Cardinal Re elected new Dean of College of Cardinals (Vatican Press Office) Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, 85, was Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops from 2000 to 2010; he succeeds Cardinal Angelo Sodano. The dean, considered first among equals in the College of Cardinals, presides over the cardinals’ meetings between the death of a Pope and the conclave to elect the next Pope. The new vice-dean of the College of Cardinals is Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, 76, since 2007 the Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches.
'Life becomes history' is theme of Pope's Message for World Day of Social Communications (Vatican Press Office) The Pope’s annual message is traditionally released on January 24, the memorial of St. Francis de Sales (patron of journalists); in 2020, the day will be celebrated on May 24. Pope Francis writes, “I would like to devote this year’s Message to the theme of storytelling, because I believe that, so as not to lose our bearings, we need to make our own the truth contained in good stories. Stories that build up, not tear down; stories that help us rediscover our roots and the strength needed to move forward together.”
Pope prays for those affected by coronavirus (Vatican News) “I wish to be close to and pray for the people who are sick because of the virus that has spread through China,” Pope Francis said on January 26 in reference to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak. “May the Lord welcome the dead into his peace, comfort families and sustain the great commitment by the Chinese community that has already been put in place to combat the epidemic.”
Iraq's president meets with Pope (Vatican Press Office) “The parties focused on the challenges the country currently faces and on the importance of promoting stability and the reconstruction process, encouraging the path of dialogue and the search for suitable solutions in favour of citizens and with respect for national sovereignty,” according to the Vatican press office. “Attention then turned to the importance of preserving the historical presence of Christians in the country.”
'We are not making an impact,' leading South African prelate says (SACBC) Launching a new pastoral plan (“Evangelizing Community, Serving God, Humanity and all Creation”), Bishop Sithembele Sipuka, president of the bishops’ conference, spoke of “the realization by the bishops that as a Church in this region, we are not making an impact, both on the people we serve and in society. There is no growth in faith and spirituality, the furthest most of our faithful go is confirmation and they remain there. With regard to witnessing for Christ and continuing the work of evangelization, the majority of our Catholics do not see these as their task … Our faith does not influence society, it is as if the Catholic Church does not exist.”
8 sainthood causes advance (Vatican Press Office) Pope Francis approved decrees on the causes of the martyrdoms of 3 Capuchin Franciscans (Spain, 1936) and 10 priests and lay faithful slain in Guatemala (1980-1991), paving the way for their beatification. In addition, the Pontiff approved decrees recognizing the heroic virtues of a bishop, a cathedral canon, 3 diocesan priests, and a nun; each may now be called “venerable.”
Vice President Pence meets Pope Francis (CNA) US Vice President Mike Pence met on January 24 with Pope Francis, and told reporters after the meeting that they had discussed the March for Life, which took place in Washington the same day. Pence said that he had also spoken with the Pontiff about the persecution of Christians, particularly in the Middle East; and about the suffering of the people in Venezuela.
'No to new wars,' bishops of 3 African nations plead (Fides) “We appeal to the conscience of rulers to keep in their hearts and minds the duty to protect the populations and to work for the prosperity of people who must fully enjoy their rights as creatures created in the image of God,” said the bishops of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda.