When Fr. Han Lim Moon is ordained to the episcopate on May 4 he will make history. Bishop Elect Moon will become Auxiliary Bishop for San Martin, Argentina.. He will be the first South Korean-born prelate to be appointed to the episcopate outside his native country. It will also be the first time an Asian-born prelate joins the Argentine Episcopal Conference.
At 58 years of age, however, he has lived more of his life in Argentina than in South Korea.
Bishop Elect Moom immigrated to Argentina at the age of 21 along with his mother and brother. When he arrived in country he had nine years of minor and major seminary studies under his belt. The young seminarian moved straight away to ask the Archbishop of Buenos Aires for admission to the diocesan seminary.
In 1984 he was ordained to the priest hood for the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires and served as a hospital chaplain, parish pastor, and a point of reference for the Korean community living in Flores, a suburb of Buenos Aires.
When asked if he expected to me made a bishop he told journalists that just before being told he was being appointed auxiliary bishop, he was in the chapel praying before the Blessed Sacrament. He said, “it occurred to me to ask God if there was anything he wanted to tell me and he dictated to my heart a prayer that I have in which He asks me to be a blank page so He can do with my life what He wills.”
Bishop Elect Moon met then-bishop Bergoglio in 1994 when he wanted to invite the Little Servants of the Holy Family of Seoul to Flores. Bergoglio gave his permission to invite the sisters, and from then on was invited to all the major feasts celebrated by the Korean community in Flores. Despite the long standing connection to Pope Francis, Bishop Elect Moon said only God knows why the Holy Father decided to make him a bishop.
Next week will be a full week at the Vatican. On Monday, February 17 the Council of Cardinals will meet for the third time. The council will meet from February 17 to 19.
Pope Francis will then hold a Consistory or consultation with the entire College of Cardinals on February 20 and 21.
On February 22, the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, Pope Francis will meet with the College of Cardinals again, this time to officially create 19 new cardinals. The following day the new cardinals will celebrate Mass at St. Peter’s with Pope Francis and their brother cardinals.
After the October session of the Council of Cardinals the Vatican that Pope Francis had called for an Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the context of Evangelization. In December, during the Council’s second session, it was announced that Pope Francis would create a Commission for the Protection of Minors.
During the last meetings of the Council of Cardinals the Vatican’s spokesperson, Father Federico Lombardi said the cardinals had been reviewing each Vatican dicastery, examining what needed to be changed or restructured. At the time Fr. Lombardi said the cardinals felt it was too early to begin announcing changes to the structure of the curia, but changes would be made in due time.
Given the number of meetings scheduled in the week ahead, we could see more announcements about new initiatives approved by the pope.
The week started off with a shocking theft, the recovery of the stolen item (in multiple installments) the announcement of a new book that is already getting a mixed reception, an audience with an American University, the announcement that several people are moving closer to sainthood....and it closed with the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life laying out their two-year plan. More details on how the Vatican is focusing on consecrated life can be found below. For everything else watch Vatican Connections, above.
In preparation for the 2015 Year for Consecrated Life, the Vatican department that oversees religious communities is updating the documents that regulate different aspects of religious life.
Presenting plans for the Year for Consecrated life Archbishop Jose Carballo, secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life said the dicastery has been working with various organizations to revise the documents that regulate: the relationship between bishops and religious communities, societies of contemplative life, and institutes of religious brothers.
Archbishop Carballo said, “we are expecting a document from the Holy Father during the year for consecrated life, to replace the current document on contemplative life, Sponsa Christi which was promulgated by Pope Pius XII in 1950”
The archbishop added that Pope Francis asked for work to go ahead on revising Verbi Sponza, a 1999 document about the autonomy of contemplative cloistered communities. He said although the document is fairly recent, “the evolution of contemplative life in recent years has made it necessary to revise the current discipline and autonomy” of cloistered communities, paying close attention to formation in those communities.
In addition to the documents being updated, the congregation will release a new document directed at religious brothers.
Archbishop Carballo said the new text, “is about the vocation and mission of religious brother in lay institutes. A lot of work has gone into this document, in collaboration with these institutes.”
On March 8 and 9 the congregation will host a symposium at Rome’s Pontifical Antonianum University on managing community finances and assets.
During 2015 the congregation expects to hold several international meetings for members of religious institutes. Archbishop Carballo said there willbe one meeting specifically for young and newly professed religious men and women. A second international gathered will be held for formators in men’s and women’s communities.
Pope Francis announced the 2015 Year for Consecrated life in 2013 during a meeting with superior generals of men’s communities November 29. No opening date has been set, but Archbishop Carballo said, “we are thinking of a solemn celebration presided by the Holy Father. Possibly, if he can, November 21 2015 which is 50 years from the promulgation of Perfecate Caritatis” the Vatican II document about religious life.
If the war in Syria continues another year there will be no Christians left in the country, according to one bishop in the region.
Chaldean Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo made the comment during a meeting of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches, which is known by its Italian acronym ROACO.
As international leaders and government bodies fail to put an end to the ongoing conflict in Syria, people in that country are looking to the pope and the church to bring peace to the region, according to the director of a church aid agency working in the area.
Carl Hetu, the director of the Canadian office of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association (CNEWA), attended several meetings at the Vatican that were focused on the situation in Syria, including the ROACO meeting and a brainstorming session hosted by the Pontifical Academy for Science.
Hetu told Salt and Light the session was meant to help Pope Francis and the Holy See’s representative to the United Nations organizations in Geneva formulate a better understanding of what is needed to end the Syrian conflict.
Participants at the session said both Muslim and Christian Syrians are looking to the Vatican and Pope Francis as a moral authority that can guide the international community to a peaceful solution to Syria’s conflict, according to Hetu.
While the specific points submitted to the Holy Father are confidential, Hetu said participants agreed on three key elements: the need for an immediate ceasefire, the removal of any “pre-conditions” for negotiation, and an urgent need to stop weapons from coming into the country.
The Holy See’s representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, will take part in a UN sponsored conference aimed at ending the conflict in Syria. His position is expected to reflect point brought up during the brainstorming session at the Pontifical Academy for Science.
Various Catholic aid agencies took part in the ROACO meeting to review the aid being given to Christians in the region.
“Catholic organization alone have given 80 million dollars since 2012,” Hetu said. Most of that money went to help people in Syria, some also went towards helping Syrians in Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq.
Hetu said most of the aid CNEWA provides is food. The food is distributed through local parishes and charities which are already on the ground. CNWA also helps stock schools, provides housing, healthcare and pastoral care to. While the organization focuses on helping Christians, CNEWA helps all refugees.
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If the year-in-review articles, videos and talk show segments are anything to go by, 2013 will be remembered not as the year Pope Benedict XVI resigned from the papacy, but the year Pope Francis was elected as his successor.
From the moment Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran stepped onto the loggia of St. Peter’s to announce the name of new pope, a name the Cardinal knew would take everyone by surprise, Benedict XVI and his historic gesture seem to have faded into the mists of short term memory.
Still, when Pope Francis was named Person of the Year by TIME magazine, critics were quick to say that in the nine months since his unexpected election, the Argentine pontiff done little more put a personable face on the papacy and the church.
On the surface it is easy to see why this claim might be made. There has been no change in any of the church’s core doctrine. Most likely, those doctrines will never change. However, reform has started taking shape at the Vatican and in the Church at large.
The Franciscan Reform
Beginning soon after his election, the pope set in motion a series of changes to the curia and the Vatican’s financial offices. These changes also showed his intent to dive headfirst into a process of reform, starting inside Vatican walls.
Barely a month into his pontificate Pope Francis named eight cardinals to advise him on reform to the Roman Curia. The eight cardinals picked each came from a different continent and were not Curia officials. Pope John Paul II also attempted to reform the curia, focusing on the Vatican bank and the office responsible for the Holy See’s assets. While John Paul II asked several cardinals to form an advisory panel to help with much needed reforms, he picked cardinals already working in the Curia.
Not long after Pope Francis named his advisory panel, he decided he would not be bestowing prelates with the traditional, honorary title “monsignor.” Seemingly insignificant, it represents a huge shift in the power structure within the Vatican. On a practical level, the honorific entitles a prelate to little more than the right to wear a fuscia sash with his black cassock. Yet that little sash can make a world of difference inside the walls. A “monsignor” could, (and some do) pull rank on a regular “father” who doesn’t agree with the monsignor’s directives. Certainly in Italian circles,“monsignor” commands more respect than a simple “father.”
Over the spring and summer months Pope Francis issued several decrees enacting new financial laws, widening the scope of the Financial Information Authority, and created new bodies to study how the Vatican Bank and the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA). ‘Moneyval’ the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measure and the Financing of Terrorism, praised these moves in a Dec 10 report, and urged the Vatican to go even further. In its report, Moneyval said it was encouraging that several Vatican Bank (formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion) accounts had been closed, and suspicious transactions reported. The committee recommended a full inspection of the Vatican Bank without delay.
To help with the necessary evaluations and reforms, several outside firms were contracted in 2013 to study specific Vatican departments. The Promontory Group, a US based, risk-assessment firm was hired to study the Vatican Bank’s assets and currently open accounts. Ernst and Yonge was hired to examine the administrative practices at the Vatican Bank. McKinsey and Company, a us based consulting firm, was hired to evaluate and help streamline the Vatican’s communications outlets. Currently the Press Office, Vatican Radio, Vatican Television, the publishing house, and the Pontifical Council for Social Communication
The most drastic shake up to the Roman Curia was the appointment of a new head of the Synod of Bishops. Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri replaced Archbishop Nicola Eterovic, who was made Nuncio to Germany. In the blink of an eye an October 2014 date was set for an extraordinary Synod on the Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the context of Evangelization. A questionnaire was sent to bishops around the world with directions to get feedback from their priests and laypeople in order to finally have a clear picture of what the modern Catholic family looks like. It was the first time such a move was taken.
Finally, in early December the Council of Cardinals announced Pope Francis had decided to create a Commission for the Protection of Minors. The commission was suggested by the eight cardinals.
This week we look at why TIME named Pope Francis "Person of the Year", we get the details on the story of one Franciscan community currently undergoing an Apostolic Visitation, and we speak to a representative from Development and Peace, the Canadian member of Caritas Internationalis about the Pope-promoted campaign to end hunger: "One Human Family, Food for All."