Friday, April 22, 2016

Join Me For Pilgrimage To Italy and Mother Teresa’s Canonization

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK

Join our small group of pilgrims on a journey to Italy from September 1 through 9, 2016. Our adventure will of course be a spiritual one, but also cultural as we make stops to explore some of the major historic and beautiful cities of Italy as well as Rome for Mother Teresa’s canonization at St. Peter’s Square on September 4th.

I lived in Italy for two years immersed in this richest culture of Europe and perhaps the world. You will have an opportunity for Italian lessons. I will share insights about the people and culture to enrich your experience. Traditional Latin Mass daily or in Italian will be offered, depending upon the desires of our group.

Rome, Assisi, Florence, and Venice are among the most beautiful of the many cultural, spiritual, and architectural gems of Catholic Italy. If you call, give the dates for “Italy Regular,” September 1-9, and my name to ensure you are registering for our group.


Trip Itinerary


Day 1: Departure from USA.

Day 2: Arrival. Depending upon your arrival time, we may visit the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls where the body of St. Paul is buried. It is the second largest basilica in Rome. Check in the hotel and rest for a few hours if time permits. In the afternoon, we will be visiting St. Mary Major, the main basilica dedicated to Mary in Rome. We will see the remains of Jesus’ manger, the tomb of Bernini, the remains of St. Matthew the Evangelist, the tomb of St. Jerome, and the oldest icon in the world of the Virgin Mary painted by St. Luke: the famous Salus Populi Romani. We may attend an Italian Mass at St. Mary Major as well. Casual dress. Dinner and overnight in Rome.

Day 3: Start around 9:00 a.m. Visit the Colosseum, the symbol of the city of Rome; a great building that has been standing since AD 80. Then visit St. John Lateran, the first basilica ever to be built in the Roman Empire. In the afternoon, go to the Catacombs where 500,000 people were buried. After the Catacombs our private bus will take us to enjoy a wine tasting and free time in Santa Maria in Trastevere, the most famous quarter of Rome. Dinner and overnight in Rome.

Day 4: Start the day around 9:30 a.m., by visiting St. Peter’s in the Vatican, the largest basilica in the world. There will be time for private devotions and shopping before lunch. In the afternoon we will see the Vatican Museums, and the Sistine Chapel. There is a dress code: long pants, capris, or skirts below the knee, shoulders covered. Time to rest before dinner in the area of the hotel. Red and white wine included. Overnight in Rome.

Day 5: We will have an early start as our private bus leaves around 7:00 am for the Vatican to attend the 10:00 a.m. audience with the Pope. There will be time for lunch in the area of the Vatican, before we visit the Spanish Steps. From there we will walk to Trevi Fountain, and have time for shopping. This will be followed by a walk to the Pantheon, the oldest functional building in the world, and then to the Piazza Navona around 4:30 p.m. Dinner at Piazza Navona. Red and white wine included. Casual dress throughout the day. Overnight in Rome.

Day 6: En route to Florence, stop in Assisi. See the tombs of St. Francis and St. Clare; enjoy a peaceful walk on the streets of Assisi. Dinner in Tuscany. Overnight in Florence.

Day 7: Tour of Florence in the region of Tuscany. Tour of the Ponte Vecchio, Piazza della Signoria, the Uffizi, Michelangelo’s
David, Flea Market, Duomo (Cathedral), and the Baptistery. Tour guide will show to those interested the location of the Basilica of San Lorenzo and the Medici Chapel (where the Medici family is buried), and Basilica della Santa Croce (where Michelangelo is buried). Dinner in Florence. Red and white wine included. Casual dress throughout the day. Overnight in Florence.

Day 8: Tour of Venice: an amazing city built on water. Leave for Venice in the morning on our private bus. Estimated time of arrival is noon. Visit St. Mark’s plaza. Optional: Gondola ride and shopping. Long pants if you intend to go inside St. Mark’s. Casual dress if you intend to go on a Gondola ride or spend time shopping and visiting the beautiful streets and bridges of Venice. Dinner and overnight in Venice.

Day 9: Our private bus brings us to the airport in Venice to fly back to USA.

The pilgrimage includes: Flights from anywhere in the United States and flights between countries as per your itinerary (all necessary flights on your trip are included).

Daily Mass is available.

Airport Taxes, Security Fees & Fuel Surcharges — Saving you an average of $400-$600!

Transfers as per itinerary. Four or five star hotels in downtown areas. Transportation with luxury bus.

All breakfasts; all dinners at upscale restaurants not at hotel. Wine included with all dinners.

All tips to driver, hotel, and tour guide. Guided tours and tour fees.

Luggage handling (1 suitcase and 1 carry-on per person).

Single Supplement (as long as the passenger is willing to room with someone and allows us to provide them with a roommate. If the passenger wants a guaranteed room of their own, then they pay the $900 single supplement).

Remember: Passengers will never be expected to pay extra for anything while on the trip — we always wait for passengers and never leave anyone behind.

(Trip Does Not Include Lunch or Trip Insurance. Work directly with Travel Guard to protect your investment and insure your money. There are different packages to choose from depending on what your travel needs are.)


Steps for Registration: Easy online: To register online go to “https://www.proximotravel.com/” “Home” page, type “Father Kevin Cusick” or “Maryland” in the box labeled “Search for a priest” and then click on my name, “Father Kevin Cusick” to begin registering for the pilgrimage.

Or by phone: Call us 855-842-8001 or register online with a credit card and pay your $500 deposit per person to save your spot. The $500 deposit is part of the total price of the trip A $1,000 Airfare Deposit (AD) per person is due one month from the registration. The AD is paid ONLY in the form of check (personal, money order, or bank check).

The balance is due four months before the trip departure date. The balance is paid ONLY in the form of Check (personal, money order, or bank check).

Mail all checks and correspondence to: Proximo Travel • P.O. Box 3479 • Worcester, MA 01613 NOTE: If you sign up for a trip within 4 months of the departure date, you pay the deposit of $500 with a credit card and the balance is required to be overnighted in the form of a personal check, money order, or bank check.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Normalization (Regularization) Letter to all SSPX members by Fr Schmidberger


(By today delivered and read by all of the SSPX members)

I. The Church is a mystery. It is the mystery of God's presence among us, our Savior, God, who does not want the death of sinners, but be converted and live. The conversion requires our collaboration.

II The Church is infallible in its divine nature; but it is run by people who can make mistakes and even make mistakes. We must distinguish the office of the person. The latter remains a certain amount of time in office and then out-either by death or other circumstances, but the office remains. Pope Francis today has the papal ministry and the primacy of authority. Within an hour, we do not know,he could resign and another pope will be elected. However, while he has the Papal See, we recognize it as such and pray for him.
We do not say that he is  a good pope. On the contrary, he provokes with his liberal ideas and he creates a great confusion in the Church. But when Christ founded the Papacy, He saw the whole series of Popes of the whole history of the Church, including Pope Francis. And yet He allowed his ascent to the papal throne.
Similarly, our Lord established the Sacrament with His Real Presence, though He foresaw the many sacrileges in the course of history.

III. Archbishop Lefebvre founded the SSPX amid these confusing times for the Church. She is called to give a new generation of priests to the Church, to preserve the true Sacrifice of the Mass and proclaim the kingship of Jesus Christ throughout society, even against the liberal popes and prelates who have betrayed the faith. So I had to come necessarily conflict: in 1975 the Fraternity was sent into exile. There he not only survived, but grew and has become for many people is a sign of contradiction against the destruction of our day. 
This opposition became clear to the world on June 30, 1988 when for reasons of necessity, were consecrated four bishops Msgr. Lefebvre.

IV. However, Msgr. Lefebvre always had the conviction to seek a canonical solution for the fraternity and did not avoid the conversation with the Roman authorities, who wanted to back off. He continued his efforts even after the consecrations of bishops, despite that in its realism had little hope of success. He asked, using ad hominem arguments, to let him "make the experience of Tradition". He fully accepted the fact that the Brotherhood was in an exceptional situation and this was no fault  his own, but his opponents. The situation remained until 2000. Since then Rome has sought a remedy for the situation, sometimes so clever, sometimes with honest intention, depending on who was in care of the problem on the Roman side.

V. The decline of the Church since the simultaneous and constant development of the fraternity, brought some bishops and cardinals who agreed totally or partially, though not readily confessed. Rome was gradually lowering its demands and recent proposals no longer speak of recognizing the Vatican nor the legitimacy of the Novus Ordo Missae. So it seems the time to normalize the situation of the fraternity has come, and this for several reasons:

l) Any abnormal situation lends itself to standardization. This is in the nature of things.
2) We must not lose sight of the danger that the faithful and some brothers used to the abnormal situation and see it as a normal . The opposition here and there against participation in the Holy Year, and the total disregard for the assignment of  ordinary jurisdiction by Pope Francis (we always appeal to the state of necessity and have resorted to extraordinary jurisdiction according to the law) It is causing a stir. If the faithful or the fraternity brothers feel comfortable in this situation of freedom from dependence on the hierarchy, then this implies a gradual loss of sensus ecclesiae. We must never argue: we have sound doctrine, the true Mass, our seminaries, priories and our bishops, we lack nothing.

3) We have sympathizers among priests and cardinals, some of whom would like to call on us to help them, they would give us a church building and possibly confide a seminary to our care. But currently, due to our situation, it's impossible for them to do this. In any case, barriers which the faithful but fearful have will come down. In the news media and everywhere we are regarded as schismatics or separated from the Church, we dismiss these accusations.

4) In the coming years, we urgently need new bishops. It is certainly possible to consecrate them without pontifical mandate in case of emergency,  but if possible to consecrate bishops with the permission of Rome, the said permission must be sought.

5) Modernists, liberals and other enemies of the Church are very concerned with respect to the canonical solution for the fraternity. Discernment of spirits in this regard, suggests not what is the right and best way? 

6) How will the Church will overcome this crisis? One sees that in the present state of affairs there is not even glimmer of hope. In contrast, the official act of recognition of the Fraternity trigger a healthy turmoil within the Church. The good would be encouraged, the malevolent will suffer a defeat.

VI. Answers to some objections:

1) How can we aspire to a recognition by Pope Francis?

Answer: We have already referred above to the necessary distinction between the office and the titular of the office. There is no doubt that the current pope exercises his role established by God . But we must keep in mind what the council really was and the consequences it brought to the Church: confusion, the dictatorship of relativism, pastoral over doctrine, friendship with the enemies of God and enemies of Christianity. But precisely this is one of the mistakes of the council: separate the the cause from the effects. Some were infatuated with the person of Benedict XVI, instead of regarding the papal office first and person second, making his resignation like a cold shower for many. We must not make the same mistake of infatuating ourselves too close to the person rather than the divine institution! Perhaps only the pope Francis is able to take this step (normalization), by unpredictability and improvisation. The media may have forgiven him for having taken this step, but would never have forgiven Benedict.
In its authoritarian, not to say tyrannical style of government, he would be able to implement this measure even for the Resistance.

2) But what do people say of the Resistance?

Answer: We can not guide our actions for people who obviously has lost the sense of Church and love for the Church in its concrete form. As it stands now, they are fighting each other. 

3) In the future we will have to keep silent about all current errors.

Answer: We will not be silent, more over, we will point out the errors by name. Before and after our normalization. We would like to  return from our"exile" in which we are today. 
4) The reputation Pope Francis has among Catholics is so bad that recognition for their part would harm rather than benefit the SSPX.

Answer: Since the beginning we differentiated between the office and the person. If Francis is pope , which he is - then he also has the primacy of jurisdiction over the church. Whether he uses (jurisdictional primacy) it for the good of the Church or not. We must follow the path of usefulness for the Church; orient our actions not by human will and God will bless us. 

5) But this integration of the SSPX in the conciliar system will cost you your profile, maybe even your identity.

Answer: It all depends on how strong we are and who converts whom. If we act strongly, based on the grace of God, then our situation may be a blessing for the entire Church. Where else could be the Fraternity be in order to make possible such a conversion? Of course we should not count on our own abilities and powers, but God's help. Think of the fight between David and Goliath. For this we make an analogy: as Christians we are in a wicked and corrupt world, and we need to prove ourselves here. The danger of contagion is great; but we can and must escape it with the grace of God. 
One thing is clear: a new situation does not facilitate our position as it will stand, it will be complicated, and yet, it will make it thrive more. 

6) All Congregations which were subjected to Rome adapted to conciliate or even perished within the system.

Answer: Our starting position is not the same: In our case it is Rome who pressed for a solution and approached us. In other cases, these “Fraternities” are the applicants, often went to Rome with guilt.
Moreover, none of them has bishops outside the Apostolic Administration Saint John Vianney in the Diocese of Campos in Brazil, where the bishop RIFAN is willing to make any compromise. 
Of course solid protection by an appropriate ecclesial structure is required. This appears to be guaranteed by the personal prelature. This structure has not been offered to another congregation. Finally, the objection raised has been true only in part, with some exceptions in the German - speaking region. However, insurgency has been the life of the SSPX.

VII. Conclusion

If God wants to help His Church indeed He has many means. One of them is the recognition of the SSPX by the Roman authorities. Isn’t the SSPX consecrated to the Blessed Virgin, who will protect and guide its work in this new situation? 
-Dignare me laudare te, Virgo sacrata; da mihi virtutem contra hostes tuos - Grant me to  praise thee, Holy Virgin; give me strength against your enemies.

Zaitzkofen, February 19, 2016
P. Franz Schmidberger
Rector




Monday, March 21, 2016

Holy Week: "contrasted pageantry wherein joy and sorrow succeed each other"

"Holy Week at once recalls the contrasted pageantry of those feasts wherein joy and sorrow succeed each other, with soaring hymns and the silence of desolation, in great cathedrals and humble parish churches alike.

The week opens with the scent of freshly cut branches, the branches of our own countrysides symbolizing the palm and olive branches of the Holy Land.

"The Gloria Laus, that echo of the Hosanna of Israel, falls into silence and the night office of Tenebrae, with its alternation of lessons from the Prophets and chants from the Psalms reminds us of the coming tragedy and the repeated prophecies of which it is the fulfillment.

"Maundy Thursday, with its Altar of Repose in a mound of sweet scented flowers, is like a smile on the road to Calvary save that the Host, hidden among the flowers and the candles, is the very flesh of the Victim, to whom we bow down in adoration.

"Then comes the night when the bells are mute and the candles dead; the sad procession of the crowds making the Stations of the Cross, the veiled statues, the empty tabernacle, monument of a mourning world, until the miraculous dawn when the joyful cry goes up: 'Christ is risen!'"

- "Jesus and His Times" by Daniel-Rops

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Young Traditionalist Speaks Out on the "Trump Opportunity"

We Catholics are not seeing the opportunity in front of us with Trump. Right now, in the midst of an Obama presidency, state government after state government is defunding Planned Parenthood. Why couldn't that effort continue under Trump? Better yet, we Catholics could get some balls and have babies, win the demographic war, and change the national thinking on abortion that way.

What we will NOT be able to do is vote the change in abortion policy we want at the Executive level. Local and state political affairs are about meeting people. National politics don't work that way. You have monolithic ideas at the national level, issues that perfectly polarize. The Left aren't classical Marxists anymore; they can't muster a cogent economic criticism. All they care about is sexual politics. And the neocons on the 'right' lure conservatives with abortion so they can get us to die in their wars. The status quo vis a vis abortion at the national level is too valuable for either party for us to expect a change from the Executive. We're no worse with Trump as President than we would be with Cruz or Rubio, and neither of them can beat Clinton, who would be the worst of all. If abortion is your issue, the case is closed.

Now, where can we make a REAL difference in this election? We have the opportunity here to kick the neocons out of the GOP. Because Trump is indifferent about starting World War III, these neocon rats are jumping off his ship and they're going to be voting for Hillary Clinton in November. Clinton's neocon bonafides are rock solid. Just a little while ago she started a color revolution in Libya and hired mercenaries to get rid of Gaddafi - the same mercenaries who would hop the border, call themselves 'ISIS', and try to do the same thing in Syria. Hillary was cutting their checks, so she's an attractive choice for them. If you doubt me, you don't know neocons. These people came from City College in New York. They were Trotskyites. Then they became 'conservatives'...you think they won't switch from the GOP to the Democrats? OVERNIGHT, we'll be rid of them.

Now, here's the kicker: with the neocons out of the GOP, what possible incentive could our Catholic rags and universities have for keeping them around? If Bill Kristol has no influence among American conservatives, why would Catholics care what George Weigel has to say in First Things?! Can't you guys see it? There used to be non-interventionists and anti-capitalists (not socialists) among the American Right. It was the neocons who destroyed that. We've got a chance to have that again, and in resisting the neocons in the political sphere we can also recover the Catholic mind.

Every single 'traditional' magazine in the Catholic world is a neocon rag. This situation is intolerable. Here's a golden opportunity to change that, and only we can screw up, and how?...by voting for Cruz or Rubio.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Pope at Wednesday General Audience: "Mercy and power"

General audience: mercy and power
Vatican City, 24 February 2016 (VIS) – Mercy and power were the theme of Pope Francis' catechesis in this week's Wednesday general audience in St. Peter's Square, attended by more than twenty thousand faithful and pilgrims.

The Holy Father explained that various passages of the Bible speak about kings and men of power, and also of their arrogance and abuses, demonstrating that "wealth and power can be good and useful for the common good if placed at the service of the poor and of all, with justice and charity. However if, as often occurs, if lived as a privilege, with selfishness and arrogance, they become tools of corruption and death".

An example of this unjust privilege is found in the account of the vineyard of Naboth. The king Ahab wishes to acquire it since it was situated adjacent to the royal palace, but Naboth refuses since for Israel the land is God's, and receives His blessing which is handed from generation to generation. Ahab is indignant at receiving this refusal, which he perceives as an offence to his power, undermining his authority. His wife, Jezebel, which also considered royal power to be absolute, decides to eliminate Naboth and makes false witnesses accuse him before the elders and the authorities of having blasphemed and spoken ill of the king, crimes which carried the death penalty. Naboth was executed and the king inherited his vineyard.

"Recalling these events, Jesus tells us: 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave'. If the dimension of service is lost, power transforms into arrogance and oppression". The story of Naboth, continued the Pope, "is not a story of other times; it is also the story of today, of the powerful who exploit the poor, exploit the people, to have more money. It is the story of human trafficking, of slave labour, of poor people who work illegally and with the minimum salary to enrich the powerful. It is the story of corrupt politicians who want more and more".

The episode of Naboth's vineyard teaches us "where the exercise of authority without respect for life or justice and without mercy leads us. And here we see where the thirst for power leads: it becomes avarice, the desire to possess everything". Francis gave the example of the words of the prophet Isaiah, "who was not a communist", when he observed the avidity of the rich landowners who sought to acquire more and more houses and land. "Woe to those who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is no more room, and you are made to dwell alone in the midst of the land".

However, "God is greater than evil, and the dirty games human beings play, and in His mercy He sends the prophet Elijah to help Ahab convert. The king, faced with his sin, is humbled and asks for forgiveness. How good it would be if today's powerful exploiters were to do likewise!", exclaimed Francis. "The Lord accepts his penance, but an innocent man was killed and this inevitably has consequences. Indeed, the evil committed leaves painful traces, and the history of mankind bears the scars".

In this case too, mercy shows the path to follow as it is able to cure wounds and change history. "Divine mercy is stronger than the sin of men. It is stronger, this is the example of Ahab! We know its power, when we remember the coming of the Innocent Son of God Who made Himself man to destroy evil with His forgiveness. Jesus Christ is the true king, but His power is completely different. His throne is the cross. He is not a king who kills, but on the contrary gives His life. His approach to all, especially the weakest, defeats solitude and the destiny of death that sin leads to. Jesus Christ, with His closeness and tenderness, leads sinners into the space of grace and forgiveness. And this is God's mercy".

Monday, February 22, 2016

Pope Francis to Roman Curia on Solemnity of the Chair of Saint Peter

Jubilee of the Curia: be a model for all

Vatican City, 22 February 2016 (VIS) – At 10.30 a.m. today, the Solemnity of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle, the Holy Father presided at a Holy Mass celebrated in the Vatican Basilica for the Jubilee of the Roman Curia, the Governorate and the Institutions of the Holy See. All the participants, including the Pope, then carried out a procession of faith from the Paul VI Hall to the Basilica, passing through the Holy Door.

"At this time, the Lord Jesus addresses a question to every one of us: 'But who do you say that I am?'. A clear and direct question, from which it is not possible to escape or remain neutral, nor is it possible to postpone the answer or delegate it to someone else. But there is nothing inquisitional about this; instead, it is full of love! The love of our only Master, Who today calls us to renew our faith in Him, recognising Him as the Son of God and the Lord of our life. And the first one called to renew his profession of faith is the Successor of Peter, who bears the responsibility of confirming his brothers".

"Let us allow grace to form again our heart so as to believe, and open our mouth to fulfil the profession of faith and obtain salvation. Let us, then, make Peter's words our own: 'You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God'. May our thought and our gaze be fixed on Jesus Christ, the beginning and end of every action of the Church. He is the foundation and no-one may lay another. He is the 'stone' on which we must build. St. Augustine recalls this with expressive words when he writes that the Church, although agitated and disturbed by the upheavals of history, does not fall down, because she is built on stone, from which Peter's name is derived. It is not the stone that derives its name from Peter, but Peter from the stone, just as it is not the name Christ that derives from Christian, but Christian from Christ. The stone is Christ, the foundation on which Peter too was built".

Francis emphasised that "from this profession of faith there derives, for each one of us, the task of responding to this call from God. Pastors, first and foremost, are required to have as a model God Himself Who takes care of His flock. … It is also good for us, called to be Pastors in the Church, to let the face of God the Good Shepherd illuminate us, purify us, transform us and restore us, fully renewed in our mission. In our workplaces too may we feel, cultivate and practice a strong pastoral sense, especially towards the people we encounter every day. May no-one feel neglected or mistreated, but may everyone be able to experience, especially here, the loving care of the Good Shepherd".

"We are called upon to be God's collaborators in a task as fundamental and unique as bearing witness by our existence the strength of the grace that transforms and the power of the Spirit that renews. Let us allow the Lord to free us from every temptation that distances us from the essence of our mission, and let us rediscover the beauty of professing our faith in the Lord Jesus. Faith to the ministry matches well with the mercy we wish to experience. In the Sacred Scripture, indeed, faithfulness and mercy are inseparable. Where there is one there is the other, and it is precisely in their reciprocal nature and complementarity that we can see the very presence of the Good Shepherd. The faithfulness that is required of us is that of acting in accordance with Christ's heart. As we have heard in the words of the apostle Peter, we must tend to our flock with a generous heart and become a model for all. In this way, 'when the Chief Shepherd appears', we will be able to receive 'the crown of glory that will never fade away'".

Friday, February 19, 2016

Vatican English translation of Pope Francis' Interview on his return flight Back from Mexico

Vatican City, 19 February 2016 (VIS) – As is customary in his apostolic trips, the Pope answered questions posed by journalists during the return flight to Rome, on his visit to Mexico and his encounter in Havana, Cuba with the Patriarch Kirill. The Holy Father addressed a series of themes that ranged from his Mexican experience to the problem of paedophilia, immigration to the European situation, as well as the repercussions of the document signed with the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, the law on civil unions and the various problems linked to the family. He also expressed his hope to meet with Imam of the Mosque of Al-Azhar and revealed that he would like to visit China. The following is a summary of the questions asked by journalists and the replies given by the Pope:

Question: "Holy Father, thousands of people are missing in Mexico, but the case of the Ayotzinapa 43 is emblematic. I would like to ask you why you did not meet with their families and also if you could offer a message to the families of the thousands of missing persons".

Pope Francis: "My messages make continual reference to assassinations, deaths, and lives taken by all these bands of drug traffickers, and by traffickers of human beings. I spoke about these problems as one of the wounds from which Mexico suffers. There have been some attempts to receive people, and there were many groups, even opposed to each other, with internal battles. Therefore I preferred to say that at the Mass I would have seen everyone, in the Mass at Juarez if they preferred, or at another, but I was open to this eventuality. It was practically impossible to receive all the groups who, on the other hand, were opposed to each other. It is a difficult situation to understand clearly, for me, as a foreigner. But I believe that Mexican society is a victim of this: of crimes, of this tendency to make people disappear, to discard them. I spoke about this in my discourses where I could. It is a great source of pain that I bear, as this people does not deserve to experience a tragedy like this".

Question: "The theme of paedophilia, as you know, has very dangerous and painful roots in Mexico. The case of Fr. Maciel has left important scars, especially for the victims. The victims continue to feel that they are not protected by the Church. ...What do you think about this idea that when priests are discovered in a case of this nature, they are to be moved to another parish, and nothing else. How do you regard this matter?".

Pope Francis: "A bishop who moves a priest to a different parish if he detects a case of paedophilia is without conscience and the best thing for him to do would be to resign. Secondly, I would like to return to the Maciel case. Here I would like to render homage to a man who battled in a moment in which he did not have the strength to impose himself, to the point of being able to do so: Cardinal Ratzinger, a man who had all the documentation. When he was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith he had all the documentation in his hands, he carried out investigations … but was not able continue up to the end. But if you remember, ten days before St. John Paul II died, that Good Friday Via Crucis, he said to all the Church that it was necessary to clean up all the 'filth' in the Church. In the Mass Pro Eligendo Pontifice – he was no fool, he knew he was a candidate – he did not try to conceal his position, he said exactly the same thing. That is, he was the courageous man who helped greatly to open this door. Thirdly, we are working hard. With the Cardinal Secretary of State, in discussion, and also with the group of nine cardinal counsellors, I decided to appoint a third secretariat adjunct to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which is occupied exclusively with these cases, because the Congregation is unable to manage them with all it has to do, and therefore this secretariat knows how to manage this. Further more, the Court of Appeal was constituted, presided over by Msgr. Scicluna, which is dealing with the cases of second instance, on appeal. … Another thing that is working very well is the Commission for the Protection of Minors. … With regard to Maciel, returning to the Congregation, action has been taken and now the Congregation, the governance of the Congregation is semi-commissioned, or rather the superior general is elected by the Council, by the General Chapter, but the Vicar is chosen by the Pope. Two general counsellors are elected by the General Chapter and the other two are chosen by the Pope, so that we are able to help them to review old accounts".

Question: "You spoke very eloquently about the problems of immigrants. On the other side of the border, however, there is a rather tough electoral campaign in progress. One of the candidates to the White House, the Republican Donald Trump, recently said in an interview that His Holiness is a man of politics or indeed even a pawn in the hands of the Mexican government to favour a policy of immigration. He has declared that, if elected, he intends to construct a 2,500 kilometre wall along the border between Mexico and the United States, and to deport eleven million illegal immigrants, thus separating families, and so on. I would like to ask, first of all, what you think of these accusations and whether an American Catholic can vote for such a person". Pope Francis: "I thank God that he has said I am a politician, as Aristotle defined the human being as an 'animal politicus': at least I am a human being! And that I am a pawn … perhaps, I do not know. I will leave that to your judgement, to the people. A person who thinks only of building walls, wherever that may be, and not bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel. With regard to what I would advise, to vote or not to vote: I would not like to become involved. I would say only that this man is not Christian. It is necessary to see if he has said these things, and for this reason I would give the benefit of the doubt".

Question: "The encounter with the Russian patriarch Kirill and the signing of the Joint Declaration was acclaimed throughout the world as an historic step. But now, already, in Ukraine the Greek Catholics feel betrayed and speak about a 'political document', supporting Russian policy. On the ground, the war of words has broken out again".

Pope Francis: "It is as document that is open to discussion. I would also add that Ukraine is a country that is going through a time of war, of suffering, with many interpretations. I have mentioned the Ukrainian people asking many times for prayers and closeness to them, both in the Angelus and in the Wednesday general audiences. But the historical fact of a war – everyone has their own idea: what is this war? Who started it? What must be done? What must not be done? It is clear that this is an historic problem, but also an existential problem for the country, and it speaks of suffering. And it is in this context that I insert this paragraph, and what the faithful say can be understood. [In an interview] the Ukrainian Catholic archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk said that many faithful had called or written to him saying they felt profoundly disappointed or betrayed by Rome. It is understandable that a people in that situation feels this way. The document is debatable on this question of Ukraine, but there it is said that the war is to stop and the conflict is to be managed through agreements. I too have personally expressed my hope that the Minsk Accords go ahead, and that what is written with the hand is not cancelled out with the elbow. The Church of Rome and the Pope have always said, 'seek peace'". Question: "The Italian parliament is discussing the law on civil unions, an issue that is giving rise not only to major political conflicts, but also to fierce debate in society and among Catholics".

Pope Francis: "Firstly I do not know how things are in the Italian parliament. The Pope does not get involved in Italian politics. At the first meeting I had with the Italian bishops in May 2013, one of the three things I said was: with the Italian government you are on your own. The Pope is for everybody and he cannot get involved in the specific internal politics of a country. This is not the role of the Pope. What I think is what the Church thinks and has so often said – because this is not the first country to have this experience, there are so many – I think what the Church has always said about this".

Question: "For several weeks there has been great concern in many Latin American countries, and also in Europe, regarding the Zika virus. The greatest risk would be for pregnant women. Some authorities have proposed abortion, or avoiding pregnancy. With regard to avoiding pregnancy, on this issue, can the Church take into consideration the concept of 'the lesser of two evils?'"

Pope Francis: "Abortion is not the lesser of two evils. It is a crime, an absolute evil. On the ‘lesser evil,’ avoiding pregnancy, we speak in terms of a conflict between the fifth and sixth commandments. Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape. Do not confuse the evil of avoiding pregnancy by itself, with abortion. … On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, or in the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear. I also urge doctors to do their utmost to find vaccines against … this disease. Work needs to be done on this".

Question: "You will soon receive the Charlemagne Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in the European Community. … Do you have a word for us in this situation of crisis in Europe?

Pope Francis: "First, about the Charlemagne Prize. I had the habit of not accepting prizes or honours, not out of humility, but because I do not like these things. … But in this case, I would not say I was 'forced', but convinced by the holy and theological stubbornness of Cardinal Kasper. … I accepted and said 'yes, but in the Vatican'. And I offer it to Europe, as a co-decoration for Europe, a prize so that Europe may do as I said at Strasbourg; that it may no longer be 'grandmother Europe' but 'mother Europe'. Secondly, reading the news the other day about this crisis and so on … there was one word that I liked … the 're-foundation' of the European Union. I thought of the great fathers, but today where is there a Schuman, an Adenauer, the great statesmen who after the war founded the European Union. I like this idea of the re-foundation of the European Union, maybe it can be done, because Europe – I do not say is unique, but it has a strength, a culture, a history that cannot be lost, and we must do everything so that the European Union has the strength and also the inspiration to go forward". Question: "Holy Father, you have spoken much about families and the Year of Mercy in this trip. Some wonder how a Church that claims to be merciful can forgive a murderer more easily than someone who has divorced and remarried?" Pope Francis: "On the family, two synods have spoken. The Pope has spoken on this all year in the Wednesday Catechisms. The question is true, you posed it very well. The post-Synod document … reviews everything the Synod has said on conflicts, wounded families and the pastoral (care) of wounded families. It is one of our concerns. Another is the preparation for marriage. … Preparation for marriage is very important. ... I believe it is something that in the Church, in common pastoral ministry, at least in my country, in South America, the Church has not valued much. For example, it does not happen so much now, but some years ago in my homeland there was a habit, something called ‘casamiento de apuro', a marriage in haste because of an unplanned pregnancy, to protect the honour of the family. There, the spouses were not free and often this type of marriage is null. As a bishop I forbade my priests to celebrate this type of marriage. … I would say, let the baby come, let them continue as fiancées, and when they feel like they can continue for the rest of their lives, then they could go ahead. … Another very interesting chapter is the education of children: the victims of family problems are the children. … Another interesting thing from the meeting with families in Tuxtla – there was a couple, married again in second union, and 'integrated' in the pastoral ministry of the Church. The key phrase used by the synod, which I’ll take up again, is to ‘integrate’ wounded families, remarried couples and so on in the life of the Church. But the children who in the middle must not be forgotten. They are the primary victims, both of these wounds, and of conditions of poverty, work, and so on". Question: "Does that mean they can receive Communion?" Pope Francis: "This is the last thing. Integrating in the Church does not mean receiving communion. … It is a path towards integration, all doors are open, but we cannot say, ‘from here on they can have communion.’ This would be an injury also to marriage, to the couple, because it would not allow them to proceed on this path of integration. And the couple in Tuxtla were happy. They used a very beautiful expression: we do not receive Eucharistic communion, but we receive communion when we visit hospitals, in this service, and so forth. Their integration has remained there. If there is something more, the Lord will tell them, but it is a path, a road".

Question: "The media have referred to the intense correspondence John Paul II and the American philosopher, Ana Teresa Tymieniecka. … According to His Holiness, can a Pope have such an intimate relationship with a woman?"

Pope Francis: "I would say that a man who does not know how to have a relationship of friendship with a woman … well, he is a man who is missing something. … A friendship with a woman is not a sin. It is a friendship. … But the Pope is a man. The Pope needs the input of women, too. And the Pope, too, has a heart that can have a healthy, holy friendship with a woman. There are saint-friends – Francis and Clare, Teresa and John of the Cross. ... But women are still not well considered; we have not understood the good a woman can do for the life of a priest and of the church in the sense of counsel, help and healthy friendship".

Question: "On the topic of the law that is being considered in the Italian parliament: it is a law that in some ways is about other countries, because other countries have laws about unions among people of the same sex. There is a document from the Congregation for the Doctrine for the Faith from 2003 that dedicates … a chapter to the position of Catholic parliamentarians in relation this question. It says expressly that Catholic parliamentarians must not vote for these laws. I wanted to ask, first of all, is this document of 2003 still in effect? What is the position a Catholic parliamentarian must take? Also, after Moscow, Cairo: is there another 'thawing' on the horizon? I refer to the audience His Holiness hopes for with the 'Pope of the Sunnis', if we may call him thus: the Imam of Al Azhar".

Pope Francis: "On this second issue, Msgr. Ayuso, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue presided by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, went to meet the deputy to the Imam, and to greet the Imam. … I want to meet him. I know that he would like it. We are looking for a way, always through Cardinal Tauran because that is the way. But we we achieve this. Regarding the first theme: I do not remember that 2003 document from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, but every Catholic parliamentarian must vote according their well-formed conscience. I would say only this. I think it is sufficient. … With regard to persons of the same sex, I repeat what I said on the trip to Rio di Janeiro. It is in the Catechism of the Catholic Church".

Question: "Thank you for this trip to Mexico. … And we are already thinking about future trips. When are you going to go to Argentina, where they have been waiting for you for a long time? When will you return to Latin America, or will you go to China?"

Pope Francis: "I would love to go to China! ... I would like to say something just about the Mexican people. It is a population that has a great wealth … a culture that goes back millennia. … It is a people of great faith. They have also suffered religious persecution. There are martyrs, and I will now canonize two of them. It is a people that you cannot easily explain, because the word ‘people’ is not a logical category, it’s a mythical category. The Mexican people cannot be explained: you cannot explain this wealth, this history, this joy, the capacity to celebrate amid tragedy. … A nation that nevertheless still has this vitality can be explained only by Guadalupe. And I invite you to seriously study the facts of Guadalupe. The Madonna is there. I cannot find another explanation. … There are good books that explain it, that also explain the painting and its meaning. In this way you can understand better this great and beautiful people".

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