Archive of March 18, 2013

Pope Francis will shake up more than Vatican schedules

Vatican City, Mar 18, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - All the Vatican officials will continue in their positions “until otherwise provided” while Pope Francis takes time for “reflection, prayer and dialogue before making any definitive appointments,” but one can expect changes to happen.
Usually, when a new Pope begins his ministry, he confirms all the heads of the congregations and pontifical councils, who lost their posts at the beginning of the sede vacante period. He also reconfirms the five-year terms for the secretaries of the Vatican departments – who took over the management of the offices while there was no Pope.
When he issued the normal confirmation on March 16, Pope Francis only offered a two-sentence statement, and nothing is mentioned about the Vatican Secretariat of State, the second most powerful congregation.
“You should expect a lot of changes under Pope Francis’ pontificate,” said Alberto Barlocci, a reporter based in Buenos Aires and the director of the magazine Ciudad Nueva.

“With his first gestures, he wants to make a break with the past and signal that the Church is something different from frills and (its) image.

“But if you think that he would not govern the Curia, you are wrong. He knows very well what the problems are, and he has probably already thought of how to handle them,” Barlocci told CNA on March 15.
One of the first dossiers Pope Francis will receive contains the findings from the investigation conducted by three cardinals into the Vatileaks scandal.

In fact, when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio became acquainted with how maneuvering at the Vatican could affect his ability to carry out his ministry.
An Argentinian prelate who spoke on the condition of anonymity told CNA March 16 that Cardinal Bergoglio was “named as auxiliary and then archbishop of Buenos Aires to save the diocese from the disarray left by his predecessor Guarracino.”

But, he adds, “when new bishops were appointed in Argentina, he always found out that none of the indications he gave had been accepted.”

The process for selecting bishops typically involves the metropolitan archbishop offering his suggestions of who the Pope should appoint as a bishop for vacant dioceses. However, in the case of Cardinal Bergoglio, his input was somehow being disregarded at the Congregation for Clergy.

The papal nuncio to Argentina responded by submitting the same top three suggestions for new bishops to the Vatican’s Congregation of the Clergy, so “the new bishops were in agreement with Bergoglio.”

This maneuvering at the Congregation for Clergy was guided by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who was Vatican secretary of state at the time and had clout in Latin America because of the years he served there as a papal nuncio. And his influence is still felt in the region because of the network of diplomats he helped establish their careers.
However, Pope Francis seems to be very aware of these problems.
In fact, nothing of the Vatileaks dossier will likely surprise him. Pope Francis will take his time to understand how to “reform” the Curia.

“Cardinals told me,” he joked at a March 16 meeting with journalists, “that I had to take the name of Hadrian VII, since there was the need of a Curia reform, and Hadrian VI was a great reformer.”
The first move of the new Pope will presumably be to appoint a new Vatican Secretary of State.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone is 78 and he beyond the age of retirement. The race to take over his post seems to be between the two Italians: Giuseppe Bertello – now in charge of the Vatican City State's administration – and Fernando Filoni – the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

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Pope keeps motto of mercy from Buenos Aires

Vatican City, Mar 18, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis decided this morning that he would keep both the motto and coat of arms that he used during his time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

The motto has “a particular meaning in life and spiritual journey of the Pope,” a March 18 statement from the Vatican press office says.

“In fact, on the feast of St. Matthew in 1953, the young Jorge Mario Bergoglio experienced at the age of 17-years-old, in a very special way, the loving presence of God in his life.

“Following a confession, his heart was touched and felt the descent of the mercy of God, that with eyes of tender love, he was being called to the religious life, after the example of St. Ignatius of Loyola,” the communiqué explained.

The motto, “miserando atque eligendo,” was inspired by St. Bede the Venerable’s commentary on Matthew’s Gospel.

The particular passage that spoke to Pope Francis was Jesus seeing Matthew the tax collector, “looked at him with love and said 'Follow me.’”

The Latin motto stands for “having had mercy, he called him.”

Mercy has been a particular theme of Pope Francis in his homilies and reflections. Most recently he spoke about mercy in his March 17 Sunday Angelus address, reminding the packed piazza that “the Lord never gets tired of forgiving, it is we that get tired of asking forgiveness.”

The Pope’s coat of arms is also the same as the one he adopted in Buenos Aires, with the exception of the papal keys and the papal mitre crowning the image.

The shield has a blue background, and three symbols representing Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

At the top is a sun with the letters IHS in the middle, representing the Society of Jesus as well as Christ. The lower left-hand corner features a star for Mary, and the lower-right hand corner displays the nard flower, which is a symbol for St. Joseph.

“By placing these images in his shield, the Pope wanted to express his particular devotion to the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph,” the Vatican’s statement said.

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Priest defends Pope Francis against 'Dirty War' accusations

Denver, Colo., Mar 18, 2013 (CNA) - In a CNA column, professor and priest Father Matthew Lamb dispels allegations that Pope Francis did not speak out against the kidnapping of two Jesuits during the country's civil conflict in the 1970s.

Fr. Lamb, chair of the theology department at Ave Maria University in Florida, discusses the case of two Jesuits who were kidnapped by the Argentine government in the 1970s.

During that time, the military junta that ruled Argentina leveled a “Dirty War” against Marxist and left-wing activists and militants, which included the “disappearing” tens of thousands of people.

At that time, from 1973 to 1980, Fr. Jorge Bergoglio was the head of the Jesuits' Argentine province.

In 1976, two of his priests, Fr. Orlando Yorio and Fr. Francisco Jalics, were disappeared by the regime. They worked in the slums of Buenos Aires, and were alleged to be connected with leftist guerillas. On that suspicion, they were disappeared, but were released after five months.

There have been allegations that Fr. Bergoglio did not speak out against the disappearing of Fr. Yorio and Fr. Jalics – or was even complicit in it – but Fr. Lamb says these allegations are contradicted by a statement made by Fr. Jalics himself on March 15 at the website of the German province of the Jesuits.

Fr. Lamb writes that “the fog of war brings in many allegations against those who sought to avoid the bloodshed that was caused by both will take time to sort all these allegations out in the light of the truth.”

“But we do have a statement by one of the Jesuits that he published on the German Jesuit website. It contradicts some of the allegations, even some attributed to him earlier in the 1990s.”

Fr. Jalics' statement says that he again met Pope Francis after he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires and that they were reconciled, and that he wishes him “God's blessing in his papacy.”

It clarifies that Fr. Jalics and Fr. Yorio, while detained, had no idea of knowing what Fr. Bergoglio was doing on their behalf, and that they in fact did have his permission to be working in the slums of Buenos Aires.

“What Bergoglio was doing might be similar to what Karol Wotjtyla did in Poland under Nazism and Communism: work behind the scenes to support the opposition without identifying totally with them,” Fr. Lamb writes.

Fr. Lamb's column gives much insight into Argentina's Dirty War, and helps to clear Pope Francis' name of wrongdoing with respect to the disappearing of his priests.

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Catholic Marriage Prep success bucking national marital trends

Colorado Springs, Colo., Mar 18, 2013 (CNA) - With more couples choosing to use contraception and live together before marriage, the Catholic definition of marriage is more at risk than ever, says Christian Meert, who with his wife Christine heads the Office of Marriage and Family Life for the Diocese of Colorado Springs.

The problem for many couples, he said, is often a fundamental lack of knowledge about what Christ and the Catholic Church require of married couples, he said.

“Everything they are getting from the media and the rest of society is going against everything we believe in,” he said. “The people we are getting have a strong desire to do the right thing . . . but in general their religious background is very shallow.”

He and his wife see this trend constantly as they work with couples both through their office and through their business —, an online marriage preparation course designed for couples who are separated by distance or schedules and can’t take the classes together at their local church.

The couples who go through their preparation program often come from broken homes, Meert said. While many have a strong desire to live in accordance to the church, they often are unsure what that means. That’s where he and his wife step in. One of the best ways to save traditional marriages, they believe, is to ensure that there are more strong marriages based on the teachings of the church.

“We’re trying to give them something that’s Christ-centered,” he said. “Something that is going to hold them together for life.”

After seven years and mentoring more than 10,000 couples from countries around the world, Meert said that the program is seeing results.

In 2012, 78 percent of couples anonymously polled through the site after taking the program said they planned to abstain from sex until marriage.

“When you talk about abstinence, the general numbers are that 70 to 80 percent of couples are in cohabitation and 90 percent have premarital sex,” he said. “When you get the incredible number of 78 percent that want to remain abstinent, it means that they really want to do it right.”

Also according to the survey, 64 percent of couples in 2012 said they planned to use natural family planning in their marriage. Natural family planning is a church-approved method of family planning that monitors the woman’s fertility cycle to both help achieve or avoid pregnancy.

“I think that’s good,” Meert said. “When we start, only a very small percentage of couples have even heard about it (natural family planning) and then you talk to them and explain what it is and they want it.”

Thus far, the Meerts’ program has won the endorsement of bishops who find the content sound and in accordance with the teachings of the Catholic Church. In February, Diocese of Colorado Springs Bishop Michael Sheridan endorsed the program in a letter he sent to every bishop in the country.

“It is a comprehensive and well-designed program that stresses the spiritual and sacramental dimensions of marriage and deals in a very straightforward and orthodox manner with those issues that threaten Holy Matrimony, especially contraception and cohabitation,” he wrote in the Feb. 21 letter.

In the program, couples are paired with mentor couples and walked through Scripture to understand where God is calling for their marriage to be, Meert said. They are encouraged to have long discussions about their faith and other topics and are slowly taught what it means to be married in the Catholic Church.

“Most see that God cares for them. God loves them, and he’s asking them to remain abstinent out of love,” Meert said. “But that can’t be done in a minute. We have to be patient and we have to give them time to reflect and process the information because they are receiving it for the first time.

“When they are ready for the truth, they want it.”

For more information on Catholic Marriage Prep, visit or call toll free at 866-425-7193.

Posted with permission from The Colorado Catholic Herald, official publication of the Diocese of Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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Pope Francis' inauguration brings world to Rome

Vatican City, Mar 18, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to converge on St. Peter’s Square March 19 for the installation of Pope Francis, including large delegations from Argentina and Italy.

The ceremony is formally titled “The Inauguration of the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome” and begins with a visit to the tomb of St. Peter.

The largest delegations will be coming from Argentina and Italy. President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is leading a group of 19 people from the Argentinian government, while President Gorgio Napolitano is bringing 16 officials on behalf of Italy.

Pope Francis has asked for a few changes to the ceremony, but it will not be significantly different than Benedict XVI’s installation in 2005.

One interesting change will be that the Gospel will be sung only in Greek, whereas in the past it was also sung in Latin, signifying the Eastern and Western branches of the Church.

Pope Francis’ inauguration will begin with him making his way through St. Peter’s Square in the popemobile or the open-air Jeep.

After that he will visit St. Peter’s tomb under the main altar of the Vatican basilica.

He will be joined at the tomb by the patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches, who will carry his pallium – a circular stole of white wool that evokes the image of the Good Shepherd –into St. Peter’s Square. The patriarchs will also carry his Fisherman’s ring out to the square.

The pallium is the same one that was used by Benedict XVI, while the ring belonged to Pope Paul VI. The ring was designed by the famous Italian jeweler Henry Manfrini and was offered to the Pope by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re.

Vatican press office director Father Federico Lombardi specified March 18 that it is not known whether Paul VI ever wore the ring.

Following the conferral of the pallium and ring, there will be a brief rite in which six cardinals – two from each order – will offer their obedience to Pope Francis.

The concelebrants for the Mass will be all of the cardinals, the Eastern Catholic patriarchs, and two priests.

The priests will be Franciscan Father José Rodríguez Carballo and Jesuit Father Adolfo Nicolás, in their roles as president and vice president of the Union of Superiors General, respectively.

Since March 19 is the Feast of Saint Joseph, the readings and Mass parts for that solemnity will be used.

The celebration will have delegations from 132 separate entities, including 33 Christian churches, 16 Jewish representatives, and 31 heads of state.

Significantly, the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I will attend the inauguration for the first time since the Great Schism of the Church into Eastern and Western confessions in 1054.

Papal master of ceremonies Monsignor Guido Marini expects the inauguration and Mass to be finished by 11:30 a.m.

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Pope possesses wisdom and simplicity, Argentine cardinal says

Rome, Italy, Mar 18, 2013 (CNA) - The retired cardinal of Parana, Argentina, described his friend Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio – now Pope Francis – as an able pastor with the heart of a missionary.

In an interview with CNA, Cardinal Estanislao Esteban Karlic said it was a “huge surprise” to see his friend appear on the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica dressed in white. 

“The Lord loves us so much, he gave us this immense gift.”

“I pray to God that I will not forget that moment so that I can thank him and so that I can pray for our beloved brother Jorge whom we will now call Francis,” the cardinal said.

He added that the Pope “carries in his heart the message of the Gospel so that it be spread throughout the world and received by all men and women, that it may infuse in us a missionary and evangelical spirit, to the ends of the earth, such that there be no place in the world where the name of Jesus is not heard.”

Cardinal Karlic said Pope Francis will help everyone “understand once again that we all have something to give to others, we all have something to receive from others.”

This is true, he said, “because the truth of God, of the Church, of humanity, is communion among those who love each other as brothers and sisters, as individuals, as families, as nations.”

The cardinal said that seeing a fellow Argentinian elected Pope “is not only a very great honor but also a call to follow his guidance” in serving God.

Pope Francis will always be the first Latin American Pope, he continued, explaining that “this represents a very important historical moment” and a sign of great fruit to be borne in the region’s sanctity.

The Holy Father “is a very simple man” who is “capable of confronting the simplest and also the most complex of issues,” Cardinal Karlic continued. 

“He is a man of reflection who puts his wisdom into action. He did so first in leading the Jesuits, later in the Diocese of Buenos Aires, and now in leading the Church as the Supreme Pontiff.”

The fact that he is the first Jesuit in history to be Pope and has chosen the name of Francis, “the name of the humble founder of the Franciscans,” describes perfectly the Holy Father’s personality, Cardinal Karlic said.

“I would even say that in his heart, St. Ignatius of Loyola – the founder of the Jesuits – was greatly inspired by St. Francis to care for the poor…because all of the saints wish to imitate other saints in many of their qualities,” the cardinal said.

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Congressional delegates praise Pope's loving example

Washington D.C., Mar 18, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Members of Congress traveling to the Vatican for the inaugural Mass of Pope Francis praised the new Pontiff as a spiritual leader who presents the fullness of Church teaching in love.

Congressman Chris Smith (R-N.J.) told CNA that it is “really an honor” to both “symbolically and tangibly represent the House of Representatives” at the Pope's installation Mass on March 19, the Feast of St. Joseph.

Smith is leading a bipartisan delegation representing the U.S. Congress to the Vatican. Members of the delegation will attend the inaugural Mass at St. Peter's Square, which commemorates the Pope’s entrance into the papacy.

The delegation was assembled by Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), who referred to the installation of the Church’s first Latin American Pope as “a milestone in world history and an event of monumental significance to the millions of Americans who share in the Catholic faith.”

Although Catholic, Boehner said that he could not attend the event himself due to his obligations on Capitol Hill regarding ongoing budget debates.

Instead, he appointed a group of representatives to attend the Vatican Mass, led by Smith, a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee who is known for his adamant pro-life work and his strong defense of human rights.

Smith reflected on the new Holy Father as a “very strong” leader with “core convictions that are absolutely rooted in the Gospel.” He said that Pope Francis reminds him of what he would imagine St. Francis of Assisi – the Pontiff's namesake – to be like.

“I love the simplicity,” he added.

Furthermore, as someone who is “profoundly pro-life,” Pope Francis will be an important leader in the ongoing “epic battle with the culture of death,” he said.

He also praised the Pope for the “emphasis he brings to the preciousness of marriage” and his focus on “re-energizing service to the poor and disenfranchised.”

In addition to Smith, the House delegation heading to the Vatican includes Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), Ruben Hinojosa (D-Texas), Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), as well as House chaplain Fr. Patrick Conroy, S.J.

Lipinski, an Illinois Democrat who is known for voting to defend life and marriage, told CNA he is “honored to have the opportunity” to represent Congress and his home district.

“As a Catholic, this is especially meaningful to me,” Lipinski said. “Pope Francis has demonstrated both humility and strength. I pray for the Holy Spirit to guide him as he leads the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.”

Reflecting on recent papacies, Rep. Smith said that the Church has been “so fortunate” to have Pope John Paul II and then Pope Benedict XVI, both “incredible individuals” who strengthened the Body of Christ.

Now, he explained, the first Latin American Pope will be able to invigorate an important region of the world that is largely Catholic.

Smith predicted that the Holy Father – known for both his compassion for the poor and his staunch orthodoxy – will be able to unite Catholics.

“In some corners of the Church, there has been this artificial division,” the congressman explained, noting that he is “gravely disappointed” when some people try to separate aid to the poor and defense of Catholic teaching on issues such as life and marriage.

Pope Francis' witness and teachings can show people that these two aspects of the Catholic Church “are seamless,” Smith said.

“One is part of the other,” he explained. “When you care for the person, you care for the person in totality. That begins in the womb and ends at natural death.”

Smith believes that Pope Francis will lead many souls to the truth through his “wonderful presentation” of the Gospel.

Not only has the new Holy Father shown himself to be a strong leader, the congressman said, but he has a history of speaking the truth while “loving the person at all times.”

People tend to be open to the truth when it is presented in love, Smith said, pointing to the scores of young people who are gravitating toward the pro-life movement.

In addition, he said, the Holy Father will draw people in through the example of his life, because “his love of Christ just radiates.”

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