Today on Perspectives we have the next instalment of the CNS series “For God and Country.” This time we look at the types of challenges that chaplains help military families deal with.
There were significant resignations and several important nominations behind Vatican walls this week. The long expected retirement of Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi finally came to pass. As well some high anticipated appointments were finally made and they speak volumes about the new Roman Curia.
After ten years at the head of the Holy See Press Office Fr. Lombardi will hand over the reins on August 1. Two lay people will step into the role of director and vice-director of the press office. American Greg Burke, a former journalist and an Opus Dei numerary who has been serving the Vatican’s communication operations since 2012 and was appointed vice director of the press office earlier this year. The new vice director of the Holy See press office is a Spanish laywoman, Paloma Garcia Ovejero. Not only is this the first time a woman is appointed to one of the key leading roles in the press office, it is the first time two lay people with extensive communications and media experience are entrusted with the leadership of the press office.
Burke graduated from Columbia’s School of Journalism and worked as a correspondent for the National Catholic Register, Time magazine and Fox News network. Garcia Ovejero has a journalism degree from Madrid’s Universidad Complutense and a masters in management strategies and communication from New York University. She has worked for Spain’s COPE news network since 2006. (COPE is the media outlet owned by the Spanish Bishops Conference).
For his part Fr. Lombardi has been looking forward to this retirement. He was named director of the Holy See also served as director of Vatican Radio and director of the Vatican Television Center (CTV). In 2013 Pope Benedict XVI named Msgr. Eduardo Vigano the director of CTV and in February of this year the new Secretariate for Communication took over the administration of Vatican Radio.
Higher up the structure of the Roman Curia members were appointed to the Secretariat for Communications. Thirteen prelates and three lay people were appointed to the secretariate. Of those three lay people, two are women. Kim Daniels is the cofounder of Catholic Voices USA and a consultant on religious liberty issues for the USCCB. Leticia Soberón Mainero is an expert in communication with a degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University and a Psychologist. The only layman appointed to the secretariat, Markus Schächter, is a professor of ethics and Mass Media at the Munich School of Philosophy.
These choices signal several changes: a less Italian curia is taking shape. Out of all these appointments, there is only one Italian. Bishop Marcello Semeraro is the only Italian prelate appointed to the Secretariat for Communication. The other appointees come from different regions of the world and represent a variety of cultures.
Second, the laypeople being tapped to take on key roles in the press office and the secretariat overseeing it have solid communication credentials behind them. Certainly these people move in church circles in their home countries, but they are known for their professional experience.
In many ways we may be looking at the blueprint for the Roman Curia of the future.
I have never experienced World Youth Day as a pilgrim, and yet I’m a huge fan of the event. In 2008 I had just joined Salt + Light (filling in for a colleague who had decided to volunteer for WYD Sydney) and was part of the team in Toronto that helped get our Sydney team’s stories on air.
In 2011 I worked for the WYD Madrid organizing committee, coordinating the English language content for the website. I have been accused of encouraging pilgrims to walk to Cuatro Vientos because of the “travel guide” videos I shot showing off the walking pilgrimage route. I shot the videos in the spring when the walking route looked like a cool, verdant path for strolling to the site of the closing vigil and Mass. In mid-August no park could provide respite from the 47 degree celsius weather (about 116 degrees fahrenheit).
The whole experience of working for and living in Madrid was life changing in many ways. I returned to Toronto with new friends scattered around the world, linked by what we had experienced in the months of preparation for WYD.
In 2013 I was part of the S+L team that travelled to Rio de Janeiro to cover the first WYD with Pope Francis. The most touching moment for me was seeing one of my Argentine colleagues from WYD Madrid who was part of the WYD Rio organizing committee. She was part of the small group that greeted Pope Francis when he landed at the helipad just behind the media center. As the pope stepped off the helicopter and reached out to shake hands, she introduced herself and launched herself into a bear hug with “her” pope. Kleenex was a big commodity that week.
This time around I will be anchoring S+L’s live coverage of World Youth Day Krakow main events. I will also be producing a daily half hour program recapping the day’s events and bringing you the unique WYD stories only our S+L team in Krakow can bring. It will also be a bittersweet experience as it will be my last WYD with S+L. In the fall I will be moving on to new adventures in western Canada, away from Salt + Light.
I expect this WYD to be full of moving, “once in a lifetime” moments not only for pilgrims, but also for our crew in Krakow and Toronto.
Today on Perspectives: A new Archbishop for Regina, two laypeople at the helm of the Vatican press office, and what questions should we be asking ourselves regularly as Christians?
Today on Perspectives: Pope Francis wants peace in Syria and he some some ideas on how to make it happen. Also, we talk to newly appointed Bishop Elect Joseph Nguyen to find out what its like to be named a bishop.
We talk to the Polish Ambassador to Canada, Marcin Bosacki about World Youth Day Krakow: what to expect, why is it significant, and we ask the ambassador about his own experience as a WYD pilgrim.
Today on Perspectives: Sr. Priscilla Solomon speaks to us about enculturation of the faith, the legacy of residential schools in Canada, and the next steps in the healing process.
Pope Francis spent the weekend visiting Armenia and we have highlights. Plus, during the return flight he gave an hour long press conference and we have details.
Pope Francis landed in Armenia this Friday for a weekend visit that includes a stop at the Armenian Genocide Memorial, his participation in a Divine Liturgy in the Armenian rite, and a visit to the Khor Virap monastery not far from the Turkish border.
The first item on the papal itinerary was a visit to the Apostolic Cathedral of Yerevan. Armenian Catholicos Karekin II and Pope Francis prayed Psalm 121 together, before turning to the formal greetings.
Addressing the Catholicos and Armenian Apostolic clergy, Pope Francis said, “I bow before the mercy of the Lord who willed that Armenia should become, in the year 301, the first nation to accept Christianity as its religion” at a time when religious persecution was rampant. The pope added “May the Lord bless you for the luminous testimony.”
Turning his attention to ecumenical relations between the Catholic Church and the Armenian Apostolic Church, the pope said “when our actions are prompted by the power of Christ’s love, understanding and reciprocal esteem grow, a fruitful ecumenical journey becomes possible.”
From there Pope Francis went on to the presidential palace for a courtesy meeting with Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan. He recalled the anniversary of Armenia’s independence, and the liturgy celebrated at the Vatican by Catholicos Karekin II to commemorate the 150th anniversary of what Armenians refer to as “the great evil.” Pope Francis used the Armenian phrase “Metz Yeghern.”
The pope reiterated his admiration for the way, in the darkest moments of their history, Armenians found the strength to carry on in the cross of Christ.
The first day of the pope’s Armenian voyage concluded with a private meeting between Pope Francis and Catholicos Karekin II.
Watch this week’s episode of Vatican Connections below!
Every week brings new, exciting, and sometimes juicy headlines from behind Vatican walls and every week Alicia delves deeper into one of those headlines. For a full run down of what’s been happening behind Vatican walls, watch Vatican Connections. Already watch the program? Come back every Friday for an in-depth look at an issue, headline or person. Season 4 of Vatican Connections airs every Friday at 8:00 pm ET.
The Vatican releases a statement about the case of Bishop Ma of Shanghai. We’re less than a month away from WYD Krakow and have the latest updates, and full details on our coverage of the papal visit of Armenia.