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Posts tagged ‘Federico Lombardi’

Vatican Stresses That Pope Has Not Abolished Sin.


The Vatican felt compelled on Tuesday to deny that Pope Francis had “abolished sin“, after a well-known Italian intellectual wrote that he had effectively done so through his words and gestures.

The singular exchange began on Sunday when Eugenio Scalfari, an atheist who writes opinion pieces for the left-leaning La Repubblica newspaper, published an article titled “Francis’ Revolution: He has abolished sin”.

Scalfari, who held a long private conversation with the pope earlier this year and wrote about it several times, concluded in the complex, treatise-like article that Francis believed sin effectively no longer existed because God’s mercy and forgiveness were “eternal”.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told Vatican Radio that “this affirmation that the pope has abolished sin” was wrong.

“Those who really follow the pope daily know how many times he has spoken about sin and our (human) condition as sinners,” Lombardi said.

It was not the first brush between the Vatican and Scalfari, who founded La Repubblica newspaper in 1976.

Last month the Vatican removed from its website the text of Scalfari’s transcript of his conversation with the pope, saying parts of it were not reliable.

Scalfari said he had not used a tape recorder or taken notes when he met the pope but reconstructed the long session from memory afterwards and made additions to help the flow of the article.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Pope Names Private Secretary to Oversee Scandal-Ridden Vatican Bank.


ROME — Pope Francis named his personal secretary to supervise the activities of the Vatican bank on Thursday, in a sign the pontiff wants to keep a tight grip on the drive to clean up its operations and image.

Alfred Xuereb, a 55-year-old Maltese prelate, will be responsible for overseeing two commissions created by the Pope to supervise the bank itself and the economic structure and finances of the Holy See, the Vatican said in a statement.

Since taking office in March, Francis has moved to tackle years of financial scandals involving the Vatican bank, formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion, which is under investigation on suspicion of money laundering.

Xuereb will keep the Pope informed about the work of the commissions and any action that needs to be taken, it said.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told reporters that Xuereb had been working in this role unofficially for some time, but would now be able to do so more effectively.

The Vatican has signed an agreement with Italy over exchanging financial and banking information and the IOR has opened a website, www.ior.va, and begun publishing annual reports in a transparency drive.

Francis raised the prospect that the institute could even have to be closed down unless it could reform itself.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

Pope Meets Putin, No Discussion of Church Tensions.


Image: Pope Meets Putin, No Discussion of Church Tensions

Pope Francis and Russian President Vladimir Putin met on Monday and discussed the Middle East and problems faced by Christians across the world, but did not touch on the strained relationship between the Vatican and the Orthodox Church.

The 35-minute meeting at the Vatican was the first between Pope Francis and Putin, who met the pontiff’s two immediate predecessors, Benedict and John Paul II.

“It was quite a cordial and constructive meeting,” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told reporters after the encounter. Putin had arrived around 45 minutes late because of transport problems.

Relations between the Catholic Church and Russia have long been uneasy because of accusations that the Vatican has tried to poach believers from the Orthodox Church, a charge it denies.

Putin brought a greeting to the pope from Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, but did not talk about inter-church matters, Lombardi said. There was also no discussion of a possible visit to Russia by Francis.

Putin has embraced the Russian Orthodox Church as a moral authority, harnessed its influence as a source of political support and championed socially conservative values since starting a new, six-year term in May 2012.

The two leaders discussed the civil war in Syria and the pope stressed the need to end violence and bring assistance to the civilian population.

The Russian President, accompanied by ministers and business leaders, is due to meet Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta and members of the government in the north-eastern port city of Trieste on Tuesday.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Popes John Paul II, John XXIII Canonized April 27.


Popes John Paul II and John XXIII will be declared saints on April 27, 2014.

Pope Francis announced the date Monday during a meeting with cardinals inside the Apostolic PalaceA Newsmax exclusive revealed the correct date in early September.

Doctor Reveals Healing Powers of Prayer 

The date was set in April in part to help Catholics on pilgrimage, Newsmax Vatican correspondent Edward Pentin revealed.

Pope Francis “realized that in winter, it would be difficult for pilgrims from Poland and countries of Central and Northern Europe to attend, and so it was better to postpone until the spring,” Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi told Newsmax.

Francis had announced in July he would canonize two of the 20th century’s most influential popes together, approving a miracle attributed to John Paul’s intercession and bending Vatican rules by deciding that John XXIII didn’t need one.

Analysts have said the decision to canonize them together was aimed at unifying the church since each has his own admirers and critics. Francis is clearly a fan of both: On the anniversary of John Paul’s death this year, Francis prayed at the tombs of both men — an indication that he sees a great personal and spiritual continuity in them.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

‘Hello, This Is Pope Francis’.


Pope Francis
Pope Francis

Of all the novelties that Pope Francis has brought to the Vatican, few have endeared him to the public—and unsettled his aides—as much as his penchant for picking up the phone and calling someone out of the blue.

The pontiff with the pastor’s touch has phoned his cobbler in Argentina to inquire about a shoe repair, called to cancel his newspaper subscription and phoned a woman who was raped by a local police officer to counsel her.

Just this week, Francis phoned a pregnant Italian woman whose fiance had pushed her to have anabortion.

Anna Romano instead dumped the guy, wrote to the pope about her problems, and on Tuesday (Sept. 3) received a surprise call from the Holy Father, who offered encouragement and even said he wouldbaptize the baby if she couldn’t find a willing priest.

“Hello, Anna,” the voice on the other end of the line said, “this is Pope Francis.”

“I was petrified,” the 35-year-old told Il Messaggero, a Rome daily. “I recognized his voice and I knew right away that it really was the pope.”

On the other hand, two days in a row this week the Vatican also had to deny reports of papal phone calls that were either hoaxes or rumors.

On Thursday, the Argentinian daily Clarín–usually well-informed on all things relating to Francis, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires–wrote that the pontiff had spoken by phone with Syrian President Bashar Assad as part of the Vatican’s diplomatic effort to avoid a U.S. military strike against the country.

But, according to the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, the news was was “absolutely unfounded.”

Then on Friday, Lombardi had to refute a newspaper report that Francis had called a young gay man in France who had confessed his troubles as a gay Catholic in a letter to the pope.

“I can deny with certainty that the pope has called a young man in France,” Lombardi said.

Speaking to Religion News Service, Lombardi said that as a matter of course he would not comment–nor confirm or deny the authenticity–about every person claiming to have heard the words “Hello, this is Pope Francis” when they answered the phone.

He said that instead he would intervene only when the alleged Francis calls touched on matters of “international relevance,” as in the case of Assad, or seemed to go against Catholic doctrine, as in the case of the French youth who asserted the pope had told him: “Your homosexuality doesn’t matter.”

“There is always the risk that people pretend to be the pope over the phone,” Lombardi told the French daily Le Figaro when asked about the story.

But that danger doesn’t seem to have dissuaded Francis—whose dialing habits have earned him the nickname “the cold-call pope”—from continuing to use his cell phone to reach beyond the walls of a Vatican that he feels can isolate him from his global flock.

This summer Francis called an Italian man who has struggled to forgive God after the murder of his brother, and the pope also phoned an Italian engineering student who wrote to him about his fears of not finding work even with his degree. The two “laughed and joked” for eight minutes, the teen said, and Francis told the young man to use the informal “tu” with him.

In late August, the pontiff called an Argentine woman who had been raped.

This week’s episode with Romano was typical: When she found out in June that she was pregnant, her fiance urged her to have an abortion. Then she learned that he was in fact married and already had a family of his own.

In July, Romano wrote in desperation to Francis, knowing that he sometimes responds personally to the thousands of people who write to him. On the envelope she put: “Holy Father Pope Francis, Vatican City, Rome.” No ZIP code, nothing else. It was enough, apparently.

When her phone rang Tuesday, it was a local number that Romano did not recognize, but she answered anyway.

Recovering from the shock of hearing the pope’s voice, Romano again told him how she felt “betrayed, humiliated.”  The pope, she said, spoke to her as informally as “a dear, old friend” would, and in their conversation Francis “reassured me, telling me that the baby was a gift from God, a sign of Providence. He told me I would not be left alone.”

When Romano told the pope that she wanted to have the child baptized but was afraid she could not because she is divorced and on her own, the pope told her he was sure that she could find a willing pastor.

“But if not,” Francis reportedly added, “you know there’s always me.”

Though she doesn’t know whether she will have a girl or a boy, Romano told the newspaper she thinks it’s a boy, and it’s clear what she will name him: “Francis.”

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

ALESSANDRO SPECIALE AND DAVID GIBSON/RNS

Pope Francis: ‘We Have Forgotten the Language of Simplicity’.


Pope Francis issued blunt, soul-searching criticism Saturday of the Brazilian church’s failure to stem the “exodus” of Catholics to evangelical congregations, challenging the region’s bishops to be closer to the people to understand their problems and persuade them that Catholicism isn’t “barren, fruitless soil.”

In the longest and most important speech of his four-month pontificate, Francis drove home a message he has emphasized throughout his first international trip to World Youth Day: the need for Catholics, lay and religious, to shake up the status quo, get out of their stuffy sacristies and reach the faithful on the margins of society or risk losing them to rival churches.

Francis took a direct swipe at the “intellectual” message of the church that so characterized the pontificate of his predecessor, Benedict XVI. He said ordinary Catholics simply don’t understand such lofty ideas and need to hear the simpler message of love, forgiveness and mercy that is at the core of the Catholic faith.

“At times we lose people because they don’t understand what we are saying, because we have forgotten the language of simplicity and import an intellectualism foreign to our people,” he said. “Without the grammar of simplicity, the church loses the very conditions which make it possible to fish for God in the deep waters of his mystery.”

In a speech outlining the kind of church he wants, Francis asked bishops to reflect on why hundreds of thousands of Catholics have left for Protestant and Pentecostal congregations that have grown exponentially in recent decades, particularly in Brazil’s slums or favelas, where their charismatic message and nuts-and-bolts advice have been welcomed by the poor.

According to census data, the number of Catholics in Brazil dipped from 125 million in 2000 to 123 million in 2010, with the church’s share of the total population dropping from 74 percent to 65 percent. During the same time period, the number of evangelical Protestants and Pentecostals skyrocketed from 26 million to 42 million, increasing from 15 percent to 22 percent of the population in 2010.

Francis offered a breathtakingly blunt list of explanations for the “exodus.”

“Perhaps the church appeared too weak, perhaps too distant from their needs, perhaps too poor to respond to their concerns, perhaps too cold, perhaps too caught up with itself, perhaps a prisoner of its own rigid formulas,” he said. “Perhaps the world seems to have made the church a relic of the past, unfit for new questions. Perhaps the church could speak to people in their infancy but not to those come of age.”

At the same time, he dismissed as empty the allure of rival congregations promising “lofty, more powerful and faster” solutions.

Francis asked if the church today can still “warm the hearts” of its faithful, with priests who take time to listen to their problems and remain close to them. He said he wants a church that acts like a “mother” who not only gives birth to her children but cares for them and holds their hand.

“We need a church capable of rediscovering the maternal womb of mercy,” he said. “Without mercy, we have little chance nowadays of becoming part of a world of ‘wounded’ persons in need of understanding, forgiveness and love.”

“We need a church able to dialogue with those disciples who … are wandering aimlessly, alone, with their own disappointment, disillusioned by a Christianity now considered barren, fruitless soil, incapable of generating meaning.”

The Vatican said Francis read the five-page speech in its entirety to the 300 or so bishops gathered for lunch in the auditorium of the Rio archbishop’s residence, and noted that the talk was both the longest and most important to date of Francis’ pontificate. He will issue a similarly lengthy and important speech on Sunday to the bishops of Latin America before heading back to Rome after the conclusion of World Youth day, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman.

Despite Francis’ critical assessment of the state of the church in Brazil, the pope’s reception in Rio has shown that he at least can still draw a crowd. Copacabana beach’s 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) of white sand was nearly half full by Saturday afternoon with young people gathering for the Catholic youth festival’s final vigil Saturday night before Sunday’s morning Mass. During a ceremony Friday night, Brazilian media estimated that 1.5 million people were on hand, filling up only a fraction of the beach.

The Argentine pope began his day with a Mass in Rio’s beehive-like modern cathedral where he exhorted 1,000 bishops from around the world to go out and find the faithful, a more diplomatic expression of the direct, off-the-cuff instructions he delivered to young Argentine pilgrims on Thursday. In those remarks, he urged the youngsters to make a “mess” in their dioceses and shake things up, even at the expense of confrontation with their bishops and priests.

“We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities when so many people are waiting for the Gospel!” Francis said in his homily Saturday. “It’s not enough simply to open the door in welcome, but we must go out through that door to seek and meet the people.”

Francis himself is imposing a shake-up in the Vatican’s staid and dysfunctional bureaucracy, setting in motion a reform plan and investigations into misdeeds at the scandal-plagued Vatican bank and other administrative offices.

Francis’ target audience is the poor and the marginalized — the people that history’s first pope from Latin America has highlighted on this first trip of his pontificate. He has visited one of Rio’s most violent slum areas, met with juvenile offenders and drug addicts and welcomed in a place of honor 35 trash recyclers from his native Argentina.

“Let us courageously look to pastoral needs, beginning with the outskirts, with those who are farthest away, with those who do not usually go to church,” he said Saturday. “They too are invited to the table of the Lord.”

He carried that message to a meeting with Brazil’s political, economic and intellectual elite, urging them to look out for the poorest and use their leadership positions to work for the common good. He also called for greater dialogue between generations, religions and peoples during the speech at Rio’s grand municipal theater, where he was welcomed with a standing ovation and shouts of “Francisco” and “Viva o Papa!” (Long live the pope).

On a few occasions, he looked up at the gilded theater boxes almost in awe from the stage and seemed positively charmed when a few dozen young students of the theater’s ballet school, all with their hair in buns, sat down around him. At the end of the event, the little ballerinas swarmed around Francis, and he gave each one a kiss on the forehead.

Also receiving papal embraces were a handful of Brazilian Indians, dressed in their traditional, bare-bellied garb who lined up to kiss his ring. One man gave Francis a feathered headdress, which he gamely wore for a few moments.

Several of the Indians were from Amazon tribes, where indigenous peoples have been locked in battles over land that has been designated as an Indian reserve but that farmers and ranchers illegally invade for timber and to graze cattle.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: NEWSmax.com

Bikinis Make Way for Rosaries on Brazil Beach as Youths Await Pope.


RIO DE JANEIRO — Tens of thousands of young Catholics from around the world flocked to Rio’s famed Copacabana beach on Tuesday to kick off a youth festival that will feature several appearances by Pope Francis.

Bikinis and beach volleyball gave way to rosaries and prayers for world peace as youths settled on the Brazilian shoreline for a night of religious events related to World Youth Day, a biennial gathering of young Catholics.

The 76-year-old Pope, the first pontiff from Latin America, took a rest day on Tuesday after a tumultuous welcome during his arrival on Monday that prompted security concerns when police failed to contain frenzied crowds that mobbed his car.

As Brazilian officials worked to avoid a repeat of such incidents for the remainder of his weeklong visit, Catholic youth, waving their national flags and singing religious songs, gathered along the beach for an evening Mass.

Musicians and dancers entertained the youths, who braved a chilly drizzle. The beach, lined with a series of large monitors, was the site of an evening Mass by local priests and Vatican officials. Later in the week it will serve as an altar for two big appearances by Francis.

A metro malfunction in the evening left some stations out of service for two hours, leaving some people stranded on their way to the inaugural Mass.

Francis, meanwhile, rested at a Church residence and recovered from jet lag ahead of a rigorous five days during which he will preside at about a dozen events before returning to Rome on Sunday night.

The security scare on Monday occurred when his driver took a wrong turn in central Rio. The street had no barriers, which allowed a crowd of well-wishers to swarm the car and reach through the open window to touch the pontiff. Bodyguards moved in to push back the crowd. At one point, the crowd was so heavy that the car was forced to a halt.

On Wednesday, the Pope flies to Aparecida, about 260 kilometers (162 miles) away, to visit the shrine of the Madonna of Aparecida, whom Catholics venerate as the patroness of Brazil.

In the afternoon, he returns to Rio to visit a hospital run by the Franciscan religious order and address young people taking part in a drug rehabilitation program.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said that on Wednesday afternoon the Pope would take a closed car all the way from Rio airport to the hospital instead of using an open car for the final part of that trip as originally planned.

He denied that the change was due to security concerns. He said it was because the Pope would be running late as he would take a plane, and not a helicopter as originally planned, to and from Aparecida because of bad weather.

No other changes in the program were foreseen, the spokesman said.

Benedict XVI, now “Pope Emeritus,” was scheduled to make the trip to Brazil for the youth festival before he resigned on Feb. 28, becoming the first Pope to step down in 600 years.

The visit to the Aparecida shrine, the hospital and a slum once controlled by drug lords on Thursday were added to the program at Francis’ request after he was elected on March 13.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: NEWSmax.com

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