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Archive of March 25, 2013

Pope's election changed headlines but decisions loom

Vatican City, Mar 25, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - “The election of Pope Francis marked a change in the newspapers headlines regarding the Church,” according to Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, the secretary of the conclave that elected the new pontiff.

In a March 20 interview with CNA, Archbishop Baldisseri invited journalists “not to speculate too much” about why the cardinals chose Pope Francis, but he also maintained that “there was a need for a Pope of this kind, a shepherd able to guide and reform the Church.”

The “kindness of this Pope, who is very close to people, marked a changed in the newspaper headlines,” he underscored, adding, “his gestures will surely give a different image of the Church to the world.”

Right after the election, Jorge Mario Bergoglio put his red berretta on Lorenzo Baldisseri’s head. According to an ancient tradition, the newly elected Pope passes his berretta to the secretary of the conclave, thus indicating that he will be made a cardinal at the next consistory.

The last secretary of the conclave who inherited the berretta rossa from a new Pope was Cardinal Di Jorio, who received the red hat of John XXIII at the end of the 1958 conclave. Popes Paul VI through Benedict XVI decided not to follow the tradition, but Pope Francis returned to it.

Archbishop Baldisseri is not yet a cardinal, but he can wear the red hat.

For the time being, he no longer has to carry out his duties as secretary of the Congregation for Bishops. Instead, he will wait for the next consistory and a job that is in keeping with his new standing.

Meanwhile, Vatican analysts are poised to capture any sign that might indicate what Pope Francis will do with the high profile positions.

Whenever a new Pope is elected, the heads of all the Vatican departments offer their resignations until they are confirmed or replaced by the new pontiff.

So, right after Easter, Pope Francis will have to face some difficult choices, including the appointment of a new Vatican secretary of state.

The current secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, has been confirmed “donec aliter provideatur” (until it is differently provided), but he is 78, three years beyond the age of retirement.

According to officials who work for the Vatican Secretariat of State and who requested anonymity, the frontrunners for the new secretary are Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, who leads the administration of Vatican City State, and Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

But Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, who served as diplomat before taking the post as secretary of the Congregation for Bishops, is also in the running.

A secretary of a cardinal who took part to the conclave, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, speculated that Cardinal Bertello will be the final choice because he played a key role in the election of Pope Francis.

He explains that the cardinals in the Roman Curia “did not have a common line, and so Bertello worked with the uncertain cardinals, after their vote had been scattered during the previous ballots.”

The source also added that “cardinals wanted somebody able to give a fresh image to the Church.”

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga underlined in a March 21 conversation that “now it will be easier for people to meet the Pope: his doors are always open.”

But officials within the Vatican Curia are still worried that Pope Francis’ honeymoon with the press will soon end.

An official who served in a Vatican pontifical council said on the condition of anonymity, “things will break up when the Pope will take position about in vitro fertilization or same-sex marriages.”

When Pope Francis was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he stood strongly against the “same-sex marriage” legislation that was eventually signed into Argentinean law in 2011.

On the other hand, Virginia Bonnard, an Argentinian journalist, claimed that “he simply followed the Episcopal Conference of Argentina line. He is a man of dialogue, more than a man of crusades.”

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Pope plans full Easter schedule with a twist

Vatican City, Mar 25, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Francis will celebrate a full schedule this Holy Week, including washing the feet of youth detainees and leading the Stations of the Cross at the Coliseum.

His six main events are: Chrism Mass at Saint Peter’s Basilica on Holy Thursday morning, followed by Mass at a youth detention center that evening, a Communion service and Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, Easter Vigil Mass on Saturday evening and Easter Mass on Sunday morning.

Pope Francis will start the week by celebrating Chrism Mass on March 28 with cardinals and other clergy from Rome at Saint Peter’s Basilica. During the Mass, the Pope will consecrate the oils that will be used throughout the year for Baptism, Confirmation and Anointing of the Sick.

In keeping with his practice in Buenos Aires, he will celebrate Holy Thursday Mass at Casal del Marmo youth detention center, instead of the Basilica of Saint John Lateran.

When he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, then-Cardinal Bergoglio celebrated the Mass in a prison, a hospital or a hospice for the poor and marginalized people. This time around he will be with youth offenders and will wash their feet.

On Good Friday, March 29, he will preside over a Communion service and the Veneration of the Cross in St. Peter’s Basilica at 5:00 p.m. local time.

The pontiff will then go to the Coliseum to lead the Stations of the Cross at 9:15 p.m. The prayers for the 14 stations were written by two Lebanese youths with the help of Cardinal Bechara Rai.

The Vatican chose the young Arabs to highlight the suffering of Christians in the Middle East and the growing urgency of their situation.

After the procession around the Coliseum, Pope Francis will give a speech to people gathered there and impart his apostolic blessing.

On Holy Saturday, the Pope will celebrate the first of two Easter Masses when he holds the Easter Vigil in St. Peter’s Basilica.

He will bless a fire in the atrium of St. Peter’s Basilica and enter in a procession with the Paschal candle singing the Easter Proclamation.

The Pope will then concelebrate Mass at 8:30 p.m. local time with the cardinals and impart the sacrament of Baptism, which is traditionally done in churches worldwide at this time of year.

On Sunday at 10:15 a.m. Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at St. Peter’s Square, which will finish with his “Urbi et Orbi” greeting and blessing from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.

“Urbi et Orbi” means “to the city and to the world” and is a special blessing the Pope gives every Easter and Christmas.

He usually offers a message beforehand and then proceeds to announce the blessing in more than 50 languages, but it remains to be seen if Pope Francis will follow suit.

The blessing includes the remission of all temporal punishment due to sin through a plenary indulgence attached to the papal blessing, under the usual conditions.

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American seminarians experience rewards of Lent in Rome

Rome, Italy, Mar 25, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Two American seminarians living and studying in Rome have found that their experience of Lent this year has been both challenging and rewarding.

“I’ve given up eating burgers and eating out, but I’ve also added things to my prayer regiment,” said Kyle Sahd, originally from the Diocese of Harrisburg in Pennsylvania.
 
For Sahd that means organizing Mass at the Station Churches, which the Pontifical North American College sponsors every other Lent.

It also means getting up before 6:00 a.m. to make it in time for Mass at 7:00 a.m. in a different Roman church each day. His duties also involve finding a priest to celebrate Mass, making sure the various churches are available, and taking care of liturgical vestments.

Sahd hopes that in the end this Lenten effort will increase his knowledge of Jesus’ Passion.

Seminarian Alex Kreidler from the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese is charged with helping Sahd make sure the Station Masses happen.

“It is my house job to be the assistant to Kyle in the Station Churches so I’ve made that a real part of the Lenten practice this year,” said Kreidler.

“It’s become a practice and a penance in itself because last year it was optional for me, but this year it isn’t,” he said.

Organizing the Station Masses also means that the two seminarians are staying in Rome while their classmates head to all corners of Europe for Holy Week, a chance that only comes up every other year.

Kreidler said he hopes to attend some of the Pope’s Masses during the last three days of Holy Week.

“For a Catholic, Holy Week is the holiest week of the year because we concentrate on the Lord’s most important events of his life,” said Kreidler.

“It’s this time of year that forms our identity as Christians and gives substance to the Creed,” he stated.

For Sahd, the transition between Popes has also been a big part of Lent.

“This has been just a wonderful and blessed week and even month to be here during the transition of Benedict to His Holiness, Francis,” Sahd reflected.

“It’s been such a blessed time to witness the faith here in Rome and to see how it is alive in Italy,” said the seminarian, who has been at the college for nearly three years.

He noted that while “celebrating the Pope is part of Italian culture,” it is also “such a joy to see the universality of the Church.”

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Priest says Pope's election bearing spiritual fruit in Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Mar 25, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Father Marcelo Pettinaroli, pastor of Our Lady of Carmen in Buenos Aires, said the election of Pope Francis has brought rich spiritual blessings to the country of Argentina.

“There are more people coming to confession, the churches are full, and I think that this is a time of special grace for the universal Church and for the Church in Argentina,” Fr. Pettinaroli told CNA in a March 19 interview.

While the faithful in Buenos Aires miss their bishop greatly, he added, “we feel that he is present among us, and everything that he always said he is now repeating…from the Chair of Peter.”

Fr. Pettinaroli, who is also the former director of the Introductory Home of the Seminary of Buenos Aires, recalled the Pope’s dedication to prayer and the priests of the archdiocese during his time as cardinal.

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio – who is now Pope Francis – visited the seminary often and “would spend his vacation week in Montonera, where the seminaries spent their vacations,” he said.

The Holy Father, he continued, “has told the seminarians numerous times what his prayer life is like, and they would ask him about his life.”

In addition to being close to the seminarians, Fr. Pettinaroli said that the Pope always showed great care for priests, including the retired.

The Holy Father “is a person who listens to you intently and then says just the right words,” he explained. “He has great discernment and would always give you a word of encouragement.”

“He is a man who likes to get up very early to pray because he has an intense time of prayer. He goes to sleep early so he is able to keep this prayer life and that’s why he doesn’t like social gatherings,” the priest said.

The Pope “is a very spiritual man who knows how to look at everything through the eyes of faith,” Father Pettinaroli continued. “He is very dedicated and simple, he tries not to stand out and he stays quiet. He can spend hours in a meeting without participating in any way, just learning and watching what is happening.”

He recalled that the future Pope “was totally unknown” when he was named Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires, but that “in no time all the clergy came to love him.”

As bishop, he would always make time to meet with those who needed to see him, the priest said, noting that “he was very accessible to us.”

He also noted the Holy Father’s dedication to the needy, saying he would always devote special time to visit the poor areas of Buenos Aires.

Each year, he would also consecrate the entire city to the patroness of Argentina, Our Lady of Lujan.

Regarding media accusations that the Pope was complicit with Argentina’s dictatorship in the 1970s, Fr. Pettinaroli said the Holy Father is “irreproachable.” 

“They have always tried to pin that on his past, and there has never been any concrete proof of anything, it’s always been a lie,” he said.

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Two books by Pope Francis due to be published in Italian

Vatican City, Mar 25, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Two books written by Pope Francis while he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires will be available on March 26, according to the Vatican.

Both texts were written in Spanish in 2006. They are entitled “Humility, the road towards God,” and “Recovering from Corruption” – also called “Corruption and sin: some thoughts on corruption.”

Both draw upon Jesuit spirituality, offering solutions for the corruption of society based on the wisdom of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. Among the solutions offered by Pope Francis is the need for an ecclesial life characterized by fraternal charity.

“Corruption and Sin” examines corruption in Argentina and the world, finding its roots in the human heart. It distinguishes between corruption and sin in a novel way, according to the Vatican.

The Pope’s book on humility discusses a text by Saint Dorotheus of Gaza, a sixth century abbot, and is strongly spiritual.

The writings of Pope Francis are not yet widely available in English. Image Books, an imprint of Random House, is due to publish “On Heaven and Earth” in May. That work is a conversation between Pope Francis and the rabbi Abraham Skorka on various theological and worldly issues. It was first published in Spanish in 2010.

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Franciscan University undaunted after HHS suit dismissed

Steubenville, Ohio, Mar 25, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Although a judge has dismissed Franciscan University of Steubenville's lawsuit against the federal contraception mandate, the school says it will continue to fight for its religious liberty.

“We will not stop fighting this unjust mandate, this unjust attack on our first freedoms,” said
Michael Hernon, vice president of advancement at Franciscan University.

“As a university, we believe this goes right to the heart of who we are as a Catholic institution. We cannot and will not back down.”

Hernon told CNA March 25 the university finds it “repugnant” to follow new federal regulations requiring that its health care plan provide employees access to sterilization and contraception, including abortifacient drugs.

The regulations are “treating pregnancy as if it was a disease,” he said. Cooperating with them “would require us to say that a child is a disease,” he said. “That’s just wrong.”

U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley dismissed the case on March 22 on the grounds it lacked standing. He said the case was not “ripe” because the groups could not prove they would suffer harm in light of the Obama administration’s pledges to make accommodations for those with religious and moral objections.

Franciscan University and the Michigan Catholic Conference were parties to the suit. They were represented by the law firm Jones Day in their challenge to the federal rules.    

In May 2012, Franciscan University had dropped its student health care plan because it feared the mandate would force it to compromise its Catholic values. Judge Algenon said the university was “fleeing a phantom specter” spawned by its “unsubstantiated fears.” He said this was especially the case given the government’s promise it would not harm the plaintiffs.

He contended that it was a self-inflicted injury for the university to “prepare for an eventuality that always appeared unlikely to ever occur.”

In response, Hernon said he was “incredulous” at the judge’s argument in light of the Obama administration’s continued actions.

“This is not about some future specter. It is about the law as written today, what we are basing our lawsuit on,” he said. “They have promised they will make other, future changes, but every change they have made thus far has  not accommodated our religious liberty.”

He said Franciscan University believes that under the new rules its insurance company will be required to provide free of charge the objectionable services to all its employees. Hernon was skeptical of the Obama administration’s claims that the new rules would remedy earlier objections from those who did not want to cooperate with or pay for providing the coverage.

“It is nothing more than an accounting gimmick or a shell game to think that there is not going to be funding for those services coming from university employees and from us as an employer,” he said.

While the revised rule purports to expand the definition of religious employer, Hernon said it is “still debatable” whether Franciscan University qualifies. He said the Health and Human Services department said the language was not intended to increase the number of people exempted.

“They themselves are admitting that they only really want to exempt houses of worship,” he said.

The Department of Health and Human Services is accepting public comment until April 8 before it issues the next part of its decision. The one-year safe harbor provided to some religious organizations ends Aug. 1. The federal rules will apply to plans created after that date.

The rules will also “grandfather” in some insurance plans which allows for the plans to maintain their current provisions. Employers will not be penalized for lacking the mandated coverage – provided that they do not change their health plans significantly.

However, Franciscan University is concerned that its grandfathered status “ties our hands,” president Father Terence Henry, TOR, said March 22.

“Since many changes to our plan would cause it to lose grandfathered status, it denies both our employees and the university opportunities to save money and enact plan changes appropriate to our changing needs for coverage. In effect, this makes us second-class citizens because of our faith.”

Hernon said any health plan changes the university makes to respond to an expected rise in health care costs could remove what protections the grandfathered status has.

He also voiced concern about the university’s “many alumni and friends” who are “people of conscience” whose own businesses and organizations are threatened by the mandate. He said the mandate would force these people to violate their consciences and “pay for services that they deem morally or religiously objectionable.”

Fr. Henry said the school has the right and “the duty” to re-file its lawsuit at the appropriate time.

The Michigan Catholic Conference said the court simply delayed the lawsuit and did not rule on its merits. The conference said it could again bring similar legal claims against the administration once the promised mandate changes are made and said it would evaluate “all its options” in light of the court decision.

Hernon added that lawsuits against the HHS mandate in other jurisdictions have “strong promise” and he hoped that they will prevail.

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