Browsing News Entries
Posted on 10/23/2019 00:19 AM (CNA Daily News)
Washington D.C., Oct 22, 2019 / 05:19 pm (CNA).- The U.S. Secretary of State listed promoting international religious freedom and fighting abortion as among U.S. foreign policy priorities in a Tuesday speech on diplomacy.
In his remarks, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned the second annual Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom hosted by the U.S. State Department in July, with religious leaders and survivors of religious persecution from all over the world in attendance as well as delegations from more than 100 countries.
He also spoke about a joint statement of the U.S. and 20 other countries at a recent meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, “rejecting the claim that abortion is a human right.”
Secretary Pompeo addressed the conservative Heritage Foundation’s President’s Club meeting on Tuesday, at the Marriott Marquis in Washington, D.C.
During his speech on “Trump Administration Diplomacy: The Untold Story,” Pompeo outlined the administration’s foreign policy priorities such as pressuring Iran to curb its nuclear program. Pompeo said that Iran was “the aggressor, not the aggrieved” in the Middle East.
Pompeo also addressed the recent controversy over President Trump’s decision to move U.S. troops away from the Turkey-Syria border. The White House had announced the troop withdrawal as Turkey was beginning a “long-planned operation” into Syria with the stated aims of repelling Kurdish forces in Syria perceived to be a threat to Turkish security, and creating a space within Syria in which to house 2 million Syrian refugees now living in Turkey.
The U.S. ultimately ceded responsibility to Turkey for ISIS militants in the area who had been captured in the previous two years. There have been reports of hundreds of detainees with links to ISIS escaping from camps in the region; around 950 ISIS supporters reportedly escaped one displacement camp in Northern Syria on Oct. 13.
The advocacy group In Defense of Christians warned that the Turkish invasion could prove perilous for around 40,000 Christians in Northeast Syria. On Oct. 14, Trump announced economic sanctions on Turkey for its invasion of Syria.
Pope Francis, in his Oct. 13 Angelus address in St. Peter’s Square, prayed for “beloved and tormented Syria” and “the people of the country’s northeast, who are forced to abandon their houses because of military actions.” He called for the international community to undertake “the path of dialogue to seek effective solutions.”
“It is a complicated story to be sure. The success of the outcome there is not yet fully determined,” Pompeo said on Tuesday.
During a question-and-answer portion of his appearance with Heritage’s executive vice president Kim Holmes, Pompeo explained in greater detail the administration’s strategy in promoting religious freedom.
The U.S. has a “selfish interest” in promoting religious freedom around the world, he said, because “nations that have more religious liberty tend to view the world much closer to the way the United States views the world.”
Pompeo said that his goal is to ensure U.S. ambassadors and embassy staff are trained to promote freedom of religion, saying that “if you travel to visit a U.S. embassy and meet someone on our team, an ambassador or whomever, I would have failed as a leader if they don’t understand that this is a real priority for this administration.”
The administration has even worked to hold U.S. allies accountable on religious freedom in the agency’s annual human rights report, Pompeo said. For example, the State Department’s 2018 report noted abuses in Saudi Arabia including “unlawful killings; executions for nonviolent offenses; forced renditions; forced disappearances; and torture of prisoners and detainees by government agents.”
“We identify every single incident where we found some violation of human rights. So we do it; we list our friends,” Pompeo said.
Other countries “are watching what we’re doing,” he said, “they’re watching how America does this. They’re watching how President Trump addresses this set of issues. And I am convinced that the work we’re doing will enhance religious freedom for millions and millions of people around the world.”
Pompeo was also asked about the creation of an advisory commission to the State Department on human rights.
He answered that he had long been interested in human rights since he studied just war theory as a soldier, and that his interest was influenced by his evangelical Christian faith.
When he entered the State Department in 2018, however, Pompeo said he saw a lack of “clarity” and “grounding” in human rights at the agency.
The aim of the Commission on Unalienable Rights, he said, is to “lay down with clarity not only what these human rights are, these fundamental rights are, but from what it is they are derived, how we got there.” The commission will examine human rights in light of the Declaration of Independence and the UN’s 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
“When you see Venezuela get on the Human Rights Council at the UN, it cries out for a re-examination of these fundamental first principles,” Pompeo said.
The U.S. issued a critical statement in light of Venezuela’s election last week to the UN’s Human Rights Council. Mauritania, a country where slavery is still reportedly practiced, was also elected to the Human Rights Council.
Posted on 10/22/2019 23:07 PM (CNA Daily News)
Poznan, Poland, Oct 22, 2019 / 04:07 pm (CNA).- The Polish Bishops’ Conference has asked Pope Francis to name St. John Paul II a patron of Europe and doctor of the Church.
Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki of Poznan, president of the Polish Bishops Conference, sent the request to the pope on Oct. 22 - the feast day of John Paul II.
“The pontificate of the Pope from Poland was filled with groundbreaking decisions and significant events that changed the face of the papacy and influenced the course of European and world history,” he said, according to Zenit.
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, former archbishop of Krakow and a close friend of John Paul II, supported the request during a conference held by the “Europa Christi” movement, which took place at the Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw from Oct. 19-23.
“Pope Wojtyla’s legacy is a rich, versatile and creative synthesis of multiple paths of human thinking. There is no doubt that it still remains, and will for a long time remain, an important and comprehensive cultural renewal project on a global scale,” Dziwisz said, according to Zenit.
Gadecki said the pontificate of John Paul II was heavily influenced by his rich personality, which possessed a strong love for poetics, philosophy, theology, and mysticism.
He added that John Paul II was an example of holiness and leadership, similar to other patron saints of Europe, like Saints Cyril and Methodius. He said John Paul II, who was pope from 1978 to 2005, experienced the fall of the Iron Curtain and played an important role in the unification of Europe.
“After the unifying and culture-making proclamation of the Gospel by Saints Cyril and Methodius and Saint Adalbert, more than a thousand years later, the fruits of their activities – not only in social but also in religious terms – found their protector and continuator in the person of the Polish Pope,” he said, according to the Catholic Herald.
Dziwisz described the former pope as both modern and classical. Through this balance of tradition and modernity, he said, the saint brought “a huge breath of fresh air to the life of the Church, and through it to the wider universal spaces of broadly understood culture, politics, and science,” the Catholic Herald reported.
“In this regard, the Holy Pope became a real teacher and Doctor of the Church and in it an important guardian of European values, which are the indelible foundation of modern civilization.”
Dziwisz said that John Paull II contributed to not only Christians but non-believers as well. He emphasized the importance of John Paul II’s intercession, especially as the Church and world face difficult times.
“In such difficult and complex times like ours, his intercession with God, which was so beautifully assured by Cardinal Ratzinger at the funeral homily constitutes strong support to all the people of goodwill, and the legacy that he left behind in his writings is the full roadmap outlining good directions for our common journey towards a better world,” he said, according to Zenit.
Posted on 10/22/2019 22:18 PM (CNA Daily News)
Canberra, Australia, Oct 22, 2019 / 03:18 pm (CNA).- A hearing of the Australian Senate was told Tuesday that the government had narrowed the purview of an independent inquiry into the effect of anti-discrimination laws on religious schools and organizations.
The government had asked the Australian Law Reform Commission in April to report on how to balance competing claims of religious freedom rights and LGBT rights. In recent years, Australia has seen debate over religious freedom with respect to the seal of the confessional, hiring decisions, and same-sex marriage.
Sarah Derrington, president of the ALRC, told a Senate hearing Oct. 22 that the government had in August limited the commission's field of inquiry and delayed its report.
“The terms of reference as originally drafted were quite narrow in any event but they are narrower again,” she said, according to the AAP.
The ALRC was to have published a discussion paper on its findings in November, but the government directed that it be pushed back at least eight months.
It was also told to confine its recommendation to laws other than the religious discrimination bill, and ensure that legislation on sex discrimination and employment are consistent with the bill.
Derrington said that as a result, she has paused the commission's inquiry.
The religious discrimination bill is intended make it unlawful to discriminate against people on the ground of their religious belief or activity; establish a religious freedom commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission; and amend existing laws regarding religious freedom, including marriage and charities law, and objects clauses in anti-discrimination law.
The coalition government, which is led by the Liberal Party and includes the National Party, wants to make religious belief and activity a protected class, like race or sex. It also hopes to ensure that groups rejecting same-sex marriage are not stripped of their charitable status.
The bill has faced criticism from both religious groups and LGBT advocates.
Freedom for Faith, a Christian legal think tank, said in September that the bill would have unintended consequences, and urged that it be re-drafted before it is passed.
Among its objections to the bill was that “it does not make much sense to create new exemptions in legislation at the same time as two organisations that report to the Attorney are busily working to reduce or eliminate them,” in reference to the work of the ALRC and the Australian Human Rights Commission.
The Australian bishops' conference has said that while the religious discrimination bill shows promise, it does not do enough to safeguard religious freedom.
Posted on 10/22/2019 21:27 PM (CNA Daily News)
Washington D.C., Oct 22, 2019 / 02:27 pm (CNA).- A coalition of pro-life leaders has sent a letter calling on federal lawmakers to oppose an amendment to a foreign funding bill that would give money to organizations that promote abortion overseas.
The letter, dated Oct. 17, was signed by nearly four dozen pro-life leaders, including the associate director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities and the presidents of the March for Life and National Right to Life.
It was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif).
The Trump administration has already updated the Mexico City Policy into the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (PLGHA) rule, which states that foreign non-governmental organizations may not receive federal funding if they perform or promote abortions as a method of family planning.
However, organizations that exist domestically but do work overseas are still permitted to perform and promote abortions.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) successfully included an amendment in a State and Foreign Operations (SFOPs) funding bill before the Senate left for its October recess. This amendment would increase U.S. international family planning assistance, as well as reinstated funding of the UN’s Population Fund (UNFPA), which the U.S. has declined to support for the past three years.
“We are deeply concerned by the increase of funds for international family planning in the Senate SFOPs bill, which would provide even more money” to domestic organizations that promote abortion overseas, said the letter.
The bill includes $29 million allocated to Pathfinder International, which works with governments to build abortion facilities, as well as $6.7 million to Population Council, an organziation that promotes abortion in rural India, among other groups.
“Senator Shaheen’s amendment is clearly designed to undermine the life-saving policies of the Trump administration,” the signatories said.
In January, President Trump wrote a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), promising that he would veto any legislation that weakens existing pro-life law. The Bipartisan Budget Agreement for Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021 specifically states that there may be no policy changes increasing spending levels relative to the FY 2019 without approval from Congressional leaders and the president.
The Shaheen amendment “must be eliminated in any SFOPs bill going forward,” said the letter. “Consistent with the bipartisan budget agreement, we ask that you reject the Shaheen amendment.”
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony list and leader of the coalition of signatories, said the language in the funding bill is a “nonstarter” and should be dropped under the bipartisan budget agreement.
“We trust that President Trump, Senate Majority Leader McConnell and House Minority Leader McCarthy will continue to stand against efforts to weaken the extraordinary progress made by the Trump administration in implementing pro-life policies internationally by rejecting the Shaheen amendment,” she said.
Posted on 10/22/2019 21:10 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, Oct 22, 2019 / 02:10 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Christoph Schönborn explained Monday that the final document at the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops on the Amazon will be written principally by a team chaired by the synod’s Relator General, Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes.
“The word ‘drafting committee’ is not very clear, in fact, the drafts are from the principal relator and his team. The role of the drafting committee is to give immediate approval of the work the relators do. So we, the drafting committee, don't write the text,” the Austrian archbishop said at a press conference held October 21 in the Vatican press room.
Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican’s press office, told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language news partner, that Hummes and the synod's "special secretaries" are principally responsible for the text of the final report.
“The relator and the special secretaries prepare the draft of the document based on the reports from the 'small groups' and the contributions of the participants during the general sessions. In doing this they are assisted by the 'experts,' included on the list of the Synod participants which was published before the synod began,”
The roles played by various contributors in the drafting process is not entirely clear.
Bishop Erwim Kräutler, emeritus heard of Brazil’s Xingu diocese, told ACI Prensa this week that Hummes, who chairs the drafting team, has not yet read the existing draft of the final document, suggesting it has been principally compiled by “special secretaries” participating in the synod, and by experts and other collaborators.
On Oct. 21, theologian Fr. José Oscar Beozzo told ACI Digital, CNA’s Portguse language news partner, that he was busy “helping with drafting the text” and needed to cancel a scheduled interview.
Beozzo is a well-known proponent of liberation theology in Latin America, a theological approach that has been the subject of several corrections and criticisms by the Vatican’s doctrinal offices.
On Oct. 22, Beozzo told ACI Digital that “the drafting of the document is the responsibility of the bishops, experts, consultants that are in the synod hall. I'm on the outside.”
He added that some Brazilian bishops had asked him to pray the Office of the Martyrs in the Church of Santa Maria in Traspontina during his free time.
The Vatican’s Synod of Bishops on the Amazon is an Oct. 6-27 meeting on the Church’s pastoral and social ministry in the Amazon region, which spans nine countries in South America.
The synod is considering the nature of evangelization in the region, as well as the proposals of married priests in the region and commission women to serve as deacons, and is expected to issue a final report this week, which will constitute a set of recommendations for the consideration of Pope Francis.
A version of this story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Posted on 10/22/2019 18:53 PM (CNA Daily News)
Washington D.C., Oct 22, 2019 / 11:53 am (CNA).- A professional baseball clubhouse might not be considered a particularly religious place today, but one chaplain says the Catholic priesthood is needed—and desired—as much as ever there.
“When I walk in the [clubhouse], they kind of light up a little bit,” Monsignor Stephen Rossetti, a chaplain to the Washington Nationals professional baseball team, told CNA. “It’s not me,” he clarified, “it’s that they see a Catholic priest.”
“I think that the priesthood continues to be a sign that God is with us,” he said. “You see ‘okay, despite how secular this world is, there is a need in all of us to have God as part of our lives’.”
Monsignor Rossetti, who is also a research associate professor at The Catholic University of America’s School of Theology and Religious Studies and former president of the St. Luke Institute in Silver Spring, Maryland, said he has been a chaplain to the Washington Nationals for 10 years.
In that decade, Rossetti has observed the organization from the inside during its low point of floundering last-place finishes in 2009 and 2010, its ascendancy to one of the winningest clubs in Major League Baseball from 2012 through 2019, four disheartening first-round playoff exits, and now the pinnacle of success.
On Tuesday night, the Nationals will be introduced to the “Fall Classic” as they are set to play in their first World Series game since the organization moved to Washington, D.C. from Montreal in 2005. They will be facing off against the Houston Astros.
The television broadcast of the Nationals’ World Series-clinching win last Tuesday evening showed Monsignor Rossetti in the General Manager’s booth, intently watching the game.
What is it like being a chaplain to a professional sports team? One thing that must be considered, Rossetti told CNA, is that the 162-game baseball season from April through September—not counting the October playoffs or Spring Training which runs around six weeks in February and March—is a “grind,” and the players are “human beings” with needs like everyone else.
“It’s a lot of pressure. These guys, most of them are in their twenties, and the world’s watching them,” Rossetti said. “I just try to be supportive.”
Catholic players may have their home parishes elsewhere, but as they spend much of their time at or near the stadium during the season, Rossetti administers the sacraments as any parish priest would, celebrating Sunday Mass, hearing confessions, baptizing babies, or teaching marriage prep.
However, he also seeks to evangelize any way he can, whether through speaking an encouraging word, asking players about their families, or giving them blessings.
“If you’re waiting for people to come into your church, some will, but most people won’t,” he said. “So I think that a key point is that we try to go where people are and bring Church to them.”
Rossetti has found that the players to whom he ministers, Catholic or not, love to receive blessings. “They want to be blessed, and they can feel like it’s a sign that God still loves them and supports them and wants to give them His help,” the priest said.
“God blesses people through the Church,” he said. “They want to be prayed with, they want to be prayed over.”
Rossetti is the author of the book The Priestly Blessing: Rediscovering the Gift, in which he writes about the history and power of priestly blessings, what the Church teaches about blessings and sacramentals, and the importance of rediscovering blessings and sacramentals as a part of everyday life.
Priestly blessings, he said, are a key part of the mission of the priesthood—yet one that might be overlooked by many Catholics today.
“Despite our weaknesses as a Church,” he said, “there still is this notion—which I think is true, the Vatican Council supported it—there is a ‘sacred power’ to the priesthood.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1667 says that sacramentals “are sacred signs instituted by the Church,” which “prepare men to receive the fruit of the sacraments and sanctify different circumstances of life.”
This last line, the sanctification of everyday life, is a characteristic that needs to be rediscovered today, Rossetti said.
Priestly blessings of persons, objects, or places, or sacramentals such as the sprinkling of holy water, are a concrete way “to realize that God wants to be part of our everyday lives, not just Sunday for an hour,” Rossetti said.
Holy water fonts, crucifixes, and prayers before meals used to be more common in homes, he said, and showed that “our total lives were lived in the presence of the Lord” without “compartmentalizing religion.”
One genius of Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on ecology “Laudato Si” was that “it recognizes the sacramentality of creation, the fact that we need to care for it, and it becomes taken up and transformed in some way,” he said.
As the Nationals now turn their attention to the 2019 World Series, Rossetti is excited to be watching - and cheering them on. He described the atmosphere in the clubhouse as nothing short of “electric.”
The 2019 Nationals season has been a roller coaster ride, from the team’s woeful 19-31 record at the beginning to their red-hot finish.
An unofficial team motto is “Stay In the Fight,” adopted from an oft-spoken mantra of team manager Davey Martinez. It fits this year’s team, Rossetti said, because it is often viewed as an underdog to juggernauts like the Dodgers, Yankees, or Astros. “Just when you think they’re down and out,” he said, “they come from nowhere.”
“I’ve never experienced something like this before,” Rossetti said of the clubhouse atmosphere after the team clinched the National League pennant. “The place is on fire.”
Posted on 10/22/2019 18:22 PM (CNA Daily News)
Warsaw, Poland, Oct 22, 2019 / 11:22 am (CNA).- Venerable Stefan Wyszyński, Archbishop of Gniezno and Warsaw from 1948 to 1981, will be beatified in Warsaw June 7, 2020, the city's archbishop announced Monday.
“We have to put the main emphasis on his spirituality, because we know a lot more about Cardinal Wyszyński as a statesman and someone who defended man, the Church, and his homeland,” Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz of Warsaw said Oct. 21.
The beatification will take place in Warsaw’s Piłsudski Square.
“Cardinal Wyszyński was the rock around which Polish Catholicism rallied during the worst periods of communist oppression,” George Weigel told CNA Oct. 22.
Wyszyński “also designed the ‘Great Novena,’ the re-catechesis of the entire country between 1957 and 1966, which laid the religious and moral foundations on which the Solidarity movement was later built,” he said.
Wyszyński was instrumental in the appointment of Karol Wojtyla as Archbishop of Krakow in 1964.
“Wyszyński and Wojtyla had different visions of the Church – Wojtyla was much more the man of Vatican II – but as Archbishop of Kracow Wojtyla was completely loyal to Wyszyński, never letting the communists play divide-and-conquer,” Weigel said.
“And there is no doubt that Wojtyla shared Wyszyński's view that the Vatican ‘Ostpolitik’ strategy of accommodating communist regimes was serious foolishness,” he added.
Wyszyński is credited with helping to conserve Christianity in Poland during communist rule.
He was placed under house arrest by communist authorities for three years for refusing to punish priests active in the Polish resistance against the government.
“The fear of an apostle is the first ally of his enemies,” Wyszyński wrote in his notes while under arrest. “The lack of courage is the beginning of defeat for a bishop,” he wrote.
The Vatican announced approval of a miracle attributed to Wyszynski’s intercession Oct. 3.
The miracle involved the healing of a 19 year-old woman from thyroid cancer in 1989. After the young woman received the incurable diagnosis, a group of Polish nuns began praying for her healing through the intercession of Cardinal Wyszyński, who had died of abdominal cancer in 1981.
Born in the village of Zuzela in what was then the Russian Empire in 1901, Wyszyński was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Włocławek at age 24, celebrating his first Mass at the Jasna Gora Shrine in Czestochowa. He served as a military chaplain during the Warsaw uprising against the Germans in 1944, and was made Bishop of Lublin in 1946.
In 1948 he was appointed Archbishop of Gniezno and Warsaw, and he was elevated to cardinal in 1953.
Wyszynski died 15 days after Pope John Paul II was shot in an assassination attempt in 1981. Unable to attend the funeral, John Paul II wrote in a letter to the people of Poland, “Meditate particularly on the figure of the unforgettable primate, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski of venerated memory, his person, his teaching, his role in such a difficult period of our history.”
Posted on 10/22/2019 17:00 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, Oct 22, 2019 / 10:00 am (CNA).- The head of the Vatican’s sovereign asset management body has insisted that the Holy See is not headed for financial “collapse.”
Bishop Nunzio Galantino made the comments in response to a book published on Monday by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, which claims that the Holy See is facing a serious cash shortage, and may soon be unable to meet its ordinary operating expenses.
"There is no threat of collapse or default here. There is only the need for a spending review. And that is what we're doing. I can prove it to you with numbers,” Galantino said on Oct. 22.
Galantino is head of the Administration for the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), which oversees the Vatican’s real estate holdings and other sovereign assets.
“The current situation of the administration of the Holy See is no different from what happens in any family or even in the nations of the different continents. At a certain point one looks at what one spends, considers the revenue that comes in, and tries to adjust expenses accordingly."
Nuzzi’s book, “Universal Judgment,” claims to be based on some 3,000 pages of confidential documents leaked to him. He reports that annual donations to the Holy See have fallen sharply, by as much as 40% over the last three years – from 100 million euros to 60 million. At the same time, he also says that the Holy See’s property portfolio failed to register a profit last year, the first time ever. The cumulative effect, Nuzzi claims, is an urgent liquidity crisis in the Vatican’s operating finances.
Speaking in response to the book’s publication, Galatino said that no such crisis exists.
"In fact,” he said on Tuesday while claiming that “the ordinary management of the APSA in 2018 closed with a profit of over 22 million euros.”
Galatino said that any reported loss was due to “an extraordinary intervention aimed at saving the operation of a Catholic hospital and the jobs of its employees.”
Nuzzi also claimed that cardinals and high-ranking Vatican officials were operating secret or numbered personal accounts through APSA. A review of the book in the Italian newspaper La Republica quotes Vatican financial investigators as concluding that "the false bottom in Vatican finances is practically non-eliminable."
Galantino flatly refuted the allegations, saying Tuesday that “I confirm and repeat: APSA has no secret or encrypted accounts. Anyone is welcome to prove the contrary. At APSA, there are also no accounts of physical or juridical persons, except for the dicasteries of the Holy See, related institutions, and the Governorate.”
In an apparent response to recent reports of various Vatican financial deals, including real estate speculation through a Luxembourg-based investment company, the bishop said that management of Vatican assets for a profit is essential to the Holy See’s operations.
“A state that has no taxes or public debt has only two ways to live. Either it invests its own resources to produce an income, or it relies on the contributions of the faithful, even those made to Peter’s Pence,” he said. “Many want the Church to have nothing and then, in any case, to provide fair pay for its workers, as well as to respond to the many needs, first of all those of the poor. It's obvious that it can't be like that.”
Galatino conceded that there was a need for a “spending review” but said that this was already underway.
“There is no need for alarmism about the hypothetical default. Rather, we are talking about an entity that is realizing it needs to contain expenses. This happens in any good family or in any serious state".
The reference by Galatino to an “extraordinary intervention” by APSA appears to be a reference to reports that APSA had written off 30 million of a 50 million euro loan to the Istituto Dermopatico dell’Immacolata, a scandal and corruption hit hospital formerly owned by the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Conception and bought out of government bankruptcy administration by a foundation co-owned by the order and the Vatican Secretariat of State in .
The purchase of the hospital by the non-profit Fondazione Luigi Maria Monti was intended to rescue the hospital from closure and stabilize its operations after years of financial scandals leading to between 400-800 million euros of debt, forcing it into state-administered insolvency.
The hospital was at the center of a public disagreement between the Vatican and the American-based Papal Foundation, which was asked in 2016 to make a grant of $25 million to the hospital to ease liquidity problems.
After the foundation approved the grant in December 2017, an initial $13 million was sent to the Vatican. Subsequently the grant came under intense scrutiny and then opposition from lay trustees and benefactors, who claimed that the size and purpose of the grant was outside of the foundations scope of operations, and that the board had been misled about the financial state of the hospital.
The grant request was later withdrawn by the Holy See at the request of Cardinal Wuerl, who had led the presentation of the plan to the board.
Posted on 10/22/2019 16:05 PM (CNA Daily News)
Vatican City, Oct 22, 2019 / 09:05 am (CNA).- Cardinal Peter Turkson said Monday that the ordination of married men will likely be the subject of further study for the universal Church after the Amazon synod.
“This issue will probably be made the subject matter of a more detailed study of the issue with view to the Church taking a consistent position, not only in view of the Amazon, but in view of the universal Church,” Turkson told EWTN News Nightly Oct. 22.
During the special assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Church’s life and ministry in the Pan-Amazonian region, being held in Rome Oct. 6-27, several bishops have proposed the possibility of the ordination to the priesthood of so-called viri probati – a term used to refer to mature, married men – for ministry in remote areas of the Amazon.
Turkson, the Prefect of the Vatican’s the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, said that the challenges in the Amazonian region are similar to challenges faced in other parts of the world.
“The situations in the Amazon are pretty similar to those in the Congo. In both cases, accessibility is very difficult and reduced, communication is tough, and if you want to get to places either by road or by river those challenges are there,” said Turkson, who is originally from Ghana.
The African cardinal explained that in the Congo trained catechists are leaders in their local communities, who preach the Word of God, baptize, bury the dead, and serve as extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist.
“But in that case, the guys in the synod here are listening to that and they say that is fine, but they can still can't celebrate the Eucharist,” he said. “They are looking for someone who can, you know, anoint the sick, listen to confessions, celebrate the Eucharist with people, and that, of course, requires ordained ministry, for which, the examples in Africa then come short.”
Turkson’s assessment was underscored during a synodal press conference on Tuesday by Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, Archbishop of Kinshasa, Republic of Congo.
Besunguis participating in the Amazon synod as a representative for the African church, and especially the Congo River basin, which, he said, shares several ecological, political, and pastoral problems with the Amazon region.
Besungu reiterated Turkson’s assessment, saying that “the Amazon is very similar to the Congo basin.”
At a Vatican press conference Oct. 22, Cardinal Besungu said that the African church has organized REBAC, the Ecclesial Network of the Congo Basin Forest, a network similar to REPAM, the South American group that is a driving force behind the Amazon synod.
REPAM, a group backed by the bishops’ conferences in Latin America, describes itself as an advocacy organization for the rights and dignity of indigenous people in the Amazon. The network has been involved in preparations and events leading up to and during the synodal assembly. REPAM’s president, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, holds the position of relator-general of the Amazon synod.
In a meeting between REPAM and REBAC in 2017, held in Brazil, the Church representatives participated in two hour celebration of Mother Earth led by an indigenous woman in which “participants gathered around a tree with many symbols around it,” including a Mayan calendar.
“The aim of this celebration was to connect participants with nature,” according to CPAL, the conference of Jesuit provincials for Latin America and the Carribean. “Many of them believe that they now have a better understanding of the message of Pope Francis in Laudato Si.”
Cardinal Besungu said that the church in the Congo prioritized “inculturation of the Gospel” in response to a perception following the country’s independence that the Catholic Church was seen as an outside force in the immediate post-colonial era.
The most evident result of inculturation in the Congo is a “ritual of the Eucharist which is our own,” Besungu said. “In our country, the Eucharist is a real feast.”
Posted on 10/22/2019 10:30 AM (CNA Daily News)
Rome, Italy, Oct 22, 2019 / 03:30 am (CNA).- The writings of newly-canonized St. John Henry Newman offer important reflections for contemporary society on freedom of conscience and the duty to search for truth, said a leading figure in international religious freedom.
“Newman prefigured the Church’s 1965 Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae,” said Thomas Farr, president of the Religious Freedom Institute.
Farr, who served as the inaugural director of the U.S. State Department’s international religious freedom office in the early 2000s, spoke at a symposium hosted by the Thomistic Institute at the Angelicum University in Rome earlier this month. The event celebrated Cardinal Newman’s canonization on Oct. 13.
Newman was a 19th century theologian, poet, Catholic priest and cardinal. Born in 1801, he was before his conversion a well-known and well-respected Oxford academic, Anglican preacher, and public intellectual.
Farr said that Newman’s well-known phrase, “Conscience has rights because it has duties,” offers an important reminder that we are obliged to form our consciences in truth, recognizing that “our freedom does not give us a moral right to do what is wrong.”
Dignitatis Humanae affirms the right to religious freedom, a freedom from coercion in matters of conscience, Farr said.
He quoted from the document, “God calls men to serve Him in spirit and in truth, hence they are bound in conscience but they stand under no compulsion. God has regard for the dignity of the human person whom He Himself created and man is to be guided by his own judgment and he is to enjoy freedom.”
But while human beings are obliged to follow their consciences, they are also bound to obey God, Farr said.
“An erring conscience that results from our failure to ensure it is ordered to the truth leads to moral culpability,” he remarked. “Willful pursuit of the wrong could lead one into grave sin. A man could follow an ill-formed conscience straight into hell.”
For this reason, Dignitatis Humanae also stresses the Church’s right – and duty – to publicly teach what it holds to be true about freedom, justice, nature and Christ, he said.
Newman well understood the importance of ordering conscience toward truth, as given by God to the Church through the Magisterium, Farr said.
The saint once wrote, “[I]n this age...the very right and freedom of conscience [is seen as the right] to dispense with conscience, to ignore a Lawgiver and Judge, to be independent of unseen obligations.” Conscience, he warned, was being replaced with “self-will.”
In his warnings on conscience, Newman proved to be prophetic, Farr said. Today, Western culture distorts the view of conscience to an even greater degree than in Newman’s time, so that it is no longer oriented toward God, but toward self.
“For many, the obligation to follow one’s conscience has been embraced, but fidelity to truth has been set aside,” Farr said.
This false understanding of “freedom of conscience” has contributed to an atheism and rejection of natural law, he continued.
“This counterfeit view has encouraged, within the Church and without, deep confusion regarding the nature of man and woman as created by God; the beautiful truths about marriage, the family, and human sexuality; and the necessity of religious freedom for all persons and all societies.”
Both modern society and the Church have been harmed by this false view of conscience, Farr said, and both would do well to be attentive to the warnings issued by Newman more than a century ago.
“The errors of our age, far more pervasive than the age of Newman, today place a greater responsibility on the faithful, clergy and lay, to teach and witness these truths,” he said.
“Together, Newman and Dignitatis can help us resist the erroneous notion of the ‘free’ conscience pointed inward to self and isolated from God and nature, rather than outward to God, who, more intimate to self and nature than anyone or anything, is the only guarantor of true freedom.”