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Pope's general prayer intention for February

The general prayer intention of the Holy Father Pope Francis, for the month of February, is for prisoners, especially the young, that they may be able to rebuild lives of   dignity.  One of the first gestures of Pope Francis, soon after his March 13, 2013 election, moved or rather shocked the world.  He broke with tradition and celebrated Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper in the Holy Week in a juvenile prison of Rome, instead of a Rome Basilica, washing and kissing the feet of 12 young detainees of different nationalities and faiths, including two women. "This sign is a caress from Jesus, because Jesus came exactly for this, to serve and to help us," the Pope told them in unscripted remarks. Since then, he has shown his closeness with prisoners on several times. On one such occasion in to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in July 2013, he told young prisoners to have courage “look to the future”.  Each prisoner is a person made in the image and likeness of God, someone for whom Jesus suffered and died. They and   prisoners around the world need our prayers in order to learn to live a life of dignity in often   dehumanizing circumstances.  In the ‘throwaway culture’ of today, as Pope Francis calls it, it’s easy to forget those who are locked away from society. This month the Holy Father wants us to join him in praying for them that they may not give up hope and be able to rebuild their lives. 

(from Vatican Radio)

Vatican Tribunal opens new judicial year

(Vatican Radio) The Vatican Tribunal opened its 86th session on Saturday morning. At the Mass to mark the occasion, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said the application of the law must be both rigorous and compassionate. But its application must also be free of vengeance and of popular notions of justice, he told the judges and members of the Vatican Tribunal.


The cardinal made reference to the teachings of Saint John Bosco, whose feast the Church celebrated on Saturday. In particular, he referenced John Bosco’s preventive system, which combines formation through reason, an openness to God, and the compassionate treatment of persons. The saint, he said, condemned repressive and vengeful methods.

The cardinal then noted that the judicial system has a preventive and educative function.

“And your qualified service… if you want to be effective,” he said, “must be anchored in a higher vision of faith.”

“The law, although necessary, is not enough,” he continued. It “is a means to achieve justice, and therefore, to lead us to the good.”

“Only reference to the supernatural dimension…can show a judge that necessary clarity for the proper understanding of the human soul, which allows the formulation of a just and fair judgment in which…(there is) a flicker of compassion, that is, of love and of the ability to take on the suffering of others, even of those who are judged.”

He reminded the judges and members of the Tribunal that the primary source of all law in the Vatican City State is canon law, whose ultimate goal is the salvation of souls. He also invited them to combine “the certitude of the law”  with “that fairness of natural law,” found in the Gospel.

May all the activities of the tribunal, he said, be “inspired in the constant effort to combine the necessary rigor of the law and legal certainty…with compassion.”

Following the Mass, the Tribunal’s Promoter for Justice, Gian Piero Milano, gave his opening address for the new judicial year. He spoke of the disturbing increase in the case law of financial crime and corruption. This is “a veritable plague," which affects an inviolable right of the individual to his human dignity, he said.

He spoke of the process of reform launched by Benedict XVI and intensified by Pope Francis citing, for example, the establishment of the Council and of the Secretariat for the Economy. He also referred to the Motu Proprio of July 2013, which punishes certain crimes committed against the security, fundamental interests or assets of the Holy See and creates significant changes for the Vatican Tribunals.

Regarding crimes against minors, the promoter said there are ongoing investigation measures being put in place, including an initiative related to crimes against children committed abroad by a public official of the Holy See, including those with diplomatic duties and archbishops. This initiative is assumed to activate tools of international judicial cooperation, he said.

Regarding the prevention and fight against money laundering, the promoter noted that a Motu Proprio in August two years ago introduced “strict requirements” on cross-border transportation of cash. As a result, he said, checks were performed on more than 4,000 people and 7,000 vehicles entering and leaving the Vatican in the past year. 

With the globalization of crime, the Promoter said the Vatican Tribunal has experienced an increase in international cooperation, with 10 requests for legal assistance from foreign countries, of which eight were from Italy.

The Promoter said there has also been a call for the introduction of specific provisions for the crime of usury, which is not currently in the code of law. Milano concluded his address by stating there were six arrests in the past year.

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis: cultivate and preserve Mother Earth

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday received members of  Italy’s National Federation of Farmers, who are this year celebrating the 70th anniversary of their foundation.

Listen to Lydia O'Kane's report.

Pope Francis told the farmers present in the Clementine Hall  that there is no humanity without the cultivation of the earth, as there is also no life without good food that is produced for men and women of every continent.

This shows, underlined the Holy Father, that agriculture has a pivotal role.

In his prepared remarks to the farmers, the Pope reflected on as he put it, two critical points. He said, “the Second Vatican Council recalled the universal destination of the goods of the earth,” but, Pope Francis added, “in fact the dominant economic system excludes many from their correct use.”  The Holy Father went on to say that, “absolutizing market rules, a culture of waste and waste that in the case of food has unacceptable proportions, together with other factors, cause misery and suffering for many families.” Therefore, the Pope continued, the system of production and distribution of food must be radically rethought.

In his second point, the Holy Father said it was important  to remember that man is called not only to cultivate the land, but also to preserve it. In a time of climate change the Pope noted, this is difficult, that is why, he said, it is so vital that nations are able to work together to protect creation.

Finally, Pope Francis invited the farmers, in the spirit of St Francis, to love the land as Mother earth, and proposed that they make an alliance with it, so that it can continue to be, the source of life for the entire human family.




(from Vatican Radio)

Holy See to UN Security Council: Protect women and girls in conflict zones

(Vatican Radio) The  Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations on Friday told the UN Security Council spoke about the dangers posed to innocent civilians, especially women and girls, in armed conflicts.

“In conflict settings women  and girls are more vulnerable as a result of inequality and are directly targeted as part of fear tactics and  deliberate assaults on their rights,” said the statement, read by the Chargé d'Affaires of the Mission, Msgr. Janusz Urbańczyk.

“My delegation remains concerned about the continued lack of attention and priority to the protection of  women and girls who are targeted and attacked  purely  because of the faith they profess,” the statement continued. “The lack of  focus and priority for protecting them is troubling  when Christians face extinction in some regions of  the world and in other regions Christian schools for girls are targeted and attacked.”

The full statement of the Holy See Observer Mission is below:

Intervention of the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the UN

at the Security Council Open Debate on

Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict:

Protection challenges and needs faced by women and girls

in armed conflict and post-conflict settings

New York, 30 January 2015

Mister President,

My delegation wishes to congratulate Chile for its Presidency of the Security Council and for convening  this important debate  on protection, challenges and needs faced by women and girls in armed conflict  and post conflict settings.  Today’s discussion provides a much needed opportunity to focus on the impact  of violence on women and girls in conflict settings and to  identify the initiatives that must be undertaken  to eradicate this scourge, that continues to escalate.

The Holy See firmly opposes recourse to armed conflict as a means of solving disputes and recognizes  that women and girls suffer disproportionately from the ravages of conflict. In conflict settings women  and girls are more vulnerable as a result of inequality and are directly targeted as part of fear tactics and  deliberate assaults on their rights. Although  a  focus  on  women’s  protection  and  inclusion  has  been  a  mainstay  of  the  Council’s  deliberations,  many  gaps  remain  and  must  be  addressed  by  this  august  body.  Through  a  series  of  resolutions, this Security Council has recognized that further steps must be taken to protect women and  girls in  conflict  and post-conflict situations  and to  examine the unique impact  of  armed  conflict  on  women and girls. However, reports of violence committed against women in the most brutal and horrific  forms, including sexual slavery, rape and trafficking are increasing.

Mister President,

The belief in the sanctity of human life and inherent dignity of the human person is the foundation of  the principles of Catholic Social teaching. All persons, women and men, girls and boys, by virtue of  their human dignity are free and equal. Violence in all its forms is an affront to human dignity and, moreover, sexual violence against women tears at the very fabric of society. This was pointed out by His Holiness Pope Francis, when he emphasized that we must not “overlook  the fact that wars involve another horrendous crime, the crime of rape. This is a most grave offense  against the dignity of women, who are not only violated in body but also in spirit, resulting in a trauma  hard to erase and with effects on society as well. Sadly, even apart from situations of war, all too many  women even today are victims of violence.”

Mister President,

Armed conflict affects the security of the entire community and of the family in particular. It causes

displacement, forcing families to flee and stable communities to  disintegrate. Ripped from their land  and rich history  families and entire communities are vulnerable and exploited as outsiders in foreign  lands.

In addition, mainly men are called to fight in situations of armed conflict, leaving their family behind to  fend  for  itself.  Without  the  protection  of  their  husband  or  father,  women  and  girls  in  particular  are  vulnerable to exploitation and gross human rights violations with the possibility of becoming the prey  of terrorist networks.

Mister President,

My delegation remains concerned about the continued lack of attention and priority to the protection of  women and girls who are targeted and attacked  purely  because of the faith they profess. The lack of  focus and priority for protecting them is troubling  when Christians face extinction in some regions of  the world and in other regions Christian schools for girls are targeted and attacked. This is a shared  reality of members of all faiths and therefore requires the shared commitment of members of all faiths and governments strongly to condemn and confront such violence

As Pope Francis noted, acts of violence continue to strike indiscriminately and there is an alarming  increase  in  kidnapping,  particularly  of  young  girls  who  are  made  objects  of  trafficking.   This  is  an  abominable trade that must come to an end. This scourge must be eradicated, since it strikes all of us,  from individual families to the entire international community. Mister President, The Catholic Church through her institutions and agencies around the world is providing assistance, care and  support  to  thousands  of  survivors  of  sexual  violence  in  situations  of  armed  conflict.   These  institutions and their courageous individuals sacrifice themselves on a daily basis and many of these  have paid dearly for their  endeavors. Because  of this permanent  local presence in  the world’s most  disaster prone areas, this network of Catholic institutions and agencies do respond rapidly and effectively  to address the consequence of violence in armed conflict.

In conclusion, as Pope Francis recently noted in his address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, we must reject the “culture of enslavement” which is incapable of doing good or pursuing  peace and accepts as inevitable the spread of war and violence. We must redouble our efforts to replace  this “culture” with a culture of life and peace in which governments and the international community  fulfill their fundamental responsibility to protect all people

Thank you, Mister President.

(from Vatican Radio)

Archdiocese lists assets, creditors in Jan. 30 court filing

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis filed a listing of assets and creditors Jan. 30 with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Minnesota.

Catholic Schools Week photos

Pictures submitted from Catholic schools around the diocese celebrating Catholic Schools Week

Mexico: Pope Francis' prayers for maternity hospital

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis expressed his profound sadness for the victims of an explosion at a maternity hospital in Mexico City which killed two newborn babies and a nurse.  More than 70 other people were injured, most of them newborn infants.  The Pope’s condolences were sent on his behalf by the Secretary of State Pietro Parolin in a telegram to Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, Archbishop of Mexico City.  Earlier, the Pope sent a tweet on his Spanish twitter account urging prayers for the victims and their families and for the Lord to grant them strength and peace.  

An investigation is underway into the cause of Thursday's explosion, which killed at least three people and injured scores of others, many of whom are infants.

James Blears reports a leak in a pipe of a truck supplying gas to the hospital's kitchen,  transformed the vehicle into a gigantic bomb, with a resulting explosion, felt for many miles around.

Listen to the report by James Blears:

The nursery, administration area and emergency ward of Cujimalpa hospital were flattened by a blast of enormous proportions.  Investigating experts say a supply pipe of a truck pumping gallon after gallon of gas into the hospital kitchen, either leaked or fractured,  causing the explosion. More than 40 of the 70 hurt are babies or young children. Twenty-two remain in serious condition. The heart-rending cases range from  blast wounds,  burns ..... and horrific wounds from glass shards fanning out in cutting showers, from shattered window panes.  Windows for miles around were blown to kingdom come from the shock waves.  

Mexico City's Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera who's visited the scene of twisted metal, collapsed concrete and devastation, is blaming the gas company, which he says has been supplying hospitals throughout Mexico City since 2007.

In one form or other, gas explosions are not uncommon in Mexico.  In February 2013, 37 people died after a build-up of gas in the basement of the Mexico City Headquarters of State Petroleum Company PEMEX.


(from Vatican Radio)

Vatican to offer haircuts, shaves as well as showers to Rome's homeless ‎

The Vatican will offer homeless people in Rome not only showers but also haircuts and shaves when new facilities open next month, the head of Pope Francis' charity office said.  The Vatican announced last year that it would provide shower facilities in St Peter's Square for homeless people.  Archbishop Konrad Krajewski the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire on Thursday that it would also offer haircuts and shaves when the services start on Feb. 16 in an area under the colonnade of the square.  Arch. Krajewski, whose official title is the pope's almsgiver, said barbers and hairdressers would volunteer their services on Mondays, the day their shops are traditionally closed in Italy.  They had already donated chairs, hair-cutting instruments, and mirrors, the newspaper's website said.  Arch. Krajewski came up with the idea of building showers in St. Peter's Square last year after a homeless person told him that while it was relatively easy to find places to eat at Rome charities, it was difficult to find places to wash.  He immediately received the pope's backing for the shower project and then expanded it to include haircuts and shaves.  (Source: Reuter)

(from Vatican Radio)

Pope modifies and enriches Pallium Investiture Ceremony

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has made changes to the public ceremony of investiture of the Pallium on Metropolitan Archbishops emphasizing that the investiture is an ecclesial event of the whole diocese, and not merely a juridical or ceremonial event. 

Speaking to Vatican Radio, Monsignor Guido Marini, Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations, says that from now on – starting from the 29th June this year - the ceremony of investiture of the Pallium will take place in the Metropolitan Archbishops home dioceses and not in the Vatican.

Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni

Martini said the ceremony will thus be celebrated in  two significant moments: the first during which  the pallium will be blessed during the Mass on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul in the Vatican; the second when it will be placed on the Metropolitan Archbishop in his own diocese, by his representative, the Apostolic Nuncio.

It will be the responsibility of the Nuncio to determine with the Metropolitan Archbishops the most opportune date, circumstances and manner to publicly and officially invest him with the pallium by mandate of the Holy Father, and with the participation of the Suffragan Bishops of the Province.

Marini says that in this way the ceremony will continue to symbolize communion between the See of Peter and the Successor of the Apostle and those who are chosen to carry out the episcopal ministry as Metropolitan Archbishop of an Ecclesiastical Province, and it will favor the participation of the local Church in an important moment of its life and history.

(from Vatican Radio)

Bishops welcome court’s review of using lethal injection in executions

(CNS) The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to review the use of lethal injections in carrying out executions is a welcome move, said the chairmen of two U.S. bishops’ committees. The court said Jan. 23 it will review the drug protocols […]

The post Bishops welcome court’s review of using lethal injection in executions appeared first on CathNewsUSA.