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PHOTOS: Nighttime eucharistic adoration in St. Peter’s Square
Posted on 03/15/2023 17:30 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Vatican City, Mar 15, 2023 / 09:30 am (CNA).
The Vatican held its first monthly eucharistic adoration in the area in front of St. Peter’s Basilica on Tuesday night.
Adoration of the Eucharist in St. Peter's Square tonight. pic.twitter.com/VdS7vhUysa— Hannah Brockhaus (@HannahBrockhaus) March 14, 2023
The March adoration was led by Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, OFM Conv, who is the archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica. The holy hour was offered for Pope Francis in light of his 10th anniversary as pope.
Several hundred adorers gathered at the Vatican to take part in the hour of prayer, which included music, Scripture readings, and prayers interspersed with moments of silence.
Large orange candles created a visual pathway to the Eucharist, which was displayed in a gold monstrance set on an altar.
Adoration concluded with Benediction.
The eucharistic adoration, a new pastoral initiative of St. Peter’s Basilica, will take place the second Tuesday of every month from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.
It is open to the public.
U.S. Bishop Daniel Flores to help prepare Synod on Synodality assembly
Posted on 03/15/2023 14:01 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Rome Newsroom, Mar 15, 2023 / 06:01 am (CNA).
Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, has been named to a small committee planning the Vatican’s October assembly for the Synod on Synodality.
Flores, 61, is one of three bishops on the preparatory commission, which also includes three priests and a religious sister.
The committee was put together by Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops Cardinal Mario Grech, who will also oversee its work.
Flores was installed as bishop of the Diocese of Brownsville in early 2010, after just over three years as an auxiliary bishop of Detroit.
Born in Texas, he was ordained a Catholic priest for the Diocese of Corpus Christi in 1988. In 2000, he received a doctorate in theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum) in Rome.
The bishop, who has both Mexican and American roots, frequently posts in both English and Spanish on his popular Twitter account, where his profile name is “Amigo de Frodo.”
The Catholic Church’s Synod on Synodality has been underway since October 2021. It will include two nearly monthlong Vatican assemblies: in October 2023 and October 2024. The continental phase, which followed a diocesan phase, concludes this month.
The two sessions of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will bring together bishops from across the world to discuss and prepare a document to counsel the pope.
In addition to Flores, the other episcopal members of the organization committee are Archbishop Timothy Costelloe of Perth, Australia, and Bishop Lucio Muandula of Xai-Xai, Mozambique.
From Japan, Sister Shizue Hirota, a member of the Mercedarian Missionaries of Berriz, will also take part in the commission.
Jesuit Father Giacomo Costa, who played a key role in the Vatican’s communications for the 2019 Amazon synod, will be the group’s coordinator, while Polish priest Father Tomasz Trafny will be its secretary.
A theology and ecclesiology professor at the Pontifical Gregorian University, Father Dario Vitali, is also part of the committee. He is currently teaching a course titled “‘Sensus Fidei’ and Magisterium in a Synodal Church.”
Jesuit Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, the relator general of the Synod on Synodality, will also participate in the group’s meetings.
Pope Francis: A Christian life based on achieving higher positions is ‘pure paganism’
Posted on 03/15/2023 12:23 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Vatican City, Mar 15, 2023 / 04:23 am (CNA).
Pope Francis said Wednesday that everyone in the Church is equal in dignity, thus a focus on hierarchical advancement is “pure paganism.”
“Within the framework of the unity of the mission, the diversity of charisms and ministries must not give rise, within the ecclesial body, to privileged categories,” the pope said at his March 15 general audience in St. Peter’s Square.
“There is no promotion here, and when you conceive of the Christian life as an advancement, that the one above commands others, because he has succeeded in climbing, that is not Christianity,” he said. “That is pure paganism.”
At his weekly meeting with the public, Francis reflected on the call to apostleship as part of the larger theme of evangelization.
“What does it mean to be an apostle? It means being sent for a mission,” he said, adding that it is also a vocation.
Being an apostle of Christ is not just a matter for bishops or priests but the call of every baptized person, Pope Francis said.
“Who has more dignity in the Church? The bishops, the priests?” he said. “No. We are all Christians in service to others.”
He said a religious sister is just as an important for the Church as anyone else: the baptized, unbaptized, a child, a bishop.
“We are equal. And when one of the parts believes himself to be more important than the others, and he sticks his nose up like this, he errs,” he emphasized.
“The vocation that Jesus gives to everyone, and also to those who seem to be in the highest positions, is service.”
The pope said if you see someone in a “high” position in the Church who is vain, you should pray for “the poor guy,” because he has not understood his vocation.
“The vocation of God is adoration of the Father, love of the community, and service,” he added.
Pope Francis drew from documents of the Second Vatican Council to illustrate what it means to be an apostle today.
“The Council says: ‘The Christian vocation by its very nature is also a vocation to the apostolate,’” he said, quoting the decree on the apostolate of the laity, Apostolicam Actuositatem.
Quoting from Lumen Gentium, the dogmatic constitution on the Church, he said apostleship “is a calling that is common, just as ‘a common dignity [is shared] as members from their regeneration in Christ, having the same filial grace and the same vocation to perfection; possessing in common one salvation, one hope, and one undivided charity.’”
“It is a call that concerns both those who have received the sacrament of orders, consecrated persons, and all lay faithful, man or woman.”
Pope Francis addressed the crowd as he said “the laity — all of you, the majority of you are laypeople, all of you — likewise share in the priestly, prophetic, and royal office of Christ and therefore have their own share in the mission of the whole people of God in the Church and in the world (Apostolicam Actuositatem, 2).”
He encouraged Catholics to consider how they relate to others, both in and outside the Church, in light of apostleship.
“For example, are we aware of the fact that with our words we can undermine the dignity of people, thus ruining relationships? While we try to engage in dialogue with the world, do we also know how to dialogue among ourselves as believers?” he said.
“Listening, humbling one’s self, being at the service of others: This is serving,” he continued. “This is being Christian. This is being apostle.”
“Let us not be afraid to pose these questions to ourselves, to flee from vanity, the vanity of positions,” Pope Francis concluded.
“May these words help us to confirm the way in which we live our baptismal vocation, how we live our way of being apostles in a Church that is apostolic, that is at the service of others.”
Historic building near Vatican to become Four Seasons hotel
Posted on 03/14/2023 20:12 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Vatican City, Mar 14, 2023 / 12:12 pm (CNA).
A Catholic order of knighthood has signed a leasing agreement that will allow a Four Seasons hotel to manage part of a historic building close to the Vatican.
The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem signed an agreement with Fort Partners, a Miami-based development company, on March 10, according to a statement published Tuesday.
The lease to Fort Partners includes an agreement to use that part of the building for a hotel under the management of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.
The other part of the building houses the headquarters of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.
The order is a lay institution under the protection of the Holy See whose first mention in historical records dates to 1336. Today, the charitable group has approximately 30,000 members in almost 40 countries and is dedicated to supporting the Church in the Holy Land.
The Renaissance-era Palazzo della Rovere is about a three-minute walk from St. Peter’s Basilica and features a turret, a grand courtyard, and frescoes by Pinturicchio on the main floor.
The order has been under pressure from the Italian state for years to renovate the decaying building.
A March 13 report from the Wall Street Journal said that Fort Partners had agreed to a 30-year lease and to invest 54 million euros ($57.5 million) into the restoration, which will be carried out under the direction of Italian architect Fabrizio Casiraghi.
The Wall Street Journal cited Fort Partners Chief Executive Nadim Ashi, who said the hotel will have between 55 and 60 rooms and a courtyard restaurant when it is completed.
Fort Partners expects the luxury project to be finished in 2025, in time for the Catholic Church’s Jubilee Year.
From 1952-2008, the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre leased part of their property to the historic Hotel Columbus, but the order entered into a lengthy legal battle with the hotel after it refused to vacate the premises after its lease ran out.
The hotel was forcefully evicted in 2018, three years after the Italian courts ruled in favor of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.
Starting in 2020, a commission was set up to review offers for the new lease and restoration of the building.
The order said in 2018 it had been under pressure to restore the building by the Special Department of Rome Archeology, Fine Arts, and Landscape.
“These urgent and necessary repairs will preserve the building and provide for necessary safety upgrades while also restoring the invaluable 15th- and 16th-century frescoes, which have been seriously damaged,” it said.
According to the order, Fort Partners will fully cover the costs of the renovation of the building, “allowing the order to donate in full to the Holy Land the voluntary contributions received from its members.”
The order says it followed “a strict transparency procedure” in choosing Fort Partners from among the “many offers” it received for the building.
The charitable organization was also authorized by the Vatican to negotiate with the development group.
Vatican-China deal ‘not the best deal possible,’ top Holy See diplomat says
Posted on 03/14/2023 16:54 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Rome Newsroom, Mar 14, 2023 / 08:54 am (CNA).
The Vatican’s foreign minister has said that the Vatican-China deal was “not the best deal possible” and that negotiations are underway to make the deal “work better.”
In an interview with Colm Flynn for EWTN News, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican secretary for Relations with States, said that Holy See diplomats are “negotiating improvements” to the Holy See’s provisional agreement with Beijing on the appointment of bishops, first signed in 2018.
“Obviously, the objective is to get the best deal possible, which certainly this agreement is not the best deal possible because of the other party: They were only prepared to go so far and to agree to certain things. But that was what was possible at the time,” Gallagher said.
“It wasn’t really a great time to sign the deal, for various reasons. It was always going to be difficult; it was always going to be used by the Chinese party to bring greater pressure on the Catholic community, particularly on the so-called underground Church. So we just go forward.”
Gallagher, who was not directly involved in the negotiations, underlined that the agreement with China, which the Vatican has renewed twice in the past five years, was the fruit of a long process under three pontificates.
“And most of the agreement was already agreed and accepted by the Holy See, and by the Chinese authorities already in the time of Pope Benedict,” Gallagher said.
“So it was only a bit of crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s.”
The Holy See diplomat said he believes that the Vatican and Chinese authorities have grown in “a greater understanding, a greater respect” for each other over the years.
“Everything is done obviously in the context of Chinese domestic politics. … And therefore, we can only achieve so much,” he added.
China’s Xi Jinping assumed an unprecedented third term as president last week at a rubber stamp parliamentary session of the National People’s Congress that unanimously voted for Xi in an election in which there was no other candidate.
The National People’s Congress had previously confirmed a constitutional change eliminating term limits granting Xi the possibility of lifelong rule in 2018, six months before the Holy See first signed its deal with Beijing.
Under Xi’s leadership, respect for human rights and religious freedom has deteriorated. Xi has come under mounting international condemnation for China’s brutal persecution of Uyghur Muslims in the northwest Chinese region of Xinjiang, and state officials in different regions of China have removed crosses and demolished church buildings.
In November 2022, the Vatican said that Chinese authorities had violated the terms stipulated in its provision agreement on the appointment of bishops.
A statement released on Nov. 26 said that “the Holy See noted with surprise and regret” that Bishop John Peng Weizhao had been installed as an “auxiliary bishop of Jiangxi,” a diocese that is not recognized by the Vatican.
“The Holy See hopes that similar episodes will not be repeated, remains awaiting appropriate communications on the matter from the authorities, and reaffirms its full readiness to continue the respectful dialogue concerning all matters of common interest,” it said.
In the interview with EWTN, Gallagher confirmed that “there are negotiations underway for the appointment of other bishops.”
“We remain committed to carrying forward that dialogue,” he said.
When asked in the interview what he considers the biggest diplomatic challenges today, Gallagher said that the war in Ukraine, climate change, and conflicts in the Middle East, parts of Africa, and the destabilization of Latin America are the top issues facing the international community.
“But one of the things that the Chinese and the Catholic Church and the Holy See have in common is that we don’t think in months, or even in years. We’re thinking in terms of a much longer time. And we hope that, in time, the relations between the Catholic Church in China will be shall we say much more ‘normal,’ much more fluid, much more fruitful,” he said.
“And as we set off from here, we remain committed, believing that good Catholics can also be good citizens of the People’s Republic of China.”
A timeline of Pope Francis’ 10 years as pope
Posted on 03/13/2023 21:15 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Mar 13, 2023 / 13:15 pm (CNA).
Today marks the 10th anniversary of the election of Pope Francis as the 265th successor of St. Peter. Here is a timeline of key events during his papacy:
March 13 — About two weeks after Pope Benedict XVI steps down from the papacy, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio is elected pope. He takes the papal name Francis in honor of St. Francis of Assisi and proclaims from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica: “Let us begin this journey, the bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome, which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another.”
March 14 — The day after he begins his pontificate, Pope Francis returns to his hotel to personally pay his hotel bill and collect his luggage.
July 8 — Pope Francis visits Italy’s island of Lampedusa and meets with a group of 50 migrants, most of whom are young men from Somalia and Eritrea. The island, which is about 200 miles off the coast of Tunisia, is a common entry point for migrants who flee parts of Africa and the Middle East to enter Europe. This is the pope’s first pastoral visit outside of Rome and sets the stage for making reaching out to the peripheries a significant focus.
July 23-28 — Pope Francis visits Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to participate in World Youth Day 2013. More than 3 million people from around the world attend the event.
July 29 — On the return flight from Brazil, Pope Francis gives his first papal news conference and sparks controversy by saying “if a person is gay and seeks God and has goodwill, who am I to judge?” The phrase is prompted by a reporter asking the pope a question about priests who have homosexual attraction.
Nov. 24 — Pope Francis publishes his first apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). The document illustrates the pope’s vision for how to approach evangelization in the modern world.
Feb. 22 — Pope Francis holds his first papal consistory to appoint 19 new cardinals, including ones from countries in the developing world that have never previously been represented in the College of Cardinals, such as Haiti.
March 22 — Pope Francis creates the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. The commission works to protect the dignity of minors and vulnerable adults, such as the victims of sexual abuse.
Oct. 5 — The Synod on the Family begins. The bishops discuss a variety of concerns, including single-parent homes, cohabitation, homosexual adoption of children, and interreligious marriages.
Dec. 6 — After facing some pushback for his efforts to reform the Roman Curia, Pope Francis discusses his opinion in an interview with La Nacion, an Argentine news outlet: “Resistance is now evident. And that is a good sign for me, getting the resistance out into the open, no stealthy mumbling when there is disagreement. It’s healthy to get things out into the open, it’s very healthy.”
Jan. 18 — To conclude a trip to Asia, Pope Francis celebrates Mass in Manila, Philippines. Approximately 6 million to 7 million people attend the record-setting Mass, despite heavy rain.
March 23 — Pope Francis visits Naples, Italy, to show the Church’s commitment to helping the fight against corruption and organized crime in the city.
May 24 — To emphasize the Church’s mission to combat global warming and care for the environment, Pope Francis publishes the encyclical Laudato Si’, which urges people to take care of the environment and encourages political action to address climate problems.
Sept. 19-22 — Pope Francis visits Cuba and meets with Fidel Castro in the first papal visit to the country since Pope John Paul II in 1998. During his homily, Francis discusses the dignity of the human person: “Being a Christian entails promoting the dignity of our brothers and sisters, fighting for it, living for it.”
Sept. 22-27 — After departing from Cuba, Pope Francis makes his first papal visit to the United States. In Washington, D.C., he speaks to a joint session of Congress, in which he urges lawmakers to work toward promoting the common good, and canonizes the Franciscan missionary St. Junípero Serra. He also attends the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, which focuses on celebrating the gift of the family.
Oct. 4 — Pope Francis begins the second Synod on the Family to address issues within the modern family, such as single-parent homes, cohabitation, poverty, and abuse.
Oct. 18 — The pope canonizes St. Louis Martin and St. Marie-Azélie “Zelie” Guérin. The married couple were parents to five nuns, including St. Therese of Lisieux. They are the first married couple to be canonized together.
Dec. 8 — Pope Francis’ Jubilee Year of Mercy begins. The year focuses on God’s mercy and forgiveness and people’s redemption from sin. The pope delegates certain priests in each diocese to be Missionaries of Mercy who have the authority to forgive sins that are usually reserved for the Holy See.
March 19 — Pope Francis publishes the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, which discusses a wide variety of issues facing the modern family based on discussions from the two synods on the family. The pope garners significant controversy from within the Church for comments he makes in Chapter 8 about Communion for the divorced and remarried.
April 16 — After visiting refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos, Pope Francis allows three Muslim refugee families to join him on his flight back to Rome. He says the move was not a political statement.
July 26-31 — Pope Francis visits Krakow, Poland, as part of the World Youth Day festivities. About 3 million young Catholic pilgrims from around the world attend.
Sept. 4 — The pope canonizes St. Teresa of Calcutta, who is also known as Mother Teresa. The saint, a nun from Albania, dedicated her life to missionary and charity work, primarily in India.
Sept. 30-Oct. 2 — Pope Francis visits Georgia and Azerbaijan on his 16th trip outside of Rome since the start of his papacy. His trip focuses on Catholic relations with Orthodox Christians and Muslims.
Oct. 4 — Pope Francis makes a surprise visit to Amatrice, Italy, to pray for the victims of an earthquake in central Italy that killed nearly 300 people.
May 12-13 — In another papal trip, Francis travels to Fatima, Portugal, to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima. May 13 marks the 100th anniversary of the first Marian apparition to three children in the city.
July 11 — Pope Francis adds another category of Christian life suitable for the consideration of sainthood: “offering of life.” The category is distinct from martyrdom, which only applies to someone who is killed for his or her faith. The new category applies to those who died prematurely through an offering of their life to God and neighbor.
Nov. 19 — On the first-ever World Day of the Poor, Pope Francis eats lunch with 4,000 poor and people in need in Rome.
Nov. 27-Dec. 2 — In another trip to Asia, Pope Francis travels to Myanmar and Bangladesh. He visits landmarks and meets with government officials, Catholic clergy, and Buddhist monks. He also preaches the Gospel and promotes peace in the region.
Jan. 15-21 — The pope takes another trip to Latin America, this time visiting Chile and Peru. The pontiff meets with government officials and members of the clergy while urging the faithful to remain close to the clergy and reject secularism. The Chilean visit leads to controversy over Chilean clergy sex abuse scandals.
Aug. 2 — The Vatican formally revises No. 2267 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which concerns the death penalty. The previous text suggested the death penalty could be permissible in certain circumstances, but the revision states that the death penalty is “inadmissible.”
Aug. 25 — Archbishop Carlo Viganò, former papal nuncio to the United States, publishes an 11-page letter calling for the resignation of Pope Francis and accusing him and other Vatican officials of covering up sexual abuse including allegations against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. The pope initially does not directly respond to the letter, but nine months after its publication he denies having prior knowledge about McCarrick’s conduct.
Aug. 25-26 — Pope Francis visits Dublin, Ireland, to attend the World Meeting of Families. The theme is “the Gospel of family, joy for the world.”
Oct. 3-28 — The Synod on Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment takes place. The synod focuses on best practices to teach the faith to young people and to help them discern God’s will.
Jan. 22-27 — The third World Youth Day during Pope Francis’ pontificate takes place during these six days in Panama City, Panama. Young Catholics from around the world gather for the event, with approximately 3 million people in attendance.
Feb. 4 — Pope Francis signs a joint document in with Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, titled the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together.” The document focuses on people of different faiths uniting together to live peacefully and advance a culture of mutual respect.
Feb. 21-24 — The Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church, which is labeled the Vatican Sexual Abuse Summit, takes place. The meeting focuses on sexual abuse scandals in the Church and emphasizes responsibility, accountability, and transparency.
Oct. 6-27 — The Church holds the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region, which is also known as the Amazon Synod. The synod is meant to present ways in which the Church can better evangelize the Amazon region but leads to controversy when carved images of a pregnant Amazonian woman, referred to by the pope as Pachamama, are used in several events and displayed in a basilica near the Vatican.
Oct. 13 — St. John Henry Newman, an Anglican convert to Catholicism and a cardinal, is canonized by Pope Francis. Newman’s writings inspired Catholic student associations at nonreligious colleges and universities in the United States and other countries.
March 15 — Pope Francis takes a walking pilgrimage in Rome to the chapel of the crucifix and prays for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic. The crucifix was carried through Rome during the plague of 1522.
March 27 — Pope Francis gives an extraordinary “urbi et orbi” blessing in an empty and rain-covered St. Peter’s Square, praying for the world during the coronavirus pandemic.
March 5-8 — In his first papal trip since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis becomes the first pope to visit Iraq. On his trip, he signs a joint statement with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani condemning extremism and promoting peace.
July 3 — Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, who was elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope Francis, is indicted in a Vatican court for embezzlement, money laundering, and other crimes. The pope gives approval for the indictment.
July 4 — Pope Francis undergoes colon surgery for diverticulitis, a common condition in older people. The Vatican releases a statement that assures the pope “reacted well” to the surgery. Francis is released from the hospital after 10 days.
July 16 — Pope Francis issues a motu proprio titled Traditionis Custodes. The document imposes heavy restrictions on the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass.
Dec. 2-6 — The pope travels to Cyprus and Greece. The trip includes another visit to the Greek island of Lesbos to meet with migrants.
Jan. 11 — Pope Francis makes a surprise visit to a record store in Rome called StereoSound. The pope, who has an affinity for classical music, blesses the newly renovated store.
March 19 — The pope promulgates Praedicate Evangelium, which reforms the Roman Curia. The reforms emphasize evangelization and establish more opportunities for the laity to be in leadership positions.
May 5 — Pope Francis is seen in a wheelchair for the first time in public and begins to use one more frequently. The pope has been suffering from knee problems for months.
July 24-30 — In his first papal visit to Canada, Pope Francis apologizes for the harsh treatment of the indigenous Canadians, saying many Christians and members of the Catholic Church were complicit.
Jan. 31-Feb. 5 — Pope Francis travels to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan. During his visit, the pope condemns political violence in the countries and promotes peace. He also participates in an ecumenical prayer service with Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Moderator of the Church of Scotland Iain Greenshields.
Pope Francis celebrates Mass, records ‘popecast’ for 10th anniversary
Posted on 03/13/2023 18:20 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Rome Newsroom, Mar 13, 2023 / 10:20 am (CNA).
Pope Francis marked his 10th anniversary as pope Monday with a private Mass with cardinals and an appearance on what Vatican News has dubbed a “popecast.”
The nine-minute podcast, released only in Italian, was published on the Vatican News website and on Spotify.
“It seems like yesterday,” Francis said, referring to his election to the papacy on March 13, 2013.
“The time is ‘pressurous,’” he continued, making up a word in Italian. “It’s in a hurry. And when you want to seize today, it is already yesterday.”
These past 10 years were lived in this tension, he added.
Pope Francis’ schedule was free of public meetings on March 13 except for a Mass at 8 a.m. in the chapel inside his Vatican residence.
The private Mass at the Santa Marta guesthouse was concelebrated with cardinals. The Vatican did not release any other details, including information about the pope’s homily.
In the “popecast,” Pope Francis said “the most beautiful moment” of his pontificate was with elderly in St. Peter’s Square in 2014.
Some of the most painful moments, instead, were those connected to the horror of war, including visits to military cemeteries, the 2013 prayer vigil for peace in Syria, and others.
He said he hates the fact that in wars such as the one between Russia and Ukraine, many young men, of either side, never get to go home.
The gift he most wants for his anniversary, he said, is “peace.”
By the numbers: How the Catholic Church has changed during Pope Francis’ pontificate
Posted on 03/13/2023 11:00 AM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
St. Louis, Mo., Mar 13, 2023 / 03:00 am (CNA).
Pope Francis was elected to the papacy 10 years ago, on March 13, 2013. How has the worldwide Catholic Church changed since then?
Statistically speaking, the Church has grown, keeping pace with and even exceeding overall world population growth. The total number of Catholics worldwide grew from 1.253 billion in 2013 to 1.378 billion in 2021, an increase of nearly 10%. During the same period, the world’s population as a whole grew by 9.1%, according to the World Bank.
Despite this increase, the Church performed 2 million fewer baptisms in 2020 than in 2013. The number of marriages declined by 702,246, or nearly a third. Confirmations and first Communions also dropped by 12% and 13%, respectively, despite relatively stable levels of Mass attendance in the world’s 13 most Catholic countries.
A Catholic researcher told CNA this week that the biggest likely reason for this drop in participation in the sacraments is not hard to guess — three of the 10 years of Francis’ pontificate have been marked by the worldwide effects of a pandemic. But that’s not the only reason, he says.
“I don’t know if the Catholic world has changed as much as just the world [in general] has changed,” Mark Gray, senior researcher with the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, told CNA.
“The Church and Pope Francis and bishops have had to try to navigate their way through some really challenging demographic changes as well as the pandemic. And the Catholic Church has come out of these better than many other Christian denominations. So there’s good news there, but there’s still a lot to weather. There’s a headwind, I would say, against the Church.”
The drop in participation in the sacraments worldwide is not due only to the pandemic, he cautioned, but rather is part of a much larger demographic trend worldwide of declining births. According to the World Bank’s world development indicators, life expectancies at birth have been increasing globally from 51 years in 1960 to 72 years in 2020. At the same time, Gray wrote, the birth rate per 1,000 people has fallen from 32 in 1960 to 17 in 2020.
“The number of births is expected to decline annually into the foreseeable future, eventually being outnumbered by deaths in 2085, according to U.N. projections,” Gray wrote in a March 9 blog post.
“The population will grow in the decades ahead as life expectancies continue to increase but at the same time births will decline and that will result in fewer baptisms, fewer first Communions, fewer students, and yes even fewer marriages annually just by the numbers of the demographic shift we are experiencing.”
Gray wrote that the full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, which prevented Catholics around the world from accessing the sacraments for a time, will likely take years to fully quantify. He also cautioned that two of the most authoritative sources for the number of Catholics have significant lags in their data. The most recent full dataset contained in the current edition of the Vatican’s Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae is for 2020, though the Vatican’s newspaper published a summary of the 2021 statistics earlier this month. The Official Catholic Directory, which covers the United States, goes up to 2021.
“Any impact, positive or negative, Pope Francis may have had will be overshadowed by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic when our most current data represents 2020 and 2021,” Gray wrote.
“We know looking at Church data for these years we are going to see lower levels of Mass attendance and sacramental practice with the impact of lockdowns, restrictions, and hesitancy for people to gather in crowds in enclosed spaces during those two years.”
Other statistical indicators present a mixed picture of the Church’s growth in some areas and recession in others. For example, the total number of students in Catholic schools is up by 7.3% since 2013.
“One of the really bright signs for the Church is growth in Catholic education globally; more of the world’s youth are being educated in Catholic schools than they have in years and decades past,” Gray noted to CNA.
The number of diocesan priests worldwide appears to be virtually unchanged in the decade of Pope Francis’ pontificate, while the number of religious priests dipped only slightly. The number of religious sisters worldwide suffered a larger drop of nearly 11%.
According to the Vatican, however, the number of seminarians worldwide has been decreasing since 2013. The 2021 report shows the number of seminarians across the globe decreased by 1.8% since 2020. The sharpest declines were in North America and Europe, where the number of seminarians decreased by 5.8% on both continents.
Despite overall growth in the number of Catholics worldwide, that growth has not been evenly distributed. Overall, Africa has a higher baptism rate than Europe and a far higher rate of Mass attendance in countries with large Catholic populations. Another recent analysis by CARA found that Nigeria, Kenya, and Lebanon have the highest proportion of Catholics who attend Mass weekly or more, with Nigeria as the clear leader. Ninety-four percent of Catholics in Nigeria say they attend Mass at least weekly. In Kenya, the figure was 73%, and in Lebanon it was 69%. In comparison, countries like Germany, France, Switzerland, and the Netherlands are all under 15%.
In addition, Africa bucks the trend of declining vocations by showing an increase in seminarians and religious brothers, according to the 2021 Vatican statistics. Africa also saw the only increase in seminarians and religious brothers across the globe from 2020-2021, at 0.6%. The number of religious brothers in Africa increased by 2.2% during the same time frame.
Pope Francis has made pastoral attention to Africa a priority of late, making a visit to the heavily Catholic Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan last month to an enthusiastic welcome.
Focusing on the United States — where a mere 5% of the world’s Catholics live — the picture is a bit less optimistic. In contrast to the stable numbers of the world as a whole, the number of diocesan priests in the U.S. dropped 8% from 2013 to 2021. There are 27% fewer sisters, 19% fewer brothers, and 15% fewer religious priests compared with a decade ago, though the number of permanent deacons has increased slightly, by 3%. Gray said the United States disproportionately relies on immigrant priests to address its own shortages.
Additionally, according to the General Social Survey, weekly Mass attendance among Catholics in the U.S. declined from 25% in 2012 to 17% in 2020-2021. The drop in sacramental participation in the U.S. — baptisms, marriages, etc. — mirrors the global trends.
As well, “since 2013, we’ve lost more than 1,000 parishes through reorganizations and closures,” Gray noted.
“Daily prayer declined from 59% to 51% from 2012 to 2020-2021. Unlike Mass attendance, one can pray at home and this should not have been affected by the pandemic. If anything, one might think Catholics would be praying more often during that time.”
Gray again cautioned that there are much larger demographic and social changes going on in the U.S. — and in the world at large — than can be attributed solely to Pope Francis’ leadership.
“No one should be giving Pope Francis a 10-year report card based on the most current data available,” he concluded.
“And when more comparable post-COVID-19 data are available, any ‘grades’ given for changes in the number of sacraments celebrated should be considered within the context of what is happening demographically across the globe.”
Speaking with CNA, he added: “It’s hard to make this comparison [between 2013 and 2023] because we have these lags in the data … We’ll know more in a couple of years when the data catches up with us.”
‘Not an easy job’: Pope Francis asks for prayers on 10th anniversary as pope
Posted on 03/12/2023 19:00 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Rome Newsroom, Mar 12, 2023 / 11:00 am (CNA).
Pope Francis asked for prayers as he spoke about the future of the Church and his pontificate so far in an interview published in the early hours of Sunday.
Speaking to the Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano, Francis declined to evaluate his pontificate so far, saying the Lord will judge his life one day based on whether he practiced the Corporal Works of Mercy as taught by Jesus.
“The Church is not a business, or an NGO, and the pope is not an administrator who has been commissioned to balance the numbers at the end of the year,” he said, according to an English transcript published on Il Fatto Quotidiano March 12.
The interview, one in a slew of recent papal interviews to be published, marks the March 13 anniversary of Pope Francis’ election to the papacy.
“Being the pope is not an easy job. Nobody has studied before doing this,” the pope said, recalling how St. Peter also “fell” when he denied Christ.
“But, after the resurrection, Jesus chose [Peter] again,” Pope Francis explained. “That is the mercy of the Lord towards us. Also towards the pope. ‘Servus inutilis sum.’ I’m a useless servant, as wrote Saint Paul VI in his ‘Thoughts on Death.’”
According to the pope, it’s not easy to pay attention to God’s will and put it into practice: “It’s necessary to attune yourself with the Lord, not with the world.”
The latest papal interview centered on Pope Francis’ hopes for the future of the Church, the world, and his own life.
He said the “governing program” of his pontificate was to implement the requests of the College of Cardinals’ general congregation, the meetings that took place ahead of the conclave that elected him.
He also said that back in 2013, he reflected often on a quote from the homily of the first Mass of Pope Benedict XVI.
On April 24, 2005, Benedict said: “In this moment it’s not necessary for me to present a governing program. … My true governing program is that which doesn’t follow my own will, to not pursue my own ideas, but to listen, alongside all of the Church, to the words and the will of the Lord and let myself be guided by him, so that he himself guides the Church in this hour of our history.”
Francis also credited Benedict XVI with tackling the abuse crisis in the Church with courage.
Asked about his wish for the world, Pope Francis responded: “peace.”
He also criticized what he called a “globalization of indifference” in the face of tragedies like war: “The turning a blind eye and saying, ‘Why should I care? It doesn’t interest me! It’s not my problem!’”
Francis said one of his dreams for the future of the Church is a Church which ventures out into the world and is among the people.
He also addressed the topic of clericalism.
“I dream of a Church without clericalism,” he said, quoting Cardinal Henri-Marie de Lubac.
Lubac wrote that for a priest, clericalism “would be infinitely more disastrous than any simple moral worldliness,” the pope said.
“Clericalism is the worst thing that can happen to the Church, worse still than the periods in which the pope was corrupt,” he added. “A priest, a bishop or a cardinal who becomes ill through clericalism does a lot of damage to the Church. It’s a contagious disease. Even worse are the clericalized lay people: they are a nuisance in the Church. Lay people should be lay people.”
Pope Francis said one issue that has made him suffer a lot during his pontificate is corruption.
“I’m not speaking about only financial corruption, inside and outside of the Vatican, I’m talking about corruption of the heart. Corruption is a scandal,” he said.
His hope for his own future, he said, is that the Lord will be merciful with him.
Addressing readers of the newspaper, he asked for prayers from those who pray and “good vibes” from those who do not. “The pope loves you and is praying for you.”
“Even if bad things happen, even if you have had a bad experience with someone from the Church, don’t let it condition you. The Lord is always waiting for you with open arms. I hope you succeed in experiencing it within your lives like I have within mine many times. The Lord has always been beside me, above all in the darkest moments.”
Pope Francis: People are looking for ‘an oasis in the Church’
Posted on 03/12/2023 14:37 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Vatican City, Mar 12, 2023 / 06:37 am (CNA).
People are looking for an oasis in the Catholic Church from which to slake the thirst left by busyness, indifference, and consumerism, Pope Francis said on Sunday.
The pope’s March 12 Angelus message, delivered from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, focused on the story of Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well, specifically his request to her to “give me a drink.”
“This Sunday,” Francis said to approximately 20,000 people gathered in the square, “the Gospel presents us one of the most beautiful and fascinating encounters Jesus has.”
Jesus’ request for water to the Samaritan woman “is an image of God’s abasement,” he said. “God abases himself in Jesus, God made himself one of us — he abased himself — [made himself] thirsty like us. He suffers our same thirst.”
Pope Francis said the words of Jesus, “give me a drink,” also teach us about our obligation to help others in need, whether materially or emotionally.
“How many say give me a drink to us — in our family, many at work, many in other places we find ourselves. They thirst for closeness, for attention, for a listening ear. People say it who thirst for the Word of God and need to find an oasis in the Church where they can drink,” he said.
“Give me a drink,” the pope added, “is a cry from our society, where the frenetic pace, the rush to consume, and above all indifference — this culture of indifference — generate aridity and interior emptiness.”
“And — let us not forget this — give me a drink is the cry of many brothers and sisters who lack the water to live, while our common home continues to be polluted and defaced. And it, too, exhausted and parched, ‘is thirsty,’” he said.
However, Jesus shares the world’s thirst, Pope Francis emphasized.
“In fact, Jesus’ thirst is not only physical,” he explained. “It expresses the deepest thirsts of our lives, and above all, a thirst for our love. He is more than a beggar; he is [athirst] for our love. And it will emerge at the culminating moment of his passion, on the cross, where, before dying, Jesus will say: ‘I thirst’ (Jn 19:28). That thirst for love that led him to come down, to lower himself, to be one of us.”
“The Lord who asks for a drink is the One who gives a drink. Meeting the Samaritan woman, he speaks to her about the Holy Spirit’s living water. And from the cross, blood and water flow from his pierced side (cf. Jn 19:34),” he continued.
“Thirsty for love, Jesus quenches our thirst with love. And he does with us what he did with the Samaritan woman — he comes to meet us in our daily life, he shares our thirst, he promises us living water that makes eternal life overflow within us.”