. He said Congress has authorized $2.5 billion, but that the budget for fiscal year 2015 actually only funds the program at $1.4 billion.

 

Mitchell added that Congress should allot significantly more money for food vouchers that can be immediately used in local markets, as compared to the more expensive and time consuming transfer of food on cargo ships.

 

He said excellent long-term programs like Feed the Future, which help to sustain long-term agriculture development and security, need to also receive increased funding from Congress.

 

As a Christmas gift to desperately hungry people, please contact your congressional delegation urging them to work for the improvements listed above.

 

And consider making a Christmas donation to the Catholic Relief Services (www.crs.org) or the World Food Program (www.wfp.org).

 

But what about after the Christmas season? What will happen to the 805 million hungry brothers and sisters of ours then?

 

What we do, or fail to do, to help answer these life and death questions, will determine how seriously, how faithfully, we take the birth of Jesus – Emmanuel, “God with us.”

 

 

 

Magliano, a syndicated social justice and peace columnist, lives in the Diocese of Wilmington.

 

 

 

 

 

Comments Off

Photo of the Week: Faithful service companion

December 18th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , , , ,

By

Guide dog is seen as Pope Francis arrives for special audience with Italian Blind Union at Vatican
A guide dog enjoys a spot in the front row as Pope Francis arrives to attend a special audience with Italian Blind Union at the Vatican Dec. 13. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Comments Off

Morning homily: Self-righteous rebels are doomed, repentant sinners are saved, pope says

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Only the repentant heart that is humble, open to correction and trusts completely in God will be saved, Pope Francis said.

Those whose hearts are proud, self-righteous and deaf to God’s voice and correction are doomed, the pope said Dec. 16 at his morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta

Pope Francis greets a boy as he arrives to celebrate Mass at St. Joseph Parish in Rome Dec. 14. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis greets a boy as he arrives to celebrate Mass at St. Joseph Parish in Rome Dec. 14. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

, where he lives.

“The people who are humble, lowly and trust in the Lord, they are the ones who are saved, and this is the way of the church, right? It has to go down this path, not the other one, which doesn’t listen to the voice (of God), doesn’t accept correction and doesn’t trust in the Lord,” he said, according to Vatican Radio.

The pope’s homily focused on the day’s readings, first from the Book of Zephaniah (3:1-2, 9-13), in which the Lord condemns the “rebellious and polluted” city, which does not hear or trust in God and accepts no correction. God will remove “the proud braggarts” and leave behind “a people humble and lowly,” the reading says. The Gospel reading from St. Matthew (21:28-32) shows Jesus asking the chief priests and elders to decide who is more obedient to God’s will: the son who refuses, but then repents and goes as commanded to work in the vineyard, or the son who agrees right away but does not go.

The two readings, the pope said, talk about judgment, salvation and condemnation.

“When we see a holy people of God that is humble, whose wealth is in its faith in the Lord, in its trust in the Lord,” he said, “they are the ones who are saved.”

The Gospel account of the two sons, he said, can be seen today with Christians who declare that they are “pure” just because they go to Mass and receive Communion.

But God wants something more, the pope said. He wants them to honestly open their hearts and courageously lay bare all of their sins.

Even people who generously give their lives in service to others, who work with the poor, help the church, there is still something missing that God wants: a list of their sins, the pope said.

“When we are able to tell the Lord, ‘Lord these are my sins, not the sins of that one or the other, these are mine. They are mine. You take them and that way I will be saved’; when we are able to do this we will be that beautiful people, a humble and lowly people, who trust in the Lord,” the pope said.

Among those invited to attend the morning Mass were the three women religious from the United States who were in Rome for the presentation of a final report ending a Vatican-ordered investigation of U.S. communities of women religious.

Mother Mary Clare Millea, superior general of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the apostolic visitor appointed by the Vatican, told reporters during a news conference about the report that the pope’s morning homily was “an awesome experience.”

She said the pope’s final comments about Jesus asking everyone to “give me your sins; I was very struck by that because we all have our shortcomings, all of our congregations, we’ve all come up short on many aspects in living our fidelity, and I thought that was a beautiful message to all of us.”

The Vatican’s final report calling on the women to discern how best to live the Gospel in fidelity to their orders’ founding ideals was “very pastoral,” she said.

“It challenges each of us, every one of our congregations, to turn all of that over to Jesus so that he can work great things through us, and I think that was the message I received from the Holy Father this morning,” she said.

 

Comments Off

Something for Joey: Seaford parishioner builds a chapel’s altar

By

For The Dialog

 

SEAFORD – Bob Gay’s father was a Baltimore architect who helped design hospitals in Baltimore and Salisbury, Md. His grandfather, a German immigrant, was a cabinetmaker.

So after a career in sales, it came as no surprise that Gay combined his lifelong interest in woodworking with his father’s eye for design and detail.

With no training in carpentry or design, Gay began building things — a desk for a granddaughter; toys for underprivileged children; cradles and beds for dolls. And, for Our Lady of Lourdes Church, he’s built an altar, credence table, tabernacle, a giving tree; and stadium-style seating in the choir loft. Read more »

Comments Off

Calix Society provides faith component to A.A.’s 12 steps

December 11th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , ,

By

Dialog Editor

 

For Charlie A., it was a one-word prayer he uttered when he hit bottom, “help.” That started his road in recovery.

He was a 20-year-old alcoholic. Today he recalls his plea more than 30 years ago as “a surrender, an absolute surrender.”

Joe C. remembers losing his career in finance and being homeless, sleeping under the Verrazano Bridge.

“I said a prayer deep in my heart for help,” Joe said. “The next night I was at an A.A. meeting.” Read more »

Comments Off

Catholic theologians decry sin of racism, pledge to work for justice

By

This year the “hope for a just peace” that is Advent “must face the flagrant failures of a nation still bound by sin, our bondage to and complicity in racial injustice,” said a group of Catholic theologians.

“The killings of black men, women and children … by white policemen, and the failures of the grand jury process to indict some of the police officers involved, brought to our attention not only problems in law enforcement today, but also deeper racial injustice in our nation, our communities and even our churches,” they said.

A Los Angeles protester with arms raised participates in a Nov. 25 march following the grand jury decision in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. More than 300 U.S. theologians issued a statement Dec. 8 decrying the "pervasive sin of racism" and vowing to fight for justice for African-Americans and other minorities. (CNS photo/Lucy Nicholson, Reuters)

A Los Angeles protester with arms raised participates in a Nov. 25 march following the grand jury decision in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. More than 300 U.S. theologians issued a statement Dec. 8 decrying the “pervasive sin of racism” and vowing to fight for justice for African-Americans and other minorities. (CNS photo/Lucy Nicholson, Reuters)

By midday Dec. 10, more than 310 theologians from all over the United States had signed on to the statement posted on the website www.catholicmoraltheology.com, which is a project of North American Catholic moral theologians.

The Dec. 8 statement was issued in response to, among other incidents, the decision by grand juries in Missouri and New York not to indict white police officers in the deaths of two African-American males — the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and the chokehold death of Eric Garner on Staten Island, New York.

Garner’s final words, “I can’t breathe,” continue to be chanted in the streets by protesters around the country, the theologians noted. His words, along with “Jesus breathing on his disciples, telling them, ‘Peace be with you,’ gives his disciples, then and now, the power and obligation to raise our voices” for a just peace, they said.

Quoting from the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” the theologians said his words resonate as much today as they did then. “The ‘cup of endurance runs over’ again for African-Americans and many others of good will. Our streets are filled with those exhausted by the need to explain yet again why we can’t wait (for justice).”

Rev. King, they said, “challenged ‘white moderate’ Christians for being ‘more devoted to order than to justice’ and for preferring ‘a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.’” Pope Francis, too, has warned “of the explosive consequences of exclusion and fearful seeking of security based on such a negative peace,” the theologians said.

“As Catholic theologians, we wish to go on the record in calling for a serious examination of both policing and racial injustice in the U.S.,” the statement said. “The time demands that we leave some mark that U.S. Catholic theologians did not ignore what is happening in our midst, as the vast majority sadly did during the 1960s Civil Rights movement.”

Among other actions the theologians said they would:

• “Examine within ourselves our complicity in the sin of racism and how it sustains false images of white superiority in relationship to black inferiority.”

• “Fast and to refrain from meat on Fridays during this Advent season and through the seasons of Christmas and Epiphany, as well as during Lent, as a sign of our penitence and need of conversion from the pervasive sin of racism.”

• “Commit ourselves to placing our bodies and/or privilege on the line in visible, public solidarity with movements of protest to address the deep-seated racism of our nation.”

– “Commit ourselves to further teaching and scholarship on racial justice. Our faith teaches us that all persons are created in the image of God and have been redeemed in Christ Jesus.”

The theologians said they support police, “whose work is indeed dangerous at times,” but called for “a radical reconsideration of policing policy in our nation” and “an end to the militarization of police departments. … We support instead the proven, effective results of community policing.”

They urged “a honing of the guidelines for police use of lethal force so that they are uniform in all states … and so that the use of lethal force, echoing Catholic teaching on ‘legitimate defense,’ is justified only when an aggressor poses a grave and imminent threat to the officer’s and/or other persons’ lives.”

The group said it supported calls “for better recruiting, training and education” for all police so they will truly “serve and protect” their communities.

The theologians said establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission is necessary to examine racism in the United States. They called for appointing independent special prosecutors to look into police shootings, since dissatisfaction with the grand jury system is widespread. The group also said the U.S. Department of Justice must investigate whether excessive use of force is a pattern for some police departments, such as in Ferguson and New York City.

“We call upon our bishops to proactively proclaim and witness to our faith’s stand against racism,” the group said. “They have authored pastoral statements in the past, and these documents need to be revisited, in parishes, dioceses, and seminaries, and brought to the forefront of Catholic teaching and action in light of the present crisis.”

Among the U.S. bishops’ documents is their 1979 pastoral letter “Brothers and Sisters to Us,” which said that “racism is a sin: a sin that divides the human family, blots out the image of God among specific members of that family, and violates the fundamental human dignity of those called to be children of the same Father.”

The theologians prayed that “all of these actions will move us closer toward the fulfillment of the hope of the Advent season, toward a time when ‘love and truth will meet; justice and peace will kiss’ (Psalm 85:10).”

 

Comments Off

‘Posadsas’ and Christmas Masses in Spanish

December 11th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

By

Christians throughout Latin America celebrate a novena before Christmas of meditations and feasts inviting participants to give shelter to the newborn King in their lives. Posadais the Spanish word for “to take shelter” or “to take in.”

Hispanic communities invite the entire community to take the Christ child in our hearts in Posada celebrations.

1212.posadasDec. 16: Posadas

  • 7 p.m.—Holy Cross, Dover
  • 7 p.m.—–Immaculate Conception, Marydel, Md.
  • 7 p.m.—–Our Lady of LourdesSeaford

Dec. 19: Posadas

  • 6 p.m.——Good Shepherd, Perryville, Md.

December 20 — Advent Masses with Posadas:

  • 7 p.m — Our Lady of Fatima, New Castle
  • 7 p.m.—- St. Agnes, Rising Sun, Md.
  • 7 p.m.—–St. Catherine of Siena, Wilmington
  • 7 p.m.—- Ss. Peter & Paul, Easton, Md.

Dec. 21–Advent Masses with Posadas:

  • 1 p.m.— Holy Rosary, Claymont
  • 2 p.m.——St. Joseph, Middletown
  • 4 p.m.—–St. Dennis, Galena, Md.

Tuesday, Dec. 23–Posadas

  • 7 p.m.— St. Francis de Sale, Salisbury, Md.

Christmas Eve, Dec. 24:

  • 7 p.m.— Our Lady of Lourdes, Seaford, with Posadas at 5 p.m.
  • 7 p.m.—–St. Dennis/, Galena, Md.
  • 7 p.m.—: St. Francis de Sales, Salisbury, Md.
  • 7:30 p.m.—–Holy Angels, Newark
  • 7:45 p.m.—–Our Lady of Guadalupe, Roxanne, with Posadas 7 p.m.
  • 8 p.m.—–St. Elizabeth, Westover, Md., with Posadas at 7 p,m.
  • 8 p.m.——St. Mary, Refuge of Sinners, Cambridge, Md.
  • 8 p.m.—–Ss. Peter & Paul, Easton, Md.
  • 8:30 p.m.—–St. Catherine of Siena, Wilmington
  • 9 p.m.—–Holy Cross, Dover
  • 9 p.m.——-Immaculate Conception, Marydel, Md
  • 9 p.m.——-Our Lady of Fatima, New Castle
  • 9 p.m.——-St. Paul, WilmingtonE with caroling at 8:p.m.
  • 10 p.m.—Holy Rosary, Claymont
  • 10 p.m. –St. John the Apostle, Milford, Posadas 7 p.m.
  • 10 p.m.–St. Michael the Archangel, Georgetown, with Posadas at 7 p.m.

Christmas

  • 10 a.m.–St. Paul/, Wilmington, bilingual
  • 12 noon–St. Michael the Archangel, Georgetown
  • 7 p.m.–St. Agnes, Rising Sun, Md.

Dece. 31: Feast of Mary & New

• 7 p.m.—-Holy Angels, Newark

• 7 p.m.—-Immaculate Conceptio, Marydel, Md.

  • 7 p.m.—-Our Lady of Fatima, New Castle
  • 7 p.m.—-Our Lady of Guadalupe, Roxanne
  • 7 p.m.—-St. Catherine of Siena, Wilmington
  • 7:00 PM:–St. Francis de Sales, Salisbury, Md.
  • 7 p.m.— Holy Cross, Dover
  • 10 p.m.– St. Michael the Archangel, Georgetown

 January 1: Feast of Mary & New Year

  • 10 a.m.–St. Paul, Wilmington: bilingual
  • 11 p.m.— St. Mary, Refuge of Sinnersa, Cambridge, Md.
  • 7:30 p.m.–Ss. Peter & Paul, Easton, M

 

 

Comments Off

Auditor general post added to Vatican’s financial reforms, Cardinal Pell says

December 5th, 2014 Posted in Uncategorized

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — In ongoing efforts to strengthen the oversight of the Vatican’s finances, an auditor general will be appointed who will have the power to audit any Vatican agency and be a lay expert who is answerable only to the pope, said Cardinal George Pell.

Australian Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy, wrote recently that the Vatican is not broke but until  recently implemented accounting standards and reforms, it had been “impossible for anyone to know accurately what was going on overall.” (CNS/Paul Haring)

Australian Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy, wrote recently that the Vatican is not broke but until recently implemented accounting standards and reforms, it had been “impossible for anyone to know accurately what was going on overall.” (CNS/Paul Haring)

The massive overhaul of the Vatican’s current accounting and budgeting procedures has also revealed that the Vatican’s economic situation is “much healthier than it seemed,” the cardinal said in an exclusive article for the London-based Catholic Herald magazine Dec. 4.

The brighter financial picture emerged after the secretariat discovered “some hundreds of millions of euros were tucked away in particular sectional accounts and did not appear on the balance sheet,” he wrote.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters Dec. 5 that the money did not represent “illegal, illicit or badly managed funds,” but was money that was never included in the Vatican’s old system of budgeting and reporting.

The previous financial statements of the Holy See and Vatican City State that used to be publicly reported every year never “in any way included all the numerous administrative offices based at the Vatican, but just the main institutions of the Curia and the (Vatican City) State,” Father Lombardi said in a written statement.

Until the Vatican recently implemented modern accounting standards and reforms, it had been “impossible for anyone to know accurately what was going on overall,” Cardinal Pell wrote in his article, since all the Vatican’s “congregations, councils and, especially the Secretariat of State enjoyed and defended a healthy independence.”

It had been a long-established system, “just as kings had allowed their regional rulers, princes or governors an almost free hand, provided they balanced their books, so too did the popes with the curial cardinals (and) as they still do with diocesan bishops,” he wrote.

Even though this principle of subsidiarity, letting diocesan and religious orders locally manage their finances, remains “the only option” for the world’s huge Catholic community, the Vatican may send bishops’ conferences “the new set of financial procedures and chart of accounts introduced in November this year in the Vatican” for the bishops’ “consideration and use,” Cardinal Pell wrote.

Even non-Catholic institutions could benefit from what the Vatican is learning and doing, the cardinal suggested, noting that a “senior delegation from the United States, mainly evangelicals, (recently) came to discuss our work.”

One person in the delegation said “he was praying for the success of the financial reforms because he wanted the Vatican to be a model for the world, not a source of scandal. This is our aim, too,” the cardinal wrote.

Cardinal Pell emphasized that “the Vatican is not broke. Apart from the pension fund, which needs to be strengthened for the demands on it in 15 or 20 years, the Holy See is paying its way, while possessing substantial assets and investments.”

“Eventually, all investments will be made through Vatican Asset Management, controlled by an expert committee, which will offer a range of ethical investment options, with varying degrees of risk and return, to be chosen by individual agencies such as congregations,” he wrote, emphasizing that “prudence” will have priority over risky, high-gain returns.

Another substantial addition to the Vatican’s new financial reforms will be the auditor general, a layperson “answerable to the Holy Father, but autonomous and able to conduct audits of any agency of the Holy See at any time,” who will be appointed in 2015.

Having a “separation of powers” is key to all basic oversight structures and is one of the three basic principles, together with standardized procedures and transparency, that are guiding the Vatican reforms.

The principles “are not original and not exactly rocket science,” he wrote, but they are critical to reforming outdated practices.

He said the reforms are “well under way” and well past the point of anyone being able “to return to the ‘bad old days.’”

“These reforms are designed to make all Vatican financial agencies boringly successful, so that they do not merit much press attention,” he wrote.

“Donors expect their gifts to be handled efficiently and honestly,” he wrote, so that the church can continue its work, especially in evangelization and helping the poor.

“A church for the poor should not be managed poorly,” the cardinal wrote.

 

Comments Off
Marquee Powered By Know How Media.