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, Jul 16, 2018 / 11:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a message to Antillean youth, Pope Francis said love is the core of the Church's doctrine on the family, which is something every young person is responsible for carrying forward.

    To understand what this love means, the pope urged young people to both read and study chapter four of his 2016 post-synodal apostolic exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia, which is dedicated to “Love in Marriage.”

    “I tell you that the core of Amoris Laetitiawas chapter four. How to live love. How to live love in the family,” he said, and told youth to read and talk about the chapter with each other, because “there is a lot of strength here to continue going forward” and to transform family life.

    Love “has its own strength. And love never ends,” he said, explaining that if they learn how to truly love as God taught, “you will be transforming something that is for all of eternity.”

    Pope Francis sent a video message to participants in the youth assembly of the Antilles Bishops Conference, which is taking place in the Archdiocese of Saint-Pierre and Fort-de-France, in Martinique, from July 10-23.

    In his message, the pope asked youth whether they were really living as young people, or if they had become “aged youth,” because “if you are aged young people you are not going to do anything. You have to be youth who are young, with all the strength that youth has to transform.”

    He said young people should not be “settled” in life, because being “settled” means one is at a standstill and “things don't go forward.”

    “You have to un-stall what has been stalled and start to fight,” the pope said. “You want to transform, you want to carry forward and you have made your own the directives of the post-synodal exhortation on the family in order to carry the family forward and transform the family of the Caribbean,” he said.

    In order to promote and carry the family forward, one must understand both the present and the past, Pope Francis said.

    “You are preparing to transform something that has been given to you by your elders. You have received the history of yesterday, the traditions of yesterday,” he said, adding that people “cannot do anything in the present nor the future if you are not rooted in the past, in your history, in your culture, in your family; if you do not have roots that are well grounded.”

    To this end, he told youth to spend time with their grandparents and other elderly people, and to take what they learn and “carry it forward.”

  2. Vatican City, Jul 16, 2018 / 10:50 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis appointed Saturday four cardinals as presidents delegate to the synod on youth, which will meet at the Vatican in October.

    His July 14 appointments were Cardinal Louis Raphael I Sako, Chaldean Patriarch of Babylon; Cardinal Désiré Tsarahazana of Toamasina; Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon; and Cardinal John Ribat of Port Moresby.

    Each were appointed cardinal by Pope Francis.

    The presidents delegate will take turns presiding over the synod on the pope's behalf. They are to guide the synod's work, delgate special tasks, and sign the synod's documents.

    The Oct. 3-28 Synod of Bishops on Young People, the Faith and the Discernment of Vocation will address questions of sexuality and gender, the role of women, and the desire for a Church which knows how to listen.

    The synod's instrumentum laboris was issued last month, and key issues highlighted in it include increasing cultural instability and conflict, and that many young people, both inside and outside of the Church, are divided when it comes to topics related to sexuality, the role of women, and the need to be more welcoming to members of the LGBT community.

  3. Vatican City, Jul 15, 2018 / 05:57 am (CNA/EWTN News).- By virtue of their Baptism, every Catholic is called to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ – a mission which cannot be separated from the Catholic Church, Pope Francis said Sunday.

    “It is truly [our] Baptism that makes us missionaries,” the pope said in off-the-cuff comments July 15. “A baptized person who does not feel the need to proclaim the Gospel, to announce Jesus, is not a good Christian.”

    The first necessary element of all authentic missionary discipleship is the “changeless center, which is Jesus,” he said. This is because proclaiming the Gospel cannot be separated from Christ or from the Church.

    Announcing the Gospel “is not an initiative of individual believers, groups or even large groups, but it is the Church’s mission inseparably united with her Lord,” Pope Francis said. “No Christian proclaims the Gospel ‘on his own,’ but only sent by the Church who received the mandate from Christ himself.”

    Speaking during his weekly Angelus address, the pope reflected on the Christian’s mission as seen when Jesus sends out his disciples “two by two” to preach repentance.

    Jesus’ message to his disciples in this episode of the Gospel concerns not just priests, but every baptized person, who is “called to witness, in the various environments of life, the Gospel of Christ,” he said.

    Like the disciples were warned, the message may not be welcomed, but this aligns with what Jesus himself experienced, the pope said, noting that he was “was rejected and crucified.”

    “Only if we are united with him, dead and risen, can we find the courage of evangelization,” Francis said.

    Noting that the center of the mission must always be Christ, he pointed to examples of saints from Rome who are examples of being “humble workers of the Kingdom,” such as St. Philip Neri, St. Benedict Joseph Labre, St. Frances of Rome, and Bl. Ludovica Albertoni.  

    They did not work to advance themselves or their own ideas or interests, but acted always as messengers sent by Jesus, he said.

    Pointing to the Blessed Virgin Mary as “the first disciple and missionary of the Word of God,” the pope concluded by asking her help to bring “the message of the Gospel to the world in a humble and radiant exultation, beyond any rejection, misunderstanding or tribulation.”

  4. Vatican City, Jul 13, 2018 / 12:43 pm (CNA).- A cause has begun in the Diocese of Rome for the beatification of Fr. Pedro Arrupe SJ, former superior general of the Society of Jesus. The priest, who served as a mentor to the future Pope Francis, was a controversial figure within the Society of Jesus.

    Jesuit Father General Fr. Arturo Sosa announced Arrupe’s cause at a meeting in Bilbao, Spain with some 300 Jesuits and lay associates involved with the International Association of Jesuit Universities.

    The news was confirmed to CNA by the communications director for the Jesuit Curia in Rome, Fr. Patrick Mulemi, who said the cause is “has been opened,” but has just begun. “We are right at the beginning of the process,” he said, explaining that the Jesuits will follow the same procedure as any other cause.

    Born in Spain in 1907, Arrupe served as superior general for the Society of Jesus from 1965-1983, leading the order through the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council. During that time, he also served three consecutive terms as president of the Union of Religious Superiors General, from 1967-1982.

    According to papal biographer Austen Ivereigh, who wrote the widely read biography of Pope Francis, “The Great Reformer,” Arrupe and then-Fr. Bergoglio “had a very good and close relationship, and Bergoglio saw him as a spiritual father, he enormously admired him and was inspired by him.”

    It was Arrupe who appointed Bergoglio the Jesuit provincial of Argentina in 1973, and the two remained close. The  made a joint-visit to the Diocese of La Rioja to support Bishop Enrique Ángel Angelelli Carletti, who was assassinated in 1976 during Argentina's Dirty War.

    Arrupe entered the Society of Jesus in 1927 after studying medicine. After the order was expelled from Spain in 1932, he went to study in Belgium, the Netherlands and the United States as part of his formation before being ordained a priest.

    He was ordained in 1936 and obtained a degree in medical ethics before being sent to Japan in 1938 to work as a missionary. While abroad, he became the master of novices for the Jesuit novitiate in Japan, and was living in Hiroshima when the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Aug. 6, 1945.

    With his history in medicine, the young priest converted the novitiate into a makeshift hospital for the wounded. A decade later, in 1958, he was named the first provincial for Japan, overseeing all Jesuits who lived in the country.

    Arrupe held the position until May 1965, when he was elected Father General of the Jesuits during the 31st General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, just six months before the closing of the Second Vatican Council.

    After the council, the Jesuits, who were the largest religious order in the world at the time, shifted focus and embraced a more social-justice oriented approach to their apostolic work, under Arrupe’s direction.

    During the order's 1974-75 32nd general congregation, Arrupe passed a number of new decrees, including one titled: “Our Mission Today: The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice,” which focused heavily on social justice issues and became a blueprint for the Society’s direction.

    Arrupe's changes were met with opposition by many Jesuits, and under his leadership, the order clashed with Pope Paul VI and other Vatican and ecclesial figures.

    In 1973, Pope Paul VI issued a warning to Arrupe about experimentation in the Society of Jesus. Six years later, Pope John Paul II accused the Jesuit leadership of “causing confusion among the Christian people and anxieties to the church and also personally to the Pope,” criticizing in particular “secularizing tendencies” and “doctrinal unorthodoxy” within the order.

    Arrupe acknowledged issues within the Society of Jesus, and made efforts to reprimand some priests accused of public doctrinal deviances. Some in the order questioned whether he should have made systemic changes in responses to papal criticism, rather than issuing individual corrections.

    Within the Society of Jesus, one of the groups who opposed Arrupe's changes called themselves “la vera sociedad,” or “the true society,” and were on the verge of splitting from the order, intending to intervene in the 1974 general congregation meeting until Bergoglio stepped in, at Arrupe’s request, to calm the fury.

    Arrupe, Ivereigh said, “held [Bergoglio] in high esteem, he trusted him.”

    As for the future pope, Ivereigh said Bergoglio was “unquestionably” influenced by Arrupe's leadership, and often cited his former superior general in speeches.

    “Arrupe was something of a model for Francis,” the biographer said, explaining that the main threads of similarity between the two were not only a shared concern for the poor, but also their approach to modernity, believing that what was needed was “an engagement” between faith and the modern world.

    “Not to reject modernity, but to discern what was good, what was threatening to the Gospel, and what wasn't. I think that was Arrupe's big thing, rather than being in this constant confrontation with the modern world, to have a dialogue with it,” Ivereigh said.

    After suffering a stroke in 1981, Arrupe resigned as superior general of the order and recommended American Jesuit Vincent O’Keefe take his place. However in a move some perceived as a rebuke, Pope John Paul II appointed Jesuits Paola Dezza and Giuseppe Pittau to oversee the society until a new leader was elected.

    During the September 1983 general congregation, Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., was elected as the new minister general, a position he held until 2008, when he resigned and was succeeded by Fr. Adolfo Nicolas.

    Arrupe died Feb. 5, 1991.

  5. Vatican City, Jul 11, 2018 / 01:15 pm (CNA).- A long-time priority of Pope Francis, curial reform – specifically the overhaul of Vatican finances and communications – has been hanging by a thread for the past few years, and some wonder about the pope’s ability to make any meaningful or lasting changes in the Vatican’s way of doing business.

    Observers seem to be underwhelmed at the progress Francis has made on major governance issues, among them financial oversight and sexual abuse policy. Some insiders have noted a palpable sense of confusion about what the pope's reforms are meant to be, and where exactly they are going.

    Since June 2017, the man tasked with leading the Vatican's financial reform, Australian Cardinal George Pell, has been on leave, and is now preparing to face a historic trial for accusations of sexual abuse in his homeland. Some observers have argued that even when Pell was working at full-strength, the financial oversight structures Francis put into place were so tangled by internal power grabs that pursuing meaningful progress had become a delayed goal.

    The pope's communications overhaul seemed to be in shambles after the man charged with overseeing the process, Msgr. Dario Edoardo Vigano, stepped down amid the fallout of March’s “Lettergate” fiasco.

    In recent months Francis has also come under fire for inaction on the topic of clerical sexual abuse, specifically in Chile.

    Accused of insulting victims and ignoring their complaints, the pope had a major turnaround on the situation in Chile after receiving fresh evidence against a leading abuser priest in the country and launching an investigation which yielded findings frightening enough to make the pope stop dead in his tracks and speed into reverse.

    But one of Pope Francis' closest aides over the past five years, newly-minted Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, who is leaving the Secretariat of State for a new position as head of the Vatican's office for canonizations, said recently that the pope's reform still lacks an overall vision.

    In comments to the press ahead of the June 28 ceremony in which he was given his red biretta, Becciu said that while many steps had been taken, it is still “too early” to give a comprehensive judgment on the Curial reform, since it is not yet finished.

    An overall unifying vision is still missing, he said, explaining that “so far we've had elements, but not a unified idea.” This vision, he said, will likely be provided in the new apostolic constitution drafted by the pope's nine cardinal advisors, called “Predicate Evangelium,” or “Preach the Gospel,” which has reportedly been completed and is now awaiting approval from Pope Francis.

    A gloomy-seeming outlook for curial reform is often pinned on poor personnel decision-making at the Vatican. But two recent appointments to major posts could mark a turning point for Francis, and provide a much-needed morale boost for Catholics looking for the pope to clean house in Vatican offices.

    The first of these is the appointment of a close Francis ally, Archbishop Nunzio Galantino, to take the reigns at the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA), which oversees the Vatican's real estate holdings and investments.

    During pre-conclave meetings in 2013, APSA was a key point in discussions on curial reform, as many cardinals recognized it had been being plagued by corruption and was in serious need of greater oversight.

    Until Galantino's June 26 appointment, APSA was led by Cardinal Domenico Calcagno, who has been accused of corruption and was, at one point, under investigation for charges of embezzlement in a previous diocese.

    It took Francis more than five years to take action on APSA, which has been a sore spot for many who were hoping to see the pope crack down on financial issues. In a recent interview with Reuters the pope admitted that “there is no transparency” at APSA.

    “We have to move ahead on transparency, and that depends on APSA,” he said in the interview. Many Vatican watchers are hopeful that Galantino will be able to bring in the accountability and oversight the office has typically resisted.

    The second important personnel change is the appointment of Italian layman Paolo Ruffini as head of the Vatican's communications office, making him the first layperson to lead a Vatican department, also called a dicastery.

    Though Ruffini's nomination was highly celebrated among Italians, who are pleased to have one of their own moving to such an important post, the new prefect is also seen as highly competent, bringing with him professional experience in journalism dating back to 1979.

    Until his appointment Ruffini worked as the director of TV2000, the network of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, and he brings with him extensive experience in television, radio, and print, making him a choice perceived as a competent, well-rounded pick for the job.

    Ruffini is considered to be in line with key priorities of the current pontificate, and his appointment can be read as follow-through on Pope Francis' commitment to eradicate a clericalist mentality in the curia and to add more laypeople to the mix.

    Despite the fact that Msgr. Dario Vigano, who headed the office until the “Lettergate” scandal, is expected to stay in the dicastery in the advisory role the pope gave him, observers are hopeful that at least some of the pope's stubbornness in decision-making is gone, and that the days of poor personnel choices will be a thing of the past.

    And with several decisions made that seem to indicate reform is moving in the right – or at least a better – direction when it seemed to be on the brink of failure, a natural question comes to mind: what changed?

    Some believe the turning point was the pope's reaction to the Chilean abuse crisis. After initially defending the bishop at the center of the debate, calling accusations of cover-up on the part of the bishop “calumny” and claiming that no evidence of the prelate's guilt had been brought forward, Francis had a major turnaround when news came out that evidence had been presented years prior which he either never got, or potentially ignored.

    It was a serious blow to Francis' credibility in the fight against sex-abuse in the Church, and to his public image. Soon after he sent his top investigator on abuse to Chile to look into the situation, and after receiving a 2,300 page report, the pope issued a letter to Chilean bishops saying he had made “serious errors” in judging the situation due to a lack of “truthful and balanced information.”

    Many observers pinned the blame on 84-year-old Chilean Cardinal Javier Francisco Errazuriz, who is a member of the pope's nine-member Council of Cardinals and who has come under heavy fire from victims for covering up abuse while archbishop of Santiago, and for trying to discredit victims' testimonies.

    In his recent interview with Reuters, Pope Francis said his council of cardinal advisors, called the “C9” and whose mandate will be up in October, would be refreshed with new members.

    Though such a decision is natural after term limits end, some observers have pondered whether the Chilean crisis and the accusations against Errazuriz, the absence of Cardinal Pell and separate accusations of financial misdealing on the part of Honduran Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga, also a member of the advisory team, have, to a certain degree, awakened Francis to the need to be more selective with his inner circle.

    The answers to these questions, of course, are pure speculation, but if one thing can be said about the pope's latest round of appointments, it's that while his track record on reform efforts has not been the best, and while there are still loose ends to tie up, he is at least aware of the problems and he seems intent on making good on his promises, even if that does not happen immediately.

    And if the first five years of Pope Francis' curial reform have largely been seen as ineffective, the appointment of Ruffini and Galantino just might give the flicker of hope needed for Catholics to decide that the jury is still out on the long-term process. However, as with any reform, really only time will tell.