Pope briefly hospitalized for tests (Vatican News) Pope Francis was taken to Gemelli Hospital immediately after his public audience on February 28, for what the Vatican described as diagnostic tests. He returned to the Vatican later in the day.
The Pope had cancelled audiences on Saturday and again on Monday because of what the Vatican called “flu-like symptoms.” A public statement said that the cancellations were precautionary, specifying that the Pontiff was not running a fever. He did hold his regular audience on Sunday, February 25, and delivered his remarks without any obvious sign of distress.
At his Wednesday audience, the Pope, speaking in a hoarse voice, said that he had a “cold,” and therefore asked an aide to deliver his prepared remarks.
The Pontiff has been troubled repeatedly in recent months by breathing difficulties that aides have ascribed to bronchitis, flu, or colds.
Last week the Pope held no audiences because he was making his annual retreat. This week his next major public audience is scheduled for Saturday, March 2, when he meets with German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz.
Cardinal Parolin frightened by French leader's mention of troops in Ukraine (Vatican News) Cardinal Pietro Parolin reacted strongly to a suggestion by French President Emanuel Macron that other European countries might send ground troops into Ukraine.
“It’s a truly frightening scenario,” the Vatican Secretary of State told reporters on February 27, “because it would bring about the escalation that we have always tried to avoid from the beginning.”
The cardinal said that Macron may have mentioned the possibility of intervention by other European countries because at present there is “no prospect of a solution” to the war in Ukraine. “It would be ideal to really find a way to get the two sides to start talking and dialoguing,” he said.
Vatican spokesman: Ratzinger CDF document is 'important precedent' for Fiducia Supplicans (Vatican News) Andrea Tornielli, editorial director of the Dicastery for Communication, has claimed that a distinction made in a 2000 document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith serves as an “important precedent” for Fiducia Supplicans, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith’s recent declaration on the pastoral meaning of blessings.
In 2000, the Congregation, under Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s leadership, published its Instruction on Prayers for Healing, which distinguished between liturgical and non-liturgical prayers for healing. Similarly, Tornielli wrote, Fiducia Supplicans distinguishes between liturgical and non-liturgical blessings.
Catholic ethicists decry lax 'brain-death' standards [Exclusive] (CWN) Current medical criteria for diagnosing “brain death” are woefully inadequate, and more than half of organ donors who have been declared “brain dead” are still alive. These are the conclusions of a group of 151 Catholic doctors, ethicists, theologians, and others, in a statement released on February 27.
Following Texas suit, USCCB committee chairman defends Catholic efforts to serve migrants (USCCB) Echoing statements from the bishop of El Paso and the bishops of Texas, the chairman of the US bishops’ Committee for Religious Liberty defended Catholic efforts to serve migrants.
“As the tragic situation along our border with Mexico increasingly poses challenges for American communities and vulnerable persons alike, we must especially preserve the freedom of Catholics and other people of faith to assist their communities and meet migrants’ basic human needs,” said Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend.
Bishop Rhoades made his remarks after Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed suit against Annunciation House, a Catholic migrant ministry in El Paso. The attorney general cited “significant public record information strongly suggesting Annunciation House is engaged in legal violations such as facilitating illegal entry to the United States, alien harboring, human smuggling, and operating a stash house.”
The courage of Christian martyrs is a blessing for everyone, Pope says (CNS) The Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer) has released a video for the Pope’s March prayer intention: “for the martyrs of our day, witnesses to Christ.”
“There will always be martyrs among us,” the Pope said. “This is a sign that we’re on the right path.”
He added, “Let us pray that those who risk their lives for the Gospel in various parts of the world might imbue the Church with their courage and missionary drive. And to be open to the grace of martyrdom.”
Outrage in Poland prompts Vatican to give reason for bishop's resignation (Our Sunday Visitor) Two days after Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Archbishop Andrzej Dziega of Szczecin-Kamien, the apostolic nunciature in Poland announced that the resignation followed “an investigation by the Holy See into the management of the diocese, and in particular the negligence referred to in the papal document ‘Vos Estis Lux Mundi’” regarding the handling of sexual abuse claims.
The 71-year-old archbishop said that he was stepping down because of a “radical weakening of my condition,” and the nunciature was at first silent about the reason for the resignation—prompting a chorus of outrage from abuse victims, and public criticism from four bishops about the lack of transparency in the original announcement.
400 violent attacks on Catholic churches in US (Daily Signal) The disruptive funeral service at St. Patrick’s cathedral in New York was listed as the 400th attack on American Catholic churches over the past four years, by the advocacy group CatholicVote.
CatholicVote estimates that the attacks have caused $25 million in damages. Only about one-fourth of the violent incidents have led to an arrest, the group reports.
The CatholicVote statistics probably understate the incidence of vandalism against Catholic churches, since many pastors prefer not to call attention to violent incidents.
Sierra Leone's leading prelate laments decline of Sacrament of Penance (ACI Africa) The leading prelate in the West African nation of Sierra Leone said in a Lenten message that he is having “sleepless nights” because so few Catholics go to Confession.
“The confessionals are generally empty because very few of the faithful come for confession, often scheduled for an hour or so in our parishes,” said Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles of Freetown.
“Unfortunately, even as the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation is dying in our diocese, quite often the lines for Holy Communion in our parishes and Catholic communities are getting longer, even though we have been repeatedly reminded that receiving the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ while conscious of having committed a grave sin amounts to self-condemnation,” he added.
Vatican newspaper draws attention to plight of Kenya's Ogiek people (L'Osservatore Romano (Italian)) In the most prominent front-page article in its February 27 edition, L’Osservatore Romano drew attention to the plight of Kenya’s Ogiek people. The Kenyan government is evicting them from their ancestral land, reportedly to increase profits in the lucrative carbon-credit market.
“A handful of ashes: this is what remains of the houses in the village of Sasimwani, in the Mau forest of Kenya,” Isabella Piro wrote. “The Ogiek people live here. Or at least lived. For some time, in fact, this indigenous community has been subjected to forced evictions by state authorities ... For unscrupulous investors, the Ogiek represent only an obstacle to greed and hoarding.”
Gunmen open fire during Mass in Burkina Faso village; at least 15 dead (AFP) Suspect Islamist militants opened fire on worshipers during Mass in Essakane, a village in Burkina Faso. At least 15 people were killed.
Burkina Faso, a West African nation of 22.5 million (map), is 57% Muslim, 23% Christian (15% Catholic), and 19% ethnic religionist. A jihadist insurgency began there in 2015.
Pope condemns bloodshed in Burkina Faso and calls for peace (Vatican News) Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See’s Secretary of State, has sent a French-language telegram of condolence in the Pope’s name to the president of the bishops’ conference of Burkina Faso and Niger following an attack on a church in Burkina Faso.
The Pontiff also expressed his sorrow for an attack on a mosque that also took place in the West African nation.
Stating that “hatred is not the solution to conflicts,” the Pope called for “respect for sacred spaces” and for a “struggle against violence in order to promote the values of peace.”
Vatican prelate clarifies: Catholicism incompatible with Masonry (Crux) Following a cardinal’s call for a “permanent dialogue” between Catholics and Freemasons, the president of the Pontifical Academy for Theology has underlined the “profound contradictions” between Catholicism and Masonic principles.
After a meeting in Milan earlier this month between Freemasons and Catholic leaders, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmiero cited “an evolution in mutual understanding” and suggested continued dialogue between the groups.
But Bishop Antonio Stagliano cautioned that the Church still forbids Catholics from joining Masonic lodges. He said: “Within Freemasonry, plots of occult power develop which are in contradiction with Christian action.”
Ethiopian monastery attacked; 4 monks slain (Borkena) Members of the Oromo Liberation Army, a separatist group founded in 1974, attacked an Ethiopian Orthodox monastery and kidnapped and killed four of its monks, according to Borkena, a Toronto-based Ethiopian news site.
The African nation of 116 million (map)—the 12th most populous in the world—is 60% Christian (41% Orthodox, 16% Protestant), 34% Muslim, and 5% ethnic religionist. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is among the Oriental Orthodox churches that ceased to be in full communion with the Holy See following the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon in 451.
Congo cardinal questions EU support for Rwandan mining (Fides) Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu of Kinshasa has criticized an agreement between Rwanda and the European Union to cooperate in mining, charging that Rwanda has been pirating minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The DRC charges—and UN observers confirm—that guerrilla fighters financed by Rwanda have been terrorizing the country as they seek control over the DRC’s wealth of mineral resources. The European Union has now agreed to cooperate with Rwanda in mining.
“Isn’t this to be understood as support for the aggressor?” Cardinal Ambongo asked. Calling attention to the humanitarian disaster in the DRC caused by the fighting in the DRC, the cardinal said: “I am convinced that in order to bring peace to the DRC, it is also necessary to stop violating the territorial integrity of our country and to pu an end to the shameless overexploitation of its natural resources.”
Uruguay: bishop clarifies blessing for same-sex couple (Crux) Bishop Milton Troccoli of Maldonado-Punta del Este-Minas, Uruguay, has issued a statement disputing media reports that a blessing was conferred on a prominent homosexual couple during a “religious wedding.”
Actor Carlos Perciavalle and his producer Jimmy Castilhos were married in a private chapel, in a civil ceremony, the diocese explained. A blessing was separately conferred on the couple in their home.
Bishop Troccoli said that after published reports that the couple would receive a blessing during a wedding ceremony in a Catholic church, diocesan officials met with the couple and conferred with the office of the papal nuncio in Uruguay. He reported that the nuncio said “the blessing had to be given,” and was arranged for the couple’s home.
The bishop allowed that the early media report “may have hurt the sensitivity of some,” but insisted that the Church’s commitment to the integrity of marriage, as a union between a man and a woman, “is not in question.”
Papal appeal for just and lasting peace in Ukraine, prayer for nations suffering from violence, cold (Vatican News) At the conclusion of his February 25 Angelus address, Pope Francis lamented the suffering caused by the war in Ukraine.
“While renewing my heartfelt affection for the tormented Ukrainian people, I keep praying for everyone, especially for the countless innocent victims,” he said. “I earnestly plead that the little humanity needed to create the conditions for a diplomatic solution in seeking for a just and lasting peace be sought.”
The Pope then called for prayer “for Palestine, for Israel, and for the many peoples torn apart by war,” and spoke of his concern for the rising violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and kidnappings in Nigeria.
“I am also close to the population of Mongolia, affected by a wave of intense cold, which is causing serious humanitarian consequences,” he added. “This extreme phenomenon is also a sign of climate change and its effects.”
Cardinal reinstates lay charismatic leader who admitted abuse (La Croix) Cardinal Jean-Pierre Kutwa of Abidjan (Ivory Coast) has lifted his 2020 suspension of Do Oulaï Franklin Delaneaux, the founder of Royal Priesthood, an evangelization apostolate.
The lay leader, also known as Abraham Marie Pio, was accused of sexual abuse, psychological manipulation, and extortion.
Cardinal Kutwa said that Delaneaux “acknowledged and regretted the facts attributed to him, all things considered,” and “made use of this time of suspension by participating in spiritual retreats, taking courses in theological, pastoral, and psychological training.” The prelate also said that Delaneaux has made a “commitment to serve our mother Church in the future with more prudence.”
Appointed archbishop of Abidjan in 2006, Kutwa, now 78, was named a cardinal by Pope Francis in 2014.