a month in which we have not heard his voice due to a lingering “cold,” which has impeded his pronouncing his addresses and homilies himself over the past 30 day Photo: Vatican Media

Vatican Chronicles: A Month of a Pope Silent of Words and Full of Gestures

Week of March 18-24, 2024

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

(ZENIT News / Rome, 26.03.2024).- It’s Holy Week. The streets of Rome are full of pilgrims and tourists. Each must take advantage of the period of rest that is still associated with the holy days prior to Easter. Thousands of people, who are arriving every day in Rome, must join the long queue that goes across Saint Peter’s Square and doing double or triple the time, leads them to the interior of the Vatican Basilica.

Perceived in both Saint Peter’s Square as well as the Basilica’s interior are the preparations for Holy Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and Easter Sunday. Many have heard that the Pope is unwell, and wonder if he’ll preside over the celebrations of the holy days.

In fact, Pope Francis has been ill for a month, a month in which we have not heard his voice due to a lingering “cold,” which has impeded his pronouncing his addresses and homilies himself over the past 30 days. With the exception of Sundays’ Angelus,” we have only heard him speak a few words but coupled with many gestures.

Perhaps with those gestures the Holy Father continued to reflect a vigorous personality, although the week of March 18-24 was one of little papal activity and, hence, a dearth of news about him. Perhaps the most important gesture was the decision he took about one of the four papal Basilicas of Rome, and the world’s most important Marian Basilica as it is, historically, the first to be dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

The context is as follows: In December of 2021, the Pontiff designated Bishop Rolandas Makrickas Commissioner to organize the Council and the Basilica of Saint Mary Major. He communicated new measures on March 20, 2024: 1) he released Canons from financial and administrative obligations to be able to dedicate themselves fully to the spiritual accompaniment of pilgrims, 2) he promulgated new Statutes and Regulation of the Council, and 3) he appointed Bishop Makrickas as Coadjutor Archpriest with full government faculties. Was this last move, in practice, an act of distrust of the Basilica’s current Archpriest, Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko? Rylko arrived in Rome by the hand of Saint John Paul II and Benedict XVI made him Cardinal. Pope Francis removed him from the Pontifical Council for the Laity in 2016 and placed him in Saint Mary Major’s.

Still speaking of Rome’s Marian Basilica, in an audience on March 19, 2024, the Holy Father decided that Canons and Coadjutors of Saint Mary Major’s Council should become Honorary Canons and Honorary Coadjutors on reaching the age of 80. They are to keep certain benefits while their health allows it, such as apartments and vestments. They can also continue their pastoral work in the Basilica, receive assignments and be buried in the Canons’ Cemetery, being exempt from obligations to the Council and from participating in Chapter Sessions.

Another news item related indirectly with the Pope was the awaited meeting between the leaders of the German Episcopate (promoters of the German heterodox Synodal Way) and five Papal Representatives in the Vatican.

In fact, five Cardinals of the Roman Curia (representing the Pope) and top representatives of the German Episcopal Conference met in the Vatican on March 22 to continue the dialogue initiated during the German Bishops ad Limina visit on November 2022. This meeting, which lasted the whole day, was held in a positive and constructive atmosphere, according to a press release  signed by both sides. Open theological questions were discussed posed in the documents of the German Church’s Synodal Way, identifying differences and convergences following the method of the Final Report of the Synthesis  of the Synod of the universal Church in October 2023. A regular exchange was agreed between both sides regarding the ultimate endeavour of the Synodal Way and the Synodal Committee, in order to identify concrete ways of exercising Synodality in the German Church, in keeping with the ecclesiology of Vatican Council II and the dispositions of Canon Law, to subsequently submit them to the approval of the Holy See. Finally, the next meeting will take place before the summer of 2024.

One last “relevant” news item was announced by the Gregorian, Rome’s oldest Ecclesiastical University. It’s a decision “taken” by the Pope, which implies the fusion of three higher level institutions under one.

On March 15, 2024, Father Mark Lewis, S.J., Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University received from Father Arturo Sosa, S.J., Superior General of the Society of Jesus and Vice Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Gregorian University, the decree of the coming into force of the University’s General Statutes, which include the Pontifical Biblical Institute and the Pontifical Oriental Institute.

The Statutes will come into force on May 19, 2024, Pentecost day. The three institutions, founded by the Society of Jesus and entrusted by the Pope, are the Gregorian, the Biblical Institute and the Oriental Institute. The new Statutes, result of Pope Francis’ Chirograph of December 17, 2019, unite the three entities closely keeping their names and specific missions. The Holy Father expressed the desire to improve the institutes’ mission in the present context. In addition, he delegated to the Jesuits’ Superior General  the preparation of the new Statutes, which were ratified by the Dicastery for Culture and Education on February 11, 2024. Beginning May 19 of this year, a single Rector will govern the new entity, assisted by a Council that includes the three Presidents of the fused institutions, the Administrative Director and a sixth member appointed by the Vice Grand Chancellor. The new leaders will assume their functions for a period of three years.

There are those who’ve said that, in the process of the reform of the Ecclesiastical Universities requested by the Pope, was a master move: the Gregorian “goes ahead” to oblige other Universities to take measures under the pretext that the Gregorian, which enjoys the favour of the Vatican, already took a step forward.

We end this chronicle announcing that we will not publish next week. We will resume publication on the second week of April.

Thank you for reading our content. If you would like to receive ZENIT’s daily e-mail news, you can subscribe for free through this link.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

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: https://twitter.com/web_pastor, habla de Dios e internet y Church and media: evangelidigitalización."

Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation