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Pope Francis’ health: A CNA timeline

Pope Francis enters the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall in a wheelchair on May 5, 2022. / Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Vatican City, May 21, 2022 / 06:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis has been speaking about his health in recent weeks, especially a problem with his knee that is forcing him to walk and stand less.

The 85-year-old Francis, who has spent most of his nine years as pope in relatively good health, has dealt with several painful medical conditions over the last few years.

His difficulties have included a stay of more than a week in a hospital after colon surgery in 2021.

Here is a CNA timeline charting Pope Francis’ recent health concerns:

December 2020

A bout of sciatic pain in the final days of 2020 kept Pope Francis from presiding at the Vatican’s liturgies on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Francis has suffered from sciatica for a number of years; He spoke about it during an in-flight press conference returning from a trip to Brazil in July 2013.

“Sciatica is very painful, very painful! I don’t wish it on anyone,” he said about the condition, which starts in the lower back and can cause pain running down the back of the thigh and leg to the foot.

January 2021

Pope Francis was also forced to cancel three more public appearances at the end of January due to sciatic nerve pain.

July 2021

A problem with his colon landed the pope in hospital on July 4, 2021.

According to the Vatican, Francis underwent surgery to relieve stricture of the colon caused by diverticulitis. The three-hour surgery included a left hemicolectomy, the removal of one side of the colon.

During his 11-day stay in Rome’s Gemelli Hospital, the pope made “normal clinical progress” in his recovery, the Vatican said.

January 2022

At meetings in January, Pope Francis shared that he was having problems with his knee.

“Excuse me if I stay seated, but I have a pain in my leg today ... It hurts me, it hurts if I’m standing,” the pope told journalists from the Jerusalem-based Christian Media Center on Jan. 17.

He explained further at a general audience the following week, saying the reason he would be unable to greet pilgrims as usual was because of a temporary “problem with my right leg,” an inflamed knee ligament.

February 2022

At the end of February, Pope Francis canceled two public events due to knee pain and doctor’s orders to rest.

In the month that followed, he received help going up and down stairs, but continued to walk and stand without assistance.

April 2022

During a trip to Malta on the first weekend of April, Pope Francis used a lift to disembark the papal plane. A special lift was also installed at the Basilica of St. Paul in Rabat, so that Francis could visit and pray in the crypt grotto without taking the stairs.

On the return flight on April 3, he told journalists that “my health is a bit fickle, I have this knee problem that brings out problems with walking.”

At the Vatican’s Good Friday service, the pope did not lay prostrate before the altar, as he has done in the past.

He also did not preside over the Easter Vigil Mass on April 16, or participate in the Paschal candle procession, but sat in the front of the congregation in a white chair.

On April 22 and April 26, Francis’ agenda was cleared for medical checkups and rest for his knee, the Vatican said. The following day, the pope told pilgrims at his general audience that his knee prevented him from standing for very long.

Pope Francis also started to remain seated in the popemobile while greeting pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square.

On April 30, he said that his doctor had ordered him not to walk.

May 2022

The pope said at the beginning of May that he would undergo a medical procedure on his knee, “an intervention with infiltrations,” by which he may have meant a therapeutic injection, sometimes used to relieve knee pain caused by ligament tears.

Two days later, he used a wheelchair in public for the first time since his July 2021 colon surgery. Throughout May he has continued to use the wheelchair and avoid most standing and walking.

Pope Francis’ general audience in St. Peter’s Square, May 18, 2022. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.
Pope Francis’ general audience in St. Peter’s Square, May 18, 2022. Daniel Ibáñez/CNA.

Francis is also undergoing over two hours of rehabilitation for his knee every day, according to an Argentine archbishop close to the pontiff.

The treatment “is giving results,” Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández wrote on Twitter on May 14, after he had a private meeting with Francis.

Other than his knee, “he’s better than ever,” Fernández added.

A few earlier, Lebanon’s tourism minister had said that a reported papal visit to the country in June was being postponed due to the pope’s health.

The pope did stand for longer periods when celebrating a May 15 Mass in St. Peter’s Square. Afterward, a seminarian from Mexico caught a moment of lightheartedness between pilgrims and the pope as he greeted them from the popemobile.

Someone thanked the pope for being present at the Mass, despite his knee pain, to which Francis responded: “Do you know what I need for my knee? A bit of tequila.”

Who is Pauline Jaricot, the Catholic Church’s next blessed?

Pauline Jaricot (1799-1862). / Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain.

Lyon, France, May 21, 2022 / 04:00 am (CNA).

In 1859, the year that he died, St. John Vianney offered a cross to Pauline Jaricot, who will become the Church’s newest blessed on Sunday.

As he did so, he said these words: “God alone as witness, Jesus Christ as model, Mary as support, and then nothing, nothing but love and sacrifice.”

That cross can be seen today at the Maison de Lorette, a recently restored building in Lyon, the city in east-central France where Jaricot will be beatified on May 22.

Jaricot was a prominent figure in 19th-century French Catholicism but is less well known outside France than Vianney, who played a significant role in her life.

She met the priest when she was a child. Her parents had a house in the country, in Tassin, near Lyon, within the parish of Dardilly, where Vianney served. He sometimes came for lunch at the Jaricot house on Sundays, until he was appointed Curé of Ars.

Jaricot was born in Lyon on July 22, 1799, in the wake of the French Revolution and six months before Napoleon Bonaparte’s coup d’état. The Lyon region was an important center of resistance against the Revolution and Jaricot was baptized by a refractory priest.

She was the last of seven children. Her mother was a silk worker — a job with a low income — but thanks to her factory-owning father, the family lived in prosperity in the center of Lyon, next to Saint-Nizier Church.

It was in that church that her life changed one day. At the age of 17, she was listening to a homily that shook her to her core. Up to that point, she had lived a Christian life tinged with vanity. But on Christmas 1816, she took a vow of perpetual virginity in a small chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary on the hill of Fourvière, a district of Lyon lying west of the old town.

In 1815, the family moved to another location in the city, near the neighborhood of La Croix-Rousse, where impoverished silk workers lived. After her conversion in 1816, Jaricot began to pray intensively and decided to dress like the silk workers, to be close to the poor and a sign of Christ’s presence among them.

She kept going to the Saint-Nizier Church (where she is buried), but also began to attend the Church of St. Polycarp in La Croix-Rousse (which today contains her heart). There, she formed a parish group with silk workers known as the Réparatrices du cœur de Jésus méconnu et méprisé.

During long hours of prayer, she had heard Jesus lamenting humanity’s ingratitude. She created the group in reparation and to console Jesus through prayer and action. The group’s spirituality centered on the Eucharist and devotion to the Cross.

One day, Jaricot heard some troubling news from friends of one of her brothers, Philéas, who was a seminarian in Paris. The Society of Foreign Missions of Paris, founded in 1663 to evangelize Asia, was in financial difficulty.

With other members of her group, she began to collect money for the Society every Friday in the streets of Lyon. From this emerged the organization known at first as the Association of the Propagation of the Faith and later as the Society of the Propagation of the Faith.

In 1922, Pius XI would add the title “Pontifical” and today it is the oldest of four Pontifical Mission Societies, an umbrella group of Catholic missionary societies under the pope’s authority.

As the initiative spread, Jaricot’s spiritual father asked her to devote herself yet more intensely to prayer. It was a difficult time for her because she wanted to be active. But in this period, she wrote the book “Infinite Love in the Divine Eucharist,” a simple but profound meditation on the Eucharist read by generations of French Catholics.

In 1825, Pope Leo XII organized a great Jubilee, asking Catholics to pray the rosary for the protection of the Church and the world from dangers such as anti-clericalism and irreligion.

In response, Jaricot founded the Association of the Living Rosary. The idea was simple: 15 members of a group would combine together to recite the full 15 decades of the rosary every day. The initiative was a great success in France and soon spread beyond it.

Several Living Rosary groups continue to thrive in Lyon. Their members sometimes meet in locations associated with Jaricot, such as the Maison de Lorette. She acquired the house on the Fourvière Hill in 1832. Together with other women, she formed a small lay community there called the Filles de Marie (“Daughters of Mary”). They followed a rigorous routine of prayer and activities such as promoting the Living Rosary and visiting the sick.

Jaricot’s health was precarious and in 1835, she set off for Mugnano, a town in southern Italy hosting the relics of St. Philomena. She was drawn there by stories of miracles obtained through the saint’s intercession.

On the feast of St. Philomena, Jaricot received Communion near the shrine containing the relics. Seated in an invalid chair, she experienced a healing later known as the “great miracle of Mugnano.” The chair can be viewed at the shrine today.

When she returned from Italy, Jaricot brought back some small relics, which she offered to St. John Vianney.

Thanks to the Society of the Propagation of the Faith and Association of the Living Rosary, Jaricot’s fame spread far and wide. She received letters from around the world from missionaries and Church figures. But her final years were marked by deep suffering and lived in the shadow of the Cross.

At the time of her conversion, Jaricot had heard Jesus ask her in prayer: “Would you like to suffer and die for me?” She wrote in a notebook that “I offered myself as a victim to the divine Majesty.”

Appalled by the condition of Lyon’s workers, she offered to buy a factory in 1845 that she hoped would serve as a model Christian enterprise. But she was swindled and the project was a great failure. She spent the rest of her life trying to pay off the debts of those she had convinced to invest alongside her.

Her reputation diminished greatly and, at the end of her life, she was included in the list of the city’s poor. She died almost alone in 1862.

After her death, a long text was discovered that is considered her spiritual testament. It contains these words: “My hope is in Jesus! My only treasure is the Cross! I will bless the Lord at all times and his praise will be continually in my mouth.”

Jaricot is best known for the organizations she founded. But her beatification on May 22 will draw attention to her deep spiritual life, marked by devotion to the Eucharist and the Cross, surrender to the divine will, and unfailing hope in God. Her relationship with God was so intense that some authors have described her as a mystic comparable to the great St. Catherine of Siena.

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Nicaraguan bishop charges police, government persecution

Protests in Granada, Nicaragua, April 29, 2018. / Riderfoot/Shutterstock.

Mexico City Newsroom, May 20, 2022 / 17:25 pm (CNA).

Bishop Rolando José Álvarez Lagos of Matagalpa has charged that the police of President Daniel Ortega’s government harassed him by following him all day and into the night, and announced he will fast indefinitely “on water and whey” until the harassment ends.

In a video message released May 19 by the Archdiocese of Managua, Bishop Álvarez said that "today I have been followed all day and into the evening hours by the Sandinista police."

The bishop said he was tailed when he went to his niece's house for dinner that evening. The police “entered my circle of family privacy, they came to my private, family, paternal, maternal home, putting the safety of my family at risk."

When he asked the police why they were following him, "they informed me they’re obeying orders.”

Later, he recalled, the policemen told him they were following him “for my safety. But we already know that the insecurity in this country is precisely (due to) the police.”

"Those who make us feel insecure by being followed are you, my brothers the police," he said.

This is not the first time that Bishop Álvarez, who has been a clear defender of human rights and freedom in Nicaragua, has been harassed by the police working for the Ortega government, which has been in power since 2007.

Father Harvin Padilla of the Diocese of Masaya also charged this week that he has been followed and harassed by police and paramilitaries connected to the Ortega government.

At the beginning of May the Nicaraguan National Assembly, controlled by Daniel Ortega's Sandinista National Liberation Front, which holds an 80% majority in the legislature, approved a report that accuses bishops and priests of participating in what Ortega considers a coup attempt in 2018.

The document accuses the Catholic Church of supporting the citizen protests that demanded in 2018 that Ortega leave power.

Ortega has been president of Nicaragua since 2007, and oversaw the abolition of presidential term limits in 2014. 

He was a leader in the Sandinista National Liberation Front, which had ousted the Somoza dictatorship in 1979 and fought US-backed right-wing counterrevolutionaries during the 1980s. Ortega was also leader of Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990.

A crisis began in Nicaragua in April 2018 after Ortega announced social security and pension reforms. The changes were soon abandoned in the face of widespread, vocal opposition, but protests only intensified after more than 40 protesters were killed by security forces.

Security forces killed at least 320 protesters, with hundreds more arrested.

In March, Nicaragua expelled Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, until then the apostolic nuncio, a decision that the Vatican described as "incomprehensible."

The Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Managua published a statement May 18 expressing its concern over "the situation in the country that we love as children of God, as Nicaraguans and as Christians."

"We join in prayer so that God might transform hard hearts into feeling hearts, with love for others, free from feelings that impede the normality that leads to authentic social peace."

"May love, forgiveness and mercy prevail in everyone in the search for the common good, practicing Christian principles," the commission urged.

"Faithful to the mandate of the Lord, and faithful to her vocation, the Church will continue to announce the Gospel, denouncing the social structures of sin, accompanying the people, especially the poor and the weak," they said.

"The mission of the Church will always provoke contradictions in this world where along with the light there is also the darkness of evil," the Justice and Peace  commission noted.

Link:

https://www.aciprensa.com/noticias/obispo-denuncia-que-sufre-persecucion-policial-del-gobierno-de-nicaragua-37795





Full text of Archbishop Cordileone letter to Nancy Pelosi banning her from Communion

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco in Baltimore, Md., Nov. 13, 2012. / Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Shutterstock, Michelle Bauman/CNA

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 20, 2022 / 15:37 pm (CNA).

Editor’s note: Below is the full text of San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone’s notification to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, informing her that she should not receive Holy Communion in her home archdiocese, the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Cordileone made the following letter publicly available on Friday, May 20.

NOTIFICATION

To the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States Congress Nancy Pelosi

The Second Vatican Council, in its Decree on the Church in the Modem World, Gaudium et spes, reiterated the Church's ancient and consistent teaching that “from the first moment of conception life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes” (n. 51). Christians have, indeed, always upheld the dignity of human life in every stage, especially the most vulnerable, beginning with life in the womb. His Holiness, Pope Francis, in keeping with his predecessors, has likewise been quite clear and emphatic in teaching on the dignity of human life in the womb.

This fundamental moral truth has consequences for Catholics in how they live their lives, especially those entrusted with promoting and protecting the public good of society. Pope St. John Paul II was also quite consistent in upholding this constant teaching of the Church, and frequently reminded us that “those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a ‘grave and clear obligation to oppose’ any law that attacks human life. For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them” (cf. Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life [November 24, 2002], n. 4, §1). A Catholic legislator who supports procured abortion, after knowing the teaching of the Church, commits a manifestly grave sin which is a cause of most serious scandal to others. Therefore, universal Church law provides that such persons “are not to be admitted to Holy Communion” (Code of Canon Law, can. 915).

With regard to the application of these principles to Catholics in political life, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote to the U.S. bishops in 2004 explaining the approach to be taken:

“... 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.’”

In striving to follow this direction, I am grateful to you for the time you have given me in the past to speak about these matters. Unfortunately, I have not received such an accommodation to my many requests to speak with you again since you vowed to codify the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision in federal law following upon passage of Texas Senate Bill 8 last September. That is why I communicated my concerns to you via letter on April 7, 2022, and informed you there that, should you not publicly repudiate your advocacy for abortion “rights” or else refrain from referring to your Catholic faith in public and receiving Holy Communion, I would have no choice but to make a declaration, in keeping with canon 915, that you are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.

As you have not publically repudiated your position on abortion, and continue to refer to your Catholic faith in justifying your position and to receive Holy Communion, that time has now come. Therefore, in light of my responsibility as the Archbishop of San Francisco to be “concerned for all the Christian faithful entrusted to [my] care” (Code of Canon Law, can. 383, §1), by means of this communication I am hereby notifying you that you are not to present yourself for Holy Communion and, should you do so, you are not to be admitted to Holy Communion, until such time as you publicly repudiate your advocacy for the legitimacy of abortion and confess and receive absolution of this grave sin in the sacrament of Penance.

Please know that I stand ready to continue our conversation at any time, and will continue to offer up prayer and fasting for you.

I also ask all of the faithful of the Archdiocese of San Francisco to pray for all of our legislators, especially Catholic legislators who promote procured abortion, that with the help and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they may undergo a conversion of heart in this most grave matter and human life may be protected and fostered in every stage and condition of life.

Given at San Francisco, on the nineteenth day of May, in the Year of our Lord 2022.

[Signed]

Salvatore J. Cordileone

Archbishop of San Francisco

Catholics respond to barring of Nancy Pelosi from Holy Communion

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco in Rome, June 28, 2013. / Lauren Cater/CNA

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 20, 2022 / 15:10 pm (CNA).

Catholics are responding in a variety of ways to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone's decision not to admit Nancy Pelosi to Communion, from viewing it as a compassionate act to the "waging [of] a culture war."

Cordileone notified the Speaker of the House of his decision May 19, and released letters to the priests and the laity of the Archdiocese of San Francisco explaining the act May 20.

Cordileone said on May 20 that the step was “purely pastoral, not political” and came only after Pelosi, D-Calif., who has described herself as a “devout Catholic,” repeatedly rebuffed his efforts to reach out to her to discuss her abortion advocacy. 

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois tweeted an earnest commendation of Cordileone's decision, saying that "politicians who promote abortion should not receive holy Communion until they have repented, repaired scandal, and been reconciled to Christ and the Church."

Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa said that he spoke to the pastor of St. Helena Catholic Church in St.Helena, a parish that Pelosi reportedly attends on occasion. 

Vasa said, “I have visited with the pastor at St Helena and informed him that if the Archbishop prohibited someone from receiving Holy Communion then that restriction followed the person and that the pastor was not free to ignore it.”

“The new Canon (1379 §4) makes it clear that providing sacraments to someone prohibited from receiving them [has] its own possible penalties,” he said.

Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver tweeted, “I support and commend my brother bishop, Archbishop Cordileone, for making this courageous, compassionate, and necessary decision.”

Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler tweeted, “Thank you, Thank you, Thank you Archbishop Cordileone for loving Nancy Pelosi in the Truth of Jesus Christ!”

Bishop James Conley of Lincoln tweeted, “I support Archbishop Cordileone in his courageous pastoral outreach to a member of his flock. His actions are made as a shepherd with the heart of Christ.”

Jamie L. Manson, president of the abortion advocacy group Catholics for Choice, maintained that the archbishop "is waging a culture war that the bishops have already retreated from," and claimed that Cordileone's action is "extreme."

Bishop Hying of Madison supported Cordileone, saying: “I fully support Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s prudent decision to recognize that the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, has persistently taken public positions in support of legal abortion, contrary to her professed Catholic faith, choosing to separate herself from full communion with the Catholic Church, and therefore is not to present herself for the reception of Holy Communion in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.”

Hying said that “Cordileone’s public statement made it clear that this serious measure is ‘purely pastoral, not political’ in a further attempt ‘to help her understand the grave evil she is perpetrating, the scandal she is causing, and the danger to her own soul she is risking…’”

“This is not a decision that was made rashly, but rather one made after almost ten years of patient dialogue and repeated attempts at reconciliation with the congresswoman and the consistently held teachings of the Catholic Church,” Hying wrote. “Please join me in prayer for Speaker Pelosi, that she may embrace the sacred truth and dignity of the human person, formed in the womb, in the image of God.”

Lila Rose, head of Live Action, tweeted that "this is the kind of leadership we need" and that "allowing publicly unrepentant, pro-abortion politicians to receive the Eucharist is damaging to their own souls and the conscience of the nation."

In a string of tweets, Brian Burch, President of CatholicVote, stated that “Catholics across America commend Archbishop Cordileone and his pastoral leadership in handling the scandal posed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. For too long Catholic public officials have created confusion and disunity by advocating for policies that destroy innocent human life – in direct contradiction of the teachings of the Catholic faith. 

“The persistent disobedience of these public officials is a source of enormous sadness and scandal that begged for a response. The Church has no choice but to protect itself and to encourage all of its members to live in communion with its teachings.”

“For the sake of Speaker Pelosi and the rest of the flock in his charge, Archbishop Cordileone is right to call her to return to full communion with the Church. We hope and pray she will do so.”

Twitter user Rich Budd tweeted, “Pray for Nancy Pelosi’s conversion.” Another Twitter user, Mark Brown, said: “A Bishop doing what a bishop should…” 

Another Twitter user, Craig de Aragón, tweeted, “Wow, +Cordileone has the heart of lion.” Twitter user Jeff Culbreath tweeted, “Thank you, Archbishop, for ending this scandal and caring for the souls of your flock. Including Speaker Pelosi's.”