Posts Tagged ‘Europe’

Woman bishop challenges future of Anglican-Catholic dialogue

London, England, Jan 30, 2015 / 03:04 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- While the consecration of the Church of England’s first woman bishop presents significant challenges in bringing Catholics and Anglicans into “closer communion,” ecumenical leaders say the door to dialogue remains open.

The consecration of Libby Lane as an Anglican bishop earlier this month creates a “further challenge to a hope of organic reunion”, said David Moxon, another Anglican bishop, in a Jan. 29 interview with CNA, reiterating concerns expressed by Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham.

Moxon and Archbishop Longley are co-chairs of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC), which aims to advance ecumenical relations between the Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.

In a Jan. 27 interview with Vatican Radio, Archbishop Longley, acknowledging the challenges presented by Lane’s Anglican episcopal consecration, stressed that it “shouldn’t affect the way in which the dialogue is continued.”

The Birmingham archbishop’s confidence that dialogue will go on despite this latest development is “very important to us”, Moxon said.

On Jan. 26, Lane was consecrated in York Minster as the Anglican Bishop of Stockport. She is the first woman to be consecrated a bishop for the Church of England, after its general synod in Nov. 2014 voted to allow for women bishops.

However, Moxon acknowledged that not everyone in the Church of England is on board, with some people unable to recognize the authority of a woman bishop. In response, the Church of England general synod made provisions for those in this category, allowing them to operate under the authority of what is sometimes referred to as a “flying bishop”.

“People who don’t agree with the ordination of a woman as a bishop don’t have to come under her authority,” he said, nor do they “have to be licensed to the bishop who will ordain women to be bishop or to be priests.”

While Lane represents the first bishop consecrated for the Church of England, Moxon stressed that the existence of women priests and bishops within the Anglican Communion is not a new challenge in ecumenical dialogue with the Catholic Church.

As ARCIC prepares for its upcoming meeting in Rome in May, he said the decision to consecate Lane as bishop will be on the agenda, “but, it won’t be seen as a crisis. It will be seen as a challenge which we knew was already there.”

Over the last four decades, some of the 38 Anglican provinces have been electing to allow for the ordination of women and bishops. Included among them is Linda Nicholls, Anglican Bishop of Toronto and ARCIC member.

“The ordination itself is one step in a long process that began nearly forty years ago,” said Bishop Brian Farrell, L.C., secretary for the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, in a Jan. 29 email interview with CNA.

He said ARCIC “has continued in spite of this development, and has taken account of the challenge this new situation represents to our growing into closer communion.”

Members of the ecumenical organization “will have to face the whole question of our disagreement on the implications of the sacramental nature of ordained ministry”, he added.

“Nobody on either side underestimates the difficulties involved.”

The bishop went on to cite the Second Vatican Council’s recognition of the affinity between the Church and the Anglican Communion, noting their “many common traditions and structures.”

However, while “some parts” of the “shared Christian life and patrimony” between Anglicans and Catholics have grown stronger through dialogue, others have weakened.

This weakening, he explained, is largely due “to an acceptance by some parts of the Anglican Communion of the idea that important aspects of the Christian message and Christian living can change as a result of changed cultural attitudes”.

Bishop Farrell added that this challenge is also felt among some Catholics.

“Where we differ is in the way the Churches reach authoritative decisions about these matters. This is precisely the issue that ARCIC is discussing in the present phase of dialogue.”

One of the central aspects of the challenge presented by this latest development in dialogue lies in the fact that the Catholic Church is unable to change its teaching on the ordination of women as priests, much less as bishops.

In the 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, St. John Paul II wrote that “in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”

Nonetheless, while Pope Francis and his predecessors have lauded the essential role of women in the Church, the debate among Catholics in certain circles over ordination of women continues to thrive.

“There is vast space in the Catholic Church for women to take on a greater leadership role,” Bishop Farrell said.

He went on to clarify that “specific debate about women’s ordination is based on a mistaken concept of ministry as ‘power’ in the Church.”

This errant understanding stems from the way “our whole tradition has tended to reinforce that idea in the way the priesthood has been presented and exercised,” he added.

“A truly profound conversion and reform in the way we think about the priestly ministry is needed.”

Will the number of dioceses in Italy be cut in the near future?

Rome, Italy, Jan 28, 2015 / 12:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A plan to reduce the number of Italian dioceses has been widely debated in the Italian bishops conference, and a first draft of the plan has reportedly already been given to the Congregation for Bishops and has undergone some adjustments.

There are currently 222 dioceses in Italy.

An internal commission to study a possible reduction of Italian dioceses, by consolidation, had been established under Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis referred to it during his May 23, 2013 meeting with the General Assembly of Italian Bishops.

“I know that there is a commission to reduce a little the number of the dioceses… it is not easy, but there is a commission for this,” Pope Francis said.

According to a source who works in the Italian bishops conference, the first draft for a possible reduction of Italian dioceses was given to the Congregation for Bishops earlier this month, suggesting the suppression of all dioceses with fewer than 100,000 inhabitants. The suppressed dioceses would be merged with larger existing dioceses.

This draft has undergone some adjustments. At the moment, the plan would suggest the suppression of dioceses with fewer than 90,000 inhabitants.

In Italy, there are 36 dioceses which would fail to meet the 90,000 mark. Perhaps the best known of these is the Diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra – Gualdo Tadino, which hosts the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi but has only 88,000 inhabitants.

The Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino diocese is in the vicinity of several other dioceses smaller than 90,000 persons, including the Citta di Castello, Foligno, and Gubbio dioceses.

The Diocese of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino is itself the fruit of an earlier reduction in the number of Italian dioceses.

In 1986, St. John Paul II suppressed 101 dioceses in the country, setting the number to the current 222, plus five territorial abbeys.

That year, the Diocese of Assisi was united with the Diocese of Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino. That diocese, in turn, was created through the 1915 union of the Diocese of Gualdo Tadino with the Diocese of Nocera Umbra.

Thus Italy’s 222 dioceses serve the 49.3 million Catholics in the country which has an area of 116,000 square miles.

By way of comparison, in the US there are only 177 dioceses to serve the country’s 76.5 million Catholics, spread over 3.8 million square miles.

The possible reduction of the Italian dioceses is still under discussion. However, the issue is not on the agenda of the Permanent Council of the Italian bishops conference, which is in the midst of its Jan. 26-28 meeting.

Blessed Odoardo Focherini, the father of seven who saved 100 Jewish lives

Rome, Italy, Jan 27, 2015 / 05:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- As Pope Francis tweeted Jan. 27 to observe the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, it is worth remembering Bl. Odoardo Focherini, who died a martyr to rescue Jews from Nazi persecution.

Tuesday marks the anniverary of the 1945 liberation by Soviet troops of the death camp where some 1.1 million people – the vast majority of them Jews – were put to death by the Nazis.

“Auschwitz cries out with the pain of immense suffering and pleads for a future of respect, peace and encounter among peoples,” Pope Francis tweeted this morning.

When he was arrested over his inolvement in the salvation of 100 Jews from a similar fate, Bl. Focherini was 37, had been married 14 years, and had seven children.

Most of his children have only a vague memory of their father. On March 11, 1944, the day of his arrest, his eldest daughter Olga was 13.

Born in Carpi in 1907, Bl. Focherini worked with L’Osservatore Romano and was managing director of the Catholic newspaper L’Avvenire d’Italia.

He began his work to help save Jews in 1942. Cardinal Piero Boetto of Genoa told Raimondo Manzini, then editor of L’Avvenire d’Italia the story of some Polish Jews who had arrived aboard of a train of injured people.

Manzini entrusted Focherini with the issue. Focherini thus started an enduring work of assistance to Jewish refugees, and his commitment increased after the armistice the Italian government signed Sept. 8, 1943 and the following Nazi occupation of Italy.

Bl. Focherini built a network in order to get blank identity cards, which he eventually filled with false data and gave to the persecuted, whom he accompanied to the border with Switzerland.

This network helped 100 Jews to escape Nazi persecution.

On March 11, 1944, he organized the salvage operation of Enrico Donati, a Jewish medical doctor who was imprisoned in the concentration camp of Fossoli, near Carpi, in northern Italy. Bl. Focherini took Donati out of the concentration camp with the excuse of an urgent surgery the doctor had to perform but, once he arrived at the hospital, Focherini was arrested.

Bl. Focherini was first imprisoned in Bologna, then transferred to the concentration camp in Fossoli, and then in the concentration camps of Gries, near the Austrian border, then Flossemburg and finally in Hersbruck, in Germany.

He died there Dec. 27, 1944 of septicemia after a wound in his leg became infected.

The most important testimony of his Christian life are the 166 letters he wrote to his wife Maria Marchesi. In his testament, Focherini wrote that he died “offering his life in holocaust for his diocese and for Catholic Action.”

His heroism was soon acknowledged: Yad Vashem gave him the title “Righteous Among the Nations” in 1969.

The seventieth anniversary of his death fell exactly one month before the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

His martyrdom was recognized by Benedict XVI in 2012, and he beatified June 15, 2013 in Modena.

On the occasion of the beatification Mass, Bishop Francesco Cavina of Carpi said that Odoardo’s life proved that “who rejoices in the encounter with Christ becomes more human, more real. Odoardo worked hard in all aspects of his life; he also ran the risk not to be understood, but he accepted being a prophet in the world, and this is the mission of every Christian.”

Beatification cause opened for founder of Focolare movement

Rome, Italy, Jan 24, 2015 / 07:48 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Bishop Rafaello Martinelli of Frascati, Italy, has announced that the beatification cause will be opened for the founder of the Focolare movement, Chiara Lubich.

The ceremony will take place on …

Ahead of Synod, UK Catholics to venerate relics of St Therese’s parents

Portsmouth, England, Jan 16, 2015 / 05:06 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholics in the Diocese of Portsmouth will have an invaluable opportunity this May to venerate the relics of St. Therese of Lisieux’s parents, a saintly married couple, ahead of the …

Scottish archbishop credits God’s grace for healing process in diocese

Edinburgh, Scotland, Jan 13, 2015 / 05:18 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Following the 2013 resignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brien as Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, his successor acknowledges the healing process for the diocese is continuing by God’s grace, but will take time.

“Time is a great healer, and that is certainly helping us. But there is also the grace of God assisting us in moving on from any difficulties we might have had in the past,” Archbishop Leo Cushley of St. Andrews and Edinburgh told CNA in an interview on Monday.

His predecessor resigned shortly before the 2013 conclave that elected Pope Francis, amid allegations that he made inappropriate sexual advances toward three priests in the 1980s. The cardinal later admitted the allegations to be true.

The new archbishop had a heavy burden ahead of him but promised “reconciliation and healing” for the archdiocese, and acknowledged the healing process is a “delicate” one.

“It’s something that I’ve spent a lot of time on, and a lot of effort on, but it’s also been done I think discreetly; it’s got to be done quietly, it’s got to be done with great patience, and with great gentleness,” Archbishop Cushley said. “Because there are still people on both sides of this argument who are hurting. And who are looking for answers.”

The archbishop also shared how Scotland has been faring since its Sept. 18 referendum on independence, noted how a new marriage preparation program in his diocese is becoming a model for the rest of Scotland, and explained the differing personalities of Pope Francis and Benedict XVI, which he learned during his time as a diplomat for the Holy See.

As Scottish citizens voted on the all-important question of independence from the United Kingdom this past September, the country was an exemplar of civility and unity, he said.

“There was a huge turnout, it was a robust but a friendly and a democratic debate. It went very well indeed. Many, many people participated,” he said.

“Many countries tear themselves to shreds on this very subject. But we managed to do this without a civil war. In fact, even better than that, we managed to do it without anything close to that.”

“A few eggs were thrown,” he quipped.  

Ahead of the ordinary Synod on the Family being held in October, the archdiocese has also created a new marriage preparation program for couples – a coincidence, Archbishop Cushley said. The new program was needed right away.

“What happened was there had been a Catholic marriage service for the whole of Scotland, and it had gradually become independent. And it was being part funded by the state, and so it was no longer Catholic.”

“One day we woke up and discovered it was no longer serving our purposes.”

“We’re still tweaking it,” he said. “There are one or two things about it that I’d like to make stronger.”

Another diocese is already taking notice, though. “We all now need it in Scotland,” he affirmed.

Before his appointment as Edinburgh’s archbishop, Cushley served as a diplomat for the Holy See in places as disparate as New York City and Burundi. From his time as a diplomat under both Benedict and Pope Francis, he came to know the popes’ differing personalities and had some anecdotes to share about Pope Francis.

“I’ve compared them again and again in my head, and there was only one thing on the list that set them apart from each other,” he said. “And that was that Pope Benedict was a Bavarian gentleman who was very courteous to people, very correct, and a little bit reserved. He liked people, but he was reserved. Whereas Pope Francis is a much more – the Italians would say a solar personality. He’s much sunnier, he’s much more open.”

Each is a “man of prayer,” he noted. “The thing is one is introverted and one is extroverted, and that for me was almost the most important thing in the day-to-day that I could see between the two.”

Pope Francis now walks daily from his residence at Casa Santa Marta to the apostolic palace, the archbishop said from what he has heard since he left Rome in the summer of 2013.

He included anecdotes of Francis from his brief time working under the Holy Father before his promotion.

“I can remember going into the library where he meets his guests, and he had disappeared this morning. He wasn’t there,” Cushley noted.

“And then I noticed the curtain twitching, and he came from the other side of the curtain. And he said ‘I’m here, it’s okay.’ And he had the rosary in his hand. And he said ‘I was just praying for the people out in the square, I could see them out in St. Peter’s Square.’ And if they had looked up, they would have seen the pope looking up at them, and just telling his beads and saying a prayer for them. And it was just the loveliest, simplest thing to do.”

And what will Francis see when he visits the U.S. next September?

“I am sure that the American Church will give him the warmest of welcomes,” the archbishop said. “And I’m just hoping that he’ll speak a bit of English. That would be nice.”

For refugees, Spanish bishops propose ‘a Church without borders, Mother for all’

Albacete, Spain, Jan 13, 2015 / 02:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Spanish bishops have released a message for their nation’s Day of the Immigrant and Refugee, which will be held Jan. 18, entitled “A Church without borders, a Mother for all.”

Bishop Ciriaco Benavente Mateos of Albacete told CNA, “Today there is much talk about borders, and sometimes immigration is seen almost as an attack, but the theme of the day sums up the spirit of a Church without borders, a Church that is Mother and embraces all people, as did Jesus.”

Bishop Benavente is president of the Spanish bishops’ migration committee, and he noted that the flow of immigrants and how to regulate them are difficult problems to solve because “on the one hand entrance has to be regulated as a right of the state, but we need to understand that when immigration occurs because of a situation of profound need, it is not a whim.”

Those who come “fleeing from the hunger that knows nor borders or limits” should be welcomed, he added.

Fr. Jose Luis Pinilla, S.J., director of the migration committee, said today’s immigrants are more like refugees, and require greater assistance.

Spain is has the fifth largest number of illegal immigrants in Europe, he noted, and they need to be integrated and made a part of Spanish society.

In their statement, the bishops pointed to the “stimulating, luminous and prophetic” message that Pope Francis has sent to the Church inviting everyone to “contemplate Jesus” by reaching out “to the vulnerable and excluded and to recognize his suffering face in the victims of the new forms of poverty and slavery, to embrace his clear and forceful words: ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me’.”

The phenomenon of immigration must be met “with the globalization of charity and cooperation,” the bishops said, which entails “greater effort to create more humane living conditions in their countries of origin and a progressive lessening of the causes that lead to migration, which demand action.”

To this end, “A more just and equitable economic and financial order must be developed worldwide,” they stated.

‘Hermeneutics of compassion’: how a crucifix restoration offers hope to the poor

Rome, Italy, Jan 11, 2015 / 04:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- After receiving inspiration from an aged crucifix, Cardinal James Stafford commissioned it to be restored as a sign of compassion for Rome’s suffering poor and unemployed population.


Reconciliation at heart of expectations for papal visit to Sri Lanka

Rome, Italy, Jan 9, 2015 / 04:04 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Falling just five years after the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war, Pope Francis’ visit to the country is seen as a sign of reconciliation, a message expected to be shown through his gesture…

Haitian amputees lace-up soccer cleats on Roman sports field

Rome, Italy, Jan 9, 2015 / 04:29 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Five years after the island of Haiti was devastated by a massive earthquake, three young amputees will have the opportunity to play soccer in Rome through the help of the Knights of Columbus.


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