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Now Hiring: Vatican ambassador is unique post in U.S. diplomatic corps

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — As the U.S. president’s personal envoy to the Vatican, the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See has a unique role in building a bridge between the political center of the United States and the religious-spiritual center of the universal Catholic Church in Rome. Read more »

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Investigation into German choir finds more than 500 boys were abused — Updated

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — More than 500 boys suffered abuse at the hands of dozens of teachers and priests at the school that trains the prestigious boys choir of the Regensburg Cathedral in Germany, said an independent investigator.

Peter Schmitt and Alexander Probst, representing victims who claimed abuse while members of the boys choir at the cathedral in Regensburg, Germany, are seen Oct. 12, 2016. (CNS photo/Armin Weigel, EPA)

Peter Schmitt and Alexander Probst, representing victims who claimed abuse while members of the boys choir at the cathedral in Regensburg, Germany, are seen Oct. 12, 2016. (CNS photo/Armin Weigel, EPA)

Former students of the Domspatzen choir reported that the physical, emotional and even sexual abuse at the school made life there like “a prison, hell and a concentration camp,” said Ulrich Weber, the lawyer leading the investigation of claims of abuse at the choir and two associated boarding schools.

A “culture of silence” among church leaders and members allowed such abuse to continue for decades, Weber said as he presented the final report on his findings during a press conference in Regensburg July 18.

The investigation, commissioned by the Diocese of Regensburg, found that at least 547 former members of the Regensburg Domspatzen boys choir in Germany were subjected to some form of abuse, according to Vatican Radio. Of those victims, 67 students were victims of sexual violence, the radio said.

The 440-page report, which spanned the years between 1945 and the early 1990s, found highly plausible accusations against 49 members of the church of inflicting the abuse, with nine of them accused of being sexual abusive. The Diocese of Regensburg and the Domspatzen choir supplied links to the report and related news stories or resources on their respective web sites: www.bistum-regensburg.de and www.domspatzen.de.

In the report, Weber sharply criticized Cardinal Gerhard Muller, who was bishop of Regensburg from 2002 until 2012, when Pope Benedict appointed him to head the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Then-Bishop Muller had “a clear responsibility” in the “strategic, organizational and communication weaknesses” that marked the process he launched of reviewing allegations. Cardinal Muller had ordered the creation of a commission to investigate and search through diocesan archives in the wake of the 2010 abuse crisis.

But in an interview with TV2000, the satellite television station owned by the Italian bishops’ conference, Cardinal Muller denied he had not done enough as bishop of Regensburg.

“I launched the process of investigation” when abuse claims increasingly emerged in 2010, he said in the interview, which aired July 20.

Time, resources and assistance were dedicated to “offering justice to victims,” he said, and he personally set up a team of experts and appealed to victims to come forward.

“Those responsible for abuse are relatively few and a number of them are dead,” he said, adding that “unfortunately we can’t put dead people on trial, but whatever could be done, juridically and pastorally, the diocese did, just as it does today.”

He said the elementary school where the choir boys studied was “institutionally independent from the diocese” and that, at the time, it was also very reserved, “very closed, nobody could go in.”

“Perhaps there were rumors, but they never reached the diocese,” the cardinal said.

One of the first Domspatzen student-victims to come forward in 2010 with allegations of sexual abuse, Alexander Probst, told Deutsche Welle July 18 that he had been very frustrated and angry with the way then-Bishop Muller reacted to his claims. He said the bishop accused him of denouncing the church.

In the interview, whose link could be found on the Regensburg boys’ choir website, Probst said he felt the bishop actively protected abusers, and that “it got even worse when he was appointed head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; it was like putting a fox in charge of the henhouse.”

“It was only after the new bishop of Regensburg, Rudolf Voderholzer, realized that there was much more to all this than met the eye when things began to get better. Starting in 2015, he personally wanted to cooperate with us,” Probst said.

Widespread news of the suspected abuse first emerged in 2010 as religious orders and bishops’ conferences in Germany, Austria and the Netherlands were faced with a flood new allegations of the sexual abuse of children, mainly at Catholic schools.

The boys’ choir had been led between 1964 and 1994 by Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, the older brother of retired Pope Benedict XVI.

In an interview with the German newspaper Passauer Neue Presse in 2010, Msgr. Ratzinger apologized to victims at his former school, even though he said he had been unaware of the alleged incidents.

“There was never any talk of sexual abuse problems, and I had no idea that molestation was taking place,” the priest said, as he recalled his 30 years as the school’s choirmaster.

Msgr. Ratzinger had said when he served at the school, “there was a climate of discipline and rigor … but also of human understanding, almost like a family.” He knew that the priest who headed the school from 1953 until his death in 1992 had slapped boys in the face, but said he had not considered such punishments “particularly brutal.”

“If I’d known the exaggerated vehemence with which the director acted, I would have reacted,” he said in the 2010 interview.

In his report, Weber said Msgr. Ratzinger should have known about at least some cases of physical violence, but that his role “was still not at all clear.”

Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, told Vatican Radio the new report shows how Bishop Voderholzer “has taken seriously all the allegations” and is “very courageous in taking on an issue that has been looming for many years.”

It is only now that the facts have become “plain, in the light of day” because of establishing and cooperating with a professional, independent investigation, he said.

This latest report should inspire church leaders around the world, Father Zollner said, “so that they do the same today because this will help, first of all, those who have been harmed in the past.”

 

Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz.

 

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Trial begins for former-Vatican hospital officials

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Two former top Vatican hospital officials appeared before a Vatican court for a pretrial hearing on allegations of embezzlement.

Giuseppe Profiti, who was president of Bambino Gesu hospital from 2008 to 2015, and Massimo Spina, the former treasurer, appeared with their lawyers before Vatican magistrates July 18 in a nearly two-hour preliminary hearing, led by the presiding Vatican judge, Paolo Papanti-Pelletier.

A pretrial hearing has been held for the embezzlement trial of two former-Vatican hospital officials who are charged with embezzlement. The opening proceedings for the 'VatiLeaks' case as seen in 2015 in a Vatican courtroom. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

A pretrial hearing has been held for the embezzlement trial of two former-Vatican hospital officials who are charged with embezzlement. The opening proceedings for the ‘VatiLeaks’ case as seen in 2015 in a Vatican courtroom. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

A court clerk read the charges, which the Vatican had made public July 13: Profiti, 55, and Spina, 57, were accused of an illicit appropriation and use of funds belonging to the Bambino Gesu Foundation to pay Gianantonio Bandera, an Italian contractor, to refurbish an apartment belonging to Vatican City State. The apartment was used as the residence of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, former Vatican secretary of state.

The indictment said Profiti and Spina extracted more than 420,000 euros for “completely non-institutional ends” by using the money to refurbish Vatican property in order “to benefit Gianantonio Bandera’s company.” It said the alleged crime was committed in Vatican City State and spanned from November 2013 to May 28, 2014, the time period that the contractor’s seven invoices were dated and paid for, according to news reports.

Lawyers for the defendants made their pretrial motions, beginning with Antonello Blasi, Profiti’s attorney.

He asked that Vatican-accredited journalists not be present in the courtroom to “avoid eventual disturbances,” according to the pool report. Journalists had made “signs of approval and disapproval” during other Vatican trials, Blasi said, and he asked the court to make a livestream of the trial available to reporters in another room.

Alfredo Ottaviani, Spina’s lawyer, agreed, suggesting that he and his client felt “a bit pressured” with reporters looking on from behind.

The Vatican prosecutor, Gian Piero Milano, dismissed the motion, saying an exception would only be made in extreme cases regarding “morals or public order.” In a case like this one, he said according to the pool report, having journalists be present was “necessary” and in the “public interest.”

The defense lawyers then challenged the Vatican tribunal’s jurisdiction, saying that even though the hospital foundation has extraterritorial status as Vatican property, its address is in Italy, not inside Vatican City State proper. They also said the presumed crime occurred in the United Kingdom where the payments ended up, destined for an Italian contractor. Ottaviani also said that while the foundation is a Vatican entity, the presumed crime was attributed to subjects or persons “outside the Vatican.”

Vatican co-prosecutor Roberto Zannotti dismissed the arguments and reaffirmed that newly expanded Vatican laws approved of in 2013 very clearly define who is considered a Vatican “public official” and that there was “not the slightest debt that the alleged crime occurred while Profiti and Spina were acting as public officials, so Vatican laws applied to them.

Zannotti added that the funds were extracted from the Vatican’s procurement agency, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See; the allegation of misappropriation centers on from where the funds are taken, a Vatican account, and not where those funds eventually ended up, the Vatican prosecutor said.

After the preliminary hearing, prosecutors opened the floor to other arguments presented by the defense lawyers.

Among the arguments, Blasi requested the court hear witnesses all the same day in order to avoid “contamination,” implying public knowledge of a witness’s testimony might affect other witnesses’ accounts later.

Ottaviani argued that his client, even though he was treasurer of the foundation, had no power or authority to transfer assets, adding that a letter written by Cardinal Bertone had been submitted to the court to prove Spina’s lack of authority. The lawyer then said if the letter were not enough proof, he would like to call the cardinal as a witness.

The presiding judge, Papanti-Pelletier, said the court would make its decision on the requests at a later date and set Sept. 7-9 for a new round of hearings.

If found guilty, Profiti and Spina can face between three and five years in prison and fines starting at 5,000 euros.

According to letters released by investigative news reports, Profiti wrote Cardinal Bertone in late 2013, allegedly offering to pay for remodeling his residence using the foundation money in exchange for being able to use the top floor of the residence for work-related gatherings.

In a letter of reply the next day, the cardinal allegedly accepted the proposal, adding that he would make sure the costs were taken care of by a “third party” so that the foundation would not have to pay. However, the cardinal later said he paid the Vatican, which owns the apartment, 300,000 euros with his own money to cover the costs and had been unaware the foundation had already paid the contractor.

Mariella Enoc, current hospital president, told reporters in late 2015, “Cardinal Bertone never directly received money (from the hospital’s foundation), but recognized that we suffered a loss and, therefore, assisted us with a donation of 150,000 euros.”

Giuseppe Dalla Torre, president of the tribunal of Vatican City State, was not be part of the trial proceedings because he is a member of the Bambino Gesu hospital’s board of directors.

 

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Former Vatican hospital officials indicted for illegal use of funds

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Vatican magistrates have formally indicted two former officers of the Vatican’s pediatric hospital on charges of illegally using funds to help finance the remodeling of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone’s apartment.

Giuseppe Profiti, who was president of Bambino Gesu hospital until 2015, and Massimo Spina, the former treasurer, will be called to appear before Vatican judges beginning July 18, the Vatican press hall announced in a statement July 13. If the two men do not present themselves to the court on the opening trial date, they will be charged with contempt, the Vatican statement said.

Pope Francis blesses a sick child in Paul VI hall at the Vatican last year during a meeting with patients and workers of Rome's Bambino Gesu children's hospital. The Vatican announced on July 13 that two former officers of the Vatican’s pediatric hospital have been indicted on charges of illegally using funds(. CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

Pope Francis blesses a sick child in Paul VI hall at the Vatican last year during a meeting with patients and workers of Rome’s Bambino Gesu children’s hospital. The Vatican announced on July 13 that two former officers of the Vatican’s pediatric hospital have been indicted on charges of illegally using funds(. CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

After a more-than-yearlong Vatican investigation, Profiti, Spina and their lawyers were notified of the charges June 13 and had until July 11 to supply evidence for their defense.

Giuseppe Dalla Torre, president of the tribunal of Vatican City State, will not be part of the trial proceedings because he is a member of the Bambino Gesu hospital’s board of directors, Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, told reporters.

According to the Vatican announcement, Profiti, 55, and Spina, 57, were being charged with illicit use of funds belonging to the Bambino Gesu Foundation to pay Gianantonio Bandera, an Italian contractor, to refurbish an apartment belonging to Vatican City State and used as the residence of Cardinal Bertone, former Vatican secretary of state.

It said Profiti and Spina were paid more than 420,000 euros for “completely non-institutional ends” by using the money to refurbish Vatican property in order “to benefit Gianantonio Bandera’s company.” It said the alleged crime committed in Vatican City State spanned from November 2013 to May 28, 2014, the time period that the contractor’s seven invoices were dated and paid for, according to news reports.

Profiti, who had been president of the hospital since 2008, resigned in January 2015, less than a year into a renewed three-year term, amid rumors of the alleged financing. The revelations emerged after Emiliano Fittipaldi, a journalist acquitted in a Vatican trial in 2016 for publishing allegedly stolen Vatican documents, published his findings in early 2016.

Based on Fittipaldi’s investigation and according to letters published by L’Espresso magazine March 31, 2016, Profiti wrote the cardinal in late 2013, allegedly offering to pay for the remodeling using the foundation money in exchange for being able to use the top floor of the cardinal’s residence for work-related gatherings.

In a letter of reply the next day, the cardinal allegedly accepted the proposal, adding that he would make sure the costs were taken care of by a “third party” so that the foundation would not have to pay.

Mariella Enoc, current hospital president, told reporters in late 2015, “Cardinal Bertone never directly received money (from the hospital’s foundation), but recognized that we suffered a loss and, therefore, assisted us with a donation of 150,000 euros.”

Cardinal Bertone repeatedly disputed news reports about the size of the apartment and its cost, and he insisted that he personally paid the Vatican, which owns the apartment, for the work done.

Cardinal Bertone was not under investigation.

Profiti had been sentenced with six months’ house arrest while he was still hospital president after being found guilty in 2008 of bribes and kickbacks when assigning or promising contracts to companies bidding for providing food services to public schools and hospitals in the cities of Genoa and Savona. At the time, Profiti had been the head of the region of Liguria, where the cities are found in northern Italy. At least four others were found guilty in the same investigation.

 

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Jesuit journal decries fundamentalist tones emerging in U.S. politics

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — U.S. politics have become increasingly colored by an apocalyptic world view, promoted by certain fundamentalist Christians, that fosters hatred, fear and intolerance, said an influential Jesuit magazine.

In fact, this world view shares some similarities with Islamic fundamentalism since “at heart, the narrative of terror shapes the world views of jihadists and the new crusaders” and is drawn from wellsprings “that are not too far apart,” said La Civilta Cattolica, the Jesuit journal reviewed by the Vatican before publication. Read more »

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‘No greater love’ — Pope opens new ‘heroic act’ path to sainthood

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has approved a fourth pathway to possible sainthood — giving one’s life in a heroic act of loving service to others.

In a new apostolic letter, the pope approved new norms allowing for candidates to be considered for sainthood because of the heroic way they freely risked their lives and died prematurely because of “an extreme act of charity.”

Pope Francis celebrates the canonization Mass for seven new saints in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican in October 2016. On July 11, the pope  approved a new pathway to possible sainthood — giving one’s life in a heroic act of loving service to others. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis celebrates the canonization Mass for seven new saints in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican in October 2016. On July 11, the pope approved a new pathway to possible sainthood — giving one’s life in a heroic act of loving service to others. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The document, given “motu proprio” (on his own initiative) went into effect the same day of its publication July 11, with the title “Maiorem hac dilectionem,” which comes from the Gospel according to St. John (15:13): “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

Archbishop Marcello Bartolucci, secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Saints’ Causes, said the addition is meant “to promote heroic Christian testimony, (that has been) up to now without a specific process, precisely because it did not completely fit within the case of martyrdom or heroic virtues.”

For centuries, consideration for the sainthood process required that a Servant of God heroically lived a life of Christian virtues or had been martyred for the faith. The third, less common way, is called an equivalent or equipollent canonization: when there is evidence of strong devotion among the faithful to a holy man or woman, the pope can waive a lengthy formal canonical investigation and can authorize their veneration as saints.

While these three roads to sainthood remain unchanged, they were not adequate “for interpreting all possible cases” of holiness, the archbishop wrote in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, July 11.

According to the apostolic letter, any causes for beatification according to the new pathway of “offering of life” would have to meet the following criteria:

  • Free and willing offer of one’s life and a heroic acceptance, out of love, of a certain and early death; the heroic act of charity and the premature death are connected.
  • Evidence of having lived out the Christian virtues, at least in an ordinary, and not necessarily heroic, way, before having offered one’s life to others and until one’s death.
  • Evidence of a reputation for holiness, at least after death.
  • A miracle attributed to the candidate’s intercession is needed for beatification.

Archbishop Bartolucci wrote that the new norms arise from the sainthood congregation wanting to look into the question of whether men and women who, “inspired by Christ’s example, freely and willingly offered and sacrificed their life” for others “in a supreme act of charity, which was the direct cause of death,” were worthy of beatification. For example, throughout history there have been Christians who willingly put themselves at risk and died of infection or disease because of aiding and serving others, he wrote.

Pope Francis approved the congregation carrying out an in-depth study of the new proposal in early 2014, the archbishop wrote. After extensive input, discussion and the work of experts, the cardinal and bishop members of the Congregation for Saints’ Causes approved in 2016 “a new pathway for beatification of those who offered their lives with explicit and recognized Christian” reasons.

Archbishop Bartolucci wrote that the new provisions do nothing to alter church doctrine concerning Christian holiness leading to sainthood and the traditional procedure for beatification.

Rather, the addition offers an enrichment, he wrote, with “new horizons and opportunities for the edification of the people of God, who, in their saints, see the face of Christ, the presence of God in history and the exemplary implementation of the Gospel.”

 

Follow Glatz on Twitter: @CarolGlatz.

 

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Vatican asks bishops to ensure valid bread and wine are used for Eucharist

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Bishops should look at ways to help verify and guarantee the validity and worthiness of the bread and wine used for the celebration of the Eucharist, the Vatican said in a recent document.

Because bread and wine for the Eucharist are no longer supplied just by religious communities, but “are also sold in supermarkets and other stores and even over the internet,” bishops should set up guidelines, an oversight body and/or even a form of certification to help “remove any doubt about the validity of the matter for the Eucharist,” the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments said.

Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, right, Concelebrates Mass during the "Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America" July 2 in Orlando, Fla.  Bishops should look at ways to help verify and guarantee the validity and worthiness of the bread and wine used for the celebration of the Eucharist, the Vatican said in a recent document. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, right, Concelebrates Mass during the “Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America” July 2 in Orlando, Fla. Bishops should look at ways to help verify and guarantee the validity and worthiness of the bread and wine used for the celebration of the Eucharist, the Vatican said in a recent document. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

The recommendations came in a circular letter, “On the bread and wine for the Eucharist,” sent to diocesan bishops “at the request of the Holy Father, Pope Francis.” Dated June 15, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, the letter was made public by the Vatican July 8. The letter was signed by Cardinal Robert Sarah, congregation prefect, and Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary.

Because the church requires certainty regarding the conditions necessary for the validity of the sacraments, the congregation offered some suggestions so that bishops can continue to “watch over the quality of the bread and wine” as well as “those who prepare these materials.”

The congregation underlined that every bishop “is bound to remind priests, especially parish priests and rectors of churches, of their responsibility to verify those who provide the bread and wine for the celebration and the worthiness of the material.”

Bishops must also provide information to the producers of the bread and wine for the Eucharist and to remind them of the absolute respect that is due to the norms, it said. Producers “must be aware that their work is directed toward the eucharistic sacrifice and that this demands their honesty, responsibility and competence,” it added.

The congregation suggested ordinaries offer guidance, for example, by “guaranteeing the eucharistic matter through special certification.”

Bishops may want to agree on and establish “concrete regulations” on the national level through their bishops’ conferences, it suggested.

“Given the complexity of situations and circumstances, such as a decrease in respect for the sacred, it may be useful to mandate a competent authority to have oversight in actually guaranteeing the genuineness of the eucharistic matter by producers as well as those responsible for its distribution and sale,” the Vatican congregation wrote.

A competent authority, for example, could be “one or more religious congregations or another body capable of carrying out the necessary checks on production, conservation and sale of the eucharistic bread and wine in a given country and for other countries to which they are exported,” it wrote.

The letter also reiterated norms already in place regarding eucharistic matter:

  • “The bread used in the celebration of the most holy eucharistic sacrifice must be unleavened, purely of wheat, and recently made so that there is no danger of decomposition.”
  • Bread made from another substance, even grain or mixed with another substance so different from wheat that it would not commonly be considered wheat bread, “does not constitute valid matter.”
  • The introduction of any other substances, “such as fruit or sugar or honey, into the bread for confecting the Eucharist,” it said, “is a grave abuse.”
  • Low-gluten hosts are valid matter for people who, “for varying and grave reasons, cannot consume bread made in the usual manner,” provided the hosts “contain a sufficient amount of gluten to obtain the confection of bread without the addition of foreign materials and without the use of procedures that would alter the nature of bread.’
  • Completely gluten-free hosts continue to be “invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist.”
  • Wine used in the celebration of the eucharistic “must be natural, from the fruit of the grape, pure and incorrupt, not mixed with other substances,” well conserved and have not soured.
  • “It is altogether forbidden to use wine of doubtful authenticity or provenance.”
  • No other drinks of any kind may not be admitted “for any reason, as they do not constitute valid matter.”
  • For people who, for varying and grave reasons, cannot consume wine fermented in the normal manner, “mustum” is valid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist. Mustum is grape juice that is either fresh or preserved by methods that suspend its fermentation without altering its nature, for example, by freezing.
  • Eucharistic matter made with genetically modified organisms can be considered valid matter.
  • Permission must be given by the ordinary for an individual priest or layperson to use low-gluten hosts or mustum for the celebration of the Eucharist. “Permission can be granted habitually, for as long as the situation continues which occasioned the granting of permission.”

People who live with celiac disease are unable to digest gluten, a type of protein commonly found in grains such as rye, barley and wheat. There also are people who live with nonceliac gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity whose health can be adversely affected by gluten.

The U.S. bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship has said Catholics who cannot receive Communion wafers at all, even under the species of low-gluten hosts, “may receive Holy Communion under the species of wine only.” The church teaches that “under either species of bread or wine, the whole Christ is received,” it said.

Medical certification of a condition justifying the use of mustum or low-gluten hosts for Communion is not required, the committee said.

 

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Pope’s children’s hospital is fixing past problems, says cardinal overseer

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — While there had been problems and complaints in the past, the Vatican-owned Bambino Gesu Children’s Hospital was working resolve them, said Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, who oversees the hospital.

Pope Francis blesses a sick child in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Dec. 15, 2016, during a meeting with patients and workers of Rome's Bambino Gesu children's hospital. Responding to an Associated Press investigation, a top Vatican official said there had been past problems at the hospital, but that the current administration was making a "serious effort to resolve them." (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

Pope Francis blesses a sick child in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Dec. 15, 2016, during a meeting with patients and workers of Rome’s Bambino Gesu children’s hospital. Responding to an Associated Press investigation, a top Vatican official said there had been past problems at the hospital, but that the current administration was making a “serious effort to resolve them.” (CNS photo/Max Rossi, Reuters)

In responding to an investigative report by the Associated Press, the cardinal told the AP July 4 there had been past problems at the hospital, but that the hospital’s current administration, put in place in 2015, was making a “serious effort to resolve them.”

The AP reported July 3 that the Vatican formed a commission in 2014 to study workers’ complaints and concerns about unsafe medical protocols, overcrowding and a culture that emphasized practices that might reap greater revenues.

An external audit by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2014 determined the hospital’s mission “had been modified in the last few years” by emphasizing expansion and revenues without adequate governance, according to the AP.

In January 2015, the Vatican assembled a team to conduct an announced onsite inspection of the hospital. That team, led by U.S. Sister Carol Keehan — a Daughter of Charity and president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association — determined the commission’s report was unfounded and praised the quality of care at the hospital.

Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, confirmed in a written statement July 3 that “After hearing complaints about care at the hospital three years ago, the Holy See moved quickly and decisively to study them seriously. After collecting the criticism, a clinical team was commissioned to look at the accusations and visit the hospital. The team found an exceptional level of care at the hospital, and that the accusations were unfounded.”

“The sole critical note concerned inadequate space in intensive care units, something hospital officials are aware of and working to improve,” Burke wrote.

He said the church “welcomes any efforts to help improve that care in its hospitals, including reports of practices that might be below standard. No hospital is perfect, but it is false and unjust to suggest that there are serious threats to the health of children at Bambino Gesu.”

Cardinal Parolin told AP that some of the problems reported by former and current hospital staff in 2014 had been “truly unfounded,” but that “there was an attempt, and there is currently an attempt and serious effort to resolve” those problems that had been confirmed.

Meanwhile, the hospital’s president, Mariella Enoc, told the AP July 4 that the climate at the hospital had become “more serene” since she was appointed by Cardinal Parolin in early 2015. She said she was calling for more open communication and urging people to come forward with any problems in order to talk “and not keep it inside and then have it explode.”

Enoc was appointed after the resignation of Giuseppe Profiti, who had been president of the hospital since 2008. He left less than a year into a renewed term right before the January 2015 onsite Vatican inspection of the hospital, amid rumors that a significant amount of money from the foundation supporting the children’s hospital was used to help finance the remodeling of the apartment of former Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

Profiti and Massimo Spina, former treasurer of the hospital, were then subjected to a Vatican investigation in connection to the financing case.

In November 2015, Cardinal Parolin put in a new board of advisers at the Bambino Gesu Foundation with a new set of statutes aimed improving the fundraising body’s transparency.

In December 2015, Pope Francis established a special pontifical commission to study entities operating in the name of the Catholic Church in the field of health care. The body, under the guidance of Cardinal Parolin, who also named Enoc as one of its members, aims to study and propose ways to increase efficiencies, improve governance and collaboration, and protect the religious mission and charisms of the clinics, hospitals or institutes.

When Pope Francis met with staff and patients of the Bambino Gesu hospital Dec. 15, 2016, he emphasized how all those working in the field of health care must help their patients and be on guard against falling down the slippery slope of corruption that begins with special favors, tips and bribes.

“The worst cancer in a hospital like this is corruption,” he said. “In this world where there is so much business involved in health care, so many people are tricked by the sickness industry, Bambino Gesu hospital must learn to say no. Yes, we all are sinners. Corrupt, never.”

 

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Pope tells archbishops not to be ‘armchair Catholics,’ but apostles

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The Catholic Church’s new cardinals and new archbishops must be willing to risk everything, patiently endure evil and bear crosses like Jesus did, Pope Francis said.

“The Lord answers our prayers. He is faithful to the love we have professed for him, and he stands beside us at times of trial.” Just as he accompanied the apostles, “he will do the same for you,” the pope told five new cardinals and about 30 archbishops named during the past year.

Pope Francis presents a box containing a pallium to Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, N.J., at the conclusion of Mass marking the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican June 29. New archbishops from around the world received their palliums from the pope. The actual imposition of the pallium will take place in the archbishop's archdiocese. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis presents a box containing a pallium to Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, N.J., at the conclusion of Mass marking the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 29. New archbishops from around the world received their palliums from the pope. The actual imposition of the pallium will take place in the archbishop’s archdiocese. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis addressed the new cardinals and archbishops during his homily at a Mass in St. Peter’s Square June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, who are the patron saints of the Vatican and the city of Rome.

The Mass was celebrated the day after Pope Francis created new cardinals from El Salvador, Mali, Laos, Sweden and Spain. Thirty-six archbishops appointed over the course of the past year were also invited to come to Rome to concelebrate the feast day Mass with Pope Francis. They came from 26 countries.

The concelebrants included Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey; and Archbishops Paul D. Etienne of Anchorage, Alaska; and Charles C. Thompson of Indianapolis. All three of the U.S. prelates have deep connections to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. Archbishop Etienne was a priest of the archdiocese and Cardinal Tobin is the former archbishop.

In what has become the standard practice, the pope did not place the pallium on new archbishops during the liturgy. Rather, after the Mass, the pope handed each archbishop a pallium folded up in a small, simple wooden box tied with a brown ribbon as a soloist sang “You Got to Walk that Lonesome Valley,” a traditional American gospel song.

The actual imposition of the woolen band was to take place in the archbishop’s archdiocese in the presence of his faithful and bishops from neighboring dioceses. The pallium symbolizes an archbishop’s unity with the pope and his authority and responsibility to care for the flock the pope entrusted to him.

After the Mass, Cardinal Tobin told Catholic News Service that St. John XXIII had said “cardinals and bishops are the coat hangers on which the church hangs its tradition. Now I don’t like being a coat hanger, but the thing I like to wear the most is the pallium.”

Being made of lamb’s wool, the pallium is a reminder of “the need and really the obligation of the bishop to look for the one who is lost and then bring the lost one back on his shoulders,” the cardinal said. “I hope to do that in Newark.”

Archbishop Etienne noted that the pallium also is “symbolic of the unity of the metropolitan archbishops with the Holy Father and, through him, with the universal church.”

It tells an archbishop that his role is to be a good shepherd to his flock, “to help the people entrusted to my pastoral care to learn to live in unity and peace, to manifest that truth and love of Jesus Christ and the Gospel,” he said.

“The role of every priest, and particularly every bishop, is to be more and more transformed into Christ and that’s my prayer,” Archbishop Etienne said. “And then whatever burdens come and challenges, I’ll find my peace because I will be firmly convinced in experiencing his presence with me.”

Archbishop Thompson told CNS he received the pallium from Pope Francis as a gift for the sixth anniversary of his ordination as a bishop.

Pope Francis “has been such a great model, example and witness, and to receive this from him,” the archbishop said, is “a reminder to go forth. I think about Jesus at the Last Supper when he washed the feet of the disciples and said, ‘Now, go and do as I have done.’”

Archbishop Thompson said he kept watching Pope Francis during the Mass and looking at the pallium the pope wears as a symbol of the universality of his mission. “I watched him in his role of being the shepherd” and knew the pope was calling him “now to go forth and be that shepherd for the people entrusted to my care.”

In his homily at the Mass, the pope said the life of every apostle is built on: constant, edifying prayer; a firm, passionate profession of faith; and a willingness to patiently endure persecution.

People must ask themselves whether they are “armchair Catholics, who love to chat about how things are going in the church and the world,” he said, or if they are “apostles on the go,” who are on fire with love for God and ready to offer their lives for him.

Apostles of Christ “know that they cannot just tread water or take the easy way out, but have to risk putting out into the deep, daily renewing their self-offering,” he said.

Christians must follow the Lord completely and live according to his ways, not ways guided by personal self-interest, he said. Christ’s way “is that of new life, of joy and resurrection; it is also the way that passes through the cross and persecution.”

In different parts of the world, “often in complicit silence, great numbers of Christians are marginalized, vilified, discriminated against, subjected to violence and even death, not infrequently without due intervention on the part of those who could defend their sacrosanct rights,” the pope said.

However, there is no Christ and no Christian without the cross, he said. “Christian virtue is not only a matter of doing good, but of tolerating evil as well,” he said, quoting St. Augustine.

Enduring evil means “imitating Jesus, carrying our burden, shouldering it for his sake and that of others,” knowing that the Lord is by one’s side.

Finally, the pope said, prayer is another essential element of the life of an apostle as it “is the water needed to nurture hope and increase fidelity. Prayer makes us feel loved and it enables us to love in turn.”

As is customary, a delegation from the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople attended the Mass for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Before the Mass, Archbishop Job of Telmessos, head of the Orthodox delegation, joined the pope in prayer at the tomb of St. Peter inside St. Peter’s Basilica. The two also stopped before a bronze statue of St. Peter, which was adorned with a jeweled tiara, ring and red cope.

Contributing to this story were Cindy Wooden and Junno Arocho Esteves.

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Francis: Christians fight evil with love, sacrifice, not with violence

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Christians are called to detach themselves from power, reject violence and sacrifice themselves for God and others out of love, Pope Francis said.

Christians must live the way Christ chose to: not as “persecutors, but persecuted; not arrogant, but meek; not as snake-oil salesmen, but subservient to the truth; not impostors, but honest,” he said June 28 during his weekly general audience.

Pope Francis greets a baby during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican June 28. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis greets a baby during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 28. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

In fact, “Christians find repugnant the idea that suicide attackers might be called martyrs because there is nothing in their purpose that can come close to the behavior of children of God,” who are called always to act out of love, he told the estimated 12,000 pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square.

High temperatures and scattered sprinkles prompted the pope to tell guests in the Vatican audience hall that he was about to head outside to a “Turkish bath.”

In his weekly catechesis, the pope continued his series on Christian hope by focusing on what gives Christians strength and perseverance in the face of opposition, hatred and persecution.

Jesus dispelled all “mirages of easy success,” the pope said, and he warned his disciples that proclaiming the kingdom of God would come at a high price as “you will be hated by all because of my name.”

“Christians love, but they are not always loved,” the pope said.

Because the world is marked by sin, selfishness, injustice and hostility, he said, it is normal that Christians are expected to go against the current and live the way Christ lived and taught.

The Christian lifestyle must be marked by “poverty,” he said, noting how Jesus talks to his disciples more about “stripping” themselves than about “getting dressed.”

“Indeed, a Christian who is not humble and poor, detached from wealth and power and, above all, detached from him- or herself, does not resemble Jesus,” he said.

Christians journey forth into the world with the bare essentials, except their heart, which should be overflowing with love, he added.

In the Gospel of Matthew (10:16-22), Jesus warned his disciples that he was sending them “like sheep in the midst of wolves.” They could be shrewd and prudent, the pope said, but never violent because evil can never be defeated with evil.

That is why Jesus sent his people into the world like himself, as sheep — without sharp teeth, without claws, without weapons — Pope Francis said. In fact, “true defeat” for a Christian is to succumb to the temptation of responding to the world’s resistance and hatred with violence, revenge and evil.

The only weapons Christians possess are the Gospel and the hopeful assurance that God is always by their side, especially in the worst of times.

Persecution, then, doesn’t contradict the Gospel, it is part of its very nature, because if the Lord was hated and persecuted, the pope said, “how can we ever hope that we should be spared this battle?”

Yet, “in the great midst of the maelstrom, Christians must not lose hope, believing they have been abandoned,” he said.

Christians know that in their midst, there is always a divine power greater than all evil, “stronger than the Mafia, murky conspiracies, (stronger) than those who profit off the lives of the desperate, those who crush others with arrogance,” he said.

On the eve of the feast of the martyred Sts. Peter and Paul and just a few hours before he was to create new cardinals whose red robes symbolize martyrdom, Pope Francis underlined the real meaning of martyrdom in his catechesis.

“Martyrs do not live for themselves, they do not fight to assert their own ideas, and they accept having to die only out of fidelity to the Gospel” and with love, which is the highest ideal in Christian life, he said.

This, the pope said, is the strength that animates and sustains people facing so much hardship: knowing that “nothing and no one can separate them from God’s love given to us in Jesus Christ.”

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