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Feb 15 17 5:22 AM
Pope Francis insisted Wednesday that indigenous groups must give prior consent to any economic activity affecting their ancestral lands, a view that conflicts with the Trump administration, which is pushing to build a $3.8 billion oil pipeline over opposition from American Indians.Francis met with representatives of indigenous peoples attending a U.N. agricultural meeting and said the key issue facing them is how to reconcile the right to economic development with protecting their cultures and territories.“In this regard, the right to prior and informed consent should always prevail,” he said. “Only then is it possible to guarantee peaceful cooperation between governing authorities and indigenous peoples, overcoming confrontation and conflict.”The Cheyenne River and the Standing Rock Sioux tribes have sued to stop construction on the final stretch of the Dakota Access pipeline, which would bring oil from North Dakota’s rich Bakken fields across four states to a shipping point in Illinois.The tribes say the pipeline threatens their drinking water, cultural sites and ability to practice their religion, which depends on pure water. The last piece of the pipeline is to pass under a reservoir on the Missouri River, which marks the eastern border of both tribes’ reservations.The company building the pipeline, Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, has insisted the water supply will be safe.Francis didn’t cite the Dakota pipeline dispute by name and the Vatican press office said he was not making a direct reference to it. But history’s first Latin American pope has been a consistent backer of indigenous rights and has frequently spoken out about the plight of Indians in resisting economic development that threatens their lands.“For governments, this means recognizing that indigenous communities are a part of the population to be appreciated and consulted, and whose full participation should be promoted at the local and national level,” Francis told the indigenous leaders Wednesday.In the waning days of the Obama administration, amid protests over construction that led to some 700 arrests, federal agencies that have authority over the reservoir said they would not give permission for pipe to be laid until an environmental study was done.U.S. President Donald Trump reversed course and last month instructed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with building the pipeline.Francis’ reference to prior consent is enshrined in the U.N. Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, which was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 2007 over the opposition of the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.Francis’ strong backing for indigenous groups and refugees, his climate change concerns and criticism of the global economy’s profit-at-all-cost mentality highlight the policy differences with the Trump administration that may come out if the U.S. president meets with Francis while in Italy for a G-7 summit in May. There has been no confirmation of any meeting to date, however.
Feb 18 17 5:33 AM
Who is trolling the Pope?Earlier this month posters criticising the Pope sprang up across Rome, and a spoof news story mocking the pontiff was sent to the city's cardinals. Christopher Lamb asks what it's all about.I was shocked when I saw them.I was sitting just a few rows behind a nun on a tram, when it stopped alongside some posters of a stern-looking Pope Francis. Underneath his glum, almost menacing face, was a list of complaints: he'd removed priests, ignored the concerns of cardinals and "decapitated" an ancient Catholic group, the Knights of Malta.This is the opposite of what I have come to expect in Rome. The tram was winding through a part of the city where you're normally greeted by images of a smiling Pope, with arms outstretched or making a thumbs up.Here in Italy the papacy is the closest thing there is to a monarchy, so perhaps it is no surprise that the city authorities ordered the offending text to be pasted over, leaving just the grim-faced image of Francis and a sign reading: "Illegal bill posting".At roughly the same time the posters were plastered around the city's walls, cardinals in Rome were opening their email inboxes to find a "fake" front page of the Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano. It had the traditional Latin motto which sits on the paper's masthead beneath a papal coat of arms, and a list of questions sent to the Pope by a group of conservative cardinals, with the answer, in each case, "Sic et non!" - "Yes and no!"This is the Pope being trolled on his home turf - and what's more, in Latin.While Francis enjoys huge popularity among many ordinary Catholics he's facing resistance to his shake-up of the Vatican and he's infuriating believers from the Church's more traditional wing. The main source of tension has been - yes - sex. Francis wants to give communion to divorcees who have married again; his opponents say this undermines the Church's teaching on marriage, because second unions are adulterous. The questions shown on the spoof front page were all on this subject.At the forefront of the opposition to Pope Francis is an American Cardinal, Raymond Burke, a stickler for the rules who once told John Kerry, when he was a presidential candidate, that he could not receive communion because of his previous support for abortion.Cardinal Burke has dedicated much of his life to studying the church's laws, and he wants to ensure they are enforced. He believes this Pope is tinkering dangerously with Christianity's 2,000-year-old tradition and has even threatened to issue an "act of correction" against Francis. This would be a very bold, highly unusual move - it hasn't happened for centuries.The cardinal lives in a large flat just off the grand thoroughfare built by Mussolini that leads into St Peter's Square from the River Tiber. [Ten to one, that flat is much larger than the two-room suite the Pope occupies at the Domus Sancta Marthae.] It is here that he runs his operation for promoting what he calls "doctrinal clarity".Custom and ceremony are held in high regard. [But of course!] When I visited to interview him I was shown past a cardinal's red hat sitting enclosed in a glass case, as if it was a holy relic, [Heaven forbid that a speck of dust should settle on the great man's red zucchetto!] and then into a drawing room with high-backed chairs, where we waited in anticipation for the grand entrance. Sitting alongside me was his press adviser, who greeted the cardinal by kneeling and kissing the gold ring on the ring finger of his hand, the traditional sign of respect given to a prince of the church.By contrast, when I have met Pope Francis - as a member of the Vatican press corps - we shake hands, and I can't help noticing that he looks slightly uncomfortable when people go down on one knee before him.The word in Rome is that the posters were the work of a right-wing group that dislikes the Pope's appeals for Europe to be more welcoming of immigrants. Once again, Cardinal Burke appears to be on the other side of the argument - he recently met the leader of the anti-immigration Northern League - but there is no evidence that he lies behind the posters, or the spoof news story. There are many conservative Catholics who are uncomfortable with some of Pope Francis's changes. [Yes, and some of them are right under his nose, smiling obsequiously all the while ...] The Pope's decision to live in a Vatican guest house, carry his own brief case and be driven around in a Ford Focus has burst the balloon of papal pomp. Some regard this freewheeling approach as "un-papal", [As I recall, a certain Curial prelate went so far as to say that Francis' decision to remain at the DSM was an "affront" to his predecessor.] and resent his description of those on the traditional wing of the church as "rigid".So far the Pope has shrugged off the criticisms."I'm not on tranquillisers," he joked recently. His way of dealing with the stress, he explained, is to jot down problems and place the notes under a figure of a sleeping St Joseph. St Joseph, the carpenter, is the figure Catholics turn to when facing practical difficulties. "Now he is sleeping on a mattress of letters!" Francis added.The trouble is that the Pope's job is to be the rock of church unity. Alarm bells start ringing when a papacy becomes divisive. While Francis has been hugely successful in reaching out to lost sheep, he runs the risk of alienating those already in the fold.The Pope has admitted that "cracks" are appearing between bishops and priests - rifts that if left untreated could develop into bigger problems. There may well be more papal trolling ahead.
Feb 19 17 4:37 PM
The Local - Pope Francis told youngsters on Friday to get off their phones during family meals, warning that the death of face-to-face conversations can have dire consequences for society, even resulting in wars."When we're at the table, when we are speaking to others on our telephones, it's the start of war because there is no dialogue," the pope said during an improvized speech at the "Roma Tre" public university.The 80-year old also chastised today's juniors for their manners, accusing them of swapping a cheery "good morning" for an "anonymous 'ciao ciao'" and saying it appeared standard in today's society for people to "insult" strangers."We need to lower the tone a bit, speak less and listen more," he said, adding that "dialogue which brings hearts closer together" is "a medicine against violence".
Feb 19 17 4:40 PM
Feb 19 17 4:44 PM
Crux - In his first visit to a Roman parish since posters went up around town on Feb. 4 charging that the pontiff lacks mercy, Pope Francis on Sunday insisted that pursuing a vendetta and talking behind people’s backs “is not Christian,” urging believers to pray for people who don’t like them.The path to holiness, Francis said in an improvised homily, means “first of all, don’t resist evil, and don’t go on a vendetta … this is not Christian.“Don’t give in to rancor, though that can be almost impossible,” Francis said. “Forget offences, and when you’re struck on one cheek, offer the other.“Evil must be defeated with good,” the pope, “with the strength of generosity.”Francis was speaking at the Roman parish of Santa Maria Josefa del Cuore di Gesù, located on the eastern outskirts of the city.His remarks were based on the day’s reading from the Gospel during Mass, which is drawn from Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus comments on the saying “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”The pontiff made no reference to the criticism he’s drawn personally in recent days, including not only the posters but also a spoof version of the Vatican newspaper accusing him of being muddled on Catholic teaching on marriage.Instead, he offered basic pastoral and spiritual guidance on how to respond to one’s perceived enemies.“Rancor is ugly, it’s not a little thing,” he said.“The great wars we see today on TV and in the papers, these massacres of people and of children, all evil … it’s the same hate you may have in your heart for a relative, or your mother-in-law, or some other person,” he said.“The will to come out on top, to make the other pay, isn’t Christian,” he said. “If all men and women everywhere would learn this, there wouldn’t be wars.”“Bitterness, rancor, the desire for a vendetta, to make the other pay, destroys families, friendships, neighbourhoods, and so much more,” the pope said.“The magnanimity of God, who forgives everything, who’s entirely merciful, changes lives,” he said.In that context, Francis advised that his listeners begin with “something small.”“All of us have enemies, all of us have people who talk behind our backs, so start with that,” he said. “Take a minute, remember that they’re children of the Father. It changes one’s heart.“Bless them, pray for those who don’t like you, and do it simply,” he said. “Maybe some rancor will stay behind, but we’re making the effort to take this path.”As he often does, Francis posed a series of questions a hypothetical person might ask him about his guidance, always referring to himself not as “Pope” but as “Father.”“Father, that’s hard, I want to ring their neck,” he imagines someone saying to him.“Prayer is an antidote against hate, against those wars that begin in the home, in neighborhoods, in families,” he said. “Prayer is the power that defeats evil and leads to peace. So if you know someone doesn’t like you, pray even harder.”“Do it once a day,” he said, “and that way we’ll go down the path of holiness and perfection.”
Feb 21 17 5:35 AM
Bergoglio’s red hat marked the start of the Francis eraSixteen years ago today, an ailing Pope John Paul II created a record number of cardinals in the consistory of February 2001. Among them were a record number of Latin-Americans, many of whom play key roles in the current pontificate. This is the hour of the 'Class of 2001.'Historians love to pinpoint moments that in retrospect come to be defined as turning points - thresholds beyond which history begins to look different, when one era slides into another.Sixteen years ago today was one of those threshold moments in the life of the Catholic Church, when the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was made a cardinal by St. John Paul II.It was important, of course, for him, the moment he ‘launched’ into the universal Church after decades of relative obscurity. But it was equally important for the regional Church that now, arguably, is the dynamic reference point for the universal Church.It was the moment when Europe lost its dominant place in the college of cardinals. The Europeans were still the largest single block of electors (65), but they were outnumbered for the first time by non-Europeans. And of those, the Latin Americans were by far the biggest block - 27 red hats following the February 2001 consistory, while North America, Africa and Asia had 13 each, and Oceania four.Many of those Latin-American cardinals are now major players in the Francis pontificate, to the point where it’s possible to talk of a ‘class of 2001.’Two of the members of the pope’s council of cardinals (the “C9”) are from that class: its chair, Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras, and Francisco Javier Errázuriz of Santiago de Chile. Then there’s Claudio Hummes, the emeritus archbishop of São Paolo, Brazil - the one who whispered “don’t forget the poor” to Bergoglio on the afternoon of his election as pope - who heads the Brazilian bishops’ mission to Amazonia, and remains a Francis confidant.The other Brazilian of that class of 2001, Gerardo Majella Agnelo of Bahia, was president of Brazil’s bishops’ conference at the same time that Bergoglio headed the Argentine bishops’ conference.One could go on: Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima, Peru is today one of the cardinals in Francis’s Council for the Economy, although not a natural Francis ally; Julio Terrazas Sandóval, the Bolivian cardinal who died in 2015, and who was close to Francis; and of course Bergoglio’s great friend in Rome, the Argentine head of the Vatican library, Jorge María Mejía, who played a crucial role in getting the Jesuit made a bishop in 1992 in the teeth of the opposition at the time of the secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano.Mejía, who had a heart attack the day Francis was elected, died in Rome in 2014, having lived to see the change of era.Three others given red hats that February day in 2001 were Europeans who would be strong advocates of Bergoglio being made pope, first in 2005 and again, crucially, in 2013: Cormac Murphy-O’Connor of Westminster, the theologian Walter Kasper, and Karl Lehmann of Mainz. They were all increasingly fixed on Bergoglio as the heir to the reformist mantle of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini of Milan.The two Americans elevated in that consistory would also fall strongly behind the idea of the archbishop of Buenos Aires as pope: Edward Egan of New York, and Theodore McCarrick of Washington.This was the generation of cardinals entrusted with designing the post-John Paul II era. The Polish pope already had Parkinson’s, and the next four years were the incubator of the problems that Benedict and now Francis would have to tackle, above all centered on money and sex abuse scandals.For those receiving red hats that year, Vatican centralism and the decay in Roman curial culture were constant topics of discussion. They were the themes broached by the cardinals when Pope John Paul called them back to Rome for a two-day consistory in May 2001, and by the bishops at the synod in October that year, which ironically discussed the role of the bishop but excluded the topic of episcopal collegiality.Bergoglio would come to play a significant role in that synod after its relator or chair, Egan, had to return to New York to deal with the aftermath of 9/11.Around one in five of the synod delegates had touched on the question of Vatican centralism, but the curial official in charge of the synod, Cardinal Jan Schotte, ordered that the summaries of their remarks be excised from the final report. Bergoglio won high praise for deftly navigating the narrow space between delegates’ concerns and curial control.For most of us journalists covering that synod, Bergoglio did not look like the type who would rock the boat. He impressed us with his clarity and conciseness, but seemed shy and out of place (he was reluctant to speak Italian, for example), so we mistook him for a safe pair of hands.But in retrospect, when he said that the theme of collegiality “exceeds the specific limits of this synod” and should be tackled “elsewhere and with adequate preparation” he wasn’t following Schotte’s line but marking his distance from it. Looking back, the Class of 2001 knew what had to be done - and the archbishop of Buenos Aires was increasingly singled out as the one to do it.The veteran Vatican commentator Sandro Magister, for example, noted in 2002 how Bergoglio was increasingly spoken of in Rome as papabile. “The Latin-American cardinals are increasingly focused on him, as is Joseph Ratzinger,” Magister recorded.As it turned out, it would be Ratzinger, not Bergoglio, who was elected after John Paul’s death. But no one would do more for the Latin-American Church than Benedict, who in 2006 gave the go-ahead for what Sodano had sought to prevent: a general conference of the continent’s episcopate.Aparecida, Brazil, in May 2007, marked the coming-of-age moment of the Latin-American Church, and the archbishop of Buenos Aires - unanimously elected to head the drafting commission - wrote what would be, looking back, the agenda for the Francis pontificate.The ripples made by a stone landing in water can go far and wide. The Jesuit archbishop’s 2001 red hat is just such a stone, and whatever people’s view of Francis, all can agree that the ripples are today everywhere.
Feb 22 17 6:18 AM
Humanity’s greed and selfishness can turn creation into a sad and desolate world instead of the sign of God’s love that it was meant to be, Pope Francis said.Human beings are often tempted to view creation as “a possession we can exploit as we please and for which we do not have to answer to anyone,” the pope said Feb. 22 at his weekly general audience.“When carried away by selfishness, human beings end up ruining even the most beautiful things that have been entrusted to them,” the pope said.As an early sign of spring, the audience was held in St. Peter’s Square for the first time since November. Despite the chilly morning temperatures, the pope made the rounds in his popemobile, greeting pilgrims and kissing bundled-up infants.Continuing his series of talks on Christian hope, the pope reflected on St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, which expresses the hope “that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption.”St. Paul, the pope said, reminds Christians that creation is a “marvelous gift that God has placed in our hands.”Through this gift, he said, “we can enter into a relationship with him and recognize the imprint of his loving plan, which we are all called to achieve together.”Sin, however, breaks communion not only with God but with his creation, “thus making it a slave, submissive to our frailty,” the pope said.“Think about water. Water is a beautiful thing; it is so important. Water gives us life and it helps us in everything. But when minerals are exploited, water is contaminated and creation is destroyed and dirtied. This is just one example; there are many,” he said, departing from his prepared remarks.When people break their relationship with creation, they not only lose their original beauty, he said, but they also “disfigure everything surrounding them,” causing a reminder of God’s love to become a bleak sign of pride and greed.St. Paul tells believers that hope comes from knowing that God in his mercy wants to heal the “wounded and humbled hearts” of all men and women and, through them, “regenerate a new world and a new humanity, reconciled in his love,” Pope Francis said.“The Holy Spirit sees beyond the negative appearances for us and reveals to us the new heavens and the new earth that the Lord is preparing for humanity,” the pope said.“This is the content of our hope. A Christian does not live outside of the world; he knows how to recognize the signs of evil, selfishness and sin in his own life and in what surrounds him,” he said. “But at the same time, a Christian has learned to read all of this with the eyes of Easter, with the eyes of the risen Christ.”
Feb 22 17 4:31 PM
Feb 23 17 6:15 AM
The Pope sends his emissaries “grocery shopping” among retailers victims of the earthquakeUnder the advice of Francis, the Papal Almoner went to Amatrice and Ascoli, central Italy, to buy food (and a tractor) from small producers thrown into crisis by the earthquake. All purchased local food will be served to the poor in the Vatican’s soup kitchens.It was Pope Francis’s will to help small producers and retailers from the earthquake area. In recent days, Bishop Konrad Krajewski - accompanied by another Vatican prelate, Bishop Piero Marini - has gone to some of the towns affected by the earthquake in central Italy to buy locally produced food as one way to help people who are still recovering from the earthquake effects. The Pope’s emissaries have so far been to Amatrice and Ascoli. This news was reported on online newspaper Rieti Frontiera “The Holy Father has sent emissaries “grocery shopping in the areas affected by the earthquake” “to supply” Vatican’s “soup kitchens”. On Monday February 20, Krajewski was accompanied by Bishop Domenico Pompili and by diocesan Caritas workers to Pinaco, in Antonio Aureli’s farm, and to the sausage factory Accumoli Sano, to stock up on pasta, cheese, wine, bacon and ham. “Grocery shopping” was also an opportunity to spend time with the local people. “Right now we can no longer produce any kind of cheese, because the cheese factory has fallen apart and bureaucracy is slowing down its relocation- Maria Grazia Nibi of” Casale Nibbi” says- while we are forced to sell off our organic milk for 0.35 cents a liter”. Not to mention that the company has lost its three employees: “They ran away and nobody else wants to come, because there are no safe houses where they can sleep.” The next day, February 21, Krajewski and Archbishop Giovanni D’Ercole visited the area of Ascoli and, once again went “grocery shopping”. All local food purchased by Office of Papal Charities on behalf of the Pope was delivered on the same evening of Monday and Tuesday to canteens serving meals to the poor of Rome. Thursday, February 23 Archbishop Krajewski completed the tour by visiting the diocese of Camerino-Sanseverino and Spoleto-Norcia. A press release by the Papal Almoner explains, “We have identified groups of farmers and producers whose holdings are likely to close due to the damages caused by the earthquake. The Office of papal Charities proceeded to buy a large amount of their products with the intention, expressed by the Holy Father, to help and encourage them in continuing their activities. A gesture in line with the Magisterium of Pope Francis who often recalls, “when you do not earn bread, you lose your dignity.’ “In the earthquake area of Ascoli the Almoner has also purchased a tractor from a family of farmers in difficulty. “For some time also at Annona, Vatican City’s supermarket reserved for Vatican employees - the statement concludes - some typical products of the earthquake area can be bought, an effort to support and restart the economy of central Italy’s still struggling areas.”
Feb 24 17 4:35 AM
Feb 25 17 5:32 AM
Pope, top Curia officials launch new style of 'ad limina' visitVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- For decades, the visits bishops are required to make to the Vatican were known for their formality and routine style, but Pope Francis launched "a whole new style of 'ad limina' visits," a Chilean bishop said.The bishops were expecting "to have a long meeting with a speech and then individual meetings," as in the past, Auxiliary Bishop Fernando Ramos of Santiago, secretary of the Chilean bishops' conference, told Catholic News Service Feb. 24.Instead, the Vatican informed the prelates before their departure from Chile that they were going to have a group meeting with the pope and the prefects of several Vatican congregations and offices."We were told that this was going to be a new way of doing things that was beginning with us, that looks for a more fruitful, more incisive dialogue between the representatives of the local churches and the pope with his main collaborators," Bishop Ramos said.After spending three hours with the pope Feb. 20, the Chilean bishops met again with Pope Francis Feb. 23. At the second meeting, the pope and Chilean bishops were joined by several top officials, including: Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state; Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America; and Cardinal Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.Also present at the meeting were: Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect for the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life; Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education; Cardinal Beniamino Stella, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy; and Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.Bishop Ramos told CNS that Cardinal Ouellet began the discussions, which focused on four principal themes: communion and collegiality within the church; the mission of the church in Chile; how to help clergy, religious men and women as well as the laity "in their Christian lives and in their pastoral service"; and pastoral guidelines for the future."It wasn't about speaking about little things or a little problem over here," he said. "This was more of a way of looking at everything together, for them to listen to our opinions and (we to listen to theirs) on these principal themes.""It was something completely different," Bishop Juan Ignacio Gonzalez of San Bernardo, member of the permanent committee of the Chilean bishops' conference, told CNS."It was truly something wonderful from the perspective of collegiality, of synodality, of the church walking together. This doesn't just respond to the realities in Chile, it's a whole new (approach) that begins now."Bishop Ramos told CNS that although the bishops knew about the meeting with the pope and Vatican officials before they left Chile, they found out only when they arrived in Rome that Pope Francis wanted to meet with them privately as well.After celebrating Mass at the tomb of St. Peter Feb. 20, the bishops were welcomed to the library in the Apostolic Palace by the pope."As we were seated around him," Bishop Gonzalez said, "the pope -- in his Argentine manner of speaking -- told us: 'Well, the soccer ball is in the center. Whoever wants to and is brave enough, give it a kick." (The Argentine phrase is: "El que quiera y que tiene la cara mas dura, que le pegue una patada.")Bishop Ramos added that several bishops would speak and the pope would respond. "It was like talking after dinner while drinking some Bacardi, in a manner of speaking," he said.Bishop Gonzalez said at a certain point, a bishop said, "'Holy Father, it's a little bit hot in here, can we open a window?' The pope said, 'Yes, of course' and stood up. The bishop said, 'No, no don't worry, Holy Father, I'll open it."Bishop Ramos and Bishop Gonzalez said that the sincere discussion was "a turning point" that led to a more open dialogue at their second meeting with the pope and Vatican officials."It's like that Scripture reading. Paul, after preaching, went to Jerusalem to speak with Peter and tell him what he had done. This is the same. We come to Jerusalem to tell Peter this is what happened and he guides us to see what else we can do," Bishop Gonzalez said.
Feb 26 17 6:23 PM
Feb 27 17 5:01 AM
In the past, we looked at each other “with suspicion and hostility”, today “we recognize ourselves as we truly are: brothers and sisters in Christ.” And as such - as “friends and pilgrims” - “we wish to walk together.” Among neo-Gothic columns and marble arches of the Anglican Church of All Saints, hidden away in what was once known as the “English quarter” of Rome, Francesco - the first Pope to ever enter its fray - shows the path to increase ecumenical relations between Catholics and Anglicans. A past to be left behind and a future to be built together, “free from prejudices”, and with “humility” for the challenges of our time. The Starting point is humility, that “not only is a beautiful virtue,” but “is a matter of identity,” the Pope said. “To become humble is to decentralize, recognize ourselves in the need of God, begging for mercy”. “We are vessels of clay” Pope Francis stated taking cue from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinth. “Good’s mercy is our most valuable good, our treasure.” And added “A treasure in a vessel that can easily crack.” St. Paul is “criticized for his weaknesses,” and “has not always had an easy relationship with the community of Corinth, but he goes beyond the differences of the past” and “does not resign before the divisions and spends himself for reconciliation.” The pope continues in his Homily “St. Paul teaches that only by recognizing ourselves as weak clay vessels, as sinners always in need of mercy, then God’s treasure will poured into us and into others through us. Otherwise, we will only be filled with our own treasures, which become corrupt and rot in seemingly beautiful vessels”. The Pope expressed word of wisdom for the work that the Anglican Capitoline community plays along with other English speaking communities for the poor, the sick and the marginalized of Rome, “A true and solid communion grows and is strengthened when we act together for those in need” he said. On behalf of Catholics and Anglicans, Pope Francis then expressed his gratitude “because, after centuries of mutual suspicion, we are now able to recognize the fruitful grace of Christ is at work also in others.” “We thank the Lord - he adds - because among Christians has grown the desire for a closer relationship, which manifests itself in praying together and in a common witness to the Gospel, especially through various forms of service.” The path towards full communion “may appear slow and uncertain” at times, but today’s meeting wants to give new impetus, Bergoglio said. Arrived on time at 4 pm, the Pope was welcomed by the Rev. Robert Innes, Anglican bishop for Europe, and by Chaplain David Boardman. A large crowd of worshipers and passers had awaited him for a few hours at the front door. The Popes first act in the All Saint’s Church – a former Augustinian monastery - was the blessing with oil and incense of an icon of Christ the Savior specially commissioned for the bicentennial of All Saints to artist Ian Knowles, director of the Bethlehem Center icon. Among the most significant moments of the visit was when Pope replied off the cuff to some questions. After announcing that he is studying a trip to South Sudan with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby , Pope Francis answers to Margherita, a student of art history at the Sapienza, who asked about the relationship between Catholics and Anglicans today. “The relations between Catholics and Anglicans are good!” Exclaimed impetuously Francis, “We see ourselves as brothers and sisters. It is true that in history there have been bad things, however no one can “rip a piece of history and take it as if it were an icon. It is not right; it must be read in the hermeneutics of history. We have moved on. “ “We do not do everything the same way” Bergoglio continued “but we walk together”. He then suggested a formula: “I don’t know whether it can be said historically, but it will help us understand: with two steps forward and half a step back, but we do have to move on. And we have to continue like this. For the moment it is fine, every day has its concerns. “ The second question was asked by Jane, Australian professor of English at the Sapienza who cited Benedict XVI’s admonition on the risk of giving, in ecumenical dialogue, priority to collaboration within social action rather than following the most demanding path of theological agreement. Bergoglio replied, “I do not know the context in which Benedict XVI has said this, and it’s hard for me to answer.” Then he cited Athenagoras “famous joke,” to Paul VI: “We shall work towards unity among us and leave all theologians on an island so they can think”. What is the core? “What Benedict said is true: we must look for the theological dialogue to seek the roots of the sacraments and other things on which we disagree,” the Argentine Pope said. “But this cannot be done in a laboratory; it has to be done on the way... We are walking on the way and on the way we can also discuss.” Meanwhile, “we help each other in need, in life, in the service of charity to the poor, in the hospitals, in wars. The Ecumenical dialogue is done while walking on the way, theological things are discussed on the way. “ Finally, the Bishop of Rome, encouraged by Ernst, a Nigerian seminarian soon deacon, welcomes the “vitality” and “creativity” of the young churches of the southern hemisphere, from which - he says - the churches in Europe could take example. “Young Churches have a different vitality because they are young. They are looking for a way to express themselves differently. For example, a liturgy here in Rome or in London or Paris is not the same as an “in Africa. “Young churches need to collaborate” and “Ecumenism for them is easier,” admits the Pope. This does not mean being “superficial”, they do not negotiate faith.” It simply means, “They have more courage than us who are not so young.” And from this new “wealth”, Europe could benefit. Precisely for this reason, according to the Pope, “it would do well to send some seminarians to do pastoral experiences in the young churches, and vice versa. It would be a great wealth. “ At the end of the function, there was the official signing of an agreement formalizing a partnership between the Church of All Saints and the Catholic parish of All Saints in Rome. “A good sign,” says the Pope, of the will to move towards full communion. Another “good sign” were the gifts given to the Pope. The Anglican community offered its typical products: homemade orange marmalade and “Simnel cake”, a cake on top of which there are 11 dough balls, which represent the twelve apostles minus Judas.
Feb 27 17 7:35 AM
Argentine attorney representing workers stays friends with Pope Francis"The pope says he's the servant of the servant of the people of God. So he never asked us to do anything. He may well disagree with 70 percent of our actions or our work. He just encourages this idea of people self-organizing. The other is our job and our decision," said Juan Grabois of the Confederation of Workers of the Popular Economy in Buenos Aires.MODESTO - Grass-roots organizing that seeks to overcome what Pope Francis has called “the economy of exclusion” is vital to the work of the Catholic Church, said an Argentine attorney who has stayed friends with the pontiff for a decade.“We are helping church, the institutional church, if you want to say, in this mission because church is like an iceberg,” said Juan Grabois of the Confederation of Workers of the Popular Economy in Buenos Aires, the pope’s hometown.“It’s imperative (to organize). We see the bishops, maybe the priests, maybe the pope, but the real church is the holy people of God, which is at the bottom. We are helping the tip of the iceberg to do its job.”Grabois chose strong words during a media briefing Feb. 18 to explain the work of his organization and dozens of others that gathered for the U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements in California’s Central Valley.He said the efforts of popular movements is needed in a world where people are being left by the wayside in an economy in which a privileged few accumulate great wealth.He also stressed that the widespread crackdown on unauthorized people in the U.S. poses moral questions for the Catholic Church on how it will react to protect those threatened with deportation.The threat to immigrants and families has existed for years and extends from an unjust social structure that allows racism to remain in place worldwide, said Grabois, who was named a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace by Pope Francis in November.“Now it’s worse. But racism, this problem of raids, is not a new problem,” Grabois said. “Now there are people who say it in a non-politically correct way. The problems are not going to be solved with euphemisms and supposedly solidarity systems.“The same power structure that causes the real roots of forced migrations, of violence, of imprisonment, of racism, they are intact and they’re here for at least 25 years. So they are structural problems. It’s not just a problem of the last three weeks or last two months,” he said.Grabois, 33, told Catholic News Service he met Pope Francis when confederation leaders decided to invite then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio to an action to protest the treatment of Bolivian textile workers at a Buenos Aires factory about 10 years ago.“We asked him one time to come. We sent a letter, but with not great hopes and not great interest,” Grabois recalled.“He didn’t come, but he called us. We had a conversation (about) what social movements were doing, the new forms of discrimination, exclusion. We were very surprised by his approach. For instance, (he saw the) pandemic of crack in Buenos Aires as something designed, not something accidental. He spoke about the planned extermination of slum-dweller boys. So we started having a relationship from that moment onward,” he said.Occasionally, Grabois would meet the future pope, walking with him to the bus or the subway and discussing the progress on a campaign or efforts to press for worker rights.Grabois’ contact with the pope has been less frequent since Cardinal Bergoglio’s election as pontiff in 2013. He said Pope Francis will call “on very special occasions, once a year maybe.”Still, Grabois, said, the mainstream media in Buenos Aires has been critical of the former cardinal, charging that he directs the confederation’s protests. The attorney called such pronouncements nonsense.“He’s not my boss. I work for the grass-roots movement,” he said.Yet there is a connection with the pope and the guidance he provides counts for something, Grabois added.“The pope says he’s the servant of the servant of the people of God. So he never asked us to do anything. He may well disagree with 70 percent of our actions or our work. He just encourages this idea of people self-organizing. The other is our job and our decision.”
Feb 28 17 5:38 AM
The headline was alarming: "Pope Francis quietly trims sanctions for sex abusers seeking mercy." The reporter, Nicole Winfield of The Associated Press, is one of the most respected in the religion news business. But is it so?The clergy sex abuse story is the ugliest in the recent history of the Catholic church. Under St. Pope John Paul II, a serial abuser like Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder and head of the Legionaries of Christ, was not only unpunished, but he continued to receive support and even adulation at the Vatican. Pope Benedict XVI began a serious crackdown on clergy sex abuse, one of the real achievements of his pontificate.Those of us who have studied the sex abuse crisis know how intimately intertwined it is with an unhealthy culture of clericalism. Just last week, the bishops of Australia acknowledged the role clerical culture played in both facilitating the crimes and the cover-up of those crimes. Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen of Parramatta, Australia, himself a victim of sex abuse, was especially withering in his criticism of clerical culture.So, it is surprising to read that Francis, who is astute generally, and especially so in diagnosing the ills of clericalism, would be backsliding on the "zero tolerance" policy that is the keystone in the church's response to the abuse of children. Again, is it so?Francis has made mercy a central theme, indeed the central theme, of his pontificate. I can imagine him asking himself: In all these cases of horrible and criminal actions by men vowed to protect children, where is the mercy? Mercy for the victim? Mercy for the 95 percent of clergy who never abused anyone? And, yes, mercy for the abuser?Francis, and the church he leads, should never, ever apologize for asking where the mercy is in any given situation, even in this horrific one, but I suspect he is astute enough to realize that there is nothing merciful in putting a priest abuser into a situation where he can perpetrate his crimes anew.And that is my problem with Winfield's story. It rests on the assumption that removal from the clerical state, or defrocking, is a more just, and less merciful, penalty. She has sources who tell her so, apparently even some with intimate knowledge of the workings of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles these cases. They told Winfield that in some cases, the congregation recommended defrocking an abuser, and the pope offered clemency in the form of a sentence of a lifetime of prayer and penance and no public ministry.Winfield writes of one such case, that of Italian Fr. Mauro Inzoli:The Inzoli case is one of several in which Francis overruled the advice of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and reduced a sentence that called for the priest to be defrocked, two canon lawyers and a church official told AP. Instead, the priests were sentenced to penalties including a lifetime of penance and prayer and removal from public ministry.Why is "a lifetime of prayer and penance and removal from public ministry" a "reduced sentence"? Because, in the clerical culture, which is not unknown in the Vatican Curia, there is nothing worse than being defrocked.But why do the rest of us see the one penalty as more severe, and therefore more appropriate, than the other?The key objective is to prevent further abuse. If a priest is defrocked, he is cut loose. I can see why a diocese might wish to be rid of the problem, but say there is a priest who is defrocked because a church investigation found credible evidence of abuse, but there were no criminal proceedings.What is to prevent the abuser from applying for a job that puts him in proximity to children? Sometimes, if the church finds the priest guilty of abuse but he refuses to cooperate with church authorities, there is no recourse but to defrock him. But by consigning him to a monastery, far from children, those authorities can make sure he is never again placed in a situation where he might abuse children. If the priest refuses to accept and abide by the terms set for his being monitored, the church's authorities will reopen the case, send it back to the doctrinal congregation, and he can be defrocked. This is akin to house arrest, and if he violates the terms, he can still be removed from the clerical state.The issue of mercy should not be confused with the issue of prevention. An abuser who goes to confession and demonstrates contrition and firm purpose of amendment should be granted absolution, yes? Perhaps, for a variety of personal reasons, a cleric who has abused children would prefer a life of penance and prayer at a monastery. He may not want to have to find a job. He may not want to enter into the secular world. He may be truly sorry for his sins.Whatever his reasons, the concern of the church to prevent the possibility of further abuse is better served by consignment to a monastery than by defrocking. If that is seen as "reducing" a sentence, so be it. If that is seen as leniency, so be it. If that is seen as mercy, so be it.In the past two months, Francis has done three things that make me think he is not interested in coddling clerical abusers. First, just this month, he published comments in the introduction to a book by Daniel Pittet, a Swiss victim of clergy sex abuse, in which the pope called such abuse "a monstrosity."Second, he appointed Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the church's cavalry on the issue, to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.Third, in late December, he sent a letter to all the bishops of the universal church calling for zero tolerance of clergy sex abuse.Previously, he took the step that even Benedict had not taken, establishing a process for removing bishops who were negligent in handling clergy sex abuse cases. These actions simply do not add up with the narrative emerging now.Let me offer a different interpretation. First, officials at the doctrinal congregation, like officials at the State Department, get upset when the boss doesn't take their recommendation. And, as mentioned, to them the worst thing that can happen to a priest is to be defrocked. They are feeding the narrative because it justifies their original recommendation.Second, and more dangerously, those who oppose the Holy Father for other reasons are perfectly willing to use the issue of clergy sex abuse, mindful of its explosive potential, to derail this papacy.There is a final reason that the narrative that Francis is backsliding has legs. There is a side of us that does not want to believe that there is mercy available to the perpetrators of clergy sex abuse. We want punishment, and the more severe the punishment, the better.I sympathize with the desire, but I am more desirous of solutions to individual cases that hold the best chance at preventing further abuse. A priest who has been defrocked can avail himself of God's mercy. A priest confined to a monastery and no public ministry can avail himself of God's mercy. God's mercy is limitless. But let's not allow God's mercy to be confused with the different issue, which is preventing further abuse.This wonderful pope, who is so committed to extending mercy to all in the name of God, the Father of Mercies, does not strike me as singularly naive when it comes to clergy sex abuse. If he grants an abuser one sentence rather than another, I do not care if that is seen as clemency. I care that it keeps the priest from abusing anyone else. I suspect the pope sees it that way too.
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