AI: The church's response
Father Philip Larrey, a professor of philosophy at Rome's Pontifical Lateran University talks about the challenges and promises of artificial intelligence.
Posted on 03/24/2023 08:30 AM (USCCB News)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In a world where "there is no shortage of hotbeds of hatred and revenge," Pope Francis told priests and seminarians that "we confessors must multiply the 'hotbeds of mercy,'" by making it easy for people to access the sacrament of reconciliation.
"We are in a supernatural struggle" with evil, the pope said, "even though we already know the final outcome will be Christ's victory over the powers of evil. This victory truly takes place every time a penitent is absolved. Nothing drives away and defeats evil more than divine mercy."
Pope Francis was speaking March 23 with priests and seminarians attending a course at the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican tribunal dealing with matters of conscience, the sacrament of reconciliation and indulgences, and with priests who offer confession at the major basilicas of Rome.
He told them, "If someone doesn't feel like being a giver of the mercy he received from Jesus, don't enter the confessional."
The pope said he had told Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, which assigns confessors to the major basilicas of Rome, that one of the confessors "listens and rebukes, rebukes and then gives you a penance that cannot be done. Please, this will not do, no. Mercy. You are there to forgive and to say something so that the person can move forward renewed by forgiveness."
"You are there to forgive: put that in your heart," the pope told them.
While insisting individual confession is "the privileged way to go, because it fosters a personal encounter with divine mercy, which every repentant heart awaits," the pope also encouraged the priests to offer communal celebrations "on some occasions," as occurred around the world during the Coronavirus pandemic.
As ministers of the church, he said, a priest hearing confession must have obvious "evangelical attitudes," including: "First of all, welcoming everyone without prejudice, because only God knows what grace can work in the hearts at any time; then listening to your brother or sister with the ear of the heart, wounded like Christ's heart; absolving penitents, generously dispensing God's forgiveness; and accompanying the penitent's journey without forcing it, keeping the pace of the faithful with constant patience and prayer."
As he often does, Pope Francis pleaded with the priests to be generous with the time they are available for confessions since "the church's evangelizing mission passes in large part through the rediscovery of the gift of confession, also in view of the approaching jubilee of 2025."
Every cathedral, every shrine and every deanery or cluster of parishes should have an ample schedule of confession times, he said.
"If mercy is the mission of the church, we must facilitate the faithful's access to this 'encounter of love' as much as possible," he said, taking great care when preparing children for their first confession and, especially, when ministering to the sick and dying.
"When not much more can be done to restore the body," he said, "much can and always must be done for the health of the soul."
Especially in an individual confession, he said, God can "caress each individual sinner with his mercy. The Shepherd, and he alone, knows and loves his sheep one by one, especially the weakest and most wounded."
Pope Francis told the seminarians and priests that if they felt they had a vocation as a psychologist or psychoanalyst, "exercise it elsewhere."
And, he said, when a penitent does not seem to be sorry for his or her sins, the priest needs to ask questions that can budge open the heart.
"Are you repentant?" the pope imagined a priest saying. "No," was the imagined response. "But doesn't that weigh you down?"
A priest always must look "for the door to enter with forgiveness," he said. "And when one cannot enter by the door, one enters through the window; but one always must try to enter with forgiveness. With magnanimous forgiveness."
Telling the group that he had an appointment for his own confession at 3 p.m. that day, Pope Francis said God is "abundant; he always forgives more, always!"
Posted on 03/23/2023 23:11 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Washington D.C., Mar 23, 2023 / 15:11 pm (CNA).
Pope Francis on Thursday declared a priest, three religious sisters, and two laywomen as venerable servants of God, moving them each a step closer to canonization.
“Venerable” is the title given to a candidate for sainthood whose cause has not yet reached the beatification stage but whose heroic virtue has been declared by the pope. Each now needs a miracle attributed to his or her intercession to be approved by the Vatican in order to be beatified.
Here are their stories:
Father Carlo Crespi Croci served as a priest for the Salesian Society of St. John Bosco throughout the 1900s. Born in Legnano, Italy, he died in Cuenca, Ecuador, where he evangelized the Catholic faith. He spent his time spreading the faith to young people and devoted himself to offering confession, at times spending 17 hours a day in the confessional, according to the Vatican. He was also a scientist who worked in the fields of botany and archaeology.
Mother Maria Caterina Flanagan served as a religious sister for the Order of the Most Holy Saviour, also known as the Bridgettines. Born in London, she served in Stockholm, Sweden, where she was engaged in dialogue with the Lutheran community. She led a life “characterized by her total availability and sincere fidelity to God’s providence,” according to the Order of St. Bridget.
Sister Leonilde of San Giovanni Battista was a religious sister for the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Born in Lisignano, Italy, she spent her days teaching and serving the poor, according to the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication. During the Second World War, she went without many necessities so she could donate to the poor.
Sister María do Monte Pereira, from Funchal, Portugal, served as a religious sister of the Congregation of the Hospitaller Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She spent her life caring for the sick.
Maria Domenica Lazzeri was a lay Catholic from Capriana, Italy. In her childhood, she served the poor and suffering and cared for her sick mother. She then fell ill herself with severe anorexia that left her bedridden from age 19 until her death at the age of 33. In 1835, it is believed, she received the stigmata on her hands, her feet, and her ribcage as well as the sign of the crown of thorns on her head, which dripped blood every Friday, according to the Vatican. She reportedly lived most of the time she was bedridden without eating any food, except for the holy Eucharist.
Teresa Enríquez de Alvarado was a lay Catholic and mother. Born to a noble Spanish family, she was an attendant to Queen Isabella of Castile. She is known for having donated much of her wealth to charity, caring for the sick and the poor, and educating boys who were orphaned from the plague. She worked to revive the worship and adoration of the Eucharist.
Posted on 03/23/2023 08:30 AM (USCCB News)
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Doctrine has issued a statement providing principles for evaluating some newer methods and technologies for disposition of the bodies of the deceased. The USCCB’s Administrative Committee approved the issuance of the statement on March 15.
In their statement, the doctrine committee affirms that every human being has been created in the image of God and has an inherent dignity and worth. Furthermore, since “every man and woman is a unity of body and soul, respect for the person necessarily includes respect for the body.” The Church considers burial to be “the most appropriate way of manifesting reverence for the body of the deceased,” as it “clearly expresses our faith and hope in the resurrection of the body.” While the Church permits cremation unless it is chosen for reasons contrary to the Catholic faith, the preferred method is burial.
Applying the basic principles found in the Instruction regarding Burial of the Deceased and the Conservation of the Ashes in the Case of Cremation (Ad resurgendum cum Christo) issued by the then-Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2016, the committee evaluates the two most prominent newer methods for disposition of bodily remains that are proposed as alternatives to burial and cremation -- alkaline hydrolysis and human composting -- and concludes that they fail to satisfy the Church’s requirements for proper respect for the bodies of the dead. After the alkaline hydrolysis process, there are about 100 gallons of liquid into which the greater part of the body has been dissolved and this liquid is treated as wastewater. At the end of the human composting process, the body has completely decomposed along with accompanying plant matter to yield a single mass of compost, with nothing distinguishably left of the body to be laid to rest in a sacred place.
The doctrine committee concludes their statement by recalling that the Catholic faith teaches us that our ultimate destiny as human beings includes our bodiliness: “We are therefore obliged to respect our bodily existence throughout our lives and to respect the bodies of the deceased when their earthly lives have come to an end. The way that we treat the bodies of our beloved dead must always bear witness to our faith in and our hope for what God has promised us.”
The committee’s full statement may be read here: https://www.usccb.org/resources/On Proper Disposition 2023-03-20.pdf.
Posted on 03/23/2023 08:30 AM (USCCB News)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The people behind chatbots are asking questions of priests and ethicists rather than turning to their artificially intelligent creations. They want to know: What is consciousness? What is the nature of humanity? What is the purpose of life?
According to Father Phillip Larrey, dean of the philosophy department at the Rome's Pontifical Lateran University, Silicon Valley techies are posing those questions to ethicists and religious leaders as artificial intelligence develops rapidly and is used in myriad ways impacting people's daily lives.
In a conversation with Catholic News Service March 21, Father Larrey, a native of Mountain View, California, and author of two books on the rise of AI, reflected on how society should engage with AI as it becomes increasingly embedded in the lives of ordinary people through accessible technologies.
AI-operated programs such as ChatGPT, a popular software created by the software company OpenAI, "can access data to an enormous extent that for human beings is no longer possible," said Father Larrey. "That is why as a species we tend to look at AI with a certain fear, because we fear the unknown."
An artificially intelligent chatbot, ChatGPT uses learning algorithms to consume, produce and infer information for human users. The software is intended to mimic human conversation and can instantaneously produce essays and articles, write programming code and give people advice based on information input by users.
It's most sophisticated model, GPT4, was released for public use March 14.
Father Larrey said there are several "catastrophic risks" to unchecked and widespread AI use, such as its potential for spreading disinformation and creating code that can be used by hackers.
He also identified potential adverse effects of AI for everyday users, noting that minors can ask chatbots for advice in committing illicit activities and students can use them to complete their assignments without performing the work of learning.
A major downside of AI, he said, is that "we become dependent on the software, and we become lazy. We no longer think things out for ourselves, we turn to the machine."
Yet Father Larrey said that rejecting AI technology is a mistake. In particular, he pointed to the decision of some universities to ban the use of ChatGPT, noting that educators "are going to have to learn how to incorporate this into how they teach, what they test for, and how we can use these tools to our advantage."
"I don't think you can put the genie back in the bottle," he said. "The market motivation is so strong that you're not going to stop it."
In January, Microsoft announced a multiyear investment in OpenAI, which the New York Times and other media reported would total $10 billion. Other tech companies, including Google and Amazon, are testing their own AI-powered products to compete with existing software on the market.
That's why Father Larrey said conversations on AI must shift to what Pope Francis calls "person-centered AI." The pope, he said, "is insisting that you need to put the human person at the center of this technology."
In January, Pope Francis addressed tech-industry leaders from companies such as Microsoft and IBM as well as members of the Jewish and Muslim communities during a conference on ethics in AI at the Vatican.
The pope urged them to "ensure that the discriminatory use of these instruments does not take root at the expense of the most fragile and excluded" and gave an example of AI making visa decisions for asylum-seekers based on generalized data.
"It is not acceptable that the decision about someone's life and future be entrusted to an algorithm," said the pope.
At the end of the conference, Catholic, Jewish and Muslim representatives signed a declaration calling on AI researchers to engage with ethicists and religious leaders to develop a framework for the ethical use of AI.
"On social media and other technologies that came very quickly, we were trying to catch up and we weren't exactly sure how to do this," said Father Larrey.
But with AI, he said, the tech companies themselves are "beginning to think about how to structure some guidelines and some concerns so that this technology will be used for human well-being and human flourishing."
Tech companies such as Microsoft are "looking for philosophers and theologians" to respond to those questions, he said. "They are looking for people who know how to think."
"These people, who are really changing the future of humanity, they want to talk with us, they want to talk with priests, they especially want to talk with Pope Francis," he said. "They're looking for guidance and they're looking for support. They're looking for some way to make this help people and not harm people."
Some of those guidelines, he noted, include adding parental controls to technology so that parents can monitor how their children are using AI-powered devices, or establishing structures so that human decision-making is not cut out of the equation when AI is also used, such as when making a legal decision using generalized data.
Aware of the challenges AI poses to society, Father Larrey said he is still optimistic people can use AI responsibly and for the betterment of humanity if it is developed properly.
"I think that people will win over the technology," he said. "It's not without perils, it's not without difficulties."
And within the church, Father Larrey said he thinks "priests will be one of the last to be substituted (by AI), even though they have AI's that will hear your confession and celebrate Mass."
"People want to talk with a priest or a sister, they want the experience of the religious person that they can't get in an AI," he said.
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Contributing to this story was Robert Duncan in Rome.
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Follow McLellan on Twitter: @McLellan_Js
Posted on 03/22/2023 16:36 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
CNA Newsroom, Mar 22, 2023 / 08:36 am (CNA).
Following a report that Pope Francis will appoint Archbishop Georg Gänswein as the Vatican’s next ambassador to Costa Rica, sources inside the Vatican have told CNA Deutsch that the news was “speculation at best.”
The Spanish news site Religión Digital reported Tuesday that Benedict XVI’s longtime private secretary is set to serve as the next apostolic nuncio to the Central American nation.
According to “ecclesiastical sources,” the Holy See contacted the country’s state authorities last week to make the appointment, the online portal said — adding that the current apostolic nuncio, Monsignor Bruno Musaro, is about to turn 75 and is headed for retirement.
Several media outlets picked up news of Gänswein’s transfer to Costa Rica. The Vatican has so far not commented. However, sources told CNA’s German-language partner agency CNA Deutsch that the information was little more than speculation.
Gänswein’s future role has been the subject of rumor and gossip across Rome and the Church in Germany for many days. The eloquent prelate is fluent in several languages, including German and Italian.
Hailing from the Black Forest region of Germany, the son of a blacksmith was ordained a priest in 1984 by Archbishop Oskar Saier in Freiburg and holds a doctorate in canon law from Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich.
A longtime secretary to Benedict, Gänswein also served as prefect of the Papal Household to both Benedict and his successor, Pope Francis, until February 2020.
Pope Francis received Gänswein in an audience in January.
Currently, the 66-year-old is serving as executor of Benedict XVI’s will and has been tracking down relatives of the retired pontiff, who died on Dec. 31, 2022.
Posted on 03/22/2023 14:40 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Vatican City, Mar 22, 2023 / 06:40 am (CNA).
Pope Francis has invited Catholics to annually renew an act of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on March 25.
The solemnity of the Annunciation on Saturday marks one year since Pope Francis consecrated Russia and Ukraine to the Blessed Virgin Mary in St. Peter’s Basilica with a prayer asking for peace in the world.
At the end of his general audience on March 22, the pope recalled his historic act of consecration and called on parish communities and prayer groups to annually renew the Marian consecration.
“Saturday will mark the solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, and our thoughts turn to March 25 last year when, in union with all the bishops of the world, we consecrated the Church and humanity, especially Russia and Ukraine, to the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” Pope Francis said.
“Let us not tire of entrusting the cause of peace to the Queen of Peace,” he said. “Therefore, I would like to invite each believer and community, especially prayer groups, to renew every March 25 the act of consecration to Our Lady, so that she, who is Mother, may guard us all in unity and peace.”
Pope Francis also urged people not to forget to pray for “martyred Ukraine, which is suffering so much.”
Last year, Pope Francis asked all the bishops of the world to join him in consecrating Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, one month after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
From the tip of Florida to Seattle, every U.S. diocese participated in the consecration in one form or another. The bishop of Fairbanks prayed the consecration on the shores of the Bering Sea, facing Russia, his diocese’s neighbor just a few hundred miles to the west.
The act of consecration was also read simultaneously by Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal.
In Moscow, Catholics tuned in and prayed along with a live broadcast of the pope’s consecration from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
The Virgin Mary specifically asked that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart in the 1917 apparitions at Fatima.
The Vatican’s Dicastery for Divine Worship defines consecration to Mary as an overt recognition of the “singular role of Mary in the mystery of Christ and of the Church, of the universal and exemplary importance of her witness to the Gospel, of trust in her intercession, and of the efficacy of her patronage.”
In the past, several popes have consecrated the Church and world to Mary. Pope Pius XII consecrated the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Oct. 31, 1942.
St. John Paul II — who consecrated the entire Church and world to Mary three times during his pontificate — taught that by consecrating oneself to Mary, we accept her help in offering ourselves fully to Christ.
Before praying the consecration last year, Pope Francis explained that it is “an act of complete trust on the part of children who, amid the tribulation of this cruel and senseless war that threatens our world, turn to their Mother, reposing all their fears and pain in her heart and abandoning themselves to her.”
“It means placing in that pure and undefiled heart, where God is mirrored, the inestimable goods of fraternity and peace, all that we have and are, so that she, the Mother whom the Lord has given us, may protect us and watch over us.”
Posted on 03/22/2023 13:20 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Vatican City, Mar 22, 2023 / 05:20 am (CNA).
To effectively witness to the Gospel, Christians need to be consistent in what they believe, how they live, and what they preach, Pope Francis said Wednesday.
“The witness of an authentically Christian life involves a journey to holiness,” Pope Francis said on March 22.
Speaking at his weekly audience in St. Peter’s Square, the pope underlined that Christian witness must include “professed faith” of what the Church teaches that transforms both one’s relationships and “the values that determine our choices.”
“Witness, therefore, cannot be separated from consistency between what one believes, what one proclaims, and how one lives,” he said.
“A person is credible if there is harmony between what he believes and how he lives. Many Christians only say they believe, but live something else … and this is hypocrisy.”
The pope asked the crowd to reflect on three questions first posed by Paul VI in his apostolic exhortation on evangelization in the modern world, Evangelii Nuntiandi: “Do you believe what you are proclaiming? Do you live what you believe? Do you preach what you live?”
Pope Francis emphasized that holiness is “not reserved for a few” but is “a gift from God that demands to be received and made to bear fruit for ourselves and for others.”
“Paul VI teaches that the zeal for evangelization springs from holiness, springs from a heart that is full of God,” he said.
“Nourished by prayer and above all by love for the Eucharist, evangelization, in turn, increases holiness in those who carry it out.”
Because of the importance of bearing witness to the Gospel, Pope Francis said that it is necessary for the Church to constantly be “evangelizing herself.”
“Indeed, ‘she needs to listen unceasingly to what she must believe, to her reasons for hoping, to the new commandment of love. She is the people of God immersed in the world, and often tempted by idols … and she always needs to hear the proclamation of the mighty works of God … this means that she has a constant need of being evangelized if she wishes to retain freshness, vigor, and strength in order to proclaim the Gospel,’” he said, quoting Evangelii Nuntiandi.
“A Church that evangelizes herself in order to evangelize is a Church that, guided by the Holy Spirit, is required to walk a demanding path of continuous conversion and renewal,” he added.
Pope Francis arrived at the general audience in the popemobile to a Florentine flag corps performance by a colorfully-clothed group that preserves the music and traditions from Tuscany’s medieval and Renaissance history.
At the end of the audience, the pope blessed a large bell engraved with the words “Voice of the Unborn,” which will be installed in Lusaka, Zambia.
The giant bell was forged in the workshop of Jan Felczyński in Przemyśl, Poland, as part of an initiative by the Polish Yes to Life foundation. Pope Francis has previously blessed “Voice of the Unborn” bells for Poland, Ecuador, and Ukraine.
Francis called the bell a “sign of the need to protect human life from conception to natural death.”
“Let its sound carry the message that every life is sacred and inviolable. I bless you from my heart,” he said.
Pope Francis also recalled the upcoming anniversary of his consecration of Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Virgin Mary on March 25, the solemnity of the Annunciation.
“Let us not tire of entrusting the cause of peace to the Queen of Peace,” the pope said.
“Therefore, I would like to invite each believer and community, especially prayer groups, to renew every March 25 the act of consecration to Our Lady, so that she, who is Mother, may guard us all in unity and peace.”
Posted on 03/22/2023 08:30 AM (USCCB News)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To evangelize well, the faithful need to dialogue with God, let the Holy Spirit renew their hearts and lives, and then dialogue with today's world, Pope Francis said.
The Holy Spirit is "the protagonist of evangelization. Without the Holy Spirit we will only be advertising the church," he said during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square March 22.
The church, too, always must be "evangelizing herself" or else "it remains a museum piece," he said.
The pope continued his series of talks about "the passion for evangelization: the apostolic zeal of the believer" by reflecting on St. Paul VI's apostolic exhortation "Evangelii Nuntiandi" (On Evangelization in the Modern World) and its emphasis on witnessing to Christ.
"You cannot evangelize without witness -- the witness of the personal encounter with Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word in which salvation is fulfilled," he said.
"Witness also includes professed faith, that is, convinced and manifest adherence to God the father, son and Holy Spirit, who created and redeemed us out of love," he said.
And, he said, it is a faith "that transforms us, that transforms our relationships, the criteria and the values that determine our choices. Witness, therefore, cannot be separated from consistency between what one believes and what one proclaims."
"A person is credible if there is harmony between what they believe and live, how they believe and live," the pope said. Anything else is hypocrisy.
"Every one of us is required to respond to three fundamental questions, posed in this way by St. Paul VI: 'Do you believe what you are proclaiming? Do you live what you believe? Do you preach what you live?'" the pope said.
"We cannot be satisfied with easy, pre-packaged answers," he said. "We are called upon to accept the risk, albeit destabilized, of the search, trusting fully in the action of the Holy Spirit who works in each one of us, driving us ever further: beyond our boundaries, beyond our barriers, beyond our limits, of any type."
St. Paul VI, he said, "teaches that the zeal for evangelization springs from holiness which springs from a heart filled with God. Nourished by prayer and, above all, by love for the Eucharist, evangelization in turn increases holiness in the people who carry it out."
"Without holiness, the word of the evangelizer 'will have difficulty in touching the heart of modern man' and 'risks being vain and sterile'" because it is just a string of empty words, he said, quoting St. Paul's exhortation.
Evangelization is addressed not only to others "but also ourselves, believers in Christ and active members of the people of God," Pope Francis said. "We have to convert every day, receive the word of God and change our life each day, this is how you evangelize the heart."
The Catholic Church, "which is the people of God immersed in the world," is often tempted by many idols, therefore, "she always needs to hear the proclamation of the mighty works of God," to pray and feel the power of the Holy Spirit, which changes people's hearts, he said.
"A church that evangelizes herself in order to evangelize is a church that, guided by the Holy Spirit, is required to walk a demanding path of conversion and renewal," he said.
This includes "the ability to change the ways of understanding and living its evangelizing presence in history, avoiding taking refuge in the protected zones of the logic of 'it has always been done this way' (which) are shelters that make the church fall ill," he said.
"The church must always go forward, it must continually grow," he added. "This way it stays young."
At the end of the audience, the pope underlined the sanctity of all human life. He greeted the faithful from Poland, which celebrates the Day for the Sanctity of Life March 25.
"As a sign of the need to protect human life from conception to its natural end, the Yes to Life Foundation is giving to Zambia the 'Voice of the Unborn' bell, which I blessed this morning," he said.
"May its sound carry the message that every life is sacred and inviolable," he added.
Posted on 03/21/2023 22:30 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Rome, Italy, Mar 21, 2023 / 14:30 pm (CNA).
Five German cousins of the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI are the direct heirs to his personal property, the pope’s personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, told Italian media after a Mass celebrated in Rome on Sunday at Santa Maria Consolatrice parish, Cardinal Ratzinger’s titular church.
Benedict XVI died Dec. 31, 2022.
The archbishop explained that he thought there were two direct heirs. However, he was surprised to learn that there are three more, hitherto unknown. “This has been very interesting for me. I thought he had two relatives, two cousins, but there are five cousins in total,” he said.
“By law I have to write to the cousins who are the closest relatives, and also by law I have to ask them: ‘Do you accept the inheritance or do you not accept it?’” he told various Italian national media.
In addition, in a statement to the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, Gänswein noted that “other personal items, from watches to pens, from paintings to liturgical items, were included in a list meticulously drawn up by Benedict XVI before he died.”
He recounted that part of these personal items have been delivered to people close to him: “He hasn’t forgotten anyone; collaborators, secretaries, seminarians, students, drivers, parish priests, friends.”
Gänswein also explained that the rights to his books will remain with the Vatican and a portion of them will go to the Joseph Ratzinger Vatican Foundation.
As for the most personal documents of the pope emeritus, such as letters and notes, his former secretary confirmed that according to the will of Benedict XVI, they have been destroyed.
Gänswein clarified that there are no longer any unpublished writings of the pope emeritus and that Benedict XVI’s last book is “What Is Christianity?” published posthumously in January.
“A shame? Yes, I told him that, too, but he gave me this instruction, there is no going back. There are no unpublished writings left,” Gänswein affirmed.
Finally, he spoke about his future and noted that “the Catholic Church is vast geographically, but also culturally.”
“Pope Francis has not yet given me any responsibilities. He must reflect and then he will tell me. I am available for the Church, and I am loyal and faithful,” he concluded.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Posted on 03/21/2023 21:30 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Washington D.C., Mar 21, 2023 / 13:30 pm (CNA).
Disney will release a new documentary April 5 titled “The Pope Answers,” airing an extended conversation between Pope Francis and 10 members of Generation Z, discussing the Church’s stance on LGBTQ+ issues, abortion, clergy abuse, feminism, and more.
Shot in Rome and directed by left-leaning Spanish filmmakers Jordi Évole and Marius Sanchez, the documentary is entirely in Spanish and will be released exclusively on Hulu in the U.S.
Évole’s production company Producciones del Barrio (Neighborhood Productions) is known for such documentaries as “Mr. Trump, Pardon the Interruption,” investigating the impact of Trump’s border policies on Hispanic communities, and “What You Give Me,” which explores the meaning of life with the late Spanish musician Pau Dones.
Évole is also known for hosting, directing, and producing the Spanish news show “Salvados” (“Saved,” 2008-2019), which sparked controversy for its criticism and satiric humor directed at the Catholic Church. In one episode, Évole visited Opus Dei’s Torreciudad Shrine and was filmed serving as an altar boy at Mass.
The trailer for “The Pope Answers,” which you can watch here, shows an informal conversation between Francis and a small group of young people discussing some of the Church’s most controversial positions and some of society’s most difficult problems.
Among the questions fielded by the pope:
“Do you know what a nonbinary person is?”
“If I weren’t a feminist, would being a Christian be better?”
“What do we do with these women [who have had abortions], in the Church, as an institution?”
At the end of the conversation, Francis says: “I’ve learned a lot from you, it’s done me a lot of good and I thank you for what you’ve done.”
In a joint statement published March 15, directors Évole and Sanchez said the documentary presented “a unique opportunity to bring together two worlds that normally do not touch, to see one of the most influential people in the world have a dialogue with a group of young adults whose lives sometimes clash head-on with the postulates of the Church.”
This is not the first time Évole has worked with Francis. Some of the pope’s most well-known statements have been from interviews with Évole.
In a 2019 interview on Évole’s “Salvados” show, Francis clarified the Church’s position that homosexual “tendencies are not sin … sin is acting, of thought, word, and deed, with freedom.”
Speaking on Évole’s pandemic-era show “The Évole Thing” in 2020, the pope likened the coronavirus to nature “giving us a jolt to take charge of taking care of nature.”
“There’s a saying that you surely know: God always forgives, we forgive now and then, nature never forgives, fires, floods, earthquakes,” he said.
In an extended one-on-one interview with Évole in 2019, Francis stood firm on his position that abortion can never be acceptable at any point, even in the cases of rape.
Francis told Évole he could understand the desperation the woman in such a scenario might feel, but that “it is not lawful to eliminate a human life to solve a problem.”
“Is it permissible to eliminate a human life to solve a problem? Is it permissible to hire someone to eliminate [the child]?” Pope Francis asked.