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Pope getting better, could be discharged from hospital in coming days

A medical update on Pope Francis‘ health reveals he is being treated with antibiotics, that he is responding positively, and that he could be discharged from hospital in a few days.

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Pontifical Commission for Protection of Minors reaffirms its commitment

The upcoming plenary meeting of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors will address matters that include the entity's effectiveness. A statement issued by the President of the Commission notes that "the protection of children and vulnerable persons remains at the heart of the Church's mission."

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UPDATE: Doctors report 'marked improvement' in pope's condition

ROME (CNS) -- More than 24 hours after he entered the hospital, Pope Francis' doctors reported a "marked improvement" in his condition, which they attributed to treatment with intravenous antibiotics.

The tests the pope underwent after entering Rome's Gemelli hospital with difficulty breathing revealed he had bronchitis, said a medical bulletin released by the Vatican press office March 30. "Based on his expected progress, the Holy Father could be discharged in the coming days."

Earlier in the day, the Vatican said the 86-year-old pope "rested well" his first night in the hospital and was "steadily improving" from what it described as a respiratory infection.

He spent the morning reading some newspapers, eating breakfast and had "resumed working," the Vatican had said. Before lunch, he went to the chapel near his hospital room to pray, and he received Communion.

The evening bulletin said, "Pope Francis spent the afternoon at Gemelli devoting himself to rest, prayer and some work duties."

The Vatican said that the pope had complained of "some respiratory difficulties" in recent days and was admitted to the hospital for medical tests, the results of which detected a "respiratory infection" but excluded COVID-19.

The pope is missing a piece of his lung that was removed in 1957 when he was 20 years old and training to become a priest in his native Argentina. He has insisted the operation has had no lasting impact on his health.

Photographers, television cameras and reporters waited outside the hospital March 30, but they formed the only crowd gathered there for the pope.

Before going to the hospital, Pope Francis held his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square and showed no obvious signs of breathing problems.

The Vatican originally said the pope was taken to the hospital for "previously planned tests," and later stated that he would remain the hospital for a few days. Pope Francis' scheduled meetings for March 30 and 31 were cancelled "to make room in his agenda for the tests to continue," an official said.

"Pope Francis is touched by the many messages received and expresses his gratitude for the closeness and prayer," the Vatican said in its second statement March 29.

Italian media reported that the pope was taken to the hospital in an ambulance, but the Vatican press office refused to comment on those reports.

The Gemelli hospital, part of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, keeps a suite of rooms reserved for the popes on its 10th floor.

Pope Francis had spent 10 days there in July 2021 after undergoing a three-hour surgery that included a left hemicolectomy, which is the removal of the descending part of the colon, a surgery that can be recommended to treat diverticulitis.

In late January, the pope told the Associated Press that his diverticulitis had returned, but insisted he was in good health for his age.

In an interview with the Reuters news agency in July 2022, he dismissed as "court gossip" rumors that cancer was found during his colon operation.


USCCB Statement on “Doctrine of Discovery”

WASHINGTON - The Dicasteries for Culture and Education and for Promoting Integral Human Development released today a Joint Statement on the “Doctrine of Discovery.” The matter at issue involves documents (papal bulls) issued in the fifteenth century with regard to European exploration of land beyond continental Europe. Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City and secretary for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has issued a statement in response to today’s Joint Statement by the dicasteries:

We are grateful to the Dicasteries for Culture and Education and for Promoting Integral Human Development for their Joint Statement on the “Doctrine of Discovery.” The Joint Statement is yet another step in expressing concern and pastoral solicitude for Native and Indigenous peoples who have experienced tremendous suffering because of the legacy of a colonizing mentality. We welcome the statement’s renewed repudiation and condemnation of the violence and injustices committed against Native and Indigenous peoples, as well as the Church’s ongoing support for their dignity and human rights. In the centuries that followed the papal bulls at issue, many popes boldly proclaimed the God-given rights owed to all peoples, but we must also confront those moments when individual Christians lacked such boldness or clarity.

As the Joint Statement points out, there were times when Christians, including ecclesiastical authorities, failed to fully oppose destructive and immoral actions of the competing colonial powers.  In this regard, we too express deep sorrow and regret. In recent years here in the United States, dialogues among Catholic bishops and Tribal leaders have illuminated more aspects of this painful history, and, with humility, we wish to offer our continuing solidarity and support, as well as a further willingness to listen and learn. We will continue to support policies that protect the poor and vulnerable, and that will offer relief to Native and Indigenous families who are struggling. Through Catholic charitable, health, and educational initiatives, we will continue to offer service to all people, with particular concern for those Native and Indigenous communities where the Church has been present. We support the ongoing efforts of various Catholic communities to make archival and historical records more easily accessible. 

Finally, as the Joint Statement indicates, the centuries of history at issue are complex, and the term “doctrine of discovery” has taken on various legal and political interpretations that merit further historical study and understanding. The experiences and histories of different countries and different Native and Indigenous peoples are distinct, and deserve further inquiry, although there are also opportunities for meaningful common understandings as well. As a Church, it is important for us to fully understand how our words have been used and misused to justify acts that would be abhorrent to Jesus Christ. We hope for more dialogue among Indigenous and Catholic scholars to promote greater and wider understanding of this difficult history. To that end, the USCCB and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops are exploring how they may support an academic symposium. This initiative has also received encouragement from the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, and the Dicastery for Education and Culture. 

May God bless with healing all those who continue to suffer the legacy of colonialism, and may we all offer true aid and support. By God’s grace, may we never return to the way of colonization, but rather walk together in the way of peace.


Responding to Indigenous, Vatican disavows 'doctrine of discovery'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Catholic Church formally "repudiates those concepts that fail to recognize the inherent human rights of Indigenous peoples, including what has become known as the legal and political 'doctrine of discovery,'" a Vatican statement said.

Issued March 30 by the dicasteries for Culture and Education and for Promoting Integral Human Development, the statement said papal texts that seemed to support the idea that Christian colonizers could claim the land of non-Christian Indigenous people "have never been considered expressions of the Catholic faith."

"At the same time, the church acknowledges that these papal bulls did not adequately reflect the equal dignity and rights of Indigenous peoples," the statement said.

Canadian Cardinal Michael Czerny, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, said the document responds to the repeated requests of Indigenous people in Canada and the United States to disavow the so-called doctrine, but it does not claim the discussion has ended or should end.

"It acknowledges that dealing with such a painful heritage is an ongoing process," he told reporters. "It acknowledges still more importantly that the real issue is not the history but contemporary reality."

And, the cardinal said, it is a call "to discover, identify, analyze and try to overcome what we can only call the enduring effects of colonialism today."

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, welcomed the Vatican statement, saying it is "yet another step in expressing concern and pastoral solicitude for Native and Indigenous peoples who have experienced tremendous suffering because of the legacy of a colonizing mentality."

As the U.S. and Canadian bishops jointly look at ways to continue discussions of the issue and its impact, the archbishop prayed that God would "bless with healing all those who continue to suffer the legacy of colonialism and may we all offer true aid and support. By God's grace, may we never return to the way of colonization, but rather walk together in the way of peace."

The Vatican statement said that the content of several papal bulls "were manipulated for political purposes by competing colonial powers in order to justify immoral acts against Indigenous peoples that were carried out, at times, without opposition from ecclesiastical authorities."

The "doctrine of discovery" has become shorthand to refer to a collection of papal texts, beginning in the 14th century, that appeared to bless the efforts of explorers to colonize and claim the lands of any people who were not Christian, placing both the land and the people under the sovereignty of European Christian rulers.

Cardinal Czerny noted, however, that the phrase "doctrine of discovery" was coined by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1823.

"The unfortunate thing here is that a very strongly church-related word is used by the U.S. Supreme Court to name an idea that was part of a historical process" but was never church teaching, he said. The papal bulls usually cited as supporting the idea were not "magisterial or doctrinal documents," but were attempts by the popes who wrote them to avoid war between Spain and Portugal as they made competing claims to land in the Americas.

In a series of meetings at the Vatican in March and April 2022, representatives of Canada's First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities asked Pope Francis specifically for a formal repudiation of the "doctrine of discovery."

And, at a Mass in Quebec in late July when he visited the communities in Canada, Indigenous women unfurled a banner that said, "Rescind the Doctrine."

The loss of the land, language, culture and spirituality of the Indigenous peoples of Canada and the foundation of the residential school system all can be traced to the doctrine, Indigenous leaders told reporters after their meetings with the pope.

Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça, prefect of the Dicastery for Culture and Education, said in a separate statement, that while "the 'doctrine of discovery' was not part of the teaching of the Catholic Church," the "tragic history" of how it was used "reminds us of the need to be ever more vigilant in our defense of the dignity of all people and the need to grow in knowledge and appreciation of their cultures."

The statement from the two dicasteries, he said, is the result of a process of listening to Indigenous people and trying to grow "in mutual understanding. In that sense, the insights that inform this note are themselves the fruit of a renewed dialogue between the church and Indigenous peoples."

A reporter asked Pope Francis about the doctrine during his news conference flying back to Rome from Canada. He said it always has been a temptation for colonizers to think they were superior to the people whose land they were colonizing. In fact, he said, there even was "a theologian, who was a bit crazy," who questioned whether the Indigenous of the Americas had souls.

"This is the problem of every colonialism, even today," he said, pointing to modern forms of "ideological colonialism," which use requests for foreign assistance to force poorer countries to adopt policies that go against the values their people hold dear.

"This doctrine of colonialism truly is evil, it's unjust," the pope said.

The Vatican dicasteries' statement acknowledged that "certain scholars have argued that the basis of the aforementioned 'doctrine' is to be found in several papal documents, such as the Bulls 'Dum Diversas' (1452), 'Romanus Pontifex' (1455) and 'Inter Caetera' (1493)."

But, the statement said, "the 'doctrine of discovery' is not part of the teaching of the Catholic Church," and, it added, "historical research clearly demonstrates that the papal documents in question, written in a specific historical period and linked to political questions, have never been considered expressions of the Catholic faith."

"At the same time, the church acknowledges that these papal bulls did not adequately reflect the equal dignity and rights of indigenous peoples," it said. "It is only just to recognize these errors, acknowledge the terrible effects of the assimilation policies and the pain experienced by Indigenous peoples, and ask for pardon."


Pope’s April prayer intention: ‘For a non-violent culture’

Pope Francis releases his prayer intention for the month of April, and urges everyone to pray and work for a non-violent culture which promotes peace.

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Cardinal Cupich asks for prayers for Pope Francis

The Archbishop of Chicago asks believers of all faiths to remember Pope Francis in their prayers as he recovers from a pulmonary infection in hospital.

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JRS report denounces inhumane treatment of asylum seekers in UK

JRS UK releases a report on the inhumane conditions of residents in the Napier Barracks a disused army base in Kent which as been converted into an asylum accommodation, urging the British Government to close it and to provide asylum seekers with safe and dignified accommodation.

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St. Peter Regulatus: Saint of the Day for Thursday, March 30, 2023

Also Peter Regalado, Franciscan reformer. Peter was born at Valladolid, Spain, to a noble family, and entered the Franciscan Order in his native city at the age of thirteen. After several years, he transferred to a far more austere monastery at Tribulos, where he became known for his severe asceticism as well as his abilities to levitate and enter into ecstasies. A success as abbot, he gave himself over to bringing needed reforms to the monastery and to promoting reforms in other Franciscan ...

Pope Francis‘ health improving

A Holy See Press Office statement says Pope Francis‘s health is improving as he remains in hospital for treatment for a pulmonary infection.

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