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Cardinal Fernández: The Catholic Church agrees with Coptic Orthodox statement condemning homosexual activity

Two months after the Coptic Orthodox Church suspended theological dialogue with the Catholic Church over Fiducia Supplicans, Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández traveled to Egypt to...

New bishop named for troubled Knoxville diocese

Pope Francis has appointed Father James Mark Beckman, the pastor of a parish in the Diocese of Nashville, as the new bishop of Knoxville, Tennessee.

Bishop Richard Stika, appointed bishop of Knoxville in 2009, resigned in 2023 following an apostolic visitation. He admitted in a court filing that he falsely accused a rape victim of being the aggressor in the incident.

In 2021, 11 priests of the diocese petitioned the apostolic nuncio for “merciful relief” from Bishop Stika’s governance.

New Vatican norms centralize decisions on apparitions

The Vatican has released new norms for discerning the authenticity of Marian apparitions and other reports of supernatural phenomena.

A document released on May 17 by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) gives that Vatican office the role of issuing a final pronouncement on reported apparitions, after an investigation by the bishop of the diocese in which the phenomena are reported.

The DDF document states that no such pronouncements will affirm with certainty that the phenomena are of supernatural origin and merit the belief of the faithful. The DDF explains that no private revelations command that belief. Instead a positive judgment will state that the phenomena appear to be of supernatural origin.

In a statement released along with the new document, Cardinal Victor Fernandez, the prefect of the DDF, explains that new norms were necessary for several reasons:

  • because under existing norms, investigations often took years or decades, allowing lingering uncertainty over the authenticity of reports;
  • because when diocesan bishops judged the phenomena to be of supernatural origin, that determination placed an undue burden on faithful Catholics who were not persuaded of their authenticity;
  • because some phenomena that appeared to be supernatural are accompanied by special beliefs or devotions that may be injurious to the Catholic faith, and therefore deserve cautious treatment.

Cardinal Fernandez, in his introductory statement, explained that reported apparitions frequently involved “serious critical issues that are detrimental to the faithful.” He mentioned the possibility that people might exploit such reports for “profit, power, fame, social recognition, or other personal interest.”

Regarding the judgments that have until now been made by diocesan bishops, the cardinal remarked that “some bishops have wanted to make statements such as, “I confirm the absolute truth of the facts” and “the faithful must undoubtedly consider as true…”. These expressions effectively oriented the faithful to think they had to believe in these phenomena, which sometimes were valued more than the Gospel itself.”

The necessity for new norms is greater, the DDF observed, because of the rapidity with which reports are spread through modern means of communication. The document states that “the pastors of the Church are responsible for handling these phenomena with care by recognizing their fruits, purifying them of negative elements, or warning the faithful about potential dangers arising from them.”

”At the same time,” the DDF cautions, “it should also be acknowledged that some phenomena, which could have a supernatural origin, at times appear connected to confused human experiences, theologically inaccurate expressions, or interests that are not entirely legitimate.”

The new norms issued by the DDF allow for a range of judgments, including various degrees of caution, rather than simply declaring that the phenomena are or are not of supernatural origin.

In a reversal of the decentralization that Pope Francis has touted as a model for Church governance, the DDF document takes a responsibility that had been left to diocesan bishops, and gives it to the Vatican—with a provision that the Roman Pontiff might intervene personally in a decision. The document reports that in practice, diocesan bishops have often consulted with the DDF before rendering their judgments—although those consultations have been informal, and therefore not officially recorded.

USCCB issues National Statutes for the Christian Initiation of Adults

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has published new National Statutes for the Christian Initiation of Adults, replacing statutes approved in 1986.

The new statutes, which go into effect in December 2024, were approved by the US bishops in November and confirmed by the Dicastery for Bishops in January.

The statutes, which discuss the reception of non-Christian adults into the Church, provide norms for a period of evangelization and precatechumenate, a period of the catechumenate, a period of purification and enlightenment, and a period of mystagogy.

Pope Francis solemnly proclaims 2025 jubilee year, issues bull ‘Hope Does Not Disappoint’

Pope Francis solemnly proclaimed the Ordinary Jubilee of the Year 2025 at a ceremony in St. Peter’s Basilica on the evening of May 9, the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord (video,...

Leave behind Tridentine model of priesthood, embrace synodality, Cardinal Hollerich bids parish priests

On the last day of Parish Priests for the Synod—an international meeting of parish priests at the Vatican—Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, SJ, encouraged participants “to become ambassadors of synodality, to be full participants in a synodal Church, to become with all the people of God, missionary disciples of Jesus.”

“Many times their training and their reality have been oriented towards a Tridentine model of the priesthood,” Cardinal Hollerich, the relator-general of the synod on synodality, said of parish priests, in an address to Pope Francis in the presence of participants. “And now they see that the identity they had for centuries is crumbling, and sometimes this identity is lost ... and there is the danger of wanting to build a new identity based on the experience of the past.”

“The identity of priests and parish priests (even bishops) is given to us by the Holy Spirit when we walk with the people,” he continued. “Then the sacraments are no longer the expression of a ritualism in search of identity, but become a true rite where God communicates himself to his people.”

Cardinal Hollerich’s reference to the “Tridentine model of the priesthood” appears to be a reference to the Council of Trent’s teaching on the priesthood, and not simply a reference to the traditional Latin Mass.

The archbishop of Luxembourg, now 65, gained notoriety in 2022 when he said that Catholic teaching on homosexuality is “false.” In 2023, Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Hollerich to his nine-member advisory Council of Cardinals.

Vatican document on Marian apparitions due May 17

The Vatican has announced that a new document on discernment of Marian apparitions and other supernatural events will be released at a press conference on May 17.

In April, Cardinal Victor Fernandez, the prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, text revealed that his office was “finalizing a new text with clear guidelines and norms for discernment of apparitions and other phenomena.” The Vatican announced the May 17 press conference following a May 4 meeting between Cardinal Fernandez and Pope Francis, at which the Pontiff presumably approved the document.

Bishop Paprocki charges Biden with sacrilege

BIshop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois has released a video statement in which he charges President Joe Biden with sacrilege, pointing to Biden’s making the Sign of the Cross during a pro-abortion rally.

That gesture made “a mockery of our Catholic faith,” the bishop said. He added: “Sacrilege is a grave sin.”

Climate change photo exhibition on display in St. Peter’s Square

“Changes,” an exhibition on climate change, will be on display from May 7 to 27 in one of the colonnades of St. Peter’s Square.

Organized by the Dicastery for Communication in conjunction with the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the Centro di Alta Formazione Laudato Si’, the exhibition features 24 photographs and the words of St. Francis of Assisi’s Canticle of the Sun.

The exhibition is part of a broader initiative, Emotions to Generate Change.

Pope Francis writes to world’s parish priests, encourages ‘synodal and missionary’ Church

Pope Francis has written a letter to the world’s parish priests emphasizing the importance of becoming a “synodal and missionary” Church.

“I ask you first to live out your specific ministerial charism in ever greater service to the varied gifts that the Spirit sows in the People of God,” he wrote in his May 2 letter.

“With all my heart, I suggest that you learn to practice the art of communal discernment, employing for this purpose the method of ‘conversation in the Spirit,’ which has proved so helpful in the synodal journey and in the proceedings of the synodal Assembly itself,” the Pope continued. “Finally, I would like to urge you to base everything you do in a spirit of sharing and fraternity among yourselves and with your bishops.”

The Pope wrote to the world’s parish priests at the conclusion of Parish Priests for the Synod. The four-day Vatican meeting was announced in February amid criticism that parish priests were insufficiently included on the Synod on synodality.