Archive of March 4, 2013

Cardinal O'Malley lists sex abuse, Curia reform as priorities

Rome, Italy, Mar 4, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley listed clerical sex abuse, reforming the Church’s administration and Christian persecution as some of the issues he thinks the next Pope will have to tackle.

“The new Pope will also need to face the sexual abuse crisis that is really worrying our people,” he stated in a March 4 interview with CNA.

Another issue on his radar is the need to improve the relationships between the various departments of the Church’s central governing body, as well as with the universal Church.

“The relationship between the Church and the Muslim world is very important as well as the Church’s persecution in many countries and the lack of education in others,” Cardinal O’Malley added.

But Cardinal O’Malley also sees that there are positive developments for the Church, since it is “growing and flourishing.”

“We know that this is true since four million young people are hoping to meet with the new Pope in this summer’s World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro,” said the cardinal.

Cardinal O’Malley of Boston is currently attending preliminary meetings with fellow cardinals in preparation for choosing the new Pope. The gatherings include both cardinals who can vote for the next pontiff and those who are above the age limit of 80.

At the first general meeting this morning, 142 cardinals were present but 12 had not yet arrived in Rome.

“The meetings are very important because they give us the opportunity to know us better and to share information about the Church’s situation in different parts of the world,” Cardinal O’Malley explained.

“They also help us discuss about the Church’s governing body and the characteristics we should look for in a possible papal candidate,” he added.

And it’s important that cardinals with a “very rich experience and wisdom” share it with those participating in a conclave for the first time, including himself, Cardinal O’Malley said.

The assemblies are also a “spiritual retreat” that carry “a prayerful atmosphere, of deep reflection and of a searching of God’s will,” he explained.

As he and his brother cardinals continue to meet and prepare for the conclave, Cardinal O’Malley is hoping that it will be like a novena.

“This needs to be like the novena before Pentecost so that the Holy Spirit can pour over us to help us find our new Peter,” he said.

In his view, the most important thing Catholics can do now is to pray so that the Holy Spirit guides the cardinals in the upcoming papal election.

“It’s important to pray with a lot of faith and to try to do our duty of being spokespeople of the Gospel and to try to live the New Evangelization, inviting others to follow Christ,” he said.

With additional reporting by Alejandro Bermudez in Rome.

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Old establishment cardinals hope for quick conclave

Vatican City, Mar 4, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - While the cardinals created by Benedict XVI arrive in Rome and get acquainted with the pre-conclave operations, cardinals from the old establishment are pushing for a quick conclave.

An anonymous cardinal – which is how this type of pressure is usually applied – told the Italian press agency AGI that his “dream is that the Church will have a new Pope within this week,” and that “this is possible if the congregation set this Thursday, the 7th, as the date for the conclave, and the conclave elects the new Pope by Friday, the 8th.”
This is almost impossible, since the Sistine Chapel must still be prepared for the conclave and has not been closed to visitors yet.

In 2005, the Vatican office that deals with furnishing and decorating the Sacred Palace – called the Floreria Apostolica – began preparing the Sistine Chapel on April 5 and the conclave did not begin on April 18. And even though the Floreria clerks are not busy with the novendiali – the nine days of mourning for the late Pope – the Sistine Chapel will not probably be ready for at least seven days.
These kind of anonymous declarations appear to be part of maneuvering to hurry the conclave.

Cardinals from the old establishment are among the most active in this pre-conclave period.

On Sunday, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, met with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Dean of the College of Cardinals. As the former Vatican Secretary of State, Sodano led the movement during the 2005 conclave to prevent Ratzinger’s election. Sodano will not be part of this the conclave – he turned 80 six years ago – but he will manage the General Congregation meeting of cardinals that began this morning.
In the Sistine Chapel, Sodano’s man will be Leonardo Sandri, whose career developed under Sodano’s wings ever since he was appointed papal nuncio to Mexico.

And in informal meetings ahead of the conclave, Cardinal Sandri has been one of the most active, working to organize the old establishment cardinals, especially those who are part of the circle of diplomats.
This small group was not overjoyed by Benedict XVI’s election, and they lost influence under his pontificate. After “Ratzinger’s parenthesis,” they would like a Pope who is more won-over to their issues and their influence.

Under Benedict XVI, the old guard lost their control over the Secretariat of State, a blow they haven’t forgotten.

The fact that the Pope emeritus chose Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone as his secretary of state when he did not have a diplomatic career irked them, and so many of the attacks against him originated from their quarter.

When it comes to the conclave, the diplomats are looking for some sort of vindication, pushing for a quick conclave to take advantage of the inexperience of the most recently created cardinals.

They are backing the option of electing a second Pope Roncalli (John XXIII), i.e. a very old Pope who is able to innovate. For the time this has meant a resurrection of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires and Ratzinger’s main contender for the papacy in 2005.

Meanwhile, the American cardinals are advocating a later conclave date.
Last week, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York remarked, “Don’t hurry the conclave.”

When the conclave will take place is still up in the air.

At a March 4 afternoon press conference, Vatican press office director Father Federico Lombardi told journalists that there are still 12 cardinals who have not yet arrived in Rome but that they will all arrive by Tuesday.

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Cardinals begin pre-conclave meetings

Vatican City, Mar 4, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The cardinals of the Catholic Church gathered for their first general meeting this morning to take an oath of secrecy, pray and begin discussing some of the logistics to elect a new Pope.

“The atmosphere was very serene, positive and intense. It was constructive and reflects a spirit concern for the Church throughout the world,” Father Federico Lombardi said March 4.

The first general congregation began precisely at 9:30 a.m. and commenced with the cardinals reciting the Veni Sancti Spiritus, Veni Creator and Adsumus prayers.

There were 142 cardinals present, and of those 103 were cardinal electors. There are still 12 cardinals who are in the process of travelling to Rome and they are expected to arrive in the next two days.

Fr. Lombardi said that no decision was made today about the date of the conclave and pointed out that not all of the cardinals are present yet.

After the opening prayers, the cardinals took an oath to “maintain rigorous secrecy with regard to all matters in any way related to the election of the Roman Pontiff.” They recited a part of the oath together and then individually processed to the front of the hall to take the rest of it with their hand on the Bible.

As the gathering began to consider business matters, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of the Cardinals, proposed sending a message to Benedict XVI and the idea was warmly received.  According to Fr. Lombardi, the letter is being prepared and will be finalized this afternoon.

Between 11:45 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. the cardinals had the opportunity to make interventions, most of which revolved around whether or not to have an afternoon session, as they will later today at 5:00 p.m.

The cardinals will receive a meditation at their evening session from the Preacher for the Papal Household, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa.

According to the apostolic constitution “Universi Dominici Gregis,” which governs the process of electing a new Pope, the cardinals will also have a second meditation delivered just before the beginning of the conclave.

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Spanish ambassador to Holy See voices support amid papal transition

Madrid, Spain, Mar 4, 2013 (CNA) - Spain’s ambassador to the Holy See, Eduardo Gutierrez Saenz de Buruaga, said after meeting with the Spanish cardinals that they are “very hopeful” as they approach the upcoming conclave.

While the papal election has no clear favorite to be the next Pontiff, Ambassador Gutierrez told Spanish television on March 1, the cardinals “intend to find a successor to Benedict XVI as smoothly and as quickly as possible.”

“They don’t want to rush but they are aware that it should not go on for too long,” he explained.

Regarding the chances that a Spanish cardinal would be elected to the papacy, Gutierrez said the conclaves “are open” and that “all cardinals who meet the requirements to be Pope under Canon Law have a chance.” 

“I think there is always a chance,” he said.

The ambassador said the Spanish government will be following the conclave with “enormous interest.” However, he added, the election of the successor to Benedict XVI is “an internal affair” of the Holy See, which is an independent international entity, and therefore must be free of “interference” by other countries.

The Spanish government is very conscious of the religious nature of this process and of Spain’s Catholic majority, he explained. “The Rajoy government is very aware of this fact and approaches it with great sensitivity.”

“It’s not easy to be Pope in the 21st century, the age of globalization and of the international economic crisis,” Gutierrez continued. 

He said that Pope emeritus Benedict XVI “offered answers to the crisis from a transcendent point of view” with his three encyclicals, his books, his travels and his messages, “in which he stressed the need for the human being to be at the center of governmental policies.”

The ambassador explained that in his view, Benedict XVI made the correct choice in stepping down due to his declining physical strength. 

“He adhered to Canon Law at all times” in implementing his decision, Gutierrez said, all the while maintaining “an attitude of tremendous serenity and enormous dignity.”

“He even had the time to respond to his critics, to those who said he was coming down from the cross, with great wisdom,” he added.

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Argentinian cardinal says God spoke through Pope Benedict

Rome, Italy, Mar 4, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Estanislao Esteban Karlic, the retired archbishop of Parana, Argentina, said that God used Benedict XVI’s resignation from the papacy to speak a message of love to his people.

In a Feb. 27 interview with CNA, Cardinal Karlic said that Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI’s decision to resign “is a message, a grace.” 

“God is calling us again through him,” the cardinal said. “It is the sign of a grace that is being given to us to love God and all mankind.”

Being Catholic, he continued, means being a brother to all the nations of the world. 

“If there is one thing that really brings me joy, it is not feeling like a stranger or a foreigner in any part of the world, because God is our Father and we all are called to be brothers and sisters,” he added.

The cardinal commented on the Holy Father’s decision to retire from his office at the end of February due to advanced age and declining strength. He said the decision to step down into a life of prayer for the Church is a sign from God calling all people to experience his love.

The Pope-emeritus “speaks just like Jesus did,” said Cardinal Karlic, “and that is how men and women must speak. To express what God has given us interiorly to others, to share what God has done to us and for us. Because the truth about man is communion with God and communion with all mankind.”

He also stressed the importance of continuing ahead in the Year of Faith with the same enthusiasm Benedict XVI showed in proclaiming it.

“I believe that the Year of Faith is an enormous grace that that Benedict’s successor will in no way squander. He will have the same enthusiasm,” the cardinal stated.

During the Year of Faith, which runs throughout Nov. 24, 2013, Catholics have been invited to deepen their knowledge of the Second Vatican Council and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Cardinal Karlic was one of the drafters of the new Catechism that was promulgated under Pope John Paul II.

“It’s great to think that the catechism provides a vision for everything for a culture that questions everything,” he said. “It is a complete and organic vision for those who occupy important positions of authority in the world and for all the citizens of this society that is more and more united because of the possibilities we now have in science and technology.”

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Lawmakers pen letter insisting on conscience protections

Washington D.C., Mar 4, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - More than a dozen federal legislators have written to Congressional leaders calling for stronger conscience protections to be included in the upcoming government funding bills.

In a Feb. 27 letter, lawmakers criticized the “unprecedented attacks against the religious freedoms guaranteed in the Constitution,” saying that the growing threat “demands immediate action.”

“Nothing short of a full exemption for both non-profit and full-profit entities will satisfy the demands of the Constitution and common sense,” they added.

The letter, written by Reps. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) and John Flemming (R-La.), was signed by 12 other members of the House of Representatives.

It was sent to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R.-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Congressmen Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) and Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), leaders of the committees on Appropriations and Labor, Health and Human Services, respectively.

The letter precedes the introduction of a bill to protect conscience rights in the House of Representatives.

Authors of the letter listed several examples of “egregious violations of long-standing civil rights and religious freedoms by the current Administration.”

Warning that a disregard for religious beliefs is particularly prominent in the field of health care, they pointed to accounts of a nurse in New York who was “forced to take part in the gruesome dismemberment of a 22-week old unborn child.”

The members of Congress also voiced concern over nurses at private universities and state-run clinics who have similarly been told “that they must assist in abortions that violate their deeply-held convictions.”

They further criticized the threats to freedom of conscience posed by the current administration’s mandate requiring employers to offer health insurance covering contraception, sterilization and some early abortion-inducing drugs.

More than 100 plaintiffs have sued over the regulation, including Catholic dioceses and charitable organizations, religious schools, individual states and private businesses.

The legislators voiced opposition to the mandate, noting the objections of companies such as Hobby Lobby, which is owned by a Christian family that seeks to put its faith into practice through its business.

Under the mandate, Hobby Lobby could be faced with fines of more than $1 million per day for adhering to Christian principles as it always has. Other individuals, self-insured organizations and small business owners face similar challenges.

The lawmakers asserted that the administration’s proposal to amend the mandate in order to “accommodate” religious freedom offers “no remedy for individuals and small business owners, such as Hobby Lobby, and falls far short of addressing the concerns of religious non-profits and charities.”

To solve these problems, the legislators suggested that the Appropriations Committee include conscience protections regarding insurance coverage in its legislation providing funding for the 2013 fiscal year.

In addition, they called for codified assurances that healthcare providers “may refuse to provide, refer, or train for abortion services” without penalty or discrimination.

“Congress cannot ignore the relentless assault on the First Amendment right to religious freedom,” they stated, stressing that the nation’s lawmakers “must act.”

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