The Church Around the World

The Church Around the World

Influence of Vatican "gay lobby"

Pope Francis reportedly confirmed the existence of a "gay lobby" within the Roman Curia in a candid conversation with visiting religious.

During a meeting with representatives of the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious (CLAR), the Pope spoke frankly about the need for reform in the Church, particularly in the Vatican bureaucracy. A report on the Pope's remarks, furnished by a CLAR representative who spoke with the Pontiff, has appeared on a Chilean website.

The Pope's remarks, according to the CLAR correspondent, included an admission that "there is also a current of corruption" within the Roman Curia. "There is talk about a 'gay lobby', and it's true, that exists," the Pope continued.

The Vatican did not make public any account of the Pope's conversation with the CLAR group. Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said that because the meeting was private, it would be inappropriate for him to comment on the accuracy of the CLAR report.

Catholic World News

Book addresses "identity crisis" of fatherhood

Several prominent Catholic men offer advice in new book on how to respond to the modern uncertainty of what it means to a father and a man.

"There's a severe identity crisis in fatherhood, and in a related way, the concept of manhood," said Brian Caulfield, head of Knights of Columbus website "Fathers for Good".

Frequently in pop culture – especially in sitcoms on television – fathers are shown as clueless or out of touch and domineering, he said. When this is the only example of fatherhood and masculinity men have, that role almost becomes "a self-fulfilling cycle".

In the newly-released book Man to Man, Dad to Dad: Catholic Faith and Fatherhood (Pauline Press), Caulfield compiles advice for men with short entries from several contributors, including a cardinal, a marriage counsellor and a professor. The book addresses fatherhood by giving men tips and advice on topics such as discipline, family time, and a man's relationship with his wife.

One of the most important ways men can make sure they're engaged in family life is by avoiding what Caulfield called the "man cave" or the act of closing himself off from his wife or children.

"There can be a man cave in your heart and that's really where it starts where you're not totally open to life, where you're not totally open to your wife or you're not totally open to your children in giving yourself and in giving your time."

Although the book is directly aimed at Catholics, Caulfield said all men have a duty to adhere to virtue. However, because of a Catholic man's "sacramental" and "incarnational" view of life, they need to frequent the sacraments and engage in their faith.

Caulfield said the Daughters of St Paul approached him to compile a book after he pointed out that they had no books for sale when he stopped by their booth at a men's conference. What resulted was a compilation of essays, from experts in their own fields, that offers insight on different areas of concern for men and fathers.

Catholic News Agency

Catholics should live Faith "all in"

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia has called on Catholics to be "active witnesses" of their faith, taking inspiration from 17th century missionary Blessed Junipero Serra.

Rejecting the idea that the Faith is "a useful moral code" or "an exercise in nostalgia", he referred to it as "a restlessness, a consuming fire in the heart to experience the love of Jesus Christ and then share it with others – or it's nothing at all".

"Young or old, we need to live our faith as Junipero Serra did – all in, 100 percent, holding nothing back, with charity, endurance, passion and hope," Archbishop Chaput said. "That kind of faith changes lives and remakes the world."

The words "new evangelisation" are "overused and underthought," he said, warning against speaking of the "new evangelisation" in an empty way, "as if saying the slogan, or talking about it, actually makes mission work happen".

"Unless we reconfigure our lives to understanding and acting on it, the "new evangelisation" is just another pious intention – well meaning, but ultimately infertile," he warned.

The archbishop spoke on the Spanish island of Mallorca at a convention marking the 300th anniversary of the birth of Bl Junipero Serra. Serra was an influential Franciscan priest who founded many Christian missions in what is now California.

Archbishop Chaput called Serra "an extraordinary man" who lived at a "pivotal moment" in the history of the Catholic Church, when Catholic and Protestant powers competed for territory around the world.

Fr Serra left his life as a university professor in Mallorca at the age of 36 to serve in the New World. Working to bring the faith to the indigenous population of Mexico, Fr Serra walked thousands of miles during his lifetime despite a wounded leg that never healed. He built a network of missions and confronted military and political leaders who wanted to exploit American Indians.

In praising Fr Serra, the archbishop stressed the need for all Catholics to spread the faith, saying that "Jesus commands it. We can't call ourselves Christians and not be missionaries. We need to be active witnesses of our faith."

Evangelisation, he said, must begin with "our own repentance and conversion. As individuals, we control very little in life but we do control what we do with our hearts. We can at least make ourselves available to God as his agents. Personal conversion is the essential first step. It immediately affects the people around us," he explained.

Any new evangelisation must also begin with the "sober knowledge" that many once-Christian lands and many self-described Christians are "in fact pagan," the archbishop added.

Catholic News Agency

United against secularism: Pope

Christians and Jews can work together to challenge the contemporary problems of secularism and disrespect for the human person, Pope Francis told representatives of Judaism in a Vatican audience.

"Humanity needs our joint witness in favour of respect for the dignity of man and woman created in the image and likeness of God, and in favour of peace which is above all God's gift," the Pope told members of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations.

In his first meeting as Bishop of Rome with official representatives of Judaism, he noted the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate, on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions, as the Church's "key point of reference for relations with the Jewish people".

"In that Council text, the Church recognises that 'the beginnings of its faith and election are to be found in the patriarchs, Moses and prophets'," he stated.

Nostra Aetate, he said, has been the basis for "greater awareness and mutual understanding" between Jews and Catholics in the past 40 years, and reflected on the good relations he had with the Jewish community when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

"I had the joy of maintaining relations of sincere friendship with leaders of the Jewish world," Pope Francis remarked. "We talked often of our respective religious identities, the image of man found in the Scriptures, and how to keep an awareness of God alive in a world now secularised in many ways.

"I encourage you to follow this path trying, as you do so, to involve younger generations."


Jesuit to lead US bishops' doctrinal office

Father Peter Ryan, a Jesuit priest known for his defence of Church teaching, will be from August the executive director of the US Bishops' Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs.

The Secretariat of Doctrine and Canonical Affairs is responsible for executing directives of the US bishops' committee on doctrine, ensuring that work done by Catholic theologians in the country upholds Church teaching.

"Father Ryan's considerable expertise on bioethical issues is vital as contemporary society addresses moral challenges inherent in biotechnology, medical ethics and environmentalism," said Monsignor Ronny Jenkins, general secretary of the US bishops' conference.

Fr Ryan received his licentiate and doctorate in theology from the Gregorian University in Rome, and holds numerous degrees in English, divinity, philosophy and political science from colleges and universities in the US and Canada. Fr Ryan has lectured as a professor of moral theology and gained attention for a co-authored defence of the Church's prohibition of divorce and remarriage, supported by the Vatican.

He has also written on ethical and theological issues such as the Eucharist, and the moral status of embryos abandoned following in-vitro fertilisation.

Catholic News Agency

New York abortion bill defeated

The failure of a last-ditch hostile amendment to try to effect passage of the Abortion Expansion Act is a remarkable victory for unborn children, as well as vulnerable women and girls who so often face unrelenting societal and family pressure to abort.

Senate Republicans were steadfastly opposed to the bill – as were two pro-life Democrats who denied abortion proponents a majority in the Senate. Also worthy of note were the courageous and principled Republicans and Democrats in the Assembly who voted "no" despite it being a lost cause in that chamber.

The movement to pass this bill awoke a sleeping giant, a silent pro-life majority that had been discouraged and disheartened from living in the state with the highest abortion rate in the country. Facing the most radical expansion of abortion since the state legalised it in 1970, thousands of New Yorkers prayed, contacted their legislators and made repeat trips to be a pro-life presence at the Capitol.

New York State Catholic Conference

New Russian anti-blasphemy law

A new anti-blasphemy law that took effect in Russia on 1 July allows for fines up to 300,000 rubles (US$9,000) and imprisonment for up to two years for public acts that "manifest patent disrespect for society and are committed with the aim of offence to the religious feelings of believers." The penalties for offences are increased if the acts take place in houses of worship.

Human-rights activists have expressed concern about the new law, seeing potential for abuse, including the use of secular courts to resolve religious disputes. But Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, chief public-affairs official of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow, welcomed the legislation and suggested that the penalties may be "too mild."

Catholic World News

Vatican Bank's woes continue

The director-general of the Vatican Bank and his deputy have resigned, as pressure mounts for thorough reform of the bank formally known as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR).

Paolo Cipriani, director-general of IOR since 2007, has stepped down, as has his deputy, Massimo Tulli. The Vatican announced that the resignations had been accepted "in the best interests of the Institute and the Holy See." Ernst von Freyberg, the newly appointed president of IOR, issued a statement thanking Cipriani and Tulli for their years of service.

No accusations have been levelled against the outgoing director. But Cipriani's tenure at IOR has been tumultuous, with the Vatican Bank facing repeated complaints about a lack of transparency and lax supervision of financial transactions. In 2010 Cipriani, along with former IOR president Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, was questioned by Italian banking regulators in a probe into suspected money-laundering.

Cipriani's resignation came shortly after Italian police arrested a Vatican official, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, on charges of attempting to move €20 million (US$26 million) in cash into Italy. Although IOR was not directly involved in that alleged crime, and the accused cleric is not employed by the Vatican Bank, the arrest brought to light earlier charges that Msgr Scarano had laundered money through his personal account at IOR.

Pope Francis has indicated a determination to end scandals surrounding the Vatican Bank, recently appointing a special commission to study IOR and recommend an approach "to allow its better harmonisation with the mission of the universal Church."

Catholic World News

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