Pope names members of Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors (Vatican Press Office) The Commission includes nine new members and seven old members. Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston remains the advisory commission’s president. Teresa Kettelkamp, who helped the US bishops implement child-protection programs, is the new American member. Other new members are drawn from a broadly diverse geographical base.
The mandate of the papal commission had expired in December, prompting some criticism that the issue was not being treated as a high priority.
Among the new commission members, none is known to be a victim of sexual abuse. The Vatican announced that some members were in fact victims, but would not be personally identified for reasons of privacy.
Pope, Curia leaders begin Lenten Retreat (Vatican News) Pope Francis and the leaders of the Roman Curia have begun their Lenten spiritual exercises. Traveling outside Rome to a retreat house in Ariccia, they will spend the week in prayer and meditation, led by the Portuguese Father Jose Tolentino Mendonca.
During the Lenten Retreat, work schedules at the Vatican are reduced and papal audiences suspended.
Pope-emeritus Benedict still writing, cardinal says (Il Giornale (Italian)) Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI is still writing on theological questions, according to Cardinal Marc Ouellet. The Canadian prelate, who was once a theology student under the future Pontiff, said he would exclude the possibility that Benedict would publish another work. “We might have a posthumous surprise,” he said.
Chinese 'underground' bishop: we will accept Pope's decision (Vatican Insider) Bishop Joseph Wei Jingyi of Qiqihar, China, has said that the leaders of the “underground” Church in China will accept whatever accord the Vatican makes with Beijing, because they trust that the Holy Spirit will guide Pope Francis. In an apparent rebuke to Cardinal Joseph Zen, the Chinese prelate said that the Vatican should heed the voices of Catholics on the mainland, not those from Hong Kong and elsewhere who oppose a negotiated agreement.
Palestinian leader ask Vatican to lead conference on Jerusalem's future (Fides) In meetings with Vatican officials last week, Palestinian foreign minister Riyal al Maliki has proposed a conference on the future of Jerusalem, to be called by the Holy See. He said that Israeli is now taking advantage of US President Donald Trump’s decision to increase pressure on the Christian presence in the Holy City.”
Polish priest's criticism of bishops, government sparks controversy (Catholic Herald) The priest, 81-year-old Father Ludwik Wisniewski, linked declining Mass attendance with “right-wing parliamentarians who claimed to be devout Catholics while inciting fear of refugees and migrants.” He held Polish bishops responsible for allowing politicization of the faith, and pointed to drops in Mass attendance and religious vocations.
Resignations and appointments (2/16) (Vatican Press Office) Pope Francis appointed a new German bishop, accepted the resignation of an Italian bishop for reasons of age, and appointed his successor. The Pope also accepted the resignation of a Hungarian archabbot and appointed his successor—in essence ratifying the results of a January election at the famed Benedictine Abbey of Pannonhalma.