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Vatican Letter: Pope Francis’ pro-life challenge: Respect all life, oppose death penalty

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ recent statement that the death penalty is incompatible with the Gospel focused less on a government’s role in protecting its people and more on the need to defend the sacredness and dignity of every human life. Read more »

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Risky papal behavior? Pope Francis calls interviews ‘a risk I want to take’

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Replying to questions and giving interviews are a “pastoral risk” Pope Francis said he is prepared to take, because it is the best way to know and respond to people’s real concerns.

“I know this can make me vulnerable, but it is a risk I want to take,” the pope wrote in the introduction to a new book collecting transcripts of question-and-answer sessions he has held all over the world.

Pope Francis gestures during a general audience talk last month in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The collection in Italian, “Adesso Fate le Vostre Domande” (“Now, Ask Your Questions”), was edited by Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro and scheduled for release Oct. 19. The pope’s introduction was published Oct. 17 in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

“I want a church that knows how to enter into people’s conversations, that knows how to dialogue,” Pope Francis wrote.

The model is the Gospel account of the risen Lord’s meeting with the disciples on the road to Emmaus. “The Lord interviews the disciples who are walking discouraged,” he said. “For me, the interview is part of this conversation the church is having with men and women today.”

The interviews and Q & A sessions “always have a pastoral value,” Pope Francis said, and are an important part of his ministry, just like inviting a small group of people to his early morning Mass each day.

The chapel of the Casa Santa Marta, where he lives, “is, let’s say, my parish. I need that communication with people.”

And, in interviews, the journalists often ask the questions that are on the minds of the faithful, he said.

The most regular appointment he has for responding to questions is on the flights back to Rome from his foreign trips when he holds a news conference with the journalists who travel with him.

“There, too, on those trips, I like to look people in the eye and respond to their questions sincerely,” he wrote. “I know that I have to be prudent, and I hope I am. I always pray to the Holy Spirit before I start listening to the questions and responding.”

His favorite interviews, he said, are with small, neighborhood newspapers and magazines. “There I feel even more at ease,” the pope said. “In fact, in those cases I really am listening to the questions and concerns of common people. I try to respond spontaneously, in a conversation I hope is understandable, and not with rigid formulas.”

“For me,” he said, “interviews are a dialogue, not a lesson.”

Even when the questions are submitted in advance, the pope said he does not prepare his answers. Watching the person ask the question and responding directly is important.

“Yes, I am afraid of being misinterpreted,” he said. “But, I repeat, I want to run this pastoral risk.”

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Pope says catechism needs to be explicitly against death penalty

October 12th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

The death penalty, no matter how it is carried out, “is, in itself, contrary to the Gospel,” Pope Francis said. Read more »

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Pope names Cardinal Burke a judge on Vatican supreme court

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has named U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke a member of the Apostolic Signature, the church’s supreme court, which the cardinal headed as prefect from 2008 to 2014.

Pope Francis has named U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke a member of the Apostolic Signature, the church’s highest court, which the cardinal headed from 2008-2014. Cardinal Burke is pictured leaving a papal audience to exchange Christmas greetings with members of the Roman Curia at the Vatican in this Dec. 22, 2016, file photo. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Members of the Apostolic Signature serve as judges in the cases, which mainly involve appeals of lower-court decisions or of administrative decisions by other offices of the Holy See.

The appeals involve everything from challenges to the decisions of marriage tribunals to recourse against the dismissal of a religious, the transfer of a parish priest, the restriction of a priest’s ministry, removal of ministerial faculties, renovation of a parish church and dismissal from a teaching position.

Cardinal Burke’s nomination was met with surprise in some quarters because he continues to speak publicly about issuing a formal “fraternal correction” of Pope Francis over the pope’s teaching in “Amoris Laetitia,” his exhortation on the family. But the public criticism of the pope did not prevent Pope Francis in late 2016 from naming Cardinal Burke the presiding judge in a church trial investigating allegations of sexual abuse leveled against Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron of Agana, Guam. The results of the investigation and trial have not been announced.

The pope’s nomination of Cardinal Burke, 69, was announced at the Vatican Sept. 30. Also named to the Apostolic Signature were Cardinals Agostino Vallini, the retired papal vicar of Rome, and Edoardo Menichelli, retired archbishop of Ancona, Italy. Cardinal Vallini was prefect of the court from 2004 to 2008; as a priest, Cardinal Menichelli had worked at the Apostolic Signature for more than 20 years. Two others also were named members: Belgian Archbishop Frans Daneels, who retired as secretary of the court in 2016; and Auxiliary Bishop Johannes Willibrordus Maria Hendriks of Haarlem-Amsterdam, a canon lawyer.

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Politicians must help people overcome fear of migrants, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Politics as service to the common good and the need to create spaces where citizens and migrants can meet and overcome fear were topics Pope Francis repeatedly returned to Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.

Pope Francis greets people at the “Regional Hub,” a government-run processing center for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, in Bologna, Italy, Oct. 1. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

Arriving in Bologna mid-morning Oct. 1, Pope Francis went to the “Regional Hub,” a government-run processing center for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. He was given, and wore, a yellow ID bracelet with his name and a number, just like the migrants and refugees there wear.

Just four days after he kicked off Caritas Internationalis’ “Share the Journey” campaign to encourage Catholics to meet a migrant or refugee and listen to his or her story, Pope Francis told the 1,000 people at the hub, “Many people don’t know you and they’re afraid.”

The fear “makes them feel they have the right to judge and to do so harshly and coldly, thinking they see clearly,” the pope said. “But it’s not true. One sees well only up close, which gives mercy.”

“From far away, we can say and think anything, like easily happens when they write terrible phrases and insults on the internet,” the pope said.

But, he told them, “if we look at our neighbor without mercy, we run the risk of God looking at us without mercy.”

Pope Francis, after shaking hands with each of the migrants and refugees, said he saw “only a great desire for friendship and assistance.”

The integration of newcomers begins with knowing one another, he said. “Contact with the other leads to discovering the secret that each person carries and also the gift that he or she represents.”

“Each of you has your own story,” he said, and “this story is something sacred. We must respect it, accept it and welcome it, and help you move forward.”

“Do you know what you are?” the pope asked them. “You are fighters for hope.”

Too many of their peers never made it to Europe’s shores because they died in the desert or in the sea, he said. “People don’t remember them, but God knows their names and welcomes them to him. Let’s all take a moment of silence, remembering them and praying for them.”

Pope Francis had begun his Sunday early, arriving shortly after 8 a.m. in Cesena to mark the 300th anniversary of the birth of Pope Pius VI.

Meeting the public in the main square of the city of 97,000 people, Pope Francis focused on the obligations of both citizens and politicians in working together for the common good.

Cities and nations need “good politics,” which is a form of governance not enslaved to “individual ambitions or the highhandedness of factions,” he said. Authentic politics promotes collaboration and requires a balance of courage and prudence.

It “increases people’s involvement, their progressive inclusion” he said, and it “does not leave any category at the margins” nor does it “sack and pollute natural resources — these, in fact, are not a bottomless well but a gift given by God for us to use with respect and intelligence.”

The social teaching of the Catholic Church sees politics, when motivated by concern for the common good, to be “a noble form of charity,” he said.

Being a good politician means carrying a cross, he said, “because many times he or she must set aside personal ideas and take up the initiatives of others, harmonizing and combining them so that it really will be the common good that is promoted.”

A good politician, he said, must be morally upright, patient and strong enough to live with the fact that very little will be perfect.

“And when the politician errs,” he said, he or she should be strong enough to say, ‘“I made a mistake, forgive me.’ And go forward. This is noble.”

The pope had spoken about politics and immigration the previous day as well, meeting at the Vatican with mayors and other members of Italy’s national association of municipalities.

Pope Francis urged them to oppose “one-way streets of exasperated individualism” and “the dead ends of corruption,” as well as cities that move at two speeds: the express lanes of the rich and privileged and the barely passable alleys of “the poor and unemployed, large families, immigrants and those who have no one to count on.”

Cities should not be raising walls or towers, he said, but enlarging public squares, giving each person space and helping them “open to communion with others.”

“I understand the discomfort many of your citizens feel with the massive arrival of migrants and refugees,” the pope told the mayors, many of whom lead cities and towns that have welcomed hundreds of people.

The fear, he said, “finds its explanation in an innate fear of the ‘stranger,’ a fear aggravated by the wounds of the economic crisis,” but also by a lack of careful preparation for welcoming so many people throughout the country.

“This discomfort,” the pope said, “can be overcome by offering spaces for personal encounter and mutual knowledge. So welcome all those initiatives that promote the culture of encounter, the exchange of artistic and cultural riches and knowledge about the homes and communities of origin of the new arrivals.”

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Vatican, former auditor give differing accounts of resignation

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The first person to serve as the Vatican’s independent auditor said he was forced to resign after opponents of Pope Francis’ financial reforms mounted a campaign against him.

Pope Francis meets Libero Milone, then the Vatican’s auditor general, at the Vatican April 1, 2016. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

But the Vatican press office responded Sept. 24, saying Libero Milone, “going outside his competencies, illegally hired an external company to undertake investigative activities about the private lives of representatives of the Holy See.”

“This, besides being a crime, irremediably strained the trust placed in Dr. Milone,” the statement said. It added that the Vatican’s internal investigation of his actions was conducted with care and respect.

Without providing an explanation, the Vatican in June announced that Milone turned in a letter of resignation, which was accepted by Pope Francis. Milone had been in office just two years, although he had a five-year contract.

The position of auditor general was seen as a key component of Pope Francis’ efforts to reform Vatican finances and bring greater transparency in financial dealings. According to statutes issued by Pope Francis, the auditor general has the power to audit the books of any Vatican office and reports directly to the pope.

Milone, 68, an Italian accountant and expert in corporate risk management, was chairman of Deloitte Italy and served three years as a member of the audit committee of the United Nations’ World Food Program.

The Vatican statement Sept. 24 expressed surprise that Milone had gone to the news agency Reuters and other news outlets when, at the time he left the Vatican, he had agreed not to discuss the circumstances of his leaving.

Milone told Reuters his troubles had begun on the morning of Sept. 27, 2015, when he suspected that his office computer had been tampered with. He contacted an external company that had done work for him before to check for surveillance devices “because there are no such specialized people” in the Vatican.

The company discovered that his computer had been the target of an unauthorized access, and that his secretary’s computer had been infected with spyware that copied files, he told Reuters.

But Archbishop Angelo Becciu, Vatican undersecretary of state, told Reuters there was proof that the outside contractor had been helping Milone to spy on others, “including me.” The archbishop added, “If he had not agreed to resign, we would have prosecuted him.”

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Mercy can scandalize those who don’t see their own sin, pope says

September 21st, 2017 Posted in Vatican News

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Celebrating the feast of St. Matthew, the anniversary of the day when as a 17-year-old he said he was overwhelmed by God’s mercy, Pope Francis said it was interesting how many Catholics today seem to be scandalized when God shows mercy to someone.

Pope Francis gives the homily during morning Mass Sept. 19 in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta at the Vatican. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

In his homily at Mass in the Casa Santa Marta Sept. 21, Pope Francis looked in depth at the day’s short Gospel story of the calling of St. Matthew.

The story, the pope said, has three parts: “the encounter, the celebration and the scandal.”

Jesus sees Matthew, a tax collector — “one of those who made the people of Israel pay taxes to give to the Romans, a traitor to his country” — and calls him to follow. Jesus looks at him “lovingly, mercifully” and “the resistance of that man who wanted money, who was a slave to money, falls.”

“That man knew he was a sinner,” the pope said. “He was liked by no one and even despised.” But it was “precisely that awareness of being a sinner that opened the door to Jesus’ mercy. He left everything and followed.”

“The first condition for being saved is knowing you are in danger,” he said. “The first condition for being healed is feeling sick.”

In the Gospel story, Matthew celebrates by inviting Jesus for a meal. Pope Francis said it reminded him of what Jesus said in the Gospel of St. Luke, “There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 righteous people who have no need of repentance.”

But, the pope said, the Pharisees saw Jesus with Matthew and were scandalized that he would eat with tax collectors and sinners.

The Pharisees were people who continually repeated, “The law says this, doctrine says that,” the pope said. “But they forgot the first commandment of love and were closed in a cage of sacrifices, (saying), ‘We make our sacrifices to God, we keep the Sabbath, we do all we should and so we’ll be saved.’”

But, the pope said, “God saves us, Jesus Christ saves us and these men did not understand. They felt secure; they thought salvation came from them.”

In the same way today, he said, “we often hear faithful Catholics who see mercy at work and ask, ‘Why?’”

There are “many, many, always, even in the church today,” the pope said. “They say, ‘No, no you can’t, it’s all clear, they are sinners, we must send them away.’”

But, Pope Francis said, Jesus himself answered them when he said, “I have come not to call the just, but sinners.” So, “if you want to be called by Jesus, recognize you are a sinner.”

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Vatican calls any nuclear threat against North Korea ‘deplorable’

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The Holy See ratified and signed the new U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and the high-level Vatican diplomat who signed the treaty told a U.N. conference that the Catholic Church supports efforts “to move progressively toward a world free of nuclear weapons.”

North Koreans watch a news report of an intermediate-range ballistic missile launch on a big screen at Pyongyang station in Pyongyang, North Korea, Aug. 30. (CNS photo/Kyodo via Reuters)

Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Vatican foreign minister, signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons at the United Nations Sept. 20. More than 40 other countries signed it as well. The treat would enter into force 90 days after at least 50 countries both sign and ratify it.

Also at the United Nations, Archbishop Gallagher addressed the 10th Conference on Facilitating Entry into Force of Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, a treaty the Vatican adhered to in 1996. The text of his speech was released at the Vatican Sept. 21.

The Vatican, he said, believes “a nuclear test ban, nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament are closely linked and must be achieved as quickly as possible under effective international control.”

But delays in getting eight more countries to ratify the treaty mean that it still has not entered into force. “Two decades without the treaty’s entry into force have been two decades lost in our common goal of a world without nuclear weapons,” Archbishop Gallagher said.

The treaty, he said, “is all the more urgent when one considers contemporary threats to peace, from the continuing challenges of nuclear proliferation to the major new modernization programs of some of the nuclear weapons states.”

“The rising tensions over North Korea’s growing nuclear program are of special urgency,” he said. “The international community must respond by seeking to revive negotiations. The threat or use of military force have no place in countering proliferation, and the threat or use of nuclear weapons in countering nuclear proliferation are deplorable.”

“Nuclear arms offer a false sense of security,” the archbishop said. “Peace and international stability cannot be founded on mutually assured destruction or on the threat of annihilation.”

The new treaty signed by the Vatican bans testing, but also bans efforts to develop, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. The United States and other countries possessing nuclear weapons did not take part in the negotiations and do not plan to sign the treaty.

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Pope cites St. Frances Cabrini as exemplar of ministry to immigrants

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Although she died 100 years ago, St. Frances Cabrini is a shining example of “love and intelligence” in ministering to the needs of immigrants and helping them become integral members of their new homelands, Pope Francis said.

Responding to “the great migrations underway today” the same way Mother Cabrini did “will enrich all and generate union and dialogue, not separation and hostility,” Pope Francis said in a letter to Sister Barbara Louise Staley, superior of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which the saint founded.

St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, who died 100 years ago, is a shining example of “love and intelligence” in ministering to the needs of immigrants and helping them become integral members of their new homelands, Pope Francis said in a letter to Mother Cabrini’s order this week. This stained-glass window is at the saint’s shrine chapel in the Washington Heights section of New York City. (CNS file photo)

Mother Cabrini arrived in New York in 1889 to work with Italian immigrants, setting up orphanages, schools and hospitals in nine U.S. cities. Naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1909, she died in Chicago Dec. 22, 1917.

The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Jesus were holding their general assembly Sept. 17-23 at the National Shrine of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Chicago.

In her work, particularly among Italian immigrants to the United States, Mother Cabrini “focused attention on situations of greatest poverty and fragility, such as the needs of orphans and miners,” the pope wrote in his letter, which was released at the Vatican Sept. 19.

Mother Cabrini also demonstrated “a lucid cultural sensitivity” by making sure she was in constant contact with local authorities, the pope said.

“She undertook to conserve and revive in the immigrants the Christian tradition they knew in their country of origin, a religiosity which was sometimes superficial and often imbued with authentic popular mysticism,” he wrote. “At the same time, she offered ways to fully integrate with the culture of the new countries so that the Missionary Mothers accompanied the Italian immigrants in becoming fully Italian and fully American.”

With dialogue and help integrating, he said, “the human and Christian vitality of the immigrants thus became a gift to the churches and to the peoples who welcomed them.”

While Mother Cabrini and the sisters had a specific mission to assist the immigrants and strengthen their faith, he said, Catholics today cannot forget “that is the vocation of every Christian and of every community of the disciples of Jesus.”

On a more personal note, Pope Francis told the sisters, “I assure you of my remembrance and prayers with deep affection, both because I have always known the figure of Mother Cabrini and because of the special concern I devote to the cause of immigrants.”

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Vatican diplomat recalled from U.S. during child-porn investigation

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — A member of the Vatican diplomatic corps serving in Washington has been recalled to the Vatican where he is involved in a criminal investigation involving child pornography, the Vatican said.

People are seen outside the Vatican Embassy, or apostolic nunciature, in Washington in 2014. A member of the Vatican diplomatic corps serving in Washington has been recalled to the Vatican where he is involved in a criminal investigation involving child pornography, the Vatican said. (CNS photo/Tyler Orburn)

The Vatican press office said Sept. 15 that it was notified Aug. 21 by the U.S. State Department “of a possible violation of laws relating to child pornography images by a member of the diplomatic corps of the Holy See accredited to Washington.”

“The Holy See, following the practice of sovereign states, recalled the priest in question, who is currently in Vatican City,” the press office said.

The Associated Press reported that the State Department confirmed it had asked the Vatican to lift the official’s diplomatic immunity. It said that request was denied.

The Vatican said the priest’s identity and other details are covered by “investigative confidentiality” during the preliminary investigation stage. The Vatican yearbook lists the nuncio, Archbishop Christoph Pierre, and three priests as making up the diplomatic staff at the Washington nunciature.

After receiving the notification from the State Department, the Vatican said, “the Secretariat of State transmitted this information to the promoter of justice of the Vatican tribunal.” The promoter of justice is the Vatican’s chief prosecutor.

“The promoter of justice opened an investigation and has already commenced international collaboration to obtain elements relative to the case,” the Vatican said.

Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office, said the investigation is concentrated on matters defined as “crimes against children” in the Vatican’s 2013 “Supplementary Norms on Criminal Law Matters.”

Specifically, he said, the investigation is referring to what the law defines as “child pornography,” which “means any representation, by whatever means, of a minor engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities as well as any representation of the sexual parts of a minor for primarily sexual purposes.”

Burke also referred reporters to section 10 of the supplementary norms, which discuss criminal penalties for a person found guilty of producing or selling and trading child pornography; in those cases Vatican law foresees a maximum of 12 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $299,000.

     

Contributing to this story was Junno Arocho Esteves at the Vatican.

       

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