Vatican News Feed

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  1. Pope Francis on why he gives interviews

    Vatican City, Oct 17, 2017 / 03:49 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a preface to a new book of interviews, Pope Francis outlined his approach to speaking with journalists, explaining that he thinks interviews should be like a conversation and this is why he doesn’t prepare answers in advance.

    “For me interviews are a dialogue, not a lesson,” the Pope wrote.

    “I do not prepare for this,” he said, stating that he usually declines to read the questions when they are sent in advance, instead opting to answer organically, as he would in an actual conversation.

    “Yes, I am still afraid of being interpreted badly,” he clarified, while adding that as a pastor, it’s a risk he’s willing to take.

    “Everything that I do has pastoral value, in one way or in another,” he said. “If I did not trust this, I would not allow interviews: for me it is clear. It's a manner of communicating my ministry.”

    Pope Francis gave his thoughts on interviews, and why and how he gives them, in a preface written for a book called Now Ask Your Questions.

    The book, a a collection of both new and old interviews with Pope Francis, was compiled by Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ, editor-in-chief of La Civiltà Cattolica. It will be presented Oct. 21.

    In the preface, Francis explained that for him, giving an interview is not like ascending “a pulpit” to preach, but is a meeting between him and the journalist: “I need to meet the people and look them in the eyes,” he wrote.

    He said he likes to speak with people from both small magazines and popular newspapers, because he feels “even more comfortable.”

    “In fact, in those cases I really listen to the questions and concerns of ordinary people,” trying to answer “spontaneously” and in a “simple, popular language,” he explained.

    He takes the same approach in press conferences aboard the papal plane when returning from apostolic visits, he said, though he sometimes imagines beforehand what questions journalists may ask.

    He knows he must be prudent, he said, and he always prays to the Holy Spirit before listening to the questions and responding.

    Historically however, Francis wasn’t fond of giving interviews. I may be “tough,” the Pope said, but I'm also shy, stating that as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he was a little afraid of journalists, though one eventually persuaded him.

    “I've always been worried about bad interpretations of what I say,” he wrote. As with interviews in the past, he said he was hesitant to accept Spadaro’s request, though eventually he did and gave two long interviews, both which make up part of the book.

    The compilation also includes various conversations with fellow Jesuits, which Francis said are the moments he usually feels the most comfortable and free to speak.

    “I'm glad they've been included in this collection,” he said, since he feels like he is speaking among family members, and thus doesn’t fear being misunderstood.

    Included in the book “are also two conversations with the superior generals of religious groups. I have always requested a real dialogue for them. I never wanted to give speeches and not have to listen to them,” he said.

    “To me, to converse always felt the best way for us to really meet each other.”

    In his meeting with Polish Jesuits, for example, the Pope said he spoke about discernment, strongly underlining the specific mission of the Society of Jesus today, “that is also a very important mission of the Church for our times.”

    “I have a real need of this direct communication with people,” he said.

    These conversations, which take place in meetings and interviews, are united in form to how he delivers his daily homilies at Mass in the Casa Santa Marta every morning, what is sort of his “parish,” he pointed out.

    “I need this communication with people. There, four days a week, they go to find me, 25 people of a Roman parish, together with others.”

    “I want a Church that knows how to get involved in people's conversations, that knows how to dialogue,” he said.

    “It is the Church of Emmaus, in which the Lord ‘interviews’ the disciples who are walking, discouraged. For me, an interview is part of this conversation of the Church with the people of today.”

  2. What is Pope Francis' approach to appointing new bishops?

    Vatican City, Oct 17, 2017 / 02:34 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Among the most lasting aspects of a Pope’s leadership is his appointment of bishops. To understand a Pope, it’s important to understand how he makes decisions about episcopal leadership.

    With that in mind, Pope Francis’ approach to the selection and appointment of bishops is worth considering.

    When diocesan and auxiliary bishops turn 75 years old, they are required to submit a letter of resignation to the Pope, which he can accept immediately or at any time going forward.

    At present, there are seven key posts in the world waiting for a new bishop. While it can take more than a year before a bishop’s resignation is accepted, many analysts anticipate a flurry of significant episcopal appointments over the next several months.  

    Bishops who recently submitted a letter of resignation to Pope Francis include Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC; Cardinal Laurent Mosengwo of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo); Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier of Durban (South Africa); Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa (Honduras); Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City; Cardinal André Vingt-Trois of Paris; and Archbishop Peter Okada of Tokyo.

    What will Pope Francis’ criteria be in appointing new bishops to these significant dioceses?

    Some recent appointments may shed light on his priorities.  

    Pope Francis recently appointed Mario Delpini, 66, to serve as Archbishop of Milan, succeeding Cardinal Angelo Scola. Delpini served as Milan’s auxiliary bishop for a decade before being appointed archbishop.

    Archbishop Delpini had been a collaborator with the three previous archbishops of Milan, Cardinals Martini, Tettamanzi and Scola. Unlike his predecessors, however, all of his priestly life took place in the Archdiocese of Milan.

    Pope Francis also recently appointed a Vicar of Rome, the title used for the functional head of the Diocese of Rome. To replace Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the Pope picked Bishop Angelo De Donatis, 63, who preached the 2014 Lenten spiritual exercises to the Roman Curia, and was appointed an auxiliary bishop of Rome in 2015.

    Archbishops Delpini and De Donatis have several things in common. They both have extensive pastoral experience, both are considered ideologically moderate, and both were already connected to the dioceses they’d been appointed to lead. These are said to be key criteria in the episcopal appointments of Pope Francis.

    In fact, the Pope’s apparent criteria were a factor in many of his other notable appointments.

    In 2014, the Pope chose Cardinal Reinhard Woelki as Archbishop of Cologne, moving him from his post in Berlin. Cardinal Woelki’s move to Cologne was a return to his hometown. When he was appointed, he was noted for his human touch, his pastoral work and simple style of life – television news pieces featured him washing his clothes personally and cooking at his home.

    The same year, the Pope picked Carlos Osoro Sierra as the Archbishop of Madrid, and later named him a cardinal. Cardinal Osoro Sierra is known as the “little Francis” in Spain, largely because of his pastoral gifts and his missionary impulse, which have been a transformational factor for the Church in Spain.

    Given these four examples, what is the Pope going to do with the Church in the U.S.?

    Over the past year, Pope Francis has appointed 16 U.S. bishops, most of them in smaller dioceses or as auxiliaries. The major pending question is that of the successor of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, D.C. Cardinal Wuerl is already 76 years old, more than a year beyond the normal retirement age.

    The post in Washington, D.C. is a key post, as it involves both pastoral care and institutional relations with the U.S. political establishment. What will Pope Francis do?

    An insistent rumor says that Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego might be at the top of the list.

    Bishop McElroy recently grabbed headlines for jumping into the discussion on LGBT issues that followed Fr. James Martin’s book, “Building a Bridge.” Bishop McElroy has defended the book, and Martin, in the face of criticisms of his work.  

    He also recently took part in a Boston College conference on Amoris Laetitia, hosted by Cardinal Blase Cupich and Father James Keenan, SJ. During the conference, Bishop McElroy reported on the diocesan synod he launched on Amoris Laetitia, and said that Catholic teaching must take seriously the complexity of adult moral life.

    Among observers, he is considered a figure similar to Cardinal Blase Cupich, who was personally chosen by Pope Francis in 2014 to lead the Archdiocese of Chicago. This seems to suggest that he is a fit for Pope Francis’ model of episcopal leadership.

    Of course, his appointment is simply a rumor, just as another rumor in Rome says that the Pope will soon call Cardinal Cupich to lead an important Vatican office in Rome.

    There are no confirmation of rumors, and sometimes gossip is just a way to test possible reactions to an appointment. Such rumors are typical in such a moment of transition.

    It’s worth noting that Pope Francis might also be reconsidering the selection process for bishops.

    During the June 12-14 meeting of the Council of Cardinals, a new procedure for the appointment of bishops was discussed. It was not the first time the cardinals who advise Pope Francis have addressed this issue.

    In particular, the Holy See Press Office explained that the consultation before the appointment of a new bishop might involve more local priests and laity. In the end, a bishop’s appointment is always a Pope’s appointment. However, the Pope receives suggestions – usually in the form of a set of three – from the local nuncios of each country, who consult broadly, and “interview” a number of people before suggesting any name to the Pope.

    The idea being suggested is to emphasize the local level, rather than the nuncio’s suggestions. One of the issues apparently of concern is the way that nuncios gather information, as the standard questionnaire they deliver is said to be too dated.

     

     

  3. Benedict XVI's secretary denies rumors that he is close to death

    Vatican City, Oct 17, 2017 / 11:52 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the personal secretary of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, has rejected reports that the former pontiff is nearing death.

    Rumors of Benedict XVI being close to death circulated on social media following a quote attributed to Ganswein, which reads, “Pope Benedict is like a candle that fades slowly. He is serene, at peace with God, with himself and the world. He can no longer walk without help and can no longer celebrate Mass.”

    However, Archbishop Ganswein called this quote “pure invention.”

    “It is false and wrong! I would like to know who the author of this is,” he said, according to German media outlet kath.net.

     “I have received in the last two days many messages that refer to this phrase, and people are worried,” he said.

    Last week, Ratzinger’s brother was at the Vatican to visit, and he has now returned home, Ganswein confirmed, adding, “Both had a good time.”

     

  4. In Diwali message to Hindus, Vatican officials call for mutual respect

    Vatican City, Oct 16, 2017 / 11:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- With tensions between Christians and Hindu nationalists in India increasingly on the rise, the Vatican sent a message marking the Hindu feast of Diwali, urging members of both religions to go beyond mere tolerance of one another, and to foster a genuine mutual respect.

    Diwali is a Hindu festival of lights, and is being celebrated this year on Oct. 19.

    “May this festival of lights illumine your minds and lives, bring joy to your hearts and homes, and strengthen your families and communities,” read a greeting to Hindus sent Oct. 16 by the Pontifical Council for Interreligous Dialogue. The message was signed by the council's president, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, and its secretary, Bishop Miguel Ayuso Guixot.

    In their message, titled “Christians and Hindus: Beyond Tolerance,” Tauron and  Ayuso acknowledged that there are many good things happening in the world for which to be grateful, but said there are also difficulties that “deeply concern us.”

    They said, “the growth of intolerance, spawning violence in many parts of the world,” is one of these challenges.

    In India this intolerance has been acutely felt with an increase in violence against minorities in the country, including Christians and Muslims. While there is no state religion in India, nearly 80 percent of its population is Hindu.

    “On this occasion,” the Vatican officials wrote, “we wish to reflect on how Christians and Hindus can together foster mutual respect among people – and go beyond tolerance, in order to usher in a more peaceful and harmonious era for every society.”

    “Tolerance certainly means being open and patient with others, recognizing their presence in our midst. If we are to work for lasting peace and true harmony, however, tolerance is not enough. What is also needed is genuine respect and appreciation for the diversity of cultures and customs within our communities, which in turn contribute to the health and unity of society as a whole,” the letter read.

    They wrote that “to see pluralism and diversity as a threat to unity leads tragically to intolerance and violence.”

    “Respect for others is an important antidote to intolerance since it entails authentic appreciation for the human person, and his or her inherent dignity.”

    This respect encourages mutual esteem for different social, cultural and religious practices, while at the same time recognizing the inalienable rights of others, “such as the right to life and the right to profess and practice the religion of one’s choice,” they said.

    In order for diverse communities to move forward, then, the path must be one “marked by respect,” they said: “While tolerance merely protects the other, respect goes further: it favors peaceful coexistence and harmony for all.”

    “Respect creates space for every person, and nurtures within us a sense of 'feeling at home' with others,” and rather than dividing and isolating, “respect allows us to see our differences as a sign of the diversity and richness of the one human family.”

    The Vatican officials then urged members of different religious traditions to “go beyond the confines of tolerance by showing respect to all individuals and communities, for everyone desires and deserves to be valued according to his or her innate dignity. This calls for the building of a true culture of respect, one capable of promoting conflict resolution, peace-making and harmonious living.”

    “Grounded in our own spiritual traditions and in our shared concern for the unity and welfare of all people, may we Christians and Hindus, together with other believers and people of good will, encourage, in our families and communities, and through our religious teachings and communication media, respect for every person, especially for those in our midst whose cultures and beliefs are different from our own.”

    Thus, they concluded, “we will move beyond tolerance to build a society that is harmonious and peaceful, where all are respected and encouraged to contribute to the unity of the human family by making their own unique contribution.”

  5. Hunger must be fought by actively going to the roots, Pope Francis says

    Vatican City, Oct 16, 2017 / 05:26 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Monday, Pope Francis issued a lengthy appeal to address the problem of world hunger not only through talk, but concrete action by going to the root of the problem and introducing a new global mentality aimed at love rather than profit.

    With the risk of indifference rising as deaths due to hunger, abandonment or war are reported on a daily basis, “we urgently need to find new ways to transform the possibilities we have into a guarantee that will allow each person to face the future with established confidence, and not only with some illusion,” the Pope said Oct. 16.

    In light of the vast portions of the global population who continue to suffer from malnutrition, war, climate change, forced migration and various forms of exploitation, “we can and must change course,” he said.

    Noting how some would say simply “reducing the number of mouths to feed” would be enough to solve the problem of food shortage and global inequality, Francis said this is “a false solution” given current patterns of waste and consumption in some areas of the world.

    Rather, he proposed “sharing” as a more effective strategy, which “implies conversion, and this is demanding.”

    Francis spoke during his annual address to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which estimates that across the board, a third of food produced in the world each year is wasted, amounting to some 1.3 billion tons.

    He suggested a change in language used on the international scene which is focused on “the category of love, conjugated as gratuitousness, equal treatment, solidarity, a culture of gift, brotherhood and mercy.”

    “These words express, effectively, the practical content of the term 'humanism,' often used in international activity,” he said.

    Francis also highlighted the relationship between hunger and forced migration, saying the problem can only be solved “ if we go to the root of the problem,” rather that coming up with superficial solutions.

    Referencing various studies, the Pope noted that the main underlying causes of hunger, which in itself prompts many to migrate, are “conflicts and climate change.”

    The effects of climate change are felt on a daily basis, he said, explaining that thanks to science, the international community already knows how to face the problem.

    He praised initiatives such as the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, and urged nations to uphold the agreement. However, he noted that “unfortunately, some are moving away from (it).”

    Though Pope Francis mentioned no one specifically, his reference includes the United States, which pulled out of the agreement June 1 as President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would pursue other means of addressing the environmental issue which are more favorable to Americans.

    In terms of conflict, the Pope pointed to various “martyred populations” suffering from decades of war, many of which “could have been avoided or at least stopped, and yet they spread such disastrous and cruel effects as food insecurity and the forced displacement of peoples.”

    To overcome these conflicts, both “good will and dialogue” are needed, as well as firm and total commitment to a “gradual and systemic disarmament” in war zones.

    “What is the point of denouncing that, because of military conflicts, millions of people are victims of hunger and malnutrition, if we do not act effectively in the interest of peace and disarmament?” he said.

    “It is clear that wars and climate change are an occasion for hunger, so let us avoid, then, presenting it as an incurable illness.”

    Human mobility, he said, can and must be managed by a coordinated and systemic action on the parts of governments that are in accord with existing international standards, and which are “impregnated with love and intelligence.”

    In terms of solutions, he said it's possible to stop the use of weapons of mass destruction because the world has recognized “the destructive capacity of these weapons.” However, he asked whether “we (are) equally aware of the effects of the poverty and exclusion?”

    People who are “willing to risk everything” to escape violence, hunger, poverty or climate change won't be stopped by physical, economic, legislative or ideological barriers, he said, explaining that “a coherent application of the principle of humanity” is the only thing capable of addressing the problem.

    Francis urged “a broad and sincere” dialogue at all levels of society in order for “the best solutions” to be found and for new relationships to be formed which are characterized by “mutual responsibility, solidarity and communion.”

    Although current initiatives in place are praiseworthy, “they are not enough,” he said, and stressed the need to promote and develop new actions and financial programs “which combat hunger and structural misery more effectively and with high hopes of success.”

    In developing these new tactics, it's necessary to avoid the temptation “to act in favor of small groups of the population” or to used aid funding “inappropriately, favoring corruption, or lack of legality,” he said.

    Closing his remarks, the Pope voiced the desire for the Catholic Church to directly participate in the various efforts being pursued and implemented given her mission, “which leads it to love everyone and also forces it to remind those who have national or international responsibility of the great duty to meet the needs of the poorest.”

    Francis, who received a standing ovation for his speech, gifted the FAO with a marble statue commemorating Aylan Kurdi, the 3-year-old Syrian refugee boy whose body washed up on the shores of Turkey in 2015 after a failed attempt to cross the Mediterranean.