Vatican News


Questions continue around film's use of pope's quote on civil unions

By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service

Pope Francis speaks with Valentina Alazraki of the Mexican television station Televisa during an interview that aired in May 2019. A clip, apparently cut from the interview and shows Pope Francis talking about “civil unions,” is used in the documentary "Francesco" by Evgeny Afineevsky. (CNS screenshot/Noticieros Televisa via YouTube)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While there is no doubt that Pope Francis said civil laws should protect the rights of gay couples, some mystery shrouds the context in which he said it and the way it is used in a new film.

The film, "Francesco," which was released Oct. 21, presents the pope saying: "Homosexual people have a right to be in a family. They are children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out or be made miserable over it. What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered."

When the documentary by Evgeny Afineevsky debuted at the Rome Film Festival and some news outlets focused on the 20-second clip referring to civil unions, a Vatican official dismissed it as old news, pointing out that the comments were from a 2019 interview with Valentina Alazraki of the Mexican television Televisa.

But the reference to civil unions does not appear in the one-hour, 17-minute interview broadcast by Televisa and available on YouTube, nor does it appear in the Vatican's Spanish or Italian transcripts of the pope's conversation with Alazraki.

And, in fact, the whole 20-second clip in "Francesco" appears to be a reedit, placing phrases the pope did say in the interview together in an order not found in the original.

In statements to the Associated Press, The Washington Post and The New York Times, Televisa confirmed that the pope's comment about civil unions was part of the interview he gave to Alazraki, which was filmed by the Vatican television center. When Televisa was given the footage, the station said, the civil unions passage had been removed.

Televisa spokesman Ruben Acosta Montoya told The Washington Post in an email, "Someone at the Vatican gave us the part that we did broadcast, and later they gave the rest of the material to someone else," specifically, Afineevsky.

The Vatican press office did not respond to requests for clarification.

Pope Francis has made similar references in the past to the need to provide legal protections for the rights of nonmarried people living together in a stable way -- rights, for example, involving inheritance, health care decisions and visitation when one is ill.

And reporters are not the only ones he has discussed it with; Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco issued a statement Oct. 21 saying the pope talked about such protections with the bishops of California when they made their "ad limina" visits in January.

In an article on the conversation Jan. 27, Catholic News Service wrote, "The pastoral care of LGBT Catholics was another topic Pope Francis spoke about, Archbishop Cordileone said. 'He spoke about the pastoral care that we have to give' and the need to understand the suffering many of them have endured, including being shunned by their families."

"'He made important distinctions between the (sexual) orientation and the question of marriage,' for example saying it was important to ensure gay couples have access to public benefits, but insisting gay couples cannot marry, the archbishop said. 'Marriage is unique; marriage, by its nature, is complementarity between man and woman. And he spoke about the danger of the gender ideology and how it denies difference,' the diversity with which God created human beings male and female."

Pope Francis also is on the record supporting some form of civil union legal protections during his tenure as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and in interviews published in 2014 and 2017.

In every case, he has insisted that a civil union law that equated gay relationships and marriage would be unacceptable since marriage is only between a man and a woman.

Archbishop Victor Fernandez of La Plata, Argentina, who is known to be close to Pope Francis, wrote on his Facebook page Oct. 21 that when, as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis advocated for some form of civil union law, the majority of bishops disagreed fearing that many people would equate such a law with marriage.

Pope Francis never equated the two, he said. "For him, the expression 'marriage' has a precise meaning and applies only to a stable union between a man and a woman open to transmitting life."

And, in fact, in the Televisa interview as broadcast, when Pope Francis said that LGBT people "have a right to a family," he immediately added, "this does not mean approving homosexual acts -- not at all."


Vatican extends time to obtain full indulgences for souls in purgatory

By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service

A woman is pictured in a file photo near the graves of her husband and son at Allouez Catholic Cemetery in Allouez, Wis. Because COVID-19 pandemic response measures restrict most gatherings, the Vatican has extended the usual plenary indulgence to souls in purgatory from just the first week in November to include the entire month. (CNS photo/Sam Lucero, The Compass) 

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Plenary or full indulgences traditionally obtained during the first week of November for the souls of the faithful in purgatory can now be gained throughout the entire month of November, the Vatican said.

Also, those who are ill or homebound and would not be able to physically visit a church or cemetery in the prescribed timeframe still will be able to receive a plenary indulgence when meeting certain conditions, the Apostolic Penitentiary, a Vatican tribunal that deals with matters of conscience, said in a notice released Oct. 23.

The tribunal also asked that priests be particularly generous throughout November in offering the sacrament of reconciliation and in administering Communion to those who are infirm.

The new provisions were made after a number of bishops asked for guidance as to how the faithful could perform the works required for receiving a plenary indulgence given the ongoing pandemic and restrictions in many parts of the world limiting the number of people who can gather in one place, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, told Vatican News Oct. 23.

Traditionally, the faithful could receive a full indulgence each day from Nov. 1 to Nov. 8 when they visited a cemetery to pray for the departed and fulfilled other conditions, and, in particular, when they went to a church or an oratory to pray Nov. 2, All Souls' Day.

Bishops' conferences in countries where large numbers of faithful traditionally go to confession, attend Mass and visit cemeteries during the week had asked how the faithful could be accommodated given COVID-19 restrictions or in the case that a member of the faithful was ill, in isolation or in quarantine, the cardinal said.

The Vatican decided to extend the time one can receive a full indulgence to include the whole month of November, he said. Typically, only a partial indulgence is granted after the first week of November.

The full indulgence traditionally offered Nov. 2 for those who visit a church or an oratory and recite the Our Father and the Creed can also be gained any day in November, he added.

Those who cannot leave their homes or residence for "serious reasons," which includes government restrictions during a pandemic, he said, also can receive a plenary indulgence after reciting specific prayers for the deceased or reflecting on a Gospel reading designated for Masses of the dead before an image of Jesus or the Blessed Virgin Mary, or by performing a work of mercy.

In all cases, one also must fulfill the normal requirements set by the church for all plenary indulgences, which demonstrate a resolve to turn away from sin and convert to God. Those conditions include: having a spirit detached from sin; going to confession as soon as possible; receiving the Eucharist as soon as possible; praying for the pope's intentions; and being united spiritually with all the faithful.

Cardinal Piacenza said his office also strongly urged all priests to celebrate Mass three times on All Souls' Day, as allowed for in a 1915 document by Pope Benedict XV.

The hope is that the availability of more Masses that day would help everyone wanting to attend Mass to do so while respecting capacity limits in churches and places of worship, he said.

The church teaches that prayer, particularly the Mass, and sacrifices may be offered on behalf of the souls in purgatory. The feast of All Souls differs from the Nov. 1 feast of All Saints precisely because it offers prayers for the eternal peace and heavenly rest of all those who died in a state of grace, but not totally purified.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, "All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven."


Love of God is always measured by love of neighbor, pope says

By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service

Pope Francis leads the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Oct. 25, 2020. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The proof of being on a path of conversion and holiness always consists in loving one's neighbor, Pope Francis said.

"As long as there is a brother or sister to whom we close our hearts, we will still be far from being disciples as Jesus asks us," he said before reciting the Angelus prayer with those gathered in St. Peter's Square Oct. 25.

The pope reflected on the day's Gospel reading (Mt 22:34-40) in which Jesus said the greatest commandment was loving the Lord with all one's heart, soul and mind, and the second commandment was loving one's neighbor as oneself.

With this, "Jesus establishes two essential principles for believers of all times," the pope said.

The first is that love -- not anxious or contrived obligation -- must always be the driving force behind following God's commandments, he said.

"The second fundamental principle is that love must tend together and inseparably toward God and toward one's neighbor," the pope said.

"This is one of the major innovations of Jesus' teachings, and he helps us understand that it is not true love of God if it is not expressed in the love of the other," and, vice versa, it is not true love of the other if it is not rooted in one's relationship with God, he said.

Love for God is expressed most of all in prayer and adoration, Pope Francis said, and love for one's neighbor is expressed by being close to people, listening to them, sharing and caring for others.

"So often we overlook listening to others because it is boring or because it takes up my time," he said; such feelings even arise when someone else needs someone close during times of trial or sorrow.

"However, we always find time to gossip. All the time! We don't have time to comfort the afflicted, but lots of time for gossiping. Be careful!" he said.

Communion is a gift "to be invoked each day, but also a personal commitment so that our life is not left to become enslaved by the idols of the world," he said.

"The proof of our journey of conversion and holiness always consists in love of neighbor," the pope said.

God's mercy "does not allow us to be discouraged, but rather calls us to begin anew each day to live the Gospel consistently," he added.


World, theology need intelligence, gifts of women, pope tells scholars

By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service

Pope Francis leads an audience with teachers and students at the Marianum, a pontifical institute for the study of Mariology, at the Vatican Oct. 24, 2020. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Catholic Church needs to rediscover its maternal heart and the world needs Mary's motherly guidance so it can become a place where everyone is welcomed as brothers and sisters, Pope Francis said.

"We need maternity, those who generate and regenerate life with tenderness, because only giving, caring and sharing hold the human family together," he said during an audience Oct. 24 with professors and students of the Marianum, a pontifical institute for the study of Mariology in Rome.

A world without mothers has no future, he said. "Earnings and profits by themselves do not offer a future, rather sometimes they increase inequality and injustice. Mothers instead make every child feel at home and give hope."

Pope Francis reminded the staff of the institute that they should be open to opportunities for collaboration with other institutes.

"Mary is a mother who teaches the art of encounter and walking together," he said. "And, so, it is wonderful that, like in a big family, different theological and spiritual traditions merge at the Marianum, which contributes to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue."

It is important that Mariology also pays attention to, promotes and "sometimes purifies" popular devotions to Mary, he added.

And, just as women had an essential role in the story of salvation, their importance for the church and the world today must be recognized, the pope said.

"How many women do not receive their due dignity! Women, one of whom brought God into the world, must be able to bring their gifts to history," he said.

"Their intelligence and manner are needed. Theology needs this so that it is not abstract and conceptual, but delicate, narrative and alive," he said.

Mariology can contribute by bringing that beauty which "humanizes and instills hope" into today's culture, he said, and it can look for "more dignified places for women in the church."


UPDATE: Pope announces new cardinals, including U.S. Archbishop Gregory

By Cindy Wooden Catholic News Service

Archbishop Jose F. Advincula of Capiz, Philippines, is one of 13 new cardinals named by Pope Francis Oct. 25. He is pictured celebrating Mass at the Sancta Maria Mater et Regina Seminarium in Roxas City, Philippines, Oct. 21, 2019. (CNS photo/courtesy Archdiocese of Capiz)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis announced he will create 13 new cardinals Nov. 28, including Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Washington.

The pope made the announcement at the end of his Angelus address Oct. 25, telling the crowd in St. Peter's Square the names of the nine cardinals under the age of 80, who will be eligible to vote in a conclave, and the names of four elderly churchmen whose red hats are a sign of esteem and honor.

In addition to Cardinal-designate Gregory, who will be the first African American cardinal from the United States, the pope chose as cardinal electors two officials of the Roman Curia and bishops from Italy, Rwanda, the Philippines, Chile and Brunei.

Speaking soon after the announcement with the Catholic Standard, Washington's archdiocesan newspaper, Cardinal-designate Gregory said he was "deeply humbled" and he knows that "I am reaping a harvest that millions of African American Catholics and people of color have planted. I am deeply grateful for the faith that they have lived so generously, so zealously and with such great devotion."

Another U.S. citizen is among the new cardinals; retired Italian Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, 80, a former nuncio and a member of the Scalabrinian missionaries, holds dual citizenship. He completed his studies for the priesthood in the United States and taught there for years. He also was director of pastoral care at the U.S. bishops' Migration and Refugee Services from 1983 to 1987 when he was named secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers.

Once the consistory is held in late November, there will be 128 cardinals under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave. Pope Francis will have created just over 57% of them. Sixteen of the cardinals created by St. John Paul II will still be under 80 as will 39 of the cardinals created by Pope Benedict XVI; Pope Francis will have created 73 of the electors.

U.S. Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, retired archbishop of Washington, will celebrate his 80th birthday Nov. 12, before the consistory. Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, whom the pope dismissed as prefect of the congregation for saints in late September, is 72 but renounced the rights of a cardinal, including the right to enter a conclave to elect a new pope.

Italians will continue to have an outsized portion of the electors, rising to 22 of the 128; the United States will stay at nine voters with Cardinal-designate Gregory taking Cardinal Wuerl's place.

The Vatican press office said specifics will be announced later about how the consistory and the usual related activities will unfold given COVID-19 restrictions on travel and gatherings. According to canon law, cardinals are created by the pope's decree, which is "published in the presence of the College of Cardinals." Church law does not specify how many members of the college must be present nor does it insist that the new cardinal be present, although traditionally the consistory includes a public profession of faith by the new cardinals.

Here is the full list of the new cardinals, in the order named by the pope:

-- Maltese Bishop Mario Grech, 63, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops.

-- Italian Bishop Marcello Semeraro, 72, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes.

-- Archbishop Antoine Kambanda of Kigali, Rwanda, who will turn 62 Nov. 10.

-- Archbishop Gregory, 72.

-- Archbishop Jose F. Advincula of Capiz, Philippines, 68.

-- Archbishop Celestino Aos Braco of Santiago, Chile, 75.

-- Bishop Cornelius Sim, apostolic vicar of Brunei, 69.

-- Italian Archbishop Paolo Lojudice of Siena, 56.

-- Franciscan Father Mauro Gambetti, custos of the Sacred Convent of Assisi in Assisi, who was to celebrate his 55th birthday Oct. 27.

-- Retired Bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel of San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico, 80.

-- Retired Italian Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi, a former nuncio, 80.

-- Italian Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, 86.

-- Italian Father Enrico Feroci, 80, former director of Rome's Caritas.


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