Vatican defends former Pope Benedict after German report faults abuse record (CBC News) Warning against “easy scapegoats and summary judgments,” Andrea Tornielli, editorial director of the Dicastery for Communication, said that “it cannot be forgotten that [Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger] ... had already fought the phenomenon [of clerical abuse] in the last phase of the pontificate of St. John Paul II, with whom he had been a close collaborator, and once he became Pope, promulgated very harsh norms against clerical abusers.”
On day of prayer for Ukraine, Pope recalls country's historical suffering (Reuters) “I ask you to pray the Our Father for peace in Ukraine, now and throughout this Day,” Pope Francis said on January 26. “Let us ask the Lord to grant that the country may grow in the spirit of brotherhood, and that all hurts, fears and divisions will be overcome.” “We have spoken about the Holocaust,” he continued. “But let us think too that [in Ukraine] millions of people were killed [1932-1933]. They are a people who have suffered; they have suffered from hunger, suffered from much brutality and they deserve peace.” “May the prayers and supplications that today rise up to heaven touch the minds and hearts of world leaders, so that dialogue may prevail and the common good be placed ahead of partisan interests. Please, no more war.”
Cardinal Marx pushes for reforms in Church (Deutsche Welle) Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich used the recent report on sexual abuse in the archdiocese as an occasion to press for fundamental reforms in the Church.
“There is no future for Christianity in our country without a renewed Church,” the cardinal told an audience at the Catholic Academy. “For me, the reappraisal of sexual abuse is part of a fundamental renewal.”
Cardinal Marx and the leaders of the German episcopal conference have explained their “synodal path”—calling for dramatic changes in Church teaching and discipline—as a necessary response to the scandal caused by the sex-abuse crisis.
The cardinal acknowledged his own “unforgivable” failure to act against sexual abuse in the past, and said that he was serious in his offer to resign (which Pope Francis declined). However, he said that the abuse scandal reflects “systemic causes,” and insisted on the “need for reform of the Church’s positions and its structures.”
Pope seeks 'synodal spirit' on marriage tribunals (Vatican Press Office) In a January 27 address to officials of the Roman Rota, which was opening its judicial year, Pope Francis suggested that “the administration of justice needs a synodal spirit.”
Referring to the preparations for the Synod on Synodality, the Pontiff said that the Roman Rota—which handles appeals on marriage cases—should be guided by the same principles as the synod: a focus on listening, discernment, and then judgment.
“Synodality in trials implies a constant exercise in listening,” the Pope said. He stressed that all parties should make a special effort to listen to each other, in order to discern the truth about the existence of a marital bond.
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith shelved draft USCCB LGBT pastoral ministry document (Pillar) “Draft guidelines from the US bishops’ conference urge meaningful relationships with people who identify as LGBT, and call for discerning complex pastoral and sacramental situations carefully, while upholding the doctrinal teachings of the Catholic Church,” according to the report. “But the guidelines, drafted in 2018, have not been released by the bishops’ conference, or even put to a vote, at the direction of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.” The Pillar reported that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith asked the US bishops to wait because the Congregation was planning to release its own document. The “draft Vatican text was actually written in 2018, but has also not been published.”
Vatican diplomat: 'Constrain the use of explosive weapons' to protect civilians (Holy See Mission) Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, apostolic nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, made his remarks at a UN debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, citing the Second Vatican Council, teaches that “every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation” (2314).
Europe's bishops urge international community to support Ukraine (CCEE) “The Presidency of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences, giving voice to the Bishops of the European Continent in this dramatic moment of tension around Ukraine, wishes to express its closeness to the Churches in Ukraine and to all its people,” the continent’s bishops said in a statement. “They invite the international community to offer its support to the country in the face of the danger of a Russian military offensive.” “We also, as shepherds of the European Continent, want to appeal to the Leaders of the Nations so that they do not forget the tragic World Wars of the last century and so that international law as well as the independence and territorial sovereignty of each country will be defended,’ the bishops added. “Together with the Holy Father, we want to call on Governments to find ‘acceptable and lasting solutions’ in Ukraine based on dialogue and negotiation and without resorting to arms. At this extremely delicate time, we ask Christians to pray for the gift of peace in Ukraine.”
Seek peace in Ukraine, says US bishops' chairman for international justice and peace (USCCB) “With the alarming situation in Ukraine, we appeal to all leaders to respect the territorial integrity and political independence of Ukraine and to engage in constructive dialogue to peacefully resolve this conflict that impacts the lives and livelihoods of 43 million Ukrainians,” said Bishop David Malloy of Rockford (IL), chairman of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace.
Holy Land's bishops invite other Christian leaders to participate in synod (Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem) The synod on synodality “is one in which we are invited to listen more than to speak,” the Catholic ordinaries of the Holy Land said in a letter to the region’s other Christian leaders.
“We are listening for the voice of the Lord as we encounter Him and the way, the voice of the Holy Spirit as it comes to us through reading the Scriptures and encountering our neighbors,” the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and other Catholic leaders continued. “With listening being at the center of the Synodal process, we wish not only to inform you of this process but also listen to anything you might want to say to us.”
Ethiopian blockade on Tigray blamed for 5,000 deaths (Fides) Almost 5,000 people have died, mostly from malnutrition, as a result of Ethiopia’s blockade of the Tigray region, the Fides news service reports. Local health officials report that many deaths have been caused by treatable diseases as well as malnutrition, as health facilities in the region have been almost completely destroyed in the conflict that began late in 2020.
'Refrain from hostilities,' Ukrainian and Polish bishops plead (Polish Bishops' Conference) “Totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century led the world to the tragic experience of war and political terror while ignoring the authority of God,ˮ Polish and Ukrainian bishops said in their statement. “In the name of false ideologies, whole nations were condemned to annihilation, respect for human dignity was violated, and the essence of the exercise of political power was reduced to violence alone. Today, too, we want to make it clear that any war is a tragedy and can never be an adequate means of solving international problems.”
Quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the bishops said that “actions deliberately contrary to the law of nations and to its universal principles are crimes, as are the orders that command such actions. Blind obedience does not suffice to excuse those who carry them out. Thus, the extermination of a people, nation, or ethnic minority must be condemned as a mortal sin.”
Cardinal skips Vatican trial to boycott talk of rumored liaison with woman (Reuters) The Associated Press also covered the story, with the headline “Vatican cardinal complains prosecutors asked about sex life.” The prelate is Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, who oversaw the internal affairs of the Roman Curia as Substitute (Sostituto) of the Secretariat of State from 2011 to 2018. Pope Francis created him a cardinal in the 2018 consistory and named him Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. In 2020, Becciu resigned from the “rights connected to the cardinalate,” and he is now on trial in connection with a London real estate deal.
During the January 26 hearing, Vatican prosecutors announced that they were bringing new charges against four defendants, bringing the total number of defendants to ten. The tribunal had thrown out the charges against the four in December because of procedural mistakes, telling prosecutors that they would have to re-start their investigations in those cases.
Disputes between the prosecution and defense continued at the January 25 hearing, with defense lawyers saying that they had not received material that the court had ordered prosecutors to turn over. The court set a new deadline for delivery of the material.
Knights of Malta fear direct Vatican attack on sovereignty (Pillar) Leaders of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta are voicing fears of a direct attack by the Vatican against their sovereign status, after the Pope’s appointed delegate barred a representative for the Order from discussions of a new constitution for the group.
Cardinal Silvano Tomasi, who has been given authority by Pope Francis to reform the Order’s statutes, refused to allow Marwan Sehnaoui onto a committee drafting the new constitution. Sehnaoui had been named by Albrecht Von Boeselager, the Order’s grand chancellor, after Von Boselager removed himself from the process, saying that he saw threats to the ancient group’s sovereignty.
Brazilian bishops rap resistance to Covid vaccination for children (Crux) The Catholic bishops of Brazil have decried public statements that discourage the Covid-vaccination of children, in a statement clearly aimed at President Jair Bolsonaro.
Bolsonaro has spoken against vaccinating childen, noting that young people are generally not vulnerable to Covid, and the vaccine’s effects are uncertain. The bishops’ statement condemned misleading information about the vaccines.