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Pope Francis issues restrictions on extraordinary form Masses in new motu proprio

Cardinal Raymond Burke gives the final blessing during the Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage Mass in Rome on Oct. 25, 2014. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Vatican City, Jul 16, 2021 / 04:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis issued a motu proprio on Friday restricting Masses celebrated in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.

In the motu proprio, issued July 16, the pope made sweeping changes to his predecessor Benedict XVI’s 2007 apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum, which acknowledged the right of all priests to say Mass using the Roman Missal of 1962, which is in Latin.

In an accompanying letter to bishops explaining his decision, Pope Francis wrote: “In defense of the unity of the Body of Christ, I am constrained to revoke the faculty granted by my Predecessors. The distorted use that has been made of this faculty is contrary to the intentions that led to granting the freedom to celebrate the Mass with the Missale Romanum [Roman Missal] of 1962.”

The motu proprio, known as Traditionis custodes (“Guardians of the tradition”) and dedicated to “the use of the Roman Liturgy prior to the reform of 1970,” contains eight articles that go into immediate effect.

The first describes liturgical books issued by popes Paul VI and John Paul II after the Second Vatican Council as “the unique expression of the lex orandi [the law of prayer] of the Roman Rite.”

The second states that it is a bishop’s “exclusive competence” to authorize the use of the 1962 Roman Missal in his diocese.

The third sets out the responsibilities of bishops whose dioceses already have one or more groups that offer Mass in the extraordinary form.

It requires bishops to determine that these groups do not deny the validity of Vatican II and the Magisterium.

Bishops are instructed to “designate one or more locations where the faithful adherents of these groups may gather for the eucharistic celebration (not however in the parochial churches and without the erection of new personal parishes).”

The third article also asks the local bishop “to establish at the designated locations the days on which eucharistic celebrations are permitted using the Roman Missal promulgated by St. John XXIII in 1962.”

The motu proprio says that Masses offered according to the 1962 Roman Missal -- which are celebrated in Church Latin -- are to use readings “proclaimed in the vernacular language, using translations of the Sacred Scripture approved for liturgical use by the respective episcopal conferences.”

It also calls for the establishment of a diocesan delegate selected by the bishop to oversee the pastoral care for these groups.

“This priest should have at heart not only the correct celebration of the liturgy, but also the pastoral and spiritual care of the faithful,” it states.

Bishops are also told to verify that the already established parishes “are effective for their spiritual growth and to determine whether or not to retain them,” as well as “to take care not to authorize the establishment of new groups.”

The fourth article says that priests ordained after July 16, 2021, who wish to offer the extraordinary form of the Mass will need to submit a formal request to the diocesan bishop who will then consult with the Apostolic See before granting authorization.

The fifth says that priests who already offer extraordinary form Masses should request authorization from their diocesan bishop to “continue to enjoy this faculty.”

Articles six and seven establish that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies for Apostolic Life exercise the authority of the Holy See in overseeing these provisions.

This means that institutes of consecrated life and societies of apostolic life that were established by Ecclesia Dei -- a pontifical commission created by John Paul II in 1988 and merged into the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in 2019 -- now fall under the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies for Apostolic Life.

The eighth and final article of the motu proprio declares that “previous norms, instructions, permissions, and customs that do not conform to the provisions of the present motu proprio are abrogated.”

In his letter to bishops, Pope Francis explained the reasons behind his decision to limit access to the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.

He said that the responses to a survey of bishops conducted by the CDF in 2020 “reveal a situation that preoccupies and saddens me, and persuades me of the need to intervene.”

Francis said that when his predecessors allowed the celebration of the Mass according to the form used before the reforms of Vatican II, they wanted to encourage unity within the Church.

“An opportunity offered by St. John Paul II and, with even greater magnanimity, by Benedict XVI, intended to recover the unity of an ecclesial body with diverse liturgical sensibilities, was exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that injure the Church, block her path, and expose her to the peril of division,” he wrote.

The pope said he was saddened that the celebration of the extraordinary form was now characterized by a rejection of the Second Vatican Council and its liturgical reforms. To doubt the Council, he said, is “to doubt the Holy Spirit himself who guides the Church.”

Pope Francis added that a final reason for his decision was a growing attitude of “rejection of the Church and her institutions in the name of what is called the ‘true Church.’”

He instructed bishops to be guided by two principles when implementing the new norms: “on the one hand, to provide for the good of those who are rooted in the previous form of celebration and need to return in due time to the Roman Rite promulgated by Sts. Paul VI and John Paul II, and, on the other hand, to discontinue the erection of new personal parishes tied more to the desire and wishes of individual priests than to the real need of the ‘holy People of God.’”

In a 2007 letter to the world’s bishops, Benedict XVI explained that Summorum Pontificum enabled priests to offer Mass according to the 1962 Missal as a “Forma extraordinaria,” or extraordinary form, of the Roman Rite.

He noted that the Missal published by Paul VI would remain the “Forma ordinaria,” or ordinary form, of the Rite.

Benedict XVI, who resigned as pope in 2013, insisted that the motu proprio did not detract from the liturgical reforms requested by the Second Vatican Council.

He also rejected suggestions that it would cause divisions within parish communities.

“This fear also strikes me as quite unfounded,” he wrote. “The use of the old Missal presupposes a certain degree of liturgical formation and some knowledge of the Latin language; neither of these is found very often.”

“Already from these concrete presuppositions, it is clearly seen that the new Missal will certainly remain the ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, not only on account of the juridical norms, but also because of the actual situation of the communities of the faithful.”

Rumors about possible restrictions on Summorum Pontificum spread at the end of May after Pope Francis held a closed-door question-and-answer session with the members of the Italian bishops’ conference gathered in Rome for their annual plenary assembly.

Speaking with the bishops, Francis hinted at new regulations, although he did not provide details, according to two bishops who attended the conference.

In June, Cardinal Joseph Zen, bishop emeritus of Hong Kong, described the development as “worrying news.”

He insisted that the extraordinary form was not divisive.

“On the contrary, it unites us to our brothers and sisters of all ages, to the saints and martyrs of all times, to those who have fought for their faith and who have found in it an inexhaustible spiritual nourishment,” he wrote in a blog post.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, who retired as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship in February, posted a series of comments on his Twitter account on July 8 defending Summorum Pontificum.

He wrote: “Following the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, despite difficulties and resistance, the Church embarked on a path of liturgical and spiritual reform, which, though slow, is irreversible.”

“Despite intransigent clerical attitudes in opposition to the venerable Latin-Gregorian liturgy, attitudes typical of the clericalism that Pope Francis has repeatedly denounced, a new generation of young people has emerged in the heart of the Church.”

“This generation is one of young families, who demonstrate that this liturgy has a future because it has a past, a history of holiness and beauty that cannot be erased or abolished overnight.”

The Vatican’s doctrinal congregation asked the world’s bishops last year to report on how Summorum Pontificum was being applied in their dioceses.

CDF prefect Cardinal Luis Ladaria wrote to the presidents of bishops’ conferences on March 7, 2020, asking them to distribute a nine-point questionnaire.

The CDF survey included questions such as “In your opinion, are there positive or negative aspects of the use of the extraordinary form?” and “How has the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum had an influence on the life of seminaries (the seminary of the diocese) and other formation houses?”

The questionnaire also asked whether the extraordinary form responds “to a true pastoral need” or was “promoted by a single priest.”

Bishops were asked to say whether they personally used the 1962 Missal and what advice they would offer about the extraordinary form.

In his cover letter, Cardinal Ladaria wrote: “Thirteen years after the publication of the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum issued by Pope Benedict XVI, His Holiness Pope Francis wishes to be informed about the current application of the aforementioned document.”

Ladaria asked bishops to send their responses by July 31, 2020.

In his 2007 letter, Benedict XVI had asked the world’s bishops “to send to the Holy See an account of your experiences, three years after this motu proprio has taken effect,” in 2010.

The Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei issued the 2011 instruction Universae Ecclesiae, clarifying aspects of Summorum Pontificum.

In March 2020, the CDF announced that it had issued two decrees giving new Eucharistic prefaces and provision for the optional celebration of more recently named saints in the extraordinary form.

The decree Quo magis provided seven new Eucharistic prefaces for the extraordinary form of the Mass, which may be used for particular occasions, such as votive Masses or the feast days of saints.

The second decree, Cum sanctissima, established a provision for the celebration of the third-class feasts of saints canonized after July 1960, whose memorials were established after the 1962 Roman Missal.

Vatican economy council meets in person to discuss investment policy

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the Vatican’s Council for the Economy. / Daniel Ibanez

Vatican City, Jul 15, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Members of the Vatican’s Council for the Economy met in person on Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the Holy See’s final balance for 2020 and its investment policy.

The July 14-15 meeting was the first time that the body has met face-to-face since Pope Francis nominated six women to the body overseeing Vatican finances and the work of the Secretariat for the Economy.

“The subject of the meeting was the approval of the final balance for 2020 of the Holy See, presented by [Fr. Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves] the Prefect of the SPE [Secretariat for the Economy], and a reflection on the Holy See’s investment policy, moderated by Dr. Eva Castillo Sanz,” said the Holy See in a July 15 statement.

Eva Castillo Sanz, a former president of Merrill Lynch Spain and Portugal, was one of the new members appointed in August 2020.

Previously, the members of the economy council, established by Pope Francis in 2014, had consisted of eight cardinals, six laymen, and a priest secretary.

The Council for the Economy met online in February to discuss the details of the annual budget for 2021.

The coronavirus crisis has increased the pressure on the Vatican’s already tight budget, with the Vatican Museums, a major source of income, forced to close for more than 24 weeks to prevent the spread of the virus.

Among those attending this week’s meeting in person were the council’s president Cardinal Reinhard Marx, its secretary, Msgr. Brian Ferme, as well as Cardinal Péter Erdő, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Cardinal Anders Arborelius, and Archbishop Giuseppe Petrocchi.

Also present were Charlotte Kreuter-Kirchhof, Eva Castillo Sanz, Marija Kolak, Alberto Minali, and María Concepción Osákar Garaicoechea.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Fr. Guerrero, and Auditor General Alessandro Cassinis Righini were also in attendance.

Connecting remotely from their home countries were Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer, Archbishop Gérald Lacroix, Leslie Jane Ferrar, and Ruth Kelly.

The Holy See press office said that Marx celebrated Mass for those present at the Vatican on the evening of July 14.

The Council for the Economy will hold its next assembly in September.

Vatican’s financial watchdog highlights ‘increasing trend’ in reports to Promoter of Justice

The Vatican flag. / Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

Vatican City, Jul 15, 2021 / 05:40 am (CNA).

The Vatican’s financial watchdog authority reported Thursday that it received 89 suspicious activity reports in 2020, 16 of which it forwarded to the Promoter of Justice for possible prosecution.

In a 52-page annual report, released July 15, the Supervisory and Financial Information Authority (ASIF) said that the figures underlined “an increasing trend” in the proportion of reports sent onwards compared to the number received.

“As regards financial intelligence, in 2020 the Authority received 89 suspicious activity reports (SARs), 85 of which from the supervised entity, 2 from public authorities, 1 from a non-profit organization (NPO), and 1 from another entity,” the report said.

“It forwarded 16 reports to the Office of the Promoter of Justice (OPJ), of which 10 were first reports and 6 supplementary ones. This confirms an increasing trend in the proportion of reports sent and SARs received, demonstrating a steady improvement in the quality of SARs.”

The watchdog authority previously reported that it received 64 suspicious activity reports in 2019, 15 of which it forwarded to the Promoter of Justice.

Its latest report said that in 2020, 49 requests for information were exchanged with other Vatican authorities concerning 124 subjects, compared to 24 requests in 2019.

“This represents an important increase compared with the previous year, which confirms the considerable synergies created between the institutions of the Holy See and the Vatican City State in the fight against criminal activities,” it said.

The annual report disclosed that the AIF exchanged 58 requests for information with foreign financial intelligence units concerning 196 subjects, along with 19 “spontaneous communications” about 104 subjects.

The 2020 report noted that Pope Francis approved sweeping changes to the watchdog authority in December.

The pope ratified new statutes, as well as approving a new name for the agency created by Benedict XVI in 2010 to oversee Vatican financial transactions.

The body, which ensures that the Vatican complies with international financial standards, changed its name from the Financial Intelligence Authority (AIF) to the Supervisory and Financial Information Authority (ASIF).

In the new report’s introduction, Giuseppe Schlitzer said that the agency’s activity was “particularly intense” in 2020.

“The staff, who had to work remotely during the most acute phases of the pandemic, worked in a spirit of service and showed remarkable ability to adapt to a very exceptional situation,” he wrote.

“In the year under review, the staffing level, which was insufficient at the start of the year, increased significantly from 9 to 13 full-time employees, a number more in line with the authority’s workload.”

The new report noted that Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering watchdog, carried out an on-site inspection of the Vatican in October 2020.

ASIF said that the latest Moneyval report, issued in June, gave the Vatican good effectiveness ratings. It presented charts suggesting that the Holy See/Vatican City State compared favorably with other jurisdictions in terms of its effectiveness in preventing and countering money laundering and terrorist financing.

“As a result of the assessment, the jurisdiction was placed in regular follow-up at the Moneyval Plenary, an outcome enjoyed by a limited number of countries, meaning that the next technical compliance assessment will take place in three years, and the next effectiveness assessment, with related on-site visit, in five years,” the report said.

The approval of ASIF’s new statutes in December marked the end of a turbulent year for the agency. At the start of 2020, the authority was still suspended from the Egmont Group, through which 164 financial intelligence authorities worldwide share information and coordinate their work.

The agency was suspended from the group on Nov. 13, 2019, after Vatican gendarmes raided the offices of the Secretariat of State and the AIF. This was followed by the abrupt resignation of René Brülhart, the body’s high-profile president, and the appointment of Carmelo Barbagallo as his replacement.

Two prominent figures, Marc Odendall and Juan Zarate, then resigned from the AIF’s board of directors. Odendall said at the time that the AIF had been effectively rendered “an empty shell” and that there was “no point” remaining involved in its work.

The Egmont Group reinstated the AIF on Jan. 22, 2020. In April, Schlitzer was appointed director of the agency, succeeding Tommaso Di Ruzza, one of five officials suspended after the raid.

During an inflight press conference in November 2019, Pope Francis criticized the AIF under Di Ruzza, saying that “it was AIF that did not control, it seems, the crimes of others. And therefore [it failed] in its duty of controls. I hope that they prove it is not so. Because there is, still, the presumption of innocence.”

The Vatican announced earlier this month that Brülhart and Di Ruzza were among 10 people facing trial over allegations of financial impropriety.

Vatican prosecutors charged Di Ruzza with embezzlement, abuse of office, and violation of confidentiality, and Brülhart with abuse of office.

Di Ruzza has asserted his innocence of the charges, as has Brülhart, who said that the trial would show “the truth about my innocence.”

Pope Francis returns to Vatican after colon surgery

Pope Francis returned to the Vatican July 14 after 11 days in hospital following colon surgery. / Pablo Esparza/CNA.

Vatican City, Jul 14, 2021 / 04:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis returned to the Vatican on Wednesday after spending 11 days in a Rome hospital to recover from colon surgery.

The Vatican said on July 14 that Pope Francis was discharged from Gemelli Hospital shortly after 10:30 a.m. Rome time and left the hospital to return to his Vatican residence by car.

Pope Francis visits the Basilica of St. Mary Major after being discharged from Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, July 14, 2021. / Vatican Media.
Pope Francis visits the Basilica of St. Mary Major after being discharged from Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, July 14, 2021. / Vatican Media.

On his way home, the pope stopped to pray at the Basilica of St. Mary Major. According to Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni, the pope visited the Marian icon Salus Populi Romani, before which he “expressed his gratitude for the success of his surgery and offered a prayer for all the sick, especially those he had met during his stay in hospital.”

The pope arrived at the Santa Marta guest house, where he lives, shortly before noon.

Pope Francis was hospitalized on July 4 for an operation to relieve severe stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis. The three-hour surgery included a left hemicolectomy, the removal of one side of the colon.

The Vatican has said that the pope is making “normal clinical progress” in his recovery.

While in hospital, he spent time reading, doing some work, walking in the corridors, and celebrating Mass in a private chapel.

On July 13, Francis made an afternoon visit to the Department of Pediatric Oncology on the 10th floor of the hospital.

The Vatican press office distributed photographs of the pope walking through the ward to applause from medical workers, as well as blessing children undergoing treatment.

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

During his hospitalization, Pope Francis also exchanged affectionate messages with the young patients in the nearby pediatric oncology and children’s neurosurgery wards.

Young cancer patients joined Pope Francis as he led the Sunday Angelus from a balcony on the 10th floor on July 11, in his first public outing since the operation.

“Among the many patients [Pope Francis] has met during these days, he addressed a special thought to those who are bedridden and cannot return home: May they live this time as an opportunity, even if experienced in pain, to open themselves with tenderness to their sick brother or sister in the next bed, with whom they share the same human frailty,” a Vatican spokesman said on July 13.

The pope’s hospital stay took place in a wing reserved for papal medical emergencies, in the same suite where St. John Paul II stayed for medical treatment at different points in his pontificate.

Pope Francis visits children on oncology ward of Rome hospital

Pope Francis blesses a child in the Department of Pediatric Oncology at the Gemelli Hospital in Rome, July 13, 2021. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Jul 13, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis on Tuesday met with children on the oncology ward of the Rome hospital where he is recovering after colon surgery.

The Holy See press office said that on July 13 the pope made an afternoon visit to the Department of Pediatric Oncology on the 10th floor of Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, where he is currently staying.

/ Vatican News.
/ Vatican News.

The press office distributed photographs of the pope walking through the ward to applause from medical workers, as well as blessing children undergoing treatment.

Pope Francis was hospitalized on July 4 for an operation to relieve severe stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis. The three-hour surgery included a left hemicolectomy, the removal of one side of the colon.

/ Vatican News.
/ Vatican News.

On July 12, the Vatican confirmed that the 84-year-old pope would remain at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital for “a few more days” before being discharged, “to optimize the medical and rehabilitation therapy.”

While in hospital, the pope has been staying in a wing reserved for papal medical emergencies, in the same suite where St. John Paul II stayed for medical treatment at different points in his pontificate.

/ Vatican News.
/ Vatican News.

During his hospitalization, Pope Francis has exchanged affectionate messages with the young patients in the nearby pediatric oncology and children’s neurosurgery wards.

Young cancer patients joined Pope Francis as he led the Sunday Angelus from a balcony on the 10th floor on July 11, in his first public outing since the operation.

/ Vatican News.
/ Vatican News.

“Among the many patients [Pope Francis] has met during these days, he addressed a special thought to those who are bedridden and cannot return home: May they live this time as an opportunity, even if experienced in pain, to open themselves with tenderness to their sick brother or sister in the next bed, with whom they share the same human frailty,” a Vatican spokesman said on July 13.

Pope Francis prays for more than 60 people killed in Iraq COVID ward fire

The fire-ravaged coronavirus isolation ward of al-Hussein Teaching Hospital in Nasiriyah, Iraq, July 13, 2021. / Asaad Niazi/AFP via Getty Images.

Vatican City, Jul 13, 2021 / 07:35 am (CNA).

The Vatican said on Tuesday that Pope Francis is praying for the more than 60 people killed in a fire in a coronavirus isolation ward at a hospital in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah.

The Vatican released a condolence telegram on July 13 as the pope continues to recover after a colon surgery at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital.

“His Holiness Pope Francis sends the assurance of his spiritual closeness to all affected by the tragic fire at the COVID isolation ward of the al-Hussein hospital in Nasiriyah,” said the telegram sent on the pope’s behalf by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

“Deeply saddened, he prays especially for those who have died and for the comfort of their families and friends who mourn their loss.”

Pope Francis visited Nasiriyah briefly during his historic visit to Iraq. He traveled to the city’s airport on March 6, between his landmark meeting with Iraq’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and his visit to the Plain of Ur, the birthplace of Abraham.

Iraqi medical officials told the Associated Press on July 13 that 64 people had so far died as a result of the fire at the al-Hussein Teaching Hospital, with more than 100 others injured.

The AP reported that the ward, containing 70 beds, opened three months ago.

The authorities have not announced the cause of the fire, which began on the night of July 12, but sources have told journalists that they believe it began with an oxygen cylinder explosion.

In April, more than 80 people were killed in a fire at a hospital in the capital Baghdad started by an exploding oxygen tank.

Pope Francis prayed for the victims after his Regina Coeli address on April 25.

“As of now, there are 82 people who have died,” he said. “Let us pray for all of them.”

Iraq, which has a population of 39 million people, has recorded more than 1.4 million cases of COVID-19 and over 17,000 deaths as of July 13, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

The papal telegram, addressed to Archbishop Mitja Leskovar, the apostolic nuncio in Iraq, concluded: “Upon the patients, staff, and caregivers [the pope] invokes God’s blessings of consolation, strength, and peace.”

Pope Francis names Illinois priest to lead Covington diocese in Kentucky

Bishop-elect John Iffert of Covington, Kentucky. / Courtesy photo.

Vatican City, Jul 13, 2021 / 06:00 am (CNA).

The Vatican announced Tuesday that Pope Francis appointed Illinois priest Msgr. John C. Iffert to be the next bishop of the Diocese of Covington, Kentucky.

Iffert, 53, will succeed Covington’s 10th bishop, Roger J. Foys, whose resignation was accepted July 13 by Pope Francis. Foys, who will turn 76 later this month, is retiring for age reasons.

The bishop-elect has served as vicar general and moderator of the curia in the Diocese of Belleville, in southern Illinois, since Oct. 1, 2020.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, welcomed Iffert’s appointment “with great joy.”

“Bishop-elect Iffert brings a wonderful background in ministry as a priest of the Diocese of Belleville where he has served as a parochial vicar, a pastor, and most recently as the Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia,” Kurtz said in a July 13 statement.

He added that Iffert “is known to have great pastoral heart as well as excellent pastoral experience in his more than two decades of service in the Diocese of Belleville.”

“The bishops of the Province of Louisville have a great fraternity, and together we welcome Bishop-elect Iffert. We promise him and Bishop Foys our prayerful support,” Kurtz stated.

Iffert grew up with two older sisters on a farm outside the small Illinois town of Du Quoin.

After high school, he studied political science and economics at Illinois State University. After graduation, he worked as an analyst in Illinois’ Bureau of the Budget.

He entered seminary in 1992 and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Belleville in 1997.

After serving as a parochial vicar and a pastor in the diocese, Iffert entered the Dominican novitiate with the Province of St. Albert the Great in 2003. He professed simple vows with the Order of Preachers the next year, which he renewed in 2006. He left the Dominicans and returned to the diocesan priesthood in 2008.

As part of his priestly service in Belleville, Iffert was a member of the College of Consultors, Priest Personnel Board, Diocesan Finance Council, and the planning committee for the Into My Vineyard program.

He has also been a part of the spiritual ministry team for the “Teens Encounter Christ” conference.

The bishop-elect was part of a group of community and church leaders who founded the Lifeboat Alliance Family Shelter in Mount Vernon, an ecumenical ministry that received the Governor’s Cup Award for its service to the local community.

At the time of Iffert’s appointment as vicar general of the Diocese of Belleville in 2020, Bishop Michael McGovern said that he “is an excellent priest and a dedicated pastor, and he is widely respected in our diocese.”

“With his strong faith and many talents, I believe he will be an excellent servant leader, and bring a pastor’s heart to the work of administration,” McGovern said in a letter to priests and laity.

The Diocese of Covington was created in 1853. It covers a territory of over 3,000 square miles in northern Kentucky and serves 89,000 Catholics.

Vatican: Pope Francis ‘continuing planned treatment’ on 10th day in hospital

Pope Francis greets staff at the Gemelli Hospital in Rome, July 11, 2021 / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Jul 13, 2021 / 04:50 am (CNA).

On the pope’s 10th day in the hospital following intestinal surgery, the Vatican said that Pope Francis’ ongoing medical treatment would allow him to “return to the Vatican as soon as possible.”

“The Holy Father is continuing his planned treatment and rehabilitation, which will allow him to return to the Vatican as soon as possible,” Matteo Bruni, the Holy See press office director, said on July 13.

Pope Francis was hospitalized on July 4 to undergo an operation to relieve severe stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis. The three-hour surgery included a left hemicolectomy, the removal of one side of the colon.

On July 12, the Vatican confirmed that the 84-year-old pope would remain at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital for “a few more days” before being discharged, “to optimize the medical and rehabilitation therapy.”

The Vatican spokesman had originally announced that the pope would spend around seven days hospitalized, “barring complications.”

During the pope’s recovery in the hospital, he has taken time to meet with young patients in the nearby oncology ward, as well as other patients and medical staff on the 10th floor of the Gemelli Hospital, where he is being treated.

Young cancer patients joined Pope Francis as he led the Sunday Angelus from a balcony on the 10th floor on July 11.

“Among the many patients [Pope Francis] has met during these days, he addressed a special thought to those who are bedridden and cannot return home: May they live this time as an opportunity, even if experienced in pain, to open themselves with tenderness to their sick brother or sister in the next bed, with whom they share the same human frailty,” Bruni said in the latest health update from the Vatican.

While in hospital, the pope has been staying in a wing reserved for papal medical emergencies, in the same suite where St. John Paul II stayed for medical treatments in different points of his pontificate.

This was Francis’ first major operation during his pontificate. In 2019, he had an outpatient surgery for cataracts and he occasionally suffers from flare-ups of sciatic pain.

“In these days of being hospitalized, I have experienced how important good healthcare is, accessible to all, as it is in Italy and in other countries,” Pope Francis said in his first public appearance after his surgery.

He also expressed his appreciation and encouragement to doctors, healthcare workers, and hospital staff.

“They work so hard,” the pope said.

Pope Francis: Late Congolese cardinal was ‘a man of justice, peace, and unity’

Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya. / Radio Okapi via Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0).

Vatican City, Jul 13, 2021 / 04:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis paid tribute on Tuesday to the late Congolese Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, describing him as “a man of justice, peace, and unity.”

The pope, who is currently recuperating in hospital after undergoing colon surgery, sent a condolence telegram on July 13 following the 81-year-old cardinal’s death on Sunday.

“Attentive to the needs of the faithful, filled with courage and determination, Cardinal Monsengwo dedicated his life as a priest and bishop to the inculturation of the faith and to the preferential option for the poor,” the pope said in the message sent to Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, Monsengwo’s successor as archbishop of Kinshasa.

“In this way, he embodied the prophetic mission of the Church. A man of justice, peace, and unity, he has been deeply involved in integral human development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

Monsengwo led the archdiocese of Kinshasa from 2008 until his retirement in 2018 at the age of 79. The archdiocese, which serves more than seven million Catholics, is based in the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The DRC is a central African country with a population of almost 87 million people, an estimated 35 million of whom are baptized Catholics.

The pope wrote: “Having learned with sadness of the death of Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, archbishop emeritus of Kinshasa, I send my deepest condolences to you and to his family, to the auxiliary bishops and to the faithful of the dioceses of Inongo, Kisangani, and Kinshasa, of which he was successively the pastor.”

“I ask the Father of all mercies to welcome in his peace and light this exegete, this man of science, this great spiritual man and this pastor intensely devoted to the service of the Church, wherever he was called.”

Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya was born on Oct. 7, 1939, in Mongobele, Mai-Ndombe Province. After beginning his priestly formation in Africa, he studied theology at the Pontifical Urban University in Rome. He was ordained as a priest of the diocese of Inongo, in western DRC, on Dec. 21, 1963.

After further studies at the Pontifical Biblical Institute of Rome and of Jerusalem, he taught Sacred Scripture at the theological faculty in Kinshasa and at John XXIII Major Seminary.

In 1980, at the age of 40, he was named an auxiliary bishop of Inongo. A year later, he was appointed an auxiliary of Kisangani archdiocese in northeastern DRC.

In 1984, he was elected president of the National Episcopal Conference of the Congo. Four years later, he was named archbishop of Kisangani.

In 1991, Monsengwo chaired the Sovereign National Conference, a body that created a framework for the country’s political transition from the rule of Mobutu Sese Seko, who had led the country then known as Zaire since 1965.

While the process was interrupted by efforts to oust Mobutu, resulting in a protracted civil war, Monsengwo led the Church’s peacemaking efforts through negotiations, leading to the Inter-Congolese Dialogue (2001-2003) that ultimately contributed to the end of civil strife.

Monsengwo was named archbishop of Kinshasa on Dec. 6, 2007, and became a cardinal on Nov. 20, 2010.

In 2012, he preached the Lenten spiritual exercises for the Roman Curia at the invitation of Pope Benedict XVI. In the same year, he was named as one of three presidents-delegate of the synod of bishops on the new evangelization. Monsengwo also took part in the family synods of 2014 and 2015.

In 2013, Pope Francis named him as a member of the Council of Cardinal Advisers, a body advising the pope on Church governance and the revision of the apostolic constitution on the Roman Curia.

Monsengwo was flown to France for medical treatment days before his death in Versailles, in the western suburbs of Paris, on July 11.

Local media report that the cardinal’s body will be repatriated to the DRC on July 19 and buried in Kinshasa’s Our Lady of the Congo Cathedral.

In his telegram, Pope Francis said: “Cardinal Monsengwo was a great and respected figure in the ecclesial, social and political life of the nation and was always committed to dialogue and reconciliation of his people. His contribution has been significant for the progress of the country.”

“A faithful and close collaborator in recent years, he has not ceased to make his contribution to the life of the universal Church.”

“As a token of comfort, I impart my apostolic blessing to you, to the auxiliary bishops, to the priests, to consecrated persons, to the family of the deceased cardinal and his loved ones, to the people of the diocese, and to all those who will take part in the celebration of the funeral.”

What’s behind a false rumor about Pope Francis resigning ‘in the next few hours’?

Pope Francis greets staff at the Gemelli Hospital in Rome, July 11, 2021. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Jul 12, 2021 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

Rumors started to fly around social media Monday claiming that Pope Francis was “likely” to resign from the papacy “in the next few hours.”

The pope is currently hospitalized after undergoing a surgery July 4 to remove part of his colon, fueling reports that health reasons could have prompted Francis to take this step.

In fact, there is no sign that Pope Francis intends to resign soon. And the confusing reports are probably explained by a mistranslation of Italian into English.

The initial social media reports of a pending papal resignation cited a July 12 post by the popular Italian Catholic news aggregator Il Sismografo.

In the post, the website’s editors commented on a video showing Pope Francis being pushed in a wheelchair in Rome’s Gemelli Hospital on Sunday, July 11, as he greeted medical workers and patients.

Some social media commentators quoted an out-of-context and poor English translation of the last sentence of the article.

The final sentence of the post, which was published at 9:22 a.m. Rome time, said, “meanwhile, rumors are coming from Gemelli about the likely discharge of the Pope in the next few hours.”

The Italian sentence used the word “dimissione,” which in context meant “discharge” or “release” from hospital.

The confusing part is that the same Italian word can also be translated to mean “resignation” in English.

Online A.I. translators like Google Translate do not have context for translations and are likely to give the most frequently or commonly used meaning of a word. Thus translating “dimissione” as “resignation.”

On July 5, the Vatican spokesman said that, barring unexpected complications, Pope Francis was expected to spend around seven days in hospital following his surgery, which would make his release to return home on Monday, July 12, a plausible rumor.

But shortly after noon Rome time, and a few hours after the Il Sismografo article was posted, Matteo Bruni said that the pope would be spending “a few more days” in hospital to continue his recovery.

There are several signs that Pope Francis is probably not thinking about resigning, not only in the coming hours, but in the coming days and months.

On Sunday, he was well enough to give his regular Angelus address from a balcony on the 10th floor of Gemelli Hospital, and though he spoke for a little less time than usual, he was able to stand, smile, and wave at the people gathered below.

Francis is also planning several trips in the coming months: first to Hungary and Slovakia in September and then Scotland in November.

While it is unlikely a papal resignation is imminent, that does not mean it is not possible in the future.

Pope Francis has before hinted at the possibility that he might resign, saying in 2015 that the Catholic Church should not have “leaders for life,” and noting in 2014 that Pope Benedict XVI’s 2013 resignation “cleared a path” for future papal resignations.

In a homily during one of his morning Masses in 2018, he asked Catholics to pray for priests, bishops, and the pope, who he said, must learn to leave their posts when it becomes necessary.

Francis noted that St. Paul, who was “compelled by the Holy Spirit” to leave Ephesus and journey to Jerusalem, “shows us the pathway for every bishop when it’s time to take his leave and step down.”

“When I read this, I think about myself,” Pope Francis said, “because I am a bishop and I must take my leave and step down.”