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Today’s news dispatch: Nov. 4, 2015

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Pope at Audience: Families Are Gyms Where One Trains How to Give, Forgive

Reflecting on Families, Urges Faithful to Heal ‘Wounds’ Right Away, Don’t Finish the Day ‘at War’

Pope Francis says the family is a great gym where one trains in mutual giving and forgiveness.

During today’s General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said he wanted to underline this point as he reflected on the importance of the family as the place where we learn the value of forgiveness. He reminded those gathered that each day, in the words of the Our Father, we ask God to forgive us and to grant us the grace to forgive others.  

The Holy Father began his address recalling the recent Synod of Bishops, which reflected on the vocation and mission of the family, calling it a moment of grace. He noted it was not the time to examine its conclusions, saying all of us, himself included, need time to meditate on them. But he said he did want to underline how the synod revived hope in the family’s vocation to mutual forgiveness and giving of self.

Speaking on the family as a «gym,» the Pope explained, «Without giving of oneself and without pardoning, love does not  remain, it does not last!»

The Holy Father went on to recall how the Our Father speaks about forgiving trespasses, and then stated: «One cannot live without pardoning, or at least one cannot live well, especially in the family,» he said.

Can’t end day at war

Because we have egos and are fragile, sometimes we make mistakes, the Pope admitted. However, he stressed, we therefore are required to heal these wounds and not wait too long to do so.

Before the day is over, he exhorted, peace must be made between husband and wife, between parents and children, and also with in-laws. When we learn to apologize, the wounds are healed, the marriage is strengthened, and the family becomes more solid.

Francis also mentioned that a long speech is not required to express this apology, but even a caress can start things over. The important thing, the Pope stressed is, «Do not end the day at war! Understand?!»

As difficult as forgiveness may be, the Holy Father pointed out, it is essential for our personal growth, our capacity to acknowledge our failures and to mend broken relationships.  He noted we first learn the virtue of forgiveness in the family.

Christian families help society

«Practicing forgiveness not only saves families from division,» the Pope said, «but enables them to help society be less bad and less cruel.» 

The Holy Father underscored that forgiveness strengthens families in love and suggested that this virtue is «a solid rock» on which to build our lives and an eloquent sign of our Christian discipleship and obedience to the Father’s will. 

Pope Francis concluded his remarks praying that the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy, Dec. 8 – Nov. 20, 2016, encourages families everywhere to rediscover the power of forgiveness, and enables the Church, as a great family, to proclaim the power of God’s reconciling love at work in our world.

FULL TEXT: On Giving and Receiving Forgiveness in the Family

“We cannot live without forgiving one another, or at least we cannot live well, especially in the family. Every day we wrong one another. … What we are asked, however, is to heal immediately the wounds we cause, to reweave the threads that we break in the family”

Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave at this morning’s general audience in Saint Peter’s Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

The Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which ended a short while ago, reflected in depth on the vocation and mission of the family in the life of the Church and of contemporary society. It was an event of grace. At the end the Synodal Fathers gave me the text of their conclusions. I wanted this text to be published so that all would be participants in the work that has seen us committed together for two years. This is not the moment to examine those conclusions, on which I myself must meditate.

In the meantime, however, life does not stop, in particular the life of families does not stop! You, dear families, are always moving forward. And you already write continually, in the pages of concrete life, the beauty of the Gospel of the Family. In a world that at times becomes arid of life and love, you speak every day of the great gifts that marriage and the family are.

Today I would like to stress this aspect: that the family is a great training ground of gift and of mutual forgiveness, without which no love can last for long; without giving oneself and without forgiving one another love does not remain, it does not last! In the prayer that Jesus himself taught us – namely the Our Father – He has us ask the Father: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” And at the end He comments: “”For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:12.14-15). We cannot live without forgiving one another, or at least we cannot live well, especially in the family. Every day we wrong one another. We must take these mistakes into account, which are due to our fragility and our egoism.

What we are asked, however, is to heal immediately the wounds we cause, to reweave the threads that we break in the family. If we wait too long, everything becomes more difficult. And there is a simple secret to heal the wounds and to break off the accusations: not to let the day end without apologizing to one another, without making peace between husband and wife, between parents and children, between brothers and sisters … between daughter-in-law and mother-in-law! If we learn to apologize immediately and to forgive one another, the wounds heal, the marriage is strengthened, and the family becomes an ever more solid home, which resist the knocks of our little and great spiteful acts. And for this, a great speech is not necessary; a caress is enough and everything begins again. But do not end the day in war!

If we learn to live thus in the family, we do so also outside, wherever we find ourselves. It is easy to be skeptical about this. Many – also among Christians – think that it is an exaggeration. It is said: yes, they are beautiful words, but it’s impossible to put them into practice. However, thank God, this isn’t so. In fact, it is precisely by receiving forgiveness from God that we are capable, in turn, to forgive others. Therefore Jesus has us repeat these words every time that we recite the prayer of the Our Father, namely every day. And it is indispensable that, in a society that is sometimes merciless, there are places, such as the family, where we can learn to forgive one another.

The Synod revived our hope also on this: the capacity to forgive and to forgive one another is part of the vocation and mission of the family. The practice of forgiveness not only saves families from division, but renders them capable of helping society to be less evil and less cruel. Yes, every gesture of forgiveness repairs the cracks of the home and consolidates its walls. Dear families, the Church is always by your side to help you to build your home on the rock of which Jesus spoke. And let us not forget these words that precede immediately the parable of the house: “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father.” And he adds: “On that day many will say to me , ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you’” (cf. Matthew 7:21-23).  It is a strong statement, no doubt, which has the purpose to
shake us and to call us to conversion.

I assure you, dear families, that if you are capable of walking ever more decisively on the way of the Beatitudes, learning and teaching to forgive one another mutually, the capacity will grow, in the whole great family of the Church, to give witness of the renewing strength of God’s forgiveness. Otherwise, we might engage in very beautiful preaching, and perhaps even cast out a devil, but at the end the Lord will not recognize us as his disciples because we did not have the capacity to forgive and to be forgiven by others!

Truly Christian families can do much for today’s society, and also for the Church. Therefore I desire that, in the Jubilee of Mercy, families rediscover the treasure of mutual forgiveness. Let us pray that families will are increasingly capable of living and building concrete ways of reconciliation, where no one feels abandoned to the weight of his debts.

With this intention, we say together: “Our Father, forgive us our trespasses, as we also forgive those who trespass against us.”

[Original text: Italian]

[Translation by ZENIT]

[Greeting in English:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters: Following the recent Assembly of the Synod of Bishops which reflected on the vocation and mission of the family, today we reflect on the importance of the family as the place where we learn the value of forgiveness. Each day, in the words of the Our Father , we ask God to forgive us and to grant us the grace to forgive others. As difficult as forgiveness may be, it is essential for our personal growth, our capacity to acknowledge our failures and to mend broken relationships. It is a virtue we learn first in the family. Forgiveness strengthens families in love and, through them, makes society as a whole more loving and humane. It is a solid rock on which to build our lives and an eloquent sign of our Christian discipleship and obedience to the Father’s will. May the coming Jubilee of Mercy encourage families everywhere to rediscover the power of forgiveness, and enable the great family of the Church to proclaim the power of God’s reconciling love at work in our world.


I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including those from England, Norway, Sweden, Japan, Korea and the United States of America. Upon you and your families I invoke the Lord’s blessings of joy and peace. God bless you all!

[Greeting in Italian:]

I give a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. I greet the Sisters Oblates of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Sisters of Saint Dorothy, on the occasion of their respective General Chapters, the Sielistes Group of Brothers of the Christian and La Salle schools.

I greet the group of the Apostolic Vicariate of Anatolia, the “Friends Together” Association and the Pleasant and Friendship Foundation. I invite all to pray for the deceased in this month of November, and may your pilgrimage to the Apostolic See reinforce your sense of belonging to the one ecclesial family.

A thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Yesterday we celebrated the Memoria of Saint Martin of Porres. May his great charity be an example to you, dear young people, to live life as a gift; may his abandonment in Christ the Savior support you, dear sick, in the most difficult moment of suffering; and may his spiritual vigor strengthen you, dear newlyweds, in your conjugal journey.

[Original text: Italian]

[Translation by ZENIT]

INTERVIEW: Aleppo’s Faithful Ask: ‘Where Is God? Why Did God Forsake Us? Why Doesn’t He End the War?’

Everyone in Aleppo is a potential martyr”… “My people, the children included, give me lessons in happiness”

Abbot Semaan Abou Abdou was Patriarchal (Apostolic) Administrator of the Maronite Eparchy of Aleppo, Syria. He is a member of the Maronite Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a Lebanon-based congregation with ancient roots in Aleppo. 

Syria’s largest city is hotly contested by both the regime and rebel forces, including jihadists who often target Christian neighborhoods. On the evening of Oct. 25, 2015, the Roman Catholic Church of St. Francis suffered an attack while 400 people were attending Mass. 

Pope Francis on Saturday, Oct. 31, gave his assent to the canonical election by the Synod of Bishops of the Maronite Church of Fr. Joseph Tobji as archbishop of Aleppo of the Maronites, Syria.

Abbot Abdou spoke with international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need last week, Oct. 28, during a visit to New York.

How traumatized are your people?

Three words summarize the war in Syria: killing, displacement, and destruction.

There are three existential questions: When will the war end? Where are we heading? Who is benefiting? Then there are three questions of faith: Where is God? Why did God forsake us? Why doesn’t He end the war? Everyone is confused, terrified, and feeling aimless.  

There are shortages of water, power outages, a lack of fuel, medicine—many doctors have fled the city. Plus, our churches and many people’s homes have been destroyed. The violence is causing untold grief. I was deeply affected last March during the funeral service of a mother and her two young children who had perished in a bombing. It was a very difficult, emotional scene: here are three coffins in the church—what could I tell people? Everyone is crying, especially their young friends. May the Spirit of the Lord console the hearts of those who are grieving.  

What kind of spiritual strength and resilience is required for ordinary Christians to cope with the ongoing violence and uncertainty?

We work at both the psychological and spiritual levels: with daily prayers, Mass, the rosary, celebrating important occasions such as Christmas and New Year—for the children—and family jubilees, such as 25th and 50th wedding anniversaries; we organize meals for the community. We hold numerous meetings that give young people a chance to express their feelings, to pray together, to discuss topics of war and peace and the vital importance of acceptance of others—how to live our faith in times of war. We visit the elderly; we help children in doing their homework and assignments; and we work with women and housewives, for both spiritual and cultural purposes. The Church is busy doing all these things as much as the security situation allows.

How do you and your flock maintain hope?

There is a positive outlook: Everyone in Aleppo is a potential martyr—in particular Christians who are being killed simply because they are Christians and do not want to abandon their faith and their land. Sometimes I can really see that people’s faith is changing and growing. Their faith is rock solid; they come to church in large numbers. One can see on the faces of the majority the reflection of an inner happiness that takes you to the spiritual realm. They are able to thank the Lord with all their heart; they do not complain despite the persecution, all the distress and deprivations. There is a smile on their faces. They thank you and appreciate everything you do for them.  My people, the children included, give me lessons in happiness. 

Christians in the Middle East are a minority—but their number is not important. What matters is the intrinsic value and power of their existence and the witness of their active presence. 

Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. www.churchinneed.org (USA); www.acnuk.org (UK); www.aidtochurch.org (AUS); www.acnireland.org (IRL); www.acn-aed-ca.org (CAN) www.acnmalta.org (Malta)


Vatican Spokesman Responds to Leak of Financial Documents

Intended to create false impression of «permanent reign of confusion, lack of transparency or indeed the pursuit of particular or inappropriate interests»

The following are reflections by Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, regarding a new chapter in discussions on the economic matters of the Holy See.

“As is known, a significant part of what has been published is the result of the disclosure of reserved information and documents, and therefore of an illicit activity that must therefore be prosecuted forthwith by the competent Vatican authorities. But this is not what we now wish to speak about, given that it is already the object of much attention.

Now, instead, we are interested in considering the content of the disclosures. It can be said that it consists mostly of information that is already known, although often less widely and with less detail, but above all it must be noted that the documentation published relates mostly to an significant effort to gather data and information, initiated by the Holy Father himself in order to carry out a study and reflection on the reform and improvement of the administrative situation of Vatican City State and the Holy See.

The COSEA (Commission for Reference on the Organisation of the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See), from whose archive the majority of the published information originates, was instituted by the Pope for the purpose on 18 July 2013 and then dissolved after the fulfilment of its task.

This is not, therefore, information obtained against the will of the Pope or of the heads of the various institutions, but generally information obtained or provided with the collaboration of these same institutions, for a common positive purpose.

Naturally, a great deal of information of this type must be studied, understood and interpreted with care, equilibrium and attention. Often the same data can give rise to different readings.

An example is that of the situation of the Pension Funds, in relation to which a series of very different evaluations has been expressed, from those who speak with concern of a large “gap”, to those that provide instead a reassuring interpretation (as resulted from the official Communiqués published authoritatively through the Holy See Press Office).

Clearly there is then the issue of the destination and use of goods belonging to the Holy See. Although regarded in their entirety they appear extremely extensive, they are in fact aimed at supporting over time the vast range of service activities managed by the Holy See or connected institutions both in Rome and in different parts of the world.

The origins of the ownership of these goods are varied, and the suitable instruments for knowing their history and development have been available for some time (for example, it would be useful to refer to the economic agreements between Italy and the Holy See in the context of the Lateran Pacts and the work of establishing an effective administration carried out by Pius XI with the assistance of excellent and expert collaborators, a work commonly recognised as wise and far-sighted, also in terms of investments abroad and not only in Rome or Italy).

With regard to Peter’s Pence it is necessary to observe that it is employed for various purposes, also in situations, according to the judgement of the Holy Father, in which it may be given trustfully by the faithful in support of his ministry. The Pope’s works of charity for the poor are certainly one of the essential uses, but is certainly not the intention of the faithful to exclude the possibility that the Pope himself may evaluate situations of urgency and the way of responding, in the light of his service for the good of the universal Church. The Pope’s service also includes the Roman Curia, as an instrument of his service; his initiatives outside the Diocese of Rome; communication of his teaching to the faithful in different parts of the world, including the poor and distant; and the support of the 180 Pontifical diplomatic representations throughout the world, which serve the local Churches and intervene as the main agents for distributing the Pope’s charity in the various countries, as well as the Pope’s representatives in local governments. The history of Peter’s Pence illustrates this clearly.

These issues return to the fore periodically, but are always occasions for curiosity and polemics. It is necessary to study the situations and specific problems in detail and with professionalism, so as to be able to recognise much that is entirely justified, normal and well-managed (much more than is generally assumed and systematically excluded from the type of publication under consideration here) including the payment of taxes due, and to distinguish where there are problems to be corrected, ambiguities to be clarified, and genuine improprieties or illegal acts to be eliminated.

This was precisely the aim of the arduous and complex task initiated at the Pope’s behest with the constitution of the COSEA, which completed its work some time ago, and with the decisions and initiatives which are still in the process of development and implementation (or which are at least in part followed up by recommendations from the same COSEA at the end of its work). The reorganisation of the economic Dicasteries, the appointment of the Reviser general, and the regular working of the competent institutions for the supervision of economic and financial activities, etc., are an objective and incontrovertible reality.

The publication in bulk of a large quantity of different forms of information, in large part linked to a phase of work by now complete, without the necessary possibility of further clarification and objective evaluation instead produces the result – unfortunately largely intentional – of creating the contrary impression, that of a permanent reign of confusion, lack of transparency or indeed the pursuit of particular or inappropriate interests.

Naturally this does not in any way account for the courage and commitment with which the Pope and his collaborators have faced and continue to face the challenge of improving the use of temporal goods in the service of the spiritual. This, instead, is what would be more greatly appreciated and encouraged in the correct work of providing information to respond appropriately to the expectations of the public and the needs of truth. The path of good administration, correctness and transparency continues and proceeds without uncertainties. The is evidently Pope Francis’ wish and the Holy See has no lack of those who collaborate loyally and to the best of their abilities”.

Pope to Ordain Rome’s New Auxiliary Bishop

Mass to Take Place at Pope’s Cathedral on Feast of John Lateran

The Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff announced that on Monday 9 November at 5 p.m. in the papal Basilica of St. John Lateran the Pope will confer episcopal ordination to Msgr. Angelo De Donatis of the clergy of the Diocese of Rome. App
ointed as auxiliary bishop of Rome on 14 September 2015, De Donatis was born in 1954 in Casarano, Italy.

Nov. 9 is the feast of the dedication of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, the official ecclesiastical seat of the Bishop of Rome.

Vatican Letter to Priests for Life Following Visitation

«You have every reason to proceed with confidence, because you have welcomed the assistance of the Church to strengthen your ministry as it continues to grow around the world»

Fr. Frank Pavone, director of Priests for Life, announced Tuesday that the Vatican has made public its conclusions about the ministry of Priests for Life. Two years ago, the Congregation for Clergy concluded an «Apostolic Visitation» of Priests for Life.

«We are proud of the results of the Visitation,» Fr. Pavone said.

Here is the text of the letter:

* * *

Dear Father Pavone,

In response to your recent update about your many activities, I wish to encourage you and your team to continue the fruitful work that Priests for Life is doing.

You have every reason to proceed with confidence, because you have welcomed the assistance of the Church to strengthen your ministry as it continues to grow around the world. At the inception of Priests for Life in 1991, when it was given recognition as a Catholic Association of the Faithful, it was a relatively small apostolate focused within the United States on assisting priests to proclaim the Gospel of Life.

Since then it has grown and diversified into an entire family of ministries, and an international apostolate. While continuing to be faithful to your original vision of assisting and training the clergy, you have sought to follow the Spirit’s lead and respond to the needs of the pro-life movement, and therefore have integrated into your ministry the work of Rachel’s Vineyard, Silent No More, the Youth Outreach of Stand True, outreach to Hispanic and African-American communities, and much more.

Of particular note, you have integrated into your family of ministries the international work of Marie Smith and the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues, assisting lawmakers in many other countries to defend the most vulnerable human lives. You have also become an NGO at the United Nations and continue to assist the Holy See Mission.

As you do all of this, the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy has encouraged you to update your statuses so that they reflect this tremendous growth and development. As the Congregation has indicated, if you eventually want to apply to the Vatican for recognition as an international Association of the Faithful, then those revised statutes can be presented to the competent authority.

In the meantime, however, the value of your apostolate continues to be recognized. As the Visitation Report from the Congregation for the Clergy states,

PFL is present in more than 50 nations, and its work benefits the Church both in the United States and beyond … Without doubt, PFL has offered to the Church a great service in the Pro-Life movement. By all indications, Father Pavone is a truly charismatic leader who has led PFL to significant heights … [The work and finances of PFL are in order … The Association has been well administered financially … [The administrative costs of PFL are in keeping with other groups receiving similar funding in the United States.” (Visitation Report, Sacred Congregation for the Clergy, November 2013).

Moreover, as the Congregation has indicated in a subsequent letter, “there is nothing to prevent ‘Priests for Life, Inc’, together with its numerous affiliated agencies, from continuing to labor on behalf of the pro-life movement,”  with “the many excellent works which Priests for Life continues to do in promoting respect  for the sanctity of human life.” (Letter of His Eminence, Cardinal Beniamino Stella, Prefect, Sacred Congregation for the Clergy to Fr. Pavone , February 6, 2015, Prot. N. 20150367). Please know, then, of my continued support as an ecclesiastical advisor and friend. I encourage all the supporters of Priests for Life to increase that support and work harder than ever to build on the progress you have already made in bringing about a Culture of Life.



Renato R. Card. Martino

Catholics and Lutherans in US Note 32 Points of Agreement

Request Lutheran World Federation and Vatican’s Council for Christian Unity to Assent to Document

Drawing on 50 years of national and international dialogue, Lutherans and Catholics in the United States together have issued the «Declaration on the Way: Church, Ministry and Eucharist,» a unique ecumenical document that marks a pathway toward greater visible unity between Catholics and Lutherans. The October 30 release of the document comes on the eve of the anniversary of Martin Luther’s posting the 95 Theses, which sparked the Protestant Reformation.

«Pope Francis in his recent visit to the United States emphasized again and again the need for and importance of dialogue. This Declaration on the Way represents in concrete form an opportunity for Lutherans and Catholics to join together now in a unifying manner on a way finally to full communion,» said Bishop Denis J. Madden, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Catholic co-chair of the task force creating the declaration.

«Five hundred years ago wars were fought over the very issues about which Lutherans and Roman Catholics have now achieved consensus,» said ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton. «Church, ministry and Eucharist have been areas of disagreement and even separation between our two churches, and we still have work to do both theologically and pastorally as we examine the questions. The declaration is so exciting because it shows us 32 important points where already we can say there are not church-dividing issues between us, and it gives us both hope and direction for the future,» she said.

At the heart of the document are 32 «Statements of Agreement» where Lutherans and Catholics already have points of convergence on topics about church, ministry and Eucharist. These agreements signal that Catholics and Lutherans are indeed ‘on the way’ to full, visible unity. As 2017 approaces, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, this witness to growing unity gives a powerful message to a world where conflict and division often seem to drown out more positive messages of hope and reconciliation The document also indicates differences still remaining between Lutherans and Catholics and indicates possible ways forward. 

In October both the ELCA Conference of Bishops—an advisory body of the church—and the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) received and unanimously affirmed the 32 Agreements. ELCA bishops requested that the ELCA Church Council accept them and forward the entire document to the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, the denomination’s highest legislative body. 

The document seeks reception of the Statement of Agreements from The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU). The LWF is a global communion of 145 churches in 98 countries worldwide. The ELCA is the communion’s only member church from the United States.

The conclusion invites the PCPCU and the LWF to create a process and timetable for addressing the remaining issues. It also suggests that the expansion of opportunities for Lutherans and Catholics to receive Holy Communion together would be a sign of the agreements already reached. The Declaration also seeks a commitment to deeper connection at the local level for Catholics and Lutherans.

In December 2011, Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the PCPCU, proposed a declaration to seal in agreements in the areas of the church, ministry and the Eucharist. The ELCA and the U.S. Conference of Ca
tholic Bishops responded to the Cardinal’s proposal by identifying Catholic and Lutheran scholars and leaders to produce the declaration, drawing principally on the statements of international dialogue commissions sponsored by the LWF and the PCPCU and a range of regional dialogues, including those in the United States.

A significant outcome of the Lutheran-Catholic dialogue in the United States and internationally is the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ), signed in 1999 in Augsburg, Germany. With the JDDJ, the LWF and the Catholic Church agreed to a common understanding of the doctrine of justification and declared that certain 16th century condemnations of each other no longer apply.
The text of the Declaration on the Way and more information are available online: http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-interreligious/ecumenical/lutheran/declaration-on-the-way.cfm

44-Year-Old Elected Maronite Archbishop of Aleppo, Syria

And Appointment for Byzantine Rite Catholics in Hungary

The Pope on Saturday gave his assent to the canonical election by the Synod of Bishops of the Maronite Church of Fr. Joseph Tobji as archbishop of Aleppo of the Maronites, Syria.

Joseph Tobji was born in 1971 and was ordained a priest in 1996. He holds a licentiate in canon law from the Pontifical Urbanian University and has served as chaplain and parish priest, and as promoter of justice and defender of the bond in a number of ecclesiastical tribunals. He is currently secretary of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops.


Also on Saturday, Pope Francis appointed Fr. Abel Szocska as apostolic administrator sede vacante of the eparchy of Nyiregyhaza, Hungary, for Catholis of Byzantine rite, without episcopal rank.

Fr. Szocska was born in Vinohradiu, Nagyszolos, Ukraine in 1972, gave his religious vows in 2001 and was ordained a priest in the same year. He is currently provincial superior of the Basilian Fathers in Hungary, pastor of the parish of Mariapocs, and protosyncellus of the eparchy of Miskolc.

Pope Francis as well accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the Diocese of Elblag, Poland, presented by Bishop Jozef Wysocki upon reaching the age limit.

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