CATHOLIC NEWS Vatican Benedict XVI defends resignation and title ‘pope emeritus’ in private letters <img src=""><p>Vatican City, Sep 20, 2018 / 09:35 am (<a href="" target="_self">ACI Prensa</a>).- In newly-surfaced letters from Benedict XVI, the pope emeritus has defended his abdication, and warned that continued anger at his decision risked undermining the papal office. The private correspondence, excerpts from which were carried in a German newspaper, was reportedly addressed to Cardinal Walter Brandm&uuml;ller.<br><br> According to the letters, Benedict said he understood &ldquo;the deep-seated pain&rdquo; the end of his papacy caused the cardinal and others. At the same time, the pope emeritus wrote, he recognized that for some people the pain had &ldquo;turned into an anger that no longer merely concerns my resignation, but increasingly also my person and my papacy as a whole.&rdquo;<br><br> <a href="">German newspaper Bild</a> carried the excerpts in a story published Sept. 20. The letters were originally sent in November, 2017.<br><br> Bild did not name the recipient but referred to him only as &ldquo;a German cardinal&rdquo; who had made critical comments about Benedict&rsquo;s resignation in an interview. On the same day, <a href="">The New York Times</a> reported that it had received a copy of the two letters in their entirety from Bild, and named Cardinal Brandm&uuml;ller as the recipient.&nbsp;<br><br> Addressing the ongoing dissatisfaction some individuals had with both his resignation and his subsequent life as &ldquo;pope emeritus&rdquo; - a title not previously used - Benedict cautioned that these sentiments were undermining the effectiveness of the petrine ministry.<br><br> &ldquo;In this way the pontificate itself is being devalued and conflated with the sadness about the situation of the Church today,&rdquo; he wrote.<br><br> According to Bild, Benedict defended his decision, writing that if the cardinal knew &ldquo;a better way&rdquo; for him to have acted, &ldquo;and therefore think that you can judge the one chosen by me, please tell me.&rdquo;<br><br> In an interview with a German newspaper in October of last year, Brandm&uuml;ller expressed dismay over the idea of a &ldquo;pope emeritus,&rdquo; which he said, &ldquo;does not exist in the entire history of the Church.&rdquo;<br><br> &ldquo;The fact that a pope comes along and topples a 2,000-year-old tradition bowled over not just us cardinals,&rdquo; he said.<br><br> The two private letters from Benedict have been reported to be a response to these comments. In the first, sent Nov. 9, 2017, Benedict wrote &ldquo;you said that with &lsquo;pope emeritus,&rsquo; I had created a figure that had not existed in the whole history of the Church. You know very well, of course, that popes have abdicated, albeit very rarely. What were they afterward? Pope emeritus? Or what else?&rdquo;<br><br> Benedict alo cited the example of Pope Pius XII, who considered stepping down in 1944 in the event of his arrest by the Nazis authorities then occupying Italy. Pope Pius had considered returning to the rank of a cardinal in the event of his resignation.<br><br> Benedict wrote that, unlike Pius XII&rsquo;s situation, &ldquo;it would certainly have not been sensible&rdquo; for him to return to being a cardinal as he would have been &ldquo;constantly exposed to the media as a cardinal is &ndash; even more so because people would have seen in me the former pope.&rdquo;<br><br> The pope emeritus added that &ldquo;whether on purpose or not, this could have had difficult consequences, especially in the context of the current situation.&rdquo;<br><br> Benedict explained that he was concerned with avoiding the impression that there were two popes, with his comments being sought on the ministry and decisions of his eventual successor.<br><br> &ldquo;With &lsquo;pope emeritus,&rsquo; I tried to create a situation in which I am absolutely not accessible to the media and in which it is completely clear that there is only one pope.&rdquo;<br><br> In the second letter, dated Nov. 23, 2017, Benedict wrote that he was concerned by the conclusion of Cardinal Brandm&uuml;ller&rsquo;s interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, given the previous month. The pope emeritus said that it could promote the sort of agitation which had inspired &ldquo;the Abdication,&rdquo; a book by Fabrizio Grasso which argued that having emeritus popes could destroy papal authority.<br><br> Cardinal Brandm&uuml;ller is one of four cardinals to have submitted five formal questions or &ldquo;dubia&rdquo; to Pope Francis, asking the pope to clarify some points of Church teaching in the wake of differing interpretations of <em>Amoris laetitia</em>, Francis&rsquo; 2016 post-synodal apostolic exhortation.<br><br> The letters from Benedict were reported by Bild two years and one day after the dubia were sent.<br><br> Brandm&uuml;ller submitted the questions, together with Cardinal Raymond Burke, Cardinal Joachim Meisner, and Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, on Sept. 19, 2016.<br><br></p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Thu, 20 Sep 2018 09:35:00 -0600 2018-09-20 09:35 -06:00 2018-09-20 08:35 -07:00 Vatican Never again, again: Bishops promise action, but will it make a difference? <img src=""><p>Washington D.C., Sep 19, 2018 / 01:10 pm (<a href="" target="_self">CNA</a>).- The moral credibility of the U.S. Catholic hierarchy is under serious scrutiny, both by the faithful and the wider world.<br><br> Something must be done - this is the consensus of cardinals, bishops, priests, and laity as the Church continues to grapple with the fallout of the sexual abuse crisis. What, exactly, will be done remains to be seen.<br><br> Calls for transparency and accountability in the wake of the sexual abuse scandals strike many of the faithful as reasonable and obvious - yet neither of those words seems easily translatable into the curial language and culture of <em>Romanitas</em>.&nbsp;<br><br> Amid an impetus for urgent reform, the Church faces the challenge of taking action that is effective, rather than merely dramatic.<br><br> What has been proposed? And what effect might it have?<br><br> --<br><br> In recent months, many bishops and lay leaders have called for new canonical structures and procedures in response to the various crises erupting in the Church.<br><br> Some have suggested creating another &ldquo;new&rdquo; process for accusing and trying bishops in a canon law court, others have floated the idea of a network of regional or national tribunals tasked with handling the existing backlog of clerical sex-abuse cases.<br><br> Much of what has been proposed so far, however, has already been tried.<br><br> Apart from the USCCB&rsquo;s own Essential Norms, adopted in the wake of the 2002 sexual abuse crisis, Pope Francis has made a number of significant canonical reforms over the last five years. Most significantly, 2016&rsquo;s <em>Come una madre amorivole</em> created an entirely new legal mechanism for charging and trying a bishop accused of mishandling allegations of abuse, or of abusing his office in some other way.<br><br> Yet despite the publicity surrounding the announcement of those structures, they have yet to be put into action, and are unlikely even to be tried.<br><br> When asked recently about particular cases involving bishops, Pope Francis said he had decided that his own reforms were not &ldquo;practical&rdquo; or &ldquo;convenient&rdquo; and that he was instead trying to preserve their &ldquo;spirit&rdquo; in the way he handled individual cases.<br><br> Many canonists, including those working in the Curia, have expressed frustration at the possibility that more reforms will be promulgated on paper, while few of them take hold at the practical level.&nbsp;<br><br> In the meantime, they say, cases are being handled in an increasingly ad hoc manner. In the case of McCarrick, for example, it has been hard for canonists to parse exactly what procedure is being followed.<br><br> Following the announcement by the Archdiocese of New York that it had received an allegation against McCarrick and deemed it credible, the then-cardinal was removed from public ministry.<br><br> In July, the Holy Father accepted his resignation from the College of Cardinals &ndash; itself an historic event &ndash; and at the same time ordered McCarrick to live a life of prayer and penance pending the outcome of a &ldquo;canonical process.&rdquo; Canon lawyers have noted that this seemed to be, for good or ill, the imposition of a legal penalty before the legal process had concluded - or perhaps even begun.<br><br> There has been no announcement about what kind of &ldquo;process&rdquo; will be followed in resolving McCarrick&rsquo;s case. Nor has the Holy See clarified what charges, exactly, he will face. It seems unclear how a new legal structure could bring clarity to that situation, rather than more confusion.<br><br> --<br><br> Another proposal made in recent months has been the establishment of regional commissions and tribunals for handling abuse cases, something which has been suggested before.<br><br> Baroness Sheila Hollins, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, has been among the most recent voices to suggest that this might serve to clear the languishing backlog of abuse cases clogging the courts at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.<br><br> The problem she identifies is a serious one.<br><br> Following his election in 2013, one of Pope Francis&rsquo; first curial reforms was to decree a Vatican-wide hiring freeze, which is still in effect. Since then, the pope has ordered the dismissal of three American priests working on abuse cases in the CDF, with a fourth leaving for personal reasons earlier this year.<br><br> Those working within and alongside of the CDF all report that there is simply not enough manpower to process the workload, something that Msgr. Robert Geisinger, the CDF&rsquo;s in house prosecutor, has lamented more than once.<br><br> As a result, more than one U.S. bishop has resorted to flying to Rome to personally petition that cases waiting for adjudication be moved to the top of the pile.<br><br> But the proposed regional tribunals would not solve the problem of a backlog, at least not in the short term. New courts would take years to come online, and even longer to prove effective. In the meantime, the structural and procedural upheaval needed to create them could cause chaos in a system that is already badly stretched.&nbsp;<br><br> Marie Collins, a former member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and herself a survivor of abuse, has been a critic of this proposal for a more straightforward reason. She has observed that the call for regional tribunals does not address the fact that the underlying problem is a lack of resources.<br><br> During her time on the PCPM, Collins spoke openly of her frustration at the pace of change. She specifically singled out the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles abuse cases, for criticism. Since then, she has become an outspoken skeptic of further canonical reform, and pointed to the fact that few resources are actually devoted to making the current system work.<br><br> &ldquo;The argument for going to local because the CDF is under resourced and understaffed, and so [is] unable to cope with all the abuse cases coming in from around the world: the question should be why is the CDF under resourced and understaffed?&rdquo;<br><br> One curial official who has worked with the CDF told CNA that some staffers also have the impression that there is little practical commitment to the kind of real reform that would involve the addition of more qualified personnel to handle abuse cases.<br><br> &ldquo;If &lsquo;where your treasure is there will your heart be too,&rsquo; then by that measure Rome&rsquo;s heart isn&rsquo;t in this,&rdquo; the official told CNA.<br><br> --<br><br> Back in the United States, several ideas for reform have been floated.<br><br> One is a third-party reporting mechanism for accusations against bishops, through which people would present allegations directly to the apostolic nuncio in Washington.<br><br> But any new third-party reporting system instituted by the U.S. bishops cannot guarantee Roman action, nor does recent evidence indicate that such action could be counted upon.<br><br> In the case of Archbishop McCarrick, it has emerged that in 2000 Fr. Boniface Ramsey presented a written account of accusations of McCarrick sharing a bed with seminarians to the nuncio. A 2006 letter from the Vatican Secretariat of State confirms that some of Ramsey&rsquo;s concerns made it to Rome, but no action was apparently taken until years later.<br><br> It has also been suggested that a new lay-led review board could review complaints made against bishops. This idea is not without precedent.<br><br> In 2002, the USCCB called for lay-led review boards in every diocese. The U.S. bishops also created a National Review Board comprised of lay experts, to advise the USCCB on dealing with the problem of sexual abuse. Those bodies have had considerable effect on the life and culture of the Church in the United States.<br><br> The idea of creating more lay-led boards now is, in some senses, an appealing option. But it is not clear whether new boards would actually address the current problems.<br><br> The National Review Board itself has seemed skeptical. In August, the board issued a statement denouncing &ldquo;a loss of moral leadership and an abuse of power that led to a culture of silence&rdquo; in the face of abuse.<br><br> Action is needed, the board said, but the &ldquo;evil&rdquo; which had come to light &ldquo;will not be stemmed simply by the creation of new committees, policies, or procedures.&rdquo;<br><br> Both U.S. proposals would also appear to effectively insulate American bishops from being required to act upon allegations made against their peers. The reticence of bishops to act in such circumstances is widely considered to have been a major contributing factor in the recent scandals, especially in the case of McCarrick.<br><br> But through systems that would largely exempt bishops from investigating or addressing claims of episcopal misconduct, U.S. Church authorities run the risk of seeming to distance themselves further from the kind of personal moral leadership called for by the National Review Board and others.<br><br> &ldquo;What needs to happen is a genuine change in the Church&rsquo;s culture, specifically among the bishops themselves,&rdquo; the National Review Board&rsquo;s August statement said.<br><br> Cultural change is more difficult than procedural reform. Absent the release of confidential files or sweeping changes in personnel, it will be hard to demonstrate in the short term. But it also seems to be the most pressing call made by ordinarily lay Catholics.<br><br> --<br><br> On Sept. 13, following a meeting between Pope Francis and the leaders of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo released a statement as president of the USCCB. In it, he said that he and the other American bishops looked forward to &ldquo;actively continuing our discernment together, identifying the most effective next steps.&rdquo;<br><br> What these steps will be, and when the Church will take them, remain to be seen. But the bishops may find that by themselves, they are not enough to satisfy the skepticism shared by lay Catholics and a growing number of rank-and-file priests and religious.<br><br> The call has been for leadership. To satisfy it, bishops will likely need to show a commitment to change that is personal, not institutional.<br><br></p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Wed, 19 Sep 2018 13:10:00 -0600 2018-09-19 13:10 -06:00 2018-09-19 12:10 -07:00 Vatican Pope Francis meets Bono <img src=""><p>Vatican City, Sep 19, 2018 / 10:50 am (<a href="" target="_self">CNA/EWTN News</a>).- U2 front man Bono had a private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican Wednesday afternoon, saying afterward the Holy Father was &ldquo;incredibly gracious with his time, his concentration.&rdquo;<br><br> Speaking to journalists following the just over 30-minute meeting Sept. 19, Bono said they &ldquo;let the conversation go where it wanted to go,&rdquo; discussing &ldquo;big themes,&rdquo; such as the future of commerce and how it might serve sustainable development goals.<br><br> Irishman Bono, born Paul David Hewson, also said that having just come from Ireland, they &ldquo;inevitably&rdquo; spoke about &ldquo;the pope&rsquo;s feelings about what has happened in the Church.&rdquo;<br><br> He said he explained to Francis that to some it looks like &ldquo;the abusers are being more protected than the victims,&rdquo; and that he &ldquo;could see the pain&rdquo; in the pope&rsquo;s face. &ldquo;I felt he was sincere, and I think he&rsquo;s an extraordinary man for extraordinary times,&rdquo; Bono said.<br><br> Bono met Pope Francis alongside the president of the pontifical foundation Scholas Occurrentes, Jos&eacute; Mar&iacute;a del Corral.<br><br> Scholas is an international organization founded by Pope Francis as an initiative to encourage social integration and the culture of encounter among youth through technology, arts and sports.<br><br> Bono is a co-founder of the ONE Campaign, an advocating organization that aims to combat poverty, which signed an agreement to partner with Scholas.<br><br> He said the exact way in which the two organizations will work together is yet to be decided, but he is looking forward to the partnership and really admires the work Scholas does.<br><br> This was Bono&rsquo;s second papal meeting. He also had an audience with St. John Paul II in 1999.<br><br> Bono is the second U2 member to meet Pope Francis in recent years after the band&rsquo;s lead guitarist, The Edge, greeted the pope during an audience as part of a Vatican conference on regenerative medicine in 2016.<br><br></p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Wed, 19 Sep 2018 10:50:00 -0600 2018-09-19 10:50 -06:00 2018-09-19 09:50 -07:00 Vatican Pope Francis: To honor one's parents, follow the saints <img src=""><p>Vatican City, Sep 19, 2018 / 05:17 am (<a href="" target="_self">CNA/EWTN News</a>).- There are many saints who demonstrate that even if one comes from a difficult childhood without good parents, hope can still be found in Christ and the mission received from him, Pope Francis said Wednesday.<br><br> The commandment to honor father and mother &ldquo;can be constructive for many young people who come from stories of pain and for all those who have suffered in their youth,&rdquo; he said Sept. 19.<br><br> &ldquo;Many saints &ndash; and many Christians &ndash; after a painful childhood lived a bright life, because, thanks to Jesus Christ, they were reconciled with life,&rdquo; he said, pointing to the example of Bl. Nunzio Sulprizio, who died at 19 from bone cancer after being orphaned at a very young age.<br><br> Bl. Sulprizio will be canonized in Rome Oct. 14 during the Synod of Bishops on young people.<br><br> The pope also encouraged Catholics to learn from the witness of St. Camillus de Lellis, who, he said, &ldquo;from a disordered childhood built a life of love and service; to St. Josephine Bakhita, who grew up in horrible slavery; or to the Bl. Carlo Gnocchi, an orphan and poor man; and to the very St. John Paul II, marked by the loss of his mother at an early age.&rdquo;<br><br> The wounds of one&rsquo;s young life have the potential to be transformed, by grace, when it is discovered &ldquo;that God has prepared us for a life of his children, where every act is a mission received from him,&rdquo; Francis said.<br><br> The pope&rsquo;s general audience catechesis on the theme of the Ten Commandments continued today with a reflection on the commandment &ldquo;to honor thy father and mother.&rdquo;<br><br> Looking back on one&rsquo;s childhood, especially if it was difficult, &ldquo;we discover that the real mystery is no longer &lsquo;why?&rsquo; [something happened] but &lsquo;for whom?&rsquo; For whom did this happen to me?&rdquo; Francis asked. This is when people can begin to honor their parents &ldquo;with the freedom of adult children and with merciful acceptance of their limits.&rdquo;<br><br> As it says in Deuteronomy, he quoted, &ldquo;honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that your days may be prolonged, and you may be happy in the land which the Lord your God gives you.&rdquo;<br><br> The commandment says that honoring one&rsquo;s parents &ldquo;leads to a long, happy life,&rdquo; he noted. This acknowledges what the human sciences have said: &ldquo;that the imprint of childhood marks the whole of life.&rdquo;<br><br> He explained that whatever history one comes from, this commandment gives &ldquo;the orientation that leads to Christ: in him, in fact, the true Father is revealed, who offers us &lsquo;to be reborn from above&rsquo;.&rdquo;<br><br> The fourth commandment &ldquo;does not talk about the goodness of parents, it does not require fathers and mothers to be perfect,&rdquo; he said.<br><br> &ldquo;It speaks of an act of the children, regardless of the merits of the parents, and says something extraordinary and liberating: even if not all parents are good and not all childhoods are sunny, all children can be happy, because the achievement of a full and happy life depends on the right gratitude to those who have placed us in the world.&rdquo;<br><br> &ldquo;Honoring father and mother therefore means to recognize their importance also through concrete actions, which express dedication, affection and care,&rdquo; he said.<br><br> Adding comments off-the-cuff, he asked those present, if they are not currently close with their parents, if they would consider returning to a relationship with them. He also told children they should never insult their parents or the parents of others.<br><br></p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Wed, 19 Sep 2018 05:17:00 -0600 2018-09-19 05:17 -06:00 2018-09-19 04:17 -07:00 Vatican Scicluna: On abuse crisis, Church must go from words to action <img src=""><p>Poznan, Poland, Sep 19, 2018 / 12:00 am (<a href="" target="_self">CNA</a>).- According to Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the pope&rsquo;s recent decision to call to Rome the presidents of bishops&rsquo; conferences from around the world is a sign that prevention of abuse and protection of minors must be a concern for the entire Church.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna of La Valletta, Malta served from 2002-2012 as Promoter of Justice in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He helped establish the Church&rsquo;s first responses to the 2002 sexual abuse crisis, and his work in the field is still a landmark.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Pope Francis twice sent Archbishop Scicluna to Chile to investigate allegations that Bishop Juan Barros Madrid had covered up crimes against minors.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Speaking from Poznan, Poland, where he took part in the annual gathering of the Council of the European Bishops&rsquo; Conferences, Scicluna stressed that the pope&rsquo;s decision to call to Rome presidents of the different bishops&rsquo; conferences around the world &ldquo;is a clear sign that protection of minors and prevention of abuse are a top priority for the whole Church.&rdquo;<br><br> &ldquo;The commitment of the Church as a safe place for minors should be for the whole Church, and should be the concern of everybody in the Church,&rdquo; he added.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Scicluna also stressed that &ldquo;protection of minors is something that has to be an ongoing process in the Church, and therefore it only begins with the good screening of future priests, as St. John Paul II asked for in 1992.&rdquo;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> The archbishop referred to Pope St. John Paul II&rsquo;s 1992 post-synodal exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis. &nbsp;<br><br> &ldquo;It was St. John Paul II&rsquo;s prophetic message,&rdquo; he said,&rdquo;as the document, speaking of the formation of future priests, valued the issue of human formation, of psychological screening and also of a clear evaluation of the candidate from the point of view of emotional authority and eligibility to be the shepherd of the flock.&rdquo;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> The document underscored that &ldquo;in the seminary, that is, in the program of formation, celibacy should be presented clearly, without any ambiguities and in a positive fashion. The seminarian should have a sufficient degree of psychological and sexual maturity as well as an assiduous and authentic life of prayer, and he should put himself under the direction of a spiritual father.&rdquo;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Scicluna said that, beyond the screening of future priests, there must also be &ldquo;an empowerment to the community, to disclose abuse when it happens and also an empowerment of the community so that together we ascertain and we guarantee that the Church is a safe place for everybody, including minors.&rdquo;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith&rsquo;s former prosecutor also noted that in May 2001 the Congregation asked bishops&rsquo; conferences around the world to prepare guidelines to counter abuse.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;&ldquo;The circular letter,&rdquo; Scicluna said, &ldquo;gave important indications, as it talked about formation of future priests but also talked about the protection of the community and it also mentioned cooperation with civil authorities.&rdquo;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> The letter read that &ldquo;sexual abuse of minors is not just a canonical delict but also a crime prosecuted by civil law. Although relations with civil authority will differ in various countries, nevertheless it is important to cooperate with such authorities within their responsibilities.&rdquo;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Archbishop Scicluna commented that these things &ldquo;need to be implemented and constantly put in the local Church&rsquo;s agenda.&rdquo;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> He also said that most bishops&rsquo; conferences have issued guidelines following the CDF&rsquo;s advice, and that all existing guidelines have been now screened by the Vatican.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> However, Scicluna added, &ldquo;documents are not enough. We need to sensitize whole communities, because this sad phenomenon cannot be solved with hierarchical decisions, but must involve everyone.&rdquo;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Speaking about the meeting convoked by Pope Francis for February 2019, Scicluna said that the meeting comes from a decision of the Council of Cardinals, but it is also &ldquo;a response to people&rsquo;s expectation that we move from documents to actions.&rdquo;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> He said that &ldquo;people need to understand that nice words and promises are not enough, while a diffused commitment involving the whole Church and everyone in the Church is much needed.&rdquo;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> &ldquo;After years,&rdquo; he concluded, Church leaders must &ldquo;renew our commitment to child protection in the Church.&rdquo;<br><br> &nbsp;<br><br></p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Wed, 19 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0600 2018-09-19 00:00 -06:00 2018-09-18 23:00 -07:00 Vatican Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports <img src=""><p>Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 / 05:45 pm (<a href="" target="_self">CNA</a>).- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party <a href="">reported Tuesday</a> that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to China &quot;in late September&quot; for a final round of talks before an agreement on the appointment of bishops is signed.<br /> &nbsp;<br /> Citing unnamed &ldquo;sources familiar with the matter,&rdquo; the Global Times, an English-language newspaper that reflects the position of Chinese authorities, said that &ldquo;there are no &#39;disputes on issues of principle&#39; between the two sides, and since the meeting between the two sides was previously held at the Vatican, the Vatican delegation will come to China this time for a meeting in late September, and if the meeting goes well, the agreement would be signed.&rdquo;<br><br> &ldquo;A Vatican source also confirmed with the Global Times last week that a prominent figure from the Holy See would probably come to China in late September,&rdquo; the newspaper reported. &nbsp;<br><br> The Global Times also quoted Wang Meixiu, who is presented as &ldquo;an expert on Catholic Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences,&rdquo; saying that &ldquo;China and the Vatican most likely agreed that the future bishops in China should be approved by the Chinese government and mandated by the Pope and the letter of appointment would be issued by the Pope.&rdquo;<br><br> &ldquo;Before signing the agreement,&rdquo; according to the Communist party-run Chinese newspaper, &ldquo;the Holy See would deliver an official document to acknowledge seven Chinese bishops who are regarded as &#39;illegitimate&#39; by the Vatican, including some it previously had excommunicated.&rdquo;<br><br> &ldquo;The Chinese will receive a Vatican delegation by the &#39;end of September&#39; to take one final step towards an agreement between the People&#39;s Republic of China and the Holy See, according to a source close to the Chinese Communist Party,&rdquo; the newspaper added.<br><br> Wang is quoted as saying that &ldquo;one should not expect to solve complicated problems the Catholic Church in China faces today with one agreement,&rdquo; and that the two sides &ldquo;still need further discussions on the complex situation in the different dioceses in the Episcopal selection.&rdquo;<br><br> According to the Global Times, Chinese government sources have &ldquo;stressed that the ongoing negotiations will stay on the religious level, and will not touch on any diplomatic issue such as the establishment of diplomatic ties between Beijing and the Vatican.&rdquo;<br><br> The Vatican is one of the last 17 states in the world that recognizes the government of Taiwan, an island led by a democratically-elected government since 1949. Beijing considers Taiwan to be a renegade Chinese province.<br><br> In previous negotiations, China has insisted that the Vatican cut its ties with Taiwan and promise not to interfere with internal Chinese affairs in order to come to an agreement.<br><br> It is estimated that there are about 12 million Catholics currently living in China, half within official state churches in the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the rest in the &ldquo;underground Church.&rdquo;<br><br> The Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association is under the day-to-day direct supervision of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) due to a major change in March 2018 in which the Chinese government shifted direct control of religious affairs to the Chinese Communist Party&rsquo;s United Front Work Department (UFWD).<br><br> Some of the bishops appointed by the Chinese government in the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association also serve as members of the Chinese Communist Party&rsquo;s National People&rsquo;s Congress.<br><br> &ldquo;We, as citizens of the country, should first be a citizen and then have religion and beliefs,&rdquo; Bishop Peter Fang Jianping of Tangshan told Chinese media after he voted to eliminate presidential term limits for President Xi in March 2018. Fang was ordained a bishop in Beijing in 2000 without Vatican approval and then legitimized by the Holy See two years later.<br><br> Chinese President Xi Jinping has promoted a campaign of &ldquo;Sinicization&rdquo; of all religion in China, &ldquo;a far-reaching strategy to control, govern, and manipulate all aspects of faith into a socialist mold infused with &lsquo;Chinese characteristics,&rsquo;&rdquo; according to the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom 2018 report.<br><br> New regulations on religious practice in China went into effect in February 2018 that codify the increased scrutiny and pressure on religious activities in China. On September 10, the Chinese government placed further restrictions on evangelization, making it illegal for any religious prayers, catechesis or preaching to be published online. This is being enforced via the country&rsquo;s extensive internet censorship.<br><br> Last month, the United Nations voiced alarm over reports that the Chinese government is detaining up to 1 million Uyghur muslims involuntarily in re-education internment camps.<br><br> The U.S. State Department has designated China as a &ldquo;Country of Particular Concern&rdquo; for religious freedom every year since 1999.<br><br> &nbsp;<br><br></p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Tue, 18 Sep 2018 17:45:00 -0600 2018-09-18 17:45 -06:00 2018-09-18 16:45 -07:00 Vatican Youth to meet with Pope Francis during October synod <img src=""><p>Vatican City, Sep 18, 2018 / 10:21 am (<a href="" target="_self">CNA/EWTN News</a>).- The Synod of Bishops announced Tuesday that the upcoming assembly of bishops will include a meeting of young people with Pope Francis and the Synod Fathers in the Vatican&rsquo;s Pope Paul VI hall.<br><br> Taking place starting at 5:00 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, the encounter is intended to allow &ldquo;young people to offer concrete experiences about their life in study and work, their feelings, their future and their vocational choice,&rdquo; a press release stated.<br><br> Pope Francis will be present for the entirety of the encounter, which follows a pre-synod gathering that was held at the Vatican in March, with around 300 youth participants. The press statement noted that Pope Francis wants to meet young people again with the Synod Fathers to listen to them and to consider their proposals for the final document of the synod.<br><br> The gathering will include testimonies from young people interspersed with musical and artistic performances and will focus on three themes: the search for identity, relationships, and life as service and gift.<br><br> &ldquo;Young people are particularly invited, and we hope they will be numerous in order to make their voice and their warmth heard by the Synod Assembly,&rdquo; the statement read.<br><br> Called &ldquo;NOI PER &ndash; Unici, solidali, creativi,&rdquo; the meeting can be attended with a ticket requested from the Congregation for Catholic Education, which is organizing the event.<br><br> The Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will take place Oct. 3-28. According to its preparatory document, the synod&rsquo;s purpose is to reflect on the Church&rsquo;s call &ldquo;to accompany all young people, without exception, towards the joy of love.&rdquo;<br><br></p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Tue, 18 Sep 2018 10:21:00 -0600 2018-09-18 10:21 -06:00 2018-09-18 09:21 -07:00 Vatican Pope Francis approves new constitution for Synod of Bishops <img src=""><p>Vatican City, Sep 18, 2018 / 08:30 am (<a href="" target="_self">CNA</a>).- In a new apostolic constitution, Pope Francis has reformed the Synod of Bishops, creating a mechanism for the assembly&rsquo;s final document to be included in official Church teaching.<br><br> <em>Episcopalis Communio</em>, promulgated by the pope on Sept. 15, establishes that the final document of a synod assembly, drafted and approved by a special commission, can be considered part of the ordinary magisterium &ndash; that is, the official teaching of the Church &ndash; if it receives a particular level of papal approval.<br><br> The constitution does not require the publication of a post-synodal papal document to make its conclusions authoritative, though these have traditionally followed synodal sessions.<br><br> The most recent synod, which was held on the theme of the family, was followed by the 2015 post-synodal apostolic exhortation <em>Amoris laetitia</em>.<br><br> Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, presented the new constitution on Sept. 18.<br><br> Baldisseri told journalists Tuesday that the pope may wish to publish a document of his own following October&rsquo;s synod on young people, but that the new norms allow him to forego it in favor of adopting the synod&rsquo;s final document as his own.<br><br> Should Francis decide to adopt the final synodal document, it would be published with his signature and those of the members of the synod.<br><br> The norms provide for a process similar to that followed during the 2015 synod on the family &ndash; by which a commission creates the final synodal document, before it is put before the members of the synod for a vote.<br><br> This commission is composed of the relator general and general secretary of the particular session of the synod, the secretary general of the synod&rsquo;s permanent secretariat - currently Cardinal Baldisseri - &nbsp;and other members elected by the synod itself. To these, the pope may also add his own personal appointees<br><br> Regarding how the final document is to be approved by the membership, <em>Episcopalis Communio</em> refers back to the current &ldquo;particular law.&rdquo; Accordingly, individual provisions to be adopted in the final document will still require the approval of two-thirds of the synod&rsquo;s members, while a simple majority suffices to reject an item.<br><br> The new constitution does, however, urge the synod fathers to seek &ldquo;moral unanimity&rdquo; whenever possible.<br><br> Once the final document has been prepared and voted on, it is presented to the Holy Father for his approval and publication. At this point, the pope can choose to grant a particular kind of approval to the document, called &ldquo;in forma specifica&rdquo; in canon law, by which it would become an act of the pope and part of the ordinary papal magisterium.<br><br> Speaking at a press conference in Rome, Cardinal Baldisseri said that the process of receiving this specific papal approval does not require a strictly judicial standard, or depend upon a particular margin of approval by the synod fathers.&nbsp;<br><br> Quoting St. John Paul II, the new constitution says that while the synod &ldquo;normally has a merely consultative function,&rdquo; this &ldquo;does not diminish its importance.&rdquo; Rather, the vote of the synod fathers &quot;if morally unanimous, has an ecclesial quality that overcomes the merely formal aspect of the consultative vote.&rdquo; This, Baldisseri explained, is more important that a specific margin of voting.<br><br> Other sections of the constitution substantially affirm recent synodal processes and regulations, including on the synod&rsquo;s composition and structure, which members have voting rights, and the three distinct synodal phases of preparation, assembly, and implementation.<br><br> In the preparatory phase, information on the announced theme of the synod is gathered through study commissions, local consultations conducted through the diocesan bishops, and a pre-synod meeting - if one is convoked. The new norms also provide the option for such pre-synodal meetings to be held at a regional level.<br><br> The second phase is the actual assembly of the synodal fathers and other members, while the third phase is the implementation of the synod&rsquo;s conclusions in the particular Churches.<br><br> <em>Episcopalis Communio</em> underlines the importance of bishops listening to the voice of lay Catholics, saying that &ldquo;the Synod of Bishops must increasingly become a privileged instrument for listening to the People of God.&rdquo;<br><br> &ldquo;Although in its composition [the Synod] appears as an essentially episcopal organism, the Synod does not therefore live separate from the rest of the faithful. On the contrary, it is a suitable instrument to give voice to the whole People of God precisely through the Bishops, constituted by God as &lsquo;authentic guardians, interpreters and witnesses of the faith of the whole Church,&rsquo;&rdquo; the document states.<br><br> This principle is recognized in the canonical norms of the constitution itself. Article 7 of <em>Episcopalis Communio</em> states that the right of the faithful to send their own contributions for the synod directly to the secretary general &ldquo;remains integral&rdquo; to the process.<br><br> The Synod of Bishops acts as a temporary and occasional advisory body to the pope on issues of pastoral importance to the Catholic Church. It was established by Bl. Pope Paul VI with the motu proprio <em>Apostolica sollicitudo</em> in 1965.<br><br> While the synod itself is a temporary body called into being by the pope, it has a permanent general secretariat in the Roman Curia.<br><br> There are three types of synod assemblies a pope can call: ordinary, extraordinary, and special. Next month&rsquo;s meeting will be an extraordinary assembly, as was 2014&rsquo;s synod on the family.<br><br> A special assembly is usually convoked to discuss an issue related to a particular geographical region, such as the upcoming special assembly on the Amazon, which will take place in October 2019.<br><br></p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Tue, 18 Sep 2018 08:30:00 -0600 2018-09-18 08:30 -06:00 2018-09-18 07:30 -07:00 Vatican Cupich, Tobin appointed by Pope Francis to October synod on young people <img src=""><p>Denver, Colo., Sep 17, 2018 / 10:44 am (<a href="" target="_self">CNA</a>).- Pope Francis has appointed several Americans to participate in October&rsquo;s Vatican synod on young adults, the faith, and vocational discernment. They will join the bishops elected as delegated to the synod by the U.S. bishops&rsquo; conference.<br><br> In an announcement Saturday, the Vatican said that Francis had appointed Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark as delegates to the synod. They are among 29 bishops appointed personally by Pope Francis to participate in the synod, to complement those who had been elected by national and regional bishops&rsquo; conferences and those who will participate because of other roles they hold in the Church.<br><br> CNA <a href="">reported </a>Tobin&rsquo;s appointment last month.<br><br> In addition to Cupich and Tobin, the bishops appointed by the pope include Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Germany, Cardinal Gerald Lacroix of Quebec, Canada, and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.<br><br> Pope Francis also tapped several priests to participate, among them Fr. Antonio Spadaro, director of the influential Italian journal La Civilta Cattolica, and Fr. Robert Stark, director of the office of social ministry in the Diocese of Honolulu.<br><br> Several Americans were also appointed U.S. Catholics as auditors to the synod, who will be invited to participate in some of the meeting&rsquo;s deliberations, but are not given a vote in its proceedings. Those Americans are Sr. Sally Marie, CSJ, superior general of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chambery, Jonathan Lewis, Assistant Secretary for Pastoral Ministry and Social Concerns in the Archdiocese of Washington, Fr. Robert Panke, rector of the St. John Paul II Seminary in Washington, DC, Sr. Briana Regina Santiago, of the Apostles of the Interior Life, and Yadira Vierya, a researcher on families and immigration at the University of Chicago.<br><br> A Greek Orthodox American bishop, Metropolitan Nikitas of Dardanellia, will also attend the synod as an observer. &nbsp;<br><br> Tobin will join Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop Jos&eacute; H. Gomez, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, Bishop Frank J. Caggiano, and Bishop Robert E. Barron, who, according to a July 23 USCCB press release, were elected by the U.S. bishops&rsquo; conference to attend the conference, after which their election was ratified by Pope Francis.<br><br> Chaput is officially listed by the Vatican among those delegates who are members of the ordinary council of the Synod of Bishops, rather than listed among those elected by the U.S. bishops&rsquo; conference, although the USCCB had previously reported that he was elected to attend. Chaput was elected in 2015 by U.S. bishops to serve on the ordinary council of the Synod of Bishops for a three year term.<br><br> Archbishop William Skurla, leader of the Ruthenian Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, will participate as an ex officio member of the synod.<br><br> The synod is scheduled Oct. 3-28. According to its preparatory document, the synod&rsquo;s purpose is to reflect on the Church&rsquo;s call &ldquo;to accompany all young people, without exception, towards the joy of love.&rdquo;<br><br></p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Mon, 17 Sep 2018 10:44:00 -0600 2018-09-17 10:44 -06:00 2018-09-17 09:44 -07:00 Vatican Archbishop McCarrick’s unofficial role in Vatican-China relations <img src=""><p>Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 / 08:05 am (<a href="" target="_self">CNA</a>).- Following reports that the Holy See and the People&rsquo;s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement on the appointment of bishops in the country, attention has turned to the role of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick in fostering Vatican-China relations over the last two decades.<br><br> Over 20 years, Archbishop McCarrick traveled to China on at least eight occasions, sometimes staying in a state-controlled Beijing seminary, often serving as an unofficial bridge between the Vatican and Chinese government-appointed bishops until 2016.<br><br> Prior to allegations of sexual abuse and harassment becoming public this summer, the former cardinal had been an outspoken proponent of a deal between Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Church under Pope Francis, according to Chinese reports.<br><br> &ldquo;I see a lot of things happening that would really open many doors because President Xi and his government are concerned about things that Pope Francis is concerned about,&rdquo; McCarrick told <em>The Global Times</em>, in <a href="">an exclusive interview</a> in Feb. 2016.<br><br> The interview quoted McCarrick as saying that the similarities between Pope Francis and Xi Jinping could be &ldquo;a special gift for the world.&rdquo;<br><br> The the state-approved Chinese newspaper also reported that McCarrick traveled to China in Feb. 2016 -- &ldquo;a trip in which the cardinal said he would visit some &lsquo;old friends.&rsquo;&rdquo;<br><br> &ldquo;His previous visits included meetings with Wang Zuo&#39;an, head of the State Administration for Religious Affairs and late bishop Fu Tieshan, former president of Bishops&rsquo; Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC), an organization not recognized by the Holy See,&rdquo; <em>The Global Times</em> reported.<br><br> In June 2014, David Gibson reported in the Washington Post that McCarrick had traveled to China &ldquo;in the past year&rdquo; for &ldquo;sensitive talks on religious freedom.&rdquo;<br><br> This detail aligns, in part, with the 11-page &ldquo;testimony&rdquo; of former apostolic nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigan&ograve;. Vigan&ograve; recounted a meeting with McCarrick in June 2013, during which Vigano claims he was told by McCarrick, &ldquo;The pope received me yesterday, tomorrow I am going to China.&rdquo;<br><br> McCarrick was hosted by the Beijing seminary during at least two trips to China, according to a 2006 State Department document made available via Wikileaks.<br><br> The vice-rector of a Communist-approved seminary, Fr. Shu-Jie Chen, <a href="">described twice hosting McCarrick </a>in an account found in a cable from Christopher Sandrolini, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See.<br><br> Chen described himself as &ldquo;king&rdquo; of the seminary, saying that he &ldquo;could do what he wanted within its walls.&rdquo;<br><br> Sandrolini also noted that the vice rector &ldquo;downplayed persecution of the underground Church,&rdquo; calling the underground church &ldquo;uneducated&rdquo; and &ldquo;elderly.&rdquo; &nbsp;He said that Chen seemed &ldquo;unconcerned&rdquo; that &ldquo;evangelization was not an option for official religious personnel.<br><br> <a href="">A cable</a> from U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Francis Rooney in March 2006 noted that Archbishop Claudio Celli, who was at that time the Holy See&rsquo;s principal China negotiator, insisted that McCarrick was not in a position to negotiate with China and that his visits to China were &ldquo;unofficial.&rdquo;<br><br> There appears to be a gap between McCarrick&rsquo;s trips to China between 2006 and 2013, though McCarrick&rsquo;s influence was still active.<br><br> In 2009, the archbishop had a message relayed to a friend in China through Nancy Pelosi, then Speaker of the House of Representatives. Pelosi conveyed McCarrick&rsquo;s greetings to Bishop Aloysius Jin of Shanghai, formerly a leading Chinese Jesuit.<br><br> &ldquo;She [Pelosi] relayed Cardinal McCarrick&#39;s good wishes to Bishop Jin. Bishop Jin said he and Cardinal McCarrick had exchanged visits, beginning when the latter was Bishop of Newark,&rdquo; <a href="">the State Department cable</a> reads.<br><br> During McCarrick&rsquo;s time as Archbishop of Newark, Aloysius Jin Luxian was not recognized as a bishop by the Vatican. He was ordained a coadjutor bishop of Shanghai without papal approval in 1985, his position was not recognized by the Vatican until 2004. Bishop Jin died in 2013.<br><br> <a href="">A 2007 article</a> in <em>The Atlantic </em>described the close friendship between McCarrick and Jin, and how McCarrick claimed to have relayed messages from the Chinese government-appointed bishop to the pope in the 1990s.<br><br> Both the State Department and Chinese media recorded a 1998 visit to China by Archbishop McCarrick. On that trip he was one of three American clerics to visit China to discuss religious freedom, meeting with Bishop Michael Fu Tieshan, vice-chairman of the Chinese Communist Party&rsquo;s Standing Committee of the Chinese National People&#39;s Congress.<br><br> Fu was made a bishop by Beijing 1979 without approval of the pope.<br><br> Chinese media reported that McCarrick paid a visit to the National Seminary in Beijing in 1998.<br><br> In Aug. 2, 2003, <a href="">the <em>South China Morning Post</em> reported</a> that McCarrick &ldquo;spent three days in Beijing earlier this week on what was ostensibly a private visit.&rdquo;<br><br> McCarrick was &ldquo;the first cardinal from a western country to visit the mainland since relations between China and the Vatican turned frosty after a dispute over canonisation in October 2000,&rdquo; the article continued.<br><br> In a Dec. 2003 State Department cable, U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Jim Nicholson wrote that Vatican Office Director for China Monsignor Gianfranco Rota-Graziosi &ldquo;did not expect concrete improvement stemming from the informal trip last summer of Washington Cardinal McCarrick to China.&rdquo;<br><br> On Sept. 14, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Holy See could be about to enter a deal with China which would include the recognition of seven illicitly consecrated bishops serving in the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association - a state-sponsored form of Catholicism whose leaders are chosen by Communist authorities.<br><br> Reports of the Holy See and Chinese government working towards a formal agreement on the appointment of bishops have been circulating since January, 2018. At the same time, China has launched an increasing <a href="">crackdown</a> on religious practice in the country, demolishing churches and harassing worshippers.<br><br></p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Mon, 17 Sep 2018 08:05:00 -0600 2018-09-17 08:05 -06:00 2018-09-17 07:05 -07:00 Vatican Pope Francis: Discipleship takes sacrifice <img src=""><p>Vatican City, Sep 16, 2018 / 06:03 am (<a href="" target="_self">CNA/EWTN News</a>).- A fundamental rule of being a disciple of Christ is the necessity to make sacrifices and deny one&rsquo;s self, Pope Francis said in his Angelus address Sunday.<br><br> &ldquo;Jesus tells us that in order to follow him, to be his disciples, one must deny oneself &ndash; that is, the claims of one&rsquo;s own selfish pride &ndash; and take up one&rsquo;s very cross,&rdquo; the pope said Sept. 16. &ldquo;Then he gives everyone a fundamental rule. And what is this rule? &lsquo;Whoever wants to save his life will lose it.&rsquo;&rdquo;<br><br> To have faith, he said, must go further than mere words &ndash; it must lead to concrete actions and choices, &ldquo;marked by love of God, by a great life, by a life with so much love for neighbor.&rdquo;<br><br> The pope explained that for many reasons, people may end up on the wrong path, &ldquo;looking for happiness only in things, or in the people we treat as things.&rdquo;<br><br> &ldquo;But we find happiness only when love, real [love], meets us, surprises us, changes us. Love changes everything! And love can change us too, each of us. The testimonies of the saints demonstrate this,&rdquo; he said.<br><br> Francis said that the Lord wants his disciples to have a personal relationship with him and to make him the center of their lives. Like Jesus asks to his disciples in the day&rsquo;s Gospel: &ldquo;Who do you say that I am?&rdquo;<br><br> &ldquo;Everyone is called to respond, in his own heart, letting himself be illuminated by the light that the Father gives us to know his Son Jesus,&rdquo; he said. And like Peter, one might confirm enthusiastically, that he is Christ.&rdquo;<br><br> &ldquo;But when Jesus tells us clearly what he said to the disciples, namely that his mission is accomplished not in the broad road of success, but in the arduous path of the suffering, humiliated, rejected and crucified Servant,&rdquo; then it can be easy to want to protest and rebel, like Peter did, he said.<br><br> He said: In these moments, Christians deserve the same reproof Jesus gave Peter: &ldquo;Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.&rdquo;<br><br> After the Angelus, in honor of the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, celebrated by the Church on Sept. 14, Pope Francis distributed small metal crucifixes to those present in St. Peter&rsquo;s Square.<br><br> &ldquo;The crucifix is the sign of God&rsquo;s love, which in Jesus gave life for us. I invite you to welcome this gift and bring it into your homes, your children&rsquo;s room, or your grandparents..., in any part, but in the house,&rdquo; he said.<br><br> Emphasizing that the crucifix is a religious sign for contemplation and prayer, not a merely ornamental object, he said &ldquo;looking at Jesus crucified, we look at our salvation.&rdquo;<br><br> He added that the cross &ldquo;is a gift from the pope,&rdquo; and is free, so to beware if anyone asks them to pay. The crucifixes were handed out by religious sisters, poor, homeless, and refugees. &ldquo;As always, faith comes from the little ones, from the humble ones,&rdquo; Francis noted, thanking them.<br><br> According to the pope&rsquo;s charity office, the silver-plated crucifixes, packaged in a transparent envelope, included a card with a quote from Pope Francis in Italian, English, and Spanish. From July 2013 during World Youth Day in Brazil, it says: &ldquo;In the Cross of Christ there is all the love of God, there is his immense mercy.&rdquo;<br><br> After handing out the 40,000 crosses, the around 300 volunteers and needy were given a sack lunch by Pope Francis. &nbsp;<br><br> &nbsp;<br><br></p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Sun, 16 Sep 2018 06:03:00 -0600 2018-09-16 06:03 -06:00 2018-09-16 05:03 -07:00 Vatican What is the pontifical secret? <img src=""><p>Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 / 04:00 pm (<a href="" target="_self">CNA</a>).- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigan&ograve; about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, many have called for official Vatican files on the former cardinal to be released. While this may seem like the easiest way of assessing the truth of Vigan&ograve;&rsquo;s claims, many of the documents in question could be protected by the &ldquo;pontifical secret.&rdquo; But what is that?<br><br> The pontifical secret, also sometimes called papal secrecy, is a rule of confidentiality protecting sensitive information regarding the governance of the universal Church. It is similar to the &ldquo;classified&rdquo; or &ldquo;confidential&rdquo; status common in companies or civil governments.<br><br> While the use of the English word &ldquo;secret&rdquo; in relation to Church documents and processes is often invoked dramatically, the term is actually taken from the Latin word &ldquo;secreto,&rdquo; which simply means &ldquo;confidential.&rdquo;<br><br> According to the &ldquo;Secreta continere,&rdquo; a canonical instruction issued by the Secretariat of State in 1974, those bound by the pontifical secret take an oath at the beginning of their service in the Curia or the diplomatic corps, promising to &ldquo;in no way, under any pretext, whether of greater good, or of very urgent and very grave reason,&rdquo; to break the secret.<br><br> Materials covered by the pontifical secret include diplomatic communications made between the Vatican&rsquo;s nunciatures around the world, but also apply to a range of other subjects. These include private dossiers and recommendations on priests and bishops being considered for promotion. Controversially, the secret also covers penal processes concerning major crimes handled by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, including cases involving the sexual abuse of minors.<br><br> The reasons why the secret is applied to different materials depend upon the circumstances. Private communications between what are effectively papal embassies and the Vatican&rsquo;s Secretariat of State are protected by confidentiality in the same way, and for the same reasons, that other diplomatic correspondence is kept classified. Files pertaining to bishops or prospective bishops are handled in much the same manner as confidential personnel matters are treated in companies or other institutions.<br><br> In judicial cases, the secret is meant to protect the privacy of victims, the good name of the accused (at least until they are convicted), and even the confidentiality of the accusers, who might be under the authority of someone under investigation.<br><br> Concerning the case of Archbishop McCarrick, Vatican files could conceivably contain materials covering all of these categories. In addition to possible penal processes and the circumstances surrounding his various promotions - including what was known about his behavior at different times - records could also concern any work undertaken by McCarrick as a papal envoy in different places including, for example, China.<br><br> As the name &ldquo;pontifical secret&rdquo; implies, it is only the pope - or someone empowered by him - who can dispense from it. Those hoping for curial officials to act on their own initiative, even for the supposed good of the Church, are likely to be disappointed. If they were to do so, they could find themselves subjected to disciplinary measures in the same way that any government official might if they were to release classified documents without authorization.<br><br> The seriousness of any violation of the secret by curial officials in relation to McCarrick&rsquo;s case would depend on the nature of the material disclosed.<br><br> Fr. Pablo Gefaell Chamoch&iacute;n, a canon lawyer and professor at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, told CNA that if a person is judged to have acted in violation of pontifical secrecy, he or she could be subjected to punishment.<br><br> Pointing to the Secretariat of State&rsquo;s instruction, Gefaell said, &ldquo;if the violation of pontifical secrecy becomes known, a penalty proportionate to the wrongdoing and the damage it causes could be inflicted by the competent dicastery.&rdquo;<br><br> Canon law does not establish a specific penalty for a violation of the secret. It would be left to the discretion of the competent Vatican authority to decide what the appropriate punishment would be for a particular violation, Gefaell clarified.<br><br> Regarding the potential release of any documents relating to Archbishop McCarrick, potentially held either at the apostolic nunciature in Washington, D.C. or at the Congregation for Bishops in Rome, it is Pope Francis alone who could order their effective declassification.<br><br> Until the pope decides otherwise, it is unlikely that Vatican officials bound by oath to observe the secret will be making any new documents available.<br><br></p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Fri, 14 Sep 2018 16:00:00 -0600 2018-09-14 16:00 -06:00 2018-09-14 15:00 -07:00 Vatican Pope Francis tells new bishops holiness is their 'most urgent task' <img src=""><p>Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 / 12:01 pm (<a href="" target="_self">CNA/EWTN News</a>).- The most important duty of bishops is total dedication to the pursuit of holiness and the holiness of their local Church, Pope Francis said to a group of 130 new bishops Thursday.<br><br> &ldquo;I speak to you here of the most urgent task of Pastors: that of holiness!&rdquo; Francis said Sept. 13, explaining that holiness is not a &ldquo;bookkeeping&rdquo; of one&rsquo;s virtues, a schedule of ascetic practices, a diet, or &ldquo;a gym of personal effort.&rdquo;<br /> &nbsp;<br /> &ldquo;Before we existed, God was there and he loved us. Holiness is touching this flesh of God that precedes us. It is getting in touch with his goodness,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Each of us [bishops] must humbly enter into the depths of ourselves and ask ourselves what he can do to make the face of the Church we govern in the name of the Supreme Pastor more holy.&rdquo;<br><br> To do this, the pope recommended they face the wounds of their local Church and dialogue with their flock about the questions they have. He also advised paying special attention to their clergy and seminaries.<br><br> He said the challenges facing clergy and seminaries cannot be confronted without &ldquo;updating our processes of selection, accompaniment, evaluation.&rdquo; But solutions will only be fruitful if they also address &ldquo;the spiritual chasm that, in many cases, has allowed scandalous weaknesses&rdquo;<br><br> Answers need to reveal &ldquo;why God has been so mute, so silenced, so removed from a certain way of life, as if he were not there,&rdquo; he stated.<br><br> Warning that pointing the finger at others is counter-productive, he told the bishops to work together, remembering that holiness is a work of God which happens when &ldquo;we return to the simple joy of the Gospel, so that his blessedness becomes flesh for others in our choices and in our lives.&rdquo;<br><br> Speaking at the conclusion of a training course for new bishops organized annually by the Vatican, the pope condemned the idea that the position of a bishop might come with &ldquo;automatic privileges.&rdquo;<br><br> Bishops do not have &ldquo;titles of property or acquired rights,&rdquo; he said. Referencing Matthew 13 and the &ldquo;treasure buried in a field,&rdquo; he said they have found the treasure of their ministry &ldquo;by chance,&rdquo; and are called &ldquo;to sell everything&rdquo; to buy the field and protect it.<br><br> Becoming a bishop &ldquo;is not the result of a merely human scrutiny, but of a choice from Above&rdquo; and the ministry &ldquo;requires not intermittent dedication, fidelity to alternating stages, a selective obedience, no.&rdquo; He said: &ldquo;you are called to consume yourselves day and night.&rdquo;<br><br> He told them their identity as bishops is a gift from God and must be considered in the right perspective, begging them to put God at the center of their lives. &ldquo;He is the one who asks everything but in return offers life fully,&rdquo; he said.<br><br> He urged them not to become discouraged when faced with dark times or difficulty, but to take consolation in the fact that the fate of the Church is in God&rsquo;s hands.<br><br> &ldquo;The destiny of the Church, of the little flock, is victoriously hidden in the cross of the Son of God. Our names are engraved on his heart &ndash; engraved on his heart!&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Therefore, do not spend your best energies recording failures and bringing up disappointments, letting the heart shrink and horizons narrow.&rdquo;<br><br> He praised ministers and consecrated men who persevere in doing good, even though it is not noisy and is not &ldquo;the theme of blogs nor does it reach the front pages [of newspapers].&rdquo;<br><br> These men, he said, &ldquo;continue to believe and to preach with courage the Gospel of grace and mercy to men thirsting for reasons to live, to hope and to love.&rdquo; They are not afraid by the wounds of Christ caused by sin or by &ldquo;sons of the Church.&rdquo;<br><br> He criticized the spread of individualism and indifference toward others, especially when the situation of the lost does not even prick consciences or is avoided by those who have the greatest responsibility.<br><br> &ldquo;We are not allowed to ignore the flesh of Christ, which has been entrusted to us not only in the Sacrament that we break, but also in the people we have inherited,&rdquo; he stated. &ldquo;Even his wounds belong to us.&rdquo;<br><br> It is right for these metaphorical wounds to be seen and touched, he said, not just used programmatically as a manifestation &ldquo;of understandable anger.&rdquo; Instead, the wounds are where the Church learns what happens when the face of Christ fades in memory, is not kept at the forefront.<br><br> &ldquo;Christ be your joy, the gospel and your nourishment. Keep your gaze fixed only on the Lord Jesus and, accustoming yourself to his light, know how to search [the light] incessantly even where it is refracted, even through humble gleams,&rdquo; he encouraged.<br><br></p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Thu, 13 Sep 2018 12:01:00 -0600 2018-09-13 12:01 -06:00 2018-09-13 11:01 -07:00 Vatican Cardinal DiNardo calls meeting with pope lengthy, fruitful <img src=""><p>Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 / 10:10 am (<a href="" target="_self">CNA/EWTN News</a>).- Cardinal Daniel DiNardo has called a Sept. 13 meeting between Pope Francis and leaders from the Church in United States &ldquo;lengthy and fruitful.&rdquo;<br><br> The cardinal, who is Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the U.S. bishops&rsquo; conference, travelled to Rome together with Archbishop Jos&eacute; Gomez of Los Angeles, the vice-president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and USCCB General Secretary Msgr. Brian Bransfield.<br><br> Also present at the meeting was Cardinal S&eacute;an O&rsquo;Malley of Boston, who serves as president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and is a member of the C9 Council of Cardinals charged with advising the pope on the governance of the universal Church.<br><br> DiNardo requested the meeting with Francis to discuss the ongoing sexual abuse scandals which have rocked the Church in America, in particular the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick. Cardinal DiNardo had previously pledged to investigate the case of Archbishop McCarrick to &ldquo;the full extent of the USCCB&rsquo;s authority.&rdquo;<br><br> Following a private audience with Pope Francis this morning, DiNardo released a brief statement through the U.S. bishops&rsquo; conference.<br><br> &quot;We are grateful to the Holy Father for receiving us in audience. We shared with Pope Francis our situation in the United States &ndash; how the Body of Christ is lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse. He listened very deeply from the heart. It was a lengthy, fruitful, and good exchange.&rdquo;<br><br> The meeting follows a series of calls by commentators for the Pope Francis to release files held on Archbishop McCarrick in Rome and at the apostolic nunciature in Washington, D.C.<br><br> While the statement did not specify if McCarrick&rsquo;s case or Vatican files related to it were discussed during the meeting, DiNardo has previously called for greater transparency by Church authorities on matters of sexual abuse, and especially that case of Archbishop McCarrick.<br><br> DiNardo&rsquo;s statement said he, together with Cardinal O&rsquo;Malley, Archbishop Gomez, and Msgr. Bransfield, looked forward to continuing to work together with Pope Francis on resolving the crisis facing the Church in the United States.<br><br> &ldquo;As we departed the audience, we prayed the Angelus together for God&#39;s mercy and strength as we work to heal the wounds. We look forward to actively continuing our discernment together identifying the most effective next steps.&rdquo;<br><br> Earlier this week, Pope Francis announced a special meeting with all the presidents of the world&rsquo;s bishops&rsquo; conferences to discuss sexual abuse in the Church. That meeting is expected to be held in February of next year.<br><br></p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Thu, 13 Sep 2018 10:10:00 -0600 2018-09-13 10:10 -06:00 2018-09-13 09:10 -07:00 Vatican Pope accepts resignation of Bishop Bransfield as inquiry into misconduct claims launched <img src=""><p>Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 / 04:52 am (<a href="" target="_self">CNA/EWTN News</a>).- Pope Francis Thursday accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, and asked the Archbishop of Baltimore to launch an investigation into allegations of misconduct.<br><br> Archbishop William E. Lori was named apostolic administrator of the diocese and instructed by the Vatican to investigate allegations of &ldquo;sexual harassment of adults&rdquo; against Bishop Bransfield, according to a Sept. 13 statement from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.<br><br> The diocese said the archbishop was asked by the Holy See to announce the forthcoming investigation. Upon its announcement, Lori stated that his &ldquo;primary concern is for the care and support of the priests and people of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston at this difficult time.&rdquo;<br><br> He pledged to conduct &ldquo;a thorough investigation&rdquo; of the allegations against Bishop Bransfield, &ldquo;in search of the truth,&rdquo; and &ldquo;to work closely with the clergy, religious and lay leaders of the diocese until the appointment of a new bishop.&rdquo;<br><br> Bransfield&rsquo;s resignation was accepted just eight days after he turned 75, the age at which diocesan bishops are required by canon law to submit a letter of resignation to the pope.<br><br> Bransfield is a Philadelphia native and was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1971. He served in parish ministry and at Lansdale Catholic High School before he began at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., in 1980, eventually becoming its rector.<br><br> He was appointed bishop of Wheeling-Charleston in 2004 and was consecrated Feb. 22, 2005.<br><br> Accusations of abuse against Bransfield arose in 2012 during the criminal the criminal trial in Philadelphia of Fr. James Brennan on child sex abuse charges and of Msgr. William Lynn for conspiracy and endangerment.<br><br> Two witnesses and a prosecutor alleged that Bishop Bransfield &ldquo;may have known about sexual misconduct by [another priest] or abused minors himself,&rdquo; <a href="">the Philadelphia Inquirer reported</a>.<br><br> The witnesses said they were sexually abused as teens by Fr. Stanley Gana, who was highlighted in Philadelphia grand jury reports in both 2005 and 2011.<br><br> The 2005 report mentioned in passing that &ldquo;Father Gana demanded and received fellatio at the rectory and at a beach house belonging to a friend of Fr. Gana&rsquo;s, Fr. Mike Bransfield.&rdquo;<br><br> At the 2012 trial, one witness said that Fr. Gana would call Bransfield after assaulting him in his rectory: &ldquo;They would be talking, and Stanley Gana would have me get on the phone and talk to Father Bransfield,&rdquo; the man said. &ldquo;Father Bransfield would jokingly say, &lsquo;I&rsquo;m going to have Stanley put you on the train to come down and see me sometime.&rsquo;&rdquo;<br><br> The other witness said that once at Fr. Gana&rsquo;s farmhouse, Bransfield pulled up in a car with several teen boys, and that Fr. Gana later told him, &ldquo;They&rsquo;re his fair-haired boys. The one in the front seat he is having sex with.&rdquo;<br><br> Bishop Bransfield denied the allegations made against him.<br><br> &ldquo;To now be unfairly included in that group and to hear the horrific allegations that are being made of me is unbelievable and shocking,&rdquo; he said April 19, 2012. He added that the allegations, &ldquo;the nature of these statements and the manner in which they were released . . . go way beyond any sense of fairness and propriety.&rdquo;<br><br> &ldquo;I have openly been an advocate for the eradication of the abusive behavior of priests in every diocese, and have demonstrated this in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.&rdquo; He said: &ldquo;I have never sexually abused anyone.&rdquo;<br><br> Bransfield also stated that the witnesses&rsquo; statement regarding abuse by Fr. Gana taking place at the beach house he owned in Brigantine, N.J., is &ldquo;misleading&rdquo; because it fails to mention that he allowed many people to use his home and that he was neither present nor aware of the incident.<br><br> Bishop Bransfield said the 2012 trial was &ldquo;a circus&rdquo; and that prosecutors were smearing his name &ldquo;to bolster their persecution of the church.&rdquo;<br><br> &nbsp;<br><br></p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Thu, 13 Sep 2018 04:52:00 -0600 2018-09-13 04:52 -06:00 2018-09-13 03:52 -07:00