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Cardinal O'Malley: Pope Francis will publish Vatican McCarrick report 'soon'

Baltimore, Md., Nov 11, 2019 / 03:41 pm (CNA).- The results of the Vatican’s investigation of Theodore McCarrick should be published by early 2020, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston told U.S. bishops on Monday.

“The intention is to publish the Holy See’s response soon, if not before Christmas, soon in the new year,” Cardinal O’Malley said on Monday afternoon

O’Malley presented a brief update on the status of the Vatican’s McCarrick investigation during the annual fall meeting of the U.S. bishops in Baltimore, Maryland, held from Nov. 11-13.

Earlier on Monday morning, Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing, Michigan, had requested that an update on the Vatican’s McCarrick investigation to be added to the agenda of the bishops’ meeting. Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, seconded the motion and the bishops approved it by a voice vote.

The Vatican announced that it would conduct a review of files on McCarrick in October 2018.

In March 2019, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, said the Vatican was still engaged in its investigation into McCarrick and that the Holy See would issue a declaration once it was finished.

On Monday, O’Malley provided the update on the Vatican’s investigation shortly after he and other bishops from New England arrived back in the U.S. from a visit with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

“We were not afraid to bring up the question of the report on Theodore McCarrick, and we insisted on the importance of publishing a response to the many serious questions of this case,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley sad the New England delegation made it clear to Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin that bishops, priests, religious and the lay faithful in the U.S. were all anxiously awaiting the results of the investigation, of how McCarrick “could become an archbishop and cardinal, who knew what and when.”

“The long wait has resulted in great frustration on the part of bishops and our people, and indeed a harsh and even cynical interpretation of the seeming silence,” O’Malley added Monday.

Cardinal Parolin “assured” the U.S. delegation of the Vatican’s original intent to publish its response to the investigation before the U.S. bishops’ November meeting in Baltimore, but the scope of the investigation and quantity of the information discovered in the process necessitated a later publishing date.

“There is a desire, a commitment, to be thorough and transparent so as to answer peoples’ questions and not simply to create more questions,” O’Malley said of the Vatican.

The cardinal said he shown a “hefty document” by the Vatican, which is being translated into Italian for a presentation to Pope Francis, with an intended publication by early 2020.

Reports of McCarrick’s history of sexual abuse were initially made public in June of 2018, when the Archdiocese of New York had announced that a sexual abuse allegation against then-retired Cardinal McCarrick was “credible and substantiated.”

Subsequent reports of sexual abuse or harassment of children and seminarians by McCarrick surfaced, and Pope Francis accepted his resignation from the College of Cardinals and assigned him to a life of prayer and penance, in July of 2018.

In August 2018, former apostolic nuncio to the U.S. Carlo Maria Vigano claimed that Pope Francis knew about existing sanctions on McCarrick but chose to repeal them.

At their November 2018 meeting, just months after settlements of the Archdioceses of New York and Newark of abuse cases involving McCarrick were made public, the bishops were set to vote on a number of measures to deal with the clergy sex abuse crisis including a call for the Vatican to release all documents about McCarrick in accord with canon and civil law.

However, after the Vatican requested shortly before the meeting that the bishops not take action on the abuse crisis until an international summit of bishops in Rome in early 2019, the bishops did not end up voting on the McCarrick measure because of fears they could be viewed at odds with Rome.

Pope Francis laicized McCarrick in February 2019, shortly before convening a summit of bishops from around the world on clergy sexual abuse. The Vatican’s accelerated investigation into McCarrick’s case was reportedly an “administrative penal process,” not a full juridical process but one used when the evidence in the case is overwhelming.

In June, the U.S. bishops’ National Advisory Council unanimously requested the bishops to urge the Holy See to “make public the results of diocesan and archdiocesan investigations of Theodore McCarrick.”

Cardinal O'Malley: Pope Francis will publish Vatican McCarrick report 'soon'

Baltimore, Md., Nov 11, 2019 / 03:41 pm (CNA).- The results of the Vatican’s investigation of Theodore McCarrick should be published by early 2020, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston told U.S. bishops on Monday.

“The intention is to publish the Holy See’s response soon, if not before Christmas, soon in the new year,” Cardinal O’Malley said on Monday afternoon

O’Malley presented a brief update on the status of the Vatican’s McCarrick investigation during the annual fall meeting of the U.S. bishops in Baltimore, Maryland, held from Nov. 11-13.

Earlier on Monday morning, Bishop Earl Boyea of Lansing, Michigan, had requested that an update on the Vatican’s McCarrick investigation to be added to the agenda of the bishops’ meeting. Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, seconded the motion and the bishops approved it by a voice vote.

The Vatican announced that it would conduct a review of files on McCarrick in October 2018.

In March 2019, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, said the Vatican was still engaged in its investigation into McCarrick and that the Holy See would issue a declaration once it was finished.

On Monday, O’Malley provided the update on the Vatican’s investigation shortly after he and other bishops from New England arrived back in the U.S. from a visit with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

“We were not afraid to bring up the question of the report on Theodore McCarrick, and we insisted on the importance of publishing a response to the many serious questions of this case,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley sad the New England delegation made it clear to Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin that bishops, priests, religious and the lay faithful in the U.S. were all anxiously awaiting the results of the investigation, of how McCarrick “could become an archbishop and cardinal, who knew what and when.”

“The long wait has resulted in great frustration on the part of bishops and our people, and indeed a harsh and even cynical interpretation of the seeming silence,” O’Malley added Monday.

Cardinal Parolin “assured” the U.S. delegation of the Vatican’s original intent to publish its response to the investigation before the U.S. bishops’ November meeting in Baltimore, but the scope of the investigation and quantity of the information discovered in the process necessitated a later publishing date.

“There is a desire, a commitment, to be thorough and transparent so as to answer peoples’ questions and not simply to create more questions,” O’Malley said of the Vatican.

The cardinal said he shown a “hefty document” by the Vatican, which is being translated into Italian for a presentation to Pope Francis, with an intended publication by early 2020.

Reports of McCarrick’s history of sexual abuse were initially made public in June of 2018, when the Archdiocese of New York had announced that a sexual abuse allegation against then-retired Cardinal McCarrick was “credible and substantiated.”

Subsequent reports of sexual abuse or harassment of children and seminarians by McCarrick surfaced, and Pope Francis accepted his resignation from the College of Cardinals and assigned him to a life of prayer and penance, in July of 2018.

In August 2018, former apostolic nuncio to the U.S. Carlo Maria Vigano claimed that Pope Francis knew about existing sanctions on McCarrick but chose to repeal them.

At their November 2018 meeting, just months after settlements of the Archdioceses of New York and Newark of abuse cases involving McCarrick were made public, the bishops were set to vote on a number of measures to deal with the clergy sex abuse crisis including a call for the Vatican to release all documents about McCarrick in accord with canon and civil law.

However, after the Vatican requested shortly before the meeting that the bishops not take action on the abuse crisis until an international summit of bishops in Rome in early 2019, the bishops did not end up voting on the McCarrick measure because of fears they could be viewed at odds with Rome.

Pope Francis laicized McCarrick in February 2019, shortly before convening a summit of bishops from around the world on clergy sexual abuse. The Vatican’s accelerated investigation into McCarrick’s case was reportedly an “administrative penal process,” not a full juridical process but one used when the evidence in the case is overwhelming.

In June, the U.S. bishops’ National Advisory Council unanimously requested the bishops to urge the Holy See to “make public the results of diocesan and archdiocesan investigations of Theodore McCarrick.”

Archbishop Naumann: Know the pregnancy resources available in your community

Baltimore, Md., Nov 11, 2019 / 03:28 pm (CNA).- Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas announced Monday at the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ fall meeting an initiative meant to help parishes assist pregnant women in need at the local level.

Everyone needs to know what pregnancy resources there are available in the community, Naumann said Nov. 11, adding that he hopes Catholics can move from “partisan divide into pastoral unity” on the topic of abortion and the Church’s response.

Naumann, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, announced that from March 25, 2020 to March 25, 2021 the bishops will support an initiative called “Walking With Moms in Need: A Year of Service.”

The program, Naumann said, will include resources for parish use, tools for creating an inventory of resources available to help women in the community, prayers for building a culture of life, reflections on encyclicals related to life, homily help, pulpit announcements, communications and outreach suggestions, and more.

He said all the resources related to the initiative will be online in English and Spanish, along with a timeline for putting them out.

Naumann noted that March 25, 2020 is the 25th anniversary of the encyclical Evangelium vitae, in which St. John Paul II expanded on the term “culture of life,” which he first used in the encyclical Centesimus annus four years earlier.

In Evangelium vitae, Naumann noted, St. John Paul II asked the faithful to assess the efforts in assisting pregnant mothers in need, especially at the local level.

“Pregnant and parenting moms in need are in our parishes and neighborhoods,” Naumann said, noting that there are 17,000 parishes in the United States and each parish is best equipped to help women at the local level.

“We have done little to help women in difficult situations,” when abortion seems like a quick solution to their problems, Naumann lamented.

Our parishes need to be, in the words of Pope Francis, “islands of mercy in the midst of a sea of indifference.”

Bishops reject funding hike for USCCB, for now

Baltimore, Md., Nov 11, 2019 / 02:15 pm (CNA).- A proposed increase in diocesan payments to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has failed to attract sufficient support among the bishops on Monday, the first day of their annual general assembly in Baltimore.

Diocesan and eparchial bishops voted 111 to 55 on a measure that would have approve a requested three percent increase to the annual diocesan assessment that will be sent to the USCCB in 2021. The measure failed to receive the necessary two-thirds majority to pass, though its defeat is not yet definitive. 

The bishops, gathered for their four-day meeting Nov. 11-14, were told by conference treasurer Archbishop Dennis Schnurr that a number of economic factors in, and out of the Church had impacted the finances of the USCCB. Concerns over the cost of clergy sex abuse settlements in U.S. Catholic dioceses was particularly highlighted.

Although the proposed rate increase did not pass, the vote was declared inconclusive because 28 eligible bishops were not present on Monday. The conference hall was told that once their votes are counted, the final outcome will then be announced. The bishops from New York state are currently in Rome for their scheduled ad limina visit with Pope Francis but are reportedly following the proceedings in Baltimore and able to vote remotely.

“It caused me no surprise,” Schnurr of Cincinnati told CNA of the inconclusive vote. As a longtime staffer and member of the budget and finance committee, he said that “this is nothing new under the sun.”

The diocesan assessment goes to fund administrative, pastoral, and public policy programs at the USCCB, and a regular increase is necessary to maintain the reserves of the conference, Schnurr said.

The archbishop acknowledged the financial challenges of some dioceses facing a resurgence in clergy sex abuse claims from new openings in state statutes of limitations.

“There are a lot of dioceses in this country that are looking at bankruptcy,” Schnurr said.

The bishops voted on the first day their fall general assembly in Baltimore on Monday. In attendance were active and retired bishops from around the U.S. including Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop emeritus of Washington, D.C., whose resignation was accepted by Pope Francis late in 2018 after persistent questions were raised over the extent of Wuerl’s knowledge of his predecessor, Theodore McCarrick’s, history of sexual abuse of minors and adults.

The bishops will also consider a slate of other action items, including election of a new president and vice president of the conference, approval of a letter and short video presentation of the bishops’ document on voting, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” and presentations on gun violence and evangelization.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, the outgoing president of the conference, delivered his final presidential address to brother bishops on Monday morning, emphasizing the need to overcome deepening divisions and polarization in society, to promote a renewed evangelization, and to practice solidarity with migrants and immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Archbishop Schnurr addressed the bishops on the proposed 2020 budget for the conference as well as a proposed three percent increase in the annual diocesan assessment to the USCCB.

The three percent increase was last approved by the bishops in November of 2017, for the 2019 diocesan assessment. However, in November of 2018, no increase was approved for the 2020 assessment, largely due to the costs dioceses were facing from a surge of new clergy sex abuse lawsuits.

Schnurr noted other problems facing the national conference’s budget including stricter federal immigration and refugee policies that have reduced the number of cases handled by Catholic organizations, and the trade war between the U.S. and China which could affect the overall U.S. economy and thus the amount of donations coming in to the conference.

The archbishop said that it is not “sustainable” to withhold increases to the annual assessment to meet the conference’s estimated $25 million budget.

“We’re just kicking the can down the road,” he said. “The expenses are there.”

However, while the proposal fell 18 votes short of passage, Schnurr said, he expected the votes of absent bishops to push it over the finish line.

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia stated his opposition to the assessment increase, saying that his archdiocese’s assessment amounts to $257,000 per year which, when paired with a matching donation to the Holy See, totals more than half a million dollars annually.

“I don’t have this kind of money to keep increasing it [the assessment],” Chaput said. “We have huge expenses because of the sexual abuse issue and related circumstances.”

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia had to pay more than $32 million in settlements to abuse victims, WHYY reported, after a window for new abuse claims closed on Sept. 30 in the wake of a Pennsylvania grand jury report on abuse that was released in August of 2018.

Chaput said that the USCCB also has more savings and investments in reserve than the archdiocese does.

“I don’t think that some of the work of the USCCB is essential to the mission of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia,” he said.

Cardinal Blase Cupich noted that a three percent increase for 2021 would arrive three years since the last increase to the assessment had been made. The requested increases would not even keep up with the rate of inflation, he said.

On Monday morning, the bishops also voted on “revised strategic priorities” for the conference’s Strategic Plan for the years 2021 through 2024. The priorities included evangelization to “form a joyful band of missionary disciples of Jesus Christ,” promoting “life and dignity of the human person,” working to “protect and heal God’s children,” and promoting vocations to marriage, priesthood and the religious life.

The priorities are all coequal, “much like bishops in the episcopal conference,” Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, who gave the presentation on the priorities, said.

The bishops voted 214 to 4 to pass the revised strategic priorities, with two abstentions.

Decision imminent on fate of Cardinal Pell High Court appeal

Melbourne, Australia, Nov 11, 2019 / 01:12 pm (CNA).- Australia’s High Court will announce on Wednesday whether it will hear Cardinal George Pell’s appeal of his conviction on sexual abuse charges.

Two judges on the country’s highest court will announce whether the full court’s seven judges will hear their appeal, the Associated Press reports.

The court rejects about 90% of appeals.

In August, sources close to the cardinal told CNA that they thought Pell’s case would likely be accepted given the controversy triggered by the split decision of the Court of Appeals of Victoria, which rejected the cardinal’s appeal.

The cardinal, now 78, was convicted Dec. 11, 2018, on five charges that he sexually abused two 13-year-old choir boys after Sunday Mass while he was Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996 and 1997.

He was sentenced to six years in prison, of which he must serve at least three years and eight months before being eligible to apply for parole.

The controversial case has drawn significant public attention, with Pell’s defenders arguing he could not have committed sexual abuse in the sacristy after Mass, which was always crowded with people, without anyone noticing.

Pell’s lawyers have argued that two state appeals court judges made two errors when they dismissed his appeal in August.

Pell was incorrectly required to prove that it was impossible he committed the offenses, rather than putting the burden of proof on prosecutors, the cardinal’s attorneys argued. They also said that the judges were wrong to find the jury’s verdicts reasonable. The attorneys have argued there was reasonable doubt about whether Pell had the opportunity to commit the crimes.

The prosecutors of Pell’s case have rejected these claims and said the courts made no errors, the Associated Press reports.

Pell’s previous appeal was presented on three grounds, two of which were procedural, and dismissed by all three appeal judges. The judges were divided on Pell’s primary ground of appeal, that the decision of the jury was “unreasonable” given the demonstration of clear “reasonable doubt” that he committed the crimes with which he was charged.

Last year CNA reported that his initial trial, bound by a gag order, ended in a mistrial. This fact was confirmed by one of the judges in the Aug. 21 proceeding.

The prosecution rested on the testimony of one of the alleged victims— the one reported to have suffered two instances of abuse by Pell. The other victim died in 2014 and was unable to testify, but in 2001 had denied to his mother that any abuse occurred while he was a member of the choir.

Before the Court of Appeals of Victoria, Chief Justice Anne Ferguson and Court President Chris Maxwell formed the majority in favor of rejecting Pell’s appeal that the jury verdict was unreasonable on the evidence presented.

In an extensive dissent from the majority finding, Justice Mark Weinberg noted that the entirety of the evidence against Pell consisted of the testimony of a single accuser, whereas more than 20 witnesses were produced to testify against his narrative.

“Even the ‘reasonable possibility’ that what the witnesses who testified to these matters may have been true must inevitably have led to an acquittal,” Weinberg wrote, concluding that Pell had, in effect, been improperly asked to establish the “impossibility” of his guilt and not merely reasonable doubt.

Pell has maintained his innocence, with his defense making central the argument that the alleged crimes would have been, under the circumstances, “simply impossible.”

Pell was convicted of exposing himself and forcing two choir boys to commit sex acts while fully vested in his Sunday Mass garb, almost immediately after Mass in the priests’ sacristy at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1996. Pell was at that time Archbishop of Melbourne. He was also convicted of fondling one of the boys in a corridor in 1997.

Pell’s defenders have contended that the sacristy abuse allegations are not possible given the high traffic after Mass and the obstructing nature of the Mass vestments.

The cardinal is detained at the Melbourne Assessment Prison. As a convicted child sex offender, Pell has been held in solitary confinement for extra protection from other inmates. He is not permitted to celebrate Mass in prison. He has recently obtained a prison job weeding a courtyard.

Responding to the Court of Appeal decision in August, Matteo Bruni, Holy See press office director, said that “the Holy See acknowledges the court’s decision to dismiss Cardinal Pell’s appeal,” while reiterating its “respect for the Australian judicial system.”

“As the proceedings continue to develop, the Holy See recalls that the Cardinal has always maintained his innocence throughout the judicial process and that it is his right to appeal to the High Court.”
 

French bishops vote to compensate abuse victims with Church fundsĀ 

Lourdes, France, Nov 11, 2019 / 12:09 pm (CNA).- The bishops of France on Saturday approved plans to offer financial compensation to victims of sexual abuse by clergy.

According to the Associated Press, any person recognized by their bishop as a victim will be eligible to receive money, and the Church in France will appeal for donations to cover the costs.

The French bishops also voted to allocate 5 million euros, or $5.5 million, to an independent commission examining Church sex abuse in France and to support prevention efforts, the AP reported.

The bishops made the decision at their biannual assembly in Lourdes. They plan to consider additional details of the plan, including compensation amounts for victims, at their next meeting in April 2020.

The AP reports that an independent commission examining sexual abuse in France announced at the assembly that 2,800 people have responded since June to a call for testimonies.

France last year extended the statute of limitations on sexual crimes against minors from 20 years to 30.

The continued revelations of sexual abuse and subsequent cover-up by some Church officials in France come alongside similar revelations in countries such as the United States, Ireland, Australia, Chile, Poland, Argentina and Germany.

Most prominently in France, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, was found guilty in March of failing to report to authorities the alleged sexual abuse of a priest in his diocese and was given a six-month suspended prison sentence.

He was charged with failing to report facts of abuse to judicial authorities between July 2014 and June 2015, in a case involving Fr. Bernard Preynat, who has been accused of abusing dozens of minors in the 1980s and early '90s.

In 2017, the cardinal told Le Monde that he did not conceal allegations against Preynat, but that his response to the allegations had been “inadequate.” He said he opened an investigation against Preynat after becoming aware of the allegations against him.

French tribunal president Brigitte Vernay declared Barbarin guilty March 7 “of non-denunciation of ill-treatment” of a minor, according to AFP. Five other archdiocesan officials on trial with Barbarin were acquitted the same day.

The cardinal had announced that he would resign his diocesan position, but the Vatican announced later in March that Pope Francis has not accepted the cardinal's resignation, though Barbarin has stepped back from the day-to-day leadership of the diocese.

Barbarin appealed his six-month suspended sentence and a court in Lyon is expected to render a verdict Nov. 28.

Cardinal DiNardo notes search for justice in last USCCB presidential address

Baltimore, Md., Nov 11, 2019 / 11:35 am (CNA).- Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, outgoing president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, highlighted Monday his experience leading the conference and detailing his personal growth over the last three years as his presidential term comes to an end.

“My service as president has been a continual reminder that, indeed, ‘the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it,’” DiNardo said at the US bishops' autumn general assembly in Baltimore Nov. 11. While “our present culture can seem overtaken by various ideological or political divisions,” bishops and other followers of Christ need to be different, he affirmed.

“Follow a simple truth: ‘God is always courteous,’” said DiNardo. “Let us be courteous.”

DiNardo remarked that while his tenure was during the “difficult times within our own Church,” that the bishops must continue to seek justice and to work for “relationships that are ordered in the right way--that is, towards the salvation of souls, including our own.”

DiNardo presided over the USCCB after it came to light that former cardinal Theodore McCarrick sexually abused minors and seminarians on many occasions, as well as during the release of a grand jury investigation in Pennsylvania. Other states have since begun grand jury investigations.

Properly ordered relationships, said the cardinal, exclude any trace of clericalism. An ordained man cannot act “as if he is a lord and master” over others, he said.

“The privilege of a cleric is to be a humble servant to all,” he said. “Justice demands that those who are shepherds should lead from in front, as courage requires, and from behind, as humility requires, going to those who are lost.”

The cardinal said that his experience meeting with victims of sexual abuse as president of the conference was one that “forever changed” his life.

“When too many within the Church sought to keep them in the darkness, they refused to be relegated to the shadows,” said DiNardo. “Their witness brought help to countless fellow survivors. It fueled the resolve of my brother bishops to respond with pastoral support and prevention programs.”

Sexual abuse victims empowered the bishops “with the knowledge needed to respond,” said DiNardo.

“We must never stop striving for justice and working unceasingly to prevent any future abuse from happening,” he said. “The measures we approved last June are a beginning of this renewed striving, but they are only a beginning – more needs to and will be done.”

“Traveling on your behalf these past three years, it was a privilege to learn from so many people along the way,” said DiNardo.

He spoke about his time visiting the border detention centers, and witnessing the faith of the children who were detained and separated from their parents, as well as his experience with other bishops visiting refugees and volunteers at respite centers.

“I met dozens of children who called upon their Catholic faith and the firm knowledge that Christ and His Church would be present with them. Along with my brother bishops, we went because Jesus was already there. We followed our shepherd,” said DiNardo. He extended an invitation to all present to “share our journey of solidarity with migrants and refugees.”

DiNardo said that workers at respite centers, who provided medical care and other needs for people at the border, were “doing God’s work,” as were people who worked at pregnancy centers. He praised the work of pregnancy centers, as well as public policy advocates seeking to change the country’s healthcare system.

“The continued fight to defend unborn children is one of the most significant things we do,” said DiNardo. “And it will remain so as long as the most innocent lives are left unprotected.”

The cardinal's successor as USCCB president will be elected Nov. 12. The bishops are almost certain to choose Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, who is currently vice president of the conference.

US nuncio: Francis' 'pastoral thrust' must reach Americans

Baltimore, Md., Nov 11, 2019 / 10:03 am (CNA).- The apostolic nuncio to the United States told the nation’s bishops that their commitment to evangelization is the measure of their communion with Pope Francis.

Archbishop Christoph Pierre addressed the bishops during the opening session of the USCCB general assembly in Baltimore Monday morning.

Pierre told the bishops Nov. 11 that he would propose “some topics for reflection” which he hoped would inform the conference sessions. The central theme of his reflections was the commitment of the bishops to a state of constant missionary engagement.

“As often as we speak of the ‘new evangelization,’ serious reflection is necessary on the outcomes of our efforts,” Pierre said.

“Do you feel that we and our collaborators have been far-sighted and proactive in efforts at evangelization, anticipating cultural, philosophical, and political trends,” Pierre asked, “or do we find ourselves in the position of having been reactive?”

“Do pastoral priorities we have chosen truly touch the reality of the life of our people?”

The nuncio said that the extent to which the bishops themselves received and were able to transmit Pope Francis’ missionary and pastoral priorities, especially in the apostolic exhortation Evangelii gaudium, was the barometer of their own communion with the pope.

Pierre said that adopting the missionary impulse of the pope’s own writings “and being in a permanent state of mission might represent tangible signs of communion with the Holy Father, for it would show the reception and implementation of his teaching.”

“The pope has emphasized certain themes: mercy, closeness to the people, discernment, accompaniment, a spirit of hospitality towards migrants, and dialogue with those of other cultures and religions,” Pierre said, while asking bishops to consider if these themes were reflected in their clergy and people.

“It is an interesting question to ask,” Pierre said, “because while there has been a strong emphasis on mercy by the Holy Father, at times – paradoxically – people are becoming more and more judgemental and less willing to forgive, as witnessed by the polarization gripping this nation.”

“The pastoral thrust of this pontificate must reach the American people,” the nuncio insisted, “especially as families continue to demand of dioceses and parishes the accompaniment envisioned by Amoris laetitia.”

Amoris laetitia, Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on love in the family, called for better pastoral provision and accompaniment for families and couples in irregular marriages. Whether the document can be interpreted as authorizing a change in Church teaching, or permitting the admittance of the divorced-and-civilly-remarried to Holy Communion, has been the subject of debate in dioceses and countries across the world.

The nuncio did point to some positive signs of life in American dioceses, specifically singling out the defense of human life and religious liberty and the generosity of Catholics in welcoming migrants to the country.

“The generosity and willingness of Catholic to sacrifice is witnessed in the charitable works during times of national disasters or through Catholic Relief Services,” he said, and signs of hope were present in the Church “even as many of us worry about the lasting impact of the sexual abuse crisis.”

The archbishop acknowledged that the Church in the U.S. faces “many challenges,” highlighting the demographic changes and the need to engage better with young people.

Pierre also highlighted a series of priorities and concerns about the welfare of the priesthood, acknowledging a shortage of clergy had led to strained circumstances in many dioceses. He urged to make “communion with the presbyterate” a key priority.

“Establishing communion within the presbyterate is becoming increasingly challenging, and not just because of differences in age, theology, or liturgical practices.” He noted the increasing numbers of priests from other countries serving in American dioceses.

“Although we are grateful for the sacramental and pastoral care provided by these priests, we must investigate how this has affected or is affecting the presbyterate within our respective dioceses.”

In answer to the shortage of clergy, Pierre said that there is “an urgent need the bishops to foster a “culture of vocation.”

“Building a culture of vocations also means providing adequate support for and accompaniment of families, where vocations are born and nurtured even at a young age.”

Pierre concluded by saying he hoped that the American bishops would find his “reflections” useful for the coming year.

“Knowing the richness of your spiritual and cultural heritage, as well as the depth of your faith and devotion and that of your people, I am confident that the Church in the United States will discover the right path for its spiritual renewal.”

Pope Francis: Inclusive capitalism leaves no one behind

Vatican City, Nov 11, 2019 / 07:01 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Monday called for the renewal and purification of existing economic models to be fair, trustworthy, and capable of extending opportunities to all, not only a few.

“An inclusive capitalism that leaves no one behind, that discards none of our brothers or sisters, is a noble aspiration,” Pope Francis said Nov. 11 in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

“A glance at recent history, in particular the financial crisis of 2008, shows us that a healthy economic system cannot be based on short-term profit at the expense of long-term productive, sustainable and socially responsible development and investment,” he said.

The pope met with members of the Council for Inclusive Capitalism, whose vision he said involves “overcoming an economy of exclusion and reducing the gap separating the majority of people from the prosperity enjoyed by the few.”

“You have set before yourselves the goal of extending the opportunities and benefits of our economic system to all people,” he said. “An economic system that is fair, trustworthy and capable of addressing the most profound challenges facing humanity and our planet is urgently needed.”

Pope Francis said that those who engage in business and economic life have “a noble vocation” to serve the common good by creating jobs, increasing prosperity, and working to make the goods of this world more accessible to all.

“When we recognize the moral dimension of economic life, which is one of the many aspects of Catholic social doctrine that must be integrally respected, we are able to act with fraternal charity, desiring, seeking and protecting the good of others and their integral development,” he explained.

The pope warned that “an economic system detached from ethical concerns” leads to a “throw away” culture of consumption and waste.

Pope Francis recalled his meeting in 2016 with participants in the Fortune-Time Global Forum in which he called for “more inclusive and equitable economic models that would permit each person to share in the resources of this world and have opportunities to realize his or her potential.” The pope said that the Council for Inclusive Capitalism was born out of that forum.

“Rising levels of poverty on a global scale bear witness to the prevalence of inequality rather than a harmonious integration of persons and nations … I encourage you to persevere along the path of generous solidarity and to work for the return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favors human beings,” the pope said.

“As my predecessor St. Paul VI reminded us, authentic development cannot be restricted to economic growth alone, but must foster the growth of each person and of the whole person,” he said. “This means more than balancing budgets, improving infrastructures or offering a wider variety of consumer goods."

“What is needed is a fundamental renewal of hearts and minds so that the human person may always be placed at the centre of social, cultural and economic life,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis: Inclusive capitalism leaves no one behind

Vatican City, Nov 11, 2019 / 07:01 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Monday called for the renewal and purification of existing economic models to be fair, trustworthy, and capable of extending opportunities to all, not only a few.

“An inclusive capitalism that leaves no one behind, that discards none of our brothers or sisters, is a noble aspiration,” Pope Francis said Nov. 11 in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

“A glance at recent history, in particular the financial crisis of 2008, shows us that a healthy economic system cannot be based on short-term profit at the expense of long-term productive, sustainable and socially responsible development and investment,” he said.

The pope met with members of the Council for Inclusive Capitalism, whose vision he said involves “overcoming an economy of exclusion and reducing the gap separating the majority of people from the prosperity enjoyed by the few.”

“You have set before yourselves the goal of extending the opportunities and benefits of our economic system to all people,” he said. “An economic system that is fair, trustworthy and capable of addressing the most profound challenges facing humanity and our planet is urgently needed.”

Pope Francis said that those who engage in business and economic life have “a noble vocation” to serve the common good by creating jobs, increasing prosperity, and working to make the goods of this world more accessible to all.

“When we recognize the moral dimension of economic life, which is one of the many aspects of Catholic social doctrine that must be integrally respected, we are able to act with fraternal charity, desiring, seeking and protecting the good of others and their integral development,” he explained.

The pope warned that “an economic system detached from ethical concerns” leads to a “throw away” culture of consumption and waste.

Pope Francis recalled his meeting in 2016 with participants in the Fortune-Time Global Forum in which he called for “more inclusive and equitable economic models that would permit each person to share in the resources of this world and have opportunities to realize his or her potential.” The pope said that the Council for Inclusive Capitalism was born out of that forum.

“Rising levels of poverty on a global scale bear witness to the prevalence of inequality rather than a harmonious integration of persons and nations … I encourage you to persevere along the path of generous solidarity and to work for the return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favors human beings,” the pope said.

“As my predecessor St. Paul VI reminded us, authentic development cannot be restricted to economic growth alone, but must foster the growth of each person and of the whole person,” he said. “This means more than balancing budgets, improving infrastructures or offering a wider variety of consumer goods."

“What is needed is a fundamental renewal of hearts and minds so that the human person may always be placed at the centre of social, cultural and economic life,” Pope Francis said.