New US archbishops look forward to serving God in their local Churches   

Vatican City, Jun 29, 2017 / 11:49 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Newly-appointed metropolitan archbishops from around the world received the traditional woolen vestment called a pallium during a special Mass with Pope Francis on Thursday.

For the three new metropolitan archbishops of American sees, the experience was a reminder of their mission as shepherds of their local Churches, called to follow God and lead others to him.

The Mass, celebrated on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, was significant for Archbishop Paul Etienne of Anchorage, who told CNA June 29 he was “very mindful of the accompanying presence of these great saints.”

He is inspired by their great love for Christ and the Church, he said, and by the courage with which they went out into the world after encountering the Risen Lord.

“I just ask for as much of that same grace in my life and in ministry, that I can joyfully serve the Lord and present him to the world in a fashion that will be received.”

Archbishop Charles Thompson of Indianapolis told CNA he knows he has a lot to learn and get to know in his new role, but he’s looking forward to serving God and serving the people of God as the shepherd of the local Church.

After the Mass, each archbishop has an opportunity to greet the Pope. For Archbishop Thompson, this was his first personal encounter with Francis. Though the meeting was brief, Pope Francis "had a glow, had a great smile on his face," he said.

"It really made me think about the joy of the Gospel and talking about having the joy of bringing people to Christ. Even though there's also an awesome responsibility that I feel in this appointment, I just sense that the smile on his face was to do with joy."

"Don't let it overwhelm you. Trust in the Holy Spirit. Trust that God gives you the grace to fulfill this mission. And I'm banking on that, because I'm the least worthy of anybody here,” he said.

Archbishop Etienne said that it was "a great privilege and a great honor" to receive the pallium from Pope Francis.

He was grateful for the Pope's homily, which reminded him that they aren't in this for themselves, but that they are "servants of the Lord."

"Our life is to be giving a confession, our own witness to Christ, and we should not be surprised when the trials and the persecutions come our way; and the best way to get through it is to pray," he said, recalling the Pope's words. "So those are all three pretty good points that he made."

For Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, this was his second time receiving the pallium, the first being when he was appointed Archbishop of Indianapolis in 2012.

"It's always a very moving moment to be with the Holy Father, to feel the connection with bishops from around the world and to deepen what it means to be a bishop," he told CNA.

He explained that out of all the vestments he has to wear, his favorite is the pallium, which is a stole made from white wool and adorned with six black silk crosses. The wearing of the pallium by the Pope and metropolitan archbishops symbolizes authority as well as unity with the Holy See.

One significant thing about the pallium, Cardinal Tobin said, is the symbolism found in how it is worn: around the shoulders.

It shows "the obligation of the bishop to look for the one who's lost, and carry that one back on his shoulders. So that's why when I put it on my shoulders, I remember that," he said.

It is traditional for the Pope to bestow the stole on new archbishops June 29 each year. The rite is a sign of communion with the See of Peter. It also serves as a symbol of the metropolitan archbishop’s jurisdiction in his own diocese as well as the other dioceses within his ecclesiastical province.

However, as a sign of “synodality” with local Churches, Pope Francis decided in 2015 that new metropolitan archbishops will officially be imposed with the pallium in their home diocese, rather than the Vatican.

So while the new archbishops still journey to Rome to receive the pallium during the liturgy with the Pope, the official imposition ceremony is in their home diocese, allowing more faithful and bishops in dioceses under the archbishop’s jurisdiction to attend the event.

Archbishop Thompson, whose installation as Archbishop of Indianapolis will be held July 28, has the unique privilege of being imposed with the pallium at the same Mass as his installation, which he said will be "a great symbol."

Archbishop Etienne was installed as Archbishop of Anchorage on Nov. 9, 2016, so he’s had a few months to begin settling in. "The people in Alaska count winters, so I've been in Anchorage one winter now," he laughed.

Though the weather is cold, the people there are warm, he said, noting that they have all been grateful he accepted the appointment, since it isn't easy to live in Alaska.

"It's a very diverse Church," he explained, but the people have been wonderful, "helping me to understand their ways and to embrace that new territory and all the people that are a part of it."

Both Archbishop Etienne and Archbishop Thompson said that learning about their new appointments came as quite a surprise.

"It's a shock anytime you get one of those phone calls," Archbishop Etienne said.

Moving to Anchorage was not something he expected, but "after a prayerful night, it became clear that if this is where Mother Church has asked me to go and where the Lord is leading, I promised him years ago I would follow. So Alaska's my home now."

Archbishop Thompson, who only received his appointment June 3, said the last few weeks have been "a whirlwind," especially having to plan so quickly for a trip to Rome.

When he received the phone call, he had just returned home from saying an ordination Mass for new priests in his diocese, Evansville. In his homily that day, he said he had preached about missionary discipleship and how one cannot be comfortable or complacent in an assignment, but must be prepared to go out to the people, since it's the Lord who calls us and sends us.

"So when I got this phone call, I got off the phone and thought, 'Who was I preaching to this morning?'"

In Newark, Cardinal Tobin said there are so many people his work can be "daunting" at times, though it's also "wonderful."

"I would say it certainly gets me on my knees, to pray for wisdom and light, and to pray for the people and all their needs," he said.

During his time, Cardinal Tobin has come out strongly about the issue of immigration in the U.S., in May issuing a call for Catholic and political leaders to work in defense of immigrants.

“I think it's a very delicate moment in our history,” he said, both for the many immigrants in the U.S. and for the American soul in general. “Because I think that there are so many things that brutalize the American soul, beginning with abortion, proposals for euthanasia,” he said.

“The rounding up of immigrants, and the completely callous nature toward their suffering, I think, is just another thing that deadens our hearts. I think as spiritual leaders we have to be concerned about it.” 


          For The Cardinal-Prefect, "My Day in Court"   
For all the spectacles the Vatican tends to witness, this one was simply surreal.

At the same dais where the Pope's major documents are unveiled and the global press briefed on Catholicism's showcase events – on what's usually one of the most joyous feasts of the year – today the Curia's third-ranking cardinal addressed his new fate as the church's most senior figure by far to face criminal charges of sexual abuse:


To understand the full import of Cardinal George Pell's return to Australia to appear in court and "clear my name," there's more to it than his current profile as the founding Secretary for the Economy, initially entrusted by Pope Francis with sweeping powers over finances and personnel across the Holy See's sprawling apparatus.

Indeed, what makes the 76 year-old prelate's quick move to go home for an 18 July initial hearing so significant is that Pell has not returned to his homeland since departing in early 2014 to take up his Vatican post – neither for the late 2014 installation of his hand-picked successor in Sydney, Archbishop Anthony Fisher, nor for what became a four day summons to testify before the national inquiry on religious institutions' handling of child abuse, obtained by video link from Rome.

With the scenario of a first-ever court process against a cardinal on sex crimes alleged by "multiple claimants" – the precise nature of which have not been clarified by law enforcement in his native state of Victoria – the Italian media's traditional summer "soap opera" involving the church is now set, albeit some 4,000 miles afield.

Still, despite the inevitable circus that will surround the scrutiny on one of the top rank's most enduring figures – a presence on the global scene over some two decades – for the apex of the Catholic world, it just doesn't get more serious than this.

For starters, even as Pell announced his own "leave" from his Vatican duties – and the Holy See's lead spokesman, Greg Burke, indicated that the cardinal would not "participate in public liturgies" for the duration of the judicial process – the moves amount to a de facto suspension from ministry.

Regardless of whose volition spurred the act, a recusal of the kind is without precedent for a top Curial official. What's more, however, while two decades of revelations of abuse and cover-up have been treated as a political football among the church's ideological camps, Pell is one of the few major prelates whose trajectory and alliances cut across partisan lines.

Long a favorite of the Catholic right for his unapologetic approach to moral teachings, the Oxford-trained onetime fullback – who's long relished his reputation for being a "bull in a china shop" – was initially tapped by then-Pope Benedict XVI to take the helm of the Congregation for Bishops in 2009, a move which would've made the Aussie the first prelate from the English-speaking world to oversee the all-powerful body that recommends candidates for appointments to the pontiff.

In response, what was widely perceived in Rome as a "smear campaign" went into overdrive, raising the specter of a 2002 allegation of abuse against the cardinal which dated to the 1960s. Though Pell had been cleared years earlier by an internal probe chartered by the archdiocese of Sydney, conducted by a retired judge – during which he stood aside as archbishop for several months – the ferocity of opposition to Benedict's plan led the now-retired Pope to scuttle the move before it was formally made. (Along the way, however, Pell's hard-charging style saw him successfully tackle another high-wire Vatican mission: as chair of the Vox Clara committee of senior prelates tasked with managing English liturgical translations, he led the push that brought the group's major project – the long-stymied overhaul of the Roman Missal – to completion and a historic implementation across the Anglophone world in 2011.)

Of course, that wouldn't be the end of the story. Perceived by many as angling for a Roman office from his days as an auxiliary in Melbourne – when, as one Curialist recalled, Pell "was always showing up" at the Vatican – the 2012 outbreak of the Vatileaks fiasco provided the cardinal with an opportunity for payback, and Benedict took him up on it, bringing Pell into an ad hoc group of cardinal-advisers Papa Ratzinger had convened on tackling the crisis.

Months later, the election of Pope Francis would surprisingly bring the Australian's rebound to its zenith – with his profile as a blunt, sharp-elbowed manager (and one seen as wronged by the Vatican's old guard), Pell's temporal acumen landed him a seat on the new pontiff's "Gang of 8" for the reform of the Curia (below), arguably the most surprising choice for the group given his conservative leanings.

Less than a year afterward, Francis would deliver the ultimate call – with the new Pope and his "crown council" determined to clean up the famously murky orbit of the Holy See's finances, Pell was unveiled as the choice to consolidate all control of budgets and investments under one umbrella, a first-ever CFO to replace the small village of separate entities which oversaw various pieces of the books, with varying degrees of success.

To say that the Aussie was ready would be an understatement – Pell's full-time arrival in Rome came shortly after the opening of the Domus Australia, a onetime convent converted into a hostel and event center for pilgrims from Down Under, with an ample living space already created for himself.

To be sure, though, if there was one area that the natives guarded more jealously than appointments, it was the money – and Francis' putting Pell in charge of it was greeted as something of an apocalyptic event. Unlike Benedict, however, Papa Bergoglio's Italian stubbornness wouldn't be as easily conquered.

At least, that's how it seemed at the start. While Francis has stood by his man – re-confirming the cardinal's position after he reached the retirement age of 75 last year – the Curia's penchant for bureaucratic turf-war has challenged Pell's mandate at practically every turn and made significant inroads against the new bureau's initial remit, most prominently in last year's move to suspend a first-ever external audit of all Vatican entities, which had been ordered by the Secretariat.

At the same time, the financial reform hit another major speed-bump last week as Libero Milone – the freshly empowered auditor-general hired by Pell's team – suddenly resigned from the post as reports on the move spoke of an unspecified "ugly situation" that could "get worse."

Amid the fallout from Milone's surprise departure, the Council for the Economy – the mixed group of  15 top prelates and lay experts to which Pell's Secretariat reports – had already summoned its members to an extraordinary meeting set for early July in Rome to discuss the way forward. With the new development of the charges against the cardinal-prefect – and no clarity yet on the leadership of the Economy office in the wake of Pell's leave for the court case – any long-term resolutions just became considerably more difficult.

Back in Australia, meanwhile, the indictment has come as a fresh firestorm for a church already struggling under a cloud of abuse developments. With the cardinal's polarizing shadow ever looming large despite years of absence from the scene, the nation's hierarchy has spent 2017 bracing for what's widely expected to be a damning report from the national inquiry on sex-abuse in religious institutions, which is due by the end of its mandate in mid-December.

Beyond the wide attention – and equal heaping of scorn – that Pell's 2016 testimony to the Royal Commission drew, the Australian archbishops were likewise deposed at length by the panel last February. And in another moment of major impact, a rising star of the Aussie bench – Vietnamese-born Franciscan Bishop Vincent Long of Parramatta – revealed to the probe that he had been a victim of abuse by a cleric.

All the while, another major shoe from Rome is likely soon to drop: the Pope's appointment of the next archbishop of Melbourne – already a critical move given the city's place as the continent's largest local church, yet now even more of a "hot seat" as the venue for Pell's state trial on the charges.

In a letter released after the charges were filed, Sydney's Fisher – himself a civil lawyer – warned his clergy and people that his predecessor's return to face justice "will be unsettling for many of us."

While defending Pell as "a man of integrity in his dealings with others... a thoroughly decent man," the archbishop emphasized that "we must now allow the impartial pursuit of justice," adding that the church "is not responsible" for the cardinal's legal costs and won't be footing them.

Keeping with Australian conventions for the accused, a recent biography which levied a new allegation of abuse by Pell has been pulled from sale in Victoria pending the trial. On another context note, the southern coastal state does not allow cameras in its courts, so the impending hearings will not be filmed nor televised.

-30-
          Cardinal George Pell: I'm Innocent - Catholic 3rd Most Senior Priest Denies Sex Abuse Charge   
By Dansu Peter

Cardinal George Pell
Cardinal George Pell
Photo Source: BBC News
Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican treasurer accused of sex offences in his native Australia has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, descrbing the charge against him as "character assassination", BBC News reports.

The cleric also said the claims against him are "false".

According to BBC News, Pell said the Pope had granted him a leave of absence to fight the charges.

The charges relate to alleged "historical" incidents, police in the state of Victoria said.

The allegations were made by a number of people, said Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton.

Cardinal Pell, 76, who is based in the Vatican, is considered the third-ranking official in the Holy See.


He told a news conference at the Holy See: "I'm looking forward finally to having my day in court.

"I am innocent of these charges, they are false. The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me."

The Catholic Church worldwide has in recent years faced a damaging series of allegations relating to sex abuse by priests, and claims that these cases were covered up.

The BBC's James Reynolds says the charges leave the Church - and the Pope - in an uncomfortable position.

After his election in 2013, Pope Francis created a commission to deal with allegations of sexual abuse by clerics. Now he finds that one of his closest advisers faces charges of his own.

The Vatican's child abuse response
What are the charges?

Victoria Police said they had made the decision to charge Cardinal Pell after receiving advice from prosecutors last month.

"Cardinal Pell is facing multiple charges and there are multiple complainants," Deputy Commissioner Patton said.

Details of the allegations were not revealed.

Deputy Commissioner Patton said police "process and procedures" had been no different from any other investigation.

"Cardinal Pell has been treated the same as anyone else in this investigation," he said.

The charges were served on Cardinal Pell's legal representatives in Melbourne on Thursday.

The cardinal would be required to face the Melbourne Magistrates' Court on 18 July, Deputy Commissioner Patton said.

A magistrate will decide next week whether to release the details and the nature of the charges ahead of the cardinal's court appearance.

Culled from BBC

          Austrailian Police Charge Vatican Cardinal With Sex Offenses   
Associated Press reports: Australian police charged a top Vatican cardinal on Thursday with multiple counts of “historical” sexual assault offenses, a stunning decision certain to rock the highest levels of the Holy See. Cardinal George Pell, Pope Francis’ chief financial … Continue reading 
          Cardinal Pell to take leave while facing abuse charges in Australia   
After Australian police announced that they have charged him on multiple counts of sexual abuse, Cardinal George Pell has maintained his innocence, saying he will take leave from his responsibilities in the Vatican to clear his name. In comments to journalists during a June 29 news briefing at the Holy See Press Office, Cardinal Pell…
          EWTN.com - "Gender Equality" Seen to Be Hindering Women, Holy See Decries Ideology Stopping Advancement   
EWTN.com - "Gender Equality" Seen to Be Hindering Women, Holy See Decries Ideology Stopping Advancement

Archbishop Migliore noted how nearly every international conference document or resolution links the achievement of rights to "a notion of sexual and reproductive health and rights which is violent to unborn human life and is detrimental to the integral needs of women and men within society."

"While at the same time," he added, "only seldom are women’s political, economic and social rights mentioned as an inescapable clause and commitment."

The Church is the champion of true women's rights in the world arena. She finds her focus with the person and her dignity. Other groups want to exploit the difficult situations that women find themselves in socially, economically and politically in order to gain license (and call them rights) for other causes.
          6/30/2017: Bombshell charges for Pell but Pope ‘on side’   

Cardinal George Pell has stood down as the Catholic Church’s global financial chief and vowed to fight historical sex abuse charges in Australia with the broad support of Pope Francis and the Holy See. Victoria Police announced in unprecedented...
          6/30/2017: PELL CHARGED: THE VATICAN   

Greg Burke, Vatican spokesman: The Holy See has learned with regret the news of charges filed in Australia against Cardinal George Pell for decades-old actions that have been attributed to him. Having become aware of the charges, Cardinal Pell, acting...
          Hmmm: Did the Pope rebuke the Vatican Academy for Life on Charlie Gard statement?   
Talk about mixed messages. Earlier today, the Vatican’s official media offered a statement on a EU court’s rejection of Charlie Gard’s parents’ wishes raised eyebrows & questions about a Holy See’s underst&ing of a case. Raar than make a case for a parents to defend life, a Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life instead Drunk Newspeared to castigate […]
          The Witch-Hunt of Cardinal George Pell   
VATICAN CITY, VATICAN - JUNE 29: Australian Cardinal George Pell attends a press conference at the Holy See Press Room on June 29, 2017 in Vatican City, Vatican. Former archbishop of Sydney cardinal Pell has been charged over historic sex assault offences. (Photo by Franco Origlia/Redferns)
"Pell can never receive a fair trial,” writes The Australian columnist Angela Shanahan. She is describing the "media witch-hunt" that has dogged Cardinal George Pell for two years. New and vague charges -- of “historic sexual offenses” -- were filed against Cardinal...
          Pell case brings taint of abuse to top of the Church   

Pell case brings taint of abuse to top of the ChurchAustralia's move to bring sexual assault charges against Cardinal George Pell is the latest chapter in a damaging saga of abuse that the Catholic church has struggled to draw a line under. The 76-year-old is the most senior cleric yet to be directly implicated in a multi-faceted scandal that has plagued the Church for decades but has never before come so close to its highest ranks. As head of a powerful economic department, Pell is one of Pope Francis's closest advisors, his point-man on cleaning up Vatican finances and the number three in the Holy See's hierarchy.



          Cardinal Pell to travel to Australia to fight abuse charges   
Kate Jones, 7News in Melbourne, reports on the charges of sexual abuse against Cardinal George Pell, the treasurer to the Vatican, and the third highest ranked official in the Holy See
          Traditional Christianity Is Making A Comeback In France   
Submitted by Szellem ** One of the things that I see all too frequently on dissident sites is a strong distaste for Christianity in and of itself. As the Alt-Right picks up momentum, however, it will become ever more crucial to make sure we don’t push all Christians away. Now before you skip to the bottom and write an angry comment, hear me out. I’m a French-American based in Northern France, I moved here about two years ago from the United States and have had the perverse pleasure of watching the country accelerate toward the edge of the cliff. But one of the things I was surprised to find here is a thriving and growing reactionary movement. And I mean reactionary in its original political sense, I’m talking about people reacting against the French Revolution (which I’m sure most of us can agree was a rather negative turning point in the history of the West). I’m talking about people well to the right of Marine Le Pen and her party and even to the right of her niece, Marion Maréchal-Le Pen. Who are these people? Well, they’re Traditionalist Catholics. When the Catholic Church decided to go full leftist during the Vatican 2 Council in the Sixties, a certain French Archbishop (Marcel Lefebvre) decided to hold back the night and to continue celebrating the Mass as the Church has done for over a thousand years. To make an exceedingly long story short, he found a lot of success in France, Switzerland, and, surprising, Germany. His fraternity, the Fraternity of Saint Pius X currently rests in a state of semi-communion with the Holy See itself because the Fraternity is just too conservative for the ruling set in Rome right now. Even within the Church various traditionalist movements have taken root and are growing at a fast clip (almost entirely in Europe and the USA). Organizations like the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, etc. The Catholic Church is an inherently reactionary organization that got co-opted by liberals in the 60s, but there are those of us working to take it back. But in France, Catholic Traditionalism goes beyond the Church. One thing that needs to be understood about traditionalism as a Catholic movement in France, is that these people don’t want to just go back to the old Mass and teachings of the Church. They want it ALL back; they want France as she existed before the Revolution. And, yes, that means a France made up of French people, or rather a France made up of the different regional ethnicities. Catholic Traditionalism in France is also very regionalist and the schools they run tend to have a high focus on regional traditions, especially in regions with a particularly unique culture (Basque country, Brittany, etc). Further, their schools are among the few places safe from Republican indoctrination, as they are all hors contrat (meaning the state pays them nothing, but in return, the school controls their own curriculum). These schools continue to grow at an incredible rate with new ones opening practically yearly. Why? Because Traditionalist Catholics are one of, if not the, most fecund groups in all of France. As they tend to marry young and place a high emphasis on bearing kids, one can expect these families to have upward of eight or nine children. I’m not even kidding, this is the norm in many Traditionalist communities. This is possible because Feminism has been thoroughly and completely crushed within Catholic Traditionalism. Girls and boys are educated differently and the expectations are very, well, traditional. Women have an important and respected role to play in this society and it is the role of caregiver and mother. And it is from this Traditionalist stock that a very large portion of Génération Identitaire is formed (probably the majority in France, I can’t speak for Austria and Germany). ‘Trads’ can also be found in organizations like Deus Vult (yes that is a real organization in France) and older, more storied ones like Action Française. These people are strong, faithful, and perhaps most importantly, fecund Catholics that believe in a France for the French and a return to traditional values. And that’s the thing, traditional French culture IS Catholic culture. There is no way around it. As much as certain poorly educated Youtube demagogues might go on about how the true European culture is pagan… well, that’s just not the case in France. We have no connection to that part of our history and, as evidenced by our language, our culture pretty much starts with the Roman occupation and Christianity followed hot on its heels. All the great works of art, literature, architecture, music, conquest, etc. that came from France, came from a Catholic France.  This is what they want to protect and return to, the dark abyss that is pre-Roman Gaul has very little to offer us. These Catholics are not backing down and they are constantly growing in number. Already they can easily pull tens of thousands for their major pilgrimages in the summer and their dozens of schools are producing strong, proud Frenchmen with an idea of who they are. Traditional Catholicism in the future of Christianity in France and it is a far cry from the lukewarm hugs and feels Christianity like that which brought Somalis to Minneapolis or hangs Pride flags on the steeple. The Alt-Right and reaction, in general, is succeeding in France like nowhere else. The biggest risk is an unnecessary internal divide over religion.
          Top Vatican cardinal will return to fight Australia sex charges - church   

Pope Francis' financial adviser is being charged in Australia with multiple counts of historical sexual assault, in a stunning move certain to rock the highest levels of the Holy See. http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/top-vatican-cardinal-will-return-to-fight-australia-sex-charges-church-35877035.html http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/article35877034.ece/86455/AUTOCROP/h342/PANews%20BT_P-a82efef0-ddfe-46e0-bb1e-e09b9332b188_I1.jpg Pope Francis' financial adviser is being charged in Australia with multiple counts of historical sexual assault, in a stunning move certain to rock the highest levels of the Holy See.


          Vatican Treasurer and Former Archbishop Charged with Child Sex Offenses   

Cardinal George Pell, the highest-ranking Catholic official in Australia and the sitting prefect of the Secretariat of the economy for the Vatican (the Church’s treasurer) has been charged with multiple sexual offenses by Australian authorities.

SPUTNIK| “Cardinal Pell is facing multiple charges and there are multiple complainants,” said Shane Patton, the deputy commissioner of the Victoria Police Department, during a press conference.

“For clarity, I want to be perfectly clear, the process and procedures that are being followed in the charging of Cardinal Pell have been the same that have been applied in a whole range of historical sex offences whenever we investigate them,” Patton added.

“Cardinal Pell, like any other defendant, has a right to due process and so therefore, it is important that the process is allowed to run its natural course.”

Pell has consistently denied all charges. “I stand by everything I’ve said at the royal commission [on child sexual abuse] and in other places. We have to respect due process, wait until it’s concluded and obviously I’ll continue to cooperate fully,” he told reporters. Pell is to appear at court on July 18.

Pell has been a cardinal since 2003 and was the archbishop of Sydney and Melbourne from 2001 until 2014. In 2014, he was made the Vatican’s treasurer and has thus been living in Rome. Australian authorities have commanded the 76-year-old official to return to stand trial, and Pell said that he was willing to make the journey. Previously in 2014, he declined to return to Australia to testify at a royal commission on child sexual abuse in the church. Pell, citing ill health, instead testified over videolink.

During his testimony, Pell told prosecutors that he didn’t believe it fair to blame the Catholic Church for the actions of its officials. In a comment that drew much controversy, he likened the Holy See to a trucking company: “If the truck driver picks up some lady and then molests her, I don’t think it’s appropriate, because it is contrar...


          Cardinal Pell: 'I'm looking forward finally to having my day in court' – video   
Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s most senior Catholic and the third highest ranking official in the Vatican, tells reporters he is taking leave from the Holy See to return to Australia to face histor ... - Source: www.theguardian.com
          Holy See ‘regrets’ charges against Cardinal George Pell   
The Holy See today issued a statement in response to news that one of the Vatican’s top officials – Cardinal George Pell, 76, above, left, with Pope Francis – had been charged with multiple “historical” sexual offences. Its press office said: The Holy See has learned with regret the news of charges filed in Australia […]
          Friday Ramble - For the Roses   
One has to love entities so exotic and lavishly endowed. The roses of summer are glorious creatures in their time of blooming, be their flowering an interval lasting a few days or one lasting all summer long.

All artful curves and lush fragrance, velvety petals and fringed golden hearts, the blooms are lavishly dappled with dew at dawn, and they're a rare treat for these old eyes as early sunlight moves across them. If we are fortunate, there will be roses blooming in our garden until late autumn, and we three (Himself, Beau and I) hold the thought close.

The word rose hails from the Old English rose, thence from the Latin rosa and the Greek rhoda. Predating these are the Aeolic wrodon and the Persian vrda-, and at the beginning of it all, the Proto-Indo-European (PIE) form wrdho- meaning "thorn or bramble". Most of our roses have thorns to reckon with, and none more so than this morning's offering We can see this exquisite bloom from our bedroom windows, and watching it, we find ourselves falling in love with roses all over again.  They are particularly lovely as they mature, graceful as they fade and wither and dwindle, their petals falling away and fluttering to the earth like confetti.

There's a bittersweet and poignant aspect to such thoughts after the summer solstice, and I remember feeling the same way last year around this time. Here we are again in the second half of a calendar year and pottering down the luscious golden slope to autumn and beyond. Bumbles love roses, and they spend their sunlight hours flying from one bloom to another. My pleasure in the season and a gentle melancholy seem to be all wrapped up together in falling rose petals and blissed out bumblebees. 

Call it wabi sabi and treasure the feelings—elemental expressions of wonder, rootedness and connection, the suchness of all things. How sweet it is, thorns and all.

          BLOG: Canonization   
From Protestant Old Paths

The definition of canonization is given as "The act of admitting a deceased person into the canon of the saints. The RC Church has an elaborate procedure for a person to be canonized. Vatican City published the canonical procedure on September 12th, 1997.

The actual procedure was laid down by Pope John Paul II in the Apostolic Constitution 'Divinus Perfectionist Magister', promulgated on January 25, 1983. It is instructive to understand the elaborate procedure and see how completely it is at odds with Holy Writ. It is my intention to publish the whole rigmarole and then consider what the Word of God has to say about who the saints are and why they are called saints.

  1. "To begin a cause it is necessary for at least five years to have passed since the death of the candidate. This is to allow greater balance and objectivity in evaluating the case and to let the emotions of the moment to dissipate.

  2. The bishop of the diocese in which the person whose beatification is being requested is responsible for the beginning of the investigation. The promoter group ('Actor Causae'); diocese, parish, religious congregation, association, asks the bishop through the postulator for the opening of the investigation. The bishop, once the 'nulla osta' (an official declaration not to be against something or someone) of the Holy See is obtained, forms a diocesan tribunal for this purpose. Witnesses are called before the tribunal to recount concrete facts on the exercise of Christian virtues considered heroic, that is, the theological virtues; faith, hope, charity, and the cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude, and others specific to his status in life. In addition, all documents regarding the candidate must be gathered. At this point he is entitled to the title Servant of God.

  3. Once the diocesan investigation is finished, the documentation is passed on to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. The public document for further work is put together there. The postulator (Person who represents plea for beatification), resident in Rome, follows the preparation of the 'Posito' (to put forward the factual basis for argument), or summary of the documentation that proves the heroic exercise of virtue, under the direction of a relator of the Congregation. The 'Posito' undergoes an examination (theological) by nine theologians who give their vote. If the majority of theologians are in favour, the cause is passed for examination by cardinals and bishops who are members of the congregation. They hold meetings twice a month. If the judgement is favourable, the prefect of the congregation presents the results of the entire course of the cause to the Holy Father (Pope), who gives his approval and authorises the congregation to draft the relative decree. The promulgation and publishing of the decree follows.

  4. For the beatification of a confessor a miracle attributed to the Servant of God, verified after his death, is necessary, The required miracle must be proven through the appropriate canonical investigation, following a procedure analogous to that for heroic virtues. This one too is concluded with the relative decree. Once the two decrees are promulgated (regarding heroic virtues and the miracle), the Holy Father decides on beatification, which is the concession of public worship, limited to a particular sphere. With beatification the candidate receives the title of Blessed.

  5. For canonization another miracle is needed, attributed to the intercession of the Blessed having occurred after his beatification. The methods for ascertainment of the affirmed miracle are the same as those followed for beatification. Canonization is understood as the concession of public worship in the Universal Church. Pontifical infallibility is involved. With canonization, the Blessed acquires the title of Saint."

From the above a number of issues need to be considered. Firstly, the person is made a saint because of their works. Secondly, this is confirmed by at least two miracles after they are dead; one as a result of somebody praying to him/her, and the other, after beatification, as a result of the intercession of the person beatified. Thirdly, it is the RC Church that decides who is and isn't a saint. Fourthly, it has to have the "Holy Father's" approval and, according to the document, his "infallibility is involved." Let us then consider these four points from a Biblical perspective.

  1. According to the Scriptures, saints are those who have repented of their sins and have sought and received forgiveness from the Lord Jesus Christ. They are not saints by virtue of their works but by virtue of their faith in the once and for all sacrifice of Christ upon the cross and his imputed righteousness. Hence all believers in the Bible are addressed as saints.

  2. Biblical saints are saints before they die. Their sainthood does not depend on any miracle. Should God be pleased to perform a miracle in answer to prayer, it is not because of any good in the individual.

  3. Thirdly, it is not the Church's prerogative, that is the true Church, to canonize anybody. One of the outstanding characteristics of the RC Church is its usurpation of that which belongs to God alone. This is especially true of the Pope. How well Paul, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, describe the claims of the papacy then future. "Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." 2 Thessalonians 2 v4.

  4. If papal infallibility is involved, why the necessity of the prolonged procedures? Why can't the pope, using his infallibility, declare all would be saints to be saints without all the palaver?

The whole thing is a devilish charade which deceives millions, including so-called Evangelicals. Why do they join forces with the Harlot Church when that church's teaching is clean contrary to the Word of God? If they profess to "Love Jesus" as they claim, then they should honour His Word and hate everything that is contrary to that Word. The prophet Isaiah could well have been referring of such people when he declared; "Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:" Isaiah 29 v 13. It simply does not add up that those who say they believe the Bible can fellowship with and call them brother who by precept and action teach doctrine of devils.

If anybody wants further information on canonization Roman style go to their web sites.

Pastor David Carson

          Comment on President Trump to Name Callista Gingrich Ambassador to Vatican by Denis Brown-Bouvier   
If Trump is going to name Calista Gingrich the ambassador to The Holy See, she should wear a big red letter "A" on her clothes, so everyone will know she is an.... ambassador
          New US archbishops look forward to serving God in their local Churches   

Vatican City, Jun 29, 2017 / 11:49 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Newly-appointed metropolitan archbishops from around the world received the traditional woolen vestment called a pallium during a special Mass with Pope Francis on Thursday.

For the three new metropolitan archbishops of American sees, the experience was a reminder of their mission as shepherds of their local Churches, called to follow God and lead others to him.

The Mass, celebrated on the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, was significant for Archbishop Paul Etienne of Anchorage, who told CNA June 29 he was “very mindful of the accompanying presence of these great saints.”

He is inspired by their great love for Christ and the Church, he said, and by the courage with which they went out into the world after encountering the Risen Lord.

“I just ask for as much of that same grace in my life and in ministry, that I can joyfully serve the Lord and present him to the world in a fashion that will be received.”

Archbishop Charles Thompson of Indianapolis told CNA he knows he has a lot to learn and get to know in his new role, but he’s looking forward to serving God and serving the people of God as the shepherd of the local Church.

After the Mass, each archbishop has an opportunity to greet the Pope. For Archbishop Thompson, this was his first personal encounter with Francis. Though the meeting was brief, Pope Francis "had a glow, had a great smile on his face," he said.

"It really made me think about the joy of the Gospel and talking about having the joy of bringing people to Christ. Even though there's also an awesome responsibility that I feel in this appointment, I just sense that the smile on his face was to do with joy."

"Don't let it overwhelm you. Trust in the Holy Spirit. Trust that God gives you the grace to fulfill this mission. And I'm banking on that, because I'm the least worthy of anybody here,” he said.

Archbishop Etienne said that it was "a great privilege and a great honor" to receive the pallium from Pope Francis.

He was grateful for the Pope's homily, which reminded him that they aren't in this for themselves, but that they are "servants of the Lord."

"Our life is to be giving a confession, our own witness to Christ, and we should not be surprised when the trials and the persecutions come our way; and the best way to get through it is to pray," he said, recalling the Pope's words. "So those are all three pretty good points that he made."

For Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, this was his second time receiving the pallium, the first being when he was appointed Archbishop of Indianapolis in 2012.

"It's always a very moving moment to be with the Holy Father, to feel the connection with bishops from around the world and to deepen what it means to be a bishop," he told CNA.

He explained that out of all the vestments he has to wear, his favorite is the pallium, which is a stole made from white wool and adorned with six black silk crosses. The wearing of the pallium by the Pope and metropolitan archbishops symbolizes authority as well as unity with the Holy See.

One significant thing about the pallium, Cardinal Tobin said, is the symbolism found in how it is worn: around the shoulders.

It shows "the obligation of the bishop to look for the one who's lost, and carry that one back on his shoulders. So that's why when I put it on my shoulders, I remember that," he said.

It is traditional for the Pope to bestow the stole on new archbishops June 29 each year. The rite is a sign of communion with the See of Peter. It also serves as a symbol of the metropolitan archbishop’s jurisdiction in his own diocese as well as the other dioceses within his ecclesiastical province.

However, as a sign of “synodality” with local Churches, Pope Francis decided in 2015 that new metropolitan archbishops will officially be imposed with the pallium in their home diocese, rather than the Vatican.

So while the new archbishops still journey to Rome to receive the pallium during the liturgy with the Pope, the official imposition ceremony is in their home diocese, allowing more faithful and bishops in dioceses under the archbishop’s jurisdiction to attend the event.

Archbishop Thompson, whose installation as Archbishop of Indianapolis will be held July 28, has the unique privilege of being imposed with the pallium at the same Mass as his installation, which he said will be "a great symbol."

Archbishop Etienne was installed as Archbishop of Anchorage on Nov. 9, 2016, so he’s had a few months to begin settling in. "The people in Alaska count winters, so I've been in Anchorage one winter now," he laughed.

Though the weather is cold, the people there are warm, he said, noting that they have all been grateful he accepted the appointment, since it isn't easy to live in Alaska.

"It's a very diverse Church," he explained, but the people have been wonderful, "helping me to understand their ways and to embrace that new territory and all the people that are a part of it."

Both Archbishop Etienne and Archbishop Thompson said that learning about their new appointments came as quite a surprise.

"It's a shock anytime you get one of those phone calls," Archbishop Etienne said.

Moving to Anchorage was not something he expected, but "after a prayerful night, it became clear that if this is where Mother Church has asked me to go and where the Lord is leading, I promised him years ago I would follow. So Alaska's my home now."

Archbishop Thompson, who only received his appointment June 3, said the last few weeks have been "a whirlwind," especially having to plan so quickly for a trip to Rome.

When he received the phone call, he had just returned home from saying an ordination Mass for new priests in his diocese, Evansville. In his homily that day, he said he had preached about missionary discipleship and how one cannot be comfortable or complacent in an assignment, but must be prepared to go out to the people, since it's the Lord who calls us and sends us.

"So when I got this phone call, I got off the phone and thought, 'Who was I preaching to this morning?'"

In Newark, Cardinal Tobin said there are so many people his work can be "daunting" at times, though it's also "wonderful."

"I would say it certainly gets me on my knees, to pray for wisdom and light, and to pray for the people and all their needs," he said.

During his time, Cardinal Tobin has come out strongly about the issue of immigration in the U.S., in May issuing a call for Catholic and political leaders to work in defense of immigrants.

“I think it's a very delicate moment in our history,” he said, both for the many immigrants in the U.S. and for the American soul in general. “Because I think that there are so many things that brutalize the American soul, beginning with abortion, proposals for euthanasia,” he said.

“The rounding up of immigrants, and the completely callous nature toward their suffering, I think, is just another thing that deadens our hearts. I think as spiritual leaders we have to be concerned about it.” 


          Pope Pushes Out German Hardliner, Chooses New Doctrine Chief   
Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller arrives in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican to attend the weekly general audience. Pope Francis has declined to renew the mandate of the Vatican's conservative doctrine chief, tapping instead the No. 2 to lead the powerful congregation that handles sex abuse cases and guarantees Catholic orthodoxy around the world. In a short statement Saturday, July , 2017, the Vatican said Francis thanked Cardinal Gerhard Mueller for his service. Mueller's five-year term ends this weekend and he turns 75 in December, the normal retirement age for bishops.

VATICAN CITY (AP, JULY 01, 2017) — Pope Francis on Saturday pushed out the Vatican's conservative doctrine chief, tapping a deputy instead to lead the powerful congregation that handles sex abuse cases and guarantees Catholic orthodoxy around the world.

Francis and German Cardinal Gerhard Mueller had clashed, most recently over the pope's cautious opening to letting civilly remarried Catholics receive Communion. Mueller had insisted they cannot, given church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.

In a short statement, the Vatican said Francis had thanked Mueller for his service. Mueller's five-year term ends this weekend and he turns 70 in December. The normal retirement age for bishops is 75.

Francis could have kept him on, but declined to do so. The Jesuit pope instead tapped the No. 2 in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Jesuit Monsignor Luis Ladaria Ferrer, to succeed Mueller.

Francis' refusal to renew Mueller's mandate marked his latest move to remake the Holy See's hierarchy more in his mercy-over-morals likeness, following earlier moves to replace hard-line conservatives in the Vatican high court and office responsible for the world's clergy.

It was also the second major shake-up this week, after Francis granted another Vatican hardliner, Cardinal George Pell, a leave of absence to return to his native Australia to face trial on sexual assault charges.

Mueller and Pell were two most powerful cardinals in the Vatican, after the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. Their absences, coupled with Francis' earlier demotion of Cardinal Raymond Burke as the Vatican's chief justice, will likely create a power vacuum for the conservative wing in the Holy See hierarchy.

Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI had tapped Mueller, his fellow German countryman, to lead the congregation in 2012. Benedict had taken a hard line against clerical sex abuse during his time as prefect of the congregation himself, and later as pope, defrocking hundreds of priests accused of raping and molesting children.

It was also Benedict who insisted that bishops around the world send all cases of credibly accused priests to the congregation for processing, since bishops had for decades moved pedophiles around from parish to parish rather than sanction or report them to police.

During Mueller's tenure, the sex abuse caseload piled up as more and more victims came forward from Latin America, Europe and beyond. Last year, Francis confirmed there was a 2,000-case backlog, and he set about naming new officials in the congregation's discipline section to process the overload.

Mueller's handling of the abuse portfolio came under fire from Marie Collins, an Irish survivor of abuse. Collins resigned from Francis' sex abuse advisory commission in March in frustration of what she said was the congregation's "unacceptable" resistance to accepting the commission's advice on how to better respond to victims.

But the greater clash between Mueller and the pope concerned Francis' divisive 2016 document on family life "The Joy of Love," in which he used strategically placed footnotes to offer a cautious opening to letting divorced and civilly remarried Catholics receive Communion.

Church teaching holds that unless these Catholics receive an annulment, or a church decree that their first marriage was invalid, they are committing adultery and cannot receive Communion unless they abstain from sex. For a variety of reasons, such annulments often cannot be obtained.

Four conservative cardinals have led the charge attacking the pope's document as vague and confusing and publicly requesting Francis clarify it. Mueller didn't join their campaign, and in fact defended the document by insisting it in no way allows Communion for these Catholics because church tradition simply could not permit it.

But he has made clear he disagrees with Francis' suggestion that any such decisions could be arrived at in the realm of personal discernment. "A privatization of the sacramental economy would certainly not be Catholic," he argued in a 2016 speech.

Ladaria, a Spanish Jesuit, was appointed No. 2 in the congregation in 2008 by Benedict. Francis last year appointed him to lead a commission to study whether women could be deacons in the church.

This version has been corrected to show that Mueller is turning 70 in December, not 75.
          Pope Francis Makes Interesting Statement By Replacing Conservative Doctrinal Chief   

Pope Francis Replaces Cardinal Gerhard Mueller

It’s been a rough few days for the Catholic Church. First, Australian Cardinal George Pell — the third-ranking official in the Holy See — was charged with sexual abuse after the police received several complaints from alleged victims. Pope Francis made a statement by refusing to have the Vatican pay for Cardinal Pell’s attorney fees, and by putting him on leave, even though the cardinal maintains his innocence.

Now the pope — who has distinguished himself by making progressive statements that no other pope would’ve ever dreamed of making — is shaking things up again after he decided to replace German Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, Catholicism’s top theologian.

Click here to continue and read more...


          Be Sealed With The Gift of the Holy Spirit   
Last night was Evans's Confirmation Mass at St. Rose. He's been preparing for it for some time now (of course). Last year he attended his Religious Ed classes at St. Joe's. This year he went to weekly YRE classes at St. Rose on Monday nights. Along the way he had to memorize material and pass tests and complete hours (about 20 I think) of community service.The culmination was last night.

Cathy and I were very proud of him for all he had done to prepare and the serious approach he took to the sacrament. (In the picture you can see how serious he looks.)

When the moment of his confirmation came, he stepped forward boldly. Deacon Bassett announced his chosen name and the Monsignor said, "Ferdinand, be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Evan answered a firm, "Amen".

The Monsignor embraced him saying, "Peace be with you" and Evan answered (again firmly) "And also with you."

Pictured with him in the photo on the right are his sponsor (behind him) and the back of Deacon Bassett's head. The Monsignor is somewhat hidden as a result of the angle from which I shot the photo.

Those who are familiar with the Faith may be wondering why the Monsignor administered the sacrament. After all, the Bishop is the usual Minister of Confirmation.

The answer is simple, really. We are presently Bishop-less. Bishop Neiderhauer was assigned to be an Arch-Bishop in California and the Holy See hasn't named a replacement yet. The Diocesan administrator delegated the task of confirmation to Monsignor Bonnell. So, EBC has received all of his sacraments thus far from the same priest. Pretty cool, huh?
          The Francis Inquisition – Amid Tumult on Amoris and Abuse, Pope Switches Hands at CDF   
Capping a week of shockwaves at the topmost levels of the Roman Curia, at Roman Noon this Saturday, the Pope declined to reconfirm Cardinal Gerhard Müller as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the close of the German's first five-year mandate, and handed the reins of the "Holy Office" to its longtime #2 official, Archbishop Luis Ladaria SJ.

Despite the delicacy of the formal language, the move can indeed be viewed as Francis' ouster of the 69 year-old German, who brought a combination of firmness on moral teaching and affinity for liberation theology to the Doctrine office upon his appointment by then-Pope Benedict XVI five years ago tomorrow.

Under normal circumstances, a pontiff's renewal of a Curial prefect for successive quinquennial terms is a pro forma act done without public notification.

Himself a veteran collaborator of Joseph Ratzinger over the latter's quarter-century at the CDF's helm, Ladaria, 73, has served as the congregation's secretary since 2008. With his ascent to the top post, the Spanish Jesuit takes on the additional duties linked to the role: the presidencies of the International Theological Commission, the Pontifical Biblical Commission and the Ecclesia Dei Commission, the lead liaison for the church's relations with traditionalist groups and questions on the use of the pre-Conciliar "Extraordinary Form" of the Roman rite.

On a related front, Ecclesia Dei is the Curial organ responsible for the ongoing reconciliation talks with the Society of St Pius X, which have notched multiple major inroads through the last year, paving the way to the Swiss-based group's potential return to communion with the Catholic church. Yet another major item in the main congregation's portfolio – of particular interest in the English-speaking world – is its complete jurisdiction over the Personal Ordinariates for former Anglicans, which were established in England, North America and Australia by Benedict following 2009's Anglicanorum coetibus.

The historic successor to the "Holy Office of the Inquisition" – rechristened after Vatican II – the congregation's founding dates to 1542. The principal Congregation of the Curia, amid Francis' ongoing reform CDF (its Sant'Uffizio headquarters seen below) is now viewed as ranking third among the dicasteries, after the Secretariats of State and for the Economy.

In making the shift official roughly 18 hours after reports began to swirl – yet could not be independently verified – that Müller was told of his departure in an audience yesterday with the Pope, the Holy See gave no indication of the 69 year-old cardinal's next assignment. While some speculation has tipped the theological heavyweight for the role of Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, as of late Friday Whispers ops close to that post's current holder, Cardinal Edwin O'Brien, were blindsided on learning of said rumors, and relayed that the 78 year-old New Yorker – who was en route to the US for this holiday weekend – had not been informed of any move.

As for Müller's potential landing spots, it's worth noting that no major posts in his homeland – where he served as bishop of B16's adopted base of Regensburg until his transfer to Rome – are currently open. Closing out a recent flurry of top-level moves in Germany, the last key post to go was Mainz, where Francis named Peter Kohlgraf – a 50 year-old pastoral theologian – in April as successor to Cardinal Karl Lehmann, the progressive titan who chaired the country's formidable bishops' conference for two decades.

While the now-former CDF chief had drawn considerable attention for staking out a skeptical position on Francis' potential openings in Amoris Laetitia toward the civilly remarried and others in difficult situations vis a vis church teaching, it bears no less recalling that Müller had come in for ferocious criticism by survivors of clergy sex-abuse and their advocates given the office's role as the church's global clearinghouse of those cases. Above all, the cardinal was roundly blasted by the prominent Irish survivor Marie Collins, who resigned her seat on the Pope's new Commission for the Protection of Minors (PCPM) in April over the congregation's refusal to comply with Francis' directive that they reply to inquiries sent by victims, then continued to rap Müller for not changing course after the fact.

Among other related issues was the CDF's ostensible resistance to the pontiff's 2015 push to establish a tribunal to hear cases of abuse of office by bishops, a block that forced Francis to devise a workaround in norms issued last year. In a move that was taken as a sign of papal frustration on the accountability front, in mid-January the Pope conspicuously named the head of the PCPM, Boston's Cardinal Seán O'Malley OFM Cap., to the congregation's membership despite the Capuchin's lack of an advanced background in theology.

Along the way, too, Francis had gradually undercut Müller's standing by openly highlighting other figures on theological issues, most prominently Cardinals Walter Kasper and Christoph Schönborn, and the Argentine Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernández, the pontiff's longtime confidant, widely reputed to be the "ghostwriter" of Papa Bergoglio's major texts.

Developing... you were told there was "more to come," eh?

-30-
          Holy Synod of Antioch speaks on Crete event   
I'm aware that this document is a bit old, but it never did get posted here and deserves to be read.

(Patriarchate of Antioch) - At the end of the seventh extraordinary session which begun on May 25th 2016, the Holy Synod of Antioch convened on June 27, 2016 in Balamand. The Synod was presided by His Beatitude Patriarch John X, with the participation of the Bishops of the Holy See of Antioch,

The fathers congratulated their children on the occasion of the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, the holy, glorious and all-praised leaders of the Apostles, and the founders of the Holy See of Antioch. This See is where the disciples were called Christians first, and where its children continue to witness for the Risen Christ, especially in our beloved Antioch, and in Syria the martyr, in Lebanon the sufferer, in Iraq the injured, and in all the Gulf countries and the Archdioceses abroad, in the Americas, Australia and Europe. The Fathers recalled their brother Metropolitan Paul (Yazigi), the Archbishop of Aleppo who has been kidnapped for more than three years, amidst willful blindness by all. His Eminence Metropolitan Paul, along with his brother Metropolitan Youhanna (Ibrahim), and all those kidnapped constantly remain present in the prayers and supplications of the faithful and in the daily Church testimony. The fathers lift up their prayers for the repose of the souls of all those martyred because of being called Christian, and ask their prayers before the Divine Throne, that God may strengthen His Church and give His children the power and wisdom to faithfully witness, here and now, Christ Risen from the dead.

The fathers discussed the issue of the Great Orthodox Council, which the Orthodox Church has prepared to convene since more than fifty years. The Antiochian Church had asked to delay the convocation of this Council, in order to strengthen the Pan-Orthodox unity, secure Orthodox unanimity on the debatable issues of its agenda, and that the ecclesiological conditions open up for the participation of all the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches.

Whereas the Antiochian request to delay the Council, along with the requests of the Russian, Bulgarian, and Georgian Churches, were not accepted, and whereas it was originally intended for the Council to be a pan Orthodox Council, but was convened in the absence of four Autocephalous Churches representing more than half of the Orthodox faithful in the world,

Whereas the call to this meeting has ignored the necessity of establishing Orthodox conciliarity on the basis of total Eucharistic communion among the Churches, which is the basis for the formation of this conciliarity, especially by ignoring to seek a solution to the Jerusalemite aggression on the canonical jurisdiction of the See of Antioch before the convocation of the Council, through a decision made by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to delay the negotiation till after the Council,

Whereas the statements and declarations issued by the participants unjustly blamed the absent Churches, and did not blame the side that was leading the preparatory stage,

And after looking into the statements of the ambiance, statements, and positions made in the meeting at the island of Crete, and all the fallacies that circulated recently, the fathers made the following observations:
First: The fathers affirm that the common Orthodox work is based on the participation and unanimity of all the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches. They like to remind that this principle is not a new Antiochian position, but is a fixed Orthodox principle established by the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras of Thrice Blessed memory upon launching the preparatory work for the Council. He was followed by his successor Patriarch Dimitrios of Thrice Blessed memory in whose era the regulations for the preparatory pre-conciliar meetings were formulated. The articles of these regulations clearly show that the call for any conciliar work, even if it was on the level of a preparatory meeting, is done by the Ecumenical Patriarch, after the approval of all the Churches’ Primates, and that all decisions are taken unanimously, by all Autocephalous Churches before they are submitted to the Great Council.

Second: The fathers recalled that His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew had emphasized as well this principle during the pre-conciliar preparatory meetings. Particularly, he decided to suspend the works of the preparatory committee in 1999, because of the withdrawal of one church from the above-mentioned meeting. This issue resulted in putting off the preparatory works for the Great Council for a period of ten years. The fathers wondered about how could it be that one church’s absence led to the suspension of the preparatory work of the Council, while some consider that it is permissible for the “Great Council” to convene and meet in the absence of four autocephalous Orthodox Churches!

Third: The fathers noted that the principle of unanimity was reaffirmed upon the re-launching of the preparatory works of the Council in 2009. During the fourth preparatory conference held in 2009, the Antiochian delegation advisor Mr. Albert Laham of blessed memory emphasized the necessity of this principle in the process of decision taking, reminding that if there is no unanimity on one subject, this subject is deferred to the preparatory committee for further study, as the Rules of Procedure of Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conferences state. At that time, this proposal was welcomed by all participating Churches, including the conference chairman. This proposal had led to taking a decision about the issue of the Diaspora and the Episcopal Assemblies.

Fourth: The fathers reiterate that the Antiochian position calling for building up accord through assuring the unanimity of all Autocephalous Orthodox Churches on the subjects of the agenda had as a purpose to strengthen Orthodox unity in the preparatory phase, according to the Orthodox tradition. The Church of Antioch did not expect that this stable principle, which She just reminded of, would become a controversial issue, and this stable principle be defied by those who originally established it and defended it as a guarantee to Orthodox unity. This unity cannot be achieved if any of the Churches is excluded from the decision making process, or if Her proposals are ignored. Here, we would like to mention the fact that the Synaxis of the Churches’ Primates held in January 2014 has affirmed this principle when it decided to have all decisions worked during the Council and the preparatory period to be taken by consensus. The fathers ask how can this consensus be achieved with the refusal of the Antiochian Church to the decisions of the aforementioned synaxis (2014) and the Chambésy Synaxis (2016)? How could this consensus be achieved in Crete in the absence of four Orthodox Churches?

Fifth: The Fathers reaffirm that the Antiochian position requesting the postponement of the Great Councils convocation in case of the absence of unanimity on its subjects was not a new position. The Antiochian Church has clearly expressed about her position throughout all preparatory phases of the Council during the last two years. This position was in accordance with the role of Antioch had, always refusing to ignore any Autocephalous Church in the common Orthodox work. Therefore, all that was published in the media about the implicit acceptance of the Antiochian Church to participate in the Council was incorrect, and all the analysis about the political dimensions of the absence of Antioch from the Crete meeting remains as a totally false political analysis. The acceptance of Antioch by economia to participate in the preparatory works does not mean concession on Her part about the aforementioned positions. Rather, Her participation was an effort to remove all obstacles which was, and still is, preventing the convocation of the Council.

Sixth: The fathers are surprised by the positions of some Churches which have recently called to bypass the principle of unanimity, or interpreting this principle in a different manner than what state the Rules of Procedure of Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conferences, adopted in 1986, signed by all representatives, and used accordingly even during the fifth preparatory conference held in October 2015. They are also surprised by all the positions that were recently declaring that the convocation of the Council on the specified date is more important than the conciliarity of the Church and Her unity. In this regard, the Church of Antioch would like to thank all the Churches that endorsed her rightful position, especially the Churches of Russia, Georgia, Bulgaria, and Serbia.

Seventh: The Fathers would like to remind their brethren meeting in Crete of Article 17 of the Rules of Procedure of Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conferences adopted in 1986 which considers that, “In case one specific subject, discussed during the conference, is not accepted unanimously, the decision about it is abandoned and it is deferred to the Secretariat of the pre-conciliar preparatory meeting for further study and preparation according to the process known on the Pan-Orthodox level.” Also, the content of the fourth article of the same Rules of Procedure states that: “It is not allowed to remove or add any subject on this list of subjects which were prepared and agreed upon on the Pan-Orthodox level, at least till after its study ends. After that the Great and Holy Council convenes.” The fathers wonder how could the call to convene the Great Council be issued before completing the preparatory work on the subjects of the Agenda: two Churches have reservations about the document “Marriage and its Impediments”, and the Antiochian Church’s refusal to remove three main subjects from the Agenda (Church Calendar, Diptychs, and Autocephaly and its Proclamation)

Eight: The fathers emphasize that facing the known reality lived by the Orthodox world as a result of the meeting in Crete, the unanimity of the Orthodox Churches remains the golden foundation to assure the unity of the Orthodox world. The fathers consider that this foundation is, and will remain, the solid basis upon which the repercussions of the meeting in Crete could be overcome.

Ninth: As for some of the voices that have considered the meeting in Crete an Ecumenical Council held according to the principals of an Ecumenical Council’s convocation, the fathers would like to remind those brethren that from the beginning of the twentieth century, the Orthodox Churches had decided to substitute the call to an Ecumenical Council with the call to a Pan-Orthodox Council. The latter’s agenda and work regulations were established by the meeting held in Rhodes in 1961. The preparatory work has continued for almost five and a half decades. The Churches agreed, because of the extraordinary character of this Pan-Orthodox Council, that not all bishops in the Orthodox world be present in it, as the Orthodox tradition requires, and that all its decisions be taken by the consensus of all the Autocephalous Churches on the basis of one vote for each Autocephalous Church. This process refutes any claim to consider the meeting in Crete an Ecumenical Council upon which the regulations of the Ecumenical Council apply. It also obliges its participants to respect the appropriate Rules of Procedure, in case they sought to consider it a Pan-Orthodox Council. This issue was not realized for the abovementioned reasons.

Thus, the fathers of the Holy Synod of Antioch noted that the meeting in Crete does not even have the required conditions to convene the pre-conciliar conference for the Great Council, this according to the Rules of Procedure of Pan-Orthodox Pre-Council Conferences, adopted in 1986, and which is still valid to date. These Rules of Procedure state that the convocation of this conference requires the approval of the Primates of all the local Orthodox Churches (Article Two), and that decision taking during it is done by the unanimity of all the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches (Article Sixteen), and these conditions were not available in the meeting in Crete.

The Fathers of the Holy Synod unanimously decided the following:

1. Consider the meeting in Crete as a preliminary meeting towards the Pan-Orthodox Council, thus to consider its documents not final, but still open to discussion and amendment upon the convocation of the Great Pan-Orthodox Council in the presence and participation of all the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches.

2. Refuse assigning a conciliar character to any Orthodox meeting that does not involve all the Orthodox Autocephalous Churches, and to underline that the principle of unanimity remains the essential foundation for the common Orthodox relationships. Thus, the Church of Antioch refuses that the meeting in Crete be called a “Great Orthodox Council” or a “Great Holy Council.”

3. Affirm that whatever was issued in the meeting in Crete, of decisions and other things, is non-binding, by any means, to the Patriarchate of Antioch and all the East.

4. Commission the “Committee for the Follow-Up on the Council’s Issues” to study the results and consequences of the meeting in Crete and offer a detailed report to the Holy Synod of Antioch in its next meeting.

5. Send a letter about the decision of the Holy Synod of Antioch to all the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, as well as to the civil and religious authorities abroad.

6. Call upon the faithful to accompany the fathers of the Holy Synod of Antioch by praying for the preservation and the total manifestation of the unity of the Orthodox Christian witness in today’s world.

NB: The original Arabic text is the only binding text in case of any misinterpretation

          Pope removes German cardinal as sex abuse crisis catches up   

Pope Francis sacked the head of the Vatican office that handles sex abuse cases Saturday, just days after he released another top Vatican cardinal to return home to stand trial for alleged sexual assault.

The developments underscored how the Catholic Church's sex abuse crisis has caught up with Francis, threatening to tarnish his legacy over a series of questionable appointments, decisions and oversights in his four-year papacy.

Perhaps sensing a need to change course, Francis declined to renew the mandate of German Cardinal Gerhard Mueller as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that processes and evaluates all cases of priests accused of raping or molesting minors.

Francis named Mueller's deputy, Monsignor Luis Ladaria Ferrer, a Spanish Jesuit, to run the powerful office instead.

During Mueller's five-year term, the congregation amassed a 2,000-case backlog and came under blistering criticism from Irish abuse survivor Marie Collins, who had been tapped by Francis in 2014 to advise the church on caring for abuse victims and protecting children from pedophile priests.

Collins resigned from the papal commission in March, citing the "unacceptable" level of resistance from Mueller's office to heeding the commission's proposals.

In May, Francis said her criticism of the slow pace in processing abuse cases was justified and announced he was adding more staff to handle the overload. Earlier this year he also named Cardinal Sean O'Malley as a member of the congregation in hopes of ensuring better cooperation.

Mueller's ouster was the second major Vatican shake-up this week.

On Thursday, Francis granted another Vatican hardliner, Cardinal George Pell, a leave of absence to return to his native Australia to face trial on multiple charges of sexual assault stemming from years ago.

Pell has denied the charges. Still, Francis has come under criticism for having named him to the powerful position of the Vatican's money czar in 2014 in the first place, given that accusations of wrongdoing had dogged him even then. Pell has been widely denounced at home for mishandling abuse cases while he was a bishop and of having treated victims harshly in seeking to protect the church from abuse-related civil litigation.

"In the church's current emergency, with its third-ranking prelate soon to appear in an Australian court on child abuse charges, Pope Francis needs a CDF prefect who will work with Cardinal Sean O'Malley on the church's abuse crisis, not against him," said Terence McKiernan of BishopAccountability.org, an online resource of abuse documentation.

Mueller and Pell were two most powerful cardinals in the Vatican, after the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. Their absences, coupled with Francis' earlier demotion of arch-conservative Cardinal Raymond Burke as the Vatican's chief justice, will likely create a power vacuum for the conservative wing in the Holy See hierarchy.

The week's events could be seen as an attempt by Francis to turn the page, given his legacy has already been sullied by repeated failings to make good on his "zero tolerance" pledge for abuse.

Take for example the case of the Rev. Mauro Inzoli, a well-known Italian priest defrocked by the Vatican for having abused children as young as 12. He had his sentence reduced on appeal to a lifetime of penance and prayer in 2014 after what his bishop said was a show of mercy from the pope.

But in November, an Italian judge convicted Inzoli of abusing five children aged 12-16 and sentenced him to four years, nine months in prison. The Vatican opened a new church trial against him and his bishop announced this week that he had been definitively defrocked.

Aside from the sex abuse case backlog, Francis and Mueller had sparred over Francis' divisive 2016 document on family life in which the pope offered a cautious opening to letting divorced and civilly remarried Catholics receive Communion.

Church teaching holds that unless these Catholics receive an annulment, or a church decree that their first marriage was invalid, they are committing adultery and cannot receive Communion unless they abstain from sex.

Four conservative cardinals have attacked the pope's document as vague and confusing and publicly requested that Francis clarify it. Mueller didn't join their campaign but made it clear that he disagrees with Francis' suggestion that any such decisions could be arrived at in the realm of personal discernment.