Vatican Round-up

Pope’s promotion of spiritual purification is ‘painful and liberating’

In reforming the Roman Curia, “Pope Francis is promoting a spiritual purification of the temple, which is both painful and liberating, with the aim of making the glory of God, light of all, shine again in the Church,” according to Cardinal Gerhard Müller.

Writing in L’Osservatore Romano in a week when Pope Francis is due to discuss curial reform with his Council of Cardinal Advisers, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith says the Church cannot justify itself in terms of worldly standards of power, wealth, and prestige, and should not be shackled to “a worldly mentality and earthly models of the exercise of power”. Rather, he said, true reform should be rooted in “reflection on the nature and mission of the church of God” with the Church receiving her “true meaning” through preaching salvation.

Responding to calls for further decentralisation in the Church, the Cardinal maintained that “proper decentralization does not mean episcopal conferences are given more power”, saying they should exercise their “authentic responsibility” of teaching and governing “in union with the primacy of the Pope and of the Roman Church”.

Explaining that the curia exists to support the Pope in his ministry of Catholic unity, he describes it as not merely a bureaucracy, but a “spiritual institution rooted in the specific mission of the Church of Rome.”

The reform of the Curia, he says, “must be the exemplar for the spiritual renewal of the whole church”.


Vatican clarifies comments after McAleese objection

The Vatican has moved to clarify comments by Pope Francis that have been widely misconstrued, including by former President Mary McAleese, as indicating approval of corporal punishment of children.

Speaking on the theme of fatherhood in his weekly audience, Pope Francis stressed the importance of both patience and mercy, holding that a good father knows both how to forgive and “how to correct with firmness”. The hallmark of a father who “knows how to protect without sparing himself” is the ability “to correct without humiliating”, he said.

Citing a father who had once said that sometimes he had to strike his children lightly, but made a point of never shaming them by striking their faces, the Pope praised the father’s “sense of dignity” in striving to ensure that in punishing his children he never shamed them.

Responding to criticisms of the Pontiff’s comments, Vatican spokesman, Fr Frederico Lombardi said “the Pope was speaking about the responsibility of parents to ‘correct without humiliating’, or rather, to assume the responsibility of keeping their children on the right track and to help them to grow up well, but always to do so with love and with respect for their dignity”.


Church well-positioned to respond to attacks on family

The Church is on the front line to respond to attacks on the family, especially in the western world, and is called “to defend the institution of the family as a foundation of society and – for Christians – as the domestic Church”, according to the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops.

Interviewed by Italian magazine La Settimana, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri said marriage preparation now takes place in a social framework that has “completely changed” since Pope St John Paul II issued Familiaris Consortio, his apostolic encyclical on the family, in 1981.

Recognising that “there are new situations that must be faced, not avoided”, Cardinal Baldiserri said such situations “need a doctrinal deepening and pastoral courage to find proper solutions, always respecting truth and charity”.

Challenging those who have claimed the 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the Family, which the cardinal chaired, lacked transparency, Cardinal Baldisseri pointed to the publication in the Synod’s final report even of three paragraphs that failed to gain the support of two-thirds of the synod fathers. The final reports of synods typically omit passages that have not attained a supermajority of votes, but Cardinal Baldisseri said that while the principle of consensus remains valid, the Synod has embarked on “a path of renewal”.