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Pope Francis' Christmas liturgies to take place without public

Vatican City, Oct 26, 2020 / 11:13 am ().- Pope Francis' Christmas liturgies at the Vatican will be offered without public participation this year, as countries continue to react to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a letter seen by CNA which was sent by the Secretariat of State to embassies accredited to the Holy See, Pope Francis will celebrate the Vatican liturgies of the Christmas season "in a private form without the presence of members of the diplomatic Corps."

The letter, which was sent by the section for general affairs Oct. 22, said the liturgies will be streamed online. Diplomats accredited to the Holy See usually attend papal liturgies as special guests.

Due to pandemic measures, including a two month nation-wide lockdown of Italy, Pope Francis also offered the 2020 Easter liturgies without the presence of the public.

Italy has seen a dramatic increase in positive coronavirus cases, as well as increased hospitalizations and deaths, in recent weeks, leading the government to issue new containment measures, including the full closure of gyms and theaters, and a 6pm closure for bars and restaurants except for takeout. Parties and receptions are also suspended. Since earlier this month, it has been mandated to wear face masks at all times in public, including outside.

During Advent and Easter, the pope's schedule of public liturgies and Masses is usually particularly full, with thousands participating in Masses at St. Peter's Basilica.

In past years the pope has offered a Dec. 12 Mass for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and a Dec. 8 ceremony and prayer at Rome's Piazza di Spagna for feast of the Immaculate Conception.

According to the 2020 schedule of public papal events published on the Vatican website, instead of a Mass Dec. 8, the pope will lead the Angelus in St. Peter's Square to mark the day.

During the Christmas season, the pope usually says Midnight Mass for the Nativity of the Lord in St. Peter's Basilica Dec. 24, and on Christmas Day he gives the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing from the central loggia of the basilica.

In past years he has also prayed First Vespers on Dec. 31 followed by a Mass on Jan. 1 for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God, both in St. Peter's Basilica.

These events are not listed on Pope Francis' public schedule for 2020, except for the Christmas Day "Urbi et Orbi" blessing. The pope is still slated to give all of his typical Angelus addresses and to hold the Wednesday general audience every week, except that of Christmas.

The schedule of public events does not extend past December 2020, so it is unclear whether Pope Francis will publically celebrate any of the liturgies of January 2021, including Mass for Epiphany Jan. 6.
It is also unknown if Pope Francis will next year baptize the children of Vatican employees and say a private Mass for them and their families for the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, per his tradition.

Pope Francis: 'The times we live in are times of Mary'

Vatican City, Oct 26, 2020 / 04:22 am ().- Pope Francis said Saturday that the times we live in are the “times of Mary.”

The pope made the remark at an Oct. 24 event marking the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Pontifical Theological Faculty “Marianum” in Rome.

Speaking to an estimated 200 students and professors from the theological faculty in the Paul VI Audience Hall, the pope said that we are living in the time of the Second Vatican Council.

“No other Council in history has given Mariology as much space as that dedicated to it by Chapter VIII of ‘Lumen gentium,’ which concludes and in a certain sense summarizes the entire Dogmatic Constitution on the Church.” he .

“This tells us that the times we live in are times of Mary. But we need to rediscover Our Lady from the perspective of the Council,” he urged. “Just as the Council brought to light the beauty of the Church by returning to the sources and removing the dust that had settled on it over the centuries, so Mary’s wonders can be rediscovered best by going to the heart of her mystery.”

In his address, the pope highlighted the importance of Mariology, the theological study of Mary.

“We could ask ourselves: does Mariology serve the Church and the world today? Obviously the answer is yes. To go to Mary’s school is to go to the school of faith and life. She, teacher because disciple, teaches well the basics of human and Christian life,” he said.

The Marianum was founded in 1950 under the direction of Pope Pius XII and entrusted to the Servite Order. The institution publishes “Marianum,” a prestigious journal of Marian theology.

In his address, the pope focused on Mary’s role as a mother and a woman. He said that the Church also possessed these two characteristics.

“Our Lady rendered God our brother, and as a mother she can render the Church and the world more fraternal,” he said.

“The Church needs to rediscover her maternal heart, which beats for unity; but our Earth also needs to rediscover it, to return to being the home of all her children.”

He said a world without mothers, which focused on profits alone, would have no future.

“The Marianum is then called to be a fraternal institution, not only through the beautiful family atmosphere that distinguishes you, but also by opening new possibilities for collaboration with other institutions, which will help to broaden horizons and keep up with the times,” he said.

Reflecting on the womanhood of Mary, the pope said that “as the mother makes the Church a family, so the woman makes us a people.”

He said it was no coincidence that popular piety was centered on Mary.

“It is important that Mariology follows it with care, promotes it, sometimes purifies it, always paying attention to the ‘signs of the Marian times’ that run through our age,” he commented.

The pope observed that women played an essential role in salvation history and that therefore they were essential for both the Church and the world.

“But how many women do not receive the dignity due to them,” he lamented. “Woman, who brought God into the world, must be able to bring her gifts in history. Her ingenuity and style are needed. Theology needs it, so that it is not abstract and conceptual, but sensitive, narrative, alive.”

“Mariology, in particular, can help bring to culture, also through art and poetry, the beauty that humanizes and instills hope. And it is called to seek more worthy spaces for women in the Church, starting from the common baptismal dignity. Because the Church, as I said, is woman. Like Mary, [the Church] is a mother, like Mary.”

Pope Francis prays for peace and justice in Nigeria

Vatican City, Oct 25, 2020 / 07:00 am ().- Pope Francis appealed for an end to violence in Nigeria after reciting the Angelus Sunday.

Speaking from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square Oct. 25, the pope said he prayed that peace would be restored “through the promotion of justice and the common good.” 

He said: “I follow with particular concern the news coming from Nigeria about the recent violent clashes between law enforcement agencies and some young protesters.” 

“We pray to the Lord that all forms of violence will always be avoided, in the constant search for social harmony through the promotion of justice and the common good.” 

Protests against police brutality erupted in Africa’s most populous country Oct. 7. Demonstrators called for the abolition of a police unit known as the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

The Nigerian Police Force said Oct. 11 that it would disband SARS, but demonstrations continued. Armed men opened fire on protesters Oct. 20 in the capital, Lagos, killing at least 12 people, according to Amnesty International. Nigeria’s army denied responsibility for the deaths. 

Nigerian police said Saturday that they would “use all legitimate means to halt a further slide into lawlessness,” amid looting and further street violence.

Around 20 million of Nigeria’s 206 million population are Catholics. 

In his before the Angelus, the pope meditated on the day’s Gospel reading (Matthew 22:34-40), in which a scholar of the law challenges Jesus to name the greatest commandment.

He noted that Jesus replied by saying “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

The pope suggested that the questioner wanted to draw Jesus into a dispute about the hierarchy of laws. 

“But Jesus establishes two essential principles for believers of all times. The first is that moral and religious life cannot be reduced to an anxious and forced obedience,” he explained. 

He continued: “The second cornerstone is that love must tend together and inseparably toward God and toward neighbor. This is one of Jesus’ primary innovations and it helps us understand that what is not expressed in love of neighbor is not true love of God; and, likewise, what is not drawn from one’s relationship with God is not true love of neighbor.”

Pope Francis noted that Jesus ended his reply by saying: “The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

“This means that all the precepts the Lord has given to his people must be related to love of God and neighbor,” he said. 

“In fact, all the commandments serve to implement and express that twofold indivisible love.”

The pope said that love for God is expressed above all in prayer, especially adoration. 

“We neglect the adoration of God so much,” he lamented. “We make the prayer of thanksgiving, the supplication to ask for something... but we neglect adoration. Worshiping God is the very core of prayer.”

The pope added that we also forget to act charitably towards others. We fail to listen to others because we find them boring or because they use up our time. “But we always find time to chat,” he observed.

The pope said that in Sunday’s Gospel Jesus directs his followers to the source of love. 

“This wellspring is God himself, to be loved completely in a communion that nothing and no one can break. A communion that is a gift to be invoked each day, but also a personal commitment not to let our lives become enslaved by the idols of the world,” he said.

“And the proof of our journey of conversion and holiness always consists in love of neighbor ... The proof that I love God is that I love my neighbor. As long as there is a brother or sister to whom we close our hearts, we will still be far from being disciples as Jesus asks us. But his divine mercy does not allow us to be discouraged, but rather calls us to begin anew each day to live the Gospel consistently.”

After the Angelus, Pope Francis greeted the residents of Rome and pilgrims from around the world who had gathered in the square below, spaced out to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. He singled out a group called “Cell of Evangelization,” attached to the Rome Church of St. Michael the Archangel. 

He then the names of 13 new cardinals, who will receive the red hat at a consistory on Nov. 28, the vigil of the First Sunday of Advent.

The pope concluded his Angelus reflection by saying: “May the intercession of Most Holy Mary open our hearts in order to welcome the ‘great commandment,’ the twofold commandment of love, which encapsulates all of God’s Law and on which our salvation depends.”

Pope Francis to create 13 new cardinals, including Washington Archbishop Gregory

Vatican City, Oct 25, 2020 / 06:00 am ().- Pope Francis said Sunday that he will create 13 new cardinals, including Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory, at a consistory on Nov. 28, the vigil of the First Sunday of Advent.

The pope his intention to add to the College of Cardinals from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, after leading the Angelus Oct. 25.

Gregory, who was appointed Archbishop of Washington in 2019, will become the first Black cardinal of the United States. 

Other cardinals-designate include Maltese Bishop Mario Grech, who became of the Synod of Bishops in September, and the Italian Bishop Marcello Semeraro, who was prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints earlier this month. 

Also receiving the red hat is the Italian Capuchin Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, who has served as the Preacher to the Papal Household since 1980. Aged 86, he will not be eligible to vote in a future conclave.

Others appointed to the College of Cardinals include Archbishop Celestino Aós Braco of Santiago, Chile; Archbishop Antoine Kambanda of Kigali, Rwanda; Archbishop Jose Fuerte Advincula of Capiz, in the Philippines; and Bishop Cornelius Sim, Vicar Apostolic of Brunei.

Also elevated to the rank of cardinal are Archbishop Augusto Paolo Lojudice, former Rome auxiliary bishop and current Archbishop of Siena-Colle di Val d’Elsa-Montalcino, Italy; and Fra Mauro Gambetti, Custos of the Sacred Convent of Assisi.

Alongside Cantalamessa, the pope named three others who will receive the red hat but be unable to vote in conclaves: Emeritus Bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico; Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, Permanent Observer Emeritus to the United Nations Office and Specialized Agencies in Geneva; and Msgr. Enrico Feroci, parish priest of Santa Maria del Divino Amore at Castel di Leva, Rome.

Cardinal-designate Gregory hit the headlines in June this year, when he strongly criticized U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to the John Paul II Shrine in Washington, D.C., amid clashes between police and protesters.

“I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people even those with whom we might disagree,” he said.

“St. Pope John Paul II was an ardent defender of the rights and dignity of human beings. His legacy bears vivid witness to that truth. He certainly would not condone the use of tear gas and other deterrents to silence, scatter or intimidate them for a photo opportunity in front of a place of worship and peace,” he added.

It later that Gregory had been aware of Trump’s visit to the shrine days before he had initially appeared to be.

Gregory served as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from 2001 to 2004. He was the archbishop of Atlanta from 2005 to 2019.

Context of pope’s ‘civil union’ documentary comment reported

CNA Staff, Oct 24, 2020 / 04:42 pm ().-  

A fuller context of remarks from Pope Francis on civil unions in a recent documentary has emerged, while questions continue to surround the documentary, and the Vatican has not responded to requests for comment.

“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered,” the pope is seen to say in a documentary released Wednesday, during a scene in which he talks about pastoral care for those who identify as LGBT.

“I stood up for that,” Pope Francis is seen to add.

The documentary, “Francesco,” made global headlines because of the pope’s apparent call for civil union legislation, a contrast to the position of his papal predecessors on the question.

While filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky told CNA and other journalists that Pope Francis made comments calling for the passage of civil union laws directly to him, it later emerged that the comments were actually part of a 2019 interview of Pope Francis conducted by Mexican journalist Valentina Alazraki.

It was subsequently revealed that several sentences spoken by the pope in the documentary were spliced together, out of context, from the 2019 interview, and journalists have since then asked questions about the precise nature of the pope’s remarks on civil unions.

The civil union remark was not contained in the published version of Alazraki’s interview, and has not been available to the public. But published Oct. 24 the apparent context of the pope’s remark on civil unions.

During a discussion on the pope’s opposition to a same-sex marriage proposal when he was an archbishop in Argentina, Alazraki asked Pope Francis if he had adopted more liberal positions after becoming pope, and if so, whether that was attributable to the Holy Spirit.

Alazraki  asked: “You waged a whole battle over egalitarian weddings, of couples of the same sex in Argentina. And later they say that you arrived here, they elected you pope and you appeared much more liberal than what you were in Argentina. Do you recognize yourself in this description that some people who knew you before make, and was it the grace of the Holy Spirit that gave you a boost? (laughs)”

According to the pope responded that: “The grace of the Holy Spirit certainly exists. I have always defended the doctrine. And it is curious that in the law on homosexual marriage…. It is an incongruity to speak of homosexual marriage. But what we have to have is a law of civil union (ley de convivencia civil), so they have the right to be legally covered.”

The last sentence

It is not clear when the pope said “I stood up for that,” or if that sentence references the remark on civil unions. The magazine also did not indicate how it had obtained the footage omitted from the publicly aired interview.

A found that comments from the pope presented in the documentary before his remarks on civil unions were heavily edited, with various phrases from the 2019 interview strung together as presented as a cohesive whole.

The translation of the pope’s phrase “convivencia civil” has also been disputed.

Some commenters have suggested that the pope’s Spanish phrase is not properly translated as “civil union.” However, Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, a long-time theological advisor to Pope Francis, That post has since been deleted.

The Vatican press office has not responded to requests for clarification about the pope’s comments.


The Order of Malta: Serving in a time of crisis 

Vatican City, Oct 24, 2020 / 12:25 pm ().-  

Doctors, hospitals, and governments across the world have struggled to respond to the still-unfolding coronavirus pandemic. Taking the strain along with them is the Sovereign Military Order of Malta – the thousand-year-old Catholic religious order, medical aid organization, and international diplomatic entity.

Present in 120 countries, with over 2,000 projects in the medical-social field, and more than 120,000 volunteers and medical staff, the order functions as an emergency relief organization in many developing areas and crisis zones.

As the order works to cope with increasing need for its services, it is also grappling with an ongoing process of internal reform. A years-long process to change the order’s governing constitution has been put on hold, following the death of the Grand Master, Fra’ Giacomo Dalla Torre, earlier this year, and the recent fall from grace of Cardinal Angelo Becciu, whom Pope Francis had named in 2017 as his personal delegate to oversee the order’s “moral and spiritual” renewal.

This week, CNA spoke to the order’s Grand Chancellor – effectively the chief operating officer - Albrecht Freiherr von Boeselager, about a crucial period for the historic order and its work.

Boeselager told CNA that, while it is in a time of flux at the top, the order remains focused on its medical mission during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The order fortunately is organized in a very horizontal way,” he said. “The situation [in the order’s headquarters in Rome] does not affect in any way the ongoing, many different services of the order – which as you can imagine are in many countries under great stress due to the corona crisis.”

During the pandemic, many national associations and relief corps of the order have scaled up or even launched new projects to help treat COVID-19 patients.

“It’s very, very different,” Boeselager said, explaining that the order has tried to retool its medical missions to respond to the global health crisis.

In Italy, coronavirus wards and hospitals have been set up by the order’s relief corps, and many facilities in Germany, France and other European countries are now dedicated to patients with coronavirus.

Boeselager said that most of the Order’s entities are supporting national health authorities in triage operations, transportation of patients, and in test administration. In Africa and Asia many other projects have been converted into health, sanitation and virus prevention schemes to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“We had to change many of our projects,” he said. “Even if Africa is not so much affected by the incidence of the illness, the precautionary measures [taken by local governments] are quite similar – in many countries we have the great challenge to get food to children who would normally have one or two meals a day in schools, which are now closed. These were the only substantial meals for many, many of those children.”

Working in Italy, where a second wave of the virus has caused a surge in cases, the order’s volunteer corps set up two dedicated field hospitals for coronavirus patients which came online towards the end of the first peak in the spring.

“When they were first opened [at the end of the first wave],” Boeselager told CNA, “they were not much needed anymore, but they may be needed again now. The hospital in Milan is already being prepared to receive patients again.”

Further from its base in Rome, but closer to its historical roots in the Middle East, Boeselager explained that the order remained deeply committed to its work in Lebanon, where overflow from the Syria civil war has taken a rolling toll on the country and triggered an ongoing refugee crisis. More recently, a massive explosion in the capital Beirut decimated large parts of the city, triggering further economic crisis and the resignation of the government.

“The crisis in the Middle East is the core of our concern,” Boeselager told CNA. “We have huge activities in Lebanon, Iraq, and also some in Syria.”

Boeselager said the order’s Lebanese association is “probably the only organization with good contacts with all of the eighteen other confessions in the country.”

“We run nine clinics, some of them as formal joint ventures with Sunnis, Shi’ites, and the Druze. In the south, we have a clinic in cooperation with the Shi’ites, where the nurses are Muslim and wear the burqa, but on the burqa is the cross of the order!”

The still-ongoing civil war in neighboring Syria has had a deep impact on Lebanon. Boeselager told CNA the order had set up a clinic in a heavily Sunni area on the northern border with Syria.

The order is unique in that, while it has no territory, it is a sovereign entity under international law – with its own passports, diplomatic relationships, and permanent observer status at the United Nations. Boeselager said that this diplomatic independence was crucial to is ability to work in war-torn regions like the Syrian border, without be perceived as a tool of any side of government.

“We were warned about going there,” he told CNA, “because it was said it would be too dangerous for Christians, and we were advised not to put the cross of the order on the mobile clinic.”

In fact, after the order established its presence in the region, it found that its Christian presence was not only accepted but adopted as an essential part of bringing peace to the area.

“After four weeks of operation, the elder of the local village asked us to put the cross up on the clinic to have it better visible and protected because the order is so respected. And then we were told that in the small waiting room, one day they found leaders of three different rebel groups meeting under pretext of needing medical care to discuss ceasefires.”

Boeselager said the order’s diplomatic neutrality and Christian identity among the different Muslim groups, is essential, not just for delivering its humanitarian aid but also for fostering peace.

“People in armed conflict have a sixth sense,” he said. “They know somebody is there only to help, or whether there is a hidden other agenda.”

“This is where you see our status in international law becomes so important,” he said. “You can see also how the religious identity is important, because in most Muslim countries – not in all – it is easier to work for a Christian organization than a secular organization.”

“Historically, the service to the poor is first,” said Boeselager, “this has always been in the foreground for us.”

“This and the order’s call to promoting, witnessing, protecting the faith are two sides of the same coin. It is creating a space where the faith can be promoted and is possible. The way the order promotes the faith is in combination in its work.”

“We are not theologians, we are not liturgists, our vocation is to promote the faith and serve the poor together.”


Pope Francis meets with Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez

Vatican City, Oct 24, 2020 / 07:00 am ().- Pope Francis met with Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez at the Vatican Saturday.

The Vatican said Oct. 24 that the pope received the Socialist leader in a private audience for approximately 35 minutes at the Apostolic Palace. 

In improvised remarks that were , the pope reflected on the vocation of politicians and highlighted the dangers of ideological thinking.

“It is very sad when ideologies take over the interpretation of a nation, a country, and disfigure the homeland,” he said.

Sánchez later held talks with Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Secretary for Relations with States, the Vatican’s equivalent of a foreign minister.

“The talks in the Secretariat of State focused on bilateral relations and issues of common interest that concern the Holy See and Spain,” the Holy See press office said.

“The opportunity for constant dialogue between the local Church and government authorities was also emphasized.”

“Finally, some international issues were discussed, such as the current health emergency, the process of European integration, and migration.”

Sánchez, the leader of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, has previously clashed with the Church in Spain over and , among other issues. 

In July, he claimed that Pope Francis had intervened to help the government carry out the controversial exhumation of the body of Francisco Franco, Spain’s ruler from 1939 to 1975, from the Valley of the Fallen on Oct. 24, 2019.

This prompted the Holy See to insisting that it had never “made any declaration on either the exhumation or the place of burial, because it is not part of its competency.”

“On the question of Francisco Franco’s exhumation, [the Holy See] has repeated on various occasions its respect for the legality and the decisions of the competent governmental and judicial authorities,” it said.

During his audience with Pope Francis, Sánchez gave the pope a facsimile of a Book of Hours by Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca, a counselor to Ferdinand and Isabella, the 15th-century Catholic Monarchs of Spain.

The pope gave Sánchez a copy of his encyclicals, as well as a bronze relief. The artwork, by Daniela Fusco in collaboration with Michele Palazzetti, expresses the themes of mercy, welcome, and fraternity, according to the Vatican.

Pedro Sánchez ha regalado al Papa un facsímil del Libro de horas del obispo Juan Rodríguez de Fonseca. Y el una copia de sus Encíclicas y este relieve de bronce con “mensaje”, símbolo de misericordia, acogida y fraternidad.

— Eva Fernández (@evaenlaradio)  

The relief depicts a mother with a child in her arms at the entrance to the colonnades of St. Peter’s Square. Behind her, there are other migrants in a boat on the water. Two hands are joined in front of the mother and child. 

Beneath are written the words “Riempiamo le mani di altre mani” (“Let’s fill our hands with other hands”), which the Vatican said referred to the pope’s appeals to welcome others and show mercy.

After the audience, Sánchez expressed gratitude for his meeting with the pope. 

“We agreed to address the crisis caused by COVID-19 from a multilateralist perspective and with a social outlook; protecting the most vulnerable and moving forward, all of society united, towards a more just and solidary world,” he  on Twitter. 

Pope Francis names new Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

Vatican City, Oct 24, 2020 / 04:06 am ().- Pope Francis named Italian Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa as the new Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Saturday.

Pizzaballa has served as apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem since 2016, while the office of Latin Patriarch has remained vacant. 

The Oct. 24 appointment ends a four-year wait for the estimated 293,000 Latin Catholics in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan, and Cyprus for a new patriarch. 

Pizzaballa, a 55-year-old Franciscan friar, has lived in the Holy Land since 1990. The former Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land succeeds Jordanian-born Patriarch Emeritus Fouad Twal, who led the patriarchate from 2008 to 2016.

When Pizzaballa was appointed apostolic administrator, the Latin Patriarchate was on the verge of bankruptcy from debts amounting to more than $100 million.

In an with EWTN News in Rome on Wednesday, Pizzaballa said: “They have been four difficult years. I had a very clear mandate: first to put order in the administration.”

He reorganized the patriarchate’s financial management, put in place new internal and external controls, and created more transparency.

He was able to pay the debt with help from international donations, by cutting expenses, and with some property sales in Nazareth.

As apostolic administrator, Pizzaballa oversaw the patriarchate together with the Italian-born auxiliary Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, whose resignation, for the reason of age, was accepted by Pope Francis in August.

Pizzaballa -- who speaks Italian, Hebrew, and English -- told EWTN News that he was also given the task of improving the pastoral situation in the Holy Land, including creating more unity among the priests and the different Christian communities in Jordan, Israel, Palestine, and Cyprus.

He wanted to show “what we have in common,” he said. “And to create understanding, trust, among the different communities in the same diocese.”

“In the beginning, it was very difficult. But once we have been transparent, I felt that all the community was very supportive and so we could overcome all our problems and turn the page finally,” he said.

Pizzaballa was born in Cologno al Serio, Bergamo, Italy, on April 21, 1965. He joined the Franciscans in 1984, making his solemn profession in 1989. He was ordained to the priesthood on September 15, 1990. A month later, he moved to the Holy Land, studying biblical theology at the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum in Jerusalem.

He served as Vicar of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem for the pastoral care of Hebrew-speaking Catholics in Israel. He oversaw the publication of the Roman Missal in Hebrew in 1995.

He was Custos of the Holy Land -- the major superior of the Friars Minor in the Middle East -- from 2004 to 2016. He was appointed apostolic administrator sede vacante of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem on June 24, 2016.

One of Pizzaballa’s most pressing challenges as Latin Patriarch will be to help Latin Catholics in the Holy Land to , which has had a severe economic impact on the community.

The Latin Patriarchate welcomed the news of Pizzaballa’s appointment.

“With feelings of joy and gratitude, the family of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem, Amman, Nazareth, and Cyprus, in particular the bishops, patriarchal vicars, priests, deacons, seminarians, religious men and women, consecrated men and women, the People of God in all the parishes as well as the workers in the diocesan institutions, congratulates the new Patriarch wishing His Beatitude success in carrying out his exceptional responsibilities, especially in these unusual circumstances,” the patriarchate said in an Oct. 24. .

“May His Beatitude be granted good health and divine blessing to continue serving our Local Church, while promoting peace, justice, and reconciliation.”

Analysis: How the Washington Post is opening the path to use the pope against the Catholic Church

Denver Newsroom, Oct 23, 2020 / 11:05 pm ().-  

Amid an international fracas over Pope Francis’ words on civil unions in a newly released documentary, the pope’s remarks have begun to be used to criticize Catholic organizations facing ongoing religious liberty challenges in the U.S. – despite the pope’s very public alignment with these organizations on the issues of same sex marriages and adoptions.

In “Francesco,” a documentary that premiered Wednesday, Pope Francis called for the passage of civil union laws, saying that homosexual couples need to be “covered” by the state.

The pope also affirmed that “homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family,” emphasizing that “nobody should be thrown out” of a family because of homosexuality, or “be made miserable.” Since the documentary’s release, , while in the film they are presented absent this context, the result of heavy editing, with ambiguous implications.

The pope’s remarks have been distorted  to suggest a tacit endorsement of adoption by same-sex couples, something Pope Francis has actually consistently opposed during – and prior to– his pontificate.

The Supreme Court is set to hear on Nov. 4, a case that could impact faith-based adoption and foster care agencies affected by state and local non-discrimination ordinances around the country.
In 2018, the city of Philadelphia notified Catholic Social Services, as well as Bethany Christian Services, that their policies of not working with same-sex couples on foster care placements were discriminatory; the city stopped contracting with both services.

Catholic Social Services declined to alter its policy and has not had any new foster care placements through the city.

Litigation against the city was filed by Sharonell Fulton and Toni Simms-Busch, who have fostered more than 40 children. The lawsuit has now made its way to the Supreme Court.

On Wednesday, :

“The U.S. Supreme Court will soon hear a case about whether a Catholic social services agency is entitled to continue receiving public funds if it refuses to place children in foster care with same-sex couples. Is the church’s position in that case consistent with the pope’s humane assessment that all people are entitled to enjoy the blessings of family life?”

The Post’s editorial did not reference the Pope’s clear record on the issue of such adoptions.  

The pope does not support the adoption of children by same-sex couples. He has said that through such adoptions children are “deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God.” He has also said that “every person needs a male father and a female mother that can help them shape their identity.”

In fact, , the pope’s long-standing opposition to gay marriage is, in part, motivated by his basic Catholic understanding that children should have both a mother and a father. In Argentina, it is well known that Francis’ openness to a civil union law in 2010 was based on his hope that compromise on civil unions would forestall gay marriage, and with it the redefinition of the family.

Efforts to redefine the family through same-sex marriage, “threaten to disfigure God’s plan for creation and betray the very values which have inspired and shaped all that is best in your culture.”

Despite that evidence, it seems unlikely that the Washington Post will be the last outlet or organization to make use of the pope’s words to suggest that Catholic organizations should change their policies.

While his meaning was not the same, the pope’s assertion that same-sex couples “have a right to a family,” makes use of a phrase that has been used by LGBT activists in many countries for the past two decades to insist on the legal right for gay couples to adopt. That phrase, quite apart from the context, is almost certain to become a rallying cry for advocates who want to claim falsely the pope’s support for their initiatives, both in the U.S., and elsewhere.

On Thursday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro asked his country’s legislature to consider a same-sex marriage bill, citing the words of the pope. In the developing world, Maduro will not be the last politician to use that approach.

While spin is rampant, and is likely to increase, and while the Holy See has yet to address the controversy, one thing is clear: there is no evidence to suggest that pope has deviated from his long and public opposition to same sex marriage and adoption by same sex couples.  


Two more Swiss Guards test positive for the coronavirus

Vatican City, Oct 23, 2020 / 01:00 pm ().- The Pontifical Swiss Guard announced Friday that two more of its members have tested positive for the coronavirus. 

The world’s smallest but oldest standing army said in a Oct. 23 that a total of 13 guards had now contracted the virus, following tests on every member of the corps. 

“No guards were hospitalized. Not all guards necessarily show symptoms such as fever, joint pain, coughing, and loss of sense of smell,” the unit said, adding that the guards’ health would continue to be monitored.

“We hope for a prompt recovery so that the guards can resume service in the best possible way, in health and safety,” it said.

The Vatican last week that an initial four Swiss Guards had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Responding to journalists’ questions Oct. 12, Holy See press office director Matteo Bruni said that the four guards had been placed in isolation following positive tests.

Citing the Governorate of Vatican City State’s to combat the virus, he explained that all guards would wear face masks, both indoors and outdoors, regardless of whether they were on duty. They would also observe all other rules intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The corps, which has 135 soldiers, Oct. 15 that seven more of its members had tested positive for the virus, taking the then total to 11. 

Italy was one of Europe’s worst-hit countries during the first wave of the coronavirus. More than 484,800 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and 37,059 have died in Italy as of Oct. 23, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. 

The Italian health ministry said Friday that the country had recorded 19,143 new cases over 24 hours -- a new daily record. Some 186,002 people are currently confirmed positive with the virus in Italy, with 19,821 of those in the Lazio region, which includes Rome.

Pope Francis to the Swiss Guards in an audience Oct. 2.

He told them: “The time you will spend here is a unique moment in your existence: may you live it with a spirit of brotherhood, helping one another to lead a life rich in meaning and joyfully Christian.”

Vatican extends plenary indulgence for the dead throughout November

Vatican City, Oct 23, 2020 / 10:00 am ().- The Vatican has extended the availability of certain plenary indulgences for the souls in Purgatory, amid concerns about avoiding large gatherings of people in churches or cemeteries and including those confined to home due to the pandemic.

According to a Oct. 23, certain indulgenced acts, which can help to remit the temporal punishment due to sin for those who have died in a state of grace, can be obtained throughout the entire month of November 2020.

The decree was signed by Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, major penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

In an interview with Vatican News, Piacenza said that bishops had requested an extended timeframe for the plenary indulgence, considering the importance of the commemoration of the feasts of All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1 and All Souls’ Day on Nov. 2.

In the interview, Piacenza said that, although the availability of livestreamed Mass was good for the elderly who cannot attend the liturgy in person, “some people have gotten a little used to celebrations on television.”

This “can mark a certain disinterest in presence in [liturgical] celebrations,” he said. “There is therefore a pursuit by the bishops to implement all possible solutions to bring people back to the Church, always respecting everything that needs to be done for the particular situation in which we unfortunately find ourselves.”

Piacenza also noted the importance of the availability of the sacraments during the feasts of All Saints and All Souls, which for some countries can have very high sacramental attendance and participation.

With the penitentiary’s new decree, those who cannot leave home can still participate in the indulgence, and others can have more time to attend Mass, to receive the sacrament of confession, and to visit the cemetery, while still following local coronavirus measures on crowds, he said.

The decree also encouraged priests to make the sacraments as widely available as possible during November.

“For an easier attainment of divine grace through pastoral charity, this penitentiary earnestly prays that all priests endowed with the appropriate faculties offer themselves with particular generosity to the celebration of the sacrament of Penance and to administering Holy Communion to the sick,” the decree said.

Plenary indulgences, which remit all temporal punishment due to sin, must be accompanied by full detachment from sin.

A Catholic who wishes to obtain a plenary indulgence must also fulfill the ordinary conditions of an indulgence, which are sacramental confession, reception of the Eucharist, and prayer for the intentions of the pope. Sacramental confession and reception of the Eucharist can occur within a week of the indulgenced act.

In the month of November, the Church has two traditional means of obtaining a plenary indulgence for the souls in Purgatory. The first is to visit a cemetery and pray for the dead during the Octave of All Saints’ Day, which is Nov. 1-8.

This year, the Vatican decreed that this plenary indulgence can be obtained on any day in November.

The second plenary indulgence is connected to the Feast of All Souls’ Day on Nov. 2, and can be received by those who piously visit a church or oratory on that day and recite the Our Father and the Creed.

The Vatican said that this plenary indulgence has also been extended and is available to Catholics throughout the month of November to reduce crowds.

Both indulgences must include the three ordinary conditions and full detachment from sin.

The Vatican also said that, because of the health emergency, the elderly, the sick, and others who cannot leave the house for serious reasons can participate in the indulgence from home by reciting prayers for the deceased before an image of Jesus or the Virgin Mary.

They must also spiritually unite themselves to other Catholics, be completely detached from sin, and have the intention of fulfilling the ordinary conditions as soon as possible.

The Vatican’s decree offered examples of prayers that homebound Catholics can pray for the dead, including lauds or vespers of the Office for the Dead, the rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, other prayers for deceased among their family or friends, or performing a work of mercy by offering their pain and discomfort to God.

The decree also said that “since the souls in Purgatory are helped by the suffrages of the faithful and especially with the sacrifice of the Altar pleasing to God ... all priests are warmly invited to celebrate three times the Holy Mass on the day of the commemoration of all the faithful departed, in accordance with the ‘,’ issued by Pope Benedict XV, of venerable memory, on August 10, 1915.” 

Piacenza said that another reason they are asking priests to say three Masses on Nov. 2 was to allow more Catholics to be able to attend.

“Priests are also exhorted to be generous in the Ministry of Confessions and in bringing Holy Communion to the sick,” Piacenza said. This will make it easier for Catholics to be able “to offer prayers for their deceased, to feel them close, in short, to encounter all these noble sentiments that go into creating the Communion of Saints.”

Mexican broadcaster: Vatican held back Pope Francis' words on same-sex civil unions in 2019 interview footage

Vatican City, Oct 23, 2020 / 08:50 am ().-  

A Mexican broadcaster said Thursday that the Vatican held back footage from a 2019 interview that it conducted with Pope Francis, in which the pope called for the passage of civil union laws for same-sex couples. That footage appears in a documentary on Pope Francis released this week, but the Vatican has not yet explained the situation.

A spokesman for Televisa told the Washington Post Oct. 22 that “Someone at the Vatican gave us the part that we did broadcast, and later they gave the rest of the material to someone else.”

The missing footage appeared in the documentary “Francesco,” directed by Evgeny Afineevsky, which premiered Wednesday in Rome, prompting a global media firestorm.

The Vatican has not addressed why the comments that were excised from the interview it sent to Televisa later appeared in the documentary.

Teresa Villa, a spokeswoman for Televisa, confirmed to the New York Times on Thursday that the pope made the statement about civil unions in an interview with the broadcaster’s Vatican correspondent, Valentina Alazraki, which took place last year. The interview was recorded with Vatican-owned cameras, and the network was given footage of the interview — but apparently not all footage — after the interview.

While Alazraki’s interview was released by Televisa June 1, 2019, Pope Francis’ comments on civil union legislation were not included in the published version, and had not previously been seen by the public.

According to the Times, two other people close to the company, who asked not to be identified, said that the interview was filmed with Vatican cameras and the Vatican had control over the footage. The two sources also said that Francis’ comments on same-sex unions were cut from the version of the interview footage Televisa received from the Vatican.

The interview Pope Francis gave to Televisa appeared to have been shot in the same place, with the same lighting and the same appearance as the pope’s comments on civil unions, which drew questions this week about the statement’s origin, with conflicting reports coming from different sources.

Afineevsky, who said he was given access to Vatican archival video footage during the documentary’s years-long production, told CNA and other journalists on Wednesday that Pope Francis’ comment in support of legalizing same sex civil unions was made during an interview the director himself conducted with Pope Francis. Televisa’s statement and analysis of the footage contrast that account.

Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ, director of the Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica, said on Wednesday evening “there is nothing new” in the pope’s remarks on civil unions.

In a video released by Tv2000, a media apostolate of the Italian bishops’ conference, Spadaro said that “the director of the film ‘Francesco’ compiles a series of interviews that have been conducted with Pope Francis over time, giving a great summary of his pontificate and the value of his travels.”

“Among other things, there are various passages taken from an interview with Valentina Alazraki, a Mexican journalist, and within that interview Pope Francis speaks of a right to the legal protection of homosexual couples but without in any way affecting doctrine,” Spadaro said.

“This is an interview given a long time ago that has already been received by the press,” Spadaro added, apparently unaware that the pope’s remarks on civil unions had not previously been released.

Tv2000 is not affiliated with the Vatican, and Spadaro is not a Vatican spokesman.

Also on Wednesday, the priest told the Associated Press that “there’s nothing new because it’s a part of that interview,” adding that “it seems strange that you don’t remember.”

Other aspects of the “Francesco” documentary have been called into question by journalists in recent days.

On Thursday, .

The Vatican has not responded to questions or requests from media about Pope Francis’ expression of support for legal same-sex civil unions.


Report: Vatican requests evidence in Becciu embezzlement investigation

Rome Newsroom, Oct 23, 2020 / 08:00 am ().- Vatican prosecutors have requested evidence from Rome in an ongoing investigation into allegations that Cardinal Angelo Becciu used Secretariat of State funds to help family members, according to an Italian newspaper.

La Repubblica reported Friday that Vatican prosecutors have sent letters rogatory to Rome’s public prosecutor’s office as they investigate claims that Becciu used his position to give money to companies owned by several of his brothers. Letters rogatory are a formal request from courts in one country to the courts of another country for judicial assistance.

The Italian cardinal has insisted that the accusations that he misused Vatican funds to benefit his brothers are false.

Becciu as prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints and from the rights extended to members of the College of Cardinals Sept. 24, reportedly in relation to concerns about his management of Vatican financial affairs, including the controversial purchase of a London apartment.

But following the resignation, new reports emerged claiming that Becciu, the former “sostituto,” or second-ranking official, at the Vatican’s Secretary of State, may have directed Vatican and Italian bishops’ money to go toward “loans” for projects owned and operated by his brothers.

The Vatican’s recent request to Rome’s prosecutor’s office was for information to help “clarify” some of the financial and familial relationships of Becciu, according to the La Reppubblica report.

The Vatican request, which has not been independently confirmed by CNA, was reportedly asking for information about the relationship between Caritas of Rome, the charitable arm of the Diocese of Rome, and a company called Angel’s srl, of which Becciu’s brother, Mario, is majority partner and legal representative.

Angel’s produces a beer, and the company has a partnership with Caritas of Rome to affix the charity’s label to its bottle and, in return, give the charity 5% of its sales. There appear to be questions about whether the charity ever received the sales money.

The Vatican’s promoter of justice is reportedly looking into this agreement, which may also violate Italian fiscal law.

Vatican prosecutors are also reportedly looking into three non-repayable “loans” sent to an Italian company called Spes Cooperative, which is the operational arm of the diocesan Caritas of Becciu’s former diocese of Ozieri in Sardinia. The owner and legal representative of Spes Cooperative is Becciu’s brother, Tonino.

The business is reported, according to La Repubblica, to have received 600,000 euros from the Italian bishops' conference for repairs and adjustments to structures, as well as the modernization of a furnace for the Diocese of Ozieri, between 2013 and 2015.

An additional 100,000 euros received by Spes Cooperative in 2018 reportedly came from Peter’s Pence, the pope’s charitable fund made up of Church-wide donations, managed by the Secretariat of State, and under the control of Becciu while he was sostituto. There seem also to be questions about whether these funds were used for their ostensible charitable purpose.

After initial reports at the end of September, Becciu denied any guilt, saying that he “may have made a mistake out of too much love for my diocese, but I do not see the crime. I am ready to shout the truth,” Il Fatto Quotidiano reported. 

The Becciu family also released a statement Sept. 25, saying that news reports that members of their family received financial favors from their brother, the cardinal, were “unfounded and maliciously false, in particular for the imaginative and unprovable references to alleged donations from Peter’s Pence.” 

Argentine archbishop and Pope Francis advisor says 'civil union' not mistranslated in documentary

CNA Staff, Oct 22, 2020 / 03:04 pm ().-  

Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, a long-time theological advisor to Pope Francis, has weighed in on the meaning of a phrase used by the pope in a video clip in “Francesco,” a documentary released Wednesday in Rome. The phrase, which is translated as “civil unions,” is at the center of a series of controversies about the documentary.

“Francesco,” a newly released documentary on the life and ministry of Pope Francis, made global headlines this week, because the pope appears to call for civil union legislation, in contrast to the positions of his predecessors.

“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered,” the pope is seen to say in the documentary, during a scene in which Pope Francis talks about pastoral care for those who identify as LGBT.

The pope is seen to use the Spanish-language phrase “convivencia civil,” which is translated in the film’s subtitles as “civil union.” After some Spanish-speaking priests said the translation was inaccurate, Archbishop Fernandez, a theologian who has long been close to the pope, said that the pope’s phrase is substantially equivalent to the phrase “civil union.”

Fr. Augustino Torres, CFR, a New York-based priest who works in youth ministry, posted a video on Wednesday saying he believes “the pope was misunderstood, misquoted, misinterpreted.”

In an October 21 , Torres said the original Spanish makes clear that the pope’s comments are not an endorsement of civil unions.

The priest said the phrase that has been translated by the media as “civil union” is actually better translated as “law of civil convivience” or “civil coexistence.”

By using this phrase, Torres said, Pope Francis is talking about some kind of legal protection, which the priest did not specify, but not a homosexual civil union.

But Fernández, Archbishop of La Plata, Argentina, said Wednesday that the pope’s term connotes a civil union as the term is commonly understood.

The archbishop posted on Facebook that before he became pope, then-Cardinal Bergoglio “always recognized that, without calling it ‘marriage,’ in fact there are very close unions between people of the same sex, which do not in themselves imply sexual relations, but a very intense and stable alliance.”

“They know each other thoroughly, they share the same roof for many years, they take care of each other, they sacrifice for each other. Then it may happen that they prefer that in an extreme case or illness they do not consult their relatives, but that person who knows their intentions in depth. And for the same reason they prefer that it be that person who inherits all their assets, etc.”

“This can be contemplated in the law and is called ‘civil union’ [unión civil] or ‘law of civil coexistence’ [ley de convivencia civil], not marriage.”

“What the Pope has said on this subject is what he also maintained when he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires,” Fernández added.

“For him, the expression ‘marriage’ has a precise meaning and only applies to a stable union between a man and a woman open to communicating life…there is a word, ‘marriage,’ that only applies to that reality. Any other similar union requires another name,” the archbishop explained.

Fernandez said this view reflects the pope’s stance as a bishop in Argentina, when he proposed to brother bishops, during a 2010 debate over gay marriage in the country, that accepting civil unions might be a way to prevent the passage of same-sex marriage laws in the country.

On Wednesday, the bishops' conference of Argentina shared Fernandez' explanation on Twitter.


Compartimos la reflexión de Monseñor Víctor Manuel Fernández (), Arzobispo de La Plata. ⬇

— Conferencia Episcopal Argentina (@EpiscopadoArg)  

The Vatican has not responded to questions about the documentary, or whether the pope’s comments represent his view on civil unions, but the prefect of the Vatican’s communications office, Paolo Ruffini, has seen the documentary and praised it.


Pope Francis' homosexuality comments heavily edited in documentary, Vatican has no comment on civil unions

CNA Staff, Oct 22, 2020 / 12:20 pm ().-  

“Francesco,” a newly-released documentary on Pope Francis, contains comments from the pope on homosexuality and civil unions. Some of the remarks, however, are the result of editing distinct phrases from a papal interview and presenting them as a cohesive whole.

While filmmaker Evgeny Afineevsky told CNA and other journalists that Pope Francis made comments calling for the passage of civil union laws directly to him, the comments actually appear to come from a 2019 interview of Pope Francis conducted by Mexican journalist Valentina Alazraki.

The pope’s comments on civil unions have not been disputed by the Vatican despite multiple requests for clarity. The remarks were not contained in the published version of Alazraki’s interview, and have not been seen by the public except in “Francesco.”

On Wednesday, however, Fr. Antonio Spadaro, director of the influential journal La Civiltà Cattolica, told journalists that the pope’s remarks on civil unions are excerpted from the 2019 interview, and did not dispute the way in which they were presented in the documentary.

At the same time, a CNA analysis of the interview’s transcript shows that other papal comments on homosexuality featured in “Francesco” were compiled by heavy editing of the 2019 interview’s video footage.

“Francesco” presents Pope Francis saying the following, in remarks about his approach to pastoral care:

“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it.”

While the pope did say those words on camera, he did not say them in that order, or use those phrases in immediate proximity.

CNA has bolded the appearance of those words in an excerpted translation of the pope’s remarks during his 2019 interview:

“I was asked a question on a flight - after it made me mad, made me mad for how one news outlet transmitted it - about the familial integration of people with homosexual orientation, and I said, , people with homosexual orientation have a right to be in the family and parents have the right to recognize that son as homosexual, that daughter as homosexual. .”

“Another thing is, I said when you see some signs in the children and from there send them to -  I should have said a ‘professional,’ what came out was ‘psychiatrist.’ I meant to say a professional because sometimes there are signs in adolescence or pre-adolescence that they don’t know if they are homosexually oriented or if it is that the thymus gland didn’t atrophy in time. Who knows, a thousand things, no? So, a professional. The title of the daily paper: ‘The Pope sends homosexuals to the psychiatrist.’ It’s not true!”

“They asked me the same question another time and I repeated it, ‘, and such.’ Another thing is - and I explained I was wrong with that word, but I meant to say this: When you notice something strange - ‘Ah, it’s strange.’ - No, it’s not strange. Something that is outside of the usual. That is, not to take a little word to annul the context. There, what I said is that they ‘have a right to a family.’ And that doesn’t mean to approve of homosexual acts, not at all.”


After the presentation of those edited remarks, the pope is seen to say in “Francesco” that “What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered. I stood up for that.”

While those remarks seem certainly to come from the Alazraki interview, Francesco director Evgeny Afineevsky has told reporters otherwise, and the section of the Alazraki interview in which they would have come was not included in the published version, and is not available to the public.

But in addition to their context, some have called their meaning into question, suggesting that a phrase used by the pope, “convivencia civil,” was mistranslated by “Francesco” as “civil unions” in the film’s subtitle, and actually suggests a different kind of legal recognition.

But on Wednesday Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, a theologian who has long been close to the pope, suggested that the pope’s phrase is substantially equivalent to the phrase “civil union.”

The archbishop that before he became the pope, then Cardinal-Bergoglio “always recognized that, without calling it ‘marriage,’ in fact there are very close unions between people of the same sex, which do not in themselves imply sexual relations, but a very intense and stable alliance. They know each other thoroughly, they share the same roof for many years, they take care of each other, they sacrifice for each other. Then it may happen that they prefer that in an extreme case or illness they do not consult their relatives, but that person who knows their intentions in depth. And for the same reason they prefer that it be that person who inherits all their assets, etc. This can be contemplated in the law and is called ‘civil union’ [unión civil] or ‘law of civil coexistence’ [ley de convivencia civil], not marriage.”