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Pope Francis: ‘A truly Christian life bears witness to Christ’

May 2, 2021 Catholic News Agency 0
Pope Francis waves to people in St. Peter’s Square during his Regina caeli address May 2, 2021. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Vatican City, May 2, 2021 / 05:30 am (CNA).

It is our task as Christians to proclaim the good news of the Gospel and to bear the good fruit of love in the world, Pope Francis said at his Regina caeli address on Sunday.

“The fruit that, like the branches, we must give, bears witness to our Christian life,” the pope said May 2.

“After Jesus ascended to the Father, it is the task of the disciples – it is our task – to continue to proclaim the Gospel in words and in deeds,” he added. “And they and us, disciples of Jesus, do so by bearing witness to his love: the fruit to be borne is love.”

Francis gave his weekly Sunday reflection from a window overlooking St. Peter’s Square. Afterward, he led the recitation of the Regina caeli, a Marian prayer said during the Easter season.

The pope explained the importance of being attached to Christ, the vine, so that “we receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and in this way we can do good to our neighbor and do good to society, to the Church.”

“We recognize the tree by its fruits,” he stated. “A truly Christian life bears witness to Christ.”

Pope Francis’ meditation centered on the day’s Gospel reading from St. John, in which Jesus tells his disciples “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.”

“The Lord presents himself as the true vine, and speaks of us as the branches that cannot live without being united to him,” the pope said, noting that Jesus used the verb “to abide,” also sometimes translated as “to remain,” seven times in the Gospel reading.

Francis said to abide or remain in Jesus is not a passive activity, “letting oneself be lulled by life,” but an active and reciprocal action: “We abide in Jesus and Jesus abides in us.”

“How can we do this?” he said. “Jesus says to us: ‘If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.'”

“The fruitfulness of our life depends on prayer,” he stated, explaining that in prayer we can ask Jesus for the gift of seeing the world with his eyes.

This way, he said, we can “love our brothers and sisters, starting from the poorest and those who suffer the most, as he did, and to love them with his heart and to bring to the world fruits of goodness, fruits of charity, and fruits of peace.”

Pope Francis explained that first of all, we need the Lord. Before we can follow God’s commandments, before we can live the beatitudes, and perform works of mercy, “it is necessary to be joined to him, to abide in him.”

“We cannot be good Christians if we do not abide in Jesus. And yet with him, we can do everything,” he underlined. “With him we can do everything.”

“Let us entrust ourselves to the intercession of the Virgin Mary,” he concluded. “She remained fully united to Jesus and bore much fruit. May she help us abide in Christ, in his love, in his word, to bear witness in the world to the Risen Lord.”

At the end of the Regina caeli, Pope Francis sent his good wishes to Christians of the Orthodox Church and Eastern and Latin Catholic Churches, who celebrate Easter according to the Julian calendar, which falls this year on May 2.

“May the risen Lord fill them with light and peace, and comfort the communities living in particularly difficult situations. Happy Easter to them!” he said.

The pope also referenced the ongoing situation in Burma, where security forces have opened fire on people protesting the military coup, resulting in injuries and deaths.

He said the Church in Burma is encouraging everyone to devote one Hail Mary of their daily rosary during the month of May for peace in Burma.

“Each of us turns to our mother when he or she is in need or in difficulty,” he said. “We, this month, ask our Heavenly Mother to speak to the hearts of all those responsible in Myanmar, so that they may find the courage to walk the path of encounter, reconciliation and peace.”

Pope Francis also expressed his closeness to the people of Israel, where crowds at a Jewish religious festival on Mount Maron led to a crush of people resulting in 45 deaths and some 150 injuries the night of April 29 to April 30.

“I assure my remembrance in prayer for the victims of this tragedy and their families,” he said.

Francis also mentioned the example of Bl. José Gregorio Hernández Cisneros, who was beatified in Caracas, Venezuela on April 30.

“He was a doctor, rich in science and faith. He was able to recognize the face of Christ in the sick and, as a good Samaritan, he helped them with evangelical charity. May his example help us to take care of those who suffer in body and spirit,” he said, encouraging a round of applause for the new blessed.


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Pope Francis changes law to allow Vatican City court to judge cardinals, bishops

April 30, 2021 Catholic News Agency 0
Vatican City flag waiving over St. Peter’s dome – Bohumil Petrik / CNA

Vatican City, Apr 30, 2021 / 07:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Friday amended part of a law issued last year regulating Vatican City’s judicial system, now allowing the court of first instance to rule on criminal trials of bishops and cardinals.

The law previously said that cardinals and bishops could only be judged by the final court of cassation for the civil judicial system, which is the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.

The prior law meant that criminal trials of cardinals and bishops were judged by other cardinals. With the April 30 update, Vatican City judges — typically lay people — will be competent to rule on the cases.

The amendments were issued by Pope Francis in an apostolic letter “amending the jurisdiction of the judicial bodies of Vatican City State,” issued motu proprio (“on his own impulse”).

In the preamble, the pope referenced Lumen gentium, the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, which says that “there is true equality among all with regard to the dignity and action common to all the faithful in building the Body of Christ.”

He also quoted Gaudium et spes, Vatican II’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, which says that “all men have the same nature and the same origin; all, redeemed by Christ, enjoy the same vocation and the same divine destiny; it is therefore necessary to recognize more and more the fundamental equality of all.”

“The awareness of these values ​​and principles, which has progressively matured in the ecclesial community, today calls for an ever more adequate compliance with them even in the Vatican system,” Francis said.

In the update, Pope Francis repealed article 24 of a law issued on March 16, 2020, which declared that “the court of cassation is the only competent to judge, with consent of the Supreme Pontiff, the Most Eminent Cardinals and the Most Excellent Bishops in criminal cases.”

In the 2020 norms, Law CCCLI, the pope grounded Vatican City civil law in the Church’s canonical legal system, making the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the curia’s highest canonical appeals court, the final court of cassation for the civil judicial system.

The court of cassation consists of the cardinal prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, currently Cardinal Dominique Mamberti, plus two cardinal members of the signatura and two or more judges appointed for three-year terms.

The court of cassation is usually ruled by a bench of cardinal judges but can include other judges if circumstances require.

In the April 30 amendment, Pope Francis added a paragraph to article 6 of the 2020 law, stating that “in cases involving the Most Eminent Cardinals and the Most Excellent Bishops … the tribunal [court of first instance] shall judge with the consent of the Supreme Pontiff.”

The amendment makes note of the exception to this rule contained in canon 1405 of the Code of Canon Law, which says that only the pope can judge cardinals and bishops in penal cases regarding spiritual matters or a violation of Church law involving sin and the imposition of ecclesial penalties.


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In anti-corruption law, Pope Francis seeks to quash Vatican ‘envelope’ culture with ban on gifts over $50

April 29, 2021 Catholic News Agency 0
The dome of St. Peter’s Basilica. / Luxerendering/Shutterstock.

Vatican City, Apr 29, 2021 / 04:50 am (CNA).

As part of a sweeping new anti-corruption law, Pope Francis on Thursday declared that officials of the Roman Curia should no longer accept personal gifts with a monetary value over 40 euros (about $50).

The new rule appears to be an effort to quash the Vatican “envelope” culture, in which large monetary donations are made to bishops and cardinals working in the Roman Curia.

These gifts have been blamed for contributing to corruption in the Church when they were used between high-level Church officials to seek favors, most notably in cases like that of ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

Pope Francis’ April 29 apostolic letter, issued in the form of motu proprio (“on his own impulse”), added this rule to the General Regulation of the Roman Curia, along with other requirements ensuring that Vatican personnel who handle the Vatican’s economic affairs are not involved in financially corrupt or illegal behavior.

In the motu proprio on “provisions on transparency in the management of public finance,” Pope Francis said that, “according to Scripture, fidelity in small things is related to fidelity in important ones.”

Referencing Luke 16:10, he added, “just as being dishonest in matters of little consequence is also related to being dishonest in important matters.”

The pope said that the new law was intended to bring the Holy See and Vatican City State further in line with international best practices on corruption and financial transparency, building off of his May 2020 motu proprio on transparency in the awarding of public contracts.

The new measures were necessary to “prevent and fight, in every sector, conflicts of interest, methods of patronage, and corruption in general,” Francis said.

He added that those who work in or are connected to the Vatican “have a particular responsibility to make concrete the fidelity of which the Gospel speaks, acting according to the principle of transparency and in the absence of any conflict of interest.”

Under the new regulation, the cardinals leading dicasteries or other offices, and senior management and administrators of the Holy See and Vatican City State, whose jobs require handling money, will be required to sign a document every two years attesting that they and their finances are not connected to crime.

In the statement, they must declare that they do not hold shareholdings or interests in companies that operate “with purposes and in sectors contrary to the Social Doctrine of the Church.”

They must also attest that all goods owned by them originate from lawful activities and are not the profit or product of crime. In addition, they must say that they have never been convicted of a crime and are not under any criminal trial or investigation for crimes of corruption, fraud, terrorism, money laundering, tax evasion, trafficking, exploitation of minors, or participation in a criminal organization.

The employee or official must also promise to not hold any cash or investments, including shareholdings or interests, in companies and businesses on a list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes, or in countries considered at high risk for money laundering or terrorist financing.

The declaration will be held in the Secretariat for the Economy’s employee files and a copy will be kept in the Secretariat of State. The Secretariat for the Economy is authorized to verify the truth of the statements and false declarations will be subject to “a serious disciplinary offense.”

The new regulations must be enforced within 90 days of the law’s publication.