Cardinal Schönborn to German bishops: Maintain unity with Rome (Katholisch.de) In a German-language interview with Communio, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna said that the dispute between the Vatican and the German bishops’ Synodal Way is ultimately about the content of faith, and not about power.
“From the very beginning, the Pope’s critical accompaniment of the Synodal Way has been motivated by concern for the faith,” said Cardinal Schönborn. “The growing tensions are not an expression of a conflict between ‘Rome and Germany,’ but rather of the basic understanding of the Church.”
“The German bishops must seriously ask themselves whether they really want to break away from communion with and under the Pope,” he continued. “I do not wish the Catholic Church in Germany the same fate as the Old Catholic Church,” which went into schism following the First Vatican Council.
Cardinal Schönborn added that the Synodal Way’s proposal for lay governance, far from being in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, contradicts the council’s teaching.
“The bishop cannot delegate the personal responsibility of transmitting the faith to committees,” the prelate said.
Priests under increased surveillance in Nicaragua; Ortega regime reportedly approving diocesan appointments (La Prensa) La Prensa, a Nicaraguan newspaper whose editors fled the country in 2022, is reporting that priests there are under increased surveillance.
“The police come to pay visits to the priests, take photos in the parishes, rectories, even restrooms,” said Martha Patricia Molina, an attorney who has documented the persecution of the Church in Nicaragua. The police also ask priests “if they respect celibacy, and what the bishop’s sexual life is like.”
La Prensa alleges that Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes of Managua has recently appointed pro-regime priests to vacant pastorates to replace priests who have gone into exile.
The appointments of a new vicar general and chancellor have been made “with the approval of Rosario Murillo,” the nation’s first lady and vice president, said Molina.
German bishops back off confrontation with Vatican (CNA) Following a new warning from the Vatican, the Catholic bishops of Germany have stepped away from plans to approve formation of a new “Synodal Council” to include lay people in forming Church policies.
At their meeting this week, the German bishops’ conference was scheduled to vote on statutes for the Synodal Council, despite clear statements from Rome that the step would violate the Church’s teaching that bishops alone have authority to set diocesan policies. But after receiving a letter from Rome urging against the vote, the episcopal conference announced that the measure would be removed from this week’s agenda.
The Central Committee of German Catholics, which has partnered with the German bishops in promoting the Synodal Council, expressed dismay at the bishops’ concession; the group had urged the bishops to defy Rome and proceed with the vote. Irme Stetter-Karp, the president of the lay group, said: “The Catholic Church in Germany will not have a second chance if it stops the synodal path now.”
Alabama Supreme Court: Wrongful death law covers destruction of frozen embryos (Religion Clause) In a 7-2 decision, the Alabama Supreme Court has ruled that those who destroy frozen embryos may be sued under the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act.
The state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act “is sweeping and unqualified,” the majority ruled. “It applies to all children, born and unborn, without limitation. It is not the role of this Court to craft a new limitation based on our own view of what is or is not wise public policy.”
In his concurring opinion, Chief Justice Tom Parker wrote that “the theologically based view of the sanctity of life adopted by the People of Alabama encompasses the following: (1) God made every person in His image; (2) each person therefore has a value that far exceeds the ability of human beings to calculate; and (3) human life cannot be wrongfully destroyed without incurring the wrath of a holy God, who views the destruction of His image as an affront to Himself.”
He added, “This is true of unborn human life no less than it is of all other human life—that even before birth, all human beings bear the image of God, and their lives cannot be destroyed without effacing His glory.”
New York archdiocese decries 'scandalous behavior' at funeral (New York archdiocese) The New York archdiocese has issued a statement expressing “outrage over the scandalous behavior” at a funeral service held in St. Patrick’s cathedral, and reveald that a Mass of reparation has been offered.
The rowdy service for Cecilia Gentili—who was described by the New York Times as a “transgender activist and actress, former sex worker and self-professed atheist”—was marred by noisy demonstrations, mockery of the Catholic faith, and loud applause when the deceased was identified as “the mother of all whores.”
Organizers of the service boasted that they had hidden their plans from cathedral staff, and a subsequent statement from the cathedral indicated that officials “only knew that family and friends were requesting a funeral Mass for a Catholic.” As the service began, and the cathedral was filled with activists—many in outlandish costumes—a member of the cathedral staff told the presiding priest that the service could not include a Mass.
Father James Martin, SJ, a leading supporter of homosexual Catholics, told the New York Times that it was “wonderful” to celebrate the life of Gentili in the New York cathedral. However he later said that he made that statement without having seen video of the gathering, and conceded that some of the behavior was “disrespectful of the sacred space.”
Retiring Vatican archivist publishes book, criticizes Pius XII's sainthood cause (AP) Bishop Sergio Pagano, the prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Archives (formerly the Secret Archives) since 1997, discussed his work in a new book and in an interview with the Associated Press.
The 75-year-old prelate, who is slated to retire, is a critic of Pope Pius XII’s sainthood cause. He alleges that the late Fathers Peter Gumpel and Paolo Molinari, SJ, in gathering documentation for the cause, never “set foot in the Apostolic Archive.”
“Written documents must weigh heavily on the life of a Servant of God, you can’t ignore the archives,” said Bishop Pagano. “But the postulation by the Jesuits wanted to bypass it.”
Leading Nigerian prelate rips government economic policies—and Fiducia Supplicans (CWN) As the Nigerian bishops gathered for their first meeting of 2024, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria offered strong criticism of the nation’s endemic insecurity and corruption, the economic policies of President Bola Tinubu, and Fiducia Supplicans, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith’s declaration on the pastoral meaning of blessings.
In US, almost all Catholic women's colleges admit men who identify as women (National Catholic Register) Seven of the eight Catholic women’s colleges in the United States admit men who describe themselves as women.
Five of the women’s colleges discuss their transgender admissions policy on their websites; another two “have confirmed that they accept transgender applicants,” according to the National Catholic Register.
Saint Mary’s College in Indiana recently rescinded its transgender admissions policy after Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend urged the college to reverse it.
Papal envoy calls for ceasefire in Gaza (Crux) Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, who has acted as a special envoy to seek paths to peace in Ukraine, has called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, saying that the Israel’s legitimate need for self-defense “does not justify a huge number of victims.”
“We must always try to see peace; war is always a terrible defeat,” the cardinal said on an Italian television broadcast.
Haitian bishop hurt in house explosion (Haitian bishops' conference (French)) A Haitian bishop was injured when an explosion ripped through the house where he was staying in Port-au-Prince on Monday evening, February 19.
Bishop Pierre André Dumas of Anse-à-Veau/Miragoâne was reportedly in stable condition; the Haitian episcopal conference requested prayers for his recovery.
The circumstances of the explosion were not clear. Bishop Dumars, the vice-president of the country’s episcopal conference, had recently decried the influence of violate criminal engagd in kidnapping for profit.
Oregon bishop: no blessings for same-sex couples (Diocese of Baker) Bishop Liam Cary of Baker, Oregon has instructed his priests not to give blessings to same-sex couples.
Citing the decision by African prelates that a blessing for same-sex couples could cause scandal, Bishop Baker said: “I do not believe they can be carried out scandal-free in the Diocese of Baker either.” However, he said, individuals “should be free to request and should receive, a priestly blessing outside of Mass.”
The bishop offered this formula for the blessing:
May Almighty God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—
bless you with the grace to turn away from sin and believe in the Gospel.
Cardinal Zen renews criticism of Fiducia Supplicans (CNA) Cardinal Joseph Zen has posted a lengthy critique of the working document for the Synod on Synodality, saying that the bishops must decide between “two opposing visions” of the Church’s leadership.
The retired Bishop of Hong Kong observed that “the is presented as founded by Jesus on the apostles and their successors, with a hierarchy of ordained ministers who guide the faithful on the journey toward the heavenly Jerusalem.” On the other hand, the cardinal saw an impulse toward “an undefined synodality, a ‘democracy of the baptized,’” and a new vision of the Church.
The only way to reconcile these two visions, Cardinal Zen said, was to understand that “synodality not as having to do something completely new but as giving a new impulse to something that has always existed in the Church.”
European bishops announce Lenten initiative for peace, Synod (CCEE) The Council of the Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE) has announced a “Eucharistic chain” Lenten initiative in which special Masses are celebrated in the various European nations for the October Synod assembly and for peace in the Holy Land and Ukraine.
“We want to unite our voice, to that of the Pope, so that the weapons may be laid down, that the war in Ukraine and in the Holy Land may cease immediately, so that we may work for peace,” said Archbishop Gintaras Grušas of Vilnius, Lithuania, the president of the CCEE.
'Deadly desert': Vatican newspaper draws attention to plight of migrants in Niger (L'Osservatore Romano (Italian)) With the headline “Deserto mortale” [Deadly desert], the Vatican newspaper devoted prominent front-page coverage in its February 19 edition to the plight of migrants in the West African nation of Niger (map).
A coup last July precipitated the Nigerien crisis, and the coup leaders legalized migrant smuggling.
“In this strip of desert land, many migrants end up stranded, exploited by trafficking groups and in desperate need of humanitarian assistance,” L’Osservatore Romano reported. “The promotion of peace is fundamental, a crucial element for achieving regional stability.”
Vatican commissions street artist to illustrate Pope's Lenten message (Aleteia) The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development has commissioned the street artist Maupal (Mauro Pallotta) to create weekly illustrations of the Pope’s Lenten message.
Dr. Muriel Fleury, who leads the dicastery’s Communication and Restitution Section, said that the graffiti artist would “break away from a classical presentation” and help viewers “see things we wouldn’t necessarily have seen.”
Maupal’s first image portrays Pope Francis pushing a wheelbarrow with a bag labeled “faith” in the midst of a terrain full of nails. His second image, released February 19, portrays the Pontiff helping two prisoners escape from prison; a sign points in the direction of “liberty.”
Angelus address: wild beasts and angels (Vatican Press Office) Pope Francis devoted a brief Angelus address on February 18, the First Sunday of Lent, to the wild beasts and angels that were present with Christ in the desert.
Our disordered passions, he told pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, are akin to wild beasts; the angels, on the other hand, are “God’s messengers, who help us, who do us good: indeed, their characteristic, according to the Gospel, is service.”
The Pope continued, “We can ask ourselves, first, what are the disordered passions, the ‘wild beasts’ that agitate in my heart? Second question: to permit the voice of God to speak to my heart and to preserve it in goodness, am I thinking of retreating a little into the ‘wilderness,’ am I trying to dedicate space in the day to this?”
“May the Holy Virgin, who kept the Word and did not let herself be touched by the temptations of the evil one, help us on our Lenten journey,” he concluded.
Jihadists destroy Catholic mission as attacks resume in Mozambique (Fides) After a brief pause in fighting, the Islamist insurgency in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province has resumed.
Jihadists have occupied the village of Quissanga and destroyed the hospital, market, and Catholic mission in the town of Mazeze.
“The violence against defenseless populations, the destruction of infrastructure, and insecurity are again rampant in the province of Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, where the Catholic mission of Our Lady of Africa in Mazeze was also set on fire in recent days,” Pope Francis said on February 18. “Let us pray for peace to return to that tormented region.”
Rome says no to German bishops' synodal committee vote (Pillar) The Vatican has asked the German bishops to remove from the agenda at its next meeting a vote on a proposed synodal committee of bishops and laity.
The committee would “ensure that [German] synodal way resolutions are implemented in Germany’s dioceses” and “prepare the way for the creation in 2026 of a permanent ‘synodal council’ of bishops and lay people with decision-making powers over the Church in Germany,” The Pillar noted.
The bishops’ conference has temporarily removed the item from its meeting agenda, a conference spokesman said.
Cardinal McElroy says criticism of Fiducia rooted in anti-LGBT animus (Crux) “No change in doctrine was made,” in Fiducia Supplicans, Cardinal Robert McElroy of San Diego insists, and opposition to the document is largely based on prejudice.
The cardinal said that the Vatican directive “simply clarified questions” about the possibility of blessing couples involved in irregular unions, and is only encountering opposition because of “an enduring animus among far too many toward LGBT persons.”