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Pope discusses Ukraine with Russia's Metropolitan Hilarion

The Vatican Today - 1 hour 37 min ago
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Tuesday with Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion, who came to thank the Holy Father for the recent loan of the relics of the 4th century Saint Nicholas of Myra. The relics, which were taken from the southern Italian city of Bari to Moscow and St Petersburg, drew huge crowds of Orthodox pilgrims during the two month loan period. Metropolitan Hilarion, who has been a regular visitor to the Vatican in recent years, heads the department for external church relations . Speaking to Vatican Radio after the private audience, the Orthodox leader said he and the pope also discussed ongoing tensions in Ukraine , as well as joint efforts to support Christians in the Middle East . Despite a warming of relations between Moscow and Rome, he said there are no current plans for a papal visit to Russia, or for Patriarch Kirill to visit the Vatican. Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s interview with Metropolitan Hilarion:  Metropolitan Hilarion says the “translation of the relics of St Nicholas to Russia was a very special event” as almost 2.5 million people came to venerate them, standing in queues of up to ten hours. Relics of St Nicholas He notes that for many decades, relations between Catholics and Orthodox developed out of sight of ordinary people in Russia. The first event which came to their attentions, he says, was  the historic meeting of Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill in February last year, but the first event in which people participated was the veneration of the relics. Joint efforts to support Christians in Syria Asked about other joint projects, the Orthodox leader says his Church has created a working group with Catholics to provide humanitarian assistance to Christians in the Middle East, in particular to catalogue the churches, monasteries and shrines that have been destroyed during the war in Syria. While he says he hopes the war will end soon, he adds there will be an immense task of restoring the country and the churches, as well as providing safe spaces for Christians to go back home. Religious freedom in Russia Speaking about religious freedom in Russia, Metropolitan Hilarion says the concerns of some journalists “in my view, are ungrounded”. He says that Jehovah’s Witnesses have been prohibited from activities recently, since they are considered “not as a Christian Church, but as a sect”. Tensions in Ukraine He says that he discussed with Pope Francis the situation in Ukraine, “where, in our point of view, violations of religious freedom are quite visible and quite open”. He mentions especially laws proposed by the Ukrainian parliament to “discriminate” against the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, which is accused of being an agent of Russia and treated as a foreign religious organisation. Abstain from aggressive rhetoric Despite the desire for reconciliation expressed by the pope and the patriarch in their joint declaration, Metropolitan Hilarion says it’s hard to speak of progress in relations between Orthodox and Greek Catholics in Ukraine. He adds that the first step must be for each religious confession “to abstain from aggressive rhetoric”. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope sends greetings to Italian conference on eliminating inequality

The Vatican Today - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 22:11
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has sent his greetings and support to the 15th annual FiabaDay conference for the Italian National Day for the Abolition of Architectural Barriers. His greetings came on Tuesday in a telegramme signed by Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, and sent to Giuseppe Trieste, President of Fiaba Onlus. In the message, Pope Francis sends “his thoughts to those who work to guarantee equal opportunities of life for all, independent from economic or social conditions, promoting cultural change focused on abolishing all existing barriers.” The Holy Father “hopes the awareness of the Christian faith’s fundamental contribution to the growth of the person and society may stimulate an ever more incisive action for the promotion of the human person”. He said action on behalf of humanity increases “solidarity and respect for the dignity of every person”. Fiaba Day 2017 takes place on 1 October in Rome under the auspices of the Presidency of the Italian Council of Ministers. (from Vatican Radio)...

Fr. Zollner on PCPM achievements, goals and lessons learnt

The Vatican Today - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 21:55
(Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors concluded its 4-day Plenary Assembly on Sunday,  with a renewed commitment to its mandate as an advisory body to the Holy Father for the protection of minors. In an interview with Vatican Radio, Commission member Father Hans Zollne r spoke of the  key areas of focus during the plenary and of the lessons learnt during the past three years of work. He also spoke of the encouragement expressed by Pope Francis   during a private audience at the start of the Plenary, and of his ongoing support since the Commission was established. Listen to the interview : Acheivements of the Commission Jesuit Father Hans Zollner says that for about three years the Commission has been working with the support of the HolyFather, and as the Pope himself mentioned during his audience with Commission members last week, the mandate of the Commission continues with the participation of new members. “The biggest indirect achievement is that the Commission exists and so it has been able to promote intervention and safeguarding formation sessions;  that the theme of sexual abuse of minors committed by clergy is now present in local churches;  and that many local churches have already had formation sessions and have sent in their guidelines to the Holy See on how to deal with victims and with perpetrators” he said. Other achievements Zollner singles out are a ‘Day of Prayer’, a model for guidelines sent to all Bishops Conferences,  Educational Days on how different churches work within their communities. He also mentioned the undertaking of a theological reflection on the significance on the sex abuse crisis for the theological understanding of the Church and for its core spiritual convictions. And very important – he said – is that “working in contact with survivors of sexual abuse – we have come up with suggestions to be submitted to the Pope”. Lessons learnt “We have had to deal with expectations that went far beyond our remit, our scope and that went far beyond our capacities – personal, timewise, energy-wise” he said. Zollner explained that one difficult thing the Commission has had to deal with is this  imagination that “the Commission would magically do away with cases and with all the wrongdoings that have happened over decades: that is unfortunately not possible”. We have had to communicate, he said, that we do not deal with cases; that the cases are dealt with by the dicasteries (especially the CDF) and he pointed out that the Pope has reiterated that more resources will be channeled into that dicastery for this reason. “We have needed to focus and we have now found a good balance and have achieved more concrete results” he said. Targets and Goals Father Zollner explained that the Commission has pinpointed three major goals : ensuring that the voice of people who have been abused informs the work of the Commission;  guidelines for the protection of children, adolescents and vulnerable adults in local churches; and programs of education and formation for safeguarding. Pope Francis’s support “What touches me most is that his heart goes out to the people who have been harmed; his heart is with them and stays with them” he said. Zollner said Francis personally told him that he remembers clearly two survivors he met with in 2014 and he reiterated they are very much alive in his prayers and in his memory. “The most touching of all sentences: ‘! have learnt from the survivors’. That is something that every bishop, every responsible person in the Church needs to listen to and needs to repeat: ‘listening to survivors’” he said.    (from Vatican Radio)...

Vatican at UN calls for nuclear-free world

The Vatican Today - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 18:49
(Vatican Radio) The Vatican Secretary for Relations with States has addressed the United Nations General Assembly, urging governments to do more to prevent wars, protect human dignity and work for a nuclear-free world . Archbishop Paul Gallagher’s speech was delivered on Monday in New York during the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly , addressing the theme ‘Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life on a Sustainable Planet’. Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report:  The Holy See’s foreign minister spoke of the right to life and freedom of religion as the pillars of peace and development, from which all other rights flow. He described the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change as two positive signs of hope, but said that nations must do more to implement the legal and political commitments enshrined in those agreements. Step back from military escalation Regarding the urgent need to prevent violence and conflict, Archbishop Gallagher said: “All countries should take a decisive and urgent step back from the present escalation of military preparations. The largest countries and those who have a stronger tradition of respecting human rights,” he added, “should be the first to perform generous actions of pacification”. Protect civilians in conflict Speaking of the Vatican’s concern for conflicts across Africa and the Middle East, as well as the violence in Venezuela, the foreign minister said civilians must be protected during warfare and the rights of migrants and refugees fleeing conflict must be respected. Combat human trafficking Referring to the forthcoming UN Global Compact on migration, Archbishop Gallagher urged nations to work together in opening “safe, orderly and regular pathways” for migrants, while combatting the great evils of people trafficking and the trade in human organs. Abolish nuclear weapons Finally Archbishop Gallagher condemned the proliferation of weapons, calling for much stricter arms control and reiterating in particular Pope Francis’ urgent appeal for “the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons”. Below please find the full speech by Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States, to the Seventy-second Session of the United Nations General Assembly: “Focusing on People: Striving for Peace and a Decent Life on a Sustainable Planet”  Mr. President, On behalf of His Holiness Pope Francis, I am pleased to congratulate Your Excellency on your election as President of this august Assembly and to commend you on the choice of the topic for this General Debate: “Focusing on People: Striving for peace and a decent life on a sustainable planet.” It is a congenial topic for the Holy See. Pope Francis never tires of insisting on people first, especially those who suffer, those who are excluded, marginalized and left behind. The Catholic Church expresses the meaning of focusing on people in these words: “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men [and women] of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted… are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ,” because “indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts.”[1] Focusing on people means not only protecting them from heinous crimes but also placing them ahead of all national and geopolitical interests and fulfilling all the international political commitments undertaken along the history of the United Nations that relate to social and economic development, starting with those contained in the Charter of the United Nations (Charter of the United Nations, paragraph 4 of the Preamble, article 1.3 and chapter IX). Mr. President, Putting people always first means protecting, at every stage and in every circumstance, the dignity of the person, and its human rights and fundamental freedoms, and in a specific way, the rights to life and to freedom of religion from which all other rights flow and which are therefore the common foundation of the pillars of peace and security and integral human development. These two human rights are indivisible from those other rights and fundamental freedoms relating to a dignified spiritual, material and intellectual life for each citizen and for their families – among others, the right to food, the right to water, the right for housing, the right to a safe environment and the right to work.[2] With the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, the international community committed itself to effective measures to eradicate the root causes of various evils and indignities that many people in the world today are facing. Moments before this Assembly adopted the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, Pope Francis defined the Agenda as an “important sign of hope.”[3] One of the fundamental reasons of this hope is that world leaders agreed on “a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity,” “determined to end poverty and hunger, in all their forms and dimensions,” and to ensure “that all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment.”[4] Their common resolve to “leave no one behind” articulates the core of this focus on people. Regarding political commitments, Pope Francis has also warned this Organization and the international community against falling into what could be called “declarationist nominalism”. We must, for that reason, guard against “assuaged consciences” and “feeling good,” simply because the 2030 Agenda and other important international accords have been adopted. On the contrary, we must not rest until the legal commitments have been truly accomplished and the political promises have been fulfilled in the lives of people. This requires taking a hard and honest look at the principal challenges that peoples of the world are facing today and will face tomorrow. With this in mind, responsible compliance with the Climate Framework Convention and its Paris Agreement, as well as the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and of the 2030 Agenda could be a way of focusing all countries and international organizations on working together for peace, leaving aside the dangerous game of exchanging threats. From this perspective, the Holy See sees the forthcoming “reform and fine-tuning of the UN Development System”[5] as an additional opportunity to place people and their needs at the centre of our action. In doing so, as Pope Francis reminded us here two years ago, we have to “allow them to be dignified agents of their own destiny.”[6] Mr. President, Christian Churches, in particular the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches, celebrate together on 1 September the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, to heighten public awareness of their shared responsibility to take care of our common home and to contribute to reversing environmental degradation. To mark the World Day of Prayer this year, Pope Francis and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew released a Joint Message affirming that: “The earth was entrusted to us as a sublime gift and legacy, for which all of us share responsibility... Our human dignity and welfare are deeply connected to our care for the whole of creation.”[7] This call for responsible stewardship finds particular urgency before the deteriorating conditions of our common home and an often purely utilitarian worldview concerning the things that surround us. Any harm done to the environment is harm done to humanity, of today and tomorrow. Thus, the misuse and destruction of the environment are also accompanied by a relentless process of exclusion, as the deterioration of the planet affects, first and foremost, the many billions imprisoned in poverty and in conditions of environmental stress across the globe. This dramatic reality of exclusion and inequality must lead all of us to take stock of our shared and individual responsibilities. The pressing call and challenge to care for creation invite all of humanity to work without hesitation toward sustainable and integral development. Improving climate conditions and the natural environment is possible only if we accept the need to change the way we perceive the world and if we change the way we relate to it. Although our common home is falling into serious disrepair, we can reverse the trend of environmental degradation. Indeed, as Pope Francis underlined in his Encyclical Laudato Si’, while we are capable of the worst, we are also capable of the best, rising above ourselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start.[8] Mr. President, The duty to prevent wars and violent conflicts is an essential component of the Responsibility to Protect. Thus, the Holy See appreciates the Secretary General’s explicit and strong emphasis on preventive diplomacy and concurs with his assessment that the “most serious shortcoming” of “the entire international community is the frequent inability to prevent crises.”[9] Prevention requires, first of all, restoring faith in the capacity of humankind for dialogue. An environment of trust is urgently needed. All countries should take a decisive and urgent step back from the present escalation of military preparations. The largest countries and those who have a stronger tradition of respecting human rights should be the first to perform generous actions of pacification. All the diplomatic and political means of mediation should be engaged to avoid the unspeakable. Mr. President, Allow me to recall the appeal of Pope Pius XII to all nations on the eve of the Second World War: “the way of justice is promoted by the strength of reason and not with the force of arms… The danger is imminent, but there is still time… nothing is lost with peace. With war, everything is lost. May people come back to understand each other and take up again negotiations. By negotiating with good will and with respect for mutual rights, they will realize that sincere and active negotiations never precludes an honourable success.”[10] In such a context, I would like to recall that a dozen years have passed since the historical gathering of world leaders in this Hall for the 2005 World Summit. Focusing on people, the heads of state and government of the members of this Organization reached consensus on the responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.[11] There is no doubt that a collective political consensus is necessary, but a reflection on articles 2.7 and 39 of the Charter of the United Nations is also needed. The Holy See thus supports all those initiatives that will facilitate the observance of obligations under the Responsibility to Protect, but it would like to remind the international community, once again, that without a legal framework and a fair respect of the international rule of law, the application of the Principle is not feasible. The war in Yemen is causing a humanitarian catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions. The tragedy from the war in Syria continues to grow every day. Involved players should sit at the UN negotiating table with the sole pre-condition of respecting human rights law and principles and allowing humanitarian access and assistance. At the same time, States, especially those who at some time in recent history have been directly or indirectly involved in the conflict, must undertake all means to reach a ceasefire, a first step towards peace. The Holy See is particularly concerned for the political divisions and instability in Venezuela with its humanitarian crisis. Also, the complex political and diplomatic tensions in the Arabian Peninsula and the violence, together with the various humanitarian situations, in the Middle East must be adequately addressed by the international community. All must strive for an end to violence and reach “a solution which can enable Palestinians and Israelis alike to live at last in peace within clearly established and internationally recognized borders, thus implementing the ‘two state solution’”. Furthermore, there is a need to promote a genuine public awareness of certain ongoing situations of conflict with a view to reaching a negotiated and peaceful solution, especially in Ukraine, South Sudan and Central African Republic, among others.[12] The ongoing violence and intense political tension in the Democratic Republic of the Congo necessitate an urgent and efficient commitment from all parties to find a solution to the constitutional crisis. Along the same lines, as Pope Francis has stated, there is “another kind of conflict which is not always so open, yet is silently killing millions of people. Another kind of war experienced by many of our societies as a result of the narcotics trade”.[13] The drug trade has joined other forms of corruption and has “penetrated to different levels of social, political, military, artistic and religious life, and, in many cases, has given rise to a parallel structure which threatens the credibility of our institutions”.[14] In the same vein, the Holy See is concerned with the challenges of fighting corruption and terrorism and with promoting stable peace and a sustainable development in many countries of the world. The Holy See also wishes to stress again that terrorism can only be countered by more cohesive and coherent measures at the international level. As terror knows no border, the international community must act as a whole.[15] Mr. President, The full protection of people is only possible with a durable peace. However, the protection of civilian populations must be assured also during warfare. The recent and gangrening conflicts both weaken, as well as reveal the shortcomings, of the international order, and they cause inexplicable suffering, massive displacements, blatant violations of universal human rights and fundamental freedoms and extreme poverty. There is no worse manmade crisis than violent conflicts. They drive people forcibly to migrate or become refugees. They engender mass atrocities and crimes against humanity. Indeed, as Pope Francis told this Assembly, “War is the negation of all rights.”[16] The lamentable situation of the hundreds of millions of migrants and refugees fleeing from wars, persecutions, natural disasters and extreme poverty, especially in Nigeria, Myanmar, Somalia, and some countries of the Sub-Saharan region, among others, is a great responsibility for all without exception. Our common humanity impels us all, as Pope Francis has proposed, to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate those who flee from such adverse conditions.[17] These four actions are based on the proposition that migrants, in spite of many real or imagined challenges, are a good for society, and on the principle of solidarity with those in need. In particular, they express our shared responsibility toward the victims of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity that the international community has failed to prevent or stop, in blatant neglect of the principles of international law. The Holy See will vigorously work to have these four concepts enshrined and reflected in the future Global Compact on safe, orderly and regular migrations, and the Global Compact for refugees. The Holy See believes that these UN-led processes offer a unique opportunity to respond together to challenges through international cooperation and shared responsibility. The Holy See urges the international community to overcome the current political impasse and to go beyond the negative sentiments that we face in opening safe, orderly and regular pathways for migration. In order to achieve the desired outcome, the contribution of political communities, civil societies and all stakeholders is indispensable, each according to their own responsibilities. While some migrants may be motivated by the legitimate desire of improving their already acceptable situation, most would likely choose not to migrate if they enjoyed peace and economic security in their home countries. It is a basic human right to live in one’s own country, but that right is effective only if the root causes that force people to migrate — such as wars and conflicts, mass atrocities and persecutions, and dire economic and environmental hardships — are given adequate solutions. Indeed, if basic necessary conditions are met, people will not feel forced to leave their homes, making migration manageable and voluntary. Thus, the focus in negotiating the Compacts should not be limited to stopping migrants in their tracks or confining refugees in camps, but instead, it should address the causes that deprive them of living with dignity and that force them to make life-threatening journeys. This should be our goal. And this should be a key part of the Global Compact for Migration. Mr. President, Another great challenge facing the international community is trafficking in persons. At the root of this and other contemporary forms of slavery are wars and conflicts, extreme poverty, underdevelopment and exclusion, lack of education, lack of employment opportunities and environmental catastrophes. But we ought to recognize that on the demand side of such criminal trafficking there is also a crass selfishness, which reaches unimaginable levels of moral irresponsibility in the case of the trafficking of children, organs, tissues and embryos and in the so-called transplant tourism. Such execrable trade is exacerbated by corruption on the part of public officers and common people willing to do anything for financial gain. Indeed, the migration and refugee crises are facilitating an increase in trafficking in persons and other contemporary forms of slavery. The Holy See and the Catholic Church have long spoken out against the evil of trafficking in persons and through the dedicated work of so many individuals and institutions, they have sought to fight its root causes, to care for the victims, to raise awareness about it, and to work with anyone and everyone to try to eliminate it. Pope Francis calls trafficking in persons an “open wound on the body of contemporary society”[18] and an “atrocious scourge that is present throughout the world on a broad scale.”[19] At the heart of this evil, however, is the utter loss of respect for human dignity and the total indifference to the sufferings of fellow human beings. Modern slavery happens when “people are treated as objects,” which leads to their being “deceived, raped, often sold and resold for various purposes, and in the end either killed or left devastated in mind and body, only to be finally thrown away or abandoned.”[20] Refocusing on people, putting people first in the overall work of this Organization ought unhesitatingly to support the fight against trafficking in persons and other contemporary forms of slavery. Pope Francis calls on all, in particular the competent authorities, to address such a heinous crime through effective juridical instruments, to punish those who profit from it, to assist the healing and the reintegration of its victims, and to eradicate its root causes. Our response must be commensurate to this great evil of our time. Mr. President, The world is awash with all types of weapons, from nuclear weapons to small arms and light weapons. The arms trade, both licit and illicit, keeps on growing. The proliferation of arms, including weapons of mass destruction, among terrorist groups and other non-state actors has become a real danger. These trends are deeply worrying, but more disturbing still is the deep chasm that separates commitments from actions in the field of disarmament and arms control. While everyone condemns the grave effects of arms proliferation, nothing has substantially changed on the ground, because, as Pope Francis observed, “We say the words ‘No more war!’ but at the same time we manufacture weapons and sell them…to those who are at war with one another.”[21] This must change. The proliferation of weapons simply aggravates situations of conflict and results in unimaginable human suffering and material costs, profoundly undermining development, human rights and the search for lasting peace. Without greater international and regional cooperation, especially among weapons-producing States, to control and limit strictly the production and movement of weapons, a world free of wars and violent conflicts will surely remain an illusion. When Pope Francis addressed this Assembly two years ago today, he drew attention to the “urgent need to work for a world free of nuclear weapons, in full application of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), in letter and spirit, with the goal of a complete prohibition of these weapons.”[22] In his 2017 World Day of Peace Message, Pope Francis once again made a plea for disarmament and for “the prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons.”[23] Unfortunately, the proliferation of nuclear weapons increases international tensions, as is witnessed in the Korean Peninsula. As history demonstrates, regional and bilateral treaties of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons have been effective in establishing whole regions free of these arms. In this sense, it seems all the more urgent to invest in building those circumstances that would facilitate the creation of new bilateral and regional treaties. The Holy See has signed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and has already deposited its ratification, because it believes that it is an important contribution in the overall effort toward complete nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, an advance toward the fulfilment of the commitment of the States Parties to the NPT “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament,” and a step toward negotiating a “general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.”[24] While much remains to be done for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons truly to make a difference and achieve its full promise, the Holy See believes that it is one more blow on the anvil toward the fulfilment of the prophecy of Isaiah: “They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks; One nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again.”[25] Thank you, Mr. President. 1. Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et spes, Opening paragraph. 2. Cfr., Pope Francis, Address during Meeting with Members of the United Nations General Assembly, UN Headquarters, 25 September 2015. 3. Ibid. 4. United Nations, Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, Preamble. 5. Antonio Guterres, Secretary General designate, Remarks to the General Assembly on taking the oath of office, 12 December 2016. 6. Pope Francis, Address during Meeting with Members of the United Nations General Assembly, UN Headquarters, 25 September 2015. 7. Joint Message of Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on the World Day of Prayer for Creation, Vatican and Fanar, 1st September 2017. Cfr. also Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’ n. 261; Pope Francis, Letter for the Establishment of the World Day of Prayer for Creation, 6 August 2015. 8. Cfr., Laudato Si’, nn. 13, 58 & 205. 9. Antonio Guterres, Secretary General designate, Remarks to the General Assembly on taking the oath of office, 12 December 2016. 10. Pope Pius XII, Address to Leaders and Peoples in the Imminent Danger of War, 24 August 1939. 11. 2005 Outcome Document 138-139. 12. Pope Francis, Address to the Members of the Diplomatic Corps Accredited to the Holy See, 12 January 2015. 13. Pope Francis, Address during Meeting with Members of the United Nations General Assembly, UN Headquarters, 25 September 2015. 14. Ibid. 15. Cfr., Permanent of Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York. Statement at the Sixth Committee of the General Assembly, Item 108, 5 October 2016. 16. Pope Francis, Address during Meeting with Members of the United Nations General Assembly, UN Headquarters, 25 September 2015. 17. Pope Francis, Address to Participants in the International Forum on “Migration and Peace”, 21 February 2017. 18. Pope Francis, Address to Participants in the International Conference on Combating Human Trafficking, 10 April 2014. 19. Pope Francis, Address during the Ceremony for the Signing of the Faith Leaders’ Universal Declaration Against Slavery, 2 December 2014. 20. Pope Francis, Address to the New Ambassadors Accredited to the Holy See, 12 December 2013. 21. Pope Francis, Interview with the Belgian Catholic weekly, “Tertio”, 7 December 2016. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis daily Mass: Familiarity with Jesus sets us free

The Vatican Today - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 18:07
“ Those who hear the Word of God and act on it ”: this is the concept of the family for Jesus, a concept of family that is “wider than that of the world.” That was the focus of Pope Francis’ homily at the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta . In the Gospel reading, Jesus says that it is precisely those who come to Him, and listen to His preaching, who are His “mother,” and His “brothers”: His family. And this, the Pope said, makes us think of the concept of familiarity with God and with Jesus, which is something more than being “disciples” or even “friends”; it is not a “formal” or “polite” attitude, much less a “diplomatic” one. So, he asked, “what does this word – familiarity – which the spiritual fathers of the Church have used so often, and have taught us, actually mean?” First of all, he said, it means “ entering into the home of Jesus, to enter into that atmosphere, to live in that atmosphere that is in the home of Jesus. To live there, to contemplate, to be free. Because the children are free, those who reside in the house of the Lord are free, those who have a familiar relationship with Him are free. Others, to use a word from the Bible, are the children of the ‘slave woman.’ We might say that they are Christians, but they don’t dare to draw near to Him, they don’t dare have this familiarity with the Lord. There is always a distance that separates them from the Lord.” But familiarity with Jesus, as the great Saints teach us, also means “ standing with Him, looking to Him, hearing His Word, seeking to do it, speaking with Him.” We speak to him in prayer, Pope Francis emphasized, and we can pray even in common language: “But Lord, what do you think?” “This is familiarity, isn’t it?” the Pope said. “Always! The saints had it. Saint Teresa is beautiful, because she said she found God everywhere, even among the pans in the kitchen.” Finally, Pope Francis said familiarity means “ remaining ” in the presence of Jesus, as He Himself counsels us at the Last Supper; or as we see recorded at the beginning of the Gospel, when John says, “This is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. And Andrew and John followed Jesus” and, as it is written, “they remained, stayed with Him all day.” And this, the Pope repeated once again, is the attitude of familiarity ; which is so different from the “goodness” of those Christians who nonetheless keep themselves at a distance from Jesus, saying, “You stay over there, and I’ll stay here.” And so, Pope Francis said, “let us take a step forward in this attitude of familiarity with the Lord. A Christian, with all his problems, who gets on the bus, or on the subway, and speaks internally with the Lord – or at least knows that the Lord is watching him – is close to Him: this is familiarity, closeness, feeling oneself a part of the family of Jesus. Let us ask for this grace for all of us, to understand the meaning of familiarity with the Lord. May the Lord grant us this grace.”   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis meets members of Swiss Guard foundations

The Vatican Today - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 21:39
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Monday with members of two foundations which offer economic, technical and material support to the Swiss Guards. The papal audience marked the official inauguration of a new operative centre for the corps which has been guarding the Vatican for over 500 years. Listen to our report:  In his words to the two groups, Pope Francis thanked them for their support and for the fruitful collaboration established with its commanders and with the competent Vatican authorities. Spirit of fraternity and sharing In carrying out your activity, he said, you express the community and fraternal spirit typical of the presence of Catholics in society. This attitude, he continued, is rooted in the Gospel call to love one’s neighbour, helping to overcome tensions and become an example of fraternity and sharing. Spiritual points of reference Love for one’s neighbour, the pope said, corresponds to the mandate and example of Christ, if it is based on true love for God. To give love to our brothers and sisters, he said, it is necessary to draw it from the source of divine charity, through prayer, by listening to the Word of God and from the nourishment of the Eucharist. With these spiritual points of reference, he said, it is possible to work in the logic of gratuitousness and service. Discreet, professional, generous presence In conclusion, Pope Francis reiterated his heartfelt thanks to the many young Swiss men who decide to dedicate a few years of their lives to the guards in the service of the Church and the Holy See. He praised them for their discreet, professional and generous presence, that is greatly appreciated and essential for the smooth running of activities here at the Vatican. (from Vatican Radio)...

Love of neighbor must begin with love of God, Pope Francis says

Catholic News Agency - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 21:12

Vatican City, Sep 25, 2017 / 09:12 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Monday Pope Francis spoke to benefactors of the Vatican Swiss Guard about love of neighbor, which he said must first be steeped in love of Christ and drawn from prayer and frequent reception of the sacraments.

“Love to one's neighbor corresponds to the mandate and the example of Christ if it is based on a true love of God. It is thus possible for the Christian, through his dedication, to make others feel the tenderness of the heavenly Father,” the Pope said Sept. 25.

“To give love to brothers, it is necessary to draw it from the furnace of divine charity, through prayer, listening to the Word of God, and nurturing the Holy Eucharist. With these spiritual references, it is possible to operate in the logic of gratuity and service.”

Pope Francis met Monday morning with 50 members of the Foundation of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, an organization which offers financial, material and technical support to the Vatican’s small military force.

He thanked them for their work in support of the young Swiss men who devote some years of their lives to “serving the Church and the Holy See.”

“This is an opportune occasion for me to reiterate that their discreet, professional and generous presence is so appreciated and useful for the good performance of Vatican activities.”

The business of the foundation expresses community spirit and solidarity, the Pope said, a typical feature of the Catholic presence in society and an attitude which is rooted in the appeal of the Gospel to love one’s neighbor.

“Therefore, through your work, you are concrete witnesses of evangelical ideals and, in the Swiss social fabric, you are an example of fraternity and sharing,” he said.

Concluding, Francis wished them joy as they continue their “fruitful commitment,” and bestowed the apostolic blessing.

He also prayed for protection for them and their families through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Nicholas of Flüe, the patron of Switzerland, whose feast the Swiss celebrate on Sept. 25.

St. Nicholas of Flüe was born in 1417 near the Lake of Lucerne in Switzerland. He married at the age of 30 and had 10 children. In addition to his duties as a husband and a father, Nicholas donated his talents and time selflessly to the community and always strove to give an excellent moral example to all.

The saint was also able to devote much of his private life to developing a strong relationship with the Lord.  He had a strict regime of fasting and he spent a great deal of time in contemplative prayer.

Around the year 1467, when he was 50 years old, Nicholas felt called to retire from the world and become a hermit. His wife and children gave their approval, and he left home to live in a hermitage a few miles away.

While living as a hermit, Nicholas quickly gained a wide reputation for his personal sanctity, and many people sought him out to request his prayers and spiritual advice.

Nicholas lived the quiet life of a hermit for 13 years. However in 1481, a dispute arose between the delegates of the Swiss confederates at Stans and a civil war seemed imminent. The people called on Nicholas to settle the dispute, so he drafted several proposals which everyone eventually agreed upon.

Nicholas' work prevented civil war and solidified the country of Switzerland. But, as a true hermit, he then returned to his hermitage after settling the dispute.

He died six years later on March 21, 1487 surrounded by his wife and children. The Church celebrates his feast day on March 21, though in Switzerland and Germany it is celebrated on Sept. 25.

Pope at Mass: ‘God’s consolation leads to peace’

The Vatican Today - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 20:47
(Vatican Radio)  Let us ask the Lord to help us recognize true consolation and to conserve it. That was Pope Francis’ message at morning Mass on Monday in the Casa Santa Marta. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: Reflecting on the First Reading in his homily, Pope Francis said the Lord “visited His people and returned them to Jerusalem.” The word “visited”, he explained, is important in salvation history, because “every act of redemption by God is a visitation.” “When the Lord visits us He gives us joy, that is, He places us in a state of consolation… You have seeded in tears, but now the Lord consoles us and gives us spiritual consolation. Consolation happens not only in a certain moment in time but is a state in the spiritual life of every Christian. The entire Bible teaches us this.” The Holy Father went on to exhort those present “to wait” for the Lord’s visitation. Some moments are stronger than others, but the Lord “will help us to sense His presence” with spiritual consolation. He said the Christian must recognize consolation, because there are false prophets who seem to console us but are, in fact, tricking us. “The Lord’s consolation moves you and makes you increase in charity, love, and hope, also making you weep for your sins. When we observe Jesus and his Passion, we weep with Jesus… You elevate your soul to the things of Heaven and of God, and your soul is quieted in the peace of God. This is true consolation.” In conclusion, Pope Francis reminded all to thank the Lord in prayer, that He may “pass by” to visit us, helping us to go forward, in hope, to carry our Cross. “Conserve these traces of consolation in your memory, just as God’s people remembered its liberation… Wait for consolation, recognize it, and conserve it. And, what remains from this passing moment? Peace, for peace is the highest level of consolation.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Inclusion, dialogue highlighted in new Vatican guidelines for educators

Catholic News Agency - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 10:36

Vatican City, Sep 24, 2017 / 10:36 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican has issued new guidelines for Catholic educators, developed to help them respond to the modern challenges of a globalized society, placing a heavy emphasis on inclusion, the need to dialogue and the importance of “humanizing” education so the person is at the center.

The guidelines were published Sept. 22 in a short document entitled “Educating to Fraternal Humanism: Building a Civilization of Love 50 years after Populorum Progressio.”

Populorum Progressio is an encyclical written by Pope Paul VI in 1967 on “the development of peoples” in wake of the Second Vatican Council.

Vatican officials said the guidelines represent a fresh perspective on what Christian education means in today's globalized world, with a special emphasis on dialogue, inclusion and creating a “humanizing” approach to education.

It was published by the Gravissimum Educationis Foundation, which was established by Pope Francis in 2015 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council's declaration on Christian education.

One of three declarations of Vatican II, Gravissimum educationis recognized the Church's role in education, ordered toward man's salvation, and stated fundamental principles of Christian education.

The conciliar document, issued Oct. 28, 1965, stated that Catholic schools are meant “to help youth grow according to the new creatures they were made through baptism as they develop their own personalities, and finally to order the whole of human culture to the news of salvation so that the knowledge the students gradually acquire of the world, life and man is illumined by faith.”

Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, president of the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education, told journalists that Populorum Progressio “marked a decisive watershed in the history of social issues, offering a new model of ethics that was able to embrace, with a wider gaze, all continents in the perspective of ever-increasing global interdependence.”

The document, which forms the basis for the guidelines, “underlines how urgent and necessary it is to humanize education, favoring a culture of encounter and dialogue,” he said.

And the first step in “humanizing” education, he said, is by “globalizing hope guided by the message of salvation and love from Christian revelation.”

“The solidarity and brotherhood that arise from this personal and social transformation,” he said, “will be the basis of an inclusive process capable of influencing lifestyles and economic and environmental paradigms.”

Alongside Cardinal Versaldi at the press conference were the congregation's secretary, Archbishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani, and the Secretary General of the Gravissimum Educationis Foundation, Msgr. Guy-Réal Thivierge.

In comments to journalists, Archbishop Zani said there are three key points to the guidelinest, the first of which is “to humanize education.”

“This is very important because the Pope said at the end of the global congress in 2015 said no to proselytism, yes to humanization. So education is above all making it so the person is fully themselves.”

To do this, the person must use all the instruments available to them, but without forgetting “the dimension of transcendence” that the incarnation of Christ offers.

“For us this dimension of humanization is essential not only in an ideological or theoretical sense, but in concrete practice,” Zani said, explaining that it must be “translated into paths that go beyond the technicalities and 'proceduralisms' that often suffocate institutions.”

A second key aspect of the text is its emphasis on “the culture of dialogue,” which Archbishop Zani said involves “the need to pass from the throwaway culture to to the culture of dialogue.”

To this end, the text outlines the thought of French philosopher Paul Ricueur, who develops the concept of dialogue, “asking that this dialogue isn't done on a superficial level, but on the level of the depth of the person who in order to dialogue, must enter into themselves and...put themselves into contact with the identity of the other.”

Zani then pointed to a third element of the guidelines he said is part of the core message, which is “the disposition of inclusion,” which Pope Francis himself speaks of often.

Inclusion means to encounter, rather than to exclude, Zani said, noting that “many times our institutions are exclusive more than inclusive,” and “the knowledge itself that we communicate in our institutions, is often a selective knowledge.”

“So this culture of inclusion would like to propose a knowledge that is rather understood as a good that isn't positional, which guarantees a social position, but a relational good, which helps every person to further develop their relationships with other people,” he said.

Zani also outlined several projects the foundation is currently involved with, including research for a new models of education, a survey for youth ahead of the upcoming Synod of Bishops and a permanent observatory tasked with studying international changes and challenges to an integral education.

In comments to CNA, Cardinal Versaldi said the term “fraternal humanism” in the title of the guidelines means “to educate man, humanity, on how to be true men.”

“You cannot avoid relationships with others, which are relationships in the logic of love,” he said, and emphasized the importance of mutual sharing and enrichment, “because we aren't all from the same place, there are inequalities, there are exclusions.”

 The cardinal said that the guidelines emphasize  “the duty on the part of everyone to see how to give their contribution to change a situation of inequality or of being discarded.” This, he said, is because “in a globalized world, where there inequality, a problem arises for everyone, not only for those who are discarded.”

Because of this, not only do people need to have the foresight to see and remedy situations of injustice, but institutions and governments must as well, Versaldi said. “Otherwise the world won't be cured of its evils.”

What Catholic educational institutions can offer, he said, is the proper formation of youth in particular, so they can themselves become examples of “fraternal humanism” that others will follow.

Versaldi said the congregation won't be asking educational institutions to change their curriculum per se, but rather, ask that educators themselves be formed in the contents of the guidelines and update their own approach based on the perspective the text offers.

“You can't simply repeat the past, even from the point of view of content and curriculum, but you need to also be able to adapt to the new situations, always maintaining in a strong way the meaning of the Christian message, which doesn't change through time,” he said.

According to the cardinal, there are currently more than 216,000 Catholic schools throughout the world with a student population of over 60 million from all faiths and ethnicities.

Africa boasts more than 24 million Catholic school students, and is followed by Asia, which has 13 million. The Americas have a Catholic school population of 12 million, followed by Europe with 8.6 million and Oceania with 1.2 million.

Cardinal Versaldi said that “despite falling in some western countries, in recent years there has been a steady increase in registrations on a global level.”

In addition to the number of Catholic schools and students, there are roughly 1,800 Catholic universities and 500 ecclesial faculties globally.

 

Pope and Peruvian president discuss Venezuela, upcoming papal visit

Catholic News Agency - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 06:54

Vatican City, Sep 24, 2017 / 06:54 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis met with Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski Friday to discuss the country’s fight against poverty, the crisis in Venezuela and the Pope's upcoming visit, among other topics.

President Kuczynski, described the meeting to journalists at a Sept. 23 news briefing, saying “what we spoke about is what is happening in Peru, how little by little we are eliminating poverty in Peru (and) what is happening in the Peruvian government.”

“We also spoke, naturally, about the visit of the Holy Father to Peru,” he said, drawing attention to the trip Pope Francis will make to Peru and Chile in January 2018.

The president said preparations for the visit are going well, and that “almost everything is ready.” Authorities are still deciding where the Pope’s final Mass on the last day of the visit will be held, but “everything else in the trip is already organized.”

The visit, announced in June, will take the Pope to Chile from January 15 to 18 and Peru from January 18 to 21, 2018. It will mark Francis’ fourth official tour of Latin America since his election, after Brazil in 2013; Bolivia, Paraguay and Ecuador in 2015 and his recent visit to Colombia earlier this month.

In Chile the Pope will visit the capital of Santiago, and the cities of Temuco and Iquique. In Peru, he will visit the capital city of Lima, as well as Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo.

In his comments to journalists, President Kuczynski described his conversation with the Pope as “very friendly.” The Pope offered several “proverbs” known in the Spanish language, he said, adding that “he is a man very knowledgeable in literature.”

He and Francis also discussed the situation of former presidents of Peru, some of whom are currently in prison. The latest ex-president to be put behind bars is Ollanta Humal, who was jailed in July amid a corruption scandal that continues to unfold in the country.

Corruption was also naturally a part of the discussion, specifically “how the fight against corruption is going,” Kuczynski said.

He explained that in his meeting with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin that followed his conversation with the Pope, Peruvian leaders, after consulting with other governments, are planning to make a proposal to establish an “Inter-American Court against corruption” during the 2018 Summit of the Americas, set to take place in Lima.

The president also touched on Peru’s complicated past, in many was still shrouded by the violence of the guerrilla group “the Shining Path,” largely active in the 1980-90s, and the need for reconciliation.

“In Latin America, in all countries, we need reconciliation, and the visit of the Pope without doubt will immensely help this,” Kuczynski said, noting that Peru itself “has been successful enough in reconciliation after the period of terrorism and hyperinflation that we had.”

Another topic that has somewhat overshadowed the Church in Peru for the past two years is the scandal surrounding Luis Fernando Figari, a consecrated layman who founded the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, a society of apostolic life, in 1971 in Peru. It was granted pontifical recognition in 1997, and is one of the most well-known communities in Peru.

It came into the international spotlight when in 2015 accusations of physical, sexual and psychological abuse were raised against Figari, which were proved to be true. Figari, who had been transferred to Rome, was then barred from any contact with the community as the result of an investigation carried out by Peruvian civil authorities.

Although the case is likely to come up at some point during the Pope’s visit, President Kuczynski said the issue was not raised in his discussion with the Pope, as it is being handled “through other channels.”

The president said his discussion with Cardinal Parolin also touched on the crisis in Venezuela, with both agreeing that “humanitarian aid must be allowed into Venezuela because there are many people who are sick, there are no medicines.”

“The current government, for reasons of pride, is opposed to this,” he said. Another mutual interest, then, is “to look for a dialogue so that there is a transitional system of government.”

“We are all worried, we want to help,” he said. “We think that a country that has the largest petroleum reserves in the world deserves a better destiny for their inhabitants.”


Miguel Perez, Rome correspondent for CNA’s Spanish-language sister agency ACI Prensa, contributed to this article.

Cardinal Burke: Church divisions show urgent need for clarity

Catholic News Agency - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 00:38

Sydney, Australia, Sep 24, 2017 / 12:38 pm (CNA).- Amid the ongoing debate surrounding “Amoris Laetitia,” dubia author Cardinal Raymond Burke said in a new interview that he’s wrongly depicted as the “enemy” of Pope Francis, but he stressed that current division in the Church demands an answer to requests for clarity.

“The urgency of a response to the dubia derives from the harm done to souls by the confusion and error, which result, as long as the fundamental questions raised are not answered in accord with the constant teaching and practice of the Church,” Cardinal Burke said.

“The urgency weighs very heavily on my heart,” he said. In his experience, the cardinal said he's seen “a great deal of confusion, also people feeling that the Church is not a secure point of reference.”

“Some are feeling even a certain bewilderment...they are looking for a much stronger presentation of the Church’s doctrine.”

Cardinal Burke was one of four signatories of a letter submitted to Pope Francis last September outlining five dubia, or doubts, about the interpretation of his 2016 post-synodal apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia.”

That letter had been submitted to the Pope privately, but released to the public two months later, prompting a firestorm of media commentary and debate.

However, the cardinal also addressed the purported “conflict” between him and Pope Francis, stressing that the media portrayal of he and the Pope is inaccurate, and frequently “overdone.”

“It’s all a caricature. They depict Pope Francis as a wonderful, open person and there’s nothing wrong with that, but they depict me as just the opposite,” he said, explaining that this is done “to advance their own agenda.”

However, Pope Francis “is actually not in favor of their agenda. They use this kind of technique to make it seem like he is and that’s fundamentally dishonest,” Cardinal Burke said.

Neither is there an intention to build up resistance against the Pope, he continued, explaining that the image of him being the “enemy” who is trying to undermine the Pope “isn't the case at all.”

Cardinal Burke made his comments in a recent interview with Australian journalist Jordan Grantham, published Sept. 21 in Diocese of Parramatta’s online publicaton, “Catholic Outlook.”

The cardinal noted that as faithful Catholics, those who have expressed doubt or concern over the confusion surrounding “Amoris Laetitia” love the Pope “with complete obedience to the office of Peter.”

Yet at the same time, he said, “they don’t accept these questionable interpretations...of ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ interpretations, which in fact contradict what the Church has always taught and practiced.”

Without clarity on these issues, “people are in a very difficult state,” he said, explaining that this is demonstrated by the fact that bishops conferences have issued conflicting guidelines on how to interpret “Amoris Laetitia.”

In addition to Cardinal Burke, other signatories to the dubia letter were Cardinals Walter Brandmüller, president emeritus of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences; Carlo Caffarra, Archbishop Emeritus of Bologna; and Joachim Meisner, Archbishop Emeritus of Cologne.

Cardinals Meisner and Caffarra passed away within two months of each other over the summer, leaving Cardinals Burke and Brandmüller to carry forward the ongoing debate over the dubia.

Cardinal Burke’s latest interview was not related to the release of a letter signed by 62 Catholic clergy and scholars, the most notable being superior general Bishop Bernard Fellay of the breakaway Society of St. Pius X. That letter presented itself as a “filial correction” to Pope Francis for reputed errors and heresies.

Among other things, the letter argues that the Pope has either directly or indirectly perpetrated seven heresies, most of which surround comments he has made about Martin Luther and ambiguities in “Amoris Laetitia,” specifically related to the question of the reception of Holy Communnion by divorced-and-remarried Catholics who cannot get an annulment.

The letter also objects to the Pope’s silence in the face of the “dubia” submitted to the Pope by the four cardinals.

Like the four cardinals’ original dubia letter, the 25-page letter of “filial correction” was also sent to the Pope privately, but the signatories decided to publish it after having received no response from the Pope.

Neither Cardinal Burke nor Cardinal Brandmüller signed the document. According to a Tweet sent out by the traditionalist blog “Rorate Caeli,” which has provided favorable coverage of the document’s release, cardinals were not asked to sign. The letter was “step one only.”

In his interview, Cardinal Burke said that many lay people argue over “Amoris Laetita,” and “many priests are suffering in particular because the faithful come to them, expecting certain things that are not possible because they’ve received one of the these erroneous interpretations of ‘Amoris Laetitia’.”

As a result, these people no longer understand Church teaching, the cardinal said. And in the Church, “we have only one guide, the Magisterium, the teaching of the Church, but we now seem to be divided into so-called political camps.”

The at times volatile “attacks” from parties who disagree is “a very mundane way of approaching things, it has no place in the Church,” Cardinal Burke continued. “But that’s where we’re at right now.”

The only way for the conversation to move forward on these matters, he said, “is to make the point of reference the doctrine of the Church. That’s what unifies us.”

Cardinal Burke also cleared up what he said are several misconceptions about him that are often promoted by the media, namely that he is “only interested in doctrine and law,” and that he is “out of touch with the times and living in the Middle Ages.”

“I am very pastoral and in fact, I don’t see any contradiction between being pastoral and being faithful in announcing the Church’s teaching and following the Church’s law,” he said.

The cardinal insisted that he is also “very conscious of the everyday culture in which we live, and I try to address it, but in a way that is full of compassion in the sense of addressing the Church’s teaching to the cultural situation and trying to lead the culture to a certain transformation.”

Referring to those who at times paint a picture of the Pope as a great revolutionary changing the tide of the Church in modern times, the cardinal said being the Successor of Peter “has nothing to do with revolutions.” Rather, it involves “maintaining the Church in unity with her long and constant tradition.”

Many people also claim the Pope is somehow going against the Church’s centuries-long tradition, he said. “And that isn’t possible either, because the Roman Pontiff is that principle of unity, unity which is not only present now, but unity with those who have gone before over the centuries.

“In fact, the two are one. When we are unified with the saints and especially with the great teachers of the faith along the centuries, then we also find unity with one another.”

Offering a word to all those currently worried about the state of the Church, Cardinal Burke stressed the need to remain confident in the fact that it is Jesus Christ whom they encounter in the Church, and who comes to meet us.

“Therefore, no matter what confusion or even divisions enter into the Church, we should never give up hope,” he said.

“We should cling all the more faithfully to what the Church has always taught and practiced. And that way we will really save our own souls, with the help of God’s grace, which, of course, we must always be about.”

Vatican responds to allegations that ex-auditor was ousted

Catholic News Agency - Sun, 09/24/2017 - 22:25

Vatican City, Sep 24, 2017 / 10:25 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican has issued a response to allegations made by former auditor general Libero Milone, who, three months after mysteriously stepping down in the middle of a five-year mandate, has said he was “threatened” into resignation by an “old guard” opposed to his work.

The Vatican’s Sept. 24 statement voiced “surprise and regret” at the allegations. It said that by speaking out, Milone “failed in the agreement to keep confidential the reasons for his resignation from office,” the Vatican said, noting that according to the statutes of his department, Milone's task had been to “analyze the budgets and accounts” of the Holy See and its related administrations specifically.

“Unfortunately the office directed by Milone exceeded its powers and illegally commissioned an external firm to carry out investigative activities on the private lives of representatives of the Holy See,” the statement said.

“In addition to constituting a crime,” the act “irreparably crippled the trust placed in Mr. Milone, who, placed in front of his responsibilities, freely agreed to resign.”

Milone gave an interview to several media outlets Sept. 23, saying “I think the Pope is a great person, and he began with the best intentions.”

“But I’m afraid he was blocked by the old guard that’s still wholly there, which felt threatened when it understood that I could relate to the Pope and to Parolin what I had seen in the accounts. This is the logic,” he said.

According to his version of events, Milone, 69, said that in June he was falsely accused with “staged” allegations of a misuse of funds when he hired an outside firm to check security on computers in his office, and then “intimidated” into resigning from his position.

Milone said he wanted “to do good for the Church, to reform it like I was asked, but they wouldn’t let me.”
 
Speaking from his lawyer’s office, the former auditor made his comments to reporters from four different Italian and English language media outlets, including Italian paper Corriere della Sera, the Wall Street Journal, Reuters news agency and Italian TV channel SkyTg24.

He left his post in June without an explanation just two years into a five year mandate after being hired as the Vatican’s first Auditor General in a move to introduce more financial transparency in the Vatican City State.

Prior to coming to the Vatican, Milone had been chairman and CEO of the Deloitte global accounting firm in Italy, and had also worked for the United Nations and car enterprise Fiat.

At the time of his resignation, the Vatican said the act was done by “mutual agreement.” However, in his comments to media, Milone said this was not the case, but that he was intimidated into resigning when faced with threats of prosecution.

The Vatican statement in response to Milone’s comments made assurances that the investigations carried out were done “with every scruple and respect for the person.”

In his comments to media, Milone said he chose to speak out because in the past three months rumors have come out that are “offensive for my reputation and my professionalism.”

“I could no longer afford a small powerful group to expose my person for their shady games,” he said, explaining that he had always had a good relationship with the Pope, but for a year and a half prior to his resignation, he had been isolated and alienated from the Pope and other Vatican personnel.

Although he declined to give details due to non-disclosure agreements, Milone voiced his belief that he had been targeted after launching an investigation into a possible conflict of interest involving an Italian cardinal.

Describing his version of the chain of events that leading up to his resignation, Milone said he was called to the office of Archbishop Giovanni Becciu, the Vatican’s deputy Secretary of State, on June 19 and told that the Pope had lost faith in him and had requested his resignation.

When he asked why, Milone said he was given a series of explanations, “some of which seemed incredible.” When he asked to see the Pope, Milone said he was sent to Domenico Giani, head of the Gendarmeria, the Vatican’s police force, where he was interrogated for several hours.

After relocating to Milone’s office, the auditor said Giani yelled at him and demanded to have access to his computer and certain documents. Eventually Giani produced two receipts for payments he had made to the outside contractor that had checked security on the computers in his office.

The former auditor said one of the receipts was “a fake,” and voiced his belief that they had been fabricated as a result of a security check he had done after discovering unauthorized access to his computer and that spyware had been planted on his secretary’s computer in 2015.

After more questioning, Milone said he finally decided to sign a letter of resignation in order to “protect my family and my reputation.”

Milone said that when he offered to draft the letter, he was informed that one had already been written up, and was handed a letter dated for one month before his actual resignation took place, raising suspicious that the entire affair had been “staged.”

He also suggested that it might not be a coincidence that his own exit happened to coincide with the abuse charges recently raised against Cardinal George Pell, the architect of the Pope’s financial reform, the allegations of which started to come out around the same time that his efforts for reform were becoming increasingly controversial within the Vatican.

However, in comments to Reuters, Giani said there was “overwhelming evidence” against the former auditor, though he did not offer details.

Also in comments to Reuters, Archbishop Becciu said Milone had gone against “all the rules and was spying on the private lives of his superiors and staff, including me.” If he had not agreed to resign,” Becciu added, “we would have prosecuted him.”

Milone said he sent a letter to Pope Francis through a “secure channel” in July saying he was framed and “amazed” that his departure took place at the same time as that of Cardinal Pell, but has not received a response.

Pope Francis' 2015 speech to US Congress: still a challenge

The Vatican Today - Sun, 09/24/2017 - 20:45
(Vatican Radio) Two years ago this Sunday (September 24th), Pope Francis made history by delivering the first-ever address by a reigning Pope to the U.S. Congress . In his wide-ranging address, the Holy Father touched on issues ranging from the need for politics to serve the common good and the importance of cooperation and solidarity , to the dangers of fundamentalism , the refugee crisis , abolition of the death penalty , the need for courageous acts to avert environmental deterioration , the evils of the arms trade , and threats to the family from within and without. Pope Francis focused especially on four great figures from US history: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton, saying that each of them helped build a better future for the people of the U.S. Veteran Vatican reporter Cindy Wooden , who covered the historic event for Catholic News Service , told Vatican Radio that, two years on, the speech remains a challenge to lawmakers and citizens in the United States. Click below to hear the extended conversation “I wouldn’t say that his points were completely accepted and acted on,” Wooden told Vatican Radio, “but I think they are as much a challenge today – maybe even more so – than they were two years ago.” Wooden also said the Pope’s speech continues to be important in the current climate of discourse in the United States. “It’s an important reminder of the vocation of the politician,” she said. “The Pope use[d] in this speech, the same kind of vocational language that he would use for [the] priesthood or religious life: politics as a calling of service – and I think that, if politicians paid a little more attention to that right now, perhaps we’d be in a better spot.” Click below to hear Ciny Wooden’s extended conversation with Vatican Radio’s Alessandro Gisotti  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: God is calling you to work in his kingdom

Catholic News Agency - Sun, 09/24/2017 - 20:03

Vatican City, Sep 24, 2017 / 08:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- No one is “unemployed” when it comes to spreading the message of the Gospel, Pope Francis has said, because each one of us is called to take up the task and to do our own part in God’s plan of salvation.

“The message is this: in the Kingdom of God no one is unemployed, everyone is called to do their part,” the Pope said Sunday Sept. 24.

“And for everyone there will be the compensation of divine justice – not human (justice), fortunately! – which is the salvation that Jesus Christ acquired for us with his death and resurrection.”

This salvation is “not merited, but given,” Francis said, explaining that this is why Jesus in the Gospel says “the first shall be last and the last shall be first.”

He spoke to pilgrims present in St. Peter’s Square for his Sunday Angelus address, focusing on the day’s Gospel from Matthew which focuses on the parable of the landowner who hires men to work in his vineyard at all hours of the day, and in the end pays them all equally.  

Jesus tells his disciples this parable to communicate two different aspects of the Kingdom of God, Pope Francis said. The first is that “God wants to call everyone to work in his kingdom,” and the second is that “in the end he wants to give everyone the same reward, which is salvation, eternal life.”

When the end of the day comes and everyone is paid the same amount, no matter how many hours they worked, those who labored all day understandably complained, the Pope said, because they received the same amount as those who worked less.

However, the landowner reminds them that “they received what was agreed,” and if he wants to be generous, those who came earlier “should not be envious.”

The Pope said that in reality, “this ‘injustice’ of the landowner is used to provoke, in whomever listens to the parable, a jump in level, because Jesus does not want to speak about the problem of work and a just salary, but the Kingdom of God.”

In telling the parable, Jesus wants to open our hearts “to the logic of the Father, who is free and generous,” Francis said. This means to let ourselves be “amazed and fascinated” by the ways and thoughts of God, which, he noted, “are not our ways and thoughts.”

Rather, the thoughts of mankind are often marked by selfishness and personal gain, and frequently our “narrow and winding” paths are not comparable to those of the Lord, which are “broad and straight.”

“The Lord uses mercy, forgives widely and is full of generosity and goodness that pours onto each one of us, and opens to all the boundless territories of his love and grace, which alone can give the human heart the fullness of joy,” he said.

Jesus, Francis said, makes us contemplate the specific gaze of the landowner, which is “the gaze with which he sees each one of his laborers waiting for work” and is the gaze with which he calls us “to go into his vineyard.”

His gaze is also one that calls, invites one to get up and start walking, the Pope said, because the Lord wants the fullness of life for each person, one that is committed and “saved from emptiness and inertia.”

“God does not want to exclude anyone and he wants everyone to reach their fullness,” he said, adding that “this is love, the love of our Father.”

He closed his address asking that the Virgin Mary help us to welcome “the logic of love” into our lives, “which frees us from the presumption of earning the reward of God and from negative judgments of others.”

After leading pilgrims in the traditional Marian prayer, Pope Francis noted that Fr. Stanley Francis Rother was beatified Saturday in Oklahoma City.

Considered a martyr, Fr. Rother was killed in hatred of the faith “for his work of evangelization and of human promotion in favor of the most poor in Guatemala,” the Pope said.

He then prayed that Fr. Rother’s “heroic example” would help us to be “courageous witnesses of the Gospel, committing ourselves to promoting the dignity of the human being.”

Pope Francis at Angelus: embrace the logic of God's Kingdom

The Vatican Today - Sun, 09/24/2017 - 19:35
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis prayed the Angelus with pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday – the 25 th Sunday in Ordinary Time – focusing his remarks ahead of the traditional prayer of Marian devotion on the Parable of the Landowner and the Wage-earners, proclaimed as the Gospel reading of the day (Mt. 20:1-16). The Gospel at a glance In that story, Jesus likens the Kingdom of God to a landowner, who hires day-labourers in the early morning, and again at successive hours of the day, at the end of which he instructs his paymaster to give the full day’s wage to all the workers, beginning with those hired at the 11th hour. The labourers of the first hour complain of this treatment, to which the Landowner replies, “I am not cheating you. Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what is yours and go. What if I wish to give this last one the same as you? Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money? Are you envious because I am generous?” Jesus then explains the lesson, “Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.” Pope Francis reflects Reflecting on the passage, Pope Francis said, “In reality, the ‘injustice’ of the Landowner serves to provoke, in those who hear the parable, an increase in understanding (It. salto di livello ), because Jesus does not want to speak of the problem of labour and of just wages, but of the Kingdom of God.” The Holy Father went on to say, “The message is this: in the Kingdom of God there are now idle hands, all are called to do their part; and for all, at the end, the recompense shall be what comes from divine justice – not human justice, happily – i.e. the salvation that Jesus Christ has acquired with His death and resurrection. This is a salvation that is not merited, but given, for which, ‘The last shall be first, and the first shall be last’.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Bl Stanley Rother model of heroic witness

The Vatican Today - Sun, 09/24/2017 - 18:47
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis praised the virtue and example of Blessed Stanley Francis Rother on Sunday, one day after the secular missionary priest originally of Oklahoma in the United States was beatified as a martyr. Bl. Stanley was killed on July 28 th , 1981, after returning to Guatemala to minister to his flock, despite several death threats and warnings his life would be in danger. “Well, a shepherd cannot run from his flock,” he is quoted as saying in explanation of his decision to return in the face of such danger. In remarks to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square following the traditional Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis said, “[Saturday], in Oklahoma City, the missionary priest, Stanley Francis Rother, killed in hatred of the faith for his work of evangelization and work to promote the human dignity of the poorest people in Guatemala, was proclaimed Blessed. May his heroic example help us to be courageous witnesses to the Gospel, committed to working in behalf of the dignity of man.” (from Vatican Radio)...

SSPX bishop signs letter claiming Pope Francis enables error

Catholic News Agency - Sun, 09/24/2017 - 08:50

Rome, Italy, Sep 23, 2017 / 08:50 pm (CNA).- A letter presenting itself as a filial correction of Pope Francis for reputed errors and heresies has been signed by over 60 Catholic clergy and scholars, including most prominently Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior general of the breakaway traditionalist Society of St. Pius X group.

The letter to the Pope, dated July 16, says it concerns “the propagation of heresies effected by the apostolic exhortation ‘Amoris Laetitia’ and by other words, deeds and omissions of Your Holiness.” It claims the publication of the exhortation and other acts of the Pope has given “scandal concerning faith and morals” to the Church and to the world,

“While professing their obedience to his legitimate commands and teachings, they maintain that Francis has upheld and propagated heretical opinions by various direct or indirect means,” a press release accompanying the letter said of the signers. It added that the signers do not believe the Pope has propagated these opinions as dogmatic Church teachings and make no judgment about the Pope’s culpability.

The letter was delivered to Pope Francis on Aug. 11, the press release said.

Bishop Fellay reportedly learned of the document only after its delivery. The district superior of the Society of Pius X, Father Robert Brucciani, is also a signatory. The society’s leader in 1988 ordained four bishops without papal permission in 1988 and all five prelates were excommunicated. Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunications in 2009 and there have been continuing talks seeking to reconcile the society with the Church.

The letter to Pope Francis cites differences among the Catholic bishops and cardinals concerning the reception of Holy Communion by the divorced and remarried. It objects to the Pope’s silence in the face of the “dubia” submitted to the Pope by four cardinals seeking clarification of “Amoris Laetitia,” in September 2016.

It charges that the Pope’s actions have allowed Holy Communion to be received sacrilegiously by divorced people now living as husband and wife with someone not their spouse.

The letter claims the Pope has voiced “unprecedented sympathy” for Martin Luther and suggested there is an affinity between Luther’s ideas and the ideas of “Amoris Laetitia.” It also blames theological modernism for provoking a crisis within the Church.

Other signers include Dr. Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, past president of the Institution of Religious Works and an ethics professor at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan, as well Msgr. Antonio Livi, dean emeritus of the Pontifical Lateran University.

Some U.S.-based signers include Dr. Philip Blosser, a philosophy professor at the Detroit archdiocese’s Sacred Heart Major Seminary; Christopher Ferrara, president of the American Catholic Lawyers’ Association and a columnist in the hardline traditionalist Catholic newspaper The Remnant; and Dr. John Rao, a history professor at St. John’s University in New York City who directs the Roman Forum.

Pope Francis to Trappists: courageous witness to charism

The Vatican Today - Sat, 09/23/2017 - 21:45
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the participants in the General Chapter of the Order of Cistertians of the Strict Observance – the Trappists – which is taking place in Assisi from the 6 th to the 27 th of September. Click below to hear our report The OCSO at a glance Part of the larger Cistercian family, which traces its origin to 1098, the OCSO follow the Rule of St. Benedict , dedicating their lives to the search for union with God through Jesus Christ, in a community of sisters or brothers. All Cistercian monasteries are dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God, and the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Mother is the Order’s patronal feast. The OCSO General Chapter is the supreme authority in the Order, and is prepared by a Central Commission elected by the previous Chapter and whose members are chosen by the various regions of the Order. There are formally two separate Chapters: one for monks and one for nuns – though they meet together every three years, “to foster peace and charity among themselves and to make appropriate decisions for maintaining the patrimony and unity of the Order.” Pope to Trappists: courageous witness to permanent truths In remarks prepared for the occasion of the special audience with participants in the current General Chapter, and delivered Saturday morning in the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis said, “From the outset, the Cistercians of Strict Observance have made themselves known for their great sobriety of life, convinced that to concentrate on the essence and [thus] to reach more easily the joy of the spousal encounter with Christ, should be a valid help.” The Holy Father went on to say, “This element of spiritual and existential simplicity preserves all its value as a [mode of] witness in today’s cultural context, which too often leads to the desire for ephemeral goods and illusory artificial paradises.” “Throughout its history,” said Pope Francis, “your Order has known times of grace and moments of difficulty; but it has always persevered in fidelity to the sequela Christi , having as its purpose the glory of God and the good of the people.” He went on to say, “Continuing in the way of your spiritual tradition, may your read the present state of the Order in its shadows and lights, and in the novelty of the Spirit, identify with courage new possibilities and occasions to witness your charism in the present of the Church and of Society.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis makes surprise visit to Rome neuro rehab centre

The Vatican Today - Fri, 09/22/2017 - 23:57
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday made a surprise visit to a Rome rehabilitation centre for patients with neurological diseases. A statement from the Holy See press office said the afternoon visit was a continuation of the ‘Fridays of Mercy’ initiative that he inaugurated during the recent Jubilee Year to encourage practical gestures of solidarity with those most in need. The Santa Lucia Foundation, located to the south of Rome’s city centre, is well known for its quality care of patients affected by physical or mental disabilities resulting from strokes, bone marrow diseases, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis. Pope Francis was welcomed by the director and staff of the centre, as well as by the patients and their family members. The Holy Father spent time talking and laughing with many of the young children, watching with particular interest as he was shown some of the exercises which help them to regain their mobility. He also met with older patients, aged between 15 and 25, many of whom suffer from severe disabilities as a result of car accidents. Before leaving the centre, the pope visited a gym providing rehabilitation for the elderly and then spent a few minutes in prayer in a chapel located on the premises. (from Vatican Radio)...

Rise in immigration makes us missionaries at home, Pope Francis says

Catholic News Agency - Fri, 09/22/2017 - 23:41

Vatican City, Sep 22, 2017 / 11:41 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Friday, Pope Francis said that the mass arrival of migrants and refugees may have its challenges, but also gives us the opportunity to be missionaries – even without leaving home.

“Contemporary migratory flows constitute a new missionary ‘frontier,’ a privileged opportunity to announce Jesus Christ and his Gospel without moving from our own environment,” the Pope said Sept. 22.

In personal encounters with refugees and migrants, especially those from different faiths, we can “concretely bear witness to the Christian faith,” finding a “fertile ground for the development of a genuine and enriching ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.”

Pope Francis spoke about immigration in an audience with national directors of pastoral care for migrants. They were participating in a meeting organized by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) in Rome Sept. 21-23.

The Pope also said that the arrival of Christian, and particularly Catholic, migrants is an opportunity for the Church in Europe to more fully realize its catholicity, its universality, which is part of the Creed we confess every Sunday at Mass.

“In recent years, many particular Churches in Europe have been enriched by the presence of Catholic migrants who have brought their devotions and their liturgical and apostolic enthusiasm,” he said.

Faced with the massive and complex migration flows of the last several years, and the crisis it has presented for current migration policies, the Church intends simply to remain faithful to her mission: “to love Jesus Christ, to adore and love him, particularly in the poorest and most abandoned,” the Pope said.

The Church’s love towards her brothers and sisters from other countries is a maternal love which “demands to be manifested concretely at all stages of the migratory experience, from departure to journey, from arrival to return…”

And the hope is that each local Church can contribute to this in its own way according to its own abilities. “Recognizing and serving the Lord in these members of his ‘journeying people’ is a responsibility that unites all particular Churches in the profusion of a constant, coordinated and effective effort,” he stated.

In his experience listening to the local Churches in Europe, the Pope said that he senses a “profound discomfort” about the arrival of so many migrants and refugees.

He said he believes this discomfort must be acknowledged, and that it can be understood in light of recent economic crises faced by some countries. It may also be “exacerbated” by the scope of migratory flows, the unpreparedness of host countries, and inadequate national and community policies, he said.

But it also points us to the difficulty still faced in a concrete application of the universality of human rights; for Christians, the logic that the human person should be at the center of all our decisions, as a unique and unrepeatable creation by God.

Francis continued, saying that he would not hide the concern he feels at signs of intolerance, discrimination and xenophobia found in different regions of Europe, which he believes to be motivated by fear and distrust of “the other, the stranger.”

He said he is also worried when Catholic communities turn migrants away under the justification of preserving the original culture and religious identity.

“The Church has spread to all continents through the ‘migration’ of missionaries who were convinced of the universality of the message of salvation of Jesus Christ, intended for men and women of all cultures,” he said.

“In the history of the Church there has been no lack of temptations of exclusivity and the raising of cultural barriers, but the Holy Spirit has always helped us to overcome them, guaranteeing a constant openness to the other, considered as a concrete possibility of growth and enrichment.”

 

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