Vatican news

ACI Prensa's latest initiative is the Catholic News Agency (CNA), aimed at serving the English-speaking Catholic audience. ACI Prensa (www.aciprensa.com) is currently the largest provider of Catholic news in Spanish and Portuguese.
  1. Vatican City, Dec 11, 2019 / 04:08 pm (CNA).- Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said Tuesday that he would be willing to hold the hand of someone dying from assisted suicide, and that he does not see that as lending implicit support for the practice.

    Paglia spoke at a Dec. 10 press conference preceding a two-day symposium on palliative care, being sponsored by the Pontifical Academy for Life and the WISH initiative, part of the Qatar Foundation.

    Answering a question about assisted suicide and whether a Catholic or a Catholic priest can be present at someone’s death by assisted suicide, Paglia told a small group of journalists that he would be willing to do so, because “the Lord never abandons anyone.”

    “In this sense, to accompany, to hold the hand of someone who is dying, is, I think a great duty every believer should promote,” he said, adding that believers should also provide a contrast to the culture of assisted suicide.

    “I believe from our perspective, no one can be abandoned, even if we are against assisted suicide because we do not want to do death’s dirty work,” he said.

    Last week, the Swiss bishops released guidance on pastoral care regarding assisted suicide. The document said pastoral caregivers should not be present during a person’s death by assisted suicide.

    Asked his thoughts on directives such as these, Paglia responded, “Let go of the rules. I believe that no one should be abandoned.”

    “I would like to remove the ideology from this situation,” he said.

    Paglia added that it is a “cruel society” which tries to justify assisted suicide, or which abandons those not deemed “good” enough.

    Suicide is a “great defeat” for society and can never be transformed it into “a wise choice,” he said.

    In addition to discussions on assisted suicide, the Dec. 11-12 Vatican conference will include presentations by representatives of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism on the topic of medical ethics, the mental health of the elderly, and interreligious cooperation to incorporate spirituality into palliative care.
     

     

  2. Vatican City, Dec 11, 2019 / 02:40 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis praised Wednesday the courage of the Ruthenian Eparchy of Mukachevo, which emerged from hiding 30 years ago after persecution in Soviet Ukraine.

    Pilgrims from the eparchy met with the pope in St. Peter’s Basilica Dec. 11 in celebration of the anniversary.

    “I am happy to welcome you to the tomb of Saint Peter, and together with you I wish to thank the infinitely good Lord who with His powerful hand freed your Church from the long oppression of the Soviet regime,” Pope Francis said in their meeting.

    “I also wish to remember your ancestors, grandparents and grandmothers, fathers and mothers, who in the intimacy of their homes, and often under the watchful eye of the hostile regime, risking their freedom and their lives, transmitted the teaching of the truth of Christ and offered to future generations, of whom you are representatives, an eloquent witness of firm faith, of living faith, of Catholic faith,” he said.

    During the decades of Soviet suppression of the Byzantine rite Catholic Churches in Ukraine, 128 priests, bishops, and nuns were put in prisons or sent into exile in Siberia. The eparchy of Mukachevo had 36 priests martyred during the persecution.

    The pope thanked the formerly underground community for their fidelity to Christ in the midst of persecution and martyrdom, saying that “the Church of Mukachevo is the mother of many martyrs, who with their own blood confirmed their fidelity to Christ, to the Catholic Church and to the Bishop of Rome.”

    He recalled the martyred bishop, Blessed Theodore Romzha, “who in the darkest moments of your history was able to guide God’s people with evangelical wisdom and courage.”

    Bl. Romzha was the Ruthenian Bishop of Mukachevo for three years before he was assassinated in 1947 by the NKVD on the orders of Nikita Khrushchev, who was then first secretary of the Communist Party of Ukraine.

    Pope Francis praised Romzha as “a tireless man” who followed the example of Christ the Good Shepherd all the way to the point of giving his life for his flock.

    Two years after Romhza’s death, the Byzantine rite Catholic Churches in Ukraine were completely suppressed by the Soviets, and remained underground for 41 years.

    St. John Paul II beatified Romzha during a pastoral visit to Lviv in 2001.

    Pope Francis said that “On this solemn occasion I pray the Lord to protect the eparchy of Mukachevo from the pitfalls of evil and to bestow every prosperity upon it.”

    “As we approach the Christmas holidays, entrusting your pastors and all of you, dear faithful, to the protection of the Blessed Virgin of Mukachevo, I wish you a Holy Christmas: may the Son of God be born in your hearts,” he said.

  3. Vatican City, Dec 11, 2019 / 12:55 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis said Wednesday that persecution has always been a part of the Church’s life, and that the witness of martyrdom is a blessing for all Christians.

    “Martyrdom is the air of the life of a Christian, of a Christian community. There will always be martyrs among us: this is the sign that we are going on the way of Jesus,” the pope said during his Wednesday audience Dec. 11.

    “It is a blessing from the Lord, that there may be in the people of God, someone or someone who gives this witness of martyrdom,” the pope added.

    The pope mentioned that Christian persecution is on the rise.

    “Today in the world, in Europe, many Christians are persecuted and give their lives for their faith, or are persecuted ‘with white gloves,’ that is, set aside, marginalized,” Pope Francis said.

    A 2019 report from NGO Aid to the Church in Need documented that Christians face persecution from regimes around the world, noting especially such persecution in Iraq and other Middle Eastern countries, India, Nigeria, China, and North Korea.

    “Christian women suffer the most, with reports of abductions, forced conversions and sex attacks,” the report said.

    Pope Francis mentioned that he had been meeting with Ukrainian pilgrims before his weekly public audience, from a Ukrainian diocese with a long history of Chritian persecutions.

    “How persecuted these people were; how much they have suffered for the Gospel! But they did not negotiate their faith. They are example,” the pope said.

    Discussing the apostle Paul, Pope Francis said that in addition to being an evangelist, Paul was “also the suffering witness of the Risen One.”

  4. Vatican City, Dec 11, 2019 / 09:57 am (CNA).- Pope Francis is closely following the news of the Chilean military plane bound for Antarctica that went missing with 38 people aboard, the Vatican Secretary of State said Wednesday.

    The pope “prays to the Lord to give hope in this moment of uncertainty and to sustain the search work and all those who collaborate in it,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin said in a Dec. 11 telegram.

    The military transport plane has been missing since the evening of Dec. 9, when radio contact was lost with the C-130, en route to a Chilean military base off the tip of the Antarctic Peninsula for a maintenance mission.

    The Chilean air force has stated that plane must have crashed, as the aircraft would have run out of gas by Dec. 10. The plane was equipped with four safety rafts for an emergency water landing, according to the AP.

    Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and the United States contributed search apparatus to the Chilean search crew looking for any sign of the plane over the Drake Passage between Chile and Antarctica, but visibility has remained low.

    The plane was carrying 17 crew members and 21 passengers.

    Pope Francis “assures his spiritual closeness to the Chilean people and to all the families,” Parolin said in the telegram sent to Bishop Santiago Jaime Silva Retamales of the Military Ordinariate of Chile.

  5. Vatican City, Dec 10, 2019 / 03:50 pm (CNA).- The Italian businessman responsible for investing millions of Vatican funds owned a stake in an online options trading company fined in 2016 by the Securities and Exchange Commission for misleading investors.

    Raffaele Mincione, through whom the Vatican’s Secretariat of State has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in donations from the faithful, bought in 2015 a 5% stake in EZTD Ltd, an Israeli-based company known as EZTrader.

    Through a privately arranged sale, instead of on the open market, Mincione paid only $.25 per share for his stake in the company, while the publicly listed share price was $5.10. For only $1.6 million, he acquired a stake in EZTD valued on the market at $32 million.
     
    That investment lost 90% of its value after a 2016 SEC finding that the company had misled investors and violated both the Securities Act and the Securities and Exchanges Act. EZTD’s share price dropped to $0.001 after the SEC announced its findings and fined the company.

    EZTD offered American investors a binary options platform, inviting customers to make an all-or-nothing bet on whether a stock would increase in value. The company did not explain the risks of its products, or register in the United States as a broker-dealer, the SEC found.

    Fewer than three percent of the company’s 4,000 account holders made a profit investing through the company, according to the SEC.

    “Not only did the firm fail to register the binary options or register as a broker-dealer to legally sell the investment to U.S. investors in the first place, but it failed to disclose on its trading platforms that there was significantly greater potential for investors to lose rather than earn money,” the SEC said in 2015

    Because his stake in EZTD qualified him as a “beneficial owner,” Mincione was listed in the company’s 2015 SEC filing.

    Mincione’s involvement in multiple Vatican investments has featured in a series of media reports in recent months.

    In 2014 Mincione was managing $200 million for the Holy See’s Secretariat of State through his company Athena Capital, with 55% allocated to “speculative investments,” according to Corriere della Serra.

    Among these, the Financial Times reported Oct. 17 that Mincione used Vatican funds to purchase unrated bonds in another of his holding companies, Time and Life SA, which financed his personal investments, while at the same time charging the Vatican millions of euros in performance and management fees.

    That report raises the possibility that Vatican funds were used to finance Mincione’s stake in EZTD.

    Also in 2014, Mincione’s Athena Capital was used to channel Vatican investment into a 45% share in another Mincione project - the luxury real estate development at 60 Sloane Avenue in London - at a price of 180 million euros, more than Mincione paid for his original investment in the whole building. CNA has reported that the Vatican’s funds for the purchase came from loans from two Swiss banks, and were concealed on Vatican balance sheets in breach of Vatican financial regulations.

    While paying Mincione’s company, Athena, to manage the transaction, the Secretariat of State, under the authority of then sostituto Cardinal Angelo Becciu, decided to purchase the remaining 55% stake in the development from Mincione in 2016, allowing him to clear hundreds of millions of euros in profit on the sale of the second set of shares in the project.

    Although it sold the Secretariat of State 30,000 of 31,000 shares in the project, Minicone’s holding company retained the 1,000 voting shares needed to control the holding company which owned the building. It offered to part with those at greatly inflated prices. That sale was eventually arranged through – according to Italian media – another businessman, Gianluigi Torzi.

    Mincione’s estimated profit from managing the deal, excluding profit from selling the building itself, is 60 million euros, with Torzi making a further 10 million from his participation.

    In early 2019, Becciu’s replacement as sostituto, Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, became aware of the details of the deal and sought advice from Rene Brülhart, then the head of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority.

    Vatican Gendarmes executed a raid at the Secretariat of State and AIF offices on Oct. 1 as part of an investigation related to the investment. Five people were suspended as a result, including two Secretariat employees listed as directors of the Vatican’s UK holding company now managing the building investment, London 60 SA Ltd.

    A director of London 60 SA Ltd charged with leading the development project is Luciano Capaldo, a UK resident and UK-Itallian citizen. Capaldo was originally registered with Companies House in London as a Vatican citizen, raising still-unanswered questions about why the Secretariat of State might have conferred Vatican citizenship on a layman living in London.

    Capldo himself has several business links to Torzi. FEG International Assets, a Luxembourg based company formerly run by Torzi, is a major investor in Capaldo’s Italian architecture and development company, Imvest, which was raided by Italian financial authorities in May 2018 on charges of preparation and submission of false budgets.

    FEG and Torzi were named recently in a commercial fraud suit in London’s High Court. Also named as respondents in the suit was Odikon Services PLC, of which Torzi and Capaldo were also directors. Odikon, currently suspended by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority, is a major shareholder in Meti Capital, which is itself the major shareholder in Imvest.

    During a recent in press conference, Pope Francis was asked about the London investment. While confirming that he had personally authorized the October raids, he emphasised that proof of corrupt or illegal activity was “not yet clear,” before concluding that “it passed what passed: a scandal,”

    “They have done things that do not seem clean,” the pope said. Last week, the Holy See press office confirmed that several investments and funds used by the Secretariat of State were under investigation.

    “Lines of enquiry which may help clarify the position of the Holy See with respect to the aforementioned funds and any others, are currently being examined by the Vatican judiciary, in collaboration with the competent authorities,” a statement said.

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