Piura, Peru, Jul 28, 2021 / 16:01 pm (CNA).
The Archbishop of Piura on Tuesday encouraged working for unity in Peru and reminded the faithful that neither hatred nor violence are the way to the future, as the nation celebrates its bicentennial.
“Without denying the seriousness of many problems and the injustice of many situations, it is essential to proclaim that hatred and violence are never the way,” Archbishop José Antonio Eguren Anselmi preached July 27 during a Mass celebrated for the Peruvian bicentennial at the Piura cathedral.
Peru declared its independence from Spain July 28, 1821.
Archbishop Eguren declared in his homily that “only love and constructive personal effort can get to the bottom of problems. Hence the importance of rejecting today and always, all forms of violence that are always anti-Christian, and any ideology that has hatred and struggle as engines of history and as false means to achieve social justice.”
The archbishop said that “the current situation we are living in has once again exposed, with painful rawness, the greatest weakness that Peruvians have: disunity.”
“Today it pains us to see a country divided, in confrontation, polarized and agitated, and what’s most dangerous, threatened in its democratic coexistence and in its fundamental freedoms by a totalitarian minority,” he lamented.
Peru has been in political crisis in recent years. A two-round presidential election was recently won by Pedro Castillo of Free Peru, a socialist party, by a margin of fewer than 45,000 votes.
In his homily, Archbishop Eguren explained that “authentic unity is only achieved in the truth, never in lies. Lying only leads to disunity, mistrust, violence, confrontations, and moral and economic poverty. Only in the truth can one live and govern, never in falsehood and deception,” which is why it is “so important that the electoral processes are clean and transparent.”
The archbishop said that “unity is achieved when politics is conceived as an eminent form of charity and service, and through it the dignity of the human person is promoted and defended, with all its demands, including the transcendent and eternal, and not as a way to achieve power to serve one’s own or ideological horizons.”
The Archbishop of Piura stressed that unity is achieved “when rulers and politicians are aware that undermining faith in God, and not respecting the human right to religious freedom in the long run turns against man himself and against fraternal human coexistence, and in the case of Peru, it turns against its national identity, since our country is a Christian people, identified with Christ and his Mother, the Virgin Mary.”
“We beg Jesus Christ, the Lord of History, to bless, protect, and in the current circumstances, unite, defend and heal our beloved Homeland, from the delicate situation we live in, where the critical health situation that still affects us and has been aggravated by the moral evil of many, all of which strikes the poorest with special cruelty,” Archbishop Eguren continued.
“We remember today in our prayers, the more than 195,000 Peruvians who have died during the pandemic. Never again should a genocide such as the one we have experienced happen among us, which has surpassed all the combined deaths from ten years of terrorism and those of the War of the Pacific,” he said.
Archbishop Eguren remarked that José de San Martín, the liberator of Peru, “would tell us today that we should reject all forms of totalitarianism,” which is an “ominous system where a political group usurps the role of the sole guide, as well as the freedom of persons-citizens, and man and the people become objects, notwithstanding all the verbal declarations and promises.”
“In totalitarianism, a political group seeks to perpetuate itself in power, as well as to violate the right of the people to elect their own rulers through free and fair elections,” he stated.
“Likewise, the state ceases to be ‘our common home’ where everyone can live according to the principles of fundamental equality, and is transformed into a tyrant state that claims to be able to dispose of people’s lives, in the name of public utility, which is nothing else, in reality, but the search for interest and privileges for a privileged caste.”
Archbishop Eguren added that San Martín would surely also “ask us today to work for a Peru freed from the scourge of corruption, that which weakens democracy and its institutions, and that, although it affects us all, especially affects the poorest and most needy.”
“Dear brothers: In this celebration of the bicentennial, and despite all that we have and are experiencing, let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of the hope and the joy that springs from our faith in the Lord and who gives us the strength to live. Let us never think that our work and efforts down here are completely useless.”
The archbishop stressed that Peruvians “have the highest responsibility to build a just and reconciled Peru where the spirit of the Beatitudes is lived.”
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By Vatican News staff writer
The Bishops of Guatemala have aired their disapproval over the recent removal of internationally known graft prosecutor, Juan Francisco Sandoval, from his position as the head of Guatemala’s Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity (FECI).
In their 5–point statement issued on Sunday, the bishops who decried Sandoval’s firing as “illegal and arbitrary” said that the public outcry that it generated, shows that it is a “setback in the efficient fight against corruption and impunity” that have done so much damage to the integral development of the country.
Guatemala’s attorney general, Maria Porras, removed Sandoval from his post on Friday, prompting public outcry and criticism that the move was a setback to the rule of law.
The Special Prosecutor’s unit, FECI, led by Sandoval, was originally created to tackle investigations spearheaded by the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) which was removed from the country in 2019. The agency had been hit with legal challenges seeking to declare it unconstitutional.
Porras defended Sandoval’s firing, accusing him of frequent abuses and undermining her work, though she did not provide further details.
Following the decision, hundreds of Guatemalans gathered outside the presidential palace on Saturday protesting the ouster of the anti-graft fighter.
Sandoval, known for his work in investigating and litigating cases against former officials, presidents and business leaders in Guatemala, reportedly fled the country to the Salvadoran borders on Saturday morning, hours after being sacked.
In the statement signed by CEG President, Archbishop Gonzalo de villa y Vasquez, SJ, the bishops note that “prompt and impartial justice, and the investigation of crime are guarantors of freedom and democracy”. More so, “only if the law is respected and obeyed with a moral sense, can it be interpreted and applied in the service of the common good.”
In this regard, they stress that “nothing is more dangerous for the institutionalism of the country than to have mafias entrenched in the organs of the state” because those who rejoice at Sandoval’s dismissal only “feel safe and comfortable when the regime of impunity is consolidated.”
The bishops go on to point out that though it is common knowledge that the process of the administration of justice in Guatemala has serious flaws, the Public Prosecutor’s Office – the State body in charge of investigation and prosecution of crimes committed – has, in recent years, “been able to investigate acts that previously enjoyed total impunity, generating hope among citizens and relieving the victims.” And in these investigations, the Special Prosecutor’s Office Against Impunity (FECI) played a fundamental role.
Further supporting their opinion that the abrupt dismissal of prosecutor Juan Francisco Sandoval has done “irreparable damage to the country,” the CEG expressed concern that important cases he was handling would be slowed down and the Office of the Public Prosecutor would suffer an increased loss of credibility.
On top of that, they feared that “citizen indignation will grow, social protests and the level of conflict will increase, and the already deficient management of the pandemic and the tortuous process of vaccinations will be further complicated.”
Concluding their statement, the Bishops launched an appeal to authorities and all those who work in the justice institutions of the country, to continue to be committed to the pursuit of justice and to peacebuilding as a greater good. They also urged them to be courageous in recognizing their mistakes and to not lose “the horizon of the common good as the ultimate expression of the purpose of the State of Guatemala.”
Washington D.C., Jul 28, 2021 / 15:03 pm (CNA).
Students and professors at the Catholic University of America (CUA) are building a full-scale truss replicating that which was destroyed in a 2019 fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
On the lawn in front of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., students and professors at the university are working with the architecture non-profit Handhouse Studio to create a wooden truss, a roofing framework. The truss has the same specifications as one of the hundreds of trusses destroyed in the devastating April 2019 fire at Notre Dame Cathedral.
“The making of this in front of the Basilica is magic.” said Tonya Ohnstad, visiting professor at the university’s school of architecture and a leader in construction effort, to CNA in a July 27 phone interview.
The truss, which will be approximately 45 feet wide and 35 feet tall when finished, is being constructed in partnership with Handhouse Studio during a 10-day workshop. Ohnstad compared the rebuilding of the truss to a “true living medieval experience.”
The workshop began on Monday morning when 30 White Oak trees donated from neighboring Virginia forests arrived at the university campus, along with a crane. Traditional timber framers, carpenters, faculty, students, and alumni have been participating in the project, using the methods and materials of the original medieval builders of Notre Dame.
“It’s so incredible,” Ohnstad said, “I wish everyone could come and see the way they would have seen the construction of these important buildings with people working, all of the embodied energy of the humans, and everything people are pouring into these logs that would then be part of the church.”
An architecture graduate student involved in the effort, Sam Merklein, told CNA that his class contributed research into different joints, sketches, and dimensions of the truss; the students worked in collaboration with the Notre Dame architects in France.
“It’s amazing to see all the drawings that detail all the different components of the building,” Merklein said, “but then also just to be able to say that we’re helping to reconstruct a cathedral that is hundreds of years old and has had so much work put into it throughout the century is amazing.”
The university’s architecture department is teaching a related course on the history and reconstruction of the cathedral, which includes a public lecture series featuring experts from many fields.
Ohnstad’s architecture class on the cathedral, which began at the end of June, prepared for four weeks before the timber arrived on campus. She told CNA her team is rebuilding the sixth truss out of the hundreds of trusses that held up the cathedral.
When asked if the truss will be used in the actual rebuilding of the cathedral, Ohnstad told CNA it has not been decided yet. She called the truss building a “gesture of global solidarity” to show the French that “we’re in this with them, we want to help them reconstruct it, and that we hope that they will take a truss from us and put it in Notre Dame.”
Ohnstad told CNA that she is collaborating with the group Charpentiers sans Frontières (“Carpenters Without Border”). As the team at CUA could have slightly different measurements and estimates than the team in France, the truss could be ruled out from being used in the Cathedral for that reason.
However, when finished, the truss will be raised in front of the basilica for display on August 3 at 5:30 p.m. At the event, Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington will come to bless the structure.
The truss will then be raised for display on the National Mall on August 5, in partnership with the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Training Center and with the support of Preservation Maryland.
The National Building Museum also found interest in the truss, and will be exhibiting the structure within its “Great Hall” for sight seeing from August 6 to September 16.
“I think it’s really amazing that across the Atlantic we’re able to help out with the cathedral,” Merklein said, “and whether or not the timber framers here are going to send over a truss into the cathedral, or if it’s just going to be a symbolic effort and gesture, I think it’s a really great experience and something I’m proud to work on.”
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Denver Newsroom, Jul 28, 2021 / 14:01 pm (CNA).
A Catholic priest in southern India who made political remarks, including criticism of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, has been arrested for alleged hate speech.
The priest, Father George Ponnaiah, denies the charges, and has suggested that videos criticizing his remarks were deceptively edited. He apologized for any hurt he may have caused.
“My speech has been edited and circulated on social media to show that I hurt the sentiments of Hindu brothers and sisters,” Father Ponnaiah said, according to UCA News. “None of us on the dais said anything hurting religious sentiments. If my speech hurt anyone, I apologize wholeheartedly.”
Ponnaiah is a vicar of the Diocese of Kuzhithurai in the southern India state of Tamil Nadu. He was arrested July 24 and detained by a trial court for 15 days, as police filed criminal charges against him for his July 18 remarks. Some Hindu activists had threatened to stage protests on July 28 if the priest was not arrested.
The diocese’s administrator rejected any form of disparaging comments, but also said the diocese would provide legal aid to Ponnaiah.
His alleged controversial remarks came at a meeting in Arumani in Kanyakumari district, attended by Christian and Muslim leaders and representatives of various organizations. The meeting had been convened to condemn closures of churches, bans on conducting prayer meetings, and denial of permits to build churches.
The meeting also aimed to pay tribute to Fr. Stanislaus Lourduswamy, popularly known as Father Stan Swami, who spent the last eight months of his life jailed on terror charges for his activism on behalf of Indian society’s lowest castes. The Jesuit died in early July at the age of 84. He had several health problems, including Parkinson’s disease, and had recently been admitted to a Mumbai hospital under a court order after he was infected with the COVID-19 novel coronavirus.
Ponnaiah, who is secretary of the Democratic Christian Forum, said that several political leaders “should not forget that they did not get any Hindu votes. They should not forget that their victory was the alms given by Christians and Muslims casting their votes.” The priest reportedly claimed that the Tamil Nadu state legislator M.R. Ghandi, a BJP member, was the lead suspect in the 1982 Mandaikadu religious riots that killed seven people, the Times of India reports.
The priest’s remarks were publicized in a video that went viral. He reportedly criticized leaders of the state’s ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government and leaders of the BJP, which others have criticized for extreme Hindu nationalism. Ponnaiah criticized PJB leaders like Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, UCA News reports.
His critics also claim he made disparaging remarks about the personified goddess “Mother India” and the Hindu religion.
Archbishop Antony Pappusamy of Madurai, the current apostolic administrator of the priest’s diocese, said he was not sure if Ponnaiah really made the statements attributed to him, but voiced disapproval of these remarks.
“The priest is head of an association called the Democratic Christian Forum and all the comments attributed to him were made in his personal capacity,” the archbishop told UCA News.
Pappusamy said the Church and its staff always work for greater harmony and peace between people and religious communities of different backgrounds, adding “we believe in universal brotherhood.”
The archbishop said he could not speak to Ponnaiah to know the facts of the situation, but added that he has approved legal help for the priest.
“The diocese will fight the case legally and an attorney has been appointed to move bail for the priest,” he said.
The priest is accused of violating several laws: promoting enmity between different groups on the grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence and language; insulting religion or religious beliefs with deliberate malice to outrage the feelings of any class; and creating or promoting ill will between classes.
He also faces charges that he conducted the meeting in violation of health protocols that aim to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
As of 2020, the anti-persecution charity Open Doors ranked India as the 10th worst persecutor of Christians worldwide. It said persecution of religious minorities has increased since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party gained power in 2014, with thousands of such incidents every year. It accused the ruling party of allowing extremists to attack Christians with impunity.
Hate crimes against Christians in India increased by 40% in the first half of 2020 despite a three-month nationwide lockdown, according to a report last year from the ecumenical group Persecution Relief. That report ranked Tamil Nadu the second-worst state in India for such crimes, with the worst being Uttar Pradesh state.
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Editor’s note: This review was originally posted on November 11, 2019.
“In vino veritas,” Doc Holliday reminds an enemy in a gambling saloon in the 1993 film Tombstone, thereby insinuating that his own insulting behavior toward the outlaw is not mere drunkenness but instead reflects Holliday’s real sentiments. “Age quod agis,” retorts the other man darkly. The two continue their brief but very hostile exchange of schoolboy phrases until an anxious saloonkeeper tells them to break it up: “C’mon, boys, we don’t want any trouble here—not in any language.”
Amusing Hollywood fiction or no, the scene reminds us of a very different era, when even gunfighters such as Holliday received an intensive classical education. And just to be clear, “classical education” did not mean Great Books programs or a curriculum saturated with Greco-Roman mythology, but subjects such as trigonometry, logic, rhetoric, and of course Latin.
Along with the Tridentine Mass, which employs it, this last subject is the focus of Fr. Roberto Spataro’s new book In Praise of the Tridentine Mass and of Latin, Language of the Church. Even the very title is fraught with meaning, it seems to me, through its dual emphasis. If we seek a restoration, it is necessary to promote a renewed appreciation of the ancient liturgy and a revival of Latin-centered education.
Certainly those who look up to Cardinal Raymond Burke as a bulwark against reckless Amazonian theology should take to heart the remarks of His Excellency’s uncompromising introductory foreword:
Because of the general indifference towards the teaching of Latin, especially in the seminaries, the Church has reached a state in which many of her pastors no longer know her universal language. If it is absurd to think that seminarians may seriously study theology, the sacred liturgy, and canon law without being able to read the primary texts written in Latin, it is even more absurd that priests destined for higher studies of the sacred sciences find themselves without this capacity.
What Catholic “conservatives” might take away from this is that whenever they too exhibit “indifference toward the teaching of Latin,” they contribute to the environment which fosters the very looniness they themselves bemoan. If we shrug as a Catholic prep school drops Virgil, we really have no business complaining when our universities host The Vagina Monologues.
As a matter of fact, some Protestant schools have picked up the slack, with a case in point being Hillsdale College. Hillsdale has demonstrated its earnest commitment to reviving its once-defunct classics department by enlisting Patrick Owens, one of the world’s foremost practitioners of “living Latin” pedagog, and Owens’ introduction alone justifies the purchase price of this book, as it offers the reader a smooth, clear, and good-humored history of Latin education from someone who obviously knows his subject inside and out.
In particular Professor Owens drives home the fact that Latin is not just about men in togas nor even the medievals, but is rather part of the very foundations of modernity:
After the watershed moment for vernacular literature at the start of the fourteenth century when Dante composed his Divine Comedy, scholars and artists of every stripe like Petrarch, Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Leibniz, and even Nietzsche continued to write principal works in Latin. The use of Latin was so common up through the nineteenth century as to be taken for granted throughout Europe and its colonies. Until that time, there was no interval of time when Latin was not spoken in universities and throughout the Church. For most of the modern period, a graduate student in any field would have been embarrassed to submit a dissertation that was not in Latin.
For his part, Professor Owens emphasizes that Catholics seeking an explanation for how and why we have moved so far away from this state of affairs should resist the temptation to hastily scapegoat the councilors of Vatican II, as the rise of the modern, centralized nation-state played a role by displacing Latin in favor of national languages. A vicious cycle ensued, for as fewer teachers were able to teach Latin well, fewer teachers were able to, well, teach Latin well.
In the main body of the text Fr. Spataro looks to the more distant past, to the time when Latin first set aside its limited role as the tongue of a particular people and assumed its lofty role as an international bond:
I would like to recall that, after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, accompanied in the fifth century by the influx of new peoples, the Latin language became immortal, destined never again tot die. Beginning in the fifth century, civil and political communities selected Latin for their daily conversations, to be the basis of relationships, for drawing up administrative acts, for composing literary works, and for the celebration of prayers. In this way the peoples of Europe, in dialogue with one another through the use of the same language, developed a unique spirit of their own.
It seems to me that at least some of the rancorous controversies about “Western civilization” might be resolved by toning down triumphalist phrases about Western democracy or science and instead matter-of-factly defining “the West” as that cluster of cultures networked together through Latin fluency. (This would of course raise the question of how much of the West really still exists today, but such a question might indeed be well worth asking.)
In any event, the “unique spirit” to which Fr. Spataro refers was hardly confined to Europe. For instance, other scholars have already demonstrated the debt the American colonies owed to the classical inheritance, whether all the colonists themselves were willing to acknowledge said debt or not.
And, of course, there is the religious dimension. As Professor Owens plainly puts it, Latin is essential to who we are, as Catholic Christians:
Languages are intrinsically bound to cultures, and Latin for nearly two-thousand years had been the language not only of Catholic culture in the West but of Western culture itself. It is for this reason that the Church took pains to keep alive the tradition of active Latin. Catholic intellectuals knew well that since Latin was the vehicle of culture, a superficial familiarity would not be sufficient. To ensure the ability to engage with past sources and contemporary intellectuals as well as to protect the transference of Catholic culture to subsequent generations, active language use is essential.
For those seeking an authentically Christian and wholesomely cosmopolitan alternative to liberal globalism, the revival of Latin is critical. In contrast to American “Coca-Colonialism,” classical culture allows for the diversity of provincial and national cultures even as it links such cultures into a larger metaculture. Unlike Disney, Marvel, and garish pop musicians, long-dead Romans do not threaten to supplant all local identity and history, much less the Faith.
Just as the Eucharist is the heart of the Church, so the Latin Mass must be at the heart of any discussion of the role of Latin in Christian life. When Fr. Spataro calls “for a correction, a reorientation ad Deum,” he means it quite literally. The theocentric counter-revolution, he explains, began with Benedict XVII’s Motu Proprio:
We would be mistaken to consider [the Motu Proprio] merely as an act of generosity by the Supreme Pontiff to meet the spiritual needs of a minority group of priests and faithful. On the contrary, it is an invitation to the whole Church. Knowledge, diffusion, and practice of the Holy Mass and the other sacraments in the extraordinary form is a great opportunity to restore spiritual profundity to Catholicism. This is the true pastoral priority, over and above transient circumstances.
The point here is neither to stamp out the Novus Ordo nor to disparage the priests who reverently serve it or the many Catholics who faithfully attend it, but to recognize that in a world of frenzied continual change we could use some more spiritual anchors, which could well come in the form of more Latin masses.
Our Latin-educated Catholic forebears were not perfect, but we surely do have some things to learn from them, too, even from dangerous and violent men like Doc Holliday. As a postscript it is interesting to note that Holliday’s devout cousin Mattie, a Sister of Mercy, had urged him to think of his soul as he lay dying of tuberculosis; he followed her advice and was received into the Church shortly before his passing. If the past was an era when students had to sweat over “dead” languages, it was also a time when a nun might persuade a deadly gunfighter to accept the water of baptism.
In Praise of the Tridentine Mass and of Latin, Language of the Church
By Fr. Roberto Spataro
Translated by Zachary Thomas
Foreword by Raymond Cardinal Burke
Introduction by Patrick M. Owens
Angelico Press, 2019
Paperback, 123 pages
Related at CWR: “For the Love of Latin” (Sept 2, 2019) by Reverend Peter M.J. Stravinskas.
Rome, Italy, Jul 28, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).
The Vatican unveiled Thursday the official image of the 2022 World Meeting of Families in Rome.
The image, painted by the Slovenian Jesuit Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik, was released July 28 by the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life and the Diocese of Rome, which will host the event on June 22-26, 2022.
The image, entitled “This mystery is great,” features the Wedding at Cana, the first miracle of Jesus in the Gospel of John.
The wedding is depicted in the background of the painting, with the bride and groom standing behind a veil on the left, and Jesus and Mary on the right. Before them is a servant pouring wine.
Rupnik, the director of the Centro Aletti in Rome, is best known for overseeing the renovation of the Redemptoris Mater Chapel in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, which reopened in 1999 after three years of work.
He redesigned the Knights of Columbus’ Holy Family Chapel in New Haven, Connecticut, in 2005. He also designed the mosaics in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut.
In a video exploring the new painting’s meaning, Rupnik said: “For us Christians, the family is the expression of a sacrament, which is marriage. And this changes its meaning completely, because a sacrament always implies transformation.”
He continued: “It is within natural life that the Holy Spirit brings about the transformation of the way of existence. And he does so by transfiguring natural life, not by denying it, but by embracing it and transforming it, because the primacy is no longer of nature, but of the relation.”
“So to set up this image, on the occasion of this great gathering of families, I thought about where I should start from.”
“What I felt was important was to show the novelty of the family according to the Church, according to baptism, according to life in Christ, according to the new man.”
The priest said that he was inspired to depict the servant pouring wine as St. Paul the Apostle by the writings of the Syriac poet-theologian St. Jacob of Serugh (c. 451-521).
The saint wrote: “After the wedding feast, Paul went in and saw / the veil spread out there, he took it and pulled it away from the beautiful couple. / In this way he uncovered and revealed to the whole world Christ and his Church / whom the prophet Moses had depicted in his prophecy.”
A July 28 press release explained that in the painting, St. Paul is drawing back the veil from the bride and groom, and exclaiming, regarding the wedding, “This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the Church!” (Ephesians 5:32).
Rupnik created the image using vinyl paint on plaster mounted on a wooden square with sides of approximately 30 inches.
The first World Meeting of Families took place in Rome in 1994 at the behest of St. John Paul II. It was also held in the Eternal City in the year 2000. The meetings take place every three years and the most recent gathering was in Dublin, Ireland, in 2018.
The 10th World Meeting of Families will be the third time that Rome has hosted the event. It was originally scheduled for June 2021, but was postponed by a year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It will be held at the end of the Amoris Laetitia Family Year, which marks the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis apostolic exhortation on love in the family, Amoris laetitia. The Year, which began on March 19, will last for 15 months, culminating with the gathering in Rome.
Pope Francis has called for local gatherings to be held across the globe at the same time as the meeting in Rome.
In his reflection on the image, Rupnik recalled that the Russian philosopher Nikolai Berdyaev (1874-1948) once wrote that “in Christian traditions, marriage has not been explored yet, because we have included it too quickly into family, however according to nature.”
The priest said: “I hope that, through this text and also through this small image, we can understand that for us Christians, the family is the expression of the Sacrament and that it has an ecclesial dimension, therefore it is inseparable from the Church.”
“In it, the bond of blood cannot compete with our participation in the blood of Christ, even if it is easy for the blood according to nature to prevail and not the blood of the Eucharist.”
He continued: “But, as another great father, [the 14th-century Byzantine mystic] Nicholas Cabasilas, puts it: ‘We are truly blood relatives of Christ.’ Our parents gave us blood, but our blood is not the parents’ blood. As soon as they gave it to us, our blood is no longer theirs. While we are nourished by life, that is, by the blood of Christ that becomes ours.”
“Therefore, for Christians, the family is an expression of the sacrament and of ecclesiality, and it indicates how in this world man lives when he is united with God. It becomes an expression of the divine humanity of Christ.”
Vatican City, Jul 28, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).
A Vatican spokesman confirmed Wednesday that the fifth bishop to be created under the 2018 Vatican-China deal has been ordained.
Anthony Li Hui was appointed coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Pingliang by Pope Francis on Jan. 11, according to spokesman Matteo Bruni.
Bruni said that Bishop Li was ordained in the Cathedral of Pingliang, in the province of Gansu, on July 28.
Pingliang, in north-central China, has a wider metropolitan population of more than two million people.
According to UCA News, the 49-year-old Bishop Li was consecrated by Archbishop Joseph Ma Yinglin of Kunming, president of the state-sanctioned Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China.
Bishops’ conference vice president Bishop Joseph Guo Jincai and Bishop Nicolas Han Jide of Pingliang were concelebrants.
Representatives of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, a state-endorsed organization founded in 1957, were also present.
Li was born in 1972 in Mei county in the province of Shaanxi. He was ordained a priest for Pingliang diocese in 1996. He also studied the Chinese language at Renmin University in Beijing.
Starting in 1998, Li worked at the secretariat office of the Chinese bishops’ conference and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association in Beijing.
Before his appointment as bishop, Li was secretary of the Chinese bishops’ conference.
In October 2020, the Vatican and China renewed their provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops for another two years.
Bishop Antonio Yao Shun of Jining, in the Autonomous Region of Inner Mongolia, was the first bishop consecrated in China under the terms of the Sino-Vatican agreement, on Aug. 26, 2019.
Bishop Li is the third bishop to be consecrated since the deal’s renewal.
The publication of Pope Francis’ motu proprio, Traditionis Custodes, has once more lit the embers underneath ecclesiological and liturgical debates. Among the various reactions to this document include disbelief, shock, and hurt by those who love the traditional Latin Mass; while those favorable to the spirit of the Second Vatican Council express vindication, triumph, and glee.
As bishops scramble to their flocks and discern how best to implement the motu proprio, there seems to be more emphases given to questions of canonical and pastoral nature, such as the future of long-existing Latin Mass communities, the existence of religious congregations attached to the rite, and the rights of priests to offer Mass according to the 1962 missal. With traditionalists holding high Pius V’s Quo Primum (1570) and progressives Paul VI’s Missale Romanum (1969), the arguments rage on regarding the legal status of the traditional Roman Rite.
Amidst the clanging clamor and ubiquitous uproar, I suggest there be a collective pause, so to allow space for a reflection of a more theological nature. Given the papal-centric nature of this discourse, it is important to ask the following: was the Sacred Liturgy made for the pope, or the pope for the Sacred Liturgy?
Knee-jerk reactions to this question might include a quotation from the First Vatican Council (1869-70) on the pope’s unquestionable role on faith, morals, discipline, and government of the Church (Pastor aeternus, III.2). Pope Pius XII’s encyclical, Mediator Dei (1947), also comes to mind, in which he states that only the pope has “the right to recognize and establish any practice touching the worship of God, to introduce and approve new rites, as also to modify those he judges to require modification.” (58) Other reactions might quote the 1983 Code of Canon Law, which makes clear the pope’s “supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church” (Can. 331). As the administration of the sacraments falls within Church discipline, it is not surprising that canon law designates the ordering of the liturgy to the pope (Can. 838 §2) and even grants him the power to “approve or define the requirements for their validity.” (Can. 841).
Immediately, then, we are faced with disturbing questions. If the pope has the power over the liturgy, then what is stopping him from suppressing all of the Eastern rites and forcing the Eastern Catholic Churches to use the Novus Ordo Missae, if not a brand new liturgy crafted for postmodern man? If the pope can determine what is required for sacramental validity, what is preventing the Holy Father from replacing the bread and wine used for the consecration at Mass with rice and tea?
Some might argue that the pope would never do such a thing, and they rightfully point out the damage such an action could cause to the Church. Others might dismiss such hypotheticals as absurdities, claiming that the people of God would resist. But such protesting does not change the fact that, according to the aforementioned quotations, the pope indeed does have such power—whether or not he chooses to use it is an entirely different issue. To deny the pope this power would seemingly call the papal office itself into question.
Historically, Scholastic theologians were not afraid to tackle such hypotheticals. Cardinal Juan de Torquemada (1388–1468), while not dealing with this particular issue, nevertheless knew that there were limits to papal authority. The pope was constrained by divine and natural law, the order of the sacraments, and moral teachings (Summa de ecclesia, 3.57) For Torquemada, the pope’s authority was tied to its purpose—there was no papal authority in the abstract, but only in relation to his relationship to the Church, which was one of confirming the Christian faith and preserving the proper order of the Church (status ecclesiae), whose mission is the salvation of souls. Elsewhere in his treatise on the Church, Torquemada also notes how, among all the things necessary for promoting the well-being of the Church, none is higher than those pertaining to divine worship (maxime ad cultum divinum).
Following in Torquemada’s footsteps, the well-known Jesuit philosopher-theologian, Francisco Suarez (1548–1617), was quick to show how papal power is not absolute in an unqualified sense. For example, if the pope decided to excommunicate the entire Church, he would be in error. The pope would also err—as well as commit the sin of schism from the Church—if he were to overthrow or destroy (evertere) liturgical rites of apostolic origin (De charitate, 12.1)
Let us return to the original question: was the Sacred Liturgy made for the pope, or the pope for the Sacred Liturgy? If we affirm the former, then we acknowledge the fullness of power (plenitudo potestatis) belonging to the Supreme Pontiff, albeit at the expense of granting that the liturgy—in theory—could be his plaything. In this mindset, the pope is the ultimate arbiter of divine worship, and if he requires that priests offer the Mass while on riding on a unicycle, there is nothing preventing him (save divine intervention) from doing so. Even the assurances of those who suggest that this is not probable does not quell the fear that it is possible. However, if we affirm the latter—that the pope was made for the Sacred Liturgy, we might have a firmer and more theological basis for his liturgical role, one that grants the pope’s primacy without sacrificing the beauty and truth of ancient worship.
With all respect to all that Catholic faith teaches regarding his office, the pope, above all, is a bishop, and a bishop is necessarily a priest. A priest is one who offers sacrifice to the LORD, and the only true and absolute priest is Christ Himself (Heb 7:25-28) All priestly acts flow from His priesthood, all holy sacrifices from His sacrifice. In his sacramental actions, the priest acts in the person of Christ (in persona Christi), not in the person of the pope. In many ways, the priest does indeed represent the bishop, who, as the Catechism notes, possesses the “fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders” (#1557). In the early Church, the bishop was the primary celebrant of the Eucharist. The unity of the Church was expressed through the offering of Christ in the Eucharist, and the bishop represented Christ, offering the Divine Victim to the Father, the Head offering the Body made manifest through the gathering assembly (synaxis). Each local Church expressed their visible communion through gathering for liturgy celebrated by the bishop, and each bishop manifests his communion with the wider Church through his union with the Church of Rome, which held a true primacy in relation to the other Churches.
Why is the focus on the pope-as-priest important to our question? Let us imagine an undivided Church, in which all the bishops are gathered for the Eucharistic liturgy. By the very nature of the Mass, there can only be one main celebrant. Given its historical and theological importance, the Bishop of Rome would hold such primacy, just as St. Peter was known as the leader of the Apostles. But what does such primacy consist of? The pope would express his primacy in “presiding in love”, as St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote. Such presiding would have its fullest sense in liturgical presidency. In the liturgy, we witness the offering Christ to the Father, the same offering made on Calvary for the remission of sins. If primacy is regarded as “power over”, then the pope’s primacy—which, I suggest, is best seen in him serving the altar as bishop and priest—has no place in the liturgy.
The liturgy is not our pushing aside Christ and putting ourselves on the Cross, but instead our mystical participation in Calvary, which is a sacrifice we first must receive before participating. To speak of papal primacy as “power over” fails the litmus test by which we should measure our identity—in the Sacred Liturgy, the “source and summit of the Christian life.”
If we think of the liturgy as a ‘thing’, then it makes sense that it was made for the pope, whose supremacy was dogmatized at Vatican I. But if we understand the liturgy to be the divine drama of salvation made present, the saving acts of the LORD given to the Church as a mountain of treasure, then we cannot help but reject the notion that the guardian of such treasure has the right to dispose of it, for it did not originate with him, nor does it belong solely to him, but rather the treasure is given to the Church as its ransom and redemption.
The liturgy is not a ‘thing’ which we can grasp; it is a mystery we enter into. The liturgy is not a fabrication of the Church’s musings upon God, but a gift given to the Church for the glory of God, the good of the Church, and love of God’s people. As a member of the Church—despite there being no earthly equal to him or his authority—the pope is the recipient of liturgy, not its creator nor its master.
Thus, the liturgy has a logical priority over the pope, for without the liturgy, the Church has no reason to exist, nor any ability to participate in the divine life of the Holy Trinity. Tradition is the vehicle through which liturgy is transmitted—just as we cannot create a new Calvary, Resurrection, or Pentecost, so too is it impossible to “create” a new liturgy. Its substance, as St. Paul writes, was first “received from the Lord” before being “handed over” (1 Cor 11:23). After all, when Christ commanded His Apostles to “Do this in memory of Me,” St. Peter did not dare to suggest “doing that”, instead.
It is the pope who serves the Sacred Liturgy as its celebrant, protector, and transmitter—to claim otherwise would not only reveal a severe misunderstanding of liturgy, but also the papacy, as well.
ACI Prensa Staff, Jul 28, 2021 / 11:00 am (CNA).
The Colombian Bishops’ Conference decried the July 22 ruling of the Constitutional Court that expanded access to euthanasia to non-terminally ill patients. It said this practice not only offends the dignity of persons but is a “serious danger to the frailest and most vulnerable in our society.”
“The practice of euthanasia constitutes a serious offense to the dignity of the human person and encourages the corrosion of fundamental values of the social order,” the bishops said in a statement posted Monday on the conference website.
The bishops explained that expanding “the range of populations or cases in which euthanasia could be requested, as the current court order does, or extending it to other modalities, far from promoting a supposed right, would constitute a serious danger for the frailest and most vulnerable in our society, on whom the weight of the possible taking of their lives would hang, threatening personal freedom.”
The Constitutional Court ruled 6-3 on July 22 to expand access to euthanasia to patients undergoing intense suffering due to a serious and incurable illness or bodily injury. With that decision, it is no longer required that a patient be terminal to request euthanasia, as a 1997 ruling by the same court provided.
According to the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, the Court established that euthanasia will no longer be a crime “when it is carried out by a doctor with free and informed consent, prior to or after the diagnosis of the passive subject of the act, and provided that the patient suffers intense physical or mental suffering, originating from bodily injury or serious and incurable illness.”
The court stated that within the framework of “respect for human dignity, a person cannot be forced to continue living, when he suffers a serious and incurable disease that causes intense suffering, and has taken upon himself the autonomous decision to end his existence in the face of conditions that he considers incompatible with his conception of a dignified life.”
In 2015, the Ministry of Health issued some provisions for the application of the 1997 ruling; and on July 1 this year, the agency issued a resolution which explains and updates the procedures to exercise the “right to die with dignity,” legitimizing the application of euthanasia in the country.
In their statement, the Colombian bishops said that “conditions of serious illness or those related to the end of life must be faced with the greatest of care and respect, since they are painful situations that put the entire person and family members to the test and which demand, as in no other circumstance, the exercise of personal freedom and the accompaniment of society.”
“We believe that the realities of human fragility and vulnerability must be taken up with an attitude of solidarity, confident that mutual care can make the intention to voluntarily take one’s life lessen, even in cases where, based on current medical knowledge, physical healing is no longer possible,” the bishops stated.
They then proposed four ways to achieve this attitude of solidarity.
The bishops noted “
They also emphasized the need to “help with financial resources and psychosocial intervention the most vulnerable families and caregivers.”
“The therapeutic efforts of health care personnel to adequately treat pain and respect the dignity of the patient until the moment of his natural death” are needed, the bishops said.
They urged promotion of “the virtues of citizenship by all social classes, to ensure affective and effective care for those most in need.”
The bishops also stressed that “a fraternal and supportive community is achieved when we are capable of overcoming individualism and making our lives converge around common values.”
“Conceiving human autonomy as a sovereign power of determination does not favor the construction of a social order in which we can feel like neighbors, all traveling in the same boat,” they warned.
The Colombian bishops expressed their desire “with the favor of God, who is always gracious and merciful, we may continue to discover the best ways to respect the right to life of every person and to strengthen the bonds of social friendship among all Colombians.”
Denver Newsroom, Jul 28, 2021 / 10:07 am (CNA).
Following the leak of the Irish Jesuits’ draft inquiry into sexual abuse committed by a deceased member, the order on Monday acknowledged its “shameful” mishandling of the case.
“Decisions were made that should never have been made and decisions that should have been made were not. There are no excuses,” a July 26 statement from the Irish Jesuits reads.
Father Joseph Marmion, SJ taught at Belvedere College in Dublin from 1969 to 1978, and died in 2000. The Irish Jesuits confirmed in March 2021 that Father Marmion had abused boys “sexually, emotionally and physically” at the school in the 1970s.
Following that announcement, the order said it engaged with survivors and intended to find a detailed chronology of Fr. Marmion’s abuse as well as the order’s response.
In a statement this week, the Irish Jesuits admitted that Fr. Marmion’s case was mishandled, and called it “shameful.”
“What has emerged in terms of the story of Marmion’s abuse, and subsequent handling of his case is shameful for us Jesuits and must be very difficult for survivors to read,” the Society of Jesus in Ireland stated.
“We are profoundly sorry for the terrible wrongs that were done to survivors. We again ask forgiveness of all those impacted by Joseph Marmion’s abuse.”
A victim who was 13 years old at the time of the abuse contacted the Irish Jesuits in 2019, the order said. Fr. Leonard Moloney SJ, Provincial of the Order, met with the man, who asked that his abuser, Marmion, be named publicly.
The order said it has been in contact “over many years with others who were abused” by Marmion as young students. The survivors wanted “a robust process that would address the whole truth of what happened and how it was allowed to happen,” the Jesuits said.
The order engaged two “independent restorative justice practitioners,” Barbara Walshe and Catherine O’Connell, to help aid former students who had suffered abuse. The order also prepared a report on the Jesuits’ “knowledge, actions and omission” related to the abuse case. The Irish broadcaster RTE obtained a copy of the draft report this week.
According to the Irish Times, the draft states that a “credible” allegation of abuse was brought against Marmion as early as 1977, but the gardaí, or Irish state police, were not notified.
Marmion was given other assignments after the allegation came to light, including being appointed chaplain to St. Vincent’s Private Hospital in Dublin in 1990.
“We recognise that these subsequent appointments should not have been made,” the Irish Jesuits said in their March statement.
The full contents of the confidential report has not been released, though the Jesuits said “it may be published at a later date,” the Irish Times reported.
While acknowledging the inadequacy of words, the order stated its hope that “acknowledging fully the role we played as an Order in allowing this abuse to happen and go on for so long, will be the beginning of a new way for us of taking responsibility for our failings.”
Vatican City — When Father Anthony Li Hui was ordained a bishop July 28 in the cathedral of the Diocese of Pingliang, China, he became the fifth Chinese bishop appointed under the terms of a Vatican-China agreement signed in 2018 and renewed in 2020, the Vatican press office said.
Bishop Li was appointed coadjutor bishop of Pingliang by Pope Francis Jan. 11, 2021, said Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office.
He eventually will succeed Bishop Nicholas Han Jide, who is 81 years old and has led the diocese since 1999. Bishop Han was one of the concelebrants of Bishop Li’s ordination.
Bishop Li was born in 1972 in Mei County, Shaanxi province, and, after completing his studies at the diocesan seminary in Pingliang and at the national seminary, he was ordained to the priesthood in 1996.
The Vatican-China provisional agreement outlines procedures for ensuring that Catholic bishops are elected by the Catholic community in China and approved by the pope before their ordinations and installations.
Vatican officials have said that giving up full control over the choice of bishops would not be what the Vatican hoped for, but that the agreement was a good first step toward ensuring greater freedom and security for the Catholic community in China.
Pope Francis has told reporters that the agreement envisions “a dialogue about potential candidates. The matter is carried out through dialogue. But the appointment is made by Rome; the appointment is by the pope. This is clear. And we pray for the suffering of some who do not understand or who have many years of clandestine existence behind them.”
The nomination and assignment of bishops was a key sticking point in Vatican-Chinese relations for decades; the Catholic Church insisted that bishops be appointed by the pope, and the Chinese government maintained that would amount to foreign interference in China’s internal affairs.
UCA News reported that Bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin of Kunming, president of the state-sanctioned Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China, presided over the Mass and ordination of Bishop Li. Bishop Joseph Guo Jincai of Chengde, the conference vice president, and Bishop Joseph Han Zhihai of Lanzhou also participated.
Washington D.C., Jul 28, 2021 / 09:05 am (CNA).
The Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela emphasized the graces of the current Jubilee Year at the shrine of St. James the Apostle, in a homily on Sunday, the saint’s feast day.
In his July 25 homily, Archbishop Julián Barrio Barrio of Santiago de Compostela called the Holy Year “a time of grace, healing and encounter,” according to Vatican News.
In Barrio’s homily, he highlighted the unifying benefits to praying to St. James. He said that the saint could help the people of Spain maintain a “fraternal coexistence.”
The feast of Saint James the Apostle fell on a Sunday this year, which means that pilgrims may gain an indulgence by visiting through the cathedral’s Holy Door. The beginning of the Jubilee Year of Compostela in Spain launched on December 31, 2020, and was set to continue for a year. However, because of the pandemic, Pope Francis decided it would continue through 2022.
This theme of this year’s jubilee is “Come out of your land! The Apostle is waiting for you!”
The name comes from Pope Francis’s letter to Archbishop Barrio last year in which he wrote: “Following in the footsteps of the Apostle, we leave our self, those certainties to which we cling, but with a clear objective in mind, we are not wandering beings, always revolving around ourselves without getting anywhere.”
“It is the voice of the Lord that calls us and, as pilgrims, we welcome it in an attitude of listening and seeking, undertaking this journey to meet God, others and ourselves,” the pope wrote.
Barrio made references to the coronavirus pandemic by praying for all victims, frontline workers and the deceased. “The mission of the Church,” he said, “is to lead people to God, but also to urge all people of goodwill to become aware of the root from which evils come, so that they may remedy the injustices and deplorable conditions in which many people live.”
The archbishop prayed that through the intercession of St. James, people would find hope and embrace “the liberating novelty of Christianity to give credible answers” to existential questions.
Barrio said that Western civilization is in need of Christ because it has an “impoverished soul” which sees life as meaningless. Christianity gives all hope, he said, because it offers “love and solidarity” through the charity of God, “who abandons no one.”
During a Holy Year, when the feast of Saint James falls on a Sunday, the Holy Door in the cathedral remains open for the whole year, and pilgrims can gain a plenary indulgence for themselves, for someone who is ill or for a deceased person.
To do so, pilgrims must visit the cathedral and fulfill the general conditions for receiving an indulgence: going to confession, receiving Communion, praying for the pope’s intentions, and possessing an interior detachment from sin.
Pilgrims have been making the journey to Santiago de Compostela for more than a thousand years to commemorate the life and sacrifice of James the apostle. The tradition of the Holy Year in Santiago de Compostela dates back to 1122, when Pope Callixtus II first allowed for a plenary indulgence for pilgrims to the shrine.
The cathedral was completed in 1211 and houses the relics of St. James in its crypt. It is the destination of the “Camino de Santiago” pilgrimage route.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced July 26 it would begin “expedited removal” proceedings, or fast-tracking deportations, of some immigrant families who entered the U.S. illegally and do not qualify for asylum.
On its website, the department said the policy is “a lawful, more accelerated procedure to remove those family units who do not have a basis under U.S. law to be in the United States.”
The process would apply to families who can’t be turned away under a section of the Public Health Safety Act the Trump administration invoked that is known as Title 42, the statement said.
Title 42 turns away certain immigrants at the border, citing public health measures to contain the coronavirus. It was activated by the Trump administration in March 2020 as COVID-19 infections began to surge in the U.S. — and around the world. President Joe Biden has kept it in place.
But the new implementation of the expedited removal policy the Biden administration will be using seems to focus on rapidly deporting those who don’t have valid asylum claims.
The published DHS statement warns that “attempting to cross into the United States between ports of entry, or circumventing inspection at ports of entry, is the wrong way to come to the United States. These acts are dangerous and can carry long-term immigration consequences for individuals who attempt to do so.”
Presidents from both main political parties in the U.S. have used the policy in some form since it was created in 1996 by the Clinton administration to expedite deportations of immigrants who “are undocumented or have committed fraud or misrepresentation,” the American Immigration Council explained on its website.
Some analysts said the DHS statement signals a move by the Biden administration to begin using deterrence in its immigration approach as the number of immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border increases and immigration courts face a backlog of more than 1.2 million asylum claims.
The statement said that “the Biden-Harris administration is working to build a safe, orderly and humane immigration system, and the Department of Homeland Security continues to take several steps to improve lawful processing at ports of entry and reforms to strengthen the asylum system.”
By Giancarlo La Vella & Linda Bordoni
Thursday, 28 July 2021, marks the 70th anniversary of the UN Refugee Convention. The anniversary falls at a time in which there are 26.4 million refugees in the world – the highest ever seen; 48 million internally displaced people and 4.1 million asylum seekers.
The Convention, that has remained largely unchanged, aside from an additional Protocol of 1967, has had broad political support since it was drafted and adopted in the wake of World War II.
The protection of the lives and dignity of migrants and refugees is one of the hallmarks of Pope Francis’ pontificate who has repeatedly called on all men and women of goodwill to open their arms and their hearts to their brothers and sisters fleeing poverty and war. He has also appealed to leaders and legislators “and the entire international community (…) to confront the reality of those who have been displaced by force, with effective projects and new approaches in order to protect their dignity, to improve the quality of their lives and to face the challenges that are emerging from modern forms of persecution, oppression and slavery.”
Chiara Cardoletti is the representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to the Holy See, Italy and San Marino. Speaking to Vatican Radio, she explained that the Convention, “one of the most ratified legal instruments on earth,” set the foundations for legislation that guarantees solidarity and protection for refugees, but it also provides opportunities to find new solutions in a changing world scenario.
“The 1951 Convention is a fundamental instrument to protect refugees,” Chiara Cardoletti explained, noting that “It was drafted after WWII with an objective: not so much to provide a definition of who is a refugee but rather to provide clarity as to the treatment refugees would be receiving in the various European countries where they were located at the time.”
Those who drafted the document, she said, aimed not only to provide a vision of the past, “of what had happened during the War,” but also to make sure its framework was such that it would remain a credible and authoritative legal instrument for the future.
“We are looking at a document that is not exclusively focused on the State as an actor of persecution, but also on the possibility – as we are seeing right now – of others being actors of persecution,” she said.
Clearly, Cardoletti continued, the world has evolved and both refugees and governments are faced with very different contexts; “contexts that are no longer entrenched in the realities of the Second World War or of the Cold War afterwards,” but in the current reality in which conflicts and more complex for a variety of reasons, and “where defining who is a refugee is obviously a whole lot more complex.”
But she underscored the fact that the 1951 Convention, one of the world’s most ratified legal instruments, must be read reflectively and always bearing in mind the best protection that can be given to refugees.
Noting that today there exists a wide variety of practices pertaining to the protection of refugees, Cardoletti said, “For example, we know that 90% of refugees currently live in developing countries, very close to where they have fled. So today, the real challenge is not so much deciding who is a refugee, but rather who is going to be responsible for their treatment and their protection.”
Even in this respect, she said, the 1951 Convention set the foundation of international solidarity and international cooperation as the basis of this instrument, and “therefore the importance of ensuring that States take this responsibility seriously, and provide protection to refugees.”
New laws and legislation currently regulate migration issues in Europe and across the world, for example, the recent Global Compact on Refugees that Cardoletti said “aims precisely to provide support to all those countries who have opened their borders and their arms to refugees.”
This is fundamental, she concluded, to try and make sure they continue doing so while further sharing responsibility in other countries in the industrialized world “so they can continue what they have been doing and maintain the tradition of hospitality and generosity towards refugees.”
By Vatican News
A new bishop – the fifth since the signing of the Provisional Accord between the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China on the nomination of bishops – was consecrated on Wednesday, 28 July, in China. Antonio Li Hui received episcopal consecration as the new co-adjutor bishop of Pingliang in the province of Gansu.
As reported on the site of the Catholic Church in China, the ordination ceremony was presided over by Bishop Giuseppe Ma Yinglin of Kunming, in the province of Yunnan.
The new bishop was born in 1972 in Mei County, in the province of Shaanxi, and entered into the diocesan seminary of Pinliang in 1990. He graduated from the National Seminary of the Catholic Church in China, and was ordained a priest in 1996.
According to Matteo Bruni, the director of the Holy See Press Office, Pope Francis made the nomination on 11 January 2021.
By Robin Gomes
The United Nations is convening a crucial Food Systems Summit in September, in New York. It is part of the Decade of Action to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, in order to help create healthier, more sustainable and equitable food systems.
Caritas Internationalis, the confederation of 165 Catholic relief, development and social service organizations operating in over 200 countries and territories worldwide, released a statement in view of the July 26-28 Pre-Summit in Rome, asking decision-makers to ensure meaningful participation of local producers and consumers, especially women, in policymaking and implementation at the local levels.
Caritas said that both the Rome Pre-Summit and the September Summit must not be missed opportunities to engage in a durable transformation of food systems. This is all the more necessary now that the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated and aggravated pre-existing inequalities in access to food. Several millions of people are expected to experience food insecurity and malnutrition in the months and years to come.
According to UN figures, up to 811 million people faced hunger in 2020, as many as 161 million more than in 2019. Because of the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, 3 billion people cannot afford to eat healthily, either. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres lamented that the world is “seriously off track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030”. “Poverty, income inequality and the high cost of food”, he said are responsible for these ills, and climate change and conflict are “consequences and drivers of this catastrophe”.
The UN’s State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report released on July 12, estimated that around 660 million people may still face hunger in 2030, 30 million more people than in a scenario in which the pandemic had not occurred, due to the lasting effects of Covid-19 on global food security.
Stressing that access to food is a basic human right, Caritas said that food security cannot be ensured, and food systems cannot be transformed, by just promoting industrial agriculture, which in the long run will only contribute to excluding more people from the supply chain and will also generate more injustice in the access to food. Caritas, which works with the poorest communities, advocated the promotion of community-based traditional agriculture, agroecology, a review of the supply chain in favour of local markets and the promotion of responsible food consumption.
The Catholic Church’s social arm underscored the urgent need to promote agriculture and food production that scale up ecological and sustainable farming and encourage rural agricultural activities through incentives for the farmers. “This was also the cry of the poorest Latin-American farmers during the Synod on Amazon in 2019,” said Aloysius John, the Secretary-General of Caritas Internationalis. He said this will ensure “food justice” and enable the poor farmers to live in dignity”.
In this process, John stressed that the prime role of women in traditional agriculture in their own lands must be recognized. “Women,” he said, “are part of the agricultural sector, and they are responsible for 60 to 80% of food production in the developing countries.” However, “they are also the ones who encounter untold challenges due to lack of access to land rights, credit, production resources and seeds capital”. The Caritas Internationalis Secy-Gen said they must be helped to put in place cooperatives and local supply chains that would enable them to sell their products.
In line with the teachings of Pope Francis’ encyclical, ‘Laudato sì’, Caritas organizations question technocratic solutions to problems such as climate change, environmental degradation and food waste. John said that one must overcome the assumption that only science and technology will offer solutions to every problem. Instead, policy choices, lifestyles and spirituality that challenges the predominant technocratic paradigm, need to be embraced. “At the heart of the problems of food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition” John said, “are human beings with dignity, relations and hopes.”
Pope Francis has also sent a message to the UN Pre-Summit on Food Systems in Rome, in which he denounced the “scandal” of hunger in a world that produces enough food for all people. He said it is a “crime that violates basic human rights”. (Source: Caritas Internationalis)
Salvatore Cernuzio – Vatican City
The large courtroom set up in the Vatican Museums hosted, on Tuesday, 27 July, the first hearing in the Vatican over the illicit deals made with Secretariat of State funds, starting with the sale of the Sloane Avenue Building in London. Judge Giuseppe Pignatonewith Judges Venerando Marano and Carlo Bonzano at his side, presided over the hearing, which lasted seven hours from 9:41 to 16:45. About thirty lawyers, journalists, and gendarmes were present, although only two of the ten defendants were present: Msgr. Mauro Carlino, already in the courtroom early in the morning, and Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, the former Substitute of the Secretariat of State, who is accused of embezzlement, abuse of office and subornation. The cardinal, from whom the Pope revoked the prerogatives of the cardinalate in September 2020, attended the entire hearing sitting. And at the end of the hearing, he recalled that he had always been “obedient to the Pope, who sent me to trial”, saying he was “not worried”: “I have the confidence that the judges will see the facts clearly and my great hope is the certainty that they will recognize my innocence”. He also announced that he had given a mandate to his lawyers to denounce Msgr. Alberto Perlasca and Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui for slander.
At the beginning of the hearing, Pignatone communicated the extension of the terms for the presentation of evidence and petitions for the respective defenses and joined to the main trial the position of the former president of AIF (now ASIF), René Brülhart, who, through his lawyer, made it known that he was prevented from coming from Zurich but agreed to the continuation of the trial. Pignatone then gave the floor to the lawyers. The first one was Fiorino Ruggio, defender of Cecilia Marogna, the manager from Cagliari, who was not present. The lawyer made a request for a postponement since the DIS (Dipartimento delle informazioni per la sicurezza) had ordered an investigation and therefore the testimony of Marogna has to be freed from secrecy first.
Ambra Giovene, Torzi’s lawyer, deposited a copy of the request for “legitimate impediment” of his client to attend the hearing. Torzi is the recipient of a precautionary measure, which also includes an electronic bracelet, issued on April 28, 2021 with a request for extradition from Great Britain: “He cannot move from London,” his lawyer said. And the other lawyer Marco Franco replied: “Torzi, even when he would receive the authorization from the British judge to come to court, would be arrested at Fiumicino airport”. The defense then insisted on the postponement: “It is not in the interest of this defense to hold a trial on its own”.
Over an hour was spent by the lawyer Carlo Panella, defending the financier Enrico Crasso and his three companies (Prestige Family Office Sa, Sogenel Capital Investment, Hp Finance), who presented some objections. The first related to the establishment of a civil action by APSA and the IOR, which, according to the lawyer, should be “inadmissible” as they presented “a generic formula” with the request for compensation for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage, including damage to reputation, without explaining the reasons. Panella then stated that: “It is not possible that three parties are constituted expressions of the same state and that each one asks for compensation. The risk is to triple the compensation”. The lawyer then complained about the lack of “numerous acts” – among the 28 thousand documents deposited – which to date have not been made available to the defence or were illegible, including nine USB pen drives containing bank statements and bank documentation from Switzerland. The lawyer has also pointed out that the defendants have not been guaranteed the necessary time to prepare their defence.
Panella also contended that there would be a lack of jurisdiction over the crimes of money laundering and self-laundering charged against Crassus and his companies abroad and not on Vatican territory. Finally, he challenged the fact that by virtue of a Rescript dated 2 July 2019 by Pope Francis, the office of the Promoter of Justice was authorized to proceed in the manner of a summary process and to take measures, including precautionary measures. According to the lawyer, a rescript is an “administrative act”, and so there is a “doubt concerning whether is appropriat that an administrative act should derogate from existing legislation.” Three other Rescripts of the Pope would have introduced criminal procedures “only for this process”, which, according to Crassus’ defender, would make the Vatican “a special Tribunal”.
All the other attorneys joined in the requests of attorney Panella, asking that the indictment be declared null and void. In particular, Cataldo Intrieri, a lawyer for Fabrizio Tirabassi (formerly an official of the Secretariat of State) pointed out that the acts lack documentation concerning his client, such as the search and seizure order that took place in October 2019 in the Secretariat of State and the experts’ report on the examination of Tirabassi’s computers: “The contents were extracted without our being consulted.” And he recalled that money was seized from Tirabassi’s and his father’s home that, according to the lawyer, should not have been possible to sequester “because it was there before 2013”. Moreover, according to what Intrieri pointed out, the file of the appeals court in Rome that had established the illegitimacy of the seizure and ordered the restitution of the goods to the owners appears to be missing.
This was followed by the intervention of attorney Salvino Mondello, who stated that his client, Msgr. Carlino, had been accused in the two interrogations of “completely different crimes from those that had been referred”. Then it was the turn of Fabio Viglione, Cardinal Becciu’s lawyer, who complained about the lack of recordings of Msgr. Alberto Perlasca’s interrogations (including videos of the interrogations), as well as “a series of acts that refer to forensic copies of numerous computer devices in use” by Perlasca himself. This was echoed by deputy Leonardo Mazza, according to whom the five interrogations of Perlasca – of which, he said, traces had been lost – are null and void, as well as “the result of an obvious procedural violation of the rights of guarantee”. In particular, this regards the first interrogation of August 31, 2020, to which the Perlasca presented himself voluntarily and without a defence attorney.
On the other hand, Giandomenico Caiazza, defense counsel for broker Raffaele Mincione, said that in the acts they learned “almost by chance” of the existence of an arrest warrant issued on 19 June 2020 against Mincione. “This warrant was never executed, but it was issued with the same logic as that of Torzi”. The lawyer hinted that if Mincione had shown up for questioning that day, he would have been arrested: “This is a method that will call for appropriate prudence towards similar citations to interrogations at the Vatican City State”.
The lawyers’ remarks were answered by Paola Severino, former Italian Minister of Justice and attorney for the Secretariat of State for the civil process, who reiterated the legitimacy of APSA’s incorporation as a civil plaintiff by virtue of the Pope’s Motu proprio of December 26, 2020, which transferred funds and investments of the Secretariat of State to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See. “In the case of compensation to the Secretariat of State, no longer holders of assets, there were fears of objections of legitimacy. Hence the establishment of the APSA”. As for the fact that the Vatican is a “special tribunal”, the professor reiterated the “strong moral connotation” of the trial underway and, on several occasions; the validity of the rescripts of the Pontiff, stressing that “the Pope is the legislator, as is the case in all the processes in the Vatican”.
Also present in the courtroom on behalf of the IOR was lawyer Roberto Lipari, who stressed that the Istituto per le Opere di Religione is “an injured party”:
“The task of the IOR is to safeguard the assets destined for works of religion and charity. The illicit use of IOR assets damages the ability of the IOR – which is not part of either the Holy See or the Vatican City State – to make new contacts and relationships.”
For his part, the promoter of justice (effectively, the chief prosecutor), Gian Piero Milano, returned to the question of the papal rescript which, he explained, is an act that expresses “the supreme power” of the Pope: “If we look at this hearing with the eyes of a jurist, we have a deformed vision of this order and we can attribute non-compliant meanings of the civil orders,” he clarified. Referring to the “special” character of the Vatican Tribunal for the ongoing process, he said instead: “It would become a special tribunal if it arrogated to itself the prerogative of reviewing acts that are the expression of a power removed from any evaluation”.
The response of the assistant promoter, Alessandro Diddi, was more extensive. He began by saying, “If we have made mistakes, we are ready to amend them”. Then he replied, point by point, to each of the objections of the lawyers. First of all, he made it clear that the defense should not be based on the differences between the Italian and Vatican systems: “Let’s clarify the rules: making continuous reference to a system that is not the one in force distracts attention from what we are going to do from here in the coming months”. Reiterating the effectiveness of the Pope’s rescripts, Diddi explained that it is precisely because of this papal provision that the arrest warrant for Torzi and Mincione was issued. The latter mandate was decided because during those days in June 2020, at a “crucial” phase of the investigations, there was “an attempt to mislead” by the two brokers. “We felt we had to intervene with precautionary measures”.
The adjunct promoter also explained that all the computer items seized are currently kept in a safe in the office of the Promoter of Justice and that if some acts have not been produced it is because the laws in force establish that it is possible to deposit acts of proceedings and not seized acts: “The only material that cannot be included is a huge amount of computer items kept in a small location, a small building, in a room full of devices”. However, Diddi reiterated his willingness, subject to authorization by the Court, to reproduce any documentation requested. Finally, he said he was proud of the fact that “in a year and a half of investigations there has been no leakage of information”.
After an hour and twenty minutes of council chamber, President Pignatone revoked the Vatican’s arrest warrant against Mincione and reserved the right to decide on the objections and requests of the lawyers. He then established the judgment in absentia of all those absent from the first hearing, with the exception of broker Gianluigi Torzi, who is not participating due to a legitimate impediment; as well as Cardinal Becciu and his former secretary Msgr. Carlino who had appeared in court.
Belfast, Northern Ireland, Jul 28, 2021 / 06:35 am (CNA).
Catholic bishops said on Tuesday that the British government’s direction to make abortion services available in Northern Ireland by March 2022 is “gravely disquieting.”
In a statement issued on July 27, the bishops lamented the move by Brandon Lewis, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
Lewis issued a formal direction on July 22 requiring the Northern Ireland Executive and Department of Health to introduce full abortion services in the region by March 31, 2022.
The bishops said the step was the latest in a series of decisions by the British government, based in Westminster, London, that threatened “the fragile balance of relationships at the heart of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement,” which ended the 30-year conflict known as The Troubles.
“Sadly, some of our local political parties seem content to welcome this unilateral move by Westminster on an issue which is of fundamental importance to local voters, while rightly challenging such unilateral impositions on other issues,” said the bishops, who included the Primate of All-Ireland, Archbishop Eamon Martin.
They continued: “In unilaterally imposing this direction on the local Northern Ireland Assembly to provide abortion services, it is as if the Westminster government, and those local parties who have supported them, believe the answer to the issue of providing compassionate care for a woman and her unborn child in pregnancy can be framed simply and exclusively as a ‘healthcare issue.’”
“Absent from the discussion however are the thousands of unborn children, who have no legal protection and whose humanity is excluded from the political equation. It is for this reason that the argument for the protection of all human life can never be abandoned or referred to human rights experts alone.”
“Westminster has imposed an unjust law. Christians, and all people of goodwill, can never stand silently by and fail to raise their voices at any attempt to ignore completely the fact that unborn children are human beings worthy of protection.”
Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, but abortion law is considered to be a devolved issue under the control of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
But due to the suspension of the regional government, the British parliament decriminalized abortion in Northern Ireland in October 2019 and obliged the U.K. government to create legal access to abortion in the region.
Before March 31, 2020, abortion was legally permitted in Northern Ireland only if the mother’s life was imperiled or if there was a risk of long-term or permanent, serious damage to mental or physical health.
Northern Ireland’s abortion law now allows elective abortions up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. Abortions up to 24 weeks are legal when the mother’s physical or mental health is determined to be at risk. Abortions up to the point of birth are legal in cases of severe fetal impairment or fetal abnormality.
In March 2021, the U.K. government signaled its intention to unveil new regulations enabling Lewis to direct the Northern Ireland Department of Health to commission more widespread abortion services — prompting criticism from the bishops.
Officials set out the measures in a statutory instrument — a form of secondary legislation allowing government ministers to legislate on day-to-day matters — known as the Abortion (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2021.
Although Northern Ireland’s Department of Health has not commissioned services centrally, health trusts are offering abortions.
According to the Department of Health, 1,556 abortions have taken place in Northern Ireland, which has a 1.9 million population, since the law changed in March 2020.
The bishops’ latest statement was issued in the name of Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh, Bishop Noel Treanor of Down and Connor, Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry, Bishop Larry Duffy of Clogher, and Armagh auxiliary Bishop Michael Router.
The bishops noted that Northern Ireland Assembly elections are due to take place by May 5, 2022.
“As our society prepares in coming months to engage in the ultimate expression of democratic participation — the election to our local Assembly — we encourage all Catholics, and those share our view on the inviolability of all human life, to reflect carefully on the issues raised by this succession of unilateral impositions by the Westminster government,” they wrote.
“We encourage everyone who believes in the equal right to life and compassionate care for a mother and her unborn child to ask local candidates and political parties to explain their position on these interventions and on this most fundamental of all issues.”
Denver Newsroom, Jul 28, 2021 / 06:00 am (CNA).
Not much is popularly known about Blessed Stanley Rother, the small town Oklahoma native who was declared blessed in September 2017 by the Catholic Church.
One of the newest blesseds, he became a priest and missionary at a parish in Santiago Atitlán, Guatemala. He served the local Tz’utujil people at the time of the Guatemalan civil war, where he was on a hit list and eventually assassinated on July 28, 1981.
These are five things you need to know about this American on the path to sainthood who died 40 years ago today.
Aside from the North American Martyrs, such as Isaac Jogues, Blessed Stanley Rother is the only martyr associated with the United States. And he is the only martyr born in the United States.
Stanley struggled academically in the seminary, especially with Latin, and eventually switched seminaries. Despite his seminary struggles, He learned both Spanish and Tz’utujil while in Guatemala where his desire to serve led him to learn the languages to connect with the people he was serving.
Though not academically gifted, Blessed Stanley Rother possessed skills as an electrician, plumber, and farmer, which he used to aid his people by repairing machinery and helping them implement new techniques to better their farming. He also built many buildings for the community, such as a school, hospital, and a Catholic radio station.
Blessed Stanley Rother faced danger to his own life in Guatemala, since his name was on a hit list. For safety, he returned to Oklahoma, where he said these words. He went back to Guatemala for Holy Week to serve his parishioners despite the danger. Less than four months later, he was killed.
“At the parish, his presence is everywhere — his heart and his blood are in the church, the room that he was killed in has been converted into a chapel in his honor, the parochial school has been named after him. Blessed Rother is well-known all over town,” said Fr. Josh Mayer, a priest of the diocese of Gallup, following a visit to Guatemala in 2019 on Rother’s feast day.
After Blessed Stanley Rother’s martyrdom his body was returned to Oklahoma for burial. His Guatemalan parishioners enshrined his heart, however, since they wished to keep a part of their beloved priest.
By Vatican News staff writer
The Catholic bishops of Northern Ireland have spoken up against a controversial decision last week by authorities to direct the Executive and Department of Health to make abortion services available in Northern Ireland by 21 March 2022.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Bishops said that the move, a directive by Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, is “the latest in a line of decisions by the current Westminster Government” which they believe “threaten the fragile balance of relationships at the heart of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.”
The bishops also express concern that some local political parties seem content to welcome the “unilateral move” on such an issue which is “of fundamental importance to local voters” while they challenge other unilateral impositions on other issues.
Changes to abortion laws in Northern Ireland were liberalized in 2019 following legislation passed at Westminster during the absence of devolution. Since then, the commissioning of services was stalled due to a disagreement within the devolved administration.
However, on 22 July, Northern Ireland Secretary, Brandon Lewis, directed the Department of Health and the Health and Social Care Board to implement more liberal abortion services amid opposition from some Northern Irish ministers.
Lewis said he was issuing the direction because of the “ongoing stalemate” among the five-party executive, adding that he has “a legal and moral obligation to ensure the women and girls in Northern Ireland are afforded their rights and can access the healthcare.”
In light of the move, the bishops noted that with many others, from a wide range of moral, philosophical and religious backgrounds, they “have consistently held that the right to life of every person, irrespective of stage of development or ability, is the prior and essential right of all other human rights.”
They also highlighted that our shared search for peace is driven “in no small part by our collective rejection of the brutality and demeaning of human dignity that occurs when the right to life is diminished in any way.”
In this regard, they expressed concern that the failure to extend this sensitivity and care to our own fellow human beings in the womb, as well as to pregnant mothers, will one day be seen as “a grave moral blindness on the part of this generation and a profound dereliction of our responsibility to uphold the most basic human right of all – the right to life.”
The Northern Irish bishops went on to note that in unilaterally imposing this decision on the Assembly to provide abortion services, it is as if the Westminster government “believe the answer to the issue of providing compassionate care for a woman and her unborn child in pregnancy can be framed simply and exclusively as a ‘healthcare issue’.”
On this matter, they pointed out that thousands of unborn children, whose humanity is excluded and who have no legal protection have been excluded from the discussion. It is thus for this reason, the bishops stressed, that “the argument for the protection of all human life can never be abandoned or referred to human rights experts alone.”
“Westminster has imposed an unjust law,” the Bishops said. “Christians, and all people of good will, can never stand silently by and fail to raise their voices at any attempt to ignore completely the fact that unborn children are human beings worthy of protection.”
Concluding their statement, the bishops called on all Catholics and all those who share their view on the inviolability of all human life to “reflect carefully on the issues raised by this succession of unilateral impositions by the Westminster Government” as the Northern Ireland prepares in coming months for elections to the local Assembly.
They also encouraged everyone who believes in the equal right to life and compassionate care for a mother and her unborn child to “ask local candidates and political parties to explain their position on these interventions and on this most fundamental of all issues.”
Rome Newsroom, Jul 28, 2021 / 03:00 am (CNA).
Hong Kong’s bishop-elect Stephen Chow has said that he wants to bring unity to his divided diocese when he assumes leadership later this year.
To achieve this goal, the incoming bishop will need to address differences among Catholics in Hong Kong, heightened by varying reactions to the local protest movement.
Joseph Cheng, a Hong Kong Catholic and retired political science professor, told CNA that Catholic institutions have been a major source of some of these divisions.
Hong Kong is a city filled with Catholic institutions, from hospitals to schools and universities. The universities, in particular, have formed a number of democracy activists, shaping the firm beliefs in justice and freedom that drove them into the streets.
But the desire to preserve these institutions has also led other Catholics to want to keep quiet, according to Cheng, who left Hong Kong in July 2020 and now lives in Auckland, New Zealand.
“The Catholic Church runs many important services for Hong Kong people, especially primary schools, secondary schools. Some of them are the most prestigious in Hong Kong in the territory. There are a number of hospitals and social service centers, welfare agencies run by the Church,” he said.
“Now all these service institutions are mainly funded by the government. So the Catholic Church in maintaining these services has to depend on financial support from the government. And there is a natural tendency … for these agencies to want to maintain an acceptable relationship with the government, a cooperative relationship with the government.”
This was not always the case, as the diocese of Hong Kong launched a suit against the government in 2004 after an amendment passed requiring “school-based management,” something that Cardinal Joseph Zen, the bishop of Hong Kong at the time, called a “conspiracy” by the government to take control of Catholic schools from the Church.
Other Catholics have responded to the dramatic changes that have occurred in Hong Kong since 2019 by entering into a “survival mode.”
Cheng said that many Catholics in the territory are middle class with good jobs and similarly have a tendency to accommodate the deteriorating situation.
“That is to say, well, since you can’t do much, you have to keep your head low. You have to simply accommodate, keep quiet, lie low, and survive,” he said.
“Then of course at the same time, many Catholics are idealists,” he noted. “They are concerned with the universal values that they cherish and they would like to uphold those values. They would like to continue to advocate social justice. They would like to continue to criticize the injustices that they see, the injustices of the authorities that they object to.”
More than a million people in Hong Kong, including a number of prominent Catholics, participated in pro-democracy protests of a controversial extradition law in 2019 and against the local government’s decision to push a national security law in 2020.
Jimmy Lai, the media tycoon imprisoned for his role in the pro-democracy movement, is a Catholic. But so too is Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, who backed the contentious national security law.
Church leaders in Hong Kong are therefore faced with these broad divisions within the community, while recognizing that “solidarity is even more valued in times of difficulty,” Cheng said.
Chow, the incoming bishop of Hong Kong, is himself a product of decades of education, teaching, and administrative leadership in Catholic schools within and outside of Hong Kong.
The Jesuit bishop-elect has identified these tensions and divisions within Hong Kong and said at a press conference the day after his appointment that he thought that “listening and empathy” were very important to heal divisions, adding that “unity is not the same as uniformity.”
“I really have no big plan, grand plan of how to unify, but I do believe there is a God, and God wants us to be united,” the 61-year-old said.
Chow also told journalists that he did not think it would be wise to comment on especially controversial issues, particularly relating to China, the day after his appointment.
“That would be rash,” he said. “But it is not because I am afraid, but, I think, I believe that prudence is also a virtue.”
Nearly a year after the passage of the national security law, an official in the Vatican Secretariat of State said that he was not convinced that speaking out on the situation in Hong Kong “would make any difference whatever.”
Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s equivalent of a foreign minister, said: “One can say a lot of, shall we say, appropriate words that would be appreciated by the international press and by many parts of the world, but I — and, I think, many of my colleagues — have yet to be convinced that it would make any difference whatever.”
Hong Kong is at a turning point in its history, and Cheng believes that people will remember how the Church responded.
“This is a testing time,” he said, “And Hong Kong people, Chinese people, in the future will look back at these testing times and invariably they will say: What was the position of the Catholic Church? What was the position of the pope during these very difficult times?”
J.D. Flynn, left, then-editor-in-chief of Catholic News Agency, and Ed Condon, right, then-DC bureau chief for CNA, weigh in as canon lawyers on EWTN Pro-Life Weekly with Catherine Hadro in April 2019. (NCR screenshot/YouTube/EWTN)
Just hours after the announcement that a top official for the U.S. bishops’ conference had suddenly resigned on July 20 citing “possible improper behavior,” a newly launched Catholic media venture, The Pillar, published a nearly 3,000-word article alleging that the priest, Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill, had engaged in “serial sexual misconduct” by frequenting gay bars and using Grindr, a phone app for dating and sex.
The article was premised on an analysis of app data signals that the authors allege were “correlated to Burrill’s mobile device.” The signals, they write, “suggest he was at the same time engaged in serial and illicit sexual activity.”
Missing in the story by The Pillar and in a subsequent response to questions about the ethics of the piece is the name of the vendor that provided the data, details about who paid to purchase the data and how it was obtained by the outlet, as well as any information on how the investigation was conducted to determine the signals were transmitted from Burrill’s mobile phone. The story also lacked any confirmation of Burill’s conduct beyond the location data.
The outlet has since published two subsequent articles alleging use of hookup apps within clerical residences in the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, and in the Vatican.
Experts in journalistic ethics who spoke to NCR raised multiple concerns about The Pillar article.
“Ethically this is a softball. The article is scummy,” Todd Gitlin, a professor of journalism at Columbia University’s Journalism School, told NCR via email. “The hack using data tracking is illicit, indefensible, and all-around contrary to journalistic ethics.”
“It’s redolent of the depredations of [Rupert] Murdoch’s News of the World busting into private phones,” he added, referencing the enterprise’s 2011 hacking scandal that led to the closure of the storied tabloid and millions of dollars of litigation after it was revealed that the publication hacked into the phones of politicians and celebrities.
A man types on a computer keyboard in this illustration photo. (CNS/Reuters/Kacper Pempel)
Although The Pillar article said there was “no evidence” to imply the priest had contact with minors, it went on to suggest that his possible consensual sexual behavior risked the possibility of clouding his judgment on the church’s handling of the clergy sexual abuse crisis — another problematic leap, according to experts in journalistic ethics.
“The story casually links this case to others involving pedophile priests, but in fact, there is no evidence of that here,” observed Bill Grueskin, a professor of professional practice at Columbia Journalism School.
“A good editor would have sussed out these issues, and likely eliminated the many references to unrelated cases that give the patina of criminal behavior to a situation that lacks evidence of such conduct,” Grueskin told NCR via email.
Gitlin agreed: “The sneering references to pedophilia are nothing short of vile and McCarthyite,” he concluded. “Roy Cohn would be proud.”
Rick Edmonds, a media business analyst for the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit journalism school and research organization, told NCR, “The article raises a number of questions about cyber security and personal privacy and presents an alarming question of whether you can be tracked wherever you go.”
Edmonds described the methods used by The Pillar as “unusual” and without any known journalistic precedent.
Flynn and Condon did not respond to NCR’s requests for comment for this story.
Msgr. Jeffrey Burrill, a priest of the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, is seen in this 2018 file photo. (CNS/Bob Roller)
(Editors of The Pillar have sought to compare their story to work by journalists at The New York Times to locate individuals for the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, although one of The New York Times reporters has noted that their reporting, on a criminal incident, only quoted the one individual who consented to being quoted.)
The outing of Burrill through questionable journalistic practices has sparked a contentious debate among many Catholics and for some, represents a stark departure from the “serious, responsible sober journalism about the Church, from the Church, and for the Church,” that The Pillar pledged to provide when it launched on Jan. 4.
Yet while The Pillar’s controversial reporting on Burrill has forced the new startup website into the national spotlight, a review of their past operations, connections of its top editors, along with undisclosed conflicts of interest and improper use of anonymous sources, reveals a history of questionable journalistic ethics.
Canon lawyers or journalists?
The Pillar was founded by its editor-in-chief J.D. Flynn and editor Ed Condon after the two resigned from EWTN-owned Catholic News Agency (CNA) in December.
At CNA, Flynn and Condon were at the helm of an agency that bills itself as being “one of the fastest-growing Catholic news providers in the world.” During their tenure, the two would frequently boast of their independence from church hierarchy, their ability to uncover and report stories without fear or favor, and their accuracy and fair-mindedness in the process.
The two have also vowed to bring those same standards to their new operations. Yet while The Pillar has recently spilled considerable ink outlining allegations of sexual misconduct against one priest, including inferences of how his alleged behavior may have affected his judgment on matters related to sexual abuse of minors, their publications have not always disclosed their own professional involvement in clergy sexual abuse cases — not as journalists, but as legal advocates.
Both Flynn and Condon are canon lawyers. In a December 2020 podcast for the Catholic University of America (where Condon’s wife works and his uncle, John Garvey, is president), Condon revealed that he continued to actively practice canon law while also working as a journalist covering the church.
After launching The Pillar, Flynn tweeted on Jan. 6 that the “left and right Catholic commentariat is lining up” to say that he and Condon are “canon lawyers not journalists.”
“Meanwhile the two of us are breaking stories that make change while the chattering classes are pimping their increasingly irrelevant and partisan opinions,” he wrote.
Among the most high-profile of church prelates to be accused of abuse in recent years is now-former Archbishop Anthony Apuron of Agana, Guam. In 2018, a Vatican tribunal found him guilty of abusing minors and sentenced him, resulting in his removal from public ministry.
Now-former Archbishop Anthony Apuron of Agana, Guam, is pictured in a 2012 photo at the Vatican. (CNS/Paul Haring)
As is his canonical right, Apuron had canonical advocates who represented him while his case made its way through the church’s judicial system. According to a source familiar with the trial and confirmed by a newspaper photo of the legal team, among his representatives was Condon, along with Judicial Vicar of the Archdiocese of Denver, Fr. Giovanni Capucci.
CNA’s report about the trial — which carries a Flynn byline — refers to “sources close to the archbishop.” Yet despite Condon’s work as a canon lawyer on Apuron’s case, CNA never disclosed this information.
Apuron, along with Capucci and Condon, are all members of the Neocatechumenal Way, a controversial movement that has spread throughout the world providing faith formation through small group communities.
Condon’s involvement in the Neocatechumenal Way also was not disclosed during his coverage of another high-profile clergy abuse case, that of Australian Cardinal George Pell, who was tried for abusing minors, convicted and eventually exonerated by Australia’s High Court, Condon was one of the most aggressive reporters covering the case and an open skeptic of Pell’s guilt.
Pell has long been close with the Neocatechumenal Way, of which Condon and his extended family are a part of its leadership. In his prison memoir, Pell noted that “all the leadership of the Neocatechumenal Way, from around the world are interceding” for him.
Conflicts of interest — real or perceived
Avoiding conflicts of interest is a fundamental ethical concept for journalists. At the very least, journalists should “disclose unavoidable conflicts,” as the Society for Professional Journalists’ (SPJ) Code of Ethics states.
Veteran religion reporter and former Newsday editor Paul Moses gives the example of National Public Radio, which often reports on controversies concerning Amazon, one of its donors. “Any story about Amazon or its owner includes that Amazon is one of the nonprofit network’s donors,” he said.
Moses stresses that even perceived conflicts should be avoided.
“In teaching journalism ethics, I’ve often cited a quote from the late New York Times editor Abe Rosenthal, although in a cleaned up version: “You can sleep with an elephant if you want to, but if you do, you can’t cover the circus,” he said.
When The Pillar launched earlier this year, it did so via the online platform Substack, which includes a subscription model. But The Pillar has not disclosed its other sources of funding, nor has it outlined how it intends to avoid conflicts of interests.
“If the writers or editors at The Pillar are also currently practicing Catholic canon law, it’s likely to conflict with the work they do in reporting on the Catholic Church,” Moses observed. “At a minimum, those potential conflicts of interest need to be disclosed to readers.”
“They may feel, and it may even be true, that their coverage is absolutely fair,” he warned. “But it’s also essential to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.”
Journalists interview a U.S. senator in this illustration photo. (CNS/Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
Both at CNA and at The Pillar, Flynn and Condon have touted their independence and transparency. When questioned on social media about CNA’s treatment of certain church leaders, Flynn has been defensive.
“We are not ‘bishop controlled,’ bishop sponsored, bishop approved, or otherwise bishop connected,” he recently replied in response to such criticism. Yet fawning treatment of bishops who share Flynn’s ideological bent is common.
One month before Archbishop Charles Chaput reached 75 in 2019, the retirement age for Catholic bishops, Flynn published a gushing 2,000-word tribute to the man who gave him his first job in canon law and diocesan work.
“In the interest of full disclosure, I should make clear my own bias: I love Archbishop Chaput,” he wrote.
“He has invested in my professional, intellectual, personal, and spiritual development. Some of the happiest years of my professional life were spent working for Chaput in the Archdiocese of Denver,” Flynn continued.
Prior to being named editor-in-chief of CNA in 2017, Flynn also worked as a special assistant and communications director to Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Nebraska. When it was announced that Conley was taking a leave of absence to focus on mental health, Flynn took to social media, writing, “Full journalistic disclosure: Bishop Conley is one of my best friends, and I’m praying for him, and proud of his decision to be so open about his mental health.”
Flynn is also close to Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila, having worked for the Archdiocese of Denver from 2007-13, which included serving as Aquila’s chancellor during that time.
In April, The Pillar exposed a private disagreement between Aquila and Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich, who had encouraged the Denver archbishop to provide a “public clarification” of comments made in an essay in America magazine arguing for so-called “eucharistic coherence” by denying the sacrament to those “persisting in grave sin.”
Flynn did not disclose his previous relationship with Aquila in that report, nor does the report indicate how the private correspondence from Cupich was obtained.
Another core ethical principle for journalists involves the treatment of anonymous sources, which are occasionally necessary but can threaten accuracy and credibility. Anonymous sources are used regularly at the Pillar and at CNA under Flynn’s leadership.
The Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics recommends reserving anonymity for those “who may face danger, retribution or other harm, and have information that cannot be obtained elsewhere.”
Journalists also should explain why anonymity was granted, the code says.
One controversial use of anonymous sources under Flynn’s editorship at CNA involved the 2019-20 U.S. bishops’ “ad limina” visit to Rome, which included a meeting between the pope and approximately a dozen bishops from the western region of the United States.
Flynn authored an article for CNA with two unnamed bishops who attended the meeting, alleging that Francis was displeased with some of the widespread and favorable coverage of a Sept. 2019 meeting with Jesuit Fr. James Martin, a prominent Catholic ally of the LGBTQ community.
“He was very expressive, both his words and his face — his anger was very clear, he felt he’d been used,” one anonymous bishop told CNA. Among those present during that conversation was Flynn’s former boss, Aquila.
Pope Francis greets Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver, Colorado, during an audience with U.S. bishops making their “ad limina” visits to the Vatican Feb. 10, 2020. (CNS/Vatican Media)
(Francis has since sent Martin a letter reiterating his support of his work with LGBTQ Catholics.)
The CNA story — to which Condon contributed — did not include comment from any of the other bishops who attended the meeting, but after the CNA story was published two additional bishops went on the record contradicting Flynn’s anonymous sources.
In an article published by NCR, Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico, took the unusual step of challenging CNA’s report.
“I believe that I have an obligation to offer my perspective on those matters contained in the CNA article about Father James Martin, SJ, since my understanding of the facts differs from what was reported anonymously,” he wrote.
Following Wester’s article, Bishop Steven Biegler of Cheyenne, Wyoming, also went on the record to note that Wester’s response “accurately describes the tone and substance of the short dialogue regarding Fr. James Martin.”
Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico, offers the sign of peace as bishops from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming concelebrate Mass at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome Feb. 12, 2020. The bishops were making their “ad limina” visits to the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses. (CNS/Paul Haring)
After the incident, Deacon Greg Kandra, a veteran writer and producer for CBS, took CNA to task for their use of anonymous sources, noting that it failed to adhere to basic journalistic standards.
Kandra pointed out that Flynn’s article did not explain why the sources were anonymous or their motivations. He also noted a lack of confirmation and that “CNA does not appear to have sought comment from the Holy See press office, or attempted to get someone to go on the record to confirm the account of this particular meeting.”
“Whatever the full story may be, the one reported by CNA was incomplete and should have been more thoroughly vetted. Based on the published guidelines of the AP, the story would not have been published as it was by the Associated Press (or a lot of other news operations),” Kandra wrote. “In fact, it should not have been published as it was by CNA.”
Although there are instances in which journalists use and protect anonymous sources, the SPJ Code of Ethics states that generally “the public is entitled to as much information as possible to judge the reliability and motivations of sources.”
After The Pillar’s piece outing Burrill — and despite numerous calls for more transparency about the acquisition of the cell phone app data — Flynn and Condon continued to decline to name the specific dataset they, or someone else, purchased, or the methodology used in de-anonymizing it.
Last week Kandra again took to his popular blog to share an analysis about the controversy, from — ironically — Catholic News Agency, which had announced the day before The Pillar story that it had declined a previous offer of the app data in 2018.
“The end never justifies the means, even if they are digital and seem credible because of technology,” said William Thorn, associate professor emeritus of journalism and media studies at the Institute for Catholic Media at Marquette University’s Diederich College of Communication, in an interview with CNA’s executive director Alejandro Bermudez.
Despite widespread criticism of The Pillar’s methods and journalistic practices, the outlet appears to be continuing to use the data for two follow-up stories about the Archdiocese of Newark and the Vatican.
Michael Murphy, director of the Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage at Loyola University Chicago, took to Twitter to express his own exasperation at the latest.
“Flynn and Condon practiced second rate journalism at CNA — with some pretty questionable approaches to research and investigation,” he wrote. “The pattern continues.”
“And caveat lector,” he concluded, using the Latin expression: “let the reader beware.”
There is an old saying among hierarchs in the Catholic Church: Rome is known as the Eternal City because it takes an eternity to accomplish anything in the Vatican Curia. Yet, eight years into his pontificate, Pope Francis’ determination to reform the Curia is showing signs of success.
Investigative reporter Jason Berry published a deep dive here at NCR yesterday into the issues surrounding the trial of Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu. That trial started this week and it is, in itself, a remarkable event.
Cardinals are not called “princes of the Church” for nothing, and Becciu had acquired more power than most: In his previous role as sostituto at the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, he functioned somewhat like a White House chief of staff. On paper, both roles do not appear as consequential as they are, but in practice, both serve at critical choke points for virtually all decision-making.
In previous pontificates, Becciu’s cardinal’s hat would have been enough to shield him from prosecution. If, before Francis, Becciu had been caught doing something illegal or even terribly wrong, he might have been posted to a different job, and given a sinecure, the way Cardinal Bernard Law was named archpriest of Santa Maria Maggiore after he resigned as archbishop of Boston in 2002.
Now Becciu is on trial. Every other cardinal has gotten the message: Being a cardinal will not protect you from the consequences of your own actions.
The trial is not the only evidence of Francis’ efforts to drag the Roman Curia kicking and screaming into at least the 20th century. Last week, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA) published not only a fiscal report for the Vatican but, for the first time, a list of the real estate owned by the Vatican, more than 4,000 properties in Italy and another 1,200 abroad. Light is the enemy of corruption.
In addition to this new level of transparency about its finances, we also learned how the church navigated the pandemic in its role as a landlord. Rents were reduced and deferred to help tenants survive the economic fallout of the shutdowns. APSA’s president, Bishop Nunzio Galantino, said the reductions resulted in the Holy See’s accounts being in the red last year, but also in “a positive result in the sense that it has brought out the will to be and continue to be and behave ‘as a church,’ even in a moment of serious crisis for everyone.”
One of the negative aspects of increased lay involvement in ecclesial decision-making, at least in the United States, has been the introduction of MBA-think. Many bishops will tell you that their lay advisers often complain about the bishop’s decisions by saying, “You couldn’t run a business like that,” and the bishop has to point out that the church is not, after all, a business.
In addition to these two recent, particular signs of change in the Vatican’s way of conducting itself, we are all awaiting the publication of Praedicate Evangelium, the apostolic constitution that will reshape the structure of the Vatican. It will be the result of unprecedented consultation and, hopefully, will concretize some of the changes in attitude that the Holy Father has sought in his efforts to more fully implement the vision of the Second Vatican Council: Less clericalism and secrecy, more synodality and transparency. You might call these different efforts Francis’ “reform of the reform.”
The goal Francis seeks is not merely a Vatican less plagued by intrigue, infighting and scandal, but a Vatican that is modeling for the universal church the evangelizing impulse that emerges from a reading of the Gospel.
The pope is not a primitivist, to be sure. He seeks the exact same kind of genuine reform Pope Benedict XVI spoke of in his often misquoted 2005 address to the Curia, one that entails elements of both continuity and discontinuity with the immediate past, retrieving the insights and inspirations of the early church while facing squarely the problems of our own time.
We humans are creatures of habit. When you combine that human desire for constancy with a faith that is rooted in an apostolic tradition, you get an organization that is necessarily, and often usefully, resistant to change.
Francis understands that in order to change an entrenched subculture like that of the Vatican Curia, you need to change procedures and policies, sometimes personnel, but most of all, you have to change direction — get the organization moving toward new goals for which their old habits and methods will not work, so that the personnel make the new procedures their own.
In the past few days, we have seen evidence of the tectonic shifts Francis has been setting in motion. Once in motion, they will be much harder to turn back.
Degrowth is perhaps the most undervalued insight of Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Sí’, on Care for Our Common Home.” Francis promotes degrowth because the “environment is one of those goods that cannot be adequately safeguarded or promoted by market forces.”
But what is “degrowth”? Degrowth begins with a question raised by the French scholar André Gorz in the early 1970s: “Is the earth’s balance, for which no-growth — or even degrowth — of material production is a necessary condition, compatible with the survival of the capitalist system?”
The question raises the problem of a bind that a globalized world finds itself in right now: We can’t pursue capitalist or even “green” growth and simultaneously reverse the breakdown of the ecological commons.
Degrowth, an alternative way of being oriented toward radical abundance, began to emerge 50 years ago with the Club of Rome’s 1968 study, The Limits to Growth, which documented the devastating ecological implications of unabated economic growth.
While the Club of Rome found that the current myopic focus on economic growth is unsustainable, it was joined by other scholars and activists who articulated paradoxical ways of living in radical abundance and harmony with the planet without economic growth.
In his recent primer on degrowth, Less Is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World, economic anthropologist Jason Hickel explains:
Degrowth begins as a process of taking less. But in the end it opens up whole vistas of possibility. It moves us from scarcity to abundance, from extraction to regeneration, from dominion to reciprocity, and from loneliness and separation to connection with a world that’s fizzing with life.
Growth for its own sake, Hickel laments, creates more “illth than wealth,” when the ongoing pursuit of growth in high-income nations produces more inequality and instability, stress and depression from overwork, and increasing pollution and ill health.
In Laudato Si’, Francis recognizes that the contradiction between economic growth and the Earth’s ecological balance “cannot be considered progress” because too often “people’s quality of life actually diminishes — by the deterioration of the environment, the low quality of food or the depletion of resources — in the midst of economic growth.”
We need to find another way. It is time to “accept decreased growth in some parts of the world,” Francis advises, “in order to provide resources for other places to experience healthy growth.”
We tend not to see how economic growth delivers diminishing returns. There are, for example, dozens of countries that attain higher life expectancy with significantly less income than the United States, including Japan, South Korea, Portugal and even the European Union, which has about a third less income than the U.S.
One of the problems of growthism is our reliance on the deceptive measure called gross domestic product (GDP). Degrowth is not negative GDP. Degrowth seeks to create a different kind of economy and an entirely different way of living. GDP erroneously counts costs — like the building of a prison, incarcerating more people, and cleaning up pollution — as benefits.
We need a different measure of well-being. The genuine progress indicator (GPI), for example, includes not only GDP, but also negative results of economic growth, such as resource degradation, to assess the overall benefit to society.
Degrowth economists employ a different visual image to convey their goal. The objective is not to make the proverbial economic elephant leaner, but to turn the elephant into a snail, as an international consortium devoted to degrowth, which includes Catholic organizations, puts it. Turning the elephant into a snail means creating an economic metabolism in harmony with diverse ecologies that serve the full flourishing of all of our human and nonhuman kin.
The term degrowth is employed as a way to decolonize our thinking, that is, to shift from assuming that there is only one way of thinking — growth — and turn away from values of domination and exploitation toward values of conviviality, cooperation and reciprocity.
The French and Italian terms for degrowth, décroissance and decresita, respectively, are perhaps more helpful because they evoke an ecological imagination to French and Italian ears because these words mean “a river returning to its regular flow after a flood.”
Whereas capitalism seeks to control and extract value from the web of ecological relations that make life, many cultures deemed “primitive” by the modern West celebrate radical interdependence and reciprocity within diverse webs of life.
The Anishinaabeg, whose original lands were in northeastern America (now Canada), have the word minobimaatisiiwin, which means “a continuous rebirth of reciprocal and cyclical relations between human and other life.” In southern African regions, Bantu languages have ubuntu, meaning human fulfillment through togetherness, and the Shona have ukama, which indicates “the interrelatedness of the entire cosmos, including the biophysical world.” The Chinese shi-shi wu-ai and Maori term mauri express “interrelatedness through the entire life force of the cosmos.” (These terms are drawn from Raj Patel and Jason Moore, The History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and the Future of the Planet.)
Perhaps paradoxically, degrowth is not about living in Scrooge-like misery — it is about living in the radical abundance of God’s creation. There are scriptural visions of degrowth, principally the Hebrew law of jubilee (Leviticus 25), which calls for the cancellation of debts every seventh year. In an era of ecological devastation, Hickel celebrates the Jubilee Debt Campaign‘s debt cancellation proposals as a “vital step toward ecological sustainability.”
The problem of living by values of consumerism and infinite economic growth is not only do our economic values violate love of God and neighbor, but growth itself destroys God’s creation and all of life as we know it.
Degrowth offers a different way that celebrates the radical abundance of the whole of God’s creation while caring for all of our human and nonhuman kin.
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