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Behind Vatican Walls: New Year, New Hope

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History

On November 16, 1989 on the campus of the Central American University in San Salvador, six Jesuit priests were pulled from their beds in the middle of the night and executed. The military officers who carried out the killing went unpunished for decades. Five of six Jesuits were Spanish citizens.

In 2008 the Spanish Association for Human Rights and the Centre for Justice and Accountability lodged a criminal complaint in Spanish courts against the Salvadoran military officials involved in the killing of the six Jesuits. A judge in Madrid issued an order for the arrest and extradition of the Salvadoran officers named in the case. Interpol also issued a world wide warrant and extradition order. Authorities in El Salvador did not comply with the order. The officers accused were located and transferred to an ex-national guard military base.

Plot Twists

On January 4, Spanish judge Eloy Velasco issued a new arrest and extradition order for the 17 soldiers and officers accused of killing the six Jesuits. Salvadoran presidential spokesperson Eugenio Chicas told reporters “The only path for our security forces to take is to proceed with the arrests, that is, there’s nothing to do but follow the law.” He also said once legal requirements had been met, the order would be followed. However, it is up to El Salvador’s supreme court whether or not to extradite the accused.  

The statement from the Salvadoran government gave room to cautious optimism that perhaps justice would finally prevail. January 8 reports surfaced that the military defence counsel has presented a request for Judge Velasco to recuse himself from the case. The request claims that the judge is biased because he teaches at a Jesuit university and the case involves events that took place at a Jesuit university.

Happy Endings?

It remains to be seen just how much this case will move forward. Will El Salvador’s supreme court allow the 17 accused soldiers to be extradited? Will Velasco stay on as judge for this case? Will justice prevail? 2016 should bring plenty of things to watch.  

Watch this week’s episode of Vatican Connections below:


Alicia

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.

 

Vatican celebrates Epiphany – Perspectives Daily


Tonight on Perspectives we take a look to the celebrations of the solemnity of Epiphany at the Vatican and we show you how Iraqi refugees celebrate Christmas

Pope Francis’ 2015 Urbi et Orbi Christmas Address

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On the Solemnity of the Birth of the Lord, Pope Francis appeared on the Central Loggia of the Vatican Basilica and before imparting the “Urbi et Orbi” Blessing, gave his traiditional Christmas address to the faithful present in St. Peter’s Square and to all those listening via radio and television. Here is the Pope’s 2015 Christmas Message:

Dear brothers and sisters, Happy Christmas! Christ is born for us, let us rejoice in the day of our salvation!

Let us open our hearts to receive the grace of this day, which is Christ himself. Jesus is the radiant “day” which has dawned on the horizon of humanity. A day of mercy, in which God our Father has revealed his great tenderness to the entire world. A day of light, which dispels the darkness of fear and anxiety. A day of peace, which makes for encounter, dialogue and reconciliation. A day of joy: a “great joy” for the poor, the lowly and for all the people (cf. Lk 2:10).

On this day, Jesus, the Saviour is born of the Virgin Mary. The Crib makes us see the “sign” which God has given us: “a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Lk 2:12). Like the shepherds of Bethlehem, may we too set out to see this sign, this event which is renewed yearly in the Church. Christmas is an event which is renewed in every family, parish and community which receives the love of God made incarnate in Jesus Christ. Like Mary, the Church shows to everyone the “sign” of God: the Child whom she bore in her womb and to whom she gave birth, yet who is the Son of the Most High, since he “is of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 1:20). He is truly the Saviour, for he is the Lamb of God who takes upon himself the sin of the world (cf. Jn 1:29). With the shepherds, let us bow down before the Lamb, let us worship God’s goodness made flesh, and let us allow tears of repentance to fill our eyes and cleanse our hearts.

He alone, he alone can save us. Only God’s mercy can free humanity from the many forms of evil, at times monstrous evil, which selfishness spawns in our midst. The grace of God can convert hearts and offer mankind a way out of humanly insoluble situations.

Where God is born, hope is born. Where God is born, peace is born. And where peace is born, there is no longer room for hatred and for war. Yet precisely where the incarnate Son of God came into the world, tensions and violence persist, and peace remains a gift to be implored and built. May Israelis and Palestinians resume direct dialogue and reach an agreement which will enable the two peoples to live together in harmony, ending a conflict which has long set them at odds, with grave repercussions for the entire region.

We pray to the Lord that the agreement reached in the United Nations may succeed in halting as quickly as possible the clash of arms in Syria and in remedying the extremely grave humanitarian situation of its suffering people. It is likewise urgent that the agreement on Libya be supported by all, so as to overcome the grave divisions and violence afflicting the country. May the attention of the international community be unanimously directed to ending the atrocities which in those countries, as well as in Iraq, Libya, Yemen and sub-Saharan Africa, even now reap numerous victims, cause immense suffering and do not even spare the historical and cultural patrimony of entire peoples. My thoughts also turn to those affected by brutal acts of terrorism, particularly the recent massacres which took place in Egyptian airspace, in Beirut, Paris, Bamako and Tunis

To our brothers and sisters who in many parts of the world are being persecuted for their faith, may the Child Jesus grant consolation and strength.

We also pray for peace and concord among the peoples of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and South Sudan, that dialogue may lead to a strengthened common commitment to the building of civil societies animated by a sincere spirit of reconciliation and of mutual understanding.

May Christmas also bring true peace to Ukraine, offer comfort to those suffering from the effects of the conflict, and inspire willingess to carry out the agreements made to restore concord in the entire country.

May the joy of this day illumine the efforts of the Colombian people so that, inspired by hope, they may continue their commitment to working for the desired peace.

Where God is born, hope is born; and where hope is born, persons regain their dignity. Yet even today great numbers of men and woman are deprived of their human dignity and, like the child Jesus, suffer cold, poverty, and rejection. May our closeness today be felt by those who are most vulnerable, especially child soldiers, women who suffer violence, and the victims of human trafficking and the drug trade.

Nor may our encouragement be lacking to all those fleeing extreme poverty or war, travelling all too often in inhumane conditions and not infrequently at the risk of their lives. May God repay all those, both individuals and states, who generously work to provide assistance and welcome to the numerous migrants and refugees, helping them to build a dignified future for themselves and for their dear ones, and to be integrated in the societies which receive them.

On this festal day may the Lord grant renewed hope to all those who lack employment; may he sustain the commitment of those with public responsibilities in political and economic life, that they may work to pursue the common good and to protect the dignity of every human life.

Where God is born, mercy flourishes. Mercy is the most precious gift which God gives us, especially during this Jubilee year in which we are called to discover that tender love of our heavenly Father for each of us. May the Lord enable prisoners in particular to experience his merciful love, which heals wounds and triumphs over evil.

Today, then, let us together rejoice in the day of our salvation. As we contemplate the Crib, let us gaze on the open arms of Jesus, which show us the merciful embrace of God, as we hear the cries of the Child who whispers to us: “for my brethren and companions’ sake, I will say: Peace be within you” (Ps 121[122]:8).

To you, dear brothers and sisters, who have come from all over the world to this square, and to so many different countries connected via radio, television and other media, I address my most cordial greeting.  It is Christmas of the Holy Year of Mercy, so I wish that everyone be able to welcome into their lives the mercy of God that Jesus Christ has given us; to be merciful with our brothers (and sisters). Then we will allow peace to grow! Merry Christmas!

Watch Pope Francis deliver his 2015 Urbi et Orbi Christmas Message below:

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Signs of the Seasons

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Advent is only four weeks long, but from mid november onwards we are bombarded with Christmas music, Christmas decorations, and Christmas Parties. Despite the commercial packaging those songs, symbols and festivities come in, they are actually rooted in our Christian traditions. Tune in Christmas day for Signs of the Season as we explore the Christian roots behind these signs and symbols and how they have become part of the tradition at the heart of the church. Plus we walk through the liturgical traditions of the Christmas season.

Watch Signs of the Seasons Friday, December 25, 2015 at 9 pm ET.

Holy door unveiled at the Vatican – Perspectives daily


The Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica on Tuesday evening was freed of the brick wall which has hidden it since the Holy Year of 2000, And we take a look at today’s General Audience

Inside the Synod – Gerard O’Connell

In this special edition of Inside the Synod, Sebastian Gomes speaks with longtime Vatican journalist Gerard O’Connell about his impressions of the Synod of Bishops on the Family.

Behind Vatican Walls: All in a Vatican Week

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The three week Synod on the family is finally over, but the homestretch did not come without some drama: an Italian newspaper, Quotiando Nazione, reported that Pope Francis has a small, benign brain tumour. Cue the denials and conspiracy theories. Pope Francis provided his own plot twist, taking the floor on Thursday afternoon to announce he has created a new dicastery for laity and family. All of this pulling attention away from the fact that the final document has been written, voted on and is ready for delivery to Pope Francis.

Dr. Takanori Fukushima is a specialist in tumours at the base of the skull.  Quotidiano Nazionale said he was flown to the Vatican and diagnosed the pontiff with a small, benign tumour. Dr. Fukushima told Italian news agency ANSA he has treated three vatican prelates in the past but never the pope. In response, QN’s editor in chief claimed his paper never said Dr. Fukushima treated the pope, they only dedicated eight pages to the story, including a feature piece on Dr. Fukushima. All of this might sound horrendous to those not familiar with the Italian media landscape, but it’s just another day on the beat in Italy.

While the Vatican press office was busy squashing the tumour story, the synod fathers were once again in the synod hall for a general session. Pope Francis took the floor and announced:

“I have decided to establish a new dicastery with competency for laity, family and life, that will replace the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family. The Pontifical Academy for Life will be joined to the new dicastery.”

He also revealed he has set up a commission that will draw up the statues for this new mega-dicastery. The statues will be presented to the pope and the Council of Cardinals at the next C9 meeting in December.

There is no indication yet who will lead the new dicastery or what will happen to the prelates who currently run the Council for the Family (Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia) and the Council for the Laity (Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko).

The final synod document has been reviewed and voted on section by section. As I write this post a 10 member panel at the Vatican is reviewing the results of that vote and drafting the final document that will be presented to Pope Francis.

What do we know about that final text: The majority of bishops and cardinals are much happier with this than the original. They felt the original document was unfocused (everything but the kitchen sink) and the audience of that text was not clear. Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay told journalists to expect a text that outlines questions that need to be asked rather than proposing solutions.

For a unique – and lighthearted- take on the final stages of the Synod you might want to explore Archbishop Mark Coleridge’s blog “On the Road Together.” He delicately reveals some of the key moments inside the Synod hall.

Photo c/o Gabriel Chow

Watch this week’s Vatican Connection below:


Alicia

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.

 

Archbishop Arthur Roche on reflections on the liturgy wars

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Archbishop Arthur Roche, Secretary of the Congregation for Worship at the Vatican discusses how liturgy can divide or unite the community.


How are you going to spend the next five minutes of your time?  You could browse social media or check your email, but how about meeting a fascinating person and learning something relevant that will broaden your perspective?  Sit down with host Sebastian Gomes and his various guests, and go straight to the heart of the matter.  It will be five minutes well spent…

Connect5 airs on our network every Friday at 8:25 pm ET, immediately following Vatican Connections. Catch a new episode of Connect5 online every Wednesday.

U.S Bishops respond to California’s Assisted Suicide Ruling – Perspectives Daily

Today on Perspectives, U.S. Bishops respond to California’s assisted suicide ruling and Sebastian Gomes continues his coverage of the Bishops’ Synod on the Family. Today he speaks with several of the Synod Fathers and delegates and we hear from Archbishop Charles Palmer-Buckle of Ghana and Syriac Patriarch Ignatius Joseph Younan of Antioch. He also shares part 2 of his conversation with Cindy Wooden of Catholic News Service.

CNEWA Canada Director in Studio – Perspectives Daily

Today on Perspectives, Carl Hetu, the Canadian Director of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association joins us in studio.