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Posted on 09/21/2023 11:54 AM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Rome Newsroom, Sep 21, 2023 / 09:54 am (CNA).
The Vatican announced Thursday that two bishops from mainland China have been added as official delegates in the upcoming Synod on Synodality assembly.
Bishop Antonio Yao Shun of Jining and Bishop Joseph Yang Yongqiang of Zhoucun will travel from China to Rome to participate as full members of the Oct. 4–28 Synod of Bishops on the topic of “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, Mission.”
The bishops join Taiwan Bishop Norbert Pu of Kiayi and Cardinal-elect Stephen Chow, the bishop of Hong Kong, who were already announced as synod delegates in July.
The Vatican publicized the addition of the two mainland Chinese bishops during a press conference on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Vatican-China deal, the provisional agreement on the appointment of bishops between the Holy See and Beijing on Sept. 22, 2018.
It is not the first time that Beijing has approved bishops from the mainland to participate in a Synod of Bishops. Chinese Bishop Joseph Guo Jincai and Bishop Yang Xiaoting of Yan’an attended the first half of the youth synod in 2018 before suddenly leaving the synod early without explanation. Both bishops had close ties to the government-approved Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and stayed in Vatican City’s Santa Marta guesthouse, where Pope Francis resides.
One of the bishops attending this year’s assembly was the first bishop consecrated in China under the terms of the Vatican-China agreement.
Here is what we know about the two Chinese bishops who will come to the Vatican for the 2023 Synod on Synodality assembly:
Bishop Joseph Yang Yongqiang was ordained as a bishop with Vatican approval in 2010 and has served as the bishop of Zhoucun in mainland China’s Shandong Province since August 2013.
Yongqiang, 53, participated in the 2023 National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a political advisory body that is part of the Chinese Communist Party’s united front system, where it was decided that the Catholic Church should integrate its thought with the party and unite more closely to Xi Jinping, according to the official website of the Catholic Patriotic Association.
He is the vice president of the Chinese-government-sanctioned Catholic bishops’ conference and was elected as a leader of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association in December 2016. At his episcopal ordination, Yongqiang told UCA News that he saw the potential to increase dialogue with the underground Catholic community.
Last year, Yongqiang led a meeting presenting how Catholics must study the spirit of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.
Yongqiang was born into a Catholic family in Shandong’s Boxing County in 1970 and studied for the priesthood in Shanghai’s Sheshan seminary before he was ordained in 1995.
He worked for the provincial Catholic Patriotic Association and Chinese Church Affairs Committee in 2005 while he taught at the Holy Spirit Major Seminary in Jinan.
Earlier this month, Yongqiang attended a study session on how to implement the new “Measures on the Management of Religious Activity Sites,” government restrictions that ban the display of religious symbols outdoors, require preaching to “reflect core socialist values,” and limit all religious activities to government-approved religious venues, according to China Aid.
Bishop Antonio Yao Shun was the first bishop consecrated in China under the terms of the Sino-Vatican agreement, on Aug. 26, 2019. He is the bishop of Jining in China’s Autonomous Region of Inner Mongolia.
Before his appointment, Yao, now 58, had served as the secretary and later vice director of the liturgical commission overseen by the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and the Council of Chinese Bishops since 1998. He returned to the Diocese of Jining in 2010 to serve as vicar general.
Born in Ulanqab in 1965, Yao is a native of Inner Mongolia. He both studied and taught at the national seminary in Beijing. After his ordination to the priesthood in 1991, Yao completed a degree in liturgy in the United States at St. John’s University in Minnesota from 1994 to 1998. He also spent some time pursuing biblical studies in Jerusalem.
The New York Times has reported that the Vatican had approved Yao as the successor of Bishop John Liu Shigong in the Diocese of Jining in 2010, but the Chinese government refused to approve him, even after Bishop Liu died in 2017 at the age of 89.
However, Chinese researchers have pointed out that Yao is not one to speak out critically about the Chinese government.
“The Communist Party feels comfortable with him,” Francesco Sisci, a Beijing-based researcher on Chinese Catholicism, told the New York Times in 2019. “They don’t want someone doing agitprop against them.”
Posted on 09/21/2023 11:00 AM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Vatican City, Sep 21, 2023 / 09:00 am (CNA).
Two bishops from mainland China and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia of the Pontifical Academy for Life are among several additions to who will participate in the Synod on Synodality assembly next month.
The leadership of the synod on Thursday released the final list of participants for the first session of the assembly, which will begin Oct. 4 and end Oct. 28.
Bishop Giuseppe Yang Yongqiang of Zhoucun in Shandon Province and Bishop Antonio Yao Shun of Jining, in the Autonomous Region of Inner Mongolia, were nominated by Pope Francis from a list approved by the Chinese government, Bishop Luis Marín de San Martín, undersecretary of the synod, told journalists Sept. 21.
The two bishops from mainland China are late additions and will participate together with Archbishop Stephen Chow of Hong Kong and Bishop Norbert Pu of Kiayi, Taiwan, who were already on a list of synod members published by the Vatican in July.
Two Chinese bishops also took part in the 2018 youth synod.
Archbishop Paglia, who leads the Vatican academy on life issues, was also added to the list of synod members as a pontifical nomination.
Cardinal Luis Ladaria, who recently concluded his term as prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, will no longer participate in the synodal assembly, San Martín said, noting that Ladaria had asked Pope Francis directly to withdraw.
The Vatican also published Thursday a general schedule for the October assembly, which will begin with an opening Mass in St. Peter’s Square on Oct. 4 and close with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Oct. 29.
Each week’s work will include a day off for participants on Sunday, as well as Masses and other times of prayer, including a half-day pilgrimage, praying the rosary in the Vatican Gardens, and a prayer service dedicated to migrants and refugees.
On Oct. 28, members with voting rights will express their approval or disapproval of a document summarizing the three and a half weeks of proceedings.
The other new additions to the synod assembly are:
Cardinal Paulo Cezar Costa of Brasilia from the episcopal conference of Brazil
Sister Mary Theresa Barron, OLA, president of the International Union of Superiors General
Sister Maria Nirmalini, AC, superior general of the Sisters of the Apostolic Carmel
Margaret Karram, president of the Focolare Movement
Newly added as experts and facilitators:
Andrew Spiteri from Australia
Sister Christina Danel, superior general of the Congregation of Xavières, from France
Péter Szabó from Hungary
Eva Gullo from Italy
Father Mario Antonelli from Italy
Posted on 09/20/2023 14:29 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Vatican City, Sep 20, 2023 / 12:29 pm (CNA).
The head of the Vatican’s charity office is traveling to Ukraine to inaugurate a new home for displaced mothers and children in Lviv days after a warehouse containing aid burned to the ground following a Russian strike.
According to a Sept. 20 press release from the Dicastery for the Service of Charity, papal almoner Cardinal Konrad Krajewski is in Ukraine this week to open the House of Refuge “in the name of Pope Francis, as a sign of support and closeness to the many people who were forced to flee because of the conflict, bringing the apostolic blessing.”
The shelter was built during the conflict with Russia and financed in part by the Vatican. It will provide temporary housing to women who have fled the bombing in other parts of Ukraine.
The visit follows Russian attacks in Ukraine that killed nine people Sept. 19, according to Reuters. In Lviv, a drone strike set on fire several industrial warehouses, including a warehouse used by the Catholic charity Caritas-Spes to store humanitarian aid.
The secretary general of Caritas Internationalis, Alistair Dutton, said the attack destroyed more than 330 tons of humanitarian aid for Ukrainians.
“The mission’s employees were unharmed,” the head of Caritas-Spes Ukraine, Father Vyacheslav Grynevych, said, “but the warehouse with everything inside burned to the ground including food, hygiene kits, generators, and clothes.”
“We will be able to calculate the final details of the losses later, as special services are currently working at the scene. We already know that 33 pallets of food packages, 10 pallets of hygiene kits and canned food, 10 pallets of generators and clothes were destroyed,” the priest said, according to a press release from Caritas Internationalis.
Dutton is in New York this week to attend the U.N. General Assembly at which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke Tuesday.
The Caritas-Spes warehouse served as a place to store aid from other countries, including Caritas Poland, before it was transported to families in eastern Ukraine.
The Caritas-Spes warehouse has also been used as a deposit for supplies, including generators, donated to Ukraine by Pope Francis through the Vatican’s charity office.
“I am sorrowful for what happened in Lviv with the attack on the warehouse of Caritas-Spes,” Krajewski said. “They struck to destroy the possibility of helping people who are suffering.”
In a message to Cardinal Peter Turkson on Sept. 19, Pope Francis denounced “the use in contemporary warfare of so-called ‘conventional weapons,’ which should be used for defensive purposes only and not directed to civilian targets.”
The pope’s message, dated Sept. 12, was sent to the chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences on the occasion of a Sept. 19-20 conference on Pacem in Terris, St. John XXIII’s 1963 encyclical on peace.
“It is my hope that sustained reflection on this issue will lead to a consensus that such weapons, with their immense destructive power, will not be employed in a way that foreseeably causes ‘superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering,’ to use the words of the St. Petersburg Declaration,” Francis said.
Posted on 09/20/2023 12:04 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Vatican City, Sep 20, 2023 / 10:04 am (CNA).
Pope Francis extolled Wednesday the “apostolic zeal” of St. Daniele Comboni, an Italian missionary priest and bishop who fought to end slavery in Africa.
Comboni witnessed “the horror of slavery” as a missionary in the mid-19th century in what is now Sudan. In his writings, he spoke of slavery more than 450 times and decried how the slave trade “degrades humankind and turns human beings, endowed like all of us with the light of intelligence, a ray of divinity and image of the most holy Trinity, to the dismal condition of animals.”
Pope Francis shared the “energetic and prophetic” life story of the founder of the Comboni missionary orders during his general audience on Sept. 20.
“Comboni’s dream was that of a Church who makes common cause with those who are crucified in history, so as to experience the resurrection with them,” Pope Francis said.
Speaking to an estimated 15,000 people in St. Peter’s Square, the pope pointed to Comboni as an example of how Christians are “called to fight every form of slavery.”
“Slavery, like colonialism, is not something from the past, unfortunately,” he added.
“In Africa … political exploitation gave way to an ‘economic colonialism’ that was equally enslaving,” he said, quoting a speech he gave in the Democratic Republic of Congo earlier this year.
Comboni summed up his vision for evangelization in Africa with the words “Save Africa with Africa,” a mindset that Pope Francis called “a powerful insight devoid of colonialism.”
“St. Daniel Comboni wanted every Christian to participate in the evangelizing enterprise,” he said. “With this spirit, he integrated his thoughts and actions, involving the local clergy and promoting the lay service of catechists.”
Comboni was born in 1831 into a poor family in a town on the shores of Lake Garda in northern Italy. After discovering his vocation to the priesthood, he was inspired by the stories he heard from missionary priests returning from Africa.
At the age of 26, he joined a missionary expedition bound for Khartoum, Sudan, in 1857, three years after he was ordained to the priesthood.
After two years in Africa, three of the five other missionaries Comboni had traveled with had died, and Comboni also became ill.
Comboni wrote to his parents: “We will have to toil, sweat, die, but the thought that we sweat and die for the love of Jesus Christ and the health of the most abandoned souls in the world is too sweet to make us give up on the great undertaking.”
The Italian missionary priest later wrote that the African people “have taken possession of my heart that lives for them alone.”
Pope Francis highlighted how “Comboni’s great missionary passion” came from “the joy of the Gospel, drawn from Christ’s love, which then led to Christ’s love.”
The priest wrote: “The Eucharistic Jesus is my strength.”
Comboni was appointed apostolic vicar of Central Africa and ordained a bishop in 1877. He died in Sudan in 1881 amid a cholera epidemic. His legacy lives on in the religious orders he founded, which are now known as the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus and the Comboni Missionary Sisters, and are present in 42 countries on five continents.
“St. Daniele testifies to the love of the Good Shepherd who goes in search of the one who is lost and gives his life for the flock. His zeal was energetic and prophetic in being opposed to indifference and exclusion,” Pope Francis said.
“In his letters, he earnestly called out his beloved Church who had forgotten Africa for too long. … His witness seems to want to repeat to all of us, men and women of the Church: ‘Do not forget the poor — love them — for Jesus crucified is present in them, waiting to rise again.’”
Posted on 09/20/2023 07:50 AM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Vatican City, Sep 20, 2023 / 05:50 am (CNA).
One day after Azerbaijan launched a new military operation against Nagorno-Karabakh, Pope Francis made a public appeal for both sides to “silence the weapons.”
Speaking to more than 15,000 people in St. Peter’s Square on Sept. 20, the pope said that he was troubled by the news he received Tuesday from Nagorno Karabakh, where “the already critical humanitarian situation is now aggravated by further armed clashes.”
“I make my heartfelt appeal to all the parties involved and to the international community to silence the weapons and make every effort to find peaceful solutions for the good of the people and respect for human dignity,” Pope Francis said at the end of his Wednesday general audience.
Nagorno-Karabakh is a disputed region in Azerbaijan that is home to about 120,000 Armenian Christians. Ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh deny Azeri control of the region and claim self-sovereignty under the auspices of the “Republic of Artsakh.”
The South Caucasus region has been a flashpoint since Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan after the fall of the Soviet Union, sparking a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the territory that resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of people in the 1990s.
In 2020, with the backing of Turkey, Azerbaijan reignited the long-simmering conflict by invading Nagorno-Karabakh. The six-week conflict ended in Azerbaijan seizing control of Nagorno-Karabakh.
A critical humanitarian situation developed in Nagorno-Karabakh this year after Azerbaijan began to restrict access to the Lachin Corridor, the sole road connecting the breakaway region to Armenia, in December 2022, cutting off access to food and medical aid.
The Azeri government on Tuesday called the strikes “anti-terror measures” against “illegal Armenian military formations.” Azerbaijan said the attacks will not stop until the ethnic Armenians completely surrender.
Nagorno-Karabakh’s “Artsakh Defense Forces” reported 23 civilian injuries and two deaths on Tuesday after the Azeri military unleashed artillery and mortar strikes on both military and civilian positions.
The military escalation marks the first indication of a large-scale outright military conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh since 2020.
Ruben Vardenyan, an Armenian politician who served as the state minister of the unrecognized state of Artsakh, has appealed to the international community to demand action in defense of the Armenian Christians in Nagorno-Karabakh.
“The Christian world needs to realize this is unacceptable,” Vardenyan said in a video message to EWTN News. “I believe that only together we can stop this war.”
Posted on 09/20/2023 06:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inspired by the dignity of each human being as revealed by Jesus, Christians are called to fight "every form of slavery," whether physical, social or spiritual, Pope Francis said.
"Jesus, God made man, elevated the dignity of every human being and exposed the falsehood of slavery," the pope told people gathered in St. Peter's Square for his general audience Sept. 20. "As Christians, therefore, we are called to fight against every form of slavery."
Continuing his weekly catechesis on zeal for evangelization, the pope discussed the life of St. Daniele Comboni, a 19th-century Italian bishop who dedicated his life to establishing and supporting missions in Africa, where Pope Francis said the saint witnessed the "horror of slavery."
"Comboni, by the light of Christ, became aware of the evil of slavery; he also understood that social slavery is rooted in a deeper slavery, that of the heart, that of sin, from which the Lord delivers us," he said.
Pope Francis stressed that "slavery, like colonialism, is not a thing of the past," and recalled his address to South Sudanese political leaders during his visit to the country in February in which he called for an end to the economic colonialism that followed the end of political colonialism in Africa.
St. Comboni, the pope said, understood that those he evangelized in Africa were "not only 'objects' but 'subjects' of the mission" and praised the saint's philosophy about evangelization in Africa contained in his missionary slogan: "Save Africa through Africa."
"How important it is, even today, to advance the faith and human development from within the contexts of mission instead of transplanting external models or limiting oneself to sterile welfarism," Pope Francis said. "Take up the way of evangelization from the culture of the people. Evangelizing the culture and enculturating the Gospel go together."
The pope highlighted St. Comboni's efforts to involve laypeople, families and catechists -- "treasures of the church" -- in evangelization as a way of "making all Christians protagonists of evangelizing action" and preventing clericalism.
After his catechesis, Pope Francis mentioned a meeting he had before his general audience with Brazilian lawmakers working on behalf of the poor. "They do not forget the poor; they work for the poor," he said. "To you I say, 'do not forget the poor,' because they will be the ones who open the door to heaven for you."
The pope also noted the "worrying news" from the South Caucasus region "where the already critical humanitarian situation was aggravated by further armed conflict" after Azerbaijan attacked the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh Sept. 19.
"I call on all involved parties and the international community to silence weapons and make every effort to find peaceful solutions for the good of people and respect for human dignity," he said.
Posted on 09/19/2023 16:00 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Rome Newsroom, Sep 19, 2023 / 14:00 pm (CNA).
Victims of Father Marko Rupnik’s alleged spiritual and sexual abuse on Tuesday expressed “bewilderment” with the Diocese of Rome’s recent statement praising the art and theology center founded by the former Jesuit artist, saying that it “ridicules victims’ pain” and shows little care for those seeking justice.
In an open letter published on Sept. 19, former members of the Slovenian religious community Rupnik is accused of abusing said they were “left speechless” by the diocese’s concluding report on its canonical investigation of the Aletti Center, an art and theology school in Rome where Rupnik lived and served as the director from 1995 to 2020.
The diocese described the Aletti Center — where Rupnik has been accused of engaging in sex acts with consecrated women — as currently having “a healthy community life … that is free of particular serious issues” and added that the investigation raised “doubts” about the procedures that led to Rupnik’s excommunication.
“This report …. which exonerates Rupnik of any responsibility, ridicules the pain of the victims, but also of the whole Church, mortally wounded by such blatant hubris,” the open letter said.
The letter was signed by Fabrizia Raguso and other former sisters of the Loyola Community, a Slovenian community co-founded by Rupnik and Sister Ivanka Hosta. The letter was posted to the website Italy Church Too, an online platform for victims of clerical abuse.
The women said that Pope Francis’ recent meeting with Maria Campatelli, the current director of the Aletti Center and a close collaborator of Rupnik, further caused them pain because the pope never responded to letters from members and former members of the Loyola Community.
“That meeting granted by the pope to Campatelli in such a friendly atmosphere was thrown in the faces of the victims (these and all victims of abuse); a meeting that the pope denied them,” the open letter said.
“The victims are left with a voiceless cry of new abuse,” it added.
Rupnik was dismissed by the Jesuits in June after having been accused of spiritual, psychological, and sexual abuse spanning more than three decades.
The Diocese of Rome announced on Sept. 18 that a canonical investigation into the Aletti Center conducted by Monsignor Giacomo Incitti, a professor of canon law at the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Rome, had concluded and cleared the community of having any serious problems.
Last year, a woman claimed in an interview with the Italian newspaper Domani that Rupnik had previously abused her in his room at the Aletti Center in Rome when she was a religious sister.
The statement released by the diocese said that the visitation was “able to ascertain that the members of the Aletti Center, although saddened by the accusations received and the ways in which they were handled, chose to maintain silence — despite the vehemence of the media — to guard their hearts and not claim some blamelessness with which to stand as judge of others.”
It said that the investigation also had examined the main accusations against Rupnik and the procedures behind his excommunication.
Rupnik previously received an automatic, or “latae sententiae,” excommunication for hearing the confession and then attempting to grant absolution to a woman with whom he had sexual relations. The Jesuits’ internal investigation confirmed Rupnik’s excommunication in January 2020, which was lifted in May 2020 after Rupnik repented of the canonical crime.
According to the Diocese of Rome, the visitation identified “gravely irregular procedures” that “generated well-founded doubts about even the request for excommunication itself.”
In light of these “doubts,” Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the vicar of the Diocese of Rome, submitted the report to Church authorities.
The announcement from the Rome Diocese came days after Pope Francis met with Campatelli, the director of the Aletti Center, who published a letter in June defending Rupnik against “a media campaign based on defamatory and unproven accusations” and claiming the Jesuits had withheld documents “which would demonstrate a truth different from that which was being published.”
In the letter posted to the Aletti Center website on June 17, two days after the public announcement of Rupnik’s expulsion from the Society of Jesus, Campatelli accused the Jesuit order of withholding information from the media, including documents “which would demonstrate a truth different from that which was being published.”
She said that Rupnik had in January requested to leave the Jesuits after losing trust in his superiors for favoring “a media campaign based on defamatory and unproven accusations (which exposed the person of Father Rupnik and the Aletti Center to forms of lynching).” She also said other Jesuits who are part of the Aletti Center had put in requests to leave the religious order.
The canonical visitation of the Aletti Center took place between Jan.16 and June 23, and included community meetings and interviews with members of the center.
Posted on 09/19/2023 13:00 PM (CNA Daily News - Vatican)
Rome Newsroom, Sep 19, 2023 / 11:00 am (CNA).
Pope Francis on Tuesday accepted the resignation of two auxiliary bishops of the Archdiocese of Chicago: Andrew P. Wypych and Joseph N. Perry.
Bishop Perry turned 75 in April. At age 75, Catholic bishops are required by canon law to submit their resignation to the pope, who chooses whether and when to accept it.
The reason for 68-year-old Wypych’s early resignation was not given. The Polish-born priest moved to Chicago in 1983 to be close to his mother, who had immigrated to the United States nine years prior after the death of Wypych’s father.
In a 2011 interview with Catholic New World, Wypych said the first years of his priesthood he couldn’t speak with his mother except by letter “because telephone connections between Poland and the United States were prohibited by the communist government.”
Born in Kazimierza Wielka, Poland, Wypych grew up as an only child after the death of his younger brother, Robert, in infancy.
He was incardinated in the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1989 to help minister to the Polish Catholic community in the city.
Wypych had been ordained a deacon by Archbishop Karol Wojtyla of Krakow just before the latter became Pope John Paul II. He was ordained a priest in 1979.
In 2011, Wypych was named an auxiliary bishop of Chicago. He served as episcopal vicar for the archdiocese’s Vicariate V. He was also national executive director of the Catholic League for Religious Assistance to Poland and Polonia since 2011.
Perry, episcopal vicar of Chicago’s Vicariate VI, was appointed an auxiliary bishop of Chicago in 1998.
Born in Chicago, he was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in 1975.
Perry has a licentiate in canon law from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. From 2004, he was vice president of the board of the Black Catholic Congress and chairman of the USCCB committee on African American Catholics.
The Archdiocese of Chicago serves approximately 2.2 million Catholics. It is led by Cardinal Blase Cupich assisted by six auxiliary bishops.
Pope Francis Accepts Resignations of Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Perry and Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Wypych
Posted on 09/19/2023 06:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
WASHINGTON - Pope Francis has accepted the resignation, having reached age 75, of the Most Reverend Joseph N. Perry, from the Office of Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago. Pope Francis has also accepted the resignation, for health reasons, of the Most Reverend Andrew P. Wypych, from the Office of Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago.
The resignations were publicized in Washington on September 19, 2023, by Cardinal-designate Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.
Posted on 09/19/2023 06:30 AM (USCCB News Releases)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Jesuit Brother Bob Macke, a Vatican astronomer and meteorite expert, has built a custom device for studying material from the first U.S. mission to collect a sample from an asteroid.
The unmanned spacecraft Osiris-Rex was launched in 2016 to collect samples on the near-Earth asteroid, Bennu.
After collecting about a cup of material in 2020, the spacecraft is now approaching Earth and, before it continues its space voyage to orbit the Sun, it is due to release its cargo to send the sample back to Earth Sept. 24.
Because of Brother Macke's known expertise in the field, Andrew Ryan, the lead of the mission's sample analysis working group, asked him if he could build the device needed to analyze the density and porosity of the samples to help identify the mysterious rocks on the asteroid's surface, according to Mashable.com Sept. 16.
NASA had strict requirements for this device, called a pycnometer, and the companies Ryan contacted were only willing to sell what they had in stock, not do a custom build, he told Mashable.
Brother Macke, however, was game and he posted his progress and success with a number of videos on his YouTube channel, Macke MakerSpace. He said he built it in five weeks with the help of students at the University of Arizona, which collaborates with the Vatican Observatory's advanced technology telescope in Tucson.
He delivered the device to the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston in March for a trial run. Curators for the mission will handle the samples and the device, while Brother Macke will operate the software program he built to measure the samples' porosity and density, he said in his April 21 video.
"Our job is to examine it and to find out what's in there. We're trying to answer some basic questions like, are there more than one type of rock inside? Or is everything the same kind of rock? From what we saw on the surface of the asteroid Bennu, we expect to find two and maybe more," he said.
The results of the initial analysis, he said, "will help inform the selection of specimens for more detailed science to be done in laboratories around the world."