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, Nov 12, 2019 / 04:45 am (CNA).- New York bishops will be voting remotely from Rome Tuesday for the election of the next leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

    The 21 bishops from New York State will vote by paper ballot at the North American College in Rome and tune into the video livestream of U.S. bishops’ General Assembly taking place in Baltimore Nov. 10-13.

    A vote in Baltimore on a proposed increase in diocesan payments to the USCCB was declared inconclusive Nov. 11 because 28 of the eligible voting bishops were not present. Once the results of the bishops’ remote votes are called in to Baltimore, the final voting outcome will be able to be announced.

    The New York bishops are in Rome for their ad limina apostolorum visit in which they will meet with Pope Francis and curial officials this week while making a pilgrimage to the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul. These visits are required for all diocesan bishops approximately every 5 years.

    For the first time, the ad limina visit coincides with the U.S. bishops’ General Assembly in Baltimore at which presidential and vice-presidential elections will occur Nov. 12.

    The nominated candidates on the ballot in these elections is Archbishops Timothy P. Broglio of the Military Services, Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee,  Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit, Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Thomas John Paprocki of Springfield (IL), and Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend.

    The first round of voting will elect the president by a simple majority of the bishops. If a candidate does not receive 50%-plus-one of the votes, an additional ballot is taken. If there is still no winner, a run-off between the two bishops with the most votes is held until a winner is determined.

    The elected president and vice-president will each serve a term of three years.

    In addition to the presidential and vice-presidential elections, the members of the USCCB will be voting for the new chairmen of six conference committees: the Committee on Canonical Affairs and Church Governance, Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, Committee on International Justice and Peace, Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, and the Committee for Religious Liberty.

    Following the Nov. 12 vote, the U.S. bishops in Rome will visit the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls where Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo is scheduled to celebrate Mass.

    The Diocese of Buffalo recently underwent an Apostolic Visitation -- a canonical inspection and fact-finding mission ordered by the Vatican -- after a year of controversy surrounded the bishop’s handling of claims of clerical sexual abuse in the northern New York state diocese.

    Cardinal Timothy Dolan will celebrate Mass with the New York bishops in the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica on Nov. 14.

    “I’m being called into the principal’s office! … next week I’ll be examined by the Pope and his closest collaborators in the pastoring of the Church universal,” the cardinal wrote on the Archdiocese of New York website Nov. 6, about the ad limina visit to Rome.

    “While, at the tombs of the apostle Peter and Paul, I’ll pray an act of faith, an act of hope for my continued ministry, and an act of contrition for my multiple failings and I’ll also pray for you,” Dolan said.

     

  2. Baltimore, Md., Nov 11, 2019 / 03:41 pm (CNA).- The results of the Vatican’s investigation of Theodore McCarrick should be published by early 2020, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston told U.S. bishops on Monday.

    “The intention is to publish the Holy See’s response soon, if not before Christmas, soon in the new year,” Cardinal O’Malley said on Monday afternoon

    O’Malley presented a brief update on the status of the Vatican’s McCarrick investigation during the annual fall meeting of the U.S. bishops in Baltimore, Maryland, held from Nov. 11-13.

    Earlier on Monday morning, Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing, Michigan, had requested that an update on the Vatican’s McCarrick investigation to be added to the agenda of the bishops’ meeting. Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, seconded the motion and the bishops approved it by a voice vote.

    The Vatican announced that it would conduct a review of files on McCarrick in October 2018.

    In March 2019, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, said the Vatican was still engaged in its investigation into McCarrick and that the Holy See would issue a declaration once it was finished.

    On Monday, O’Malley provided the update on the Vatican’s investigation shortly after he and other bishops from New England arrived back in the U.S. from a visit with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

    “We were not afraid to bring up the question of the report on Theodore McCarrick, and we insisted on the importance of publishing a response to the many serious questions of this case,” O’Malley said.

    O’Malley sad the New England delegation made it clear to Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin that bishops, priests, religious and the lay faithful in the U.S. were all anxiously awaiting the results of the investigation, of how McCarrick “could become an archbishop and cardinal, who knew what and when.”

    “The long wait has resulted in great frustration on the part of bishops and our people, and indeed a harsh and even cynical interpretation of the seeming silence,” O’Malley added Monday.

    Cardinal Parolin “assured” the U.S. delegation of the Vatican’s original intent to publish its response to the investigation before the U.S. bishops’ November meeting in Baltimore, but the scope of the investigation and quantity of the information discovered in the process necessitated a later publishing date.

    “There is a desire, a commitment, to be thorough and transparent so as to answer peoples’ questions and not simply to create more questions,” O’Malley said of the Vatican.

    The cardinal said he shown a “hefty document” by the Vatican, which is being translated into Italian for a presentation to Pope Francis, with an intended publication by early 2020.

    Reports of McCarrick’s history of sexual abuse were initially made public in June of 2018, when the Archdiocese of New York had announced that a sexual abuse allegation against then-retired Cardinal McCarrick was “credible and substantiated.”

    Subsequent reports of sexual abuse or harassment of children and seminarians by McCarrick surfaced, and Pope Francis accepted his resignation from the College of Cardinals and assigned him to a life of prayer and penance, in July of 2018.

    In August 2018, former apostolic nuncio to the U.S. Carlo Maria Vigano claimed that Pope Francis knew about existing sanctions on McCarrick but chose to repeal them.

    At their November 2018 meeting, just months after settlements of the Archdioceses of New York and Newark of abuse cases involving McCarrick were made public, the bishops were set to vote on a number of measures to deal with the clergy sex abuse crisis including a call for the Vatican to release all documents about McCarrick in accord with canon and civil law.

    However, after the Vatican requested shortly before the meeting that the bishops not take action on the abuse crisis until an international summit of bishops in Rome in early 2019, the bishops did not end up voting on the McCarrick measure because of fears they could be viewed at odds with Rome.

    Pope Francis laicized McCarrick in February 2019, shortly before convening a summit of bishops from around the world on clergy sexual abuse. The Vatican’s accelerated investigation into McCarrick’s case was reportedly an “administrative penal process,” not a full juridical process but one used when the evidence in the case is overwhelming.

    In June, the U.S. bishops’ National Advisory Council unanimously requested the bishops to urge the Holy See to “make public the results of diocesan and archdiocesan investigations of Theodore McCarrick.”

  3. Vatican City, Nov 11, 2019 / 07:01 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Monday called for the renewal and purification of existing economic models to be fair, trustworthy, and capable of extending opportunities to all, not only a few.

    “An inclusive capitalism that leaves no one behind, that discards none of our brothers or sisters, is a noble aspiration,” Pope Francis said Nov. 11 in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

    “A glance at recent history, in particular the financial crisis of 2008, shows us that a healthy economic system cannot be based on short-term profit at the expense of long-term productive, sustainable and socially responsible development and investment,” he said.

    The pope met with members of the Council for Inclusive Capitalism, whose vision he said involves “overcoming an economy of exclusion and reducing the gap separating the majority of people from the prosperity enjoyed by the few.”

    “You have set before yourselves the goal of extending the opportunities and benefits of our economic system to all people,” he said. “An economic system that is fair, trustworthy and capable of addressing the most profound challenges facing humanity and our planet is urgently needed.”

    Pope Francis said that those who engage in business and economic life have “a noble vocation” to serve the common good by creating jobs, increasing prosperity, and working to make the goods of this world more accessible to all.

    “When we recognize the moral dimension of economic life, which is one of the many aspects of Catholic social doctrine that must be integrally respected, we are able to act with fraternal charity, desiring, seeking and protecting the good of others and their integral development,” he explained.

    The pope warned that “an economic system detached from ethical concerns” leads to a “throw away” culture of consumption and waste.

    Pope Francis recalled his meeting in 2016 with participants in the Fortune-Time Global Forum in which he called for “more inclusive and equitable economic models that would permit each person to share in the resources of this world and have opportunities to realize his or her potential.” The pope said that the Council for Inclusive Capitalism was born out of that forum.

    “Rising levels of poverty on a global scale bear witness to the prevalence of inequality rather than a harmonious integration of persons and nations … I encourage you to persevere along the path of generous solidarity and to work for the return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favors human beings,” the pope said.

    “As my predecessor St. Paul VI reminded us, authentic development cannot be restricted to economic growth alone, but must foster the growth of each person and of the whole person,” he said. “This means more than balancing budgets, improving infrastructures or offering a wider variety of consumer goods."

    “What is needed is a fundamental renewal of hearts and minds so that the human person may always be placed at the centre of social, cultural and economic life,” Pope Francis said.

  4. Vatican City, Nov 10, 2019 / 04:10 pm (CNA).- For Catholic couple Austin and Catherine Mardon, mental illness is personal.

    Austin has schizophrenia, Catherine has PTSD, and together they foster children and young adults with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.

    Austin and Catherine have been married since 2003. Both are writers, and their experiences have led them to devote themselves to working on behalf of people with mental illnesses, many of whom, they said, end up without a family and living on the street.

    The Mardons met Pope Francis after the general audience Nov. 6. They were inducted, in 2017, into the Pontifical Order of Pope Saint Sylvester, a papal Order of Knighthood, for their work on behalf of the disabled.

    A native of Oklahoma, Catherine told CNA she has always remembered what one of her childhood teachers, a Carmelite nun, once said: “We don’t help people because they’re Catholic, we help people because we’re Catholic and we're called to do it.”

    “Look around,” she said. There are people in need of love and support all around, but “don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid” to reach out.

    Austin, a Canadian, is an assistant adjunct professor of psychiatry at the University of Alberta.

    A scientist by education, Austin was part of a NASA meteorite recovery expedition to the Antarctic in the 1980s at the age of 24. Unfortunately, the extreme difficulties of the expedition affected him mentally and physically.

    Despite these challenges, he earned master’s degrees in science and education and published more articles and books, before being diagnosed at age 30 with schizophrenia, which he manages with medication.

    He has since also obtained a PhD in geography and continued to publish and speak extensively in the fields of science, mental illness and disability.

    Catherine was previously a lawyer focused on social justice issues, including death row appeals. She also helped the homeless and people with AIDs, and her work brought her into contact with many people struggling with mental illness.

    “I have helped people that most other ordinary people didn’t want to be in the same room with,” she said.

    After testifying in a case, Catherine was brutally attacked, leaving her with physical injuries, a traumatic brain injury, and PTSD. She was no longer able to practice law.

    But Austin and Catherine have taken their sufferings and transformed into an opportunity to help others.

    “When I got hurt and couldn’t practice law anymore, I didn’t just sit on a beach or curl up in a corner somewhere. I started taking care of people. Because that was something I could do, including [helping] a couple of kids who had Fetal Alcohol [Syndrome],” Catherine said.

    The difference between Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and other severe mental illnesses, like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, they said, is that there is no treatment, because it is caused by permanent brain damage before birth.

    The best thing for someone in this situation is early identification and intervention, Austin said, “to give them coping mechanisms to manage it, teach them techniques.”

    “It’s almost like teaching someone who is blind or deaf how to maneuver around a world that they can’t quite perceive,” he said.

    Catherine and Austin discovered, however, that many children and young adults with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome do not get early intervention. In many cases, due to poor family situations or a loss of their parents, they end up in foster care, and then, when they age out of the system, on the streets.

    So, the Mardons started taking some of these teenagers and young adults into their home. They also reach out to other young adults suffering from mental illness. They throw parties for them and invite them over for the holidays.

    “The most important thing when it comes to dealing with the disenfranchised is first you have to recognize their equal human dignity. And secondly, you have to take them where they are,” Catherine said.

    People automatically expect the mentally ill to be scary, she said. “They’re humans.”

    “They want to be invited to Sunday dinner... They want somebody to remember their birthday. They want somebody to invite them to Christmas.”

    The Mardons encourage others to find ways to support young people with mental illness, especially, they said, older adults who either do not have children or whose children are grown.

    Young adults leaving the foster care system are in need of the kind of support a family would offer, they said. While there are charities to provide financial support and resources, these individuals often miss out on the practical advice of a loved one and the chance to form healthy relationships with others.

    “Somebody’s got to take care of them,” Catherine said.

    Austin said what he would like Catholics - both priests and laity - to understand about mental illness is “that today there are effective treatments,” through both medication and therapy.

    He added that some Catholics think mental illness is a character flaw that can be solved by prayer. This is a dangerous misconception, he warned.

    “We don’t say that you should pray instead of take medication for your heart, but many Christians and Catholics believe that [mental illness] is a character flaw…It’s not a character flaw,” he emphasized.

    Austin often speaks on the topic, and he said his faith always informs his advice for people with mental illness or for their family members.

    “I think that faith without action can be very hollow,” he added, “but then action without faith can sometimes be misguided.

  5. Vatican City, Nov 10, 2019 / 05:08 am (CNA).- During the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis led Catholics in praying a ‘Hail Mary’ for peace and reconciliation for South Sudan, whose leaders are locked in disagreement as they try to form a government after a peace deal was struck last year.

    “I address a special thought to the dear people of South Sudan, whom I will have to visit this year,” he said Nov. 10. “The South Sudanese people have suffered too much in recent years and await with great hope a better future, especially the definitive end of conflicts and lasting peace.”

    “I invite you all to pray together for this country, for which I have a special affection,” he added, leading Catholics in praying a ‘Hail Mary’ for the intention.

    Formerly warring South Sudanese leaders, President Salva Kiir Mayardit and opposition leader Riek Machar, are in the midst of trying to form a power-sharing government in the country after signing a peace deal in September 2018.

    The coalition government was supposed to be formed by Nov. 12, but a 100-day extension was granted Nov. 8, because of ongoing disagreement on key issues.

    The country’s Catholic bishops have called the tenuous peace accord in South Sudan “fatally flawed,” because it does not address the root causes of the conflict. The deal was signed following a five-year civil war which took the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

    South Sudan’s civil war also left 2.1 million people internally displaced, and caused another 2.5 million refugees, according to the United Nations.

    In his Angelus address, Pope Francis recalled a spiritual retreat he held at the Vatican in April for the South Sudan political leaders, including Mayardit and Machar.

    During the retreat, the pope made headlines when he performed the unprecedented gesture of kneeling down and kissing the feet of several of the South Sudanese leaders.

    The pope said Nov. 10 he wishes to renew his “invitation to all the actors of the national political process to seek what unites and to overcome what divides, in a spirit of true brotherhood.”

    “I therefore urge those responsible to continue, without tiring, their commitment to an inclusive dialogue in the search for consensus for the good of the nation,” he continued, adding that he hopes the international community will also help South Sudan on the path to national reconciliation.

    Pope Francis also asked for prayers for Bolivia, whose national election, held last month, is being reviewed for irregularities.

    “I urge all Bolivians, especially political and social actors, to await the results of the election review process, which is currently underway, with a constructive spirit of peace and serenity,” he stated.

    In his message before the Angelus, the pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading. In the passage from Luke, a group of Sadducees question Jesus about whose wife a woman will be after death if she was married, consecutively, to seven brothers, bearing no children by them.

    But “Jesus does not fall into the trap,” Francis said. Jesus explains to the Sadducees that “those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise.”

    With this answer, Jesus invites us to think about how the earthly dimension we live in now is not the only dimension, the pope said. “There is another, no longer subject to death, in which it will be fully manifested that we are children of God.”

    “It gives great consolation and hope to hear this simple and clear word of Jesus about life beyond death; we need it so much especially in our time, so rich in knowledge of the universe but so poor in wisdom about eternal life,” he added. “Life belongs to God, who loves us and cares so much about us.”

    “May the Virgin Mary help us to live every day in the perspective of what we affirm in the final part of the Creed: ‘I await the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come,’” he concluded.

    After the Angelus, Pope Francis noted the Nov. 9 beatification of Maria Emilia Riquelme y Zayas in Granada, Spain.

    She was the founder of the Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament and of Mary Immaculate, he said, adding that she “was exemplary in the fervor of Eucharistic adoration and generous in service to the most needy.”

    He asked for a round of applause for the new blessed and for St. Bartholomew Fernandes of Braga, who was canonized in July through an “equivalent canonization,” also sometimes called “equipollent” or “confirmation of cultus,” which is when a pope chooses to waive the usual requirement of a miracle for canonization, because of the holy person’s established life of virtue and their long-standing veneration as a saint.

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