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Pope Francis calls for a Christian economy based on community

Pope Francis meets members of the Global Solidarity Fund in a room adjacent to the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, May 25, 2022. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, May 25, 2022 / 06:40 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Wednesday called for the creation of a “new kind” of economy based on Christian values and community, not communism or the Enlightenment.

Speaking to members of the Global Solidarity Fund at the Vatican on May 25, the pope urged the creation of an economy in support of the people.

“Look also for a new kind of economy,” he said. “The economy must be converted, it must be converted now. We have to convert from the liberal economy to the economy shared by people, the community economy.”

In off-the-cuff comments, Francis said: “We cannot live with a pattern of economics that comes from liberals and the Enlightenment. Nor can we live with a pattern of economics that comes from communism. We need ... a Christian economy, let’s say. Look for the new expressions of the economy of this time.”

In this area, the pope praised the progress of young economists, especially women, naming the Italian-American economist Mariana Mazzucato.

The Global Solidarity Fund is a network helping to connect development groups, philanthropists, and investors with marginalized people around the world, including migrants.

Pope Francis said he liked it when people went to the peripheries to help others, “simply because Jesus went to the peripheries: He went there to show them the Gospel.”

“The peripheries, be they of the body, be they of the soul; because there are people who are somewhat well off but their souls are broken, torn: go with them too; [there are] so many people who need closeness,” he said.

In brief written remarks, which the pope handed out at the meeting, he focused on the concept of “solidarity.”

“It is one of the core values of the Church’s social doctrine,” he said. “But to become concrete it must be accompanied with closeness and compassion toward the other, the marginalized person, toward the face of the poor, the migrant.”

The Vatican finance trial is shedding light on the Secretariat of State

A hearing in the Vatican finance trial on May 20, 2022. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, May 25, 2022 / 05:20 am (CNA).

With 10 defendants, the Vatican finance trial might be better handled as three different trials. Yet there is a common thread: the role of the Secretariat of State, the Vatican’s most powerful dicastery.

The trial’s three latest hearings took place last week. On May 18-19, Cardinal Angelo Becciu answered questions from the Vatican’s promoter of justice (prosecutor), civil parties, and other lawyers.

During the lengthy interrogation, in which moments of tension were not lacking, Becciu underlined at one point that he “strongly doubts that the [Vatican’s] auditor general could have known the accounts of the [Secretariat of State’s] office.”

It is worth remembering that the trial’s origins lie in a report by the auditor general, who is responsible for financial audits of Vatican entities.

Becciu argued that the auditor could not have known the situation in detail because “the Secretariat of State was completely autonomous from a financial point of view.”

“To violate its autonomy, a specific mandate from the pope was needed,” Becciu said, “but that never happened. Indeed, in 2016, there was a rescript delivered to us by Cardinal Parolin which reaffirmed this autonomy.”

The year 2016 was a critical one. There were growing tensions between the Secretariat of State and the Secretariat for the Economy, then led by Cardinal George Pell. A major flashpoint was the economy secretariat’s decision to enter into an auditing contract with PricewaterhouseCoopers, which allowed the company also to audit the Secretariat of State’s accounts.

The Secretariat of State is a governing body that enjoyed special financial autonomy and, above all, confidentiality in its financial statements. Therefore, tensions were very high until the Holy See renegotiated the terms of the auditing contract.

Later in 2016, Pope Francis issued the motu proprioI beni temporali” (“The temporal goods”). It sought to better separate supervisory and administrative functions within the Vatican, removing some of the Secretariat for the Economy’s responsibilities and returning them to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA).

“The Secretariat of State was a dicastery, but a sui generis [unique] dicastery,” Becciu explained. “The norms originated from it; therefore, it could not undergo the norms.”

Pope Francis effectively put an end to this peculiarity of the Secretariat of State in 2020, when he decided to transfer responsibility for the administration of funds and investments from the Secretariat of State to APSA. This move arguably weakened the governing body.

But the governing body also had a specific role in helping the Roman Curia. During previous interrogations, Becciu emphasized that the annual Peter’s Pence collection brought in around 50 million euros (about $54 million). But the Holy See’s deficit was higher. It was therefore necessary, he suggested, to make investments to give the Holy See greater liquidity.

The investments were overseen by the Secretariat of State’s administrative office, which had established a complex financial architecture over the years, using various current accounts, including some located abroad, and always seeking out investments of a particular type.

This was also the case for the investment in a luxury London property, at the center of the trial, which Becciu said was overseen by the administrative office. “If there were critical issues and [his deputy Monsignor Alberto] Perlasca did not tell me, he was guilty of a grave fault,” Becciu said.

Peter’s Pence was not the only source of funds used to fill holes in the Vatican budget. The Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), commonly known as the “Vatican bank,” makes an annual donation to the Holy See. For several years, the IOR’s check had been for 50 million euros, mainly intended to “cover the expenses of Vatican Radio and the nunciatures.”

But in 2012, when the IOR’s assets were 86.6 million euros (around $93 million), the contributions began to decline in line with a drop in profits, finally settling at around 30 million euros ($32 million).

The Secretariat of State, as the central body of the Holy See, was called on not only to manage itself economically and make investments, but also to help the Holy See survive financially. Yet, as later events showed, it was not equipped for this demanding task.

Tirabassi, an official who worked for more than 30 years in the Secretariat of State, shed further light on the dicastery’s workings when he was interrogated on May 20.

He also emphasized that the Secretariat of State had a budget separate from those of other dicasteries. But only in recent times was that budget discussed with the Secretariat for the Economy. The Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, which operated from 1967 to 2016, mainly had a budgetary control function.

Tirabassi explained that when he arrived at the Secretariat of State, there was an Obolo Fund — Peter’s Pence is known in Italian as the “Obolo di San Pietro” — with an office in the dicastery dedicated to collecting donations.

The donations were managed by opening dedicated accounts in various banks and correspondent institutions (such as the IOR, APSA, Credito Artigiano, and Poste Italiana.) Within the IOR alone, “there were about 70 to 80 accounts outstanding.”

In the mid-1990s, this arrangement gave way to a more streamlined management of Vatican finances.

In light of the increasingly complicated requirements for financial transparency, managing all the accounts became too demanding. Thus, it was decided to make the resources converge in a single fund called the “Obolo Fund.” The Vatican’s promoter of justice described it as a “current account plan.”

“The Holy See was in difficulty,” recalled Tirabassi. “Moreover, the debt cost the Secretariat of State a lot. New accounting management was then suggested, dematerializing the existing accounts and enhancing the liquidity obtained from active assets.”

A new investment policy arose, increasingly focused on real estate assets, particularly acquiring buildings to house nunciatures, which are one of the highest costs.

The term “Obolo,” therefore, does not refer exclusively to Peter’s Pence, which the Secretariat of State has not managed for some time. In this instance, it refers to the fund managed by the Secretariat of State, which retained the name “Obolo” though it concerns the dicastery’s resources.

Becciu has repeatedly asserted that the Secretariat of State only used “its assets” for investments in the London property, rejecting suggestions that the annual sums raised by the Peter’s Pence collection were used.

Yet, even if the Peter’s Pence collections had been used, it would not have been illegal. The Obolo di San Pietro, an ancient institution, has been seen as a means of supporting the Holy See since at least the 19th century. Its primary purpose, therefore, is to support the institution, while also helping the poor.

Could it be possible that, in the incident that triggered the finance trial, the auditor general misunderstood the Vatican’s structures and their raison d’être? If that were the case, the whole process would have to be rethought.

Misunderstandings have been constant in these years of economic reform. A purely financial view tends to overlook the distinctive history and structures of the Holy See, which contain a series of checks and balances settled over time.

The Holy See has always tried to adhere to global standards without betraying its specificities. The risk now is that the Holy See is simply borrowing international norms without creating its own jurisprudence. If that is the case, then whatever the outcome of the trial, the Holy See will be institutionally weakened.

Pope Francis: ‘Ours is the age of fake news, collective superstitions, and pseudo-scientific truths’

Pope Francis’ general audience in St. Peter’s Square, May 25, 2022. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, May 25, 2022 / 04:35 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said on Wednesday that Catholics today are living in an “age of fake news, collective superstitions, and pseudo-scientific truths.”

Reflecting on the Book of Ecclesiastes at his general audience on May 25, the pope suggested that the 21st century was marked not only by scientific knowledge but also what he called a “cultured witchcraft.”

“It is no coincidence that ours is the age of fake news, collective superstitions, and pseudo-scientific truths,” he said.

Speaking off the cuff, he went on: “It’s curious: in this culture of knowledge, of knowing everything, even of the precision of knowledge, a lot of witchcraft has spread, but cultured witchcraft.”

“It is witchcraft with a certain culture but that leads you to a life of superstition: on the one hand, to go forward with intelligence in knowing things down to the roots; on the other hand, the soul that needs something else and takes the path of superstitions, and ends up in witchcraft.”

The pope used the Italian word “stregoneria,” which can be translated as “witchcraft,” “sorcery,” or “black magic.”

Pope Francis’ general audience in St. Peter’s Square, May 25, 2022. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.
Pope Francis’ general audience in St. Peter’s Square, May 25, 2022. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

The pope’s live-streamed catechesis was the 11th in a cycle on old age that he began in February. He entered St. Peter’s Square in a white jeep, stopping to invite children in brightly colored clothes to join him for part of his journey among the pilgrims.

The jeep drove up to a raised platform in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, where the 85-year-old was helped to exit the vehicle and walk up to the white chair where he gave his address. The pope, who has made public appearances in a wheelchair since May 5 due to knee pain, used a walking stick.

In his reflection, Pope Francis focused on the famous refrain in Ecclesiastes — also known as the Book of Qoheleth — that “everything is vanity.”

“It is surprising to find in Holy Scripture these expressions that question the meaning of existence,” he said. “In reality, Qoheleth’s continuous vacillation between sense and non-sense is the ironic representation of an awareness of life that is detached from the passion for justice, of which God’s judgment is the guarantor.”

“And the book’s conclusion points the way out of the trial: ‘Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man’ (12:13). This is the advice to resolve this problem.”

Pope Francis said that old age brought the challenge of “disenchantment,” which had to be resisted because of its “demoralizing effects.”

“If the elderly, who have seen it all by that time, keep intact their passion for justice, then there is hope for love, and also for faith,” he said.

“And for the contemporary world, the passage through this crisis, a healthy crisis, has become crucial. Why? Because a culture that presumes to measure everything and manipulate everything also ends up producing a collective demoralization of meaning, a demoralization of love, a demoralization of goodness.”

The pope said that collective demoralization sapped humanity’s will to act.

“In this form — cloaked in the trappings of science, but also very insensitive and very amoral — the modern quest for truth has been tempted to take leave of its passion for justice altogether. It no longer believes in its destiny, its promise, its redemption,” he commented.

“For our modern culture, which would like, in practice, to consign everything to the exact knowledge of things, the appearance of this new cynical reason — that combines knowledge and irresponsibility — is a harsh repercussion.”

“Indeed, the knowledge that exempts us from morality seems at first to be a source of freedom, of energy, but soon turns into a paralysis of the soul.”

Pope Francis said that the Book of Ecclesiastes captured this dynamic, in which “an omnipotence of knowledge” leads to “an impotence of the will.”

He noted that the early Church described this condition as “acedia,” which he said was not simply laziness or depression, but “the surrender to knowledge of the world devoid of any passion for justice and consequent action.”

He said: “The emptiness of meaning and lack of strength opened up by this knowledge, which rejects any ethical responsibility and any affection for the real good, is not harmless.”

“It not only takes away the strength for the desire for the good: by counterreaction, it opens the door to the aggressiveness of the forces of evil.”

“These are the forces of reason gone mad, made cynical by an excess of ideology.”

The pope noted that “weariness” was a hallmark of contemporary society.

“We were supposed to have produced widespread well-being and we tolerate a market that is scientifically selective with regard to health,” he said.

“We were supposed to have put an insuperable threshold for peace, and we see more and more ruthless wars against defenseless people.”

“Science advances, of course, and that is good. But the wisdom of life is something else entirely, and it seems to be stalled.”

Concluding his address, Pope Francis urged the elderly to help combat demoralization.

“They will be the ones to sow the hunger and thirst for justice in the young,” he said.

“Take courage, all of us older people! Take courage and go forward! We have a very great mission in the world.”

“But, please, we must not seek refuge in this somewhat non-concrete, unreal, rootless idealism — let us speak clearly — in the witchcraft of life.”

A summary of the pope’s catechesis was then read out in seven languages.

Addressing English-speaking Catholics, he said: “I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, especially those from Nigeria, Lebanon, and the United States of America.”

“In the joy of the Risen Christ, I invoke upon you and your families the loving mercy of God our Father. May the Lord bless you!”

In his closing remarks, Pope Francis lamented a school shooting in Texas.

A gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, southwest Texas, on May 24, killing at least 19 children and two adults.

The pope said: “My heart is broken for the massacre at the elementary school in Texas. I am praying for the children and the adults killed and their families.”

“It is time to say enough to the indiscriminate trafficking of weapons. Let us all work hard so that such tragedies can never happen again.”

His words were greeted with applause by pilgrims.

Pope Francis: ‘My heart is broken’ over Texas elementary school shooting

Pope Francis prays with journalists on the papal flight en route to South Korea on Aug. 14, 2014. / Alan Holdren/CNA.

Vatican City, May 25, 2022 / 03:08 am (CNA).

Pope Francis said on Wednesday that his heart was broken by the killing of at least 19 children and two adults at an elementary school in Texas.

Speaking at the end of his general audience in St. Peter’s Square on May 25, he said: “My heart is broken for the massacre at the elementary school in Texas. I am praying for the children and the adults killed and their families.”

“It is time to say enough to the indiscriminate trafficking of weapons. Let us all work hard so that such tragedies can never happen again.”

His words were greeted with applause by pilgrims.

The pope was speaking after a gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, southwest Texas, on May 24, killing 21 people.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott said that officers were believed to have killed the shooter, a local 18-year-old identified as Salvador Ramos.

U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Joe Donnelly said on May 25: "We are witnessing a sickness, and the face of evil. We continue to pray for these blessed children and other wonderful people who were killed and their families. We are crushed by this loss."

Ambassador Chiara Porro, the Australian ambassador to the Holy See, responded: "Australia grieves with you. Our heartfelt condolences to all those affected by the horrific shootings."

”The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said on May 24 that the country was facing an “epidemic of evil and violence.”

“There have been too many school shootings, too much killing of the innocent,” said the USCCB’s public affairs director Chieko Noguchi in a statement.

“Our Catholic faith calls us to pray for those who have died and to bind the wounds of others, and we join our prayers along with the community in Uvalde and Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller.”

“As we do so, each of us also needs to search our souls for ways that we can do more to understand this epidemic of evil and violence and implore our elected officials to help us take action.”

Hours before the general audience, Archbishop Garcia-Siller appealed to Pope Francis to pray for the victims of the shooting in his San Antonio archdiocese.

He tweeted: “Holy Father Pope Francis, say some prayers for the souls of our little ones killed today and two teachers. Uvalde is in mourning. The families are having a very dark time. Your prayer will do good to them.”

He added in Spanish: “Gracias por ayudarnos. Queremos ser como Jesús. Cuente con nuestra oración” (“Thank you for helping us. We want to be like Jesus. Count on our prayers”).

‘Bicycling cardinal’ is new leader of Italy’s Catholic bishops’ conference

Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, Archbishop of Bologna, Italy, in St. Peter's Basilica on Oct. 5, 2019. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA

Vatican City, May 24, 2022 / 07:37 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has chosen Cardinal Matteo Zuppi as the next president of the Italian bishops’ conference following a vote on Tuesday.

Zuppi, 66, has a reputation as the “bicycling cardinal” for his propensity to cycle around the northern Italian city of Bologna, which he has led as archbishop since 2015.

He also has strong ties to the influential Sant’Egidio Community.

The cardinal was chosen to lead the Episcopal Conference of Italy (CEI) during the group’s 76th general assembly, taking place in Rome on May 23-27.

Pope Francis had previously asked the Italian bishops to adopt a new statute that would allow them to elect the president themselves, but the bishops preferred to leave the choice to the pope, who as Bishop of Rome is also the Primate of Italy.

Under a compromise arrangement, the bishops presented a list of the three candidates with the most votes to the pope, who could then choose between the three or opt for a different candidate.

Zuppi succeeds 80-year-old Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, who led the bishops’ conference for a five-year term beginning in 2017.

Pope Francis made Zuppi a cardinal in 2019. For years, the Rome native has been listed among the “papabili” — possible future popes — but has made light of the speculation.

Before being transferred to Bologna, Zuppi was an auxiliary bishop of Rome for three years. He was responsible for the city’s historic center area, which includes the Trastevere neighborhood, where the headquarters of the Sant’Egidio Community is located.

Sant’Egidio is a Catholic lay association that aids migrants and promotes ecumenism. It has also helped negotiate reconciliation, including by holding peace talks in countries like Mozambique and South Sudan.

Pope Francis names Arkansas priest to lead Diocese of St. Augustine

Bishop-elect Erik Pohlmeier. / Courtesy of the Diocese of St. Augustine.

Vatican City, May 24, 2022 / 05:15 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Tuesday appointed Arkansas priest Father Erik Pohlmeier as the next bishop of the Diocese of St. Augustine, Florida.

Bishop-elect Pohlmeier, 50, will succeed Bishop Felipe J. Estévez, 76, whose retirement was accepted by Pope Francis on May 24.

Pohlmeier’s consecration as bishop and installation in the diocese will take place on July 22.

“I am grateful for every way I have been called to serve the Church and am humbled by this opportunity to serve in the place where Mass was first celebrated in the United States. May God be praised for any good work I am able to do,” Pohlmeier said in a statement on May 24.

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor of Little Rock said that Pohlmeier “is one of the most capable, beloved, and admired priests of the Diocese of Little Rock, and he will be sorely missed.”

Taylor noted that Pohlmeier “is fluent in Spanish and brings to the Diocese of St. Augustine a personal experience of the full spectrum of Catholic life acquired over the course of 24 years of priestly ministry in every apostolate imaginable: urban, rural, and suburban, in which he has served people of every ethnicity, income level, and culture, both in parish life and in diocesan apostolates, most recently as the director of faith formation.”

“We are all one Church, so while we in Arkansas are proud of Bishop-elect Pohlmeier and sending him to Florida will be a great sacrifice for us, we rejoice in the good fortune of the Diocese of St. Augustine and know that the Lord must love them very much to give them such a fine man to be their next bishop,” he said.

The Diocese of St. Augustine covers 17 counties in Northeast and North Central Florida, and serves more than 153,000 Catholics.

Pohlmeier is currently pastor of Little Rock’s largest Catholic parish, Christ the King, and has served as director of the office of faith formation and office of deacon formation since 2016.

He was born in Colorado Springs on July 20, 1971, but grew up in Paris, Arkansas, with three brothers and one sister.

He entered seminary in 1992, after graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Arkansas in 1991.

The bishop-elect studied undergraduate theology at Rome’s Gregorian University. He also received a master’s in spiritual theology from the University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum) in Rome while attending the North American College seminary.

In 1998, he was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Little Rock, which encompasses all of Arkansas.

Since 2003, he has been a theological consultant for the Arkansas Catholic newspaper.

From 2007 to 2016, Pohlmeier was on the national board of directors of Couple to Couple League, a non-profit organization that provides instruction in fertility awareness and Natural Family Planning.

The bishop-elect has been director of continuing education for clergy since 2019.

Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Bishop Felipe Estévez of Diocese of Saint Augustine; Appoints Rev. Erik Pohlmeier as Successor

WASHINGTON - Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Felipe J. Estévez, 76, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Saint Augustine, and has appointed Reverend Erik T. Pohlmeier, as Bishop-elect of Saint Augustine. Bishop-elect Pohlmeier is a priest of the Diocese of Little Rock, and currently serves as pastor at Christ the King parish in Little Rock, and as director of the diocese’s continuing education for clergy, the permanent diaconate formation program, and the office of faith formation. The resignation and appointment were publicized in Washington, D.C. on May 24, 2022, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Father Pohlmeier was born July 20, 1971, in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He studied at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville (1989-1991) and received a Bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology in Indiana (1994); and at the Pontifical North American College and received Bachelor of Sacred Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome (1995-1997). He received a Master’s degree in spirituality from the Saint Thomas Aquinas Pontifical University (Angelicum) in Rome. He was ordained to the priesthood on July 25, 1998.

Bishop-elect Pohlmeier’s assignments after ordination include: associate pastor at Christ the King parish in Little Rock (1998-2001); pastor at Our Lady of the Lake parish in Lake Village, St. Mary Church mission in McGehee, and Holy Child of Jesus parish in Dumas (2001-2005); pastor at Holy Spirit parish in Hamburg (2004-2005); pastor at Church of Saint John the Baptist parish in Hot Springs (2005-2010); pastor at Our Lady of the Holy Souls parish in Little Rock (2010-2016). Father Pohlmeier’s ministry also includes serving at the diocesan level as director of the permanent diaconate formation program (since 2015), director of the diocese’s office of faith formation (since 2016), and director of continuing education of the clergy (since 2019). Since 2020, he has also served as pastor at Christ the King parish in Little Rock.

Bishop-elect Pohlmeier has also served as a member of the Diocese of Little Rock’s presbyteral council (2003-2006, 2011-2014, and 2021-present); the clergy personnel board (2011-2014, and 2020-present); college of consultors (2014-2019); and the clergy welfare advisory board (2015-2017, and 2019-present).

The Diocese of Saint Augustine is comprised of 11,032 square miles in the state of Florida and has a total population of 2,277,463 of which 163,525 are Catholic.


Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi

Pope Francis thanks Italian volunteers for helping Ukrainian refugees fleeing ‘absurd war’

Pope Francis meets members of Italy’s Civil Protection service in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall on May 23, 2022. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, May 23, 2022 / 09:05 am (CNA).

Pope Francis thanked Italy’s civil protection volunteers on Monday for helping refugees fleeing the “absurd war” in Ukraine.

In a speech on May 23, the pope commended the volunteers for helping the vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic and supporting a nationwide vaccination campaign.

“Equally there has been no lack of your commitment to humanitarian assistance and the reception in Italy of refugees from Ukraine, especially women and children who have fled this absurd war,” said the pope, who has made public appearances in a wheelchair since May 5.

“Thank you for what you have done and continue to do in silence. Good does not make noise but builds the world.”

Italy’s civil protection volunteers work under the guidance of the country’s Civil Protection Department, which is responsible for the prevention and management of emergency events. The volunteers belong to more than 5,000 organizations across the country.

Later in his address, the 85-year-old pontiff recalled Pope Paul VI’s famous appeal — “never again war” — during his 1965 address to the United Nations.

“Let us repeat it today in the face of what is happening in Ukraine, and protect people’s dream of peace, peoples’ sacred right to peace,” Pope Francis said.

He was speaking on the day that the United Nations announced that, for the first time on record, more than 100 million people worldwide have been forced to flee their homes by conflict.

Over 6.5 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion on Feb. 24. Almost 120,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Italy as of May 21, according to the country’s interior ministry.

On May 22, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said he hoped that negotiations to end the war between the predominantly Orthodox Christian countries of Russia and Ukraine would start as soon as possible.

Celebrating the feast of St. Rita in Cascia, central Italy, he said: “In this land of faith and peace, here in Umbria, I hope that negotiations will begin as soon as possible and that we can finally reach the much-needed peace.”

Describing St. Rita as the “saint of the impossible and the advocate of desperate cases,” he asked for her intercession for an end to the conflict, reported Vatican News, the Holy See’s online news portal.

The U.N. human rights office said that it had recorded 8,462 civilian casualties in Ukraine as of May 22, with 3,930 people killed and 4,532 injured. But it added that the actual toll was likely to be “considerably higher.”

Detroit’s new auxiliary is an archbishop and veteran Vatican diplomat

Archbishop Paul Fitzpatrick Russell. / Courtesy of

Vatican City, May 23, 2022 / 05:22 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Monday named an archbishop who served as an apostolic nuncio in Central Asia as an auxiliary bishop of the Detroit archdiocese.

The Holy See press office said on May 23 that Archbishop Paul Fitzpatrick Russell, the former apostolic nuncio to Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan, would retain the personal title of archbishop of Novi in his new post.

Archbishop Allen Vigneron, who has led the Archdiocese of Detroit since 2009, said: “We are deeply grateful to Pope Francis for appointing Archbishop Russell as auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Detroit, and we are similarly grateful to Archbishop Russell for accepting this new ministry.”

“We are particularly glad to welcome Archbishop Russell home to Michigan, where he grew up and first heard the Lord call him to the priestly vocation. Having served the Church all over the world, Archbishop Russell brings to the Archdiocese of Detroit a valuable perspective of the universal Church and our mission to make joyful missionary disciples of all nations.”

Paul Fitzpatrick Russell was born on May 2, 1959, in Greenfield, Massachusetts, but spent much of his childhood in northern Michigan.

He studied at Saint John’s Seminary in Boston and gained a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University.

He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston on June 20, 1987.

He entered the Vatican diplomatic service in 1997, serving in the Section for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, as well as in Ethiopia, Turkey, Switzerland, and Nigeria, and as head of the diplomatic mission to Taiwan.

On March 19, 2016, Pope Francis appointed him titular archbishop of Novi and apostolic nuncio to Turkey and Turkmenistan.

Cardinal Seán O’Malley ordained Russell to the episcopate at the Cathedral of the Holy Name in Boston on June 3, 2016. Archbishop Vigneron was a co-consecrator.

Russell, who speaks English, French, Italian, Spanish, and German, was also appointed apostolic nuncio to Azerbaijan on April 7, 2018.

According to the website, he resigned as nuncio to Turkey on Oct. 22, 2021, and as nuncio to Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan on Feb. 2 this year.

Russell is related to Blessed Michał Piaszczyński, a Polish priest who died in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1940 and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1999.

The Detroit Catholic reported that Russell will become the 31st auxiliary bishop in the archdiocese’s history. He will serve alongside four other auxiliaries: Bishop Donald Hanchon, Bishop Arturo Cepeda, Bishop Gerard Battersby, and Bishop Robert Fisher.

On Oct. 9, Hanchon will turn 75, the age at which bishops must present their resignations to the pope.

The Detroit archdiocese serves 1.1 million self-identifying Catholics via 215 parishes in Michigan’s Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, St. Clair and Lapeer counties.

Russell will be formally welcomed to the archdiocese on July 7 during a liturgy at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit.

The 63-year-old archbishop said: “I am so happy with Pope Francis’ decision to send me home and look forward to serving as an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Detroit and immersing myself in the mission and ministry of the local Church in southeast Michigan.”

Pope Francis Names Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit

WASHINGTON - Pope Francis has appointed the Most Reverend Paul F. Russell as auxiliary bishop of Detroit. He is the titular archbishop of Novi. The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on May 23, 2022, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

The Archdiocese of Detroit is comprised of 3,901 square miles in the State of Michigan and has a total population of 4,278,248, of which 1,131,660 are Catholic.


Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi