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UPDATE: Pope's health improving; he keeps some appointments

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis is breathing easier after undergoing intravenous antibiotic treatment for pulmonary inflammation, the director of the Vatican press office said.

"The pope's condition is good and stable; he has no fever, and his respiratory situation is clearly improving," Matteo Bruni, the director, said in a statement Nov. 27.

Early Nov. 25 Pope Francis canceled his day's meetings because of "flu-like" symptoms and that afternoon he went to Rome's Gemelli Isola Hospital for a CT scan of his lungs.

"The CT scan ruled out pneumonia, but showed pulmonary inflammation that was causing some respiratory difficulties," Bruni said Nov. 27. "For more effective treatment, a needle cannula was placed for the infusion of intravenous antibiotic therapy."

The IV access was visible on the pope's right hand Nov. 26 as he sat next to an aide in the chapel of his residence for the midday recitation of the Angelus.

Pope Francis blesses Paraguayan president
Pope Francis, who is recovering from pulmonary inflammation, blesses Paraguay's President Santiago Peña Palacios at the end of their meeting in the Domus Sanctae Marthae at the Vatican Nov. 27, 2023. The photo indicates that the cannula the pope had on his right hand the previous day for IV antibiotics had been removed. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

In a direct broadcast to St. Peter's Square, where thousands of people were waiting for the customary Sunday appointment, the 86-year-old Pope Francis told them, "Today I cannot come to the window because I have this inflammation problem in my lungs."

The aide, Msgr. Paolo Braida, read the pope's commentary on the Sunday Gospel reading and the pope's appeals for peace and greetings to groups of pilgrims present in the square.

But the pope led the recitation of the Angelus prayer and took the microphone back at the end to wish people a happy Sunday and to ask for their prayers.

In the text read by Msgr. Braida, Pope Francis also asked for prayers for his trip to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Dec. 1-3 to address COP28, the U.N. climate change conference.

Bruni said that "to facilitate the pope's recovery, some important engagements scheduled for these days have been postponed" to a date when he can "devote the desired time and energy to them."

Other appointments, "of an institutional nature or easier to support given his current health condition, have been maintained," Bruni said.

And, in fact, Pope Francis met early Nov. 27 with Paraguay's President Santiago Peña Palacios, his wife and entourage. The pope and president spent 25 minutes speaking privately in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the pope's residence. Vatican Media photos of the pope blessing the president show that the IV access had already been removed.

The pope, who will celebrate his 87th birthday Dec. 17, had undergone surgery in 1957 to remove part of one of his lungs after suffering a severe respiratory infection. He has insisted the operation has had no lasting impact on his health.

Pope Francis was hospitalized March 29-April 1 for what doctors said was a "respiratory infection." He tested negative for COVID-19 at the time.


Pope recovering from respiratory problem

Pope recovering from respiratory problem

Pope Francis, who was suffering from what the Vatican initially described as "flu-like" symptoms, was unable to deliver his Angelus address Nov. 26 from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square. Instead, he sat in the chapel of his...

Pope adds married couples, Church movement reps to Vatican’s laity and family office

Margaret Karram, the third president to lead the Focolare Movement, was among several members of ecclesial movements who were appointed to the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life by Pope Francis on Nov. 25, 2023. / Credit: CSC Audiovisivi

Rome Newsroom, Nov 25, 2023 / 10:07 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has added 11 new members to the Vatican office that focuses on the lay apostolate and family life, with two married couples and four figures affiliated with ecclesial movements highlighting the selections. 

The Vatican announced the pope’s picks to the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life on Nov. 25.

New members include the Taiwanese couple Joseph Teyu Chou, a professor of finance, and Clare Jiayann Yeh, the founder and director of the local bishops’ Marriage and Family Pastoral Center.

Another married couple picked for the dicastery comes from France — Benoit and Véronique Rabourdin. The two are the international managers of the Amour and Vérité marriage and family ministry, an initiative of the Emmanuel Community, a French-founded public association of the faithful.

The French and Taiwanese couples join a Polish couple already serving as members of the dicastery for a total of three sets of spouses among the Vatican office’s 28 members.

In addition to the Emmanuel Community-affiliated Rabourdins, Pope Francis also added other members associated with ecclesial movements.

Father Andrea D’Auria directs the international center of the lay movement Communion and Liberation and is a member of the movement’s associated Priestly Fraternity of St. Charles Borromeo.

Founded in Italy and with about 60,000 enrolled members throughout the world, Communion and Liberation recently came into conflict with the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life over its plan for leadership succession, with prefect Cardinal Kevin Farrell eventually intervening to appoint its president in 2022.

Margaret Karram, president of the Work of Mary (Focolare Movement), a participant in the recent Synod on Synodality assembly at the Vatican, was also added as a new member to the dicastery, as was Father Luis Felipe Navarro Marfá, the rector of the Opus Dei-run University of the Sacred Heart in Rome.

The Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life oversees most Catholic movements and maintains the International Associations of the Faithful Directory.

Three laywomen academics are also among the new members: Ana María Celis Brunet, an expert in abuse prevention from Chile; Maria Luisa Di Pietro, who directs the Center for Research and Studies on Procreative Health at University of the Sacred Heart; and Carmen Peña Garcia, a Spanish professor of marriage law.

In total, eight of the Vatican office’s 28 members are now women. In 2018, Pope Francis emphasized that the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life should promote a deeper reflection of the role of women in the Church and society.

The lone prelate added to the dicastery was Archbishop Josep Àngel Saiz Meneses of Seville, Spain. Eleven of the dicastery’s members now belong to the episcopacy, including Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernández, prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the American cardinals Robert McElroy (San Diego) and Wilton Gregory (Washington, D.C.). 

The Dicastery of Laity, Family, and Life was created in 2016 when Pope Francis combined the former pontifical councils for the laity and the family. According to its statutes, the dicastery has the responsibility “for the promotion of life and the apostolate of the lay faithful, for the pastoral care of the young, family and its mission, following God’s plan and for the protection and support of human life.”

UPDATE: Pope Francis has ‘mild flu,’ went to hospital for precautionary testing

Pope Francis at his general audience earlier this week on Nov. 22, 2023. / Credit: Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, Nov 25, 2023 / 09:32 am (CNA).

Pope Francis went to the hospital this afternoon for precautionary testing after coming down with the flu earlier in the day, according to the Vatican.

“In the early hours of the afternoon, Pope Francis underwent a CT scan at the Gemelli Isola Hospital in Rome, to exclude the risk of pulmonary complications,” the Holy See Press Office said in a Nov. 25 communication to journalists.

“The test gave a negative result and the pope returned to Casa Santa Marta,” the message concluded.

The announcement of the pope’s hospital visit followed an earlier communication from the Vatican that the pope would not take part in his scheduled meetings on Saturday morning due to illness.

“The Holy Father’s audiences scheduled for this morning are canceled due to a mild flu,” the Holy See Press Office said.

The Vatican’s daily bulletin, released at noon Rome time, did not note any papal activity for that morning, though the pope had been scheduled to meet with Umaro Issoco Embaló, the president of Guinea-Bissau.  

No additional information has been shared regarding the pope’s ability to participate in scheduled events going forward, such as tomorrow’s Angelus greeting.

The 86-year old Pope Francis is scheduled to travel to the United Arab Emirates Dec. 1–3 to participate in the COP28 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

The day’s events mark the second time this month that the pope’s activity has been affected by illness.

On Nov. 6, the pope had a cold and did not read his prepared remarks at an audience with Jewish rabbis from Europe, deciding to give attendees copies of the text instead.

“Thank you for this visit that I appreciate very much, but it happens that I am not well in health and that is why I prefer not to read the speech but give it to you,” the pope reportedly said at the time.

Pope Francis, however, was able to continue with his full schedule for the rest of the day, including a meeting with 7,000 children from over 80 countries.

The pope, who turns 87 next month, has experienced a number of medical setbacks in recent years. He has been hospitalized on more than one occasion, most recently in June for abdominal surgery. In late March, he was treated for bronchitis for several days, quipping on his April 1 release, “I’m still alive, you know.”

This story was updated at 9:32 a.m. EST.

Bishop Barron in ‘frank disagreement’ with Synod on Synodality’s report on ‘development of moral teaching’

Bishop Robert Barron. Photo courtesy of DeChant-Hughes Public Relations. / null

Rome Newsroom, Nov 24, 2023 / 11:45 am (CNA).

Bishop Robert Barron has said that he is in “frank disagreement” with the final report of the Synod on Synodality’s claim that advances in the sciences require an evolution in the Church’s moral teaching on human sexuality.

In a reflection published this week, the bishop of Winona–Rochester, Minnesota, said it is “troubling” to see how members of the German bishops’ conference are already “using the language of the synod report to justify major reformulations of the Church’s sexual teaching.”

Barron took particular issue with the suggestion that “advances in our scientific understanding will require a rethinking of our sexual teaching, whose categories are, apparently, inadequate to describe the complexities of human sexuality” in the synthesis document.

He called this language “condescending to the richly articulate tradition of moral reflection in Catholicism,” including the theology of the body developed by St. John Paul II.

“To say that this multilayered, philosophically informed, theologically dense system is incapable of handling the subtleties of human sexuality is just absurd,” Barron said.

“But the deeper problem I have is that this manner of argumentation is based upon a category error— namely, that advances in the sciences, as such, require an evolution in moral teaching,” he added.

“Let us take the example of homosexuality. Evolutionary biology, anthropology, and chemistry might give us fresh insight into the etiology and physical dimension of same-sex attraction, but they will not tell us a thing about whether homosexual behavior is right or wrong. The entertaining of that question belongs to another mode of discourse.”

A misperceived ‘tension between love and truth’

The bishop also noted that during discussions at the October synod assembly, there was a “perceived tension between love and truth,” particularly around the issue of outreach to the LGBT community.

“Practically everyone at the synod held that those whose sexual lives are outside of the norm should be treated with love and respect, and, again, bravo to the synod for making this pastoral point so emphatically. But many synod participants also felt that the truth of the Church’s moral teaching in regard to sexuality ought never to be set aside,” Barron said.

He added that it would be more accurate to say that there might be “a tension between welcoming and truth” because “when the terms are rightly understood, there is no real tension between love and truth, for love is not a feeling but the act by which one wills the good of another.”

“Therefore, one cannot authentically love someone else unless he has a truthful perception of what is really good for that person,” he said.

Barron was not the only bishop to highlight the Synod on Synodality’s discussion of the relationship between “love and truth” this week.

Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney published a seven-page pastoral letter on the Synod on Synodality on Nov. 20, one day before Barron’s reflection.

“Love and truth, we know, find their perfection not in abstract philosophies or empirical studies but in the concrete person of Jesus Christ. In him, love and truth meet. We know what it is to love when we know the One who is truth,” Fisher said.

“Throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus was always open to the other. He encountered every kind of person and invited them into the fullness of life (Jn 10:10). But this ever-more inclusive community of faith is also called to an ever-deeper conversion (Mt 4:17). … Being included in his family, the Church requires a response from us. Go, he says, you are forgiven. Your dignity is restored. You are loved from all eternity to all eternity. So go — and sin no more (Jn 8:11).”

The Australian archbishop also noted some of the limits to the Synod on Synodality’s communal discernment method, known as “conversation in the Spirit.”

“Deep listening to each other, expressing feelings, resonating in table groups, will not always help us find what is true and right,” Fisher said.

“As one eminent theologian said to me: Of the many synods he had attended, this one was the humanly best but theologically thinnest.”

He also cited Jesuit Father Anthony Lusvardi’s observation that while the conversation method is great at helping people understand one another better, “it is not well-suited for careful or complex theological or practical reasoning.”

“Doing that requires thinking that is critical, that weighs the pros and cons of what people say. It also requires a degree of objectivity that this method is not well-suited to provide. Sound theology needs to always ask the question, ‘That may sound good, but is it true?’”

Fisher said that “more work needs to be done to ensure a genuinely Catholic understanding of synodality, inclusion, and discernment.”

He called it providential that the nearly monthlong synod assembly coincided with the feast days of so many great saints in the Latin rite’s liturgical calendar, including St. Luke, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John Paul II, and St. Faustina Kowalska.

“We were accompanied by a great cloud of witnesses at the synod, reminding us what the Church is for: to call sinners to salvation and all to healing and holiness in Christ, to support each one in living their personal vocations, and to unite us with and as the communion of saints,” Fisher said.

“So one useful criterion for judging every synod proposal is: Is it likely, by God’s grace, to generate more apostles and pastors, evangelists and missionaries, religious and teachers, martyrs and mystics, holy men and women, such as our Church and world so sorely need?”

Pope Francis: More sustainable cities can help with population decline

Pope Francis on Nov. 24, 2023, met with representatives, mayors, and religious leaders from areas in central Italy hit by devastating earthquakes between August 2016 and January 2017. / Credit: Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Nov 24, 2023 / 11:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Friday one of the ways to address population decline is to make cities more sustainable, increasing the quality of life for those who live there.

“Adopting appropriate criteria for sustainability is an important act of justice and charity, because it aims to meet needs without compromising the safety and survival of those around us and those who will come after us,” he said during a meeting in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace Nov. 24.

He noted that the condition in many cities has become “unlivable” due to pollution, chaos, isolation, marginalization, and loneliness.

Addressing these problems, the pope added, “means putting the person back at the center of the city: This is the way forward. It is the way that will be able to help also address the crises of depopulation and population decline by offering the opportunity to live in environments rich in all that the ancestors left behind, enhanced and embellished by a wise management for the community.”

Pope Francis met with representatives, many of them town mayors, from central Italy, which was devastated by a series of powerful earthquakes between August 2016 and January 2017.

He praised those present for their reconstruction efforts, especially the attention to climate change, sustainability, and respect for nature.

Pope Francis will speak on the climate and related issues at the COP28 climate change conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, where he will travel Dec. 1–3. It will be Francis’ first time attending and addressing part of the 13-day conference.

Climate issues and the environment have been a priority of Pope Francis’ pontificate.

In October, he released his second major document on the topic, the apostolic exhortation Laudate Deum (“Praise God”), in which he warned of “grave consequences” if humanity continues to ignore the threat of climate change.

In his speech on Friday, Francis quoted from Laudate Deum, saying “there is no doubt that the impact of climate change will increasingly harm the lives of many people and families. We will feel the effects in terms of health, jobs, access to resources, housing, forced migration, and in other areas.”

This is why, he added, it is important to implement the necessary measures to slow or stop climate change and to provide methods for coping with the changes that have already taken place.

“Here, too, it is a matter of an open gaze, attentive to others and those who will come after us; we should not be discouraged by criticism or discontented people,” he said.

Vatican draws line on women’s ordination and homosexuality in new letter to German bishops

Cardinal Pietro Parolin. / Claude Truong-Ngoc via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).

CNA Newsroom, Nov 24, 2023 / 11:00 am (CNA).

The Vatican has informed German bishops in writing that the ordination of women and changes in the Church’s teaching on homosexuality cannot be subjects of discussion in the upcoming meetings with delegates of the German Synodal Way in Rome.

The letter, dated Oct. 23, also reminded the bishops of potential disciplinary consequences for anyone defying the teaching of the Church, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

Written by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, and addressed to the secretary general of the German Bishops’ Conference, Beate Gilles, the letter was shared with all German diocesan bishops.

The document’s authenticity was verified by CNA Deutsch with the German Bishops’ Conference on Friday.

The latest in a growing list of Vatican interventions regarding the German Synodal Way, the letter was published in full on Nov. 25 by the newspaper Tagespost.

Danger of ‘parallel initiatives’

German bishops and representatives of the Roman Curia met in the Vatican in July for discussions about the German Synodal Way. These talks will continue in January, April, and July 2024. They are expected to cover ecclesiology, anthropology, morality and liturgy, and texts of the Synodal Way. 

The Vatican’s letter reminded the German bishops of the Synod on Synodality underway in Rome: “Considering the course of the German Synodal Way so far, one must first realize that a universal Synodal Way is currently taking place, convened by the Holy Father.” 

The letter emphasized that it was “therefore necessary to respect this path of the universal Church and to avoid the impression that parallel initiatives are underway that are indifferent to the effort to ‘journey together.’”

Line drawn on women’s ordination, homosexual acts

In light of the German Synodal Way resolving to push for the ordination of women, the letter reminded the German bishops that Pope Francis has repeatedly and “expressly reaffirmed” what St. John Paul II wrote in Ordinatio Sacerdotalis about the Church having “no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women.”

While quoting Pope Francis on the importance of recognizing the role and dignity of women — given “a woman, Mary, is more important than the bishops,” as the pope said in Evangelii Gaudium — the letter also warned of “disciplinary consequences” for those who contravene doctrine, including potential excommunication for “attempting to ordain a woman,” CNA Deutsch reported.

Regarding the Church’s teaching on homosexual acts, Parolin’s letter to the German bishops said this was “another issue on which a local Church has no possibility of taking a different view.”

The letter elaborated: “For even if one recognized that from a subjective point of view there may be various factors that call on us not to judge people, this in no way changes the evaluation of the objective morality of these acts.”

The Vatican’s note also referenced Pope Francis’ 2019 letter to Catholics in Germany. In it, the pope cautioned against “the great sin of worldliness and of the anti-evangelical worldly spirit.” 

In January, Pope Francis was more explicit, decrying the German Synodal Way as “elitist” and “neither helpful nor serious.”

More recently, in a letter dated Nov. 10, the pope again expressed deep concerns about the German Synodal Way. He warned that steps being taken by this local Church segment threaten to diverge from the universal Church’s path, especially the Germans’ push to establish a permanent “Synodal Council,” a mix of laity and bishops to govern the Catholic Church in Germany. 

Instead, Pope Francis suggested an alternative approach for the Church in Germany, emphasizing the need for prayer, penance, and adoration.

German reactions to this latest intervention from Rome will show just how much the Synodal Way’s organizers have taken the papal appeals to heart. 

Pope Francis meets with relatives of Palestinians living in Gaza

Pope Francis meets with relatives of Palestinians living in Gaza on Nov. 22, 2023. / Credit: Vatican Media

Vatican City, Nov 22, 2023 / 17:30 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis received at the Vatican on Wednesday, separately and privately, a delegation of relatives of Israeli hostages held by Hamas terrorists and another delegation of relatives of Palestinians who live in Gaza.

The delegations consisted of 12 Israelis and 10 Palestinians who met with the Holy Father. In the meetings, each lasting 20 minutes, some of those affected by the war ravaging the Holy Land had the opportunity to tell their stories to the pontiff and express to him their desire for peace.

Read CNA’s coverage of Pope Francis’ meeting with the families of Israeli hostages here.

‘This is terrorism’

After the meetings, Pope Francis participated in the general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. At the end of his catechism, he referred to these meetings and stated “this is no longer war, this is terrorism.”

He urged “persevering in prayer for all those who are suffering because of wars in so many parts of the world,” especially for Ukraine and for Israel and Palestine.

The Holy Father stated that he “heard how both [sides] suffer: Wars do this, but here we have gone beyond wars, this is not waging war, this is terrorism. Please, let us move forward for peace, let us pray for peace, let us pray a lot for peace.”

“May the Lord put his hand there, may the Lord help us solve the problems and not continue with the passions that in the end kill everyone. We pray for the Palestinian people, we pray for the Israeli people, so that peace may come,” he prayed.

The Vatican denies that the pope spoke of ‘genocide’

After the audience, both delegations held different press conferences to speak to the media about their meeting with Pope Francis.

The members of the Palestine group talked about how the Israeli bombs had ended the lives of many of their relatives.

They noted that the pontiff had referred to what is happening in Gaza as a “genocide” and that he had pointed out that “terrorism cannot be responded to with terrorism.”

The director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, however, denied that the pontiff had spoken of “genocide” and stated that he used “the terms with which he has expressed himself during the general audience and words that in any case represent the terrible situation that Gaza is going through.”

When asked by journalists, Shireen Halil, a Palestinian and Christian woman from Bethlehem, reiterated that they met with the Holy Father to “ask for peace and justice” and not to “manipulate the pope’s words.”

Halil noted that at the beginning of the audience they felt “astonished” by the amount of information the Holy Father knew about the conflict.

Mohammed Halalo, who lives in Belgium, said that just a few days ago a bomb from an Israeli air strike fell on the building where his relatives lived. “My entire family has lost their lives in an instant,” he lamented.

‘We asked the pope to visit Gaza’

Palestinian Yousef Alkhoury conveyed his fear that “we will get used to the blood” of war and said that they asked Pope Francis to visit Gaza.

Halalo stated that the Holy Father responded that that was “a good idea” and that he “promised” to consult through diplomatic channels to study a safe time to go. “We believe that his presence can bring peace to the region,” Halalo said.

In response to a question from one of the journalists about their perception of Hamas, the Palestinian delegation preferred not to make any statement on the matter.

‘They have taken my family away from me’

The relatives of those kidnapped by Hamas terrorists in Gaza also had time to present their conclusions after the visit to the Holy Father. Of the 12, eight of them were able to speak alone with the pontiff.

During the press conference, Moshe Leimberg said that his wife and 17-year-old daughter were taken hostage by Hamas on Oct. 7.

“We haven‘t seen or heard anything since then. It‘s been 47 days. And I am alone. Every day I wake up... and wait a minute or two to hear the familiar sounds I‘m used to hearing, and there‘s nothing,” he said. “My family has been taken away from me, and my life is no longer what it was and it will never be again.”

A member of the Israeli delegation disagreed with the term “terrorism” used by Pope Francis to describe the war and stressed that it is a “false equivalence” since it equates Hamas terrorism with Israeli defense operations.

Cease-fire agreement reached

The meetings took place shortly after Israel and Hamas reached an agreement for a temporary four-day cease-fire.

During this time, Hamas has agreed to the release of at least 50 of the kidnapped hostages in exchange for the release of 150 underage Palestinian women held in Israeli prisons.

More than 40 days since the war began, nearly 13,300 Palestinians have lost their lives in Gaza, of which about 5,600 are children. In Israel, the dead are estimated at 1,200. 

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Pope Francis meets with families of Israeli hostages being held in Gaza

Pope Francis meets with families of the hostages taken by Hamas on Nov. 22, 2023. / Credit: Vatican Media

Vatican City, Nov 22, 2023 / 12:21 pm (CNA).

It’s been 47 days since Moshe Leimberg’s wife and 17-year-old daughter were taken hostage by Hamas.

“We haven’t seen or heard anything since. It’s been 47 days. And I’m alone. Every day I wake up … and I wait a minute or two for the familiar sounds that I’m used to hearing and there’s nothing,” Leimberg said at a press conference in Rome on Nov. 22.

“My family has been taken and my life is not what it was and it never will be again.” 

Leimberg was one of 12 family members of hostages being held in Gaza who met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday morning.

In a separate meeting on the same day, the pope also met with 10 Palestinians, some of whom had family members die in airstrikes on Gaza.

Pope Francis’ meetings with the Israeli and Palestinian delegations occurred as news emerged that a four-day cease-fire agreement had been reached in which Hamas agreed to free at least 50 of the roughly 240 hostages taken in the Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

“I know that my son is not part of this exchange,” Evgeniia Kozlova told journalists after meeting the pope, noting that she does not know how long she will have to wait to hear if her child will ever return home.

Rachel Goldberg, whose only son was kidnapped at the Nova Music Festival on Oct. 7, said that she hopes that the meeting with the pope will help bring more attention to hostages who are still waiting to be freed. 

“I think that the Holy Father has a lot of influence in the entire world. Aside from the 1.3 billion Catholics that certainly revere and respect him, I think he’s very respected in the Muslim world, in the Jewish world, really, irrespective of religious background. And so I think when he speaks, the world really listens,” Goldberg told EWTN News.

“The hostages come from almost 30 different countries. They span in age from 9 months to 87 years old … and so this issue of the hostages is really a global humanitarian catastrophe and needs to be treated as such.”

Goldberg’s son, Hersh, was celebrating his 23rd birthday at the music festival when Hamas fighters attacked and threw a grenade at the roadside bomb shelter where he had taken cover. Video footage shows that his arm was blown off during the attack.

“We have since seen a video … of him and these two other boys being marched out of the bomb shelter and put onto a Hamas pickup truck, which then headed toward Gaza,” she said. “My heart has been buried in Gaza.”

Goldberg said that she felt “embraced” by the pope and believes that “he will do everything he can to help us.”

Other Israelis said that they felt hurt that the pope did not spend more than 20 minutes with the group and did not have time to listen to the stories of each of the 12 family members, hearing only from about seven or eight people in the delegation.

Yehuda Cohen, whose daughter was part of the delegation that met the pope, called the meeting with Pope Francis “disappointing.”

“The meeting should have been long enough for people to speak,” he said. “We came all the way from Israel here to meet him.”

Pope Francis’ meeting with the Palestinian delegation was also only about 20 minutes.

The pope spoke about his experience meeting the two groups during his general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

“This morning I received two delegations, one of Israelis who have relatives as hostages in Gaza and another of Palestinians who have relatives suffering in Gaza. They suffer so much and I heard how they both suffer. Wars do this, but here we have gone beyond wars, this is not warfare, this is terrorism,” Pope Francis said.

“Please, let’s move forward for peace. Pray for peace. Pray hard for peace,” he said. “We pray for the Palestinian people, we pray for the Israeli people, that peace will come.”

Thanksgiving And Prayer

“Thus we should all give thanks to Him, as it is said: ‘In everything give thanks’ (1 Thess. 5:18). Closely linked to this phrase is another of St Paul’s injunctions: ‘Pray without ceasing’ (1 Thess. 5:17), that is, be mindful…

The Vatican’s statements on the German Synodal Way: a timeline

The cross of the German “Synodal Way” / Maximilian von Lachner / Synodaler Weg

Rome Newsroom, Nov 21, 2023 / 09:10 am (CNA).

In a striking personal intervention, Pope Francis has written a letter to four German Catholic laywomen who quit the German Synodal Way earlier this year.

In the letter, published in the German newspaper Welt on Nov. 21, the pope expressed deep reservations about the direction of the Catholic Church in Germany, warning that steps currently being taken “threaten” to undermine unity with the universal Church.

Chief among the pope’s concerns is a push to establish a permanent “Synodal Council,” a mixed body of laity and bishops that would govern the Catholic Church in Germany.

Since its launch by Cardinal Reinhard Marx in 2019, the German Synodal Way has courted controversy. 

Participants have voted in favor of proposals calling for the priestly ordination of women, same-sex blessings, and changes to Church teaching on homosexual acts, prompting accusations of heresy and fears of schism.

This is not the first time Pope Francis and the Vatican have expressed reservations about the German Synodal Way, also sometimes called the Synodal Path. Here is a timeline of their interventions:


November: Pope Francis responds to a letter from four prominent German women — theology professors Katharina Westerhorstmann and Marianne Schlosser, philosopher Hanna-Barbara Gerl-Falkovitz, and journalist Dorothea Schmidt — who announced they were quitting the German Synodal Way in February.

“I, too, share concerns about the numerous concrete steps that large parts of this local Church are now taking that threaten to move further and further away from the common path of the universal Church,” he says in a letter sent four days after the one he received.

January: In an interview with the Associated Press published Jan. 25, Pope Francis decries the German Synodal Way as elitist, unhelpful, and running the risk of bringing ideological harm to Church processes.

The pope says the global synod’s aim was to “help this more elitist (German) path so that it does not end badly in some way but so is also integrated into the Church.”


June: Pope Francis speaks about the Synodal Way in Germany in a conversation with the editors of Jesuit journals published on June 14.

He says he had told the leader of Germany’s Catholic bishops, Bishop Georg Bätzing, the country already had “a very good evangelical church” and “we don’t need two.”

“The problem arises when the Synodal Path comes from the intellectual, theological elites and is much influenced by external pressures. There are some dioceses where the Synodal Way is being developed with the faithful, with the people, slowly,” he says.

July: The Holy See intervenes in the German Synodal Way on July 21, warning of a “threat to the unity of the Church.”

“In order to safeguard the freedom of the people of God and the exercise of the episcopal ministry, it seems necessary to clarify that the ‘Synodal Way’ in Germany does not have the power to compel bishops and the faithful to adopt new forms of governance and new orientations of doctrine and morals,” reads a statement that Pope Francis says came from the Secretariat of State.


September: Cardinal Kurt Koch says that Pope Francis has expressed concern about the Church in Germany.

The president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity tells the magazine Herder Korrespondenz on Sept. 22 that he believes the pope backed an intervention by the Vatican’s doctrinal office in a debate over intercommunion between Catholics and Protestants. 

October: According to Bishop Heinz-Josef Algermissen, Pope Francis expressed “dramatic concern” about the Catholic Church in Germany when they spoke after the general audience on Oct. 7.

The Fuldaer Zeitung reports that the pope told Algermissen that the Synodal Way was too focused on “political questions” such as the position of women in the Church and priestly celibacy.


June: Pope Francis sends a 28-page letter to German Catholics on June 29 calling for a focus on evangelization in the face of the “erosion” and “decline of the faith” in the country.

In his letter, he issues a warning about the German Synodal Way, a process announced by Cardinal Marx the previous March. The pope says: “What this entails in concrete terms and how it unfolds will certainly require further consideration.”

September: In a letter sent to German bishops, the Vatican says plans for a binding Church synod in Germany were “not ecclesiologically valid.”

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, then-prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops, also sends Marx a four-page legal assessment of the German bishops’ draft statues, in which are raised a series of concerns about the proposed structure and the participants in the German Synodal Path.

It concludes that the German bishops are not planning a national synod but instead a particular Church council — something they cannot conduct without explicit Vatican approval.