- Archbishop admits spying on other Vatican officials [News analysis] (CWN)
Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra, the sostituto or deputy secretary of state, has admitted that he authorized electronic surveillance of the director of the Vatican bank, without legal authorization.
- US bishops' doctrine committee: Catholic health care services must not perform transgender procedures (CWN)
The US bishops’ Committee on Doctrine has issued a 14-page Doctrinal Note on the Moral Limits to Technological Manipulation of the Human Body.
- Papal prayer for the Ukrainian people, who 'continue to suffer due to war crimes' (Vatican Press Office)
“Brothers and sisters, let us not forget to pray for the battered Ukrainian people, who continue to suffer due to war crimes,” Pope Francis said to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, following his March 19 Angelus address. The Pope also expressed his closeness to victims of the Guayas earthquake in Ecuador; led a prayer for fathers on St. Joseph’s Day; and congratulated participants in the Rome Marathon, “because, spurred on by Vatican Athletics, you are making this important sporting event an occasion for solidarity in favor of the poorest.”
- Ukrainian Orthodox bishops stress patriotism, seek meeting with Zelensky (Ukrainian Orthodox Church)
Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) waited for two hours outside the office of President Volodymyr Zelensky on March 20, hoping for an opportunity to speak to him about “what the situation really is” with their Church, which has distanced itself from Moscow since the Russian invasion. Zelensky declined to meet with the Orthodox prelates. His office said that a meeting had not been on his schedule. The bishops remained on the street outside his office until an air-raid siren forced them to move; they were obviously hoping to generate publicity about their effort to meet with the Ukrainian leader. “We think that the president is not receiving true information about the UOC,” the bishops announced. In a statement that they had prepared to submit to Zelensky, they stressed that the UOC “has always taught her flock to love their Motherland, be worthy citizens of their state, and fulfill their public duties worthily.” They also reminded Zelensky that the UOC had denounced the Russian invasion. The UOC, traditionally affiliated with the Russian Orthodox Church, declared its independence from Moscow last May in the wake of the invasion, which the Moscow patriarchate supported. However, the Zelensky government has restricted the activities of the UOC—most recently by moving to oust Orthodox religious from the historic Kiev Lavra monastery—on the grounds that the UOC is undermining Ukrainian national unity. Since the beginning of the war in 2022, more than 700 Orthodox parishes have switched their allegiance from the UOC to the rival Orthodox Church of Ukraine (OCU), which won recognition from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in 2019 as an autocephalous (self-ruling) Orthodox patriarchate. The Moscow patriarchate has denounced the formation of the OCU as a violation of its canonical territory.
- 'The Church never abandoned its people,' former nuncio recalls on 20th anniversary of Iraq war (Vatican News)
Cardinal Fernando Filoni was apostolic nuncio to Iraq during the American invasion in 2003; he refused to leave Baghdad as the bombs fell. In this interview, he reflects on the Iraq War and its legacy.
- Historic French church vandalized with Satanic and anarchist graffiti (CNA)
The Église du Sacré-Coeur de Bordeaux was completed in 1884. The Archdiocese of Bordeaux said it “shares the strong emotions of the Catholic faithful and residents shocked by this act” of vandalism.
- Papal message will affirm right NOT to migrate (Vatican News)
The theme for the Pope’s message for this year’s World Day of Migrants and Refugees will be: “Free to choose whether to migrate or to stay,” the Vatican has announced. In announcing the theme for the message, the Vatican remarked that it emphasizes “a right that has not yet been codified at the international level: the right not to have to migrate or, in other words, the right to be able to remain in one’s own land.” The 109th World Day of Migrants and Refugees will be marked this year on September 24.
- Vatican 'foreign minister' visits Albania (Vatican News)
Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States and International Organizations, has completed a three-day visit to Albania. The prelate met with Olta Xhacka, the nation’s Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs, as well as with President Bajram Begam, who emphasized the important role that the Holy See plays in fostering peace in the western Balkan region. The Southeastern European nation of 3.1 million (map) is 59% Muslim, 19% Orthodox, and 18% Catholic. Pope Francis made an apostolic journey there in 2014.
- Pope praises fairground workers, 'sowers of smiles' (Vatican Press Office)
On March 20, Pope Francis received members of the National Union of Travelling Fairground Workers in Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace (photographs). “The happiness of a child on a merry-go-round is an image of wholesome joy that is part of the memory of every family,” the Pope said. “And I thank you because, in the end, you remind us that we are not made only for work, but also for leisure, and God is happy when we celebrate together as brothers and sisters, in simplicity.” “You remind us that the path to being happy is simplicity; and also form of entertainment in the open air and in company, the opposite of what we increasingly see today, each person alone with a smartphone or computer, which isolates you from social communication,” Pope Francis added.
- Bishop ordained for Northern Arabia (News of Bahrain)
In a sign of hope for Christians on the Arabian Peninsula, Father Aldo Berardi, OSST, was ordained the second bishop of the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia on March 18 (video). The see had been vacant since the death of his predecessor in 2020. The ordination took place at the new Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia, the peninsula’s largest church, which was built on land donated by Bahrain’s king. Pope Francis visited the cathedral during his apostolic journey to Bahrain in November. As Vicar Apostolic of Northern Arabia, Bishop Berardi will minister to Catholics in Bahrain (one parish), Kuwait (four parishes), Qatar (one parish), and Saudi Arabia (no religious freedom for Christians). Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, Prefect of the Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue, traveled from Rome to preside at the ordination.
- Leading female Vatican diplomatic official reflects on work (Vatican News)
On March 20, Pope Francis received Dr. Francesca Di Giovanni, who recently retired from her position of Undersecretary for the Multilateral Sector of the Section for Relations with States and International Organizations of the Secretariat of State. In this interview, she reflected on her 30 years of work for the Holy See, the role of women in diplomacy, and the spirituality of the Focolare Movement, of which she is a part.
- San Marino's leaders meet with Pontiff (Exaudi)
On March 20, Pope Francis received Maria Luisa Berti and Manuel Ciavatta, the Captains Regent of the Republic of San Marino. The Southern European nation of 35,000 (map) is 91% Catholic and is governed by two heads of state. The Captains Regent also met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See’s Secretary of State, and Msgr. Miroslaw Wachowski, Undersecretary for Relations with States. Noting “the excellent existing relations between the Holy See and the Republic of San Marino,” the parties discussed “the conflict in Ukraine, relations with Europe, and migration, and the mutual wish to strengthen cooperation within the framework of multilateral diplomacy,” according to a Vatican statement.
- +Archbishop Joseph Powathil, 92 (The Hindu)
A former president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) has passed away at the age of 92. Born in 1930, Syro-Malabar Archbishop Joseph Powathil was ordained to the priesthood in 1962 and to the episcopate in 1972. He was Archbishop of Changanacherry from 1985 until his retirement in 2007 and was also the president of the bishops’ conference from 1994 to 1998. The Pioneer, a newspaper based in Uttar Pradesh, reported that the prelate played a key role in warding off Communist control of Catholic educational institutions and that he had a “personal rapport” with Pope Benedict for more than 40 years. The prelate’s funeral was held at the cathedral in Changanacherry (video).
- USCCB president criticizes Germany's Synodal Way (Our Sunday Visitor)
The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for Military Services, criticized the German Synodal Way in a March 13 homily at the National St. John Paul II Shrine in Washington. Without naming Cardinal Robert McElroy, Archbishop Broglio also implicitly criticized the San Diego bishop’s call for “radical inclusion” and disapproval of Catholic teaching on human sexuality. Referring to “the confusion sown in Germany by their gathering, called Der Synodale Weg,” Archbishop Broglio said “that if truly enacted, there will be a new division in the Body of Christ, and we must pray that there will be reconsideration.” “There are also attempts to muddy the clear moral teaching of the Church in matters of the dignity of the human person, human sexuality and the sanctity of holy matrimony,” he continued. “Sometimes we hear a suggestion of a difference between teaching or doctrine and pastoral care. However, we know that nothing truly pastoral fails to begin with the truth. The object of our mission is the salvation of souls.”
- Vatican envoy leaves Nicaragua (Vatican News)
Msgr. Marcel Mbaye Diouf, who had been the Vatican’s top representative in Nicaragua, left the country on March 17, after the Ortega regime broke off diplomatic relations with the Holy See. Msgr. Diouf traveled to Costa Rica. The Vatican embassy in Managua has been temporarily handed over to the care of the Italian government’s representative there.
- Papal praise for humanitarian corridors, which 'break down the walls of indifference' (Vatican Press Office)
The Sant’Egidio Community, together with the Federation of Evangelical Churches in Italy and the Waldensians, reached an agreement with the Italian government in 2016 to bring refugees from Syria and other nations to Italy. On March 18, Pope Francis addressed refugees—including more recent Ukrainian refugees—who have benefited from these humanitarian corridors, along with those who have assisted them (photographs, video). “Humanitarian corridors build bridges that many children, women, men, and older persons fleeing from unstable and gravely dangerous situations cross in order to arrive safely, legally and with dignity, in their host countries,” the Pope said to those gathered in Paul VI Audience Hall. “These corridors cross borders and, more importantly, break down the walls of indifference that have shattered the hopes of so many people who have waited for years in painful and unbearable situations.”
- Cardinals demand Vatican action against German bishops (CNA)
Cardinals Gerhard Müller and Raymond Burke called for Vatican disciplinary action against the German bishops, in interviews with Raymond Arroyo on ETWN’s “The World Over” broadcast. Reacting to the German bishops’ announcement that they would proceed with blessings for same-sex unions despite the Vatican’s clear disapproval, Cardinal Müller said: “There must be a trial and they must be sentenced and they must be removed from their office if they are not converting themselves and they are not accepting the Catholic doctrine.” Cardinal Burke agreed: “Whether it’s a departure, heretical teaching and denial of one of the doctrines of the faith, or apostasy in the sense of simply walking away from Christ and from his teaching in the Church to embrace some other form of religion, these are crimes.” He added that “the Code of Canon Law provides the appropriate sanctions.” Cardinal Müller remarked that it is “very sad that a majority of [German] bishops voted explicitly against the revealed doctrine, and the revealed faith of the Catholic Church and of all our Christian teaching.”
- Latin Mass suppressed because theology changed: Cardinal Roche (BBC)
Cardinal Arthur Roche, the prefect of the Dicastery for Divine Worship, told a BBC audience that the Vatican moved to restrict access to the traditional Latin Mass because “the theology of the Church has changed.” Cardinal Roche said that whereas the traditional Mass emphasized the role of the priest as making the Eucharistic sacrifice, today the Church teaches that all the baptized participate in the offering.
- Scripture offers examples of good and bad politics, Pope tells Italian young people (Vatican Press Office)
On March 18, Pope Francis received young people who are part of the Italian bishops’ Progetto Policoro (description). The Old Testament examples of Ahab and Joseph, “one negative, the other positive, help us understand what kind of spirituality can fuel politics,” the Pope said to those gathered in Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace (photographs). “Your concern should not be electoral consensus or personal success, but involving people, generating entrepreneurship, making dreams flourish, making people feel the beauty of belonging to a community. Participation is the balm on the wounds of democracy.”
- Papal reflections on Christ's healing of blind man (Vatican News)
At his Sunday Angelus audience on March 19, Pope Francis offered his thoughts on the day’s Gospel story, of Christ’s healing of the blind man, and the ways in which different people reacted. Some people looked for a reason why the man was blind, suggesting it was punishment for his sins. Others did not believe he was really blind, and thus did not believe in the miracle. The man’s parents, worried about the anger of the synagogue officials, were afraid to say anything. All these cases, the Pope said, show “hearts closed in front of the sign of Jesus: because they seek a culprit, because they do not know how to be surprised, because they do not want to change, because they are blocked by fear.”