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Pope Francis: Migrants bearing brunt of ‘aggressive’ nationalism and ‘radical individualism’

Pope Francis washes the feet of migrants and refugees during Holy Thursday Mass March 24, 2016. / L'Osservatore Romano.

CNA Staff, May 6, 2021 / 06:10 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Thursday that “aggressive forms of nationalism and radical individualism,” exposed during the pandemic, are having a severe impact on migrants worldwide.

In his message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, issued May 6, he said that the coronavirus crisis had highlighted the deep divisions between human beings.

“Our ‘we,’ both in the wider world and within the Church, is crumbling and cracking due to myopic and aggressive forms of nationalism and radical individualism,” he said.

“And the highest price is being paid by those who most easily become viewed as others: foreigners, migrants, the marginalized, those living on the existential peripheries.”

The World Day of Migrants and Refugees, instituted in 1914 by Pope Pius X, is celebrated annually on the last Sunday in September. This year it falls on Sept. 26.

In his message for the day’s 107th commemoration, entitled “Towards an ever wider ‘we’,” Pope Francis addressed what he called a “twofold appeal,” to Catholics and the wider world, to embrace those on the margins.

He urged Catholics “to make the Church become ever more inclusive.”

“In our day,” he wrote, “the Church is called to go out into the streets of every existential periphery in order to heal wounds and to seek out the straying, without prejudice or fear, without proselytizing, but ready to widen her tent to embrace everyone.”

“Among those dwelling in those existential peripheries, we find many migrants and refugees, displaced persons and victims of trafficking, to whom the Lord wants his love to be manifested and his salvation preached.”

He appealed to those outside the Church to work with Catholics to build “a future of justice and peace.”

“Our societies will have a ‘colorful’ future, enriched by diversity and by cultural exchanges. Consequently, we must even now learn to live together in harmony and peace,” he commented.

He continued: “Today’s migration movements offer an opportunity for us to overcome our fears and let ourselves be enriched by the diversity of each person’s gifts. Then, if we so desire, we can transform borders into privileged places of encounter, where the miracle of an ever wider ‘we’ can come about.”

The pope argued that greater solidarity was also necessary “to ensure the proper care of our common home.”

He said: “Ours must be a personal and collective commitment that cares for all our brothers and sisters who continue to suffer, even as we work towards a more sustainable, balanced and inclusive development.”

“A commitment that makes no distinction between natives and foreigners, between residents and guests, since it is a matter of a treasure we hold in common, from whose care and benefits no one should be excluded.”

In an intervention prepared for a Vatican press conference launching the pope’s message, Cardinal Michael Czerny noted that the text developed themes in the pope’s latest encyclical, Fratelli tutti.

Referring to the pandemic, he said: “We are all suffering in different ways. What happens when the survivors in a lifeboat must all help to row to shore? What if some take more than their share of the rations, leaving others too weak to row? The risk is that everyone will perish, the well-fed and the starving alike.”

Czerny, the under-secretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, added: “Widening the Good Samaritan attitude -- overcoming selfishness and caring for all -- is essential to survival.”

During the press conference, a video campaign for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees was presented, featuring Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso describing the situation on the border between Mexico and the United States.

He said: “I’ve found the most rewarding opportunities of my life serving here at the border. I’ve learned that borders can be vibrant places of encounter and welcome -- encounters that enrich us. I’ve learned that we are all interconnected as one human family. We stand or fall together. We build walls and fences which divide us. Today people of faith need to be bridge builders.”

Speaking via video link, Bishop Paul McAleenan, an auxiliary bishop of the English diocese of Westminster, said that the pope’s message offered encouragement to Catholics in the U.K.

He said: “Pope Francis draws our attention to the interconnectedness of humanity: my decisions and actions here affect others who are far away.”

“Three areas in particular directly affect the human family today. The decision of the United Kingdom to reduce its aid budget compounds the suffering of the world’s poorest. Nations engaging in the arms trade bring endless misery to those in places of conflict. Our contribution to the climate emergency results in droughts, disasters and displacement thousands of miles away. Understanding the reasons for migration must include the acknowledgement that we are not blameless.”

Also speaking via video link, Sarah Teather, director of the Jesuit Refugee Service UK, said that in her work she witnessed the lack of solidarity that Pope Francis described in his message.

“Faced with those who fled their homes and sought sanctuary, the asylum system builds walls of suspicion to stop them receiving the protection they need,” she explained.

“It detains them and enforces destitution. Destitution makes many vulnerable to abuse and exploitation, and they speak of the sense of losing themselves through years struggling at the margins.”

She highlighted the success of a project in which religious congregations and families welcome homeless asylum seekers into their homes.

She said: “Together, they create a counter-culture to the hostile public policies that render people homeless and marginalized.”

“In small, concrete ways, we can all participate in this shared project to recompose a common human family. For there are treasures to be found when we strive together to break down walls that divide us. The dream of one human family is a dream worth realizing.”

Pope Francis closed his World Day of Migrants and Refugees message with an appeal to people to “dream together” of a better future for all humanity.

He concluded with a prayer:

Holy, beloved Father,
your Son Jesus taught us
that there is great rejoicing in heaven
whenever someone lost is found,
whenever someone excluded, rejected or discarded
is gathered into our “we”,
which thus becomes ever wider.

We ask you to grant the followers of Jesus,
and all people of good will,
the grace to do your will on earth.
Bless each act of welcome and outreach
that draws those in exile
into the “we” of community and of the Church,
so that our earth may truly become
what you yourself created it to be:
the common home of all our brothers and sisters. Amen.

‘Security consultant’ says Cardinal Becciu asked her to compile ‘files’ on Vatican personnel

St. Peter's Dome. / dade72 via Shutterstock.

Rome, Italy, May 6, 2021 / 05:05 am (CNA).

Cecilia Marogna, a self-styled security consultant under investigation by the Vatican for embezzlement, has claimed that Cardinal Angelo Becciu asked her to create dossiers of incriminating information on Vatican personnel.

In an interview aired on the Italian investigative news program “Report” May 3, Marogna alleged that she was asked to create “dossieraggio,” an Italian neologism meaning a file or dossier of confidential information on a person, especially for the purpose of blackmail.

Marogna claimed that the request came from Cardinal Becciu, then the number two at the Secretariat of State.

Asked if these files were to be compiled also on people inside the Vatican, Marogna responded: “Also, yes. Then there was a discussion of the immoral conduct of some prelates.”

A lawyer for Cardinal Becciu, reached by CNA on Thursday, said there was “no official response” to Marogna’s claims at this time.

In the program, Marogna was asked if she was part of “in short, a parallel secret service,” which she affirmed, adding that it worked “in interaction with other parallel international secret services.”

“Sounds like a spy film…” the journalist said, to which Marogna responded with a smile, “Yeah, the discussion is this, exactly.”

Marogna has been under investigation by the Vatican since reports emerged last year that she received hundreds of thousands of euros from the Vatican’s Secretariat of State in connection with Becciu, and that she had spent the money on luxury goods and vacations.

Marogna acknowledged receiving the money but insisted that the funds went to her Vatican security consultancy work and salary.

Media have claimed that the payments were made under the direction of Becciu, the former sostituto of the Secretariat of State and a fellow Sardinian. Becciu, who was stripped of the rights and privileges of a cardinal by Pope Francis in September 2020, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Marogna was arrested in Milan last year on an international warrant issued by the Vatican through Interpol. She was released from jail after 17 days and an extradition request by the Vatican was dropped in January.

The Vatican also announced in January that a trial would begin soon against Marogna for alleged embezzlement, but no notifications about the state of the trial have been given since then.

In March, it was reported that Marogna also faces charges in Slovenia on suspicion that she used her Slovenia-registered companies to launder money illegally obtained from the Vatican.

In the May 3 program, details of Marogna’s connection with members of Italy’s secret service were also reported. Marogna claimed to have at one time worked in “cooperation” with Luciano Carta, then the director of Italy’s foreign intelligence service, the AISE. The program claimed that Becciu directed her to create relationships with the heads of Italy’s secret services.

The program also touched on Marogna’s long-standing involvement with an Italian masonic political organization known as the Roosevelt Movement. Marogna confirmed the connection, defending it as “for professional formation, obviously, yes.”

On April 2, 2016, Marogna was appointed as a member of the particular secretariat for relations with groups, associations, and relevant subjects of civil society within the Roosevelt Movement.

Marogna is close to the founder and president of the Roosevelt Movement, Gioele Magaldi, who is a mason of the Grand Orient of Italy and a “worshipful master,” a senior officer of a masonic lodge.

Magaldi wrote several articles online last year in defense of Marogna when she was jailed in Milan.

Cardinal virtues set the Catholic University Cardinals apart

Catholic University of America Head Football Coach Mike Gutelius with the Catholic University Cardinals. Credit: Catholic University football team.

Washington D.C., May 6, 2021 / 03:01 am (CNA).

College football is an intense competition that challenges young men to push their abilities to the limits. Catholic University of America Head Football Coach Mike Gutelius takes this challenge to a whole new level by training his players in philosophy.

“There’s glory to be had if you’re willing to sacrifice. That resonates deeply with young men,” Gutelius said.

Now in his 30th year of coaching, Gutelius has instituted a program in which he teaches the Catholic University Cardinals the cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude

“As I’ve done this as an assistant and now a head coach, I’ve been going through all these leadership books and it seems like a new one comes out every ten minutes,” Gutelius said. “There is a certain wisdom that’s about 2000 years old that’s available to me. And I’m finally at a place, coaching as the head coach of Catholic U, where I can coach these virtues as a model of how to operate your day to day life and also be a good team member.”

Gutelius, a 1992 graduate of CUA, returned to his alma mater in 2016 in order to revamp the program. After his arrival, he began including presentations on the cardinal virtues in his team meetings.

“I looked around and saw that there is a tremendous wisdom in the Church and all virtuousness hinges on these four cardinal virtues. So, I thought, I’m crazy if I don’t access this incredible fountain of wisdom that’s out there in the Church.”

Gutelius said he centers his team on the cardinal virtues, with the goal of graduating his players with a degree, winning championships, and creating virtuous leaders.

Gutelius told CNA that focusing on the spiritual life has helped to change the culture of the team. He said that thinking about these virtues adds weight to his team’s decision making.

“Say you get tackled or brought down, and you feel it was done in an illegal way. Do you stand up, turn around and punch the guy and hurt the team by getting a fifteen-yard penalty? Or do you stand up and say ‘okay, I can’t retaliate right now. I don’t need to accept it. But I’ve got to find a way to get back at this guy as I can in a very competitive way within the rules.’”

Gutelius also noted that there is a modern-day crisis with young men in the spiritual life.

“Football players in general, they have that Don Quixote internal sense of wanting to go fight against something. They’re ready to battle. No one today is pointing young men towards where the battlefield is. The battlefield is inside of each of us.”

Gutelius said that when young men learn about the battle of the interior life they can change themselves, change the team, create championships, and win at life.

Before his start to create a culture built upon philosophy, Gutelius questioned whether opening up about his passion for the faith was a good idea, because the team is not all Catholic.

“Can I be authentic with these players. Can I really let them know who I am? Or will it scare them away?”

However, Gutelius said that he was convicted about the priority of his faith. “If I hide that,” he said, “I’m doing a disservice to me, to the team, and to God.”

In addition to instructing his players on the virtues, he began a team Bible study and rosary before game days.

“Late into my first year there, I kind of really shared that I was Catholic. I think it was a Friday after a win, and I said ‘hey let’s pray a rosary this Friday.’ I said that and thought ‘Oh my gosh I sound like the crazy Catholic guy.’ But eight guys came. I mean how many college students do you know who want to go pray the rosary with their Catholic coach on a Friday night before a game?”

2021 team captain Brendan Webster said Gutelius has affected his faith tremendously over his past four years: “Starting from the first Mass I went to during my freshman year camp, to Bible study he led for players, to simply praying after each and every practice, he has shown me how to live life as a Catholic man who truly loves Jesus. He has influenced my faith life more than he probably even knows.”

“During the COVID-19 pandemic he has been the rock for our team and has had the strength to confront uncertainty with grace, and that truly seeped its way into every player and coach on our team,” Webster said.

CUA’s Athletic Director Dr. Sean Sullivan said that faith and character are central tenants in Gutelius’ life.

“In any sports related profession, so much of the message often comes in the form of what is said when instructing others,” Sullivan said. “Coach Gutelius goes beyond that; purposefully living a life of high character and thoughtful maturity himself while also expecting it from those he coaches.”

“It can be difficult for any developing student-athlete to recognize the critical nature of making the right decisions off the field when so much of their focus relates to how to excel on it,” Sullivan said. “However, Coach Gutelius consistently reinforces to his players how they must think beyond the immediate, the here-and-now, to position themselves through sound decision-making which will enable them to lead a life of virtue and of consequence.”

“I’m proud of the football program Coach Gutelius continues to build at Catholic University,” Catholic University President John Garvey told CNA. “He requires his players to be not only excellent football players, but also excellent people. That is what makes him and his program so essential to this university.”

Man charged with arson in connection with Mission San Gabriel fire

Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles visits the scene of the fire at San Gabriel mission, July 11, 2020 / Jon McCoy/Angelus News

Washington D.C., May 5, 2021 / 22:00 pm (CNA).

A California man was charged with arson Tuesday in connection with a fire that ravaged a historic mission church in Los Angeles County last July.

Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, a church founded by St. Junipero Serra in 1771, suffered a devastating fire during the early morning hours of July 11, 2020. The fire destroyed the church’s roof and interior. The alleged arsonist, 57 year-old John David Corey, was charged in a Los Angeles Criminal Court on Tuesday.

Corey now faces two felony counts of arson of an inhabited structure and one count each of arson during a state of emergency, first-degree residential burglary, and possession of flammable material, according to NBC Los Angeles. He was known at the mission and had a history of conflicts with mission staff, law enforcement sources told the Los Angeles Times.

According to the San Gabriel Fire Department, Corey had already been arrested and sentenced to three years in prison for an unrelated incident when investigators pegged him as a person of interest in the Mission San Gabriel case.

"After a thorough investigation, investigators determined that Corey was responsible for the fire at the Mission San Gabriel,” the fire department said in a statement. 

The mission was the fourth mission founded by St. Junípero Serra, a Franciscan priest who founded a series of missions across California. Serra helped to convert thousands of native Californians to Christianity, and taught them new agricultural technologies.

San Gabriel would go on to be one of the most successful and productive of all the 21 California missions, and in 1781 would form the core of the city of Los Angeles.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles, in a statement provided to CNA, called the mission “a historic cornerstone and spiritual heart of Los Angeles and the Catholic community.”

The mission’s pastor, Fr. John Molyneu, said at a May 4 press conference following the announcement of Corey’s indictment, “We pledge our continued cooperation with the District Attorney’s office as we seek justice tempered with mercy.” 

“Our community of faith at the Mission is close-knit and has been rocked by this incident. For many life-long parishioners, this fire has been a little death. But we are resurrection people, and look ahead to the future with a renewed sense of hope and purpose,” he said.

Corey’s possible motive for starting the fire has not yet been publicly announced. Anonymous law enforcement officials speaking to the LA Times said Corey was known to the mission and had quarreled with staff members in the past, and harbored anger toward the Catholic Church. 

Corey is set to be arraigned— have the charges read to him— on May 18. 

Father Molyneux thanked the local fire department and the detective assigned to the case for their work, and echoed the words of Christ in encouraging the mission community to “pray for those who persecute you.” 

The Los Angeles archdiocese similarly encouraged prayers for Corey “that he may know God’s mercy and love.”

The fire began around 4 a.m. on July 11, and destroyed the roof and interior of the 250-year-old structure. Local firefighters said they responded to an initial fire alarm at 4:24 a.m.. By the time they arrived, smoke and flames were visible from outside the church.

Eventually, 50 firefighters battled the four-alarm fire, according to the Los Angeles Times. Local fire department spokesman Captain Antonio Negrete called the damage “heartbreaking.”

Prior to the fire, much of the artwork in the church had been removed as part of an ongoing restoration. The mission’s 250-year jubilee celebration is planned for September 2021.

A historic painting of Our Lady of Sorrows, depicting the Virgin Mary in a somber, dark landscape, was the only piece of artwork remaining in the church that survived the fire.

Many of Serra’s missions form the cores of what are today the state’s biggest cities— such as San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

For Anthony Morales, tribal chief of the San Gabrielino Mission Indians and a parishioner of Mission San Gabriel, the damage caused by the fire was more than material.

“These are my roots,” Morales told Angelus News, holding back tears as he surveyed the scene last year hours after the fire had been contained.

“This is my church. All my ancestors are buried in the cemetery next door. Six thousand of my ancestors are buried on these grounds, and this is the church that they built. It’s just very devastating.”

The rebuilding effort at Mission San Gabriel is ongoing; currently the structure has a temporary wooden roof. 

Workers restoring the Mission have in the past year have made unexpected discoveries, such as walls painted with colorful designs that historians never knew existed, which were exposed under peeling layers of plaster. 

Workers also discovered previously unknown layers of old brick and slabs of stone mined from the San Gabriel Mountains under the mission’s wooden floors, which buckled under the weight of the firefighters’ water. 

The archdiocese said the mission’s newly designed roof is set to be finished by the end of August, ahead of the mission’s 250th anniversary on September 11th. 

“We are thankful for all of the people who have worked so earnestly in the Mission’s reconstruction,” the archdiocese concluded. 

Despite St. Serra’s record defending indigenous peoples, images of the saint have for years been focal points for protests and demonstrations across California. In 2020, numerous statues of the saint were torn down or vandalized by protestors.

Some California institutions, such as the University of San Diego, have put their statues of Serra in storage to protect them. Mission San Gabriel had put its images of Serra, including a bronze statue, into storage for this reason not long before the fire.

In Iowa, progress for pro-life constitutional amendment

Aykut Erdogdu/Shutterstock.

Des Moines, Iowa, May 5, 2021 / 21:01 pm (CNA).

Iowa lawmakers have laid the groundwork for a proposed state constitutional amendment to prevent recognition of abortion as a legal right, countering a state Supreme Court decision. The main questions now are whether the legislation will pass as soon as possible, and whether voters will back the amendment on a statewide ballot as early as 2024.

One pro-life group says it is important to pass the legislation during the current legislative year, which is expected to close soon.

“We’ve worked hard to educate Iowans and also advocate to our legislators that we feel very strongly in getting the Protect Life Amendment passed this session,” Maggie DeWitte, executive director of Iowans for Life, told the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

The Iowa Supreme Court found a “right to abortion” under the state’s constitution in 2018. That ruling struck down a 72-hour waiting period for abortion, on the grounds that “a woman’s right to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy is a fundamental right under the Iowa Constitution.” The proposed amendment would nullify the court’s finding.

DeWitte said the 2018 ruling was a “mistake” that was “even more extreme than Roe v. Wade,” the 1973 decision that mandated permissive abortion laws nationwide.

She said the amendment will allow Iowa voters and their elected representatives to make decisions about health and safety. Without the amendment, the state cannot prevent late-term abortions “even up to the point of birth.”

A proposed constitutional amendment must be approved by two consecutive legislative sessions before going to the ballot. The current legislative session will conclude in 2022.

The Iowa Catholic Conference has testified in support of the amendment, saying it would make the state constitution “abortion-neutral.”

“Without this change, if or when Roe v. Wade is struck down or federal law is modified, abortion will remain a fundamental right in Iowa,” the conference said in 2019. The state Supreme Court decision means strong scrutiny for “any regulation of abortion or efforts to restrict its public funding.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Steve Holt, R-Denison, said the proposal would pass either this year or next year but this would not affect when it goes on the ballot.

The House version of the amendment was written on the principle, “simpler is better,” Holt told the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

“To defend and protect unborn children, we the people of the State of Iowa declare that this Constitution does not recognize, grant, or secure a right to abortion or require the public funding of abortion,” said the proposed amendment.

The Senate’s version also speaks about protecting “mothers and unborn children from efforts to expand abortion even to the day of birth.” It says the constitution “shall not be construed” to recognize abortion as a right or to require public funding of abortions.

The Senate version was approved on a 30-17 party-line vote.

Senate President Jake Chapman, R-Adel, said the nature of the proposal as a constitutional amendment means “we need to be very careful about what we propose and get language right.”

A language compromise has been reached, according to Hold and Chapman.

Possible debate over the wording could include efforts to create constitutional protections for abortion in cases where the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest or to preserve the life of the mother, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reports.

DeWitte advocated for speedy passage for the amendment.

“It's better for us to get it passed this session so we can work on some other important pro-life and pro-family bills in the next legislative session,” she said.

Abortion backers were critical of the effort.

Jamie Burch Elliott, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood Advocates Iowa, said the proposed amendment is “laying the groundwork to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned.”

Elliott said that Planned Parenthood’s polling reports that only one-third of voters would vote for the amendment.

DeWitte said Iowans for Life’s polling reports that voters will favor the amendment when they understand it is “really about preventing unelected judges from forcing late-term abortion and taxpayer-funded abortion on Iowans.”

Reform may be coming to the chapter of St Peter's Basilica

Pope Francis prays the rosary before an icon of Our Lady of Help in St. Peter's Basilica May 1, 2021. / Daniel Ibanez/Vatican Pool.

Vatican City, May 5, 2021 / 20:19 pm (CNA).

That members of the chapter of St. Peter’s Basilica were prevented from participating in Pope Francis' rosary for the end of the pandemic has fueled speculations that the pope will reform both the chapter and the organization of St. Peter's Basilica.

The Chapter of St. Peter was established in 1043 by St. Leo IX. It was intended to guarantee a regular prayer in St. Peter and, in the earlier years, to assist the pope in managing the goods of St. Peter's patrimony.

The patrimony consists of several donations to the papacy, including real estate, in and outside Rome. According to a source who served as a member of the chapter, "it is complicated to give comprehensive figures of the patrimony. Management of an important chunk of it was already transferred to APSA."

The Chapter of St. Peter is chaired by the Archpriest of St. Peter's Basilica and is composed of him, the chapter's vicar, and 34 members. The members are chosen among the most remarkable personalities of the Catholic Church when they retire.

They are "professionals of prayer," according to Benedict XVI, who labeled them as such in 2007 during a private audience with the members of the chapter. The commitment to prayer is central in their activity. Until the middle of the 20th century, the chapter members had to be in the basilica on a daily basis to pray the hours, be in adoration, and serve in the liturgical celebrations.

Members of the chapter are now mainly involved on Sundays and feasts or in the commemoration of the Roman Pontiffs. They also take part in celebrations with the Pope in St. Peter's Basilica.

Some of them went to the Basilica May to participate in the rosary for the end of the pandemic presided by Pope Francis. The Italian newspaper Il Messaggero broke the news that the chapter members were denied access to the basilica.

Il Messaggero also stresses that the "members of the chapter seem to be Pope Francis' target" and adds that the Chapter of St. Peter is "one of those sectors the Pope wants to bring some order to."

According to a chapter source who spoke to CNA under condition of anonymity so as to speak freely, the rejection of the chapter members May 1 is not an indication of papal hostility against their members.

"They (the organizers) simply were not counting with their presence, and so there were no spots for them to sit," the source said.

Due to COVID restrictions, all the spots in the basilica are strictly regulated, and it is then harder to include people who are not on the list or who come unannounced.

But according to the same source, even if the episode was not linked to any perceived papal hostility to the chapter, its reform is underway.

The reform "will mostly deal on the role of the chapter members," the source told CNA, and explained that its members will keep their prayer duties in the basilica, and they will be more involved in liturgical celebrations. Since the Vatican has prohibited private celebrations at the basilica, chapter members will celebrate some of the authorized Masses.

The important changes, instead, will be coming on the financial side. The chapter members got a compensation for their services, funded directly with the revenue of St. Peter's patrimony. For some, this was a way to secure income to retired clerics, for others it was a contemporary form of sinecure. After the 2020 pandemic, Pope Francis cut their monthly salary. The members of the chapter were reimbursed for their service thanks to a solidarity fund set up by St. Peter's Basilica.

Most likely the rest of the real estate and goods belonging to St. Peter's patrimony will be transferred to APSA, which will be designed as a sort of Vatican central bank. At the end of the reform, all the Vatican investments will be centralized and managed by APSA.

The first dicastery transferring its funds to APSA has been the Secretariat of State. The process will also likely involve all the other Vatican dicasteries with their patrimony, such as the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Vatican City State Administration.

The reform of the Chapter of St. Peter will go along with a reform of the organization and schedule of St. Peter's Basilica. Pope Francis already decided to forbid private Masses. Mauro Cardinal Gambetti, the new archpriest, wants to go further and have only two Masses per day, in Italian, broadcast by the Vatican communications service.

According to the CNA source, "these reforms have generated expected turmoil among the chapter members," but “there is very little, if anything, (we) can do about it.”

Montreal archbishop appoints ombudsman to oversee abuse complaints

Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral in Montreal, Canada. Credit: Travis Wise via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Montreal, Canada, May 5, 2021 / 19:01 pm (CNA).

The Archdiocese of Montreal announced Wednesday the appointment of an independent ombudsman, Marie Christine Kirouac, to receive all complaints of abuse or inappropriate conduct within the archdiocese.

The appointment continues the implementation of recommendations set forth in the Capriolo Report released in November 2020.

“We have a responsibility to report to the ombudsman any circumstance of abuse,” said Archbishop Christian Lépine of Montreal May 5. “It is essential we honor our commitment and remain vigilant. The appointment of the first ombudsman and the implementation of these new procedures will better enable us to protect the faithful and the wider community.”

Kirouac, a lawyer with almost 30 years of service and extensive experience in crisis intervention, will oversee the follow-up in each case. She will also provide a detailed report about the types of complaints at least once per year, and will make the report available to the public.

“It is my role to ensure that no form of abuse or inappropriate behavior will be tolerated in the Catholic Church,” Kirouac said. “I will ensure that any person who contacts me has a listening ear.”

Complaints will be accepted 24 hours per day, seven days per week. Complaints will be heard irrespective of the victim’s age at the time of the reported act. If the complainant is a minor and the abuse is physical or sexual in nature, the ombudsman will inform the Direction de la Protection de la Jeunesse (DPJ, Department of Youth Protection) in addition to referring the complaint to the advisory committee.

Upon receiving a complaint, Kirouac will determine if the action constitutes abuse or inappropriate behavior. Any complaint determined to fall under the category of abuse—sexual, physical, psychological, spiritual or financial—will be referred to a newly formed advisory committee composed of five lay members, including one victim and four professionals with various areas of expertise.

Since its introduction in November 2020, more than 50 percent of the Capriolo Report’s recommendations have already been implemented. Additional procedures were implemented Wednesday, including the responsibilities of the ombudsman and the position of the advisory committee.

Authored by Pepita G. Capriolo, a retired Québec Superior Court Justice, the report includes 31 recommendations in the areas of responsibility, accountability, transparency, formation, archives, and support of victims. The remaining recommendations in the report are expected to be implemented by the end of 2021.

The report concerns former diocesan priest Brian Boucher, who was ordained a priest in 1996 and worked in 10 Montreal churches as far back as the early 1980s. In January 2019 he was convicted of sexual assault of a minor in one case, and pleaded guilty to sexual assault of another minor. He was later sentenced to eight years in prison.

Kirouac’s position as ombudsman began May 3 and will continue without a defined term limit. A team of individuals yet to be named will support Kirouac should the number of complaints necessitate additional personnel.

“We must dutifully intervene to prevent suffering,” Archbishop Lépine said. “All victims will be welcomed with compassion and receive care.”

Archbishop Cordileone after stabbing of Asian women: "we must stop hating one another"

Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Cordileone / Archdiocese of San Francisco

San Francisco, Calif., May 5, 2021 / 18:26 pm (CNA).

Most Reverend Salvatore Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco, called on local Catholics to "engage in prayer, adoration and fasting for an end to violence and hatred," after two Asian women were stabbed at a bus stop in downtown San Francisco on Tuesday at around 5:00 pm.

In a statement released to CNA, Archbishop Cordileone wrote, "It happened again. This time, two Asian women were stabbed on the streets of San Francisco in broad daylight. How can this be happening? Our beloved city is deteriorating. The Tenderloin is the center of homelessness and poverty. Solutions are going to require new and creative ideas, and a hard and honest look at some very painful realities." 

"It will not happen without us all uniting in deep love for our city and its people," the Archbishop also said. 

"We must stop hating one another. We must recognize in the other not an object of violence or hate, but a brother or sister made in the image and likeness of God. This is a big challenge for all of us. I ask San Francisco Catholics to engage in prayer, adoration and fasting for an end to violence and hatred. St. Francis, patron of San Francisco, pray for us," he concluded.

Both victims were transported to nearby hospitals, one of them, an 85-year-old woman, had to undergo surgery.

Patricia Lee, a witness who was working at a flower stand near the attack, told KGO-TV that the man who attacked the women “walked away like nothing happened, like Sunday morning.”

Two hours later, San Francisco police arrested 54-year-old Patrick Thompson, currently in police custody.

Upcoming Courage conference to focus on St. Joseph

St. Joseph and the Christ Child, by Guido Reni / Public domain

Washington D.C., May 5, 2021 / 18:00 pm (CNA).

The Catholic apostolate Courage International will be focusing its upcoming annual conference on St. Joseph, under the theme “St. Joseph: Model of Courageous Love.” 

Courage is an apostolate that provides pastoral support, prayer support, and fellowship for people who experience same-sex attraction. Its 34th annual conference will take place in July at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. 

“It is exciting that, by focusing our attention on Saint Joseph, our Courage and EnCourage apostolates will be united with the heart of the universal Church, which is celebrating the Year of Saint Joseph together in many ways,” said Fr. Philip Bochanski, executive director of Courage International, in an interview with CNA. 

“Saint Joseph is a model, an encouragement, and an intercessor for our members who strive to make a sincere gift of themselves and bear much fruit as disciples,” he said.

The July 15-18 conference will include talks on a variety of topics including pastoral ministry, spirituality, and ways to support family members and loved ones who experience same-sex attraction. Participants will be able attend daily Mass and Eucharistic Adoration, and will have opportunities to go to confession.

Commenting on this year’s theme - during the Year of St. Joseph - Bochanski noted that St. Joseph initially expected a “normal” marriage with the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“When he [Joseph] became more fully aware of his vocation, the purpose and plan for which he had been created,” Bochanski said, “he was willing to sacrifice the intimate sexual expression of love in his married life, in order to live out all the other responsibilities of being a husband with greater dedication and self-sacrifice.”

Bochanski said that Saint Joseph's integration and integrity allowed him to make a total gift of himself, to Mary, and ultimately to the plan of God. 

“This sacrifice bore fruit that he could never have foreseen, because it was in Joseph's home and in the heart of his family that God's promise of redemption was kept and the Savior entered into the world,” he said. 

He explained that chastity does not mean repressing human feelings and emotions, but rather requires understanding them in light of God's plan for marriage and sexuality, which always includes the complementarity of men and women. 

“Accepting and living this truth, which is rooted in their God-given identity and calling, involves sacrificing some intimate desires and relationships,” he said. 

Bochanski told CNA the result of this sacrifice is a full, fruitful and happy life where friendship, affection and charity can all flourish, because sexual desire is properly integrated. 

EnCourage is a sub-organization of Courage, and provides support for families and friends of persons who identify as LGBT. It aims to teach them how to reach out to their loved ones with compassion and understanding.

“For our EnCourage members, [St. Joseph] is a model of genuine fatherhood, and a reminder that to follow God’s plan for ourselves and our families, the most necessary thing is to stay close to, and focused on, Jesus and Mary,” Father Bochanski said in a press release. 

Delivering the keynote address at the conference will be Dr. Greg Bottaro, director of the CatholicPsych Institute and author of “Consecration to Jesus through St. Joseph: An Integrated Look At the Holy Family.”

Other speakers include Father Ricardo Pineda of the Fathers of Mercy; Mary Rice Hasson, director of the Catholic Women’s Forum; and Deacon Patrick Lappert, MD, a Courage chaplain. 

“Last year's virtual conference allowed us to connect with members and friends from around the world, and we don't want to lose those connections,” Bochanski told CNA. “Our conference this year will be a hybrid model -- conference talks and liturgies will be live-streamed for those who cannot attend in person for various reasons.”

Bochanski said that while Courage can't recreate all the benefits of the in-person conference in a virtual format, they are encouraging their members who will participate online to find ways to join with their local chapters, and watch the talks and discuss them together.

Courage will be holding a “Clergy Day” on July 14 for priests, deacons, and seminarians, which will include presentations on how to understand and present the Church’s teaching on same-sex attraction “with clarity and charity, and to provide authentic pastoral care,” the press release said.

Bochanski said he was looking forward to the participation of all including Courage chaplains, as  well as other clergy, religious, and laity who are engaged in pastoral ministry. He especially is excited to welcome a number of bishops, who will celebrate Mass and preach during the conference.  

“I am particularly grateful to Archbishop Naumann of Kansas City for welcoming us to his archdiocese, and agreeing to celebrate the opening Mass of the conference,” he said.

Bochanski noted that Courage is especially looking forward to the participation of their Spanish-speaking members from Europe and the Americas. “I am grateful that we have the ability to include them through simultaneous interpretation of keynote talks, as well as presentations, meetings and liturgies in Spanish,” he said.

Priest gave general absolution to Mexico City metro victims

Construction crews attend to the collapsed cars of the elevated metro line in Mexico City, May 4, 2021. Credit: Nick_John_07/Shutterstock.

Mexico City, Mexico, May 5, 2021 / 17:01 pm (CNA).

Fr. Juan Ortiz has said he managed to reach the scene of the accident on a metro overpass in Mexico shortly after it occurred Monday evening, giving general absolution to the victims.

“I got as close as I could, at a safe distance, I prayed for the dead, for the injured, and gave general absolution,” he told Desde la Fe, the weekly magazine of the Archdiocese of Mexico.

The elevated metro line, with two passenger cars, fell onto a road May 3. At least 24 people were killed, and more than 70 were injured.

Fr. Ortiz is pastor of Immaculate Conception parish in Zapotitlán, located near Tláhuac where the metro wreck occurred.

The Catholic Church allows priests to grant general absolution to the faithful who are “in imminent danger of death and even though a priest or priests are present, they have no time to hear the confession of each penitent.”

Fr. Ortiz said he was paying for his purchase at a nearby supermarket “when the power went out twice. I finished paying and when I left, the street was already closed and patrol cars were there.”

"In fewer than five minutes I came upon the scene," and "could see the dead were being taken out on stretchers.”

Fr. Ortiz said that everyone on the scene "felt hopeless and helpless knowing there were people trapped there; it was quite a spectacle, very shocking."

The priest lamented that the accident was foreseeable, since local residents had reported that the metro structures had been damaged by the earthquakes that struck Mexico in 2017.

Government officials, including president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, promised an in-depth investigation into the causes of the accident.

Bishop Andrés Vargas Peña of Xochimilco prayed for the deceased, injured, and their families and expressed his solidarity with them, offering Mass for the victims the following morning.