1. Russian antipathy to Rome cuts much deeper than the latest spat, By John L. Allen Jr., Crux, December 13, 2022, Opinion  Speaking at the presentation of a new biography of a famed Italian politician named Giorgio La Pira on Monday, Parolin reiterated the Vatican’s desire to play the role of go-between. “We’re available, I believe the Vatican is well-suited terrain,” Parolin said. “We’ve tried to offer possibilities of encounter with everyone, and to maintain an equilibrium. We’re offering a space in which the parties can meet and start a dialogue. It’s up to them to determine the working method and content.” Barely had Parolin’s words been reported by Italian news agencies before the Russian government offered a sharp nyet. Maria Zakharova, spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry, said tersely the Vatican would not be the proper place for negotiations. In part, that cold shoulder reflects a recent flap over comments by Pope Francis in a recent interview regarding the brutality of ethnic minorities allied with the Russians such as the Chechens and Buryats, especially since Zakharova was the first Russian official, of what turned out to be many, to condemn the pontiff’s remarks.  The truth, however, is that Russia’s distrust of the Vatican has much deeper roots, as the Dostoyevsky quote above illustrates. It’s an article of faith among many Russian Orthodox intellectuals that Rome is destined to be Moscow’s primary antagonist in terms of representing true Christianity – that the rivalry is genetic and eternal, and that Rome’s perfidy is inevitable.  If that’s your worldview, no amount of temporary (and, as they would see it, deceptive) papal “equilibrium” is likely to convince you that in the final analysis, the Vatican can be trusted. None of this is to suggest that Pope Francis and his Vatican team should abandon the effort. Not all Russian Orthodox believers harbor such deep prejudices – indeed, it’s likely a small minority, though one disproportionately represented in Putin’s inner circle. Attitudes can, and do, change over time. That said, the pontiff and his advisers also shouldn’t be naïve about the depth of Russian skepticism and resistance. Perhaps they also should weigh carefully how far is too far to go in placating such sensitivities – which, in their most hardened form, may be unlikely to change much, no matter what the pope does. https://cruxnow.com/news-analysis/2022/12/russian-antipathy-to-rome-cuts-much-deeper-than-the-latest-spat__________________________________________________________ 2. Pope on Mexican feast day sympathizes with migrant caravans, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, December 12, 2022, 3:37 PM Pope Francis sympathized Monday with the caravans of Latin Americans “seeking freedom and well-being” in the U.S. as he celebrated a major feast day dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe with a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. The first Latin American pope spoke off the cuff in his native Spanish to denounce the plight facing Latin Americans today and in the past. The Argentine Jesuit was marking the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which falls each Dec. 12. To Catholic believers, the date is the anniversary of one of several apparitions of the Virgin Mary witnessed by an Indigenous Mexican man named Juan Diego in 1531. Every year, millions of pilgrims flock to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, which holds an image of the Virgin that is said to have miraculously imprinted itself on the man’s cloak.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/pope-on-mexican-feast-day-sympathizes-with-migrant-caravans/2022/12/12/c6fdc81e-7a54-11ed-bb97-f47d47466b9a_story.html__________________________________________________________ 3. Mexico’s Virgin of Guadalupe pilgrimage returns unrestricted, By Lissette Romero, Associated Press, December 12, 2022, 7:15 PM Mexico’s largest religious pilgrimage for its Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe returned Monday without restrictions for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. For two years, the multi-day pilgrimage had been cancelled or curtailed because the massive numbers of faithful presented a risk of contagion. During the darkest days of the pandemic in 2020, the Mexico City Basilica where the Virgin’s image is preserved was closed entirely for four days. It was open in 2021, but pilgrims coming from across the country were not allowed to maintain their tradition of sleeping outside it. For this year’s Dec. 12 ceremony, the basilica’s patio was awash in a sea of tents and sleeping people.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/mexicos-virgin-of-guadalupe-pilgrimage-returns-unrestricted/2022/12/12/eec039a4-7a3b-11ed-bb97-f47d47466b9a_story.html__________________________________________________________ 4. Texas sues to block Biden administration crackdown on religious adoption agencies, By Valerie Richardson, The Washington Times, December 12, 2022 Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has sued to stop the Biden administration from forcing religious-based foster and adoption services to cater to same-sex couples or risk losing federal funding, saying the rule violates religious-liberty rights. The lawsuit filed Monday seeks to shield Texas from federal enforcement of an Obama-era rule banning private religious social-services agencies from discriminating on the basis of gender identity, sexual orientation and same-sex status, known as the SOGI Rule. “There are so many vital religious institutions in Texas and around the country that can aid in making sure foster children are protected and able to find good homes,” Mr. Paxton said. “The SOGI Rule would force them either to adopt a radical woke agenda or surrender their mission of helping children. That’s not right.”  https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2022/dec/12/ken-paxton-texas-ag-sues-block-biden-administratio/__________________________________________________________ 5. Iowa judge blocks effort to ban most abortions in the state, By Scott McFetridge and David Pitt, Associated Press, December 12, 2022, 7:14 AM An effort to ban most abortions in Iowa was blocked Monday by a state judge who upheld a court decision made three years ago. Judge Celene Gogerty found there was no process for reversing a permanent injunction that blocked the abortion law in 2019. Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a statement that she would appeal the decision to the Iowa Supreme Court.  Reynolds argued that because of decisions earlier this year by the U.S. Supreme Court and the Iowa Supreme Court that found woman have no constitutional right to abortion, the Iowa judge should reverse the 2019 decision blocking the abortion law.  https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/iowa-judge-blocks-effort-to-ban-most-abortions-in-the-state/2022/12/12/d7a46192-7a76-11ed-bb97-f47d47466b9a_story.html__________________________________________________________ 6. German bishops’ VP faces ‘Vos estis’ complaint over abuse casesBishop Franz-Josef Bode has said he now expects to face a Vatican investigation over his handling of abuse cases in the Diocese of Osnabrück., By Luke Coppen, The Pillar, December 12, 2022, 10:57 AM The Vatican has received a canonical complaint against Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, the vice president of the German bishops’ conference, concerning the bishop’s handling of abuse cases in the Diocese of Osnabrück. The bishop has said he now expects to face a Vatican investigation. A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Hamburg confirmed that Archbishop Stefan Heße received the complaint against Bode on Dec. 8, reported Katholisch.de, the German Church’s official website. Bode has led the Osnabrück diocese since 1995, is Germany’s longest-serving diocesan bishop, and was elected deputy chairman of the German bishops’ conference in 2017.  The complaint was made by the joint victims’ advisory council of the dioceses of Hamburg, Hildesheim, and Osnabrück. It drew on a damning report on the handling of cases in the Osnabrück diocese released in September. The 600-page interim report, prepared by the University of Osnabrück, accused Bishop Bode of negligence. The bishop accepted the report’s criticisms at the time, but said that he would not resign because he wanted to oversee the process of strengthening safeguarding procedures in the Diocese of Osnabrück.  https://www.pillarcatholic.com/german-bishops-vp-faces-vos-estis-complaint-over-abuse-cases/__________________________________________________________ 7. What’s happening with the former Vatican auditor?, Lawsuits, criminal investigations, new scandals: what is going on with Libero Milone and the Vatican?, By The Pillar, December 12, 2022, 5:58 PM The Holy See’s former auditors remain locked in legal disputes with Vatican court officials in their attempt to bring a lawsuit against the Secretariat of State for wrongful dismissal. The lawsuit, and linked criminal investigation into the former auditors, has the potential to develop into a full-blown parallel legal process alongside the ongoing financial crimes trial in Vatican City — and could potentially bring dramatic new allegations of corruption to light, or derail the so-called “trial of the century” entirely.  Becciu has since told a Vatican court that the decision to force Milone from office came from Pope Francis personally, and the cardinal was merely carrying out the pope’s instructions. Milone has said he and his team were the target of months of surveillance, including computer hacking and wiretaps, by Vatican law enforcement as part of an effort to shut down their investigations. In press conferences in November, Milone said he had evidence of corruption on the part of senior curial officials which he would present in court to prove he was wrongfully dismissed. “What it was,” said Milone last month, “is that I discovered that there were cardinals putting money in their pockets, they were doing strange things, and my reporting line was to the pope, so I reported everything to the pope.”  Despite filing their petition more than a month ago, the auditors’ lawsuit has been stuck in legal limbo, with the court refusing to even recognize members of their legal team. In line with standard procedure, when they filed their petition on Nov. 4, Milone and Panicco nominated two lawyers to represent them in their case — one, an Italian lawyer, who is their main legal counsel, and another who is authorized to practice before Vatican City courts. The normal practice in Vatican courts is that, in line with the right of parties to choose their own legal representation (which is acknowledged in both canon law and Vatican civil law), counsel appointed from outside the Vatican’s register of pre-approved lawyers is accepted by the court provided they are considered suitably qualified. But the Vatican court has so far refused to accept the Italian lawyer nominated by the former auditors, Romano Vaccarella — a former judge on Italy’s constitutional court.  No reason was given for the rejection. Milone called the decision “greatly damaging” to the petition and noted to The Pillar this week that Vaccarella had spent two years preparing his legal claim before it was  filed in November.  The auditor has previously said his attempts to clear his name in the Vatican have run up against “Orwellian” obstacles to justice and transparency — including the decision by Vatican prosecutors to reopen a criminal investigation into Milone in apparent retaliation for his filing suit for wrongful dismissal.  https://www.pillarcatholic.com/lawsuits-criminal-charges-new-scandals-whats-happening-with-the-former-vatican-auditors/__________________________________________________________ 8. Why the French bishops have launched the world’s first canonical criminal court, By Solène Tadié, Catholic News Agency, December 12, 2022, 7:20 AM This month, the French Bishops’ Conference (CEF) established a new legal structure to deal with crimes and offenses committed by clerics and laity within the Church, including sexual abuse of adults. It is considered a world first: To date, no other bishops’ conference has implemented any national structure of this magnitude. The tribunal “pénal canonique” national — “national canonical criminal court,” TPCN — is to some degree the result of findings by the French Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church (CIASE).  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253049/why-the-french-bishops-have-launched-the-world-s-first-canonical-criminal-court__________________________________________________________ 9. Pope Francis to ask heads of state to pardon prisoners as Christmas gesture, By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, December 12, 2022, 9:50 AM Pope Francis will send a letter to the world’s heads of state asking them to pardon prisoners, the Vatican announced Monday. The invitation to make a “gesture of clemency” will be sent “on the occasion of the upcoming Christmas,” a Dec. 12 communication said. The Vatican said the letter will invite world leaders to grant leniency to “those of our brothers and sisters deprived of their liberty whom they deem fit to benefit from such a measure, so that this time marked by tensions, injustices, and conflicts may be opened to the grace that comes from the Lord.” The latest figures from the World Prison Population List, published in December 2021, report that there are an estimated 11.5 million prisoners worldwide.  https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253053/pope-francis-to-ask-heads-of-state-to-pardon-prisoners-as-christmas-gesture__________________________________________________________

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