Posts Tagged ‘Pope Francis’

Roman Catholic Church: Pope’s Deputy Urges Dialogue After Francis Accused of Heresy — “Scandal concerning faith and morals” (3 reports)

September 28, 2017

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican’s secretary of state has called for greater dialogue within the Roman Catholic Church after a small group of traditionalists accused Pope Francis of spreading heresy with his opening to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin said Thursday that those who don’t agree with the pope are free to express themselves, “but on these things one must reason and find ways to understand one another.”

Parolin’s comments marked the Vatican’s first response to the formal accusations made public last weekend.

The so-called “filial correction,” prepared by a few dozen traditionalist academics and clergy, accuses Francis of propagating seven heretical positions concerning marriage, moral life and the sacraments with his 2016 document “The Joy of Love” and subsequent “acts, words and omissions.”

Fewer than 150 people have signed.

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Signatories more than double on filial correction to Pope Francis

ROME, September 27, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — The “Filial Correction” of Pope Francis issued by Catholic clergy and scholars has been top news in Catholic and secular media outlets — including the AP, BBC, CNN, Fox News, Drudge Report, Huffington Post, and Daily Mail.

This correction, charging Pope Francis with permitting the spread of seven heresies, at least by omission, about “marriage, the moral life, and the reception of the sacraments,” has clearly been making a massive worldwide impact.

Nevertheless, some articles, such as that which appeared in the National Catholic Reporter, have suggested that the correction is nothing important, made by “really marginal figures” of little standing.

“Since I have given my own life to the priesthood exclusively for the salvation of souls, I had to add my name to the Correctio.”

The director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, also seemed to downplay the document’s importance. On Monday, he responded to reports in the Italian press that the Vatican had blocked access to the website of the “filial correction” on its computers.

“You can’t really imagine we would do this [block the website] for a letter with 60 names,”he joked to the Italian newspaper Il Giornale.

Even senior officials at the Vatican believe a response is not warranted, the National Catholic Register’s Edward Pentin reported on September 26, partly because they say it has been signed by only a relatively small number of Catholics they consider not to be major names.

Nevertheless, this story is evolving fast. In the first 72 hours since the correction was made public, the number of signatories has more than doubled, rising from 62 to 146. The rate doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

LifeSite spoke to Father Andrew Pinsent, Research Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion at Oxford University, who has been one of the latest signatories and who is currently lecturing at venues across Latin America.

“I signed the Correctio Filialis De Haeresibus Propagatis, not due to a lack of filial respect for the Holy Father, but because of the gravity of the situation,” Fr. Pinsent told LifeSiteNews.

Although the number of initial signatures of the original document was quite modest, it must be understood in terms of the wider context of what is happening in the Church.

“The Correctio is a next step, consistent with the teaching of Jesus Christ (Matt 18:15-17) and St. Paul confronting St. Peter (Gal 2:11), that follows a series of unanswered petitions since 2015,” Fr. Pinsent said.

He added: “These petitions have included one with nearly 800,000 signatures from 178 countries and including 202 prelates prior to the ludicrously manipulated ‘Synod on the Family’; the appeal of the 45 scholars, prelates, and clergy to the College of Cardinals to repudiate what are widely perceived as erroneous propositions in Amoris Laetitia; the dubia of the four cardinals, whom the Pope did not even have the courtesy to meet; and the statement of the confraternities representing thousands of priests worldwide.”

Commenting on what’s at stake, Fr. Pinsent said: “As Prof. Josef Seifert, friend of St. Pope John Paul II, warned recently, before being sacked for making this warning, we are facing the risk of the total destruction of the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.”

“I add that the contradictions now being introduced deny reason, which is contrary to the heart of Catholic theology, the examples of great saint scholars like St. Thomas Aquinas, and the consistent teaching of our two most recent popes. Such divisions of faith and reason are catastrophic for the Church’s mission of the salvation to souls.”

“Since I have given my own life to the priesthood exclusively for the salvation of souls, I had to add my name to the Correctio.”

The story is evolving in other ways as well. The original correction did not include any bishops in full communion with the Church, a fact that has also been cited as a reason to dismiss its importance. Nevertheless, as LifeSite reported on Monday, Bishop emeritus Rene Henry Gracida, 94, of Corpus Christi, Texas, has also added his name to the signatories.

Bishop Gracida was known to be a close friend of Mother Angelica and an effective communicator of the Church’s teaching on divorce and remarriage.

Update 7:53 PM EST: The organizers of the Filial Correction are warning of a “fraudulent” effort to undermine their initiative after one of the individuals on the new list of signatories publicly announced he had not signed. See here for more.

https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/signatories-more-than-double-on-filial-correction-to-pope-francis

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Conservatives accuse the Pope of spreading heresy

Rome (CNN) — Several dozen conservative Catholic scholars and clergy have charged Pope Francis with spreading heresy, a bold but perhaps futile salvo against Francis and his reform-minded papacy.

The widely publicized, theologically dense letter was delivered to the Pope with 40 signatures on August 11, according to its organizers. It has since gained 22 more signatures and was released to the public on Saturday. In a press release, the organizers say they speak for “a large number” of clergy and lay Catholics who “lack freedom of speech.”
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The letter does not accuse the Pope himself of being a heretic, but of supporting “heretical positions” on “marriage, the moral life and the Eucharist.”
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Francis has not responded to the letter publicly and the Vatican declined to comment.
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Pope may be open to married men as priests

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The letter’s organizers call their challenge a “filial correction” of the Pope by his “spiritual sons and daughters.”
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“Church law itself requires that competent persons not remain silent when the pastors of the Church are misleading the flock,” the conservative Catholic clergy and scholars said.
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Specifically, the letter charges Francis with promoting seven “heresies,” most notably through his openness to allowing some divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion.
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“Scandal concerning faith and morals has been given to the Church and to the world,” the letter states. It accuses the Pope of imposing “strange doctrines on the faithful,” and asks him to publicly correct his teachings.
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The lightning rod for complaints is the Pope’s 2016 document, Amoris Laetitia — which has opened the possibility for some divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion — and the differing interpretations of the document, which conservatives say have sown confusion among Catholics.
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press release accompanying the letter calls it an “epoch-making act,” with no precedent since 1333. That may be true, Catholic historians say, but likely overstates the letter’s actual significance. A number of the signees are members of a traditionalist group that has already broken away from the Catholic Church.
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Still, the heresy charge crystallizes some conservatives’ deep anxieties about Pope Francis, especially his teachings and impromptu statements about how to apply centuries-old Catholic doctrine to the complexities of modern life.
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Last year, four cardinals, in a letter known as a Dubia, asked the Pope to clarify some of the same points raised by the Catholic scholars and priests.
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Pope Francis has not responded to that letter, either.
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Who’s behind the heresy charge?

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None of the heresy letter’s signees are cardinals or bishops in good standing within the Catholic church. The most prominent is Bishop Bernard Fellay, the head of the Society of St. Pius X, a traditionalist group which broke away from the Vatican under Pope John Paul II over doctrinal issues.
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In some ways, Fellay’s participation is curious. As the letter’s organizers note, Francis has sought to welcome the conservative Society of St. Pius X, provided they agree to certain church teachings.
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Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, former president of the Vatican bank, is also a signee.
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Joseph Shaw, one of the organizers of the letter and a professor of philosophy at Oxford University, said that he hopes the Pope will answer the letter, but that it wasn’t written for his eyes only.
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“Pope Francis may be determined not to answer this, but it’s not to say that bishops and cardinals aren’t able to absorb it,” he said. “We have to press this problem on to people who can ultimately address them.”
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“If people become convinced that what he is doing is a grave mistake, the machine will seize up,” he continued. “There will be a reluctance to implement what he is doing.”
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Public spats and division followed the 2016 publication of the Amoris Laetitia, which resulted in different bishops around the world offering different interpretations of the teaching.
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For example, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, an American newly appointed to a top Vatican office by Francis last year, has publicly disagreed with Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, about whether divorced and remarried Catholics can receive Communion.
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Bishops conferences from Malta, Argentina, Poland, Germany and elsewhere have also weighed in with different interpretations of the Pope’s ruling.
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Conservatives contest that the Pope is tinkering with what is written in the Bible and has been affirmed throughout centuries in the Catholic Church on marriage: that a divorced person who is remarried without an annulment may not receive communion, because the second marriage is considered adulterous.
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“You can have a diversion of pastoral practice on some things,” says Shaw. “But you can’t have variation on whether marriage is indissoluble; you can’t have variation on whether you can receive communion.”
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Francis’ supporters say the Pope is not changing doctrine, but updating the practice of how the Catholic Church can meet the realities of today’s families.
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“We need to not just criticize, we need to say what our teaching is — and that’s not just a yes and no answer,” Farrell told Catholic News Agency.
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What’s next?

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It is no surprise that there is resistance to change within the Catholic Church, which claims a tradition of uninterrupted teachings since the time of Christ. The question is whether Francis can hold together the church’s left and right flanks while implementing reforms in how the church applies those teachings.
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Monsignor Robert Wister, a professor of church history at Seton Hall University in New Jersey, said he can’t recall anything similar to the heresy letter in recent times. Pope John XXII was rebuked in the 1330s for teaching that the souls of the dead do not see the face of God until the Last Judgment.
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“But it’s really hard to make a comparison,” he said. “Nine hundred years ago, most Catholics were illiterate. Now everybody is on Twitter.”
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So what effect will the heresy letter have on Francis’ papacy?
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“In the grand scheme of things, it will fuel some of the more extreme anti-Francis websites,” Wister said. “And I think it will encourage various priests and bishops who do not like his pastoral direction.”
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“But, if you look in the pews or even at polls, most people like Francis,” he said. “They see in him a compassion they have not seen in the church, an understanding of the very difficult reality of living in this very complicated world.”
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Mexican Quake Death Toll Rises to 90 as Oaxaca Reports More Fatalities

September 10, 2017

MEXICO CITY — The death toll from the massive earthquake that struck Mexico on Thursday night has risen to at least 90 after emergency services in the southern state of Oaxaca said late on Saturday there had been 71 confirmed fatalities in the state alone.

“It’s 71 (dead). Just for Oaxaca,” said Jesus Gonzalez, a spokesman for the state civil protection authority.

At least 15 people died in the neighboring state of Chiapas, according to local authorities, while another four deaths have also been confirmed in the state of Tabasco to the north.

The 8.1 magnitude quake that struck off the coast of Chiapas on Thursday was stronger than a devastating 1985 temblor that flattened swathes of Mexico City and killed thousands.

Relief efforts in the south continued through Saturday, with many of the people worst affected still wary of returning indoors to weakened buildings, fearing they could be brought down by ongoing aftershocks.

(Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel)

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BBC News

Mexico earthquake: Rescue efforts continue as death toll rises

This is what the southern region of Mexico woke up to after an 8.1 magnitude quake

The race to rescue those trapped in the rubble continues, nearly 48 hours after a powerful earthquake struck off Mexico’s southern coast.

The 8.1 magnitude quake left at least 65 people dead, according to officials.

Another 200 people were injured, President Enrique Peña Nieto said, as he declared a national day of mourning.

Meanwhile, the feared category one Hurricane Katia, which struck Veracruz on the east coast on Saturday, has been downgraded to a tropical storm.

The US National Hurricane Center reported Katia had been rapidly weakening since making landfall, but local officials are worried the storm could still cause landslides and flooding.

Rescue efforts following the earthquake, which struck late on Thursday, are focussing on the worst-hit states of Tabasco, Oaxaca and Chiapas.

Tens of thousands of emergency packs, as well as 100 extra police officers and rescue dogs were sent to Juchitán, Oaxaca, which was the most affected town.

The earthquake is the most powerful anywhere in the world since September 2015, but its depth – 70km according to the US Geological Survey – means that the shaking felt at the surface was less strong than it would have been for an equally powerful but shallower tremor.

President Enrique Peña Nieto speaks in Juchitán in Oaxaca state, 8 Sept 2017
President Enrique Peña Nieto speaks in Juchitán on Friday. EPA Photo

At least 37 people have been reported dead in Juchitán, according to the Milenio newspaper. The town hall and a number of other buildings destroyed or badly damaged.

“The situation is Juchitán is critical; this is the most terrible moment in its history,” said Mayor Gloria Sanchez.

Police officer Vidal Vera, 29, who had not slept in more than 36 hours, told AFP: “I can’t remember an earthquake this terrible.

“The whole city is a disaster zone right now. Lots of damage. Lots of deaths. I don’t know how you can make sense of it. It’s hard. My sister-in-law’s husband died. His house fell on top of him.”

Mr Peña Nieto, who visited the town on Friday, said flags would fly at half-mast on Saturday out of respect for the dead and bereaved.

The president said 45 deaths had been reported in Oaxaca, 12 in Chiapas and four in Tabasco.

Damage to the municipal palace of Juchitán, Mexico, 8 September 2017
Parts of the town hall in Juchitán were levelled. EPA photo

The BBC’s Arturo Wallace says the affected region is the poorest and least developed part of Mexico and the full extent of the damage is yet to become clear.

At least one other person was killed in Guatemala, its president has said.

The huge quake struck at 23:50 local time on Thursday (04:50 GMT Friday), shaking buildings and causing panic hundreds of miles away in the capital, Mexico City.

Patients at a hospital in Villahermosa, Mexico, remain in the open after a strong earthquake on 8 September 2017
Patients at a hospital in Villahermosa, Tabasco state, were moved into the open after the quake struck. EPA

The earthquake also triggered a tsunami warning and the evacuation of thousands of people in coastal communities in Chiapas. The warning was later lifted.

Throughout Friday, the region was shaken with scores of aftershocks.

President Peña Nieto’s office said he would travel to Chiapas to survey the damage.

Pope Francis, addressing an open air Mass on a visit to Colombia, said he was praying “for those who have lost their lives and their families”.

The earthquake was more powerful than the 1985 tremor which hit close to Mexico City and caused thousands of deaths. Correspondents say the death toll appears to have been lower because it struck further away from highly populated areas.

Map locator

Media captionA bowling alley shakes in Tuxtla Gutierrez, 240km from the epicentre

Journalist Franc Contreras, who was in Mexico City, told the BBC: “You could hear loud cracks in the concrete. It sounded like a giant wooden branch being just broken open violently.

“People were streaming out of the hallways. And everybody walking out single file into the streets, trying to avoid overhead power lines.”

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-41209243

Prayer and Meditation for Saturday, September 2, 2017 — “On the subject of fraternal charity: You yourselves have been taught by God to love one another. You know what to do.”

September 1, 2017

Saturday of the Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 430

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Parable of the Talents by Henry Coller (1886–1950)

Reading 1 1 THES 4:9-11

Brothers and sisters:
On the subject of fraternal charity
you have no need for anyone to write you,
for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.
Indeed, you do this for all the brothers throughout Macedonia.
Nevertheless we urge you, brothers and sisters, to progress even more,
and to aspire to live a tranquil life,
to mind your own affairs,
and to work with your own hands,
as we instructed you.

Responsorial Psalm  PS 98:1, 7-8, 9

R. (9) The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.
Sing to the LORD a new song,
for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him,
his holy arm.
R. The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.
Let the sea and what fills it resound,
the world and those who dwell in it;
Let the rivers clap their hands,
the mountains shout with them for joy.
R. The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.
Before the LORD, for he comes,
for he comes to rule the earth;
He will rule the world with justice
and the peoples with equity.
R. The Lord comes to rule the earth with justice.

Alleluia JN 13:34

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
I give you a new commandment:
love one another as I have loved you.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

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Parable of the Talents — There will be an accounting

Gospel MT 25:14-30

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“A man going on a journey
called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them.
To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one–
to each according to his ability.
Then he went away.
Immediately the one who received five talents went and traded with them,
and made another five.
Likewise, the one who received two made another two.
But the man who received one went off and dug a hole in the ground
and buried his master’s money.
After a long time
the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them.
The one who had received five talents
came forward bringing the additional five.
He said, ‘Master, you gave me five talents.
See, I have made five more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.’
Then the one who had received two talents also came forward and said,
‘Master, you gave me two talents.
See, I have made two more.’
His master said to him, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.
Since you were faithful in small matters,
I will give you great responsibilities.
Come, share your master’s joy.’
Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said,
‘Master, I knew you were a demanding person,
harvesting where you did not plant
and gathering where you did not scatter;
so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground.
Here it is back.’
His master said to him in reply, ‘You wicked, lazy servant!
So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant
and gather where I did not scatter?
Should you not then have put my money in the bank
so that I could have got it back with interest on my return?
Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten.
For to everyone who has,
more will be given and he will grow rich;
but from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.'”

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Image result for Pope Francis, pictures
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 Address given by Pope Francis on the Parable of the Talents
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The parable of the talents, taken from Saint Matthew (25, 14-30) — It tells the story of a man who, before leaving for a trip, calls his servants and entrusts them with his wealth in talents, ancient coins of great value. That master entrusts five talents to the first servant, to the second two, and the third one. During the absence of the master, the three servants must make this fortune fruitful. The first and the second servant doubled each of their starting capital; the third, however, for fear of losing everything, buried the talent he received in a hole. Upon the master’s return, the first two receive praise and a reward, while the third who only returns the coin received, is scolded and punished.

The meaning of this is very clear. The man of the parable represents Jesus, we are the servants and the talents are the wealth the Lord entrusts to us. What is this wealth? His Word, the Eucharist, faith in the Heavenly Father, His forgiveness, so many things. In short, his most precious goods. This is the wealth that he entrusts to us. Not just to guard it, but to make it grow. While in the common language, the word “talent” refers to a distinct individual talent – for example, in music, in sports, etc. – , in the parable, the talents represent the goods of the Lord, that He entrusts to us so that we make them fruitful. The hole dug in the ground by the “wicked and lazy servant” (v.26) shows the fear of risk that blocks the creativity and fruitfulness of love.  Jesus does not ask us to preserve His Grace in a safe. Jesus does not ask us this! He wants us to use it for the benefit of others and that’s how it grows. It’s as if He tells us: “Here is my mercy, my tenderness, my forgiveness: take it and use it.”And what have we done? Who have we “infected” with our faith? How many people have we encouraged with our hope? How much love have we shared with our neighbor? They are questions that do us well to ask.

Any environment, even the most distant and impractical, can become a place where talents can bear fruit. There are no situations or places that are closed to the Christian presence and witness. The witness that Jesus asks us is not closed, its open, it depends on us.

This parable urges us to not hide our faith and our belonging to Christ, to not bury the Word of the Gospel, but to make it circulate in our life, in our relationships, in our concrete situations, as a power that undermines, that purifies, that renews. Likewise forgiveness, which the Lord gives us especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation: let us not close it in ourselves, but rather let it unleash its power, that breaks down those walls that our selfishness has built up, that it makes us take the first steps in relationships that are stuck, to resume dialogue where there is no more communication. Make these talents, these gifts that the Lord has entrusted to us be given to others, so that they grow and bear fruit with our witness. Today, it would be a beautiful gesture if each one of you would open the Gospel at home. The Gospel of St. Matthew 25, 14-30. Read this and meditate it. My talents, my riches, all that God has given to me spiritually, the Word of God; how do I make this grow in others? Or do I just preserve it in a safe?

The Lord does not give everyone the same things and in the same way: He knows us personally and entrusts us with what is right for us; but He has the same, immense trust in us. God trusts us, God has hope in us! And this is the same for everyone. Do not disappoint Him! Do not be fooled by fear, but reciprocate trust with trust! The Virgin Mary embodies this attitude in the most beautiful and fullest way. She received and accepted the greatest gift: Jesus, and in turn has offered Him to humanity with a generous heart. We ask Her to help us to be “good and faithful servants”, to participate “in the joy of our Lord.”

https://zenit.org/articles/on-the-parable-of-the-talents/

See also:

https://isthatinthebible.wordpress.com/2015/04/16/did-luke-know-and-use-matthew-the-parable-of-the-talentspounds-as-a-test-case/

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Reflection by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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02 SEPTEMBER, 2017, Saturday, 21st Week, Ordinary Time
THE DANGER OF EXCLUSIVITY

SCRIPTURE READINGS: [1 TH 4:9-12MT 25:14-30 ]

Without denying the fact that all of us are unique and different, there is also the danger that an over-emphasis on our distinctiveness can lead to a situation or attitude of exclusivity.  Indeed, there is this over-exaggeration among the present generation of the need to be exclusive in the way they live.  And so we have bred a generation that wants to be members of exclusive clubs, wearing exclusive branded clothing and accessories, dining in exclusive restaurants and even worshipping in exclusive temples and churches.  Such exclusivity goes against the fundamental gospel message that whilst affirming the uniqueness of each person, it also wants all to recognize their equality and common brotherhood.

Indeed, this is the thrust of today’s scriptural readings.  St Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians speaks about the love that they had for each other throughout the whole of Macedonia.  St Paul however also urged them to live their lives in such a way that they would earn the respect of those outside the Church so that they too might come to believe and experience the all-inclusive love of God for them in Christ.  In contrast, the gospel today criticizes those who were exclusive in their attitude towards others.  This is the motif that runs throughout the parable of the talents.   When we use the rule of thumb in reading parables, the focus is always on the last person.  This third servant was entrusted with the one talent but hid it instead of investing it to earn interest.  It seems that he wanted to hide it from others so that he could exclude them from having a share in his money.

The question is, who is this third man in the parable?  Firstly, when we interpret this parable on the first level, that is, the situation of the life of Jesus, then we know that the original intention of this parable was directed at the Jewish religious leaders.  They were the ones who were steeped in the Mosaic Law and traditions.  Being so meticulous and legalistic in their observance of the laws, it could not but exclude the ordinary man and the Gentiles because they had to make a living.  If they were to observe the laws the way the Pharisees did, they would not have been able to live a normal life because their trade would have disqualified them from worship.  Hence, in condemning the third man, Jesus was hitting out at the Jewish religious leaders for leading such an exclusive spiritual life, excluding sinners from their tables and treating them as outcasts.  By so doing, they were excluding many people from the Kingdom of God.

What is said of the religious leaders in those days surely also applies to us.  Often, in trying to maintain our distinctiveness as the “holy” people of God, we also unwittingly alienate ourselves from people.  There are some of us who would not want to be seen with people who are so-called “unchristian” or “unholy.”  We regard non-Catholics, sinners, gays, divorcees and lapsed Catholics with disdain and condemnation instead of compassion and understanding.  We only want to be associated with those who are considered “saved”, whereas all others are presumed to be without grace.  Not only that, we draw too distinct a line between the clergy and the laity.  Sometimes, even our liturgy is too daunting for the laity.  At times, the Liturgy of the Hours is only promoted among the religious and the clerical world and ironically, as an “obligation” when it is meant to be the Prayer of the Church.   Some occasions too, we choose to sing hymns, especially Latin chants, which are certainly beautiful at liturgy but unappreciated fully.  This is because we have not taught them how to sing and thus exclude them from our worship.  We make them feel as if they are novices in prayer, whereas we can pray and sing in a special language, or our music is too classical for anyone without musical inclination to be able to sing.  They are reduced to mere spectators!

This is precisely what the Holy Father, Pope Francis wants to avoid, being an exclusive Church.  He preaches a Church of inclusivity and compassion, although many wrongly mistake that he has given up on the teachings of the Church with regard to marriage, divorce, same-sex couples and other “sinful situations” that Catholics find themselves in.  Indeed, the Church must uphold the teachings of Christ and the gospel.  Yet, the gospel is meant for the converted and the renewed.  The Sermon on the Mount is meant for those who were truly believers of our Lord and had experienced His unconditional love and mercy.   The teachings of Jesus cannot be lived by those whose relationship with the Lord is weak.  Unless they experience the love of Christ unconditionally first, they would not be able to find the grace to live out the gospel life.  Otherwise, we would be placing burdens upon them that they are unable to fulfill.  Instead of liberating them for the Good News, we make their spiritual life burdensome, putting guilt on them and making them miserable.  Hence, making the Catholic Church so elite and exclusive would mean closing the door to sinners and those who are struggling to come to know God and live a righteous life.  By accepting their limitations and embracing their weaknesses, we can help them to gradually grow in faith and love so that they can live the life of Christ with His grace. 

On the second level of interpretation of the early Church, this parable would be directed at the Church at large.  The historical fact is that the primitive Church, which was dominated by Jewish converts to Christianity, brought with them their Jewish traditions and customs and practices as well.  But what was unacceptable were their attempts to impose such practices on the non-Christian Jews.  We read of such manipulations and bickering in the Acts of the Apostles.  In fact, this would have been a divisive issue if it were not handled properly by the Apostles.  It would be against the gospel if, as Church, we allowed ourselves to be bogged down by petty quarrels over ecclesiastical disciplines and uniformity.  Such pre-occupations would only divide the Church further and sap us of our energy to build the kingdom of love and unity and, ironically, make us counter-witnesses of the gospel.

In the same vein, when we reflect upon ourselves as Church, we must also consider whether we are open to people who are different from us.  Have our churches become so nationalistic to the extent that we have lost our universal flavor? This can certainly happen if we allow everything to be in line with our cultures.  On the other hand, as it was in the past, the Catholic Church, in stressing unity, has also mistaken unity for uniformity and thus made laws, be it juridical or liturgical laws, that are inappropriate for those of different cultures.  Then again, in our own communities, we must reflect whether we have become so racialistic that we divide ourselves into different communities in competition with each other.  The sad situation we see in some churches is that some communities are not only neglected but they suffer discrimination by the larger communities.

Another consideration in terms of exclusivity is whether our churches have become too sectarian in the way we worship that others are excluded.  Quite often too, we have competition over the different ways we worship and the different spiritualties.  Some are intolerant of other forms of spirituality and even despise those who worship or pray in a different way.  Such spiritual snobbishness certainly is what the parable is against.  Instead of competing with each other and excluding others from our life, we are called to reach out and to share with each other whatever gifts we have.  No one has a monopoly of spiritual life and spirituality.   All are useful for the Church and for different people at different times of their life.  So we should not act in an arrogant manner, looking down on others because they have a different spirituality.

Finally, when we interpret this parable on the level of the evangelist, this parable is transformed into an eschatological parable.  It is concerned with the coming of God’s kingdom.  Here, the evangelist is exhorting us to recognize our responsibility in making the Kingdom known to others.  Between the time of the Church, that is, after ascension and the time of the second coming of Christ, symbolized by the master going away and coming back, all of us in our own ways are called to be faithful to our master by using all that we have to prepare ourselves for the kingdom and to bring more people into that kingdom.  The question is, whether we have been active in bringing Christ to others.

This is possible only if we witness to Christ with our own lives, both in words and deeds.   Every Christian is therefore called to work diligently in love to spread the gospel message that he has received.  It would indeed be a tragedy if he were to keep the Good News only for himself.  In fact, if he did, then it shows his failure to understand the fundamental message of the Good News, which is God’s vision of unifying us all into one brotherhood in love and service under His reign of love.  In this sense, the gospel reaches out to all men and women, even those from other religions.  We are called to work with them in building a community of love and peace.  We must recognize that the Holy Spirit is also at work in them invisibly in ways unknown to us.  Whenever we see truth, grace and love in their religions, we must give them due credit and exhort them to grow in the fullness of truth and grace.

.
Written by The Most Rev Msgr William Goh Archbishop of Singapore
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Barcelona van attacker may still be alive, on the run: police

August 19, 2017

By Andrés GonzálezAngus Berwick and Carlos Ruano

Reuters

The driver of the van that plowed into crowds in Barcelona, killing 13 people, may still be alive and at large, Spanish police said on Friday, denying earlier media reports that he had been shot dead in a Catalan seaside resort.

Josep Lluis Trapero, police chief in Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia, said he could not confirm the driver was one of five men killed.

A woman, center, holds a banner that reads “Today I sing for voices you dared to silence – We are not afraid” as people observe a minute of silence in memory of the terrorist attacks victims in Las Ramblas, Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Aug. 18, 2017, joined by King Felipe of Spain, second from right, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, third from right, and and Catalonia regional President Carles Puigdemont, right, on the front row. Spanish police on Friday shot and killed five people carrying bomb belts who were connected to the Barcelona van attack that killed at least 13, as the manhunt intensified for the perpetrators of Europe’s latest rampage claimed by the Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

“It is still a possibility but, unlike four hours ago, it is losing weight,” he told regional TV.

The driver abandoned the van and fled on Thursday after speeding along a section of Las Ramblas, the most famous boulevard in Barcelona, leaving a trail of dead and injured among the crowds of tourists and local residents thronging the street.

(For a graphic on Barcelona crash, click tmsnrt.rs/2fOJ9Sm)

It was the latest of a string of attacks across Europe in the past 13 months in which militants have used vehicles as weapons – a crude but deadly tactic that is near-impossible to prevent and has now killed nearly 130 people in France, Germany, Britain, Sweden and Spain.

A man touches a newspaper displaying a photograph of the aftermath of the terror attack in Las Ramblas, in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, Aug. 18, 2017. A white van jumped up onto a sidewalk and sped down a pedestrian zone Thursday in Barcelona’s historic Las Ramblas district, swerving from side to side as it plowed into tourists and residents. Police said 13 people were killed and more than 50 wounded in what they called a terror attack. Manu Fernandez AP Photo

Suspected jihadists have been behind the previous attacks. Islamic State said the perpetrators of the latest one had been responding to its call to target countries involved in a U.S.-led coalition against the Sunni militant group.

Hours after the van rampage, police shot dead five people in the Catalan resort of Cambrils, 120 km (75 miles) down the coast from Barcelona, after they drove their car at pedestrians and police officers.

The five assailants had an ax and knives in their car and wore fake explosive belts, police said. A single police officer shot four of the men, Trapero said.

A Spanish woman was killed in the Cambrils incident, while several other civilians and a police officer were injured.

Trapero had earlier said the investigation was focusing on a house in Alcanar, southwest of Barcelona, which was razed by an explosion shortly before midnight on Wednesday.

Police believe the house was being used to plan one or several large-scale attacks in Barcelona, possibly using a large number of butane gas canisters stored there.

However, the apparently accidental explosion at the house forced the conspirators to scale down their plans and to hurriedly carry out more “rudimentary” attacks, Trapero said.

FOUR ARRESTS

Police have arrested four people in connection with the attacks – three Moroccans and a citizen of Spain’s North African enclave of Melilla, Trapero said. They were aged between 21 and 34, and none had a history of terrorism-related activities.

Another three people have been identified but are still at large. Spanish media said two of them may have been killed by the blast in Alcanar while one man of Moroccan origin was still sought by the police.

Police in France are looking for the driver of a white Renault Kangoo van that may have been used by people involved in the Barcelona attack, a French police source told Reuters.

WORST SINCE 2004

It was the deadliest attack in Spain since March 2004, when Islamist militants placed bombs on commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 people.

Of 126 people injured in Barcelona and Cambrils, 65 were still in hospital and 17 were in a critical condition. The dead and injured came from 34 countries, ranging from France and Germany to Pakistan and the Philippines.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said an American citizen was confirmed dead, and Spanish media said several children were killed.

As Spain began three days of mourning, people returned to Las Ramblas, laying flowers and lighting candles in memory of the victims. Rajoy and Spain’s King Felipe visited Barcelona’s main square nearby to observe a minute’s silence.

Defiant crowds later chanted “I am not afraid” in Catalan.

Foreign leaders voiced condemnation and sympathy, including French President Emmanuel Macron, whose nation has suffered some of Europe’s deadliest recent attacks.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, speaking after media reports that some Germans were among those killed, said Islamist terrorism “can never defeat us” and vowed to press ahead with campaigning for a general election in Germany in September.

King Mohammed VI of Morocco sent his condolences to Spain.

U.S. President Donald Trump, speaking by phone with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Friday, pledged the full support of the United States in investigating the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils and bringing the perpetrators to justice.

In a message to the cardinal of Barcelona, Pope Francis said the attack was “an act of blind violence that is a grave offense to the Creator”.

Polish Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said the attack showed the European Union’s system of migrant relocation was wrong. “It is dangerous. Europe should wake up,” he said. “We are dealing here with a clash of civilisations.”

Additional reporting by Julien Toyer, Sarah White, Andres Gonzalez, Silvio Castellanos and Kylie MacLellan; Writing by Adrian Croft and Julien Toyer; Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Lisa Shumaker

Charlie Gard parents end legal fight

July 24, 2017

AFP

© AFP / by Clement BOUTIN | The parents of terminally-ill Charlie Gard read out a statement conceding they must let go after seeing their son’s latest brain scans

LONDON (AFP) – The parents of British baby Charlie Gard on Monday abandoned their legal fight to take him to the United States for experimental treatment in a case that has attracted global attention.A lawyer representing Gard’s parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard told judge Nicholas Francis at London’s High Court that “time had run out” and that they had made their decision after seeing the 11-month-old’s latest brain scans.

“We have decided it is no longer in Charlie’s best interests to pursue treatment and we will let our son go,” father Chris Gard said outside court.

“He had a real genuine chance of life. We are truly devastated.

“We are now going to spend our last precious moments with our son, who unfortunately won’t make his first birthday in just under two weeks time,” he added.

Judge Francis had been due to rule on whether there was enough new evidence to allow the parents to take the baby, who suffers from a rare genetic disorder, to the US for a type of treatment that has never been used on a human being.

Charlie suffers from a rare form of mitochondrial disease, which causes progressive muscle weakness in the heart and other key organs.

British doctors believe Gard’s brain damage is “severe and irreversible” and have said the baby “may be suffering”.

Great Ormond Street Hospital argued that Gard’s illness has left him “deprived of his senses” and that he is “without any awareness” as far as doctors can tell.

“He has no quality of life and no real prospect of any quality of life,” the hospital said.

– ‘Our son was a warrior’ –

But father Chris Gard criticised the authorities, saying “there is one simple reason why treatment cannot now go ahead, and that is time.

“Had Charlie been given the treatment sooner, he would have had the potential to be a normal, healthy little boy,” he said.

“We will have to live with the what-ifs, that will haunt us for the rest of our lives. Our son is an absolute warrior and we will miss him terribly.”

The couple fought a long legal fight to allow them to take their child out of London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), but lost in both Britain’s Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The ruling led to the intervention of both US President Donald Trump and Pope Francis, who offered to help the baby, leading to the hospital to ask the courts for a final assessment of any new evidence.

The latest legal battle saw new testimony from a US neurologist, but a lawyer also warned the boy’s parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard that latest scans made “sad reading”.

In response, Chris Gard shouted “evil”, while mother Connie burst into tears.

With emotions running high, the hospital on Saturday said that it had contacted police over a “shocking and disgraceful tide of hostility and disturbance.”

“Staff have received abuse both in the street and online,” it said.

Mother Connie responded that “we do not, and have not ever, condoned any threatening or abusive remarks towards any staff member”, but added that they too had suffered “the most hurtful comments from the public”.

Great Ormond Street Hospital said the parents “command GOSH’s utmost respect and humble all who work there”.

Scores of supporters holding blue balloons gathered outside the court for Monday’s hearing, and reacted to the news with anger, chanting: “shame on you judge” and “shame on GOSH”.

The parents now want to establish a foundation “for Charlie’s voice to be heard,” according to their lawyer Grant Armstrong.

Judge Francis paid tribute to the parents “for the love and the care they gave to their child Charlie”.

“No parents could have done more for their child,” he said.

by Clement BOUTIN

Charlie Gard’s parents discover lawyer representing terminally-ill son is head of euthanasia charity

July 17, 2017

Victoria Butler-Cole, Charlie’s lawyer, is the chairman of Compassion In Dying, which campaigns for a change in the law to make assisted dying legal in the UK

The parents of sick baby Charlie Gard are reportedly concerned the lawyer appointed to represent their baby son heads a euthanasia charity.

Victoria Butler-Cole, who speaks on Charlie’s behalf in court , is chairman of Compassion in Dying, a sister organisation to Dignity in Dying.

The charity campaigns for a change in the law to make assisted dying legal in the UK.

Dignity in Dying used to be called the Voluntary Euthanasia Society.

The two charities share the same chief executive and media team and trustees .

Trustees, like Mrs Butler-Cole – can only sit on one charity if they support the aims of the other.

Mrs Butler-Cole was appointed to the role by the publicly-funded state body Cafcass which acts in the best interests of children in court cases.

But parents Connie Yates and Chris Gard, from Bedfont, in west London, believe they should speak for Charlie in court hearings that are deciding his fate rather than a guardian representing him.

According to the Telegraph , a source close to the couple said: “The family find it astonishing. The implication is obvious. It looks like a profound conflict of interest.”

Lawyer Victoria Butler-Cole (Image: http://www.familylaw.co.uk)
Charlie is in intensive care (Image: PA)

CHARLIE GARD’S FIGHT FOR SURVIVAL AGAINST RARE DISEASE

But Compassion In Dying said it was wrong to suggest there was any conflict of interest between Mrs Butler-Cole’s role in the case and her views on assisted dying.

A spokesman said: “There are clear differences between this case, the work of Dignity In Dying and the work of Compassion In Dying. The Charlie Gard case is about making decisions in the best interests of a seriously ill child.”

Charlie Gard’s mum last week won an explosive battle with Great Ormond Street Hospital as a court ruled she can attend crunch doctors’ meeting about her son’s treatment.

Connie Yates will be allowed to join US neurologist Professor Michio Hirano, who is flying in from New York today, to see if the sick tot will benefit from an untested therapy.

Great Ormond Street Hospital, who is caring for Charlie , tried to stop the 31-year-old from attending because it believed doctors would not necessarily ‘speak freely’ in her company.

The 11-month-old’s exasperated parents yelled “he’s our son!” as they clashed with opposition lawyers in the High Court for a second time on Friday.

Last week, the couple stormed out of court; shouting to the judge and leaving their son’s teddy bear behind.

The hospital suggested a “full and open” discussion between experts about Charlie’s condition – mitochondrial disease – could not take place with his parents present.

Katie Gollop QC, representing the hospital, said: “I think there needs to be a very full and open discussion between treating clinicians, potentially of a fairly scientific level.

“Nothing that I have said on that issue is for any improper purpose. It is to facilitate the provision of best evidence, and not for any other purpose.”

The judge said: “Do you mean the various clinicians involved will be reluctant to say it as it is with the parents there?

“I wonder whether there is anything that can be said they couldn’t deal with, because they have had to deal with so much.”

Ms Gollop said: “Very much of what has been said has been enormously difficult. Such that there there has been some disturbance, and leaving the court.

“I am not confident we can have a situation where they are not.”

It was at this point that Mr Gard interjected: “He’s our son!”

Connie and Chris arriving at the Royal Courts of Justice (Image: Splash News)

Connie’s lawyer Grant Armstrong argued she should be allowed in as she is now an expert on his syndrome, which causes muscle ­weakness and brain damage.

He said: “Connie Yates has almost as much understanding of these technical issues as anyone in the UK.”

She and partner Chris Gard, 32, said the victory was “excellent news” after doctors lost the fight to keep her out.

Their spokesman Alasdair Seton-Marsden added: “Great Ormond Street Hospital tried to block the parents from a meeting about their own child.

“After protracted legal discussions, the court decided that mum could attend.

“We are delighted Connie will now be at the meeting with Professor Michio Hirano, the world’s leading expert in Charlie’s condition.”

On Thursday, Charlie’s furious parents stormed out of a High Court hearing about their son’s fate after a disagreement with the judge.

Chris Gard stood up and said: “I thought this was supposed to be independent”, before he and his partner, Connie Yates, walked out without warning.

The couple, reportedly left their 11-month-old child’s favourite cuddly monkey toy behind in the London courtroom.

The parents of critically ill baby Charlie Gard (Image: REUTERS)

Prof Hirano thinks experimental nucleoside bypass therapy could improve Charlie’s dire condition, giving his parents hope in their battle to keep him alive.

After ­studying the 11-month-old for himself, he will sit down at a meeting with all of the international experts who have provided opinion in the case.

Mr Armstrong told the High Court: “This could be described as the most critical meeting in this case in terms of the professionals, and the skill of the professionals travelling from America and from Italy merely ­underlines just how important it is.”

Charlie’s parents, of Bedfont, West London, want to take him to the US, or a hospital in Rome, for the therapy.

It has not been trialled on humans. But Prof Hirano estimated it would give at least a 10% chance of improvement in muscle strength and a “small but ­significant” boost in brain ­function.

Neurologist Professor Michio Hirano, an expert in Charlie’s condition (Image: Columbia University)
  • Key moments in Charlie Gard’s life

Great Ormond Street invited Prof Hirano and others to visit Charlie in January, it was revealed yesterday. The hospital’s barrister Katie Gollop QC said he had yet to visit for “reasons the hospital simply doesn’t understand”.

UK doctors believe Charlie has ­irreversible brain damage and should be allowed to die with dignity. In April, the High Court granted permission for the youngster’s life support to be withdrawn.

Connie and Chris took their case to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court but lost. And the European Court of Human Rights refused to intervene.

The High Court will sit again on July 24, with Mr Justice Francis hopeful of delivering a final ruling the next day.

Connie and Chris yesterday condemned internet trolls who have launched a sick hate campaign against the hospital, its staff and legal team.

Mr Seton-Marsden said: “Under no circumstances does any member of Charlie’s family or true supporters condone any such action.”

Connie Yates leaving the Supreme Court on June 8 (Image: PA)

Charlie, who has a rare genetic condition, has survived two plans to withdraw his life support.

His parents, of Bedfont, south-west London, thought they had reached the end of the road last week, after four courts ruled in favour of Great Ormond Street Hospital doctors who said Charlie was brain-damaged beyond hope, and that it was kinder to let him die.

But Pope Francis and Donald Trump electrified the public campaign to ‘save Charlie’ with supportive tweets.

The court heard that White House staff contacted the American doctor shortly before he made his claims about Charlie. He then spoke with Great Ormond Street on July 4.

Two days later, a letter was sent by the doctor and six other experts in Charlie’s condition to the hospital.

It led to Great Ormond Street asking the High Court to reconsider the claimed “new evidence”.

Ill UK baby Charlie Gard Not Allowed Treatment Elsewhere — Hospital turns off Charlie’s life support systems — Evidence that Charlie’s condition could have potentially improved — Does the hospital and the state “own” human life?

July 8, 2017

Great Ormond Street hospital says move comes ‘in light of claims of new evidence relating to potential treatment’

Charlie Gard
 Charlie Gard’s parents have been fighting to be allowed to take their son to a US hospital for treatment. Photograph: Family handout/PA

Great Ormond Street hospital has applied to the high court for a fresh hearing in the case of critically ill baby Charlie Gard, to decide whether it is in the baby’s interests to be given an experimental drug.

The application to the court follows a letter from seven doctors urging the hospital to reconsider the possibility of treatment.

The clinicians and researchers say in their letter, sent from the Vatican children’s hospital in Rome, that unpublished data suggests that 11 month-old Charlie’s condition could potentially improve if he is given experimental nucleoside therapy.

Great Ormond Street hospital won permission from the courts to turn off Charlie’s life support systems, on the advice of its own experts. They said his condition, caused by a rare mitochondrial disease, was irreversible and that further treatment could cause him suffering.

But the hospital now wants the court to decide whether Charlie should be given the experimental drug, as urged by doctors in the United States and Rome.

“Two international hospitals and their researchers have communicated to us as late as the last 24 hours that they have fresh evidence about their proposed experimental treatment,” the hospital said in a statement after a meeting with Charlie’s parents, Connie Yates and Chris Gard, who have fought to keep his treatment going.

“And we believe, in common with Charlie’s parents, it is right to explore this evidence.”

Speaking outside Great Ormond Street hospital after the news of the high court application, Yates said: “We are quite happy with this outcome and we are hopeful and confident that Charlie may get his chance now.”

Read the rest:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/07/charlie-gard-hospital-applies-to-high-court-for-fresh-hearing

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London Hospital Reconsiders Decision to Turn Off Sick Baby’s Life Support

LONDON — In an abrupt shift, a London hospital said on Friday that it would reconsider its decision to turn off life support for Charlie Gard, a brain-damaged and terminally ill British infant, in light of “fresh evidence” about a potential treatment.

The statement from Great Ormond Street Hospital was the latest twist in a case that has raised difficult bioethical and legal questions, and has caught the attention of Pope Francis and President Trump.

Charlie, 11 months old, has a rare and debilitating genetic condition that has no cure, and the hospital had said that letting him die was the only humane option to end his potential pain and suffering. The hospital, where the boy has lived since October, won a series of court rulings, most recently last week, authorizing it to withdraw life support.

On Friday afternoon, however, the hospital changed course.

“Two international hospitals and their researchers have communicated to us as late as the last 24 hours that they have fresh evidence about their proposed experimental treatment,” the hospital said in the statement. “And we believe, in common with Charlie’s parents, it is right to explore this evidence.”

The boy’s parents are convinced that an experimental therapy, developed by a neurologist in the United States, may help their son recover some functions — even though it has never been tested on someone with Charlie’s particularly severe form of the disease, known as mitochondrial DNA depletion syndrome.

The hospital said on Friday that it had not changed its view that Charlie had experienced “catastrophic and irreversible brain damage” and that the experimental treatment, known as nucleoside therapy, “would be futile and would prolong Charlie’s suffering.”

Nonetheless, the hospital said, it would ask the High Court — which on April 11 ruled in the hospital’s favor — to look at the case again “in light of the claimed new evidence.” The hospital added, “This is not an issue about money or resources, but absolutely about what is right for Charlie.”

Read the rest:

Pope sacks cardinal in charge of sex abuse cases, a conservative critic

July 2, 2017

Image result for st peter's, vatican, photos

Rome: Pope Francis has sacked the head of the Vatican office that handles sex abuse cases, just days after he released Australian cardinal George Pell to return home to face charges of historical sexual assault.

The developments underscored how the Catholic Church’s sex abuse crisis has caught up with Francis, threatening to tarnish his legacy.

Francis on Saturday declined to renew the mandate of German cardinal Gerhard Mueller as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that processes and evaluates all cases of priests accused of raping or molesting minors.

Most incumbents keep the post until they retire, which in Mueller’s case would have been in six years. Francis named Mueller’s deputy, Monsignor Luis Ladaria Ferrer, a 73-year-old Spanish Jesuit, to run the powerful office instead.

Ladaria is said by those who know him to be a soft-spoken person who shuns the limelight. Mueller, by contrast, often appears in the media.

“They speak the same language and Ladaria is someone who is meek. He does not agitate the Pope and does not threaten him,” said a priest who works in the Vatican and knows both Mueller and Ladaria, asking not to be named.

During Mueller’s five-year term, the congregation amassed a 2000-case backlog and came under blistering criticism from Irish abuse survivor Marie Collins, who had been tapped by Francis in 2014 to advise the church on caring for abuse victims and protecting children from paedophile priests.

Collins resigned from the papal commission in March, citing the “unacceptable” level of resistance from Mueller’s office to heeding the commission’s proposals.

In May, Francis said her criticism of the slow pace in processing abuse cases was justified and announced he was adding more staff to handle the overload.

Earlier this year he also named Cardinal Sean O’Malley as a member of the congregation in hopes of ensuring better cooperation.

Mueller is one of several cardinals in the Vatican who have publicly sparred with the Pope.

In 2015 both he and Cardinal Pell were among 13 cardinals who signed a secret letter to the Pope complaining that a meeting of bishops discussing family issues was stacked in favour of liberals. The letter was leaked, embarrassing the signatories.

“Clearly, the Pope and Cardinal Mueller have not been on the same page for five years,” the priest said.

Mueller has criticised parts of a 2016 papal treatise called “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love), a cornerstone document of Francis’ attempt to make the 1.2 billion-member Church more inclusive and less condemning.

In it, Francis called for a Church that is less strict and more compassionate towards any “imperfect” members, such as those who divorced and remarried, saying “no one can be condemned forever”.

“This gives the Pope the chance to finally place his own man in a very important spot,” said the Reverend James Martin, an editor-at-large for the Catholic magazine America and a consultant to the Vatican’s Secretariat for Communication. “For many admirers of [Pope] Benedict [XVI], Cardinal Mueller was the last link to Benedict’s way of doing things.”

Taken together, the departure of two arch-conservatives is a serious setback to critics of Francis. They do not see the Pope as an avuncular pastor but instead fear that he is a deft political operator in the midst of a house-cleaning of conservatives.

During the Pope’s trip to Philadelphia in September 2015, Mueller said “it’s not possible” for violators of church doctrine on divorce, homosexuality or abortion to be welcomed completely back into the church. “It’s not an academic doctrine, it’s the word of God,” he said.

Asked in the interview whether the Pope was as tough a boss as many critics in the Vatican suggested, Mueller grinned and said: “It’s a secret.”

When it was noted that his staying in his job seemed like a promising sign, Mueller laughed.

AP, Reuters, New York Times

Pope shakes up Vatican by replacing conservative doctrinal chief — Francis fighting the Vatican’s “Deep State”

July 2, 2017

Reuters

Newly elected cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Muller of Germany arrives during a consistory ceremony led by Pope Francis in Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican February 22, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
By Philip Pullella | VATICAN CITY

In a major shake-up of the Vatican’s administration on Saturday, Pope Francis replaced Catholicism’s top theologian, a conservative German cardinal who has been at odds with the pontiff’s vision of a more inclusive Church.

A brief Vatican statement said Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller’s five-year mandate as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a department charged with defending Catholic doctrine, would not be renewed.

The position is the most important one that a pope fills in the Vatican hierarchy after the Secretary of State. Most incumbents keep it until they retire, which in Mueller’s case would have been in six years.

Mueller, 69, who was appointed by former Pope Benedict in 2012, will be succeeded by the department’s number two, Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer.

Ladaria, a 73-year-old Spaniard who, like the Argentine pope is a member of the Jesuit order, is said by those who know him to be a soft-spoken person who shuns the limelight. Mueller, by contrast, often appears in the media.

“They speak the same language and Ladaria is someone who is meek. He does not agitate the pope and does not threaten him,” said a priest who works in the Vatican and knows both Mueller and Ladaria, asking not to be named.

Since his election in 2013, Francis has given hope to progressives who want him to forge ahead with his vision for a more welcoming Church that concentrates on mercy rather than the strict enforcement of rigid rules they see as antiquated.

Mueller is one of several cardinals in the Vatican who have publicly sparred with the pope.

SECOND CONSERVATIVE DEPARTURE IN THREE DAYS

His departure follows the high-profile exit of fellow conservative Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican economy minister who took a leave of absence on Thursday to face charges of historical sexual abuse in his native Australia.

In 2015 both were among 13 cardinals who signed a secret letter to the pope complaining that a meeting of bishops discussing family issues was stacked in favor of liberals. The letter was leaked, embarrassing the signatories.

“Clearly, the pope and Cardinal Mueller have not been on the same page for five years,” the priest said.

Mueller has criticized parts of a 2016 papal treatise called “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love), a cornerstone document of Francis’ attempt to make the 1.2 billion-member Church more inclusive and less condemning.

In it, Francis called for a Church that is less strict and more compassionate toward any “imperfect” members, such as those who divorced and remarried, saying “no one can be condemned forever”.

Conservatives have concentrated their criticism on the document’s opening to Catholics who divorce and remarry in civil ceremonies, without getting Church annulments.

Under Church law they cannot receive communion unless they abstain from sex with their new partner, because their first marriage is still valid in the eyes of the Church and therefore they are seen to be living in an adulterous state of sin.

In the document the pope sided with progressives who had proposed an “internal forum” in which a priest or bishop decide jointly with the individual on a case-by-case basis if he or she can be fully re-integrated and receive communion.

After the document was published Catholic bishops in some countries, including Germany, enacted guidelines on how priests could allow some divorced and remarried Catholics to receive the sacraments.

But Mueller has said there should be no exceptions, making him a hero to conservatives who have made the issue a rallying point for their opposition to Francis.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; editing by Helen Popper and Jason Neely)

Related:

Pope dismisses doctrine chief after reform clashes — “Deep state” at the Vatican?

July 1, 2017

AFP

© AFP | Pope Francis has dismissed the church’s chief of doctrine

VATICAN CITY (AFP) – Pope Francis has dismissed the church’s chief of doctrine Cardinal Gerhard Mueller — one of the most powerful cardinals at the Vatican — and appointed a Spanish Archbishop to the role, the Vatican said Saturday.

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German conservative Mueller, 69, who served a five-year posting as head of the powerful department responsible for church doctrine, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), had clashed with the pope over key reform issues.

He was one of several cardinals who questioned Francis’s determination for the Catholic Church to take a softer line on people traditionally seen as “sinners”, including remarried divorced people who want to take Communion.

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, right, walks to the Vatican alongside Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn. Credit Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press

Mueller had also been caught up in the controversy surrounding the Church’s response to the clerical sex abuse scandal after his department was accused earlier this year of obstructing Francis’s efforts to stop internal cover-ups of abuse.

The Vatican said Mueller’s five-year term would not be renewed and he would be replaced by CDF Secretary Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, a 73-year-old Spaniard.

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The Associated Press

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has declined to renew the mandate of the Vatican’s conservative doctrine chief, tapping instead the No. 2 to lead the powerful congregation that handles sex abuse cases and guarantees Catholic orthodoxy around the world.

In a short statement Saturday, the Vatican said Francis thanked Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller for his service. Müller’s five-year term ends this weekend and he turns 75 in December, the normal retirement age for bishops.

Francis could have kept him on, but declined to do so. The two have clashed over the pope’s opening to allowing civilly remarried Catholics to receive communion. Müller has insisted they cannot, given church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.

Francis tapped the No. 2 in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Jesuit Monsignor Luis Ferrer, to succeed Müller.