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Archbishop Scicluna named adjunct secretary of CDF

Vatican City, Nov 13, 2018 / 09:35 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis Tuesday appointed Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta as adjunct secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. According to a Nov. 13 announcement, Scicluna, 59, will take up the Vatican position while remaining head of the Archdiocese of Malta, which he has led since February 2015. The archbishop’s appointment as adjunct secretary makes him joint second in command of the CDF with secretary Archbishop Giacomo Morandi under prefect Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer. Among the congregation’s leaders is also under-secretary Fr. Matteo Visioli. Scicluna, who served as the Vatican’s sexual abuse prosecutor before becoming a bishop in 2012, has continued to have a high-profile role in addressing clerical sexual abuse. He was appointed by Pope Francis to conduct an an apostolic visitation of the Chilean abuse crisis earlier this year. He also helped establish the Church’s first response to the 2002 sexual abuse crisis, and his work in the field is considered landmark. Scicluna’s nomination to a high position within the CDF takes place in advance of a Vatican meeting on child protection, which will bring together bishops from all over the world. According to comments from Scicluna in October, the February meeting on abuse is the time to address “not just the issue of prevention but also of accountability” and the meeting will provide an opportunity to discuss how to tackle issues “on the ground.” He told CNA in September that the CDF asked bishops’ conferences to prepare guidelines countering abuse in 2001, and most have complied. He added that all existing guidelines have been now screened by the Vatican. The February 2019 meeting of bishops is “a response to people’s expectation that we move from documents to actions,” he said. It is not certain which Vatican department will be responsible for the organization of the meeting on abuse prevention, though it will likely fall to the CDF. In January 2015, Scicluna was made a member of a special doctrinal board established within the CDF in 2014 to handle appeals filed by clergy accused of abuse. Scicluna also served for 10 years, until 2012, as the promoter of justice of the CDF under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. From 1995-2002 he was deputy promoter of justice in the Apostolic Signatura. The archbishop was born in Toronto to Maltese parents in 1959, though his family returned to Malta before his first birthday. Before the start of his Vatican career, Scicluna was defender of the bond and promoter of justice at the Metropolitan Court of Malta, and a professor of pastoral theology and canon law at Malta’s archdiocesan seminary.

Pope Francis to visit Morocco in 2019

Vatican City, Nov 13, 2018 / 04:45 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis will head to two cities in Morocco March 30-31, 2019, the Vatican announced Tuesday. Pope Francis will visit the cities of Rabat and Casablanca, a Nov. 13 message stated. The schedule of the trip is not yet published. According to papal spokesman Greg Burke, the visit takes place at the invitation of King Mohammed VI of Morocco and the Catholic bishops. Francis will be the second pope to visit the country, after St. Pope John Paul II went in 1985 as the first pope to visit a Muslim country at the invitation of the state. Morocco, which is located on the north-west side of Africa, is a majority Muslim country. The total population, as of 2014, was around 29 million. There were an estimated 21,000 Catholics in the country in that year; just .1 percent of the population.  The country has two archdioceses; one in Ribat, the country’s capital city, and one based in Tanger. After Pope Francis received an invitation to visit the country from King Mohammed earlier this year, there had been rumors about whether he would attend a United Nations gathering in December for the adoption of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration. Now that the trip has been announced for March, what the pope’s agenda in Morocco will be has not yet been revealed, though it will likely focus on Christian-Muslim relations and migration. The visit to Morocco falls just two months after the pope will travel to Panama Jan. 23-27, 2019, the only other Vatican confirmed apostolic visit in the upcoming year, though there have been comments from heads of state and bishops that say Francis may also be traveling to Romania and to Mozambique. He has also expressed the desire to visit Japan. Cardinal Désiré Tsarahazana said at a Vatican press briefing Oct. 9 that the pope will visit Madagascar in 2019. Holy See spokesperson Greg Burke said at the time he could not confirm the trip, but that the possibility was “well under study.”

Vatican Christmas stamps feature artwork by inmate

Vatican City, Nov 12, 2018 / 11:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The artwork featured on the Vatican’s postage stamps for Christmas 2018 were painted by a man serving a life-sentence in a Milanese prison. The two stamp designs, painted by Marcello D’Agata, depict the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Nativity of Christ. The postage stamps were unveiled by Archbishop Mario Delpini of Milan at a Nov. 9 presentation in the Milan prison and can be purchased at the Vatican City post office. They are available in denominations of 1.15 or 1.10 euro ($1.29, $1.24), which is the postage required to mail directly to Europe and the Mediterranean region. An Italian journalist had the idea for the Vatican stamps after having followed a philately initiative within the Milan prison for several years. According to L’Osservatore Romano, a Vatican-supported newspaper, D’Agata was drawn to art from an early age. “I confess that as a child, as soon as a blank paper appeared before me, I never failed to draw on it,” he told the newspaper. “Of course, they were just scribbles, but I liked it so much, because on those papers I gave shape and color to my emotions and, most of all, to my dreams.” D’Agata said he had fallen away from artistic expression until a few years ago, when the director of the prison allowed a group of prisoners to take part in a drawing course, which served as a “source of inspiration and the dormant talents came back to life.”

Science should serve humanity, Pope Francis says

Vatican City, Nov 12, 2018 / 10:26 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis told a group of scientists Monday to use their knowledge for the benefit of all humanity, especially at the service of those people who are most often disregarded by most of society. It is not enough to merely follow the principles of ethics, the Church expects from science “a positive service that we can call with Saint Paul VI the ‘charity of knowledge,’” the pope said Nov. 12. “I would like to stand before you as the advocate of the peoples that receive only rarely and from afar the benefits of vast human knowledge and its achievements,” he continued, “especially in the areas of nutrition, health, education, connectivity, well-being and peace.” Pope Francis spoke in an audience with participants in the Pontifical Academy of Sciences’ plenary meeting, taking place at the Vatican Nov. 12-14 on the theme “Transformative roles of science in society: From emerging basic science toward solutions for people’s wellbeing.” Referencing the theme of the academy’s plenary meeting, he praised the academy’s focus on using knowledge to confront the challenges facing modern society, stressing that “the universal rights we proclaim must become reality for all.” “Science can contribute decisively to this process and to breaking down the barriers that stand in its way,” he said, encouraging scientists to conduct research which benefits all people, “so that the peoples of the earth will be fed, given to drink, healed and educated.” He also encouraged them to give sound advice to the political and economic spheres “on how to advance with greater certainty towards the common good, for the benefit especially of the poor and those in need, and towards respect for our planet.” In his speech, Francis outlined a few of the possible fruits of a scientific community focused on a “mission of service.” One of these fruits is “commitment to a world without nuclear arms,” he said, echoing sentiments of St. Paul VI and St. John Paul II, “that scientists actively cooperate to convince government leaders of the ethical unacceptability of such weaponry, because of the irreparable harm that it causes to humanity and to the planet.” He urged “the need for disarmament,” which he argued is a topic raised less and less frequently by those in positions of power. “May I be able to thank God, as did Saint John Paul II in his Testament, that in my Pontificate the world was spared the immense tragedy of an atomic war,” he stated. Pope Francis also noted what he said is a “lack of will and political determination” to end the arms race and wars. More monetary resources could then be put toward renewable energy and programs to ensure water, food, and health for all, he said. On climate change, he pointed out the influence of human actions and said there is a need for responses aimed at protecting “the health of the planet and its inhabitants,” which is risked by use of fossil fuels and deforestation. In his address, he also praised the Academy of Sciences’ work combating human trafficking, forced labor, prostitution, and organ trafficking and said he stands at their side “in this battle for humanity.” “This is the immense panorama that opens up before men and women of science when they take stock of the expectations of peoples,” he said: “expectations animated by trusting hope, but also by anxiety and unrest.”  

Pope Francis marks World War I centenary with message of peace

Vatican City, Nov 11, 2018 / 05:22 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The bells of St. Peter’s Basilica rang out in unison with thousands of other church bells around the world Sunday as Pope Francis commemorated the 100 year anniversary of the end of World War I. “While we pray for all the victims of that terrible tragedy, let us say forcefully: invest in peace, not on war!” Pope Francis said at the end of his Angelus address Nov. 11. The memory of World War I should be a warning to “reject a ‘culture of war’ and seek every legitimate means to put an end to the conflicts that still bleed several regions of the world,” he said and added, “It seems that we do not learn.” Francis quoted Pope Benedict XV, an advocate for peace during WWI, who denounced the war as “useless slaughter” in his 1917 peace plan. As pope throughout the entirety of the first world war, Benedict wrote five encyclicals and three apostolic exhortations concerning peace. Around 17 million people, soldiers and civilians, were killed during the Great War. November 11, 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of the armistice between Germany and the Allies in France, which ended World War I in 1918. At 1:30 p.m. in Rome, the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica tolled in honor of this centenary in coordination with church bells all over Europe and around the world. The pope noted that the feast day of Saint Martin of Tours falls on Armistice Day, calling the soldier saint’s act of cutting his cloak in half to share with a poor man a “gesture of human solidarity” that points toward “the way to build peace.” Francis focused the message of his Angelus address on the poor widow in Matthew’s Gospel, who gives two coins that make up her entire livelihood in her offering to the Temple. “In this humility, she performs an act charged with great religious and spiritual significance,” he said. “That gesture, full of sacrifice, does not escape the attentive gaze of Jesus, who indeed sees in it the total gift of self, which he wants to teach his disciples.” “The scales of the Lord are different from ours. He weighs people and their actions differently: he does not measure quantity but quality, he searches the heart and looks at the purity of intentions,” Francis explained. When we are tempted to seek the attention of others through our altruism, we should think of this poor woman, Francis said. “It will do us good: it will help us to get rid of the superfluous, to focus on what really matters, and to remain humble.” “The Virgin Mary, a poor woman who gave herself totally to God, sustains us in the purpose of giving the Lord and our brothers not something of ourselves, but ourselves, in a humble and generous offering,” he said. As Pope Francis prepares to celebrate the second World Day of the Poor next Sunday, mobile medical clinics are set up near Saint Peter’s Basilica to treat anyone in need of general and specialized medical care, including cardiology, dermatology, and ophthalmology Nov. 12 - 18.

Pope Francis warns Catholic journalists against pessimism

Vatican City, Nov 9, 2018 / 10:18 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic journalists should be guided not by despair and negativity, but by a commitment to sharing the beauty of the human person, Pope Francis told a group of media students Friday. How easy it is “to be carried away by common opinion, by defeatism and by a pessimism that paralyzes and blinds!” the pope said Nov. 9. Christian journalists, on the other hand, are distinguished by “your positive attitude towards the person and your professional ethics,” he continued. “You do not just do a job, but fulfill an assignment and a commitment.” “We ask for parresia,” the pope said, referencing a Greek rhetorical term which means to speak boldly and candidly, adding: “We ask for the frankness that comes from the Holy Spirit and that helps us to trust in the truth of Christ that makes us free.” He urged Christian journalists to go beyond the “wall of sadness and resignation” to help people open their eyes and ears, and to open their hearts to others; recognizing that they have a responsibility toward others, who are daughters and sons of the same Father. Pope Francis spoke during a meeting with around 340 faculty and students of the Institute for the Promotion of Young Journalists (IFP), a Catholic journalism school located in Munich, Germany. The audience took place for the institute’s 50th anniversary. The pope commended the school’s training of qualified Christian journalists, which began following the Second Vatican Council with the intention of revitalizing the media. He said Germany is fortunate to have IFP graduates among the country’s many journalists, both in secular and Church media. He thanked the young journalists for telling the stories that do not always make front-page news, but which are beautiful and “put people at the center.” “Thank you,” he concluded, “because with your Christian way, you accompany the work of the Church. I wish you to continue to do a journalism of people for the people. And please do not forget to pray for me.”  

Francis makes appointments to Roman Rota, Vatican Court of Appeal

Vatican City, Nov 8, 2018 / 05:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis appointed Thursday two lay lawyers to tribunals of the Holy See and Vatican City. On Nov. 8 Enrico Ferrannini was appointed substitute promoter of justice for the Vatican Court of Appeal, and Maria Fratangelo was named defender of the bond of the Roman Rota. Fratangelo is likely the first woman to hold the position of defender of the bond of the Roman Rota. The promoter of justice of the Court of Appeal is Raffaele Coppola, appointed by Pope Francis in 2013. The promoter of justice is the equivalent of a public prosecutor. Ferrannini will be his substitute, or deputy. A canon lawyer, he was also a member of the ecclesiastical court of Benevento, and is an official of the Roman Rota. Fratangelo, already a lawyer within the Roman Rota, now takes over as defender of the bond. The Roman Rota is one of three courts within the Holy See. The others are the Apostolic Penitentiary and the Apostolic Signatura. The Rota is akin to a court of appeals or court of "last instance," and is also where marriage nullity cases are judged. The defender of the bond is the lawyer who argues for the validity of the marriage. For this reason, the defender of the bond has the right to be present during the depositions of the parties, witnesses and experts, to view the judicial documents and to examine any documents produced in the case, to be called when requested and is called to present to the judging panel his or her concluding observations. Fratangelo replaces Robert Golebiowski, who held the position since 2016.

Wisconsin native and Guatemalan martyr: Br. James Miller to be beatified

Vatican City, Nov 8, 2018 / 10:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Thursday approved the beatification of American Br. James Miller, who was martyred in 1982 in Guatemala. The declarations were made following a meeting Nov. 7 with Cardinal Angelo Becciu, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints. Pope Francis gave his approval for Miller’s beatification, declaring he was killed “in hatred of the faith,” and advancing 23 other causes for canonization. The pope also confirmed the heroic virtue of Servant of God Michael Giedrojć and approved his beatification. Now-Bl. Michael Giedrojć was a brother of the Order of St. Augustine born in Lithuania around the year 1420. He died in Krakow, Poland on May 4, 1485. Giedrojć was approved through an “equivalent beatification,” a process by which the pope may declare a person to be a “blessed” without the typical investigation and miracle, due to a long-standing recognition of the person’s holiness and virtue, usually in the place where he or she lived, called a “local cult.” The same process may be used for a canonization. Br. James Alfred Miller, who was a religious brother of the Institute of the Brothers of Christian Schools (called Christian Brothers) was serving in Guatemala when he was shot to death by three hooded men in the afternoon of Feb. 13, 1982, dying instantly. He was 37. Miller, who was born near Stevens Point, Wisconsin in 1944, took the habit of the Christian Brothers in August 1962. He coached football, and taught Spanish, English, and religion in a high school in St. Paul, Minn. There his construction and maintenance abilities gained him the nickname "Brother Fix-It." Miller was later sent to teach in Nicaragua, where under his leadership a school grew from 300 to 800 students and he supervised the construction of 10 new rural schools. In July 1978 his superiors asked him to leave the country because of the danger amid the Sandinista Revolution. He returned to the U.S. and again taught high school. He was sent to mission territory in Guatemala in 1981, teaching at a secondary school and at a center for studies for young indigenous Mayans from rural areas. He was assassinated in February 1982, while standing on a ladder, repairing a wall of a school building. Local authorities did not identify the gunmen. Miller’s killing was one in a string of assassinations of priests and religious in the country, including that of Bl. Stanley Rother five months later. Aware of the danger present to him in Guatemala, in one of his last letters before he died, Miller wrote: “I am personally weary of violence, but I continue to feel a strong commitment to the suffering poor of Central America. …the Church is being persecuted because of its option for the poor.” “Aware of numerous dangers and difficulties, we continue working with faith and hope and trusting in God’s Providence. … I pray to God for the grace and strength to serve Him faithfully among the poor and oppressed in Guatemala. I place my life in His Providence. I place my trust in Him.” The date of Miller’s beatification has not been announced but is expected to take place sometime in 2019.   In addition to Miller, Pope Francis Nov. 8 declared the martyrdom of Angelo Cuartas Cristobal and eight companions, alumni of the Seminary of Oviedo, Spain, who were killed in Oviedo between 1934-1937; and Mariano Mullerat i Soldevila, a layman and father, who was killed near Arbeca, Spain in 1936. The pope also recognized miracles attributed to Venerable Edvige Carboni (1880-1952) and Benedetta Bianchi Porro (1936-1964), paving the way for their beatification. The heroic virtue of nine other Catholics was also declared, advancing their causes along the path of beatification. They are: Italian Bishop Giovanni Jacono (1873-1957); Filipino Bishop Alfredo Maria Obviar, founder of the Congregation of the Missionary Catechists of St. Teresa of the Child Jesus (1889-1978); Italian Fr. Giovanni Ciresola, founder of the Congregation of the Poor Servants of the Most Precious Blood-Cenacle of Charity (1902-1987); Italian Fr. Luigi Bosio (1909-1994); Italian Fr. Luigi Maria Raineri, member of the Congregation of the Clerics Regular of St. Paul (1895-1918); Spanish Sr. Maria Antonia di Gesu, member of the Discalced Carmelites (1700-1760); Spanish Sr. Arcangela Badosa Cuatrecasas, member of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel (1878-1918); Italian Sr. Maria Addolorata del Sacro Costato of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Passion of Jesus Christ (1920-1954); and Italian Lodovico Coccapani, lay member of the Secular Franciscan Order (1849-1931).  

Cardinal O'Brien: Don't let Holy Land become a 'museum'

Vatican City, Nov 7, 2018 / 12:29 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Cardinal Edwin O’Brien, Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, told journalists Wednesday that the order of knighthood is committed to providing good educational opportunities in the Holy Land to help Christians remain in their homeland. “We don’t want the Holy Land to become a museum,” O’Brien said Nov. 7. He spoke in advance of the general assembly of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, which will take place near the Vatican next week. O’Brien said he believes education, at all levels, is one of the greatest contributions the order has made. Education offers stabilization by giving young people in the Holy Land the foundation for a better future, and by contributing to inter-religious dialogue and harmony, since both Christians and Muslims attend order-funded schools, he noted. The order provides around 80 percent of the total operating budget of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, supporting around 68 parishes, 44 schools, and 90,000 Christians in Jordan, Palestine, Israel and Cyprus. This aid is coordinated through the governing body of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, called the Grand Magisterium. O’Brien told EWTN Nov. 7 the order has seen success in the cooperation among Christians and between Christians and Muslims in the area of the patriarchate. “The effective role that we play is in dialogue,” he said, “but especially in education, because for many [Christians in the Holy Land] there are no real solid education opportunities.” The order provides education for Christians “no matter what they can do to pay,” he said. The order’s members “are committed to doing whatever’s necessary to advance the pastoral, educational, and humanitarian needs of Christians and others in Palestine, West Bank, Jordan, and Israel,” he said. “And I think we very effectively do that... People depend on the help that they receive from us because there’s very little else to look for.” The “consulta,” as next week’s general assembly is called, takes place every five years and brings together a portion of the estimated 30,000 knights and dames of the order to discuss future projects and the mission of the order. Members come from 40 countries and make both a spiritual and financial commitment of support of the Church in the Holy Land, particularly the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. O’Brien told EWTN that a part of the assembly will be to hear from members “what their local needs are, and to respond to them.” “It’s very important that we know whom we’re serving and what they’re accomplishing in their various lieutenancies, and that they coordinate and collaborate together, and in and through us, to make our members’ charity and generosity more effective,” he said.

Pope says entrepreneurship needed in face of 'scandalous poverty'

Vatican City, Nov 7, 2018 / 04:47 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis spoke of the need for creative entrepreneurship in the face of “scandalous poverty” Wednesday, stressing the importance of generosity with one’s possessions. “If there is hunger on earth, it is not because food is missing!” Pope Francis said in St. Peter’s Square Nov. 7. “What is lacking is a free and far-sighted entrepreneurship, which ensures adequate production, and a solidarity approach, which ensures fair distribution,” he continued. “Possession is a responsibility,” Francis stressed. "The ownership of a good makes the one who owns it an ‘administrator of Providence.’” “The possession of goods is an opportunity to multiply them with creativity and use them with generosity, and thus grow in love and freedom,” he said. Quoting the catechism, Pope Francis said, “Man, using created goods, must consider the external things that he legitimately possesses, not only as his own, but also as common, in the sense that they can benefit not only him but also others.” The pope’s remarks on entrepreneurship and ownership came during a reflection on the seventh commandment, “Thou shall not steal.” In recent months, Pope Francis has dedicated his weekly general audiences to a series of lessons and reflections on the Ten Commandments recorded in the scriptural books of Exodus and Deuteronomy. “‘Do not steal’ means: love with your goods, take advantage of your means to love as you can. Then your life becomes good and possession becomes truly a gift. Because life is not the time to possess, but to love,” Francis said. In a departure from his prepared remarks, he said, “If I can give … I am rich, not only in what I possess, but also in generosity.” “In fact, if I cannot give something, it's because that thing has me -- I'm a slave!” he added. Pope Francis reflected upon St. Paul’s letter to St. Timothy, which says, “For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains.” Christ “enriched us with his poverty,” Pope Francis said. “While humanity struggles to get more, God redeems him by making himself poor: the Crucified Man has paid for all an inestimable ransom from God the Father, ‘rich in mercy,’” he continued. The love of money leads to vanity, pride, and arrogance, the pope warned, adding that “the devil enters through the pockets.” During his general audience, the pope greeted pilgrims from around the world, including a particular greeting for the participants of the first International Men’s Meeting in Rome. The pope also mentioned that this weekend will mark the 100th anniversary of the independence of Poland and said, “May you always be accompanied by the protection of Mary Queen of Poland and the blessing of God!”