Pope prays for peace in 'dear and martyred' Ukraine (L'Osservatore Romano (Italian)) “Brothers and sisters, we have entered the time of Advent full of hope, and with fervor we implore the Prince of Peace to bring consolation to our wounded hearts, as well as to nations tried by wars and crises of all kinds, for a dignified and serene life,” Pope Francis said during his November 30 general audience, following his remarks on a daily examination of conscience. “May the intercession of the holy brother apostles Peter and Andrew soon grant the Church to fully enjoy her unity and peace to the whole world, especially at this moment in dear and martyred Ukraine, always in our hearts and in our prayers,” he added.
Déjà vu in Vatican as 'Vatileaks' defendant cited at trial (AP) “The Vatican tribunal hearing a financial crimes case had something of a déjà vu [on November 29] when a high-profile defendant in a previous trial over leaked documents emerged as a key figure in advising the prime prosecution witness to cooperate with prosecutors,” the report begins. “Prosecutor Alessandro Diddi announced he had received a series of 126 text messages over the weekend that explained how key prosecution witness Msgr. Alberto Perlasca decided to change his story and cooperate with the investigation into the Vatican’s bungled investment in a London property.”
No information on whereabouts of 2 Ukrainian Catholic priests detained by Russian forces (Fides) Two Redemptorists priests at a Ukrainian Greek Catholic parish in Berdiansk were detained by Russian security forces on November 16. Russian forces occupied the city of 100,000 on February 27, shortly after the invasion began. Father Ivan Levytskyy and Father Bohdan Heleta are accused of hiding weapons and explosives in their church. The Redemptorist order said that two weeks after their detention, there is no information on their whereabouts.
Sunday Mass attendance in Belgium falls to 2.5% (Pillar) Average Sunday Mass attendance fell from in Belgium fell from 241,029 in 2019 to 166,785 in 2021, according to a report released by the nation’s episcopal conference on November 30. The Sunday Mass attendance rate has fallen from 42.9% in 1967 to 2.5% in 2021. In 2021, there were 36,834 baptisms (162 of them adult baptisms), 41,751 First Communions, and eight priestly ordinations. 5,237 Catholics requested that their names be removed from baptismal registries.
As violent strikes conclude, Bolivian prelates plead for peace (Fides) As violent strikes ended in Bolivia after 35 days, Bishop Aurelio Pesoa, the president of the bishops’ conference, said that “so many brothers have been hurt, a people has been been hurt, a wound that will take a long time to heal. For a predominantly Catholic people, this is not the way to wait for the Messiah.” “The challenge is to walk together, towards a new world where there are no more strikes and blockades, where there is no tear gas, machine guns and missiles, not to mention weapons of mass destruction,” added Bishop Robert Flock of San Ignacio de Velasco. “In the light of the Lord, let us seek what the Lord offers, life in abundance for all.”
'Perversion': Russia condemns Pope's remarks on cruelty of soldiers in Ukraine (BBC) In an interview with the Jesuit periodical America, Pope Francis said that he has received “much information about the cruelty of the troops” in Ukraine, and that “generally, the cruelest are perhaps those who are of Russia but are not of the Russian tradition, such as the Chechens, the Buryats and so on.” Maria Zakharova, director of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, said that “this is no longer Russophobia, it’s a perversion on a level I can’t even name. We are one family with Buryats, Chechens, and other representatives of our multinational and multi-confessional country.”
'Love gives birth to heroes,' Ukrainian Catholic leader says (Columbia) In an interview with Columbia (the magazine of the Knights of Columbus), Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, said that his “most important pastoral duty” is “to cultivate love, because we are conscious that hatred gives birth to criminals, but love gives birth to heroes. Ukraine is revealing itself to be a nation of heroes.” He added, “People are looking for meaning: ‘How are we supposed to live when my house is destroyed, when my dearest ones are killed?’ The response to such existential questions can only come from the eternal perspective, from God’s Word and wisdom.”
USCCB committee chairman hopes violation of Vatican-China agreement will not be repeated (USCCB) Without Vatican consent, the Chinese government recently transferred Bishop Peng Weizhao, by Pope Francis’s appointment the underground bishop of Yujiang, to Jiangxi, where he will serve officially as an auxiliary bishop. A statement from the Vatican press office expressed “surprise and regret” at the event. “It is unusual for the Holy See to issue a public statement on what they note to be an event that ‘has not taken place in conformity with the spirit of dialogue that exists between the Vatican parties and the Chinese parties and what has been stipulated in the Provisional Agreement on the Appointment of Bishops,’” said Bishop David Malloy of Rockford (IL), chairman of the US bishop’s Committee on International Justice and Peace. He added, “I share in the hope conveyed by the Holy See that such actions will not be repeated as well as the recent call of Pope Francis for a deep and on-going dialogue with Chinese authorities so as to continue to engage and seek the good of the Church and the people of China.”
CCHD awards 'strategic national grant' to environmental advocacy network (USCCB) The Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the US bishops’ controversial anti-poverty program, has awarded a strategic national grant to the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC), a network of eight organizations engaging in environmental advocacy. The typical size of such grants was $500,000 in 2016, the most recent list on the CCHD website. CCHD “chose WORC to receive a five-year Strategic National Grant to build resilient and prosperous communities, support economic diversification, and grow green economies,” CCHD director Ralph McCloud said in a newsletter released November 28. “WORC is working to heal the scars from decades of fossil fuel extraction and industrialization, to support economic diversification, and to expand environmentally sustainable practices.”
Male fertility crash accelerating worldwide: study (The Hill) “While reasons for the decline are unclear, one major factor could be endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in thousands of everyday items,” according to the report on a study that appeared in the journal Human Reproduction Update. “These compounds — found in everything from personal care products to food packaging — have particularly dire impacts on reproductive function.”
Pope urges daily examination of conscience (Vatican News) At his weekly public audience on November 30, Pope Francis encouraged the faithful to make a daily examination of conscience—a practice that he described as “the valuable effort of rereading experience from a particular point of view.”
The Pope suggested following the advice of St. Ignatius of Loyola, who called for examining all thoughts and actions carefully, to see whether they are oriented toward the good in their beginning, middle, and end.
New lay leader for Vatican Economics secretariat (CNA) Pope Francis has named a Spanish layman, Maximino Caballero Ledo, to head the Secretariat for the Economy, after the resignation of Father Juan Antonio Guerrero, who had held that post since 2019.
The Vatican announced only that Father Guerrero was stepping down “for personal reasons.” But in a message to his staff, the Jesuit priest explained that he had recently undergone major surgery and “I am undergoing medical treatment that has side effects that make it particularly difficult for me to carry out a task as demanding as the one I am entrusted with.”
Caballero has been secretary-general of the Secretariat, the second-ranking official in the office, since 2020. He previously had a long record of corporate leadership.
Becciu meets with Pope Francis to 'clarify' secret recording amid mounting scandals (Pillar) A prosecutor revealed during the Vatican financial trial that Cardinal Angelo Becciu had secretly recorded a phone call with Pope Francis. Becciu then met with the Pope to “clarify” matters. Becciu 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.”
More Russian government, religious officials condemn Pope's remarks on Chechens, Buryats in Ukraine (AP) In an interview with the Jesuit periodical America, Pope Francis said that he has received “much information about the cruelty of the troops” in Ukraine, and that “generally, the cruelest are perhaps those who are of Russia but are not of the Russian tradition, such as the Chechens, the Buryats and so on.” Maria Zakharova, director of the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, described the Pope’s remarks as “perversion on a level I can’t even name.” Alexander Avdeev, Russia’s ambassador to the Holy See, has lodged a formal protest with the Vatican. “I expressed indignation at such insinuations and noted that nothing can shake the cohesion and unity of the multinational Russian people,” he said. Konstantin Kosachev (the chairman of the Russian senate’s foreign relations committee) also condemned the remarks, as did the leader of Russia’s Buddhists. (The Buryat people are primarily Buddhist.)
Senate passes same-sex marriage bill, sending it back to the House (CNA) Following an earlier procedural vote, the US Senate has approved the Respect for Marriage Act in a 61-35 vote. Echoing earlier statements from the USCCB, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chairman of the US bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty, and Bishop Robert Barron of Winona-Rochester (MN), chairman of the bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth, had urged the Senate to reject the measure.
Chinese government spokesman speaks of 'friendly consensus' amid Vatican complaints (AP) Without Vatican consent, the Chinese government recently transferred Bishop Peng Weizhao, by Pope Francis’s appointment the underground bishop of Yujiang, to Jiangxi, where he will serve officially as an auxiliary bishop. A statement from the Vatican press office expressed “surprise and regret” at the event. Zhao Lijian, the deputy director of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Information Department, told reporters that “China is willing to continuously expand the friendly consensus with the Vatican side and jointly maintain the spirit of our interim agreement.” He added that he was unaware of the specifics of Bishop Peng’s transfer.