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Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Vatican City, 20 March 2012 (VIS) - Given below is a note released this morning by the Holy See Press Office concerning the summary of the findings of the Apostolic Visitation in Ireland. It is, the English-language text reads, "a synthesis of the results of the Visitations to the four archdioceses, to religious institutes and to the Irish seminaries. It has been approved by the offices which conducted the Visitation and it also contains some further observations from the Holy See, in addition to those that the individual dicasteries communicated to the leaders of the respective archdioceses or institutes.

"There follows a list of some of the principal elements contained in the summary:

"(a) The Holy See reiterates the sense of dismay expressed by Pope Benedict XVI in his Letter to the Catholics of Ireland and the closeness that he has often manifested towards the victims of these sinful and criminal acts committed by priests and religious.

"(b) The Visitation, which was pastoral in nature, was able on the one hand to acknowledge the seriousness of the shortcomings that gave rise, in the past, not least on the part of various bishops and religious superiors, to an inadequate understanding of and reaction to the terrible phenomenon of the abuse of minors. On the other hand, it is clearly pointed out that, beginning in the 1990s, decisive progress has been made, leading to a greater awareness of the problem and profound changes in the way of addressing it. It is recommended that bishops and religious superiors keep up their commitment to welcoming and supporting victims of abuse.

"(c) The guidelines contained in the 2008 document Safeguarding Children (which supersedes earlier documents) envisage: far-reaching involvement of the lay faithful and of ecclesiastical structures in the work of prevention and formation, close cooperation with civil authorities in swift reporting of accusations, and constant reference to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in matters that pertain to its competence. These norms have proved to be an effective instrument for handling accusations of abuse and for increasing the awareness of the entire Christian community in the area of child protection. The Guidelines are to be further updated on the basis of the Circular Letter published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on 3 May 2011, and periodically reviewed.

"(d) The work of the National Board for Safeguarding Children is thorough and far-reaching. Of particular value is its auditing of the implementation of the guidelines in individual dioceses and religious institutes. It is recommended that this auditing process be extended as soon as possible to all the dioceses and religious institutes and that it be regularly repeated.

"(e) On the basis of the recently published document Interim Guidance, bishops and religious superiors, in cooperation with the National Board, will have to formulate norms for handling cases of priests or religious who have been accused, but in whose case the Director of Public Prosecutions has decided not to proceed. Similarly, norms should be established for facilitating the return to ministry of falsely accused priests, and for ensuring that proper pastoral attention is given to priests or religious who are found guilty of abuse of minors.

"(f) The Visitation to the seminaries was able to appreciate the commitment of the formators and the seminarians, and the attention given to intellectual, human and spiritual formation. In the seminaries, clear child protection norms are in place, with a broad understanding of all that this involves for the life of the Church. In order to improve the quality of the formation, it has been recommended, among other things, to ensure that it is rooted in authentic priestly identity, to reinforce the structures of episcopal governance over the seminaries, to introduce more consistent admissions criteria, to ensure that the seminarians are housed in buildings reserved for their exclusive use, and to include in the academic programme in-depth formation on matters of child protection.

"(g) Each religious institute is invited to design a three-year programme for focusing anew on the founding charism and on the fundamental sources, developing adequate means for revitalising individual communities in the areas of prayer, community life and apostolic mission. The institutes are invited to develop a collaborative ministerial outreach towards those who suffer the consequences of abuse.

"(h) The Visitation recognised that the painful events of recent years have also opened many wounds within the Catholic community. On the other hand, this time of trial has also brought to light the continuing vitality of the Irish people’s faith. Among the signs of hope are the dedication with which many bishops, priests and religious live out their vocation, the human and spiritual bonds that many of them have observed among the lay faithful at a time of crisis, the deep faith of many men and women and a remarkable level of involvement among priests, religious and lay faithful in the structures of child protection. In this context, a renewed call to communion is made - communion among the bishops themselves and with the Successor of Peter, communion between bishops and priests, between pastors and laypersons, between diocesan structures and communities of consecrated life.

"(i) Finally, certain pastoral priorities are mentioned which may help to guide renewal: formation in the content of the faith, a new appreciation of the commitment of the laity, the role of teachers of religion, openness to the contribution offered by movements and associations, and fidelity to the teachings of the Magisterium. It is stated, moreover, that the Holy See and the Irish bishops have already initiated a joint reflection on the present configuration of dioceses in Ireland, with a view to adapting diocesan structures to make them better suited to the present-day mission of the Church in Ireland".


Vatican City, 20 March 2012 (VIS) - A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office to present the arrival in Palermo of the "Courtyard of the Gentiles", an initiative of the Pontifical Council for Culture which has the aim of promoting dialogue between believers and non-believers on the great issues facing the modern world. The event will take place in Palermo, Italy, on 29 and 30 March and have as its theme "The Culture of Legality and Multi-Religious Society".

Participating in today's press conference were Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Bishop Antonino Raspanti of Acireale; Bishop Carmelo Cuttitta, auxiliary and vicar general of Palermo; Giusto Sciacchitano, anti-Mafia prosecutor, and Fr. Jean-Marie Laurent Mazas F.S.J., executive director of the Courtyard of the Gentiles.

Following Bologna, Paris, Bucharest, Florence, Rome and Tirana, the Courtyard of the Gentiles is moving to Sicily where, according to a note released by the Holy See Press Office, believers and non believers face "a crucial challenge: responding with a culture of dialogue and legality, rooted in the great multi-religious and multi-cultural tradition of Sicily, to the non-culture of organised crime, and opening bridges of dialogue with the reawakening which is stirring Arab society on the south-eastern shore of the Mediterranean. Palermo is the ideal place to do this, because of its dual nature as the historical meeting point of cultures and religions, and as the original 'cradle' of the Mafia while at the same time being symbolic of the struggle against the Mafia (it was there that the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime was signed in 2000).

The event will begin in the cathedral of Monreale on 29 March with a talk by Cardinal Ravasi on "Society, Culture and Faith". "The presence of the 'Courtyard' in Sicily", Cardinal Ravasi has declared, "is an expression of the desire to officially relaunch the Church’s commitment against illegality and any degeneration of the law". On 30 March the "Courtyard" will move on to the University of Palermo where philosophers, religious, jurists, historians and intellectuals will discuss "divine law and human justice", "religion and human rights", "pluralism and universalism" and "religions and public space". Speakers will include Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the philosopher Remi Brague and the historian of the Mafia Salvatore Lupo. That evening in the cathedral of Palermo, Cardinal Ravasi, anti-Mafia prosecutor Piero Grasso, young people of the anti-Mafia association "Addiopizzo" and Cardinal Paolo Romeo, archbishop of Palermo will participate in an open meeting with citizens of Sicily to reaffirm the popular and everyday character of the commitment to dialogue and legality.

Other aspects of the initiative include a "Narrative Courtyard" for university students, to be held on 29 March in the Palermo branch of LUMSA University, and a "Courtyard of Children" for local boys and girls, to be held in front of Palermo cathedral on the evening of 30 March.


Vatican City, 18 March 2012 (VIS) - Before praying the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square today, the fourth Sunday of Lent, the Pope dedicated some remarks to the importance of sacramental Confession during this liturgical period which, he said, is "a time in which to pay greater attention to the voice of God".

On the horizon ahead of us during Lent is the profile of the cross of Christ, "the apex of the love which brings us salvation. ... Jesus was raised on the cross so that anyone in danger of dying because of sin, by turning in faith to the One Who died for us, would be saved".

Benedict XVI explained how God's merciful love is infinite and reaches so far as the giving of His only Son as a pledge for our sins. We therefore have a great responsibility. "Each one of us must, in fact, recognise we are sick in order to be healed. Each must confess our sins, so that the forgiveness of God, already given on the cross, can have an effect on our hearts and our lives".

"Sometimes", the Pope went on, "man loves the shadows more than the light, because he clings to his sin. But it is only by opening himself to the light, by sincerely confessing his sins to God, that he can find true peace and true joy. It is, then, important to make regular use of the Sacrament of Penance, especially during Lent, in order to receive the Lord's forgiveness and intensify our journey of conversion".

The Pope thanked people who were praying for him for his name day, on tomorrow's Feast of St. Joseph. He likewise asked the faithful for their prayers for his forthcoming apostolic trip to Mexico and Cuba, which is due to begin on Friday. "I invite everyone to accompany me with their spiritual proximity", he said, "so that this visit may bring abundant fruits of Christian life and ecclesial renewal, contributing to the authentic progress of peoples".

Following the Marian prayer, the Holy Father remarked on the fact that the Sixth World Water Forum came to an end yesterday in the French city of Marseille, and that this Thursday will be World Water Day. "I hope that these initiatives may contribute to ensuring equal, secure and adequate access to water", he said, "thus promoting every human being's right to life and nutrition, and the responsible use of the goods of the earth for the benefit of present and future generations".


Vatican City, 18 March 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father has sent a telegram of condolence to the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church, for the death of His Holiness Shenouda III, Patriarch of Alexandria, who died on 17 March.

"I gratefully recall", the Holy Father writes, "his commitment to Christian unity, and his memorable visit to my predecessor Pope Paul VI when, in Rome on 10 May 1973, they signed the Joint Declaration of Faith in the Incarnation of the Son of God. I also recall his meeting in Cairo with Pope John Paul II on 24 February 2000, during the course of the Great Jubilee. The entire Catholic Church shares the mourning of Coptic Orthodox and, with fervent prayer, asks the One Who is the resurrection and the life to welcome His faithful servant to His side".


Vatican City, 19 March 2012 (VIS) - Today, Feast of St. Joseph and the Holy Father's name day, Benedict XVI received telephone greetings from Mario Monti, prime minister of Italy. In the course of the cordial conversation, the Holy Father likewise congratulated the prime minister, who today celebrates his sixty-ninth birthday.


Vatican City, 17 March 2012 (VIS) - Between 14 and 16 March a number of meetings took place between the authorities of the Holy See and Vatican City State, and experts of MONEYVAL (the Department of the Council of Europe which deals with the evaluation of systems adopted by member States to counter money-laundering).

An English-language communique made public today explains that "the meetings made it possible to continue gathering information on the steps taken thus far in the process of complying with international standards in the area of preventing and countering money-laundering and the financing of terrorism, such as the adoption of the Decree No. CLIX of 25 January 2012, ... as well as the ratification of and adhesion to certain international conventions pertinent to the question. ... The present phase will lead to the drafting of a report which, as scheduled, will be examined by the plenary assembly of MONEYVAL next July".


Vatican City, 17 March 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience:

- Cardinal Marc Ouellet P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

- Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa, Italy and president of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

- Bishop Guy Bagnard of Belley-Ars, France.


Vatican City, 20 March 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

- Appointed Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, U.S.A., as archbishop of Baltimore (area 12,430, population 3,119,000, Catholics 499,529, priests 543, permanent deacons 158, religious 1,249), U.S.A.

- Appointed Msgr. David J. Malloy of the clergy of the archdiocese of Milwaukee, U.S.A., pastor of the parish of St. Francis de Sales at Lake Geneva, as bishop of Rockford (area 16,717, population 1,665,000, Catholics 451,509, priests 288, permanent deacons 136, religious 184), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in Milwaukee in 1956 and ordained a priest in 1983. He studied in Rome then served for a number of years in the diplomatic service of the Holy See before becoming an official of the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household. From 2006 to 2011 he was secretary general of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He succeeds Bishop Thomas G. Doran, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Bishop Christian Lepine, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Montreal, Canada, as metropolitan archbishop of the same archdiocese (area 1,103, population 2,574,000, Catholics 1,640,000, priests 1,163, permanent deacons 100, religious 4,158). He succeeds Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.

- Appointed Fr. Gregory L. Parkes of the clergy of the diocese of Orlando, U.S.A., vicar general, chancellor for canonical affairs and pastor of the parish of Corpus Christi at Celebration, as bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee (area 36,724, population 1,381,566, Catholics 74,868, priests 94, permanent deacons 67, religious 49), U.S.A. The bishop-elect was born in Mineola, U.S.A. in 1964 and ordained a priest in 1999. Before becoming a priest he worked in the banking sector. He studied in Rome and, since ordination, has worked in pastoral care in the diocese of Orlando.

On Saturday 17 March it was made public that the Pope:

- Appointed Archbishop Mario Roberto Cassari, apostolic nuncio to South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland, also as apostolic nuncio to Lesotho.

- Appointed Bishop Rufin Anthony of Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Pakistan, as apostolic administrator "sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of the diocese of Faisalabad, Pakistan.

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