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TV Picks 03.01.20

By Daniel J. Engler | SUNDAY, March 1, 3:15pm The Song of Bernadette TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES Catholic convert Henry King directed this 1943 treasure about the Blessed Virgin Mary’s appearances to...

Diocese of Buffalo Files for Bankruptcy

By Matt Hadro/CNA. | BUFFALO, N.Y — The Diocese of Buffalo announced on Friday that it is declaring bankruptcy as hundreds of abuse lawsuits have been filed against it in the last several months. The...

Ambassador Brownback: Religious Persecution is Spreading Worldwide

By Christine Rousselle/CNA. | WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Ambassador at Large for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback has warned that religious persecution is spreading worldwide, and highlighted the...

Letters 03.01.20

By The Editors | Trump at the March Pertinent to “‘Pro-Life Is Pro-Woman’: March for Life Aims to Beat Abortion and Take Back Feminist History” (front page, Jan. 19 issue): Much criticism of President Donald Trump’s appearance...

Pontifical Academy for Life, IBM, Microsoft, Call for Ethical Use of AI Technology

By Hannah Brockhaus/CNA. | VATICAN CITY — The Pontifical Academy for Life signed Friday, alongside presidents of IBM and Microsoft, a call for ethical and responsible use of artificial...

Klobuchar Open to Pro-Life Votes, Not Pro-Life Laws

By Catholic News Agency | RALEIGH, N.C. — Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar would not say when she believes life begins when asked during a townhall event on Thursday evening. While...

Vatican City Implements Health Measures Over Coronavirus

By Courtney Mares/CNA. | VATICAN CITY — The Vatican has implemented special health measures and canceled some events as more than 500 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Italy. Hand...

Pope Francis works from home for second day

Vatican City, Feb 28, 2020 / 08:00 am (CNA).- Pope Francis postponed his official audiences for Friday, but maintained his private meeting schedule at his residence in Vatican City. The decision comes after the pope was reported to have a “slight” illness by a Vatican spokesman.

Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni told journalists Feb. 28 that Pope Francis offered Mass in Santa Marta and “greeted participants at the end, as usual,” before deciding to cancel his audiences and remain in his residence.

It is the second day that the pope has canceled appearances. Pope Francis did not attend a scheduled liturgy for the priests of the Diocese of Rome in the Basilica of St. John Lateran on Thursday after feeling unwell.

“Due to a slight indisposition,” Pope Francis “preferred to remain in the rooms close to Santa Marta,” Bruni said Feb. 27.

Pope Francis, who is 83 years old, is generally healthy, though he suffers from sciatica and had eye surgery for cataracts last year. When he was young he had a portion of one lung removed because of an infection.

The pope was scheduled to meet Feb. 28 with executives from technology companies, including Microsoft and IBM, who are in Rome for a meeting organized by the Pontifical Academy of Life on ethics in artificial intelligence.

While the Vatican has postponed some events and conferences due to the coronavirus, the pontifical academy’s ethics of AI meetings took place as planned. Pope Francis’ prepared remarks to the conference were read by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Italian authorities have reported 650 cases of the coronavirus in the country, with 17 deaths and 45 recoveries as of Feb. 28. Nearly all of the reported cases are in northern Italy. In response to the outbreak, Italian officials have also imposed quarantine restrictions on several towns in the Lombardy and Veneto regions, where most of the infections have occurred.

In Rome’s region of Lazio there have been just three confirmed cases: an Italian and two Chinese tourists, all of whom have recovered.

The Vatican has implemented special health measures in response to the coronavirus outbreak in Italy. Hand sanitizer dispensers have been installed in Vatican City offices, and there is a nurse and a doctor on call at a Vatican clinic to give immediate assistance, Holy See Press Office Director Matteo Bruni told Vatican News. 

As of Feb. 28, Pope Francis is still scheduled to give his Sunday Angelus address on March 1 before leaving for his Lenten retreat March 1-6.

Vatican launches task force to implement 'Vos estis' and 2011 abuse guidelines

Vatican City, Feb 28, 2020 / 06:36 am (CNA).- The Vatican has created a task force to help under-resourced bishops’ conferences enact guidelines on the protection of minors and the pope’s 2019 norms on abuse allegations against bishops.

The task force was one of the promised follow-ups to last year’s Vatican summit on child protection and sexual abuse in the Church.

According to a press release Feb. 28, the working group will assist bishops’ conferences and religious institutes and societies of apostolic life with implementing and updating child protection guidelines and putting in place the requirements of Pope Francis’ 2019 motu proprio Vos estis lux mundi.

Vos estis lux mundi, promulgated last May, enacted policy on the Church’s response to sexual abuse allegations made against bishops.

The world’s bishops’ conferences were first asked in 2011, in a letter sent by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to adopt stringent guidelines to fight sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.

Fr. Federico Lombardi told journalists Feb. 28 that there is “a minority” of bishops’ conferences which have not yet implemented child protection guidelines, calling the task force a “small step” in initiating “a process of help.”

Lombardi was the moderator of the February 2019 Vatican abuse summit. He said Friday, “there are very few exceptions that do not have [guidelines]” and they are typically in countries which have limited resources and which may be affected by war or poverty.

Lombardi guessed there are “around a dozen” bishops’ conferences in this situation but said he did not know the exact number.

The task force, which has a two-year commission starting this month, is made up of canon lawyers of different nationalities and has a fund, maintained by “benefactors” at its disposal, according to Friday’s press release.

The group is coordinated by Andrew Azzopardi, a social worker and abuse expert in charge of the safeguarding commission of the Church in Malta.

Azzopardi said Feb. 28 there are now on the task force about 10 or so members, mostly canon lawyers, but they would like to expand this to include other experts.

Azzopardi said members of the working group will primarily be sent to work on the ground in the local Churches and religious institutes, advising on the writing and enforcing of guidelines, keeping in mind the local culture and laws.

As coordinator, Azzopardi will report quarterly to the substitute for general affairs of the Secretariat of State, Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra, on the task force’s activity.

The activities of the task force will also be overseen by the 2019 abuse summit organizers: Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, and Fr. Hans Zollner, SJ.

The task force will, at the request of bishops’ conferences, “assist the local Church to make the Church safer for children and vulnerable adults and more accessible for victims and survivors,” Azzopardi said.

He said one of the challenges will be to make sure Vos estis lux mundi “is implemented, understood, and that it’s a real document and that we can build on that.”

“I think that is a challenge, not an insurmountable challenge.”


Bishops propose Arab World Youth Day for Middle East Catholics

Rome, Italy, Feb 28, 2020 / 05:00 am (CNA).- Bishops from the Middle East have proposed a regional youth gathering similar to World Youth Day for young Catholics from Syria to Somalia.

The proposed “World Day of Youth of the Arab Regions” would take place in Jordan as the first host country with the goal of encouraging “mass participation” from the region, according to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

Bishops representing Catholics in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Cyprus, Somalia, and countries of the Arabian Peninsula met in Rome Feb. 17-20 and discussed the proposed Arab World Youth Day gathering at the meeting of the Conference of Latin Bishops of the Arab Regions (CELRA).

During their plenary meeting in Rome, the 14 bishops met with Pope Francis following a daily Mass in Santa Marta, and attended meetings with several members of the curia.

Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, spoke to the bishops about the “revolutionary character” of the “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” signed by Pope Francis and Muhammad Ahmad al-Tayyib, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, in Abu Dhabi last year.

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri gave a talk on “Synodality in the praxis of the Church,” encouraging the bishops to work collaboratively, and Cardinal Michael Czerny, undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, led a discussion on the post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Querida Amazonia.”

The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem did not release more details on the proposed World Day of Youth of the Arab Regions, but said that the Conference of Latin Bishops of the Arab Regions will meet again in Lebanon in February 2021.

World Youth Day is a massive gathering of Catholic youth, which takes place every two or three years, with the goal of giving young people the chance to make a pilgrimage and encounter the worldwide Catholic community. Pope St. John Paul II first established World Youth Day in 1985.

Regional youth day celebrations have taken place since the late 1990s. The Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences organizes Asian Youth Day every three to five years. However, the 2021 Asian Youth Day was canceled earlier this year after bishops in India said they would be unable to host the Catholic youth gathering.

The Jesuit province of the Middle East has also organized smaller-scale “Regional Youth Days” since 2006. The last Regional Youth Days brought together 350 young Catholics in Jamhour, Lebanon in August 2019.

The next World Youth Day is scheduled to take place in Lisbon, Portugal in 2022 with the theme: “Mary arose and went with haste.”