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Pope Francis appeals that migrants not be sent back to unsafe countries

Pope Francis gives his Angelus address on Oct. 24, 2021. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Oct 24, 2021 / 06:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis made an appeal for migrants Sunday, calling on the international community to stop deporting migrants to unsafe countries.

“I express my closeness to the thousands of migrants, refugees and others in need of protection in Libya: I never forget you; I hear your cries and pray for you,” Pope Francis said on Oct. 24.

“We need to end the return of migrants to unsafe countries and prioritize rescuing lives at sea,” he said.

Speaking from the window of the Apostolic Palace, the pope asked the Catholic pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square to pray in silence for migrants, many of whom he said had been subjected to “inhumane violence.”

Vatican Media
Vatican Media

“Once again I call on the international community to keep its promises to seek common, concrete and lasting solutions for the management of migratory flows in Libya and throughout the Mediterranean,” the pope said.

“And how those who are turned away suffer! There are real camps there,” he added.

Libya is a main transit point for migrants from Africa and the Middle East who seek a better life in Europe.

An estimated 87,000 migrants have been intercepted by the Libyan authorities since 2016, according to a report from the United Nations, which found that about 7,000 of those migrants remain in detention centers in Libya.

Libyan authorities have recently crackdown on migrants, detaining more than 5,000 people in a few days, according to the Associated Press, which reported that the detention centers were “rife with abuses.”

In his appeal, the pope called in particular for “safe and reliable rescue and disembarkation equipment,” and alternatives to detention with decent living conditions.

Pope Francis underlined the importance of ensuring “access to asylum procedures” and establishing regular migration routes.

“Let us all feel responsible for these brothers and sisters of ours, who have been victims of this very serious situation for too many years,” he said.

Vatican Media
Vatican Media

In his Angelus address, the pope reflected on the Gospel account of Jesus restoring sight to Bartimaeus, a blind man begging by the roadside.

“His blindness was the tip of the iceberg; but there must have been wounds, humiliations, broken dreams, mistakes, remorse in his heart,” the pope said.

According to the Gospel of Mark, Bartimaeus called out to Jesus and said: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”

Pope Francis said: “Jesus hears, and immediately stops. God always listens to the cry of the poor … He realizes it is full of faith, a faith that is not afraid to insist, to knock on the door of God’s heart.”

The pope said that Bartimaeus asked “for everything from the One who can do everything.”

“He asks for mercy on his person, on his life. It is not a small request, but it is so beautiful because it is a cry for mercy, that is, compassion, God’s mercy, his tenderness.”

Pope Francis encouraged people to make the prayer of Bartimaeus their own by bringing their own “wounds, humiliations, broken dreams, mistakes, remorse” to God in prayer and repeating: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.”

“We must ask everything of Jesus, who can do everything. ... He cannot wait to pour out his grace and joy into our hearts; but unfortunately, it is we who keep our distance, through timidness, laziness or unbelief,” he said.

“May Bartimaeus, with his concrete, insistent and courageous faith, be an example for us. And may Our Lady, the prayerful Virgin, teach us to turn to God with all our heart, confident that He listens attentively to every prayer,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis: Our response to injustice must be more than condemnation

Pope Francis meets with the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation at the Vatican on Oct. 23, 2021. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Oct 23, 2021 / 10:30 am (CNA).

Denunciation is not enough when it comes to issues of injustice, the pope said this weekend.

“Our response to injustice and exploitation must be more than mere condemnation. First and foremost, it must be the active promotion of the good: denouncing evil and promoting the good," Pope Francis on Oct. 23.

“This means putting the Church's social doctrine into practice,” he said.

Pope Francis encouraged Christians to “sow many small seeds that can bear fruit in an economy that is equitable and beneficial, humane and people-centered.”

He spoke in an audience with the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation’s annual convention, which was held at the Vatican Oct. 21-22.

The foundation is named after the ninth encyclical by St. John Paul II, which addressed the social teaching of the Church, particularly in regard to workers and the economy, and the relationship of the state to society.

“In every area today, we are more than ever obliged to bear witness to attention for others, to to go out of ourselves, to commit ourselves with gratuitousness to the development of a more just and equitable society, where selfishness and partisan interests do not prevail,” the pope said.

“And at the same time we are called to watch over respect for the human person, his freedom, the protection of his inviolable dignity. Here is the mission to implement the social doctrine of the Church.”

“In carrying on these values ​​and this lifestyle, we know we often go against the tide, but let us always remember: we are not alone. God has come close to us. Not in words, but with His presence: In Jesus, God became Incarnate," Francis said.

The theme of the foundation’s conference this year is “Solidarity, cooperation and responsibility: the antidotes to combat injustices, inequalities and exclusion.”

“These are important reflections, in a time in which uncertainty and instability mark the lives of so many people, and communities are aggravated by an economic system that continues to discard lives in the name of the god of money, fostering destructive attitudes towards the resources of the earth and fueling many forms of injustice,” the pope said.

“As Christians we are called to a love without borders and without limits. We are called to be a sign and witness that it is possible to pass beyond the walls of selfishness and personal and national interest, beyond the power of money which often decides the destiny of peoples, beyond ideological divisions that foster hatred; beyond all historical and cultural barriers and, above all, beyond indifference,” he said.

“It is therefore a great task to build a more united, just and equitable world. For believers, however, it is not simply a practical matter detached from doctrine. Indeed, it is the way to embody our faith, to praise the God who loves men and women, who loves life. Dear brothers and sisters, the good that you do for every person on earth brings joy to the heart of God in heaven,” Pope Francis said.

Pope Francis asks religious sisters to pray for him: 'It is not easy to be the pope'

Pope Francis meets with the Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco in Rome on Oct. 22, 2021. / Vatican Media

Rome, Italy, Oct 23, 2021 / 08:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis paid a visit to the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians on Friday and asked the religious sisters to pray for him as they live out their mission of service to the young and the poor.

“Thank you for who you are and what you do. I am close to you with prayer and I bless you and all your sisters in the world,” Pope Francis told the Salesian sisters on Oct. 22.

“And I ask you to pray for me; it is not easy to be the pope!”

Pope Francis spent the morning at the General House of the Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco, as they are commonly known. He encouraged the sisters to imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary, who “always points to Jesus.”

Vatican Media
Vatican Media

“Openness to the Holy Spirit enables you to persevere in your commitment to be generative communities in your service to the young and the poor,” Pope Francis said.

“These are missionary communities, going out to announce the Gospel to the peripheries with the passion of the first Daughters of Mary Help of Christians.”

The religious congregation, founded by St. John Bosco and St. Mary Mazzarello in 1872, has grown to become the largest congregation of women religious in the world with 11,000 sisters in 97 countries, according to their website.

Vatican Media
Vatican Media

Pope Francis encouraged the sisters to work to ensure that their community life is intergenerational, so that the elderly are never separated completely from the younger sisters.

“It is true that old people can sometimes become a little capricious -- we are like that -- and the flaws in old age are more visible, but it is also true that the elderly have that wisdom, that great wisdom of life: the wisdom of fidelity to grown old in one’s vocation,” the pope said.

“Yes, there will be homes for the elderly who cannot lead a normal life, they are bedridden, ... but go there all the time to visit the elderly, to spend time with them. They are the treasure of history,” he added.

Vatican Media
Vatican Media

Pope Francis shared a story from the life of St. Therese of Lisieux as recorded in her autobiography, “The Story of a Soul.”

The pope said: “I am so helped by that experience of St. Therese of the Child Jesus, who accompanied an old nun, who could hardly walk.”

“The poor old woman, who was a bit neurotic, complained about everything, but she [St. Therese] looked at her with love,” he said.

“And it happened once, in the walk from the sanctuary to the refectory, that a noise was heard from outside ... there was a party nearby. And little Therese said: ‘I will never exchange this for that.’ She understood the greatness of her vocation.”

Vatican Media
Vatican Media

The Salesian sisters have held their 24th General Chapter in Rome from Sept. 11 to Oct. 24 focused on the theme: “Communities that generate life in the heart of the contemporary world"

Pope Francis told the congregation to go forward with enthusiasm, accompanied by the Virgin Mary, on the path that the Holy Spirit proposes with a watchful eye to recognize the needs of the world.

He asked the sisters to have “a heart open to welcome the promptings of God's grace … and a heart always in love with the Lord.”

5 ways Saint Pope John Paul II changed the Catholic Church forever

Pope John Paul II circa 1991.

Vatican City, Oct 22, 2021 / 16:10 pm (CNA).

You probably know that St. Pope John Paul II was the second longest-serving pope in modern history with 27 years of pontificate, and he was the first non-Italian pontiff since the Dutch Pope Adrian VI in 1523. But did you know that he changed the Catholic Church forever during those 27 years?  Here are five reasons why:

1. He helped bring about the 1989 fall of communism in Eastern Europe.

The pope’s official biographer, George Weigel, who for decades chronicled the pope’s engagement with civic leaders, noted that the way Pope John Paul II influenced the political landscape was enormous. His political influence is seen best in the way his engagement with world leaders assisted the downfall of the U.S.S.R.

Just days before President Ronald Reagan called on Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down” the Berlin Wall, he met with the pope. According to historian and author Paul Kengor, Reagan went so far as to call Pope John Paul II his “best friend,” opining that no one knew his soul better than the Polish pontiff who had also suffered an assasination attempt and carried the burden of world leadership.

In the course of 38 official visits and 738 audiences and meetings held with heads of state, John Paul II influenced civic leaders around the world in this epic battle with a regime that would ultimately be responsible for the deaths of more than 30 million people. 

“He thought of himself as the universal pastor of the Catholic Church, dealing with sovereign political actors who were as subject to the universal moral law as anybody else,” Weigel said. 

“He was willing to be a risk-taker, but he also appreciated that prudence is the greatest of political virtues. And I think he was quite respected by world political leaders because of his transparent integrity. His essential attitude toward these men and women was: How can I help you? What can I do to help?”

More than anything, John Paul II understood his role primarily as a spiritual leader.

According to Weigel, the pope’s primary impact on the world of affairs was his central role in creating the revolution of conscience that began in Poland and swept across Eastern Europe. This revolution of conscience inspired the nonviolent revolution of 1989 and the collapse of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe, an astounding political achievement. 

2. He beatified and canonized more saints than any predecessor, making holiness more accessible to ordinary people.

One of John Paul II’s most enduring legacies is the huge number of saints he recognized. He celebrated 147 beatification ceremonies during which he proclaimed 1,338 blesseds, as well as celebrating 51 canonizations for a total of 482 saints. That is more than the combined tally of his predecessors over the five centuries before.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta is perhaps the most well-known contemporary of John Paul II who is now officially a saint, but the first saint of the new millennium and one especially dear to John Paul II was St. Faustina Kowalska, the fellow Polish native who received the message of Divine Mercy. 

“Sr. Faustina's canonization has a particular eloquence: by this act I intend today to pass this message on to the new millennium,” he said in the homily of her canonization. “I pass it on to all people, so that they will learn to know ever better the true face of God and the true face of their brethren.” 

Pier Giorgio Frassati, whom Pope John Paul II beatified in 1990 and nicknamed the “man of the beatitudes,” is another popular saint elevated by the Polish Pope who loved to recognize the holiness of simple persons living the call to holiness with extraordinary fidelity. At the time of his death, the 24 year-old Italian was simply a student with no extraordinary accomplishments. But his love for Christ in the Eucharist and in the poor was elevated by John Paul II as heroic and worthy of imitation. 

It bears noting that Pope Francis would later surpass John Paul II when he proclaimed 800 Italian martyrs saints in a single day. 

3. He transformed the papal travel schedule.

John Paul II visited some 129 counties during his pontificate — more countries than any other pope had visited up to that point.

He also created World Youth Days in 1985, and presided over 19 of them as pope.

Weigel says John Paul II understood that the pope must be present to the people of the Church, wherever they are.

“He chose to do it by these extensive travels, which he insisted were not travels, they were pilgrimages,” Wegel said.

“This was the successor of Peter, on pilgrimage to various parts of the world, of the Church. And that's why these pilgrimages were always built around liturgical events, prayer, adoration of the Holy Eucharist, ecumenical and interreligious gatherings — all of this was part of a pilgrimage experience.”

In the latter half of the 20th century — a time of enormous social change and upheaval— John Paul II’s extensive travels and proclamation of the Gospel to the ends of the earth were just what the world needed, Weigel said.

4. He transformed the teachings of the Church.

John Paul II was a scholar who promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church in 1992, reformed the Eastern and Western Codes of Canon Law during his pontificate, and authored 14 encyclicals, 15 apostolic exhortations, 11 apostolic constitutions, and 45 apostolic letters.

This is why Weigel says the Church has really only begun to unpack what he calls the “magisterium” of John Paul II, in the form of his writings and his intellectual influence.

For example, John Paul’s Theology of the Body remains enormously influential in the United States and throughout the world, though Weigel says even this has yet to be unpacked.

5. He gave new life to the Catholic Church in Africa.

John Paul II’s legendary evangelical fervor took fire in Africa. 

He had a particular friendship with Beninese Cardinal Bernadin Gantin, and visited Africa many times. His visits would inspire a generation of JPII Catholics in Africa as well other parts of the globe.

“John Paul II was fascinated by Africa; he saw African Christianity as living, a kind of New Testament experience of the freshness of the Gospel, and he was very eager to support that, and lift it up,” Cardinal Gantin said.

“It was very interesting that during the two synods on marriage and the family in 2014 and 2015, some of the strongest defenses of the Church's classic understanding of marriage and family came from African bishops. Some of whom are first, second generation Christians, deeply formed in the image of John Paul II, whom they regard as a model bishop,” Gantin said.

“I think wherever you look around the world Church, the living parts of the Church are those that have accepted the Magisterium of John Paul II and Benedict XVI as the authentic interpretation of Vatican II. And the dying parts of the Church, the moribund parts of the Church are those parts that have ignored that Magisterium.”

John Paul II’s influence in Africa and around the globe transformed the world. It also forever transformed the Church.

That time a priest was reprimanded by a saint

St. John Paul II, circa 1992. / L'Osservatore Romano.

Vatican City, Oct 22, 2021 / 14:28 pm (CNA).

When white smoke poured out of the chimney of the Sistine Chapel on October 16, 1978, Fr. Eamon Kelly, a seminarian studying in Rome at the time, couldn’t have known that he was witnessing the election of a future saint.

Nor did he know that more than a dozen years after that election, he would be reprimanded by that same future saint, John Paul II, during one of his Wednesday general audiences.

It was Holy Week of 1992, and Fr. Kelly, a priest with the Congregation of the Legion of Christ, was on his annual pilgrimage to Rome.

But this year was different.

His youth group had brought along eight Russian young people, the tension of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War just barely in the rearview mirror of history.

Fr. Kelly had done some strategizing to make sure the Russian youth got a good seat.

“We had our tickets and we went in early, and we did get positions up against the barrier of the corridor,” Fr. Kelly said. “So that was fantastic, we were going to see Pope John Paul II.”

His German students gave up all of the seats closest to the aisle, so that the Russian young people would get to shake the Pope’s hand as he walked through the Paul VI audience hall.

“I had the kids observe how he did it – he’d shake hands but by that he’d already moved on to talking to the next person, greeting them,” Fr. Kelly recalled.

“So I told them this pope knows Russian, and you need to greet him politely when he’s two or three people away; say some nice greeting in Russian.”

They did, and it worked: sure enough, the Pope’s ears perked up when he heard the Russian greetings. As soon as he got to the group, he stopped walking.

“He started talking to them in Russian, and there was a tremendous chemistry going on, and everybody was super excited. Our six rows of kids had assimilated into about two,” Fr. Kelly said.

Eventually the Pope asked, in Russian, how the group was able to make it to Rome. All the Russian students turned and pointed at Fr. Kelly.

He was a head taller than most of the students, so Fr. Kelly suddenly found himself in straight eye contact with John Paul II.

“There was so much joy and appreciation and gratitude in his eyes that these kids were there,” Fr. Kelly said.

“But then, his look turned like a storm with a critical question – ‘Why didn’t you tell me before they came?’” the Pope demanded of the priest.

“You know, like I could call up the Pope and tell him we’re coming,” Fr. Kelly recalled with a laugh.

“I tried to give an excuse, I said it was hanging by a thread that it was going to happen, I just fumbled my way through it. What are you going to do when the Pope is asking you for accountability?” Fr. Kelly said.

In hindsight, Fr. Kelly said he maybe could have called an office in the Vatican to alert them of the Russian students, but he didn’t realize that this visit would be so important for the Pope.

But Russia was dear to St. John Paul II’s heart, as he had played a critical role in the peaceful fall of communism and the Soviet Union. Just a few years prior, he had met for over an hour with President Mikhail Gorbachev, who later said the peaceful dissolution of the USSR would have been impossible without the Roman Pontiff.

Perhaps their meeting in 1989 had also softened Gorbachev’s heart prior to World Youth Day 1991, when the leader allowed some 20,000 Russian youth to attend the event in Poland for the first time ever. The conciliatory move was the whole reason the Russian students were now meeting John Paul II in Rome.

“He said to me, 'This is the first group of Russians I’ve ever greeted in the audience hall',” Fr. Kelly said.

It’s possible that it may have been the first youth group from Moscow to visit Rome ever, Fr. Kelly said.

“I don’t want to claim that title, because there may have been others, but it’s unlikely that anyone would have been able to come before the start of communism,” he said.

He said the Pope was visibly moved by the Russian students.

“He was happy, he was happy. He said if he would have known that they were there, he would have greeted them formally from the stage.”

And the Russian students?

“They were elated.”

This article was originally published on CNA Oct. 22, 2016.

Vatican steps in to help failing Catholic hospital in Rome

The historic Fatebenefratelli Hospital, on Rome’s Tiber Island. / Dguendel via Wikimedia (CC BY 3.0).

Vatican City, Oct 22, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

The Vatican has stepped in to help a nearly bankrupt Catholic hospital in Rome run by the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God.

The historic Fatebenefratelli Hospital, which sits on Rome’s Tiber Island, has been in dire financial straits since 2013, with hundreds of millions of euros in debt pushing it to the brink of bankruptcy.

In June, the hospital was all but sold to the San Donato Group, one of the largest private hospital groups in Italy, which had signed an agreement with the hospital’s creditors.

Now, in a statement on Oct. 21, the Vatican thanked the leadership of the San Donato Group, while saying that Church authorities had started a “recovery plan” to keep the hospital under management by the Catholic religious order.

“A recovery plan has been launched that, in compliance with the regulations in force and in dialogue with the parties involved in various ways, will allow [the hospital] to continue to play the role that has characterized it so far in the field of Catholic healthcare,” the statement from the Holy See press office said.

It added that Church authorities would collaborate with other non-profit institutions “to resolve the economic and management crisis” at the hospital, officially known as the Ospedale San Giovanni Calibita Fatebenefratelli.

The Vatican statement pointed to Pope Francis’ comments on July 11, when he gave his Angelus address from Gemelli Hospital, where he had undergone surgery a week prior.

“In the Church too it happens that at times some healthcare institution, due to poor management, does not do well economically, and the first thought that comes to mind is to sell it,” Pope Francis said.

He added: “But the vocation, in the Church, is not to have money; it is to offer service, and service is always freely given. Do not forget this: saving free institutions.”

In the Oct. 21 press release, the Vatican thanked the vice presidents and CEO of the San Donato Group for the agreed-upon intervention, “aimed at preventing a further worsening of the current crisis and finding a definitive solution.”

The Vatican did not elaborate on what the “intervention” consists of.

Earlier this month, Pope Francis created a new foundation offering financial support to Catholic hospitals.

The more than 400-year-old hospital in Rome is well known for its obstetrics ward, where an average of 3,200 births take place each year. This year, during one weekend in July, the hospital made headlines for having had a record 36 births in 30 hours.

The hospital on Tiber Island is one of a number of religious-run healthcare centers facing financial crisis in recent years.

One of the hospitals is the Istituto Dermopatico dell’Immacolata (IDI) in Rome, which has been plagued by problems for more than decade.

After years of systematic theft and fraud by hospital administrators, the structure was left with 800 million euros (around $930 million) in debt and declared bankrupt in 2012 by Italy.

In 2013, Benedict XVI appointed a Vatican commissioner to look into the hospital’s finances. In 2015, the Vatican’s Secretariat of State stepped in, arranging to purchase the hospital out of state-administered bankruptcy through a for-profit partnership with the religious order that owned and managed the hospital — an arrangement that also ended in financial scandal.

In March this year, the Vatican appointed the former commander general of Italy’s financial police force as president of the foundation overseeing the IDI.

Saverio Capolupo, 70, was named president of the board of directors of the Luigi Maria Monti Foundation.

Capolupo succeeded Fr. Giuseppe Pusceddu, superior of the Italian province of the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Conception, who had been appointed interim president of the foundation in 2020.

Pope Francis says he wants to travel to Oceania and Africa

Pope Francis pictured on April 17, 2013. / Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk.

Vatican City, Oct 22, 2021 / 11:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said in an interview published Friday that he has several international trips in mind for 2022, as he picks up pace following a slower schedule during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking to Télam, Argentina’s national news agency, Pope Francis said that he would like to visit “the Congo and Hungary” next year, though he admitted the ideas have not yet reached the planning stages.

Pope Francis made a stop of less than a day in Hungary’s capital city, Budapest, on Sept. 12, for the final Mass of the International Eucharistic Congress, before making a longer visit to Slovakia.

In March, he went to Iraq, his first international trip since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

In the Oct. 22 interview, the pope said that in 2022 he would like to make trips to Papua New Guinea and East Timor, which had been planned for late 2020 before they were canceled because of the pandemic.

For the rest of 2021, Pope Francis confirmed that a trip to Cyprus, which a local official said would take place Dec. 2-3, is still on his program.

“The first weekend in December I am going to go to Greece and Cyprus,” the pope confirmed to Télam, noting that the final agenda of the trip was still being worked out.

The Vatican has not officially announced the trip. But in an interview broadcast on Sept. 1, the pope said he hoped to visit the eastern Mediterranean island nation of Cyprus, which has a population of around 875,000 people, including approximately 10,000 Catholics.

It is rumored that the trip could also include a stop on the Greek island of Lesbos, which Pope Francis visited in April 2016, bringing back 12 refugees to Rome with him.

Close to the coast of Turkey, Lesbos is affected by the European migrant crisis, and has several large refugee camps. In 2020, fires broke out at the overcrowded Moria camp, causing many migrants to flee.

Francis had also indicated in the Sept. 1 interview with Spain’s COPE radio station that he hoped to travel to Glasgow, Scotland, for the 2021 U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP26) in early November.

But the Vatican, which had never officially confirmed the visit, indicated earlier this month that the pope will not attend.

Matteo Bruni, director of the Holy See press office, said on Oct. 8 that the Vatican’s delegation to COP26 will be led by Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

Pope Francis, who will turn 85 on Dec. 17 and underwent colon surgery in July, has visited 54 countries during the eight and a half years of his pontificate.

He visited 11 countries in 2019 before his travels were halted in 2020 due to the pandemic. His four-day trip to Iraq in March 2021 was his first international trip after a pause of 15 months.

Vatican issues decree clarifying responsibilities for translation of Latin liturgical texts

Archbishop Arthur Roche at the Vatican press office on Feb. 10, 2015. / Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

Vatican City, Oct 22, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

The Vatican issued a decree on Friday guiding bishops’ conferences on the proper protocol for the translation of liturgical texts from Latin into vernacular languages.

Published on Oct. 22, the feast of St. John Paul II, the decree, called Postquam Summus Pontifex, clarifies changes already made by Pope Francis to the process of translating liturgical texts.

The decree from the Congregation for Divine Worship builds on a motu proprio Pope Francis issued in September 2017 shifting responsibility for the revision of liturgical texts toward bishops’ conferences.

The motu proprio, Magnum Principium, modified Canon 838 of the Code of Canon Law, which addresses the authority of the Vatican and national bishops’ conferences in preparing liturgical texts in vernacular languages.

The decree implementing this change to canon law comes four years after Pope Francis’ motu proprio was first published and a few months after the appointment of Archbishop Arthur Roche as the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, succeeding Cardinal Robert Sarah.

“Fundamentally the aim is to make collaboration between the Holy See and the bishops’ conferences easier and more fruitful,” the 71-year-old English archbishop said in an interview with Vatican News.

“The great task of translation, especially translating into their own languages what we find in the liturgical books of the Roman Rite, falls to the bishops.”

Roche, who also published a commentary on the new decree, underlined that the translation of liturgical texts is “a great responsibility” because “the revealed word can be proclaimed and the prayer of the Church can be expressed in a language which the people of God can understand.”

With the 2017 motu proprio, the text of Canon 838 changed to read: “It is for the Apostolic See to order the sacred liturgy of the universal Church, publish liturgical books, recognize adaptations approved by the episcopal conference according to the norm of law, and exercise vigilance that liturgical regulations are observed faithfully everywhere.”

The text of the following paragraph added that it was the responsibility of bishops’ conferences “to approve and publish the liturgical books for the regions for which they are responsible after the confirmation of the Apostolic See.”

The new decree from the Congregation for Divine Worship presents the norms and procedures to be taken into account when publishing liturgical books.

It says that the Holy See remains responsible for reviewing the adaptations approved by bishops’ conferences and confirming the translations that are made.

“This reform of Pope Francis aims to underline the responsibility and competence of the bishops’ conferences, both in assessing and approving liturgical adaptations for the territory for which they are responsible, and in preparing and approving translations of liturgical texts,” Roche said.

“The bishops, as moderators, promoters, and custodians of liturgical life in their particular church, have a great sensitivity, due to their theological and cultural formation, which enables them to translate the texts of Revelation and the Liturgy into a language that responds to the nature of the People of God entrusted to them,” he said.

Pope Francis thanks God for ‘profound personal bond’ with Orthodox leader

Pope Francis meets with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I at the Vatican, Oct. 4, 2021. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Oct 22, 2021 / 04:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis sent a letter Friday to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I expressing gratitude for the “profound personal bond” between them.

“It is with gratitude to God that I reflect on our own profound personal bond, from the time of the inauguration of my papal ministry, when you honored me with your presence in Rome,” Pope Francis wrote in the letter on Oct. 22.

“Over time, this bond has become a fraternal friendship nurtured in many meetings not only in Rome, but also at the Phanar, in Jerusalem, Assisi, Cairo, Lesvos, Bari, and Budapest.”

Pope Francis sent the letter to the 81-year-old Orthodox leader to mark the 30th anniversary of his election as Ecumenical Patriarch.

Bartholomew I has served as the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople -- considered the “first among equals” in the Eastern Orthodox Church -- since 1991.

The pope reflected on their shared dedication to working to safeguard creation, confronting the social repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, and fostering unity between Christians.

“I sincerely thank you for ceaselessly indicating the way of dialogue, in charity and in truth, as the only possible way for reconciliation between believers in Christ and for the reestablishment of their full communion,” Pope Francis said.

“With God’s help, this is the path along which we will most certainly continue to walk together, for the closeness and solidarity between our Churches are an indispensable contribution to universal brotherhood and social justice, of which humanity is so urgently in need.”

Pope Francis, Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Leronymos look at the sea from Lesbos on April 16, 2016. .  L'Osservatore Romano.
Pope Francis, Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Leronymos look at the sea from Lesbos on April 16, 2016. . L'Osservatore Romano.

Bartholomew was recently in Rome, joining Pope Francis at an interreligious prayer gathering for peace in front of the Colosseum and signing a joint appeal at the Vatican asking countries to “achieve net-zero carbon emissions as soon as possible.”

The Orthodox leader was also present in Budapest for the International Eucharistic Congress in September, including the closing Mass offered by Pope Francis.

The two leaders could soon meet again. Unconfirmed reports have indicated that Pope Francis may visit Greece, including a stop at the Greek island of Lesbos (also known as Lesvos), before the end of 2021.

The pope made his previous visit to Lesbos in 2016, in partnership with the Orthodox patriarch, to draw attention to the plight of migrants on the island.

“On the joyful occasion of the 30th anniversary of your election as Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch, I express my fervent best wishes: Χρόνια πολλά! Ad multos annos,” Pope Francis wrote.

“I join you in thanksgiving to the Lord for the many blessings bestowed upon your life and ministry over these years, and pray that God, from whom all gifts come, will grant you health, spiritual joy and abundant grace to sustain every aspect of your lofty service.”

Pope Francis asks Catholics to be ‘more courageous’ in tackling crisis exposed by COVID-19

Pope Francis’ general audience in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Oct. 20, 2021. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Oct 22, 2021 / 03:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis urged Catholics on Thursday to be “more courageous” in tackling the crisis exposed by COVID-19.

In a message to participants in the 49th Social Week of Italian Catholics issued on Oct. 21, the pope underlined the importance of face-to-face meetings as the world struggles to emerge from the pandemic.

“This is all the more necessary in the context of the crisis generated by COVID, a crisis that is both health-related and social,” he wrote.

“In order to emerge from this crisis, Italian Catholics too must be more courageous. We cannot resign ourselves and sit back and watch, we cannot remain indifferent or apathetic without taking responsibility for others and for society. We are called to be the yeast that leavens the dough.”

The pope’s message — dated Oct. 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi — was addressed to Catholics gathering in Taranto, southern Italy, for an Oct. 21-24 meeting with the theme “The planet we hope for: Environment, work, future. Everything is connected.”

“The pandemic has shattered the illusion of our time that we can consider ourselves omnipotent, trampling on the land we inhabit and the environment we live in,” he said.

“To get back on our feet, we must convert to God and learn to make good use of his gifts, first and foremost creation. Let us not lack the courage for ecological conversion, but above all let us not lack the ardor of community conversion.”

The pope offered participants what he called three “road signs” as they walked “boldly along the road to hope.” He named them as “mindfulness of people at crossings,” “no parking,” and “the obligation to turn.”

Addressing the first sign, he said: “We encounter too many people who pass through our existences in conditions of despair: young people forced to leave their countries of origin to emigrate elsewhere, unemployed or exploited in an endless precariousness; women who have lost their jobs in the pandemic or who are forced to choose between motherhood or their profession; workers left at home without opportunities; poor people and migrants who are not welcomed and not integrated; elderly people abandoned to their loneliness; families who are victims of usury, gambling, and corruption; businesspeople in difficulty and subject to the abuse of the mafia; communities destroyed by fires…”

“But there are also so many sick people, adults and children, workers forced to do arduous or immoral work, often in conditions of precarious safety.”

“These are faces and stories that challenge us: we cannot remain indifferent. These brothers and sisters of ours are crucified and awaiting resurrection. May the imagination of the Spirit help us leave no stone unturned to ensure that their legitimate hopes are realized.”

Explaining the second sign, “no parking,” he said: “When we see dioceses, parishes, communities, associations, movements, ecclesial groups that are tired and discouraged, sometimes resigned in the face of complex situations, we see a Gospel that tends to fade away.”

“On the contrary, God’s love is never static or renunciatory, ‘love believes all things, hopes all things’ (1 Corinthians 13:7): it drives us on and forbids us to stop.”

He went on: “Let us not stay in sacristies, let us not form elitist groups that isolate themselves and close themselves off. Hope is always on the move and also passes through Christian communities, daughters of the resurrection, who go out, announce, share, endure and fight to build the Kingdom of God.”

“How wonderful it would be if, in the areas most marked by pollution and degradation, Christians did not limit themselves to denouncing, but took on the responsibility of creating networks of redemption.”

Referring to his 2015 encyclical Laudato si’, he emphasized that half measures would “simply delay the inevitable disaster.”

Turning to the final sign, “the obligation to turn,” he said that the world’s poor and the Earth itself were crying out for change.

He quoted the Italian Bishop Antonio Bello (1935-1993), who he described as “a prophet in the land of Puglia,” the region at the southeastern tip of the Italian Peninsula.

He recalled that Bello often repeated that “We cannot limit ourselves to hope. We must organize hope!”

“A profound conversion awaits us, which touches the human ecology, the ecology of the heart, even before environmental ecology,” the pope commented.

“The turning point will only come if we know how to train consciences not to look for easy solutions to protect those who are already secure, but to propose lasting processes of change for the benefit of the younger generations.”

“Such a conversion, aimed at a social ecology, can nourish this time that has been called one ‘of ecological transition,’ where the choices to be made cannot only be the result of new technological discoveries, but also of renewed social models.”

He added: “The epochal change we are going through demands a turning point. Let us look, in this sense, to many signs of hope, to many people whom I wish to thank because, often in industrious obscurity, they are working to promote a different economic model that is fairer and more attentive to people.”

The pope also sent a short video message encouraging young people taking part in the four-day event.

He said: “You are the present, you are the planet’s today, never feel on the margins of projects or reflections. Your dreams must be the dreams of all, and you have much to teach us about the environment.”