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Vatican condemns violence at Trump rally, offers prayers for victims, peace

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican expressed its concern about the violence waged at a political rally in the United States and it offered its prayers for the nation, the victims and peace.

In response to queries about the shootings at a rally involving former U.S. President Donald Trump in Pennsylvania, the Vatican press office released a statement July 14 expressing its "concern about last night's episode of violence, which wounds people and democracy, causing suffering and death."

The Holy See is "united in the prayer of the U.S. bishops for America, for the victims, and for peace in the country, so that the motives of the violent may never prevail," the statement said in Italian.

Gunshots were fired at a Trump rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, July 13, injuring Trump who said on social media that a bullet "pierced" his right ear. One person attending the rally was killed and two others were critically injured, The Associated Press reported July 14.

The U.S. Secret Service said it killed the suspected shooter who had attacked from an elevated position outside the rally venue.

Law enforcement was investigating the shooting as an attempted assassination of the former president and presumptive Republican presidential candidate, AP reported. 

Archbishop Broglio
Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, left, and other U.S. bishops concelebrate Mass in the crypt of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Dec. 2, 2019, during their "ad limina" visits to the Vatican. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a written statement July 13, "Together with my brother bishops, we condemn political violence, and we offer our prayers for President Trump, and those who were killed or injured."

"We also pray for our country and for an end to political violence, which is never a solution to political disagreements. We ask all people of goodwill to join us in praying for peace in our country. Mary, Mother of God and Patroness of the Americas, pray for us," the archbishop said.

US bishops' president condemns political violence, calls for prayer following Trump rally shooting (USCCB)

Archbishop Timothy Broglio, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a statement following the July 13 attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania.

The perpetrator and one bystander were killed, and at least three were injured. The former president was shot in his upper right ear, taken to a hospital, and released shortly afterwards.

“Together with my brother bishops, we condemn political violence, and we offer our prayers for President Trump, and those who were killed or injured,” the prelate said. “We also pray for our country and for an end to political violence, which is never a solution to political disagreements.”

“We ask all people of goodwill to join us in praying for peace in our country,” he continued. “Mary, Mother of God and Patroness of the Americas, pray for us.”

U.S. Bishops’ President Condemns Political Violence and Calls for Prayers for Peace

WASHINGTON – Following the news of the shooting at a political rally involving former President Donald Trump today, Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and president of the U.S. Conference of Bishops (USCCB) offered the following statement:

“Together with my brother bishops, we condemn political violence, and we offer our prayers for President Trump, and those who were killed or injured. We also pray for our country and for an end to political violence, which is never a solution to political disagreements. We ask all people of goodwill to join us in praying for peace in our country. Mary, Mother of God and Patroness of the Americas, pray for us.”

Earlier this summer, the USCCB issued a statement on political violence, urging all Christians and people of good will to abstain from political violence, and instead, ‘pursue what leads to peace and building up one another’ through dialogue, seeking justice.

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Faith in democracy: Participation in government long a papal priority

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- More than 2 billion people in over 50 countries were set to go to the polls in 2024, according to the Center for American Progress, but Pope Francis has said he is worried that people are more disconnected than ever from the governments that are meant to provide for their well-being.

Participating in a conference in Trieste, Italy, July 7, the pope discussed democracy at length. In preparation for that visit, the Vatican publishing house produced a booklet compiling papal speeches on democracy and featuring a new introduction to the text written by Pope Francis.

The booklet was published in Italian July 7 as an insert in Trieste's local newspaper, Il Piccolo.

In it, the pope wrote that while democracy has spread globally in recent decades, today it "seems to be suffering the consequences of a dangerous disease," that of "democratic skepticism."

People's distrust in democracy, which "sometimes seems to yield to the allure of populism," he wrote, ultimately stems from its perceived difficulty in addressing current challenges, such as, "issues related to unemployment or the overwhelming technocratic paradigm."

In his speech at the event July 7 during Italian Catholic Social Week, the pope underlined the need to train people in democratic participation from a young age and instill them with "a critical sense regarding ideological and populist temptations."

The four-day conference, organized every three to four years by the Italian bishops' conference to engage Catholics in social issues, chose as the theme for its 50th edition "At the Heart of Democracy."

True democracy, he added, does not entail merely voting, but creating the conditions and space for "everyone to express themselves and participate" in society.

That sentiment echoes a distinction made by Pope Pius XII in his radio message to the world Dec. 24, 1944. Still in the midst of World War II, the pope discussed the key difference that exists in a democratic system between "the people" and "the masses."

File photo of Pope Pius XII.
Pope Pius XII sits in front of a microphone prepared to give a radio address in this 1943 file photo. During World War II, the pontiff made many pleas for peace through Vatican Radio. (CNS photo)

A people, the pope said, "lives and moves by its own life energy" and is composed of individuals "conscious of (their) own responsibility and (their) own views."

"The masses, on the contrary, wait for the impulse from outside, an easy plaything in the hands of anyone who exploits their instincts and impressions; ready to follow in turn, today this flag, tomorrow another," he noted.

Whereas a people actively involved in democracy instills into a population "the consciousness of their own responsibility" and "the true instinct for the common good," Pope Pius issued a stark prediction for the fate of the disengaged masses: "in the ambitious hands of one or of several who have been artificially brought together for selfish aims, the state itself, with the support of the masses, reduced to the minimum status of a mere machine, can impose its whims on the better part of the real people."

As a result, "the common interest remains seriously, and for a long time, injured by this process, and the injury is very often hard to heal," Pope Pius said.

For Pope Francis, to counter the tendency to drift toward merely becoming "the masses" entails developing a sense of solidarity and togetherness, from which grows a will to participate in public life.

In authoritarian regimes, "no one participates; everyone watches passively," he wrote in his introduction to the booklet. "Democracy, on the other hand, demands participation, demands putting in one's own effort, risking confrontation, bringing one's own ideals, one's own reasons, into the question."

He added that "standing at the window, watching idly what is happening around us, is not only ethically unacceptable but also, even from a selfish perspective, neither wise nor convenient."

Or, put more succinctly, "indifference is a cancer of democracy," Pope Francis said during his July 7 speech.

Yet in his text the pope wrote that it is by leveraging democracy's greatest asset that society can overcome its sense of passivity.

"Democracy has in it a great and unquestionable value: that of being 'together,'" he wrote, praising the model for exercising government power "within the framework of a community that freely and secularly confronts each other in the art of the common good."

Togetherness, the pope added, fosters a "positive and almost concrete sense of solidarity, which comes from sharing and advancing, for example in the public arena, issues on which to find convergence."

The pope highlighted several pressing issues in society which require joint action and which people are called "to engage democratically": receiving migrants, falling fertility rates and the pursuit of peace through negotiation rather than increased firepower.

Particularly "in these times overshadowed by war," the pope prayed for a "more convinced commitment to a fully participatory democratic life aimed at the true common good."

Pope hopes for 'faithful' and 'creative' interpretation of Lord's intentions for women and ministry (L'Osservatore Romano (Italian))

Pope Francis has written the preface to Donne e ministeri nella Chiesa sinodale [Women and Ministries in the Synodal Church], an anthology written by Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, and the three women who addressed the Pope’s advisory Council of Cardinals on the topic in February.

“Christian thought, in its theological, juridical, magisterial and cultural dimension, in its legitimate effort to transcend the contingency of the present, can never completely distance itself from the context in which it is formulated,” the Pope wrote. “Throughout the modern era, particularly marked by the fascination for ‘clear and distinct’ ideas, the Church has also fallen, at times, into the trap of considering fidelity to ideas more important than attention to reality.”

“Reality, however, is always greater than the idea, and when our theology falls into the trap of clear and distinct ideas it inevitably transforms into a Procrustean bed, which sacrifices reality, or part of it, on the altar of idea,” he continued. “Listening to the suffering and joys of women is certainly a way to open ourselves to reality.”

“Listening to them without judgment and without prejudice, we realize that in many places and in many situations they suffer precisely because of the lack of recognition of what they are and what they do and also of what they could do and be if only they had the space and the opportunity,” he added. “The women who suffer the most are often the closest, the most available, prepared and ready to serve God and his Kingdom.”

Pope Francis concluded:

I want to entrust the ongoing discernment on the theme of the ministry and ministries in the Synodal Church to the intercession of the saints who have seen, listened to, experienced firsthand the way of serving Jesus and have formed with him the ecclesial body in its original configuration: Mary, Peter, John, Magdalene, to name just a few, together with their companions whose stories and names we know and many other anonymous disciples, men and women missionaries of the Gospel, so that they may help us to be faithful and creative interpreters of the Lord’s intentions.

Holy See calls for shared international commitment to help African nations 'build resilience' (Holy See Mission)

Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, apostolic nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, told a UN forum that African nations, as well as the least developed countries (LDCs) and landlocked developing countries (LLDCs), face “significant challenges, including substantial debt burdens, limited economic growth, persistent food insecurity and malnutrition, vulnerability to climate change and natural disasters.”

“In the light of the inherent vulnerabilities of these countries, a comprehensive and multifaceted approach is required to build resilience,” the prelate continued. “In order to achieve this, it is necessary to implement measures to strengthen healthcare systems, improve and expand access to education, foster economic diversification, and ensure sustainable agricultural practices.”

“The Holy See calls for a renewed affirmation of the shared commitment to the sustainable development of countries in special situations through tangible action and enhanced cooperation,” he concluded. “It is only through collective efforts and shared responsibility that a sustainable future for African countries, LDCs, LLDCs, and, by extension, for our entire family of nations, can be built.”

Pope to celebrate Vespers at Santa Maria Maggiore (Vatican News)

The Vatican has announced that Pope Francis will celebrate Vespers on August 5 at the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major (Santa Maria Maggiore). August 5 is the anniversary of the basilica’s dedication.

The celebration of Vespers helps fill in a sparse calendar in which no public papal liturgies were scheduled between July 7 (his pastoral visit to Trieste) and September 2-13 (his apostolic journey to Southeast Asia).

The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore has held a special place in the Pope’s affections: he typically visits the basilica for prayer before and after his foreign trips, and last year he announced his plans to be buried there.

Sostituto makes official visit to Honduras, a week after admitting he approved false invoice (@TerzaLoggia)

The Vatican’s Secretariat of State has announced that Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra is making a two-day official visit to Honduras, during which he will meet with the nation’s president, attend a ceremony for the reopening of the nunciature, and concelebrate Mass with the nation’s bishops.

As the Sostituto (officially, the Substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State), Archbishop Peña Parra coordinates the internal affairs of the Roman Curia and reports to Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State. The prelate has also opened nunciatures in Armenia, the United Arab Emirates, and Timor-Leste (East Timor)—an atypical role for a prelate who is not responsible for the Holy See’s foreign relations, but one that has raised his profile internationally.

The powerful prelate’s July 12-13 visit to Honduras comes a week after he testified in a London courtroom that he knowingly approved a false invoice in a bid to extract the Vatican from a London real-estate deal.

In 2023, Archbishop Peña Parra testified before a Vatican City court that he “ordered unsanctioned electronic spying on the phone of the director general of the IOR” [Vatican bank], The Pillar reported. In 2019, Archbishop Peña Parra intervened in the Zanchetta affair, providing a document that swayed a judge to permit the Argentine bishop, later convicted of sexually abusing seminarians, to leave his native country over a prosecutor’s objections.

Vatican completes podcast series on Pius XII and the Holocaust (Apple)

The Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication has completed a four-part, Italian-language podcast series, “Pius XII and the Shoah,” hosted by historian Matteo Luigi Napolitano and Andrea Tornielli, the dicastery’s editorial director.

“We must be very careful not to create, as a counterbalance to the black legend about Pius XII, a pink legend,” said Tornielli. “The theme must be seen, with the documents, in all its complexity.”

“But Pacelli had a very clear idea about where the good lay and where the evil lay,” Tornielli continued. “The good for him lay in the democracies or in those who fought Nazi-fascism. He was deeply anti-Communist, but aware that of the two evils the first, the most urgent, to be beaten was Nazi-fascism.”

Pope Francis: 'Our world's problem is not the number of children born into it' (@Pontifex)

In a tweet for World Population Day, Pope Francis wrote that “our world’s problem is not the number of children born into it.”

“The problem is selfishness, consumerism and individualism, which make people satiated, lonely and unhappy,” he added.

The United Nations commemorates World Population Day on July 11, the day in 1987 in which the world’s population was estimated to have reached 5 billion.