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Pope says no to women priests, yes to women in Curial leadership

Vatican City, Jun 20, 2018 / 03:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In an interview with Reuters, Pope Francis said more space has to be created for women to take on leading roles in the Roman Curia, but that priestly ordination is not an option.

Responding to a question about women's ordination to the priesthood, the pope said “there is the temptation to 'functionalize' the reflection on women in the Church, what they should do, what they should become.”

“We cannot functionalize women,” he said, explaining that while the Church is referred to as a woman, the Sacrament of Holy Orders is out of the question “because dogmatically it doesn't work.”

“John Paul II was clear and closed the door, and I will not go back on this. It was something serious, not something capricious,” he said, adding, “it cannot be done.”

However, Francis stressed that while the priesthood is out, women do need to be given more opportunities for leadership in the Roman Curia – a view he said has at times been met with resistance.

“I had to fight to put a woman as the vice-director of the press office,” he said, referring to his decision in 2016 to name Spanish journalist Paloma Garica Ovejero as the Vatican's deputy spokesperson.

He said he at one point offered a woman the job of heading the Vatican's Secretariat for Communications, but she turned it down because “she already had other commitments.”

Women in the Curia “are few, we need to put more,” he said, adding that it can be either a religious sister or a laywoman, “it doesn't matter,” but there is a need to move forward with an eye for quality and competency in the job.

“I don't have any problem naming a woman as the head of a dicastery, if the dicastery doesn't have jurisdiction,” he said, referring to the fact that some Vatican departments have specific functions in Church governance that require a bishop to do the job. Lay men are also ineligible to oversee offices that require the jurisdictional authority of a priest or bishop.

For example, the Vatican's Congregation for Clergy has jurisdiction, so it has to be led by a bishop, but for others, such as the Vatican's Secretariat for the Economy, “I would not have a problem naming a competent woman,” Francis said.

Women must continue to be promoted, but without falling into “a feminist attitude,” the pope said, adding that “in the end it would be machismo with a skirt. We don't want to fall into this.”

Pope Francis spoke during an interview with American journalist Phil Pullella of Reuters, which took place Sunday at the pope’s Vatican residence, and was published June 20.

In the interview, the pope touched on a variety of topics, including a possible deal with China on the appointment of bishops, clerical abuse and the ongoing scandal in Chile, the reform of the Roman Curia, and criticism he's faced.

On the topic of women, Francis said that in his experience, things are usually done better when there is a mixed group working on a task, rather than just men.

“Women have an ability to understand things, it’s another vision,” he said, noting that whenever he has visited prisons run by women, they “seemed to do better,” because women know how to be “mothers” and care for inmates and their needs in a unique way.

“Women know how to manage conflicts better. In these things, women are braver,” he said, adding, “I think it would be so also in the Curia if there were more women.”

Francis noted that some have said inviting more women into the mix might mean there is more gossip, however, he said he does not believe that would be the case, “because we men are also gossipers.”

Daily Readings for Thursday, June 21, 2018

Reading 1: Ecclesiasticus / Sirach 48:1-14, Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 97:1-7, Gospel: Matthew 6:7-15

St. Aloysius Gonzaga: Saint of the Day for Thursday, June 21, 2018

St. Aloysius was born in Castiglione, Italy. The first words St. Aloysius spoke were the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. He was destined for the ...

Daily Readings for Thursday, June 21, 2018

Reading 1: Ecclesiasticus / Sirach 48:1-14, Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 97:1-7, Gospel: Matthew 6:7-15

Prayer for a Happy Death: Prayer of the Day for Thursday, June 21, 2018

O God, great and omnipotent judge of the living and the dead, we are to appear before You after this short life to render an account of our works. ...

Daily Readings for Thursday, June 21, 2018

Reading 1: Ecclesiasticus / Sirach 48:1-14, Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 97:1-7, Gospel: Matthew 6:7-15

Abuse allegation against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick 'credible'

Vatican City, Jun 20, 2018 / 07:30 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Archdiocese of New York announced Wednesday that an investigation it conducted into an allegation of sexual abuse against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who oversaw multiple U.S. dioceses, has found the accusation to be “credible and substantiated.”

In the June 20 statement, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, said the alleged abuse happened nearly 50 years ago while McCarrick was a priest of the New York archdiocese. It is the only such accusation against McCarrick that the archdiocese is aware of, Dolan said.

Once the archdiocese received the allegation, they turned it over to local law enforcement, and it was “thoroughly investigated” by an independent forensics team, Dolan said, noting that McCarrick has maintained his innocence, but is cooperating in the investigation.

The Vatican has been informed of the accusation, and as a result, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, by order of Pope Francis, has prohibited McCarrick from public ministry. No official statement from the Vatican has been released.

McCarrick, 87, is a native of New York and served as the Bishop of Metuchen from 1982-1986, Archbishop of Newark from 1986-2000 and Archbishop of Washington from 2000-2006.

In his own statement on the alleged abuse, McCarrick said he was informed by Dolan about the allegation of abusing a teenager several months ago.

“While shocked by the report, and while maintaining my innocence,” he said, “I considered it essential that the charges be reported to the police, thoroughly investigated by an independent agency, and given to the Review Board of the Archdiocese of New York. I fully cooperated in the process.”

The cardinal said he was sad to hear that the allegations had been deemed “credible and substantiated” by law enforcement officials.

He said that he accepts the Holy See's decision to remove him from public ministry, and has pledged obedience to the decision.

“I realize this painful development will shock my many friends, family members, and people I have been honored to serve in my sixty-years as a priest,” he said, adding that while he has “absolutely no recollection of this reported abuse, and believe in my innocence, I am sorry for the pain the person who brought the charges has gone through, as well as for the scandal such charges cause our people.”

In his statement, Dolan said the Archdiocese of New York is “saddened and shocked” by the accusation, and asked for prayers for everyone involved.

Dolan also issued a renewed apology to all victims abused by priests, and thanked McCarrick's accuser for having the courage to come forward. He voiced hope that this case “can bring a sense of resolution and fairness.”

In a separate statement from the Archdiocese of Newark, Cardinal Joseph Tobin said news of the accusation against McCarrick was met with “a range of emotions,” and offered his apology to victims of abuse.

“I am thinking particularly of those who have experienced the trauma of sexual abuse by clergy – whose lives have been impacted tragically by abuse,” he said. “To those survivors, their families and loved ones, I offer my sincere apologies and my commitment of prayer and action to support you in your healing.”

Tobin said the Archdiocese of Newark has never received any report or accusation of sexual abuse of a minor against McCarrick.

He noted that many people in Newark likely know McCarrick well from his time leading the archdiocese, and that while the accusation might be hard to comprehend, “we must put first the serious nature of this matter with respect and support for the process aimed at hearing victims and finding truth.”

“The abuse crisis in our Church has been devastating. We cannot undo the actions of the past, but we must continue to act with vigilance today,” Tobin said, and renewed his commitment to seek forgiveness and healing, and to creating a safe environment for children in Newark.

Tobin pledged to continue reporting “immediately to civil authorities any accusation of sexual abuse of a minor by clergy and [I] will cooperate fully in the investigation and adjudication.”

He encouraged anyone abused by a priest to come forward “as brave survivors before you have done,” and urged priests, religious and faithful of the archdiocese to keep the situation in their prayers.

Bishop James F. Checchio, current Bishop of Metuchen, said McCarrick “is appealing this matter through the canonical process.”

After hearing about the “very disturbing” report from New York, Checchio said he had Metuchen's records re-examined, and no accusations of sexual abuse had ever been raised against McCarrick. However, in the past, allegations of “sexual behavior with adults” had been brought forward.

Both the Diocese of Metuchen and the Archdiocese of Newark, he said, decades ago received three allegations of “sexual misconduct with adults,” and two of these allegations have resulted in settlements.

Pope Francis criticizes Trump's 'zero-tolerance' migrant policy

Vatican City, Jun 20, 2018 / 06:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a new interview with Reuters, Pope Francis backed the U.S. bishops' opposition to the separation of migrant children from their parents at the Mexican border, calling the move “immoral” and “contrary to Catholic values.”

“I am on the side of the bishops’ conference,” the pope said, referring to statements made by U.S. bishops earlier this month.

Francis' comment was made in reference to the Trump administration's “zero tolerance” policy on immigration, which was rolled out in May and, among other things, enforces the separation of children from parents who have been detained by border officials.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, issued a statement during the bishops' biannual meeting in Fort Lauderdale last week. He criticized the policy, saying “separating babies from their mothers is not the answer and is immoral.”

He said later the bishops would consider the possibility of sending a delegation to the U.S.-Mexico border to see the detention centers for themselves and offer solidarity for incoming migrants and refugees.

“Let it be clear that in these things, I respect [the position of] the bishops conference,” Pope Francis said in the interview with Reuters.

When migrants arrive to a country, “you have to receive them, help them, look after them, accompany them and then see where to put them, but throughout all of Europe,” he said, noting that “some governments are working on it, and people have to be settled in the best possible way, but creating psychosis is not the cure.”

No full text of the interview was available, however, the pope also touched on a variety of other issues, including the possibility of a deal with China on the appointment of bishops, the sexual abuse scandal in Chile, the reform of the Roman Curia and the criticism he's faced.  

The conversation with Reuters marks the the pope's first on-the-record interview with a major American news outlet.

During the 2-hour conversation, which took place in his residence at the Vatican's Saint Marta guesthouse Sunday, Francis said the ongoing reform of the Vatican's structures is going well, “but we have more work.”

In the latest reform move, the pope's Council of Cardinals in their meeting earlier this month finished the first draft of a new apostolic constitution outlining the role and structure of the Roman Curia titled “Predicatae Evangelium.”

Francis voiced satisfaction at the status of the Vatican's financial reform, saying the Vatican bank, which in the past lacked proper oversight and has now flagged and closed several suspicious accounts and transactions, “works well.”

Referring to criticism he has received throughout his papacy, the pope said he prays for those who have said “nasty things” about him.

Referring to the “dubia” letter sent to him by four cardinals, including American Cardinal Leo Raymond Burke, asking him to clarify excerpts of Chapter 8 of his 2016 post-synodal apostolic exhortation on the family, “Amoris Laetitia,” the pope said he found out about the letter “from the newspaper.”

This, he said, is “a way of doing things that is, let’s say, not ecclesial, but we all make mistakes.” Using the analogy of a river, he said “we have to be respectful and tolerant, and if someone is in the river, let’s move forward.”

On the Chilean abuse scandal, Pope Francis, who has already accepted the resignation of three bishops, including that of Juan Barros Madrid from the Diocese of Osorno, said he may accept more resignations in the future.

He also voiced optimism about the Vatican's ongoing discussion with China on the appointment of bishops, saying the discussions are “at a good point.”

Though he has been criticized for engaging China's communist party for a deal which would give them a say on bishop appointments, Francis said “dialogue is a risk, but I prefer risk rather than the certain defeat that comes with not holding dialogue.”

“As for the timing, some people say it’s 'Chinese time.' I say it’s God’s time. Let’s move forward serenely.”

Pope Francis: We are God's children, not his slaves

Vatican City, Jun 20, 2018 / 04:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday Pope Francis said the 10 Commandments are not heartless rules imposed on mankind by an oppressive God, but are rather words given by a father to his children in order to protect them from harm.

“Man is in front of this crossroads: does God impose things on me, or take care of me? Are his commandments only a law, or do they contain a word? Is God a master or a father? Are we slaves, or children?” the pope said June 20.

This is a “battle” which takes place both inside and outside of the person, and “is continually present: a thousand times we must choose between a slave mentality and a mentality of children,” he said, adding that the Holy Spirit is a spirit “of sons, it is the Spirit of Jesus.”

“A spirit of slaves can only welcome the law in an oppressive way, and it can produce two opposite results: either a life of duties and obligations, or a violent reaction of rejection.”

The whole of Christianity, he said, is the passage “from the letter of the law to the Spirit who gives life. Jesus is the word of the Father, he is not the condemnation of the Father.”

Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims present in St. Peter's Square for his weekly general audience, during which he continued a new series of catechesis on the 10 Commandments.

In his address, the pope noted how at the beginning of Chapter 20 of the biblical book of Exodus, in reference to the commandments, verse one reads “God spoke these words to all.”

The phrase might seem simple, but “nothing in the bible is banal,” Francis said, noting that the passage uses the term “word,” rather than “command.”

In Jewish tradition, the commandments, also called the “Decalogue,” are referred to as “the ten words,” he said, explaining that while they are also laws, the term “decalogue” in itself is meant to connote the term “word.”

Asking what the difference between “word” and “commandment” is, Pope Francis said a command is a something which “does not require dialogue,” while word, on the other hand, “is the essential means of relationship through dialogue.”

“God the Father creates through his word, and the son is the Word made flesh. Love nourishes the word, as does education and collaboration,” he said, noting that two people who do not love each other will not be able to communicate. However, “when someone speaks to our heart, our solitude ends.”

Another difference, he said, is that to receive a command is to receive an order, rather than having a dialogue or a conversation.

Dialogue, the pope said, “is much more than the communication of truth,” but is realized in the pleasure “of speaking and of the concrete good, which is communicated between those who love each other through words.”

The devil, Francis said, wanted to trick Adam and Eve by convincing them that God had “forbidden” them to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge in order to keep “submissive.”

However, the challenge with God's first “command” to them, he said, is to determine whether this norm was meant to impose, or whether it was intended to protect “from self-destruction.”

“The most tragic among the various lies the serpent tells Eve is the suggestion of an envious and possessive deity,” Francis said, explaining that “the facts show the serpent lied.”

Pope Francis closed his audience saying it is obvious when people live as if they were children versus slaves, because people can recognize the logic. “The world does not need legalism, but care,” he said, “it needs Christians with the heart of children.”

Pope donates to volcano relief efforts in Guatemala

Vatican City, Jun 19, 2018 / 04:39 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Following the largest volcanic eruption in Guatemala in four decades, Pope Francis has sent $100,000 to assist in the emergency relief efforts being carried out in the central American nation.

The sum, which was characterized as an initial contribution, is intended as “an immediate expression of the feeling of spiritual closeness and paternal encouragement on the part of the Holy Father,” a June 19 press release stated.

The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development is responsible for the distribution of the funds, which will be given to the dioceses most affected by the volcanic eruption for assistance to people and the territory.

“The contribution, which accompanies prayer in support of the beloved Guatemalan population, is part of the aid that is being activated throughout the Catholic Church and which, in addition to various bishops’ conferences, involves numerous charitable organizations,” the release stated.

Guatemala’s disaster agency announced Sunday that search efforts would be permanently suspended in the towns of San Miguel Los Lotes and El Rodeo in the Escuintla municipality, because the zone is “uninhabitable and high risk.”

Search and rescue efforts followed the unexpected June 3 eruption of the “Volcan de Fuego,” or “Volcano of Fire,” one of Guatemala’s most active volcanoes. At least 110 people have died from fallen ash and dirt and 197 are still missing, according to a June 17 statement from disaster agency CONRED.

In a June 5 telegram to Guatemala’s apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Nicolas Henry Marie Denis Thevenin, Pope Francis said he was “deeply distressed in hearing the sad news of the violent eruption” which so far “has caused numerous victims and enormous material damage which has affected a significant number of the area’s inhabitants.”

The pope expressed his support for the families “who weep for the loss of their loved ones,” and for the wounded and those who are working in relief efforts, asking that God would grant them “the gifts of solidarity, spiritual serenity and Christian hope.”

Catholic Relief Services and Caritas Escuintla have been active in providing emergency assistance for the displaced, including hot food, water, and other necessities. Three area Catholic Churches have also opened their doors to shelter victims. More than 1 million people have been affected by the eruption.

The three church shelters are located in Escuintla, Guatemala, near ground-zero for the volcano, whose eruption spewed ash clouds nearly 33,000 feet into the air. The Escuintla district, along with Chimaltenango and Sacatepéquez, are among the areas most affected by the blast, according to CRS.