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Vatican City, Nov 1, 2014 / 05:21 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After four years of drafts and adjustments, the troubled Legion of Christ has announced that its new constitutions have been approved by Pope Francis.

The Pope’s approval of the final draft of the new constitutions brings the first phase of renewal and purification to a close after it was discovered that Legion founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel, had been living a double life.

The new constitutions were drafted during the congregation’s Extraordinary General Chapter meetings, which began on Jan. 9 and was mandated by Benedict XVI in the wake of the revelation of Fr. Maciel’s scandalous activities.

Among other discoveries, it was found out that Maciel was a pedophile, a womanizer and had fathered at least one child.
 
In 2006, with the approval of the pope, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith imposed upon Maciel “a retired life of prayer and penance, renouncing any form of public ministry.” Due to his advanced age, it was decided not to subject him to a canonical process.
 
From that point on, Benedict XVI carried out a process of reform for the Legionaries, and in 2010 the then-Archbishop Velasio de Paolis was appointed as their Papal delegate, thus initiating a three-year process of renewal.

All members of the Legionaries had the opportunity to participate and contribute during the last three years of consultation and reflection.

Fr. Eduardo Robles-Gil, appointed general director of the Legionaries of Christ during their January and February 2014 general chapter meetings, announced the definitive approval of the Constitution in a Nov. 1 letter to all the members of the Legionaries of Christ.

In the Vatican-approved letter dated Oct. 16, he urged members to be “grateful for the paternal care with which Popes Benedict XVI and Francis and Cardinal De Paolis and his councilors have guided our congregation’s steps in these years.”

These represent the sixth edition that have been approved for the Legion by ecclesiastical authorities. Previous editions were approved in 1948, 1965, 1970, 1983 and 1994.
 
While the previous statutes consisted of 878 paragraphs, the new ones consist of 247 paragraphs.
 
The first part of the new statutes is dedicated to the charism and patrons saints of Legionaries of Christ, while the second part describes the four vows every Legionary must profess.

In addition, the Constitutions lay out the steps for formation, the characteristics of suitable candidates to be Legionaries of Christ, the religious profession, the studies, the ordination and the management and administration of the order.
 
A key difference between the old and the new constitutions are that the old ones included many clauses regarding the application of the norms, while the new constitution focuses more on essential principles.

The initial draft of the statutes were given to an ad hoc commission established by the Congregation for Consecrated Life, whose results were presented by Cardinal Braz de Aviz to the government of the Legion on July 3.
 
It was also on that occasion that the appointment of Fr. Gianfranco Ghirlanda S.J. as Pontifical advisor for the Legionaries of Christ was made public.

An expert in Canon Law, Fr. Ghirlanda has been among the consultants of the Legionaries of Christ since the very beginning of their renewal process.

Following the suggestion of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, the constitutions include references to the documents of the Second Vatican Council as well as other official documents on consecrated life.
 
The Congregation also asked that clear references to Sacred Scripture and the Code of Canon Law be included.
 
It was also suggested that the relationship between the Regnum Christi Movement and the Legionaries of Christ be clarified, which is a task that is currently underway.
 
At the end of the Legionaries’ 2014 extraordinary general chapter, which took place in January and February, Cardinal Velasio de Paolis declared the congregation to be “reconciled with themselves, with their history, with the world and the Church.”

Vatican City, Oct 31, 2014 / 03:54 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Now released in English, the Synod of Bishop's final relatio reveals a more positive tone regarding the family called for by the synod’s small groups, as well as greater clarity on phrases that generated confusion in the midterm relatio.

The Oct. 5-19 extraordinary synod of bishops on the family reflected on “the pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.”

At the close of the 10-day meeting, which gathered together 253 bishops from around the world, a final document was issued which summed up key points of the discussion that took place, and which serves as the official “working document” for next year’s ordinary synod on the family.

With substantial changes made in comparison to the much discussed midterm synod report, particularly surrounding the topics of both homosexual, and divorced and remarried persons, the final document, the English translation of which was released Oct. 30, offers a more positive tone, more references to scripture, and clearer language.

On the topic of homosexuality, the final report noted how some families have some members who are homosexually oriented, and said that there had been significant discussion surrounding the appropriate pastoral response in accord with Catholic teaching.

“There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family,” the report read in paragraph 55.

However, it also emphasized that “men and women with a homosexual tendency ought to be received with respect and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

In the following paragraph the report condemned international organizations that link their financial assistance to poor countries with the acceptance of laws supporting the establishment of same-sex “marriage.”

On the topic of divorced and re-married Catholics, the final report emphasized that these situations require “careful discernment and an accompaniment of great respect.”

“Language or behavior which might make them feel an object of discrimination should be avoided, all the while encouraging them to participate in the life of the community,” the document read, pointing out how the synod fathers discussed the possibility of giving persons in this state access to Confession and Communion.

Although there were divergent opinions on the issue, with some advocating for current practice to remain the same and others promoting a more personalized approach that would give access in certain situations, there final word in the closing report said that the topic still “needs to be thoroughly examined.”

Discussion also touched on the topic of spiritual communion for the divorced and remarried, which is a topic the synod fathers also said needed “further theological study” of spiritual communion in light of the sacrament of marriage.

Persons who are divorced and who have not remarried often bear witness to their promise to a faithful marriage, the report continued, saying that these persons “ought to be encouraged to find in the Eucharist the nourishment they need to sustain them in their present state of life.”

Significant discussion also surrounded the topic of streamlining the annulment process, and the report observed how many synod fathers had stressed the need for making process “more accessible and less time-consuming.”

Among the proposals offered was the establishment of an administrative process under the jurisdiction of the diocesan bishop, as well as a “simple” process to be used when the case of nullity is clearly evident.

Others who opposed to these suggestions said that there would be no assurance of a reliable judgement, however the report revealed that there was a consensus in all the cases for the need to make the attainment of the truth and the validity of the marriage bond the “primary character” of the process.

Among other proposals, the role of faith in the lives of persons who marry “could possibly be examined in ascertaining the validity of the Sacrament of Marriage, all the while maintaining that the marriage of two baptized Christians is always a sacrament,” the document explained.

Paragraph 49 also touched on the procedure of marriage cases, saying that numerous synod fathers requested that a group of persons, both lay and clerical, be completely dedicated to this particular work, which would require greater responsibility from the diocesan bishop.

In regards to mixed marriages, the final relatio explained that there were frequent interventions expressing concerns on the topic, and that differences with Orthodox Churches in terms of marital regulations can in some cases create “serious problems.”

Although media headlines have been swirling since the end of the synod, with many saying that the Church had finally opened the doors to without discrimination to homosexuals and remarried divorcees only to close them again, the synod fathers have been outspoken in saying that all reports published during the synod are still a work in progress, with no official weight attached.

In his concluding speech for the Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis himself explained that “we still have one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas.”

He encouraged that this spiritual discernment be used to “find concrete solutions to so many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families must confront; to give answers to the many discouragements that surround and suffocate families.”

The Pope also prayed that the Lord would accompany and guide the synod fathers as they prepare for next year’s ordinary synod, which will reflect on the theme “Jesus Christ reveals the mystery and vocation of the family.”

Vatican City, Oct 31, 2014 / 02:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The first major makeover the Sistine Chapel has had since 1994 brings with it a completely new LED lighting system and high-tech sensors that automatically measure and adjust the chapel's oxygen levels.

“If you look at this art in the Sistine Chapel it is breathtaking,” said John Mandyck, chief sustainability officer for UTC Building & Industrial Systems which has overseen the project.

“But ironically it is the act of breathing or exhaling carbon-dioxide that was destroying the frescoes.”

He told CNA that the new technology will preserve the treasured frescoes – painted by Michelangelo 500 years ago – with the guarantee of future protection through adaptability.

“We have the ability to keep with the technology as technology advances and evolves over time,” Mandyck said. “We expect it to last a long time.”

The highly anticipated new ventilation systems were presented to journalists at an Oct. 29 press conference, which was part of a two-day event put on by the Vatican called “The Sistine Chapel 20 years later: New breath, New light” in honor of their official installment.

Created by Carrier, the U.S.-based pioneer of modern heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems, the company has specially designed the new lighting, air-quality and temperature control system to fit the unique needs of the Sistine Chapel.

The company also designed and installed the chapel's first air-conditioning system in 1993 to accommodate a maximum load of 700 at once.

However with the current number of daily visitors to the chapel hitting close to 20,000, the new system is designed to accommodate up to 2,000 simultaneous visitors in nearly any weather condition, the company revealed.

Landing at $3.8 million dollars in improvements, the state-of-the-art systems have a custom LED lighting system which uses 7,000 lights in order to maximize illumination of the frescoes, giving them a softer, brighter look.

Scientists have run numerous tests on the more than 250 original colors present in the chapel's ancient frescos, attempting to see how the light would react with each.

Designed to be “imperceptible,” the lights are completely hidden from sight, and are only seen when additional lighting is turned on for conclaves, concerts or other special events.

The lights themselves, according to designer LED4Art, a European Union-led project in collaboration with universities, will drastically save on energy in the chapel, and are expected to save roughly 60 percent on costs.

Along with the lights there are two cameras and 70 sensors placed throughout the chapel in order to register the environment inside and react to it. With the cameras estimating the number of people in the room, the purification and air-conditioning units adjust according to what the cameras register.

Completely silent, the units are designed to maintain a temperature of 20-25 degrees Celsius and 50-60 percent humidity within the chapel. They also guarantee that the number of dust particles remain at a level of 0.1 micrograms per cubic meter of air, and that the levels of CO2 levels are kept to a minimum.

Michel Grabon, Director of Carrier's AdvanTEC program in Europe, said that the new systems focus on three key aspects, which are advanced design, efficiency and intelligence.

The system, he explained to EWTN News on Oct. 29, “is particularly advanced (and) a very high technology level of the system that has been developed.”

In reference to the system’s efficiency, Grabon pointed out its particular quality in being energy efficient, “which is extremely important in our days – to have a system that is green and energy -efficient.”

A third important element to note is that the new system is “extremely intelligent,” he said, with for this type of system means that it’s the first time a camera they’ve used a camera to count the people inside the chapel “and adjust air flow and the other system parameters just to meet the number of people inside.”

Because it counts the number of people inside, the camera is also able to register the level of CO2 due to the amount that each person generates, Grabon noted.

“So if you know exactly how many people you have inside the chapel you know how much fresh air you need to bring to the chapel in order to bring down the CO2 level,” he said, observing that the new systems are able to do this “very quickly.”

Director of the Vatican Museums Antonio Paolucci told CNA in an interview over the summer that the chapel has had more than 5 million visitors per year since the number of visitors hit that mark for the first time in 2011.

In the Oct. 29 press conference, he said that their new aim with this innovation “is not restoration, but conservation.”

This is, the director explained, “is why we have chosen Carrier, because a masterpiece like the Sistine Chapel needs a comparable masterpiece of technology.”

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