Perspectives Daily – April 23, 2014

Today on Perspectives, Pope Francis’ General Audience, a letter from the CCCB to the Prime Minister and CNS talks about the death penalty in the United States.

Perspectives Daily – April 22, 2014

Today on Perspectives, a look at Easter at the Vatican with Pope Francis.

Perspectives Daily – Mon. April 7, 2014

Today on Perspectives, Pope Francis’ weekly Angelus address and a visit to a Roman Parish, a Dutch Jesuit is assassinated in Syria and a Ukrainian Catholic Church in Brampton is destroyed.

Vatican Connections: Friday, February 28, 2014


Following the first consistory of Pope Francis’ pontificate the first major overhaul of the Roman Curia was revealed.

Pope Francis created the Secretariat for the Economy and appointed Australian Cardinal George Pell as the prefect of the new secretariat. This new body will oversee the finances of all Vatican departments, carry out budgeting and forecasting, and oversee hiring.

A second body, the Council for the Economy, was also established this week. It will be made up of 15 people. Eight of those members will be cardinals or bishops and seven will be laypeople with professional experiences in the area.

Speaking to Catholic News Service, South African Cardinal Wilfred Napier who sat on one of the advisory panels studying the economic and administrative activities of the Holy See, said to date the Vatican has done anything that can be considered real budgeting.

No decision has been made yet regarding the future of the Institute for Works of Religion, commonly referred to as the Vatican Bank.

The creation of these two new bodies is a step towards bringing the Vatican’s administrative and financial activities a new level of efficiency and effectivness.


 The changes in the Roman Curia were eclipsed only by the rising tensions in two parts of the world: Ukraine and Venezuela.

In both countries the church has played a role in attempts to quell the violence and bring about peace.

In Ukraine, where protests began three months ago, Christian churches stood alongside protestors watching student-based political protests evolve into a wide ranging uprising involving citizens from all walks of life.

On February 28 Ukranian Catholic Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk told Salt and Light, “we have a government that works now, but the situation in Crimea is very tense.” The Archbishop was speaking on the phone from Lviv where he was meeting with the permanent synod of the Ukranian Catholic Church.

Archbishop Shevchuk said churches had functioned as medical centres during the worst of the protests. He said the damage, however, was not just physical but psychological and spiritual as well. The challenge, he said, is to encourage solidarity, help foster dialogue and reconciliation, and provide long term care to citizens now affected by Post Traumatic Stress (PTS).

Bishop Kenneth Nowakowski of New Westminster, British Colombia was also in Lviv for the meeting of the church’s permanent synod. He told Salt and Light the church is partnering with the Catholic Near East Welfare Association and Caritas Ukraine to provide long term medical care to people affected by PTS.

In Venezuela, where students began protesting the lack of public security after an attempted rape in San Cristobal, bishops have met with students leading groups for and against the current government. Salt and Light learned February 26 the Venezuelan Bishops Conference was scheduled to meet with the government to discuss the national situation.

Student protests continued after those meetings. On February 28 the Diocese of Guayana announced via Twitter the opening of a Human Rights Office and invited anyone who had experienced a violation of their human rights to come forward and file a claim with the office. 

Pope Francis has called for a peaceful resolution to the situation in Ukraine, and asked all Venezuelans to promote dialogue as a way towards reconciliation. The Holy Father also asked all faithful to pray to Our Lady of Coromoto for peace in Venezuela.





Vatican Connections: Friday February 21, 2014

This week we have details on Pope Francis’ Holy Week schedule and his Holy Week schedule. Venezuela has officially asked the Vatican for help in talks between government and opposition leaders, and we look at one holy site in Rome that is being restored for the first time since the 15th century.


In a late-breaking development, On Friday, Pope Francis sent a letter to Venezuela’s president Nicholas Maduro, members of the government and opposition, and the people of Venezuela. Below is Vatican Radio’s translation of the letter:

To President Nicolas Maduro Moros, members of Government, representatives of the Mesa de Unidad Democratica and UNASUR leaders.

“Firstly, I desire to thank you for inviting the Holy See to take part in this process of dialogue and peace for your beloved country. I assure each of you of my prayers, so that this meeting and the process you are undertaking bear the desired fruits of national reconciliation and peace, gifts that we invoke from God, for the Venezuelan population.

I am aware of the restlessness and pain that many people are experiencing, and while I express my concern for what is taking place, I renew my affection for all Venezuelans, especially for the victims of violence and their families. I am deeply convinced that violence can never bring peace and wellbeing to a country, because it only ever generates more violence. On the contrary, through dialogue you can rediscover common and shared ground that will help to overcome the current moment of conflict and polarization, which profoundly wounds Venezuela, to find new forms of collaboration. In respect and recognition of the differences that exist in your country, the common good can be favored. In fact, all of you share in the love you have for your nation and its people. You also share concerns linked to the economic crisis, violence and criminality. You all care deeply about your children’s future and desire that peace which distinguishes the Venezuelan people. You all share faith in God and the will to defend the dignity of the human person.

This is what draws you together and urges you to undertake a process of dialogue which begins today, which must be rooted in an authentic culture of encounter, aware that unity must always prevail over conflict. Therefore, `I urge you not to get stuck in the conflict of the moment but open yourselves to one another to become true builders of peace. At the heart of all sincere dialogue is reciprocal recognition and respect . Above all, there is the “heroism” of forgiveness and mercy, which free us from resentment, from hate and open up a road that is truly new. It is a long and difficult road, which requires patience and courage, but it is the only one that can lead to justice and peace. For the good of all your people and the future of your children, I ask you to have this courage.

With these sentiments I accompany the dear Venezuelan nation, and upon each of you I impart my Apostolic Blessing, invoking the help of Our Lord”.

Also on Friday, Pope Francis met with the International Catholic Child Bureau. During his audience he made the strongest public statements on clerical sexual abuse that we have heard from him thus far. Abandoning his prepared text, Pope Francis said:
” I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests, quite a few in number, obviously not compared to the number of all the priests, to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children. The Church is aware of this damage, it is personal, moral damage carried out by men of the Church, and we will not take one step backward with regards to how we will deal with this problem, and the sanctions that must be imposed. On the contrary, we have to be even stronger. Because you cannot interfere with children…”
Victims advocacy groups were quick to say his statement was not enough. The US based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, released a statement asking Catholics to “be impressed by deeds, not words.”
Until recently it might have been an understandable response, but this year Pope Francis created the Commission for the Protection of Minors. He appointed eight people to that Commission, all of whom can be considered “heavy weights” in the area. One of the members, Marie Collins, is a survivor of clerical sexual abuse who started advocacy and support groups for victims in Ireland. Other members of the commission include psychiatrists specialized in identifying potential abusers, and experts in canon and civil law. The commission is currently working on ratifying its statues and identifying additional members for the committee. 

***Vatican Connections will be on hiatus for the next two weeks. Tune in May 2, 2014

Vatican Connections: January 31, 2014

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.




Vatican Connections: Friday, January 17


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.

A view into the Vatican

A 51-year-old Italian priest, Dario Edoardo Viganò, born in Rio de Janeiro, began his new job at the Vatican on January 22, 2013, only weeks before the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. Viganò’s main mission as director of the Vatican Television Centre (CTV) is to provide global TV and Internet feeds of what unfolds in the Vatican’s inner sanctums, to which CTV has exclusive access. Within a few weeks of beginning his new job, his first major assignment was to tell the world the story of the resignation of a pope, the Sede Vacante, the Conclave and election of a new Bishop of Rome. Under Viganò’s artistic eye, magnificent images of those events went around the entire world. Join host Fr. Thomas Rosica in this exclusive WITNESS interview as he speaks with the head of Vatican TV about Viganò’s mission to keep an age-old institution firmly in the 21st century.

Perspectives Daily – Sept. 26, 2013

Tonight on this special extended-Edition of Perspectives
The Vatican announces celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the publication of the Encyclical Pacem in Terris and we bring you more about the CCCB plenary 2013

Vatican Connections: Season 2


When Vatican Connections launched in January 2013, it was just an idea. Something we were testing out to see if it would fly. Then suddenly, everything changed. On February 11, 2013 Pope Benedict XVI announced to the Cardinals that was resigning from his Petrine Ministry. Overnight, Vatican Connections became the go-to source for information about what happens at the Vatican.  It was so in-demand that we added a French and Chinese language version of the program.

This Friday, September 27, Vatican Connections (English language version) returns for a second season of bringing you everything you need and want to know about what’s happening inside the walls of the world’s smallest city.

Our season starts with a look at what’s been happening in Rome over the summer. Traditionally July and August are the months when Vatican officials – and Vaticanistas – take their much  needed holidays. This summer was anything but.  We’ll look at the stories that shook the Vatican, the powerful moments in Rio de Janeiro at World Youth Day, and how the face of the Curia and the Church is changing around the world. As before we also bring you a glimpse into the people and places that have shaped our church and our history. To start off the season we bring you a profile of  Cardinal Celso Costantini, the prelate who paved the way to formal diplomatic relations between the Holy See and China, saved key players from death in Nazi occupied Rome, and shaped the world of Sacred Art.

Vatican Connections is produced in partnership with Catholic News Service’s Rome Bureau.

Tune in Friday September 27, at 8pm ET / 5pm PT for Vatican Connections.