Category Archives: 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

Vatican launches international conference on ecology

A man sorting through used plastic bottles at a junkyard in Hanoi. (AFP or licensors)

VATICAN CITY – Vatican officials briefed the press on 26 June 2018 on an upcoming international conference to mark three years since the publication of ‘Laudato Sì.’

An International Conference entitled “Saving our Common Home and the Future of Life on Earth” is set to take place in the Vatican on July 5-6.

Organised to coincide with the third anniversary of Pope Francis’ Encyclical “Laudato Sì”, the event will see the participation of Vatican Officials and climate change experts.

Launching the Conference on Tuesday morning in the Holy See Press Office, was Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

He told Vatican News the Conference intends to reiterate the urgent need for substantial changes in policy and lifestyle in order to safeguard Creation.

Cardinal Turkson explained that the aim of this conference is to awaken people to the gravity of the situation.

“We all know how the coral reefs are dying; we all know how whales are washed ashore their bellies full of plastic; how the temperature of the sea is rising so methane gas is being released from the ocean; we know the impact of everything happening: the ice caps melting, the sea levels rising, islands disappearing, the hurricanes becoming more and more violent – we know all of this” he said.

“What does it take,” he continued, “to decide to make a change?”

Turkson pointed out that in his Encyclical ‘Laudato Sì’ Pope Francis expressed great confidence in the ability of the human person to change for the better if he allows himself to be guided by the goodness of God.

“Yes we can change but we need to open ourselves to God and his grace” he said, noting that “if we limit ourselves to technology we will not go far.”

Turkson said what we need is a real conversion of heart, and what he and his Dicastery want to do is to work for change speaking the language of faith “so that with the grace of God we can bring about true change”.

His Dicastery, he said, is taking action and hopefully setting an example by installing a water purifying unit so that there is no more need to buy water in plastic bottles.

Turkson also said that the Vatican Governatorate may go ahead with plans to have solar panels installed and charger stations for electric vehicles.

“These are some suggestions we want to humbly suggest at the end of the conference,” he said. – Linda Bordoni, Vatican News

Holy See expresses alarm over new digital technology being used to perpetrate violence against women

Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic

GENEVA – Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations here addressed a session of the Human Rights Council on 20 June 2018 on violence against women.

The Holy See has expressed alarm that the means of communication and new technologies are being misused to perpetrate violence and abuse against women and girls.

“Violence against women continues to be one of the greatest human rights concerns of our time,” said Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic.

“Despite the progress achieved, violence against women and girls, in its different forms and various contexts, remains a grave scourge at every level of society,”  he told a session of the Human Rights Council on violence against women.

He noted that violence often causes deep wounds and long-lasting consequences that may profoundly disrupt their lives as young girls, wives, mothers, or workers.

Archbishop Jurkovic expressed alarm that the mistreatment of women is exacerbated by the improper use of modern means of communication and that new technologies remain powerless to protect adequately the dignity of women, as well as their privacy and freedom of expression.

He said it is high time to stop violence against women that is facilitated, in particular, by the daily use of insufficiently protected social networks and various online applications.

He lamented that instead of representing a momentous tool for the eradication of every form of discrimination, as well as structural inequities and violence against women, digitalization has actually become an instrument to perpetrate new forms of violence and abuse against women.

The Holy See official noted that achieving full respect for women involves more than simply condemning violence.  It also requires strong efforts to promote and educate respect for the other, to raise awareness, especially among new generations on the value of an authentic dialogue, where the proper understanding of the human person and of her own dignity is a precondition to truly human and effective communication. – Robin Gomes, Vatican News

Copyright © 2018. Powered by WordPress & Romangie Theme.