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Pope Francis will stay longer in hospital, says Vatican

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

Vatican City, Jul 12, 2021 / 04:50 am (CNA).

Pope Francis will stay longer in hospital to recover from a surgery on his colon, the Vatican said on Monday.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said on July 12 that the pope would remain at Rome’s Gemelli Hospital for “a few more days” before being discharged, “to optimize the medical and rehabilitation therapy.”

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

Francis was originally expected to stay around seven days, barring complications.

Bruni said that the pope spent a “calm day” yesterday and that he offered Mass again in the private chapel of his hospital suite.

Pope Francis was hospitalized on July 4 to undergo an operation to relieve stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis, a common condition that involves the formation of small bulges or sacs on the wall of the colon.

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

On July 11, Pope Francis led the Sunday Angelus from a balcony on the 10th floor of the Gemelli Hospital, where his operation and recovery are taking place.

“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.

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

Young patients stood beside Francis and waved as he delivered his address.

“And let us pray for all the sick. Here are some friends who are sick children,” he said, gesturing to the children next to him.

Bruni said on July 12 that, “before the recitation of the Angelus, [Pope Francis] wished to meet some young patients from the nearby oncology ward with their families who, subsequently, accompanied him to the terrace on the 10th floor on the occasion of the Marian prayer.”

“At the end, he greeted the hospitalized patients on the floor, chatting briefly with the medical and nursing staff,” the Vatican spokesman added.

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

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 various medical treatments during his pontificate.

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

According to Bruni, Pope Francis reflected on the victories of the Argentine and Italian national soccer teams.

Argentina triumphed over Brazil in the Copa America and Italy beat England to win Euro 2020 on July 11.

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

“His Holiness,” the spokesman said, “dwelt on the meaning of sport and its values, and on that sporting ability to be able to accept any result, even defeat: ‘Only in this way, faced with the difficulties of life, can we always get involved, fighting without giving up, with hope and trust,’” the pope said.

A 10-person medical team was involved in Francis’ surgery on July 4, which was carried out under general anesthesia, lasted about three hours, and included a left hemicolectomy, the removal of one side of the colon.

/ Vatican Media.
/ Vatican Media.

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.

“At this particular moment, [Pope Francis] looks toward all those who suffer, expressing his closeness to the sick, especially those most in need of care,” Bruni said in one of the Holy See’s daily health bulletins.

Pope Francis prays the Angelus from his hospital balcony

Pope Francis delivers the Angelus address from Gemelli hospital on July 11, 2011. / Pablo Esparza/CNA

Rome, Italy, Jul 11, 2021 / 05:45 am (CNA).

In his first public appearance since having an intestinal surgery, Pope Francis prayed the Angelus from the balcony of his hospital on Sunday and delivered a message urging access to good healthcare for everyone.

“In these days of being hospitalized, I have experienced how important good health care is, accessible to all, as it is in Italy and in other countries,” Pope Francis said July 11.

“A free healthcare system that assures good service, accessible to everyone. This precious benefit must not be lost. It needs to be kept. And for this we all need to be committed, because it serves everyone and requires everyone’s contribution.”

The pope spoke while standing beside young patients from Rome’s Gemelli University Hospital where he has been recovering for one week after an intestinal operation in which part of his colon was removed.

Pope Francis said that even when Catholic hospitals face economic difficulties, it is vital to remember that “the Church’s vocation is not to have money, but to serve, and service is always free.”

“Don’t forget this: Save free institutions,” the pope said.

Doctors and nurses stood together with a group of pilgrims gathered outside in the courtyard under the hospital window. People waved flags and banners, and some religious sisters sang hymns as they awaited the pope’s arrival.

Medical staff watch the pope speak from a balcony of Gemelli hospital on July 11, 2011. / Pablo Esparza/CNA
Medical staff watch the pope speak from a balcony of Gemelli hospital on July 11, 2011. / Pablo Esparza/CNA

“I would like to express my appreciation and my encouragement to the doctors and all healthcare workers and hospital staff at this hospital and other hospitals. They work so hard,” the pope said.

Young patients stood beside the pope and waved as he delivered his Angelus address.

“And let us pray for all the sick. Here are some friends who are sick children,” the pope said gesturing to the children next to him.

During the pope’s week-long hospital stay, Francis exchanged affectionate messages with the young patients in the nearby pediatric oncology and children’s neurosurgery wards.

“Why do children suffer? Why children suffer is a question that touches the heart," the pope said.

"Accompany them with prayer, and pray for all the sick, especially those in more difficult conditions. May no one be left alone. May everyone receive the anointing of listening, closeness and care. Let us ask this through the intercession of Mary, our Mother, Health of the Sick."

Pope Francis was hospitalized on July 4 to undergo an operation to relieve stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis, a common condition that involves the formation of small bulges or sacs on the wall of the colon.

The Vatican confirmed earlier this week that the 84-year-old pope had suffered a “severe” narrowing of the colon.

A 10-person medical team was involved in Francis’ surgery, which was carried out under general anesthesia, lasted about three hours and included a left hemicolectomy, the removal of one side of the colon.

The Vatican spokesman said July 5 that the pope was expected to spend seven days recovering in the hospital, “barring complications.”

Pope Francis has been recovering on the 10th floor of the sprawling polyclinic in a wing reserved for papal medical emergencies.

It is the same room where John Paul II stayed during many of his hospital treatments, including for a colon surgery in 1992 and his hospitalization after being shot in an assassination attempt in 1981.

Pope Francis has stayed in the same hospital room where St. John Paul II was treated. / Pablo Esparza/CNA
Pope Francis has stayed in the same hospital room where St. John Paul II was treated. / Pablo Esparza/CNA

This is 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.

After praying the Angelus with the crowd, the pope said that he has prayed for the people of Haiti after their president was assassinated on July 7.

“I join in the heartfelt appeal of the country's Bishops to ‘lay down your arms, choose life, choose to live together fraternally in the interest of all and in the interest of Haiti,’” he said.

“I am close to the dear Haitian people; I hope that the spiral of violence will end and the nation will be able to resume its journey towards a future of peace and harmony.”

Speaking from the hospital balcony, the pope also thanked everyone who has prayed for him during his hospitalization.

A crowd gathered outside Gemelli hospital as Pope Francis delivered the Angelus address on July 11, 2011. / Pablo Esparza/CNA
A crowd gathered outside Gemelli hospital as Pope Francis delivered the Angelus address on July 11, 2011. / Pablo Esparza/CNA

“I have felt your closeness and the support of your prayers. Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” he said.

Pope Francis reflected on this Sunday’s Scripture reading from chapter six of the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus’ disciples “anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them.”

He said: “This ‘oil’ makes me think of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, which gives comfort to spirit and body. But this ‘oil’ is also listening, the closeness, the care, the tenderness of those who take care of the sick person: it is like a caress that makes you feel better, soothes your pain and cheers you up.”

“Sooner or later all of us, all of us, need this ‘anointing’ of closeness and tenderness, and we can all give it to someone else, with a visit, a phone call, a hand outstretched to someone who needs help.”

Pope Francis and children in hospital exchange greetings

A get well card for Pope Francis from Giulia, a girl treated in Bambino Gesu Hospital. / Vatican Media

Rome, Italy, Jul 10, 2021 / 05:00 am (CNA).

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

The pope, who has been recovering from intestinal surgery in Gemelli University Hospital this week, also received handwritten get well cards from children staying in other hospitals in Rome.

“Dear Pope Francis, feel my prayer like I felt yours when I was sick,” wrote a girl named Giulia, who has undergone treatment at the Vatican-owned Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital.

Below the message, Giulia drew a picture of her holding Pope Francis’ hand while he is in a hospital bed.

Another card from children in the Gemelli polyclinic had a colored pencil drawing of the pope and inside the message said: “Dear Pope Francis, we know that you are not very well and that you are now in the same hospital as us. Even if we cannot see each other, we send you a strong hug and we wish you to get well soon.”

Card for Pope Francis from Children in Gemelli Hospital July 2021 / Vatican Media
Card for Pope Francis from Children in Gemelli Hospital July 2021 / Vatican Media

Pope Francis was hospitalized on July 4 to undergo an operation to relieve stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis, a common condition that involves the formation of small bulges or sacs on the wall of the colon.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said July 5 that the pope was expected to spend seven days recovering in the hospital, “barring complications.”

“At this particular moment, [Pope Francis] looks toward all those who suffer, expressing his closeness to the sick, especially those most in need of care,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in one of the Holy See’s daily health bulletins.

In the latest health update released July 10, the Vatican said that the pope’s clinical progress is as “expected” and that “his blood tests are satisfactory.”

“He is gradually resuming work and continues to stroll in the corridor of the apartment,” Bruni said.

“In the afternoon, he celebrated Holy Mass in the private chapel and in the evening he dined with those who have been assisting him during these days.”

A 10-person medical team was involved in Francis’ surgery, which was carried out under general anesthesia, lasted about three hours and included a left hemicolectomy, the removal of one side of the colon.

This is 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.

The Vatican has announced that Pope Francis will lead the noon Angelus prayer from his hospital room on Sunday.

/ Courtney Mares/CNA.
/ Courtney Mares/CNA.

Pope Francis is staying on the 10th floor of the Gemelli polyclinic in a wing reserved for papal medical emergencies.

The Catholic hospital and medical school has treated other popes and Catholic figures, including John Paul II after he was shot in an assassination attempt and Mother Teresa, who was treated in the clinic’s cardiology department.

“The Holy Father, experiencing first-hand the human dedication of the medical and health personnel assisting him, has addressed a special thought to all those who with care and compassion choose the face of suffering, engaging in a personal relationship with the sick, especially the most fragile and vulnerable,” the Vatican spokesman said.

Could Hungary find an unexpected ally in the Holy See?

The Hungarian Parliament Building in Budapest. / Andrew Shiva/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Vatican City, Jul 10, 2021 / 02:00 am (CNA).

Under fire for a new law touching on homosexuality and threatened with sanctions by the European Commission, Hungary might find an unexpected ally in the Holy See.

For Hungary, the alliance with the Holy See could repay the country for Pope Francis’ speedy trip to Budapest. The pope will go there on Sept. 12, celebrating the final Mass of the International Eucharistic Congress and then leaving for a three-day pastoral visit to Slovakia. When he announced the trip after last Sunday’s Angelus, the pope did not even describe his journey to Budapest as a pastoral visit.

Although there is a clear divide between Pope Francis’ views and the policies of the Hungarian government, especially on the issue of migration, Hungary can potentially serve as an ally with the Holy See in promoting some values.

Western media describe the country’s new law as an “anti-LGBT bill.” But according to the Hungarian Conservative website, “the main body of the law is made up of a set of strict, yet quite understandable provisions with a goal of deterring would-be sexual predators from committing offenses by simply increasing the severity of the legal punishment such a person would need to face.”

The magazine added that “the length of possible prison sentences for child molestation and possession of child pornography has also grown considerably, and in some specific cases (with violence involved), the law excluded the possibility of parole.”

But the Hungarian anti-pedophilia bill also bans the portrayal of homosexuality and gender reassignment in school education materials and television programs for under-18s.

“It basically means displaying the ‘PG-18’ sign on their screen,” the Hungarian Conservative wrote.

Critics of the law argue that it conflates pedophilia and homosexuality. Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, took the strongest stance, saying: “Homosexuality is equated with pornography. This legislation uses the protection of children as an excuse to discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation. It is a disgrace.”

She also said that the Commission would start an infringement procedure if Hungary did not withdraw the law, which went into effect on July 7.

Von der Leyen has also criticized Poland over the introduction of “LGBT-free zones” in a number of towns.

Poland was also targeted after the country’s constitutional tribunal ruled that eugenic abortion was unconstitutional. The ruling, made in October 2020, came into force in January.

The European Parliament, the EU’s law-making body, passed a resolution in November 2020 lamenting what it called a “de facto ban on the right to abortion in Poland.”

The Holy See is facing similar criticisms in Italy amid a heated discussion around the “DDL Zan,” a bill named after the Italian MP Alessandro Zan, which would include transphobic, homophobic, and anti-LGBT acts among hate crimes.

The bill seeks to establish May 17 as a national day against homophobia and stresses that schools must commit to activities aimed at “promoting a culture of respect and inclusion and fighting prejudices” against gay and transgender persons.

On June 17, the Holy See confidentially delivered a “note verbale” to the Italian Ministry for the Foreign Affairs, lamenting that some of the bill's contents would harm the principles of the Italy-Holy See concordat.

Signed in 1929 and revised in 1984, the concordat commits the Italian government to abstaining from regulations that might threaten the Church’s freedoms.

In particular, the Holy See argued that the DDL Zan harms freedom of expression and freedom of education since it does not imply any exemption for Catholic schools from celebrating the national day against homophobia, thus mandating the schools to hold activities that they consider to be against their educational project.

Since the “note verbale” was leaked, the Holy See has faced allegations of interference on Italian state issues by supporters of the bill. As a result, the Holy See is now seeking support in backing its initiative, which is aimed at defending freedom of expression.

According to sources in the Vatican Secretariat of State, the Holy See would appreciate support on the issues raised by the DDL Zan from countries that share the Holy See’s views.

The sources also explained to CNA that Holy See diplomacy had an informal approach with these countries to establish a diplomatic alliance on ethical issues. The source said that the casual approach concretely took place with two countries under fire for their views. The hidden reference was to Hungary and Poland.

In line with its usual custom, the Holy See will not take any public position on the Hungarian law, nor will it defend Polish constitutional tribunal ruling: these are internal issues of states.

But it is clear to the Holy See that it is fighting the same battle as Hungary, Poland, and certain other Central and Eastern European countries in the EU. The issues at stake are freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, and the fight against the so-called new rights, aimed at imposing gender ideology and “sexual and reproductive health rights” on member states. This trend was evident with the recent approval of the so-called Matić Report by the European Parliament.

If we are looking for an official Holy See statement, it is unlikely to appear. Instead, though, the Holy See will informally support and seek the support of any country that would share its views. This is, in the end, the Holy See’s realpolitik.

Pope Francis says Christ is an example for South Sudan’s leaders as nation marks 10th anniversary

Pope Francis greets South Sudanese president Salva Kiir at the Vatican, April 11, 2019. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Jul 9, 2021 / 07:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis and two other Christian leaders have sent a message to the political leaders of South Sudan on the 10th anniversary of the country’s independence.

In the July 9 message, they said that “much more needs to be done in South Sudan to shape a nation that reflects God’s kingdom, in which the dignity of all is respected and all are reconciled.”

“This may require personal sacrifice from you as leaders -- Christ’s own example of leadership shows this powerfully -- and today we wish you to know that we stand alongside you as you look to the future and seek to discern afresh how best to serve all the people of South Sudan,” the letter said.

South Sudan, a landlocked country of 11 million people in east-central Africa, gained independence from the Republic of the Sudan following a referendum in January 2011.

There are significant numbers of Catholics and Anglicans in the country, as well as members of the Presbyterian Church in South Sudan.

The message, which was signed by Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and Church of Scotland moderator Jim Wallace, noted that in a letter sent at Christmas, they had prayed for greater trust among South Sudanese leaders, and encouraged them to be more generous in service to their people.

“Since then, we have been glad to see some small progress,” they added. “Sadly, your people continue to live in fear and uncertainty, and lack confidence that their nation can indeed deliver the ‘justice, liberty and prosperity’ celebrated in your national anthem.”

The letter also recalled the April 2019 meeting at the Vatican between political and religious leaders of South Sudan.

The Vatican-hosted “spiritual retreat” for the South Sudanese leaders brought together President Salva Kiir Mayardit and the then opposition leader (and now Vice President) Riek Machar following a five-year civil war that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

On that occasion, Pope Francis encouraged the leaders to “seek what unites you, beginning with the fact that you belong to one and the same people, and to overcome all that divides you.”

The pope told them that he was praying for them to become peacemakers, who “build peace through dialogue, negotiation, and forgiveness.”

In the July 9 message, Pope Francis, Welby, and Wallace noted that “weighty promises” were made during the 2019 retreat.

“We pray that those promises will shape your actions, so that it will become possible for us to visit and celebrate with you and your people in person, honoring your contributions to a nation that fulfills the hopes of July 9, 2011,” they said, referring to the day the country was founded.

The three leaders invoked God’s blessings upon the politicians and all the people of South Sudan.

“Your nation is blessed with immense potential,” the message said, “and we encourage you to make even greater efforts to enable your people to enjoy the full fruits of independence.”

Caritas Internationalis also released a statement for South Sudan’s independence anniversary.

Quoting Aloysius John, the organization’s secretary general, the statement said that “the 10th anniversary of independence could be a starting point for a new South Sudan moving towards political stability, ensuring integral human development through community-based development activities put in place by civil society organizations.”

“But for this to happen, there is a need for strong support from the international community,” it said.

Gabriel Yai, the director of Caritas South Sudan, said that a peace agreement has been signed and supported by the major parties, the armies have been combined and are being trained to form a national army, and the state council and legislative councils have been formed and members of parliament sworn in.

“This is the golden opportunity for the international community to help in nation-building,” Yai underlined. “Our country is more than ever in need of international political support to consolidate the political emancipation of leaders and to build a state army that will protect the people.”

According to the statement, “the Caritas Confederation has accompanied the peace process during these 10 years, which were unfortunately deeply marked by serious conflicts.”

The Catholic charitable organization has both helped people be able to return to the country and improved the living conditions of those living in poverty there.

“With a network of several Caritas member organizations helping Caritas South Sudan, a vast emergency and rehabilitation program was put in place in the seven dioceses to respond to the needs of the poorest,” it said.

The Catholic Church and Caritas were at the forefront of helping internally displaced people, and during the war, Caritas undertook disaster response activities all over the country, “without any distinction of tribal belongingness or other differences,” Yai said.

Pope Francis to lead Sunday Angelus from hospital after intestinal surgery

Pope Francis gives an Angelus address from the Apostolic Palace. Credit: Vatican Media/CNA.

Vatican City, Jul 9, 2021 / 04:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis will lead the Angelus from his hospital room on Sunday as he recovers from intestinal surgery, the Vatican said.

The pope is at Rome’s Gemelli University Hospital this week after undergoing a July 4 operation to remove part of his colon.

His hospital room is on the 10th floor of the sprawling polyclinic in a wing reserved for papal medical emergencies. The pope’s medical suite can be identified from the street by its five large windows covered by white blinds.

It is the same room where John Paul II stayed during many of his hospital treatments, including for a colon surgery in 1992 and his hospitalization after being shot in an assassination attempt in 1981.

John Paul II famously delivered his Sunday Angelus address from the hospital window.

Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, pictured on July 5, 2021, as Pope Francis convalesces after a surgery. / Courtney Mares/CNA.
Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, pictured on July 5, 2021, as Pope Francis convalesces after a surgery. / Courtney Mares/CNA.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said July 9 that Pope Francis was progressing normally in his recovery and had resumed his work from the hospital, alternating it with reading.

The pope was also able to celebrate Mass in the chapel of his private hospital room in the afternoon on July 8, in the presence of those assisting him during his hospitalization.

“The Holy Father gives thanks for the many messages of affection and closeness that he receives daily and asks that we continue to pray for him,” Bruni said.

The Vatican said that Pope Francis underwent a CT scan of his chest and abdomen on the morning of July 8, after temporarily running a fever the night before.

Bruni said that no problems were uncovered by the scans. He also said the pope was able to move and eat unassisted, and was no longer in need of intravenous treatment.

The July 9 Vatican statement said that the pope does not have a fever.

During his hospitalization, Pope Francis sent an affectionate message to the young patients in the nearby pediatric oncology and children’s neurosurgery wards, according to the Vatican.

The children returned the pope’s greeting with their own handwritten card, according to Vatican News.

The front of the paper had a colored pencil drawing of Pope Francis and inside the message said: “Dear Pope Francis, we know that you are not very well and that you are now in the same hospital as us. Even if we cannot see each other, we send you a strong hug and we wish you to get well soon.”

A girl named Giulia, who is hospitalized at the Vatican-owned Bambino Gesù Pediatric Hospital, also sent Pope Francis a greeting. On a picture of her holding his hand while he is in a hospital bed, she wrote: “Dear Pope Francis, feel my prayer like I felt yours when I was sick.”

The Vatican confirmed earlier this week that the 84-year-old pope had suffered a “severe” narrowing of the colon.

Bruni said that examinations showed that Pope Francis had experienced “severe diverticular stenosis [narrowing] with signs of sclerosing [hardening] diverticulitis.”

Pope Francis was hospitalized on July 4 to undergo an operation to relieve stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis, a common condition that involves the formation of small bulges or sacs on the wall of the colon.

A 10-person medical team was involved in Francis’ surgery, which was carried out under general anesthesia, lasted about three hours and included a left hemicolectomy, the removal of one side of the colon.

The Vatican spokesman said July 5 that the pope was expected to spend seven days recovering in the hospital, “barring complications.”

This is 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.

Pope Francis offers condolences after ‘heinous assassination’ of Haiti’s president

Pope Francis listens to Haitian President Jovenel Moïse during a private audience on Jan. 26, 2018 at the Vatican. / Alberto Pizzoli/AFP via Getty Images.

Vatican City, Jul 8, 2021 / 08:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has offered his condolences to the Haitian people after their President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in his home Wednesday by a group of gunmen.

“Hearing the news of the heinous assassination … His Holiness Pope Francis offers his condolences to the Haitian people and to his wife, also seriously injured, whose life he commends to God,” said a telegram sent on the pope’s behalf on July 8.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin sent the telegram to the Apostolic Nunciature in Haiti amid the political void facing the poorest country in the Americas after the assassination.

Moïse was shot dead and his wife injured when gunmen opened fire on their private residence in the capital, Port-au-Prince, on July 7. Moïse was 54 years old.

“Praying to the Father of mercy for the repose of the soul of the deceased, the Holy Father expresses his sadness and condemns all forms of violence as a means of resolving crises and conflicts,” the papal telegram said.

“He wishes for the dear Haitian people a future of fraternal harmony, solidarity, and prosperity. As a sign of comfort, he invokes the abundance of divine blessings on Haiti and all its inhabitants.”

Pope Francis received Moïse in a private audience on Jan. 26, 2018. The two men discussed Haiti’s social problems, including severe poverty. 

Haitian police said that four of the suspected gunmen were killed and two others arrested late on July 7 after the suspects held three police officers hostage.

The Catholic bishops of Haiti were “stunned” by the news of the assassination, according to a statement by the Haitian bishops’ conference.

Archbishop Launay Saturné of Cap-Haïtien said that the bishops “deplore and condemn this inadmissible and revolting murder.”

He said that the assassination “marks a regrettable turning point” in the history of the country, reported the French section of Vatican News.

The bishops’ conference president added that the spiral of violence “will never help our country to get out of this political impasse.”

He said that the solution was “dialogue, consensus, and the spirit of compromise for the best interests of the nation, for the common good of the country.”

Haiti has been battling a spike of gang violence and kidnappings for ransom in recent months.

The Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince said in a statement in April that gang violence had reached “unprecedented” levels in the country.

“For some time now, we have been witnessing the descent into hell of Haitian society,” the archdiocese said, according to AFP.

A criminal gang in Haiti calling itself “400 Mazowo” kidnapped 10 Catholics, including priests and nuns, on April 11. The kidnap victims were all eventually released weeks later after the Catholic Church openly criticized the government’s “inaction,” and called for all Catholic schools and institutions -- except hospitals and clinics -- to close in protest.

The strike led President Moise to announce a reshuffling of the government, including the resignation of the prime minister, Joseph Jouthe.

Archbishop Saturné invited Haitians on July 7 to “go beyond their personal pride and their group interests” in favor of the common good, and entrusted Haiti to its patron saint, Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

“Lay down the weapons! Go for life! Finally, choose fraternal living together in the interest of all and in the interest of Haiti,” he said.

Pope Francis names Jesuit cardinal to key synod on synodality position

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, Archbishop of Luxembourg, at the Vatican, Oct. 5, 2019.

Vatican City, Jul 8, 2021 / 06:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Thursday named the Jesuit Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich as the relator general of the 2023 synod on synodality.

Hollerich, the president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), will help to oversee the gathering of the world’s bishops in Rome.

The 62-year-old cardinal has served as archbishop of Luxembourg since 2011. His archdiocese covers the whole Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, one of Europe’s smallest countries, bordering Belgium, France, and Germany.

He thanked Pope Francis for the new appointment on July 8 via his Twitter account.

As relator general, Hollerich will take part in the meetings of the Ordinary Council of Preparation for the upcoming synod, formally known as the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

Hollerich will be expected to present a report at the start of the assembly in October 2023, introducing the theme of synodality. He will also outline the synod’s working document and the points that participants are due to discuss.

He will also preside over the preparation of the synod’s final document, which is submitted to participants for approval.

The rules governing synods say that, “if circumstances so indicate, the relator general presents a summary of the topics that emerge during the synodal discussions, as well as clarifying certain points and providing information on the elaboration of the final document.”

His role ceases at the dissolution of the assembly.

A nomination as relator general is seen as a mark of papal esteem. The relator general at the 2019 Amazon synod was the Brazilian Cardinal Cláudio Hummes.

At the 2018 youth synod, the post was held by another Brazilian, Cardinal Sérgio da Rocha. The relator general of the 2014-2015 family synods was Hungarian Cardinal Péter Erdő.

The Vatican announced in May that the synod on synodality had been postponed to 2023, with a two-year consultative preparatory phase involving Catholic dioceses worldwide.

Hollerich was born on Aug. 9, 1958, in Differdange, southwestern Luxembourg.

He began his studies for the priesthood at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1981, within the Jesuit Province of South Belgium and Luxembourg.

In 1985, he departed for Japan, where he studied theology at Sophia University in Tokyo, as well as the Japanese language and culture.

After further theological studies in Frankfurt, Germany, he was ordained to the priesthood on April 21, 1990, in Brussels, Belgium.

He then spent four years studying the German language and literature at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich in southern Germany.

He made his final vows in 2002 at the Church of St. Ignatius in Tokyo, passing to the Jesuit Province of Japan.

Named archbishop of Luxembourg by Benedict XVI, Hollerich served as president of the Conference of European Justice and Peace Commissions from 2014 to 2018.

He was appointed a cardinal by Pope Francis, receiving the red hat on Oct. 5, 2019.

Hollerich was elected president of COMECE in 2018, succeeding German Cardinal Reinhard Marx. Since then, he has spoken out on religious freedom, the plight of refugees in Europe, and secularization.

In September 2020, he expressed “great respect” for the German Church’s controversial “Synodal Way,” saying that participants dared “to ask very big questions.”

He said that the most important issue that German Catholics were grappling with was the role of women.

“I’m not saying they have to become priests; I simply don’t know that. But I am open to it,” he told the German Catholic news agency KNA. “What is clear, however, is that the current situation is not enough. You have to see and notice that women have a right to a say in the Church.”

Hollerich tested positive for COVID-19 in January, but recovered.

Pope Francis has further health scans in hospital after running a fever

Pope Francis pictured at the general audience at the Vatican April 17, 2013. Credit: Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk.

Vatican City, Jul 8, 2021 / 05:03 am (CNA).

Pope Francis underwent a CT scan of his chest and abdomen on Thursday morning after running a fever during his hospitalization, according to the Vatican.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said July 8 that the pope “temporarily ran a temperature” the evening prior.

“This morning he underwent routine and microbiological examinations, and a chest and abdomen scan, which proved negative,” Bruni said.

A computed tomography (CT) scan combines multiple X-ray images of a body part taken from different angles.

On the fifth day of the pope’s recovery in the hospital after a surgery that removed part of his colon, the pope is able to move and eat unassisted, and is no longer in need of intravenous treatment, the Vatican said.

This latest update comes a day after the Vatican confirmed that the 84-year-old pope had suffered a “severe” narrowing of the colon.

Bruni said that examinations showed that Pope Francis had experienced “severe diverticular stenosis [narrowing] with signs of sclerosing [hardening] diverticulitis.”

Pope Francis was hospitalized on July 4 to undergo an operation to relieve stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis, a common condition that involves the formation of small bulges or sacs on the wall of the colon.

A 10-person medical team was involved in Francis’ surgery, which was carried out under general anesthesia, lasted about three hours and included a left hemicolectomy, the removal of one side of the colon.

The Vatican spokesman said July 5 that the pope was expected to spend seven days recovering in the hospital, “barring complications.”

Pope Francis is staying in Gemelli University Hospital, located on Rome’s highest hill, Monte Mario.

The pope’s hospital room is on the 10th floor of the sprawling polyclinic in a wing reserved for papal medical emergencies. The pope’s medical suite can be identified from the street by its five large windows covered by white blinds.

It is the same room where John Paul II stayed during many of his hospital treatments, including for a colon surgery in 1992 and his hospitalization after being shot in an assassination attempt in 1981.

This is the 84-year-old 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.

During his hospitalization, Pope Francis sent an affectionate message to the young patients in the nearby pediatric oncology and children’s neurosurgery wards, according to the Vatican.

“At this particular moment, he looks toward all those who suffer, expressing his closeness to the sick, especially those most in need of care,” Bruni said.

In London deal indictment, what is missing has a meaning, too

Vatican City, Jul 7, 2021 / 20:19 pm (CNA).

The unprecedented indictment of a cardinal and nine people in the so-called Vatican-London deal is noteworthy as much for what is missing in it as for what it contains.

The 487 pages of the indictment order filed by the Vatican prosecutor go deep into the investigation, provide details on the interrogations (there have been 57 involving some 40 different people), and explain why the indictments are ordered.

But two missing elements are equally relevant: the indictment of Monsignor Alberto Perlasca; and the reaction of the Vatican prosecutors to a British court order that last March overturned a British lower court earlier decision of freezing Gianluigi Torzi's accounts, as requested by Vatican prosecutors.

The "London deal" is about a Secretariat of State 350 million-euro investment in a London luxury real estate.

Gianluigi Torzi was one of the brokers involved in the purchase: he is now indicted with charges of extortion, embezzlement, fraud, misappropriation, money laundering, and self-money laundering. According to the Vatican prosecutors, he extorted 15 million euros from the Secretariat of State as a condition to turn over his stakes on the London property.

Monsignor Perlasca was the head of the administrative section of the Secretariat of State from 2009 to 2019. Before, he served from 2006 to 2008 at the Apostolic Nunciature in Argentina. From 2004 to 2006, Msgr. Perlasca worked as an official of the Secretariat of State's juridical department in the section for general affairs.

Monsignor Perlasca was in charge of the Vatican Secretariat of State investments for ten years and was aware of every single financial move; but in June 2019, he was suddenly appointed "deputy promotor of Justice of the Apostolic Signatura." The move wasn’t a promotion, but just a “side” move.

Although it was not public yet, the investigations over the London property had already begun by that time. But Msgr. Perlasca was not among the five Vatican officials suspended after the search and seizure in the Secretariat of State and the Financial Intelligence Authority in October 2019.

However, in February 2020, Perlasca was subjected to a search and seizure too. A release by the Holy See Press Office read that "after a search order by the Vatican Promotor of Justice, Msgr. Perlasca's documents and computer equipment were seized both at his office and home."

Later on, the regular update of the "Annuario Pontificio," the Vatican Yearbook, noted that Perlasca was back in his diocese of Como, meaning that he no longer had Vatican positions.

In an interview he granted in June to the Italian newspaper Il Giornale, Perlasca said that back the Secretariat of State, he could give orders only "along with a superior" and therefore he could not make any financial decision on his own. He also stressed that "as soon as Mr. Torzi's request (for 15 million euros) was made, I clearly said that we had to sue him, since his requests were unjustified, and were evidently blackmail. But, unfortunately, I was the only one to say that. So there was a negotiation instead."

Perlasca's declarations were decisive to clear him from any indictment. According to the indictment order, Perlasca was "initially reticent, and on some aspects even hostile" toward the office of the Vatican prosecutor. However, after the first hearing in April 2020, Perlasca spontaneously asked to be heard by the prosecutor and his attorney. The first hearing took place at the end of August 2020. In the end, Perlasca met with the prosecutors a total of six times and "provided an important contribution to reconstructing some key scenarios" of the London deal.

Monsignor Perlasca was therefore cleared from any charge and not indicted. However, he has not been rehabilitated yet. He is living in the Domus Sanctae Marthae and not in his home diocese. He is out of the diplomatic service of the Holy See, with no Vatican position and formally incardinated in the Diocese of Como. Will the full rehabilitation come at the end of the trial?

The second important detail of the indictment order is the reaction of the Vatican prosecutor to the British judge Tony Baumgartner. Baumgartner overturned the earlier decision of a British court to seize Torzi's accounts following a Vatican request. Baumgartner also questioned the reliability of the Vatican prosecution. The ruling often used the words "mischaracterization" and "misinterpretation" to describe the Vatican prosecutor's conclusions.

Baumgartner raised some questions. He asked why, if Torzi was considered a hustler, he could meet the Pope and was treated with courtesy. And why, the British judge went on, Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, the deputy of the Secretariat of State, gave 15 million to Torzi in exchange for his shares of the London real estate, which was formally in the Vatican hands?

The London ruling also included an email by Archbishop Peña Parra to Gianluigi Torzi sent on Jan. 22, 2019. Torzi asked for 20 million euros to leave his shares, and the Secretariat of State offered 5.5 million euros. Peña Parra also wrote to Torzi that he was "convinced that the amount is adequate and congruous unless the parties raised other issues." Peña Parra also wrote that "as agreed, we want to close the issue in the shortest time possible, and so I have full confidence in your collaboration."

According to Baumgartner, that email proves there was an ongoing negotiation. Instead, the Vatican prosecutor writes that the email came in a heated climate and that it "seems to be a Secretariat of State's pleading to Torzi."

Baumgartner had also noted that "an applicant to this court for a restraint order relying on external requests should be careful in relying upon facts unverified or unsupported by direct evidence, and should not unhesitatingly rely upon assertions that are not properly established on the facts." 

The Vatican prosecutors strongly rejected that their conclusions are "unsupported by direct evidence."

In the end, there is a clash between the interpretation of evidence made by the Vatican prosecutor and at least one foreign court. The question is, can the evidence be reliable then? On which objective basis will the trial be based? 

There are other questions regarding the investigation. Initially, it was said that the pope did not know about the London real estate investment, nor had he ever met some of the protagonists involved in the operation.

When a photo of the pope with Torzi emerged, taken one Christmas time in Santa Marta, it was said that the pope met Torzi, but he knew nothing of the operation underway.

Finally, in response to the Associated Press, the Vatican Tribunal said the pope had entered the room where negotiations were taking place to liquidate Torzi's holdings in the Holy See's real estate companies and invited everyone to find a solution. Giuseppe Milanese, owner of a cooperative society and a personal friend of the pope, was a mediator for the agreement. In an interview with the Italian television program Report, broadcast at the end of April, he said that the pope asked the parts to find an agreement "at the right amount of payment."

If the pope knew and spoke about a payment, can Torzi's action be described as blackmail, or just part of the negotiation? And also: if the pope was aware of everything and had authorized the operation, why the investigation?

Finally: if Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra was aware and had endorsed the whole operation, why wasn't he too included in the investigation?

These details might put into question the accusatory framework of the Vatican prosecutor. 

The first hearing of the trial will take place on July 27, and hopefully, these questions will find answers.