Vatican Roundup

Vatican Roundup
Pope signals further reforms to tackle financial crime

Signalling further reforms of the Vatican City State penal code, particularly when it comes to financial crimes, Pope Francis said the laws must reflect “the equality of all members of the church” by doing away with “privileges that go back in time and are no longer in keeping with the responsibility of each for building up of the Church”.

Meeting March 27 with the judges, prosecutors, investigators and other members of the Vatican’s state tribunal, the Pope also encouraged efforts to facilitate international cooperation in investigations to ensure an accurate exchange of information in a timely manner.

Earlier in the week, the 42-page decision of a London judge was released explaining why he overturned a court order freezing the assets of a financier being investigated by the Vatican for extortion, fraud and money laundering in connection with the Vatican Secretariat of State’s purchase of multimillion-dollar property in London’s Chelsea neighbourhood.

The judge said that in asking the British government to freeze the assets of Gianluigi Torzi, who helped broker the deal, the Vatican’s application contained “material non-disclosures and misrepresentations”.


Pope grants Hamburg archbishop leave from duties

Pope Francis has granted Hamburg Archbishop Stefan Hesse a leave of absence from his duties, the Hamburg Archdiocese announced March 29.

The archbishop recently offered his resignation after a report on the handling of clergy sex abuse cases in the Cologne Archdiocese, where he served as director of personnel and vicar general.

In the interim, Msgr Ansgar Thim, vicar general, will handle archdiocesan administration, reported the German Catholic news agency, KNA.

The question as to if or when the Pope will accept Archbishop Hesse’s resignation remains open. The Vatican has so far not issued any statement on the case.

Pope Francis now has time to unhurriedly decide about the resignation, KNA reported. Further information was not available, a Hamburg Archdiocese spokesman said, adding that the Pope had confirmed the steps the archdiocese had already taken.

Archbishop Hesse remains archbishop, meaning that the bishop’s see is not vacant. Archbishop Hesse has no right to demand that his resignation be accepted.

However, the Hamburg Archdiocese noted on its webpage, “We assume that Rome will respect the archbishop’s request”.


Pope Francis tells priests at Chrism Mass ‘the cross is non-negotiable’

Pope Francis told priests at Chrism Mass at the Vatican that “the cross is non-negotiable” when preaching the Gospel.

“The preaching of the Good News is mysteriously linked to persecution and the cross,” Pope Francis said in his homily on April 1.

The Pope went further to say that “the preaching of the Gospel is effective not because of our eloquent words, but because of the power of the cross”.

The Chrism Mass of Holy Week is the Mass at which the Pope, as the bishop of Rome, blesses the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of Catechumens, and the Chrism Oil, which will be used throughout the diocese over the coming year.

This year, fewer than 100 priests from the Diocese of Rome were allowed to concelebrate the Mass and renew their priestly vows in St Peter’s Basilica due to Covid-19 restrictions.

At the Mass offered at the basilica’s Altar of the Chair, the Pope emphasised that the cross was present in the Lord’s life “from the very beginning”.