New Commission for Vatican Communications
During the last meeting of the Council of Cardinals to draw up a plan for the revision of the apostolic constitution Pastor bonus on the Roman Curia (April 13-15, 2015), a report on reform of Vatican communications was examined. Pope Francis decided to create a new commission to study the report, chaired by Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, director of the Vatican Television Center. Its members will be: Paolo Nusiner, director general of the daily of the Italian bishops, Avvenire, Nuova Editoriale Italiana, Milan; Msgr. Lucio Adrian Ruiz, head of the Vatican Internet Service, directorate of Telecommunications of the Governorate of Vatican City State; Fr. Antonio Spadaro, SJ, director of La Civiltà Cattolica; and Msgr. Paul Tighe, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
–Vatican Information Service
Pope Francis Meets Conference of European Rabbis
Jewish-Catholic relations were in the spotlight at the Vatican as Pope Francis met with a delegation from the 700-member Conference of European Rabbis on April 20. The conference is focused on the religious rights of European Jews.
Pope Francis recalled the legacy of Rome’s former Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff and his historic first encounter with Pope John Paul II in 1986. Pope Francis said Catholics gratefully remember him as a man of peace and dialogue. The Pope said it’s more important than ever today to emphasize the spiritual and religious dimension of life in Europe, with its increasing secularism and atheism.
Responding to the Pope, the president of the Conference of European Rabbis, Pinchas Goldschmidt, said Jews in Europe today feel trapped between the attacks of radicalized Muslim immigrants and the secular backlash of many European political leaders. He also warned of the conflict in Russia and urged Pope Francis to help build new bridges and bring the West back from the brink of war.
Pope Francis Remembers Cardinal Roberto Tucci, SJ
Pope Francis sent a telegram of condolence on learning of the passing of Cardinal Roberto Tucci, SJ, who died in Rome on April 14, five days shy of his 94th birthday. Addressed to Fr. Adolfo Nicolas, SJ, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, the telegram recalls with gratitude Tucci’s valuable service over several decades as chief editor of the Italian Jesuit journal of affairs, La Civiltà Cattolica, as a theological expert at the Second Vatican Council, as Director General of Vatican Radio, and as coordinator of papal trips outside Italy under Pope St. John Paul II.
Pope Francis Greets Cursillos in Christianity Movement
On April 30, Pope Francis greeted 7,000 members of the Cursillos in Christianity Movement who were in Rome for their European meeting and are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the group in Italy. Cursillos in Christianity is a Catholic movement founded by a group of laymen in 1944 in Majorca, Spain. The charism of the Cursillo focuses on giving Christian lay people the tools to become effective Christian leaders over a three-day weekend. They in turn are asked to take what they have learned back out into the world.
– Vatican Radio
Pope Meets Members of Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission
Pope Francis met with members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission April 30, telling them that the cause of unity is not an optional undertaking. Pope Francis noted that the current session is studying the relationship between the universal Church and the local Church — relevant to his own reform program — with particular reference to moral decision-making. These discussions, the Pope said, remind us that the differences which divide us must not be seen as inevitable.
Pope Names Two New Members for Doctrine of Faith
The Archbishop of Dijon, France, Roland Minnerath, and Anthony Colin Fisher, Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, are the latest members to be nominated by the Holy Father to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which promotes and safeguards the Catholic Church’s doctrine. The Congregation’s work is divided into four distinct sections: the doctrinal office, the disciplinary office, the matrimonial office and the office for priests.
Pope Francis Meets Queen Silvia of Sweden
Pope Francis met on April 27 with Queen Silvia of Sweden, who personally led her delegation to a one-day seminar on human trafficking and the exploitation of women which was being held at the Vatican. The Queen spoke with the Holy Father about various activities she has promoted in Sweden, especially in favor of children. Pope Francis took the opportunity to express his gratitude for the welcome Sweden has extended to refugees and displaced persons. Queen Silvia, the wife of King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden, was accompanied by her youngest daughter, Princess Madeleine of Sweden, the princess’ husband, Christopher O’Neill, and their young daughter, 14-month-old Princess Leonore.
Pope Francis Welcomes Head of Lutheran Church of Sweden
Twenty-six years after Pope John Paul II visited the Nordic nations in 1989, the leader of the Church of Sweden came to the Vatican on May 4 to highlight the common commitments and shared witness of Catholics and Lutherans preparing to mark the anniversary of the Reformation together. As Archbishop of Uppsala, Antje Jackelén is the first female head of the Church of Sweden and the first woman archbishop to be welcomed to the Vatican for an official papal audience.
Cardinal Pell Speaks on Challenges Facing Family
At a pro-family conference May 9, on the eve of Italy’s March for Life, speakers from around the world gathered in Rome to discuss strategies for promoting the Church’s teaching on life, marriage, and the family. The Conference was organized by a coalition of pro-life and pro-family groups called Voice of the Family, which was committed to supporting the bishops during last year’s Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family, and will do the same at the General Assembly of the Bishops which will take place in October 2015.
Keynote speaker Cardinal George Pell spoke of the challenges of fewer marriages in the Church, abortion and divorce. “We [must] explain the importance of faith. Often we can be very, very understated about the importance of faith, prayer, conversion,” he said. “The secrets for religious prosperity lie in the Gospels and in the Catholic tradition.”
The Concert for the Poor organized at the Vatican
A concert organized to support the Pope’s charitable work took place on May 14 in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall. The concert was sponsored by the Papal Almoner, the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, and the St. Matthew Foundation, and united culture with charitable concerns.
For the occasion, the donations gathered were given to the office of the Apostolic Almoner, the dicastery responsible for the Pope’s charity. The front seats at the concert were reserved for Rome’s poor and marginalized, so that all might learn to see Jesus in them. The event was also attended by detainees from the Rebibbia Prison and various inhabitants of camps for nomadic peoples.
–Vatican Information Service
Cardinal Vegliò: “Fight Against the Causes of Migration”
Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegliò, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, said he was “not satisfied” with the agreement made by European Union leaders after the last emergency meeting on migration. Cardinal Vegliò told Italy’s Religious Information Service on April 27 that although more funding was needed for patrols, “it does not solve the problem. What’s needed is a long-term program and a serious migration policy.” He was especially critical of a proposal to bomb the smuggler’s boats in North Africa, calling the idea “strange” and “useless.”
Cardinal Sandri: “Indifference and Inaction” on Middle East “a Scandal”
The centuries-old coexistence of Christians, Muslims and Jews in the Middle East is experiencing a “true and real dismantling,” said Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, speaking April 29 in a symposium organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio, with the theme “Christians in the Middle East: What Future?” He compared the “indifference and inaction” of the international community to the tragedies which have for years “consumed” Syria and Iraq to the washing of Pilate’s hands before the crucifixion of Christ. Although he acknowledged the complexity of finding a solution to the crisis, he said it was “a scandal” that vested interests and balance-of-power politics is being put before the survival of people.