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Bishop Byrne: Newman would be surprised to be canonized a saint

Vatican City, Oct 14, 2019 / 02:00 pm (CNA).- Cardinal John Henry Newman would be surprised by his own canonization as a saint, an English bishop said Monday, adding that Newman’s life offers an important witness of holiness for contemporary Catholics. “I am sure that no one would be more surprised than Newman to find himself a canonized saint. In his own life time it was suggested that he led a saintly life – his response was typical. ‘I have nothing of the saint about me as everyone knows and it is a severe and salutary mortification to be thought next door to one,’” Bishop Robert Byrne said Oct. 14, during a Mass of Thanksgiving for Newman’s canonization, celebrated at the Basilica of St. John Lateran. “Nonetheless the Church thinks otherwise after due deliberation and the approval of two miracles brought about by the intercession of the saint, John Henry Newman, the Londoner born in 1801 and who died a Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church in Birmingham in 1890 is now raised to the honours of the altar,” Byrne added. “He is held up to us as a model of Christian life and virtue and as our intercessor in heaven.” 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. Newman’s 1845 conversion to the Catholic faith was controversial in England, and resulted in the loss of many friends, including his own sister, who never spoke to him again. He became a priest in 1847 and founded the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in England. He was particularly dedicated to education, founding two schools for boys and the Catholic University of Ireland. His “Idea is a University” became a foundational text on Catholic higher education. He was a prolific author and letter writer. Newman died in Birmingham in 1890 at 89. Pope Francis declared Newman a saint at Sunday Mass Oct. 13 in St. Peter’s Square.  Byrne celebrated Mass in thanksgiving for the canonization, invoking the intercession of Newman in his prayers. The Mass was attended by an international congregation of scholars, devotees, and admirers of Newman, concelebrated by priests and bishops who have been influenced by the man. Among those in attendance at St. John Lateran were members of the Oratorian religious congregation, of which Byrne is a member, and which Newman famously brought to England. Also there were priests and sisters of the Spiritual Family of the Work, an ecclesial movement of priests and religious sisters devoted to the spirituality and intellectual legacy of Newman. Worshipping too were pilgrims who had come to Rome for Newman’s canonization, including some who had found the Catholic Church through the saint. Byrne said that it was “the saintly Cardinal’s relentless and heroic search for truth and holiness which brings us to this morning’s celebration.” “The pursuit of holiness and truth were for St John Henry the driving force of his life. We see throughout his long life how he championed the cause of revealed truth and was fearless in proclaiming it not only by his many writings but also by the institutions he established. He did much to promote the Christian cause in bringing the Congregation of the Oratory to England, founding a University in Ireland and a school in Edgbaston. He worked tirelessly as a Parish Priest and had a fatherly care for his Oratorian community. He guided countless people with letters of spiritual direction and counsel.” “He gave light to those who were searching for the truth and continues to do so through his published works of theology, philosophy, sermons and prayers.” “Newman speaks to us in different ways as preacher, writer, theologian and pastor. But however he speaks to us we are united in giving thanks that his life and legacy is now a gift to the Universal Church,” the bishop concluded.      

Amazon Synod bishop: The Gospel brings new concepts to cultures, like forgiveness

Vatican City, Oct 14, 2019 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- While the Vatican’s Synod of Bishop on the Amazon discusses the idea of “inculturating” the Gospel’s proclamation with local culture, one bishop shared that the Gospel called one tribe in southern Venezuela to a difficult cultural concept: forgiveness. “The Gospel helps cultures maintain all the good they have and at the same time brings new things that helps them grow,” José Ángel Divassón Cilveti, former head of the apostolic vicariate of Puerto Ayacucho, Venezuela, said at a Vatican press conference Oct. 14. Cilventi, a Salesian who served as apostolic vicar of Puerto Ayacucho from 1996-2015, explained how his religious order has carried out missionary work among the Yanomami people in the Amazon rainforest along the Venezuelan-Brazilian border for more than 60 years. He said that in the past there was much violence among the Yanomami people. “In the past, if you killed others, you were killed,” he said. “And then started the continuous fights and struggles that made their lives difficult.” The bishop explained that Salesian missionaries who taught newly converted Yanomami Catholics “Jesus said you have to forgive,” spurred a broad cultural change within their community, while “not taking away from being Yanomami at all.” “In that culture, forgiveness was difficult, and yet these people as they were learning this ability … realized that having the ability to forgive solved so many problems,” Cilventi said. Another synod participant, Bishop Carlo Verzeletti of Castanhal, Brazil, spoke of the need for change at the press conference. In particular, Verzeletti called for is a change in the church’s discipline of priestly celibacy. “In the synod I support and continue to support the importance of being able to ordain married men for the priesthood, so the Eucharist may become a reality that is closer to people and communities, so that these married men can, in fact, accompany the lives of the peoples, the lives of their communities” Verzeletti said Oct. 14. “I would already know who I would choose to ordain as priests,” the Bishop of Castanhal added. The Vatican’s Synod of Bishops on the Amazon is an Oct. 6-27 meeting on the Church’s life and ministry in the Pan-Amazonian region. The working document for the synod proposed the possibility of ordaining elder married men -- viri probati -- in response to a shortage of priestly vocations in the Amazon region of South America. Verzeletti, an Italian who served the Brazilian state of Para since 1996, said that because of colonization, the region suffered 400 years in which the values of native people were “destroyed,” and now suffers from the negative aspects of globalization. He noted that in recent years the region’s Pentecostal churches have grown much more rapidly than the Catholic Church, saying that there are 750 Pentecostal churches and only 50 Catholic churches in his city. 179 synod fathers attended the morning assembly in the Synod Hall Oct. 14 in which the discussion included: protecting indigenous peoples’ rights, environmental protection, how to inculturate the liturgy, and how to respond better to the needs and cultures of the people, according to Fr Giacomo Costa, Secretary of the Information Commission

Cardinal Becciu at center of Vatican financial investigation

Vatican City, Oct 14, 2019 / 09:51 am (CNA).- The recent raid of Vatican offices is connected to an investigation into charges that Vatican money financed the development of luxury properties in London, and led to a windfall for the Vatican’s investment managers, according to an Oct. 14 report from Financial Times. According to Financial Times, Vatican police and prosecutors are investigating the possibility of improprieties in a 2014 $200 million investment made through Athena Capital, a Luxembourg investment fund, which financed a stake in the development of a luxury apartment project in London. That investment, along with a nearly $50 million 2018 investment in the same property, has raised questions about the internal control of Vatican money held in international banks and investment vehicles, especially after repeated efforts to bring financial practices into line with international practices and standards. The Financial Times reported that the Vatican’s 2014 and 2018 investments were authorized by Cardinal Giovanni Becciu, who was from 2011 until 2018 the second-ranking official in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, and was in 2018 appointed to head the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. In 2016, Becciu was instrumental in bringing to a halt Vatican financial reforms initiated by Cardinal George Pell. Although Pope Francis had given the newly created Prefecture for the Economy autonomous oversight authority over Vatican finances, Becciu interfered when the prefecture planned an external audit of all Vatican departments, to be conducted by the firm PriceWaterhouseCooper. Unilaterally, and without permission of Pope Francis, Becciu cancelled the audit and announced in a letter to all Vatican departments that it would not take place. When Pell challenged internally the audit’s cancellation, Becciu persuaded Pope Francis to give his decision ex post facto approval, sources inside the prefecture told CNA. The audit never took place. In 2017, Becciu was also responsible for the dismissal of the Vatican’s first-ever auditor general, Libero Milone. Milone was fired in dramatic fashion by Becciu, who accused the auditor of “spying” on the finances of senior officials, including Becciu. The then-Archbishop Becciu threatened criminal prosecution of Milone if he did not agree to leave his Vatican office quietly. Milone maintained that he was fired for being too good at his job, and because he and the reforming work of the Prefecture for the Economy were perceived as a threat to the autonomy and business practices of long-time Curial officials. He said that he was dismissed on trumped-up charges after he uncovered evidence of financial misconduct under Becciu’s leadership. In May 2018, the Vatican quietly announced it had dropped all charges against Milone. Also in 2017, Becciu was involved in a complicated chain of events with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta that ended with the Grand Master of the Order being deposed, and Becciu being installed as special papal envoy charged with running the order. At the center of that controversy were allegations that Vatican financial authorities had siphoned off more than 30 million euros from a 120 million euro bequest held in a Swiss bank account, in order to ease liquidity problems. On Oct 1, 2019, Vatican prosecutors authorized a raid within the Secretariat of State’s offices. Documents and devices were seized, though the Vatican did not indicate what exactly had prompted the investigation. The next day, a confidential memo was leaked announcing the suspension of five Vatican employees, including two officials: Msgr. Mauro Carlino, who oversees documentation at the Secretariat of State, along with layman Tomasso Di Ruzza, director of the Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Authority. On Oct. 14, the Vatican announced that Domenico Giani, head of the Vatican City State’s national police force had resigned, apparently because the leak of the confidential memo took place under his command. The Vatican press office said that Giani “bears no personal responsibility in the unfolding of events.” Vatican officials have not yet commented on the Financial Times’ report.

Vatican City security head resigns after confidential memo was leaked

Vatican City, Oct 14, 2019 / 08:00 am (CNA).- The head of the Vatican City State’s national police force has resigned, after a confidential internal memo was leaked to the press that announced the suspension of some Vatican officials and employees and restricted their access to the Vatican. The suspended officials were connected to an Oct. 1 raid of some Vatican offices, part an unspecified investigation overseen by a prosecutor, called the “promoter of justice” in the Vatican City court system. The Vatican press office said that Domenico Giani, Commander of the Vatican’s Gendarmerie, was not personally responsible for the leak. “In order to assure the proper serenity to the ongoing investigation, coordinated by the Promoter of Justice and carried out by the Gendarmerie, since the perpetrator of the external circulation of the order - reserved to the staff of the Gendarmerie and of the Pontifical Swiss Guard - remains unknown, and although the Commander bears no personal responsibility in the unfolding of the events, Domenico Giani has tendered his resignation to the Holy Father out of love for the Church and faithfulness to Peter’s Successor,” an Oct. 14 announcement from the Vatican press office said. The memo’s leak was “prejudicial to the dignity of the people involved and to the image of the Gendarmerie,” the announcement added. Giani was Commander of the Vatican Gendarmerie, and had been a part of the Vatican’s security and police force for more than 20 years. The memo, issued Oct 2, was signed by Giani and published by L’Espresso. The memo was issued after the Oct. 1 raid of offices within the offices of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. Among the suspended employees is Msgr. Mauro Carlino, who oversees documentation at the Secretariat of State, along with layman Tomasso Di Ruzza, director of the Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Authority. Two other men and one woman were also listed as suspended in the memo. During the raid, documents and devices were taken in connection to an investigation following complaints made last summer by the Institute for Religious Works - commonly called the Vatican Bank - and the Office of the Auditor General, concerning a series of financial transactions "carried out over time," an Oct. 1 Vatican statement said. The Secretariat of State is the central governing office of the Catholic Church and the department of the Roman Curia which works most closely with the pope. It is also responsible for the governance of the Vatican City state. The Vatican’s Financial Intelligence Authority oversees suspicious financial transactions, and is charged with ensuring that Vatican banking policies comply with international financial standards. Pope Francis approved new governing documents for the Vatican Bank last summer, transitioning the bank from its practice of using internal auditors to the use of an external auditor to review the bank’s finances and transactions. The bank has a long history of complex financial transactions, has faced scandals, and been criticized for a lack of financial transparency. The pope has made reforms at the Vatican Bank a priority of his pontificate. The Oct. 14 statement said that Pope Francis spoke “at length” with Giani when the official presented his resignation, and “expressed his appreciation to the Commander for his gesture, an expression of freedom and institutional sensitivity, which honours Commander Giani and the work he has carried out with humility and discretion in the service of the Petrine Ministry and the Holy See.” The press office said that Giani had brought “undisputed professionalism” to the Vatican Gendarmerie, a police and security force of more than 100 officers, which Giani led since 2006. The Vatican Gendarmerie collaborates with the Pontifical Swiss Guard, which is responsible for the personal protection of Pope Francis. The Gendarmerie oversee general security operations in the Vatican City State, along with criminal investigations and counterterrorism operations.  Details about the nature of the investigation at the Secretariat of State have not yet been forthcoming.  

'Lead, kindly light' - Pope Francis names Newman a saint

Vatican City, Oct 13, 2019 / 03:20 am (CNA).- Nearly two centuries ago, John Henry Newman was England’s most well-known Anglican priest, until he risked everything to become a Catholic. Today he has become a saint. As Pope Francis named Cardinal John Henry Newman a saint Sunday, he told Catholics that the goal of life is a transforming encounter with Jesus. “The ultimate goal is not health or wellness, but the encounter with Jesus … He alone frees us from evil and heals our hearts. Only an encounter with him can save, can make life full and beautiful,” Pope Francis said at the canonization Mass in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 13. Pope Francis officially recognized John Henry Newman, Mariam Thresia, Marguerite Bays, Giuseppina Vannini, and Dulce Lopes as saints.   #NewmanCanonisation #NewmanCanonization pic.twitter.com/y16Q9aXXZZ — JD Flynn (@jdflynn) October 13, 2019   The canonization was attended by Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, along with delegates from the Church of England. “Today we give thanks to the Lord for our new saints. They walked by faith and now we invoke their intercession,” he said. Pope Francis read a quote from one of  Newman’s sermons describing the holiness of daily life: “The Christian has a deep, silent, hidden peace, which the world sees not... The Christian is cheerful, easy, kind, gentle, courteous, candid, unassuming; has no pretence... with so little that is unusual or striking in his bearing, that he may easily be taken at first sight for an ordinary man.”   More photos from the #NewmanCanonisation. Newman was named a saint along with four holy women: Photos: Daniel Ibanez/CNA pic.twitter.com/0MfteCAdyL — Catholic News Agency (@cnalive) October 13, 2019   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. Newman’s 1845 conversion to the Catholic faith was controversial in England, and resulted in the loss of many friends, including his own sister who never spoke to him again. He became a priest in 1847 and founded the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in England. He was particularly dedicated to education, founding two schools for boys and the Catholic University of Ireland. His “Idea is a University” became a foundational text on Catholic higher education. He was a prolific author and letter writer. Newman died in Birmingham in 1890 at 89. St. John Henry Newman is Britain’s first new saint since the canonization of St. John Ogilvie in 1976. “Let us ask to be … ‘kindly lights’ amid the encircling gloom. Jesus, ‘stay with me, and then I shall begin to shine as Thou shinest: so to shine as to be a light to others,’” Pope Francis said in his Oct. 13 homily, quoting parts of Newman’s “Meditations on Christian Doctrine.”   Along with Newman, Pope Francis canonized four women. Mother Mariam Thresia (1876-1926) was an Indian mystic and founder of the Congregation of the Holy Family. The Syro-Malabar Catholic foundress received the stigmata and would sometimes levitate during prayer. Giuseppina Vannini (1859-1911) religious sister from Rome known for founding the congregation of the Daughters of St. Camillus dedicated to serving the sick and suffering. Sister Dulce Lopes Pontes (1914-1992) founded the largest charitable organization in Brazil providing healthcare, welfare, and education service. Nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize, she is the first Brazilian-born female saint. Pope Francis said that these three religious women saints show us that the consecrated life is “a journey of love at the existential peripheries of the world.” “Saint Marguerite Bays, on the other hand, was a seamstress; she speaks to us of the power of simple prayer, enduring patience and silent self-giving,” the pope said. “That is how the Lord made the splendour of Easter radiate in her life.” When Bays (1815-1879) was diagnosed with advanced cancer in 1853, she prayed to the Virgin Mary to be able to suffer with Jesus rather than to be healed. However, on the day that Bl. Pius IX proclaimed the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, Sept. 8, 1854, she was miraculously healed. “On the journey of life, purification takes place along the way, a way that is often uphill since it leads to the heights,” Pope Francis said. “Faith calls for journey, a ‘going out’ from ourselves, and it can work wonders if we abandon our comforting certainties, if we leave our safe harbours and our cosy nests. Faith increases by giving, and grows by taking risks,” he said. The canonizations took place as the Church celebrates an “Extraordinary Missionary Month” dedicated to prayer and reflection on the missionary work of the Church, as well as the Synod of Bishops on the Pan-Amazonian Region, taking place at the Vatican Oct. 6-27. “The Lord sets our hearts free and heals them if only we ask him, only if we say to him: ‘Lord, I believe you can heal me. Dear Jesus, heal me from being caught up in myself. Free me from evil and fear,’” Pope Francis said at the canonization.

Bishop in Brazil says he will ordain women to diaconate if pope permits it

Vatican City, Oct 12, 2019 / 09:58 am (CNA).- A bishop participating in the Vatican’s Amazon Synod said Saturday he would ordain women in his communities as deacons if the idea is recommended by the synod and permitted by Pope Francis. Bishop Dom Adriano Ciocca Vasino of the prelature of São Félix, Brazil said Oct. 12, there are women in his community who are already trained in theology, and “they know that if this synod, with the [permission] of the pope, opens up the possibility of the diaconate for women… I will ordain them.” Ciocca spoke at a press briefing which took place during the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops on the Pan-Amazonian Region, an Oct. 6-27 meeting on the Church’s life and ministry in the region. The bishop described to journalists a model of formation he uses in the prelature of São Félix, with a theology school open to both men and women. After the completion of the four-year course, those men who wish to become priests are asked to spend several years living and working in local community, after which they are considered for ordination as deacons or priests, based in part on the recommendation of the community in which they live. The idea that women could be ordained or commissioned in some way as deacons in the Church has been under discussion since Pope Francis appointed a commission to study the matter in 2016. The Church teaches definitively that only men can be ordained as priests or bishops, but some theologians suggest that women were ordained as deacons in the early centuries of the Church. Other theologians suggest that ordination is a sacrament reserved to men, and that while women might be commissioned in some form of “diaconate,” a Greek word that means “service,” their commissioning would not be sacramental. In May, Pope Francis told reporters that some on the Vatican commission have concluded that the historical “female diaconate” was different from the role of male deacons, namely becaue it did not include sacramental ordination. “For example, the formulas of female diaconal ‘ordination’ found until now, according to the commission, are not the same for the ordination of a male deacon and are more similar to what today would be the abbatial blessing of an abbess,” he said. The pope added that others in the commission hold that there was “a female deacon formula,” but it is not clear whether it was a sacramental ordination or not. A permanent deacon from Brazil, Francisco Andrade de Lima, told reporters that he is not opposed to the idea of women deacons, but that he thinks the question should be thought about in terms of the issue of vocations, rather than simply as a potential solution to a problem. According to the Oct. 12 briefing participants, the topic of formation is important for the Church in the Amazon. Proper formation of priests and lay people is a major challenge in the region, Bishop Rafael Cob García of the vicariate of Puyo, Ecuador, said. Cob said he thinks the key to evangelization in the Amazon is inculturation and understanding lived reality. He also pointed out that the approach to evangelization in the cities must be very different to the approach taken in more remote areas. To have “a Church with an Amazonian face,” new paths of formation and evangelization must be found, he said. For a Church with an Amazonian face, he noted, they also need vocations to come from the local communities, but the major challenge right now is a lack of formators and good formation at a local level. Questioned about the importance of evangelization versus the importance of protecting minority indigenous communities from outside bad actors, Cob said both are important, but that these minority communities, like everyone, have a right to know about the salvific mission of Christ. They need to be evangelized in a direct way, he said, pointing to the Church’s missionary mandate to bring Christ to all people. Cob also said there is a need to protect indigenous from “greedy” multinational corporations that come into a space without concern for that space’s inhabitants. Their lives are threatened by this, he stated.  

UK's Prince Charles praises Cardinal John Henry Newman

Vatican City, Oct 12, 2019 / 06:10 am (CNA).- The Prince of Wales said Saturday that the canonization of Cardinal John Henry Newman is a cause for celebration among all Britons, those who are Catholic and those who “cherish the values by which he was inspired.” “His faith was truly catholic in that it embraced all aspects of life. It is in that same spirit that we, whether we are Catholics or not, can, in the tradition of the Christian Church throughout the ages, embrace the unique perspective, the particular wisdom and insight, brought to our universal experience by this one individual soul,” Prince Charles, heir to the British throne, wrote in an Oct. 12 column for L’Osservatore Romano. “Whatever our own beliefs, and no matter what our own tradition may be, we can only be grateful to Newman for the gifts, rooted in his Catholic faith, which he shared with wider society: his intense and moving spiritual autobiography and his deeply-felt poetry,” the prince wrote. Newman will be canonized by Pope Francis Oct. 13. He was born in 1801, converted to Catholicism in 1845, and died in 1890. Before his conversion, he was a well-known and well-respected Oxford academic, Anglican preacher, and public intellectual. After his conversion, he founded the Birmingham Oratory, a religious community of priests, and was Britain’s most well-known, though sometimes controversial, Catholic. He was a prolific writer of books, poetry, and letters; an educator; an orator; and, more quietly, a minister to the poor in working-class Birmingham. He was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI during the former pope’s 2010 visit to the United Kingdom. Prince Charles will attend Newman’s canonization in Rome. “In the age when he lived, Newman stood for the life of the spirit against the forces that would debase human dignity and human destiny.  In the age in which he attains sainthood, his example is needed more than ever – for the manner in which, at his best, he could advocate without accusation, could disagree without disrespect and, perhaps most of all, could see differences as places of encounter rather than exclusion,” Prince Charles wrote. “At a time when faith was being questioned as never before, Newman, one of the greatest theologians of the nineteenth century, applied his intellect to one of the most pressing questions of our era: what should be the relationship of faith to a sceptical, secular age? His engagement first with Anglican theology, and then, after his conversion, Catholic theology, impressed even his opponents with its fearless honesty, its unsparing rigour and its originality of thought,” he added. The prince noted the anti-Catholicism Newman faced after his conversion. “And perhaps most relevantly of all at this time, when we have witnessed too many grievous assaults by the forces of intolerance on communities and individuals, including many Catholics, because of their beliefs, he is a figure who stood for his convictions despite the disadvantages of belonging to a religion whose adherents were denied full participation in public life. Through the whole process of Catholic emancipation and the restoration of the Catholic Church hierarchy, he was the leader his people, his church and his times needed.” Prince Charles concluded by noting Newman’s capacity for friendship, and his devotion to his friends. “As we mark the life of this great Briton, this great churchman and, as we can will shortly say, this great saint, who bridges the divisions between traditions, it is surely right that we give thanks for the friendship which, despite the parting, has not merely endured, but has strengthened,” he wrote.  “In the image of divine harmony which Newman expressed so eloquently, we can see how, ultimately, as we follow with sincerity and courage the different paths to which conscience calls us, all our divisions can lead to a greater understanding and all our ways can find a common home.”  

The Amazon synod, by the numbers

Vatican City, Oct 11, 2019 / 03:00 pm (CNA).- The Vatican’s Amazon synod began this week. Over 200 people are gathered in the Vatican to discuss the life and ministry of the Church in the Pan-Amazonian region, an area surrounding the Amazon River which spans nine countries. Here are a few facts about the Amazon synod, as told by the numbers:   2, 260, 87,000 Pope Francis announced a meeting of the Synod of Bishops to discuss matters of importance to the Pan-Amazonian Region in 2017. The two years since that have been spent planning for this month’s gathering. According to the head of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, around 260 events were held in the Amazon to prepare for the synod. Most of those events were listening and consultation sessions, attended by approximately 87,000 people.   147, 22, 2/3 The synod’s working document, or Instrumentum laboris, guides the process. The document is 147 paragraphs long. According to Baldisseri, it is the product of listening to the thoughts, questions, and concerns of people in the Amazon. He said it is a starting point for discussion. The document is controversial, and some Church leaders have criticized its theological approach. Pope Francis himself, at the synod’s opening session, called the document a “martyr text destined to be destroyed.” How much of the Instrumentum laboris gets incorporated into the final document depends on the work of the assembly, which will produce a final document of recommendations to give to Pope Francis. The actual synod assembly is taking place in Vatican City over 22 days. The synod began with an opening Mass said by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica Oct. 6 and continues through Oct. 27, concluding with a closing Mass. During those 22 days, the synod’s bishops, experts, observers, and other advisers are meeting inside the Vatican’s Synod Hall to hear presentations, and to work in small groups that discuss aspects of the assembly’s Instrumentum laboris. The synod’s final document, essentially a set of recommendations to Pope Francis, is approved by the synod fathers toward the end the synod. It will require a 2/3 majority to pass.   185, 145, 34, 20 There are 185 synod fathers participating in the Amazon synod. A synod father is the name given to the bishops, or in some cases, priests and religious brothers, who make up the voting members of a synod assembly. More than 145 of the members of the 2019 synod come from, or serve in, places in South and Central America. Women are also participating in the synod in the capacity of auditors or experts. Baldisseri said last week that the 34 women is a record number to participate in a synod. Of  the 34 women, 20 are members of religious orders.   50, 438,373, 134,435, 10,000, Zero Baldisseri has proposed to make a “symbolic gesture” of commitment to ecological friendliness by buying bonds that would reforest 50 hectares (nearly 124 acres) of land in the Amazon basin. This purchase would be, he said, to offset the CO2 emissions caused by the synod, of which it is calculated that 438,373kg is caused by the air travel of participants in the assembly, and 134,435kg by other emission-causing activities, such as the use of energy, water, and transportation in Rome. The cost of the 50 hectares is “very low,” Baldisseri said – just 10,000 euros. This and other initiatives, including the use of glass and metal water bottles, along with biodegradable cups instead of plastic, are intended to make it a “synod at ‘Impact Zero,’” Baldisseri said.   2,400,000, 34,000,000, 79+26+3 The Amazon River basin, most of which is covered by the Amazon rainforest, encompasses 2.4 million square miles, mostly in Brazil, but also in the countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Guyana, French Guiana, and Suriname. According to statistics provided by the Vatican, due to large migration from forest villages, now an estimated 70 to 80% of the Pan-Amazonian population, around 34 million people, live in cities. Because of this, many cities in the Amazon face urban crowding and lack of infrastructure and resources, making urban poverty one of the major issues facing the region, and one of the many topics to be addressed over the next three weeks. There are 79 Catholic dioceses, 26 apostolic vicariates, and three prelatures in the Amazon basin. The apostolic vicariates and prelatures are supported financially by the Pontifical Mission Societies, which is under the jurisdiction of the Vatican's Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. $$?? As with any major international event, the synod takes a sum of money to prepare for and to conduct. Expenses include international and domestic transportation, lodging, food, personnel, and interpreters, among many others. Information about how much money has been spent has not been made public. Both the Vatican press office and the office of the Synod of Bishops declined to provide that information to CNA.

‘Useless to pretend’: Vatican official dismisses German ‘binding synodal path’

Vatican City, Oct 11, 2019 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- A senior legal official in the Vatican has dismissed the idea that a planned “synodal process” in Germany will be “binding,” noting that bishops must exercise their authority in unity and obedience to the authority of the pope. Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta Ochoa, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, said the idea that a synodal process in any particular country could change universal Church teaching and discipline is “not a possible way of thinking” in the Church. “It is useless for anyone to pretend that the German synod is binding, because no one has given that authority to the German synod. No one can bind the faithful beyond their authority to bind or pastors beyond their authority to bind,” Arrieta said in an Oct. 11 interview. Arrieta was one of the drafters and signatories to a legal assessment of the draft statutes for a Synodal Assembly currently being advanced by the bishops of Germany. That assessment, which concluded that the German plans were “not ecclesiologically valid” was sent to Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the German bishops’ conference, on September 4 by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, head of the Congregation for Bishops. Speaking to Alejandro Bermudez, executive director of the ACI Group, of which CNA is a part, Arrieta explained that bishops’ conferences are not autonomous bodies, but subject to the authority of the Congregation for Bishops because of their obligation of obedience to the pope. “The bishops and their synods, and episcopal conferences, fall under the authority of the Congregation for Bishops,” Arrieta said.  “The connection is direct; they depend upon the pope, but through the Congregation for Bishops. In a vicarious, stable, delegated way, the pope has entrusted them to the direction of the congregation.” In March of this year, Cardinal Marx announced that the Church in Germany would embark on a "binding synodal process" to tackle what he called the “key issues” arising from the clerical abuse crisis: clerical celibacy, the Church's teaching on sexual morality, and a reduction of clerical power. The synodal proposals call for the creation of an assembly in partnership with the Central Committee of German Catholics, a group whose leadership supports the ending of clerical celibacy, the changing of Church teaching on sexual morality to endorse homosexual unions, and the ordination of women to the priesthood. In May, the committee’s leadership informed its members that the group would participate in the synodal process because it had received guarantees that the synod assembly could and would treat issues of universal teaching and discipline and pass “binding” resolutions, something Arrieta said went far beyond the authority of any country’s bishops to do. “The philosophy of legal positivism is not the way of the Church,” Arrieta said. “For the Church it is not a possible way of thinking. What truly links the Church, and the faithful, are the sacraments, the word of Christ. No authority is binding that rejects the sacraments; that is not possible, acting that way would not be possible, even if some say that it could be so.” “Pastors depend upon the pope, and only the pope can give the authority by which a synod would be binding,” Arrieta added. “Without that, saying ‘this is binding,’ or ‘I accept that this is binding’ does not make it so; no one would be bound. It is not useful for anyone to say that it is, or for someone to pretend that it is, or write a norm about it, because the norm itself would not have authority.” In response to Ouellet’s September letter and the PCLT assessment, Marx flew to Rome and met with both Pope Francis and Cardinal Ouellet last month. Officials in the Congregation for Bishops told CNA that Marx had used the meetings to attempt to “minimize” the significance of the synodal plans, and to insist that Vatican criticisms are unfounded. Before Marx arrived in Rome, Matthias Kopp, a spokesman for the German bishops’ conference told Catholic News Service that the term “binding” was not meant to imply any Church figure would be bound by the synodal conclusions. “Binding means it is a vote,” not simply a discussion, Kopp said. The German bishops’ conference subsequently voted to adopt the statutes by a margin of 51-12 with 1 abstention during their plenary session on Sept. 25. At that time, Bishop Rudolph Voderholzer of Regesburg said that there was “a dishonesty at the beginning of the Synodal Process.”  The statutes are now with the Central Committee of German Catholics, the leaders of which will agree on an amended version with Cardinal Marx. The synodal process in Germany is due to begin on the first day of Advent.

These are the four women being canonized with John Henry Newman

Vatican City, Oct 11, 2019 / 03:01 am (CNA).- Pope Francis will canonize four women alongside John Henry Newman this Sunday. These women -- a stigmatist, a mystic, a Roman orphan, and Nobel Peace prize nominee -- also proclaimed Christ through their lives and their miracles in a unique way. Mother Mariam Thresia Mother Mariam Thresia (1876-1926) was an Indian mystic and founder of the Congregation of the Holy Family. Her prayer life was characterized by frequent ecstasies in which she would sometimes levitate above the ground. In 1909, Thresia received the stigmata, after which she also suffered from demonic attacks. Mother Thresia cared for the poor, sick, and dying in Kerala, visiting those with leprosy and measles. She also preached to the poor and the rich alike the importance of happy, healthy families to uplift all of society.  In 1914 Thresia founded the Congregation of the Holy Family, which has grown to have 176 houses around the world with 1,500 professed sisters. “Our main charisma is family apostolate. We have schools, hospitals and counseling centers etc. But our main focus is the family apostolate. Making the families like a Holy Family of Nazareth,” Sister Dr. Vinaya of the Congregation of the Holy Family said. Pope Francis recognized the second miracle attributed Mother Thresia in February. A grandmother of a dying child had a relic of Mariam Thresia and asked the nurse -- a sister belonging to the Congregation of the Holy Family -- to place the relic on the child’s heart and pray. From that moment forward, the young boy began to breathe normally and was cured. Marguerite Bays This 19th century Swiss laywoman and stigmatist dedicated her life to prayer and service to her parish community without marrying or entering a religious community. As a Third Order Franciscan, she lived a simple life as a dressmaker and carried out a lay apostolate as a catechist. When Bays was diagnosed with advanced cancer in 1853, she prayed to the Virgin Mary to be able to suffer with Jesus rather than to be healed. However, on the day that Bl. Pius IX proclaimed the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, Sept. 8, 1854, she was miraculously healed. Pius made the proclamation on Marguerite’s 39th birthday. “From that moment on, after Marguerite was healed of her illness in a completely inexplicable way, she proclaimed the Passion of the Lord, because every Friday she had these moments of suffering in which there was blood and the stigmata, the very pain of the Passion,” Fr. Carlo Calloni, the postulator for Bays’ canonization cause, told EWTN’s Vaticano. Blessed Marguerite died on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in 1879 at the age of 63. After her death the Vatican approved a miracle attributed to her intercession in which a 2 year old child was completely healed after being run over by a 1,800 lb tractor wheel. She was beatified by St. John Paul II in 1995. Mother Giuseppina Vannini Giuseppina Vannini is a 19th century religious sister from Rome known for founding the congregation of the Daughters of St. Camillus dedicated to serving the sick and suffering. She is the first Roman woman to be canonized in more than 400 years, according to ACI Stampa. Vannini spent much of her childhood in an orphanage near St. Peter’s Square after losing her father when she was four, and her mother when she was seven. She grew up among the Daughters of Charity sisters, who ran the orphanage. On the day of her first communion, young Giuseppina felt that she was called to a religious vocation. This desire was not realized until 1892 when she was 33 because she was rejected by the Daughters of Charity after her novitiate due to her poor health. Despite her own health problems, Vannini went on to found the Daughters of St. Camillus, whose charism is to serve the sick, even at the risk of their own lives. However she did not live to see the congregation fully recognized by the Vatican. She died at the age of 51 in 1911. Today the Daughters of St. Camillus have grown to 800 sisters in 22 countries. The Giuseppina Vannini Hospital in Rome is named in her honor. Sister Dulce Lopes This Brazilian sister was nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize. Born as Maria Rita Lopes in 1914 in Salvador de Bahia, Lopes began inviting the elderly and those in need into her home at the age of 16. Two years later she joined the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God. In 1959, she founded the Charitable Works Foundation of Sister Dulce, which grew into largest charitable organization in Brazil providing healthcare, welfare, and education services. Today the foundation includes Roma teaching hospital in Bahia and the Santo Antonio Educational Center which provides free education to 800 children living in extreme poverty. Sister Dulce died in 1992 after 30 years of respiratory illness. After her body was found to be incorrupt, Sister Dulce was beatified in 2011 and was selected as one of the patrons of World Youth Day in Krakow as a model of charity. She will be the first Brazilian-born female saint.