By Micaela Biferali with CNS reports and Grzegorz Galazka photos


Tuesday 22

The Italian bishops’ conference released its first ever set of guidelines for handling accusations of clerical sexual abuse, urging bishops to cooperate with civil authorities, but also making it clear that bishops in Italy have no legal obligation to report suspected cases to police.

Bishop Mariano Crociata, general secretary of the bishops’ conference, presented the guidelines to reporters.

Drawn up in response to an order by the Vatican in May 2011 that every bishops’ conference had to have guidelines in place within one year, the Italian norms still must be approved by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

While the introduction to the guidelines mentions the need for outreach to victims and for care in selecting and training priests, the brief norms focus almost exclusively on summarizing Vatican guidelines and canon law on the steps to follow in investigating allegations and dealing with priests when they are accused and when the accusations appear to be well-founded.


Wednesday 23

“Maybe people today do not understand the beauty, greatness and deep consolation” that comes from recognizing God as father, “because the paternal figure is not sufficiently present today,” the Pope said during his weekly general audience.

Pope Benedict continued a series of audience talks about prayer in the letters of St. Paul.

Focusing on St. Paul’s assertion that it is the Holy Spirit that enables people to pray and to address God as “Abba, Father,” the pontiff said, “the absence of one’s father or the lack of a father’s presence in a child’s life today is a big problem that always makes it difficult to understand fully what it means to say that God is our father.”

US Cardinal Wiiliam Levada

US Cardinal Wiiliam Levada


Thursday 24

The “Norms regarding the manner of proceedings in the discernment of presumed apparitions or revelations” were approved by Pope Paul VI in 1978 and distributed to the world’s bishops, only in Latin, but never officially published or translated into modern languages.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “believes it is now opportune to publish these ‘Norms,’ providing translations in the principle languages” so as to “aid the pastors of the Catholic Church in their difficult task of discerning presumed apparitions, revelations, messages or, more generally, extraordinary phenomena of presumed supernatural origin,” U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, head of the congregation, wrote in a note dated December 2011.

His note and the newly translated norms were published recently on the congregation’s website

pilgrims pray at a statue of Mary on Apparition Hill in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNS photo)

Pilgrims pray at a statue of Mary on Apparition Hill in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina (CNS photo)

Cardinal Levada wrote that he hoped the norms “might be useful to theologians and experts in this field of the lived experience of the church, whose delicacy requires an ever-more thorough consideration.”

More than 1,500 visions of Mary have been reported around the world, but in the past century only nine cases have received church approval as worthy of belief.

The alleged apparitions at Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina are an example of a situation in which the country’s bishops requested the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to intervene.

In that case, the congregation established an international commission in 2010 to investigate the claims of six young people who said Mary had appeared to them daily beginning in 1981.


Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, president of the Vatican bank, was fired by the bank’s board of supervisors, who censured him for neglecting his duties amid worsening management problems.

The board of the bank, formally known as the Institute for the Works of Religion, issued an unusually blunt statement through the Vatican Press Office, noting that members had repeatedly expressed concern to Gotti Tedeschi about the bank’s “governance,” but that the “situation has deteriorated further.”

The statement said that the board voted to censure Gotti Tedeschi “for not having carried out various responsibilities of primary importance regarding his office,” but did not specify the functions in question.

Benedict XVI named Gotti Tedeschi, an Italian banker and professor of financial ethics at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, as president of the bank in 2009. The appointment was seen at the time as a move toward greater transparency in the bank’s operations.


Increasing numbers of women are migrating alone, a situation that makes them vulnerable to violence and exploitation, but one that often shows their courage and commitment to making a better life for their families, said speakers at a conference in Rome.

About 214 million people live outside their country of origin, and half of all migrants are women, said Miguel Diaz, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, which sponsored a panel discussion about migration and women

Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio, president of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, said in the experience of the Catholic Church, its ministers and aid agencies, women who have been forced to migrate, “despite everything that has happened to them in their lives, respond to their situation with remarkable courage, resourcefulness and creativity.”

At the same time, the cardinal said, women migrants need special protection. They may be the targets of ethnically motivated rape during times of civil strife; their safety often isn’t ensured even in refugee camps; and many become the head of their household in a land where they do not speak the language or understand the culture.

Paolo Gabriele, the Pope’s private assistant, front left. (CNS photo)

Paolo Gabriele, the Pope’s private assistant, front left. (CNS photo)

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi confirmed that Paolo Gabriele, the Pope’s private assistant, was arrested by Vatican police after they found the illegally obtained documents in his home, which is on Vatican territory.

The spokesman said Vatican judge Nicola Picardi has completed “the first phase” of a preliminary investigation and Vatican judge Piero Antonio Bonnet has begun the next step of the inquiry.

A committee of three cardinals Pope Benedict XVI appointed in April to look into the leaks had asked the gendarmes to investigate.

Dozens of private letters to Pope Benedict and other confidential Vatican correspondence and reports, including encrypted cables from Vatican embassies around the world, were leaked to an Italian journalist, Gianluigi Nuzzi. He published the documents in a book, “Your Holiness,” released May 17.

St. Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th-century German abbess, who will be declared doctors of the universal Church on October 7 in Rome

St. Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th-century German abbess, who will be declared doctors of the universal Church on October 7 in Rome

The modern world is a latter-day Babel, where arrogance inspired by technological progress leads people to play God and sets them against each other, a predicament from which people can escape only through divinely inspired humility and love, Benedict XVI said, during his homily May 27, Pentecost Sunday, during Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

Pope Benedict quoted from the Old Testament, the story of the Tower of Babel, according to which men came to think themselves “strong enough to be able to construct on their own a path to heaven in order to open its doors and put themselves in God’s place.”

That ambition bred conflict not only with God but among men, he said, since it caused them to lose “the ability to agree, to understand each other and to work together.”

Pope Benedict said the remedy for today’s strife is the same one bestowed at the first Pentecost, when the “flame of the Holy Spirit descended on the gathered disciples … and lit in them the divine fire, a fire of love with the power to transform.”

St. John of Avila, a 16th-century Spanish priest

St. John of Avila, a 16th-century Spanish priest

The Holy Spirit “sustains and unites” mankind, the Pope said, and also resolves interior conflicts within each person, between the constantly struggling impulses of the flesh and the spirit.


After the Mass, before praying the “Regina Coeli” at the window of his study overlooking St. Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict announced that he will proclaim St. John of Avila, a 16th-century Spanish priest, and St. Hildegard of Bingen, a 12th-century German abbess, as doctors of the universal church Oct. 7 in Rome.


The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, has launched a monthly insert dedicated to women, aiming to bring greater attention to their important but sometimes neglected role in the church.

The glossy four-page color supplement, which debuted May 31 to mark the end of the month dedicated to Mary, is called “Women, church, world,” and will run the last Thursday of every month.

The idea was proposed by female journalists at the Vatican paper as a way to “widen the coverage of the newspaper of the Holy See” by including more articles on women and the church, the newspaper said.

women look a page of the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano during a news conference at the Vatican May 30. Starting May 31, the Italian daily edition of L'Osservatore Romano will publish an insert intended for women in its issue published on the last Thursday of every month (CNS photo)

women look a page of the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano during a news conference at the Vatican May 30. Starting May 31, the Italian daily edition of L’Osservatore Romano will publish an insert intended for women in its issue published on the last Thursday of every month (CNS photo)




Thursday 1 – Saturday 3

As tens of thousands of families from all over the world gathered for the World Meeting of Families, Benedict XVI urged them to use their Christian values and strengths to help bring peace, joy and solidarity to everyone in their lives.

While the May 30-June 3 world meeting centered on the joy and celebration of families living their faith, the Pope said it was impossible to not remember all those who were suffering in the world as he called for greater solidarity.

Pope Benedict announced that Philadelphia hosts the United States’ first World Meeting of Families in 2015, at the Seventh World Meeting of Families’ closing Mass to an estimated 1 million people gathered at Milan’s outdoor Bresso Park June 3.

In his homily, the Holy Father called for church unity, emphasized marriage as between a man and a woman, urged parents to keep the transcendent alive in a world that adores the high-tech over high ideals, and urged kids to respect and love their family.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, went on stage to greet the pontiff, and there they embraced and chatted briefly. The Pope, who chooses the venue for each world families’ meeting, thanked the archbishop for his willingness to host.

Benedict XVI spent nearly three full days at a variety of events: meeting local citizens, religious, government and business leaders and Catholic young people and families from around the world

He also was treated to a concert of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 at Milan’s famed La Scala opera house.

Pope Benedict also hosted a lunch for 100 poor families — about 300 people — who live in Milan, but come from a variety of countries.

Established by Blessed John Paul II nearly two decades ago, almost every world meeting has attracted hundreds of thousands to 1 million people to each triennial gathering.

The first world meeting was held in Rome in 1994. Since then it has taken place in Rio de Janeiro, in 1997; Rome in 2000; Manila in 2003; Valencia, Spain, in 2006; and Mexico City in 2009.


Wednesday 6

“By defending Sunday, one defends human freedom,” the Pope said during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

Benedict XVI said he wanted to come to the defense of free time, which is “threatened by a kind ‘bullying’ by the demands of work.”

“Sunday is the day of the Lord and of man, a day which everyone must be able to be free — free for the family and free for God.”

Family, work, rest and celebration are gifts from God and important aspects of human life that must find a “harmonious balance” in order to build a more humane world, he said.



In her 60-year reign, Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II has offered the world an inspiring example of Christian leadership and dedication to duty, Benedict XVI said in a message to the monarch.

Congratulating the queen on her diamond jubilee, the Pope said her reign demonstrated “a commitment to maintaining the principles of freedom, justice and democracy, in keeping with a noble vision of the role of a Christian monarch.”

Pope Benedict said her efforts “contributed in no small measure to improving ecumenical and interreligious relations throughout your realm.”


Thursday 7

“A unilateral interpretation of the Second Vatican Council has penalized this dimension” of Catholic faith, which is to recognize Jesus truly present in the Eucharist and worthy of adoration, the Pope said during a Mass marking the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ.

Preceded by members of parish eucharistic associations, children who recently made their first Communions, religious, seminarians, priests, bishops and cardinals walking to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, Pope Benedict rode on the back of a truck facing the Blessed Sacrament, which was held in a gem-studded gold monstrance.


Friday 8

Team sports such as soccer can educate participants and spectators in important values, including self-sacrifice and respect for one’s adversaries, Benedict XVI said in a message to participants in the European Cup soccer tournament.

Pope Benedict made his remarks in a message to athletes, fans and tournament organizers. He sent the message to Archbishop Jozef Michalik of Przemysl, president of the Polish bishops’ conference. The matches of the 2012 European Cup were to be held in Poland and Ukraine June 9-July 1.


Tuesday 12

Franciscan Sister Pat Farrell, LCWR president, and St. Joseph Sister Janet Mock, executive director, met with U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the doctrinal congregation, and with Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle to talk about the mandate.

“We are grateful for the opportunity for open dialogue, and now we will return to our members to see about the next step” and decide how to proceed in light of discussions with the doctrinal office, Sister Pat told journalists immediately after the meeting.

The Vatican statement about the meeting said the encounter “provided the opportunity for the congregation and the LCWR officers to discuss the issues and concerns raised by the doctrinal assessment.”

According to canon law, the Vatican said, the LCWR “is constituted by and remains under the supreme direction of the Holy See in order to promote common efforts” and cooperation.

The June 12 meeting came after the doctrinal congregation announced in April that a major reform was needed to ensure the LCWR’s fidelity to Catholic teaching in areas including abortion, euthanasia, women’s ordination and homosexuality.

The doctrinal congregation appointed Archbishop Sartain to provide “review, guidance and approval, where necessary, of the work” of LCWR, a Maryland-based umbrella group that claims about 1,500 leaders of U.S. women’s communities as members and represents about 80 percent of the country’s 57,000 women religious.


Thursday 14

The Vatican presented Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, its evaluation of the society’s position on a series of doctrinal questions as well as a draft document proposing the society become a personal prelature.

Bishop Fellay, who was accompanied by an assistant, met with U.S. Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbishop Luis Ladaria, congregation secretary, and Msgr. Guido Pozzo, secretary of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei.”

During the meeting, Bishop Fellay was given the Holy See’s evaluation — including the opinion of Pope Benedict XVI — of the society’s April response to a “doctrinal preamble” that the bishop would need to sign in order to reconcile the society with the rest of the church, the Vatican said in a written statement released

Father Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said the Vatican is showing its willingness and availability to reach an agreement, but that now it is up to Bishop Fellay to respond to the Vatican’s position.

Franciscan Sister Pat Farrell, left, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and St. Joseph Sister Janet Mock, right, the organization’s executive director, are pictured outside the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith following their meeting with US Cardinal William J. Levada and US Archbishop J. Peter Sartain at the Vatican June 12 (CNS photo)

Franciscan Sister Pat Farrell, left, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and St. Joseph Sister Janet Mock, right, the organization’s executive director, are pictured outside the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith following their meeting with US Cardinal William J. Levada and US Archbishop J. Peter Sartain at the Vatican June 12 (CNS photo)

A Vatican-ordered reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is not directed at women’s religious orders or at any individual sisters, nor is it a statement on the general quality of religious life today, said the American archbishop overseeing the controversial measure.

“The impression is given that the Holy Father or anybody involved is saying something negative about religious women in the United States, which is not the case,” said Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle. “This particular task is not about making comments on any particular religious order or religious women in general.”


Thursday 28

Archbishop Sheen heroically lived Christian virtues and should be considered “venerable,” said a decree issued by the Congregation for Saints’ Causes and signed by Pope Benedict. Before the archbishop can be beatified, the Vatican must recognize that a miracle has occurred through his intercession.

The decree came just more than 13 months after Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria, Ill., presented Pope Benedict with two thick volumes about the life of Archbishop Sheen, whose home diocese was Peoria.

Archbishop Sheen, who was born in Illinois in 1895 and died in New York in 1979, was an Emmy-winning televangelist. His program, “Life is Worth Living,” aired in the United States from 1951 to 1957.

Last September, a tribunal of inquiry was sworn in to investigate the allegedly miraculous healing of a newborn whose parents had prayed to the archbishop’s intercession.




Thursday 5

Benedict XVI reaffirmed his trust in the Vatican’s Secretary of State and defended him against a barrage of “unjust criticism” in the Italian media.

In a letter addressed to “dear brother” Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, 77, the Pope expressed his “profound appreciation for your discreet presence and wise counsel, which I have found particularly helpful over recent months.”

“Having noted with sorrow the unjust criticisms that have been directed against you, I wish to reiterate the expression of my personal confidence,” the pontiff wrote in the letter dated July 2. The Vatican released a copy July 4.

The cardinal, who is a Salesian priest, served under the future Pope Benedict as secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1995 to 2002, when then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was the Congregation’s prefect.

The Holy Father named him as Vatican Secretary of State in 2006.


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