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Vatican Connections: December 19, 2014

Eight people were appointed to the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Minors this week, including an abuse survivor. With the appointments the commission is now fully formed and set to begin working in early February.

The new members come from different parts of the world and have expertise in some aspect related to sexual abuse. One of the new members, Peters Saunders, is an abuse survivor and the founder of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC). He was also one of six abuse survivors who met with Pope Francis in July.

Here are more details on the new committee members:

Father Luis Manuel ALI HERRERA is the Director of the Department of Psychology and a professor of pastoral psychology in the Conciliar Seminary of the Archdiocese of Bogotá, Colombia. He also serves as a parish priest.

Dr. Gabriel DY-LIACCO is an adult and adolescent psychotherapist in the Philippines. He is also a pastoral counselor for individuals, couples, families and groups with various mental health concerns. Dr. Dy Liacco has worked with both victims and perpetrators of abuse.

Bill KILGALLON is Director of the National Office for Professional Standards of the Catholic Church in New Zealand. He moved to New Zealand four years ago after a long career in social work and health services in the United Kingdom.

Sr. Kayula Gertrude LESA, RSC works at the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection in Zambia. She is the author of books on child protection, human trafficking, refugee rights and the right to information. She served as a member of the African Forum for Church Social Teaching (AFCAST).

Sr. Hermenegild MAKORO, CPS is the secretary general of the South African Bishops conference. She is a member of the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood in the Diocese of Mathatha.

Kathleen McCORMACK has served as Director of Welfare of CatholicCare in the Diocese of Wollongong, Australia for 29 years. CatholicCare helps diocese provide social services to people in need. McCormack held leadership roles in Family Services, Child Protection, Out Of Home Care and Ageing and Disability Services.

Peter SAUNDERS was abused throughout his childhood in Wimbledon, South West London.   Saunders eventually discovered that he was one of millions who had suffered such abuse and who could not find any appropriate support. He set up the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, to help support survivors and to help develop greater resources for responding to child abuse.

Dr. Krysten WINTER-GREEN is a New Zealander living in the United States. She has with post-graduate degrees in Theology, Human Development, Social Work, Religion and Pastoral Psychology. Winter-Green served as Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley’s chancellor when he was bishop of St. Thomas in the American Virgin Islands, and she also worked for him in Fall River and Boston. According to the biographical information provided by the Vatican she has done extensive work in the area of forensics, assessment and treatment of priest and clergy offenders.”

The commission will meet at the Vatican in early February.

Coast to Coast: December 6 to 12, 2014

Here are some stories being talked about across the Church in Canada this week:

When Pope Francis met recntly with people who have autistic disorders and their families, he called on everyone to work together to end the stigma that often comes with the disorder. One Toronto parish has been working on exactly that.

Ever heard of Sobor? Ukranian Catholics in Saskatoon just had one and Bishop Bryan Bayda explains what it is.

While racial tensions flare in the U.S., one Edmonton group is trying to help people of different races and religions find common ground.

Did you know there is a Canadian ecumenical group dedicated to fighting the militarization of space? That’s just one of the things Project Plowshares has worked for in it’s nearly 40 year history. However, the loss of government contracts and funding is causing a shift in its mandate.

Vatican Connections: December 12, 2014

This week the Council of Cardinals met again in Rome, a consistory was announced, a papal interview was published, and Pope Francis delivered a powerful homily for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe .

The Guadalupe homily, delivered in Spanish during a mass Pope Francis celebrated at St. Peter’s, packs a powerful punch and sends an unmistakable message to anyone who thinks Latin America is free for the exploiting. Read the English translation of that homily on Vatican Radio’s website.

and while their meeting did not produce any ground breaking news, the media briefing about the meetings brought much to write about. Pope Francis himself shook things up by giving an exclusive interview to an Argentine newspaper in which he didn’t shy away from any topic and set the record straight on a couple of things.

Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican’s Spokesperson, admitted that the reform of the Curia’s constitution is a long way from being written, but deliberation and analysis continues. Then, almost as an aside, he informed journalists that Pope Francis will create new cardinals at a February consistory. Cue the lists of red-hat predictions.

If Pope Francis sticks to the current rules regarding the size of the College of Cardinals, he will have between 10 and 12 “red hats” to hand out in February. North American observers are already deliberating if he might name American cardinals. European observers believe it is unlikely he will do so.

In a recent interview the pope granted to the Argentine newspaper La Nacion, the pontiff said he does not believe that heads of Vatican departments need to be Cardinals. There are some exceptions of course. Specifically, he said the only dicasteries that need cardinals at the helm are the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Divine Worship, and Bishops. So the likelihood of Pope Francis elevating curial officials to the College of Cardinals is also unlikely.

The other news Fr. Lombardi delivered is that the Commission for the Protection of Minors will be expanded to included 18 members who represent different parts of the world. The first meeting of that fully established commission is scheduled for early February.

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Pope Francis gave a no-holds barred interview to Elisabetta Pique of La Nacion, an Argentine daily newspaper.

Perhaps because he’s known Pique since 2001, he was not shy about saying what he thinks and even clarifying what others think he thinks.

The pope had very clear words to say about the recent synod, the way divorced and civilly remarried Catholics are treated by the church ( they’re treated as “de-facto excommunicated” people, unable to even be Godparents), people who claim they don’t understand his plans for the church, his appointment of Cardinal Raymond Burke as chaplain of the Order of the Knights of Malta, and on the importance of keeping his head on straight.

Elisabetta Pique elaborates on some of these comments, and talks to me about her book “Francis: Life and Revolution” on this week’s edition of Vatican Connections.

**

The week ended with the celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The music setting used for this Mass was the Argentine Mass setting “Missa Criolla”. Stay tuned after the end of Vatican Connections for some clips from the Mass featuring this goose-bump inducing Mass setting.

 

Coast to Coast: November 29 to December 5, 2014

Here’s what’s been making headlines in the church across Canada this week:

In Montreal: Hockey legend Jean Beliveau passed away this week. The obituaries in national media focused on his hockey skill and his upstanding sportsmanship. None mentioned his commitment to his Catholic faith. Montreal Archbishop Christian Lepin will preside at the funeral Mass for this Canadian icon.

Sundays have increasingly become a work-day for many people. How does one find peace and rest – or even God- if even one doesn’t have time to rest and disconnect from the daily grind?

The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is often considered a Latin American feast. But Juan Diego was an indigenous person, so the Archdiocese of Edmonton uses the feast to unite in prayer with Canada’s aboriginal community.

What’s it like to have tea with a pope? One Vancouver  man – a former British parachutist involved in the liberation of Italy- can tell you what its like.

Vatican Connections: December 5, 2014

How Bishops are Appointed

Last week on Vatican Connections we talked about how a bishop gets appointed. It’s a rather long process, and some viewers wrote in asking if there was a text explaining the process. (I talk fast sometimes!).

Step one:

The process begins at the local level. The bishops in a region submit to their metropolitan archbishop, names of priests who they believe would be good bishops. During regional bishops meetings those names are voted on. The final list of names is then sent on to the national bishops’ conference.

Step two:

When an Episcopal appointment needs to be made, the bishops’ conference sends a list of relevant names to the papal nuncio, who begins his own investigation into the names presented to him. This involves getting to know the candidate’s character and is often done with a questionnaire, sent secretly to people who have had close contact with the would-be bishop. One of the goals of the investigation is to ensure there is nothing in the candidate’s past or present that would make him unsuitable to be bishop.

Step three:

Once the nuncio has completed his investigation he picks the three candidates he thinks would be most suitable for the vacancy needing to be filled. The nuncio send those that list of three names (called a “terna”) to the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops.

Step Four:

The “terna” is handed over to the Congregation for Bishops. This is where things slow down somewhat. If the appointment involves a priest being made a bishop, the entire congregation needs to weigh in on the matter. Since the congregation only meets twice a month, it take a while for a given appointment to be considered. A cardinal-relator must be appointed to present the file on each candidate to the congregation, and then the congregation votes. There are two options: the congregation might pick a candidate, or they may decide none of the three candidates is right. If the congregation decides that none of the candidates are right for the vacancy, they send word to the Nuncio in that country to start over again and submit three more names.

If the congregation decides on a candidate, the prefect of the congregation takes that decision and all relevant information about the appointment, to the Pope.

If the appointment involves raising a Bishop to Archbishop, the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops can review the case and make recommendations himself, without needing the whole congregation to vote on it.

Step Five:

The Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops tells the pope what the congregation recommends for the appointment in question. He then leaves the matter with the pope. When the pope has considered the matter and made a decision, he informs the Congregation for Bishops of his decision, and the appointment is announced.

The process has encounter roadblocks at any point along the way: Early on it can be discovered that the candidate is unsuitable for a number reasons, the Congregation for Bishops might not approve of any of the names on the “terna”, the pope might not agree with the Congregation’s recommendations, or a candidate might discover he is being considered for an Episcopal position and ask to be removed from the list of candidates.

 

 

Coast to Coast: November 22 to 28, 2014

Here are some stories from across the Canadian Church this week:

Ever wonder what its like to live in a place with no permanent priest? One community in La Ronge, Saskatchewan knows exactly what that feels like. One sister offers her presence as a means of spiritual support to the community.

You may have heard about the new campaign from Development & Peace, Sow much love, in your parish recently. For one woman that campaign caused her to take a long look at the role her employer, Monsanto, plays in the food and farming industry.

and in Vancouver:  what happens when two drama teachers join forces to give wayward students something to do and role models to look up to?

Vatican Connections: November 28, 2014

Three priests and a layperson where arrested in Spain after Pope Francis encouraged an abuse victim to take his case to authorities.

The victim, a 24 year old, male,  Opus Dei supernumerary, wrote to Pope Francis after hearing the pontiff statements about zero tolerance for abusers and people who cover up abuse. Upon reading the letter Pope Francis called the man, apologized for the abuse and told him “tomorrow you go to the bishop.”

Pope Francis followed up on that conversation by writing directly to the Archbishop of Granada, instructing him to begin an investigation into the priests named by the victim.

In a statement posted on the archdiocese’s website, the Archbishop of Granada “scrupulously followed” church law and opened a canonical investigation into the allegations. The three priests in question were also immediately removed from ministry.

The archdiocese’s statement also says once the victim took his allegations to police the archdiocese agreed to comply with the police investigation. According to the archdiocese, it could not forward the matter to police on behalf of the victim because the victim is now an adult. As such the victim was only person entitled to take the matter to police.

Spanish media have reported that the pope called the victim a second time, encouraging him to go to police. The Vatican has not confirmed that this second phone call occurred.

As a result of the police investigation into the allegations, three priests and one layperson were arrested. The lay person was religion teacher. That person’s teaching authorization has since been removed by the Archdiocese of Granada.

The Spanish newspaper ABC reported that at least one more victim has come forward to police with allegations of abuse related to the priests in question.

Pope Francis was asked about the case during a press conference on Tuesday that was held while he was flying back to Rome from Strasbourg. The pope said he received the news of the allegations “with great pain” adding “but the truth is the truth and we cannot hide it.”

Vatican Connections: November 21, 2014

VatiConnections

The Vatican bank has repatriated twenty three million euros that were frozen for more than three years, by Italian authorities.

The Institute for Works of Religion, commonly known as the Vatican bank, announced the repatriation of the money in a statement released November 18. The funds were unblocked in 2011 but was not repatriated because “issues regarding customer due diligence remained unsolved.”

Since 2011 the Vatican has implemented new policies in line with the European Union’s anti-money laundering measures. Those policies were approved by the MONEYVAL committee of the council of Europe.

In 2010 the Vatican bank moved 23 million euro from its treasury funds into an Italian bank account. According to Italian financial authorities it was unclear where the money came from and to whom it belonged. Vatican officials maintained the lack of information was due to a clerical error. Italian financial police seized the money as part of an anti-money laundering operation.

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The theme of the next synod on the family has been set and new document on family issues will be sent to bishops around the world before the end of the year.

The theme of the 2015 synod is “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the contemporary world.” Four Cardinals will serve as synod presidents: Andre Vignt Trois of Paris, Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, Raymundo Damasceno Assis of Aparecida, Brazil and Wilfrid Napier of Durban, South Africa.

The council agreed to send a the preparatory document for the next synod to bishops around the world along with “a series of points that may assist in its reception and analysis”

Coast to Coast: November 8 to 14, 2014

In Toronto, different religious groups are working together by opening their place of worship on winter nights to keep the city’s homeless out of the cold.

In Saskatoon, Bishop Don Bolen is calling on Catholics to get better informed about the cases of missing aboriginal women in the province and the country, and pray for families whose sisters and daughters are missing.

In Edmonton, Fr. Leo Hoffman offers tips and suggestions on dealing with people who are grieving.

And in Vancouver, the archdiocese is preparing to move into a new chancery building, complete with custom artwork.

The next edition of Coast to Coast will be published on November 29, 2014.

Vatican Connections: November 14, 2014

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A group of Catholic and Muslim scholars meeting at the Vatican this week unanimously condemned acts of terrorism and violence, persecution, and desecration of sacred places.

The 12 Catholic and 12 Muslim scholars were taking part in the third Catholic – Muslim Forum which focused on “Working together to Serve Others.”

The participants acknowledged that their meeting took place at a time of great tension and conflict and said that makes mutual cooperation more important than ever.

In a statement released at the end of the three day meeting, forum participants pointed to education as a key to promoting respect for others. According to participants, textbooks used in schools, churches and mosques must offer a respectful land objective portrayal of other religions and ethnic groups.

The forum was established in 2008 after more than 100 Muslim scholars launched the “Common Word” initiative to foster understanding and dialogue between Muslims and Christians.

The alleged killing of 43 student teachers in Mexico, which prompted Pope Francis to denounce the violence behind drug trafficking, has taken another tragic twist.

In the search for the bodies of the 43 missing student teachers, searchers found a mass grave containing 38 bodies, including that of a priest who disappeared in April.

Father John Ssenysondo, a Comboni Missionary originally from Uganda, disappeared April 30 after celebrating Mass in the town of Chilapa de Alvarez. Local media report the priest disappeared after refusing to baptize the child of a couple who were known members of a local drug gang.

None of the bodies found in the grave with Fr. Ssenysondo have been identified as those of the missing student teachers.

In his general audience on Wednesday Pope Francis expressed his closeness with Mexican citizens and said although the 43 teachers are legally disappeared, “we know they are killed.” He said their disappearance and deaths “make visible the dramatic reality that exists behind the sale and trafficking of drugs.”