Catholic News Agency
Vatican City, Jul 11, 2017 / 06:22 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Tuesday Pope Francis declared a new category of Christian life suitable for consideration of beatification called “offering of life” – in which a person has died prematurely through an offering of their life for love of God and neighbor.
Though similar to martyrdom, this definition fits those Servants of God who have in some way given up their life prematurely for charity, though the circumstances may fall outside the strict definition of martyrdom, which requires the presence of a persecutor.
The changes were issued in a Motu proprio July 11, which formally added the particular case to the paths by which a person under investigation for beatification may be discerned to be worthy, in addition to the traditional three paths: martyrdom, a life of heroic virtue and the very rare “exceptional cases.”
The change in norms was made with the support of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which studied the matter during a plenary session Sept. 27, 2016.
In the apostolic letter, Pope Francis wrote that “They are worthy of special consideration and honor, those Christians who, following in the footsteps and teachings of the Lord Jesus, have voluntarily and freely offered their lives for others and have persevered until death in this regard.”
“It is certain that the heroic offering of life, suggested and supported by charity, expresses a true, full and exemplary imitation of Christ, and therefore deserves the admiration that the community of the faithful usually reserves to those who have voluntarily accepted the martyrdom of blood or have exercised in a heroic degree the Christian virtues,” the Pope continued.
The document is titled “maiorem hac dilectionem,” or “greater love than this,” after the verse from the Gospel of John which says: “No one has greater love than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.”
There are six new articles, including the first making “the offering of life” a new particular case in the beatification and canonization process, as distinguished from the particular cases of martyrdom and heroic virtue.
There are four criteria this case must meet in order to be “valid and efficacious” for the beatification of a Servant of God.
The first, that it is a “free and voluntary offer of life and heroic acceptance” – for the sake of charity – of a certain and non-lengthy death, showing “a connection between the offering of life and premature death.”
There also must have been the exercise, at least of an ordinary level, of the Christian virtues before the offering of life and up until the moment of death, as well as the existence of signs of and a reputation of holiness, at least after death.
And finally, the usual requirement of a confirmed miracle springing from the intercession of the Servant of God for beatification, after his or her death, must be in place.
The burden of responsibility for showing that an offering of life took place is on the diocese or eparchy submitting the positio – the collection of documents which give the evidence supporting the cause for sainthood – to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.
The remaining changes are largely an amendment of the pertinent norms from the 1983 documents "Divinus perfectionis Magister," Official Acts of the Holy See Vol. LXXV, and “New Laws for Causes of Saints,” to include the term “offering of life” alongside that of “martyrdom” and “virtues.”
Vatican City, Jul 11, 2017 / 03:01 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The norms regarding gluten and Communion hosts that went viral this weekend are nothing new in the Catholic Church.
On Saturday morning, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments issued a circular letter to bishops reiterating existing norms regarding the matter of the Eucharist, including the norm that Communion hosts must contain some amount of gluten to be valid matter for consecration.
By Saturday night, the (misconstrued) news had spread like wildfire: “Catholic Church bans celiacs from Communion!” many media outlets declared. It was such a hot topic that Twitter declared it a “moment” in world news.
But these were existing norms - there was no change, no announcement of new norms, nor banning of celiacs from the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Gluten-free hosts have always been invalid matter for the sacrifice of the Mass, meaning that Catholics with celiac disease have already grappled with other options for Communion.
Usually, such “reminder” letters are issued when someone, generally a bishop, has raised a question or has been alerted of a possible abuse of the norm.
Still, the letter left lingering questions regarding people with celiac disease (or those with other serious allergies to wheat) and Communion. Here’s what the Church, and Catholics with celiac disease, have to say about going gluten free for Communion.
Why must a Communion host contain at least some gluten?
Wheat bread and wine of the grape are the matter of the sacrament of the Eucharist because Christ instituted the sacrament under these species. Moreover, Christ compared himself to a grain of wheat, and to the vine.
At some point along the line the question of gluten came arose, and whether the bread used for Holy Communion necessitated at least some gluten (and its accompanying protein gliadin) to be considered wheat bread that was valid matter for the sacrament.
A July 2003 circular letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, noting documents from the 1980s and '90s, recalled that “Hosts that are completely gluten-free are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist.”
It added that “Low-gluten hosts (partially gluten-free) are valid matter, provided they contain a sufficient amount of gluten to obtain the confection of bread without the addition of foreign materials and without the use of procedures that would alter the nature of bread.”
And in 2004 the Congregation for Divine Worship wrote in its instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum that “The bread used in the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharistic Sacrifice must be unleavened, purely of wheat, and recently made so that there is no danger of decomposition. It follows therefore that bread made from another substance, even if it is grain, or if it is mixed with another substance different from wheat to such an extent that it would not commonly be considered wheat bread, does not constitute valid matter for confecting the Sacrifice and the Eucharistic Sacrament.”
That said, the Church recognizes that it mustn't exclude from receiving Communion Catholics with celiac disease, and has made accommodation for those who are unable to consume normal bread.
Options celiacs have for Communion: Advice from a priest with celiac disease
A layperson affected by celiac disease who is unable to receive even a low-gluten host may receive Communion under the species of wine only.
A priest in a similar situation, when taking part in a concelebration, may with permission of the Ordinary receive Communion under the species of wine only. But such a priest may not celebrate the Eucharist individually, nor may he preside at a concelebration.
Father Joseph Faulkner, a priest of the diocese of Lincoln, was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2008.
Already a priest, he had to receive special permission from his diocese to use low-gluten hosts in order to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass.
Fr. Faulkner told CNA he was surprised that the letter regarding communion norms exploded so quickly on Twitter, but he saw it as a teachable moment.
The problem of gluten is especially pressing for priests, who must consume Communion under both species at a Mass which they celebrate individually.
For Father Faulkner, he has found that the best low-gluten hosts are made by the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Clyde, Missouri. The sister’s website includes a page about proper storage and distribution of low-gluten hosts so as to avoid cross-contamination.
While the hosts are not low-gluten enough to be considered gluten free (which is understood to be less than 20 parts per million), they are low enough to be approved by the Celiac Support Association, which has some of the most stringent guidelines available on what celiacs can safely consume, Father said.
“I throw up if I eat bread, but I consume 8-9 large, low gluten hosts per week, and have done that for 9 years, and I don’t get sick from them,” he told CNA.
Father Faulkner said he recommended that any celiac wary of the low-gluten hosts obtain a few of them, unconsecrated, and try tiny particles to see if they are able to safely consume them.
For celiacs who are unable to receive these low-gluten hosts, Fr. Faulkner said “the safest and most certain thing a person could do would be to ask to receive (the Precious Blood) from a chalice other than the chalice that the priest uses.”
That’s because the chalice of wine that the priest uses contains the frumentum - the little bit of Host dropped in during the Angus Dei. To avoid any cross-contamination, a separate chalice is necessary.
“That’s the most certain way, and when you receive the Precious Blood, you receive Jesus’ body, blood, soul and divinity, so you don’t have to worry” about only receiving part of the sacrifice, he said.
For those who are able to receive the low gluten hosts, travelling with a sleeve of unconsecrated hosts can be a way to ensure that they can receive Communion in different parishes, Fr. Faulkner said.
“Just go up to the pastor and explain, ‘Hi, I’m a celiac, can I have one of these hosts consecrated on a separate paten?’” he said. “Because parishes want to be accommodating, but if they don’t have a celiac in their parish they’re probably not going to stock (low-gluten hosts) in their fridge.”
The lay Catholic experience: What it’s like finding gluten-free Communion
Michelle De Groot is a layperson with celiac disease in the Diocese of Arlington. She said that for a long time, she would approach priests in the sacristy before Mass to ask them to consecrate a separate chalice of wine, so that she could safely receive without cross-contamination.
“That was always kind of stressful because sometimes the priest would understand what I was talking about and sometimes not. And they didn't always have a second chalice handy,” De Groot told CNA.
“So sometimes I'd just receive anyway from the cup with (the frumentum) and sometimes I'd make a spiritual communion instead,” she said. A spiritual communion is a uniting of oneself to the Sacrifice of the Mass through prayer, and can be made whether one is able to receive Communion or not.
Then, De Groot found out about the low-gluten altar breads made by the Benedictine Sisters. After doing her research, she decided to try these hosts, since they are approved as celiac-safe.
“I've never had any symptoms,” she said. De Groot says she also travels with her own supply of low-gluten hosts and a pyx (a small, round container for hosts) that allow her to receive Communion at parishes that may otherwise be unprepared.
She said while her celiac diagnosis was an emotional one for her at first, it has allowed her to establish relationships with priests and Eucharistic ministers at her parish and other churches she frequents.
“At my home (parish), it's even not the end of the world if i'm running a few minutes late because they know me and my needs - whereas when I was first diagnosed, I had to get to church 15 minutes ahead to give time for the awkward explanations,” she said.
“If anything, celiac has been good for me in terms of my relationship to my parishes - I'm not an isolated stranger there, I'm known!”
Molly O’Connor is also a Catholic with celiac disease, who expressed similar frustrations with trying to make sure the Communion she received was both valid and safe. Having lived in six local Churches throughout the country, she said experiences varied widely from parish to parish.
“I typically just receive the cup at Communion, and I try both to sit in a part of the church where Communion is distributed by a priest so I may receive a blessing and near a cup that doesn't have part of the host in it. If that sounds complicated, it is!” she said.
Travelling can be difficult, she said, as it can be hard to know whom to approach about receiving Communion. Parishes also often don’t announce whether they have low-gluten hosts, or how low-gluten they are, and not all parishes are conscious about cross-contamination, she said.
The U.S. Bishops issued a letter in 2012, updated in April 2016, regarding low-gluten and gluten-free communion options, as well as guidelines to avoid cross-contamination that can be found here.
O’Connor said the best situations have been when priests consecrate a separate chalice for her, and when parishes announce specifics about low-gluten or gluten-free options.
“As the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Catholic faith, I think making Communion accessible to celiac and gluten-sensitive Catholics, in a manner consistent with Vatican and the U.S. Bishop’s norms, is paramount,” she said.
“How diminished is our faith life if we are unable to share in the paschal mystery with our fellow Catholics?”
Vatican City, Jul 10, 2017 / 10:34 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Sunday, the Catholic Church held a special day to remember the hard work and challenges surrounding the occupation of sailors and other maritime workers, who are responsible for transporting roughly 90 percent of the world’s goods.
Cardinal Peter Turkson, head of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, sent a message for “Sea Sunday” July 9, urging people to remember in prayer sailors and their families, who work under challenging conditions in order to make our lives better.
“In our daily lives, we are surrounded by and use many objects and products that at some stage of their journey towards us have been transported on vessels. It is difficult for us to imagine behind these objects the faces of the many seafarers who have secured a smooth sailing for the vessel to deliver these commodities to the port safely,” Cardinal Turkson wrote.
“On Sea Sunday we are invited to recognize and express our gratitude to this force of more than 1.5 million seafarers, (the majority of them coming from developing countries), who with their hard work and sacrifices are making our life more comfortable…”
Though sailors are indispensable to the transportation of the world's goods, there are often many challenges to their dignity, alongside the many difficulties in their lives and the lives of their families, the cardinal pointed out.
He drew attention to five of these difficulties in particular, including the long periods away from their families and the increased risk of isolation and loneliness.
“In spite of the great progress in technology, which has improved communication between seafarers and their loved ones, the long months away from the family are still a huge sacrifice that often reflects negatively on family life,” he said.
“Mothers are left alone, forced to play multiple roles with children growing up with an absent father. It is important that in our pastoral ministry, we pay special attention to the families of seafarers by initiating and supporting the creation of seafarer’s wives groups to provide mutual care and assistance.”
Though social media and technology may give seafarers a greater connection to people around the world, he pointed out, on the other hand it may also create a greater distance from their fellow crew members.
This can lead to isolation, loneliness, and depression, which is a common ailment in this profession, illustrated by the sobering rates of suicide, the foremost cause of death among seafarers.
For those who work in maritime ministry, “our function especially during visits on board is to try to create a ‘human connection’ and strengthen the ‘human communication,’” Cardinal Turkson said.
Another challenge is the increase in security at ports, brought about by the rise in terrorism. This increase may restrict seafarers’ access to the port, keeping them from disembarking. It may also restrict the access of welfare visitors, preventing them from coming on board.
We understand the need for security for the protection of people and goods, Cardinal Turkson noted, but “on the other hand, we must make sure that no one will be discriminated against and prevented to go ashore because of nationality, race or religion.”
We must also “advocate for the fundamental right of the crews to ‘have access to shore-based facilities and services to secure their health and well-being,’” as per Maritime Labor Convention regulations.
Despite the minimum international requirements of the human and labor right of seafarers, crews may still be cheated out of their salary, exploited, abused in their work, unjustly criminalized for maritime accidents and even abandoned in foreign ports, Cardinal Turkson continued, calling on the maritime authorities to be vigilant in preventing these abuses.
And lastly, though the threat of piracy has decreased in recent years, the “danger of armed attacks and hijackings is still very high in some geographical areas.”
“We would like to invite the maritime community not to let down the guard and to implement all the necessary measures that will guarantee the safety and the protection not only of the cargo but most of all, of the crew.”
Apostleship of the Sea, or Stella Maris, is a Catholic organization which provides pastoral care for seafarers and their families. Their next World Congress, held every five years, will take place in Kaohsiung, Taiwan in October of this year.
The focus of the congress this year is fishermen and fishing, Cardinal Turkson said. Like seafarers, fishermen also spend a long time at sea. And despite being considered one of the most dangerous professions in the world, they still receive low wages and benefits.
The congress, with qualified speakers and presenters, will increase awareness of and attention to this issue and the issues of human trafficking and forced labor in fishing, as well as Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing.
“We will strengthen our network with the objective to increase cooperation between the Apostleship of the Sea of the different nations; we will share resources and best practices to develop specific skills, particularly in the fishing sector,” he concluded.
“Let us ask Mary, Star of the Sea, to sustain our service and dedication to seafarers, fishermen and their families and to protect all the people of the sea until they reach the ‘safe port’ of heaven.”
Vatican City, Jul 9, 2017 / 09:16 am (CNA/EWTN News).- During his 22 years as spokesman for St. John Paul II, Dr. Joaquin Navarro-Valls became somewhat of a legend in the Vatican – not only for his keen professional abilities and insight into the Pope's mind, but also for his genuine kindness and deep spiritual life.
In a word, most who knew the late Spanish layman, who died earlier this week, have referred to him as a “gentleman” who was elegant, professional, kind and incredibly savvy.
Fr. John Wauck, a longtime friend of Navarro-Valls, described him as “an old-school gentleman and a consummate professional – capable, discreet, committed, loyal.”
Likewise, Greg Burke, current Director of the Holy See Press Office, said after announcing news of Navarro's passing on Twitter that “Joaquin Navarro embodied what Ernest Hemingway defined as courage: grace under pressure.”
Burke said that he had met Navarro-Valls while working as a correspondent for Time Magazine the same year that the publication had named St. John Paul II “Man of the Year.”
In dealing with the Pope's spokesman, Burke said “I expected to find a man of faith, but I found a man of faith who was also a first class professional” that was already well known and respected by his peers in the communications world.
“I didn't always agree with Navarro, but he always behaved like a Christian gentlemen – and those can be hard to find these days,” Burke said.
Navarro-Valls was born in Cartagena, Spain in 1936. He studied medicine at the Universities in Granada and Barcelona, and worked as a professional psychiatrist and teaching medicine before obtaining degrees in journalism and communications.
He joined Opus Dei after meeting its founder St. Josemaria Escriva, continuing to collaborate with the founder in Rome, where he moved in 1970.
In Rome he was a correspondent for the Spanish newspaper ABC and was twice elected president of the Rome-based Foreign Press Association in Italy.
He was the first lay journalist to hold the position of Director of the Vatican Press Office, which he was appointed to by Pope St. John Paul II in 1984. He served through the Pope’s death and two years into the pontificate of Benedict XVI before retiring in 2006.
After, he served as president of the advisory board of the Opus Dei-affiliated Campus Biomedical University in Rome until his death.
In his tenure at the Vatican Press Office spanning more than two decades, Navarro-Valls helped to modernize Vatican communications, especially as technology advanced. As Burke said, “he lived through the fax to the age of the internet.”
In 1992, he used $2 million to equip the press office with up-to-date technology and to modernize the facilities. He also streamlined the distribution of materials by making archives, documents and the Pope's activities accessible online.
He died in Rome July 5 surrounded by fellow members of Opus Dei after battling terminal cancer. His funeral was held Thursday, July 6 at 11a.m. at the basilica of Sant'Eugenio, and was celebrated by the Vicar General of Opus Dei, Bishop Mariano Fazio.
Mario Biasetti, a journalist under the last five popes and a friend and colleague of Navarro-Valls, said he was a professional journalist, and it showed in everything he did.
Even when a colleague or a journalist would ask him a tough question, “it didn’t faze him,” Biasetti said. “He would tell you exactly what happened, but he would do it with a smile.”
“Joachin Navarro was a very well thought of man all-around. He had no difficulty to speak with anybody, whether officially or not officially.”
Biasetti traveled on many papal trips with John Paul II, and Navarro was always there and always by his side, he said. He was also always willing to pitch in and “always came through” for journalists with whatever they needed.
For Burke, one of the key things that stood out about Navarro-Valls is that he was someone who would work “shoulder-to-shoulder with the rest of us,” who “knew the world” and was good with languages.
Burke noted that before coming to the Vatican, Navarro worked as a correspondent, “and his colleagues from around the globe clearly recognized his merits, electing him President of the Stampa Estera in Rome.”
“I remember watching Navarro closely during the U.N. Population Conference in Cairo – one of the best examples of what Pope Francis calls ideological colonization. It was fascinating to see someone who was defending the faith, but he wasn’t on the defensive. He was leading the fight.”
Asked about what, if any, advice he had given Burke on doing the job, the spokesman said the advice he got “was more personal than professional, such as ‘don't neglect your interior life, and make sure you pray – you'll need it in this job.’”
This attention to the spiritual life is something that was also obvious to others who worked with Navarro. In Biasetti's words, the Spaniard “was a journalist, yes, but he was also a churchman.”
Fr. Wauck, a professor of the Institutional Church Communications faculty at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome and a fellow member of Opus Dei, recalled that this spiritual dynamic was evident even in Navarro's work.
The priest said that when he thinks of Navarro, the first thing that comes to mind is “the conversion of the Time magazine reporter Wilton Wynn,” a well-known old-time reporter in the Middle East and Rome during John Paul II's pontificate.
“Naturally, it was the vibrant Christian example of the Pope that attracted Wilton to the faith, but his long friendship with Navarro-Valls played a key part as well,” Wauck said, adding that Navarro-Valls “maintained an affectionate concern for Wilton’s spiritual well-being for the rest of his life.”
Another memory the priest recalled is “a small act of kindness” that took place over the summer some 15 years ago.
Fr. Wauck said that he had mentioned, in passing, in front of Navarro, that he had broken his swimming goggles. “The next day, I found a new pair on my desk, and they were much better than the ones I’d broken.”
Fr. Federico Lombardi, Navarro-Valls' immediate successor as Director of the Holy See Press Office, also reflected on his relationship with his late predecessor, calling to mind Navarro's character and impact on Vatican communications.
Lombardi recalled meeting Navarro after coming to Rome in 1991 to take on the role as Director of Programming for Vatican Radio.
After meeting and working alongside the Spaniard, particularly when the Pope traveled abroad, it immediately became clear that he was “a stable and important component” of the papal entourage, “but also likeable, friendly and cordial,” Lombardi said.
“Naturally I already knew him for his fame as a brilliant and competent 'spokesman' for the Pope,” he said, noting that the official title for someone in Navarro's position is “Director of the Holy See Press Office.”
However, in the case of Navarro-Valls, spokesman “was an entirely appropriate name.”
Even if this wasn't the official description of his duty - which was rather "Director of the Press Office" - it must be said that in his case it was an entirely appropriate name given the close relationship he had with John Paul II.
According to Lombardi, it was Navarro himself who often stressed that it was “absolutely necessary to have – and to indeed have – a direct relationship with the Pope, in order to know his thinking and line of thought with surety and clarity, and to be able to present himself to the world, to the Press Office and to public opinion as an authoritative interpreter of that thought, and not just hearsay.”
Throughout Navarro's lengthy tenure working in the Vatican, there was absolutely “no doubt” that “he was very close to the Pope, so close that he must be considered one of the most important figures of that extraordinary pontificate.”
This, Lombardi said, is “not only because of his evident public visibility, but also for his role as intervention and advice. Certainly John Paul II had great confidence in him and held his service in high esteem.”
Burke, who is Lombardi's successor as Director of the Holy See Press Office, referred to this relationship when he announced Navarro’s passing, posting a photo of him standing next to John Paul II with a big smile.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="tl" dir="ltr">Joaquin Navarro, 1936-2017.<br>Keep Smiling. <a href="https://t.co/VCqL4GH5sS">pic.twitter.com/VCqL4GH5sS</a></p>— Greg Burke (@GregBurkeRome) <a href="https://twitter.com/GregBurkeRome/status/882672100091322370">July 5, 2017</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
“I tweeted out a photo of Navarro-Valls and John Paul II smiling together, saying ‘Navarro, keep smiling.’ But I actually took that quote from John Paul II,” he said.
It was after a meeting between the Pope and the editors of Time Magazine, Burke explained. Navarro was standing off to the side a little, but smiling, happy with how things had gone and Pope St. John Paul II, noticing, said to him in English: “keep smiling.”
“You could tell that they had a very, very good relationship,” he said.
When it came to Navarro's professional abilities, Lombardi said that at U.N. conferences the Spaniard would end up playing a primary and even diplomatic role, thanks to his “experience and communicative ability.”
“His intelligence, elegance and relational abilities were prominent. To that is added a great knowledge of languages and a true genius in presenting news and information content in a brilliant, attractive and concise way,” Lombardi said.
These are all gifts that made Navarro “an ideal person as a point of reference in the Vatican for the international information providers, but also for relations” with people in the public, communications and political spheres.
As both a layman and a consecrated member of Opus Dei, Navarro could be counted on as a competent and respected professional, but also as someone “whose dedication and faithful love of the Church could really be counted on, for the effective availability of both time and heart.”
For Lombardi, the lengthy duration of Navarro's service as Director of the Press Office, his authoritativeness, efficiency and the quality of his work make his tenure “an age that will likely remain unique in the history of the Press Office and of Vatican communications.”
“Certainly, the dimension of communications and public relations in the immense pontificate of John Paul II cannot in any way be independent of Dr. Navarro's work and personality,” he said. “It was an invaluable service to the Church.”
Lombardi voiced his gratitude to Navarro, specifically for the “courtesy and attention” he showed during the time they worked together.
“I always considered him a teacher in the way of carrying out his service and I never would have imagined to be called to succeed him,” Lombardi said, adding that his predecessor was “totally inimitable.”
“In the context of a different pontificate I tried to interpret and carry out the task assigned to me as best as I knew how, but preserving, for what was possible, his precious legacy,” he said.
Lombardi and Navarro remained friends even after the latter stepped down. For Lombardi, his predecessor was always “an example of a discreet, true and deep spiritual life, fully integrated with his work, a model of dedication to the service of the Pope and the Church, a teacher in communications.”
“Even for me – as I already said, but I willingly repeat – he was inimitable.”
Vatican City, Jul 9, 2017 / 07:08 am (CNA/EWTN News).- When life gets hard, Jesus especially invites us to turn to him, Pope Francis said.
"Jesus knows how hard life can be," Pope Francis said.
But at those moments, his invitation is: "Come."
The Pope made his remarks to the audience gathered in St. Peter's Square for his Sunday Angelus address. He based his reflections on the day's Gospel passage in Matthew: "Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest."
It can be easy to be tempted to turn in on ourselves when things are going badly, Pope Francis said. But Jesus wants to pull us out of this despairing "quicksand" through a loving relationship.
We might be tempted to find our rest in other things of this world, the Pope said, but those things are like fireworks, which burn out quickly.
We must learn to turn outside of ourselves during our times of need, but even this is not enough - we have to know where to go, he said, which must be to Jesus, who says "Come to me."
However, if we go to Jesus expecting that he will instantly fix all of our problems, we are looking for the wrong thing, he said.
"Jesus does not take the Cross away from us," the Pope said. "Rather, he carries it with us."
He helps us bear our burdens and gives us peace of heart even in the most difficult moments of life, the Holy Father said.
We know this because Jesus himself repeats it in the Gospel reading today: "Learn from me…and you will find rest for your life."
He never says that the burden goes away, but that "my yoke is easy, and my burden light."
"Let us learn to go to Jesus," Pope Francis said. "And while, in these summer months, we seek some respite from those things that weary the body, let us not forget to find true rest in the Lord."
Vatican City, Jul 8, 2017 / 05:51 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a new letter to bishops, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments denounced abuses against the Eucharist and "lack of respect in the sacred sphere," and reiterated existing norms regarding the Eucharist at Mass.
The letter, issued at the request of Pope Francis, reminds bishops of the norms concerning the Eucharist matter indicated in the Code of Canon Law and the Roman Missal, and explained in the Instruction Redemptionis Sacramentum of this Congregation of March 25, 2004.
According to those norms, "the bread used in the Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist must be unleavened, of only wheat and made recently, so that there is no danger of it being corrupted." Therefore, "bread made with other substances" can not constitute the valid matter for the realization of the Sacrifice and the Eucharistic Sacrament.
In addition, they emphasized that "it is a serious abuse to introduce other substances such as fruit, sugar or honey in the manufacture of bread for the Eucharist."
As for wine, it states that it "must be natural, from the fruit of the vine, pure and without corrupting, without mixing of foreign substances," and insists that no other drinks “of any kind to be admitted for any reason, as they do not constitute valid matter.”
The letter also addressed norms regarding gluten-free hosts.
“Hosts that are completely gluten-free are invalid matter for the celebration of the Eucharist. Low-gluten hosts (partially gluten-free) are valid matter, provided they contain a sufficient amount of gluten to obtain the confection of bread without the addition of foreign materials and without the use of procedures that would alter the nature of bread,” the letter states.
The Congregation also issued a norm regarding GMOs, saying that “Eucharistic matter made with genetically modified organisms can be considered valid matter.”
In the letter, the Congregation emphasized that it is primarily the responsibility of diocesan bishops to ensure that these norms are being followed and that abuse is not occurring in their parishes.
Finally, it suggests that bishops work together to carry out out “the necessary checks on production, conservation and sale of the Eucharistic bread and wine in a given country and for other countries to which they are exported. It is recommended that the bread and wine to be used in the Eucharist be treated accordingly in the places where they are sold.”
Vatican City, Jul 8, 2017 / 04:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Friday Pope Francis said that just like the biblical tax collectors, despite our sinfulness, Jesus seeks us out to be near us and to heal us, as long as we have the humility to recognize that we need him.
"First of all we must recognize this: none of us, none of us here, can say, 'I am not a sinner.' The Pharisees said this. And Jesus condemns them," the Pope said July 7.
"They were proud, vain, they believed themselves to be superior to others. Instead, we are all sinners. It is our title and it is also the opportunity to attract Jesus to us. Jesus comes to us, comes to me, comes to me because I am a sinner."
Francis spoke at a private Mass Friday morning for the maintenance staff of Vatican City. In his homily, he reflected on the day's Gospel from St. Matthew, which tells how Jesus called St. Matthew to follow him, dining with him and with other "tax collectors and sinners."
This scene from the Gospel is also depicted in a famous painting by Caravaggio called "The Calling of Saint Matthew," which Pope Francis said he used to go and see in the Church of San Luigi dei Francesi, when he would visit Rome back before he was Pope.
"This consoles me so much," the Pope said, "because I think Jesus came for me. Because we are all sinners. All."
This is our consolation and our faith, he continued. That Jesus always forgives us, healing our soul. Even if you think you are weak, that you will just fall into sin again, Jesus will raise you, "heal you always," he said.
“Jesus came for sinners, not for the righteous. They do not need it. Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick, go to find out what it means I want mercy and not sacrifices. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'”
“When I read these words,” he said, “I feel called by Jesus, and we can all say the same: Jesus came for me. Each of us.”
Even in the bad times, when we slip up or feel the weight of the many things we have done wrong, Jesus loves you regardless. “Do not be afraid,” Francis said.
The Pope explained how it makes him think of a step in the spiritual life of St. Jerome. The saint was praying and working for the Lord, but still something was missing. The Lord wanted him to give him his sins, the Pope said.
“Today, on this first Friday,” he concluded, “we think of the heart of Jesus, who helps us understand this beautiful thing, with a merciful heart, who only says to us: ‘Give me your weaknesses, give me your sins, I will forgive all.’ Jesus forgives everything, forgives always. May this be our joy.”
Vatican City, Jul 7, 2017 / 08:23 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- What is Pope Francis’ idea of art?
A new documentary titled ‘Pope Francis – My idea of art,’ delves into the Roman Pontiff’s artistic side and explore what art personally means to the Pope through a series of his favorite works.
“The art of mercy is truly Pope Francis’ idea of art,” stated Barbara Jatta, Director of the Vatican Museums, according to Vatican Radio.
“It is the art that is directed toward the humble. And the Vatican Museums correspond directly to the Pope’s message on art,” Jatta continued.
The documentary was produced by the Vatican Museums and Imago Film and is based on the 2015 book written by the Holy Father and journalist Tiziana Lupi with the same title. While the book is currently only published in Italian, the new documentary will be made available in 6 languages through subtitles.
The film highlights eleven works of both classical and contemporary art from the Vatican’s collection that embody Pope Francis’ ideal message of art, which is “evangelizing and contrasting a throwaway culture.”
The documentary features drone shots and unique cinematography of St. Peter’s Square and Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican Gardens. The film is narrated by Pope Francis himself and also features excerpts from Sandro Barbagallo, curator at the Vatican Museums, and from the author of the book, Tiziana Lupi.
Among the Pope’s chosen works of art are the Belvedere Torso, the Sistine Chapel, a 1984 Renault, a scrap metal statue of Our Lady of Luján by Argentine sculptor Alejandro Marmo, and The Deposition by Caravaggio.
According to the Holy Father, these featured works of art contrast the current culture of waste and point toward a way of evangelization.
“The artist is a witness of the invisible and works of art are the clearest proof that the incarnation is possible,” Pope Francis narrates in the documentary.
The previous two pontificates have also been vocal about their appreciation for art, and both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have written about the importance of beauty. However, this is the first time that a pope has been featured in a film for his vision on art.
The 45-minute documentary will be released worldwide over the next few months and will also be featured in various theaters across the globe, although there is no official release date. The Vatican also has plans to submit the film for the 2018 Academy Awards.
Vatican City, Jul 7, 2017 / 06:14 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis on Friday approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Hanna Chrzanowska, a Polish nurse and nursing instructor who died from cancer in 1973, paving the way for her beatification.
The Pope met July 7 with the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, giving his approval for the cause to move forward, along with the causes of five persons recognized for their heroic virtue.
He also recognized the martyrdom of two persons killed in hatred of the faith, Bishop Jesús Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve of Arauca, killed near Fortul, Colombia in 1989 and diocesan priest Fr. Pietro Maria Ramírez Ramos, killed on April 10, 1948 in Armero, Colombia.
Venerable Hanna Chrzanowska was born in Warsaw on October 7, 1902 to a family known for their charitable work. She finished high school at a school run by Ursuline sisters in Krakow and after graduating in 1922 attended nursing school in Warsaw.
She became an Oblate with the Ursuline Sisters of St. Benedict.
From 1926-1929 she worked as an instructor at the University School of Nurses and Hygienists in Krakow. For 10 years she held the position of editor of the monthly "Piel?gniarka Polska" (“Nurse Poland”), also publishing her own work in the field of nursing.
During this period, she also grew closer to God, joining in the work of the Catholic Association of Polish Nurses in 1937.
Poland saw the outbreak of World War II in 1939. After the war and after the opening of a university school of maternity and nursing in Krakow, she worked as the head of the department dedicated to home nursing.
She was especially dedicated to the proper formation and preparation of her students, including offering advice and assistance while accompanying her students on visits to patients confined at home.
In 1966 she contracted cancer. Despite operations, the disease spread and eventually led to her death on April 29, 1973 in Krakow.
With approval of the miracle, a date can be set for her beatification, likely to take place in Poland.
Another cause moving forward is that of Sister Maria Elisabetta Mazza. Born in 1886 in Martinengo, Italy, she was an elementary school teacher from 1911 onward and was a leading figure in the Catholic Teachers' Association, called "Niccolò Tommaseo," which helped to revive Catholic education after the war.
She also founded a religious institution of teachers, called the Congregation of the Little Apostles of the Christian School, which focused on working for the good of society, particularly in the area of education of young people.
After the Second World War, she supported the revival of the "Niccolò Tommaseo" organization, under the new name of the "Italian Association of Catholic Teachers."
She died on Aug. 29, 1950 in Bergamo, Italy.
The other persons now declared 'Venerable' are: Archbishop Ismaele Perdomo of Bogota (1872-1950); Sister Paola of Jesus Gil Cano, foundress of the Congregation of Franciscan Sisters of the Most Pure Conception (1849-1913); Luigi Kosiba (Pietro), layman professed in the Order of Friars Minor (1855-1939); Sister Maria Crocifissa dell'Amore Divino (Maria Gargani), foundress of the Congregation of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart (1892-1973).
Vatican City, Jul 6, 2017 / 08:23 am (National Catholic Register).- Pope St. John Paul II’s former spokesman, Dr. Joaquìn Navarro-Valls, has died at the age of 80.
A numerary of Opus Dei and a trained doctor, the Spanish journalist had been diagnosed with terminal cancer some weeks ago.
He passed away at 8:41 this evening at home after being discharged from the Opus Dei-run Campus Biomedico hospital in Rome.
His current successor, Holy See Press Office Director Greg Burke, announced the news yesterday with the following tweets:
Joaquin Navarro. RIP. Grace under pressure.
— Greg Burke (@GregBurkeRome) July 5, 2017 The Vatican's chief spokesman from 1984 to 2006, Navarro-Valls had an influential role during John Paul II’s pontificate, helping the late Pontiff to communicate effectively and bringing the papacy into the modern age of social communications.
He resigned as spokesman on July 11, 2006 and was replaced by Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi.
Joaquin Navarro, 1936-2017.
Keep Smiling. pic.twitter.com/VCqL4GH5sS
— Greg Burke (@GregBurkeRome) July 5, 2017
Vatican City, Jul 5, 2017 / 03:30 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A Vatican official confirmed yesterday that Bambino Gesu hospital has had past problems that the Vatican has worked to resolve.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, said at a Vatican press conference July 4 that a recently-released report on the hospital from the Associated Press contained some things that were “clearly unfounded” but also highlighted valid issues that the hospital has had in the past.
The AP report, which examined the hospital’s operations under its previous 2008-2015 administration, found among other things that the Vatican-owned hospital had shifted its focus from its patients to profits and had some subpar standards of care.
“For what regards the problems that were found, there was serious attention and effort to resolve them,” Cardinal Parolin said.
In 2014, the Vatican conducted its own report on the hospital after fielding several complaints, and found many of the same things, including a focus on profits and breaches in accepted medical protocols including the reuse of disposable equipment, early awakening from surgery and risk of infection due to overcrowding.
After the report, a widespread overhaul of the hospital staff and administration was conducted, and a 2015 report found that many of the previous issues had been resolved.
The Hospital Bambino Gesù was founded in Rome in 1869 as the first pediatric hospital in Italy. In 1924 it was donated to the Holy See and became the "Pope's Hospital". While it receives funding from the Italian government, it does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Italian government’s health authorities.
Bambino Gesu fell under scrutiny again in 2016, when the Vatican reported that it was investigating whether former hospital president Giuseppe Profiti had allocated some $200,000 of hospital funds to refurbish the apartment where Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone lives.
In September 2016, Pope Francis warned the hospital’s new president and administration not to fall into corruption, which he called “the worst cancer” a hospital could have.
At the press conference yesterday, Cardinal Parolin and current hospital president Mariella Enoc also presented the hospital’s annual report for 2016.
Among other things, the report highlighted that the hospital had an increase of organ transplants and research projects that have identified 10 new “rare” diseases.
The Hospital Bambino Gesù is the only European pediatric hospital where all types of transplants are performed. In 2016, 339 organ and tissue transplants were performed, a four percent increase from the previous year.
In addition, 242 research projects and 423 clinical trials involving 5,300 patients were undertaken in the past year. In all, 750 physicians, biologists and other health professionals have been involved in hospital-driven scientific research projects. Bambino Gesù also reported a reduction in hospital infections from 7.6 percent in 2006 to 1.8 percent in 2016, or 76 percent less in 10 years.
Enoc said that while the problems in the AP report occurred before she was in charge, she urged anyone at the hospital who had issues in the future to come forward.
"I can say that the climate today is more serene, and I urge everyone when there is a problem ... that we talk and talk and not keep it inside and then have it explode," she said.
Vatican City, Jul 5, 2017 / 03:13 pm (CNA).- In his prayer video for the month of July, Pope Francis has asked Christians to join him in praying for those who have strayed from the faith, providing hope to them through the witness of our joy and actions.
“Let us never forget that our joy is Jesus Christ – his faithful and inexhaustible love,” the Pope says at the opening of the video, depicting a man in dark-colored clothing sitting on steps outside of a Church.
“When a Christian becomes sad, it means that he has distanced himself from Jesus,” he says, stressing that “we must not leave him alone!”
Rather, “we should offer him Christian hope – with our words, yes, but more with our testimony, with our freedom, with our joy,” Francis says, as a second man, dressed in white, then walks out of the church and sits next to the man on the steps.
The video then shows several images of happy people, including a group smiling while receiving catechesis, youth dancing during World Youth Day and hands praying the rosary.
At the close of the video, the Pope makes his appeal, saying “let us pray that our brothers and sisters who have strayed from the faith, through our prayer and witness to the Gospel, may rediscover the beauty of the Christian life.”
While Pope Francis is known for reaching out to those of other faiths, his intention this month hits closer to home, focusing on the need to pray not only for Christian unity, but for those who struggle with the faith or who have perhaps left the Church for one reason or another.
His prayer videos first launched during the Jubilee of Mercy and are part of an initiative of the Jesuit-run global prayer network Apostleship of Prayer. They are filmed in collaboration with the Vatican Television Center and the Argentinian marketing association La Machi.
The Apostleship of Prayer, which produces the monthly videos on the Pope’s intentions, was founded by Jesuit seminarians in France in 1884 to encourage Christians to serve God and others through prayer, particularly for the needs of the Church.
Since the late 1800s, the organization has received a monthly, “universal” intention from the Pope. In 1929, an additional missionary intention was added by the Holy Father, aimed at the faithful in particular.
Starting in January, rather than including a missionary intention, Pope Francis has elected to have only one prepared prayer intention – the universal intention featured in the prayer video – and will add a second intention focused on an urgent or immediate need if one arises.
The prayer intentions typically highlight issues of importance not only for Pope Francis, but for the world, such as families, the environment, the poor and homeless, Christians who are persecuted and youth.
Vatican City, Jul 5, 2017 / 02:20 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In the wake of Pope Francis' whirlwind visit to Egypt, the Vatican and the prestigious Muslim al-Azhar University have held another meeting, focusing on the landmark speeches given during the Pope's visit.
The meeting, which took place July 3 at the apostolic nunciature in Egypt, was arranged by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the al-Azhar Center for Dialogue (CAD).
It fell two months after Pope Francis' April 28-29 visit to Cairo, visit to Cairo, the result of a recent thawing in relations between the Vatican and the university, which had been strained since 2011.
According to a July 4 Vatican communique, the meeting focused primarily on the speeches of both Pope Francis and the Grad Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed Muhammad al-Tayyib, during the Pope's visit.
Specifically, “the joint commitment to continue shared reflections, aimed at promoting a fruitful and effective interreligious dialogue was expressed, focusing in particular on the promotion of peace and the building of a more just world.”
Hailed as one of the most important speeches he's given so far in his time as Bishop of Rome, the Pope's opening address to the International Conference on Peace, his first speech of the trip, issued harsh condemnation of religiously-motivated violence and a strong call for it's rejection in the global sphere.
In the April 28 address, Francis said that “peace alone is holy and no act of violence can be perpetrated in the name of God, for it would profane his Name.”
“Together, in the land where heaven and earth meet, this land of covenants between peoples and believers, let us say once more a firm and clear 'No!' to every form of violence, vengeance and hatred carried out in the name of religion or in the name of God,” he said.
Going on, the Pope said we have “an obligation to denounce violations of human dignity and human rights, to expose attempts to justify every form of hatred in the name of religion, and to condemn these attempts as idolatrous caricatures of God.”
Violence and faith, belief and hatred, are incompatible, he said, and asked participants to join him in this affirmation: “together let us declare the sacredness of every human life against every form of violence, whether physical, social, educational or psychological,” he said, as the auditorium erupted in thunderous applause.
Likewise, al-Tayyib, who in his role as Grand Imam of al-Azhar is widely considered to be the highest authority in the 1.5-billion strong Sunni Muslim world, said in his speech that humanity ought to “stress the value of peace, justice, equality and human rights regardless of religion, color, race, or language.”
“We need to liberate the image of religions from false concepts, misunderstandings, malpractices, and false religiosity attached to them. These evils bestir conflicts, spread hate, and instigate violence,” he said, adding that “we should not hold religion accountable for the crimes of any small group of followers.”
He thanked the Pope for his “defense of Islam against the accusation of violence and terrorism,” and voiced his commitment to working together to establish peaceful coexistence and strengthen dialogue.
While many scholars are hesitant at to accept such messages from al-Azhar, claiming there is still a large discrepancy between what is said and what is taught in their curriculum, the restoration of ties with the Vatican is generally seen as a step in the right direction.
This most recent meeting between the Vatican and al-Azhar is the latest step in developing this dialogue.
It was attended by various representatives from both the Holy See and the Islamic university, including, on behalf of al-Azhar, Sheikh Prof. Mohey al-Din Afifi Ahmed, Secretary General of the Academy of Islamic Research of al-Azhar and Coordinator of dialogue at the CAD, and Dr. Kamal Boraiqa Abdelsalam, a member of the center.
The Vatican delegation included Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, secretary of the council for interreligious dialogue; Msgr. Khaled Akasheh, head of the dicastery's Office for Islam; and Fr. Jean Druel O.P., Director of the Dominican Institute of Oriental Studies in Cairo.
Vatican City, Jul 5, 2017 / 07:54 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday the Vatican announced Pope Francis's appointment of Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama Pasqualetto, a native of Colombia, as the next bishop of the Diocese of Raleigh.
Currently an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, Bishop Zamara, 58, will replace Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, who was transferred to the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia in October of last year and installed on Dec. 6, 2016.
In a statement on the appointment of Bishop Zarama, announced July 5, Bishop Burbidge said he gives thanks to God for the appointment.
"I am proud to call him a brother bishop and good friend. Bishop Zarama is a holy, faithful and joyful bishop known and respected for his pastoral skills, administrative abilities, zeal and kindness.”
"I have assured Bishop Zarama that he will be truly blessed with the support of such good priests, consecrated religious, deacons, seminarians, colleagues and lay faithful in the Diocese of Raleigh.”
“I promised Bishop Zarama that he and the Diocese of Raleigh will remain in my daily prayers at this joyful and historic moment and always,” he concluded.
The Archbishop of Atlanta, Wilton D. Gregory, said in a statement July 5 that the Pope's appointment is also an honor for Atlanta.
“How fortunate that the local Church is to receive such a devoted and generous servant minister,” he said. “The Holy Father has chosen well even though his decision takes a deeply beloved brother and friend from our midst.”
Bishop Zarama was born in Pasto, Colombia on Nov. 28, 1958. He graduated from the Marian University in Pasto with a degree in philosophy and theology. He also attended the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá, receiving a degree in Canon Law in 1991.
He was a philosophy and theology professor at the Carmelite School, the Learning School and the Colombia Military School for 11 years.
In 1993, he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Atlanta and was the first Hispanic priest to be named pastor at the parishes of St. Mark in Clarksville and St. Helena Mission in Clayton. He became a United States citizen in 2004.
In April 2006 Bishop Zarama was named Vicar General of the Archdiocese. He received the title of monsignor from Pope Benedict XVI on March 7, 2007.
He has served as the Judicial Vicar for the Archdiocese's Metropolitan Tribunal since 2008, and is also a member of the Archdiocesan Personnel Review Board.
On July 27, 2009 Pope Benedict XVI named him Titular Bishop of Bararus and Auxiliary Bishop of Atlanta. He was ordained a bishop on Sept. 29, 2009.
His Mass of Installation at Raleigh will be on August 29th.
Bishop Gregory said that he joins “Bishop-Elect Shlesinger and all of the clergy, religious, and faithful of The Archdiocese of Atlanta in assuring Bishop Zarama of our prayers and warmest best wishes as he begins this new service to Christ’s Church.”
“While we will have time to celebrate his appointment to The Diocese of Raleigh before he takes leave for his August 29th installation, we promise him our affectionate best wishes and congratulations on this happy moment for him and for all of God’s People in the Diocese of Raleigh.”
Vatican City, Jul 4, 2017 / 03:22 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The London hospital where Charlie Gard is living his last days has refused a transfer request from the Pediatric hospital Bambino Gesu in Rome for legal reasons.
“This is sad news," said Mariella Enoc, President Bambino Gesu, often referred to as the "Pope's Hospital." The hospital had offered on Monday to transfer Charlie to their facilities from Great Ormond Street Hospital in London (UK), where the child and his family are currently staying.
London and and European courts have ruled that Charlie must be pulled from life support and that he will not be allowed to die at home.
Charlie Gard is a 10-month old suffering a rare, terminal, genetic illness. His parents have lost several legal battles in the fight to prolong the life of their son, including a request to send him to the United States for experimental treatment.
Enoc told Italian media on July 4 that he had offered the transfer after being contacted by Charlie’s mother, Connie Yates.
He added that he wanted to offer the family his support especially because of the Pope’s backing of the family.
On Sunday, July 2, the Holy See Press Office director Greg Burke issued a statement in which Pope Francis called for respect for the will of Charlie Gard's parents.
“The Holy Father follows with affection and emotion the story of Charlie Gard and expresses his own closeness to his parents,” read a July 2 statement issued by Vatican spokesman Greg Burke.
“He prays for them, wishing that their desire to accompany and care for their own child to the end will be respected.”
On June 30, the day the Charlie’s life support was initially scheduled to be disconnected, the Pope also used his Twitter account to send a clear pro-life message in the infant's favor.
The hospital in London agreed to allow Charlie’s life support to continue for a few more days, to allow the family more time with their son.
Vatican City, Jul 4, 2017 / 09:42 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Monday Pope Francis said that while hunger and undernourishment around the world can be an unsettling thing to confront, we must use this to remind us how these situations are caused – which is through indifference and selfishness.
“A glance at the current world situation does not offer us a comforting picture. Yet we cannot remain merely preoccupied or, worse, resigned,” he wrote July 3.
“This moment of evident difficulty must make us even more conscious that hunger and malnutrition are not only natural or structural phenomena in determined geographical areas, but the result of a more complex condition of underdevelopment caused by the indifference of many or the selfishness of a few.”
It is concrete decisions, he said, that lead to devastating consequences such as war and terrorism. “We are dealing with a complex mechanism that mainly burdens the most vulnerable, who are not only excluded from the processes of production, but frequently obliged to leave their lands in search of refuge and hope.”
Pope Francis sent his message July 3 for the opening session of the 40th General Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO). It was read by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, in the Pope’s place.
In the opening Francis noted his sorrow for not being able to deliver the message of support and encouragement in person. He also sent his “respect and esteem” for the demanding task they must carry out.
The Church accompanies all those committed to working on behalf of the poor and undernourished, the Pope said, adding that the 2030 Development Agenda of the UN reflects this same commitment by stating that the fight for universal food security cannot be put off.
“Yet only an effort inspired by authentic solidarity will be capable of eliminating the great number of persons who are undernourished and deprived of the necessities of life,” he said.
“This is a very great challenge for FAO and for all the Institutions of the international community. It is also a challenge that the Church is committed to on the front lines.”
“The Holy See closely follows the work of the international community and wishes to assist its efforts to promote not mere progress or development goals in theory, but rather the actual elimination of hunger and malnutrition,” he said.
The Pope emphasized that merely the intention to provide everyone with his or her daily bread is not enough. And if our proposed solutions remain distant and not concrete, this is because of a “lack of a culture of solidarity.”
“The commitment of each country to increase its own level of nutrition, to improve agricultural activity and the living conditions of the rural population, is embodied in the encouragement of the agricultural sector, in increased production or in the promotion of an effective distribution of food supplies.”
“Yet this is not enough,” he reiterated. “In effect, what those goals demand is a constant acknowledgment that the right of every person to be free of poverty and hunger depends on the duty of the entire human family to provide practical assistance to those in need.”
To give an example of concrete assistance and to encourage governments, Francis said that he would be making a contribution to the FAO program that provides seeds to rural families in areas affected by both conflict and drought.
When a country is unable to provide an adequate response to the problem of hunger in its own nation, he continued, whether due to underdevelopment, conditions of poverty, or climate change, “FAO and other intergovernmental institutions need to be able to intervene specifically and undertake an adequate solidary action.”
“Since the goods that God the Creator has entrusted to us are meant for all, there is an urgent need for solidarity to be the criterion inspiring all forms of cooperation in international relations,” he said.
Athens, Greece, Jul 3, 2017 / 11:21 am (Church Pop).- Pope Francis has donated 50 thousand euros to the island of Lesbos, Greece, which is recovering from a June earthquake.
The donation comes just a few days after the Holy Father received a full report on the extent of the damage.
Archbishop Nikolaos Printezis, Bishop of Naxos, Andros, Tinos and Mykonos, said the Pope's donation was a sign of the closeness of the Pontiff to the people who have suffered the consequences of the earthquake.
On June 12, a powerful earthquake measuring 6.3 hit the western coast of Turkey and the Greek island of Lesbos , killing one person, displacing approximately 800, and destroying infrastructure from the Turkish Aegean province, Izmir, to the Greek capital, Athens.
The earthquake's epicenter was located about 50 miles northwest of the Turkish coastal city of Smyrna and nine miles south of Lesbos, according to the European Mediterranean Seismological Center (EMSC).
Pope Francis visited the island of Lesbos in 2016, as it is a main point of entry for thousands of refugees fleeing violence in places such as Iraq and Syria.
During that trip, Pope Francis brought back 12 Syrian refugees with him, selected by lottery, including six children. Their homes had been bombed, and the Vatican oversaw their resettlement.
Currently, there are 3,500 migrants on Lesbos awaiting the outcome of asylum applications or deportation. According to the New York Times, aid workers reported no damage or injuries at the refugee camps due to the earthquake.
In the coming days a Vatican representative will visit Lesbos and deliver the money donated by the Pope.