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Vatican

Vatican: 2010 budget surplus, giving down

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VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican reported a budget surplus for the first time in four years in 2010, but said contributions from Catholics and dioceses around the world had gone down.

The budget of the Holy See, which includes offices of the Roman Curia and related agencies, ended 2010 with a surplus of about $13.1 million.

The separate budget of Vatican City State, which includes the Vatican Museums, ended 2010 with a surplus of about $28 million, according to a Vatican statement July 2.

The figures were released following a three-day meeting of a council of cardinals charged with reviewing Vatican finances. The statement said the Vatican's financial picture continued to improve, but it cautioned that the global financial picture still presented "elements of uncertainty and instability."

Worldwide giving to the pope decreased in 2010, the statement said. Peter's Pence collected $67.7 million, compared to $82.5 million in 2009. In addition, the contributions of dioceses amounted to about $27.4 million, compared to $31.5 million the previous year.

Vatican's point man for religious life: 'We've started to listen again'

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From time to time, Vatican officials are accused of living in a bubble, detached from the complex and sometimes harsh realities facing ordinary people. However accurate that may be in individual cases, it’s certainly not the story of Brazilian Archbishop João Bráz de Aviz, 64, appointed in January as the new prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

Consider these details from his biography:


  • Bráz grew up in a poor family in the southern Brazilian state of Paraná, with four brothers and three sisters – the youngest sister, today 47, has Down’s syndrome. His father was a butcher.

  • His surroundings were so rural that when a child was born, the family had to travel by horse-drawn carriage for 25 miles to have the baby baptized. A priest visited their area once a month, so popular lay leaders were in charge of catechism, worship, and devotional life.

Israeli ambassador backpedals on wartime pope comments

After strong criticism from the Jewish community, Israel’s ambassador to the Vatican backpedaled from his praise of the controversial wartime Pope Pius XII for his “actions to save the Jews” during the Holocaust.

“Given the fact that this context is still under the subject of ongoing and future research, passing my personal historical judgment on it was premature,” Ambassador Mordechay Lewy said in a statement on Sunday (June 26).

Lewy had said many Catholic institutions in Rome hid Jews from the occupying Germans during the mass arrests on Oct. 16, 1943, which led to the deportation of more than 1,000 people to Auschwitz.

“It would be a mistake to say that the Catholic Church, the Vatican and the pope himself opposed actions to save the Jews,” Lewy said on Thursday. “To the contrary, the opposite is true: they helped wherever they could.”

Lewy’s remarks, which were seen as a conciliatory gesture on one of the most sensitive points of Jewish-Catholic relations, quickly drew fire from a large U.S. group of Holocaust survivors.

Vatican prepares document on clergy-laity relationship

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VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican is studying a possible document on the relationship of clergy and laity, which touches on the sensitive issue of the administration of the church's goods, Vatican sources said.

The sources denied an Italian report that the document will issue instructions on the reorganization of U.S. dioceses that face financial pressures in the wake of the sex abuse scandals -- in particular regarding parish closings.

A papal front-runner may get a boost in Milan

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Editor's Note: Cardinal Angelo Scola was named this morning as the new head of the Archdiocese of Milan, Italy's largest diocese. Following is a look at who Scola is and what his appointment to Milan might mean. The article was written by NCR senior correspondent John L. Allen, Jr., for the June 24 print issue of National Catholic Reporter, before Scola's appointment was announced.

ANALYSIS

Sometimes a job is important not only for what its occupant does, but what it symbolizes. In the Catholic church there’s no better example than the archbishop of Milan, Italy, whose incumbent is almost automatically considered tanto papabile, i.e., a leading candidate to become the next pope.

In the 20th century, two archbishops of Milan went on to the papacy, Pius XI and Paul VI, while two others, Cardinals Carlo Maria Martini and Dionigi Tettamanzi, spent more or less their entire tenures surrounded by speculation over their future prospects.

Vatican readies report on child protection for UN

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VATICAN CITY -- A United Nations-mandated report on compliance with international obligations regarding the protection and rights of children will be ready for submission this autumn, a Vatican diplomat said.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's representative to U.N. agencies in Geneva, told Catholic News Service that the report was nearing completion and would probably be presented in September or October.

The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child calls for governments of signatory countries of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to submit a comprehensive review of how convention regulations are being implemented, as well as progress reports every five years. The Vatican is party to the convention and did not send its report when first due in 1997.

The Vatican's report is awaited with particular interest, especially by some human rights groups, because of report of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy and other church figures.

Amnesty International named the Vatican in its annual report released in May for failing to comply with international obligations regarding the protection of children, including from sexual abuse.

Vatican tries to revive Eucharistic adoration

VATICAN CITY -- For seven centuries, Eucharistic adoration—praying before an exposed consecrated Communion host—was one of the most popular forms of devotion in the Roman Catholic Church, the focus of beloved prayers and hymns and a distinctive symbol of Catholic identity.

Following the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), the practice fell from favor, especially in Europe and the U.S. But over the last decade, under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the church has strongly encouraged a revival of the practice.

“No one eat this flesh, if he has not adored it before; for we sin if we do not adore,” Benedict said, quoting St. Augustine, in a 2009 speech at the Vatican.

Next week (June 20-24), the Salesian Pontifical University in Rome will host an academic conference on Eucharistic adoration, where the speakers will include six prominent cardinals, focusing on the rediscovery of the practice.

At the same time, however, some theologians object to adoration as outdated and unnecessary, and warn that it can lead to misunderstandings and undo decades of progress in educating lay Catholics on the meaning of the sacrament.

Report on U.S. ordinariate for ex-Anglicans

BELLEVUE, Wash. -- As many as 100 U.S. Anglican priests and 2,000 laypeople could be the first members of a U.S. personal ordinariate for former Anglicans who want to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington reported to his fellow bishops June 15.

Cardinal Wuerl was appointed by the Vatican last September to guide the incorporation of Anglican groups into the Catholic Church in the United States under "Anglicanorum coetibus," an apostolic constitution issued by Pope Benedict XVI in November 2009.

Pope to give out first Ratzinger Prizes in theology

VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican on Tuesday (June 14) announced three winners of the inaugural Ratzinger Prize in theology, which Pope Benedict XVI (known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger until his papal election) will present at a ceremony on June 30.

The inaugural winners include an Italian expert on the writings of early Christian theologians; a Spanish scholar whose subjects have ranged from St. Bonaventure to Oscar Wilde; and a German monk who wrote his doctoral thesis on the theology of the future pope himself.

The prize, which carries a cash award of 50,000 euros ($72,000), is intended as a kind of “Nobel Prize in Theology,” according to Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the former vicar general (or acting bishop) of Rome, who served as chairman of the selection committee.

Manlio Simonetti, 85 and the only layman among the recipients, is a former professor at the University of Rome “La Sapienza” and a specialist in the writings of the early church fathers, including Augustine, Origen and Gregory the Great.

Vatican issues new bishops' policy

VATICAN CITY -- Catholics forced to participate in ordinations of bishops without the pope’s approval may be exempt from the usual penalty of automatic excommunication, the Vatican said on June 10.

Bishops who consecrate other bishops without a papal “mandate” incur automatic excommunication, as do the men they consecrate and all other ministers who participate in the ceremony, according to a church document published in the official Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.

All of those excommunicated are thereafter forbidden to celebrate Mass, administer or receive any Catholic sacraments, or “exercise ministerial functions” unless their excommunications are lifted by the pope.

Yet the council’s statement allows for “mitigating circumstances,” under which the penalty of excommunication does not apply. Specifically, if any of the parties was “coerced by grave fear ... or grave inconvenience” to participate in an authorized ordination, he can avoid automatic expulsion from the church.

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