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Rome Reports

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June 2018: Pope Francis sanctions clerics, names new cardinals

Pope Francis began the month of June by celebrating the Solemnity of Corpus Christi outside of Rome for the first time. In the nearby community of Ostia, the Holy Father sent an important message against the mafia. 

“Jesus wants to break down the walls of indifference and passive silence, to tear down the fences of abuse and intimidation, to open the paths to justice, decorum and legality.”

At the beginning of June, the Holy Father met with astronauts who had recently returned from space. After previously speaking via video chat from the International Space Station, the men now visited Pope Francis in-person with their families to fully prepare the pontiff for space. 

“We have decided that to begin with, as you are what you wear, to make you one like ours ...”

“Ah okay! And you plan the trip for me...”

“We have put the Vatican symbol, yours honestly, the Vatican flag”.

“These are the official wings of NASA or the astronauts...”

June also brought new developments in the Chilean abuse crisis. After all of the country's bishops had previously submitted their resignations, Pope Francis accepted three of them, including that of Juan Barros. 

A little over a week later, the Holy Father took action against another cleric, this time from the U.S. Pope Francis barred Cardinal Theodore McCarrick from public ministry following the substantiation of a claim against him of sexual abuse of a minor. This was only the beginning of what would become a much broader abuse crisis in the country. 

Pope Francis also traveled to Switzerland for his shortest trip of the year, spending 10 hours in Geneva for a visit to the World Council of Churches. 

In his first address to the council, the Holy Father encouraged the ecumenical efforts of members of all faiths, assuring it's a just cause. 

“Ecumenism is 'a great enterprise operating at a loss.' But the loss is evangelical, reflecting the words of Jesus: 'Those who want to save their life will lose it.'”

Later that day, the pope urged Christians to increase efforts to combat another source of division – persecution against their brothers and sisters. 

“Let us also look to our many brothers and sisters in various parts of the world, particularly in the Middle East, who suffer because they are Christians. Let us draw close to them. May we never forget that our ecumenical journey is preceded and accompanied by an ecumenism already realized, the ecumenism of blood, which urges us to go forward.”

Pope Francis also set a personal record during the month. His 57-minute encounter with President Emmanuel Macron of France was the longest time the Holy Father has spent with the leader of a nation. 

During the meeting, the two discussed topics such as the environment, religious minorities in the Middle East and the migration crisis in the Mediterranean. 

Pope Francis concluded the month by convening a consistory to name 14 new cardinals. In his homily at the ceremony, the pope asserted that the logics of power have no place in the Church. 

“None of us should feel superior to anyone. None of us should look at others from top to bottom. We can, yes, we can look at a person like this only when we help them get up.”

With that, the Holy Father began his usual July vacation, a month in which he remained in the Vatican and held few public appearances.