Pope Resuscitates South Sudan Visit

Pope Resuscitates South Sudan Visit

Pope Francis has declared his ambition to visit South Sudan two years after a planned 2017 trip was cancelled because of the civil war in the world’s youngest country.

Concise News gathered the Pope during a meeting with South Sudanese President SalvaKiir on Saturday, expressed his desire to visit the country.

“expressed the wish to ascertain the conditions for a possible visit to South Sudan,” a Vatican statement said.

It added that he wanted to make the trip as “a sign of closeness to the population and of encouragement for the peace process”.

Oil-producing South Sudan, which became independent in 2011, descended into civil war in December 2013 when a dispute between Kiir and his sacked deputy RiekMachar sparked fighting, often along ethnic lines.

About 400,000 people have been killed, and more than a third of the country’s 12 million people uprooted by the civil war – a conflict punctuated by multiple rounds of mediation followed by renewed bloodshed.

In September, Kiir, who is Catholic, and Machar, a Presbyterian, signed a peace deal calling on the two main rival factions to assemble, screen and train their respective forces and unify them into a national army before the formation of a unity government in May.

Three days ago, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group said in a report that the six-month-old peace deal risked collapse because none of these steps has occurred, just two months before the deadline.

More than half of the population of South Sudan is Christian, while Sudan is predominantly Muslim.

In 2017, Catholic Church leaders in the country said they had expected the pope would visit the capital, Juba, in the autumn of that year. The tentative plans were scrapped because of security concerns.

The original trip was to have lasted only one day for security reasons and the pope was to have flown in after spending a night in another African country.

Convicted French cardinal Barbarin to meet Pope Francis Monday

Convicted French cardinal Barbarin to meet Pope Francis Monday

French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, who received a six-month suspended jail sentence for failing to report sex abuse by a priest under his authority, will meet Pope Francis at the Vatican on Monday, officials in his southeastern Lyon diocese said.

Barbarin, the most senior French cleric caught up in the global paedophilia scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church, had said after his conviction last week that he would travel to Rome to tender his resignation.

The pontiff will grant the 68-year-old archbishop of Lyon a private audience at 10am (0900GMT), French church officials said.

On March 7 a court in Lyon found Barbarin guilty of failing to report allegations that a priest, Bernard Preynat, had abused boy scouts in the Lyon area in the 1980s and 1990s.

The priest, who was charged in 2016, is expected to be tried this year.

Barbarin’s lawyer immediately announced plans to fight the landmark ruling, which was hailed by abuse victims as ushering in a new period of accountability in the French church.

His trial came as Pope Francis battles to restore faith in the church following a slew of abuse scandals that have spanned the globe, from Australia to Chile and the United States.

Less than a week after Barbarin’s conviction the Vatican’s former number three, Australian Cardinal George Pell, was sentenced to six years in prison by a Melbourne court for the “brazen” sexual abuse of two choirboys.

Barbarin, an arch-conservative who took over as archbishop in Lyon in 2002, was an outspoken opponent of gay marriage.

He had long been accused by victims’ groups in Lyon of turning a blind eye to child abuse in his diocese which blighted dozens of lives.

“I cannot see what I am guilty of,” Barbarin told the court at the start of the trial in January. “I never tried to hide, let alone cover up, these horrible facts.”

But the court found otherwise, saying the archbishop, “in all conscience”, chose not to tell authorities of the abuse allegations “in order to preserve the institution to which he belongs”. Two other senior French religious figures have been convicted of failing to report child abuse in the past: Pierre Rican, the archbishop of Bayeux-Lisieux, in 2001, and the former bishop of Orleans, Andre Fort, last year.

Pope dedicates March prayer intention to new Christian martyrs – cruxnow.com

Pope dedicates March prayer intention to new Christian martyrs – cruxnow.com

Coptic Christians protest against the killings of people during clashes in Cairo between Christian protesters and military police, and what the demonstrators say is persecution of Christians, in Los Angeles, California October 16, 2011. (Credit: Reuters/David McNew.)

ROME – During the month of March, Pope Francis has asked believers to pray for Christians around the world who may face death for making the sign of the cross, reading the Bible, going to Mass on Sunday, or generally expressing their faith in public.

“It might be hard for us to believe, but there are more martyrs today than in the first centuries,” Francis says in this month’s edition of “The Pope Video.”

Christians are being killed he says, because “they speak the truth and proclaim Jesus Christ,” risking oppression and physical harm even “in countries where, in theory and on paper, they protect freedom and human rights.”

According to the papal foundation Aid to the Church in Need, the fundamental human right of religious freedom is gravely threatened in 38 countries.

“In many places around the world, religious freedom isn’t an idea; it’s a question of survival,” said Thomas Heine-Geldern, executive president of ACN. “It’s not about whether you feel more or less comfortable with the ideological foundations underlying religious freedom; it’s about how to avoid a bloodbath!”

A statement released by The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network accompanying the video, released on Tuesday, details some of the most recent attacks against Christians, including a bombing during Mass at the Cathedral of Jolo in the Philippines, where 23 people were killed. It also notes that 40 missionaries were murdered in 2018, 35 of whom were priests.

“Some cases have gotten more media coverage, such as that of Asia Bibi, the Pakistani mother accused of blasphemy, condemned to death and then freed after 9 years of prison,” the statement reads. “There’s also the case of the 21 Egyptians who were decapitated in 2015, and the massacre at Pershawar in December of 2014, when more than 130 students were massacred.”

Yet most cases go unnoticed, the group said, as they’re too many to track down. Hence Francis’s decision to make the papal prayer intention for the month of March the Christian communities, “especially those who are persecuted,” so they “feel that they are close to Christ and have their rights respected.”

According to a 2018 report by Open Doors USA, there are more than 215 million Christians persecuted worldwide, and one in 12 live in countries where Christianity is “illegal, forbidden, or punished.”

The countries where Christians face constant danger are found on every continent: from North Korea and China in Asia, to Nigeria and Somalia in Africa, with Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Syria in the Middle East and also countries such as Colombia and Mexico in the Americas.

The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, founded in 1844 as the Apostleship of Prayer, is a Jesuit-run initiative to encourage prayer on a specific papal intention each month.

Pope visits Rome Parish, decries gossip

Pope visits Rome Parish, decries gossip

On Sunday afternoon Pope Francis crossed the city to visit the Parish of St. Crispin from Viterbo in the northern periphery of Rome.

By Vatican News

Pope Francis spent time on Sunday afternoon with the parishioners of the Church of St. Crispin from Viterbo on the outskirts of Rome.

He was welcomed by the Cardinal Vicar, Angelo De Donatis, and by other Church authorities as wells as by the parish priest, fr Luciano Cacciamani.

During his visit to the parish, the Pope spent some time with children and young people involved in catechism classes as well as with a group of poor and  homeless people who are assisted by the Community of St. Egidio, and with a group of sick and disabled people.

His visit wrapped up with the celebration of Holy Mass. During the homily he reflected on the Gospel reading of the day and offered two recommendations: the first to engage in prayer, and the second to avoid gossiping and speaking badly of others.

Bail revoked for most senior Catholic cleric ever convicted of sex abuse – nbcnews

Bail revoked for most senior Catholic cleric ever convicted of sex abuse – nbcnews

The Vatican’s economy minister was convicted of molesting two choirboys in 1996

MELBOURNE, Australia — The most senior Catholic cleric ever charged with child sex abuse has been convicted of molesting two choirboys moments after celebrating Mass, dealing a new blow to the Catholic hierarchy’s credibility after a year of global revelations of abuse and cover-up.

Cardinal George Pell, Pope Francis’ top financial adviser and the Vatican’s economy minister, bowed his head but then regained his composure as the 12-member jury delivered unanimous verdicts in the Victoria state County Court on Dec. 11 after more than two days of deliberation.

The court had until Tuesday forbidden publication of any details about the trial.

Pell faces a potential maximum 50-year prison term.

On Wednesday, a judge revoked the cardinal’s bail and said he would announce the disgraced cleric’s sentence March 13.

The bail revocation means Pell mjust remain jailed until then.

Victorian state County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd said Pell was guilty of a breach of trust with an element of brutality and had had a sense of impunity. He said, “I see this as callus, brazen offending — blatant.”

The 77-year-old former Vatican economy minister showed no expression as he walked from the dock with a cane escorted by three court security officers and a prison guard.

Details of the trial had been suppressed because until Tuesday, Pell had faced a second trial in April on charges that he indecently assaulted two boys aged 9 or 10 and 11 or 12 as a young priest in the late 1970s in a public pool in his hometown of Ballarat.

Prosecutor Fran Dalziel told the court on Tuesday that the Ballarat charges had been dropped and asked for the suppression order to be lifted.

The victim who testified at Pell’s trial said after the conviction was revealed that he has experienced “shame, loneliness, depression and struggle.” In his statement, the man said it had taken him years to understand the impact the assault had on his life.

Lawyer Lisa Flynn said the father of the second victim, who died of a heroin overdose in 2014 at the age of 31, is planning to sue the church or Pell individually once the appeal is resolved.

Pell’s lawyer, Robert Richter, initially wanted details of the trial suppressed until his appeal was heard, but later withdraw the application.

Pell was surrounded by a crush of cameras and members of the public as he was ushered from the courthouse to a waiting car. “You’re a monster!” one man shouted. “You’re going to burn in hell, you freak!”

“Are you sorry?” one woman shouted. Pell did not respond.

Another of Pell’s lawyers, Paul Galbally, said Pell continued to maintain his innocence.

The revelations came in the same month that the Vatican announced Francis approved the expulsion from the priesthood of a former high-ranking American cardinal, Theodore McCarrick, for sexual abuse of minors and adults.

The convictions were also confirmed days after Francis concluded his extraordinary summit of Catholic leaders summoned to Rome for a tutorial on preventing clergy sexual abuse and protecting children from predator priests.

The jury convicted Pell of abusing two boys whom he had caught swigging sacramental wine in a rear room of Melbourne’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral in late 1996, as hundreds of worshippers were streaming out of Sunday services.

Pell, now 77 but 55 at the time, had just been named the most senior Catholic in Australia’s second-largest city, Melbourne.

The boys were both 13 years old. The jury also found Pell guilty of indecently assaulting one of the boys in a corridor more than a month later.

Pell had maintained his innocence throughout, describing the accusations as “vile and disgusting conduct” that went against everything he believed in.

Richter, his lawyer, had told the jury that only a “mad man” would take the risk of abusing boys in such a public place. He said it was “laughable” that Pell would have been able to expose his penis and force the victim to take it in his mouth, given the cumbersome robes he was wearing.

Both he and Chief Judge Peter Kidd urged the jury of eight men and four women not to punish Pell for all the failings of the Catholic Church, which in Australia have been staggering.

“You must not scapegoat Cardinal Pell,” Kidd told the jury.

Along with Ireland and the U.S., Australia has been devastated by the impact of the clerical abuse scandal, with a Royal Commission inquiry finding that 4,444 people reported they had been abused at more than 1,000 Catholic institutions across Australia between 1980 and 2015.

Pell’s downfall will invariably tarnish the pope, since Francis appointed Pell economy minister in 2014 even though some of the allegations against him were known at the time.

In October, Francis finally cut Pell loose, removing him as a member of his informal cabinet. Pell technically remains prefect of the Vatican’s economy ministry, but his five-year term expires this year and is not expected to be renewed.

Pope Francis’s comments linking church critics to the devil criticised by abuse victims – abc.net.

Pope Francis’s comments linking church critics to the devil criticised by abuse victims – abc.net.

By Europe correspondent Bridget Brennan at the Vatican.

Abuse victims have hit out at comments made by Pope Francis after he labelled the church’s critics “friends of the devil”.

Key points:

  • Pope Francis said those who spend their lives accusing the church are related to the devil
  • Victims said the comments resembled a “Trumpian tantrum”
  • The Pope has called for “concrete” steps to combat child sexual abuse in the church

During a speech to pilgrims from southern Italy on Wednesday, Pope Francis said “defects” from the church had to be denounced so they could be corrected, and those who criticise “without love” were linked to the devil.

“One cannot live a whole life of accusing, accusing, accusing, the church,” Pope Francis said.

“Who is the accuser? Who in the Bible is called the Great Accuser? The devil.

“Those who spend their lives accusing, accusing, accusing are not the devil’s children because the devil has none.

“[They are] friends, cousins and relatives of the devil, and this is wrong.”

The comments were made on the eve of the Vatican’s landmark summit into the protection of minors, with 190 bishops and heads of Catholic religious orders travelling to the Holy See to ensure church leaders are held accountable to victims.

British victims’ advocate Pete Saunders said the Pope’s comments proved he was “not really interested in bringing real change”.

Mr Saunders was previously a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors but was put on leave when he openly chastised the Pope’s response to revelations of clerical abuse in Chile.

“To attack us and to say that we are friends, relatives and cousins of the devil, I put it down to a kind of Trumpian tantrum,” Mr Saunders said.

“I think whatever credibility the Pope had, I think has now been completely extinguished.”

Mr Saunders said the Pope’s comments could even endanger people in some parts of the world where his words are followed very closely.

“It may endanger the lives, actually endanger the lives of survivors who speak out,” he said.

“And of course, it may even endanger the lives of priests and others around the world.”

During the opening address of the summit at the Vatican, Pope Francis told church leaders to “hear the cries of the little ones”, and urged bishops to consider “concrete” measures to deal with the abuse crisis.

“The holy people of God look to us and expect from us not simple and obvious condemnations, but concrete and effective measures,” he said.

The summit heard harrowing testimonials from victims of abuse, including a woman who said she was raped by her parish priest over the course of 13 years.

The survivor said she fell pregnant three times but the priest forced her to have multiple abortions.

Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge said the Pope had given strong indications of the types of changes he would like bishops to consider.

He said the abuse crisis could prompt a “renegotiation of the relationship between church and state”.

But he said he would not budge on his view of upholding church secrecy rules for confession, meaning clergy do not have to report priests who disclose abuse in confession.