Secretariat of State seeks $185 million damages in Vatican financial trial (Vatican News) The Vatican Secretariat of State is asking for €177 million ($185 million) in damages from the defendants in the Vatican’s financial-misconduct “trial of the century.”
In September 28 arguments before a Vatican tribunal, Paola Severino said that the defendants, led by Cardinal Angelo Becciu, had “seriously damaged” the institutional reputation of the Secretariat of State, as well as incurring heavy financial losses for the Vatican.
The lawyer for the Secretariat of State argued that the institution had followed a careful, conservative investment strategy until “the moment of entry of the temple merchants, fully accompanied and consented to by his Eminence Becciu.” She sketched a series of speculative financial deals, culminating in the disastrous London real-estate purchase that prompted a Vatican criminal investigation.
Severino told the court that when Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra succeeded Cardinal Becciu as the sostituto, or deputy secretary of state, he recognized that the London deal was a debacle, and sought “to find a way out of the situation, preserving the investment as much as possible.”
Earlier this week a legal representative for the Vatican bank, the Institute for Religious Works, had told the tribunal that officials of the Secretariat of State treated the bank “like a cash machine” to bail out unwise investments. The Vatican bank is also seeking about $1 million in damages from the defendants.
On September 29, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), which was also called upon to absorb the losses of the Secretariat of State, will present its own case for punitive damages against the defendants. In hearings scheduled next week, lawyers for the defendants will present their case.
Azerbaijan's current actions evoke the Armenian Genocide, bishop warns (Our Sunday Visitor) An estimated 66,000 Armenian Christians have fled Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) for Armenia following a military offensive by predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan.
“History is repeating itself,” Bishop Mikael Mouradian of the California-based Armenian Catholic Eparchy of Our Lady of Nareg warned, as he said that reports of the torture of civilians recall the Armenian Genocide.
“The so-called superpowers and democratic governments are doing nothing,” he added. “Yes, they are deploring the situation, but concretely, no one is helping on the ground. I don’t know what to say.”
Papal abuse commission issues scathing statement on continued abuse cover-ups (Crux) Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has issued a strongly worded statement decrying the “tragically harmful deficiencies” in the handling of sex-abuse complaints.
“Every day seems to bring forth new evidence of abuse, as well as cover up and mishandling by Church leadership around the world,” the commission said.
The September 27 statement from the commission, which was created by Pope Francis, comes as prominent figures in Rome question the handling of complaints against Father Marko Rupnik, and the Pope’s involvement in his case.
“We are long overdue in fixing the flaws in procedures that leave victims wounded and in the dark both during and after cases have been decided,” the papal commission protested.
Pope encourages Viet Catholics to be 'good Christians and good citizens' (Fides) In a letter to Catholics in Vietnam, Pope Francis has taken the same line that he used in a message to Chinese Catholics, encouraging them to be “good Christians and good citizens.”
The Pope’s letter—written to mark an agreement to establish an office of “resident papal representative” in Vietnam—welcomed progress in negotiations between the Vatican and the Vietnamese government. The Pope said that “the Catholic faithful can foster dialogue and engender hope for the country whenever conditions favorable to the exercise of religious freedom are implemented.”
Minority of US Catholics believe in Real Presence (Aleteia) A minority (49%) of American Catholics believe that “Jesus Christ is truly present under the appearance of bread and wine” in the Eucharist, according to a survey by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). A bare majority (51%) see the consecrated bread and wine as “symbols of Jesus.”
In a series of questions about the Eucharist, CARA found that “only 35% responded in a way consistent with Church teaching on the Real Presence.” The study concluded, however, that most Catholics are uninformed about the Church’s teaching, rather than rejecting Catholic doctrine.
Not surprisingly, the survey found that belief in the Real Presence was much stronger among Catholics who attend Mass regularly.
Oklahoma archbishop decries 'archiac' execution of criminal (CNA) Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City lamented the execution of a convicted murderer, saying that it was “fundamentally at odds with the culture of life the state of Oklahoma proclaims to be building.”
Anthony Sanchez, who was executed on September 21, had been convicted of the rape and murder of a college student in 1996.
Artificial Intelligence is theme for World Communications Day 2024 (Vatican Press Office) The theme for the 58th annual World Day for Communications will be Artificial Intelligence, the Vatican has announced.
The September 29 announcement notes: “Like all revolutions, this one based on artificial intelligence, too, poses new challenges to ensure that machines do not contribute to a large-scale system of disinformation and do not also increase the loneliness of those who are already alone, depriving us of the warmth that only communication between people can provide.”
No prosecution for woman who vandalized pregnancy-help center (Daily Signal) Federal prosecutors have chosen not to press a case against a New York woman who vandalized a pregnancy-help center, instead reaching an agreement in which she will pay $2,580 in damages.
Hannah Kamke entered a guilty plea on a charge of disorderly conduct after being arrested for the vandalization of the CompassCare center. The same center had been the target of an arson attack earlier in the year; no arrests have been made in that case.
Kissinger to speak at Al Smith dinner (Pillar) The New York archdiocese has announced that Henry Kissinger will be the featured speaker at this year’s Al Smith dinner, the annual fundraiser for Catholic charities.
The former Secretary of State, who recently celebrated his 100th birthday, was the main speaker for the dinner once before, in 1974.
18 US seminarians ordained deacons in St. Peter's Basilica (CNS) Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City ordained 18 seminarians to the diaconate in St. Peter’s Basilica on September 28. Cardinals Raymond Burke, James Harvey, and Edwin O’Brien were among the concelebrants.
The seminarians come from 16 dioceses and the Ordinariate of St. Peter.
“It is not enough to be good churchmen; you must be disciples,” Archbishop Coakley preached, as he called on the newly ordained to bridge “divides and bring people together with deeper faith, deeper hope and deeper charity.”
He also called upon them to “prepare themselves not for privilege but for marginalization, for persecution and even martyrdom.”
Weekly Mass attendance in US fell to 17% in 2022, with additional 5% watching online (Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate) Weekly Mass attendance among adult Catholics in the United States fell from 24% in 2019 to 17% in 2022, with an additional 5% watching Mass weekly online because of COVID-related concerns, according to a new study published by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.
The study found that “49% percent of adult Catholics always receive Communion when attending Mass and 18% do so frequently or usually. 18% seldom receive Eucharist at Mass. 15% never receive Communion at Mass.”
49% of adult Catholics—and 88% of adult Catholics who attend Mass weekly—believe that “Jesus Christ is truly present under the appearance of bread and wine.”
Only 24% of those surveyed go to Confession at least yearly.
Vatican bank lawyer raps Secretariat of State investors, seeks damages (Crux) As the Vatican’s financial “trial of the century” draws slowly toward its conclusion, at attorney for the Vatican bank, the Institute for Religious Works (IOR), told a Vatican tribunal that the officials of the Secretariat of State invested large sums “without any control or accuracy.”
The attorney, Roberto Lipari, urged the tribunal to find defendants guilty in the financial-misconduct case, and said they should be required to pay the IOR for “moral and reputational damage.”
Lipari charged that the Secretariat of State used the IOR “like a cash machine,” and used their ecclesiastical clout to force the bank’s cooperation. He emphasized that the investment strategy of the Secretariat of State was amateurish: “It was all managed in a self-referential way by a monsignor who’s an expert in canon law, and an accountant with no experience in financial investments.”
To illustrate his argument, Lipari pointed to a plan to invest in a project in Angola, noting that the project threatened environmental damage, the host country had a poor human-rights record, and a potential partner was an arms dealer. That project—which was pursued under the leadership of the trial’s chief defendant, Cardinal Angelo Becciu—never came to fruition.
Cardinal Cupich lauds Cardinal Bernardin's 'seamless garment' (L'Osservatore Romano) The Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, has given prominent coverage to a speech by Cardinal Blase Cupich at Fordham University, praising the “consistent ethic of life” championed by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, in his famous “seamless garment” speech forty years ago.
Cardinal Cupich praised his predecessor for suggesting that “the spectrum of life cuts across the issues of genetics, abortion, capital punishment, modern warfare and the care of the terminally ill.” Whereas Cardinal Bernardin had argued in 1984 that the abortion issue should be seen alongside the question of nuclear weaponry, Cardinal Cupich offered an updated list of issues, including climate change, artificial intelligence, and family leave. He argued that the absence of a federally guaranteed right to paid family leave “is a scandal for any nation.”
Discipline of sister who led community co-founded by Father Rupnik raises questions (CNA) Hannah Brockhaus of CNA notes the apparent contradiction between two recent actions undertaken by the Diocese of Rome. Auxiliary Bishop Daniele Libanori, SJ directed Sister Ivanka Hosta to do penance for Father Marko Ivan Rupnik’s victims; Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the Vicar of Rome, authorized a separate canonical visitation that questioned the accusations against Rupnik.
In unusual move, Steubenville bishop named auxiliary bishop of Detroit (Vatican Press Office) In an unusual move, Pope Francis has transferred Bishop Jeffrey Monforton, 60, of Steubenville (OH) to his native Detroit, where he will serve as an auxiliary bishop.
The Pontiff also named Bishop Paul Bradley, the retired bishop of Kalamazoo (MI), as the apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Steubenville.
Last year, Bishop Monforton announced his request for a USCCB consultative vote on a merger of the Steubenville diocese with the Diocese of Columbus. His request—soon tabled—was undertaken without consultation with his clergy.
Bishop Monforton is also the subject of two ‘Vos Estis’ investigations into whether he mishandled sexual abuse allegations.