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Cardinal Sarah to theology students: ‘The more we know the Lord the more we can love him’

Cardinal Robert Sarah speaks with students and faculty at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas on May 25, 2023. / Credit: Benedicte Cedergren/Angelicum

Rome Newsroom, Jun 1, 2023 / 10:15 am (CNA).

Cardinal Robert Sarah urged students studying at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas to ask in prayer for “an intimate and profound union with the Lord and with one another.”

Speaking at a Mass to mark the close of the academic year at the university in Rome known as the Angelicum, the Guinean cardinal spoke about the danger of division in the Church and the importance of prayer.

“Jesus asks that each person may live in love and in true unity, a deep communion, in the image of the Trinitarian communion. A union that immerses our lives fully in Jesus, just as Jesus’ life is immersed in the Father,” Sarah said in his homily.

He added: “Such a union is undoubtedly expressed in a Christian life of deep and intense prayer addressed to the Lord, which in daily life is manifested in a gaze of charity toward the brothers and sisters we meet.”

Seminarians, priests, religious, and laypeople studying philosophy and theology at the pontifical university attended the Mass on May 25.

The prefect emeritus of the Vatican Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments reflected on Jesus’ priestly prayer at the Last Supper in which the Lord prayed: “that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me” (John 17:21).

Cardinal Robert Sarah celebrates Mass for students and faculty at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas on May 25, 2023. Credit: Benedicte Cedergren/Angelicum
Cardinal Robert Sarah celebrates Mass for students and faculty at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas on May 25, 2023. Credit: Benedicte Cedergren/Angelicum

Sarah said: “Jesus calls for them to be a family of God … Jesus knows well that the spirit of division, hatred, or mutual contempt would destroy his Church and mission. It does not matter how the devil is dressed. Everything that divides is still inspired by him.”

“The danger of division, of infighting, of confusion in doctrinal and moral teaching is so grave that Jesus ventures an ambitious, lofty, almost impossible prayer: He asks the Father that his disciples have the same unity that exists between the two of them.”

The 77-year-old cardinal reminded the students that “if theological study does not make us grow in the love of God and neighbor, if we only work hard to pass the exams, then we are killing ourselves for nothing.”

“In our time, it is urgent to restart the missionary commitment to courageously bring the Gospel of Christ everywhere, but preaching must begin with prayer and the concrete witness of that evangelical love expressed with the death of Jesus on the cross and which impels us to look at others before themselves, to spend one’s life for the Gospel and not for one’s own interest or advantages,” he said.

Cardinal Robert Sarah speaks with students and faculty at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas on May 25, 2023. Credit: Benedicte Cedergren/Angelicum
Cardinal Robert Sarah speaks with students and faculty at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas on May 25, 2023. Credit: Benedicte Cedergren/Angelicum

Sarah is the author of a number of books on the spiritual life, including “The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise.”

He said: “Jesus tells us that we should always be able to begin our prayer with this attitude of raising our eyes to heaven, detaching our attention, even physically, from our worries, from our earthly worries and turning towards the high, towards heaven, towards the Father who dwells in it.”

“A gaze bowed and closed in on ourselves does not open us up to God, it does not allow us to enter into a deep and intimate relationship with him. Before we begin to pray, we must, like Jesus, lift our eyes, take them away from our thoughts, even the thought of study and exams, so that we can truly and fully immerse ourselves in him, in his divine dimension.”

Cardinal Robert Sarah speaks with students and faculty at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas on May 25, 2023. Credit: Benedicte Cedergren/Angelicum
Cardinal Robert Sarah speaks with students and faculty at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas on May 25, 2023. Credit: Benedicte Cedergren/Angelicum

Sarah told the students that “the more we know the Lord the more we can love him.”

The Angelicum, which is one of seven pontifical universities in Rome, has 1,000 students coming from almost 100 countries around the world.

Cardinal Robert Sarah celebrates Mass for students and faculty at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas on May 25, 2023. Credit: Benedicte Cedergren/Angelicum
Cardinal Robert Sarah celebrates Mass for students and faculty at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas on May 25, 2023. Credit: Benedicte Cedergren/Angelicum

“We are called, like St. Paul, to have courage and to give our life for the Lord in everything that we are given to live, without fearing the cross, but like Jesus, embracing it tenderly, since that cross is the road to eternity, to fullness of God’s glory,” Sarah said.

“Let us ask the Lord, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, to tend through our lives to an intimate and profound union with the Lord and with one another, to become credible witnesses of the Risen One.”

Matthew Santucci contributed to this story.

Vatican looking into $17 million transfer from U.S.-based charity to impact investing fund

Father Andrew Small, OMI. / Photo courtesy of Father Small.

Rome Newsroom, Jun 1, 2023 / 08:30 am (CNA).

The Vatican is looking into the transfer of $17 million from the U.S. arm of a Church mission to an investment fund, according to the Associated Press.

AP reported May 31 that Pope Francis has asked aides to “get to the bottom of how” the money was transferred.

The transfers date mostly to 2021, when the board of directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies U.S.A. (TPMS-US) approved moving at least $17 million to a nonprofit organization and its private equity fund owned by the organization’s then-national director, Father Andrew Small, OMI.

TPMS-US is the U.S.-based branch of the Pontifical Mission Societies, a worldwide network of four societies that provide financial support to the Catholic Church in mission territories, especially in Africa. Most of its funds come from an annual donation taken up in Catholic churches in October.

As a pontifical organization, it is an official instrument of the Holy See and the pope.

While national director of TPMS-US in 2014, Small founded the New York-based nonprofit Missio Corp. and its private equity fund, MISIF LLC, under the umbrella of TPMS-US. They were separately incorporated in 2018.

After 10 years at the helm of TPMS-US, Small has been the temporary secretary of the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors since 2021. He also continues to be president and CEO of Missio Corp., which runs Missio Invest, an impact investing fund providing financing to agribusinesses, health and education enterprises, and Church-run financial institutions in Africa.

The mission group’s new national director, Monsignor Kieran E. Harrington, and new board of directors have now written off $10.2 million of the total transferred as a loss since “there is no timeline and no guarantee of investment return,” according to its latest audited financial statement, AP reported.

“Management of the organization is diligently working to redeem the investment, however there is no timeline and no guarantee of investment return,” the financial statement says.

Small, in comments to AP, called the write-off of the investment “shortsighted” and said there is no reason to think there will not be a return on investment after the minimum 10-year commitment.

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni told AP: “The Holy See is aware of the situation and is currently looking into the details of the events.”

AP spoke to experts who said the transfers were not necessarily illegal, but Small’s leadership of both TPMS-US and Missio Corp. at the time, and the fact that the former distributes donations of the faithful while the latter gives out loans, raises some questions.

AP reported that according to financial statements, TPMS-US asked Missio Corp. for the $10.2 million investment in MISIF back but it was denied by Missio Corp.

Small told AP in email responses to questions that the money transfers from TPMS-US to Missio Corp and MISIF were approved by the board and in the best interest of the Church. Small also shared letters from bishops and religious sisters in Africa who benefited from Missio Corp.’s low-interest loans.

According to AP, TPMS-US changed the membership of its board of directors, which is mostly cardinals and bishops, after Harrington took over in spring 2021.

Harrington also retained a law firm to document the nature of the relationship between TPMS/Missio Invest/Missio Corp. and the transfer of funds to these various entities.

The board of TPMS-US is currently evaluating its governance structures and will recommend new statutes and vote upon the civil corporation bylaws.

AP reported that some of the money transferred to Missio Corp. and MISIF LLC was earmarked for the renovation of a former monastery in Rome purchased to become a dormitory for women religious studying at pontifical universities.

The monastery, notable for having hidden Jews during World War II, was purchased by the Vatican in 2021 but continues to sit empty.

Small told AP the board of TPMS-US, “for a variety of reasons,” had decided to send the $4.7 million to his Missio Corp. to fund training of sisters in Africa instead of to Rome for the refurbishment of the dormitory.

Pope Francis accepts resignation of Indian bishop cleared of rape charge in civil trial

Bishop Franco Mulakkal. / file photo.

Rome Newsroom, Jun 1, 2023 / 05:36 am (CNA).

Pope Francis on Thursday accepted the resignation of an Indian bishop cleared in early 2022 of charges of raping a religious sister in his diocese.

The resignation of the 59-year-old Bishop Franco Mulakkal as head of the Diocese of Jalandhar comes more than 16 months after his acquittal by a court in India’s Kerala state in January 2022.

The judge in the case found that “the prosecution failed to prove all the charges against the accused.”

The Vatican did not indicate whether it carried out its own investigation into the accusations against Mulakkal, who has denied the claims and contends he was falsely accused after he questioned alleged financial irregularities at the accuser’s convent.

A religious sister with the Missionaries of Jesus accused the bishop of raping her during his May 2014 visit to her convent in Kuravilangad, in Kerala. In a 72-page complaint to police, filed in June 2018, she alleged that the bishop sexually abused her more than a dozen times over two years.

The Missionaries of Jesus is based in the Jalandhar Diocese, and Bishop Mulakkal was its patron.

Malukkal was arrested in September 2018 amid protests calling for a police investigation into the allegation. He was subsequently released on bail.

The bishop was charged in April 2019 with rape, unnatural sex, wrongful confinement, and criminal intimidation. After Malukkal tried to get the charges dropped pretrial, the Kerala High Court found there was enough evidence to proceed.

He was cleared of all charges by the Kottayam court on Jan. 14, 2022.

Malukkal had also claimed the allegations were made in retaliation against him because he had acted against the sister’s sexual misconduct. He said the sister was alleged to be having an affair with her cousin’s husband.

Mulakkal was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Jalandhar in 1990. In 2009, he was appointed an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Delhi.

He became bishop of the Diocese of Jalandhar in June 2013.

Why is June the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus?

Apparition of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque of the Sacred Heart of Jesus / CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Denver Newsroom, Jun 1, 2023 / 02:00 am (CNA).

June is known as the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus most simply because the solemnity of the Sacred Heart is celebrated during this month. This year, the solemnity falls on June 16. The date changes each year because it is celebrated on the Friday after the Corpus Christi octave, or the Friday after the second Sunday after Pentecost.

However, other reasons exist as to why June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart.

The feast dates back to 1673, when a French nun who belonged to the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary (Visitandines) in eastern France began to receive visions about the Sacred Heart.

Jesus appeared to Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque and revealed ways to venerate his Sacred Heart and explained the immense love he has for humanity, appearing with his heart visible outside his chest, on fire, and surrounded by a crown of thorns.

These different ways include partaking in a holy hour on Thursdays and the reception of the Eucharist on the first Friday of every month.

Jesus told Sister Margaret Mary: “My Sacred Heart is so intense in its love for men, and for you in particular, that not being able to contain within it the flames of its ardent charity, they must be transmitted through all means.”

These visions continued for 18 months.

On June 16, 1675, Jesus told Sister Margaret Mary to promote a feast that honored his Sacred Heart. He also gave Sister Margaret Mary 12 promises made to all who venerate and promote the devotion of the Sacred Heart.

He said: “I ask of you that the Friday after the octave of Corpus Christi be set apart for a special feast to honor my heart, by communicating on that day, and making reparation to it by a solemn act, in order to make amends for the indignities which it has received during the time it has been exposed on the altars. I promise you that my heart shall expand itself to shed in abundance the influence of its divine love upon those who shall thus honor it, and cause it to be honored.”

Sister Margaret Mary died in 1690 and was canonized by Pope Benedict XV on May 13, 1920.

The Vatican was hesitant to declare a feast to the Sacred Heart, but as the devotion spread throughout France, the Vatican granted the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to France in 1765.

In 1856, Pope Pius IX designated the Friday following the feast of Corpus Christi as the feast of the Sacred Heart for the universal Church. Ever since, the month of June has been devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and his immense love for us all.

On the current calendar, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is a solemnity, the highest-ranking feast in the liturgical calendar, although it is not a holy day of obligation.

These are the promises the Sacred Heart of Jesus made to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque:

  1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.

  2. I will give peace in their families.

  3. I will console them in all their troubles.

  4. I will be their refuge in life and especially in death.

  5. I will abundantly bless all their undertakings.

  6. Sinners shall find in my heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.

  7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.

  8. Fervent souls shall rise speedily to great perfection.

  9. I will bless those places wherein the image of my Sacred Heart shall be exposed and venerated.

  10. I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.

  11. Persons who propagate this devotion shall have their names eternally written in my heart.

  12. In the excess of the mercy of my heart, I promise you that my all-powerful love will grant to all those who will receive Communion on the first Fridays, for nine consecutive months, the grace of final repentance: they will not die in my displeasure, nor without receiving the sacraments; and my heart will be their secure refuge in that last hour.

This story was originally published on June 19, 2022, and was updated on May 31, 2023.

VATICAN - The mission, the work of God in our "vessels of clay". Cardinal Tagle addresses the Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Societies

Ciampino - Every authentic apostolic mission is the work of Christ, who acts by grace and in the lives and hearts of his disciples, thus making himself "perceptible" to others. This was recalled by Cardinal Luis Antonio Gokim Tagle, speaking on Wednesday, May 31 during the first day of the General Assembly of the Pontifical Mission Societies, underway in Ciampino , at the Institute Madonna del Carmine "Il Carmelo", .
To the more than 100 national directors of the PMS, from all continents, the Pro-Prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization proposed in an "off the cuff" speech, three simple points of reflection to accompany the work of the PMS Assembly, drawing inspiration from the Gospel story of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, celebrated as a feast in the liturgy of the day at the close of the Marian month of May.
The Gospel story - the Cardinal underlined - tells of the meeting of two pregnant women who experience two inexplicable pregnancies from a human point of view. Elisabeth is old and "everyone said she was sterile". Mary is a Virgin, and her first words before the Angel who announced her divine pregnancy were: "How is it possible?" How can I be a mother if I do not know a man?
God himself - Cardinal Taglie commented in the first passage of his reflection - intervened in their lives, in view of a mission: "Mary's son has a mission. And Elizabeth's son also has a mission, in view of the mission of Mary's son". The question of "how is it possible" of Mary and Elizabeth starts from the recognition of the impossibility of accomplishing by human capacities what can only be the work of God. A recognition that vibrates in any authentic apostolic work, which is always the work of God carried out "in vessels of clay", as St. Paul recalls in the Second Letter to the Corinthians. "If we have faith, we recognize that the Lord will accomplish what he wants to accomplish in our lives", and that the treasure in the vessels of clay of which Saint Paul speaks is "a treasure which does not come from us". It's not about justifying mediocrity, laziness or lack of creativity. But to recognize that even with the greatest human efforts, we remain limited". A recognition that "has a missionary dimension", because people will only be surprised if they see "in us, with our vessels of clay", "it is God's work, and not ours", which is accomplished. The credit goes to him, the credit goes to God".
Following the thread of the Gospel of the Visitation, Cardinal Tagle confessed to being "fascinated" by the fact that Jesus, still hidden in Mary's womb, was already "perceived" by others, as was the case for Elizabeth and for John the Baptist himself, who "rejoices" in her womb at Mary's arrival. "A still hidden presence was perceived by those who were filled with the Holy Spirit, which allowed them to perceive even what was not visible but present", underlined the Pro-Prefect of the missionary Dicastery. This is a "beautiful mystery" which also relates to the mission of proclaiming the Gospel. The disciples of Christ are called to confess and bear witness to their faith "openly", but there are situations and circumstances in which they carry Christ with them and also bear witness to him in an intimate and silent way, and "those who are close to us", thanks to the action of the Holy Spirit, will be able to "perceive" the presence and the work of Christ in us. This is why missionary work has its source in prayer and in the encounter with Jesus: allowing the Holy Spirit to "form" Christ in us, so that people can feel His presence more than when we walk and do something else", added Cardinal Tagle.
The Visitation - continued the Cardinal, developing the third point of his reflection - is an event of joy: John the Baptist rejoices in Elizabeth's womb, Elizabeth pronounces the words of joy repeated in the Ave Maria, and Mary herself prays with the "beautiful prayer" of the Magnificat, with which she praises the Lord. She "does not draw attention to herself". She is humbled by the joy of recognizing that it is God who "does great things" in her. And her joy immediately becomes communion with the poor and the little ones of the people of Israel. Mary accepts what God is doing in her "as a sign that God will do great things for his people". In what is happening in her, Mary recognizes "the beginning of the fulfillment of the promise". Carrying Jesus in her bosom, she proclaims in communion the liberation of those who suffer. In this way - Cardinal Tagle underlined, recalling in simple words the real reason for any apostolic mission - Mary shows that the grace of God is never only for me, but for everyone. Happiness is authentic only when it is shared". Any mission undertaken in the name of Christ "can never be separated from the encounter with Jesus, from taking Jesus with us and in us", so that it is He who makes Himself "perceptible" for the people we meet, and that the work of God may "shine on every occasion".

ASIA/MYANMAR - Appointment of bishop of Pathein

Vatican City - The Holy Father has appointed the Reverend Henry Eikhlein, of the clergy of Pathein, Myanmar, until now diocesan administrator of the same diocese, as bishop of the diocese of Pathein, Myanmar.
Msgr. Henry Eikhlein was born on 23 June 1960 in Painne Chaung, in the diocese of Pathein. He obtained a bachelor's degree in psychology from Yangon University and later studied philosophy and theology at Saint Joseph’s Major Seminary in Yangon.
He was ordained a priest on 11 March 1989 for the diocese of Pathein.
After ordination, he first served as deputy parish priest of Pathein Cathedral . He obtained a licentiate in theology from the Université Catholique de l'Ouest, Angers ; Following monastic experience in France , England, Israel and the Philippines ; he went on to hold the roles of parish priest of Theyetchaung, Pathein ; rector of the minor seminary in Mayanchaung, Pathein ; spiritual director and then rector of the major seminary in Yangon; diocesan director of Caritas "Karuna" in Pathein ; and coordinator of the diocesan socio-pastoral programme . Since 2021, he has been diocesan administrator of the diocese of Pathein.

AMERICA/ECUADOR - Resignation of vicar apostolic of Napo

Vatican City - The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the apostolic vicariate of Napo, Ecuador, presented by Bishop Adelio Pasqualotto, C.S.J., titular of Abthugni.

ASIA/MYANMAR - Resignation and succession of bishop of Mawlamyine, Myanmar

Vatican City - The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Mawlamyine, Myanmar, presented by Bishop Raymond Saw Po Ray.
He is succeeded by Bishop Maurine Nyunt Wai, until now coadjutor bishop.

ASIA/INDIA - Resignation of Bishop of Jullundur

Vatican City - - The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the diocese of Jullundur, India, presented by Bishop Franco Mulakkal

ASIA/SOUTH KOREA - Dioceses and parishes committed to "carbon neutrality", in the spirit of Laudato Sì

Seoul - Faced with the global climate crisis, humanity faces the great task of so-called "carbon neutrality", defined in climatology as "the state of equilibrium between carbon dioxide emissions of anthropic origin and its removal from the atmosphere", that is. the condition of "zero net emissions" of CO2. The issue does not leave the Catholic community in South Korea indifferent, which has taken Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato Sì seriously. For this reason, the Commission for the Environment and Ecology of the Bishops' Conference of South Korea is organizing a study day entitled "Carbon neutrality of the Korean Catholic Church" on June 5, organized by the Catholic diocese of Incheon.
During the day, all dioceses and parishes will be shown a path to reach "zero net emissions" will be brought to the attention of all dioceses and parishes, suggesting ways and practices to start concretely. The main speech will be given by Jesuit Father Cho Hyeon-cheol SJ, a professor at Sogang University, on "Church's carbon neutrality for ecological repentance". Faced with the omnipotence of science and technology - explains the Jesuit - considering climate change as the result of human greed and a wrong lifestyle - as Laudato Sì affirms - a kind of "ecological repentance" is necessary, from which to start over to rethink and move towards a society that is more just and respectful of Creation. Father Yang Gi-seok, Secretary General of the Commission for the Environment in the diocese of Suwon, will illustrate the "good practices of carbon neutrality" already adopted in dioceses and parishes, in line with the indications of Laudato Sì. His analysis will highlight the results and limits of this commitment, trying to trace a necessary and shared path.
In this sense, special emphasis will be placed, at the proposal of Professor Kim Dong-joo, a specialist in renewable energy, on wind energy, which is attracting worldwide attention. Local communities can in fact achieve carbon neutrality through the production of wind energy: the aim is therefore to examine the possibility of an energy conversion movement involving the Catholic faithful, but then spreading to all local residents, an experiment that is intended to be launched in the maritime city of Incheon.
Like Japan, South Korea - Asia's fourth largest economy - announced as early as 2020 its intention to become "carbon neutral" as a nation by 2050. Coal currently accounts for 40% of South Korea's energy, and renewable energies reach a share of less than 6%. South Korea's per capita carbon dioxide emissions remain among the highest in Asia.
In 2020, the Korean government launched an investment plan of about 7.1 billion dollars in "Green new deal" projects, which include building renovation, urban living practices, recycling, incentives for electric cars and the installation of charging stations for electric and hydrogen cars, as well as the construction of renewable energy plants.