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Catholic sisters dedicate lives to telling the elderly ‘You’ll never be alone’

Sr. Constance Veit, LSP / EWTN News In Depth

Washington D.C., Jul 27, 2021 / 13:00 pm (CNA).

Ahead of the inaugural World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly this past Sunday, the communications director for the Little Sisters of the Poor described how the order cares for the elderly as people of inherent dignity and worth.

Sister Constance Veit, the communications director for the Little Sisters of the Poor, told EWTN News In Depth on July 23 how she and her sisters live “to assure the elderly that they'll never be alone, they'll never be abandoned.”

“First of all, we say to them, each of us says to them, ‘I will always be with you,’” she explained. “But then, we hope that our presence will be a reminder to them that God is always with them. It doesn't stop with us, but our whole hope and our whole effort is to bring the presence of Christ to them.”

Sister Constance said she rejoiced over the first annual World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, instituted by Pope Francis on Sunday, the feast day of Jesus’ grandparents, Saints Joachim and Anne. She explained what the day meant for the elderly and for the Little Sisters, an order that runs homes worldwide for the elderly in need. 

She defined the Little Sisters as an “international congregation” with homes for the elderly worldwide “where we welcome them into our home and they become family to us.”

“To see the elderly being honored and recognized in this way is a very deep joy for me,” Sr. Constance said during an interview with EWTN News In Depth on July 23. “It’s something I've noticed about Pope Francis's pontificate from the beginning, how often he speaks about the elderly and how often he encourages young people to connect with their elders.”

She had the opportunity to thank the pope personally in 2015, when he visited the United States.

“I rehearsed all day what I was going to say to him, and what I said to him was to thank him for the attention that he’s bringing to the elderly,” she recalled.

She said that Pope Francis’ focus on the elderly touched her in a personal way.

“By my vocation, as the Little Sister of the Poor, I've given my life to the Church and to the elderly – specifically to the elderly – because that's our sole apostolate.” 

The Little Sisters of the Poor began in France in 1839, when the order’s founder, Saint Jeanne Jugan, offered her bed to an elderly woman who was blind and lying paralyzed in the cold. Today, the order serves in 30 countries, with 27 homes in the United States.

Because the sisters care for the low-income elderly, they trust in God for financial support. While many homes in the U.S. are eligible for Medicaid and might draw from other forms of income -  such as pensions from the residents - that still “usually only covers about half of our expenses,” Sr. Constance said.

“For the rest, we have a tradition since the beginning of the congregation of going out into the community and begging for alms,” she said. Today, this is mostly accomplished through the mail or online, she said, but there are still sisters “who go out on a regular basis out into the community to markets, to businesses to ask for gifts in kind.”

These donations, she said, are “really what sustains us.”  

According to Sr. Constance, God “always seems to come through” financially. But now, the sisters are facing a new challenge: the challenge “in the area of caregivers.”

“The ongoing challenge just, I would say pre-pandemic and let's hope post-pandemic that it comes to an end, there is a certain amount of ageism in society,” Sr. Constance cautioned. 

She noticed a shortage in healthcare workers and caregivers for the elderly.

“There are real shortages in the workforce, with geriatric-trained physicians, social workers, psychologists, nurses, all the way down to the level of nursing assistants, who are the real ones who do the bulk of the hands-on care in our homes,” she said.

While it’s a complex issue, she said that caregivers are “not recompensed enough” and “there aren't incentives to go into geriatrics.”

“It's not encouraged enough for people to choose eldercare as a profession, and so, increasingly, as the elderly population is growing and growing by leaps and bounds, it's going to become more of a crisis, the lack of care of trained caregivers,” she said.

But the World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly gave her hope.

“For me, I'm using it as an opportunity to raise people's awareness of the gifts that the elderly can offer,” she said. 

Pope Francis “has three key words with the elderly: dream, memory, and prayer,” Sr. Constance said, as she summarized the gifts that the elderly can contribute. 

With “dream,” she said, “I think what he means by that is that the elderly still have a vision or a dream about what they wish for life, for society, for the world” and that they should “share that with young people, to inspire young people.”

And with memory, Sr. Constance stressed that the elderly can help young people “have a sense of history and memory” or “a memory to help them appreciate where we come from, how we got to where we are, the impact of events.”

The elderly can also change the world through prayer, she said.

“That is really beautiful because even an elderly person who's living alone, who might be housebound, who might be isolated, they might not have direct contact with younger people, but they can always offer their prayers for the needs of the world,” Sr. Constance said. 

“That's what we tell our residents, particularly those who are very infirm,” she said: “they still have the opportunity to offer their sufferings and their sacrifices for the needs of the world.” 

Catholic priest attacked with glass bottle while praying at cathedral in Scotland

St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral in Edinburgh, Scotland. / Gastao at English Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Edinburgh, Scotland, Jul 27, 2021 / 12:00 pm (CNA).

A Catholic priest escaped without injury on Monday after he was attacked by a man wielding a glass bottle as he prayed at a cathedral in Scotland.

The archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh said on July 27 that the “violent and unprovoked assault” took place at St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral in Edinburgh after the man asked the victim if he was a priest.

“Yesterday morning (Monday 26 July) a priest sitting alone praying in a pew at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh was subject to a violent and unprovoked assault by a man carrying a glass bottle,” said the archdiocese.

“Just prior to the attack the man had asked him if he was a priest. When the priest replied that he was, the man attempted to hit him on the head with the bottle, before chasing him to the back of the cathedral.”

“The bottle broke on the ground and the man continued using it in his assault. The priest managed to fend him off with a chair before the attacker ran out of the cathedral. The priest escaped without injury.”

The archdiocese, which covers Scotland’s capital city and surrounding areas, urged anyone with information to contact Police Scotland.

According to Scottish media, a spokeswoman for the national police force said that officers were called at 9:35 a.m. on July 26 following a report of a 35-year-old man being assaulted.

“Officers attended and the victim did not require hospital treatment,” she said, adding that police inquiries were ongoing.

Pope Francis is expected to visit Scotland “for a very short time” in November, a spokesperson for the country’s bishops’ conference confirmed earlier this month.

The pope is likely to attend the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) taking place in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, on Nov. 1-12.

Catholics are a minority in Scotland, comprising just 16% of the total population of 5.5 million people. But the Catholic Parliamentary Office of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland said in 2019 that Catholics were “disproportionately targeted in terms of religiously aggravated offending.”

In 2018, there were four assaults on priests in Scotland, the Catholic Parliamentary Office said.

The Scottish government report “Religiously Aggravated Offending in Scotland 2017-2018” found that Catholicism was “the religion that was most often the subject of reported abuse, with 319 charges for 2017-18,” out of a total of 642 charges.

Another report, “Hate Crime in Scotland 2019-20,” said that there were 660 religiously aggravated charges recorded in 2019-20 -- 24% higher than in 2018-19.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) published data in November documenting more than 500 hate crimes against Christians in Europe in 2019.

Incidents included attacks against Catholic priests, arson attacks on Catholic churches, the destruction of images of the Virgin Mary, vandalism of a pregnancy counseling center, and the theft of consecrated Eucharistic hosts from tabernacles.

In total, there were 595 incidents against Christians documented by OSCE. Of these, 459 were attacks against property, and 80 were attacks against people.

Coptic archbishop: Condemning persecution of non-Christians follows the example of Christ

Archbishop Angaelos / Courtesy photo.

Washington D.C., Jul 27, 2021 / 10:30 am (CNA).

Christians around the world must speak out against all religious persecution - including against the Muslim Uyghurs, the Coptic Orthodox Archbishop of London told CNA during a recent summit on international religious freedom.

“As Christians who live as part of persecuted communities, we understand the pain of persecution, and if we cannot accept it for ourselves, we should never accept this for anyone else,” Archbishop Angaelos of London told CNA in a July 15 interview about global religious persecution.

The archbishop, who has become a leading voice on global religious persecution, was scheduled to address the recent 2021 International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington, D.C., but was unable to attend due to pandemic-related travel restrictions in the United Kingdom. He spoke on the phone with CNA about what he had planned to tell the summit. The July 13-15 event featured religious and civic leaders from around the world, as well as survivors of religious persecution.

It is “utterly reprehensible and unacceptable” that “we still many millions of people around the world deprived of their very basic right to believe or not to believe," he said, pointing to significant advances in other parts of society such as technological progress.

Last year, Angaelos signed a statement against China’s “potential genocide” of the Uyghurs, a largely-Muslim population in northwest China. More than 75 religious leaders signed the document – including two Asian cardinals, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo of Yangon, Burma, and Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo of Jakarta, Indonesia. The leaders called for prayer and solidarity with the Uyghurs, as well as “action to end these mass atrocities.”

Archbishop Angaelos explained his decision to join other voices in condemning China’s atrocities.

It was “Our Lord Himself Who, having seen the world’s suffering, then took flesh and came to resolve that suffering, and shared in our suffering, to raise us above that,” he said. Thus, “we too must look at the suffering of others and continue to do what we can to alleviate it.”

Christians in certain countries have suffered egregiously in recent years, the archbishop said, pointing to a “major exodus” of Christians from the Middle East and North Africa, as well as attacks on Christians in Nigeria, China, and Pakistan.

However, he emphasized, non-Christian communities have been targeted for persecution as well, such as the Uyghurs in China, the Rohingya Muslims in Burma, Baha’is in Iran, and Yezidis in Iraq.

Christians must speak out against persecution of any community, he said, not only as a matter of justice but also as a practical means of protecting all religious communities.

“Human rights violations are always a cascade,” he said. “There’s a start with one particular group, and then the group that is persecuting will move to the next, what they perceive to be a soft target, and the next, and the next.”

Egypt’s Coptic Christians have been targeted through church bombings and attacks on pilgrims in recent years - although the overall “scale” of persecution there has decreased during the recent pandemic, Archbishop Angaelos told CNA.

However, he noted, Coptic Christian women and girls have still been abducted and forcefully converted, and some Christian communities have experienced a deprivation of resources during the pandemic.

“We might be in a slightly better place, and yet, of course, we know that we have such volatile settings, it doesn’t take much to set things off and it doesn’t take much for communities to be demonized and vilified,” he said.

The Coptic Orthdox Church is an Oriental Orthodox Church which rejected the Council of Chalcedon of 451. It followers were historically considered monophysites – those who believe Christ has only one nature – by Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox.

Christians in the West can help the persecuted by spreading awareness of their plight, Archbishop Angaelos said.

“When things fall off the top of our newsfeeds and are no longer headlines, they are easily forgotten. And what we need to do is to keep the issues alive, even with awareness, with speaking, with keeping our eye on spots where there is violation against people,” he said.

Dutch Catholic bishop: Traditionis custodes appears to be a ‘declaration of war’

Bishop Rob Mutsaerts, auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of ’s-Hertogenbosch, in the Netherlands. / Danny Gerrits - wikiportret.nl via Wikimedia (CC-BY-SA 4.0).

’s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, Jul 27, 2021 / 06:00 am (CNA).

A Dutch Catholic bishop has launched a strongly worded attack on Pope Francis’ motu proprio restricting Traditional Latin Masses, saying that the document seemed to be a “declaration of war.”

In an essay posted on his blog on July 22, Bishop Rob Mutsaerts described the pope’s intervention as “dictatorial,” “unpastoral,” and “unmerciful,” and argued that it would benefit the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), a breakaway traditionalist group.

The comments by the auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of ’s-Hertogenbosch, in the southern Netherlands, contrast with those of other European bishops who have broadly welcomed the motu proprio, such as Bishop Jean-Pierre Batut of Blois and Bishop Olivier Leborgne of Arras in France.

The motu proprio Traditionis custodes, which entered into force on July 16, the day it was released, said that it is a bishop’s “exclusive competence” to authorize Traditional Latin Masses in his diocese.

The document made sweeping changes to Benedict XVI’s 2007 apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum, which had acknowledged the right of all priests to say Mass using the Roman Missal of 1962 without having to seek their bishop’s permission.

Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal is referred to variously as the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite, the Tridentine Mass, and the Traditional Latin Mass.

The Dutch bishop’s essay was entitled “A malicious ukase from Pope Francis.” An “ukase” was a proclamation with the force of law issued by the czar of Russia.

“Pope Francis promotes synodality: everyone should be able to have their say, everyone should be heard,” Mutsaerts wrote.

“There was little question of this in his recently published motu proprio Traditionis custodes, a ukase that should put an immediate end to the Traditional Latin Mass.”

“In doing so, Francis strikes Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict’s motu proprio which gave ample space to the old Mass.”

Mutsaerts, 63, suggested that the pope’s decision indicated that he was “losing authority.”

“This was already evident earlier when the German bishops’ conference took no notice of the pope’s advice regarding the synodality process,” he wrote, referring to clashes between the Vatican and German Church officials over the “Synodal Way.”

“The same occurred in the United States when Pope Francis called on the bishops’ conference not to prepare a document on receiving Holy Communion in a dignified way,” he said, alluding to the dispute over “Eucharistic coherence” within the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

He continued: “The pope must have thought that it would be better not to give advice, but an injunction, now that we are talking about the traditional Mass.”

“The language used looks very much like a declaration of war.”

Mutsaerts, who was named a bishop by Benedict XVI in 2010, confirmed his authorship of the blog post in a July 26 email to CNA.

Asked if he was concerned about the Vatican’s response to his essay, he told CNA: “No, I am not concerned. I don’t think Rome worries about the opinion of an unknown auxiliary bishop in this tiny country. They have other matters to worry about.”

He added that he had never celebrated the Traditional Latin Mass himself.

“And I am not old enough to know it from my youth, so my comments have nothing to do with nostalgia or anything of that kind,” he said.

Mutsaerts has published outspoken posts on his blog, “Paarse Pepers” (Purple Peppers), since 2019. Previous posts have included sharp criticism of the Amazon synod, Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia, and “cancel culture.”

The number of Catholics in the Netherlands, a country of 17 million people bordering Germany and Belgium, has fallen sharply in recent decades. But Catholics remain the nation’s biggest religious group.

The diocese of ’s-Hertogenbosch has the largest number of Catholics of any diocese in the Netherlands, according to the Dutch Catholic blog In Caelo et in Terra.

In his essay, the bishop argued that Pope Francis took a radically different approach to the Traditional Latin Mass to his predecessors.

“Pope Francis slams the door hard by means of Traditionis custodes. It feels like treason and is a slap in the face of his predecessors,” he wrote.

Mutsaerts argued that Sacrosanctum concilium, the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, was a “conservative document” that did not sanction many liturgical changes that followed.

“Only 17% of the prayers of the old missal (Trent) are found in the new missal (Paul VI). It is then difficult to speak of continuity of an organic development,” he wrote.

He continued: “Pope Francis is now pretending that his motu proprio stands in the organic development of the Church, which utterly contradicts reality. By making the Latin Mass practically impossible, he is finally breaking with the centuries-old liturgical tradition of the R.C. Church. Liturgy is not a toy of popes, but is the heritage of the Church.”

He argued that the small number of places where the Traditional Latin Masses are celebrated attract large, devout families.

He said: “Why does the pope want to deny people this? I come back to what I said earlier: it is ideology. It is Vatican II, including its implementation with all its aberrations, or nothing!”

“The relatively small number of believers (which is growing, by the way, as the Novus Ordo collapses) who feel at home with the traditional Mass must and will be eradicated. That is ideology and evil.”

He said that if the goal was to evangelize, then Tridentine Masses should be maintained.

He wrote: “From this day on, the Old Mass may not be celebrated in parish churches (where then?), you need explicit permission from your bishop, who may only allow it on certain days, and for those who will be ordained in the future and want to celebrate the Old Mass, the bishop needs permission from Rome. How dictatorial, how unpastoral, how unmerciful do you want it to be!”

Cardinal Marx won’t rule out offering resignation for a 2nd time

Cardinal Reinhard Marx. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Munich, Germany, Jul 27, 2021 / 04:30 am (CNA).

Cardinal Reinhard Marx has said that he cannot rule out asking Pope Francis to accept his resignation for a second time.

The Catholic archbishop of Munich and Freising discussed the possibility of a second resignation offer in a letter issued on July 23 and read out in churches in the archdiocese at the weekend, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

“I do not understand my service as a bishop as an office that belongs to me and that I have to defend, but as a mission for the people of this archdiocese and as a service to the unity of the Church,” he wrote.

“Should I no longer be able to fulfill this ministry, then it would be time -- after consultation with the diocesan bodies and also the abuse appraisal commission and the affected persons’ advisory board -- to decide for the good of the Church and offer my resignation from office once again.”

Marx is a member of the pope’s Council of Cardinals and the coordinator of the Vatican Council for the Economy. Until last year, he served as the chairman of the German bishops’ conference.

The 67-year-old cardinal wrote to Pope Francis in May, offering to resign amid the fallout from the clerical abuse crisis in Germany. The pope declined his resignation in June.

In the letter to his flock, Marx said that he was surprised by the pope’s decision but fully accepted it.

“After Pope Francis’ letter of response, I am renewing my yes to my ministry as archbishop of Munich and Freising. Together with my staff and diocesan bodies, I will reflect on what it means not to simply go back to business as usual, as previously stated in my declaration,” he wrote.

The cardinal, who was appointed archbishop in 2007 by Benedict XVI, said that he remained in shock over the depth of the abuse crisis.

“Since 2010, however, the shock that this terrible thing was perpetrated by officials and employees of the Church, and that we bishops may not always have seen or wanted to see that intensively enough, has not gone away for me,” he wrote, referring to the year that the sex abuse scandal broke in the archdiocese of Munich and Freising.

He continued: “My decision to resign from office, which I made after careful consideration, was intended as a sign that I have to take responsibility for all this personally and as an official, including also for what happened in the past, because as a bishop I represent the Church.”

In April, Marx asked German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier not to bestow the Federal Cross of Merit on him after an outcry among advocates for abuse survivors over the award.

He had been scheduled to receive the Bundesverdienstkreuz, Germany’s only federal decoration, at the Bellevue Palace in Berlin on April 30.

Marx said that he did not want to draw negative attention to other award recipients.

Peter Bringmann-Henselder, a member of the affected persons’ advisory board of Cologne archdiocese, had urged the president to withhold the honor, citing Marx’s handling of cases when he was bishop of Trier in 2001–2007.

The official web portal of the Catholic Church in Germany reported in June that Marx’s actions in Trier would be “comprehensively investigated” by an independent commission on behalf of the diocese that has been led by Bishop Stephan Ackermann since 2009.

It also noted that in the next few months the Munich law firm Westpfahl-Spilker-Wastl is expected to release a study of the handling of abuse claims in the archdiocese of Munich and Freising, including during Marx’s time as archbishop.

Concluding his message to his archdiocese, Marx wrote: “But now, with great readiness, I say again a new yes to my mission here in our archdiocese and ask you for your prayers and your trust.”

“I am convinced: We need reform and renewal in and for the Church, but we also need a sense of the unity of the people of God, which becomes visible in diversity. Let us walk this path together in our archdiocese.”

“As your archbishop, I am undertaking this journey with you and would like to continue to make my contribution so that we can master the great challenges that lie ahead. With God’s help, we can succeed.”

The Vatican finance trial begins today. Here’s what you need to know

Cupola of St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City / CNA

Vatican City, Jul 27, 2021 / 01:55 am (CNA).

On Tuesday, the Vatican court is holding the first hearing in a trial against 10 people charged with committing financial crimes against the Holy See.

The Vatican finance trial is unprecedented in modern times. Among the defendants is Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the first cardinal to be tried by the tribunal of the Vatican City State since Pope Francis changed the rules to allow it in April.

The first hearing, on July 27, will be the arraignment, when prosecutors will inform defendants of the criminal charges against them and the accused will enter their pleas of “guilty” or “not guilty.”

The tribunal has also set a second hearing date for July 28, which may or may not take place before the court adjourns for a summer recess.

Who is involved in the trial, and what is the likely outcome?

The Court

The finance trial will take place in a multi-purpose room inside the Vatican Museums recently renovated to allow more space for hearings.

The trial’s outcome will be decided by the Vatican City State’s court of first instance, a panel of three judges.

The Vatican’s lay judges, who have each been appointed by the pope, are led by tribunal president Giuseppe Pignatone, a retired Italian prosecutor.

The investigation’s chief prosecutors, called Promoters of Justice, are the Italian lawyers Alessandro Diddi and Roberto Zannotti.

The prosecutors will be representing the interests of the Holy See, and those the court has identified to be the parties injured by the alleged crimes: The Secretariat of State and the IOR (commonly called the “Vatican bank”.)

The Charges

In the trial, the Vatican will attempt to prosecute Cardinal Angelo Becciu, formerly number two at the Secretariat of State, for embezzlement and abuse of office related to several scandals surrounding his time working in the powerful curial department.

The main scandal is the secretariat’s purchase, from 2014 to 2018, of an investment property at 60 Sloane Avenue in London. The deal, investigators argue, turned out to be cooked up by bad actors who took advantage of Vatican money to finance their own debts from prior deals that went wrong.

Prosecutors have charged Italian businessmen Raffaele Mincione and Gianluigi Torzi, who negotiated and brokered the Secretariat of State’s purchase of the property with help from longtime Vatican investment manager Enrico Crasso.

Mincione has been charged with embezzlement, fraud, abuse of office, misappropriation, and self-money laundering, and Torzi with extortion, embezzlement, fraud, misappropriation, money laundering, and self-money laundering.

Nicola Squillace, a lawyer who worked with Torzi, faces the same charges he does minus extortion.

Crasso, who is the manager of the Centurion Global Fund in which the Holy See is the principal investor, faces charges of corruption, embezzlement, extortion, money laundering, self-money laundering, fraud, abuse of office, falsifying a public document, and falsifying a private document.

The Vatican has also charged three corporations owned by Crasso with fraud.

Additionally, prosecutors have asserted that two officials at the Secretariat of State were involved in the fraud. Fabrizio Tirabassi, who oversaw investments, has been charged with corruption, extortion, embezzlement, fraud, and abuse of office. Msgr. Mauro Carlino, who worked with him, has been charged with extortion and abuse of office.

René Brülhart and Tommaso Di Ruzza, respectively the former president and former director of the Vatican’s internal financial watchdog, have been charged with abuse of office. Di Ruzza is also charged with embezzlement and violation of confidentiality.

Another defendant in the trial is Cecilia Marogna, a self-described security consultant, who has been charged with embezzlement following an investigation into reports that she received hundreds of thousands of euros from the Secretariat in connection with Becciu, and that she spent the money earmarked for charity on luxury goods and vacations.

The Evidence

Vatican prosecutors will be making their case against the defendants based on documents, financial records, and witness testimony.

Based on information in a 488-page charge sheet reviewed by CNA, other people who may be called to the witness stand during the trial include Luciano Capaldo, manager of the London building at 60 Sloane Avenue, and Manuele Intendente, who was reportedly present at meetings leading to Torzi’s brokerage of the final stage of the London deal in 2018.

One Secretariat of State official who was also investigated because of his involvement in the London investment, but who has not been charged in this trial, is Msgr. Alberto Perlasca. Prosecutors identified Perlasca’s testimony, provided over the course of several interviews, as being important for reconstructing “some central moments” in the affair.

Investigators have also gained access to emails and text messages related to the charges.

The Defense

None of the defendants has admitted wrongdoing, while Brülhart, Di Ruzza, and Becciu have all said that they are looking forward to defending their innocence in court.

While most of the accused have declined to be interviewed ahead of the trial, some have given some indications of what their defense may include.

One of them is Cecilia Marogna, who has said that she interacted with Italian secret service agents and that she was paid by Cardinal Becciu to create dossiers of incriminating information on Vatican personnel. (Becciu has denied all wrongdoing.)

In addition to two lawyers, Marogna’s defense team also includes an ex-Italian intelligence agent, Riccardo Sindoca, who is working as a legal consultant.

Through Sindoca, Marogna told the media last month that her “relationship of trust” with Becciu “remains unchanged.” She also attempted to cast doubt on claims that the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, was ignorant of what she was doing within the Secretariat.

According to some Italian media, Marogna has plans to put Parolin on the witness stand, along with a figure who used to work for the now-defunct secret service of the Italian military, SISMI.

Brülhart is alleged to have had a consulting deal at the Secretariat of State at the same time that he was president of the Vatican’s internal financial watchdog, which is responsible for notifying judicial authorities about potential financial misconduct. His lawyer has said that the arrangement was legitimate and approved by Secretariat of State officials.

Becciu’s lawyer told the Catholic website The Pillar this month that the “alleged consulting deal” was “properly authorized and overseen by His Eminence Cardinal Parolin, without any involvement of His Eminence Cardinal Becciu,” indicating a possible direction of Becciu’s defense.

The Outcome

We do not yet know how the Vatican judges will rule and what sentences they will give. The ability to achieve convictions will depend on the competency of the prosecutors, the quality of the investigation, and the strength of the evidence.

If convicted, the accused will have the opportunity to appeal.

In the charge sheet, prosecutors said that former secretariat official Fabrizio Tirabassi, if found guilty of embezzlement, could face three to five years in jail, a perpetual ban from public office, and a fine of at least 5,000 euros (around $5,900.)

Cardinal Parolin told French media La Croix this month that he believes the trial will be the moment of “judicial truth.”

He also said earlier this month that he hoped the trial would be “brief.” But the tribunal’s record on trying cases does not support that outcome.

In January, Angelo Caloia, a former president of the IOR, was sentenced to eight years and 11 months in prison for money laundering and aggravated embezzlement. He was also ordered to pay a fine of 12,500 euros (around $14,700).

The conclusion of the trial, which began in 2018, marked the first time the Vatican had issued a prison sentence for financial crimes.

The sentence fell between an on-site Vatican inspection by Moneyval, the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering watchdog, and the publication of its report on the Vatican’s compliance with international financial standards.

The watchdog group’s assessment was that the sanctions in two Vatican convictions for self-laundering in 2018 and 2019 were “not proportionate and dissuasive.”

Moneyval also expressed doubt about the Vatican court’s ability to resolve complex financial cases in a timely manner.

Recent target of NY pro-abortion protests speaks out

Fr. Fidelis Moscinski, CFR (right) encounters protesters during the July 10 "Witness for Life" prayer procession in Brooklyn. / Jeffrey Bruno/Instagram/EWTN Pro-Life Weekly

Washington D.C., Jul 26, 2021 / 12:45 pm (CNA).

After pro-abortion protesters obstructed a July 10 pro-life rosary procession in Brooklyn, a priest leading the procession compared it to a “Way of the Cross.”

Pro-life advocate Fr. Fidelis Moscinski, CFR helped lead the “Witness for Life” prayer procession from St. Paul’s Catholic church in Brooklyn to the local Planned Parenthood clinic on July 10. Pro-abortion protesters physically impeded the march and harassed participants; the procession took two hours to traverse seven blocks, according to march leaders.

“When we go to the abortion clinic, it’s as if we’re going to modern-day Calvary, where innocent blood is shed,” Fr. Moscinski told EWTN Pro-Life Weekly in an interview on Thursday, July 22. “And our procession there, on that day, was kind of like a Way of the Cross for us.”

“I was kind of thinking of the abuse that Our Lord suffered when He was carrying His cross to Calvary,” he said, noting that “we were all in a spirit of prayer there, we were praying the rosary as we went.”

“So it was difficult, but we persevered, and we did finally get there.”

Brooklyn’s Witness for Life day of prayer, which occurs on the second Saturday of each month, normally begins with an 8 a.m. Mass at St. Paul’s church. A rosary procession to the local Planned Parenthood clinic follows Mass. 

However, on July 10, the group New York City for Abortion Rights (NYCFAR) gathered outside St. Paul’s before the morning Mass and chanted throughout the Mass. Some of their chants outside the church included “Our bodies, our lives, our right to decide,” as well as “St. Paul’s Church harasses patients” and “Free abortion on demand, can we win it? Yes we can.” 

Protestors held signs with phrases including “God loves abortion,” and “This church harasses women.” 

NYCFAR targeted Moscinski in flyers as the “leader” of the pro-life march and described him as “far from peaceful.”

Photos of the procession showed pro-abortion advocates holding signs and smoking cigarettes in the face of Fr. Moscinski. EWTN Pro-Life Weekly host Catherine Hadro asked Moscinski how he found peace amidst the chaos 

“We had just come from celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We received Jesus in Holy Communion, and He’s the source of our peace and our strength,” he said. “And when I was looking at those people, I was thinking ‘these people are not the enemy. They’re deceived.’”

When asked what more pro-life advocates could do to fight abortion, Fr. Moscinski said that “prayer and fasting” is necessary. 

“We need to discover again the humility and courage to pray and fast,” he said. “And I think that’s something we could all do a lot better.”

“Pro-life is the pre-eminent issue in the United States, and every Catholic has to be actively engaged in the pro-life movement in some way,” he said in the July 24 interview. “Not everybody can do everything,” he said, “but everybody has to do at least something.”

The July 10 encounter between pro-abortion protestors and “Witness for Life” was the second such incident in as many months. At the previous month’s Witness for Life event, NYCFAR organized a protest as well.

Moscinski told Hadro the situation for the pro-life movement in the area is “challenging and difficult,” noting the almost 300 abortions that take place each day in the state. 

Moscinski has been arrested multiple times in “red rose rescues,” where he enters abortion clinics and attempts to counsel women seeking abortion to choose life. 

“Our measure of our love for Christ is determined by what we do to save the least among us,” Moscinski said, “because the Lord said whatever you did to the least of my brothers you did to me.” 

Fr. Jacques Hamel: Catholic priest honored 5 years after he was killed at Mass in terrorist attack

Fr. Jacques Hamel. / Diocese of Rouen via Wikipedia.

Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, France, Jul 26, 2021 / 09:00 am (CNA).

Catholic Archbishop Dominique Lebrun of Rouen celebrated a Mass on Monday marking the fifth anniversary of the murder of Fr. Jacques Hamel in a terrorist attack.

The Mass took place at the church of Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, in northern France, where Hamel was killed by supporters of the Islamic State during Mass on July 26, 2016.

In his homily, based on the day’s Gospel reading, Lebrun said: “The Kingdom of God is built from the smallest of seeds or a little leaven. How can we not think of Fr. Jacques Hamel, an anti-celebrity priest, working in a parish that was apparently little-noticed, who sowed by his presence, by his welcome, by his preaching?”

“It takes time, the time of the plant that grows, the time of the leaven that makes the dough rise. Time is an ally. We are only at the fifth anniversary, if I dare say so.”

Gérald Darmanin, France’s interior minister, attended both the Mass and a civil commemoration in the town in the Normandy region.

“Isn’t murdering a priest in his church a profound attack on the soul of France?” he asked in a video posted on his Twitter account. “And by striking the Catholic Church, the Church of France, the terrorists did not simply strike those who believed in God, they evidently struck all French people.”

The French weekly La Vie published documents earlier this month indicating that the attackers, who were shot dead by police as they exited the church, communicated beforehand with a senior ISIS operative based in Syria.

AFP reported on July 26 that four people suspected of involvement in the attack are scheduled to go on trial in Paris on Feb. 14, 2022.

The Rouen archdiocese began a preliminary inquiry into Hamel’s sainthood cause in 2016 after Pope Francis waived the traditional five-year waiting period.

Lebrun -- who was Hamel’s bishop -- announced the formal opening of the priest’s cause on April 13, 2017.

During the diocesan phase of the cause, archivists transcribed 600 homilies preached by Hamel, reported the French Catholic television channel KTO.

Lebrun gave the French section of Vatican News an update on the cause on July 24.

He said: “As you know, the pope dispensed us from the five-year time limit for opening the cause, which made it possible to carry out the diocesan investigation.”

“And if I may say so, providentially, this dispensation was welcome because a few weeks ago, the first eyewitness, Jeanine Coponet, passed away, just before the five years elapsed.”

“Then, two years ago, we filed the acts of the diocesan investigation. A year ago, we received the decree of validity, which means that the investigation is valid.”

“Now, all the testimonies are registered at the [Vatican] Congregation for the Causes of Saints and it is no longer ours. We are waiting wisely and I think it is good that the five-year deadline is being respected.”

Benedict XVI laments lack of faith within Church institutions in Germany

Pope Benedict XVI on Aug. 28, 2010. / L'Osservatore Romano.

Freiburg, Jul 26, 2021 / 06:30 am (CNA).

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI has expressed concern about the lack of faith within Church institutions in Germany.

The retired pope made the comments in a written conversation in the August issue of the German magazine Herder Korrespondenz, marking the 70th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.

“In Church institutions -- hospitals, schools, Caritas -- many people participate in decisive positions who do not share the inner mission of the Church and thus in many cases obscure the witness of this institution,” he said.

In an exchange with Tobias Winstel, the 94-year-old reflected on the concept of the “Amtskirche,” a German term that can be translated as “institutional Church” and is used to refer to the large number of Church-tax funded structures and institutions in Germany.

He wrote: “The word ‘Amtskirche’ was coined to express the contrast between what is officially demanded and what is personally believed. The word ‘Amtskirche’ insinuates an inner contradiction between what the faith actually demands and signifies and its depersonalization.”

He suggested that many texts issued by the German Church were crafted by people for whom faith was largely institutional.

“In this sense, I must admit that for a large part of institutional Church texts in Germany, the word ‘Amtskirche’ does indeed apply,” he commented.

He continued: “As long as in institutional Church texts only the office, but not the heart and the spirit, speak, so long the exodus from the world of faith will continue.”

Benedict, who was prefect of Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith before he was elected pope, said: “That’s why it seemed important to me then, as it does now, to take the person out of the cover of office and expect a real personal testimony of faith from the spokesmen of the Church.”

In the conversation, Benedict also discussed an issue that he had highlighted in 2011, during his final trip to Germany before his resignation as pope in 2013.

In an address in Freiburg, a university town in southwest Germany, he implicitly criticized aspects of the German Church, referring to a tendency to give “greater weight to organization and institutionalization” than to the Church’s “vocation to openness towards God.”

Benedict called in the speech for a “Church that is detached from worldliness,” using the German phrase “entweltlichte Kirche.”

The former pope told Herder Korrespondenz that he now felt that the term was inadequate.

“The word ‘Entweltlichung’ [‘detachment from worldliness’] indicates the negative part of the movement I am concerned with,” he wrote. “The positive is not sufficiently expressed by it.”

Rather, he said, it is about stepping out of the constraints of a particular time “into the freedom of faith.”

In the written exchange, Benedict also warned Catholics against the danger of seeking a “flight into pure doctrine.”

Benedict, who was the Vatican’s doctrinal chief from 1982 to 2005, said that attempting such a flight was “completely unrealistic.”

“A doctrine that would exist like a nature preserve separated from the daily world of faith and its needs would be at the same time an abandonment of faith itself,” he said.

In the conversation, Benedict was also asked whether he was a good pastor when he served at Precious Blood church in the Bogenhausen district of Munich after his ordination on June 29, 1951.

“Whether I have been a good priest and pastor, I dare not judge,” he replied, adding that he had tried “to live up to the demands of my ministry and ordination.”

How priests prepare to say Mass

Newly ordained priests are vested during their Mass of Ordination in St. Peter's Basilica, April 26, 2015. / Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

Washington D.C., Jul 26, 2021 / 06:01 am (CNA).

In preparation for Mass, priests make ready the sacred vessels, linens, and vestments that they use. Afterward, they take care to clean up. Every action they take, every word they say, stresses the importance of the Mass.

Two priests located in Washington, D.C., Fr. William Foley at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament and Fr. Charles Gallagher at Immaculate Conception, gave a behind-the-scenes look to EWTN News In Depth July 16.

Preparations for Mass are made in the sacristy.

“One of the first things I do is to make sure the chalice is ready,” Fr. Foley said. 

Priests often receive a chalice at their ordination. His family, he said, purchased his from a chalice maker in Montreal, Canada, over 42 years ago.

Both the chalice and the paten, a plate that holds the hosts, consist of precious metals.

“The reason why the paten is – and the chalice – are so beautiful,” Fr. Gallagher said, is “because they really touch God. And we want to give the best we have to God.”

Linens also play a critical role in the Mass. The corporal, which takes its name from the Latin word for “body,” is a square linen cloth that often has a cross embroidered on it. 

 

It exists, Fr. Foley said, so that “during the Mass, when the priest breaks the host, nothing falls off of it.” Instead, the cloth catches the body of Christ. 

Fr. Gallagher also discussed the purificator. 

“So after the chalice is used,” he said, “I consume the remaining precious blood and I rinse it with water and then I use the purificator to wipe it and to dry it.”

After the vessels and linens are prepared, the priest vests.

First, the priest “says a special prayer to wash his hands,” Fr. Gallagher said.

“This prayer in Latin says, ‘Give, Lord, strength to my hands to wipe out all stain so that, without pollution of mind or body, I may dare to serve You,’” he translated.

One layer at a time, the priest gets ready for Mass.

“The first is called an amice,” said Fr. Gallagher, pointing to a white cloth that wraps around the shoulders and neck. “This is really meant to be like a helmet of salvation.”

Then, “over the amice, I put on the alb,” he said. The floor-length white vestment with sleeves is put on with the prayer “Wash me clean, Lord, and cleanse me from my sin; that I may rejoice and be glad unendingly with them that have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb.”

Around the alb, the priest places a cincture, the prayer for which is: “Gird me, Lord, with the belt of faith, my loins with the virtue of chastity, and extinguish in them the humour of lust; that the strength of all chastity may ever abide in me.”

Next comes the stole, at which the priest prays, “Restore to me, Lord, I beseech Thee, the stole of immortality, which I lost in the transgression of the first father; and, though unworthy I presume to approach Thy sacred mystery with this garment, grant that I may merit to rejoice in it forever.”

Finally, the priest dons the chasuble, a sleeveless and often ornate outer vestment, praying, “O Lord, who said: my yoke is sweet and my burden light: grant that I may be able so to bear it, so that I may be able to obtain Thy grace.”

The point of the prayers for the vestments “is that the priest is covering up his humanity, because it's Our Lord Jesus who celebrates the Mass,” Fr. Gallagher emphasized. “So all of these different elements help the priest realize it's Our Lord Jesus who is taking over.”

He added, “Yes, he uses my voice, my hands, my gestures, but it's really Our Lord and his power that is able to change the bread into his body.”

Following the Mass, the linens and the vessels must be cleaned.

“It's washed in a very special way,” Fr. Foley said, pointing to the corporal. “Because it may, it comes in contact with the precious host, the precious blood.”

Fr. Gallagher added, “It would soak for a few days in water along with any other – the sacred linens.” That water is later “poured into a special sink that we call a sacrarium.”

The sacrarium, Fr. Foley said, “goes not into the sewer system, but into the dirt, into the ground,” so that “the precious body and blood of the Lord does not get mingled with sewage.”

Their actions and words point to the reverence due to the Mass and the body and blood of Christ.

“The Mass is actually not one of the most time-consuming things we do, but it is the most important thing we do,” Fr. Gallagher concluded. “So that's why it's sort of shrouded with all these special rituals, prayers of preparation to help the priest prepare and celebrate Mass very well. And that's the most important thing he can do for his people.”