Category Archives: Holy See

New Cardinals by Pope Francis

TempestaAs was previously announced, on February 22, the Feast of the Chair of Peter, I will have the joy of holding a Consistory, during which I will name 16 new Cardinals, who, coming from 12 countries from every part of the world, represent the deep ecclesial relationship between the Church of Rome and the other Churches throughout the world. The following day [February 23] I will preside at a solemn concelebration with the new Cardinals, while on February 20 and 21 I will hold a Consistory with all the Cardinals to reflect on the theme of the family.

Here are the names of the new Cardinals:

1. Pietro Parolin, Titular Archbishop of Acquapendente, Secretary of State
2. Lorenzo Baldisseri, Titular Archbishop of Diocleziana, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops.
3. Gerhard Ludwig Műller, Archbishop-Bishop emeritus of Regensburg, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
4. Beniamino Stella, Titular Archbishop of Midila, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.
5. Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster (Great Britain).
6. Leopoldo José Brenes Solórzano, Archbishop of Managua (Nicaragua).
7. Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, Archbishop of Québec (Canada).
8. Jean-Pierre Kutwa, Archbishop of Abidjan (Ivory Coast).
9. Orani João Tempesta, O.Cist., Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil).
10. Gualtiero Bassetti, Archbishop of Perugia-Città della Pieve (Italy).
11. Mario Aurelio Poli, Archbishop of Buenos Aires (Argentina).
12. Andrew Yeom Soo jung, Archbishop of Seoul (Korea).
13. Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, S.D.B., Archbishop of Santiago del Cile (Chile).
14. Philippe Nakellentuba Ouédraogo, Archbishop of Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso).
15. Orlando B. Quevedo, O.M.I., Archbishop of Cotabato (Philippines).
16. Chibly Langlois, Bishop of Les Cayes (Haïti).

Together with them, I will join to the Members of the College of Cardinals three Archbishops emeriti distinguished for their service to the Holy See and to the Church.

They are:

1. Loris Francesco Capovilla, Titular Archbishop of Mesembria.
2. Fernando Sebastián Aguilar, C.M.F., Archbishop emeritus of Pamplona.
3. Kelvin Edward Felix, Archbishop emeritus of Castries.

Monsignors curbed

monsignorsIt was reported today that Pope Francis curbed the use of the ecclesiastical title of monsignor. Some priests I know will be mad and some will go on antidepressants. The papal directive is that the monsignor title will be not available for those under 65 and that when it is bestowed, it be the title of “Chaplain to His Holiness”; the other two titles are shelved (i.e., Prelate of Honor and Prothonatary Apostolic). Gerard O’Connell’s article in Vatican Insider is here.

In the archdiocese where I live there are few monsignori: for the last 30 plus years the archbishops have rarely bestowed the title on priests, though very  few have it. In neighboring dioceses like Bridgeport and New York priests crave the honor and too many feel they are entitled to it. Sadly, too many of those who have received the title of monsignor are sycophants and many unseemly characters who are less loyal to Jesus Christ and the sacrament of the Church than to his bishop. A bishop no longer in Connecticut used the title to reward those who he were behind him in all things–those who never questioned his authority; the criteria to judge a man’s worthiness was understood to be subjective.

In fact, and in my opinion, for a good many priests the discernment of service was too connected with preferment. The call to genuinely serve all people for ever really was sclerotic. Some monsignors would state that being a priest was difficult enough today and that they deserved a little bone now-and-again. The regular ministry of salvation of souls, spiritual and corporal works of mercy, preaching and the administration of sacraments was not enough, not meaningful enough.

Catholics are often happy with their parish priest’s genuine and holy “accomplishments” for the Church; they enjoyed the bishop’s recognition. But laboring in the Lord’s vineyard, no matter how long and how hard, does not warrant such reward. Some are arguing that doing away with outward ecclesiastical signs is a kind of iconoclasm. I doubt it. In fact, what the pope did is not iconoclasm by definition. Ecclesiastical titles neither create nor diminish careerism in the church, necessarily. The careerist attitude is born of another reality based on sin and not discipleship and apostleship. It is true we all like some measure of respect and acceptance for the bishop and society. Human nature will foster other ways for reward. We already of the mentality of the ‘better’ parish, the influential diocesan job, or a softer ministry, or “doing your own thing.”. Humanity can skirt the monsignor title with titles like “executive committee, ” the “Special Advisor to the Bishop” and “Senior Priest.” I am sure some bishop or clever canonist will devise something to reward the worthy.

The place of monsignori in a diocese is not really the only thing that needs reform. Careerism will still exist in a most horrible way with the translating a bishop from one See to another and the creation of auxiliary bishops. Again, we just had a bishop in the State who got “promoted” to a a larger diocese after leaving the diocese in great debt and seeking preferment. After all, he “deserved it.”

Is this move no the part of the Holy Father a jab at tradition? Perhaps, but I would not want to place that criticism on him. It seems to be true that “Pope Francis going back to older traditions” and that is what I think is key for us. An older tradition is sometimes best especially if there it is perceived to be less inclined to immature and sinful behavior. But I would look it this way: Pope Francis comes from a religious order that does not accept the mentality of preferment. The Society of Jesus has always been against, and rightly so, the notion of serving the Lord with the idea of reward in mind and heart. Following under the standard of the cross has a very deep meaning that I think is operative in Francis as the bishop of Rome.

The Jesuit Constitutions (Part X, N°6 [817]) based on experience and desire of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, is against Jesuits being made bishops. Bishops are not monsignors, I know. But the idea is the same when it comes to prelacy. Hence, a Jesuit priest when he makes his final profession in the Society of Jesus vows:

I also promise that I will never strive for or ambition any prelacy or dignity outside the Society; and I will to the best of my ability never consent to my election unless I am forced to do so by obedience to him who can order me under penalty of sin. And moreover, if I shall find out that anyone [another Jesuit] is seeking to secure anything of the two aforementioned things or is ambitioning them, I promise that I will communicate his name and the entire matter to the Society or its Superior.

Pope’s Christmas greetings to Roman Curia

color armsThe Holy Father meets with the Roman Curia typically on the Third Saturday of Advent in the Clementine Hall. In the past the papal address was longer and had a slightly different tone and content. Francis’ talk this year is spiritual with with a tone of fraternal correction aiming at a more substantive pastoral ministry for the of the person, and that of others. What the pope said to the curia is applicable to all. It ought to be attended to by all of us.

The Lord has enabled us to journey through Advent, and all too quickly we have come to these final days before Christmas.  They are days marked by a unique spiritual climate made up of emotions, memories and signs, both liturgical and otherwise, such as the creche…  It is in this climate that this traditional meeting takes place with you, the Superiors and Officials of the Roman Curia, who cooperate daily in the service of the Church.  I greet all of you with affection.  Allow me to extend a special greeting to Archbishop Pietro Parolin, who recently began his service as Secretary of State, and who needs our prayers!

While our hearts are full of gratitude to God, who so loved us that he gave us his only-begotten Son, it is also good to make room for gratitude to one another.  In this, my first Christmas as the Bishop of Rome, I also feel the need to offer sincere thanks to all of you as a community of service, and to each of you individually.  I thank you for the work which you do each day: for the care, diligence and creativity which you display; and for your effort I know it is not always easy – to work together in the office, both to listen to and challenge one another, and to bring out the best in all your different personalities and gifts, in a spirit of mutual respect.

In a particular way, I want to express my gratitude to those now concluding their service and approaching retirement.  As priests and bishops, we know full well that we never really retire, but we do leave the office, and rightly so, not least to devote ourselves a little more fully to prayer and the care of souls, starting with our own!  So a very special and heartfelt “thank you” goes to those of you who have worked here for so many years with immense dedication, hidden from the eyes of the world.  This is something truly admirable.  I have such high regard for these “Monsignori” who are cut from the same mould as the curiales of olden times, exemplary persons…  We need them today, too!  People who work with competence, precision and self-sacrifice in the fulfilment of their daily duties.  Here I would like to mention some of them by name, as a way of expressing my esteem and my gratitude, but we know that, in any list, the first names people notice are the ones that are missing!    Besides, I would also risk overlooking someone and thus committing an injustice and a lack of charity.  But I want to say to these brothers of ours that they offer a very important witness in the Church’s journey through history.

They are also an example, and their example and their witness make me think of two hallmarks of the curial official, and even more of curial superiors, which I would like to emphasize: professionalism and service.

Professionalism, by which I mean competence, study, keeping abreast of things…  This is a basic requisite for working in the Curia.  Naturally, professionalism is something which develops, and is in part acquired; but I think that, precisely for it to develop and to be acquired, there has to be a good foundation from the outset.

The second hallmark is service: service to the Pope and to the bishops, to the universal Church and to the particular Churches.  In the Roman Curia, one learns – in a special way, “one breathes in” – this twofold aspect of the Church, this interplay of the universal and the particular.  I think that this is one of the finest experiences of those who live and work in Rome: “to sense” the Church in this way.  When professionalism is lacking, there is a slow drift downwards towards mediocrity.  Dossiers become full of trite and lifeless information, and incapable of opening up lofty perspectives.  Then too, when the attitude is no longer one of service to the particular Churches and their bishops, the structure of the Curia turns into a ponderous, bureaucratic customshouse, constantly inspecting and questioning, hindering the working of the Holy Spirit and the growth of God’s people.

To these two qualities of professionalism and service, I would also like to add a third, which is holiness of life.  We know very well that, in the hierarchy of values, this is the most important.  Indeed, it is basic for the quality of our work, our service.  Here I would like to say that in the Roman Curia there have been, and still are, saints.  I have said this publicly on more than one occasion, as a way of thanking the Lord.  Holiness means a life immersed in the Spirit, a heart open to God, constant prayer, deep humility and fraternal charity in our relationships with our fellow workers.  It also means apostleship, discreet and faithful pastoral service, zealously carried out in direct contact with God’s people.  For priests, this is indispensable.

Holiness, in the Curia, also means conscientious objection.  Yes, conscientious objection to gossip!  We rightfully insist on the importance of conscientious objection, but perhaps we too need to exercise it as a means of defending ourselves from an unwritten law of our surroundings, which unfortunately is that of gossip.  So let us all be conscientious objectors; and mind you, I am not simply preaching!  For gossip is harmful to people, harmful to our work and our surroundings.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us feel close to one another on this final stretch of the road to Bethlehem.  We would do well to meditate on Saint Joseph, who was so silent yet so necessary at the side of Our Lady.  Let us think about him and his loving concern for his Spouse and for the Baby Jesus.  This can tell us a lot about our own service to the Church!   So let us experience this Christmas in spiritual closeness to Saint Joseph.  This will benefit all of us!

I thank you most heartily for your work and especially for your prayers.  Truly I feel “borne aloft” by your prayers and I ask you to continue to support me in this way.  I too remember you before the Lord, and I impart my blessing as I offer my best wishes for a Christmas filled with light and peace for each of you and for all your dear ones.  Happy Christmas!

Pope establishes commission for protection of minors, pastoral care of victims

Many in the world are watching the Church and how she is addressing the needs of a contemporary Church. The concerns of the College of Cardinals at the last papal election reflected the concerns of the faithful. With a good sense there a new things happening. One such innovation is Francis creating the Council of Cardinals to advise him on the administration of the Church. This work is being shared. Another innovation was announced today: a special commission will be set up to have oversight on matters pertaining to the protection of children and the pastoral care the victims. Clearly, this move of the Pope is a continuation of the good work of Pope Benedict regarding the sin and crime of sexual abuse. I pray that the commission will act decisively and with mercy and justice. 

Speaking for the Council of Cardinals, Sean Cardinal O’Malley gave this to the press at the Holy See:

At the briefing on Thursday morning, 5 December, at 1 p.m., alongside the Director of the Holy See Press Office, there participated Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, member of the Council of Cardinals, who gave the following Declaration:

“Continuing decisively along the lines undertaken by Pope Benedict XVI, and accepting a proposal presented by the Council of Cardinals, the Holy Father has decided to establish a specific Commission for the protection of minors, with the aim of advising Pope Francis on the Holy See’s commitment to the protection of children and in pastoral care for victims of abuse. Specifically, the Commission will:

1. study present programmes in place for the protection of children.

2. formulate suggestions for new initiatives on the part of the Curia, in collaboration with bishops, Episcopal conferences, religious superiors and conferences of religious superiors.

3. indicate the names of persons suited to the systematic implementation of these new initiatives, including lay persons, religious and priests with responsibilities for the safety of children, in relations with the victims, in mental health, in the application of the law, etc.

The composition and competences of the Commission will be indicated shortly, with more details from the Holy Father in an appropriate document.”

Cardinal O’Malley then quoted some of the lines of action proposed by the Commission under constitution.

* * *

The meetings will conclude tomorrow afternoon [Friday], completing the review of the different Congregations of the Roman Curia initiated during these recent days.

The next round of meetings is scheduled for the 17, 18 and 19 February, preceding the Consistory of the College of Cardinals due to take place on the 20 and 21 of the same month, and the Consistory for the Creation of new cardinals on 22 February, Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, and the solemn Concelebration of Sunday 23.
In addition, the meeting of the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops is scheduled to take place in the days immediately after (24-25 February).

Bearing the wound the clergy inflict

MahoneyMother Church, the sacrament of Jesus Christ on earth bears the wounds inflected on her by her clergy.

I cannot say whether this story, “For Roger Mahoney, clergy abuse cases were a threat to agenda,” published by the LA Times is without bias, but if it is objective in reporting the facts, then we have even more opportunities to pray, and to offer sacrifice for the offenses of the Catholic clergy; our education on the matter is not over, and we ought not to be complacent.

That the reporters and not Church hierarchy has written about this subject is indeed amazing. Say what you will about the media, the Church does owe a debt of gratitude for shedding light on a dark point of our history. I don’t think it is an exaggeration to say that if the media didn’t write about the abuse and the attitude of the bishops toward the Church –a la what you see in Cardinal Mahoney– little change would have happened. It must be recognized with a clear voice that the Catholic Church is charting a path to resolution and healing, a path that many secular institutions have yet to walk.

Mercy is required –Jesus the Good Shepherd teaches us this. Pope Francis is the current face of God’s tenderness for the victims and victimizers. Mercy for the victims, law enforcement officials, healthcare professionals, the laity of who give lives to the following Jesus as faithful members of the Church, and the clergy.

In 2007, the then Prefect of the Congregation of the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, wrote a letter to the bishops of the world asking for a spiritual work to aid concrete actions in assisting those affected by clergy sex abuse. To date, few cenacles of prayer have been established. Where I live, Cardinal Hummes’ letter is a dead letter, seemingly completely ignored by the bishops (at least in the USA). So that you know what the cardinal is looking for,

We are asking, therefore, all diocesan Ordinaries who perceive in a special way the specificity and irreplaceability of the ordained ministry in the life of the Church, together with the urgency of a common action in favour of the ministerial priesthood, to become an active part and promote – in the different portions of the People of God entrusted to them – , veritable cenacles in which clerics, religious and lay people – united among themselves in the spirit of true communion – devote themselves to prayer, in the form of continual eucharistic adoration, also in the spirit of genuine and real reparation and purification.

 May the horrible history of Roger Mahoney be an invitation for all of to make conversion a priority.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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