Vatican Paper Lauds Spotlight as Brave, Not Anti-Catholic
The film Spotlight, which won the Oscar for best picture on February 28, is a courageous movie that is not anti-Catholic, the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano said in two articles commenting on the Oscars.
Italian historian and journalist Lucetta Scaraffia (photo), in an op-ed titled “It is not an anti-Catholic film,” writes that Spotlight “is not anti-Catholic, as has been written, because it manages to voice the shock and profound pain of the faithful confronting the discovery of these horrendous realities.”
The movie “does not delve into the long and tenacious battle that Joseph Ratzinger, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and as Pope, undertook against pedophilia in the Church,” says Scaraffia, but “one film cannot tell all, and the difficulties that Ratzinger met with do not but confirm the film’s theme, which is that too often ecclesiastical institutions have not known how to react with the necessary determination in the face of these crimes.”
According to Scaraffia, “the fact that a call arose from the Oscar ceremony — that Pope Francis fight this scourge —should be seen as a positive sign: there is still trust in the institution, there is trust in a Pope who is continuing the cleansing begun by his predecessor, then still a cardinal. There is still trust in a faith that has at its heart the defense of victims, the protection of the innocent.”
Pope Francis Prayed at Vatican Employee’s Coffin Before Meeting New President of Argentina
Before meeting with the president of Argentina Sunday, Pope Francis stopped by the funeral of Miriam Woldu, a Vatican employee who died last week along with her unborn child, to pray and leave a bouquet of white roses.
Pope Francis prayed in front of Woldu’s coffin for 20 minutes before laying the bouquet and taking his leave. Woldu was a receptionist at the Vatican’s St. Martha guesthouse, where the Pope resides. She was found dead in her own apartment in Rome on February 19.
According to Italian news agency AGI, an autopsy showed that Wuolou, 34, who had suffered from severe diabetes, died due to a malfunction with her internal insulin pump, which controlled the level of glucose in her blood.
After praying in front of her coffin, Pope Francis headed back to the Vatican, where he met with Argentina’s new president Mauricio Macri (photo).
According to a February 20 communiqué from the Vatican, the cordial discussion focused on the good relations between the two countries, as well as common points of interest such as promoting an integral development, respect for human rights, the fight against poverty and drug trafficking, justice, peace and social reconciliation.
The positive contribution of the Argentine bishops’ conference and Catholic institutions in Argentina was also discussed, particularly in the areas of the promotion of human dignity and the formation of future generations, especially given the current economic climate.
Pope Francis Lauds Fidelity of Ukrainian Greek Catholics
Pope Francis met on March 5 with leaders of the Permanent Synod of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC), praising their people’s “tireless witnesses of hope” in Christ amid decades of hardships.
“In some circumstances, our human condition is made even more fragile due to difficult historical situations, which mark the life of the People of God, of the community that Jesus Christ our Lord purchased with his blood,” Pope Francis said in his message to Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kyiv-Halych, head of the UGCC. The audience coincided with the anniversary of the 1946 “pseudo-Synod” of Lviv, a meeting orchestrated by Joseph Stalin’s regime as part of the forcible absorption of the UGCC into the Russian Orthodox Church.
Pope Francis also renewed solidarity with the pastors and faithful for all they do in “this difficult time marked by the hardships of war, to alleviate the suffering of the population and to seek the ways of peace for the beloved Ukrainian land.”
He offered an apostolic blessing as a sign of his “constant affection and prayers” to Archbishop Shevchuk and to the bishops, priests, consecrated, and laity of the UGCC. The Permanent Synod of the UGCC issued a statement after the meeting with Pope Francis, reiterating their unity with the Bishop of Rome.
“We came to reaffirm our communion with the Holy Father and to ask for his help for the suffering people of Ukraine during the Jubilee Year of Mercy,” said Archbishop Shevchuk in the statement. He added: “And the Holy Father heard us.”
Priest Admits to Relaying Confidential Documents in “Vatileaks 2” Trial
During a Vatican City trial on March 14 in a case in which five individuals are accused of leaking and disseminating confidential Vatican financial documents, a former Vatican official said he relayed documents, but only under duress.
“Yes, I passed the documents,” Msgr. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, a former secretary of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs, told Vatican prosecutors during the hearing. “I was convinced I was in a situation without exit.”
Vallejo claimed he felt trapped by “the powerful world behind” Francesca Chaouqui — another of the defendants in the trial. Chaouqui, a public relations expert, was a member of a committee formed by Pope Francis in 2013 to help reform Vatican finances. The committee, COSEA, has since been dissolved.
Benedict XVI’s Recent, Rare, and Lengthy Interview
In a recently-published interview on issues of justification and faith, Benedict XVI has addressed issues of mercy and our need for forgiveness, salvation through the cross, the necessity of baptism, and the importance of sharing in Christ’s redeeming love.
The discussion with Fr. Jacques Servais, SJ (photo) took place before an October 2015 conference in Rome studying the doctrine of justification by faith.
The interview is published elsewhere in this issue of the magazine (on pp. 32-35).
President of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Calls for Action
The president of the Unites States Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, issued an urgent call on March 14 for Catholics to support a petition to stop genocide in the Middle East and convince the U.S. Department of State to include Christians in any formal declaration of genocide.
The call to action was issued days before the U.S. Department of State is expected to make a decision on the issue, and as a congressional resolution gains support in Congress.
“For months, the Catholic Church has been a voice for Christians and other religious minorities facing the evil of deadly persecution,” Archbishop Kurtz said.
“Please, make sure your name is added to the witness,” he said. “The very future of the ancient Christian presence in the Middle East is at stake.”
The petition is available at: www.stopthechristiangenocide.org.
Pope: Murdered Missionaries of Charity are “Martyrs of Indifference”
Pope Francis in March lamented the world’s indifference to the March 4 killing of four Missionaries of Charity, calling them the “martyrs” and asking that Blessed Mother Teresa intercede in bringing peace.
“I express my closeness to the Missionaries of Charity for the great loss that affected them two days ago with the killing of four religious in Aden, Yemen, where they assisted the elderly,” the Pope said on March 6.
Francis lamented that the sisters are not only the victims of their killers, but “also of the indifference of this globalization of indifference, which doesn’t care.”
He prayed for the sisters and the other 12 people killed in the attack, as well as their families, asking that Mother Teresa would accompany her “martyr daughters of charity” into paradise and intercede in obtaining peace “and the sacred respect of human life.”
Pope Mourns “Tragic Loss of Life” After Attack in Turkey
Pope Francis sent his condolences to the president of Turkey where terrorist attacks on March 13 in Ankara and March 19 in Istanbul left dozens dead.
“Deeply saddened to learn of the injury and tragic loss of life caused by the bombing in Ankara, His Holiness Pope Francis assures the Turkish people of his spiritual closeness and solidarity,” reads the telegram, addressed to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
“He prays for the eternal rest of those who have died and for all who mourn their loss, as well as for the recovery of those affected by this heinous act of violence.”
Pope Announces Palestinian as Winner of International Teaching Prize
A Palestinian school teacher on Sunday became the recipient of a US $1 million international award for her work with children — and it was Pope Francis who announced the winner.
“A population that is not well-educated because of wars, or by other reasons that exist in order not to get any education, is a population that decays,” the Pope said in a prerecorded video message announcing Hanan Al Hroub as the winner of the Global Teacher Prize, awarded by the Varkey Foundation.