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Vacation time should be prayer time, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Summertime can and should be a time for extra prayer, a moment of peace that allows Christians to savor the joy of their relationship with Jesus and find new strength to reach out with love to others, Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis prays at the tomb of Blessed Paul VI in the grotto of St. Peter’s Basilica Aug. 6, the 39th anniversary of Pope Paul's death. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano).

Pope Francis prays at the tomb of Blessed Paul VI in the grotto of St. Peter’s Basilica Aug. 6, the 39th anniversary of Pope Paul’s death. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano).

Before reciting the Angelus Aug. 6, the feast of the Transfiguration, Pope Francis talked about the Gospel story of the disciples going up Mount Tabor with Jesus, “detaching themselves from mundane things” and contemplating the transfigured Lord.

Today, too, Christ’s disciples need to “rediscover the pacifying and regenerating silence” that comes from prayer and meditating on a Gospel passage.

“When we put ourselves in this situation, with the Bible in hand, in silence, we begin to feel this interior beauty, this joy that the word of God generates in us,” the pope said.

With high temperatures still plaguing Rome and most of southern Europe, many tourists and pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square came armed with umbrellas or bought paper parasols from wandering venders outside the square.

Pope Francis said he knew the students in the square were in the midst of their summer holidays and many of the other people in the square were on vacation. He told them, “It’s important that in the period of rest and breaking away from daily concerns, you restore the energies of your body and soul, deepening your spiritual journey.”

The disciples who saw Jesus’ transfigured, he said, were changed by the event and descended the mountain, back into their daily lives, “with eyes and hearts transfigured by their encounter with the Lord. We, too, can follow this path.”

An encounter with the Lord, he said, should inspire further steps of conversion and a greater witness of charity.

“Transformed by the presence of Christ and by the warmth of his words, we will be a concrete sign of the life-giving love of God for all our brothers and sisters, especially those who suffer, find themselves alone and abandoned, are sick, and for the multitude of men and women who, in different parts of the world, are humiliated by injustice, abuse and violence.”

Pope Francis prayed that Mary would watch over people on vacation, but also that she would care for “those who cannot take a vacation because they are impeded by age, health or work, by economic difficulties or other problems.”

Earlier that morning, Pope Francis went to the grotto under St. Peter’s Basilica to pray at the tomb of Blessed Paul VI, who died Aug. 6, 1978.

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Christians are oriented toward hope and light, pope says

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The ancient practice of orienting church buildings East to West, with the entrance facing West and the altar toward the East, was symbolic of the connection that exists between light and hope, Pope Francis said.

“What does it mean to be a Christian? It means looking toward the light, continuing to make a profession of faith in the light, even when the world is wrapped in the night and darkness,” Pope Francis said Aug. 2 at his weekly general audience.

Pope Francis greets Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli after performing with the choir "Voices of Haiti" during the pontiff's weekly audience in Paul VI hall Aug. 2 at the Vatican. (CNS/Max Rossi, Reuters)

Pope Francis greets Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli after performing with the choir “Voices of Haiti” during the pontiff’s weekly audience in Paul VI hall Aug. 2 at the Vatican. (CNS/Max Rossi, Reuters)

With temperatures moving toward a forecasted 100 degrees, the pope resumed his audiences indoors after a month’s hiatus. He also resumed his series of audience talks about Christian hope.

He began by explaining how in ancient times the physical setting of a church building held symbolic importance for believers because the sun sets in the West, “where the light dies,” but rises in the East, where “the dawn reminds us of Christ, the sun risen from on high.”

In fact, he said, using the “language of the cosmos,” it was customary to have those about to be baptized proclaim their renunciation of Satan facing West and their profession of faith in God facing East.

Pope Francis did not touch on the debate about whether priests should celebrate Mass facing East, with their backs to the people, but focused on light as a symbol of Christian hope.

“Christians are not exempt from the darkness, either external or even internal,” he said. “They do not live outside the world, but because of the grace of Christ received though baptism, they are men and women who are oriented: they do not believe in the darkness, but in the light of day; they do not succumb to the night, but hope in the dawn; they are not defeated by death, but long for resurrection; they are not crushed by evil because they always trust in the infinite possibilities of goodness.”

Receiving the light of Christ at baptism, he said, Christians are called to be true “Christophers” or Christ-bearers, “especially to those who are going through situations of mourning, desperation, darkness and hatred.”

Christians who truly bear the light of Christ’s hope, he said, can be identified by the light in their eyes and by their serenity “even on the most complicated days.”

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Pope Francis asks prayers for victims of ‘perverse plague’ of trafficking

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Human trafficking is “brutal, savage and criminal,” Pope Francis said, but often it seems like people see it as a sad, but normal fact of life.

Dutch police search a Spanish truck at the border after nine immigrants were rescued from the freezer of the vehicle in early February in Hazeldonk, Netherlands. The truck driver was arrested as a suspect of human trafficking. (CNS photo/Marcel van Dorst - MaRicMedia, EPA)

Dutch police search a Spanish truck at the border after nine immigrants were rescued from the freezer of the vehicle in early February in Hazeldonk, Netherlands. The truck driver was arrested as a suspect of human trafficking. (CNS photo/Marcel van Dorst – MaRicMedia, EPA)

“I want to call everyone to make a commitment to seeing that this perverse plague, a modern form of slavery, is effectively countered,” the pope said July 30, the U.N.’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.

After reciting the Angelus with thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis asked them to join him in praying a “Hail Mary” so that Jesus’ mother would “support the victims of trafficking and convert the hearts of traffickers.”

In his main Angelus address, Pope Francis focused on the parables from the day’s Gospel reading: the treasure hidden in the field and the pearl of great price.

Both parables involve “searching and sacrifice,” the pope said. Neither the person who found the treasure in the field nor the merchant who found the pearl would have made their discoveries if they were not looking for something, and both of them sell all they have to purchase their treasure.

The point of the parables, he said, is that “the kingdom of God is offered to all.It is a gift, a grace but it is not given on a silver platter. It requires dynamism; it involves seeking, walking, getting busy.”

Jesus is the hidden treasure, the pope said, and once people discover him they are called to put following him before all else.

“It’s not a matter of despising all else, but of subordinating it to Jesus, giving him first place,” the pope said. “A disciple of Christ is not one who is deprived of something essential, but one who has found much more, has found the full joy that only the Lord can give.”

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Share the Journey — Pope Francis wants Catholics to meet migrants or refugees and listen to their stories

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — No matter the position one takes on national migration policy, Pope Francis, Caritas Internationalis and national Catholic charities across the globe want Catholics to meet a migrant or refugee and listen to his or her story. Read more »

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Vatican shuts down fountains as Rome deals with drought

July 25th, 2017 Posted in Featured, Vatican News

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — While Rome reels from one of its worst droughts in decades, the Vatican is doing its part to conserve water by shutting down the city-state’s 100 fountains.

The office governing Vatican City State announced July 25 that the drought has “led the Holy See to take measures aimed at saving water” by shutting down fountains in St. Peter’s Square, throughout the Vatican Gardens and in the territory of the state.

A Vatican worker cleans one of the fountains in St. Peter's Square July 25 after the Vatican turned off the water in the fountain to prevent waste as Rome considers water-rationing plans in the midst of a drought. (CNS/Cindy Wooden).

A Vatican worker cleans one of the fountains in St. Peter’s Square July 25 after the Vatican turned off the water in the fountain to prevent waste as Rome considers water-rationing plans in the midst of a drought. (CNS/Cindy
Wooden).

“The decision is in line with the teachings of Pope Francis, who reminds us in his encyclical ‘Laudato Si’’ how ‘the habit of wasting and discarding’ has reached unprecedented levels while ‘fresh drinking water is an issue of primary importance, since it is indispensable for human life and for supporting terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems,’” the office said.

The prolonged drought has forced officials from the Lazio region of Italy to halt pumping water from Lake Bracciano, located roughly 19 miles north of Rome. Less than usual rainfalls in the past two years have steadily depleted the lake, which provides 8 percent of the city’s water supply.

In an interview with Italian news outlet Tgcom24, Nicola Zingaretti, the region’s president, said the lake’s water level has “fallen too much and we risk an environmental disaster.”

While the drought forced Rome city officials to shut down some of Rome’s public drinking fountains in June, it may lead to strict water rationing for the city’s estimated 1.5 million residents.

City officials may also take the Vatican’s lead and shut down water pouring down from Rome’s many ancient fountains.

Pilgrims and visitors alike have marveled at the majestic fountains of St. Peter’s Square that have cascaded water for centuries since their construction in the 17th century.

While the source of water was once provided from an ancient Roman aqueduct, the two fountains, as well as 10 percent of Vatican City State’s 100 fountains “recirculate water currently,” Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman, told Catholic News Service in a July 25 email.

Others, he added, “will eventually be transformed in order to recirculate” the same water rather than let it be wasted by running into the drainage or sewer system.

Burke told CNS that the Vatican’s move to switch off the fountains located within its territory is “a way to show a good example” in conserving water as the city deals with the crisis.

“We’re not going to be able to solve Rome’s water problem this summer, but we can do our part,” Burke said. “This is the Vatican putting ‘Laudato Si’’ into action. Let’s not waste water.”

 

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Pope prays for dialogue, reconciliation in Jerusalem

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis called on Muslims and Jews in the Holy Land to “moderation and dialogue” as tensions continued around a key site in Jerusalem that is sacred to members of both faiths.

Palestinians run from tear gas fired by Israeli forces after prayer outside Jerusalem's Old City July 21. (CNS photo/Ammar Awad, Reuters)

Palestinians run from tear gas fired by Israeli forces after prayer outside Jerusalem’s Old City July 21. (CNS photo/Ammar Awad, Reuters)

After reciting the Angelus July 23, the pope asked people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the midday prayer to join him in asking the Lord to inspire reconciliation and peace in the region.

Tensions in Jerusalem have been high since July 14 when three Israeli Arabs armed with knives and guns killed two Israeli police officers at an entrance to the site the Jews call Temple Mount and the Muslims call Haram al-Sharif. The site includes the Western Wall and Al Aqsa mosque.

In his main Angelus talk, Pope Francis spoke about the parable of the weeds among the wheat from the Sunday Gospel reading.

The farmer in the parable from the Gospel of Matthew tells his workers not to pull up all the weeds because they might uproot the wheat, but to wait until the harvest when the wheat and weeds can be separated.

“With this image, Jesus tells us that in this world good and evil are so intertwined that it is impossible to separate them and eradicate all the evil, only God can do that,” the pope said.

Human beings are called to the “difficult exercise of discernment” in choosing between good and what is evil, he said, and when they fail, which all people do sometimes, the church stands ready to help with the grace of baptism and of confession.

Like the farmer in the parable, the pope said, God calls Christians to be patient as they await the harvest.

“Patience means preferring a church that is leaven in the dough, that is not afraid of getting its hands dirty washing the clothes of its children, rather than being a church of the ‘pure,’ who insist on judging beforehand who is in the kingdom of God and who isn’t.”

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Trial begins for former-Vatican hospital officials

By

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

By

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

By

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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Pope sending new Salvadoran cardinal to Korea to work for peace

By

Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Celebrating a Mass in his native El Salvador, newly created Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez said his first major assignment will be to travel to South Korea for a meeting on how to achieve peace with North Korea.

New Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez of San Salvador, El Salvador, celebrates a Mass at the Parish of the Blessed Sacrament as he takes possession of his titular church in Rome July 2. Celebrating a July 8 Mass in El Salvador, Cardinal Rosa Chavez said his first major assignment will be to travel to South Korea for a meeting on how to achieve peace with North Korea. (CNS photo/Rodrigo Sura, EPA)

New Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez of San Salvador, El Salvador, celebrates a Mass at the Parish of the Blessed Sacrament as he takes possession of his titular church in Rome July 2. Celebrating a July 8 Mass in El Salvador, Cardinal Rosa Chavez said his first major assignment will be to travel to South Korea for a meeting on how to achieve peace with North Korea. (CNS photo/Rodrigo Sura, EPA)

During a homily in San Salvador’s Metropolitan Cathedral July 8, Cardinal Rosa Chavez said that although he will “continue to be the least of my brother bishops” as auxiliary bishop, he is also entrusted to other matters by Pope Francis.

“I already received my first invitation to go to Seoul, South Korea, to attend a meeting to see how we can achieve peace between North and South Korea,” the cardinal said; his remarks were followed by applause and cheers by the faithful.

Tensions continue to escalate in the Korean peninsula after North Korea conducted its first successful intercontinental ballistic missile test July 4. With an estimated range of 5,000 miles, the missile is capable of striking the U.S. mainland with a nuclear-tipped warhead.

In response, the U.S. and South Korean military held joint drills in a show of force against North Korea. However, under the leadership of Kim Jong-un, North Korea has shown no signs of de-escalating its nuclear ambitions.

Cardinal Rosa Chavez, who worked closely with Blessed Oscar Romero before he was assassinated in 1980, was praised for his role in negotiations that brought peace to El Salvador after 12 years of civil war.

Following the announcement that he was to be made a cardinal, El Salvador’s Foreign Ministry said the San Salvador auxiliary was “fundamental in the process of dialogue and negotiation that allowed us to sign the peace accords in 1992 that put an end to the conflict in our country.”

Manuel Roberto Lopez, El Salvador’s ambassador to the Holy See, said July 10 that Cardinal Rosa Chavez’s new role “places him in a situation where he has great experience.”

“Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez was someone who collaborated extensively in the peace treaty in El Salvador because he was the only Salvadoran who participated in every single meeting between 1984-1989l,” the ambassador said.

His participation in negotiations between the Salvadoran government and the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, he said, “culminated in the signing” of the Chapultepec Peace Accords in 1992.

Acknowledging that the conflict in the Korean peninsula is “a bit more complicated” and “won’t be resolved in one day,” Lopez told CNS that Cardinal Rosa Chavez’s experience can help bring both sides to the negotiating table.

“I’ve known him for many years and he is such an authentic person in his simplicity, in his way of being close to the people; he was an auxiliary bishop but always close to the people, with the smell of the sheep as Pope Francis says,” Lopez said.

“Even though he said he was going to return to his normal activities, I knew it wasn’t going to be that way. The pope saw in him something greater to have given him more duties in the course of his pontificate. That is my opinion,” he said.

 

Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

 

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