Archive of October 21, 2013

Attachment to money is a sickness, Pope Francis says

Vatican City, Oct 21, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - During his daily mass homily Pope Francis warned those in attendance against the idolatry present in greedy hearts, stressing that the Lord gives us our gifts for the betterment of the world.

“This greed makes you sick, because it makes you think of everything in terms of money. It destroys you,” the Pope told those gathered in the chapel of the Vatican's Saint Martha guesthouse Oct. 21.

In his reflections, the pontiff centered on the Gospel passage in which a man approaches Jesus asking him to help resolve a dispute with his brother surrounding their inheritance, stressing that the story illustrates the problems we face in our relationship with money.

“This is a day-to-day problem. How many families have we seen destroyed by the problem of money? Brother against brother, father against son.”

“This,” he urged, “is the first result that this attitude of being attached to money does: it destroys! When a person is attached to money, he destroys himself, he destroys the family. It binds you.”

Highlighting the good qualities money can have, the pontiff stressed that it brings about many necessary things and contributes greatly to “human development,” however, “when your heart is attached in this way, it destroys you.”

Turning towards the parable which Jesus tells in the Gospel of the rich man who stores up treasures for himself, “but is not rich in what matters to God,” Pope Francis noted that Jesus’ warning is to guard against any form of greed.

“That’s what does harm: greed in my relationship with money,” he urged, “it leads you to idolatry, it destroys your relationship with others.”

“It destroys you, it makes you sick.”

Pope Francis stressed that the most important thing to remember is that greed is a tool of idolatry “because it goes along a way contrary to what God has done for us.”

Referring to the words of Saint Paul in his letters when tells us that Jesus, who was rich, became poor in order to enrich us, the pontiff urged that the path of God is “humility, to lower oneself in order to serve.”

“Greed, on the other hand, takes us on a contrary path: You, who are a poor human, make yourself God for vanity's sake. It is idolatry!”

This is why Jesus warns us so frequently against the attachment to money, the Pope said, adding that we cannot “serve two masters,” and that we should not worry because “God knows what we need.”

Jesus, noted the pontiff, invites us to a “trusting abandonment to the Father,” rather than placing our trust in something which is “contrary to the path of God.”

“The Lord teaches us the path: not the path of poverty for poverty's sake. No! It is the way of poverty as an instrument, so that God may be God, so that He will be the only Lord!”

“All the goods that we have, the Lord gives them to us to advance the world,” stressed the Pope, “to advance humanity, to help, to help others.”

“Today may the Word of the Lord remain in our hearts: 'Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.'”

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New US ambassador to Vatican takes the helm in Rome

Rome, Italy, Oct 21, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The recently appointed American ambassador to the Holy See presented his credentials to Pope Francis in a meeting earlier this morning, officially marking the beginning of his duties.

“The Vatican and the Holy Father have the ability to influence world events in a positive way through the calling of faith and they will continue to be important partners in future collaboration,” U.S. ambassador Kenneth F. Hackett stated in an Oct. 21 press release announcing the event.

Hackett was nominated in June by President Barack Obama to serve as the 10th ambassador to the Vatican, and was unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate in an Aug. 1 evening session.

He will be taking over for Miguel H. Diaz, who left the diplomatic post in Nov. 2012 to become the Professor of Faith and Culture at the University of Dayton, in Ohio.

Speaking of his new position, Hackett noted that “President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry have both highlighted the need to engage with religious leaders and the faith community in the policy process to address critical global issues,” noting that Pope Francis will be a close collaborator in the decisions made.

Hackett brings to his position extensive experience in relief work, having served with the Peace Corps in Ghana from 1968 until 1971, afterwards dedicating 40 years to working with Catholic Relief Services, spending 18 of those years as the organization’s president and CEO.

Referencing his duties within the company, Hackett stressed that “In my time at CRS, I had the personal joy of being involved in efforts to alleviate some of the conditions Pope Francis talks about – poverty, refugees, migration.”

The Pope's approach and emphasis of the issues of “poverty and injustice,” as well as “many social issues,” is already an area where he sees a lot synergy, the ambassador urged in an Aug. 2 interview with The Catholic Review upon the approval of his nomination.

“I believe there is much we can continue to do together to work further towards promoting human dignity.”

In a July 30 Senate Foreign Relations hearing, Hackett also listed the fighting of human trafficking and environmental advocacy among other shared interests.

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Vatican finance reform shows different opinions about process

Vatican City, Oct 21, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - As Vatican City commits to financial transparency, the hiring of a risk-management company to review the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See may reveal differing opinions about financial reform.

The Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See – APSA – is the office that handles the Vatican’s investment portfolio and its real estate holdings, as well as serving as the Vatican employment office and procurements agency.

APSA announced Oct. 15 that a “due diligence” review by the Promontory Financial Group had begun. Promontory had already been hired to review all the accounts and the procedures of the Institute for Religious Works, the so-called 'Vatican bank'.

Due diligence is the “evaluation of risks” in investments and loans, particularly with regards to the clients in a bank.

However, APSA is not a bank. The Holy See told evaluators from Moneyval, the European Council committee that evaluates adherence to anti-money laundering standards, that while APSA holds some accounts, such banking-type activity is minimal and will be closed.

In a July report on Vatican City, Moneyval wrote that “the APSA representatives stated that in 2001 the Board of Cardinals took the decision to gradually limit the provision of financial services to individual persons (both clerical and lay) that are not organs or bodies of the Holy See/Vatican City State.”

“Finally,” the report continued, “on 27 January 2006, the Board of Cardinals decided to start the process of closing all remaining accounts with those persons as far as possible (copies of the minutes recording these decisions were shown to the evaluation team).”

According to Moneyval's report, the representatives of APSA also “stressed that since 2001 no deposits have been accepted for the remaining 23 accounts of natural persons. APSA only managed the assets deposited within those accounts and only the yields of the assets managed were reinvested.”

The 23 accounts belong to 15 cardinals and bishops who deposited charitable contributions made on their behalf, with the proceeds going to the Vatican or their home dioceses; and eight laypeople who made large donations, particularly of property, to the Vatican, and were receiving annuities until their deaths.

A source who wanted to maintain anonymity shared with CNA Oct. 18 that “starting this kind of due diligence procedures could create a split between decisions on APSA and the Vatican overall strategy to adhere to international anti-money laundering standards.”

The Holy See is due to issue a progress report on its adherence to anti-money laundering standards at the next Moneyval plenary assembly, to be held Dec. 9-13.

The APSA-related policy could in some ways influence the Moneyval evaluation because “while the Holy See explained that the Administration is not a bank and has not a bank's activity, it started due diligence, which can easily be referred to a banking activity,” according to the source.

But if there is not banking activity, the source asked, “will due diligence be applied to the functioning of the dicastery? And will this be a precedent to apply due diligence to each Vatican office?”

Another question the source raised the question of whether “it is proper to exalt the role of external companies, like Promontory Financial Group, in addition to backing the overall reform of the Vatican financial system begun under the Benedict XVI’s pontificate?”

The source's words seem to reveal a variety of views within the Vatican walls regarding the carrying out of the reform of Vatican finances.

APSA also announced Oct. 15 that in response to recommendations made by the Council of Cardinals for the Study of the Organizational and Economic Problems of the Holy See, it was creating a supervisory board, but did not say what the responsibilities or power of the board would be.

Another source familiar with Vatican finances told CNA Oct. 20 that “there is seemingly an idea to apply to the Holy See, rules and procedures that are usually applied to big international companies.”

This strategy, he said, “does not take in consideration the peculiarity of the Vatican City State, which had been until now building a customized financial model, adherent to international standards and at the same times shaped in order to preserve the sovereignty of Vatican City State.”

Despite what is often reported, Vatican City State has no banks and no financial market.

The new model of financial system was further shaped by an Aug. 8 motu proprio which established a Committee for Financial Security, and by the Oct. 9 confirmation of  Law XVIII, which implemented the Holy See's anti-money laundering measures.

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EWTN executives Michael Warsaw, Doug Keck, promoted

Irondale, Ala., Oct 21, 2013 (CNA) - On Oct. 18, EWTN's board of governors promoted its network president, Michael Warsaw, to chairman of the board, and its executive vice president, Doug Keck, to the post of president.

Warsaw remains chief executive officer of EWTN Global Catholic Network, and Keck remains chief operating officer.

"We have assembled a great team of faith-filled, media savy professionals who are dedicated to carrying on the mission of Mother Angelica: to saturate the world with the love of Christ and his Church," Keck told CNA Oct. 21.

Warsaw stated that “I am extremely grateful to the EWTN Board for their confidence in appointing me to this added post.”

“It is an honor for me to succeed both Mother Angelica and the late-Deacon Bill Steltemeier who both served in the role of Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer during their years at EWTN. I look forward to continuing to guide this important mission in the years ahead.”

Warsaw has worked for EWTN since 1991, and had been named president in 2000, and CEO in 2009. He also serves as publisher of the National Catholic Register since the paper's acquisition by EWTN in 2011.

Keck, who joined EWTN in 1996, stated that “I feel blessed to be named the President of a network that positively impacts so many people’s lives around the world.”

He has worked for more than 35 years in media, and has overseen EWTN's television, radio, and internet programming and production, as well as hosting the program “Bookmark.” He had been appointed COO in 2009.

EWTN was founded in 1981 by Mother Angelica, of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration.

The network is now available in over 150 million television households in more than 140 countries and territories. In its mission it uses direct broadcast satellite television and radio services, AM and FM radio networks, worldwide short-wave radio, a website, and a publishing arm.

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All human life is 'very good' in God's eyes, cardinal says

Washington D.C., Oct 21, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - God “sees a reflection of himself” in all persons, Washington Archbishop Cardinal Donald Wuerl preached to members of the disabled and deaf communities, as well as those facing mental health challenges.

“Just as all of us are created by God as we are, and all of us have a place at the table of the Lord through baptism, so those with special needs bring their own particular gifts to the Church and to our celebration today,” Cardinal Wuerl said during the homily of the Oct. 20 Mass honoring the gifts granted to those with special needs in the Archdiocese of Washington.

All persons, he added, “lay claim to his love in that divine Spirit within us that we received in baptism and that manifests itself in so many diverse, challenging, and yet real, ways.”

The fourth annual Washington D.C. White Mass, named for the white garments attendees were encouraged to wear as a reminder of their baptism, was said at the city's Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle.

The Mass brings together persons with special needs,  including family members and ministry staff, as well as leaders from various special needs communities, and was translated into American Sign Language. Those at the Mass renewed their baptismal promises after the homily.

“Each and every one of us, created by God, is a unique reflection of his infinite magnificence, his majesty in glory,” Cardinal Wuerl explained, adding that all of creation reflects God “in its own individual way.”

“In all our diversity we are wondrously made, and God rejoices in his creation” the cardinal continued, noting that God has found “everything, and every one, that he has created,” to be “very good,” and we should recognize God’s view of his creations.

To demonstrate his point, Cardinal Wuerl compared God’s creation to a mosaic containing “thousands and thousands of pieces of colored glass.” Each piece  “has a color, a shape, a design, a texture all of its own.”

“No two pieces are alike. And so it is with us, and God’s creative plan.”

Not only is man made in God’s image, but God has “became one of us” in order to adopt us into his family through Christ and baptism in him, the cardinal said.

“Each one of us now has a position at the table of the Lord.”

While those with special needs are equal in dignity, they have special gifts which with to bless the Church, the Cardinal said.

“Each of us is in need of the other, and each of us is enriched by the others, and we depend upon and are complemented by others.”

The cardinal continued, adding “that in their own way, that those that have various mental and physical challenges, are enriched by the kindness of other people, that they in return, give to all of us the ability to see in them the face of God.”

Each person, with special needs or without, represents one of “many many manifestations of God’s love,” and is “called to give witness to the love of Jesus in this world,” Cardinal Wuerl said.

“If we’re not able to use words, we can smile for Jesus, if we cannot use our legs we can hold each others’ hands, if we speak to the world in American Sign Language, we can tell our friends that they too are invited to celebrate the joy of the family of God.”

“Our celebration today here is a simple one with a very very simple message,” Cardinal Wuerl said, concluding his homily.

“God looked on everything that he made, God looked on every one of us in this cathedral church, and he smiled, and he found that it was all very good.”

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