the Holy Father continued to be unwell. That was evident when at the start of the General Audience on Wednesday, February 28 Photo: Vatican Media

Vatican Chronicles: The Pope Goes to An Island, UEFA’s Ball in the Vatican and Fiducia Supplicans’ Ecumenical Problems

Week from February 26 to March 3

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(ZENIT Noticias / Roma, 04.03.2024).- There is an Island in Rome and a hospital on that Island. The Island, surrounded by the Tiber river, is called Tiberina and on it is the Gemelli Isola Tiberina Hospital. It was to that Hospital that the Pope was taken in mid-week “for some diagnostic tests.” The previous days the Holy Father continued to be unwell. That was evident when at the start of the General Audience on Wednesday, February 28, he said publicly: “Dear brothers and sisters, I still have a cold. That’s why I’ve asked Monsignor Ciampanelli to read today’s catechesis. Thank you.” And what happened with the Pontiff’s health in the following days, he himself revealed on Saturday, March 2 to Judges on the occasion of the opening of the 95th Judicial Year of the Tribunal of Vatican City State: “as can be seen, I’m not able to read due to a bronchitis.” Despite the Pope’s health, he has been present to fulfil a quite saturated agenda.

Two important moments stand out from that agenda: on one hand, his participation in the International Congress “Man-Woman Image of God: For An Anthropology of Vocations,” which was held in the Vatican. The Pope didn’t read the prepared address, but he did wish to say some brief introductory words:

“(. . . ) I wish to stress one thing: it’s very important that this meeting be held, this meeting between men and women, because today the ugliest danger is gender ideology, which effaces differences and makes everything be the same; to erase the difference is to efface humanity. Instead, man and woman are in a fruitful “tension.” I remember having read a novel of the early 20th century, written by the son of the Archbishop of Canterbury: ‘The Lord of the World.’ The novel speaks of the future and it’s prophetic, because it shows this tendency to efface differences. It’s interesting to read it, if one has the time, because all of today’s problems are there. That man was a prophet.”

In addition to his pronouncement against gender ideology, the Pope confirmed that the Church is now working on a document about this issue. The first person to speak about it was Cardinal Victor Fernández, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, during an interview in the context of the controversies generated  by the Declaration on Blessings, issued by that Dicastery. But, perhaps, it’s worthwhile to recall who was the Cardinal who was “pressured” by a document of this nature: the Dutch Archbishop of Utrech, Cardinal Willem Jacobus Eijk. In regard to all this context, there are already Bishops who have issued documents on gender ideology for their dioceses. There comes to mind, for instance, the case of the Bishops of San Francisco and Oakland in the United States

The second important topic addressed by the Holy Father, with forceful and timely words, was the war between Israel and Hamas. On Thursday morning, February 29, Israel’s army shot defenceless civilians looking for food from food trucks. There are videos circulating on the Internet in which the attack can be seen. The impression is that the Pontiff saw those videos and that’s why he said on Sunday from Saint Peter’s Square:

I carry every day in my heart, with sorrow, the suffering of the people of Palestine and Israel, due to the ongoing hostilities. The thousands of dead, wounded, or displaced, the images of destruction cause grief and this with tremendous consequences for the little ones and the defenceless, who see their future compromised. I wonder: do they really think that peace will be attained? Enough, please! Let’s all say: Enough, please! Stop! I invite to have the negotiations continue for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and in the whole region, so that the hostages are released immediately and return to their dear ones, who wait for them anxiously, and so that the civilian population can safely access the due and urgent humanitarian aid.

Something anecdotic in the Holy Father’s agenda this past week was his meeting with the German Chancellor on Saturday, March 2: we say anecdotic because the Chancellor gave the Pope the official ball for the coming European Football Championship, as well as a white porcelain bear with the Shield of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Referring to the Vatican’s main news, we have learnt that the date has already been set for the meeting between the German Bishops and Cardinals Robert Prevost, Victor Fernández and Pietro Parolin, who are dialoguing with them on behalf of the Pope regarding questions about the so-called German Synodal Way. They will meet in Rome on March 22.

One of the Cardinals who will attend that meeting is Cardinal Fernández, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, who issued the Declaration Fiducia Supplicans. We mention this because, at almost three months since the publication of that controversial document, is now added a problem of an ecumenical nature. At the request of Moscow’s Patriarch Kirill, a Commission of the Russian Orthodox Church reflected further on the Declaration. At the end of its session, the Commission stated that the Declaration departs from Christian moral teaching.

Finally, last week a Delegation of the Spanish Archdiocese of Valladolid was in Rome to highlight and promote the Cause of Beatification of Queen Isabel the Catholic. The Prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Marcello Semeraro said there is nothing to hinder the Cause. Pope Francis greeted the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Valladolid, who presented to him the minutes of the congress held in Rome on the Spanish Queen, who sponsored Christopher Columbus’ trip, which educed in the contact with new civilizations.

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Jorge Enrique Mújica

Licenciado en filosofía por el Ateneo Pontificio Regina Apostolorum, de Roma, y “veterano” colaborador de medios impresos y digitales sobre argumentos religiosos y de comunicación. En la cuenta de Twitter:, habla de Dios e internet y Church and media: evangelidigitalización."

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