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Pope urges bishops to exercise authority as judges in annulments

November 27th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized, Vatican News Tags: , ,


VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A diocesan bishop is the sole judge in the streamlined process for handling marriage annulments, Pope Francis said.

The simplified process “is not an option that the diocesan bishop can choose, but rather an obligation that derives from his consecration and from the mission received,” making the bishop the sole and exclusive authority in charge throughout the three phases of the briefer process, the pope said.

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Morning homily: Pope says church is called to proclaiming Jesus, not ‘advertising’


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The church today is called to be frank and courageous, just as the apostles were after the Resurrection, said Pope Francis at his first daily Mass after a two-week break for Holy Week and Easter.

“Even today, the message of the church is the message of frankness and Christian courage,” the pope said April 13. In attendance at Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae were the nine members of the pope’s advisory Council of Cardinals, who were to begin another round of meetings that day.

Reflecting on the day’s first reading (Acts 4:23-31), the pope said the apostles Peter and John were simple men, without a formal education. But by the Holy Spirit, they were granted strength and courage.

“And from fear they moved to frankness, to saying things with freedom,” he said.

Reflecting on the day’s Gospel reading (John 3:1-8), the pope reiterated that only the Holy Spirit “can give us the grace of courage to proclaim Jesus Christ.”

“This courage to proclaim is what distinguishes us from simple proselytism. We do not do advertising, says Jesus Christ, to have more members in our spiritual association,” he said. “This is not useful, it is not Christian. A Christian proclaims with courage. And the proclamation of Jesus Christ provokes, through the Holy Spirit, that wonder that impels us to go forward.”

When Jesus in the day’s Gospel passage speaks of being born anew, the pope said, he teaches that “only the Holy Spirit can change our attitude, the story of our life.”

“The path of Christian courage is a grace the Holy Spirit gives,” he said. “If the Spirit is not present, we can do many things, much work, but it serves nothing.”

After Easter, the church prepares to receive the Holy Spirit, the pope continued, inviting those present at Mass “to ask for the grace to receive the Spirit so that he gives us the true courage to proclaim Jesus Christ.”


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Pope’s day in Naples: Saint’s blood liquefies, cloistered sisters ‘break free’


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — At the end of Pope Francis’ spontaneity-filled meeting with priests, seminarians and religious in the cathedral of Naples, the vial of dried blood of the city’s patron saint appeared to miraculously liquefy.

After Pope Francis blessed the congregation with the reliquary holding the vial, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe of Naples announced, “As a sign that St. Januarius loves the pope, who is Neapolitan like us, the blood is already half liquefied.”

Nuns greet Pope Francis during his meeting with religious at the cathedral in Naples, Italy, March 21. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Nuns greet Pope Francis during his meeting with religious at the cathedral in Naples, Italy, March 21. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

The thousands of people present in the cathedral applauded, but the pope insisted on taking the microphone. “The bishop said the blood is half liquefied,” he said. “It means the saint loves us halfway; we must all convert a bit more, so that he would love us more.”

The blood of the fourth-century martyr is Naples’ most precious relic. The townspeople gauge the saints’ pleasure with them by awaiting the blood’s liquefaction three times a year: in the spring during celebrations of the feast of the transfer of the saint’s relics to Naples; Sept. 19, his feast day; and Dec. 16, the local feast commemorating the averting of a threatened eruption of Mount Vesuvius through the intervention of the saint.

When Pope Benedict XVI visited in 2007 and the blood did not liquefy, Msgr. Vincenzo de Gregorio, custodian of the relic, told reporters the miracle had never occurred when a pope visited on a day other than the feast day.

Entering the cathedral, Pope Francis’ white cassock and his arms were yanked repeatedly by priests, seminarians and nuns wanting to touch him or attract his attention.

Calmed reigned briefly after the pope reached the altar, but then Cardinal Sepe told the pope that, in accordance with canon law, he had given formal permission for the nuns in Naples’ seven cloistered convents to go out for the day.

The nuns, who had been seated in the sanctuary, broke free, running to the pope, surrounding him, hugging him, kissing his ring and piling gifts on his lap.

“Sisters, sisters, not now, later!” the cardinal shouted over the microphone to no avail. “Look what I have done,” he said, exasperated. “And these are the cloistered ones, imagine what the non-cloistered ones are like! Ay. They’re going to eat him alive.”

When order was restored, Pope Francis stood with several sheets of paper and told the congregation, “I prepared a speech, but speeches are boring.” So, he put the papers aside, sat down and began talking about how Jesus must be at the center of a consecrated person’s life, about life in community, about poverty and mercy.

“The center of your life must be Jesus,” he said. Too often, people, including priests and religious, have a difficulty with a superior or a confrere and that problem becomes the real center of their lives, robbing them and their witness of joy.

Addressing seminarians, he said, “if you do not have Jesus at the center, delay your ordination. If you are not sure Jesus is the center of your life, wait a while in order to be sure.”

Money definitely cannot be the center of the life of a priest or nun, he said. Even a diocesan priest, who does not take vows of poverty, must make sure “his heart is not there” in money.

The pope told the story of a religious woman he knew in Argentina who was so concerned about raising money for her school that she subconsciously preferred the company of people with money. One day, in the faculty room, she fainted. In the teachers’ attempt to revive her, the pope said, one suggested putting “a 100 peso note” under her nose to revive her, “but the poor woman was already dead and this was the last word said about her when no one knew if she had died or not.”


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Francis once had a pet parrot… And nine other things you might not know about the pope


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — When Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran walked onto the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica, telling the crowds in Latin: “I announce to you a great joy. We have a pope!” not many people recognized the name of then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Now, just one year since his March 13, 2013, election, there are still many things most people do not know about the 265th successor of Peter.

Pope Francis holds a parrot handed to him by a pilgrim during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican Jan. 29. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano via Reuters)

Here is a list of 10 things people should know about Pope Francis. He:

1. Has a way with birds: Pope Francis expertly handled a white dove and a green parrot during different general audiences in St. Peter’s Square. According to the pope’s sister, Maria Elena Bergoglio, the future pope had a parrot when he was in the seminary. And because he loved to play jokes, she said, “I wouldn’t put it past him that he taught the little beast a swear word or two instead of how to pray.”

2. Has colorful work experience on his resume: In addition to having worked sweeping floors in a factory and running tests in a chemical laboratory as a teenager, the pope also used to work as a bouncer. Later, when he was no longer kicking troublemakers out of clubs, he taught high school literature and psychology, which, he said, helped him discover the secret to bringing people back … to church.

3. Was a Jesuit Oskar Schindler: When then-Father Bergoglio was head of the Jesuit province in Argentina, he ran a clandestine network that sheltered or shuttled to safety people whose lives were in danger during the nation’s murderous military-backed dictatorship.

According to witnesses, the future pope never let on to anyone what he was doing, and those who were helping him find rides or temporary housing for “guests” never realized they had been part of his secret strategy until years later.

4. Is a homebody with missionary zeal: Even though he has traveled extensively, the future pope considers himself “a homebody” who easily gets homesick. However, he wanted to join the Society of Jesus because of its image as being “on the frontlines” for the church and its work in mission lands.

He wanted to serve as a missionary in Japan, but he said his superiors wouldn’t let him because they were concerned about his past health problems.

5. Has an achy back: When the pope was 21, the upper half of his right lung was removed after cysts caused a severe lung infection. While that episode never caused him further health problems, he said his current complaint is sciatica.

The worst thing to happen in his first month as pope was “an attack of sciatica,” he said. “I was sitting in an armchair to do interviews and it hurt. Sciatica is very painful, very painful. I don’t wish it on anyone.”

6. Was the strongest contender behind then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in the 2005 conclave. If the Argentine had been elected pontiff then, he would have chosen the name John after Blessed John XXIII and taken his inspiration from “the Good Pope,” according to Italian Cardinal Francesco Marchisano.

However, during the 2013 conclave, Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes told the newly elected pope, “Don’t forget the poor,” and that, the pope said, is when it struck him to take the name of St. Francis of Assisi, “the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation.”

7. Starts his day at 4:30 a.m. “I pray the breviary every morning. I like to pray with the psalms. Then, later, I celebrate Mass. I pray the rosary,” he has said. His workday includes reading letters, cards, documents and reports as well as meeting cardinals, bishops, priests and laypeople. He eats lunch between noon and 1 p.m., then rests for about 30 minutes before returning to work.

But his favorite part of the day is eucharistic adoration in the evening, when he often falls asleep in prayer. “Between 7 and 8 o’clock, I stay in front of the Blessed Sacrament for an hour in adoration. But I pray mentally even when I am waiting at the dentist or at other times of the day,” he said.

8. Can juggle a lot of plates: Jesuit Father Juan Carlos Scannone, the pope’s friend and former professor of Greek and literature, said the pope is “a one-man band” who can juggle many different tasks at the same time.

“Once I saw him writing an article on the typewriter, then go do his laundry, then received someone who needed spiritual guidance. Spiritual work, a technician and a manual laborer all at the same time and with the same high quality,” the priest said.

9. Travels light: When he boarded the papal plane for Brazil last July, people were stunned the pope was carting around his own carry-on bag. What’s inside? “It wasn’t the key for the atom bomb,” he told journalists. “There was a razor, a breviary, an appointment book, a book to read, I brought one about St. Therese, to whom I have a devotion. I have always taken a bag with me when traveling; it’s normal.”

10. Had his “hog” help the homeless: Pope Francis briefly owned what became the most expensive 21st-century Harley-Davidson motorbike in the world. Though he prefers walking and cheaper car models, Harley-Davidson gave him a brand new Dyna Super Glide in June that the pope autographed and put up for auction, raising a hefty $326,000 for a Rome soup kitchen and homeless shelter.


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Pope, cardinal council begin work on reorganizing Roman Curia – updated

December 3rd, 2013 Posted in Featured Tags: , , ,


Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis and the eight members of his international Council of Cardinals have begun their discussions on specific ways to reorganize the Roman Curia with the aim of “a renewal that will truly be a service to the universal church,” the Vatican spokesman said.

On the second day of the council’s Dec. 3-5 meeting, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the spokesman, said the cardinals planned to discuss the work of each congregation and, hopefully,

The cupola of St. Peter’s Basilica is pictured as the sun sets at the Vatican Nov. 13. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

each pontifical council. They had begun, he said, with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

Father Lombardi had told reporters Dec. 3, “They have to start somewhere,” but declined to provide more information about why the congregation responsible for liturgy was the first to be examined.

Spanish media have reported that Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, congregation prefect, will conclude his five-year appointment Dec. 9 and could be named the next archbishop of Madrid.

The Vatican spokesman continued to insist journalists and other observers should not expect changes to the curia to be announced quickly because Pope Francis and the Council of Cardinals were committed to a complete overhaul of Vatican structures “in light of the expectations expressed by the College of Cardinals before the conclave” that elected Pope Francis in March.

The pope and his Council of Cardinals, named in April, were not planning “to make amendments or limited adjustments” to Blessed John Paul II’s 1988 document on the Roman Curia, but rather expected to draft a completely new apostolic constitution.

The eight cardinals and the pope held their first full meeting in October and looked primarily at the role of the Vatican secretary of state since Archbishop Pietro Parolin was about to take over from Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. The cardinals’ council met briefly with Archbishop Parolin late Dec. 3 to congratulate him and offer their support, Father Lombardi said, but he was not involved in the council’s work.

When Pope Francis named the cardinals to advise him, Father Lombardi said, he did not choose them as continental representatives; however, their positions have allowed them to attend meetings of different bishops’ conferences and to continue collecting suggestions and concerns from bishops in their parts of the world.

While the council does not include the head of any Vatican congregation or council, he said, officials of the Roman Curia responded to an invitation to send their ideas and questions to the council.

In addition, the spokesman said, “the pope meets regularly and often with the heads of dicasteries (the Vatican offices), and these meetings go on for some time.”

“It’s not like they’ve been forgotten,” Father Lombardi said. “They have easy access to the Holy Father.”

Father Lombardi, who spoke with council members during their morning break on the first day of the Dec. 3-5 meeting, said they emphasized that they were looking “in depth” at the curia and ways of restructuring it, not at “small touch ups.”

Father Lombardi said given the depth of what the council is trying to do, “I wouldn’t expect any conclusions in a brief period of time.”

The council members begin their day concelebrating an early morning Mass with Pope Francis in the chapel of his residence. After breakfast, the meetings take place from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 4-7 p.m. in a small room near the chapel. Pope Francis was expected to attend all the sessions, although not the morning of Dec. 4, when he held his weekly general audience.

The next meeting of the council with the pope is scheduled for Feb. 17-18, Father Lombardi said. The meeting will be right before a likely gathering of the entire College of Cardinals with Pope Francis on the eve of the Feb. 22 consistory at which Pope Francis plans to create new cardinals.

Pope Francis may use the gathering of the entire College of Cardinals as an opportunity to inform them of the council’s work to that point, Father Lombardi said.

The pope has asked his eight cardinal advisers for counsel on the Vatican’s finances, which is likely to be the theme of the February meeting, Father Lombardi said.

The reorganization of the Roman Curia and improved relations between local bishops and the Vatican were key topics at the meetings of the College of Cardinals preceding the election of Pope Francis in March.

The eight members of his council are: Cardinals Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile; Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India; Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo; Sean P. O’Malley of Boston; George Pell of Sydney; Giuseppe Bertello, president of the commission governing Vatican City State; and Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.


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