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Friday, September 22, 2017

Fifth session of the embezzlement trial

At 2:45pm today (local time in Rome), the fifth hearing in the trial related to accused embezzlement of funds from the Gesù Bambino Foundation began in the Tribunal Hall within the Vatican City State.

Present today, in addition to the judges (Professor Paolo Papanti-Pelletier, President; Venerando Marano; and Carlo Bonzano) and the Prosecuting attorney, Professor Roberto Zannotti (in the absence of Professor Gian Piero Milano), were the two accuseds: Giuseppe Profiti - defended by Antonello Blasi, and Massimo Spina - defended by Alfredo Ottaviani.

Testimonies were presented by marco Bargellini, Paolo Mennini, Paolo Cipriani and Massimo Tulli.  Gianantonio Bandera was not present.  At the beginning of the hearing, the transcript of yesterday's questioning of Massimo Spina was read and approved.  The transcript of the deposition given by Giuseppe Profiti on 19 September was also re-read.

Today's session, which ended at 8:35pm local time, was dedicated to the questioning of Marco Bargellini by Professor Papanti-Pelletier and the other judges, as well as the attorneys for the prosecution and for the defence.  There followed the questioning by Alfredo Ottaviani of the witnesses: Paolo Cipriani, Paolo Mennini and Massimo Tulli.

The next session of the court hearing has been scheduled for 2 October beginning at 11:30am.

Pope Francis continues Mercy Friday

Earlier today, the Holy Father left the Vatican and paid a surprise visit to the Santa Lucia Foundation, a centre for excellence which is very well known in Rome, specializing in neuro-rehabilitation of patients with mobility and cognitive difficulties.  They come to be treated for pathologies deriving from strokes, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's and multiple sclerosis.

In this way, the Pope is continuing his Mercy Friday visits: gestures of closeness and support for those who are less fortunate which characterized the Jubilee of Mercy.

At approximately 4:00pm, Pope Francis entered the gates at via Arbeatina 306 and was joyfully welcomed by people who were in the complex's parking lot of the hospital complex at the time.

Immediately afterwards, the Holy Father was joined by the President of the Association, Doctor Maria Adriana Amadio, and by the Director General, Doctor Edoardo Alesse, as well as members of the staff who joined the small group who were visiting the Centre.

Particularly emotional was the Pope's visit to the rehabilitation department dedicated to children affected by neurological pathologies.  Pope Francis stopped and joked with them; exchanged some words of comfort with the parents who were present to assist their children with rehabilitation of motor skills, an exercise which is at times tiring and painful.  The Holy Father paid particular attention to exercises aimed at helping children to acquire or to re-establish their motor stability.

Pope Francis then visited the ward where tetraplegic and paraplegic patients between the age of 15 and 25 are found, some of whom were injured in road accidents, and the gymnasium where elderly patients are doing motor rehabilitation.

The Holy Father encouraged all of them to continue their physical exercises and stressed how important it is to hope for the future and to trust in scientific research that makes it possible for such great progress in this field.

Following a visit to the chapel which is found in the hospital, the Holy Father returned to Casa Santa Marta.

Greetings for those concerned with migrants

At 12:15pm today, in the Clementine Hall at the Vatican Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father, Pope Francis received in audience the National Directors of Pastoral Care for Migrants, who are participating in a Meeting organized by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) which is taking place in Rome at the Bonus Pastor from 21 to 23 September 2017.

Speech of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
for the meeting with National Directors
of Pastoral Care for Migrants

Dear brothers and sisters,

I welcome you with joy on the occasion of your meeting and I thank your Cardinal President for the words he has offered in the name of all.  I wish to thank you with all my heart for the profuse commitment during these recent years in favour of many brothers and sisters who are migrants and refugees and who have knocked at the doors of Europe in search of a more secure place to live with dignity.

Faced with the massive, complex and varied migrations which have put into crisis the various migration policies which have been adopted so far and the instruments of protection enshrined in international conventions, the Church intends to remain faithful to its mission: to love Jesus Christ, to adore him and to love him, particularly in the poor and those who have been abandoned; which certainly includes migrants and refugees (Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees 2015).

The maternal love of the Church for these our brothers and sisters requires us to demonstrate concretely in every phase of the migratory experience, from the moment of departure, along the journey, to the moment of arrival and return, so that all local ecclesial realities situated along the way may be protagonists of the one mission, each according to its own capability.  Recognizing and serving the Lord in these journeying people is a responsibility that unites all particular Churches in drawing from a continual, coordinated and efficient commitment.

Dear brothers and sisters, I do not wish to hide from you my concern in the face of the signs of intolerance, discrimination and xenophobia that are found in different regions of Europe. They are often motivated by diffidence and fear of the other, of those who are different, of the foreigner. I’m even more concerned by the sad verification that our Catholic communities in Europe are not exempt from these reactions of defence and rejection, justified by a no better specified moral duty of preserving the original cultural and religious identity. The Church has spread across all the continents thanks to the migration of missionaries, who were convinced of the universality of Jesus Christ’s message of salvation, destined to the men and women of every culture. Temptations to exclusivity and cultural entrenchment have not been lacking in the history of the Church, but the Holy Spirit has always helped us to overcome them, guaranteeing a constant openness to the other, considered as a concrete possibility of growth and enrichment.

I’m sure that the Spirit helps us also today to maintain an attitude of trusting openness, which enables us to overcome every barrier, to climb over every wall.

In my constant listening to the particular Churches in Europe, I’ve perceived a profound discomfort in the face of the massive arrival of migrants and refugees. This discomfort is recognized and understood in the light of an historical moment marked by the economic crisis, which has left profound wounds. Moreover, this discomfort was aggravated by the rate and composition of migratory flows, by a substantial unpreparedness of the host society and by often inadequate national and communal policies. However, the discomfort is also indicative of the limitations of the European processes of unification, of the obstacles that the concrete implementation of the universality of human rights must face, of the walls against which integral humanism, which constitutes one of the most beautiful fruits of European civilization crashes.   And for Christians all this is interpreted, in addition to secular immanentism, in the logic of the centrality of the human person created by God, unique and unrepeatable.

From an exquisitely ecclesiological perspective, the arrival of so many brothers and sisters in the faith offers the Churches in Europe one more opportunity to fully realize their catholicity, a constitutive element of the Church which we confess every Sunday in the Creed. Moreover, in recent years, many particular Churches in Europe have been enriched by the presence of Catholic migrants, who have brought with them their devotions and their liturgical and apostolic enthusiasm.

From a missiological perspective, the contemporary migratory flows constitute a new missionary frontier, a privileged occasion to proclaim Jesus Christ and His Gospel without moving from one’s environment to witness concretely the Christian faith in charity and in profound respect for other religious expressions. The encounter with migrants and refugees of other Confessions and religions is a fecund ground for the development of a sincere and enriching ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue.

In my Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees of next year, I have highlighted how the pastoral response to the contemporary migratory challenges should be articulated around four verbs: receive, protect, promote, and integrate. The verb receive is then translated into other verbs, such as extending the legal and safe ways of entry, offering first an appropriate and decorous systematization and assuring all personal security and access to basic services. The verb protect is specified in offering certain and certified information before the departure, in defence of the fundamental rights of migrants and refugees regardless of their migratory status and in watching over the most vulnerable who are the boys and girls. To promote means essentially to guarantee the conditions for the integral human development of all, migrants and natives. The verb integrate is translated into opening areas of inter-cultural encounter, fostering mutual enrichment and promoting a course of active citizenship.

In the same Message, I referred to the importance of Global Pacts, which States are committed to draw up by the end of 2018. The Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for the Service of Integral Human Development has prepared 20 points of action that the local Churches are invited to use, complete and deepen in their pastoral care: these points are based on the good practices that characterize the tangible answer of the Church to needy migrants and refugees. The same points are useful for the dialogue that the different ecclesial institutions can have with the respective governments in view of the Global Pacts. I invite you, dear Directors, to know these points and to promote them in your Episcopal Conferences.

The same points of action also make up an articulated paradigm of the four verbs mentioned above, a paradigm that could serve as a yardstick of study or of verification of the existing pastoral practices in the local Churches, in view of an ever opportune and enriching updating. May communion in reflection and action be your strength, because when one is alone, the obstacles seem much greater. May your voice be always timely and prophetic and, above all, may it be preceded by coherent action inspired in the principles of the Christian Doctrine.

Renewing to you my thanks for your great commitment in the field of such a complex migratory pastoral commitment as well as its burning timeliness, I assure you of my prayer. And you also, please, don’t forget to pray for me. Thank you.

Peru at the Vatican

This morning, the Holy Father, Pope Francis received the President of the Republic of Peru in Audience in the Vatican Apostolic Palace.  His Excellency, Mister Pedro Pablo Kuczynski Godard also subsequently met with His Eminence, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State of His Holiness, who was accompanied by Monsignor Antoine Camilleri, Under-secretary for Relations with States.

During the discussions, which took place in a cordial atmosphere, the good relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Peru were evoked, which will have significant meaning for Pope Francis’ upcoming Apostolic Trip to that country. In addition, some themes of common interest were considered, such as the education of the young, the protection of the environment, the development and the fight against poverty. In this context, mention was made of the contribution the Church offers to Peruvian society.

During the conversation, attention also turned to various regional and international situations.

Vatican's Foreign Secretary speaks to the EU delegation

His Excellency, Paul Richard Gallagher is in New York (USA) this week making presentations to the United Nations as part of the 72nd session of the UN's General Assembly and the High Level meeting which has been organized by the Delegation from the European Union concerning the Syrian crisis.

Yesterday morning (Thursday) he shared the following remarks.

Intervention prepared by His Excellency, Paul R. Gallagher
presented to the Delegation from the European Union

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like, at the very outset, to convey the deep appreciation of Pope Francis to all who tirelessly toil to find a political solution to the conflict in Syria and to assist in every way the victims of the senseless war. He encourages every effort toward the pursuit of the political process to end the conflict.

Since the beginning of the crisis, the Holy See has always remained deeply concerned about the tremendous human suffering, affecting millions of innocent children and other civilians who remain deprived of essential goods and services. In the overall effort to limit the immense suffering the conflict has been inflicting on the population, humanitarian workers must have rapid, safe and unhindered access wherever there are people in need. The Holy See urges that international humanitarian law be fully respected, particularly with regard to the protection of civilian populations and infrastructure. Furthermore, the Holy See also expresses its concern for the conditions and treatment of prisoners and detainees.

The Holy See, through the various charitable agencies of the Catholic Church, has been responding to the humanitarian crisis in Syria and the region from the very beginning. In 2016, the Holy See and the Catholic Church contributed to providing USD 200 million of humanitarian assistance of direct benefit to more than 4.6 million people in Syria and the surrounding region. In distributing aid, Catholic agencies and entities make no distinction regarding the religious or ethnic identity of those requiring assistance and give priority to the most vulnerable and in most need.

Given the continuing overwhelming humanitarian needs, the Holy See continues to join its voice to the appeals for increased funding to help refugees and impacted host countries, in particular Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt. I wish to give assurances of the commitment of the Catholic Church to continue its humanitarian assistance in the coming year.

The rights of all Syrians must be protected. The rule of law, including respect for religious freedom and equality before the law based on the principle of citizenship regardless of one’s race, ethnic origin or religion, is fundamental for the achievement and maintenance of the peaceful and fruitful coexistence among individuals and communities in Syria and beyond. A credible, mutually agreed, intra-Syrian political solution to the on-going conflict, with the constructive support of the international community, is fundamental for the achievement of a durable peace in Syria and of a harmonious co-existence among all its ethnic and religious communities. As we move toward the peaceful resolution of the conflict, let us not diminish our solicitude and commitment for Syria and its beloved people.

I thank you.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Fourth court session investigating embezzlement of funds

Today, at 2:30pm local time in the Vatican City State Courtroom, the fourth session of the hearings related to the embezzlement of funds from the Gesù Bambino Foundation took place.

Present today, besides the judges (Professor Paolo Papanti-Pelletier, President; Venerando Marano, Judge; and Carlo Bonzano, Judge), and the Associate Prosecution Lawyer, Professor Roberto Zannotti (in the absence of Professor Gian Piero Milano), were the two accuseds: Giuseppe Profiti, defended by his lawyer Antonello Blasi and Massimo Spina, defended by his lawyer Alfredo Ottaviani.

Testimonies were presented today by Gianantonio Bandera and Marco Bargellini.  Today's session concluded at 8:30pm and was dedicated entirely to questioning of Massimo Spina by Professor Papanti-Pelletier and the other judges as well as the Prosecution Lawyer and the lawyers for the defence.

As indicated in the Ordinance, the next hearings will take place tomorrow - Friday 22 September 2017 beginning at 2:00pm.

Holy Father sends help to Mexico

Following the earthquake that struck with extraordinary vehemence in Mexico, leaving - according to verified but not definitive data - at least 250 victims, as well as massive material damage, Pope Francis has decided to send an initial contribution of $150,000 through the Dicastery for Integral Human Development in order to assist with rescue efforts in the immediate aftermath of the quake.

This sum, which will be distributed in collaboration with the Apostolic Nunciature in Mexico to the dioceses that have been affected by the calamity, will be used for earthquake relief work and is intended as an immediate expression of the spiritual closeness and paternal encouragement extended by the Holy Father to people in the affected territories, who were mentioned by the Holy Father during his General Audience yesterday.

This contribution, which is accompanied with prayer, especially addressed to the Virgin of Guadalupe, is intended to support the beloved Mexican people, and is part of the help that is being raised by the entire Catholic Church and involves the efforts of numerous Episcopal Conferences as well as many charitable organizations.