Pope Francis has re-founded an institute on marriage and the family set up by St John Paul II, renaming it and giving it a new mission.
The Pope announced the creation of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences in a motu proprio.
The change was described as an “earthquake” by Vatican commentator Sandro Magister, while Thomas Jansen, editor-in-chief of the German bishops’ conference website, said the former institute had been a “stronghold of resistance against Francis’s agenda of mercy”, and that the Pope had “dissolved it and replaced it with a new one”.
But Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, chancellor of the institute, said its staff and current projects would be maintained and that the Pope “felt the responsibility to double it, not to put it underground”. He told the American site Crux that Francis was “making an even bigger bet [on the institute] than John Paul II”.
In his apostolic letter Summa Familiae Cura (“Great Care for the Family”), Francis said that recent synods on the family had brought awareness of the “new pastoral challenges to which the Christian community is called to respond”.
Changes in culture required “a diversified and analytical approach” that could not be limited to the practices of the past, he said.
He called for more formation in a “pastoral perspective and attention to the wounds of humanity”.
He wrote: “In the clear proposal of remaining faithful to the teaching of Christ, we must, therefore, look with the intelligence of love and with wise realism at the reality of families today in all of their complexity, in their light and darkness.”
Vatican Radio reported that the institute would examine Church teaching in a context where individuals were less supported than before by traditional family structures.
Mgr Pierangelo Sequeri, president of the institute, said that the expanded courses would include one that addresses the family and economics, a critical subject when so many family problems stem from financial difficulties.
The original institute for studies on marriage and the family was established by St John Paul II in 1982, after the 1980 synod on the family called for the creation of centres devoted to the study of the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family.
SSPX group stopped from celebrating Mass at Knock
Security at Ireland’s Knock shrine turned away a Society of St Pius X (SSPX) pilgrimage group seeking to celebrate Mass on its grounds, it emerged last week.
The shrine said it was alerted to members of the SSPX setting up marquees in a car park to celebrate Mass. They were told they could not do so.
It said: “As the Society of St Pius X (SSPX) has an irregular canonical relationship with the Catholic Church, they are not allowed to celebrate Mass publicly at the shrine or on shrine grounds. They are most welcome to pray the rosary, Stations of the Cross and other prayers. It is up to the SSPX to resolve any canonical and doctrinal issues with the Holy See.”
The SSPX said that an elderly man eventually offered them the use of his driveway for the celebration of Mass. According to the blog God Does Not Die, SSPX groups had been allowed to celebrate Mass on shrine grounds for the past 10 years. But rector Fr Richard Gibbons said a group was refused permission last year, too.
The Knock shrine commemorates apparitions of Mary, St Joseph, St John the Evangelist and Jesus as the Lamb of God to local Catholics in 1879.
First US-born martyr is beatified
The first American-born martyr was beatified in Oklahoma last week.
Blessed Stanley Rother was shot dead in 1981 while serving as a missionary in Guatemala.
Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Vatican saints’ congregation, said Rother’s years in the country would “be remembered as the glorious epic of a martyr of Christ, an authentic lighted torch of hope for the Church and the world”. The Mass at the Cox Convention Center drew 20,000 people.
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