Vatican News

Pope Francis says more action coming in fight against Vatican corruption

Rome Newsroom, Oct 30, 2020 / 12:30 pm ().- Pope Francis has said more changes are on the horizon as the Vatican continues to combat financial corruption inside its walls, but he is cautious about success.



Speaking to Italian news agency AdnKronos this week, Pope Francis said corruption is a deep, recurrent problem in the history of the Church, which he is trying to counter with “small, but concrete steps.”



“Unfortunately, corruption is a cyclical story, it repeats itself, then someone comes along to clean and tidy up, but then it starts again waiting for someone else to come and put an end to this degeneration,” he said in the interview, published Oct. 30.



“I know I have to do it, I was called to do it, then the Lord will say if I did well or if I did wrong. Honestly, I’m not very optimistic,” he smiled.



Pope Francis said “there are no particular strategies” to how the Vatican is fighting corruption. “The tactic is banal, simple, to go forward and to not stop. You have to take small but concrete steps.”



He pointed to changes made over the last five years, stating that more changes will be made “very soon.”



“We went to dig into finances, we have new leaders at the IOR, in short, I had to change many things and many will change very soon,” he said.



The interview came as the Vatican City tribunal is reportedly investigating various financial scandals and allegations connected to the former curial official Cardinal Angelo Becciu.



Becciu’s lawyers deny he has been contacted by Vatican authorities.



On Sept. 24, Becciu was asked by Pope Francis to resign from his Vatican job and from the rights of cardinals following reports alleging that he used millions of euros of Vatican charity funds in speculative and risky investments, including loans for projects owned and operated by Becciu’s brothers.



Becciu, who was formerly number two at the Secretariat of State, has also been at the center of a scandal involving the controversial purchase of a London building. He was also reportedly behind the hiring and paying of an Italian woman accused of misusing Vatican funds intended for humanitarian work for extravagant personal purchases.



Becciu has been accused of using Cecilia Marogna, a self-styled security consultant, to build “off-books” intelligence networks.



In the Oct. 30 interview, Pope Francis responded to a question about recent criticism he has received, including the renewal of the Vatican-China deal and his apparent approval of the legalization of same-sex civil unions in a recently-released documentary.



The pope said he wouldn’t be telling the truth if he said criticism does not bother him.



Nobody likes criticism given in bad faith, he added. “With equal conviction, however, I say that criticism can be constructive, and then I take it all because criticism leads me to examine myself, to make an examination of conscience, to ask myself if I was wrong, where and why I was wrong, if I did well, if I did wrong, if I could do better.”

source: Vatican News

Italian 'security consultant' freed from jail until Vatican extradition request decided

Rome Newsroom, Oct 30, 2020 / 07:18 am ().- An Italian woman under investigation by Vatican authorities for suspected embezzlement was released from a jail in Milan on Friday, as she awaits a decision on the Vatican’s extradition request.



A Milan court of appeal decided Oct. 30 to release Cecilia Marogna, 39, from Milan’s San Vittore jail on condition that she daily register her presence to local police, according to Il Fatto Quotidiano.



A self-described geopolitical analyst and security consultant, Marogna has been in custody following her arrest Oct. 13 on an international warrant issued by the Vatican through Interpol.



Vatican prosecutors requested Marogna’s extradition to the city state, which she has appealed. The appeal process is expected to take as long as a month.



The native Sardinian has been accused of misappropriating Vatican funds from payments of more than 500,000 euros she received from the Secretariat of State through her Slovenia-registered company in 2018 and 2019.



The accusation is that funds intended for humanitarian purposes were used for personal expenses, including stays at luxury hotels and purchases of designer label handbags.



Prosecutors deemed Marogna a flight risk, asking her to be kept in police custody, but her appeal for release was accepted by a Milan court of appeals Oct. 30.



Marogna has said she worked for the Holy See’s Secretariat of State as a security consultant and strategist, and she acknowledged receiving hundreds of thousands of euros from the Vatican, stating that the money all went to her Vatican consultancy work and her salary.



Expensive gifts “were used to create cooperative relationships,” she said.



It has been reported that these payments were made under the direction of the former sostituto of the Secretariat of State, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, who has been accused of using Marogna to build “off-books” intelligence networks.



Becciu has also been reported to be under Vatican investigation for his connection to Marogna’s case, but lawyers for the cardinal denied the report in a statement Oct. 28, stating that Becciu has not been contacted by Vatican authorities.



“In the interest of His Eminence the Cardinal, the defense attorneys once again reiterate that their client has not received any communication from the competent authority,” said lawyers Fabio Viglione and Agostinangelo Marras.

source: Vatican News

Pope Francis’ general audience again moves behind closed doors

Vatican City, Oct 29, 2020 / 01:00 pm ().- After nine weeks of public general audiences, Pope Francis’ weekly gathering will again take place behind closed doors, the Vatican said Thursday.



The decision to move back to a livestream-only format was made after at least one person in attendance at the pope’s Oct. 21 audience was discovered to have been positive for COVID-19, according to the Vatican.



Starting Wednesday, Nov. 4, Francis will give his general audience catechesis and greetings via live video from his study in the Apostolic Palace, “in order to avoid any future health risks for participants.”



From Sept. 2, members of the public were permitted again to attend his weekly audience at the Vatican, after a more than six-month break.



He had been livestreaming the Wednesday audience from his study since March, when the coronavirus outbreak led Italy and other countries to impose lockdowns to slow down the virus’ spread.



Unlike general audiences before the COVID-19 pandemic, which were held in the public square in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, the first meetings back with the public were held in a smaller interior courtyard of the Vatican, with a capacity for around 500 or so socially distanced and masked participants.



At these encounters, Pope Francis sat close to attendees, many of whom he would spend a long time greeting individually before and after the event.



In the last few weeks, the audiences have been held instead in the Vatican’s larger Pope PaulVI Audience Hall and Pope Francis has kept his distance from pilgrims.



He told participants Oct. 28 that he would be staying up on the stage and not greeting each of them as he likes to do.



“We must keep our distance, because if I come down, then a crowd forms to greet me, and this is contrary to the measures and the precautions we must take in order to face ‘Madame Covid,’ which is harmful to us,” he said.



On Oct. 21, he apologized for his distance but said it “is for your safety.”



“Instead of coming near you and shaking your hands and greeting you, we have to greet each other from a distance, but know that I am near you with my heart,” he added.



Pope Francis has been photographed at least once wearing a protective face mask when arriving and leaving the audience in San Damaso Courtyard, but he has not worn a mask during the general audience.



The Italian government has introduced new safety measures for the country as the number of coronavirus cases is again rising. Measures include a ban on most indoor or outdoor gatherings other than religious services, and bars and restaurants must be closed to sit-down guests from 6 p.m. onwards.



As a city state, the Vatican has its own regulations for stemming contagion and is not subject to Italian measures.

source: Vatican News

Rome's American seminary quarantines as students test positive for coronavirus

Rome Newsroom, Oct 29, 2020 / 08:30 am ().- The college for American seminarians in Rome is quarantining as a campus after several students tested positive for the coronavirus this week.



A spokesman for the Pontifical North American College told CNA that the seminary had "some students test positive," and that those students are being isolated while other students and faculty are quarantining on the Rome campus.



Vice Rector Fr. David A. Schunk said the seminary is "increasing our testing," following the positive results.



Rome's Pontifical Universities, which have students from around the world, resumed in-person in early October.



After ending the 2019-2020 academic year with online classes during Italy’s national lockdown, the Vatican-accredited schools were directed in June to prepare to teach in person with added health and safety measures.



Pontifical universities continue to offer some online learning as needed, especially for those who were not able to return to Rome or must quarantine. Some universities have had students test positive for the coronavirus as cases in Rome and across Italy continue to rise.



Students arriving at the North American College from the United States in August and September were required to take COVID-19 tests and observe a travel quarantine for 14 days at the seminary’s campus on the Janiculum Hill, not far from the Vatican.



After the travel quarantine ended for the 33 new students, called “New Men,” in early September, they were able to attend Mass in St. Peter's Basilica and make a pilgrimage to Assisi for two days.



They also had the chance to meet Pope Francis in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace on Sept 6.



In the meeting, Fr. Peter Harman, rector of the seminary, assured the pope of their continued prayers. “We have just returned from pilgrimage to Assisi, and there we begged the intercession of St. Francis for Pope Francis,” he said.



“Please pray for us, that this new year will be one of grace, health and growth always in God’s will,” the rector asked Francis.

source: Vatican News

Becciu: 'No communication' from Vatican investigators over Cecilia Marogna

Rome Newsroom, Oct 29, 2020 / 08:00 am ().- Lawyers for Cardinal Angelo Becciu released a statement late Wednesday contradicting an Italian news report that the former curial official has been summoned by the Vatican in connection with payments to a self-described geopolitical analyst and security consultant.



Becciu’s defense attorneys issued the statement in response to an Oct. 28 report by Italian newsweekly L’Espresso, stating that “according to Vatican judicial sources,” Becciu is being investigated in connection to a case against Italian Cecilia Marogna, and that he has “not yet presented himself” to Vatican prosecutors for questioning.



“In the interest of His Eminence the Cardinal, the defense attorneys once again reiterate that their client has not received any communication from the competent authority,” said lawyers Fabio Viglione and Agostinangelo Marras, in a statement later the same day.



Marogna has been accused of aggravated embezzlement of Vatican funds for payments of more than 500,000 euros she received from the Secretariat of State through her Slovenia-registered company in 2018 and 2019. The accusation is that funds intended for humanitarian purposes were used for personal expenses, including stays at luxury hotels and purchases of designer label handbags.



Marogna has said she worked for the Holy See’s Secretariat of State as a security consultant and strategist, and she acknowledged receiving hundreds of thousands of euros from the Vatican, stating that the money all went to her Vatican consultancy work and her salary.



Expensive gifts “were used to create cooperative relationships,” she said.



It has been reported that these payments were made under the direction of the former sostituto of the Secretariat of State, Cardinal Becciu, who has been accused of using Marogna to build “off-books” intelligence networks.



Marogna was arrested Oct. 13 in Milan on an international warrant issued by the Vatican through Interpol.



The 39-year-old Sardinian is currently being held in Milan’s San Vittore jail as she awaits the court’s decision regarding her appeal of an extradition request from Vatican City. The process is expected to take as long as a month.



The fifth section criminal court of appeal in Milan heard Oct. 28 a request from Marogna’s lawyer that she be released from jail while awaiting the decision in her extradition appeal. The Milan prosecutor argued against her release over concerns she is a flight risk. Judges are expected to make their decision about Marogna’s release by Monday.



As reports about Cardinal Becciu’s financial dealings at the Secretariat of State continue to emerge, questions have also been raised about the relationship between the president of the Vatican City court to some of the media outlets publishing these reports.



According to an editorial by news aggregator Il Sismografo earlier this month, Giuseppe Pignatone, president of the Vatican tribunal, is a contributing op-ed writer with the GEDI Group, the publisher of L’Espresso, La Repubblica, and other Italian national and local newspapers.



L’Espresso and La Repubblica have been among the leading Italian news outlets publishing reports on investigations into Becciu, including information from purported leaked Vatican court documents. These reports have not been independently confirmed by CNA.



Another report by L’Espresso at the end of September also alleged that Becciu used millions of euros of Vatican charity funds in speculative and risky investments, including loans for projects owned and operated by Becciu’s brothers.



On Sept. 24, Becciu was asked by Pope Francis to resign from his Vatican job and from the rights of cardinals following the report.

source: Vatican News

Pope Francis prays for victims of terrorist attack at French basilica

Vatican City, Oct 29, 2020 / 07:00 am ().- After three people were killed in a terrorist attack in a basilica in Nice, France, on Thursday, a Vatican spokesman condemned the violence and saidthat Pope Francis was praying for the victims and those who mourn them.



Pope Francis “is informed of the situation and is close to the Catholic community in mourning,” Matteo Bruni said Oct. 29.



According to the Holy See press office director, “it is a time of pain, in a time of confusion. Terrorism and violence can never be accepted.”



An attacker killed three people at the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Niceat around 9 a.m.local time, according to French media.



“Today’s attack sowed death in a place of love and consolation, as the house of the Lord,” Bruni’s statement continued.



Pope Francis “is praying for the victims and their loved ones, for the violence to cease, for people to look at each other again as brothers and sisters and not as enemies, so that the beloved French people, united, can respond to evil with good,” he said.



Christian Estrosi, the mayor of Nice,said the perpetrator of the attack, who was armed with a knife, was shot and arrested by the municipal police.



He also said in a video posted to Twitter that the attacker repeatedly shouted “Allahu Akbar” during and after the attack.



Police have confirmed that three people died in the attack and several were injured, according to Reuters. The news agency also reported that one of the victims, a woman, was beheaded.



Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin underlined the pope’s concern for the victims of the attack in an Oct. 29 condolence message to Bishop André Marceau of Nice.



In the telegram sent in the name of Pope Francis, he wrote: “Informed of the savage attack which was perpetrated this morning in a church in Nice, causing the death of several innocent people, His Holiness Pope Francis joined in prayer with the suffering of the affected families and shares their pain. He asks the Lord to bring them comfort and commends the victims to His mercy.”



“Condemning in the strongest possible way of such violent acts of terror, he offers the assurance of his closeness to the Catholic community of France and all the French people, whom he calls to unity. Entrusting France to the protection of Our Lady, he gives from the depths of his heart the Apostolic Blessing to all the people touched by this dramatic event.”



In a statement, Marceau said that all churches in the city hadbeen closed and would remain under police protection until further notice.



The bishop said that his emotion was strong after learning of the “heinous terrorist act” at the basilica, noting that it occured not long after the beheading of a Paris school teacher, Samuel Paty, in an Islamist terror attack earlier this month.



“My sadness is infinite as a human being in the face of what other beings, called human, can do,” Marceau said in a statement. “May Christ’s spirit of forgiveness prevail in the face of these barbaric acts.”



In a statement Oct. 29, the French bishops’ conference asked parishes to toll their bells at 3 p.m. local time. They also invited Catholics to pray for the victims.



San Luigi dei Francesi, the French national church in Rome, will join in tolling its bells at 3 p.m.



Cardinal Robert Sarah also responded to the news of the attack.



He wrote on Twitter: “Islamism is a monstrous fanaticism which must be fought with force and determination ... Unfortunately, we Africans know this too well. The barbarians are always the enemies of peace. The West, today France, must understand this.”

source: Vatican News

Pope Francis recognizes martyrdom of Lebanese priests killed under Ottoman Empire

Vatican City, Oct 28, 2020 / 02:00 pm ().- Pope Francis Wednesday advanced the sainthood causes of nine men and women, including two Lebanese priests martyred underthe Ottoman Empire.



Fr. Leonard Melki and Fr. Thomas Saleh were Capuchin friars and missionaries in what is now Turkey who were arrested, tortured, and martyred by the forces of the Ottoman Empire in 1915 and 1917 respectively.



Melki was given a choice: convert to Islam and be freed, or die as a Christian.Refusing to apostatize, the Lebanese priest was forced to march with more than 400 Christian prisoners into the desert, where he was killed “in hatred of the faith” on June 11, 1915, alongsidethe Armenian Catholic archbishop Blessed Ignatius Maloyan, who was beatified by John Paul II in 2001.



Saleh was arrested and sentenced to death after giving shelter to an Armenian priest during the Armenian genocide. Before his death,he said: “I have full trust in God, I am not afraid of death,” according to the Capuchin Order in Lebanon.



Pope Francis recognized the martyrdom of Melki and Saleh on Oct. 28, as well as that of two other martyrs: Fr. Luigi Lenzini, who was killed in Italy in 1945, and Brazilian Isabel Cristina Mrad Campos, who was murdered in 1982 at the age of 20 for resisting rape.



Following a meeting with Cardinal-elect Marcello Semeraro, the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the pope also approved miracles attributed to three founders of religious orders.



Blessed Fr. Giustino Maria Russolillo (1891-1955) can now be canonized after the pope approved a second miracle attributed to his intercession, involving the healing in 2016 of a religiouswith serious respiratory damage belonging tothe order he founded in Naples, according to Vatican News.



Russolillo was a parish priest in Naples who was highly regarded as a spiritual director and preacher. He founded the Society of Divine Vocations, also known as the Vocationist Fathers, and the Congregation of the Sisters of Divine Vocations.



Pope Francis also approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of a blind Polish nun, Venerable Róża Maria Czacka (1876-1961).



Czacka suffered from eye problems at an early age and completely lost her sight at the age of 22. She devoted her life to helping other people who were blind, founding an educational facility for the blind in Warsaw in 1909.



This work led her to find her religious calling, and in 1918 shefounded the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters, Servants of the Cross, dedicated to serving the blind.



Anotherfounder who can nowbe beatified is Venerable Maria Lorenza Requenses in Longo, a 15th-century Spanish noblewoman who founded the Hospital of the Incurables in Naples and a monastery of Capuchin nuns after she was widowed.



With the decree from the Congregation of the Causes of Saints, the pope also recognized the heroic virtue of Brazilian Brother Roberto Giovanni (1903-1994) of the Congregation of the Sacred Stigmata, who dedicated his long life to serving the poor and the sick, and the heroic virtue of Maria Teresa of the Heart of Jesus (1844-1908),co-founder of the Handmaids of the Divine Heart of Jesus in Spain.

source: Vatican News

Pope Francis bestows pallium on new Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

Vatican City, Oct 28, 2020 / 09:00 am ().- Pope Francis on Wednesday bestowed the pallium on the newly appointed Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.



The pope gave the pallium to Patriarch Pierbattista PizzaballaOct. 28 during morning Mass in the chapel of the Vatican’s Santa Marta residence.



Pallia are white woolen vestments adorned with six black silk crosses given to metropolitan archbishops. They symbolize the metropolitan bishop’s authority and unity with the Holy See.



Pizzaballa was named the new Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem by Pope Francis Oct. 24. The Italian archbishop had served as apostolic administrator of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem since 2016.



The appointment of the 55-year-old Franciscan friar ended a four-year wait for a new patriarch forthe estimated 293,000 Latin Catholics in Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan, and Cyprus.



Pizzaballa has lived in the Holy Land since 1990. The former Franciscan Custos of the Holy Land succeeds Jordanian-born Patriarch Emeritus Fouad Twal, who led the patriarchate from 2008 to 2016.



Pizzaballa speaks Italian, Hebrew, and English. The appointment of a non-Arab to the seat promptedmixed reactions, according toArab News.



The new patriarch said in a message to local Catholics that he knewthere wouldbe challenging moments ahead.



“I am sure that together we will be able to look to tomorrow with confidence, as it has been until now,” he said.



The pallium Pizzaballa received was blessed by Pope Francis at a Mass for the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul June 29. The Benedictine Sisters of St. Cecilia in Trastevere weave the wool they are made from.



Formerly, the new metropolitan bishops would be invested with the pallia by the pope at the same June 29 Mass, but in 2015Francis changed this policy to have the bishops be invested with the pallia in their new diocese by the local apostolic nuncio.



The title of “metropolitan bishop” refers to the diocesan bishop or archbishop of a metropolis, which is the primary city of an ecclesiastical province or region.

source: Vatican News

Pope Francis appeals for peace in Cameroon after deadly school attack

Vatican City, Oct 28, 2020 / 08:00 am ().- Pope Francis appealed for an end to violence in Cameroon Wednesday after seven students were killed in an attack on a school in the city of Kumba.



“I participate in the suffering of the families of the young students barbarically killed last Saturday in Kumba, in Cameroon. I feel great bewilderment at such a cruel and senseless act, which tore the young innocents from life while they were attending lessons at school,” Pope Francis said at the end of his general audience Oct. 28.



“May God enlighten hearts, so that similar gestures may never be repeated again and so that the tormented regions of the northwest and southwest of the country may finally find peace. I hope that the weapons will remain silent and that the safety of all and the right of every young person to education and the future can be guaranteed.”



Gunmen attacked Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy, a school in Cameroon’s Southwest region, on Oct. 24 and opened fire on students in a classroom. A local education official told Reuters that all seven victims of the attack were between 12 and14 years old.



Bishop Agapitus Nfon of Kumba will offer a Mass for the repose of the souls of the murdered students and for the consolation of their bereaved families at the diocese’s Sacred Heart Cathedral Oct. 30.



“We shall also pray for the forgiveness and conversion of the Herod(s), the perpetrators of this heinous and barbarous act, while asking our loving Father in heaven to intervene for a lasting solution to be found so that true justice and peace may reign,” Bishop Nfon said in a statement shared with ACI Africa, CNA’s African news partner.



“Let us pray that by the power of the Holy Spirit He may turn the wicked and stone hearts of the Herod(s) (the murderers of our children) into hearts of love and flesh.”



The school attack took place amid conflictbetween separatists and government forces in the English-speaking territories in the country’s Northwest Region and Southwest Region. Tensions escalatedafter Francophone teachers and judges were sent to work in the historically marginalized Anglophone regions in 2016, and the disputehas come to be known as the Anglophone Crisis.



Schools in the Anglophone regions of the nation, which is locatedat the junction of western and central Africa, were previously closed due to the skirmishes. In September, separatist leaders in the country called for the resumption of schoolingin the warring regions. The government announced the reopening of learning institutions for Oct.5.



After the attack, Bishop Nfon questioned this reversal on the region’s schools: “Were they not allowed to go to school by those who previously restricted them for the past four years? How could they then ask children to go to school and turn around to massacre them?”



The bishop also noted that thekillings cameless than a year after 22 people, including children and pregnant women, were killed in another attack in the Diocese of Kumbo in the Ngarbuh village in February.



“What is holding back those concerned, I mean the international bodies and the government of Cameroon, to look for a lasting solution to this problem that will restore justice and peace?” the bishop asked.



“We are painfully weeping and pondering; what is so important other than peace that will make us sit back in indifference and watch tender and precious lives being wasted away?”

source: Vatican News

Pope Francis supports Polish Catholics in fight against abortion

Vatican City, Oct 28, 2020 / 05:07 am ().-



Pope Francis told Polish Catholics Wednesday that he asks St. John Paul II’s intercession for respect for life, amid protests in Poland over a law prohibiting abortion.



“Through the intercession of Mary Most Holy and the holy Polish pontiff, I ask God to inspire in the hearts of all respect for the life of our brothers, especially of the most fragile and defenseless, and to give strength to those who welcome it and take it care, even when it requires heroic love,” Pope Francis said Oct. 28 in his message to Polish pilgrims.



The pope’s comments came days after Poland’s constitutional court ruled that a law permitting abortion for fetal abnormalities was unconstitutional on Oct. 22. Protestors were filmed interrupting Sunday Masses following the ruling.



Pope Francis noted that Oct. 22 was the feast of St. John Paul II, and recalled: “He always appealed for a privileged love for the least and the defenseless, and for the protection of every human being from conception until natural death.”



In his general audience catechesis, the pope said that it wasimportant to remember that “Jesus prays with us”.



“This is the unique greatness of Jesus’prayer: the Holy Spirit takes possession of His person and the voice of the Father attests that He is the beloved, the Son in whom He fully reflects Himself,” Pope Francis said in Vatican City’s Paul VI Audience Hall.



Jesus invites each Christian to “pray as He prayed,” the pope said, adding that Pentecost provided this “grace of prayer for all those baptised in Christ.”



“Therefore, if during an evening of prayer we feel sluggish and empty, if it seems to us that life has been completely useless, we must at that moment beg that Jesus’prayer also become our own. ‘I cannot pray today, I don’t know what to do: I don’t feel like it, I am unworthy.’”



“In that moment … entrust yourself to Him, that He may pray for us. He in this moment is before the Father, praying for us, He is the intercessor; He shows the wounds to the Father, for us. Let us trust in this, it is great,” he said.



The pope said that in prayer one can hear God’s words to Jesus at his baptism at the Jordan River whispered tenderly as a message for each person: “You are God’sbeloved, you are a son, you are the joy of the Father in heaven.”



Because of his Incarnation, “Jesus is not a distant God,” the pope explained.



“In the whirlwind of life and the world that will come to condemn him, even in the hardest and most sorrowful experiences He will have to endure, even when He experiences that he has no place to lay His head, even when hatred and persecution are unleashed around Him, Jesus is never without the refuge of a dwelling place: He dwells eternally in the Father,” Pope Francis said.



“Jesus gave us His own prayer, which is His loving dialogue with the Father. He gave it to us like a seed of the Trinity, which He wants to take root in our hearts. Let us welcome him. Let us welcome this gift, the gift of prayer. Always with Him,” he said.



The pope noted in his greeting to Italian pilgrims that Oct. 28 is the feast of the Apostles Sts. Simon and Jude.



“I urge you to follow their example in always putting Christ at the center of your life, to be true witnesses of his Gospel in our society,” he said. “I wish everyone to grow every day in the contemplation of goodness and of tenderness that radiates from the person of Christ.”

source: Vatican News

Focolare Movement will review handling of abuse allegations

CNA Staff, Oct 27, 2020 / 08:00 pm ().-



The Focolare Movement will initiate an independent review of its handling of sexual abuse allegations.



Leaders responsible for the lay movement’s activities in France resigned from their positions this month, as the group addressed concerns that it did not properly address a former consecrated member of the movement who admitted to sexually abusing a minor, and is alleged to have committed numerous other acts of sexual abuse.



“The Focolare Movement has...decided to institute a special inquiry that will be entrusted to an independent Body the composition of which will be made public shortly.”



“The task of this Body will be to listen to the victims and to gather further testimonies, as well as investigating whether there were any omissions, cover ups or silences on the part of those responsible for the Movement. At the end of the investigation, the independent Body will make its final report public,” said an Oct. 22 statement from the Focolare Movement’s headquarters in Rome.



The statement addressed allegations concerning a former consecrated member of the group, who admitted in 1998 to having sexually abused a minor, and was dismissed from the movement in 2016.



The Focolare statement said the member, identified only as J.M.M., is presumed to have had other victims, according to a finding from the independent Commission on sexual abuse in the Church in France.



The member was in 1994 accused of sexually abusing a male victim in 1981 and 1982, when the alleged victim was 15 and 16 years old. He was not tried for the crime because of the criminal statute of limitations, but he did admit the molestation during a lawsuit in 1998, and was required to pay damages.



J.M.M “followed a psychotherapeutic path for a number of years,” the statement said, but he was not dismissed from the group until 2016, after his victim contacted Focolare leaders and the French bishops’ conference.



“In November 2019, the independent Commission on sexual abuse in the Church in France (CIASE) received notification concerning the presence of other presumed victims of J.M.M.,” the Focolare statement said.



Last month, the group held a meeting with some alleged victims of J.M.M,, at which one Focolare official expressed his shame for abuse suffered in the group, “and also for the silence or lack of initiative sustained for years on the part of various people in positions of responsibility.”



“Faced with this immense suffering, we are convinced that the only path to follow is that of offering the victims full attention and recognition of the harm done. I wish here to reiterate the Movement’s full and unconditional collaboration, to shed full light on the facts and do justice to the victims,” Maria Voce, president of the Focolare Movement said in a statement.



Founded in Italy in 1943, the Focolare Movement is a lay-led organization that promotes Christian unity and solidarity. There are formally 140,444 members of the Focolare movement, including some men and women who live forms of consecrated life. Beyond formal members, there are millions worldwide who participate in projects and initiatives of the Focolare Movement.





source: Vatican News

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