From the Vatican

Child Protection Expert: PA Abuse Report Horrific

Fr. Hans Zollner SJAugust 18, 2018 (Vatican Media) The head of the Center for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome has spoken of the devastation felt by victims following the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report into the sexual abuse of minors.

The document detailed sex abuse in the Catholic Church in the US state which involved over 300 clergy. The investigation found more than 1,000 children had been abused by members of six dioceses over the last 70 years.

Hurt and anger

Giving his reaction to Vatican News on the Grand Jury report, Fr Hans Zollner S.J. who heads the Center for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, described the numbers as “horrific” adding that it was devastating for the victims “not only Pennsylvania in the US but for all victims of abuse by clergy and by others to hear that there are so many who have suffered and who are hurting.”

Regaining trust

Acknowledging the anger and hurt expressed in the aftermath of the report’s findings Fr Zollner said, “You cannot regain trust without working steadily, consistently towards a Church that is clearly and visibly and in a committed way a safe place for all those who are vulnerable.”


Asked about what concrete action the Church now needs to take to tackle this scourge, he said the “anger is directed especially against Bishops and there the action will need to be how do we find a way so that a Bishop and a priest is also held accountable personally and institutionally.” Up to now he added, Church law has been vague on this point.


Vatican Responds to Pennsylvania Grand Jury Abuse Report

Pope 081718August 17, 2018 (Vatican Media) On Thursday evening, the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, issued the following statement regarding the report of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury issued earlier this week in the United States over the sexual abuse of minors.

"Regarding the report made public in Pennsylvania this week, there are two words that can express the feelings faced with these horrible crimes: shame and sorrow. The Holy See treats with great seriousness the work of the Investigating Grand Jury of Pennsylvania and the lengthy Interim Report it has produced. The Holy See condemns unequivocally the sexual abuse of minors.

The abuses described in the report are criminal and morally reprehensible. Those acts were betrayals of trust that robbed survivors of their dignity and their faith. The Church must learn hard lessons from its past, and there should be accountability for both abusers and those who permitted abuse to occur.

Most of the discussion in the report concerns abuses before the early 2000s. By finding almost no cases after 2002, the Grand Jury’s conclusions are consistent with previous studies showing that Catholic Church reforms in the United States drastically reduced the incidence of clergy child abuse. The Holy See encourages continued reform and vigilance at all levels of the Catholic Church, to help ensure the protection of minors and vulnerable adults from harm. The Holy See also wants to underscore the need to comply with the civil law, including mandatory child abuse reporting requirements.

The Holy Father understands well how much these crimes can shake the faith and the spirt of believers and reiterates the call to make every effort to create a safe environment for minors and vulnerable adults in the Church and in all of society.

Victims should know that the Pope is on their side. Those who have suffered are his priority, and the Church wants to listen to them to root out this tragic horror that destroys the lives of the innocent."


Pope: St. Stanislaus Teaches Youth to Run Towards Holiness

Pope 081618By Devin Watkins

August 16, 2018 (Vatican Media) In a message for the 450th anniversary of the death of St. Stanislaus Kostka, Pope Francis invites young people to run the race towards holiness and to dream of finding true happiness in Jesus.

The Polish saint died on August 15, 1568 in Rome, while he was a novice (seminarian) of the Society of Jesus. St. Stanislaus died at the age of 17, and is a patron of Jesuit novices, students, and Poland.

Celebrations of St. Stanislaus

Pope Francis sent his greetings to Bishop Piotr Libero of Płock, the saint's birthplace.

He called St. Stanislaus Kostka “one of the most excellent sons of your homeland and of the Society of Jesus.”

The Holy Father spoke in his letter to the young people of Poland attending celebrations in Rostkowo. “You too are driven by the love of Christ and renewed in strength by His grace. Be courageous!”

Great cross-country race

Pope Francis recalled the words of Pope St. John Paul II when praying at the saint’s tomb in the Church of St. Andrew on the Quirinal Hill in Rome.

“The path of his brief life – begun at Rostkowo in Mazowsze, passing through Vienna and all the way to Rome – can be likened to a great cross-country race towards holiness, which is the goal of every Christian life.”

Pope Francis said St. Stanislaus teaches young people that freedom is not a blind race, but “the capacity to discern the desired goal and follow the best paths of action and life.”

St. Stanislaus, the Pope said, teaches them “not to be afraid to take risks and to dream of true happiness, which comes from Jesus Christ.”

Finally, Pope Francis reminded the young people of Poland of St. Stainslaus Kostka’s motto and invited them to live by it. “Ad maiora natus sum: I was born for greater things.”


Pope on Assumption: God Saves the Whole Person, Body and Soul

Pope 081518By Christopher Wells

August 15, 2018 (Vatican Media) “The Church today invites us to contemplate” the mystery of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven. That was the message of Pope Francis at the Angelus on Wednesday. This mystery, he said, “shows us that God wills to save the whole human person: body and soul.”

For the Solemnity of the Assumption, the Holy Father explained that, at the end of her life, Mary was taken “body and soul” into heaven; her body “did not know the corruption of the grave.” This, he said, was a special privilege granted to the Mother of God on account of her unique corporal and spiritual union with her Son, Jesus.

This privilege, he continued, “gives us the confirmation of our own glorious destiny.” In the past, philosophers had understood the value of the human soul, and that it was destined to happiness. But they could not conceive that the body, too was destined for heavenly beatitude in union with the soul. This is the Christian doctrine of the “resurrection of the body,” which Pope Francis described as “an element proper to Christian revelation [and] a pivotal element of our faith.”

But the Assumption, while reminding us of the unity of the human person, also reminds us “that we are called to serve and glorify God with our whole being,” body and soul. “Serving God only with the body would be an act of a slave,” the Pope said; while “serving Him only with the soul would be in contrast with our human nature.”

Pope Francis concluded his reflection with words of encouragement: “If we have lived in this way, in the joyful service of God, which is expressed also in generous service to our brothers, our destiny, on the day of the resurrection, will be like that of our heavenly Mother. It will be given to us, then, to realize fully the exhortation of Saint Paul: ‘Glorify God in your body!’ and we will glorify him forever in heaven.”


Pope Francis at Angelus: ‘It’s Evil Not to Do Good!’

Pope 081218By Devin Watkins

August 12, 2018 (Vatican Media) Pope Francis prayed the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday with tens of thousands of pilgrims, including a large group of young Italians to whom the Pope spoke on Saturday evening.

In his address ahead of the Angelus, the Holy Father said it is not enough simply not to do evil. But to be a good Christian, he said, “we must also adhere to goodness and do good.”

The Pope was reflecting on the day’s Second Reading, in which St. Paul tells the faithful not to sadden the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30-5:2).

'Do you do good?'

Pope Francis said saddening the Spirit means not living according to the promises made at our Baptism, which are to renounce evil and adhere to good.

“Many times we hear some saying, ‘I don't hurt anyone.’ That’s fine,” the Pope said. “But do you do good?”

Pope to young Italians: ‘Hope overcomes misery, oppression’

Pope Francis said many people “do not do evil, but neither do they do any good”. These people pass their lives “in indifference, apathy, and lukewarmness."

He said this attitude of simply not doing evil is contrary to the Gospel and the nature of young people. And he gave them a simple formula for life:

“It’s good not to do evil. But it’s evil not to do good!”

Oppose evil

The Holy Father said Christians must forgive and not hate; pray for our enemies and not hold a grudge; bring peace and not cause division. Above all, he said we must “interrupt others when we hear them speaking badly of someone else” and not just refrain from bad-mouthing others.

Pope Francis said evil spreads “where there are no bold Christians to oppose it with goodness.”

“If we do not oppose evil, we feed it with our silence.”


Pope: Christians Turn Our Gaze to Christ Crucified

Pope 080818By Christopher Wells

August 8, 2018 (Vatican Media)Pope Francis continued his meditation on the Ten Commandments at Wednesday’s General Audience, focusing on the theme of idolatry. He took his cue from the episode of the golden calf, the idol par excellence.

The story of the golden calf, found in the book of Exodus, takes place in the desert, “a place where instability and insecurity reign, where water, food, and shelter are lacking.” The desert, the Pope said, “is an image of human life,” which is filled with uncertainty that can lead to idolatry. Like the Jewish people in the desert, men and women of every age seek security in visible “gods,” gods of their own making, “a do-it-yourself religion.” “When God does not show Himself,” the Pope said, “we fashion a god to suit us.”

The golden calf made by Aaron represented fertility and abundance, but also energy and strength, the Pope said. It was made of gold to symbolize riches. “Success, power, and money” will always be temptations; the golden calf is “the symbol of all the desires that give us the illusion of freedom,” but actually end up enslaving us.

Pope Francis said all this comes from an inability to trust completely in God, “which allows us to endure even weakness, uncertainty, and instability.” When our confidence in God fails, “it is easy to fall into idolatry, and become content with meagre assurances.”

It is only when we look to Christ, who became poor for our sake, “that we discover that recognizing our own weakness is not the misfortune of human life, but rather the condition” that allows us “to open ourselves to Him who is truly strong.” The salvation that comes from God “enters through the gate of weakness.”

We Christians, the Pope said, “turn our gaze to Christ crucified, who is weak, despised, and stripped of everything He possesses.” But Jesus crucified shows us the true face of God. “He comes to reveal the paternity of God: In Christ, our fragility is no longer a curse, but a place of encounter with the Father, and a source of new strength from on high.”

At the conclusion of the Audience, Pope Francis had special greetings for all those named for the Saint of the day, St Dominic Guzman. "His example as a faithful servant of Christ and of His Church should be an encouragement and an incentive for all of us." And he recalled that Thursday is the feast of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, (Edith Stein), whom he described as "a martyr, a woman of coherent witness, a woman who sought God with sincerity, with love; a woman martyr of her Jewish and Christian people." "From heaven, may she, a Patron of Europe, pray and preserve Europe."