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Cardinal Parolin: Monaco shows positive Church-state relationship can exist

July 20, 2021 Catholic News Agency 0
Cardinal Pietro Parolin in St. Peter’s Basilica April 27, 2017. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Monaco, Jul 20, 2021 / 07:35 am (CNA).

Cardinal Pietro Parolin said on Sunday that the tiny Mediterranean principality of Monaco shows that “a positive relationship can exist between the Church and the state.”

The Vatican Secretary of State made the remark during a July 18 meeting with clergy in the world’s second-smallest sovereign state after Vatican City.

In his address, Parolin noted that Catholicism is Monaco’s official state religion, a special status that he said was now “unique” in Europe.

“A certain kind of secularism has undoubtedly strengthened in Europe since the French Revolution, which has favored the development of a social confrontation,” he said at the meeting in Monaco Cathedral.

“Indeed, secularism claims to exclude religion from the domain of civil life, relegating it to a mere personal fact. However, where the religious factor is denied a place in society, certain points of reference, which allow for harmonious social development, disappear.”

“The Monégasque model, on the other hand, highlights the fact that a positive relationship can exist between the Church and the state, and more generally between the civil authorities and the religious authorities.”

The Secretary of State was visiting Monaco, which has a population of almost 39,000 people, to mark the 40th anniversary of the elevation of the Diocese of Monaco, which is directly subject to the Holy See, to the rank of an archdiocese.

The trip was the latest in a series of European journeys undertaken by Parolin. At the end of June, he traveled to Germany to mark the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the country and the Holy See, followed by a trip to Strasbourg, France.

Parolin told Vatican News: “In fact, the visits I make are above all an encouragement to continue on the path of the Gospel, despite the difficulties. These are challenges I think the Church in Monaco also experiences.”

“Even though there is a special relationship with the state, it is true that society is tending more and more to become de-Christianized, to move away from the principles of faith.”

“So being here, on behalf of the pope, is a way of saying go forward and try to fulfill your mission, in a reality that is different from others, perhaps richer and more affluent in ways, but that, precisely for this reason, needs the values of the Gospel.”

In his speech to clergy, Parolin underlined that Monaco’s law guarantees religious freedom.

“It is a positive synergy between the state and the Church which is born of history and which, at the same time, becomes a guarantee for religious freedom of everyone, in a modern context dictated by an ever more marked religious and cultural pluralism,” he commented.

“It is clear, therefore, that in Monaco it is clearly stated that the contribution of religion to the development of society is useful, even necessary, well beyond the religion that each person professes.”

He concluded: “At the same time, it is worth noting that in light of Article 9 of the 1962 Constitution (‘The Catholic, Apostolic, and Roman religion is the religion of the State,’) the Church does not seek privileges.”

“On the contrary, she sees in it the possibility of fulfilling her evangelizing mission in the best possible way, which, as Pope Francis has repeatedly emphasized, echoing Benedict XVI, is not proselytizing.”


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Pope Francis prays for victims of Florida building collapse

June 26, 2021 Catholic News Agency 0
Pope Francis prays before the tomb of St. Paul VI in the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica, Nov. 2, 2020. / Vatican Media/Catholic News Agency

Washington D.C., Jun 26, 2021 / 13:01 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis on Saturday offered prayers and condolences to all those affected by a deadly condominium building collapse in Florida this week.

Early on Thursday morning, the 12-story Champlain Towers beachfront condominium building in Surfside, Florida, partially collapsed. As of Saturday morning, four people had been declared dead and 159 people were still unaccounted for in the collapse, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said.

In a June 26 message of solidarity on behalf of Pope Francis to Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said the Holy Father wished to “express his deep sadness at the grievous loss of life” in the building collapse.

Pope Francis “offers heartfelt prayer that Almighty God will grant eternal peace to those who have died, comfort to those who mourn their loss, and strength to all those affected by this immense tragedy,” the Vatican stated.

“With gratitude for the tireless efforts of the rescue workers and all engaged in caring for the injured, the grieving families and those left homeless, Pope Francis invokes upon the entire community the spiritual gifts of consolation, fortitude and perseverance in every good,” the message stated.

The Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, transmitted the message to Archbishop Wenski.

Mayor Cava noted at a Saturday morning press conference that 127 people had been accounted for in the collapse.

The pastor at nearby St. Joseph’s Catholic parish, located just several blocks away from the condominium complex, told CNA on Friday afternoon that nine families from the parish who lived in the complex were still missing. Some of them were daily communicants, the pastor, Fr. Juan Sosa, said.

The total number of persons unaccounted for in the collapse, 159, had not changed in between Friday and Saturday morning, according to authorities.

Three other parish families who lived in the complex were either not present at the time of the collapse, or evacuated the building in time, Fr. Sosa said, and “for this, I am grateful,” he added.

“The entire community, however, is praying for those we do not know about,” he said. A Mass was scheduled to be offered at St. Joseph’s on Friday morning for all those affected by the collapse.

“May the Lord grant us much hope and peace at this time and always!” he said.

Mayor Cava on Saturday said that a fire in the rubble of the collapse has become an obstacle to the search and rescue team on site. The smoke has spread laterally in the rubble, she said.

“Our top priority now continues to be search and rescue,” she said. “Our teams have not stopped.”

Jackie Carrion, a senior staffer with the archdiocesan Catholic Charities, told Florida Catholic of the sadness at the scene at the collapse.

“I have worked hurricanes, but nothing like this: It is just a look of sadness you see on everyone’s face. It is heartbreaking,” she said.

The chairman of the Miami-Dade board of county commissioners, Jose “Pepe” Diaz, on Saturday urged continued prayer for the victims and the rescue teams.

“Your prayers have been extremely well-received. Please continue the prayers, they’re very important,” he said at the Saturday morning press conference.

On Friday, Archbishop Wenski also offered prayers for the victims and their families.  

A staffer for Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami told CNA on Friday that the organization is accepting financial donations for families affected by the tragedy, is providing counseling, and is looking into temporary housing for residents who are homeless due to the collapse.

Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in Miami reported in a Facebook post on Friday morning that members of the school community were among those still unaccounted for. Another post on the school’s page asked followers to pray a rosary on Monday, June 28, at 8 p.m. local time, in the Garrido Family Plaza.

“In times of such sadness, we must remain faithful to our heavenly Father and place our trust in Him,” the post stated. “Under the statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and together as a Belen family, we will place all those affected by this tragedy in the hands of Our Lady of Belen.”

St. Patrick Catholic parish, located in nearby Miami Beach, also reported a parishioner missing in the collapse, Florida Catholic noted.


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Pope Francis, Jane Goodall speak on ‘what it means to be human’ at Vatican health conference

May 8, 2021 Catholic News Agency 8
Pope Francis greets a child in St. Peter’s Square during the general audience on April 20, 2016. Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Vatican City, May 8, 2021 / 10:30 am (CNA).

Pope Francis and Jane Goodall both offered perspectives on “what it means to be human” on the final day of an online Vatican health conference on Saturday.

In a video message to the virtual conference on May 8, the pope said that Saint Augustine’s words in “The Confessions” are timeless: “Man is himself a great deep.”

“The Scriptures, and philosophical and theological reflection in particular, have employed the concept of ‘soul’ to define our uniqueness as human beings and the specificity of the person, which is irreducible to any other living being and includes our openness to a supernatural dimension and thus to God,” the pope said.

Pope Francis said that “this openness to the transcendent” is fundamental and “bears witness to the infinite value of every human person.”

Anthropologist Jane Goodall, famed for her work with chimpanzees, also spoke at the Vatican conference on “mind, body, and soul,” giving a talk entitled “What does it Mean to be Human?”

“I think where we fit in into the picture of primates is we are the fifth great ape, and our closest relative among the other great apes… Well, there’s two of them, actually, the chimpanzee and the bonobo. We differ from each other genetically by only just over 1%,” Goodall said.

She offered examples of how chimpanzees can be taught sign language, use the computer, and make drawings. During evolution, she said, humans learned to communicate with words, language, and writing that enables people to be distinguished by their ability to make plans for the future and invent rockets.

“But then when you realize how like us chimpanzees are, and yet how we differ with this explosive development of the intellect, this development of the intellect has not given us a reason to label ourselves as Homo sapiens, the wise ape. We’re not wise. We’ve seen what Mars looks like. We don’t want to live there. We’ve only got this one planet, at least in our lifetimes, and we’re destroying it,” Goodall said.

“All the major religions share the golden rule, do to others as you would have them do to you. If we can apply that to animals, as well as to each other, then I think we shall be coming closer to being able to define ourselves as Homo sapiens,” she added.

The Vatican health conference taking place May 6-8 on “Exploring the Mind, Body & Soul: How Innovation and Novel Delivery Systems Improve Human Health,” has featured more than 100 speakers including Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical adviser to U.S. President Joe Biden, as well as Clinton Foundation vice chair Chelsea Clinton and New Age guru Deepak Chopra.

It is the fifth conference of its kind organized by the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Cura Foundation, which describes itself as a “nonsectarian, nonpartisan” group “with a mission to improve human health globally.” This year is the first time that the conference is taking place virtually.

“I am pleased that students from various universities throughout the world, Catholic and non-Catholic, are taking part in this event. I encourage you to undertake and pursue interdisciplinary research involving various centers of study, for the sake of a better understanding of ourselves and of our human nature, with all its limits and possibilities, while always keeping in mind the transcendent horizon to which our being tends,” Pope Francis said.

The pope said that when interdisciplinary research is applied to the medical sciences it “translates into more sophisticated research and increasingly suitable and exact strategies of care.”

“We need but think of the vast field of research in genetics, aimed at curing a variety of diseases. Yet this progress has also raised a number of anthropological and ethical issues, such as those dealing with the manipulation of the human genome aimed at controlling or even overcoming the aging process, or at achieving human enhancement,” he said.

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin also addressed the conference via video message on May 8.

The cardinal said that human beings are distinguished from animals by rationality, “a high degree of self-understanding” and reflection on others and the universe.

“Another unique feature is the moral conscience that allows us to act by distinguishing between what is good and what is bad. This fundamental reference causes us to ask ourselves ethical questions about our actions, about society, about the use of the tools that we develop and make socially usable,” Parolin said.

“A strong moral sense pushes us to denounce and take actions that put an end to injustices through philanthropic and solidarity actions that counteract the manifestations of evil.”

He also noted that humans are capable of contemplating beauty and artistic expression in many different forms, as well as possessing “the openness to the transcendent horizon which in the lives of many of us leads to religious experience, but which also prompts us to question ourselves about the ultimate questions.”

“The ancient thinkers encapsulated this specificity and uniqueness of the human being in a single term, humanitas, which from Cicero onwards became the category with which to indicate the objective principle of a complex system of exquisitely human moral values,” Parolin said.

“Now, this day seals the three days full of content, and is also the final moment of a complex itinerary of reflection. However, it is also an openness to a constant search for human natures conducted by the philosophers and men of culture of the past. My wish is, therefore, to continue to deepening the mystery of our being with enthusiasm and determination, to discover and be fascinated by what makes us truly human,” he said.


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