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Pope confirms appointment of Opus Dei prelate

January 24th, 2017 Posted in Vatican News Tags: , ,

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis confirmed the election of Spanish Msgr. Fernando Ocariz as the new prelate of Opus Dei.

The 72-year-old monsignor, who had been auxiliary vicar of Opus Dei, was elected and confirmed by the pope Jan. 23, the first day of voting by Opus Dei’s electoral congress, a gathering of priests and laymen.

Spanish Msgr. Fernando Ocariz, pictured in Rome in 2016, was elected Jan. 23 as the new head of the prelature of Opus Dei. His appointment was confirmed the same day by Pope Francis. (CNS photo/courtesy of Opus Dei)

Spanish Msgr. Fernando Ocariz, pictured in Rome in 2016, was elected Jan. 23 as the new head of the prelature of Opus Dei. His appointment was confirmed the same day by Pope Francis. (CNS photo/courtesy of Opus Dei)

Opus Dei is a personal prelature, which is in some ways like a diocese without geographic boundaries.

Msgr. Ocariz succeeds Bishop Javier Echevarria, who died in December.

Born in Paris in 1944 to a family exiled during the Spanish civil war, Msgr. Ocariz graduated from the University of Barcelona with a degree in physical sciences in 1966.

Prior to receiving his licentiate in theology from Rome’s Pontifical Lateran University in 1969, he lived in Rome in an Opus Dei house along with St. Josemaria Escriva, the Opus Dei founder. He also received a doctorate in theology from the University of Navarra in 1971, the same year of his ordination.

Msgr. Ocariz serves as a consultor to several Vatican offices, including the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for Clergy and the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization.

The process that led to Msgr. Ocariz’s election began Jan. 21 with a consultation involving more than three dozen women who are members of the Central Advisory.

The advisory submitted a list with the name or names of those priests in the Opus Dei electoral congress who they believed were suited for the role of prelate.

 

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Church must accompany couples before, after marriage, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — To ensure engaged couples are entering into a fully Catholic marriage and remain committed to their vows for life, they must be prepared properly beforehand and supported afterward, Pope Francis said.

Addressing members of the Roman Rota, a tribunal handling mostly marriage cases, the pope said the church cannot ignore that there is a “widespread mentality” that is convinced eternal truths do not exist and, therefore, that many young people approaching the church for marriage do not understand what the sacrament is and that it is for life.

Pope Francis talks with Msgr. Pio Vito Pinto, dean of the Roman Rota, and Father Maurice Monier, pro-dean, during a meeting inaugurating the judicial year of the Roman Rota at the Vatican Jan. 21. The Roman Rota is the highest appellate court in the Catholic Church; it mainly handles marriage cases. (CNS photo L'Osservatore Romano, handout)

Pope Francis talks with Msgr. Pio Vito Pinto, dean of the Roman Rota, and Father Maurice Monier, pro-dean, during a meeting inaugurating the judicial year of the Roman Rota at the Vatican Jan. 21. The Roman Rota is the highest appellate court in the Catholic Church; it mainly handles marriage cases. (CNS photo L’Osservatore Romano, handout)

“Such a context, lacking religious values and faith, cannot help but condition matrimonial consent,” one of the essential conditions for a Catholic marriage to be valid, the pope told the Rota members Jan. 21.

The response of the Catholic Church, he said, must be to provide serious preparation for engaged couples and support that would help newlyweds mature in their vocation.

“The objective of this preparation consists in helping engaged couples to know and live the reality of the marriage they intend to celebrate so that they may do so not only validly and lawfully, but also fruitfully,” he said.

Citing Pope Benedict XVI’s last address to the Roman Rota, in which he highlighted the relationship between love and truth, the pope said some seeking marriage participate actively in the church while others “are guided by a more generic religious sentiment.”

Educating young people so they rediscover marriage and family life according to God’s plan, he said, is a first “remedy” to situations where sufficient preparation is lacking.

“In this spirit, I would like to reiterate the need of a ‘new catechumenate’ for marriage preparation,” he said.

Pope Francis explained that, just like a catechumenate period in preparation for baptism as an adult, “marriage preparation can become an integral part of the whole sacramental procedure of marriage, as an antidote that impedes the growth of null or inconsistent matrimonial celebrations.”

A second remedy, he continued, is the church’s presence and formation after marriage to encourage newlyweds in their lives together.

The Christian community is “called to welcome, accompany and help young couples” and care for their spiritual life through the parish’s pastoral ministry, he said.

“Often times, young couples are left to themselves, perhaps for the simple fact that they are seen less in the parish; this is especially true after the birth of children,” the pope said.

It is in those “first moments of family life,” he said, that the church must be even closer to young couples so they “may strive for the beauty of the Christian family, despite the destructive traps of a culture dominated by the ephemeral and the provisional.”

“As I have said several times,” the pope said, “great courage is needed to be married in the times in which we are living. And those who have the strength and the joy of fulfilling this important step must feel the love and concrete closeness of the church near them.”

Prior to their meeting with Pope Francis, the members of the Roman Rota celebrated Mass with Archbishop Angelo Becciu, a top official in the Vatican Secretariat of State, to inaugurate the Vatican court’s judicial year.

In his homily, Archbishop Becciu said that like Jesus, the court officials are surrounded by real people who want to be listened to and who have had an “experience of failure, of pain.”

“The ministry you fulfill in the pope’s tribunal puts you daily in contact not just with letters, but with people marked by human and marital failure; they are awaiting answers of truth and justice by the church,” the archbishop said.

 

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‘We must wait and see,’ pope says of President Trump

January 23rd, 2017 Posted in Featured, Vatican News Tags: , ,

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — As President Donald Trump was being sworn in, Pope Francis told an interviewer it would be “reckless” to pass judgment on the new president before he had a chance to do anything.

“We must wait and see,” the pope told two reporters from the Spanish newspaper El Pais during a 75-minute interview Jan. 20.

The interview was published late Jan. 21 in its original Spanish with an English translation.

Asked if he wasn’t worried at least about some of the things Trump said before his election, the pope responded, “I’m waiting. God waited so long for

U.S. President Donald Trump greets Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington during an interfaith prayer service at the National Cathedral in Washington Jan. 21, the day after Trump's swearing-in as the country's 45th president. (CNS photo/Kevin Lamarque, Reuters)

U.S. President Donald Trump greets Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington during an interfaith prayer service at the National Cathedral in Washington Jan. 21, the day after Trump’s swearing-in as the country’s 45th president. (CNS photo/Kevin Lamarque, Reuters)

me, with all my sins.”

“Being afraid or rejoicing beforehand because of something that might happen is, in my view, quite reckless,” the pope said. “We will see. We will see what he does and then we will judge, always on the concrete. Christianity either is concrete or it is not Christianity.”

El Pais asked another question about Trump and populists in the United States and Europe who, the interviewer said, “capitalize on fear in the face of an uncertain future in order to form a message full of xenophobia and hatred toward the foreigner.”

“”Crises provoke fear, alarm,” the pope said. “In my opinion, the most obvious example of European populism is Germany in 1933. After (Paul von) Hindenburg, after the crisis of 1930, Germany is broken, it needs to get up, to find its identity, a leader, someone capable of restoring its character, and there is a young man named Adolf Hitler who says: ‘I can, I can.’”

“Hitler didn’t steal the power, his people voted for him, and then he destroyed his people,” Pope Francis said.

In times of crisis, he said, large segments of the population think, “Let’s look for a savior who gives us back our identity and let’s defend ourselves with walls, barbed-wire, whatever, from other peoples who may rob us of our identity. And that is a very serious thing.”

Obviously, Pope Francis said, nations have a right and duty to control their borders, especially under the threat of terrorism, but “no country has the right to deprive its citizens of the possibility of talking with their neighbors.”

The El Pais reporters also asked Pope Francis about his hopes for improved diplomatic relations with China. As he has done in the past, the pope reported that a Vatican-Chinese committee has been meeting regularly for years and the dialogue continues.

“Are you ready to go to China?” he was asked.

“When they invite me,” he replied. “In China the churches are full. One can practice one’s religion in China,” he added, without mentioning the fact that religious practice is tightly controlled by the government.

El Pais also asked the 80-year-old pope if he expects to resign like Pope Benedict XVI did.

“That I don’t know. That is for God to decide,” he said. “When I feel that I cannot go on, my great teacher Benedict taught me what to do. And, if God takes me before that, I will see it from the other side, hopefully not from hell.”

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Vatican policy promotes access to Jerusalem, self-determination for all

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican’s hopes for a peace-filled world and its defense of the right to religious freedom have supported its consistent position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for 70 years.

The key concern of the Holy See, and of the Catholic Church as a whole, since the Middle Ages has been for the Christian holy sites and Christian communities present in the Holy Land from the time of Jesus. The vast majority of Christians in the region are Palestinians.

Family and friends of an Israeli soldier who was killed by a Palestinian truck driver mourn during her Jan. 9 funeral in Jerusalem. The Vatican's hopes for a peace-filled world and its defense of the right to religious freedom have supported its consistent position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for 70 years. (CNS photo/Ronen Zvulun, Reuters)

Family and friends of an Israeli soldier who was killed by a Palestinian truck driver mourn during her Jan. 9 funeral in Jerusalem. The Vatican’s hopes for a peace-filled world and its defense of the right to religious freedom have supported its consistent position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for 70 years. (CNS photo/Ronen Zvulun, Reuters)

More recently, it has supported the “two-state solution” with independence, recognition and secure borders for both Israel and Palestine.

While support for the two-state system evolved over time, the Vatican consistently has called for a special status for Jerusalem, particularly the Old City, in order to protect and guarantee access to the holy sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

As Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the United Nations, told the U.N. General Assembly in November: “The Holy See views the holy city of Jerusalem as the spiritual patrimony of the three monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.”

Since the early 1990s, the Vatican has seen as separate issues the need for a special status for the city and questions over the political sovereignty or control of Jerusalem. The political question, it has insisted, must be the result of negotiation.

The internationally unsettled status of Jerusalem and its central importance to Jews, Muslims and Christians explains why, while recognizing the state of Israel, no nation has its embassy in the holy city.

Before his inauguration, President-elect Donald Trump said he would move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. Former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush said the same thing during their campaigns for election, although once in office, they did not carry through with the move, citing its potential negative impact on Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Some observers think Trump is more serious about having the embassy in Jerusalem.

“At this point we are in a wait-and-see pattern,” said Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, who was in Jerusalem in mid-January together with 12 other bishops from North America and Europe.

Bishop Cantu, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, told Catholic News Service that Trump’s promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem poses a “serious problem” to any possible two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We are hoping that other, clearer minds will convince the president-elect to change his mind,” he said, promising the U.S. bishops would engage with the new administration in “as friendly a way as possible.”

“We will share with him our concerns based on the dignity of every human person and also based on the rights of the Palestinians to exist as a free and sovereign state living in peace next to a free and sovereign Israel,” Bishop Cantu said.

One of the Vatican’s earliest mentions of the Palestinians’ right to a homeland came in a communique issued by the Vatican press office when St. John Paul II held his first meeting with Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat in 1982.

The statement said the pope had expressed his hope to Arafat that “a just and lasting solution to the Middle East conflict would be reached as quickly as possible, a solution which, by excluding recourse to arms and violence, in any form, and especially that of terrorism and reprisal, would lead to the recognition of the right of all peoples, and in particular the Palestinian people, to possess a land of their own, and that of the Israeli people to ensure their own security.”

Hopes and prayers for peace and an encouragement for dialogue to resolve the ongoing dispute have been a centerpiece of papal pronouncements about the Holy Land for more than half a century.

Almost every Christmas and Easter, popes have renewed their pleas for Israelis and Palestinians, with the support of the international community, to commit themselves to dialogue for their sake and the sake of peace throughout the region.

Pope Francis has followed in his predecessors’ footsteps. In his 2016 Christmas address, he prayed, “May Israelis and Palestinians have the courage and determination to write a new page of history, where hate and revenge give way to the will to build together a future of mutual understanding and harmony.”

 

Contributing to this story was Judith Sudilovsky in Jerusalem.

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Pope: Catholics, Lutherans must continue to seek common ground

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Although great strides have been made through 50 years of ecumenical dialogue, Catholics and Lutherans must continue to work toward becoming a full and visible sign of unity for the world, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis greets Rev. Jens-Martin Kruse of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Rome during his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Jan. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis greets Rev. Jens-Martin Kruse of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Rome during his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Jan. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

A continued “communion of harmony” will allow Catholics and Lutherans to “find further convergence on points of doctrine and the moral teaching of the church,” the pope told members of a pilgrimage from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland Jan. 19.

“I pray to the Lord that he may bestow his blessing on the Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue Commission in Finland, which is working diligently toward a common sacramental understanding of the church, the Eucharist and ecclesial ministry,” he said.

The pope met the Finnish delegation during the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The theme chosen for the 2017 observance was: “Reconciliation: The love of Christ compels us.”

The week of prayer, Pope Francis said, urges Catholics and Lutherans to reconcile and “draw closer to one another anew through conversion.”

“True ecumenism is based on a shared conversion to Jesus Christ as our Lord and redeemer. If we draw close to him, we draw close also to one another,” the pope said.

Recalling his visit to Sweden last October to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s efforts to reform the church, the pope said Luther’s intention “was to renew the church, not divide her” and that the joint commemoration “was important on both the human and theological-spiritual levels.”

“The gathering there gave us the courage and strength in our Lord Jesus Christ to look ahead to the ecumenical journey that we are called to walk together,” he said.

Helping those who suffer persecution and violence, he added, can further unite Christians “on the journey toward full communion.”

In doing so, the pope said, Catholics and Lutherans can put their witness of faith into practice “through concrete acts of service, fraternity and sharing.”

Speaking off-the-cuff, Pope Francis thanked Lutheran Archbishop Kari Makinen of Turku for bringing his grandchildren to the meeting.

“We need the simplicity of children; they teach us the way to Jesus Christ,” the pope said.

 

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Prayer brings light of hope in dark times, pope says at audience

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Prayer has the power to awaken hope in men and women, even in the face of death and destruction, Pope Francis said.

People often feel unworthy to turn to God when they are in need “as if it were a self-interested prayer and, thus, imperfect,” the pope said Jan. 18 during his weekly general audience.

Pope Francis walks near violinists during his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Jan. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis walks near violinists during his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Jan. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

“But God knows our weakness; he knows that we remember him to ask for help and, with the indulgent smile of a father, he responds graciously,” he said.

Greeting thousands of people in the Paul VI audience hall, the pope seemed to lose his balance several times as pilgrims clasped his hand and tried pulling him toward them, hoping for a hug or a blessing.

Still, the pope took time to greet people, stopping to bless a pregnant woman’s belly and embracing a young boy in tears, who was overcome with emotion at meeting him.

The audience took place at the beginning of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which for 2017 had the theme: “Reconciliation: The love of Christ compels us.”

Addressing the different language groups, the pope prayed that all Christian communities would “be open more to reconciliation” and communion.

“In this same spirit of hope and with gratitude for the progress already made in the ecumenical movement, I ask your prayers for this important intention,” the pope told the English-speaking pilgrims.

During the audience, the pope reflected on the prophet Jonah, a man who first tried to run away from God’s call and initially refused “to place himself at the service of the divine plan of salvation.”

Nevertheless, the story of Jonah is a “great lesson about the mercy of God who forgives,” the pope said.

Jonah fled from his task of preaching salvation to the people of Ninevah who, in the eyes of the Israelites, “deserved to be destroyed, not to be saved,” the pope said. But when a dangerous storm hit, the pagans aboard his ship immediately prayed to their gods; a just reaction in the face of death because only then “man experiences his own frailty and his own need of salvation,” he said.

“The instinctive horror of death awakens the need to hope in the God of life,” the pope said. People think, “‘Perhaps God will think of us and we will not perish.’ These are the words of hope that become a prayer, that plea full of anguish raised by the lips of man in front of an imminent danger of death.”

The storm passed once Jonah accepted his responsibility and asked to be thrown into the sea, the pope continued, which moved the pagans to a sincere fear of God and “to recognize the one true Lord of heaven and earth.”

The people of Ninevah, he added, also had the experience of facing death yet being saved in the end, which led them to know and experience the truth of God’s love.

This experience of God’s divine mercy is a reminder for all men and women to recognize the “surprising occasions of knowing hope and encountering God,” Pope Francis said.

“Prayer brings you to hope,” the pope said. “And when things become dark, with more prayer there will be more hope.”

 

 

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Christian witness requires action, pope says during parish visit

By

Catholic News Service

ROME — Being a real Christian does not mean being a saint, but giving witness to Jesus in word and, especially, deed, Pope Francis told members of a parish on the eastern edge of Rome.

Spending more than three hours Jan. 15 at the parish of St. Mary in the Setteville neighborhood, Pope Francis had the same basic message for the children and youths as he did for the parish as a whole: “Christian witness is done with three things: words, the heart and the hands.”

Pope Francis greets a child in the crowd outside the church after celebrating Mass at the parish of St. Mary in the Setteville neighborhood of Rome Jan. 15. (CNS /Paul Haring)

Pope Francis greets a child in the crowd outside the church after celebrating Mass at the parish of St. Mary in the Setteville neighborhood of Rome Jan. 15. (CNS /Paul Haring)

As is his custom for parish visits in the Diocese of Rome, Pope Francis arrived in the late afternoon and held separate meetings with the children and teenagers from the religious education program and Scout groups; with the parents of the 45 babies baptized in the parish over the past year; with a group of parishioners who are sick or have disabilities; and with the parish council and more than 100 parishioners active in parish activities.

Before celebrating Mass, he heard the confessions of four parishioners. The Vatican press office said they were the young couple who care for the 50-year-old assistant pastor, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; a young man from the parish post-confirmation program; and the father of a sick child.

In response to the questions of the parish young people, Pope Francis insisted, “If I say I am Catholic and go to Mass every Sunday with my parents, but I don’t speak (about Jesus), I don’t help my grandparents, don’t help the poor, don’t visit the sick, then it is not witness and it is useless.”

“It is nothing other than being a parrot-Christian — words, words, words,” he said. Christian witness requires action.

Celebrating Mass with a standing-room-only congregation and hundreds of people watching on jumbo screens outside, Pope Francis focused on the witness of St. John the Baptist, who pointed to Jesus as the Messiah.

Many of the first people to follow Jesus, including some of the first apostles, had been followers of St. John the Baptist. “How did they meet Jesus?” the pope asked. “Because there was a witness,” who told them Jesus was the one. “It is the same in our lives.”

Faith is not like being “the fan of a team” or “having a philosophy” or just following a set of rules, he said. “Being a Christian is first of all giving witness to Jesus.”

Christianity has spread throughout the world because people have given witness in word and deed to Jesus as savior. Sometimes, he said, the witness was given in small ways and other times through the great witness of martyrdom.

“The apostles didn’t take a course to learn to be witnesses of Jesus,” the pope said. Instead, they followed him and listened to him and tried to imitate him.

“But they were sinners,” he said. “All 12 of them” as the Gospels recount. They experienced pride and jealousy and “when Jesus was taken, they all ran away.”

“Peter, the first pope, denied Jesus,” he said. But they were witnesses to Jesus because they recognized their sinfulness and that their salvation came not from anything they did, but from Jesus’ love and sacrifice. “They allowed themselves to be saved.”

“Being a witness does not mean being a saint, but being a poor man or poor woman who says, ‘Yes, I am a sinner, but Jesus is lord and I will try to witness to him every day and to correct my life and follow the correct path,’” he said.

One sin the Gospels did not accuse the apostles of, the pope said, is gossip. “They didn’t speak ill of each other.”

“Do you want a perfect parish?” Pope Francis asked the people. “Then no gossip. None. If you have something against another, tell him or her directly.”

The pope returned to the theme at the end of Mass. After final blessing, he told them, “Don’t forget to pray for me and no gossip.”

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Embassy at Vatican a sign of pope’s love for Palestine, Abbas says

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas thanked Pope Francis for his support of the country’s new embassy to the Holy See.

“This is a sign that the pope loves the Palestinian people and loves peace,” Abbas told the pope Jan. 14 before heading to the inauguration of the Palestinian embassy to the Holy See in Rome.

The pope welcomed Abbas with open arms, embracing the president and saying, “It is a pleasure to welcome you here.”

Pope Francis talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a meeting at the Vatican Jan. 14. (CNS photo/Giuseppe Lami, Reuters pool)

Pope Francis talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas during a meeting at the Vatican Jan. 14. (CNS photo/Giuseppe Lami, Reuters pool)

“I am also happy to be here,” Abbas replied.

The Vatican said the two leaders spoke privately of the contribution of Catholics in Palestine and their “promotion of human dignity and assistance for those most in need, especially in the fields of education, health and aid.”

The pope and Abbas also discussed the peace process and expressed hope that “direct negotiations between the parties may be resumed to bring an end to the violence” and to find “a just and lasting solution.”

“To this end, it is hoped that with the support of the international community measures can be taken that favor mutual trust and contribute to creating a climate that permits courageous decisions to be made in favor of peace,” the Vatican said.

The protection of holy sites “for believers of all three of the Abrahamic religions” was also discussed, the statement said.

After the pope and president spent more than 20 minutes speaking in private, Abbas introduced Pope Francis to the Palestinian officials traveling with him.

One member of the delegation joked with the pope about the pope’s favorite soccer team, San Lorenzo, before giving Pope Francis a soccer jersey with the colors of the Palestinian flag.

Abbas presented the pope with five gifts: a Byzantine-style icon of Jesus; a stone from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, the site of Jesus’ crucifixion; documentation from the Presidential Committee for the Restoration of the Church of the Nativity; a book documenting Palestine’s diplomatic relations with the Holy See; and a gold-plated icon of the Holy Family.

The pope gave the president a gold commemorative medallion of the Holy Year of Mercy and Arabic translations of “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”) and “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.”

Taking his leave, Abbas warmly embraced the pope and went to meet with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, and Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, Vatican secretary for relations with states.

Issa Kassissieh, Palestinian ambassador to the Holy See, said the new embassy was “a significant achievement for the Palestinian people, considering that the pope has taken a moral, legal and political stand through recognizing the state of Palestine.”

In an interview Jan. 12 with Palestinian news agency, WAFA, Kassissieh said the new embassy “marks the outcome” of improved relations between Palestine and the Holy See after the signing in June 2015 of an agreement that supports a two-state solution to the ongoing conflict in the Holy Land.

Abbas’ visit came on the eve of an international peace conference in Paris Jan. 15 aimed at restating the international community’s support for the peace process.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the gathering as a “rigged conference” that seeks to adopt anti-Israeli policies.

“This pushes peace backward. It’s not going to obligate us. It’s a relic of the past. It’s a last gasp of the past before the future sets in,” Netanyahu said Jan. 12 following a meeting with Norway’s foreign minister, Borge Bende.

President-elect Donald Trump’s proposal to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem is also a cause for concern for the Palestinian government as both states claim the city as their rightful capital.

The two-state solution would split the city and allow for Palestine to claim East Jerusalem as their capital. Israel, however, claims the entire city as its capital.

According to WAFA, Abbas wrote to Trump Jan. 9 and said the move likely would have a “disastrous impact on the peace process, on the two-state solution and on the stability and security of the entire region.”

Following his meeting with Pope Francis, President Abbas told journalists he hoped President-elect Trump would not move forward with the proposal.

“We are waiting to see if it happens. If it does it will not help peace and we hope it does not happen,” Abbas said.

Despite the looming threats to the peace process, President Abbas said he hoped that the example set by the Palestinians agreement with the Vatican will allow European countries to follow suit in order to achieve peace.

“I met his Holiness and (thanked him that) the Holy See has completely recognized Palestine as an independent state and I hope that other states will follow the Vatican’s example and recognize the state of Palestine,” Abbas said.

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Success at any cost will deceive, disappoint, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Watch out for the tempting promises and easy rewards of false gods and idols because they always lead to confusion, disappointment and even death, Pope Francis said.

“We are tempted to seek even fleeting comfort, which seems to fill the emptiness of solitude and ease the exertion of believing” in God, especially in times of trouble, he said Jan. 11 during his weekly general audience.

A nun takes a photo of Pope Francis during his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Jan. 11. (CNS/Paul Haring)

A nun takes a photo of Pope Francis during his general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican Jan. 11. (CNS/Paul Haring)

But the hope and security that come from God “never ever disappoint,” he said. “Idols always let you down” since they are figments of the imagination and not “alive and real” like God.

The pope continued his series of talks on Christian hope by reflecting on Psalm 115, which warns of the false hopes and securities offered by man-made idols.

While the psalmist speaks of statues made of “silver and gold,” the pope said idols also include anything people hold up as the ultimate answer to their happiness and security like money, power, success and false ideologies, all of which carry “illusions of eternity and omnipotence.”

Even things like physical beauty and health become idols when a person is willing “to sacrifice everything” in order to obtain or maintain them, he said.

“They are all things that confuse the heart and mind and instead of promoting life, they lead to death,” he said. As an example of this, he said he once heard a woman speak very nonchalantly about procuring an abortion because the pregnancy would have ruined her figure.

“These are idols and they take you down the wrong path. They do not give you happiness,” he said.

The pope marveled at the huge number of fortunetellers he used to see sitting in a city park in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the lines of people waiting their turn to consult them.

The shtick “is always the same, ‘There is a woman in your life,’ ‘Something dark is coming,’” he said ominously. But the people would pay to hear such things, and this was supposed to make them feel better even though they were putting their trust in a bunch of nonsense, he said.

“We buy false hope,” which shows how much people cling to it, he said. True hope, the kind Jesus brought freely by “giving his life for us, that kind we don’t trust in so much sometimes.”

Faith in God takes strength and perseverance, and when bad things happen in life, he said, sometimes that faith wavers and people feel they need a different kind of certainty, something easier or more “tangible and concrete.”

“Sometimes we seek a god that can bend to our wishes and magically intervene to change reality and make it be the way we want,” he said. This is what people love and seek, a god “that looks like us, understandable, predictable,” even though “it can do nothing, impotent and deceitful.”

The psalmist says that those who worship or trust in things that cannot speak, see, feel, move or hear, will become like them with nothing to say, “incapable of helping, changing things, smiling, giving oneself and incapable of loving.”

“Even we, people of the church, run this risk” of becoming worldly, he said. “We need to be in the world, but defend ourselves from the illusions” and idols of the world.

But those who persevere and courageously trust and hope in the Lord, they become more and more like him, sharing in his life and blessings, “transforming us into his children.”

“In this God, we have hope. This is the God that is not an idol, that never disappoints,” and always remembers his people even during their most difficult trials, he said.

At the end of the audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI audience hall, the pope told people to make sure they never pay for a ticket to see the pope because entry to papal events is always free since “this is a home for everyone.”

“I found out that there are pretty crafty (people) who charge for tickets,” which should have written on them in different languages that they are completely free of charge.

“Whoever makes you pay to get you into an audience commits a crime,” he said. Tickets for papal Masses also always are free. No tickets are needed for the noon Angelus prayer.

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Order of Malta disputes legality of investigation panel established by pope

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The leadership of the Order of Malta denied the legality of a Vatican investigation into the forced resignation of the group’s former grand chancellor, but the commission established by Pope Francis said it “is completely legitimate and authorized” to investigate the matter and inform the pope.

Pope Francis exchanges gifts with Fra Matthew Festing, prince and grand master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, during a private audience last June at the Vatican. The order has denying the Vatican has authority to investigate its internal affairs. (CNS/Reuters)

Pope Francis exchanges gifts with Fra Matthew Festing, prince and grand master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, during a private audience last June at the Vatican. The order is denying the Vatican has authority to investigate its internal affairs. (CNS/Reuters)

According to one of the legal notes prepared for the commission, the pope’s right to be informed of the circumstances surrounding the removal of Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager relates “to the authority he exercises directly and immediately over all baptized faithful, whether lay or clerical.”

“This is not about interfering in the internal affairs of the order because the purpose of the commission, as is evident, is to give an account to the Holy Father on the procedures (used to remove von Boeselager) and nothing else,” said the note, which was dated Jan. 11 and shown to Catholic News Service.

The Grand Magistry of the order had released a statement Jan. 10 stating its refusal to cooperate with the Vatican commission, citing what it termed the “legal irrelevance” of the commission and claiming that the members were “appointed by the Secretary of State of the Vatican.”

The grand master of the order, Fra Matthew Festing, also insisted that the former chancellor’s removal was an act of internal governance that falls exclusively within the order’s power.

Meeting with members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the order Jan. 10, Festing told the international representatives that von Boeselager’s removal will not affect the order’s charitable operations.

“Our decentralized nature ensures that our activities assisting people in difficulty and need, continues unaffected in the 120 countries where the Order of Malta operates,” Festing said.

According to its website, the order has bilateral diplomatic relations with 106 countries and the European Union, as well as permanent observer status at the United Nations and international Cooperation Agreements with over 50 states “to facilitate its humanitarian activities and allow unrestricted and protected access, especially in crisis regions.”

Von Boeselager, a German nobleman, was removed due to “severe problems” during his tenure as grand hospitaller of the Order of Malta and “his subsequent concealment of these problems from the Grand Magistry,” the order said. Numerous media reports have said the problems specifically regarded the distribution of condoms by aid agencies working with the order’s Malteser International.

Festing, in the presence of U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, patron of the order, requested that von Boeselager resign. His refusal to resign resulted in his removal in early December. John E. Critien was elected grand chancellor ad interim Dec. 14.

Pope Francis established the commission Dec. 22 to gather the facts and “completely inform” the Holy See about the situation and circumstances leading to von Boeselager’s removal as well as to foster dialogue and a peaceful resolution, according to a Vatican statement.

The order’s sovereignty is at the heart of its argument against the legality of the commission, which is led by Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, former Vatican representative to U.N. agencies in Geneva.

Other members of the commission are: Jesuit Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda, a canon lawyer and former rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University; Jacques de Liedekerke, former chancellor of the Order of Malta; Marc Odendall, counselor of the order; and Marwan Sehnaoui, president of the Order of Malta in Lebanon.

The order said its refusal to cooperate with the commission aims to protect its independence “against initiatives which claim to be directed at objectively (and, therefore –- quite apart from its intentions -– reveals it to be legally irrelevant) questioning or even limiting said sovereignty.”

However, the commission’s legal note directly addresses the order’s concern, stating that the group was established by Pope Francis, who yields authority over the laity and clergy “as well as immediate authority over religious orders.”

“This does not in any way put into question the sovereignty of the order exercised by the sovereign Grand Master,” the note stated.

The commission also cited the order’s constitutional charter in explaining its legitimacy, specifically citing the order’s vow of obedience. According to article 62, “professed knights and chaplains bind themselves to obey the Holy Father.”

The commission’s legal note said that both the order’s constitution and the Code of Canon Law “indicate the obedience due to the Holy Father.”

“Therefore, the Holy Father has full authority to ask his commission to respond to him and him alone about an investigation to clarify the procedure that led to the suspension of the Grand Chancellor from office,” the note stated.

The commission met Jan. 5-6 and was to begin hearing witnesses Jan. 16. Additionally, a member said, the commission has received written testimonies, mainly from members of the order, especially presidents of the national associations of the Knights of Malta.

Contributing to this story was Cindy Wooden at the Vatican.

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