Thursday, 27 February 2014


Vatican City, 27 February 2014 (VIS) – This morning, in the Sala Bologna of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis presided over a meeting of the Congregation for Bishops, whose prefect is Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., and gave an address to those present regarding the mission of this congregation and the criteria that should determine the selection of a bishop, as well as the characteristics he should embody and his task in relation to the faithful entrusted to him. The Holy Father concluded by urging greater attention in scouring the fields in search of suitable pastors for this ministry, with the certainty that Christ never abandons His Church.

Extensive extracts are published below:

1. The essential mission of the Congregation
"In celebration of the ordination of a bishop the Church gathered together, after the invocation of the Holy Spirit, asks for the presented candidate to be ordained. He who presides then asks, “Do you have the mandate?”. ... This Congregation exists tohelp write this mandate, which then resonates in many Churches and brings joy and hope to the Holy People of God. This Congregation exists to ensure that the name chosen has first of all been pronounced by the Lord. ... The Holy People of God continues to speak: ...we need someone who looks upon us with the breadth of heart of God; we do not need a manager, a company administrator. ... We need someone who knows how to raise himself to the height of God's gaze above us in order to guide us towards Him. ... We must not lose sight of the needs of the particular Churches, for whom we must always provide. There does not exist a standard Pastor for all Churches. ... Our challenge is to enter into Christ's view, taking into account the singularity of the particular Churches”.

2. God's horizon determines the mission of the Congregation
"To choose such ministers we too need to elevate ourselves, to rise to the 'upper level'. We must rise above and overcome any eventual preferences, sympathies, provenances or tendencies to arrive at God's broad horizon. ... We do not need men conditioned by fear from below, but Pastors endowed with parresia, capable of ensuring that in the world there is a sacrament of unity, and therefore humanity is not destined to abandonment and helplessness. ... In approving the appointment of each bishop I would like to be able to feel the authority of your discernment and the greatness of the horizons according to which you arrive at your counsel. Therefore, the spirit that presides over your work cannot be other than that humble, silent and laborious process carried out by the light that comes from above. Professionalism, service and holiness of life: if we turn away from these three virtues we fall from the greatness to which we are called”.

3. The Apostolic Church as a wellspring
"The height of the Church is always found in the depths of its foundations. ... The future of the Church always lives in its origins. ... We know that the College of Bishops, which the bishops enter by the Sacrament, succeeds the Apostolic College. The world needs to be aware that this sequence is uninterrupted. ... People already know through suffering the experience of many ruptures: they need to find that there remains in the Church the grace of her origins".

4. The bishop as a witness to the Risen Christ
"Let us consider ... the moment at which the Apostolic Church must recompose the College of the Twelve after the betrayal of Judas. Without the Twelve the fullness of the Spirit can not descend. We must find a successor among those who have followed from the beginning the journey of Jesus and who now can be,'along with the Twelve' a 'witness of the resurrection". We must choose from the followers of Jesus those who will be witnesses of the Risen Christ. ... Also for us, this is the unifying criterion: the bishop is he who is able to make current all that befell Jesus and above all, who knows, along with the Church, how to bear witness to His Resurrection. ... Not an isolated witness, but together with the Church. ... I would like to emphasise that renouncement and sacrifice is inherent to the episcopal mission. The episcopate is not for oneself, it is for the Church ... for others , especially for those who according to the world should be excluded. ... Therefore, to identify a bishop, it is not necessary to list his human, intellectual cultural or even pastoral skills. ... Certainly, there is a need for someone who excels; whose human integrity ensures a capacity for healthy relationships ... so as not to project his shortcomings onto others and to become a destabilising factor ... his cultural preparation must enable him to enter into dialogue with men and their cultures; his orthodoxy and faithfulness to the complete Truth held by the Church makes him a pillar and a point of reference ... his transparency and detachment when managing community assets must confer authority and merit the esteem of all”.
“All these indispensable skills must be, however, in support of his central witness to the Risen Christ, and must be subordinate to this central commitment.

5. The sovereignty of God, responsible for the decision.
"Let us return to the apostolic text. After the tiring task of discernment, the Apostles pray ... We cannot elude that 'Show us, Lord.' The decisions can not be conditioned by our claims, for any groups, cliques or hegemonies. To guarantee this sovereignty two attitudes are fundamental: conscience before God, and collegiality ... Not discretion, but the discernment of all. No one can have everything on hand, each person must humbly and honestly add his tile to a mosaic which belongs to God”.

6. “Kerygmatic” bishops
"Since faith comes from proclamation we need kerygmatic bishops. ... Men who are guardians of doctrine, not so as as to measure how far the world is from doctrinal truth, but in order to fascinate the world ... with the beauty of love, with the freedom offered by the Gospel. The Church does not need apologists for her causes or crusaders for her battles, but humble and trusting sowers of the truth, who know that it is always given to them anew and trust in its power. Men who are patient men as they know that the weeds will never fill the field".

7. Praying bishops
"I have spoken of kerygmatic bishops; now I will move on to the other trait typical of the bishop: he must be a man of prayer. The same parresia he must have in the proclamation of the Word, must be present in his prayer, in speaking with God our Lord of the good of his people, the salvation of his people. ... A man who does not have the courage to argue with God on behalf of his people can not be a bishop, nor can he who is not able to assume the mission of guiding the people of God to where He, the Lord, indicates. ... And this also applies to apostolic patience ... the bishop must be able to 'go with patience' before God ... finding and letting himself be found".

8. Bishop-Pastors
"May bishops be shepherds, close to the people; 'fathers and brothers, may they be gentle, patient and merciful; may they love poverty, interior poverty, as freedom for the Lord, and exterior poverty, as well as simplicity and a modest lifestyle; may they not have the mindset of “princes”'. Be careful that they are not ambitious, that they are not in quest of the episcopate', that they are espoused to the Church, without constantly seeking another; this is called adultery. May they be overseers of the flock that has been entrusted to them, to take care of everything that is needed to keep it united. ... I wish to emphasise again that the Church needs genuine Pastors ... look at the testament of the Apostle Paul. ... He speaks directly to us. He commits the pastors of the Church 'to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance'. Therefore, not masters of the Word, but committed to it, servants of the Word. Only in this way is it possible to edify and obtain the inheritance of the saints. To those who are plagued with questions about their legacy: 'What is the legacy of a bishop, gold or silver?', Paul answers, 'Holiness'. The Church remains when God's holiness spreads to her members. ... Vatican Council II states that the 'pastoral office or the habitual and daily care of their sheep is entrusted” completely to bishops. In our times, regularity and the everyday are often associated with routine and boredom. Therefore we often try to escape to a permanent 'elsewhere'. Unfortunately even in the Church we are not exempt from this risk. I think that in this time of meetings and congresses the decree of the Council of Trent is very current, and it would be good for the Congregation for Bishops to write something about this. ... The flock needs to find a place in the heart of its Pastor. If this is not solidly anchored in itself, in Christ and His Church, the bishop will continually be at the mercy of the waves, in search of ephemeral compensations, and will offer no shelter to his flock".

"At the end of these words, I wonder: where can we find such men? ... It is not easy. ... I think of the prophet Samuel in search of Saul's successor, who, knowing that little David was outside in the field grazing the sheep, demands 'Send for him'. We too must search among the fields of the Church for men to present to the Lord, in order that he say 'Rise and anoint him; this is the one'. I am sure that they are there, since the Lord does not abandon his Church. Perhaps we are not seeking well enought in the fields. Perhaps we need to heed Samuel 's warning: 'We will not sit down until he arrives'. I would like this Congregation to live in this state of this holy restlessness”.

Vatican theologians recognize miracle attributed to Paul VI

VATICAN CITY, February 24  .- The consulting theologians of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints have approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Venerable Pope Paul VI, moving him closer to sainthood.

Vatican Insider’s Andrea Tornielli reported Feb. 21 that earlier that week, the congregation’s theological experts had unanimously recognized the healing of an unborn child through the intercession of the late Roman Pontiff.

In the mid-1990s in California, the then-unborn child was found to have a serious problem with a high risk of brain damage. Physicians advised that the child be aborted, but the mother entrusted her pregnancy to Paul VI.

The child was born without problems, and now that he is an adolescent and remains healthy, he is regarded as having been completely healed.

The healing had already been announced as medically inexplicable by the medical commission of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

A miracle must be approved by both the members of the congregation and Pope Francis in order for Pope Paul VI to be beatified – the last step in the canonization process prior to being named a saint.

Paul VI’s canonization cause was opened in 1993, and in December 2012, then-Pope Benedict XVI signed a decree recognizing his predecessor’s “heroic virtue,” bestowing on him the title “Venerable.” This title means the individual has practiced outstanding faith, hope, and charity, as well as extraordinary virtuous actions with readiness over a period of time.

Paul VI was born Giovanni Montini in 1897, and was ordained a priest at the unusually young age of 22. He served as Archbishop of Milan before he was elected Pope in 1963.

As Pope, he oversaw much of the Second Vatican Council, which had been opened by Bl. John XXIII, and he promulgated a new Roman Missal in 1969. The year before, he published an apostolic constitution reforming the Roman Curia.

He published the encyclical “Humanae vitae” in 1968, which reaffirmed the Church’s teaching against contraception, as well as firm affirmation of the merits of priestly celibacy.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI: Theories surrounding resignation are 'absurd' .

Vatican Radio) The Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI has lamented what he calls “absurd speculations” about his resignation in a letter to Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli, of the newspaper La Stampa. The Pope-emeritus was responding to a question about recent newspaper theories surrounding the validity of his resignation one year ago. 
“There is absolutely no doubt regarding the validity of my resignation from the Petrine ministry,” Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI wrote. He said the only condition for the validity of his resignation was the complete freedom of his decision. He called speculation regarding its validity “simply absurd.”

He also clarified he continued to wear the white cassock and kept the name Benedict for “purely practical reasons,” noting that at the moment of his resignation there were no other clothes available. 

In any case, he added that he wears the white cassock in a visibly different way to how the reigning Pope wears it. He called questions about his attire another case of “completely unfounded speculation”.

The Pope-emeritus also confirmed the accuracy of media reports about another letter he wrote to a friend. In that letter, he said he is “grateful to be bound by a great identity of views and a heartfelt friendship with Pope Francis”, and sees his “last and final job to support his pontificate with prayer.”

Listen to the report by Charles CollinsRealAudioMP3 

Text from page 


Holy Father Appoints new Bishop of Derry

Pope Francis on Tuesday appointed Bishop Donal McKeown, Auxiliary Bishop of Down and Connor, as Bishop of Derry in Ireland.

Donal McKeown was born on 12 April 1950 and brought up in Randalstown, Co Antrim, the first of four children.

Since his father, James McKeown, was one of thirteen children – only one of whom left the area – and his mother was the eldest of eight, Bishop McKeown grew up in a large extended family, where community and culture were intertwined. Both he and his father played Gaelic football and hurling.

McKeown studied at Queen’s University, Belfast, while staying in the diocesan seminary at Saint Malachy’s College. He graduated from QUB with an honours degree in German and Italian. He then undertook five years study of philosophy and theology in Rome at the Gregorian Pontifical University, being ordained a priest for the Diocese of Down and Connor by Bishop William Philbin in Randalstown in 1977.

His first appointment in Down and Connor, was to the teaching staff of Saint Patrick’s College in East Belfast, as well as assisting in the parish of Derriaghy. In 1983, he was transferred to the staff of Saint MacNissi’s College, his old alma mater, and in addition was given responsibility for organising the annual diocesan pilgrimage to Lourdes.

In 1987, Bishop Cahal Daly, then Bishop of Down and Connor, moved him to Saint Malachy’s College, Belfast, where he taught and served as Dean of Saint Joseph’s Junior Seminary – traditionally known as ‘The Wing’. In 1994, Father McKeown was appointed President of Saint Malachy’s College and during his time there obtained his MBA in Educational Management from the University of Leicester. In 2001, Father McKeown was appointed as Auxiliary Bishop in the Diocese of Down and Connor.

Bishop McKeown’s responsibilities as a member of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference have included: the promotion of Catholic education, youth ministry, university chaplaincies and the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. His interest includes the interface between faith and the empirical sciences and work with Catholic schools in Norway, Denmark, Lithuania, Poland and Germany. He is fluent in Irish, Italian and German.

Bishop McKeown has always had a keen interest in promoting the good news of the gospel in the media. From 1971 - 1973, he was Belfast correspondent for the German Catholic news agency, KNA. While in Rome he did some media work with Vatican Radio and, as part of a team, developed reports in the Irish language for RTE’s An Saol Mór. Bishop McKeown is a regular contributor, both north and south, to radio and television as well as having opinion articles published in newspapers and periodicals.

A life-long sports enthusiast, Bishop McKeown has completed two Belfast marathons. He continues to take part in a relay team for the annual marathon in the city.
5Text from page

Tuesday, 25 February 2014


Vatican City, 25 February 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis has written a letter to families asking them to pray for the next Synod of Bishops, which will be celebrated in the Vatican in October, and the theme of which will be “The pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelisation”. The letter, dated 2 February, Feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, is published in full below:

“Dear families,
With this letter, I wish, as it were, to come into your homes to speak about an event which will take place at the Vatican this coming October. It is the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which is being convened to discuss the theme of “pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelization”. Indeed, in our day the Church is called to proclaim the Gospel by confronting the new and urgent pastoral needs facing the family.

This important meeting will involve all the People of God – bishops, priests, consecrated men and women, and lay faithful of the particular Churches of the entire world – all of whom are actively participating in preparations for the meeting through practical suggestions and the crucial support of prayer. Such support on your part, dear families, is especially significant and more necessary than ever. This Synodal Assembly is dedicated in a special way to you, to your vocation and mission in the Church and in society; to the challenges of marriage, of family life, of the education of children; and the role of the family in the life of the Church. I ask you, therefore, to pray intensely to the Holy Spirit, so that the Spirit may illumine the Synodal Fathers and guide them in their important task. As you know, this Extraordinary Synodal Assembly will be followed a year later by the Ordinary Assembly, which will also have the family as its theme. In that context, there will also be the World Meeting of Families due to take place in Philadelphia in September 2015. May we all, then, pray together so that through these events the Church will undertake a true journey of discernment and adopt the necessary pastoral means to help families face their present challenges with the light and strength that comes from the Gospel.

I am writing this letter to you on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. The evangelist Luke tells us that the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph, in keeping with the Law of Moses, took the Baby Jesus to the temple to offer him to the Lord, and that an elderly man and woman, Simeon and Anna, moved by the Holy Spirit, went to meet them and acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah. Simeon took him in his arms and thanked God that he had finally 'seen' salvation. Anna, despite her advanced age, found new vigour and began to speak to everyone about the Baby. It is a beautiful image: two young parents and two elderly people, brought together by Jesus. He is the one who brings together and unites generations! He is the inexhaustible font of that love which overcomes every occasion of self-absorption, solitude, and sadness. In your journey as a family, you share so many beautiful moments: meals, rest, housework, leisure, prayer, trips and pilgrimages, and times of mutual support… Nevertheless, if there is no love then there is no joy, and authentic love comes to us from Jesus. He offers us his word, which illuminates our path; he gives us the Bread of life which sustains us on our journey.

Dear families, your prayer for the Synod of Bishops will be a precious treasure which enriches the Church. I thank you, and I ask you to pray also for me, so that I may serve the People of God in truth and in love. May the protection of the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph always accompany all of you and help you to walk united in love and in caring for one another. I willingly invoke on every family the blessing of the Lord.”

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin's Homily at Divine Mercy Conference in Dublin


Feast of the Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle

Homily Notes of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin

RDS, Dublin, 22nd February 2014

     “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  That is the question that we heard Jesus put to his disciples in the Gospel.  It is a question that is also put to us today.  The question of ‘who Jesus is’ is the question that men and women have put to themselves, over the centuries, since Jesus first asked the question.  It is a fundamental question about faith, about the Church and about being a Christian means. 

Then as today, the question elicits many different answers.  Many people today will say that they believe in Jesus Christ, but not in the Church or any institution.   Many will say that they are Christians, but when you examine what they say, they are talking about their own version of being a Christian.  Can we have a pick and choose version of Christianity?  What are the essentials of being a Christian?   What does Jesus mean to the young people of our city and our country?  Why do so many young people have a very vague idea of who Jesus really is and what it means to be a Christian?

          These are the vital questions about the future of Christianity in Ireland.  The debates about the place of the Church in social and political life – no matter how important they are - all fall back to this fundamental question about who Jesus really is.  The place of the Church in Irish society is not determined by political reflection or media comment, but on how we live out the faith that has been entrusted to us and how our lives witness to the significance of the  person and the message of Jesus Christ for the world in which we live.

          The question begins with us.  There is little point in bemoaning the loss of the Christian identity of others; there is little point in pointing the finger at those who seem to disagree even with essential ideas of the Christian faith, if we ourselves are not convincingly witnessing to the person of Jesus Christ through the way we live.

Each of us must ask ourselves – is it possible that men and women and young people of today reject Jesus and reject the Church because of the way we live and because of the way we fail to witness authentically to Jesus Christ?  Are our lives as individuals and as a Church partly responsible for the fact that others are disillusioned with the Church?  Pope Francis, albeit in another context, warned Christians not, through their own lives, to: “permanently immunise people from the Church”.

          “Who do people say that I am?”  Jesus puts the question twice in the Gospel.  He asks first who do people say that I am?  We see the variety of answers that the disciples present to Jesus. The conclusion is, however, that “the people” get it wrong.  They ask the question, but they fail to get the correct answer.

It is only with the second question that the identity of Jesus emerges, when he asks his disciples: who do you say that I am?   Often in the Gospel, Jesus poses a question to the crowd, to people in general, and then to those who have established a bond and a relationship with him.   Jesus then uses the different answers to point to the radical nature of his identity, which can only be discovered within the context of a community of faith.  Finding the answer to questions about the identity of Jesus is not like responding to the question of a quiz Show.  It is not about information and memory:  it can only be answered when we enter into a living relationship with Jesus.  Only then do we know who Jesus really is.

But let us not be too critical of the crowd who get it wrong.   Let us look more closely at their answers.   They do not get it right, but they are not completely off the point.  They do not answer that Jesus is a politician, or a pop star or a fascinating personality.    The answers all refer to biblical figures and all of these biblical figures are figures who, in their way and in their own times, pointed – under God’s inspiration - the way to Jesus.

Many people today, who may not recognise or understand Jesus, are people who are searching; people who are looking for pointers to direct them to Jesus.  Many may yet be fearful of making the challenging step of fully opening their hearts to the salvation that comes from Jesus Christ.  In our lives, in our witness and in our evangelization we must reach out to them in those moments in their lives which indicate a real search for the meaning of life, even if the answers they chose are the wrong ones or only partial answers. 

Jesus asks his own disciples who they think He is.  Simon Peter, as is his character, rushes in and answers: “You are the Christ, the son of the living God”.   He answers with an answer of faith.   Jesus recognises this gesture of faith and tells Peter that he is blessed and happy that he can do this.  But he immediately stresses that Peter can make this affirmation not because this is something that comes from himself, but it comes through the word of the Father.  

Faith is a gift and that gift comes to us when we open our hearts to God, not on our own terms, but in the way God revealed himself in Jesus Christ, as a God who loves us and who never fails to love us in whatever situation we live.  Faith is a path founded in love.   Faith is never just a framework of ideas that we establish for ourselves or around which we set up boundaries and make judgements on others.  God is a God of mercy.  God is a God who created us in love and asks us in our lies to mirror that love and to grow to maturity in that love.

Then Jesus takes the dialogue one step further.  He turns to Peter and tells him that he wishes to build his Church around him.   In this way Jesus is telling us that the answer of faith just made by Peter is entrusted now to his Church.   The Church is the place within which the true understanding of who Jesus is will be found and that in all the ups and downs of history Jesus will be with the Church and that the forces of evil will never bring the Church down.

That does not mean that the Church has always lived the teaching of Jesus perfectly.  Those called to belong to the close community of faith in Jesus have not always lived up to that calling. Many elements have crept into the Church as an institution and into the lives of individual Christian which have only distorted the image of Jesus and driven people away from Jesus.    The true disciples of Jesus are those who listen to God’s challenging word and allow the Father to inspire their lives and overcome their own selfish limitations and fearfulness. 

In our first reading, Saint Peter, already in his latter years, reflects on the transmission of the faith.  He is speaking to the Christian community of his own times and to those who have leadership in that community, but his words really apply to all of us who have the task of spreading the faith.   The faith that we are called to transmit is the faith “that has been entrusted to us”.  The faith we have is a faith that we have received from God, not an ideology or a comfort zone that we create for ourselves.

 In today’s Ireland, many wonder why the Church has such difficulty in passing on a living faith to the coming generations.   Saint Peter provides us with some answers - “Never be a dictator over any group that is put in your charge”, he writes.  We cannot impose faith. We should not attempt to impose faith.   Transmitting the faith comes only when “we are an example that the whole flock can follow”.  Pope Francis reminds us that people come to faith not through compulsion or imposition, but through attraction. No one will come to faith if the Church appears to be an organization which is about defending its own interests or where we as individual believers become trapped within the confines our own views and fears.

Jesus, in whom we encounter the mercy and loving kindness of God, challenges us to break out from our own timidity and fears and reach out to those who seek God.  We are to reach out not with a package of dogmatic formulae or a check list of morality, but first of all with that gladness and eagerness of those who have experienced the Gospel as Good News and whose lives witness to that Good News.   Let us go away from this Conference, then, renewed as joyful and enthusiastic missionary disciples of the God revealed to us in the mercy and loving kindness of Jesus. ENDS

Monday, 24 February 2014

FULL TEXT OF MOTU PROPRIO setting up Secretariat for the Economy: Cardinal Pell appointed as Prefect

This is the full text of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter issued Motu proprio, “Fidelis et dispensator Prudens”, dated 24 February.

“Like a faithful and prudent manager who has the task of carefully looking after what has been entrusted to him, the Church is aware of her responsibility to protect and manage her assets, in the light of her mission of evangelisation and with particular care for those in need. In a special way, the management of the economic and financial sectors of the Holy See is intimately linked to its specific mission, not only in the service of the universal ministry of the Holy Father, but also in relation to the common good, with a view to the full development of the human person.

After having carefully consulted the results of the work of the Commission for Reference on the the Organisation of the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See (cf. Chirograph of 18 July 2013), and after consultation with the Council of Cardinals for the reform of the Apostolic Constitution ‘Pastor Bonus’ and with the Council of Cardinals for the study of economic and administrative problems of the Holy See, by this Apostolic Letter issued Motu proprio, I adopt the following measures:


1. The Council for the Economy is hereby instituted, with the task of offering guidance on economic management and supervising the structures and the administrative and financial activities of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, of the Institutions connected to the Holy See, and of Vatican City State.

2. The Council for the Economy is composed of fifteen members, eight of whom are nominated from among the Cardinals and Bishops in order to reflect the universality of the Church, and seven of whom are lay experts of various nationalities, with recognised professional financial competences.

3. The Council for the Economy shall be presided over by a Cardinal coordinator.


4. The Secretariat for the Economy is hereby instituted, as a Dicastery of the Roman Curia in accordance with the Apostolic Constitution ‘Pastor Bonus’.

5. Notwithstanding the provisions for the Council for the Economy, the Secretariat will report directly to the Holy Father and will undertake the economic audit and supervision of the Bodies indicated in point 1 above, along with the policies and procedures regarding procurement and the allocation of human resources, respecting the competences of each Body. The competence of the Secretariat will extend to all matters that in any way fall within this area.

6. The Secretariat for the Economy shall be presided over by a Cardinal Prefect, who shall collaborate with the Secretary of State. A Prelate Secretary General will assist the Cardinal Prefect.


7. The Auditor-General shall be appointed by the Holy Father and shall prepare the audit of the accounts of the Bodies referred to in point 1.


8. The Cardinal Prefect shall be responsible for drawing up the definitive Statues of the Council for the Economy, the Secretariat for the Economy, and the Office of the Auditor-General. The Statutes shall be presented quam primum for approval by the Holy Father.

I dispose that all that is established herein have immediate, full and permanent value, abrogating any incompatible measures, and that the present Apostolic Letter issued Motu proprio be published in the Osservatore Romano of 24 February 2014 and subsequently in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

Given in Rome, St. Peter’s, on 24 February of the year 2014, the first of my Pontificate.”

The Holy Father has appointed Cardinal Pell, the current Archbishop of Sydney, Australia,
to the role of Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy.

.(according to VIS and Vatican Radio)

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Pope's Angelus Address "Pray for us to be good servants: good servants, not good bosses!"

VATICAN CITY, February 23, 2014 - Dear brothers and sisters, hello!
In the second reading this Sunday, St. Paul says: “So let no one boast of men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future, all are yours; and you are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:23). Why does the Apostle say this? It is because he finds himself faced with divisions in the community at Corinth, where different groups had been formed that each regarded some preacher as their leader. They said: “I am of Paul, I am of Apollo, I am of Cephas...” (Corinthians 1:12). St. Paul explains that this way of thinking is mistaken because the community does not belong to the apostles, rather the apostles belong to the community. But the community as a whole belongs to Christ!
This belonging to Christ means that in the Christian communities – dioceses, parishes, associations, movements – the differences cannot contradict the fact that, through Baptism, we have the same dignity: all of us, in Jesus Christ, are children of God. And this is our dignity: in Jesus Christ we are children of God! Those who have received the office of leadership, of preaching, of administering the Sacraments, must not think of themselves as owners of special powers, as masters, but put themselves at the service of the community, helping it to travel the path of holiness with joy.
Today the Church entrusts this way of pastoral life to the new cardinals, with whom I celebrated Mass this morning. We can greet all the new cardinals with applause. Let us all greet them! Yesterday’s consistory and today’s eucharistic celebration offered us a precious occasion to experience the catholicity, the universality of the Church, well-represented by the various origins of the members of the College of Cardinals, gathered in close communion around the Successor of Peter. And may the Lord give us the grace to work for the unity of the Church, to build this unity, because unity is more important than conflicts! The unity of the Church is from Christ; conflicts are problems that are not always from Christ.

The liturgical moments of celebration that we have had the opportunity to experience during the course of the last couple days, reinforce the faith in all of us and the love for Christ and for his Church! I invite you to support these shepherds and to assist them with prayer, so that they always lead with zeal the people entrusted to them, showing everyone the tenderness and love of the Lord. But a bishop, a cardinal, a pope have such a great need of prayer to help the people of God to go forward! I say “help,” that is, serve the people of God, because the vocation of a bishop, a cardinal and a pope is precisely this: to be servants, to serve in the name of Christ. Pray for us to be good servants: good servants, not good bosses! All of us together, bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful must offer the witness of a Church faithful to Christ, animated by the desire to serve our brothers and ready to meet with prophetic courage the spiritual expectations and needs of the men and women of our time. May Our Lady accompany us and protect us on this journey.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father made the following remarks to those gathered in St. Peter’s square:]
I greet all of the pilgrims present, especially those who have come for the consistory, to accompany the new cardinals; and I heartily thank the countries who have wished to be present at this event with official delegations.
I greet the students of Toulouse and the community of Venezuelans who live in Italy.
I greet the faithful from Caltanissetta, Reggio Calabria, Sortino, Altamura, Ruvo and Lido degli Estensi; the young people from Reggio Emilia and those from the Diocese of Lodi; the Bicyclist Association of Agrigento and the volunteers of the Civil Protection from Bassa Padovana.

Cardinal Nichols on need for stronger support to family life

(Vatican Radio) Cardinals from across the globe have been meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican over the past two days to discuss the theme of the family, ahead of the Synod of Bishops on that same subject to be held next October.Among them is England’s new cardinal Vincent Nichols who receives his red hat from the Pope at Saturday’s consistory. Archbishop Nichols, who heads the diocese of Westminster and serves as president of the bishops conference of England and Wales, told us there is a need for renewal of pastoral practice to provide better support for families who are facing so many serious challenges. Despite the difficulties, he says, the questionnaire sent out in preparation for the Synod shows most people share the aspirations of the Church and want ‘permanent, stable, fruitful family lives’....Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s interview with Cardinal Vincent Nichols: RealAudioMP3 

The reflection of the church on the family is now going to be a consistent theme over the next 2 years so my first though is that I don’t need to rush…….uppermost in my mind is to recognize the pressure that people are under – social pressures, pressure to hold together their families – and I think we have to be deeply compassionate about the actual situation that people are in….
We did a listening exercise on family life 9 years ago and we’ve been trying to make adjustments to the help we provide, particularly in marriage preparation, as a result of that listening. Now we’ve been listening again through the questions for the preparation of the extraordinary synod next October. I think what’s clear is that people share the aspirations of the Church, they want permanent, stable, fruitful family lives but the difficulties they face are very real…

I believe the questions and responses together present the challenge that is facing parishes, because the work has to be done at parish level, so we’re trying to reflect on that and begin to see what parishes are going to do if they’re going to be more sensitive, more responsive to the challenges….

We were asked by the secretary of the synod not to make public the responses we were sending to the Holy See and I agreed to that…..we got 16.500 responses, 80% were lay people, 69% were married people… has been a useful exercise….there was some frustration with the framing of the questions and we have to be attentive now to make sure people do not think that was an opinion poll leading to a readjustment of policy. It was a listening exercise trying to pay attention to people’s experience of trying to live the life of faith within the family, the experience of support they get – or don’t get – so a lot of these things are about pastoral practice and I do think we need a renewal of pastoral practice….

Text from page http://en.radiovaticana..

Saturday, 22 February 2014


Vatican City, 22 February 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican Basilica, Pope Francis celebrated an Ordinary Public Consistory during which he created nineteen new cardinals, to whom he imposed the biretta, consigned the ring and assigned the title or diaconate church.
The celebration was also attended by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, whom Pope Francis embraced upon entering the basilica and who was also greeted by secretary of State Pietro Parolin in his address. Parolin was the first among the new cardinals and addressed some words of thanks to the Holy Father in the name of all the new cardinals. Bishop Loris Francesco Capovilla was not present, and the biretta will be consigned over the next few days to his residence in Sotto il Monte, in the Italian province of Bergamo.
Today's ordinary public consistory was the first of Pope Francis' pontificate; he began his allocution with the phrase from the Gospel of St. Mark, read on this occasion: “And Jesus went before them”.
“At this moment too, Jesus is walking ahead of us”, he said. “He is always before us. He goes ahead of us and leads the way. This is the source of our confidence and our joy: to be his disciples, to remain with him, to walk behind him, to follow him. When we joined with the cardinals to concelebrate the first Mass in the Sistine Chapel, the first word which the Lord proposed to us was to 'walk', to journey with him: to journey, and then to build and to profess. Today this same word is repeated, but now as an action, an action of Jesus which is ongoing: 'Jesus was walking…'. This is something striking about the Gospels: Jesus is often walking and he teaches his disciples along the way. This is important. Jesus did not come to teach a philosophy, an ideology, but rather a 'way', a journey to be undertaken with him, and we learn the way as we go, by walking. Yes, dear brothers, this is our joy: to walk with Jesus. But this is not easy, or comfortable, because the way that Jesus chooses is the way of the Cross. As they journey together, he speaks to his disciples about what will happen in Jerusalem: he foretells his passion, death and resurrection. And they are 'shocked' and 'full of fear'. They were shocked, certainly, because for them going up to Jerusalem meant sharing in the triumph of the Messiah, in his victory – we see this in the request made by James and John. But they were also full of fear for what was about to happen to Jesus, and for what they themselves might have to endure.
“Unlike the disciples in those days, we know that Jesus has won, and that we need not fear the Cross; indeed, the Cross is our hope”, continued the Pope. “And yet, we are all too human, sinners, tempted to think as men do, not as God does. And once we follow the thinking of the world, what happens? The Gospel says that 'When the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John'. They were indignant. Whenever a worldly mentality predominates, the result is rivalry, jealousy, factions. And so the word which Jesus speaks to us today is most salutary. It purifies us inwardly, it enlightens our consciences and helps us to unite ourselves fully with Jesus, and to do so together, at this time when the College of Cardinals is enlarged by the entry of new members.
“And Jesus called them to himself”, Pope Francis observed. “Here is the other action of Jesus. Along the way, he is aware that he needs to speak to the Twelve; he stops and calls them to himself. Brothers, let us allow Jesus to call us to himself! Let us be 'con-voked' by him. And let us listen to him, with the joy that comes from receiving his word together, from letting ourselves be taught by that word and by the Holy Spirit, and to become ever more of one heart and soul, gathered around him. And as we are thus 'con-voked', 'called to Him' by our one Teacher, I too will tell you what the Church needs: she needs you, your cooperation, and even more your communion, with me and among yourselves. The Church needs your courage, to proclaim the Gospel at all times, both in season and out of season, and to bear witness to the truth. The Church needs your prayer for the progress of Christ’s flock, the prayer which, together with the proclamation of the Word, let us not forget, is the primary task of the Bishop. The Church needs your compassion, especially at this time of pain and suffering for so many countries throughout the world. We express our spiritual closeness to the ecclesial communities and to all Christians suffering from discrimination and persecution. We must fight against every form of discrimination. The Church needs our prayer for them, that they may be firm in faith and capable of responding to evil with good. And this prayer of ours extends to every man and women suffering injustice on account of their religious convictions.
“The Church needs us also to be peacemakers”, he concluded, “building peace by our words, our hopes and our prayers: let us therefore invoke peace and reconciliation for those peoples presently experiencing violence and war. Thank you, dear Brothers. Let us walk together behind the Lord, and let us always be called together by him, in the midst of his faithful people, God's holy faithful people, our holy Mother the Church”.
Following his allocution, the Pope pronounced the formula for the creation of the new cardinals, their names, and the titular or diaconate churches assigned to them. The new cardinals recited the Creed and gave their oath of faithfulness and obedience to the Pope and his successors. They then received their biretta and ring from the hands of the Holy Father, who also assigned them their title or diaconate.

Protestant Congregation Receives Personal Video Message From Pope Francis

Pope Urges Them to Join Him in Prayer, That 'This Separation Comes to an End'
ROME, February 21, 2014 ( - Pope Francis has shown his enthusiasm for ecumenism through a private video recorded for longtime friend, Anglican Episcopal Bishop Tony Palmer, which was played at a gathering of Kenneth Copeland Ministries.
Kenneth Copeland Ministries is a Protestant ministry based in Texas, founded and directed by Copeland and his wife and children.
In the video message, the Holy Father explains that he and Palmer have been "friends for years."
After a brief introduction in English, the Pope spoke in Italian and the video was played with subtitles.
The Pope goes on to speak of joy and yearning -- joy that his audience has "come together to worship Jesus Christ the only Lord" and yearning that "this separation comes to an end and gives us communion. I am nostalgic (yearning), of that embrace that the Holy Scripture speaks of when Joseph's brothers began to starve from hunger, they went to Egypt, to buy, so that they could eat."
"We have lot of cultural riches, and religious riches. And we have diverse traditions. But we have to encounter one another as brothers. We must cry together like Joseph did. These tears will unite us. The tears of love," Francis told the congregation.
The Pope said he spoke as "a brother" and "in a simple way," inviting them: "Let us allow our nostalgia (yearning) to grow, because this will propel us to find each other, to embrace one another. And together to worship Jesus Christ as the only Lord of History."
"I thank you profoundly for listening to me," the Pope continued. "I thank you profoundly for allowing me to speak the language of the heart."
And he asked the congregation for prayer, a request that they granted immediately following the video, as Copeland led the congregation in prayer, which he described as "prayer in the Spirit," as they spoke in tongues.
Francis urged: "And let us pray to the Lord that He unites us all. Come on, we are brothers. Let's give each other a spiritual hug and let God complete the work that he has begun. And this is a miracle; the miracle of unity has begun.
"A famous Italian author named Manzoni, once wrote in his novel, of a simple man amongst the people, who once said this, 'I've never seen God begin a miracle without Him finishing it well.' He will complete this miracle of unity. I ask you to bless me, and I bless you. From brother to brother, I embrace you. Thank you."
After Copeland led the congregation in prayer, himself visibly moved, he echoed the Holy Father's idea of the "miracle of unity [that] has begun," saying that when he entered ministry 47 years ago, "this was impossible."

Friday, 21 February 2014


Vatican City, 21 February 2014 (VIS) – The fiftieth anniversary of the conciliar Constitution “Sacrosanctum Concilium” on the Sacred Liturgy – the first document promulgated by Vatican Council II – is an cause for “gratitude for the profound and wide-ranging renewal of liturgical life, made possible by the conciliar Magisterium … and at the same time urges relaunched commitment to welcoming and more fully implementing this teaching”.
Thus began Pope Francis' message to Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, on the occasion of the conclusion of the symposium “Sacrosanctum Concilium. Gratitude for and Commitment to a Great Ecclesial Movement”, organised by this dicastery in collaboration with the Pontifical Lateran University.
“Sacrosanctum Concilium”, promulgated by Pope Paul VI on 4 December 1963, and the further developments of the Magisterium in the furrow it has traced “have improved our understanding of the liturgy in the light of the divine Revelation, as the 'exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ' in which 'the whole public worship is performed by the mystical body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the head and His members'. Christ is revealed as the true protagonist of every celebration, and He associates with Himself 'the Church … His beloved Bride who calls to her Lord, and through Him offers worship to the Eternal Father'. This action, which takes place through the power of the Holy Spirit, possesses a profound creative force able to attract every man and, in some way, the whole of Creation”.
“To celebrate true spiritual worship means to offer oneself as a living sacrifice, sacred and agreeable to God. A liturgy detached from spiritual worship would risk becoming empty, declining from its Christian originality to a generic sacred sense, almost magical, and a hollow aestheticism. As an action of Christ, liturgy has an inner impulse to be transformed in the sentiments of Christ, and in this dynamism all reality is transfigured”. The Pontiff quoted Pope emeritus Benedict XVI who, in his Lectio divina to the Pontifical Major Roman Seminary in 2012, explained that “our daily life ... must be inspired, profuse, immersed in the divine reality, it must become action together with God. This does not mean that we must always be thinking of God, but that we must really be penetrated by the reality of God so that our whole life — and not only a few thoughts — may be a liturgy, may be adoration”.

To our gratitude to God for what it has been possible to achieve, the Pope stated that it is necessary to unite “a renewed willingness to go ahead on the path indicated by the Council Fathers, as there remains much to be done for a correct and complete assimilation of the Constitution of the Holy Liturgy on the part of the baptised and ecclesial communities. I refer, in particular, to the commitment to a solid and organic liturgical initiation and formation, both of lay faithful as well as clergy and consecrated persons”.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Pope receives prisoners in his home

(Vatican Radio) Nineteen inmates of the Italian prisons of Pisa and Pianosa were received in a private meeteing by Pope Francis on Wednesday morning , 19th February, in the Casa Santa Marta , before the weekly General Audience . The Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano reported the news that the Pope prayed with them and blessed them before the image of " Our Lady who unties knots ," especially dear to him. Then he greeted each of them and listened to them one by one. He shared words of mercy and forgiveness in particular, for one inmate who gave him a personal letter.

The inmates were on a spiritual pilgrimage to Rome and were accompanied by two chaplains. They met with Pope Francis after attending an early morning Mass celebrated by Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri in the Vatican Grottoes. Informed of their presence , the Pope wanted to personally meet them and welcomed them into his home, at 9 am. Also on hand for the forty-five minute long encounter were the director of the penitentiary Pianosa , magistrates, and prison guards.

Archbishop Baldisseri described the meeting as " beautiful and moving ." 

Text from page
of the Vatican Radio website 

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

"Magdalene" women still fighting for justice from Governments in Dublin and Belfast and from four Religious Congregations

Wreaths have been laid at the gates of Leinster House and on the graves of undocumented Magdalene women by protesters marking the anniversary of the Taoiseach’s apology on behalf of the State.
They say that redress, recommended by the Quirke report and backed by the Department of Justice and Equality, has not been forthcoming for many Magdalen survivors.
Payments ranging from €11,500 for women who worked in Magdalene laundries for three months or less to €100,000 for those who stayed there for 10 years or longer, have not been made they said. Other forms of redress, including enhanced medical cards and educational support measures, are still awaited by many they said, although some survivors have received payments.
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter: said all four congregations were “co-operating” with the Government scheme to compensate the women through “providing all the available records and verifications as requested”Minister writes to Magdalene nuns for third time seeking contribution to redress scheme
 “It is a year today since we got the apology from Enda Kenny. The women were happy about it,” said Maureen Sullivan, one of those protesting outside the Dáil.
“I was 12 years of age when I was put into one of those hell holes,” she added. “Some women have received their money and a lot of them wanted to come today and they were told that if they protested they might not get their compensation. They are frightened to come. A lot of them are elderly and they are not able. They haven’t received their medical cards yet, there is a delay on that. The Government have not stuck by their word. They are not doing things the way they said they would. It’s not happening. Shame on them. It’s a disgrace.”
The Department tonight denied there was any threatening behaviour on its part. “There is no question of any survivor being threatened by the Department of Justice and Equality,” it said in a statement.
“It may be noted that Judge Quirke recommended that, as a pre-condition of receiving benefits under the Scheme, the women concerned should sign a waiver not to take proceedings against the State.
“ Before signing the waiver the women are encouraged to take independent legal advice and the Department of Justice and Equality is facilitating this by providing a contribution of up to €500 plus VAT towards the cost of obtaining legal advice.”
Speaking outside Leinster House today, survivor Mary Smith said she was appalled “that the religious orders had not acknowledged what they did to us”.
“Psychologically they damaged our lives by putting into those places against our wishes.”
Geraldine Coll Cronin said her parents sent her to a training school to be educated “but I was not sent to school, I was sent straight into the laundries as a slave”.
“We were jailed in there,” she added. “We were locked in there from 9 o’clock at night until 6 o’clock in the morning. Our rights were violated. We got no education, we never saw a book. They have got to do something about my education because I have suffered all my life.”
Women in Northern Ireland have also called for the Stormont Executive to meet their calls for an inquiry into abuses at Magdalene laundry-type institutions.
Amnesty International, also marking the anniversary of the Taoiseach’s apology, said: “Victims in Northern Ireland can’t even get an answer from ministers on whether there will be an inquiry”.
Amnesty said women have come forward with claims of “abuse they suffered in Magdalene Laundry-style homes here which may amount to arbitrary detention, forced labour, ill-treatment, the removal and forced adoption of their babies”.
In a statement Amnesty said: “There is no recourse within the remit of the Northern Ireland institutional abuse inquiry for cases of abuse which took place after the age of 18. A clear ‘justice gap’ has emerged for these women survivors, with no inquiry in place - North or South - into their suffering.”
The Northern Ireland Executive, it said, must consider a separate inquiry mechanism for these cases which could also lead to a state apology and reparation.

My COMMENT:   Without in any way purporting to defend barbaric, unchristian behaviour by some, thankfully few, Religious, it is worth bearing in mind that the sisters, at their own expense , built places of refuge for orphans and others at a time that the State did not.  Eventually Governments used or abused the Sisters by placing children and young women with the Sisters and paid a pittance for their care and welfare - certainly not enough to feed them  never mind clothe them or provide them with any treats. 
I know of Sisters of Mercy who were visited often  by some of their former charges who had become parents and even grandparents, and who still regarded the sisters with much affection.

Pope Francis: Part Catechesis on the Sacrament of Reconciliation (two versions!)

(Vatican Radio) Below, please find the English language synthesis of Pope Francis’ Catechesis for the General Audience on Wednesday 19 February 2014:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: Through the Sacraments of Initiation, we receive new life in Christ. This life we carry in earthen vessels, however, and we still experience temptations, suffering, and death. Because of sin, we can even lose this new life. Jesus therefore willed that the Church continue his works of salvation for her members, in particular through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which flows from the Paschal Mystery. The forgiveness we receive is not the result of our own efforts, but is the gift of the Holy Spirit reconciling us to God and to each other. While the celebration of the Sacrament is personal, it is rooted in the community of the Church, in which the Holy Spirit is present, uniting us all in Jesus Christ. When confessing our sins then, we confess to the priest who represents not only God but also the community of the Church that accompanies us on the path of conversion. Though this Sacrament is a great treasure, we may be tempted to dismiss it, perhaps due to laziness or embarrassment, or because of a diminishing sense of sin and its effects. Too often, we see ourselves as the centre and measure of all things, and our lives can go adrift. The Sacrament of Reconciliation calls us back to God, and embraces us with his infinite mercy and joy. May we allow his love to renew us as his children and to reconcile us with him, with ourselves, and with one another.

Text from page 

THE VIS version

Vatican City, 19 February 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father dedicated his catechesis at this Wednesday's general audience to the Sacrament of penance. After touring St. Peter's Square in an open car, greeting the thousands of faithful who applauded as he passed, the Pope explained that “the forgiveness of our sins is not something we can offer to ourselves; it is not the result of our efforts, but rather a gift from the Holy Spirit, which fills us from the wellspring of mercy and grace that surges endlessly from the open heart of Christ, crucified and risen again. … It reminds us that it is only by allowing ourselves to be reconciled through the Lord Jesus with the Father and with our brothers that we may truly be at peace”.
Pope Francis explained that the celebration of this Sacrament has transformed from its previously public nature to the private and reserved form of Confession. However, “this should not lead to the loss of the ecclesiastical matrix, which constitutes its living context. Indeed, the Christian community is the place in which the presence of the Spirit is felt, which renews hearts in God's love and brings all brothers together as one, in Jesus Christ”. He continued, “For this reason, it is not enough to ask for the Lord's forgiveness in our own minds and hearts, but rather it is also necessary to humbly and trustfully confess our sins to a minister of the Church”.
The Bishop of Rome emphasised that the priest does not only represent God, but rather the community as a whole, and that anyone who seeks to confess only to God should remember that our sins are also committed against our brothers and against the Church, which is why it is necessary to ask forgiveness from them too, and to be ashamed for what we have done. “Shame can be good”, he affirmed; “It is good for us to have a certain amount of shame, because to be ashamed can be healthy. When someone has no shame, in my country we describe them as “sin verguenza”, shameless. Shame can be good as it can make us humble, and the priest receives this confession with love and tenderness, and forgives in the name of God. Also from a human point of view, to unburden oneself, it is good to speak with a brother and to tell the priest those things which lie so heavily upon our hearts. And one feels unburdened before God, with the Church, and with a brother. Do not be afraid of Confession!”
The Pontiff went on to ask those present when they last confessed, and strongly urged them not to overlook Confession. “If a long time has passed, do not waste another day, go, the priest will be good. It is Jesus who is there, and Jesus is better than a priest, Jesus will receive you, he will receive you with love. Be courageous and go to Confession! … Every time we confess, God embraces us, God celebrates! Let us go ahead on this path. May God bless you!”

Tuesday, 18 February 2014


Vatican City, 18 February 2014 (VIS) – This morning a press conference was held during which Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, gave a briefing on the second meeting of the Holy Father and the Council of Cardinals (C8). The meeting was also attended by Archbishop Pietro Parolin, secretary of State, who will participate at all times, although he will be absent from this afternoon's session due to an official appointment at the Italian embassy to the Holy See.

Fr. Lombardi communicated that yesterday afternoon the Council reflected on the results of the Commission for Reference on the the Organisation of the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See (COSEA), presented during the preceding morning session. The president of the Commission, Joseph F.X. Zahra, was the only member of the Commission present. Msgr. Alfred Xuereb also attended today's meeting in his role as the papal delegate to the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Institute of Works of Religion.

The day's events began, as usual, at 7 a.m. with the celebration of Holy Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae chapel; the meeting started at 9.30 a.m. in the same room where yesterday's gathering was held. The morning was spent hearing the representatives of the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), instituted by chirograph on 24 June 2013. This Commission was the result of the Holy Father's wish to acquire a better knowledge of the legal position and the activities of the Institute to enable greater harmonisation of the latter with the mission of the Universal Church and the Apostolic See, within the broader context of reforms involving some of the Institutions which offer support to the Apostolic See. Its task is to gather information on the functioning of the Institute and to report the results to the Pontiff.

The session was attended by Cardinal Raffaele Farina, president; Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, member; Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta Ochoa de Chinchetru, coordinator; and Msgr. Peter Bryan Wells, secretary. Professor Mary Ann Glendon was not present as she does not reside in Rome.

The Commission presented the work carried out during these months, which was received with great interest by the cardinals, and provided information on the current situation of the Institute and the problems that it must face. Suggestions were offered for future changes, although no decisions were made following the hearing. One of the key points was the mission of the IOR in relation to the action of the Church in the world and not only from the perspective of economic performance.

Fr. Lombardi commented that it is important to bear in mind, considering the work of the two Commissions, that their aims are different but that they both fit into the contextual reality of the Holy See; for this reason the Holy Father wishes to obtain an overall view with regard to the reorganisation of its governance and structures.

The meeting will continue this afternoon, and tomorrow the C8 Council of Cardinals will with the Council of Fifteen. Due to the large number of attendees, the Wednesday meeting will not be held in the room in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, but is instead likely to be held in the Apostolic Palace

Pope:" the patience of God’s people keeps the Church going"

(Vatican Radio) The people of God endure the challenges of daily life with faith and patience. That – Pope Francis said – is what keeps the Church going.
Speaking at morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta on Monday, the Pope commented on the Letter of St. James in which he says: “Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds”. Patience he explained – has nothing to do with resignation – “when we endure trials with faith they ripen our lives”.
He who wants everything immediately – the Pope said – he who does not know the wisdom of patience and perseverance is like a spoilt child. That kind of person – he added – is a person who does not grow, who is incapable of facing life as it presents itself. And another temptation for those who have no patience – the Pope said – is in the omnipotence of getting what you want immediately, as in the case of the Pharisees who asked Jesus for a sign form heaven: “they wanted God to perform a miracle to show that God approved of him”.

“They confuse God’s way of acting with that of a sorcerer. But God does not behave like a sorcerer, God has his own way of proceeding. And God is patient. Each time we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we sing a hymn to God’s patience. And the Lord carries us on his shoulders with much patience! Christians must live their lives in time with the music of patience, because it is the music of our fathers, of the people of God, of those who believed in his Word, who followed the commandment that the Lord gave to our father Abraham: “walk before me and be blameless”.

And quoting from the Letter to the Hebrews, Pope Francis said “God’s people has suffered and has been persecuted but it has had the joy of looking forward to God’s promises”. This is the kind of patience – he said - that we must have when we are faced with trials and challenges: the patience of a mature person, the patience of God that carries us on His shoulders. This – Pope Francis said – is “the patience of our people”.

And Pope Francis turned his thoughts to the many people he meets when he visits parishes who face problems and suffer. People with a disabled child or challenged by disease, but he said – “who go forward in their lives with patience”.

“They do not ask for signs – he said – they know how to read the signs of the times: they know that when the fig tree blossoms spring is on its way. Those who wanted a sign from heaven did not know how to read the signs of the times, that is why they did not recognize Jesus”.

Pope Francis concluded his homily praising those who “suffer but do not lose the smile of faith. Those who have the joy of faith”:
These are the people of God, in our parishes, in our institutions – so many of them – that keep the Church going with their everyday holiness. Brothers – he said: “consider it pure joy when you face trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”.

Text from page

Monday, 17 February 2014


Vatican City, 16 February 2014 (VIS) – The Roman parish of St. Thomas the Apostle in Infernetto, in the south of the diocese, received a visit from Pope Francis yesterday afternoon. Upon arrival the Bishop of Rome met with the children who will receive Communion and Confirmation this year, and greeted the faithful in the parish square, along with recently baptised children and their parents, the elderly and sick of the parish and the Association of families with disabled children, and before the Holy Mass he confessed a number of penitents.

“Once upon a time, Jesus' disciples ate wheat, because they were hungry; but it was the Sabbath and on the Sabbath it was not permitted to eat grain”, said the Pope in his homily. “The Pharisees said, 'Look at what they are doing! He who does this runs counter to the law and soils his soul, because he does not obey'. And Jesus answered, 'That which comes from outside does not soil the soul; it that which comes from inside, from your heart, that may soil the soul'. And I think it is good for us, nowadays, to think not of whether or not our souls are pure or unclean, but to ask what there is within our hearts; what do I have within, that I know I have, and which no-one else knows. What is in our heart? Is there love? Do I love my parents, my children, my wife, my husband, the people in my neighbourhood, the sick? Do I love them? And is there hate in my heart? Do I hate anyone? Because often we find that there is also hate. 'I love everyone, apart from this one, that one, or the other ...'. This is hate, isn't it?”

“What do I have in my heart?” he continued. “Is there forgiveness? Do I have an attitude of forgiveness towards those who have wronged me, or is there an attitude of revenge? … We must ask ourselves what we have inside, because what we have inside comes out and causes harm, if it is bad; if it is good, it comes out and does good. And it is beautiful to be truthful with ourselves, and to be ashamed of ourselves when we realise we are in a situation that is not as God would wish”.

The Pope commented that in today's Gospel, Jesus says, “'You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, You shall not kill ... But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgement'. And whoever insults his brother, kills him in his heart; whoever gossips maliciously about his brother, kills him in his heart. Perhaps we are not aware of this … we gossip about this and that … and this is what is means to kill one's brother. To understand one's brother, to understand people, means to love, and to forgive: it is to understand, to forgive, and to be patient”.

“We must ask the Lord for two graces”, concluded Pope Francis. “The first is to know what is in our hearts, so as not to be deceived. The second is to do the good that is in our hearts, and not the ill that lies therein. And speaking of 'killing', to remember that words may kill. Our ill-will towards others can also kill. … It often seems that the sins of slander and defamation have been removed from the Decalogue, and speaking ill of a person is a sin. … Let us always ask the Lord to help us to love our neighbours. And if we cannot love a person, why not? They we must pray for that person, in order that the Lord might help me wish him well. And we must continue in this way, aware that our live is rendered impure by the ill-will that comes from our hearts”.

Abused man tells inquiry that he forgives nuns - not to free them but to free himself

A man  who spearheaded the campaign to establish an inquiry into abuses at a Derry children’s home run by the Sisters of Nazareth has said he forgives the nuns “not to free them, but to free me”.
Speaking at the inquiry Jon McCourt said he no longer directed anger at the system which mistreated him and hundreds of others.
In a powerful and lengthy testimony Mr McCourt detailed his 10 years at St Joseph’s, Termonbacca, telling the panel of separation from siblings, sexual abuse by older boys, as well as beatings and assaults by nuns.
Mr McCour and waived his right to anonymity, told how he was beaten for being left handed and for repeatedly wetting the bed. He said he continued to wet his bed long after he left the home in the late 1960s as a teenager.
Graphic descriptions of the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of older boys at the home, were contained in a copy of the sworn statement Mr McCourt gave to the inquiry.
Senior counsel to the inquiry, Christine Smith QC, asked for sensitivity from reporters present.
The inquiry panel also heard how in 1963 McCourt was found reading a newspaper report about the Cuban missile crisis by a nun who began beating and kicking him. Mr  detailed the injuries he suffered and the treatment required at AltnagelvMcCourtin hospital in Derry.
Boys were often known by their numbers, he said, rather than their names.
“I started class in 1964, there were 31 boys there,” he said.
“I didn’t know two-thirds of them. But I knew their numbers. I got called No. 10 certainly more times than I got John.” He said the nuns often just called him “boy” and sometimes used only his surname.
He spoke of separation from his brothers and told the inquiry he did not know that he had a sister also in the care of the nuns.
The witness told of the kindness shown by many outside the home, by charities and individuals who organised day trips and Christmas parties or bought gaelic football kits for the boys.
He also said that a less severe atmosphere developed at Termonbacca in the mid 1960s which he associates with the arrival of a younger nun to the care home.
In a deeply emotional submission to the inquiry panel Mr McCourt said he and other witnesses had waited 50 years to give their testimony openly.
“I hope we have done it with dignity and respect,” he said. “My anger against the people and the system that caused so much pain and destroyed so many lives has gone. I forgive them for the pain and anguish that they caused me, not to free them but to free me.”
He added: “To hold that anger still gives them power over me,” but he warned, “ that forgiveness does not release them from their responsibility of atonement or the opportunity to make amends.”
Breaking down he said his sympathy was not for the nuns but for “the many of us who never made it this far” and he named his now-deceased sister and many others.
“It’s not my place to forgive on their behalf or on behalf of the many here at home in Ireland or scattered across lands who still hurt because of their experience. We carry their torch and we are their voice. Their memory and the courage I have seen in those who have come forward to speak to this acknowledgment forum of this formal inquiry will carry me and many others through this.”
He said the push for an inquiry “was not about destroying the church”.

“Hopefully what we have done is create the opportunity for the church to re-engage with some of the most vulnerable people.”