Tue, 22 May 2018 12:42:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- An abuse survivor, who had been disparaged for being a homosexual, said that Pope Francis told him that God made him that way and loved him for who he was. Juan Carlos Cruz -- one of the three survivors from Chile who met with the pope April 27-30 at the Vatican -- said his homosexuality and how it brought about further suffering was something he discussed with the pope during the private meeting. Cruz told the Spanish daily, El Pais, in an interview published May 19 that the pope had been told by detractors "that I was a pervert. I explained that I was not St. Aloysius Gonzaga, but that I am not a bad person either. I try not to hurt anybody." According to Cruz, the pope then told him, "Juan Carlos, it doesn't matter that you are gay. God made you that way and he loves you the way you are, and it doesn't matter to me. The pope loves you the way you are; you have to be happy with who you are." The Vatican does not comment on the content of private conversations with the pope. The "Catechism of the Catholic Church'' says the "psychological genesis" of same-sex attraction "remains largely unexplained" and that those men and women with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" do not choose their condition. "Tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to the natural law" and under no circumstances can such acts be approved, the catechism teaches. "They do not choose their homosexual condition; for most of them it is a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided," it says. The church teaches that any sexual activity outside the bond of marriage between a man and a woman is sinful and that "homosexual persons are called to chastity" and to seek to fulfill God's will in their lives. Such teachings were also evident when Pope Francis told reporters in 2013, "Who am I to judge" a homosexual person "who is seeking God, who is of goodwill." "The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well. It says one must not marginalize these persons, they must be integrated into society. The problem isn't this (homosexual) orientation -- we must be like brothers and sisters," Pope Francis said during a news conference with reporters flying with him from Brazil to Rome. In a book-length interview published in 2010, then-Pope Benedict XVI was asked whether the church teaching that homosexuals deserve respect is not contradicted by its position that homosexual acts are "intrinsically disordered." The pope answered, "No. It is one thing to say that they are human beings with their problems and their joys, that as human beings they deserve respect, even though they have this inclination, and must not be discriminated against because of it." In the book, "Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times," Pope Benedict said, "sexuality has an intrinsic meaning and direction, which is not homosexual," rather, the meaning and purpose of sexuality "is to bring about the union of man and woman and, in this way, to give humanity posterity, children, a future." He said it was still an open question whether homosexual inclinations are innate or arise early in life. In any case, he said, if these are strong inclinations, it represents "a great trial" for the homosexual person.
Tue, 22 May 2018 08:24:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Here are brief biographical notes about each of the 14 churchmen who will become cardinals June 29. Their names are listed in the order Pope Francis announced them May 20: -- Iraqi Cardinal-designate Louis Raphael I Sako, the Chaldean Catholic patriarch, was ordained a bishop eight months after the U.S. invasion of Iraq. He witnessed the exodus of the country's native Christians and ministered to the beleaguered and martyred people who remained. After his installation as head of the Chaldean Catholic Church in 2013, he said the church must be a sign of hope, witness and communion, despite the difficulties, and work together with all Iraqis to defend human dignity and peaceful coexistence based on equal rights. The 69-year-old cardinal-designate was born July 4, 1948, in Zakho. After studies in Mosul, Rome and Paris, he returned to Mosul in 1986 and served as pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish and, during the U.S.-led embargo of Iraq, he and several physicians and pharmacists opened a dispensary for the poor. He was rector of the patriarchal seminary in Baghdad before the Chaldean bishops' synod elected him archbishop of Kirkuk in 2002 -- an election approved by St. John Paul II in 2003. He was elected to lead the Chaldean Church in early 2013, and Pope Benedict XVI formally recognized the election soon after. Iraq's Christian population, believed to number up to 1.4 million in the late 1990s, now is believed to be significantly fewer than 500,000. Almost two-thirds of Iraqi Christians belong to the Chaldean Catholic Church. -- Spanish Cardinal-designate Luis F. Ladaria, 74, was born in Manacor, Mallorca, April 19, 1944, and earned a law degree at the University of Madrid before entering the Society of Jesus in 1966. After theology and philosophy studies in Spain and Germany, he was ordained to the priesthood July 29, 1973. He earned a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 1975 and began teaching dogmatic theology at the Pontifical University Comillas in Madrid. Nine years later, he returned to the Gregorian to teach, and he served as vice rector of the university from 1986 to 1994. Pope Benedict XVI made him an archbishop and appointed him secretary of the doctrinal congregation after having worked with him as a member of the International Theological Commission from 1992 to 1997, as a consultant to the doctrinal congregation from 1995 to 2008 and as secretary general of the theological commission from 2004 until being named congregation secretary. Pope Francis promoted Cardinal-designate Ladaria to prefect of the congregation in 2017. As prefect, he is responsible for promoting the correct interpretation of Catholic doctrine and theology; his office also is responsible for conducting investigations of clergy accused of sexually abusing minors. -- Cardinal-designate Angelo De Donatis, 64, a well-known retreat master and spiritual director, was chosen by Pope Francis in 2014 to lead his first Lenten retreat as pope. In 2015, Pope Francis named him an auxiliary bishop of Rome, and in 2017, tapped him to be his vicar for the Diocese of Rome. Born Jan. 4, 1954, in Casarano, Italy, he earned a licentiate in moral theology from Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University. Ordained to the priesthood in 1980 for the Diocese of Nardo-Gallipoli, he was incardinated as a priest of the Diocese of Rome in 1983. He ministered in a number of parishes and worked in the offices of the Rome vicariate before becoming the archivist for the College of Cardinals, a position he held from 1989 to 1991. For six years, he was director of the Rome diocesan office for clergy and, from 1990 to 2003, served as the spiritual director of the Rome diocesan seminary. -- Cardinal-designate Giovanni Angelo Becciu, 69, has served since 2011 as "substitute for general affairs" in the Vatican Secretariat of State, a position often described as being the pope's chief of staff, the one who deals with ...
Mon, 21 May 2018 07:42:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis announced he would make 14 new cardinals June 29, giving the red cardinal's hat to the papal almoner, the Iraq-based patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church and the archbishop of Karachi, Pakistan, among others. Announcing his choices May 20, the pope said that coming from 11 nations, the new cardinals "express the universality of the church, which continues to proclaim the merciful love of God to all people of the earth." Pope Francis' list included three men over the age of 80 "who have distinguished themselves for their service to the church." When the pope made the announcement, the College of Cardinals had 213 members, 115 of whom were under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope. Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, was to celebrate his 80th birthday June 8. Under Pope Francis, the idea that some church posts and large archdioceses always are led by a cardinal is fading, but is not altogether gone. His latest choices included the papal vicar of Rome, Cardinal-designate Angelo De Donatis, and the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal-designate Luis F. Ladaria. But other traditional cardinal sees like Venice and Milan in Italy or Baltimore and Philadelphia in the United States were not included in the pope's latest picks. With the new nominations, the number of cardinal-electors -- those under 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave -- will exceed by five the limit of 120 set by Pope Paul VI. But previous popes also set the limit aside without formally changing the limit. After the consistory June 29, Pope Francis will have created almost half of the voting cardinals. Nineteen of those under 80 in late June will be cardinals given red hats by St. John Paul II; 47 will have been created by retired Pope Benedict XVI; and 59 will have been welcomed into the College of Cardinals by Pope Francis. The new cardinals hail from: Iraq, Spain, Italy, Poland, Pakistan, Portugal, Peru, Madagascar, Japan, Mexico and Bolivia. The new cardinals, listed in the order Pope Francis announced them, are: -- Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, 69, Iraq. -- Spanish Archbishop Luis F. Ladaria, 74, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. -- Italian Archbishop Angelo De Donatis, 64, papal vicar for the Diocese of Rome. -- Italian Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, 69, substitute secretary of state. -- Polish Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, 54, papal almoner. -- Archbishop Joseph Coutts of Karachi, Pakistan, 72. -- Bishop Antonio dos Santos Marto of Leiria-Fatima, Portugal, 71. -- Archbishop Pedro Barreto of Huancayo, Peru, 74. -- Archbishop Desire Tsarahazana of Toamasina, Madagascar, 63. -- Archbishop Giuseppe Petrocchi of L'Aquila, Italy, 69. -- Archbishop Thomas Aquinas Manyo Maeda of Osaka, Japan, 69. -- Archbishop Sergio Obeso Rivera, retired archbishop of Xalapa, Mexico, 86. -- Bishop Toribio Ticona Porco, retired prelate of Corocoro, Bolivia, 81. -- Spanish Claretian Father Aquilino Bocos Merino, 80.
Fri, 18 May 2018 08:11:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Every bishop in Chile offered his resignation to Pope Francis after a three-day meeting at the Vatican to discuss the clerical sexual abuse scandal. "We want to announce that all bishops present in Rome, in writing, have placed our positions in the Holy Father's hands so that he may freely decide regarding each one of us," Bishop Juan Ignacio Gonzalez Errazuriz of San Bernardo said May 18 in a statement on behalf of the country's bishops. The unprecedented decision was made on the final day of their meeting May 15-17 with Pope Francis. Auxiliary Bishop Fernando Ramos Perez of Santiago, secretary-general of the Chilean bishops' conference, said the pope had read to the 34 bishops a document in which he "expressed his conclusions and reflections" on the 2,300-page report compiled by Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta and his aide, Father Jordi Bertomeu, during a visit to Chile to investigate the scandal. "The pope's text clearly showed a series of absolutely reprehensible acts that have occurred in the Chilean church in relation to those unacceptable abuses of power, of conscience and sexual abuse that have resulted in the lessening of the prophetic vigor that characterized her," Bishop Ramos said. After reflecting on the pope's assessment, he added, the bishops decided to hand in their resignations "to be in greater harmony with the will of the Holy Father." "In this way, we could make a collegial gesture in solidarity to assume responsibility -- not without pain -- for the serious acts that have occurred and so that the Holy Father can, freely, have us at his disposal," Bishop Ramos said. Shortly after the announcement, Juan Carlos Cruz, one of three survivors who met privately with Pope Francis in April, tweeted, "All Chilean bishops have resigned. Unprecedented and good. This will change things forever." The bishops will continue in office unless or until the pope accepts their resignations. The document in which Pope Francis gave his evaluation of the situation of the church in Chile was leaked May 17 by Chilean news channel Tele 13. The Associated Press reported that the Vatican confirmed the document's authenticity. The pope wrote in the document that removing some church leaders from office "must be done," but that "it is not enough; we must go further. It would be irresponsible of us not to go deep in looking for the roots and structures that allowed these concrete events to happen and carry on." In it, the pope said that "the painful situations that have happened are indications that something is wrong with the ecclesial body." The wound of sexual abuse, he said, "has been treated until recently with a medicine that, far from healing, seems to have worsened its depth and pain." Reminding the bishops that "the disciple is not greater than his master," Pope Francis warned them of a "psychology of the elite" that ignores the suffering of the faithful. He also said he was concerned by reports regarding "the attitude with which some of you bishops have reacted in the face of present and past events." This attitude, the pope said, was guided by the belief that instead of addressing the issue of sexual abuse, bishops thought that "just the removal of people would solve the problem." In an accompanying footnote, the pope said the bishops' behavior could be labeled as "the Caiphas syndrome," referring to the high priest who condemned Jesus saying, "Better for one man to die for the people than that the whole nation perish." The act of covering up cases of abuse, he added, was akin to the Latin American saying, "Muerto el perro se acabo la rabia" ("Dead dogs don't bite"). The document's footnotes included several details from the investigation made by Archbishop Scicluna, who is president of a board of review within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; the board handles appeals filed by clergy accused of abuse or other serious crimes. The pope said the report confirmed that, in some ...
Thu, 17 May 2018 08:23:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Financial and economic decisions -- everything from where a family chooses to invest its savings to where a multinational corporation declares its tax residence -- are ethical decisions that can be virtuous or sinful, a new Vatican document said. "There can be no area of human action that legitimately claims to be either outside of or impermeable to ethical principles based on liberty, truth, justice and solidarity," said the document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. The text, "Considerations for an Ethical Discernment Regarding Some Aspects of the Present Economic-Financial System," was approved by Pope Francis and released May 17 at a Vatican news conference with Archbishop Luis F. Ladaria, congregation prefect, and Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the dicastery. Based on principles long part of Catholic social teaching and referring frequently to the teaching of St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, the document insisted that every economic activity has a moral and ethical dimension. Responding to questions, Archbishop Ladaria said it is true that Catholic moral theology has focused more on questions of sexual ethics than business ethics, but that does not mean that the economy and finance are outside the scope of Catholic moral teaching. For example, he said, over the centuries the church and the popes repeatedly have intervened to condemn usury. Pope Francis, he said, supported the development of the document, but the idea of writing it and examining the ethical and moral implications of the current economic scene came from "the grassroots." "At stake is the authentic well-being of a majority of the men and women of our planet who are at risk of being 'excluded and marginalized' from development and true well-being while a minority, indifferent to the condition of the majority, exploits and reserves for itself substantial resources and wealth," the document said. The size and complexity of the global economy, it said, may lead most people to think there is nothing they can do to promote an economy of solidarity and contribute to the wellbeing of everyone in the world, but every financial choice a person makes -- especially if they act with others -- can make a difference, it said. "For instance, the markets live thanks to the supply and demand of goods," it said. "It becomes therefore quite evident how important a critical and responsible exercise of consumption and savings actually is." Even something as simple as shopping can be important, the document said. Consumers should avoid products manufactured in conditions "in which the violation of the most elementary human rights is normal." They can avoid doing business with companies "whose ethics in fact do not know any interest other than that of the profit of their shareholders at any cost." Being ethical, it said, also can mean preferring to put one's savings in investments that have been certified as socially responsible and they can join others in shareholder actions meant to promote more ethical behavior by the companies in which they invest. In a statement distributed at the news conference, Archbishop Ladaria said that "the origin of the spread of dishonest and predatory financial practices" is a misunderstanding of who the human person is. "No longer knowing who he is and why he is in the world, he no longer knows how to act for the good" and ends up doing what seems convenient at the moment. "The strongest economic subjects have become 'superstars' who hoard enormous quantities of resources, resources that are distributed less than before and are increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few people," he said. "It's incredible to think that 10 people can possess almost half of the world's wealth, but today that is a reality!" Cardinal Turkson told reporters, "a healthy economic system is vital to forge flourishing human relationships." "To help ...
Wed, 16 May 2018 07:42:00 -0400
ROME (CNS) -- After months of study and discussion, the parishes of the Diocese of Rome have recognized "a general and healthy exhaustion" with doing the same things over and over, touching the lives of fewer and fewer people as time goes on, Pope Francis said. Changing the way parishes -- and their priests and involved laity -- operate will not be easy, the pope said, but members of the diocese must set out to follow the Lord more closely, deal with the reality in their neighborhoods and learn how to show everyone living within the parish boundaries that they are recognized and loved. Pope Francis addressed some 1,700 diocesan leaders, both clergy and laity, May 14 at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of the diocese of Rome. In the process of identifying the "spiritual illnesses" of the diocese, the pope said, the priests and parish leaders made it clear that they are tired of being content with what they have been doing for years. A renewed outreach, the pope said, must begin by "learning to discern where God already is present in very ordinary forms of holiness and communion with him." There are people in the parishes, he said, who might not know their catechism, but they see the basic interactions in their lives through a lens of faith and hope. Calling for a "revolution of tenderness" in parishes and the diocese, Pope Francis said that while "guiding a Christian community is the specific task of the ordained minister -- the pastor -- pastoral care is based in baptism and blossoms from brotherhood and is not the task only of the pastor and priests, but of all the baptized." The pope's speech marked his formal reception of a diocesan report on "spiritual illnesses" afflicting the city. Through a process that began in Lent, parishes identified the main challenges as "the economy of exclusion, selfish laziness, comfortable individualism, wars among us, sterile pessimism and spiritual worldliness," according to a statement from the diocese. The priest who summarized the findings at the evening meeting told the pope that a lack of education in the faith was identified by many of the groups; that lack was seen regarding basic church teachings but also regarding how the Gospel and its values could be brought to bear on modern problems. Pope Francis told them the process of identifying the problems had two benefits: a recognition of "the truth about our condition as being in need, sick," but, at the same time, a recognition that even if people have failed, God is still present and is calling his people to come together and to move forward. "Our parishes," he said, "must be capable of generating a people, that is, of offering and creating relationships where people feel that they are known, recognized, welcomed, listened to, loved -- in other words, not anonymous parts of a whole." To move forward, he said, Catholic communities must look at "the slaveries -- the illnesses -- that have ended up making us sterile." Often, he said, parishes are slaves to doing things the ways they always have been done and to investing time and energy in projects and programs that no longer meet the needs of the people. "We must listen without fear to the thirst for God and to the cry that rises from the people of Rome, asking ourselves how that cry expresses the need for salvation, for God," he said. "How many of the things that emerged from your studies express that cry, the invocation that God show himself and help us escape the impression that our life is useless and almost robbed by the frenzy of things that must be done and by time that keeps slipping through out hands?" Too often, he said, evangelization also is stifled by "faith understood only as things to do and not as a liberation that renews us at every step." Pope Francis asked the diocesan leaders to dedicate the next year to "a sort of preparation of your backpacks" for setting off on a multiyear process that would lead to a "new land," a place marked by new pastoral ...
Tue, 15 May 2018 15:05:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican released an instruction with new norms for contemplative orders of nuns, encouraging cooperation among their monasteries and outlining procedures for communities left with only a few members. The document, "Cor Orans" ("Praying Heart") is a follow-up instruction on implementing Pope Francis' 2016 document "Vultum Dei Quaerere" ("Seeking the Face of God"), which issued new rulings and mandates for monasteries of women around the world. The aim of both, the Vatican said, is to safeguard the identity and mission of contemplative women religious. The pope charged the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life with creating the new instruction, which seeks to fill the legislative gaps left since Pope Pius XII's apostolic constitution "Sponsa Christi," from 1950, and facilitate carrying out the mandates in "Vultum Dei Quaerere." The instruction was released by the Vatican May 15 and went into effect immediately. Archbishop Jose Rodriguez Carballo, secretary of the congregation, told reporters one of the most significant changes is requiring a monastery or contemplative community of women religious to have at least eight professed religious women in order to maintain their autonomy. If that number drops to five professed religious, they lose their right to elect a superior, the Vatican congregation is informed of the situation and an ad hoc commission is formed to name an administrator, he said. The outside intervention is meant to assess whether the community's difficulties are "temporary or irreversible" and, if temporary, help them overcome the problems so as to avoid their suppression, the archbishop said. The instruction also details the roles, rights and responsibilities federations will have. While "Sponsa Christi" encouraged communities to join a federation to avoid isolation and reap the benefits of communion and sharing, almost half of all monasteries have not joined any form of association or federation, said the congregation undersecretary, Cistercian Father Sebastiano Paciolla. Pope Francis' new ruling included a mandate that all monasteries are to be part of a federation with the aim of facilitating formation and meeting needs through sharing assets and exchanging members; however, a monastery can request an exception from the Vatican. The new instruction said monasteries have one year to comply until the dicastery assigns them a federation or other form of association. Father Paciolla said the documents do not change the autonomy of the monasteries or the purpose of a federation, but are meant to bring "balance" to how they can better work together. The federation's president -- elected by the federal assembly -- cannot be a major superior, but she will be the co-visitator on canonical visits of communities in the federation. She can conduct her own visits when needed with another leader and financial administrator of the federation. She also makes sure formators and people of "authority" in the community continue with mandatory formation and she informs the Vatican about the visits and must notify the dicastery whenever leaders or formators do not comply. The aim, Father Paciolla said, is to open up another channel of communication with the Vatican and foster dialogue and communion when it comes to oversight. A priest, who is not a major superior of a religious community, will also be appointed by the dicastery to one or more federations as a "religious assistant" representing the Holy See at the federation, the archbishop said. His job is to collaborate with the federation, "encouraging the genuine spirit of the institute and helping the president and her council in the conduct of the federation, especially in formation at the federal level and in solving the most important financial problems," the instruction said. Another significant change is giving the monastery's major superior the authority to grant a cloistered nun permission to ...
Mon, 14 May 2018 07:38:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis called the bishops of Chile to the Vatican to "examine the causes and consequences" of the clerical sexual abuse scandal and acknowledge personal responsibility and "the mechanisms that in some cases led to a cover up and serious omissions regarding the victims," the Vatican said. In a statement May 12, the Vatican press office said 31 Chilean diocesan and auxiliary bishops, along with two retired bishops, will meet with Pope Francis May 15-17 in one of the small meeting rooms behind the Vatican audience hall. The objective of the meeting is "to discern together, in the presence of God, the responsibility of all and each one in these devastating injuries, as well as to study appropriate and lasting changes that would prevent the repetition of these always reprehensible acts," the statement said. Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, will join the pope and the Chileans, the Vatican said. The goal is "to re-establish trust in the church through good shepherds who witness with their lives that they have heard the voice of the Good Shepherd and know how to accompany the suffering of the victims and work in a determined and untiring way in the prevention of abuse," the statement said. The Chilean bishops had said they would be at the Vatican May 14-17 to discuss with the pope their handling of clerical sex abuse allegations and, as Pope Francis had said, "to repair the scandal as much as possible and re-establish justice." Media reports in Chile initially indicated that Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, retired archbishop of Santiago and a member of Pope Francis' international Council of Cardinals, would not attend the meeting. However, he boarded a plane in Santiago May 13 and flew to Rome. The Vatican press office said May 14 the cardinal's presence brought to 34 the number of bishops expected to participate. The three Chilean abuse survivors who met Pope Francis at the Vatican April 27-29 accused the cardinal of covering up the abuse committed by Father Fernando Karadima, who in 2011 was found guilty by a Vatican tribunal and sentenced to a life of prayer and penance. The survivors also claimed the cardinal was an active participant in campaigns to cast doubts on their honesty and their motives in coming forward. A statement published by the Chilean bishops' conference May 10 said, "We reiterate our unity with Pope Francis in the pain and shame he expressed about the crimes committed against minors and adults in church settings." Issued by the permanent committee of the conference, the statement said the bishops also realize that despite steps they have taken, "it has not always been possible to heal the wounds of abuse, which continue to be an open wound in the hearts of the victims and for the people of God." Pope Francis' meetings in April with the three survivors, the statement said, "set an example and show us the path that the Chilean church is called to follow in the face of accusations of abuse of conscience, sexual abuse and, ultimately, against any abuse of power that may occur within our communities." In the same letter convoking the bishops' meeting, the pope had said he was inviting the survivors to Rome to personally apologize to them. In the letter, Pope Francis apologized for underestimating the seriousness of the sexual abuse crisis in the country after calling for a new investigation into allegations that Bishop Juan Barros of Osorno was guilty of covering up for Father Karadima, his former mentor. The pope said he made "serious mistakes in the assessment and perception of the situation, especially due to a lack of truthful and balanced information." "I ask forgiveness of all those I have offended, and I hope to be able to do it personally in the coming weeks," the pope said in the letter. In early May, the Jesuit journal "La Civilta Cattolica" published an Italian translation of "The doctrine of tribulation," a text written by then-Father ...
Wed, 09 May 2018 07:38:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has updated the statutes of the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, adding among other things a specific reference to the office's responsibility for promoting a deeper reflection on the role of women in the church and society. "The dicastery works to deepen the reflection on the relationship between men and women in their respective specificity, reciprocity, complementarity and equal dignity," the new statutes said. "Valuing the feminine 'genius,' it offers a contribution to ecclesial reflection on the identity and mission of women in the church and in society, promoting their participation." The new statutes, approved by the pope on an experimental basis, were released by the Vatican May 8 and were to go into force May 13. They replace statutes issued in June 2016, just before the new office began functioning under the leadership of U.S. Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell. While most of the articles in the statutes were unchanged, the new set eliminated a requirement that the office have three separate sections -- for laity, for family and for life -- each presided over by an undersecretary. However, the new statutes said the office will have "at least two lay undersecretaries." The introductory article added a reference to how, "in accordance with the principles of collegiality, synodality and subsidiarity," the dicastery is to maintain relations with national bishops' conferences, dioceses and other church groups and promote collaboration among them. And, in response to Pope Francis' call in "Amoris Laetitia" to improve marriage preparation programs, the new statutes called on the dicastery to offer "guidelines for training programs for engaged couples preparing for marriage, and for young married couples." The statutes also gave the dicastery added responsibility for expressing "the pastoral care of the church also in relation to so-called 'irregular' situations," which include cohabiting couples and couples who are divorced and civilly remarried. The new document also expanded references to the office's care for youths and young adults, promoting their involvement in the church and advocating for their needs in society. The dicastery, it said, "expresses the particular concern of the church for the young, promoting their agency in the midst of the challenges of today's world. It supports the initiatives of the Holy Father in the field of youth ministry and is at the service of the episcopal conferences, of international youth movements and associations, promoting their collaboration and organizing meetings on an international level."
Tue, 08 May 2018 08:10:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When Pope Benedict XVI's custom-made red leather loafers became a signature part of his wardrobe after his election in 2005, Newsweek labeled him "a religious-fashion icon" and Esquire named him "Accessorizer of the Year." While some critics saw the media's sudden fixation on papal fashion as frivolous and a way of trivializing the true meaning behind elegance in ecclesial dress, one top art curator said he saw this spotlight as actually raising "deeper, more profound considerations -- namely, the role that dress plays in the Catholic Church and the role that the Catholic Church plays" within the world of fashion's imagination. Andrew Bolton, head curator of the Metropolitan Museums of Art's Costume Institute in New York, has now, over a decade later, turned those considerations into its most extensive exhibition ever. The exhibit, "Heavenly Bodies. Fashion and the Catholic Imagination," includes more than 100 pieces from top designers inspired by Catholic symbolism and art, as well as 40 vestments and accoutrements from the papal office of liturgical celebrations. The exhibit will be spread over three locations in Manhattan May 10-Oct. 8, making it "a veritable pilgrimage" for visitors and disciples of faith and fashion, said Carrie Rebora Barratt, the museum's deputy director, at a press preview in Rome Feb. 26. "Some might consider fashion to be an unfitting or unseemly medium by which to engage with ideas about the sacred or the divine," Bolton said at the preview, which was held in the gilded halls of the Colonna palace -- home of an Italian noble family that produced one pope and a number of cardinals and religious. Surrounded by statues, frescoes, tapestries and paintings of biblical or bucolic scenes, Bolton said, "dress is central to any discussion about religion." While religious wear and fashion are two distinct worlds, he said they are both "inherently performative" when it comes to the ritual of runway shows or the rite of a liturgy. And they both utilize "visual language" or "subtle visual codes" that often indicate, for example, the wearer's identity, function or position within a hierarchy or social status, he said. Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue and a trustee of the museum, told reporters that "part of the power of the Catholic Church has been how they look and how they dress," referring in part to the triple-tiered papal tiaras covered with gold and precious gems on display. "I mean, they have this extraordinary presence," said Wintour, whose ankle-length black and scarlet velvet dress with tunic collar subtly coordinated with the black and scarlet cardinal clothes of Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture. The cardinal, who wrote the introduction to the exhibit's catalogue, was the perfect choice to be a kind of mediator between and interpreter of faith and fashion. He studied, taught and worked for many years in Milan, Italy's fashion capital, and as head of the culture council, he has developed numerous initiatives and networks fostering dialogue and cooperation between the church and the world of culture and the arts. God is not just the creator, he said at the press preview, he is also "a tailor" as seen in the Genesis account of how the Lord made Adam and Eve, recently banished from Eden, "garments of skin." Clothing carries with it not just the essential task of providing needed covering or protection from the elements, it can also carry social, cultural, moral and even spiritual and sacred meaning. For example, liturgical vestments and ornaments are often crafted, Cardinal Ravasi said, to exalt a kind of "richness" and opulence so it stands out from the everyday and the merely functional. The ornate represents "the transcendent, religious mystery" because the divine is "splendid, marvelous, sumptuous, glorious," he said. However, the cardinal wrote in the catalogue's introduction, there is risk of the superficial -- satirized in Federico Fellini's ...
Tue, 08 May 2018 08:00:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- With the help of the Migrant and Refugee Section of the Vatican Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, eight bishops' conferences in Latin America have joined efforts to assist Venezuelans in transit through or settling in their home countries. Called "Bridges of Solidarity," the two-year pastoral program seeks to "find common solutions to the challenges posed by the massive flow of Venezuelans, who have decided to move to another South American country in recent years," the Vatican office said in a press release May 7. After a period of study and discussion, the bishops' conferences of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru forged a coordinated action plan to offer needed services to Venezuelans, other vulnerable migrants and the local communities that host them, the office said. The initiative was a response to Pope Francis' call to "welcome, protect, promote and integrate migrants and refugees" and reflects many of recommendations made in the guide put out by the Migrant and Refugee Section: "Responding to Refugees and Migrants: Twenty Action Points." The project, which was launched in May, is expected to assist "hundreds of thousands" of Venezuelans, Scalabrini Father Fabio Baggio, undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section, told reporters May 7. The section's other undersecretary, Jesuit Father Michael Czerny, told reporters how valuable it is for migrants to receive even just basic information when they arrive in a new country. "I happen to be a refugee myself," said the priest, who was born in the former communist Czechoslovakia and raised in Canada. He said every refugee and migrant arrives in a new place wondering, "What awaits you? What lies ahead? What do you need to know now" so as to be better prepared, and not surprised or disappointed? It's important, he said, that "as people undertake these difficult journeys, they are supplied with good information all along the way." "That is also a form of prevention of trafficking," he said, "because people are trafficked when they lack the necessary information in order to make good decisions." Some of the services, which will be run by parishes, local Caritas organizations and other Catholic providers, include: -- Shelters and centers for vulnerable migrants; -- Help with job and housing searches, work and stay permits, and social inclusion; -- Facilitated access to education and health services; -- Training for church workers providing assistance and awareness campaigns.
Tue, 08 May 2018 07:43:00 -0400
ROME (CNS) -- Love is not all hearts and flowers or what is presented in a sappy romantic film, Pope Francis said. "Love is something else. Love is taking responsibility for others." Visiting Blessed Sacrament parish in the Rome suburb of Tor de' Schiavi May 6, Pope Francis focused both on the day's Gospel reading about "remaining" in Jesus' love and on how parishioners were living that out or could undermine it. "Love isn't playing violins, violins, all romantic," the pope said in his homily at Mass. "No. Love is work." But that work is not drudgery, he said. It brings joy. Before celebrating Mass, the pope went up to what had been a series of storage rooms and classrooms on the floor above the church. The rooms have been transformed into the "Casa di Gioia" ("House of Joy") and the pope blessed the premises. Father Maurizio Mirilli, the pastor, explained to the pope that a few years ago, a group of older women who had children with disabilities shared with him their anguish over what would happen to their children once they were gone. A little while later, he said, he went to a retreat preached by Philippine Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila. At one point, the cardinal was commenting on the Gospel story where friends take the roof off the building where Jesus is so that they can lower down their paralyzed friend for Jesus to heal. "The roof" was what struck Father Mirilli, he said. He immediately started thinking about the rooms above the church. Now, two years later, the rooms are home to seven people with disabilities, two religious sisters and a laywoman. Cardinal Tagle and Salvadoran Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chavez, titular cardinal of the parish, were present for the blessing and for the Mass that followed. After his homily, Pope Francis asked the parishioners packed into the church to profess their faith out loud on behalf of Maya, a 12-year-old he was about to confirm. Maya has Leigh syndrome and is unable to speak. She and her mother, Paola Desideri, were confirmed together by the pope. Desideri told TV2000, the television station of the Italian bishops' conference, that some people had questioned the need for a child with such a serious illness to receive the sacrament. "We don't know how much Maya understands, but why deprive her of the sacraments all other children receive when they are born into a Catholic family?" she said. In his homily, Pope Francis had asked each person in the congregation to think about how well they respond to Jesus' request, "Remain in my love." "Do I remain in the Lord's love? Or do I leave it, seeking other things, forms of fun, other ways of leading my life?" the pope told them to ask. "To remain in his love is to do what Jesus did for us. He gave his life for us. He was our servant; he came to serve." Gossiping, he said, is the clearest sign that a person is not remaining in the love of Jesus. "The thermometer for knowing the temperature of my love is the tongue," he said. "If I spoke ill of others, I did not love." Before blessing the group home and celebrating the Mass, Pope Francis fielded questions from parishioners outside. Most wanted advice. He urged parents to "waste time" playing with their children, especially when they are small, because it is an important sign of love and opens a way to teach them many things, including about the faith. A 15-year-old named Beatrice asked how she could convince her friends that church isn't boring. Pope Francis responded that "sometimes they're right," and that everyone at a parish -- including the priests, nuns and parishioners themselves -- must make sure that the warmth of God's love and the joy of the risen Lord shine on their faces and through the welcome they give. Earlier in the day, Pope Francis had recited the "Regina Coeli" prayer with visitors gathered in St. Peter's Square. There, too, he focused on the meaning of love in the day's Gospel reading. The love Christians are called to show others, he said, is not something that ...
Fri, 04 May 2018 15:45:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The only way to understand and choose what is right in a world full of conflict, difficulties and materialism, is by living a life of poverty that is filled with prayer and patience, Pope Francis said. "If you pray, if you are poor, if you are patient, rest assured that you will be fruitful," he told about 700 consecrated men and women in the Vatican's Paul VI audience hall May 4. The religious were attending an international congress sponsored by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. The congress in Rome May 3-6 brought together members of many different forms of consecrated life, lay associations and movements to reflect on the meaning of "consecration" and issues related to consecrated life. Joking with his audience, the pope said, "This Holy Spirit is a disaster! Because he never tires of being creative." Yet, he added, look how interesting it is that this creator of diversity is also the creator of unity in which so many charisms all make up the one body of Christ. In his off-the-cuff talk to participants, the pope said he was asked to come up with some "authentic criteria" for how to discern what is really happening in the world and how not to get lost in "the fog of worldliness," temptations and "the spirit of war." Calling infighting within communities "a scandal," he also warned his audience against the three "tiny steps" that will turn any consecrated religious into "a worldly religious": money, vanity and pride. If people are vigilant against being attached to material wealth, he said, then the other vices will not follow. "What are the things the Spirit wants to stay strong in consecrated life?" he asked. "Prayer, poverty and patience," he answered. It is not good that some people seek to "get ahead" in religious life as if it were a career, he said. Prayer helps people rediscover that "I work for that Lord, not for my interests or for the institution I work at, no, for the Lord." "One cannot discern what is happening without talking with the Lord," the pope said. But it also is impossible for a consecrated person to understand the world without a proper "spirit of poverty," which is non-negotiable, he said. It will be with this "spirit of poverty that the Lord defends us -- he defends us! -- from many problems and many things that try to destroy consecrated life," the pope said. Finally, he said, patience is needed. So many conflicts within a community are caused by people not having the patience to put up with each other, he said. And then, so often the strongest end up winning, he said, and they are not always the best because they were the ones who were impatient. Patience is shown in small ways, even breaking into a smile "when I want to start swearing," he said, and it is shown in big ways, like sacrificing oneself, even one's life. Patience also is needed when vocations are diminishing and institutions must close, he said. Congregations must avoid "the art of dying well," which is "the spiritual euthanasia of a consecrated heart that can't take it anymore, doesn't have the courage to follow the Lord," the pope said. The situation is seen when a congregation decides to stop accepting prospective members and starts selling what they have left to survive, he said. "This is a sign, a sign that death is near, when a congregation begins to become attached to money," he said. "It doesn't have patience" to pray for new vocations and succumbs to a lack of spiritual poverty. Religious must have the same patience God asked of Abraham, who yearned for offspring, but had to wait until he was 100 years old, Pope Francis said. "'Patience,' the Lord said. Hope. Keep going" without bitterness.
Wed, 02 May 2018 08:15:00 -0400
ROME (CNS) -- Pope Francis visited Rome's popular Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love to pray the rosary for peace, especially in Syria. The pope invited pilgrims in St. Peter's Square April 29 to join his prayers May 1 at the shrine and "to prolong for the whole month of May praying the rosary for peace." May is a month Catholics traditionally devote to Mary. After Pope Francis entered the old 18th-century church at the shrine May 1, one of the Daughters of Our Lady of Divine Love, the religious order founded there, introduced the rosary by quoting from Pope Francis' Easter address: "Today we implore fruits of peace upon the entire world, beginning with the beloved and long-suffering land of Syria, whose people are worn down by an apparently endless war." The pope was joined in the small church by just over 100 people, including a few children and young adults, who assisted in leading the recitation of the prayers. Hundreds of other people were gathered outside and along the paths to the new church, which was consecrated in 1999. After the rosary and the singing of Hail, Holy Queen, the congregation offered special prayers "for the intentions of the Holy Father" and then chanted the Loreto litany, a list mainly of the various titles of Mary -- Holy Mother of God, Mother of the Church, Health of the Sick, Refuge of Sinners and, of course, Mother of Divine Love -- followed by the petition, "Pray for us." Pope Francis gave no homily or speech, simply leading the crowd in prayer and offering his apostolic blessing. Each Saturday night from Easter through the end of October, pilgrims set off at midnight from within the walls of Rome and walk about 10 miles to the shrine, where they attend a special Mass at 5 a.m. Sunday.
Tue, 01 May 2018 08:19:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis prayed that the hopes for peace strengthened by the meeting of the leaders of North and South Korea will not be dashed, and he urged Catholics during the month of May to pray the rosary for peace. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in made a "courageous commitment" April 27 to ongoing dialogue to achieve "a Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons," Pope Francis said April 29 after leading some 30,000 people in praying the "Regina Coeli." "I pray to the Lord that the hopes for a future of peace and more brotherly friendship will not be disappointed and that the collaboration may continue bringing good fruits for the beloved Korean people and the whole world," the pope said. Noting that May is a month the Catholic Church dedicates to Mary in a special way, Pope Francis told the crowd gathered in St. Peter's Square that he would begin the month with a visit to Rome's Shrine of Divine Love and lead a recitation of the rosary there. "We will recite the rosary praying particularly for peace in Syria and the whole world," the pope said. "I invite you to spiritually join me and to prolong for the whole month of May praying the rosary for peace."
Mon, 30 Apr 2018 09:53:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Six German bishops will meet with officials from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts to discuss German plans to allow greater access to the Eucharist for Protestants married to Catholics. The meeting will be at the Vatican May 3, the Vatican press office announced April 30. Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, president of the German bishops' conference, had announced in February that three-quarters of the German bishops approved the development of pastoral guidelines for determining situations in which a non-Catholic spouse married to a Catholic could receive Communion. But a month later, seven German bishops, including Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne, sent a letter to Archbishop Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, saying they believed a bishops' conference does not have the authority to expand permissions for non-Catholics to receive Communion. The seven bishops asked the Vatican officials for a ruling on the matter. The press office announcement said, "a group of German cardinals and bishops will meet some dicastery heads and officials of the Roman Curia at the Vatican to deal with the theme of the eventual access to the Eucharist for non-Catholic spouses in mixed marriages." The Vatican listed the German participants as: Cardinal Marx; Cardinal Woelki; Bishop Felix Genn of Munster; Bishop Karl-Heinz Wiesemann of Speyer, president of the bishops' doctrinal commission; Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg, vice president of the doctrinal commission; and Bishop Gerhard Feige of Magdeburg, president of the bishops' ecumenism commission. Jesuit Father Hans Langendorfer, general secretary of the conference, also will attend. The Vatican officials participating will include: Archbishop Ladaria; Cardinal Koch; Msgr. Markus Graulich, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts; and Father Hermann Geissler, an official at the doctrinal congregation. "The Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism," published in 1993 by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity," noted that "in general the Catholic Church permits access to its eucharistic Communion and to the sacraments of penance and anointing of the sick only to those who share its oneness in faith, worship and ecclesial life." However, it said, the Catholic Church "also recognizes that in certain circumstances, by way of exception, and under certain conditions, access to these sacraments may be permitted, or even commended, for Christians of other churches and ecclesial communities." The directory encouraged diocesan bishops, "taking into account any norms which may be have been established for this matter by the episcopal conference," to establish "general norms for judging situations of grave and pressing need" and for verifying that the non-Catholic person "manifest Catholic faith in this sacrament and be properly disposed."
Fri, 27 Apr 2018 11:25:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Heaven is not an eternally dull existence but rather the completion of a journey toward a promised encounter with the Lord, Pope Francis said. Although Christians may know full well that their goal is to go to heaven, "we begin to slip" when asked, "What is heaven," the pope said in his homily April 27 during Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae. "Many times, we think of an abstract heaven, a faraway heaven, a heaven that we say 'yes, its fine.' But some may think: 'Isn't it a little boring being there for all eternity?' No, that is not heaven," he said. Pope Francis' homily focused on the day's first reading from the Acts of the Apostle, in which St. Paul proclaims "that what God promised our fathers he has brought to fulfillment" through Jesus' resurrection. Trusting God to fulfill his promises, he said, puts Christians on a path "toward an encounter, the definitive encounter with Jesus. Heaven is the encounter with Jesus." Pope Francis said that during this journey, Jesus "isn't sitting there waiting for me but, as the Gospel says, he works for us. He himself said, 'Have faith in me' and 'I will prepare a place for you.'" Jesus prays for all who embark on this path toward heaven. However, the pope said, Christians must continue to remind themselves that "he is faithful" and that he will fulfill his promise. "Heaven will be that encounter, an encounter with the Lord who has gone there to prepare the place, the encounter with each one of us. And this gives us confidence; it makes trust grow," he said. "May the Lord give us this awareness of being on a journey with this promise. May the Lord give us this grace: to look up and think: 'The Lord is praying for me,'" Pope Francis said.
Thu, 26 Apr 2018 08:01:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis and his international Council of Cardinals have reviewed a complete draft of the apostolic constitution that would govern the Roman Curia, the Vatican spokesman said. The cardinals still need some time to finalize the draft, approve it and present it formally to the pope for "further consultation and final approval," said Greg Burke, director of the Vatican press office. Even the title of the document has not been finalized, he said April 25, although the entire project revolves around the idea of a "church that goes out." Much of the Council of Cardinals' work April 23-25 was dedicated to "re-reading the draft of the new apostolic constitution on the Roman Curia," Burke said. The draft document emphasizes four points, he said: the Roman 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; particulars on the role and functioning of the new section in the Vatican Secretariat of State to 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. Burke told reporters there was no discussion of changing the membership of the council, which Pope Francis established just one month after his election in 2013. The cardinals, who come from around the world, were to advise him on church governance and "to study a project to revise the apostolic constitution 'Pastor Bonus' on the Roman Curia." The meeting in April was the 24th gathering of the council with the pope. Australian Cardinal George Pell has not been participating since returning to Australia for a series of court hearings to determine if he should stand trial on decades-old charges of child sexual abuse. Cardinal Pell's absence and the fact that Cardinal Francisco Errazuriz Ossa, the retired archbishop of Santiago, Chile, is 84 years old led some observers to believe the council would discuss changing at least some members. The other members of the council are: 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; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Congo; and Giuseppe Bertello, president of the commission governing Vatican City State.
Wed, 25 Apr 2018 09:09:00 -0400
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis led thousands of people in St. Peter's Square in prayers for the success of the inter-Korean summit, scheduled for April 27. South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, are scheduled to meet in Panmunjom, a village in the demilitarized zone that has separated the North and South since the Korean War ended in 1953. "The encounter will be an opportune occasion to begin a transparent dialogue and a concrete process of reconciliation and rediscovered fraternity to bring peace to the Korean peninsula and to the whole world," Pope Francis told pilgrims at his weekly general audience April 25. "To the Korean people, who ardently desire peace," the pope said, "I offer assurances of my personal prayers and the closeness of the entire church." Pope Francis explained to the pilgrims in the square that the Holy See "accompanies, supports and encourages every useful and sincere initiative" to build peace and friendship among nations. "I ask those who have direct political responsibilities to have the courage of hope, making themselves artisans of peace," he said. And because God is the father of all and the father of peace," he told people in the square, "I ask you to pray to our father, God the father of all, for the Korean people, both those of the South as well as those of the North."
Tue, 24 Apr 2018 07:35:00 -0400
ROME (CNS) -- Cones raised in the air, the crowd gathered for dinner at the Sant'Egidio Community's soup kitchen toasted Pope Francis on his name day, the feast of St. George. The gelato was offered by the pope, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio, as part of his name day celebration April 23. He provided 3,000 servings of ice cream -- mostly vanilla cones with chocolate and nuts on top, but also a few pistachio cones and a couple strawberry ones -- to soup kitchens and homeless shelters around Rome. "It's not like gelato is the only thing he gives away," said Ruggiero, who passed on the cones because, he said, at his age -- 70-something -- "I'm watching my physique." "Everything this pope does he does for the poor," Ruggiero told Catholic News Service. "And then there's his smile." Alberto, roughly the same age, was seated next to Ruggiero for the dinner, which began with a course of gnocchi, then moved on to the main course of veal and potatoes and would normally have finished with fruit. Oranges were the day's offering. "It's a very charming gesture," said Alberto as he unwrapped his cone at the kitchen in Rome's Trastevere neighborhood. The two men, along with five other friends, had begun their evening in the tiny Church of San Calisto, where they join in singing evening prayer and prayers for peace twice a month. Then they walk to the soup kitchen nearby for dinner. One of the seven gentlemen wrote their names in big letters on the paper place mats to save their seats. But there is always room for one more. And they take turns filling each other's water glasses, passing out the food and collecting the dirty plates before the next course. Across the room, Antonino Siragusa was eating, but also helping to serve. He said he has met the pope "six times. He's a good person, very lively. He smiles and will meet anyone." Before the meal began, he admitted he had not known it was the pope's name day, but he was glad to hear it. "I love sweets," he said. "This is great!"
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