Vatican City, Jul 5, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Financial Intelligence Authority, the Vatican’s financial watchdog, has agreed to exchange information with the U.S. government, significantly strengthening international cooperation on financial concerns.
René Bruelhart, director of the financial authority, said the agreement is “a further step in Holy See efforts towards perfecting a system of financial regulation and part of our commitment to transparency and international cooperation.”
“The Holy See is part of the global family of well-regulated jurisdictions and the signing of this agreement reflects that very clearly,” Bruelhart said.
The agreement with the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is the first that the financial authority signs in its capacity of financial supervisor and regulator within the Holy See and the Vatican City State.
The Financial Intelligence Authority was established in 2010 and became operational in 2011. It was tasked with supervisory and regulatory action in a law issued Oct. 8, 2013 and through the issuance of its new statutes in November 2013.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is an independent bureau within the U.S. Department of the Treasury. It serves to charter, regulate and supervise all national banks and the federal branches and agencies of foreign banks in the United States, its website states.
The Holy See Press Office said that following the agreement with the U.S. currency comptroller, the Financial Intelligence Authority “expects further bilateral agreements with financial supervisors and regulators of other countries to follow in due course, and continues in its efforts to strengthen its own regulatory infrastructure in fostering international cooperation.”
The Authority for Financial Information has already signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, an agency of the U.S. treasury department. The network collects and analyzes information about financial transactions in order to combat domestic and international money laundering, the financing of terrorism and other financial crimes.
The agreement with the network, together with more than a dozen other memoranda of understanding signed by the Authority for Financial Information to date, aims to create unified work in financial intelligence.
The Financial Intelligence Authority in July 2013 also joined the Egmont Group, an international forum that gathers together financial information units from all over the world.
Vatican City, Jul 5, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
During his one-day trip to Molise Pope Francis met with personnel of the region’s university, urging them to find creative solutions to unemployment, and thanked working mothers for their example.
“Another challenge was voiced by this good working mother, who also spoke on behalf of her family: her husband, her young child and the baby in her womb,” Pope Francis observed in his July 5 address to students and staff of the University of Molise in Campobasso.
“Hers is a plea for work and at the same time for the family. Thank you for this testimony! In fact, it is a case of trying to reconcile work with family life.”
Taking place in the university’s lecture hall, the talk given to the university personnel was the first event in Pope Francis’ one-day visit to the Archdiocese of Campobasso-Boiano in Italy’s southern Molise region.
Archbishop Giancarlo Maria Bregantini oversees the diocese, and was appointed by the Pope to write the meditations for this year’s Good Friday Via Crucis at the Colosseum. He is also known for his commitment in fighting against organized crime.
Beginning his address, the Roman Pontiff thanked the university’s rector and authorities for their welcome, and greeted the professors, students and faithful gathered.
“My visit in Molise begins with this encounter with the world of work, but the place in which we find ourselves is the university. And this is significant,” he said.
“It expresses the importance of research and training in order to respond to the new and complex questions that the economic crisis poses, on a local, national and international level.”
Referring to humanity’s call to serve God in our daily work, the Pope stated that “a good training program does not offer easy solutions, but helps to have a more open and creative look in order to better value local resources.”
The Bishop of Rome then pointed out the importance of caring for creation, explaining that learning to truly respect it “is one of the greatest challenges of our time.”
He also drew attention to the growing phenomenon of working mothers, stating that theirs is a call “to work and at the same time to the family,” adding that their challenging balance of work and family “is a ‘critical’ point that allows us to discern, to evaluate the quality of the human economic system in which we find ourselves.”
Involved in this evaluation is also the question of working on Sundays the pontiff observed, stating that it is a question “which doesn't only concern believers, but everyone, as an ethical choice.”
“The questions is: what do we want to give priority? The Sunday free from work – except those necessary services – is to say that the priority is not given to the budget, but to the human being, to freedom, to family rather than non-commercial relations, to friends in order for believers to have a relationship with God and their community.”
“Maybe it's time to ask whether working on Sundays is true freedom.”
Pope Francis also directed words to the “many workers and entrepreneurs of this region,” and joined his voice to theirs in asking “that a ‘pact for work’ be implemented here.”
Explaining how he has seen the inhabitants of Molise “respond to the tragedy of unemployment by putting efforts together in a constructive way,” the Pope affirmed that “so many positions of work could be recovered through a concerted strategy with national authorities.”
“A ‘pact for work’ that knows how to take advantage of the opportunities offered by national and European regulations” would greatly help, he said, and encouraged the region’s citizens “to go down this road, which can bring good results here as well as in other regions.”
Concluding his address, the Roman Pontiff thanked the university personnel for their gift of a painting that represents motherhood, stating that “Motherhood involves labor, but the pain of childbirth is oriented toward life, is full of hope.”
“I not only thank you for this gift, but more so for the testimony it contains: that of a labor full of hope.”
Vatican City, Jul 5, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In his homily during Mass for Saturday’s trip to Molise, Pope Francis explained that the Church is a people that both serves God and lives in the freedom that he gives from oppression.
“This is the freedom that, by the grace of God, we experience in the Christian community when we put ourselves at each others' service, without jealousy, without taking sides, without chatter… Serving one another. Serving!” the Pope explained in his July 5 homily.
“He frees us from fear, internal emptiness, isolation, regret and complaints…Christ frees us from this existential grayness.”
Taking place in the Campobasso’s Romagnoli Stadium, the Pope’s Mass was the second event in his one-day trip to Italy’s southern region of Molise.
Overseeing the Archdiocese of Campobasso-Boiano is Archbishop Giancarlo Maria Bregantini, who was appointed by the Pope to write the meditations for this year’s Good Friday Via Crucis at the Colosseum. He is also known for his commitment in fighting against organized crime.
In his homily Pope Francis reflected on how the day’s first reading illustrates the characteristics of divine wisdom, stating that it “liberates from evil and oppression those who place themselves at the service of the Lord.”
He explained that God is never neutral but rather is always “close to people who are fragile, discriminated against and oppressed, who abandon themselves in trust to him,” adding that the experience of Jacob and Joseph in the Old Testament “reveals two essential aspects of the life of the Church.”
“The Church is a people who serves God; the Church is a people who lives in the freedom that he gives.”
Observing how the Church is first of all a people who serves God, the pontiff noted that although this is done in various ways, the most important is prayer, of which Mary is an iconic example through her haste to help Elizabeth when she was in need.
Noting how “the witness of charity is the main path of evangelization,” the Bishop of Rome encouraged the priests, religious and laity of Molise to “persevere on this path, serving God in the service of others and spreading everywhere the culture of solidarity.”
“There is much need for this commitment in the face of situations of material and spiritual precariousness, especially in the face of unemployment, a plague that requires every effort and much courage on everyone’s part,” he said.
In order to give this effort Pope Francis stated that it is first necessary to “place the dignity of the human person at the center of every prospect and every action.”
“Other interests, even if legitimate, are secondary. At the center is the dignity of the human person. Why? Because the human person is in the image of God, he was created in the image of God and we are all in the image of God!”
Going on, the Roman Pontiff explained that because the Church serves the Lord it is also a people that “experiences his freedom and lives in this freedom that he gives,” adding that “the Lord always gives true freedom.”
“First of all the freedom from sin, from selfishness in all its forms: the freedom to give of oneself and to do so with joy” as well as to “to adore God, to serve God and to serve him even in our brothers and sisters,” he went on.
“Then the Lord frees us from ambition and rivalry, which undermine unity and communion. He frees us from distrust, sadness – look, this sadness is dangerous because it casts us down. It casts us down. It’s dangerous. Be careful.”
Observing how there is often “no shortage of negative attitudes that make people self-referential, more concerned with defending themselves than with giving of themselves” in our own communities, the Pope assured that Christ frees us from all of this.
“For this reason we disciples of the Lord, though still always weak and sinners – we are all so – still weak and sinners, we are called to live our faith with joy and courage.”
We are also called to live our faith in “communion with God and with our brothers, adoration of God,” he went on, “and to face with strength the labors and trials of life.”
Concluding his reflections, Pope Francis prayed that the region’s “Madonna of Freedom” intercede so that all might attain “the joy of serving the Lord and of walking in the freedom that He has given us, the freedom for adoration.”
“May Mary help you to be a maternal Church, welcoming and caring toward everyone. May she always be beside you, you’re sick, you’re elderly, who are the wisdom of the people, and your youth,” he prayed.
“For all your people, may she be a sign of consolation and sure hope. May the Madonna of Freedom accompany us, help us, console us and give us peace and joy.”
Isernia, Italy, Jul 5, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
At a visit Saturday with the imprisoned in the Italian city of Isernia, Pope Francis stated the need of every human person for rehabilitation, and conversion to God.
“To walk the way of rehabilitation, this is something we all need to do. All. We all make mistakes in life. And all of us must ask forgiveness for these mistakes and make a journey of rehabilitation, to not make any more,” the Pope said July 5 at Isernia's Casa Circondariale prison.
“Some do this at home, at their workplace; others, like you, in a prison. But all, all … anyone who says he does not need this way of rehabilitation is a liar! We all make mistakes in life, and also, all are sinners.”
He emphasized that when we turn to the Lord to be forgiven our sins and mistakes, “he always remembers us, never tires of forgiving. He tell us: 'Come back this way, it will be good for you to do this.'”
“And he helps us,” Pope Francis stressed. “And his way of rehabilitation, is a way we all must walk.”
The visit to the Isernia prison was part of Pope Francis' one-day pastoral visit to Molise, a region of sourthern Italy. “This is the motto of this visit,” he told them: “God never tires of forgiving.”
He encouraged them to not become static, but to take a step each day in this seeking of God, who remembers us always. With God's faithful love, “hope does not delude us.”
The suffering consequent to sin, Pope Francis said, purifies us, because it is “suffering with hope … (God) forgives us, he takes us by the hand and helps us to move forward in this way of rehabilitation.”
Imprisonment, he said, is not so important as “what God does with us, taking us by the hand and helping us to move forward.” He thanked the prisoners for their hospitality, and shared with them that when he meets with those in prisons, “sincerely I ask myself: why him and not me? I feel this. It is a mystery. But beginning from this sentiment, with this feeling I accompany you.”
Prior to his meeting with prisoners, Pope Francis also met with youth, to whom he similarly stressed God's forgiveness and mercy: “often we forget that God never tires of forgiving … we are the ones who tire of asking for forgiveness, but he forgives always, each time I ask him to.”
At the piazza of the Sanctuary of Castelpetroso, he told the region's youth that they should walk a path that is stable and grounded in love, rather than being static or flitting about from day to day, unfettered by ties of love and responsibility.
“Transience is not good,” he warned. “Not good, because it darkens the mind and chills the heart.”
The “culture of the temporary,” Pope Francis said, “does not provide a climate conducive to the formation of stable life choices with solid ties, built on the rock of love and responsbility, rather than the sand of emotion.”
This quest for supposed autonomy hinders making life choices with commitment and dedication, feeding a superficiliality that renders life a pointless maze rather than a journey towards a goal, he said. He dared them to aspire to love and happiness, finding the freedom that Christ offers, and having courage and hope in the face of difficulties that they should remember are “temporary and surmountable.”
He spoke about the plague of youth unemployment, urging that in solidarity, all find a solution to this problem.
“Young people have the capacity for solidarity,” he told them. “This word solidarity, is one the world does not like to hear. Some think it's a dirty word. No, it is not a dirty word, it is a Christian word: to go along with one's brother to help him overcome his problems. Be courageous, with hope and solidarity.”
Following his meeting with prisoners, Pope Francis went to the piazza of Isernia's cathedral, to meet with its citizens and especially its sick, announcing the Celestine Jubilee Year.
He began noting that in Christianity, there is no conflict between the sacred and profane: that we are both “citizens and brothers.”
He spoke of both St. Celestine V and St. Francis of Assisi, both of whom emphasized God's mercy and how that mercy renews the world.
“These saints felt the need to give the people the greatest thing, the greatest wealth: the Father's mercy and forgiveness.”
The Jubilee Year, he noted, is a time for mercy, and love as a “force of purification” of consciences and to renew social relations, including the creation of an economy centered on the person and the family rather than money and profit.
“We believe that this way is good for everyone, it is the way that really brings us closer to justice and peace,” he said. “But we also know that we are sinners, that we ourselves are always tempted not to follow this path, and to conform to the mentality of the world, the mentality of power and wealth.”
“So we rely on the mercy of God, and we are committed to fulfill, by his grace, fruits of conversion and works of mercy. These two things: to repent and do works of mercy. This is the leitmotif of this year, this Celestine Jubilee Year.”