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McCarrick laicized by Pope Francis

Vatican City, Feb 16, 2019 / 01:41 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ordered this week the laicization of Theodore McCarrick, a former cardinal and archbishop emeritus of Washington, and a once powerful figure in ecclesiastical, diplomatic, and political circles in the U.S. and around the world.

The decision followed an administrative penal process conducted by the CDF, which found McCarrick guilty of “solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession, and sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power,” according to a Feb. 16 Vatican communique.

The conviction was made following an “administrative penal process,” which is a much-abbreviated penal mechanism used in cases in which the evidence is so clear that a full trial is unnecessary.

Because Pope Francis personally approved the guilty verdict and the penalty of laicization, it is formally impossible for the decision to be appealed.

According to a statement from the Vatican Feb. 16, the decree finding McCarrick guilty was issued Jan. 11 and followed by an appeal, which was rejected by the CDF Feb. 13.

McCarrick was notified of the decision Feb. 15 and Pope Francis “has recognized the definitive nature of this decision made in accord with law, rendering it a res iudicata (i.e., admitting of no further recourse.)”

CNA contacted this week McCarrick’s canonical advocate, who declined to comment on the case.

McCarrick, 88, was publicly accused last year of sexually abusing at least two adolescent boys, and of engaging for decades in coercive sexual behavior toward priests and seminarians.

The allegations were first made public in June 2018, when the Archdiocese of New York reported that it had received a “credible” allegation that McCarrick sexually abused a teenage boy in the 1970s, while serving as a New York priest. The same month McCarrick stepped down from all public ministry at the direction of the Holy See.

In July, Pope Francis accepted his resignation from the College of Cardinals, ordering McCarrick to a life of prayer and penance pending the completion of the canonical process concerning the allegations. Since the end of September, McCarrick has been residing at the St. Fidelis Capuchin Friary in Victoria, Kansas.

Key among McCarrick’s accusers is James Grein, who gave evidence before specially deputized archdiocesan officials in New York on Dec. 27.

As part of the CDF’s investigation, Grein testified that McCarrick, a family friend, sexually abused him over a period of years, beginning when he was 11 years old. He also alleged that McCarrick carried out some of the abuse during the sacrament of confession - itself a separate canonical crime that can lead to the penalty of laicization.

The CDF has also reportedly received evidence from an additional alleged victim of McCarrick - 13 at the time of the alleged abuse began - and from as many as 8 seminarian-victims in the New Jersey dioceses of Newark and Metuchen, where McCarrick previously served as bishop.

As emeritus Archbishop of Washington, D.C., and before that Bishop of Metuchen and Archbishop of Newark, McCarrick occupied a place of prominence in the US Church.

He was also a leading participant in the development of the 2002 Dallas Charter and USCCB Essential Norms, which established procedures for handling allegations of sexual abuse concerning priests.

Though laicized, McCarrick does not cease to be a bishop, sacramentally speaking, since once conferred, the sacrament of ordination and episcopal consecration cannot be undone.

The penalty of reduction from the clerical state - often called laicization - prevents McCarrick from referring to himself or functioning as a priest, in public or private. Since ordination imparts a sacramental character, it cannot be undone by an act of the Church. But following laicization he is stripped of all the rights and privileges of a cleric including, in theory, the right to receive financial support from the Church.
 

 

Pope Francis: Be not afraid of migrants

Vatican City, Feb 15, 2019 / 10:05 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis said Friday that people need to overcome their fear of migrants and refugees, and look for the face of Christ in each immigrant arriving in their countries.

“The Lord speaks to us today and asks us to let Him free us from our fears,” Pope Francis said in a homily Feb. 15 at the Fraterna Domus di Sacrofano, a Catholic retreat center north of Rome.

In fear, we tend to become closed off, Pope Francis explained. “This withdrawal into ourselves, a sign of defeat, increases our fear of ‘others,’ the unknown, the marginalized, the strangers.”

“It is not easy to enter the culture of others, put yourself in the shoes of people so different from us, understand their thoughts and experiences. And so often we give up the meeting with the other and raise barriers to defend ourselves,” he continued.

“Faced with the wickedness and ugliness of our time, we … are tempted to abandon our dream of freedom. We feel legitimate fear in front of situations that seem to us with no way out. And the human words of a leader or prophet are not enough to reassure us,” he said.

However, when fear holds one back from encountering the stranger, it is a missed opportunity to practice charity, the pope explained.

“The meeting with the other, then, is also an encounter with Christ. He told us himself. It is He who knocks on our door hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick and imprisoned, asking to be met and assisted,” he said.

“It is really Him, even if our eyes [struggle] to recognize Him: with broken clothes, with dirty feet, with a deformed face, with a wounded body, unable to speak our language,” Pope Francis added.

Pope Francis celebrated the opening Mass for a Feb. 15-17 gathering called, “Freedom from Fear,” a meeting of people and organizations dedicated to welcoming migrants. The event was organized by the Italian bishops conference and Caritas Italiana.

In the Mass, Pope Francis prayed that all pastors “know how to train all the baptized to welcome to migrants and refugees.”

Pope Francis: 'Inequality is disastrous for the future of humanity'

Vatican City, Feb 15, 2019 / 06:13 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis spoke out about inequality, the environment, sustainable development and the elimination of poverty during his visit to the United Nations’ agricultural development agency in Rome Thursday.

“Few have too much and too many have little, this is the logic of today. Many have no food and go adrift, while a few drown in the superfluous,” Pope Francis told staff members of the UN International Fund for Agricultural Development, or IFAD.

“This perverse current of inequality is disastrous for the future of humanity,” he said.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development is specialized agency of the United Nations based in Rome and dedicated to improving rural food security and fighting poverty through grants and low-interest loans to rural farmers and indigenous peoples around the world.

“The poorest of the earth” are people who live mostly “in rural areas, in regions far from big cities, often in difficult and painful conditions,” Pope Francis said.

“They live in precarious situations: the air is stale, the natural resources are depleted, the rivers polluted, the soils acidified; they do not have enough water for themselves or their crops; their sanitary infrastructures are very deficient, their houses scarce and defective,” he said.

Francis added, “the exodus from the countryside to the city is a global trend that we can not ignore in our considerations.”

Three quarters of the poorest people in the world live in rural areas, according to IFAD, which has a particular focus on supporting indigenous communities in their traditional food systems and livelihoods.

After his formal UN address, the pope met with delegates from 31 different indigenous peoples from America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific region.  

“The presence of all of you here shows that environmental issues are extremely important and invites us to once again look at our planet, hurt in many regions by human greed, by warlike conflicts that engender a wealth of evils and misfortunes, as well as for the natural catastrophes that leave in their wake poverty and devastation,” the pope said in Spanish.

“Native peoples … become for everyone a wake-up call that emphasizes that man is not the owner of nature, but only the manager, the one that has as vocation to watch over it with care, so that its biodiversity is not lost, and the water can remain healthy and crystal clear, the air pure, the forests leafy, and the soil fertile,” he continued.

“The earth suffers and the native peoples know of the dialogue with the earth, they know what it is to listen to the earth, to see the earth, to touch the earth. They know the art of living well in harmony with the earth. And we have to learn that,” he continued.

Pope Francis warned the UN agency of the danger posed by a humanitarian aid culture that “can end up generating dependencies” and hinder development.

Instead, he asserted, “The aim is always to affirm the centrality of the human person, remembering that the new processes that are being developed cannot always be incorporated into schemes established from the outside, but must start from the same culture.”

Pope Francis also acknowledged the potential of technology and sustainable development to aid the poor in meeting their daily needs.

“It is necessary to bet on innovation, entrepreneurial capacity, the protagonism of local actors and the efficiency of productive processes to achieve rural transformation in order to eradicate malnutrition and to develop in a sustainable way the rural environment,” he said.

“Put technology really at the service of the poor,” Pope Francis said, and exhorted the IFAD staff to always utilize the creative power of love.

“Those who love have the imagination to find solutions where others only see problems. Those who love help others according to their needs and creativity, not according to pre-established ideas or common places … love leads you to create, it is always ahead.”

Analysis: As abuse summit looms, Farrell appointed and McCarrick case lingers

Vatican City, Feb 14, 2019 / 06:00 pm (CNA).- As Pope Francis prepares for his long-awaited Vatican summit on sexual abuse, Catholic commentators and U.S. bishops are waiting to see what it can accomplish. But just as eagerly, they are waiting to see what will become of “Uncle Ted” McCarrick.

The two events have become, by dint of timing, linked in a way that many in Rome would rather have avoided.

To many, McCarrick’s case is an obstacle to be cleared ahead of a successful summit. But it seems increasingly likely that a verdict on McCarrick will serve only to highlight the issues that won’t be addressed next week.

While the pope has discussed “deflating expectations,” and said that next week’s meeting will focus on calling for sexual abuse policies concerning minors in the parts of the world that do not yet have them, some bishops have told CNA they fear that the Rome meeting will focus less on presenting solutions and more on defining the problem – or even defining parts of the problem away.

Rome has laid out a tentative itinerary involving listening sessions with abuse victims and has made it clear the pope wants attendees to understand the grave reality of sexual abuse, and to engage in discussions on the principles of accountability, rather than to expect a coherent response to emerge.

Indeed, for many observers, expectations have been tempered, and the stage does not seem set for a meaningful outcome that addresses the problems faced in recent months in the U.S., in Chile, and in Argentina- problems related to episcopal accountability and sexual coercion.

Leading reform advocates like Marie Collins, an abuse survivor and former member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, have been outspoken and consistent about what they think would constitute real results, including serious mechanisms for holding bishops accountable for negligence, and a redefinition of the category of “vulnerable adult” in canon law. Neither of these appears to be on the docket for next week.

Cardinal Séan O’Malley of Boston, head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, has himself called for a broadening of the term “vulnerable adult” in law, citing the need to protect those who have suffered from sexualized abuse of authority, like seminarians.

Although he is widely recognized the Church’s most visible and credible advocate for abuse reforms, O’Malley was left off of the organizing committee for next week’s meeting. Meanwhile, it seems unlikely that the definition “vulnerable adults” will even feature in the conversation in Rome.

Several members of the planning committee for the summit, including Fr. Hans Zollner, SJ, and Cardinal Blase Cupich, have indicated that the meeting will treat the abuse of minors only, leaving abusive behavior with adults off the table.

To some observers, this deliberate narrowing of the agenda overshadows the applicability of the summit to the situation of the Church in the U.S., and in countries that have already developed comprehensive policies related to safeguarding minors.

While there is certainly great need to convey the seriousness of the abuse crisis to bishops from other parts of the world, it is questionable how well that can be achieved by a few days’ discussion in Rome.

Meanwhile, in places like the U.S., there is an urgent need to address problems beyond the creation of basic reporting structures.

U.S. bishops are standing by the effectiveness of the Dallas Charter, but looking for a way to address a new set of problems involving bishops’ accountability and the abuse of adults. After being told in Baltimore to wait for Rome to take the lead, some now wonder why their concerns seem not to have made it to the agenda.

At the same time that Rome has been eager to downplay expectations around the abuse summit, curial officials (though not, it must be said, in the CDF) have been talking up a McCarrick conviction and laicization.

It is no secret that, whatever else they may disagree on, bishops in the United States and Rome are unified in understanding McCarrick’s departure as a necessary turning-of-the-page on the scandals of last year and a clearing of the deck before next week’s summit.

But, despite feverish speculation about the timing of an announcement, no decision has yet been published. Moreover, there is no clear indication that any guilty verdict would explicitly include reference to the accusations that McCarrick preyed upon seminarians.

Those victims, to say nothing of seminarians and the faithful across the United States, are waiting anxiously for some sign that their suffering, too, has been addressed. Yet the indications coming out of Rome appear, at best, not to have heard their concerns.

There is no disagreement, anywhere, that a priest (or any adult) who sexually abuses a child has committed one of the worst crimes imaginable. In the context of the U.S. Church, there is no shortage of consensus about how seriously such cases should be dealt with. Where consensus breaks down is at the other end of the age spectrum during adolescence.

Figures from both the United States and other countries indicate that the vast majority of clerical sexual abuse cases concern homosexual relations with teenagers.

While McCarrick faces multiple charges of sexually abusing minors as well as adults, the first accusation made public by the Archdiocese of New York underscores the problematic line between sexual abuse of a minor and an illicit encounter with an adult.

The accusation announced by New York in June concerned a former altar server who alleged he had been abused by McCarrick when he was 17 in the early 1970s.

While this announcement had the effect of prompting additional accusations against the then-cardinal, it was quietly noted by astute canon lawyers that, under the operative canon law of the time, the alleged victim was not – strictly speaking – a minor.

In civil and canon law, the necessity of an age of consent creates a kind of moral-legal disconnect. A relationship between a man and a boy a day before his eighteenth birthday is a grave crime; twenty-four hours later it becomes categorized in law only as a regrettable moral lapse – even if the victim was a seminarian coerced by his bishop.

It would be a bitter irony for many of McCarrick’s alleged victims if the implicit lesson of his conviction - reinforced by the limited agenda for next week’s summit - was that only abuse of legally defined minors merits the Church’s discipline.

While the potential for grave harm and injustice has become abundantly clear in recent months, engaging with the messy facts of cases at the upper end of the age spectrum is something for which Rome seems to have little interest or appetite.

Until that changes, it seems clear that, whenever an announcement is made about whatever fate awaits McCarrick, the former cardinal’s shadow will still fall over next week’s summit, and much of what follows for some time yet.
________

As many watch and wait for a McCarrick verdict, Rome instead announced that his most successful protégé, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, had been named cardinal camerlengo, regent of the Vatican during any future papal interregnum.

Farrell was for years one of McCarrick’s closest advisors in Washington, serving as his vicar general and even sharing an apartment with him.

For his part, the new camerlengo insisted last summer that he never had any reason to suspect the apparently well-known rumors concerning his mentor.

What Farrell suspected or didn’t in Washington to one side, promoting McCarrick’s most famous collaborator, at this of all times, suggests to many that Rome may be as oblivious to the signal it sends as Farrell himself claims to have been about McCarrick.

The announcement is even more baffling for Catholics in Washington, who are still waiting for an eventual successor to both McCarrick and Cardinal Donald Wuerl.

Sources in both Washington and Rome have told CNA that a final list of candidates for the capital see has been on the pope’s desk at least since his return from the United Arab Emirates. The same sources have said that any announcement will be delayed until after McCarrick’s fate is decided, allowing the new archbishop to mark a new chapter in Washington, rather than begin under his shadow.

Liturgy is not 'styles, recipes, trends,' pope tells Divine Worship congregation

Vatican City, Feb 14, 2019 / 11:13 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The liturgy, Pope Francis said Thursday, cannot be reduced to a matter of taste, becoming the subject of ideological polarization, because it is a primary way Catholics encounter the Lord.

There is a risk with the liturgy of falling into a “past that no longer exists or of escaping into a presumed future,” the pope told members of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments Feb. 14.

“The starting point is instead to recognize the reality of the sacred liturgy, a living treasure that cannot be reduced to styles, recipes and trends, but should be welcomed with docility and promoted with love, as irreplaceable nourishment for the organic growth of the People of God,” he continued.

Francis also emphasized that the liturgy is not a “do-it-yourself” zone and urged the Vatican officials, “as in other areas of ecclesial life,” to avoid “ideological polarizations” and an attitude of “perpetual dialectics” against those with differing ideas about the liturgy.

He also recalled his statement in Evangelii gaudium “that reality is more important than the idea.”

“When we look back to nostalgic past tendencies or wish to impose them again, there is the risk of placing the part before the whole, the 'I' before the People of God, the abstract before the concrete, ideology before communion and, fundamentally, the worldly before the spiritual,” Francis asserted.

Meeting the congregation during their Feb. 12-15 plenary assembly, Pope Francis addressed the importance of the Church’s liturgy, of having good collaboration between the Vatican congregation and bishops’ conferences, and of developing a proper liturgical sense in Catholics.

“The liturgy is in fact the main road through which Christian life passes through every phase of its growth,” Francis said. “You therefore have before you a great and beautiful task: to work so that the People of God rediscovers the beauty of meeting the Lord in the celebration of his mysteries.”

The pope noted that the plenary falls 50 years since St. Paul VI reorganized Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments “in order to give shape to the renewal desired by the Second Vatican Council. It was a matter of publishing the liturgical books according to the criteria and decisions of the Council Fathers, with a view to fostering, in the People of God, 'active, conscious and pious' participation in the mysteries of Christ.”

He asserted that “the praying tradition of the Church needed renewed expressions, without losing anything of its millennial wealth, even rediscovering the treasures of its origins,” and noted that it was also in 1969 that the General Roman Calendar was changed and the new Roman Missal was promulgated, calling them “the first steps of a journey, to be continued with wise constancy.”

Francis added that “it it is not enough to change the liturgical books to improve the quality of the liturgy.”

He argued that proper liturgical formation of both clergy and laity is fundamental, and quoted from Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Second Vatican Council's 1963 constitution on the sacred liturgy.

Though necessary, just providing information about liturgical books is not an adequate liturgical education, he continued, even with a view toward preserving the dutiful fulfillment of the ritual disciplines.

“In order for the liturgy to fulfill its formative and transforming function, it is necessary that pastors and the laity be brought to grasp its meaning and symbolic language, including art, song and music at the service of the celebrated mystery, even silence,” he stated.

He pointed to mystagogy as a suitable way to enter into the mystery of the liturgy, “in the living encounter with the crucified and risen Lord”; he pointed to the Catechism of the Catholic Church as an example of a book that illustrates the liturgy in this manner.

Referencing the title of the congregation’s plenary assembly, “the liturgical formation of the People of God,” he said the task awaiting them is “essentially that of spreading the splendor of the living mystery of the Lord, manifested in the liturgy, in the People of God.”

“To speak of the liturgical formation of the People of God means first of all to become aware of the irreplaceable role that the liturgy plays in the Church and for the Church,” he stated.

“And then concretely help the People of God to better internalize the prayer of the Church, to love it as an experience of meeting with the Lord and with the brothers and, in light of this, to rediscover its contents and observe its rites.”

Pope Francis names Cardinal Kevin Farrell camerlengo

Vatican City, Feb 14, 2019 / 05:41 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis Thursday nominated a new camerlengo, Irish-American Cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell, prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, and a former bishop of Dallas.

The responsibilities of camerlengo include overseeing the preparations for a papal conclave and managing the administration of the Holy See in the period between a pope's death or renunciation and the election of a new pope.

Farrell was one of several bishops about whom questions were raised last summer regarding prior knowledge of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick's misdeeds in the dioceses of Metuchen and Newark.

Farrell had served as an auxilary bishop under the former cardinal in Washington, DC, as well as moderator of the curia and vicar general, a chief advisory role to the disgraced archbishop.

Farrell lived together with McCarrick in a renovated parish building in Washington’s Kalorama neighborhood for six years, and many have characterized McCarrick as a mentor to the cardinal.

Last July, Farrell denied having any knowledge of accusations of sexual abuse or harassment against McCarrick.

A former member of the Legion of Christ, Farrell had also previously denied having prior knowledge of sexual abuse on the part of the Legion of Christ's founder and former general director, Marcial Maciel.

Farrell also caused controversy last summer after he suggested in an interview with the Irish Catholic magazine Intercom that priests lack the necessary experience to provide adequate marriage preparation to engaged couples, saying, "priests are not the best people to train others for marriage." The comment echoed a statement of his from September 2017, that priests have "no credibility when it comes to living the reality of marriage."

The office of camerlengo of the Holy Roman Church, which is situated within the pontifical household, has been vacant since the death of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran last July.

To take office, Farrell, 71, will take an oath before Pope Francis, who will give him a scepter, a symbol of the authority of the camerlengo. The current scepter, covered in red velvet, dates to the papacy of Benedict XV.

Born in Ireland and ordained a priest in 1978 as a member of the Legion of Christ, Farrell eventually relocated to Washington, DC, serving as director of Washington’s Spanish Catholic Center, before becoming the archdiocese’s finance officer in 1989.

In 2002, he became an auxiliary bishop of Washington, serving as moderator of the curia and vicar general, a chief advisory role, to then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

He was named Bishop of Dallas in 2007, where he served until his appointment as the first prefect of the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life in August 2016, which put him in charge of the planning of the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in 2018 and World Youth Day in Panama in January 2019.

Farrell became a cardinal in November 2016.

The camerlengo is one of two head officials of the Roman Curia who do not lose their office while the papacy is vacant. The position of camerlengo, which is regulated by the apostolic constitutions Pastor bonus and Universi dominici gregis, administers Church finances and property during the interregnum.

Paragraph 17 of Universi dominici gregis establishes that “the Camerlengo of Holy Roman Church must officially ascertain the Pope’s death” and “must also place seals on the Pope’s study and bedroom,” and later “the entire papal apartment.”

The camerlengo is also responsible for notifying the cardinal vicar for Rome of the pope’s death, who then notifies the people of Rome by special announcement. He takes possession of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican and Palaces of the Lateran and of Castel Gandolfo and manages their administration.

“During the vacancy of the Apostolic See, the Camerlengo of Holy Roman Church has the duty of safeguarding and administering the goods and temporal rights of the Holy See, with the help of the three Cardinal Assistants, having sought the views of the College of Cardinals, once only for less important matters, and on each occasion when more serious matters arise,” the constitution states.

Only the pope may choose the cardinal to fill the position of camerlengo, though he may also leave it vacant, in which case, the College of Cardinals would hold an election to fill the office at the start of a sede vacante.

 

This story was updated at 8:03 am MST.

In leaked letter to 'Mr. Maduro,' Pope Francis reiterates call for peace

Vatican City, Feb 13, 2019 / 11:30 am (CNA).- Pope Francis has sent a letter to Nicolas Maduro responding to a recent invitation to mediate in the Venezuelan political crisis, according to an Italian newspaper. 

On Feb. 13, the Milan daily newspaper Corriere Della Sera published a report saying that the pope had written to Maduro reiterating his desire for the avoidance of violence in the country. 

According to the article, the pope wrote on Feb. 7 that previous peace efforts in Venezuela were “interrupted because what had been agreed in the meetings was not followed by concrete gestures to implement the agreements.” 

“The Holy See clearly indicated what were the conditions for dialogue to be possible” in December 2016 in “a series of requests,” it went on to say. 

The Holy See did not comment on the letter, citing the private nature of the correspondence. 

The Corriere della Sera report only quoted fragments of the alleged letter, including Francis’ reiteration of his desire to “avoiding any form of bloodshed” and his concern for “the suffering of the noble Venezuelan people, which seems to have no end.” 

The newspaper noted, however, that Pope Francis addressed Maduro as “señor,” rather than “president.” 

Two men currently claim to be the legitimate president of Venezuela: Nicolas Maduro and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido. 

After winning a contested election in which opposition candidates were barred from running or imprisoned, wide-spread protests followed Maduro's Jan. 10 inauguration, 

Juan Guaido declared himself as interim president on Jan. 23. Since then, numerous governments across the world, including the United States, have recognized Guaido as the legitimate interim leader of the country, though Maduro remains in effective power supported by the military. 

Maduro’s leadership of Venezuela during his previous term was marred by violence and social upheaval, with severe shortages and hyperinflation leading millions of Venezuelans to emigrate. 

On Monday, Vatican Secretariat of State unofficially received a delegation from Venezuela affiliated with Guaido and discussed human rights, the common good, and “avoiding bloodshed” in Venezuela. 

Following international recognition of Guaido in January, Maduro wrote a letter to Pope Francis asking him to mediate in the political situation in Venezuela. 

Pope Francis has sought to maintain neutrality on Venezuela, telling reporters Jan. 28 it would be “pastoral imprudence” on his part to choose a side in the current split in Venezuela. 

Venezuela’s bishops have taken a less neutral stance, calling Maduro’s election “illegitimate” and backing opposition marches in January. On Feb. 1, Venezuela’s bishops met with Guaido in an effort to mobilize the entrance of humanitarian aid to the crisis-stricken country. 

Cardinal Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo, Apostolic Administrator of Caracas, called the proposal for Vatican mediation “non-viable” in a Feb. 6 radio interview

In a Feb. 8 interview with CNA, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, a key advisor and strategist on Venezuela for the Trump administration, said that previous attempts by the Vatican to lead negotiations with Maduro had been a “fiasco.” 

Pope Francis said Jan. 28, “I support in this moment all of the Venezuelan people - it is a people that is suffering - including those who are on one side and the other. All of the people are suffering.”

Pope Francis approves canonization of John Henry Newman

Vatican City, Feb 13, 2019 / 03:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis Wednesday approved the canonization of Bl. John Henry Newman, a Roman Catholic cardinal, scholar, and founder of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in England.

Following a Feb. 12 meeting with Cardinal Angelo Becciu, the head of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the pope signed off on a second miracle attributed to the intercession of Newman, who was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in Birmingham, England on Sept. 19, 2010.

The first miracle attributed to Newman’s intercession involved the complete and inexplicable healing of a deacon from a disabling spinal condition.

His second miracle concerned the healing of a pregnant American woman. The woman prayed for the intercession of Cardinal Newman at the time of a life-threatening diagnosis, and her doctors have been unable to explain how or why she was able to suddenly recover.

The date of his canonization has not yet been announced.

Bl. John Henry Newman was a 19th century theologian, poet, Catholic priest and cardinal. Originally an Anglican priest, he converted to Catholicism in 1845 and his writings are considered among some of the most important Church-writings in recent centuries.

Ordained a Catholic priest in 1847, he was made a cardinal by Pope Leo XIII in 1879, although he was not a bishop. Newman was also particularly dedicated to education and founded two schools for boys.

Sr. Kathleen Dietz, FSO, a Newman scholar, and vice-chancellor of the Diocese of Erie told CNA last November she suspects that Newman could be named the patron of scholars and students.

Pope Francis also green-lighted Feb. 13 the canonization of Bl. Maria Teresa Chiramel Mankidiyan of India, the founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Family, who died in 1926 in Kuzhikkattussery.

He also approved the canonization of martyred Jesuit Fr. Salvatore Vittorio Emilio Moscoso Cardenas, who was killed in hatred of the faith in Ecuador in 1897.

Those declared to have lived lives of heroic virtue and to be on the path to beatification are Cardinal József Mindszenty, archbishop of Esztergom and primate of Hungary (1892-1975); Fr. Giovanni Battista Zuaboni, founder of the Secular Institute of the Company of the Holy Family (1880-1939); Jesuit Fr. Manuel Garcia Nieto (1894-1974); Sr. Serafina Formai, foundress of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Glad Message (1876-1954); and Sr. Maria Berenice Duque Hencker, foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Annunciation (1898-1993).

Pope Francis: There is no 'I' in the 'Our Father'

Vatican City, Feb 13, 2019 / 03:17 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis said Wednesday that one’s prayer should always be a dialogue with God with charitable consideration for others’ needs.

“There is no room for individualism in dialogue with God,” Pope Francis said Feb. 13, noting that there is no “I” in the words of the “Our Father” prayer.

One’s prayer should not contain an “ostentation of one's problems as if we were the only ones in the world to suffer,” the pope advised.

“In prayer, a Christian brings all the difficulties of the people who live next to him: when the evening descends, he tells God about the pains he has encountered on that day, putting before Him many faces, friends and even enemies,” he said.

In a continuation of his weekly catechesis on the “Our Father,” Pope Francis focused on the prayer’s repeated use of the words “you” and “us,” rather than an individualistic “I” in his Wednesday general audience.

“Jesus teaches us to pray, having first of all 'You' on our lips because Christian prayer is dialogue: ‘hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done,’” he said. It is about “you” and then “we,” a community of brothers and sisters.

“If one does not realize that there are many people around him who are suffering, if he does not pity for the tears of the poor, if he is addicted to everything, then it means that his heart is of stone,” he said.

“In this case it is good to beg the Lord to touch us with his Spirit and to soften our heart,” he continued.

The pope warned Catholics not be hypocrites seeking attention through prayer, but to follow Christ’s instructions to pray in “the silence of your room” where one can “withdraw from the world, and turn to God calling him ‘Father!’”

Prayer “at its root, is a silent dialogue, like the crossing of glances between two people who love each other: man and God,” he explained.

Pope Francis said that “there are men who apparently do not seek God, but Jesus makes us pray for them too, because God seeks these people above all.”

“Saints and sinners, we are all brothers loved by the same Father,” Pope Francis said.

McCarrick might be 'laicized' this week. What's that?

Denver, Colo., Feb 12, 2019 / 03:41 pm (CNA).- Archbishop Theodore McCarrick will reportedly be laicized this week, if he is found guilty of having sexually abused minors.

But what does it mean to be “laicized,” “defrocked,” or “dismissed from the clerical state?”

Ordination, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “confers a gift of the Holy Spirit that permits the exercise of a ‘sacred power’ which can come only from Christ himself through his Church.”

The Church says ordination marks a person with an irremovable imprint, a character, which “configures them to Christ.” Ordination, in Catholic theology, makes a permanent change that the Church has no power to reverse.

“You are a priest forever,” the Letter to the Hebrews says.

This change is referred to as an ontological change, or a change in being itself.

In addition to making an ontological change, ordination also makes a legal change in a person’s status in the Church. By ordination, a person becomes in canon law a “cleric.” The word “cleric” is derived from the Greek word for “casting lots,” a process of selection similar to drawing straws or rolling dice, because in Acts 1:26, Matthias is added to the 11 remaining apostles after lots are drawn to select the right person.

A cleric, or a sacred minister in the Church, is an ordained man who is permitted by the Church to exercise sacred ministry. A cleric is bound to certain obligations, among them is usually celibacy in the Latin Catholic Church, and he possesses certain rights, among them is the right to be appointed to pastoral leadership positions in the Church. Clerics have the right to be financially supported by the Church, and are bound by obedience to the pope and to local Church authorities.

While ordination can never be lost - no power on earth can erase the sacramental imprint of ordination - a person can lose the legal status of being a cleric- this is what is referred to as “laicization.”

When a person loses the clerical state, he no longer has the right to exercise sacred ministry in the Church, except the extreme situation of encountering someone who is in immediate danger of death.

Someone who has lost the clerical state also no longer has the canonical right to be financially supported by the Church.

Often, a man who is laicized is also dispensed from the obligation of celibacy, and permitted to marry - but this is not always the case, especially when someone has been involuntarily removed from the clerical state.

Ordinarily, the Church does not permit a person who has been dismissed from the clerical state to teach, as a layman, in a Catholic college or school, to be a lector or extraordinary ministry of Holy Communion, or to exercise other functions in the name of the Church. This is determined on an individual basis, and exceptions and dispensations can be made.

A person can lose the clerical state because he has requested it through a special petition to the pope personally, or he can lose it as a penalty for committing an ecclesiastical crime, as is likely to be the case for McCarrick. There are even provisions which allow for a priest or deacon who has abandoned his ministry to be removed from the clerical state after a protracted period of time, and through a specified canonical process.

Losing the clerical state as a penalty comes after a person has committed some crime. But it is not the case that everyone who has been laicized has done something wrong- the Church does not suggest that it is immoral for a priest or deacon to request laicization, and there are many legitimate reasons a priest might do so, though these are often deeply personal.

A laicized priest is no longer referred to as “Father,” or by any other honorary title given to clerics.

If McCarrick is laicized, the Church will no longer have responsibility to provide him with housing, medical care, or any other financial benefits. He will not be permitted to celebrate Mass or any other sacraments, except in situations he is unlikely to encounter, such as being with a person in danger of death.

If he is laicized, it is not yet known whether McCarrick will leave the Kansas friary where has been living a life of prayer and penance. Though he is reported to have some financial means at his disposal, and is likely entitled civilly to a Church pension, it is not yet known what options are available to him.