Vatican City, Jun 17, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In a message to Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron, Pope Francis underscored that the “material and spiritual welfare” of every person must be the impetus behind political and economic efforts to remedy the economic crisis and help the poor.
The goal of both economics and politics, the Pope said in his June 15 letter, “is to serve humanity, beginning with the poorest and most vulnerable wherever they may be, even in their mothers’ wombs.”
Pope Francis wrote his reply to David Cameron after the British prime minister sent him a letter dated June 5, in which he outlined his priorities for the United Kingdom’s turn as president of the Group of Eight Industrialized Nations, which is meeting June 17-18 in Northern Ireland.
The prime minister told the Pope that he wants to help developing and developed nations by “restoring strong and sustainable growth to the world economy.” He plans to employ as tools: increasing international cooperation to prevent tax evasion, expanding free trade and improving governmental transparency.
The Holy Father responded to Cameron’s plan by writing, “(i)f this topic is to attain its broadest and deepest resonance, it is necessary to ensure that all political and economic activity, whether national or international, makes reference to man.”
“Every economic and political theory or action,” the Pope explained, “must set about providing each inhabitant of the planet with the minimum wherewithal to live in dignity and freedom, with the possibility of supporting a family, educating children, praising God and developing one's own human potential.”
“This is the main thing,” he stated, “in the absence of such a vision, all economic activity is meaningless.”
“Money and other political and economic means must serve, not rule, bearing in mind that, in a seemingly paradoxical way, free and disinterested solidarity is the key to the smooth functioning of the global economy,” Pope Francis wrote, repeating a theme that has frequently appeared in his daily homilies.
The G8 is holding its annual meeting in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland and one topic that will certainly be raised is the ongoing conflict in Syria.
On that score, the Pope said, “I earnestly hope that the Summit will help to obtain an immediate and lasting cease-fire and to bring all parties in the conflict to the negotiating table.”
He also observed that achieving peace “demands a far-sighted renunciation of certain claims, in order to build together a more equitable and just peace.”
Pope Francis told Prime Minister Cameron that he is pleased to see that Britain is working to place man at the center of its priorities by listing among its goals improving food security and protecting women and children from sexual violence during conflict.
Rome, Italy, Jun 17, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The temporary selection of a prelate for the so-called Vatican Bank shows Pope Francis is waiting for the advice of the cardinals he tapped as advisors before deciding the fate of the financial institute, according to a source in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State.
The appointment of the prelate “must not be charged too much with expectations of a reform. The Pope needed to fill a post and wanted to give a signal that he really cares about the IOR issue, but he also showed the sensibility to make an ‘ad interim’ appointment, presumably waiting for the cardinals’ suggestions,” the anonymous State Secretariat source said June 15.
Monsignor Battista Ricca was appointed as prelate for the Institute for Works of Religion, also known by its Italian initials IOR, on June 15.
The prelate serves as a liaison between the cardinals’ oversight commission – composed of five cardinals and traditionally presided over by the Secretary of State – and the council of superintendents, which is made up of five laymen who are bankers or financial experts.
The institute is headquartered inside Vatican City and is entrusted with safeguarding and administering property or funds that are designated by clients to benefit religious works or charities.
The commission of cardinals typically chooses the candidate for the prelate position without the Pope’s formal approval.
But Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office took the unusual step of saying in his June 15 announcement that the appointment was made with the “approval of the Holy Father.”
According to the prominent Italian Vatican expert Sandro Magister, this would mean “it is a prelate of the Pope, more than of the IOR.”
Actually, the prelate post remained vacant since 2010, when the previous prelate, then-Monsignor Piero Pioppo, was appointed papal nuncio to Cameroon and Guinea.
The secretary of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Msgr. Pioppo, received his appointment as prelate for the institute while his boss chaired its oversight commission. At that time, it had already been announced that Cardinal Sodano would leave the post in a few months and be replaced by Cardinal Bertone, the current Secretary of State.
By appointing his secretary, “Sodano kept the institute under his shadow,” said Gianfranco Svidercoschi, the former vice director of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, in a June 17 conversation with CNA.
Before Msgr. Pioppo’s appointment in 2006, the post of prelate was vacant since 1993, when Monsignor Donato de Bonis was made a bishop and no replacement was named.
A monsignor who works in the Vatican’s Curia and requested anonymity explained June 15 that Pope Francis decided to make sure the prelate post was filled to “show his resolution to solve the case” and because “too many rumors had been circulating” about the Institute for Works of Religion.
The new prelate, Msgr. Battista Ricca, is a Vatican diplomat who works in the Second Section of the Secretariat of State and also manages a set of religious houses, including St. Martha’s House, where Pope Francis has decided to live.
Msgr. Ricca and Pope Francis are also friends and reportedly have lunch together every day, making it significant that the Holy Father moved ahead with the appointment, disregarding any chatter about him promoting his friends.
In Svidercoschi’s view, “this proves his will to govern without any external or internal interference.”
Given that the appointment of Msgr. Ricca is temporary, the next moment for assessing Pope Francis’ plan for reforming the Curia will likely be the Oct. 2-4 meeting of the eight cardinals who will advise the pontiff.
They will probably also counsel the Pope on reforming the Institute for Works of Religion, but whether or not this will lead to a complete overhaul remains to be seen.
According to Sandro Magister, that the appointment is “ad interim” proves that “a big reform for the IOR is coming up or at least will be discussed.”
But an even bigger signal that financial reform will continue at the Vatican has already been sent.
This past April 10, the Vatican said it will report on its progress in responding to the Key and Core areas of recommended changes that the European Council’s financial oversight committee, Moneyval, said it should make. The committee had asked only for an update on the core areas.
The recommendations were the result of a voluntary evaluation that Moneyval carried out to help the Vatican comply with international standards on preventing money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
In a June 17 follow-up interview, the same Secretariat of State source said, this fact alone “lets us presume that the whole Vatican financial system will be reformed.”
If that reading is correct, the cardinals “might suggest to reform, change or even to abolish the IOR,” the source added, but the financial institute will always have to fulfill the requirements of the Vatican’s oversight financial system.
Vatican City, Jun 17, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Jesus makes it possible for Christians to “turn the other cheek” because they have received “all” from him, making slights, insults and even good things “nothing,” Pope Francis said.
He delivered his comments in his June 17 homily on Matthew 5:38-42, where Jesus tells his disciples, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil. When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.”
Pope Francis said that Christians should pray that, “when we are confronted with the choice of the slap, the coat, the 100 kilometers, we must pray the Lord to ‘open up our heart’ so that ‘we are benevolent and meek.’ We must pray so that we do not fight for small things, for the ‘nothings’ of daily life.”
“A true Christian,” he remarked, “knows how to solve this bi-polar opposition, this tension that exists between ‘all’ and ‘nothing,’ just as Jesus has taught us: ‘First search for God’s Kingdom and its justice, the rest comes afterwards.’”
The Pope then reflected on the kind of righteousness that Jesus brings, which is “totally different from ‘eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’”
Jesus’ justice is explained by St. Paul, the Holy Father said, pointing to his description of Christians as “people who have nothing in themselves but possess all things in Christ.”
“So, Christian security is exactly this ‘all’ that is in Christ. ‘All’ is Jesus Christ. Other things are ‘nothing’ for a Christian,” he added.“This is the secret of Christian benevolence that always goes together with meekness,” Pope Francis emphasized.
“A Christian is a person who opens up his or her heart with this spirit of benevolence, because he or she has ‘all’: Jesus Christ. The other things are ‘nothing.’
“Some are good, they have a purpose, but in the moment of choice he or she always chooses ‘all,’ with that meekness, that Christian meekness that is the sign of Jesus’ disciples: meekness and benevolence,” the Pope said.
He also pointed out that living “like this is not easy, because you really do receive slaps! And on both cheeks!”
The Holy Father also commented on times when Christians and the Church make errors, saying, “all our errors stem from when we say ‘nothing’ is ‘all,’ and to ‘all’ we say it does not count.”
Pope Francis even linked this mentality and disposition to war.
“When one takes on an option for ‘nothing,’ it is from that option that conflicts arise in families, in friendships, between friends, in society. Conflicts that end in war: for ‘nothing!’ ‘Nothing’ is always the seed of wars, because it is the seed of selfishness,” he said.
“Following Jesus is not easy,” the Pope concluded, “but it’s not difficult either, because on the path of love the Lord does things in such a way that we can go forward; it is the Lord himself who opens up our heart.”
Cardinal Attilio Nicora concelebrated the Mass with the Pope in St. Martha’s House and was accompanied by people from the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority. Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila, who is in Rome to take possession of his titular parish, was also present at the celebration.
Washington D.C., Jun 17, 2013 (CNA) - A new website launched by the U.S. bishops’ communication department and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is striving to provide internet safety advice for families.
The site, www.faithandsafety.org, aims to be a resource for parents wanting to help their children navigate the internet, mobile devices and other technologies safely and within a “faith framework.”
Along with its associated Facebook and Twitter accounts, the website offers resources aimed at both internet safety and growing in faith.
“Our children look to their parents for wisdom and guidance,” said Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Church in America. “However, many parents feel somewhat ill-equipped to help their children traverse the unfamiliar terrain of the digital social world.”
“This joint initiative between our two Churches is a positive step in helping parents equip their children in the digital world,” he explained.
Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, who chairs the U.S. bishops’ communications committee, wrote the first blog post for website, which launched June 13, in the middle of Internet Safety Month.
“We want to meet families and young people where they are – increasingly, that is in the digital world. We believe this website can be a gateway for families that are seeking to integrate their digital lives and their faith lives,” he wrote.
Features on the site include reviews for websites and mobile apps, as well as columns addressing issues such as cyberbullying and practical how-to guides for internet security. In the coming months, content will be expanded to include greater video content and regular columns by Catholic and Orthodox leaders on faith and technology.
Faithandsafety.org will also include content from Common Sense Media, an independent nonprofit organization that works to help families and children navigate modern media and technology.
The site emphasizes that its purpose is not to teach parents how to “spy” on their children’s online activity, but rather to “promote healthy dialogue within your family on how to use technology appropriately.”
“We believe that this site, presented from the perspective of the Greek Orthodox and Catholic Church, provides a unique perspective on being missionaries of faith on the Digital Continent,” Bishop Wester said.
Quebec City, Canada, Jun 17, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A Quebec bill to allow lethal drug prescriptions for patients in pain would give doctors “the power to kill” and further lessen the value society places on the ill and dying, a Canadian pro-life group said.
“We must not give anyone – especially not our doctors – the power to kill. We must keep our hospitals safe and protect the weakest and the most vulnerable among us. It is a matter of public safety, of dignity, of true compassion and solidarity,” the Catholic Organization for Life and Family said in a statement.
Social Services Minister Veronique Hivon introduced the Quebec government’s medically assisted suicide bill on June 12.
The bill would allow a doctor to administer fatal drugs to a mentally sound patient who repeatedly gives written consent, CBC News reports. Two physicians would have to approve a suicide request.
Patients who qualify for euthanasia would not need to accept all available treatments. Rather, they would qualify if they experience “constant and unbearable physical or psychological pain which cannot be relieved in a manner the person deems tolerable.”
Canada’s federal government has said it will review the proposed bill’s implications, as assisted suicide and euthanasia are illegal under the national criminal code.
“The laws that prohibit euthanasia and assisted suicide exist to protect all Canadians, including those who are potentially the most vulnerable, such as people who are sick or elderly, and people with disabilities,” Canadian Justice Minister and Attorney General Rob Nicholson said June 12.
He noted that a large majority of the Canadian parliament voted against changing the national laws.
Hivon said she believed society was ready for the bill, which she described as allowing people at the end of life “to die with autonomy and dignity.”
However, the Catholic Organization for Life and Family, which was co-founded by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Knights of Columbus, warned that justifications for the bill serve as camouflage for euthanasia.
“It is all very well to play with words, but the fact remains that killing is not caring,” the group said. “Let us put an end to confusing the terminology.”
The organization said palliative care is “the only human response” to suffering at the end of life. It urged Quebec to “preserve the mutual trust that is the foundation for genuine relationships between us.”
The group also pointed to worrying precedents in other nations.
“In countries that have legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide – despite the safeguards and restrictions that have been put in place – we’ve seen increased depreciation for human life,” the organization said. “In the name of budgetary efficiency, particularly vulnerable people have been encouraged to ask for euthanasia or to commit suicide.”
“This danger is real and is likely to increase with the aging of our population, the rise in demand for health care services and the related costs.”
The Catholic Organization for Life and Family noted that following the legalization of euthanasia in Belgium in 2002, cases in the country rose from 235 in 2003 to 1,133 in 2011. Strict adherence to promised standards is lacking, it said, while Belgian euthanasia lobbyists are now seeking legal euthanasia for children and those with dementia.
The organization reminded Christians of the biblical injunctions against murder, citing the biblical commandment “You shall not kill,” and God’s words in Genesis, “I will require a reckoning for human life.”
At the same time, it explained, Christians should oppose “overly aggressive treatment and the maintenance of life at all costs.”
Denying or ending “extraordinary treatments” are not euthanasia, the group said.
Washington D.C., Jun 17, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The U.S. bishops’ point man on pro-life issues is calling on federal legislators to support a bill that would ban late-term abortions after unborn children are able to feel pain.
“(O)ur citizens were deeply shaken by the revelations of Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s actions that led to his being convicted of murder and other crimes committed in the course of providing abortions,” Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston said in a June 14 letter to U.S. representatives.
“This tragic circumstance led many Americans to realize that our permissive laws and attitudes have allowed the abortion industry to undertake these procedures. All decent and humane people are repulsed by the callous and barbarous treatment of women and children in Gosnell’s clinic, and in other clinics that abort children after 20 weeks.”
Gosnell, an abortionist in Philadelphia, drew media attention when he was recently convicted of murdering several babies who survived his abortions. The trial unveiled a filthy clinic with numerous health code violations and poor treatment of women.
The trial prompted a renewed push among pro-life activists to fight against late-term abortions, which are performed on unborn children the same age as the babies murdered by Gosnell.
Speaking as chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities, Cardinal O’Malley urged the passage of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
The legislation would ban abortions 20 weeks into a pregnancy or later on the ground that unborn children are capable of feeling pain by this point.
The legislation will be heard on the House floor this week after the House Judiciary Committee approved it by a 20-12 vote.
Cardinal O’Malley said eyewitnesses of the children killed at Gosnell’s clinic saw them born alive and “crying or screaming in pain, until their lives were intentionally and deliberately ended.”
He said late-term abortions also pose “serious dangers” to women, several of whom have died or suffered serious complications from the procedures.
The cardinal also countered arguments that “mainstream” abortion clinics should handle the procedures instead.
“This misses the point,” he said. “Many women were sent to Gosnell by those very clinics, because they wanted nothing to do with abortions performed at such a late stage in the child’s development. What does it say about us as a nation, if we will not act against abortions that even full-time abortionists find abhorrent?”
Cardinal O’Malley explained that Catholic teaching recognizes that “every child, at every moment of existence, deserves love and the protection of the law.”
“We do not believe any person or government has the right to take the life of an innocent human being – and we hold that the real problems that lead women to consider abortion should be addressed with solutions that support both mother and child,” he said.
The bill’s author, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), discussed the bill in a June 13 statement.
“Knowingly subjecting our innocent unborn children to dismemberment in the womb, particularly when they have developed to the point that they can feel excruciating pain every terrible moment leading up to their undeserved deaths, belies everything America was called to be,” he said. “This is not who we are.”
U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 1973 struck down most states’ abortion laws nationwide. Legislation must be carefully tailored to pass the high court’s permissive standards, and it is unclear how the court would react to the proposed bill.
A similar measure applying only to the District of Columbia failed to pass the House last year, the Washington Post reports.
Supporters of the bill are seeking to rally support on social media sites like Twitter using the hashtag “#theyfeelpain.”