Italy’s prime minister declared “today is a day for celebration” after an Italian diplomat escorted Meriam Ibrahim and her family safely from Sudan to Italy. Hours after landing, Meridam met with Pope Francis. Find out more about that special encounter. Also, we look back on the factors that led to WWI.
Today on Perspectives, we look at the deteriorating situation in Gaza and Vatican Radio talks to the Papal Nuncio to the Holy Land to get his assessment of the situation. Catholic News Service also takes a look back at the First World War a century after its inception and examines how the Vatican responded to total war.
Today on Perspectives, Pope Francis and others speak out against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria expelling the last of Mosul’s Christian population.
Today on Perspectives, brief cease fire brings temporary relief in Gaza, the Holy See Press Office announces two trips for the pope to the city of Caserta and a look ahead at a pair upcoming events.
Today on Perspectives, the Institute for Religious Works releases its annual report for 2013 and the Pope addresses the issue of child migrants at the US border.
Today on Perspectives, the Vatican works to clarify an article in Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper quoting Pope Francis on a series of on controversial topics. We also look at Pope Francis’ Sunday Angelus address where he addressed the escalating violence in the Holy Land. Finally we hear about three new bishops named in Hong Kong as well the episcopal ordination of Bishop Kevin Doran in Ireland.
In Toronto’s St. Augustine’s Seminary, deacons, priests and bishops from all over the English-speaking world spent this past week working to improve on an important part of their ministry. Our Deacon Pedro was there.
The Preaching Conference is one of the many gatherings throughout the year commemorating the 100th anniversary of St. Augustine’s Seminary in Toronto. For more information on all the seminary’s centenary events, please visit staugustines.on.ca
This past Sunday, the Knights Columbus hosted the Special Olympics Hometown Softball Games. Taking place at Etobicoke, Ontario’s Centennial Park, the games are organized for people with physical and intellectual disabilities. Blessed with perfect weather, a total of 16 teams and over 200 athletes participated in the event. The Knights, who regularly look after the event, provided the volunteers, lunches, umpires and trophies. In 2005 the Knights pledged $1 million over four years to the Special Olympics and this has since been renewed through 2016. It is a stalwart partnership that spans across all of North America. To date, the Knights have raised more than $526 million for programs for people with intellectual and physical disabilities.
On Friday June 27, the Archdiocese of Ottawa ordained Father Matthew Chojna to the priesthood in the city’s Notre Dame Cathedral. Now a few weeks into his new vocation, Father Chojna took some time to talk about his priestly ministry.
A major press conference was held at the Vatican today by His Eminence Cardinal George Pell, Prefect for the Economy. The press conference was held to announce major reforms within both the financial and communications entities of the Vatican, as well as announce the new leadership of these entities. It is part of a growing theme of transparency and openness being promoted by the Vatican following the election of Pope Francis last year, something Cardinal Pell stressed from the outset of today’s event.
The press conference focused on four particular areas of reform: the Vatican Patrimony Administration – APSA, the Vatican’s pension fund, Vatican media as well as IOR, the Vatican Bank. Speaking first on APSA, which manages “properties owned by the Holy See in order to provide the funds necessary for the Roman Curia to function,” Cardinal Pell announced a formal division of what is essentially the Vatican’s central bank.
Shifting then to the Vatican’s pension fund, the Cardinal introduced Joseph Zahra, Deputy Coordinator of the Vatican’s Council for the Economy. Zahra noted that despite the troubles facing many pension funds today, the Vatican’s was secure and stable. He said that a committee would integrate the entire administrative structure of the pension fund into the new financial structure of the Vatican over the coming months.
Cardinal Pell then spoke of reform within the Vatican’s communications structure, announcing that a committee had been formed to look into ways for Vatican media to reach more Catholics around the world. He noted the Vatican would put a major emphasis on new modes of communication through new media, touting the success of the Pope App and the Papal Twitter account. He announced that Lord Christopher Patten, Chancellor of Oxford University, a former British M.P., former governor of Hong Kong and former Chairman of the BBC Trust would head the committee.
Lastly, Cardinal Pell spoke on the Institute of Religious Works, also known as the Vatican Bank as well as IOR. Here he deferred to Ernst von Freyberg, the outgoing President of the Supervisory Council of IOR. Von Freyberg confirmed that as we reported, all accounts at the Vatican bank had been investigated and those which needed to be, were dealt with appropriately. He did however speak positively regarding the situation of accounts at the bank.
Finally, Cardinal Pell introduced Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, Member of the Council for the Economy as the incoming President of the Supervisory Council of IOR. The new president spoke graciously of the work of Mr. von Freyberg as well as that of that staff of IOR. Cardinal Pell finished by announcing the expansion of the composition of the superintendents of the bank. Among them, His Eminence Cardinal Josip Bozanic, Archbishop of Zagreb, as well as half a dozen lay members. They include: Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, Mr. Clemens Boersig, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Deutsche Bank Foundation, Prof. Mary Ann Glendon, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Sir Michael Hintze, a British businessman, philanthropist and former Australian army officer who has over 30 years’ experience in global financial markets as well as two member who have yet to be named.
In Vatican City this morning, the Institute of Religious Works, also known as the Vatican Bank, released its 2013 financial statements. The release of the documents on the part of the bank is an effort to increase the degree of transparency with which the institution operates. The report noted that profits at the bank were significantly down from 86.6 million Euros in 2012 to 2.9 million Euros last year. The press release from the bank stated that the dramatic decrease in net profits were due to “extraordinary expenses; losses related to propriety investments in externally managed investment funds committed to in 2012 and early 2013; and the fluctuation in the value of the IOR’s gold reserves.” It was also announced that the there would soon be a restructuring of leadership at the bank. Tomorrow His Eminence Cardinal George Pell, Prefect for the Economy, will hold a press conference to announce new members for the supervisory board of the bank, as well as name a replacement for Ernst von Freyberg, President of the Supervisory Council for the IOR. Vatican Radio’s German section had opportunity to speak to von Freyberg about the details of the report.
The Holy See also released an annual budget report from 2013. The budget for the Holy See, which includes the Roman Curia and Vatican communications outlets, saw a deficit of 24.4 million Euros. The majority of this was attributed to aforementioned losses in Vatican investments in gold. Despite those loses, a strong performance by the Vatican City State helped make up loses associated with other departments such as the Roman Curia, leaving the Vatican’s overall financial situation in the black 8.5 million Euros.
Also in Vatican City this morning, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications released version 2.0 of the Pope App. The new version of the highly popular mobile application for smart phones and tablet devices was presented and shown to Pope Francis this morning who expressed his gratitude to all of those responsible for the world done on the project. Powered by the Vatican’s news aggregate news.va, the updated application is available in five languages and provides users with the latest Papal news in a new and simplified format. Other features include the Papal Twitter feed, news stories, live streaming of Vatican events, archived images and video, all of which can be easily shared through the application to a wide variety of platforms. The Pope App is now available for download on both the Apple App Store as well as Google Play.
On Sunday, the community of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec marked the one-year anniversary of the tragic train derailment that killed 47 people and cause significant damage to the town. A special midnight mass was celebrated at St. Agnes parish to mark the occasion followed by a candle-lit procession at 1:15am to mark the moment of the disaster. A Sunday morning mass was also celebrated at the church by His Grace Archbishop Luc Cyr, Archbishop of Sherbrooke. In addition to the hundreds of people both in and outside the church, mass was also attended by Governor General David Johnston, and Quebec Premiere Philippe Couillard. In his sermon, the Archbishop encouraged people to continue as one, to continue to rebuild and find confidence in one another. Following mass, a large granite plaque was unveiled outside the church listing the names of all the victims of the tragedy. To conclude the unveiling, a number of people laid flowers to honor those who had fallen.
In Vatican City this morning, His Holiness Pope Francis celebrated daily mass for and with survivors of clerical sex abuse. They included six survivors from Germany, Ireland and the United Kingdom as well as a member of each of their families. Also present were the members of Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors who met over the course of the weekend. In his sermon, Pope Francis expressed deep sorrow for the acts committed against victims of abuse as well as for sins of omission committed by Church leaders in not adequately tackling the issue. The Pope spoke of how deeply the whole issue has deeply troubled him personally. He said, “It is something more than despicable actions. It is like a sacrilegious cult, because these boys and girls had been entrusted to the priestly charism in order to be brought to God. And those people sacrificed them to the idol of their own concupiscence. They profane the very image of God in whose likeness we were created.” He continued, saying, “You and all those who were abused by clergy are loved by God. I pray that the remnants of the darkness which touched you may be healed by the embrace of the Child Jesus and that the harm which was done to you will give way to renewed faith and joy.”
At a press conference later in the day, Fr. Federico Lombardi, Director of the Holy See Press Office, said that following mass, the group ate breakfast together at Domus Sancta Marthae. After breakfast, each of the survivors met with the Holy Father for a private personal discussion, each for about 30 minutes. Fr. Lombardi reported that reported that the survivors were “profoundly moved’ as well as positive and serene following their meetings. He said they expressed gratitude and deep emotion that their stories had been listened to by Pope Francis with such attention.
Yesterday, the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors met under the coordination of Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, to begin tackling issues tasked to the commission. The agenda for the meeting included: proposals for the selection and appointment of new members, to integrate the commission with representatives from other geographical areas, statutes of the Commission, the need to institute an operative Office and lastly, the possibility of organizing working groups on specific themes with the collaboration ?of specialists and other institutions.
Also yesterday, Pope Francis gave his weekly Angelus address from the Apostolic Palace high above St. Peter’s Square. Speaking to the many tens of thousands in the square, the Holy Father spoke of how the poor and downtrodden can be found everywhere in the world, even in the wealthiest places in the world. He said they are never alone and that Jesus says to them, “Come unto me.” The Pontiff also made sure to remind the crowds that the Lord’s invitation is not exclusively for the poor, but also for those who though materially wealthy, suffer from an emptiness of heart.
This past weekend, the Archdiocese of Toronto played host to the first ever Steubenville Toronto Conference, held at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in downtown Toronto. The three-day conference that was broadcast live on Salt and Light, drew over two thousand high school students for talks, prayer, music, Adoration and mass. Beginning Friday, the conference opened to music and prayer, and on Saturday, mass celebrated by His Grace Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, Archbishop of Ottawa. A broad range of speakers from across Canada and the United States gave interactive talks that engaged the young people both on-stage and off. On the final day, Sunday mass was celebrated by His Eminence Cardinal Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto. During the conference, the Cardinal took time to talk to our own Cheridan Sanders about the event.