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Ignoring the poor falsifies the Gospel, pope says in message

Thu, 06/13/2019 - 10:16am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christians must not underestimate the importance of embracing and assisting the poor, oppressed and outcast, Pope Francis said.

Not only did Jesus entrust his disciples with the task of continuing his ministry on earth by giving hope to the poor, but "the credibility of our proclamation and the witness of Christians depends on it," the pope said in a message for the World Day of the Poor.

"Faced with countless throngs of the poor, Jesus was not afraid to identify with each of them" and tell his disciples "whatever you did to one of the least of these my brethren, you did to me," the pope said.

"If we refuse to make this identification, we falsify the Gospel and water down God's revelation," he said.

"If the disciples of the Lord Jesus wish to be genuine evangelizers, they must sow tangible seeds of hope," he said in the message, released by the Vatican June 13, the feast of St. Anthony of Padua, patron saint of the poor.

The World Day of the Poor -- marked each year on the 33rd Sunday of ordinary time -- will be celebrated Nov. 17 this year and, based on Psalm 9:19, will focus on "The hope of the poor shall not perish forever."

The commemoration and the period of reflection and action preceding it are meant to encourage Christians and people of goodwill "to cooperate effectively so that no one will feel deprived of closeness and solidarity," the pope said in the message.

Outlining some of the many old and "new forms of bondage that enslave" people in seriously unjust economic or social situations, the pope asked how people could continue to ignore or not be moved by the plight of these people.

The exploited, unemployed, refugees, orphans, minors brutally torn from their parents, people violated in prostitution or by narcotics, immigrants and the homeless all can end up becoming "part of a human garbage bin; they are treated as refuse, without the slightest sense of guilt on the part of those who are complicit in this scandal."

Judgment is everywhere, the pope said, with people casually deeming the poor to be "parasites on society," a threat or useless merely because they are poor.

"To make matters worse, they can see no end to the tunnel of extreme poverty," he added. Yet "we have come to the point of devising a hostile architecture aimed at ridding the streets of their presence, the last places left to them."

"We can build any number of walls and close our doors in the vain effort to feel secure in our wealth, at the expense of those left outside," the pope said, but, "it will not be that way forever."

The day of God's judgment will come and he "will destroy the barriers created between nations and replace the arrogance of the few with the solidarity of many."

"The marginalization painfully experienced by millions of persons cannot go on for long," he said, quoting Father Primo Mazzolari, a 20th century Italian priest dedicated to the poor and the oppressed: "The poor are a constant protest against our injustices; the poor are a powder keg. If it is set on fire, the world will explode."

Every Christian must respond, he said.

"The love that gives life to faith in Jesus makes it impossible for his disciples to remain enclosed in a stifling individualism or withdrawn into small circles of spiritual intimacy, with no influence on social life," the pope said.

By being close to the poor, he said, the church realizes she "is called to ensure that no one feels a stranger or outcast, for she includes everyone in a shared journey of salvation."

"The situation of the poor obliges us not to keep our distance from the body of the Lord, who suffers in them," Pope Francis said. "Instead, we are called to touch his flesh and to be personally committed in offering a service that is an authentic form of evangelization."

Offering real hope and compassion as well as sharing Christ's love with those in need, he said, Christians themselves are "strengthened and confirm the preaching of the Gospel."

The poor receive genuine hope when they experience warm, loving attention and the promotion of their genuine welfare, he said, not when they see "us gratified by giving them a few moments of our time, but from recognizing in our sacrifice an act of gratuitous love that seeks no reward."

Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, told reporters the pope underlines the importance of matching one's concern for the poor with concrete and consistent efforts that bring them real hope.

Local churches, associations and institutions are again asked to create initiatives that foster moments of real encounter, friendship, solidarity and concrete assistance.

The archbishop said the pope will celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Basilica Nov. 17 with the poor and volunteers, and he will have lunch afterward with about 1,500 people in the Vatican audience hall. Other volunteer groups will offer free meals throughout Rome that day.

A mobile clinic will again be set up outside St. Peter's Square Nov. 11-17, with free general and specialist care, he said.

They will also offer a free concert Nov. 9 "with the poor and for the poor" that will feature the Oscar award- winning Italian composer, Nicola Piovani.

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The pope's message in English can be found online here: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/poveri/documents/papa-francesco_20190613_messaggio-iii-giornatamondiale-poveri-2019.html

In Spanish: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/es/messages/poveri/documents/papa-francesco_20190613_messaggio-iii-giornatamondiale-poveri-2019.html

 

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Bishops approve third-party reporting system; to be in place by May 31

Wed, 06/12/2019 - 7:40pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Dennis Sadowski

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- A nationwide third-party system for receiving confidential reports of "certain complaints" against bishops took a step closer to being implemented during the spring general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In a series of three votes June 12, the bishops voted overwhelmingly to authorize the implementation of a system that would allow people to make reports through a toll-free telephone number as well as online.

The system, which would be operated by an outside vendor contracted by the USCCB, would be in place no later than May 31, 2020, under the proposal accepted by the bishops.

The plan met with widespread support during a 35-minute discussion on the second day of the spring assembly. The full body of bishops voted on three separate measures governing the implementation of the system.

Anthony Picarello, USCCB associate general secretary, presented the proposal to the assembly at the request of Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, conference president.

Picarello said the reporting system would fall in line with the requirements of Pope Francis' "motu proprio" "Vos estis lux mundi" ("You are the light of the world"), issued in May. Among its mandates, the document requires dioceses and eparchies worldwide to establish "one or more public, stable and easily accessible systems for submission of reports." It set June 1, 2020, as a deadline.

All reports would be funneled through a central receiving hub, which would then be responsible for sending allegations to the appropriate metropolitan, or archbishop, responsible for each diocese in a province and to the papal nunciature in Washington, Picarello explained. The U.S. has 32 metropolitans.

The metropolitans will be responsible for reporting any allegation to local law enforcement authorities as the first step toward investigating a claim.

In response to a question from a bishop, Picarello said reports of alleged abuse or complaints about how cases are handled by a bishop will continue to be taken by individual dioceses and eparchies.

Some dioceses already have reporting systems in place. The May 31 deadline was set to allow those systems and each metropolitan to align procedures to be able to accept the reports from the nationwide hotline, Picarello said.

Although the deadline for implementation is nearly one year away, Picarello added, the USCCB hopes the full system can be in place sooner.

"I can assure the Executive Committee along with the Administrative Committee, we want this thing done as quickly as possible," Cardinal DiNardo told the assembly. "But we want to make sure the metropolitans are in on this, and we can only go as fast as the metropolitans can go on this."

The first vote concerned putting a nationwide reporting system in place; it passed 205-16, with three abstentions.

In the second vote, the bishops agreed that the USCCB executive and administrative committees would develop a more detailed proposal regarding how the system would operate. It passed 200-21, with two abstentions.

Details and cost estimates would be reviewed in September by the bishops' Administrative Committee, which includes the officers and the chairmen of the various conference committees.

The same committee in November -- prior to the bishops' fall general assembly -- would then review scripts and other relevant details after the selection of a vendor. The Executive Committee would continue to oversee implementation of the program.

The final vote -- passing 220-4 with 1 abstention -- committed the bishops to having the reporting system operational by May 31.

The proposal also calls for the online segment to contain a link that could be posted on any diocesan or eparchial website as well as the USCCB website.

Bishop Robert D. Conlon of Joliet, Illinois, said publicizing the phone and online reporting system will be key. "The last thing we want is to be accused of not being transparent of a system we are setting up," he said.

Cardinal DiNardo said the reporting system as well as follow-up on how well it is working will be subject to review in three years, as called for under "Vos estis lux mundi."

Pope Francis' document is a new universal church law that safeguards members from abuse and holds its leaders accountable. It governs complaints against clergy or church leaders regarding the sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable persons.

The Executive Committee presented a proposal for a third-party reporting system to receive complaints against bishops to the Administrative Committee in September. After being accepted, the plan was initially among a series of steps to respond to the ongoing sexual abuse crisis that was to be voted on during the USCCB's general assembly last fall.

However, those votes were postponed at the request of the Vatican until after Pope Francis convened a meeting of the presidents of bishops' conferences around the world to discuss a unified response to the crisis.

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski

 

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Bishops affirm diocese's effort for Michigan man's sainthood cause

Wed, 06/12/2019 - 5:35pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Irving Houle Association

By Mark Pattison

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- The U.S. bishops, after being consulted about the sainthood cause of a man who, except for service in World War II, spent his life in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, gave vocal assent June 12 for the Diocese of Marquette to continue to pursue the cause.

Hearing no nays in the voice vote, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston declared the vote on the cause of Irving Houle to be unanimous.

The current bishop of Marquette, John F. Doerfler, said he had talked to Houle's widow about her husband. And the former bishop of the diocese -- Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Oregon -- had met Houle as a clergyman in northernmost Michigan.

Archbishop Sample said Houle came into the rectory of a church where a confirmation ceremony had just concluded. "At first, I didn't know who he was," the archbishop recalled. But as the conversation continued, Archbishop Sample said he might have gotten a whiff of "the odor of sanctity ... I could definitely smell a rose."

Then, he added, "I was glancing at his hands," and at this point Archbishop Sample, while recalling the encounter to his fellow bishops, was rubbing his hands as if he were lathering them with soap. "Then I saw the bandages on his hands, and I knew who he was."

Houle was said to receive the stigmata 16 years before he died in 2009, but well before that "many extraordinary physical and spiritual healings" were attributed to him, according to a biography of Houle (pronounced "hool") posted on the website of the Irving "Francis" Houle Association for the Cause of Sainthood.

"When I first spoke to Irving's wife and asked about her husband, her first words to me, were, 'He was a wonderful husband and father,'" Bishop Doerfler said. "His pastor described him as 'the guy next door, and a holy man.' These brief descriptions highlight the importance and the relevance of the (sainthood) cause."

Bishop Doerfler added, "Do we not need such illustrations of how one can lead a life of holiness in daily life?"

Houle was born in Wilson, Michigan, in 1925. Thrown from a galloping horse at age 6, his injuries -- which included broken ribs and a punctured lung -- were reported by a local newspaper as "believed to be fatal." But with sisters at a Franciscan convent praying for him -- his aunt was one of the nuns -- and after seeing a "beautiful man in a white bathrobe" at the foot of his bed one night, young Irving no longer struggled to breathe.

Houle went to daily Mass as a teenager and "it was not uncommon for him to be moved to tears at the consecration," the biography said.

He married his wife, Gail, in 1948, and they had five children. They lived in Escanaba, the Upper Peninsula's third-largest city at 12,000, less than 20 miles from his childhood home. "His family knew him as a devoutly religious, loving, caring person who was fun to be around. Irving was known to be a teaser and a prankster," the biography said, adding, "He was also known to have his feelings hurt easily, and at times he had a temper."

At one job, Houle kept pictures of the Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart on his desk. "Once a comment was made about the religious pictures," the biography noted, and Houle replied, "If they go, I go." He was also known to go to church to pray the stations of the cross every day after work, no matter how late he worked.

Houle received the stigmata on Good Friday 1993. "He suffered the Passion every night between midnight and 3 a.m. for the rest of his earthly life. He understood that these particular hours of the day were times of great sins of the flesh," the biography said.

After retiring, Houle talked to "tens of thousands" of people, it added. "He was most happy to learn of people returning to confession after 20, 30 or 40 years, and receiving Jesus in the Eucharist."

At speaking engagements at churches or elsewhere, "there were many extraordinary physical and spiritual healings, and he always made it crystal clear that these things came from God," the biography said. "He would simply say, 'I don't heal anybody," and 'Jesus is the one who heals.'"

Archbishop Sample verified this account. "He always wanted to act in communion with the local church. He always wanted to work in communion with the local bishop," he said of Houle. "He never wanted to draw attention to himself," adding Houle was "an ordinary, humble man who obtained some true sanctity in his life."

Deacon Mike LeBeau of the Houle Association, in an email to Catholic News Service, said a Marquette diocesan priest gave Houle the nickname Francis "to protect Irving and his family from being exploited by people."

Houle's cause was forwarded by the bishops' Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance at the request of Bishop Doerfler.

The bishops, meeting June 11-13 in Baltimore, have been consulted at a growing number of their general meetings about the lives of holy men and women being proposed for sainthood. The question posed for each one: "Does the body of bishops consider it advisable to continue to advance on the local level the cause for canonization of the Servant of God?"

Such a question needs to be answered in the affirmative by a majority of the bishops present and voting.

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Catholic Church should focus on getting 'nones' back, Bishop Barron says

Wed, 06/12/2019 - 1:20pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Carol Zimmermann

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- Although the U.S. bishops' spring assembly in Baltimore was mostly devoted to responding to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, the bishops also considered something described as the second-most important issue currently facing U.S. church leaders: How to get religiously unaffiliated, or "nones," particularly young people, back to the Catholic Church.

This is a top priority for our church, said Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron of Los Angeles, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, who is known for his website, "Word on Fire," and for hosting the documentary series "Catholicism."

In a June 11 presentation, the bishop said a group of experts who've examined why young people are leaving the faith in increasing numbers recently spoke with his committee about this and will share their findings during a lunch presentation at the bishops' fall assembly in Baltimore.

"How many are leaving? The short answer is: a lot," the bishop said, noting the sobering statistic he said many in the room probably were aware of -- that 50% of Catholics 30 years old and younger have left the church.

"Half the kids that we baptized and confirmed in the last 30 years are now ex-Catholics or unaffiliated," he said, and "one out of six millennials in the U.S. is now a former Catholic."

Another statistic that particularly affects him is this: "For every one person joining our church today, 6.45 are leaving" and most are leaving at young ages, primarily before age 23. The median age of those who leave is 13.

 "Where are they going?" he asked, and in response to his own question, he again gave a short answer: They're "becoming nones" although some, in much smaller percentages, join other mainstream religions or evangelical churches.

Bishop Barron said church leaders don't need to speculate about why people are leaving because there are plenty of studies and surveys that answer this. The No. 1 reason, he said, is that they simply no longer believe the church's teachings, primarily its doctrinal beliefs.

In his opinion, he said, this is "a bitter fruit of the dumbing-down of our faith" as it has been presented in catechesis and apologetics.

Other reasons he said young people are leaving have to do with relativism, science and the church's teachings on sexuality.

The bishop's hope, in this environment, is that the young, religiously unaffiliated can still be reached because as he put it, most have drifted away versus storming away from the faith. "We're not up against a fierce opponent at every turn," he said, adding: "Most are ambivalent to religion rather than hostile to it."

He also mentioned what he called the "Jordan Peterson phenomenon," which he prefaced by saying, "Please don't take this as a one-sided endorsement" of the Canadian psychology professor and author who is popular on social media.

"He speaks at a very high level about serious things and big ideas," Bishop Barron said, noting Peterson's current YouTube talks on the Bible. He said the fact that millions of young people, young men in particular, are watching this speaker talk about "our book, the Bible" is worth reflecting on and is a sign of hope.

Not everyone on Catholic social media agreed with this point. Some questioned how the bishop could present a speaker who has stirred controversy with his complaints against political correctness as a model, while others called him an example of someone who takes on the big questions.

The other examples Bishop Barron pointed to as signs of hope were Catholic campus missionary groups, like the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, or FOCUS, that are "getting traction with young people."

He also said the amount of engagement about social media in religion is a good thing, even those angry about religion. He said he was recently part of an "AMA" (Ask Me Anything) feature on Reddit, an internet news aggregator, where he said he was a Catholic bishop who loved to talk with atheists and ended up with more than 12,000 questions in under an hour.

In the discussion period after his Baltimore presentation, several bishops agreed with his analysis and one bishop asked for clarification and spelling of Reddit.

Bishop Christopher J. Coyne of Burlington, Vermont, said it was "wonderful that we're talking about this issue and I think we need to make it front and center at all of our gatherings." He said he hoped the discussion on the topic at the bishops' fall meeting also would examine cultural and sociological issues influencing young people to leave the church.

For example, he said the "paradigm of parish membership" does not work for millennials since many of them move so frequently, and this also applies to society in general where so many no longer join communities which leads to isolation and loneliness.

In response, Bishop Barron said young people who are leaving, can be reached, in a broader sense through social media.

"We have to go get them and we do have the means to do that through social media -- with all of its negativity."

He said the paradox is that social media can also lead to further isolation because people are connected only though their screens, but at this point in time, he said using it as "an evangelical tool is required now, given the fact that people aren't going to come to our institutions."

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Pope advances sainthood causes for U.S. priest, Spanish martyrs

Wed, 06/12/2019 - 10:15am

IMAGE: CNS/Archdiocese of Chicago

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis advanced the sainthood cause of Father Augustus Tolton, who was the first African American diocesan priest in the United States and founder of the first black Catholic parish in Chicago.

Signing decrees issued by the Congregation for Saints' Causes June 11, Pope Francis also formally recognized the martyrdom of three Catholic laywomen who were nurses for the Red Cross and were killed during the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War.

The decree for Father Tolton's cause recognizes that he lived a life of heroic virtue.

Father Tolton had been born into slavery in 1854 on a plantation near Brush Creek, Missouri. After his father left to try to join the Union Army during the Civil War, his mother fled with her three children by rowing them across the Mississippi River and settling in Quincy in the free state of Illinois.

There, he was encouraged to discern his vocation to the priesthood by the Franciscan priests who taught him at St. Francis College, now Quincy University. However, he was denied access to seminaries in the United States after repeated requests, so he pursued his education in Rome at what is now the Pontifical Urbanian University.

He was ordained for the Propaganda Fidei Congregation in 1886, expecting to become a missionary in Africa. Instead, he was sent to be a missionary in his own country and returned to Quincy, where he served for three years before going to the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1889.

Despite rampant racism and discrimination, he became one of the city's most popular pastors, attracting members of both white and black Catholic communities. He spearheaded the building of St. Monica Church for black Catholics and worked tirelessly for his congregation in Chicago, even to the point of exhaustion. On July 9, 1897, he died of heatstroke on a Chicago street at the age of 43.

He was known for persevering against all odds in pursuit of his calling and quietly devoted himself to his people, despite great difficulties and setbacks.

Pope Francis also formally recognized the martyrdom of Maria Pilar Gullon Yturriaga, Octavia Iglesias Blanco and Olga Perez-Monteserin Nunez, members of Catholic Action who volunteered to serve wounded soldiers on the Asturian front in northern Spain.

The women refused to leave the wounded unattended even though the area was about to come under the control of populist fighters. All the patients, the doctor and chaplain were killed, and the three nurses were assaulted, raped and shot on Oct. 28, 1936. Gullon, Iglesias and Perez-Monteserin were 25, 41 and 23 years old, respectively.

The pope also signed decrees attesting to the heroic virtues lived by six servants of God -- three men and three women. Among them were:

-- Mother Rosario Arroyo, a distant relative of the former Filipino President Gloria Arroyo, lived from 1884 to 1957 and founded the Dominican Sisters of the Most Holy Rosary of the Philippines.

-- Felice Tantardini, known as "God's blacksmith," was an Italian lay missionary for the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions. Born in 1898, he spent 70 years serving in Myanmar, where he died in 1991 at the age of 93. He worked as a catechist and helped build churches, schools, parish houses, hospitals, seminaries, orphanages, convents and bridges.  

 

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Unity is first sign of true Christian witness, pope says

Wed, 06/12/2019 - 10:07am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Catholic Church gives an authentic witness of God's love for all men and women only when it fosters the grace of unity and communion, Pope Francis said.

Unity is part of "the DNA of the Christian community," the pope said June 12 during his weekly general audience.

The gift of unity, he said, "allows us not to fear diversity, not to attach ourselves to things and gifts," but "to become martyrs, luminous witnesses of God who lives and works in history."

"We, too, need to rediscover the beauty of giving witness to the Risen Lord, going beyond self-referential attitudes, renouncing the desire to stifle God's gifts and not yielding to mediocrity," he said.

Despite the sweltering Roman heat, thousands of people filled St. Peter's Square for the audience, which began with Pope Francis circling the square in the popemobile, occasionally stopping to greet pilgrims and even comfort a crying child.

In his main talk, the pope continued his new series on the Acts of the Apostles, looking specifically at the apostles who, after the Resurrection, "prepare to receive God's power -- not passively but by consolidating communion between them."

Before ultimately taking his own life, Judas' separation from Christ and the apostles began with his attachment to money and losing sight of the importance of self-giving "until he allowed the virus of pride to infect his mind and heart, transforming him from a friend into an enemy."

Judas "stopped belonging to the heart to Jesus and placed himself outside of communion with him and his companions. He stopped being a disciple and placed himself above the master," the pope explained.

Nevertheless, unlike Judas who "preferred death to life" and created a "wound in the body of the community," the 11 apostles choose "life and blessing."

Pope Francis said that by discerning together to find a suitable replacement, the apostles gave "a sign that communion overcomes divisions, isolation and the mentality that absolutizes the private space."

"The Twelve manifest in the Acts of the Apostles the Lord's style," the pope said. "They are the accredited witnesses of Christ's work of salvation and do not manifest to the world their presumed perfection but rather, through the grace of unity, reveal another one who now lives in a new way in the midst of his people: our Lord Jesus."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Copyright © 2019 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Response to church abuse crisis looms large at bishops' spring meeting

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 7:25pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Carol Zimmermann

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- At the start of the June 11-13 spring assembly of the U.S. bishops in Baltimore, it was clear the bishops had a task at hand: to respond to the sexual abuse crisis in the church.

Several speakers addressing the group discussed the challenge ahead and the need for the bishops to be both transparent and reliant upon lay leadership. The bishops also examined their plans to vote on procedures and policies in response to the abuse crisis, including some they had put aside during their fall general assembly in November at the Vatican's request.

The delay was addressed from the meeting's onset June 11 in a message from Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the Vatican's nuncio to the United States.

He noted that there were "some expressions of 'dissent'" by some U.S. bishops at the previous assembly about postponing votes on items related to the reemergent clergy sexual abuse crisis, but he also stressed that "unity prevails over conflict."

"Working together provides us with the opportunity to speak and to listen," said the message from Archbishop Pierre, read by Msgr. Walter Erbi, charge d'affaires at the Vatican's nunciature in Washington. Archbishop Pierre was at the Vatican for a nuncio meeting.

He said that despite the desire among U.S. bishops in November to act quickly to address new crises on clergy sex abuse, the postponement of the votes on the issue allowed the U.S. church to participate more fully at the Vatican's February summit on the protection of minors.

"One of the reasons the Holy Father asked for a delay was that the whole church needed to walk together, to work in a synodal way," Archbishop Pierre said, "with the guidance of the Holy Spirit to make the path forward clearer."

Moving forward was certainly a theme of the day, echoed by National Review Board chairman Francesco Cesareo, who called for a greater role for laity in investigating allegations of abuse or reaction to reports of abuse against bishops.

Cesareo also said National Review Board members recommend a thorough review of the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" and a revision in the audit process regarding diocesan implementation of the charter, which governs the church's response to clergy abuse allegations.

"A strengthened audit would provide a means for improving your dioceses' existing methods to protect and heal," Cesareo said. "Virtually all your dioceses, including those where problems came to light under the microscope of the media and attorney generals, have easily passed the audit for years since the bar currently is so low. Now is the time to raise the bar on compliance to ensure the mistakes of the past are not repeated."

Cesareo also recommended that the charter "should be revised immediately to explicitly include bishops and demand for greater accountability."

"You have a great opportunity," he said, "to lead by example and help show dioceses and episcopal conferences around the world not only how important it is for lay involvement to ensure greater accountability and transparency, but also how laity and the episcopacy can be co-responsible for the church's well-being."

Both the National Review Board and the National Advisory Council pressed the bishops to encourage Vatican officials to release documents regarding the investigation of misconduct by Theodore E. McCarrick, the former cardinal who was laicized earlier this year. The allegations against him were made public nearly a year ago on June 20, 2018.

The bishops were reminded June 11 of the agenda items related to the church crisis on which they will vote June 13.

The big item for discussion and vote is a plan to implement the document "Vos Estis Lux Mundi" ("You are the light of the world") issued by Pope Francis in May to help the Catholic Church safeguard its members from abuse and hold its leaders accountable.

The "motu proprio" was one of the measures that came out of the Vatican's February Vatican summit on clergy sexual abuse attended by the presidents of the world's bishops' conferences.

While many of the directives of the document regarding clergy already have been implemented in the United States with its 2002 "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," the action items before the bishops concern allegations of abuse or negligence on the part of bishops. Bishops were not explicitly included in the charter because authority over the bishops and their discipline rests with the pope himself.

The bishops will also vote on a document titled "Acknowledging Our Episcopal Commitments" in which the bishops promise to hold themselves accountable to the commitments of the charter, including a zero-tolerance policy for abuse, and that any codes of conduct in their respective dioceses regarding clergy apply to themselves as well.

Another related item is the "protocol regarding available nonpenal restrictions on bishops," which outlines what canonical options are available to bishops when a now-retired bishop resigned or is removed "due to sexual misconduct with adults or grave negligence of office, or where subsequent to his resignation he was found to have so acted or failed to act."

The bishops also discussed the upcoming election, the crisis at the border and the issue of young adults leaving the church.

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, USCCB vice president, urged fellow bishops to raise their voice in favor of "more humane policies" for immigrants seeking asylum in the U.S. In addition, Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron of Los Angeles, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, spoke about an upcoming presentation at the fall meeting on how to respond to the growing number of young people leaving the church.

In anticipation of the 2020 presidential election, the U.S. bishops' quadrennial document that provides guidance to voters on Catholic social teaching won't change, but it will be supplemented by a brief letter and four 90-second videos that reflect the teaching of Pope Francis, the bishops were told.

The bishops also are voting on other issues not related to the abuse crisis at the spring assembly. They are to decide whether to approve a revised national directory on formation and ministry for permanent deacons, if they should update texts for the ordination of clergy, and revise a passage to the U.S. Catechism for Adults about the death penalty.

A small group of no more than 10 protesters stood in largely silent protest June 11 outside the hotel where the meeting was taking place. One of the group's demands was that the bishops report abuse claims first to law enforcement.

"We don't think the church can police themselves," said Becky Ianni, director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests for the Washington area.

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Contributing to this report were Dennis Sadowski and Mark Pattison.

 

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Cesareo repeats call for greater lay involvement as church tackles abuse

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 2:37pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Dennis Sadowski

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- National Review Board chairman Francesco Cesareo offered the U.S. bishops meeting in Baltimore a series of recommendations that he said will strengthen the church's response to the ongoing clergy sexual abuse crisis.

The recommendations made June 11 during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' spring general assembly in Baltimore included a call for a greater role for laity in investigating allegations of abuse or reaction to reports of abuse against bishops.

Cesareo also said National Review Board members recommend a thorough review of the "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" and a revision in the audit process regarding diocesan implementation of the charter, which governs the church's response to clergy abuse allegations.

Strong measures are necessary to show that while progress has been made since the charter's adoption in 2002, the bishops would demonstrate that they are serious in their response to clergy abuse in response to the mistrust and serious questions laypeople still harbor.

"My hope is that they will seriously consider the recommendations we made on the four action items come to recognize that the proposals that we've made are only going to strengthen their response," Cesareo told Catholic News Service after his address.

"It's not meant to undermine their authority but in reality strengthen their position in dealing with the questions around this issue as opposed to a challenge to their authority or position. That's not the intent. The intent is how can we together work on this issue to put you, as the leaders, in the best possible position to effectively and definitively deal with this," he said.

Cesareo stressed to the bishops the need to carry out what Pope Benedict XVI described as the laity's co-responsibility to help build the church.

He told CNS that co-responsibility means "together we can have a role to play for the well-being of the church."

Cesareo also admitted that he has used strong and firm language in delivering the review board's recommendations "to show the urgency of the situation and that we can't just keep pushing this down the road."

In his address to the assembly, Cesareo called on the bishops to improve the audit of dioceses to ensure their compliance with the charter so that it is "more thorough and independent." He said the audit is a means for the bishops to establish their credibility with laypeople.

A working group, composed of three members of the bishops' Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People and three lay members of the National Review Board, has been discussing a framework for improving the audit, he said. The focus has been on allowing the outside contractor that is hired by the USCCB to conduct the audit to be more independent and flexible in its work, he said.

Cesareo recommended that changes in the audit process occur as soon as possible so they can be implemented in the next audit cycle beginning in 2021.

"A strengthened audit would provide a means for improving your dioceses' existing methods to protect and heal," Cesareo said. "Virtually all your dioceses, including those where problems came to light under the microscope of the media and attorney generals, have easily passed the audit for years since the bar currently is so low. Now is the time to raise the bar on compliance to ensure the mistakes of the past are not repeated."

Cesareo also recommended that the charter "should be revised immediately to explicitly include bishops and demand for greater accountability."

While such a revision has been suggested to the bishops in the past, Cesareo said the time has come for a proposal to be addressed. Among the changes he recommended include the reporting of all allegations of sexual abuse of minors to diocesan review boards; the need for review boards to meet annually to assist with diocesan policy reviews; consideration of continual supervision and monitoring of offenders who have not been laicized; and the start of parish audits.

"Despite ongoing challenges, positive momentum has been evident in the church since the initial approval of the charter and the audit," Cesareo added. "Any delay in revising the charter or implementing an enhanced audit would not only put children at risk, but could signal a step backward in the church's efforts."

The review board chairman cited Pope Francis "motu proprio" regarding the bishops' plan to adopt new standards to govern their own accountability on handling abuse claims.

The document, titled "Vos estis lux mundi" ("You are the light of the world"), is a new universal law from the pope to safeguard its members from abuse and hold its leaders accountable. It governs complaints against clergy or church leaders regarding the sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable persons. The U.S. bishops will vote on directives for implementing this church law later during the spring assembly.

Cesareo said the article 13 of the document allows that the bishops of a province may include qualified persons, including laity, to be part of the investigation of a bishop who has had a claim filed against him.

"The NRB urges that this must be the case in the United States through the establishment of an ad hoc lay commission, either on the national or local level," he said.

He said such lay involvement would "restore the trust of the faithful in the bishops and even in the Holy See's own processes for holding bishops' accountable."

The pope's new juridical instrument calls for a "public, stable and easily accessible" reporting system for allegations; clear standards for the pastoral support of victims and their families; timeliness and thoroughness of investigations; whistleblower protection for those making allegations; and the use of "proven experts from among the laity"; and the oversight of the metropolitan (archbishop) for such investigations in his province. The U.S. Catholic Church has 32 metropolitans.

However, Cesareo said that the metropolitan archbishop "should not be the sole gatekeeper of allegations that come forward" because it could lead to "mishandling of an allegation."

"You have a great opportunity," he said, "to lead by example and help show dioceses and episcopal conferences around the world not only how important it is for lay involvement to ensure greater accountability and transparency, but also how laity and the episcopacy can be co-responsible for the church's well-being."

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski

 

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Proposed protocol outlines restrictions on bishops facing claim of abuse

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 12:58pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Mark Pattison

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- If a credible accusation of sexual misconduct has been reported against a retired bishop, his successor may act to limit the retired bishop's scope of ministry, including the celebration of the sacraments and the right to be buried in the diocesan cathedral, according to a proposed document presented to the bishops the first day of their June 11-13 spring general assembly in Baltimore.

The "Protocol Regarding Available Non-Penal Restrictions on Bishops" was scheduled to be voted on when the bishops met last November. However, the Vatican requested they delay a vote until after the Vatican held a February meeting for presidents of bishops' conferences worldwide to discuss the abuse crisis.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Administrative Committee had decided last September that the development of a such a protocol would be helpful, said Bishop Robert P. Deeley of Portland, Maine, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance. With the delay of any possible vote on the document last fall, bishops had more time to offer suggestions on the document.

"The authority to impose penalties on bishops who have committed offensive acts by commission or omission rests solely with the supreme pontiff," Bishop Deeley reminded his fellow bishops. But there are "existing instruments in canon law that are available to a diocesan bishop for imposing limitations."

The proposed document uses "bishop emeritus" to refer for any bishop who has retired for age or for a "grave cause," or who was removed from office by the pope.

"The diocesan bishop will inform the bishop emeritus that public notice will be given of the situation and of any measures accepted by or applied to the bishop emeritus," the proposed document says. "Prior to issuing such pubic notice, the diocesan bishops will inform the apostolic nuncio of his communications with the bishop emeritus, and will confer with the apostolic nuncio on the measures to be imposed."

Those restrictions can include "a statement to the effect that the bishop emeritus does not represent the diocese in any fashion or act on its behalf, and he is not to make public statements about alleged offenses, since these could result in further harm to victims or be detrimental to the faithful."

A diocesan bishop may forbid a retired bishop to preach, which is any clergyman's canonical right. "The diocesan bishop concerned may also request that the Apostolic See extend this prohibition more broadly or deny the exercise of the right entirely," the proposed document says.

Diocesan bishops also may strip a retired bishop of the right to confer the sacrament of confirmation or to hear confessions. "The bishop emeritus can be denied the delegation necessary to witness marriages," it adds. "The diocesan bishop may request of the bishop emeritus, in writing, that he refrain from the public celebration of other sacraments or rites of the church."

While the U.S bishops, in their "Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops," state that retired bishops have the right to sustenance and retirement benefits, "the diocesan bishop may adjust the benefits given to a bishop emeritus who falls under this protocol," the proposed document said. "For instance, the diocesan bishop may decide that no funding for travel or secretarial assistance needs to be provided."

As for the possibility of burial in the diocesan cathedral, "the diocesan bishop will prudently decide based on local circumstances whether the bishop emeritus will be buried in the cathedral church of if other arrangements should be made."

Much in the proposed protocol is dependent on the retired bishop agreeing to the requests and directives of his successor. Should he refuse, though, it adds, "the diocesan bishop can take measures within his competence, and strongly request further and swift intervention from the Apostolic See regarding matters outside his competence."

The proposed protocol is scheduled to be voted on June 13, with bishops able to submit amendments until the end of their June 12 session. To be approved, the document requires a yes vote by two-thirds of all members of the USCCB.

 

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Vatican bank reports decreased profits in 2018

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 11:11am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Institute for the Works of Religion, often referred to as the Vatican bank, made a profit of 17.5 million euros (about US$19.8 million) in 2018, just over half the profit reported in the previous year, according to its annual report.

The bank, which had made a profit of 31.9 million euros in 2017, said the decrease was due "to the strong turbulence of the markets throughout the year and the persistence of interest rates which are still very low."

The institute held assets worth 5 billion euros (US$5.6 billion) at year's end, which included deposits and investments from close to 15,000 clients -- mostly Catholic religious orders around the world, Vatican offices and employees, and Catholic clergy.

In a statement released by the Vatican June 11, the institute said it continued to provide financial services to the Catholic Church present in the whole world and Vatican City State.

According to the report, the bank's assets are worth 637 million euros (US$721 million), placing its tier 1 capital ratio -- which measures the bank's financial strength -- at 86.4 percent compared to 68.3 percent in 2017. The increased ratio, the bank said, "is a testament of its elevated solvency and its low-risk profile."

Additionally, the bank refined its screening process for financial investments to ensure that it is "consistent with Catholic ethics by selecting only companies that carry out activities that are in accordance with the social doctrine of the church."

The Vatican bank, the statement said, continues "to make investments aimed at fostering development in poorer countries while respecting choices that are consistent with establishing a sustainable future for future generations."

The IOR, which is the Italian acronym for the Institute for the Works of Religion, said that it also "contributed to the implementation of numerous charitable and social activities, both through donations of a financial nature and through reduced-rate or gratuitous leases for the use of its own real estate to entities for social purposes."

Before the report's release, the 2018 financial statements were audited by the firm Deloitte & Touche and were reviewed by the Commission of Cardinals overseeing the institute's work, the press release said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Christians are called to serve, not use others, pope says

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 11:03am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christians who use others, rather than serve others, greatly harm the church, Pope Francis said.

Christ's instructions to his disciples to "cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers and drive out demons" are the path to "a life of service" that all Christians are called to follow, the pope said June 11 in his homily during morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae.

"Christian life is for service," the pope said. "It is very sad to see Christians who, at the start of their conversion or their awareness of being Christians, serve, are open to serving, serve the people of God and then end up using the people of God. This does so much harm, so much harm to the people of God. The vocation is to 'serve,' not to 'use.'"

In his homily, the pope said that while Christ's instruction to give freely what has been given freely is for everyone, it is meant especially "for us shepherds of the church."

Members of the clergy who "do business with the grace of God," the pope warned, cause a lot damage to others and especially to themselves and their own spiritual lives when they attempt "to bribe the Lord."

"This relationship of gratuitousness with God is what will help us have it with others, both in our Christian witness and in Christian service and in the pastoral life of those who are shepherds of the people of God," he said.

Reflecting on the day's Gospel reading, in which Jesus entrusts the apostles with the mission of proclaiming that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand" and to do so "without cost," the pope said that salvation "cannot be purchased; it is given freely."

The only thing God asks for, he added, is "that our heart be opened."

"When we say, 'Our Father' and pray, we open our hearts so that this gratuitousness may come. There is no relationship with God outside of gratuitousness," the pope said.

Christians who fast, do penance or a novena to obtain "something spiritual or a grace" must be aware that the purpose of self-denial or prayer "is not to pay for the grace, to acquire the grace" but a means "to widen your heart so that grace may come," he said.

"Grace is free," Pope Francis said. "May our life of holiness be this widening of the heart so that God's gratuitousness -- the graces of God that are there and that he wants to give freely -- may reach our hearts."

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju

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Former NBA referee makes spiritual call to be permanent deacon

Mon, 06/10/2019 - 2:48pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Archdiocese of Philadelphia

By Lou Baldwin

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- If 30 years ago anyone told Steve Javie he would become a permanent deacon, he probably would have said, "No way."

Sure, he came from a solid Catholic family with Mass every Sunday, confession every two weeks need it or not, and his uncle Msgr. Anthony Jaworowski was one of the most respected priests in the Philadelphia Archdiocese, but all of that was ancient history as far as Javie was concerned.

Sports was really in his blood. His dad, Stan Javie, was an NFL football referee who worked four Super Bowls. Steve played baseball, football and basketball at La Salle College High School, outside of Philadelphia, and at Philadelphia's Temple University he continued with baseball, which was his first love.

After getting his degree in business administration, Javie signed on as a pitcher in the Baltimore Orioles' farm system, but his dreams of baseball stardom were cut short after one year because of an arm injury.

In college, he'd done some refereeing and umpiring to pick up a little money, which he then considered making his career. He first worked as baseball umpire but ultimately switched to basketball, which from an officiating standpoint has more action.

After five years officiating in the Continental Basketball Association, Javie was hired by the NBA in 1986, and he remained there for the rest of his 20-plus-year career. Now, although he is retired, he provides commentary on NBA officiating during telecasts of games on ESPN.

His job required a lot of travel and that was how he met his wife, Mary-ellen Kennedy, who worked at Philadelphia International Airport.

After one date, he suggested they go to Sunday Mass and brunch and on their way to the restaurant, he told Mary-ellen he didn't get much out of the service.

She looked at him and asked, "What did you put into it?"

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"There's a lot things you could do," she said. "Have you anyone you could pray for while you're sitting there?"

That got him thinking and it got him going back to Mass on a regular basis. The couple married in less than a year.

Javie went through a rough patch in 1999 when he was one of 15 referees to be accused of tax evasion, in his case over the value of frequent-flyer miles. His worries about that got him going to Mass every day and even though he was the only one to be acquitted on all charges, the daily Mass habit stuck.

For more than 10 years, he and his wife have belonged to St. Andrew Parish in Newtown, where Steve belongs to a "small" men's faith-sharing group with about 50-60 men in it, and he loves it.

When he retired from the NBA in 2011, he said he was looking for a way to give more time serving the Lord. "It was the Holy Spirit -- the word 'deacon' just popped into my head," he told CatholicPhilly.com, the news outlet of the Philadelphia Archdiocese. He went to his pastor, Msgr. Michael Picard, who advised him to go for it.

On June 8, Javie joined six other men who were ordained as deacons for the Philadelphia Archdiocese at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul. He is looking forward to ministry, especially to men, telling them, "it's OK to go make money, but you also have to go to church and love Jesus."

One other thing. People associate basketball referees with that whistle they like to blow. Now-Deacon Javie still carries his whistle every day, mostly in memory a dear friend who did the same thing.

And because parish meetings can get pretty contentious at times, he might even need to use it.

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Baldwin writes for CatholicPhilly.com, the news website of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

 

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Gender ideology is opposed to faith, reason, Vatican office says

Mon, 06/10/2019 - 11:45am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Catholic schools must help parents teach young people that biological sex and gender are naturally fixed at birth and part of God's plan for creation, said the Congregation for Catholic Education.

In a document published June 10, the congregation said the Catholic Church and those proposing a looser definition of gender can find common ground in "a laudable desire to combat all expressions of unjust discrimination," in educating children to respect all people "in their peculiarity and difference," in respecting the "equal dignity of men and women" and in promoting respect for "the values of femininity."

And while great care must be taken to respect and provide care for persons who "live situations of sexual indeterminacy," those who teach in the name of the Catholic Church must help young people understand that being created male and masculine or female and feminine is part of God's plan for them.

The document, "Male and Female He Created Them: Toward a Path of Dialogue on the Question of Gender Theory in Education," was signed by Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, prefect of the education congregation, and Archbishop Angelo Zani, congregation secretary.

The document recognized a distinction between "the ideology of gender," which it said tries to present its theories as "absolute and unquestionable," and the whole field of scientific research on gender, which attempts to understand the ways sexual difference is lived out in different cultures.

While claiming to promote individual freedom and respect for the rights of each person, the document said, those who see gender as a personal choice or discovery unconnected to biological sex are, in fact, promoting a vision of the human person that is "opposed to faith and right reason."

"The Christian vision of anthropology sees sexuality as a fundamental component of one's personhood," the document said. "It is one of its modes of being, of manifesting itself, communicating with others, and of feeling, expressing and living human love."

The document insisted that modern gender ideology and the idea that one chooses or discovers his or her gender go against nature by arguing that "the only thing that matters in personal relationships is the affection between the individuals involved, irrespective of sexual difference or procreation, which would be seen as irrelevant in the formation of families."

The theories, it said, deny "the reciprocity and complementarity of male-female relations" as well as "the procreative end of sexuality."

"This has led to calls for public recognition of the right to choose one's gender, and of a plurality of new types of unions, in direct contradiction of the model of marriage as being between one man and one woman, which is portrayed as a vestige of patriarchal societies," it said.

When the "physiological complementarity of male-female sexual difference" is removed, it said, procreation is no longer a natural process. Instead, recourse must be taken to in vitro fertilization or surrogacy with the risk of "the reduction of the baby to an object in the hands of science and technology."

The education congregation insisted that "Catholic educators need to be sufficiently prepared regarding the intricacies of the various questions that gender theory brings up and be fully informed about both current and proposed legislation in their respective jurisdictions, aided by persons who are qualified in this area, in a way that is balanced and dialogue-orientated."

 

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Holy Spirit 'brings order to our frenzy,' pope says

Mon, 06/10/2019 - 10:33am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Reuters

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In a world of conflict and division and a culture of insult, people need to live filled with the Holy Spirit, who is the only one capable of bringing harmony and unity to diversity, Pope Francis said.

"Those who live by the Spirit ... bring peace where there is discord, concord where there is conflict," he said during a Pentecost Mass in St. Peter's Square.

"Those who are spiritual repay evil with good. They respond to arrogance with meekness, to malice with goodness, to shouting with silence, to gossip with prayer, to defeatism" with a smile, he said during his homily at the Mass June 9.

"In today's world, lack of harmony has led to stark divisions. There are those who have too much and those who have nothing, those who want to live to be 100 years old and those who cannot even be born," and there are those who, the more they use social media, the less social they become, he said.

"We need the Spirit of unity to regenerate us as church, as God's people and as a human family," he said.

"There is always a temptation to build 'nests,' to cling to our little group, to the things and people we like, to resist all contamination. It is only a small step from a nest to a sect: How many times do we define our identity in opposition to someone or something," the pope said.

It has become "fashionable" to hurl "adjectives" and insults at people in what has become "a culture of adjectives," which forgets the person or thing beneath the surface and responds to differing opinions with insults, he said.

"Later we realize that this is harmful, to those insulted but also to those who insult. Repaying evil for evil, passing from victims to aggressors, is no way to go through life," he added.

With today's "frenzied pace of life," he said, people are pulled in too many directions, running the risk of "nervous exhaustion" and reacting badly to everything.

"We then look for the quick fix, popping one pill after another to keep going, one thrill after another to feel alive."

"But more than anything else, we need the Spirit: He brings order to our frenzy. The Spirit is peace in the midst of restlessness, confidence in the midst of discouragement, joy in sadness, youth in aging, courage in the hour of trial. Amid the stormy currents of life, he lowers the anchor of hope," he said.

The Holy Spirit doesn't make life easier, nor does he sweep every problem or hardship away. He makes Jesus live in those hearts that open up to him, "raising us up from within," and makes people realize "that we are beloved children" of a tender, loving God.

"Filled with his peace, our hearts are like a deep sea, which remains peaceful, even when its surface is swept by waves. It is a harmony so profound that it can even turn persecutions into blessings," the pope said.

The Holy Spirit is a "specialist in creating diversity, richness" while also bringing harmony and unity to this diversity; "Only he can do these two things."

On June 8, the vigil of Pentecost, Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St. Peter's Basilica with the faithful of the Diocese of Rome.

He asked that people open their hearts and listen to the cries of others.

"To be able to hear the cry of the city of Rome, we too need the Lord to take us by the hand and make us 'descend,' come down from our positions" or pedestals and be with the people to hear their cry for salvation -- a cry the Lord hears, "but we usually don't."

"It is not about explaining things" in an academic and intellectual or political and ideological manner, he added, saying it upset him "when I see a church that believes it is faithful to the Lord by renewing itself when it seeks purely functional paths, paths that do not come from the Spirit of God."

A church that cannot "come down" from above and have its eyes, ears and heart open among the people is not being guided by the Holy Spirit, he said.

The Spirit turns things upside down, not to make people start over from the very beginning, but to take up a new path, a new way of seeing, hearing and living, he said.

People are asked to look for God's plan and serve him by serving others, he said.

 

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Bishops urged to pass 'effective' policies on accountability, transparency

Sat, 06/08/2019 - 1:17pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Julie Asher

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- When the bishops gather in Baltimore starting June 11, Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, Missouri, said he's "hopeful we will have some progress made in moving the football" on the church's response to the abuse crisis by approving several proposals to hold the bishops accountable.

"I think the recent new norms from Holy Father will make it more possible, but I am waiting to see and I will be fully involved in the debate," he told Catholic News Service June 7.

The centerpiece of the bishops' agenda will be four action items dealing with the investigation of abuse claims against bishops themselves or accusations they have been negligent in handling or covering up cases of wayward priests and other church workers.

These proposals were before the bishops at the fall general assembly last November, but the Vatican requested they delay action on them until after the Vatican held a February meeting for presidents of bishops' conferences worldwide to discuss the abuse crisis.

The norms Bishop McKnight referenced are contained in Pope Francis' "motu proprio," released May 9 and in effect as of June 1. The document, titled "Vos estis lux mundi" ("You are the light of the world"), is a new universal law from the pope to safeguard its members from abuse and hold its leaders accountable. It governs complaints against clergy or church leaders regarding the sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable persons. The U.S. bishops will vote on directives for implementing this church law.

The full texts of the pope's "motu proprio" and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," as well as the new reforms to be discussed in Baltimore, are available on a new website the USCCB launched June 7: www.usccbprevention.org.

The pope's new juridical instrument calls for a "public, stable and easily accessible" reporting system for allegations; clear standards for the pastoral support of victims and their families; timeliness and thoroughness of investigations; whistleblower protection for those making allegations; and the use of "proven experts from among the laity"; and the oversight of the metropolitan (archbishop) for such investigations in his province. The U.S. Catholic Church has 32 metropolitans.

Under each archdiocese are dioceses, also called suffragan sees, for which a metropolitan is responsible.

"For me the critical element in the effort to respond to the crisis is the necessity of lay involvement," Bishop McKnight told CNS. "I am grateful the document allows for the metropolitan to use lay experts."

Just as dioceses have a lay board to assess allegations against priests and other church workers, the same lay-led review is needed for bishops for two reasons, Bishop McKnight said. "First, for transparency to build credibility in the process so people know it is not just miters and collars but mothers and fathers (looking at these allegations) as well."

"Second, as a bishop myself, if there was ever a false allegation made against me, I would want an independent lay assessment of the investigation to build credibility (in the finding) that the claim is not credible."

Two other prelates interviewed by CNS ahead of the bishops' spring assembly, Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger of Tucson, Arizona, and Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland, Oregon, also strongly emphasized the need for lay involvement in reviewing claims against bishops.

"I cannot imagine there not being a majority of lay involvement," Bishop Weisenburger said June 7. "The current model of diocesan review boards owes a substantial part of their success to the fact that they are lay-led and lay-driven. That fact is not lost on any bishop."

In the Tucson Diocese, "we have had tremendous success in working with our Diocesan Review Board," he noted.

"I feel certain that my brother bishops will strive to create regional lists of experts that are composed in majority of lay experts in the fields of law, law enforcement, psychology, education, canon law and social work," Bishop Weisenburger added.

Said Archbishop Sample: "Clearly the cry for more lay involvement is not just among laity but priests and bishops (too). ... For my part, I will do everything I can -- and I am just one bishop among many -- to ensure that there will be an adequate role for the laity to be involved in these investigations within these church processes. The 'motu proprio' certainly opens the door (to this)."

"Quite honestly I hope this is one of the areas we can strengthen. ... I hope we will be able to enshrine within our own (structures) an active and significant role for the laity," he said.

Going into the assembly, "my hopes and expectations are optimistic," the archbishop added, "I wouldn't say super-high but I'm very optimistic the bishops will be able to complete next week what we tried to begin at our November meeting in light of the new 'motu proprio,' (which is) further guidance on what we should be doing to take responsibility for this crisis in the church and respond to it."

"I hope that there will be some good modifications and amendments to the documents" he said, to strengthen them especially with regard to "transparency and accountability, the two words that resonate most with me right now going into this meeting."

The bishops must have effective protocols that enable them to hold each accountable, which is "really what Christ asks of us as shepherds of the church," Archbishop Sample said. "We also need accountability before the people of God."

As for the proposal for metropolitan oversight, the archbishop said that as metropolitan himself, he takes this charge "extremely seriously."

"I think the Holy Father's intention in the 'motu proprio' he issued is that the church use her own structures which are already in place to really address these issues in a significant way, and the role of the metropolitan archbishops is a grave responsibility," he said.

Since the November meeting, when the metropolitan "option" surfaced, "I've given it a lot of reflection and I'm overwhelmed a little bit to receive this responsibility ... and I pledge that I will do everything I can do to ensure there is full accountability in my realm of influence," Archbishop Sample said.

"To the eyes of some it looks like the bishops are investigating themselves again and that this is what has gotten us into this mess in the first place," he remarked.

However, it is important for people "to know and understand" that "using the church's own structures is what the Holy Father intends," he explained, and the church's way of dealing with allegations -- "within the church law and structures" -- is carried out "without any prejudice" to civil authorities doing their own investigation.

"Both of these tracks have to run parallel, because in the end the church still has to deal with the status" of its own members, he said. "We need our own structure to deal with them" but this does not "hamper" what civil authorities must do on these abuse cases.

Bishop Weisenburger called the metropolitan option "an excellent model."

"On the one hand it's true to our history, who we are as a hierarchic church," he said. "On the other hand, it's a somewhat new adaptation which I think will allow general principles of investigation to be applied in a healthy local manner. The time limits related to the various steps are especially helpful as it prevents a critical investigation from being delayed."

When he looks at his region, whose metropolitan is the archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico, he said: "I trust that we have a wealth of experts who could come together and undertake an investigation in a timely and professional manner. I think something good for the church is unfolding before us."

Last fall, when the Vatican asked the bishops' to postpone voting on these critical abuse protocols, many felt the church was just stalling on the need to address issues of the hierarchy's accountability, but Bishop Weisenburger feels "the November delay proved beneficial."

"There was tremendous pressure for the bishops to create an immediate response to the situation -- I felt that pressure myself -- but in retrospect I'm not sure we make the best decisions when we move that fast," he told CNS. "I think the Vatican summit helped clarify some of the critical issues. I now think it's time for the U.S. bishops to come to a consensus on a procedure that can be undertaken easily when a report needs to be made about an allegation against a bishop."

Bishop McKnight told CNS the laity in his diocese have given him "a consistent message" about the abuse scandal in listening sessions he has held, both this spring in preparation for his "ad limina" report to Rome and last fall ahead of the bishops' November meeting: That message is to "get it all out now," rather than this piecemeal approach to revelations about abuse, past or present.

One of his big questions about the McCarrick scandal, he said, is why haven't members of the hierarchy "who were knowledgeable and complicit in his promotion" just come forward on their own and take responsibility?

"This does not require an investigation or special adjustment of canon law," Bishop McKnight said. "I understand and feel the frustration of the laity."

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Follow Asher on Twitter: @jlasher

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Bishops take another try at addressing abuse, accountability among their own

Fri, 06/07/2019 - 2:24pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Greg Erlandson

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- When the bishops gather in Baltimore June 11-14, their meeting will be anything but pro forma.

Instead, they will have some major decisions to make that may determine how quickly they are able to rebuild trust with their fellow Catholics following a series of recent exposes, allegations and scandals regarding bishops themselves.

"This is going to be a working meeting," said one observer, implying the likelihood of vigorous discussion and debate as the bishops seek to approve a series of proposals dealing with the investigation of abuse or cover-up of abuse by bishops.

The attention of the bishops and the dozens of news media who will be following the proceedings will be focused on four action items.

The most important of these, and perhaps the one most likely to be debated, concerns the directives for the implementation of the recent "motu proprio," or church law, issued by Pope Francis and governing complaints directed against clergy or church leaders regarding the sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable persons.

The "motu proprio," known by its Latin title "Vos estis lux mundi" ("You are the light of the world"), grew out of the extraordinary gathering of the presidents of the world's bishops' conferences Feb. 21-24 in Rome. The "motu proprio" modified existing church law to bolster laws regarding clergy sexual abuse, including protection for whistleblowers and condemnation of any sort of cover-ups of such abuse.

While many of the directives of the "motu proprio" regarding clergy have already been implemented in the United States with its 2002 "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People," the action items before the bishops concern allegations of abuse or negligence on the part of bishops. Bishops were not explicitly included in the charter because authority over the bishops and their discipline rests with the pope himself.

The new laws promulgated by Pope Francis, however, calls for a "public, stable and easily accessible" reporting system for such allegations, the use of "proven experts from among the laity" to investigate such allegations, and the oversight of the metropolitan (another term for archbishop) to direct such investigations in his province.

At the November meeting of the U.S. bishops, reforms regarding the investigation of bishops were discussed but not voted on at the request of the Vatican. One subject of debate and discussion at that meeting concerned some sort of "special commission" that would be an independent means to receive and investigate allegations made against bishops.

The "motu proprio" issued by Pope Francis last month makes clear, however, that the primary responsibility for any such investigation lies with the metropolitan archbishop for the province, who in turn reports his findings to the pope. In the case of a metropolitan being accused, the responsibility falls to the senior bishop in that province.

An example of this most recently was Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori's investigation of allegations of sexual and financial improprieties made against Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, former bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia. Archbishop Lori was the responsible metropolitan who in turn brought in a team of five experts to conduct a five-month-long investigation, ultimately affirming that the allegations were credible and passing along the results of the investigation to the Vatican.

This investigation was begun prior to the issuance of the "motu proprio," but it was in some ways a textbook case of how such an investigation is to be handled.

However, a subsequent report by The Washington Post, which received copies of the final report, an earlier draft of the report and other documentation by an unnamed source, also points out the limitations of the metropolitan option. According to the documents received by the Post, the final report edited out the names of prelates who had received financial gifts from Bishop Bransfield, including Archbishop Lori.

After the Post story, a spokesman for Archbishop Lori said his thought was that identifying the individuals who received the gifts was a "distraction."

In hindsight, his spokesman explained, the archbishop can see how not sharing this information could be seen as protecting those whose judgment could have been compromised by such gifts. Archbishop Lori subsequently forwarded the names to the Holy See.

While the "motu proprio" directs a metropolitan who has a conflict of interest to recuse himself, the incident has raised long-standing concerns about "bishops investigating bishops."

The challenge for the U.S. bishops next week will be to find a way to convince themselves and their people that there are enough safeguards in the document to ensure that justice will be done in a relatively open and transparent manner.

In the case of Archbishop Lori, who already instituted many of the reforms to be discussed in his archdiocese last January, he established a third-party reporting system in which allegations against any bishop in his archdiocese are first reviewed by two retired judges. They in turn determine whether the allegations appear to warrant further investigation and whether civil as well as church authorities should be notified.

How to implement safeguards on a national level that will apply to all 32 metropolitans, that will conform to the intentions of the pope's "motu proprio" and that will provide some sort of assurance that the bishops are serious about policing their own is the challenge they will face in Baltimore.

In addition to the directive for implementation of the "motu proprio", the bishops also will vote on a document entitled "Acknowledging Our Episcopal Commitments." The document acknowledges the outrage of Catholics over reported failings by bishops. The bishops promise to hold themselves accountable to the commitments of the Charter, which affirms a zero-tolerance policy, and that any codes of conduct in their respective dioceses regarding clergy apply to themselves as well.

It also promises an "independent, third-party entity" through which reports of sexual misconduct with a child or an adult by any cleric, including a bishop, can be reported.

A third, and relatively uncontroversial, proposal to be voted on is a "protocol regarding available non-penal restrictions on bishops." This outlines what canonical options are available to bishops when a now-retired bishop resigned or is removed "due to sexual misconduct with adults or grave negligence of office, or where subsequent to his resignation he was found to have so acted or failed to act."

At the November meeting when this protocol was first discussed, at least two bishops -- Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis and Bishop Steven R. Biegler of Cheyenne, Wyoming -- spoke of challenges they faced regarding the status of their predecessors. The protocol outlines a series of options allowing the current bishop to restrict the activities of the retired bishop. The current bishop will also make any reports required to law enforcement.

The most striking element of the protocol is that the president of the bishops' conference would now have the authority to ban a bishop who was retired due to misconduct or negligence from attending any plenary assembly or serve on any body of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The bishops also will discuss a fourth proposal, which will define what an independent third-party reporting system will look like, how it will function in terms of notifying the metropolitan, and who will maintain it.

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Follow Erlandson on Twitter: @GregErlandson

 

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Toronto Raptors' player took a shot at priesthood training

Thu, 06/06/2019 - 4:20pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Gregory Shamus-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- When Pascal Siakam was in his young teens attending a minor seminary in Cameroon -- and mostly playing soccer in his free time -- he likely never imagined he'd be playing in the NBA Finals.

Studying for the priesthood, it turned out, was more of his father's idea, and not a personal calling for the now-25-year-old forward for the Toronto Raptors, who are playing in their first Finals against the Golden State Warriors.

The 6-foot-9 player, drafted by the Raptors in 2016, also is a possible candidate for the NBA's Most Improved Player award. He made just one 3-point shot in his first season; he now averages one 3-point shot made per game.

During his late teens, Siakam joined his friends for two summers at a basketball camp run by Cameroon player Luc Mbah a Moute, an NBA player who most recently played for the Los Angeles Clippers. Through the camp, Siakam was picked to attend Basketball Without Borders - an outreach program run by the NBA and FIBA, the International Basketball Federation -- in Johannesburg, where he was discovered.

After graduating from the minor seminary, Siakam pursued a personal calling, attending a Texas prep school for a year and then New Mexico State University before joining the NBA.

In 2017, ESPN writer Jackie MacMullan went to Cameroon to visit Siakam's hometown of Douala and St. Andrews Seminary in Bafia for a feature story.

She interviewed the seminary's director, Msgr. Armel Collins Ndjama, who said through an interpreter that he knew early on that Pascal's father had a vision "and Pascal was not sharing it."

"I knew we would probably not be able to train him to be a priest, but I still hoped we could teach him to be a man," the priest added.

Siakam similarly agreed that he did not think he had a vocation to the priesthood, but he also didn't want to go against his father. "There isn't a better man I've known in my life," he told ESPN about his dad, who died before Siakam's first college game after complications following a car accident.

Two months after the interview, the seminary director was found dead in his office and then one month after that, the local bishop, Bishop Jean-Marie Benoit Bala of Bafia, also was found dead, the remains of his body pulled from a river June 2, 2017.

A Catholic News Service report about the apparent murders said a local priest had told the online Camernews agency that the bishop had appeared "very preoccupied and full of suffering" a few weeks before his death and was "totally devastated" by the unexplained death of the seminary director.

Catholic communities in Cameroon had been under increasing attacks by cross-border insurgents from the Nigeria-based Boko Haram insurgents, which allied itself with Islamic State in March 2015. The insurgents also had killed hundreds of police, army troops and civilians in Cameroon's Extreme North province.

At the time of the ESPN interview, Msgr. Ndjama said he was not surprised by the success of his former student, who was wrapping up his rookie season in the NBA.

"When Pascal put his mind to it, he was capable of most anything,'' he said.

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim

 

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Cardinal Pell returns to prison to await ruling on appeal

Thu, 06/06/2019 - 10:52am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By

MELBOURNE, Australia (CNS) -- Cardinal George Pell was taken back to prison June 6 at the end of a two-day hearing on his appeal of his conviction on five counts of child sexual abuse.

A three-judge panel from the Appeals Division of the Supreme Court of Victoria said it would announce its judgment at a later date, giving no indication of when that would be.

Legal counsel for Cardinal Pell, who will celebrate his 78th birthday June 8 and is a former key adviser to Pope Francis, argued before the judges that: The conviction was "unreasonable" given the evidence presented at trial; the defense should have been able to show an animated video demonstrating how the cardinal could not have been where the victim said he was; and that the cardinal should have been allowed to stand before the jury and enter his plea of not guilty.

Cardinal Pell attended the two-day hearing June 5-6 wearing his clerical collar, which he had not worn at his sentencing hearing in March. Then, he received a six-and-a-half-year sentence after being found guilty in a December 2018 trial of sexually assaulting two choirboys at St. Patrick's Cathedral in 1996.

The cardinal took notes during the livestreamed hearing and looked relaxed, reporters in the courtroom noted. Cameras were trained only on the bench during the hearing.

Cardinal Pell was accompanied in the courtroom by his close friend, Chris Meaney, business manager for the Archdiocese of Sydney, his niece and several others.

On the first day of the hearing, Pell's attorney, Bret Walker, argued that there were 13 reasons why it was improbable that Cardinal Pell, then archbishop of Melbourne, had assaulted the boys after presiding over Sunday Mass in the cathedral; a few weeks later he assaulted one of the boys a second time, according to court testimony.

On the second day, prosecuting attorney Christopher Boyce appeared to struggle with questions from three justices presiding over the hearing. But in its written submission the prosecution said: "When looking at the whole of the evidence, the integrity of the jury's verdicts is unimpeachable.

"The jury were entitled to accept the complainant as a reliable and credible witness," the submission stated. "He was skillfully cross-examined for two days by a very experienced member of senior counsel. The complainant's allegations were not improbable when all of the evidence is carefully considered."

The jury that convicted Cardinal Pell in December was the second to hear the case. The first trial ended in September without a verdict because of a hung jury. The cardinal's plea of not guilty, video-recorded at the first trial, was played for the jury at the second trail.

At the appeals hearing, the prosecution argued that the surviving victim's testimony was credible and that the decision of the jury should be respected.

In addition to the arguments presented at the appeals hearing, the three-judge panel can review the trial transcripts and video.

Whatever the panel decides, both the prosecution and the defense can appeal their ruling to the High Court of Australia.

Pell was being incarcerated in Melbourne Assessment Prison, where he has been held since his March sentencing in solitary confinement because of the nature of his crimes and his high profile in Australia. If his appeal fails, he is expected to be transferred to another prison.

The Vatican is conducting its own investigation of the cardinal.

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Contributing to this report was Michael Sainsbury in Melbourne and Cindy Wooden in Rome.

 

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Non-news nuggets: Papal news conferences yield little tidbits, too

Thu, 06/06/2019 - 10:08am

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis' inflight news conferences are arguably less newsy than when his pontificate began, mostly because he has been insisting the past few years that most of the questions refer to the trip that is concluding.

But, looking back over the news conferences just this year, there are tidbits that reveal things about Pope Francis. They did not make the "news," but they are included in the transcripts, which the Vatican posts online.

For instance, not even touching the debate about citizenship based on place of birth vs. parentage, Pope Francis told reporters traveling back from Romania with him June 2 that as the child and grandchild of Italian immigrants, he qualified for an Italian passport.

"My brothers and sisters all had citizenship," the pope said. "I didn't want to have it because at the time they acquired it I was a bishop and I thought, 'No, the bishop must be of the country,' so I didn't want to get it, which is why I don't have it."

Italian journalists frequently ask the pope questions related to Italian politics, and while he said, "my blood is Italian," he also repeated what he often tells them, "I don't understand Italian politics."

Pope Francis had told reporters at the beginning of his pontificate in 2013 that he did not expect to travel much. But, a little over six years into his papal ministry, he has made 30 trips outside of Italy.

And just in the first six months of 2019, he has made five trips, traveling 22,891 miles (according to the Vatican) and spending 13 days, 17 hours and five minutes on travels abroad.

Journalists try on every trip to ask questions about neuralgic issues in the life of the church or church-state relations. But beginning with the news conference Dec. 2, 2017, at the end of his trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh, Pope Francis has been increasingly insistent that most of the questions focus on the trip.

"I would like some more (questions) about the trip because otherwise it would seem as if it hadn't been very interesting, wouldn't it?" he asked reporters flying back to Rome with him from Bangladesh.

Accepting only trip-related questions is no guarantee that the pope can avoid tough questions. For instance, the trip after Myanmar and Bangladesh was to Chile and Peru in January 2018. All of the questions during the news conference were related to the trip and fully half of the queries were about the clerical sex abuse scandal.

When the questions are not trip related, sometimes Pope Francis responds, but other times he'll do a general call for "any other questions about the trip?" first.

Or, he'll do his own summary of trip highlights, while reporters take notes and nervously tap their feet waiting for him to get to their questions.

The flights back to Rome are almost always in the evening after a very long day or days for both Pope Francis and the reporters. On flights longer than four or five hours, the pope will spend anywhere from 45 minutes to 90 minutes taking questions. But on the shorter flights, he is with the media for about 30 minutes and may take only four or five questions.

In every pontificate, as time goes on, the popes start repeating themselves and Pope Francis is no different: on gossip, on bridges instead of walls, on the importance of relations between young people and their grandparents, on dialogue as an outstretched hand.

He makes those points in talking to reporters and in speeches and homilies.

A fair percentage of the formal speeches he makes are at least based on drafts written by staff members. Sometimes he sets the drafts aside, sometimes he adds to them and sometimes he reworks them completely.

But a good hint that someone else was involved in the speech's preparation is a direct quote from the pope himself, complete with the name of the document and paragraph number or the occasion of the speech and the date.

However, the pope remembers what he has said, especially in major speeches.

So, when asked on the flight back from Romania June 2 about European unity, the pope basically referred the questioner to three in-depth speeches he had given on the subject in the past.

But he prefaced his remarks by saying, "Forgive me for citing myself; I do it without vanity only for its usefulness."

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Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden

 

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In recalling soldiers' D-Day sacrifice, archbishop prays for world peace

Wed, 06/05/2019 - 5:35pm

IMAGE: CNS photo/Pascal Rossignol, Reuters

By Elizabeth Bachmann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In remembering the estimated 4,400 Allied troops who died storming the beaches of Normandy, France, 75 years ago on D-Day, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services said that "Jesus Christ reminds us there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends."

"At this time, in particular, we express deep gratitude for those who laid down their lives on D-Day," he said in a statement June 4.

Archbishop Broglio planned to travel again to France for the 75th anniversary of the Normandy invasion to commemorate and give thanks for the lives lost on the beaches of Normandy, in Europe and in the Pacific. The German casualties on D-Day were between 4,000 and 9,000.

"We ask God that their sacrifice not be in vain," Archbishop Broglio said. "We beg him to transform our power to turn war into a force for peace, to transform our weapons into plowshares, to give us the ability to negotiate, to talk and to listen."

In 2015, he journeyed to Normandy to commemorate the sad day and to help dedicate a monument on Utah Beach depicting three American GIs emerging from a Higgins boat. The Higgins boat was designed by Andrew Jackson Higgins to facilitate easy landing on beaches and in marshes, and was used extensively in the D-Day operations.

The archbishop remembered the boat's designers, those who "labored with vision to accomplish a goal, the liberation of peoples, their brothers and sisters in human society."

While in Normandy, Broglio also attended a commemoration for fallen Danish troops and celebrated Mass on the feast of Corpus Christi, during which he prayed for world peace.

At that time, he said he "was struck by the number of French men and women who came up to me and said: 'We will never forget what your countrymen did here.'"

Archbishop Broglio reminded the nation, too, to remember the sacrifices of American servicemen, as well as those of every soldier and civilian who lost life or loved ones.

For this year's commemoration, Archbishop Broglio prayed that Catholics and all Americans will "remain vigilant against the forces of evil in our troubled world, and to pour our energies into building lasting peace and justice among nations."

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