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Vatican, al-Azhar focus on papal trip speeches in latest meeting

Thu, 07/06/2017 - 02:20

Vatican City, Jul 5, 2017 / 02:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In the wake of Pope Francis' whirlwind visit to Egypt, the Vatican and the prestigious Muslim al-Azhar University have held another meeting, focusing on the landmark speeches given during the Pope's visit.

The meeting, which took place July 3 at the apostolic nunciature in Egypt, was arranged by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the al-Azhar Center for Dialogue (CAD).

It fell two months after Pope Francis' April 28-29 visit to Cairo, visit to Cairo, the result of a recent thawing in relations between the Vatican and the university, which had been strained since 2011.

According to a July 4 Vatican communique, the meeting focused primarily on the speeches of both Pope Francis and the Grad Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed Muhammad al-Tayyib, during the Pope's visit.

Specifically, “the joint commitment to continue shared reflections, aimed at promoting a fruitful and effective interreligious dialogue was expressed, focusing in particular on the promotion of peace and the building of a more just world.”

Hailed as one of the most important speeches he's given so far in his time as Bishop of Rome, the Pope's opening address to the International Conference on Peace, his first speech of the trip, issued harsh condemnation of religiously-motivated violence and a strong call for it's rejection in the global sphere.

In the April 28 address, Francis said that “peace alone is holy and no act of violence can be perpetrated in the name of God, for it would profane his Name.”

“Together, in the land where heaven and earth meet, this land of covenants between peoples and believers, let us say once more a firm and clear 'No!' to every form of violence, vengeance and hatred carried out in the name of religion or in the name of God,” he said.

Going on, the Pope said we have “an obligation to denounce violations of human dignity and human rights, to expose attempts to justify every form of hatred in the name of religion, and to condemn these attempts as idolatrous caricatures of God.”

Violence and faith, belief and hatred, are incompatible, he said, and asked participants to join him in this affirmation: “together let us declare the sacredness of every human life against every form of violence, whether physical, social, educational or psychological,” he said, as the auditorium erupted in thunderous applause.

Likewise,  al-Tayyib, who in his role as Grand Imam of al-Azhar is widely considered to be the highest authority in the 1.5-billion strong Sunni Muslim world, said in his speech that humanity ought to “stress the value of peace, justice, equality and human rights regardless of religion, color, race, or language.”

“We need to liberate the image of religions from false concepts, misunderstandings, malpractices, and false religiosity attached to them. These evils bestir conflicts, spread hate, and instigate violence,” he said, adding that “we should not hold religion accountable for the crimes of any small group of followers.”

He thanked the Pope for his “defense of Islam against the accusation of violence and terrorism,” and voiced his commitment to working together to establish peaceful coexistence and strengthen dialogue.

While many scholars are hesitant at to accept such messages from al-Azhar, claiming there is still a large discrepancy between what is said and what is taught in their curriculum, the restoration of ties with the Vatican is generally seen as a step in the right direction.

This most recent meeting between the Vatican and al-Azhar is the latest step in developing this dialogue.

It was attended by various representatives from both the Holy See and the Islamic university, including, on behalf of al-Azhar, Sheikh Prof. Mohey al-Din Afifi Ahmed, Secretary General of the Academy of Islamic Research of al-Azhar and Coordinator of dialogue at the CAD, and Dr. Kamal Boraiqa Abdelsalam, a member of the center.

The Vatican delegation included Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, secretary of the council for interreligious dialogue; Msgr. Khaled Akasheh, head of the dicastery's Office for Islam; and Fr. Jean Druel O.P., Director of the Dominican Institute of Oriental Studies in Cairo.

Colombia-native named next Bishop of Raleigh

Wed, 07/05/2017 - 19:54

Vatican City, Jul 5, 2017 / 07:54 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday the Vatican announced Pope Francis's appointment of Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama Pasqualetto, a native of Colombia, as the next bishop of the Diocese of Raleigh.

Currently an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Bishop Zamara, 58, will replace Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, who was transferred to the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia in October of last year and installed on Dec. 6, 2016.

In a statement on the appointment of Bishop Zarama, announced July 5, Bishop Burbidge said he gives thanks to God for the appointment.

"I am proud to call him a brother bishop and good friend. Bishop Zarama is a holy, faithful and joyful bishop known and respected for his pastoral skills, administrative abilities, zeal and kindness.”

"I have assured Bishop Zarama that he will be truly blessed with the support of such good priests, consecrated religious, deacons, seminarians, colleagues and lay faithful in the Diocese of Raleigh.”

“I promised Bishop Zarama that he and the Diocese of Raleigh will remain in my daily prayers at this joyful and historic moment and always,” he concluded.

The Archbishop of Atlanta, Wilton D. Gregory, said in a statement July 5 that the Pope's appointment is also an honor for Atlanta.

“How fortunate that the local Church is to receive such a devoted and generous servant minister,” he said. “The Holy Father has chosen well even though his decision takes a deeply beloved brother and friend from our midst.”

Bishop Zarama was born in Pasto, Colombia on Nov. 28, 1958. He graduated from the Marian University in Pasto with a degree in philosophy and theology. He also attended the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, receiving a degree in Canon Law in 1991.

He was a philosophy and theology professor at the Carmelite School, the Learning School and the Colombia Military School for 11 years.

In 1993, he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Atlanta and was the first Hispanic priest to be named pastor at the parishes of St. Mark in Clarksville and St. Helena Mission in Clayton. He became a United States citizen in 2004.

In April 2006 Bishop Zarama was named Vicar General of the Archdiocese. He received the title of monsignor from Pope Benedict XVI on March 7, 2007.

He has served as the Judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese's Metropolitan Tribunal since 2008, and is also a member of the Archdiocesan Personnel Review Board.

On July 27, 2009 Pope Benedict XVI named him Titular Bishop of Bararus and Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta. He was ordained a bishop on Sept. 29, 2009.

His Mass of Installation at Raleigh will be on August 29th.

Bishop Gregory said that he joins “Bishop-Elect Shlesinger and all of the clergy, religious, and faithful of The Archdiocese of Atlanta in assuring Bishop Zarama of our prayers and warmest best wishes as he begins this new service to Christ’s Church.”

“While we will have time to celebrate his appointment to The Diocese of Raleigh before he takes leave for his August 29th installation, we promise him our affectionate best wishes and congratulations on this happy moment for him and for all of God’s People in the Diocese of Raleigh.”

Charlie Gard will not be transferred to Vatican Hospital

Wed, 07/05/2017 - 03:22

Vatican City, Jul 4, 2017 / 03:22 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The London hospital where Charlie Gard is living his last days has refused a transfer request from the Pediatric hospital Bambino Gesu in Rome for legal reasons.
“This is sad news," said Mariella Enoc, President Bambino Gesu, often referred to as the "Pope's Hospital." The hospital had offered on Monday to transfer Charlie to their facilities from Great Ormond Street Hospital in London (UK), where the child and his family are currently staying.
London and and European courts have ruled that Charlie must be pulled from life support and that he will not be allowed to die at home.
Charlie Gard is a 10-month old suffering a rare, terminal, genetic illness. His parents have lost several legal battles in the fight to prolong the life of their son, including a request to send him to the United States for experimental treatment.  
Enoc told Italian media on July 4 that he had offered the transfer after being contacted by Charlie’s mother, Connie Yates.
He added that he wanted to offer the family his support especially because of the Pope’s backing of the family.
On Sunday, July 2, the Holy See Press Office director Greg Burke issued a statement in which Pope Francis called for respect for the will of Charlie Gard's parents.
“The Holy Father follows with affection and emotion the story of Charlie Gard and expresses his own closeness to his parents,” read a July 2 statement issued by Vatican spokesman Greg Burke.
“He prays for them, wishing that their desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end will be respected.”
On June 30, the day the Charlie’s life support was initially scheduled to be disconnected, the Pope also used his Twitter account to send a clear pro-life message in the infant's favor.
The hospital in London agreed to allow Charlie’s life support to continue for a few more days, to allow the family more time with their son.


Pope Francis: World hunger is a result of indifference and selfishness

Tue, 07/04/2017 - 21:42

Vatican City, Jul 4, 2017 / 09:42 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Monday Pope Francis said that while hunger and undernourishment around the world can be an unsettling thing to confront, we must use this to remind us how these situations are caused – which is through indifference and selfishness.

“A glance at the current world situation does not offer us a comforting picture. Yet we cannot remain merely preoccupied or, worse, resigned,” he wrote July 3.

“This moment of evident difficulty must make us even more conscious that hunger and malnutrition are not only natural or structural phenomena in determined geographical areas, but the result of a more complex condition of underdevelopment caused by the indifference of many or the selfishness of a few.”

It is concrete decisions, he said, that lead to devastating consequences such as war and terrorism. “We are dealing with a complex mechanism that mainly burdens the most vulnerable, who are not only excluded from the processes of production, but frequently obliged to leave their lands in search of refuge and hope.”

Pope Francis sent his message July 3 for the opening session of the 40th General Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO). It was read by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, in the Pope’s place.

In the opening Francis noted his sorrow for not being able to deliver the message of support and encouragement in person. He also sent his “respect and esteem” for the demanding task they must carry out.

The Church accompanies all those committed to working on behalf of the poor and undernourished, the Pope said, adding that the 2030 Development Agenda of the UN reflects this same commitment by stating that the fight for universal food security cannot be put off.

“Yet only an effort inspired by authentic solidarity will be capable of eliminating the great number of persons who are undernourished and deprived of the necessities of life,” he said.

“This is a very great challenge for FAO and for all the Institutions of the international community. It is also a challenge that the Church is committed to on the front lines.”

“The Holy See closely follows the work of the international community and wishes to assist its efforts to promote not mere progress or development goals in theory, but rather the actual elimination of hunger and malnutrition,” he said.

The Pope emphasized that merely the intention to provide everyone with his or her daily bread is not enough. And if our proposed solutions remain distant and not concrete, this is because of a “lack of a culture of solidarity.”

“The commitment of each country to increase its own level of nutrition, to improve agricultural activity and the living conditions of the rural population, is embodied in the encouragement of the agricultural sector, in increased production or in the promotion of an effective distribution of food supplies.”

“Yet this is not enough,” he reiterated. “In effect, what those goals demand is a constant acknowledgment that the right of every person to be free of poverty and hunger depends on the duty of the entire human family to provide practical assistance to those in need.”

To give an example of concrete assistance and to encourage governments, Francis said that he would be making a contribution to the FAO program that provides seeds to rural families in areas affected by both conflict and drought.

When a country is unable to provide an adequate response to the problem of hunger in its own nation, he continued, whether due to underdevelopment, conditions of poverty, or climate change, “FAO and other intergovernmental institutions need to be able to intervene specifically and undertake an adequate solidary action.”

“Since the goods that God the Creator has entrusted to us are meant for all, there is an urgent need for solidarity to be the criterion inspiring all forms of cooperation in international relations,” he said.

Pope Francis donates 50,000 euros to Greek island struck by earthquake

Mon, 07/03/2017 - 23:21

Athens, Greece, Jul 3, 2017 / 11:21 am (Church Pop).- Pope Francis has donated 50 thousand euros to the island of Lesbos, Greece, which is recovering from a June earthquake.

The donation comes just a few days after the Holy Father received a full report on the extent of the damage.

Archbishop Nikolaos Printezis, Bishop of Naxos, Andros, Tinos and Mykonos, said the Pope's donation was a sign of the closeness of the Pontiff to the people who have suffered the consequences of the earthquake.

On June 12, a powerful earthquake measuring 6.3 hit the western coast of Turkey and the Greek island of  Lesbos , killing one person, displacing approximately 800, and destroying  infrastructure from the Turkish Aegean province, Izmir, to the Greek capital, Athens.

The earthquake's epicenter was located about 50 miles northwest of the Turkish coastal city of Smyrna and nine miles south of Lesbos, according to the European Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC).

Pope Francis visited the island of Lesbos in 2016, as it is a main point of entry for thousands of refugees fleeing violence in places such as Iraq and Syria.

During that trip, Pope Francis brought back 12 Syrian refugees with him, selected by lottery, including six children. Their homes had been bombed, and the Vatican oversaw their resettlement.

Currently, there are 3,500 migrants on Lesbos awaiting the outcome of asylum applications or deportation. According to the New York Times, aid workers reported no damage or injuries at the refugee camps due to the earthquake.

In the coming days a Vatican representative will visit Lesbos and deliver the money donated by the Pope.


Pope asks for parents' wishes to be respected in Charlie Gard case

Mon, 07/03/2017 - 01:41

Vatican City, Jul 2, 2017 / 01:41 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Stepping into a tumultuous legal battle involving a UK couple's push for a say in the treatment and death of their terminally ill son, Pope Francis has offered his prayers for the child, and asked that the parents' wishes be respected.

“The Holy Father follows with affection and emotion the story of Charlie Gard and expresses his own closeness to his parents,” read a July 2 statement issued by Vatican spokesman Greg Burke.

“He prays for them, wishing that their desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end will be respected.”

The statement was made as the tense legal battle between Gard's parents and the UK officials regarding how and when he will die comes to an end.

At just 11 months, Gard suffers from a rare degenerative brain disease called infantile onset encephalomyopathic mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome, or MDDS.

With only 16 known cases in the world, the disease causes extensive brain damage. While Charlie Gard does have some brain function, he requires assistance to breathe, has periodic seizures, and is not expected to develop sophisticated mental abilities without treatment.

Gard's parents were able to raise nearly $2 million in order to take him to the United States for an experimental treatment. Some doctors have been skeptical about the results, however, other patients currently undergoing the treatment have shown significant improvement.

But despite having the funds for the treatment, UK courts have ruled against the possibility, arguing that further treatment would cause harm to Gard. In addition, the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that the Great Ormond Street Hospital, where the infant is staying, is not required to keep him on life support.

When his parents asked to take their son home to die, their request was denied. Gard's life support machines were to be turned off Friday, but the courts allowed the parents to have more time with their child before his death.

Pope Francis' statement follows an earlier response to the case from the head of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, who while arguing for the defense of life at all stages, including during illness, appeared sympathetic to the court's ruling, saying “aggressive medical procedures that are disproportionate to any expected results or excessively burdensome to the patient or the family” must be avoided.

Not only did the Pope's statement appear to counter the position previously voiced by Paglia, but on Friday, the day the infant's life support was initially scheduled to be disconnected, he used his Twitter account to send a clear pro-life message in the infant's favor.


To defend human life, above all when it is wounded by illness, is a duty of love that God entrusts to all.

— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) June 30, 2017


Reading “to defend human life, above all when it is wounded by illness, is a duty of love that God entrusts to all,” the tweet was shared by Burke, who added the hashtag “#CharlieGard,” clearly indicating that the Pope's tweet was in reference to the infant.

As Gard's parents continue to spend the remaining time with their son, public debate on the case continues to unfurl, with citizens protesting outside UK parliament. 

Cardinal Müller: there's no problem between me, Pope Francis

Sun, 07/02/2017 - 21:40

Vatican City, Jul 2, 2017 / 09:40 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a brief interview given just hours after hearing that he would no longer be heading the Vatican's doctrine office, Cardinal Gerhard Müller said the decision was normal, and was not the result of conflict between him and Pope Francis.

“There were no differences between me and Pope Francis,” Cardinal Müller told Allgemeine Zeitung, a regional German paper from Mainz.

Müller spoke to the paper while in Mainz for his 50th high school reunion. He traveled to the city Friday after meeting with Pope Francis earlier that morning, receiving the news that his term as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith would not be renewed.

The cardinal, 69, said that while he doesn't know the specifics of why his 5-year term was not extended, the Pope informed him of his desire to move away from trend of renewing curial mandates.

Although it has until now been common for these 5-year terms to be renewed, Müller said that during their meeting, Pope Francis said he wants to progressively move toward a general practice of limiting mandates to just 5 years, “and I happened to be the first one to which this applied.”

“It doesn't matter much to me,” Müller said, adding that “at some point, everyone has to stop.”

Müller was tapped to head the Vatican's doctrine office, the most important dicastery in the Roman Curia, by Benedict XVI before his resignation in 2012. The charge included the positions of president of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei,” the Pontifical Biblical Commission and the International Theological Commission.

Pope Francis renewed Müller's appointment to the CDF and to each of the commissions after his election, allowing the prelate to serve the entirety of his 5-year term in each, which ends July 2.

The Vatican announced July 1 that taking Müller's place will be Jesuit Archbishop Luis Ladaria, who was appointed secretary to the CDF by Benedict XVI in 2008, and is known to be simple, orthodox in his theology, highly intellectual and is described by those who know him as not being a “yes man.”
In his interview with “Allgemeine Zeitung,” Müller simply stated that his 5 year mandate as prefect of the CDF “had now run its course,” and the decision to replace him had nothing to do with conflict that's been painted between he and the Pope.

Nor was it the result of differing opinions on Francis' 2016 post-synodal apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia.” While the two didn't agree on all aspects of the text, the cardinal insisted there was no fight about it.

Despite their disagreements on some points, Müller is known to have been a conservative voice within the Curia, and, contrary to other German prelates, backed more traditional interpretations of Chapter 8 of the document, which touched on the reception of communion for divorced and remarried couples.

However, the cardinal did voice his disappointment in Francis' decision to dismiss three members of his staff a few weeks ago, noting that the officials “were competent people.”
Regarding his new role, Müller said that after ceasing his position as head of the CDF July 3, he will stay at the Vatican.

“I will work academically, continue to serve in my role as cardinal, do pastoral work. There is enough for me to do in Rome,” he said, adding that “in any case, I would normally be a pensioner by now.”

No matter who you are, make Christ your number one, Pope Francis says

Sun, 07/02/2017 - 17:25

Vatican City, Jul 2, 2017 / 05:25 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Sunday, Pope Francis said that everyone – lay or religious – must put their relationship with Jesus above all else; and striving to do this, even imperfectly, will help them to be like Christ to the world.

“People need to perceive that for that disciple Jesus is truly ‘Lord,’ he is truly the center of his life, the whole of his life. It does not matter if, like every human person, he has his limits and even his mistakes – provided he has the humility to recognize them,” the Pope said July 2.

“Any disciple, a layman, a laywoman, a priest, a bishop: a prioritized relationship. Perhaps the first question we need to ask a Christian is: ‘But do you meet with Jesus? Do you pray to Jesus?’ The relationship.”

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square about the importance of a personal relationship with Jesus in the life of a disciple. Before leading the Angelus, he reflected on the day’s reading from the Gospel of Matthew, where Jesus sends his disciples out to be missionaries for the first time.

“In this final part, Jesus emphasizes two essential aspects for the life of the missionary disciple,” Francis said, “the first, that his bond with Jesus is stronger than any other bond; the second, that the missionary does not carry himself alone, but Jesus, and through him the love of the heavenly Father.”

The Pope pointed out that these two aspects of discipleship are intricately linked, because the more a Christian puts Jesus at the center of his heart and his life, the more clearly he radiates the presence of Christ in the world.

In the Gospel, we hear Jesus say: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me…” This isn’t to say these relationships aren’t good, but “the affection of a father, the tenderness of a mother, the sweet friendship between brothers and sisters, all this…cannot be put before Christ,” he emphasized.

And this isn’t because God wants us to be deprived of love and gratitude for our families, he continued, but because the condition of a disciple requires prioritizing our relationship with Jesus above all else.

Doing this, we become Christ’s own representative on earth, his “ambassador,” the Pope said. “To the point that Jesus himself, sending the disciples on a mission, tells them: ‘Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me.’”

But living in the world, there’s a trap we can fall into, he warned, which is the temptation to be hypocrites, what he called having a “double heart.”

“I am a Christian, I am a disciple of Jesus, I am a priest, I am a bishop, but I have a double heart. No, this does not work,” he said. “He should not have a double heart, but a simple, united heart; that he does not hold his foot in two shoes, but is honest with himself and with others. Duplicity is not Christian.”

It is against this that Jesus prays for his disciples that they not fall into the “spirit of the world.”

“Either you are with Jesus, with the spirit of Jesus, or you are with the spirit of the world,” the Pope emphasized.

Speaking to priests, he said that there is something beautiful they are taught through the experience of their vocation, and that is that the more a priest is near to God’s people, the nearer he will feel to Jesus, and the more he is near to Jesus, the closer he will feel to the people of God.

This reciprocity can work for all, however. If you leave everything for Christ, people will recognize Christ in you, he said. And at the same time, this helps you to conform yourself more and more to him, helping you to “purge yourself from compromises and overcome temptations.”

Francis concluded his remarks by asking the Virgin Mary, who has firsthand experience of what it means to love Jesus above all else, to help give us “a new meaning to family ties, starting with faith in Him.”

“With her motherly intercession, she helps us to be free and happy missionaries of the Gospel.”

After leading the Angelus, the Pope pointed out that July 5 is Independence Day in Venezuela. He called for an end to violence and for a peaceful and democratic solution to the current crisis in the country, assuring his prayers for the nation and for those who have lost loved ones.

Asking the intercession of Our Lady of Coromoto, the patroness of Venezuela, he led those present in praying a ‘Hail Mary’ for the country.

Four reasons why this consistory was an unusual one

Sat, 07/01/2017 - 16:35

Vatican City, Jul 1, 2017 / 04:35 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A consistory is a gathering of cardinals, which the Pope can convoke to give solemnity to a particular decision, or simply to ask his “Senate” to counsel him on an important issue. However, the most recent consistory, held June 28, was rather exceptional. Here are four reasons why.

A surprise consistory

The June 28 consistory was a real surprise: when Pope Francis announced it May 21, there had been none of the normal hints that he was going to call for one.

For one thing, there were only a few open “slots” in the College of Cardinals. According to the norm set by Bl. Paul VI and confirmed by St. John Paul II, there can be only 120 cardinals who have voting rights in the event of a conclave to choose the next Pope (the primary responsibility of cardinals).

However, Pope Francis made the decision to create five new cardinals, so following this week’s consistory, there are now 121 cardinals with the right to vote in a future conclave, surpassing the normal limit of 120.

He is not the first Pope to do so. St. John Paul II created 44 cardinals in the Feb. 21, 2001 consistory. This made 135 cardinals with voting rights, a full 15 over the limit set by Paul VI.

A small number of cardinals

Also unusual for a single consistory: Pope Francis created just five cardinals.

Only one of them comes from Europe, while the other four come from countries that have never had a cardinal before: Mali, El Salvador, Sweden, and Laos.

This consistory, to some extent, is similar to the final one convoked by Pope Benedict XVI, which took place Nov. 24, 2012.  During that consistory, Benedict XVI created only six new cardinals, and none of them hailed from Europe: it was the first consistory since 1924 with no Europeans in the list of new cardinals.

In 1977, Pope Paul VI convoked his final consistory, creating only four new cardinals. Among them was Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI.

The visit to the Pope emeritus

Another interesting aspect to this consistory: the newly created cardinals, joined by Pope Francis, paid a visit to the former pontiff, Benedict XVI.

Ever since Pope Francis has convoked consistories, the Pope emeritus has been taken into consideration and had some role in them.

Benedict XVI took part in Pope Francis’ first two consistories for the creation of new cardinals, held Feb. 22, 2013 and Feb. 14, 2014.

Though the Pope emeritus did not take part in the third of Pope Francis’ consistories, held Nov. 19, 2016, the newly created cardinals paid a visit to him in the Mater Ecclesiae monastery where he lives.

This time the new cardinals were accompanied by Pope Francis as they paid a visit to Benedict XVI.

The lack of a pre-consistory meeting for a general discussion

According to the Code of Canon Law, there are two types of consistories: ordinary and extraordinary.

All cardinals are called to take part in extraordinary consistories, which are celebrated only in particular cases. In contrast, ordinary consistories are summoned when the Pope needs the cardinals’ counsel on some issue, or to add solemnity to a decision by the Pope, for example the canonization of saints or the creation of new cardinals.

Sometimes both types of consistories take place consecutively. The first two ordinary consistories convoked by Pope Francis were preceded by extraordinary consistories, as the Pope took advantage of the cardinals’ presence in Rome to discuss important issues.

The Feb. 22, 2014 consistory was preceded by an extraordinary consistory on the issues of the family, while the Feb. 14, 2015 consistory was preceded by an extraordinary consistory to discuss the reform of the Curia.

In contrast, neither this week’s consistory nor the one that took place on Nov. 19, 2016 were preceded by pre-consistory meetings.


Pope names Archbishop Luis Ladaria as Müller's successor to head CDF

Sat, 07/01/2017 - 16:21

Vatican City, Jul 1, 2017 / 04:21 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican announced Saturday that as Cardinal Gerhard Müller’s term as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith comes to an end, the Pope has not renewed it, but has appointed Jesuit Archbishop Luis Ladaria to take his place.

The decision was officially published in a July 1 communique from the Vatican, which stated the Holy Father’s thanks to Cardinal Müller for his term.

July 2nd marks the end of Müller’s five-year mandate as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which included the positions of president of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei,” the Pontifical Biblical Commission and the International Theological Commission.

Pope Francis named Jesuit Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, archbishop of Thibica, as his successor in the same duties. Archbishop Ladaria has been secretary, the second in command, of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 2008.

The Vatican did not specify what Cardinal Müller will be doing next.

Müller was tapped to head the congregation, the most important dicastery in the Roman Curia, by Benedict XVI before his resignation in 2012.

Pope Francis renewed Müller's appointment to the CDF and to each of the commissions after his election, allowing the prelate to serve the entirety of his 5-year term in each, which ends July 2.

Müller is known to have been a conservative voice within the Curia, and, contrary to other German prelates, backed more traditional interpretations of Chapter 8 of Pope Francis' 2016 post-synodal apostolic exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia,” on the reception of communion for divorced and remarried couples, insisting that it does not breach Church teaching.

In addition to the announcement of Archbishop Ladaria as Müller's replacement, the only other appointment announced July 1 was Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, archbishop of Florence, as a member of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

Peter and Paul are the columns on whom the Church rests, Pope recalls

Fri, 06/30/2017 - 00:16

Vatican City, Jun 29, 2017 / 12:16 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Saints Peter and Paul are pillars of the Church and a reminder that God is with us always, Pope Francis said Thursday in St. Peter's Square.

“The Fathers of the Church liked to compare the holy apostles Peter and Paul to two columns, on which the visible building of the Church rests. Both sealed with their own blood their testimony to Christ of preaching and service to the nascent Christian community,” he stated during his June 29 Angelus address on the saints' feast.

He reflected on St. Peter's deliverance from prison by an angel “so that he could complete his evangelizing mission, first in the Holy Land and then in Rome, putting all his energy at the service of the Christian community.”

St. Paul similarly experienced hostility to his mission, the Pope said, from both civil authorities and his fellow Jews, “from which he was freed by the Lord.”

“These two 'deliverances', of Peter and of Paul, reveal the common path of the two apostles, who were mandated by Jesus to announced the Gospel in difficult and in certain cases hostile circumstances.”

They both, through “their personal and ecclesial stories, demonstrate and say to us, today, that the Lord is always at our side, walking with us, never abandoning us,” said Pope Francis.

“Especially at the moment of trial, God touches our hand, comes to our aid, and frees us from the threats of our nemeses. But let us recall that our true nemesis is sin, and the Evil One who drives us to it.”

He said that “when we reconcile with God, especially in the sacrament of Penance, we receive the grace of pardon, we are freed from the chains of evil, and are lightened from the burden of our errors. Thus can we continue our journey of as joyous announcers and witnesses to the Gospel, demonstrating that we ourselves first received mercy.”

Pope Francis concluded his address by praying for Rome, the city of the martyrdom of both Saints Peter and Paul.

“May the goodness and the grace of the Lord sustain all the Roman people, for they live in fraternity and concord, resplendent in the Christian faith, witnessed to with intrepid love by the holy apostles Peter and Paul.”

New US archbishops look forward to serving God in their local Churches

Thu, 06/29/2017 - 23:49

Vatican City, Jun 29, 2017 / 11:49 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Newly-appointed metropolitan archbishops from around the world received the traditional woolen vestment called a pallium during a special Mass with Pope Francis on Thursday.

For the three new metropolitan archbishops of American sees, the experience was a reminder of their mission as shepherds of their local Churches, called to follow God and lead others to him.

The Mass, celebrated on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, was significant for Archbishop Paul Etienne of Anchorage, who told CNA June 29 he was “very mindful of the accompanying presence of these great saints.”

He is inspired by their great love for Christ and the Church, he said, and by the courage with which they went out into the world after encountering the Risen Lord.

“I just ask for as much of that same grace in my life and in ministry, that I can joyfully serve the Lord and present him to the world in a fashion that will be received.”

Archbishop Charles Thompson of Indianapolis told CNA he knows he has a lot to learn and get to know in his new role, but he’s looking forward to serving God and serving the people of God as the shepherd of the local Church.

After the Mass, each archbishop has an opportunity to greet the Pope. For Archbishop Thompson, this was his first personal encounter with Francis. Though the meeting was brief, Pope Francis "had a glow, had a great smile on his face," he said.

"It really made me think about the joy of the Gospel and talking about having the joy of bringing people to Christ. Even though there's also an awesome responsibility that I feel in this appointment, I just sense that the smile on his face was to do with joy."

"Don't let it overwhelm you. Trust in the Holy Spirit. Trust that God gives you the grace to fulfill this mission. And I'm banking on that, because I'm the least worthy of anybody here,” he said.

Archbishop Etienne said that it was "a great privilege and a great honor" to receive the pallium from Pope Francis.

He was grateful for the Pope's homily, which reminded him that they aren't in this for themselves, but that they are "servants of the Lord."

"Our life is to be giving a confession, our own witness to Christ, and we should not be surprised when the trials and the persecutions come our way; and the best way to get through it is to pray," he said, recalling the Pope's words. "So those are all three pretty good points that he made."

For Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, this was his second time receiving the pallium, the first being when he was appointed Archbishop of Indianapolis in 2012.

"It's always a very moving moment to be with the Holy Father, to feel the connection with bishops from around the world and to deepen what it means to be a bishop," he told CNA.

He explained that out of all the vestments he has to wear, his favorite is the pallium, which is a stole made from white wool and adorned with six black silk crosses. The wearing of the pallium by the Pope and metropolitan archbishops symbolizes authority as well as unity with the Holy See.

One significant thing about the pallium, Cardinal Tobin said, is the symbolism found in how it is worn: around the shoulders.

It shows "the obligation of the bishop to look for the one who's lost, and carry that one back on his shoulders. So that's why when I put it on my shoulders, I remember that," he said.

It is traditional for the Pope to bestow the stole on new archbishops June 29 each year. The rite is a sign of communion with the See of Peter. It also serves as a symbol of the metropolitan archbishop’s jurisdiction in his own diocese as well as the other dioceses within his ecclesiastical province.

However, as a sign of “synodality” with local Churches, Pope Francis decided in 2015 that new metropolitan archbishops will officially be imposed with the pallium in their home diocese, rather than the Vatican.

So while the new archbishops still journey to Rome to receive the pallium during the liturgy with the Pope, the official imposition ceremony is in their home diocese, allowing more faithful and bishops in dioceses under the archbishop’s jurisdiction to attend the event.

Archbishop Thompson, whose installation as Archbishop of Indianapolis will be held July 28, has the unique privilege of being imposed with the pallium at the same Mass as his installation, which he said will be "a great symbol."

Archbishop Etienne was installed as Archbishop of Anchorage on Nov. 9, 2016, so he’s had a few months to begin settling in. "The people in Alaska count winters, so I've been in Anchorage one winter now," he laughed.

Though the weather is cold, the people there are warm, he said, noting that they have all been grateful he accepted the appointment, since it isn't easy to live in Alaska.

"It's a very diverse Church," he explained, but the people have been wonderful, "helping me to understand their ways and to embrace that new territory and all the people that are a part of it."

Both Archbishop Etienne and Archbishop Thompson said that learning about their new appointments came as quite a surprise.

"It's a shock anytime you get one of those phone calls," Archbishop Etienne said.

Moving to Anchorage was not something he expected, but "after a prayerful night, it became clear that if this is where Mother Church has asked me to go and where the Lord is leading, I promised him years ago I would follow. So Alaska's my home now."

Archbishop Thompson, who only received his appointment June 3, said the last few weeks have been "a whirlwind," especially having to plan so quickly for a trip to Rome.

When he received the phone call, he had just returned home from saying an ordination Mass for new priests in his diocese, Evansville. In his homily that day, he said he had preached about missionary discipleship and how one cannot be comfortable or complacent in an assignment, but must be prepared to go out to the people, since it's the Lord who calls us and sends us.

"So when I got this phone call, I got off the phone and thought, 'Who was I preaching to this morning?'"

In Newark, Cardinal Tobin said there are so many people his work can be "daunting" at times, though it's also "wonderful."

"I would say it certainly gets me on my knees, to pray for wisdom and light, and to pray for the people and all their needs," he said.

During his time, Cardinal Tobin has come out strongly about the issue of immigration in the U.S., in May issuing a call for Catholic and political leaders to work in defense of immigrants.

“I think it's a very delicate moment in our history,” he said, both for the many immigrants in the U.S. and for the American soul in general. “Because I think that there are so many things that brutalize the American soul, beginning with abortion, proposals for euthanasia,” he said.

“The rounding up of immigrants, and the completely callous nature toward their suffering, I think, is just another thing that deadens our hearts. I think as spiritual leaders we have to be concerned about it.” 

Pope: To be a disciple, Jesus must be the center of your life

Thu, 06/29/2017 - 15:01

Vatican City, Jun 29, 2017 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Thursday, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Pope Francis said that we can’t just know about our faith, but we must live our faith, with Jesus as the center of our hearts and lives.

“The question of life demands a response of life. For it counts little to know the articles of faith if we do not confess Jesus as the Lord of our lives,” the Pope said June 29.

“Today he looks straight at us and asks, ‘Who am I for you?’ As if to say: ‘Am I still the Lord of your life, the longing of your heart, the reason for your hope, the source of your unfailing trust?’

Jesus is asking us today the same questions he asked to his disciples: “Who do people say that I am?” and “Who do you say that I am?” Francis continued. In the end, only Peter answers that he is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

“Along with Saint Peter, we too renew today our life choice to be Jesus’ disciples and apostles. May we too pass from Jesus’ first question to his second, so as to be ‘his own’ not merely in words, but in our actions and our very lives,” he said.

This is the “crucial question,” he continued, especially for pastors. “It is the decisive question. It does not allow for a non-committal answer, because it brings into play our entire life.”

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his Mass celebrating the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, patrons of the city of Rome. During the ceremony, he blessed the pallia to be bestowed on the 32 new metropolitan archbishops who were present, all appointed throughout the previous year.

The pallium is a white wool vestment, adorned with six black silk crosses. Dating back to at least the fifth century, the wearing of the pallium by the Pope and metropolitan archbishops symbolizes authority as well as unity with the Holy See.

The title of “metropolitan bishop” refers to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis, namely, the primary city of an ecclesiastical province or regional capital.

Traditionally the Pope bestows the stole to the new archbishops June 29 each year. The rite is a sign of communion with the See of Peter. It also serves as a symbol of the metropolitan archbishop’s jurisdiction in his own diocese as well as the other particular dioceses within his ecclesiastical province.

However, as a sign of “synodality” with local Churches, Pope Francis decided in 2015 that new metropolitan archbishops will officially be imposed with the pallium in their home diocese, rather than the Vatican.

So while the new archbishops still journey to Rome to receive the pallium during the liturgy with the Pope, the official imposition ceremony is in their home diocese, allowing more faithful and bishops in dioceses under the archbishop’s jurisdiction to attend the event.

In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on three words from the liturgy that he said are “essential for the life of an apostle: confession, persecution and prayer.”

For confession, the Pope spoke of the confession of faith, which means “to acknowledge in Jesus the long-awaited Messiah, the living God, the Lord of our lives.”

We should ask ourselves, he said, if we are “parlor Christians,” who only love to sit and chat about how things are going in the Church and the world, or “apostles on the go,” people “who confess Jesus with their lives because they hold him in their hearts.”

We can’t be half-hearted, he urged, but must be on fire with love for Christ, not looking for the easy way out, but daily risking ourselves to put out “into the deep.”

“Those who confess their faith in Jesus do as Peter and Paul did: they follow him to the end – not just part of the way, but to the very end.”

But doing so isn’t easy, and that’s when we come to the second word, he explained, because following the way of Christ, also means facing the cross and persecution.

Peter and Paul shed their blood for Christ, as well as the early Christian community as a whole. Even today, he continued, a great number of Christians are persecuted.

The Pope emphasized the words of the Apostle Paul, who said "to live was Christ, Christ crucified, who gave his life for him."

"Apart from the cross, there is no Christ, but apart from the cross, there can be no Christian either," Francis stated.

The Christian is called to “tolerate evil,” but tolerating evil doesn't mean simply having patience and resignation, he explained, it means imitating Christ, accepting the cross with confidence, carrying the burden for Christ's sake and for the sake of others – all the while knowing that we are not alone.

"Tolerating evil," he continued, "means overcoming it with Jesus, and in Jesus’ own way, which is not the way of the world."

This is why St. Paul writes: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." The essence of this "good fight," the Pope emphasized, was living "for Jesus and for others," giving your all. There is only one thing that Paul kept in his life, and that is his faith.

"Out of love, he experienced trials, humiliations and suffering, which are never to be sought but always accepted. In the mystery of suffering offered up in love, in this mystery, embodied in our own day by so many of our brothers and sisters who are persecuted, impoverished and infirm, the saving power of Jesus’ cross shines forth."

Lastly, Pope Francis said that the life of an apostle must be a life of constant prayer.

"Prayer is the water needed to nurture hope and increase fidelity. Prayer makes us feel loved and it enables us to love in turn. It makes us press forward in moments of darkness because it brings God’s light. In the Church, it is prayer that sustains us and helps us to overcome difficulties."

When St. Peter was in prison, it tell us in the Acts of the Apostles that "earnest prayer for him was made to God by the Church."

"A Church that prays is watched over and cared for by the Lord. When we pray, we entrust our lives to him and to his loving care,” he said.

Francis concluded by praying that the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, may "obtain for us a heart like theirs."

Hearts that are wearied because they are constantly asking, knocking, interceding, weighed down by the many needs of people and situations that need to be handed over to God, but also at peace, because the Holy Spirit brings consolation and strength through prayer, he said.

"How urgent it is for the Church to have teachers of prayer, but even more so for us to be men and women of prayer, whose entire life is prayer!"

“The Lord answers our prayers. He is faithful to the love we have professed for him, and he stands beside us at times of trial.”

Just as the Lord accompanied the journey of the Apostles, “he will do the same for you, dear brother Cardinals,” he said.

“He will remain close to you too, dear brother Archbishops who, in receiving the pallium, will be strengthened to spend your lives for the flock, imitating the Good Shepherd who bears you on his shoulders."

Cardinal Pell to take leave while facing abuse charges in Australia

Thu, 06/29/2017 - 13:34

Vatican City, Jun 29, 2017 / 01:34 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After Australian police announced that they have charged him on multiple counts of sexual abuse, Cardinal George Pell has maintained his innocence, saying he will take leave from his responsibilities in the Vatican to clear his name.

In comments to journalists during a June 29 news briefing at the Holy See Press Office, Cardinal Pell said that with the permission of Pope Francis, he will be taking "leave" from his position as the Prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy in order "to clear my name."

"I am looking forward, finally, to having my day in court. I'm innocent of these charges, they are false," he said, adding that "the whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me."

Throughout the two years he has been fighting the accusations, there have been various media leaks and "relentless character assassination," he said, insisting he has been "consistent and clear in my total rejection of these allegations."

Pell said that he has regularly kept Pope Francis informed of the process. In the past week, the two have spoken on "many occasions" about "my need to take leave to clear my name," he said, voicing his gratitude to the Pope "for giving me this leave to return to Australia."

The cardinal said he has already spoken with his lawyers and doctors about how and when he will return to Australia to face the charges.

"News of these charges strengthens my resolve, and court proceedings now offer me the opportunity to clear my name and then return here, back to Rome, to work," he said.

Cardinal Pell's statement came after the police of Victoria, Australia announced that they are charging him on multiple counts of historical sexual abuse.

The charging of Cardinal Pell, who in 2013 was tapped to oversee the Vatican's Secretariat for the Economy and is a member of the Council of Cardinals advising Pope Francis, makes him the most senior Vatican official to ever be charged with abuse.

He was ordained in the diocese of Ballarat in 1966, where he served as a priest and later as a consulter to Bishop Ronald Mulkearns, who oversaw the diocese from 1971-1997. Pell was appointed auxiliary bishop for the archdiocese of Melbourne in 1987, and was named archbishop in 1996.

In February 2016, he testified for the third time before Australia's Royal Commission regarding claims that surfaced in 2015 accusing the cardinal of moving “known pedophile” Gerald Ridsdale, of bribing a victim of the later-defrocked priest, and of ignoring a victim’s complaint.

Established in 2013, the Royal Commission is dedicated to investigating institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

Despite having testified before the commission twice before on the same charges, Pell again offered to give his testimony, which he did via video conference from Rome.

Shortly before the hearing, abuse allegations surfaced accusing the cardinal of multiple counts of child sexual abuse dating as far back as 1961, which he has continued to fervently deny.

In a June 29 communiqué released after Cardinal Pell made his statement to journalists, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said the Holy See learned with "regret" about the charges filed for "decades-old actions" that have been attributed to the cardinal.

"Having become aware of the charges, Card. Pell, acting in full respect for civil laws, has decided to return to his country to face the charges against him, recognizing the importance of his participation to ensure that the process is carried out fairly, and to foster the search for truth," the communiqué read.

Echoing Pell's own statement, Burke affirmed that Pope Francis has granted the cardinal an absence from his duties "so he can defend himself," and that in his absence, the Secretariat for the Economy will continue to carry out its work.

The secretaries in the department will remain at their posts to carry forward the dicastery's work "donec aliter provideatur," meaning "until otherwise provided."

Pope Francis, Burke said, "has appreciated Cardinal Pell’s honesty during his three years of work in the Roman Curia," and is grateful for his collaboration and "energetic dedication to the reforms in the economic and administrative sector, as well as his active participation in the Council of Cardinals (C9)."

On behalf of the Holy See, Burke voiced respect for the Australian justice system, which "will have to decide the merits of the questions raised."

However, at the same time, he said "it is important to recall that Card. Pell has openly and repeatedly condemned as immoral and intolerable the acts of abuse committed against minors" and has cooperated with Australian authorities in the past, specifically with his depositions before the Royal Commission.

Moreover, the cardinal has been supportive of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, and as a diocesan bishop in Australia, introduced systems and procedures "both for the protection of minors and to provide assistance to victims of abuse."

Burke closed noting that Cardinal Pell will no longer be attending public events while facing the charges, and as such would be absent from the day's today's Mass for the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, to be celebrated by Pope Francis and attended by all new metropolitan archbishops appointed during the previous year.

Australian police charge top Vatican official with sexual abuse

Thu, 06/29/2017 - 07:47

Vatican City, Jun 28, 2017 / 07:47 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After years of fighting allegations of sexual abuse and negligence in handling abuse cases, Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican's top finance man, will be charged on multiple counts of abuse, Australian police announced Wednesday.

Pell, who has fervently denied the allegations, will be charged on summons, and will be required to return to Melbourne in July order to answer the charges. 

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Victoria police were the ones who decided to charge the cardinal. In a June 29 statement, Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton said Pell is facing "multiple charges in respect to historic sexual offenses," which multiple complaints in each of the charges.

Due to heavy media speculation surrounding the investigation, Patton clarified that "the process and the procedures that have been followed in the charging of Cardinal Pell have been the same that have been applied in a whole range of historical sex offenses whenever we investigate them."

"There has been no change in any procedures whatsoever," he said, noting that Pell has been treated the same as anyone else.

The deputy commissioner stressed the importance of remembering that "none of the allegations that have been made against Cardinal Pell have, obviously, been tested in any court yet."

"Cardinal Pell, like any other defendant, has a right to due process and so therefore it's important that the process is allowed to run its natural course," he said.

"Preserving the integrity of that process is essential to all of us, so for Victoria police it's important that it's allowed to go through unhindered, and its allowed to see natural justice is afforded to all the parties involved, including Cardinal Pell and the complainants in this matter."

Pell has been summoned to appear before the Melbourne Maginstrate's court July 18 for a filing hearing to face the charges, which were served to his legal team Wednesday (Thursday Australian time).

The charging of Cardinal Pell, who in 2013 was tapped to oversee the Vatican's Secretariat for the Economy and is a member of the Council of Cardinals advising Pope Francis, makes him the most senior Vatican official to ever be charged with abuse.

Cardinal Pell was ordained in the diocese of Ballarat in 1966, where he served as a priest and later as a consulter to Bishop Ronald Mulkearns, who oversaw the diocese from 1971-1997. Pell was appointed auxiliary bishop for the archdiocese of Melbourne in 1987, and was named archbishop in 1996.

In February 2016, he testified for the third time before Australia's Royal Commission regarding claims that surfaced in 2015 accusing the cardinal of moving “known pedophile” Gerald Ridsdale, of bribing a victim of the later-defrocked priest, and of ignoring a victim’s complaint.

Established in 2013, the Royal Commission is dedicated to investigating institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

Despite having testified before the commission twice before on the same charges, Pell was again summoned to return to Australia for deposition in December. However, the cardinal’s doctor advised against the long flight, due to health issues.

As a result, Cardinal Pell volunteered to appear by way of video conference from Rome. His proposal for the video conference was accepted, and he gave his testimony again with abuse survivors present, who crowd-funded in order to attend the hearing in person.

Shortly before the hearing, abuse allegations surfaced accusing the cardinal of multiple counts of child sexual abuse dating as far back as 1961, which he fervently denied at the time.

In a statement released after the accusations arose, Pell said "the allegations are without foundation and utterly false."

At the close of the hearing, the cardinal admitted that he should have done more to protect the children of Australia during his time as a bishop.

"One of the things I regret as a Catholic priest is the damage that these crimes do to the faith of survivors, of the victims, and their friends and family, and generally throughout the society,” he said, and voiced his willingness to work with authorities.

In a June 29 statement following the announcement of the Victoria police department's decision to charge him, Cardinal Pell's office said he has "again strenuously denied all allegations."

The statement said Pell would return to Australia as soon as possible "to clear his name" after consulting with his doctors, who will advise him on his travel arrangements, and that he looks forward to "vigorously" opposing the charges in court

Pell is set to give a statement to journalists in Rome at 8:30a.m. local time in the Holy See Press Office regarding the announcement of the charges.


This article was updated at 9:12p.m. MST with the official statement from Cardinal Pell's office.


Keep your eyes fixed on the cross, Pope urges new cardinals

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 20:05

Vatican City, Jun 28, 2017 / 08:05 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday, Pope Francis created five new cardinals, encouraging them to walk with Jesus, keeping their eyes fixed securely on the cross and on the realities of the world, not becoming distracted by prestige or honor.

“I speak above all to you, dear new Cardinals. Jesus ‘is walking ahead of you,’ and he asks you to follow him resolutely on his way. He calls you to look at reality, not to let yourselves be distracted by other interests or prospects,” the Pope said June 28.

“He has not called you to become ‘princes’ of the Church, to ‘sit at his right or at his left.’ He calls you to serve like him and with him.”

“To serve the Father and your brothers and sisters. He calls you to face as he did the sin of the world and its effects on today’s humanity. Follow him, and walk ahead of the holy people of God, with your gaze fixed on the Lord’s cross and resurrection.”

Pope Francis addressed the five bishops he chose to receive a red hat last month, and others present, during an ordinary consistory for the creation of new cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica.

He had announced his intention to create the new cardinals during a Regina Coeli address on May 21st.

Immediately following a reading from the Gospel of Matthew and his short reflection, the Pope made the proclamation creating the new cardinals. Afterward they received their red biretta and cardinal’s ring. At this time they were also assigned a titular church, tying them to Rome.
In his choice of cardinals, Pope Francis has remained true to his vision of a broader, more universal representation of the Church, forged during his last consistory, Nov. 19, 2016, where he created 17 new cardinals from 11 different nations and five different continents.

Among this consistory's picks are Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm, Sweden, and Bishop Louis-Marie Ling Mangkhanekhoun, Apostolic Vicar of Pakse, Laos and Apostolic Administrator of Vientiane, and Archbishop Jean Zerbo of Bamako, Mali.

All three are the first cardinals from their respective countries.

Also noteworthy is his appointment of San Salvador’s auxiliary bishop, José Gregorio Rosa Chávez, marking the first time the Pope has tapped an auxiliary as cardinal.

Bishop Chávez was chosen over his archbishop, Jose Luis Escobar Alas, for the red hat, showing that Francis, as seen in his previous appointments, is willing to skip over “cardinal sees.”

In contrast to the other four is Archbishop Juan José Omella of Barcelona, Spain. His red hat is not a dramatic departure from tradition, as Barcelona is traditionally a see with a cardinal and Archbishop Omella’s predecessor, Cardinal Lluis Martinez Sistach, turned 80 on April 29.

All of the new cardinals are under 80, and therefore eligible to vote in the next conclave.

In his homily, Francis reflected on the Gospel heard during the ceremony, which came from Matthew 10:32-45. In the passage, Jesus and the disciples are walking toward Jerusalem. This is when the third prediction of the Passion of Christ happens, which is nearing.

“‘Jesus was walking ahead of them.’ This is the picture that the Gospel we have just read presents to us. It serves as a backdrop to the act now taking place: this Consistory for the creation of new Cardinals,” he said.

Jesus walks ahead of them with full knowledge of what is going to take place in Jerusalem, but at this moment there is a divide, a distance, between his heart and the hearts of his disciples, which only the Holy Spirit can bridge, Francis said.

He knows this and is patient with them. “Above all, he goes before them. He walks ahead of them.”

Along the way, though, the disciples become distracted by things which have nothing to do with what Jesus is preparing to do, or with the will of the Father.

“They are not facing reality! They think they see, but they don’t. They think they know, but they don’t. They think they understand better than the others, but they don’t…” the Pope exclaimed.

“For the reality is completely different. It is what Jesus sees and what directs his steps. The reality is the cross.”

This reality, Francis continued, is the sin of the world, which the Lord came to take upon himself and to “uproot from the world of men and women.”

The reality of sin is manifest in the world in the innocent who suffer and die as victims of war and terrorism, in the many forms of human slavery that exist, he said. It’s found also in refugee camps, which are more like hell than purgatory, and it’s in the discarding of people and things that society doesn’t find useful.

“This,” he said, “is what Jesus sees as he walks towards Jerusalem.”

“During his public ministry he made known the Father’s tender love by healing all who were oppressed by the evil one (cf. Acts 10:38). Now he realizes that the moment has come to press on to the very end, to eliminate evil at its root. And so, he walks resolutely towards the cross.”

“We too, dear brothers and sisters, are journeying with Jesus along this path,” he said.

“And now,” he concluded, “with faith and through the intercession of the Virgin Mother, let us ask the Holy Spirit to bridge every gap between our hearts and the heart of Christ, so that our lives may be completely at the service of God and all our brothers and sisters.”

After the consistory, Pope Francis and the new cardinals will stop by the Vatican's Mater Ecclesiae Monastery to pay a visit to Benedict XVI, who was not present at the ceremony.

As is customary, the cardinals will then proceed to the atrium of the Pope Paul VI hall where they are formally greeted and congratulated.

The new cardinals will also concelebrate Mass with Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square on June 29, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, the patrons of Rome. At the Mass the Pope will also bestow the pallia on the new metropolitan archbishops appointed during the last year.

The consistory was the fourth of Pope Francis’ pontificate. With the 5 new cardinals included, the number of voting cardinals comes to 121, and the number of non-voters to 104, for a grand total of 225.

Pope Francis: The way of Christ is the way of persecution

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 15:57

Vatican City, Jun 28, 2017 / 03:57 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday Pope Francis said that following Christ means taking a path contrary to that of the world, and being prepared to suffer because of this; though we have hope because of God’s constant presence.

“Persecution is not a contradiction to the gospel, but is part of it: if they persecuted our Master, how can we hope that we will be spared the struggle?” he said June 28.

“However, in the midst of the whirlwind, the Christian must not lose hope, thinking he has been abandoned. Jesus reassures his disciples saying, ‘Even the hairs of your head are all counted.’ As much as to say that none of the sufferings of man, even the most minute and hidden, are invisible to the eyes of God.”

“God sees, and surely protects; and will give his ransom.”

Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the theme of Christian hope during the weekly general audience Wednesday in St. Peter’s Square. This time he reflected on the counter-cultural life of the Christian, which will mean withstanding persecution on some level, and for some, even martyrdom.
“Christians are therefore men and women ‘against the current,’” he said. “It is normal: since the world is marked by sin, manifested in various forms of egoism and injustice, those who follow Christ walk in the opposite direction.”

As Christians we do this “not for a contrary spirit, but for loyalty to the logic of the Kingdom of God, which is a logic of hope, and is translated into a way of life based on the directions of Jesus,” he continued.

“Christians must therefore always find themselves on the ‘other side,’ on the other side of the world, that chosen by God; not persecutors but persecuted; not arrogant, but gentle; not conmen, but submissive to the truth; not imposters, but honest.”

The first indication of a life lived based on this logic is poverty, the Pope said. In fact, he emphasized, “a Christian who is not humble and poor, detached from wealth and power and above all detached from himself, does not look like Jesus.”

Following this way has its difficulties and struggles, of course, the Pope said. But in difficulty, we must remember that Jesus is with us, and he never leaves his disciples alone.

“This fidelity to the way of Jesus – a way of hope – unto death, will be called by the first Christians with a beautiful name: ‘martyrdom,’ meaning ‘testimony,’” he said.

The early Christians could have chosen a different name for this act, like ‘heroism,’ 'abnegation,' or 'self-sacrifice,' but instead they chose this one, Francis said.

Martyrs are not selfish, living for themselves. “They do not fight to assert their own ideas, and accept that that they have to die only for loyalty to the gospel,” he said, which is the only “force” or strength the Christian uses.

In his catechesis, Francis recalled that Jesus warned us that he sends us “as sheep in the midst of wolves.” And the Christian does not have weapons or claws against these wolves. He or she may need to be cautious, even shrewd at times, he said, but violent never.

A Christian travels through life with the essentials for the journey, but with a heart full of love, he said, because true defeat for the Christian isn't poverty, it's to fall into the temptation to respond to evil with evil.

There is, in fact, “Someone” among us who is stronger than evil, he said.

But martyrdom is not even “the supreme ideal of Christian life,” Francis continued, because above all there is charity, that is, the love of God and of neighbor.”

Reflecting on charity, the Apostle Paul says: “If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.”

This is why it Christians are disgusted by the idea that suicide bombers might be called “martyrs,” the Pope explained. “These do not know the martyrs – there is nothing in their end that can be brought closer to the attitudes of the children of God.”

The martyrs of yesterday and even of today had hope that no one and nothing could separate them from the love of God. So we ask that God gives us this same strength to be his witnesses, he concluded.

“He gives us the opportunity to live Christian hope especially in the hidden martyrdom of doing well and with love our duties of every day.”

Unity is more than 'bland uniformity,' Pope tells Orthodox

Wed, 06/28/2017 - 04:12

Vatican City, Jun 27, 2017 / 04:12 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis met with a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, saying their journey toward full communion is one that ought to respect their unique traditions – rather than a uniformity that would, in the end, make the Church more boring.

“Peter and Paul, as disciples and apostles of Jesus Christ, served the Lord in very different ways,” the Pope said June 27.

“Yet in their diversity, both bore witness to the merciful love of God our Father, which each in his own fashion profoundly experienced, even to the sacrifice of his own life.”

Because of this, since ancient times the Church in the East and in the West has celebrated the feast of the two Apostles together, he said, adding that it is right to jointly commemorate “their self-sacrifice for love of the Lord, for it is at the same time a commemoration of unity and diversity.”

Pope Francis spoke to a delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, who are currently in Rome for the June 29 celebration of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. The Pope is particularly close to the Orthodox Church of Constantinople, and has met with their Patriarch, Bartholomew I, several times since his election in 2013.

In his address to the delegation, Francis said the traditional exchange of delegations on the feast of their patrons is something that “increases our desire for the full restoration of communion between Catholics and Orthodox.”

This, he said, is something “which we already have a foretaste in fraternal encounter, shared prayer and common service to the Gospel.”

He noted how in the first millennium, Christians of both the East and West were able to share the same Eucharist and preserve the essential truths of the faith while at the same time cultivating and exchanging a variety of theological, canonical and spiritual traditions founded on the teaching of the apostles and the ecumenical councils.

“That experience,” Francis said, “is a necessary point of reference and a source of inspiration for our efforts to restore full communion in our own day, a communion that must not be a bland uniformity.”

Francis then noted how this year marks 50 years since Blessed Pope Paul VI visited Istanbul's Phanar district in July 1967, where the seat of the ecumenical patriarchate is located, to visit Patriarch Athenagoras, as well as the visit of  Athenagoras to Rome in October of the same year.

“The example of these courageous and farsighted pastors, moved solely by love for Christ and his Church, encourages us to press forward in our journey towards full unity,” Francis said.

The Pope then expressed his gratitude for the many occasions on which he has been able to meet with Patriarch Bartholomew, which have taken place largely during his various trips and ecumenical prayer events.

At the end of his speech, Pope Francis noted that in September, a meeting of the Coordinating Committee of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church will take place in Leros, Greece.

He voiced his hope that the event “will take place in a spiritual climate of attentiveness to the Lord’s will and in a clear recognition of the journey already being made together by many Catholic and Orthodox faithful in various parts of the world, and that it will prove most fruitful for the future of ecumenical dialogue.”

The Pope closed by voicing his hope that with the intercession of Saints Peter, Paul and Andrew, through mutual prayer they would become “instruments of communion and peace.”

Local priest named fifth bishop of Allentown, Penn.

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 19:16

Vatican City, Jun 27, 2017 / 07:16 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Tuesday the Vatican announced Pope Francis' pick of Mons. Alfred A. Schlert to be the next bishop of the Diocese of Allentown in Pennsylvania, himself born and raised in the diocese.

Bishop-elect Schlert, 55, fills the vacancy left when his predecessor, Bishop John Oliver Barres was appointed to the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York at the end of January.

In a statement on the appointment June 27, Bishop Barres said that Mons. Schlert “has a blend of holiness, intelligence and pastoral experience that will serve the mission of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Allentown in an extraordinary way.”

“He is primarily a loving pastor with an insightful and compassionate pastoral charity and a non-stop New Evangelization missionary spirit,” the statement continued.

“He is humble and down to earth and has this incredibly creative sense of humor that is charitable and puts everyone around him at ease. He is calm and steady but passionate about Father, Son and Holy Spirit and the Catholic Church’s mission of mercy in the world.”

Mons. Schlert, who was born and raised in the Diocese of Allentown, has been serving as Diocesan Administrator of Allentown since Bishop Barres' move to New York.

It is the first time a priest of the diocese has been named its bishop.

Bishop-emeritus of Allentown, Edward P. Cullen said that the people of the region have received “a great blessing” with the appointment of Mons. Schlert.

“The formation he received in the seminary of Saint John Lateran in Rome brought out in his heart and soul a powerful love for all of God’s children,” Bishop Cullen said in a statement June 27.

“His intellectual capacity is extraordinary, and his 30 years of ministry reflects his gifts as a homilist, a writer and an administrator whose heart is as compassionate and forgiving as is his love of God.”
Bishop-elect Schlert will bring “prudence and sound judgement to every aspect of the pastoral life of the diocese,” he continued.

“I can say without reservation that Bishop-elect Schlert is truly God’s chosen and beloved. Let us bring to him the fullness of our spiritual support.”

Bishop-elect Schlert was born in Easton, Pennsylvania on July 24, 1961, just six months after the Diocese of Allentown was formed.

He attended both Catholic grade school and Catholic high school before entering Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Overbrook. He also studied theology at the Pontifical Roman Seminary and the Pontifical Lateran University.

He was ordained a priest at the Cathedral of Saint Catherine of Siena in Allentown on Sept. 19, 1987.

He served as assistant pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church in Allentown, and as a professor at his alma mater, Notre Dame High School, and as the Catholic chaplain at Lehigh University.

In 1992 he completed graduate studies at the Pontifical North American College and Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, receiving a Licentiate in Canon Law from the Pontifical Lateran University.

Mons. Schlert was named Vice Chancellor and Secretary to Bishop Thomas Welsh in 1997.

From 1998-2008 he was in residence at the Cathedral of Saint Catherine of Siena while serving as Vicar General of the diocese under Bishops Edward Cullen and John O. Barres. In this position he oversaw the coordination of all the administrative offices of the diocese.

He was given the title of monsignor by Pope St. John Paul II in 1999. Benedict XVI named him a Prelate of Honor, the second highest rank of monsignor, in 2005.

While Vicar General, he was also pastor of St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Church in Hellertown from July 2008-Feb. 2010.

His ordination and installation as bishop will take place at the cathedral on Thursday, Aug. 31st.

In addition to English, he also speaks Italian.

Bishop-elect Schlert “loves the People of God of the Diocese of Allentown,” Bishop Barres stated.

“He is a priest’s priest and now will be a Bishop’s Bishop. He is very serious about prayer and sacrifices deeply to pray deeply. Bishop-elect Schlert is a natural teacher who fine-tuned his ability to communicate in religion classes at Notre Dame High School in Easton. I am ecstatic about Pope Francis’ providential choice.”

The old still have a lot to give young people, Pope Francis says

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 16:43

Vatican City, Jun 27, 2017 / 04:43 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Tuesday Pope Francis said that the older generation should not stop striving in their spiritual lives, but that God calls them to be spiritual ‘grandparents’ to young people, who can learn from their experiences.

“And this is what the Lord today asks us: to be grandparents. To have the vitality to give to young people, because young people expect it from us; to not close ourselves, to give our best: they look for our experience, for our positive dreams to carry on the prophecy and the work.”

“I ask the Lord for all of us that he give us this grace,” the Pope said June 27.

Pope Francis said a special Mass June 27 in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace to celebrate the 25th anniversary of his ordination as an auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires in 1992.

The Mass was attended by the cardinals in Rome. This was the Pope's final morning Mass before the start of the usual summer break from morning activities. They will resume in September after he returns from his apostolic trip to Colombia.

For his homily, Francis preached on the day’s first reading, which contains the continuation of a dialogue between God and the now elderly Abraham. In this dialogue we hear three imperatives, the Pope said: “Get up! Look! Hope!”

Abraham, he said, was more or less the same age as those present when God called him.

“He was going to go into retirement, in retirement to rest... He started at that age. An old man, with the weight of old age, old age that brings pain, illness.... But you, as if you were a young man, get up, go go!”

“And to us today the Lord says the same: ‘Get up! Look! Hope!’ He tells us that it's not time to put our life in closure, not to close our story, not to compile our story. The Lord tells us that our story is open, still: it is open until the end, it is open with a mission. And with these three imperatives tells us the mission: ‘Get up! Look! Hope!’” Francis emphasized.

The Pope reflected that there are some people who might not want the older people around, maybe calling them a “gerontocracy of the Church.” These people don't know what they are saying, he explained: “we're not geriatrics, we're grandparents.”

And if we don’t understand this, we should pray for the grace to do so, he said.

This is because we are “Grandparents to whom our grandchildren look. Grandparents who have to give them a sense of life with our experience. Grandparents not closed in the melancholy of our story, but open to give this. And for us, this ‘get up, look, hope’ is called ‘dreaming,’” he said.

“We are grandparents called to dream and give our dream to today's youth: they needs it.”

Pope Francis explained what these three words mean. To get up, he said, means you have a mission, you have a task. Just like Abraham walked, not making a home anywhere but only taking a tent, we are called to continue forward, all the way to the end of our lives.

In the second command, to “look!” God tells Abraham set his gaze on the horizon, always looking and moving ahead. There is a mystic spirituality to the horizon, the Pope said. It doesn’t end, but the further forward you go, the horizon continues to recede into the distance.

The third imperative was to have hope. Just like Abraham should not have been able to have children because of his age and because of the sterility of his wife, the Lord promises him offspring as numerous as the stars and Abraham has faith in the word of God.

This is the kind of hope in God's promises we are called to have, Francis said.

At the end of the Mass, Pope Francis thanked Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals, for his kind words, as well as everyone for their well-wishes and for celebrating Mass with him on his anniversary.

“Thank you for this common prayer on this anniversary, asking forgiveness for my sins and perseverance in faith, hope, charity,” he said.

“I thank you so much for this fraternal company and ask the Lord to bless you and accompany you on the road of service to the Church. Thank you very much.”