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« Reply #240 on: Jun 02, 2014, 06:16 AM »


Pope said to be furious over luxury retirement flat of top Vatican official

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone claims pontiff's support after criticism over huge penthouse – but Francis's spokesman stays silent

John Hooper in Rome
theguardian.com, Sunday 1 June 2014 18.37 BST      

It sits atop the roof of an old palazzo in the centre of Rome, surrounded by a broad terrace that affords breathtaking views across the Eternal City to the mountains beyond.

The penthouse apartment at the centre of Paolo Sorrentino's Oscar-winning movie La Grande Bellezza? Or perhaps the chosen retreat of a Forbes-list billionaire?

No. The flat in question is being created in the Vatican for the man who until recently was its most senior official.

While Pope Francis has been exhorting his clergy almost weekly to live lives as simple and frugal as his own, work has been going ahead on a luxurious retirement home for Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone , who stepped down as the Vatican's secretary of state last October.

Reports of an extensive renovation project began to circulate in April. But it was not until last week that an Italian gossip magazine, Chi, published the first photograph of the work being carried out on top of the Palazzo San Carlo, just inside the walls of the city state.

In a message to the newsletters of his former dioceses, Bertone acknowledged that his intended new residence was spacious. But he said that a previous estimate of 700 sq metres (7,500 sq ft) was double the true figure.

The 79-year-old prelate wrote that it was normal for flats in the Vatican's old buildings to be large.

He added that the one on the roof of the Palazzo San Carlo "duly converted (at my own expense) was made available for my temporary use and, after me, someone else will use it".

Even at 350 sq metres, however, the cardinal's new residence would be five times bigger than that of the pope, who lives in a one-bedroomed suite in the nearby Casa Santa Marta. Bertone's successor as secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, has similarly modest accommodation in the same building, which serves as a hotel for visitors to the Vatican.

Until the arrival of Pope Francis, it was normal for the Catholic church's most senior officials to retire to extensive and well-appointed lodgings. But, according to several Italian media accounts, the new pontiff was furious when he discovered the purpose of the work being carried out just a few yards from his own simple quarters.

The daily La Repubblica linked his reaction to a sermon he gave shortly before Easter in which he inveighed against "unctuous, sumptuous, presumptuous" clerics who ought instead to be spurning purely human and material pleasures. Bertone wrote that – on the contrary – he had received an "affectionate telephone call" from the pope just two days after the publication of the first report and that Francis had expressed "his solidarity and disappointment at the attacks directed at me over the apartment".

Asked to comment on the affair, the pope's spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said: "I have nothing to say."

Work being carried out on the building has involved putting scaffolding up four storeys and around the entire penthouse complex.

La Repubblica said the refurbishment involved merging two existing flats: one of between 300 and 400 sq metres previously assigned to the head of the Vatican gendarmerie, and another of around 200 sq metres belonging to a deceased prelate.

In addition, the cardinal would have the use of a terrace area covering a further 100 sq metres.

La Repubblica said that Bertone would share the apartment with three nuns who would take care of the domestic work.


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« Reply #241 on: Jun 07, 2014, 06:30 AM »

Politics Left behind as Mideast Rivals Head to Vatican

by Naharnet Newsdesk
07 June 2014, 13:16

Israel's government is boycotting its Palestinian counterpart with relations to a new low, and when their two presidents join Pope Francis in a Vatican prayer for peace on Sunday politics are likely to be absent.

Israeli President Shimon Peres and his Palestinian counterpart Mahmud Abbas have been acquaintances for years and held peace talks together, and have their separate reasons for honoring the pope's desire to keep the weekend event as free of controversy as possible.

"This prayer meeting will not be for mediation or to find solutions. We are just meeting up to pray. Then everyone goes home," Francis said after issuing the invitations during a pilgrimage to the Middle East last month.

Under Israel's political system, Peres's role as president is largely ceremonial. Real power lies with the much more hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netanyahu did allow Peres to open a secret back channel of peace negotiations with Abbas in 2011. The two men held four rounds of talks in which Peres has said they finalized a draft agreement that the rightwing premier then rejected.

A new, US-led, peace push launched last July collapsed amid acrimony earlier this year to the dismay of Peres, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his part in launching the process decades ago.

But all the president, now 90 and due to step down at the end of July, has been able to do is voice hope that talks may one day resume.

In the Vatican Gardens on Sunday, he, Abbas and Francis will "issue a joint call for peace to people across the world," his office said.

"President Peres will place particular emphasis on the importance of inter-religious dialogue," it added.

- 'Committed to pope's request' -

The Palestinians too are keen that the joint prayers go ahead, despite Netanyahu's decision to boycott a new unity government sworn in by Abbas on Monday with the support of Israel's Islamist foe Hamas.

"We are committed to the pope’s request. Nothing new has happened that would change the commitment," said foreign minister Riyad al-Malki.

While some Palestinians expressed dissatisfaction that Francis did not explicitly condemn Israeli settlement construction in the occupied West Bank during last month's pilgrimage, Abbas welcomed the pope's "historic" visit.

And a silent prayer that Francis held at Israel's West Bank separation barrier in Bethlehem was widely seen as a publicity coup for the Palestinians.

"The pope saw the occupation with his eyes, he saw the wall in Palestine," Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat told Agence France Presse.

That perception was shared in Israel to the anger of the nationalist right.

Jerusalem Post commentator Caroline Glick wrote of an "unfriendly" visit and accused Francis of "leading the Catholic Church in a distressingly anti-Jewish direction."

"Alas, the Golden Age of Catholic-Jewish relations seems to have come to an end during Francis’s visit to the Promised Land", she wrote.

Peres has been at pains to assuage Jewish religious sensibilities about the joint prayers he will hold at the Vatican.

"The event will take place in a location in the garden without religious symbols and which is not a place of prayer to ensure that it would be in accordance with Jewish tradition," his office said.

Ahead of the visit, Peres spoke with Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, who blessed him for his work towards peace and wished him luck, it added.

*************

Prayer Meeting Shows Pope’s Larger Vision

By JIM YARDLEY
JUNE 6, 2014
IHT

VATICAN CITY — From the earliest days of his papacy, when he walked slowly into a grand reception hall in the Apostolic Palace for his first meeting with a curious diplomatic corps, Pope Francis has promoted a fairly conventional foreign policy agenda: fight poverty, pursue peace, bridge ecumenical or interreligious divisions and protect the environment.

What has been unconventional is how Francis has elevated that agenda through adroitly timed gestures and initiatives — none more unexpected than the prayer summit meeting that he is holding on Sunday with the presidents of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. He has placed himself in perhaps the world’s most complex diplomatic dispute — at a moment when American-led negotiations have collapsed — by arguing that dialogue and prayer can help.

If few analysts expect any major breakthroughs, Francis’s summit meeting shows how he is trying to pursue his goals by positioning the Vatican as an independent, global diplomatic player. Analysts also note that Francis’s status as the first Latin American pope has given him credibility in the non-Western world and is helping the Vatican have influence on a broader array of issues and disputes.

“He is planning his own global role,” said Alberto Melloni, a Vatican historian. “He is showing there is a space in international relations for a different diplomacy. That is the purpose of this diplomatic action — to show they are independent and reliable for the world.”

Centuries ago, popes dominated global affairs, starting wars or ending them, exercising enormous influence in Europe and adjudicating between European powers as they expanded their colonial empires into Africa and the Americas. Papal influence was much more limited during the last century, with popes trying and failing to end both world wars. The most notable exception was Pope John Paul II, who is credited for his role in the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe.

When Francis became pope in March 2013, the historic nature of his papacy was framed largely in the context of the evolution of the Roman Catholic Church. Having an Argentine pope signaled that the Catholic center of gravity had shifted from Europe, where membership was stagnant, to Latin America and the global south, where it was expanding.

But Francis has since shown that his biography and popular personal style have also influenced how the Vatican engages on global political issues. He is hardly the first pope to speak out against poverty and inequality. Yet his work in the slums of Buenos Aires has lent him extra credibility, as has his status as a product of the developing world.

His first papal trip was to the Italian island of Lampedusa to draw attention to human trafficking and the global indifference to the thousands of refugees trying to reach Europe, with many dying in the Mediterranean. Global headlines also followed when he wrote a mildly scolding letter in January to the political and economic elites of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in which he decried global hunger as “intolerable.”

Francis has spoken often about his concerns over the fate of Christians in the Middle East, and he has used this issue, as well as his broader nonviolence agenda, to insert the Vatican into diplomacy in the region. Last September, he staged a huge prayer vigil at St. Peter’s Square as the United States and other Western powers were contemplating strikes against Syria.

The pope extended his invitation for Sunday’s prayer meeting during a visit last month to Israel, Jordan and the West Bank — and apparently it surprised almost everyone, underscoring the unpredictability that sometimes informs his approach. One of the most resonant moments of his trip came when he made an unscheduled stop to pray beside a security barrier that Israel had erected in Jerusalem.

To some, it is surprising that a Latin American pontiff who has traveled relatively little outside his home region would so assertively involve himself in the Middle East. But others note that the Vatican has played an active role in Latin American politics for decades, including mediating a dispute in the late 1970s between Argentina and Chile over rights to the Beagle Channel.

“In Latin America, the idea of papal intervention is a natural thing to think about,” said Philip Jenkins, a history professor with the Institute for Studies of Religion at Baylor University.

Vatican officials have emphasized that the pope is not planning to try to mediate specific disputes between the two sides on Sunday. Delegations led by Presidents Shimon Peres of Israel and Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority will join Francis on Sunday evening in the Vatican gardens for a program of Jewish, Muslim and Christian prayers, as well as music. “No one presumes that peace will break out Monday,” the Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who is involved in planning for the prayer meeting and is the custodian of Catholic properties in the Holy Land, said at a news conference at the Vatican on Friday. “The intent is to recreate the desire, the possibility, the dream — to reopen a door that had been closed for some time.”


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« Reply #242 on: Jun 13, 2014, 06:48 AM »

Pope Admits Risk in Ditching 'Sardine-Can' Popemobile

by Naharnet Newsdesk
13 June 2014, 10:30

Pope Francis admitted in an interview Friday that he takes a risk when he ditches a "sardine can" popemobile to greet the people, but at his age he has little to lose.

The 77-year-old pontiff recalled that for his July 2013 visit to Brazil officials had prepared a glass-enclosed "popemobile" to shield him.

"But I cannot greet the people and tell them I love them inside a sardine can, even if it is glass," he said in an interview with the Barcelona-based Vanguardia newspaper.

"For me it is a wall," said the spiritual leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.

"It is true something could happen to me but let's be realistic, at my age I do not have much to lose," he told the paper's Vatican correspondent Henrique Cymerman.

"It is in God's hands."

Francis has preferred to use open-top cars in contrast to his predecessor Benedict XVI who rode in a bulletproof "popemobile" -- a novelty introduced after the attempted assassination of John Paul II in 1981.


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« Reply #243 on: Jun 14, 2014, 06:05 AM »


Pope declares war exists because economies 'sacrifice man at the feet of the idol of money'

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
6/13/2014

In interview, Pope says he's unconcerned about security because he doesn't have much to lose

Pope Francis in a newspaper interview said that the world's economy is fueled by war, as the world's biggest nations "sacrifice man at the feet of the idol of money," to "obviously keep their balance sheets in the black." The pontiff was searing in his criticism about the callousness of world governments. He also livened the interview with a touch of wit. When asked if he had any security concerns, Pope Francis replied, "at my age I don't have much to lose."
In a recent interview, Pope Francis defended his predecessor Pope Pius, who some say did nothing to stop the Holocaust during World War II.

In a recent interview, Pope Francis defended his predecessor Pope Pius, who some say did nothing to stop the Holocaust during World War II.
Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

6/13/2014 (18 hours ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Pope Francis, interview, war, economies, Pope Pius

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The interview was published this week in the Spanish-language daily newspaper La Vanguardia.

"We are in a world economic system that is not good," Pope Francis said. "A system that in order to survive must make war, as great empires have always done. But since you cannot have a Third World War, you have regional wars. And what does this mean? That arms are made and sold, and in this way the idolatrous economies, the great world economies that sacrifice man at the feet of the idol of money, obviously keep their balance sheets in the black."

Pope Francis also reiterated one of his signature themes, that globalization's failings are not only material but cultural, since it "cancels differences." The pontiff called for an economic system that preserves each person's "particularity, richness, identity."

The Pope also addressed violence and killing done in the name of religion, citing the 17th-century Thirty Years' War.

Christianity, Judaism and Islam all "have our fundamentalist groups, small in relation to the rest", he said. "A fundamentalist group, even if it doesn't strike anyone, is violent. The mentality of fundamentalism is violence in the name of God."

The interview was conducted that day after Pope Francis presided over an "invocation for peace" at the Vatican with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The Pope said that event took place in spite of skepticism from his own subordinates.

"It was not easy," the Pope said. "Here in the Vatican, 99 percent said it would not happen and afterward the one per cent grew."

The Pope also defended the record of his predecessor Pope Pius XII. He said that opening Vatican archives relating to the Holocaust "will shed much light" on that subject. Pope Pius, critics maintain did not say or do all he could to oppose the Nazi genocide.

"They have dumped everything on poor Pius XII. But you have to remember that once he was seen as the great defender of the Jews," he said. "I am not saying that Pius XII did not make mistakes - I myself make a lot - but you have to interpret his role in the context of the time. Was it better, for example, that he not speak in order to avoid the killing of more Jews, or that he speak?"


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« Reply #244 on: Jun 16, 2014, 06:08 AM »


Pope Francis chooses Albania for his European visit

Vatican says pontiff wanted his first trip in Europe to be to a country with a past of persecution and continuing poverty

Reuters in Vatican City
theguardian.com, Sunday 15 June 2014 18.53 BST   

Pope Francis has said his first trip to a European country will be to Albania in September to pay tribute to those who suffered under communism.

He will make a day trip to Tirana, the capital of one of Europe's poorest countries, on 21 September, he told pilgrims and tourists in St Peter's Square.

The Vatican spokesman said the pope wanted his first trip in Europe to be to a "country on the margins" with a past of social and religious persecution and continuing poverty.

Former dictator Enver Hoxha proclaimed Albania – for decades one of the world's most isolated countries – the world's first atheist state in 1967. Many mosques, churches and religious libraries were destroyed and imams and priests were arrested.

Francis said he wanted to make the trip to "encourage a country that has long suffered from the consequences of the ideologies of the past".

Communism collapsed in Albania in 1992 and the late pope John Paul II visited the following year.

Francis, elected in March 2013, has made two international trips, to Brazil and the Middle East. He is due to visit South Korea in August and Sri Lanka and the Philippines in January.


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« Reply #245 on: Jun 21, 2014, 06:54 AM »

No More Child Mafia Victims, Pope Says on Visit to Clan Heartland

by Naharnet Newsdesk
21 June 2014, 13:44

No more children must die at the hands of the mafia, pope Francis said Saturday, as he traveled to the hometown of a toddler murdered in a clan drug war.

"It must never again happen that a child suffers in this way," the pope said as he met relatives of "Coco" Campolongo, a three-year-old shot dead in January in the heartland of the 'Ndrangheta organised crime group in an apparent mob hit over money.

"I continuously pray for him. Do not despair," Francis told Coco's grandparents and uncle during a visit to the Castrovillari prison, where the toddler's father is serving time for drug-related crimes.

He asked them to pass the message on to Coco's mother, who was also in prison at the time of his murder and is now living under house arrest.

Under a blistering southern sun, he then addressed the 200 or so male and female inmates, many of whom are in jail for mafia-related crimes.

The discovery of Coco's body in a burnt-out Fiat Punto sent shockwaves through Italy, as did the murder just two months later of another three-year-old in the nearby Puglia region.

Francis stopped to speak with a group of disabled people in the large crowd of faithful who had come to meet him, before heading by helicopter to Coco's hometown of Cassano allo Jonio, nestled at the bottom of a steep mountain.

The 77-year-old was set to visit a hospice before lunching with poor and young people. He will wind up the day with a mass in the nearby town of Marina di Sibari.

The Argentine pope has denounced organised crime groups, warning mobsters to relinquish their "bloodstained money" which "cannot be taken to heaven".

The 'Ndrangheta plays a leading role in the global cocaine trade and its bastion, the Calabria region, is a major transit point for drug shipments from Latin America to the rest of Europe.

It has benefited in the past from historic ties to the Church, with dons claiming to be God-fearing Catholics and priests turning a blind eye to crimes.

But over the past 20 years numerous priests have taken part in the fight against the clans -- sometimes paying for their bravery with their lives.


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« Reply #246 on: Jun 22, 2014, 06:05 AM »


Pope Francis 'excommunicates' mafia

Pontiff issues strongest attack on organised crime by papacy in two decades and comforts father of boy killed in a mafia 'hit'

Reuters in Sibari, Italy   
theguardian.com, Sunday 22 June 2014 12.12 BST   

Pope Francis has issued the strongest attack on organised crime groups by a pontiff in two decades, accusing them of practising "the adoration of evil" and saying that mafiosi were excommunicated.

It was the first time a pope had used the word excommunication – a total cutoff from the church – in direct reference to members of organised crime.

"Those who in their lives follow this path of evil, as mafiosi do, are not in communion with God. They are excommunicated," he said in impromptu comments at a mass before hundreds of thousands of people in one of Italy's most crime-infested areas.

To sustained applause he told the crowd: "This evil must be fought against, it must be pushed aside. We must say no to it." He branded the local crime group, the 'Ndrangheta, as an example of the "adoration of evil and contempt of the common good" and said the church would exert its full force in efforts to combat organised crime.

"Our children are asking for it, our young people are asking for it. They are in need of hope and faith can help respond to this need," he said.

Vatican spokesman Father Ciro Benedettini said the pope's stern words did not constitute a formal over-arching decree of canon (church) law regarding excommunication, which is a formal legal process.

Rather, he said it was more of a direct message to members of organised crime that they had effectively excommunicated themselves, reminding them that they could not participate in church sacraments or other activities because they had distanced themselves from God through their criminal actions.

Still, the use of the highly charged word by a pope was significant because many members of organised crime in Italy see themselves as part of a religious, cult-like group, take part in sacraments, go to church and in some cases have also found complicity by some churchmen in the south.

The pope, Benedettini said, was trying to "isolate mafiosi within their own communities", sending a message that they should not in any way be looked up to as "men of honour".

In 1993 Pope John Paul sternly warned members of Sicily's mafia that they would "one day face the justice of God". The mafia responded several months later with bomb attacks against several churches in Rome, including the Basilica of St John's, which is a church of the pontiff in his capacity as bishop of Rome.

Francis spoke in a homily at the end of day-long trip to the southern region of Calabria, home of the mafia-style 'Ndrangheta which investigators say has spread around the world.

The 'Ndrangheta has been much harder for investigators to combat than the Sicilian mafia because its structure is more lateral than hierarchical and its tightly-knit crime families are less flashy than the Sicilian mob and harder to penetrate.

A 2013 study by Demoskopia, an economic and social research institute, estimated the 'Ndrangheta's annual turnover at some €53bn (£42bn) in 30 countries, equivalent to about 3.5% of Italy's total official economic output.

Around half of its revenues came through drug trafficking, the study found.

Francis made the trip in part to pay tribute to Nicola "Coco" Campolongo, who was killed in the town along with his grandfather in an organised crime attack last January.

The charred body of the three-year-old boy, who had been entrusted to his grandfather Giuseppe Iannicelli after his parents were jailed on drugs charges, was found along with those of Iannicelli and a Moroccan woman in a burnt-out car in the town.

Francis, who last January strongly denounced the murder and asked the killers to repent, comforted the boy's father and other relatives during a meeting a Vatican spokesman described as highly emotional.

"Never again violence against children. May a child never again have to suffer like this. I pray for him continuously. Do not despair," the spokesman quoted the pope as saying.

The boy's parents and grandfather were part of a drugs trafficking clan of the 'Ndrangheta. Social workers have come under criticism for entrusting the boy to his maternal grandfather, a convicted drugs runner who was out on bail.

The bishop of the area the pope visited, Nunzio Galantino, is seen as one of the most progressive in Italy's poorer, underdeveloped south and has taken strong stands against organised crime.

But there have been instances of collusion of some priests in other areas of Calabria where the 'Ndrangheta is strongest, further south along the Italian peninsula near Reggio Calabria.


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« Reply #247 on: Jun 25, 2014, 05:49 AM »


Towards Healing did not have Vatican approval, child abuse inquiry told

Archbishop Philip Wilson tells how a powerful Vatican body nullified his ban on priest later defrocked by Pope Benedict

Australian Associated Press
theguardian.com, Wednesday 25 June 2014 07.59 BST

Towards Healing, the process the Australian Catholic church used to deal with allegations of child sexual abuse, did not have Vatican approval, a royal commission has heard.

Archbishop Philip Wilson told the commission on Wednesday how a formal decree he made when he was bishop of Wollongong to stop a priest about whom there had been complaints, was nullified by a powerful Vatican body.

The archbishop is in the box for the second day explaining how he dealt with John Nestor, a priest who was defrocked by Pope Benedict in 2008.

Complaints about Nestor dated back to 1991.

In 1996 he was found guilty of indecent assault of a teenage altar boy but was acquitted on appeal in 1997.

The archbishop said he used the Towards Healing protocol – the internal process set up by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference – to have Nestor assessed after he was acquitted.

He wanted Nestor to go to a clinic for further assessment. Nestor refused and on 22 January 1998 he told Nestor: "You are to cease functioning publicly as a priest in any place until I give you permission to do so."

He said that within the Vatican, the body known as the Congregation for the Clergy was the most powerful, and it was known for finding in favour of priests who challenged decisions by their bishops.

Nestor appealed against his decree and the CFC found that the bishop's decree did not meet the requirements of canon law, which would have required that Nestor go through a penal church process.

The bishop was told that Towards Healing "norms are in conflict with the code [canon] or disregard the canonical norms of procedure".

Wilson said: "I think that the resource [appeal] that was taken to the Congregation for the Clergy had an element in it where they regarded Towards Healing as being a non-operative procedure because it hadn't received authorisation of the Holy See".

Wilson said he always saw the Towards Healing process running in conjunction with church law – canon law – because he knew that Nestor would "contest everything".

He had checked with respected canon lawyers to ensure that what he was doing was correct.

He told the commission there was confusion in the church at the time about what laws applied and it was little known among bishops worldwide and in Australia that there had been reforms to canon law.

"There was a great confusion among the doctors, the teachers, about what were the proper procedures not only in these [child abuse] cases but in others."

The hearing is continuing.


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« Reply #248 on: Jun 27, 2014, 09:24 AM »

Ex-Vatican Envoy to Dominican Republic Defrocked for Sex Abuse

by Naharnet Newsdesk
27 June 2014, 16:50

The Vatican's former ambassador to the Dominican Republic has been convicted of sex abuse by a church tribunal and has been defrocked in the first case of its kind, the Vatican said Friday.

Polish archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, who was recalled to Rome last year amid claims that he sexually abused a number of children in the slums of Santo Domingo, was found guilty by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and can no longer perform priestly duties.

It is the first time that a Vatican ambassador has been defrocked for sexual abuse. Wesolowski has two months to appeal.

Once his canonical conviction is definitive he will have to face the Vatican City's criminal tribunal, which could sentence him to prison in what would be the first such trial for sex abuse within the tiny city state.

Wesolowski, 65, had been ambassador to the Dominican Republic since 2008, but was recalled by Pope Francis last August following accusations of sexually abusing minors.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the ex-cleric would be stripped of his freedom of movement.


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« Reply #249 on: Jun 30, 2014, 05:33 AM »


Pope Francis jokes 'woman was from a rib' as he avoids vow to reform church

Pope refuses to commit himself to raising status of women in Catholic church and makes 'joke' about female subservience

John Hooper in Rome
The Guardian, Sunday 29 June 2014 16.35 BST      

In his first interview with a female journalist since his election to the spiritual leadership of the world's 1.2 billion baptised Catholics, Pope Francis dodged a string of questions about whether he intended raising the status of women in his church and made a joke about women being "taken from a rib".

The pope said women were "the most beautiful thing God has made". And he added: "Theology cannot be done without this feminine touch."

He agreed not enough was said about women and promised that steps were being taken to remedy the situation.

But when his interviewer, the Vatican correspondent of the Rome daily Il Messaggero, Franca Giansoldati, asked him whether he could detect an underlying misogyny in the Catholic church, Francis replied: "The fact is that woman was taken from a rib." Giansoldati wrote that he then laughed "heartily" before saying: "I'm joking. That was a joke."

The 77-year-old pontiff went on: "The issue of women needs to be gone into in more depth, otherwise you can't understand the church itself." But did he envisage, say, appointing a woman to head a Vatican department?

"Well," replied the pope cryptically. "Priests often end up under the sway of their housekeepers."

In a conversation that highlighted both his theologically conservative side and his economically radical one, Francis returned to his argument that people should have children rather than pets, even if the task was more demanding. "The emotional relationship with animals is easier, more programmable," he said. "An animal is not free whereas having a child is a complex matter."

Francis was also invited to respond to comments by the Economist's blogger on religion who said that, in another interview, he had taken "an ultra-radical line", following Lenin "in his diagnosis of capitalism and imperialism as the main reason why world war broke out a century ago." The pope replied: "All I will say is that the communists stole our colours. The flag of the poor is Christian. Poverty is at the centre of the gospels. The poor are at the centre of the gospels."


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« Reply #250 on: Jul 03, 2014, 06:05 AM »


Vatican gives official backing to exorcists

Head of International Association of Exorcists says Vatican approval is cause for joy for those who suffer demons

Associated Press in Vatican City
The Guardian, Wednesday 2 July 2014 18.38 BST   

Exorcists now have an extra weapon in their fight against evil – the official backing of the Catholic church. The Vatican has formally recognised the International Association of Exorcists, a group of 250 priests in 30 countries who liberate the faithful from demons.

The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano reported this week that the Vatican's Congregation for Clergy had approved the organisation's statutes and recognised the group under canon law.

More than his predecessors, Pope Francis speaks frequently about the devil, and last year was seen placing his hands on the head of a man supposedly possessed by four demons in what exorcists said was a prayer of liberation from Satan.

The head of the association, the Rev Francesco Bamonte, said the Vatican approval was cause for joy. "Exorcism is a form of charity that benefits those who suffer," he told L'Osservatore.


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« Reply #251 on: Jul 07, 2014, 07:55 AM »

Pope Tormented by Sex Abuse Suicides, Slams Complicity

by Naharnet Newsdesk
07 July 2014, 16:37

Pope Francis said the suicides of sex abuse victims weighed on his conscience on Monday, speaking of the "terrible darkness" inside the Church as he met with survivors and pledged to crack down on pedophilia.

At his long-awaited first meeting with victims, the pope reached out to the tens of thousands of people abused by priests globally, telling them he was sorry for the "grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you".

Three male and three female victims from Britain, Germany and Ireland slept in the pope's residence near Saint Peter’s Basilica before breakfasting with him and spending half an hour each with him.

Francis said there was "no place in the Church’s ministry for those who commit these abuses" adding: "I commit myself not to tolerate harm done to a minor by any individual, whether a cleric or not."

In a moving speech written in his native Spanish, the 77-year-old spoke of the "toxic effect" of the abuse scandal, which he admitted had ruined many lives.

"I look at you and... I ask for the grace to weep, the grace for the Church to weep and make reparation for her sons and daughters who betrayed their mission, who abused innocent persons," he said.

He said "these wounds are a source of deep and often unrelenting emotional and spiritual pain, and even despair", and that the psychological pain caused by abuse meant that some had to face "the terrible tragedy of the death of a loved one by suicide."

"The deaths of these so beloved children of God weigh upon the heart and my conscience and that of the whole Church," the 77-year-old said.

The victims, who had also dined in the Casa Santa Martha Vatican guesthouse where the pope lives on Sunday night, were not identified to the press.

The private meetings came amid criticism that Francis has been slow to deal with a scandal hugely damaging to the Catholic Church, and it was hoped they would "open a constructive path" towards "healing the wounds" of victims, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said.

The first such meeting since Francis was elected in February last year, it had been hotly awaited by victim support groups who have criticized the Argentinian for not acting sooner on an issue which has scarred the Church's image for over a decade.

Though in May the pope had branded the sexual abuse of children by priests a crime comparable to a "satanic Mass" and promised "zero tolerance", survivors questioned why a pope famed for his compassion had not met with victims.

Last year Francis strengthened Vatican laws on child abuse, broadening the definition on crimes against minors to include pedophilia -- though the legislation only covers clergy and lay people who work in or for the Vatican, not the universal Catholic Church.

A historic first trial against a former ambassador to the Vatican is expected to take place after Polish archbishop Jozef Wesolowski -- former papal envoy to the Dominican Republic -- was convicted of sex abuse by a Church tribunal last month and defrocked.

At the end of last year he also set up an abuse commission to advise him on protocols -- which on Monday he called on for "support" in tackling the scandal.

In fierce language intended to hit clerical sinners hard, he said pedophile priests "profane the very image of God in whose likeness we were created."

The Church "asks the grace to weep before the execrable acts of abuse which have left lifelong scars," he said.

But the Vatican's continued insistence on keeping its inquiries into suspect priests secret has angered victims and campaigners.

In May, the U.N. Committee Against Torture said the Church had major failings in dealing with abuse cases, voicing concerns about a cover-up culture and calling for alleged pedophiles to be suspended immediately pending investigation.

Ahead of the meeting with victims, a former Mexican priest released an open letter to the pope written with several sex abuse victims, calling on Francis to "prohibit the transfer of pedophile priests" from one community to another.

Alberto Athie, who was forced by his bishop to step down for having defended victims abused by the late founder of the Legion of Christ Marcial Maciel, insisted the pontiff should "hand all sexual aggressors, as well as their protectors, over to the civil authorities."


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« Reply #252 on: Jul 08, 2014, 06:25 AM »


Pope Francis lambasts Catholic bishops who helped cover up child abuse

Pontiff makes strongest condemnation yet of paedophile priests and senior clergy who obfuscated rather than punished

Lizzy Davies in Rome
The Guardian, Monday 7 July 2014 14.29 BST      

Leaders of the Roman Catholic church who failed to "respond adequately" to reports of child sex abuse by paedophile priests caused "even greater suffering" to their victims and will in future be held accountable, Pope Francis has said, in a clear rebuke to bishops who helped cover up the scandal and shield abusers.

In his strongest condemnation yet of the way in which the church handled its abuse crisis, Francis asked victims for forgiveness not only on account of those who had perpetrated the abuse but also those senior figures whose "sins of omission" had exacerbated the problem.

"Before God and his people, I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you. And I humbly ask forgiveness," he said. The sexual abuse of minors by priests and other men of the cloth required the church to "make reparation".

The pontiff was delivering the powerful homily at a morning mass in the Vatican before a group of six abuse victims, including two from the United Kingdom. Sixteen months into his papacy, it was his first such encounter.

"It is something more than despicable actions," Francis said of clerical sex abuse. "It is like a sacrilegious cult, because these boys and girls had been entrusted to the priestly charism in order to be brought to God. And those people sacrificed them to the idol of their own concupiscence."

He added: "There is no place in the Church's ministry for those who commit these abuses, and I commit myself not to tolerate harm done to a minor by any individual, whether a cleric or not."

It is not the first time that Francis has condemned abuse, but his words delivered at the Santa Martha guesthouse on Vatican grounds were particularly pointed towards those clerics who may have enabled the abuse to be "camouflaged with a complicity".

"I beg your forgiveness … for the sins of omission on the part of Church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves. This led to even greater suffering on the part of those who were abused and it endangered other minors who were at risk," said Francis, according to a translation made available by the Vatican.

All bishops, added the pope, must exercise "the utmost care" in order to protect minors. "And they will be held accountable," he warned.

Advocates of abuse victims have long complained that the church has yet to act to punish those bishops who contributed to cover-ups. And, reacting to the pope's words on Monday, the main US victims' group, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (Snap), did not appear to have been won over, arguing that words were no substitute for concrete policy changes. The church needed a leader who was not only kind but had "the toughness to fire complicit church officials, it said in a statement.

"The pope says the church should 'make reparations' to victims. That's secondary. Stopping abuse and protecting children comes first. And sadly, no child on earth is safer today because of this meeting."

Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, declined to identify the six adults who saw Francis for around 30 minutes each on Monday, saying only that two were from the United Kingdom, two from Ireland and two from Germany.

One, however – Irish woman Marie Kane, 43 – broke her silence, telling Irish radio RTE the audience had been an important vindication. "It can't go any higher than this," she said.

"I felt it came from the heart," she added. "For me he seemed very sincere and very sorry. And I think he realises he has a lot of changes to make. I'd like to believe he will, but, you know, I don't know. We can only leave it with him and wait and see."

She said she had prayed for change in the church while attending the mass with the pope. "You know, just do more," she said. "Get these guys out of power that shouldn't be there – that are guilty of cover-ups, and who covered up in my case, as well, and they know who they are, you know. So, yes, change. Change."

The Vatican has been hauled over the coals repeatedly this year by two United Nations human rights panels, both of which unleaded harsh criticism on the church for its handling of the scandal, and urged it to do more to punish paedophile priests and their protectors, to support victims and to protect children.

Pope Francis has said he intends to find new ways forward, having set up a commission for the protection of minors, which met again in the Vatican on Sunday. The panel, which includes Irish abuse victim Marie Collins, has been dismissed by some other advocates as a superficial gesture.

They have found fault with the way the pope, 77, has approached the scandal since his election last March. While condemning the abuse, Francis has seemed at times reluctant to mount a full-frontal attack on the church, for instance riling many in March by claiming that no other organisation or institution in the world had "done more" to tackle child abuse. Some critics have also questioned why it took him more than a year into his papacy to meet with victims.

Speaking to journalists on Monday, Lombardi said the encounters had been "extremely broad and intense" and had left the victims with "the feeling that they had been listened to … with great attention".

He rejected accusations that the event was nothing more than a publicity stunt, saying he was "not surprised" that some people could not understand the "positive intentions" of either Francis or Benedict XVI, who met with abuse victims on several occasions.

But, he said: "It is totally clear that it was not a public relations event. If you [had seen] the people coming out of this meeting with the pope you [would have seen] that this was not a public relations event."


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« Reply #253 on: Jul 10, 2014, 06:52 AM »

Pope Francis Names New Leadership for Vatican Bank

By JIM YARDLEY
JULY 9, 2014
IHT

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis continued his efforts to modernize and reorganize the Vatican finances on Wednesday, by appointing a new leadership for the scandal-tainted Vatican Bank, streamlining other operations and signaling future changes to the church’s global media operations.

“Our ambition is to become something of a model in financial management rather than a cause for occasional scandal,” Cardinal George Pell, the pope’s recently appointed prefect on economic affairs, said at a news conference on Wednesday.
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The most prominent move, rumored for weeks, was the appointment of Jean-Baptiste de Franssu as the new president of the Vatican Bank, officially known as the Institute of Religious Works, or I.O.R. Mr. de Franssu, a Frenchman who was formerly head of European operations for the investment management company Invesco Ltd., had been serving on an economic advisory council that Francis created in March. He replaces Ernst von Freyberg, a German industrialist appointed last year.
Photo
Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, the new president of the Vatican Bank. Credit Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press

Cleaning up the Vatican’s murky finances has been a top priority for Francis, especially after many of the cardinals who elected him as pope in March 2013 spoke openly about their displeasure with the Vatican’s financial operations.

In recent years, the Vatican Bank has been under growing pressure to comply with international practices to fight money laundering and meet other global norms. In 2010, Italian prosecutors temporarily seized $30 million from two accounts at the bank as part of a financial investigation.

It was Francis’s predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who appointed Mr. von Freyberg to begin cleaning up the bank. Joined by outside consultants, his team was given the task of introducing greater transparency in bank practices while also examining about 18,000 accounts at the Vatican Bank for possible illegal activity.

His team published the bank’s first ever annual report and instituted protocols to prevent money laundering. And more than 3,000 accounts have been closed, most due to inactivity or small balances, though nearly 400 were closed after bank officials decided to narrow eligible customers to people with direct ties to the church.

“Today, I.O.R. is in good shape, also financially,” Mr. von Freyberg said at the news conference on Wednesday.

The bank’s legacy of past mismanagement was evident in an annual report released on Tuesday. It showed that profits had fallen sharply because of the declining price of gold as well as write-downs on bad loans issued before 2013. One priority has been to tighten internal bank controls to prevent powerful church officials from handing out loans with limited scrutiny.

In recent weeks, European news media have reported on an unconfirmed investigation into a bank loan of 15 million euros ($20.4 million) to a Catholic filmmaker that was approved in 2012 by the Vatican’s former second-in-command, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. Such a write-down was listed in Tuesday’s financial reports, though without specific mention of Cardinal Bertone.

On Wednesday, Cardinal Pell praised Mr. von Freyberg’s role at the Vatican Bank, noting that he had overseen the first phase of reforms while working part-time, splitting his weeks between Germany and Rome. He said the position now demanded a full-time occupant.

At the same time, many analysts say, the restructuring will limit the authority of the bank and other existing Vatican financial institutions over some assets and investments while placing more power in the new Secretariat of the Economy, which was created by Francis and is now led by Cardinal Pell.

“For the I.O.R., it’s an epochal change,” said Paolo Rodari, an expert on the Vatican at the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica. “It will become a mere retail bank, as many cardinals during the conclave had called for. But this move allows the Vatican to keep having a bank that distributes money to all its missions all over the world.”

Analysts say that Cardinal Pell, an Australian, is emerging as a major power broker in Francis’s restructuring of the Vatican bureaucracy, while Italian prelates who were once dominant in economic affairs have seen their clout diminished.

Cardinal Pell also announced the formation of a committee to propose changes to the Vatican’s media operation, which will be led by Christopher F. Patten, the chancellor of Oxford University.

The cardinal said the Vatican media division, which employs a large staff of translators and journalists, especially on radio, needed to be modernized, and he predicted future cost savings through attrition and restructuring.


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« Reply #254 on: Jul 14, 2014, 07:18 AM »

Pope Francis reassures the faithful: Only 2 percent of Catholic clergy are pedophiles

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, July 13, 2014 11:14 EDT

Pope Francis promised “solutions” to the issue of priestly celibacy in an interview on Sunday that raised the possibility the Catholic Church could eventually lift the interdiction on married priests.

Speaking to Italy’s La Repubblica daily, Francis also condemned child sex abuse as a “leprosy” in the Church and cited his aides as saying that “the level of paedophilia in the Church is at two percent”.

“That two percent includes priests and even bishops and cardinals,” he said.

Asked whether priests might one day be allowed to marry, Francis pointed out that celibacy was instituted “900 years after Our Lord’s death” and that clerics can marry in some Eastern Churches under Vatican tutelage.

“There definitely is a problem but it is not a major one. This needs time but there are solutions and I will find them,” Francis said, without giving further details.

The interview was the third in a series with the 90-year-old founder of the La Repubblica daily, Eugenio Scalfari, a famous journalist and known atheist.


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