02/9/17

Steve Bannon Aligns With Vatican Hard-Liners Who Oppose Pope Francis

Anti-Pope Francis posters appeared in Rome last week, with a message in a Roman street dialect saying, “Hey, Frank, you took over Congregations, suspended priests, decapitated the Order of Malta and the Franciscans of The Immaculate, ignored Cardinals… Where the heck is your mercy?”

BY

White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is known to have cultivated ties with far-right parties in Europe, like the National Front in France. He also seems to have forged an alliance with Vatican hard-liners who oppose Pope Francis’ less rigid approach to church doctrine. The New York Times reported this week on Bannon’s connections at the Vatican.

Before becoming White House chief strategist, Bannon — who is Catholic — was the executive chairman of Breitbart News, which he called a “platform for the alt-right.” That’s a movement associated with white nationalism.

During a visit to Rome a few years ago, Bannon struck up a friendship with the American Cardinal Raymond Burke, a traditionalist who has emerged as one of Pope Francis’ most vocal critics.

Bannon hired Thomas Williams, an American former priest, as Breitbart’s Rome correspondent. Williams belonged to the conservative Legion of Christ, which was roiled by scandal when it was revealed its founder had been a pedophile.

Williams recently told his own story on an Italian TV talk show: In 2003, he fathered a child, but he kept it secret until he was outed by a news report. He then left the priesthood and married the child’s mother — who is the daughter of the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, Mary Ann Glendon.

In July 2014, Bannon addressed a conference that was held inside the Vatican but was sponsored by a conservative Catholic group. Speaking via Skype, Bannon painted an almost apocalyptic vision of the state of the Western world.

“We’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict, of which, if the people in this room, the people in the church, do not bind together and really form what I feel is an aspect of the church militant, to really be able to not just stand with our beliefs, but to fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity that’s starting.”

A barbarity, Bannon added, that would completely eradicate “everything we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years,” and which he clearly spelled out a few minutes later: “We are in an outright war against jihadist Islamic fascism. And this war is, I think, metastasizing far quicker than governments can handle it.”

This is language that Pope Francis has never used. The pope has repeatedly urged European countries to welcome migrants — who are, in the majority, Muslim — and he has championed the rights of the poor.

A year ago, Francis criticized candidate Donald Trump for wanting to build a wall along the border with Mexico, saying, “A person who thinks only about building walls … and not building bridges is not Christian.”

But that’s not Bannon’s worldview. While most Breitbart reports on the pope have been neutral, headlines about the pope when Bannon was in charge included:

  • “Seven Ways Pope Francis Slapped Conservatives in the United States”
  • “A Vatican Expert: Pope Francis a ‘Friend of Islam’ “
  • “Pope Francis Slams Capitalism, Death Penalty, Immigration Law; No Real Mention of Abortion, Gay Marriage”
  • “Pope Francis Threatens Legacy of Pope John Paul II, Ronald Reagan”

While Breitbart and Bannon seem to be making common cause with Roman Catholics who are on the outs with this pope, these Vatican hard-liners are not very powerful.

Nevertheless, Pope Francis’ supporters inside the Vatican worry that following Trump’s election victory, the pope is a little more isolated — a lonely progressive on the global stage. They say this has emboldened his critics both within and outside the Vatican, who have become more vocal.

For example, just last week, mysterious anti-Francis posters cropped up around Rome. The photo showed the pope looking uncharacteristically very grouchy, and the unidentified author — using a Roman street dialect — accused him of acting in an authoritarian manner and showing lack of mercy, despite the fact that Francis has made “Mercy” the unofficial slogan of his papacy.

Francis has not reacted. But in a surprising move, on Sunday, he issued the very first papal blessing for the Super Bowl. It was a video message in his native Spanish — not in Italian, which he usually uses for official messages — in which he said such a sporting event “shows that it’s possible to build a culture of encounter and a world of peace.”

The Italian media labeled the message “anti-Trump.”

Complete Article HERE!

11/12/16

Pope meets with men who left the priesthood

As the Jubilee Year of Mercy is rapidly coming to a close, the pope reached out once again to those in need of mercy – men who have left the priesthood. 

For two hours, Pope Francis met with seven men, who now have families, and spent time listening to their stories and getting to know their wives and children. 

Pope Francis did not intend to judge or justify them, but desired to express his closeness to these men, who felt they had made a mistake by becoming a priest. Many faced extreme opposition from their diocese, family or friends for leaving. Because of this, the pope wanted to send a gentle message of mercy to the five Italians, Spaniard and Latin American men he met during the surprise encounter.

Additionally, the families asked him to autograph various objects, like this cell phone case and gave him gifts as well. 

The pope ended the visit by reciting a Hail Mary with them all together and giving a group blessing. 

When the pope headed outside to leave the apartments on the outskirts of Rome, however, he was greeted by masses of people who waited for him with cell phones posed and ready for pictures. 

pope-meets-with-men-who-left-the-priesthood

Complete Article HERE!

08/2/16

Pope Francis sets up commission to study question of women deacons

The Pope gave his blessing to the idea of setting up a study into female deacons in May

The Pope gave his blessing to the idea of setting up a study into female deacons in May

Pope Francis has set up a special commission to study whether women will be allowed to become deacons in the Catholic Church.

The issue has historically troubled the Church, with many opposing the appointment of females.

The commission of seven men and six women will study the issue, and look into the historical role of women in the early years of the Church.

Deacons are a clergy rank one below priest.

They are ordained ministers who can preach or preside over weddings and funerals, but cannot celebrate Mass.

Supporters say women are poorly represented within the Church and that appointing female deacons would give women greater sway in decision-making.

The Pope first remarked in May that he was willing to set up a commission to study the issue.

He had told senior members of women’s religious orders he was open to the issue of considering female deacons: “It would be useful for the Church to clarify this question. I agree.'”

The Vatican also clarified that the Pope was not considering the possibility of ordaining women priests.

Currently all Catholic priests and deacons are male. Priests must be celibate, but deacons can be married men.

Complete Article HERE!

12/1/15

Pope Orders Audit of Church’s Wealth as Whistleblowers Pursued

By 

st peters

Pope Francis, galvanized by a scandal over Vatican finances, has ordered the most powerful bodies in the city-state to launch an unprecedented audit of its wealth and crack down on runaway spending.

At the suggestion of his economic chief, Cardinal George Pell, Francis has set up a “Working-Party for the Economic Future” which brings together the Secretariat of State, or prime minister’s office, the Vatican Bank and other agencies.

Francis has told the panel “to address the financial challenges and identify how more resources can be devoted to the many good works of the Church, especially supporting the poor and vulnerable,” Danny Casey, director of Pell’s office at the Secretariat for the Economy, said in an interview.

The pope’s initiatives come as five people stand trial in the Vatican over the leak of confidential documents in two books published last month that described corruption, mismanagement and wasteful spending by church officials. Those on trial deny wrongdoing.

Francis, 78, has pushed for more openness and transparency in Vatican financial and economic agencies but he has faced resistance from the Rome bureaucracy.

Seek Corruption

On the flight back to Rome on Monday after a visit to Africa, Francis told reporters that the so-called Vatileaks II scandal was an indication of the mess that he’s trying to sort out. The trial of two former Vatican employees alongside the books’ authors highlighted Church efforts “to seek out corruption, the things which aren’t right,” he said, according to a transcript provided by the Vatican.

The working group, which held its first meeting last week, will study measures to cut costs and raise revenue as part of a long-term financial plan.

“This will include comparing actual expenditure against budgets at a consolidated level, which is a new initiative,” Casey said.

As officials try to drag the Vatican’s financial management into the 21st century officials will appoint one of the world’s top-four accounting firms to review the Church’s processes, Casey said. The audit will look at financial investments, real estate and cultural assets. The four biggest firms are PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Deloitte & Touche LLP, EY LLP and KPMG LLP.

Assets that would never be sold and thus have no market value — including St Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and priceless art treasures by Michelangelo — will be included in financial statements though the Vatican is still considering whether and how they should be valued.

While Casey declined to speculate on overall asset values, Pell, his boss, said earlier this year that the Vatican’s total assets were worth more than $3 billion. Separately, the Institute for the Works of Religion, better-known as the Vatican Bank, has 6 billion euros ($6.4 billion) in deposits, and assets under management and custody for clients.

Real Estate

According to the two books which triggered the latest scandal — Avarice, by Emiliano Fittipaldi, and Merchants in the Temple, by Gianluigi Nuzzi — the Vatican’s assets are massively under-valued. For Fittipaldi, its real estate holdings alone are worth an estimated 4 billion euros, four times as much as their book value.

The two volumes relate that Francis himself has denounced costs as being “out of control” and that St Peter’s Pence donations go not to the needy but to Vatican departments. Many cardinals live in apartments of some 500 square meters (5,400 square feet) waited on by aides and surrounded by Renaissance art.

The Australian Pell, prefect at the Secretariat for the Economy, has been drawn into the controversy. Avarice alleges that Pell and three aides, including Casey, accumulated expenses totaling 501,000 euros between July 2014 and January 2015 for costs including business class flights from Rome to London, Munich and Malta.

Resistant to Change

Pell, who denied the allegations when they first surfaced in the Italian magazine L’Espresso in February, declined to respond to a request for comment. Casey said it was “ridiculous” to suggest the spending was for personal expenses.

“The Cardinal is committed to cost-management as is his whole team,” he said. “Unfortunately every leader working on the financial reforms has at some stage been criticized either personally or professionally — this is a classic diversionary tactic and perhaps a sign that good progress is being made.”

While Francis recruiting experts from outside the Church is a step in the right direction, the pontiff may not be around long enough to see through his reforms, according to papal biographer, Austen Ivereigh. Francis has told his entourage that he plans to remain pontiff until 2020, Ivereigh said — an indication he may then resign, like his predecessor Benedict XVI.

The Vatican can be reformed “but it will take a generation because the existing practices and mindset are so well-established,” Ivereigh said. “The Curia is built to resist change. Historically it was designed to be impervious to outside influence.”

Complete Article HERE!

10/17/15

Archbishop Cupich lays out pathway for gay couples to receive Communion at Vatican press scrum

By John-Henry Westen and Pete Baklinski

Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago  — who is participating in the Synod of the Family at Pope Francis’ personal invitation —  said at a press scrum in the Vatican press office this afternoon that the conscience is “inviolable” and that he believes divorced and remarried couples could be permitted to receive the sacraments, if they have “come to a decision” to do so “in good conscience” – theological reasoning that he indicated in response to a follow-up question would also apply to gay couples.

During the lengthy press briefing, the archbishop also spoke approvingly of the so-called “Kasper Proposal,” which would permit divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion in some cases. Cupich explained that he had distributed Cardinal Walter Kasper’s book, The Gospel of the Family, in which the cardinal had laid out this proposal, to all of the priests in his diocese.

“In Chicago I visit regularly with people who feel marginalized: the elderly, the divorced and remarried, gay and lesbian individuals and also couples. I think that we really need to get to know what their life is like if we’re going to accompany them,” he said.

cupich-with-reporters

Archbishop Cupich being interviewed by reporters at Vatican Press office Oct. 16, 2015

When asked to give a concrete example of how he would accompany the divorced and remarried in their desire to receive the sacraments, Cupich replied: “If people come to a decision in good conscience then our job is to help them move forward and to respect that. The conscience is inviolable and we have to respect that when they make decisions, and I’ve always done that.”

When asked by LifeSiteNews if the notion of accompanying people to “the Sacrament” who had a clear indication of conscience to do so also applied to gay couples in the Church, Cupich indicated an affirmative answer.

“I think that gay people are human beings too and they have a conscience. And my role as a pastor is to help them to discern what the will of God is by looking at the objective moral teaching of the Church and yet, at the same time, helping them through a period of discernment to understand what God is calling them to at that point,” he said. “It’s for everybody. I think that we have to make sure that we don’t pigeonhole one group as though they are not part of the human family, as though there’s a different set of rules for them. That would be a big mistake.”

The Catholic Church teaches that while a person “must always obey the certain judgement of his conscience” the conscience, at the same time, must be formed by the “Word of God” and the “Church’s authority and her teaching” to make judgments that are “in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator.”

“Conscience can remain in ignorance or make erroneous judgements. Such ignorance and errors are not always free of guilt,” the Catechism of the Catholic Church states.

On Cardinal Kasper’s proposal specifically, Cupich said, “I really do find his treatment of what he calls the Gospel of the family – it’s published in a book, and I gave it, by the way, to all of my priests, I wanted them to read that because I thought it was very rich theologically.”

“I think he has reasoned this proposal well…I am open to looking at all of it,” he said. “I do think that we can’t ignore the fact that there are lots of people out there who feel stuck, and we have to look for a way in which we’re going to reach out to them.”

Cupich said “we should look at a way in which people are not just accompanied but integrated and reconciled.”

Kasper’s proposal has been criticized by faithful leaders in the Church such as Cardinal Burke as a “serious error” since it makes doctrine and pastoral practice appear to be in conflict with one another.

“The pastoral practice exists to help us to live the truths of the faith, to live the doctrine of the faith in our daily lives. You can’t have a conflict [between these],” said Burke in an interview with LifeSiteNews yesterday.

Others, such as Cardinal Marc Ouellet, have criticized Kasper’s proposal as resulting from a mistaken notion of God’s mercy.

It is “not a matter” of the Church “being more or less ‘merciful’ with regard to persons in irregular situations, but of taking seriously the truth of the sacraments (the gifts of the Bridegroom) and their missionary dimension,” Ouellet wrote in a recently published book on marriage and the family.

Archbisop Cupich had previously responded to a question, in December 2014, about giving Holy Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians, saying he would “not use the Eucharist or as they call it the communion rail as the place to have those discussions or weigh in which people would be either excluded from the life of the church.”

Since his appointment as bishop of Spokane in 2010, Cupich has developed a reputation as one of the most “progressive” bishops in the U.S. episcopate. Last year, Pope Francis tapped Cupich to lead the Chicago archdiocese, one of the country’s most prominent dioceses, previously led by the conservative Cardinal Francis George.

In 2011 Cupich, then bishop of Spokane, forbade priests in his diocese from taking part in the semi-annual 40 Days for Life pro-life prayer vigil. His response to the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to redefine marriage focused primarily on decrying discrimination against homosexuals rather than criticizing the imposition of same-sex “marriage.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered” and that “under no circumstances can they be approved” since they are contrary to God’s plan for sexuality.

“They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life,” states the Catechism.

The Catholic Church teaches the those who present themselves to receive Holy Communion, which Catholics believe to be the real body and blood of Jesus Christ, must be in the state of grace and be free from mortal sin, which cuts off the life of God’s grace from the soul.

Complete Article HERE!