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Here's what to know about Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone

Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Cordileone attends the Mass and imposition of the pallium upon new metropolitan archbishops held by Pope Francis for the feast of Saints Peter and Paul at Vatican Basilica, June 29, 2013. / Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Denver Newsroom, May 20, 2022 / 13:33 pm (CNA).

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco is in the news for saying that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a San Francisco Democrat and professed Catholic, may not receive Holy Communion because of her staunch, obstinate political support for abortion.

The response of Catholic bishops to politicians who promote legal abortion has long been a topic of discussion. Cordileone’s action comes as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to overturn precedent that mandates legal abortion across the country.

Where is the archbishop coming from?

The 65-year-old archbishop has headed the San Francisco archdiocese since 2012, after four years as Bishop of Oakland across the San Francisco Bay. The San Diego native was an auxiliary bishop for the San Diego diocese for ten years.

It will be hard for Pelosi’s defenders to say he doesn’t know Catholicism. Cordileone’s educational background includes seminary studies at the Pontifical North American College in Rome, an undergraduate degree in sacred theology, and a doctoral degree from the Pontifical Gregorian University. Before he was named a bishop, he spent seven years in Rome as an assistant at the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Church’s “supreme court” on matters of canon law.

In Italian, Cordileone’s last name means “Heart of a Lion.”

While the archbishop is outspoken on pro-life concerns, he has also focused on San Francisco’s homeless population. He has offered a requiem Mass for homeless people who have died.

He has also focused on beauty and music in the Catholic liturgy, launching the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Worship in 2014. When vandals and protesters toppled statues of Catholic missionary St. Junipero Serra, he performed an exorcism at one vandalism site.

Is Cordileone’s move against Pelosi political?

The archbishop’s previous words on abortion politics declare a higher purpose:

“It is souls that are at stake, not elections. Lost sheep are to be lovingly called to return to the fold, not angrily denounced in the way that would imitate so much of the animosity of our political culture.”

As an authority, he cited Pope Francis, who reminds bishops “to think and speak as pastors, not as politicians.”

And in a letter to priests of his archdiocese explaining his action, he said, “I have been very clear all along, in both my words and my actions, that my motive is pastoral, not political.”

“This is simply application of Church teaching,” he added. “One would have to demonstrate that a person’s actions in following Church teaching is explicitly for a political purpose in order to justify the accusation of ‘weaponizing’ the Eucharist.”

Cordileone previously gave Pelosi thousands of roses to try to sway her heart.

The archbishop led a pro-life campaign to collect thousands of roses for Pelosi. On the Dec. 12 Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, campaign leaders placed 7,700 roses outside the U.S. Capitol.

“This is what equality means: Every human life is equally sacred,” Cordileone said at the time. “Speaker Pelosi, we love you. It is not too late: choose life.”

More than 10,000 roses were dedicated to Pelosi through the campaign, called "Rose and a Rosary for Nancy Pelosi."

Why does the archbishop link the Eucharist to politicians’ actions on abortion?

Cordileone sees an “intimate connection” between reverence for the Eucharist and “reverence for human life where it is most vulnerable and defenseless,” as he explained in an October 2021 column.

“When politicians pontificate about abortion as a choice or even a human right, do we see beyond the rhetoric to the ugliness of what they propose: the deliberate snuffing out of innocent lives, each one of them unique, irreplaceable, and loved by God?” he asks.

People judge too much by appearances when they dismiss the humanity of other people, whether they are the unwanted unborn child or the homeless person.

“As political issues, homelessness and abortion are treated as separate things,” the archbishop has said. “But with the Catholic sacramental sense we can see that whether we are speaking of the unhoused or the unborn, the underlying issue is the same: Can we see beyond the merely material to the deeper spiritual reality?”

Has abortion has become a parallel religion? The archbishop thinks so.

At a January 2022 Mass for the Walk for Life West Coast, he said that abortion has become an inverted “blessed sacrament.” For some of its supporters, it has become “what they hold most sacred, the doctrine and practice upon which their whole belief system is built.”

This is why, he explained, “we see such visceral and violent reaction to any even minimal regulation of abortion in the law.”

Christians who back abortion rights, he said, have been “mindlessly co-opted by the new secular religion and its false blessed sacrament,” comparing them to the ancient Israelites who worshipped Moloch, an idol whose devotees engaged in human sacrifice.

“But there is only one Blessed Sacrament; to live as if there were two brings desecration of what is sacred on both fronts: the Bread of Life on the altar and human life in the womb.”

Cordileone and Pelosi have clashed on pro-abortion rights legislation

In September 2021 he had warned that proposed pro-abortion rights federal legislation called the Women’s Health Protection Act was “nothing short of child sacrifice.”

The bill aims to override prohibitions on “pre-viability” abortions and would also allow for late-term abortions without “meaningful” limits, the U.S. bishops’ conference has warned, calling it “the most radical abortion bill of all time.”

“A child is not an object to be thrown away, and neither is a mother’s heart,” Cordileone said. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the answer to a woman in a crisis pregnancy is not violence but love. This is America.  We can do better.”

Pelosi sought to bring the bill up for a vote.

She was dismissive of her archbishop’s comments, saying, “it’s none of our business how other people choose the size and timing of their families.”

“The archbishop of the city of that area, of San Francisco, and I had a disagreement about who should decide this (family size and timing). I believe that God has given us a free will to honor our responsibilities,” she said Sept. 23 in response to a question from Erik Rosales, Capitol Hill correspondent for EWTN News Nightly.

The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 218 to 211, largely along party lines. The same act faced a recent procedural vote in the U.S. Senate, where it failed to advance.

It is clear some influential Catholics don’t like Cordileone

Before he was named Archbishop of San Francisco, a longtime center for LGBT politics, Cordileone had served as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ point man on efforts to preserve legal marriage as a union of one man and one woman. In 2008, California voters had passed Prop. 8, which legally defined marriage as only a union of one man and one woman, though the U.S. Supreme Court later mandated that all states recognize same-sex unions as marriages.

In early 2015 he announced changes to archdiocesan high school teachers’ handbooks intended to clarify Catholic religious and moral teachings on several controversial topics, including religious teaching, sexual morality, and the ethics of assisted reproductive technologies. also proposed a clause to Catholic high schools’ teacher contracts outlining a ministerial understanding of their role – a proposal he later withdrew.

Some high school students, teachers, and parents publicly protested the archbishop’s proposals.

In 2015 a group of prominent Catholics paid for a full-page newspaper advertisement asking Pope Francis to remove Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, claiming that he had fostered “division and intolerance.” The archdiocese responded that the ad does not represent San Francisco Catholics and misrepresents the facts.

Among the signers was Clint Reilly, a businessman and former political consultant who is a past president of Catholic Charities CYO's board of directors and has been a major donor to Catholic Charities.

Another signer, Brian Cahill, is a former executive director of the local Catholic Charities affiliate. He has been an outspoken critic of Catholic teaching on homosexual relationships.

Their ad also objected to Archbishop Cordileone's selection of a pastor at Star of the Sea Parish who decided only to have altar boys and not female altar servers.

Some foes of Cordileone had hired Sam Singer of the public relations firm Singer and Associates to back their cause. On Twitter, Singer published or re-tweeted over 40 tweets highlighting the anti-Cordileone ad. In one of his own social media posts he contended that “everyone is praying that the Pope will remove the San Francisco Archbishop.”

Singer told the National Catholic Reporter he had been hired by alumni, parents, and their supporters involved in a dispute over Star of the Sea Catholic School, a K-8 institution connected to the parish of the same name. Cordileone had allowed the priests of the parish and school to set their own policy on various topics, including limiting altar servers to boys.

The campaign against the archbishop intimidated some Catholics who supported him.

Some did speak out, like Eva Muntean, an organizer of the group SFCatholics.org.

“It's truly astonishing that a group of self-proclaimed 'prominent Catholics' has become so self-absorbed that they believe they can demand that the Holy Father remove an Archbishop because he refuses to sacrifice teaching Catholic values to children in our Catholic schools,” she said at the time.

What have popes and the Vatican said about Catholic politicians, abortion, and Holy Communion?

Nancy Pelosi. / Brian Birzer via Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain).

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 20, 2022 / 13:10 pm (CNA).

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has instructed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not to be admitted to Holy Communion, should she present herself. In letters to priests and laypeople issued on May 20 explaining his decision, he cited papal teaching. 

Here’s what popes and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have said about Catholic politicians, abortion, and Holy Communion.

John Paul II

In his 1995 encyclical Evangelium vitae, Pope John Paul II wrote: “In a democratic system, where laws and decisions are made on the basis of the consensus of many, the sense of personal responsibility in the consciences of individuals invested with authority may be weakened. But no one can ever renounce this responsibility, especially when he or she has a legislative or decision-making mandate, which calls that person to answer to God, to his or her own conscience, and to the whole of society for choices which may be contrary to the common good.” 

“Although laws are not the only means of protecting human life, nevertheless they do play a very important and sometimes decisive role in influencing patterns of thought and behavior. I repeat once more that a law which violates an innocent person’s natural right to life is unjust and, as such, is not valid as a law.” 

“For this reason, I urgently appeal once more to all political leaders not to pass laws which, by disregarding the dignity of the person, undermine the very fabric of society.”

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

In its 2002 Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life, signed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and approved by John Paul II, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith recalled “some principles proper to the Christian conscience, which inspire the social and political involvement of Catholics in democratic societies.”

It said that when legislative proposals are put forward which “attack the very inviolability of human life,” Catholics have “the duty to recall society to a deeper understanding of human life and to the responsibility of everyone in this regard.”

The note referred to John Paul II's reiteration in Evangelium vitae of the Church's constant teaching that legislators have a grave and clear obligation to oppose laws attacking human life, and added: “For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them.”

The congregation went on to say that “When political activity comes up against moral principles that do not admit of exception, compromise or derogation, the Catholic commitment becomes more evident and laden with responsibility. In the face of fundamental and inalienable ethical demands, Christians must recognize that what is at stake is the essence of the moral law, which concerns the integral good of the human person. This is the case with laws concerning abortion and euthanasia … Such laws must defend the basic right to life from conception to natural death.”

Benedict XVI

Before he was elected pope in 2005, taking the name Benedict XVI, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote a letter to the U.S. bishops.

In the 2004 letter, the then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that “when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.”  

“When ‘these precautionary measures have not had their effect …,’ and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, ‘the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it.’”

Benedict XVI was asked during a flight to Brazil in 2007 whether he agreed with the excommunication of deputies in Mexico City for supporting abortion.

He replied: “Excommunication is not something arbitrary but a measure prescribed by the Code [of Canon Law]. Thus, it simply states in canon law that the killing of an innocent child is incompatible with going to Communion, where one receives the Body of Christ.” 


“Consequently, nothing new, surprising or arbitrary, has been invented. Only what is prescribed by Church law has been recalled publicly, a law that is based on the doctrine and faith of the Church, on our appreciation of life and of the human individual from the very first instant.”

Pope Francis

Months after his election in 2013, Pope Francis said: “In a frail human being, each one of us is invited to recognize the face of the Lord, who in his human flesh experienced the indifference and solitude to which we so often condemn the poorest of the poor, whether in developing countries or in wealthy societies.”  

“Every child who, rather than being born, is condemned unjustly to being aborted, bears the face of Jesus Christ, bears the face of the Lord, who even before he was born, and then just after birth, experienced the world’s rejection.”

In his 2015 encyclical Laudato si’, he wrote: “When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities — to offer just a few examples — it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected.”  

“Once the human being declares independence from reality and behaves with absolute dominion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble, for ‘instead of carrying out his role as a cooperator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature.’”

Speaking to reporters on a flight from Slovakia in 2021, Pope Francis said that “abortion is murder,” while urging priests to be pastoral rather than political when faced with the question of who can receive Communion.

“What should the pastor do?” he asked. “Be a shepherd, do not go around condemning, not condemning, but be a pastor. But is he also a pastor of the excommunicated? Yes, he is the pastor and he has to shepherd them, and he must be a shepherd with God’s style. And God’s style is closeness, compassion, and tenderness. The whole Bible says that. Closeness. Already in Deuteronomy, He says to Israel: What people have gods as close as you have me? Closeness. Compassion: the Lord has compassion on us. We read Ezekiel, we read Hosea, right from the beginning. And tenderness — just look at the Gospel and the works of Jesus.”

“A pastor who does not know how to manage with God’s style slips and he adds many things which are not pastoral. For me, I do not want to particularize [...] the United States because I do not know the details well, I give the principle.”

“You can tell me: but if you are close, and tender, and compassionate with a person, you have to give Communion — but that’s a hypothetical. Be a pastor and the pastor knows what he has to do at all times, but as a shepherd. But if he stops this shepherding of the Church, immediately he becomes a politician. And you will see this in all the denunciations, in all the non-pastoral condemnations that the Church makes.” 

“With this principle, I believe a pastor can act well. The principles are from theology, the pastoral care is theology and the Holy Spirit, who leads you to do it with the style of God.”

Archbishop Cordileone tells priests that Nancy Pelosi Communion denial is ‘pastoral, not political’

"Those who live among us without a permanent home, then, provide us a powerful reminder that we are people on pilgrimage, that this is not our true home," said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone during a homily in a Requiem Mass for the homeless on November 6, 2021. / Dennis Callahan

Denver Newsroom, May 20, 2022 / 13:04 pm (CNA).

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone took extra pains Friday to explain to priests of the Archdiocese of San Francisco his decision barring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from receiving Communion because of her advocacy of abortion.

In a May 20 letter addressed priests of the archdiocese, Cordileone explained that his instruction is nothing but the application of the Church’s teaching. The archbishop addressed a separate letter to the laity.

“There are those who speak of such actions as I am taking as ‘weaponizing’ the Eucharist.  However, this is simply application of Church teaching.  One would have to demonstrate that a person’s actions in following Church teaching is explicitly for a political purpose in order to justify the accusation of ‘weaponizing’ the Eucharist,” the archbishop wrote. “I have been very clear all along, in both my words and my actions, that my motive is pastoral, not political.”

He added “that one can also violate Church teaching and take Holy Communion for a political purpose as well, thus ‘weaponizing’ the Eucharist for one’s own ulterior motives.”

Cordileone had notified Pelosi, the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and a resident of the archdiocese, May 19 that because of her obstinate support for legal abortion she is not to present herself for Communion, and that should she do so, she is not to be admitted.

Cordileone’s instruction applies only within the San Francisco archdiocese.

The archbishop explained to his priests that since September 2021, he has made several attempts to have a dialogue with Pelosi about her support for legal abortion. His efforts, he said, were met either with no response or “that the Speaker was unavailable due to her schedule.”

“In consequence of all this and all that has led up to it, it is my determined judgment that this resistance to pastoral counsel has gone on for too long, and there is nothing more that can be done at this point to help the Speaker understand the seriousness of the evil her advocacy for abortion is perpetrating and the scandal she is causing. I therefore issued her the aforementioned Notification that she is not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

His notification added that she may be admitted to Communion after having publicly repudiated her advocacy for the legitimacy of abortion and having received absolution.

Cordileone pointed out that the law he is applying in this situation, Canon 915, is found in the book of canon law that deals with the Church’s sanctifying office, rather than in “Book VI, which is the Church’s legislation on penal law.”

“Thus, this is not a sanction, or a penalty, but rather a declaration of fact: the Speaker is ‘obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin’ (canon 915). A sanction, on the other hand, such as excommunication, has its own particular process and reasons for being applied. This is quite distinct from the application of canon 915,” he explained.

The archbishop went on to note that the promulgation of Pope Francis’ recent revision of penal law described “three pastoral motives that have also guided my discernment here: responding to the demands of justice, moving the offending party to conversion, and repairing the scandal caused.”

He observed that “Pope Francis’ purpose in issuing this revision of the Church’s canonical legislation on penal sanctions is clearly motivated in large part by the commitment to insuring the integrity of the Church’s sacramental life.”

“It is for this reason,” he added, “that there is now a canon which punishes by suspension, to which other penalties can be added, one who ‘administers a sacrament to those who are prohibited from receiving it.’”

Cordileone added that his decision had not been made lightly, but is “the fruit of years of prayer, fasting and consultation with a broad spectrum of Church leaders whom I respect for their intelligence, wisdom and pastoral sensitivity, and it continues my efforts to invite the Speaker down the path of conversion.”

With regard to the sanctity of life the Church is in a spiritual battle, he maintained: “It is not poetic rhetoric to call the proliferation of abortion demonic.”

Because of this, he asked of his priests three things: to preach about the topic; to promote living the consecration of the archdiocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and to pray the St. Michael prayer after Mass.

“This is no time to be intimidated into silence,” he urged. “Do not dodge addressing the grave evil of abortion, but do so, obviously, with great pastoral sensitivity, recognizing that many of your people in the pews listening to you have been personally affected by this terrible scourge.”

Cordileone added that the archdiocese is “fully committed to assisting women who find themselves in crisis pregnancies, both during the pregnancy and for years after the birth of the child.”

“Ask your parishioners to help in our efforts as a Catholic people to be truly pro-life: both pro-child and pro-woman,” he exhorted the priests.

The archbishop recommended the following ways to live out the consecration to the Immaculate Heart: pray the rosary daily; fast on Fridays and perform other acts of penance; go to confession more frequently; and regularly adore the Blessed Sacrament.

“In closing, allow me to observe that what we are facing in this particular moment of history is a powerful reminder to us that the Priesthood is not for the faint-hearted. Of course, it never was.  But for a long time, up until recently, we lived in a society that allowed us to imagine that it was.  Let us not fool ourselves any longer,” he said.

“And know how deeply grateful I am to you,” he concluded, “for being with your people, shepherding them, challenging them, and leading them to the green pastures that are deeper life in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Vatican foreign minister meets Ukrainian counterpart in Kyiv

Archbishop Paul Gallagher meets with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Kyiv on May 20. / null

Rome Newsroom, May 20, 2022 / 11:32 am (CNA).

The Vatican Secretary for Relations with States met with the Ukrainian foreign minister in Kyiv on Friday, offering the Holy See’s aid in enabling a negotiation process to end the Russia-Ukraine war.

Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s equivalent of a foreign minister, said that his meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on May 20 focused on “pondering the restoration of peace.”

“The Holy See reaffirms, as it has always done, its willingness to aid a genuine negotiating process, seeing it as the just route to a fair and permanent resolution,” Gallagher said at a press conference following the meeting in the Ukrainian capital.

Gallagher arrived in Ukraine on May 18 for a visit that included stops in Bucha, Vorzel, and Irpin, settlements near Kyiv that suffered devastation under occupation by Russian troops.

In Bucha, the 68-year-old archbishop prayed at the site of a former mass grave and was shown photographs of the exhumation, remarking afterward: “This is truly a horror.”

“We are witnesses of this, of the sufferings and martyrdom of this country,” he told Vatican News, the Holy See’s online news portal.

In the press conference, the English archbishop said that his meeting with Kuleba and his visit to the three “most martyred cities” enabled him to “touch the wounds of the Ukrainian people and hear their passionate plea for peace.”

“My visit is intended to demonstrate the closeness of the Holy See and Pope Francis to the Ukrainian people, particularly in light of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” Gallagher said.

“And I assure you that both the Holy Father and his closest collaborators, including myself, suffer greatly from the many deaths, violence of all sorts, the devastation of cities and infrastructure, the separation of so many families, and the millions of displaced people and refugees.”

Gallagher is the third papal envoy to travel to Ukraine at Pope Francis’ request. Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, brought an ambulance blessed and donated by the pope to Lviv, western Ukraine, in March. Cardinal Michael Czerny, the prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, made multiple visits to meet with refugees on the Ukrainian border.

According to Gallagher, his trip had been planned for some time to mark the 30th anniversary of the Holy See’s diplomatic ties with Ukraine. The archbishop’s first scheduled visit was postponed when he tested positive for COVID-19 last month.

In an interview with Vatican News published on May 20, Gallagher was asked how to achieve peace in Ukraine after it has seen so much suffering.

“Ukrainians will find peace among themselves, but the wounds are deep and it will take much, much longer to find peace with Russia, with the people who have been involved in this terrible conflict, in this war,” he replied.

“The wounds are deep: it is difficult to talk now about peace, about reconciliation, because in people’s hearts the suffering, the wounds are so deep that you have to give time. You have to give time, you have to let people talk, express even so many negative feelings towards others.”

“So you have to pray a lot, that the Lord, who is really the only salvation, will give us the grace to heal these wounds and that people can move on.”

Witness thrown out of courtroom as Cardinal Becciu cross-examination continues

A hearing in the Vatican finance trial on May 20, 2022. / Vatican Media.

Vatican City, May 20, 2022 / 11:00 am (CNA).

Cardinal Angelo Becciu refused to answer any questions not related to his charges during a continuation of his cross-examination in the Vatican finance trial on Thursday.

The 73-year-old Italian cardinal said on May 19 that he would not respond to questions about the Italian bishops’ conference because it is unconnected to his charges of embezzlement, abuse of office, and witness tampering.

Except for witness tampering, the accusations against Becciu date back to before he was elevated to the College of Cardinals, when he was the Sostituto, or second-ranking official, in the Secretariat of State.

During Thursday’s hearing, Becciu complained of being humiliated by certain lines of questioning the day prior, accusing the prosecuting attorney of asking questions that “injured my priestly dignity.”

Judges ruled on May 19 that accusations connected to the Italian bishops’ conference were not part of the trial, but the prosecuting attorney was nevertheless allowed to ask questions about it.

During the cross-examination, the cardinal again pointed to his faith in what he was told about investments by former Secretariat of State officials Monsignor Alberto Perlasca and Fabrizio Tirabassi.

A judge asked Becciu in what way then he exercised his powers as Sostituto, to which he responded: “If I had realized there was something wrong, or had insights to go another way, or better to invest elsewhere, I could have told them differently, I had not had opportunities and they never offered me opportunities to go against their proposals.”

While Becciu was speaking about his lack of suspicion of Perlasca at the time of the investment in the London building at the heart of the trial, the former head of his administrative office entered the courtroom from a side door.

Prosecutor Alessandro Diddi immediately pointed out that Perlasca’s presence could be a problem, given that he is a witness in the trial. Perlasca is also seeking damages as a victim in the trial over Becciu’s witness tampering charge.

Perlasca was asked to leave the room by court president Giuseppe Pignatone.

Thursday’s hearing also included the filing of a written defense on the part of another defendant, Cecilia Marogna, a self-described “security consultant” who has been accused of misappropriating 575,000 euros (around $607,000) of Vatican funds she spent on luxury goods.

In the 23-page statement, which judges told Marogna’s defense lawyers could not be read in court, the 40-year-old Sardinian woman provided her own account of her dealings with the Vatican, including claims that she was a go-between for a request for relics of St. Nicholas of Bari from emissaries of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Marogna also recounted in detail her dealings with Italian intelligence agents and secret service chiefs in Colombia, Burkina Faso, and Mali.

Explaining her role in the operations to free Sister Gloria Cecilia Narváez Argoti, a missionary abducted in Mali, Marogna said Becciu’s claim that Pope Francis green-lighted spending a million euros to free the nun “does not correspond to the truth.”

She said that in addition to the 575,000 euros paid to her, the Secretariat of State also paid the Inkerman Group, a British intelligence firm, approximately 589,000 euros, for a total of 1.16 million euros (around $1.2 million) — not for Sister Gloria’s ransom, but for “management of the case.”

There is no independent corroboration of Marogna’s claims since, according to the defendant herself, “no contract was signed between the companies and the Secretariat of State.”

Marogna said that “there was never a requirement for accountability and an obligation to manage the funds received by the companies on the part of the sender who, like other institutional structures, simply hired corporate entities to carry out certain operational activities of its interest.”

According to Marogna, these activities “should have remained discreet and shielded even within the Secretariat of State’s own administrative management, according to specific orders given by Pope Francis.”

Becciu confirmed in his cross-examination on Thursday that Marogna was brought in to work with the Secretariat of State after she introduced herself to him via email.

The three days of back-to-back hearings concluded on May 20 with the first part of the interrogation of Fabrizio Tirabassi.

Tirabassi was a senior lay official working in the Secretariat of State’s general affairs section from 1987 until his suspension in 2019. From the 1990s on, Tirabassi oversaw the Secretariat’s financial affairs, including investments and movements of the Vatican’s accounts in Swiss banks.

During a cross-examination on Friday, Tirabassi explained the circumstances around the Secretariat of State’s consideration of a proposal in 2012 and 2013 to invest in oil in Angola, and why the idea was eventually abandoned — including that the investment would have been made at the same time that Pope Francis was writing his 2015 environmental encyclical Laudato si’.

The former official underlined that the Secretariat of State had, until a few years ago, its own budget completely separate from the rest of the Roman Curia and not under the supervision of the Secretariat for the Economy.

Tirabassi also provided an explanation for how the Secretariat came to work with Italian businessman Raffaele Mincione, Tirabassi’s co-defendant, who was a top client of the Swiss bank Credit Suisse, also involved in the Angola oil proposal.

The ex-Secretariat official said that the Vatican did due diligence on Mincione before purchasing from him the building at 60 Sloane Avenue in London, indicating that the Secretariat took about a year to vet the investment manager.

Tirabassi’s defense lawyers issued a brief statement after the hearing in which they praised the “excellent questioning in which our client lucidly explained the reality of the facts: there is no crime behind the Sloane Square affair and there is no rot in the Secretariat of State.”

“The only mystery in this story is why someone wanted to hold a trial in an affair that the Holy See leadership wanted to close with an agreement,” attorneys Massimo Bassi and Cataldo Intrieri said.

Pope Francis sends condolences after death of UAE’s Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed

Pope Francis became the first pope to visit the Arabian peninsula when he landed in Abu Dhabi on Feb 4, 2019. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, May 20, 2022 / 08:40 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has sent condolences following the death of the United Arab Emirates’ president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“I offer Your Highness my heartfelt recognition and the assurance of my prayers for his eternal rest. I likewise join the people of the Emirates in mourning his passing and paying tribute to his distinguished and far-sighted leadership in the service of the nation,” Pope Francis wrote in the message sent on May 17.

“I am particularly grateful for the solicitude shown by His Highness to the Holy See and to the Catholic communities of the Emirates, and for his commitment to the values ​​of dialogue, understanding, and solidarity between peoples and religious traditions solemnly proclaimed by the historic Abu Dhabi Document and embodied in the Zayed Award for Human Fraternity.”

Sheikh Khalifa died on May 13 at the age of 73. He had been in ailing health after suffering a stroke and undergoing surgery in 2014.

The pope addressed the message to Khalifa’s successor, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who had been the de-facto ruler of the country since Khalifa’s health worsened.

He has led the country’s foreign policy, which has included deploying warplanes in Libya in 2017 and joining the Saudi-led coalition in the war in Yemen before withdrawing its forces in 2020.

Sheikh Mohammed, the Abu Dhabi crown prince often also referred to as MBZ, officially became the president of the UAE on May 14.

Pope Francis is welcomed to the United Arab Emirates by Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, at the presidential palace, Feb. 4, 2019. .  Vatican Media.
Pope Francis is welcomed to the United Arab Emirates by Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, at the presidential palace, Feb. 4, 2019. . Vatican Media.

In the message, Pope Francis offered his prayers for Sheikh Mohammed in his new official role as ruler.

Pope Francis wrote: “In commending His Highness prayers to the eternal mercies of the Most High God, I assure you also of my prayers as you enter upon the responsibilities of your lofty office.”

“Upon you, the members of your Family, and upon all the beloved people of the United Arab Emirates, I cordially invoke an abundance of divine blessings.”

The Vatican has maintained close ties with the UAE since the pope’s trip to Abu Dhabi in 2019.

Cardinals and Roman Curia officials, including Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, and Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, have made trips to the peninsula in the past year as the Vatican and the UAE collaborated on several events and initiatives, including the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity.

Vatican officials traveled to the UAE last July to honor Sheikh Mohammed with the “Man of Humanity” award from the Vatican Congregation for Education at a ceremony held in the Emirates Palace.

This week, a press conference at the Vatican was canceled in light of the president’s death. The press conference, scheduled for May 17, was due to present the “Interfaith Meeting in Abu Dhabi on Religion, Ethics and Artificial Intelligence.”

The UAE has announced a 40-day mourning period following Sheikh Khalifa’s death.

“May his legacy continue to inspire the efforts of men and women of good will everywhere to persevere in weaving bonds of unity and peace between the members of our one human family,” Pope Francis said.

Vatican hosts synod listening session with disabled Catholics

People from more than 20 countries take part in a video call hosted by the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life on May 19, 2022. / Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life Flickr photostream.

Vatican City, May 20, 2022 / 05:15 am (CNA).

The Vatican hosted a virtual listening session with Catholics with disabilities on Thursday as part of the Synod on Synodality process.

People from more than 20 countries participated in the video call hosted by the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life on May 19, with some expressing concerns about experiences of discrimination and exclusion.

A participant from France with Down syndrome shared on the call: “At birth, I could have been aborted. I am happy to live.”

“I love everyone and I thank God for creating me,” she added, according to the dicastery.

Other participants from Mexico, Liberia, Ukraine, and other countries also took part in the discussion of some of the synod’s preparatory questions, including: “How are we walking with Jesus and our brothers and sisters to proclaim Him? For the future, what is the Spirit asking our Church to grow in our journey with Jesus and with our brothers and sisters to proclaim Him?”

Accommodations were made so that people with sensory, physical, or cognitive disabilities could express themselves in their own languages, including sign language.

Father Alexandre Awi Mello, the secretary of the dicastery, said that one of the challenges posed by the global synodal process is to “overcome any prejudice of those who believe that those who have difficulties in expressing themselves do not have a thought of their own, nor anything interesting to communicate.”

Participants in a video call hosted by the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life on May 19, 2022. Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life Flickr photostream.
Participants in a video call hosted by the Vatican Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life on May 19, 2022. Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life Flickr photostream.

According to the Vatican dicastery, the 30 participants in the video call were invited to offer further contributions to a document in the coming months that will be delivered to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops as part of the synodal process.

Cardinal Mario Grech, the secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, spoke to the participants at the beginning of the call.

“I’m in debt to people with disabilities. One of them led me on the path of a priestly vocation,” Grech said.

“If the face of the disabled brother or sister is discarded, it is the Church that becomes disabled,” he said.

Oklahoma Catholic high school sued for $75M over alleged sex abuse 

Photo illustration. / Shutterstock

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 19, 2022 / 19:28 pm (CNA).

Ten current and former students, along with six parents or guardians, are suing a Catholic high school in Oklahoma — a school that they allege “fostered and allowed a rape culture” and “tolerated sexual harrassment and assault” by male students, teachers, and coaches for more than 10 years, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit, filed May 16 in Oklahoma County District Court, lists Mount St. Mary Catholic High School in Oklahoma City as a defendant. It also lists those who have authority over the school: the board of trustees, the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, and the Sisters of Mercy.

The suit accuses three school leaders, who have since resigned, of playing a central role in the “commission of the assault and harassment” and covering it up: former principal Talita DeNegri, assistant principal Wendy Faires, and guidance counselor Mallory Tecmire.

“Despite being on actual and constructive notice of hundreds of incidents of sexual assault and harrassment … MSM [Mount St. Mary’s] did not take reasonable steps to report or stop the rampant rape culture and ongoing sexual abuse that lay just beneath the surface,” the lawsuit reads. “Rather, MSM shamed women and girls who reported, including the Student Plaintiffs and other victims, and allowed men and boys to continue harassing and assaulting women and girls, including the Student Plaintiffs.”

The lawsuit alleges a breach of contract, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, discrimination on the basis of sex and hostile educational environment harassment, public nuisance, and slander. Plaintiffs are seeking more than $75 million in damages.

One male student who attended the high school from 2017 to 2022 — identified as “X.R.” — is accused in the complaint of raping or assaulting numerous women, including three of the plaintiffs. One woman accused him of groping and kissing her while she was driving, the complaint states, while another said he assaulted her in a dark classroom.

Mount St. Mary leaders learned of these incidents, the lawsuit alleges, but did nothing about X.R. until news media reported on sexual abuse allegations at the school. X.R. has been or will be criminally charged, the lawsuit claims.

In response to the lawsuit, Mount St. Mary’s shared a statement with CNA from the school’s incoming principal, Laura Cain. 

“I have been made aware of the lawsuit but am unable to comment on pending legal situations,” Cain, who will serve as principal beginning on July 1, said. “What I can speak to is the confidence I have in the direction of Mount St. Mary Catholic High School. As an alumna and former parent, I know the pain our school's community has faced over the last six months. We must ensure that we maintain a compassionate environment where students can grow and excel. Our future provides an opportunity to not only educate, but to improve.”

In a statement, the Sisters of Mercy responded that they “have not received a complaint at this time and so we cannot comment on the lawsuit.”

The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City did not respond with comment by time of publication.

When the archdiocese learned of the allegations last year, the staff contacted police, said Page Hauser, the archdiocese’s safe environment coordinator, the Associated Press reported. 

“They also worked with the governing board at the school to hire an independent investigator to look into the allegations, resulting in the resignation of three staff members,” Hauser said in a statement Wednesday.

'Br. Martin,' self-described monk with large Twitter following, says he won't heed bishop's warning

Martin Navarro, a layman and founder of the group the Oblates of St. Augustine, is refusing to obey his bishop's demands that he no longer fundraise, identify himself as "brother," dress in a habit, and construct a chapel in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. / Screenshot from YouTube video

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 19, 2022 / 18:40 pm (CNA).

A social media-savvy layman, who uses the title “Brother” and wears a habit, will not obey his bishop’s orders to cease presenting himself as a religious brother or member of a religious community. 

Nor will Martin Navarro  — whose “Br. Martin” Twitter account has more than 11,000 followers — acquiesce to Bishop James Johnston’s demands to stop fundraising in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and cease building an unauthorized chapel. 

“We're following the rules, we're following the guidelines, as well as being honest as who we are and what our intentions are,” Navarro said in a YouTube video posted May 17.

As to his practice of wearing a habit, he said, “it’s a free country, so to speak; you can wear whatever you want.”

Navarro, 31, has asked Johnston to formally recognize a Traditional Latin Mass religious group Navarro started called the Oblates of St. Augustine. 

Johnston denied the request. He also ordered the group to cease operating in the diocese.

The bishop issued the demands in a letter dated May 6 addressed to Navarro. Navarro made the letter public in the same YouTube video from May 17.

“I have not given nor will give approval or permission to explore, found, or establish the community about which you have previously inquired,” Johnston stated in the letter.

“I further direct that you do not use the religious title of ‘Brother Martin’ at any time nor dress in a religious habit, since in justice and truth, your canonical status is not one of membership within a religious community, such continued usage is both disingenuous and dishonest,” he added.

Bishop James Johnston of Kansas City-St. Joseph. CNA
Bishop James Johnston of Kansas City-St. Joseph. CNA

Johnston reiterated his demands “in order to emphasize the seriousness of my warning and prohibitions” at the end of the letter.

“I reiterate what I have made eminently clear above: do not call yourself ‘Brother,’ do not continue to present yourself within the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph in any manner or means, including by wearing a religious habit, as a Brother or as a member of a religious community, do not ask for any funds or alms within the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph whether in person or on the Internet or other social media formats, and do not utilize an unapproved chapel within the Diocese of Kansas City St. Joseph,” he stated.

“Your request of me regarding your proposed formation of Oblates of Saint Augustine is, therefore, denied.”

Church law at issue

Navarro told CNA on May 18 that he will not comply with Johnston's orders.

The Oblates of St. Augustine community he leads is based in Weston, Missouri, a small town about a 40-minute drive north of Kansas City. It’s unclear how many men are in the group. Speaking to CNA, Navarro would only say that since founding the Oblates in 2020, “I’ve never been alone.”

The Oblates’ website describes the group as a “community of Traditional Roman Catholic men, faithful to the Traditional Roman Rite, the Holy Rule of St. Augustine, and the traditional formulations of the Catholic religion.” The group says it is devoted to the Traditional Latin Mass and breviary.

Navarro said the group is currently living on property leased to them by Mike Parrott, the host of a YouTube channel called Restoring the Faith Media. The group’s chapel in a converted garage already is under construction on the property, and nearing completion. Navarro told CNA the group has raised more than $161,000 for the monastery project. A separate funding drive accepts donations for the group members' living expenses.

Navarro’s “Br. Martin” Twitter account often tweets comments concerning an ongoing dispute between Parrott and the Church Militant media outlet which began over Parrott’s fundraising efforts on behalf of Father James Jackson, a priest of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter who is facing federal child pornography charges in Rhode Island.

In his letter, Johnston cited several canons, as well as Pope Francis’ 2020 motu proprio Authenticum charismatis, to support his authority over the group’s activities in his diocese.

Johnston warned that “failure to observe these provisions … could result in further disciplinary actions. Accordingly, this letter itself stands as due canonical warning of the same.”

Navarro, for his part, says Johnston is misinterpreting church law, and using it “to intimidate us from praying.”

Asked to respond to Navarro’s intention to defy Johnston, Ashlie Hand, communications director for the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese, issued a statement to CNA Thursday night.

“Bishop Johnston has communicated appropriate guidance and next steps with Mr. Navarro regarding his request to establish the Oblates of St. Augustine in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph," Hand said. "Bishop Johnston intends any further communication to be private."

Final Australian state allows euthanasia and assisted suicide, rejecting religious exemptions

Credit: Photographee.eu / Shutterstock. / null

Denver Newsroom, May 19, 2022 / 16:58 pm (CNA).

New South Wales has become the sixth and final Australian state to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide. Its legislation forces health care and elder care organizations with religious objections to allow the practice on their premises.

“If a civilization is to be judged by how it treats its weakest members, the New South Wales parliament has failed miserably, and has set a dark and dangerous path for all posterity, determining a new and disturbing definition of what it means to be human.” Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney said May 19.

“Despite our disappointment, our fight for life does not end with this vote,” he added. He then invoked a phrase of Pope Francis: “We must redouble our efforts to care for those who are victims of the ‘throwaway culture’ and instead rebuild a culture of life and love in this state.”

The Upper House of the New South Wales Parliament voted to approve the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021 by a vote of 23 to 15 on Thursday. It will take effect in about 18 months, according to The Catholic Weekly, a publication of the Archdiocese of Sydney.

The bill allows euthanasia or assisted suicide to Australian citizens who are at least 18 years old. They must have a terminal illness and be expected to die within six months. Those expected to die in twelve months may seek euthanasia or assisted suicide if they have a neurodegenerative condition and experience unbearable suffering. Their application for euthanasia or assisted suicide must be assessed by two medical practitioners and they must be found to be making their decision voluntarily, without duress, the U.K. newspaper The Guardian reports.

“The disturbing nature of this legislation is compounded by the way the debate over amendments was conducted,” said Archbishop Fisher. “All amendments put forward by those who would seek to make this deadly regime even a little bit safer were rejected.”

“That no meaningful amendments were accepted speaks to a ‘winner takes all’ approach by the proponents of this bill and reveals an ugliness that has invaded our politics. This does not bode well for the protection of our most vulnerable citizens.”

Objecting religious health care providers had sought the ability to ban euthanasia and assisted suicide from their premises, but the relevant amendments were rejected.

“Catholic health and aged care providers in New South Wales have served their communities with compassion and professionalism for more than a century and will continue to offer high-quality hospital and end of life care despite this poorly designed law,” Brigid Meney, director of strategy and mission at Catholic Health Australia, said May 19.

“However Catholic health and aged care providers are disappointed and saddened by the passing of a law that violates their ethic of care,” she continued. 

“This law will force organizations that do not agree with assisted suicide to allow doctors onto their premises to prescribe and even administer restricted drugs with the intention of terminating a resident’s life – without even informing the facility,” Meney continued. “These laws ignore the rights of staff and residents who may choose to work and live in a particular residential facility because of their opposition to assisted suicide.”

Catholic Health Care Australia, the Anglican health care provider Anglicare, and the Christian aged care provider HammondCare had all strongly campaigned for their faith-based elder care facilities to be exempted from the law, citing freedom of conscience. Conscience protections, however, were defeated in the Upper House by a vote of 23-13.

Greg Donnelly, a Labor Member of the Legislative Council, was among other pro-life lawmakers who had sought to limit the New South Wales legislation through amendments, including conscience protections.

He said it was “utterly repugnant and draconian” to force facilities with moral objections to assisted suicide or euthanasia to allow the practices. Such provisions are “essentially an authoritarian imposition on what are, in our civil society, associations of people coming together for a purpose.”

Other defeated amendments sought to clarify whether a person seeking euthanasia or assisted suicide has decision-making capacity or is “significantly impacted by a mental health impairment.” Failed amendments aimed to provide palliative care or to bar healthcare workers or third parties from initiating discussions about euthanasia or assisted suicide.

Alex Greenwich, an independent MP who had introduced the bill, praised its passage and said “compassion has won.” He called for euthanasia and assisted suicide advocates to focus on the federal parliament to pass laws that would allow Australia’s territories to legislate for euthanasia and assisted suicide, Australia’s ABC News reports.

Australia has six states and ten territories, though the lawmaking abilities of the latter are dependent upon the federal parliament.

Liberal Prime Minister Scott Morrison rejected any move to allow euthanasia and assisted suicide legalization in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, by far the two most populated Australian territories, though the Labor party has pledged to make debate on the issue a priority if it wins control of the federal government in the elections set for Saturday.

Bishop Anthony Randazzo of Broken Bay lamented the legalization of euthanasia and assisted suicide in New South Wales, calling it “a completely unacceptable solution to the problem of suffering.”

“A genuinely human society is not how we decide to eliminate those who suffer, but how we care for them,” he said. “We should be considering and caring for the rights of all citizens to be well, to have the care they need, and not lost to the margins.”

“Now more than ever we must ensure members of our family, friends, those who are alone, the vulnerable in our community know and understand that they are loved, that we will be with them in their journey, and that they are not a burden,” said Randazzo.

Archbishop Fisher thanked members of parliament who opposed the bill, “often in the face of disdain and disparagement from their parliamentary colleagues, from pro-euthanasia lobby groups and from the media.”

When the New South Wales bill was introduced in late 2021, Fisher vocally criticized it and asked Catholics to speak out. He warned of the prevalence of elder abuse and the “alarming rates of suicide among the vulnerable.”

“As someone who has experienced the pain and humiliation of serious illness, I need you to speak up for life,” he had said. He recounted his severe case of Guillain-Barré syndrome, which paralyzed him from the neck down and put him in terrible pain and total dependency on others for five months.

Catholic bishops in Australia have repeatedly written in support of palliative care as an alternative to assisted suicide and euthanasia.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s September 2020 letter Samaritanus bonus reaffirmed the Church’s perennial teaching on the sinfulness of euthanasia and assisted suicide. The congregation recalled the obligation of Catholics to accompany the sick and dying through prayer, physical presence, and the sacraments.

In February 2021, an Australian university found that the country has less than half the number of palliative care physicians needed to care for terminally-ill patients.