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Posted on 12/6/2021 16:21 PM (CNA Daily News)
Rome Newsroom, Dec 6, 2021 / 07:21 am (CNA).
On the papal plane on Monday, Pope Francis said that he accepted the resignation of Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris “not on the altar of truth, but on the altar of hypocrisy.”
Answering questions aboard his return flight from Athens, Greece, to Rome on Dec. 6, the pope said that the archbishop of Paris stepped down because he had “lost his reputation so publicly.”
Pope Francis told reporters that Catholics today “are not used to having a sinful bishop.”
“We pretend to say my bishop is a saint,” he said.
“The gossip grows, grows, grows and takes away the reputation of the person. He will not be able to speak because he has lost the reputation ... and this is an injustice and that is why I accepted Aupetit’s resignation not on the altar of truth, but on the altar of hypocrisy,” Pope Francis said.
Aupetit had asked the pope to decide whether he should remain in his post after a report in the French weekly magazine Le Point on Nov. 22 raised concerns about Aupetit’s contacts with a woman dating back to 2012, when he was vicar general of Paris archdiocese.
Aupetit said that he had written to the pope at the end of November out of a concern to preserve the unity of his archdiocese after Le Point had portrayed him as an authoritarian and divisive figure.
Discussing Aupetit’s case, Pope Francis said: “I wonder what he did that was so serious that he had to resign. What did he do? ... If we don’t know the accusation, we cannot condemn.”
The pope said that Aupetit was accused of a fault against the sixth commandment, of “small caresses and massages that he gave to the secretary.”
Francis added that this “is a sin, but it is not one of the most serious sins, because the sins of the flesh are not the most serious.”
Aupetit has firmly denied that he had a relationship with the woman in question.
“My behavior towards her may have been ambiguous, thus suggesting the existence between us of an intimate relationship and sexual relations, which I strongly refute … I decided not to see her again and I informed her,” he said to Le Point.
Aupetit told the French Catholic daily La Croix that he had spoken to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops, about his situation, as well as to Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the apostolic nuncio to France.
“This is not because of what I should or should not have done in the past — otherwise I would have left a long time ago — but to avoid division, if I myself am a source of division,” Aupetit said.
The Vatican announced that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of Aupetit on Dec. 2 as the pope traveled to the divided capital city of Nicosia in Cyprus, an island in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
The 84-year-old pope’s three days in neighboring Greece included meetings with political authorities, Orthodox leaders, the Catholic community, local Jesuits, and migrants on the island of Lesbos. He also celebrated Mass at a concert hall in the capital.
On the flight back to Rome, Pope Francis was also asked about a report which estimated that hundreds of thousands of children were abused in the Catholic Church in France over the past 70 years.
In response, Pope Francis said that there was a risk of confusing the way that a problem was perceived 70 years ago with the way it is seen today.
“A historical situation should be interpreted with the hermeneutics of the time, not ours,” he said.
The pope added that he had not read the report, but that he planned to discuss it with the French bishops.
The Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (CIASE) published a nearly 2,500-page final report on Oct. 5, estimating that 216,000 children were abused by priests, deacons, monks, or nuns in France from 1950 to 2020.
It suggested that there were “between 2,900 and 3,200” abusers out of 115,000 clergy and other religious workers, which it noted “would imply a very high number of victims per aggressor.”
The study also said that “more than a third of sexual assaults within the Catholic Church were committed, not by clergy, monks or other religious workers, but by laypersons.”
Members of a French Catholic academy have criticized the report’s methodology, claiming that it lacked “scientific rigor.”
Last month, Catholic bishops in France announced that they have agreed to launch “a vast program of renewal” of governance practices in response to a landmark report on clerical sex abuse.
Aupetit responded to the pope’s decision to accept his resignation in a video message on Dec. 2, saying that he had been “greatly disturbed by the attacks” on him.
He said: “The painful events of the past week, about which I have already spoken, had led me to place my mission in the hands of Pope Francis in order to preserve the archdiocese from the division that suspicion and loss of trust always provoke.”
“I pray for those who may have wished me ill as Christ taught us to do, who helps us beyond our poor strength. I ask forgiveness of those whom I might have hurt and assure you all of my deep friendship and my prayer, which will always be yours,” Aupetit said.
Posted on 12/6/2021 15:35 PM (CNA Daily News)
Rome Newsroom, Dec 6, 2021 / 06:35 am (CNA).
On the return flight from Greece on Monday, Pope Francis said that a second meeting between him and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, is being organized.
“A meeting with Patriarch Kirill is not far on the horizon. I think next week [Metropolitan] Hilarion is coming to me to arrange a possible meeting,” the pope said during a press conference aboard the papal plane on Dec. 6.
Pope Francis expressed his willingness to travel anywhere, including Moscow, for the meeting, emphasizing that what is more important than “protocols” is that the patriarch is his brother.
During his trip, the pope spoke about his desire that the Catholic Church and Orthodox Church in Cyprus and Greece would continue to strive for full unity.
The Russian Orthodox Metropolitan of Volokolamsk said in an interview after an October meeting with Francis that he thought another encounter between the pope and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow would take place.
Pope Francis’ historic meeting with Patriarch Kirill in Cuba in 2016 marked the first time a pope met with the head of the Russian Orthodox Church in almost 1,000 years.
According to Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, who serves as the chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, the next meeting is unlikely to occur in Moscow.
Hilarion said that a papal trip to Russia would be “impossible at the moment.”
Pope Francis began his latest international trip on Dec. 2 with a visit to the divided capital city of Nicosia in Cyprus.
The pope’s three days in neighboring Greece included meetings with political authorities, Orthodox leaders, the Catholic community, local Jesuits, and migrants on the island of Lesbos. He also celebrated Mass at a concert hall in the capital and met with young people in Athens before his return flight to the Vatican.
Speaking on the plane, Francis said it is not nice to see brothers fighting, noting that though there is division between Catholics and Orthodox Christians, they must journey toward unity.
“I am grateful to Ieronymos, to Chrysostomos, to all the patriarchs who have this desire to walk together in unity,” the pope said, referencing two Orthodox leaders he met on his trip.
In Nicosia, Pope Francis had a private meeting on Dec. 3 with Chrysostomos II, the Orthodox archbishop of Cyprus, followed by an encounter with the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus.
The Holy Synod is the highest authority of the Church of Cyprus, an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox Church.
Pope Francis also met privately with Ieronymos II, archbishop of Athens and All Greece, on Dec. 4, and with other bishops of the Greek Orthodox Church.
During the meeting, he apologized for the mistakes of Catholics, saying: “Shamefully, patriarch, — I acknowledge this for the Catholic Church — actions and decisions that had little or nothing to do with Jesus and the Gospel, but were instead marked by a thirst for advantage and power, gravely weakened our communion.”
Like Pope John Paul II’s visit to Greece in 2001, Francis’ trip was controversial in some corners of the Greek Orthodox Church. One Orthodox cleric protested against Francis, shouting, “Pope, you are a heretic!” at him outside of the patriarch’s residence.
On the papal plane, Pope Francis told journalists that theologians have to continue to study points of unity and division between the Catholic Church and Orthodox Churches. Meanwhile, others should “go forward together,” praying for Christian unity.
“The great Orthodox theologian [John] Zizioulas once jokingly said that ‘unity will be found in the Eschaton [the end of the world].’” Francis noted. “It’s a saying, but it doesn’t mean we have to stand still…”
Posted on 12/6/2021 15:00 PM (CNA Daily News)
Rome Newsroom, Dec 6, 2021 / 06:00 am (CNA).
St. Nicholas, whose feast day is celebrated on Dec. 6, is well known as possibly the real-life inspiration for the beloved Christmas character of Santa Claus.
Not a lot is known about the historical Nicholas, who was bishop of Myra, a Greek city in modern-day Turkey, during the 4th century AD.
But there are many stories and legends which explain his reputation as a just and upright man, charitable gift-giver, and miracle worker.
Here are five things to know and share about St. Nicholas:
1. Why St. Nicholas is the patron saint of children
Many people know that St. Nicholas is the patron saint of children, but they may not know why he has that title.
There is a grisly legend which says that during a famine in Myra, three young boys were lured into a butcher’s shop, where they were killed and then brined in a wooden barrel with the intention of being sold as “ham.”
The good bishop worked a miracle, bringing the pickled children back to life and saving them from a gruesome fate.
This story became the subject of many portrayals of Nicholas in art, especially during the Middle Ages. Some people believe depictions of Bishop Nicholas with the three boys led to his reputation as a protector of children.
The legend of the brining may explain how he also became, oddly, the patron saint of coopers and brewers.
2. St. Nicholas is one of the foremost saints in the Russian Orthodox Church
St. Nicholas is a unifying figure among Catholics and Orthodox Christians, since both groups venerate the saint.
But he is incredibly important in the Russian Orthodox Church, where he is known as St. Nicholas the Wonderworker for the many miracles attributed to him both during and after life.
To the Orthodox, Nicholas is principally honored for his qualities as a holy bishop and good shepherd of his people.
In their weekly liturgical cycle, which dedicates different days of the week to Jesus Christ and other saints, only three are specifically named: Mary, the Mother of God, John the Forerunner (known to Catholics as John the Baptist), and St. Nicholas.
Nicholas did not leave behind any theological writings, but when he was made a bishop, he is credited with saying, that “this dignity and this office demand different usage, in order that one should live no longer for oneself but for others.”
3. Jolly old St. Nicholas?
Because of his popularity among Orthodox Christians, St. Nicholas is a favorite subject in iconography.
4. Nicholas is also the patron saint of unmarried people, fishermen, pawnbrokers, and the falsely accused
One of the most popular legends about Nicholas is that the saint, who is said to have come from a wealthy family, secretly helped a poor man with three daughters.
The father could not provide proper dowries for the girls to marry, and without husbands to support them, they might have been forced to turn to prostitution.
Learning about the situation, Nicholas secretly slipped a bag of gold coins through the family’s window while they were sleeping. He later left a second bag of coins, and likewise, for the third daughter, at which point, the legend says, the father, who had waited up all night, “caught” Nicholas red-handed in his gift-giving. But Nicholas made him promise to keep the secret.
The story is likely the explanation for why the modern Christmas character of Santa Claus brings his gifts for children under the cover of night.
In St. Nicholas artworks referencing this legend, the three bags of coins are often depicted as three golden balls. Images of gold balls used to also mark the shops of pawnbrokers, which is probably how Nicholas came to be their patron saint too.
One of many miracles attributed to St. Nicholas happened at sea, as he traveled aboard a boat to the Holy Land. Nicholas is a patron saint of sailors and travelers because he calmed the stormy waters that threatened their lives.
His patronage of the falsely accused can be attributed to an early story about his rescue of three innocent men moments before their execution. It is said that St. Nicholas, then bishop of Myra, boldly pushed away the executioner’s sword, released the men from their chains, and angrily reprimanded a juror who had taken a bribe in order to find them guilty.
5. St. Nicholas has two feast days
Most people know that Nicholas’ feast day is celebrated on Dec. 6, the day he died in the year 343, but for East Slavs, as well as the people of Bari, Italy, May 9 is also an important day of celebration.
That date is the anniversary of the day that St. Nicholas’ relics were moved from Myra, in present-day Turkey, to Bari, not long after the Great Schism of Catholics and Orthodox in 1054 AD.
Accounts differ over whether the translation of the relics was theft or an attempt by Christian sailors to preserve the saint’s remains from destruction by the Turks. But whatever the real reason, the relics can still be venerated today in the Basilica of St. Nicholas in Bari.
Pope Francis visited Bari, in Italy’s southern region of Puglia, two times during his papacy. During both the 2018 and 2020 visits, he stopped in the basilica’s crypt to venerate St Nicholas’ relics.
The pontifical basilica is an important place of ecumenism, since the Catholic church welcomes many Eastern Catholics and Orthodox Christians to the pilgrimage site. In the crypt, where St. Nicholas is buried, there is also an altar for the celebration of Orthodox and Eastern Catholic liturgies.
For Christians who follow the Julian Calendar, as the Eastern Orthodox do, St. Nicholas’ principal feast day falls on Dec. 19. An Orthodox Divine Liturgy will be celebrated at the Basilica of St. Nicholas that morning.
On Dec. 6, Catholics in Bari will celebrate the beloved saint with Mass, concerts, and a procession of the saint’s statue through the city’s streets.
Posted on 12/6/2021 13:20 PM (CNA Daily News)
Athens, Greece, Dec 6, 2021 / 04:20 am (CNA).
Pope Francis urged young people in Athens on Monday not to be “prisoners of the cell phone,” but to truly share their lives with others.
Speaking in a school sports hall in a suburb of the Greek capital on Dec. 6, the pope said that helping others was “the way to bring about something truly new in history.”
“Many people today are constantly using social media, but are not themselves very social: they are caught up in themselves, prisoners of the cell phone in their hand,” he said, in his last address before departing for Rome at the end of a three-day visit to Greece.
“What appears on the screen is not the reality of other persons: their eyes, their breath, and their hands. The screen can easily become a mirror, where you think you are looking at the world, but in reality, you are all alone before a virtual world full of appearances, of photos dressed up to look always beautiful and acceptable.”
“Yet how beautiful it is simply to be together with other people, to discover the newness of others! Cultivate the mystique of togetherness, the joy of sharing, the enthusiasm of serving!”
The pope arrived in Greece on Dec. 3 after a two-day visit to Cyprus, an island in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. In a packed itinerary, he met Cypriot authorities, Orthodox bishops, local Catholics, and migrants, as well as celebrating Mass in the country’s largest stadium.
The 84-year-old pope’s three days in neighboring Greece included meetings with political authorities, Orthodox leaders, the Catholic community, local Jesuits, and migrants on the island of Lesbos. He also celebrated Mass at a concert hall in the capital.
Greece, officially known as the Hellenic Republic, is a predominantly Orthodox country of 10.7 million people, around 50,000 of whom are Catholic.
Seating on a dais at the end of a basketball court, the pope listened to the testimonies of three young people: Katerina Binibini, a young Filipina; Ioanna Vidali, from Tinos, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea; and Aboud Gabro, from Syria.
Katerina Binibini said that she struggled with doubt when confronted with people’s suffering.
“I have also had moments of anger and jealousy at seeing people who are not believers and who seem to have no pain or problems, while I, as a faithful Christian, feel constantly challenged,” she said. “Many times I think how unjust God is.”
But she said that the pandemic had helped her to accept setbacks and face life in a new way.
“I realized that in difficult times we are all equal and that we must convert our individualistic mentality to help others,” she said at the live-streamed event.
Ioanna Vidali, 26, spoke of how she strayed from her childhood faith while studying for university entrance exams. But her life changed after she saw “a Christ-like figure” in a dream.
“Since then, not only has my faith been strengthened, but I have also embraced the greatness of God’s love,” she said, adding that she now tried to share her faith by working with other young people.
Aboud Gabro, 18, described his family’s dramatic escape by boat from the war-torn city of Aleppo to Greece. He recalled what he said was the miraculous preservation of their lives when a device exploded when they were outside on their balcony. Later, a bomb struck his parents’ bedroom when they were inside, but they survived.
“After three attempts, we managed to land on the coast of hope. It was difficult to stay on a rock with no water and no food, waiting for dawn and for a coast guard ship to come and rescue us,” he said.
“We were full of joy when we arrived in Symi and then in Rhodes, where the inhabitants welcomed us with open arms, understanding our difficulties.”
In his homily, the pope addressed the questions raised by the three young people.
Picking up on Katerina’s admission of doubt, he said that Catholics should not be afraid of their uncertainties.
“On the contrary, doubts are ‘vitamins of faith’: they help strengthen faith and make it more robust. They enable faith to become more conscious, free, and mature,” he said.
But he warned young people against the temptation to despair when overwhelmed by their problems.
“That, my friends, is a temptation! A temptation to be rejected. The devil sows this doubt in our hearts in order to make us sad,” he said.
The way to overcome this temptation, he said, is to cultivate a daily sense of wonder.
He asked: “Do you know the starting point for all philosophy, but also for art, culture, and science? Do you know what it is? All that began with a spark, a realization, captured in the magnificent word: thaumàzein. It began with wonder, with amazement.”
He said that the same was true of faith.
“In the deepest sense, faith is not an idea or a system of morality, but a reality, a beautiful truth that does not depend on us and that leaves us amazed: we are God’s beloved children,” he said.
The pope stressed that God continued to love young people no matter what they think or do.
“If we stand before a mirror, we may not see ourselves the way we would like, because we are too concerned with the things we don’t like. But if we stand before God, the perspective changes,” he said.
“We cannot help but be amazed that, for all our sins and failings, for him, we are, and always will be, his beloved children.”
“So, instead of starting the day by looking in the mirror, why not open your bedroom window and focus on the beauty that you see all around you? Step outside yourself.”
The pope spoke about the Sirens, the Greek mythological creatures that lured sailors to their deaths by the beauty of their songs. He recalled that Odysseus resisted their allure by asking to be tied to his ship’s mast.
“Another ancient figure, Orpheus, teaches us a better way,” the pope said. “He sang a more beautiful melody than that of the sirens, and thus reduced them to silence. That is why it is important to cherish the wonder, the amazement, the beauty of faith!”
“We are Christians not out of duty, but out of beauty. And precisely because we want to cherish that beauty, we have to say no to anything that would mar it.”
The pope praised Ioanna for talking about the importance of other people.
“Helping others is not for losers, but for winners; it is the way to bring about something truly new in history,” he said.
“I am told that in Greek, the same word can mean ‘new’ and ‘young.’ Service is the newness of Jesus; service, dedication to others, is the newness that makes life ever youthful.”
“Don’t be satisfied with publishing a few posts or tweets. Don’t settle for virtual encounters, look for real ones, especially with those who need you: don’t look for visibility, but for the invisible. This is original, revolutionary.”
The pope described Aboud’s journey from Syria to Greece as “a true modern-day odyssey.”
“As for you,” he told the young people, “nourish the courage of hope. The kind of hope that you had, Aboud. How do you do this? By your choices, your decisions.”
“Choosing is a challenge. It involves facing the fear of the unknown, emerging from the chaos of uniformity, deciding to take your life in hand.”
“To make right choices, you should remember one thing: good decisions are always about others, not just about ourselves. Those are the decisions that are worth making, the dreams worth striving to accomplish, those that require courage and involve others.”
He concluded: “And as I take my leave of you, this is my wish for you: the courage to go forward, the courage to take risks, the courage not to remain in your armchair. The courage to take risks, to go towards others, never in isolation, always with others. And with this courage, each and every one of you will find yourself, find each other, and find the meaning of life.”
Posted on 12/6/2021 12:50 PM ()
In this video, we relive several highlights from Pope Francis' 6-day visit to Cyprus and Greece, during which he focused attention on ecumenical relations with Orthodox Christians and the plight of migrants and refugees.
Posted on 12/6/2021 12:48 PM (CNA Daily News)
Nairobi, Kenya, Dec 6, 2021 / 03:48 am (CNA).
At least 33 people, including children, were killed Saturday on their way to a wedding, in a tragic accident involving a bus falling into a river in southeastern Kenya.
More than 60 people were on the bus in the Diocese of Kitui Dec. 4, when the coach plunged into the Enziu River as it tried to cross a submerged bridge, ACI Africa, CNA’s African news partner reported.
Reports say that around 20 members of a Catholic parish's St. Cecilia Choir, two religious brothers, and several flower girls are among the dead, all of whom were supposed to be guests at a wedding at St. Joseph Nuu Parish in the Diocese of Kitui, a territory east of Nairobi, which serves over 230,000 Catholics.
The bus belonged to the St. Joseph Minor Seminary. In video footage reviewed by ACI Africa, the driver of the bus can be seen attempting to navigate the vehicle over a submerged bridge before it fell into the river.
Locals and multiple Kenyan agencies, including divers from the Kenya Navy, were part of the rescue operation, which managed to save around half of the passengers, according to local media reports.
Media also reported that the bus driver, Br. Stephen Kang’ethe, a member of the religious order the Brothers of St. Peter Claver, had waited two hours before deciding to attempt crossing the river. Kang’ethe and his fellow religious, Br. Kenneth Wanzala Okinda, have both been confirmed dead.
The wedding was a marriage convalidation for the brother of a Kitui priest, Father Benson Kityambyu, who lost 11 family members in the accident.
Two daughters and two grandchildren of the couple receiving the sacrament of matrimony were reportedly killed in the tragedy.
The bus was pulled from the river Dec. 5 by a crane.
The governor of Kenya’s Kitui County, Charity Kaluki Ngilu, wrote on social media, that “the ill-fated bus wreckage has been retrieved from the river bed and the process of ascertaining whether there are any more bodies still trapped in the wreckage or the river bed continues.”
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta led the nation in sharing his condolences to the bereaved families and wishing a quick recovery to those who were injured.
Posted on 12/6/2021 10:52 AM ()
In Damascus, the Sisters of Jesus and Mary help dozens of Christian families in difficulty. They were forced to flee the war and have taken refuge in the Syrian capital Damascus, where they live in extreme poverty and depend almost entirely on the support of the Church.
Posted on 12/6/2021 09:36 AM ()
Promoted by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, the initiative consists of five videos demonstrating the daily struggles of persons with disabilities who, far from feeling burdensome or "set aside", provide their own specific contribution within their ecclesial communities. Not without a smile... #IamChurch
Posted on 12/6/2021 09:29 AM ()
The conference promoted by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and other organizations is slated for 9 December. The event will gather experts to contribute to the global dialogue on new technologies in a post-Covid society in view of a better, more communal economic system.
Posted on 12/6/2021 08:00 AM ()
During the talk with journalists on board the flight bringing him back to Rome from Greece, Pope Francis spoke of the Apostolic Visit, of migrants, of fraternity with the Orthodox, and of the resignation of Archbishop Aupetit of Paris, a victim “of gossip.”