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Catholic News Agency (CNA) - Vatican


Vatican City, Jan 21, 2019 / 04:45 pm (CNA).- With a motu proprio released Jan. 19, Pope Francis put the Sistine Chapel Choir under the administration of the Office of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations, appointing Mons. Guido Marini, who is the master of ceremonies for papal liturgies, to the helm, and entrusting him with drafting the choir’s new statutes.
 
This decision has apparently two main reasons behind it: it is the first step of a wider reform that will end with the shutdown of the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household; and it is a way to strengthen control over the choir after the turmoil of a financial scandal still under investigation.
 
The Sistine Chapel Choir is the most ancient choir in the world, its history dating back to the 7th century. It is normally comprised of 20 men (tenors and basses) and 30 boys (sopranos and altos).
 
In the Jan. 19 motu proprio, Pope Francis noted that, since its foundation, the choir has been “a high place for artistic and liturgical expression at the service of the solemn celebrations of the Pontiffs, initially into the splendid chapel after which it was named, and then in St. Peter’s Basilica or wherever pontiffs deemed its work needed.”
 
Pope Francis also noted that the choir was managed by the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household because of this special link with the pope, though “enjoying autonomous administration,” under, by the way, some guiding constraints.

Though the office of Master of Ceremonies was established in the 15th century, it was Pope St. John Paul II that shaped the office into its current form, with proper legislation and competencies, through Pastor bonus, the 1988 apostolic constitution that regulates functions of tasks of the offices of the Roman Curia.
 
Marini has been at the helm of the office, as master of papal liturgical celebrations, since 2007.
 
Jan. 19, the pope established that Marini will have the task “of leading all the Sistine Chapel Choir activities in liturgical, pastoral, spiritual, artistic and educational fields,” in order to make “always more perceivable in it and in its members the primary end of sacred music.”
 
Pope Francis also entrusted Marini with the task of drafting statutes for the choir, that will be an update of the regulations of the choir approved by Pope St. Paul VI in 1969.
 
In addition, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Guido Pozzo “superintendent of the economy of the Sistine Chapel Choir,” with the only task of “the care of the economic administration of the Chapel.”
 
Before this decision, the Sistine Chapel Choir was under the competency of the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, and the administration was managed by layman Michelangelo Nardella.
 
Nardella has been suspended while under investigation for financial scandals that involved the Sistine Chapel Choir administration.
 
News about a financial scandal involving the Sistine Chapel Choir broke in July 2018 and were confirmed by the Holy See Press Office in September 2018.
 
The Holy See Press Office, in a declaration delivered Sep. 12, 2018, stated that “Pope Francis, some months ago, authorized an investigation on the economic-administrative aspects” of the Sistine Chapel Choir, and underscored that “the investigations are still ongoing.”
 
The investigations of the Vatican public prosecutor came after two internal investigations conducted by Archbishop Mario Giordana, a retired apostolic nuncio.
 
The allegations were of reported money laundering, aggravated fraud against the Vatican City State, and embezzlement. The investigations targeted Nardella and the director of the Sistine Chapel Choir, Mons. Massimo Palombella.
 
According to reports, Nardella and Palombella allegedly transferred some concert proceeds to an Italian bank account and used the money for personal expenses.
 
When the news broke in July, Andrea Tornielli, now editorial director of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication, penned an article in La Stampa July 4, explaining that “it was true that it has been opened (opened, not concluded), an administrative (not criminal or civil) lawsuit against Nardella for a mistake he made.”
 
Tornielli went on to say that “this mistake has nothing to do with contracts, management of funds.” Nardella instead allegedly “sent to a conference a message attributed to the Pope using an old (and authentic) text of Pope Francis from a similar occasion without asking for the required authorization from the Secretariat of State.”
 
The investigation continued, and in September 2018 the Holy See Press Office made a public announcement about ongoing investigation.
 
With the motu proprio this month, Palombella keeps his position as director of the choir, while the pope made the decision to make Pozzo the manager.
 
In the end, the Sistine Chapel Choir loses its administrative autonomy, and the pope will exercise more oversight.
 
Another consequence is that the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household loses another piece of its responsibilities, making it appear just a matter of time before Pope Francis shuts down the entire office.
 
Led by Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the prefecture organizes official visits to the pope, tickets to and the organization of the general audiences, and the activities of the Apostolic Palace.
 
Pope Francis might absorb part of the office within the Secretariat of State: the visits of heads of State to the pope should be managed by the office for protocol, while there could be another office for the management of the tickets for general audiences.
 
Along with that, it is also rumored Pope Francis will shutdown the Apostolic Camera, that is, the body that manages the Church’s patrimony during the sede vacante. The Apostolic Camera is composed of seven members and led by a Cardinal Camerlengo. The position of camerlengo has been vacant since July, when Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, camerlengo, passed away.
 
It is said the administrative functions of the Apostolic Camera will be transferred to the Administration for the Patrimony of the Apostolic See. The transition in sede vacante might be managed by the Secretariat of State.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Vatican City, Jan 20, 2019 / 06:46 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis launched an app Sunday called  “Click to Pray,” which connects Catholics to a global network to share prayer intentions via their smartphones.

The pope opened the new app using an iPad during his Angelus address Jan. 20 and encouraged young Catholics, in particular, to download the smartphone app to pray the “Rosary of Peace” ahead of World Youth Day.

“Click to Pray” allows users to post prayer intentions and view other prayer requests in six languages. After posting on the social network, one can track how many Catholics around the world have prayed for their request.

The Android and iOS app includes the pope’s monthly prayer intentions, all of the mysteries of the rosary, and daily prayers for morning, afternoon, and night. In each of these sections, users can click a box to indicate that they have completed the prayer and view how many others also prayed.

This month’s prayer intention is “for young people and the example of Mary.” In his Angelus address, Pope Francis reflected on Mary’s role in Sunday’s Gospel narrative of the wedding feast at Cana.

“Let us look at Mary: the words that Mary addresses to the servants come to crown the spousal framework of Cana, ‘Do whatever he tells you,’” Francis said. “These words are a precious inheritance that our Mother has left us.”

“To serve the Lord means to listen and practice His word. It is the simple, essential recommendation of the Mother of Jesus, it is the program of life of the Christian,” he continued.

Pope Francis explained that “it is not accidental that at the beginning of Jesus' public life there is a wedding ceremony, because in Him God has married humanity.”

Jesus’ transformation of water into wine was also symbolic, Francis noted, “Water is necessary to live, but the wine expresses the abundance of the banquet and the joy of the party.”

He joked, “It would have been bad to continue the party with water! ... A party without wine? I don’t know.”

The pope encouraged Catholics to turn to Our Lady when facing difficult situations, and to echo her words, “They have no wine.”

Francis explained, “When problems occur that we do not know how to solve, when we often feel anxiety and anguish, when we lack the joy, go to Our Lady and say, ‘We have no wine. The wine is finished: look how I am, look at my heart, look at my soul.’ Tell Mother, and she will go to Jesus to say, ‘Look at this, look at this: they have no wine.’ And then, she will come back to us and tell us, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’”

In a prayer to Mary after the Angelus, the pope expressed his grief and continued prayers for the Colombian people after the terrorist attack last Thursday at the National Police Academy, which killed 21 people.

The pope said that it “pained his heart” that an estimated 170 migrants are missing after two shipwrecks in the Mediterranean this weekend.

“They were looking for a future for their lives. Victims, perhaps, of human traffickers. We pray for them, and for those who are responsible for what happened,” he said.

The cheers at the end of the Angelus prayer were louder than usual as young people in St. Peter’s square waved Panamanian flags and raised a large banner reading, “Buon Viaggio.” The pope will depart Rome for Panama on January 23 for World Youth Day 2019.

 

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Vatican City, Jan 19, 2019 / 06:02 am (CNA).- Pope Francis issued a motu proprio Saturday ending the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei and creating an office within the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith to focus on doctrinal dialogue with traditionalist groups.

For over thirty years, the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei has “facilitated the full ecclesial communion of priests, seminarians, communities or individual religious linked to Mgr. Marcel Lefebvre’s fraternity, who wished to remain united to the Successor of Peter in the Catholic Church, preserving their spiritual and liturgical traditions,” Pope Francis wrote in the apostolic letter published Jan. 19.

“The institutes and religious communities that usually celebrate in extraordinary form have found today their own stability of number and life,” the pope noted.

Pope Francis stated that the issues dealt with today by the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei are of  “a predominantly doctrinal nature,” and therefore the complete transfer of the pontifical commission’s task to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith is with the desire that “these aims become more and more evident to the conscience of the ecclesial communities.”

Established in 1988 by St. John Paul II in order to carry on a dialogue with traditionalist parties, Ecclesia Dei was reformed by Benedict XVI in 2009 with the instruction Universae Ecclesiae, linking the commission to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

The closing of Ecclesia Dei is the latest step in the pope’s wider project of reform of the Roman Curia. Administrative matters, including the pontifical commission's budget, will now be included in the ordinary accounts of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.

The Ordinary Session of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith on November 15, 2017 requested that “the dialogue between the Holy See and the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X be conducted directly” by their congregation, the apostolic letter explained.

In November 2018, Fr. Davide Pagliarani, the superior general of the SSPX, met with CDF Prefect Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer and Archbishop Guido Pozzo, secretary of the pontifical commission Ecclesia Dei.

During the meeting “it was recalled that the fundamental problem is actually doctrinal … Because of this irreducible doctrinal divergence, for the past seven years no attempt to compose a draft of a doctrinal statement acceptable to both parties has succeeded. This is why the doctrinal question remains absolutely essential,” according to a SSPX statement.

The SSPX was founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1970 to form priests, as a response to what he described as errors that had crept into the Church after the Second Vatican Council. Its relations with the Holy See became particularly strained in 1988 when Archbishop Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer consecrated four bishops without the permission of St. John Paul II.

The illicit episcopal consecrations resulted in the excommunication of the bishops involved. The excommunications of the surviving bishops were lifted in 2009 by Benedict XVI, and since then negotiations “to rediscover full communion with the Church” have continued between the SSPX and the Vatican.

There were indications in recent years of movement towards regularization of the priestly society, which has some 600 priest-members.

In March 2017, Pope Francis gave diocesan bishops or other local ordinaries the authorization to grant priests of the SSPX the ability to celebrate licitly and validly the marriages of the faithful who follow the Society's pastoral activity.

And in September 2015, the pope announced that the faithful would be able to validly and licitly receive absolution from priests of the SSPX during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. This ability was later extended indefinitely by Francis in his 2016 apostolic letter Misericordia et misera.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Vatican City, Jan 17, 2019 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- The Vatican said yesterday that the most significant cost associated with human trafficking is the exploitation and degradation of its victims.

 

With a new online guide, the Vatican seeks to combat the “ugly business” of human trafficking, which is estimated to generate $150 billion dollars a year, by examining the different levels of its complex international supply chains to target this grave evil at its roots.

 

“Approved by the Holy Father, this handbook reflects current Catholic teaching and courageous ministry, especially the ministry of the sisters on the front lines,” Father Michael Czerny, undersecretary of the Vatican’s Migrants and Refugees Section, said on the guide’s release January 17.

  “These pastoral options offer a reading, a comprehension, ‘Why does the depravity of human trafficking persist in the 21st century?” he continued. “How does the ugly, evil, business -- and we underline the word business -- operate?”



 

The guide is the result of the Vatican Migrants and Refugee Section’s consultation with researchers and practitioners working in the field to address human trafficking and enslavement, and “the Church’s full response was considered, in terms of strengths, weaknesses, pastoral action and policy options,” according to Czerny.

 

The handbook -- named “Pastoral Orientations on Human Trafficking” -- is broken down into ten sections, each analyzing human trafficking from a different angle and providing recommendations.

 

These recommendations range from targeting and prosecuting consumers of human trafficking to aiding in the full spiritual and psychological recovery of its victims.

 

The Vatican will host a conference focused on the implementation of these guidelines in early April.

 

Targeting Demand

 

More attention needs to be placed on those consumers who drive the demand for human trafficking, in addition to the traffickers themselves who supply it, according to the Vatican office.

“People who generate the demand share real responsibility for the destructive impact of their behaviour on other human persons, and for the moral values violated in the process,” the guide states, noting that “the buying of so-called sexual services, in all forms including pornography, internet based cyber-sex, strip clubs and erotic dancing venues, is a serious offence against human dignity and human integrity.”

 

The guide goes on to recommend that states consider “criminalizing those who take advantage of prostitution or of other uses of sexual exploitation provided by those who have been trafficked.”

Last year, Pope Francis expressed a similar sentiment in his World Day of Prayer address, “If there are so many young women victims of trafficking who end up on the streets of our cities, it is because many men here — young, middle-aged, elderly — demand these services and are willing to pay for their pleasure. I wonder then, is the principal cause of trafficking really the traffickers? I believe the principal cause is the unscrupulous selfishness of the many hypocrites in our world. Of course, arresting traffickers is an obligation of justice. But the true solution is the conversion of hearts, cutting off demand in order to dry out the market.”

 

Ethical Supply Chains

 

The Vatican is calling for an ethical assessment of both business models and consumption, particularly in the industries such as agriculture, fishing, construction and mining where human trafficking is deeply embedded.

“The Church encourages both sides of the commercial relationship – entrepreneurs who provide and end-users who consume – to engage in this ethical reflection and then to make the changes that are called for,” the guide states.

 

“Purchasing is always a moral – and not simply economic – act,” Benedict XVI wrote in Caritas in Veritate in 2009. “Hence the consumer has a specific social responsibility, which goes hand-in-hand with the social responsibility of the enterprise.”

 

On a broader level, the Vatican office recommends that countries implement legislation that requires “all companies, particularly those working transnationally and outsourcing in developing countries, to invest in the transparency and accountability of their supply chains.”

 

Adding that there needs to be special and intense prosecution of organized crime engaged in people smuggling and trafficking nationally and transnationally, along with prosecution of connivance by local and national authorities.”

 

Ways of Hope

 

Along with the guidebook, a compilation of all of Pope Francis’ teachings on migrants, refugees, and human trafficking entitled “Lights on the Ways of Hope” was also released in hardcover and online in English and other languages. The searchable digital version will continue to be updated as the pope comments on human trafficking in the future.


“I hope that this collection of teachings may indeed illuminate our steps on the pathways of hope, providing food for inspiration and prayer, preaching and pastoral action,” Pope Francis wrote in the introduction to the book released Jan. 17.

The pope reflected on examples of migration and enslavement throughout the history of salvation, from the betrayal and sale of young Joseph by his brothers to Abraham and Sarah’s departure from their homeland in response to God’s promise.

“Indeed, like human history, the history of salvation has been marked by displacements of every sort – migration, exile, flight, exodus – and yet all reaching out with hope for a better future elsewhere. And even when the displacement is a criminal enterprise, as in the case of trafficking, let no one be robbed of the hope of being rescued and set free,” Francis said.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Vatican City, Jan 17, 2019 / 10:35 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Farmers from across Italy brought their animals to the Vatican for a blessing Thursday, turning the street outside St. Peter’s Square into a farmyard of horses, donkeys, cows, pigs, hens, sheep, rams, goats, geese, ducks, and rabbits.

The animals (and their owners) were present for the annual Jan. 17 blessing for the feast of St. Anthony of Egypt, a third- to fourth-century saint who lived an austere and holy life in the Egyptian desert. Because the saint spent most of his life close to nature, in Italy he is venerated as a protector of animals.

Organized by an Italian farmers’ association, some family pets, such as cats and dogs, were also present for the benediction, which was given by Cardinal Angelo Comastri, Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica.

The event began with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica (in which the animals did not participate, preferring the comfort of their pens and food). The blessing by Comastri followed.

The day’s festivities also included a parade of horses down the main street leading to St. Peter’s, with a performance by a mounted police band.

At Mass, Comastri pointed to a 16th-century statue of St. Anthony of Egypt, also known as St. Anthony the Abbot, which travels from the home to home of families of the farming association for use in family prayer.

St. Anthony “understood that God is the only true richness of life and understood that God came to meet us in Jesus,” he said.

“This is a sign that the agricultural life, life in contact with daily labor, is the healthiest life and the life closest to God. And when people, families, are close to God, they have nothing to fear.”

Friday, January 18, 2019





 

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