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Pope Francis entrusts those who are suffering to the Virgin Mary

Vatican City, Aug 15, 2018 / 07:53 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On the Feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, Pope Francis entrusted any person who is suffering, in mind or body, to the care of the Mother of God.

Invoking “Mary, Consoler of the afflicted,” the pope entrusted to her “the anguish and torment of those who, in so many parts of the world, suffer in body and spirit.”

“Receive our heavenly Mother for all comfort, courage and serenity,” he said Aug. 15.

Speaking after the recitation of the Angelus for the feast day, he said he was thinking, in particular, of the victims of a bridge collapse in Genoa, Italy, Tuesday, and led those present in praying a ‘Hail Mary’ together.

As of Wednesday afternoon, at least 16 people were injured and 39 confirmed dead, with more missing, after a bridge making up a part of one of Italy’s major highways collapsed in a storm Aug. 14.

According to CNN, Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced Aug. 14 that “structural failure” is the working theory for the cause of the collapse.

“While I entrust the people who have lost their lives to the mercy of God, I express my spiritual closeness to their families, the wounded, the displaced and all those who suffer because of this tragic event,” the pope said.

Before the Angelus, Francis reflected on Mary’s life, noting that she lived even ordinary activities in unity with her son, Jesus Christ.

“The life of the Madonna took place like that of a common woman of her time: she prayed, ran the family and the house, attended synagogue... But every daily action was carried out by her always in total union with Jesus,” he said.

He said her union with Jesus reached its pinnacle on Calvary: “in love, in compassion, and in the suffering of the heart” and for this reason, “God has given her a full participation also in the resurrection of Jesus.”

“Today the Church invites us to contemplate this mystery: it shows us that God wants to save the whole man, soul and body,” he said.

Quoting St. Irenaeus, who said, “the glory of God is the living man, and the life of man is the vision of God,” Francis noted that, one day, at the resurrection of the dead, the bodies of those who have died will be reunited with their souls, as was Mary’s.

“If we have lived this way, in the joyous service of God, which is expressed also in generous service to [our] brothers, our destiny, on the day of the resurrection, will be similar to that of our heavenly Mother,” he said.

The “resurrection of the flesh,” as it is sometimes called, which will happen at Christ’s second coming, is “a cornerstone of our faith,” Francis explained.

“The wonderful reality of the Assumption of Mary manifests and confirms the unity of the human person and reminds us that we are called to serve and glorify God with all our being, soul and body,” he said.

Pope names long-time Vatican diplomat as deputy of Secretariat of State

Vatican City, Aug 15, 2018 / 04:21 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis Wednesday named Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra, a member of the Vatican diplomatic corps for over 25 years, the ‘sostituto,’ or ‘substitute,’ of the Secretariat of State.

Apostolic nuncio to Mozambique since 2015, Pena will start in the position of substitute Oct. 15, according to a Vatican statement Aug. 15.

Pena, 58, began diplomatic service to the Holy See on April 1, 1993, and has served in Kenya, Yugoslavia, the United Nations Office in Geneva, and in apostolic nunciatures in South Africa, Honduras, and Mexico. He was nuncio to Pakistan from 2001 to 2014.

Born in Maracaibo, Venezuela, he was ordained a priest in 1985, and made a bishop in 2011. He studied canon law and speaks Spanish, Italian, English, French, Portuguese and Serbo-Croatian.

Pena takes over the position from Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, who resigned June 29 in anticipation of beginning his assignment as prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints later this summer.

Becciu, 70, who was elevated to the cardinalate June 28, served in the Secretariat of State, under both Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, beginning in 2011. He will start at the congregation for saints Aug. 31.

It is yet unknown if Pena will join Pope Francis as part of the papal entourage on his trip to Dublin Aug. 25-26.

The Secretariat of State is the central governing office of the Catholic Church and the department of the Roman Curia which works most closely with the pope.

Since the publication of Pastor Bonus, Pope John Paul II's 1988 apostolic constitution which introduced a reform of the Roman Curia, the Secretariat of State has been divided into two sections: the Section for General Affairs and the Section for Relations with States.

The substitute, who must be a bishop, acts as head of the Section for General Affairs, which is responsible for the everyday affairs and service of the pope, including overseeing the facilitation of appointments within the Roman Curia, the duties and activity of representatives of the Holy See, and the concerns of embassies accredited to the Holy See.

Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher is the secretary for Relations with States, often described as the Vatican’s “foreign minister.”

As of November 2017, Pope Francis established a third section of the Secretariat, specifically to oversee the Vatican’s diplomatic corps, stationed around the world.

Archbishop Jan Romeo Pawlowski is at the helm of the third section, called the “Section for Diplomatic Staff.” Previously apostolic nuncio to Gabon, in 2015 Pawlowski was appointed head of the Office for Pontifical Representations, a sort of human resources office within the Secretariat of State.

First Reading: Revelation 11:19; 12:1-6, 10

19 Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.
1 And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars;
2 she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery.
3 And another portent appeared in heaven; behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads.
4 His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth;
5 she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne,
6 and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which to be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, "Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 45:10-12, 16

9 daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor; at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.
10 Hear, O daughter, consider, and incline your ear; forget your people and your father's house;
11 and the king will desire your beauty. Since he is your lord, bow to him;
15 With joy and gladness they are led along as they enter the palace of the king.

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:20-27

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.
21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.
23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.
24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.
25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
27 "For God has put all things in subjection under his feet." But when it says, "All things are put in subjection under him," it is plain that he is excepted who put all things under him.

Gospel: Luke 1:39-56

39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah,
40 and she entered the house of Zechari'ah and greeted Elizabeth.
41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit
42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!
43 And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
44 For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy.
45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."
46 And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts,
52 he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.
54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever."
56 And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home.

The Assumption

Today, Catholics and many other Christians celebrate the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This significant feast day recalls the spiritual and physical departure of the mother of Jesus Christ from the earth, when both her soul and her body were taken into the presence of God.Venerable Pope Pius XII confirmed this belief about the Virgin Mary as the perennial teaching of the Church when he defined it formally as a dogma of Catholic faith in 1950, invoking papal infallibility to proclaim, “that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever-Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.�His Apostolic Constitution “Munificentissimus Deus� (Most Bountiful God), which defined the dogma,contained the Pontiff's accounts of many longstanding traditions by which the Church has celebrated the Assumption throughout its history.The constitution also cited testimonies from the early Church fathers on the subject, and described the history of theological reflection on many Biblical passages which are seen as indicating that Mary was assumed into heaven following her death.Although the bodily assumption of Mary is not explicitly recorded in Scripture, Catholic tradition identifies her with the “woman clothed with the sun� who is described in the 12th chapter of the Book of Revelation.The passage calls that woman's appearance “a great sign� which “appeared in heaven,� indicating that she is the mother of the Jewish Messiah and has “the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.� Accordingly, Catholic iconography of the Western tradition often depicts the Virgin Mary's assumption into heaven in this manner.Eastern Christians have also traditionally held Mary's assumption into heaven as an essential component of their faith. Pius XII cited several early Byzantine liturgical texts, as well as the eighth-century Arab Christian theologian St. John of Damascus, in his own authoritative definition of her assumption.“It was fitting,� St. John of Damascus wrote in a sermon on the assumption, “that she, who had kept her virginity intact in childbirth, should keep her own body free from all corruption even after death,� and “that she, who had carried the creator as a child at her breast, should dwell in the divine tabernacles.�In Eastern Christian tradition, the same feast is celebrated on the same calendar date, although typically known as the Dormition (falling asleep) of Mary. Eastern Catholic celebration of the Dormition is preceded by a two-week period of fasting which is similar to Lent. Pius XII, in “Munificentissimus Deus,� mentioned this same fasting period as belonging to the traditional patrimony of Western Christians as well.The feast of the Assumption is always a Holy Day of Obligation for both Roman and Eastern-rite Catholics, on which they are obliged to attend Mass or Divine Liturgy.

Fight evil with action – not apathy, Francis says

Vatican City, Aug 12, 2018 / 05:31 am (CNA/EWTN News).- It is not enough for Catholics to not do bad things, they must counter evil by actively living out charity in the performance of good deeds, Pope Francis told young people and others in St. Peter’s Square Sunday.

“If we do not oppose evil, we feed it tacitly. It is necessary to intervene where evil spreads; because evil spreads where there are no daring Christians who oppose with good, ‘walking in love,’ according to the warning of St. Paul,” the pope said Aug. 12.

Speaking to around 90,000 people in St. Peter’s Square and the adjoining street before the recitation of the Angelus, Francis warned that people are guilty of the sin of omission when they could do something good but choose not to.

“It is not enough not to hate, it is necessary to forgive,” he said. “It is not enough not to have a grudge, we must pray for [our] enemies… it is not enough to not speak badly about others, we must stop when we hear someone talking badly.”

The pope addressed, in particular, Italian young people, who had made a pilgrimage to Rome as a way to pray for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on youth, urging them to be “protagonists of the good!”

He noted that because of the presence of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in every baptized person, Christians must strive to live their lives “in a coherent manner,” renouncing evil, temptation, and sin, saying “no” to a culture of death, and by adhering to the good and doing good.

St. Paul urges in his letter to the Ephesians, remove “all bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling… along with all malice” and replace it with kindness, compassion, and forgiveness, “as God has forgiven you in Christ,” Francis said.

He explained that many times he has heard people say that they do not hurt anyone with their actions – “All right but are you good?” the pope asked. To not do harm, but meanwhile neglect to live out the virtues, leads to apathy and indifference, he said.

Such an attitude is contrary to the Gospel and contrary to the character of young people, “who by nature are dynamic, passionate and courageous.”

“Remember this,” he said, quoting St. Albert Hurtado: “It is good not to do evil, but it is bad not to do good.”

Noting the walking pilgrimage many of those present had made to reach Rome, he said, “therefore, you are trained and I can tell you: walk in love!”

“Let’s walk together towards the next Synod of Bishops… May the Virgin Mary support us with her maternal intercession, so that each of us, every day, with deeds, can say ‘no’ to evil and ‘yes’ to good,” he concluded.

Francis continues to watch abuse response in Chile, Vatican says

Vatican City, Aug 11, 2018 / 09:52 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis held a meeting on the abuse scandal in Chile and will continue to follow the actions of the country’s bishops’ conference in response to the crisis, the Vatican press office said Friday.

According to press office vice director, Paloma Garcia, Francis is following “with interest” the response of the Chilean bishops and “has expressed his desire to continue to clarify all the questions in order to give a just answer to everyone.”

The pope met with Bishop Juan Ignacio González of San Bernardo and Ana María Celis Brunet, president of the Chilean National Council for the Prevention of Abuse, in the Vatican’s Santa Marta House Aug. 10.

An attorney, Celis was appointed to the position in early August by the Chilean bishops, during a week-long meeting to consider the roots of the crisis of sexual abuse in the Church in their country and to define guidelines to implement in their dioceses.

The Vatican statement on their meeting said the aim was “to get information and exchange views on the steps being taken in Chile to deal with cases of abuse and to prevent them from happening again.”

The conversation also referenced the suffering of victims and the need to provide “consolation and reparation.”   

Friday’s meeting follows similar encounters the pope conducted over the last few months with victims of abuses which occurred at Fr. Fernando Karadima’s Sacred Heart parish in Santiago.

Karadima, a Chilean priest who committed sexual abuse, and abuse of power and conscience, was convicted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2011 of abusing minors, and sentenced to a life of prayer and penance. He has not been sentenced by civil courts because of Chile’s statute of limitations.

A sacerdotal association which Karadima had led, the Priestly Union of the Sacred Heart, was suppressed within a year of his conviction.

Pope Francis Aug. 6 wrote to the Chilean bishops’ conference to express his approval of their newly-adopted plan to prevent future instances of sex abuse within the Church.

“I was impressed by the work of reflection, discernment, and decisions that you have made,” the Pope wrote in his Aug. 5 letter to Bishop Santiago Jaime Silva Retamales of Chile’s military diocese, who is president of the Chilean bishops’ conference.

Francis was responding to the Aug. 3 statement issued at the conclusion of the week-long meeting of the Chilean bishops to address the sexual abuse crisis.

The bishops acknowledged they had failed in their duty as pastors in the face of the cases of sexual abuse committed by priests and presented some short- and medium-term measures in order to determine the truth and to secure justice and reparation for the victims.

Waiting for a new deputy at the Vatican Secretariat of State

Vatican City, Aug 9, 2018 / 04:00 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis’ trip to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families will be likely his first international trip not to include the “sostituto,” or deputy, of the Vatican Secretariat of State among the papal entourage.
 
Since the former “sostituto”, Giovanni Angelo Becciu, was created cardinal and promoted to lead the Congregation for the Cause of Saints in May, the position has been vacant.
 
The pope was expected to fill the position once Becciu’s mandate formally ended at the end of June, but he did not do that.
 
Now that the trip to Ireland is approaching, reports are spreading that Pope Francis might appoint Becciu’s successor by the end of the week.
 
The position of the “sostituto” is important for the functioning of the Secretariat of State and the entire Roman Cura.
 
According to Pastor bonus, the apostolic constitution that defines the tasks and competencies of Curial offices, the “sostituto” is at the helm of the first section of the Secretariat of State, the section on “general affairs.”
 
In practice, the “sostituto” works as a coordinator, and as a link between the pope and the secretary of state, becoming in many cases the person closest to the pope.
 
This is likely the reason Pope Francis wants to ponder carefully who will be the next “sostituto.”
 
On the other hand, the competencies of the “sostituto” might change some when Praedicate evangelium, the anticipated apostolic constitution updating the governance structures of the Vatican, is published and takes effect, and the pope might be waiting for the promulgation of that document before appointing a person to the role.
 
The Secretariat of State has already changed its shape under Pope Francis; the pope established in November a third section dedicated to the pastoral care of nuncios and other diplomatic personnel.
 
The newly established department took on the competencies of the Office for Pontifical Representatives, which was previously under the first section of the Secretariat. As the same time, the third section also absorbed some of the tasks generally entrusted to the first section, among them the presentation to the pope of three candidates for an nuncio position, and granting special permissions or delegations to nuncios.
 
The new “sostituto” will be called to work out a transition toward a new modus operandi of the Secretariat of State.
 
There has been a great deal of speculation about who will be picked for the job.
 
The “sostituto” is entrusted with general affairs, so it is not a diplomatic role, as is the Secretary for the Relations with States, who heads the Second Section. However, lately the “sostituto” have been from picked among the ranks of papal nuncios, as all of them have had experience and in its diplomatic work.
 
Since the position of the sostituto was created in 1831, there have been 20 deputies to the Secretary of State, and 17 of them were Italians. The tradition of an Italian “sostituto” was broken under John Paul II, who picked the Spanish Eduardo Martinez Somalo (1979 – 1988),  the Australian Edward Idris Cassidy (1988 – 1989) and the Argentinian Leonardo Sandri (2000 – 2007).
 
Since 1953, the “sostituto” has always had a past in the diplomatic service.
 
Will Pope Francis keep that tradition?
 
Vatican observers claim that the pope will likely choose an active nuncio for the position. Some have speculated that the pope might pick Archbishop Nicola Girasoli, nuncio to Peru, or Archbishop Giordano Caccia, nuncio to Philippines. Other reports say that the top candidate for the position might be Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Holy See Observer to the United Nations in New York.
 
It is also rumored that the pope might appoint Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano as “sostituto”- he is a long term friend of the pope, he is serving as secretary of the Council of Cardinals, and so he would be the well positioned to oversee Curia reform – including that of the Secretariat of State.
 
However, there is no consensus candidate within the Vatican corridors. Names circulate in conversations with Vatican officials, but they are considered to be, at best, possibilities.
 
Among the possibilities, there is a new entry who could represent a concrete option for the future: Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, apostolic nuncio to Mozambique.
 
Archbishop Peña Parra fits many of Pope Francis’ priorities.
 
First, he is not Italian, and Francis seems keen to dispense with an overreliance on Italians.
 
Second, he comes from Venezuela: with his appointment, Pope Francis might further show his attention to the situation in that country, where every Church mediation in the messy political situation has thus far failed.
 
Third, he was apostolic nuncio to Pakistan from 2011 to 2015, a country to which Francis has paid particular attention, even appointing a cardinal from Pakistan at the last consistory.

Peña Parra therefore has a deep knowledge of two of the scenarios that Pope Francis deems important. In addition, his doctoral dissertation has become a reference point for study of human rights, an issue of importance to the pontiff.
 
At the moment, and for all of these reasons, the appointment of Archbishop Peña Parra is considered a strong possibility. However, Vatican sources have maintained that “the pope will make his decision alone,” and that “the pope can always surprise us.”
 
Much will be understood from the timing of the appointment: while it seems really likely that the pope will announce the appoint of the new “sostituto” by the end of the week, the decision can always be postponed to September, when vacation time is over and when the reform of the Curia should renewed in full swing.