Pope Francis Combines Family, Laity and Life Into One Dicastery

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

Pope Francis has enacted an internal reform of the Vatican by combining Family, Laity and Life into one dicastery.

I don’t understand the inner workings of the Vatican. But looking at this from the outside, it makes sense. If I am correct, a dicastery is a department within the Curia. The ministries relating to family, laity and life are certainly bound together by common interests.

From Catholic News Agency:

.- Pope Francis announced Thursday to the Synod on the Family that he has chosen to establish a new office in the Roman Curia that will deal with issues of laity, family, and life, as part of his reform of the curia.

“I have decided to establish a new Dicastery with competency for Laity, Family and Life, that will replace the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family,” Pope Francis said Oct. 22, according to a communique from the Holy See press office.

“To this end, I have constituted a special commission that will prepare a text delineating canonically the competencies of the new Dicastery. The text will be presented for discussion to the Council of Cardinals at their next meeting in December.”

The Pope added that in addition to the pontifical councils for the laity and the family, the Pontifical Academy for Life will also joined to the new office.

This move is significant because it streamlines three separate offices into one; it is also meant to give greater attention to issues relating to the laity in the Church.


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Vatican Archives Shed Light on the Armenian Genocide

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ana Ulin https://www.flickr.com/photos/anaulin/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ana Ulin https://www.flickr.com/photos/anaulin/

This year is the 100th anniversary of what is often called “The Forgotten Genocide,” which is the Armenian Genocide.

This slaughter of Christians by the Ottoman Turks occurred during World War I. Together, the formed the kick-off for the bloodbath that we remember as the 20th Century.

I’m going to write about the Armenian Genocide after Lent. The Vatican Archives are a source of information about this forgotten genocide of Christians.

From Catholic News Service:

.- Ahead of Pope Francis’ Mass commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, newly released historic documents confirm the Holy See’s broad commitment to helping the Armenian people at a time when few others would.

The Italian Jesuit-run magazine La Civiltà Cattolica stressed that newly published documents “prove how the Holy See, always informed about events, had not remained passive, but was strongly committed to face the issue” of the Armenian Genocide. “Benedict XV was the only ruler or religious leader to voice out a protest against the ‘massive crime’.”

The Armenian Genocide is considered to have begun April 24, 1915 with a massacre of Armenians in Istanbul. Over the next eight years, 1.5 million Armenians would be killed and millions more displaced.

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Pope Francis Appoints 15 New Cardinals from Everywhere

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

… and the Gospel must first be preached to all nations. Jesus Christ

Pope Francis announced the appointment of 15 new cardinals today.

The Holy Father chose men from all around the globe, representing such places of Xai-Xai, which is the capital of Gaza Province in Mozambique. He appointed new cardinals for Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam and Ethiopia.

He also appointed a couple of new cardinals to Italy and one to Portugal. None of the new cardinals were from the United States.

What does this mean? Americans, who are prone to interpret every move by just about anybody in terms of American politics, are quick to denounce/applaud the list of new cardinals based on whether they see the Holy Father’s appointments as “progressive” or not.

However, there is a more accurate way to look at the actions of the Vicar of Christ, and that is through the lens of Holy Scripture. What Pope Francis did is not political in the one-off news cycle way that most Americans see everything he does. It is prophecy, being fulfilled right in front of us.

Turn to Chapter 13 of the book of Mark and let your eye drift down to verse 10. Chapter 13 of Mark concerns what big-word talkers call eschatology. Eschatology, which is a word so unmelodious and awkward that I detest saying it, is the study of what most people call “the end times.”

Right in the middle of Jesus’ prophecy of the end times we find a verse that sticks up in the flow of warnings of dislocations, tragedies and persecution like a rock jutting through white water. It’s almost as if Jesus took a breath and said it, then launched back into the litany of the persecutions to come, But first, the Gospel must first be preached to all nations, he said.

This flat statement, this caveat to the Second Coming, will be reflected later, when He gives what Protestants call The Great Commission just before He ascends into heaven.

… go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you until the end of the world. Jesus Christ

It is the leaven in the bread, the mustard seed. This preaching of the Gospel to all nations is the Kingdom coming that precedes His return. It is the first cause, the primogeniture of what must happen. First, the Gospel must be preached to all nations.


If you give up the politics-and-power centric view of all things for just a moment and remember that Pope Francis is in fact and in truth the Vicar of Christ, then these appointments make all kinds of prophetic sense. They are not a political statement about the United States. They are simply an acknowledgement of the fact that the Gospel is indeed being preached to all nations.

These appointments are prophetic, not in the sense that they make prophecy, but in that they are footsteps in the long march of prophetic history from the garden to the day when God will return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

I’m not someone who gives a lot of thought to the end times. I certainly do not devote myself to Eschatology, which is the formal study of such. My end of time is coming straight at me as I spend the days of my life, one at a time. I will die not too far in the future, and when I do, I will stand before God. I do not fear that day because, to quote St Paul, I know whom I have believed, and I trust that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him against that day.

In other words, when I stand before God, my only defense of my misspent life will be that Jesus died for my sins. Like the lintels of the doorways in Egypt, I am marked by the blood of the Lamb. For that reason, and for that reason alone, death will pass me by.

I don’t obsess over the end times. But I have read the Bible and I am aware of the world around me. I know that the prophetic clock is ticking. I don’t expect that I will see Him descend with a shout in this life. But I would have to be totally ignorant of both Scripture and the events of the last 100 years to be unaware that these prophecies are falling, click, click, click, like a row of slow-motion dominoes.

There is no cause for apprehension or obsession in this. It just is. God will do these things in His time and His way. Our part is simply to do what we are told, to be faithful with what He has given us. Speaking for myself, that’s more than enough.

When we read the political/zeitgeist/temporal interpretations of things like the appointment of these new Cardinals, it’s wise to remember that Pope Francis is not a member of the United States Senate. He is not the head of a brokerage firm, and he is not planning to throw his zucchetto in the ring and run for president, prime minister or any other political what not.

He is, simply, the Pope, which is to say that He is the Vicar of Christ. He’s Jesus’ priest. The only way to understand Pope Francis’ actions is to stop our political confabulating and take a look at The Book. If we do, we will see that Jesus — Who is the real boss of the Church — said quite plainly that the Gospel must be preached to all nations. 

That’s what’s happening. And our universal Church — along with our faithful Protestant and Orthodox brothers and sisters — is a conduit of that ever-widening, all-encompassing circle of grace.

From Vatican Radio:

 (Vatican Radio) At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis announced the names of fifteen Archbishops and Bishops whom he will raise to the dignity of the Cardinalate on February 14, 2015. In addition, the Holy Father announced that five retired Archbishops and Bishops “distinguished for their pastoral charity in the service of the Holy See and of the Church” would also be made Cardinals.







Note: I misquote Bible verses from memory. Since I have read many different translations of Scripture, and since I read the Bible every day, I don’t misquote any one translation.

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Vatican Unambiguously Denounces and Condemns Unspeakable Jihadist Acts


Public Catholic reader Ken brought this to my attention.

The Vatican has released a statement condemning the crimes against humanity that are occurring in the Middle East. The statement lists what it calls “unspeakable criminal acts … which bring shame on humanity,” including beheading, crucifying, abduction of women and girls as spoils of war, the barbaric practice of infibulation and forced conversions.

From the Vatican Website:

The whole world has witnessed with incredulity what is now called the “Restoration of the Caliphate,” which had been abolished on October 29,1923 by Kamal Ataturk, founder of modern Turkey. Opposition to this “restoration” by the majority of religious institutions and Muslim politicians has not prevented the “Islamic State” jihadists from committing and continuing to commit unspeakable criminal acts.

This Pontifical Council, together with all those engaged in interreligious dialogue, followers of all religions, and all men and women of good will, can only unambiguously denounce and condemn these practices which bring shame on humanity:

-the massacre of people on the sole basis of their religious affiliation;

-the despicable practice of beheading, crucifying and hanging bodies in public places;

-the choice imposed on Christians and Yezidis between conversion to Islam, payment of a tax (jizya) or forced exile;

-the forced expulsion of tens of thousands of people, including children, elderly, pregnant women and the sick;

-the abduction of girls and women belonging to the Yezidi and Christian communities as spoils of war (sabaya);

-the imposition of the barbaric practice of infibulation;

-the destruction of places of worship and Christian and Muslim burial places;

-the forced occupation or desecration of churches and monasteries;

-the removal of crucifixes and other Christian religious symbols as well as those of other

religious communities;

-the destruction of a priceless Christian religious and cultural heritage;

-indiscriminate violence aimed at terrorizing people to force them to surrender or flee.

No cause, and certainly no religion, can justify such barbarity. This constitutes an extremely serious offense to humanity and to God who is the Creator, as Pope Francis has often reminded us. We cannot forget, however, that Christians and Muslims have lived together – it is true with ups and downs – over the centuries, building a culture of peaceful coexistence and civilization of which they are proud. Moreover, it is on this basis that, in recent years, dialogue between Christians and Muslims has continued and intensified.

The dramatic plight of Christians, Yezidis and other religious communities and ethnic minorities in Iraq requires a clear and courageous stance on the part of religious leaders, especially Muslims, as well as those engaged in interreligious dialogue and all people of good will. All must be unanimous in condemning unequivocally these crimes and in denouncing the use of religion to justify them. If not, what credibility will religions, their followers and their leaders have? What credibility can the interreligious dialogue that we have patiently pursued over recent years have?

Religious leaders are also called to exercise their influence with the authorities to end these crimes, to punish those who commit them and to reestablish the rule of law throughout the land, ensuring the return home of those who have been displaced. While recalling the need for an ethical management of human societies, these same religious leaders must not fail to stress that the support, funding and arming of terrorism is morally reprehensible.

That said, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue is grateful to all those who have already raised their voices to denounce terrorism, especially that which uses religion to justify it.

Let us therefore unite our voices with that of Pope Francis: “May the God of peace stir up in each one of us a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated by violence. Violence is defeated by peace. “

[01287-02.01] [Original text: French - working translation]

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Pope Francis is 77 Years Old. He Probably Needs a Vacation.


Pope Francis was born on December 17, 1936. He is 77 years old. He has one lung. He just got back from a grueling trip to the Middle East. He has kept a non-stop schedule since his election.

Now, he has cancelled many of his public activities for July.


Speculation about the Holy Father’s abrupt cancellation of plans is rolling around the internet. Grave rumors are rolling right along with it.

The Holy Father may be sick. I don’t know. What I do know is that the pace he has been keeping is enough to tire anyone, at any age, much less a guy approaching 80 who is getting by on one lung.

I also know that previous popes have left the Vatican altogether at this time of year and spent a few weeks’ vacation time at Castel Gandalfo. Pope Francis’ mini vacation of just canceling public appointments for a month while continuing to live in residence and work from his office is actually an uptick in activity from his predecessor.

I hope and pray that all he needs is a month of relative rest and quiet. I think that is entirely possible. In fact, I don’t see how he’s managed to do all that he’s done. My only answer is that the Holy Spirit is sustaining him.

I know that many people are going to get with the speculation program and that the rumor mill will run like a hamster in its cage. But as for me, I am going to continue praying for our Pope and wait and see.

Hopefully, what we’ll all see will be a refreshed and invigorated Papa, back from a few weeks’ rest.

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Vatican Acknowledges that Complaints about Georgetown University are Well Founded


The Vatican has acknowledged that complaints listed in a canonical petition it received from alumni of Georgetown University are “well founded.”

What this means in real life, I’m not sure. Hopefully, it signals the beginning of a return to Catholic education at Catholic universities.

William Peter Blatty, author of The Exorcist and Georgetown alum, submitted the petition, which contained 2,000 signatures, to the Vatican last September. Here is the text of the petition:

I, the undersigned, a Catholic in full communion with the Church, in keeping with the rights, duties and obligations of the Laity and the Christian faithful under the 1983 Code of Canon Law to make known our needs to our pastors through petition, to maintain communion with the Church, to perfect the order of temporal affairs, and legitimately to vindicate our rights in the Church, as well as the rights and duties we have under Article 4 of Ex corde Ecclesiae, we express our grave concern that our rights to know and follow the truth of the Catholic Church, to a Christian education, and others, have been violated by Georgetown University’s twenty-one year refusal to comply fully with the law of the Church through the implementation of the general norms of Ex corde Ecclesiae, and its eleven year non-compliance with certain particular norms adopted for the United States, which has led directly and indirectly to the tolerance and promotion of deviations from authentic doctrinal and moral teachings by Georgetown University authorities, a long series of Scandals to the faithful through actions inconsistent with a Catholic identity, and a growing threat to souls through the ever-spreading ideology of radical autonomy in Georgetown’s institutional initiatives, and to the academic freedom of professors and students in favor of new illiberal and intolerant orthodoxies.  I, therefore, petition in the protection of my rights and in fulfillment of my duties in accord with Canon Law, for such relief to obtain the implementation of canon law and Ex corde Ecclesiae that has been requested by the Petition submitted by William Peter Blatty.

The Vatican replied to the petition on April 4. Here is the text of their letter to Mr Blatty from Archbishop Angelo Vicenzo Zani, the secretary for the Congregation for Catholic Education.



Rome, 4 April 2014

Dear Mr. Blatty,

Further to our letters to you of 22 October 2013 and 19 December 2013, both with

the above protocol number, our Congregation has examined your petition for hierarchical

recourse in the matter of Georgetown University. We hereby notify you that:

(1) The matters to which you referred in your communications to this Dicastery

cannot be considered grounds for a hierarchical recourse, inasmuch as the

petitioner in such a recourse must be able to show that he/she has suffered an

objective change in his/her condition due to an administrative act.

(2) Your communications to this Dicastery in the matter of Georgetown University

instead constitute a well-founded complaint. Our Congregation is taking the issue

seriously, and is cooperating with the Society of Jesus in this regard.

Taking the opportunity to express to you our sentiments of consideration and

esteem, we remain

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Archbishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani

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Vatican: Place the Family at the Center of all Concerns


May 15 is the United Nation’s International Day of the Family.

Monsignor Vicenzo Paglia, the president of the Pontifical Council on the Family, will go to New York to address the United Nations for this event. He also had a few words to say in advance. He commented that people will say “forever” to a soccer team (or here in Oklahoma, to the Sooners) but to their own husband or wife, not so much.

The family has been sliced and diced almost out of existence by our modern culture. Now, it is being legally defined into meaninglessness. Without the family as a base, other forms of community fail alongside it.

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The UN and the Vatican: Politicizing Torture to Defend Abortion


The Vatican went before the UN Convention on Torture to answer questions about the clergy child abuse scandal and Church teachings on abortion and homosexuality, not as a church, but as a government.

In addition to raising the preposterous idea that Church teaching on abortion is torture of women, the Convention also raised the issue of the practice of transferring child abusing priests from one parish to another.

I am guessing that the Convention’s position on the Vatican and child sexual abuse is based on the contention that sexual child abuse, when it is allowed by a governmental body, is a form of government-sanctioned torture. I may be giving them more credit than they deserve, but that’s the only hook I can see on which they could hang these charges.

I don’t know how they get to their other positions that the Church should change its teachings abortion and homosexuality because they are torture. There is no basis for such claims. I think that these idiotic charges reveal the real motivations behind this line of attack against the Catholic Church.

The Vatican’s position regarding the charges concerning the child sexual abuse scandal is that it did not, as a city state, have governing control of the child-abusing priests around the world who perpetrated these crimes. The Vatican says that the abusers were under the laws and governance of the countries in which they resided.

This is true in a legal sense; in a moral sense, not so much.

The Vatican itself is a city state, and as such can be called to account as a government. However, the Catholic Church, whose head resides in the Vatican, is a church and not a government. That’s a complicated situation which can — and obviously does — lead to all sorts of political gamesmanship.

As a Catholic, I do not think of myself as a citizen of the Vatican. I am a member of the Roman Catholic Church, with the emphasis on Church. 

The Roman Catholic Church is called to a much higher purpose, and is required to behave in an entirely different manner, than any government. It makes claims for itself that go far beyond governance. The leaders of our Church ask for a level of compliance and respect from the laity that good governmental leaders do not ask and bad governmental leaders cannot get.

To be blunt about it, if you are going to go around saying that you speak for Christ, you have a responsibility to not behave like the sons of Satan.

I think that trying to claim that the Church committed torture in the sexual abuse scandal as defined by the Convention on Torture is a callous political ruse. The fact that the Convention added the additional charge that the Church’s teachings on abortion and homosexuality are a form of torture makes that clear.

I think this ruse is designed to lessen the Church’s moral teaching authority on issues such as the sanctity of human life and marriage.

As a tactical action in the culture wars, it is a strong move. The Church’s power, such as it is, comes directly from its moral and prophetic voice.

The clergy sexual abuse of children scandal degrades that moral and prophetic voice in a way that the Church’s enemies, with all their attacks and criticisms, never could. It is a forceful weapon in the hands of those who want to destroy the persuasive power of the Catholic Church’s moral voice. That is why people who hate the Church’s teachings in certain areas seem to delight in talking about the scandal.

They constantly seek new ways to raise that clear failure of Christian discipleship on the part of so many Church leaders and keep it before the public eye because it damages the Church’s claim to holiness.

The sexual abuse of children by predatory adults is widespread in this world. There appears to be certain industries and organizations which routinely cover up for abusers. For instance, the entertainment industry deserves a good looking over in this regard.

Focusing on the Catholic Church to the exclusion of other offenders is not only dishonest, it enables these other predators to continue harming children.

Limiting public outrage about the sexual abuse of children to anger at the Catholic Church does not serve children well. It allows abusers in every other walk of life to keep on abusing. But, even though it does not serve children well, it does serve a political purpose. The purpose is to provide a platform for taking aim at the Church’s teachings that the attackers disagree with.

By using a Convention against torture that the Vatican signed to attack the Church, the enemies of the Church’s teachings in areas such as abortion, gay marriage, embryonic stem cell research and questions of economic exploitation weaken the Church’s voice against those things.

I think that is what this whole line of attack is about. In truth, torture is a narrow word that does not lend itself to this kind of politicized use. That is why the word has such historic power. The Convention is broadening the definition of torture beyond its original meaning to raise these charges.

By doing that, it cheapens the moral prohibitions against torture. By callously using torture as a misplaced and politicized gotcha attack instrument, the Convention weakens the very thing it is designed to strengthen, which is the international effort to end the use of torture.

I have strong feelings about the use of torture, based on actual knowledge of torture and contact with victims of torture. I have equally strong feelings about diluting the meaning of the word torture so that it becomes useless. I think this kind of political gamesmanship — which is really about abortion, gay marriage, economic exploitation, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, etc — enables torturers and lets them continue.

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What was it like at the canonization?

Thanks to television, we were all pilgrims at the canonization. But what was it like to actually be there?

These videos reveal that it was exhausting, beautiful, joyous and hopeful.

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Papal Organist: Witness to History

A real, live person provides the organ music at Papal ceremonies, and he has stories to tell.

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