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 Post subject: Big Popeing Megathread
PostPosted: Fri Jan 17, 2014 12:30 am 
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All right from now on, all Pope stories will go here. Feel free to include your Pope opinions here as well.

Speaking of

Quote:
Pope Francis has donated his Harley Davidson motorcycle to be sold to raise money for a hostel and soup kitchen that serves Rome’s homeless.

“It is a precious gift that has once again made us happy in feeling the closeness of our bishop to the poor of the Church of Rome. We are deeply grateful to Pope Francis for this,” Msgr. Enrico Feroci, the director of Caritas Rome, said at an Oct. 12 press conference.

The sale of the motorcycle will fund the renovation of Caritas’ Don Luigi di Liegro Hostel and Soup Kitchen at Rome’s Termini station. The two projects have operated since 1987 to help relieve the suffering of about 1,000 people every day, Caritas Rome reports.

Msgr. Feroci thanked Pope Francis on behalf of everyone who will benefit from “this act of hospitality and solidarity.” He assured the Pope that the poor will continue to pray for the “precious work that he is doing in the vineyard of the Lord.”

The Harley Davidson Motor Co. presented two of its motorcycles and a biker jacket to Pope Francis in June, when Rome hosted the 110th anniversary celebration of the iconic American motorcycle. On June 16, the Pope blessed about 800 bikers and their rides in St. Peter’s Square.

Pope Francis has encouraged clergy and religious to show humility in their choice of transportation.

In July, he told a group of seminarians and religious novices that he felt hurt when he sees a priest or a sister with a brand-new car.

“And, if you like that beautiful car, think about how many children are dying of hunger,” he said, urging them to choose simpler transportation options.

As a cardinal in Argentina, Pope Francis was well known for taking public transportation.

In September, the Pope accepted an Italian priest’s gift of a used Renault 4 with 186,000 miles on its odometer


Bit of a Pic for you to.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 18, 2014 4:10 am 
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Washington Post

Pope fires almost entire leadership of Vatican Bank!

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Pope Francis on Wednesday (Jan. 15) took his biggest step yet at cleaning house at the scandal-ridden Vatican Bank, replacing most of the institution’s advisers with fresh faces.

Among the new appointees: Vatican Secretary of State and Cardinal-designate Pietro Parolin; Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn from Vienna; Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto; and veteran diplomat Cardinal Santos Abril y Castello, a close friend of the pontiff’s.

French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran is the lone cardinal adviser who was retained.

Francis’ move essentially undid a decree issued last year by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who confirmed the Vatican Bank’s supervisory body for another five years, just days before announcing his retirement. The most high-profile figure sacked on Wednesday was Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Benedict’s secretary of state and the face of administrative woes of Benedict’s papacy.

Officially known as the Institute for Religious Works, the Vatican Bank plays an essential role in helping facilitate the Vatican’s role in confronting poverty worldwide. But it has also been connected with widespread corruption and money laundering.

Last July, a priest and Vatican accountant Nunzio Scarano — nicknamed “Monsignor 500&‥8243; because of his taste for 500-euro banknotes — was arrested and accused of smuggling nearly $30 million into Italy from Switzerland. In 2012, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi was ousted as bank president after being accused of incompetence.

That same year, U.S. banker JPMorgan closed its accounts with the bank, and Deutsche Bank Italia ended a 15-year relationship, making the Holy See a cash-only state for several months.

Since becoming pope last March, Francis has repeatedly railed against corruption, and his reforms at the bank are quickly becoming a test case for those efforts.

This week, he took another, less controversial step in that direction, calling for a “spending review” that includes settling on a cap for expenses tied to the canonization causes of would-be saints. In the past, critics charged that figures backed by well-financed supporters usually became saints more quickly than their more meagerly financed counterparts.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 18, 2014 4:14 am 
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LATimes

19 new Cardinals from Africa, Latin America and Asia.

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Pope Francis named 19 new cardinals Sunday, including a bishop from Haiti and an archbishop from Burkina Faso, a choice the Vatican said showed Francis’ determination to focus on the poor.

Overall, the pope’s first batch of appointments to the College of Cardinals contained 10 men from Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa, reflecting his bid to give the Catholic Church a more global outlook.

Just four of the choices hail from inside the Curia — the Vatican’s governing body — and no churchmen from the U.S. were given the nod for a “red hat.”

“This reflects Francis’ desire to make the Church more universal and to correct imbalances,” said Gerard O’Connell, a Rome-based contributor to the online publication Vatican Insider.

“A different logic is at work here. The rules are no longer operative. The U.S., for example, is already disproportionately represented.”

Sixteen of the nominations, which will be formalized at a Vatican consistory Feb. 22, are under 80 years old, meaning they qualify to enter the conclaves held to elect new popes.

The Argentine pope named six cardinals from Latin America and the Caribbean, including Brazil, Nicaragua, Haiti, Chile and the island of Saint Lucia. The Latin Americans also include Mario Aurelio Poli, Francis’ successor as archbishop of Buenos Aires in Argentina after he was elected pope in March.

Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso represent Africa, while archbishops were also nominated from the Philippines (Orlando B. Quevedo, archbishop of Cotabato) and South Korea (Andrew Yeom Soo-jung, archbishop of Seoul).
The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Vincent Nichols, was selected, as was Gérald Cyprien Lacroix from Quebec.

Curia appointments included newly appointed secretary of state Pietro Parolin, an Italian, and German Gerhard Ludwig Muller, the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s doctrinal watchdog.

“The total of four Curia appointments is less than normal and shows the pope wants to put an end to careerism and the idea of automatic appointments,” said O’Connell.

O’Connell noted that although three of the four Curia nominees were Italian, only two other Italians made the list. “Some 28 of the 115 cardinals at the last conclave were Italians and many cardinals said that was over the top,” he said. “Francis is breaking with the tradition of automatically making the archbishops of major Italian cities cardinals.”

The new appointments boost the number of Central and South American cardinal electors to 19 in the 122 strong college of cardinals, no match for the 61 electors from Europe — including 29 Italians — but more than the 15 North Americans, of whom 11 are from the United States and four from Canada.

Africa and Asia now have 13 cardinal electors apiece.

Among the three new cardinals over 80 who will not vote at the next conclave is Monsignor Loris Francesco Capovilla, 98. He served as personal secretary to Pope John XXIII, who is due to be canonized in April along with Pope John Paul II.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 2:30 am 
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An Overview of Pope Francis attempts to reshape the Vatican.

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Less than a year into his papacy, Pope Francis has raised expectations among the world’s one billion Roman Catholics that change is coming. He has already transformed the tone of the papacy, confessing himself a sinner, declaring “Who am I to judge?” when asked about gays, and kneeling to wash the feet of inmates, including Muslims.

Less apparent, if equally significant for the future of the church, is how Francis has taken on a Vatican bureaucracy so plagued by intrigue and inertia that it contributed, numerous church officials now believe, to the historic resignation of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, last February.

Francis’ reign may not ultimately affect centuries-old church doctrine, but it is already reshaping the way the church is run and who is running it. Francis is steadily replacing traditionalists with moderates as the church prepares for a debate about the role of far-flung bishops in Vatican decision-making and a broad discussion on the family that could touch on delicate issues such as homosexuality and divorce.

In St. Peter’s Basilica on New Year’s Eve, Francis, dressed in golden robes, hinted at the major changes he had already set in motion. “What happened this year?” he asked. “What is happening, and what will happen?”

To some of the scarlet-clad cardinals seated in rows of gilded armchairs at the New Year’s service, the answer was becoming clear. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, one of the highest-ranking Americans in the Vatican, found his influence diluted. Another conservative, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, was demoted. Among the bishops, Archbishop Guido Pozzo was sidelined.

To some degree, Francis, 77, is simply bringing in his own team and equipping it to carry out his stated mission of creating a more inclusive and relevant church that is more sensitive to the needs of local parishes and the poor. But he is also breaking up the rival blocs of Italians with entrenched influence in the Roman Curia, the bureaucracy that runs the church. He is increasing financial transparency in the murky Vatican Bank and upending the career ladder that many prelates have spent their lives climbing.

On Sunday, Francis made his first mark on the exclusive College of Cardinals that will elect his successor by naming prelates who in many cases hail from developing countries and the Southern Hemisphere. He pointedly instructed the new cardinals not to consider the job a promotion or to waste money with celebratory parties.

“It was an important year,” said Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s second-ranking official and one of only four Vatican officials Francis will make a cardinal in February. Asked in a New Year’s Eve interview about the personnel changes, he replied that it was only natural that the Argentine pope should prefer to have “certain people who are able to advance his policy.”

Interviews with cardinals, bishops, priests, Vatican officials, Italian politicians, diplomats and analysts indicate that the mood inside the Vatican ranges from adulation to uncertainty to deep anxiety, even a touch of paranoia. Several people say they fear Francis is going department by department looking for heads to roll. Others whisper about six mysterious Jesuit spies who act as the pope’s eyes and ears on the Vatican grounds. Mostly, once-powerful officials feel out of the loop.

“It’s awkward,” said one senior Vatican official, who, like many others, insisted on anonymity for fear of retribution from Francis. “Many are saying, what are we doing this for?” He said some officials had stopped showing up for meetings. “It’s like frustrated teenagers closing the door and putting their headphones on.”

Francis remains tricky to define, a doctrinal conservative whose humble style and symbolic gestures have thrilled many liberals. On Christmas, the destitute poured into an ancient church in Rome for a holiday lunch sponsored by a Catholic lay organization. The group’s founder, Andrea Riccardi, once a liaison to the church when he served as an Italian government minister, expressed hopes for change, but also wariness about Vatican officials ignoring the pope’s agenda.

“You hear people talk about it in the corridors of the church,” Mr. Riccardi said. “The real resistance is to continue business as usual.”

Four days earlier, Francis met with the Curia in the Sala Clementina, the 16th-century reception hall in the Apostolic Palace, to deliver one of the most important papal speeches of the year. Benedict used his last such Christmas address to denounce same-sex marriage. Francis used his first to castigate his own colleagues in the Curia.

He warned the men in red and purple skullcaps and black cassocks arrayed around him that the Curia risked drifting “downwards towards mediocrity” and becoming “a ponderous, bureaucratic customhouse.” He also called on the prelates to be “conscientious objectors” to gossip.

Not New to the Battle

It was a pointed rebuke of the poisonous atmosphere that had troubled Benedict’s papacy, and for which the former secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, was often blamed. And it was a reminder that Francis, if a new pope, was not new to the machinations of the Curia, having tangled while in Argentina with a powerful conservative faction.

“He was not an ingénue coming out into the world,” said Elisabetta Piqué, an Argentine journalist who has known Francis for more than two decades and whose recent book, “Francis: Life and Revolution,” documented his past clashes with Rome. “He had had almost a war with this section of the Roman Curia.”

Now Francis talks disparagingly of “airport bishops” who are more interested in their careers than flocks, and warns that priests can become “little monsters” if they are not trained properly as seminarians.

He is dismantling the power circle of Cardinal Bertone, who led a ring of conservatives centered on the city of Genoa. In September, Francis demoted Cardinal Piacenza, a Bertone ally, from his post running the powerful Congregation for the Clergy.

To some it was an indication that the new pope could act with a measure of ruthlessness. Several Vatican officials said that Cardinal Piacenza’s greatest transgression had been undermining his predecessor, a Brazilian prelate close to Francis who appeared with him on the balcony of St. Peter’s after his election.

Francis also removed a top official of the Vatican City government, although arranging a soft landing pad. Others were less fortunate.

As a priest, Guido Pozzo led a Vatican commission tasked with bridging the schism between the church and traditionalists critical of the Second Vatican Council. In November 2012, Cardinal Bertone elevated him to the rank of archbishop and Benedict appointed him to run the church’s charity office. Francis, who is much less interested than Benedict was in appealing to the schismatic conservatives, has since sent Archbishop Pozzo back to his former post.

Another is Cardinal Burke. In 2008, Benedict installed his fellow traditionalist as president of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest court, and the next year appointed him to the Congregation for Bishops. The post gave Cardinal Burke tremendous sway in selecting new bishops in the United States.

In December, Francis replaced him with a more moderate cardinal. “He’s looking for places to put his people,” said one official critical of the pope.

Another Vatican conservative took offense at Francis’ disdain for elaborate dress. And speculation that Francis might convert the papal vacation home of Castel Gandolfo into a museum or a rehabilitation center has also raised alarms. “If he does that,” said an ally of the old guard, “the cardinals will rebel.”

For now, the resistance is not gaining traction. “The Holy Spirit succeeds also in melting the ice and overcoming any resistance,” Secretary of State Parolin said. “So there will be resistance. But I wouldn’t give too much importance to these things.”

Francis also has empowered a group of eight cardinals representing five continents to spearhead reform of the Curia. He has hired secular consultants and set up a special commission to oversee the Vatican Bank. And while he has spoken infrequently on clerical sexual abuse, he has formed another commission “for the protection of minors.”

He may also delegate some of the powers traditionally held by the office of secretary of state by creating a new papal enforcer, who would wrest power away from Curia bureaucrats.

“This is a very real possibility,” said Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, who replaced Cardinal Burke on the Congregation for Bishops.

Shunning Italian Politics

For years, Italian politicians have courted the Vatican, and vice versa, as both Pope John Paul II and Benedict encouraged Italy’s prelates to speak out on issues that concerned the church. Francis’ distaste for directly involving the church in politics has now threatened that old link between Italian prelates and Italy’s conservative politicians.

“Today, the Italian bishops are keeping silent,” said Pier Ferdinando Casini, a prominent politician who once met with cardinals and even popes but has yet to meet Francis.

The Vatican remains a disproportionately Italian institution, with Italy boasting the biggest bloc of cardinals even as it now accounts for only 4 percent of the world’s Catholics. Vatican employees are overwhelmingly Italian, with lifetime job security, sometimes extending for generations.

Perks abound. On a recent afternoon inside the Vatican’s department store, bargain hunters shopped for tax-free wine, cigarettes, Ferragamo clutches and North Face jackets beneath clocks reading the time in New York, Vatican City and Tokyo.

The Italian problem, as many non-Italian cardinals called it, loomed over the conclave that elected Francis in March. An undue Italian influence was blamed for suspicious accounts and mismanagement of the Vatican Bank and the gossip mongering that fueled an embarrassing scandal centered on leaks of Benedict’s private letters.

“What is necessary is that at this stage that the culture becomes less Italian,” one senior Vatican official said, “particularly as people work towards greater transparency and meritocracy.”

Off the Career Track

Francis, whose father was an Italian immigrant, and whose second language is Italian, does have key Italian allies, including Secretary of State Parolin and two other Curia department prefects he named as cardinals on Sunday. But analysts say his passing over of traditional Italian powerhouses, such as Venice, where the archbishop is close to Cardinal Bertone, shows that he is trying to break the established career track in the Italian church.

Francis is also tinkering with the once mighty conference of Italian bishops, which he sits atop in his role as bishop of Rome. Popes have traditionally appointed the president of the Italian conference, but Francis may introduce elections, as happens in other bishops’ conferences.

Under Benedict, the conference’s president, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, jousted for influence in Italian politics with Cardinal Bertone, whom Francis has largely sidelined. But the pope also recently removed Cardinal Bagnasco from the powerful Congregation for Bishops.

In a recent Saturday homily, Francis warned an audience that included Cardinal Bagnasco of the danger of becoming a “smarmy” priest. Succumbing to worldly temptations, he added, made for “priest-wheeler-dealers, priest-tycoons.”

The New Year’s Eve Mass at St. Peter’s ended with a procession of priests escorting Francis out of the basilica, followed by the thousands of the faithful. In the emptied church, the cardinals and bishops rose from their seats, shook hands with dignitaries and milled about around St. Peter’s tomb.

Cardinal Piacenza collected his umbrella from a prayer bench. Archbishop Pozzo made his way to the door. Asked about the changes underway in the Curia, he replied, “It’s been a surprising year!”

Not far away, Cardinal Burke blessed a few stragglers and declined to comment without permission from his “superiors.”

Weeks earlier, Cardinal Burke seemed poised to be the most prominent voice of resistance to Francis’ reign, telling a Catholic television network that he was not “exactly sure why” the pope “thinks we’re talking too much about abortion” and other culture war issues. When it came to changes in the Curia, he bemoaned “a kind of unpredictability about life in Rome in these days.”

At roughly the same time, Francis gave an interview to the Italian newspaper La Stampa. The pope spoke again about “tenderness” and opening up the church. But he also added: “Prudence is a virtue of government. So is boldness.”

It was a telling point. On Dec. 15 Cardinal Burke returned to his boyhood parish in Stratford, Wis., to celebrate a special Mass. Dressed in the tall miter cap and traditional pink for the Christmas season, he spoke about his dairy farm roots but disappointed some of his parishioners by making no mention of Francis or the events happening in the Vatican.

“I was hoping he would,” said Marge Pospyhalla, who attended the Mass. “But, no, we did not get that.”

His silence said enough. The day after the Mass, Francis took Cardinal Burke off the Congregation for Bishops.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2014 7:14 pm 
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Pope Francis has shared his thoughts about the Internet, declaring it a wonderful thing but also expressing worries that it impair human relationships and inflict a kind of commercial violence on users.

Francis' thoughts are published here under the title “"Communication at the Service of an Authentic Culture of Encounter" - Pope's Message for World Communications Day”. The day, celebrated since 1967, is a Catholic Church invention designed to encourage reflection on how modern media can help to spread the Gospel.

The pontiff's central thesis is that “media can help us to feel closer to one another, creating a sense of the unity of the human family which can in turn inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all”.

“The internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity,” Francis writes. “This is something truly good, a gift from God.”

But it's not all tweetness and light, Francis says, offering the following analysis of some downsides of online communities:

Quote:
“This is not to say that certain problems do not exist. The speed with which information is communicated exceeds our capacity for reflection and judgement, and this does not make for more balanced and proper forms of self-expression. The variety of opinions being aired can be seen as helpful, but it also enables people to barricade themselves behind sources of information which only confirm their own wishes and ideas, or political and economic interests. The world of communications can help us either to expand our knowledge or to lose our bearings. The desire for digital connectivity can have the effect of isolating us from our neighbours, from those closest to us. We should not overlook the fact that those who for whatever reason lack access to social media run the risk of being left behind.”


Francis also appears to have little time for social networks as they exist today, as expressed in this passage of his piece:

Quote:
“Whenever communication is primarily aimed at promoting consumption or manipulating others, we are dealing with a form of violent aggression like that suffered by the man in the parable, who was beaten by robbers and left abandoned on the road.”


Is that Facebook or the NSA he's referring to? Or both? You be the judge.

Francis wraps up with a call for media to facilitate what he calls “encounters” that bring us closer to one another and to God.

“It is not enough to be passersby on the digital highways, simply 'connected',” he writes. “Connections need to grow into true encounters. We cannot live apart, closed in on ourselves. We need to love and to be loved. We need tenderness. Media strategies do not ensure beauty, goodness and truth in communication. The world of media also has to be concerned with humanity, it too is called to show tenderness.”

That last remark might sound like criticism of a site with the motto “Biting the hand that feeds IT”. Sometimes you've got to be cruel to be kind. ®

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"Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes."

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What? There's nothing weird about having a pet housefly. He smuggles cigarettes for me.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2014 6:18 pm 
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Pope makes a phone call and a call on the nature of communion

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Pope Francis reportedly told a woman “living in sin” with a divorced man that she is free to take Holy Communion, in what appears to be a significant departure from Catholic teaching.

Jacqui Lisbona, who is from the Pope’s homeland of Argentina, wrote to the Jesuit pontiff to tell him that she had been refused Communion by her local priest, who objected to the fact that she was married to a previously divorced man.

Prohibited from marrying in church, they had instead opted for a civil ceremony.

“[The priest] told me that every time I went home, I was going back to living in sin,” she said.

In her letter, Mrs Lisbona, who has two teenage daughters with her current husband after 19 years of marriage, said she was worried that if she did take Communion – perhaps in a church where she was not known to the priest - she would be “violating Church rules”.

The Pope, who since being elected 13 months ago has established a reputation for phoning ordinary Catholics out of the blue in response to letters they have sent, called her at her home in the central region of Santa Fe on Easter Monday.

He reportedly told her: “A divorcee who takes communion is not doing anything wrong.”

In a rebuke to the local priest who refused her the Sacrament, he added: “There are some priests who are more papist than the Pope.”

When asked whether the remarks attributed to the Pope were correct, a Vatican spokesman told The Telegraph: “We would neither confirm nor deny that - this was a private telephone call made by the Holy Father and we would not divulge the details.”

But the reported remarks were in line with the position taken by Pope Francis in recent months – that the Church should treat divorcees and their partners with more compassion.

The remarks may indicate that the Pope, who has struck a much more inclusive tone than his predecessor, Benedict XVI, on issues ranging from homosexuality to same-sex unions, is testing the water with the intention of changing the Church’s position.

The surprising exchange was first revealed by Mrs Lisbona’s husband, Julio Sabetta, who said he first answered the call from the Pope, before handing the phone to his wife.

“One of the most wonderful things in my life has just happened – receiving a telephone call from none other than Papa Francesco,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

“We’re Catholics, we believe in God, and though we don’t go to Mass every Sunday, every evening we thank the Lord for our family and our work,” Mr Sabetta, a pastry chef, said.

The phone call from the Pope came six months after Mrs Lisbona sent her letter to him. Introducing himself as “Father Bergoglio” – his given name is Jorge Mario Bergoglio – the South American pontiff said he was sorry it had taken him so long to make the call.

“It is an issue we are discussing in the Vatican, because a divorcee who takes communion is not doing anything wrong,” the Pope reportedly said during a conversation lasting 10 minutes.

The Catholic Church currently maintains that unless a first marriage is annulled, Catholics who remarry cannot receive Communion because they are essentially living in sin and committing adultery.

Such annulments are often impossible to obtain, or can take years to process, a problem that has left many Catholics feeling rejected by the Church.

Since being elected in March last year, Pope Francis has on several occasions called for a more merciful approach to the problem.

In February he said divorced and separated couples should not be excluded from Church activities, in remarks which also raised speculation that he may one day lift the ban on divorcees receiving Communion.

He told a group of Polish bishops that priests should “ask themselves how to help (divorced couples), so that they don't feel excluded from the mercy of God, the fraternal love of other Christians, and the Church's concern for their salvation.”

He has also called on the Church hierarchy to re-evaluate the way that priests and bishops can engage with the children of same-sex couples and divorcees, urging them to "consider how to proclaim Jesus Christ to a generation that is changing".

The push for a more inclusive approach towards divorced Catholics has been led by Cardinal Walter Kasper, a German theologian, who has called for "openings and changes" in how the Church confronts the issue.


I have to agree.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2014 11:39 pm 
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Pope Francis prays for peace with Israeli, Palestinian leaders

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Pope Francis made an unprecedented bid for peace in the Holy Land on Sunday by hosting a prayer meeting at the Vatican with the presidents of Israel and Palestine Authority.

Weeks after the last round of U.S.-backed peace talks failed, Francis welcomed Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas to join him, alongside Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual head of Orthodox Christians, for an evening of prayer and music in the Vatican gardens.

An earlier version of this post said Pope Francis hosted a prayer meeting at the Vatican for the presidents of Israel and Palestine. The meeting was with the presidents of Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

------------

More than once we have been on the verge of peace, but the evil one, employing a variety of means, has succeeded in blocking it.
- Pope Francis
In a strongly worded speech, Francis told his guests the event was a “great sign of brotherhood which you offer as children of Abraham,” and blamed the failure of talks to date on the devil, claiming, “More than once we have been on the verge of peace, but the evil one, employing a variety of means, has succeeded in blocking it.”

Francis, who extended the invitation during his trip to the Holy Land last month, was praised by Peres as a “bridge builder of brotherhood and peace.” The meeting, Peres said in his speech, was “momentous,” adding that Israelis and Palestinians were “aching for peace.”

“Here we are, O God, inclined to peace,” said Abbas.

The evening got underway as Francis hugged Peres and Abbas, then held separate, brief meetings with each at the residence where he lives and works at the Vatican. Peres and Abbas then met and kissed before the trio, along with Bartholomew, mounted a minibus to go to the garden. Video footage inside the vehicle showed the men smiling and joking.

A group of clerics and representatives of Christianity, Judaism and Islam awaited them on the lawn of the garden, where a string ensemble played Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings as the religious leaders arrived — music made famous by the antiwar film "Platoon."

Prayers were then said by representatives of the three faiths in order of the age of the religions, starting with Judaism, then Christianity, then Islam, as Francis, Peres and Abbas listened, sitting side by side. For each faith, three prayers were said — interspersed with music — the first thanking God for creation, the second asking forgiveness for divisions between people, and the last asking God to create peace in the Holy Land.

The meeting marked a contrast to the papacy of Francis’ predecessor, Benedict, who enraged Muslims with comments made at the University of Regensburg in Germany in 2006 that were perceived as being critical of Islam.

At the end of the ceremony, the leaders and Bartholomew planted an olive tree as a symbol of peace, and headed for private talks in a Renaissance villa in the gardens.

Since Francis made what he has described as a “spontaneous” personal foray into international diplomacy by setting up the meeting, Vatican officials have been stressing that the event was not a bid to push peace talks but a “time out” from negotiations, with prayer potentially sparking a desire for peace.

Francis himself said on the plane back from the Holy Land, “I do not feel qualified to say ‘Do this or this or this,’ because that would be crazy on my part.”

In the run-up to the meeting, Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, a church official in charge of Catholic sites in the Holy Land, said “No one is presumptuous enough to think peace will break out on Monday.”

But on Sunday, ahead of the event, Francis said the Catholic Church should be able to "shake things up."

The event required delicate diplomacy. Francis admitted that he failed to host the meeting in the Holy Land, and the Vatican gardens were chosen because they were seen as the most neutral spot in the city-state, free of the Christian symbolism that could offend the other two faiths.

The evening touched on disputes over control of Jerusalem. In his speech, Peres said: “The holy city of Jerusalem is the beating heart of the Jewish people,” while Abbas referred to “our holy city Jerusalem.” The Palestinian leader also asked God to “alleviate the suffering of my people in the homeland and diaspora.”

As the strings struck up at the end of the event, the three leaders and Bartholomew embraced and kissed.

Before the event, Peres, 90, said, “I hope the event will contribute to advancing peace between the parties, and in the world,” but Peres steps down next month and negotiations are being steered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who did not attend the event and who has declined to deal with the Palestinian government, which is backed by the Islamic group Hamas.

In comments made to paramilitary officers in Jerusalem on Sunday, Netanyahu appeared to downplay the benefit of praying for peace, stating, "For thousands of years, the people of Israel have been praying for peace daily. But until peace comes, we will continue to strengthen you so that you can continue to defend the state of Israel. Ultimately, that is what will guarantee our future and will also bring peace," he said.

Francis appeared optimistic. Tweeting on Saturday, he wrote: "Prayer is all-powerful. Let us use it to bring peace to the Middle East and peace to the world."


Couldn't hurt.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 19, 2014 12:09 am 
The Artist formerly known as Rhoenix
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This is something I didn't think I'd say, but I'm glad to be saying it.

Pope Francis is making some momentous moves, and while I might not agree completely with all his choices, I definitely respect his reasons for those choices. In the end, he's choosing to attempt to unite people, to heal old wounds, and to help people want to try to be better people, to create better solutions. All of these things I heartily respect.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2014 3:02 am 
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Pope Excommunicates Mob While Standing In Mob Stronghold

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Pope Francis has condemned the mafia's "adoration of evil" at a mass in Calabria, the southern Italian base of the 'Ndrangheta crime syndicate.

The Pope said the gangsters were effectively "excommunicated" - or banished - in the eyes of the Church.

Earlier, the Pope visited the jailed father of a three-year-old boy who had been killed in an apparent mob hit over an unpaid drug debt.

The Pope has repeatedly spoken out against organised crime and corruption.

His latest condemnation, delivered before a crowd of tens of thousands, described the 'Ndrangheta as the "adoration of evil and contempt of the common good".

"Those who in their lives follow this path of evil, as mafiosi do, are not in communion with God," the Reuters news agency quoted him as saying. "They are excommunicated."

Meeting with prisoners
The 'Ndrangheta is a network of clans in the "toe" of Italy that dominates the country's cocaine trade.

It is one of the most powerful mafia organisations in Italy, along with the Sicilian Cosa Nostra and the Neapolitan Camorra.

Earlier on Saturday, the Pope visited a prison to meet the jailed relatives of "Coco" Campolongo, a three-year-old boy who was killed along with his grandfather in an execution-style shooting in Calabria.

"It must never again happen that a child suffers in this way," the Pope said.

The Pope also met hundreds of other inmates at Castrovillari prison, many of whom are serving time for mafia-related crimes.

The AFP news agency reports that many of the prisoners wept as the Pope greeted them.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2014 2:28 pm 
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Big Popeing Continues, Cardinal of Ireland fired

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The Vatican has announced that it has accepted the resignation of the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Seán Brady.

Last month, Dr Brady, who has been the leader of Ireland's Catholics for 18 years, confirmed that he offered his resignation to Pope Francis in July.

His tenure had been beset by clerical child sex abuse scandals and claims that he helped to cover up one case.

Archbishop Eamon Martin has been announced as his successor.

Pope Francis has appointed him Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland.

He was appointed as coadjutor archbishop of Armagh in January 2013 and ordained in April 2013.

Cardinal Brady resisted calls to resign in 2010, when it emerged that when he was a young priest in 1975, he attended meetings during which two teenage sex abuse victims were sworn to secrecy after they alleged they had been abused by Fr Brendan Smyth.

All cardinals are obliged to offer to resign when they reach their 75th birthday, but the Pope decides whether to accept it.

'Privilege'
Dr Brady said he was "pleased" that Pope Francis had accepted his resignation and spoke about some of the highlights of his time in the church.

Jump media playerMedia player helpOut of media player. Press enter to return or tab to continue.
Archbishop Martin said he genuinely felt "honoured to assume the role of 'shepherd' in the Archdiocese of Armagh"
"It has been my privilege to have been appointed a bishop by Pope St John Paul II, to have worked closely with Pope Benedict XVI, and to have taken part in the conclave that elected Pope Francis - that conclave has been the highlight of my life," he said.

"I am looking forward to retirement and, no doubt, it will take me some time to get used to it, but it will be good to have more time for family, friends and to follow the football."

Archbishop Martin said he genuinely felt "honoured to assume the role of 'shepherd' in the Archdiocese of Armagh".

Continue reading the main story
Seán Brady's church journey

Sean Brady
Christened as John B Brady, he attended St Patrick's College in Cavan before entering the seminary at Maynooth, County Kildare.

After his ordination in 1964, he returned to Cavan to teach in his old school, and acted as a part-time secretary to the Bishop of Kilmore, the late Bishop Francis McKiernan.

He moved to Italy in 1980, were he was appointed vice-rector and later rector of the Irish College in Rome, before returning to Ireland to work as a parish priest in Cavan.

In February 1995, he was ordained coadjutor (assistant) Archbishop of Armagh, a post given to the man earmarked to succeed the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

Following the retirement of Cardinal Cahal Daly, Seán Brady became archbishop of Armagh and primate of all Ireland in October 1996.

He was created a cardinal in November 2007.

"No doubt many challenges lie ahead of me, but I look forward with trust and hope in God to sharing with others the joy of the Gospel," he said.

Brendan Smyth was at the centre of one of the first paedophile priest scandals to rock the Catholic Church on the island.

The Northern Ireland-born cleric, who was later convicted of more than 100 charges of child sexual abuse, died in prison in 1997.

Public apology
However, instead of going to the civil authorities about the teenagers' allegations against him in 1975, clerics, including Seán Brady, took evidence from the pair and asked them to sign vows of silence.

Cardinal Brady apologised publicly for his role in mishandling the claims against Smyth, and described himself as a "wounded healer" who would, in future, prioritise the safety of children in the church.

However, in 2012, a BBC investigation into the case revealed that Dr Brady had failed to ensure the safety of other victims of Fr Brendan Smyth, despite being given their names and addresses by one of the two teenagers who had reported the abuse in 1975.

In his response to the BBC investigation, Dr Brady said he had been asked by his then bishop to record the allegations, and described his role as merely that of a "note taker".

Cardinal Brady added that as a priest in 1975 he had "absolutely no authority over Brendan Smyth" and was "shocked, appalled and outraged" when he discovered in the mid-1990s that Brendan Smyth had gone on to abuse others.

He apologised to one of the abused teenagers in May 2012, but said he had no intention of stepping aside.

In addition to his own personal difficulties, the cardinal has presided over the church at a time of immense and turbulent change, with falling church attendances, dwindling ordinations and strained relations between the church and state authorities.

A series of government-backed inquiries in the Republic of Ireland, including the Ferns Report, the Ryan Report and the Murphy report, laid bare the extent of clerical child abuse over many decades.

Public outrage at the abuse was compounded by evidence of church authorities' attempts to cover it up to protect the reputation of the institution.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2014 5:25 pm 
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And the housecleaning continues apace. I am compelled to give Pope Francis props for his sweeping skills here.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2014 10:04 pm 
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"Pope Stops Vatican Scroll Trade"

Pope Francis has ordered souvenir shops to end a profitable trade in Vatican scrolls, completing a process said to have been started by his predecessor.

The ornate parchments, bearing the seal of the Vatican, have been sold as gifts or to mark major church events such as weddings, baptisms and ordinations.

From next year, the scrolls will only be sold directly by a Vatican website.

The move is expected to divert profits away from the souvenir shops, to charities chosen by the Vatican.

Under the current system, the shop-owners collect the bulk of the profits from sales of the parchments.

The scrolls are sourced from the Vatican for as little as 3 euros (£2; $4) and can be sold to the public for up to 50 euros.

The parchments bought online under the new system will cost less. However, all the profits will be given to charity, the Vatican says.

The first steps to end the souvenir shops' trade in scrolls were taken four years ago by Pope Benedict, according to the Italian newspaper, La Stampa.

Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the official in charge of the Pope's charity office, had informed shopkeepers in April this year that their license to sell the scrolls would not be renewed in 2015, the newspaper reports.

Italian news agency Ansa says the owners of souvenir shops have complained about the order, whose existence was confirmed last week.


Up to 50Euro for a $4 piece of paper? Yeah, that's a racket alright.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2014 11:20 pm 
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"Pope breaks taboo by marrying couples who lived 'in sin'"

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A single mother, people who have been married before and couples who have been living together "in sin" were married by Pope Francis in a taboo-challenging ceremony at the Vatican on Sunday.

In another signal of the openness of his papacy, Francis asked to marry 40 people from different social backgrounds who would be a realistic sample of modern couples.

Popes very rarely perform marriages -- the last one was in 2000.

Marriage "is not an easy road, it's sometimes a contentious trip, but that's life", the pope told the couples, both young and old, as their families gathered for the solemn two-hour ceremony.

"It's normal that couples fight. That always happens, but don't end the day without making peace, even a small gesture is enough," said the pontiff, who donned a red robe for the occasion rather than his usual white.

One of the couples he married was single mother Gabriella and her partner Guido, whose previous marriage was annulled by an ecclesiastical tribunal.

The last time a pope performed a marriage was under the leadership of John Paul II in 2000, and before that in 1994.

It comes three weeks before a major synod of the Catholc Church will discuss the divisive issues of marriage, divorce and conception.

The church ban on allowing divorcees who have remarried to receive communion is one of the key topics up for debate, and resolving deep divisions over the issue inside the church is seen as a key test of Francis' leadership.

Francis has shown himself more open than his predecessors on the subject of marriage, and has spoken of more realistic attitude to social problems, raising the issue of broken marriages and abandoned women.

Last January he baptised the child of a single mother in the Sistine Chapel along with the daughter of a couple who had not been married in a church.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 8:13 am 
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I'm starting to wonder if this Pope has actually been hired to assassinate Catholic Church leadership, and has chosen apoplectic fits as his primary weapon.

And now I'm just picturing the Weapon of Choice music video with the Pope either in place of or dancing with Christopher Walken.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2014 11:22 pm 
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BBC

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Pope Francis has opened a gathering of more than 200 senior Roman Catholic bishops by urging them not to impose what he called "intolerable moral burdens" on believers.

The gathering, known as a synod, is discussing the Church's position on controversial issues.

They will be joined by lay Catholics to debate abortion, contraception, homosexuality and divorce.

The synod will last two weeks and no immediate changes are expected.

At a Mass opening the gathering, the Pope said he hoped bishops would participate freely in the discussions.

"Synod gatherings are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent," Pope Francis said. Rather, it's an opportunity to "work generously with authentic freedom and humble creativity," he said.

Previous synods have had set agendas, with proceedings tightly controlled by the powerful cardinals of the Roman Curia, the central government of the Church, correspondents say.

On Saturday, Pope Francis led crowds in the Vatican's St Peter's Square in a vigil to prepare for the Synod
The synod will focus particularly on issues related to family life.

Last year, a global survey launched by Pope Francis suggested that the majority of Catholics rejected Church teaching on issues such as sex and contraception.

On Saturday, the Pontiff said he hoped Bishops would respond to the "epochal changes" that families were living through.

As one of the world's oldest religious institutions, the Catholic Church is in no hurry to change its teachings, says the BBC's religious affairs correspondent Caroline Wyatt in Rome.

Despite that, many Catholics are hoping the meetings might lead to some change, our correspondent adds.

After these two weeks of debate, the Synod will gather again in a year's time to continue its review.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 4:38 pm 
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NYPost

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How about holding your Sweet Sixteen at the sweet Sistine?

Pope Francis is allowing the endangered Sistine Chapel to be rented out for a corporate event, with the proceeds to benefit the needy — while at the same time cracking down on visitors to the world’s most famous church.

Porsche will be the first to hold an outside fundraiser amid Michelangelo’s fragile frescoes. The luxury German auto giant is offering an exclusive tour of Rome, including a concert inside the chapel, at a cost of more than 4,000 euros ($5,100) a pop.
At the same, the Vatican said Thursday that it would cap the annual number of visitors at 6 million to protect the Renaissance masterpieces from the tourist hordes.

Dust, sweat and human breath have damaged the 500-year-old paintings, including the famous creation scene of God’s outstretched arm giving life to Adam.

Antonio Paolucci, head of the Vatican Museums, said “radical intervention” was needed to preserve the paintings, prompting the Vatican to install new climate and lighting systems to cut down on heat, humidity and dust.

“I am convinced that the Vatican Museums, in particular the Sistine Chapel, have reached the maximum number of visitors possible,” Paolucci said at a news conference to introduce the new lighting and climate systems, according to Reuters.
While Porsche is touting the event on its website, Paolucci downplayed suggestions that the chapel would be regularly rented to outsiders.

“The Sistine Chapel can never be rented because it is not a commercial place,” he said Thursday, according to a US Catholic report.


A novel action which I think only Pope Francis could have gotten away with. Note: I'll be posting about the recent Catholic meeting of Bishops soonish.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 7:08 am 
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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Pope Francis has excommunicated a pedophile Argentine priest, a move applauded by advocates for victims of clerical abuse.

Jose Mercau was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2011 after admitting to sexually abusing four teenagers. He spent 15 days in jail and was then held in a monastery in Buenos Aires province until he was released last March.

The pope's decision was made public Wednesday by the bishopric of San Isidro on the outskirts of the Argentine capital.

Many welcomed the news, but victims and advocates of clergy sex abuse said the Roman Catholic Church still needs to be more determined, effective and severe when it comes to punishing such crimes in Argentina.

"The church still has a long way to go," said Sebastian Cuattromo, director of an advocacy group called Adultxs for the Rights of Infancy.

The policies of Pope Francis "are being carried out because of the long fight by the victims," said Cuattromo, who was sexually abused by a priest in Buenos Aires at age 13.

His advocacy group includes several adults who were abused by clergy when they were underage and who now try to raise awareness and protect children from predator priests. Cuattromo made his case public in 2012 after the priest who abused him was sentenced to 13 years in prison. "I've felt abandoned by the church," he said.

Abuse victims and their advocates have long demanded that higher-ups be made to answer for the decades-long cover-ups of rape and molestation of youngsters in a scandal that has rocked the church and dismayed its worldwide flock of 1.2 billion.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis begged forgiveness in his first meeting with Catholics sexually abused by members of the clergy and went further than any of his predecessors by promising to hold bishops accountable for their handling of pedophile priests.

The decision to punish Mercau "has taken way too long," said Patricia Gordon, a psychologist for EnRed, a group that focuses on victims of violence and sex abuse. "But it's still important because of the reparation to the victims, meaning that their words are taken as the truth."

Both Cuattromo and Gordon still criticized the Vatican for failing to excommunicate Julio Cesar Grassi, a pedophile priest who was sentenced to 15 years in jail in 2009.


This guy didn't just get kicked out of the priesthood, he got kicked out of the Catholic faith. He literally can't do anything harsher.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 7:42 am 
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Not without invoking the McManus brothers, at least.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 10, 2014 12:26 pm 
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Boondock Saints 3: Our Father Who Art in Bullet Time...

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 11:48 pm 
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Pope's speech to the European Parliament.

Quote:
Mr President and Vice Presidents,

Members of the European Parliament,

All associated with the work of this Institution,

Dear Friends,

I thank you for inviting me to address this institution which is fundamental to the life of the European Union, and for giving me this opportunity to speak, through you, to the more than five-hundred million citizens whom you represent in the twenty-eight Member States. I am especially grateful to you, Mr President, for your warm words of welcome in the name of the entire assembly.

My visit comes more than a quarter of a century after that of Pope John Paul II. Since then, much has changed throughout Europe and the world as a whole. The opposing blocs which then divided the continent in two no longer exist, and gradually the hope is being realized that “Europe, endowed with sovereign and free institutions, will one day reach the full dimensions that geography, and even more, history have given it”.[1]

As the European Union has expanded, the world itself has become more complex and ever changing; increasingly interconnected and global, it has, as a consequence, become less and less “Eurocentric”. Despite a larger and stronger Union, Europe seems to give the impression of being somewhat elderly and haggard, feeling less and less a protagonist in a world which frequently regards it with aloofness, mistrust and even, at times, suspicion.

In addressing you today, I would like, as a pastor, to offer a message of hope and encouragement to all the citizens of Europe.

It is a message of hope, based on the confidence that our problems can become powerful forces for unity in working to overcome all those fears which Europe – together with the entire world – is presently experiencing. It is a message of hope in the Lord, who turns evil into good and death into life.

It is a message of encouragement to return to the firm conviction of the founders of the European Union, who envisioned a future based on the capacity to work together in bridging divisions and in fostering peace and fellowship between all the peoples of this continent. At the heart of this ambitious political project was confidence in man, not so much as a citizen or an economic agent, but in man, in men and women as persons endowed with transcendent dignity.

I feel bound to stress the close bond between these two words: “dignity” and “transcendent”.

“Dignity” was the pivotal concept in the process of rebuilding which followed the Second World War. Our recent past has been marked by the concern to protect human dignity, in constrast to the manifold instances of violence and discrimination which, even in Europe, took place in the course of the centuries. Recognition of the importance of human rights came about as the result of a lengthy process, entailing much suffering and sacrifice, which helped shape an awareness of the unique worth of each individual human person. This awareness was grounded not only in historical events, but above all in European thought, characterized as it is by an enriching encounter whose “distant springs are many, coming from Greece and Rome, from Celtic, Germanic and Slavic sources, and from Christianity which profoundly shaped them”,[2] thus forging the very concept of the “person”.

Today, the promotion of human rights is central to the commitment of the European Union to advance the dignity of the person, both within the Union and in its relations with other countries. This is an important and praiseworthy commitment, since there are still too many situations in which human beings are treated as objects whose conception, configuration and utility can be programmed, and who can then be discarded when no longer useful, due to weakness, illness or old age.

In the end, what kind of dignity is there without the possibility of freely expressing one’s thought or professing one’s religious faith? What dignity can there be without a clear juridical framework which limits the rule of force and enables the rule of law to prevail over the power of tyranny? What dignity can men and women ever enjoy if they are subjected to all types of discrimination? What dignity can a person ever hope to find when he or she lacks food and the bare essentials for survival and, worse yet, when they lack the work which confers dignity?

Promoting the dignity of the person means recognizing that he or she possesses inalienable rights which no one may take away arbitrarily, much less for the sake of economic interests.

At the same time, however, care must be taken not to fall into certain errors which can arise from a misunderstanding of the concept of human rights and from its misuse. Today there is a tendency to claim ever broader individual rights; underlying this is a conception of the human person as detached from all social and anthropological contexts, as if the person were a “monad” (μονάς), increasingly unconcerned with other surrounding “monads”. The equally essential and complementary concept of duty no longer seems to be linked to such a concept of rights. As a result, the rights of the individual are upheld, without regard for the fact that each human being is part of a social context wherein his or her rights and duties are bound up with those of others and with the common good of society itself.

I believe, therefore, that it is vital to develop a culture of human rights which wisely links the individual, or better, the personal aspect, to that of the common good, of the “all of us” made up of individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society.[3] In fact, unless the rights of each individual are harmoniously ordered to the greater good, those rights will end up being considered limitless and consequently will become a source of conflicts and violence.

To speak of transcendent human dignity thus means appealing to human nature, to our innate capacity to distinguish good from evil, to that “compass” deep within our hearts, which God has impressed upon all creation.[4] Above all, it means regarding human beings not as absolutes, but as beings in relation. In my view, one of the most common diseases in Europe today is the loneliness typical of those who have no connection with others. This is especially true of the elderly, who are often abandoned to their fate, and also in the young who lack clear points of reference and opportunities for the future. It is also seen in the many poor who dwell in our cities and in the disorientation of immigrants who came here seeking a better future.

This loneliness has become more acute as a result of the economic crisis, whose effects continue to have tragic consequences for the life of society. In recent years, as the European Union has expanded, there has been growing mistrust on the part of citizens towards institutions considered to be aloof, engaged in laying down rules perceived as insensitive to individual peoples, if not downright harmful. In many quarters we encounter a general impression of weariness and aging, of a Europe which is now a “grandmother”, no longer fertile and vibrant. As a result, the great ideas which once inspired Europe seem to have lost their attraction, only to be replaced by the bureaucratic technicalities of its institutions.

Together with this, we encounter certain rather selfish lifestyles, marked by an opulence which is no longer sustainable and frequently indifferent to the world around us, and especially to the poorest of the poor. To our dismay we see technical and economic questions dominating political debate, to the detriment of genuine concern for human beings.[5] Men and women risk being reduced to mere cogs in a machine that treats them as items of consumption to be exploited, with the result that – as is so tragically apparent – whenever a human life no longer proves useful for that machine, it is discarded with few qualms, as in the case of the terminally ill, the elderly who are abandoned and uncared for, and children who are killed in the womb.

This is the great mistake made “when technology is allowed to take over”;[6] the result is a confusion between ends and means”.[7] It is the inevitable consequence of a “throwaway culture” and an uncontrolled consumerism. Upholding the dignity of the person means instead acknowledging the value of human life, which is freely given us and hence cannot be an object of trade or commerce. As members of this Parliament, you are called to a great mission which may at times seem an impossible one: to tend to the needs of individuals and peoples. To tend to those in need takes strength and tenderness, effort and generosity in the midst of a functionalistic and privatized mindset which inexorably leads to a “throwaway culture”. To care for individuals and peoples in need means protecting memory and hope; it means taking responsibility for the present with its situations of utter marginalization and anguish, and being capable of bestowing dignity upon it.[8]

How, then, can hope in the future be restored, so that, beginning with the younger generation, there can be a rediscovery of that confidence needed to pursue the great ideal of a united and peaceful Europe, a Europe which is creative and resourceful, respectful of rights and conscious of its duties?

To answer this question, allow me to use an image. One of the most celebrated frescoes of Raphael is found in the Vatican and depicts the so-called “School of Athens”. Plato and Aristotle are in the centre. Plato’s finger is pointed upward, to the world of ideas, to the sky, to heaven as we might say. Aristotle holds his hand out before him, towards the viewer, towards the world, concrete reality. This strikes me as a very apt image of Europe and her history, made up of the constant interplay between heaven and earth, where the sky suggests that openness to the transcendent – to God – which has always distinguished the peoples of Europe, while the earth represents Europe’s practical and concrete ability to confront situations and problems.

The future of Europe depends on the recovery of the vital connection between these two elements. A Europe which is no longer open to the transcendent dimension of life is a Europe which risks slowly losing its own soul and that “humanistic spirit” which it still loves and defends.

Taking as a starting point this opening to the transcendent, I would like to reaffirm the centrality of the human person, which otherwise is at the mercy of the whims and the powers of the moment. I consider to be fundamental not only the legacy that Christianity has offered in the past to the social and cultural formation of the continent, but above all the contribution which it desires to offer today, and in the future, to Europe’s growth. This contribution does not represent a threat to the secularity of states or to the independence of the institutions of the European Union, but rather an enrichment. This is clear from the ideals which shaped Europe from the beginning, such as peace, subsidiarity and reciprocal solidarity, and a humanism centred on respect for the dignity of the human person.

I wish, then, to reiterate the readiness of the Holy See and the Catholic Church, through the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (COMECE), to engage in meaningful, open and transparent dialogue with the institutions of the European Union. I am likewise convinced that a Europe which is capable of appreciating its religious roots and of grasping their fruitfulness and potential, will be all the more immune to the many forms of extremism spreading in the world today, not least as a result of the great vacuum of ideals which we are currently witnessing in the West, since “it is precisely man’s forgetfulness of God, and his failure to give him glory, which gives rise to violence”.[9]

Here I cannot fail to recall the many instances of injustice and persecution which daily afflict religious minorities, and Christians in particular, in various parts of our world. Communities and individuals today find themselves subjected to barbaric acts of violence: they are evicted from their homes and native lands, sold as slaves, killed, beheaded, crucified or burned alive, under the shameful and complicit silence of so many.

The motto of the European Union is United in Diversity. Unity, however, does not mean uniformity of political, economic and cultural life, or ways of thinking. Indeed, all authentic unity draws from the rich diversities which make it up: in this sense it is like a family, which is all the more united when each of its members is free to be fully himself or herself. I consider Europe as a family of peoples who will sense the closeness of the institutions of the Union when these latter are able wisely to combine the desired ideal of unity with the diversity proper to each people, cherishing particular traditions, acknowledging its past history and its roots, liberated from so many manipulations and phobias. Affirming the centrality of the human person means, above all, allowing all to express freely their individuality and their creativity, both as individuals and as peoples.

At the same time, the specific features of each one represent an authentic richness to the degree that they are placed at the service of all. The proper configuration of the European Union must always be respected, based as it is on the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, so that mutual assistance can prevail and progress can be made on the basis of mutual trust.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Members of the European Parliament, within this dynamic of unity and particularity, yours is the responsibility of keeping democracy alive for the peoples of Europe. It is no secret that a conception of unity seen as uniformity strikes at the vitality of the democratic system, weakening the rich, fruitful and constructive interplay of organizations and political parties. This leads to the risk of living in a world of ideas, of mere words, of images, of sophistry… and to end up confusing the reality of democracy with a new political nominalism. Keeping democracy alive in Europe requires avoiding the many globalizing tendencies to dilute reality: namely, angelic forms of purity, dictatorships of relativism, brands of ahistorical fundamentalism, ethical systems lacking kindness, and intellectual discourse bereft of wisdom[10].

Keeping democracies alive is a challenge in the present historic moment. The true strength of our democracies – understood as expressions of the political will of the people – must not be allowed to collapse under the pressure of multinational interests which are not universal, which weaken them and turn them into uniform systems of economic power at the service of unseen empires. This is one of the challenges which history sets before you today.

To give Europe hope means more than simply acknowledging the centrality of the human person; it also implies nurturing the gifts of each man and woman. It means investing in individuals and in those settings in which their talents are shaped and flourish. The first area surely is that of education, beginning with the family, the fundamental cell and most precious element of any society. The family, united, fruitful and indissoluble, possesses the elements fundamental for fostering hope in the future. Without this solid basis, the future ends up being built on sand, with dire social consequences. Then too, stressing the importance of the family not only helps to give direction and hope to new generations, but also to many of our elderly, who are often forced to live alone and are effectively abandoned because there is no longer the warmth of a family hearth able to accompany and support them.

Alongside the family, there are the various educational institutes: schools and universities. Education cannot be limited to providing technical expertise alone. Rather, it should encourage the more complex process of assisting the human person to grow in his or her totality. Young people today are asking for a suitable and complete education which can enable them to look to the future with hope instead of disenchantment. There is so much creative potential in Europe in the various fields of scientific research, some of which have yet to be fully explored. We need only think, for example, of alternative sources of energy, the development of which will assist in the protection of the environment.

Europe has always been in the vanguard of efforts to promote ecology. Our earth needs constant concern and attention. Each of us has a personal responsibility to care for creation, this precious gift which God has entrusted to us. This means, on the one hand, that nature is at our disposal, to enjoy and use properly. Yet it also means that we are not its masters. Stewards, but not masters. We need to love and respect nature, but “instead we are often guided by the pride of dominating, possessing, manipulating, exploiting; we do not ‘preserve’ the earth, we do not respect it, we do not consider it as a freely-given gift to look after”.[11] Respect for the environment, however, means more than not destroying it; it also means using it for good purposes. I am thinking above all of the agricultural sector, which provides sustenance and nourishment to our human family. It is intolerable that millions of people around the world are dying of hunger while tons of food are discarded each day from our tables. Respect for nature also calls for recognizing that man himself is a fundamental part of it. Along with an environmental ecology, there is also need of that human ecology which consists in respect for the person, which I have wanted to emphasize in addressing you today.

The second area in which people’s talents flourish is labour. The time has come to promote policies which create employment, but above all there is a need to restore dignity to labour by ensuring proper working conditions. This implies, on the one hand, finding new ways of joining market flexibility with the need for stability and security on the part of workers; these are indispensable for their human development. It also implies favouring a suitable social context geared not to the exploitation of persons, but to ensuring, precisely through labour, their ability to create a family and educate their children.

Likewise, there needs to be a united response to the question of migration. We cannot allow the Mediterranean to become a vast cemetery! The boats landing daily on the shores of Europe are filled with men and women who need acceptance and assistance. The absence of mutual support within the European Union runs the risk of encouraging particularistic solutions to the problem, solutions which fail to take into account the human dignity of immigrants, and thus contribute to slave labour and continuing social tensions. Europe will be able to confront the problems associated with immigration only if it is capable of clearly asserting its own cultural identity and enacting adequate legislation to protect the rights of European citizens and to ensure the acceptance of immigrants. Only if it is capable of adopting fair, courageous and realistic policies which can assist the countries of origin in their own social and political development and in their efforts to resolve internal conflicts – the principal cause of this phenomenon – rather than adopting policies motivated by self-interest, which increase and feed such conflicts. We need to take action against the causes and not only the effects.

Mr President, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Awareness of one’s own identity is also necessary for entering into a positive dialogue with the States which have asked to become part of the Union in the future. I am thinking especially of those in the Balkans, for which membership in the European Union could be a response to the desire for peace in a region which has suffered greatly from past conflicts. Awareness of one’s own identity is also indispensable for relations with other neighbouring countries, particularly with those bordering the Mediterranean, many of which suffer from internal conflicts, the pressure of religious fundamentalism and the reality of global terrorism.

Upon you, as legislators, it is incumbent to protect and nurture Europe’s identity, so that its citizens can experience renewed confidence in the institutions of the Union and in its underlying project of peace and friendship. Knowing that “the more the power of men and women increases, the greater is individual and collective responsibility”,[12] I encourage you to work to make Europe rediscover the best of itself.

An anonymous second-century author wrote that “Christians are to the world what the soul is to the body”.[13] The function of the soul is to support the body, to be its conscience and its historical memory. A two-thousand-year-old history links Europe and Christianity. It is a history not free of conflicts and errors, but one constantly driven by the desire to work for the good of all. We see this in the beauty of our cities, and even more in the beauty of the many works of charity and constructive cooperation throughout this continent. This history, in large part, must still be written. It is our present and our future. It is our identity. Europe urgently needs to recover its true features in order to grow, as its founders intended, in peace and harmony, since it is not yet free of conflicts.

Dear Members of the European Parliament, the time has come to work together in building a Europe which revolves not around the economy, but around the sacredness of the human person, around inalienable values. In building a Europe which courageously embraces its past and confidently looks to its future in order fully to experience the hope of its present. The time has come for us to abandon the idea of a Europe which is fearful and self-absorbed, in order to revive and encourage a Europe of leadership, a repository of science, art, music, human values and faith as well. A Europe which contemplates the heavens and pursues lofty ideals. A Europe which cares for, defends and protects man, every man and woman. A Europe which bestrides the earth surely and securely, a precious point of reference for all humanity!

Thank you!

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 12:49 am 
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I like this Pope.

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PostPosted: Mon Dec 01, 2014 9:15 am 
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I really like this Pope. Did you see where he and the Orthodox Ecumencial Patriarch both gave speeches in Turkey, calling for aid to the pisplaced and for a stand against extremists?

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 24, 2014 12:22 am 
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USAToday

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Pope Francis launched a blistering attack on the Vatican bureaucracy Monday, outlining a "catalog of illnesses" plaguing the church's central administration, including "spiritual Alzheimer's" and gossipy cliques.

The pope's traditional Christmas greeting to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See was less an exchange of warm wishes than a laundry list of what the pontiff called the "ailments of the Curia" that he wants to cure.

In a critique that left many of the assembled clerics clearly uncomfortable, the 15 ailments in Francis' "catalog of illnesses" reflected the take-no-prisoners approach he promised when he was elected nearly two years ago as an outsider with little direct experience in Rome.

"The Curia is called upon to improve itself, always improve itself and grow in communion, holiness and knowledge to fully realize its mission," the pope said.

Yet like every body, like every human body, it is exposed to illnesses, malfunctioning, infirmity. They are illnesses and temptations that weaken our service to God."

In a separate address to Vatican staff later, Francis begged pardon for the "shortcomings" of senior church leaders, as well as the "several scandals" that had "caused so much harm," without specifying which scandals he had in mind.

The pope denounced the lust for power of ladder-climbing clerics, those who indulge in hypocritical double lives, and lamented a sense of "spiritual Alzheimer's" that leads clerics to forget the joy that is supposed to animate their lives.

He also attacked what he called "existential schizophrenia" and the "terrorism of gossip." He was especially critical of cliques that "enslave their members and become a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body," eventually leading to death by "friendly fire."

"These and other maladies and temptations," Francis said, "are a danger for every Christian and for any administrative organization, community, congregation, parish, ecclesial movement, etc., and can strike at both the individual and the corporate level."

The pope signaled early on that he aimed to overhaul and upend the church's institutional culture. Now 78, many had expected Francis to have a relatively short term in office, but he seems intent on using whatever time to set policies in ways that will outlive his papacy.

Francis has previously criticized the careerism and power intrigues that afflict those who work inside the Vatican. In elevating his first round of cardinals this year, he warned the new princes of the church that they should not imagine they had joined a "royal court."

After firing a German bishop who spent $43 million on a grand, new residential complex, Francis demoted a leading American conservative, Cardinal Raymond Burke, from the church's highest court. Burke is known for hard-line dogmatism, elaborate vestments and, most important, for opposing major aspects of Francis' agenda for change.

As he and senior cardinals press ahead with a controversial financial and administrative overhaul, the pope seemed even more outspoken as he highlighted his concerns about the institution.

"It's nice to think of the Roman Curia as a little model church, that is a body that every day seeks to become more unified and harmonious," the pope said.

"In reality the Curia is a complex body … with different elements that don't have the same job, but are coordinated to work in an exemplary, disciplined effective way, despite the cultural and linguistic diversity of its members."

Francis, the first pope from Latin America, never worked in the Italian-dominated Curia before he was elected in March 2013 after the shocking resignation of his predecessor, Benedict XVI. The final months of Benedict's pontificate were overshadowed by the "Vatileaks" scandal in which Benedict's personal butler leaked sensitive documents alleging corruption in the Curia.

Francis is also the first Jesuit pope, and his outsiders' critique reflects the sometimes tense relations between Rome and the church's largest religious order, which often chafes at orders from church headquarters.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 05, 2015 11:39 pm 
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Raw Story

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Pope Francis has sent Catholic clergy a powerful reminder of their duty to stamp out sexual abuse of children by priests, warning that they must never let a fear of scandal lead to cover-ups.

In a strongly-worded letter to the heads of national bishops’ conferences and religious orders, Francis demanded “close and complete” cooperation with a new child protection commission he has established at the Vatican.

The commission has been given a brief to drive reform on an issue that has severely damaged the Church’s authority and reputation in many countries around the world.

Headed by American cardinal Sean O’Mally, it includes both clerics and lay people, including two victims of paedophile priests, Ireland’s Marie Collins and Peter Sanders from Britain.

All 16 members, nine men and seven women, will meet for the first time in Rome on Friday.

“Families need to know that the Church is making every effort to protect their children,” Francis wrote in the letter published Thursday.

“They should also know that they have every right to turn to the Church with full confidence, for it is a safe and secure home.

“Consequently, priority must not be given to any other kind of concern, whatever its nature, such as the desire to avoid scandal, since there is absolutely no place in ministry for those who abuse minors.”

Francis’s letter follows the announcement last month that 10 priests and two Catholic lay workers in the Spanish city of Granada have been charged with the sexual abuse of altar boys between 2004 and 2007.

It is the biggest case of its kind yet in Spain, where the Church has long been accused of exactly the kind of cover-up Francis was alluding to.


You know if you could somehow make it so all Popes would be like this, I would lost my major objections to Catholicism.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 2:44 pm 
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Pope Francis compares arguments for transgender rights to nuclear arms race

Francis's seemingly liberal stance has come into question
HEATHER SAUL Author Biography Saturday 21 February 2015
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Pope Francis has been criticised for reportedly comparing the gender theory arguments that underpin transgender rights to nuclear weapons.

Francis criticised theories that consider people’s gender identity as not fixed and as instead a construct created by society, which are often used to advocate trans rights.

His remarks came just a month after he reportedly embraced a transgender man who asked him if he still had a place in the "house of God".

In an interview with Italian journalists which was featured in the back of his book, Pope Francis: This Economy Kills, the Pontiff compared gender theory to genetic manipulation and nuclear arms, according to the National Catholic Reporter (NCR).

He said every historical period has "Herods" that "destroy, that plot designs of death, that disfigure the face of man and woman, destroying creation" the NCR reported.

Six million flock to see Pope in Philippines
"Let's think of the nuclear arms, of the possibility to annihilate in a few instants a very high number of human beings," he was quoted as saying. "Let's think also of genetic manipulation, of the manipulation of life, or of the gender theory, that does not recognise the order of creation."

"With this attitude, man commits a new sin, that against God the Creator. The true custody of creation does not have anything to do with the ideologies that consider man like an accident, like a problem to eliminate.

"God has placed man and woman and the summit of creation and has entrusted them with the earth. The design of the Creator is written in nature."

The interview was conducted in October and major parts of it were published online in January. However, it was only recently picked up by the English-language press.


http://www.independent.co.uk/news/peopl ... 61223.html

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