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Vatican City, Sep 23, 2020 / 10:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis blessed a large bell Wednesday that Polish Catholics hope will ring out in the defence of unborn life.

“May its ring awaken the consciences of legislators and all people of good will in Poland and the whole world,” Pope Francis said Sept. 23.

The Voice of the Unborn bell, commissioned by the Yes to Life foundation, is a symbolic bell to be used at Poland’s March for Life and other pro-life events. It is decorated with a cast an ultrasound image of an unborn child and a quotation from Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko: “A child’s life begins under the mother’s heart.”

In addition, the bell features two tablets, symbolizing the Ten Commandments. On the first are the words of Jesus, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law” (Matthew 5:17), and on the second is the commandment, “You shall not kill” (Exodus 20:13).

Pope Francis was the first person to ring the symbolic bell after giving it his blessing in a courtyard in Vatican City after his general audience.

The pope noted that the bell would “accompany events aimed at remembering the value of human life from conception to natural death.”

The bell weighs more than 2,000 pounds and is nearly four feet in diameter. It was cast from bronze Aug. 26 at the Jan Felczyński bell foundry in the southeastern city of Przemyśl, in the presence of civil and Catholic leaders, according to Polish media.

After its return from Rome to Poland, the bell will be installed at All Saints parish in Kolbuszowa, but will soon be transported again for use in Poland’s March for Life, planned to take place in October in Warsaw. 

“This bell is meant to stir consciences. The idea of ​​casting it was born at the beginning of this year, when I read the information that 42 million children in the world are killed every year as a result of abortion,” Bogdan Romaniuk, vice president of the Polish Yes to Life foundation, told the Polish Catholic weekly Niedziela. 

In Poland, the law allows abortion only in cases of rape, incest, threat to the mother’s life, or fetal abnormality. About 700 to 1,800 legal abortions take place each year.

Dr. Bogdan Chazan, the foundation’s president, said that he hoped the sound of the bell would serve as a “call to prayer” for the protection of unborn children.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Vatican City, Sep 23, 2020 / 06:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis said Wednesday that he is worried that large pharmaceutical companies are listened to more than front-line healthcare workers in pandemic recovery and that the Catholic principle of subsidiarity is the solution.

“When a project is launched that directly or indirectly touches certain social groups, these groups cannot be left out from participating … the wisdom of the humbler groups cannot be set aside. Unfortunately, this injustice happens often in those places where huge economic and geopolitical interests are concentrated,” Pope Francis said Sept. 23.

“Let’s think of the grand financial assistance measures enacted by countries. The largest financial companies are listened to rather than the people or the ones who really move the economy,” the pope said in Vatican City’s San Damaso Courtyard.

“Or let’s think about the cure for the virus: the large pharmaceutical companies are listened to more than the healthcare workers employed on the front lines in hospitals or in refugee camps. This is not a good path. Everyone should be listened to, those who are at the top and those who are at the bottom, everyone.” 



Pope Francis explained that the principle of subsidiarity was necessary in these situations to ensure the best solutions. Subsidiarity is the idea, deeply rooted in Catholic tradition, that the authority closest to a local need is best suited to tackle the issue. It is opposed to all forms of collectivism and sets limits for state intervention. 

“To emerge better from a crisis, the principle of subsidiarity must be enacted, respecting the autonomy and the capacity to take initiative that everyone has, especially the least,” Pope Francis said.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that, according to the principle of subsidiarity, “a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good.”

The pope underscored that the wisdom and contribution of individuals, families, associations, businesses, and the Church were all needed to revitalize society. 

“The principle of subsidiarity allows everyone to assume their own role in the healing and destiny of society,” he said.

Religious freedom and freedom of expression are a critical component that allow for these voices to be heard, according to the pope.

“In some societies, many people are not free to express their own faith and their own values, their own ideas: if they express them freely, they are put in jail. Elsewhere, especially in the Western world, many people repress their own ethical or religious convictions. This is no way to emerge from the crisis, or at least to emerge from it better,” Pope Francis said.



The pope’s reflection on subsidiarity was part of his series of weekly catecheses, launched in August, on Catholic social teaching. Entitled “Healing the World,” the pope’s message at his Wednesday audiences focuses on the COVID-19 pandemic in light of Church teaching. 

In previous weeks, Francis has spoken about the importance of solidarity and the common good. This week he noted that subsidiarity and solidarity were both needed for the good of society.

“This path of solidarity needs subsidiarity,” he stressed. “In fact, there is no true solidarity without social participation, without the contribution of intermediary bodies: families, associations, cooperatives, small businesses, and other expressions of society … This type of participation helps to prevent and to correct certain negative aspects of globalization and actions of countries, just as it is happening regarding the healing of people affected by the pandemic.”

“These contributions ‘from the bottom’ should be encouraged. How beautiful it is to see the volunteers during the crisis. The volunteers come from every part of society, volunteers who come from well-off families and those who come from poorer families. But everyone, everyone together to emerge. This is solidarity and this is the principle of subsidiarity.”

Another important component of subsidiarity, the pope explained, is that those with a higher responsibility look out for the good of those without adequate resources.

“After the great economic depression of 1929, Pope Pius XI explained how important the principle of subsidiarity was,” Pope Francis said.

“On the one hand, and above all in moments of change, when single individuals, families, small associations and local communities are not capable of achieving primary objectives, it is then right that the highest levels of society, such as the state, should intervene to provide the necessary resources to progress.”

“For example, because of the coronavirus lockdown, many people, families and economic entities found themselves and still find themselves in serious trouble. Thus, public institutions are trying to help through appropriate interventions. On the other hand, however, society’s leaders must respect and promote the intermediate or lower levels.”

At the end of his general audience, which took place on a rainy morning, the pope mentioned that he would bless a bell named “The Voice of the Unborn,” commissioned by the “Sì alla Vita” foundation.

“It will accompany the events aimed at remembering the value of human life from conception to natural death,” he said, noting a desire that its sound would awaken the consciences of legislators and all people of good will.

“During the lockdown, the spontaneous gesture of applauding, applause for doctors and nurses began as a sign of encouragement and hope. … Let’s extend this applause to every member of the social body, to each and every one, for their precious contribution, no matter how small,” Pope Francis said.

“Let’s applaud the ‘castaways,’ those whom culture defines as those to be ‘thrown out,’ this throwaway culture -- that is, let’s applaud the elderly, children, persons with disability, let’s applaud workers, all those who dedicate themselves to service. Everyone collaborating to emerge from the crisis.”

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Vatican City, Sep 22, 2020 / 10:00 am (CNA).- Palliative care for the dying is important, but medical interventions are not enough; Catholics have a responsibility to be with the suffering and to communicate the hope of Christ, a new Vatican document on euthanasia said Tuesday.

While palliative care is “essential and invaluable,” it is not enough, a letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said.

“Palliative care cannot provide a fundamental answer to suffering or eradicate it from people’s lives,” the congregation said. “To claim otherwise is to generate a false hope, and cause even greater despair in the midst of suffering.”

“Medical science can understand physical pain better and can deploy the best technical resources to treat it. But terminal illness causes a profound suffering in the sick person, who seeks a level of care beyond the purely technical,” it continued.

“Palliative care in itself is not enough unless there is someone who ‘remains’ at the bedside of the sick to bear witness to their unique and unrepeatable value. Pain is existentially bearable only where there is hope.”

The CDF presented the 45-page letter, Samaritanus bonus: on the Care of Persons in the Critical and Terminal Phases of Life, at a press conference Sept. 22. It was approved by Pope Francis on June 25 and signed by CDF prefect Cardinal Luis Ladaria and secretary Archbishop Giacomo Morandi. 

The letter reaffirmed Catholic teaching on a range of end-of-life issues, underlining the moral impermissability of euthanasia and assisted suicide, and recalling the obligation of Catholics to accompany the sick and dying through prayer, physical presence, and the sacraments. 

The Vatican document also pointed out what it described as cultural obstacles obscuring the intrinsic value of every human life: the notion of “dignified death” as measured by a person’s so-called “quality of life,” a false understanding of compassion, and an individualism which sees the other as a limitation or threat to one’s freedom.

So-called “compassionate” euthansia holds that it is better to die than to suffer, the CDF noted. “In reality, human compassion consists not in causing death, but in embracing the sick, in supporting them in their difficulties, in offering them affection, attention, and the means to alleviate the suffering.”

Cardinal Ladaria said Sept. 22 that “a compassion that is not accompanied by the truth, by respect for human life in all its phases of existence, is a compassion that is not just, is not right.”

Catholics need to know how to show authentic compassion and to witness to Christian hope, the CDF document argued.

“In the face of the challenge of illness and the emotional and spiritual difficulties associated with pain, one must necessarily know how to speak a word of comfort drawn from the compassion of Jesus on the Cross,” it said. “It is full of hope -- a sincere hope, like Christ’s on the Cross, capable of facing the moment of trial and the challenge of death.”

“The hope that Christ communicates to the sick and the suffering is that of his presence, of his true nearness,” the letter explained. “To contemplate the living experience of Christ’s suffering is to proclaim to men and women of today a hope that imparts meaning to the time of sickness and death. From this hope springs the love that overcomes the temptation to despair.”

The document said that Catholic priests and others should avoid any active or passive gesure which might signal approval for euthanasia and assisted suicide, including remaining in a room while the act is performed.

But to someone who is considering taking that action, the presence of a witness to truth, charity, and hope can be powerful, Ladaria said.

“The witness of Christians, the witness of Christian healthcare workers, the witness of all the Christian relatives of this person, etc. can be something very determinative” in helping a person to turn away from the decision to end his or her own life, he said.

Ladaria encouraged offering a “witness of presence” to those who were seriously ill and dying.

When a person sees no other hope than assisted suicide, “if he sees someone who clearly does not accept this solution, but is there beside him, and does not abandon him, and is next to him, maybe this can be a factor which helps him to reflect,” he said.

“I believe that in every man there is some reserve of hope,” the cardinal stated. Communicating the truth with charity, being present to someone who feels hopeless, could help them to think and reflect, it “makes this person see that there is, however, hope, there is hope. That hope never ends!”

Priestly ministry to the sick at the end of life, a symbol of the solicitude of Christ and the Church, “can and must have a decisive role,” and makes proper priestly formation vital in this area, Samaritanus bonus said. It also noted that because priests cannot always be present at a bedside, physicians and healthcare workers need formation in Christian accompaniment too.

“In this essential mission it is extremely important to bear witness to and unite truth and charity with which the gaze of the Good Shepherd never ceases to accompany all of His children,” it stated.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Vatican City, Sep 22, 2020 / 07:00 am (CNA).- The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) said Tuesday that the Vatican had “done everything possible to dialogue” with an Irish priest barred from public ministry for his views on the priesthood and sexuality. 

Speaking at a press conference at the Vatican Sept. 22, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, SJ, argued that the CDF had no alternative but to take action against Fr. Tony Flannery.

“We have done everything possible to dialogue with Fr. Flannery. It was not always easy,” he said. 

Flannery, a Redemptorist priest, was barred from public ministry by the CDF in 2012 for his stances on the nature of the sacramental priesthood and human sexuality.

It was reported earlier this month that the CDF had asked the 73-year-old to affirm four doctrinal propositions as a condition of returning to ministry.

“Fr Flannery should not return to public ministry prior to submitting a signed statement regarding his positions on homosexuality, civil unions between persons of the same sex, and the admission of women to the priesthood,” the CDF wrote to the superior of the Redemptorists in a letter dated July 9.

Flannery wrote on his personal website: “I will not be signing this document.”

Ladaria defended his congregation’s handling of the case, telling journalists: “We have done everything possible. In some moments we have had to take some measure that never concerns a judgment on the person, because this is always reserved to our Lord, but on his teachings or on his behavior.”

“And so we have tried always to maintain all of our respect toward Fr. Flannery, but also the duty we have, according to the dispositions of the Church, to protect the faith and therefore indicate when something is not in conformity with the faith.”

In 2010, Flannery helped to found the Irish Association of Catholic Priests, a group whose constitution emphasizes “the primacy of the individual conscience” and “a redesigning of Ministry in the Church, in order to incorporate the gifts, wisdom and expertise of the entire faith community, male and female.”

The Redemptorist leadership in Ireland reportedly wrote to the order’s superior general, who in turn wrote to the CDF, asking for Flannery to be allowed to minister publicly again.

The CDF’s letter, published on Flannery’s website, asked that the priest sign a proposition that “according to the Tradition and the doctrine of the Church incorporated in the Canon Law (c. 1024), a baptized male alone receives sacred ordination validly.”

This proposition regarding the reservation of priesthood to men was supported by excerpts from St. John Paul II’s 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis and Pope Francis’ 2020 apostolic exhortation Querida Amazonia.

Regarding the moral liceity of homosexual acts, Flannery was asked to submit to the proposition that “Since the homosexual practices are contrary to the natural law and do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity, they are not approved by the moral teaching of the Catholic Church.” This was supported by a quotation from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The priest was also asked to assent to the proposition that “The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman form with each other an intimate communion of life and love, has been founded and endowed with its own special laws by the Creator (CCC 1660). Other forms of union do not correspond to God’s plan for marriage and family. Therefore, they are not allowed by the Catholic Church.”

This proposition on marriage was supported by the Catechism of the Catholic Church and by Amoris laetitia, Pope Francis’ 2016 apostolic exhortation.

Finally, Flannery was invited to submit to the proposition that “In so far as it contradicts the foundations of a genuine Christian anthropology, gender theory is not accepted by Catholic teaching,” supported by the Congregation for Catholic Education’s 2019 document “Male and female he created them.”

In a response to the CDF letter published on his website Sept. 17, Flannery wrote: “From the first moment it came to me I knew that I was not going to sign it. But it has been sitting there for the last three months or so. Now it is gone, my decision has been finally made certain and clear, and there is a sense of relief and satisfaction about that.”

Speaking at a press conference on the CDF’s new document on euthanasia, Ladaria said: “This is a very unpleasant situation to the congregation, very unpleasant. But it is our responsibility, and it would be an error on our part if we did not bear this responsibility and left it to one side and did not give a word, when, in certain moments, sadly, many times it should be given.”

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Vatican City, Sep 22, 2020 / 06:00 am (CNA).- The Vatican Secretary of State asked the United Nations Monday to return to its founding ideals to protect the common good and the right to life.

“Over these 75 years, the UN has protected and served international law, promoting a world based on the rule of law and justice, rather than on weapons and might,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin said in a video message released Sept. 21.

“The United Nations is not perfect and it has not always lived up to its name and ideals, and it has harmed itself whenever particular interests have triumphed over the common good,” the Vatican official said.

Addressing the high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly to commemorate the 75th anniversary of its founding, Parolin underlined that the universal human rights that the UN has strived to champion “include the right to life and freedom of religion,” which he said “are essential for the much needed promotion of a world where the dignity of every human person is protected and advanced.”

For the first time in its history, the UN General Assembly is virtual this year, with world leaders delivering pre-taped remarks via video link due to the coronavirus restrictions on travel to New York. The first day of meetings ended Sept. 21 at 9 p.m. before the Vatican Secretary of State’s video message was played. But it will be presented later during the meeting.

Pope Francis is also scheduled to address the UN General Assembly this week, according to the Holy See press office. 

In his video message, Parolin said that countries have looked to the UN with the expectation that the organization would “not only affirm the ideals on which it was founded, but would labor with ever-greater resolve to make these ideals a reality in the life of every woman and man.”

“Since its recognition as an Observer State in 1964, the Holy See has supported and taken an active role within the United Nations. Successive popes have come before this General Assembly urging this noble Institution to be a ‘moral center’ where every country is at home, where the family of nations convenes and where the international community -- in a spirit of human fraternity and solidarity -- advances together with multilateral solutions to global challenges,” Parolin said.

The Holy See’s mission at the United Nations is an important part of the Holy See’s diplomatic work. It aims to communicate the Catholic Church’s centuries of experience to assist the UN in realizing peace, justice, human dignity, and humanitarian cooperation and assistance.

Recently the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations expressed his deep concern over the UN General Assembly’s inclusion of a reference to “reproductive rights” in a resolution on combating the coronavirus pandemic. 

“In particular, the Holy See rejects the interpretation that considers abortion or access to abortion, sex-selective abortion, abortion of fetuses diagnosed with health challenges, maternal surrogacy, and sterilization as dimensions of ‘reproductive health,’ or as part of universal health
coverage,” Archbishop Gabriele Caccia told the UN Sept. 11.

He offered several other criticisms of the resolution, including “the exclusion of faith-based organizations from the list of those who play an important role in response to the pandemic” and the lack of consensus in adopting the resolution. 

Caccia took up his position as Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in January this year. At the time of his appointment, he noted the 75th anniversary of the UN’s founding.

“I look forward to helping the Holy See assist the United Nations in renewing its commitment to the pillars of its Charter, preventing the scourge of war, defending human dignity and rights, promoting integral development, and fostering respect and implementation of international law and treaties,” Caccia said.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020





 

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