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Pope Francis: St. Jerome gave ‘uncompromising witness to the truth’

Vatican City, Sep 30, 2020 / 02:18 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis Wednesday highlighted the life and figure of St. Jerome in an apostolic letter for the 1,600th anniversary of the Doctor of the Church’s death.

St. Jerome “emerges as a model of uncompromising witness to the truth that employs the harshness of reproof in order to foster conversion,” the pope wrote Sept. 30. “By the intensity of his expressions and images, he shows the courage of a servant desirous not of pleasing others, but his Lord alone ... for whose sake he expended all his spiritual energy.”

The pope's letter, Scripturae sacrae affectus, detailed the life, work, and personality of St. Jerome, and considered how Catholics can learn from him today.

Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, told CNA that “there is much to savor in Pope Francis’s marvelous letter on St. Jerome.  But what I found most uplifting was his insistence that young people, following the example of the great saint, should see the intellectual exploration of the faith as a true spiritual path.”

“The Pope wants Catholic schools, universities, and catechetical programs to inculcate in young searchers the tools necessary to plumb the depths of the great theological tradition, at the heart of which is study of the Bible,” Barron added.

By his letter, “Francis is reiterating the call of Dei Verbum, the great Vatican II document on Revelation, that there should be a revival of Biblical study in the life of the Church,” Bishop Barron said.

In the letter, Pope Francis said that the anniversary of the saint’s death “can be seen as a summons to love what Jerome loved, to rediscover his writings and to let ourselves be touched by his robust spirituality, which can be described in essence as a restless and impassioned desire for a greater knowledge of the God who chose to reveal himself.”

“How can we not heed, in our day, the advice that Jerome unceasingly gave to his contemporaries: ‘Read the divine Scriptures constantly; never let the sacred volume fall from your hand’?” the pope asked.

Jared Staudt, an associate professor of theology at the Augustine Institute in Denver, Colorado, told CNA that the pope's letter recognizes an important saint for contemporary Christians.

“I’m very happy to see Pope Francis highlighting the 1600th anniversary of Jerome’s death. There are certain personalities that rise above the ebb and flow of history. Jerome truly stands as a man for all times, and has much to teach us about learning, culture, and holiness. A feisty personality, who could enter into a strong disagreement, he remained above all a faithful man of the Church,” Staudt said.

“Francis has called for greater literacy of the Gospel and the great heritage of Catholic culture. Following St. Jerome, Catholics should enter more deeply into the study of the Bible, as well as the great works of classical and Christian literature, overcoming our culture’s lack of substance to be able  to serve as ‘credible interpreters and translators of our own cultural tradition,’” the theologian added.

In his letter, Pope Francis made a particular appeal to young people, challenging them to explore their intellectual and spiritual heritage as Christians.

“Christianity makes you heirs of an unsurpassed cultural patrimony of which you must take ownership,” he urged. “Be passionate about this history which is yours.”

The pope's letter said that many people in contemporary society lack religious literacy; that “the hermeneutic skills that make us credible interpreters and translators of our own cultural tradition are in short supply,” he argued.

Young people, he said, should be given the opportunity to learn “how the quest of religious truth can be a passionate adventure that unites heart and mind; how the thirst for God has inflamed great minds throughout the centuries up to the present time; how growth in the spiritual life has influenced theologians and philosophers, artists and poets, historians and scientists.”

Staudt affirmed the pope's recognition of the intellectual life.

“The intellectual life remains a crucial element of the Christian apostolate. Christ is the Word and our own minds must become attuned to his truth. St. Jerome reminds us in Catholic education of the importance of understanding words  and meaning so that we can enter into the revelation of the Word of God. Attention to the words of Scripture requires effort and is meant to lead us into an encounter of prayerful contemplation,” Staudt explained.

“St. Jerome used his extensive classical learning, purified by years of fasting and penance, at the service of the Church. With the huge spike in classical education in recent years, Jerome provides a model of integrating a robust intellectual life with an ardent pursuit of holiness,” the theologian explained. “His grasp of grammar and rhetoric were profound, yet he used them in humble service of the Gospel.”

Pope Francis said there are two dimensions which characterize St. Jerome and help his personality to be understood: one is his “absolute and austere consecration to God” and the other is his “commitment to diligent study, aimed purely at an ever deeper understanding of the Christian mystery.”

St. Jerome also serves as a model for monks and for scholars, “who should always keep in mind that knowledge has religious value only if it is grounded in an exclusive love for God, apart from all human ambition and worldly aspiration,” Francis noted.

Jerome lived from around 345 to 420. He spent much of his life in Rome or in the Holy Land, where he died.

The Doctor of the Church translated, among many other works, the books of Scripture into Latin, giving the Church what is known as the “Vulgate.”

“Francis points out that Jerome’s Vulgate stimulated the development of Christian culture. As Catholics return more and more to the study of Scripture, we can hope that this will reorder our minds, imaginations, and hearts to guide us in our own needed work of rebuilding. Like Jerome, we must translate and transmit the Gospel to our generation, allowing the Word of God to shape our efforts in the New Evangelization,” Staudt said.

In addition to his Scriptural translation, St. Jermone also wrote numerous letters on Scripture and is known to have used somewhat polemical language.

Pope Francis explained that “if, as a true ‘Lion of Bethlehem,’ he could be violent in his language, it was always in the service of a truth to which he was unconditionally committed.”

He added that the polemical dimension of the saint’s writings can be best understood if read in light of the authentic prophetic tradition of the time.

Jerome studied Scripture because it “led him to know Christ,” the pope also noted. “Jerome saw his studies not as a pleasant pastime and an end unto itself, but rather as a spiritual exercise and a means of drawing closer to God.”

The pope’s letter also urged Catholics to rediscover Scripture with St. Jerome as a guide, because “he leads every reader to the mystery of Jesus.”

In his writings, the saint did this, he stated, by “responsibly and systematically providing the exegetical and cultural information needed for a correct and fruitful reading of the Scriptures.”

St. Jerome had many skills, the pope said: “competence in the languages in which the Word of God was handed down, careful analysis and examination of manuscripts, detailed archeological research, as well as knowledge of the history of interpretation… This outstanding aspect of the activity of Saint Jerome is also of great importance for the Church in our own time.”

Pointing to Dei verbum, one of the central documents of the Second Vatican Council, dedicated to Divine Revelation, he said if “the Bible constitutes as it were ‘the soul of sacred theology’ and the spiritual support of the Christian life, the interpretation of the Bible must necessarily be accompanied by specific skills.”

“Sadly, the richness of Scripture is neglected or minimized by many because they were not afforded a solid grounding in this area,” he said.

“Together with a greater emphasis on the study of Scripture in ecclesiastical programmes of training for priests and catechists, efforts should also be made to provide all the faithful with the resources needed to be able to open the sacred book and draw from it priceless fruits of wisdom, hope and life.”

Pope Francis recognizes miracle attributed to Italian laywoman who died in 1997

Vatican City, Sep 30, 2020 / 10:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis advanced the sainthood cause Tuesday of an Italian woman who died in 1997 after touching the lives of thousands of people despite suffering from progressive paralysis.  

The pope authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints Sept. 29 to promulgate a decree recognizing a miracle attributed to Gaetana “Nuccia” Tolomeo, paving the way for her beatification.

He also authorized decrees relating to four priests killed during the Spanish Civil War and two founders of religious orders. 

This was the first time that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints had promulgated decrees since its prefect, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, resigned Sept. 24. 

Gaetana Tolomeo was born on April 10, 1936, in Catanzaro, the capital of the Calabria region of Italy. Known to all as “Nuccia,” she was confined to a bed or a chair for the 60 years of her life. 

She devoted her life to prayer, especially the rosary, which she held at all times. She began to attract visitors, including priests, nuns, and lay people, who sought her advice.

In 1994, she started to appear as a guest on a local radio station, using the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel and reach out to the imprisoned, prostitutes, drug addicts, and families in crisis.  

According to an Italian website dedicated to her cause, two months before her death on January 24, 1997, she summed up her life in a message to young people.

She said: “I am Nuccia, I am 60 years old, all spent on a bed; my body is twisted, in everything I must depend on others, but my spirit has remained young. The secret of my youth and my joy of living is Jesus. Alleluia!”

In addition to the miracle attributed to Tolomeo’s intercession, the pope recognized the martyrdom of Fr. Francesco Cástor Sojo López and three companions. The four priests, belonging to the Diocesan Laborer Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, were killed “in odium fidei,” or in hatred of the faith, between 1936 and 1938. Following the decree, they may now be beatified.

The pope also approved the heroic virtues of Mother Francisca Pascual Domenech (1833-1903), the Spanish founder of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate, and of Mother María Dolores Segarra Gestoso (1921-1959), Spanish founder of the Missionaries of Christ the Priest.

Pope Francis calls for new economic model to rebuild post-coronavirus world

Vatican City, Sep 30, 2020 / 06:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis called Wednesday for a new economic model to help rebuild the world after the coronavirus pandemic. 

In his general audience address in the San Damaso Courtyard, within the Vatican’s apostolic palace, Sept. 30, the pope criticized “trickle-down theory,” which proposes that tax breaks for high-earners will ultimately yield economic benefits for the rest of society.

He said: “And certainly we cannot expect the economic model that underlies unfair and unsustainable development to solve our problems. It has not and will not, because it cannot do so, even though some false prophets continue to promise the ‘trickle-down’ that never comes.” 

He added: “You have heard yourselves, the theory of the glass: it is important that the glass is full, and then overflows to the poor and to others, and they receive wealth. But there is a phenomenon: the glass starts to fill up and when it is almost full it grows, it grows and it grows, and never overflows. We must be careful.”

Today’s general audience address concluded a catechetical cycle entitled “Healing the world,” which the pope launched Aug. 5. The cycle focused on how the Church’s social doctrine can help the world to recover from the ravages of COVID-19, which has killed more than a million people worldwide. 

The series of addresses touched on themes that he is expected to develop in his new encyclical, Fratelli tutti, which will be published on Sunday.

The audience began with a reading in several languages from Hebrews 12:1-2, in which St. Paul the Apostle urges Christians to keep their “eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith.”

Reviewing the catechetical cycle, the pope said: “In recent weeks we have reflected together, in the light of the Gospel, on how to heal the world that is suffering from a malaise that the pandemic has highlighted and accentuated. The malaise was already there: the pandemic highlighted it more, it accentuated it.” 

“We have walked the paths of dignity, solidarity and subsidiarity, paths that are essential to promote human dignity and the common good. And as disciples of Jesus, we have proposed to follow in His steps, opting for the poor, rethinking the use of material goods and taking care of our common home.” 

He continued: “In the midst of the pandemic that afflicts us, we have anchored ourselves to the principles of the social doctrine of the Church, letting ourselves be guided by faith, by hope and by charity. Here we have found solid help so as to be transformers who dream big, who are not stopped by the meanness that divides and hurts, but who encourage the generation of a new and better world.”



He challenged pilgrims, who were sat spaced apart in the courtyard as a safety measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, to keep their eyes fixed on Christ. 

“Jesus, who renews and reconciles every creature, gives us the gifts necessary to love and heal as He knew how to do, to take care of all without distinction on the basis of race, language or nation,” he said.

To prepare for this healing mission, he explained, it was essential to “contemplate and appreciate the beauty of every human being and every creature,” recognizing Christ especially in the poor and suffering. 



He said that Christians were called to help society emerge from the pandemic in “a human way,” rather than a “mechanical way,” displaying the tenderness that is “the very sign of Jesus’ presence.”

He said: “A small virus continues to cause deep wounds and to expose our physical, social, and spiritual vulnerabilities. It has laid bare the great inequality that reigns in the world: inequality of opportunity, inequality of goods, inequality of access to health care, inequality of technology, education: millions of children cannot go to school, and so the list goes on.” 

“These injustices are neither natural nor inevitable. They are the work of man, they come from a model of growth detached from the deepest values ... And this has made many people lose hope and has increased uncertainty and anguish. That is why, to come out of the pandemic, we must find the cure not only for the coronavirus -- which is important! -- but also for the great human and socio-economic viruses.”

He continued: “We need to set to work urgently to generate good policies, to design systems of social organization that reward participation, care and generosity, rather than indifference, exploitation and particular interests.” 

“We must go ahead with tenderness. A fair and equitable society is a healthier society. A participatory society -- where the “last” are taken into account just like the “first” -- strengthens communion. A society where diversity is respected is much more resistant to any kind of virus.”

Concluding the address with a reflection on the kingdom of heaven, he said: “May God grant us to ‘viralize’ love and to ‘globalize’ hope in the light of faith.”



After his address, the pope offered a special greeting to new seminarians who arrived recently in Rome to begin their formation at the Pontifical North American College, as well as to deacons. 

He said: “May the Lord sustain their efforts to be faithful servants of the Gospel. Upon all of you and your families I invoke the joy and peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!”

Greeting Polish pilgrims, the pope noted that October is traditionally dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary. 

“Be faithful to your custom of praying the rosary in your communities and especially in your families,” he said. “Reflecting every day on the mysteries of Mary’s life in the light of the salvific work of her Son, let her participate in your joys, your worries and moments of happiness. May God bless you through her hands!”

Moneyval evaluation begins at Vatican

Vatican City, Sep 30, 2020 / 05:00 am (CNA).- The Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering watchdog, Moneyval, began its two-week on-site inspection of the Holy See and Vatican City Wednesday.

According to a Vatican statement Sept. 30, “the scope of this phase of evaluations” is to assess “the effectiveness of the legislative and institutional measures” adopted by the Holy See and Vatican City in recent years.

This evaluation follows Moneyval’s first on-site visit to the Vatican in 2012, as well as three progress reports, the last of which was in December 2017, the statement said.

Moneyval carries out the same evaluations on all its member jurisdictions.

Carmelo Barbagallo, president of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority, described the inspection as “especially important.” “Its outcome may determine how the jurisdiction [of the Vatican] is perceived by the financial community,” he said on July 3.

After the 2012 visit, the Vatican agreed to comply with a set of “recommendations” from Moneyval, incorporating them into internal policies. The two bodies have issued periodic updates on the Vatican’s progress. 

The 2020 evaluation will likely be looking to see how well these recommendations have been incorporated by Vatican offices, and at the role of APSA, which functions as the Holy See treasury, sovereign wealth manager, and administers payroll and operating expenses for Vatican City. 

Cardinal Becciu's lawyer resigns over social media photos

CNA Staff, Sep 29, 2020 / 02:30 pm (CNA).-  

The lawyer representing Cardinal Angelo Becciu has resigned over criticism of his social media activities.

Ivano Iai, who had been handling legal and media matters for the cardinal and his family, announced that he had withdrawn from the case after criticism of pictures he posted on social media.

Iai, apparently a recreational body-builder, posted a series of photographs of himself in revealing swimwear on different social media sites, including Instagram and Twitter. In the photos, Iai appears in seaside settings, and strikes a number of attitudes and poses, including arching backwards across a rock and sporting playfully in the surf.

The attorney's Instagram account has now been set to private.

Iai served as attorney and spokesman for Cardinal Becciu and his family after the cardinal's resignation last week. The lawyer confirmed to CNA Sept. 29 that he had quit the role.

“I gave up the job," Iai said in a statement sent to CNA on Tuesday, saying he was “sorry” that his social media presence had added to the difficulties of the cardinal and his family.

“With great sorrow I communicate that I have renounced the mandate given to me by the Becciu family who honored me with their uncommon trust and affection,” Iai said.

Iai’s resignation comes after mounting criticism and mockery online of his social media presence, including by the tabloid site Dagospia.

The lawyer told Italian news site Adnkronos that images he posted of himself were meant to be “lighthearted” and he “never ever” imagined they would create a problem for his high-profile clients.

“It saddens me to have had to be the cause of further affliction which adds to the unjust sufferings suffered in these days by His Eminence Cardinal Becciu and his family members,” Iai said in his statement to CNA.

The lawyer called the Becciu family “examples of uncommon honesty and correctness - and worthy of having the best defense in a matter so very complex.”

Becciu, the former head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, resigned on Thursday following an unscheduled meeting with Pope Francis in which the pope told the cardinal he had lost his trust and ordered him to step down. The following morning, Italian newspaper L’Espresso published a story accusing Becciu of using his positions in the curia to funnel money to members of his own family.

The cardinal's resignation followed more than a year of reporting by CNA and other news outlets on various financial scandals involving Becciu and the Holy See’s Secretariat of State, where he served as sostituto for seven years, until he was made a cardinal and placed in charge of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in 2018.

Many of those reports stemmed from the Secretariat’s controversial investments, including the purchase of a London property for hundreds of millions of dollars.

Since October, investigators in Vatican City have conducted several raids on different Vatican departments in connection with the London property deal and connected investments. Investigators raided offices at the secretariat and the AIF, the Vatican’s financial watchdog, seizing computers and phones and resulting in the suspension of several members of staff.

After those raids, investigators also raided the home and offices of Msgr. Alberto Perlasca, who worked closely with Becciu at the Secretariat of State.

In June, Vatican authorities arrested Italian businessman Gianluigi Torzi, who helped broker the final sale of the London building.

In July, Italian police served a search and seizure warrant on Raffaele Mincione, an associate of Torzi’s, through whom the Vatican invested hundreds of millions of dollars. The warrant was issued at the request of Vatican prosecutors. Investigators took away cell phones and tablets for examination in relation to the case. Mincione has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and earlier this year filed a lawsuit against the Secretariat of State in a U.K. court, asking a judge to rule he acted in good faith in his dealings with the Vatican.

Iai’s most recent communication on behalf of Cardinal Becciu, released Monday, announced that he had filed complaints on behalf of the Becciu family “for violation of the criminal provisions on slander and aggravated defamation and prohibition of disclosure of office and investigation secrets, [and] cases of corruptive malpractice.”

Iai said that “the illegal leakage of confidential information and documents continuously disclosed by the media in a distorted and disparaging form” had “led to the committing of further crimes and the infringement of the rights of various interested parties.”

Iai did not specify which media were the subject of his complaints, or to what authority he had submitted them.

Vatican official hails ‘positive’ results of China deal amid report that Holy See delegation is heading to Beijing

Vatican City, Sep 29, 2020 / 10:00 am (CNA).- A Vatican official hailed the “positive” results of the Holy See’s provisional agreement with China Tuesday amid reports that a Holy See delegation is heading to Beijing to extend the deal.

In an article published on the front page of the Sept. 30 edition of L’Osservatore Romano, Andrea Tornielli said that the initial two-year pact had led to new episcopal appointments approved by Rome, some of which were also officially recognized by the Chinese government. 

“Even though contact was blocked in recent months due to the pandemic, the results have been positive, although limited, and suggest going forward with the application of the agreement for another determined period of time,” the editorial director of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication wrote in the article, which was posted on the Vatican News website Sept. 29.

A report published the same day by the Italian newspaper La Stampa said that a Holy See delegation would depart for Beijing “in the next few days” with the aim of renewing the deal.

Representatives of the Holy See and China signed the provisional agreement on Sept. 22, 2018. The text, which has never been made public, concerned the appointment of bishops -- a long-running source of disagreement between the Catholic Church and the Chinese Communist Party.

The deal went into effect a month after it was approved and will expire Oct. 22. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin told journalists earlier this month that the Holy See intended to renew the agreement, which it adopted “ad experimentum,” or provisionally. 

Cardinal Joseph Zen, the retired bishop of Hong Kong, told CNA earlier this month that the Church’s silence on human rights abuses in China as it sought to extend the deal would harm efforts to evangelize the country.

He said: “The resounding silence will damage the work of evangelization. Tomorrow when people will gather to plan the new China, the Catholic Church may not be welcome.”

Tornielli’s article appeared shortly before U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was due to arrive in Rome for talks with Parolin and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Vatican Secretary for Relations with States.

In an exclusive interview with CNA Sept. 25, Pompeo said that he planned to discuss human rights violations in China, and urge Vatican officials to speak out about Chinese persecution of religious groups.

He observed that the plight of religious believers had worsened since Chinese President Xi Jinping came to power in 2013.

“The Church has an enormous amount of moral authority and we want to encourage them to use that moral authority, to improve the conditions for believers, certainly Catholic believers, but believers of all faiths inside of China, and so that’s the conversation that we’ll have,” he said.

In his article, Tornielli emphasized that the agreement did not touch on diplomatic relations between the Holy See and China, which Beijing broke off in 1951. Nor did it concern “the juridical status of the Catholic Chinese Church, or the relations between the clergy and the country’s authorities.”

“The Provisional Agreement exclusively treats the process for the appointment of bishops: an essential question for the life of the Church and for the necessary communion between the pastors of the Chinese Catholic Church with the Bishop of Rome and with the bishops throughout the world,” he wrote. 

“The goal of the Provisional Agreement, therefore, has never been merely diplomatic, much less, political, but was always genuinely pastoral. Its objective is to permit the Catholic faithful to have bishops in full communion with the Successor of Peter who are at the same time recognized by the authorities of the People’s Republic of China.”

When CNA asked Zen if he saw any prospect that Vatican negotiations with the current Communist government would lead to improvements for the local Church, he said simply “No.”

“Is there any choice between helping the government to destroy the Church or resisting the government to keep our Faith?” he asked.

Pope Francis names leading physicist to pontifical academy

Vatican City, Sep 29, 2020 / 06:30 am (CNA).- Pope Francis appointed the director-general of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) Tuesday to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. 

The Holy See press office said Sept. 29 that the pope had named Fabiola Gianotti as an “ordinary member” of the academy.

Gianotti, an Italian experimental particle physicist, is the first female director-general of CERN, which operates the world’s largest particle accelerator at its laboratory on the border between France and Switzerland.

Last year, Gianotti became the first director-general since CERN was founded in 1954 to be re-elected for a second full five-year term. 

On July 4, 2012, she announced the discovery of the Higgs Boson particle, sometimes referred to as the “God particle,” whose existence was first predicted by the theoretical physicist Peter Higgs in the 1960s.

In 2016, she was elected to her first term as director-general of CERN, home to the Large Hadron Collider, an almost 17-mile ring under the Franco-Swiss border which started operating in 2008. Her second term will begin Jan. 1, 2021.

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences traces its roots back to the Academy of the Lynxes (Accademia dei Lincei), one of the world’s first exclusively scientific academies, founded in Rome in 1603. The short-lived academy’s members included the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei. 

Pope Pius IX re-established the academy as the Pontifical Academy of the New Lynxes in 1847. Pope Pius XI gave it its current name in 1936.

One of the current members, who are known as “ordinary academicians,” is Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

Past members include scores of Nobel Prize-winning scientists, such as Guglielmo Marconi, Max Planck, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, and Erwin Schrödinger, known for the “Schrödinger’s cat” thought experiment.

A 2018 New York Times profile described Gianotti as “one of the most important physicists in the world.”

Asked about science and the existence of God, she said: “There is no unique answer. There are people who say, ‘Oh, what I observe brings me to something beyond what I see,’ and there are people who say, ‘What I observe is what I believe, and I stop here.’ It’s enough to say that physics cannot demonstrate the existence or not of God.”

Archbishop Charles Brown appointed nuncio to the Philippines

Vatican City, Sep 28, 2020 / 06:01 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis on Monday appointed Archbishop Charles Brown as apostolic nuncio to the Philippines, a position which had been vacant since November.

The Sept. 28 appointment transfers Archbishop Brown, a New York native, from his role as nuncio to Albania.

Archbishop Brown was born Oct. 13, 1959, in New York.

He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of New York in 1989; he holds degrees from the University of Notre Dame, Oxford University, the University of Toronto, and the Anselmianun.

From 1994 to 2011 he worked at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and he was appointed apostolic nuncio to Ireland in November 2011. His episcopal consecration was held Jan. 6, 2012.

Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin said that during Archbishop Brown’s time in Ireland, he focused on renewing the bishops’ conference.

“He came among us as a diplomat, at a time when diplomacy was really needed, but he came with the heart of a pastor. Over the past five years, he has challenged us and encouraged us in equal measure,” Bishop Doran said.

“He was very supportive to us and was ready to do anything he could to help.”

Archbishop Brown remained in Ireland until 2017, when he was appointed apostolic nuncio to Albania.

Cardinal Becciu allegations mount as Vatican appoints new prosecutor

CNA Staff, Sep 28, 2020 / 05:28 pm (CNA).-  

Italian businessman Gianluigi Torzi has provided detailed information to investigators in the ongoing Vatican financial scandal, according to new reports. News of Torzi’s cooperation with prosecutors follows the resignation of Cardinal Angelo Becciu last week, and the announcement that Pope Francis has appointed a new prosecutor to strengthen the case.

As previously reported by CNA, Torzi was arrested by Vatican investigators in June, and charged with “extortion, embezzlement, aggravated fraud and self-laundering,” in relation to his part in the deal.

La Repubblica reported on Monday that, following his arrest, Torzi spent three days with Vatican authorities, walking them through details of the case, and that Italian authorities are now assisting the Vatican in tracking several hundred million euros of Vatican funds.

The Vatican also announced Monday that Pope Francis appointed an Italian lawyer and professor of commercial law to work as an additional prosecutor in the Vatican City State’s court, fueling expectation that Becciu and several of his former colleagues at the Secretariat of State could face criminal prosecution in Vatican City.

On the same day, Italian news site Domani carried a report that a brewing company owned by Cardinal Becciu’s brother received a 1.5 million euro loan from an African businessman with links to Becciu and the Secretariat of State. The loan was made by Angolan businessman Antonio Mosquito, a long-time acquaintance of Becciu, who served as apostolic nuncio to the African nation from 2001-2009.

In 2012, having moved to Rome as sostituto of the Secretariat of State, Becciu was involved in the secretariat’s consideration of a reported $200 million investment in Mosquito’s company Falcon Oil.

After vetting the deal for a year, the secretariat instead chose to invest the money with Italian businessman Raffaele Mincione, leading to the controversial purchase of a London building which kicked off the current investigation.

Mario Becciu told Domani that the money was intended to help children with autism.

Becciu resigned on Thursday following an unscheduled meeting with Pope Francis in which the pope told the cardinal he had lost his trust and ordered him to step down. The following morning, Italian newspaper L’Espresso published a story accusing Becciu of using his positions in the curia to funnel money to members of his own family.
 
Becciu’s resignation followed more than a year of reporting by CNA and other news outlets on various financial scandals involving Becciu and the Holy See’s Secretariat of State, where he served as sostituto for nearly a decade, until he was made a cardinal and placed in charge of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in 2018.
 
Many of those reports stemmed from the Secretariat’s controversial investments through Italian businessman Raffaele Mincione, an associate of Torzi’s, including the purchase from him of the London property for hundreds of millions of dollars.

In addition to Torzi’s arrest in June, Italian police served a search and seizure warrant on Mincione in July, issued at the request of Vatican prosecutors. Investigators took away cell phones and tablets for examination in relation to the case. Mincione has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and earlier this year filed a lawsuit against the Secretariat of State in a U.K. court, asking a judge to rule he acted in good faith in his dealings with the Vatican.

On Monday, lawyers for the Becciu family released a statement to the media saying that they had lodged official complaints for the “slander and aggravated defamation” of their clients and for “illegal leakage of confidential information and documents” to media. The release did not specify which media, or to whom the complaint had been made.
 
Since October, investigators in Vatican City have conducted several raids on different Vatican departments in connection with the London property deal and connected investments. Investigators raided offices at the secretariat and the AIF, the Vatican’s financial watchdog, seizing computers and phones and resulting in the suspension of several members of staff.

After those raids, investigators also raided the home and offices of Msgr. Alberto Perlasca, who worked closely with Becciu at the Secretariat of State.
 
 

 

 

 

Pope Francis meets Armenian Apostolic Church leader amid clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh

Vatican City, Sep 28, 2020 / 10:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis met with Armenian Apostolic Church leader Karekin II Sunday morning, moving up an appointment scheduled for Monday, because of growing clashes with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory.

Nagorno-Karabakh is an area internationally recognized as belonging to Azerbaijan but controlled by ethnic Armenians. Conflict over the enclave, which erupted into war from 1988 to 1994, has grown in recent months, with Turkey declaring support for Azerbaijan and other states calling for a diplomatic resolution. 

With new fighting at the border during the night of Sept. 26-27, Karekin II, known as the Catholicos of All Armenians, asked to move up his meeting with Pope Francis. The two met a day early, on the morning of Sept. 27, before the pope’s weekly Angelus address.

The focus of the approximately 40-minute meeting was the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, according to ACI Stampa, CNA’s partner agency, which spoke to Catholicos Karekin II before he left Rome Sept. 27.

“The pope expressed his concern and his pain. He also informed us that in his message at the Angelus he would reflect on the situation, which he then did,” Karekin II told ACI Stampa.

“I asked my beloved brother Francis to raise his voice so that justice and peace are restored,” he continued. “The meeting was very cordial, as always in the past, and we ended it by praying together for the restoration of peace.”

It was the sixth meeting between Pope Francis and the supreme head of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Karekin II said he believed that “it is important to resolve the situation, but at the same time it is important that the international media reflect and have a correct judgment on the situation that has arisen, in order to restore justice.”

He had to cancel planned meetings with Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, scheduled for Sept. 28.

He said he had a good relationship with both offices.

The Armenian Apostolic Church regards the apostles Bartholomew and Thaddeus as its founders. The Kingdom of Armenia became the first state to adopt Christianity as its official religion in the fourth century.

The Armenian Apostolic Church has an estimated nine million members worldwide, including around 97% of the almost three million people living in Armenia. It is one of six churches belonging to the Oriental Orthodox communion.

During a visit to Armenia in 2016, Pope Francis reiterated his desire for “full unity” with the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Pope Francis urged people to pray for peace in the Caucasus region after his Angelus address Sept. 27.

“I ask the parties to the conflict to make concrete gestures of goodwill and brotherhood, which can lead to solving problems not with the use of force and arms, but through dialogue and negotiation,” he said.

This was Francis’ second appeal for the region, after he said he was praying for the victims of clashes and their families following the Angelus July 19.