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Shroud of Turin exhibit to be held at Bible museum in DC

The Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. / bakdc/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Jan 27, 2022 / 14:54 pm (CNA).

The Museum of the Bible will be opening a new exhibit dedicated to the Shroud of Turin next month.

“Mystery & Faith: The Shroud of Turin” will open to the public Feb. 26, and run until July 31. Admission is included with Museum of the Bible admission. The museum is located in Washington, D.C. 

The Shroud of Turin is an artifact that many believe to be the burial shroud of Christ. It is a 14-by-three-foot long piece of cloth stained with the image of a deceased man who had been tortured and crucified. The actual Shroud of Turin is stored in Turin, Italy. 

“One of the things we’ll do in the exhibit is to highlight the Gospel stories and show how the shroud reflects that, and how it’s depicted in the cloth, reflected in the cloth,” Jeffrey Kloha, Ph.D, the museum’s chief curatorial officer, said in a video posted on the Museum of the Bible’s website.

“It really gives us a great opportunity to allow people who might just have a surface knowledge to want to come and dig deeper,” he added.  

The exhibit will feature five exhibit sections and “eight cutting-edge interactives” to teach visitors “about how the Shroud mirrors the Gospels, its history, and its impact on millions of people.” 

Brian Hyland, a curator at the Museum of the Bible, said that one of the interactive stations will feature a recreation of the Shroud of Turin. Visitors will be able to wave their hands over parts of the shroud, which will trigger an audio explanation of how that specific part of the shroud is connected to the Gospel account of the crucifixion. 

“It mirrors the Gospels in the way that the pattern, the wounds on the shroud, match so closely to the Gospels,” said Hyland. “And that ties in to our mission at Museum of the Bible, of telling stories of the Bible.” 

To celebrate the opening of the exhibit, the Museum of the Bible is hosting a “grand opening celebration” on Feb. 26, featuring presentations from four experts on the Shroud of Turin: Russ Breault, Barrie Schwortz, Fr. Robert Spitzer, and Dr. Cheryl White.

EWTN, the parent company of Catholic News Agency, is one of the event’s sponsors. 

Spitzer, a Jesuit priest, is the host of “Father Spitzer’s Universe” on EWTN, as well as the  founder and president of the Magis Institute of Reason of Faith and the the Spitzer Center of Ethical Leadership.

White is a professor of history at Louisiana State University at Shreveport, and is a member of the American Confraternity of the Holy Shroud, serves on the board of the Shroud of Turin Research and Education Association, and is the co-host of the podcast “Who Is the Man of the Shroud?” 

Breault is the president and founder of the Shroud of Turin Education Project Inc., and has been researching the Shroud of Turin for over three decades. 

Schwortz, a retired technical photographer and scientist, was a member of the 1978 Shroud of Turin Research Project. At the time, he described himself as a non-practicing Jew. In a 2015 profile by Catholic News Agency, Schwortz said that the “science that convinced me” that the Shroud was not an ordinary artifact. 

"I think I serve God better this way, in my involvement in the Shroud, by being the last person in the world people would expect to be lecturing on what is, effectively, the ultimate Christian relic," he told CNA in 2015. 

"I think God in his infinite wisdom knew better than I did, and he put me there for a reason."

The Museum of the Bible was opened in 2017 and claims to be the "world's largest museum dedicated to the Bible." Its founder Steve Green, who is also the president of the craft chain Hobby Lobby.

When the museum was under construction in 2015, Green touted that the museum's collection of Biblical items was one of the largest private collections in the world. Many of those items have since been revealed to be forgeries. 

In 2017, the Department of Justice filed a civil forfeiture complaint and a stipulation of settlement, in which Hobby Lobby agreed to return approximately 3,500 artifacts to Iraq. 

Green had made the purchase of more than 5,500 cuneiform tablets and other artifacts in 2010 after a trip to the United Arab Emirates, despite warnings from experts that some of the items were likely stolen from archeological sites in Iraq.

Most of the artifacts were shipped into the U.S. by foreign antiquities dealers who made false statements on shipping labels and gave fake provenances and invoices, according to the DOJ.

Pope Francis meets Auschwitz survivor on Holocaust Remembrance Day

Pope Francis meets with Holocaust survivor Edith Bruck at the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta, Jan. 27, 2022. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Jan 27, 2022 / 11:40 am (CNA).

Pope Francis marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Thursday with an hour-long meeting with Auschwitz survivor Edith Bruck.

The Holy See press office said on Jan. 27 that the pope had “a long and affectionate conversation” with the 90-year-old Hungarian-born Jewish writer at his residence, the Casa Santa Marta.

“In particular, both stressed the inestimable value of transmitting the memory of the past to the youngest, even in its most painful aspects, so as not to fall back into the same tragedies,” the press office said.

The pope visited Bruck at her home in Rome in February 2021.

The writer was born in Hungary in 1931 but has lived in Italy since her early 20s. She survived the Nazi concentration camps in Auschwitz and Dachau, where she was sent with her parents, two brothers, and a sister at the age of 12.

Her parents and a brother died in the concentration camps. Bruck and her remaining siblings were freed from the Bergen-Belsen camp by the Allies in 1945.

Bruck previously thanked the pope for highlighting antisemitism during his visit to Hungary and Slovakia in September 2021.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

Pope Francis spoke about International Holocaust Remembrance Day — held on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on Jan. 27, 1945 — at his general audience on Jan. 26.

He told pilgrims: “It is necessary to remember the extermination of millions of Jews, and people of different nationalities and religious faiths. This unspeakable cruelty must never be repeated.”

“I appeal to everyone, especially educators and families, to foster in the new generations an awareness of the horror of this black page of history. It must not be forgotten, so that we can build a future where human dignity is no longer trampled underfoot.”

Addressing the permanent council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on Jan. 27, a Vatican diplomat highlighted the danger of “distortions, including Holocaust denial and revisionism.”

Father Janusz Urbańczyk said: “These distortions are allowing the threat of antisemitism to lurk in Europe and elsewhere.”

According to Vatican News, Urbańczyk added that Holocaust Remembrance Day helped “memory to play its necessary part in the process of shaping a future in which the unspeakable iniquity of the Shoah will never again be possible.”

In a Jan. 27 statement, Bishop Rafał Markowski, chairman of the Polish bishops’ committee for dialogue with Judaism, paid tribute to Holocaust victims.

He said: “We remember their tragic fates, firmly believing that God is the God of Life, and man lives forever in God.”

“We also commemorate the heroic actions of many people, known and unknown by name, who, like St. Maximilian Maria Kolbe, did not let themselves be overcome by evil, but overcame it with the power of good.”

“May their stories motivate us to responsibly strive for peace, for respect for life, dignity and freedom of every person and nation.”

US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer formally announces retirement

US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announces his retirement in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, in Washington, DC, Jan. 27, 2022. / Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Washington D.C., Jan 27, 2022 / 11:32 am (CNA).

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer formally announced his upcoming retirement from the Supreme Court on Thursday, one day after his plans were leaked by NBC News.

“I am writing to tell you that I have decided to retire from regular active judicial service as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States,” said a Jan. 27 letter from Breyer to President Joe Biden (D).

Breyer said that his resignation would go into effect when the Supreme Court enters its summer recess, “assuming that by then my successor has been nominated and confirmed.”

At 83, Breyer is the oldest justice on the Supreme Court. He was appointed to the bench in 1994 by President Bill Clinton (D).

“I enormously appreciate the privilege of serving as part of the federal judicial system - nearly 14 years as a Court of Appeals judge and nearly 28 years as a Member of the Supreme Court,” wrote Breyer. He said that he found judicial work to be “challenging and meaningful” and that he had “warm and friendly” relationships with his colleagues.

“Throughout, I have been aware of the great honor of participating as a judge in the effort to maintain our Constitution and the rule of law,” said Breyer.

Biden and Breyer made a joint appearance on Thursday afternoon to discuss the justice’s retirement announcement.

The president praised Breyer for his “remarkable career of public service, and his clear-eyed commitment to making our country’s laws work for its people.”

Breyer, added Biden, was a “model public servant in a time of great division” and he “patiently sought common ground” during his time on the Supreme Court.

With Breyer’s retirement, Biden is set to make his first nomination to the Supreme Court. In his appearance on Thursday, Biden reaffirmed his campaign pledge to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court.

"I will nominate someone with extraordinary qualifications, charity, experience and integrity,” said Biden. “And that person will be the first Black woman ever nominated to the United States Supreme Court.”

Biden added that he did not have a specific person in mind for whom he was going to nominate, but said that he would work with both Democratic and Republican members of the Senate while deciding who he would put forward.

The nomination will come “before the end of February,” said the president.

A member of the liberal wing of the Supreme Court, Breyer has consistently supported abortion rights throughout his time on the court.

In 2000, Breyer authored the decision in Stenberg v. Carhart, which found that Nebraska’s law banning partial-birth abortions was unconstitutional as it did not have an exception to preserve the health of the mother. In Hill v. Colorado, which was decided one day before Stenberg v. Carhart, Breyer joined with the majority in upholding a Colorado law prohibiting protests outside of abortion clinics.

Due to Breyer’s age, calls for his retirement have been increasing since Biden’s election, to avoid a repeat of what happened when Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in September 2020.

In 2020, shortly before the presidential election, Ginsburg, who was considered to be on the court’s liberal wing, died after a battle with cancer. President Donald Trump (R) then appointed Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative, to the Supreme Court, shifting the balance of the court.

Just War Theory and Ukraine: Would war with Russia be in accord with Catholic teaching?

Pope Francis is calling for prayers for a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Ukraine. / Shutterstock

Denver Newsroom, Jan 27, 2022 / 11:24 am (CNA).

Pope Francis called for a day of prayer for peace in Ukraine on Jan. 26., amid fears of a potential deeper incursion into the Eastern European country by Russia.

“I make a heartfelt appeal to all people of goodwill, that they may raise prayers to God Almighty, that every political action and initiative may serve human brotherhood, rather than partisan interests,” Pope Francis said on Jan. 23, admonishing all to remember the many lives lost in Ukraine during World War II and inveighing against war. “Please, no more war,” he said, appealing to those in power.

The prospect of war between Ukraine and Russia, and the potential involvement of the United States, brings with it questions about the morality of war. Just what is the Church’s teaching on war?

Unlike the Quakers and other Christian denominations, the Catholic Church is not pacifist in principle. Church teaching on the morality of war is based on a theory expounded by St. Augustine in the 4th century known as just war theory, and recognizes a potentially just reason to engage in war under certain conditions.

In 2019, expert theologians told CNA that applying this theory to modern warfare, which often involves missile and air strikes rather than pitched battles between troops, is more complicated but still normative.  

Kevin Miller, a moral theologian at Franciscan University of Steubenville, explained that the concept was a well-established part of Church teaching and thought.

"The Catechism of the Catholic Church does a nice job of summarizing the criteria for entering into the use of military force for self-defense," Miller told CNA, "though I tend to think of just war as more of a 'doctrine' than a 'theory' in the Church."

In his 2019 interview, Miller said the Church's moral criteria are divided into two categories: the ius ad bellum and the ius in bello, covering the right to war and how it is to be conducted once begun. To be morally licit, a war must be both just in its cause and conducted with justness.

Precisely what constitutes a just cause?

"The first criterion for the use of military force is, of course, a just cause," Taylor Patrick O'Neill, assistant professor of theology at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, told CNA in another 2019 interview.

Paragraph 2309 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that at one and the same time “the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain; all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective; there must be serious prospects of success; the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.”

According to the Catechism, weighing the above elements “belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.”

As universal shepherds, popes have often sought to influence the prudential judgments about the morality of war made by world leaders. In 2003, Pope John Paul II sent a delegation to dissuade President George W. Bush not to invade Iraq. Pope Francis was joined by his call to prayer for a peaceful resolution to the Ukraine crisis by bishops in the European episcopate and other bishops around the world.

The question of proportionality in war — whether military action causes more evil and disorder than it remedies — is an especially difficult question to answer, according to the theologians interviewed by CNA.

Said Miller: "To have the moral justification and to make some calculus of proportionality, you have to have some good intelligence about who could be harmed. Obviously, there can be unintended consequences, but you have to have a good amount of information about what the effects of a military action could be before you can judge if it is a just response."

Explained O’Neill: "Of course, so much of this is about thinking five or 10 steps down the road, and it is about balancing the need to prevent an escalation while keeping an eye on all the possible unforeseen consequences."

Some European bishops who joined the Holy Father in calling for prayer for peace in the Ukraine this week voiced concerns about escalation. Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, and Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, president of the Polish bishops conference, said earlier this week that rising tensions with Russia pose “a great danger” to the whole of Europe “which may destroy the progress made so far by many generations in building a peaceful order and unity in Europe.” 

Ukraine, which has a population of 44 million people, borders Moldova, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Belarus, and Russia.

In addition to satisfying the first set of conditions simultaneously to arrive at a decision that a just cause exists, the war must also be carried out in a just way. The Vatican II document Gaudium et Spes teaches clearly that: “The mere fact that war has regrettably broken out does not mean that everything becomes licit between warring parties.”

This means that military actions must meet certain moral conditions. For instance, indiscriminate destruction of cities or civilian life is prohibited, and the basic human rights of non-combatants, wounded soldiers, and prisoners of war must not be abrogated.

But serious questions of what military actions constitute ius in bello, or just acts in war, have multiplied in recent years with the advent of drone strikes and other acts of war against infrastructure that serves dual military and civilian purposes.

Modern conflicts often involve remote means of warfare and targets which are of unclear military status, such as governmental intelligence posts, radar stations, or other logistical installations. While the personnel in them might be primarily military, the presence of civilians has to be weighed carefully in discerning military action.

"The classification of people involved can be very difficult to discern in modern conflicts," O'Neill said.

"We don't necessarily see artillery shelling enemy lines. With strikes from distance on military targets, there are people involved who might not be military personnel: they might be government intelligence workers or people in a gray area,” he said. “But then there's the possibility of just the civilian janitor in the building — how do you put them in the balance of proportionality?

“It makes things very difficult."

O'Neill said that with modern means of warfare, there is a very high burden on governments to take all measures possible to limit the loss of potentially innocent human life.

The Russo-Ukrainian War began in February 2014, focused on the east of Ukraine. The conflict has claimed more than 14,000 lives and driven 1.3 million people from their homes, according to Caritas Internationalis, a Vatican-based confederation of Catholic charities raising funds for those affected.

The warring parties agreed to a cease-fire in July 2020. But Russia has sent an estimated 100,000 troops to the Ukrainian border. U.S. President Joe Biden said on Jan. 19 that he expected Russian President Vladimir Putin to order an invasion. 

Since then, tensions have not cooled down. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday that Putin will take time to study documents hand delivered by Western leaders regarding the conflict. But, he added, “it cannot be said that our views were taken into account, or that a readiness to take our concerns into account was demonstrated." 


Cardinal in key Synod on Synodality post: ‘Reforms need a stable foundation’

Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich celebrates Mass at the International Eucharistic Congress in Budapest, Hungary, Sept. 10, 2021. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Freiburg, Jan 27, 2022 / 10:20 am (CNA).

A Jesuit cardinal who will play a central role in the 2023 Synod on Synodality has said that reforms in the Catholic Church require “a stable foundation.”

In a wide-ranging interview in the February edition of the German magazine Herder Korrespondenz, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich was asked whether he could envisage the introduction of women deacons, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

He said: “I would have nothing against it. But reforms need a stable foundation. If the pope were now simply to allow viri probati [the priestly ordination of mature, married men] and deaconesses, the danger of schism would be great.”

“After all, it’s not just about the German situation, where perhaps only a small part would break away. In Africa or in countries like France, many bishops would possibly not go along with it.”

Last July, Pope Francis named Hollerich, the archbishop of Luxembourg, as the relator general of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome.

The event, commonly known as the Synod on Synodality, has been described as the most important Church event since the Second Vatican Council in 1962-65.

Hollerich told Herder Korrespondenz he believed that Pope Francis was misunderstood.

He said: “The pope has nothing against conservatives if they learn from life. In the same way, he has nothing against the reformers if they keep the whole Church in mind. And the pope does not like infighting in the Church.”

“I sometimes have the impression that the German bishops do not understand the pope. The pope is not liberal, he is radical. From the radicality of the Gospel comes the change.”

The cardinal, who is also the president of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE), acknowledged that structural reform was necessary, but said it required consensus.

“In any case, we have to take as many people as possible along the way,” he said. “And then it’s not about pastoral workers becoming second-class clergy. There must not be an ordained and a non-ordained clergy, but clericalism must be destroyed. Among the priests, but also among the laity.”

The 63-year-old cardinal also discussed the Latin Mass, which he said had a “very beautiful” text. He explained that he sometimes used Latin when celebrating Mass in his private chapel, but had reservations about doing so in a parish setting.

“I know the people there don’t understand Latin and can’t do anything with it,” he said.

“But I have been asked to do a Latin service in Antwerp [Belgium], in the present rite. I will do that, but I would not celebrate in the old rite.”

Hollerich noted that as a cardinal, he would be expected to wear a cappa magna (“great cape”), a vestment with a long train.

“I would certainly fall because I am not used to walking with such a train,” he said.

“And above all, I would be mortally embarrassed. What would Christ say? Is that how you imagine me following Him? To glide along wrapped in purple? ‘I have said that he who loves me must take up his cross... and follow me, not take up your purple train.’”

“I would have the impression that I was betraying Christ. That is not to say that other people may not be able to do it in a good sense. But I can’t.”

Pope Francis urges Roman Rota to work with ‘synodal spirit’

Pope Francis addresses members of the Roman Rota in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall, Jan. 27, 2022. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Jan 27, 2022 / 07:25 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Thursday urged members of the Catholic Church’s highest court handling appeals of marriage annulment cases to work with a “synodal spirit.”

In his annual speech to the Apostolic Tribunal of the Roman Rota on Jan. 27, the pope recalled that the worldwide Church is engaged in a two-year consultation process ahead of the 2023 Synod on Synodality.

“The synodal path we are currently following also challenges our meeting, because it also involves the judicial sphere and your mission at the service of families, especially those who are wounded and in need of the balm of mercy,” he said in his address in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall.

The Roman Rota is one of the three courts of the Holy See, along with the Apostolic Penitentiary and the Apostolic Signatura. Among the Rota’s primary responsibilities is considering appeals in marriage nullity cases.

A declaration of nullity — often referred to as an “annulment” — is a ruling by a tribunal that a marriage did not meet the conditions required to make it valid according to Church law.

Thursday’s meeting, which marked the start of the Rota’s new judicial year, began with an address to the pope by Msgr. Alejandro Arellano Cedillo, the Spanish dean of the Roman Rota.

In his speech, the pope referred to the Amoris Laetitia Family Year, which marks the fifth anniversary of the publication of Amoris laetitia, his apostolic exhortation on love in the family. The celebration will end on June 26, with the 10th edition of the World Meeting of Families in Rome.

He said: “In this year dedicated to the family as an expression of the joy of love, we have the opportunity today to reflect on synodality in matrimonial nullity proceedings.”

“Although synodal work is not strictly procedural in nature, it should be placed in dialogue with judicial activity, in order to encourage a more general rethinking of the importance of the experience of the canonical process for the lives of the faithful who have experienced a marriage breakdown and, at the same time, for the harmony of relationships within the ecclesial community.”

“Let us then ask ourselves in what sense the administration of justice needs a synodal spirit.”

The pope said in matrimonial cases it was vital that all parties set aside subjective interests and focus on the same goal: “that of shining the light on the truth about a concrete union between a man and a woman, arriving at the conclusion as to whether or not there is a true marriage between them.”

He said that from the earliest stages of a case, couples should be invited to seek “forgiveness and reconciliation” and not to see a declaration of nullity as “the only objective” or something that is “a right regardless of the facts.”

He underlined that “any voluntary alteration or manipulation of the facts, aimed at obtaining a pragmatically desired result, is not admissible.”

Pope Francis illustrated his point by describing a case that a bishop recently presented to him concerning a disciplinary problem with a priest.

The judge of the national Church court told the bishop that he was prepared to give whatever verdict was desired. “If you tell me to condemn him, I will condemn him; if you tell me to acquit him, I will acquit him,” he said, according to the pope.

“This can happen. It can come to this if there is no unity in the trials even with conflicting sentences,” the pope reflected. “Go together, because the good of the Church, the good of the people, is at stake. It is not a negotiation that takes place.”

In his address, Pope Francis alluded to his 2015 document Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus, which made changes to canon law intended to streamline the process by which Church tribunals assess requests for declarations of nullity.

The text said that in each diocese, “the judge in first instance for cases of nullity or marriage for which the law does not expressly make an exception is the diocesan bishop.”

The pope reiterated on Thursday that “the original judge is the bishop.”

He said: “The dean greeted me saying: ‘the pope, universal judge of all…’ But this is because I am bishop of Rome and Rome presides over everything, not because I have another title. Thanks to this.”

“If the pope has this power it is because he is the bishop of the diocese of which the Lord wanted the bishop to be the pope. The real and first [judge] is the bishop, not the judicial vicar, the bishop.”

Returning to the theme of synodality, the pope urged judges to develop their listening skills.

“As in other areas of pastoral care, in judicial activity too, we need to foster a culture of listening, a prerequisite for a culture of encounter,” he said.

“This is why standard answers to the concrete problems of individual persons are harmful.”

He also reminded judges to be open to their colleagues when considering cases as part of a panel.

“In this sense, in your action as ministers of the tribunal, the pastoral heart, the spirit of charity and understanding towards people who suffer from the failure of their married life, must never be lacking,” he said.

“To acquire such a style it is necessary to avoid the cul-de-sac of juridicism — which is a kind of legal Pelagianism; it is not Catholic, juridicism is not Catholic — that is, of a self-referential vision of the law.”

“Law and judgment are always at the service of truth, justice, and the evangelical virtue of charity.”

He said that another important aspect of “the synodality of processes” was discernment.

“It is a matter of discernment based on walking together and listening, and which allows us to read the concrete situation of marriage in the light of the Word of God and the Magisterium of the Church,” he said.

The pope concluded by encouraging members of the Rota in their work and reminding them of the importance of prayer.

He said: “May prayer always accompany you. ‘I’m busy, I have to do many things…’ The first thing you need to do is pray. Pray for the Lord to be close to you. And also to know the heart of the Lord: we know it in prayer. And the judges pray, and must pray, twice or three times as much. Please don’t forget to pray for me too, of course.”

‘There was no real interest in their suffering’: Cardinal Marx apologizes to victims after Munich abuse report

Cardinal Reinhard Marx speaks at a press conference in Munich, Germany, Jan. 27, 2022. / Screenshot from erzbistum-muenchen.de.

Munich, Germany, Jan 27, 2022 / 04:09 am (CNA).

Cardinal Reinhard Marx offered a personal apology to abuse survivors on Thursday, in the wake of a report criticizing the handling of cases in his archdiocese of Munich and Freising.

Speaking at a live-streamed press conference in Munich, southern Germany, on Jan. 27, the 68-year-old cardinal said that the treatment of victims was “inexcusable,” reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

“I am attributed responsibility in this report and I am prepared to take responsibility. Last year I wrote to Pope Francis, and I have also stated elsewhere before, that for me the greatest guilt is to have overlooked those affected. That is inexcusable,” he said.

“There was no real interest in their fate, in their suffering. In my opinion, this is also due to systemic reasons, and at the same time I bear moral responsibility for this as acting archbishop.”

He went on: “Therefore, first of all, I apologize once again personally and also on behalf of the archdiocese to you as those affected for what you have suffered in the sphere of the Church.”

“I also apologize to the faithful in this archdiocese who doubt the Church, who can no longer trust those responsible and whose faith has been damaged.”

The more than 1,000-page report, issued on Jan. 20, accused Marx, one of Germany’s most influential churchmen, of mishandling two abuse cases.

Marx is a member of the pope’s Council of Cardinals and the coordinator of the Vatican Council for the Economy. Until 2020, he served as the chairman of the German bishops’ conference.

Marx wrote to Pope Francis in May 2021, offering to resign amid the fallout from the clerical abuse crisis in Germany. The pope declined his resignation in June of that year.

The cardinal told reporters that he intended to remain in office for now, but did not rule out seeking to resign for a second time.

“For me personally, I say once again clearly: As archbishop, I bear responsibility for the actions of the archdiocese according to my moral conviction and in my understanding of my office. I do not cling to my office,” he commented.

“The offer of resignation last year was meant very seriously. Pope Francis decided otherwise and asked me to continue my ministry responsibly. I am ready to continue my ministry if it is helpful for the further steps that need to be taken for a more reliable reappraisal, an even stronger attention to those affected and for a reform of the Church.”

“If I get the impression that I am more of an obstacle than a help, I will seek dialogue with the relevant advisory bodies and allow myself to be critically questioned. In a synodal church, I will no longer make this decision on my own.”

Westpfahl Spilker Wastl, the law firm that produced the study, presented the report’s conclusions at a press conference in Munich.

Marx was not present at the event and Marion Westpfahl, a founding partner of the firm, lamented the cardinal’s absence as she presented the report.

In a brief statement hours after the report’s publication, Marx said that he was “shocked and ashamed” at its findings.

The authors of the “Report on the Sexual Abuse of Minors and Vulnerable Adults by Clerics, as well as [other] Employees, in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising from 1945 to 2019” also accused Pope emeritus Benedict XVI of mishandling four cases during his tenure as Munich archbishop from 1977 to 1982.

The 94-year-old retired pope, who strongly denies cover-up allegations, sent 82 pages of observations to investigators compiling the report.

Addressing the report’s criticisms of his own actions, Marx said he felt it was inappropriate to offer defensive arguments, but promised to examine the cases carefully with experts.

“Not to defend myself,” he said, “but to learn from them and to implement changes. I also see administrative and communicative failures here. But in one case I blame myself for not really actively approaching those affected.”

In April 2021, Marx asked German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier not to bestow the Federal Cross of Merit on him after an outcry among advocates for abuse survivors over the award.

He had been scheduled to receive the Bundesverdienstkreuz, Germany’s only federal decoration, at the Bellevue Palace in Berlin.

Marx, the archbishop of Munich and Freising since 2007, said that he did not want to draw negative attention to other award recipients.

Peter Bringmann-Henselder, a member of the affected persons’ advisory board of Cologne archdiocese, had urged the president to withhold the honor, citing Marx’s handling of cases when he was bishop of Trier in 2001–2007.

The official web portal of the Catholic Church in Germany reported in June 2021 that Marx’s actions in Trier would be “comprehensively investigated” by an independent commission on behalf of the diocese that has been led by Bishop Stephan Ackermann since 2009.

Speaking at Thursday’s press conference, Marx highlighted the German Church’s “Synodal Way,” a multi-year process bringing together bishops and lay people to discuss power, sexual morality, the priesthood, and the role of women in the Church.

He said that “it is now important to push ahead with the reform steps as discussed in the Synodal Way and as they will also be put on the agenda in the synodal process in the worldwide Church. I want to remain committed to this. For without a truly profound renewal, reappraisal will ultimately not succeed.”

Report: Pope Francis plans 2-day visit to Malta in April

Pope Francis during his general audience in Paul VI Hall on Jan. 26, 2022. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Valletta, Malta, Jan 27, 2022 / 02:20 am (CNA).

Pope Francis intends to make a two-day visit to Malta in April, according to a local newspaper.

The Times of Malta reported on Jan. 25 that the Vatican had informed the government and Church leaders that the pope would visit the country on April 2-3.

The Vatican has not confirmed the report.

The pope initially planned to visit the archipelago in the central Mediterranean Sea on May 31, 2020, the Solemnity of Pentecost. But the Vatican announced in March 2020 that the trip had been “postponed until further notice.”

The Times of Malta said that Malta’s President George Vella and Prime Minister Robert Abela had accepted the dates of the April visit.

Malta, located south of the Italian island of Sicily, is named in the Acts of the Apostles as the site where St. Paul was shipwrecked on route to Rome in 60 A.D.

In a pastoral letter anticipating the pope’s scheduled 2020 visit, Malta’s bishops said that the theme of the trip would be “They showed us unusual kindness” (Acts 28:2).

They said that the pope would meet with the people of the island of Malta and residents of Gozo, the second-largest island in the archipelago, as well as migrants.

“In his short but meaningful visit to Malta, Pope Francis will celebrate and pray with the Maltese and Gozitan people,” the bishops wrote.

“He will show us how, purified by the Spirit of God who cleanses us from our sins, we can live in true reconciliation together and treat each other with dignity and ‘unusual kindness.’”

An overwhelming majority of Malta’s roughly half a million population are baptized Catholics. Catholicism is the state religion under the Constitution of Malta.

The country’s leading Catholic figure is Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the archbishop of Malta since 2015 and the adjunct secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 2018.

John Paul II became the first pope to visit Malta in 1990. He visited again in 2001.

The most recent papal visit, by Benedict XVI, took place on April 17-18, 2010.

Chicago priests serving in Springfield will celebrate Novus Ordo on First Sundays

Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, under whose canonical authority the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius are. / Daniel IbanezCNA

Springfield, Ill., Jan 26, 2022 / 17:32 pm (CNA).

The Diocese of Springfield in Illinois has instituted regulations on members of the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius serving there that are similar to those of the Archdiocese of Chicago, where the canons are incardinated.

The canons regular are under the canonical authority of the Archbishop of Chicago, Cardinal Blase Cupich.

“All Masses celebrated by the Canons Regular in the Diocese of Springfield will be celebrated on the first Sunday of the month according to the Novus Ordo,” said a Jan. 25 policy of the Springfield diocese.

Additionally, the policy regarding the canons’ parish in Springfield stated that a “plan of catechesis” will be issued in order to “assist and accompany those attached to the former rite and to fully appreciate the restoration of the liturgy and the teachings of the Council.” 

Priests who currently celebrate the traditional Mass in Springfield but who are incardinated in the Archdiocese of Chicago “will be asked to affirm in their written petition to celebrate the sacraments in the earlier liturgical form that the restored liturgy of the Council is the unique expression of the lex orandi of the Roman Rite.” 

The diocese also declared that Sacred Heart Church in Springfield will be designated a “non-parochial church for the eucharistic celebrations according to the Missal of 1962,” as is required by Traditionis custodes. 

In 2014, the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius was entrusted with the pastoral care of Sacred Heart Church in Springfield. The Archdiocese of Chicago, the Society of St. John Cantius, and the Diocese of Springfield made a joint agreement that the canons regular would be able to minister in the Diocese of Springfield. 

The canons regular, which was founded in 1998, follows a form of vowed religious life that celebrates both the Tridentine and the post-Second Vatican Council forms of the Mass. 

Springfield’s release aligns the canons in the diocese with the policies implemented by their archbishop. That policy, which was announced in December, also went into effect on Jan. 25. 

Under the updated policies, the canons who wish to use the “old rite” must submit their requests to Cardinal Cupich in writing and agree to abide by the new norms under Pope Francis’ motu proprio.

The usus antiquior is also said in the Springfield diocese at St. Isidore’s in Mt. Zion, and at St. Rose of Lima in Quincy, a parish entrusted to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.

In a July 19, 2021 decree implementing Traditionis custodes, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois had permitted the usus antiquior to be celebrated at both St. Rose of Lima and Sacred Heart “on any or all days of the year.” He also said that “Priests who already celebrate Mass according to the Missale Romanum of 1962 in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois are authorized to continue to enjoy this faculty upon request”.

Was it legal? Pro-abortion light projection on Catholic basilica part of debated trend

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. / Shutterstock

Denver Newsroom, Jan 26, 2022 / 17:06 pm (CNA).

A pro-abortion rights group drew wide condemnation from Catholics, including Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, for projecting pro-choice slogans on the facade of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception during a Mass and Holy Hour on the eve of the March for Life last Thursday. 

Whether the display broke the law, however, is another question.

The basilica, located next to the Catholic University of America, lists a private property policy on its website.

“The basilica exists to provide a respectful, distraction-free place of prayer, pilgrimage and worship,” the policy says. It bars trespassing and “distribution of any non-basilica approved materials on its private property regardless of the cause or issue represented.”

“No activity, event or use shall take place upon the basilica’s property, other than those sponsored by the Basilica, unless the individual or group involved has received prior written approval for such activity, event or use,” the policy continues.

Failure to comply with the policy will result in notification to local law enforcement and the filing of “all appropriate criminal charges,” the basilica says.

At the same time, targeted light displays on property might not constitute illegal trespassing under current law, the Thomason Reuters Foundation reported in June 2019. Protesters have been using this tactic for more than a decade. Union members have projected their messages on businesses during labor disputes, and a critic of President Donald Trump projected a message on the Trump Hotel in D.C. 

One group opposed to abortion has projected graphic images of an unborn abortion victim on the buildings of abortion provider Planned Parenthood. 

CNA contacted the basilica for comment but did not receive a response by deadline.

Catholics for Choice, the group behind the Jan. 20 display, has repeatedly been rejected by the U.S. bishops as a non-Catholic group. Cardinal Gregory said the projection demonstrated that the protesters “really are external to the Church,” and cited a biblical verse, John 13:30, that referenced the betrayal of Judas.

The group is largely funded by wealthy non-Catholics who favor legal abortion. Recent major donors include the Susan Thompson Buffet Foundation, funded by the financier Warren Buffett and family; and the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation, funded by the family of a co-founder of the Hewlett Packard company.

John Czarnetzky, dean of the Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Florida, was at the National Shrine during the Mass while the display was taking place outside. When he saw the news of the light display, he found it “immature,” he told CNA Jan. 25. 

While he was not an expert on whether the display could have violated local law, he said it’s possible the organizers of the light display projections calculated their actions to avoid breaking the law.

If the light projection had disrupted services inside the basilica, there could be a stronger case that a law was violated, Czarnetzky said. If the basilica had known of the effort ahead of time, it could have asked for a restraining order.

In New York City last Saturday, protesters of a Catholic pro-life vigil were much more militant.

Attendees at the Archdiocese of New York’s Prayer Vigil for Life at St. Patrick’s Cathedral were greeted by about 100 rowdy protestors. The protesters included members of the activist group New York City for Abortion Rights. Some of the protestors chanted insults and screamed vulgarities at them.

They made obscene gestures as a range of people from young children to elderly men and women who entered or exited the midtown Manhattan church. 

Toward the end of the protest, a light projection system displayed pro-abortion slogans including "God loves abortion," and "Abortion forever" on the exterior of the cathedral as demonstrators cheered. 

While light displays and obscene, aggressive protesters can be provocative, Czarnetzky advised Catholics to respond by following Christ’s advice to “turn the other cheek.” 

Any physical altercation between a person angered by protests could result in legal action against the person angered, he warned. 

The light projection protests at Catholic churches leave no damage, but they come amid a wave of vandalism in American cities. Some vandals have faced criminal charges for damaging churches with painted messages that object to Catholic opposition to abortion.