Parolin Chooses Cheaper Option when Flying to Vilnius
A recent photo shows Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, as he arrives at the Vilnius airport of Lithuania by a Ryan Air flight.
While journeying to Lithuania to serve as a “papal legate” for the National Congress of Mercy, Parolin chose a cheap flight. Of course, knowing how the lifestyle of the cardinal is characterized by simplicity, the news is not surprising. However, in hindsight, during a time when scandals, including financial and economic, do not fail to be talked about, Parolin’s choice remains significant. The choice of Parolin, the Vatican said, is “personal.” Considering the general directives from the Holy See, Parolin’s flight becomes a signal that he gives to everyone: the cardinals, in essence, can and should lead by example.
“You are Witnesses of Christ,” Cardinal Parolin Tells New Swiss Guards
Every year on the anniversary of the 1527 Sack of Rome, the new recruits for the Pontifical Swiss Guard swear an oath to protect and defend the Pope, with their lives if necessary. This year 23 young men joined their peers and predecessors in making that oath.
“You are witnesses of Christ — here in Rome, in your homeland of Switzerland and wherever you go,” Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, told the new guards May 6.
Each year before their official swearing-in, Cardinal Parolin celebrates an early-morning Mass for the new guards in St. Peter’s Basilica.
He told the guards that in a world that desperately wants light but “often doesn’t have the courage to welcome it,” their commitment is an example for their peers, “who are hungry for meaning and fullness.”
Top Italian Cardinal Throws Punch at New Civil Unions Law
In a powerful speech on May 17 at the opening of the Italian bishops’ general assembly, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa decried the civil unions bill passed in the nation’s parliament last week, emphasizing that Pope Francis himself always advocates for the natural family.
The president of the Italian bishops’ conference peppered his May 17 speech with several lengthy quotes from the Roman pontiff, and lamented that the Pope’s affirmations of the family are so often ignored in the mainstream.
The annual gathering of the Italian bishops took place May 16-19 on the topic of “renewal of the clergy.” Pope Francis had begun the assembly with a brief speech on the priesthood, followed by a closed door question-and-answer session with the bishops.
Second to the meeting with the Pope, Cardinal Bagnasco’s address set the tone for the bishops’ plenary, and his address focused on the civil unions bill which was passed May 11.
Championed by prime minister Matteo Renzi, the bill passed Italy’s Chamber of Deputies by a 369-193 vote of confidence for Renzi. It had already passed the Senate in February, after being watered down “to win the backing of conservative and Catholic senators,” according to The Guardian.
The bill affords couples in civil unions many of the rights of married couples, but, in a clause added to gain the support of some conservative senators, parental rights are not granted to non-biological parents in a civil union.
“The Liberation of Girls of Chibok is an Important Sign,” says Cardinal Onaiyekan
“The question we must ask is: why until now, two years after their abduction, have we have not found them?” John Cardinal Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja, said in April, commenting on the release of two of the 219 girls kidnapped on the night of April 14, 2014 from their school in Chibok in northern Nigeria by the Islamist Boko Haram sect.
“We know that several hundred women and children abducted by Boko Haram have been released in recent months due to operations conducted by the army,” the cardinal said. “But the girls of Chibok have a special value, because of the mobilization of the international media in their favor, so it seems that the Boko Haram abductees are hidden more carefully than other abductees. So if we begin to find the girls of Chibok, it is perhaps a sign that finally the organization of Boko Haram is collapsing,” the cardinal said. Onaiyekan says he is “concerned about the health of these poor girls who have undergone profound violence. The Boko Haram men are indeed rewarded by their organization not with money but with the girls abducted by them.”
Fr. Francesco Patton has been Elected as New Custos of the Holy Land
The General Definitory of the Friars Minor, with the consent of the Holy See, elected Fr. Francesco Patton as the new Custos. He will succeed Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who held the position for 12 years. The figure of the Custos is a significant one for the Church in the Holy Land and the Middle East.
—Custodia Terræ Sanctæ
Cardinal Müller Received into the Order of Malta
In the Magistral Palace on May 23, the Grand Master of the Sovereign Order of Malta, Fra’ Matthew Festing, conferred the decoration of Bailiff Grand Cross of Honor and Devotion on Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
During the award ceremony marking Cardinal Müller’s entry into the Order of Malta, his studies in philosophy and dogmatic theology and the chairs he has held at numerous universities were recalled. The cardinal’s various positions in the Curia and his career in generous service to the Church, first in Germany and then in the Vatican, were cited. These testify to “the great trust that Peter’s successor has in you, demonstrated by your expertise in various sectors, also proved by an impressive production of hundreds of books, scientific publications and essays in philosophy and theology.”
In thanking the Grand Master, Cardinal Müller said that the Order of Malta “embodies the vision of our Holy Father of a ‘Church which goes forth’” (Evangelii Gaudium 24). For me, it is a testament to the Church’s unity and continuity over the centuries that the ideals of your founder, Blessed Fra’ Gerard, ‘of making suffering less harsh and poverty more bearable,’ almost a thousand years later, coincide so well with our Holy Father’s ideals. In your hospitals, medical centers, relief corps and in your schools and rest homes for the elderly,” concluded Cardinal Müller, “you incarnate the love of Christ for the poor and the weak.”
—Order of Malta
London Elects First Muslim Mayor
A Muslim Labour Party politician, Sadiq Khan, has been sworn in as mayor of London after his election as the city’s first Muslim mayor on Saturday, May 7. He is the first Muslim to lead a major European capital.
Khan, 45, is the London-born son of Pakistani immigrants.
His father was a bus driver and he grew up with seven siblings in a government-subsidized apartment. He studied law, became a university professor and served as chairman of the civil liberties pressure group Liberty. He was elected to Parliament in 2005. Khan’s supporters say he is the epitome of the Muslim immigrant success story in Great Britain.
Khan — who won 57% of the ballot, or 1.3 million votes, a number which happens to be roughly equal to the Muslim population of London — has promised to be “the British Muslim who takes the fight (against terrorism) to the extremists.”
In historic Meeting, Pope Francis Embraces Top Sunni Imam
Pope Francis on May 23 embraced the Muslim Grand Imam of Egypt, Sheik Ahmed Muhammad Al-Tayyib, during a meeting at the Vatican, a move which is being seen as a step toward reopening dialogue between Christians and Sunni Muslims. “Our meeting is the message,” the Pope was heard to have said to the imam during the meeting.
The pontiff and Al-Tayyib, who is the grand imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar mosque, observed the significance of the meeting “within the framework of dialogue between the Catholic Church and Islam,” said Holy See press office director Fr. Federico Lombardi.
The two men in their meeting discussed the commitment on the part of authorities and the faithful of major religions alike to work toward bringing world peace through “the rejection of violence and terrorism” as well as “the situation of Christians in the context of conflicts and tensions in the Middle East and their protection.”
Following their 30-minute “very cordial” meeting in the pontiff’s private library, Pope Francis presented the iman with a medallion depicting an olive of peace, as well as a copy of his encyclical ‘Laudato Si’.
U2’s Lead Guitarist Rocks Sistine Chapel in Concert for a Cure
The lead guitarist known as “The Edge” from Irish rock band U2 (his real name is David Evans) played in “the most beautiful parish hall in the world” — the Sistine Chapel — on Saturday, April 30.
The performance, the first-ever rock concert in the historic chapel, was given for about 200 doctors and researchers who attended a late-April conference at the Vatican on regenerative medicine. The conference discussed the use of adult stem cells to cure difficult and rare diseases such as cancer.