Fri, 14 Sep 2018 07:28:00 -0400
NEW YORK (CNS) -- The daily schedule at the United Nations is jammed with substantial debates and conferences about issues of interest to the universal church. Amazingly, the Vatican's leanly staffed Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations is represented at most of them, thanks to a "force-multiplier" cadre of interns and fellows. Each year, 18 to 20 young Catholics from around the world are selected to participate in an intensive program that immerses them in the Holy See's multilateral work at the U.N. During their three-to-six-month service, participants attend U.N. meetings, file comprehensive reports for the Holy See, staff conferences run by the mission, and go to receptions and cultural events sponsored by various U.N. missions. The Vatican has been a neutral, nonvoting member of the world body since 1964. It participates in the debate of the General Assembly, makes interventions, co-sponsors draft resolutions that make reference to the Holy See and is a party to international agreements. Father Roger Landry, an attache at the mission and director of the intern program, said interns and fellows are valuable adjuncts to the permanent staff that includes Archbishop Bernardito Auza, who is the Holy See's permanent observer, as well as two diplomats and four attaches. "Their zeal and youth keep all the staff members enthusiastic for the work, even on challenging days," Father Landry told Catholic News Service. Their presence at meetings and research on issues "have impacted in a very powerful way the work we've done at the U.N.," he said. The universal church also benefits from training bright, committed young Catholics who will use their new learning to help strengthen both church and society in their home countries, he said. Interns have served at the mission for many years, but since the program was formalized and re-established in 2016, the number of applicants and their qualifications has increased significantly, Father Landry said. Most of the people who apply for one of three annual sessions are graduate students and one-third already hold an advanced degree. Interns are unpaid, but fellows receive a stipend from their universities. "They want to integrate their academic life with their life of faith. Their zeal for the types of things we are doing precedes them here," he said of the applicants. Father Landry described the successful candidates as faithful Catholics who know Catholic social teaching and see it as part of what the Vatican has to offer the international community. They are self-starting, high-level thinkers who can understand complex, nuanced issues and write clearly, he said. "We also want them to be able to work efficiently and cheerfully and not be overwhelmed by the amount of work, but integrate into it the joy of the Gospel," he told Catholic News Service. "They bring some sunshine to the work we do. We call them teammates and members of the family and they become some of our greatest advertisers and recruiters," Father Landry said. Since 2016, there have been more than 50 interns and fellows from 14 countries on six continents. During the first week of September, seven new participants completed a three-day training program at the mission and "hit the ground running," according to Father Landry. Giulia Iop, 23, an intern from Udine, Italy, has an undergraduate degree from Sciences Po in Paris, and a master's degree in comparative politics from the London School of Economics. She said she applied for the program because "I wanted to see if spirituality, my own and others', can fit into politics and political strategies. I think it's something that's missing today and could be a great help in solving current issues." Iop, who wrote her master's dissertation on extremist Buddhist organizations in Myanmar and Sri Lanka, said she hopes to see if spirituality is something that can become "entrenched in the political system." Mary Goretti Byamugisha, 32, a doctoral candidate from Uganda, ...
Wed, 12 Sep 2018 09:02:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis is calling the presidents of every Catholic bishops' conference in the world to Rome Feb. 21-24 to discuss the prevention of the abuse of minors and vulnerable adults. The Vatican made the announcement Sept. 12 after the pope and members of his international Council of Cardinals wrapped up three days of meetings. After hearing from his council, the pope "decided to convoke a meeting with the presidents of the bishops' conferences of the Catholic Church on the theme of the protection of minors," the council said in a written communique. The members present "extensively reflected together with the Holy Father on the matters of abuse" during their deliberations Sept. 10-12. Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, also updated those present with the commission's ongoing efforts. Three of the nine council members were absent for the meetings: Cardinal George Pell, 77, who currently is on trial in Australia on sex abuse charges; Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, 85, retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile, who is facing questioning over his handling of abuse allegations; and Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo, who turns 79 in early October. The six present for the September meeting were: Cardinals O'Malley, 74; Pietro Parolin, 63, Vatican secretary of state; Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, 75, of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Oswald Gracias, 73, of Mumbai, India; Reinhard Marx, 64, of Munich and Freising, Germany; and Giuseppe Bertello, 75, president of the commission governing Vatican City State. The papally appointed group of nine cardinal members, the so-called C9, has been tasked with helping advise the pope on the reform of the Vatican's organization and church governance. The council said in its communique that, concerning work on the reform of the Curia, it finished "rereading the texts already prepared (and) also called attention to the pastoral care of personnel who work there," in the Roman Curia. Paloma Garcia Ovejero, vice director of the Vatican press office, told reporters that a major part of the council's work was making final changes to the draft of the apostolic constitution that would govern the Curia. The document, provisionally titled "Praedicate Evangelium" ("Preach the Gospel"), is still set for further "stylistic editing" and canonical review, she said. Pope Francis reviewed for his considerations the finalized draft at their last meeting in June. The draft document emphasizes four points: the Curia is at the service of the pope and the local churches throughout the world; the work of the Curia must have a pastoral character; the new section in the Vatican Secretariat of State would oversee the training, assigning and ministry of Vatican nuncios and diplomats around the world; and the proclamation of the Gospel and a missionary spirit must characterize the activity of the Curia. Garcia Ovejero reiterated the council's last written statement from Sept. 10 in which the members asked Pope Francis for a reflection on "the work, structure and composition of the council itself, also taking into account the advanced age of some of its members." The six again "expressed full solidarity with Pope Francis for what has happened in the last few weeks," she said. In response to questions, she said there was no word yet on the expected release of the "possible and necessary clarifications" the council said were being formulated by the Holy See given the current debate on abuse in the church. The council will meet again Dec. 10-12.
Wed, 12 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0400
Sept. 15, 1993, was the birthday of Father Puglisi, parish priest of San Gaetano in the Brancaccio district of Palermo, Sicily. He spent that Sunday like so many others until that evening, when, under the door of his residence, he found himself face to face with the most ruthless murderer of Brancaccio. Salvatore Grigoli had committed up to that time 45 murders, including dissolving a child in an acid bath. He was there to kill Father Puglisi, shooting him in the back of his head with a pistol. The murder was ordered by the mafia boss Leoluca Bagarella, who also rebuked Brancaccio’s mafia bosses for having waited too long to kill the priest. Father Puglisi was beatified as a martyr in Palermo on May 25, 2013, two months after the election of Pope Francis. Now Francis is preparing to go to the Sicilian city on Sept. 15 to visit Puglisi’s residence and parish church on the 25th anniversary of his martyrdom. Marco Pappalardo, 42, from Catania, Sicily, is a teacher, journalist and author whose last book is titled “3P. Father Pino Puglisi, Supereroe Rompiscatole” (an Italian popular expression for “superhero troublemaker”). As shown in this interview with Our Sunday Visitor, it is impossible to talk about Father Puglisi without facing, as Pappalardo does and the pope in Palermo will too, the contentious issue of the relationship between Sicily, the Church and the mafia. Our Sunday Visitor: To summarize, who was the Blessed Father Pino Puglisi? Marco Pappalardo: A priest who gave his last breath to the young, teaching them to work for the good, not to give up, to do something to make society better. He was killed because the mafia was afraid of the change he was making with the disruptive power of the Gospel. OSV: And the mafia? Pappalardo: A criminal organization at a local, national and world level, which does all that provides power and wealth in the pockets of mafia families. ... This includes selling drugs, tightening ties with corrupt politics, exploiting ignorance and misery of the people, eliminating those who fight or betray it, controlling companies and industries, stealing the future from young people, extortion, murder and more. OSV: Father Pino Puglisi is not the only priest killed by the mafia, but he is the only one proclaimed a martyr. Why? Pappalardo: Professor Giuseppe Savagnone in my book says: “He firmly believed in the Gospel. Therefore, he was not only concerned with the rites within the walls of the temple, but he also tried to interpret life in the streets, among the people, like a great liturgy that must celebrate the Lord, [....] because man is the glory of God.” OSV: According to Church law, martyrs are killed out of hatred for their Christian faith. Does the mafia really hate the Church? Pappalardo: The religiosity of the mafia is false, made of external symbols, appearances, superstition. I do not think they hate the Church. They do not really understand it because of ignorance. But they hate those in the Church who denounce mafia actions and are committed to educating for legality. OSV: In addition to flaunting religious symbols, the “mafiosi” often has manipulated religious events such as feasts or processions. What relationship does the Church have with the mafia? Pappalardo: Let us speak not of the Church in general but of those in the Church who have had relations with the mafia, protecting it or being conniving, or remaining silent for fear even if being able to act, which is no better. The Church cannot and must not have relations with the mafia, apart from fighting it. OSV: In 2014, the pope went to another southern region, Calabria, oppressed by the mafia. When there he said “mafiosi” are excommunicated. Why do you think there was so much clamor? Pappalardo: It is a truth! Without true repentance, those who steal, kill, hate, disfigure creation, create poverty, ruin the hearts of young people cannot participate in the communion of the Church. It is the Gospel. The pope can only shout it. It ...
Wed, 12 Sep 2018 00:00:00 -0400
It seems counterintuitive that Pope Francis would visit a country where at least three out of every four inhabitants are atheists and less than 1 in 100 are Catholics, as is the case in Estonia. But from Sept. 22-25, the pope is visiting the three so-called Baltic republics: Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which in the last century were part of the Soviet Union. The arrival in Estonia — which has fewer than 7,000 Catholics — is scheduled for the morning of Sept. 25, returning to Rome the same day. The last trip of a pope to Estonia dates back to 1993, with Pope St. John Paul II, when Estonia had just gained independence. Archbishop Philippe Jean-Charles Jourdan, was appointed apostolic administrator for Estonia on April 1, 2005, by John Paul II. Born 58 years ago in France, he graduated as an engineer before being ordained a priest of Opus Dei. Estonia was constituted as an apostolic administration in 1924. Then, from 1942-92, during the Soviet Rule, the see remained vacant. Archbishop Jourdan was ordained bishop on Sept. 10, 2005, but not in a Catholic church, as he shared with Our Sunday Visitor: Our Sunday Visitor: The Catholic Church in Estonia is a small community of only about 7,000. What is the meaning of a visit to such a small flock? Archbishop Philippe Jean-Charles Jourdan: Pope Francis has said that he likes to visit small countries, which have greatly suffered. Estonia is such a country, and its great sufferings, especially during the 20th century (20 percent of the population was deported) gives the visit a special meaning. Approximately half of the world’s population lives in places where Catholics make up less than 1 percent. Pope Francis has said that the Church cannot just stay in its buildings — or in its traditional heartlands — but has to reach everybody. From Estonia, Pope Francis will speak to that half of the world where Catholics are a very small minority. It is not the logic of Catholic statistics, but the logic of Pope Francis. We Catholics sometimes have the tendency to consider that the Church is mainly that half of the world where a lot of Catholics live. But it is not correct as the Church is the whole world, is universal, is “catholic” by nature. OSV: Statistics on Estonia say that the majority of its inhabitants are without religion, are self-proclaimed atheists. Why is that, and what does the pope’s visit mean to them? Archbishop Jourdan: More than atheists, the majority of people in Estonia feel themselves as without religion (75-80 percent, according to the polls), even if many acknowledge the existence of a superior force. They are like the Athenians in the time of the apostle St. Paul, worshipping the “unknown God” (Acts 17:23). The visit of Pope Francis is for many of them a moment to stop in their ordinary life and discover that “unknown God” they are looking for. Certainly 50 years of communist occupation are greatly responsible for the current situation. But in a broader way, that situation reflects the trend of Europe in the last two or three centuries to try to live as though God didn’t exist. Because if it is true that the other European countries have usually a greater proportion of people claiming to be Christians than our country, when you visit those countries, you don’t feel a much greater religiosity than in Estonia. With some exceptions, of course, like Poland. Visit Schedule 1. Saturday, Sept. 22 (Rome, Vilnius) Travel from Rome to Lithuania, meet with government leaders and visit a Marian shrine and the cathedral. 2. Sunday, Sept. 23 (Vilnius, Kaunas, Vilnius) Public Mass, Angelus, meet with bishops, priests, religious and seminarians, prayer at the monument to the victims of the Vilnius Ghetto, visit and prayer at the Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights. 3. Monday, Sept. 24 (Vilnius, Riga, Vilnius) Travel to Latvia, meet with government leaders, ecumenical prayer service at Lutheran cathedral, visit to Catholic cathedral, visit to Marian shrine in Aglona, Mass outside ...
Tue, 11 Sep 2018 14:59:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will meet Sept. 13 with Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and with Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the Vatican press office announced. Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice president of the USCCB, and Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield, general secretary of the conference, also will participate in the meeting, said Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office. Cardinal DiNardo had said in a statement Aug. 16 that he was requesting a meeting at the Vatican following the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on the mishandling of hundreds of cases of sexual abuse in six dioceses and after news was released that allegations of child sexual abuse committed by Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, the former cardinal-archbishop of Washington, were found credible. The USCCB Executive Committee, Cardinal DiNardo had said, met recently and established three goals: "an investigation into the questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick; an opening of new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops; and advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints." Achieving the goals, he had said, would involve "consultation with experts, laity and clergy, as well as the Vatican. We will present this plan to the full body of bishops in our November meeting. In addition, I will travel to Rome to present these goals and criteria to the Holy See, and to urge further concrete steps based on them." "The overarching goal in all of this," he had said, "is stronger protections against predators in the church and anyone who would conceal them, protections that will hold bishops to the highest standards of transparency and accountability."
Tue, 11 Sep 2018 08:11:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Members of Pope Francis' international Council of Cardinals expressed "full solidarity" with him in the midst of questions about his handling of the clerical sexual abuse scandal and said the Vatican is planning a response to allegations made against him by a former nuncio. Only six of the nine cardinals who are members of the council participated in the meeting Sept. 10. The six "expressed full solidarity with Pope Francis in the face of what has happened in the last few weeks, aware that in the current debate the Holy See is formulating possible and necessary clarifications," according to a statement released after the first day of what was expected to be a three-day meeting. The September session of the council was the first since news broke in late June about an investigation finding credible sexual abuse allegations against then-Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, since the release in mid-August of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on how six dioceses handled abuse allegations and since the publication in late August of a document by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, former nuncio to the United States, alleging that Pope Francis knew of Cardinal McCarrick's sexual misconduct yet allowed him to continue in active ministry. Pope Francis formed the Council of Cardinals, often referred to as the C9, shortly after his election in 2013 to advise him on the reform of the Roman Curia and on church governance generally. The statement Sept. 10 said that council members asked Pope Francis for a reflection on "the work, structure and composition of the council itself, also taking into account the advanced age of some of its members." The six present for the September meeting were: Cardinals Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state; Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Sean P. O'Malley of Boston; Oswald Gracias of Mumbai, India; Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, Germany; and Giuseppe Bertello, president of the commission governing Vatican City State. The three who were absent were: 85-year-old Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile, who is facing questioning over his handling of abuse allegations; Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo, who turns 79 in early October; and 77-year-old Australian Cardinal George Pell, who currently is on trial in Australia on sex abuse charges.
Fri, 07 Sep 2018 18:20:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A top official from the Vatican Secretariat of State acknowledged allegations made by a New York priest in 2000 concerning Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, according to a letter obtained by Catholic News Service. Father Boniface Ramsey, pastor of St. Joseph's Church Yorkville in New York City, told CNS Sept. 7 that he received the letter dated Oct. 11, 2006, from then-Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, the former Vatican substitute for general affairs, asking for information regarding a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark who studied at Immaculate Conception Seminary and was being vetted for a post at a Vatican office. He made the letter available to CNS. Then-Archbishop Sandri wrote to Father Ramsey, "I ask with particular reference to the serious matters involving some of the students of the Immaculate Conception Seminary, which in November 2000 you were good enough to bring confidentially to the attention of the then Apostolic Nuncio in the United States, the late Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo." Father Ramsey had been on the faculty of the seminary from 1986 to 1996 and had sent a letter in 2000 to Archbishop Montalvo informing him of complaints he heard from seminarians studying at the seminary, located in South Orange, New Jersey. In the letter, Father Ramsey told CNS, "I complained about McCarrick's relationships with seminarians and the whole business with sleeping with seminarians and all of that; the whole business that everyone knows about," Father Ramsey said. Father Ramsey said he assumed the reason the letter from then-Archbishop Sandri, who is now a cardinal and prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, only mentioned "serious matters involving " seminarians and not Archbishop McCarrick's behavior was because accusations against the former cardinal were "too sensitive." "My letter November 22, 2000, was about McCarrick and it wasn't accusing seminarians of anything; it was accusing McCarrick." While Father Ramsey has said he never received a formal response to the letter he sent in 2000, he told CNS he was certain the letter had been received because of the note he got from then-Archbishop Sandri in 2006 acknowledging the allegations he had raised in 2000. The 2006 letter not only confirms past remarks made by Father Ramsey, but also elements of a document written by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who served as nuncio to the United States from 2011 to 2016. In an 11-page statement, published Aug. 26, Archbishop Vigano accused church officials, including Pope Francis, of failing to act on accusations of sexual abuse, as well as abuse of conscience and power by now-Archbishop McCarrick. Archbishop Vigano stated that the Vatican was informed as early as 2000 -- when he was an official at the Secretariat of State -- of allegations that Archbishop McCarrick "shared his bed with seminarians." Archbishop Vigano said the Vatican heard the allegation from the U.S. nuncios at the time: Archbishop Montalvo, who served from 1998 to 2005 and Archbishop Pietro Sambi, who served from 2005 to 2011. In late June, then-Cardinal McCarrick, the 88-year-old retired archbishop of Washington, said he would no longer exercise any public ministry "in obedience" to the Vatican after an allegation he abused a teenager 47 years ago in the Archdiocese of New York was found credible. The then-cardinal has said he is innocent. Since then, several former seminarians have claimed that the then-cardinal would invite groups of them to a beach house and insist individual members of the group share a bed with him.
Fri, 07 Sep 2018 08:22:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Turning an archaeological discovery into an appealing, informative site for tourists takes more than just digging interesting remains and ruins out of the dirt. That's why experts from the Vatican Museums and the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archaeology turned to a string of outside professionals to help spiff up a site unearthed near the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls 11 years ago. Before the remake, "it looked like a parking garage," Carolina De Camillis, an architect and lighting designer, told guests at the new unveiling in mid-July. Located underneath a bookstore and cafe next to the basilica, the 13,000-square-foot (1,200-square-meter) archaeological site was surrounded by concrete walls, polystyrene insulation ceiling panels and electrical cables draping every which way, she said. Her job, she said, was to see "what light could do to bring focus onto the site" while others worked on making the concrete surroundings less distracting. Giorgio Filippi, an archaeologist and expert in ancient inscriptions at the Vatican Museums, said the dig, which ran from 2007 to 2009, had revealed the remains of "a series of extraordinary buildings," including the only bell tower from the early medieval period remaining in Rome. They found evidence of what is most likely one of a number of houses for the poor that Pope Symmachus had built near the basilicas of St. Paul and St. Peter and the church of St. Lawrence in the sixth century as well as the marble bases of what had been columns supporting almost 2.5 miles of paved and covered walkways and porticoes to provide shade and rain protection to the throngs of pilgrims visiting the tomb of St. Paul. A large lead pipe which brought fresh water to the residence for the poor was excavated and restored showing an inscription that the plumbing pertained to the complex of "Sancti Pauli" and remains of a brick kiln are testament to the ongoing construction at the once expanding complex. The walls of an eighth-century monastery were found together with a well and a corridor that may have been the hallway of a dormitory. Right outside the monastery there had been vegetable gardens, an orchard and a small vineyard. "The new archaeological site opens a window onto the medieval period at St. Paul's and, more generally, medieval Rome," said Lucrezia Spera and Umberto Utro in the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, in late June. The purpose of the buildings and how the land was used show how the early church handled and cared for the deluge of visitors and the poor who flocked to the city's Christian shrines, they said in an article appearing before the site was reopened to the public June 28 -- the eve of the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. The remodeled site also reveals fresh details of the extensive and intense popular devotion to St. Paul throughout history. In ancient times, the bustling neighborhood that sprouted up around the shrine grew so crowded with buildings and shops that the sixth-century historian Procopius said marauders would find the place "difficult to attack." When the site was first opened to the public in 2013, visitors followed a narrow, elevated metal walkway through a poorly lit area. The original staging always was meant to be temporary, Utro said at the event. To revamp the site and better protect it from the elements, the museums eventually enlisted the help of architects and designers from Rome's La Sapienza University, its school of architectural heritage and the Higher Institute for Conservation and Restoration. The squeaking metal walkway was replaced with spacious wooden platforms. The white walls, ceiling and support columns were colored a dark gray, so they could let the white and light colors of the ruins pop out more, and wires and cables were encased in dark channels. The same kind of contrasting effect and "a clear sense of space" were made by covering the ground around the ruins with different colored pebbles, said Paolo ...
Tue, 04 Sep 2018 08:30:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Jesus himself showed that the best way to respond to scandal and divisiveness is to stay silent and pray, Pope Francis said Sept. 3 as he resumed his early morning Masses with invited guests. "With people lacking good will, with people who seek only scandal, with those who look only for division, who want only destruction," he said, the best response is "silence. And prayer." The pope's Mass and homily came just over a week after Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former papal nuncio to the United States, called on Pope Francis to resign for allegedly ignoring sanctions Pope Benedict XVI had placed on then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick for sexual misconduct. Asked about the archbishop's 11-page document, which included allegations of a "homosexual current" at the highest levels of the church, Pope Francis told reporters Aug. 26 to read the document for themselves and make their own judgments. The Vatican press office and most officials named in the archbishop's document also refused to comment. The Gospel for Sept. 3 recounted Jesus' return to Nazareth and the fury of the townspeople when he refused to perform miracles for them. The reading from St. Luke ends: "They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But he passed through the midst of them and went away." In his homily, Pope Francis said the reading should help Christians "reflect on how to act in daily life when there are misunderstandings," but also to understand "how the father of lies, the accuser, the devil acts to destroy the unity of a family, of a people." According to a Vatican News report on the homily, Pope Francis said that it was with his silence that Jesus defeated the "wild dogs," the devil, who "had sown lies in the hearts." "It wasn't people, it was a pack of wild dogs that chased him out of the city," the pope said. But Jesus is silent. "It is the dignity of Jesus. With his silence he defeats that wild pack and walks away because it was not yet his hour.' "This teaches us that when there is this way of acting, of not seeing the truth, silence remains," he said. Even in a family, he said, there are times when a discussion of politics or sports or money escalates into a truly destructive argument; "in these discussions in which you see the devil is there and wants to destroy -- silence. Have your say, then keep quiet." "Because the truth is meek. The truth is silent. The truth is not noisy," he said. Remaining silent and refusing to fight back is not always easy, he said, but it is what Jesus did and it is "anchored in the strength of God." "May the Lord grant us the grace to discern when we must speak and when we must remain silence," he prayed.
Wed, 29 Aug 2018 16:13:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While the faith of Catholics in Ireland is strong, the scandal of abuse and cover-up by church leaders has caused a decline in vocations to the priesthood and religious life, Pope Francis said. During his weekly general audience Aug. 29, the pope led pilgrims in praying a "Hail Mary" to Our Lady of Knock so "the Lord may send holy priests to Ireland, that he sends new vocations." "In Ireland there is faith; there are people of faith, a faith with great roots. But you know something? There are few vocations to the priesthood. Why? This faith doesn't flourish because of these problems, the scandals, many things," he said. In his audience talk, the pope reflected on his visit Aug. 25-26 to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families. The thousands of families participating from around the world, he said, were "an eloquent sign of the beauty of God's dream for the entire human family." "God's dream is unity, harmony and peace, the fruit of fidelity, forgiveness and reconciliation that he has given us in Christ," the pope said. "In the mystery of his love, he calls families to participate in this dream and make the world a home where nobody is alone, unwanted or excluded." The witness given by couples during the meeting, he continued, was a reminder that love in marriage is a gift from God that is "cultivated every day in the domestic church" and spreads "its beauty in the great community of the church and of society." "How much is the world in need of a revolution of love, of tenderness!" the pope said. "This revolution begins in the heart of the family." Pope Francis said that although there were moments of great joy during his trip, there were also moments of "pain and bitterness" caused by the suffering endured by survivors of abuse and "the fact that church leaders in the past did not always know how to adequately address these crimes." His meeting Aug. 25 with abuse survivors left "a profound mark," and he said he prayed for forgiveness "for these sins, for the scandal and the sense of betrayal" felt by survivors and members of the church. "I prayed that Our Lady would intercede for the healing of victims and give us the strength to firmly pursue truth and justice," the pope said. The Irish bishops, he said, have taken "a serious path of purification and reconciliation" with those who have suffered and have worked alongside government authorities to establish "a series of severe norms to guarantee the safety of young people." "In my meeting with the bishops, I encouraged them in their efforts to remedy the failures of the past with honesty and courage, trusting in the promises of the Lord and counting on the profound faith
Wed, 29 Aug 2018 09:45:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While recent accusations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano have created tension in the Catholic Church, Pope Francis is approaching the situation calmly, the Vatican secretary of state said. In an interview posted Aug. 30 by "Vatican Insider," the online news supplement to the Italian newspaper La Stampa, Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that in situations like the current crisis "that obviously creates so much bitterness and worry," the pope "has the ability to take a very serene approach." "From what I saw -- I haven't seen him today, but I have seen him in these days; I was with him during the trip to Ireland and after -- he seems serene," Cardinal Parolin said. In an 11-page statement, published Aug. 26, Archbishop Vigano, who served as nuncio to the United States from 2011 to 2016, accused church officials, including Pope Francis, of failing to act on accusations of abuse of conscience and power by now-Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick. Archbishop Vigano claimed he told Pope Francis about Cardinal McCarrick in 2013. Citing the rights of the faithful to "know who knew and who covered up (Archbishop McCarrick's) grave misdeeds," Archbishop Vigano also named nearly a dozen former and current Vatican officials -- including Cardinal Parolin -- who he claimed were aware of the accusations. Speaking to reporters traveling back to Rome with him from Dublin Aug. 26, Pope Francis called on them to read Archbishop Vigano's statement carefully "and make your own judgment." "I think the statement speaks for itself, and you have a sufficient journalistic ability to make a conclusion," the pope said. Cardinal Parolin said that "one can only express pain, great pain" in a situation in which a bishop makes serious accusations against the pope. "I hope that we can all work in the search for truth and justice, that those may be the points of reference and nothing more," the cardinal said. However, when asked his opinion of the veracity of Archbishop Vigano's accusations, Cardinal Parolin said he deferred to Pope Francis' response. "It is better not to enter into details on those things," Cardinal Parolin said. "I repeat what the pope said: You must read and make your own judgments; what was written speaks for itself."
Mon, 27 Aug 2018 08:21:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A former apostolic nuncio to the United States accused church officials, including Pope Francis, of failing to act on accusations of abuse of conscience and power by now-Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick. In an open letter first published by Lifesite News and National Catholic Register Aug. 26, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who served as nuncio to the United States from 2011-2016, wrote that he was compelled to write his knowledge of Archbishop McCarrick's misdeeds because "corruption has reached the very top of the church's hierarchy." Archbishop Vigano confirmed to the Washington Post Aug. 26 that he wrote the letter and said he would not comment further. Despite repeated requests from journalists, the Vatican had not responded to the allegations by midday Aug. 26. Throughout the 11-page testimony, which was translated by a Lifesite News correspondent, the former nuncio made several claims and accusations against prominent church officials, alleging they belong to "a homosexual current" that subverted church teaching on homosexuality. Citing the rights of the faithful to "know who knew and who covered up (Archbishop McCarrick's) grave misdeeds," Archbishop Vigano named nearly a dozen former and current Vatican officials who he claimed were aware of the accusations. Archbishop Vigano criticized Pope Francis for not taking action against Cardinal McCarrick after he claimed he told the pope of the allegations in 2013. However, he did not make any criticism of St. John Paul II, who appointed Archbishop McCarrick to lead the Archdiocese of Washington and made him a cardinal in 2001. According to the former nuncio's testimony, the Vatican was informed in 2000 of allegations that Archbishop McCarrick "shared his bed with seminarians" by two former U.S. nuncios -- Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo and Archbishop Pietro Sambi. This corresponds to remarks by Father Boniface Ramsey, pastor of St. Joseph's Church Yorkville in New York City, who told Catholic News Service earlier in August he had written a letter "and it didn't seem to go anywhere." Archbishop Vigano said that in 2006, as the official in the Secretariat of State that coordinated relations with nunciatures around the world, he sent two memos recommending that the Holy See "intervene as soon as possible by removing the cardinal's hat from Cardinal McCarrick and that he should be subjected to the sanctions established by the Code of Canon Law." "I was greatly dismayed at my superiors for the inconceivable absence of any measure against the cardinal, and for the continuing lack of any communication with me since my first memo in December 2006," he said. The former nuncio claimed that Pope Benedict XVI later "imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis." "I do not know when Pope Benedict took these measures against McCarrick, whether in 2009 or 2010, because in the meantime I had been transferred to the Governorate of Vatican City State, just as I do not know who was responsible for this incredible delay," he said. Then-Cardinal McCarrick, he said, "was to leave the seminary where he was living" which, at the time, was the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Washington, D.C. Archbishop McCarrick, he added, was also "forbidden to celebrate Mass in public, to participate in public meetings, to give lectures, to travel, with the obligation of dedicating himself to a life of prayer and penance." However, no such sanctions, which normally are made public, were announced by the Vatican at the time. The alleged sanctions, he said, continued to be in effect when Archbishop Vigano became apostolic nuncio to the United States in 2011 and were relayed to then-Cardinal McCarrick. "I repeated them to Cardinal McCarrick at my first meeting with him at the nunciature. The cardinal, muttering in a barely comprehensible way, admitted that he had perhaps made the mistake of sleeping in the same bed with some seminarians at his beach ...
Mon, 27 Aug 2018 08:11:00 -0400
ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM DUBLIN (CNS) -- Pope Francis said Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano's long document calling on him to resign is written in a way that people should be able to draw their own conclusions. "I read the statement this morning and, sincerely, I must say this to you and anyone interested: Read that statement attentively and make your own judgment," he told reporters Aug. 26. "I think the statement speaks for itself, and you have a sufficient journalistic ability to make a conclusion." Speaking to reporters traveling back to Rome with him from Dublin, the pope said his lack of comment was "an act of faith" in people reading the document. "Maybe when a bit of time has passed, I'll talk about it." Asked directly when he first learned of the former Cardinal McCarrick's sexual abuse, Pope Francis said the question was related directly to Archbishop Vigano's report and he would not comment now. Archbishop Vigano, the former nuncio to the United States, claimed he told Pope Francis about Cardinal McCarrick in 2013. In June, the Vatican announced that the pope had ordered the former Washington archbishop to live in "prayer and penance" while a canonical process proceeds against him. The pope later accepted Archbishop McCarrick's resignation from the College of Cardinals. The issue of clerical sexual abuse and other crimes and mistreatment of minors and vulnerable adults by Catholic priests and religious and the attempts by bishops and superiors to cover up the facts dominated the news coverage of the pope's trip to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families. The pope said his meeting Aug. 25 with survivors of abuse was "very painful," but it was very important "to listen to these people." Marie Collins, a survivor and former member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, told reporters after the meeting that she is still concerned that the pope has not established a tribunal to investigate and hold accountable bishops accused of failing to protect minors and covering up abuse. Pope Francis said while he likes and admires Collins, "she is fixated" on the accountability tribunal, and he believes he has found a more efficient and flexible way to investigate and try suspected bishops by setting up temporary tribunals when needed. The pope then went on to describe how "many bishops" had been investigated and tried, most recently Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron of Agana, Guam. In March an ad hoc apostolic tribunal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith found him guilty of "certain accusations." Pope Francis said the archbishop has appealed the conviction and, while he has asked some canon lawyers for input, he plans to make the final judgment on the archbishop's case himself. But the archbishop was accused of sexually abusing minors; the tribunal Collins was talking about was supposed to look specifically at bishops accused of covering up cases of abuse. The pope immediately welcomed one of the suggestions made during the meeting with survivors: that he ask publicly and very specifically for forgiveness for the abuse that took place in a variety of Catholic institutions. The result was a penitential litany at the beginning of the Mass he celebrated in Dublin Aug. 26 to close the World Meeting of the Families. Pope Francis said the survivors' meeting was the first time he had heard details about the church-run homes for women who were pregnant out of wedlock. Many of the women were forced to give their babies up for adoption and were even told that it would be a "mortal sin" to go looking for their children. The now-notorious St. Mary's home for unmarried mothers and their children in Tuam was a specific case brought to the pope's attention personally by Katherine Zappone, Irish minister for children and youth affairs. Pope Francis told reporters that Zappone had given him a memo about a "mass grave" found on the site of one of the homes and "it appears that the church was involved." In May 2014 ...
Mon, 27 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0400
In a scathing 11-page written statement, the Vatican’s former ambassador to the United States accuses Pope Francis of ignoring concerns about Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and lifting sanctions against the former cardinal years before the public became aware of abuse allegations against him. Without offering any corroborating documentation, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò alleges that Pope Benedict XVI, sometime in 2009 or 2010, banned the former U.S. cardinal from publicly celebrating Mass, living in a seminary or traveling to give lectures, and ordered him to a life of prayer and penance. Archbishop Viganò, 77, a vocal critic of Pope Francis and a controversial figure in Vatican politics, said he learned about those sanctions from the former prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and that he personally informed Pope Francis about them in June 2013. He said the pope failed to act. He said he knew “He knew from at least June 23, 2013, that McCarrick was a serial predator,” writes Archbishop Viganò, who also called on Pope Francis to “set a good example” and resign along with the cardinals and bishops who the archbishop said covered up Archbishop McCarrick’s alleged abuse. In a statement emailed to Our Sunday Visitor, Washington D.C. attorney Barry Coburn, who represents Archbishop McCarrick, declined to directly address the allegations raised in Archbishop Viganò’s letter. “These are serious allegations,” Coburn said. “Archbishop McCarrick, like any other person, has a right to due process. He looks forward to invoking that right at the appropriate time.” Archbishop Viganò’s letter, which was first reported Saturday, was released while Pope Francis visited Ireland, which has also been rocked with its own abuse crisis. On Saturday, the pope addressed the crisis during a Mass at Phoenix Park in Dublin. “Some members of the hierarchy didn’t own up to these painful situations and kept silence. We ask for forgiveness,” Pope Francis said. Speaking aboard the papal plane from Dublin to Rome on Aug. 26, Pope Francis declined to address the former nuncio’s claims. The pontiff said people can make up their own minds about the statement. “I read the statement this morning, and I must tell you sincerely that, I must say this, to you and all those who are interested: Read the statement carefully and make your own judgment,” Pope Francis said, adding that the statement “speaks for itself.” A difficult time In the United States, the archbishop’s statement provided another flashpoint in the clergy abuse scandals that have engulfed the American Catholic community since revelations came to light that Archbishop McCarrick, the former cardinal-archbishop of Washington D.C., is alleged to have sexually abused seminarians and minors. The statement also created new scrutiny for Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the current archbishop of Washington D.C., who is already dealing with the fallout from the Pennsylvania grand jury report this month that raised questions regarding how he handled clergy sex abuse cases during his tenure as bishop of Pittsburgh. In his statement, Archbishop Viganò said he mentioned the reported sanctions against former Archbishop McCarrick to Cardinal Wuerl, and that based on the cardinal’s response, “it was immediately clear to me that he was fully aware of it.” Chieko Noguchi, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Washington D.C., provided a statement to OSV disputing the archbishop’s claims. “In spite of what Archbishop Viganò’s memo indicates, Cardinal Wuerl did not receive any documentation or information during his time in Washington regarding any actions taken against Archbishop McCarrick,” Noguchi said. The claims made in the 7,000-word statement — which Archbishop Viganò called his “testimony” — angered many longtime critics of Pope Francis, some of whom took to social media over the weekend to demand accountability and the pope’s resignation. The pope’s defenders cast doubts on the statement and cited a 2014 memo that ...
Tue, 21 Aug 2018 00:00:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis will meet survivors of sexual abuse during his trip to Ireland Aug. 25-26, but it will be up to the survivors to decide whether any information about the meeting will be released, said the director of the Vatican press office. Greg Burke, press director, told reporters Aug. 21 that from the moment the Vatican decided the World Meeting of Families 2018 would be in Dublin, it was clear that the pope would have to acknowledge the crimes committed against thousands of Irish Catholics by priests in parishes and by priests, religious brothers and nuns in schools, orphanages and other institutions. The date, time and location of the meeting and the list of survivors invited will not be released until after the meeting, and then only with the permission of the survivors taking part, Burke said. Pope Francis wants the trip to focus on families, Burke said, which is why he is not going to Northern Ireland on the same visit. Even the moments dictated by protocol -- for example, meetings with government officials -- will focus on the family, he said. Asked whether the pope and the Vatican were concerned that with renewed media attention on clerical sexual abuse the theme would overshadow the pope's focus on the family, Burke responded, "Any trip to Ireland was not only going to be about the family." "The pope is well rested and ready and wants to talk about the family," Burke said. However, in discussing the individual events on the pope's schedule in Ireland, the spokesman also mentioned that Aug. 25 Pope Francis would begin his visit to Dublin's co-cathedral by praying silently before a candle in the Blessed Sacrament chapel that burns for the abuse survivors. Without providing details, Burke also said the pope would talk about abuse in at least one of his speeches during the trip
Fri, 17 Aug 2018 07:41:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In the wake of a grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse in six dioceses in Pennsylvania, a Vatican spokesman called the abuses described in the report as being "criminal and morally reprehensible." "Victims should know that the pope is on their side. Those who have suffered are his priority, and the church wants to listen to them to root out this tragic horror that destroys the lives of the innocent," said Greg Burke, head of the Vatican press office, in a written statement Aug. 16. "Those acts were betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith. The church must learn hard lessons from its past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur," he wrote. "The Holy See condemns unequivocally the sexual abuse of minors," Burke wrote and, as such, "the Holy See encourages continued reform and vigilance at all levels of the Catholic Church, to help ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable adults from harm." "The Holy See also wants to underscore the need to comply with the civil law, including mandatory child abuse reporting requirements," he added. The statement, sent in Italian with unofficial English and Spanish translations, came after the Pennsylvania attorney general held a news conference Aug. 14 announcing a 900-page report detailing decades of child sexual abuse by 301 priests, who harmed more than 1,000 victims. In response the report, Burke said, "there are two words that can express the feelings faced with these horrible crimes: shame and sorrow." "The Holy Father understands well how much these crimes can shake the faith and the spirit of believers and reiterates the call to make every effort to create a safe environment for minors and vulnerable adults in the church and in all of society," the spokesman said.
Wed, 15 Aug 2018 14:42:00 -0400
“An army of youth flying the standards of truth, / We’re fighting for Christ, the Lord. / Heads lifted high, Catholic Action our cry, / And the cross our only sword.” More than a few Catholics of a certain age will recognize those stirring words as the opening of a song they sang in Catholic schools more years ago than they care to remember. Its name is “For Christ the King” — otherwise known as “An Army of Youth” — and it could tell us something useful about reaching and motivating kids today. Church leaders and Catholic parents alike often express alarm at the evidence that large numbers of today’s young people are walking away from the Faith. An assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome in October will focus attention on this problem and what can be done about it. “For Christ the King” isn’t the total solution, but it illustrates an approach that apparently worked at one time and, judiciously adapted to current circumstances, might work again. In a nutshell, it comes down to presenting kids with a noble ideal and challenging them to go for it. Father Lord The song was the work of Jesuit Father Daniel A. Lord, an activist from the Midwest who, along with writing music, published some 90 books and 300 pamphlets. He also composed and directed a string of stage productions featuring drama and music that he wrote and frequently performed on the piano — all in the service of promoting religious faith and sound values. Father Daniel A. Lord. OSV file photo Born in Chicago in 1888, he joined the Jesuits as a young man and was ordained in 1923. A 2005 article in the Jesuit magazine, “America,” published to mark the 50th anniversary of his death, summed up his achievement like this: “Lord’s dramatic and literary works testified to the enduring appeal of themes of heroism, virtue and faith and their ability to speak to the young of every generation. During his lifetime he energized and engaged hundreds of thousands of young people by employing music, drama, narrative and ritual as means to spiritual growth.” In 1927, he served as a technical consultant for producer Cecil B. DeMille’s famous silent film depicting the life of Christ, “King of Kings.” A few years later he wrote a draft of a production code for motion pictures that, adopted with only minor changes, set the moral standards for Hollywood movies well into the 1950s. But movies were only part of his work. In 1926, he’d been named national director of the Jesuit-sponsored Sodality of the Blessed Virgin. The organization, headquartered in St. Louis, was a loose federation of sodalities — groups for spiritual formation and devotion — that then were common at Jesuit and other Catholic schools. In decline when Father Lord took it over, the sodality movement reversed course under his vigorous leadership, eventually reaching a peak membership of 2 million. Writing at the rate of 20,000 words a month, he cranked out a steady stream of books, pamphlets and articles. Along with teaching the Faith and fostering devotion, he argued for economic and social justice and opposed racial discrimination and anti-Semitism. By the time death ended his 35-year ministry, his published works had sold more than 25 million copies. The priest also edited the national Sodality magazine, “The Queen’s Work.” It was there in 1932 that “For Christ the King” made its appearance. “On earth’s battlefield / Never a vantage we’ll yield / As dauntlessly on we swing. / Comrades true, dare and do, / ’Neath the Queen’s white and blue, / For our flag, for our faith, / For Christ the King.” Although its military imagery might not click with kids today, back then the song’s jaunty march tune and lofty sentiments about duty, honor and devotion made it a hit with its intended youth audience. It was repeatedly sung at sodality convocations and gatherings of other groups, such as the Catholic Students Mission Crusade. Youth today All this bears little resemblance to the preparations for the impending bishops’ synod on ...
Mon, 13 Aug 2018 07:40:00 -0400
ROME (CNS) -- Members of the Catholic Church sin and give scandal, it's true, Pope Francis said, but it is up to each Catholic to live the faith as authentically as possible and witness to the world the love of Jesus. "The best way to respond is with witness," the pope said Aug. 11 in response to a young man who said, "The useless pomp and frequent scandals have made the church barely credible in our eyes." Pope Francis spoke about witness, dreams and true love during an evening meeting with some 70,000 young adults, aged 16 to 30, gathered at Rome's Circus Maximus at the end of a pilgrimage. Most of them had walked at least 50 miles over the previous three or four days. Representatives came from 195 of Italy's 226 dioceses, and 150 bishops walked at least part of the way with groups from their dioceses. The young people began congregating at the dusty site of the ancient Roman stadium early in the afternoon when temperatures were already in the 90s. They gathered together on the shady slopes of the field, under the loudspeaker towers and even set up their pup tents seeking relief from the bright sun. Five young people were chosen to share their stories with the crowd and ask Pope Francis questions. They asked his advice about keeping their dreams alive when the future seems so uncertain, how to prepare to marry and start a family and how to get church leaders to listen to them rather than preach at them. "He put his finger in the wound," the pope said in reference to the last question, which was posed by Dario, a 27-year-old hospice nurse. He told the pope, "For young people, commands from on high are no longer enough, we need signs and the sincere witness of a church that accompanies us and listens to the doubts our generation raises each day." Dario's judgment of the church's pastors is "strong," the pope said, and it is true that "sometimes we are the ones who betray the Gospel." But Pope Francis also told the young people they need to recognize that they, too, are part of the church. Thinking only religious, priests and bishops are the church is "clericalism" and "clericalism is a perversion of the church," he said. The best way to respond to a stuffy, lifeless church or to church scandals, the pope told them, "is with witness. If there is no witness, there is no Holy Spirit. The church without witness is just smoke." Letizia, 23, told the pope she wanted to be an art historian, but was advised to study economy because it would pay better. Lucamatteo, 20, told the pope dreaming big dreams is frightening, and Martina, 24, said she wants to start preparing for marriage and a family, but everyone seems to think it's more important to have a career first. "Dreams are important," the pope told them. "And the dreams of the young are the most important of all; they are the brightest stars, those that indicate a different path for humanity." Of course, he said, dreams must grow, be put to the test and purified. Those worth pursuing -- those the Bible would call "great dreams" -- always are those that will help others and make the world a better place. "Great dreams include, involve others, reach out, share and generate new life." One of the greatest dreams of all, he said, is the dream of finding true love, pledging oneself to another for life and creating a family. It is so important and so holy, he said, that it should never take second place to one's career. True love is not simply infatuation, the pope told the young people. It involves giving all of oneself to another; "you have to put all the meat on the grill, as we say in Argentina." "To choose, to be able to decide for oneself seems to be the highest expression of freedom," he said. "And in a certain sense, it is. But the idea of choice we breathe today is that of a freedom without bonds -- pay attention to this -- without bonds, without commitment and always with some kind of escape route." But true joy and happiness come from finding what is most precious, what "is ...
Wed, 08 Aug 2018 14:29:00 -0400
In 1859 Father — later Cardinal — John Henry Newman published a long essay, which he called “On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine.” Although controversial when it first appeared, it is still mined today for its insights. Now, however, the Church may need a different study, with a title like “On Consulting the Faithful on the Selection and Promotion of Bishops.” And the scandal surrounding Archbishop Theodore McCarrick suggests it can’t come too soon. Following the accusations against McCarrick of sexual misconduct with boys and young men, including seminarians and priests, Pope Francis accepted his resignation from the College of Cardinals and removed him from ministry pending a Church trial. Many welcome this but believe it isn’t enough. Beyond digging out the facts of this scandal, reforms are needed to reduce the chances of something like it happening again and to rebuild trust in the hierarchy. Necessary as that is, others say, the reforms should include major changes in the way men become bishops and are promoted within the ranks of the hierarchy. One such change would be to give laypeople a much larger role in the vetting process than they have now. Current system Involving laypeople wouldn’t by itself prevent something like the McCarrick scandal from happening. But it would reduce the influence of the system that kept the former cardinal moving up in the ranks of the hierarchy even though his misdeeds were rumored. As it stands, the vetting process for men being considered for appointment or promotion as bishops already allows for limited, confidential consultation of the laity. Canon 377 of the Code of Canon Law says that “if he deems it expedient” the nuncio or papal legate in the country may seek the views of laypeople “outstanding for their wisdom” concerning particular candidates. But the canon specifies that this is to be done “individually and in secret,” a practice that has been employed at various times. Such consultation could be made mandatory and involve new lay consultative bodies established for this purpose, as well as a more forthcoming vision of consulting the laity that sees it as not just consultation “of” laypeople but collegial consultation with them. Messy precedents The ways in which bishops are chosen have varied greatly over the centuries. Indeed, until early in the last century, rulers of Catholic countries claimed and sometimes exercised a right to intervene even in papal elections. As that suggests, not every suggested change in the way bishops are chosen is necessarily desirable. But there are plenty of precedents — both good and bad — for involving laypeople. In the early centuries of the Church, the preferred approach was participation by all the members of the local church — including the laity — in selecting their bishop. St. Cyprian, a third-century bishop of Carthage, wrote that there was “divine authority” for having candidates evaluated by “public scrutiny and testimony” and “chosen in the presence of the laity and before the eyes of all.” Role in Investigation and Review As bishops have wrangled with how to respond to the McCarrick case, some have floated the idea of a review board to investigate and respond to allegations against bishops. In an Aug. 6 statement, Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany, New York, asserted that lay participation in such a body would be essential: “I think we have reached a point where bishops alone investigating bishops is not the answer. To have credibility, a panel would have to be separated from any source of power whose trustworthiness might potentially be compromised. ... What is needed now is an independent commission led by well-respected, faithful lay leaders who are beyond reproach, people whose role on such a panel will not serve to benefit them financially, politically or personally. These will be people with a deep understanding of the Catholic faith, but without an axe to grind or an agenda to push. It will not be easy, ...
Thu, 02 Aug 2018 07:28:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Building on the development of Catholic Church teaching against capital punishment, Pope Francis has ordered a revision of the Catechism of the Catholic Church to assert "the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person" and to commit the church to working toward its abolition worldwide. The catechism's paragraph on capital punishment, 2267, already had been updated by St. John Paul II in 1997 to strengthen its skepticism about the need to use the death penalty in the modern world and, particularly, to affirm the importance of protecting all human life. Announcing the change Aug. 2, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said, "The new text, following in the footsteps of the teaching of John Paul II in 'Evangelium Vitae,' affirms that ending the life of a criminal as punishment for a crime is inadmissible because it attacks the dignity of the person, a dignity that is not lost even after having committed the most serious crimes." "Evangelium Vitae" ("The Gospel of Life") was St. John Paul's 1995 encyclical letter on the dignity and sacredness of all human life. The encyclical led to an updating of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which he originally promulgated in 1992 and which recognized "the right and duty of legitimate public authority to punish malefactors by means of penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime, not excluding, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty." At the same time, the original version of the catechism still urged the use of "bloodless means" when possible to punish criminals and protect citizens. The catechism now will read: "Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good. "Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption," the new section continues. Pope Francis' change to the text concludes: "Consequently, the church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that 'the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,' and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide." In his statement, Cardinal Ladaria noted how St. John Paul, retired Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis had all spoken out against capital punishment and appealed for clemency for death-row inmates on numerous occasions. The development of church doctrine away from seeing the death penalty as a possibly legitimate punishment for the most serious crimes, the cardinal said, "centers principally on the clearer awareness of the church for the respect due to every human life. Along this line, John Paul II affirmed: 'Not even a murderer loses his personal dignity, and God himself pledges to guarantee this.'" Pope Francis specifically requested the change to the catechism in October during a speech at the Vatican commemorating the 25th anniversary of the text's promulgation. The death penalty, no matter how it is carried out, he had said, "is, in itself, contrary to the Gospel, because a decision is voluntarily made to suppress a human life, which is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator and of whom, in the last analysis, only God can be the true judge and guarantor." Cardinal Ladaria also noted that the popes were not the only Catholics to become increasingly aware of how the modern use of the death penalty conflicted with church teaching on the dignity ...
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