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Pope Francis invites grandparents to join a ‘spiritual and non-violent revolution’

Pope Francis visits the San Raffaele Borona assisted living home in Rieti, Italy, Oct. 4, 2016. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, May 10, 2022 / 03:35 am (CNA).

Pope Francis invited grandparents and the elderly on Tuesday to join a “spiritual and non-violent revolution.”

In his message for the second World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, issued on May 10, the pope urged seniors not to despair at their frailty but to embrace “a new mission” of caring for others in a world torn apart by conflict.

“Old age is no time to give up and lower the sails, but a season of enduring fruitfulness: a new mission awaits us and bids us look to the future,” he wrote in the 1,600-word text, dated May 3.

“‘The special sensibility that those of us who are elderly have for the concerns, thoughts, and the affections that make us human should once again become the vocation of many. It would be a sign of our love for the younger generations.’”

“This would be our own contribution to the revolution of tenderness, a spiritual and non-violent revolution in which I encourage you, dear grandparents and elderly persons, to take an active role.”

Pope Francis established the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly in 2021. The day takes place annually on the fourth Sunday of July, on or close to the July 26 Feast of Sts. Anne and Joachim, the grandparents of Jesus. This year, it will be celebrated on July 24.

The Vatican unveiled in February the theme for the second celebration of the day, which is taken from Psalm 92:15: “In old age they will still bear fruit.”

The theme “intends to emphasize how grandparents and the elderly are a value and a gift both for society and for ecclesial communities,” the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life said.

Cardinal Kevin Farrell, center, attends a press conference launching Pope Francis’ message for the second World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly at the Vatican, May 10, 2022. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.
Cardinal Kevin Farrell, center, attends a press conference launching Pope Francis’ message for the second World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly at the Vatican, May 10, 2022. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

The dicastery’s prefect, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, presented the pope’s message at a Vatican press conference on May 10.

The Irish-born American cardinal said: “The pope’s message for the upcoming World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly is an alternative to the throwaway culture: it helps all of us, and the elderly themselves, to understand that — far from being something to be thrown away — they have a specific vocation within our communities.”

“In this time of yearning for peace, the Church has a great need for older people who have the ‘gift’ of tenderness, who are capable of caring for and interceding with others.”

In his message, Pope Francis described how the elderly could take part in the “revolution of tenderness.”

He said: “Let us hold in our hearts — like St. Joseph, who was a loving and attentive father — the little ones of Ukraine, of Afghanistan, of South Sudan…”

“Many of us have come to a sage and humble realization of what our world very much needs: the recognition that we are not saved alone, and that happiness is a bread we break together.”

“Let us bear witness to this before those who wrongly think that they can find personal fulfilment and success in conflict. Everyone, even the weakest among us, can do this.”

“The very fact that we allow ourselves to be cared for — often by people who come from other countries — is itself a way of saying that living together in peace is not only possible, but necessary.”

He went on: “Dear grandparents, dear elderly persons, we are called to be artisans of the revolution of tenderness in our world! Let us do so by learning to make ever more frequent and better use of the most valuable instrument at our disposal and, indeed, the one best suited to our age: prayer.”

Pope Francis has highlighted the importance of care and respect for the elderly since his election in 2013.

In February, he launched a new general audience catechetical cycle devoted to old age.

The 85-year-old pope has been making his public appearances in a wheelchair since May 5 due to a torn ligament in his right knee.

Concluding his message, Pope Francis said: “Let us ask Our Lady, Mother of Tender Love, to make all of us artisans of the revolution of tenderness, so that together we can set the world free from the spectre of loneliness and the demon of war.”

Pope Francis to LGBT people: God ‘does not disown any of his children’

Pope Francis at the general audience in St. Peter’s Square on May 4, 2022. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Vatican City, May 9, 2022 / 10:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has underlined that God “does not disown any of his children” in a brief message marking the launch of a new website for LGBT Catholics.

The pope made the comment in a handwritten letter dated May 8 to Father James Martin, S.J., the editor at large of America Media, the company supporting the new website, outreach.faith, launched on May 1.

In the letter, the Jesuit pope replied to questions posed by Martin, the author of “Building a Bridge,” a 2017 book advocating closer ties between the Catholic Church and the LGBT community.

Critics have accused Martin of rejecting Catholic teaching on the sinfulness of homosexual sexual acts, but he has insisted that he does not reject the teaching of the Church.

In June 2021, Pope Francis expressed support for Martin’s controversial ministry and encouraged him to “continue this way.”

Asked what he considered the most important thing for LGBT people to know about God, the pope replied in the May 8 letter: “God is Father and he does not disown any of his children. And ‘the style’ of God is ‘closeness, mercy, and tenderness.’ Along this path, you will find God.”

The pope also advised LGBT people interested in learning about the Church to read the Acts of the Apostles, the New Testament book describing the growth of the early Christian community.

“There they will find the image of the living Church,” the 85-year-old pope commented.

Pope Francis was also asked what advice he would offer to LGBT Catholics who have experienced rejection from the Church.

Writing in Spanish, he said: “I would have them recognize it not as ‘the rejection of the Church,’ but instead of ‘people in the Church.’”

“The Church is a mother and calls together all her children. Take for example the parable of those invited to the feast: “the just, the sinners, the rich and the poor, etc.” [Matthew 22:1-15; Luke 14:15-24].”

“A ‘selective’ church, one of ‘pure blood,’ is not Holy Mother Church, but rather a sect.”

Introducing the Outreach website, described as an “LGBTQ Catholic resource,” Martin explained that it would serve as “a clearinghouse for information” about LGBT ministries in the worldwide Church.

Outreach will host an LGBTQ Catholic Ministry Conference at the Fordham Lincoln Center in New York on June 24-25. The keynote address will be given by Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky.

The final speech will be delivered by Sister Jeannine Gramick, co-founder of New Ways Ministry, who was subject to a notification by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1999.

Pope Francis sent a letter to Gramick in December 2021, thanking her for her “closeness, compassion, and tenderness” during 50 years of service.

What’s the future of Catholic-Russian Orthodox relations?

Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, addresses Pope Francis at the Vatican, May 6, 2022. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, May 9, 2022 / 05:35 am (CNA).

With the interview granted to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on May 3, Pope Francis seemed to burn the bridges of ecumenical dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Church that the Vatican had painstakingly built.

Fortunately, members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity met in Rome that same week, giving a renewed impulse to dialogue between Christian confessions.

Ecumenical dialogue is now strongly influenced by the situation in Ukraine. Before the war, there was an Orthodox schism, with the creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), which led to a breach between the Moscow Patriarchate and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

Moscow continued bilateral relations with Rome but abandoned intra-Orthodox dialogue events chaired by Constantinople and also launched an aggressive ecclesiastical policy which led, shortly before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, to the establishment of an exarchate in Africa in territories under the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria and all Africa.

The war has transformed the situation. Even the branch of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church linked to the Moscow Patriarchate (known as the UOC-MP) disavowed the line of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia, who justified Russian aggression.

The only possibility for the Moscow Patriarchate to escape its isolation was the dialogue with Rome. A second meeting between Pope Francis and Kirill in Jerusalem was being explored. But then the Holy See decided to cancel the meeting.

Then came the pope’s interview with Corriere della Sera, in which he recounted his video conference call with Patriarch Kirill on March 6 and warned the Russian Orthodox leader against becoming “Putin’s altar boy.”

If the second meeting was canceled for reasons of expediency, then Pope Francis’ words burned the bridges of dialogue with the Moscow Patriarchate.

The patriarchate responded by saying that Pope Francis had chosen “the wrong tone” to convey the content of the conversation with Kirill, stressing that “such utterances can hardly further constructive dialogue between the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches, which is so necessary at the current time.”

The Moscow Patriarchate posted a summary of Kirill’s words to the pope on its official website. The text highlighted a reported massacre of Russian speakers in the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa in 2014 and the eastward expansion of NATO, indicating them as two possible causes of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Kirill told the pope that the present situation caused him “great pain.”

“My flock is on both sides of the conflict and most of them are Orthodox people,” he said. “Part of the opposing side are also among your flock. I would like therefore, leaving the geopolitical aspect to one side, to pose the question of how we and our Churches can influence the situation. How can we act together to bring peace to the hostile parties with the single aim of establishing peace and justice? It is very important in these conditions to avoid further escalation.”

In practice, the Patriarchate of Moscow asked Rome not to consider political and national events, while reserving the possibility of speaking to them and commenting on them — remaining, in essence, a profoundly national Church. This is a perspective that the pope and Holy See cannot accept: for Pope Francis, the conflict must be faced from a religious perspective, leaving politics aside.

The stance of those on the battlefield is different. A speech delivered last week by Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), shed further light on the situation.

Speaking at the plenary meeting of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity on May 5, Shevchuk stressed that the war waged by Russia was “ideological” and aimed at “eliminating the Ukrainian people.” He pointed to instructions given to Russian soldiers about how to treat Ukrainians, saying that they amounted to a “genocide handbook.”

Shevchuk emphasized that the war had strengthened the unity among Ukraine’s religious communities. He pointed to the Pan-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (UCCRO)​​, which includes a representative of the UOC-MP and “in 70 days was able to prepare 17 documents” concerning the war.

In particular, Shevchuk recalled that on the eve of the Russian attack, UCCRO proposed itself as a mediator, because “if the diplomats and politicians were unable to avoid armed confrontation, we churchmen wanted to be this body that could mediate in some sense and also prevent armed confrontation.”

UCCRO also wrote “a letter to the religious leaders of Belarus” when the Russian government forced Belarus to assist with the conflict.

The work of UCCRO and the active involvement of members of the UOC-MP indicates, according to Shevchuk, that “the primary victim of this Russian offensive was the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.”

Metropolitan Onufriy, the head of the UOC-MP, condemned the war. At the same time, Shevchuk said, “at least 15 Russian Orthodox eparchies out of 53” in Ukraine stopped commemorating Patriarch Kirill during Divine Liturgies.

The Catholic leader said there was also a “massive transition of parishes from the administration of the Moscow Patriarchate to that of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.” So far, more than 200 parishes have completed the move.

Shevchuk underlined that the ecumenical reaction to the war was unanimous and one of “explicit condemnation.”

In his introductory speech at the plenary meeting, Cardinal Kurt Koch, the Swiss president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, addressed the ongoing war.

He said: “This year, in an unexpected way, ecumenism has also been exposed to serious tensions. I am thinking above all of Putin’s terrible war in Ukraine, which has not only generated new and deep divisions in the Orthodox world, but has also provoked serious ecumenical irritation.”

“The fact that such a terrible war, with so many refugees and deaths, was also legitimized from a religious point of view must shake an ecumenical soul and deserves the name Pope Francis gave it: blasphemy.”

“If we also consider that in the war in Ukraine Christians fought against Christians and even the Orthodox killed each other, we must recognize the gravity of the ecumenical wounds that have been inflicted and that, to heal, will require not only time but above all conversion.”

Koch added that “Putin’s invasion has pushed Christians and Churches in Ukraine to unite.”

“This too is a sign that God can write straight even on very crooked lines,” he said.

It is not surprising that the pope’s unexpected and not very diplomatic words provoked a reaction from the Moscow Patriarchate. The Russian Orthodox Church had seen in Pope Francis a possible way to overcome its international isolation.

The pope appeared to burn the bridges of dialogue. But the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity has somehow re-established them, while making clear that it does not agree with the war in Ukraine or the positions of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Koch’s reference to unity was an invitation to all Christian Churches to overcome internal divisions to help end the war. Time will tell whether his appeal is heeded.

Pope Francis names new auxiliary bishop for Catholic Diocese of Cleveland

Bishop-elect Michael G. Woost. / Diocese of Cleveland.

Vatican City, May 9, 2022 / 05:05 am (CNA).

The Vatican announced on Monday that Pope Francis has named Father Michael Woost as an auxiliary bishop of Cleveland.

Woost, 63, has served as a professor of liturgical and sacramental theology at the Saint Mary Seminary in Cleveland, Ohio, for more than 20 years.

The Cleveland-born priest is one of three priests in his immediate family. His two brothers, Father Dave Woost and Father Tom Woost, are also priests of the Diocese of Cleveland.

Bishop Edward Malesic, who has led the diocese since September 2020, welcomed the announcement of Woost’s appointment on May 9.

“This announcement is great news for the Diocese of Cleveland. I am grateful to the Holy Father Pope Francis for the appointment of Bishop-elect Woost as an auxiliary bishop,” Malesic said.

“He is a highly respected, capable, and faithful man who will be a good helpmate with me in shepherding the wonderful people of our diocese. I look forward to working closely with bishop-elect Woost and ask our people to pray for him as he prepares to be ordained as a bishop of our Church.”

Born in Cleveland on Sept. 17, 1958, Woost studied at St. Ignatius High School and Borromeo Seminary before he was ordained to the priesthood in 1984.

After his ordination, he obtained a master’s degree in theology from Saint Mary Seminary (1986) and a Licentiate in Sacramental Theology from the Catholic University of America (2000).

In his nearly 40 years as a priest, Woost has served as the co-director of the diocesan vocation office and the parochial vicar of the Immaculate Conception parish in Madison. He was recently named the interim director of the Cleveland diocese’s Office for Worship.

His episcopal ordination will take place at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist on Aug. 4.

The Diocese of Cleveland serves nearly 700,000 Catholics in 185 parishes in northeast Ohio.

Mother’s Day: Pope Francis sends moms ‘Our prayer, affection, best wishes’

Pope Francis waves to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square for the Regina Caeli on May 8, 2022. / Vatican Media

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 8, 2022 / 06:08 am (CNA).

Pope Francis asked the faithful to celebrate their mothers in a special way on Sunday, for Mother’s Day, and urged continued prayers for peace in Ukraine.

“Let us affectionately remember our mothers — a round of applause for our mothers — even those who are no longer with us down here, but who live in our hearts,” he said during his Regina Caeli address. “Our prayer, our affection, and our best wishes for all our mothers.”

The 85-year-old pontiff spoke to the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square in Rome following the Regina Caeli, a Marian prayer said during the Easter season, on May 8. Thousands of faithful brightened the cloudy day with their banners and flags as they gathered to pray with the pontiff.

Pilgrims in St. Peter's Square on May 8, 2022. Vatican Media
Pilgrims in St. Peter's Square on May 8, 2022. Vatican Media

During his address, Pope Francis also turned to Our Mother, Our Lady of Pompeii, to intervene in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Kneeling in spirit before the image of the Virgin, I entrust to her the ardent desire for peace of the many people in various parts of the world who suffer the senseless calamity of war,” he said. “In particular, I present the sufferings and tears of the Ukrainian people to the Holy Virgin.”

His comments come after he consecrated Russia and Ukraine to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in March. 

Speaking from an open window looking out to the square, the pontiff called on Catholics to pray the rosary for peace, as he did during the Regina Caeli last week.

“Before the madness of war, please, let us continue to pray the Rosary for peace each day,” he said. “And let us pray for the leaders of nations, so that they might not lose the ‘pulse of the people’ who want peace and who know well that weapons never achieve it, never.”

Pope Francis, an outspoken advocate for the Ukrainian people, recently expressed a desire to meet with Vladimir Putin in Moscow, if the Russian president is willing. 

During his address, he greeted the Ukrainian refugees present, as well as the families hosting them. The United Nations estimates that nearly 6 million people have fled Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.

The pontiff also asked for prayers for the victims of an explosion at a hotel in Havana, Cuba. According to a CNN report, at least 32 people have died and 19 more are missing after an explosion Friday at the Hotel Saratoga. Authorities say the explosion may have been due to a gas leak.

Along with Mother’s Day, Pope Francis recognized Sunday as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

“May the Christian community on every continent pray to the Lord for the gift of vocations to the priesthood, to the consecrated life, to the choice of being a missionary, and to matrimony,” he said. “This is the day on which, because of our baptism, we all feel called to follow Jesus, to say yes to him, to imitate him so as to discover the joy of giving one’s life, of serving the Gospel joyfully and enthusiastically.”

He recognized one woman who lived out her vocation: Sister María Agustina Rivas Lopez. Pope Francis announced the beatification of the “heroic missionary” and martyr — perhaps better known as “Sister Aguchita” — on Saturday in San Ramon, Peru. A woman religious of the Congregation of our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, she died for her faith in 1990. 

She “always remained near the poor, especially indigenous women and peasants, witnessing to the Gospel of justice and peace,” the pontiff remembered.

Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury say South Sudan trip will be a ‘pilgrimage of peace’

Pope Francis and the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, at the Vatican on Oct. 5, 2021. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, May 7, 2022 / 09:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has said that he is looking forward to visiting South Sudan this summer together with the archbishop of Canterbury and the moderator of the Church of Scotland in a “pilgrimage of peace.”

In a joint-statement published by the Vatican on May 7, the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the moderator of the Church of Scotland, Jim Wallace, joined the pope in urging leaders in South Sudan to follow the “way of forgiveness and freedom.”

“In this Easter season, we write to share with you our joy as we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who shows us that a new way is possible: a way of forgiveness and freedom, which enables us humbly to see God in each other, even in our enemies,” the statement said.

“This path leads to new life, both for us as individuals and for those we lead. It is our prayer that you will embrace afresh this way, in order to discern new avenues amid the challenges and struggles at this time. We pray too that your people will experience the hope of Easter through your leadership. In anticipation of our Pilgrimage of Peace this coming summer, we look forward to visiting your great country.”

Pope Francis is currently scheduled to travel to South Sudan’s capital city of Juba from July 5-7, following a July 2-5 visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

If the trip takes place, Pope Francis will become the first pope to visit South Sudan, which became the world’s newest country when it declared independence from the Republic of the Sudan on July 9, 2011.

The nation in east-central Africa has a population of 11 million people, around 37% of whom are Catholic.

In 2019, Pope Francis brought South Sudanese leaders together at the Vatican for a “spiritual retreat” aimed at resolving their differences.

The joint statement from Pope Francis, Welby, and Wallace was published at a time when the pope is using a wheelchair due to a torn ligament in his right knee. The 85-year-old pope has canceled his engagements on multiple occasions in recent weeks due to knee pain.

A previously scheduled papal trip to South Sudan with Welby was canceled in 2017 due to security concerns.

Pope Francis: ‘It’s not possible to worship God while making the liturgy a battleground’

Pope Francis meets with the Pontifical Liturgical Institute in the Apostolic Palace on May 7, 2022. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, May 7, 2022 / 08:10 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said Saturday that the liturgy should not be “a battleground” for “outdated issues.”

“I emphasize again that the liturgical life, and the study of it, should lead to greater Church unity, not division. When the liturgical life is a bit like a banner of division, there is the stench of the devil in there, the deceiver,” Pope Francis said at the Vatican on April 7.

“It’s not possible to worship God while making the liturgy a battleground for issues that are not essential, indeed, outdated issues, and to take sides starting with the liturgy, with ideologies that divide the Church.”

Speaking at an audience with the Pontifical Liturgical Institute in the apostolic palace, the pope said that he believes that “every reform creates resistance.”

Pope Francis recalled reforms made when he was a child by Pope Pius XII, particularly when Pius XII reduced the fasting requirement before receiving holy Communion and reintroduced the Easter Vigil.

“All of these things scandalized closed-minded people. It happens also today,” he said.

“Indeed, such closed-minded people use liturgical frameworks to defend their views. Using the liturgy: this is the drama we are experiencing in ecclesial groups that are distancing themselves from the Church, questioning the Council, the authority of the bishops ... in order to preserve tradition. And the liturgy is used for that.”

Pope Francis spoke to the Pontifical Liturgical Institute, an institute in Rome whose school of liturgy has had increasing influence in liturgical norms coming from the Vatican.

The secretary and undersecretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship were both formed by the institute, which was established in 1961 by Pope John XXIII as part of the Pontificio Ateneo Sant'Anselmo.

Andrea Grillo, one of the most prominent theology professors at the Sant'Anselmo, has been a vigorous defender of Traditionis custodes, the motu proprio issued by Pope Francis in 2021 which restricted Masses celebrated in the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite.

In the pope’s remarks, Francis further warned of “the temptation of liturgical formalism,” which he said can be seen today “in those movements that try to go back a little and deny the Second Vatican Council itself.”

Pope Francis delivered his speech from a wheelchair. The 85-year-old pope has been making his public appearances in a wheelchair since May 5 due to a torn ligament in his right knee.

Cardinal Pell highlights 'somewhat incomplete' account given by Cardinal Becciu at Vatican finance trial

Cardinal George Pell, prefect emeritus of the Secretariat of the Economy, speaks with EWTN News in Rome, Dec. 9, 2020. Credit: Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Denver Newsroom, May 6, 2022 / 15:40 pm (CNA).

Cardinal George Pell said Friday that the recent testimony of Cardinal Angelo Becciu at the Vatican finance trial “was somewhat incomplete.”

He drew particular attention to a lack of evidence regarding payments of more than $1.6 million made to Neustar Australia, an information services firm, in 2017 and 2018.

Becciu, who was the second-ranking official in the Secretariat of State from 2011 to 2018, was questioned May 5 about investments during a hearing in the Vatican trial. The cardinal has been charged with embezzlement, abuse of office, and witness tampering.

In a May 6 statement, Pell said Becciu had given “a spirited defence of his blameless subordinate role in the Vatican finances” during his testimony.

As prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, Pell led an effort called for by Pope Francis to bring order and accountability to the Vatican's finances, which have long lacked centralized procedures, controls, and oversight. 

Pell clashed in that role with Becciu, who as sostituto of the Secretariat of State served effectively as the pope's chief of staff. Becciu at one point acted to cancel a contract Pell had made for an external audit of Vatican finances.

Reflecting on Becciu’s statement at the trial, Pell said he wanted to focus “on Cardinal Becciu’s final remarks on the AUD 2.3 million [$1.6m] paid to Neustar for the internet domain ‘.catholic’ on 4/9/2015. Was the payment from the Council for Social Communications or from the Secretariat of State? The introduction of this claim only deepens the mystery.”

Pell added that Becciu’s statement to the court differed from what he had told him in December 2020, “that the destination of the funds from the Secretariat of State to Australia was none of my business, but was known to the Holy Father.”

It is undisputed, Pell said, that the Pontifical Council for Social Communications made large payments to Neustar Australia and a domain name registry “for the reservation of the title “Catholic” in 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.”

“Doubts, of course, are removed by facts, by evidence, not assertions. Unfortunately, I do not have information on payments to Neustar Australia in 2015 beyond USD 150,000 the Council for Social Communications paid as a deposit. It was not my usual practice to sign off on payments from the Secretariat of State,” Pell wrote.

Pell stated: “My interest is focussed on four payments with a value of AUD 2.3 million made by the Secretariat of State in 2017 and 2018 to Neustar Australia.”

He said two of these, with a value of $874,000, “were authorised by Monsignor Becciu on 17/5/2017 and 6/6/2018.”

“Obviously,” Pell wrote, “these are different payments from those of 11/9/2015 which I allegedly authorised. What was the purpose? Where did the money go after Neustar?”

At the time those payments were sent, Pell was being investigated and and was then on trial for sex abuse in Australia. The coincidence has led to suggestions that the funds were related to Pell’s trial in some way. Pell was convicted, but was subsequently acquitted by a unanimous judgement of the High Court of Australia.

Pell also noted in his statement that Becciu’s testimony failed to “explain the Secretariat of State’s rejection of the papally approved supervisory role of the new Council and Secretariat for the Economy.”

“He did not explain his role in the sacking of the auditors PriceWaterhouseCoopers, and in the resignation of the Auditor, Libero Milone; both mandated to investigate Secretariat of State finances. His bizarre account of how the Secretariat of State spent the entire amount of Peter’s Pence (“Cosa mai restava quindi dell’Obolo? Niente!”) is at odds with the official publicity for the fund, the Catholic people’s understanding and the annual Vatican financial reports,” the Australian cardinal stated.

He added that discussion of APSA is “irrelevant,” as it “never had a supervisory role with the Secretariat of State finances.”

Pell concluded his statement suggesting that knowledge of the nature of Vatican finances under Becciu will come eventually: “Let us see. Truth is the daughter of time.”

Pope Francis encourages new Swiss Guard recruits ‘to grow as Christians’

Pope Francis with new Swiss Guard recruits in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall on May 6, 2022. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, May 6, 2022 / 06:40 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Friday encouraged 36 new recruits of the Pontifical Swiss Guard to “grow as Christians” during their service in Rome.

The pope, who currently uses a wheelchair due to a knee condition, met with the new candidates for the world’s smallest but oldest standing army on May 6, the day of their swearing-in ceremony.

He said: “Dear Swiss Guards, I encourage you to always place the proper emphasis on formation. The efforts devoted to it are indispensable for acquiring adequate skills and professional competence.”

“But first of all, the time spent in Rome should be valued in order to grow as Christians. I am thinking of the spiritual life, which allows us to discover God’s plan for each of us.”

The Swiss Guards — known for their colorful striped Renaissance-era uniforms — are responsible for Vatican security together with the Vatican gendarmes.

Candidates must meet strict requirements. Each recruit must be a Catholic unmarried male at least 5 feet, 8 inches tall, and between the ages of 19 and 30. Swiss citizenship is required, as is a letter of good standing from the candidate’s pastor.

The pope spoke to the recruits and their families on the anniversary of the Sack of Rome, a battle in 1527 in which 147 Swiss Guards died defending Pope Clement VII from mutinous troops of the Holy Roman Empire.

He said: “Since the institution of the Swiss Guards, many young men have fulfilled the singular function assigned to it, which continues to this day.”

“Through a generous and faithful commitment, over the centuries some have not shirked the hardest trials, going so far as to shed their blood to defend the pope and enable him to carry out his mission in full independence.”

“With this supreme dedication, they have fulfilled what is provided for by the Regulations still in force: the security of the person of the pope and his residence.”

On May 4, the Vatican and the foundation overseeing the renovation of the Swiss Guards’ barracks signed a memorandum of understanding.

The Vatican said that the non-legally binding document expressed both parties’ will to ensure that the Guards have “better and environmentally friendly housing conditions.”

The roughly $60 million building project includes plans to expand the living quarters for guardsmen, some of whom currently sleep in shared rooms or housing outside the Vatican. The new barracks will allow each guard to have a private room with a private bathroom.

The plans have prompted speculation that the new design could accommodate women guards, which would require a change to the corps’ admission requirements.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin signs a memorandum of understanding on the renovation of the Swiss Guards’ barracks on May 4, 2022. Vatican Media.
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin signs a memorandum of understanding on the renovation of the Swiss Guards’ barracks on May 4, 2022. Vatican Media.

The memorandum of understanding was related to the fundraising and planning phases of the renovation, reported Vatican News, the Holy See’s online news portal. A second agreement concerning the construction phase will be signed at a later date.

Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, the Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, offered Mass with the Swiss Guards in St. Peter’s Basilica in the morning ahead of the swearing-in ceremony.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis received the Swiss President Ignazio Cassis in a private audience.

Pope Francis with Switzerland’s President Ignazio Cassis at the Vatican on May 6, 2022. Vatican Media.
Pope Francis with Switzerland’s President Ignazio Cassis at the Vatican on May 6, 2022. Vatican Media.

The new guards were due to be sworn in at 5 p.m. local time on May 6 in the San Damaso Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City.

The corps said that the ceremony would take place “in reduced form” in the presence of the recruits’ families.

During the ceremony, each recruit approaches the flag of the Swiss Guard as his name is called out. Firmly grasping the banner with his left hand, the new guard raises his right hand and opens three fingers as a sign of his faith in the Holy Trinity.

While holding up his fingers, the guard says: “I, (name), swear diligently and faithfully to abide by all that has just been read out to me, so grant me God and so help me his saints.”

In his address, Pope Francis asked Swiss Guards to pray for one of their colleagues who died recently, according to Vatican News.

He said: “I would like to pause for a moment in pain and sadness. And I would wish that your colleague Silvan Wolf were here present. Unfortunately, he has died, a good, joyful young man. An accident took him away from us. In silence, let us recall Silvan and pray for him.”

Pope Francis: ‘Barbarity of war’ should inspire new push for Christian unity

Pope Francis meets participants in the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity’s plenary meeting at the Vatican, May 6, 2022. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, May 6, 2022 / 06:05 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said on Friday that the “barbarity of war” should inspire a new push for Christian unity.

The pope made the comment in an address to members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity on May 6, the 72nd day of the Russia-Ukraine war.

The conflict between the two predominantly Orthodox Christian nations has tested relations between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as within Eastern Orthodoxy.

In his speech, Pope Francis said that Christian communities needed to recognize they were on a journey of faith together with the members of other confessions.

When a community tried to go it alone, he said, it ran the risk of “self-sufficiency and self-referentiality, which are grave obstacles to ecumenism.”

“And we see it,” he commented. “In some countries, there are certain egocentric revivals — so to speak — of some Christian communities that are a turning back and unable to advance. Today, either we all walk together or we cannot walk. This awareness is a truth and a grace of God.”

The pope, who currently uses a wheelchair due to a knee condition, recalled that he had often described 21st-century conflicts as “a piecemeal World War III.”

“However, this war, as cruel and senseless as any war, has a greater dimension and threatens the entire world, and cannot fail to challenge the conscience of every Christian and every Church,” he said.

Quoting from his 2020 encyclical Fratelli tutti, the pontiff went on: “We must ask ourselves: what have the Churches done and what can they do to contribute to the ‘development of a global community of fraternity based on the practice of social friendship on the part of peoples and nations’? It’s a question we need to think about together.”

The pope suggested that efforts to improve relations between Christians in the 20th century were motivated partly by the horror of two world wars.

“Today, in the face of the barbarity of war, this longing for unity must be nourished anew,” he commented.

“To ignore divisions among Christians, whether out of habit or out of resignation, is to tolerate that pollution of hearts which makes fertile ground for conflicts.”

“The proclamation of the gospel of peace, that gospel which disarms hearts even before armies, will be more credible only if proclaimed by Christians finally reconciled in Jesus, Prince of Peace.”

Members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity were in Rome to attend a May 3-6 plenary meeting on the theme “Towards an Ecumenical Celebration of the 1,700th Anniversary of Nicaea I (325-2025).”

Among the speakers was Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, who addressed plenary participants remotely about the ecumenical situation in Ukraine amid the war.

In his speech, the pope said that members of the pontifical council were making a “valuable contribution” by reflecting on how to celebrate the anniversary of the First Council of Nicaea “in an ecumenical manner” in 2025.

The council, held in 325 A.D., was called by the emperor Constantine to confront the Arian heresy, which denied Christ’s divinity. The council promulgated the Nicene Creed, which is still accepted by Orthodox, Anglican, and other Protestant denominations.

“Despite the troubled events of its preparation and especially of the subsequent long period of reception, the first ecumenical council was an event of reconciliation for the Church, which in a synodal way reaffirmed its unity around the profession of its faith,” the pope said.

“The style and decisions of the Council of Nicaea must enlighten the present ecumenical journey and lead to new concrete steps towards the goal of fully restoring Christian unity.”

“Since the 1,700th anniversary of the First Council of Nicea coincides with the Jubilee year, I hope that the celebration of the next Jubilee will have a significant ecumenical dimension.”

The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, led by the Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch, traces its roots back to 1960, when Pope John XXIII established the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. It was given its current title by Pope John Paul II in 1988.

The pontifical council — located on the Via della Conciliazione, the road leading from St. Peter’s Square to the Castel Sant’Angelo — will be renamed the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity when the new Vatican constitution comes into force on June 5.