Category Archives: Vatican

Dom José Tolentino de Mendonça

Dom José Tolentino de Mendonça

Um homem ímpar e único na Igreja Católica.
Nunca vi uma ascensão tão rápida na Igreja, muito necessitada de uma renovação de linguagem.
É o segundo Cardeal mais jovem e será Cardeal Eleitor durante os próximos 27 anos.
Sou de opinião que Dom José Tolentino de Mendonça será um dia Papa.
Tenho disso uma visão fortíssima.
Talvez já não o próximo Papa por ser muito novo, porque não me parece que o Colégio Cardinalício queira eleger alguém que pode ser Papa durante 30 anos ou mais.
Mas perante as maquinações do Papa Emérito quem sabe…
Que vai ser Papa tenho a absoluta certeza.
É um homem multifacetado, um poeta, um Professor e se já sabia muitíssimo, agora com acesso ilimitado aos segredos mais importantes da Igreja, saberá seguramente muito, muitíssimo mais.
Aliás tenho a impressão, mas não verifiquei, que Portugal tem o maior numero de Cardeais de sempre na história, contando com os que já não são eleitores.
Ser convidado para orientar a semana de retiro anual do Papa e outros altos dignitários da Igreja é uma prova de confiança e um reconhecimento por parte do Papa importantíssimo.
E na minha opinião está a indica lo para seu sucessor na Chefia da Igreja.
Vai ser Papa.
No que dependa de mim seguramente o será.

Fancisco (Abouaf) de Curiel Marques Pereira

(Algemeiner) ‘People Are Ready to Die or Go to Jail in Order to Kill Jews Today,’ Warns Fr. Patrick Desbois, Pioneer of Catholic-Jewish Understanding


Father Patrick Desbois. Photo: Embassy of France.

“I will tell you a story,” volunteered Father Patrick Desbois, during a conversation with The Algemeiner on Thursday morning.”Twenty five years ago, I was in Poland, speaking to a high-level Catholic functionary, and he said to me, ‘Hitler made a mistake.’ I asked him what this mistake was, and he told me, ‘Hitler built Auschwitz.’ And why was that a mistake? He said, ‘because the Jews came back. They never came back when they were executed in the forests.’”

As brutal as that comment must have sounded, it made sense to Fr. Desbois. For the last fifteen years, the French Catholic priest — a former director of the French Bishops’ Committee for Catholic-Jewish Relations and now a professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Jewish Civilization — has devoted his life to identifying the mass graves of Jews murdered by Nazi mobile killing squads across occupied eastern Europe. What Desbois calls the “Holocaust by bullets” — the execution by shooting of up to 2 million victims of the Nazi extermination program — is also, he said, a “paradigm” for understanding the nature of antisemitic hatred today.

An individual that has studied the Holocaust in the depth that Desbois has doesn’t make such an observation lightly. “For me, the Holocaust by bullets was Pittsburgh every day,” Desbois remarked, in a reference to the Oct. 27 massacre of 11 Jews at the Tree of Life Synagogue. “As well, people are ready to die in order to kill Jews today. They are ready to die or to be in jail, they don’t care. They think they are super-heroes.”

That was certainly the case with Pittsburgh shooter Robert Bowers, who expressed satisfaction with his murder spree after being taken alive by police. As for dying oneself while in the act of killing Jews with bullets, Desbois noted that this option was chosen by Islamist shooters in his native France — Mohammed Merah, whose victims in Toulouse in March 2012 included a Jewish school principal and his two small children along with a third child, and Amedy Coulibaly, who executed four Jewish hostages during the Jan. 2015 siege at a kosher supermarket in Paris.

US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton met Brazil’s far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday to discuss regional…

Today’s “mass killers” have reached the same conclusion as the first generation of criminals behind the “Holocaust by bullets,” Desbois said.

“No camps, no barbed wire, no trains, nothing,” he continued. “The shooters are moving to kill people in their synagogues and in their streets. And then the public sees it as just one more shooting.”

What the public should see, Desbois argued, is a manifestation of an antisemitic ideology that inevitably leads to the committing of atrocities, whether in the USSR in 1941 or Pennsylvania in 2018. “I knew it before CNN said it,” Desbois commented, when asked about the global broadcaster’s worrying survey this week of antisemitic attitudes and Holocaust awareness in Europe. “It is a part of our life, and it’s not only in Europe. In most of the planet, a great many people will deny that there was a Holocaust, or they will call it a trick by the Jews to make money.” So concerned is Desbois about the “dark shadow” of contemporary Jew-hatred that the organization he launched to research the shooting executions of Jews during World War II — Yahad – In Unum — is now turning its attentions to hate crimes against Jews in western Europe in the present.

“For the last ten years in France, we have had Jews who have been killed, or harassed, or robbed, and so we want to develop our own investigation,” Desbois said. “Also, as an advocacy organization, we can explain that this is a criminal ideology. In my last book, I wrote about my full-time team of 29 researchers, how we discovered the mass graves of 1.4 million Jews, how we conducted more than 6,000 interviews. Through that work, we unmasked the process of the mass killing of the Jews – how it begins with propaganda and ends with murder.”

Desbois’ continued efforts to promote Holocaust education have therefore taken on an added urgency. Earlier this week, he accompanied 20 prominent members of the French Catholic clergy — among them the recently-appointed Archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit — on a visit to the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City. The visit gave the delegation an opportunity to understand that “what the Jews lost in Europe was not just six million of our people, but the civilization that these people represented – folk traditions, music, literature,” Jonathan Brent, YIVO’s Chief Executive Officer, told The Algemeinerfollowing Tuesday’s encounter.

Father Patrick Desbois in New York alongside YIVO CEO Jonathan Brent (l). Photo: YIVO.

“Our goal is to train leaders to be strong for tomorrow,” Desbois said, when asked about his twin focus on the Holocaust and contemporary antisemitism. That same perspective informs his energetic advocacy on behalf of the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq, who suffered a genocide at the hands of ISIS in 2014. In Desbois’ view, the assault on the Yazidis in many ways reflected the methods of the Nazis against the Jews. “It’s the same methodology, whether it’s an ISIS unit or an Einsatzgruppen (Nazi death squad) unit. They arrive at six o’clock in the morning, they leave in the evening, and everybody is either dead or enslaved.”

Desbois also accented those aspects of the Nazi slaughter of the Jews that made the Holocaust a unique mass atrocity. “The Nazis wanted to eliminate every last Jew, even the babies and the old people,” he said. Today’s antisemites, he continued, have adopted a similar strategy.

“They say to the Jews, ‘get out of France,’ ‘get out of Germany,’ ‘get out of Britain,’ ‘get out of Palestine,’” Desbois said. “And at the end, who will stay?”

Desbois offered sage advice to those combating the latest antisemitic wave, whether in Europe or in the US.

“Study your enemies,” he said. “Study what they did in ’42, ’43, ’44, study their crimes, and” – at this point Desbois let out a regretful chuckle – “don’t sleep.”


(Vanity Fair) When he retired, the ultra-conservative Pope Benedict XVI was expected to disappear from view, clearing the way for his liberal successor, Francis, to clean house in the notoriously corrupt Vatican. Instead, he stayed, setting the stage for a de-stabilizing brawl over morality, theology, and the Church’s horrific legacy of sexual abuse.

Pope Benedict XVI—in ruby-red loafers and cape—makes the first-ever state visit to the U.K. by a Pontiff, London, September 2010.
Photograph by Stefan Wermuth/Getty Images.

Over a plate of double-egged fettuccine and two bottles of Antinori Chianti at our usual trattoria in Rome’s old city, the Vatican monsignor is gossiping about the late Pope John Paul II: how he wore Penhaligon’s aftershave from Harrods of London; how, as a bishop in Poland, the future Pope camped out with his philosopher friend Anna-Teresa Tymieniecka. Now he’s showing me how John Paul mockingly gave a discreet Nazi salute toward the backs of a departing group of German bishops.

“When I raised my eyebrows disapprovingly at his antic,” says the monsignor, “he punched me hard on the arm. It hurt!”

He’s my Deep Throat, my Sotto Voce, purveyor of unattributable whispers in Vatican cloisters. A middle-echelon member of the Vatican bureaucracy, known as the Curia, he gestures smoothly with his wrists, showing off pure-white cuffs and gold links. “This place,” he says with a smile of self-conscious irony, “floats on a sea of bitchery!”

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Before long he’s bitching about Pope Francis: “He’s soft on the homosexuals, the lesbians, and the transsexuals. And how dare he criticize the Curia? . . . Accusing us of spiritual Alzheimer’s . . . just because his papacy is unraveling.” Sotto Voce is angry about the tongue-lashing Pope Francis gave the curial cardinals four years ago for the “serious disease” of gossip. The Pope had said, “Brothers, let us be on our guard against the terrorism of gossip.”

It stands to reason that Pope Francis would excoriate the gossip-mongers, for he is often the object of their sharp tongues. Today, the Catholic Church is riven by an internecine power contest between conservatives and liberals that rivals the battle of the angels in Milton’s epic Paradise Lost. Who are the powers of light? Who are the powers of darkness? It depends whose side you take in the onslaughts of texts, tweets, and blogs, as well as the trumpetings of the Catholic media. In the conservative National Catholic Register, the prominent Catholic writer Vittorio Messori accused Francis of creating a Church in which “everything is unstable and changeable.” In the liberal National Catholic Reporter,Catholic-studies scholar Nancy Enright observed that Pope Francis resembles “Jesus in conveying the gaze of mercy to millions in great need of it.”

What makes this prospect of a division within the Church more severe, and far riskier, than the usual bickering is the presence of two Popes, both resident in the Vatican, each with his own loyal and vociferous following. The liberals have Francis, but the conservatives have his predecessor, Benedict XVI. If Francis is the living, reigning Pope, Benedict is his shadow, the undead Pope emeritus.

In 2013, Benedict unexpectedly resigned his papacy. He was the first Pope to do so in nearly 600 years. Afterward, he did not, as many expected, depart for an obscure Bavarian monastery. He stayed put, still accepting the title “His Holiness,” still wearing the pectoral cross of the Bishop of Rome, still publishing, still massaging his record, still meeting cardinals, still making statements, still involved. His very existence provides encouragement to conservative critics who want to undermine Francis’s reign.

Take Matteo Salvini, the populist deputy prime minister of Italy and head of the right-wing Lega Party. Salvini has called for immigration control and the barring of illegal immigrants, and deplores Francis’s exhortations to welcome all refugees. Salvini, who is friendly with Steve Bannon and the anti-Francis cardinal Raymond Burke, has been photographed holding a T-shirt emblazoned with the phrase IL MIO PAPA È BENEDETTO (“My Pope is Benedict”) and an image of a desperate-looking Francis.

Pope Francis and ambassadors to the Holy See at the Sistine Chapel, January 2017.

Photograph from Vatican Pool/Getty Images.

The hostilities reached new heights last August, when Francis was visiting Ireland. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the formal papal nuncio to Washington, D.C., and a prominent conservative, issued a letter accusing Francis of turning a blind eye to sexual abuse and calling on him to resign as Pope. Viganò’s most serious charge is that Francis reversed sanctions that Benedict had placed on the American cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who has been accused of sexually abusing adult seminarians as well as an altar boy. (McCarrick denies this.) It took the Vatican six weeks to respond to the letter, though Viganò was sure Francis was talking about him when he asked Catholics to pray to Mary and St. Michael the Archangel to “protect the church from the devil, who is always looking to divide us from God and from one another.” By the time the Vatican issued a statement condemning Viganò’s allegations as “false,” “blasphemous,” “abhorrent,” and politically motivated, Francis’s popularity in the U.S. had dropped to 51 percent, 19 points below where it had been in January 2017.

It’s hard to blame Francis’s defenders for taking a skeptical view of conservative outrage over the papacy’s handling of sexual abuse. Francis has gone much further than John Paul II and Benedict ever did to acknowledge that the Catholic Church bears shameful responsibility for the sexual-abuse scandals that have erupted around the world in recent decades. Still, Francis’s instinct for empathy—and, perhaps, his hatred of gossip—has led him to make a series of unforced errors. In August, a Pennyslvania grand jury reported evidence of a widespread cover-up of sexual abuse by Church leaders, including Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, D.C. Francis responded by accepting Wuerl’s resignation, yes, but also praising Wuerl for his “nobility” and asking him to continue running his archdiocese until a replacement could be found. Earlier this year, Francis had rushed to the defense of Chilean bishops accused of covering up sexual abuse, only to reverse himself after a 2,300-page report he had commissioned painted an unmistakable picture of misconduct.

Disentangling this legacy of shame would be challenging enough for a Pope who wasn’tlooking over his shoulder at a predecessor.

To what can this two-Pope circumstance be compared? We are in the realms of archetypes and myth. Think King Lear, who gave all yet stayed to control, disastrously, or Hamlet’s Ghost. The mere presence of a former Pope has been enough to test the mettle and independence of Francis from day one.

Would the jolly John XXIII have initiated the reforming Second Vatican Council had Pius XII, his autocratic predecessor, been watching lugubriously from a neighboring window? And would John Paul II have shaken the rotting tree of the Soviet Union had the anguished, hesitant Paul VI, who had contemplated a Vatican accord with Moscow, been lurking at his elbow? Whatever the direction of the papacy, left or right, for better or for worse, it’s the unique, exclusive primacy of one Pope at a time that lends supreme authority and power to his office. Loyalty through thick and thin to the single living Supreme Pontiff is the open secret of Catholic unity.

Instead, the rift between Francis’s loyalists and Benedict’s insurgents threatens to provoke the biggest split in the Catholic Church since the 16th-century Reformation, when Martin Luther and other pious reformers led the Protestant revolt against the Vatican. As Diarmaid MacCulloch, professor of Church history at Oxford, tells me: “Two Popes is a recipe for schism.”

A key figure in the twin-Pope rivalry is a handsome archbishop, Georg Gänswein, known for his skiing, his tennis, and his sartorial bella figura. He is popularly known as “Gorgeous Georg.” He is Benedict’s secretary and caregiver, and lives with the Pope emeritus in a renovated, multi-room former convent behind a thick hedge and high fences in the gardens of Vatican City.

On the morning of September 11, 2018, Gänswein gave a talk in the library of Italy’s Chamber of Deputies before a gathering of policy wonks. He promoted Benedict’s vision for the Catholic Church. The occasion was the launch of the Italian-language edition of The Benedict Option, by Rod Dreher, a senior editor at The American Conservative magazine and a self-described “crunchy conservative.” In the book, Dreher praises the sixth-century monk St. Benedict for preserving Christian culture in remote monasteries throughout the Dark Ages. The clerical sexual-abuse crisis, Gänswein explained to the group, is the Church’s new Dark Age—the Catholic world’s 9/11.

Gänswein’s talk was interpreted, not least by Dreher himself, to mean that the savior of the current Dark Age is none other than Pope Emeritus Benedict.

Ever since his years as Catholicism’s chief doctrinal watchdog, starting in 1981, Benedict, then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, had advocated the formation of a smaller Church, cleansed of imperfections. The papal vision of Francis runs diametrically opposite. He espouses a big-tent church, merciful to sinners, hospitable to strangers, respectfully tolerant of other faiths. He seeks to encourage doubters, console the abused, and reconcile those excluded by their orientation. He has likened the Church to a “field hospital” for the sick and wounded in spirit.

Against the background of a Church at war with itself over clerical abuse, Gänswein has emerged as the promoter of Benedict’s alternative papal agenda. On May 20, 2016, he declared that Francis and Benedict together represent a single “expanded” papal office with one “active” member and one “contemplative” one. Francis rejected that notion out of hand, saying: “There is only one Pope.”

Since then, the Francis-Benedict relationship seems to have deteriorated. In July of 2017, Gänswein read a letter from Benedict at the funeral of conservative cardinal Joachim Meisner, the archbishop emeritus of Cologne. It contained a line that could be read as profoundly destabilizing to Francis’s pontificate. Benedict, via Gänswein, said that Meisner was convinced that the “Lord does not abandon His Church, even if the boat has taken on so much water as to be on the verge of capsizing.” The boat of the Church is a powerful, ancient metaphor. The living Pope is the captain of the bark of St. Peter. Benedict appeared to be saying, in other words, that the Church under the command of Pope Francis is sinking.

Pope-watchers noted that Meisner was one of four prominent cardinals who had raised theological doubts about Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”), a major pastoral letter written by Francis to the world and published in April 2016. The Pope had sought to encourage sympathy for divorced and re-married Catholics—who, according to Church teaching, are banned from receiving Communion. The four cardinals opposed any change in teaching. Given that some 28 percent of married American Catholics get divorced, and that many seek to re-marry, this means that a sizable proportion are “living in sin.” Francis has pleaded for a change that would bring these Catholics back into the fold. Benedict’s Cardinal Meisner letter could be taken as a sign that the Pope emeritus, too, disapproves of Francis’s liberalism.

The divorce-and-re-marrying issue is one of the most significant points of contention between Francis’s liberals and Benedict’s conservatives. After all, as conservatives point out, Jesus forbade divorce—it’s in the Gospels. A Catholic might seek a civil divorce, but the sin is in re-marrying and having sexual relations. The Church considers that adultery. The Catholic historian Richard Rex, professor of Reformation history at Cambridge, writing in the conservative journal First Things, condemned Francis’s plea for leniency with devastating succinctness: “Such a conclusion would definitively explode any pretension to moral authority on the part of the Church. A church which could be so wrong, for so long, on a matter so fundamental to human welfare and happiness could hardly lay claim to decency, let alone infallibility.”

Another crucial clash is over the causes of clerical sexual abuse. The conservatives declare that homosexuality is to blame. At the outset of his papacy, in 2005, Benedict ordered that gays should be banned from seminaries and the priesthood. Francis has a more tolerant view. When asked about homosexuality during an in-flight press conference in 2013, he famously said, “Who am I to judge?”

That many seminaries have accepted gay men is beyond doubt. The expert on priestly sexuality, the late A. W. Richard Sipe, was a psychotherapist, former priest, and definitive liberal. He was characterized mischievously in the movie Spotlight as “a hippie ex-priest who’s shacking up with a nun.” Sipe reckoned that only about 50 percent of American priests are celibate, that at least a third are gay, and that between 6 and 9 percent of priests are pedophiles.

My Sotto Voce would have me believe that Baltimore’s diocesan seminary, St. Mary’s, scurrilously known as “the Pink Palace,” was the biggest “gay bar” in the state of Maryland. In 2016, Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin stopped sending students to the country’s oldest seminary, St. Patrick’s, Maynooth, after allegations of sexual harassment. It was also reported that trainee priests were using the dating app Grindr to violate their vows of celibacy, and that seminarians who complained were getting kicked out.

I had a personal experience of abuse as a junior seminarian. When I was 17, I was invited by a priest we called Father Rainbow to receive the sacrament of confession—not in the dark confessional box but in the privacy of his room, sitting close together on easy chairs. He offered me a glass of Tia Maria liqueur and a Sweet Afton cigarette, and steered the conversation to the topic of masturbation. He asked if he could inspect my penis, and manipulate it, “just in case” it was malformed and unusually prone to erections. I left the room instantly, unshriven. He was later removed by the bishop—and installed as the chaplain of a prep school for even younger boys.

Nevertheless, there is no evidence to support the conservative view that homosexuality drives sexual abuse. Marie Keenan, author of the authoritative book Child Sexual Abuse & the Catholic Church, wrote that “the combination of data that are now emerging clearly points to the fact that sexual orientation has little or no bearing on sexual abuse of children or on victim selection.” Abusers have targeted both boys and girls, across a spectrum of childhood development: puberty, post-puberty, even infancy.

Liberals lay the blame for abuse within the Church on “clericalism,” a priestly culture that treats clergy as spiritually separate, elevated, entitled, and unaccountable. The process of clericalism, they say, starts in the seminaries, where trainee priests are cloistered off from the world and ultimately infantilized. Francis has said that because of poor training the Church risks creating “little monsters”—priests who are more concerned about their careers than with serving people.

Liberal Catholics want to end the celibacy rule that denies priests the right to marry. They deplore the absence of a woman priesthood. Clericalism, they say, encourages unequal-power relationships that lead to the sexual abuse of minors. When a priest errs, the tendency is to maintain secrecy and suppress any scandal that could further diminish his standing among the laity.

Pope Francis greets Pope Emeritus Benedict at Benedict’s new Vatican City residence, under the watchful eye of “Gorgeous Georg” Gänswein, December 23, 2013.

Photograph from Maurix/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images.

The irony of the traditionalists’ homophobia, according to the liberals, is that it’s often pedaled by closeted clerics whose animosity is impelled by denial and shame. Conservative Catholicism is associated, almost by definition, with old rituals, such as the Latin Mass and a fondness for traditional vestments. In Europe, liberal priests mockingly refer to the Roman collar as “the little préservatif” (French for “condom”) and the cassock as “the big préservatif.

Benedict, as Pope, went in for ruby-red slip-on loafers and red ermine-trimmed capes. Gorgeous Georg, also nicknamed “Bel Giorgio,” was the inspiration for Donatella Versace’s winter 2007–8 “clergyman” collection. Francis will have none of that. He wears modest black shoes and a white cassock that is said to be made of wool.

Benedict laid the ground for an involved retirement early on. In the early 1990s, John Paul II built a residence in the Vatican gardens, with a chapel attached, to house a community of 12 contemplative nuns who engaged in silent prayer to support his pontificate. Benedict, four months ahead of his resignation, and without signaling the purpose, ordered a renovation of the convent, now cleared of the nuns, to create a suitable Vatican retirement home, office, and chapel—with ample space for his live-in caregiver. People refer to it as a “monastery.” It is more like a palace.

In July 2012, moreover, he appointed the conservative bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller as the new head of the orthodoxy police, formally known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Benedict must have known, even at this point, that he was planning his resignation and therefore saddling his successor with a hard-line doctrinal watchdog who would be difficult to replace. (Francis replaced Müller last year.) In another striking pre-resignation maneuver, Benedict appointed Gänswein not only to be his personal secretary but also to remain as head of the papal household. This meant that Gänswein would run the new Pope’s apartments and offices in the Apostolic Palace, where Popes have resided and worked for hundreds of years. This would have positioned Gänswein to monitor the conversations and meetings of the new Pope. And since this was one of Benedict’s last big appointments before his resignation, it would be difficult for the new Pope to countermand it without seeming disrespectful.

Francis, in an apparent effort to outsmart Benedict and Gänswein, opted to live not in the papal apartments under Gänswein’s control but instead in Casa Santa Marta, a guesthouse for visiting clergy adjacent to St. Peter’s Basilica, where he has a modest apartment and a makeshift office. He allows Gänswein to arrange audiences in the papal apartments with grand figures like royalty and heads of state, but he eats in the self-service cafeteria and gets coffee from a coin-operated machine.

The unassuming lifestyle of Pope Francis, in contrast to the extravagance of some of his cardinals, is legendary. One can only imagine how he felt about the $500,000 that was diverted in 2014 from a Vatican-owned children’s hospital in order to renovate Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone’s 4,300-square-foot apartment and roof terrace in the Vatican. Or the $2.2 million mansion that American archbishop Wilton Gregory built for himself in Atlanta in 2014. (Gregory apologized and the home was later sold.) Or the $43 million in renovations undertaken in 2013 by the German bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, known as the Bishop of Bling. (Tebartz-van Elst resigned in 2014.)

On his election, in 1963, Paul VI penned a note about the unique state of papal solipsism: “This solitary feeling becomes complete and awesome . . . my duty is to plan: decide, assume every responsibility for guiding others, even when it seems illogical and perhaps absurd. And to suffer alone . . . Me and God.”

For Francis, the equation has been more complicated: Me, God, and Benedict. And the intrusion is made all the more painful by the fact that the two Popes couldn’t be more different.

As young men, Benedict and Francis made decisive moves in opposite directions. Both were exceptionally intelligent and rose rapidly within their chosen priestly spheres. Joseph Ratzinger was born in 1927 in Marktl am Inn, Bavaria, the son of a police officer. He was obliged to join the Hitler Youth at age 14, but did not attend meetings. He studied for the priesthood and was ordained in 1951. Academic from the outset, his theology was at first progressive. He became a professor at Tübingen University, where the rowdy student demonstrations of 1968 sparked an ideological conversion. He came to believe that youthful rejection of authority leads to chaos and that liberal ideas in the Church would result in religious decline.

In 1981, John Paul II appointed Ratzinger head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith—formerly called the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, and before that the Sacred Roman and Universal Inquisition—where he strived to hold the strict line of Catholic teaching. Both John Paul II and Ratzinger were intransigent on sexual morality, which John Paul referred to as “sexology.” Never mind that new generations of young Catholics were living together before marriage, practicing contraception, coming out as gays and lesbians, divorcing and re-marrying. The Pope and his doctrinal enforcer preached the sexual morality of former ages, refusing even to condone the use of condoms for African Catholics with H.I.V. Self-control was their disastrous recommendation. In 2013 alone, AIDS-related illnesses claimed the lives of 1.1 million people in sub-Saharan Africa—74 percent of the global total.


During his eight-year papacy, Benedict witnessed with mounting horror what he termed “the filth” in the Curia. Leaked documents exposed financial corruption, blackmail, and money-laundering schemes. News of a Vatican sex ring came to light. In March 2010, a 29-year-old choir member of St. Peter’s Basilica was fired for allegedly procuring male prostitutes, including a seminarian, for a papal gentleman-in-waiting.

In May 2012, Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi published a book titled His Holiness: The Secret Papers of Benedict XVI, which included revealing letters and memos to Pope Benedict, Gänswein, and others. The Apostolic Palace was exposed as a snake pit of envy, scheming, and infighting. There were details of the Pope’s personal finances, including attempted bribes for private papal audiences. In January 2013, Italy’s central bank suspended all bank payments inside Vatican City for the Church’s failure to follow “anti-money-laundering” regulations.

Benedict had commissioned a report on the state of the Curia by three trusted cardinals. It landed on his desk in December 2012, and his resignation followed two months later.

This was the state of affairs that Cardinal Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio inherited on March 13, 2013. When he first appeared on the Vatican balcony, he was wearing just his white cassock: he had declined to wear the traditional scarlet, ermine-trimmed cape, and wore the papal stole for only a few moments. He waved to the crowd and said a simple “Buona sera.” He then asked the throng to pray for him and to sleep well. Later, he went to the hotel where he had been staying to collect his bags and pay the bill. This was a new style of papacy, and the Curia would not like it.

Jorge Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires in 1936, the son of migrants from the Piedmont district of Northwest Italy. His grandmother had come off the boat in the heat of an Argentinean summer wearing a fur coat lined with the cash proceeds from the sale of the family’s Italian home and business. Jorge was a boy during the dictatorship of Juan Perón, a regime that bordered on fascism while regarding itself as socialist. After graduating technical school with a degree in chemistry, Jorge thought of studying medicine. But after a Damascus moment during the sacrament of confession, he entered the Jesuit novitiate, embarking on the 15-year training for the priesthood.

At age 36, he was appointed head of the Jesuits in Argentina. In a reversal of Benedict’s shift from progressive to conservative, Francis started out as a martinet, insisting on correct clerical dress and narrow traditionalist studies in Latin. The “dirty war,” in which the Argentinean government was pitched against dissidents and suspected subversives, changed him. Many priests were imprisoned and killed, and many of his parishioners disappeared. He has been accused of not doing enough to combat the regime, yet his defenders assert that he was living a double life, helping where he could in secret. He became known for his unconventional pastoral style, traveling by public transport, living simply, cooking for himself. He was close to the poor and marginalized. He was seen sitting on a bench counseling prostitutes in the red-light district at night. Asked to describe himself after his election as Pope, he said, “I am a sinner.”

Thanks to the opposing visions of the two Popes, Catholics face a choice between pursuing an ardent orthodoxy, of the kind advocated by Benedict, or accepting a kinder, more humanistic version of their religion, as preached by Francis. As the Catholic philosopher Charles Taylor has argued, religious conservatism carries the tendency of all fundamentalisms: to wound and self-harm. Religious liberalism carries the danger of relativism. The contrast between the two Popes’ spiritual approaches is demonstrated by Benedict’s chosen exemplar of clerical excellence: St. Jean Marie Vianney. A priest of the post-French Revolution era, Vianney scourged himself at night until blood ran down the walls. He slept with a rock for a pillow and lived on cold boiled potatoes. He turned his parish into a spiritual bootcamp, banning alcohol and dancing.

Francis’s favorite saint is St. Francis of Assisi, with his insistence on caring for the poor and living in harmony with all living creatures. Pope Francis has frequently preached against the destruction of the environment. He has respect, not mere tolerance, for other religions. At the foot-washing ceremony on the first Maundy Thursday Mass of his pontificate, in 2013, Francis included two Muslims and two women, to the horror of his critics.

At the time of his resignation, in 2013, Benedict cited his diminishing strength, but he showed, and continues to show, no sign of incapacity. In fact, at age 91, he looks remarkably spry. In The Last Testament, a 2016 book with journalist Peter Seewald, Benedict said that his doctor had cautioned him against making the long trip to attend World Youth Day in Rio in 2013—hardly a reason to take such a historically momentous step as vacating the papacy. In October 2017, Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, a close confidant of Benedict’s, said in an interview that the status “Pope emeritus” was an invention with no precedent. In recently leaked correspondence, Benedict responded testily to Brandmüller’s comments on November 9, 2017, writing that Popes had retired in the past, albeit rarely: “What were they afterward? Pope Emeritus? Or what else? . . . If you know of a better way, and believe that you can judge the one I choose, please tell me.”

Pope Benedict steps out of a car.

By Stefan Wermuth/Getty Images.

In a subsequent letter to Brandmüller, dated November 23 of that same year, Benedict writes of the “deep-seated pain” that his abdication caused for “many,” which he “can well understand.” So what must he feel now?

What led to Benedict’s resignation? What was he thinking?

I liken him to Thomas à Becket, the 12th-century Archbishop of Canterbury depicted in T. S. Eliot’s play Murder in the Cathedral, who encounters four temptations to be a martyr. Perhaps Benedict faced four temptations to resign. First, the temptation to avoid sudden death through overwork and anxiety. Second, to enjoy a brief period of well-earned retirement at age 85, petting his cat and tinkering on the piano. Third, to pass on the task of cleaning up the Vatican’s “filth” to a successor.

The fourth and final temptation is that of the sublime egotist. His recent predecessors, great men such as Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, and John Paul II, lie entombed in the vaults under St. Peter’s. None of them lived to see their successors, the judgments passed on their pontificates, who is in and who is out. Was Benedict tempted to resign by an overweening curiosity to witness what would happen after he had left the scene?

Benedict has witnessed Francis attempt to clean up the Vatican’s finances, making the Vatican Bank and its investments accountable. He has seen Francis implement reforms in the Vatican bureaucracy, shutting down whole departments. He would have read the harsh words Francis used in a 2017 Christmas address to the top members of the Vatican, accusing them of creating “cliques and plots,” which are “unbalanced and degenerate,” and of suffering from a “cancer that leads to a self-referential attitude.” Francis said that “reforming Rome is like cleaning the Sphinx of Egypt with a toothbrush.” Now Benedict sees Francis’s increasing isolation from the Curia, while fresh revelations of clerical sex-abuse scandals expand with no signs of abating.

Could he be thinking, The more they dislike him, the more they will love me?

The Times of London recently published a blurred image of Francis walking alone in the Vatican, unaccompanied by security or attendants. Catherine Pepinster, former editor of the authoritative international Catholic weekly The Tablet, declared in The Guardian that the image was symbolic of Francis’s isolation: “Here is a man struggling to find allies or support from the Catholic faithful in his stalled efforts to reform the church and failing attempts to tackle the abuse crisis.” Many liberals, already disappointed with Francis’s tepid treatment of errant priests, were further disillusioned by his recent comments comparing abortion to the act of “hiring a hit man.”

And then there is the question of money. Archbishop Paul Casimir Marcinkus, controversial head of the Vatican Bank for 18 years, once famously quipped, “You can’t run the Church on Hail Marys.” The Catholic treasury is vast but threatened by potential future crises. According to an investigation by the National Catholic Reporter, the U.S. Catholic Church has paid nearly $4 billion in costs related to clerical sex-abuse cases over the past 65 years. And as a result of the scandals, lost memberships and donations have amounted to a prodigious $2.3 billion a year over the past 30 years. By apologizing on behalf of the Church, and openly accepting responsibility for the abuse, Francis risks being sued along with the Vatican on an international scale.

Francis’s travails are severe enough that a few conservative Web sites have joined Archbishop Viganò in calling for him to step down. How could this be brought about?

One tactic would be to argue that Benedict had been unduly pressured to quit, which could make his resignation invalid by canon law, meaning that he is still Pope and Francis is a mere cardinal. Another might be to declare Francis an anti-Pope. Between the 3rd and 15th centuries, there were about 40 anti-Popes—rivals for the papacy who attracted followings without being recognized by Rome. For this stratagem to advance, a conservative group of cardinals and bishops would have to call a conclave and elect a new Pope. Unless Francis resigned voluntarily, there would be two Popes, and if Benedict was still alive, three. Schism would be inevitable.

A 21st-century schism could unleash chaos: litigation and perhaps even violence over money and property ownership, involving churches, schools, seminaries, and even colleges and universities.

Once released from doctrinal constraints, bishops in one liberal area might ordain women, while such priests would be unrecognized in another. Dissident bishops might deny Church teachings on contraception, divorce, abortion, and the supreme authority of the Pope. The great orders of the Church—monks, friars, and nuns—might splinter.

The saddest, most frightening aspect of a schism would be the consequences for clergy, sisterhoods, and the ordinary faithful. It’s easy to imagine splits within parishes and even families over the conservative-liberal divide: conflicts between parish priests and their curates, divided religious communities, parents and siblings taking sides, all aided and abetted by social media.

It is tempting to lay the blame for this impasse on Benedict, the rigid moralist and advocate for a smaller, purer Church. He is the one who resigned without leaving the scene, and he is the one whose very existence undermines Francis’s authority. But there is reason to believe that Francis has his own reasons for wanting to provoke a crisis.

From the very first days of his papacy, Francis has spoken in ways that suggest he is seeking, prompting, even urging on, a massive change within the authoritarian, dogmatic, stubbornly unchanging Church that has shown its bitter fruits in the thousands of abused young faithful across the Catholic world. A drastic purging of the obstinate entitlements, the secrecy, the unaccountability, the wealth, the self-satisfied traditionalism, could be the necessary condition of making a fresh start.

(Algemeiner) Act Against ‘Any Whiff’ of Resurgent Antisemitism, Pope Says


Pope Francis on Jan. 8, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Andrew Medichini / Pool.

Pope Francis paid tribute on Sunday to Jews killed by the Nazis and victims of murder and deportation by the Soviet KGB, in twin visits to memorials marking the darkest periods of Lithuania’s history.

On the 75th anniversary of the wartime liquidation of the Vilnius ghetto, Francis stopped to pray at a simple stone monument commemorating the 200,000 Lithuanian Jews killed either in the country or in Nazi concentration camps in Europe.

Minutes later, he paid an emotional visit to the nearby Museum of Occupations and Freedom Fights, a former KGB basement jail where Lithuanians who were considered enemies of the Soviet Union were either executed or tortured before being sent to labor camps in Siberia.

A somber-looking Francis prayed and lit a candle in a room whose walls were lined with pictures of Catholic priests and bishops either killed or tortured in the jail.

UK Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn slammed Britain’s former chief rabbi on Sunday, calling his comments on Labour’s and his…

He then entered the execution chamber where, according to the Genocide and Resistance Research Centre, more than 1,000 people were killed during the Soviet period. In at least one case, nearly 50 were killed in just one night.

“Your cry, O Lord, is echoed in the cry of the innocent who, in union with you, cry out to heaven,” Francis said in a prayer to a crowd outside that included several survivors in their 90s.

The jail, Francis said, evoked the “sorrow and bitterness, of abandonment and powerlessness, of cruelty and meaninglessness” that Lithuanians suffered “as a result of the unrestrained ambition that hardens and blinds the heart.”

After Lithuania broke from the Soviet Union in 1991, the remains of nearly 800 people executed in the jail were found in a mass grave in Vilnius.

“This was our nation’s Golgotha, a trial of our faith,” Bishop Sigitas Tamkevicius, 79, who was imprisoned there in 1983 before spending six years in Soviet labor camps and who accompanied the pope to the jail, told Reuters before the visit.

About 70,000 Lithuanians died at the hands of Soviets.

On Sunday morning in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second-largest city, Francis said society should be vigilant for “any whiff” of resurgent antiSemitism, calling for new generations to be taught the horrors of the Holocaust.

“The Jewish people suffered insults and cruel punishments,” Francis told a crowd of about 100,000 at an open-air Mass.

“Let us … ask the Lord to give us the gift of discernment to detect in time any seed of that pernicious attitude, any whiff of it that can taint the heart of generations that did not experience those times,” he said.

Reports of anti-Semitic acts have increased in Europe, coinciding with the rise of populist, right-wing parties in a number of countries.

(IT) Former top Vatican official calls on Pope to resign over abuse crisis

(ITPope dismissive on flight from Ireland to Rome of claims by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano
A former top Vatican official has accused Pope Francis of having known of allegations of sex abuse by a prominent US cardinal for five years before accepting his resignation.  Photograph: PA

A former top Vatican official has accused Pope Francis of having known of allegations of sex abuse by a prominent US cardinal for five years before accepting his resignation. Photograph: PA

A retired Vatican diplomat has called on Pope Francis to resign, claiming he was aware of abuse allegations against a prominent figure in the church hierarchy from 2013 but failed to take action.

There was a “conspiracy of silence not so dissimilar from the one that prevails in the Mafia”, said Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano (77), a former Vatican ambassador to the US.

The publication of the testament – which also contains a lengthy attack on homosexuality in the Catholic Church – is another sign of growing rancour and divisions within the Vatican and top levels of the church over Pope Francis’s papacy.

It came during the second day of the pope’s visit to Ireland, which has had a shadow cast over it by the ongoing abuse scandal.

In a highly-charged 11-page testament, Dr Vigano – who is known for his conservative views – claimed the pope knew Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, “was a corrupt man, [but] he covered for him to the bitter end”.

The former diplomat said he had an exchange with the pope in June 2013, three months after Pope Francis was elected, in which he told him there was a thick dossier on McCarrick.

According to Dr Vigano, the pope did not respond, and McCarrick continued in his role as a public emissary for the church. Dr Vigano named a string of cardinals and archbishops who he said also knew about the McCarrick claims. Last month, Pope Francis accepted McCarrick’s resignation as a cardinal after fresh claims he sexually abused an 11-year-old altar boy and seminary students. Pope Francis also ordered him to conduct “a life of prayer and penance” until accusations against him were examined in a church trial. McCarrick (88) has maintained that he is innocent.

Dr Vigano called for the pope to step down, saying: “In this extremely dramatic moment for the universal church, he must acknowledge his mistakes and, in keeping with the proclaimed principle of zero tolerance, Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example to cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them.” ,

Tonight on his return flight to Rome, Pope Francis was dismissive of Dr Vigano’s claims. He said “ I read the communiqué this morning.”

He advised the journalists present “to you and all of you who are interested, you read carefully that communiqué and you make your own judgment.

“I will not say a single word about this.”

The pope added: “I believe the communiqué speaks for itself. And you have the sufficient journalistic ability to make your conclusions. It’s an act of trust. When some time has passed and you have your conclusions, maybe I will speak.”

(ZH) Why Is A Top Vatican Official Hanging Out At Bilderberg?

(ZH) Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, will participate in this year’s Bilderberg Conference, taking place in Turin, Italy today through Sunday, according to the official guest list of 131 participants.

Parolin’s attendance marks the first time a high-ranking Vatical official has taken part in the conferences, and may have something to do with the “culture of encounter” encouraged by Pope Francis.

The Pope stressed while receiving the Charlemagne Price on May 6th that ”today we urgently need to engage all the members of society in building ‘a culture which privileges dialogue as a form of encounter’ and in creating ‘a means for building consensus and agreement while seeking the goal of a just, responsive and inclusive society.’”

Parolin took part in the World Economic Forum in Davos last year where he delivered a speech on pontifical diplomacy. His participation in the Bilderberg conference comes on the heels of the May resignation of 34 Chilean bishops over a pedophile priest scandal.

As we reported on Wednesday, while last year’s event in Chantilly, VA was focused on the Trump administration and “Why is populism growing?,” this year’s themes – most of which can be filed under “pleb management” include:

1. Populism in Europe

2. The inequality challenge

3. The future of work

4. Artificial intelligence

5. The U.S. before midterms

6. Free trade

7. U.S. world leadership

8. Russia

9. Quantum computing

10. Saudi Arabia and Iran

11. The “post-truth” world

12. Current events

In other words – why do Europeans care so much about their “borders, language and culture,” how to keep blaming Russia for said populism, what to do once AI and automation replace most jobs, and how to shape narratives in a “post-truth” world where nobody believes the MSM anymore.

And as we’ve been noting, Italy just took a major step towards populism after the country’s anti-immigrant League party formed a populist coalition with the 5-Star Party, while League leader Matteo Salvini stepped into his new job as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior last Friday – pledging to deport 500,000 illegal immigrants, eschew globalization, monitor mosques and reinvigorate the country’s Christian heritage.


The whole “post-truth” discussion will likely revolve around “fake news” – the label applied to whatever trending topics do not comport with their desired narrative – facilitated through alternative news platforms and social media.

Paul Joseph Watson of Infowars, per usual, provides a great take on the summit:

Although the mainstream media habitually dismisses Bilderberg as a mere “talking shop” with no actual power, there are innumerable examples of the group exerting its influence over world affairs.

In 2010, former NATO Secretary-General and Bilderberg member Willy Claes admitted that Bilderberg attendees are mandated to implement decisions that are formulated during the annual conference of power brokers. If this is the case, it would violate laws in numerous countries that forbid politicians from being influenced by foreign agents in secret.

In 2009, Bilderberg chairman Étienne Davignon even bragged about how the Euro single currency was a brainchild of the Bilderberg Group. –InfoWars

Founded in 1954, the secretive meeting has been held annually “to foster dialogue between Europe and North America,” according to its organizers.

Around 2/3 of attendees come from Europe with the rest hailing from North America. Around 25% come from politics and government, with the rest from other fields. It’s all very hush-hush of course.

“The conference is a forum for informal discussions about major issues facing the world. The meetings are held under the Chatham House Rule, which states that participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s) nor any other participant may be revealed.”

“[T]he participants are not bound by the conventions of their office or by pre-agreed positions,” the organizers state. “As such, they can take time to listen, reflect and gather insights. There is no desired outcome, no minutes are taken and no report is written. Furthermore, no resolutions are proposed, no votes are taken, and no policy statements are issued.”

In other words – an orgy of side-deals and master plans…

And if you still think this is all conspiracy theorist craziness and that in fact these elites are meeting to discuss what’s in your best interest; simply listen to what a 39-year member of the Steering Committee had to say about one of their main goals.

Although members do not as a rule discuss what goes on within its conferences, Labour MP and onetime party deputy leader Denis Healey, a member of the steering committee for more than 30 years, did offer a clear statement of its intentions when quizzed by journalist Jon Ronson for his book Them in 2001.

“To say we were striving for a one-world government is exaggerated, but not wholly unfair,” he said.

“Those of us in Bilderberg felt we couldn’t go on forever fighting one another for nothing and killing people and rendering millions homeless. So we felt that a single community throughout the world would be a good thing.” 

– Source

And now the Vatican is involved…

(Economist) The Vatican’s secretary of state visits Moscow for the first time in 19 years

(Economist) The ostensibly friendly encounter masked deeper political divisions.

CARDINAL Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, has just made a four-day trip to Russia. It was the first time in 19 years that a holder of that powerful office, sometimes described as “prime minister” of the Holy See, had visited Moscow.

On the face of things, the atmosphere during his visit looked remarkably warm. At least before the cameras, the cardinal’s exchanges with Russia’s political and religious leadership were much more cordial than, say, the recent, manifestly frosty encounter between Pope Francis and President Donald Trump.

President Vladimir Putin said he valued the “trusting and constructive dialogue” between his country and the Vatican.  After a long meeting, Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov told the visitor that “our positions are close” on many issues. Discussions ranged from the need to protect Middle Eastern Christians from terrorism to “strengthening social justice and the family.” Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox church, hailed the visit as a sign of progress in “inter-church relationships”, building on his landmark meeting with the pope in Havana last year.

The Patriarch noted that the happiest recent event in Catholic-Russian Orthodox ties was this summer’s loan to Moscow of the remains of Saint Nicholas, normally kept in an Italian cathedral. More than 2m Russians had queued for hours to venerate the relics. The remains of Saint Nicholas, an early Christian bishop known as Santa Claus in the West, had done more to help the relationship, in the Russian prelate’s view, than any amount of religious or secular diplomacy.

In truth, Saint Nick has plenty more work to do. For several reasons, none of this week’s bonhomie points to a definitive breakthrough in relations between the Holy See and Moscow. Some are obvious: for example, the ongoing denominational standoff in Ukraine, which to some extent mirrors the country’s military and political fault-lines. The country’s religious spectrum ranges from eastern-rite Catholics who see their country as the victim of a Russian invasion to the extensively organised Ukrainian Orthodox church whose ultimate spiritual loyalty is to Patriarch Kirill.

Both the Patriarch (who insists that the war in Ukraine is “internal”) and representatives of the Vatican have trodden quite carefully in their recent public comments on the Ukrainian crisis. But as Cardinal Parolin pointed out, the leadership of the Russian Orthodox church regards the very existence of the eastern-rite Catholics in Ukraine as an “obstacle”.

A less obvious constraint is the existence of a powerful faction of theological purists within the ranks of Russian Orthodoxy for whom any warming of relations with the Vatican is a spiritual sellout. Soon after the Havana encounter, the influential Bishop Tikhon Shevkhunov, who is personally close to Mr Putin, seemed to place himself at the head of an “anti-ecumenist” faction when he spoke in a homily of the “serious confusion” that many people had felt on observing the Havana encounter. Although he stopped short of saying the Havana meeting shouldn’t have happened, Tikhon recalled the saying of a revered Russian bishop of the early 20th century that “Catholics are not even a church and as a result not even Christian.”  The very fact that both President Putin and Patriarch Kirill used the word “church” this week when referring to Roman Catholicism will doubtless upset some purists.

Russia’s leadership are pulled in two different directions regarding relations with Rome. On the one hand, it is expedient for Russia to have a more or less friendly diplomatic interlocutor in the Western world at a time when it is under sanction from just about every other Western authority. On the other hand, upholding the doctrinal purity of eastern Christianity against all comers (in practice, against the Catholics) has been one the country’s raisons d’être since the 16th century, at least in the eyes of Russian nationalists.

(OBS) Fátima: Papa Francisco chega hoje. Saiba todos os passos do seu percurso

(OBS) O Papa Francisco chega esta sexta-feira à tarde a Portugal para uma visita apostólica ao Santuário de Fátima, no âmbito do Centenário das Aparições, e durante a qual irá canonizar os pastorinhos.

O avião que transporta Francisco de Roma deve aterrar na Base Aérea de Monte Real às 16h20

O Papa Francisco chega esta sexta-feira à tarde a Portugal para uma visita apostólica ao Santuário de Fátima, no âmbito do Centenário das Aparições, e durante a qual canonizará os pastorinhos Jacinta e Francisco Marto.

O avião que transporta Francisco de Roma deve aterrar na Base Aérea de Monte Real às 16h20, onde terá a aguardá-lo o Presidente da República, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, o primeiro-ministro, António Costa, e o presidente da Assembleia da República, Ferro Rodrigues, além do Núncio Apostólico, Rino Passigato, do presidente da Conferência Episcopal Portuguesa, Manuel Clemente, e do bispo de Leiria-Fátima, António Marto.

Depois de visitar a capela da Base Aérea e de um encontro com o Presidente da República, o Papa desloca-se de helicóptero para Fátima, onde fará o percurso entre o estádio de futebol e o Santuário de papamóvel. A Capelinha das Aparições será a primeira paragem do “peregrino” Francisco, onde oferecerá a Rosa de Ouro ao templo mariano. Será a terceira vez que o Santuário da Cova da Iria receberá esta distinção do Vaticano.

Na capelinha, o Pontífice vai invocar a “Senhora da veste branca” e recordar que, há 100 anos, esta mostrou em Fátima os “desígnios da Misericórdia” de Deus.

Francisco vai ainda referir-se aos “bem-aventurados Francisco e Jacinta”, os dois pastorinhos que irá canonizar no sábado. “Seremos, na alegria do Evangelho, a Igreja vestida de branco, da alvura branqueada no sangue do Cordeiro derramado ainda em todas as guerras que destroem o mundo em que vivemos”, dirá o Papa.

Após este momento, o Papa recolhe à Casa Carmo, de onde voltará a sair para a bênção das velas e recitação do terço às 21h30. Pouco depois das 22h00, Francisco regressa aos aposentos onde vai pernoitar, cabendo ao Secretário do Vaticano, Pietro Parolin, presidir à eucaristia que se seguirá.

Uma vasta operação de segurança está montada em torno desta visita, com milhares de operacionais envolvidos nas várias vertentes. Em Fátima, as questões relacionadas com a segurança são visíveis, desde logo nas restrições à circulação automóvel, bem como à colocação de barreiras de betão em diversos locais da cidade.

O santuário admite que para esta peregrinação de Francisco estejam em Fátima mais de um milhão de pessoas. Francisco é o quatro papa a visitar Portugal, depois de Paulo VI (1967), João Paulo II (1982, 1991 e 2000) e Bento XVI (2010).

(AP) Francisco canonizará a los hermanos de Fátima el 13 de mayo

(AP) El papa Francisco confirmó el jueves que aprovechará su próxima visita al santuario de Fátima, en Portugal, para canonizar a dos niños pastores que dijeron ver a la Virgen María hace 100 años.

El pontífice argentino convocó a sus cardenales el jueves para fijar formalmente el 13 de mayo como fecha para la misa de canonización.

Francisco tenía previsto viajar a Fátima el 12 y 13 de mayo para celebrar el aniversario de las apariciones, que convirtieron a la pequeña localidad lusa en uno de los centros de peregrinación más populares del catolicismo.

Pero el mes pasado, Francisco validó el milagro necesario para convertir en santos a los hermanos Francisca y Jacinta Marto. La decisión provocando especulaciones de que podría emplear la visita para canonizarlos.

(OBS) O cristianismo arrancado pelas raízes – Rui Ramos

(OBS) As elites europeias, com o seu desinteresse pelo destino da cristandade oriental, admitem que o multiculturalismo está condenado no Médio Oriente. Porque pensam então que terá futuro na Europa?

No passado Dia de Ramos, os jihadistas mataram 45 cristãos no Egipto. Legitimamente horrorizados pelos atropelamentos na Europa, esquecemos que a maior parte das brutalidades do fundamentalismo islâmico se exerce fora da Europa, sobretudo no Médio Oriente. Os alvos são as comunidades religiosas condenadas pelo Islão sunita, como os muçulmanos xiitas e, claro, os cristãos (os judeus já foram, na sua maioria, empurrados para Israel). A perseguição e o massacre das comunidades cristãs do Médio Oriente e do norte de África é uma das grandes tragédias do nosso tempo. A Europa, no entanto, parece indiferente ou pelo menos evita reconhecer um caso específico. Talvez valha a pena reflectir nisso hoje, Sexta-Feira Santa.

Há quem atribua a indiferença dos governos ocidentais a cautelas estratégicas (evitar marcar as comunidades cristãs com uma solidariedade comprometedora, por exemplo). Mas talvez haja outras dificuldade, como a errada assimilação entre o Médio Oriente e o Islão, que fará alguns encarar o desaparecimento do cristianismo na região como algo de inevitável. Acontece que os cristãos do Médio Oriente, que representam a mais antiga das cristandades, não estão a extinguir-se “naturalmente”. No princípio do século XX, apesar de séculos de discriminação e repressão islâmica, cerca de um quinto das populações do Médio Oriente ainda eram cristãs. No Egipto e na Síria de hoje, aliás, continuam a ser 10%. É essa heterogeneidade cultural e étnica que está a ser eliminada por repetidos apelos à jihad, como o que os Otomanos lançaram durante a I Guerra Mundial. Os cristãos foram as suas principais vítimas. Primeiro, houve o genocídio dos cristãos arménios (1,5 milhões de mortos?) e assírios. Depois, a matança e a expulsão dos cristãos gregos (700 000 mortos e 1 milhão de refugiados?). Os jihadistas de hoje propõem-se completar essa limpeza pelos mesmos métodos.

No século XIX, as potências europeias ainda protegeram os cristãos sob domínio islâmico no Médio Oriente. Depois da I Guerra Mundial, quando exerceram mandatos na região em nome da Sociedade das Nações, desenharam um Estado para os cristãos, o Líbano. Acabaria subvertido pela demografia e pela violência sectária (os cristãos, que eram a maioria, são hoje a minoria). No Médio Oriente, resta hoje aos cristãos esperar a benevolência de algum ditador militar interessado em dividir para reinar, ou convencido de que uma minoria perseguida, à mercê do poder, será sempre mais leal. Por isso, na Síria estão com Assad, e no Egipto com Al-Sisi. Mas por isso também, os jihadistas os atacam especialmente, para deslegitimarem os poderes estabelecidos como protectores do cristianismo.

É verdade que o Islão é diverso e não tem uma história de maior intolerância do que outras religiões ou ideologias seculares (na Birmânia, são os budistas que perseguem violentamente os muçulmanos). Também é verdade que o maior confronto religioso no Médio Oriente passa por dentro do Islão (sunitas contra xiitas). O ponto aqui é que a religião, sobretudo depois do fracasso dos nacionalismos árabe e turco, é hoje o fundamento identitário principal no Médio Oriente. Essa é a segunda dificuldade das elites europeias, profundamente secularizadas, perante o martírio dos cristãos orientais: não conseguem levar a sério a religião como identidade cultural e base de uma comunidade. Ao Islão, ainda respeitam, como relíquia terceiro-mundista, com cuja salvaguarda tentam expiar velhas culpas coloniais; mas não ao cristianismo, que na Europa julgam ter substituído de vez, enquanto razão de pertença e de lealdade, pela nação ou pela lei secular. No Médio Oriente, porém, a religião é a cultura, é a comunidade, é até a lei. No fundo, as elites europeias, com o seu desinteresse pelo destino da cristandade oriental, estão a admitir que o multiculturalismo está condenado no Médio Oriente. Porque pensam então que terá futuro na Europa?

(JN) Patriarca de Lisboa admirado com resultados da geringonça

(JNEm entrevista à Renascença, D. Manuel Clemente elogia a diminuição do défice e do desemprego, assim como o ambiente de menor crispação que “ajuda a resolver os problemas de outra maneira”.

Patriarca de Lisboa admirado com resultados da geringonça

O Governo liderado pelo PS e apoiado pelos restantes partidos da esquerda no Parlamento está a ter um comportamento “positivamente surpreendente”. Quem o confessa é o Patriarca de Lisboa, que destaca “alguns sinais de recuperação económica”, ainda que lembre que tem de haver “sustentabilidade” neste processo.

“Baixar o desemprego é bom; diminuir a tensão social, a crispação, é bom; haver resultados – uns são de agora, outros foram preparados antes – no campo do ensino, é bom; haver óptimas perspectivas para actividades como o turismo, é bom. Há aqui coisas boas, há alguns sinais de recuperação económica”, resumiu D. Manuel Clemente, nomeado em Maio de 2013.

Em entrevista à Renascença, o antigo bispo do Porto sublinhou também o clima de menor crispação no país, que “ajuda a resolver os problemas de outra maneira”. “Oxalá que esta descrispação [sic] também funcione quando há debates parlamentares ou outros, que as pessoas também se ouçam com mais calma. Há muitas coisas ainda por responder, ainda complicadas e graves”, acrescentou.

O patriarca de Lisboa, D. Manuel Clemente, foi investido cardeal a 15 de Fevereiro de 2015 numa cerimónia na Basílica de São Pedro, no Vaticano, presidida pelo Papa Francisco. Desde então passou a colaborar mais directamente com o Papa e também poderá participar em futuras escolhas do líder da Igreja Católica.

(OBS) Igreja Católica acusa Supremo Tribunal de Justiça de levar a Venezuela ao “precipício de uma ditadura”

(OBS) A Igreja Católica venezuelana acusou o Supremo Tribunal de Justiça de levar o país ao “precipício de uma ditadura” ao ordenar ao Presidente Nicolás Maduro que limite a imunidade parlamentar.

A Igreja Católica venezuelana acusou o Supremo Tribunal de Justiça (STJ) da Venezuela de levar o país ao “precipício de uma ditadura” ao ordenar ao Presidente Nicolás Maduro que limite a imunidade parlamentar.

“A crise do país agrava-se a cada dia, como consequência de um sistema totalitário que nos leva a esse precipício que é a ditadura, porque simplesmente não se quer reconhecer onde está a soberania, que reside no povo que elegeu uma Assembleia Nacional”, disse o cardeal Baltazar Porras aos jornalistas.

Segundo o cardeal, a decisão do STJ é “anti-constitucional” e o Supremo Tribunal venezuelano pretende fazer desaparecer o parlamento eleito pelo povo e isso “é negar a base fundamental da democracia”.

Por outro lado, Baltazar Porras, referiu-se à eventual ativação da Carta Democrática da Organização de Estados Americanos, queixou-se da atuação da representação venezuelana naquele organismo, manifestando tristeza, pelo uso permanentemente “do insulto e da grosseria, porque o que se quer fazer valer é a razão da Venezuela”.

O cardeal chamou a atenção que o povo venezuelano está a pedir o que está na Constituição, que são eleições, que estão a ser adiadas de maneira inconstitucional e arbitrária, o que se constitui “numa parte do problema e da grave crise” no país.

Baltazar Porras defendeu a proposta opositora de convocar uma Assembleia Nacional Constituinte, insistindo, no entanto, que a prioridade são as eleições regionais que deveriam ter ocorrido em dezembro passado.

Na terça-feira, o STJ ordenou ao Presidente Nicolás Maduro que defina limites para a imunidade parlamentar, face ao que considerou serem “ações que atentam contra a independência e soberania nacional”.

Trata-se de uma decisão que é vista como uma concessão de poderes “exorbitantes” ao Presidente da Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, para criminalizar a oposição e que, segundo vários juristas, na prática, já eliminou a imunidade dos parlamentares e vai acabar com o parlamento.

Segundo o STJ, a decisão corresponde a um recurso interposto contra o “acordo sobre a reativação do processo de aplicação da Carta Interamericana da Organização de Estados Americanos como mecanismo para a resolução pacífica de conflitos e para restituir a ordem constitucional na Venezuela”, aprovado pela maioria parlamentar, da oposição, no passado dia 21.

O documento precisa ainda que, “no quadro do estado de exceção (económica em vigor no país) e perante o desacato e omissão legislativa continuada de parte da Assembleia Nacional”, o chefe de Estado deve rever, a título excecional, legislação como a Lei Orgânica contra a Criminalidade Organizada e o Financiamento do Terrorismo, a Lei Contra a Corrupção, o Código Penal, o Código Orgânico Processual Penal e o Código de Justiça Militar.

O objetivo, segundo a sentença do STJ, é “conjurar os graves riscos que ameaçam a estabilidade democrática, a convivência pacífica e os direitos dos venezuelanos, tudo em conformidade com a letra e o espírito da Lei Orgânica sobre os Estados de Exceção, em vigor”.

(El País) Pope Francis: “The danger is that in times of crisis we look for a savior”

(El País) On Donald Trump, the Pontiff says: “Let’s see what he does, we can’t be prophets of doom”.

On Friday, just as Donald Trump was being sworn into office in Washington DC, Pope Francis was granting EL PAÍS a long interview at the Vatican, during which he called for prudence in the face of widespread alarm over the new US president.

For an hour and 15 minutes, inside a modest room in Casa de Santa Marta, where he lives, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who was born in Buenos Aires 80 years ago and is on his way to completing his fourth year as Pontiff, explained that “in the Church there are saints and sinners, decent men and corrupt men,” but that what worries him the most is “a Church that has been anesthetized by mundanity,” one that is far removed from the problems of the people.

The hallmark of the Church is its proximity to people. We all are the Church

Francis showed himself to be up to speed not just on what is happening within the Vatican, but also in the southern border of Spain or in the tough neighborhoods of Rome. He says that he would love to travel to China – “as soon as they send an invitation” – and that, even though he sometimes “slips up,” his only revolution is the Evangelical one.

The drama of the refugee crisis has affected him greatly – “that man cried and cried on my shoulder, with the life-jacket in his hand, because he hadn’t managed to rescue a four-year-old girl” – as much as the visits he has made to women who were sold into slavery by prostitution mafias in Italy. He still does not know whether he will die as pope or will opt for the open road of Benedict XVI. He admits that sometimes he has felt used by his Argentinean countrymen, and he calls on Spaniards to do something that looks easy but is not: “Talk to one another.”

Question. Your Holiness, after nearly four years in the Vatican, what is left of the street priest that came from Buenos Aires to Rome with the return ticket in his pocket?

Answer. He is still a street priest. Because, as soon as I can, I still go out on the streets to greet people at the general audiences, or when I am traveling… my character has not changed. I’m not saying that is a deliberate thing: it has been a natural process. It is not true that you have to change once you get here. To change is unnatural. To change at 76 is tantamount to putting on makeup. Perhaps I cannot do everything I want, but my street soul is alive, and you can see it.

Q. In the last days of his papacy, Benedict XVI said about his last years at the helm of the Catholic Church: “The waters ran troubled and God seemed asleep”. Have you felt that loneliness too? Was the Church hierarchy asleep with regard to people’s problems, both new and old?

A. Within the Church hierarchy, or among the Catholic Church’s pastoral agents (bishops, priests, nuns, laymen), I am more afraid of those who are anesthetized than of those who are asleep. I am talking about those who are anesthetized by mundane affairs. They sell out to mundaneness. That is what worries me. Everything is seemingly calm, everything is apparently quiet, everything is going right…that is too much order. When you read the Acts of the Apostles, Saint Paul’s epistles, it was a mess, there were troubles, people were on the move. There was movement and there was contact with people. An anesthetized person is not in touch with people. He protects himself against reality. He is anesthetized. Nowadays there are so many ways of anesthetizing oneself against daily life, aren’t there? Maybe the most dangerous illness for a pastor is the one produced by anesthetics, and that is clericalism. I am over here and the people are over there. But you are those people’s pastor! If you don’t take care of those people, if you give up on taking care of those people, then you should pack your bags and retire.

Q. Is there a part of the Catholic Church that is anesthetized?

A. It is a risk that we all run. It is a danger, it is seriously tempting. Being anesthetized is easier.

Q. It is a better life, a more comfortable life.

A. That is why, rather than those who are asleep, I worry about those who are anesthetized as a result of that mundane spirit. A spiritual mundanity. I am always struck by the fact that Jesus Christ, during the last supper, when he prays to his Father on behalf of his disciples, he does not ask “Keep from breaking the Fifth Commandment, keep them from killing, from breaking the Seventh Commandment, keep them from stealing”. No, he says: “Keep them from the evils of the world, keep them from the world”. A mundane spirit has a numbing effect. When that happens, the pastor becomes a civil servant. And that is clericalism, which is the worst evil that may be afflicting today’s Church.

Q. The troubles that Benedict XVI faced towards the end of his papacy, and which were contained inside that white box that he gave you in Castel Gandolfo, what are they?

A. A very normal sample of daily life within the Church: saints and sinners, honest people and crooked people. Everything was in there! There were people who had been questioned and were clean, there were workers… Because here, inside the Curia, there are some true saints. I like to say it. We talk too easily about the level of corruption in the Curia. And there are corrupt people. But there are also many saints. Men who have spent all their lives serving people anonymously, behind a desk, or in conversation, or in a study…Herein there are saints and sinners. That day, what struck me the most was holy Benedict’s memory. He said: “Look, here are the records of the proceedings, inside the box”.  “And here is the sentencing of all the individuals. So-and-so, he got that much”. He remembered everything! What an extraordinary memory. And he still retains it.

Q. Does he feel all right, health-wise?

A. His head is fine. His problem are the legs. He needs help to walk. He has an elephant’s memory, even in nuances. I may say something and he goes: “No, it wasn’t that year, it was that other year.”

Q. What are your main concerns with regard to the Church and the world in general?

A. With regard to the Church, I would say that I hope that it never stops being close to people. A Church that is not close to people is not a Church. It’s a good NGO. Or a pious organization made up of good people who meet for tea and charity work… The hallmark of the Church is its proximity. We are all the Church. Therefore, the problem we should avoid is breaking that closeness. Being close is touching, touching Christ in the flesh and blood through your neighbor. When Jesus tells us how are we going to be judged, in Matthew chapter 25, he always talks about reaching out to your neighbor: I was hungry, I was in prison, I was sick… Always being close to the needs of your neighbor. Which is not just charity. It is much more.

Hitler didn’t steal power, his people voted for him, and then he destroyed his people

As for what worries me about the world, it is war. We already have a World War III in little bits and pieces. Lately there is talk of a possible nuclear war, as though it were a card game: they are playing cards. That is my biggest concern. I am worried about the economic inequalities in the world: the fact that a small group of humans has over 80% of the world’s wealth, with all its implications for the liquid economy, which at its center has money as a god, instead of men and women. Hence the throwaway culture.

Q. Your Holiness, going back to the global problems you just mentioned, Donald Trump is just now being sworn in as president of the United States, and the whole world is tense because of it. What do you make of it?

A. I think that we must wait and see. I don’t like to get ahead of myself, nor to judge people prematurely. We will see how he acts, what he does, and then I will form an opinion. But being afraid or rejoicing beforehand because of something that might happen is, in my view, quite unwise. It would be like prophets predicting calamities or windfalls that will not come to pass. We will see what he does and will judge accordingly. Always work with the specific. Christianity is either specific or it is not Christianity.

It is interesting that the first heresy in the Church took place just after the death of Jesus Christ: the gnostic heresy, condemned by the apostle John. Which was what I call a spray-paint religiousness, a non-specific religiousness…nothing concrete. No, no way. We need specifics. And from the specific we can draw consequences. We are losing our sense of the concrete. The other day, a thinker was telling me that this world is so upside down that it needs a fixed point. And those fixed points stem from concrete actions. What did you do, what did you decide, what moves did you make? That is why I prefer to wait and see.

Q. Aren’t you worried about the things we have heard up until now?

A. I’m still waiting. God waited so long for me, with all my sins…

Q. For the most traditionalist sectors, any change, even if it is only a change in language, amounts to treachery. At the other end of the spectrum, even for those who will never embrace the Catholic faith, no change is ever enough. You yourself have said that everything has already been written in the essence of Christianity. Are we then talking about a revolution of normalcy?

A. I always try —I don’t know if I always succeed— to do what the Gospel says. That is what I try. I am a sinner and not always successful, but that is what I try. The history of the Church has not been driven by theologians, or priests, or nuns, or bishops… Maybe in part, but the true heroes of the Church are the saints. That is, those men and women who devoted their lives to making the Gospel a reality. They are the ones who saved us: the saints. We sometimes think that a saint is a nun that looks up to the heavens and rolls her eyes. The saints are the specific examples of the Gospel in daily life! And the theology that you learn from a saint’s life is immense. There is no doubt that the theologians and the pastors are necessary. They are part of the Church. But we must come back to that: the Gospel. And who are the best messengers of the Gospel? The saints. You used the word “revolution”. That is a revolution! I am not a saint. I am not making any revolution. I am just trying to push the Gospel forward. In an imperfect way, because I make my blunders from time to time.

Q. Don’t you think that many Catholics may feel something like the syndrome of the prodigal son’s sibling, and may think that you are more focused on those who left than on those who remained and obeyed the Church’s commandments? I remember that in one of your trips, a German journalist asked you why you never talk about the middle class, about those who pay their taxes…

A. There are two questions in there. The syndrome of the eldest child: I know that those who feel comfortable within a Church structure that doesn’t ask too much of them, or who have attitudes that protect them from too much outside contact, are going to feel uneasy with any change, with any proposal coming from the Gospel. I like to think about the owner of the hotel where the Samaritan took the man who was beaten and robbed by thieves along the way. The owner knew the story, the Samaritan had told him: a priest had passed by, he looked at the time, saw that he was late for temple and left the man there, he didn’t want to get blood-stained because that would prevent him from celebrating mass according to the law. A lawyer passed by, he looked and said: “I better not get involved, it will make me late, tomorrow in court I will have to testify and… No, it’s better not to get involved.” As if he had been born in Buenos Aires, he turned his back using that city’s slogan: “Better not get involved”. And then along came a man who was not Jewish, he was a pagan, he was a sinner, he was deemed the scum of the earth, yet he was moved by the hurt man’s plight and he helped him get up. The owner’s astonishment was tremendous, because it was unusual.

The novelty of the Gospel is astonishing because it is essentially scandalous. Saint Paul tells us about the scandal of the cross, the scandal of the Son of God becoming man. It is a good kind of scandal, because Jesus condemns the outrage against children too. But the evangelical essence was scandalous by those days’ criteria. By any mundane criteria, it is a scandalous essence. So the eldest child syndrome is the syndrome of anyone who is too settled within the Church, the one who has clear ideas about everything, who knows what must be done and doesn’t want to listen to strange sermons. That is the explanation for our martyrs: they gave their lives for preaching something that was upsetting.

That is your first question. As for the second one: I didn’t want to answer the German journalist right away, but I told him: I am going to think about it, you may be somewhat right… I am always talking about the middle class, even without mentioning it. I use a term coined by the French novelist Malègue, who talks about “the middle class of sanctity”. I am always talking about parents, grandparents, nurses, the people who live to serve others, who raise their kids, who go to work… Those people are tremendously saintly! And they are also the ones who carry the Church onward: the ones who earn their living with dignity, who raise their children, who bury their dead, who care for their elders instead of putting them into an old people’s home: that is our saintly middle class.

From an economic point of view, these days the middle class increasingly tends to vanish, and there is the risk that we will take shelter in our ideological caves. But this “middle class of sanctity”: the father, the mother who celebrate their family, with their sins and their virtues, the grandfather, the grandmother, with the family at the center, that is “the middle class of sanctity”. That was a great insight on the part of Malègue, who writes a sentence that is really impressive. In one of his novels, Augustine, an atheist asks him: “But do you believe that Jesus Christ is God?” He is presenting the problem: Do you think that the Nazarene is God? “For me, it is not a problem”, is the protagonist’s answer, “the problem would have been if God hadn’t become the Christ”. That is “the middle class of sanctity”.

My concern is for  women to give us their thinking, because the Church is female, it is Jesus Christ’s wife, and that is the theological foundation of women

Q. Your Holiness, you have mentioned the ideological caves. What do you mean by that? What are your concerns in this regard?

A. It is not a concern. I am stating the facts. One is always more at ease in the ideological system that he has built for himself, because it is abstract.

Q. Has it been exacerbated in recent years?

A. It has always existed. I would not say it has been exacerbated, there has also been much disappointment in connection with that statement. I think there was more [polarization] in the period before World War II. I think. I haven’t given it much thought. I am putting things together… In the restaurant of life you always get many ideological dishes. You may always take refuge in that. They are shelters that prevent you from connecting with reality.

Q. Holy Father, over the course of these years, during your trips, we have seen you get moved by others and in turn you have moved many who listened to you… There are three very special occasions: once in Lampedusa, when you asked whether we had cried with the women who lost their children to the sea; in Sardinia, when you spoke about unemployment and the victims of the global financial system; in the Philippines, over the tragedy of the exploited children. What can the Church do about it, what is being done, and what are governments doing?

A. The symbol I proposed for the new Migrations office —in the new structure, I took directly over the department of Migrations and Refugees, with two secretaries— is an orange life jacket, like the ones we all know. During a general audience, there was a group of people working to rescue refugees in the Mediterranean. I was passing through, greeting people, and a man had one of those things in his hands and he started to cry on my shoulder, and he sobbed: “I wasn’t able to do it, I didn’t get to her in time, I wasn’t able to do it.” And when he calmed down a little he told me: “She wasn’t more than four years old. And she went down. I am giving this to you.” This a symbol of the tragedy that we are living.

Q. Are governments rising to the occasion?

A. Everyone does what they can or what they want to do. It is very hard to pass judgment. Undoubtedly, the fact that the Mediterranean has become a graveyard is food for thought.

Q. Do you feel that the way you reach out to the margins, to those who suffer and are lost, is a welcome attitude, considering it is accompanied by a machine that is perhaps used to a very different pace? Do you feel that you and the Church go at a different pace? Do you feel support?

A. I think that, fortunately, the responses are generally good, very good. When I asked the parishes and the schools in Rome to take in immigrants, many said that it had been a failure. It is not true! It was not a failure at all! A high percentage of Rome’s parishes, when they didn’t have a big house or they had a very little one, they had their parishioners rent an apartment for an immigrant family. In convent schools, whenever there was room, they welcomed an immigrant family… The answer is that we have done more than you know, because we haven’t advertised it. The Vatican has two parishes and each parish has an immigrant family. An apartment at the Vatican for one family, another for the other one. The response has been constant. Not a 100% response, I don’t know the proportion, I think maybe 50%.

Then there is the problem of integration. Each immigrant constitutes a very serious problem. They are fleeing their country, because of hunger or because of the war. They are exploited. Take Africa: Africa is the symbol of exploitation. Even when given their independence, in some countries, they are the owners of their land on the surface, but not underground. So they are always used and abused…

The migrant reception policy has several phases. There is an emergency phase: you have to welcome them, because otherwise they will drown. Italy and Greece have led by example. Even now, Italy, with all the problems caused by the earthquake, still provides care. They come to Italy because it is the nearest shore, of course. I think they also get to Spain through Ceuta. But rather than staying in Spain, most of them tend to go north in search of better opportunities.

Q. But in Spain there is a fence in Ceuta and Melilla, so they cannot go through.

A. Yes, I know. And they want to go north. So the problem is: welcome them, yes, for a couple of months, give them accommodations. But the integration process must start at some point. Receive and integrate. The role model for all the world is Sweden. Sweden has nine million people. Of those, 890,000 are “new Swedes”, children of immigrants or immigrants with Swedish citizenship. The Foreign minister —I think it was her, the one who came to send me off— is a young woman, the daughter of a Swedish mother and a father from Gabon. Integrated immigrants. The problem is integration. When there is not integration, ghettos spring up. I am not blaming anyone, but it is a fact that there are ghettos. The young men who committed the atrocity in Zaventem [airport] were Belgian, they were born in Belgium. However, they lived in an immigrant neighborhood, a closed neighborhood. So the second phase is the key: integration. So much so that, what is the big problem for Sweden now? It isn’t that they don’t want any more immigrants to come, no! They can’t get enough of the integration programs! They wonder what else they can do to get more people to come. It is astonishing. It is an example for the whole world. And it is nothing new. I said it right from the start, after Lampedusa… I knew of Sweden because of all the Argentinians, Uruguayans, Chileans who went there in the era of the military dictatorships and who were welcomed there. I have friends who went there as refugees and who live there. You go to Sweden and they give you a healthcare program, papers, a residency permit… And then you have a home, and the following week you have a school to learn the language, and a little bit of work, and you are on your way.

In that respect, Sant’Egidio in Italy is another model to follow. The Vatican is in charge of 22 [migrants], and we are taking care of them, and they are slowly becoming independent. The second day, the kids were going to school. The second day! And the parents are getting gradually settled in an apartment, with a bit of work here, a bit of work there… They have instructors to teach them the language… Sant’Egidio has that same attitude. So, the problem is: urgent rescue, of course, for everyone. Second: receive, welcome as best as possible. Afterwards, integrate.

Q. Your Holiness, half a century has passed since many significant events happened: the Second Vatican Council, Pope Paul VI’s trip to the Holy Land and his embrace with the Patriarch Athenagoras. Some people say that in order to know you, one must know Paul VI. He was up to a point the unappreciated Pope. Do you also feel that way, like an uncomfortable Pope?

A. No, no. I think that I should be less well understood because of my sins. Paul VI was the unappreciated martyr. (…) Evangelii gadium, which frames the pastoral principles that I want for the Church, is an update of Paul VI’s Evangelii Nuntiandi. He is a man who was ahead of history. And he suffered a lot. He was a martyr. There were many things that he wasn’t able to do, he was a realistic person and he knew that he wasn’t able to and he suffered for it, but he offered us his suffering. He did what he could. And the best thing that he did was planting the seeds. The seeds of things that history collected afterwards. Evangeli Gadium is a mix ofEvangeli Nuntiandi and the Aparecida document. Things that developed from the bottom up. Evangeli Nuntiandi is the best post-Council pastoral paper, and it is still relevant. I don’t feel unrecognized. I feel accompanied by all kinds of people, young people, old people… There are some who don’t agree, of course, and they have the right not to, because if I felt bad because someone disagrees with me, I would have the germ of a dictator in me. They have the right to disagree. They have the right to think that the path is dangerous, that the outcome may be bad, they have the right. But provided that they talk, that they don’t hide behind others. Nobody has the right to do that. Hiding behind others is inhumane, it is a crime. Everyone has the right to debate, and I wish we would all debate more, because it creates a smoother connection between us. Debating unites us. A debate in good faith, not with slander nor things like that.

Q. You don’t feel uncomfortable with power?

A. But I don’t have the power. Power is something that is shared. Power exists when we make decisions that have been meditated, talked about, and prayed over; prayer helps me very much, it is a great support to me. I don’t feel uncomfortable with power. I feel uneasy with certain protocols, but that is because I come from the streets.

Q. You haven’t watched TV for 25 years now, and you were reportedly never were very fond of journalists. Yet you have reinvented the whole communication system of the Vatican, you have professionalized it and have made it into a dicastery [a department of the Curia]. Are media that important for the Pope? Is there a threat against the freedom of the press? Can social media be detrimental for the freedom of the individual?

A. I don’t watch television. I simply felt that God was asking that of me. On July 16, 1990 I made that promise, and I have not broken it. I have only been to the television center that was next to the archbishopric to watch a couple of films that I was interested in, which I thought would be appropriate for my message. I used to love the movies, I had studied a lot about cinema, most of all the Italian cinema of the postwar period, Italian realism, and the Polish director Wajda, and Kurosawa, and several French directors. But not watching TV didn’t prevent me from communicating. Not watching TV was a personal decision, nothing more. Communication comes from God. God communicates. God has communicated with us throughout history. God doesn’t exist in isolation. God communicates, and has spoken, and has accompanied us, and has challenged us, and has made us change course, and He is still with us. You cannot understand Catholic theology without God’s communication. God is not static up there, watching how people have fun or ruin themselves. God gets involved, through the word and through his flesh. And that is my starting point. I feel a little afraid when mass media don’t express themselves with an ethos of their own. For instance, there are ways of communicating that, instead of helping, weaken unity. A simple case in point: a family that is having dinner without conversation, because they are watching TV or the kids are with their phones, texting people who are somewhere else. When communication loses the flesh, the human element, and becomes liquid, it is dangerous. It is very important for families to communicate, for people to communicate, and also in the other way. Virtual communication is very rich, but there is a risk if it is lacking human, normal, person-to-person communication. The concrete element of communication is what will make the virtual element take the right course. We are no angels, we are concrete individuals. Communication is key and must go forward. I have spoken about the sins of communication in a lecture I gave in Buenos Aires at ADEPA, the association that bring together Argentinean publishers. The chairmen invited me to a dinner in which I gave this lecture. I signaled the sins of communication and said: don’t commit them, because you have a great treasure in your hands. Today, communicating is divine, it always was, because God communicates, and it is also human, because God communicated in a human way. So, for functional purposes, there is a dicastery to channel all this. But it is a functional thing. Communication is essential to the human being, because it is essential to God.

Q. The Vatican’s diplomatic machine works at full capacity. Both Barack Obama and Raúl Castro thanked it publicly for its work during their rapprochement. However, there are other cases such as Venezuela, Colombia or the Middle East, which remain blocked. In the first case, the parties have even criticized the Vatican’s mediation. Do you fear that the Vatican’s image may suffer for it? What are your instructions in these cases?

A. I ask the Lord that he give me the grace of not taking any measure for the sake of image alone. Honesty and service, those are the criteria. You may make mistakes sometimes, your image will suffer, but it doesn’t matter if there was goodwill. History will judge afterwards. And there is a principle, a very clear one for me, that must govern everything both in pastoral action and in Vatican diplomacy: we are mediators, rather than intermediaries. We build bridges, not walls. What is the difference between a mediator and an intermediary? The intermediary is the one that has a real estate business for instance, who looks for someone who wants to sell a house and for someone who wants to buy one, he helps them reach an agreement and he gets a commission, he renders a good service but he always gets something out of it, and rightly so because it is his job. The mediator is the one who wants to serve both parties and wants both parties to win even if he loses. Vatican diplomacy must be a mediator, not an intermediary. If, throughout history, it has sometimes maneuvered or managed a meeting that filled its pockets, that was a very serious sin. The mediator builds bridges that are not for him, but rather for others to cross. And he doesn’t charge a fee. He builds the bridge and then he leaves. That is to me the image of Vatican diplomacy. Mediators, rather than intermediaries. Bridge builders.

Q. Will that Vatican diplomacy extend soon to China?

A. In fact, there is a committee that has been working for years with China, they meet every three months, once here and once in Beijing. There are many talks with China. China has always had that aura of mystery that is fascinating. Two or three months ago they had an exhibition of pieces from the Vatican Museums in Beijing, and they were very happy about it. And next year they will come to the Vatican with their own exhibits.

Q. And will you soon be going to China?

A. As soon as they send me an invitation. They know that. Besides, in China, the churches are packed. In China they can worship freely.

Q. Both in Europe and in America, the repercussions of the crisis that never ends, the growing inequalities, the absence of a strong leadership are giving way to political groups that reflect on the citizens’ malaise. Some of them —the so-called anti-system or populists— capitalize on the fears of an uncertain future in order to form a message full of xenophobia and hatred towards foreigners. Trump’s case is the most noteworthy, but there are others such as Austria or Switzerland. Are you worried about this trend?

A. That is what they call populism here. It is an equivocal term, because in Latin America populism has another meaning. In Latin America, it means that the people —for instance, people’s movements— are the protagonists. They are self-organized. When I started to hear about populism in Europe I didn’t know what to make of it, until I realized that it had different meanings. Crises provoke fear, alarm. In my opinion, the most obvious example of populism in the European sense of the word is Germany in 1933. After [Paul von] Hindenburg, after the crisis of 1930, Germany is broken, it needs to get up, to find its identity, it needs a leader, someone capable of restoring its character, and there is a young man named Adolf Hitler who says: “I can, I can”. And Germans vote for Hitler. Hitler didn’t steal power, his people voted for him, and then he destroyed his people. That is the risk. In times of crisis we lack judgment, and that is a constant reference for me. Let’s look for a savior who gives us back our identity and let us defend ourselves with walls, barbed-wire, whatever, from other people who may rob us of our identity. And that is a very serious thing. That is why I always try to say: talk among yourselves, talk to one another. But the case of Germany in 1933 is typical, a people who were immersed in a crisis, who were searching for their identity until this charismatic leader came and promised to give their identity back, and he gave them a distorted identity, and we all know what happened. Where there is no conversation… Can borders be controlled? Yes, each country has the right to control its borders, who comes in and who goes out, and those countries at risk —from terrorism or such things— have even more of a right to control them, but no country has the right to deprive its citizens of the possibility to talk with their neighbors.

Q. Do you see, Holy Father, any sign of 1933 Germany in today’s Europe?

A. I am no expert, but, with regard to today’s Europe, let me refer you to three speeches I have made,  two in Strasbourg and the third one on the occasion of the Charlemagne prize, the only award I have accepted because they insisted a lot due to the situation Europe was in, and I accepted it as a service. Those three speeches contain what I think about Europe.

Q. Is corruption the great sin of our times?

A. It is a big sin. But I think that we must not think of ourselves as historically exclusive. There has always been corruption. Always and right here. If you read about the history of the Popes, you will find some nice scandals… And that is just to mention my own house and not talk about others. There are examples of neighboring countries where there was also corruption, but I will stick to my own. There was corruption here. A lot. Just think of Pope Alexander VI, and Lucrezia with her [poisoned] “teas”.

Q. What news are you getting from Spain? What feedback are you getting about the way your message, your mission, your work is being received in Spain?

A. What I just got from Spain are some polvorones [shortbread] and turrón de Jijona [nougat] that I am going to share with the boys.

Q. Ha ha. In Spain there is a very lively debate on secularism and religiousness, as you already know…

A. Very lively indeed…

Q. What do you think about it? Is it possible that the secularism process, in the end, will force the Catholic Church out to the margins?

A. Talk amongst yourselves. That is the advice I give to every country. Please talk. Have a fraternal conversation, if you feel up to it, or at least in a civilized way. Don’t hurl insults at each other. Don’t condemn before talking. If, after the conversation, you still want to insult the other guy, alright then, but first talk. If, after the conversation, you still want to condemn the other guy, alright then, but first talk. Today, with our level of human development, politics without talking is inconceivable. And that applies to Spain and elsewhere. So, if you ask me for advice for the Spanish people, I say: talk. If there are problems, first talk.

Q. It is no surprise that your words and your decisions are followed with special interest in Latin America. How do you see that continent? How do you see your own country?

A. The trouble is that Latin America is suffering the effects —which I emphasized in Laudato Si— of an economic system that has the money god at its center, and that means policies that lead to a lot of exclusion. Which leads to a lot of suffering. It is obvious that Latin America today is the target of a strong attack from economic liberalism, the one I condemn in Evangelii Gaudium when I say that “this economy kills”. It kills with hunger, it kills with a lack of culture. Migration flows not just from Africa to Lampedusa or Lesbos. Migration also flows from Panama to the Mexican-U.S. border. People migrate in search of something, because liberal systems don’t give them job opportunities and foster criminality. In Latin America there is the problem of the drug cartels, drugs that are consumed in the United States and Europe. They make them for the rich countries here, and they lose their lives in the process. And there are those who do it willingly. In my homeland we have a term to describe them: cipayos. It is a classic, literary word that is included in our national poem. The cipayo is the one who sells his homeland to the foreign power who pays him the most. In the history of Argentina, for instance, there has always been a cipayo among the politicians. Or some political position worthy of cipayos. Always. So Latin America must re-arm itself with political groups that will recover the strength of the people. The biggest example for me is Paraguay after the war. The country lost the War of the Triple Alliance and was left almost entirely in the hands of women. And the Paraguayan woman felt that she had to rebuild the nation, defend her faith, defend her culture and defend her language, and she did it. The Paraguayan woman wasn’t a cipaya, she defended what was hers, and she repopulated the country. I think that she is the most glorious woman in the Americas. That is an example of someone who never gave up. Of heroism. In Buenos Aires there is a neighborhood on the banks of the Río de la Plata, where the streets bear the names of patriotic women, women who fought for independence, for their homeland. Women have better sense. Maybe I am exaggerating. Correct me if I am. But they have a stronger inclination towards defending their homeland because they are mothers. They are less cipayas. They are less at risk of being cipayas.

Q. That is why it hurts so much to witness all the violence against women, which is such a scourge in Latin America and so many other places…

A. Everywhere. In Europe… In Italy, for instance, I have visited organizations that rescue female prostitutes who are being taken advantage of by Europeans. One of them told me that they had brought her in from Slovakia in a car trunk. They tell her: you have to earn such and such today, and if you don’t bring it in, we will beat you. They beat her. In Rome? The circumstances of these women, in Rome, is terrifying. In the house that I visited, there was a woman that had had an ear cut off. When they don’t earn enough, they are tortured. And they are trapped because they are frightened, the abusers tell them that they are going to kill their parents. There are Albanians, Nigerians, even Italians. One very good thing this association does is that they walk down the streets, approach the women and, instead of asking how much do you charge, how much do you cost, they ask: How much do you suffer? And they take them to a safe community so that they may recover. Last year, I visited one of those communities with recovering girls, and there were two men there, two volunteers. And one of the women said to me: I found him. She had married the man who had rescued her and they were eager to have a child. The use of women for profit is one of the worst things that are happening today, also in Rome. It is female slavery.

Q. Don’t you think that, after the failed attempt of Liberation Theology in Latin America, the Catholic Church has lost a lot of ground to other denominations and even sects? What is the reason for it?

A. Liberation Theology was very positive for Latin America. The Vatican condemned the part that adopted a Marxist analysis of reality. Cardinal Ratzinger conducted two inquiries when he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. One about the Marxist analysis of reality. And a second one that recovered some positive aspects. Liberation Theology had positive aspects and also deviations, mainly as concerns of the Marxist analysis of reality.

Q. Regarding your relationship with Argentina, in the last three years the Vatican has become a pilgrimage destination for politicians of all colors. Have you felt used?

A. Ah, yes. Some say: let us have our picture taken together, just as a souvenir, and I promise it will be for my personal use, I will not publish it. And before they walk out out the door it is already published. [He smiles]. Well, if that makes him happy, that is his problem. His quality as a person diminishes.  What can I do? It’s his problem, not mine. In Argentina there always was a lot of travel, but nowadays, coming to a general audience with the Pope is almost mandatory. [Laughs]. There are also those who come who are my friends —I lived in Argentina for 76 years — sometimes family, nephews and nieces. But I have felt used, yes. There are people who have used me, my pictures, my words, as if I had said things to them, and whenever someone asks me, I always respond: it’s not my problem, I didn’t say anything to them. But to each with their own conscience.

Q. A frequent subject is the role of laymen and, most of all, the role of women in the Church. Your wish is for them to have a bigger influence and even a role in decision-making. How far do you think that you will be able to get?

A. We must not look at the role of women from a functional point of view, because that way, in the end, the women, or the women’s movement in the Church, will be some sort of chauvinism in skirts. The functional aspect is all right. The deputy director of the Press room at the Vatican is a woman, the director of the Vatican Museums is a woman. But what I want is for women to give us their thinking, because the Church is female, the Church is Jesus Christ’s wife, and that is the theological foundation of women. What was more important on Pentecost, the Virgin or the apostles? The Virgin. There is a long way ahead yet, and we must work so that women may give to the Church the freshness of their being and their thinking.

Q. On some trips, you have addressed the churchmen, both from the Roman Curia and from the local hierarchies or even common priests and nuns, to ask them for more commitment, more proximity, even a better mood. How do you think they receive that advice, that rebuke?

A. My focus is always on proximity, closeness. And it is well received in general. There are always more fundamentalist groups in every country, also in Argentina. They are small groups and I respect them, they are good people that prefer to live their faith that way. I preach what I feel that the Lord asks me to preach.

Q. In Europe there is an increasing number of priests and nuns originating from the so-called Third World. What is the reason for this?

A. A hundred and fifty years ago, in Latin America, there were growing numbers of European priests and nuns, same as in Africa and Asia. Young churches expanded. In Europe today there are no births. Italy has a rate below zero. I think that France is leading the way now, thanks to all the natality laws. But there are no births. The Italian welfare of years ago cut down births. We’d rather go on vacation, we have a dog, a cat, we don’t have children and, if there are no births, there are no callings.

Q. In your consistories you have created cardinals from all over the world. How would you like the next conclave to be, the one that will elect your successor? Your Holiness, do you think that you will witness the next conclave?

A. I want it to be Catholic. A Catholic conclave that chooses my successor.

Q. And will you see it?

A. I don’t know. That is for God to decide. When I feel that I cannot go on, my great teacher Benedict taught me how to do it. And if God carries me away before that, I will see it from the afterlife. I hope it will not be from Hell… But I want it to be a Catholic consistory.

Q. You seem very happy to be a Pope.

A. The Lord is good and hasn’t taken away my good humor.

(ABC) El Obispado de Tenerife anula un funeral a masones en La Palma

(ABC) Se mantiene la celebración de una Marcha Masónica por las calles de la capital palmera, primer acto público de este tipo en España en democracia.

El obispo de Tenerife, Bernardo Álvarez, ha confirmado este lunes a las autoridades masónicas canarias que ha decidido anular la presencia de la Logia Ábora 87 en una iglesia de Santa Cruz de La Palma.

En la capital palmera, los masones desarrollan esta semana la Semana Masónica. Lo que se pretendía realizar en el templo religioso era un funeral a los masones de La Palma fallecidos.

El pasado fin de semana, Bernardo Álvarez, habría mantenido una conversación con Jerónimo Saavedra, el ex ministro socialista de Educación y AA.PP en los Gobiernos González, que ocupa el rango de venerable maestro de Ábora 87, a para comunicarle la decisión de no autorizar la presencia de simbología masónica en la Iglesia.

A la salida de este funeral, por primera vez en España desde hace décadas, se realizará una Marcha Masónica alrededor de la Iglesia del Salvador. Lo que subyace en esta actividad es el regreso a La Palma de la Logia Abora 87 tras 80 años de ausencia por razones políticas.

Fuentes de Ábora 87 consultadas por ABC indicaron este lunes que “lo lamentable de todo esto es que el obispo de Tenerife, sin quererlo, nos ha hecho un gran favor que, sin embargo, a nadie beneficia“.

Asimismo, esta misma fuente matizó: “Es obvio que el templo es suyo. Y si se desdice de su respaldo inicial a lo que iba a ser un acto de normalización de nuestra presencia en la sociedad española, pues ya será en otra ocasión”.

La Palma congrega esta semana a las mayores autoridades masónicas de España. Entre otros, la del Gran Maestro de la Gran Logia de España-Grande Oriente Español, Óscar de Alfonso Ortega.


(DE) Preso em Lodz um iraquiano com explosivos

(DE) País vai acolher as Jornadas Mundiais da Juventude e espera a visita do Papa.

Preso em Lodz um iraquiano com explosivos

A cidade de Lodz, na Polónia, está em alerta depois de ter sido detido um iraquiano com explosivos, embora não suficiente para causar uma explosão, segundo informou a porta-voz da Procuradoria local, Beata Marczak, citada pelas agências internacionais.

O iraquiano, de 40 anos, foi interrogado enquanto o seu quarto era alvo de buscas, tendo depois os agentes da autoridade procedido à detenção preventiva do homem por dois meses. Para já, não existem elementos suficientes para uma acusação de terrorismo, mas o arguido arrisca-se a cumprir uma pena de oito anos de prisão caso seja acusado de posse ilegal de explosivos. E, tendo em conta que o país vai acolher, em Cracóvia, até dia 31, as Jornadas Mundiais da Juventude e espera contar com a presença do Papa, a situação gerou alarme.

Ainda assim, de acordo com dados divulgados pela estação privada “Polsat News”, o indivíduo teria na sua posse elementos relativos à preparação de actos de terrorismo que visariam interesses comerciais franceses na Polónia.

(OBS) Papa Francisco escolhe uma mulher para ser porta-voz do Vaticano

(Observador) Paloma Ovejero, uma jornalista espanhola de 40 anos, é a nova vice-diretora da sala de imprensa do Vaticano. É a primeira vez que uma mulher ocupa este cargo, e foi escolhida pelo papa Francisco.

Para o Papa, é “claríssimo que a comunicação é parte essencial do pontificado”, afirma Paloma Ovejero

Uma mulher ocupa pela primeira vez um alto cargo na comunicação do Vaticano. Paloma García Ovejero foi escolhida para vice-diretora da sala de imprensa do Vaticano, onde trabalhou nos últimos quatro anos como correspondente da rádio espanhola COPE.

O até agora diretor da sala de imprensa, Frederico Lombardi, um sacerdote que foi responsável pela sala de imprensa da Santa Sé durante os últimos dez anos, completa 74 anos no próximo mês de agosto, e vai ser substituído por Greg Burke, um norte-americano que trabalhou na Fox News e já fazia parte da estrutura de comunicação do Vaticano. Greg Burke vai, portanto, ser o superior hierárquico de Paloma Ovejero, que será, então, vice-diretora.

Paloma Ovejero, numa entrevista ao jornal El Español, explica que quer “ser uma ponte entre um lado e outro”, entre o Papa e os jornalistas. “Tenho ideias, propostas”, admite Paloma, mas reconhece que se vai integrar num “processo de mudança”.

Teria aceitado ser motorista ou limpar os cestos do papel da sala de imprensa”.

“Chamaram-me da Secretaria de Estado do Vaticano na sexta-feira [dia 8 de julho]. Fui reunir-me com o cardeal Becciu — número dois do organismo –, que me disse que tinha de me fazer um pedido da parte do Papa”, lembra Paloma.

Sem pensar duas vezes, a jornalista disse: “Se é o Papa que me pede, não tenho nada a pensar. Teria aceitado ser motorista ou limpar os cestos do papel da sala de imprensa”.

Mas não era o caso. “Ele disse-me: «O Papa precisa de que o ajudes e quer que sejas a nova vice-diretora da sala de imprensa». E aí começas a dar-te conta de que disseste sim a algo muito maior do que pensavas”, recorda.

Para o Papa, é “claríssimo que a comunicação é parte essencial do pontificado”, afirma Paloma Ovejero, que teve logo um encontro privado com Francisco e o porta-voz Greg Burke. A missão da sala de imprensa do Vaticano é, para a jornalista, garantir que “a mensagem do Papa seja lida e escutada exatamente da forma que ele a quis transmitir”.

Qual a diferença entre propaganda e informação, pergunta-lhe o jornal espanhol. “Boa pergunta para daqui a seis meses. Estou nos primeiros dias e ainda estou a começar a perceber como é este mundo”.

(Reuters) Pope to visit Armenia after irking Turkey with ‘genocide’ label

(Reuters) Pope Francis visits Armenia this weekend and will try to avoid reigniting a diplomatic dispute with Turkey after his branding of the 1915 mass killings of Armenians as a genocide infuriated Ankara last year.

During the three-day trip starting on Friday, he will pray at Tzitzernakaberd, known in Armenia as the “Genocide Memorial and Museum” but which the official Vatican program for the trip calls “a memorial of the massacres”.

He will have to tread delicately there and in half a dozen other addresses to political and religious leaders.

Last year Francis described the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians in World War One as “the first genocide of the 20th century”, days before commemorations to mark the centenary of the massacres in April.

Muslim Turkey promptly recalled its envoy to the Vatican, Mehmet Pacaci, and he stayed away for 10 months, an eternity in diplomatic terms.

Turkey accepts that many Christian Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during World War One, but it disputes the figures and denies that the killings were systematically orchestrated and constitute a genocide. It also says many Muslim Turks perished at that time.

In the run-up to Francis’s trip, the Vatican has been at pains to avoid the G-word.


“Why is there an obsession to use the word ‘genocide’ and ask about it in all the questions?” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi testily responded to journalists at a briefing on the trip this week.

“We know what happened. None of us is denying that there were horrible massacres. We recognize this. We are going to the memorial precisely to remember this but we don’t want this to become a trap of political and ideological discussions,” Lombardi said.

Many Western historians use the word genocide to describe the events of a century ago and about a dozen EU countries have infuriated Turkey by passing resolutions officially recognizing the Armenian massacre as a genocide.

Lombardi said he preferred to use the Armenian phrase “Medz Yeghern,” which roughly translates as “the great evil” or “the great calamity”. This is the formula some world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama, have used.

Lombardi rejected a reporter’s suggestion that since the pope had used the word genocide last year the Vatican had chosen a policy of “reductionism” to placate Turkey.

As if to fire a warning shot across the Vatican’s bow, Turkey’s embassy to the Holy See last week held a commemoration of the “martyrdom” of Taha Carim, a Turkish ambassador to the Vatican killed in Rome in 1977 by Armenian gunmen.

Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as a state religion, in 301, 12 years before the Roman Empire granted Christians religious freedom.

The Armenian Apostolic Church, whose leader is known as the “Catholicos”, split from Rome over a theological dispute in the fifth century and is part of the Oriental Orthodox Churches. It is seen as the custodian of Armenian national identity.

Only about 280,000 of Armenia’s population of around 3 million people are Roman Catholic.

Before returning to Rome on Sunday, Francis is due to visit the Khor Virap monastery in the foothills of Mt. Ararat, near the border with Turkey, and release doves along with Catholicos Karekin II as a symbol of their hopes for peace and reconciliation in the region.

In September, Francis is due to visit two other Caucasus countries, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

(FT) Trump and Pope face off over border wall


Pope Francis speaks during a meeting with the media onboard the papal plane while en route to Rome, Italy February 17, 2016 and Donald Trump (R) speaks at a campaign rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire February 4, 2016 in a combination of file photos. Pope Francis assailed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's views on U.S. immigration as "not Christian" on Thursday, prompting the billionaire businessman to assail the religious leader as "disgraceful" for questioning his faith. REUTERS/POOL©Reuters

Pope Francis has waded into the US presidential race by saying Donald Trump is “not Christian” just two days before the New York mogul hopes to win the Republican primary in the heavily religious state of South Carolina.

Speaking on his plane after departing Mexico, Pope Francis took aim at Mr Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the US border with its southern neighbour.

“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” the pontiff said. “This is not in the Gospel.”

Mr Trump, whose presidential campaign has been propelled by his promise to deport the 11m — mostly Mexican — illegal immigrants in the US hit back immediately, saying it was “disgraceful” for Pope Francis to question his faith and suggesting that the pontiff should pray for his election victory to prevent a terror attack on the Vatican.

“If and when the Vatican is attacked by Isis, which as everyone knows is Isis’s ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president because this would not have happened,” Mr Trump said in a rare emailed statement. “Isis would have been eradicated unlike what is happening now with our all talk, no action politicians.”

Mr Trump, who has promised to make Mexico pay for the wall, recently accused Pope Francis of being a political man and “pawn” of the Mexican government. Asked to respond, the pontiff said he was glad the mogul called him a politician: “Aristotle defined the human person as ‘animal politicus’, so at least I am a human person.”

Asked whether he believed Catholics in the US should vote for Mr Trump, the pontiff replied: “I am not going to get involved in that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that (about building a wall). We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.” Trump-and-Pope-face-off-over-border-wall-FT

(FT) Vatican finance chief sings praises of free markets

(FT) Cardinal George Pell (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)©AP

Cardinal George Pell

A senior cardinal chosen by Pope Francis to manage the Vatican’s finances has launched into a spirited defence of free markets, countering the perception that the Catholic church under the Argentine pontiff has turned against capitalism and business.

George Pell, the head of the Holy See’s secretariat for the economy, told a conference hosted by The Global Foundation in Rome on Sunday that “no better model is available at the moment” than market economies, citing their capacity to “rejuvenate” after the Great Depression and recent global financial crisis, and their failure to produce the “massive alienation” predicted by Karl Marx.

“I like to quote Maggie Thatcher who pointed out that if the Good Samaritan had been without capital he could not have paid for the care of the man who was beaten and robbed on the road to Jericho,” he said, according to prepared remarks obtained by the Financial Times. He went on to add: “We may have too much sugar in our society, such as consumerism, but we are not being poisoned by deserts of salt.”Vatican-finance-chief-sings-praises-of-free-markets-FT

M.P.O. Blasphemy!


Blasphemy !

His Holiness Pope Francis said today, speaking on the Paris attacks, that to use God’s name to justify violence is blasphemy.

I could not agree more.

On the 19th and on the 25 th September of 2012 I wrote two Personal Opinions:

“On Intolerance” and “On Civilization Intolerance”.

They were strong condemnations of intolerance, which is what this tragedy is all about.

The second P.O., written after the idiotic You Tube movie insulting Prophet Mohammed, is rather chilling because it forecasts the violence that years later occurred in Charlie Hebdo and now.

I quote myself from the P.O. ON CIVILIZATION INTOLERANCE – September 25 , 2012:

 «I was also shocked by Extremist Radical Movements , in France, in England
and other Countries ,that are persecuting Muslims.

These “groups” are growing very  quickly, using the Internet.




End of quote.

Every single word I wrote then stands.

The following December the European Parliament unanimously approved a
resolution condemning intolerance, following the exact same lines that I had
written three months earlier.

This tragedy is going to have enormous consequences in our way of life, and
particularly in Europe, whether we like it or not.

But let’s take a look at the origins of this problem.

I will come back to the consequences later.

I quote myself again P.O. ON INTOLERANCE –  September 19, 2012:

«P.O. Dear Friends: A Friend of mine called my attention to the totally IDIOTIC  YouTube Movie that is causing all this violence and deaths around the World.







End of quote.


The way I see it is that we in the West cannot accept any person or any kind of
organization,that preaches intolerance, hatred and violence.

Intolerance should be declared a crime.

And in the West we should close down every single organization that preaches
intolerance and violence, with no exceptions.

There is no way around it.

And the people that come to the West should have to agree, one by one, that they accept our way of life . And sign a document stating so. Otherwise they should be refused entry.

The situation in the EU and Europe is explosive, with millions of people living here, that do not accept our way of life.

The European governments should have known better when all these persons were allowed in.

I don’t know what solution is now.

But one thing I think I know, is that we shouldn’t make the problem worse than it already is.

I already wrote last September 8, that the Schengen agreements should be revoked.

And borders with controls reinstated. There is no way around it either, whether we like it, or not.

And the laws on asylum should be changed immediately. On this, even Mrs Merkel agrees.

Otherwise countries are going to be destabilised.

And this is not acceptable either.

Look at Poland, that said they would not take in the previously agreed number of refugees…

This problem was obvious, and I wrote on it on September 8 in my published +++ M.P.O. (FT) Europe will fail the values test on refugees – Gideon Rachman:

«And in time, the Governments will became split between their humanitarian values, and the duty to respect its Citizens opinions.»

Francisco (Abouaf) de Curiel Marques Pereira

(Vatican Radio – click to see) Pope says using God’s name to justify violence is blasphemy
Pope Francis on Sunday condemned the violence and hatred behind the terror attacks in France which left 129 people dead and several hundred others injured. Speaking to the crowds gathered in St Peter’s Square for his weekly Angelus address, the Pope said he wished to express his deepest condolences to the French President and especially to all those whose family members were killed or wounded in the multiple attacks on Friday night.

(The Independent – click to see) Everyone should read what Pope Francis said following the Paris attacks
Since news of the horror in Paris broke, Pope Francis has been vocal over his sadness and distraught.

Speaking during Sunday Mass the Pope condemned the Paris terror attacks, calling it “blasphemy” to use the name of God to justify “violence and hatred.”

He went on to express his shock at the sheer “barbarity” of the attacks, telling crowds in St Peter’s Square:

We wonder how can it come to the heart of man to conceive and carry out of such horrible events…

…the road of violence and hatred does not resolve humanity’s problems. And using the name of God to justify this road is blasphemy.

On Saturday Pope Francis also voiced that there is “no justification for these things”.

In a an interview with TV 2000, he said he was “moved and pained” by the events in the French capital.

I am close to the people of France, to the families of the victims, and I am praying for all of them.

These things are hard to understand.