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Cardinal Turkson: Marijuana debate ignores ethical questions

Tue, 06/27/2017 - 04:34

Vatican City, Jun 26, 2017 / 04:34 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vatican's top personality on social justice issues has voiced his concern for the increased demand for drugs, including recreational marijuana, saying debate on the plant's usage doesn't take ethical concerns into account.

In a June 26 letter on the occasion of the U.N. International Day against Abuse and Illicit Trafficking of Drugs, Cardinal Peter Turkson lamented the fact that narcotics “continue to rage in impressive forms and dimensions” throughout the world.

“It is a phenomenon that is fueled – not without concessions and compromises on the part of institutions – by a shameful market that crosses national and continental borders, intertwined with mafias and drug trafficking,” he said.

Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Turkson noted that compared to the recent past, drugs have now become “a consumer product made compatible with everyday life, with leisure activity and even with the pursuit of well-being.”

Pointing specifically to cocaine, he noted that the drug is linked to the spread of heroin, which at 80 percent represents the highest number of new requests for opioid-related treatments in Europe.

However, despite the high numbers for heroin and opioid treatment requests, the cardinal noted that “the most commonly consumed recreational drug is cannabis.”

The current, raging international debate on the use of the drug “tends to overlook the ethical judgment of the substance, by definition negative as with any other drug,” he said, pointing to the current focus on its possible therapeutic uses.  

This, he stressed, is “a field in which we await scientific data to be validated by monitoring periods, as for any experiment worthy of public consideration.”

According to September 2016 report from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, which compared marijuana-related statistics from previous years in Colorado to data from 2013-2015, the first years after the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state, the prospects of the drug's increased use are grim.

Not only have the number of marijuana-related deaths, hospitalizations and traffic accidents increased since the drug's recreational use was legalized, there has also been growing concern over marijuana-related crime and a decrease in the IQ of youths who use it.

But before making a firm decision on the issue that is perhaps based on various prejudices, Cardinal Turkson said it would be better to first “understand trends in the use of cannabis, related damages and the consequences of regulatory policies in the various countries.”

It's especially important to recognize the factors “which push the illegal market to develop products intended to affect patterns of consumption and to reaffirm the primacy of the desire that is compulsively satisfied by the substance.”

On this point, concern has grown for many that the recreational use of marijuana is often a gateway for youth to become addicted, and eventually move on to other drugs such as cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, or meth.

In addition to voicing his concerns on marijuana, heroin, and the dangers of using them to improve one's “wellbeing,” Cardinal Turkson also pointed to the risks of other addictive behaviors such as gambling, saying its legalization, even in cases aimed at unmasking its criminal managers, “exponentially increases the number of pathological players.”

“Moreover, taxation by the state is to be considered incompatible from an ethical standpoint and contradictory in terms of prevention,” he said, adding that the development of “models of intervention and adequate monitoring systems, associated with the allocation of funds, is highly desirable to tackle the phenomenon.”

The cardinal noted that as the array of addictions continues to diversify, “indifference and at times indirect complicity in this phenomenon contributes to diverting the attention of public opinion and governments, focused on other emergencies.”

Plans to fight the increasing demand for drugs often collapse, he said, explaining that the present-day state of addictions shows “gaps in planning, policies and prospects,” which in turn is a sign of “sluggish progress” in the face of the drug market, “which is highly competitive and flexible to demand, and always open to novelties such as recently-created, extremely powerful synthetic opiates, ecstasy and amphetamines.”

“It is precisely the growing and widespread consumption of ecstasy that may serve as an indicator of how the use of illicit substances has now spread into everyday areas of life,” he said, adding that it could also be an indication of how the ecstasy user no longer identifies with the heroin addict, but “with the new profile of the user of multiple substances and alcohol.”

Because of this, strategies of intervention can't depend solely on reduced damage, “nor can drugs still be considered as a phenomenon that is collusive with social disorder and deviance.”

Rather, damage reduction “must necessarily involve taking on board both the toxicological aspect and integration with personalized therapeutic programs of a psycho-social nature, without giving rise to forms of chronic use, which are harmful to the person and ethically reprehensible,” the cardinal said.

Cardinal Turkson stressed the importance of not seeing the addict as a problem to be solved or as being beyond the hope of rehabilitation.

To consider people as irrecoverable, he said, “is an act of capitulation that denies the psychological dynamics of change and offers an alibi for disengagement from the addict and the institutions that have the task of preventing and treating.”

“It cannot be accepted that society metabolizes drug use as a chronic epochal trait, similar to alcoholism and tobacco, withdrawing from exchange on the margins of freedom of the state and the citizen in relation to substance use,” he said.

The cardinal recognized that there is no singular cause of drug use, but rather a panorama of causes including the absence of a family, various social pressures, the propaganda of drug dealers, and even the desire to have new experiences.

“Every drug addict has a unique personal story and must be listened to, understood, loved, and, insofar as possible, healed and purified,” he said.

“We cannot stoop to the injustice of categorizing drug addicts as if they were mere objects or broken machines; each person must be valued and appreciated in his or her dignity in order to enable them to be healed.”

For the cardinal, part of this process means finding effective means of prevention, beginning with education.

“The scenario which we must all face is marked by the loss of the ancient primacy of the family and the school, the emptying of authority of adult figures and the difficulties that arise in terms of parenting,” he said, stressing that this is not time for “protagonism,” but rather for “networks” that are capable of “reactivating social educational synergies by overcoming unnecessary competition, delegation and forms of dereliction.”

“To prevent young people from growing up without care, bred rather than educated, attracted by 'healing prosthetics,' as drugs appear to them, all social actors must connect and invest in the shared ground of basic and indispensable education values aiming at the integral formation of the person.”

In this regard, educational aspects “are crucial,” he said, especially during adolescence, when youth are more vulnerable, and at the same time curious and prone to periods of depression and apathy.

Youth look for the “vertigo that makes them feel alive,” he said, quoting Pope Francis. “So, let us give it to them! Let us stimulate all that which helps them transform their dreams into plans, and that can reveal that all the potential they have is a bridge, a passage towards a vocation.”

“Let us propose broad aims to them, great challenges, and let us help them achieve them, to reach their targets. Let us not leave them alone.”

In order to combat the ephemeral happiness of addictions, a “creative love” is needed, Cardinal Turkson said, as well as the presence of adults capable of both teaching and practicing healthy self-care.

“A spiritual vision of existence, projected towards the search for meaning, open to the encounter with others, constitutes the greatest educational legacy that must be handed down between generations, today more than ever,” he said.

Chinese bishop forcibly removed from diocese still missing

Mon, 06/26/2017 - 19:03

Vatican City, Jun 26, 2017 / 07:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Monday the Vatican issued a statement on the situation of the Chinese Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou, who has not been returned since being forcibly removed from his diocese by the Chinese state May 18.

“The Holy See is observing with grave concern the personal situation of Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin of Wenzhou, forcibly removed from his episcopal see some time ago,” read the June 26 statement by the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke.

The Catholic community of the diocese and his family and friends remain with no news of the bishop’s whereabouts or of the reason for his removal, the statement continued.

The Vatican-approved Bishop Shao, who is not recognized by the Chinese government, was summoned by their religious bureau on May 18 and has since not been heard from or returned, La Croix International reports.

Following canon law, the Vatican confirmed Bishop Shao as the successor of the Wenzhou diocese on Sept. 21, 2016, following the death of his predecessor, Bishop Vincent Zhu Weifang. Since then he has been removed from the diocese or detained on four different occasions.

He is not a part of the state-run Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) and is therefore part of the underground church not recognized by the communist government.

The Vatican’s statement was issued in response to questions from journalists. There were reports last week claiming that the bishop had been spotted in the local airport with government officials, though the claim has not been substantiated and his present whereabouts are still unknown.

“In this respect, the Holy See, profoundly saddened for this and other similar episodes that unfortunately do not facilitate ways of understanding, expresses the hope that Bishop Peter Shao Zhumin may return as soon as possible to the diocese and that he can be assured the possibility of serenely exercising his episcopal ministry,” the Vatican statement continued.

“We are all invited to pray for Bishop Shao Zhumin and for the path of the Catholic Church in China.”

Bishop Shao was first detained, along with three other priests, following the death of his predecessor, Bishop Zhu, preventing him from presiding over the funeral Mass.

He was also detained just one month prior to this current detainment, from April 12-17, which ostensibly was to prevent him from celebrating the Triduum and Easter liturgies, which would have been his first time as head of the diocese.

He is not the only Chinese bishop or Christian to be detained. Persecution of Christians in China varies by province, but certain provinces have seen an uptick in recent years.

In Zhejiang province, where the Diocese of Wenzhou is located, more than 1,500 churches have been desecrated or demolished. Churches in Zhejiang have been ordered to stop displaying crosses and Christians there have been detained.

Overall, the situation of religious freedom in China has deteriorated even more in recent years, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom noted in its 2017 annual report, as the country’s leader Xi Jingping has “further consolidated power” and worked to promote the “sinicization” of religion.

Christ doesn’t promise freedom from difficulties, Pope says

Sun, 06/25/2017 - 23:38

Vatican City, Jun 25, 2017 / 11:38 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis reminded the faithful that following Christ does not mean our lives will be free from all earthly troubles.

“There is no Christian mission in the name of tranquility,” the Pope said, speaking to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square on June 25. “Difficulties and tribulations are part and parcel of evangelization.”

Pope Francis reflected on the day’s Gospel, in which Jesus instructs his followers not to be afraid.

“Jesus’ mission did not guarantee the disciples success, nor did it shield them from failure or suffering,” the Holy Father said.

But Christ did promise them that he would always be with them as they faced the trials that were ahead.

The same is true for us today, the Pope said. We should expect suffering and even persecution if we follow in the path of the crucified Christ, but at the same time, we can take comfort in knowing that “God does not abandon his children during the storm.”

Sometimes this storm comes not in the form of active persecution, but in indifference, through “people who do not want to be awakened from a worldly numbness, who ignore the truth of the Gospel message and build their own ephemeral truth.”

Regardless of the form that trials may take, we should persevere in faithfulness, he said, also reminding those gathered in the square to pray for those facing serious persecution. 

“Jesus does not leave us alone because we are precious to Him.”

Following the Angelus, the Pope offered prayers for landslide victims in southwestern China. He also offered a message to members of the Greek-Catholic Ukrainian Church on the 150th anniversary of the canonization of St. Josaphat, as well as to Lithuanians celebrating Blessed Theofilius Matulonius. 

The tale of Fr. Brochero: Gaucho priest, devil's worst nightmare

Sun, 06/25/2017 - 14:03

Vatican City, Jun 25, 2017 / 02:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- If Jose Brochero doesn't sound like a Gaucho name, nothing does.

Last year, Pope Francis canonized Saint Brochero, a fellow countryman from Argentina also known as the “Gaucho priest.”

He was beatified in Sept. 2013 by Pope Francis, who said Fr. Brochero was a priest who truly “smelled of his sheep.” He was canonized Oct. 16, 2016.

Saint Brochero was born Jose Gabriel del Rosario Brochero in Argentina in 1840, the fourth of ten children to Ignacio Brochero and Petrona Davila.

St. Brochero entered seminary at the age of 16, and was ordained a priest at the age of 26 for the Archdiocese of Cordoba.

As a priest, after teaching philosophy at a seminary for a few years, Fr. Brochero was assigned to the large diocese of St. Albert – 1,675 square miles with 10,000 far-flung parishioners in the rural, Great Highlands region of Argentina.

Not deterred by altitude, distance or bad weather, Fr. Brochero was known for riding throughout the countryside of his parish on the back of a mule to bring his people the sacraments, always wearing a poncho and sombrero in the style of a gaucho, or Argentinian cowboy.

On muleback, he carried an icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary, his Mass kit and a prayer book on his travels so that he was always prepared to offer the sacraments. He established a House of Exercises where his people could participate in spiritual exercises, and helped found a school for girls.

He is also credited with building post and telegraph stations, for building nearly 125 miles of roads, and for helping plan the railroad in the area.

“Woe if the devil is going to rob a soul from me,” he is held to have said, capturing his determined spirit to be close to his people no matter what.

Fr. Brochero was known for being particularly close to the poor and the sick, and helped care for those who contracted cholera during the epidemic in 1867. Eventually, he contracted leprosy from a leper in his parish, causing him to eventually become blind and deaf and to relinquish his parish duties, spending his last few years living with his sisters at home.

Fr. Brochero died on Jan. 26, 1914. His last words were: “Now I have everything ready for the journey.”

A few days after his death, the Catholic newspaper of Cordoba wrote: “It is known that Father Brochero contracted the sickness that took him to his tomb, because he visited at length and embraced an abandoned leper of the area.”  

In 2012, Pope Benedict XVI approved a healing miracle attributed to Fr. Brochero, in which 13-year-old Nicolas Flores, who was in a vegetative state after a car accident, was cured through the intercession of the gaucho priest.

 

An earlier version of this article was published on CNA July 14, 2016.

Francis urges Serrans to 'keep moving forward' promoting vocations

Sat, 06/24/2017 - 02:42

Vatican City, Jun 23, 2017 / 02:42 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis offered encouragement Friday to members of Serra International, which promotes religious vocations, urging them to persevere in their “beautiful vocation of being laity who are friends to priests” and to “(k)eep moving forward!”

Pope Francis said June 23 that friendship “is central to the experience of faith.”

Serra International is a lay apostolate dedicated to promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and does this by both prayer and assistance to discerners.

Serra’s conference is taking place from June 22-25 in Rome under the theme Siempre Adelante, “keep moving forward.” Friday’s papal audience was open to all attendees after a Mass in St. Peter’s.

Reflecting on friendship, Francis said that “the word ‘friend’ has become a bit overused.”

“But, when Jesus speaks of ‘friends,’ he points to a hard truth: true friendship involves an encounter that draws me so near to the other person that I give something of my very self. Jesus says to his disciples: ‘No longer do I call you servants… but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you’. He thus establishes a new relationship between man and God, one that transcends the law and is grounded in trust and love.”

Friends accompany us, he said. “They stand at our side, gently and tenderly, along our journey; they listen to us closely, and can see beyond mere words.”

He linked this Christian idea of friendship to Serra’s work in promoting vocations and helping priests. They are “(f)riends who share the wonder of a vocation, the courage of a definitive decision, the joy and fatigue of ministry. Friends who can offer priests support and regard their generous efforts and human failings with understanding and tender love.”

He compared their work to the home of Mary and Martha in the gospel, which Christ frequently visited and where he “was able to find rest and refreshment.”

He then offered his reflections for the convention’s theme of Siempre Adelante.

“Like you, I believe that this is a synonym for the Christian vocation,” he said. He compared the phrase to Christ's call to his disciples to go forward in their ministerial journey, and he cautioned against giving into fear on this journey.

“Of course, we cannot make progress unless we take a risk,” he said. “We do not advance toward the goal if, as the Gospel says, we are afraid to lose our lives. No ship would ever set out into the deep if it feared leaving the safety of the harbour.”

“On the other hand,” he said,” when Christians go about their daily lives without fear, they can discover God’s surprises.”

He referenced the example of St. Junipero Serra, whom he canonized in Washington, D.C. in 2015, who, despite a limp, proceeded on his pilgrimage. He also warned against “museum Christians” who fear change.

“It is better to go forward limping, and even at times to fall, while always trusting in the mercy of God,” he said.

He concluded his speech by instructing them to not be afraid of changing the structures of their organization, humbly renouncing old roles and practices in favor of living their vocation.

“So you too, siempre Adelante! With courage, creativity, and boldness,” he said.

“The Church and priestly vocations need you. May Mary Most Holy, Mother of the Church and Mother of priests, be with you every step of the way And I ask you, please, pray for me!”

Pope Francis meets King and Queen of the Netherlands, returns long-lost stick

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 19:32

Vatican City, Jun 22, 2017 / 07:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Thursday Pope Francis met with King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, as part of the visit returning to them a long-lost royal stick of a 16th century Dutch king.

An important diplomatic portion of the audience June 22, was the Vatican's return of the stick of William I, Prince of Orange, which until recently had remained lost in the Jesuit Catalan archives.

The stick, which resembles a sort of scepter or baton, and depicts the coat of arms of William of Orange, was given by the 16th century Dutch royal to a Dutch commander in the Battle of Mookerheyde in 1574.

The stick was waved by William's brother, Luigi of Nassau, during the battle.

After it was lost, it came into the hands of a Spanish general and eventually a Jesuit general, until being returned Thursday, through the Vatican, to Willem-Alexander, current King of the Netherlands and Prince of Orange.

According to a press release from the National Military Museum of the Netherlands, the delivery of the stick represents "a testimony of reconciliation, and of the current union between the two countries and religions."

"It is also a symbol of the long journey that the Roman Catholic Church, as well as the Kingdom of the Netherlands, have passed from the past of rivalry, war and repression to a present of mutual respect and promotion of peace and human rights."

The baton will be displayed to the public in the National Military Museum in Soesterberg, Netherlands from April 27 to the end of October 2018.

According to a June 22 Vatican communique, in the audience the three cordially discussed topics “of shared interest,” including protection of the environment, the fight against poverty and how the Holy See and Catholic Church are contributing in these areas.

Particular attention, it stated, was paid to “the phenomenon of migration, underlining the importance of peaceful co-existence between different cultures, and joint commitment to promoting peace and global security, with special reference to various areas of conflict.”

They also shared reflections on the prospects of the European project. The private portion of the audience, which included both the King and the Queen, lasted 35 minutes.

Queen Máxima, who was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, greeted Pope Francis in “porteño,” a dialect of Spanish spoken by people from the Río de la Plata basin of Argentina.

“How are you? Delighted to see you again,” she said.

During the visit Pope Francis gifted the royal couple a medallion depicting St. Martin of Tours, in the classic image of the saint dividing his cloak to give to a poor man.

He also gave them the customary gift of copies of his environmental encyclical Laudato Si, his 2015 Apostolic Exhortation on the family “Amoris Laetitia,” and his 2013 exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium,” as well as a copy of his message for the 2017 World Day of Peace.

For their part, King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima gave the Pope a gift of Dutch flowers, white and yellow tulips from their country.

Giving the gifts, they told Pope Francis that tulips aren't only for Easter, but could be planted in the Vatican.

Afterward, the two met with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher.

The Royal couple are in the midst of a state visit to the Italian Republic, taking place June 21-23.

Before their meeting with the Pope, the King and Queen visited the Church of Saints Michael and Magnus, the national church of the Netherlands in Rome. Located next to the Vatican, it was built in 1140 in the place where pilgrims from the Netherlands met back in the 8th century.

According to church statistics, Catholics currently make up 23 percent of the population of 17 million in the Netherlands.

Meeting with NFL hall-of-famers, Pope Francis promotes teamwork

Thu, 06/22/2017 - 01:08

Vatican City, Jun 21, 2017 / 01:08 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis addressed members of the National Football League Hall of Fame on Wednesday, encouraging them to promote the values of sportsmen not only on the field but also within their communities.

“Teamwork, fair play and the pursuit of personal excellence are the values – in the religious sense, we can say virtues – that have guided your own commitment on the field,” said the Pope, meeting with the hall-of-famers on June 21.

“Yet these same values are urgently needed off the field, on all levels of our life as a community.”

He addressed the need for role models in the world, especially for youth, teaching them to live out their “God-given gifts and talents,” showing how to bring out the best in each person and leading the way to a better future.

“They are the values that help build a culture of encounter, in which we anticipate and meet the needs of our brothers and sisters, and combat the exaggerated individualism, indifference and injustice that hold us back from living as one human family.”

Established in 1963, the American Pro Football Hall of Fame is located in Canton, Ohio, the same city where the NFL was created about 40 years earlier. It contains 310 members, 7 of whom will be formally inducted in August.

Present at the group meeting with Pope Francis was Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, and six other hall of fame inductees: Chris Doleman, Franco Harris, Floyd Little, Ronnie Lott Curtis Martin, and Jim Taylor.

They presented him with a signed helmet and jersey with “Papa Francesco” written on the back.

In welcoming joke, the Pope noted his own love for soccer, which in much of the world is called “football.”

“I am an avid follower of ‘football’, but where I come from, the game is played very differently,” he said.

Pope Francis is a member of the Club Atlético San Lorenzo de Almagro, located in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. The club, nicknamed the Saints of Boedo, was founded in 1908 by a group of young men, including a priest.

Being a fan of sports himself, the Pope has reflected on the virtues of sportsmanship before.

Last October, at a Vatican conference called “Sport at the Service of Humanity,” he said the values fostered by sports not only promote health and recreation, but also the ability to play on a team, and to humbly win or lose.

At the end of his address to the NFL Hall of Fame delegation, Pope Francis expressed hope that their visit to Rome will increase their gratitude for these gifts and enable them to share it with the rest of the world.

 

Pope Francis sends aid to a troubled South Sudan

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 23:34

Vatican City, Jun 21, 2017 / 11:34 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After the Vatican stated last month the postponement of Pope Francis’ proposed trip to South Sudan, they announced Wednesday that the Pope will instead send aid to the people suffering from worsening conditions.

The Vatican announced June 21 that Pope Francis will be aiding projects in the areas of education, healthcare, and agriculture, called the “Pope for South Sudan” Initiative.

The program will be coordinated through the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, headed by Cardinal Peter Turkson, and by Caritas International.

Because he is unable to travel to South Sudan in person, Pope Francis “wanted to express the tangible presence and closeness of the Church with the afflicted people,” Cardinal Turkson told journalists.

“It is an initiative that is to foster, support and encourage the work of the various religious congregations and international aid organizations that are present on the territory and tirelessly work to help the population and to promote the process of development and peace,” he said.

The projects of the Pope’s aid includes support for two hospitals: Wau Hospital in the Western Bahr el-Ghazal state, and Nzara Hospital in the Diocese of Tombura-Yambio.

Both hospitals have fewer than 130 beds between all of the departments, though the Wau Hospital treats around 300 patients a day on average, hospitalizing around 40,000 per year.

The aid will go toward support for medical and nursing staff, medicine and its transportation from Uganda to the hospital and management costs of the facilities.

Among the priorities of the Nzara hospital are the prevention and treatment of diseases such as tuberculosis, leprosy, and AIDS, as well as healthcare for children under the age of five.

Under education, the Pope's initiative will help support an association of religious congregations called “Solidarity with South Sudan” which is working to train teachers, nurses, midwives, local farmers, and community leaders.

Since 2010 they have offered a two-year full-time program for obtaining a primary school teacher diploma at their center in Yambio, recognized by the Ministry of Education of South Sudan. Since opening, they have welcomed 3,500 students.

Francis also sends 200,000 euros ($223,000) to support agriculture in the country. The aid will be directed toward giving families the tools and seeds to grow their own crops where it is possible, thus feeding themselves and their families and providing a sustainable source of food.

In comments to CNA, Cardinal Turkson emphasized that this initiative should not be presented in any way as the only and first time the Holy Father is showing interest in the situation in South Sudan.

Cardinal Turkson himself has already made two visits there on behalf of the Pope, and this is just "the latest gesture," he said.

"The Holy Father stays very close to the situation in South Sudan to try to a help, to be paternal to the situation over there and to try to afford the help that he can."

Since December 2013 there has been ongoing civil war in South Sudan, interrupted by tenuous peace.

Parts of South Sudan were declared to be under conditions of famine in February. The classification was lifted Wednesday following an increase in aid, according to a UN-backed report. It warns, however, that the situation remains desperate as the number of people at risk for starvation continues to increase.

Michel Roy, Secretary General of Caritas International, told CNA that in February they said 100,000 people were going to die of hunger, but now they think that number might be 1 million.

“The situation is worsening day-by-day and we tend to forget what the situation is because it's not new,” he said. “Now, the people of South Sudan are dying of hunger, of famine. Because there is no food and we cannot bring food to them because of security. So it's the worst thing that can happen.”

The Pope’s aid is not just important for the concrete help it gives, he said, but because it also again raises the attention of the international community to the plight in South Sudan.

“To save lives needs money,” he continued. “The UN have launched an appeal which is only half funded, so the other half has to be found. It's a lot of money, but we cannot just sit and look at people dying, so there's a real need for increasing humanitarian aid.”

The Vatican's aid to South Sudan was also welcomed by Catholic Relief Services, the US bishops' international charity agency.

Sean Callahan, the president of CRS, stated that “what is most important, is Pope Francis telling world not to give up on South Sudan, that we all must step up our commitment to help.”

Callahan recently visited South Sudan, and said, “I can tell you from my visit that there is hope. I saw that when people had peace, they got to work, planting their crops, building homes and roads, building the new nation.”

CRS has led a US government-funded program in the country which focuses on supporting infrastructure development by providing food rations to villagers building roads, schools, dykes, and waterways. The aid agency is urging Congress to continue funding such aid programs, as the Trump administration has proposed cutting or eliminating such programs.

“We’ve seen those programs work and make a huge difference in the lives of people in South Sudan,” Callahan stated. “Now is not the time to turn our backs. There’s still hope and we can still get things done.”

Cardinal Turkson added that South Sudan needs the intervention of the international community to help end the conflict and bring about peace, the only thing which will truly end the humanitarian crisis.

“Pope Francis is a universal shepherd who crosses borders,” Cardinal Turkson said in the press conference. “He feels the pressing need to raise awareness of the international community about this silent drama, calling for greater and renewed efforts to reach a peaceful solution to the conflict.”

“The Holy Father does not forget the unheard and silent victims of this bloody and inhuman conflict, he does not forget all those people who are forced to flee their native country because of the abuse of power, injustice and war – he brings them all in his prayers and in his heart,” he said.

Can relics unite Catholics and Orthodox? Pope Francis thinks so.

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 18:04

Vatican City, Jun 21, 2017 / 06:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Common veneration of relics is one of the tools Pope Francis is using to foster ecumenical relations with the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

In May, relics of St. Philip and St. Nicholas were transported to Turkey and Russia, respectively. They have been exposed for the veneration of the Orthodox faithful from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Patriarchate of Moscow.
 
The transportation of the relics of St. Nicholas from the Italian city of Bari to Moscow is particularly noteworthy. It is the first time in 930 years that a part of the body of St. Nicholas has left Bari for veneration abroad.
 
The novel action comes after a specific request Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow made to Pope Francis when they met in Havana, Cuba in February 2016.
 
Pope Francis consented to Patriarch Kirill’s request and forwarded the request to Bari’s Archbishop Francesco Cacucci. The archbishop then started the procedures to move the relics.

In the end, it was possible to detach a small particle of St. Nicholas’ left rib, which the archbishop noted was “close to the saint’s heart.”
 
Archbishop Cacucci discussed the letter Pope Francis had sent him to about the Patriarch’s request. The archbishop explained that, for Pope Francis, the veneration of relics is “an essential part of the path toward the re-establishment of full communion among all Christians.”

“The common veneration of saints help us to look at the ecumenical dialogue with a light of hope,” he said.

St. Nicholas was one of the most venerated saints in Christianity even before his relics were taken from Myra, Turkey, by 62 sailors from Bari in 1087.

Those sailors made an expedition to Myra to save St. Nicholas’ relics from Muslims who had conquered the city where St. Nicholas had lived and served as a bishop in the fourth century.

This year, St. Nicholas’ relics arrived in Moscow May 22. They were placed in a container specially crafted for the occasion. The relics were then placed in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior of Moscow. Patriarch Kirill himself celebrated a divine liturgy to welcome them.

St. Nicholas' relics will be in Moscow until July 12. They will then move to St. Petersburg for several weeks before returning to Bari July 28.

While the Russian Orthodox Patriarchate received St. Nicholas’ relics from the Church of Rome, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople on May 8 welcomed relics of St. Philip in the Turkish city of Izmir, better known by its ancient Greek name: Smyrna.
 
St. Philip evangelized that land and was martyred there.  

His relics had been secured in Rome’s Santi Apostoli Church since the sixth century. Last year, the relics were taken out and submitted to an examination. Then, they were exposed for a while for the veneration of the faithful.
 
Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople strongly advocated sharing the relics for veneration, as he is particularly devoted to St. Philip. The Catholic community joined the Patriarch in this request, and so one of St. Philip’s relic could return home. The Catholic Archbishop of Izmir Lorenzo Piretto personally forwarded the request to bring the relics to the Turkish city.
 
The common veneration of saints and relics is one area where ecumenism is performed today.
 
It echoes Pope Francis’ idea of “walking ecumenism,” which he described in an Oct. 12 meeting with members of the Conference of Secretaries of Christian World Communions.

In his remarks, the Pope said that “it is important that theologians study, that they find agreement and identify disagreements.”
 
But, he added, “ecumenism is done by walking and by walking with Jesus.” It is “a simple path, traveled with prayer and through helping one another.”
 
Another reflection came while the Pope presided at Vespers Jan. 25, 2016 at St. Paul Outside the Walls Basilica, a time that by tradition closes the week of prayer for Christian unity. Pope Francis said that “while we journey together toward full communion, we can begin already to develop many forms of cooperation in order to favor the spread of the Gospel – and walking together, we become aware that we are already united in the name of the Lord.”
 
This “walking ecumenism” is also emphasized through the veneration of the same saints. Patriarch Kirill seems to think the same.
 
Bari’s Archbishop Cacucci, having returned from Russia where he accompanied St. Nicholas’ relic, reflected on the phenomenon.

“In fact, the translation of the relic is already an ecumenical dialogue, and this Patriarch Kirill said more and more times. When ecumenism does not involve only the top ranks of Churches or theologians, but rather involves the people of God, then it is possible to move forward.”

Don’t think holiness is for you? The saints can help, Pope Francis says

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 17:27

Vatican City, Jun 21, 2017 / 05:27 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Wednesday, Pope Francis said the saints show us that despite what we might think, holiness is possible for everyone, and we should call on them for help in living out our vocations.

Some of us may be tempted to question if it is really possible to be holy in everyday life, the Pope said, but “yes, you can,” he encouraged, and it doesn’t mean you have to pray all day long.

“No, no. It means you have to do your duty all day long,” he said June 21. “Pray, go to work, watch over the children. But everything must be done with a heart open to God, in a way that the work, even in illness, and in suffering, also in difficulty, is open to God. And so you can become saints.”

“You can!” he continued. “May the Lord give us the hope of being holy! But we can. We do not think it's a difficult thing, that it's easier to be scoundrels than saints! No. It is possible to be holy because the Lord helps us; it is He who helps us.”

In his catechesis at the weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis spoke about the hope brought by the Communion of Saints and how we call on them as a Church in the liturgy and in our lives to help us become saints ourselves.

For example, we call on them in the liturgy for the Sacrament of Matrimony, he said, especially for the grace to fulfill marital duties. “And this invocation is a source of trust for the two young people who start off on the 'journey' of marital life,” he pointed out.

“Those who really love have the desire and courage to say ‘forever,’ ‘forever,’ but they know that they need the grace of God and the help of the saints. To be able to live the marriage forever.”

“Not like some say ‘as long as love lasts.’ No: forever! Otherwise, it's better not to marry you. Either forever or nothing.”

He explained how we also call on the saints in the Mass of Ordination. Candidates for the priesthood lie on the floor, their faces against the ground while the assembly, led by the bishop, invoke the intercession of the saints.

“A man would be crushed under the weight of the mission entrusted to him” in the priesthood, the Pope said, “but feeling that all heaven is behind him, that the grace of God will not fail because Jesus remains faithful, then he can go serene and refreshed. We are not alone.”

Because we have the example of the saints, we have hope that it is possible to live a holy life, he said. “Christianity cultivates an ingrained trust: it does not believe that negative and disgusting forces can prevail. The last word on man's history is not hatred, it is not death, it is not war.”

The existence of the saints tells us “first of all that the Christian life is not an unreachable ideal,” he said.

Thus, we are comforted knowing that we are not alone, he said, and knowing that “the Church is made of innumerable brothers, often anonymous, who have preceded us and who, through the action of the Holy Spirit, are involved in the affairs of those who still live here.”

We call on the saints in the Mass, the Pope reminded, but we must also have the courage to call on them ourselves in difficult moments, thinking of all those who have gone through trials before us, yet have persevered in sanctity.

God never abandons us, often helping us through human hands and hearts, and through the saints, who are hidden but still “in our midst,” he said.

“This is difficult to understand and also to imagine, but the saints are always present in our life. When anyone invokes the saints, they are near to us,” he emphasized.

We must remember, though we are weak, the mystery of grace that is present in the lives of Christians is powerful. “We are dust that aspires to heaven.”

“We are faithful to this earth, which Jesus loved at every moment of his life, but we know and want to hope for the transfiguration of the world, in its final fulfillment where there will finally be no more tears, malice and suffering.

Though we are faithful to the earth which God has placed us upon and which Jesus loved during his life, we must keep hoping for its transfiguration in the second coming of Christ, when there will finally be “no more tears, malice and suffering.”

Our holiness is the great gift that each of us can make to the world, Francis went on. “Let the Lord give us the grace of believing so deeply in Him that we may become Christ's image for this world.”

Our world needs saints, he concluded: “without these men and women the world would have no hope.”

“You can be holy because the Lord helps us; it is He who helps us.”

Vatican's first General Auditor resigns abruptly

Wed, 06/21/2017 - 00:37

Vatican City, Jun 20, 2017 / 12:37 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In an unexpected move in the Holy See’s ongoing financial reform, the Vatican announced on Tuesday the resignation of Libero Milone, General Auditor of the Holy See, effective immediately.  

The brief Vatican statement simply said that Libero Milone had offered his resignation, and that the Vatican had accepted it.

The lack of reason given for the resignation has some speculating that it is another part of the ongoing, internal conflicts of Vatican financial reform.

Milone’s resignation comes as a surprise because of the emphasis the Vatican placed on the importance of his position when it was created.

Since his election in 2013, Pope Francis has sought to reform the Vatican’s bank and finances.

Francis created the position of General Auditor for the Holy See in February 2014 in an effort to increase financial transparency.

Upon the appointment of Milone, Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, wrote in The Catholic Herald that having an independent auditor was a key part of the “separation of powers” necessary for reforming the Vatican’s finances.

The task of the general auditor was to audit the accounts of the dicasteries of the Vatican Curia and the other institutions dependent on the Holy See and the Vatican State.

During his time as General Auditor, Milone’s personal computer was hacked, and he also clashed with the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, the treasury of the Vatican. Milone showed his commitment to maintaining the separation of powers of his office when he declined an offer in April to become part of the Board of Directors of the Italian public broadcasting service Rai, saying that he wanted to maintain his independence in the Vatican.

Before coming to the Vatican, Libero Milone had extensive experience in reviewing and advising in different companies and public and private firms throughout the world such as Deloitte, Fiat and Wind.

In the statement, the Holy See added that Milone’s resignation was “of mutual accord” and that they are seeking his replacement “as soon as possible.” Milone had previously been expected to serve as General Auditor until 2021.
 
 

 

Full text of dubia cardinals’ letter asking Pope for an audience

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 23:52

Vatican City, Jun 20, 2017 / 11:52 am (National Catholic Register).- Here below is the full text of the letter, signed by Cardinal Carlo Caffarra on behalf of the four dubia cardinals, asking Pope Francis for an audience to discuss deep concerns over the Pope’s apostolic exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love).

The Holy Father has yet to acknowledge the cardinals’ written request.

“Most Holy Father,

It is with a certain trepidation that I address myself to Your Holiness, during these days of the Easter season. I do so on behalf of the Most Eminent Cardinals: Walter Brandmüller, Raymond L. Burke, Joachim Meisner, and myself.

We wish to begin by renewing our absolute dedication and our unconditional love for the Chair of Peter and for Your august person, in whom we recognize the Successor of Peter and the Vicar of Jesus: the “sweet Christ on earth,” as Saint Catherine of Siena was fond of saying. We do not share in the slightest the position of those who consider the See of Peter vacant, nor of those who want to attribute to others the indivisible responsibility of the Petrine munus. We are moved solely by the awareness of the grave responsibility arising from the munus of cardinals: to be advisers of the Successor of Peter in his sovereign ministry. And from the Sacrament of the Episcopate, which “has placed us as bishops to pasture the Church, which He has acquired with his blood” (Acts 20:28).

On September 19, 2016 we delivered to Your Holiness and to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith five dubia, asking You to resolve uncertainties and to bring clarity on some points of the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia.

Not having received any response from Your Holiness, we have reached the decision to ask You, respectfully and humbly, for an Audience, together if Your Holiness would like. We attach, as is the practice, an Audience Sheet in which we present the two points we wish to discuss with you.

Most Holy Father,

A year has now gone by since the publication of Amoris Laetitia. During this time, interpretations of some objectively ambiguous passages of the post-synodal Exhortation have publicly been given that are not divergent from, but contrary to, the permanent Magisterium of the Church. Despite the fact that the Prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith has repeatedly declared that the doctrine of the Church has not changed, numerous statements have appeared from individual Bishops, Cardinals, and even Episcopal Conferences, approving what the Magisterium of the Church has never approved. Not only access to the Holy Eucharist for those who objectively and publicly live in a situation of grave sin, and intend to remain in it, but also a conception of moral conscience contrary to the Tradition of the Church. And so it is happening — how painful it is to see this! — that what is sin in Poland is good in Germany, that what is prohibited in the archdiocese of Philadelphia is permitted in Malta. And so on. One is reminded of the bitter observation of B. Pascal: “Justice on this side of the Pyrenees, injustice on the other; justice on the left bank of the river, injustice on the right bank.”

Numerous competent lay faithful, who are deeply in love with the Church and staunchly loyal to the Apostolic See, have turned to their Pastors and to Your Holiness in order to be confirmed in the Holy Doctrine concerning the three sacraments of Marriage, Confession, and the Eucharist. And in these very days, in Rome, six lay faithful, from every Continent, have presented a very well-attended study seminar with the meaningful title: “Bringing clarity.”

Faced with this grave situation, in which many Christian communities are being divided, we feel the weight of our responsibility, and our conscience impels us to ask humbly and respectfully for an Audience.

May Your Holiness remember us in Your prayers, as we pledge to remember You in ours. And we ask for the gift of Your Apostolic Blessing.

Carlo Card. Caffarra

Rome, April 25, 2017

Feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist

*

AUDIENCE SHEET

1. Request for clarification of the five points indicated by the dubia; reasons for this request.

2. Situation of confusion and disorientation, especially among pastors of souls, in primis parish priests.”

 

This article was originally published by the National Catholic Register.

It's a responsibility to seek truth, educate youth, Pope Francis says

Tue, 06/20/2017 - 17:55

Barbiana, Italy, Jun 20, 2017 / 05:55 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Tuesday Pope Francis made a pilgrimage to the graves of two 20th century Italian priests, reflecting on charity and education, and calling on adults to form their consciences well, so that they may teach young people to do the same.

Addressing educators, Pope Francis said June 20, “Yours is a mission full of obstacles but also of joys. But above all it is a mission. A mission of love, because you cannot teach without love and without the awareness that what you give is only a right that you recognize, that of learning.”

“This is an appeal to responsibility. An appeal to you, dear young people, but first of all, adults who are called to live the freedom of conscience in a genuine way, as a search for the true, the beautiful and the good, ready to pay the price that this entails.”

The Pope’s June 20 pilgrimage to the small Italian towns of Bozzolo and Bariana took place in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the death of Fr. Lorenzo Milani, who lived from 1923-1967. He also visited the grave of Fr. Primo Mazzollari, who lived from 1890-1959.

Both priests have been wrongly portrayed as “anti-clerical” and their writings have often been misquoted in order to make them appear to dissent from the Church. However, during their lives they always obeyed any restriction the Church placed upon them, and they never preached or taught outside of the Catholic Church.
 
“There are so many things to be taught,” Pope Francis continued, “but the essential thing is the growth of a free conscience, capable of confronting itself with reality and of orienting itself in (reality) guided by love, by the desire to compromise with others, to take on the weight of their difficulties and wounds, to escape from all selfishness to serve the common good.”

The Pope’s brief visit – only half a day – began with an early morning helicopter flight to Bozzolo, landing at 9:00 a.m. He was welcomed by the Mayor of Bozzolo and the Bishop of Cremona, Antonio Napolioni.

From there the Pope proceeded to the parish of St. Peter to pray at the tomb of Fr. Primo Mazzolari, after which he gave a commemorative speech to the faithful present at the church.

At 10:30 a.m. he left for Barbiana, arriving at the Barbiana church at 11:15a.m. He was welcomed there by Cardinal Giuseppe Betori, Archbishop of Florence and the Mayor of Vicchio, a municipality of Florence.

He then made a private visit to the cemetery of the church to pray at the grave of Fr. Lorenzo Milani. Afterwards, Pope Francis met in the church with still-living disciples of Fr. Milani.

After a short visit to the rectory in the adjacent garden he gave a speech in the presence of around 200 people, including the disciples, priests of the diocese and some children living in family homes in the area. The Pope arrived back at the Vatican around 1:15 p.m.

Fr. Mazzolari believed that a parish priest was called to be a reference point for the community, and also called to work for the re-evangelization of Christianity.

Fr. Lorenzo Milani had a similar approach, which he applied by teaching poor children about the social doctrine of the Church. At a time of increasing communist influence in the region, he declared that “only the Gospel” would be his guide.

“The school, for Fr. Lorenzo, was not something different from his priestly mission, but the concrete way to do that mission, giving it a solid foundation and the capacity to rise up to heaven,” Francis said.

You are witnesses to how a priest has lived out his mission, “with full fidelity to the Gospel and precisely for this, with full fidelity to each of you, whom the Lord had entrusted to him,” the Pope said to former students of Fr. Milani’s schools.   

A teaching of Fr. Milani was, he said: “Give to the poor the word, because without the word there is no dignity and therefore no freedom and justice.”

If we teach them the Word of God, this is what will open up the path to full citizenship in society, through work and through full membership in the Church, Francis explained.

This is still true, even in our time, he said. It is only the Word of God that can help us to discern between the many false and confusing messages that we are bombarded with by society. It is also only the Word that can help us to make sense of and express the deep feelings and desires of our hearts and of the lack of justice for many of our brothers and sisters.

“Of that full humanization that we claim for every person on this earth, besides bread, home, work, family, is also the possession of the word as an instrument of freedom and fraternity,” he said.

Speaking to priests, Francis said that Fr. Milani was looking, as his mother said, for the “Absolute,” which he found in “religion and the priestly vocation.”

“Without this thirst for the Absolute you can be good officials of the sacred, but you cannot be priests, true priests, able to become servants of Christ in your brothers,” the Pope said.

“Dear priests, with the grace of God, we seek to be men of faith, a sincere faith, not watered down; and men of charity, pastoral charity toward all those whom the Lord entrusts us as brothers and children.”

“We love the Church, dear brothers, and let us love it, showing it as a caring mother of all, especially of the poorest and most fragile, both in social life and in personal and religious life.”

This is the Church that Fr. Milani has shown the world, he said. A Church with a maternal and thoughtful face, extending to everyone the opportunity to meet God.

This charity was not lacking in Servant of God Fr. Primo Mazzolari either. He himself was a priest who was poor, but not a “poor priest,” the Pope said.

In his spiritual testament, the Pope recounted, Fr. Mazzolari wrote that he always had little money, which always had to go to pay for the necessary things. This was his one regret on this point, he wrote, that he did not have more to give to the poor and his parish works.

However, Fr. Primo lived out a “pastoral charity” in his priestly ministry, Francis said, opening up horizons in the many complex situations he had to face during that time: “wars, totalitarianism, fratricidal clashes, the fatigue of democracy in gestation, the misery of its people.”

The Pope encouraged his fellow priests to follow Fr. Mazzolari’s example by listening to the world and all those who live and work in it: “Take care of every question of feeling and hope, without fear of passing through deserts and shadow areas,” he said.

Fr. Mazzolari had a great love of the poor, Francis continued, saying that charity was a matter of spirituality and of looking. In his book “The Crucified Way of the Poor,” he wrote that “he who has little charity sees few poor; he who has much charity sees many poor; those who have no charity see no one.”

The priest added, however, that “he who knows the poor knows his brother: whoever sees the brother sees Christ, who sees Christ sees life and his true poetry, for charity is the poetry of heaven carried on earth.”

Pope asks for moment of silence for victims of Portugal forest fires

Sun, 06/18/2017 - 17:24

Vatican City, Jun 18, 2017 / 05:24 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Sunday, following the Angelus, Pope Francis asked pilgrims in St. Peter's Square to pause for a silent moment of prayer for all those affected by forest fires still raging in central Portugal.

“I express my closeness to the dear Portuguese people for the devastating fires that are destroying the woods around Pedrógão Grande and causing numerous victims and wounded. We pray in silence,” Francis said June 18.

At least 57 people have been killed in huge forest fires in the central part of Portugal Saturday and Sunday, many dying in their cars as they tried to escape the flames, the Portuguese government said Sunday.

Dozens more have been injured in the blazes, with 1,700 firefighters battling the 60-some fires.

The blazes began on Saturday afternoon in the municipality of Pedrógão Grande, before quickly spreading and by evening had taken hold across Portugal.

The Iberian Peninsula has been suffering under a severe heatwave recently, with temperatures exceeding 104 degrees Fahrenheit in several regions. According to the prime minister of the country, dry thunderstorms may have been the cause of the flames.

According to Jorge Gomes, the secretary of state for internal administration, 22 people burned to death in their cars after becoming trapped by flames on the road as they tried to flee. Three others died from smoke inhalation.

In his address before the Angelus, Pope Francis reflected on the Church's celebration of the Feast of Corpus Christi, also called Corpus Domini.

"To nourish ourselves on the Eucharistic Jesus also means abandoning ourselves in him with confidence and allowing ourselves to be led by him,” he said.

"It is about welcoming Jesus in place of our 'I.' In this way, the free love received by Christ in the Eucharistic Communion, with the work of the Holy Spirit, nourishes our love for God and the brothers and sisters we meet on the path every day."

It is in “feeding on the Body of Christ,” he continued, that “we become more and more intimately and concretely the mystical Body of Christ.”

Just like the apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Cor. 10:16-17: “The chalice of the blessing that we bless, is it not communion with the blood of Christ? And the bread that we break, is it not communion with the body of Christ? Since there is only one bread, we are, though many, one body, for we all share in the one bread.”

Francis spoke to some 20,000 people in St. Peter’s Square Sunday from a window of the Casa Santa Marta, reminding them that Jesus in the Eucharist is the "bread of life."

As the Easter lamb, the Lord sacrificed himself for us upon the cross, giving his body and shedding his blood so that through “the sacrament of his flesh” the world might have eternal life.

In the Eucharist, the Pope said, Jesus accompanies us just as he did the disciples when he lived on earth. He is there to nourish in us faith, hope and charity, to comfort us in trials, and to support us in our work towards justice and peace.

And the spiritual food found in the Eucharist is for everyone, he said.

“This solidarity of the Son of God is everywhere: in cities and in the countryside, in the North and in the South of the world, in countries of Christian tradition and in those of first evangelization.”

Concluding, he prayed to the Virgin Mary, who “has always been associated with Jesus the Bread of Life,” he said.

Help us to “rediscover the beauty of the Eucharist, nurture us with faith, to live in communion with God and with our brothers.”

Following the Angelus, Pope Francis spoke about the upcoming World Day of Refugees, which will be on June 20, and is promoted by the United Nations. The theme is “With refugees. Today more than ever we should be on the side of refugees,” the Pope said.

“Concrete attention goes to the women, men, children fleeing from conflicts, violence and persecution. We remember also in prayer how many of them have lost their lives in the sea or in exhausting land voyages.”

“Their stories of pain and hope can become opportunities for fraternal encounter and true mutual knowledge,” he said. “Indeed, the personal encounter with refugees dissipates distorted fears and ideologies, and becomes a cause of growth in humanity, capable of making room for feelings of openness and for the construction of bridges.”

Sainthood causes advance, including layman who resisted fascism

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 21:22

Vatican City, Jun 17, 2017 / 09:22 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis on Friday recognized the heroic virtue of six persons on the path to canonization, as well as the martyrdom of an Italian man who died from injuries of a beating he received while imprisoned in a concentration camp for resisting fascism.

The Pope met June 16 with the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, giving his approval for the causes to move forward.

He recognized the martyrdom of Venerable Teresio Olivelli, a layman "killed in hatred of the Faith" Jan. 17, 1945, at the age of 29.

Venerable Olivelli was born in 1916. He graduated with a degree in law and went on to comment in papers on legal and social issues of the time before becoming a volunteer soldier in the Spanish Civil War and in World War II.

During the war, his views towards the Italian fascist regime of Benito Mussolini soured. He founded a newspaper dedicated to promoting the Christian message and tried to infuse a Christian message into the regime.

He later broke from it entirely after seeing the reality of the deportation of Jewish people as per racial laws. He became part of the Italian Resistance movement in Milan.

He was apprehended on April 27, 1944 and taken to a prison where he was tortured and beaten before being moved to another prison. On July 11 his name was added to a list of 70 inmates to be shot, but he fled and hid in a field until he was recaptured.

He was then transferred to a concentration camp in northern Italy before being moved to the Flossenburg and Hersbruck camps in Germany. While there he shared food rations with inmates and treated their injuries.

He died from injuries he received after defending a Ukrainian inmate from being attacked. He was kicked in the stomach and intestines and struck 25 times.

Olivelli's beatification process began in 1988. Originally sought as a martyrdom, this was rejected because of doubts, though he was found to have lived a life of heroic virtue and was named 'Venerable' by Pope Francis in 2015.

Officials of the cause remained adamant that Olivelli was killed in hatred of his faith and therefore re-submitted a “positio” – a collection of documents submitted for sainthood causes – in 2016, hoping it would lead to his beatification without the usual required miracle.

Based on new findings it was approved by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and now by Pope Francis, affirming that he was killed “in hatred of the faith,” paving the way for his beatification.

Another cause moving forward is that of Sr. Maria degli Angeli, born Giuseppa Margherita Operte in Turin in 1871.

Born into a wealthy family, she experienced loss at the young age of 14 when her father and brother died within three months of each other. Left alone with her mother, they entered more deeply into the Christian life, becoming Third Order lay Carmelites.

When Giuseppa heard that a priest in a neighboring parish was circulating the rumor that she would open an institute for poor young girls, she took it as a sign of her calling and in 1894 opened the Institute of St. Joseph in a palace inherited from her parents.

She began a religious community of Third Order Carmelites who live an active apostolate according to the spirituality of the great reformers of Carmel, which since 1970 is called the Carmelite Sisters of Saint Teresa of Turin, and has two branches, one contemplative and one active.

She died in the monastery of Cascine Vica on Oct. 7, 1949, having lived an active life centered on contemplation.

The other persons declared ‘Venerable’ are: Bishop Antonio Jose de Souza Barroso of Porto (1854-1918); Bishop Jose de Jesus López y González of Aguascalientes, founder of the Congregation of the Maestro Catholic Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (1872-1950); Bishop Agostino Ernesto Castrillo, OFM, of San Marco and Bisignano, (1904-1955); Fr. Giacomo da Balduina, OFM Cap., (1900-1948); and Sr. Umiltà Patlán Sánchez of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (1895-1970).

Pope Francis, German Chancellor discuss need to fight poverty, hunger

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 17:59

Vatican City, Jun 17, 2017 / 05:59 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Saturday, Pope Francis and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met at the Vatican, agreeing on the need to dedicate special attention to the responsibility of the international community in addressing issues of poverty and hunger.

According to a brief June 17 Vatican communique, the “cordial discussions” also included a conversation on the upcoming G20 meeting in Hamburg, as well as concern for the global threats of terrorism and climate change.  

The fourth formal meeting of the leaders, the exchange was friendly, the communique stating that the “good relations and fruitful collaboration between the Holy See and Germany were evoked.”

In a press conference following the audience, Merkel said that their conversation included a discussion of their unified desire that the world tear down walls and fight for international treaties, with a special emphasis on the plight in Africa.

Speaking of international treaties, in the press conference Merkel also expressed her disappointment at the United States’ departure from the Paris climate agreement.

In the meeting, Pope Francis expressed his condolences for the death of former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who died on Friday. In a message to Merkel, the Pope said that he learned of the news of his death “with emotion.”

“I would like to express my condolences to your family members and to you and to all the German people who empathize with the ‘Chancellor of the Unity,’” he said. “Chancellor Kohl, who is a great and trusted European man, has worked with foresight and dedication for the good of people in Germany and in the neighboring European countries.”

Written in German, the telegram also stated the Pope’s wish that the “Merciful God” will reward him “for his tireless efforts in favor of unity of Germany and the union of Europe, as well as for his commitment to peace and reconciliation.”

The Lord gives eternal joy and life in heaven to those who have died, Francis said, imploring the consolation and blessing of God on the Kohl’s family and all who mourn him.

Near the end of their meeting, the Pope gifted Merkel a small bronze sculpture of an olive branch, symbolizing peace.

He also gave her the customary gift of copies of his environmental encyclical Laudato Si, his 2015 Apostolic Exhortation on the family “Amoris Laetitia,” and his 2013 exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium,” all in German.

For her part, Merkel gave the Pope a gift of three jars of the Argentinian dessert, Dulce de leche, along with a CD set of symphonic works by Beethoven.

Afterward, Merkel met with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher.

The Pope and Merkel have met for formal audiences at the Vatican three other times: in 2013, 2015 and 2016. Their first encounter was exchanged in St. Peter’s Basilica May 19, 2013, for the occasion of the Pope’s official installation Mass as Bishop of Rome.

June 16, the evening prior to the audience, Merkel met at the German Embassy with Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner, head of the Center for Child Protection (CCP) at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and a member of the Vatican's Commission for the Protection of Minors.

According to a tweet by Fr. Zollner, the two discussed the topic of the safeguarding of minors.

Pope Francis expresses sorrow for victims of London Grenfell Tower fire

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 16:05

Vatican City, Jun 17, 2017 / 04:05 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Saturday Pope Francis expressed his sorrow for the victims of a devastating fire at Grenfell Tower in London, offering his condolences for the families of those who have died.

A June 17 telegram sent to Cardinal Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster, stated that Pope Francis "was saddened to learn of the devastating fire in London and of the tragic loss of life and injury."

The Pope “entrusts the souls of those who have died to the Lord's loving mercy and offers his heartfelt condolences to their families,” it stated.

Signed by Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the telegram went on to express the Pope's appreciation "for the brave efforts of the emergency service personnel and all committed to supporting those who have lost their homes."

Concluding, Francis also invoked upon the whole local community "God's blessings of strength and peace."  

On June 14, just after midnight, a fire began on the fourth floor of Grenfell Tower located in north Kensington, a district of west London. The 24-story building is home to hundreds of people, and the fire blazed until early in the morning.

The cause of the fire is still unknown. A fire investigation report will not be released publicly until the opening of full inquests into those who have died, which could take years, the Guardian reports.

So far, 30 people are confirmed dead, while more than 70 people remain unaccounted for, and friends and family are scrambling to connect with their loved ones. As of Wednesday, some 70 people had been hospitalized for injuries sustained in the incident, including 20 people whose condition is critical.

Hundreds of others who escaped the flames have still lost their homes and all of their belongings, but Catholic parishes in the surrounding area have quickly begun receiving donations of food, clothes, and water to be distributed.

Saint Clemente, one nearby church, has seen such an outpouring that it has asked for future donations to be given to a church a few blocks away.

In the wake of the tragedy, grief has also led to anger at what has been perceived as a failure by authorities to take seriously the concerns of Grenfell residents prior to the fire, as well as a lack of official presence and coordination in the hours following.

Protests have gathered steam and on Friday demonstrators stormed Kensington town hall calling on authorities to provide financial support for victims and to rehouse residents within the borough.

Is there a pontifical commission to reinterpret Humanae vitae?

Sat, 06/17/2017 - 05:19

Vatican City, Jun 16, 2017 / 05:19 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- As rumors abound concerning a Vatican commission to reinterpret Humanae vitae in light of Amoris laetitia, the controversial president of the Pontifical Academy for Life has rejected these rumors.

“I can confirm that there is no pontifical commission called to re-read or to re-interpret Humanae vitae. However, we should look positively on all those initiatives, such as that of professor Marengo of the John Paul II Institute, which aim at studying and deepening this document in view of the 50th anniversary of its publication,” Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia told CNA.

Vatican reporter Marco Tosatti first reported in May, citing unnamed Vatican sources, that Pope Francis had, or was about to, form a “secret commission” to examine and suggest modifications to the Church's teaching on contraception, as laid out in Bl. Paul VI's 1968 encyclical Humanae vitae.

And on Wednesday, Roberto de Mattei of Corrispondenza Romana reported that Msgr. Gilfredo Marengo, a professor at the John Paul II Institute, would coordinate the commission.

Corrispondenza Romana said the commission was composed of Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri, head of the John Paul II Institute, Professor Philippe Chenaux, a professor of Church history at the Pontifical Lateran University, and Msgr. Angelo Maffeis, head of the Paul VI Institute in Brescia.

Citing Msgr. Marengo's previous writings, de Mattei presented the priest as someone who would be in favor of reviewing Bl. Paul VI's teaching against the use of contraceptives.

Speaking to CNA, Msgr. Marengo dismissed what he described as the “imaginative report” about him heading a commission to review Humanae vitae, and referred to his own writings on Amoris laetitia to “fully understand my theological path.”
 
He has written that Amoris laetitia shows Pope Francis' path “toward a decentralization of doctrinal issues,” and that “whenever the Christian community falls into the error of proposing models of life derived from too-abstract and artificially constructed theological ideals, it conceives its pastoral action as the schematic application of a doctrinal paradigm.”

Msgr. Marengo told CNA that “the issue of a conciliation between Amoris laetitia and Humanae vitae is not in the agenda.”
 
“I have found it always harmful to invent answers to useless questions,” said Msgr. Marengo,  though he added that “theological and pastoral reflection have still a long way to go in order to gain a proper and fruitful understanding of both Paul VI’s and Pope Francis’ texts.”

Archbishop Paglia also told CNA that “there is in fact no doubt that the heart of Humanae vitae – the value of human procreation – is a theme on which we all need to reflect with much attention; the breaking of the marriage-family-procreation triptych is a risk which the Church and all of human society cannot take.”

The archbishop was appointed head of the Pontifical Academy for Life in 2016, and he has come under sharp scrutiny and criticism from former members who are concerned by his actions.

And while Archbishop Paglia was head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, the dicastery organized seminars on marriage and family life in which many of the participants suggested a “penitential path” that would allow the divorced-and-remarried to receive sacramental Communion while still engaging in sexual relations. The seminars' lectures were published with a foreword by Archbishop Paglia.

Interest in the reception of Humanae vitae is increasing, as the encyclical nears the 50th anniversary of its publication. In view of the anniversary, papers and studies on the text will be prepared and published.

A source in the Pontifical Lateran University, speaking on background, told CNA there is ongoing research in the university archives on the encyclical's genesis.

It may be that what has been reported as a “papal commission” is one of the many study groups on Humanae vitae created as its major anniversary approaches.

In fact, the source at the Pontifical Lateran University told CNA that “many studies are underway” and that “Pope Francis has been informed of them, and has encouraged them.”

Pope picks secretary for Dicastery on Integral Human Development

Fri, 06/16/2017 - 21:32

Vatican City, Jun 16, 2017 / 09:32 am (CNA/EWTN News).- On Friday, the Vatican announced Pope Francis’ pick of human rights expert Fr. Bruno-Marie Duffé for secretary of the Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development, making him the final piece of the leadership puzzle for the new department.

From the French diocese of Lyon, Fr. Duffé's appointment completes a period of development for the dicastery, which went into effect Jan. 1 and combines the former Pontifical Councils for Justice and Peace, Cor Unum, Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, and Healthcare Workers.

The new mega-dicastery is headed by Cardinal Peter Turkson, who since March 2013 had served as president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Francis also formed a special Migrants and Refugees Section within the dicastery, with himself as head, at least for the time being.

With Fr. Duffé's appointment, the leadership of the dicastery is finally complete. Previously, Fr. Duffé was a member of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Born on Aug. 21, 1951 in Lyon, France, Fr. Duffé, 65, was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Lyon in 1981.

He holds a doctorate in political philosophy, a master’s in theology, and a diploma from the School of Advanced Social Studies of Science and the Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.

He’s been a professor of moral theology and social doctrine of the Church at the Catholic University of Lyon and the Jesuit Center of Baume lex Aix since 1982.

From 1985-2004 he co-founded and later directed the Institute for Human Rights at the Catholic University of Lyon, actively contributing to the creation of the UNESCO Chair on minority rights.

He served as chaplain of the Regional Center for Cancer Control from 2004-2014, and co-chaired the Ethics Committee at Léon Bérard.  

Episcopal Vicar of “Family, Health and Society” since 2012, he works on the Diocesan Council of Solidarity, created in 2013. He also initiated a coordination for the migrant crisis for the Diocese of Lyon.

From 1999 to 2015 he visited Haiti, Rwanda, Kosovo, Ukraine, Algeria, Cameroon, Israel, and Palestine. In some of these countries, he accompanied groups of young people, students and teachers.

He speaks French, English, Spanish and Italian.

While the original name of the new congregation for Integral Human Development was initially expected to include the elements of the councils it will merge, the final choice is a reflection of Pope Francis’ own personal style and is reminiscent of themes he has spoken of frequently since his election.

In his Motu Proprio “Humanam progressionem,” signed Aug. 17, 2016 Pope Francis stressed that the Church is called to promote the integral development of the human person in the light of the Gospel, which “takes place by attending to the inestimable goods of justice, peace, and the care of creation.”

He approved the statutes for the new dicastery “ad experimentum,” explaining that it will be competent “particularly in issues regarding migrants, those in need, the sick, the excluded and marginalized, the imprisoned and the unemployed, as well as victims of armed conflict, natural disasters, and all forms of slavery and torture.”

 

In book foreword, Pope Francis calls corruption a 'cancer'

Thu, 06/15/2017 - 23:02

Vatican City, Jun 15, 2017 / 11:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis, in a foreword to a work by Cardinal Peter Turkson, has said corruption infects the world like a cancer, and the Church must combat it by working together with society, infusing it with mercy.

“We must all work together, Christians, non-Christians, people of all faiths and non-believers, to combat this form of blasphemy, this cancer that weighs our lives,” the Pope wrote.

“It is urgent to take notice of it, and this is why we need education and a merciful culture, we need cooperation on the part of everyone according to their own possibilities, their talents, their creativity.”

Hi words on corruption were written in a foreword for Corrosion, a book-length interview of Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, published June 15.

The interview was conducted by Vittorio V. Alberti, a member of the Cardinal Turkson's dicastery.

The book was presented at the Vatican during an “International Debate on Corruption.” Italian daily Corriere della Sera published the Pope’s foreword June 14, just ahead of the book’s release.

Corruption, Francis wrote, in its Italian etymological root, means “a tear, break, decomposition, and disintegration.”

The life of a human being can be understood in the context of his many relationships: with God, with his neighbor, with creation, the Pope said.

“This threefold relationship – in which man's self-reflection also falls – gives context and sense to his actions and, in general, to his life,” but these are destroyed by corruption.

When we respect these relationships we are honest, responsible, and work for the common good. But when corruption enters in, they become torn. “Thus, corruption expresses the general form of disordered life of the decayed man,” he said.

And this has an effect on all of society.

What, for example, he asked, is at the root of exploitation, degradation, human trafficking, trafficking of weapons and drugs, social injustice, lack of service for people? What is the origin of slavery, unemployment, carelessness for cities, common goods, and nature?

Corruption “is a profound cultural question that needs to be addressed.”

But in order to address it, we must understand the different forms of corruption, besides merely the political, like those that infect even the average person.

For example, Francis said, our corruption can be a “spiritual worldliness, tepidness, hypocrisy, triumphalism, to make prevail only the spirit of the world in our lives, a sense of indifference.”

In the book, Cardinal Turkson explains the ramifications of these different forms of corruption, he continued, focusing in particular on the origins of corruption: which, “in fact, sprouts in the heart of man and can sprout in the heart of all men.”

“We are, in fact, all very exposed to the temptation of corruption: even when we think it has been defeated, it can be present again,” he said.

Cardinal Turkson explores the different types of corruption, including spiritual, cultural, political, and criminal, as well as the various ways in which they come about and insinuate themselves into our lives. Putting these together, he shows what the Church must do, the Pope said.

“The Church must listen, raise herself and bend herself on the sorrows and hopes of people according to mercy, and must do so without fear of purifying herself, assiduously seeking a way to improve.”

“Henri de Lubac wrote that the greatest danger for the Church is spiritual worldliness – therefore corruption – which is more disastrous than the infamous leprosy.”

“And it is with this awareness that we, men and women of the Church, can accompany ourselves and the suffering humanity, especially those most oppressed by the criminal consequences and degradation created by corruption.”

To fight the many ways we may allow corruption into our lives, we must join together, Francis said. On our own we are like individual pieces of snow, both Christians and non-Christians. But united, we can become like an avalanche, he explained: “a strong and constructive movement.”

“Here is the new humanism, this renaissance, this re-creation against corruption that we can accomplish with prophetic audacity.”

Writing from inside the Vatican, Francis reflected on the ways beauty can transcend sin and corruption.

“This beauty is not a cosmetic accessory, but something that puts the human person in the center so that it can lift the head against all injustices,” he said.

“This beauty should marry with justice. Thus we must speak about corruption, denounce evils, understand it, and show the will to affirm mercy for grief, curiosity and creativity for resigned fatigue, beauty for nothing.”

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