Category Archives: Vatican News

Pre-synodal meeting purposes proposed

VATICAN CITY – Final preparations are underway for the 19-24 March 2018, Pre-Synodal Meeting in Rome, organised by the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, in collaboration with the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life.

The Pre-Synodal Meeting will be an important part of the consultation phase before the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme Young people, faith and vocation discernment, scheduled for October 2018.

During a press conference at the Press Office of the Holy See on 15 Mar 2018, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, reviewed the purposes of the Pre-Synodal Meeting:

  1. This is an event in which the young will be the actors and the protagonists. We will not only talk about “them”, but they will be telling themselves, with their language, their enthusiasm, and their sensitivity. The next Synod of Bishops wants to be, in fact, not only a Synod “on” young people and “for” young people, but also a Synod “of” young people and “with” young people.
  2. A keyword, repeatedly repeated by the Pope, is “listening”. In this Pre-Synodal Meeting we will listen to young people “live”, “live”, to try to better understand their situation: what they think about themselves and adults, how they live their faith and what difficulties they encounter to be Christians, how they plan their lives and what problems they find in discerning their vocation, as they see the Church today and how they would like it, etc.
  3. Among the young people to be listened to, there will be in particular those that come from situations of hardship and from the “existential outskirts”, young people who often do not have the opportunity to be heard to make their situation and their expectations known. Then there will be young non-Catholics, not Christians and non-believers because listening to young people will be realized as much as possible “at 360 degrees”.
  4. The Pre-Synodal Meeting will be an opportunity to put ourselves in step with the young: keeping in mind that the Synod is by definition a “journey made together”, we want to show what it means concretely to walk together with young people, to all young people excluding.
  5. Walking with young people also means identifying specific pastoral paths, which enable the Christian communities to consolidate their youth pastoral projects, adapting them to the needs of today’s young people.
  6. At the Pre-Synodal Meeting, together with the young people, some parents, educators, priests, pastoral workers and experts of the youth world will take part, to listen to those who live next to the young and have the “tools” to read from the inside and in depth. their situation.
  7. In this way we also want to propose a method of intergenerational exchange and collaboration, fostering dialogue between young people and adults, who often struggle to communicate with each other in everyday life.
  8. The Pre-Synodal Meeting intends to arouse participation dynamics based on the encounter between cultures, living conditions, faiths, and disciplines, developing a model that can be repeated in the different ecclesial realities.
  9. We will ask ourselves how to help young people to seek and find the meaning of their life, in the light of the specific vocational perspective that Pope Francis wanted to give to the Synod journey.
  10. Finally, the Pre-Synodal Meeting will come to elaborate a shared document, which will be delivered to the Pope on Sunday 25 March and, together with the other contributions received, will merge into the Instrumentum laboris, the document on which the Synodal Fathers will meet in October.

While the Pre-Synodal Meeting will have about 300 “in-person” participants, youth from around the world can participant via internet.  More information is available on the meeting

Vatican encourages youth participation in pre-synod meeting via facebook

World Youth Day in Krakow Poland on 6 July 2016. Credit: Jeff Bruno/CNA

VATICAN CITY – As the pre-synod gathering on youth approaches, Vatican organisers are inviting young people around the globe to join in the discussion through Facebook groups in six different languages.

The 2018 Synod of Bishops on Youth, Faith, and Vocational Discernment will take place this October, but a pre-synod meeting with 315 young people from around the world will take place in Rome from March 19-24.

“With this path the Church wishes to listen to the voices, feelings, faith and even the doubts and critiques of the youth,” Pope Francis said in announcing the pre-synod event.

The goal is to hear from youth worldwide about their lives, situations and challenges, in order to prepare for the gathering of bishops on the topic this fall.

For those unable to attend the pre-synod meeting, Facebook groups have been set up  in six languages for Catholics to share their views. The Facebook groups, which were opened about a month ago, will close on March 16.

All young adults ages 16-29 are invited to virtually participate in the pre-synod meeting. After being accepted into the Facebook group, people will have an opportunity to answers questions which will be summarised and presented to the Holy Father.

To participate, members must have an individual profile, not a page representing an organization, group, or cause. The answers to the questions must also be limited to 200 words or a one-minute video sent to WhatsApp at (+39 342 601 5596).

One question discusses “the vocational sense of life,” asking, “Is there a clear understanding in younger generations of their having a personal call and specific mission in the world?”

On Monday [Mar 19], the pre-synod meeting in Rome will begin with a question-and-answer session with Pope Francis. Then participants will break into groups to discuss a variety of themes, like volunteer work, technology, and politics.

At the end of the gathering, notes of the various discussions will be gathered into one comprehensive concluding document, which will be presented to Pope Francis and used as part of the “Instrumentum Laboris,” or “working document,” of the October synod.

The March event will also include opportunities for prayer, such as praying the Way of the Cross while touring the Roman catacombs of San Callisto, as well as entertainment. Palm Sunday Mass will conclude the week, celebrated by Pope Francis in St Peter’s Square.

The focus of the event is divided into three parts: youth in the world, vocational discernment, and pastoral action.

Youth in the world will focus on defining who the younger generations are and what the culture is around them. The gathering will also discuss the choices the youth have made.

Second, the pre-synod meeting will consider how young adults respond to faith and vocations. It will analyse different vocational paths, the gifts of discernment, and how the Church may best accompany young adults.

Third, it hopes to encourage an inclusive pastoral environment where young people are responsibly involved in the community. It will explore possible tools and places, physical and digital, to aid the faith life of young people.

“This is a step the Church is making to listen to all youth,” said Stella Marilene Nishimwe, a young Burundi woman living in Italy who will be a participant to the pre-synod gathering.

“It will give us an opportunity to say everything that we think. This is an opportunity that we must really take.” – CNA/EWTN News

Pope Francis meets with a Taoist delegation from Taiwan

VATICAN CITY – Before his weekly general audience on 14 Mar 2018, Pope Francis received a delegation representing the Bao’An Gong Taoist temple from Taipei, Taiwan.

The President of the Bao’An Gong temple, Liao Wu-jyh, spoke on behalf of the members of his delegation and presented Pope Francis with a joint declaration bearing his signature and that of the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Bishop Miguel Ayuso.

Mr Liao said that the declaration demonstrates the “determination of the Taipei Bao’An temple to join hands with the Holy See” in order to achieve the seven goals listed in it. He added that the most important of these goals is the last one which seeks “to promote and safeguard universal values, namely, justice, peace, solidarity, friendship, freedom, and religious harmony.” Mr Liao concluded his remarks with an invitation to the Holy Father to Taiwan “to see and understand Taiwan and its people first hand—and let us pray for you.”

Responding to Mr Liao’s presentation, Pope Francis thanked him for his words, and for the invitation to visit Taiwan. The Pope said that he is pleased that their dialogue with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue is not only about ideas. “it is a human dialogue, person to person, that helps everyone to grow, to grow as persons, on our road in the search for the Absolute, for God,” Pope Francis said.

“It is a human dialogue, person to person, that helps everyone to grow, to grow as persons, on our road in the search for the Absolute, for God,” Pope Francis said.

Since October 2016, members of the Taipei based Bao’An Gong temple have been in dialogue with the Catholic Church through the Chinese Regional Bishops’ Conference in Taiwan.

A spokesperson for the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue characterised this dialogue as one that has created bonds of friendship and cooperation as each of the participants has grown in their knowledge of the other’s religion.

He said that the visit to the Vatican on the part of the Taoist delegation is significant and “marks a milestone in the relationship.”

He added that both sides in the dialogue hope to be “advocates of justice and to be builders of peace…. Through interreligious dialogue and cooperation we can help safeguard human dignity and promote the betterment of the human family.” – Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp, Vatican News

Pope-emeritus Benedict sees continuity with teaching of Pope Francis

Benedict XVI’s letter and “The Theology of Pope Francis” series (Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY – Retired Pope Benedict wanted to give a contribution, very significant as always, to the interior spiritual unity of the two pontificates. Thus Msgr Dario Edoardo Viganò characterises the letter sent to him by the Pope Emeritus.

Regarding the magisterium of Pope Francis, Benedict writes that “there is interior unity” between his pontificate and that of Pope Francis, his successor. Pope Benedict’s letter was presented by its recipient, Msgr Dario Edoardo Viganò, during a press conference presenting “The Theology of Pope Francis,” a series of 11 books written by 11 different authors, and published by Libreria Editrice Vaticana. The news conference was held in Sala Marconi in the headquarters of Vatican Media on 12 Mar 2018.

“I applaud this initiative,” writes Pope Benedict. “It contradicts the foolish prejudice of those who see Pope Francis as someone who lacks a particular theological and philosophical formation, while I would have been solely a theorist of theology with little understanding of the concrete lives of today’s Christian.”

The Pope Emeritus writes that he is grateful to have received the set of 11 books edited by Roberto Repole, President of the Italian Theological Association. Pope Benedict XVI adds that these volumes “reasonably demonstrate that Pope Francis is a man with profound philosophical and theological formation and are helpful to see the interior continuity between the two pontificates, even with all the differences in style and temperament.”

During the event, Br Giulio Cesareo, OFM, the recently-appointed head of Libreria Editrice Vaticana, explained that contracts have already been signed for the English, Spanish, French, Portoghese, Polish and Romanian editions of the series, and that further negotiations are in process with publishers throughout the world. –  Sr Bernadette Mary Reis fsp, Vatican News

First Vatican Hackathon seeks solutions to real problems

VATICAN CITY – The first Vatican ‘Hackathon’ gets underway on 8 Mar 2018 with a press conference showcasing the Church’s willingness and desire to embrace technological development.

The event brings together 120 university students from around the world to create technological solutions to real-world problems related to interfaith dialogue, social inclusion, and migrants and refugees.

Combining Christian values with technological development to solve global problems, the Vatican Hackathon received enthusiastic support from Pope Francis and the various offices of the Holy See.

Msgr Lucio Ruiz, Secretary of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication, launched the event at a press conference on Thursday. He said Pope Francis was enthusiastic from the beginning about hosting a Vatican Hackathon, saying “Yes, we must do it!”

A Hackathon (combining the words ‘hacking’ and ‘marathon’) hosts university students from different disciplines who collaborate under a time constraint to create solutions to current global problems.

The Vatican event will ask 120 students from 30 countries to address the issues of social inclusion, interfaith dialogue, and the challenges facing migrants and refugees. Over the course of 36 hours on 8-11 March, the teams of business, design, and engineering students will seek to create a project, which leverages technology to provide a solution to a concrete problem. Solutions can come in the form of applications, websites, platforms, products, or new initiatives.

Msgr Ruiz said, besides the Pope’s enthusiasm, the Vatican Secretariat of State was positive about the project and quickly allowed “Vatican” to be added to event.  Msgr Ruiz said this event demonstrates how seamlessly faith, science, and technology work together for the good of all people.

Another presenter, Jesuit Father Michael Czerny, Director of the Vatican’s Migrants and Refugees Section, said the Church has always embraced technology.

“In case you think this Vatican Hackathon is an unusual invention,” he said, “let me just mention that we Jesuits, Dominicans, and Franciscans and others embraced the printing press in the 16th century and did much the same with it as we’re hoping to do with technology today.”

Fr Czerny said the event follows the “long tradition of the Church, learning to use what God has inspired his people to invent.”

Projects will be judged based on how well the technology employed advances socio-economic development and the extent to which moral and ethical challenges related to new technologies were taken into consideration.

One major goal of the Vatican Hackathon is to promote Christian values within technology and business sectors around the world.

The event is sponsored by the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication, the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and OPTIC,  an international network of research and innovation dedicated to ethical issues of disruptive technologies. – Devin Watkins, Vatican News

Pope announces theme for special synod of bishops of Amazon region

Some representatives of Indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has established that the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of the Pan-Amazon Region, to take place in October 2019, will have the following theme:

Amazonia: new pathways for the Church and for an integral ecology

The Vatican Press Office on 8 Mar 2018 issued a press statement in which it revealed the theme for the Assembly and said the Pope has appointed eighteen members of the pre-Synodal Council, which will collaborate with the General Secretariat in the preparation of the aforementioned Special Assembly.

They include Cardinal Claudio Hummes, Archbishop Emeritus of Sao Paolo in Brazil and President of REPAM, Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes, Metropolitan Archbishop of Archdiocese of México, as well as a number of Latin American prelates and Mr Mauricio Lopez, Executive Secretary of REPAM. – Vatican News

Pope Francis approves sainthood for Oscar Romero

A painting of Oscar Romero at the Cathedral of San Salvador (Getty)

VATICAN CITY – Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero will be canonised as a saint, the Vatican confirmed on Wednesday, 7 Mar 2018.

Pope Francis approved the declaration of a miracle attributed to the slain archbishop’s intercession, clearing the way for Romero’s canonisation.

Archbishop Romero was shot dead on 24 March 1980 as he celebrated Mass in a hospital chapel in El Salvador. His murder shocked the world, and came at the height of the country’s civil war. No one has ever been brought to justice for the crime.

Pope Francis decreed in February 2015 that Romero had died for the Catholic faith, before beatifying him in May last year.

Now the Pope has declared that Romero was responsible for the miraculous healing of Cecilia Maribel Flores, who prayed for his intercession while suffering life-threatening complications during a difficult pregnancy.

Pope Francis also approved a miracle for Pope Paul VI, paving the way for his canonisation too.

The Pope now needs to hold a consistory of cardinals to choose the date for the canonisation ceremonies. Cardinal Pietro Parolin said on Tuesday that Paul VI would likely be canonised at the end of the Youth Synod in late October.

Pope Francis also recognised miracles attributed to:

  • Blessed Francesco Spinelli, founder of the Institute of the Sisters Adorers of the Blessed Sacrament
  • Blessed Maria Katharina Kasper, founder of the Institute of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ
  • Blessed Vincenzo Romano, an Italian priest
  • Venerable María Felicia of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, a Paraguayan nun

He also recognised the martyrdom of Anna Kolesárová, and the heroic virtues of:

  • Bernardo Łubieński, professed priest of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer
  • Cecilio Maria Cortinovis (né Antonio Pietro), professed religious of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin
  • Giustina Schiapparoli and Maria Schiapparoli, founders of the Congregation of the Benedictine Sisters of Divine Providence of Voghera
  • Maria Antonella Bordoni, founder of the Little Daughters of the Mother of God
  • Alessandra Sabattini – Catholic Herald

Pope institutes new memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church

Pope Francis before an ancient icon of Mary in the Basilica of St Mary Major (Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis has decreed that the ancient devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of Mother of the Church, be inserted into the Roman Calendar.

The liturgical celebration, B. Mariæ Virginis, Ecclesiæ Matris, will be celebrated annually as a Memorial on the day after Pentecost.

In a decree released on 3 Mar 2018 by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Cardinal Robert Sarah, its Prefect, said the Pope’s decision took account of the tradition surrounding the devotion to Mary as Mother of the Church.

He said the Holy Father wishes to promote this devotion in order to “encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety.”

‘Mother of the Church’ in tradition
The decree reflects on the history of Marian theology in the Church’s liturgical tradition and the writings of the Church Fathers.

It says Saint Augustine and Pope Saint Leo the Great both reflected on the Virgin Mary’s importance in the mystery of Christ.

“In fact the former [St Augustine] says that Mary is the mother of the members of Christ, because with charity she cooperated in the rebirth of the faithful into the Church, while the latter [St Leo the Great] says that the birth of the Head is also the birth of the body, thus indicating that Mary is at once Mother of Christ, the Son of God, and mother of the members of his Mystical Body, which is the Church.”

The decree says these reflections are a result of the “divine motherhood of Mary and from her intimate union in the work of the Redeemer.”

Scripture, the decree says, depicts Mary at the foot of the Cross (cf. Jn 19:25). There she became the Mother of the Church when she “accepted her Son’s testament of love and welcomed all people in the person of the beloved disciple as sons and daughters to be reborn unto life eternal.”

In 1964, the decree says, Pope Paul VI “declared the Blessed Virgin Mary as ‘Mother of the Church, that is to say of all Christian people, the faithful as well as the pastors, who call her the most loving Mother’ and established that ‘the Mother of God should be further honoured and invoked by the entire Christian people by this tenderest of titles’.”

Votive Mass now made a fixed celebration
Then, in the Holy Year of Reconciliation in 1975, the Church inserted into the Roman Missal a votive Mass in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church.

With the present decree, Pope Francis inserts that celebration into the universal Church’s liturgy as a Memorial on a fixed date.

The Congregation for Divine Worship has published the official liturgical texts in Latin. Translations, the decree states, are to be prepared and approved by local Bishops’ Conferences before being confirmed by the Congregation. – Devin Watkins, Vatican News

Pope tells the young to face their fears and the importance of discernment

Pope Francis blesses pilgrims from Panama at the general audience in St Peter’s Square on 8 Nov 2017. (L’Osservatore Romano/CNA photo)

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis’ message for the 33rd World Youth Day, which will be celebrated at diocesan level on Palm Sunday, 25 March 2018, focuses on helping young people to overcome their fears and discern their true vocation

In the message, published by the Vatican on Thursday, 22 Feb 2018, the Pope notes that the forthcoming celebration marks another step in preparation for the international World Youth Day which is due to take place in Panama in January 2019. It also precedes the Synod of Bishops on the theme of youth which is scheduled for October this year, highlighting the importance of young people in the life of the whole Church.

Name your fears
Reflecting on the words of the Angel Gabriel, “Do not be afraid!”, spoken to Mary in St Luke’s Gospel, Pope Francis asks young people to name their own fears. Today, he says, there are many youngsters who continuously photo-shop their images or hide behind false identities, in an attempt to adapt to artificial and unattainable standards. The uncertainty of the jobs market, a sense of inadequacy and a lack of emotional security are other fears which afflict young people, he says.

Importance of discernment
In moments when doubts and fears flood our hearts, the Pope continues, discernment is vital so that we don’t waste energy being gripped by empty and faceless ghosts. The Bible doesn’t ignore the human experience of fear, he says, noting how Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Peter, the apostles and even Jesus himself experienced fear and anguish. The phrase “Do not be afraid” is repeated 365 times in the Bible, the Pope says, “as if to tell us that the Lord wants us to be free from fear, every day of the year.”

Don’t hide behind screens
Pope Francis says discernment should not just be an individual effort at introspection, but also means opening ourselves up to God and to others who can guide us through their own experience. Authentic Christians, he insists, are not afraid to open themselves to others and he urges young people not to close themselves up in a dark room “in which the only window to the outside world is a computer and smartphone.”

Do you accept the challenge?
Just as the Angel calls Mary by name, the Pope continues, so each one of us is called personally by God. Through God’s grace, we can take courage, despite all the doubts, difficulties and temptations that crop up along our way. If we allow ourselves to be touched by Mary’s example, he says, we too can learn to love God and to dedicate ourselves to the weakest and poorest among us. Dear young people, the Pope concludes, as WYD in Panama draws closer, I invite you to prepare yourselves with joy and enthusiasm. “WYD is for the courageous!” “Do you accept the challenge?” – Philippa Hitchen, Vatican News

Pope begins weeklong retreat with Curia officials

Ariccia, Spiritual Exercices 5 Mar 2017 / © PHOTO.VA – OSSERVATORE ROMANO

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis left for his annual retreat at Casa Gesu Divin Maestro (the Divine Master House) in the town of Ariccia near Rome in the afternoon of 18 Feb 2018.

For a week, the Holy Father will remain there praying with members of the Roman Curia.

During his Sunday Angelus address, the Pope asked the faithful to pray for him and those who would be with him participating in the weeklong retreat. At 4 pm, he and the Curia members left on a bus and arrived at the place by 6 pm.

Meditations this year have been entrusted by the Pope to Portuguese priest and Biblical theologian, Father José Tolentino de Mendonça, vice-rector of the Portuguese Catholic University in Lisbon, who will lead the meditations on the theme: “Praise of Thirst.”

The priest, who is also an award winning poet and consultant of the Pontifical Council for Culture, will give nine reflections in total and they generally will be held twice a day, in the morning and afternoon, except on Friday, the last day.

The activities of the Pope and members of the Curia will include morning and evening prayer, and Eucharistic adoration.

The retreat will conclude on the morning of Friday, Feb 23. Until then, all of the Pope’s activities, including the weekly General Audience, Feb 21, are suspended.

Originally, the Spiritual Exercises took place in the Vatican, but Pope Francis moved them to the retreat house, 16 miles outside of Rome.

The retreat house is run by the Society of St Paul. –

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