Atsam Kposo Kposo

  • Catholics pictured near the Co-Cathedral of St. Alexander in Kyiv, Ukraine. April 3, 2021. / paparazzza/Shutterstock.

    Vatican City, Jan 21, 2022 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

    Catholic bishops in Europe have expressed support for Ukraine and appealed to Christians to pray for peace.

    “At this extremely delicate time, we ask Christians to pray for the gift of peace in Ukraine so that those responsible may be filled with, and radiate, a peace that is ‘contagious’ and that the crisis will be overcome exclusively through dialogue,” a Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) communique said.

    Archbishop Gintaras Grušas of Vilnius, the president of the CCEE, issued the statement on behalf of the council on Jan. 21. He said that Catholic bishops in Europe wished to express closeness to the people of Ukraine “in this dramatic moment of tension.”

    “While the entire international community interprets the actions of the Russian military forces as a real threat to peace throughout the world, we embrace — in this time of fear and uncertainty for the future of the country — our brothers and sisters in the faith and all the people of Ukraine,” Grušas said.

    The bishops’ statement called on the international community to “offer its support to the country in the face of the danger of a Russian military offensive.”

    “We also, as shepherds of the European continent, want to appeal to the leaders of the nations so that they do not forget the tragic world wars of the last century and so that international law, as well as the independence and territorial sovereignty of each country, will be defended,” Grušas said.

    “Together with the Holy Father, we want to call on governments to find ‘acceptable and lasting solutions’ in Ukraine based on dialogue and negotiation and without resorting to arms,” the bishops’ statement said.

    Ukraine, which has a population of 44 million people, is the second-largest country by area in Europe after Russia.

    The conflict between the two countries — known as the Russo-Ukrainian War — began in February 2014, focused on the east of Ukraine. The warring parties agreed to a cease-fire in July 2020.

    Russia has sent an estimated 100,000 troops to the Ukrainian border. U.S. President Joe Biden said at a press conference on Jan. 19 that he expected Russian President Vladimir Putin to order an invasion.

    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with the Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva, Switzerland, on Jan. 21.

    Bliken told journalists after the bilateral meeting that if any Russian military forces move across Ukraine’s border, “it will be met with swift, severe and a united response from the United States and our partners and allies.”

    Pope Francis addressed the situation in Ukraine in his annual “state of the world” address to diplomats last week.

    “Reciprocal trust and readiness to engage in calm discussion should also inspire all parties at stake, so that acceptable and lasting solutions can be found in Ukraine,” the pope said on Jan. 10.

    The pope also issued an appeal for “beloved Ukraine” in his Angelus address last month, calling on world leaders to resolve the crisis through “serious international dialogue and not with weapons.”

    “I want to assure you of my prayers for beloved Ukraine, for all its Churches and religious communities, and for all its people so that the tensions it is experiencing might be resolved through a serious international dialogue and not with weapons,” he said on Dec. 12.

  • The Institute for the Works of Religion, commonly known as the Vatican bank. / Andrea Gagliarducci/CNA.

    Vatican City, Jan 21, 2022 / 10:30 am (CNA).

    A Vatican appeal court this week fully confirmed an earlier ruling that two former senior managers at the Institute of Works of Religion (IOR) were liable for mismanagement.

    The appeal court ordered Paolo Cipriani and Massimo Tulli to compensate the IOR with 40.5 million euros (around $46 million) plus court costs.

    Cipriani and Tulli had served until 2013 respectively as the director and deputy director of the IOR, which is often called the “Vatican bank,” though it does not operate as a bank. The IOR derives its acronym from its Italian name, Istituto per le Opere di Religione.

    This week’s ruling upheld the judgment of the Vatican Court of First Instance in 2018, while reducing the amount of compensation from 47 million euros (approximately $53 million).

    Cipriani and Tulli still have a further right of appeal at the Vatican and may then challenge the verdict in the international courts.

    The pair were found to have violated statutory obligations, autonomously deciding on investments that would have caused financial damage to the IOR.

    An IOR press release issued on Jan. 21 said that the two men were ordered to pay compensation amounting to “35,740,587 euros by way of emerging damage, as well as 4,799,445 euros by way of loss of profit (therefore for a total of 40,540,032 euros, plus monetary devaluation and legal interest).”

    It went on: “The court charged the appellants with court costs, including those relating to the first instance.”

    The IOR added that “the judgment concerns Mr. Paolo Cipriani and Mr. Massimo Tulli mala gestio [mismanagement] arranged with some investments of the Istituto per le Opere di Religione between 2010 and 2013, and which proved to be immediately harmful as problematic and, in several cases, also illegitimate and subject to criminal proceedings.”

    The court ruling is based on the losses that would have been caused to the IOR by two consultancy contracts and the opening of the Ad Maiora fund. This fund was used for a real estate operation — the acquisition of the former Budapest stock exchange building — made with a Maltese company, also now the subject of a complaint by the IOR.

    The IOR accuses its Maltese counterpart of having sold higher than the market price, favoring other intermediaries. The Maltese side accuses the IOR of not having kept the agreed commitments, as well as having always rejected the purchase offers that would have settled the debt. There is even an insinuation that the IOR is putting the investment at risk to strengthen allegations against past management.

    The same real estate investment is considered by the ruling to be a violation by managers, given that there was a moratorium on real estate investments from 2003.

    But as evidenced by some subsequent decisions and acquisitions, the moratorium would no longer be in force. In December 2012, the IOR’s board of superintendence decided to launch a new class of investments of a more speculative nature, effectively circumventing the moratorium.

    It should be noted that both the moratorium and regulation of the IOR were missing from the appeal documentation. Their inclusion would have allowed a better understanding of responsibilities. The same Vatican court of appeal judges consider that there is no “dual system” of decisions at the IOR because everything passes through the board of superintendence.

    When the defense argued that none of the investment decisions could have been taken without the approval of the board of superintendence, the prosecution replied that the board meetings were “rarefied, unlike what is practiced in similar institutions,” the ruling said. But the verdict admitted that the board members may have studied the papers before the meetings.

    Cipriani and Tulli resigned in July 2013. They left the IOR in a healthy situation, but profits dramatically dropped after their exit.

    In 2014, the IOR filed a civil suit against the old management, complaining that the investments made by the administration had not managed the IOR’s assets well. In 2018, Cipriani and Tulli were found liable for mismanagement.

    The Vatican appeal court’s verdict defends the work of the IOR but leaves some questions open. Some could already be answered by the results of the lawsuit filed by the IOR in Malta.

  • St. Irenaeus of Lyon. / Wolfymoza via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0).

    Vatican City, Jan 21, 2022 / 04:50 am (CNA).

    Pope Francis on Friday officially declared St. Irenaeus of Lyon as the 37th Doctor of the Church, with the title “Doctor Unitatis” (“Doctor of Unity”).

    “May the doctrine of such a great Master encourage more and more the path of all the Lord's disciples towards full communion,” the pope wrote in a decree signed on Jan. 21.

    The pope signed the decree mid-way through the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, taking place on Jan. 18-25.

    “St. Irenaeus of Lyon, who came from the East, exercised his episcopal ministry in the West: he was a spiritual and theological bridge between Eastern and Western Christians,” Pope Francis wrote.

    “His name, Irenaeus, expresses that peace which comes from the Lord and which reconciles, restoring unity.”

    St. Irenaeus is a 2nd-century bishop and writer revered by both Catholics and Orthodox Christians and known for refuting the heresies of Gnosticism with a defense of both Christ’s humanity and divinity.

    While some of St. Irenaeus’ most important writings have survived, the details of his life are not as well preserved. He was born in the Eastern half of the Roman Empire, likely in the coastal city of Smyrna, in what is now Turkey, around the year 140 A.D.

    As a young man, he heard the preaching of the early Christian bishop St. Polycarp, who had been personally instructed by the Apostle John. Irenaeus became a priest, serving the Church in the region of Gaul, in what is now France, during a difficult period in the late 170s.

    During this time of state persecution and doctrinal controversy, Irenaeus was sent to Rome to provide Pope St. Eleutherius with a letter about the heretical movement known as Montanism.

    After returning to Lyon, Irenaeus became the city’s second bishop, following the martyrdom of his predecessor St. Pothinus.

    In the course of his work as a pastor and evangelist, the second bishop of Lyon came up against heretical doctrines and movements that insisted that the material world was evil and not part of God’s original plan.

    Irenaeus recognized this movement, in all its forms, as a direct attack on the Catholic faith. He rebutted the Gnostic errors in his lengthy book “Against Heresies,” which is still studied today for its historical value and theological insights.

    A shorter work, the “Proof of the Apostolic Preaching,” contains Irenaeus’ presentation of the Gospel with a focus on Jesus Christ’s fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. Several of his other works are now lost, though a collection of fragments from them has been compiled and translated.

    Irenaeus died in Lyon around 202, when Emperor Septimus Severus ordered the martyrdom of Christians.

    The U.S. bishops voted in 2019 in favor of having St. Irenaeus named a Doctor of the Church at the request of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the then archbishop of Lyon, and sent their approval to the Vatican for the pope’s consideration.

    Pope Francis previously declared St. Gregory of Narek, a 10th-century Armenian monk, a Doctor of the Church in 2015.

    Benedict XVI named Sts. John of Avila and Hildegard of Bingen Doctors of the Church in 2012.

    Seventeen of the 36 figures declared Doctors of the Church by the Catholic Church lived before the Great Schism of 1054 and are also revered by Orthodox Christians.

    St. Irenaeus could be the first martyr to be declared a Doctor of the Church.

    His entry on the website of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints says: “He died in 202, but his martyrdom is not certain. In the 4th century St. Jerome and two centuries later Gregory of Tours stated that Irenaeus ‘ended his life in martyrdom,’ which would have happened during a bloody persecution, most likely that of Septimius Severus, which took place between the years 202-203.”

  • Pope Francis meets participants in the plenary session of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican’s Clementine Hall, Jan. 21, 2022. / Vatican Media.

    Vatican City, Jan 21, 2022 / 04:00 am (CNA).

    Pope Francis said Friday that the Catholic Church is firmly committed to bringing justice to victims of clerical abuse through the rigorous application of canon law.

    In a speech to the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the pope spoke of recent changes he made to the Church’s Code of Canon Law with the goal of making its “legal action more effective.”

    “The Church, with God’s help, is vigorously pursuing her commitment to bringing justice to the victims of abuse perpetrated by her members, applying the established canonical legislation with particular attention and rigor,” Pope Francis said on Jan. 21.

    The pope highlighted the changes he made last month to the CDF’s procedural norms for the most serious crimes, including the abuse of minors.

    “This alone is not enough to stem the phenomenon, but it is a necessary step toward restoring justice, repairing the scandal, and correcting the offender,” Francis said.

    The pope’s comments came a day after the German Archdiocese of Munich and Freising released a report on the handling of abuse cases that faulted Pope emeritus Benedict XVI and Cardinal Reinhard Marx, generating international headlines.

    Pope Francis underlined that discernment is always needed “in the fight against abuses of all kinds.”

    He added that discernment is also needed in the Church’s “synodal path.” Last October, the pope launched the diocesan stage of the two-year process leading to the 2023 Synod on Synodality.

    In this global consultative process of “listening and dialogue,” the Vatican has asked all Catholic dioceses worldwide to participate, hold consultations, and collect feedback on specific questions laid out in synod documents.

    At the end of the current process, an assembly of the Synod of Bishops is scheduled to take place in Rome in October 2023 to produce a final document to advise the pope.

    “A synodal path without discernment is not a synodal path,” the pope told the CDF.

    “In the synodal path, it is necessary to continuously discern opinions, points of view, reflections, but one cannot go in the synodal path without discernment.”

    “This discernment is what will make the synod a true synod for which the most important character is the Holy Spirit, and not a parliament with the exchange of opinions that can take place in the media,” he said.

    Discernment, the pope added, is key in the Vatican congregation’s work regarding marriage annulment or dissolution cases.

    He spoke in particular about the dissolution of marriage “in favorem fidei” (in favor of the faith), which can only be approved on a case-by-case basis and solely by the pope.

    “When, by virtue of Petrine power, the Church grants the dissolution of a non-sacramental marriage bond, it is not only a matter of canonically putting an end to a marriage, which has already failed in fact, but, in reality, through this eminently pastoral act I always intend to foster the Catholic faith — in favorem fidei — in the new union and in the family, of which this new marriage will be the nucleus,” the pope said.

    Pope Francis told the CDF that there are currently many social and political tensions that threaten human fraternity.

    “The temptation is growing to consider the other as a stranger or an enemy, denying him real dignity,” he said.

    “Therefore, especially at this time, we are called to repeat, ‘at every convenient or inconvenient occasion’ (2 Timothy 4:2), faithfully following the 2,000-year-old Church teaching, that every human being has an intrinsic dignity that is valid from the moment of conception until natural death,” Pope Francis said.

    “Precisely the affirmation of such dignity is the essential precondition for the protection of a personal and social existence, and also the necessary condition for fraternity and social friendship to be realized among all the peoples of the earth.”

    “Let us not be satisfied with a lukewarm, habitual, textbook faith. Let us collaborate with the Holy Spirit and collaborate among ourselves so that the fire that Jesus came to bring into the world can continue to burn and inflame the hearts of all,” Pope Francis said.

  • St. Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 130-202). / Public Domain.

    Vatican City, Jan 20, 2022 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

    St. Irenaeus of Lyon is one step closer to being the first martyr to be declared a Doctor of the Church.

    Pope Francis met with the head of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints on Thursday to discuss the conferral of the title on the saint.

    During the meeting, Cardinal Marcello Semeraro informed the pope that the plenary session of the cardinals and bishops from the saints’ congregation had found the 2nd-century bishop worthy of the title, according to a Vatican statement Jan. 20.

    Pope Francis has already made public his intention to declare Irenaeus a Doctor of the Church with the title “Doctor unitatis,” meaning “Doctor of Unity.”

    In a speech to a group of Catholic and Orthodox theologians last October, the pope called St. Irenaeus “a great spiritual and theological bridge between Eastern and Western Christians.”

    St. Irenaeus is a bishop and writer revered by both Catholics and Orthodox Christians and known for refuting the heresies of Gnosticism with a defense of both Christ’s humanity and divinity.

    While some of St. Irenaeus’ most important writings have survived, the details of his life are not as well preserved. He was born in the Eastern half of the Roman Empire, likely in the coastal city of Smyrna, in what is now Turkey, around the year 140 A.D.

    As a young man, he heard the preaching of the early Christian bishop St. Polycarp, who had been personally instructed by the Apostle John. Irenaeus became a priest, serving the Church in the region of Gaul, in what is now France, during a difficult period in the late 170s.

    During this time of state persecution and doctrinal controversy, Irenaeus was sent to Rome to provide Pope St. Eleutherius with a letter about the heretical movement known as Montanism.

    After returning to Lyon, Irenaeus became the city’s second bishop, following the martyrdom of his predecessor St. Pothinus.

    In the course of his work as a pastor and evangelist, the second bishop of Lyon came up against heretical doctrines and movements that insisted that the material world was evil and not part of God’s original plan.

    Irenaeus recognized this movement, in all its forms, as a direct attack on the Catholic faith. He rebutted the Gnostic errors in his lengthy book “Against Heresies,” which is still studied today for its historical value and theological insights.

    A shorter work, the “Proof of the Apostolic Preaching,” contains Irenaeus’ presentation of the Gospel with a focus on Jesus Christ’s fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. Several of his other works are now lost, though a collection of fragments from them has been compiled and translated.

    Irenaeus died in Lyon around 202, when Emperor Septimus Severus ordered the martyrdom of Christians.

    During Pope Francis’ meeting with Semeraro, the pope also authorized a decree concerning the heroic virtue of three Italians: Archbishop Francesco Saverio Toppi of Pompeii (1925-2007); Mother Maria Teresa DeVincenti, the founder of the Congregation of the Little Workers of the Sacred Heart (1872-1936); and Sister Gabriella Borgarino of the society of the Daughters of Charity (1880-1949).

    The U.S. bishops voted in 2019 in favor of having St. Irenaeus named a Doctor of the Church at the request of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the then archbishop of Lyon, and sent their approval to the Vatican for the pope’s consideration.

    Pope Francis previously declared St. Gregory of Narek, a 10th-century Armenian monk, a Doctor of the Church in 2015.

    Benedict XVI named Sts. John of Avila and Hildegard of Bingen Doctors of the Church in 2012.

    Seventeen of the 36 figures declared Doctors of the Church by the Catholic Church lived before the Great Schism of 1054 and are also revered by Orthodox Christians.

    “His name, Irenaeus, contains the word ‘peace,’” Pope Francis said on Oct. 7.

    “We know that the Lord’s peace is not a ‘negotiated’ peace, the fruit of agreements meant to safeguard interests, but a peace that reconciles, that brings together in unity. That is the peace of Jesus.”

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