Posts Tagged ‘vatican’

Pope: Easter invites return to our first encounter with Jesus

Vatican City, Apr 19, 2014 / 02:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In his homily for the Easter Vigil Pope Francis encouraged those present to remember the moment they first felt the love of God, saying that Jesus’ resurrection is a time to relive this experience anew.

“Returning to Galilee means treasuring in my heart the living memory of that call, when Jesus passed my way, gazed at me with mercy and asked me to follow him,” the pontiff said during the April 19 evening vigil, held every year the night before Easter as as a commemoration of Jesus’ resurrection.

“It means reviving the memory of that moment when his eyes met mine, the moment when he made me realize that he loved me.”

Beginning his reflections, Pope Francis recounted the events of the Gospel, recalling how when the women come to the tomb and found it empty an angel told them to go to Galilee and tell the disciples what they saw.

He added that on their way they met Jesus, who told them to do the same and that there, “they will see me…Don’t be afraid.”

Observing how “the disciples had scattered; their faith had been utterly shaken, everything seemed over, all their certainties had crumbled and their hopes had died” after Jesus’ death, the Pope explained that the women’s message, “incredible as it was, came to them like a ray of light in the darkness.”

After the women’s testimony “The news spread: Jesus is risen as he said,” the Pope stated, drawing attention to Jesus’ command for the women to return to Galilee. He noted that they “had heard it twice, first from the angel and then from Jesus himself: ‘Let them go to Galilee; there they will see me.’”

“Galilee is the place where they were first called, where everything began! To return there, to return to the place where they were originally called,” he observed.

“Jesus had walked along the shores of the lake as the fishermen were casting their nets. He had called them, and they left everything and followed him.”

Returning to Galilee, the pontiff continued, “means to re-read everything on the basis of the cross and its victory without fear.”

“To re-read everything – Jesus’ preaching, his miracles, the new community, the excitement and the defections, even the betrayal – to re-read everything starting from the end, which is a new beginning, from this supreme act of love.”

For each of us as well “there is a ‘Galilee’ at the origin of our journey with Jesus,” the Pope went on to say, expressing that this return is a beautiful rediscovery of our baptism which helps us to draw a new energy from the sources of our faith.

Returning to Galilee, he noted, “means above all to return to that blazing light with which God’s grace touched me at the start of the journey.”

“From that flame I can light a fire for today and every day, and bring heat and light to my brothers and sisters,” the Pope said, highlighting how “that flame ignites a humble joy, a joy which sorrow and distress cannot dismay, a good, gentle joy.”

Pope Francis then explained that there is “a more existential ‘Galilee’” in the life of every Christian after baptism, which is “the experience of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ who called me to follow him and to share in his mission.”

Addressing those in attendance, the Roman Pontiff encouraged each to ask themselves: “What is my Galilee? Where is my Galilee? Did it go away or I remember it? Have I forgotten it? Have I gone off on roads and paths which made me forget it?”

“Lord,” he prayed, “help me: tell me what my Galilee is; for you know that I want to return there to encounter you and to let myself be embraced by your mercy.”

Emphasizing how the Easter Gospel reading is “very clear,” the Pope said that “we need to go back there, to see Jesus risen, and to become witnesses of his resurrection.”

“This is not to go back in time; it is not a kind of nostalgia,” the pontiff clarified, but rather “it is returning to our first love, in order to receive the fire which Jesus has kindled in the world and to bring that fire to all people, to the very ends of the earth.”

“’Galilee of the Gentiles!’” he concluded, “Horizon of the Risen Lord, horizon of the Church; intense desire of encounter…Let us be on our way!”

Papal preacher slams ‘curse’ of money-driven corruption

Vatican City, Apr 18, 2014 / 11:17 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his homily for Good Friday’s Passion liturgy, Papal Preacher Raniero Cantalamessa decried the poisonous actions of those who exploit others for financial gain, urging all to repent of the…

Pope urges faithful to serve with radical love of Jesus

Vatican City, Apr 17, 2014 / 12:49 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- During his homily for Holy Thursday’s Mass at a center for disabled persons, Pope Francis reflected on how Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, calling it an act of loving service that we ought to imitate.

“He did it this way out of love. You too should love each other. Be servants in love,” the Pope said in his April 17 homily during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper.

Celebrated by the Church each year in commemoration of the institution of the Eucharist and Jesus’ call for his disciples to imitate him in serving others, this particular Mass was held in Don Gnocchi facility. Located in Rome’s Casal del Marmo area it serves as a rehabilitation center for the elderly and disabled.

Beginning his reflections, the pontiff immediately turned to the Gospel reading in which Jesus washes his disciples’ feet on his knees, explaining that this is an invitation, and telling those present that “you too should be servants, one to the other.”

Jesus’ act in washing the apostle’s feet “is a symbolic gesture,” he noted, emphasizing how “Slaves did it, servants did it.”

During that time when guests entered the house “it was necessary to wash their feet” because the streets were all made of dirt, the Pope continued, “And Jesus did this gesture, the work of a servant, of a slave.”

Highlighting how this act is a “legacy” that Jesus leaves to us, Pope Francis stated that “We should always be servants to one another,” and emphasized that it is for this reason the Church on Holy Thursday “commemorates the last supper of Jesus,” during which he institutes the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

Repeating that “We should be servants to one another,” the Roman Pontiff then explained that “Now I will do this same gesture, but all of us in our hearts think of others.”

“And we think of the love of Jesus who tells us that we should have for others. We think also how we can serve” Jesus well, “because this is what Jesus wanted for us.”

This marks the second year in a row that Pope Francis has chosen to celebrate the Mass of Our Lord’s Supper with those who are often pushed to the margins of society, having visited and washed the feet of inmates in a Roman Youth Detention Center.

Among the 12 persons whose feet the pontiff washed are nine Italians, one Muslim from Libya, a young man from Cape Verde and an Ethiopian woman who are all suffering from physical, neurological and oncological illnesses.

The youngest of those who had their feet washed is a 16-year-old youth named Oswaldinho who hails from Cape Verde and is completely paralyzed following a diving accident last summer. Not far behind Oswaldinho was 19-year-old Marco, who is a high school student and leader of his parish Youth Group, and who was diagnosed with a cerebral palsy just last year.

Eldest of the 12 was Pietro, 86, who has been a resident at the center for a year and who struggles with mobility and muscular deficiency. The second eldest was 75-year-old Hamed, who is a Muslim man originally from Libia, and who worked for the Itlian-Arab Chamber of Commerce before being involved in a traffic accident that caused serious neurological impairment.

The other eight who had their feet washed by the Pope are Orietta, 51, who suffers from an illness affecting her brain; Samuel, 66, who has had polio from his youth; Angelica, 86, the former president of Catholic Action in Italy, and has had hip replacement surgery twice; Daria, 39, has suffered with cerebral palsy from her childhood; Gianluca, 36, who from the age of 14 has undergone numerous operations as a result of meningitis; Stefano, 49, suffers from a serious cerebral and motor disorder; Giordana, 27 and from Ethiopia, suffers from cerebral palsy and epilepsy, and Walter, 59, who has Down’s Syndrome.

Tomorrow, Good Friday, Pope Francis is slated to preside over Mass commemorating the Lord’s Passion in St. Peter’s Basilica at 5p.m., after which he will lead faithful in the Stations of the Cross, a prayer commemorating the last events of Jesus life before he died on the Cross, at the Coliseum at 9:15p.m.

Priests must anoint others with oil of gladness, Pope reflects

Vatican City, Apr 17, 2014 / 04:54 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his homily given during the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday, Pope Francis spoke on the joy of the priestly vocation, saying a cleric “is useless” unless his happiness is found in the grace of God.

“Anointed with the oil of gladness so as to anoint others with the oil of gladness,” the pontiff said April 17, noting that priestly joy “is a priceless treasure, not only for the priest himself but for the entire faithful people of God.”

Pope Francis made his remarks on the priesthood during the morning’s Chrism Mass, which takes place in the Catholic Church each year on Holy Thursday and involves the blessing of oils used for the sacraments of Confirmation, Holy Orders and the Anointing of the Sick.

Highlighting how priestly joy has its source in the Father’s love, Pope Francis said that “I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that (the) priest is very little indeed: the incomparable grandeur of the gift granted us for the ministry sets us among the least of men.”

“The priest is the poorest of men unless Jesus enriches him by his poverty, the most useless of servants unless Jesus calls him his friend, the most ignorant of men unless Jesus patiently teaches him as he did Peter, the frailest of Christians unless the Good Shepherd strengthens him in the midst of the flock,” the Pope continued, adding that “No one is more ‘little’ than a priest left to his own devices.”

Encouraging priests to seek the protection of Mary and to echo her words in the Gospel, saying “I am a priest because he has regarded my littleness,” he explained that “in that littleness we find our joy.”

Drawing attention to three important characteristics of this joy, the pontiff observed that it is a gladness that anoints, is imperishable and is also missionary.

On the anointing, the Pope reflected that this joy “has penetrated deep within our hearts, it has shaped them and strengthened them sacramentally.”

Through all the signs and actions performed during the rite of ordination, he added, “Grace fills us to the brim and overflows, fully, abundantly and entirely in each priest.”

“We are anointed down to our very bones…and our joy, which wells up from deep within, is the echo of this anointing.”

Turning to the imperishable quality of this gladness, the Pope explained that the fullness of this gift is something “which no one can take away or increase,” and “is an unfailing source of joy.”

“It can lie dormant, or be clogged by sin or by life’s troubles, yet deep down it remains intact, like the embers of a burnt log beneath the ashes, and it can always be renewed,” he continued.

Highlighting the missionary quality of priestly joy, Pope Francis emphasized that it “is deeply bound up with God’s holy and faithful people, for it is an eminently missionary joy,” adding that “Our anointing is meant for anointing God’s holy and faithful people,” to baptize, bless, comfort and evangelize them.

The Bishop of Rome pointed out that since this joy “only springs up when the shepherd is in the midst of his flock,” it is a “guarded joy” which is “watched over by the flock itself.”

“Even in those gloomy moments when everything looks dark and a feeling of isolation takes hold of us, in those moments of listlessness and boredom which at times overcome us in our priestly life (and which I too have experienced), even in those moments God’s people are able to ‘guard’ that joy,” he stated.

Pope Francis then alluded to three “sisters” of this guarded joy who “surround it, tend it and defend it,” revealing that they are “sister poverty, sister fidelity and sister obedience.”

“Priestly joy is a joy which is sister to poverty,” he observed, noting that “the priest is poor in terms of purely human joy. He has given up so much! And because he is poor, he, who gives so much to others, has to seek his joy from the Lord and from God’s faithful people.”

On how the priest does not need to create this joy for himself, the pontiff expressed that it is found in his belonging to God and to his holy people.

“The priest who tries to find his priestly identity by soul-searching and introspection may well encounter nothing more than ‘exit’ signs,” the Pope continued, “signs that say: exit from yourself, exit to seek God in adoration, go out and give your people what was entrusted to you.”

“Unless you ‘exit’ from yourself, the oil grows rancid and the anointing cannot be fruitful,” he explained, stating that “going out from ourselves presupposes self-denial; it means poverty.”

Moving on to the theme of fidelity, the Pope highlighted that priestly joy is also a “sister to fidelity,” but “Not primarily in the sense that we are all ‘immaculate,’ for we are sinners, but in the sense of an ever renewed fidelity to the one Bride, to the Church.”

Whenever the priest “does all that he has to do and lets go of everything that he has to let go of, as long as he stands firm amid the flock which the Lord has entrusted to him,” his mission will bring him joy.

Calling attention to obedience as a sister to this priestly joy, Pope Francis stated that it is “An obedience to the Church in the hierarchy which gives us, as it were, not simply the external framework for our obedience…but also union with God the Father, the source of all fatherhood.”

“It is likewise an obedience to the Church in service: in availability and readiness to serve everyone, always and as best I can,” he went on to say, noting that through obedience “Wherever God’s people have desires or needs, there is the priest, who knows how to listen and feels a loving mandate from Christ who sends him to relieve that need with mercy.”

“All who are called should know that genuine and complete joy does exist in this world,” he added, highlighting that “it is the joy of being taken from the people we love and then being sent back to them as dispensers of the gifts and counsels of Jesus” that is true.

Pope Francis then prayed that “on this priestly Thursday” Jesus would enable “many young people to discover that burning zeal which joy kindles in our hearts as soon as we have the stroke of boldness needed to respond willingly to his call.”

He also prayed that the Lord would preserve the joy “sparkling in the eyes of the recently ordained who go forth to devour the world,” and to confirm the joy “of those who have already ministered for some years,” especially those who “bear the burden of the ministry” and who “having experienced the labors of the apostolate, gather their strength and rearm themselves.”

Concluding his homily, the Roman Pontiff also prayed that Jesus “make better known the joy of elderly priests, whether healthy or infirm,” adding that “It is the joy of the Cross, which springs from the knowledge that we possess an imperishable treasure in perishable earthen vessels.”

“May these priests find happiness wherever they are; may they experience already, in the passage of the years, a taste of eternity,” he asked.

And “may they know the joy of handing on the torch, the joy of seeing new generations of their spiritual children, and of hailing the promises from afar, smiling and at peace, in that hope which does not disappoint.”

John XXIII, John Paul II linked by love of dialogue with world

Vatican City, Apr 17, 2014 / 12:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- John XXIII and John Paul II, who will be canonized April 27, are “bound together” by their love for addressing the world in conversation, a cardinal who worked with them both has said….

Pope is bringing human trafficking into public eye, ambassador says

Vatican City, Apr 16, 2014 / 12:35 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis is contributing to the fight against human trafficking by making the matter a frequent point of public discourse, says a U.S. ambassador who specializes in the subject.
 
Luis …

Vatican to launch webpage detailing work of Popes on women

Vatican City, Apr 16, 2014 / 10:25 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Leading up to the canonizations of Bl. John Paul II and John XXIII, the Pontifical Council for the Laity will publish a new webpage highlighting the emphasis both pontiffs placed on the role of women.

Referring to the upcoming canonizations, Ana Christiana Villa, a consecrated laywoman of the Marian Community of Reconciliation and head of the Womens’ Department of the Council for the Laity, explained to CNA April 16 that the new webpage is designed to bring attention to the effect of the Popes’ work through the voices of women themselves.

Containing testimonies from 11 women around the world, as well as writings on women from the Magisterium of both Roman Pontiffs, Villa explained that her office thought of the webpage because they wanted to create something “to commemorate the two Pope saints.”

“We thought to ask different women from around the world what they thought this canonization meant in general for the Church and in particular for Catholic women.”

“So we had a very beautiful group…from different countries and continents,” she said, who are “writing us with their reflections, their thinking, but also their testimonies of what these Popes have meant in their lives.”

A great desire for the webpage, Villa said, is to take advantage of “this historical opportunity of two Popes being canonized together, two Popes that are very recent Saints, that lived in our modern times.”

They both lived, she went on to say, “many of the challenges that we are living also today, and showed us their witness of how to live these challenges as a Christian, and with a deep Christian faith.”

“(It) is a very beautiful moment for us to raise the voices of women thanking them for their witness and also for the teachings they developed on women. They both have important roles.”

Recounting how the idea of webpage originally came about, Villa explained that it began when they were researching the works of John XXIII.

Drawing attention to his encyclical “Pacem in Terris,” which emphasizes the importance of peace in the world, the laywoman revealed that in the document, John XXIII also “wrote very beautifully” about “the presence, the growing presence of women in society and life.”

Observing how it was the early 1960s when the encyclical came out, Villa reflected that his words on women were “to be considered a sign of the times, and something beautiful.”

“So we started digging into what other things has he said about women, and so that’s how the idea came up of gathering a page of his Magisterium on women, which is not as large as (that of) John Paul II, but it is very interesting because it was the very beginning of many changes.”

Highlighting how at that time John XXIII was “already there as a father, as a brother in Christ, illuminating from the Catholic faith these new paths that were opening in the lives of women,” Villa expressed that “we want to bring light to that, that he did speak about women too, and he had something to say in those very first years of many changes.”

“And also, obviously John Paul II for women, and for women in particular in the Church, is a real father and a real point of reference,” she continued, adding that “his Magisterium has been so rich, so deep.”

“I think that it is informing and will inform for the years to come all the work for the dignity and vocation of women that is done in the Church but also in society.”

When asked if the page will remain a permanent part of the Council’s website, Villa responded, “yes, we’re going to leave it there.”

Revealing that the page will hopefully be launched the Thursday before the canonizations, the laywoman explained that “it’s going to be there as a permanent homage to these two Pope saints, and how they opened the ways for women each one in their own way.”

Pope Francis: kiss the crucifix, kiss the wounds of Jesus

Vatican City, Apr 16, 2014 / 05:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his general audience address Pope Francis spoke on the meaning of suffering and evil, explaining that it is a mystery which finds its answer in the passion and death of Jesus, who endured it for each of us.

“This week, it will do good for us all to look to the Crucifix, kissing the wounds of Jesus, kissing the Crucifix. He has taken upon himself the whole of human suffering,” the Pope expressed in his April 16 Wednesday general audience.

Speaking to the thousands gathered for his weekly address, the pontiff began by drawing attention to the day’s Gospel reading which recounts the betrayal of Judas, noting that this event marks the beginning of Christ’s Passion.

With his death on the Cross “Jesus reaches complete humiliation,” the Pope observed, highlighting how “It involved the worst death; that which was reserved for slaves and criminals,” and that although “Jesus was considered a prophet,” he “died as a criminal.”

“Looking at Jesus in his passion, we see as in a mirror also the suffering of all humanity and find the divine answer to the mystery of evil, of suffering, of death,” he continued.

Noting that “Many times we experience horror in the face of the evil and suffering that surrounds us, and we ask: why does God permit it?” the Pope expressed that “It’s a deep wound for us to see suffering and death, especially that of the innocent!”

This wound especially stings “when we see children suffering…it’s a wound in the heart. It’s the mystery of evil,” he lamented, “and Jesus takes all this evil, all this suffering, upon himself.”

Often times we believe that “God in his omnipotence will defeat injustice, evil, sin and suffering with a triumphant divine victory,” the Bishop of Rome pointed out, however instead he shows us “a humble victory that seems like a human failure to us.”

“We can say: God wins precisely in failure. The Son of God, in fact, appears on the Cross as a defeated man: he suffers, is betrayed, is scorned and finally dies.”

Drawing attention to how “Jesus permits that evil crosses the line with him, and takes it upon himself to conquer it,” the Pope emphasized that “his passion is not an accident; his death – that death – was ‘written.’”

Referring to “the mystery of the great humility of God,” Pope Francis observed that “Really, we don’t have many explanations; it’s a puzzling mystery. ‘For God has so loved the world that he gave his only son.’”

“This week we think so much of the pain of Jesus,” he stated, “and we tell ourselves: ‘this is for me. Even if I had been the only person in the world, He would have done it.’”

“’He did it for me.’ And we kiss the Crucifix and say: ‘For me. Thank you, Jesus. For me.’”

“And when all seems lost, when there is no one left because they will strike ‘the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered,’” he concluded, “it is then that God intervenes with the power of the resurrection.”

John Paul II: a man indispensable to the fall of the Soviet Union

Vatican City, Apr 16, 2014 / 04:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Bl. John Paul II’s key role in the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact can be attributed to his vision of the human being, informed by personalism and the Catholic faith.

The foundations for his role as Vicar of Christ in the fall of Soviet communism were laid by his predecessors, particularly Bl. John XXIII; the two will both be canonized April 27.

The first exchanges between the Vatican and Moscow since 1917 were made on the occasion of Good Pope John’s 80th birthday, and a now opened line of communication allowed Paul VI to pursue a policy of Ostpolitik, dialoguing with officials behind the Iron Curtain to improve the conditions for Christians there.

Crucial in John Paul II’s policy toward the Warsaw Pact was Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, his secretary of state from 1979 until 1990. Cardinal Casaroli had represented the Holy See in negotiations with the communist governments of Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia.

Bl. John Paul II was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Krakow in 1946, shortly after a Soviet-backed communist government had come to power in Poland. Fr. Wojtyla was non-confrontational, but did promote religious liberty and Christianity.

As Archbishop of Krakow he participated in Vatican II and effectively led the Polish bishops’ role in the revision of what became the council’s declaration on religious freedom, Dignitatis humanae – a matter of great concern to the shepherds living under communist governments.

“It is beyond question,” wrote Fr. Andrzej Dobrzynski, director of the Center for Documentation and Research of the Pontificate of John Paul II, in an article in a 2013 issue of Communio, that Dignitatis humanae “provided the Church behind the Iron Curtain with a powerful resource for operating in a complex political situation – and Karol Wojtyla took full advantage of it.”

He largely avoided direct criticism of the communist Polish government, but did work to create new parishes in his archdiocese and to processions.

In 1977, after 20 years of effort, he was able to consecrate a new parish in Nowa Huta, a suburb of Krakow meant to be a “workers’ paradise.”

In his homily at the consecration, as translated by Fr. Dobrzynski, he said: “When Nowa Huta was built with the intention that this would be a city without God, without a church, then Christ came here together with the people and through their lips spoke the fundamental truth about man. Man and his history cannot be reckoned by economic principles along, even according to the most exact rules of production and consumption. Man is greater than this. He is the image and likeness of God himself.”

Shortly after his election as Bishop of Rome, Bl. John Paul II returned to Poland for an eight-day trip in June 1979, which his biographer George Weigel has said “began to dismantle” the Soviet Union.

“I earnestly hope that my present journey in Poland may serve the great cause of rapprochement and of collaboration among nations,” he said June 2 on arriving in Warsaw, and “that it may be useful for reciprocal understanding, for reconciliation, and for peace in the contemporary world. I desire finally that the fruit of this visit may be the internal unity of my fellow-countrymen and also a further favourable development of the relations between the State and the Church in my beloved motherland.”

He reminded the civil authorities of the nation that “peace and the drawing together of the peoples can be achieved only on the principle of respect for the objective rights of the nation, such as: the right to existence, to freedom, to be a social and political subject, and also to the formation of its own culture and civilization.”

Consecrating his homeland to Our Lady at her shine at Czestochowa June 4, he entrusted to her “all the difficult problems of the societies, systems and states—problems that cannot be solved with hatred, war and self-destruction but only by peace, justice and respect for the rights of people and of nations.”

And when leaving Poland on June 10, he said, “Our times have great need of an act of witness openly expressing the desire to bring nations and regimes closer together, as an indispensable condition for peace in the world. Our times demand that we should not lock ourselves into the rigid boundaries of systems, but seek all that is necessary for the good of man, who must find everywhere the awareness and certainty of his authentic citizenship. I would have liked to say the awareness and certainty of his pre-eminence in whatever system of relations and powers.”

“Thank you, then, for this visit, and I hope that it will prove useful and that in the future it will serve the aims and values that it had intended to accomplish.”

Bl. John Paul II’s example inspired Lech Walesa, an electrician who founded the Solidarity trade union the following year. Solidarity was an anti-Soviet social movement which the Pope subsequently supported and protected.

The Soviet-backed government was eventually forced to negotiate with Solidarity, and Poland held semi-free elections in 1989, which led to a coalition government.

That year, a series of revolutions led to the fall of communism in Europe, the destruction of the Berlin Wall, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet head of state, visited John Paul II at the Vatican Dec. 1, 1989, in what was considered Christianity’s triumph over Soviet communism.

Holy See testimony on torture a UN treaty obligation, spokesman notes

Vatican City, Apr 16, 2014 / 12:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Holy See’s press officer said Tuesday that its report on an anti-torture agreement which will be made to the U.N. next month is routine, and a part of its obligations as a signatory to the treaty.

“It is a standard procedure adhered to by all States party to the Convention” against Torture, Fr. Federico Lombardi said April 15. “Considering the types of obligations included in the Convention, the Holy See signed the Convention in 2002 exclusively in the name of and on the part of Vatican City State.”

“For this reason, the Holy See continues to fulfil its obligations on the part of Vatican City State and to present periodical reports, in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Convention.”

The Holy See will submit its report this May, along with the states of Cyprus, Lithuania, Guinea, Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Thailand, and Uruguay.

Each of the 155 states which are parties to the U.N. Convention against Torture – including the U.S. – are obliged to report to the international organization’s Committee against Torture every four years about its implementation.

The Center for Constitutional Rights, a legal group which represents the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, meanwhile said April 14 that the Vatican had been “summoned” to report about sexual abuse and cover-ups in the Catholic Church to the U.N. committee.

The center contends that failures in the Holy See’s response to sexual abuse constitutes a violation of the convention.

The Center for Constitutional Rights has earlier asked that the International Criminal Court prosecute Benedict XVI and other Church leaders, alleging they had direct responsibility for sexual violence and crimes against humanity.

Critics saw the move as a publicity stunt that undermined human rights law and was based in a misunderstanding of how oversight works in the Church, where local bishops and religious orders are primarily responsible for the actions of clergy.

The International Criminal Court dismissed the center’s investigation request in June 2013 on the grounds that it did not fall within the court’s jurisdiction.

In January 2014, the U.N. committee that oversees the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child controversially criticized both the Church’s handling of sex abuse and Catholic moral teaching. The Committee on the Rights of the Child’s report claimed that the Vatican had “systematically” adopted policies that allowed priests to rape and molest children.

That report also criticized the Catholic Church’s teachings on contraception, abortion and same-sex “marriage,” suggesting that the Church change canon law to support these “rights.”

Catholic leaders, including Fr. Lombardi and the archbishop leading the Holy See’s permanent observer mission to the U.N., said the report failed to acknowledge the Church’s progress in protecting children and tried to impose secular views upon the Church.

Pope Francis on April 11 asked forgiveness for priests who sexually abused children. He said the Church’s response to sex abuse has to be “even stronger.”

The Pope has also affirmed the Church’s efforts to combat abuse.

In a March 5 interview with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, he denounced cases of abuse by clergy as “terrible” and acknowledged the “extremely deep wounds” abuse can cause.

He praised Benedict XVI’s “very courageous” efforts, saying his predecessor “cleared a path” in response to abuse.

“The Church has done so much on this path. Perhaps more than anyone,” Pope Francis said. “The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution to have acted with transparency and responsibility. No other has done more. And, the Church is the only one to be attacked.”

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