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Pope Francis fields Vatican soccer team in friendly match against Roma minority

Pope Francis holds a soccer ball in St. Peter's Square during the Wednesday general audience on Aug. 26, 2015. L'Osservatore Romano. / null

Vatican City, Nov 11, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis will field a soccer team from the Vatican in a friendly match against a team of Roma people later this month.

The soccer match, which is intended to counter racism and discrimination, will be played on Nov. 21, in the town of Formello, 45 minutes north of Italy’s capital.

The match will also raise funds for a Roma inclusion project organized by the Diocese of Rome.

The pope’s team has been named “Fratelli Tutti,” after his 2020 encyclical, and includes members of the Swiss Guard, Vatican employees and their children, priests working in the Roman Curia, three young immigrants, and a young man with Down syndrome.

The team of the Roma (or Romani) minority has been assembled by the World Rom Organization, which has its headquarters in Zagreb, Croatia, and runs inclusive sporting events with special attention to minorities and people with disabilities.

The day before the match, Nov. 20, Pope Francis will meet both teams at the Vatican.

According to recent estimates by police, just over 4,000 Romani people live in Italy’s capital city, in both authorized and illegal camps. This is a 35-40% decrease from 2017, the police said, adding that this shows that attempts to integrate the ethnic minority into wider Italian society are working.

The Nov. 21 soccer match, organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture, is an initiative of Pope Francis, who has often emphasized the benefits of sports for enriching people’s lives.

In a Feb. 19 meeting with an Italian soccer team, the pope said that “sports, and also soccer, are a path of life, of maturity, and of holiness.”

Pope Francis also met with impoverished Roma people when he visited a ghetto during his trip to Slovakia in September.

During the Sept. 14 meeting, he told the Roma people that the Catholic Church is their home and they should never “worry about whether you will be at home there.”

“Nobody ought ever to keep you or anyone else away from the Church,” the pope emphasized.

The gathering took place in the Luník IX district of the Slovakian city of Košice, where an estimated 7,500 Roma people live in buildings built to hold just 2,500.

In his address, Pope Francis said: “Dear brothers and sisters, all too often you have been the object of prejudice and harsh judgments, discriminatory stereotypes, defamatory words and gestures. As a result, we are all poorer, poorer in humanity.”

“Restoring dignity means passing from prejudice to dialogue, from introspection to integration,” he continued, explaining that this can be carried out through concern, pastoral care, patience, and concrete efforts.”

“All these things will bear fruit,” he underlined. “Not immediately, but in due time those fruits will be seen.”

Pope Francis: Failure to integrate migrants can create serious problems

Pope Francis greets participants in a conference on the Italian diaspora in Europe at the Vatican’s Clementine Hall, Nov. 11, 2021. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Nov 11, 2021 / 08:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said on Thursday that the failure to integrate migrants can lead to serious problems.

Addressing participants in a conference on the Italian diaspora in Europe on Nov. 11, the pope urged countries to take four actions in relation to migrants.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“Welcome, accompany, promote and integrate, the four steps. If we do not achieve integration, there may be problems, and serious ones,” he said.

“I am always reminded of the tragedy of Zaventem: those who did this were Belgians, but the children of migrants who were not integrated, who were ghettoized. Welcome, accompany, promote and integrate.”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

The pope was referring to two suicide bombings that took place at Brussels Airport in Zaventem, Belgium, on March 22, 2016.

The perpetrators were Ibrahim El Bakraoui, a 29-year-old who was born in Brussels and held dual Belgian and Moroccan nationality, and Najim Laachraoui, 24, who was born in Morocco but raised in Brussels.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

Another suicide bombing took place on the same day at Maalbeek metro station in Brussels. It was carried out by Khalid El Bakraoui, a 27-year-old Belgian national of Moroccan descent.

A total of 32 victims were killed by the three suicide bombers, who together committed the deadliest attack on Belgian soil since World War II.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

The pope mentioned the atrocity in a speech to a conference on “Italians in Europe and the Christian mission,” sponsored by the Italian Catholic bishops’ conference and the Migrantes Foundation, and taking place in Rome on Nov. 9-12.

Pope Francis, the son of Italian immigrants to Argentina, highlighted his personal connection to the topic of the Italian diaspora.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“We often see migrants only as ‘others’ distinct from us, as strangers,” he said. “In reality, even reading the data on the phenomenon, we discover that migrants are an important part of ‘us,’ as well as, in the case of Italian emigrants, people close to us: our families, our young students, graduates, unemployed, our entrepreneurs.”

The pope noted that a number of European countries have large Italian communities. They include Germany, Switzerland, France, the U.K., and Belgium.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“The reading of Italian emigration to the European continent must make us increasingly aware that Europe is a common home,” he said.

Quoting from his 2020 encyclical Fratelli tutti, he went on: “Even the Church in Europe cannot fail to consider the millions of Italian emigrants and those from other countries who are renewing the face of cities and countries. And, at the same time, they are nourishing ‘the dream of a united Europe, capable of acknowledging its shared roots and rejoicing in its rich diversity.’”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“It is a beautiful mosaic, which must not be scarred or corrupted by prejudice or by hatred veiled in respectability. Europe is called today to revitalize its vocation for solidarity in subsidiarity.”

He praised Italians for witnessing to the Catholic faith in other European countries.

“Thanks to their deep-rooted popular religiosity, they have communicated the joy of the Gospel, making visible the beauty of being open and welcoming communities, and sharing the paths of local Christian communities,” he said.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“A style of communion and mission has marked their history, and I hope it will also shape their future. It is a beautiful thread that binds us to the memory of our families.”

The pope stressed the importance of the bond between grandparents and grandchildren.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“In fact, the young Italians who are moving around Europe today are very different, in terms of faith, from their grandparents, yet they are generally very attached to them,” he said.

“And it is crucial that they remain attached to their roots: at the very moment when they find themselves living in other European contexts, the sap they draw from their roots, from their grandparents, a sap of human and spiritual values, is precious.”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

The pope said that migrants were a blessing for the Catholic Church in Europe.

“If integrated, they can help breathe the air of a diversity that regenerates unity; they can nourish the face of catholicity; they can bear witness to the apostolicity of the Church; they can generate stories of holiness,” he said.

“Let us not forget, for example, that St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, a nun from [the Italian region of] Lombardy who emigrated among emigrants, was the first citizen saint of the United States of America.”

He expressed satisfaction that the synodal path in Italy would highlight migrants’ contribution to the Church.

“May Bl. John Baptist Scalabrini, whose action among migrants has nourished the mission of the Churches in Italy, and St. Frances Cabrini, patroness of migrants, guide and protect your journey in the Churches of Europe for a new, joyful, and prophetic proclamation of the Gospel,” he concluded.

Pope Francis: Care for creation is one of the ‘great moral issues of our time’

Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the Rome campus of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Nov. 5, 2021. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Vatican City, Nov 11, 2021 / 05:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has called care for God’s creation one of “the great moral issues of our time” in a letter expressing his regret that he could not attend the COP26 meeting in Glasgow.

“Time is running out; this occasion must not be wasted, lest we have to face God’s judgment for our failure to be faithful stewards of the world he has entrusted to our care,” the pope wrote in a letter to Catholics in Scotland signed Nov. 9.

The pope’s message was read out by Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, the papal nuncio to Great Britain and Scotland, at a live-streamed Mass at St. Augustine’s Church in Coatbridge, a town eight miles east of Glasgow.

In the message, Pope Francis said that he was pleased to hear that Catholics in Scotland were praying for a fruitful outcome to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, taking place from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12.

The Glasgow climate summit is meant to “address one of the great moral issues of our time: the preservation of God’s creation, given to us as a garden to be cultivated and as a common home for our human family,” he said.

“Let us implore God’s gifts of wisdom and strength upon those charged with guiding the international community as they seek to meet this grave challenge with concrete decisions inspired by responsibility towards present and future generations.”

Pope Francis has sought to galvanize efforts to protect the environment since his election in 2013. He issued the encyclical Laudato si’ in 2015, ahead of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris, which negotiated the Paris Agreement.

One of the goals of COP26 is to encourage governments to implement the Paris Agreement and the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

“As you know, I had hoped to take part in the COP26 meeting in Glasgow and to spend some time, however briefly, with you. I regret that this did not prove possible,” Pope Francis said.

The 84-year-old pope expressed his affection for Catholics in Scotland and asked them to pray for him.

“In these challenging times, may all Christ’s followers in Scotland renew their commitment to be convincing witnesses to the joy of the Gospel and its power to bring light and hope to every effort to build a future of justice, fraternity, and prosperity, both material and spiritual,” he said.

This is the prayer to the Holy Spirit that Pope Francis wants every Catholic to know

Pope Francis’ general audience in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Nov. 10, 2021. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Nov 10, 2021 / 05:17 am (CNA).

Pope Francis encouraged Christians to call on the Holy Spirit more often when facing difficulties, exhaustion, or discouragement in daily life during his general audience on Wednesday.

“Let us learn to invoke the Holy Spirit often,” Pope Francis said in the Paul VI Hall on Nov. 10.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“We can do this with simple words at various moments during the day.”

The pope recommended that Catholics to keep a copy on them of the “beautiful prayer that the Church recites on Pentecost,” which he recited for the pilgrims gathered in the Vatican hall.

Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.
Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

“Come, Holy Spirit, come! And from your celestial home, shed a ray of light divine! Come, come, Father of the poor! Come, Source of all our store! Come, within our bosoms shine. You, of comforters the best; You the soul’s most welcome Guest; Sweet refreshment … Come,” the pope said, reciting the first half of the prayer.

Pope Francis added that if Catholics did not have the prayer on hand, they could simply pray “Come, Holy Spirit” — as “the Madonna and the Apostles prayed during the days when Christ ascended into heaven.”

Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.
Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

“The key word is this: come. Come. But you need to say it yourself in your own words. Come, because I find myself in difficulty. Come, because I am in the dark. Come, because I don’t know what to do. Come, because I am about to fall. Come. Come. This is … how to call upon the Spirit,” he said.

Pope Francis also offered advice from St. Augustine of Hippo, the fourth-century Doctor of the Church, for Christians for when one feels discouraged, weak, or marginalized by the world.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“St. Augustine, referring to the Gospel episode of the storm on the lake, suggests how to react in this situation. This is what he says: ‘The faith of Christ in your heart is like Christ in the boat. You hear insults, you wear yourself out, you are upset, and Christ sleeps. Wake Christ up, rouse your faith! Even in tribulation you can do something. Rouse your faith. Christ awakes and speaks to you… Therefore, wake Christ up… Believe what has been said to you, and there will be tremendous calm in your heart,’” the pope said, quoting one of Augustine’s sermons.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

Pope Francis explained: “This is the only thing we can do in terrible moments: wake up Christ who is within us, but sleeps like [he did] in the boat. It is exactly like this.”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“We must rouse Christ in our hearts and only then will we be able to contemplate things with his eyes for He sees beyond the storm. Through that serene gaze, we can see a panorama that is not even conceivable on our own.”

At the beginning of the live-streamed audience, priests read out Galatians 6:9-10, 18, in which St. Paul exhorts the Christians “not to grow weary in doing what is right.”

“In this challenging but captivating journey, the Apostle reminds us that we cannot let ourselves tire when it comes to doing good,” the pope said.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“We must trust that the Spirit always comes to assist us in our weakness and grants us the support we need. Let us, therefore, learn to invoke the Holy Spirit more often.”

The pope noted that this was his last reflection in a 15-week cycle of catechesis on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“We have reached the end of the catechesis on the Letter to the Galatians. We could have reflected on so much other content contained in this writing of St. Paul,” Pope Francis said.

“The Word of God is an inexhaustible font. And in this letter, the Apostle has spoken to us as an evangelizer, as a theologian, and as a pastor.”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

Pope Francis highlighted how St. Paul’s “original intuitions help us discover the shocking newness contained in the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

“Paul never conceived of Christianity in peaceful terms, lacking bite and force — on the contrary. With such passion he defended the freedom Christ brought that it stills moves us today, especially if we think of the suffering and loneliness he must have endured,” the pope said.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“He was convinced that he had received a call to which he alone could respond; and he wanted to explain to the Galatians that they too were called to that freedom which liberated them from every form of slavery because it made them heirs of the ancient promise and, in Christ, children of God.”

After the address, a precis of the pope’s catechesis was read out in seven languages. Following each summary, he greeted members of the respective language group.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

He said: “I greet the English-speaking pilgrims present at today's Audience, especially the groups from England and the United States of America.”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“In this month of November, we pray for the loved ones who have left us and for all the dead, so that the Lord, in his mercy, may welcome them into the Kingdom of Heaven. Upon you and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of Christ. God bless you.”

Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.
Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

In his greeting to Italian speakers, the pope recalled that Nov. 10 is the feast of the fifth-century pope St. Leo the Great.

He said: “Today the liturgy remembers St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church, who has consecrated his existence to the defense and dissemination of the Gospel truth. Through his intercession, may you live your faith with joy and be serene witnesses to the love of the Lord.”

Below is the full prayer to the Holy Spirit recommended by the pope from the Compendium of the Catholic Church:

Come, Holy Spirit, come!
And from your celestial home
Shed a ray of light divine!
Come, Father of the poor!
Come, source of all our store!
Come, within our bosoms shine.
You, of comforters the best;
You, the soul’s most welcome guest;
Sweet refreshment here below;
In our labor, rest most sweet;
Grateful coolness in the heat;
Solace in the midst of woe.
O most blessed Light divine,
Shine within these hearts of yours,
And our inmost being fill!
Where you are not, we have naught,
Nothing good in deed or thought,
Nothing free from taint of ill.
Heal our wounds, our strength renew;
On our dryness pour your dew;
Wash the stains of guilt away:
Bend the stubborn heart and will;
Melt the frozen, warm the chill;
Guide the steps that go astray.
On the faithful, who adore
And confess you, evermore
In your sevenfold gift descend:
Give them virtue’s sure reward;
Give them your salvation, Lord;
Give them joys that never end.


Who was Charles de Foucauld?

Charles de Foucauld / Public domain

Vatican City, Nov 9, 2021 / 10:30 am (CNA).

The Vatican on Tuesday announced that the canonization of Bl. Charles de Foucauld and six others will take place in Rome on May 15, 2022.

Who was Charles de Foucauld?

De Foucauld, also known as Brother Charles of Jesus, was a soldier, explorer, Catholic revert, priest, hermit, and religious brother, who served among the Tuareg people in the Sahara desert in Algeria.

He was assassinated by a band of men at his hermitage in the Sahara on Dec. 1, 1916.

De Foucauld was born in Strasbourg in 1858. He was raised by his wealthy and aristocratic grandfather after being orphaned at the age of six.

He joined the French military, following in the footsteps of his grandfather. Having already lost his faith, as a young man he lived a life of indulgence and was known to have an immature sense of humor.

De Foucauld resigned from the military at age 23, and set off on a dangerous exploration of Morocco. Contact with strong Muslim believers there challenged him, and he began to repeat to himself: “My God, if you exist, let me come to know you.”

He returned to France and, with the guidance of a priest, came back to his Catholic faith in 1886, at the age of 28.

The following saying is attributed to him: “As soon as I believed in God, I understood that I could not do otherwise than to live for him alone.”

De Foucauld realized a vocation to “follow Jesus in his life at Nazareth” during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. He was a Trappist monk in France and Syria for seven years. He also lived as a hermit for a period near a convent of Poor Clares in Nazareth.

He was ordained a priest in 1901 at age 43 and left for northern Africa to serve among the Tuareg people, a nomadic ethnic group, saying he wanted to live among “the furthest removed, the most abandoned.”

In the Sahara he welcomed anyone who passed by, whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or pagan. 

He was deeply respectful of the faiths and cultures he lived among. During his 13 years in the Saraha he learned about Tuareg culture and language, compiling a Tuareg-French dictionary, and being a “brother” to the people.

The priest said he wanted to “shout the Gospel with his life” and to conduct his life so that people would ask, “if such is the servant, what must the Master be like?”

De Foucauld was the inspiration for the founding of several lay associations, religious communities, and secular institutes of laity and priests, known collectively as “the spiritual family of Charles de Foucauld.”

At his beatification in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI said as a priest, de Foucauld “put the Eucharist and the Gospel at the center of his life.”

“He discovered that Jesus -- who came to unite Himself to us in our humanity -- invites us to that universal brotherhood which he later experienced in the Sahara, and to that love of which Christ set us the example,” he said.

After meeting with Cardinal Angelo Becciu, prefect of the congregation for saints’ causes, the pope approved a second miracle attributed to de Foucauld’s intercession, paving the way for his canonization.

The date of the canonization had been delayed due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, Foucauld’s postulator told CNA last month.

The May 15 ceremony will be the Catholic Church’s first canonization Mass since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

Who else will be canonized?

With Foucauld, Pope Francis will also canonize Devasahayam Pillai, a layman from India who was martyred after converting from Hinduism to Catholicism in the 18th century.

Two religious sisters will also be canonized on May 15: Bl. Maria Francesca di Gesù, the foundress of the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters of Loano, and Bl. Maria Domenica Mantovani, the co-foundress and first general superior of the Institute of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family.

Bl. César de Bus, Bl. Luigi Maria Palazzolo, and Bl. Giustino Maria Russolillo — three priests who founded religious congregations and institutes — will also be declared saints.

This story was originally published on May 27, 2020.

Pope Francis prays for Iraqi PM after assassination attempt

Pope Francis meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi at the Vatican, July 2, 2021. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Nov 9, 2021 / 06:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis is praying for Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi after an attempted assassination attack on his home with armed drones.

The pope expressed his “prayerful closeness” in a telegram released by the Vatican on Nov. 9 in which the attack in Baghdad was condemned as a “vile act of terrorism.”

“Following the attack on your residence in Baghdad, his Holiness Pope Francis wishes me to convey his prayerful closeness to you and your family, and to those injured in condemning this vile act of terrorism,” said the message sent on the pope’s behalf by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

“His Holiness once more expresses his confidence that with the blessing of the Most High God the people of Iraq will be confirmed in wisdom and strength in pursuing the path of peace through dialogue and fraternal solidarity.”

Al-Kadhimi was unharmed in the attack on Nov. 7, but six of his guards were wounded when his residence was targeted by three armed drones, according to Reuters.

“I am fine, praise be to God, among my people, and I call for calm and restraint from everyone, for the sake of Iraq,” the prime minister wrote on Twitter.

No group had claimed responsibility for the assassination attempt. The prime minister’s office called the attack “cowardly” and “a serious targeting of the Iraqi state by criminal armed groups.”

The attack came amid increased tensions in Iraq after Iran-backed militia groups disputed the results of the Oct. 10 parliamentary elections.

Pope Francis met with al-Kadhimi at the Vatican in July. They spoke about “the importance of promoting a culture of national dialogue to foster stability and the process of reconstruction of the country,” according to the Vatican.

In March, Pope Francis became the first pope to visit Iraq. Al-Kadhimi welcomed the pope upon his arrival in Baghdad as he descended the steps of the first papal flight to Iraq.

The two met at the airport on March 5 before Pope Francis gave a speech to a gathering of civil authorities at the presidential palace.

Al-Kadhimi declared March 6 a National Day of Tolerance and Coexistence in Iraq in honor of the pope’s landmark meeting with the country’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

During their most recent encounter, the prime minister gave the pope a cross made from wood and stone taken from the ruins of the ISIS-destroyed St. Addai Church in the Iraqi town of Karamlesh on the Nineveh Plains.

Francis’ historic trip to Iraq brought him from Baghdad to the birthplace of Abraham, as well as to the rubble-strewn city of Mosul, where the Islamic State declared its caliphate in 2014.

“But then what touched me most was the testimony of a mother in Qaraqosh,” Pope Francis said.

“She is a woman who lost her son in the first Islamic State bombings, and she said a word: ‘forgiveness.’ I was moved.”

Charles de Foucauld and 6 others to be canonized May 15

A statue of Charles de Foucauld in front of the Church of Saint-Pierre-le-Jeune in Strasbourg, France. / Maykova Galina via Shutterstock.

Vatican City, Nov 9, 2021 / 04:50 am (CNA).

The Vatican on Tuesday announced that the canonization of Bl. Charles de Foucauld and six others will take place in Rome on May 15, 2022.

The date of the canonization had been delayed due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, Foucauld’s postulator told CNA last month.

The May 15 ceremony will be the Catholic Church’s first canonization Mass since the start of the coronavirus outbreak. It will take place two years and seven months after the most recent canonization, that of St. John Henry Newman and four others in October 2019.

Bl. Charles de Foucauld was a dissolute French soldier who became a Trappist monk and Catholic missionary to Muslims in Algeria. Known as Brother Charles of Jesus, he was killed in 1916 at the age of 58.

After his reversion to the Catholic faith, Foucauld wanted to imitate the life of Jesus, spending his last 13 years living among the Muslim Tuareg people, a nomadic ethnic group, in the desert of French-occupied Algeria.

Pope Francis approved a miracle obtained through Foucauld’s intercession in May 2020, and the Church’s cardinals signed off on his and six other canonizations during a Vatican consistory a year later.

Charles de Foucauld. Public domain.
Charles de Foucauld. Public domain.

With Foucauld, Pope Francis will also canonize Devasahayam Pillai, a layman from India who was martyred after converting from Hinduism to Catholicism in the 18th century.

Pillai, who is also known by his baptismal name, Lazarus, was beatified in 2012 in southern India. He will be the first lay Catholic in India to be declared a saint.

Seven years after his conversion, Pillai was killed at the age of 40 by gunshot, after he had been falsely accused of treason, arrested, and tortured for three years.

A statue of Bl. Devasahayam Pillai at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Kottar, India. Kumbalam via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).
A statue of Bl. Devasahayam Pillai at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Kottar, India. Kumbalam via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Two religious sisters will also be canonized on May 15: Bl. Maria Francesca di Gesù, the foundress of the Capuchin Tertiary Sisters of Loano, and Bl. Maria Domenica Mantovani, the co-foundress and first general superior of the Institute of the Little Sisters of the Holy Family.

Bl. César de Bus, Bl. Luigi Maria Palazzolo, and Bl. Giustino Maria Russolillo — three priests who founded religious congregations and institutes — will also be declared saints.

In October, Fr. Bernard Ardura, the postulator of Foucauld’s cause, told CNA that the canonization would likely take place next spring.

The Vatican was waiting for the global situation with COVID-19 to improve before it scheduled the event, Ardura explained, noting that thousands of people from countries such as the United States, Canada, France, and Algeria traveled to Rome for Foucauld’s beatification in 2005.

“Canonizations are not for the saints, they are for us,” the priest said. “Because for them it changes nothing. It changes nothing for them. It is for us. It is a great ecclesial act.”

How Vatican City State’s government is changing under Pope Francis

Sr. Raffaella Petrini meets Pope Francis. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Nov 9, 2021 / 03:00 am (CNA).

The recent appointment of new leaders at the Vatican City State shows Pope Francis’ determination to break some circuits of power, but at the same time preserve the severely tested finances of the world’s smallest state.

On Nov. 4, the pope unexpectedly chose the Franciscan Sister Raffaella Petrini as secretary-general of the Vatican’s governorate. He also for the first time appointed a deputy secretary, Giuseppe Puglisi-Alibrandi.

The choice of Petrini is a sign. Pope Francis has selected a person outside of the governorate’s dynamics to administer a state machine strained by the pandemic.

The Vatican City State administration’s budget has not been published since 2016. The management of finances remains a mystery. There has also been talk of the need to put in order and rationalize the accounts.

By choosing Petrini, Pope Francis shows the will to reform once again, starting from relationships.

He did this too with the administrative office of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State. After 12 years of the direction of Msgr. Alberto Perlasca, Pope Francis called on the Lithuanian Msgr. Rolandas Makrickas, who had recently arrived in the Secretariat of State after serving at the nunciature in Washington, D.C.

Other choices in the Vatican financial sector also went in this direction: from Fabio Gasperini’s nomination as secretary of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) to Maximino Caballero Ledo’s appointment as secretary of the Secretariat for the Economy. In both cases, the pope selected laymen with considerable experience outside of the Vatican to address critical matters related to financial reform.

Petrini’s nomination fits into this context. But the pope’s decision was also read as giving more leadership responsibilities to women. This policy has been reflected in a series of appointments, including that of Sr. Nathalie Becquart as an undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops, Sr. Alessandra Smerilli as the interim secretary of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and Barbara Jatta as director of the Vatican Museums.

But Petrini’s appointment should not be read solely in this light. She is indeed a woman in a post reserved until now for an archbishop. But it is also true that the governorate does not have such a well-defined tradition.

The first governor was a layman: Camillo Serafini, an Italian nobleman who remained in office from the constitution of the Vatican City State in 1929 to 1953, the year of his death.

The governor’s position remained vacant until 2000, when John Paul II established the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and gave the president the duties formerly belonging to the governor.

The president has always been a cardinal and, consequently, the secretary has been an archbishop. But nothing was preventing the secretary from being a layperson or member of a religious order.

More than anything else, it is interesting to note that the secretary is now for the first time assisted by a deputy secretary.

Until his new appointment, Puglisi-Alibrandi had acted as the first consultant of the legal service of the machine that manages Vatican City State. In that role, he worked closely alongside Bishop Fernando Vérgez Alzaga, then secretary of the governorate. Vérgez, now an archbishop, was named president of the Vatican City State administration in September.

Petrini’s appointment serves to break some chains of acquaintances and give a new modus operandi to the governorate. But Puglisi-Alibrandi’s nomination is aimed at ensuring continuity in management.

The governorship is facing two main issues. The first is that of financial management, because the governorate — thanks to the Vatican Museums — is the only Vatican body making substantial profits. The governorate’s budget has been generally used to write off the so-called “mission budget” of the Roman Curia, which does not generate profits.

And yet the governorate’s budget has not been published for years, despite the intention to arrive at a consolidated budget including all Vatican entities.

Fabio Gasperini, who worked as a consultant at Ernst & Young, also proposed an independent accounting model for the governorate. But the administration decided to keep the production of internal financial statements firmly in its hands, developing an ad hoc computer program called Project One.

Now, however, Gasperini has become number two at APSA, the Holy See’s treasury, and is entrusted with rationalizing the administration and making APSA increasingly the Vatican’s “central bank.” In this work, he will find support from Puglisi-Alibrandi.

The second issue is that of employee insurance. Among the lay members of the Vatican’s Council for the Economy is Alberto Minali, the former CEO of the Cattolica company who worked before that at Generali, a major Italian insurance company. Minali is considered a possible bridge between Cattolica and Generali.

The governorate has an insurance contract for its employees with Cattolica, which has faced economic problems. Cattolica financed a recapitalization thanks to Generali. The Vatican followed this recapitalization closely, given that Cattolica manages all the governorate’s policies.

Within Cattolica, there is a Religious Entities Business Unit, created by Piero Fusco, which acts as a link between the Vatican and insurance, and has a strong connection with Puglisi-Alibrandi, who manages the policies through the legal office.

Puglisi-Alibrandi, who is close to Vérgez, will be called to outline the finances of the governorate in a new way, making them flow into the consolidated balance sheet of the Curia. He will also be asked to keep an eye out for the Vatican Museums, which is affected by the coronavirus crisis and now in the difficult situation of having to manage collaborators’ grievances.

But Puglisi-Alibrandi will not be able to do this in total autonomy. He will have to work alongside Petrini and give in-depth explanations. In this way, Pope Francis has guaranteed a sort of external control in managing potentially thorny situations.

After all, the pope’s financial reform passes through these decisions. Faced with problems, he first of all changes people, tries to break circuits of close friendships by bringing people from the outside, and refers above all to people he trusts or is sure he can rely on. All this comes before structural reforms. And that is what’s happening now with the governorate.

Vatican liturgy chief: Traditional Latin Mass ‘abrogated by Pope St. Paul VI’

Archbishop Arthur Roche at the Vatican press office on Feb. 10, 2015. / Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

Vatican City, Nov 8, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

The Vatican’s liturgy chief has said that the Traditional Latin Mass was “abrogated by Pope Saint Paul VI.”

Archbishop Arthur Roche made the comment in a letter dated Aug. 4 to the English Cardinal Vincent Nichols.

The prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments was replying to a letter from the cardinal dated July 28, regarding the application of Pope Francis’ motu proprio Traditionis custodes in England and Wales.

A spokesman for Cardinal Nichols confirmed in a email to CNA on Nov. 8 that the correspondence, published on Nov. 5 by the website, was genuine.

The motu proprio, which came into force on July 16, the day it was released, said that it is a bishop’s “exclusive competence” to authorize Traditional Latin Masses in his diocese.

The document, accompanied by a letter to bishops, made sweeping changes to Benedict XVI’s 2007 apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum, which had acknowledged the right of all priests to say Mass using the Roman Missal of 1962 without having to seek their bishop’s permission.

Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal is referred to variously as the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, the Tridentine Mass, the Traditional Latin Mass, the usus antiquior, and the Vetus Ordo.

Emphasizing that his response was “of a personal nature” as the Congregation had not yet issued guidelines on interpreting the document, Roche wrote: “Clearly, this is a moment which demands of pastors a delicacy of care and direction towards those who are most affected by the laws now in force.”

“The use of antecedent liturgical texts has been regulated and not suppressed. The reasons for this are clearly outlined in the Pope’s letter.”

“The misinterpretation and promotion of the use of these texts, after only limited concessions by previous Pontiffs, has been used to encourage a liturgy at variance with Conciliar reform (and which, in fact, was abrogated by Pope Saint Paul VI), and an ecclesiology that is not part of the Church’s Magisterium.”

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, abrogation is “the total abolition of a law.”

In a letter to the world’s bishops accompanying Summorum Pontificum, Benedict XVI wrote that the pre-conciliar liturgy was “never juridically abrogated.”

“As for the use of the 1962 Missal as a Forma extraordinaria [extraordinary form] of the liturgy of the Mass, I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted,” he said in the letter dated July 7, 2007.

Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster and president of the English and Welsh bishops’ conference, asked Roche six questions regarding Traditionis custodes. They included whether the Vatican would issue further guidance on the motu proprio’s application, if the document applied to other sacraments such as baptism, and how the term “groups” should be understood.

He wrote: “Although the Motu Proprio has come into immediate effect, we are aware that its correct and lasting application will take time.”

“From the combination of the Motu Proprio text and its accompanying letter, it is clear that the Holy Father wishes a unity of liturgical prayer, expressed through ‘the unique expression of the lex orandi [law of prayer] of the Roman Rite.’”

“In pastoral attentiveness, we will have to accompany people who are firmly attached to the Missal of 1962 towards the Missal of Popes Saints Paul VI and John Paul II.”

Roche, the 71-year-old former bishop of Leeds, northern England, was appointed prefect of the Vatican’s liturgy department in May, succeeding Cardinal Robert Sarah.

In the letter also signed by the congregation’s secretary, Archbishop Vittorio Francesco Viola, Roche told Nichols that his congregation was still “attentively studying the implications of the Motu Proprio,” but he was nevertheless happy to “share with you our present understanding regarding the matters you raise.”

“It is clear that the principal commentary on the new law governing the granting of the use of antecedents liturgical texts, by way of exceptional concession, and not by way of promotion, is the accompanying letter from Pope Francis to the Bishops,” he wrote.

“It is also evident that these exceptional concessions should only be granted to those who accept the validity and legitimacy of the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council and the Magisterium of the Supreme Pontiffs. All that is in the new law is oriented to the return and stabilization of the liturgy as decreed by the Second Vatican Council.”

He confirmed that the motu proprio transferred responsibility for matters related to the Traditional Latin Mass from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life.

“They alone now exercise competence within their given fields,” he wrote.

Regarding whether the document applied to all other sacraments, he said it was clear “that the new law abrogates what was previously given by way of exceptional and limited concession.”

“Pastoral prudence, however, may determine for a very limited time only, and with a view to increased ecclesial communion, a full implementation of the Motu Proprio, but which would require careful monitoring and clear guidance towards that end,” he wrote.

Traditionis custodes speaks only of the use of the Missale Romanam [Roman Missal] of 1962 and Eucharistic celebrations. There has been considerable misinterpretation of previous provisions with growing practices, developments, and promotion, which in no small part has encouraged a growth that was not foreseen or sanctioned by previous Pontiffs.”

“A former underplaying of the Second Vatican Council's role of the Local Ordinary as moderator, promotor, and guardian of the liturgy has proved to be unhelpful in this matter for which reason the Holy Father now stresses the importance of the Bishop’s role in fully applying the new law.”

Roche clarified that the term “groups” in the motu proprio referred “to the personal parishes that were previously erected for the concessionary use of the antecedent liturgy, and to those gatherings of people who have been regularly meeting for the celebration of the Eucharist using the Missale Romanum of 1962.”

The correspondence between Nichols and Roche also touched on the so-called “Agatha Christie indult,” with which Pope Paul VI granted permission for the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass in England and Wales following the revision of the Mass after the Second Vatican Council.

Nichols noted that the indult was granted to Cardinal John Heenan, the then archbishop of Westminster, in 1971. Heenan is believed to have made the request after a petition in favor of an indult was signed by cultural luminaries such as art historian Kenneth Clark, pianist and conductor Vladimir Ashkenazy, poet Robert Graves, and detective novelist Agatha Christie.

Paul VI reputedly saw the novelist’s name accompanying the request, said “Ah, Agatha Christie,” and granted permission, giving the indult its nickname.

But Roche said that a search of his congregation’s archives had “found nothing that corresponds to this.”

“If Your Eminence has seen this indult I would be grateful if you would share it and all relevant correspondence with this Congregation,” he wrote.

“In any case, note needs to be taken of Traditionis custodes no. 8, which abrogates all previous norms, instructions, permissions, and customs that do not conform to the present law. A previous indult would certainly fall under this proscription.”

The text of the indult is published on the website of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales, a group also discussed in the correspondence between the cardinal and archbishop.

Nichols, 76, issued guidance to priests of Westminster diocese regarding Traditionis custodes in an email published on July 22, days before his letter to Roche.

He said that many of them had asked to continue celebrating Mass according to the 1962 Missal.

“My intention is to grant faculties for these requests, as long as it is clear that the conditions of the Motu Proprio are fulfilled and the intentions of the Holy Father fully accepted,” he said.

Pope Francis: ‘Free the sacred from its ties with money’

Pope Francis gives his weekly Angelus message on Nov. 7, 2021 / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Nov 7, 2021 / 06:55 am (CNA).

The sacred things of our Catholic faith must be freed from their ties with money, Pope Francis said on Sunday.

In a reflection on the Gospel of the “widow’s mite” Nov. 7, the pope praised the woman for giving everything she had, without concern for how it would look to others.

Francis also criticized the hypocrisy of the scribes, who “devour the houses of widows” while appearing to be holy.

“The Lord denounces the exploitation of this woman, who, in making her offering, must return home without even the little she had to live on,” he said. “How important it is to free the sacred from its ties with money.”

Pope Francis spoke about the widow and the scribes during his weekly Angelus speech, which he delivered from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

In the message, he said Jesus praises the widow’s tithe to the treasury of the temple, because “she has nothing left, but finds her everything in God.”

“She is not afraid of losing the little she has because she trusts in God’s abundance, who multiplies the joy of those who give,” Francis added.

Jesus proposes this woman as a teacher of the faith, instead of the scribes, because “she does not go to the Temple to clear her conscience, she does not pray to make herself seen, she does not show off her faith, but she gives from her heart generously and freely.”

The pope urged people to not be hypocrites like the scribes, who “covered their vainglory with the name of God and, worse still, used religion to run their business, abusing their authority and exploiting the poor.”

Do not base your life on “the cult of appearances, externals, and the exaggerated care of one’s own image,” he advised. “In what we say and do, do we want to be appreciated and gratified or to render a service to God and to our neighbor, especially the weakest?”

“We must watch out for falsehood of the heart, against hypocrisy, which is a dangerous illness of the soul,” he said.

According to Pope Francis, the attitude of the scribes in the Gospel endures today in the form of clericalism, which he described as “being above the poor, exploiting them, ‘beating them,’ feeling perfect.”

“This is the evil of clericalism,” he said. “This is a warning for all time and for everyone, Church and society: never to take advantage of a specific role to crush others, never to make money off the backs of the weakest.”

We have to be vigilant in order to not fall into vanity, fixating on appearances and living superficially, Francis stated.

Jesus, by telling the story of the poor widow, shows us the path to healing from clericalism and hypocrisy, he said.

“The sound of her few coins is more beautiful than the grandiose offerings of the rich, since they express a life sincerely dedicated to God, a faith that does not live by appearances but by unconditional trust. Let us learn from her: a faith without external frills, but interiorly sincere; a faith composed of humble love for God and for our brothers and sisters.”

After praying the Angelus, Pope Francis noted his concern for conflict in the region of the Horn of Africa, especially in Ethiopia. “I invite everyone to pray for those peoples who are so severely tried, and I renew my appeal that fraternal harmony and the peaceful way of dialogue prevail,” he said.

The pope also said he is praying for the victims of a Nov. 5 fuel explosion on the outskirts of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.

According to Reuters, local authorities have reported that at least 99 people were killed and more than 100 injured when a fuel tanker exploded after a collision late on Friday.

The accident has caused an even greater strain on the city’s health system, which was still suffering from underfunding and a lack of doctors following the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic.

Pope Francis also noted the Nov. 6 beatification of three Capuchin Friars Minor who were killed in Manresa, Spain, in 1936.

The friars Fr. Josep Domenech Bonet, Joseph Oriol, and Domènech de Sant Pere de Riudebitlles “were killed in the period of religious persecution of the last century in Spain, proving to be meek and courageous witnesses of Christ,” the pope said.

“May their example help Christians today to remain faithful to their vocation, even in times of trial.”