New York City, N.Y., Jul 13, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
A new healthcare website hopes to link together Catholic patients and healthcare providers in order to address the cultural challenges facing Catholics around the country.
“There’s more to being Catholic … than simply, 'we don't use birth control,” Dr. Greg Bottaro, PsyD, said to CNA July 7, of how the faith affects participation in the healthcare industry.
“There’s an integration between our faith and our professional life as a healthcare provider where we treat the person differently from the start.”
Bottaro is the founder of WellCatholic, a website he hopes will link Catholic patients with doctors who uphold Catholic values in their health practices across all medical disciplines.
“We’re created to be a resource for Catholics to find Catholic providers,” Bottaro said, “and at the same time, it’s a resource for Catholic providers to be recognized and supported for practicing according to Catholic values.”
He said that while working as a Catholic psychologist in New York he was struck by how many people would ask for recommendations for Catholic doctors elsewhere in the country.
These conversations led him to realize “there’s definitely a huge demand for healthcare” that respects a patient’s beliefs, as well as those of their health provider.
“Story after story came in saying that there were so many ways that not having that faith in common really hurt the care they were receiving,” Bottaro said.
This shared faith, he continued, is an important factor “especially when you’re in your most vulnerable state. It hurts that much deeper when your faith is called into question and you’re belittled or degraded because of it” in these situations, he continued.
While there are already some services that list Catholic doctors and other health providers, Bottaro said, they are typically not user-friendly and are intended for a small number of people, rather than marketed to the public.
By focusing on linking the public and healthcare professionals in an online community, Bottaro said he hoped WellCatholic could “become a Catholic household name” that Catholics go to when they need a doctor.
However, for the venture to be most successful, communities on the ground need to help build WellCatholic as an online community – specifically in spreading the word among doctors and patients.
“If people really love the vision and feel like they would benefit from this, we really need grassroots support,” Bottaro said.
“Right now we’re just getting started, so there’s definitely a need for community support behind this.”
Vatican City, Jul 13, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The appointment of a committee to propose reforms for the Vatican media raises expectations for a substantial renewal of the Vatican media branch, bringing it ever more toward the digital age.
The 11 people appointed for the committee are entrusted with drafting a reform plan within the next months, with the goal of adapting Holy See media to changing media consumption trends, enhancing coordination, and achieving substantial financial savings.
President of the committee will be Lord Christopher Patten of Barnes, currently chancellor of Oxford University and co-chair of the UK-India Round Table, who chaired the governing body of the BBC until he resigned because of a heart attack.
Secretary of the Committee has been appointed Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
On Vatican side, the other members are: Mgsr. Carlo Maria Polvani, head of the Office for Information of the Vatican State Secretariat; Giacomo Ghisani of Vatican Radio; Msgr. Lucio Adrian Ruiz of the Vatican Internet Service; and Giovanni Maria Vian, editor in chief of “L’Osservatore Romano”.
The senior experts appointed are Gregory Erlandson, American, president and publisher of the Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division; Daniela Frank, German, executive director of the Catholic Media Council; Fr. Eric Salobir, O.P., General Promoter of the Order of Preachers for Social Communication; Leticia Soberon, a psychologist who also served as official of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication; and George Yeo, a former minister for Foreign Affairs in Singapore.
The board of experts will meet later this year in Rome.
The basis of the discussions will be the conclusions drafted by the Pontifical Commission of Reference for the Economic-Administrative structure, or COSEA.
COSEA’s conclusions were drafted on the basis of a plan sketched by the company McKinsey & Co, which had been entrusted in December, 2013 to counsel the Vatican about an “integrated plan” for its media.
At the moment, none of the members of the committee contacted by CNA accepted to officially comment on their appointment and to give previews of the work they are going to do within the committee.
One of the members of the committee underscored July 10 that “obviously, the Vatican has a multi-faceted communications presence thanks to the work of many dedicated individuals.”
Another of the members of the committee stressed that “the committee is well balanced, it is not any more an only interior matter. There are experts coming from outside the Vatican, from Catholic media. The committee will not only provide or deal with opinions coming from outside the Vatican.”
This needed opening to the “exterior glance” of Catholic media is “an outcome of the digital era, since there are no more geographic nor institutional borders with the digital era.”
It is not the first time a committee for communication is established within the Vatican ranks. Around 30 years ago, while a curial reform was being discussed, an internal committee of experts convoked by the then chief of the office of information of the State Secretariat Msgr. Crescenzio Sepe – who is now cardinal and archbishop of Naples – studied a rationalization of Vatican media.
The Vatican has a daily newspaper, “L’Osservatore Romano”, a radio station and a television which delivers the footage of the Pope all over the world. In addition, it boasts the Holy See Press Office, from which all official information is delivered.
The Secretariat of State is in charge of the Holy See Press Office, and the Vatican radio and television.
The Pontifical Council for Social Communications – an outcome of the Second Vatican Council document “Inter Mirifica” – is involved in questions regarding the means of social communication, and must proceed in close connection with the Secretariat of State.
Under the umbrella of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Vatican has launched the Holy Father twitter account @pontifex, the information website news.va, and the Pope App.
The committee will build on this positive experiences to strengthen digital channels in order to gain more reach for the Pope’s message.
Notably absent from the list of appointees is Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, director of Vatican Television.
Vatican City, Jul 13, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Pope Francis prayed for peace in the Holy Land on Sunday, asking participants to join him in a moment of silent prayer.
“I extend a heartfelt appeal to all of you to continue to pray earnestly for peace in the Holy Land, in light of the tragic events of recent days,” the Roman Pontiff said after his July 13 weekly Angelus address.
Recalling the June 8 invocation for peace with the Israeli and Palestinian presidents, the pontiff recounted how they “invoked the gift of peace and heard the call to break the cycle of hatred and violence.”
“Some might think that such a meeting took place in vain,” he observed, “But no, because prayer helps us not to allow ourselves to be overcome by evil, nor resign ourselves to violence and hatred taking over dialogue and reconciliation.”
“I urge the parties concerned and all those who have political responsibility at local and international levels to spare a prayer and make some effort to put an end to all hostilities and to achieve the desired peace for the good of all.”
Pope Francis then invited the thousands present in St Peter’s Square to unite in prayer and led the masses in a moment of silent prayer for the Holy Land.
Tensions between Israel and Palestine have steadily increased in recent weeks following the murder of three Israeli teenagers, whose bodies were discovered June 30. The day of their funeral the body of a Palestinian teenager was found, whose death is seen as a retaliation killing.
Israel and Palestinian organization Hamas, seen as a terrorist group and whom Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has faulted for murder of the three Jewish teenagers, have continued to exchange fire in the Gaza area, despite a proposed cease-fire last week.
According to BBC News, health officials in Gaza report that at least 159 Palestinians have been killed since airstrikes from Israel began, including several civilians. Israel has stated that the strikes are in retaliation for continued rocket blasts from Hamas.
The agency also reports that earlier this morning Israeli military forces dropped leaflets over the city of Beit Lahiya in Gaza telling civilians to seek shelter ahead of further airstrikes near the security headquarters and police stations run by Hamas Islamist militants in Gaza.
Following the prayerful moment of silence, Pope Francis prayed “Now, Lord, help us! Grant us peace, teach us peace, guide us toward peace.”
“Open our eyes and our hearts and give us the courage to say: ‘Never again war!’ ‘Everything is destroyed by war.’”
He asked that the Lord give to all the strength and courage “to take concrete actions to build peace...make us willing to listen to the cry of our citizens who are asking us to transform our weapons into instruments of peace, our fears into trust, and our tensions into forgiveness.”
During his reflections on the day’s Gospel of the parable of the sower and the seed, the Pope drew attention to Jesus’ frequent use of parables, noting that he uses “a language understood by all, with images drawn from nature and everyday life situations.”
He observed how the first three terrains where the sower drops the seeds are “unproductive” because “along the way the seeds are eaten by birds; on the stony ground they sprout up but immediately dry out because they didn't have roots” and “in the middle of the bushes the seeds are suffocated by thorns.”
“The fourth soil is the good soil, and only there the seed takes root and bears fruit,” he said.
Pope Francis observed how the first three types of soil signify those people who hear God’s word but don’t welcome it; those who do welcome it, but only on a superficial level that breaks down when difficulties come; and those who listen to God’s word but are too caught up in worldly concerns and the seduction of wealth, so it dies.
“Finally, the seed that falls on fertile ground represents the many who hear the word, welcome it, cherish it and understand it, and this brings fruit. The perfect model of this good soil is the virgin Mary.”
Noting how Jesus speaks to each of us in the same way today, the Pope asked “With what attitude do we welcome” the word of God? “How is our heart? Which terrain does it resemble: a street, a stone, a bush?”
“It's up to us to become good ground without thorns or stones, but tilled and cultivated with care, so that it can bear good fruit for us and for our brothers and sisters,” he said, explaining that we receive this seed in God’s word each time we go to Mass, which needs “to be accepted, cherished, lived.”
“Also in these summer months, during the holiday time, it’s important to participate each Sunday at this table, drawing light and strength for our journey.”
Vatican City, Jul 13, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Vatican spokesperson said that the Pope’s words as reported in the Italian newspaper “La Repubblica” cannot be considered with certainty to be Pope Francis’ actual words.
Fr. Federico Lombardi of the Holy See Press Office questioned whether there is an “explicit acknowledgment” in the interview of “a manipulation of naive readers.”
On July 13, “La Repubblica” published an article by its founder Eugenio Scalfari, reporting about a conversation he had with Pope Francis July 10.
The conversation is about the two hot topics of mafia and clergy sex abuse of minors, which Pope Francis recently discussed.
“Pedophilia, Mafia: the Church, the people of God, priests, community, will be entrusted, among other things, with these very important issues,” Pope Francis reportedly said.
Pope Francis met with victims of clergy sex abuse in the Vatican July 7, asking forgiveness of the victims for the abuses and for the omissions of the hierarchy. He reiterated the excommunication of the mafia July 5, during his one day trip to the small diocese of Cassano all’Jonio, Calabria, Southern Italy, in one of the territories most infiltrated by the mafia.
According to Scalfari, in their approximately one-hour conversation, Pope Francis addressed the “leprosy of pedophilia in the Church,” saying that “Jesus loved everybody, even the sinners he wanted to redeem,” but that Christ also “used stick to get chase the devil that seized that soul,” and emphasizing that he will address the issue “with the severity required.”
Furthermore – commenting on a Madonna statue in front of the house of a mafia boss during a July 6 procession – Pope Francis reportedly assured that “these things are changing and will change. Our denunciation of the mafia will not be once in a while, it will be continual.”
According to Scalfari, Pope Francis also addressed priestly celibacy. The Pope reportedly told Scalfari that “celibacy was established in the tenth century, 900 years after Our Lord’s death,” and reminded that “the priests of Eastern Catholic Church are already allowed to marry.”
“There is a problem, but it is not a great deal. Time is needed, but there are solutions, and I will find them,” Pope Francis reportedly told Scalfari.
Returning to pedophilia, Pope Francis reportedly stressed that “the corruption of a child is what the most terrible and dirty one can imagine,” considering that “according to data I could personally look over, most of this abominable facts occur within families or anyway within communities with antique bonds of friendship.”
The Pope also reportedly underscored that “the main task of education of children seems to have gone away from houses,” and this is “a very grave omission,” though “we are not still in the absolute evil.”
The Pope allegedly also stressed that “this frequently happens within families, and it is practiced by relatives, grandparents, uncles, family friends. Often, the other members of the family are conscious of that, but they do not intervene, taken by interests or by other forms of corruption.”
According to Scalfari, Pope Francis also denounced the spread of drugs in the new generations and claimed that “the Church fights in order to wipe this addiction out and to recover education,” but he also conceded that the Church has the same “leprosy” of pedophilia within it.
“Many collaborators on my side provided me reliable data which estimate a rate of two percent of pedophilia within the Catholic Church,” the Pope reportedly said.
The Roman pontiff allegedly said that “this data should reassure me, but it does not. I find it very grave. Two percent of pedophiles are priests and even bishops and cardinals. And other people, even more numerous, know but are silent, punish without saying the reason. I find this state of things unbearable, and I intend to face it with the severity it requires.”
Pope Francis has already proved severity in addressing the priestly pedophilia. This last week, it was announced that Msgr. Luca Lorusso, number two of the apostolic nunciature to Italy, has been expelled from the diplomatic service of the Holy See and sent back to his home diocese of Taranto.
Msgr. Lorusso has been deemed guilty because he defended as a lawyer the former priest Patrizio Poggi, who had been sentenced for pedophilia and laicised, and for supporting Poggi’s accusation against nine priests of the Diocese of Rome. Poggi’s accusation were considered unfounded by judges.
Recently, Pope Francis ordered Fr. Mauro Inzoli to retire to private life, with no possibility of publicly celebrating Mass and delivering sacraments, because he was investigated for pedophilia.
And Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, former nuncio to the Dominican Republic, has been defrocked after the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith court found him guilty of sex abuse of minors.
Focusing on the mafia, Pope Francis reportedly confessed he “does not know the issue in depth. I know what they do, the crimes they commit, the huge interests the mafias manage. But I cannot see at all the way of thinking of mafia people, of their bosses, of their second fiddles.”
Pope Francis reportedly said that “in Argentina there are many criminals, thieves, assassins, but not mafias. I want to go more in depth this issue, and I will read the many books written on the issue and the witnesses.”
According to Scalfari, Pope Francis also spoke about the distorted way the criminal organization lives religion, and underscored that “the major part of women linked to mafia because of bonds of kinship, wives, daughters, sisters, assiduously take part in the celebrations in towns where the mayor and other local authorities are often mafia people. Do those women think God will forgive the horrible crimes of their relatives?”
Pope Francis reportedly addressed the omissions of some priests, who “are inclined to pass over the mafia phenomenon,” since they “condemn the individual crimes, honor victims, help families the way they can,” but “the constant denunciation of mafias is uncommon.”
Fr. Lombardi’s reaction
However, Fr. Lombardi, the director of the Holy See Press Office, underscored in an official note that while Scalfari reports the Pope’s words in quotation marks, they are reported on the basis of his memory as an experienced journalist, not on the precise transcription of a record nor of a revision by Pope Francis himself.
Fr. Lombardi affirmed that “it is not possible to speak about an interview in the common sense of the word,” since even if the article “reports the sense and the spirit of the conversation between the Holy Father and Scalfari,” it is also true that the quotes of the Pope, “in the way they are worded, cannot be attributed with certainty to Pope Francis.”
The director of the Holy See Press office focused on “two affirmations” that “have gained much attention” but that are not “attributable to the Pope”: which are the claims “there are cardinals among pedophiles and that Pope Francis firmly stressed, for what concerns celibacy, ‘I will find the solutions’.”
Fr. Lombardi noticed that Scalfari “clearly attributed these two sentences to the Pope,” but “strangely, the quotation marks are opened, but not closed.”
“Did Scalfari forget to end the quote or was it an explicit acknowledgement that he was making a manipulation of naive readers?”
This was the third meeting between Pope Francis and Scalfari.
The latter wrote that “Pope Francis wanted these meetings, because, among the many people of every social condition, faith and age he meets in his daily apostolate, he wanted to share ideas and sentiments with a non-believer,” and Scalfari asserted that he ultimately is “a non-believer who loves the human figure of Jesus, his preaching, his legend, the myth he represents in the eyes of those recognizing him a high rank humanity, but no divinity.”
Scalfari published another conversation with Pope Francis Oct. 1, which was the first “interview” Pope Francis granted.
On that occasion, Fr. Federico Lombardi maintained that the text was overall faithful to the Pope's thought, even though it could not be considered part of his magisterium.
The interview was first inserted among the Pope's speeches on the Vatican's website, translated in six languages, and later removed from the Vatican's website because “the information in the interview is reliable on a general level, but not on the level of each individual point analyzed,” Father Lombardi said Nov. 15.
One month after the publication of that “interview,” in a meeting with journalists of the Foreign Press Association of Rome, Scalfari conceded that it was “really possible” that some of the Pope's words he reported “were not shared by the Pope himself.”
On that occasion, Scalfari explained his modus operandi: his interviews are conducted without a recording device, nor taking notes while the person is speaking.
“I try to understand the person I am interviewing, and after that, I write his answers with my own words,” Scalfari explained.