Vatican Round-up

‘Francis effect’ having tangible benefits for Church’s charities

The “Francis Effect” is having a real impact on the work of Caritas Internationalis, the Church’s umbrella group of 164 aid and development charities, according to the Rome-based network’s secretary-general.

Michael Roy says while the global economic crisis has meant few of the charities report significant increases in donation, it is clear that the Pope has had a significant impact on programmes, priorities, volunteer numbers, and sharing.

Speaking in advance of the group’s four-yearly special assembly, he said, "There is a 'Francis effect' and it is going on day after day," adding, “It has had an effect on many people worldwide who recognize him as a real leader”.

Mr Roy says Pope Francis has echoed Pope Benedict's admonitions that fidelity to the Gospel makes Caritas Catholic, insisting that the Gospel calls Catholics to live differently and, especially, to treat the neediest differently.

The assembly sets priorities, explores specific issues, approves the Caritas Internationalis budget and elects its international officers, and this time will focus on three key issues: the concrete implications of Pope Francis' call for "a church that is poor and that is for the poor"; growing inequalities in societies and their connection to violence; and climate change and its impact on development efforts.


New statutes protecting children are published

The Pontifical Commission on the Protection of Minors has published new statutes outlining its mission to protection children in the Church.

The statutes are signed by the Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Pietro Parolin and shall be valid for the next three years, after which commission can suggest changes before the Pope approves the commission's permanent statutes.

They outline the structure, nature, activity and goals of the commission, and state that because “the protection of minors is of paramount importance”, the commission’s main role is to advise the Pope how best to promote “local responsibility in the particular churches for the protection of all minors and vulnerable adults”.

The commission, which reports directly to Pope Francis and is currently headed by Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, has been empowered to evaluate the effectiveness of existing child protection programs in individual parishes, dioceses, religious orders, and national bishops’ conferences. Temporary non-member working groups that focus on specific issues and submit proposals to commission members for approval will draw up child protection initiatives and recommendations.

Committee members such as Ireland’s Marie Collins serve for a three-year term, as do its president and secretary, and meet for a plenary assembly twice a year.


Synod on the Family predicted by cardinal to bring no change

The Hungarian cardinal who chaired last year’s extraordinary Synod on the Family has said that he believes that this October’s synod will not lead to changes on such issues as communion for Catholics who have civilly remarried after divorces.

Cardinal Péter Erdő, who will again serve as relator at this year’s synod of bishop, told reporters in Rome that talk of revisions on those fronts is the result of “a pressure with no foundation to change Church teaching.”

Explaining that difficult questions about the modern family are being addressed “with love and sensibility” and with “responsibility toward the unity of the Church”, he said that the theological foundations for Church teaching on marriage and the family are clear.

 “We need to reason with a great sense of tradition, and a great sensibility toward the possibilities that are within the theological and institutional heritage,” said the cardinal, who stressed that in these matters “Christians must follow the person of Jesus of Nazareth, who is our teacher.”

Australia’s Cardinal George Pell, a member of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinal Advisers, has echoed these observations, saying the synod will probably “massively endorse” traditional Church teaching on the family, because “it’s based on the teachings of Christ”.