CNSNg.org – Enugu, Nigeria.
This is contained in a communiqué issued by the CBCN at its just concluded second plenary held in Enugu State.
The Bishops called on both Government and citizens to work for a nation where everyone, irrespective of differences of tribe or religion or political affiliation, will have a sense of belonging.
The Bishops further expressed gratitude to God that Nigeria still exists as one nation despite agitations for self-determination.
“We observe that the agitations and tensions are mainly as a result of bad governance, injustice, inequity, and unfairness in appointments and distribution of resources to parts of the country. We recognise the rights of peoples to self-determination, yet we emphasise that the exercise of such rights must be within the confines of the rule of law,” said the Bishops in a communique at the end of their plenary.
The Church leaders reiterated that the ongoing struggle for Nigeria’ ‘soul’ would not be won by ethnic cleansing, nepotism, kidnapping and banditry but by love, fairness and equity, common good and patriotism.
“We, therefore, enjoin Government and all Nigerians to toe the path of justice and conciliatory dialogue and see themselves as agents of peace and development in order to ensure a harmonious and united nation,” the Bishops said.
The CBCN strongly advocated for total respect concerning the sanctity of human life, noting with regret that, except for the civil war (1967-1970), Nigeria has never witnessed the kind of widespread evil, wanton destruction and murderous bloodletting like the current situation.
In part, the communique reads, “Life has never been so cheap, nor has Nigeria ever been at the stage we are now. Deaths at the hands of kidnappers, killer herdsmen, bandits, terrorist groups have made Nigeria one of the most terrorised countries in the world. The abductions of school children present us with the prospects of a traumatised generation of young people,” the prelates admonished.
The statement continued, “We recognise the efforts being made by the Government to fight insecurity in the land. However, we stress that Government needs to show more strategic commitment and sincerity in this fight and take full responsibility for the present culture of violence and impunity in the country. Furthermore, Government must be balanced and seen to be so in its response to the challenges of insecurity in every segment of the citizenry. In the same vein, we call on all citizens to be law-abiding, vigilant, live by sound moral principles and, above all, obey the commandments of God. We continue to plead with all to shun violence and criminality,” the Bishops said.
Vatican City, Sep 1, 2021 / 06:00 am (CNA).
At the general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis asked Catholics to reflect on how they live the faith, and to strive to put Christ at the center of their actions to avoid falling into mere formalities.
“Does the love of Christ crucified and risen again remain at the center of our daily life as the wellspring of salvation, or are we content with a few religious formalities to salve our consciences?” the pope asked in his weekly message Sept. 1.
Speaking in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, he continued: “Are we attached to the precious treasure, to the beauty of the newness of Christ, or do we prefer something that attracts us momentarily but then leaves us empty inside?”
“The ephemeral often knocks on the door of our days, but it is a sad illusion, which makes us fall into superficiality and prevents us from discerning what is really worth living for,” he added.
Pope Francis’ weekly catechesis centered on a passage from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, in which the Apostle says: “O stupid Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? I want to learn only this from you: did you receive the Spirit from works of the law, or from faith in what you heard?”
The pope began his message by underlining that the Scripture passage and its message comes from St. Paul, not from him.
“This is not something new, this explanation, not something of mine: what we are studying is what St. Paul says in a very serious conflict with the Galatians,” he emphasized.
“This is simply a catechesis on the Word of God expressed in the Letter of St. Paul to the Galatians; nothing else.”
He noted that St. Paul is “not courteous” with the language he uses to address the Galatians. In other letters, Paul calls them “brothers” or “dear friends,” but here is angry, the pope explained, pointing out that he calls them “foolish,” which is also sometimes translated as “stupid.”
Paul “does so not because they are not intelligent, but because, almost without realizing it, they risk losing the faith in Christ that they have received with so much enthusiasm,” Pope Francis said. “They are foolish because they are unaware that the danger is that of losing the valuable treasure, the beauty, of the newness of Christ” and they may miss “the possibility of attaining a new, hitherto unhoped-for freedom.”
St. Paul is “shaking up their consciences: this is why it is so forceful,” he stated. “He takes them back to the starting point of the Christian vocation.”
According to Francis, “Paul’s intention is to compel Christians to realize what is at stake, so they do not allow themselves to be enchanted by the voice of the sirens who want to lead them to a religiosity based solely on the scrupulous observance of precepts.”
Even when we are tempted to turn to superficiality, however, God still bestows his gifts on us, he said.
“Even today, people come and harangue us, saying, ‘No, holiness is in these precepts, in these things, you must do this and that,’ and propose an inflexible religiosity, the inflexibility that takes away from us that freedom in the Spirit that Christ’s redemption gives us,” the pope continued.
He warned Catholics to “beware of the rigidity they propose to you: be careful.” Inflexibility, he said, does not come from the Spirit of God.
Francis pointed to St. Paul’s letter as a good source to help people to not listen to “these somewhat fundamentalist proposals that set us back in our spiritual life.”
“Despite all the difficulties we may pose to His action, God does not abandon us but rather abides with us in His merciful love,” the pope concluded.
“He is like that father who went up onto the terrace every day to see if his son was returning: the love of the Father never tires of us. Let us ask for the wisdom always to be aware of this reality, and to turn away the fundamentalists who propose to us a life of artificial asceticism, far removed from the resurrection of Christ. Asceticism is necessary, but wise asceticism, not artificial.”
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Vatican City, Sep 1, 2021 / 03:30 am (CNA).
Pope Francis addressed the Vatican financial scandals in a sit-down radio interview that aired Wednesday, saying he hoped that Cardinal Angelo Becciu is innocent of the charges against him.
“I hope with all my heart that he is innocent. Besides, he was a collaborator of mine and helped me a lot. He is a person whom I have a certain esteem as a person, that is to say that my wish is that he turns out well. … In any case, justice will decide,” the pope told Carlos Herrera, a journalist at Spain’s COPE radio station.
Becciu is one of 10 defendants in the Vatican’s largest trial for financial crimes in the modern era, after the pope changed the norms to allow cardinals to be tried by lay judges. Becciu is accused of embezzlement and abuse of office, but vehemently denies any wrongdoing.
In the 90-minute interview, his first since undergoing colon surgery, Pope Francis spoke about the recent restrictions on the Traditional Latin Mass, the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, the Vatican-China deal, euthanasia, and abortion.
“I am not afraid of transparency or the truth. Sometimes it hurts, and a lot, but the truth is what sets us free,” the pope said when asked about corruption at the Vatican.
“Let’s hope that these steps we are taking in Vatican justice will help to make these events happen less and less… Yes, you used the word corruption and, in this case, obviously, at least at first sight, it seems that there is corruption,” he said.
The pope also addressed clerical sexual abuse and questioned why governments were not making greater efforts to eliminate child pornography.
“Abusing a boy to film an act of child pornography is demonic. It cannot be explained without the presence of the devil,” the pope said.
“I sometimes wonder how certain governments allow the production of child pornography. Let them not say they don’t know. Nowadays, with the intelligence services, everything is known,” he said.
“A government knows who in its country produces child pornography. For me, this is one of the most monstrous things I have ever seen.”
Pope Francis also praised Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston for his work in establishing the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
“I would like to pay tribute to a man who began to speak about this with courage, even though he was a thorn in the side of the organization, long before the organization was created on this subject, and that is Cardinal O’Malley. It fell to him to settle the matter in Boston and it was not easy.”
Restrictions on the Traditional Latin Mass
Pope Francis described the publication of Summorum Pontificum, a 2007 apostolic letter lifting restrictions on the celebration of Mass according to the 1962 Missal, as “one of the most beautiful and human pastoral things of Benedict XVI, who is a man of exquisite humanity.”
Explaining why he issued the motu proprio Traditionis custodes in July curbing celebrations of the Traditional Latin Mass, he said: “Then the subject was studied and based on that, the concern that appeared the most was that something that was done to help pastorally those who have lived a previous experience was being transformed into ideology. … So we had to react with clear norms.”
He continued: “Because it seemed to be fashionable in some places that young priests would say ‘oh, no, I want…’ and maybe they don’t know Latin, they don’t know what it means,” he said.
Francis said that he saw the need for pastoral care to be taken with “some good limits.”
“For example, that the proclamation of the Word be in a language that everyone understands; otherwise it would be like laughing at the Word of God. Little things. But yes, the limit is very clear,” he said.
Withdrawal from Afghanistan
When asked about the withdrawal of the United States and its allies from Afghanistan, the pope said that “all eventualities were not taken into account.”
Pope Francis said that he was touched by something German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on the subject in Moscow on Aug. 20, but his paraphrased quotation was actually of words spoken by Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to AP.
“It is necessary to stop the irresponsible policy of enforcing its own values on others and attempts to build democracy in other countries based on outside models without taking into account historic, ethnic and religious issues and fully ignoring other people’s traditions,” Francis said.
“Concise and conclusive. I think this says a lot; and everyone can interpret it as they wish. But there I felt a wisdom in hearing this woman say this.”
The pope also said that the Vatican Secretariat of State was helping — or at least offering to help — with the situation in Afghanistan.
“[Vatican Secretary of State] Cardinal Parolin is really the best diplomat I have ever met,” the pope added.
The Vatican-China deal
Discussing the provisional agreement between the Holy See and China, first signed in 2018 and renewed in 2020, the pope said: “China is not easy, but I am convinced that we should not give up dialogue. You can be deceived in dialogue, you can make mistakes, all that… but it is the way. Closed-mindedness is never the way.”
He continued: “What has been achieved so far in China was at least dialogue … some concrete things like the appointment of new bishops, slowly … But these are also steps that can be questionable and the results on one side or the other.”
The pope added that Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, the Vatican Secretary of State for the first 10 years of John Paul II’s pontificate, was a model of Vatican diplomacy and spoke highly of his book, “The Martyrdom of Patience.”
“Today, somehow we have to follow these paths of dialogue step by step in the most conflictive situations. My experience in dialogue with Islam, for example, with the Grand Imam Al-Tayyeb was very positive in this, and I am very grateful to him,” he said, referring to the Grand Imam of al-Azhar in Egypt, with whom the pope signed a declaration on human fraternity in 2019.
Euthanasia and abortion
In the interview, the pope also strongly defended the Church’s opposition to euthanasia and abortion.
“We are living in a throwaway culture. What is useless is discarded. Old people are disposable material: they are a nuisance. Not all of them, but in the collective unconscious of the throwaway culture, the old… the most terminally ill, too; the unwanted children, too, and they are sent to the sender before they are born,” he commented.
“What the Church asks is to help people to die with dignity. This has always been done,” he said.
“And with regard to the case of abortion … I say this: any embryology manual given to a medical student in medical school says that by the third week of conception, sometimes before the mother realizes [that she is pregnant], all the organs in the embryo are already outlined, even the DNA. It is a life. A human life. Some say, ‘It’s not a person.’ It is a human life.”
The pope then posed a question: “Is it licit to eliminate a human life to solve a problem, is it fair to eliminate a human life to solve a problem?”
Asked about the devil, a theme that the pope has often addressed since his election in 2013, the pope highlighted the danger of what he called “polite devils.”
“The devil runs around everywhere, but I’m most afraid of the polite devils. Those who ring your doorbell, who ask your permission, who enter your house, who make friends,” Francis said.
“But Jesus never talked about that? Yes, he did … when he says this: when the unclean spirit comes out of a man, when someone is converted or changes his life, he goes and starts to walk around, in arid places, he gets bored, and after a while he says ‘I’m going back to see how it is,’ and he sees the house all tidy, all changed. Then he looks for seven people worse than him and enters with a different attitude,” he said.
“That is why I say that the worst are the polite devils, those who ring the doorbell. The naivety of this person lets him in and the end of that man is worse than the beginning, says the Lord. I dread the polite devils. They are the worst, and one is very much fooled.”
Not watching television
Pope Francis also told the story behind why he has not watched much television in the past 30 years.
“I made a promise on July 16, 1990. I felt that the Lord was asking me to do so, because we were in community watching something that ended up tawdry, unpleasant, bad. I felt bad,” he said.
“It was the night of July 15. And the next day, in prayer, I promised the Lord not to watch it.”
The pope added that he does still tune in for important events, such as when a president takes office or when there is a plane crash.
“But I am not addicted to it,” he said.
His recent colon surgery
Pope Francis said that life had returned to normal since undergoing a colon surgery on July 4 that required him to remain hospitalized for 11 days.
“It is the second time in my life that a nurse has saved my life,” the pope said.
“He saved my life. He told me: ‘You have to have surgery.’ There were other opinions: ‘Better with antibiotics …’ but the nurse explained it to me very well. He is a nurse from here, from our health service, from the Vatican hospital. He has been here for thirty years, a very experienced man,” he said.
Italian media identified the nurse as Massimiliano Strappetti, who has worked in the Vatican since 2002, after eight years serving in the intensive care unit at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital.
The pope explained that his surgery had been pre-scheduled and that he has been eating regularly now after some weeks of recovery.
“Now I can eat everything, which was not possible before with the diverticula. I can eat everything. I still have the post-operative medications, because the brain has to register that it has 33 centimeters [12 inches] less intestine.”
The pope also addressed the recent rumors about his resignation, saying that he had no idea about the rumors until someone told him.
“I read only one newspaper here in the morning, the newspaper of Rome … I read it quickly and that’s it … And I do receive the report about some of the news of the day, but I found out much later, a few days later, that there was something about me resigning,” he said.
“Whenever a pope is ill, there is always a breeze, or a hurricane, of conclave.”
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Nicosia, Cyprus, Sep 1, 2021 / 02:30 am (CNA).
Pope Francis will visit Cyprus in December, according to a local official.
The Associated Press reported on Aug. 31 that an official said that the visit would take place on Dec. 2-3 and include a meeting with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.
The Vatican has not confirmed the trip. But in an interview broadcast on Sept. 1, the pope said he hoped to visit the eastern Mediterranean island nation, which has a population of around 875,000 people, including approximately 10,000 Catholics.
The pope told Spain’s COPE radio station that since his election in 2013, he had chosen to visit “small countries in Europe.”
“First it was Albania and then all the countries that were small. Now Slovakia is on the program, then Cyprus, Greece, and Malta. I wanted to take that option: first to the smaller countries,” he said.
It is unclear whether a papal trip to Cyprus would be combined with a visit to neighboring Greece and Malta, an archipelago also located in the Mediterranean Sea.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni told AP: “Some trip hypotheses are under study for the autumn but it’s premature to speak about them.”
In the interview, the pope also confirmed his intention to visit Glasgow, Scotland, for the U.N. Climate Change Conference, known as COP26, taking place on Oct. 30-Nov. 12.
“Yes, in principle the program is that I go,” he said. “It all depends on how I feel at the time. But in fact, my speech is already being prepared, and the plan is to be there.”
Francis would be the second pope to travel to Cyprus, a majority Orthodox Christian country, after Benedict XVI, who visited the island on June 4-6, 2010.
If the trip is confirmed for Dec. 2-3, the pope would be arriving shortly after the feast of St. Andrew, the brother of St. Peter, when the pope traditionally sends a greeting to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, the spiritual leader of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians.
The Cypriot president met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Nov. 18, 2019. Afterward, Anastasiades said that he had invited the pope to visit the island in 2020, the 60th anniversary of the Republic of Cyprus and 10 years since Benedict’s visit. But the trip did not take place due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Local media suggested that a papal visit to Cyprus would also include a meeting with Orthodox leader Chrysostomos II of Cyprus and an encounter with the Catholic community at a stadium.
Cyprus was the first stop on St. Paul’s inaugural missionary journey, as described in Acts 13:4-12. St. Barnabus, a companion of St. Paul, is the country’s patron saint.
The island is divided between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, who live in the northeastern part of the island, on one side of a United Nations buffer zone. International efforts to resolve the dispute are ongoing.
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By Carlos Herrera
Well, I must ask you, first of all, Holy Father, how are you feeling?
I’m still alive. [Laughs.]
Your recent surgery, which was a major operation, left us with some concern…
Certainly, these things that are born, the diverticula… and who knows… they become deformed, necrotic… but thank God it was taken in time, and here I am.
I understand, moreover, that it was the action of a nurse that pointed you out, that alerted you in the first place.
He saved my life! He told me: “You have to have surgery”. There were other opinions: “Better with antibiotics…” but the nurse explained it to me very well. He is a nurse from here, from our health service, from the Vatican hospital. He has been here for thirty years, a very experienced man. It is the second time in my life that a nurse has saved my life.
When was the first time?
The first time was in 1957, when they thought it was the flu, one of those flu epidemics in the seminary, and the seminary nurse treated me with aspirin. And for the others it was fine, but with me, it didn’t work, so they took me to the hospital, where they took water out of my lungs. The doctor said I should receive… I don’t remember how much, let’s say a million units of penicillin and a number of streptomycins – those were the only antibiotics at the time – and when he left, the nurse said: “Twice as much”.
And that saved you?
Yes, because if it hadn’t, I wouldn’t have…
One of the… I won’t say one of the Vatican’s best-kept secrets, but one of the issues that traditionally is of most interest is the Pope’s health.
There were no surprises, it was all planned…
It was all scheduled and it was announced at… After the Angelus, I left immediately. That would be almost one o’clock, and it was announced at 3.30 pm, when I was already in the preliminaries.
You have said, Your Holiness, that “weeds never die”.
That’s right, that’s right, and that goes for me too; it goes for everyone.
Has the media [sic] forbidden you to do anything, is there any ultimatum, is there anything that Your Holiness cannot do or that you are not willing to do?
I do not understand what you mean.
Have the doctors prevented you from doing anything?
Oh, the doctors! Sorry, I had understood “the media”.
[Laughs] Well, the media, you know, also have temptations. But in this case, it’s the doctors. [Note.- in Spanish, “medios” (media) and “médicos” (doctors)]
Now I can eat everything, which was not possible before with the diverticula. I can eat everything. I still have the post-operative medications, because the brain has to register that it has 33 centimetres less intestine. And everything is managed by the brain, the brain manages our whole body, and it takes time for it to register it. But besides that, I have a normal life, I lead a totally normal life.
You eat anything you want…
You walk, you exert yourself…
All morning today in hearings, all morning long.
Now you are going on a trip to Slovakia and Hungary. I understand that it is the 34th trip of the Pontificate.
I don’t remember the times, but it may be so.
Is the program going to be as intense? I think the Popes, Your Holiness, are required to do a real gymkhana. I have always wondered why the Popes don’t go for two more days and spread the work over two more days, because they spend about 18 hours out of 24 doing things. Are you going to have to take care of your strength more after the surgery or not?
Maybe on this first trip I should be more careful, because one has to recover completely, but in the end, it will be the same as the others, you will see. [Laughs.]
Does Your Holiness fear that one of the most insistent things with which the media, essentially Italian, distinguish you, Holy Father, is that when the Pope’s health is questioned, many think or insist on the old argument of resignation, the “I’m going home, I can’t take it anymore…”? It is a permanent theme, I believe, in your life as Pope, isn’t it?
Yes, they even told me that last week that was very popular. Eva [Fernández] told me that; she even said it with a very nice Argentine expression, and I told her that I had no idea because I read only one newspaper here in the morning, the newspaper of Rome. I read it because I like the way of its headline, I read it quickly and that’s it, I don’t get into the game. I don’t watch television. And I do receive the report about some of the news of the day, but I found out much later, a few days later, that there was something about me resigning. Whenever a Pope is ill, there is always a breeze or a hurricane of conclave. [Laughter.]
What was the Pope’s confinement like? The time we have been confined at home. What has the Pope done during the confinement?
First, I have to put up with myself, which is not easy. It is a science that I still have to master. It’s hard to put up with oneself.
You have been in the practice for many years…
Yes, but it is difficult. Sometimes a person is capricious with himself and wants things to come out automatically. Then I started to take things back little by little and, today, I am leading a normal life. This morning, the whole morning of hearings; today is the second hearing in the afternoon (I started at 3.30 p.m.) and I am still going on.
Although the goal of your next trip is to Slovakia, many will be looking forward to your meeting with the Prime Minister of Hungary, Victor Orban, with whom you do not share some points of his government program, especially regarding the closing of borders. What would you like to say to him if you had the opportunity to meet him alone?
I don’t know if I am going to meet him. I know that authorities will come to greet me. I am not going to the center of Budapest, but to the place of the [Eucharistic] Congress, and there is a hall where I will meet with the bishops, and there, I will receive the authorities who will come. I don’t know who will come. The president I know because he was at the mass in Transylvania, that part of Romania where they speak Hungarian, a beautiful mass in Hungarian, and he came with a minister. I think it wasn’t Orban… because at the end of the mass we formally greet… I don’t know who will come…
And one of my ways is not to go around with a script: When I am in front of a person, I look him in the eyes and let things come out. It doesn’t even occur to me to think about what I’m going to say if I’m with him, those potential future situations that don’t help me. I like the concrete; thinking about potential future situations makes you tangled, it is not good for you.
Your Holiness is closely following the new political map Afghanistan is facing. The country has been left to its own devices after many years of military occupation. Can the Vatican pull diplomatic strings to try to prevent reprisals against the population or for so many other things?
Sure. And, in fact, I am sure that the Secretariat of State is doing so because the diplomatic level of the Secretary of State and his team is very high, also that of Relations with the Nations. Cardinal Parolin is really the best diplomat I have ever met. A diplomat who adds; not one of those who detract. He is someone who always seeks, a man of agreement. I am sure he is helping or at least offering to help. It is a difficult situation. I believe that as a pastor I must call Christians to a special prayer at this time. It is true that we live in a world of wars, (think of Yemen, for example). But this is something very special, it has another meaning. And I am going to try to ask for what the Church always asks for in times of great difficulty and crisis: more prayer and fasting. Prayer, penance, and fasting, which is what is asked for in moments of crisis. And regarding the fact of 20 years of occupation and then leaving, I remembered other historical facts, but I was touched by something that Chancellor Merkel, who is one of the great figures of world politics, said in Moscow, last 20th [of August]. And she said, I hope the translation is correct: “It is necessary to put an end to the irresponsible policy of intervening from outside and building democracy in other countries, ignoring the traditions of the peoples.” Concise and conclusive. I think this says a lot, and everyone can interpret it as they wish. But there I felt a wisdom in hearing this woman say this.
The fact that the West is renouncing, fundamentally to the coalition headed by the US and the EU itself? Does it discourage the Holy Father, or do you think it is the right way to go? Should we leave them to their fate?
They are three different things. The fact of resigning is legitimate. The echo it has in me is something else. And the third thing, you said “leave them to their fate”; I would say the way to resign, the way to negotiate a way out, isn’t it? As far as I can see, not all eventualities were taken into account here… or it seems, I don’t want to judge. I don’t know whether there will be a review or not, but certainly, there was a lot of deception perhaps on the part of the new authorities. I say deceit or a lot of naiveté, I don’t understand. But I would see the way here. And that from Mrs. Merkel highlights it.
I guess the Pope can allow himself disappointments like any Christian. As Holy Father, what has been the biggest disappointment you have had, Your Holiness?
I had several. I had several disappointments in life and that’s good because disappointments are like emergency landings. They are like emergency landings in life. And the point is to get up. There is an alpine song that says a lot to me: “In the art of climbing, what matters is not not to fall, but not to stay fallen”. And you, faced with a disappointment, have two ways: either you stay there saying that this is not going to work – as the Tango says: “Dale que va, que todo es igual, que allá en el horno nos vamos a encontrar” – or I get up and bet again. And I believe that in the face of a war, in the face of a defeat, even in the face of one’s own disappointment or one’s own failure or one’s own sin, one must get up and not remain fallen.
It is always said that the devil is delighted that people believe he does not exist. Does the devil also run around the Vatican?[He laughs] The devil runs around everywhere, but I’m most afraid of the polite devils. Those who ring your doorbell, who ask your permission, who enter your house, who make friends… But Jesus never talked about that? Yes, he did! Yes, he did. When he says this: when the unclean spirit comes out of a man, when someone is converted or changes his life, he goes and starts to walk around, in arid places, he gets bored… and after a while he says “I’m going back to see how it is”, and he sees the house all tidy, all changed. Then he looks for seven people worse than him and enters with a different attitude. That is why I say that the worst are the polite devils, those who ring the doorbell. The naivety of this person lets him in and the end of that man is worse than the beginning, says the Lord. I dread the polite devils. They are the worst, and one is very much fooled. One is very much fooled.
In March it will be nine years since the beginning of your Pontificate, which has not been that brief pontificate of 4-5 years that Your Holiness said. Are you satisfied with the changes undertaken or is there anything pending that you would like to finish off imminently? That is to say, do you have the feeling that God has given you some extra time for something?
Obviously, the appointment took me by surprise because I came with a small suitcase. Because I had my cassock here. I had been given one as a gift when I became a cardinal and I left it at the home of some nuns so as not to have to… I belonged to five or six congregations here and so I had to travel, so I didn’t have to come with that… I came as usual. And I left the Holy Week homilies prepared there in the bishopric. That is to say, it caught me by surprise. But I didn’t invent anything; what I did from the beginning is to try to put into action what we cardinals said in the pre-conclave meetings for the next Pope: the next Pope has to do this, this, this, this. And this is what I started to do. I think there are several things still to be done, but there is nothing invented by me. I am obeying what was set at the time. Maybe some people did not realize what they were saying or thought it was not so serious, but some topics cause pain, it is true. But there is no originality of mine in the plan. And my working roadmap, ‘Evangelii Gaudium’, is one thing in which I tried to summarize what we cardinals were saying at the time.
That is to say, when you left Buenos Aires, did you at any time contemplate the possibility that you were not going to return?
No, not at all. Not at all. I even had to delay essential things. Because of my age, it didn’t occur to me. It did not occur to me. But the only thing I did was to try to summarize everything; I asked for the minutes of those meetings –in which I had been present, but in order not to forget– and to set that up.
One of the latest earthquakes in the Vatican, at least in the media, is the macro-process for corruption in which Cardinal Becciu is accused. He assures that his innocence will be proven. From the outside, one gets the impression that the reform of Vatican finances is like that snail that climbs up the well, and every time it advances one meter it goes back two. Is there hope? How do you think this affair will end? Corruption is an inherent, unavoidable sin in all organizations, but in what way can it be avoided within the Vatican?
We have to do everything we can to avoid it, but it is an old story. Looking back, we have the story of Marcinkus, which we remember well; the story of Danzi, the story of Szoka… It is a disease that we relapse into. I believe that today progress has been made in the consolidation of justice in the Vatican State. During the last three years, progress has been made in such a way that justice has become more independent, with the technical means, even with recorded witness statements, the current technical things, appointments of new judges, of the new public prosecutor’s office… and this has been moving things forward. And it helped. The structure helped to face this situation that seemed that it would never exist. And it all started with two reports from people who work in the Vatican and who saw an irregularity in their functions. They made a complaint and asked me what to do. I told them: if you want to go ahead, you have to present it to the prosecutor. It was a bit challenging, but they were two good people, they were a bit cowed and then, as if to encourage them, I put my signature under theirs, to say: this is the way, I am not afraid of transparency or the truth. Sometimes it hurts, and a lot, but the truth is what sets us free. So this was simply it. Now, if a few years from now another one appears… Let’s hope that these steps we are taking in Vatican justice will help to make these events happen less and less… Yes, you used the word corruption, and, in this case, obviously, at least at first sight, it seems that there is corruption.
What do you fear more? Whether [Becciu] will be found guilty or not guilty, given that you yourself gave permission to bring him to trial?
He goes to trial according to Vatican law. At one time, the judges of the cardinals were not the judges of state as they are today, but the Chief of State. I hope with all my heart that he is innocent. Besides, he was a collaborator of mine and helped me a lot. He is a person whom I have a certain esteem as a person, that is to say that my wish is that he turns out well. But it is an effective way of the presumption of innocence. In addition to the presumption of innocence, I want everything to turn out well. In any case, justice will decide.
I don’t know if Pope Francis is a man who likes to bang his fist on the table. Would it be possible that the last blow on the table has been the pontifical document limiting the celebration of the ‘Tridentine Masses’? And I also ask you to explain to my audience what the ‘Tridentine Mass’ is, what is it about the Tridentine Mass that is not mandatory.
I’m not one to bang on the table, I don’t get it. I’m rather shy. The history of Traditionis custodes is long. When first St. John Paul II, –and later Benedict, more clearly with ‘Summorum Pontificum’–, gave this possibility of celebrating with the Missal of John XXIII (prior to that of Paul VI, which is post-conciliar) for those who did not feel good with the current liturgy, who had a certain nostalgia… it seemed to me one of the most beautiful and human pastoral things of Benedict XVI, who is a man of exquisite humanity. And so it began. That was the reason. After three years he said that an evaluation had to be made. An evaluation was made, and it seemed that everything was going well. And it was fine. Ten years passed from that evaluation to the present (that is, thirteen years since the promulgation) and last year we saw with those responsible for Worship and for the Doctrine of the Faith that it was convenient to make another evaluation of all the bishops of the world. And it was done. It lasted the whole year. Then the subject was studied and based on that, the concern that appeared the most was that something that was done to help pastorally those who have lived a previous experience was being transformed into ideology. That is, from a pastoral thing to ideology. So we had to react with clear norms. Clear norms that put a limit to those who had not lived that experience. Because it seemed to be fashionable in some places that young priests would say “oh, no, I want…” and maybe they don’t know Latin, they don’t know what it means. And on the other hand, to support and consolidate ‘Summorum Pontificum’. I did more or less the outline, I had it studied and I worked, and I worked a lot, with traditionalist people of good sense. And the result was that pastoral care that must be taken, with some good limits. For example, that the proclamation of the Word be in a language that everyone understands; otherwise it would be like laughing at the Word of God. Little things. But yes, the limit is very clear. After this motu proprio, a priest who wants to celebrate that is not in the conditions of the others – that it was for nostalgia, for desire, etc. – has to ask permission from Rome. A kind of permission of bi-ritualism, which is given only by Rome. [Like] a priest who celebrates in the Eastern Rite and the Latin Rite, he is bi-ritual but with the permission of Rome. That is to say, until today, the previous ones continue but a little bit organized. Moreover, asking that there be a priest who is in charge not only of the liturgy but also of the spiritual life of that community. If you read the letter well and read the Decree well, you will see that it is simply a constructive reordering, with pastoral care and avoiding an excess of those who are not…
Does His Holiness have sleepless nights due to the synodal path that the German Catholic Church has begun?
About that, I allowed myself to send a letter. A letter that I wrote by myself in Spanish. It took me a month to do that, between praying and thinking. And I sent it at the right time: the original in Spanish and a translation into German. And there I express everything I feel about the German synod. It is all there.
The German synod’s protest is not a new one… History repeats itself…
Yes, but I wouldn’t get too tragic either. There is no ill will in many bishops with whom I spoke. It is a pastoral desire, but one that perhaps does not take into account some things that I explain in the letter that need to be taken into account.
There are things that are firmly established in the popular imagination. One of them, the most talked about, is the crisis of the Theatre. Your Holiness knows that the theatre has been in crisis since Your Holiness and I were born. Another one is the reform of the curia. It is constantly said “the curia must be reformed”, but the curia seems unreformable. It is like a thorny jungle into which it is impossible to enter, or so it is said from the outside. Does the Pope still dream of a Church very different from the one you see now?
Well, if you see that from the beginning, what the cardinals said in the pre-conclave has been put into action until now, the reform is proceeding step by step and well. The first document that marks the line, trying to resume what the cardinals said, is ‘Evangelii Gaudium’. And there is a problem in ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ that I would like to point out, which is the problem of preaching. Subjecting the Christian faithful to long classes of theology, philosophy or moralism is not Christian preaching. In ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ I ask for a serious reform of preaching. Some do, others don’t understand… To make a point, right? But ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ tries to summarize in general the attitudes of the cardinals in the pre-conclave. And regarding the apostolic constitution ‘Praedicate Evangelium’, this is already being worked on, and the last step is for me to read it –and I must read it because I have to sign it and I have to read it word for word– and it is not going to have anything new in terms of what is being seen now. Perhaps some detail, some change of dicasteries that are joining together, two or three more dicasteries, but it has already been announced: for example, Education is going to join with Culture. ‘Propaganda Fide’ is going to join with the ‘New Evangelization’ dicastery. It has been announced. There is not going to be anything new with respect to what was promised to be done. Some people say to me, “When is the apostolic constitution on the reform of the Church coming out, to see what’s new?” No. There is not going to be anything new. If there is anything new, it’s little things of tweaking. It’s nearly finished, but it got delayed with this thing about my illness. It is simmering, so take all this into account. Be clear that the reform will be nothing other than to put in place what we asked for in the pre-conclave, and that is being seen. It is already being seen.
On the first visit to the Vatican’s communications department, the Holy Father expressed his concern that the message was not reaching where it should. Audience numbers were poor. Was that a serious reprimand?
I was amused by the reaction. I said two things. First, a question: how many people read L’Osservatore Romano? I did not say whether many or few read it. It was a question. I think it is lawful to ask, don’t you? And the second question, which was more of a theme, [I asked] when after having seen all the new work of union, the new organization chart, the functionalization, I spoke of the sickness of the organization charts, which gives a reality a more functional than real value. And I said: with all this functionality, which is for it to work well, we must not fall into functionalism. Functionalism is the cult of organization charts without taking reality into account. It seems that someone did not understand these two things I said, or maybe someone did not like it, or I don’t know what, and interpreted it as a criticism. But it was just a question and a warning. Yes… Maybe someone felt offside. I think the dicastery is very promising, it is the dicastery with the largest budget in the Curia at the moment, headed by a layman –I hope that soon there will be others headed by a layman or a laywoman– and that it is taking off with new reforms. L’Osservatore Romano, which I call “the newspaper of the Party”, has made great progress and it is marvellous how it is making the cultural efforts it is making.
Years ago I was impressed by something you recounted, Your Holiness, when years ago in the streets of Buenos Aires some parents shouted to their son not to approach you because you were dressed as a priest and could be a paedophile.
This is how it was.
There still seems to be doubts about all the priests, who during this pandemic, for example, have shown that they are working their tails off with the last ones. Are the bishops of all countries doing the homework you sent them when you summoned them to Rome so that paedophiles would no longer exist among their ranks?
Before answering your question, I would like to pay tribute to a man who began to speak about this with courage, even though he was a thorn in the side of the organization, long before the organization was created on this subject, and that is Cardinal O’Malley. It fell to him to settle the matter in Boston and it was not easy. There have been very clear steps taken on this, haven’t there? The Commission for the Defense of Minors, which was Cardinal O’Malley’s invention, is now functioning. Now I have to renew half of its staff because every three years half of its staff is renewed. Top-notch people from several different countries with these problems. And I think they are doing well. I think the statistics I gave to the journalists at the meeting of the presidents of the Bishops’ Conferences, on the one hand, and then the final speech I gave at the end of the Mass at that meeting, were key in this. Someone said: “at the end of the day, the Pope said that it is everyone’s problem, he blamed the devil and washed his hands of it”. That was a media comment; that I blamed the devil, yes. As an inciter of this. But I blamed him when I talked about paedo-pornography. I said that abusing a boy to film a paedo-pornographic act is demonic. It cannot be explained without the presence of the devil. I did say that. Well, there in that speech I talked about everything, along with the statistics. I think things are being done well. In fact, progress has been made and more and more progress is being made. However, it is a global and serious problem. I sometimes wonder how certain governments allow the production of paedo-pornography. Let them not say they don’t know. Nowadays, with the intelligence services, everything is known. A government knows who in its country produces paedo-pornography. For me this is one of the most monstrous things I have ever seen.
Some time ago, Your Holiness, you admitted that a few years ago ecological issues were of no interest to you. Now Your Holiness has changed, for you are one of the world leaders who speak out most on this issue, on the abuses committed against the Earth. Has the ecological choice made you enemies? Will you be in Glasgow for COP26? Two questions in one.
I am going to make history: [The V General Conference of CELAM in] Aparecida was in 2007 if I am not mistaken. I’m a little lost for dates. In Aparecida I heard the Brazilian bishops talk about preserving nature, the ecological problem, the Amazon…. They insisted, insisted, insisted, and I wondered what this had to do with evangelization. That’s what I felt. I didn’t have the faintest idea. I’m talking about 2007. That shocked me. When I returned to Buenos Aires I became interested, and slowly I began to understand something. Already being here, huh? I am a convert in this. And then I understood more. And somehow I realized that I had to do something and then I had the idea of writing something as a magisterium because the Church in front of this… just as I was a salame, as we say in Argentina, a fool who did not understand any of this, there are so many people of good will who do not understand… So, to give some catechesis on this. I summoned a group of scientists to explain to me the real problems; not the hypotheses, but the real thing. They made me a nice catalogue and rightly so. I passed it on to theologians who reflected on it. And that is how ‘Laudato Si’ came about.
A nice anecdote: when I went to Strasbourg, President Hollande sent the Minister of the Environment, who at that time was Mrs. Ségolène Royal, to receive me and see me off. And in the conversation I had with her, she said to me “Is it true that you are writing something?”, the Minister of the Environment understood. And I said, “Yes, I’m on this.” “Please publish it before [the] Paris [summit] because we need endorsements.” I came back from Strasbourg and sped up. And it came out before the Paris meeting. For me the Paris meeting was the summum in becoming globally aware. Then what happened? Fear set in. And slowly, in the subsequent meetings, they went backwards. I hope that Glasgow will now raise its sights a bit and bring us more in line.
But will Your Holiness be there?
Yes, in principle the program is that I go. It all depends on how I feel at the time. But in fact, my speech is already being prepared, and the plan is to be there.
Let’s talk about China if you like, Your Holiness… Within your own ranks there are those who insist that you should not renew the agreement that the Vatican has signed with that country because it jeopardizes your moral authority. Do you have the feeling that there are many people who want to set the Pope’s path?
Even when I was a layman and priest, I loved to show the way to the bishop; it is a temptation that I would even say is licit if it is done with good will. China is not easy, but I am convinced that we should not give up dialogue. You can be deceived in dialogue, you can make mistakes, all that… but it is the way. Closed-mindedness is never the way. What has been achieved so far in China was at least dialogue… some concrete things like the appointment of new bishops, slowly… But these are also steps that can be questionable and the results on one side or the other. For me the key figure in all this and who helps me and inspires me is Cardinal Casaroli. Casaroli was the man John XXIII commissioned to build bridges with Central Europe. There is a very nice book, ‘The Martyrdom of Patience’, where he tells a bit about his experiences there. Or his experiences are recounted by the one who compiled everything. And it was small step after small step, creating bridges. Sometimes having to talk in the open air or with the faucet open in difficult moments. Slowly, slowly, slowly, he was achieving reserves of diplomatic relations which in the end meant appointing new bishops and taking care of God’s faithful people. Today, somehow we have to follow these paths of dialogue step by step in the most conflictive situations. My experience in dialogue with Islam, for example, with the Grand Imam Al-Tayyeb was very positive in this, and I am very grateful to him. It was like the germ of ‘Fratelli Tutti’ afterwards. But dialogue, always dialogue or to be willing to dialogue. There is a very nice thing. The last time St. John Paul II met with Casaroli, he went to inform him where things were going… (Casaroli went every weekend to a juvenile prison. I think it was Casal del Marmo, I am not sure. And he was with the boys and wore a cassock like a priest. Nobody knew… Some didn’t know who he was). And when they said goodbye and Casaroli was already at the door, St. John Paul II called him and said, “Eminence, do you still go to those boys?” “Yes, yes.” “Never leave them. The testament of a saintly pope to a very capable diplomat: continue on this path of diplomacy, but don’t forget that you are a priest, as you are doing. This for me is inspiring.
Your Holiness, in Spain euthanasia has been legalized, on the basis of what they call the “right to a dignified death”. But that is a fallacious syllogism, because the Church does not defend incarnate suffering, but dignity to the end. How far does man have real power over his life? What does the Pope believe?
Let us situate ourselves. We are living in a throwaway culture. What is useless is discarded. Old people are disposable material: they are a nuisance. Not all of them, but in the collective unconscious of the throwaway culture, the old… the most terminally ill, too; the unwanted children, too, and they are sent to the sender before they are born… In other words, there is this kind of culture.
Then, let us look at the peripheries, let us think of the great Asian peripheries, for example, to go far away and not think that we are just talking about things here. The discarding of entire peoples. Think of the Rohingyas, discarded, nomads around the world. Poor things. In other words, they are discarded. They are no good, they don’t fit, they are no good.
This throwaway culture has marked us. And it marks the young and the old. It has a strong influence on one of the dramas of today’s European culture. In Italy the average age is 47 years old. In Spain I think it is older. That is to say, the pyramid has been inverted. It is the demographic winter at birth, in which there are more cases of abortion. The demographic culture is in loss because we look at the profit. It looks to the one in front… and sometimes using the idea of compassion: “that this person may not suffer in the case of…” What the Church asks is to help people to die with dignity. This has always been done.
And with regard to the case of abortion, I do not like to enter into discussions on whether it is possible up to here, or whether it is not possible up to there, but I say this: any embryology manual given to a medical student in medical school says that by the third week of conception, sometimes before the mother realizes [that she is pregnant], all the organs in the embryo are already outlined, even the DNA. It is a life. A human life. Some say, “It’s not a person.” It is a human life! So, in front of a human life I ask myself two questions: Is it licit to eliminate a human life to solve a problem, is it fair to eliminate a human life to solve a problem? Second question: Is it fair to hire a hired killer to solve a problem? And with these two questions, what about the cases of elimination of people — on one side or the other — because they are a burden for society?
I would like to remember something they used to tell us at home. About a very good family with several children and the grandfather who lived with them, but the grandfather was getting old and at the table he began to drool. Then, the father could not invite people because of his father’s shame. So he thought of setting a nice table in the kitchen and explained to the family that from the next day on, Grandpa would eat in the kitchen so they could invite people. And so it was. A week later, he comes home and finds his little 8-year-old son, 9 years old, one of the children, playing with wood, nails, hammers, and he says, “What are you doing?” “I’m making a little table, Dad.” “For what?” “For you, for when you’re old.” In other words, what is sown with the discard, is going to be harvested later.
Holiness, let us move on to another scenario. In Spanish society, you know that there have been some fractions and some concrete fractures. The referendum in Catalonia led to a particularly delicate situation. And you have said that sovereignism is an exaggeration that always ends badly. What attitude do you think we should adopt in the face of an approach of rupture?
I would suggest looking at history. In history there have been cases of independence. They are countries in Europe that today are even in the process of independence. Look at Kosovo and that whole area that is being remade. These are historical events that are characterized by a series of particularities. In the case of Spain, it is you, the Spaniards, who have to judge, looking at your attitude. But for me, the most important thing at this moment in any country that has this type of problems, is to ask myself if they have reconciled with their own history. I don’t know if Spain is totally reconciled with its own history, especially the history of the last century. And if it is not, I think it has to make a step of reconciliation with its own history, which does not mean giving up its own positions, but entering into a process of dialogue and reconciliation; and, above all, fleeing from ideologies, which are the ones that prevent any process of reconciliation. Moreover, ideologies destroy. “National unity” is a fascinating expression, it is true, that of national unity, but it will never be valued without the basic reconciliation of the peoples. And I believe that in this any government, whatever the sign it may be, has to take charge of reconciliation and see how they carry out history as brothers and not as enemies or at least with that dishonest unconscious that makes me judge the other as a historical enemy.
Well, Spain underwent a very intense and admirable reconciliation process for the whole world in the seventies of the last century. The problem is that historical revisionism has tried to render useless that admirable reconciliation in the world that was the Spanish Transition, which I imagine you knew in Argentina and it will not be strange for the Pope. Nationalism and sovereignism have sown Europe with deaths and immigrants. And this leads me to ask you: in the face of the immigration caused by various phenomena in which we are immersed right now, what position do we take? What happens when the number of those who ask for shelter exceeds the possibilities of reception of a country? Should there be no borders? Everyone anywhere, wherever we want and however we want? Do the states have the right to set their rigid or less rigid rules?
My answer would be this: first, with regard to migrants, four attitudes: welcome, protect, promote and integrate. And as for the last one: if you welcome them and leave them loose at home and do not integrate them, they are a danger, because they feel like strangers. Think of the Zaventem tragedy. Those who committed that act of terrorism were Belgians, the children of immigrants who were not integrated, turned into a ghetto. I have to get the migrant to integrate and for this I have to take this step of not only welcoming them, but protecting them and promoting them, educating them, etc. The second thing, more to your question: the countries have to be very honest with themselves and see how many they can accept and up to what number, and here the dialogue between nations is important. Today, the migratory problem cannot be solved by one country alone and it is important to dialogue and see “I can go this far…”, “I have more possibilities” or not; “integration structures are valid or not valid”, etcetera. I am thinking of a country where a few days after arriving, a migrant already received a salary to go to school to learn the language, and then he/she got a job and was integrated. This was during the time of the integration of immigration by the military dictatorships in South America: Argentina, Chile, Uruguay. I am talking about Sweden. Sweden was an example in these four steps of welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating.
And then there is also a reality in the face of migrants, I have already referred to it, but I repeat it: the reality of the demographic winter. Italy has almost empty villages.
“Well, we’re getting ready.” What are you waiting for, to be left with no one? It is a reality. In other words, migration is a help as long as our integration steps are fulfilled. That is my position. But of course, a country has to be very honest and say: “this is as far as I can go”.
Next year will mark the fortieth anniversary of St. John Paul II’s speech on European identity. I would like to ask you about the places where the Pope can go as long as your health allows you to do so. Might be Haiti, or it may be your country, might be Santiago [de Compostela]. [It was there] that St. John Paul II said: “Find yourself again, be yourself, discover your origins. It would be a magnificent memory to remember this with you, taking advantage of the Jacobean Holy Year…
I told the president of the Xunta de Galicia that I would think about the matter. That is, I did not take it out of an eventual schedule. For me the unity of Europe at this moment is a challenge. Either Europe continues to perfect and improve in the European Union, or it disintegrates. The EU is a vision of great men – Schumann, Adenauer… – who saw it. I think I gave six speeches on the unity of Europe. Two in Strasbourg, one when I was awarded the Carlo Magno Prize and in that case the speech given by the mayor of Aachen I recommend it because it is a great discourse on the problem of the EU. But we cannot give up. One of the happiest moments I had was in one of the speeches, when all – or heads of state or heads of government – from the EU came. No one was missing and we had our picture taken in the Sistine Chapel. I never forget that. We cannot go backwards. It was a time of crisis and the EU reacted well to the crisis. Despite the discussions, it reacted well. We have to do what we can to save that heritage. It is a legacy and it is a duty.
Your Holiness, if I do not ask you when the Pope will come to Spain, they will claim to me “how come you have not asked the Holy Father…”. I dare to suggest to you that Your Holiness will not know the Holy Week until he does not come a Holy Tuesday to Seville to see the Virgin of the Candelaria. Are you not even curious?
A lot. A lot. But my choice so far of travel to Europe is the small countries. First it was Albania and then all the countries that were small. Now Slovakia is on the program, then Cyprus, Greece and Malta. I wanted to take that option: first to the smaller countries. I went to Strasbourg but I did not go to France. I went to Strasbourg because of the EU. And if I go to Santiago, I go to Santiago but not to Spain, let’s be clear.
To the European Way.
To the European Way. One Europe. But that is yet to be decided.
Is there anything the Pope has cried about in the last year, other than the pandemic, or does not the Pope cry easily?
I am not a person who cries easily, but from time to time I feel that sadness in front of some things, and I am very careful not to confuse it with a Paul Verlaine-like melancholy: “Les sanglots longs, de l’automne, blessent mon coeur”. No, no. I don’t want it to be confused with that. At times, seeing certain things, they touch my heart and… and that happens to me sometimes….
You have been called “the pop Pope” or “Pope Superman”, which I know you don’t like. Who is Francis really, how would you like to be remembered?
For what I am: a sinner trying to do good.
Well, then we are two sinners at this table …
Two we are.
But you have more of a hand up there. [Laughs] I have always been struck by your relationship with the writer Jorge Luis Borges. Why did he pay so much attention to that young Jesuit?
I don’t know why. I approached him because I was very close to his secretary. And then a friendliness… I was not a priest when I met him. I was 25 or 26 years old when I met him, and I was teaching in Santa Fe as a Jesuit, in those three years that we Jesuits taught at school, and I invited him to come and speak to my students of Literature. And he came, and he had his course… I don’t know why. But he was a very good man. A very good man.
We have heard you talk a lot about your paternal grandmother, grandmother Rosa, but we have heard you talk less about your mother, or perhaps we simply have not heard you talk about your mother…
There are two factors at work here. We are five siblings, all very close to our grandparents. God has preserved our grandparents until we grew up. I lost my first grandfather, the most distant of all, when I was 16 years old, and the last grandmother when I was a Jesuit provincial. So the grandparents remained with us always. There was also a tradition at home; the four older ones, because the youngest came six years later, spent the vacations with the grandparents, so that mom and dad could rest a little. It was fun. There is a lot of that grandparents’ thing. About grandma Rosa what I tell are the same anecdotes as always, some of them are very funny. From the other grandmother I also tell anecdotes, like the lesson she gave me the day of Prokofiev’s death, about the effort in life. When I asked her how that man must have made it so far. I was a teenager. And yes, I also remember many things about my mother that I also recount… But perhaps it is more striking about grandma because I keep repeating some curious things about her, some unrepeatable things by letter, by radio programs… some sayings that taught us a lot. But, apart from the fact that we were very fond of our grandparents, well, in fact on Sundays we would go to our grandparents’ house and then to the stadium to watch San Lorenzo. But grandparents had a great influence on our life.
You have not gone back to watch San Lorenzo because you do not want to watch television for years…
That`s right. I made a promise on July 16, 1990. I felt that the Lord was asking me to do so, because we were in community watching something that ended up tawdry, unpleasant, bad. I felt bad. It was the night of July 15. And the next day, in prayer, I promised the Lord not to watch it. Of course, when a president takes office I watch it, when there is a plane crash, I watch it, those things… but I am not addicted to it.
You have not viewed the Copa America, for example.
No, not at all.
There is an old legend that says that some Pope has escaped from the Vatican. Has Francis made any escapade that no one has known about so far?
No. The one who used to go skiing was St. John Paul II. An hour and a bit away there was a ski slope, and he had it in his soul. And he was right to escape, he was covered. But one day while he was in line to go up and a boy said, “The Pope!”. I don’t know how he found out. And he went back right away, and he tried to take more precautions. The houses of families where I have gone to visit, as far as I remember, are three: a half convent of the Teresian Sisters where I wanted to visit Professor Mara, already 90 years old, a great woman who taught at the University of La Sapienza and then taught at the Augustinianum, and I wanted to go to celebrate Mass for her. Then to pay my condolences to probably my best friend, an Italian journalist, at his home. And the third house I visited was that of Edith Bruck, the lady, 90 years old now, who was in the concentration camp. She was Hungarian. Jewish. This was this year at the beginning or last year, I can’t remember. These are the only three houses I went to in hiding, and then it came out. I would love to walk down the street, I would love to, but I have to deprive myself, because I couldn’t walk ten meters.
Have you ever been tempted to wear civilian clothes?
No, absolutely not. No.
…with a hat and goggles?[Laughs] No, no, not at all.
How does Pope Francis fight nostalgia, who cooks him aniseed sticks or what he always had for breakfast in La Puerto Rico?
I try not to make my nostalgia melancholic, autumnal, although one nice thing about the Argentine autumn, in Buenos Aires, was the cloudy, foggy days, where you couldn’t see ten meters from the window, and I was listening to Piazzola. I do miss that a bit, but Rome has its foggy days too. Not nostalgia, no. The desire to walk from one parish to another, yes; but not nostalgia.
Are the days of headaches over words or attributed words that went too far and had consequences that you didn’t count on over?
The danger is always there. A word can be interpreted one way or the other, can’t it? These are things that happen. And what do I know… I don’t know where they got it from last week that I was going to resign! What word did they understand in my country? That’s where the news came from. And they say it was a commotion, when it didn’t even cross my mind. When there are interpretations that are a little distorted about some of my words, I keep quiet, because trying to clarify them is worse.
Do people talk a lot about soccer here in Santa Marta?
Yes, Italian soccer. I’m getting to know things a little bit. There is a lot of talk about soccer, yes.
What kind of soccer player were you, Your Holiness?
I was a stick. They called me ‘el pata dura’, that’s why they always put me in the goal, that’s where I defended myself more or less well.
In our [sports] program ‘Tiempo de juego’, our colleagues, when I told them that I was coming to see the Pope, “please, let the Pope tell you what he thinks about Messi’s signing, he has gone to France”. What do you fancy about the whole soccer world, do you follow it closely?
I wrote a pastoral on sports. A pastoral that was not a pastoral. In two steps. First there was the article published in the Gazzetta dello Sport on January 2 of this year and based on that –I corrected it– the pastoral. An interview article. I only say this: to be a good soccer player you have to have two things: to know how to work in a team and not to be, as we say in Buenos Aires in our slang, one who ‘bites’ the ball, but always in a team. And secondly, not to lose the amateur spirit. When sport loses that amateur spirit, it starts to become too commercialized. And there are men who have known how not to let themselves be stained by this and to give their earnings and everything to good works and foundations. But above all, working as a team, which is a school of team sports, and not losing the amateur spirit.
Your Holiness, I thank you very much for this unforgettable hour that you have offered to the listeners of COPE.
A big greeting to those who are listening and I ask you all to pray for me so that the Lord will continue to protect me and take care of me, because if he leaves me alone I am a mess.
Normally it is you who would tell us this, but today it is just us: God bless you
And to you all, God bless you. Thank you.
By Vatican News staff writer
Welcoming pilgrims to the Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican for his weekly General Audience, Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the Letter of Saint Paul to the Galatians. In this latest chapter, he recalls how the apostle Paul challenges the first Christians of Galatia to look at where they have strayed from their faith and how they risk nullifying the grace they have experienced if they do not correct course.
The Pope described how the Apostle uses strong terms, like foolishness, to describe their behaviour, because they risked losing their faith in Christ, which they initially received with enthusiasm, and so Paul appealed to their memory of his first proclamation when he offered them the possibility of attaining a new, hitherto unhoped-for freedom in faith.
The point is to shake up their consciences, the Pope explained, when Paul reminded the Galatians how the word he preached to them focused on God’s love, fully manifested in the death and resurrection of Jesus, and the grace they received from that. In summary, the Pope went on to say, Paul’s intention is to compel the Galatians to avoid falling into the trap of a religiosity based solely on the scrupulous observance of precepts, overlooking “the love of Christ, crucified and risen again,” which should “remain at the centre of our daily life as the wellspring of salvation”.
The Galatians understood what Paul was saying, the Pope pointed out, since they had experienced the action of the Holy Spirit in their communities, through charity and other charisms that manifested themselves among them, “the fruit of the newness of the Spirit.” God was bringing them to faith, the Holy Spirit had been the agent of their experience, the Pope added, but the Galatians were putting that all in the background seeing their own works as the protagonists, which Paul described as foolishness.
In conclusion, the Pope said we also need to reflect on where our faith is, and how we live it; and to make sure that Christ’s love remains at the centre of our lives, the way to our salvation. We must continually keep to this “precious treasure, to the beauty of the newness of Christ,” rather than to externals, rather than “something that attracts us momentarily but then leaves us empty inside.” He said we can be encouraged by the fact that, “even when we are tempted to turn away, God still continues to bestow His gifts… God does not abandon us but rather abides with us in His merciful love.”
By Nathan Morley
It was described as America’s longest war – now, though, US troops have left Afghanistan.
Just before 8:30pm on Monday, the last contingent of American soldiers left Kabul airport.
General Frank MacKenzie, the top US military commander in the region, said the final flights did not include the dozens of Americans who had not been able to get to the airport.
As the Americans left, the Taliban celebrated with a flurry of gunfire into the skies over Kabul.
At the same time, the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, said a new chapter of engagement on Afghanistan has begun in which American would lead with its diplomacy.
American officials said that together with allies, they managed to evacuate some 123,000 people before the deadline.
However, many foreign citizens remain in Afghanistan, including hundreds of British nationals and around 200 Americans.
Vatican City, Aug 31, 2021 / 07:32 am (CNA).
In a new interview, Pope Francis said that a nurse saved his life, in reference to a medical issue he had earlier this summer.
“A nurse saved my life,” Pope Francis told Spanish COPE radio, in excerpts of an interview which will air Sept. 1.
In a pre-released segment, a journalist can be heard asking Pope Francis how he is doing after a July 4 operation on his colon.
“I’m alive,” the pope responded. “A nurse, a man with a lot of experience, saved my life.”
The Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported Aug. 31 that the man Pope Francis was referring to is Massimiliano Strappetti, a nurse who has worked in the Vatican since 2002, after eight years serving in the intensive care unit at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital.
COPE radio wrote that Strappetti is a husband and father and known for being generous and devoted to others.
According to La Repubblica, Strappetti was the person who advised Pope Francis to undergo tests after he had his first flare-up of diverticulitis in February.
Strappetti, together with the pope’s other medical staff, recommended that he have the July 4 operation to keep the situation from becoming worse.
Pope Francis returned to the Vatican July 14, after spending 11 days in Gemelli Hospital to recover from the three-hour surgery to remove a part of the colon to relieve a stricture caused by diverticulitis.
“This is the second time in my life that a nurse has saved my life. The first was in the year ’57,” Pope Francis told COPE, in reference to an Italian religious sister who helped him when he was ill with pneumonia during his seminary studies in Argentina.
The papal interview also addressed recent media rumors that Pope Francis is thinking about resigning.
Francis put the rumors to rest, joking that “when a pope is sick, a wind or a hurricane of a conclave rises.”
La Repubblica also claimed to have learned that not only is Pope Francis not thinking about retirement, but also that he is not drafting a document with rules for retired popes, as had been recently rumored.
In the hour and a half-long interview, Pope Francis also reportedly spoke about the situation in Afghanistan.
The interview with Carlos Herrera, an award-winning Spanish journalist and television presenter, will air on COPE, a radio station owned by the Spanish bishops’ conference, on Sept. 1.
By Giada Aquilino
Cecilia Dall’Oglio, associate director of European programs of the Laudato si’ Movement, summarizes the meaning of the 2021 Season of Creation as hospitality expressed through a mission of dialogue, a commitment to build a shelter for others, “to do our part now and do it together”.
She also describes it as an annual time of renewal and hope bringing together Christians of all denominations. She calls to mind the life and faith experience of her brother, Jesuit father Paolo Dall’Oglio, of whom there has been no news since his disappearance in 2013 in Syria. Fr. Dall’Oglio helped re-establish the monastery of Mar Musa in Syria.
Beginning on 1 September, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, and continuing until 4 October, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the faithful around the world are mobilizing to renew their relationship with the Creator and all of creation through this celebration, marking a time for conversion and concrete commitment. This year’s theme is “A Home for All? Renewing God’s oikos,” she explains.
Dall’Oglio is the representative of the Global Ecumenical Steering Committee for the Season of Creation. She points to the Tent of Abraham as the pivotal symbol of all the events. “I think that Father Paolo, my brother, would be very happy to see so many “Abraham Tents” set up in communities around the world, in symbolic places found on all continents, the many declarations of commitment by Christians from worldwide to build a home for all, to renew the oikos of God, so that hospitality, which is the charism, one of the pillars of the community of Mar Musa, may be for all of us a path to follow. Hospitality is also making space, meeting and shaking each other’s hands.”
Focusing on the question “A home for all?”, the central theme, Cecilia Dall’Oglio emphasizes how urgent it is to “begin a process of ecological conversion”.
It is necessary, she explains, that “our communities stop and reflect, that they pray to the Lord to give them the gift of discernment to understand whether as a community they really are building a home for all.”
She adds, “renewing God’s oikos’ comes from becoming aware that the earth is the Lord’s, as is everything in it. This earth, this common home, as Pope Francis calls it in Laudato si’, this oikos is made up of relationships. We know that the Creator has given humankind a special vocation to care for his home, so we are called together to support equitable ecological, social, economic, and political relationships.”
The Season of Creation commitment that unites Christians around the world is also underscored by Christina Leaño, associate director and co-founder of the Laudato si’ Movement.
“For the past 7 years,” she says, “we have worked closely with ecumenical partners – the World Council of Churches, representatives of the Orthodox Communion, the Anglican Church, Lutherans and others – to unite as followers of Christ in caring for our planet.
The result has instilled a “motivation for stronger ecumenical collaboration” that has translated into concrete actions, “from pilgrimages along local rivers in Canada to religious congregations working to reduce meat consumption,” from participation in climate initiatives by young people around the world to creation-related themes included “in Sunday liturgies in Latin America.”
Among the plans for the 2021 edition is one called “A tent for all”, which consists of an invitation to pitch tents in symbolic places. Agesci, the Association of Italian Catholic Guides and Scouts, did just that in Piazza Santa Chiara in Assisi.
The Association’s president, Barbara Battilana, recalls that right there, in the Basilica, “the Crucifix of San Damiano is kept, in front of which the Poverello of Assisi was praying when he received the Lord’s request to repair his house”.
That’s the starting point for the youth of Agesci and she says it is “an example and a continuous reference point to be able to pitch tents everywhere and transmit the message of taking care of our common home, not just on our own, but together as a community.”
By Francesca Merlo
In light of the tragedy engulfing Afghanistan, marred by recent attacks and the desperate flight of thousands of people, Pope Francis is once again asking the faithful throughout the world to gather in prayer and to abstain from meals.
He made that appeal during his Sunday Angelus address, which was repeated on his Twitter account @Pontifex. On numerous occasions during his pontificate, the Pope has called for this type of action, in the face of humanitarian tragedies.
“I appeal to everyone to intensify prayer and practise fasting: prayer and fasting, prayer and penance. Now is the time to do it.” Adding emphasis to his appeal, he continued, “I’m serious: Intensify prayer and practice fasting, asking the Lord for mercy and forgiveness.”
In an interview with Vatican News’ Salvatore Cernuzio, Andrea Riccardi, the founder of the Sant’Egidio Community, spoke about the Pope’s request for fasting and prayer for the war-torn country.
“Praying and fasting are not at all anachronistic practices, let alone spiritualistic,” he says. “On the contrary, I believe that we pray too little for peace in our churches. On Sundays we hardly ever hear prayers for Afghanistan or, for example, for northern Mozambique with 800,000 refugees, or for so many forgotten wars. We pray little for peace.” Prayer is a strength, he adds.
Andrea Riccardi notes that there is indeed an urgency to launch these prayer and fasting marathons. “Faced with distant wars, with situations that we do not know how to resolve, it seems as if we cannot do anything and a sense of impotence is created.” From this impotence, he warns, “comes indifference”.
He notes that Pope Francis has often spoken against the globalisation of indifference. He explains that our indifference comes from the feeling that “we can do nothing” to help.
“Instead,” he continues, “I believe that in this global world, every man and woman can do something. If small groups can sow terror, small groups can sow peace. And they can do it through prayer which, together with fasting, which is also detachment from daily life, is a ‘revolt’ against war, as well as an invocation to the Lord, the Lord of history, so that He may open up paths of peace and arouse, through His spirit, the good will of men, of the powerful, of institutions.”
Speaking of the value the Pope’s request can have for non-Catholics, and making reference to the Pope’s consistent invitation for brothers and sisters of different religious demoninations to unite in prayer, Andrea Riccardi recalls the Pope’s meeting in Bari in 2018 as a “purely evangelical image”.
“The agreement between ‘brothers’ can move us, can open a history of peace,” he notes. “It is the Spirit of Assisi, the invitation to the prayer for peace, that revolutionary and decisive breakthrough introduced in 1986 by John Paul II: praying together for others, not against each other.”
On Monday, Mr. Riccardi met the Pope in a private audience. Regarding his meeting, Mr. Riccardi notes that “the Pope is deeply concerned about Afghanistan; he follows the situation day by day.”
However, he adds, the Pope has “not abandoned the dream and the vision of building a new post-Covid world, in which social solidarity goes hand in hand with international solidarity.”
“We live with too many emotions linked to the news, often forgetting that we are truly in a historical phase of great change, in which there is an urgent need to build a different world from the one before. And now we are faced with a drama like that of Afghanistan, which calls for spiritual and concrete solidarity in welcoming.”
Concluding the interview, Mr. Riccardi urges us to “ask ourselves: what kind of society do we want to build? The societies of walls and fear or the societies of hope and welcome? Hope and welcome that are nourished by prayer.”
Prayer, he says, makes us both bold and capable of dreaming up new formulas for living together.
By Benedict Mayaki, SJ
With nearly 10 million children in urgent need of humanitarian aid in Afghanistan amid the increased conflict and insecurity in recent weeks, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has expressed concern that those least responsible for the crisis are paying the highest price – including children – some of them killed in a deadly attack at the Kabul airport on Thursday.
A huge explosion rocked Kabul’s airport last week as the US and other international troops carried out massive evacuation efforts following the Taliban takeover of the country. Over 150 people were killed in the incident, including 13 US servicemen, and several others were left injured.
UNICEF further highlights the need for humanitarian aid for the country, amid headlines about international donors cutting aid to the country. The humanitarian aid appeal will go to cover a variety of sectors including child protection, sanitation, nutrition, health and education, says Herve Ludovic De Lys, UNICEF’s Afghanistan representative.
Against the back of instability and conflict, Herve de Lys notes that there is a “child protection crisis in the country that is already one of the worst places on earth to be a child.”
He spoke of unsettling reports of unaccompanied children across the country, many exposed to grave violations, including some being recruited by armed groups.
Some other children who live in communities are running out of water because of droughts. Many are extremely malnourished and risk starvation. In addition, they are missing life-saving vaccines, including against polio, a disease that can paralyze them for life.
All of this, De Lys noted, is happening in a year “in which more than 550 children have been killed, and more than 1,400 injured.”
UNICEF urges aid to support its work in the trouble-ridden country, in order to help the children “deprived of their right to a healthy and protected childhood,” de Lys said adding that “it is for each and every one of these children that UNICEF is staying” in Afghanistan.
Herve de Lys underlined the importance of cash-based assistance for Afghans in need, noting that cash “gives people the power to choose what they need the most while maintaining their dignity”, especially as the winter months approach.
He also reiterated the commitment to girls’ education, insisting that UNICEF will advocate “for all girls in Afghanistan, including those with disabilities, to attend primary and secondary school, and go to university if they choose.”
Calling on all partners, he appealed that they support UNICEF as it prioritizes its scale-up plan which includes providing mobile health clinics; vaccinating babies against polio and other vaccine-preventable diseases, and vaccinating people against COVID-19; treating children who are severely acutely malnourished; delivering water to areas affected by the drought, and distributing hygiene kits; getting children ready for school for the new school term next month, which includes efforts to reach 300,000 children, half of whom are girls.
By Vatican News staff reporter
While justice demands that we don’t violate the rights of others but give them their due, charity makes us feel the needs of others as our own. This fosters fruitful cooperation and friendship. Hence, true peace can be established in the world when justice finds its fulfilment in charity or love.
Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, made this argument in a video message on Tuesday to the “Korea Global Forum for Peace” (KGFP), an annual event that South Korea’s Ministry of Unification hosts each year, in which experts, researchers and government officials from over twenty countries participate. The theme of this year’s KGFP, from August 31 to September 2, is, “A New Vision for Inter-Korean Relations and Community: For Peace, Economy and Life.” Due to the pandemic, it is being held online.
The Vatican’s top diplomat on Tuesday presented a lengthy paper on, “The Role of the Churches in Establishing Peace on the Korean Peninsula,” offering principles, values and ideals from Church tradition and the Gospel that can help bring peace and reconciliation on the peninsula.
According to Pope Paul VI, people and nations must meet one another as brothers and sisters, as children of God, and work together to build the common future of the human race, in order to create the conditions for the integral development of humanity based on solidarity. This process, Cardinal Parolin pointed out, is fostered by the actions of welcoming, accompanying and listening.
Pope Francis describes welcoming others as closeness, openness to dialogue, patience and a kindness that does not condemn. It means making space for them in our lives and willingness to share our joys and sorrows, which help build authentic relationships.
Explaining the need for accompanying, Cardinal Parolin said that there can be no harmonious development of society in all its parts unless we implement shared strategies in concrete situations, which aim at respect for human life and each one’s dignity and the progressive accompaniment of persons.
The act of listening or dialogue involves consciously devoting some precious time and attention to carefully decoding the signals we are receiving.
Cardinal Parolin said that listening helps the resolution of conflicts, cultural mediation and peacemaking in communities and groups. According to Pope Francis, dialogue helps us to understand and appreciate others’ needs and fosters in us an attitude of listening and openness to the speaker’s valid viewpoints.
Cardinal Parolin argued that dialogue is a great sign of respect as it helps people understand and appreciate one another’s needs. Dialogue becomes an expression of charity, as it can help us seek and share the common good without ignoring the differences and without making our position prevail over that of others.
With regard to a new vision of relationship on the Korean peninsula, the 66-year old cardinal held out the figure of Pope John XXIII, who always emphasized the universal values that bring people together. He always looked out for the goodness present in every person and society, and established a dialogue based on mutual respect and recognition that overcame narrow mindedness that created divisions. Believing that there some goodness in every person, led him to seek first what unites rather than what divides. This is the basis of dialogue, Cardinal Parolin said, and this is what allowed Pope John XXIII to help resolve peacefully the Cuban missile crisis.
According to the Second Vatican Council, Cardinal Parolin explained, peace is more than the absence of war or a balance of power between opposing forces. There cannot be peace unless people’s welfare is safeguarded and people share with one another the riches of their minds and their talents freely and in a spirit of mutual trust. Thus, peace is also the fruit of love, for love goes beyond what justice can achieve.
We could also say that peace is friendship and benevolence. According to Confucius, the cardinal pointed out, benevolence means not imposing on others what you do not wish for yourself, a principle that is close to the Christian precept: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Mt 22:39).
Citing Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Parolin said that for true peace to be established in the world, justice must find its fulfilment in charity, i.e. love. This is why he reminded all that forgiveness is needed for solving the problems of individuals and peoples. Only a humanity in which there reigns the ‘civilization of love’ will be able to enjoy authentic and lasting peace.
According to Pope Francis, friendship also has a social dimension based on solidarity and reciprocity.
This is what he meant when amidst the ravages of Covid-19 in a deserted St. Peter’s Square on 27 March 2020, he said that we are all on the same boat, fragile and disoriented, but all needing one another, as no one is saved alone.
In his encyclical on fraternity and social friendship, Fratelli tutti, Pope Francis describes dialogue as approaching, speaking, listening, looking at, coming to know and understand one another, and to find common ground. Such dialogues by many generous persons, the Pope says, keep families and communities together, without making headlines.
In conclusion, Cardinal Parolin told the KGFP that for authentic peace in the world, justice must find fulfilment in charity and people must look for things that unite them than that which divide. Insisting on the need for friendship and fraternity in the world, Pope Paul VI said we must see in others not a stranger, a rival, an annoyance, an adversary or an enemy, but as human beings like ourselves, worthy of respect, esteem, assistance and love.
Françoise Niamien and Clément Ahouandjinou – Vatican City
Five of the deacons are from the Congregation of the Holy Spirit Fathers and six from the Archdiocese of Dakar. They were ordained deacons by Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye himself.
In his homily at the ordination Mass, the Archbishop of Dakar invited the ordinands to be close to the sick.
“The health context in which you are entering and in which the world finds itself, dear ordinands, should make you sensitive to the many ills and diseases that affect the lives of people today,” said the prelate of Dakar.
“In the face of the many casualties of life,” he continued, “becoming a deacon means taking on the costume of service to serve God in the poor, the sick, the lost, the desperate, always through charity -agape,” he said.
Continuing his homily, Bishop Ndiaye encouraged the deacons to give the best of themselves in the service of their brothers and sisters: “Like true sportsmen and women of Christ,” he encouraged them to run “in such a way as to win the prize, as the Apostle Paul says,” and to “always aim higher, further, as the Olympic Games in Japan recently reminded us,” Archbishop Ndiaye said.
In his view, the new deacons should not be “content with being average pastoral ministers”. “Aim to be the best in serving Christ and his people,” Archbishop Ndiaye emphasised.
By Vatican News staff reporter
A series of virtual meetings kick off on Tuesday to help bring the two Koreas closer to each other along the path of peace, prosperity and unification, especially at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic is prompting nations to restrict the movement of people among them. This is the purpose of the “Korea Global Forum for Peace” (KGFP) 2021, from August 31 – September 2, in which experts, researchers and government officials from over twenty countries are participating. Since 2010, South Korea’s Ministry of Unification has been promoting the KGFP. This year’s theme is, “A New Vision for Inter-Korean Relations and Community: For Peace, Economy and Life.”
Since 2021 marks the 30th anniversary of Inter-Korean Basic Agreement as well as South and North Korea’s simultaneous admission to the United Nations, this year’s Forum will not only focus on the Basic Agreement as the foundation of a peaceful unification of the two Koreas, but it will also broaden its horizon to the future in the perspective of the role of the international community.
Among those invited to address the KGFP is Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin. He is scheduled to deliver a keynote video message on the theme, “The Role of the Churches in Establishing Peace on the Korean Peninsula”. UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres is among numerous others participating in the 3-day Forum.
A KGFP press release said noted that the Covid-19 global healthcare is placing “significant restrictions on face-to-face communication among countries”. At the same time, it has “escalated the urgency and importance of cooperation in non-traditional security” such as disease, disaster and terrorism. “Against this backdrop, it is more critical than ever for the international community to work toward maintaining the momentum for building peace and continuing international discourse to address the crisis on the Korean peninsula,” the press statement said.
“In order to enter the path of peaceful co-existence and shared prosperity,” the KGFP said, “it is more important than anything else to manage the state of affairs on the Korean peninsula in a peaceful and stable way through a clear and realistic understanding of the surrounding circumstances, close cooperation with the international community, and consistent implementation of the Korean Peace Process among others.”
On August 15, the 2 Koreas marked the 76th anniversary of Liberation Day. On August 15, 1945, Korea regained its independence from Japanese colonial oppression. Ironically, the day also marks the division of the Korean peninsula into two countries.
Prior to World War I and Japan’s annexation of Korea (1910–1945), all of Korea had been unified as a single entity for centuries. Following the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II, in 1945, the United States and the Soviet Union had provisionally divided the Korean peninsula along the 38th parallel. North Korea was administered by the Soviet Union, while South Korea was administered by the US. Efforts towards reunification of the two administrations failed in 1947 following disagreements between the US and the Soviet Union.
Meanwhile, with tension building between the two neighbours, the North invaded the South in 1950. The 1950-1953 conflict claimed some 4 million lives and divided 10 million families. The war ended on 27 July 1953, with an armistice, not a peace treaty. Hence South Korea and North Korea are technically still at war.
Reconciliation between the two Koreas has been a major thrust of the Catholic Church in Korea, which includes the entire peninsula. With this in mind, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Korea (CBCK) established the Special Commission for the Reconciliation of the Korean People in 1997.
The CBCK has organized several initiatives over the years, such as Masses, novenas, and the Jubilee of National Reconciliation in Chuncheon in June 2000. The Korean Church provided substantial aid to the North Korean population hit by the famine in the 1990s, and has made efforts to raise awareness among the faithful on the issue of reunification.
Other Christian Churches have also been involved in efforts of peace and reunification of the Koreas.
Vatican City, Aug 30, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).
Pope Francis has advanced the sainthood causes of a Franciscan friar who helped to rescue Jews during the Holocaust and a mother who sacrificed her life to save her unborn child.
Fr. Placido Cortese is remembered for using his confessional in the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua to clandestinely communicate with an underground network that helped Jewish people and British prisoners of war escape the Nazi occupation of Italy.
Known locally as “the Italian Fr. Kolbe,” the priest is now considered “venerable” by the Catholic Church after the pope recognized him for living a life that was “heroic in virtue” on Aug. 30.
Like St. Maximilian Kolbe, Cortese was a Franciscan friar who directed a Catholic publication and was tortured and killed by the Nazis.
He was born Nicolò Cortese in 1907 on the island of Cres, which is now part of Croatia. At the age of 13, he entered minor seminary with the Order of Friars Minor Conventual and took the name Placido after taking his vows in 1924.
Cortese studied theology at the St. Bonaventure Theological College in Rome and was ordained a priest in 1930 at the age of 23. He offered his first Mass in the Basilica of St. Mary Major.
He spent several years serving at the Basilica of St. Anthony in Padua, where he was asked to be the director of the Italian Catholic magazine Il Messaggero di Sant’Antonio (The Messenger of Saint Anthony), whose readership grew by 500,000 under his leadership.
After the German occupation of Padua, Fr. Cortese was part of an underground group linked to the Resistance, using his printing press to make false documents to help Jewish people and Allied soldiers reach safety in Switzerland.
In October 1944, two German SS officers tricked Cortese into leaving the walls of his monastery in Padua, which was protected as an extraterritorial territory of the Holy See, on the false pretext of someone needing his help.
Cortese was immediately arrested and taken to a Gestapo bunker in Trieste, where he was brutally tortured. But he did not give away the names of any of his associates, according to Fr. Giorgio Laggioni, his vice-postulator.
After weeks of torture, he died in Gestapo custody in November 1944 at the age of 37. His confessional in the Basilica of St. Anthony of Padua continues to be a place of prayer today.
In one of his letters to his family, Cortese wrote: “Religion is a burden that one never tires of carrying, but which more and more enamors the soul toward greater sacrifices, even to the point of giving one’s life for the defense of the faith and the Christian religion, even to the point of dying amid torments like the martyrs of Christianity in distant and foreign lands.”
In the decree from the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints that advanced Cortese’s cause, two laywomen were also recognized for their heroic virtue.
Enrica Beltrame Quattrocchi, an Italian laywoman who died in 2012, is also on her way to sainthood, along with her parents, Bl. Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi, who were beatified together in October 2001.
Unlike her three older siblings who each followed vocations to religious life, Enrica lived out her Catholic faith as an unmarried lay Catholic who served as a high school teacher, a volunteer helping the poor, and a caretaker for her parents in their old age.
Through illness and economic difficulties, Enrica remained faithful to attending daily Mass and dedicated to serving others. She died at the age of 98 after seeing her parents beatified.
The decree also recognized Maria Cristina Cella Mocellin (1969-1995), a Catholic mother who chose not to undergo cancer chemotherapy while she was pregnant to save the life of her unborn third child.
“You are a gift to us … You are precious and when I look at you I think that there is no suffering in the world that is not worthwhile for a child,” Maria Cristina wrote in a letter to her child, which she gave to her husband.
The Italian mother began chemotherapy as soon as her son, Riccardo, was born in 1994, but the cancer spread to her lungs. She died on Oct. 22, 1995, at the age of 26, leaving behind three children.
“I believe that God would not allow pain if he did not want to obtain a secret and mysterious but real good. I believe that I could not accomplish anything greater than saying to the Lord: Thy will be done,” she wrote.
“I believe that one day I will understand the meaning of my suffering and I will thank God for it. I believe that without my pain endured with serenity and dignity, something would be missing in the harmony of the universe.”
By Benedict Mayaki SJ
In light of increasing calls for communal efforts to be directed toward the protection of our common home amid widening ecological degradation, hurricanes, flooding and other natural disasters, the “Eco Summer Camp for Young Adults” is doing something to urge young people to take a stand for themselves and for generations to come.
Organized by the Lassalle-Institut in collaboration with Swiss Catholic Lenten Fund, Fastenopfer and the Center for Development and Environment (CDE), the initiative brought together over 40 young adults between the ages of 18 – 35 for the program which was held from 22 to 28 August at the Lassalle-Haus in Switzerland.
Experts and scholars animated sessions aimed at broadening the horizons of the participants and strengthening an international network of young people who contribute to a true change in environmental issues. This is done through a holistic approach that fosters interpersonal growth through a mindful approach, as well as through practical contributions.
In an interview with Vatican News, Jesuit Valerio Ciriello reflected on this first edition of the summer program and the importance of involving young people in ecological efforts. Ciriello is the chaplain at the University of Lucerne, Switzerland, and works for an ecological transition for future generations. The Eco Summer Camp for Young Adults is one of the fruits of his work.
Although everyone is encouraged to participate in efforts for a healthier planet, Ciriello highlights that the program targets young adults, because they have the potential to be dynamic and to make an impact in the face of the challenges on the path towards an ecological transition. More so, the young people are going to be the ones “most affected by the consequences of climate change and the loss of biodiversity.”
Through programs like the Eco Camp, he continues, there is a hope that they are “less influenced by the living style of past generations” and maybe, with an openness to change, young adults can influence a better way of development and lifestyle for future generations.
In this regard, the Summer Camp provides the opportunity for young adults from all over the world to connect on a “deeper level” – to feel the interconnection with the rest of the world – but also to foster feeling that moves us towards “a more fraternal world.”
“Our minds divide us because everyone has their own opinion,” the Jesuit says, “but the feelings towards a more fraternal world are universal for every one of us and it does not matter from what cultural, religious or political background you have come from.”
Reflecting on the Eco Camp in the light of Pope Francis’ 2015 Laudato si’ Encyclical on care for our common home, Ciriello notes that even though the document is written for the Catholic Church, it is really meant for everyone, urging us to work together to protect our planet.
“We have to realize that we are all in the same boat, and we share the same short moments of life. We have to take the responsibility together to face the challenges of future generations and we have to feel interconnected,” he says, stressing that there is no Christian or non-believer solution to these challenges.
To combat this great challenge to humankind, Ciriello notes, we have to “find a common ground” in spite of our differences in religion, political leanings and philosophy.
As the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) scheduled for 1-12 November in Glasgow, Scotland draws closer, the Jesuit acknowledges the opportunity it will present for world leaders to take positive action in the face of the urgent ecological crisis.
Particularly, Ciriello points out that our basic approach toward the climate emergency has to change. He stresses that we need to “put human beings at the center” in economic decision-making and in efforts to protect the planet, as opposed to running an economy driven solely by Gross Domestic Products (GDP) that require us to destroy even more resources.
“The destruction of the environment, climate change and others all have one big common root – our living style” he says, insisting that “our consumption attitude has to change radically.”
The next Eco Summer Camp for Young Adults will take place from 25 August – 1 September 2022.
By Robin Gomes
Myanmar’s leading Catholic Churchman has lashed out against the “so-called leaders of the time” saying they have “failed in their leadership roles and responsibilities”. Delivering a homily at Mass on Sunday at the St. Mary’s Cathedral, Cardinal Charles Bo used the day’s scripture readings to expose the country’s “leaders”, saying they have sown death and despair in Myanmar by pitting the laws and regulations of their ‘head’ against the people’s ‘heart’.
Eighteen months of Covid-19 with loss of life and livelihood, 7 months of civil strife, disappointment, death and despair, he said, are “the litany of natural and man-made disasters” that have extended “a long night of silent tears” of the people of Myanmar. He was referring to the woes of the southeast Asian nation following the military coup of February 1 that deposed the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. However, the cardinal, who is president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Myanmar (CBCM), regarded the people as great as they are “armed with personal morality and generosity”.
The 72-year-old cardinal drew attention to the Letter of St. James, which urges Christians to be doers of the Word and not just hearers, and Mark’s Gospel, where Jesus denounces the legalistic observance of the law against the commandment of love and compassion. The Pharisees and scribes had challenged Jesus as His disciples had not cleaned themselves before eating. Cardinal Bo said the readings call for a person’s journey “from the head to the heart”, “towards greater authenticity in personal life and the life of the nation”, marked by love.
“The deaths and despair of the last seven months are based on the laws and regulations of the head”, which, he said, are pitted against the people’s ‘heart’, which symbolizes “love”. “Go beyond the law into love: move from the legalistic, law-oriented mind towards love-oriented heart,” the cardinal urged, adding that the heart, which is the source of defilement, as Jesus says, needs cleansing.
Physically, the distance between the head and the heart, the cardinal pointed out, is only about 18 inches, but the journey from the head, full of concepts, laws and ideas to a heart full of love is a lifelong journey. “Authenticity is achieved when there is harmony between the head and the heart”, from being “a Pharisees to the disciple of Jesus”, from oppressive governments to the Kingdom of God, from untruth to truth.
Cardinal Bo urged his fellow citizens to rebuild themselves by “bringing the compassionate heart into our lives”. The dichotomy between the head and the heart of “those who rule us “ he said, has only “brought great agony”.
Alluding to the country’s junta that is buying weapons from “all over the world” to consolidate its hold on power,” Cardinal Bo urged, “let us arm ourselves with love for one another”. True authenticity,” he added, “comes ultimately through love.”
By Vatican News staff writer
Msgr. Julius Agbortoko, the Vicar General of the Mamfe diocese, is the latest victim of kidnappers in Cameroon’s restive anglophone region.
A statement from Fr. Sebastine Sinju, Chancellor of the Mamfe diocese, explained that the Monsignor was abducted upon his return from Kokobuma where he had spent the weekend on a pastoral visitation and for the inauguration of the presbytery of the parish.
“It is with a very heavy heart that I bring to your notice the sudden abduction of the Mgr. Julius Agbortoko,” on Sunday, 29 August 2021, read the statement.
According to the statement, Msgr. Agbortoko drove in on Sunday just before 6 pm. About half an hour later, some young men who “identified themselves as separatist fighters” entered the compound of the Major Seminary and made their way to the residence of Bishop Lysinge. While there, they noticed the presence of the Vicar General whom they considered younger and stronger than the Bishop emeritus.
The kidnappers are currently asking for a ransom of over 20 million Francs CFA, the statement adds.
“I call on all of you to invoke the One Family Spirit and pray unanimously for his safety and his subsequent release,” Fr. Sinju urged.
He further seized the opportunity to denounce the attacks on “the Church in general and that of Mamfe in particular,” and called on the stakeholders of the ongoing crisis in the country to “kindly hands off the Church, for God’s sake.”
Msgr. Agbortoko’s kidnapping joins a series of abductions and attacks in Cameroon’s separatist agitations in the English-speaking regions, which turned into armed conflict in 2017.
This latest abduction comes just over three months after another priest of Mamfe diocese, Fr. Christopher Eboka, was seized but later released after nine days.
According to the UN, the fighting in Cameroon has led to the deaths of thousands and has forced over 700,000 people to flee for their lives to other countries, including neighboring Nigeria.
By Vatican News staff reporter
Some 20 Italian Bishops are holding a two-day meeting in the city of Benevento to seek ways to revitalize their pastoral care in areas facing depopulation, marginalization, and economic difficulty.
The Bishops hail from dioceses in Piedmont, Umbria, Lazio, Abruzzo, Molise, Campania, Puglia, Basilicata, and Calabria.
As the event kicked off on Monday, Pope Francis sent a message to participants, urging them to set out with openness to “make all things new.”
The Pope said the meeting can help the Bishops rediscover “communion and fraternity” and meet challenges together.
“Do not let yourselves be paralyzed by difficulties, individualism, and indifference that marks our times,” he wrote.
Rather, Christians should respond to these problems with “charity” and by “active engagement”, and not with “subdued disagreement with the lack of values in today’s society.”
He also urged Italian Bishops to overcome “nostalgia for the past” and take bold steps to be a consoling presence in places where hardships abound.
Parishes, he added, should become training centers for Christian life and “schools of service to others,” in such a way that humility and tenderness shine forth.
Pope Francis concluded the message expressing his appreciation for the initiative, which should help Bishops create projects and attitudes to help people discover “the love of the encounter with Jesus.”
By Nathan Morley
Rockets have been fired towards Kabul International Airport where the US evacuation operation is drawing to a close.
Reports suggest around five rockets flew over Kabul, the Afghan branch of Islamic State (IS) says it was behind the attack.
Eyewitnesses said the rockets were launched from a car towards the airfield, but were stopped before reaching their target.
President Biden has been informed about the attack, and a White House spokesman said the incident would not interrupt the US departure from Afghanistan.
The US military carried out a drone strike to stop a suicide bomber targeting Kabul airport on Sunday.
US forces now have just over 24-hours to meet their deadline to quit the country.
Meanwhile, the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees has said the ending of evacuations marks the beginning of a much larger migration crisis.
At the same time, the Regional Director for UNICEF South Asia, George Laryea-Adjei, has said children have paid the heaviest price in recent weeks of increased conflict and insecurity.
Not only have some been forced from their homes, and cut off from their schools and friends, they have also been deprived of basic healthcare that can protect them against polio, tetanus and other diseases.
According to UNICEF, more than 18 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Some four million children are not in school. On top of that, around 400,000 people have left their homes to seek refuge, more than half of whom are children.
By Víctor Manuel Fernández
When Saint Paul speaks of justification by faith, he is actually exploring a deep conviction of some Jewish traditions. Because if one were to affirm that one’s justification is obtained through the fulfillment of the Law through one’s own strength, without divine help, one would be falling into the worst of idolatries, which consists in worshipping oneself, one’s own strength, and one’s own works, instead of worshipping the one God.
It is essential to remember that some texts of the Old Testament and many extra-biblical Jewish texts already showed a religiosity of trust in God’s love and invited one to a fulfillment of the law actuated in the depths of the heart through divine action (cf. Jer 31:3,33-34; Ez 11:19-20; 36:25-27; Hos 11:1-9, etc.). “Emunah,” an attitude of deep trust in Yahweh, which actuates authentic fulfillment of the Law, “is at the very heart of the requirement of the whole Torah.”.
A recent echo of this ancient Jewish conviction, which renounces self-sufficiency before God, can be found in the following phrase of Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov (early 19th century): “I fear my good deeds that produce pleasure much more than my bad ones that produce horror.”
Jewish traditions also recognize that fulfilling the Law in its entirety requires a transformation that starts in the heart. Christians and Jews do not say that it is the outward fulfillment of certain customs that matters, without the inward impulse of God. In reality, Jewish theology coincides with Christian doctrine on this point, especially if we start from the texts of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, where the need for purification and transformation of the heart appears. How can we not see Rom 2:28-29 as a continuation and deepening of Jeremiah 4:4 and 9:24-25? Jews and Christians alike recognize that the external law alone cannot change us without the purifying and transforming work of God (Ez 36:25-27), who has already begun to make Himself present for us in His Messiah (Gal 2:20-21).
On the other hand, we recall that, according to the very profound interpretation of Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas on the Pauline theology of the new law, the sterility of an external law without divine help is not only a characteristic of the Jewish Law, but also of the precepts that Jesus Himself left us: “The letter, even of the Gospel, would kill unless there were the inward presence of the healing grace of faith.”
Notes: The text of Hab 2:4, which expresses this fundamental attitude, is in fact quoted by Saint Paul when he speaks of justification by faith in Gal 3:11 and in Rom 1:17.  Cf. C. Kessler, Le plus grand commandement de la Loi (cit) 97. It must be said here that Paul’s affirmations of a “transience” of the Law should be placed in the context of the “rabbinic doctrine of the eons,” according to which at the end of time the instinct of evil will be eradicated from human hearts and the external law will no longer be necessary. Paul in fact believed he was living in the end times and awaited the imminent return of the Messiah: “Paul was a Pharisee convinced that he was living in a messianic time”: H.J. Schoeps, Pau1. The theology of the Apostle in the light of Jewish religious history, Philadelphia, 1961, p. 113. For this reason, in 1 Timothy, when the expectation of an imminent coming had eased a great deal, the law acquired greater importance (cf. 8-9).  Quoted by E. Wiesel, Celebración jasídica, Salamanca, 2003, p. 58; Celebrazione hassidica, Milano, 1987.  Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q. 106, art. 2.
By Benedetta Capelli
Three figures whose lives were characterised by surrender to God’s love, trust in His mercy, and hope in His forgiveness. These are the traits that distinguish the new Venerable Servants of God.
After Monday’s audience with Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Pope Francis authorised the Dicastery to promulgate the Decrees concerning the heroic virtues of Enrichetta Beltrame Quattrocchi, Fra Placido Cortese, and Maria Cristina Cella Mocellin.
The story of Maria Cristina Cella Mocellin recalls those of St Gianna Beretta Molla, and more recently of Chiara Corbella Petrillo.
Maria Cristina Cella Mocellin was born on 18 August 1969 in Cinisello Balsamo, in the province of Milan. She grew up in the parish, and during her high school years began her journey of vocational discernment in the community of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians of Don Bosco. When she met Carlo at 16, she changed her perspective and felt she was called to marriage. Two years after the discovery of a sarcoma in her left leg, the treatments and therapies did not distract her from finishing high school and marrying Carlo in 1991. The couple had two children, but as soon as Maria Cristina discovered she was pregnant with her third child, the disease reappeared.
She chose to continue with the pregnancy, undergoing treatment that would not put her child’s life at risk. In a letter she tells Riccardo, her third child, about those moments:
“With all my strength I resisted giving you up, so much so that the doctor already understood everything and did not add anything else. Riccardo, you are a gift for us. It was that evening, in the car on the way back from the hospital, that you moved for the first time. It seemed as if you were saying, “Thank you mamma for loving me!” And how could we not love you? You are precious, and when I look at you and see you so beautiful, lively, friendly, I think that there is no suffering in the world that is not worth bearing for a child.”
Maria Cristina died of cancer at the age of 26, certain of the Father’s love, faithful to Him in His plans.
Nine years after her death in Rome, the Church is recognising the heroic virtues of Enrica Beltrame Quattrocchi, the youngest daughter of Blessed Luigi Beltrame Quattrocchi and Maria Corsini, who died at the age of 98. Theirs was a family that lived a path of holiness, demonstrating, said John Paul II when he beatified the parents in 2001, that “it is possible, it is beautiful, it is extraordinarily fruitful and it is fundamental for the good of the family, the Church, and society.”
Enrica had intended to follow in the footsteps of her siblings, Don Tarcisio, Sister Cecilia, and Don Paolino, who pursued religious vocations; but her destiny was different, her vocation was to accompany her elderly parents. She was involved in volunteer work with the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul with whom she went to the most difficult areas of Rome; in Catholic Action together with her mother; and she devoted herself to teaching. From 1976 she was Superintendent of the Ministry for Cultural and Environmental Heritage.
Her life was marked by various illnesses and economic difficulties, but above all by prayer and daily participation in Mass. In her last years, she dedicated herself to helping couples in crisis. The love of God was her reason for living.
The most notable feature of Franciscan friar Placido Cortese was his ability to give himself completely. He was patient, simple, ever ready to take on difficult situations such as those that characterised the last years of his life. Born on 7 March 1907 in Cres (now in Croatia), he became a priest in 1930, served in St Anthony’s Basilica in Padua, and a few years later became editor of the magazine Il Messaggero di Sant’Antonio (“The Messenger of St Anthony”).
During the Second World War, on behalf of the Apostolic Nuncio in Italy, Archbishop (later Cardinal) Francesco Borgongini Duca, Fra Placido assisted Croatian and Slovenian internees in Italian concentration camps, especially in Chiesanuova, near Padua. After the armistice of 1943, he worked tirelessly to facilitate the escape of former Allied prisoners, as well as people persecuted by the Nazis, including Jews. This willingness was interpreted by the Germans as political activity and led to his death.
On 8 October 1944, through a ploy, he was lured out of the Basilica of St Anthony – which was an extra-territorial area and thus outside the jurisdiction of the occupying forces. He was taken to the SS barracks in Trieste where he died following the harsh torture he suffered.
By Vatican News staff reporter
Following Sunday’s Angelus, Pope Francis expressed his “closeness” to the people of the Venezuelan state of Merida, which has been struck by torrential rains and ensuing landslides.
The tragedy has left at least 17 people dead as a result of the disaster, and more than 20 others are missing. In Merida and neighbouring states, more than 8 thousand homes have been destroyed. Huge areas of western Venezuela are still being pounded by heavy rain, which could last as long as another ten days.
Ramon Guevara, the governor of Merida — which is suffering the brunt of the disaster —says swollen rivers have overflowed and burst their banks. A prominent member of the opposition Democratic Party, Guevara is urging that politics be set aside at this time of dire need. Venezuela’s president, Nicolas Maduro, is helping with the Governor’s appeal to establish a coordination centre in the nation’s capital of Caracas for the collection of fresh drinking water, non-perishable food, medical supplies, blankets and clothing, to be swiftly sent to areas where it is needed. Venezuela’s armed forces have been deployed to help emergency workers cope with the enormous scale of the still-unfolding disaster. Local or regional funds are insufficient to help with disaster relief and subsequent rebuilding. Instead, central funds and coffers will have to supply aid.
Television footage and photos from cellular phones show a chocolate-coloured lunar landscape, with one-time streets now raging torrents strewn with huge boulders, and houses flattened and swept aside, while others are upended, teetering on their sides. Debris can be seen swirling around like wisps of straw and soggy matchwood, with cars being carried along in the torrents like toys.
For now, the number one priority is the search for the missing, and it’s certain that the death toll will rise.
As the rains continue to fall and floodwaters rise ever higher, Pope Francis is interceding for the stricken people of Venezuela’s-stricken people: “I am praying for the deceased, their families, and for all those who are suffering as a result of this calamity.”
By Vatian News
The Holy See announced on Saturday that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Broome, Australia, presented by Bishop Christopher Alan Saunders, and has appointed Bishop Michael Henry Morrissey, bishop of Geraldton, as apostolic administrator sede vacante of the same diocese.
The Vatican also announced the appointment of the Reverend Fr Varghese Vinayanand, O.I.C., as apostolic administrator of the Syro-Malankarese Eparchy of Saint John Chrysostom of Gurgaon, India.
Father Vinayanand is a member of the Order of the Imitation of Christ, a clerical religious congregation of Pontifical Right. He succeeds Bishop Jacob Barnabas Chacko Aerath, O.I.C., who died of post-Covid-19 complications in a private hospital in New Delhi on Thursday.
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