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Pope taps Joliet auxiliary to head Evansville diocese

Vatican City, Oct 18, 2017 / 05:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday, the Vatican announced that Joseph M. Siegel, until now auxiliary bishop of Joliet, Illinois, will be taking the reins in the diocese of Evansville, Indiana, which has been vacant for several months.

Siegel's appointment was announced in an Oct. 18 communique from the Vatican, and comes just four months after the previous Bishop of Evansville, Charles C. Thompson, was reassigned to Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

The youngest of nine children, Seigel was born in Lockport Township July 18, 1963, and attended Catholic school.

After graduating from St. Charles Borromeo High School, he entered the local seminary where he completed his college education, and was eventually sent to study at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

He completed his theological studies there, also taking courses at the Pontifical Gregorian and Angelicum Universities.

Siegel was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Joliet March 4, 1988, and assigned to the St. Isidore Parish in Bloomingdale. While serving at the parish, he completed a Licentiate degree in Sacred Theology from the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein.

Other parish assignments the bishop held include St. Mary Immaculate in Plainfield, St. Mary Nativity in Joliet and the Cathedral of St. Raymond, where he also served as the diocesan Master of Ceremonies. In 2004, Siegel was named pastor of Visitation Parish in Elmhurst.

He served as a member of the diocese's Presbyteral Council for nine years, including three as chairman, and was also appointed to the diocesan Board of Consultors. He also held the role of director of the Continuing Formation for Priests and was a member of the diocesan Vocation Board, the Priest Personnel Board and was the Dean of Eastern Will County.

Within the Catholic Conference of Illinois, Siegel served as a priest-representative on the Executive Committee and was also chairman of the Catholics for Life Department. During the diocesan celebration of the Year of the Eucharist and Eucharistic Congress in Joliet, he chaired the Steering Committee.

Siegel was also a member of the Bishops’ Respect Life Advisory Board, and is a fourth degree Knight of Columbus and a member of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.

He was named auxiliary bishop of Joliet by Benedict XVI in 2009, and received his episcopal ordination in January 2010.

A year later, in December 2010, the bishop was named Apostolic Administrator of Joliet when the previous bishop, J. Peter Sartain, was reassigned to the Archdiocese of Seattle. When Joliet's current bishop, R. Daniel Conlon, was appointed in 2011, Siegel was named the diocese's Vicar General.

In addition to English, the bishop also speaks Spanish and Italian.

Pope Francis prays for victims of Somalia massacre

Vatican City, Oct 18, 2017 / 04:43 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday, Pope Francis offered prayers for the more than 300 victims of a terrorist bombing in the African country of Somalia, one of the most lethal attacks to take place anywhere in the world in recent years.

“I would like to express my sorrow for the massacre that occurred a few days ago in Mogadishu, Somalia,” the Pope said Oct. 18. “This terrorist act deserves the most firm censure, because it ravages a population that has already been so tried.”

The attack took place Oct. 14 when a truck packed with explosives blew up in front of a hotel in the Somali capital of Mogadishu, killing more than 300 people and injuring hundreds, including children.

Responsibility for the bombing has yet to be claimed by any group, though some Somalis have reacted to the attack by condemning al-Shabaab, an Islamist militant group associated with al-Qaeda.

In his appeal, Pope Francis said he prays “for the dead and the wounded, for their family members and for all the people of Somalia,” and also offered prayers “for the conversion of the violent.” He also encouraged “those who, with great difficulty, work for peace in that tortured land.”

Pope Francis made his appeal at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square. In his address, the Pope spoke about the inevitability of death, saying it’s good to meditate on our eventual passing.

As a piece of advice, he told pilgrims to recite Psalm 90, which asks to be taught how “to count our days and acquire a wise heart.”

These words help to give us a “healthy realism, casting off the delusions of omnipotence,” he said, asking: “What are we? We are ‘almost nothing,’ says another psalm; our days are running fast.”

He noted how many times he has heard older people speak about their life, saying it “passed like a breath.” Death brings our life into focus, showing how all our pride, anger and hatred is ultimately vanity, he said.

“We realize with regret that we have not loved enough and did not look for what was essential. And, on the contrary, we see what we have really sowed: the affections for which we have sacrificed ourselves and who now hold our hand.”

But faith gives us hope, he said, explaining that “we are all small and helpless in front of the mystery of death. However, what a grace if we keep the flame of faith in our hearts!”

Francis noted that Jesus, by his life and death, illuminated the mystery that is death. As an example, he pointed to the New Testament, when Jesus weeps after learning of the death of his dear friend Lazarus, showing us that it is okay to mourn the loss of a friend.

But then Jesus prays to the Father, the source of life, and orders Lazarus to leave the tomb: “and so it happens.”

This is a source of Christian hope, he said: that though death is a part of life and is present in creation, it is “an affront to the design of God's love, and the Savior wants it to be healed.”

In another Gospel episode, there is a father with a very sick daughter who addresses Jesus with faith, asking him to save her, the Pope recalled. But then, someone comes out from the man's house to tell him it is too late, his daughter has died.

“Jesus knows that man is tempted to react with anger and despair because of the child's death, and advises him to guard the small flame that is lit in his heart: faith.”

“Do not be afraid, only have faith,” Jesus says to the father, telling him that when he arrives at home, he will find the child alive.

Also in his words to Martha, as she weeps for the death of her brother Lazarus, Jesus teaches us that he is “the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live.”

These words are repeated to us every time death comes in order “to tear the fabric of life and affections,” Francis said, adding that “all our existence is played out here, between the side of faith and the precipice of fear.”

Jesus is the resurrection and the life, the Pope said, asking pilgrims: “do you believe this?” He then invited those present in St. Peter's Square to close their eyes and think of the moment of their death.

Think of your death and imagine the moment when Jesus will take you by the hand and say, “come, come with me, get up,” he said. Jesus will come to each of us, taking us by the hand “with his tenderness, his mildness, his love.”

“This is our hope before death,” he concluded. “For whoever believes, it is a door that opens wide completely; for those who doubt it is a glimmer of light that seeps out of a door that has not closed completely.”

“But for all of us it will be a grace when this light illuminates us.”

Pope Francis on why he gives interviews

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2017 / 03:49 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In a preface to a new book of interviews, Pope Francis outlined his approach to speaking with journalists, explaining that he thinks interviews should be like a conversation and this is why he doesn’t prepare answers in advance.

“For me interviews are a dialogue, not a lesson,” the Pope wrote.

“I do not prepare for this,” he said, stating that he usually declines to read the questions when they are sent in advance, instead opting to answer organically, as he would in an actual conversation.

“Yes, I am still afraid of being interpreted badly,” he clarified, while adding that as a pastor, it’s a risk he’s willing to take.

“Everything that I do has pastoral value, in one way or in another,” he said. “If I did not trust this, I would not allow interviews: for me it is clear. It's a manner of communicating my ministry.”

Pope Francis gave his thoughts on interviews, and why and how he gives them, in a preface written for a book called Now Ask Your Questions.

The book, a a collection of both new and old interviews with Pope Francis, was compiled by Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ, editor-in-chief of La Civiltà Cattolica. It will be presented Oct. 21.

In the preface, Francis explained that for him, giving an interview is not like ascending “a pulpit” to preach, but is a meeting between him and the journalist: “I need to meet the people and look them in the eyes,” he wrote.

He said he likes to speak with people from both small magazines and popular newspapers, because he feels “even more comfortable.”

“In fact, in those cases I really listen to the questions and concerns of ordinary people,” trying to answer “spontaneously” and in a “simple, popular language,” he explained.

He takes the same approach in press conferences aboard the papal plane when returning from apostolic visits, he said, though he sometimes imagines beforehand what questions journalists may ask.

He knows he must be prudent, he said, and he always prays to the Holy Spirit before listening to the questions and responding.

Historically however, Francis wasn’t fond of giving interviews. I may be “tough,” the Pope said, but I'm also shy, stating that as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he was a little afraid of journalists, though one eventually persuaded him.

“I've always been worried about bad interpretations of what I say,” he wrote. As with interviews in the past, he said he was hesitant to accept Spadaro’s request, though eventually he did and gave two long interviews, both which make up part of the book.

The compilation also includes various conversations with fellow Jesuits, which Francis said are the moments he usually feels the most comfortable and free to speak.

“I'm glad they've been included in this collection,” he said, since he feels like he is speaking among family members, and thus doesn’t fear being misunderstood.

Included in the book “are also two conversations with the superior generals of religious groups. I have always requested a real dialogue for them. I never wanted to give speeches and not have to listen to them,” he said.

“To me, to converse always felt the best way for us to really meet each other.”

In his meeting with Polish Jesuits, for example, the Pope said he spoke about discernment, strongly underlining the specific mission of the Society of Jesus today, “that is also a very important mission of the Church for our times.”

“I have a real need of this direct communication with people,” he said.

These conversations, which take place in meetings and interviews, are united in form to how he delivers his daily homilies at Mass in the Casa Santa Marta every morning, what is sort of his “parish,” he pointed out.

“I need this communication with people. There, four days a week, they go to find me, 25 people of a Roman parish, together with others.”

“I want a Church that knows how to get involved in people's conversations, that knows how to dialogue,” he said.

“It is the Church of Emmaus, in which the Lord ‘interviews’ the disciples who are walking, discouraged. For me, an interview is part of this conversation of the Church with the people of today.”

What is Pope Francis' approach to appointing new bishops?

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2017 / 02:34 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Among the most lasting aspects of a Pope’s leadership is his appointment of bishops. To understand a Pope, it’s important to understand how he makes decisions about episcopal leadership.

With that in mind, Pope Francis’ approach to the selection and appointment of bishops is worth considering.

When diocesan and auxiliary bishops turn 75 years old, they are required to submit a letter of resignation to the Pope, which he can accept immediately or at any time going forward.

At present, there are seven key posts in the world waiting for a new bishop. While it can take more than a year before a bishop’s resignation is accepted, many analysts anticipate a flurry of significant episcopal appointments over the next several months.  

Bishops who recently submitted a letter of resignation to Pope Francis include Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC; Cardinal Laurent Mosengwo of Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo); Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier of Durban (South Africa); Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegucigalpa (Honduras); Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City; Cardinal André Vingt-Trois of Paris; and Archbishop Peter Okada of Tokyo.

What will Pope Francis’ criteria be in appointing new bishops to these significant dioceses?

Some recent appointments may shed light on his priorities.  

Pope Francis recently appointed Mario Delpini, 66, to serve as Archbishop of Milan, succeeding Cardinal Angelo Scola. Delpini served as Milan’s auxiliary bishop for a decade before being appointed archbishop.

Archbishop Delpini had been a collaborator with the three previous archbishops of Milan, Cardinals Martini, Tettamanzi and Scola. Unlike his predecessors, however, all of his priestly life took place in the Archdiocese of Milan.

Pope Francis also recently appointed a Vicar of Rome, the title used for the functional head of the Diocese of Rome. To replace Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the Pope picked Bishop Angelo De Donatis, 63, who preached the 2014 Lenten spiritual exercises to the Roman Curia, and was appointed an auxiliary bishop of Rome in 2015.

Archbishops Delpini and De Donatis have several things in common. They both have extensive pastoral experience, both are considered ideologically moderate, and both were already connected to the dioceses they’d been appointed to lead. These are said to be key criteria in the episcopal appointments of Pope Francis.

In fact, the Pope’s apparent criteria were a factor in many of his other notable appointments.

In 2014, the Pope chose Cardinal Reinhard Woelki as Archbishop of Cologne, moving him from his post in Berlin. Cardinal Woelki’s move to Cologne was a return to his hometown. When he was appointed, he was noted for his human touch, his pastoral work and simple style of life – television news pieces featured him washing his clothes personally and cooking at his home.

The same year, the Pope picked Carlos Osoro Sierra as the Archbishop of Madrid, and later named him a cardinal. Cardinal Osoro Sierra is known as the “little Francis” in Spain, largely because of his pastoral gifts and his missionary impulse, which have been a transformational factor for the Church in Spain.

Given these four examples, what is the Pope going to do with the Church in the U.S.?

Over the past year, Pope Francis has appointed 16 U.S. bishops, most of them in smaller dioceses or as auxiliaries. The major pending question is that of the successor of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, D.C. Cardinal Wuerl is already 76 years old, more than a year beyond the normal retirement age.

The post in Washington, D.C. is a key post, as it involves both pastoral care and institutional relations with the U.S. political establishment. What will Pope Francis do?

An insistent rumor says that Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego might be at the top of the list.

Bishop McElroy recently grabbed headlines for jumping into the discussion on LGBT issues that followed Fr. James Martin’s book, “Building a Bridge.” Bishop McElroy has defended the book, and Martin, in the face of criticisms of his work.  

He also recently took part in a Boston College conference on Amoris Laetitia, hosted by Cardinal Blase Cupich and Father James Keenan, SJ. During the conference, Bishop McElroy reported on the diocesan synod he launched on Amoris Laetitia, and said that Catholic teaching must take seriously the complexity of adult moral life.

Among observers, he is considered a figure similar to Cardinal Blase Cupich, who was personally chosen by Pope Francis in 2014 to lead the Archdiocese of Chicago. This seems to suggest that he is a fit for Pope Francis’ model of episcopal leadership.

Of course, his appointment is simply a rumor, just as another rumor in Rome says that the Pope will soon call Cardinal Cupich to lead an important Vatican office in Rome.

There are no confirmation of rumors, and sometimes gossip is just a way to test possible reactions to an appointment. Such rumors are typical in such a moment of transition.

It’s worth noting that Pope Francis might also be reconsidering the selection process for bishops.

During the June 12-14 meeting of the Council of Cardinals, a new procedure for the appointment of bishops was discussed. It was not the first time the cardinals who advise Pope Francis have addressed this issue.

In particular, the Holy See Press Office explained that the consultation before the appointment of a new bishop might involve more local priests and laity. In the end, a bishop’s appointment is always a Pope’s appointment. However, the Pope receives suggestions – usually in the form of a set of three – from the local nuncios of each country, who consult broadly, and “interview” a number of people before suggesting any name to the Pope.

The idea being suggested is to emphasize the local level, rather than the nuncio’s suggestions. One of the issues apparently of concern is the way that nuncios gather information, as the standard questionnaire they deliver is said to be too dated.

 

 

Benedict XVI's secretary denies rumors that he is close to death

Vatican City, Oct 17, 2017 / 11:52 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the personal secretary of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, has rejected reports that the former pontiff is nearing death.

Rumors of Benedict XVI being close to death circulated on social media following a quote attributed to Ganswein, which reads, “Pope Benedict is like a candle that fades slowly. He is serene, at peace with God, with himself and the world. He can no longer walk without help and can no longer celebrate Mass.”

However, Archbishop Ganswein called this quote “pure invention.”

“It is false and wrong! I would like to know who the author of this is,” he said, according to German media outlet kath.net.

 “I have received in the last two days many messages that refer to this phrase, and people are worried,” he said.

Last week, Ratzinger’s brother was at the Vatican to visit, and he has now returned home, Ganswein confirmed, adding, “Both had a good time.”

 

In Diwali message to Hindus, Vatican officials call for mutual respect

Vatican City, Oct 16, 2017 / 11:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- With tensions between Christians and Hindu nationalists in India increasingly on the rise, the Vatican sent a message marking the Hindu feast of Diwali, urging members of both religions to go beyond mere tolerance of one another, and to foster a genuine mutual respect.

Diwali is a Hindu festival of lights, and is being celebrated this year on Oct. 19.

“May this festival of lights illumine your minds and lives, bring joy to your hearts and homes, and strengthen your families and communities,” read a greeting to Hindus sent Oct. 16 by the Pontifical Council for Interreligous Dialogue. The message was signed by the council's president, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, and its secretary, Bishop Miguel Ayuso Guixot.

In their message, titled “Christians and Hindus: Beyond Tolerance,” Tauron and  Ayuso acknowledged that there are many good things happening in the world for which to be grateful, but said there are also difficulties that “deeply concern us.”

They said, “the growth of intolerance, spawning violence in many parts of the world,” is one of these challenges.

In India this intolerance has been acutely felt with an increase in violence against minorities in the country, including Christians and Muslims. While there is no state religion in India, nearly 80 percent of its population is Hindu.

“On this occasion,” the Vatican officials wrote, “we wish to reflect on how Christians and Hindus can together foster mutual respect among people – and go beyond tolerance, in order to usher in a more peaceful and harmonious era for every society.”

“Tolerance certainly means being open and patient with others, recognizing their presence in our midst. If we are to work for lasting peace and true harmony, however, tolerance is not enough. What is also needed is genuine respect and appreciation for the diversity of cultures and customs within our communities, which in turn contribute to the health and unity of society as a whole,” the letter read.

They wrote that “to see pluralism and diversity as a threat to unity leads tragically to intolerance and violence.”

“Respect for others is an important antidote to intolerance since it entails authentic appreciation for the human person, and his or her inherent dignity.”

This respect encourages mutual esteem for different social, cultural and religious practices, while at the same time recognizing the inalienable rights of others, “such as the right to life and the right to profess and practice the religion of one’s choice,” they said.

In order for diverse communities to move forward, then, the path must be one “marked by respect,” they said: “While tolerance merely protects the other, respect goes further: it favors peaceful coexistence and harmony for all.”

“Respect creates space for every person, and nurtures within us a sense of 'feeling at home' with others,” and rather than dividing and isolating, “respect allows us to see our differences as a sign of the diversity and richness of the one human family.”

The Vatican officials then urged members of different religious traditions to “go beyond the confines of tolerance by showing respect to all individuals and communities, for everyone desires and deserves to be valued according to his or her innate dignity. This calls for the building of a true culture of respect, one capable of promoting conflict resolution, peace-making and harmonious living.”

“Grounded in our own spiritual traditions and in our shared concern for the unity and welfare of all people, may we Christians and Hindus, together with other believers and people of good will, encourage, in our families and communities, and through our religious teachings and communication media, respect for every person, especially for those in our midst whose cultures and beliefs are different from our own.”

Thus, they concluded, “we will move beyond tolerance to build a society that is harmonious and peaceful, where all are respected and encouraged to contribute to the unity of the human family by making their own unique contribution.”

Hunger must be fought by actively going to the roots, Pope Francis says

Vatican City, Oct 16, 2017 / 05:26 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Monday, Pope Francis issued a lengthy appeal to address the problem of world hunger not only through talk, but concrete action by going to the root of the problem and introducing a new global mentality aimed at love rather than profit.

With the risk of indifference rising as deaths due to hunger, abandonment or war are reported on a daily basis, “we urgently need to find new ways to transform the possibilities we have into a guarantee that will allow each person to face the future with established confidence, and not only with some illusion,” the Pope said Oct. 16.

In light of the vast portions of the global population who continue to suffer from malnutrition, war, climate change, forced migration and various forms of exploitation, “we can and must change course,” he said.

Noting how some would say simply “reducing the number of mouths to feed” would be enough to solve the problem of food shortage and global inequality, Francis said this is “a false solution” given current patterns of waste and consumption in some areas of the world.

Rather, he proposed “sharing” as a more effective strategy, which “implies conversion, and this is demanding.”

Francis spoke during his annual address to the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which estimates that across the board, a third of food produced in the world each year is wasted, amounting to some 1.3 billion tons.

He suggested a change in language used on the international scene which is focused on “the category of love, conjugated as gratuitousness, equal treatment, solidarity, a culture of gift, brotherhood and mercy.”

“These words express, effectively, the practical content of the term 'humanism,' often used in international activity,” he said.

Francis also highlighted the relationship between hunger and forced migration, saying the problem can only be solved “ if we go to the root of the problem,” rather that coming up with superficial solutions.

Referencing various studies, the Pope noted that the main underlying causes of hunger, which in itself prompts many to migrate, are “conflicts and climate change.”

The effects of climate change are felt on a daily basis, he said, explaining that thanks to science, the international community already knows how to face the problem.

He praised initiatives such as the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, and urged nations to uphold the agreement. However, he noted that “unfortunately, some are moving away from (it).”

Though Pope Francis mentioned no one specifically, his reference includes the United States, which pulled out of the agreement June 1 as President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would pursue other means of addressing the environmental issue which are more favorable to Americans.

In terms of conflict, the Pope pointed to various “martyred populations” suffering from decades of war, many of which “could have been avoided or at least stopped, and yet they spread such disastrous and cruel effects as food insecurity and the forced displacement of peoples.”

To overcome these conflicts, both “good will and dialogue” are needed, as well as firm and total commitment to a “gradual and systemic disarmament” in war zones.

“What is the point of denouncing that, because of military conflicts, millions of people are victims of hunger and malnutrition, if we do not act effectively in the interest of peace and disarmament?” he said.

“It is clear that wars and climate change are an occasion for hunger, so let us avoid, then, presenting it as an incurable illness.”

Human mobility, he said, can and must be managed by a coordinated and systemic action on the parts of governments that are in accord with existing international standards, and which are “impregnated with love and intelligence.”

In terms of solutions, he said it's possible to stop the use of weapons of mass destruction because the world has recognized “the destructive capacity of these weapons.” However, he asked whether “we (are) equally aware of the effects of the poverty and exclusion?”

People who are “willing to risk everything” to escape violence, hunger, poverty or climate change won't be stopped by physical, economic, legislative or ideological barriers, he said, explaining that “a coherent application of the principle of humanity” is the only thing capable of addressing the problem.

Francis urged “a broad and sincere” dialogue at all levels of society in order for “the best solutions” to be found and for new relationships to be formed which are characterized by “mutual responsibility, solidarity and communion.”

Although current initiatives in place are praiseworthy, “they are not enough,” he said, and stressed the need to promote and develop new actions and financial programs “which combat hunger and structural misery more effectively and with high hopes of success.”

In developing these new tactics, it's necessary to avoid the temptation “to act in favor of small groups of the population” or to used aid funding “inappropriately, favoring corruption, or lack of legality,” he said.

Closing his remarks, the Pope voiced the desire for the Catholic Church to directly participate in the various efforts being pursued and implemented given her mission, “which leads it to love everyone and also forces it to remind those who have national or international responsibility of the great duty to meet the needs of the poorest.”

Francis, who received a standing ovation for his speech, gifted the FAO with a marble statue commemorating Aylan Kurdi, the 3-year-old Syrian refugee boy whose body washed up on the shores of Turkey in 2015 after a failed attempt to cross the Mediterranean.

Vatican City court finds former hospital president guilty of corruption

Vatican City, Oct 15, 2017 / 01:09 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Vatican City announced Saturday the conclusion of the corruption trial of the former president and treasurer of the Vatican-owned Bambino Gesù hospital in Rome.

The Oct. 14 communique announced the end of the trial and the conviction of former president, Giuseppe Profiti, on charges of abuse of office. The hospital's former treasurer, Massimo Spina, was acquitted.

The final hearing was held Saturday morning. The finding was pronounced after roughly two hours of deliberation.

Profiti was given a penalty of one year imprisonment, one year interdiction from public offices and a fine of 5,000 euros ($5,900).

However, subject to the granting of general attenuating circumstances, Profiti was granted a five-year conditional suspension of the sentence. A conditional suspension means that if a new offense is committed in the five-year period he becomes immediately subject to the penalty.

The judicial board which delivered the sentence was composed of Paolo Papanti Pelletier, president, Venerando Marano, judge, Carlo Bonzano, judge, and Elisa Pacella, alternate chancellor.

Vatican City reported it was conducting an investigation into this matter in 2016 after documents were published implying there may have been the illicit transfer of funds from the hospital’s foundation.

The Vatican announced July 13 it was charging Profiti and Spina with the illicit use of hospital funds in the amount of 422,005 euros ($499,000) for the refurbishment of the apartment where Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone lives.

The crime was said to have been carried out during the period of November 2013-May 28, 2014 and to have benefited the construction firm of Italian businessman Gianantonio Bandera, which was carrying out the renovations on the apartment.

Profiti and Spina were summoned to appear before the court by a June 16, 2017 decree from the president of the Vatican Tribunal, Giuseppe Dalla Torre. The first hearing took place July 18.

The Bambino Gesù was founded in Rome in 1869 as the first pediatric hospital in Italy. In 1924 it was donated to the Holy See and became the “Pope's Hospital.” While it receives funding from the Italian government, it does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Italian government’s health authorities.

Pope at canonization Mass: God never stops inviting us to the heavenly banquet

Vatican City, Oct 15, 2017 / 05:14 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Sunday, Pope Francis canonized 35 new saints in the Catholic Church, saying that no matter how often we reject him, the Lord will continue to love us and invite us to participate in his heavenly banquet.

“The Gospel tells us that, even before constant rejection and indifference on the part of those whom he invites, God does not cancel the wedding feast. He does not give up, but continues to invite,” the Pope said Oct. 15.

“When he hears a ‘no,’ he does not close the door, but broadens the invitation. In the face of wrongs, he responds with an even greater love.”

Francis explained that when we are hurt by others, we often harbor grudges and resentment. But God, on the other hand, while pained by our rejection of him, does not give up. He tries again and again.

“He keeps doing good even for those who do evil. Because this is what love does. Because this is the only way that evil is defeated,” the Pope said.

“Today our God, who never abandons hope, tells us to do what he does, to live in true love, to overcome resignation and the whims of our peevish and lazy selves.”

In a Mass with 35,000 pilgrims in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis canonized 35 new saints, including Cristobal, Antonio and Juan, three teenage boys from the 16th century in Mexico, who were beaten to death after converting to Catholicism.

“...we declare and define Andre de Soveral, Ambrosio Francisco Ferro, Mateo Moreira and 27 companions; Cristobal, Antonio and Juan; Faustino Miguez; and Angelo of Acri to be Saints,” Francis stated.

“And we enroll them among the Saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church.”

In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on the day’s Gospel from Matthew, in which Jesus tells the parable of the wedding feast to explain the Kingdom of God. In the parable, guests are invited by the king to the wedding feast of his son.

“Such is the Christian life, a love story with God,” the Pope said. “The Lord freely takes the initiative,” inviting, not a select few, but everyone to participate in his Kingdom.

“The Christian life is always born and reborn of this tender, special and privileged love,” he said.

The Pope pointed out that some people, however, ignore the invitation and instead continue to go about doing their own thing.

In the Gospel passage, each person “was concerned with his own affairs; this is the key to understanding why they refused the invitation,” he continued. The guests weren't worried about being bored or annoyed, they simply did not care.

“They were more interested in having something rather than in risking something, as love demands,” he said. In the Gospel, then, we are being asked where we stand: with God or with ourselves, Francis stated. “Because God is the opposite of selfishness, of self-absorption.”

We should ask ourselves if at least once a day we tell the Lord that we love him. Among all the things we say each day, there should also be the prayer, “Lord, I love you’ you are my life,” he said.

Because without love, and without a relationship with Christ, the Christian life becomes empty and dead; merely a collection of rules and laws with no good reason for obedience. “The God of life, however, awaits a response of life. The Lord of love awaits a response of love.”

Today’s newly canonized saints all responded to God with love, he explained. As the Gospel emphasizes, it is not enough to merely respond “yes” to God’s invitation one time, and then do nothing.

“Day by day, we have to put on the wedding garment, the 'habit' of practicing love,” he said.

The newly canonized saints, especially the many martyrs, are an example of this daily habit of choosing to love God and choosing to do his will, he pointed out.

Cristobal, Antonio and Juan lived in Mexico in the 16th century, at the start of the Christian missionary work in the country. Cristobal was educated in the Christian faith by Franciscan missionaries, asking to be baptized.

He then began to share the Gospel with his family and acquaintances in an effort to convert them, especially his father who had abusive habits and was frequently drunk.

One day, after Cristobal destroyed the pagan idols in his family's home, his father began to kick and beat him, breaking his arms and legs. The boy continued to pray, despite the intense pain, so his father threw him into a burning fire, killing him.

The boy Antonio and his young servant Juan, all born in the same town as Cristobal, helped the Dominican missionaries who were setting up a mission in a nearby town as interpreters for the other indigenous people.

The boys were warned that it was a task that could likely end in death, but still volunteered to go. One day, while entering a house to destroy the pagan idols as usual, angry townspeople approached and began beating Juan to death with sticks.

Antonio turned to the aggressors and asked, “Why do you beat my companion who has no fault? It is I who collect idols, because they are diabolical and not divine.” The people then turned to Antonio, also beating him to death.

The blood of the three boys is considered the first seed of the great growth of Catholicism in the country of Mexico.  

Martyrs Andre de Soveral and Ambrosio Francisco Ferro, diocesan priests, were killed in hatred of the faith in Brazil on July 16, 1645; Mateo Moreira, a layman, and 27 fellow martyrs, were also killed in hatred of the faith in Brazil on October 3, 1645.

Manuel Miguez Gonzalez, who took the religious name Faustino of the Incarnation, was a priest and a professed member of the Piarists (the Order of Poor Clerics Regular of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools). He lived from 1831-1925 in Spain.

Angelo of Acri, a priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins, lived in Italy from 1669-1739.

Concluding his homily, the Pope urged everyone to ask the Lord, “through the intercession of the saints, our brothers and sisters,” for the grace to make a habit of love, accepting God’s invitation to the wedding feast.

We should also ask for his help in keeping our wedding clothes “spotless.”

“How can we do this?” Francis asked. “Above all, by approaching the Lord fearlessly in order to receive his forgiveness. This is the one step that counts, for entering into the wedding hall to celebrate with him the feast of love.”

Pope announces special 2019 Synod of Bishops on South American region

Vatican City, Oct 15, 2017 / 04:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Sunday, Pope Francis announced the decision to hold a special assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to take place in October 2019, on the state of evangelization in the Pan-Amazon region of South America.

“Accepting the desire of some Catholic bishops' conferences in Latin America, as well as the voice of various pastors and faithful from other parts of the world, I have decided to convene a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops,” Francis said Oct. 15.

The purpose of the assembly will be to “identify new paths for the evangelization” of people in the Pan-Amazon region of South America, meaning Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Guyana, Peru, Venezuela and Surinam, “especially the indigenous people, often forgotten,” he said.

The assembly will also address the “crisis of the Amazonian Forest, a lung of great importance to our planet.”

The Pope’s announcement was made in St. Peter’s Square before the recitation of the Angelus, and following the canonization Mass of 35 new saints.

New saints Andre de Soveral, Ambrosio Francisco Ferro, and Mateo Moreira and 27 companions were all martyred in Brazil. Three teenage boys, Cristobal, Antonio and Juan, also martyred, were from Mexico.

The other new saints are Faustino Miguez of Spain and Angelo of Acri, Italy.

“The new Saints will intercede for this ecclesial event, so that, in respect for the beauty of creation, all the peoples of the earth may praise God, Lord of the universe, and enlightened by him walk on the paths of justice and peace,” Francis stated.

Serving as an advisory body to the Pope, the Synod of Bishops was established by Pope Paul VI in 1965 by the motu proprio Apostolica sollicitudo to “strengthen (the Pope's) union” with other bishops and to “establish even closer ties” with them.

It consists of a group of bishops from around the world who meet every three years “to foster closer unity between the Roman Pontiff and bishops, to assist the Roman Pontiff with their counsel...and to consider questions pertaining to the activity of the Church in the world,” according to canon law.

The Synod of Bishops may meet for ordinary general assemblies, which are on a matter of importance to the Church in general and held at fixed intervals, or for special assemblies, which focus on a specific geographical area of the Church.
Extraordinary general assemblies can also be organized in the case of an urgent matter.

The last special assembly of the Synod of Bishops was held in 2010 on the situation in the Middle East.

The 50th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is set to take place in October 2018, and will discuss “Young People, the Faith and the Discernment of Vocation.”

The last Synod of Bishops was dedicated to the family and took place in two parts, the first being an Extraordinary Synod in 2014, which was followed by the Ordinary Synod in 2015 that drew 279 cardinals, bishops and representatives from all over the world to discuss the challenges and blessings of family life.