By Cindy Wooden VATICAN CITY (CNS) – At the beginning of a year people hope will mark the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis urged them to create a “culture of care,” including by sharing the gift of their time with others. Despite suffering from a bout of sciatica, nerve pain, that left him unable to preside over Mass Jan. 1 in St. Peter’s Basilica, the pope sent a homily focused on God’s blessings and on sharing those blessings with others. Consecrating the new year to Mary, the pope prayed that she would “care for us, bless our time, and teach us to find time for God and for others.” Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, read the pope’s homily as he celebrated the Mass for the feast of Mary, Mother of God, and for the Catholic Church’s celebration of World Peace Day. Only about 100 people, all wearing masks, were in the socially distanced congregation for the Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica. Two dozen cardinals, also wearing masks, concelebrated. In the homily he wrote, Pope Francis returned to themes from his World Peace Day message – “A Culture of Care as a Path to Peace” – and a recent general audience talk about prayers of blessing. “This year, while we hope for new beginnings and new cures, let us not neglect care,” the pope wrote. “Together with a vaccine for our bodies, we need a vaccine for our hearts. That vaccine is care. This will be a good year if we take care of others, as Our Lady does with us.” “The Lord knows how much we need to be blessed,” the pope wrote. “The first thing he did after creating the world was to say that everything was good and to say of us that that we were very good.” But with the birth of Jesus, he said, “we receive not only words of blessing, but the blessing itself: Jesus is himself the blessing of the Father.” “Every time we open our hearts to Jesus, God’s blessing enters our lives,” he said. The example of Mary, blessed in a special way, he wrote, “teaches us that blessings are received in order to be given.” Referring to the Latin roots of the word “benediction” – to speak well – Pope Francis wrote that “we, too, are called to bless, to ‘speak well’ in God’s name.” “Our world is gravely polluted by the way we speak and think badly of others, of society, of ourselves,” he said. But complaining and denigrating others “corrupts and decays, whereas blessing restores life and gives the strength needed to begin anew.” The blessing of Jesus’ birth, he wrote, is all the more amazing because God sent the savior into the world as a baby, who was formed in the flesh within the womb of Mary. “The heart of the Lord began to beat within Mary; the God of life drew oxygen from her,” the pope wrote. “Through Mary, we encounter God the way he wants us to: in tender love, in intimacy, in the flesh.” As 2021 begins, he said, people should make a commitment to finding time for others. “Time is a treasure that all of us possess, yet we guard it jealously, since we want to use it only for ourselves,” he wrote. “Let us ask for the grace to find time for God and for our neighbor – for those who are alone or suffering, for those who need someone to listen and show concern for them.”
By Junno Arocho Esteves VATICAN CITY (CNS) – While sin may distort and disfigure the image of Christ that every person bears, it does not completely erase it, nor does it remove people from God’s abundant mercy, Pope Francis said. At his weekly general audience Dec. 2, the pope said that even when a sinner remains “in error for a long time,” God waits patiently, “hoping that the sinner’s heart will eventually open and change.” “God is like a good father and a good mother: They never stop loving their child, no matter what he or she may have done wrong,” the pope said during the audience, which was livestreamed from the library of the Apostolic Palace. While continuing his series of talks on prayer, Pope Francis also offered prayers for the victims of a terrorist attack Nov. 28 in Nigeria; 43 farmers near the northeastern city of Maiduguri were brutally murdered. According to BBC News, no one has claimed responsibility. However, it is believed that either Boko Haram or the Islamic State West Africa terrorist organizations, both active in the area, were responsible. Remembering the victims, the pope prayed that God would “welcome them in his peace and comfort their families and convert the hearts of those who commit such horrors, which seriously offend his name.” In his main talk, the pope reflected on blessings, which, he said, are “an essential dimension of prayer.” Noting that there is a “continual repetition of blessings” in the first pages of the Bible, the pope said that both God and humankind give blessings, and that a blessing “possesses a special power that accompanies the person who receives it throughout his or her entire life and disposes the person’s heart to allow God to change it.” Even though sin “altered” the beauty of God’s creation and converted the human being into “a degenerate creature capable of spreading evil and death in the world,” it did not take away the inherent goodness embedded in each person, he said. God did not make a mistake creating the world or people, he said. “The hope of the world lies entirely in God’s blessing: He continues to desire our good; he is the first, as the poet Peguy said, to continue to hope for our good,” the pope said, citing the French poet Charles Peguy, whose works were heavily influenced by Catholicism. Departing from his prepared remarks, Pope Francis drew a comparison between God’s love for all and the love of countless mothers who wait in long lines to visit their children in prison. “They do not stop loving their children, and they know that the people who pass by in the bus are thinking, ‘Ah, that is the mother of that prisoner,’” he said. “Yet they are not ashamed of this, or rather, they are ashamed, but they keep going because their child is more important than shame.” “Thus, for God, we are more important than all the sins we can commit because he is a father, he is a mother, he is pure love, he has blessed us forever. And he will never stop blessing us,” the pope said.
By Cindy Wooden VATICAN CITY (CNS) – One by one 11 senior churchmen, including two U.S. citizens – Cardinals Wilton D. Gregory of Washington and Silvano M. Tomasi, a former Vatican diplomat – knelt before Pope Francis to receive their red hats, a cardinal’s ring and a scroll formally declaring their new status and assigning them a “titular” church in Rome. But with the consistory Nov. 28 occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis actually created 13 new cardinals. Cardinals Jose F. Advincula of Capiz, Philippines, and Cornelius Sim, apostolic vicar of Brunei, did not attend the consistory because of COVID-19 travel restrictions; however, they are officially cardinals and will receive their birettas and rings at a later date, the Vatican said. In his homily at the prayer service, Pope Francis told the new cardinals that “the scarlet of a cardinal’s robes, which is the color of blood, can, for a worldly spirit, become the color of a secular ’eminence,'” the traditional title of respect for a cardinal. If that happens, he said, “you will no longer be a pastor close to your people. You will think of yourself only as ‘His Eminence.’ If you feel that, you are off the path.” For the cardinals, the pope said, the red must symbolize a wholehearted following of Jesus, who willingly gave his life on the cross to save humanity. According to canon law, cardinals are created when their names are made public “in the presence of the College of Cardinals.” While many Rome-based cardinals attended the consistory, more members of the college were “present” online.
The pandemic also meant the gathering was unusually small; each cardinal was accompanied by a priest-secretary and could invite a handful of guests, so there were only about 100 people in the congregation at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica. The new cardinals came from eight countries: Italy, Malta, the United States, Brunei, the Philippines, Mexico, Rwanda and Chile. Cardinal Gregory, like the other new cardinals coming from outside Europe, was tested for COVID-19 before flying to Rome and again upon arrival. Even after testing negative, he and the others were required to quarantine for 10 days and were tested again immediately before the consistory. In an interview with Catholic News Service, the cardinal said he hopes Pope Francis will find him to be “supportive, encouraging and trustworthy” in his role as a cardinal, but his primary ministry is still to be the archbishop of Washington. Of course, he said, he regrets that “my two sisters are not here, and the many people I know and love from Chicago and Belleville (Illinois) and Atlanta and Washington,” who were watching the livestream instead. One of Cardinal Tomasi’s guests was the pastor of his boyhood parish, San Rocco in Casoni di Mussolente, a town of fewer than 8,000 people in northern Italy. In the past 80 years, the cardinal told CNS, the parish has produced more than 100 priests and religious sisters, “and now also a cardinal. I hope it will help to continue the flourishing of vocations from the parish.” With the consistory the College of Cardinals now has 229 members, 128 of whom are under the age of 80 and eligible to enter a conclave to elect a new pope. Pope Francis has given the red hat to 57% of electors. With Cardinals Gregory and Tomasi, who was born in Italy but is a U.S. citizen, the number of U.S. cardinals rose to 16; nine of them are cardinal electors.
By Cindy Wooden VATICAN CITY (CNS) – In more than seven years as leader of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has issued numerous new laws and guidelines for handling accusations of clerical sexual abuse and its cover-up by church officials. He also has insisted that church leaders must take the lead as true shepherds and guardians to protect the vulnerable out of love for the Gospel, truth and justice – not because of papal mandates or legal coercion. The pope has also widened the scope of abuse to include not just sexual abuse but the abuse of power and of conscience and the corruption of authority when it is no longer lived as service but as the wielding of power. Like his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis has tried to be a role model: meeting with survivors, launching investigations, dismissing negligent or abusive clerics and tightening loopholes with the aim of fulfilling what St. John Paul II wrote in 2002, “there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young.” In a push for greater accountability, transparency and honesty, he has also shown what “mea culpa” looks like: admitting he made “serious mistakes” in his handling of clergy sexual abuse cases in Chile and expressing the “pain and shame” for the “crucified lives” of those who suffered abuse. While ignorance, complacency and denial remain primary accomplices in the crime of abuse, here are some of the significant measures and changes put forth by Pope Francis: – He set up a task force of qualified experts and canon lawyers in February 2020 to help bishops’ conferences and religious orders draw up or revise guidelines for the protection of minors, especially in countries experiencing extreme hardship, conflict or a lack of resources. It came ahead of a handbook prepared by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith clearly outlining leaders’ responsibilities and the procedures for handling allegations of abuse. – In December 2019, he issued a number of amendments to a 2001 law; he waived the obligation of secrecy for those who report having been sexually abused by a priest and for those who testify in a church trial or process having to do with clerical sexual abuse. Vatican officials are still obliged to maintain confidentiality but that does not prevent complying with civil laws, including mandatory reporting and following civil court orders. Pope Francis changed the definition of “child” from a person under 14 years of age to a person under 18 regarding what qualifies as “child pornography.” – In May 2019, Pope Francis issued “Vos estis lux mundi” (“You are the light of the world”) for the universal church revising and clarifying norms and procedures for holding bishops and religious superiors accountable. It requires all priests and religious to report suspected abuse or cover-ups and encourages any layperson to report through a now-mandated reporting “system” or office that must be set up in each diocese. It insists leaders will be held accountable not only for committing abuse themselves, but also for interfering with, covering up or failing to address abuse accusations of which they were aware. It also established that bishops and religious superiors are accountable for protecting seminarians, novices and members of religious orders from violence and sexual abuse stemming from an abuse of power. – Pope Francis approved a sweeping new law and set of clear safeguarding guidelines and procedures for Vatican City State and the Roman Curia in March 2019. Beefing up existing criminal laws, it is mandatory to report quickly suspected or known abuse to the Vatican tribunal and it covers all forms of physical, sexual and emotional abuse as well as serious forms of mistreatment, neglect, abandonment and exploitation against minors and vulnerable adults. – The pope made public in March 2019 his document, “Communis Vita” (Community Life), which amends canon law to include an almost automatic dismissal of religious who have been absent without authorization from their community and out of contact for at least 12 months. – To drive home that abuse and safeguarding require immediate, concrete action by the entire church and not just the pope, Pope Francis convened a four-day summit in February 2019 for the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences, representatives of religious orders and heads of Vatican dicasteries. By sharing experiences and best practices, the summit sought to inspire all church leaders to feel in solidarity with each other and above all with the victims, families and communities that have been wounded by the scandals and, therefore, to take urgent action. – After mandating an investigation into allegations of abuse in the church in Chile and admitting to making “serious mistakes in the assessment and perception of the situation,” Pope Francis called the nation’s bishops to Rome in May 2018. He admonished them for “grave defects” in handling abuse cases and requested all the bishops offer their resignations. He also apologized to and met with victims. – Pope Francis issued a motu proprio, “As a Loving Mother,” in 2016, expanding on canon law that allows for the removal of bishops and superiors for “grave reasons,” by including “negligence” in the exercise of one’s office, in particular in regards to the sexual abuse of minors, where even “the lack of diligence” is considered to be grave enough for potential dismissal. This, together with “Vos estis lux mundi” of 2019, the two documents are meant to correct what had been a lack of or unclear procedures for investigating the way a bishop or religious superior complies with norms and clearly expresses the consequences of noncompliance or cover-ups. – The pope sent a letter in February 2015 to the president of every bishops’ conference and religious superior ordering them to have safeguarding guidelines in place for handling cases of sexual abuse as called for in a 2011 letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He said it was each leader’s responsibility to verify and assure the safety of minors and vulnerable adults in parishes and church institutions as well as to listen to and care for survivors. – In November 2014, Pope Francis established a new board within the doctrinal congregation to review and speed up the process of hearing and ruling on appeals filed by priests laicized or otherwise disciplined in sexual abuse or other serious cases. – The pope had his first meeting with survivors of abuse by clergy in July 2014. He celebrated Mass and met privately with six men and women at the Vatican. He repeated calls for zero tolerance and accountability for the “despicable” crime of abuse and underlined the need for ongoing vigilance in priestly formation and for better policies, procedures and training on how to implement existing norms. – The pope formally established the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in March 2014. The body of experts, with input from survivors, is meant to make proposals and spearhead initiatives to improve safeguarding norms and procedures. It remains an advisory body for the pope and it offers concrete assistance to every level of the church worldwide.
By Dennis Sadowski CLEVELAND (CNS) – Prelates in the archdioceses and the diocese where Theodore McCarrick worked during his rise through the church’s hierarchical structure despite rumors of sexual impropriety welcomed a Vatican report regarding the onetime cardinal, saying it advances accountability and transparency regarding clergy sexual abuse within the church.
Church leaders in New York, Metuchen and Newark, New Jersey, and Washington said in statements Nov. 10 that while they had not yet read the entire 400-page report, they pledged to study it to better understand its implications for their jurisdictions as well as for the broader church. Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, where McCarrick was ordained a priest in 1958 and the first allegations about abuse were made against him in 2017, said the Vatican report “is a necessary step” in understanding the case surrounding the former cardinal. Cardinal Dolan credited the victim-survivors of the alleged abuse by McCarrick, now 90, who approached the New York Archdiocese with their concerns. “You took us at our word that we wanted to assist you and in so doing, you helped bring this matter to light, proving that anyone who has abused a minor, even a cardinal will be punished,” Cardinal Dolan said. In the Diocese of Metuchen, where McCarrick became its first bishop in 1982, Bishop James F. Checchio said in a letter to the diocese that the faith community had carried a heavy burden as the allegations were determined to be credible. “These burdens seemingly grew heavier with each day that followed as we learned the heart-wrenching truth of the crimes and sins of the past and wondered how Theodore McCarrick was still given greater responsibilities in the church, despite the rumors of his abusive actions with seminarians and young priests,” Bishop Checchio wrote. “While I am grateful to Pope Francis for ordering this study to arrive at the ‘truth’ of what happened, like everyone else, I am disgusted and appalled by what has taken place,” Bishop Checchio added. Meanwhile, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, where McCarrick became archbishop in 1986, called the report “a significant and powerful step forward in advancing accountability and transparency regarding sexual abuse.” “Beyond the victims themselves, failures by some leaders in the Catholic Church have wounded many, including the families and loved ones of victims and the faithful,” Cardinal Tobin said. “It is important to recognize that the church has made progress in responding to clergy abuse by implementing policies and programs to safeguard the faithful, especially the most vulnerable among us,” he added. Cardinal-designate Wilton D. Gregory of Washington said that disclosure of the action of church leaders in the U.S. and at the Vatican was essential to help bring healing, calling it an “an important, difficult and necessary document.” McCarrick became archbishop of Washington in January 2001, and was elevated to cardinal weeks later. He retired from his post as archbishop in 2006 at age 75. Cardinal-designate Gregory, who was installed as the archbishop of Washington in May 2019, pledged transparency and honesty in dealing with the abuse crisis that had shaken the country and the archdiocese. “By virtue of the simple fact that this investigation had to be conducted and this report had to be written, my heart hurts for all who will be shocked, saddened, scandalized and angered by the revelations contained therein,” Cardinal-designate Gregory said. The Diocese of Metuchen’s reaction to the release of the report included a detailed outline of events diocesan officials took to investigate McCarrick after allegations of sexual abuse against him became public in 2018. In response to those reports, the bishop said, Metuchen diocesan officials hired an independent law firm to oversee its own investigation and a review of its archives. The findings were sent to the Vatican as investigators there compiled the McCarrick report, he said. “In total, the report identified that seven individuals, who were adults at the time of their abuse, came forward to report allegations of abuse by McCarrick since the first allegation against him was received by the diocese in 2004,” the statement said. The diocese’s report also said that all abuse allegations were reported to local and state law enforcement authorities and the papal nuncio in Washington. The long-awaited Vatican report summarizes the actions of church officials, including earlier popes, that allowed McCarrick to rise through the church’s hierarchical structure to become a cardinal despite years of rumors of sexual impropriety. McCarrick used personal contacts, protestations of his innocence and a lack of church officials reporting and investigating accusations to become cardinal, according to the Vatican summary of its report. McCarrick resigned as cardinal in July 2018 after the allegations became public. He was dismissed from the clerical state in February 2019 by Pope Francis after a Vatican investigation into allegations that he had abused minors and engaged in sexual misconduct with adults. All four of the prelates in New York, Newark, Metuchen and Washington also urged anyone who has been abused by a priest, bishop or anyone else in the church to report their allegation to law enforcement and to church authorities.
(Contributing to this report was Mark Zimmermann in Washington.)
By Cindy Wooden VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The Vatican Secretariat of State has sent an explanatory note to nuncios around the world insisting that when Pope Francis spoke about civil unions, he was not changing or challenging “the doctrine of the church, which he has reaffirmed numerous times over the years.” The note, which was not signed, explained that the pope’s remarks about gay people in the recent film, “Francesco,” come from his responses to two separate questions in a 2019 interview for Mexico’s Televisa network. The pope’s comments were “edited and published as a single answer without the necessary contextualization,” the note said.
As Catholic News Service reported Oct. 26, when Pope Francis said gay people have a right to be in a family and that gay couples needed some form of civil law to protect their rights, he was not advocating any form of “marriage” or marriage rights for gay couples. Yet, in his documentary “Francesco,” director Evgeny Afineevsky presented the statements as if Pope Francis had been talking about the right of gay couples to form a family, including with children. Afineevsky, who a Vatican official said was never granted an on-camera interview with the pope, pulled the quotes about families and the quote about civil unions from the interview by Valentina Alazraki, correspondent Televisa, CNS had reported. The clips used in Afineevsky’s film put together quotes from three separate moments of the Televisa interview, so the pope appears to say: “They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it. What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered.” The note from the Secretariat of State also noted that Pope Francis repeatedly has insisted that gay unions cannot be equated to marriage, pointing to a 2014 interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. In the interview six years ago, Pope Francis was asked about moves across Europe to legalize gay marriage or adopt civil union laws. “Marriage is between a man and a woman,” he said. “Secular states want to validate civil unions to regulate different situations of cohabitation, driven by the need to regulate economic aspects between people, such as ensuring health care. These are cohabitation pacts of various kinds, of which I could not list the different forms.” “It is necessary to see the different cases and evaluate them in their variety,” he said, implying that some forms of civil unions would be acceptable. From the unedited interview with Televisa, the pope’s remarks to Corriere della Sera and similar distinctions he has made on other occasions, the Secretariat of State’s note said, “It is clear that Pope Francis was referring to particular state regulations, certainly not the doctrine of the church, which he has reaffirmed numerous times over the years.”
By Junno Arocho Esteves ASSISI, Italy (CNS) – Thousands sang and applauded as Italian teen Carlo Acutis was beatified in a town dear to him and to many Christians around the world: Assisi. During the Oct. 10 beatification Mass, Italian Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the papal legate for the Basilicas of St. Francis and St. Mary of the Angels in Assisi, read Pope Francis’ apostolic letter proclaiming Acutis’ “blessed,” the step before canonization. “With our apostolic authority, we grant that the venerable servant of God, Carlo Acutis, layman, who, with the enthusiasm of youth, cultivated a friendship with our Lord Jesus, placing the Eucharist and the witness of charity at the center of his life, henceforth shall be called blessed,” the pope decreed. After the reading of the apostolic letter, the newly beatified teen’s parents, Andrea Acutis and Antonia Salzano, processed toward the altar carrying a reliquary containing their son’s heart. The reliquary was engraved with one of the teen’s well-known quotes: “The Eucharist is my highway to heaven.” Pilgrims flocked both to the Basilica of St. Francis for the beatification Mass as well as to the Shrine of the Renunciation at the Church of St. Mary Major, where the newly beatified teen’s remains were on display for veneration. Men and women, boys and girls passed by the tomb quietly, some stopping to pray the “Our Father.” A young toddler blew a kiss goodbye to the young blessed as she passed by.
Known as the site where a young St. Francis renounced his father’s inheritance and embraced poverty, the shrine – like the city of Assisi and St. Francis himself – held a special place in Acutis’ heart. The teen loved St. Francis “very much,” his mother, Antonia Salzano, told Catholic News Service Oct. 9. St. Francis “was a very Eucharistic soul who used to attend Mass twice a day,” and her son sought to imitate that same Eucharistic devotion throughout his brief life. Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino of Assisi reflected on the link between the two saintly figures, and proclaimed that by “providential design, (St.) Francis and (Blessed) Carlo are now inseparable.” “Carlo’s life – always united to Jesus – his love for the Eucharist, his devotion to the Holy Virgin, his making friends with the poor, brought him closer to the spirituality of the Poor One,” St. Francis, Archbishop Sorrentino said at the end of Mass. “Both invite us to live according to the Gospel.” The liturgy was held inside the Basilica of St. Francis, but measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 meant that most of those attending sat outside on seats set three-feet apart, watching on big screens. Many young men and women came to Assisi for the beatification. For many of them, the fact that a normal teen could be beatified was a source of hope and inspiration. “With his life, Carlo made me see that despite the small or even great difficulties – like his illness – that we could live a full and happy life if we keep our eyes looking up toward heaven,” said 19-year-old Rosanna, who was among those attending the beatification. In his homily, Cardinal Vallini said that Acutis’ beatification “in the land of Francis of Assisi is good news, a strong proclamation that a young man of our time, one like many, was conquered by Christ and became a beacon of light for those who want to know him and follow his example.” Reflecting on the teen’s life, Cardinal Vallini said that like most young people his age, Carlo was a “normal, simple, spontaneous, friendly” teenager who used modern forms of communication to transmit the “values and beauty of the Gospel.” For him, “the internet was not just a means of escape, but a space for dialogue, knowledge, sharing and mutual respect that was to be used responsibly, without becoming slaves to it and rejecting digital bullying,” the cardinal said. Cardinal Vallini said that Blessed Acutis was a model of virtue for young men and women today, reminding them not to seek “gratification only in ephemeral successes but in the perennial values that Jesus proposes in the Gospel.” “He gave witness that faith does not distance us from life but immerses us more deeply in it and showed us the concrete way to live the joy of the Gospel,” the cardinal said. “It is up to us to follow it, attracted by the fascinating experience of Blessed Carlo, so that our lives may also shine with light and hope.”
By Carol Glatz VATICAN CITY (CNS) – In his new encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship,” Pope Francis reminds the faithful that “God’s plan for humanity has implications for every aspect of our lives,” said the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. These aspects range “from how we treat one another in our personal relationships, to how we organize and operate our societies and economies,” said edArchbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles in a statement Oct. 4, the day the encyclical was released by the Vatican. He called the pope’s teaching “profound and beautiful,” and said that “like ‘Laudato Si’’ before it, ‘Fratelli Tutti’ is an important contribution to the church’s rich tradition of social doctrine.” “In analyzing conditions in the world today, the Holy Father provides us with a powerful and urgent vision for the moral renewal of politics and political and economic institutions from the local level to the global level, calling us to build a common future that truly serves the good of the human person,” Archbishop Gomez said. “For the church, the pope is challenging us to overcome the individualism in our culture and to serve our neighbors in love,” he said, “seeing Jesus Christ in every person, and seeking a society of justice and mercy, compassion and mutual concern.” The archbishop prayed Catholics and all people of goodwill “will reflect on our Holy Father’s words here and enter into a new commitment to seek the unity of the human family.” Chicago Cardinal Blase J. Cupich said “Fratelli Tutti” is “destined to be a defining document and body of teaching for the pontificate of Pope Francis.” He called it a powerful document in which the pope “again reminds us why he is considered a preeminent moral teacher – and in an extraordinarily critical and fraught moment in human history.” “The pope begins by identifying the challenges that result from the fragmentation and division afflicting humanity on personal, national and international levels,” the cardinal said. “These include violence and the prospect of war and civil unrest, racism, the degradation of the environment, the ‘discarding’ of the poor and vulnerable, the crises prompted by the migration of desperate peoples, economies that benefit privileged groups,” Cardinal Cupich said, “and a stridency and coarseness that mark our public discourse and private communications and disable possibilities for real human connection.” He noted that Pope Francis also offers “a penetrating reflection” on the parable of the good Samaritan, “which engages every one of us and the global community in a self-examination of conscience: ‘Each day we have to decide whether to be good Samaritans or indifferent bystanders.’” The pontiff “occupies the remainder of the encyclical by reimagining a new and hopeful way of living together, one that is ultimately rooted in love and respect for the dignity of all people,” Cardinal Cupich said. “This new and hopeful vision involves an openness to and interest in those who are different, leading to the enrichment that comes in the exchange of gifts …, a better kind of politics …, and a culture of dialogue and friendship,” the cardinal added. “The vision he describes is in sharp contrast to a prevalent way of doing political business: revenge for past losses, the use of force, and a view of economic profit as paramount,” the cardinal said. Washington Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory said he believes the pope’s new encyclical “has come to us at precisely the right time.” “COVID-19 obviously has not yet ended. Many have spoken about ‘a new normal’ when the virus will have abated,” he said in a statement. “Rather I think that we should make this tragic pandemic an opportunity to think about ‘a new different’ in terms of what we value, who we value and that we are all in this together.
“Pope Francis repeatedly speaks to the renewal of ‘common good’ language and ‘common good’ actions,” Archbishop Gregory said. The pope provokes us to pursue a shared life and to seeing ‘the other’ as brother and sister, both as human beings and all as fellow creatures in ‘our common home,’” he added. “He invites us to build a ‘culture of encounter’ with pride in expressing how we are Catholics and also how we are enriched by dialogue with all people of goodwill.” In the Diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan, Bishop Paul J. Bradley Oct. 6 applauded the pope for his new encyclical, saying: “In these tumultuous and challenging times of great social unrest, we very much need to embrace Pope Francis’ beautiful teachings detailed in ‘Fratelli Tutti.’” “The Holy Father points to fraternity, dialogue and social friendship as the way to build a better, more just and peaceful world, with a resounding ‘no’ to war and global indifference,” he said. While the pope “details many of the world’s downfalls” – including war, economic uncertainty, climate change, immigration, violent conflict, nuclear weapons and inequality – “his message of hope is one that resonates with me and hopefully inspires all of us,” Bishop Bradley added. He encouraged all Catholics to read the encyclical and prayed “we may all take these teachings to heart, allowing, with renewed hope, God’s grace to strengthen us to put these teachings to practice in our lives.” The leadership of the four branches of the Maryknoll family – the Maryknoll Sisters, Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, Maryknoll Lay Missioners and Maryknoll Affiliates – issued a statement Oct. 6 welcoming this “historic encyclical on peace and dialogue that offers a vision for healing the world from deep social and economic divisions in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.” “As missioners dedicated to sharing the Gospel through love and hope by serving those most in need around the world, we can attest to the pressing challenges facing the world,” they said. “These are challenges that the Holy Father says can only be met when we come together in love as sisters and brothers, with care like that shown by the good Samaritan.” They added, “Our lived experience as Maryknoll missioners affirms the pope’s teaching of the parable as a lesson not solely about charity, but also a transformative encounter of mercy.”
Editor’s Note: Printed copies of the encyclical “Fratelli Tutti” in English can be ordered from: http://store.usccb.org/fratelli-tutti-p/7-678.htm. Printed copies in Spanish can be ordered from: http://store.usccb.org/fratelli-tutti-spanish-p/7-926.htm.
Por Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) — En su nueva encíclica, “Fratelli Tutti, sobre la fraternidad y la amistad social”, el papa Francisco recuerda a los fieles que “el plan de Dios para la humanidad tiene implicaciones para todos los aspectos de nuestras vidas”, expresó el presidente de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de Estados Unidos. Estos aspectos van “desde cómo nos tratamos unos a otros en nuestras relaciones personales, hasta cómo organizamos y operamos nuestras sociedades y economías”, explicó el arzobispo José H. Gómez de Los Ángeles en un comunicado el 4 de octubre, día en que el Vaticano publicó la encíclica.
El arzobispo Gómez llamó la enseñanza del papa “profunda y hermosa” y dijo que “como ‘Laudato Si’ antes de ella, ‘Fratelli Tutti’ es una contribución importante a la rica tradición de doctrina social de la iglesia”. “Al analizar las condiciones del mundo de hoy, el Santo Padre nos brinda una visión poderosa y urgente para la renovación moral de la política y las instituciones políticas y económicas desde el nivel local al nivel global, llamándonos a construir un futuro común que realmente sirva para el bien de la persona humana”, señaló el arzobispo Gómez. “Para la iglesia, el papa nos está desafiando a superar el individualismo en nuestra cultura y a servir a nuestro prójimo con amor”, dijo, “viendo a Jesucristo en cada persona, y buscando una sociedad de justicia y misericordia, compasión y preocupación mutua”. El cardenal Blase J. Cupich de Chicago expuso que “Fratelli Tutti” está “destinado a ser un documento determinante y un cuerpo de enseñanza para el pontificado del papa Francisco”. Lo llamó un documento poderoso en el que el papa “nos recuerda una vez más por qué se le considera un maestro moral prominente, en un momento extraordinariamente crítico y tenso de la historia humana”. “El papa comienza identificando los desafíos que resultan de la fragmentación y división que aflige a la humanidad a nivel personal, nacional, e internacional”, indicó el cardenal. “Estos incluyen la violencia y la perspectiva de guerra y disturbios civiles, el racismo, la degradación del medio ambiente, el ‘descarte’ de los pobres y vulnerables, las crisis provocadas por la migración de pueblos desesperados, economías que benefician a grupos privilegiados”, explicó el cardenal Cupich, agregando, “además de una discordancia y torpeza que marcan nuestro discurso público y comunicaciones privadas y deshabilitan las posibilidades de conexión humana real”. El pontífice “ocupa el resto de la encíclica re imaginando una nueva y esperanzadora forma de vivir juntos, una que se establece en el amor y respeto por la dignidad de todas las personas”, declaró el cardenal Cupich. “Esta nueva y esperanzadora visión implica una apertura e interés por aquellas personas que son diferentes, conduciendo al enriquecimiento que viene en el intercambio de regalos …, una mejor política …, y una cultura de diálogo y de amistad, “añadió el cardenal. “La visión que describe presenta un marcado contraste con la forma predominante de hacer negocios políticos: venganza por pérdidas pasadas, el uso de la fuerza, y una visión de ganancia económica como aspecto primordial”, expuso el cardenal. El arzobispo de Washington, Wilton D. Gregory, dijo que cree que la nueva encíclica del papa “ha llegado a nosotros precisamente en el momento adecuado”. “El COVID-19 obviamente aún no ha terminado. Muchos han hablado de ‘una nueva normalidad’ cuando el virus haya sido abatido”, expresó en un comunicado. “Más bien creo que deberíamos hacer de esta trágica pandemia una oportunidad para pensar en ‘una nueva diferencia’ en términos de lo que valoramos, a quién valoramos, y que todos estamos juntos en esto”. “El papa Francisco habla repetidamente de la renovación del lenguaje del ‘bien común’ y las acciones del ‘bien común'”, explicó el arzobispo Gregory. El papa nos incita a seguir una vida compartida y a ver al ‘otro’ como hermano y hermana, como seres humanos y todos como semejantes en ‘nuestra casa común'”, añadió. “Nos invita a construir una ‘cultura de encuentro’ con orgullo de expresar que somos católicos y también cómo nos enriquece el diálogo con todas las personas de buena voluntad”. En la Diócesis de Kalamazoo, Michigan, el obispo Paul J. Bradley el 6 de octubre aplaudió al papa por su nueva encíclica, diciendo: “En estos tiempos tumultuosos y desafiantes de gran malestar social, necesitamos abrazar las hermosas enseñanzas detalladas por el papa Francisco en ‘Fratelli Tutti'”. “El Santo Padre apunta a la fraternidad, al diálogo, y la amistad social como el camino para construir un mundo mejor, más justo y pacífico, con un rotundo ‘no’ a la guerra y la indiferencia global”, declaró. Si bien el papa “detalla muchas de las caídas del mundo”, incluidas la guerra, la incertidumbre económica, el cambio climático, la inmigración, los conflictos violentos, las armas nucleares, y la desigualdad, “su mensaje de esperanza es uno que resuena en mí y esperemos que nos inspire a todos”, agregó el obispo Bradley. El obispo Bradley animó a todos los católicos a leer la encíclica y rezó para que “todos tomemos en serio estas enseñanzas, permitiendo, con renovada esperanza, que la gracia de Dios nos fortalezca para poner estas enseñanzas en práctica en nuestras vidas”. El liderazgo de las cuatro ramas de la familia Maryknoll — las Hermanas Maryknoll, los Padres y Hermanos Maryknoll, los Misioneros Laicos Maryknoll y los Afiliados Maryknoll — emitieron un comunicado el 6 de octubre dando la bienvenida a esta “encíclica histórica sobre la paz y el diálogo que ofrece una visión de sanación al mundo de las profundas divisiones sociales y económicas en el momento de la pandemia del COVID-19”. “Como misioneros dedicados a compartir el Evangelio a través del amor y la esperanza al servir a los más necesitados en todo el mundo, podemos dar fe de los desafíos urgentes que enfrenta el mundo”, indicaron. “Estos son desafíos que el Santo Padre dice que solo se pueden enfrentar cuando nos unimos en el amor como hermanas y hermanos, con un cuidado como el del buen samaritano”. Agregaron: “Nuestra experiencia vivida como misioneros de Maryknoll afirma la enseñanza del papa de la parábola como una lección no solo sobre la caridad, sino también como un encuentro transformador de misericordia”. El 8 de octubre, la Oficina Maryknoll para Asuntos Globales publicó una guía de estudio de seis páginas para “Fratelli Tutti”, que ofrece puntos clave y citas de cada capítulo de la encíclica, junto con preguntas de reflexión y dos oraciones del papa Francisco. Esta guía se puede descargar en https://maryknollogc.org. “La visión esperanzadora de unidad global que ofrece el papa Francisco en ‘Fratelli Tutti’ es fundamental para nuestro tiempo, en el que nos enfrentamos a grandes desafíos y divisiones sociales”, expuso Susan Gunn, directora de la Oficina Maryknoll para Asuntos Globales. “Estamos entusiasmados de compartir esta guía, que esperamos que permita a las personas y a grupos pequeños aprender las enseñanzas del papa Francisco y utilizarlas para construir paz y solidaridad en sus relaciones, la comunidad, y el mundo”, comentó.
By Cindy Wooden VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis asked members of the United Nations how they think they can respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and build a more peaceful, more just world when many of their countries spend billions on military weapons and when their treatment of the unborn, of refugees and of women shows so little respect for human life. “We must ask ourselves if the principal threats to peace and security – poverty, epidemics, terrorism and so many others – can be effectively countered when the arms race, including nuclear weapons, continues to squander precious resources that could better be used to benefit the integral development of peoples and protect the natural environment,” the pope said in his video address, which was broadcast Sept. 25. On the fifth anniversary of his visit to the U.N. in New York, Pope Francis returned to themes he has repeated since the COVID-19 pandemic began: Humanity faces a choice between trying to go back to an often unjust “normal” or taking the opportunity to rethink economic and political policies, putting the good of all people and the environment ahead of concern for maintaining the lifestyles of wealthy individuals and nations. He drew particular attention to the pandemic’s impact on children, “including unaccompanied young migrants and refugees,” as well as to reports that “violence against children, including the horrible scourge of child abuse and pornography, has also dramatically increased.” With millions of children still out of school, he said, there is a risk of “an increase in child labor, exploitation, abuse and malnutrition.”
“Sad to say, some countries and international institutions are also promoting abortion as one of the so-called ‘essential services’ provided in the humanitarian response to the pandemic,” he said. “It is troubling to see how simple and convenient it has become for some to deny the existence of a human life as a solution to problems that can and must be solved for both the mother and her unborn child.” Pope Francis insisted that addressing the pandemic and building a more just and equitable world involves looking at every aspect of national and international life. The pandemic “can represent a concrete opportunity for conversion, for transformation, for rethinking our way of life and our economic and social systems, which are widening the gap between rich and poor based on an unjust distribution of resources,” he said. Or “the pandemic can be the occasion for a ‘defensive retreat’ into greater individualism and elitism.” The latter path, he said, “emphasizes self-sufficiency, nationalism, protectionism, individualism and isolation; it excludes the poor, the vulnerable and those dwelling on the peripheries of life. That path would certainly be detrimental to the whole community, causing self-inflicted wounds on everyone. It must not prevail.” When companies, including those being assisted by government handouts during the pandemic, focus more on profits than on job creation, they contribute to the “throwaway culture,” which treats people as less important than wealth, he said. “At the origin of this throwaway culture is a gross lack of respect for human dignity, the promotion of ideologies with reductive understandings of the human person, a denial of the universality of fundamental human rights, and a craving for absolute power and control that is widespread in today’s society,” he said. “Let us name this for what it is: an attack against humanity itself.” The pope called on countries to work together to fulfill the ideals upon which the U.N. was founded 75 years ago, particular in peacemaking, defending human rights and caring for the world’s poorest and most disadvantaged. “It is in fact painful to see the number of fundamental human rights that in our day continue to be violated with impunity,” he said, speaking of a “frightening picture of a humanity abused, wounded, deprived of dignity, freedom and hope for the future.” “Religious believers continue to endure every kind of persecution, including genocide, because of their beliefs,” he said. “We Christians, too, are victims of this: how many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world are suffering, forced at times to flee from their ancestral lands, cut off from their rich history and culture.” But the pope also drew special attention to situation of refugees, migrants and the internally displaced fleeing conflict, persecution and extreme poverty. In an apparent reference to the situation in the Mediterranean, he denounced how “thousands are intercepted at sea and forcibly returned to detention camps, where they meet with torture and abuse. Many of these become victims of human trafficking, sexual slavery or forced labor, exploited in degrading jobs and denied a just wage. This is intolerable, yet intentionally ignored by many!” Nations have entered into regional and international agreements to assist migrants and refugees, but often are lacking the political support at home to make them a reality or the countries just “shirk their responsibilities and commitments,” he said. “The pandemic has shown us that we cannot live without one another, or worse still, (be) pitted against one another,” Pope Francis insisted. “The United Nations was established to bring nations together, to be a bridge between peoples. Let us make good use of this institution in order to transform the challenge that lies before us into an opportunity to build together, once more, the future we all desire.”