Francis’ apostolic constitution "Episcopalis Communio" published today appears inspired by a desire to underline greater participation of the laity in the work of the Synod of Bishops and the role of this organism in a perspective of evangelization and of progress in the ecumenical journey.
Francis in Sicily on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the death of Blessed Pino Puglisi, the priest killed by the mafia. "Do not think of yourself, do not run away from your responsibility, choose love! Feel the life of your people in need, listen to your people. Be afraid of deafness, not hearing the people. This is the only possible populism, the only 'Christian populism': to hear and serve the people, without shouting, accusing and provoking disputes ".
According to the Wall Street Journal the "historic agreement" will be signed by the end of September. But announcements of this type have been happening for years. The Pope and the Vatican are ready, but China is divided: it favors the foreign ministry; against the United Front and the Patriotic Association which continue unperturbed to persecute the Church and religions. The silence of Beijing and Xi Jinping.
"Every day in prayer, I bring before the Lord the sufferings and the needs of the Churches and of the peoples of those beloved lands". Among the "praiseworthy" initiatives promoted as part of the Church's response to the current crises, the Pontiff cites the "great work to support the return of Christian communities to the Nineveh plain" in Iraq
"Our victory is the cross of Jesus, victory before our enemy, the great ancient serpent, the Great Accuser". In the cross "we were saved, in that path that Jesus chose to sink to the very lowest point, but with the power of divinity ".
Today's meeting is a lead-up to a summit with the presidents of the 113 Bishops' Conferences of the world on 21-24 February 2019.
"Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly". These are the four "details" to live the Christian life highlighted by Francis. "Among us is the great accuser, the one who always accuses us before God, to destroy us. Satan".
A priest in charge of a Henan parish complains about the ban on displaying sacred images and attempts by the faithful to accommodate government authorities. The faith cannot be abandoned or betrayed, nor can it be negotiated. What cannot be asserted or defended in public is not faith.
In Shanghai the "basic values of socialism" are exalted on the pediment of the church. A painting of the Last Supper removed in Henan. Communities forced to sing patriotic hymns. Shaolin Monastery in Shaoshan must hold a flag-raising ceremony every morning. "The churches seem more and more like government offices".
Those with "strong religious beliefs" must be re-educated or expelled. Spreading "political rumours" and distorting the country’s history are banned.
At the end of the trip to Ireland, Francis renews his appeal for forgiveness for the abuses committed by people in the Church. But a dossier by the former nuncio in the US accuses him of covering the misdeeds of former Cardinal McCarrick and calls for him to resign.