Vatican Roundup

Vatican Roundup
Catholics and Lutherans reaffirm commitment to communion

The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Lutheran World Federation underscored their commitment to walk together on their common journey from conflict to communion.

The Council and Federation recently announced the publication of the updated Italian translation of the historic ecumenical document called the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.

A post on the Council’s website notes that by launching the updated document on January 3rd, the day this year when Catholics and Lutherans recall the 500th anniversary of the excommunication of Martin Luther, both the Lutheran World Federation and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity underscore their commitment to walk together on their common journey from conflict to communion.

The document, published first in 1999, signalled an agreement between Catholics and Lutherans on the Doctrine of Justification. Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council, said the document is “very important” because it “goes to the very heart of the controversies that separated Lutherans and Catholics in the 16th century”.

Bishop Farrell added that publishing the document on the anniversary of Luther’s excommunication highlights “that we’re not in the same place”.



Pope Francis calls for peace in Central African Republic after disputed election

Pope Francis called Wednesday for peace in the Central African Republic following a disputed election.

In his Angelus address on January 6, the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, the Pope expressed concern about the turmoil following a December 27 vote to elect the country’s president and National Assembly.

“I am following carefully and with preoccupation the events in the Central African Republic where elections recently took place in which the people have manifested the desire to pursue the path of peace,” he said.

“I invite all of the parties to a fraternal, respectful dialogue, to reject any form of hatred and to avoid any form of violence.”

Sixteen candidates stood in the presidential election. Faustin-Archange Touadéra, the incumbent, claimed re-election with 54% of the votes, but other candidates said the vote was marred by irregularities.

A Catholic bishop reported January 4 that rebels supporting a former president had seized the city of Bangassou. Bishop Juan José Aguirre Muñoz appealed for prayers, saying that children caught up in the violence were “very frightened”.


Caritas, Red Cross offer safe shelter for Rome homeless amid pandemic

In an effort to provide immediate shelter and aid to people living on the street in Rome while also trying to curb the spread of coronavirus, the diocesan Caritas and the Italian Red Cross have started operating a testing and temporary holding centre for new arrivals before they go on to regular shelters.

The new offering “represents an innovative service that works as a central hub, a missing link” for new referrals arriving off the streets, so that they have a safe place to be tested for Covid-19 and isolated if need be – services that cannot be guaranteed at Rome’s established shelters and facilities, said a January 7 joint press release.

This way, public health can be safeguarded while also safely taking in and helping people in extreme poverty, it said. The new “pre-welcoming” service, which started January 7, can house 60 people at a time. They can receive testing for Covid-19 and have safe, adequate shelter necessary for a 10-day isolation or quarantine before heading to longer-term shelters, hostels and parish-run centres.