Vatican City, Mar 31, 2014 (CNA/Europa Press) -
A German priest and psychologist recently appointed to the new Vatican commission for the protection of minors has stated that the initiative demonstrates Pope Francis’ concern regarding the immediacy of the issue.
“I believe that people realize that this is an issue that Pope Francis has put on his agenda and with a priority” Fr. Hans Zollner, S.J., told CNA in a March 25 interview.
Fr. Zollner is psychologist and professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, and was recently named one of the initial eight members of the new Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
According to Fr. Zollner, “the Commission is…an initial group of eight people who are named to find out who else could be members of a larger commission, including other members from other continents and countries.”
Drawing attention to the name of the commission, the priest noted that its current eight members “come from eight countries” and “from different fields.”
Headed by Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, Mass., the commission is composed of four women and four men including the cardinal and himself, the priest noted, emphasizing that one of the female members from Ireland is herself a “victim of sexual abuse by a priest.”
Emphasizing the commission’s need for credibility, Fr. Zoller explained that the reaction of people to the commission appointees “has been for the last few days very positive around the globe.”
“What people realize is that we can’t talk about sexual abuse committed by priests and other members of the Church without listening to the victims,” he emphasized, adding that “it’s a clear statement that the Church is committed to unwavering interest and policy to listen to victims, to put the victims first.”
Noting that the commission also reveals the Church’s “global approach” to the issue, the priest explained that the effort is “not only a commitment to one country or to one continent.”
“We have to spread out what Europeans and Northern Americans have learnt in the last decades in terms of prevention work, in terms of setting up safe environments for children and youth in general. So I think there is a big opportunity here.”
Fr. Zoller voiced that the commission could also serve as “a communication channel” between the Holy See and local Churches, as well as “from local churches to Rome,” and between the local churches themselves.
“We can see that within the Church much good has been done within the last decades,” he observed, but “with much suffering and much pain on the side of the victims and with much effort on the side of the Church authorities and of people involved.”
“But much good has come out of this in putting up protective environments for children and youth.”
Following the December announcement of the commission by the Council of Eight Cardinals selected by Pope Francis to assist him in matters of Church governance and reform, the pontiff revealed the names of eight persons who will serve as the committee’s first members last week.
Among the members of the commission are Dr. Catherine Bonnet of France; Mrs. Marie Collins of Ireland; Professor and Baroness Sheila Hollins of the U.K.; Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley O.F.M. Cap. of Boston; Professor Claudio Papale of Italy; Professor and former Prime Minister Hanna Suchocak of Poland, and Fr. Humberto Miguel Yanez, S.J. of Argentina.
Alan Holdren contributed to this piece.
London, England, Mar 31, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis appointed a new auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Westminster Monday: Monsignor Nicholas Gilbert Hudson, a parish priest of the Southwark archdiocese.
Msgr. Hudson said he felt “honored and humbled” at the appointment.
“It is exciting to be a Catholic in this second year of the pontificate of Pope Francis. I pray that I might emulate the Holy Father’s radical simplicity and outreach to those on the margins of society and of the Church,” he said March 31.
Msgr. Hudson’s appointment will move him across the Thames, within London: north of the river, the city is part of the Westminster archdiocese, while the Archdiocese of Southwark serves London south of the Thames.
The Westminster archdiocese is led by Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who welcomed his new auxiliary and thanked Pope Francis for the appointment.
“Msgr. Hudson will bring wide experience and fine personal qualities to our diocese,” Cardinal Nichols said. “I know that he will be received enthusiastically on this side of the Thames by both clergy and laity. We look forward very much to the start of his ministry among us.”
Msgr. Hudson is presently pastor Sacred Heart in the London district of Wimbledon -- the same parish where he was baptized and ordained.
The 55-year-old was ordained a priest of the Southwark archdiocese in 1986. He had graduated from Wimbledon College in 1977 and Jesus College, Cambridge in 1981.
He attended the Venerable English College in Rome, where he received a licentiate in theology, and also studied at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium.
Msgr. Hudson has served as parochial at St. Thomas of Canterbury parish in Canterbury; was director of the Southwark Christian Education Centre from 1992 to 2000; and was vice-rector and then rector of the Venerable English College from 2000 to 2013.
He said his most precious gift during his time in ministry was the “privilege of knowing people with severe disabilities, who call us to make a place always for the poor at the heart of the Church.”
Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark voiced regret that Msgr. Hudson would no longer be in the Southwark archdiocese, though he praised the priest’s “wide experience of dedicated priestly ministry over the past 28 years.”
Msgr. Hudson said he looked forward to getting to know the Archdiocese of Westminster much better. He will be consecrated a bishop at Westminster Cathedral June 4, 2014, and joins Bishop John Arnold and Bishop John Sherrington as auxiliaries of the archdiocese.
Vatican City, Mar 31, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In his homily Monday, Pope Francis spoke of the importance of having direction in our lives rather than turning in circles and never advancing, emphasizing that we move forward only through faith in God.
“They are wandering Christians: turning around and around, as if life was an existential tourism, without destination, without taking promises very seriously,” the Pope reflected in his March 31 Mass.
Addressing those present in the Vatican’s Saint Martha guesthouse chapel, the Roman Pontiff began his homily by returning to the day’s first reading, taken from the book of Isaiah, and the day’s Gospel, taken from John, in which the son of an official is healed because the man believed Jesus’ assurance that it would happen.
The Pope distinguished between different types of Christians and how they live their lives, explaining that before asking us anything, God promises us a life of joy; this allows us to journey in hope and trust the promises he had made.
However, “so many Christians are immobile” he lamented, adding that “we have so many behind us that have a weak hope.”
“Yes, they believe that there will be heaven and everything will go well,” the Pope continued, stating that “It's OK that they believe it, but they do not seek it! They fulfill the commandments, the precepts: everything, everything … but they are immobile.”
“The Lord cannot make leaven of them among his people, because they do not walk,” the Bishop of Rome emphasized, highlighting that “those who are stationary” are problematic.
Another type of Christian we encounter are those “who take the wrong path,” he said, clarifying that “all of us have sometimes mistaken the way, this we know.”
However, “the problem is not mistaking the way: the problem is not coming back when one realizes they have made a mistake.”
Pope Francis went on to say that the true model of a believer is the official in the Gospel reading who does not doubt that Christ will heal his son when he asks. But the Pope noted there are many who, unlike the official, deceive themselves and wander aimlessly -- without moving forward.
“They are wandering Christians: turning around and around…without destination.”
Although these people might say “’I walk,’” his response would be “No, you don't walk: you turn in circles. The wandering...”
“Instead, the Lord asks us not to stop, not to mistake the way, and not to go around in circles in life … he asks us to look at the promises, going forward with promises like this man, as this man.”
“This man believed in the word of God” he exclaimed, adding that “faith puts us on the road toward the promises. Faith in the promises of God.”
Despite our tendency as sinners to take the wrong path and to sometimes wander, the Pope emphasized that the Lord always gives us the grace to turn back, adding that “Lent is a beautiful time to think if I am walking or if I am too stationary,” and to convert.
Concluding his reflections, the Roman Pontiff encouraged those present to consider whether or not they “have mistaken the road” or if they are “a theological tourist, one of these who go around in circles in life but never makes a step forward.”
If the answer to these is yes, then “go confess yourself and resume the path,” the Pope stated, praying that the Lord give to all “the grace to resume the path, to set out … toward the promises.”
Vatican City, Mar 31, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
At a Monday news conference detailing preparations for the canonization of Bl. John Paul II and Bl. John XXIII, the Holy See announced initiatives designed to help the Church live the event in a spiritual way.
“This is a spiritual event … not just a worldly happening. It is a feast of holiness,” Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of the Diocese of Rome, said March 31 of the Holy See’s preparations for the April canonization of the two late Bishops of Rome.
Announced by Pope Francis in September, the canonizations will take place April 27, Divine Mercy Sunday.
Cardinal Vallini expressed that although we might be used to hearing about saints, these two men are “Bishop Popes,” underlining the need to place a special emphasis on their relationship with the Church, given its profundity.
What links the two men together, he observed, is their faith; he noted they were both models of Christian life and faith, and that in the light of this faith they lived their lives in light of “a goal.”
Rather than “busying” themselves with too many events, the cardinal explained that for this event the Diocese of Rome isn’t doing “a lot,” so that the people will be allowed to truly live in the moment, and follow the path of a deeper spirituality.
Yet among the activities slated to occur, Msgr. Walter Insero revealed there are two key events which will take place the final days leading up to the Mass of Canonization.
Msgr. Insero, who oversees the Diocese of Rome’s communications office, said the first event to take place will be an April 22 gathering for youth on at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran.
Beginning at 8:30 p.m., both Msgr. Slawomir Oder, postulator for Bl. John Paul II’s cause of canonization, and Fr. Giovangiuseppe Califano, OFM, postulator for Bl. John XXIII’s cause, will be present, along with Cardinal Vallini.
And April 26, there will be an all-night prayer vigil during which 11 parishes in the center of Rome will be open with the possibility to pray and to receive Confession in various languages.
Both biblical passages as well as writings from the new saints will be read during the vigil, the communications officer explained.
In addition to these activities, there are also large efforts being made on social media in order to help prepare, with pages for the two blesseds on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify, as well as an official website and smartphone application.
Also present at the news conference was Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi, who explained that the Canonization Mass will begin with the recitation of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, followed by the reading of passages from both Popes on mercy.
The Mass will take place at St. Peter’s Square and will be free of charge with no tickets required, he continued, noting that both the French nun and the Costa Rican woman who received the miracles needed in order to move forward with the canonizations will be present.
Following the Mass, St. Peter’s Basilica will be open for pilgrims and faithful who want to venerate the saints’ bodies, and the next day there will be a Mass of Thanksgiving in St. Peter’s Square, said by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Regarding the number of pilgrims expected to participate in the event, Fr. Lombardi stated he had no idea, though “it will be a lot.”
He added that while it is uncertain, Benedict XVI will likely attend the canonization.
On a final note, Cardinal Vallini expressed that this event is not only for believers, but also for non-believers, because “God loves everyone.”
Washington D.C., Mar 31, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Prominent Catholic laywomen have responded to recent statements by former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, saying he lacks understanding of the Church and of the nature of service.
While talking to various media outlets, Carter has criticized the Church saying its teachings about the priesthood are responsible for the mistreatment of women around the world.
Carter’s “comments about the role of women in the Church show a gross misunderstanding of Catholicism,” commented Ashley McGuire, senior fellow with The Catholic Association, in a March 27 interview with CNA.
"As Pope Francis continues to remind us, it is service to others that is the primary aim of Catholics, not authority or power."
She added that Carter's statements "are insulting to nuns, whose work is just as important as that of priests," and that the conflation of "an all-male priesthood with domestic abuse is disrespectful to the Church and to actual victims of domestic violence."
Carter appeared on The Colbert Report March 26 saying he would join the Church if "a female Catholic priest asks me to join her church”; he has made similar statements in other interviews promoting his latest book.
Earlier this month, Carter said the Church's teaching on the priesthood influences men to "treat (women) as inferiors."
"The fact that the Catholic Church, for instance, prohibits women from serving as priests or even deacons gives a kind of a permission to male people all over the world, that well, if God thinks that women are inferior, I'll treat them as inferiors," he said in a March 22 interview with NPR.
"If she is my wife, I can abuse her with impunity, or if I'm an employer, I can pay female employees less salary.”
Carter has made similar comments discussing women, the priesthood, and Pope Francis on Huffington Post, CNN and other media outlets.
Jennifer Manning, a member of Catholic Voices USA, told CNA that “to say that ‘God thinks that women are inferior’ because women cannot be priests in the Catholic Church is a gross misunderstanding not only of Catholicism, but of God.”
Manning explained that Catholic teaching "does not treat women as 'inferiors.' God created men and women with equal dignity, each in the image and likeness of God."
She said contemporary thinking may not agree with the Church's understanding of the complementary nature or "harmony" of men and women, yet “this symbolism reaches deeply into Catholicism.”
“The Church is the bride of Christ: Christ marries his Church, gives his life for his Church.”
Kathryn Lopez, director of Catholic Voices USA, told CNA the Church has the highest "love, regard, respect, and gratitude for women.”
This love and respect for women is "unmistakable watching Pope Francis, who works with and listens to" women and has also "said on more than one occasion that 'the Virgin Mary is more important than any bishop and any apostle.'"
"This is no small thing," Lopez stressed, "and I pray President Carter might consider talking with some Catholic women who love our faith before attacking it."
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Mar 31, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The March 22 succession of Paul Bui Van Doc as Archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City may ease the relationship between Vietnam and the Holy See.
Archbishop Bui Van Doc was born in 1944 in Da Lat, and attended seminary in Saigon and then the Pontifical Urban University.
He was ordained a priest in 1970, and served as rector of Da Lat’s major seminary from 1975 to 1995.
In 1999, he was consecrated Bishop of My Tho, where he served until 2013. That year, he was apointed coadjutor archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City. Since his transfer to Ho Chi Minh City, he has also acted as apostolic administrator of the My Tho diocese.
When Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Man resigned as Archbishop of Ho Chi Minh City shortly after his 80th birthday, he was succceed by Archbishop Bui Van Doc. The new archbishop is also president of the Vietnamese bishops’ conference.
The archbishop wrote a commentary in 2009 on the relations between Vietnam and the Church, in light of celebrations for the jubilee of the Church in Vietnam, following a Nov. 24, 2009 gathering of 100,000 Catholics in the country.
The gathering, Archbishop Bui Van Doc noted, followed years of difficult relations, and the confiscation of the Church’s goods.
While official Vietnamese media reported that the state helped Catholics to celebrate their jubilee, Archbishop Bui Van Doc said, “the state did not change its attitude toward the Catholic Church, since official media wanted to stress that the state does not concede a special favor to Catholicism, while it applies a common policy for every religion.”
In a 2012 address to the federation of the Asian bishops’ conferences, Archbishop Bui Van Doc proposed a fostering of dialogue between the Church and the atheistic doctrine espoused by Hanoi, emphasizing a distinction between the trend of secularization in the West with what happened in the East, so as to find a new way to evangelize.
In December of that year, he issued a series of guidelines for the Church’s pastoral program in Vietnam, stressing that the Church should be “of and for the poor” and “of and for everyone”, so as to fulfil the name “Catholic” and to proclaim the Gospel and contribute to society.
Archbishop Bui Van Doc also issued Dec 11 2012 the guidelines and principles for the pastoral program of the Church in Vietnam.
Archbishop Bui Van Doc’s declarations followed the development of relations between the Holy See and Vietnam – one of the few countries which lacks diplomatic relations with the Vatican.
The establishment of diplomatic relations was among the goals of Benedict XVI’s papacy. At a May 12, 2005 address to the diplomats accredited to the Holy See, he said, “I am also thinking of the nations with which the Holy See does not yet have diplomatic relations. Some of them took part in the celebrations for the funeral of my Predecessor and for my election to the Chair of Peter.”
“Having appreciated these gestures, today I would like to thank them and to address a respectful greeting to the civil Authorities of those countries. Moreover, I express the hope that sooner or later I will see them represented at the Holy See … I cherish these communities and all the peoples that belong to them, and assure them all of my remembrance in prayer.”
That summer, a delegation from the Vietnamese government visited the Vatican, and then in 2007, prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung visited Benedict XVI.
Three rounds of negotations between the Holy See and Vietnam then took place, during which the apostolic nuncio to Singapore was appointed non-residential representative to Vietnam.
The Vietnamese president then met with Benedict XVI in Rome in 2009, as did Nguyen Phu Trong, general secretary of the Vietnamese Central Committee, in 2013.