Archive of February 24, 2014

Cardinal Ouedraogo, the advocate of Burkina Faso’s poor

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, Feb 24, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Philippe Ouedraogo, the newly-created cardinal from west Africa’s Burkina Faso, is known for his backing for the inclusion of the poorest of the poor in the distribution of economic goods.

Cardinal Ouedraogo was born in Konean in 1945, and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Kaya in 1973. He later obtained a doctorate in canon law, serving in parishes and as a seminary rector.

He was consecrated Bishop of Ouahigouya, in Burkina Faso’s north, in 1996. Northern Burkina Faso has a concentration of the nation’s Muslims, and the diocese is home to two monasteries, one of them that of Jesus the Saviour, which follows the spirituality of Bl. Charles de Foucauld – whom Cardinal Ouedraogo greatly admires.

He was appointed Bishop of Ouagadougou, the Burkinabe capital, in 2009.

Cardinal Ouedraogo, 69, is known for having been critical of the national government. The current president, Blaise Compaore, came to power in 1987 through a coup in which his predecessor was killed.

Burkina Faso is extremely poor: its adjusted per capita GDP is $1,400, and average life expectancy is around 50 years.

Cardinal Ouedraogo lamented in his Christmas homily that “a handful of citizens … hold the great part” of Burkina Faso’s wealth, highlighting injustice, inequality, and poverty in the country.

In the summer 2013, Cardinal Ouedraogo published a letter that strongly condemned the “crisis in values” leading to the spread of poverty and corruption in Burkina Faso.

When president Compaore established a senate in 1995, the Burkinabe bishops were emphatic in their opposition, writing that “in such a climate of extreme poverty, in which the needs of basic necessities (health, education, employment, housing, food) are not sufficiently assured and an increasing number of young people have an uncertain future, one can only legitimately question on the opportunity of the creation of a Senate.”

Before 1995, the Burkinabe legislature had only one chamber; once a bishop, Cardinal Ouedraogo turned down a seat in the senate “in the name of the poor,” according to La Stampa. The nation’s senate was eventually dissolved, in 2002.

Cardinal Ouedraogo was one of 19 men added to the college of cardinals in the Feb. 22 consistory. He was one of two Africans, alongside Archbishop Jean-Pierre Kutwa of Abidjan, in Ivory Coast.

He is the second cardinal from Burkina Faso, following Cardinal Paul Zoungrana, who was Archbishop of Ouagadougou from 1960 to 1995, and who died in 2000.

back to top

Cardinal Pell to head new Vatican office for economic oversight

Vatican City, Feb 24, 2014 (CNA) - Today Pope Francis announced the establishment of a new entity for oversight of Vatican economic and administrative affairs, headed by Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia.

According to Feb. 24 statement issued by the Holy See’s press office, the new Secretariat for the Economy “will have authority over all economic and administrative activities within the Holy See and the Vatican City State.”

Cardinal Pell has been appointed Prefect of the new Secretariat. His role includes the implementation of policies decided upon by a new 15-member Council for the Economy, made up of 8 Cardinals or Bishops “reflecting different parts of the world” and 7 “lay experts of different nationalities with strong professional financial experience.”

No appointments have been made yet besides that of Cardinal Pell. According to the Holy See Press Office, the Council for the Economy will replace the now obsolete “Council of 15,” composed only of cardinals.

The Australian prelate was made a Cardinal by John Paul in 2003. Since 2007, he has been on the committee of 15 Cardinals overseeing Vatican financial affairs. In 2013, Pope Francis chose Cardinal Pell to become part of the Council of 8 Cardinals tasked with examining the governing structures of the Church and considering reforms of the Curia.

The two groups of Cardinals met last week to consider the recommendations of the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See, (COSEA) charged with reviewing the Vatican’s administrative procedures.

Pope Francis’ creation of a new Secretariat for the Economy, issued formally in today’s motu proprio, “Fidelis et Dispensator Prudens,” comes as a response to the Cardinals’ endorsement of COSEA’s recommendations.

The Holy Father will also appoint an Auditor-General, yet to be named, who will have the capacity to audit any Vatican agency at any time.

Under Cardinal Pell’s leadership, the new Secretariat will “enable more formal involvement of senior and experienced experts in financial administration, planning and reporting and will ensure better use of resources, improving the support available for various programs, particularly our works with the poor and marginalized,” the press release indicated.

Cardinal Pell began serving in the Curia in 1990 when he was appointed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Since that time he has also worked at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the advisory committee of Bishops for the new translation of the Roman Missal.

As a leading figure in the Australian Catholic Church, the Cardinal served in various positions with Caritas Australia, the Australian Catholic University, and the University of Notre Dame Australia, among other institutions. He also established the Sydney Catholic business network and was a government appointee to the Australian Constitutional Convention, recommending Australia become a republic.

back to top

Jesus is not a 'magician,' says Pope

Vatican City, Feb 24, 2014 (CNA) - Pope Francis’ Monday morning homily reflected on Jesus’ miracles of healing, which always include a lasting encounter with the person who is healed.

“These acts of Jesus make us think. When He heals, when He goes among the crowds and heals a person, He never leaves that person alone. He is not a magician, a wizard, a healer, who goes and cures and continues on his way,” explained the Pope on Feb. 24 to the congregation of the chapel of the Santa Marta residence.

Instead, Jesus helps everyone “to return to his proper place – He leaves no one on the side of the road.”

“These acts of Jesus are very beautiful, indeed,” added Pope Francis.

The Holy Father went on to consider other Gospel passages that contain a similar message, like the parable of the lost sheep, or the raising of the widow’s son from the dead. Jesus “always makes sure we get safely home. He never leaves us alone along the way,” encouraged the Pontiff.

Jesus’ unwillingness to leave anyone alone points to the importance of a Christian belonging to the wider community of the Church, explained Pope Francis.

“These gestures of Jesus teach us that every healing, every (act of) pardon, always helps us return to our People, which is the Church."

Thus, it is “an absurdity to love Christ without the Church, to feel Christ but not the Church, to follow Christ from the margins of the Church,” because “Christ and the Church are united.”

Christ himself displays this unity in his Incarnation, noted the Pope. “Jesus did not only come from Heaven. He is the Son of a People. Jesus is the promise made to that People, which, beginning with Abraham, made its way toward the promise.

The healing miracles of Jesus us “make us think,” said Pope Francis. They may seem “revolutionary” or “inexplicable” when they extend to people who seem beyond help, but the gestures of Christ always lead people “home.”

Today’s gospel recounts how Jesus disciples have failed to heal a boy possessed by a demon. The crowd is noisy and excited, “but all the chaos, all the discussion, ends in a gesture: Jesus lowers himself (and) takes up the boy.”

These types of “gestures of so much tenderness make us realize this: that our doctrine, let us say, or our following Christ, is not an idea. It is a constant abiding at home – and although each of us has the opportunity and the real experience of leaving home for a sin, a mistake - God knows - salvation (means) going home with Jesus in the Church.”

“One by one, the Lord is calling us as well, to His people, into His family, our mother, the Holy Church. Let us think on these acts of Jesus,” Pope Francis concluded.

back to top

Seminarians recount joy of serving papal Mass for new cardinals

Vatican City, Feb 24, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Two young men from England studying for the priesthood in Rome consider themselves blessed to have served at Sunday’s papal Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Recalling his experience, seminarian David Irwin of the Diocese of Shrewsbury, England, said it was “a huge privilege being able to serve Mass with the Holy Father.”

“I think particularly as well, as it being the Mass with our new cardinal in England, his eminence Cardinal Nichols, it was just a huge privilege for our college to be able to be so close to the Holy Father,” Irwin told CNA on Feb. 24.

The Venerable English College in Rome is home to 38 seminarians from various parts of England and Wales, 15 of whom served at the Feb. 23 Mass of Thanksgiving for the creation of new cardinals.

“It was a wonderful day,” recounted seminarian John Waters of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, England. “I was the Pope’s miter bearer, which as an incredible honor for me to be so close to the Holy Father through most of Mass. I think I was never more than 6 or 7 feet away from him.”

“To be that close, particularly as you process up to the high altar and to see the effect that the Holy Father has on the faithful and just to be surrounded by that atmosphere of holiness was absolutely fantastic,” Waters recalled.

Both young men were able to meet Pope Francis before the Mass began.

“He came into the sacristy, where we were vesting, we all formed a sort of horseshoe shape and he came around and greeted each one of us individually,” explained Waters.

Despite the fact that “he had a lot of us to get through,” Waters noted, “there was no sense of being rushed. He was very keen to meet everyone. He looked you right into the eye, (and) he gripped your hand ever so tight...He looks right at you and he takes such an interest in you...oh, what an honor!”

“I will treasure that memory forever,” he added.

Irwin, who assisted Pope Francis with the hand-washing before consecration, said that he will carry this experience with him “during the rest of my seminary journey and God willing into my priesthood. It is just wonderful being so close to (the successor of) Peter and having that link with the universal Church.”

Waters felt the same. “Certainly in the future if I get to parish life and things get a little tough, I’ll look back on this day with incredibly fond memories,” he reflected.

back to top

Vatican theologians recognize miracle attributed to Paul VI

Vatican City, Feb 24, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - The consulting theologians of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints have approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Venerable Pope Paul VI, moving him closer to sainthood.

Vatican Insider’s Andrea Tornielli reported Feb. 21 that earlier that week, the congregation’s theological experts had unanimously recognized the healing of an unborn child through the intercession of the late Roman Pontiff.

In the mid-1990s in California, the then-unborn child was found to have a serious problem with a high risk of brain damage. Physicians advised that the child be aborted, but the mother entrusted her pregnancy to Paul VI.

The child was born without problems, and now that he is an adolescent and remains healthy, he is regarded as having been completely healed.

The healing had already been announced as medically inexplicable by the medical commission of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

A miracle must be approved by both the members of the congregation and Pope Francis in order for Pope Paul VI to be beatified – the last step in the canonization process prior to being named a saint.

Paul VI’s canonization cause was opened in 1993, and in December 2012, then-Pope Benedict XVI signed a decree recognizing his predecessor’s “heroic virtue,” bestowing on him the title “Venerable.” This title means the individual has practiced outstanding faith, hope, and charity, as well as extraordinary virtuous actions with readiness over a period of time.

Paul VI was born Giovanni Montini in 1897, and was ordained a priest at the unusually young age of 22. He served as Archbishop of Milan before he was elected Pope in 1963.

As Pope, he oversaw much of the Second Vatican Council, which had been opened by Bl. John XXIII, and he promulgated a new Roman Missal in 1969. The year before, he published an apostolic constitution reforming the Roman Curia.

He published the encyclical “Humanae vitae” in 1968, which reaffirmed the Church’s teaching against contraception, as well as firm affirmation of the merits of priestly celibacy.

back to top

Ethicists warn against three-parent reproductive technology

Washington D.C., Feb 24, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) - Concerned about the effects of a new technology that involves three parents providing genetic information to create a child, experts are cautioning against opening up the technology to human clinical trials.

"The desire to help women suffering from mitochondrial disorders or infertility is admirable and worthy," wrote Robert George, McCormick professor of jurisprudence at Princeton, and Dr. Donald Landry, chair of the Department of Medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital in a Feb. 18 letter to the Food and Drug Administration.

"However, the needs of the children being created through novel technologies also must be taken into account,” they warned.

The technology, referred to by the FDA as  "oocyte modification in assisted reproduction,” was developed to avoid mitochondrial disorders, and ultimately means that the child created by the process will inherit genetic information from three parents.

In oocyte modification, the DNA from a mother – who has a defect in her mitochondrial DNA -- and a father is inserted into an egg from a second woman, who has healthy mitochondrial DNA.

The letters to the FDA were sent in advance of hearings  to be held by the department Feb. 25 and 26 over the possibility that this technology would be expanded to  human clinical trials

In a Feb. 18 letter, the  Center for Genetics and Society said that human trials of the procedure "should not be permitted because of the profound safety, efficacy, policy and social problems they would pose."

"We question the ethics of bringing children into existence by experimental techniques that have had developmentally poor outcomes in studies using both animal and human" eggs, the organization continued.

George and Landry also criticized the procedure on medical and ethical grounds, pointing to potential birth defects and other disorders from in-vitro fertilization, and the relative lack of regulatory oversight to "monitor safety for children or mothers" in such artificial reproductive procedures, warning that the children "created using these techniques would be exposed to a range of medical risks."

They cautioned that children created through these techniques could experience effects on “individual development, cognitive behavior, and key health parameters” due to interactions between the genetic information of the parents.  

They also noted that while some other assisted reproduction technologies can result in the destruction of human embryos, this technique "would have the dubious distinction of being the first assisted reproduction technology necessarily to involve the deliberate destruction of human embryos" in its processes.

Approving such a procedure for human trials "that systematically and necessarily destroys human embryos would mean permitting an unjust and immoral exploitation and instrumentalization of human life," the professors warned.

George and Landry were also concerned that the use of three parents to create a child would be "a dramatic alteration of the first and most basic of natural human relationships, with consequences difficult to fathom or predict."

Human beings have "one genetic mother and one genetic father, a biological fact that is inseparable from our most fundamental social institutions" and psychology, they said, and actions that "would purposely reconfigure the natural, biological foundation of the family merit heightened moral scrutiny," they charged.

Landry and George pointed out that children of sperm or egg donors often experience distress and suffering because of the disrupted familial relationship and lack of a relationship with their biological parents.

The addition of another parent who gives a child genetic information "would create parental relationships unprecedented in nature, with children related to two genetic mothers" and "would be especially reckless and immoral" to support, they said.

back to top

Follow us:

Recent activity: