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Vatican says 5th Catholic bishop consecrated under China agreement

Vatican City, Jul 28, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

A Vatican spokesman confirmed Wednesday that the fifth bishop to be created under the 2018 Vatican-China deal has been ordained.

Anthony Li Hui was appointed coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Pingliang by Pope Francis on Jan. 11, according to spokesman Matteo Bruni.

Bruni said that Bishop Li was ordained in the Cathedral of Pingliang, in the province of Gansu, on July 28.

Pingliang, in north-central China, has a wider metropolitan population of more than two million people.

According to , the 49-year-old Bishop Li was consecrated by Archbishop Joseph Ma Yinglin of Kunming, president of the state-sanctioned Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in China.

Bishops’ conference vice president Bishop Joseph Guo Jincai and Bishop Nicolas Han Jide of Pingliang were concelebrants.

Representatives of the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, a state-endorsed organization founded in 1957, were also present.

Li was born in 1972 in Mei county in the province of Shaanxi. He was ordained a priest for Pingliang diocese in 1996. He also studied the Chinese language at Renmin University in Beijing.

Starting in 1998, Li worked at the secretariat office of the Chinese bishops’ conference and the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association in Beijing.

Before his appointment as bishop, Li was secretary of the Chinese bishops’ conference.

In October 2020, the Vatican and China their provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops for another two years.

Bishop Antonio Yao Shun of Jining, in the Autonomous Region of Inner Mongolia, was the consecrated in China under the terms of the Sino-Vatican agreement, on Aug. 26, 2019.

Bishop Li is the third bishop to be consecrated since the deal’s renewal.

Cardinal Becciu present at first day of Vatican finance trial

Vatican City, Jul 27, 2021 / 11:15 am (CNA).

Cardinal Angelo Becciu was present Tuesday on the first day of a major Vatican finance trial to defend himself of charges of embezzlement and abuse of office.

Becciu is one of 10 defendants in what is the Vatican’s for financial crimes in the modern era. The cardinal is going before the Vatican tribunal for the first time since Pope Francis norms in April to allow cardinals and archbishops to be tried by lay judges.

In a statement through his lawyer July 27, the cardinal said he that he was “calm” and awaited the continuation of the trial in order to prove his innocence of all the accusations against him.

“Cardinal Becciu, after today’s hearing, renews his confidence in the Tribunal, the impartial judge of the facts hypothesized only by the Promoter of Justice, as yet without any confrontation with the defense and with a view to the presumption of innocence,” the statement from lawyer Fabio Viglione said.

Defendant Msgr. Mauro Carlino, who worked in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and is charged with extortion and abuse of office, was also present at the seven-hour hearing on Tuesday. The remaining eight defendants were absent but represented by their lawyers.

The hearing took place in a multipurpose room of the Vatican Museums recently adapted for use by the court. The next audience was scheduled by the court for Oct. 5 after several of the defense lawyers asked for more time to prepare.

Some 30 lawyers attended the hearing, with some making motions and raising complaints about procedural issues.

In this trial, the Vatican court of first instance is made up of a three-judge panel consisting of tribunal president Giuseppe Pignatone, and two Italian law professors: Venerando Marano and Carlo Bonzano.

According to a Vatican judge, only Italian businessman Gianluigi Torzi’s absence from the courtroom July 27 was justified, due to him being under precautionary measures while awaiting extradition to Italy at the request of Italian authorities.

At the center of the case on trial is the Secretariat of State’s of a building at 60 Sloane Avenue in London. It was bought in stages between 2014 and 2018 from Italian businessman Raffaele Mincione, who at the time was managing hundreds of millions of euros of secretariat funds.

Vatican prosecutors maintain that the deal was problematic and designed to defraud the Secretariat of State of millions of euros.

Becciu as prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and from the rights extended to members of the College of Cardinals on Sept. 24, 2020.

The cardinal worked previously as the number two-ranking official in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, the powerful curial department at the center of the investigation of financial malfeasance.

Msgr. Alberto Perlasca, Becciu’s former chief deputy at the Secretariat of State, was also investigated as part of the London property scandal, but is not among the defendants in this summer’s trial.

Vatican prosecutors identified Perlasca’s testimony, provided over the course of several interviews, as being important for reconstructing “some central moments” in the affair.

But at Tuesday’s hearing, a defense lawyer argued that Perlasca’s testimony from five interviews, in which he had no lawyer present, should be considered “inadmissible.”

A Vatican prosecutor argued that the depositions were legitimate because they were videotaped and “voluntary.”

Becciu said in a statement he will be suing Perlasca and Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui, another person questioned by investigators, “for slander for the very serious and completely false statements made during the investigations to the Promoter of Justice.”

The cardinal told journalists in the courtroom at the end of the hearing that he is “obedient to the pope who sent me to trial, I have always been obedient to the pope, he entrusted me with many missions in my life, he wanted me to come to trial and I am coming to the trial. I am calm, I feel calm in conscience, I have the confidence that the judges will be able to see the facts well and my great hope is the certainty that they recognize my innocence.”

Other defendants in the finance trial include several employees of the Secretariat of State: Fabrizio Tirabassi, who oversaw investments, will be tried on charges of corruption, extortion, embezzlement, fraud, and abuse of office.

Mincione has been charged with embezzlement, fraud, abuse of office, misappropriation, and self-money laundering.

Torzi, who was brought in to broker the final negotiations of the Vatican’s purchase of the London property in 2018, has been charged with extortion, embezzlement, fraud, misappropriation, money laundering, and self-money laundering.

His associate, the lawyer Nicola Squillace, faces the same charges minus extortion.

Enrico Crasso, who managed investments for the Vatican for over 25 years, was investigated on suspicions he was working together with Mincione and Tirabassi to defraud the Secretariat of State.

Crasso, who is the manager of the in which the Holy See is the principal investor, faces the most charges: corruption, embezzlement, extortion, money laundering, self-money laundering, fraud, abuse of office, falsifying a public document, and falsifying a private document.

The Vatican has also charged three corporations owned by Crasso with fraud.

Cecilia Marogna, a self-described security consultant, is accused of embezzlement after a Vatican investigation into reports that she received of euros from the Vatican’s Secretariat of State in connection with Becciu, and that she had spent the money on luxury goods and vacations.

Marogna acknowledged receiving the money but insisted that the funds went to her Vatican security consultancy work and salary.

Marogna’s Slovenian-based company, Logsic Humanitarne Dejavnosti, D.O.O., is also being brought to trial on the charge of embezzlement.

The last two defendants are René Brülhart and Tommaso Di Ruzza, who previously led the Vatican’s internal financial watchdog.

Di Ruzza is charged with embezzlement, abuse of office, and violation of confidentiality.

Brülhart is being prosecuted for abuse of office. Both men have .

Pope Francis to UN chief: World hunger ‘a crime that violates basic human rights’

Vatican City, Jul 27, 2021 / 03:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis described world hunger on Monday as “a crime that violates basic human rights.”

In a July 26 to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, the pope called for a “new mindset” in the battle against malnutrition.

“We produce enough food for all people, but many go without their daily bread. This ‘constitutes a real scandal,’ a crime that violates basic human rights,” he said, quoting from his 2020 .

“Therefore, it is everyone’s duty to eradicate this injustice through concrete actions and good practices, and through bold local and international policies.”

The pope sent the message to the U.N. chief at the start of the of the U.N. Food Systems Summit in Rome. The event, held on July 26-28, is seeking to build momentum ahead of the in New York in September.

The U.N. estimates that that people -- 8.9% of the world population -- suffer from hunger, an increase of almost 60 million in five years.

“If we want to guarantee the fundamental right to an adequate standard of living and fulfill our commitments to achieve , it is not enough to produce food,” wrote the pope, who to the Vatican on July 14 after undergoing colon surgery.

“We need a new mindset and a new holistic approach and to design food systems that protect the Earth and keep the dignity of the human person at the center; that guarantee sufficient food globally and promote decent work locally; and that feed the world today, without compromising the future.”

Pope Francis has consistently highlighted world hunger since his election in 2013.

He last year to the World Food Programme as the U.N. organization worked to feed 270 million people amid rising hunger caused by the coronavirus crisis.

The pope the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization in June that the pandemic should spur efforts to create a global food system capable of withstanding future shocks.

In his message to Guterres, who is a , the pope said: “We are aware that individual, closed, and conflicting -- but powerful -- economic interests prevent us from designing a food system that responds to the values of the common good, solidarity and the ‘culture of encounter.’”

“If we want to maintain a fruitful multilateralism and a food system based on responsibility, justice, peace and the unity of the human family is paramount.”

“The crisis we are currently facing is indeed a unique opportunity to engage in authentic, bold, and courageous dialogues, addressing the roots of our unjust food system.”

Pope Francis offers blessing to athletes at Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

Vatican City, Jul 26, 2021 / 04:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis offered his blessing on Sunday to athletes competing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

In his Angelus on July 25, the pope noted that the Games of the XXXII Olympiad began in Japan on July 23.

“Last Friday, the 32nd Olympic Games opened in Tokyo. In this time of pandemic, may these Games be a sign of hope, a sign of universal brotherhood under the banner of healthy competition,” he said.

“God bless the organizers, the athletes, and all those who collaborate in this great festival of sport!”

The world’s most-viewed international sporting event was postponed in March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The event, which ends on Aug. 9, is taking place largely without spectators.

The Catholic archbishop of Tokyo has visiting athletes and coaches to refrain from attending local Catholic churches due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

Among the 11,656 athletes from 206 nations are committed Catholics such as U.S. gymnast Grace McCallum. At just 18 years old, she is competing in the team gymnastics events along with Simone Biles, Sunisa Lee, and Jordan Chiles.

McCallum does not travel anywhere without her rosary and a cross from her grandmother, the Central Minnesota Catholic magazine reported in 2019.

“She travels with those things to kind of bring her peace and calm,” her mother, Sandy McCallum, the magazine.

Tokyo is also hosting the Summer Paralympic Games, from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.

Among the competitors will be Mahira Bergallo Brzezicki, a 19-year-old Argentine athlete.

Bergallo, who was born with cerebral palsy, will compete in the shot put wearing a “bracelet with a cross.”

“I cling to faith a lot. God occupies a very large place in my life. God guided me and he guided me to where I am today,” she ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner.

“I always said to God to show me who I was. As a child, I asked myself ‘who am I?’, ‘what am I in this world for?’ and he showed me things that can only come from him.”

“Today I know what my path is and which way I have to follow and I’m more than happy to confirm it. I think this is and was what I was hoping for, and it’s even better.”

Pope Francis: With our small offering, Jesus can do great things

Vatican City, Jul 25, 2021 / 05:10 am (CNA).

With our small offering, Jesus can do great things, just like when he multiplied five loaves and three fishes to feed thousands, Pope Francis said Sunday.

“It would be good to ask ourselves every day: ‘What do I bring to Jesus today?’” the pope said during his weekly Angelus message July 25.

Speaking from a window of the apostolic palace, Francis said Jesus “can do a lot with one of our prayers, with a gesture of charity for others, even with one of our sufferings handed over to His mercy.”

“[We give] our small things to Jesus and he works miracles. This is how God loves to act: He does great things, starting from small, freely-given ones.”

Pope Francis has been convalescing at the Vatican since being released from hospital 10 days after undergoing colon surgery July 4. During July, the pope typically does not hold public audiences or meetings, though he has continued to give his weekly Angelus address.

On Sunday he reflected on the day’s Gospel passage from St. John, which recounts Jesus’ miracle of the multiplication of five loaves and two fishes to feed 5,000 people.

The pope said it is interesting that Jesus does not create the food from nothing; his disciples ask one boy to share everything he has to eat: “It seems to be an unreasonable proposal. Actually, unjust.”

“Why take away from one person what is not enough to feed everyone anyway?” he continued. “In human terms, it is illogical. But not for God. On the contrary, thanks to that small freely-given and therefore heroic gift, Jesus is able to feed everyone.”

“This is a great lesson for us. It tells us that the Lord can do a lot with the little that we put at His disposal,” he underlined.

Francis explained that this is the logic of Jesus Christ, and a quality holy people throughout history have demonstrated.

We often try “to accumulate and increase what we have, but Jesus asks us to give, to diminish,” he said.

Drawing attention to the tragedy of hunger which exists in the world today, he cited calculations which estimate that around the world, 7,000 children under the age of five die every day due to malnutrition.

He said “faced with scandals such as these, Jesus also addresses an invitation to us, an invitation similar to the one probably received by the boy in the Gospel, who has no name and in whom we can all see ourselves.”

The invitation is to “be brave, give what little you have, your talents and your possessions, make them available to Jesus and to your brothers and sisters. Do not be afraid, nothing will be lost, because if you share, God will multiply. Banish the false modesty of feeling inadequate, trust yourself. Believe in love, believe in the power of service, believe in the strength of gratuitousness.”

After praying the Angelus in Latin, Pope Francis recalled that July 25 this year marks

He asked people gathered in St. Peter’s Square to offer a round of applause for grandparents.

“Grandparents and grandchildren, young and old together manifested one of the beautiful faces of the Church and showed the covenant between the generations,” he said, inviting people to visit the lonely older members of our society.

“I ask the Lord that this celebration will help us who are more advanced in years to respond to his call in this season of life, and to show society the value of the presence of grandparents and the elderly,” he stated.

Noting that the 32nd Olympic Games began in Tokyo on July 23, Pope Francis said “in this time of pandemic, these games are a sign of hope, a sign of universal fraternity in the name of healthy competition.”

“God bless the organizers, the athletes and all who collaborate for this great celebration of sports.”

The pope also expressed his sympathy after a heavy rainfall in Zhengzhou, the capital city of China’s Henan province, caused floods killing at least 33 people last week.

The dramatic floods, which caused landslides and overwhelmed dams, have submerged neighborhoods and trapped passengers in subway cars, according to CNN.

Henan authorities said last week the heavy rains in the province have displaced hundreds of thousands of people and caused an estimated $190 million in economic damage.

Pope Francis said he is praying for the victims and their families and expressed his solidarity with those who are suffering from the tragedy.

Pope Francis on Grandparents’ Day: Elderly are not ‘leftovers from life’

Vatican City, Jul 25, 2021 / 03:30 am (CNA).

On the first World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, Pope Francis said he is worried about how an individualistic society treats its older members, and he urged young people to give them love and attention.

“I worry when I see a society full of people in constant motion, too caught up in their own affairs to have time for a glance, a greeting or a hug,” the pope said in a homily read by Archbishop Rino Fisichella July 25.

“Our grandparents, who nourished our own lives, now hunger for our attention and our love; they long for our closeness. Let us lift up our eyes and see them, even as Jesus sees us,” he stated.

Pope Francis’ homily was read during a Mass for around 2,500 elderly people and grandparents, together with their children and grandchildren, held in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Mass, scheduled to be said by the pope, was instead celebrated by Fisichella, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, while Pope Francis is convalescing at the Vatican after undergoing

During July, Francis typically takes a break from public audiences and other meetings, though he has continued to give his weekly Sunday Angelus address.

In the pope’s homily, he reflected on the Gospel passage from St. John, which recounts the story of when Jesus fed multitudes through the miracle of the five loaves and two fishes.

Francis pointed to the last part of the passage, when Jesus directed his disciples to collect the leftover pieces of bread, so that “nothing may be lost.”

“This reveals the heart of God,” he said. “Not only does he give us more than we need, he is also concerned that nothing be lost, not even a fragment.”

“A morsel of bread may seem a little thing, but in God’s eyes, nothing is to meant to be thrown away. Even more so, no person is ever to be discarded,” he explained, adding that our grandparents and elderly “are not leftovers from life, scraps to be discarded.”

In January, Pope Francis established the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, to take place annually on the fourth Sunday of July, close to the feast of the grandparents of Jesus, .

The theme of this year’s grandparents’ day is “I am with you always,” taken from Matthew 28:20.

released ahead of this year’s celebration, Pope Francis encouraged the elderly to continue to spread the Gospel even in their old age.

“There is something beautiful here. Your prayer is a very precious resource: a deep breath that the Church and the world urgently need,” he stated.

In his homily July 25, Francis said the Church needs “a new covenant between young and old.”

When Jesus fed the hungry crowd, he did so using loaves and fishes shared by a young man, he pointed out. “How touching it is, that at the heart of this miracle, by which some five thousand adults were fed, we find a young person willing to share what he had.”

“In our societies, we have frequently surrendered to the notion of ‘every man for himself.’ But this is deadly,” he said. “The Gospel bids us share what we are and what we possess, for only in this way will we find fulfillment.”

He urged young adults to visit their grandparents, their elderly relatives, and the older people in their neighborhood.

“They protected us as we grew, and now it is up to us to protect their lives, to alleviate their difficulties, to attend to their needs and to ensure that they are helped in daily life and not feel alone,” he said.

Pope Francis noted that for many of us, our grandparents “cared for us, ever since we were children. Despite lives of hard work and sacrifice, they were never too busy for us, or indifferent to us. They looked at us with care and tender love.”

“When we were growing up and felt misunderstood or fearful about life’s challenges, they kept an eye on us; they knew what we were feeling, our hidden tears and secret dreams,” he continued. “They held us in their arms and sat us on their knees. That love helped us grow into adulthood.”

“May we never regret that we were insufficiently attentive to those who loved us and gave us life,” he stated.

As part of the first World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, the Vatican has also to those who participate, either by attending a related spiritual event or by physically or virtually visiting the elderly, sick, or disabled on July 25.

An indulgence is the remission of the temporal punishment due to sins that have already been forgiven.

The usual conditions for a plenary indulgence, which must be met, are that the individual be in the state of grace by the completion of the acts, have complete detachment from sin, and pray for the pope’s intentions.

The Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life released a prayer for the World Day of Grandparents and the Elderly. The full text of the prayer is below:

Vatican increasing ‘liquid’ assets as it faces financial impact of pandemic, economic officials say

Vatican City, Jul 24, 2021 / 09:40 am (CNA).

The Vatican is working to maintain “‘pockets’ of precautionary liquidity” as it faces the financial fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, two officials of the Roman Curia said Saturday.

On July 24, the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy and APSA (The Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See) released consolidated balance sheets for the year 2020.

This was the first time APSA, which oversees the Vatican’s real estate holdings and other sovereign assets, presented a balance and details about its investment portfolio to the public.

Bishop Nunzio Galantino, head of APSA, told Vatican News July 24 that going forward, the Roman Curia’s “financial investment plan will remain prudential” and “characterized by a correct balance between risk and medium/long-term profitability.”

“However, in pursuing the investment policy, at such a particular moment due to the effects of the pandemic, which substantially reduced the Holy See’s revenues, it is necessary to maintain ‘pockets’ of precautionary liquidity -- already created in 2020 for future and unpredictable needs, especially for administrative and personnel expenses,” he added.

Speaking with Vatican News, economic chief Fr. Juan A. Guerrero, S.J., said knowing the Vatican’s cash flow during the pandemic, as well as the uncertainty of the financial situation, the economy council decided to increase liquidity to avoid the possibility of being forced to sell property in a bad market.

“We did not have precise information on the liquidity available to us, which led to the decision to increase liquidity,” he said. “This meant reducing our financial profit at the same time. I think it was the most prudent thing to do in the situation we were in.”

The balance sheet for the Roman Curia, which is separate from the budget of Vatican City State, showed a deficit of $78 million in 2020, down $13 million from the year prior.

The Roman Curia’s overall expenses for 2020 were $370 million.

In May 2020, Guerrero said the Vatican predicted in the fiscal year; earlier the same month, Italian newspaper Il Messaggero said an internal Vatican report projected an income reduction of at least 30%, and possibly as much as 80%.

In fact, according to the 2020 balance, the Vatican had just under a 50% decrease in revenue, which the report said was “driven by the significant reduction of Ordinary Operating Expenses,” which came to around $30 million and “partially ofsett [sic] by the less-than-expected reduction in Ordinary Operating Income.”

According to the balance, the disparity between 2020 and 2019 can be attributed in part to a loss in income of around $17.6 million from the governatorate of Vatican City State, which oversees some commercial activities forced to close during the pandemic, such as the Vatican Museums and catacombs.

The Vatican also received less income on properties where it offered reduced or delayed lease payments to tenants during the COVID-19 outbreak.

APSA’s sale of a large property in 2019 is also reflected in the difference between the two years, according to the budget.

By contrast, some entities related to the Holy See, such as the IOR, contributed more income to the Roman Curia in 2020. Overall, expenses were reduced by $3.88 million.

Guerrero told Vatican News the Holy See comes “from a culture of secrecy, but in economics we have learned that transparency protects us more than secrecy.”

He claimed the culture is changing and the institution is beginning to see itself as a caretaker, not owner, recognizing the accountability that calls for.

Releasing the 2020 balance “marks a turning point that can lead to greater credibility of the Holy See in economic matters,” he said.

“First of all, this process tells us about a past, a recent past, but a past,” he underlined. “There can always be mistakes, but today I do not see how the events of the past can repeat themselves.”

Galantino said that the activities APSA is carrying out go beyond “the serious consequences of the pandemic crisis.”

According to the bishop, 14% of the properties managed by APSA are rented at market value, while the remaining 86%, those with institutional uses such as work places for Vatican employees and residences for retired cardinals, charge no rent or are rented below market value.

APSA carried out a quantitative and qualitative update to the inventory of the buildings and land it administrates, he said, and found that many of the assets, both those rented to tenants and those used for institutional purposes, were in need of maintenance, modernization, and increased security.

He explained that APSA will also begin a renovation project on 100 apartments in January 2022, with a scheduled end date of sometime in spring 2023.

“Our energies are directed to a credible and reliable administration, as well as effective and efficient, allowing us to be guided by processes of rationalization, transparency and professionalism also required by Pope Francis,” he said.

According to Italian news agency ANSA, the Secretariat for the Economy will begin implementing a new “pilot” review process of personnel in some offices.

ANSA reported that Guerrero had sent a letter to the heads of dicasteries saying the assessment of job performance is taking place in light of curial reform and “the need to make the most of deserving resources, to provide new opportunities and to promote technical and professional training.”

With the release of the 2020 balance, Guerrero told Vatican News that the economic secretariat wants “to ensure economic sustainability, while also maintaining the pope’s correct decision not to fire anyone.”

He added that “to generate greater motivation in the staff, it would be useful to make a plan with a long-term vision and to have a work policy with professional development programs and formation, and particular attention to formation in the mission that is carried out in the Holy See. This would also save money in the long run.”

The increasing influence of the liturgical school Sant’Anselmo in the Vatican

Vatican City, Jul 22, 2021 / 11:10 am (CNA).

The new secretary and undersecretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship both have studied at the Pontificio Ateneo Sant'Anselmo, an institute in Rome whose school of liturgy has had increasing influence in liturgical norms coming from the Vatican.

Created in 1637, disbanded in 1837 and restored by Pope Leo XIII in 1887, the Ateneum’s headquarters have been on the historic Aventino Hill in Rome since 1896. The Pontifical Liturgical Institute of the Pontificio Ateneo Sant'Anselmo was established in 1961 by Pope John XXIII and was entrusted to the Benedictine monks. 

The Apostolic See established it as the faculty of Sacred Liturgy of the Pontificio Ateneo Sant'Anselmo; it is located just a few feet away from the Roman Church of Santa Sabina where pontiffs, including Pope Francis, traditionally celebrate Ash Wednesday Mass every year.

Archbishop Piero Marini, the pope's master of ceremonies for his trips in Italy and a former master of ceremonies for Pope John Paul II, is also a proud alumnus of the institute. Piero Marini is regarded as responsible for the extravagant liturgical vestments that John Paul II was forced to wear during his final years. Upon entering his office, Pope Benedict XVI immediately transferred Marini to the office for Eucharistic Congresses.  

Fr. Corrado Maggioni, who has been serving at the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments since 1990 and is now an undersecretary at the congregation, also studied at Sant'Anselmo.

During the discussions related to the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council and its ensuing implementation, the Pontifical Institute became a reference point for every liturgical debate - frequently taking the “progressive” side.

One of the most prominent teachers at the Sant'Anselmo is the theologian Andrea Grillo, a vigorous defender of the recent motu proprio  which abrogated the liberalization of accessibility to the Ancient Rite Mass made by Benedict XVI. 

Among other things, Grillo has campaigned in favor of imposing an institutional silence on the pope emeritus, and attacked repeatedly the four cardinals who presented the  about Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation 

Maggioni and Archbishop Marini were both members of the commission that drafted the motu proprio  of Sep. 3, 2017, where Pope Francis shifted the translations of liturgical texts to the local bishops' conferences; this ended the Vatican’s policy of producing uniform translations. 

Cardinal Robert Sarah, then-prefect of the congregation, was marginalized from those discussions.

When the Vatican officially announced that Pope Francis appointed Bishop Vittorio Viola as secretary of the Congregation for the Divine Worship, and Msgr. Aurelio Garcia Macias as undersecretary, it became evident to insiders that the more liberal Sant'Anselmo Institute had taken control of most liturgical issues.

Observers claim that the Sant’Anselmo alumni and professors are now everywhere. Msgr. Maurizio Barba, an official of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, teaches there. And so does the Carmelite Friar Giuseppe Midili, who is currently the director of the Rome vicariate's liturgical office.

Midili is a candidate to succeed Msgr. Guido Marini as the pope's master of ceremonies. Another candidate for the position is Fr. Pietro Muroni, dean of the Pontifical Urban University’s faculty of theology, and consultant of the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff. He studied at the Sant'Anselmo too. 

There are exceptions to the views of the institute’s alumni; Msgr. Guido Marini, also an alumnus of the institute, has made a great effort to balance tradition and innovation as Pope Francis' master of ceremonies.

But the increasing influence of Sant'Anselmo’s positions on liturgical issues has not passed unnoticed among the curia ranks. And some insiders are saying that the institute’s cohort is behind Pope Francis' motu proprio , which abrogated the liberation of the celebration of Masses according to Pope John XXIII's 1962 missal.

Cardinal Grech: Synodality is not a ‘fad’ of the pope

Vatican City, Jul 22, 2021 / 07:00 am (CNA).

Cardinal Mario Grech said on Wednesday that synodality is not a “fad” of the pope, but rather “the form and style of the early Church.”

The Secretary General of Synod of Bishops Vatican News on July 21 that officials were working on a preparatory document for the 2023 synod on synodality.

“I would like to clarify a misunderstanding. Many people think that synodality is a ‘fad’ of the pope. I hope none of us shares this thought,” he said.

“In the various preparatory meetings, it became clear that synodality was the form and style of the early Church.”

The Vatican in May that the 2023 synod would begin with a two-year consultative phase involving Catholic dioceses worldwide.

The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops is expected to release a preparatory document and vademecum, or handbook, in September.

The Maltese cardinal, who was to his present role in September 2020, said that the preparatory document recalled the Second Vatican Council’s desire to “return to the sources” of Christianity.

“The preparatory document clearly highlights this; and it highlights how Vatican II, with the movement of ‘return to the sources’ -- the -- wanted to recover that model of the Church, without renouncing any of the great advances of the Church in the second millennium,” he said.

“If we want to be faithful to Tradition -- and the Council should be considered as the most recent stage of Tradition -- we must boldly go down this path of the synodal Church.”

A synod is a meeting of bishops gathered to discuss a topic of theological or pastoral significance, to prepare a document of advice or counsel to the pope.

The theme for the upcoming assembly is “For a synodal Church: communion, participation, and mission.”

Earlier this week, the General Secretariat the members of three groups helping it to prepare for the 2023 gathering.

Grech told Vatican news: “We have created four commissions to support the work leading up to the synod: one for theological study, another to help us grow as a Church in the spirituality of communion, a third for methodology, and finally a fourth that will be dedicated to the aspect of communication.”

Pope Francis is expected to “inaugurate the synodal path” over the weekend of Oct. 9-10 with an opening session and a Mass. All dioceses are invited also to offer an opening Mass on Sunday, Oct. 17.

During the initial “diocesan phase,” each bishop is asked to undertake a consultation with the local Church from October 2021 to April 2022.

The Vatican will then release an instrumentum laboris (working document) in September 2022 for a period of “pre-synodal discernment in continental assemblies,” which will influence a second draft of the working document to be published before June 2023.

The process will culminate with the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican in October 2023.

Asked if the synodal process required too much of local churches, Grech said: “All this is not really a process that complicates the life of the Church. Because without knowing what the Spirit is saying to the Church, we could act in a vacuum and, even without knowing it, against the Spirit.”

“Once we have rediscovered the ‘pneumatological’ dimension of the Church, we can only adopt the dynamism of prophecy-discernment, which lies at the heart of the synodal process. This is especially true when thinking about the third term at play: mission.”

The cardinal recalled that the 2018 youth synod to “missionary synodality.”

“Synodality is for mission, it is listening to how the Church becomes itself by living, witnessing and bringing the Gospel. All the terms proposed by the title are connected: they stand or fall together,” he said.

“Let us also ask to be deeply converted to synodality: it means converting to Christ and his Spirit, leaving the primacy to God.”

Pope Francis ‘deeply saddened’ by Baghdad market bombing

Vatican City, Jul 20, 2021 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis is “deeply saddened” by a bombing at a market in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, that killed at least 30 people.

In a released by the Vatican on July 20, the pope offered his condolences to the families and friends of those who died in an explosion at the al-Wuhailat market as families prepared to celebrate the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.

“His Holiness Pope Francis was deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life in the explosion at the al-Wuhailat market in Baghdad and he sends condolences to the families and friends of those who have died,” said the message sent on the pope’s behalf by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

The Sunni Muslim Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the bombing in the eastern Sadr City area of Baghdad, which is predominantly Shia Muslim.

Reuters reported that women and children were believed to be among those killed in the blast, which also injured dozens of people.

It was the third bomb attack on a market in Sadr City this year.

In March, Pope Francis became the first pope to .

Last week, the pope sent his condolences after were killed in a fire in a coronavirus isolation ward at a hospital in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriya.

The latest papal telegram, addressed to Archbishop Mitja Leskovar, the apostolic nuncio in Iraq, concluded: “Entrusting their souls to the mercy of Almighty God, His Holiness renews his fervent prayers that no act of violence will diminish the efforts of those who strive to promote reconciliation and peace in Iraq.”

Members of commissions preparing synod on synodality unveiled

Vatican City, Jul 20, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

The general secretariat of the Synod of Bishops on Tuesday named the members of three groups helping to prepare the 2023 synod on synodality.

It listed the names on July 20, just three months before the start of a two-year preparatory phase involving Catholic dioceses worldwide.

A synod is a meeting of bishops gathered to discuss a topic of theological or pastoral significance, to prepare a document of advice or counsel to the pope.

The theme for the upcoming assembly is “For a synodal Church: communion, participation, and mission.”

The general secretariat listed the members of a steering committee, a commission for theology, and a commission for methodology.

The has five members: Archbishop Erio Castellucci, who leads the Italian dioceses of Modena-Nonantola and Carpi; Fr. Giacomo Costa, S.J., president of the San Fedele Cultural Foundation of Milan and of the magazine Aggiornamenti Sociali; Mgsr. Pierangelo Sequeri, of the Pontifical Theological Institute John Paul II for the Sciences of Marriage and the Family; Fr. Dario Vitali, in the Faculty of Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University; and Myriam Wijlens, of canon law at the University of Erfurt, Germany.

The has 25 members from around the world. The commission, which is coordinated by Bishop Luis Marín de San Martín, one of two under-secretaries of the Synod of Bishops, assists the synod secretariat by reviewing texts, presenting theological proposals “for the development of synodality,” and creating and sharing “materials for theological deepening,” according to the synod’s website.

The commission’s members include three Jesuits: Fr. Paul Béré, from Burkina Faso, the to win the prestigious Ratzinger Prize for theology; Fr. Santiago Madrigal Terrazas, a at the Comillas Pontifical University in Spain; and Fr. Christoph Theobald, a Franco-German based at the Centre Sèvres in Paris.

The , coordinated by Sr. Nathalie Becquart, under-secretary of the Synod of Bishops, has nine members, including four women: Cristina Inogés Sanz, from Spain, Christina Kheng Li Lin, from Singapore, Sr. Hermenegild Makoro, C.P.S., from South Africa, and Susan Pascoe from Australia.

Also among the commission’s members is Fr. David McCallum, S.J., of the Discerning Leadership Program, a collaboration between Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York, and other institutions.

The commission’s tasks include collecting “best practices for synodal processes at all levels,” proposing “methodologies for the synodal process in all its phases,” creating a “a brochure/website on best practices,” and working on “the methodology/process for the celebration of the Synod of Bishops in October 2023.”

Earlier this month, Pope Francis the Jesuit Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich as the relator general of the synod on synodality.

Hollerich, the president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), will help to oversee the gathering of the world’s bishops in Rome.

The synod on synodality will open with a in October 2021 and conclude with the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican in October 2023.

Pope Francis will “inaugurate the synodal path” over the weekend of Oct. 9-10 with an opening session and a Mass. All dioceses are invited also to offer an opening Mass on Sunday, Oct. 17.

During the diocesan phase, each bishop is asked to undertake a consultation process with the local Church from Oct. 17, 2021, to April 2022.

The Vatican will then release an instrumentum laboris (working document) in September 2022 for a period of “pre-synodal discernment in continental assemblies,” which will influence a second draft of the working document to be published before June 2023.

The process will culminate in a meeting of bishops at the Vatican in October 2023.

New Reno bishop inspired to become priest after meeting Blessed Stanley Rother

Vatican City, Jul 20, 2021 / 06:10 am (CNA).

The Vatican announced Tuesday that Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Daniel Mueggenborg to lead the Catholic Diocese of Reno.

Mueggenborg, 59, has served as an auxiliary bishop and vicar general of the Archdiocese of Seattle since 2017.

In Reno, he will replace Bishop Randolph Calvo, 69, whose resignation was by Pope Francis on July 20.

Growing up in Oklahoma in the 1970s, Mueggenborg spent time as an altar server, boy scout, and tuba musician in a marching band. After being named an Eagle Scout in 1980, he decided to study geology at Oklahoma State University.

During his trips to study rock formations and other natural phenomena, Mueggenborg said that he would discuss his Catholic faith with his geology classmates.

“I began to realize that discussions of faith were of greater interest than conversations of science. Those discussions, combined with the practice of praying the Divine Office, led to becoming the chief ‘Catholic Resource’ for questions by classmates concerning the faith,” he wrote in an autobiographical posted to a website where he formerly served as pastor.

But Mueggenborg said that he was still closed off to the possibility of becoming a priest at that time, until he was asked to be an altar server at a Mass for his aunt and uncle’s wedding anniversary.

“The priest who celebrated the Mass was Father Stanley Rother. I knew nothing of him, not even his name, prior to that Mass and yet was captivated by the deep spiritual presence that surrounded him,” Mueggenborg said.

“There was a spirit of profound peace and love and filled the room when he entered. I noticed that presence and it made an impact on me. He possessed the qualities of character that I desired most yet had not found in my secular pursuits of college life. As a result of that Mass, I began allowing myself to once again consider the possibility of becoming a priest.”

A few months after this encounter, was martyred in the rectory where he served as a missionary priest in Guatemala in 1981.

“The witness of his radical commitment to Jesus Christ and his love for the people left a life-long impression on me. I will be forever grateful to him for that impact. To honor the influence he had on my journey to priesthood, I used his chalice to celebrate my first Mass as a priest on July 16, 1989,” he said.

After Mueggenborg was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Tulsa in 1989, he served in St. Mary, St. John, and St. Pius X parishes in Tulsa and worked with high school students as the chaplain of Bishop Kelley High School until 1994.

He later served as a chaplain of the University of Tulsa’s St. Philip Neri Catholic Newman Center from 1998 until 2001, before taking over as pastor of St. Clement Parish and leading the diocesan synod office until 2005.

Mueggenborg moved to Rome in 2005. He had previously studied in the city as a seminarian and earned a Licentiate in Biblical Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

As a priest, he returned to the Pontifical North American College, where he had once been a student, to minister as the assistant director of formation and later as the vice-rector for the administration until 2011.

Upon his return to the United States, he served as pastor of Christ the King Parish from 2011 to 2017 before Pope Francis him as an auxiliary bishop of Seattle in 2017.

His episcopal consecration took place on May 31, 2017. For his episcopal motto, he chose “Misericordes Sicut Pater,” meaning “Merciful Like the Father.” This had been the theme of the Jubilee Year of Mercy the year prior.

In Reno, Mueggenborg will oversee a diocese of 80,000 Catholics with 28 parishes, five Catholic schools, and 70 priests and deacons. Bishop Calvo lifted the ’s general dispensation from attending Sunday Mass on July 1 due to a significant decline in the number of COVID-19 cases in the city.

Pope Francis says he is close to ‘the dear Cuban people’ after largest protests in decades

Vatican City, Jul 18, 2021 / 05:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Sunday expressed his closeness to “the dear Cuban people” after the largest protests in decades in the communist country.

In his first Angelus at the Vatican since undergoing , the pope said that Cubans were facing “difficult moments” as they with inflation, food shortages, and the coronavirus pandemic.

“I am also near to the dear Cuban people in these difficult moments, in particular to those families suffering the most,” he said, to cheers from pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square holding Cuban flags.

“I pray that the Lord might help the nation construct a society that is more and more just and fraternal through peace, dialogue, and solidarity.”

Referring to Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, the Patroness of Cuba, the pope added: “I urge all Cubans to entrust themselves to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary of Charity of Cobre. She will accompany them on this journey.”

Last Sunday, the pope at the Gemelli Hospital in Rome, where he spent 11 days recuperating after surgery.

Pope Francis gave his address on July 18 at a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square. The 84-year-old pope’s voice at times sounded weaker than usual and he occasionally had to clear his throat.

In his Angelus address, the pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading, , in which Jesus invited the Apostles to “come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”

The pope said: “His tender invitation -- rest a while -- should accompany us. Let us beware, brothers and sisters, of efficiency, let us put a halt to the frantic running around dictated by our agendas. Let us learn how to take a break, to turn off the cellphone, to contemplate nature, to regenerate ourselves in dialogue with God.”

The pope noted that Jesus’ words to his disciples after they returned from an arduous mission contained a valuable teaching.

“Even though he rejoices on seeing his disciples’ happiness due to the wonders of their preaching, he does not spend time giving them compliments or asking questions. Rather, he is concerned about their physical and interior tiredness,” he said.

“And why does he do this? Because he wants to make them aware of a danger that is always lurking there for us too: the danger to be caught up in the frenzy of doing things, to fall into the trap of activism where what is most important are the results that we obtain and the feeling of being absolute protagonists.”

He continued: “How many times this happens in the Church: we are busy, we run around, we think that everything depends on us and, in the end, we risk neglecting Jesus and we always make ourselves the center.”

The pope said that this was why Christ called his followers to rest with him.

“It is not only physical rest, but also rest for the heart. For it is not enough to ‘unplug’ ourselves, we need to truly rest. And how do we do this? To do so, we must return to the heart of things: to stop, to remain in silence, to pray so as not to go from the frenzy of work to the frenzy of times of relaxation,” he said.

“Jesus did not neglect the needs of the crowd, but each day, before anything else, he would withdraw in prayer, in silence, in intimacy with the Father.”

Yet, the pope observed, Jesus and the disciples were unable to rest at that time because they were surrounded by crowds. Jesus took pity on the people, who “were like sheep without a shepherd.”

“Touched, Jesus dedicates himself to the people and begins to teach again. This seems to be a contradiction, but in reality, it is not,” he said.

“In fact, only a heart that does not allow itself to be taken over by hastiness is capable of being moved; that is, of not allowing itself to be caught up in itself and by things to do, and is aware of others, of their wounds, their needs.”

The pope continued: “Compassion is born from contemplation. If we learn to truly rest, we become capable of true compassion; if we cultivate a contemplative outlook, we will carry out our activities without that rapacious attitude of those who want to possess and consume everything; if we stay in touch with the Lord and do not anesthetize the deepest part of ourselves, the things to do will not have the power to cause us to get winded or devour us.”

“We need -- listen to this -- we need an ‘ecology of the heart,’ that is made up of rest, contemplation, and compassion. Let us take advantage of the summertime for this! It will help us quite a bit.”

After praying the , Pope Francis expressed his solidarity with victims of that has killed more than 180 people.

“I express my nearness to the populations of Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands, who were hit by the catastrophic floods. May the Lord welcome the deceased and comfort their loved ones, may he sustain the efforts of everyone who are helping those who have suffered serious damage,” he said.

The pope also lamented in South Africa that has claimed the lives of more than 200 people.

“Unfortunately, this last week, news has arrived of episodes of violence that have aggravated the situation of so many of our brothers and sisters in South Africa, already affected by economic and health difficulties due to the pandemic,” he said.

“United to the bishops of the country, I address a heartfelt appeal to all the leaders involved that they might work toward building peace and collaborate with the authorities to provide assistance to those in need.”

“May the desire that has guided the South African people, the rebirth of harmony among all its children, not be forgotten.”

Finally, he greeted young Italian pilgrims in the square below.

He said: “Dear young people, have a blessed journey on the path of the Gospel!”

Pope Francis to Friars Minor: Seek renewal amid declining numbers

Vatican City, Jul 17, 2021 / 05:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis urged members of the Order of Friars Minor on Saturday to seek renewal as they face “the challenges of declining numbers and aging.”

In a to participants of the order’s in Rome on July 17, the pope encouraged the Franciscan Friars, known by the initials O.F.M., not to be paralyzed by worry.

“As much of the order faces the challenges of declining numbers and aging, do not let anxiety and fear prevent you from opening your hearts and minds to the renewal and revitalization that the Spirit of God is stirring in you and among you,” he said.

“You have a spiritual heritage of inestimable richness, rooted in the Gospel life and characterized by prayer, fraternity, poverty, , and itinerancy.”

“Do not forget that we receive from our closeness to the poor, the victims of modern slavery, the refugees, and the excluded of this world, a renewed gaze, capable of opening us to God’s future. They are your teachers. Embrace them as St. Francis did!”

The general chapter is on July 3-18 on the theme of “Renewing Our Vision, Embracing Our Future.”

The order announced on July 13 that it had a new leader, Fr. Massimo Fusarelli, who will serve a six-year term as minister general. He succeeds Fr. Michael Perry, a native of Indianapolis, who led the order since 2013.

In his message, the pope said: “I greet with affection all of you who are participating in the general chapter of the Order of Friars Minor. A grateful thought goes out to Fr. Michael A. Perry, who has concluded his service as minister general, and I offer my best wishes to Fr. Massimo Giovanni Fusarelli, who has been called to succeed him.”

The pope recalled that St. Francis of Assisi wrote in his that he used to be nauseated by the sight of lepers, but that after he met them, he felt transformed.

“At the roots of your spirituality is this encounter with the least and the suffering, in the sign of ‘doing mercy,’” he said. “God touched Francis’ heart through the mercy offered to his brother, and he continues to touch our hearts through his encounter with others, especially those most in need.”

“The renewal of your vision can only start from this new look with which to contemplate the poor and marginalized brother, a sign, almost a sacrament, of God’s presence.”

He continued: “From this renewed gaze, from this concrete experience of encounter with our neighbor and his wounds, can come a renewed energy to look to the future as brothers and as minors, as you are, according to the beautiful name of ‘Friars Minor’ that St. Francis chose for himself and for you.”

Vatican abuse trial: Prosecution requests jail time for defendants

Vatican City, Jul 16, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

As a nine-month abuse and cover-up trial comes to a close, a prosecutor has asked the Vatican’s court to sentence defendants to jail time.

The tribunal listened to lawyers’ closing arguments during two hearings on July 15 and July 16 in a trial against a former student and former rector at a youth seminary inside Vatican City.

The Vatican’s prosecutor requested a sentence of eight years in prison, reduced to four years, for 28-year-old defendant Fr. Gabriele Martinelli, who is accused of sexually assaulting a slightly younger student at the pre-seminary over a period of six years.

The school’s former rector, 72-year-old Fr. Enrico Radice, is also on trial on charges of impeding investigations into the abuse allegations against Martinelli. The prosecutor asked that Radice be sentenced to four years in prison.

Both of the accused have asserted their innocence of the charges. Their lawyers asked on July 15-16 for their full acquittal.

The court is scheduled to rule on Oct. 6.

The alleged abuse is said to have taken place at the Pius X pre-seminary, a residence for about a dozen boys aged 12 to 18 who serve at papal Masses and other liturgies in St. Peter’s Basilica and are considering the priesthood.

The Vatican announced in May that Pope Francis had decided to the pre-seminary to a location outside of Vatican City State beginning in September.

The religious group Opera Don Folci, which runs the pre-seminary and is overseen by the Diocese of Como, is a defendant in a civil suit being tried at the same time. The group’s lawyer has also asked the court to acquit it and rejected any request for compensation for damages.

Across 13 different hearings starting last year, Vatican judges listened to testimony from the defendants, the alleged victim, former students and priest teachers at the pre-seminary, and others.

Giuseppe Pignatone, the Vatican tribunal’s president, said on July 16 that “every contribution has been precious, the court at this point is in a position to decide.”

In his testimony in March, the alleged victim, known only as L.G., claimed that Martinelli, who is seven months and nine days older, sexually abused him, starting about two months after he moved to the pre-seminary when he was 13 years old.

In the hearing, a lawyer for Martinelli, who was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Como in 2017, suggested that there were discrepancies and contradictions between L.G.’s testimony on March 18 and his written statement to the Promoter of Justice.

The defense lawyer also argued that what occurred between Martinelli and L.G. could not have been abuse given the closeness of their ages and that there was no power difference between them.

A Vatican prosecutor, instead, recalled testimony saying that Martinelli made threats to L.G., promising to grant important roles in papal Masses in exchange for sexual favors.

Roberto Zannotti, the prosecutor, also referenced an Italian supreme court ruling from 1998, insisting on the concept of consent, which he argued could not be present when L.G. was a minor, and was also not present after he turned 18.

“Consent must not be confused with participation in the act,” Zannotti said.

He also defended L.G.’s credibility in response to statements noting that L.G. reported the abuse some time after it allegedly took place.

At a hearing in February, three different former students of the Pius X pre-seminary had testified that there was an unhealthy culture of ridicule and abuse of power while they were there.

The witnesses also alleged that reports of sexual abuse were ignored or dismissed by authority figures, including the cardinal in charge of St. Peter’s Basilica at the time, Cardinal Angelo Comastri.

At another hearing, Fr. Francesco Vicini, a former student at the pre-seminary and now its vice-rector, that he had shared a room with L.G. and Martinelli for a year, and for two years in total with L.G.

Vicini claimed that L.G. was not afraid of Martinelli, stating: “I take it for granted that Martinelli did nothing, it seems obvious to me that he never needed to ask for clarification on rumors that were circulating in the pre-seminary.”

The only trial participant who claimed to be an eyewitness to the alleged abuse was former pre-seminary student Kamil Jarzembowski.

Jarzembowski, who is from Poland, was the first to go to the media about the accusations against Martinelli, which were initially reported by the Italian investigative news program “Le Iene” in 2017.

Jarzembowski testified to the Vatican court in a March hearing that when he was roommates with L.G., he had heard Martinelli come into the room and perform non-consensual sexual actions with L.G. “tens of times.”

The defense lawyer for the Opera Don Folci asserted on July 16 that Jarzembowski was the “deus ex machina” in the affair, claiming that there were contradictions in his testimony and written accounts of the allegations.

Witnesses also gave conflicting testimony about the character of former pre-seminary rector Radice and his behavior toward students.

Martinelli’s lawyer argued that “no elements were brought in to support the accusation” against his client and “the narrative was shaky from the start.”

Full text: Traditionis Custodes, Pope Francis' motu proprio about Traditional Latin Mass

Vatican City, Jul 16, 2021 / 10:11 am (CNA).

This is the of the apostolic letter issued motu proprio by Pope Francis about the Traditional Latin Mass.

APOSTOLIC LETTER ISSUED "MOTU PROPRIO" BY THE SUPREME PONTIFF

On the Use of the Roman Liturgy Prior to the Reform of 1970

Guardians of the tradition, the bishops in communion with the Bishop of Rome constitute the visible principle and foundation of the unity of their particular Churches.  Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, through the proclamation of the Gospel and by means of the celebration of the Eucharist, they govern the particular Churches entrusted to them. 

In order to promote the concord and unity of the Church, with paternal solicitude towards those who in any region adhere to liturgical forms antecedent to the reform willed by the , my Venerable Predecessors, Saint  and , granted and regulated the faculty to use the Roman Missal edited by  in 1962.  In this way they intended “to facilitate the ecclesial communion of those Catholics who feel attached to some earlier liturgical forms” and not to others. 

In line with the initiative of my Venerable Predecessor  to invite the bishops to assess the application of the Motu Proprio  three years after its publication, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith carried out a detailed consultation of the bishops in 2020. The results have been carefully considered in the light of experience that has matured during these years.

At this time, having considered the wishes expressed by the episcopate and having heard the opinion of the , I now desire, with this Apostolic Letter, to press on ever more in the constant search for ecclesial communion. Therefore, I have considered it appropriate to establish the following:

Art. 1. The liturgical books promulgated by Saint Paul VI and Saint John Paul II, in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II, are the unique expression of the  of the Roman Rite.

Art. 2. It belongs to the diocesan bishop, as moderator, promoter, and guardian of the whole liturgical life of the particular Church entrusted to him,  to regulate the liturgical celebrations of his diocese.  Therefore, it is his exclusive competence to authorize the use of the 1962 Roman Missal in his diocese, according to the guidelines of the Apostolic See.

Art. 3. The bishop of the diocese in which until now there exist one or more groups that celebrate according to the Missal antecedent to the reform of 1970:

§ 1. is to determine that these groups do not deny the validity and the legitimacy of the liturgical reform, dictated by Vatican Council II and the Magisterium of the Supreme Pontiffs;

§ 2. is to designate one or more locations where the faithful adherents of these groups may gather for the eucharistic celebration (not however in the parochial churches and without the erection of new personal parishes);

§ 3. to establish at the designated locations the days on which eucharistic celebrations are permitted using the Roman Missal promulgated by Saint John XXIII in 1962.  In these celebrations the readings are proclaimed in the vernacular language, using translations of the Sacred Scripture approved for liturgical use by the respective Episcopal Conferences;

§ 4. to appoint a priest who, as delegate of the bishop, is entrusted with these celebrations and with the pastoral care of these groups of the faithful. This priest should be suited for this responsibility, skilled in the use of the  antecedent to the reform of 1970, possess a knowledge of the Latin language sufficient for a thorough comprehension of the rubrics and liturgical texts, and be animated by a lively pastoral charity and by a sense of ecclesial communion. This priest should have at heart not only the correct celebration of the liturgy, but also the pastoral and spiritual care of the faithful;

§ 5. to proceed suitably to verify that the parishes canonically erected for the benefit of these faithful are effective for their spiritual growth, and to determine whether or not to retain them;

§ 6. to take care not to authorize the establishment of new groups.

Art. 4. Priests ordained after the publication of the present Motu Proprio, who wish to celebrate using the of 1962, should submit a formal request to the diocesan Bishop who shall consult the Apostolic See before granting this authorization.

Art. 5. Priests who already celebrate according to the of 1962 should request from the diocesan Bishop the authorization to continue to enjoy this faculty.

Art. 6. Institutes of consecrated life and Societies of apostolic life, erected by the Pontifical Commission , fall under the competence of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies for Apostolic Life.

Art. 7. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, for matters of their particular competence, exercise the authority of the Holy See with respect to the observance of these provisions.

Art. 8. Previous norms, instructions, permissions, and customs that do not conform to the provisions of the present  are abrogated.

Everything that I have declared in this Apostolic Letter in the form of , I order to be observed in all its parts, anything else to the contrary notwithstanding, even if worthy of particular mention, and I establish that it be promulgated by way of publication in “L’Osservatore Romano”, entering immediately in force and, subsequently, that it be published in the official Commentary of the Holy See, 

FRANCIS

 

 Cfr Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church “ ”, 21 november 1964, n. 23 AAS 57 (1965) 27.

 Cfr Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church “ ”, 21 november 1964, n. 27: AAS 57 (1965) 32; Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Decree concerning the pastoral office of bishops in the Church “ ”, 28 october 1965, n. 11: AAS 58 (1966) 677-678; , n. 833.

 Cfr John Paul II, Apostolic Letter given  “ ”, 2 july 1988: AAS 80 (1988) 1495-1498; Benedict XVI, Apostolic Letter given  “ ”, 7 july 2007: AAS 99 (2007) 777-781; Apostolic Letter given  “ ”, 2 july 2009: AAS 101 (2009) 710-711.

 John Paul II, Apostolic Letter given  “ ”, 2 july 1988, n. 5: AAS 80 (1988) 1498.

 Cfr Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Costitution on the sacred liturgy “ ”, 4 december 1963, n. 41: AAS 56 (1964) 111; , n. 9; Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacrament, Instruction on certain matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist “ ”, 25 march 2004, nn. 19-25: AAS 96 (2004) 555-557.

 Cfr , can. 375, § 1; can. 392.

 Cfr Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Decree “ ” approving seven Eucharistic Prefaces for the  of the Roman Rite, 22 february 2020, and Decree “ ” on the liturgical celebration in honour of Saints in the  of the Roman Rite, 22 february 2020: , 26 march 2020, p. 6.

Catholics react to Pope Francis’ sweeping restrictions on extraordinary form Masses

Vatican City, Jul 16, 2021 / 08:31 am (CNA).

New Vatican restrictions on extraordinary form Masses elicited passionate responses from Catholics nearly as soon as the motu proprio was published shortly after noon Rome time on Friday.

Many Catholics reacted strongly to the promulgation of , a signed by Pope Francis on July 16, offering pithy comments on Twitter as well as more detailed takes.

In the motu proprio, the pope made sweeping changes to his predecessor Benedict XVI’s 2007 , which acknowledged the right of all priests to say Mass using the Roman Missal of 1962, which is in Latin.

The new document is dedicated to “the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the reform of 1970” and contains that go into immediate effect.

In an accompanying , Pope Francis wrote: “In defense of the unity of the Body of Christ, I am constrained to revoke the faculty granted by my Predecessors. The distorted use that has been made of this faculty is contrary to the intentions that led to granting the freedom to celebrate the Mass with the [Roman Missal] of 1962.”

Joseph Shaw, the chairman of the , told CNA that the motu proprio appeared to “undo entirely the legal provisions made for the Traditional Mass by Pope Benedict, and to take us back not only to the situation before the 2007 apostolic letter , but even before 1988, when Pope John Paul II -- who was canonized by Pope Francis -- described the more ancient Mass as a ‘rightful aspiration’ of the faithful.”

“The many priests and lay Catholics who have worked hard to combine an interest in the ‘riches’ represented by the EF [Extraordinary Form] with sincere loyalty and affection for the hierarchy and the Holy Father have been let down by this document,” Shaw said.

He added: “The provision that the EF not be celebrated in parish churches appears to be unworkable, and will certainly impede the implementation of this document.”

Kurt Martens, a professor of canon law at Catholic University of America, noted that the term “extraordinary form” is no longer used in the new legislation and that the new motu proprio “establishes that liturgical books promulgated in conformity with the decrees of Vatican Council II are the unique expression of the of the Roman Rite.”

“Diocesan bishops are given broad responsibility with regard to the use of the former liturgy,” Martens noted on Twitter.

Cardinal Raymond Burke, the former prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the Church’s highest judicial authority, queried the document’s tone.

Burke the National Catholic Register that the text was “marked by a harshness” towards participants in extraordinary form Masses.

“I pray that the faithful will not give way to the discouragement which such harshness necessarily engenders but will, with the help of divine grace, persevere in their love of the Church and of her pastors,” the former Archbishop of St. Louis said.

Some Catholic blogs that promote traditional liturgy expressed anger at the changes.

“It’s war,” Rorate Caeli posted to Twitter immediately after the motu proprio’s promulgation.

Others had even stronger views.

“Satanic,” Catholic writer Michael Brendan Dougherty wrote following the publication of the motu proprio.

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat commented: “Accompaniment for some, slow strangulation of their rites for others.”

Others called for prayers for the 84-year-old pope, who was from hospital this week following colon surgery.

Writing on the website, Gregory DiPippo said: “We must redouble our prayers for Pope Francis, whose whole papacy, every smile, every hug of a disabled person, every exhortation to mercy, will be stained for the rest of history by this unprecedented and absolutely gratuitous act of pastoral cruelty, the attempted revocation of .”

Meanwhile, other Catholics expressed alarm at the tone of the motu proprio’s critics.

Pope Francis issues restrictions on extraordinary form Masses in new motu proprio

Vatican City, Jul 16, 2021 / 04:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis issued a motu proprio on Friday restricting Masses celebrated in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.

In the , issued July 16, the pope made sweeping changes to his predecessor Benedict XVI’s 2007 , which acknowledged the right of all priests to say Mass using the Roman Missal of 1962, which is in Latin.

In an accompanying explaining his decision, Pope Francis wrote: “In defense of the unity of the Body of Christ, I am constrained to revoke the faculty granted by my Predecessors. The distorted use that has been made of this faculty is contrary to the intentions that led to granting the freedom to celebrate the Mass with the [Roman Missal]of 1962.”

The motu proprio, known as (“Guardians of the tradition”) and dedicated to “the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the reform of 1970,” contains eight articles that go into immediate effect.

The first describes liturgical books issued by popes Paul VI and John Paul II after the Second Vatican Council as “the unique expression of the [the law of prayer] of the Roman Rite.”

The second states that it is a bishop’s “exclusive competence” to authorize the use of the 1962 Roman Missal in his diocese.

The third sets out the responsibilities of bishops whose dioceses already have one or more groups that offer Mass in the extraordinary form.

It requires bishops to determine that these groups do not deny the validity of Vatican II and the Magisterium.

Bishops are instructed to “designate one or more locations where the faithful adherents of these groups may gather for the eucharistic celebration (not however in the parochial churches and without the erection of new personal parishes).”

The third article also asks the local bishop “to establish at the designated locations the days on which eucharistic celebrations are permitted using the Roman Missal promulgated by St. John XXIII in 1962.”

The motu proprio says that Masses offered according to the 1962 Roman Missal -- which are celebrated in Church Latin -- are to use readings “proclaimed in the vernacular language, using translations of the Sacred Scripture approved for liturgical use by the respective episcopal conferences.”

It also calls for the establishment of a diocesan delegate selected by the bishop to oversee the pastoral care for these groups.

“This priest should have at heart not only the correct celebration of the liturgy, but also the pastoral and spiritual care of the faithful,” it states.

Bishops are also told to verify that the already established parishes “are effective for their spiritual growth and to determine whether or not to retain them,” as well as “to take care not to authorize the establishment of new groups.”

The fourth article says that priests ordained after July 16, 2021, who wish to offer the extraordinary form of the Mass will need to submit a formal request to the diocesan bishop who will then consult with the Apostolic See before granting authorization.

The fifth says that priests who already offer extraordinary form Masses should request authorization from their diocesan bishop to “continue to enjoy this faculty.”

Articles six and seven establish that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies for Apostolic Life exercise the authority of the Holy See in overseeing these provisions.

This means that institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life that were established by Ecclesia Dei -- a pontifical commission created by John Paul II in 1988 and into the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in 2019 -- now fall under the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies for Apostolic Life.

The eighth and final article of the motu proprio declares that “previous norms, instructions, permissions, and customs that do not conform to the provisions of the present motu proprio are abrogated.”

In his letter to bishops, Pope Francis explained the reasons behind his decision to limit access to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.

He said that the responses to a of bishops conducted by the CDF in 2020 “reveal a situation that preoccupies and saddens me, and persuades me of the need to intervene.”

Francis said that when his predecessors allowed the celebration of the Mass according to the form used before the reforms of Vatican II, they wanted to encourage unity within the Church.

“An opportunity offered by St. John Paul II and, with even greater magnanimity, by Benedict XVI, intended to recover the unity of an ecclesial body with diverse liturgical sensibilities, was exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that injure the Church, block her path, and expose her to the peril of division,” he wrote.

The pope said he was saddened that the celebration of the extraordinary form was now characterized by a rejection of the Second Vatican Council and its liturgical reforms. To doubt the Council, he said, is “to doubt the Holy Spirit himself who guides the Church.”

Pope Francis added that a final reason for his decision was a growing attitude of “rejection of the Church and her institutions in the name of what is called the ‘true Church.’”

He instructed bishops to be guided by two principles when implementing the new norms: “on the one hand, to provide for the good of those who are rooted in the previous form of celebration and need to return in due time to the Roman Rite promulgated by Sts. Paul VI and John Paul II, and, on the other hand, to discontinue the erection of new personal parishes tied more to the desire and wishes of individual priests than to the real need of the ‘holy People of God.’”

In a 2007 to the world’s bishops, Benedict XVI explained that enabled priests to offer Mass according to the 1962 Missal as a “,” or extraordinary form, of the Roman Rite.

He noted that the Missal published by Paul VI would remain the “,” or ordinary form, of the Rite.

Benedict XVI, who resigned as pope in 2013, insisted that the motu proprio did not detract from the liturgical reforms requested by the Second Vatican Council.

He also rejected suggestions that it would cause divisions within parish communities.

“This fear also strikes me as quite unfounded,” he wrote. “The use of the old Missal presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language; neither of these is found very often.”

“Already from these concrete presuppositions, it is clearly seen that the new Missal will certainly remain the ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, not only on account of the juridical norms, but also because of the actual situation of the communities of the faithful.”

Rumors about possible restrictions on spread at the end of May after Pope Francis held a closed-door question-and-answer session with the members of the Italian bishops’ conference gathered in Rome for their annual plenary assembly.

Speaking with the bishops, Francis hinted at new regulations, although he did not provide details, according to two bishops who attended the conference.

In June, Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, described the development as

He insisted that the extraordinary form was not divisive.

“On the contrary, it unites us to our brothers and sisters of all ages, to the saints and martyrs of all times, to those who have fought for their faith and who have found in it an inexhaustible spiritual nourishment,” he wrote in a blog post.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, who as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship in February, posted a on his Twitter account on July 8 defending .

He wrote: “Following the motu proprio , despite difficulties and resistance, the Church embarked on a path of liturgical and spiritual reform, which, though slow, is irreversible.”

“Despite intransigent clerical attitudes in opposition to the venerable Latin-Gregorian liturgy, attitudes typical of the clericalism that Pope Francis has repeatedly denounced, a new generation of young people has emerged in the heart of the Church.”

“This generation is one of young families, who demonstrate that this liturgy has a future because it has a past, a history of holiness and beauty that cannot be erased or abolished overnight.”

The Vatican’s doctrinal congregation asked the world’s bishops last year to report on how was being applied in their dioceses.

CDF prefect Cardinal Luis Ladaria wrote to the presidents of bishops’ conferences on March 7, 2020, asking them to distribute a nine-point .

The CDF survey included questions such as “In your opinion, are there positive or negative aspects of the use of the extraordinary form?” and “How has the motu proprio had an influence on the life of seminaries (the seminary of the diocese) and other formation houses?”

The questionnaire also asked whether the extraordinary form responds “to a true pastoral need” or was “promoted by a single priest.”

Bishops were asked to say whether they personally used the 1962 Missal and what advice they would offer about the extraordinary form.

In his cover letter, Cardinal Ladaria wrote: “Thirteen years after the publication of the motu proprio issued by Pope Benedict XVI, His Holiness Pope Francis wishes to be informed about the current application of the aforementioned document.”

Ladaria asked bishops to send their responses by July 31, 2020.

In his 2007 , Benedict XVI had asked the world’s bishops “to send to the Holy See an account of your experiences, three years after this motu proprio has taken effect,” in 2010.

The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei issued the 2011 , clarifying aspects of .

In March 2020, the CDF announced that it had issued giving new Eucharistic prefaces and provision for the optional celebration of more recently named saints in the extraordinary form.

The provided seven new Eucharistic prefaces for the extraordinary form of the Mass, which may be used for particular occasions, such as votive Masses or the feast days of saints.

The second , , established a provision for the celebration of the third-class feasts of saints canonized after July 1960, whose memorials were established after the 1962 Roman Missal.

Vatican economy council meets in person to discuss investment policy

Vatican City, Jul 15, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Members of the Vatican’s Council for the Economy met in person on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the Holy See’s final balance for 2020 and its investment policy.

The July 14-15 meeting was the first time that the body has met face-to-face since Pope Francis six women to the body overseeing Vatican finances and the work of the Secretariat for the Economy.

“The subject of the meeting was the approval of the final balance for 2020 of the Holy See, presented by [Fr. Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves] the Prefect of the SPE [Secretariat for the Economy], and a reflection on the Holy See’s investment policy, moderated by Dr. Eva Castillo Sanz,” said the Holy See in a July 15 .

Eva Castillo Sanz, a former president of Merrill Lynch Spain and Portugal, was one of the appointed in August 2020.

Previously, the members of the economy council, established by Pope Francis in 2014, had consisted of eight cardinals, six laymen, and a priest secretary.

The Council for the Economy in February to discuss the details of the annual budget for 2021.

The coronavirus crisis has increased the pressure on the Vatican’s already tight budget, with the Vatican Museums, a major source of income, forced to close for more than 24 weeks to prevent the spread of the virus.

Among those attending this week’s meeting in person were the council’s president Cardinal Reinhard Marx, its secretary, Msgr. Brian Ferme, as well as Cardinal Péter Erdő, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Cardinal Anders Arborelius, and Archbishop Giuseppe Petrocchi.

Also present were Charlotte Kreuter-Kirchhof, Eva Castillo Sanz, Marija Kolak, Alberto Minali, and María Concepción Osákar Garaicoechea.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Fr. Guerrero, and Auditor General Alessandro Cassinis Righini were also in attendance.

Connecting remotely from their home countries were Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, Archbishop Gérald Lacroix, Leslie Jane Ferrar, and Ruth Kelly.

The Holy See press office said that Marx celebrated Mass for those present at the Vatican on the evening of July 14.

The Council for the Economy will hold its next assembly in September.

Vatican’s financial watchdog highlights ‘increasing trend’ in reports to Promoter of Justice

Vatican City, Jul 15, 2021 / 05:40 am (CNA).

The Vatican’s financial watchdog authority reported Thursday that it received 89 suspicious activity reports in 2020, 16 of which it forwarded to the Promoter of Justice for possible prosecution.

In a 52-page , released July 15, the Supervisory and Financial Information Authority (ASIF) said that the figures underlined “an increasing trend” in the proportion of reports sent onwards compared to the number received.

“As regards financial intelligence, in 2020 the Authority received 89 suspicious activity reports (SARs), 85 of which from the supervised entity, 2 from public authorities, 1 from a non-profit organization (NPO), and 1 from another entity,” the report said.

“It forwarded 16 reports to the Office of the Promoter of Justice (OPJ), of which 10 were first reports and 6 supplementary ones. This confirms an increasing trend in the proportion of reports sent and SARs received, demonstrating a steady improvement in the quality of SARs.”

The watchdog authority previously that it received 64 suspicious activity reports in 2019, 15 of which it forwarded to the Promoter of Justice.

Its latest report said that in 2020, 49 requests for information were exchanged with other Vatican authorities concerning 124 subjects, compared to 24 requests in 2019.

“This represents an important increase compared with the previous year, which confirms the considerable synergies created between the institutions of the Holy See and the Vatican City State in the fight against criminal activities,” it said.

The annual report disclosed that the AIF exchanged 58 requests for information with foreign financial intelligence units concerning 196 subjects, along with 19 “spontaneous communications” about 104 subjects.

The 2020 report noted that Pope Francis approved to the watchdog authority in December.

The pope ratified , as well as approving a new name for the agency created by Benedict XVI in 2010 to oversee Vatican financial transactions.

The body, which ensures that the Vatican complies with international financial standards, changed its name from the Financial Intelligence Authority (AIF) to the Supervisory and Financial Information Authority (ASIF).

In the new report’s introduction, Giuseppe Schlitzer said that the agency’s activity was “particularly intense” in 2020.

“The staff, who had to work remotely during the most acute phases of the pandemic, worked in a spirit of service and showed remarkable ability to adapt to a very exceptional situation,” he wrote.

“In the year under review, the staffing level, which was insufficient at the start of the year, increased significantly from 9 to 13 full-time employees, a number more in line with the authority’s workload.”

The new report noted that Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering watchdog, carried out an of the Vatican in October 2020.

ASIF said that the latest Moneyval , issued in June, gave the Vatican good effectiveness ratings. It presented charts suggesting that the Holy See/Vatican City State compared favorably with other jurisdictions in terms of its effectiveness in preventing and countering money laundering and terrorist financing.

“As a result of the assessment, the jurisdiction was placed in regular follow-up at the Moneyval Plenary, an outcome enjoyed by a limited number of countries, meaning that the next technical compliance assessment will take place in three years, and the next effectiveness assessment, with related on-site visit, in five years,” the report said.

The approval of ASIF’s new statutes in December marked the end of a turbulent year for the agency. At the start of 2020, the authority was still suspended from the Egmont Group, through which 164 financial intelligence authorities worldwide share information and coordinate their work.

The agency was suspended from the group on Nov. 13, 2019, after Vatican gendarmes the offices of the Secretariat of State and the AIF. This was followed by the abrupt of René Brülhart, the body’s high-profile president, and the of Carmelo Barbagallo as his replacement.

Two prominent figures, Marc Odendall and Juan Zarate, then resigned from the AIF’s board of directors. Odendall said at the time that the AIF had been effectively rendered “an empty shell” and that there was “no point” remaining involved in its work.

The Egmont Group reinstated the AIF on Jan. 22, 2020. In April, Schlitzer was director of the agency, succeeding Tommaso Di Ruzza, one of five officials after the raid.

During an inflight press conference in November 2019, Pope Francis criticized the AIF under Di Ruzza, that “it was AIF that did not control, it seems, the crimes of others. And therefore [it failed] in its duty of controls. I hope that they prove it is not so. Because there is, still, the presumption of innocence.”

The Vatican earlier this month that Brülhart and Di Ruzza were among 10 people facing trial over allegations of financial impropriety.

Vatican prosecutors charged Di Ruzza with embezzlement, abuse of office, and violation of confidentiality, and Brülhart with abuse of office.

Di Ruzza has of the charges, as has Brülhart, who said that the trial would show

Pope Francis returns to Vatican after colon surgery

Vatican City, Jul 14, 2021 / 04:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis returned to the Vatican on Wednesday after spending 11 days in a Rome hospital to recover from colon surgery.

The Vatican said on July 14 that Pope Francis was discharged from Gemelli Hospital shortly after 10:30 a.m. Rome time and left the hospital to return to his Vatican residence by car.

On his way home, the pope stopped to pray at the Basilica of St. Mary Major. According to Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni, the pope visited the Marian icon , before which he “expressed his gratitude for the success of his surgery and offered a prayer for all the sick, especially those he had met during his stay in hospital.”

The pope arrived at the Santa Marta guest house, where he lives, shortly before noon.

Pope Francis was on July 4 for an operation to relieve severe stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis. The three-hour surgery included a left hemicolectomy, the removal of one side of the colon.

The Vatican has said that the pope is making “normal clinical progress” in his recovery.

While in hospital, he spent time reading, doing some work, walking in the corridors, and celebrating Mass in a private chapel.

On July 13, Francis made an afternoon to the Department of Pediatric Oncology on the 10th floor of the hospital.

The Vatican press office distributed photographs of the pope walking through the ward to applause from medical workers, as well as blessing children undergoing treatment.

During his hospitalization, Pope Francis also exchanged with the young patients in the nearby pediatric oncology and children’s neurosurgery wards.

Young cancer patients joined Pope Francis as he led the from a balcony on the 10th floor on July 11, in his first public outing since the operation.

“Among the many patients [Pope Francis] has met during these days, he addressed a special thought to those who are bedridden and cannot return home: May they live this time as an opportunity, even if experienced in pain, to open themselves with tenderness to their sick brother or sister in the next bed, with whom they share the same human frailty,” a Vatican spokesman said on July 13.

The pope’s hospital stay took place in a wing reserved for papal medical emergencies, in the where St. John Paul II stayed for medical treatment at different points in his pontificate.

Pope Francis visits children on oncology ward of Rome hospital

Vatican City, Jul 13, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis on Tuesday met with children on the oncology ward of the Rome hospital where he is recovering after colon surgery.

The Holy See press office said that on July 13 the pope made an afternoon visit to the Department of Pediatric Oncology on the 10th floor of Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, where he is currently staying.

The press office distributed photographs of the pope walking through the ward to applause from medical workers, as well as blessing children undergoing treatment.

Pope Francis was on July 4 for an operation to relieve severe stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis. The three-hour surgery included a left hemicolectomy, the removal of one side of the colon.

On July 12, the Vatican confirmed that the 84-year-old pope would remain at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital for before being discharged, “to optimize the medical and rehabilitation therapy.”

While in hospital, the pope has been staying in a wing reserved for papal medical emergencies, in the where St. John Paul II stayed for medical treatment at different points in his pontificate.

During his hospitalization, Pope Francis has exchanged with the young patients in the nearby pediatric oncology and children’s neurosurgery wards.

Young cancer patients joined Pope Francis as he led the from a balcony on the 10th floor on July 11, in his first public outing since the operation.

“Among the many patients [Pope Francis] has met during these days, he addressed a special thought to those who are bedridden and cannot return home: May they live this time as an opportunity, even if experienced in pain, to open themselves with tenderness to their sick brother or sister in the next bed, with whom they share the same human frailty,” a Vatican spokesman on July 13.

Pope Francis prays for more than 60 people killed in Iraq COVID ward fire

Vatican City, Jul 13, 2021 / 07:35 am (CNA).

The Vatican said on Tuesday that Pope Francis is praying for the more than 60 people killed in a fire in a coronavirus isolation ward at a hospital in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah.

The Vatican released a condolence on July 13 as the pope after a colon surgery at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital.

“His Holiness Pope Francis sends the assurance of his spiritual closeness to all affected by the tragic fire at the COVID isolation ward of the al-Hussein hospital in Nasiriyah,” said the telegram sent on the pope’s behalf by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

“Deeply saddened, he prays especially for those who have died and for the comfort of their families and friends who mourn their loss.”

Pope Francis visited Nasiriyah briefly during his to Iraq. He traveled to the city’s airport on March 6, between his with Iraq’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and his visit to the , the birthplace of Abraham.

Iraqi medical officials the Associated Press on July 13 that 64 people had so far died as a result of the fire at the al-Hussein Teaching Hospital, with more than 100 others injured.

The AP reported that the ward, containing 70 beds, opened three months ago.

The authorities have not announced the cause of the fire, which began on the night of July 12, but sources have told journalists that they believe it began with an oxygen cylinder explosion.

In April, more than 80 people were killed in a fire at a hospital in the capital Baghdad started by an exploding oxygen tank.

Pope Francis for the victims after his Regina Coeli address on April 25.

“As of now, there are 82 people who have died,” he said. “Let us pray for all of them.”

Iraq, which has a population of 39 million people, has recorded more than 1.4 million cases of COVID-19 and over 17,000 deaths as of July 13, according to the .

The papal telegram, addressed to Archbishop Mitja Leskovar, the apostolic nuncio in Iraq, concluded: “Upon the patients, staff, and caregivers [the pope] invokes God’s blessings of consolation, strength, and peace.”

Pope Francis names Illinois priest to lead Covington diocese in Kentucky

Vatican City, Jul 13, 2021 / 06:00 am (CNA).

The Vatican announced Tuesday that Pope Francis appointed Illinois priest Msgr. John C. Iffert to be the next bishop of the Diocese of Covington, Kentucky.

Iffert, 53, will Covington’s 10th bishop, Roger J. Foys, whose resignation was accepted July 13 by Pope Francis. Foys, who will turn 76 later this month, is retiring for age reasons.

The bishop-elect has served as vicar general and moderator of the curia in the , in southern Illinois, since Oct. 1, 2020.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, welcomed Iffert’s appointment “with great joy.”

“Bishop-elect Iffert brings a wonderful background in ministry as a priest of the Diocese of Belleville where he has served as a parochial vicar, a pastor, and most recently as the Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia,” Kurtz said in a July 13 .

He added that Iffert “is known to have great pastoral heart as well as excellent pastoral experience in his more than two decades of service in the Diocese of Belleville.”

“The bishops of the Province of Louisville have a great fraternity, and together we welcome Bishop-elect Iffert. We promise him and Bishop Foys our prayerful support,” Kurtz stated.

Iffert grew up with two older sisters on a farm outside the small Illinois town of Du Quoin.

After high school, he studied political science and economics at Illinois State University. After graduation, he worked as an analyst in Illinois’ Bureau of the Budget.

He entered seminary in 1992 and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Belleville in 1997.

After serving as a parochial vicar and a pastor in the diocese, Iffert entered the Dominican novitiate with the Province of St. Albert the Great in 2003. He professed simple vows with the Order of Preachers the next year, which he renewed in 2006. He left the Dominicans and returned to the diocesan priesthood in 2008.

As part of his priestly service in Belleville, Iffert was a member of the College of Consultors, Priest Personnel Board, Diocesan Finance Council, and the planning committee for the program.

He has also been a part of the spiritual ministry team for the “Teens Encounter Christ” conference.

The bishop-elect was part of a group of community and church leaders who founded the in Mount Vernon, an ecumenical ministry that received the Governor’s Cup Award for its service to the local community.

At the time of Iffert’s appointment as vicar general of the Diocese of Belleville in 2020, Bishop Michael McGovern that he “is an excellent priest and a dedicated pastor, and he is widely respected in our diocese.”

“With his strong faith and many talents, I believe he will be an excellent servant leader, and bring a pastor’s heart to the work of administration,” McGovern said in a letter to priests and laity.

The was created in 1853. It covers a territory of over 3,000 square miles in northern Kentucky and serves 89,000 Catholics.

Vatican: Pope Francis ‘continuing planned treatment’ on 10th day in hospital

Vatican City, Jul 13, 2021 / 04:50 am (CNA).

On the pope’s 10th day in the hospital following intestinal surgery, the Vatican said that Pope Francis’ ongoing medical treatment would allow him to “return to the Vatican as soon as possible.”

“The Holy Father is continuing his planned treatment and rehabilitation, which will allow him to return to the Vatican as soon as possible,” Matteo Bruni, the Holy See press office director, on July 13.

Pope Francis was on July 4 to undergo an operation to relieve severe stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis. The three-hour surgery included a left hemicolectomy, the removal of one side of the colon.

On July 12, the Vatican confirmed that the 84-year-old pope would remain at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital for before being discharged, “to optimize the medical and rehabilitation therapy.”

The Vatican spokesman had originally announced that the pope would spend hospitalized, “barring complications.”

During the pope’s recovery in the hospital, he has taken time to meet with young patients in the nearby oncology ward, as well as other patients and medical staff on the 10th floor of the Gemelli Hospital, where he is being treated.

Young cancer patients joined Pope Francis as he led the from a balcony on the 10th floor on July 11.

“Among the many patients [Pope Francis] has met during these days, he addressed a special thought to those who are bedridden and cannot return home: May they live this time as an opportunity, even if experienced in pain, to open themselves with tenderness to their sick brother or sister in the next bed, with whom they share the same human frailty,” Bruni said in the latest health update from the Vatican.

While in hospital, the pope has been staying in a wing reserved for papal medical emergencies, in the where St. John Paul II stayed for medical treatments in different points of his pontificate.

This was Francis’ first major operation during his pontificate. In 2019, he had an outpatient surgery for cataracts and he occasionally suffers from flare-ups of .

“In these days of being hospitalized, I have experienced how important good healthcare is, accessible to all, as it is in Italy and in other countries,” Pope Francis said in his first public appearance after his surgery.

He also expressed his appreciation and encouragement to doctors, healthcare workers, and hospital staff.

“They work so hard,” the pope said.

Pope Francis: Late Congolese cardinal was ‘a man of justice, peace, and unity’

Vatican City, Jul 13, 2021 / 04:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis paid tribute on Tuesday to the late Congolese Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, describing him as “a man of justice, peace, and unity.”

The pope, who is currently in hospital after undergoing colon surgery, sent a condolence on July 13 following the 81-year-old cardinal’s death on Sunday.

“Attentive to the needs of the faithful, filled with courage and determination, Cardinal Monsengwo dedicated his life as a priest and bishop to the inculturation of the faith and to the preferential option for the poor,” the pope said in the message sent to Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, Monsengwo’s successor as archbishop of Kinshasa.

“In this way, he embodied the prophetic mission of the Church. A man of justice, peace, and unity, he has been deeply involved in integral human development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

Monsengwo led the archdiocese of Kinshasa from 2008 until his retirement in 2018 at the age of 79. The archdiocese, which serves more than seven million Catholics, is based in the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The DRC is a central African country with a population of almost 87 million people, an estimated 35 million of whom are baptized Catholics.

The pope wrote: “Having learned with sadness of the death of Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop emeritus of Kinshasa, I send my deepest condolences to you and to his family, to the auxiliary bishops and to the faithful of the dioceses of Inongo, Kisangani, and Kinshasa, of which he was successively the pastor.”

“I ask the Father of all mercies to welcome in his peace and light this exegete, this man of science, this great spiritual man and this pastor intensely devoted to the service of the Church, wherever he was called.”

Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya was on Oct. 7, 1939, in Mongobele, Mai-Ndombe Province. After beginning his priestly formation in Africa, he studied theology at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome. He was ordained as a priest of the diocese of Inongo, in western DRC, on Dec. 21, 1963.

After further studies at the Pontifical Biblical Institute of Rome and of Jerusalem, he taught Sacred Scripture at the theological faculty in Kinshasa and at John XXIII Major Seminary.

In 1980, at the age of 40, he was named an auxiliary bishop of Inongo. A year later, he was appointed an auxiliary of Kisangani archdiocese in northeastern DRC.

In 1984, he was elected president of the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo. Four years later, he was named archbishop of Kisangani.

In 1991, Monsengwo chaired the Sovereign National Conference, a body that created a framework for the country’s from the rule of Mobutu Sese Seko, who had led the country then known as Zaire since 1965.

While the process was interrupted by efforts to oust Mobutu, resulting in a protracted civil war, Monsengwo led the Church’s peacemaking efforts through negotiations, leading to the Inter-Congolese Dialogue (2001-2003) that ultimately contributed to the end of civil strife.

Monsengwo was named archbishop of Kinshasa on Dec. 6, 2007, and became a cardinal on Nov. 20, 2010.

In 2012, he preached the Lenten spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia at the invitation of Pope Benedict XVI. In the same year, he was named as one of three presidents-delegate of the synod of bishops on the new evangelization. Monsengwo also took part in the family synods of 2014 and 2015.

In 2013, Pope Francis named him as a member of the Council of Cardinal Advisers, a body advising the pope on Church governance and the revision of the apostolic constitution on the Roman Curia.

Monsengwo was flown to France for medical treatment days before his death in Versailles, in the western suburbs of Paris, on July 11.

Local media that the cardinal’s body will be repatriated to the DRC on July 19 and buried in Kinshasa’s Our Lady of the Congo Cathedral.

In his telegram, Pope Francis said: “Cardinal Monsengwo was a great and respected figure in the ecclesial, social and political life of the nation and was always committed to dialogue and reconciliation of his people. His contribution has been significant for the progress of the country.”

“A faithful and close collaborator in recent years, he has not ceased to make his contribution to the life of the universal Church.”

“As a token of comfort, I impart my apostolic blessing to you, to the auxiliary bishops, to the priests, to consecrated persons, to the family of the deceased cardinal and his loved ones, to the people of the diocese, and to all those who will take part in the celebration of the funeral.”

What’s behind a false rumor about Pope Francis resigning ‘in the next few hours’?

Vatican City, Jul 12, 2021 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

Rumors started to fly around social media Monday claiming that Pope Francis was “likely” to resign from the papacy “in the next few hours.”

The pope is currently hospitalized after undergoing a July 4 to remove part of his colon, fueling reports that health reasons could have prompted Francis to take this step.

In fact, there is no sign that Pope Francis intends to resign soon. And the confusing reports are probably explained by a mistranslation of Italian into English.

The initial social media reports of a pending papal resignation cited a July 12 by the popular Italian Catholic news aggregator Il Sismografo.

In the post, the website’s editors commented on a showing Pope Francis being pushed in a wheelchair in Rome’s Gemelli Hospital on Sunday, July 11, as he greeted medical workers and patients.

Some social media commentators quoted an out-of-context and poor English translation of the last sentence of the article.

The final sentence of the post, which was published at 9:22 a.m. Rome time, said, “meanwhile, rumors are coming from Gemelli about the likely discharge of the Pope in the next few hours.”

The Italian sentence used the word “dimissione,” which in context meant “discharge” or “release” from hospital.

The confusing part is that the same Italian word can also be translated to mean “resignation” in English.

Online A.I. translators like Google Translate do not have context for translations and are likely to give the most frequently or commonly used meaning of a word. Thus translating “dimissione” as “resignation.”

On July 5, the Vatican spokesman that, barring unexpected complications, Pope Francis was expected to spend around seven days in hospital following his surgery, which would make his release to return home on Monday, July 12, a plausible rumor.

But shortly after noon Rome time, and a few hours after the Il Sismografo article was posted, Matteo Bruni that the pope would be spending “a few more days” in hospital to continue his recovery.

There are several signs that Pope Francis is probably not thinking about resigning, not only in the coming hours, but in the coming days and months.

On Sunday, he was well enough to give his regular from a balcony on the 10th floor of Gemelli Hospital, and though he spoke for a little less time than usual, he was able to stand, smile, and wave at the people gathered below.

Francis is also planning several trips in the coming months: first to in September and then in November.

While it is unlikely a papal resignation is imminent, that does not mean it is not possible in the future.

Pope Francis has before hinted at the possibility that he might resign, saying in 2015 that the Catholic Church should not have “leaders for life,” and noting in 2014 that Pope Benedict XVI’s 2013 resignation “cleared a path” for future papal resignations.

In a homily during one of his morning Masses in 2018, he asked Catholics to pray for priests, bishops, and the pope, who he said, must learn to leave their posts when it becomes necessary.

Francis noted that St. Paul, who was “compelled by the Holy Spirit” to leave Ephesus and journey to Jerusalem, “shows us the pathway for every bishop when it’s time to take his leave and step down.”

“When I read this, I think about myself,” Pope Francis , “because I am a bishop and I must take my leave and step down.”

Pope Francis will stay longer in hospital, says Vatican

Vatican City, Jul 12, 2021 / 04:50 am (CNA).

Pope Francis will stay longer in hospital to recover from a surgery on his colon, the Vatican said on Monday.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni on July 12 that the pope would remain at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital for “a few more days” before being discharged, “to optimize the medical and rehabilitation therapy.”

Francis was originally expected to stay , barring complications.

Bruni said that the pope spent a “calm day” yesterday and that he offered Mass again in the private chapel of his hospital suite.

Pope Francis was on July 4 to undergo an operation to relieve stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis, a common condition that involves the formation of small bulges or sacs on the wall of the colon.

On July 11, Pope Francis led the from a balcony on the 10th floor of the Gemelli Hospital, where his operation and recovery are taking place.

“In these days of being hospitalized, I have experienced how important good healthcare is, accessible to all, as it is in Italy and in other countries,” Pope Francis said in his first public appearance after his surgery.

He also expressed his appreciation and encouragement to doctors, healthcare workers, and hospital staff. “They work so hard,” the pope said.

Young patients stood beside Francis and waved as he delivered his address.

“And let us pray for all the sick. Here are some friends who are sick children,” he said, gesturing to the children next to him.

Bruni said on July 12 that, “before the recitation of the Angelus, [Pope Francis] wished to meet some young patients from the nearby oncology ward with their families who, subsequently, accompanied him to the terrace on the 10th floor on the occasion of the Marian prayer.”

“At the end, he greeted the hospitalized patients on the floor, chatting briefly with the medical and nursing staff,” the Vatican spokesman added.

While in hospital, the pope has been staying in a wing reserved for papal medical emergencies, in the where St. John Paul II stayed for various medical treatments during his pontificate.

According to Bruni, Pope Francis reflected on the victories of the Argentine and Italian national soccer teams.

Argentina triumphed over Brazil in the Copa America and Italy beat England to win Euro 2020 on July 11.

“His Holiness,” the spokesman said, “dwelt on the meaning of sport and its values, and on that sporting ability to be able to accept any result, even defeat: ‘Only in this way, faced with the difficulties of life, can we always get involved, fighting without giving up, with hope and trust,’” the pope said.

A 10-person medical team was involved in Francis’ surgery on July 4, which was carried out under general anesthesia, lasted about three hours, and included a left hemicolectomy, the removal of one side of the colon.

This was Francis’ first major operation during his pontificate. In 2019, he had an outpatient surgery for cataracts and he occasionally suffers from flare-ups of .

“At this particular moment, [Pope Francis] looks toward all those who suffer, expressing his closeness to the sick, especially those most in need of care,” Bruni said in one of the Holy See’s daily health bulletins.

Pope Francis prays the Angelus from his hospital balcony

Rome, Italy, Jul 11, 2021 / 05:45 am (CNA).

In his first public appearance since having an intestinal surgery, Pope Francis prayed the Angelus from the balcony of his hospital on Sunday and delivered a message urging access to good healthcare for everyone.

“In these days of being hospitalized, I have experienced how important good health care is, accessible to all, as it is in Italy and in other countries,” Pope Francis said July 11.

“A free healthcare system that assures good service, accessible to everyone. This precious benefit must not be lost. It needs to be kept. And for this we all need to be committed, because it serves everyone and requires everyone’s contribution.”

The pope spoke while standing beside young patients from Rome’s Gemelli University Hospital where he has been recovering for one week after an intestinal operation in which part of his colon was removed.

Pope Francis said that even when Catholic hospitals face economic difficulties, it is vital to remember that “the Church’s vocation is not to have money, but to serve, and service is always free.”

“Don’t forget this: Save free institutions,” the pope said.

Doctors and nurses stood together with a group of pilgrims gathered outside in the courtyard under the hospital window. People waved flags and banners, and some religious sisters sang hymns as they awaited the pope’s arrival.

“I would like to express my appreciation and my encouragement to the doctors and all healthcare workers and hospital staff at this hospital and other hospitals. They work so hard,” the pope said.

Young patients stood beside the pope and waved as he delivered his Angelus address.

“And let us pray for all the sick. Here are some friends who are sick children,” the pope said gesturing to the children next to him.

During the pope’s week-long hospital stay, Francis exchanged affectionate with the young patients in the nearby pediatric oncology and children’s neurosurgery wards.

“Why do children suffer? Why children suffer is a question that touches the heart," the pope said.

"Accompany them with prayer, and pray for all the sick, especially those in more difficult conditions. May no one be left alone. May everyone receive the anointing of listening, closeness and care. Let us ask this through the intercession of Mary, our Mother, Health of the Sick."

Pope Francis was on July 4 to undergo an operation to relieve stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis, a common condition that involves the formation of small bulges or sacs on the wall of the colon.

The Vatican earlier this week that the 84-year-old pope had suffered a “severe” narrowing of the colon.

A 10-person medical team was involved in Francis’ surgery, which was carried out under general anesthesia, lasted about three hours and included a left hemicolectomy, the removal of one side of the colon.

The Vatican spokesman said July 5 that the pope was expected to spend recovering in the hospital, “barring complications.”

Pope Francis has been recovering on the 10th floor of the sprawling polyclinic in a wing reserved for papal medical emergencies.

It is the where John Paul II stayed during many of his hospital treatments, including for a colon surgery in 1992 and his hospitalization after being shot in an assassination attempt in 1981.

This is Francis’ first major operation during his pontificate. In 2019, he had an outpatient surgery for cataracts and he occasionally suffers from flare-ups of .

After praying the Angelus with the crowd, the pope said that he has prayed for the people of Haiti after their president was on July 7.

“I join in the heartfelt appeal of the country's Bishops to ‘lay down your arms, choose life, choose to live together fraternally in the interest of all and in the interest of Haiti,’” he said.

“I am close to the dear Haitian people; I hope that the spiral of violence will end and the nation will be able to resume its journey towards a future of peace and harmony.”

Speaking from the hospital balcony, the pope also thanked everyone who has prayed for him during his hospitalization.

“I have felt your closeness and the support of your prayers. Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he said.

Pope Francis reflected on this Sunday’s Scripture reading from chapter six of the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus’ disciples “anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.”

He said: “This ‘oil’ makes me think of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, which gives comfort to spirit and body. But this ‘oil’ is also listening, the closeness, the care, the tenderness of those who take care of the sick person: it is like a caress that makes you feel better, soothes your pain and cheers you up.”

“Sooner or later all of us, all of us, need this ‘anointing’ of closeness and tenderness, and we can all give it to someone else, with a visit, a phone call, a hand outstretched to someone who needs help.”

Pope Francis and children in hospital exchange greetings

Rome, Italy, Jul 10, 2021 / 05:00 am (CNA).

During his hospitalization, Pope Francis has exchanged affectionate messages with the young patients in the nearby pediatric oncology and children’s neurosurgery wards, according to the Vatican.

The pope, who has been recovering from intestinal surgery in Gemelli University Hospital this week, also received handwritten get well cards from children staying in other hospitals in Rome.

“Dear Pope Francis, feel my prayer like I felt yours when I was sick,” wrote a girl named Giulia, who has undergone treatment at the Vatican-owned Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital.

Below the message, Giulia drew a picture of her holding Pope Francis’ hand while he is in a hospital bed.

Another card from children in the Gemelli polyclinic had a colored pencil drawing of the pope and inside the message said: “Dear Pope Francis, we know that you are not very well and that you are now in the same hospital as us. Even if we cannot see each other, we send you a strong hug and we wish you to get well soon.”

Pope Francis was on July 4 to undergo an operation to relieve stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis, a common condition that involves the formation of small bulges or sacs on the wall of the colon.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said July 5 that the pope was expected to spend recovering in the hospital, “barring complications.”

“At this particular moment, [Pope Francis] looks toward all those who suffer, expressing his closeness to the sick, especially those most in need of care,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in one of the Holy See’s .

In the latest health update released July 10, the Vatican said that the pope’s clinical progress is as “expected” and that “his blood tests are satisfactory.”

“He is gradually resuming work and continues to stroll in the corridor of the apartment,” Bruni said.

“In the afternoon, he celebrated Holy Mass in the private chapel and in the evening he dined with those who have been assisting him during these days.”

A 10-person medical team was involved in Francis’ surgery, which was carried out under general anesthesia, lasted about three hours and included a left hemicolectomy, the removal of one side of the colon.

This is Francis’ first major operation during his pontificate. In 2019, he had an outpatient surgery for cataracts and he occasionally suffers from flare-ups of .

The Vatican has that Pope Francis will lead the noon Angelus prayer from his hospital room on Sunday.

Pope Francis is staying on the 10th floor of the Gemelli polyclinic in a reserved for papal medical emergencies.

The Catholic hospital and medical school has treated other popes and Catholic figures, including John Paul II after he was shot in an assassination attempt and Mother Teresa, who was treated in the clinic’s cardiology department.

“The Holy Father, experiencing first-hand the human dedication of the medical and health personnel assisting him, has addressed a special thought to all those who with care and compassion choose the face of suffering, engaging in a personal relationship with the sick, especially the most fragile and vulnerable,” the Vatican spokesman said.

Could Hungary find an unexpected ally in the Holy See?

Vatican City, Jul 10, 2021 / 02:00 am (CNA).

Under fire for a touching on homosexuality and threatened with sanctions by the European Commission, Hungary might find an unexpected ally in the Holy See.

For Hungary, the alliance with the Holy See could repay the country for Pope Francis’ speedy trip to Budapest. The pope will go there on Sept. 12, celebrating the final Mass of the and then leaving for a three-day pastoral visit to Slovakia. When he the trip after last Sunday’s Angelus, the pope did not even describe his journey to Budapest as a pastoral visit.

Although there is a clear divide between Pope Francis’ views and the policies of the Hungarian government, especially on the issue of migration, Hungary can potentially serve as an ally with the Holy See in promoting some values.

Western media describe the country’s new law as an “anti-LGBT bill.” But according to the Hungarian Conservative , “the main body of the law is made up of a set of strict, yet quite understandable provisions with a goal of deterring would-be sexual predators from committing offenses by simply increasing the severity of the legal punishment such a person would need to face.”

The magazine added that “the length of possible prison sentences for child molestation and possession of child pornography has also grown considerably, and in some specific cases (with violence involved), the law excluded the possibility of parole.”

But the Hungarian anti-pedophilia bill also bans the portrayal of homosexuality and gender reassignment in school education materials and television programs for under-18s.

“It basically means displaying the ‘PG-18’ sign on their screen,” the Hungarian Conservative wrote.

Critics of the law argue that it conflates pedophilia and homosexuality. Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, took the strongest stance, saying: “Homosexuality is equated with pornography. This legislation uses the protection of children as an excuse to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation. It is a disgrace.”

She also said that the Commission would start an infringement procedure if Hungary did not withdraw the law, which went into effect on July 7.

Von der Leyen has also criticized Poland over the introduction of in a number of towns.

Poland was also targeted after the country’s constitutional tribunal ruled that eugenic abortion was unconstitutional. The , made in October 2020, came in January.

The European Parliament, the EU’s law-making body, passed a in November 2020 lamenting what it called a “de facto ban on the right to abortion in Poland.”

The Holy See is facing similar criticisms in Italy amid a heated discussion around the “DDL Zan,” a bill named after the Italian MP Alessandro Zan, which would include transphobic, homophobic, and anti-LGBT acts among hate crimes.

The bill seeks to establish May 17 as a national day against homophobia and stresses that schools must commit to activities aimed at “promoting a culture of respect and inclusion and fighting prejudices” against gay and transgender persons.

On June 17, the Holy See confidentially delivered a to the Italian Ministry for the Foreign Affairs, lamenting that some of the bill's contents would harm the principles of the Italy-Holy See concordat.

Signed in 1929 and revised in 1984, the concordat commits the Italian government to abstaining from regulations that might threaten the Church’s freedoms.

In particular, the Holy See argued that the DDL Zan harms freedom of expression and freedom of education since it does not imply any exemption for Catholic schools from celebrating the national day against homophobia, thus mandating the schools to hold activities that they consider to be against their educational project.

Since the “note verbale” was leaked, the Holy See has faced on Italian state issues by supporters of the bill. As a result, the Holy See is now seeking support in backing its initiative, which is aimed at defending freedom of expression.

According to sources in the Vatican Secretariat of State, the Holy See would appreciate support on the issues raised by the DDL Zan from countries that share the Holy See’s views.

The sources also explained to CNA that Holy See diplomacy had an informal approach with these countries to establish a diplomatic alliance on ethical issues. The source said that the casual approach concretely took place with two countries under fire for their views. The hidden reference was to Hungary and Poland.

In line with its usual custom, the Holy See will not take any public position on the Hungarian law, nor will it defend Polish constitutional tribunal ruling: these are internal issues of states.

But it is clear to the Holy See that it is fighting the same battle as Hungary, Poland, and certain other Central and Eastern European countries in the EU. The issues at stake are freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, and the fight against the so-called new rights, aimed at imposing gender ideology and “sexual and reproductive health rights” on member states. This trend was evident with the recent of the so-called by the European Parliament.

If we are looking for an official Holy See statement, it is unlikely to appear. Instead, though, the Holy See will informally support and seek the support of any country that would share its views. This is, in the end, the Holy See’s realpolitik.

Pope Francis says Christ is an example for South Sudan’s leaders as nation marks 10th anniversary

Vatican City, Jul 9, 2021 / 07:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis and two other Christian leaders have sent a message to the political leaders of South Sudan on the 10th anniversary of the country’s independence.

In the July 9 , they said that “much more needs to be done in South Sudan to shape a nation that reflects God’s kingdom, in which the dignity of all is respected and all are reconciled.”

“This may require personal sacrifice from you as leaders -- Christ’s own example of leadership shows this powerfully -- and today we wish you to know that we stand alongside you as you look to the future and seek to discern afresh how best to serve all the people of South Sudan,” the letter said.

South Sudan, a landlocked country of 11 million people in east-central Africa, gained independence from the Republic of the Sudan following a referendum in January 2011.

There are significant numbers of Catholics and Anglicans in the country, as well as members of the Presbyterian Church in South Sudan.

The message, which was signed by Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and Church of Scotland moderator Jim Wallace, noted that in a sent at Christmas, they had prayed for greater trust among South Sudanese leaders, and encouraged them to be more generous in service to their people.

“Since then, we have been glad to see some small progress,” they added. “Sadly, your people continue to live in fear and uncertainty, and lack confidence that their nation can indeed deliver the ‘justice, liberty and prosperity’ celebrated in your national anthem.”

The letter also recalled the April 2019 at the Vatican between political and religious leaders of South Sudan.

The Vatican-hosted “spiritual retreat” for the South Sudanese leaders brought together President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the then opposition leader (and now Vice President) Riek Machar following a five-year civil war that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

On that occasion, Pope Francis encouraged the leaders to “seek what unites you, beginning with the fact that you belong to one and the same people, and to overcome all that divides you.”

The pope told them that he was praying for them to become peacemakers, who “build peace through dialogue, negotiation, and forgiveness.”

In the July 9 message, Pope Francis, Welby, and Wallace noted that “weighty promises” were made during the 2019 retreat.

“We pray that those promises will shape your actions, so that it will become possible for us to visit and celebrate with you and your people in person, honoring your contributions to a nation that fulfills the hopes of July 9, 2011,” they said, referring to the day the country was founded.

The three leaders invoked God’s blessings upon the politicians and all the people of South Sudan.

“Your nation is blessed with immense potential,” the message said, “and we encourage you to make even greater efforts to enable your people to enjoy the full fruits of independence.”

Caritas Internationalis also released a for South Sudan’s independence anniversary.

Quoting Aloysius John, the organization’s secretary general, the statement said that “the 10th anniversary of independence could be a starting point for a new South Sudan moving towards political stability, ensuring integral human development through community-based development activities put in place by civil society organizations.”

“But for this to happen, there is a need for strong support from the international community,” it said.

Gabriel Yai, the director of Caritas South Sudan, said that a peace agreement has been signed and supported by the major parties, the armies have been combined and are being trained to form a national army, and the state council and legislative councils have been formed and members of parliament sworn in.

“This is the golden opportunity for the international community to help in nation-building,” Yai underlined. “Our country is more than ever in need of international political support to consolidate the political emancipation of leaders and to build a state army that will protect the people.”

According to the statement, “the Caritas Confederation has accompanied the peace process during these 10 years, which were unfortunately deeply marked by serious conflicts.”

The Catholic charitable organization has both helped people be able to return to the country and improved the living conditions of those living in poverty there.

“With a network of several Caritas member organizations helping Caritas South Sudan, a vast emergency and rehabilitation program was put in place in the seven dioceses to respond to the needs of the poorest,” it said.

The Catholic Church and Caritas were at the forefront of helping internally displaced people, and during the war, Caritas undertook disaster response activities all over the country, “without any distinction of tribal belongingness or other differences,” Yai said.

Pope Francis to lead Sunday Angelus from hospital after intestinal surgery

Vatican City, Jul 9, 2021 / 04:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis will lead the Angelus from his hospital room on Sunday as he recovers from intestinal surgery, the Vatican said.

The pope is at Rome’s Gemelli University Hospital this week after undergoing a July 4 operation to remove part of his colon.

His hospital room is on the 10th floor of the sprawling polyclinic in a wing reserved for papal medical emergencies. The pope’s medical suite can be identified from the street by its five large windows covered by white blinds.

It is the where John Paul II stayed during many of his hospital treatments, including for a colon surgery in 1992 and his hospitalization after being shot in an assassination attempt in 1981.

John Paul II famously delivered his Sunday Angelus address from the hospital window.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni July 9 that Pope Francis was progressing normally in his recovery and had resumed his work from the hospital, alternating it with reading.

The pope was also able to celebrate Mass in the chapel of his private hospital room in the afternoon on July 8, in the presence of those assisting him during his hospitalization.

“The Holy Father gives thanks for the many messages of affection and closeness that he receives daily and asks that we continue to pray for him,” Bruni said.

The Vatican said that Pope Francis underwent a of his chest and abdomen on the morning of July 8, after temporarily running a fever the night before.

Bruni said that no problems were uncovered by the scans. He also said the pope was able to move and eat unassisted, and was no longer in need of intravenous treatment.

The July 9 Vatican statement said that the pope does not have a fever.

During his hospitalization, Pope Francis sent an affectionate message to the young patients in the nearby pediatric oncology and children’s neurosurgery wards, according to the Vatican.

The children returned the pope’s greeting with their own handwritten card, according to Vatican News.

The front of the paper had a colored pencil drawing of Pope Francis and inside the message said: “Dear Pope Francis, we know that you are not very well and that you are now in the same hospital as us. Even if we cannot see each other, we send you a strong hug and we wish you to get well soon.”

A girl named Giulia, who is hospitalized at the Vatican-owned Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital, also sent Pope Francis a greeting. On a picture of her holding his hand while he is in a hospital bed, she : “Dear Pope Francis, feel my prayer like I felt yours when I was sick.”

The Vatican earlier this week that the 84-year-old pope had suffered a “severe” narrowing of the colon.

Bruni said that examinations showed that Pope Francis had experienced “severe diverticular stenosis [narrowing] with signs of sclerosing [hardening] diverticulitis.”

Pope Francis was on July 4 to undergo an operation to relieve stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis, a common condition that involves the formation of small bulges or sacs on the wall of the colon.

A 10-person medical team was involved in Francis’ surgery, which was carried out under general anesthesia, lasted about three hours and included a left hemicolectomy, the removal of one side of the colon.

The Vatican spokesman said July 5 that the pope was expected to spend recovering in the hospital, “barring complications.”

This is Francis’ first major operation during his pontificate. In 2019, he had an outpatient surgery for cataracts and he occasionally suffers from flare-ups of .

Pope Francis offers condolences after ‘heinous assassination’ of Haiti’s president

Vatican City, Jul 8, 2021 / 08:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has offered his condolences to the Haitian people after their President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in his home Wednesday by a group of gunmen.

“Hearing the news of the heinous assassination … His Holiness Pope Francis offers his condolences to the Haitian people and to his wife, also seriously injured, whose life he commends to God,” said a sent on the pope’s behalf on July 8.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin sent the telegram to the Apostolic Nunciature in Haiti amid the political void facing the poorest country in the Americas after the assassination.

Moïse was shot dead and his wife injured when gunmen opened fire on their private residence in the capital, Port-au-Prince, on July 7. Moïse was 54 years old.

“Praying to the Father of mercy for the repose of the soul of the deceased, the Holy Father expresses his sadness and condemns all forms of violence as a means of resolving crises and conflicts,” the papal telegram said.

“He wishes for the dear Haitian people a future of fraternal harmony, solidarity, and prosperity. As a sign of comfort, he invokes the abundance of divine blessings on Haiti and all its inhabitants.”

Pope Francis received Moïse in a private audience on Jan. 26, 2018. The two men discussed Haiti’s social problems, including severe poverty. 

Haitian police said that four of the suspected gunmen were killed and two others arrested late on July 7 after the suspects held three police officers hostage.

The Catholic bishops of Haiti were “stunned” by the news of the assassination, according to a statement by the Haitian bishops’ conference.

Archbishop Launay Saturné of Cap-Haïtien said that the bishops “deplore and condemn this inadmissible and revolting murder.”

He said that the assassination “marks a regrettable turning point” in the history of the country, reported the French section of .

The bishops’ conference president added that the spiral of violence “will never help our country to get out of this political impasse.”

He said that the solution was “dialogue, consensus, and the spirit of compromise for the best interests of the nation, for the common good of the country.”

Haiti has been battling a spike of gang violence and kidnappings for ransom in recent months.

The Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince said in a statement in April that gang violence had reached “unprecedented” levels in the country.

“For some time now, we have been witnessing the descent into hell of Haitian society,” the archdiocese said, according to AFP.

A criminal gang in Haiti calling itself “400 Mazowo” kidnapped 10 Catholics, including priests and nuns, on April 11. The kidnap victims were all eventually weeks later after the Catholic Church openly criticized the government’s “inaction,” and called for all Catholic schools and institutions -- except hospitals and clinics -- to close in protest.

The strike led President Moise to announce a reshuffling of the government, including the resignation of the prime minister, Joseph Jouthe.

Archbishop Saturné invited Haitians on July 7 to “go beyond their personal pride and their group interests” in favor of the common good, and entrusted Haiti to its patron saint, Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

“Lay down the weapons! Go for life! Finally, choose fraternal living together in the interest of all and in the interest of Haiti,” he said.

Pope Francis names Jesuit cardinal to key synod on synodality position

Vatican City, Jul 8, 2021 / 06:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Thursday the Jesuit Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich as the relator general of the 2023 synod on synodality.

Hollerich, the president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (), will help to oversee the gathering of the world’s bishops in Rome.

The 62-year-old cardinal has served as archbishop of Luxembourg since 2011. His archdiocese covers the whole Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, one of Europe’s smallest countries, bordering Belgium, France, and Germany.

He thanked Pope Francis for the new appointment on July 8 via his Twitter account.

As relator general, Hollerich will take part in the meetings of the Ordinary Council of Preparation for the upcoming synod, formally known as the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

Hollerich will be expected to present a report at the start of the assembly in October 2023, introducing the theme of synodality. He will also outline the synod’s working document and the points that participants are due to discuss.

He will also preside over the preparation of the synod’s final document, which is submitted to participants for approval.

The governing synods say that, “if circumstances so indicate, the relator general presents a summary of the topics that emerge during the synodal discussions, as well as clarifying certain points and providing information on the elaboration of the final document.”

His role ceases at the dissolution of the assembly.

A nomination as relator general is seen as a mark of papal esteem. The relator general at the 2019 Amazon synod was the Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes.

At the 2018 youth synod, the post was held by another Brazilian, Cardinal Sérgio da Rocha. The relator general of the 2014-2015 family synods was Hungarian Cardinal Péter Erdő.

The Vatican in May that the synod on synodality had been postponed to 2023, with a two-year consultative preparatory phase involving Catholic dioceses worldwide.

Hollerich was on Aug. 9, 1958, in Differdange, southwestern Luxembourg.

He began his studies for the priesthood at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1981, within the Jesuit Province of South Belgium and Luxembourg.

In 1985, he departed for Japan, where he studied theology at Sophia University in Tokyo, as well as the Japanese language and culture.

After further theological studies in Frankfurt, Germany, he was ordained to the priesthood on April 21, 1990, in Brussels, Belgium.

He then spent four years studying the German language and literature at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in southern Germany.

He made his final vows in 2002 at the Church of St. Ignatius in Tokyo, passing to the Jesuit Province of Japan.

Named archbishop of Luxembourg by Benedict XVI, Hollerich served as president of the from 2014 to 2018.

He was appointed a cardinal by Pope Francis, receiving the red hat on Oct. 5, 2019.

Hollerich was president of COMECE in 2018, succeeding German Cardinal Reinhard Marx. Since then, he has spoken out on , the in Europe, and .

In September 2020, he expressed for the German Church’s controversial saying that participants dared “to ask very big questions.”

He said that the most important issue that German Catholics were grappling with was the role of women.

“I’m not saying they have to become priests; I simply don’t know that. But I am open to it,” he told the German Catholic news agency . “What is clear, however, is that the current situation is not enough. You have to see and notice that women have a right to a say in the Church.”

Hollerich for COVID-19 in January, but recovered.

Pope Francis has further health scans in hospital after running a fever

Vatican City, Jul 8, 2021 / 05:03 am (CNA).

Pope Francis underwent a CT scan of his chest and abdomen on Thursday morning after running a fever during his hospitalization, according to the Vatican.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni July 8 that the pope “temporarily ran a temperature” the evening prior.

“This morning he underwent routine and microbiological examinations, and a chest and abdomen scan, which proved negative,” Bruni said.

A computed tomography (CT) scan combines multiple X-ray images of a body part taken from different angles.

On the fifth day of the pope’s recovery in the hospital after a that removed part of his colon, the pope is able to move and eat unassisted, and is no longer in need of intravenous treatment, the Vatican said.

This latest update comes a day after the Vatican that the 84-year-old pope had suffered a “severe” narrowing of the colon.

Bruni said that examinations showed that Pope Francis had experienced “severe diverticular stenosis [narrowing] with signs of sclerosing [hardening] diverticulitis.”

Pope Francis was hospitalized on July 4 to undergo an operation to relieve stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis, a common condition that involves the formation of small bulges or sacs on the wall of the colon.

A 10-person medical team was involved in Francis’ surgery, which was carried out under general anesthesia, lasted about three hours and included a left hemicolectomy, the removal of one side of the colon.

The Vatican spokesman said July 5 that the pope was expected to spend seven days recovering in the hospital, “barring complications.”

Pope Francis is staying in Gemelli University Hospital, located on Rome’s highest hill, Monte Mario.

The pope’s hospital room is on the 10th floor of the sprawling polyclinic in a wing reserved for papal medical emergencies. The pope’s medical suite can be identified from the street by its five large windows covered by white blinds.

It is the where John Paul II stayed during many of his hospital treatments, including for a colon surgery in 1992 and his hospitalization after being shot in an assassination attempt in 1981.

This is the 84-year-old Francis’ first major operation during his pontificate. In 2019, he had an outpatient surgery for cataracts and he occasionally suffers from flare-ups of .

During his hospitalization, Pope Francis sent an affectionate message to the young patients in the nearby pediatric oncology and children’s neurosurgery wards, according to the Vatican.

“At this particular moment, he looks toward all those who suffer, expressing his closeness to the sick, especially those most in need of care,” Bruni said.

In London deal indictment, what is missing has a meaning, too

Vatican City, Jul 7, 2021 / 20:19 pm (CNA).

The unprecedented indictment of a cardinal and nine people in the so-called Vatican-London deal is noteworthy as much for what is missing in it as for what it contains.

The 487 pages of the indictment order filed by the Vatican prosecutor go deep into the investigation, provide details on the interrogations (there have been 57 involving some 40 different people), and explain why the indictments are ordered.

But two missing elements are equally relevant: the indictment of Monsignor Alberto Perlasca; and the reaction of the Vatican prosecutors to a British court order that last March overturned a British lower court earlier decision of freezing Gianluigi Torzi's accounts, as requested by Vatican prosecutors.

The "London deal" is about a Secretariat of State 350 million-euro investment in a London luxury real estate.

Gianluigi Torzi was one of the brokers involved in the purchase: he is now indicted with charges of extortion, embezzlement, fraud, misappropriation, money laundering, and self-money laundering. According to the Vatican prosecutors, he extorted 15 million euros from the Secretariat of State as a condition to turn over his stakes on the London property.

Monsignor Perlasca was the head of the administrative section of the Secretariat of State from 2009 to 2019. Before, he served from 2006 to 2008 at the Apostolic Nunciature in Argentina. From 2004 to 2006, Msgr. Perlasca worked as an official of the Secretariat of State's juridical department in the section for general affairs.

Monsignor Perlasca was in charge of the Vatican Secretariat of State investments for ten years and was aware of every single financial move; but in June 2019, he was suddenly appointed "deputy promotor of Justice of the Apostolic Signatura." The move wasn’t a promotion, but just a “side” move.

Although it was not public yet, the investigations over the London property had already begun by that time. But Msgr. Perlasca was not among the five Vatican officials suspended after the search and seizure in the Secretariat of State and the Financial Intelligence Authority in October 2019.

However, in February 2020, Perlasca was subjected to a search and seizure too. A release by the Holy See Press Office read that "after a search order by the Vatican Promotor of Justice, Msgr. Perlasca's documents and computer equipment were seized both at his office and home."

Later on, the regular update of the "Annuario Pontificio," the Vatican Yearbook, noted that Perlasca was back in his diocese of Como, meaning that he no longer had Vatican positions.

In an interview he granted in June to the Italian newspaper Il Giornale, Perlasca said that back the Secretariat of State, he could give orders only "along with a superior" and therefore he could not make any financial decision on his own. He also stressed that "as soon as Mr. Torzi's request (for 15 million euros) was made, I clearly said that we had to sue him, since his requests were unjustified, and were evidently blackmail. But, unfortunately, I was the only one to say that. So there was a negotiation instead."

Perlasca's declarations were decisive to clear him from any indictment. According to the indictment order, Perlasca was "initially reticent, and on some aspects even hostile" toward the office of the Vatican prosecutor. However, after the first hearing in April 2020, Perlasca spontaneously asked to be heard by the prosecutor and his attorney. The first hearing took place at the end of August 2020. In the end, Perlasca met with the prosecutors a total of six times and "provided an important contribution to reconstructing some key scenarios" of the London deal.

Monsignor Perlasca was therefore cleared from any charge and not indicted. However, he has not been rehabilitated yet. He is living in the Domus Sanctae Marthae and not in his home diocese. He is out of the diplomatic service of the Holy See, with no Vatican position and formally incardinated in the Diocese of Como. Will the full rehabilitation come at the end of the trial?

The second important detail of the indictment order is the reaction of the Vatican prosecutor to the British judge Tony Baumgartner. Baumgartner overturned the earlier decision of a British court to seize Torzi's accounts following a Vatican request. Baumgartner also questioned the reliability of the Vatican prosecution. The ruling often used the words "mischaracterization" and "misinterpretation" to describe the Vatican prosecutor's conclusions.

Baumgartner raised some questions. He asked why, if Torzi was considered a hustler, he could meet the Pope and was treated with courtesy. And why, the British judge went on, Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, the deputy of the Secretariat of State, gave 15 million to Torzi in exchange for his shares of the London real estate, which was formally in the Vatican hands?

The London ruling also included an email by Archbishop Peña Parra to Gianluigi Torzi sent on Jan. 22, 2019. Torzi asked for 20 million euros to leave his shares, and the Secretariat of State offered 5.5 million euros. Peña Parra also wrote to Torzi that he was "convinced that the amount is adequate and congruous unless the parties raised other issues." Peña Parra also wrote that "as agreed, we want to close the issue in the shortest time possible, and so I have full confidence in your collaboration."

According to Baumgartner, that email proves there was an ongoing negotiation. Instead, the Vatican prosecutor writes that the email came in a heated climate and that it "seems to be a Secretariat of State's pleading to Torzi."

Baumgartner had also noted that "an applicant to this court for a restraint order relying on external requests should be careful in relying upon facts unverified or unsupported by direct evidence, and should not unhesitatingly rely upon assertions that are not properly established on the facts." 

The Vatican prosecutors strongly rejected that their conclusions are "unsupported by direct evidence."

In the end, there is a clash between the interpretation of evidence made by the Vatican prosecutor and at least one foreign court. The question is, can the evidence be reliable then? On which objective basis will the trial be based? 

There are other questions regarding the investigation. Initially, it was said that the pope did not know about the London real estate investment, nor had he ever met some of the protagonists involved in the operation.

When a photo of the pope with Torzi emerged, taken one Christmas time in Santa Marta, it was said that the pope met Torzi, but he knew nothing of the operation underway.

Finally, in response to the Associated Press, the Vatican Tribunal said the pope had entered the room where negotiations were taking place to liquidate Torzi's holdings in the Holy See's real estate companies and invited everyone to find a solution. Giuseppe Milanese, owner of a cooperative society and a personal friend of the pope, was a mediator for the agreement. In an interview with the Italian television program Report, broadcast at the end of April, he said that the pope asked the parts to find an agreement "at the right amount of payment."

If the pope knew and spoke about a payment, can Torzi's action be described as blackmail, or just part of the negotiation? And also: if the pope was aware of everything and had authorized the operation, why the investigation?

Finally: if Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra was aware and had endorsed the whole operation, why wasn't he too included in the investigation?

These details might put into question the accusatory framework of the Vatican prosecutor. 

The first hearing of the trial will take place on July 27, and hopefully, these questions will find answers.

Sea Sunday 2021: Vatican calls for dignified conditions for maritime workers

Vatican City, Jul 7, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

In a message for Sea Sunday, a Vatican cardinal appealed to the international community to ensure that those who work at sea are treated with full human dignity.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, the prefect of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, that since September 2020, an estimated 400,000 seafarers have been stranded at sea because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He also said that the coronavirus had worsened working and living conditions for thousands who have been forced to work for months longer than usual while separated for long periods from their families.

“We appeal to ship owners, management companies, agents, and recruiters to regard crew members as more than ‘labor force’ and remember that they are human beings,” he said.

“We urge the development of working practices, which are based on human dignity rather than profit,” he added, “and so provide everything, which is necessary to improve the mental, physical and spiritual well-being of seafarers.”

Turkson’s message was given for the annual celebration of Sea Sunday, which falls this year on July 11. The day is an initiative of a Catholic charity that helps seafarers worldwide.

In September 2020, the organization its name from the Apostleship of the Sea to Stella Maris, after one of the Latin titles of veneration of the Virgin Mary.

Stella Maris celebrated its in October 2020.

In his message, Cardinal Turkson said, “we thank the People of the Sea for their work, and our gratitude is transformed in our prayer that the Lord grants them strength in moments of weakness, unity in diversity, safe and smooth sailing and, at the end of their contract, happiness to be reunited with their loved ones.”

He said that there were also other problems connected to COVID-19, including a lack of clear policies on vaccination for seafarers.

“Because of this pandemic, we would like to invite the maritime industry to learn to act as one by facilitating crew changes and vaccinations and strengthening the implementation of international standards to enhance and protect the human and working rights of the People of the Sea,” Turkson said.

The cardinal also pointed out that 38 piracy incidents have been reported since the start of the year. While the number of these incidents had gone down, he said, “violence against crew is increasing.”

“These are sad reminders of the fragility of a maritime industry, which has already been tested by the pandemic,” he commented. “Seafarers have the right to perform their work without running the risk of being kidnapped, injured or even killed.”

“We request all governments and international organizations to determine long-lasting solutions to the scourge of piracy, mindful of the need to address the fundamental problem of the inequality in the distribution of goods between countries and the exploitation of natural resources.”

Turkson also expressed concern about shipwrecks and marine accidents, noting that though sometimes these happen due to the forces of nature, there are still “too many instances of negligence by those who prefer to prioritize profit over safety and security.”

“We lift our prayers to Mary, Star of the Sea, to accompany those who are no longer with us to the safe harbor of heaven and comfort the devastated relatives and friends who are left behind,” he said.

Turkson recalled the efforts made by Stella Maris chaplains and volunteers to be at the service of seafarers and fishers during the pandemic.

“They are present in their lives, constantly adapt their ministry to changing circumstances, and address seafarers‘ spiritual and material needs,” he explained.

“We entrust to Mary, Star of the Sea, the well-being of the People of the Sea, the commitment and dedication of chaplains and volunteers and we entreat Our Lady to continue to protect us all from every danger, especially from COVID-19,” he concluded.

Bishops of Argentina, Uruguay pray for the recovery of Pope Francis

Vatican City, Jul 7, 2021 / 12:30 pm (CNA).

The bishops of Argentina and Uruguay expressed their closeness and prayers for the swift recovery of Pope Francis, who underwent surgery July 4.

Pope Francis underwent a scheduled surgery at the Agostino Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome to treat diverticular stenosis.

The Holy Father has progressed well and will remain hospitalized for seven days.

The Argentine bishops’ conference prayed for "the speedy recovery of dear Pope Francis."

"May the Our Lady of Luján, the patroness of Argentina, continue to protect you in your mission as Pastor of the Universal Church," the conference tweeted.

The Permanent Council of the Uruguayan bishops’ conference expressed in a letter a "close and affectionate greeting at this time of convalescence."

The greeting sent "on behalf of all the bishops" promises the prayers "of our entire Church for your speedy recovery, to continue your work of leading the Lord's flock."

"At the same time, we pray that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, will continue to sustain you in your mission to confirm us in the faith," the Uruguayan bishops said.

Pope Francis grateful for prayers as he recovers from intestinal surgery

Vatican City, Jul 7, 2021 / 04:14 am (CNA).

Pope Francis is grateful for prayers as he recovers in hospital from intestinal surgery, the Vatican said Wednesday.

The Holy See press office July 7 that Pope Francis was making “regular and satisfactory” progress in his recovery after undergoing an operation on his colon on the evening of July 4.

“Pope Francis is touched by the many messages and the affection received in these days, and expresses his gratitude for the closeness and prayer,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said.

Bruni added that the pope was eating regularly and no longer needed intravenous treatment.

The Vatican said July 4 that the pope was at the hospital to undergo an operation to relieve stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis, a common condition that involves the formation of small bulges or sacs on the wall of the colon.

The surgery, which was carried out under general anesthesia, lasted and included a hemicolectomy, the removal of one side of the colon.

Bruni said July 7 that Pope Francis’ latest examination confirmed that there was “severe diverticular stenosis [narrowing] with signs of sclerosing [hardening] diverticulitis.”

This is the 84-year-old Francis’ first major operation during his pontificate. In 2019, he had an outpatient surgery for cataracts and he occasionally suffers from flare-ups of .

Religious and political leaders around the world have their well-wishes and prayers for the pope as he recovers in hospital.

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, who lives in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in Vatican City, is also for Pope Francis.

Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Benedict’s personal secretary, told Italian media that the retired pope “lovingly directs his thoughts to Pope Francis and fervently prays for him,” the German section of Vatican News reported July 6.

Pope Francis is staying in Gemelli University Hospital, located on Rome’s highest hill, Monte Mario.

The pope’s hospital room is on the 10th floor of the sprawling polyclinic in a wing reserved for papal medical emergencies. The pope’s medical suite can be identified from the street by its five large windows covered by white blinds.

It is the where John Paul II stayed during many of his hospital treatments, including for a colon surgery in 1992 and his hospitalization after being shot in an assassination attempt in 1981.

The comparison has prompted speculation as to whether Pope Francis will deliver his Sunday Angelus address from the hospital window, as John Paul II famously did.

The month of July is when Pope Francis typically takes a break from his busy schedule. His Wednesday audiences with the public and other meetings are suspended for the month. His only scheduled public appointment in July is the Angelus on Sundays.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said July 5 that the pope was expected to spend recovering in the hospital, “barring complications.”

A 10-person medical team was involved in Francis’ procedure, during which some “complications” arose, some Italian media outlets reported.

The complications caused the operation to be more invasive than the originally planned laparoscopy. The Vatican has not confirmed these details.

Pope Francis urges Indian Catholics to commit to uniform Syro-Malabar liturgy

Vatican City, Jul 6, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis has written a letter to leaders of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church urging the implementation of a more uniform offering of their liturgy.

More than 20 years after the Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church agreed unanimously to standardize their Eucharistic liturgy, called the Holy Qurbana, the Eastern Church has continued to face division and conflict.

In the published by the Vatican on July 6, Pope Francis exhorted “all the clergy, religious and lay faithful to proceed to a prompt implementation of the uniform mode of celebrating the Holy Qurbana, for the greater good and unity of your Church.”

“I strongly urge the Syro-Malabar Bishops to persevere, and I confirm their ecclesial ‘walking together’ with God’s people, trusting that ‘time is greater than space’ and that ‘unity prevails over conflict,’” Francis wrote in the letter dated July 3, the day before the pope underwent a at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital.

July 3 is a significant date for Syro-Malabar Catholics as it is the feast of St. Thomas the Apostle, who is believed to have brought Christianity to India.

The Syro-Malabar Church is one of the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome. Based in Kerala, southern India, the Church has more than four million members worldwide. It uses the ancient East Syriac Rite and the vernacular language of its liturgies is Malayalam.

In addition to India, there are Syro-Malabar eparchies, or dioceses, in the , U.S., Canada, and Australia.

Pope Francis wrote that the decision of the 1999 Synod of Bishops of the Syro-Malabar Church to bring uniformity to their liturgy was “an important step towards increasing the stability and ecclesial communion within the whole body of your beloved Church” that gave “joyful confidence in your sui iuris [autonomous] Church to my saintly predecessor Pope John Paul II.”

“Notwithstanding some difficulties, which require ongoing discernment in the life of your vibrant Church, the approved norms for the Eucharistic celebration have borne considerable fruit including evangelization in those places, especially the missionary Eparchies, where the whole community has joined in peaceful and prayerful observance, interpreting the continuing consensus of the Hierarchy as a fruit of the Holy Spirit,” the pope said.

Pope Francis wrote that he entrusted Syro-Malabar Catholics to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and St. Thomas.

“May the Holy Spirit foster harmony, fraternity and unity among all members of your Church as you work to implement the Synodal decision,” he said.

Benedict XVI praying ‘fervently’ for Pope Francis’ recovery from surgery

Vatican City, Jul 6, 2021 / 05:00 am (CNA).

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI is praying for Pope Francis after he underwent intestinal surgery on Sunday.

Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Benedict’s personal secretary, told Italian media that the retired pope “lovingly directs his thoughts to Pope Francis and fervently prays for him,” the German section of Vatican News .

Pope Francis is recovering at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital this week after undergoing an on Sunday evening to relieve stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis.

The surgery, which was carried out under general anesthesia, lasted about three hours and included a hemicolectomy, which is the removal of one side of the colon.

“His Holiness Pope Francis is in good general condition, alert and breathing spontaneously,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni journalists on July 5.

On July 6, the spokesman that the 84-year-old pope had “rested well during the night,” and had eaten breakfast, read some newspapers, and got up to walk during the morning.

Pope Francis’ recovery post-operation was proceeding normally, Bruni added.

Colonic stricture, also called stenosis, is a condition in which part of the large intestine becomes narrower than usual. It can become dangerous if it is too narrow to let food safely pass through.

Diverticulitis, a common condition that involves the formation of small bulges or sacs on the wall of the colon, can cause the stricture.

The hospital treating Pope Francis has also had other Catholic figures as patients. The Catholic hospital and medical school treated Pope John Paul II after he was shot in an assassination attempt in 1981. Mother Teresa received care from the hospital’s cardiology department in 1992.

Last week, Pope Francis the 94-year-old Benedict XVI for his continual prayer for the Church in his retirement, calling the pope emeritus “the contemplative of the Vatican.”

The pope spoke on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, the 70th anniversary of Benedict XVI’s ordination to the priesthood.

“To you, Benedict, dear father and brother, goes our affection, our gratitude, and our closeness,” he said.

Noting that Benedict XVI lives in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in Vatican City, Francis said that “he is now the contemplative of the Vatican, who spends his life praying for the Church and for the diocese of Rome, of which he is bishop emeritus.”

“Thank you for your credible witness. Thank you for your gaze, constantly directed toward the horizon of God. Thank you,” he added.

Pope Francis recovering in same hospital room where St. John Paul II was treated

Vatican City, Jul 6, 2021 / 04:22 am (CNA).

Pope Francis is recovering from his colon surgery this week in the same hospital room where John Paul II was treated throughout his pontificate.

The Vatican July 6, two days after the operation, that the pope had “rested well overnight” and his routine follow-up examinations were good.

“This morning he had breakfast, read some newspapers, and got up to walk,” Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See press office, said.

For the rest of this week, Pope Francis is scheduled to stay in Gemelli University Hospital, located atop Monte Mario, the highest hill in Rome.

The pope’s hospital room is situated on the 10th floor of the sprawling polyclinic in a wing reserved for papal medical emergencies. The pope’s medical suite can be identified from the street by its five large windows covered by white blinds.

It is the same room where John Paul II stayed during many of his hospital treatments, including for a colon surgery in 1992 and his hospitalization after being shot in an assassination attempt in 1981.

St. John Paul II was admitted to the hospital so many times during his more than 25-year pontificate that he once referred to Gemelli as the “third Vatican” after Vatican City and Castel Gandolfo, the popes’ summer residence.

The comparison has prompted speculation as to whether Pope Francis will deliver his Sunday Angelus address from the hospital window, as John Paul II famously did.

As of July 6, the Angelus address remains the only event on Pope Francis’ public calendar for the upcoming weeks. The pope traditionally suspends his Wednesday general audiences during July.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni July 5 that the pope was expected to spend seven days recovering in the hospital, “barring complications.”

Pope Francis underwent a on the evening of July 4 in which part of his colon was surgically removed.

A 10-person medical team was involved in the procedure, during which some Italian media outlets, including the Rome newspaper Il Messaggero, reported that “complications” arose, causing the operation to be more invasive than the originally planned laparoscopy. The Vatican has not confirmed these details.

At the age of 84, Pope Francis has only had one other operation during his eight years as pope. He last underwent an operation in 2019, for cataracts.

Earlier this year, the pope was forced to miss several public events due to a recurrence of the that struck him at the end of 2020. Francis has suffered from the painful condition for several years.

Religious and political leaders around the world have their well-wishes and prayers for Pope Francis as he recovers in hospital.

Archbishop José Gomez, the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, offered prayers for Pope Francis’ recovery on U.S. Independence Day.

“As we paused to celebrate the 4th of July, Catholics across the United States took time to pray for the Holy Father. We join our brothers and sisters around the world in praying for the continued recovery of Pope Francis,” he .

“Lord, may our shepherd and all those in the hospital for healing in these days find strength and comfort in your love.”

Imam, rabbi, and Orthodox patriarch wish Pope Francis a swift recovery

Vatican City, Jul 5, 2021 / 11:00 am (CNA).

Religious and political leaders around the world have expressed their well-wishes and prayers for Pope Francis as he recovers in hospital from an intestinal surgery.

“I wish my dear brother, Pope Francis, a speedy recovery to continue his dedication to humanity,” Ahmad al-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar in Cairo, Egypt, on Twitter on July 5.

The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople also expressed his “fraternal wishes for a quick convalescence” in a message to the 84-year-old pope, according to .

Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world’s Eastern Orthodox Christians, assured the pope of his prayers and his hope that they would continue to “carry out together the indispensable mission of unity, to which Christ calls us.”

The Orthodox patriarch shared a quotation from St. Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians, “The weakness of God is stronger than human strength,” and added that the mystery of Christ is present “in our sufferings so that the Gospel may be alive in us.”

Riccardo Di Segni, the chief rabbi in Rome, also wished the pope “a speedy recovery” in a on Twitter.

Pope Francis underwent a three-hour operation on the evening of July 4 in which part of his colon was surgically removed.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni on July 5 that the pope was “in good condition” and alert the morning after the at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital.

The pope is expected to spend the next week recovering in the hospital, “barring complications,” Bruni said.

The Anglican Center in Rome on Twitter on July 5: “As His Holiness Pope Francis undergoes surgery, he is very much in our thoughts and prayers. We wish him a speedy recovery. May the Lord sustain him with the tenderness of his love.”

Political leaders across the globe also wrote to the pope as he recovers in the hospital.

The office of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari released a statement that asked all Nigerians to pray for the pope’s recovery.

The Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro in a message that Pope Francis would be accompanied during his recovery by Blessed José Gregorio Hernández, the recently Venezuelan doctor known as the “doctor of the poor.”

The Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi also expressed “affectionate wishes for a rapid convalescence and quick healing,” according to his office.

The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines issued a statement inviting Catholics to ask the Virgin Mary to intercede for the pope’s recovery.

“I enjoin everyone to pray to the Lord and beg for our Blessed Mother’s intercession for the speedy recovery of Pope Francis,” Archbishop Romulo Valles of Davao .

“Let us pray together -- clergy, religious and consecrated persons … our lay faithful -- for the complete recovery of Pope Francis,” he said.

Pope Francis to spend week recovering in hospital after intestinal surgery

Vatican City, Jul 5, 2021 / 04:20 am (CNA).

Pope Francis is expected to spend the next week in hospital as he recovers from intestinal surgery, according to the Vatican.

“His Holiness Pope Francis is in good general condition, alert and breathing spontaneously,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni journalists on July 5.

The pope underwent a at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital on July 4 to relieve stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis.

The surgery lasted for about three hours and included a hemicolectomy, which is the removal of the left part of the colon.

The procedure was carried out under general anesthesia. Dr. Sergio Alfieri performed the surgery with the of nine other physicians.

Colonic stricture, also called stenosis, is a condition in which part of the large intestine becomes narrower than usual. It can become dangerous if it is too narrow to let food safely pass through.

Diverticulitis, a common condition that involves the formation of small bulges or sacs on the wall of the colon, can cause the stricture.

Recovery from diverticulitis surgery typically includes a hospital stay of up to a week and at least another two weeks of limited activity.

As of July 5, there are no major events scheduled on Pope Francis’ public calendar for the upcoming weeks. The pope traditionally suspends his general audiences during July.

At the age of 84, Pope Francis has only had one other operation during his eight years as pope. He last underwent an operation in 2019, for cataracts.

Earlier this year, the pope was forced to miss several public events due to a recurrence of the that struck him at the end of 2020. Francis has suffered from the painful condition for several years.

After his personal physician from complications related to COVID-19 in January, Pope Francis internalist Roberto Bernabei as his doctor.

Bernabei is a specialist in aging and director of the School of Specialization in Geriatrics at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome. He was present in the surgical suite during the pope’s intestinal surgery in Gemelli hospital.

The Catholic hospital and medical school has treated other popes and Catholic figures, including John Paul II after he was shot in an assassination attempt and Mother Teresa, who was treated in the clinic’s cardiology department.

Traditional Latin Mass advocates appeal to Pope to protect Summorum Pontificum

Denver Newsroom, Jul 4, 2021 / 12:26 pm (CNA).

A federation that advocates for the Traditional Latin Mass has appealed to Pope Francis to protect it from those "within the Church, including some bishops, who would like to see the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite explicitly suppressed." 

"In 2007, the Apostolic Letter recognised the vitality of the traditional liturgy, the freedom of priests to celebrate it, and of the faithful to request it,” reads. “This has led to an ongoing increase in the number of celebrations of the ancient Latin Mass, and of its spiritual fruits."

The statement came in the form of an advertisement published July 4 in the left-leaning Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica. It was signed by Felipe Alanis Suarez, the president of the international federation Una Voce. 

The organization reportedly conducted a survey of Catholics in 364 dioceses in 52 countries on the implementation of . 

The survey, according to the statement, found that "the ancient Latin Mass is deeply appreciated by groups of faithful of all ages, especially families with children"  and that in many areas "the increased availability of this Mass has favoured the normalisation of relations between the faithful attached to it and their bishops."

Una Voce ("One Voice") was founded in 1967, and is not related to the movement started by Marcel Lefebvre. Its principal aims are "to ensure that the traditional Roman rite of the Church is maintained in the Church as one of the forms of liturgical celebration, and to safeguard and promote the use of Latin, Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony and all the sacred, artistic, literary and musical traditions of the Roman Church in all their beauty and integrity."

In the July 4 statement, Una Voce wrote that "contrary to the previous policy of the Holy See, there are still people within the Church, including some bishops, who would like to see the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite explicitly suppressed, or subject to further restrictions."

The statement argues, quoting words from Pope Francis, that "the growth of interest in the traditional liturgy is not due to nostalgia for a time we do not remember, or a desire for rigidity; it is rather a matter of opening ourselves to the value of something that for most of us is new, and inspires hope. Pope Francis has characterised the ancient liturgy in terms of a 'sense of adoration;' we can also apply his words to it: a 'living history that welcomes us and pushes us forward' (Evangelii Gaudium 13)."

Una Voce also wrote, "we only wish to be part of that 'great orchestra' of 'unity in variety' which, as Pope Francis said (General Audience of 9 October 2013), reflects the true catholicity of the Church. The Apostolic Letter continues to transform the conflicts of the past into harmony: long may it continue to do so."

Updated: Pope Francis ‘well’ after surgery on colon for diverticulitis

Rome, Italy, Jul 4, 2021 / 08:12 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has “reacted well” to a surgery he underwent at a Rome hospital Sunday to relieve stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis, the Holy See Press Office stated.

A statement from the Holy See Press Office director, Matteo Bruni, sent at 11:42 p.m. Rome time, said the evening operation was carried out under general anesthesia.

An earlier Vatican statement had said the pope was taken to Rome’s Gemelli Hospital in the afternoon July 4 for the scheduled operation, which was to be performed by Dr. Sergio Alfieri. Three other surgeons assisted and four physicians administered the anesthetic.

Two other doctors, including the pope’s personal physician, were also present in the surgical suite. No information was given about how long Pope Francis will be in recovery.

Colonic stricture, also called stenosis, is a condition in which part of the large intestine becomes narrower than usual. It can become dangerous if it is too narrow to let food safely pass through. Diverticulitis, a common condition that involves the formation of small bulges or sacs on the wall of the colon, can cause the stricture.

Recovery from diverticulitis surgery typically includes a hospital stay of up to a week and at least another two weeks of limited activity.

Pope Francis last underwent an operation , for cataracts.

Early this year, the 84-year-old pontiff was forced to miss several public events due to that struck him at the end of 2020.

Francis has suffered from the painful condition for a number of years.

Generally healthy, at the beginning of 2020, the pope due to having a cold.

After his personal physician died from the coronavirus in January, Pope Francis as his doctor.

Bernabei is a specialist in aging and director of the School of Specialization in Geriatrics at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Rome.

Vatican confirms Pope Francis will visit Slovakia in September

Vatican City, Jul 4, 2021 / 06:05 am (CNA).

The Vatican confirmed Sunday that Pope Francis will travel to Hungary and Slovakia in September.

The pope will visit Budapest on Sept. 12 for the concluding Mass of the 52nd International Eucharistic Congress. He will then travel to the Slovakian cities of Bratislava, Prešov, Košice and Šaštin from Sept. 12 to 15.

The trip was confirmed July 4 by the director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, who said details about the pope’s program in Slovakia will be published at a later date.

Pope Francis himself announced his trip to Slovakia after his noon Angelus address: “I am pleased to announce that from 12 to 15 September next, God willing, I will go to Slovakia to make a pastoral visit,” he said from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

Pilgrims from Slovakia present in the square responded to the announcement with cheers, and the pope noted their presence. “The Slovaks are happy there!” he said.

“I sincerely thank all those who are preparing this journey and I pray for them,” Francis said. “Let’s all pray for this trip and for the people who are working to organize it.”

In his Angelus address July 4, Pope Francis reflected on “the comfort of habit and the dictatorship of prejudice,” which prevents us from really knowing Jesus and the people around us.

His exegesis centered on the day’s Gospel reading from St. Mark. In the passage, Jesus preaches in the synagogue in Nazareth, but his fellow villagers react by asking themselves: “What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?”

“We could say that they know Jesus, but they do not recognize him,” the pope said. They “have known him for 30 years and think they know everything.”

“In reality, they never realized who Jesus really is,” he said.

Francis noted that the same thing can happen in our own lives with the people around us: we see someone in our neighborhood, meet them occasionally, but “it is an ordinary, superficial knowledge that does not recognize the uniqueness of that person.”

“It is a risk that we all run: we think we know a lot about a person, and the worst is that we label them and shut them up in our prejudices,” he said.

“And here we get to the very heart of the problem,” Pope Francis continued, “when we make the comfort of habit and the dictatorship of prejudice prevail, it is difficult to open up to novelty and be surprised.”

He encouraged Catholics to foster amazement in their faith life.

“Without amazement, faith becomes a tired litany that slowly dies out and becomes a habit,” he said. “What is it, amazement? Amazement is precisely when the encounter with God happens.”

God became incarnate and he draws near to us in the normal activities of our lives, Francis said.

“And then, it happens to us as to the fellow villagers of Jesus, we risk that, when he passes by, we do not recognize him.”

“Now, in prayer, let us ask the Madonna, who welcomed the mystery of God in her daily life in Nazareth, for eyes and hearts free of prejudices and to have eyes open to be amazed: ‘Lord, that we might meet you.’”

“We meet him in the normal: eyes open to God’s surprises, at his humble and hidden presence in daily life,” he concluded.

Why has a Vatican judge ordered Cardinal Becciu and nine others to stand trial?: A CNA explainer

Vatican City, Jul 3, 2021 / 11:50 am (CNA).

The Vatican’s court that it had indicted 10 individuals, including Cardinal Angelo Becciu, on charges including abuse of office, embezzlement, and fraud, and that a trial will begin July 27.

What is the story behind the trial? And what are the backgrounds of the 10 people who have been charged? Continue reading for CNA’s overview of the upcoming Vatican finance trial.

The trial is the result of a two-year investigation by Vatican prosecutors into allegations of financial malfeasance, mostly in connection with an investment made by the Secretariat of State in a London property.

According to prosecutors, during the Secretariat of State’s years-long purchase of the London building, people employed by the Vatican, or doing business with it, worked to defraud the city state for their own financial gain.

The prosecution has collected 500 pages of documentation and evidence it will present at trial. According to , investigators claim the fraud involving the London property began when the building’s value was grossly overestimated in discussions with the Secretariat of State at 350 million pounds (around $483 million) -- and the secretariat agreed to the purchase price.

Defendants in the finance trial include two Italian businessmen, an investment manager, a lawyer -- and the two Vatican employees who allegedly colluded with them.

Becciu, who was the second-ranking official at the Secretariat of State from 2011 to 2018, has also been indicted. In addition to facing charges of embezzlement, he is accused of attempting to mislead and interfere with the financial investigation.

A to whom Becciu paid more than $650,000 in secretariat funds for “security” work has also been charged, along with the former heads of the Vatican’s internal financial watchdog, who investigators say “overlooked the anomalies of the London transaction” despite having information about the purchase.

Four corporations are also included in the indictment.

Vatican authorities, such as Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and sostituto Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, did sign off at various points in the deal, but they were deceived by others who presented them with false or partial information, prosecutors argue.

According to the Vatican News report, they say that Msgr. Alberto Perlasca, the secretariat official who signed the share purchase agreement, and his superiors, had not been “effectively informed to be fully aware of the juridical effects that the different categories of actions would cause.”

The Vatican investigation started in the summer of 2019, after the IOR (commonly called the “Vatican bank”) and the auditor general’s office presented allegations of serious crimes such as fraud, extortion, embezzlement, corruption, aiding and abetting, and blackmail in the Secretariat of State.

The auditor general noticed that 77% of the Secretariat of State’s portfolio was concentrated in the Swiss investment bank and that donated funds earmarked for charity, or to support the work of the Roman Curia, may have been invested in “high-risk financial activity.”

Despite Pope Francis’ financial reforms, at the time investigations began, the Secretariat of State had control over large sums of money, including money intended for investment, with little outside oversight.

When investigations uncovered probable malfeasance, Pope Francis that responsibility for investments should be taken away from the Secretariat of State.

In its report on the Vatican, after an October 2020 on-site inspection, the financial watchdog Moneyval noted that there was still a significant level of risk for abuse of office for personal benefit and money laundering by mid- and senior-level Vatican figures.

It added that cases such as the London property deal had “raised a red flag for potential abuse” of the Holy See and Vatican City State’s systems by personnel.

Moneyval said that, though positive actions had been taken since 2014, they were not addressed with the General Risk Assessment, “which raises some concerns as to the degree to which these matters are formally recognized and acknowledged by all authorities.”

The Moneyval Report also pointed out the Vatican’s weak record on convictions for financial crimes, and suggested that sanctions had not been “proportionate and dissuasive.”

The Vatican’s prosecuting judges claim that two of the defendants in this month’s trial, René Brülhart and Tommaso Di Ruzza, should have noticed some problems sooner in their former capacities as president and director of AIF (the Financial Information Authority, now called the ASIF.)

The main prosecutor, the documents say, “believes that AIF’s behavior in the persons of its director and president seriously violated the basic rules governing supervision.” The prosecutor argues that AIF would have known that a payment made to businessman Gianluigi Torzi, a sum allegedly received through extortion, was not legitimate.

In a statement made through his lawyer July 3, Becciu said that he is innocent of the charges brought against him and is a victim of “machinations” and media derision.

The trial will be “the moment for clarification,” he said, adding that he believed that the court would uncover “the absolute falsity of the accusations against me and the dark plots that evidently supported and fed them.”

René Brülhart, former president of the AIF, issued his own statement July 3, stating his confidence that the trial would show “the truth about my innocence.”

“I have always carried out my functions and duties with correctness, loyalty and in the exclusive interest of the Holy See and its organs,” he said. “I face this matter with serenity in the conviction that the accusations against me will fully disappear.”

Brülhart also said that he had not yet received a formal notification from Vatican judges about his indictment, adding that “this matter constitutes a procedural blunder that will be immediately clarified by the organs of Vatican justice as soon as the defense will be able to exercise its rights.”

Msgr. Mauro Carlino, who worked in the Secretariat of State and is charged with extortion and abuse of office, issued a statement through his lawyers July 3, asserting his “profound ethical integrity” and the “groundlessness” of the accusations against him.

The lawyer said that Carlino was “surprised and regrets” that Vatican investigators consider his actions, “carried out in the exclusive interest of the Vatican Secretary of State and on instruction of his Superiors,” to be criminal.

It was noted that Carlino “has always given loyal and dutiful obedience” to his superiors, and that in the case of the London property, he intervened only because he was instructed to, in order to save the Secretariat five million euros ($5.9 million) off of the 20 million euros ($23.7 million) that Gianluigi Torzi was allegedly attempting to extort.

“It seems at least incomprehensible that a meritorious activity, already ascertained in its factual terms, which did not involve any personal advantage for Msgr. Carlino and, on the contrary, determined a significant economic saving for the Secretariat of State, could have given rise to a request for subpoena,” the statement said, noting the brief time to prepare a defense for an investigation which took two years, had extensive media coverage, and involved acts in foreign jurisdictions.

Cardinal Becciu to stand trial at Vatican for embezzlement and abuse of office

Vatican City, Jul 3, 2021 / 05:30 am (CNA).

The Vatican announced Saturday that Cardinal Angelo Becciu will be tried on charges of embezzlement and abuse of office.

The Vatican court also announced it will hold a criminal trial against nine people and four corporations in connection with the Secretariat of State’s purchase of a London investment property.

The trial's first hearing will take place July 27.

Among those to be tried are several employees of the Secretariat of State: Fabrizio Tirabassi, who oversaw investments, will be tried on extortion, embezzlement, fraud, and abuse of office.

Mons. Mauro Carlino, who worked with Tirabassi, has been charged with extortion and abuse of office.

At the center of the trial is the Secretariat of State’s purchase of a building at 60 Sloane Avenue in London. It was bought in stages between 2014 and 2018 from , who at the time was managing hundreds of millions of euros of secretariat funds.

Mincione will also stand trial on charges of embezzlement, fraud, abuse of office, misappropriation, and self-money laundering.

Businessman Gianluigi Torzi, who was brought in to broker the final negotiations of the Vatican’s purchase of the London property in 2018, has been charged with extortion, embezzlement, fraud, misappropriation, money laundering, and self-money laundering.

Enrico Crasso, for over 25 years, was investigated on suspicions he was working to defraud the Secretariat of State.

Crasso, who is the manager of the Centurion Global Fund in which the Holy See is the principal investor, faces the most charges: corruption, embezzlement, extortion, money laundering, self-money laundering, fraud, abuse of office, falsifying a public document, and falsifying a private document.

The Vatican has also charged three corporations owned by Crasso with fraud.

Gianluigi Torzi, a businessman who worked with Mincione, will face trial on charges of extortion, embezzlement, fraud, misappropriation, money laundering, and self-money laundering.

His associate, the lawyer Nicola Squillace, faces the same charges minus extortion.

Torzi was arrested by Vatican officials last year, and held for a little over a week, as part of the financial investigation. He was also arrested in London on May 11 at the request of a judge in Rome. His at $1.6 million.

The Italian businessman acted as a commission-earning middleman for the Secretariat of State as it finalized its purchase of the London property, on which it spent approximately $300 million.

Torzi brokered the sale, reportedly earning 10 million euros for his role in the final stage of the deal.

Mons. Alberto Perlasca, Becciu's former chief deputy at the Secretariat of State, was also investigated as part of the London property scandal, but is not among the defendants in this summer's trial.

According to the Vatican communication, in the course of investigations, which began in July 2019, “elements also emerged against Card. Giovanni Angelo Becciu, against whom we proceed, as required by law, for the offenses of embezzlement and abuse of office also in cooperation, as well as subornation.”

In a statement made through his lawyers July 3, Becciu said he is innocent of the charges, and that he was the victim of enemy plots and media derision.

The trial will be “the moment for clarification,” he said, adding that he believes the court will uncover “the absolute falsity of the accusations against me and the dark plots that evidently supported and fed them.”

A date is not given for the trial against Becciu.

Becciu resigned as prefect of the congregation and from the rights extended to members of the College of Cardinals on Sept. 24, 2020.

worked previously as the number two-ranking official in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, the powerful curial department at the center of the investigation of financial malfeasance.

The financial trial will also include Cecilia Marogna, a self-described security consultant, who has been charged with embezzlement after a Vatican investigation into reports that she received hundreds of thousands of euros from the Vatican’s Secretariat of State in connection with Becciu, and that she had spent the money on luxury goods and vacations.

Marogna acknowledged receiving the money but insisted that the funds went to her Vatican and salary.

The 39-year-old woman from Sardinia was arrested in Milan last year on an international warrant issued by the Vatican through Interpol. She was released from jail after 17 days and an extradition request by the Vatican was dropped in January.

Marogna’s Slovenian-based company, Logsic Humanitarne Dejavnosti, D.O.O., is also being brought to trial on the charge of embezzlement.

The last two defendants are René Brülhart and Tommaso Di Ruzza, who previously led the Vatican's internal financial watchdog, ASIF.

Di Ruzza was replaced last year after completing his five-year term of office, according to the Vatican.

Brülhart left ASIF in November 2019. A Vatican statement at the time said that Brülhart was leaving at the end of his five-year term, but the Swiss lawyer told Reuters that he had resigned from the post.

Di Ruzza was one of five employees and officials suspended and blocked from entering the Vatican after Vatican gendarmes raided the Secretariat of State and ASIF offices on Oct. 1, 2019.

Later that month, the ASIF’s board of directors issued a statement expressing “full faith and trust in the professional competence and honorability” of Di Ruzza, but no announcement was ever made by Vatican authorities regarding the results of any investigation into Di Ruzza or his return to work.

Di Ruzza is charged with embezzlement, abuse of office, and violation of confidentiality.

Brülhart is charged with abuse of office