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Vatican City court finds former hospital president guilty of corruption

Vatican City, Oct 15, 2017 / 01:09 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Vatican City announced Saturday the conclusion of the corruption trial of the former president and treasurer of the Vatican-owned Bambino Gesù hospital in Rome.

The Oct. 14 communique announced the end of the trial and the conviction of former president, Giuseppe Profiti, on charges of abuse of office. The hospital's former treasurer, Massimo Spina, was acquitted.

The final hearing was held Saturday morning. The finding was pronounced after roughly two hours of deliberation.

Profiti was given a penalty of one year imprisonment, one year interdiction from public offices and a fine of 5,000 euros ($5,900).

However, subject to the granting of general attenuating circumstances, Profiti was granted a five-year conditional suspension of the sentence. A conditional suspension means that if a new offense is committed in the five-year period he becomes immediately subject to the penalty.

The judicial board which delivered the sentence was composed of Paolo Papanti Pelletier, president, Venerando Marano, judge, Carlo Bonzano, judge, and Elisa Pacella, alternate chancellor.

Vatican City reported it was conducting an investigation into this matter in 2016 after documents were published implying there may have been the illicit transfer of funds from the hospital’s foundation.

The Vatican announced July 13 it was charging Profiti and Spina with the illicit use of hospital funds in the amount of 422,005 euros ($499,000) for the refurbishment of the apartment where Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone lives.

The crime was said to have been carried out during the period of November 2013-May 28, 2014 and to have benefited the construction firm of Italian businessman Gianantonio Bandera, which was carrying out the renovations on the apartment.

Profiti and Spina were summoned to appear before the court by a June 16, 2017 decree from the president of the Vatican Tribunal, Giuseppe Dalla Torre. The first hearing took place July 18.

The Bambino Gesù was founded in Rome in 1869 as the first pediatric hospital in Italy. In 1924 it was donated to the Holy See and became the “Pope's Hospital.” While it receives funding from the Italian government, it does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Italian government’s health authorities.

Pope at canonization Mass: God never stops inviting us to the heavenly banquet

Vatican City, Oct 15, 2017 / 05:14 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Sunday, Pope Francis canonized 35 new saints in the Catholic Church, saying that no matter how often we reject him, the Lord will continue to love us and invite us to participate in his heavenly banquet.

“The Gospel tells us that, even before constant rejection and indifference on the part of those whom he invites, God does not cancel the wedding feast. He does not give up, but continues to invite,” the Pope said Oct. 15.

“When he hears a ‘no,’ he does not close the door, but broadens the invitation. In the face of wrongs, he responds with an even greater love.”

Francis explained that when we are hurt by others, we often harbor grudges and resentment. But God, on the other hand, while pained by our rejection of him, does not give up. He tries again and again.

“He keeps doing good even for those who do evil. Because this is what love does. Because this is the only way that evil is defeated,” the Pope said.

“Today our God, who never abandons hope, tells us to do what he does, to live in true love, to overcome resignation and the whims of our peevish and lazy selves.”

In a Mass with 35,000 pilgrims in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis canonized 35 new saints, including Cristobal, Antonio and Juan, three teenage boys from the 16th century in Mexico, who were beaten to death after converting to Catholicism.

“...we declare and define Andre de Soveral, Ambrosio Francisco Ferro, Mateo Moreira and 27 companions; Cristobal, Antonio and Juan; Faustino Miguez; and Angelo of Acri to be Saints,” Francis stated.

“And we enroll them among the Saints, decreeing that they are to be venerated as such by the whole Church.”

In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on the day’s Gospel from Matthew, in which Jesus tells the parable of the wedding feast to explain the Kingdom of God. In the parable, guests are invited by the king to the wedding feast of his son.

“Such is the Christian life, a love story with God,” the Pope said. “The Lord freely takes the initiative,” inviting, not a select few, but everyone to participate in his Kingdom.

“The Christian life is always born and reborn of this tender, special and privileged love,” he said.

The Pope pointed out that some people, however, ignore the invitation and instead continue to go about doing their own thing.

In the Gospel passage, each person “was concerned with his own affairs; this is the key to understanding why they refused the invitation,” he continued. The guests weren't worried about being bored or annoyed, they simply did not care.

“They were more interested in having something rather than in risking something, as love demands,” he said. In the Gospel, then, we are being asked where we stand: with God or with ourselves, Francis stated. “Because God is the opposite of selfishness, of self-absorption.”

We should ask ourselves if at least once a day we tell the Lord that we love him. Among all the things we say each day, there should also be the prayer, “Lord, I love you’ you are my life,” he said.

Because without love, and without a relationship with Christ, the Christian life becomes empty and dead; merely a collection of rules and laws with no good reason for obedience. “The God of life, however, awaits a response of life. The Lord of love awaits a response of love.”

Today’s newly canonized saints all responded to God with love, he explained. As the Gospel emphasizes, it is not enough to merely respond “yes” to God’s invitation one time, and then do nothing.

“Day by day, we have to put on the wedding garment, the 'habit' of practicing love,” he said.

The newly canonized saints, especially the many martyrs, are an example of this daily habit of choosing to love God and choosing to do his will, he pointed out.

Cristobal, Antonio and Juan lived in Mexico in the 16th century, at the start of the Christian missionary work in the country. Cristobal was educated in the Christian faith by Franciscan missionaries, asking to be baptized.

He then began to share the Gospel with his family and acquaintances in an effort to convert them, especially his father who had abusive habits and was frequently drunk.

One day, after Cristobal destroyed the pagan idols in his family's home, his father began to kick and beat him, breaking his arms and legs. The boy continued to pray, despite the intense pain, so his father threw him into a burning fire, killing him.

The boy Antonio and his young servant Juan, all born in the same town as Cristobal, helped the Dominican missionaries who were setting up a mission in a nearby town as interpreters for the other indigenous people.

The boys were warned that it was a task that could likely end in death, but still volunteered to go. One day, while entering a house to destroy the pagan idols as usual, angry townspeople approached and began beating Juan to death with sticks.

Antonio turned to the aggressors and asked, “Why do you beat my companion who has no fault? It is I who collect idols, because they are diabolical and not divine.” The people then turned to Antonio, also beating him to death.

The blood of the three boys is considered the first seed of the great growth of Catholicism in the country of Mexico.  

Martyrs Andre de Soveral and Ambrosio Francisco Ferro, diocesan priests, were killed in hatred of the faith in Brazil on July 16, 1645; Mateo Moreira, a layman, and 27 fellow martyrs, were also killed in hatred of the faith in Brazil on October 3, 1645.

Manuel Miguez Gonzalez, who took the religious name Faustino of the Incarnation, was a priest and a professed member of the Piarists (the Order of Poor Clerics Regular of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools). He lived from 1831-1925 in Spain.

Angelo of Acri, a priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins, lived in Italy from 1669-1739.

Concluding his homily, the Pope urged everyone to ask the Lord, “through the intercession of the saints, our brothers and sisters,” for the grace to make a habit of love, accepting God’s invitation to the wedding feast.

We should also ask for his help in keeping our wedding clothes “spotless.”

“How can we do this?” Francis asked. “Above all, by approaching the Lord fearlessly in order to receive his forgiveness. This is the one step that counts, for entering into the wedding hall to celebrate with him the feast of love.”

Pope announces special 2019 Synod of Bishops on South American region

Vatican City, Oct 15, 2017 / 04:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Sunday, Pope Francis announced the decision to hold a special assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to take place in October 2019, on the state of evangelization in the Pan-Amazon region of South America.

“Accepting the desire of some Catholic bishops' conferences in Latin America, as well as the voice of various pastors and faithful from other parts of the world, I have decided to convene a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops,” Francis said Oct. 15.

The purpose of the assembly will be to “identify new paths for the evangelization” of people in the Pan-Amazon region of South America, meaning Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guyana, Guyana, Peru, Venezuela and Surinam, “especially the indigenous people, often forgotten,” he said.

The assembly will also address the “crisis of the Amazonian Forest, a lung of great importance to our planet.”

The Pope’s announcement was made in St. Peter’s Square before the recitation of the Angelus, and following the canonization Mass of 35 new saints.

New saints Andre de Soveral, Ambrosio Francisco Ferro, and Mateo Moreira and 27 companions were all martyred in Brazil. Three teenage boys, Cristobal, Antonio and Juan, also martyred, were from Mexico.

The other new saints are Faustino Miguez of Spain and Angelo of Acri, Italy.

“The new Saints will intercede for this ecclesial event, so that, in respect for the beauty of creation, all the peoples of the earth may praise God, Lord of the universe, and enlightened by him walk on the paths of justice and peace,” Francis stated.

Serving as an advisory body to the Pope, the Synod of Bishops was established by Pope Paul VI in 1965 by the motu proprio Apostolica sollicitudo to “strengthen (the Pope's) union” with other bishops and to “establish even closer ties” with them.

It consists of a group of bishops from around the world who meet every three years “to foster closer unity between the Roman Pontiff and bishops, to assist the Roman Pontiff with their counsel...and to consider questions pertaining to the activity of the Church in the world,” according to canon law.

The Synod of Bishops may meet for ordinary general assemblies, which are on a matter of importance to the Church in general and held at fixed intervals, or for special assemblies, which focus on a specific geographical area of the Church.
Extraordinary general assemblies can also be organized in the case of an urgent matter.

The last special assembly of the Synod of Bishops was held in 2010 on the situation in the Middle East.

The 50th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is set to take place in October 2018, and will discuss “Young People, the Faith and the Discernment of Vocation.”

The last Synod of Bishops was dedicated to the family and took place in two parts, the first being an Extraordinary Synod in 2014, which was followed by the Ordinary Synod in 2015 that drew 279 cardinals, bishops and representatives from all over the world to discuss the challenges and blessings of family life.

In India, schoolkids say Virgin Mary appeared amid scent of jasmine

Kochi, India, Oct 14, 2017 / 04:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Both Hindu and Catholic schoolchildren in India claim to have witnessed an apparition of Christ and several appearances of the Virgin Mary accompanied by the scent of jasmine, the gift of contrition, and the healing of a girl’s ear problem.

The site of the alleged apparitions is St. Ambrose Church and Lower Primary School in Edavanakkad, in the far southwestern state of Kerala, 16 miles northwest of Kochi. The parish and adjacent school are under the Archdiocese of Verapoly. The Marian apparitions are said to have happened on at least two separate dates.

The church’s assistant pastor Father Merton D’Silva said archdiocesan authorities have taken a “wait-and-see” approach before intervening, the news site Matters India reports. Matters India has recounted the apparitions based on a note on the parish billboard by parish priest Father Mathew D’Cunha.

The apparition reportedly began Sept. 28 when a student at the school, a Hindu girl named Krishnaveda, went to the church to pray for her ear problem. She put some holy water on her ear. She later told her fellow students that the holy water immediately helped her ear.

When the children left the school to pray in the church, they looked up and saw in the sky a vision of Christ being scourged. They recited the name of Jesus and went into the church to thank God for healing the girl’s ear.

The only Catholic girl among them, Ambrosiya, volunteered to lead the students in praying the rosary. However she did not know the Luminous Mysteries recited on Thursday and sought a teacher’s help. The children were in prayer when the teacher reached them at about 1:45 in the afternoon.

One of the girls, named Anusree, told the teacher that the Blessed Virgin was standing under the altar. They reported the smell of jasmine flower. The alleged apparition told the children to come closer, which frightened a girl named Sivanya, who said she wanted to leave.

While the teacher was leading the children out of the church, the girls said the apparition followed them and pleaded with them not to leave. The teacher went to tell the other teachers, while some children went to the assistant pastor, Father D’Silva.

When D’Silva took the children back to the church so they could pray, the children claimed to see the Virgin Mary standing under the altar. The adults could not see anything.

According to the children, the apparition promised them help in their studies and promised to send them the Holy Spirit. The apparition also promised to take them to heaven.

When the news of the apparition spread, people began to gather at the church. Parents of the children took them home.

On Oct. 3 a large crowd prayed the rosary in the church with the reputed visionaries. After a time, everyone perceived the scent of jasmine flowers. The children said they saw the Virgin Mary again.

A priest asked the children to point out the exact spot. The congregation saw a bright light and the priest said he felt someone patting his head.

Many in the congregation said they received the gift of contrition as they prayed.

The church had planned a night vigil on Oct. 12.

Pope Francis: You can’t spread God’s love from an armchair

Vatican City, Oct 14, 2017 / 06:13 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Saturday Pope Francis said that to share God’s love with the world requires action and service – and that we can’t just sit around and wait for other people to perform our vocation.

“Love is dynamic, it goes out of itself,” the Pope said Oct. 14. The person who loves does not just sit in an armchair watching and waiting for the world to improve. Instead, he or she “with enthusiasm and simplicity gets up and goes.”

As St. Vincent de Paul said, our vocation is not merely to go to one parish or diocese, but to go throughout the earth, he continued. And what do we do? We “inflame the hearts of men, doing what the Son of God did, he who came to bring fire to the world to inflame it with his love.”

The vocation to love, Francis said, “is always valuable for everyone.”

Pope Francis spoke to members of the Vincentian Family during a celebration in St. Peter’s Square Oct. 14 celebrating the 400th anniversary of the start of the charism of the Vincentian Family, a group of organizations founded by or under the inspiration of St. Vincent de Paul.

A 17th-century French priest, St. Vincent is known as the patron of Catholic charities for his apostolic work among the poor and marginalized.

The meeting was part of a week-long symposium in Rome which included Mass, prayer services and talks.

In their audience, Francis said he wanted to encourage the members of the Vincentian Family to continue their journey of charity.

Besides the verb “to go,” he offered two other simple words he said are of great importance for “the Vincentian spirit but also for Christian life in general:” To worship and to welcome.

For St. Vincent, worship of God, or prayer, was essential, the Pope said. There are many invitations from him in his writing encouraging us to cultivate an inner life, devoting ourselves to prayer, which "purifies and opens the heart,” he said.

St. Vincent considered prayer like the compass of every day, the “manual of life.” Only through prayer can we draw from God the love that we then pour into the world, he continued.

But the saint didn't consider prayer a set of formulas or a sterile duty, he continued. Prayer, for St. Vincent, was to stand before God, being with him and devoting yourself to him.

“This is the most pure prayer, the one that makes room for the Lord and his praise, and nothing else: adoration,” he said.

"Here is adoration: to stand before the Lord, with respect, with calm and in silence, giving him the first place," abandoning oneself with confidence.

Whatever the situation or problem, those who spend time worshiping God can't help but be "contaminated" by the living source of love, he continued. Which makes us want to treat others like we have been treated by the Lord.

Those who spend time in worship and adoration become "more merciful, more sympathetic, more available, above rigidity and open to others."

When we think of the verb “to welcome,” we often think of doing something, like performing an act of hospitality or the like, Francis said. But it actually has more to do with a way of thinking.

Welcoming is really "a slow detachment from all that is mine: my time, my rest, my rights, my plans, my agenda."

The Christian is truly welcoming who sets aside his or her own ego in favor of sowing peace and concord and communion, even when not reciprocated.

“Thank you for moving in the streets of the world, as St. Vincent would ask you today,” the Pope concluded. I hope you continue to draw God’s love from adoration, spreading it throughout the world, through the “good contagion” of charity.

“I bless all of you and the poor you meet.”