Tag Archives: Holy See

Pope Francis sets stage for reforming the Vatican Bank

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As reported in secular and religious media, the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR) –known popularly, even if inaccurately– has been a bête noire for recent popes. The IOR is a colossal distraction for Catholics and for the seculars due to the mismanagement and problematic behavior of certain clergymen. If Pope Francis doesn’t get this problem under control and fixed, his work will be weakened.

Today, it was announced that Pope Francis, following on the systemic changes made made by Pope Benedict, is very serious in his intentions to reform the IOR. The Pope established a commission and published directives.

The members of the Commission are:

Cardinal Raffaele Farina, SDB, president

Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta Ochoa de Chinchetru, coordinator

Msgr. Peter Bryan Wells, secretary

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, member

Dr. Mary Ann Glendon, member

Two of the members of the commission are Americans. All members answer solely to Francis.

Here is the Chirograph by which establishes a Pontifical Referring Commission for the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR).

“With his Chirograph of 1 March 1990, Blessed John Paul II established the Institute for the Works of Religion as a public juridical entity, giving the Institute a new configuration while maintaining its name and purpose. With the same perspective, taking into account that he wished to better adapt the Institute’s structures and activities to the needs of the times; following the invitation of Our Predecessor Benedict XVI to allow the Gospel principles to permeate even the activities of an economic and financial nature; having heard the opinion of various Cardinals and other brothers in the Episcopate as well as other collaborators; and in light of the need to introduce reforms in the Institutions that give aid to the Apostolic See; We have decided to establish a Referring Commission for the Institute for the Works of Religion that will gather accurate information on the Institute’s legal position and various activities, in order to allow, if necessary, a better harmonization of the same with the universal mission of the Apostolic See. The Commission is to carry out its proper duties in accordance with this Chirograph and Our working arrangements.

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The Church by the numbers 2013


On 13 May 2013, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, SDB, the Secretary of State and Archbishop Angelo Becciu, the assistant in the same office, presented the Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae (the Church’s Statistical Yearbook) to Pope Francis and the rest of the Church.

This annual publication is official document outlining ever imaginable stat one would want to know, and more.

The statistical information in the Church Yearbook refers to the year 2011 which details the Catholic Church in the 2,979 ecclesiastical circumscriptions. That is, the dioceses and other administrations of the Church around the planet.

As already known, the Church is diminishing in Europe and growing in Asia and Africa.

General statistics:

  • From 2010 to 2011, the number of bishops increased from 5,104 to 5,132;
  • The steady increase in the number of priests which began in the year 2000 has continued. From 412,236 priests in 2010 to 413,418 in 2011;
  • The number of permanent deacons registered a strong increase: from 29,000 in 2001 to 41,000 in 2011;
  • Candidates for the priesthood, diocesan and religious, have increased since 2001 (112,244) by 7.5%. In 2011, there were 120,616 registered;
  • The number of Catholics in the world increased from 1.196 billion in 2010 to 1.214 billion in 2011, an increase of 18 million faithful.

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2 Popes at the Vatican, a first in history

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Pope Francis receives his predecessor, His Holiness Benedict XVI, pope emeritus today at the Monastery of Mother of the Church (Monastero Mater Ecclesiae). Pope emeritus Benedict abdicated the Throne of St Peter on 28 February 2013.

Photo: L’Osservatore Romano

Francis: Election of a Pope from the Ends of the Earth

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The Vatican Information Service reported today that a documentary will be published on the new pontificate. The documentary is titled, “Francesco – Elezione di un Papa che viene dalla fine del mondo” (Francis: Election of a Pope from the Ends of the Earth) … made in collaboration with the Officina della Comunicazione (OC) and the Italian newspaper, Il Corriere della Sera.

The DVD will be distributed as a supplement to the Friday, 2 April edition of the newspaper.” On its own the Italian version will cost 10.90 euro; English, Spanish and French editions are planned.

“The documentary registers the events following Pope Benedict XVI’s renunciation of the papacy, the days of the Sede Vacante, and the conclave that brought the election of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the new Pope. Through images and previously unpublished interviews with four cardinals–Cardinal Angelo Comastri, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Peter; Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture; and Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals–it reconstructs the most important stages of this period, culminating in the meeting of the two pontiffs this past Saturday, 23 March, in Castel Gandolfo.”

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Work for the good of every person on earth: fight spiritual and material poverty, Pope exhorts

Speaking in French today, Pope Francis gave his talk in Italian outlined to the world’s diplomats the mission of his pontificate: building peace AND constructing bridges of dialogue,  combatting spiritual AND material poverty. This is part 2 of his “pontifical program of ministry.” The Pontiff met the more than 180 accredited diplomats in Sala Regia of the Apostolic Palace, the Vatican.

English: world map of the Vatican foreign rela...

World map of the Vatican foreign relations; dark green: diplomatic relations, light green: other relations, gray: no official relations (credit: Wikipedia)

Heartfelt thanks to your Dean, Ambassador Jean-Claude Michel, for the kind words that he has addressed to me in the name of everyone present. It gives me joy to welcome you for this exchange of greetings: a simple yet deeply felt ceremony, that somehow seeks to express the Pope’s embrace of the world. Through you, indeed, I encounter your peoples, and thus in a sense I can reach out to every one of your fellow citizens, with their joys, their troubles, their expectations, their desires.

Your presence here in such numbers is a sign that the relations between your countries and the Holy See are fruitful, that they are truly a source of benefit to mankind. That, indeed, is what matters to the Holy See: the good of every person upon this earth! And it is with this understanding that the Bishop of Rome embarks upon his ministry, in the knowledge that he can count on the friendship and affection of the countries you represent, and in the certainty that you share this objective. At the same time, I hope that it will also be an opportunity to begin a journey with those few countries that do not yet have diplomatic relations with the Holy See, some of which were present at the Mass for the beginning of my ministry, or sent messages as a sign of their closeness – for which I am truly grateful.

As you know, there are various reasons why I chose the name of Francis of Assisi, a familiar figure far beyond the borders of Italy and Europe, even among those who do not profess the Catholic faith. One of the first reasons was Francis’ love for the poor. How many poor people there still are in the world! And what great suffering they have to endure! After the example of Francis of Assisi, the Church in every corner of the globe has always tried to care for and look after those who suffer from want, and I think that in many of your countries you can attest to the generous activity of Christians who dedicate themselves to helping the sick, orphans, the homeless and all the marginalized, thus striving to make society more humane and more just.

But there is another form of poverty! It is the spiritual poverty of our time, which afflicts the so-called richer countries particularly seriously. It is what my much-loved predecessor, Benedict XVI, called the “tyranny of relativism,” which makes everyone his own criterion and endangers the coexistence of peoples. And that brings me to a second reason for my name. Francis of Assisi tells us we should work to build peace. But there is no true peace without truth! There cannot be true peace if everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always claim exclusively his own rights, without at the same time caring for the good of others, of everyone, on the basis of the nature that unites every human being on this earth.

One of the titles of the Bishop of Rome is Pontiff, that is, a builder of bridges with God and between people. My wish is that the dialogue between us should help to build bridges connecting all people, in such a way that everyone can see in the other not an enemy, not a rival, but a brother or sister to be welcomed and embraced! My own origins impel me to work for the building of bridges. As you know, my family is of Italian origin; and so this dialogue between places and cultures a great distance apart matters greatly to me, this dialogue between one end of the world and the other, which today are growing ever closer, more interdependent, more in need of opportunities to meet and to create real spaces of authentic fraternity.

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In this work, the role of religion is fundamental. It is not possible to build bridges between people while forgetting God. But the converse is also true: it is not possible to establish true links with God, while ignoring other people. Hence it is important to intensify dialogue among the various religions, and I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam. At the Mass marking the beginning of my ministry, I greatly appreciated the presence of so many civil and religious leaders from the Islamic world. And it is also important to intensify outreach to non-believers, so that the differences which divide and hurt us may never prevail, but rather the desire to build true links of friendship between all peoples, despite their diversity.

Fighting poverty, both material and spiritual, building peace and constructing bridges: these, as it were, are the reference points for a journey that I want to invite each of the countries here represented to take up. But it is a difficult journey, if we do not learn to grow in love for this world of ours. Here too, it helps me to think of the name of Francis, who teaches us profound respect for the whole of creation and the protection of our environment, which all too often, instead of using for the good, we exploit greedily, to one another’s detriment. The Pope said:

Dear Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you again for all the work that you do, alongside the Secretariat of State, to build peace and construct bridges of friendship and fraternity. Through you, I would like to renew to your Governments my thanks for their participation in the celebrations on the occasion of my election, and my heartfelt desire for a fruitful common endeavor. May Almighty God pour out his gifts on each one of you, on your families and on the peoples that you represent. Thank you!

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]yahoo.com.
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