Category Archives: Vatican News

WMOF: From Disabilty to unique ability

DUBLIN – The World Meeting of Families is well underway at the RDS Conference Centre in Dublin and includes a three day Pastoral Congress which is covering a wide number of themes.

One of the issues under the spotlight  is that of disability.

Speaker and panelist on this topic at the Congress is Cristina Gangemi a disability advisor to the Bishops Conference of England and Wales and the Director of the Kairos Forum which seeks to highlight and respond to the spiritual and religious needs of people with disabilities.

She spoke to Vatican News about her address which is about disability in the family saying, disability should be seen as a gift, a vocation and way of living, “rather than it being something that the family has to put up with or that it’s a tragedy that hit the family.” She added, that there needs to be a shift from “disability to unique abiltiy.”

The Kairo’s Director noted that great strides have been made in the area of disability and said that she was delighted to be part of this meeting because this issue had been included as “part of the general way of thinking about family life.”

Asked what she would like to see coming out of this World Meeting of Families, Cristina Gangemi said, “I would like to see that the World Gathering of Families celebrates the presence of people with disabilities just as part of the Church, not as something special, not as something sentimental, but just as they are, members of the Church that breathe the breath of God and love of Christ into their family; into their parish community and that they have some space to express that love and their faith in a way that’s right for them.” – Lydia O’Kane, Vatican News

Pope calls for solidarity and penance in letter on abuse crisis

 

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has writtten a letter to the whole People of God addressing the ongoing crisis of sexual abuse in the Church, calling for solidarity and penance.

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it.”

These words, taken from St Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, struck the key note for Pope Francis in an impassioned letter addressed to the whole People of God on 20 Aug 2018.

The letter comes in response to an ongoing crisis of sexual abuse by “a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons” – crimes that were covered up and perpetuated by those who should have been protecting the vulnerable.

In particular, the Holy Father referred to a report released by a Grand Jury in the US state of Pennsylvania which, he wrote, “detailed the experiences of at least a thousand survivors, victims of sexual abuse, the abuse of power and of conscience at the hands of priests over a period of approximately seventy years.”

However, despite being occasioned by the recent scandals, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke insisted that the letter was meant for the whole Church. “This is about Ireland, this is about the United States, and this is about Chile. But not only. Pope Francis has written to the People of God – and that means everyone.”

In his letter, the Holy Father speaks of the realisation that the “wounds” caused by abuse “never disappear and that they require us forcefully to condemn these atrocities and join forces in uprooting this culture of death.”

He admits that the Church has failed to deal adequately with the crisis of abuse. “With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realising the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives,” the Pope says. “We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.”

Pope Francis calls for solidarity with those who have been abused. “Such a solidarity,” he said, “demands that we in turn condemn whatever endangers the integrity of the person.” It is a solidarity, “that summons us to fight all forms of corruption, especially spiritual corruption.”

The Pope also notes that the Church has delayed in applying the “actions and sanctions” that are necessary for the implementation of a “zero tolerance” policy, but said he is “confident that” those actions and sanctions “will help to guarantee a greater culture of care in the present and the future.”

Pope Francis calls on all the baptised to be a part of the “ecclesial and social change we so greatly need.” This change, he continued, requires “personal and communal conversion.” And in order to experience that “conversion of heart,” he encouraged “the entire faithful People of God to a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting” – a reference to our Lord’s words in Matthew 17:21 that “this kind [of demon] does not come out except by prayer and fasting.”

Greg Burke explained, “Pope Francis says greater accountability is urgently needed, not only for those who committed these crimes, but also for those who covered them up – which in many cases means Bishops.”

The Holy Father emphasises that the present crisis demands a response from the whole Church as a body. “Consequently, the only way that we have to respond to this evil that has darkened so many lives is to experience it as a task regarding all of us as the People of God.” This response requires the “active participation of all the Church’s members,” and “will be helped by the penitential dimension of fasting and prayer.”

Pope Francis says, “It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable. Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others.” – Christopher Wells, Vatican News

Manila hit by floods, Card Tagle opens churches to those affected

Relief material being distributed to flood-affected people in the Philippine capital, Manila. (ANSA)

MANILA – Catholic churches in Manila were opened to accommodate thousands of people displaced by widespread flooding in the Philippine capital caused by several days of heavy rain.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila ordered parishes to open churches and urged people to help those in need.  He also encouraged contributions to these parishes and social action centres.

Cardinal Tagle noted that the floods — as deep as two metres in some places — might be a reminder from nature for people to care for what Pope Francis has described as “our common home.”

“Part of our call is for everyone not to add to what could destroy our environment,” said the cardinal.

The flood prompted the Catholic bishops’ conference’s social action arm to call on the government to fast track the creation of a government department in charge of disaster preparedness, mitigation and response.

Father Edwin Gariguez of the National Secretariat for Social Action said such a department was “very urgently needed.”

He said that while church organisations “have already carved out a way for a more responsive and integrated disaster response … there is a need to make these efforts more sustainable and spread out across the country.”

The southwest monsoon, boosted by tropical storm Karding, brought heavy rains and floods in different parts of Metro Manila over the weekend [11-12 Aug 2018], killing three people.

The rains and floods affected a total of 248,080 families or about 1.1 million people from 713 villages in Manila and surrounding regions.

Of the total affected population, 13,724 families or 59,108 individuals were displaced and took shelter in evacuation centres.

A total of 51 houses were destroyed and 3,127 others were damaged in the Ilocos and central Luzon regions.

The Philippine state weather bureau said several areas, including Manila, might continue to experience flooding in the coming days.

Classes were suspended on Aug 13 as authorities expect moderate to intense monsoon rains to hit the northern part of the country.

Meanwhile massive clean-up efforts are under way in Manila, with piles of garbage and debris having washed up on roads and streets as a result of overflowing major dams and rivers that serve the city.

Residents were seen trying to salvage whatever they could from the accumulated wreckage. – CBCP News/Vatican News

The Church marks 25 years of ‘Veritatis Splendour’

VATICAN CITY  – On August 6, the Feast of the Transfiguration, the Church marked the 25th anniversary of Pope St John Paul II’s landmark encyclical, Veritatis splendor. St John Paul himself explained the reason for the encyclical: Although the Church has “at all times developed and proposed a moral teaching regarding the many different spheres of human life,” in our times, “it seems necessary to reflect on the whole of the Church’s moral teaching” which “risks being distorted or denied.”

To understand the main themes of Veritatis splendor, Vatican News spoke with moral theologian Dr Matthew Tsakanikas, the head of the Theology Department at Christendom College in the United States. Pope John Paul touches on many themes in the encyclical, he said, but went on to point out three of particular importance.

The first main point, Dr Tsakanikas said, can be seen at the very beginning of Veritatis splendor: All of us are called to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. In particular, he said “That means that we are loved by God, that faith in Christ enables us to live a moral life, because we believe in God’s love for us.”

God’s love for us indicates a second main point, that “God only wants our good, God wants our happiness.” That naturally leads to the question, “What is our true happiness?” Quoting Saint Augustine, Dr Tsakanikas says “Happiness is joy in the truth.” True happiness, he explains can be found in healthy relationships, relationships of love and friendship with God and others. “This desire for truth and goodness is what leads us to recognise that the moral life is about loving others, and not using [them].”

The final point emphasised by Dr Tsakanikas (“although there are many more”) is that “there are freely chosen kinds of behaviours that are destructive to human fulfillment in union with God.” This, he said, “is the heart of what the encyclical wanted to bring to us and to recover in the Catholic tradition, that the ends can’t justify the means.” Pope St John Paul teaches that there really are “intrinsically evil” actions that can never lead to true happiness, and which can therefore never be chosen.

Although Veritatis splendor was specifically addressed to bishops, Dr Tsakanikas said the encyclical is definitely for lay people as well. “I would remind people there’s an intrinsic connection between the moral life and worship, and the moral life is what actually allows us to enter into authentic worship.” Entering into a loving and fruitful relationship with God requires us “to enter freely and surrender” our own will to God’s will – which is love.

He urged the faithful, to reflect on the teaching of Veritatis splendour especially in light of the Mystery of Jesus’ Transfiguration, which is one of the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. Recalling that the encyclical was released on the liturgical feast of the Transfiguration, Dr Tsakanikas said John Paul’s teaching is “all about the light that shone from the Face of Christ… it’s referring to the Transfiguration, the divinity of Jesus Christ, who is truly God and truly man, this divinity shining out from His Face. And the moral life is all about that divinity growing in your soul by living a life in union with Him” precisely because “it’s your free choices that consolidate good will, or that bad will.” And so, he said, we should be resolving to grow daily, “to be choosing every day to be making acts of love through faith in Jesus Christ.” – Christopher Wells, Vatican News

Argentine Senate rejects voluntary abortion law

Argentines rally in Buenos Aires in favour of life (AFP or licensors)

BUENOS AIRES – In a victory for pro-life advocates in Argentina, the country’s Senate rejected a bill on 9 Aug 2018 to legalise voluntary abortion into the 14th week of pregnancy.

Hours of heated debate and impassioned pleas ended with a 38 to 31 vote against the measure. The bill had narrowly passed the lower house in July.

Senators from Argentina’s northern regions led the charge against legalising voluntary abortion, while representatives from the Buenos Aires region and those in the south pushed to pass it.

Ahead of the Senate vote, President Mauricio Macri said he was personally against abortion, but added that the debate itself was “a win for democracy.”

Current Argentine law only permits abortions if the mother’s life is at risk, or in cases of rape.

Pro-life advocates from the country’s Catholic Church likely helped swing the vote in favour of life.

On the day of the vote, Cardinal Mario Aurelio Poli celebrated Mass to pray for the vote’s positive outcome. The Archbishop of Buenos Aires appealed to Senators not to interrupt “the honorable and praiseworthy tradition of legislating for the common good and for a culture of life, protecting the weakest and most defenseless, who are waiting to participate in history.”

At the same time, Cardinal Poli called on Catholics to find space in their communities to allow pregnant women in difficulty “to share their fears and to feel the embrace and tenderness of women who had the joy of giving birth to a child, despite all difficulties.”

Following Thursday’s vote against voluntary abortion, the Catholic Church in Argentina seeks to remain a place of welcome for mothers facing difficult, unforeseen, or unwanted pregnancies.

Local priests in the poorest parts of the Buenos Aires region have created a network of “Houses of the Maternal Embrace.”  These centres provide food, medical assistance, psychological counseling, and legal advice to pregnant mothers in difficulty.

One pro-life activist, Victoria Osuna, told Reuters the Senate’s vote against abortion “showed that Argentina is still a country that represents family values.” –Devin Watkins, Vatican News 

Tourism should glorify God, promote human dignity

VATICAN CITY – The Prefect for the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, Cardinal Peter Turkson, has penned a Message for World Tourism Day, which takes place each year on September 27.

In his message released on 4 Aug 2018, Cardinal Turkson reflected on the theme for this year’s observance: “Tourism and Digital Transformation.” This theme, he said, focuses on how digital technology has transformed our age and our behaviours.

Because of this, he said, World Tourism Day, “invites us to reflect on the contribution of technological progress not only to improve tourist products and services, but also because this progress is part of tourism’s sustainable and responsible development, towards which the growth of the sector should be oriented.”

The Church, he continued, “has always paid particular attention to the pastoral care of tourism, leisure and holidays,” which allow women and men to share their values and ideals, and to grow as individuals.

Tourism is also an important way to share resources, but also to “educate people on the shared responsibility towards our “common home.”

Cardinal Turkson also had a “special thought” for young people, who are at the centre of the upcoming General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. The working document, he noted, discusses how “it is necessary to offer them paths for formation and anthropological education, so that they may live their ‘digital life’ without separating online and offline behavior, nor allowing themselves to be deceived by the virtual world.”

Finally, Cardinal Turkson said, “The hope that this Dicastery formulates for all, tourists and vacationers, is ‘that tourism will contribute to glorifying God, and to increasingly validating human dignity, mutual knowledge, spiritual brotherhood, refreshment of body and soul.’” – Christopher Wells, Vatican News

Pope Francis: ‘death penalty inadmissible’

VATICAN CITY – After an audience with Pope Francis earlier this year, and following his approval, the Vatican’s CDF says it has made changes to the CCC on the death penalty according to which capital punishment is inadmissible.

Pope Francis has approved a new revision of paragraph number 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, according to which “a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state,”  thus “the death penalty is inadmissible.”

The decision was announced by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in a ‘Letter to the Bishops’ dated 1 August 2018 and signed by the Prefect, Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria.

2267. 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.

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”,[1] and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide”. (FRANCIS, Address to Participants in the Meeting organized by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation, 11 October 2017: L’Osservatore Romano, 13 October 2017.)

According to the previous text of paragraph 2267, the Church did not exclude recourse to the death penalty in “very rare, if not practically nonexistent” circumstances:

2267. Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.”68

In the Letter to the Bishops  Cardinal Ladaria explained that the revision of n. 2267 of the CCC   “expresses an authentic development of doctrine that is not in contradiction with the prior teachings of the Magisterium” and said “these teachings, in fact, can be explained in the light of the primary responsibility of the public authority to protect the common good in a social context in which the penal sanctions were understood differently, and had developed in an environment in which it was more difficult to guarantee that the criminal could not repeat his crime.”

Ladaria recalled that John Paul II asked that  the teaching on the death penalty be reformulated to better reflect the development of the doctrine that centres on the clearer awareness of the Church for the respect due to every human life affirming that  “Not even a murderer loses his personal dignity, and God himself pledges to guarantee this.” Ladaria said that in many occasions John Paul II intervened for the elimination of capital punishment describing it as “cruel and unnecessary.”

In the letter Cardinal Ladaria also recalled Benedict XVI who appealed for “the attention of society’s leaders to the need to make every effort to eliminate the death penalty” and encouraged  “political and legislative initiatives being promoted in a growing number of countries to eliminate the death penalty and to continue the substantive progress made in conforming penal law both to the human dignity of prisoners and the effective maintenance of public order.”

The new revision of number 2267 of CCC  approved by Pope Francis, Ladaria said, “situates itself in continuity with the preceding Magisterium while bringing forth a coherent development of Catholic doctrine” taking into account the new understanding of penal sanctions applied by the modern State.”

Its new revision, he continued, “desires to give energy to a movement towards a decisive commitment to favour a mentality that recognises the dignity of every human life and, in respectful dialogue with civil authorities, to encourage the creation of conditions that allow for the elimination of the death penalty where it is still in effect”. – Linda Bordoni, Vatican News

19-year-old Nunzio Sulprizio to be canonised Oct 14

VATICAN CITY – In an Ordinary Public Consistory held on Thursday morning, 19 July 2018, Pope Francis announced that he will canonise Blessed Nunzio Sulprizio on October 14 this year.

Blessed Nunzio Sulprizio was born in Pescosansonesco (Italy) on 13 April 1817 and died in Naples (Italy) on 5 May 1836. He was beatified by Pope Paul VI on 1 December 1963.

He will be canonized along with Blessed Pope Paul VI and Blessed Oscar Romero and four others:

Blessed Francesco Spinelli, diocesan priest and Founder of the Institute of the Sister Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament, who born in Milan (Italy) on 14 April 1853 and died at Rivolta d’Adda (Italy) on 6 February 1913.

Blessed Vincenzo Romano, diocesan priest, who was born at Torre del Greco (Italy) on 3 June 1751 and died there on 20 December 1831.

Blessed Maria Caterina Kasper, Foundress of the Institute of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ who was born on 26 May 1820 in Dernbach (Germany) and died there on 2 February 1898.

Blessed Nazaria Ignazia March Mesa (in religion: Nazaria Ignazia di Santa Teresa di Gesù), Foundress of the Congregation of the Misioneras Cruzadas de la Iglesia Sisters who was born in Madrid (Spain) on 10 January 1889 and died in Buenos Aires (Argentina) on 6 July 1943.

It is fitting that Nunzio Sulprizio, who died at the age of 19, be canonised during the Synod whose theme is Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment. Now with the addition of Blessed Nunzio, the canonisation will include people from every walk of life: clerical, religious and lay.

Blessed Nunzio was born in Pescosansonesco in Italy in April of 1817. He lost both of his parents while still a child and was brought up by an uncle. His uncle exploited him, not allowing him to go to school, and forcing him to work in his blacksmith shop. Regardless of extreme cold or intense heat, he was forced to carry enormous weights over great distances. He found refuge before the Tabernacle where he would keep Jesus company.

After contracting gangrene in one of his legs, he was sent to a hospital for people with incurable diseases in Naples. He suffered tremendously on account of the pain. Yet, he is known to have said such things as:

Jesus suffered so much for us and by his merits we await eternal life. If we suffer a little bit, we will taste the joy of paradise.
Jesus suffered a lot for me. Why should I not suffer for Him?
I would die in order to convert even one sinner.

When asked who was taking care of him, he would respond: “God’s Providence.”

Once he got better, he dedicated himself to helping other patients. But his health took a sudden turn for the worse. He died from bone cancer in May of 1836 before he reached his 20th birthday. – Sr Bernadette Mary Reis fsp, Vatican News

Pope to attend World Youth Day 2019 in Panama

 

VATICAN CITY – The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, confirmed on 9 July 2018 that Pope Francis will participate in the upcoming World Youth Day, 22-27 Jan 2019, in Panama.

The Holy Father will arrive at the event a day after it begins and takes part from the 23rd to the 27th of January.

A brief statement said the Pope had accepted an invitation from the government of Panama and from the country’s Catholic bishops.

This will be the third World Youth Day Pope Francis attends. His first took place in Brazil in 2013, just months after his election to the papacy, followed by Poland in 2016.

World Youth Day (WYD) is an encounter of young people from around the world with the Pope, typically celebrated every three years. The event allows young people to experience the universality of the Church and to share their faith in Jesus Christ.

Panama’s president Juan Carlos Varela tweeted on Monday that he “shares the joy and excitement of the Panamanian people” for the official announcement of the Pope’s attendance.

Monday’s announcement made the visit official, but Pope Francis had previously registered online for WYD at the Sunday Angelus on 11 February 2018, the day registration for the event opened.

As he overlooked St Peter’s Square, the Pope held a tablet and signed up for the event.

“There,” he said. “I am now enrolled as a pilgrim to World Youth Day.” And he invited young people around the world “to live this event of grace and fraternity with faith and enthusiasm, either by going to Panama or by participating in their communities.”

Already in March 2017, Pope Francis released a video message for the 2019 event, inviting young people to look to the Blessed Virgin Mary as they continue their pilgrimage toward the event.

“Mary did not stay at home because she was not a young couch potato who looks for comfort and safety where nobody can bother them. She was moved by faith because faith is at the heart of Our Mother’s entire life story.” -Devin Watkins, Vatican News

First layman to head Vatican Communication Office

Pope Francis shakes hands with Paolo Ruffini, the new prefect of the Department for Communication.

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis on 5 July 2018 named Paolo Ruffini as the new Prefect for the Dicastery for Communication.

Paolo Ruffini was born in Palermo, Sicily, on 4 October 1956.

He attained his degree in Jurisprudence from La Sapienza University of Rome.

Dr Ruffini has been a professional journalist since 1979. He has worked for the papers Il Mattinoof Naples (1979-1986); and Il Messaggero of Rome (1986-1996); in radio at Giornale Radio Rai(1996-2002), Canale Gr Parlamento (1998-2002), Radio 1 (1999-2002) and Inblu Radio (2014-2018); and on television at Rai3 (2002-2011), La 7 (2011-2014); and Tv2000 (2014-2018).

He has received numerous awards for journalism, and taken part in numerous conferences on the role of communications ethics, the new media, and the role of Christians in media.

His father Attilio, an anti-fascist and among the first Christian Democrats, was repeatedly a minister. His great-uncle, originally from Mantua, was Archbishop of Palermo, (nominated by Pacelli) and a member of the Sacred College from 1945 to 1967.

Ruffini, married to Maria Argenti, is the first lay person to head a department of the Roman Curia. The Department for Communication is a new reality that unites and coordinates all the editorial, informative, communicative and multimedia realities of the Holy See together with what was once the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

Ruffini’s nomination as head of one of the most significant Vatican department – in terms of number of persons employed – is unprecedented in the history of the Holy See, which up to now had only the current commissioner of the vice-presidency of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, Professor Guzman Carriquiry, formerly number three of the old Pontifical Council for the Laity, as the only lay person leading a top position.

For the first time, therefore, a married man, neither bishop nor priest, takes on a role comparable to that of cardinals and archbishops heads of department, that is, “ministers” of the Pope and his collaborators in the Curia.

What are the reasons for Francis’ decision? The Pope had the opportunity to know and appreciate the work of the new Prefect in the years spent at Tv2000 (Ruffini himself, together with Lucio Brunelli, director of the episcopal TV news had interviewed Pope Francis at the end of the great extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, in November 2016).

Ruffini’s curriculum speaks for itself: a journalist and TV expert, he was the director of Rai3 in the years when the third network of Italian public TV produced some of the highest quality programmes. His ability and competence in the field of communication are therefore known and recognised.

Ruffini’s most hidden feature, for it is known only to those who have had the opportunity to work with him, is his ability to listen and making the most of each person’s abilities, including and never excluding.

The unmistakable human trait of a transparent person: it is no coincidence that at noon on 5 July 2018, when the appointment to the Vatican was made public, there were several collaborators, journalists and technicians in tears in the studios of Tv2000.

The Vatican media are going through a difficult transitional phase: the path of the reform undertaken by the previous Prefect, Monsignor Dario Edoardo Viganò, who resigned following the incident of Benedict XVI’s partially published letter, but kept the role of “councilor” in the dicastery – has yet to be completed. Tensions and misunderstandings were not lacking.

The arrival of a person who, wherever he found himself holding positions of responsibility, was able to make all his collaborators work well, making the most of each person’s abilities, is therefore a significant choice, light years away from the corporate and functional mentality that sometimes seems to infect the Church too when it pursues big majors’ models ending up taking for granted the content of what it communicates. – Andrea Tornielli, Vatican Insider News / Vatican News

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