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Rome & the World: Is the Order of Malta still sovereign? • First woman vice-postulator of cause for sainthood of a Pope • & more… 

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Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

I.Media - published on 09/07/22

Every day, Aleteia offers a selection of articles written by the international press about the Church and the major issues that concern Catholics around the world. The opinions and views expressed in these articles are not those of the editors.

Wednesday 7 September 2022

1. How can the Pope justify extending the agreement with China on the appointment of bishops ? (Opinion)
2. Is the Order of Malta still ‘sovereign’?
3. Response to Cardinal Brandmüller’s suggestion to limit the conclave to cardinals living in Rome
4. After Francis’ trip to Canada, reconciliation work still needed — and not by Native people
5. The first woman vice-postulator of a cause for sainthood of a Pope 

Visiting the Vatican on the occasion of the beatification of John Paul I, Taiwanese vice-president Chen Chien-jen, who is Catholic, asked the Pope to “pray for Taiwan”. The local Catholic Church, as well as the entire population of this island threatened with annexation by Beijing, is very concerned about the agreement signed in 2018 between the Vatican and the CCP, who agreed to cooperate in the selection of Bishops in order to form a united Catholic Church in China. In reality, the agreement is used as a pretext by Beijing to strengthen its surveillance of churches, by accusing underground Catholics of disobeying the Pope. China also uses the agreement as a way to strengthen trade channels with Latin American Catholic countries. Cardinal Zen, Bishop Emeritus of Hong Kong and the agreement’s biggest opponent, recently said that Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the architect of this rapprochement with the Chinese regime, was “manipulating” the Pope. “I have no trust in this person. He believes in diplomacy, not in our faith,” said the Chinese  Cardinal, accusing the Secretary of State of the Holy See of “telling a series of lies.” As the deadline draws near for a possible renewal of the agreement, Cardinal Zen’s trial, starting Sept. 19, could be the moment for the Pope to “at least attach conditions – such as the release of clergy – to any renewal of the deal, if not scrap it altogether,” the Catholic Herald hopes. “Anything less would be an insult to Chinese Christians, Taiwan and the moral authority of the Church itself,” the British newspaper warns.

Catholic Herald, English   

2Is the Order of Malta still ‘sovereign’?

Pope Francis has completed his reform of the Order of Malta, at the end of a five-year process to overhaul the governing structures of the religious order, which also functions as a global aid organization recognized as a sovereign entity under international law. The Pillar questions the persistence of this notion of “sovereignty.” By promulgating a new constitution with immediate effect, without a vote, the Pope has made a radical arbitration to neutralize two rival camps within the order. However, his decision raises the question of the “unique legal space” in which the Order of Malta has been operating for 900 years, with a sovereign status that allows it to intervene in areas that are difficult for NGOs to access, such as Burma. Lawyers, canonists and ecclesiologists have often discussed the hybrid status of this order, which is both religious and sovereign, since the previous constitution established religious obedience to the Pope through the Grand Master, but also governmental independence from the Holy See through the appointment of an ambassador. The reform effort initiated by the Pope in 2017 has caused great internal tension, and several knights have said that it is now impossible to claim that the order is still sovereign if the Pope can exercise direct and total authority over its constitutional order and governing offices. While some of the ousted leaders privately denounce a “papal putsch,” others acknowledge that the decisions were necessary to overcome internal divisions. “The extent to which all the knights now accept them, both in private and in public, will likely demonstrate how Catholic the order is, and determine how sovereign it will remain,” says The Pillar.

The Pillar, English  

3Response to Cardinal Brandmüller’s suggestion to limit the conclave to cardinals living in Rome

In response to German Cardinal Walter Brandmüller’s suggestion that the election of the Pope be limited to Cardinals living in Rome, journalist Gabriele Höfling sees a “problematic” vision, too focused on the Roman Curia. If the right to vote were to be reduced to “a few Roman administrative officials,” it would lack “the link with the different realities of life in the world,” she argues. In addition, in this case the power of the Curia would be strengthened, which is in contrast with synodality. “The election of a Pope,” she insists, “should not designate the best administrator of the apparatus of the Roman curia, but the best representative of Christ on earth.” Gabriele Höfling would also like to see more reforms in the Church, but that move towards increased democracy. She proposes giving the Presidents of the Bishops’ conferences a vote in the conclave. “Who knows,” she concludes, “maybe one day the people of the Church will be involved in the election of the Pope – and then, please, don’t forget the women.”, German

4After Francis’ trip to Canada, reconciliation work still needed — and not by Native people

In an opinion article published in the National Catholic Reporter, Kirby Hoberg, a mixed Native and white Catholic from the US, explains that her takeaway from Pope Francis’ trip to Canada is that “white Catholics still resent that Native people have any claim on the church.” “The overarching harmful reactions that predominated coverage of the intersection of Native life and Catholicism was disheartening,” she explains, citing for example erroneous articles leading up to the pontiff’s trip that called common Indigenous practices “pagan.” Commenting on the fact that investigations into the effects of the US’s indigenous boarding school system are only just beginning, Hoberg emphasizes that “healing might be a solo and varying endeavor, but reconciliation is a two-way street.” Although appreciating the Pope’s apology as an act of reconciliation she mourns that the pontiff did not use the word “genocide” earlier in the trip or that the Doctrine of Discovery “still stands in its blood-soaked legitimacy.” “Reconciliation concerning something that has occurred over such a long period of time, with still undetermined cost and casualties, requires the involvement of every single one of us,” she concludes. 

National Catholic Reporter, English   

5The first woman vice-postulator of a cause for sainthood of a Pope 

“Pure misogyny,” is how Franca Giansoldati, Vatican correspondent for Italian daily Il Messaggero, describes a photo from the beatification ceremony of Pope John Paul I showing, in the sector reserved for the celebrants among Bishops and Archbishops, a woman “in a corner, sitting almost in the background” seeming “almost to claim her solitude.” The woman is journalist Stefania Falasca, the vice-postulator of Pope John Paul I’s cause for sainthood, and the first woman to hold this position in the cause for a pontiff. She holds a PhD from the University of Rome Tor Vergata in precisely Albino Luciani’s writings, has authored numerous works on the “smiling Pope” and worked tirelessly to share his magisterium, the article explains. Falasca also pursued his cause for beatification without rest, especially since she became in 2020 vice-president of the Vatican John Paul I Foundation, despite the skepticism she encountered, Giansoldati continues. It was also Falasca who conclusively dismissed the fake news claiming John Paul I was assassinated. With patience and deep research Falasca showed that the Italian Pope was “an out-of-the-ordinary Christian […] with a valid message for the Church and the world today.” “In that photo her petite silhouette could not go unnoticed, all it took was a quick glance and one could tell that if she was there it was due to something big, much bigger than that apparent loneliness that certified once again how across the Tiber the condition of women is still to be truly initiated,” Giansoldati writes.
Il Messaggero, Italian 

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