Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Papa Francis meets Shimon Peres, exchange prayers and hope for the Middle East

http://www.asianews.it/files/img/VATICANO_-_Israele.JPGMeeting today at 11 am for about half hour, Pope Francis and Israeli President Shimon Peres exchanged prayers and expressed hope for a solution to the Mideast situation. 

The Israeli leader also invited the Holy Father to Jerusalem. 

Speaking to the pontiff, Shimon Peres said, "I would pray for you" in Assisi where he travels tomorrow. Earlier, he had asked Francis "to pray for all of us".

Peres later met with the Vatican Secretary of State Card Tarcisio Bertone, and Secretary for Relations with States Mgr Dominique Mamberti.

At the end of the meeting, described as "friendly", the Vatican Press Office issued a press release in which it listed the problems addressed, which the parties hope to see solved.

"A speedy resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians is hoped for," the statement said, "so that, with the courageous decisions and availability of both sides as well as support from the international community, an agreement may be reached that respects the legitimate aspirations of the two Peoples, thus decisively contributing to the peace and stability of the region."

Growing Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories have interrupted talks between Israel and Palestine, reducing the chances of a solution based on the principle of "two peoples, two states."

The press release went on to say that "Particular worry for the conflict that plagues Syria was expressed, for which a political solution is hoped for that privileges the logic of reconciliation and dialogue."

In fact, a political solution is ever more urgent at a time when some Israeli military leaders and segments of the country's public are pushing for an Israeli military action against Damascus.

Together with United Nations, the Holy See continues instead to call on the international community to promote internal dialogue in Syria.

The Vatican statement ended saying, "A number of issues concerning relations between the State of Israel and the Holy See and between state authorities and the local Catholic communities were also addressed. In conclusion, the significant progress made by the Bilateral Working Commission, which is preparing an agreement regarding issues of common interest, was appreciated and its rapid conclusion is foreseen."

However, a few days ago, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem called for a stop to the construction of the separation wall in Beit Jala, in the Cremisan Valley, which threatens to undermine the educational work provided by the Salesian Order to Palestinian children, one example among dozens of the way the wall devastates the lives, work and health of the Palestinian population.

At last, the two sides hope to see their 1994 Fundamental Accord finally implemented. Over the years, Vatican and Israeli representatives on the joint commission engaged in cordial talks, made progress, and remain hopeful in a rapid conclusion that has not yet come.

Pope: A worldly Church cannot transmit the Gospel

https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-prn1/13503_602687359742872_712821721_n.jpgA worldly Church is a weak Church. The only way to stop this from happening is to entrust the Church to the Lord through constant prayer. This was the message at the heart of Pope Francis’ homily during Mass Tuesday morning, celebrated with staff from the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, also known as APSA. 

"We can safeguard the Church, we can cure the Church, no? We do so with our work, but what’s most important is what the Lord does : He is the only One who can look into the face of evil and overcome it. The prince of the world comes but can do nothing against me: if we don’t want the prince of this world to take the Church into his hands, we must entrust it to the One who can defeat the prince of this world. Here the question arises: do we pray for the Church, for the entire Church? For our brothers and sisters whom we do not know, everywhere in the world? It is the Lord's Church and in our prayer we say to the Lord: Lord, look at your Church ... It' s yours. Your Church is [made up of ] our brothers and sisters. This is a prayer that must come from our heart".

Then, Pope Francis remarked that "it is easy to pray for the grace of the Lord", "to thank Him" or when "we need something." But it is fundamental that we also pray to the Lord for all, for those who have "received the same Baptism," saying "they are Yours, they are ours, watch over them".

"Entrust the Church to the Lord is a prayer that makes the Church grow. It is also an act of faith. We can do nothing, we are poor servants - all of us - of the Church: it is He who keeps her going and holds her and makes her grow , makes her holy, defends and protects her from the prince of this world and what he wants the Church to become, in short more and more worldly. This is the greatest danger! When the Church becomes worldly, when she has the spirit of the world within herself, when that peace which is not that of the Lord - that peace when Jesus says, 'I leave you peace, my peace I give you', not as the world gives it - when she has that worldly peace, the Church is a weak Church, a defeated Church, unable to transmit the Gospel, the message of the Cross, the scandal of the Cross ... She cannot transmit this if she is worldly”.

During his homily, Pope Francis returned several times to the importance of prayer to entrust "the Church to the Lord", the path to "the peace that only He can give":

"Entrust the Church to God, entrust the elderly, the sick, the children, the youth ... 'Safeguard your Church Lord ': she is yours! With this attitude, He will give us, in the midst of tribulations, the peace that only He can give . This peace which the world cannot give, that peace that cannot be bought, that peace which is a true gift of the presence of Jesus in the midst of his Church. Entrusting the Church that is in distress: there are great tribulations, persecution ... there are. But there are also small tribulations: the small tribulations of illness or family problems ... entrust all this to the Lord guard your Church in tribulation, so she does not lose faith, so she does not lose hope. "

Pope Francis concluded : "May the Lord make us strong so we do not lose faith, so we do not lose hope”. Entrusting the Church to the Lord “will do us and the Church good. It will give us great peace [and although] it will not rid us of our tribulations, it will make us stronger in our sufferings”.

China: Secretary of State note on death of Bishop Jin Luxian

http://media01.radiovaticana.va/imm/1_0_687681.JPGBelow is Vatican Radio’s English translation of the note issued by the Vatican Secretary of State on the death of Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian of the Diocese of Shanghai

On Saturday, April 27, His Excellency Mons. Aloysius Jin Luxian S.I., Coadjutor bishop of Shanghai (continental China), passed away at the age of 96.

The Prelate was born on June 20, 1916 in the Nanshi district in the city of Shanghai. In September 1926 he began his primary school studies at Saint Ignatius College; then, in 1932, he entered Sacred Heart of Jesus seminary, and later attended the Sacred Heart of Mary major seminary. Attracted to the spirituality and life of the Society of Jesus, in 1938 he began his novitiate, and on September 8, 1940 he made his first vows. Having concluded his studies in philosophy and theology at Xianxian (Hebei), he was ordained to the priesthood on May 19, 1945 in the cathedral of Shanghai.

Between 1947 and 1948 he completed his religious formation in Paris. Then, from 1948 to 1950, he attended the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome where he received a degree Theology. He spent his summer vacations in Germany, France, and England in order to learn the respective languages.

With the advent of the People’s Republic of China, he was called to return to his native country in 1950 and, following the political events at that time and the expulsion of foreign Jesuits, he was nominated the temporary rector of the regional seminary of Xuhui (Shanghai) in 1951.

Fr Jin Luxian was arrested the night of September 8, 1955 and was subject to a long interrogation, ending with a trial in 1960: he was sentenced to 18 years in prison, plus 9 years for rehabilitation. From 1963 to 1967 he was then detained at Qincheng (Pechino) prison where, by reason of his considerable knowledge of foreign languages, was made part of a group of inmate translators who worked for the State. In 1967 he was transferred to the rehabilitation centre in Fushun and in 1973 to another in Qincheng where he remained until 1975. He was then sent to a labour camp in Henan, and imprisoned again from 1979 to 1982: he was released after 27 years in prison.

In 1982 he received permission to reopen the seminary in Sheshan. In 1985 Fr Jin Luxian agreed to be consecrated bishop for the Diocese of Shanghai, but without papal approval. He obtained approval some 15 years later, becoming the coadjutor bishop of Shanghai, after having shown his fidelity to the pope and asking pardon for his illegitimate ordination.

The prelate was a key personality in the history of the Catholic Church in China over the last 50 years. He was a man of great culture. His preparation, his studies in Italy, his proficiency in various European languages and his human compassion allowed him to keep in contact with various personalities and enjoy the respect of many.

Under the leadership of Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian, the diocese of Shanghai developed a great deal. He had a powerful pastoral commitment, modernizing the dioceses in many ways and trying to ensure they remained under the leadership of the pastors, using also to this end the respect which the civil authorities had for him. He was particularly attentive to the preparation of new priests and religions, launching proper formation facilities, such as the Major Seminary, opened in 1985 in Sheshan (Shanghai), and giving back, at the same time, a greatly appreciated service not only to his dioceses, but also to China.
One of his final acts as bishop Jin wrote the pastoral letter on the occasion of the Chinese new year of the Dragon (January 23, 2012) with the title “Xu Guangqi: A Man for All Seasons.”

In it the Prelate invited the faithful to follow the example of Paul Xu Guangqi, the first high-ranking Catholic in the empire, friend of Fr. Matteo Ricci, by promoting the cause for his beatification.

There are 150,000 Catholics in the diocese of Shanghai, some one hundred priests, six deacons, 37 parishes, and 140 churches. In its territory is one of the Marian Shrine of Sheshan, a national pilgrimage site. The most important social institutions include the house for the elderly, a house for spiritual retreats, a soup kitchen, and the Typography of Qibao.

In 2012 he published the first volume of his memoirs, Learning and Re-learning 1916-1982, in which he recounts the most significant times in his life. A life in which he sought to keep the love of Christ and the Church alive, in loyalty to his country and culture.

Same-sex marriage referendum next year - if it is happening

https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEgnCaCY4DAJ0RYsb4XlcaSyKw1fq6h3rj82rwBOXr1VDLechYuc0hAdIZo7iFenwFhf4pHK2-c5zRw_2h3sEF8FBGBA23BktnOxLl7zsAb4a3hFFERqNAV7WVy6XtWGcZm571eGB59bNA/s1600/gay-ireland_gi.jpgTAOISEACH Enda Kenny has indicated the referendum on gay marriage will be held next year - if the Government goes ahead with it.

The independent think-tank, the Constitutional Convention, recently decided to recommend the holding of a referendum on gay marriage.

Mr Kenny said he expected that recommendation to come formally to the Government before the Summer break.

But, if it decided to proceed with the referendum, it would be next year.

Meanwhile, the referendum on the abolition of the Seanad will probably be held in October - the same month as Budget 2014.

But the Seanad won't be immediately scrapped, if the vote is passed, it will continue in existence until the next general election.

The Taoiseach said the Government will hold a number of votes on the same day.

He said the Cabinet agreed this morning to second vote would be on the setting up of a Court of Civil Appeal, which was aimed at clearing the backlog in that area.

He said the Government may decide to hold another referendum.

Mr Kenny said the coalition proposed to have the referendum in the Autumn "probably in the month of October".

"I can't be too definite on that," he said.

But Mr Kenny said there was a lot of business scheduled for that time of the year, including  the budget.

The Taoiseach said legislation will deal with the removal of all the references to the Seanad from the Constitution.

Appeal against €30m cathedral project rejected

http://www.ipml.ie/images/st-mels-cathedral.jpgPARISHIONERS are delighted after An Bord Pleanala ruled restoration work on a cathedral can go ahead.
The restoration committee of St Mel's Cathedral in Longford, which was gutted by fire on Christmas Day 2009, learned yesterday that the planning authority had rejected an appeal against plans for the second phase of the €30m project.

The second phase of work was given the go-ahead by Longford County Council last November but was appealed to An Bord Pleanala at the beginning of December.

The renovation includes changes to the location of the sanctuary and tabernacle as well as the installation of a lift.

The committee hopes to have a functioning cathedral in time for midnight Mass on Christmas Eve 2014.

SDLP’s complaint over flute band breach at St Patrick’s Church

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The commission ruled that a single drum beat was to be played as the parade passed the church. 

The SDLP’s Nichola Mallon said the PSNI had been contacted.

Around 20 nationalist protesters turned out to oppose the march at Clifton Street on Sunday. 

The area became a flashpoint after violence broke out last summer.

Bid to legalise same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland fails

Members of the LGBT community and their allies were present at Parliament Buildings to show support to the parties and individual members of the Assembly who intended to vote in favour of the motionA bid to legalise same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland has failed.

Unionists voted down a motion at Stormont's Assembly which called on the power-sharing ministerial Executive to legislate.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK without marriage rights for gay couples.

The issue sparked impassioned debate, with protests outside the legislature and verbal clashes between campaigners in favour of or opposed to the change. Amnesty International has warned of a likely legal challenge.

Sinn Fein South Down MLA Caitriona Ruane said: "Attitudes in Ireland are changing because people do not want to see people discriminated against.

"The gay community has said enough is enough, they are standing up for themselves and their communities."

She claimed young people were turning to suicide by because of the taunts.

"If they don't have an alternative voice to the vitriolic gay bashing they will internalise it," she said.

"There is no room for sitting on the fence on this, this is about fighting for all our children's rights."

Church leaders had urged Assembly members to vote against the legislation, with the Catholic church asserting marriage was between a man and a woman.

However, Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty's Northern Ireland programme director, said: "States may not discriminate with regards to the right to marry and found a family, on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity."

Today's petition of concern at the Assembly tabled by the largest unionist party, the Democratic Unionists, ensured Sinn Fein's motion would be defeated after a majority of unionists failed to back the change.

John O'Doherty, director of the Rainbow Project health organisation for gay men and a rights campaigner, said he would continue to press for change.

"This will be won slowly so we appreciate every vote that we got. We are disappointed with the outcome. It has always been a difficult march towards equality here but we will continue to fight the good fight."

A total of 95 members voted, 42 in favour including all nationalists. Three unionists out of 50 voted Yes. Former Ulster Unionists Basil McCrea and John McCallister voted Yes.

DUP Finance Minister Sammy Wilson defended his party's veto and said colleagues would use it again to defeat "reckless" legislation.

Church commemorates Pope St. Pius V on April 30

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/images/size340/St_Pius_V_CNA_World_Catholic_News_4_26_13.jpgA defender of Catholic doctrine and Christian civilization during the tumultuous 16th century, Pope Saint Pius V has his liturgical memorial on April 30.

The Dominican Pope is known for implementing the reforms of the Council of Trent, and for organizing the “Holy League” that defeated the Turkish naval fleet at the 1571 Battle of Lepanto.

Though St. Pius V’s pontificate was not extremely lengthy, it was a turning point in the history of the Church. 

In a 2004 letter for the fifth centenary of his predecessor’s birth, Blessed John Paul II mentioned some of St. Pius V’s groundbreaking achievements, which have continued to shape the liturgical and devotional life of the Christian West:

“He strove to apply faithfully the decrees of the Council of Trent: in the liturgical field, with the publication of the renewed (Tridentine) Roman Missal and the new Breviary; in the area of catechetics, by entrusting to parish priests in particular the ‘Catechism of the Council of Trent’; and as for theology, it was he who introduced St. Thomas' ‘Summa' into the universities,” Bl. John Paul II recalled in his tribute to St. Pius V.

“Conscious of the mission he had received from Christ the Good Shepherd, he devoted himself to tending the flock entrusted to him, encouraging daily recourse to prayer and making Marian devotion a priority. He contributed significantly to spreading it by giving strong encouragement to the practice of praying the Rosary, and he himself would recite the whole of it every day, despite his many exacting tasks.”

Born in the Italian region of Alessandria on Jan. 17, 1504, Michael Ghislieri belonged to a family that was living in poverty despite its distinguished past. He was taught by members of the Dominican Order, and chose to join them when he was only 14. After a decade of further study and formation, he became a priest in 1528.

In keeping with the Dominican tradition, Michael combined intense prayer and penance with intellectual rigor. He taught philosophy and theology, helped form new recruits, and led several houses of the order. His personal holiness and orthodoxy were acknowledged by Pope Paul IV, who made him a bishop in 1556 and a cardinal in 1557. During the same year he assumed leadership of the Holy Office of the Inquisition in Rome.

Against his own wishes, Michael was elected Pope in 1566. Taking the name of Pius V, the new Pope set an example for the faithful through acts of humility and charity. He visited the sick, washed the feet of the poor and suffering, and adopted a stripped-down lifestyle in accordance with his Dominican formation.

At the same time, the Pope had to address grave internal and external threats to the Church. Protestant forces had gained state support and were taking steps to extinguish the Catholic faith in some countries. 

Meanwhile, the Turks – having conquered Constantinople just over a century before – were advancing westward and asserting their sea power in the Mediterranean. Turkish forces attacked Malta in 1565, and conquered Cyprus in 1570.

While counteracting Protestantism through the Tridentine reforms, Pius also took steps to stop the spread of militant Islam. He brought together Spanish and Italian naval forces, together with those of the Papal States, under the command of Don John of Austria. Though seriously outnumbered, the “Holy League” won a dramatic and decisive battle against the Turkish fleet at Lepanto on Oct. 7, 1571.

Aided by the prayers of the Church, and particularly by the prayer of the Rosary, the Holy League’s victory secured Western Europe against Islamic domination for many centuries. Pius V instituted the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, each year on Oct. 7, to commemorate the victory and give thanks for the Blessed Virgin Mary’s intercessory role.

During 1572 Pope Pius V was working toward a new and broader alliance of Western Christian powers against expansionist Islam. The Pope did not live to carry out this plan, however, as he became ill and died on May 1 of that year.

Pope St. Pius V was canonized in 1712. Since that time, only one other Pope – St. Pius X – has been declared a saint.

Pope Emeritus Benedict ‘relieved to no longer have the weight of the Church’ on him, brother says

AP Photo/dpa, Waltraud GrubitzschThe former Pontiff, Pope Emeritus Benedict, is “relieved” to be free of the responsibility of running the Catholic Church, his elder brother has said, but he insisted that Benedict was not suffering from illness.

Father Georg Ratzinger, himself a priest, told The Daily Telegraph his younger brother was “very happy” to be living at Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer retreat south of Rome that he moved to after stepping down in February, becoming the first pope to resign in 600 years. 

Fr. Ratzinger, 88, who travelled from Germany to celebrate Benedict’s 86th birthday on April 16, said his brother “still suffers the problems of the Church, but is really relieved to no longer have the weight of the Church on his shoulders”.

Speaking by telephone from his house in Bavaria, Mr Ratzinger denied the pope emeritus was suffering from major ailments. “He is now very old, he does not have any particular illness, but he is weakening due to his age,” he said.

Pope Benedict cited advancing age when he announced his resignation amid reports that his hearing and sight were failing. It also emerged he had a pacemaker fitted a decade ago.

Peter Seewald, a German journalist said he had never seen Benedict look “so worn down” after a recent meeting.

Fr. Ratzinger first warned of his brother’s advancing age before he was elected pope in 2005 and then unnerved the Vatican with his frank comments about Benedict’s health while he was in office.

The brothers are known to be close, speaking weekly on the telephone, and Fr. Ratzinger said he knew of Benedict’s resignation months in advance. His comment about Benedict continuing to “suffer” the problems of the Church appeared to be a reference to the alleged infighting among the Vatican’s bureaucracy, details of which emerged when Benedict’s butler leaked his employer’s letters.

Since relinquishing the responsibility of overseeing the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, Benedict has spent his time praying, reading and playing the piano at Castel Gandolfo, which is situated on the rim of a volcanic lake, surrounded by acres of private gardens and Roman ruins.

He is due to move back to the Vatican when conversion work is completed at the residence he will live in.

Last week a controversial, warts-and-all portrait of him was unveiled in Rome. Painted by the German artist Michael Triegel and based on sketches made during Benedict’s general audiences, the portrait shows the German pope with hooded eyes and puffy features. 

On loan to the Vatican, it will be permanently hung in the German ambassador’s residence.

The painting received a mixed reception at an embassy event held to mark Benedict’s birthday. 

One cardinal reportedly said it made the pope emeritus look like he had “taken the wrong pills”.

Benedict is yet to see the portrait, but said his eyesight was so poor that it was unlikely to offend him.

Pope hints at possible changes to scandal-ridden Vatican bank

http://ncronline.org/sites/default/files/styles/home_slideshow/public/stories/images/VaticanBank.JPG?itok=5f88CltdPope Francis has indicated for the first time that he may make changes to the Vatican's scandal-ridden bank as part of a broad review of the Holy See's troubled administration.

Before Francis was elected last month, many of the cardinals who went on to choose him expressed concern about the harm done to the Church's image by three decades of scandals at the bank, which Italian magistrates are now investigating for money laundering.

A report last year by Moneyval, a European anti-money laundering body, found that the bank, officially the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), had failed to meet some of its standards on fighting financial crimes, and called for increased oversight.

In an impromptu sermon at a Mass for Vatican employees including staff from the bank, the pope said they should concentrate on the true mission of the Church and that Vatican departments were needed "only up to a certain point".

"The Church is not an NGO (non-governmental organization). It is a story of love," he said, according to a transcript published by Vatican Radio.

"I know that people from the IOR are here, so excuse me. Offices are necessary but they are necessary only up to a certain point."

It was the first time Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, had mentioned the Vatican bank in public since his election.

The account of the sermon in the Vatican's newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, omitted the mention, however. Italian media said this was a sign of conflict within the Vatican on how to deal with the bank.

Vatican sources have said the pope could restructure the IOR and has the power to close it if he wants to.

Italian media have reported that the bank, which currently answers to a commission of cardinals and enjoys great autonomy, could be placed under the control of another Vatican department to enable tighter control.

Famiglia Cristiana, Italy's leading Catholic weekly, has called for the funds in the IOR, which manages money mostly for dioceses and religious institutions, to be administered by an independent "ethical bank" external to the Vatican.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said he was not aware of any imminent changes affecting the bank.

Pope Francis has six mn followers on Twitter

https://blogger.googleusercontent.com/img/b/R29vZ2xl/AVvXsEgs_KqhQQzUlSGv_rYyaeuJSQ_7b77WhS5Zk6Xwp64WdBofM4hpbwfVXcEvWOrFjOlahodXg6NFL-X9piMGKaDWNuthidnHjyhHTtyqXcyElDhbRaKc9_OB2C87WEHSm69fO7emdd-VnSq7/s320/francis_tweet_cap_cross.pngSix million people are now tracking Pope Francis on his Twitter account @pontifex.

The Spanish version is reported to be the fastest-growing of the account's nine languages, with 2.046 million followers.

The latest of the Argentine pope's 21 tweets since his election was posted last Tuesday.

"Mary is the one who says 'Yes'. Mary, help us to come to know the voice of Jesus better, and to follow it," he wrote.

Coptic Orthodox leader to meet Pope Francis in May

http://www.stmarycocmi.org/Enthronement_H.H._Pope_Tawadros_II.jpgThe Coptic Patriarch of Alexandria Tawadros II will meet Pope Francis next month in the Vatican -- the first visit by a Coptic Orthodox leader in 40 years and the latest signs of growing ties between the new pope and the Orthodox world.

Tawadros will visit various Vatican departments and is set to stay in Rome for several days. His arrival is expected for May 10 or 11, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told AFP.

Tawadros' predecessor Shenouda III met with pope Paul VI in 1973 and the two launched a process of dialogue between their two Christian churches.

"The idea is to celebrate the 40th anniversary of that historic meeting," Lombardi said.

The visit will be part of a European tour during which Tawadros will visit different Coptic parishes -- his first foreign trip since his election in November at a time in which the Coptic minority is faced with rising Islamism in Egypt.

The meeting between Tawadros and Francis will be a further step in greater dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox, after the patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, became the first spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox to attend a papal inauguration of Francis in March.

Another sign of rapprochement is the fact that Tawadros last month attended the inauguration of the new Coptic Catholic patriarch, Ibrahim Sidrak, an unprecedented gesture.

Pope Plans to Visit Assisi, Home of St Francis

http://img.allvoices.com/thumbs/event/609/480/96902319-pope-francis.jpgPope Francis plans to visit Assisi, the birthplace of the Italian saint who inspired his name.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said Francis will probably make a pilgrimage to the Italian hill town sometime this year.

Vatican Radio on Thursday also quoted Vatican officials who recently visited Rio de Janiero as saying details for the pontiff's trip in late July to Brazil were taking shape. 

Francis will lead Catholic youths in rallies there.

The radio quoted Lombardi as saying otherwise Francis had no immediate travel plans. 

Lombardi said the pope is happy with his quarters in a Vatican hotel, instead of the Apostolic Palace where past pontiffs have resided. 

Lombardi said "for now" Francis is staying put in the hotel although his decision to live there isn't "definitive."

Lombardi: Rio, Pope's only international trip for 2013

http://media01.radiovaticana.va/imm/1_0_686273.JPGBrazil will be the only international destination for Pope Francis in 2013. 

This was stated by Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, in a meeting at the headquarters of the Foreign Press Association in Rome. 

"I invite you to not expect others to trips abroad this year," Father Lombardi said.

Pope Francis will travel to Rio de Janeiro for the 28th World Youth Day, to be held July 23 to 28, with the motto "Go and make disciples of all nations" (Mt 28, 19). 

And the Director of the Holy See Press Office did not rule out the publication this year of the Pope’s first encyclical remembering that Benedict XVI had already prepared the material on the topic of faith. 

Father Lombardi went on to say that the pope emeritus, who currently resides in Castel Gandolfo, is expected to move back to the Vatican, to the Monastery of Mater Ecclesiae, between late April and early May. 

Pope Francis, however, will continue to reside in the Casa Santa Marta, where "he is very well settled”. Father Lombardi added: “At the moment, he does not seem to want to change his dwelling, even if a final decision has not been made." 

In recent days, Dr. Alberto Gasbarri, who is in charge of all international papal journeys, traveled to Rio de Janeiro to finalize details of Pope Francis’ visit: "The program will follow the desires of the Pope," he said, recalling that the presence of the Holy Father is confirmed for the welcome ceremony, the Way of the Cross, the Vigil and closing Mass of World Youth Day, scheduled for Sunday, July 28 at the Campus Fidei, in Guaratiba.

Editorial: Sex abuse accountability should be universal law

In late February, Maltese Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna told Italian journalists, "From now on, no one" -- and when he said "no one" he meant the 117 cardinals coming to Rome for the conclave that would elect Pope Francis -- "will be able to say they know nothing about what goes on regarding clerical sex abuse." 

Efforts begun by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and continued by Pope Benedict XVI are "now a fundamental part of the church's response to sex abuse," Scicluna said. "It will be part of the leadership program of whoever is elected in the Sistine Chapel."

Scicluna, of course, is more than an auxiliary bishop from Malta. He was the prosecutor handling sex abuse cases for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for 10 years until he was made a bishop last year. He, under the leadership of Ratzinger as the doctrinal congregation's prefect, deserves credit for breaking the ecclesial logjam and beginning to move effectively against clergy who had abused children.

As we sort through Benedict's pontificate and his more than three-decades-long legacy at the top of the church hierarchy, it would be wrong to too easily dismiss what Benedict did to protect children from clergy sex abusers. This does not mean his record is blemish-free or that we agree entirely with the processes used by bishops and the Curia to handle cases of abuse brought against clergy. 

But there can be no doubt that the church and her children would be in a far worse position if Benedict had not taken control of these cases in 2002.

Chicago Cardinal Francis George acknowledged this in interviews he did before the conclave. "Whoever is elected pope ... he obviously has to accept the universal law of the church now, which is zero tolerance for anyone who's ever abused a minor child."

This seems to be a milestone for the church on this issue and a time for people who have long fought for it to be addressed to declare at least a small victory.

Scicluna concluded his interview saying that the "sore spots" in the church today are violations of the sixth and seventh commandments: sins against purity and theft. "We need to go back to the Gospel," he said. "Whoever is elected pope will have to continue Ratzinger's 'purification' work."

Which brings us to Francis and what could be the next phase in the Catholic church's struggle with this issue. Within days of the new pope's election, his record of handling clergy sex abuse as archbishop of Buenos Aires was called into question. 

John Allen looked into these allegations during his recent trip to Argentina. 

Allen's reporting indicates that apparently Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio handled cases of clergy sex abuse as any reasonable, cautious church leader of his generation would. We would suspect that he went through a learning process while acting within the constraints of civil and canon law.

To understand what his next steps as pope should be, it is helpful to know the circumstances under which Scicluna was being interviewed. The former prosecutor was being asked whether U.S. Cardinal Roger Mahony should attend and vote in the conclave. 

Just weeks before, the Los Angeles archdiocese had finally complied with a court order to release tens of thousands of documents that clearly showed Mahony and his lieutenants shuffling abuser priests from parish to parish, hiding their whereabouts from law enforcement and discussing legal strategies to keep abusers and the archdiocese safe from prosecution. 

The release of those documents was enough to cause the current archbishop of Los Angeles, José Gomez, to restrict Mahony from official archdiocesan duties. Mahony fought back with his personal blog, his Twitter account and his media savvy. He used his red hat to pull rank and forced Gomez to backpedal. 

Gomez declared that Mahony was still a priest and bishop in good standing. After hundreds of lives had been damaged and millions of dollars spent on futile legal delaying tactics, Mahony blithely boarded a plane for Rome, claiming a right to elect the new pope. Where is the justice in that?

Scicluna said the question of whether Mahony should join the conclave or not was a matter for the cardinal himself, a challenge for him to follow his conscience.

Mahony is Exhibit A for what Francis must do in the next phase of this crisis. It is no longer about frontline defense to protect children and remove offenders. The next phase of the crisis is all about accountability, the accountability of church leaders, bishops and chancery personnel who obstruct investigations or cover up crimes.

To date, the sex abuse crisis has been massively disruptive of the lives of priests and laypeople, but it has not made a huge difference in the lives of bishops because they have yet to be called to account. 

The Dallas Charter that can remove a priest or deacon from active ministry with one accusation of abuse is voluntary for bishops. Bishops in Lincoln, Neb., and Baker, Ore., have proven that, as have the leaders of seven Eastern rite eparchies in the United States who have never submitted to the charter. The bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., found guilty in two civil jurisdictions for failure to report suspected child abuse, remains in office.

Zero tolerance for clergy child abusers is now the universal law of the church. Francis' task is to lay down laws that will hold bishops liable for their actions and inactions, too. 

Bishops' accountability to the people they serve must also become the universal law of the church.

Outcry at memorial to victims of abuse

http://images.travelpod.com/tw_slides/ta00/a0e/404/garden-of-remembrance-garden-of-remembrance-dublin-dublin.jpgPLANS for a memorial to abuse victims in the Garden of Remembrance are being opposed by conservationists.
Permission is being sought by the Office of Public Works (OPW) to build a commemoration to the victims of institutional abuse.

But the Irish Georgian Society said it "strongly disagrees" with the proposals, which include a new landscaped civic area at the Parnell Square site.

The garden, which was visited by Queen Elizabeth in 2011, commemorates those who died in pursuit of Irish freedom.

However, the new installation would be a tribute to children who suffered at the hands of religious orders.

In a letter of objection to Dublin City Council, the Georgian society said Parnell Square is "one of the finest of Dublin's 18th-century urban set-pieces".

It has the potential to "become a catalyst for regeneration in the city's north Georgian core", it added.

The application "gives no regard" to plans for the "proper and sensitive" development of Parnell Square, the society said.

The memorial, which is "subterranean", would provide a "dank, unsafe space which will attract anti-social behaviour", said group conservation manager Emmeline Henderson.


Independent councillors Mannix Flynn and Nial Ring also objected to the plans, believing the development would detract from the Garden's original purpose.

The OPW has sought approval for a covered walkway connecting a new hard and soft landscaped civic area at the western end of the site.

The space is to incorporate seating, water installations, feature lighting and sculptured elements. Council planners are due to decide within days.

Monarchs should have separate coronation in independent Scotland, says Church

http://www.foggieloan.co.uk/marnochparish/logo.jpgThe Church of Scotland says monarchs should have a separate Scottish coronation in the event of the country becoming independent.

The proposal is outlined in a major report on Scottish independence by three Kirk councils – the Church and Society Council, the Committee on Ecumenical Relations, and the Legal Questions Committee.
If taken up by the Scottish Government, it would see the first monarch crowned in Scotland since Charles II at Scone Palace, Perthshire, in 1651.
The Church argues that a separate coronation ceremony for an independent Scotland would reaffirm the Church's firm commitment to the monarchy and serve as a reminder of the obligations of the monarch to uphold Scottish religious life and traditions, particularly his or her role with regard to the Church of Scotland.
Reverend Dr Doug Gay, co-author of the report and Principal of Trinity College, Glasgow University, said: "The Church of Scotland is a broad church with monarchists and republicans in its membership. However, officially and corporately it remains firmly committed to retaining the monarchy.
"The historic central view of the Church is that any monarch is King or Queen of the Scottish people, not the nation of Scotland. They rule only with the consent of the people.
"The Church would be in support of a Scottish Coronation to reflect this important role and to celebrate a unique relationship."
The councils also call for the Scottish Government's draft Scottish constitution to be published before the vote on independence in September 2014.
They argue it is critical that the country is able to debate the appropriate constitutional arrangements for governing an independent Scotland before people are asked to vote.
The report will be put forward for discussion at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in May.
It also affirms the Kirk's desire for a draft constitution to recognise the role of people of faith in public life, and its preference to see an independent Scotland become a member of the Council of Europe, acceding to the European Convention on Human Rights and its protection of the right to religious freedom.
The report makes clear that any constitutional settlement should acknowledge the lawfulness of the Articles Declaratory, which affirm that the Church of Scotland is a national church under the headship of Christ.
Co-author of the report and Principal of Trinity College, Glasgow University, the Reverend Dr Doug Gay said: "I welcome this report and I am looking forward to it being debated at the General Assembly in a few weeks' time.
"It is vitally important that we are able to see any draft Scottish constitution before the referendum on Scottish independence. I am hopeful that whatever the outcome of the independence vote, we will continue to build a pluralist society where the views of those of all faiths and none can be heard fairly and without fear of prejudice."
Addressing the call in the report for a continuing central role for religion in public life, Convener of the Church of Scotland's Church and Society Council, Sally Foster-Fulton said: "The Church believes that the best way for all of us to flourish is to celebrate the diversity of Scottish life and make a safe space for the expression of all faiths and none.
"We want to see a society which acknowledges a role in public life for religion as well as non-religion, one which recognises tradition, respects diversity, and promotes unity.

Bishop of Hereford speaks up for nuclear power

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/47174000/jpg/_47174830_priddis.jpgThe Bishop of Hereford wants to see more investment in the  development of energy through nuclear power.

Addressing the House of Lords, the Right Reverend Anthony Priddis said he hoped the target of an 85% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 would be achieved.

He proposed the development of thorium and molten salt reactors as an alternative to uranium and coal energy sources. 

"One tonne of thorium is equivalent to about 200 or more tonnes of uranium, which is equivalent to 3.2 million tonnes of coal, which would produce 8.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide and 900,000 cubic feet of waste fly ash. That is a no brainer when we are starting to be green and looking to be green," he explained.

"There is no argument about that, apart from one of cost, but it could be turned on its head and we could say, 'Can we not afford this? Is there a way to achieve those reductions without it?'. I do not think that there is."

The bishop said research and development were "vital", and that the Government should not rely on private enterprise but actively invest in this area.

"We are heading for a massive skill shortage unless we do something about this now and step up hugely the amount of money spent on research. It is greatly needed," he said.

"We are having such trouble finding anybody to build our reactors at the moment because we have trusted to private enterprise, and things of this scale have to be joined up and have government support.

"I would like us also to have something that is far more clear, coherent and comprehensive with a commitment from the Government to go for that, and then others would come aboard with university and other research money to follow."

The bishop went on to say that the national decommissioning authority needed to be given a remit that was "fit for purpose" and would "change the mindset so that some of what is regarded as waste can be regarded as fuel".

'Be vigilant,' Ann Widdecombe tells UK Christians

Ann Widdecombe has called on Christians to put pressure on the UK government to take action against persecution of Christians overseas – and to stop it developing here.

Speaking at an event held in south London, the former government minister and media personality warned that today's "small scale persecution" of UK Christians could dramatically worsen unless people began to "fight back".

Her message calling on Christians to "be extremely vigilant" was delivered to more than 200 people at St Mary's Church, Croydon.

The event was organised by Aid to the Church in Need, the Catholic charity for persecuted and other suffering Christians.

The former MP, who was speaking on the 20th anniversary of her conversion to Catholicism, said: "It's very easy to look at extreme cases abroad, to say thank God we don't have that here and then to overlook what we do have here, which is an increasing intolerance and marginalisation towards, and of, Christians."

Miss Widdecombe, who in 2011 was appointed ACN UK's special envoy for religious freedom, called on the UK government to "attach strings" to overseas aid to bring pressure to bear on countries where Christians are oppressed.

Saying that most countries where the state persecutes Christians receive UK government assistance, she added: "It was only a few months ago that the government said quite plainly that it would, when looking at its aid budget, take cognisance of whether a country had a record of persecuting or of tolerating homosexuals. Now if it can do it for those groups it can do it for Christians. And when it gives aid it can say to countries, we will withdraw that aid or we will reduce that aid if you carry on persecuting Christians."
Stressing the need to tackle state persecution, she said: "We are not talking about odd groups of zealots who might, in contravention of their country's law, perpetrate acts of violence against Christians or against Christians' properties, we are talking about where a state allows its own forces and agencies of law and order, such as its police force, to actually practise and promote persecution of a particular group."

She added: "The more representations that we make to the politicians, the more likely it is that pressure will be put on government not only to attach strings to its aid, but to raise it diplomatically."

Miss Widdecombe, Conservative MP for Maidstone and the Weald from 1987 to 2010, said the best way to do this was to write an individual letter about a specific country to your MP.

Turning to the UK, she said the main causes of "persecution" against Christians were equality legislation "and the over interpretation of it" and the view "that refusing to offend other faiths somehow involves surrendering our own".

Stating that anti-Christian "persecution" was new in the UK and was far worse abroad, she said: "If the small beginnings are not resisted then they grow into something much bigger."

She cited cases of discrimination of UK Christians in the workplace.

One involved an employee demoted for criticising gay marriage in private and another disciplined for wearing a small cross at work.

Referring to the latter, Miss Widdecombe added: "But isn't it odd that the person next to them can be wearing a hijab and the person a few rows down can be wearing a turban – and so they should be wearing their hijabs and so they should be wearing their turbans – but therefore so should the Christians be wearing their crosses."

She said: "If we all simply refuse to hide our crosses, refuse to refrain from saying things like 'God bless you' and 'Would you like me to pray for you?'… And if we all refuse to be cowed and bullied by that then we will be making a major contribution to the survival of and the thriving of Christianity in this country – which must not become a very tiny minority pursuit practised behind closed doors. But that is what it is in some other countries; even where it's not such a tiny minority it is driven behind closed doors."
Earlier, the MP praised ACN saying: "One of the reasons why I am so glad to be supporting Aid to the Church in Need is that there really are things that we can do [to help persecuted Christians] that over time bear fruit."

Vatican official says July trip to Brazil being tailored to new pope

Visiting Rio de Janeiro, the chief organizer of papal trips confirmed Pope Francis will participate in the key events of World Youth Day July 23-28 and he said other parts of the papal trip are being tailor-made for the new pope.

Alberto Gasbarri, the Vatican official who has worked on organizing papal trips since the pontificate of Blessed John Paul II, said, "We had a program fixed between October and November of last year, but a little detail changed -- we have a new pope."

"We had a tunic made to measure for one pope, and now we need to make another. The program will be updated" to fit the ideas and style of Pope Francis, Gasbarri said in a statement released by the Brazilian bishops' conference April 24.

After discussing the plans with Pope Francis, Gasbarri arrived in Rio April 23 to meet with Brazilian church officials and the local World Youth Day organizing committee as well as local, state and national government officials to review the plans and discuss ideas.

He said the main focus of the pope's July trip will be World Youth Day in Rio; while Gasparri did not mention other stops on the papal itinerary, Brazilian media reported that that the papal trip organizer visited the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida April 24.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who met the pope a few days after his election in March, said Pope Francis intended to visit the shrine, which is about 165 miles west of Rio.

The papal trip organizer confirmed that Pope Francis would participate in the events traditionally presided over by the pope. Those include a July 25 evening service at which the youth officially welcome the pope; the Way of the Cross service July 26; the nighttime vigil July 27; and the closing Mass July 28.

Gasbarri did not, however, release the exact dates or full itinerary of the pope's trip.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, told reporters April 25 that the Brazil event and a probable visit to Assisi were the only trips on the pope's schedule for the rest of 2013. He said he did not think the pope would visit Argentina in December, as some Argentine media have reported.

Pope Francis' first encyclical might be out this year, says spokesman

http://catholicview.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/pope_francis_southamerica3.jpgPope Francis may publish his first encyclical this year, the Vatican spokesman said.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi said he "would not exclude" the possibility of the publication of the pope's first encyclical "within this year," Vatican Radio reported.

The spokesman told reporters April 25 that retired Pope Benedict XVI had already "fleshed out material on the theme of faith" for an encyclical.

Vatican officials had said Pope Benedict completed work in late 2012 on what would have been his fourth encyclical -- a letter on the theological virtue of faith. Its release was expected in the first half of 2013, but the pope resigned Feb. 28 before its publication.

It is not unusual for a pope to pick up work begun by his predecessor, make changes and publish it in his own name. The second part of Pope Benedict's first encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est" ("God is Love"), was a discussion of Catholic charitable activity prepared under Blessed John Paul II. Nine months after Pope Benedict was elected, the document was released after the new pope reworked that section.

Father Lombardi also said that Pope Benedict, who has been living at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo since his retirement, would soon be moving -- as expected -- to a renovated building in the Vatican Gardens.

The retired pope should be moving to the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery between the end of April and early May, the spokesman said.

In the meantime, he said Pope Francis will continue to reside in the Vatican guesthouse where he has been staying since the beginning of the conclave that elected him, instead of the papal apartment in the apostolic palace.

The Domus Sanctae Marthae houses permanent residents as well as some guests who come to the Vatican for meetings.

Pope Francis "likes it there very much," the spokesman said, and, at the moment, it doesn't seem he wants to change his accommodations, even though no "final decision" has been made.