Fr Hans Zollner Pope’s Child protection “expert”: NZ has made progress but still some challenges
16 August 2016 – New Zealand appeared to have made reasonable progress in its work to address sexual abuse within the church and to stop it happening in the future says Fr Hans Zollner. However he said there are still challenges to be faced such as unifying the church’s approach and dealing with complex migration issues.
Zollner, who has often been described as the Pope’s expert in the fight against child abuse, has just visited New Zealand for the first time. He is a German Jesuit priest and is president of the Centre for Child Protection at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University. He is also a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, set up by Pope Francis in 2014 with the single purpose of developing initiatives that could prevent future abuse within the church.
Zollner said there has to be a national, coherent and proactive approach. “I would hope [New Zealand] would overcome that parochial system, so that this diocese does that in this province and that order does that, but they don’t talk to each other.”
Another challenge he identified was the influx of people from different cultures who have a different way to talk about sexuality, a different way to evolve and to live with authority and power. While in New Zealand he held a safeguarding training day in Wellington for 85 people from all areas of the church, including Cardinal John Dew, the papal envoy and bishops. He also held a workshop in Auckland for those responsible for the formation of priests and religious
Zollner has seen the movie Spotlight, Hollywood’s take on The Boston Globe’s investigation into the city’s own Catholic abuse scandal, three times. He believes it a well-made film that is “very close to the facts” and of great benefit to not only the church but wider society.
Far from worrying about how the film would further damage the church’s reputation, he said it was more important that the world was aware of what had happened. “This is not my concern, it’s not my concern whether we recover [our reputation] or not, my concern is to do what we need to do and stay focused on this. For me this kind of work, what we do, should not be done so we recover our nice image, this is nothing important for the church. We need to focus on what we can do in cleaning up the mess that has been created over the years and doing whatever we can do in creating as safe environments as possible.”
“There’s some expectation that never again such abuse may happen. Of course it will happen and it happens in this minute inside the church and outside the church, because this is evil and we won’t be able to do away with evil, unfortunately.”
The Joy of Love (Amoris Laetitia) Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation
8 April 2016 – In a broad proclamation on family life, Pope Francis on Friday called for the Roman Catholic Church to be more welcoming and less judgmental, and he seemingly signaled a pastoral path for divorced and remarried Catholics to receive holy communion.
The 256-page document — known as an apostolic exhortation and titled “Amoris Laetitia,” Latin for “The Joy of Love” — calls for priests to welcome single parents, gay people and unmarried straight couples who are living together.
“A pastor cannot feel that it is enough to simply apply moral laws to those living in ‘irregular’ situations, as if they were stones to throw at people’s lives,” he wrote.
But Francis once again closed the door on same-sex marriage, saying it cannot be seen as the equivalent of heterosexual unions.
The document offers no new rules or marching orders, and from the outset Francis makes plain that no top-down edicts are coming.
Alluding to the diversity and complexity of a global church, Francis effectively pushes decision making downward to bishops and priests, stating that a different country or region “can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs.”
But Francis also makes clear the vision he wants local bishops and priests to follow: as a church that greets families with empathy and comfort rather than with unbending rules and rigid codes of conduct.
The scope of “Amoris Laetitia” is typical Francis: a broad-ranging blend of biblical passages, meditations on marital love, homespun advice on familial manners, passages bemoaning the frenetic loneliness of modern life and a call for families to come closer to the church, and vice versa.
He admits that the church has made mistakes in alienating families and dedicates many passages to describing the pressures brought on families by poverty, migration, drug abuse and violence.
Just as he used his environmental encyclical, “Laudato Si’,” to call on national governments to enact legislation to fight climate change, Francis now calls for governments to provide support for families in the form of health care, education and employment. He describes families as under siege by the pressures of modern life.
“In many cases, parents come home exhausted, not wanting to talk, and many families no longer even share a common meal,” Francis wrote. He described “severe stress” on families “who often seem more caught up with securing their future than with enjoying the present.”
“This is a broader cultural problem, aggravated by fears about steady employment, finances and the future of children,” he wrote.
Although Francis has earned a reputation as a reformer, some liberal Catholics may be disappointed. Many had hoped Francis might go further, perhaps by detailing health exceptions to the ban on contraception, expanding the roles for women in the church or prescribing a clear process that would permit Catholics who divorced and remarried outside the church to receive communion.
“It wasn’t as innovative as many had hoped,” said Lucetta Scaraffia, a scholar of Catholicism in Rome, adding, “The result is quite modest with respect to the investment and expectations that the world had.”
The document is likely to stir debate and disagreement among many Catholics, especially in interpreting the pope’s language explaining how priests should work with divorced and remarried Catholics to help them return to full standing in the church.
Francis convened two successive assemblies, or synods, of bishops from around the world to examine the challenges facing modern families.
Synods under Francis’ predecessors were relatively sleepy affairs, but Francis told the bishops he wanted them to speak their minds without holding back. And they did.
Both synods were contentious and, the
the participants said afterward, ultimately enlightening. The battle lines were basically drawn over what it means for the church to be pastoral and merciful in its approach to people who are not living in accord with the Christian ideal of the intact, nuclear family. How far should the church bend to respond to modern life or to bring people back?
Both synods concluded with final reports written by participating bishops, and Francis has drawn extensively on those reports in his exhortation.
Pope stresses divorced and remarried not excommunicated
7 August 2015 – Pope Francis has said divorced and civilly remarried Catholics are not excommunicated and must not be treated as if they were.
At his general audience on August 5, the Pope said such people are “still part of the Church”, even though “their unions are contrary to the sacrament of marriage. As these situations especially affect children, we are aware of a greater urgency to foster a true welcome for these families in our communities. For how can we encourage these parents to raise their children in the Christian life, to give them an example of Christian faith, if we keep them at arm’s length?” he asked. He stressed that his predecessors “have worked diligently to let these families know they are still a part of the Church”.
Acknowledging that “there is no easy solution for these situations”, he said: “We can and must always encourage these families to participate in the Church’s life, through prayer, listening to the Word of God, the Christian education of their children, and service to the poor.”
The Church is always looking with the “heart of a mother” to seek out the good for people, the Pope said.He also called on priests “to manifest openly and coherently the availability of the community” to welcome and encourage divorced and remarried persons. The Pope added: “May everyone, especially Christian families, imitate the Good Shepherd, who knows all his sheep and excludes no one from his infinite love.”
Quoting from his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”), the pontiff said: “The Church is called to always be the open house of the father.” “No closed doors,” he told the audience, repeating: “No closed doors!”
Pope appoints Msgr Burns to Caritas Internationalis
14 July 2015 – The Holy Father has nominated as Members of the Executive Board of Caritas Internationalis: Msgr Gerard Patrick Burns, President of Caritas Oceania, Lucas Van Looy, Bishop of Gent and President of Caritas Europe; Youssef Antoine Soueif, Archbishop of Cipro and President of Caritas Cipro.
Msgr Burns is the vicar general of the Archdiocese of Wellington.
Pope’s encyclical calls for new relationship with the earth
19 June 2015 – In a new encyclical, Pope Francis has acknowledged “very solid scientific consensus” that humans are causing climate change that is endangering the planet.
In Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home, released on June 18, Francis urged the world to embark upon a revolutionary ethical rethink and change of heart in its relationship with the earth. The encyclical letter also lambasted global political leaders for their “weak responses” to the issue. The document also shows a reorientation of the Church’s understanding of the human person, from a being that dominates to one that responsibly serves creation.
Human life, the Pope wrote, is grounded by three relationships – those between God, neighbour and earth. “We are not God,” he wrote. “The earth was here before us and it has been given to us.”
The encyclical rejects the belief that population control is the solution to environmental problems. It also cites abortion as part of the throwaway mentality that has damaged the planet.
The title Laudato Si’ comes from St. Francis of Assisi’s famous 13th-century prayer “The Canticle of the Creatures”. In English, it translates as “Be praised” or “Praised be”. The encyclical is addressed to every person on earth.
Among other main issues and themes touched upon by the letter:
- Environmental degradation causing lack of access to drinking water, loss of biodiversity, and decline in quality of human life;
- Global inequity that leaves billions experiencing “ecological debt”;
- The search for long-term solutions to replace fossil fuels and other unsustainable energy sources;
- Linking the ecological crisis with a global social crisis that leaves the poorest in the world behind and does not make them part of international decision-making;
- Changes in global lifestyle that could “bring healthy pressure to bear on those who wield political, economic and social power”.
The encyclical cites reports from bishops’ conferences around the world, including a 2006 document by New Zealand’s bishops.
The president of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, Cardinal John Dew, welcomed the encyclical, noting its emphases on urgency, life and hope.
Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand director Julianne Hickey said: “We welcome and accept the wero (challenge) [the Pope] gives to all of us to take urgent and radical action to protect our planet and its people.”
Pope hasn’t watched TV since 1990 after promise to Mary
29 May 2015 – Pope Francis has revealed that he hasn’t watched television since 1990, as a result of a promise he made to Our Lady of Mt Carmel.
In a long and personal interview in Argentinean newspaper La Voz del Pueblo, the Pope said that he made this promise on the night of July 15, 1990. “I told myself: ‘It’s not for me’,” Francis was reported as saying. He doesn’t use the Internet either. Instead, the Pope keeps up with the news by reading Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper for up to 10 minutes each day. Members of the Swiss Guard keep the Pope updated with soccer scores.
But Francis did mention the peril of being taken out of context himself by the media. Elsewhere in the interview, Pope Francis said he misses walking on city streets as he used to in Buenos Aires and going out for a pizza. “Ordering one in the Vatican is not the same thing.”
Pope Francis said that “being with people does me good”. He said that people understand him and comprehend what he wants to say. “Psychologically I can’t be far from people.” He also revealed that while he doesn’t cry in public, he has struggled to hold back tears at times.
One recent example of this came when he was talking about “the persecutions of Christians in Iraq and the fate of the children there”. He also stated that he is not a fan of protocol, but on official occasions he “keeps to it totally”. Francis also admitted his high workload and said “I am under pressure”. He had previously stated that he has not had a holiday since 1994.
The Pope usually goes to bed at 9pm, reads for an hour and sleeps until 4am. “It’s my biological clock,” he said. Asked how he would like to be remembered, Francis said: “As a person who has done his best to do good. I have no other claim.”
Women’s Church roles questioned at Rome conference
1 May 2015 – A conference in Rome has seen searching questions posed about unnecessary restrictions on women in the Catholic Church.
The Pontifical “Antonianum” University and four embassies to the Holy See sponsored the conference held on Tuesday. It came after Pope Francis’s invitation to seek a “more widespread and incisive female presence” in the Church.
According to Vatican Radio, the conference was a “no-holds barred conversation about the structures and mentalities which continue to impede that vision and limit the leadership roles of women in the Church today”.
Religious and lay women and men asked questions about why there are not more female professors and pastoral trainers in seminaries and universities? Other questions included: Why can’t a women head pontifical councils and congregations, preach a retreat to the Roman Curia or be included in the Pope’s council of closest advisors?If there is a unique “feminine genius”, as Pope John Paul liked to say, then why is it not being heard and included in the decision making process at both local and universal level, the Vatican Radio article continued.
Among the conference speakers was Sr Carol Keehan, CEO of the Catholic Healthcare Association of the United States. She is best known in the secular world for her support of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Sr Carol said the advancement of women is not about personal or feminist agendas. Rather, it is about enabling the Church to put the Gospel message into practice, in those places where it is needed most, she said. She said it is right to be more concerned about the woman who doesn’t have clean water for her children than about “our little bit of opportunity”. But if having a woman in a position of influence meant the Church could better serve the woman without water and her family, then “heaven and earth should be moved to get that woman in that job”.
Francis at the Mass with new cardinals: the way of the Church is that of mercy and inclusion
Vatican City, 15 February 2015 (VIS) – At 10 a.m. today Pope Francis presided at a Eucharistic celebration in the Vatican Basilica with the cardinals created in yesterday’s consistory, and with all the cardinals in Rome for the occasion.
In the homily he pronounced before the members of the College of Cardinals, in which he commented on the passage from the Gospel narrating the healing of the leper – marginalised, despised and abandoned for being “impure” – Francis insisted that the cardinals follow Jesus’ merciful logic and reminded them that the way of the Church is “not only to welcome and reinstate with evangelical courage all those who knock at our door, but to go out and seek, fearlessly and without prejudice, those who are distant, freely sharing what we ourselves freely received”.
‘Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean…’: Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out his hand and touched him, and said: ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’. The compassion of Jesus! That com-passion which made him draw near to every person in pain! Jesus does not hold back; instead, he gets involved in people’s pain and their need for the simple reason that he knows and wants to show com-passion, because he has a heart unashamed to have ‘compassion’.
“’Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed in the country; and people came to him from every quarter’. This means that Jesus not only healed the leper but also took upon himself the marginalisation enjoined by the law of Moses. Jesus is unafraid to risk sharing in the suffering of others; he pays the price of it in full.
“Compassion leads Jesus to concrete action: he reinstates the marginalised! These are the three key concepts that the Church proposes in today’s liturgy of the word: the compassion of Jesus in the face of marginalisation and his desire to reinstate.
“Marginalisation: Moses, in his legislation regarding lepers, says that they are to be kept alone and apart from the community for the duration of their illness. He declares them: ‘unclean!’.
“Imagine how much suffering and shame lepers must have felt: physically, socially, psychologically and spiritually! They are not only victims of disease, but they feel guilty about it, punished for their sins! Theirs is a living death; they are like someone whose father has spat in his face.
“In addition, lepers inspire fear, contempt and loathing, and so they are abandoned by their families, shunned by other persons, cast out by society. Indeed, society rejects them and forces them to live apart from the healthy. It excludes them. So much so that if a healthy person approached a leper, he would be punished severely, and often be treated as a leper himself.
“True, the purpose of this rule was ‘to safeguard the healthy’, ‘to protect the righteous’, and, in order to guard them from any risk, to eliminate the ‘peril’ by treating the diseased person harshly. As the high priest Caiaphas exclaimed: ‘It is better to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed’.
Reinstatement: Jesus revolutionises and upsets that fearful, narrow and prejudiced mentality. He does not abolish the law of Moses, but rather brings it to fulfilment. He does so by stating, for example, that the law of retaliation is counterproductive, that God is not pleased by a Sabbath observance which demeans or condemns a man. He does so by refusing to condemn the sinful woman, but saves her from the blind zeal of those prepared to stone her ruthlessly in the belief that they were applying the law of Moses. Jesus also revolutionises consciences in the Sermon on the Mount, opening new horizons for humanity and fully revealing God’s ‘logic’. The logic of love, based not on fear but on freedom and charity, on healthy zeal and the saving will of God. For ‘God our Saviour desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth’. ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice’.
“Jesus, the new Moses, wanted to heal the leper. He wanted to touch him and restore him to the community without being ‘hemmed in’ by prejudice, conformity to the prevailing mindset or worry about becoming infected. Jesus responds immediately to the leper’s plea, without waiting to study the situation and all its possible consequences! For Jesus, what matters above all is reaching out to save those far off, healing the wounds of the sick, restoring everyone to God’s family! And this is scandalous to some people!
“Jesus is not afraid of this kind of scandal! He does not think of the closed-minded who are scandalised even by a work of healing, scandalised before any kind of openness, by any action outside of their mental and spiritual limits, by any caress or sign of tenderness which does not fit into their usual thinking and their ritual purity. He wanted to reinstate the outcast, to save those outside the camp.
“There are two ways of thinking and of having faith: we can fear to lose the saved and we can want to save the lost. Even today it can happen that we stand at the crossroads of these two ways of thinking. The thinking of the doctors of the law, which would remove the danger by casting out the diseased person, and the thinking of God, who in his mercy embraces and accepts by reinstating him and turning evil into good, condemnation into salvation and exclusion into proclamation.
“These two ways of thinking are present throughout the Church’s history: casting off and reinstating. Saint Paul, following the Lord’s command to bring the Gospel message to the ends of the earth, caused scandal and met powerful resistance and great hostility, especially from those who demanded unconditional obedience to the Mosaic law, even on the part of converted pagans. Saint Peter, too, was harshly criticised by the community when he entered the house of the pagan centurion Cornelius.
“The Church’s way, from the time of the Council of Jerusalem, has always always been the way of Jesus, the way of mercy and reinstatement. This does not mean underestimating the dangers of letting wolves into the fold, but welcoming the repentant prodigal son; healing the wounds of sin with courage and determination; rolling up our sleeves and not standing by and watching passively the suffering of the world. The way of the Church is not to condemn anyone for eternity; to pour out the balm of God’s mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart. The way of the Church is precisely to leave her four walls behind and to go out in search of those who are distant, those essentially on the ‘outskirts’ of life. It is to adopt fully God’s own approach, to follow the Master who said: ‘Those who are well have no need of the physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call, not the righteous but sinners’.
“In healing the leper, Jesus does not harm the healthy. Rather, he frees them from fear. He does not endanger them, but gives them a brother. He does not devalue the law but instead values those for whom God gave the law. Indeed, Jesus frees the healthy from the temptation of the ‘older brother’, the burden of envy and the grumbling of the labourers who bore ‘the burden of the day and the heat’.
In a word: charity cannot be neutral, antiseptic, indifferent, lukewarm or impartial! Charity is infectious, it excites, it risks and it engages! For true charity is always unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous!. Charity is creative in finding the right words to speak to all those considered incurable and hence untouchable. Finding the right words. Contact is the language of genuine communication, the same endearing language which brought healing to the leper. How many healings can we perform if only we learn this language of contact! The leper, once cured, became a messenger of God’s love. The Gospel tells us that ‘he went out and began to proclaim it freely and to spread the word’.
Dear new Cardinals, this is the ‘logic’, the mind of Jesus, and this is the way of the Church. Not only to welcome and reinstate with evangelical courage all those who knock at our door, but to go out and seek, fearlessly and without prejudice, those who are distant, freely sharing what we ourselves freely received. ‘Whoever says: “I abide in [Christ]”, ought to walk just as he walked’. Total openness to serving others is our hallmark, it alone is our title of honour!
“Consider carefully that, in these days when you have become Cardinals, we have asked Mary, Mother of the Church, who herself experienced marginalisation as a result of slander and exile, to intercede for us so that we can be God’s faithful servants. May she – our Mother – teach us to be unafraid of tenderly welcoming the outcast; not to be afraid of tenderness. How often we fear tenderness! May Mary teach us not to be afraid of tenderness and compassion. May she clothe us in patience as we seek to accompany them on their journey, without seeking the benefits of worldly success. May she show us Jesus and help us to walk in his footsteps.
“Dear new Cardinals, my brothers, as we look to Jesus and our Mother, I urge you to serve the Church in such a way that Christians – edified by our witness – will not be tempted to turn to Jesus without turning to the outcast, to become a closed caste with nothing authentically ecclesial about it. I urge you to serve Jesus crucified in every person who is marginalised, for whatever reason; to see the Lord in every excluded person who is hungry, thirsty, naked; to see the Lord present even in those who have lost their faith, or turned away from the practice of their faith, or say that they are atheists; to see the Lord who is imprisoned, sick, unemployed, persecuted; to see the Lord in the leper – whether in body or soul – who encounters discrimination! We will not find the Lord unless we truly accept the marginalised! May we always have before us the image of St. Francis, who was unafraid to embrace the leper and to accept every kind of outcast. Truly, dear brothers, the Gospel of the marginalised is where our credibility is at stake, is discovered and is revealed!”.
Comparing Francis and Bennedict
3 February 2914
Pope Francis delivered another gesture this week destined to burnish his legend for both humility and reform, deciding that an annual Mass in which newly appointed archbishops from around the world receive their symbol of office will no longer be held in Rome, but in their home archdiocese. That event, called the Pallium Mass, traditionally was a highlight of the Roman summer.
Francis has now taken himself out of the equation, stipulating that the pallium, a woolen cloth symbolizing service, will be presented to each archbishop individually by the papal ambassador in his country.
Most people likely will see it as another way in which Francis is breaking with tradition, playing down the trappings of a royal court in the Vatican and emphasizing the importance of the local church. Those who paid careful attention during the Benedict XVI years probably would agree, expect for the “breaking with tradition” part. In truth, Francis’ latest reform is not a departure from Benedict, but yet another instance in which the two pontiffs seem to be singing from the same songbook.
One of Benedict’s own first decisions after he took office in 2005 was that he would no longer preside personally at beatification Masses, and that those services would no longer be held in Rome. (Beatification is the last step before sainthood, allowing someone to be called “Blessed.”) That choice, too, was about the importance of the local Church, since beatification authorizes veneration of a figure for a local community, while canonization is for the entire Church.
Benedict XVI was also sending a signal that the pope doesn’t have to be the center of attention — the same point Francis is making about the pallium. That’s just the tip of the iceberg in terms of continuity. Consider these other examples:
Climate change/the environment: As the world awaits Francis’ forthcoming encyclical letter on ecology, it’s worth remembering that Benedict XVI devoted so much attention to the environment that he was dubbed the “Green Pope.” Among other measures on his watch, the Vatican signed an agreement to become Europe’s first carbon-neutral state (albeit a tiny one) by replanting a stretch of Hungarian forest to offset its carbon use, and installing solar panels atop the Paul VI Audience Hall.
Pope announces names of new Cardinals
2015-01-04 Vatican Radio
(Vatican Radio) At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis announced the names of fifteen Archbishops and Bishops whom he will raise to the dignity of the Cardinalate on February 14, 2015. In addition, the Holy Father announced that five retired Archbishops and Bishops “distinguished for their pastoral charity in the service of the Holy See and of the Church” would also be made Cardinals.
Below, please find the complete text of the Pope’s announcement, with the names of all those set to be elevated to the Cardinalate:
“As was already announced, on February 14 next I will have the joy of holding a Concistory, during which I will name 15 new Cardinals who, coming from 14 countries from every continent, manifest the indissoluble links between the Church of Rome and the particular Churches present in the world.
“On Sunday February 15 I will preside at a solemn concelebration with the new Cardinals, while on February 12 and 13 I will hold a Consistory with all the Cardinals to reflect on the orientations and proposals for the reform of the Roman Curia.
“The new Cardinals are:
Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura
Archbishiop Manuel José Macario do Nascimento Clemente, Patriarch of Lisbon (Portugal)
Archbishop Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, C.M., of Addis Abeba (Ethiopia)
Archbishop John Atcherley Dew of Wellington (New Zealand)
Archbishop Edoardo Menichelli of Ancona-Osimo (Italy)
Archbishop Pierre Nguyên V?n Nhon of Hà Nôi (Viêt Nam)
Archbishop Alberto Suàrez Inda of Morelia (Mexico)
Archbishop Charles Maung Bo, S.D.B., of Yangon (Myanmar)
Archbishop Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij of Bangkok (Thailand)
Archbishop Francesco Montenegro of Agrigento (Italy)
Archbishop Daniel Fernando Sturla Berhouet, S.D.B., of Montevideo (Uruguay)
Archbishop Ricardo Blázquez Pérez of Vallodolid (Spain)
Bishop José Luis Lacunza Maestrojuán, O.A.R., of David (Panamá)
Bishop Arlindo Gomes Furtado, of Santiago de Cabo Verde (Archipelago of Cape Verde)
Bishop Soane Patita Paini Mafi of Tonga (Island of Tonga)
“Additionally, I will join to the Members of the College of Cardinals five Archbishops and Bishops Emeriti who are distinguished for their pastoral charity in the service of the Holy See and of the Church. They represent so many Bishops who, with the same pastoral solicitude, have given witness of love for Christ and for the people of God in particular Churches, in the Rome Curia, and in the Diplomatic Service of the Holy See.
José de Jesús Pimiento Rodriguez, Archbishop Emeritus of Manizales
Archbishop Luigi De Magistris, Major Pro-Penitentiary Emeritus
Archbishop Karl-Joseph Rauber, Apostolic Nuncio
Luis Héctor Villaba, Archbishop Emeritus of Tucumán
Júlio Duarte Langa, Bishop Emeritus of Xai-Xai
“Let us pray for the new Cardinals, that, renewed in their love for Christ, they might be witnesses of His Gospel in the City of Rome and in the world, and with their pastoral experience they might support me more intensely in my apostolic service.”
(from Vatican Radio)
Pope Francis: a Curia that is outdated, sclerotic or indifferent to others is an ailing body.
Vatican City, 22 December 2014
This morning in the Clementine Hall the Holy Father held his annual meeting with the Roman Curia to exchange Christmas greetings with the members of its component dicasteries, councils, offices, tribunals and commissions. “It is good to think of the Roman Curia as a small model of the Church, that is, a body that seeks, seriously and on a daily basis, to be more alive, healthier, more harmonious and more united in itself and with Christ”.
“The Curia is always required to better itself and to grow in communion, sanctity and wisdom to fully accomplish its mission. However, like any body, it is exposed to sickness, malfunction and infirmity. … I would like to mention some of these illnesses that we encounter most frequently in our life in the Curia. They are illnesses and temptations that weaken our service to the Lord”, continued the Pontiff, who after inviting all those present to an examination of conscience to prepare themselves for Christmas, listed the most common Curial ailments:
The first is “the sickness of considering oneself ‘immortal’, ‘immune’ or ‘indispensable’, neglecting the necessary and habitual controls. A Curia that is not self-critical, that does not stay up-to-date, that does not seek to better itself, is an ailing body. … It is the sickness of the rich fool who thinks he will live for all eternity, and of those who transform themselves into masters and believe themselves superior to others, rather than at their service”.
The second is “’Martha-ism’, or excessive industriousness; the sickness of those who immerse themselves in work, inevitably neglecting ‘the better part’ of sitting at Jesus’ feet. Therefore, Jesus required his disciples to rest a little, as neglecting the necessary rest leads to stress and agitation. Rest, once one who has brought his or her mission to a close, is a necessary duty and must be taken seriously: in spending a little time with relatives and respecting the holidays as a time for spiritual and physical replenishment, it is necessary to learn the teaching of Ecclesiastes, that ‘there is a time for everything’”.
Then there is “the sickness of mental and spiritual hardening: that of those who, along the way, lose their inner serenity, vivacity and boldness and conceal themselves behind paper, becoming working machines rather than men of God. … It is dangerous to lose the human sensibility necessary to be able to weep with those who weep and to rejoice with those who rejoice! It is the sickness of those who lose those sentiments that were present in Jesus Christ”.
“The ailment of excessive planning and functionalism: this is when the apostle plans everything in detail and believes that, by perfect planning things effectively progress, thus becoming a sort of accountant. … One falls prey to this sickness because it is easier and more convenient to settle into static and unchanging positions. Indeed, the Church shows herself to be faithful to the Holy Spirit to the extent that she does not seek to regulate or domesticate it. The Spirit is freshness, imagination and innovation”.
The “sickness of poor coordination develops when the communion between members is lost, and the body loses its harmonious functionality and its temperance, becoming an orchestra of cacophony because the members do not collaborate and do not work with a spirit of communion or as a team”.
“Spiritual Alzheimer’s disease, or rather forgetfulness of the history of Salvation, of the personal history with the Lord, of the ‘first love’: this is a progressive decline of spiritual faculties, that over a period of time causes serious handicaps, making one incapable of carrying out certain activities autonomously, living in a state of absolute dependence on one’s own often imaginary views. We see this is those who have lost their recollection of their encounter with the Lord … in those who build walls around themselves and who increasingly transform into slaves to the idols they have sculpted with their own hands”.
“The ailment of rivalry and vainglory: when appearances, the colour of one’s robes, insignia and honours become the most important aim in life. … It is the disorder that leads us to become false men and women, living a false ‘mysticism’ and a false ‘quietism’”.
Then there is “existential schizophrenia: the sickness of those who live a double life, fruit of the hypocrisy typical of the mediocre and the progressive spiritual emptiness that cannot be filled by degrees or academic honours. This ailment particularly afflicts those who, abandoning pastoral service, limit themselves to bureaucratic matters, thus losing contact with reality and with real people. They create a parallel world of their own, where they set aside everything they teach with severity to others and live a hidden, often dissolute life”.
The sickness of “chatter, grumbling and gossip: this is a serious illness that begins simply, often just in the form of having a chat, and takes people over, turning them into sowers of discord, like Satan, and in many cases cold-blooded murderers of the reputations of their colleagues and brethren. It is the sickness of the cowardly who, not having the courage to speak directly to the people involved, instead speak behind their backs”.
“The sickness of deifying leaders is typical of those who court their superiors, with the hope of receiving their benevolence. They are victims of careerism and opportunism, honouring people rather than God. They are people who experience service thinking only of what they might obtain and not of what they should give. They are mean, unhappy and inspired only by their fatal selfishness”.
“The disease of indifference towards others arises when each person thinks only of himself, and loses the sincerity and warmth of personal relationships. When the most expert does not put his knowledge to the service of less expert colleagues; when out of jealousy … one experiences joy in seeing another person instead of lifting him up or encouraging him”.
“The illness of the funereal face: or rather, that of the gruff and the grim, those who believe that in order to be serious it is necessary to paint their faces with melancholy and severity, and to treat others – especially those they consider inferior – with rigidity, hardness and arrogance. In reality, theatrical severity and sterile pessimism are often symptoms of fear and insecurity”.
“The disease of accumulation: when the apostle seeks to fill an existential emptiness of the heart by accumulating material goods, not out of necessity but simply to feel secure. … Accumulation only burdens and inexorably slows down our progress”.
“The ailment of closed circles: when belonging to a group becomes stronger than belonging to the Body and, in some situations, to Christ Himself. This sickness too may start from good intentions but, as time passes, enslaves members and becomes a ‘cancer’ that threatens the harmony of the Body and causes a great deal of harm – scandals – especially to our littlest brothers”.
Then, there is the “disease of worldly profit and exhibitionism: when the apostle transforms his service into power, and his power into goods to obtain worldly profits or more power. This is the disease of those who seek insatiably to multiply their power and are therefore capable of slandering, defaming and discrediting others, even in newspapers and magazines, naturally in order to brag and to show they are more capable than others”.
After listing these ailments, Pope Francis continued, “We are therefore required, at this Christmas time and in all the time of our service and our existence – to live ‘speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love’”.
“I once read that priests are like aeroplanes: they only make the news when they crash, but there are many that fly. Many criticise them and few pray for them”, he concluded. “It is a very nice phrase, but also very true, as it expresses the importance and the delicacy of our priestly service, and how much harm just one priest who falls may cause to the whole body of the Church”.
New Zealand and Oceania don’t know if they love Pope Francis
16 December 2014
Oceania, New Zealand and Australia do not feature in the ‘global’ research of Pope Francis’ popularity.
The Pew Research Centre global survey, released Friday, however shows most of the rest of the world seems to love him. A charmer of global opinion since he was elected pontiff last year, he has championed causes such as modern slavery, human trafficking, rights of migrants and economic justice. Most recently he said the Catholic Church must find ways of welcoming divorced and remarried couples, and homosexuals.
On Friday, at morning Mass, Francis told the congregation that God was like a mother, he loves us unconditionally, saying, God is not into spiritual book-keeping.
The goodwill the Holy Father enjoys is felt most in Europe, where he enjoys an 84% favourable rating. Francis, recently described Europe as “haggard”, like a tired “grandmother” and called on it to recover its founding values, in part built on its Christian legacy.
He is least favoured in the Middle-East where the Pew global study rated him with only a 24% favourable and 25% unfavourable rating. 41% in the Middle-East gave him no rating.
The Pew global study interviewed more than 40,000 people in 43 countries and the Holy Father achieved a 60% median favourable rating in the surveyed countries. The global research reached down as far as Indonesia in the antipodes where Francis attained 31% favourable and only 12% unfavourable ratings. 57% gave him no rating.
Pope Francis’ received most “no rating” in Indonesia, India (61%), Malaysia (76%), Pakistan (85%), Palestine territory (63%), Turkey (54%), Tunisia (71%), Senegal (55%) and South Africa (52%).
Dignity not Charity demands Pope Francis
Tuesday November 25th, 2014
Pope Francis is demanding dignity, not charity, for the world’s poor and hungry.
His comments came on Friday at a UN conference on nutrition hosted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. The Pontiff condemned speculation in food commodities and greed, saying they undermined the global fight against poverty and hunger. “It is also painful to see that the struggle against hunger and malnutrition is hindered by market priorities, the primacy of profit, which have reduced foodstuffs to a commodity like any other, subject to speculation, also of a financial nature”, Pope Francis told delegates from over 170 countries.
The Holy Father told delegates that a fairer distribution of food “cannot remain in the limbo of theory”. Calling on rich nations to share their wealth and denounce waste, excessive consumption and unequal food distribution, the Holy Father highlighted the “paradox of plenty”; where enough food is produced globally for everyone, but not enough for all to eat. “The hungry remain at the street corner and ask to be recognised as citizens, to receive a healthy diet. We ask for dignity, not for charity”.
Synod document signals dramatic shift on gay people
Tuesday October 14th, 2014
A Vatican document released at the halfway point of the synod on the family shows a dramatic shift in the Church’s language about homosexual people.
The relatio post disceptationem is a summary of the discussions held at the synod so far. It was read out in the presence of Pope Francis and the synod delegates on Monday morning. It stated the Church should challenge itself to find a “fraternal space” for homosexuals without compromising Catholic doctrine on family and marriage.
The document also noted that gay Catholics’ orientation should be valued and that they have “gifts and qualities” to offer parishes. While there are “moral problems” with homosexual unions, “there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners”. But the text noted that same-sex marriage cannot be considered to be on the same footing as marriage between a man and a woman.
Senior Vatican commentator John Thavis called the document “an earthquake” in the Church’s attitude towards gay people. “The document clearly reflects Pope Francis’ desire to adopt a more merciful pastoral approach on marriage and family issues,” he said.
The text called for the Church to recognise the “seeds of the Word that have spread beyond its visible and sacramental boundaries” to cohabiting couples, civil marriages and to Catholics who are divorced and remarried. It acknowledged disagreements between synod members over Communion for divorced and civilly remarried people and called for greater study of the issue.
Through the rest of this week the synod members are to meet in small groups, divided by language, to discuss and edit this document with a view to creating a final document for the synod for submission to Francis.
That final document is expected to be released to the public and to be used as a type of blue-print for another synod in 2015, which will deliver a final report to the Pope.
Pope presides at weddings for 20 couples and gives advice
Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
Pope Francis has presided over the marriages of 20 couples in St Peter’s Basilica, the first weddings he has officiated at as Pontiff. Several of the couples already had children and some had been living together before being married. It was a rare act for a Pope, with the last time a pontiff presided at a marriage being St John Paul II, who officiated at the weddings of 16 people at a Mass to mark the Jubilee for Families in October 2000.
On Sunday, Francis took each couple through their vows in turn – including Gabriella Improta and Guido Tassara, who already had children and thought such a marriage would be impossible, Vatican Radio reported. The diocese of Rome had earlier stated: “The people getting married on Sunday are couples like many others. Some already live together, some already have children.” The couples had been selected by the diocese of Rome as a realistic sample of modern Catholic couples. Last year, Pope Francis told priests from the diocese of Rome they should welcome couples that live together, and should accompany them, while not denying God’s truth in its fullness.
On Sunday, the Pope told the couples that marriage is “not a television show” but a symbol of “real life” with “joys and difficulties”. Marriage, the Pope said, is about “man and woman walking together, wherein the husband helps his wife to become ever more a woman, and wherein the woman has the task of helping her husband to become ever more a man”. “Here we see the reciprocity of differences,” he said. The path is not always smooth for married couples, the Pope continued, nor is it “free of disagreements”.
“If it were, it would not be human.” Rather, “it is a demanding journey, at times difficult, and at times turbulent, but such is life”! But “families are the first place in which we are formed as persons and, at the same time, the ‘bricks’ for the building up of society”, the Pope said.If married couples entrust themselves to Jesus, who has come not to condemn but to save them, he “will bring them healing by the merciful love which pours forth from the Cross, with the strength of his grace that renews and sets married couples and families once again on the right path”.
Pope Francis tells Christians to memorise the beatitudes
Christians should memorise the beatitudes which Jesus taught as the path to true happiness, Pope Francis has said.
Speaking at his weekly audience at the Vatican on August 6, the Pope linked the beatitudes, the Ten Commandments and the Last Judgement.
Some 6000 people heard the Pope tell them he was so serious about Christians knowing Matthew 5:3-12, that he would read each beatitude out loud and then have them repeat it.
But one repetition of the text is not enough to “remember them and impress them on our hearts”, the Pope said.
So he gave the crowd “homework”, asking them to spend time in the coming days reading the text again, from the Bible “you always should have with you”.
The beatitudes are “the path God indicates as his response to the desire for happiness present in each person and the perfection of the (Ten) Commandments”, Francis explained.
But more than this, they are “a portrait of Jesus and his way of life”.
But learning the beatitudes wasn’t the only homework task the Pope handed out.
Alongside reading the fifth chapter of Matthew, Francis requested the crowd also study the Last Judgement in Matthew 25.
In addition to showing people the path to true happiness, the Pope said, Jesus gave “us the protocol according to which we will be judged”.
No one, he said, is so important or has done so many other virtuous things that he or she can escape being asked the questions in Matthew 25.
“The Lord will recognise us if we have recognised his face in the face of the hungry, the poor, the marginalised, the sick and the lonely.
“These are fundamental criteria for verifying our Christian life,” Francis continued.
The Pope said he uses the beatitudes and the questions from the Last Judgement in his own reflection on his actions at the end of each day.
He recommended this “simple” practice to others.
Living according to the beatitudes and the criteria listed in Matthew 25, he said, should fill each Christian with joy because together “they make our Christian life a beautiful and credible witness to the love of God for all the brothers and sisters we meet each day”.