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Italy’s high court overturns arrest warrant against Vatican broker Gianluigi Torzi

The Supreme Court of Cassation in Rome, Italy. / Sergio D’Afflitto via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0 it).

Vatican City, Oct 14, 2021 / 06:30 am (CNA).

Italy’s Supreme Court has overturned an arrest warrant against a broker wanted in Italy and the Vatican on allegations of financial crimes.

According to a statement from the lawyers of Gianluigi Torzi late Wednesday, a precautionary measure against the Italian businessman who brokered the final stage of the Vatican’s controversial purchase of a London property has been “annulled in its entirety.”

The case has been sent back to Rome’s Tribunal for Review. A written ruling explaining the reason for the annulment will be released by the Italian court within a month, according to the AP.

Torzi is one of the key suspects in a significant finance trial being heard by the Vatican City State’s tribunal about the London property deal.

The Vatican has accused the businessman of being part of a conspiracy to defraud the Secretariat of State of millions of euros, and has charged him with extortion, embezzlement, fraud, misappropriation, money laundering, and self-money laundering. He denies the charges.

An Italian magistrate issued an arrest warrant for Torzi in April on suspicion of similar financial crimes committed in Italy. The businessman has been under precautionary measures in the U.K. while awaiting extradition to Italy at the request of the Italian authorities.

The Supreme Court decision to annul the precautionary measures calls into question whether Torzi will be extradited from the U.K.

In a hearing on Oct. 6, Vatican judges ruled that Torzi’s portion of the finance trial would effectively be on hold until he could present himself at the Vatican.

A statement from Torzi’s communication team on Oct. 13 said that Torzi’s lawyers, Ambra Giovene and Marco Franco, called the high court’s annulment of the precautionary measure “an important step towards proving their client’s innocence.”

The statement also said that evidence used by the Supreme Court in its decision was provided by Vatican prosecutors.

In March, a British judge reversed the seizure of Torzi’s accounts, saying that Vatican prosecutors withheld and misrepresented information in their request to the U.K. court.

Judge Tony Baumgartner of Southwark Crown Court overturned another judge’s decision to seize the British-based accounts of Gianluigi Torzi, as had been requested by Vatican prosecutors.

Pope Francis approves beatification of Colombian sister filled with ‘ardent apostolic zeal’

Mother María Berenice receives the Eucharist during a period of illness. / Hermanitas de la Anunciación.

Vatican City, Oct 13, 2021 / 06:22 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Wednesday approved a miracle obtained through the intercession of Venerable María Berenice Duque Hencker, a Colombian nun described as an entrepreneurial figure with “great mettle.”

Mother María Berenice, as she was known, was the founder of the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Annunciation in Medellín, Colombia. She died in 1993 at the age of 94, and her congregation continues to be active in Colombia and Venezuela.

Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, the late archbishop of Caracas, Venezuela, described her as having an “ardent apostolic zeal.”

Urosa told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, in May that the nun, who was born in 1898, “felt the vocation to religious life very young, and responded in 1917 to the Lord’s call, entering the Congregation of the Dominicans of the Presentation.”

“There she grew in her intense love for God, which inspired her with an ardent apostolic zeal to serve and evangelize her neighbor, which she concretized in the various activities that were progressively assigned to her,” the cardinal wrote in a letter.

In 1943, she founded the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Annunciation, and afterward, she began another congregation, the Missionary Sisters, to welcome young Afro-Colombian women called to consecrated life.

“She was a woman of living and firm Christian faith, of intense Marian piety and great mettle, an enthusiastic entrepreneur, with many initiatives to announce the name and love of God to those most in need,” Urosa said.

He added that the mother superior accepted and implemented the decrees of the Second Vatican Council in her congregation, and led her sisters “with prudence, gentleness, and tact.”

The cardinal stressed that “her intense love for God and her union with Christ crucified gave her the necessary strength to undertake many difficult deeds, especially among the poorest.”

In her 70s, she became seriously ill for several years, but “the Lord gave her a special strength to join the passion of Christ in the pain of illness and the weakness that it brings,” Cardinal Urosa said.

The miracle attributed to the nun’s intercession was approved by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in May, and on Oct. 13, Pope Francis gave his authorization for her to be beatified.

Pope Francis also signed off on the decrees of martyrdom of the diocesan priest Fr. Pedro Ortiz de Zárate and the Jesuit priest Fr. Juan Antonio Solinas, who were killed in Argentina in 1683.

Other Servants of God whose sainthood causes have been advanced are the Spanish priest Fr. Diego Hernández González (1915-1976); the Italian priest and Franciscan of the Order of Friars Minor Fr. Giuseppe Spoletini (1870-1951); the Italian foundress of the Fraternity of the Little Sisters of Jesus, Sr. Maddalena di Gesù (1898-1989); and Italian foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of Holy Mary of Leuca, Sr. Elizabetta Martinez (1905-1991).

Pope Francis: The Gospel opens every culture to greater freedom in Christ

Pope Francis’ general audience in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican, Oct. 13, 2021. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Oct 13, 2021 / 05:45 am (CNA).

Pope Francis spoke Wednesday about the universal nature of the Catholic Church, which embraces all cultures because Christ died for all people.

“This is the meaning of calling ourselves Catholics, of speaking of the Catholic Church: it is not a sociological denomination to distinguish us from other Christians. Catholic is an adjective that means ‘universal,’” Pope Francis said in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall on Oct. 13.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“The Church contains within herself, in her very nature, an openness to all peoples and cultures of all times, because Christ was born, died, and rose for everyone,” he said.

The word “Catholic” comes from the Greek word “katholikos” (καθολικός), which means “universal.” The term was first used by St. Ignatius of Antioch, who wrote in the second century that “wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

In his weekly general audience, Pope Francis reflected on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, chapter five, verse 13: “For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love.”

Pope Francis said: “In the call to freedom we discover the true meaning of the inculturation of the Gospel ... being able to announce the Good News of Christ the Savior while respecting the good and the true that exist in cultures.”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“It is not easy. There are many temptations to seek to impose one’s own model of life as though it were the most evolved and the most appealing. How many errors have been made in the history of evangelization by seeking to impose a single cultural model.”

The pope pointed to examples from Church history in which missionaries who immersed themselves deeply in other cultures were criticized by their contemporaries. He mentioned the 16th-century Jesuit Fr. Matteo Ricci, who spent nearly three decades in China, and another Jesuit missionary, Fr. Roberto de Nobili (1577-1656), who learned Sanskrit and Tamil while ministering in India.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“The liberation obtained through baptism enables us to acquire the full dignity of children of God, so that, while we remain firmly anchored in our cultural roots, at the same time we open ourselves to the universalism of faith that enters into every culture, recognizes the kernels of truth present, and develops them, bringing to fullness the good contained in them,” Pope Francis said.

“To accept that we have been set free by Christ -- his passion, his death, his resurrection -- is to accept and bring fullness even to the different traditions of every people. True fullness.”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

In his 11th live-streamed address in his cycle of catechesis on Galatians, the pope underlined that “uniformity as a rule of life is not Christian.”

“Unity yes, uniformity no,” he said.

Pope Francis said that culture by its very nature is always in “continual transformation.”

“Think about how we are called to proclaim the Gospel in this historical moment of great cultural change, where increasingly advanced technology seems to have the upper hand,” he said.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“If we were to speak of faith as we did in previous centuries, we would run the risk of no longer being understood by the new generations. The freedom of Christian faith -- Christian freedom -- does not indicate a static vision of life and culture, but rather a dynamic vision, a dynamic vision too of tradition. Tradition grows but always with the same nature.”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

“Let us not claim, therefore, to possess freedom. We have received a gift to cherish. Rather, it is freedom that asks each one of us to be constantly on the move, oriented towards its fullness. It is the condition of pilgrims; it is the state of wayfarers, in continual exodus: liberated from slavery so as to walk towards the fullness of freedom.”

At the end of the audience, Pope Francis greeted American visitors on pilgrimage in Rome.

“I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s audience, especially the groups from the United States of America. In this month of October, through the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary, may we grow in the Christian freedom that we received at baptism. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of the Lord. May God bless you,” the pope said.

John Paul I, ‘the smiling pope,’ to be beatified after miracle approved by Pope Francis

Pope John Paul I in an undated file photo. / Vatican Media/CNA.

Vatican City, Oct 13, 2021 / 04:41 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has recognized a miracle obtained through the intercession of his predecessor Venerable John Paul I, who will now be declared “blessed.”

Often called “the smiling pope,” John Paul I died unexpectedly on Sept. 28, 1978, after just 33 days in office. A priority of his short pontificate was carrying forward the work of the Second Vatican Council.

But even before he was elected pope, Albino Luciani was known for his humility, his emphasis on spiritual poverty, and his dedication to teaching the faith in an understandable manner.

Pope Francis gave his approval on Oct. 13 for the cause of beatification of John Paul I to move forward, along with the causes of six other people on the path to sainthood.

John Paul I was declared Venerable by Pope Francis in 2017.

According to a report this week from the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero, John Paul I may be beatified before Easter.

Though beatification ceremonies usually take place in the country most associated with the life of the new blessed, John Paul I is likely to be beatified at the Vatican by Pope Francis because he served as a pope.

The miracle attributed to John Paul I’s intercession is the 2011 healing of a girl in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, Argentina, from a severe form of encephalopathy, a disease affecting the brain.

Last year, Pope Francis instituted a Vatican foundation to promote John Paul I’s thought and teachings.

In an article in L’Osservatore Romano on April 28, 2020, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin wrote that “Pope John Paul I was and remains a reference point in the history of the universal Church, the importance of which -- as St. John Paul II pointed out -- is inversely proportional to the duration of his very short pontificate.”

In 2008, on the 30th anniversary of John Paul I’s death, Benedict XVI reflected on St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, when the apostle wrote: “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves.”

Benedict said that this biblical text called to mind John Paul I, who chose the same episcopal motto as St. Charles Borromeo, “Humilitas.”

John Paul I’s simplicity, according to Benedict, “was a means of solid and fruitful instruction, which, thanks to the gift of an excellent memory and vast culture, was enriched by numerous citations of Church and secular authors.”

Pope Francis encourages Catholics in Russia to witness to the Gospel

The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Moscow. / Sergey Ilyin-Mikhalski via Wikimedia (public domain).

Vatican City, Oct 11, 2021 / 11:23 am (CNA).

As the Soviet Union was disintegrating 30 years ago, St. John Paul II appointed apostolic administrators for the pastoral care of Latin Rite Catholics in Moscow and Siberia.

Pope Francis has marked the 30th anniversary of the establishment of these Apostolic Administrations with a message encouraging Latin Rite Catholics in Russia to witness to the Gospel.

“My wish is that this commemoration will stimulate the entire Catholic community in the Russian Federation to be an evangelical seed which, with joy and humility, offers a clear vision of the Kingdom of God,” the pope wrote in the message published Oct. 10.

“I wish you to be a community of men and women, children and adults, young people and the elderly, priests and lay people, consecrated persons, and people in search of a vocation, striving for communion with all, in order to bear witness with simplicity and generosity, in family life and in every area of daily life, to the gift of grace received. This is so pleasing to God and contributes to the common good of the whole of society.”

Three decades after the fall of the Soviet Union, Catholics constitute a very small religious minority in Russia. The majority of the population is affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church.

Pope Francis asked Catholics in Russia to share in solidarity and take steps toward unity with Eastern Orthodox Christians.

“In the context of the Eastern Christian tradition in which you live, it is important to continue walking together with all your Christian brothers and sisters, without getting tired of asking the Lord's help to deepen mutual knowledge and advance, step by step, on the path of unity,” the pope said.

“By praying for all and by serving those with whom we share the same humanity, which Jesus has united to himself in an inseparable way, we will rediscover ourselves as brothers and sisters in a common pilgrimage towards the goal of communion, which God indicates to us in every Eucharistic celebration.”

Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Oct. 6, 2021. Vatican Media.
Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican, Oct. 6, 2021. Vatican Media.

The pope’s message, signed Sept. 16, was released Oct. 10, the Sunday following Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev’s visit to the Vatican.

The Russian Orthodox Metropolitan of Volokolamsk participated in an interreligious gathering Oct. 4 at the Vatican to issue a joint appeal calling for “net zero carbon emissions as soon as possible.”

Hilarion, who serves as the chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, said in an interview after his private audience with the pope on Oct. 6 that he thinks that another meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow will take place, but that a potential papal trip to Russia would be “impossible at the moment.”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

The Russian metropolitan told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera that although Christians in Russia no longer face the impediments to preaching that existed in the USSR for 70 years, many baptized Christians in Russia today still do not really know the Gospel.

“In the university I was telling you about, there were probably 90% baptized, but only one out of four who had read the Gospel. They are not pagans, they consider themselves Orthodox Christians, but if they have not read the Gospel it means that it is a nominal rather than a real Orthodoxy,” Hilarion said.

“I think this is the main task, for everyone: to make people see Christ."

Pope Francis names master of ceremonies for Vatican papal liturgies

Msgr. Diego Ravelli in 2015/ / Bohumil Petrik/CNA

Vatican City, Oct 11, 2021 / 05:16 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Monday appointed Msgr. Diego Giovanni Ravelli the Vatican’s next lead master of ceremonies for papal liturgies, replacing Msgr. Guido Marini, who held the post for 14 years.

Ravelli was also named head of the pope’s Sistine Chapel Choir.

A 56-year-old priest from northern Italy, Ravelli is one of several papal masters of ceremonies at the Vatican. He also served in the office of papal almoner for 15 years before being promoted to manager of the office in 2013.

He replaces Msgr. Guido Marini, who on Aug. 29 was promoted to bishop of Tortona, a diocese in northern Italy close to Genoa. The bishop-elect had been in charge of papal liturgies since his appointment as master of ceremonies by Benedict XVI in 2007.

Marini, 56, will be ordained a bishop by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica on Oct. 17.

Papal masters of ceremonies are responsible for organizing and overseeing all liturgical celebrations of the pope. The lead MC is usually at the side of the pope during liturgies both in Rome and abroad.

Ravelli was ordained a priest of the Association of Priests of Jesus Crucified, part of the Opera Don Folci association, in 1991; he then served in the Diocese of Velletri-Segni, which is just south-east of Rome.

In 2010, he received a doctoral degree from the Pontifical Liturgical Institute. His dissertation, published in 2012, was a historical-liturgical study on the Solemnity of the Chair of St. Peter celebrated in the Vatican. The study includes an analysis of the Lectionarium and the Sacramentarium of the Mass.

Ravelli was also an assistant master of ceremonies prior to his 2006 appointment as a full master of ceremonies.

Ravelli was rumored to be a possible replacement for Msgr. Guido Marini in 2017, before Pope Francis confirmed Marini in the position for another four years.

Also on Oct. 11, Pope Francis named Fr. Cristiano Antonietti, who works in the Secretariat of State as secretary of the nuntiature, as a master of ceremonies to fill the place left by Ravelli.

How to pray the rosary more deeply

Missionary of Charity sister prays the rosary. / Daniel Ibanez

Vatican City, Oct 10, 2021 / 09:04 am (CNA).

It is interesting that in her appearances at Lourdes, Fatima and other locations, the Mother of God repeatedly recommends praying the Rosary. She does not invite us to pray the Divine Office, or to do spiritual reading, or Eucharistic Adoration, or practice interior prayer or mental prayer. All the mentioned forms of prayer are good, recognized by the Church and practiced by many saints. Why does Mary “only” place the Rosary in our hearts?

We can find a possible answer by looking at the visionaries of Lourdes and Fatima. Mary revealed herself to children of little instruction, who could not even read or write correctly. The Rosary was for them the appropriate school to learn how to pray well, since bead after bead, it leads us from vocal prayer, to meditation, and eventually to contemplation. With the Rosary, everyone who allows himself to be led by Mary can arrive at interior prayer without any kind of special technique or complicated practices.

This does not mean – and I want to emphasize this point – that praying the Rosary is for “dummies” or for simple minded people. Even great intellectuals must come before God as children, who in their prayers are always simple and sincere, always full of confidence, praying from within.

All Christians are called to the kind of interior prayer that allows an experience of closeness with God and recognition of his action in our lives. We can compare the Rosary to playing the guitar. The vocal prayers – the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be – are the central prayers of Christianity, rooted in Scripture. These are like the rhythm in a song.  

But simply strumming a guitar is not a song. And mindless repetition of words is not interior prayer. In addition to rhythm, keys are needed. The Mysteries of the Rosary are like the chords on the guitar. The vocal prayers form the framework for meditation on the Mysteries.

There are always these five chords to the rhythm of the repetition of the prayers, which make the lives of Jesus and Mary pass before our eyes. With meditation, we go on reflecting on what happens in each Mystery and what it means for our lives: At Nazareth, the Son of God is incarnated in Mary. In Holy Communion, He also comes to me. In Gethsemane, Jesus sweats blood. He suffers, is in anguish, and yet his friends remain asleep. Can I keep vigil with Him or do my eyes close with tiredness? On Easter morning, Jesus rises and breaks forth from the tomb. The first day of creation brought light. The first day of the week conquered death and gave us life. Christ can change the darkness in my life into light.

And so, our prayer begins to change into music. That is to say, it is no longer monotonous and boring, but now it is full of images and thoughts. And when the grace of God permits, it is also filled with supernatural illuminations and inspirations.

There is one more thing needed to have really great music, or to have a prayer that is even more profound and intimate: the melody that the heart sings. When playing the guitar, a voice is needed to interpret the song. When praying the Rosary, it is the song of our heart, as we place our own life before God, to the tempo of the prayers and meditations.  

It is this song of the heart that allows us to enter into the mysteries of the Rosary: For my sake you were scourged, and it was I who struck you. Forgive me! You have ascended into Heaven, Lord. I long for You, I long for your kingdom, my true homeland.

In contemplation, the person praying sees the mysteries pass before his eyes, and at the same time he abides in particular affections or movements of the heart before God. The one who prays sings the song of his own life, in which naturally there can arise specific desires: You wanted to be the son of a human Mother; help my sick mother! You were crowned with thorns; help me in this financial difficulty which I can't get out of my head. You sent the Holy Spirit; without You I don't have the courage or the strength to make a good decision.

With this understanding, the following tips can help those who pray the Rosary move from vocal prayer to meditation to inner contemplation:

1) Schedule the time

Our schedule is full of appointments. More or less consciously, we also plan out the time we're going to need for each task or appointment. Sometimes it is good to set aside 20 or 30 minutes to pray the Rosary, and write it down in the schedule. This “appointment” with Jesus and Mary is then just as important as all the other ones planned. For all of us, it is possible to set aside a time to pray the Rosary, at first, once, twice or three times a week.  Over time – and this is the goal – it will be easier to find a time to pray the Rosary daily.

2) Don’t rush

We can learn a lesson about prayer by observing people in love. During a romantic candlelit dinner, no one would be constantly looking at the clock, or choking down their food, or leaving the dessert to one side to finish as quickly as possible. Rather, a romantic meal is stretched out, maybe lingering for an hour to sip a cocktail, and enjoying every moment spent together. So it is with praying the Rosary. It shouldn't be treated as sets of Hail Mary’s to be performed as if one were lifting weights. I can spend time lingering on a thought. I can also break away from it. I can, principally at the beginning, simply be peaceful. If I keep this peaceful attitude and an awareness of how important this 20-minute “appointment” is, then I will have prayed well. It will have been a good prayer, because my will is focused on pleasing the Beloved and not myself.

3) Savor the experience

Saint Ignatius recommends what's called the “third form of prayer,” which consists in adjusting the words to the rhythm of one's own breathing. Often it is sufficient in praying the Rosary to briefly pause between the mysteries, and to remember that Jesus and Mary are looking at me full of joy and love, recognizing with gratitude that I am like a little child babbling words every so often to in some way affirm that I love God. To do this, it can be useful to pause and take a few breaths before resuming vocal prayer.

4) A gaze of love

The vocal prayers of the Rosary only provide the rhythm of the prayer. With my thoughts, I can and should go out from the rhythm to encounter the Mystery which is being contemplated. This is more clear in German, where the mystery is announced not only at the beginning of each decade, but before each Hail Mary. It’s a time to look your Beloved in the eyes and let Him look back, with eyes full of love. 

5) Allow yourself to be amazed

One of the first and most important steps for inner prayer is to go from thinking and speculation to looking upon and being amazed. Think of lovers who meet, not to plan out what they're going to give each other or what they might do on the next vacation, but to enjoy the time together and to rejoice in each other. Looking at a family photo album is very different from looking at a history book. In the photo album, we see people who are important to us, whom we love – and even more – who love us! That's how our gaze at Jesus and Mary ought to be in the Rosary.

6) Allow your “inner cameraman” to notice details

Some people close their eyes while praying in order to concentrate. Others find it useful to focus their eyes on a certain point (such as a crucifix). Either way, what is important is for the eyes of the heart to be open. Praying the Rosary is like going to the movies. It's about seeing images. It's useful to ask yourself: Who, What, Where am I looking at when I contemplate the birth of Jesus, or his crucifixion, or his ascension into Heaven? And on some occasions, like a good cameraman does, come in for a close-up image of some detail: contemplate the warm breath of the ox that's warming the Child, the pierced hand of Jesus that spread so much love, the tears in John's eyes as he gazes at Jesus rising up to Heaven.

7) Pray in words, mind, and heart

The words accompany, the mind opens, but it is the heart that has the leading role in prayer. All the great spiritual authors agree that inner prayer is about dwelling in the affections, that is, the inner sentiments and movements. Teresa of Avila says very simply: “Don't think a lot, love a lot!” An elderly lady was ruefully complaining to me that she could not reflect while praying her daily Rosary, and that in that situation she could barely say “Jesus, Mary, I love you!” I congratulated the lady. That is exactly what praying the Rosary ought to lead us to.

This commentary was first published April 26, 2017.

Pope Francis greets Colombian nun freed 4 years after kidnapping by Islamists in Mali

Pope Francis greets the recently freed Sr. Gloria Cecilia Narváez Argoti at the Vatican, Oct. 10, 2021. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Oct 10, 2021 / 07:40 am (CNA).

Pope Francis greeted a Colombian nun on Sunday, shortly after she was freed four years after being kidnapped by Islamists in Mali.

The pope blessed Sr. Gloria Cecilia Narváez Argoti before a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica launching a worldwide synodal process.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

Sr. Gloria, a member of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate, was kidnapped in southern Mali in 2017.

The Malian presidency announced that she was released on Oct. 9 after “four years and eight months of combined efforts of several intelligence services.”

It posted photographs on social media of her meeting with interim president Col. Assimi Goïta, accompanied by Cardinal Jean Zerbo of Bamako.

“We prayed a lot for her release. I thank the Malian authorities and other good people who made this release possible,” the cardinal told AFP.

Armed men kidnapped Sr. Gloria in Karangasso, about 90 miles south of the town of San, near the border with Burkina Faso, on Feb. 7, 2017.

The men forced her to hand over the keys to the community’s ambulance. The vehicle was later found abandoned. Three other sisters were present at their house but escaped.

The kidnappers were going to take the youngest nun, but Sr. Gloria reportedly volunteered to take her place.

The Colombian nun had served in Mali for 12 years before her abduction.

Her community administers a large health center in the country, as well as a home for some 30 orphans.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

Earlier this year, she was allowed to give proof that she was alive with a handwritten note in which she asked people to pray for her.

In the 11-line message sent to her brother Edgar Narváez Argoti via the Red Cross, she wrote: “I send everyone my warmest greetings. May the good Lord bless you and grant you health. I have been a prisoner for four years and now I am with a new group.”

She identified the group who held her as Jama’at Nasr al-Islam wal Muslimin, an Islamist organization in West Africa and the Maghreb.

In her message, she asked: “May they all pray a great deal for me. May God bless them all. I am hopeful that God will help me to regain my freedom.”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

Mali is currently under the leadership of Goïta, who led two coups in a span of nine months, first ousting the country’s democratically elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta in August 2020 and, in May this year, the interim leaders who were to head the country’s transitional government.

Following the May 24 coup, Mali’s constitutional court named Goïta as transitional president of Mali until the country holds elections.

The move attracted criticism, with Catholic leaders in the country calling it a “seizure of power outside the legal process.”

Mali is struggling with an Islamist insurgency that began in the north in 2012 and has spread to Burkina Faso and Niger, with a rise in kidnappings.

Agenzia Fides reported in September 2020 that Sr. Gloria’s mother died at the age of 87 while awaiting her daughter’s release.

Pope Francis at the Angelus: ‘Is your faith tired and do you want to reinvigorate it?’

Pope Francis delivers his Angelus address at the Vatican, Oct. 10, 2021. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, Oct 10, 2021 / 06:20 am (CNA).

Pope Francis offered advice on Sunday to Catholics who feel that their faith is “tired” and wish to reinvigorate it.

In his Angelus address on Oct. 10, the pope outlined a three-step process for personal renewal.

Pope Francis delivers his Angelus address at the Vatican, Oct. 10, 2021. Vatican Media.
Pope Francis delivers his Angelus address at the Vatican, Oct. 10, 2021. Vatican Media.

“Is your faith, my faith, tired, and do you want to reinvigorate it? Look for God’s gaze: sit in adoration, allow yourself to be forgiven in Confession, stand before the Crucified One. In short, let yourself be loved by him,” he said.

“This is the beginning of faith: letting ourselves be loved by Him, who is Father.”

The pope offered the advice while reflecting on the day’s Gospel reading, Mark 10:17-30, in which Jesus urges a rich young man to “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor … then come, follow me.”

Giving his live-streamed address at a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square, the pope said that everyone could see themselves in the rich young man because he wasn’t named in the Gospel.

He said: “The man begins with a question: ‘What must I do to inherit eternal life?’ Notice the verbs he uses: ‘must do,’ ‘inherit.’ Here is his religiosity: a duty, a doing so as to obtain; ‘I do something to get what I need.’”

“But this is a commercial relationship with God, a quid pro quo. Faith, on the other hand, is not a cold, mechanical ritual, a ‘must-do-obtain.’ It is a question of freedom and love.”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

The pope, who earlier celebrated a Mass opening the two-year process leading to the 2023 synod on synodality, asked his listeners to consider if their faith was primarily a matter of duty or a “bargaining chip.”

“The first thing to do is to free ourselves of a commercial and mechanical faith, which insinuates the false image of an accounting and controlling God, not a father,” he said.

He continued: “Jesus, in the second step, helps this man by offering him the true face of God. Indeed, the text says, ‘Jesus looking upon him loved him’: this is God!”

“This is where faith is born and reborn: not from a duty, not from something that is to be done or paid for, but from a look of love to be welcomed. In this way, Christian life becomes beautiful, if it is based not on our abilities and our plans, but on God’s gaze.”

The pope said that in the third and final step, Jesus invited the young man to give generously of himself to others.

“It is perhaps what we are missing too. Often, we do the bare minimum, whereas Jesus invites us to do the maximum possible,” he commented.

“How many times are we satisfied with doing our duties -- the precepts, a few prayers, and so on -- whereas God, who gives us life, asks us for the impetus of life!”

The pope noted that in the Gospel reading, Jesus began by listing the Commandments and ended with a “positive proposal.”

He said: “Faith cannot be limited to ‘do not,’ because Christian life is a ‘yes,’ a ‘yes’ of love.”

Concluding his meditation, he said: “A faith without giving, without works of charity, in the end makes us sad: just like that man whose ‘face fell’ and returned home ‘sorrowful,’ even though he had been looked upon with love by Jesus in person.”

“Today we can ask ourselves: At what point is my faith? Do I experience it as something mechanical, like a relationship of duty or interest with God? Do I remember to nourish it by letting myself be looked at and loved by Jesus? ... And, attracted by him, do I respond freely, with generosity, with my whole heart?”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

After praying the Angelus, Pope Francis welcomed two beatifications taking place this weekend.

He said: “Yesterday, in Naples, Maria Lorenza Longo, a 16th-century wife and mother of a family, was beatified. A widow, she founded in Naples the Hospital for the Incurables and the Capuchin Poor Clares.”

“A woman of great faith and intense prayer life, she did all she could for the needs of the poor and the suffering.”

He added: “Today, in Tropea, Calabria, Fr. Francesco Mottola, founder of the Oblates of the Sacred Heart, who died in 1969, was beatified.”

“A zealous pastor and tireless proclaimer of the Gospel, he was an exemplary witness of a priesthood lived in charity and contemplation.”

After asking for a round of applause for the new blesseds, the pope noted that Oct. 10 is World Mental Health Day, marked by the Vatican with a message by Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

The pope acknowledged those suffering from mental health issues, as well as suicide victims, including young people.

“Let us pray for them and their families, that they will not be left alone or discriminated against, but welcomed and supported,” he said.

As he greeted pilgrims in the square below, he pointed out a large image of Mother Maria Bernardetta of the Immaculate, a professed sister of the Poor Sisters of St. Joseph, held by visitors from her birthplace of Montella, southern Italy.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

She spent time in Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, and was a friend of the future Pope Francis from 1979 until her death in 2001. The Vatican announced the opening of her cause in 2019.

“Let us pray for her prompt canonization,” the pope said, concluding his Angelus address.

Pope Francis launches 2-year synodal path with call to ‘encounter, listen, and discern’

Pope Francis celebrates a Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica opening the worldwide synodal path, Oct. 10, 2021. / Screenshot from Vatican News YouTube channel.

Vatican City, Oct 10, 2021 / 04:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis formally launched the two-year global consultation process leading to the 2023 synod on synodality on Sunday with a call to “look others in the eye and listen to what they have to say.”

Preaching at a Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica on Oct. 10, the pope said that Catholics taking part in the synodal path should strive to “become experts in the art of encounter.”

Screenshot from Vatican News YouTube channel.
Screenshot from Vatican News YouTube channel.

“Not so much by organizing events or theorizing about problems, as in taking time to encounter the Lord and one another,” he said.

“Time to devote to prayer and adoration -- this prayer that we neglect so much: to adore, to make room for adoration -- listening to what the Spirit wants to say to the Church.”

Screenshot from Vatican News YouTube channel.
Screenshot from Vatican News YouTube channel.

“Time to look others in the eye and listen to what they have to say, to build rapport, to be sensitive to the questions of our sisters and brothers, to let ourselves be enriched by the variety of charisms, vocations, and ministries.”

The live-streamed Mass, attended by around 3,000 people, was the second of two weekend events officially opening the two-year global consultation process.

Screenshot from Vatican News YouTube channel.
Screenshot from Vatican News YouTube channel.

The first was a “moment of reflection” on Oct. 9 featuring speeches from the pope, Cardinal Mario Grech, the secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, S.J., the synod’s relator general, and others.

The Vatican announced in May that the synod on synodality would open with a diocesan phase lasting from October 2021 to April 2022.

A second, continental phase will take place from September 2022 to March 2023.

The third, universal phase will begin with the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, dedicated to the theme “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” at the Vatican in October 2023.

Vatican pool.
Vatican pool.

In his homily, the pope reflected on the day’s Gospel reading, Mark 10:17-30, in which Jesus challenges the rich young man to “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor … then come, follow me.”

He said that the Gospels often showed Jesus in the midst of a journey, meeting people and listening to their deepest concerns.

“Today, as we begin this synodal process, let us begin by asking ourselves -- all of us, pope, bishops, priests, religious and laity -- whether we, the Christian community, embody this ‘style’ of God, who travels the paths of history and shares in the life of humanity,” he urged.

Screenshot from Vatican News YouTube channel.
Screenshot from Vatican News YouTube channel.

“Are we prepared for the adventure of this journey? Or are we fearful of the unknown, preferring to take refuge in the usual excuses: ‘It’s useless’ or ‘We’ve always done it this way’?”

Screenshot from Vatican News YouTube channel.
Screenshot from Vatican News YouTube channel.

“Celebrating a synod means walking on the same road, together. Let us look at Jesus, who encounters the rich man on the road; he then listens to his questions, and finally he helps him discern what he must do to inherit eternal life.”

The pope built his homily around three verbs -- “encounter, listen, and discern” -- that he hoped would mark the synodal path.

He noted that when Jesus encountered the young man, he was fully present to him and did not “keep looking at his watch to get the meeting over.”

“Everything changes once we are capable of genuine encounters with Him and with one another, without formalism or pretense, but simply as we are,” he observed.

Screenshot from Vatican News YouTube channel.
Screenshot from Vatican News YouTube channel.

Pope Francis said that Jesus’ meeting with the rich man showed that listening was an essential feature of true encounters.

Screenshot from Vatican News YouTube channel.
Screenshot from Vatican News YouTube channel.

He said: “Let us ask frankly during this synodal process: Are we good at listening? How good is the ‘hearing’ of our heart?”

“Do we allow people to express themselves, to walk in faith even though they have had difficulties in life, and to be part of the life of the community without being hindered, rejected, or judged?”

He continued: “Participating in a synod means placing ourselves on the same path as the Word made flesh. It means following in his footsteps, listening to his word along with the words of others. It means discovering with amazement that the Holy Spirit always surprises us, to suggest fresh paths and new ways of speaking.”

Screenshot from Vatican News YouTube channel.
Screenshot from Vatican News YouTube channel.

The pope acknowledged that learning to listen was “a slow and perhaps tiring exercise” for bishops, priests, religious, and laity.

“Let us not soundproof our hearts; let us not remain barricaded in our certainties. Certainties often close us off. Let us listen to one another,” he encouraged Catholics.

The pope said that encounter and listening should lead to discernment.

Screenshot from Vatican News YouTube channel.
Screenshot from Vatican News YouTube channel.

“We see this in today’s Gospel,” he explained. “Jesus senses that the person before him is a good and religious man, obedient to the commandments, but he wants to lead him beyond the mere observance of precepts.”

“Through dialogue, he helps him to discern. Jesus encourages that man to look within, in the light of the love that the Lord himself had shown by his gaze, and to discern in that light what his heart truly treasures.”

“And in this way to discover that he cannot attain happiness by filling his life with more religious observances, but by emptying himself, selling whatever takes up space in his heart, in order to make room for God.”

The pope described the synod as “a journey of spiritual discernment” guided by God’s word.

Vatican pool.
Vatican pool.

“That word summons us to discernment and it brings light to that process. It guides the synod, preventing it from becoming a Church ‘convention,’ a study group or a political congress, because it is not a parliament, but rather a grace-filled event, a process of healing guided by the Holy Spirit,” he said.

“In these days, Jesus calls us, as he did the rich man in the Gospel, to empty ourselves, to free ourselves from all that is worldly, including our inward-looking and outworn pastoral models; and to ask ourselves what it is that God wants to say to us in this time. And the direction in which he wants to lead us.”

Pope Francis ended his homily by wishing participants in the synodal path a good journey together.

He said: “May we be pilgrims in love with the Gospel and open to the surprises of the Spirit. Let us not miss out on the grace-filled opportunities born of encounter, listening, and discernment. In the joyful conviction that, even as we seek the Lord, he always comes with his love to meet us first.”