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Pope Francis guide to repentance – Perspectives Daily

What does it mean to repent? Pope Francis has details, and we tell you what they are. Chile will be home to a distinctive work of liturgical art, we’ll give you the details, and the cause for the beatification of Fra Andrew Bertie has been opened.

Vatican Connections: February 27


Pope Francis has been on retreat this week, along with the members of the Roman Curia. Continuing a practice the pope started during his first year on the chair of St. Peter, he and his collaborators are spending the week at a retreat house in the Roman hillside town of Arriccia. Carmelite Father Bruno Secondin led the week-long spiritual exercises. The theme: “Servants and Prophets of the Living God.”

Below is part of Fr. Secondin’s meditation from the second day of the retreat.

To undertake a real Lenten journey of conversion, we must first rediscover the “deepest truth about ourselves, come out in the open” and “remove every mask, every ambiguity.” With this strong reminder to look back honestly at our history, the Carmelite Bruno Secondin concluded the second day, Monday, 23 February, of the Lenten spiritual exercises for the Pope and the Roman Curia in Ariccia.

Following the experience of Elijah taken from the Scriptures, the preacher described the “hiding” from which the prophet was called by the Lord, that hiding in which we often cloak ourselves and which many times is masked by some kind of exterior religiosity, devoid of the courage that comes with truth.

After having the courage to come out in the open, to say the truth about ourselves, to remove the mask that numbs our consciences, we must begin to walk on the “paths of freedom” and eliminate those attitudes that make us “swing from one side to another” in order to make room for God. Fr. Secondin continued his reflection on this point Tuesday morning, 24, inviting those on retreat to consider the particular choices of the Church in our time: “Do we deal with the important things in small circles or do we know how to have a clear strategy that takes the system by surprise?”. How much suffering, for example, “have certain sensitive subjects caused us”, Fr Secondin said, then adding: “We must not hide our scandals” and it is important that “victims of injustice be led to healing by recognizing our errors with humility”.

Acknowledging the faults of the Church emerged in another episode as well. Taking inspiration from that terrible act of Elijah who executes the prophets of Baal, the preacher invited all to remember how the Church in her history was capable of acts of violence. “We too burned people, we have killed”, he said. And he stressed that today violence can be expressed in other forms, “even without the sword”, referring to the explosive power of language and modern means of communication: “Sometimes the keyboard kills more than the sword!”.

– See more at:


Coast to Coast: February 15 to February 21


Here are some of the stories getting attention across the country this week:

In preparation for October’s Synod on the Family, the Vatican has asked bishops to consult as many lay people, priests and religious as possible on topics related to the family. Canadian dioceses are going forward whole heartedly to reach as many Canadian Catholics as possible.

In Saskatoon, ecumenical dialogue is a big part of Catholic life. The latest endeavour: a dialogue with Evangelical Christians of various denominations. Here’s how it’s going.

In Edmonton, attention has shifted from the recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling on assisted suicide to what it means to have “good death” and the beauty of walking with the terminally ill on their journey.

A Ugandan nun who leads a unique ministry that seeks to help shunned women recover their dignity, shared her story with an audience in Vancouver…including why she would forgive the armed rebels she had to face down.

Vatican Connections: February 20


Pope Francis told Ukrainian bishops to avoid politicizing their role in the face of the ongoing conflict in the country. He made the comment in a text handed out to the bishops during their Ad Limina visit this week.

Ukranian Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk told reporters earlier in the week his goal, and the goal of his brother bishops, was to tell the pope “the truth” about the situation in Ukraine. Pope Francis told the bishops focus on the humanitarian and social realities of the situation and avoid getting involved in politics.

For Archbishop Shevchuk the truth of the situation is that there 2 million Ukrainians have been displaced as a result of the conflict. This week the United Nation said more 5,358 people have been killed and 12,235 wounded since last April. According to Archbishop Shevchuk, most of the dead are civilians.

In advance of his meeting with the pope, the Archbishop told reporters he intended to make clear that the conflict is not a civil war but “the direct aggression of our neighbours.”

Some critics have claimed the Holy See is using terminology in line with Russia’s position on the situation in order to preserve good relations with the Orthodox Church. During a recent general audience Pope Francis called for a dialogue to end the conflict. According to the Italian transcript of his comments released by the Vatican, Pope Francis referred to the conflict as “a war between Christians.” He said “you have the same baptism. you are fighting among christians.”

In the text Pope Francis distributed to the Ukranian bishops on Thursday, he said they have a right as citizens of Ukraine to express their thoughts on the future of the country, but they should promote any concrete political action.

The pope called for unity among Christians in the country in dealing with the human tragedy caused by the conflict. He also said economic problems and income disparity need attention.

Reiterating the statements he made at a recent general audience, Pope Francis asked for the  cease-fire to be respected.

Meet the Cardinals: Luigi De Magistris


by Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The day Pope Francis announced he would be making Italian Archbishop Luigi De Magistris a cardinal, the archbishop was doing what he usually did in retirement on Sundays: He was administering the sacrament of confession in the cathedral of Cagliari, his hometown.

The cardinal-designate, who will celebrate his 89th birthday nine days after receiving his red hat Feb. 14, spent almost a quarter-century at the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican tribunal dealing with matters of conscience. The office also coordinates the work of the priests serving as confessors in St. Peter’s Basilica and the major basilicas of Rome and an annual course for priests and seminarians on administering the sacrament of penance.

In preparation for the Jubilee Year 2000, then-Msgr. De Magistris put out a general call for more priests to staff the confessionals of the Rome basilicas.

“The more there are, the better,” he said. “We will have to pray to the Lord to send many, many good priests” to administer the sacrament.

Pope Francis announced Jan. 4 the names of the 20 churchmen he had chosen to induct into the College of Cardinals. Archbishop De Magistris and four others are over the age of 80, so they will be ineligible to participate in a conclave to elect a new pope, but they are invited to take part in the meetings and discussions of the college, which advises the pope.

Born in Cagliari Feb. 23, 1926, he studied for the priesthood in Rome, earning degrees in philosophy and theology from the Pontifical Lateran University, and was ordained in 1952. After six years of pastoral ministry in the Archdiocese of Cagliari, he was called back to the university, this time to serve as its secretary.

After a year, he was transferred to what is now known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, where he served under Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani during the Second Vatican Council. In 1969, he moved to the Vatican Secretariat of State where he worked for 10 years. Pope John Paul II named him regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary in 1979 and named him a bishop in 1996.

Solid rumors that he was about to be named a cardinal began in 2001 when Pope John Paul named him head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, a position church rules reserve to a cardinal. But he was still an archbishop in 2003 when he retired at the age of 77.

He has served as a consultant to the congregations for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, for Saints’ Causes, the Evangelization of Peoples and Clergy, as well as for the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei,” which Pope John Paul established to assist Catholics attached to the pre-Vatican II liturgy.

Photo credit: Diocese of Cagliari

Coast to Coast: February 8 to February 14


Here’s what’s been making headlines in the Church across Canada:

More reaction to the Supreme Court ruling on assisted suicide.

Archbishop Michael Miller sent this letter to Vancouver’s Catholics

Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto and representatives of various groups focused on life issues also issued statements in the days after the ruling.

Similarly, Bishop Donald Bolen of Saskatoon reacted to the ruling.

Vatican Connections: February 13


This week was bursting at the seams with things happening inside Vatican walls. Several key meetings were lined up back to back.

The Council of Cardinals, known colloquially as “the C9”, met again this week to continue their work towards a reformed curia. This time they had a more immediate task: presenting the fruit of their work to the full College of Cardinals, gathered in Rome in advance of the Ordinary Public Consistory for the Creation of New Cardinals.

Economy was a big topic on the agenda at the pre-consistory meetings. Four different people gave presentations about Vatican finances:

  • Joseph Zahra, the layman who led the Commission of Reference on the Organization of Economic – Administrative structures of the Holy See, gave an overview of that commission’s findings
  • Cardinal Reinhard Marx, the head of the Council for the Economy, spoke about his council’s work
  • Jean Baptiste de Franssu, the head of the Institue for Works of Religion – commonly known as the “Vatican bank”, talked about the results of the various studies and changes at that institute, it’s current work, and it’s future prospects.
  • Cardinal George Pell, the Secretary for the Economy, similarly spoke about what his secretariat has accomplished thus far. He told Crux, the web-based catholic news site run by the Boston Globe, that his work uncovered 1.5 billion dollars in hidden assets at the Vatican.

The cardinals in attendance were also able to ask questions, share observations, and raise their concerns. Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican’s spokesperson, said several prelates brought up the issue of coordination of the curia. He said they spoke both of a coordination of the curia’s functions as well the need to create a sense of communion in mission. The cardinals also spoke of the need for “simplification” of the curia and the need for people in the curia to be qualified for their job.

The College of Cardinals also hear from Cardinal Sean O’Malley about the work being done by the Commission for the Protection of Minors. At a recent press conference Cardinal O’Malley said the commission is adamant the issue of bishop accountability must be addressed. The commission is also preparing seminars for new bishops when they come to Rome for their orientation, and for members of the curia.


Meet the Cardinals: Julio Duarte Langa


By Lise Alves Catholic News Service

SAO PAULO, Brazil (CNS) — Cardinal-designate Julio Duarte Langa, retired bishop of Xai-Xai, Mozambique, is best known for staying close to his congregation and always looking out for the poorest in his community.

“He is a true pastor,” said Auxiliary Bishop Joao Hatoa Nunes of Maputo, Mozambique. “While others travel around the country and the world, he remains at his diocese, prioritizing the poorer population in his region.”

Cardinal-designate Langa, 87, is one five bishops over 80 who will be elevated to cardinal Feb. 14. Fifteen other new cardinals will be eligible to vote in a conclave, but church rules say Cardinal-designate Langa and others over 80 will not be allowed to vote for a new pope.

Pope Francis said he chose to honor these older bishops who are “distinguished for their pastoral charity in service to the Holy See and the church.”

The nomination of Cardinal-designate Langa has also been interpreted as a recognition by the pope of the work done by the church in this African nation.

“By nominating someone, as he once said of himself ‘from almost the end of the world,’ the pope reiterates his belief that the church should go out to the streets, to those most in need,” Archbishop Nunes, spokesman for the bishops’ conference in Mozambique, told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview.

He also described the nomination of the country’s second cardinal as a great honor for the relatively new independent country and church. Mozambique obtained its independence from Portugal in 1975.

“For such a new church to have already two cardinals is a feat and an honor,” added Archbishop Nunes. He said he believes that by nominating another cardinal from Mozambique, Pope Francis is recognizing the hard work of evangelization by the Catholic Church in the country.

Cardinal Alexandre Jose Maria dos Santos, retired archbishop of Maputo, is 90.

In a country where the biggest challenges of both church and state are poverty, minimal education and maintenance of the newly obtained democracy, the archbishop said the nomination also will put an “African face” to the church in the continent.

“Our presence will be stronger in Rome, even though Bishop Langa will not be a voting cardinal,” he said.

Julio Duarte Langa was born in Mangunze, Mozambique, in Oct. 27, 1927, and was ordained a priest in 1957. He was ordained a bishop by Blessed Paul VI in 1976 and named to head the Xai-Xai Diocese right after the country’s independence.

Archbishop Nunes said a man of God does not have to be well known outside his diocese to be a vital member of the church.

“It is those who remain anonymous, who do not stand out much, who do the most work and carry God’s words farther,” he said. “I believe that Pope Francis, with these nominations, has tried to remind the world that there are God’s children in places like this who have not been correctly represented.”

Meet the Cardinals: Luis Hector Villalba


By David Agren Catholic News Service

MEXICO CITY (CNS) — Cardinal-designate Luis Hector Villalba of Tucuman, Argentina, was watching the Angelus prayer from the Vatican on television Jan. 4 when he heard Pope Francis — an old colleague and countryman — read his name as one of 20 new cardinals.

He then went to the Santa Cruz chapel in Tucuman, 775 miles northwest of Buenos Aires, where the octogenarian celebrated Sunday Mass for barrio dwellers.

Cardinal-designate Villalba was to become one of 20 prelates elevated to cardinal in ceremonies at the Vatican Feb. 14. He is one of five new cardinals over the age of 80 and ineligible to vote in a future papal conclave.

Still, his elevation sends a signal of the kind of church Pope Francis wants to promote in which a pastoral approach is preferred and those living on the periphery are placed in prominent positions.

“The new Argentinian cardinal was and is a priest, a shepherd with the smell of sheep,” journalist Hector Tito Garabal wrote on his news website Infobae. He has known Cardinal-designate Villalba for more than 40 years.

Garabal described his friend as an exemplary priest and bishop. “Once he became a bishop, he never stopped being a priest. One virtue of Villalba … is that he has always been a priest,” he said.

Cardinal-designate Villalba could be credited with showing Pope Francis — Jorge Mario Bergoglio — the pastoral approach he is promoting today. As auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires, he was vicar in the Flores district of the diocese, which includes Pope Francis’ birthplace. The pope succeeded him in 1992 and said he only had to continue doing the same “because Villalba has left everything sown,” Garabal said.

Cardinal-designate Villalba was born in Buenos Aires, Oct. 11, 1934. He was ordained in 1960 and, after studying in Rome, he was named a parish priest in the Argentine capital. There, he was known for overhauling the local Caritas from being a food and clothing bank to an organization known for serving people who came with more than material needs, Garabal said.

He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires in 1984 and bishop of San Martin in 1991. In 1999, he became archbishop of Tucuman, where he stayed after retiring in 2009. Cardinal-designate Villalba was active in the Argentine bishops’ conference, serving twice as vice president and working with the then-president, Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires — acting as a sort of troubleshooter.

“He worked actively with Bergoglio in the Argentine bishops’ conference,” said Jose Maria Poirier, publisher of the Catholic magazine Criterio in Buenos Aires. “He faced very complicated and difficult situations in some dioceses.”

One situation was a scandal in the Diocese of Santiago del Estero, where the well-liked bishop, known for his work with the poor, resigned after being caught on tape with a male lover in what many, including some in the church, considered revenge for his denouncing political corruption.

“Villalba had to confront this difficult situation with great balance, without deteriorating the image of his predecessor and continuing his work,” Poirier said.

“Always in conflictive situations in other dioceses or the conference, Villalba was a man of moderation, acting as a bridge, and finding agreement.”

Cardinal-designate Villalba still acts as a pastor in Tucuman. He is in charge of the Holy Cross chapel and is catechism director at St. Martin de Porres Parish.

Meet the Cardinals: Daniel Fernando Sturla Berhouet


By David Agren Catholic News Service.

MEXICO CITY (CNS) — Cardinal-designate Daniel Sturla Berhouet of Montevideo, Uruguay, was ministering in a working-class barrio when he learned of his elevation to cardinal — circumstances not lost on Uruguayan church officials.

The Jan. 4 announcement that the archbishop was one of 20 men who would be elevated to cardinal Feb. 14 was “a sign in the direction pointed to by Pope Francis,” Bishop Heriberto Bodeant Fernandez of Melo, Uruguay, told Catholic News Service in an email.

In neighboring Argentina, Pope Francis pointed the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires in a similar direction by putting his best priests in poor barrios and making those on the margins of society the center of his ministry.

Cardinal-designate Sturla, 55, has adopted a similar approach in Montevideo, capital of Uruguay. He sees young people falling away from the church as a challenge to correct, in what is already the least-Catholic country in Latin America and one moving in a socially liberal direction.

In comments provided by Bishop Bodeant, Cardinal-designate Sturla said after his elevation: “In Uruguay, we have to think what we can do so that this message (of the Gospel) gets to young people in the working-class barrios.

“This, for me, is priority No. 1.”

The cardinal-designate has his work cut out for him. Only 46 percent of Uruguayans profess Catholicism, according to a government survey, compared with 76 percent in Argentina. Bishop Bodeant said Uruguay also has “a strongly secularized culture,” evidenced by the approval in recent years of more liberal abortion laws, the legalization of same-sex marriages and the decriminalization of marijuana.

Bishop Bodeant said the cardinal-designate speculated he might have been named a cardinal to help the Catholic Church gain ground.

“Uruguay is not the poorest country in Latin America (but) the Uruguayan Catholic Church is the poorest in the region in its resources and quantity of people. Pope Francis knows this,” Bishop Bodeant commented, citing what Cardinal-designate Sturla had said.

Cardinal-designate Sturla told the Uruguayan newspaper El Pais that introducing people to the Gospel is another priority, while changing perceptions of the church was a challenge, especially as the average prelate is shown no special reverence or respect and seen simply in Uruguay as “che cura,” loosely translated as “priest dude.”

Cardinal-designate Sturla was the youngest of five children in a church-going family. Both his parents died while he was a teenager.

He studied in a school run by the Brothers of the Holy Family and participated in the Jesuits’ youth movement. In 1975, he was among the five Jesuits and 33 lay Catholics abducted by soldiers in Montevideo on Good Friday, according to an account from Italian journalist Nello Scavo in his book, “Bergoglio’s List: Those Saved by Pope Francis; Stories Never Told.”

Pope Francis, then Jesuit provincial for Argentina and Uruguay, managed to inform the Vatican, which sent telegrams to Uruguayan officials urging the captives be released.

In 1980, Cardinal-designate Sturla joined the Salesians of St. John Bosco and was ordained in 1987. The cardinal-designate has taught history and even authored a book: “Holy Week or Tourism? The secularization of the calendar in Uruguay.”

The announcement he would be elevated to cardinal comes less than a year after he was appointed archbishop of Montevideo, a move Bishop Bodeant said came as a surprise.

It also came as Uruguay, a country of just 3.4 million people, was making headlines for decriminalizing marijuana.

In a newspaper interview in early 2014, the cardinal-designate said, “I do not have a fully formed opinion.”

“I think that those promoting the law have the good intention of curbing drug trafficking,” he told El Pais. “The law that was approved has faults” — such as the state possibly controlling the production and distribution of marijuana — “but I understand that we have to find ways to save young people from drugs.”

He also expressed opposition to approval of abortion and same-sex marriages, but called for the church to “look ahead” because laws on both issues were “already approved.”

“The important thing is that the church goes out and cures the injured of society, that it continues defending the life of the unborn,” he said.