Vatican Round-up

Book claims Pope Francis’ revolution ‘may disappoint’

The Pope is engaged in a “radical revolution” that may disappoint both progressives and traditionalists, according to Cardinal Walter Kasper’s new book Pope Francis – Revolution of Tenderness and Mercy.

Describing how the Holy Father distanced himself from such extreme positions in his final address at October 2014’s Extraordinary Synod, the cardinal casts him as a radical who desires a revolution of mercy.

Mercy, says Cardinal Kasper, is the keynote of Francis’ pontificate, and is the focus of one of the twelve chapters in his book which seeks to “approach the Francis phenomenon theologically”, attempting to shed light on the Pontiff’s theological outlook. Cardinal Kasper argues that Pope Francis is far more likely to talk about the Gospels than about Church teaching in general, and that for him the Magisterium must always be interpreted in light of the Gospel.

Analysing the European and South American roots of Pope Francis’ theology, Cardinal Kasper says the Pope’s theology doesn’t fit neatly into any theological school, and speculates that Francis’ belief in the “humble way of committed people who can move mountains” could provoke a real “revolution of tenderness and love”.


Vatican says high expenses claims are complete fiction

The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ, has responded to a collection of articles published in the Italian weekly L’Espresso, purporting to show internal struggles within the Vatican on ongoing economic reforms and claiming that Cardinal Pell’s Secretariat for the Economy had claimed exorbitant expenses in its first six months.

Reports that Pope Francis had challenged Cardinal Pell about those expenses have been rebutted by the Secretariat, which said claims of such a conversation were “a complete fiction”, adding that “Since March 2014 when the Secretariat was initiated, the operational costs of the Secretariat, which include some initial set up costs, were in fact below the budget set when the office was established.” 

Father Lombardi has gone further, stressing that “Passing confidential documents to the press for polemical ends or to foster conflict is not new, but is always to be strongly condemned, and is illegal.” 

Describing as “undignified and petty” personal attacks in the L’Espresso articles, Fr Lombardi said “it is untrue that the Secretariat for the Economy is not carrying on its work with continuity and efficacy. In confirmation of this, the Secretariat is expected in the next few months to publish the financial statements for 2014 and the estimated budgets for 2015 for all of the entities of the Holy See, including the Secretariat itself.”


Homeless man is given final rest at Teutonic cemetery

Willy Herteller, a homeless man who for over 25 years encouraged pilgrims to go to Confession and attended Mass twice daily in the Vatican’s parish church of St Anna, has been buried in the Vatican’s 1200-year-old Teutonic cemetery, according to the Holy See Press Office.  

Mr Herteller was 80 when he was overcome by cold, collapsed, and died after being taken to hospital on December 12. His body was left unclaimed in a local morgue until Msgr Americo Ciani of the Roman Rota discovered his death and arranged for him to be buried in the Teutonic Cemetery on January 9.

It was Paul Badde, a German friend of Mr Herteller who proposed that the Flemish Mr Herteller be buried in the cemetery, which Charlemagne gave to the Papacy as a burial plot from German and Flemish pilgrims. In his homily at Mr Herteller’s funeral Mass, Msgr Ciani said “His was a life lived in the margins, but a life full of love.” 

Contrary to reports, Pope Francis was not involved in the decision to bury Mr Herteller in the Vatican, according to spokesman Fr Ciro Benedettini.