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Pope Francis: ‘Catholic Church committed to protecting migrants’

Mon, 06/12/2017 - 15:24
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has sent a message to the President of the Latin American and Caribbean Parliament (Parlatino) on the occasion of its 33rd General Assembly. Addressing his letter to Ms. Blanca Alcalá, the Parlatino president, Pope Francis reflects on migration in Latin America and the Caribbean, the theme of the Assembly. He said the initiative “aims to help and make life more dignified for those who, having a homeland, regrettably do not find in their countries adequate conditions of security and subsistence, and are compelled to migrate to other places.” The Holy Father goes on to highlight three words related to migration: reality, dialogue, and commitment. Related to reality, he said that behind every emigrant lies “a human being with a history of his own, with a culture and ideals.” “Dialogue,” he said, “is essential to foster solidarity with those who have been deprived of their fundamental rights, as well as to increase willingness to accommodate those who flee from dramatic and inhuman situations.” Turning to commitment, Pope Francis renewed his call “to stop human trafficking, which is a scourge. Human beings cannot be treated as objects or commodities, for each one carries with him the image of God.” In conclusion, the Pope urged governments to protect all those who reside in their territory, despite their provenance. “I reiterate the commitment of the Catholic Church, through the presence of the local and regional Churches, to responding to this wound that many brothers and sisters of ours carry with them.” Please find below the English translation of the letter: To Ms. Blanca Alcalá President of the Latin American and Caribbean Parliament Madam President, On the occasion of the Forum “High Level Parliamentary Dialogue on Migration in Latin America and the Caribbean: Realities and Commitments towards Global Compact”, I greet you as President and, along with you, all who will take part in this event. I congratulate you on this initiative that aims to help and make life more dignified for those who, having a homeland, regrettably do not find in their countries adequate conditions of security and subsistence, and are compelled to migrate to other places. From the title of your meeting I would like to highlight three words, which invite reflection and work: reality, dialogue and commitment. First, reality. It is important to know the reason for migration and what characteristics it presents in our continent. This requires not only analysis of this situation from “the study desk”, but also in contact with people, that is to say with real faces. Behind every emigrant there is a human being with a history of his own, with a culture and ideals. Aseptic analysis produces sterile measurements; on the other hand, a relationship with a person in the flesh helps us to perceive the deep scars that he carries with him, caused by the reason, or the unreason, of his migration. This meeting will help to provide valid responses for migrants and host countries, as well as ensuring that agreements and security measures are examined from direct experience, observing whether or not they conform to reality. As members of a large family, we must work to place the “person” at the centre (cf. Address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, 9 January 2017); this is not a mere number or an abstract entity but a brother or sister who needs our help and a friendly hand. Dialogue is indispensable in this work. One cannot work in isolation; we all need each other. We have to be “capable of leaving behind a throwaway culture and embracing one of encounter and acceptance” (Message for the World Day of the Migrant and the Refugee, 2014). Joint collaboration is necessary to develop efficient and equitable strategies for the reception of refugees. Achieving a consensus between the parties is a “craft”; a meticulous, almost imperceptible task but essential for shaping agreements and regulations. All elements must be offered to local governments as well as to the international community in order to develop the best pacts for the good of the many, especially those who suffer in the most vulnerable areas of our planet, as well as in some areas of Latin America and the Caribbean. Dialogue is essential to foster solidarity with those who have been deprived of their fundamental rights, as well as to increase willingness to accommodate those who flee from dramatic and inhuman situations. In order to respond to the needs of migrants, commitment is needed from all parties. We cannot dwell on the detailed analysis and the debate of ideas, but we are forced to give a solution to this problem. Latin America and the Caribbean have an important international role and the opportunity to become key players in this complex situation. In this effort, “there is a need for mid-term and long-term planning which is not limited to emergency responses” (Address to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, 11 January 2016). This serves to establish priorities in the region also with a vision of the future, such as the integration of migrants in host countries and assistance in the development of countries of origin. To these are added many other urgent actions, such as care for minors: “All children … have the right to recreation; in a word, they have the right to be children” (Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 2017). They need our care and help, as do their families. In this regard, I renew my call to stop human trafficking, which is a scourge. Human beings cannot be treated as objects or commodities, for each one carries with him the image of God (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 197-201). The work is enormous and we need men and women of good will who, with their concrete commitment, can respond to this “cry” that rises from the heart of the migrant. We cannot close our ears to their call. I urge national governments to assume their responsibilities to all those residing in their territory; and I reiterate the commitment of the Catholic Church, through the presence of the local and regional Churches, to responding to this wound that many brothers and sisters of ours carry with them. Finally, I encourage you in this task that you are carrying out, and I implore the intercession of the Holy Virgin. May She, who also experienced migration in the flight to Egypt with her spouse and her Son Jesus (Mt 2: 13), keep and sustain you with her maternal care. Please, I ask you to pray for me; and I ask the Lord to bless you. Vatican City, 7 June 2017 FRANCIS (from Vatican Radio)...

On Trinity Sunday Pope reflects on mystery of God's identity

Sun, 06/11/2017 - 22:29
(Vatican Radio) On the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, Pope Francis reflected on the “mystery of the identity of God” during the midday recitation of the Angelus in St Peter’s Square. The Holy Father took as his starting point the greeting of St Paul in his Second Letter to the Corinthians: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.” This greeting, he said, was inspired by Paul’s personal experience of the love of God. The Apostle encouraged the Christian community, despite its human limitations, “to become a reflection of the communion of the Trinity, of its goodness and beauty.” But, the Pope said, this comes about only through the experience of the mercy and forgiveness of God. This was the experience of the Jewish people during the Exodus. When they broke the covenant, God came to Moses in the cloud to renew the pact, and revealed His own proper Name and its significance: “the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.” The Pope said this name shows us that "God is not distant and closed in on Himself”; rather, He is “Life which wishes to communicate itself; He is openness; He is Love which redeems man’s infidelity." The revelation of God's Name in the Old Testament, he continued, is fulfilled in the New, in the words of Christ and His mission of salvation. Jesus, he said, “has shown us the face of God, One in substance and Triune in Persons; God is all and only Love, in a subsisting relationship that creates, redeems, and sanctifies all: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” This is the context of the scene from the Gospel where Christ speaks with Nicodemus. Although Nicodemus was an important figure in the community, he never stopped seeking God. But speaking with Jesus, he comes to know that God has already sought him; that God waits for him, that God loves him personally. Here we find the famous words of Christ: “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” This eternal life is none other than “the immeasurable and gratuitous love of the Father that Jesus gave on the Cross, offering His life for our salvation.” Pope Francis concluded his reflection with the prayer that the Virgin Mary might “help us to enter ever more, with our whole selves, into the trinitarian Communion, to live and bear witness to the love that gives sense to our existence.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope receives delegation from Nigerian Diocese of Ahiara

Sat, 06/10/2017 - 21:25
(Vatican Radio) At an audience for a delegation from the Nigerian Diocese of Ahiara , Pope Francis said he had been “deeply saddened” by the refusal of the diocese to accept the Bishop appointed for them. During the audience, the Pope requested explicitly that the diocese receive Bishop Peter Ebere Okpaleke , who was appointed to Ahiara by Pope Benedict in 2012. In his address to the delegation, the Holy Father, while asking pardon for the harsh language, said the Church in Ahiara “is like a widow for having prevented the Bishop from coming to the diocese.” He called to mind the parable, from the Gospel of Matthew, of the murderous tenants who wanted to steal the inheritance. “In this current situation, the Diocese of Ahiara is without the bridegroom, has lost her fertility, and cannot bear fruit. Whoever is opposed to Bishop Okpaleke taking possession of the diocese wants to destroy the Church.” In such a situation, Pope Francis continued, where the Church is suffering, “the Pope cannot remain indifferent.” In response to that situation, which he described as “an attempted taking over of the vineyard of the Lord,” Pope Francis asked “every priest or ecclesiastic incardinated in the Diocese of Ahiara, whether he resides there or works elsewhere, even abroad, write a letter addressed to me in which he asks for forgiveness; all must write individually and personally. We all must share this common sorrow.” Whoever fails to do so within thirty days, the Pope said, “will be ipso facto [by that very fact] suspended a divinis [‘from divine things,’  such as the celebration of the sacraments] and will lose his current office.” This course of action was necessary, he continued, “Because the people of God are scandalized. Jesus reminds us that whoever causes scandal must suffer the consequences. Maybe someone has been manipulated without having full awareness of the wound inflicted upon the ecclesial communion.” Following the Pope’s address, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja and Apostolic Administrator of Ahiara, thanked the Holy Father. Following his remarks, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, asked the Holy Father that the Diocese of Ahiara, with its Bishop, might make a pilgrimage to Rome to meet with him when the situation was resolved; a request the Pope accepted. The Audience concluded with a prayer to Mary and the blessing of the Holy Father. The full text of Pope Francis’ address can be read below: I cordially greet the delegation and thank you for coming from Nigeria in a spirit of pilgrimage. For me, this meeting is a consolation because I am deeply saddened by the events of the Church in Ahiara. In fact, the Church (and excuse the wording) is like a widow for having prevented the Bishop from coming to the Diocese. Many times I have thought about the parable of the murderous tenants, of which the Gospel speaks (cf. Mt 21:33-44), that want to grasp the inheritance. In this current situation the Diocese of Ahiara is without the bridegroom, has lost her fertility and cannot bear fruit. Whoever was opposed to Bishop Okpaleke taking possession of the Diocese wants to destroy the Church. This is forbidden; perhaps he does not realize it, but the Church is suffering as well as the People of God within her. The Pope cannot be indifferent. I know very well the events that have been dragging on for years and I am thankful for the attitude of great patience of the Bishop, indeed the holy patience demonstrated by him. I listened and reflected much, even about the possibility of suppressing the Diocese, but then I thought that the Church is a mother and cannot abandon her many children. I feel great sorrow for those priests who are being manipulated even from abroad and from outside the Diocese. I think that, in this case, we are not dealing with tribalism, but with an attempted taking of the vineyard of the Lord. The Church is a mother and whoever offends her commits a mortal sin, it’s very serious. However, I decided not to suppress the Diocese. Instead, I wish to give some indications that are to be communicated to all: first of all it must be said that the Pope is deeply saddened. Therefore, I ask that every priest or ecclesiastic incardinated in the Diocese of Ahiara, whether he resides there or works elsewhere, even abroad, write a letter addressed to me in which he asks for forgiveness; all must write individually and personally. We all must share this common sorrow. In the letter: 1.      one must clearly manifest total obedience to the Pope, and 2.      whoever writes must be willing to accept the Bishop whom the Pope sends and has appointed. 3.      The letter must be sent within 30 days, from today to July 9th, 2017. Whoever does not do this will be  ipso facto  suspended  a divinis  and will lose his current office. This seems very hard, but why must the Pope do this? Because the people of God are scandalized. Jesus reminds us that whoever causes scandal must suffer the consequences. Maybe someone has been manipulated without having full awareness of the wound inflicted upon the ecclesial communion. To you brothers and sisters, I would like to express my sincere thanks for your presence; and also to Cardinal Onaiyekan for his patience and to Bishop Okpaleke, whose patience and humility I admire. Thank you all.   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis visits Italian President Matarella at Quirinale

Sat, 06/10/2017 - 18:12
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis paid an official visit on Saturday to the President of Italy, Sergio Matarella at the Quirinale palace in Rome. During his visit he spoke of  “the Church in Italy as being strongly linked to the soul of the country.” Listen to our report: The last time Pope Francis visited the Quirinale, the residence of the President of Italy and of Popes of the past, was back in November 2013 during the Presidency of Giorgio Napolitano, but this time the Holy Father was paying a call on Sergio Mattarella, President of the Republic since 2015. In the majestic surroundings of this historic palace Pope Francis in a speech to the President spoke about Christian hope in a world of problems and risks. The Pope said that Italy and the whole of Europe were being called to deal with problems such as international terrorism, “the widespread migratory phenomenon and the serious and persistent social and economic imbalances in many areas of the world.” As far as the vast and complex migratory phenomenon is concerned, Pope Francis commented that  “it is clear that a few nations cannot bear the full burden, adding, “for this reason, it is indispensable and urgent to develop a comprehensive and intensive international cooperation.” But the Holy Father also noted that Italy, “through the generous nature of its citizens and the commitment of its institutions was working to transform these challenges into growth opportunities and new opportunities. Pope Francis in particular highlighted the work being done by Italy to help refugees who land on its shores, and the commitment of volunteers and parishes especially during the earthquakes that hit Central Italy last year, highlighting that this was Christianity at work. Another issue that the Pope returned to during his address was that of employment and he reiterated his call “for generating and accompanying processes that give rise to new decent working opportunities.” To those gathered in the Quirinale the Holy Father stressed that “the Church in Italy is a vital reality, strongly linked to the soul of the country…” In conclusion, Pope Francis said that “in the Catholic Church and in the principles of Christianity…, Italy will always find the best ally for the growth of society, for its concord and for its true progress.”   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis to Scholas Occurrentes: ‘Education not only for elite’

Sat, 06/10/2017 - 01:43
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Friday evening inaugurated the new Vatican office of the Scholas Occurrentes Foundation, which promotes an interface of education, art and sport to create a “culture of encounter for peace”. For the occasion, Pope Francis connected with young members of the group from 9 countries via a live feed. Those joining the Holy Father included students from Italy, Colombia, Haiti, Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: Speaking to young people of the Scholas Occurrentes via a live video feed, Pope Francis warned against making education something only for the “elite”. Elitism in education “There is a great danger in the area of education for young people: that of elitism. Gradually, monetary support for education in some places is eroded and an elite is created which can afford to pay for education.” The Pope said this attitude “excludes young boys and girls who have no education”. Rather, he said, “Education is not about knowing things or taking lessons but about being able to use three lingos: those of the head, the heart, and the hands.” He said this means "learning so that you can think about what you feel and do, can feel what you think and do, and can do what you feel and think. Unity within a person." Globalization like a polyhedron Turning to the theme of globalization, Pope Francis said it is a good thing but that there is the danger of understanding it as “a billiard ball: A sphere in which every point is equidistant from the center and personal characteristics of a boy or girl are cancelled out. Either you conform to the system or you don’t exist!” He said true globalization is like a polyhedron with many facets, where “we strive for unity but each person maintains their uniqueness and richness”. In conclusion, the Pope told the young people that they have it within themselves to discover their own path, especially through solidarity with others. “A life that is not shared with others: Do you know what purpose it serves? For the museum! And I don’t think any of you wants to end up in a museum!” Scholas Occurrentes Foundation Founded by Pope Francis on 13 August 2013, the Scholas Occurrentes Foundation is an international organization of Pontifical right whose primary objective is the promotion of a “culture of encounter for peace through education, technology, art, and sport”. The new office inaugurated by the Pope on Friday evening is housed at the St. Callixtus Palace and will serve as the Foundation’s base for operations in Italy. It is present in 190 countries with a network of nearly half a million schools of all religious confessions, as well as both public and private lay schools. The movement got its start 20 years ago in Argentina when Jorge Mario Bergoglio – now Pope Francis – was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis sends condolences to Tehran attack victims

Fri, 06/09/2017 - 21:32
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Friday sent his condolences for the victims of Wednesday's terrorist attack in Tehran, Iran, saying he "laments this senseless and grave act of violence". The Holy Father's words were conveyed in a telegramme sent by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State. Along with his "heartfelt condolences to all those affected by the barbaric attack in Tehran", the Pope "commends the souls of the deceased to the mercy of the Almighty". He also "assures the people of Iran of his prayers for peace". Please find below the original English version of the telegramme: Telegram of the Holy Father His Holiness Pope Francis sends his heartfelt condolences to all those affected by the barbaric attack in Tehran, and laments this senseless and grave act of violence. In expressing his sorrow for the victims and their families, His Holiness commends the souls of the deceased to the mercy of the Almighty, and he assures the people of Iran of his prayers for peace. Cardinal Pietro Parolin Secretary of State (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope: In moments of darkness choose the path of prayer, patience and hope in God

Fri, 06/09/2017 - 19:51
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Friday urged Christians not to fall into the trap of vanity in moments of pain and sorrow but rather resort to prayer patience and hope in God.  Do not be misled by the "cosmetic beauty" of vanity, but let that "joy of God" enter your hearts, thanking the Lord for the "salvation" he grants us. Pope Francis made the exhortation in his homily at Mass Friday morning, in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta residence in the Vatican. Reflecting on the first reading from the Book of Tobit, the Pope went through the story of a father-in-law and a daughter-in-law: Tobit, the father of Tobiah who became blind, and Sarah, Tobiah's wife, accused in the past of being responsible for the death of some men.  The Pope explained it’s a passage in which one understands how the Lord carries forward the "history" and "the life of persons, including ours”.  In fact, he said, Tobit and Sarah lived through “bad times” and “good times”, as “it happens in an entire life”.  Tobit was “persecuted,” “teased" and "insulted" by his wife, who after all, the Pope said, was not a bad woman, because she had to manage the house as he was blind. Even Sarah was insulted and suffered much.  Passing through some very bad times, both of them, the Holy Father said, thought “it’s better to die.” "We’ve all been through bad times, though not as bad as this, but we know how its feels in times of darkness, in moments of pain, in times of difficulty, we know.  But then Sara thinks, 'If I hang myself, I will make my parents suffer.’  So she stops and prays. And Tobit says, 'But this is my life, let's go ahead' and he prays.  This is the attitude that saves us in bad times,– prayer. Patience - because both of them are patient with their pains. And hope - that God will listen to us and help us tide over these bad moments.  In moments of sadness, little or much, in moments of darkness, prayer, patience and hope. Do not forget this." There are also bright moments in their stories but the Pope stressed it is like a “happy ending” of a novel. "After the test, the Lord comes close to them and saves them. But there are some beautiful and authentic moments, not with beautiful makeup that everything is artificial, all fireworks which is not the beauty of the soul. And what do both of them do in the beautiful moments? They thank God, broadening their hearts with prayers of thanksgiving." The Pontiff exhorted all to ask themselves whether in various phases of life we are able to discern what is happening in our soul, aware that the bad moments are "the crosses" and that one needs “to pray, to have patience and have at least a bit of hope."  One must avoid falling into "vanity" because "the Lord is always there” beside us when we turn “to Him in prayer" and thank Him for the joy that He has given us.  Through discernment Sarah realized that she should not end up hanging herself; Tobit realized that he had to "wait, in prayer and in hope for the Lord's salvation." Pope Francis invited all to re-read these passages of the Bible: "While reading this Book this weekend, let us ask for grace of discerning what happens in the bad times of our lives and how to go on and what happens in the beautiful moments and not be misled by vanity." (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: central role of women interfaith dialogue

Fri, 06/09/2017 - 19:29
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Friday with participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, who have been discussing the key contribution of women to interfaith relations. Listen to Philippa Hitchen’s report: The Pope began by noting how often women’s work and dignity is threatened by violence and hatred which tears families and societies apart. Faced with the challenges of our globalized world, he said, there is a vital need to recognize the abilities of women to teach values of unity and fraternity which can transform the human family.   It is therefore to the benefit of society that women have a growing presence in social, political and economic life - as well as in the life of the Church - at national and international level, the Pope said. Women’s rights, he insisted, must be affirmed and protected, including, if necessary, through legal means. In their role as educators in the family and beyond, the Pope continued, women have a particular vocation to foster innovative ways of welcoming and respecting others. Whether or not they are mothers, the contribution of women in the field of education is invaluable, he said. Women and men, Pope Francis said, through their different roles and intuitions, are both called to the task of teaching fraternity and peace. Women, who are so intimately connected to the mystery of life, can contribute much through their care of life and their conviction that love is the only power able to make the world more habitable for each one of us. Women, the Pope noted, are often the only ones to be found accompanying others, especially the weakest members of families or societies. Through their care of victims of conflict and all those facing the daily challenges of life, they teach us how to overcome our throwaway culture. The Pope concluded by highlighting the importance of these values in the work of interreligious dialogue. In the so-called dialogue of life, where women are often more involved than men, they can help us better understand the challenges of our multicultural societies. But beyond that, he stressed, many women are well prepared to contribute to the religious and theological discussions at the highest levels, alongside their male counterparts. It is more necessary than ever that they do so, he said, so that their skills of listening, welcoming, and openness to others can be of service in weaving the delicate fabric of dialogue between all men and women of good will.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Aleppo bishop: '1 Minute for Peace initiative important for Syria'

Thu, 06/08/2017 - 21:55
(Vatican Radio) Men and women of goodwill across the globe on Thursday responded to Pope Francis' call to join in prayer to participate in the “ One Minute for Peace ” initiative. The Pope's appeal for prayers and international participation in the initiative came during his Wednesday General Audience when he recalled that the initiative represents a short moment a of prayer on the recurrence of the meeting in the Vatican between the Pope, the late Israeli President Peres, and the Palestinian President Abbas. Their encounter took place in the Vatican Gardens on 8 June 2014, during which the three men prayed together for peace. “In our days, Pope Francis said, there is a great need to pray – Christians, Jews, and Muslims – for peace.” Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni spoke to Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo , in Syria, about the significance of “One Minute for Peace”: Listen : Bishop Antoine Audo says it is important and he expresses his admiration for Pope Francis, whom he said, “uses little things to not forget peace and to say that everybody is able to build peace in the world”. Audo says this is a very Christian way to oppose war and to express our faith, with our roots in the reality it is a way, he explains to be incarnate – to be “hic et nunc” as it is defined in theology. “I admire this initiative: it helps us a lot. But at the same time as bishop living in Aleppo and Syria I have to say we are very tired about the perspective of peace; we wait, we wait, we wait, and at the same time our families and young people are leaving to emigrate and this is a very big sadness for us” he says. The bishop says the situation, in particular of Christians in Syria, who are a small minority is difficult, but “we continue to stay rooted in the faith and in the truth and after that, we will see.” Audo speaks of the current situation in Syria's largest city, which in over six years of violence has become the biggest symbol of the damage wrought by the Syrian war.  He says that since Christmas there have not been bombings as the fighting is now continuing outside the city. He says they can hear the bombing but generally the situation is more peaceful, the situation less stressful than a few months ago. “But without regular water, without electricity, and the big problem is the economic situation; there are no jobs and 80% of the people are without a job” he says. As Pope Francis points out, Audo says, “Work is dignity”:  “we have lost our dignity; everybody has become poor and asking for food aid to live”. He also said that a big problem today is the obligation for young people to enroll in the military service, so you have so many young people who are very afraid of being forced to fight and they flee. “This means the war is not finished yet” he says. Regarding the current fear of terrorist attacks and the idea that situations of conflict, marginalization and exclusion provide fertile soil for radicalization, Bishop Audo says he believes that most of those attracted to extremist militancy are Sunnite youths, without any hope. “If we look at the psychological level I think they are experiencing a big humiliation before the West generally; the powerful West is dominating, is leading politically with its provocative culture of ‘teaching’ others; ‘the West is bringing human rights, civilization.’ And on the other hand, according to the point of view both of educated and of simple people, they are experiencing a big humiliation” he says. This, Audo says, is a big fault of the western world because “I think the West has lost faith in God and in Christ so it is not able to have the sensitivity to respect the other; everything is power, everything is finance, everything is strategies and there is no future for these politics.”                          (from Vatican Radio)...

Card. Turkson to UN: Holy See committed to ocean sustainability

Thu, 06/08/2017 - 17:57
(Vatican Radio) The Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Cardinal Peter Turkson, has issued the full text of his prepared statement to the United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of the 14 th Sustainable Development Goal, which deals with Conserving and Sustainably Using the Oceans, Seas and Marine Resources . Please find the full text of Cardinal Turkson’s statement, below… ***************************************** Statement of His Eminence Peter Cardinal Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, Head of the Delegation of the Holy See to the United Nations Conference to Support the Implementation of SDG 14: Conserve and Sustainably Use the Oceans, Seas and Marine Resources for Sustainable Development New York, 5-9 June 2017 Distinguished Co-Chairs, Last month the Holy See launched a new initiative called “ Laudato Si’  Challenge,” in a roll out that included the President of the United Nations General Assembly and prominent business and political leaders from across the globe. The goal of this project is to highlight the importance of environmental concerns in making business decisions, planning projects, and influencing law and policy.  The Holy See is committed to continuing and strengthening these efforts. Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 14 is in everyone’s interest, because the gravity of the issues confronting our oceans involves the very existence of mankind. Besides providing food and raw materials, the oceans provide various essential environmental benefits such as air purification, a significant role in the global carbon cycle, climate regulation, waste management, the maintenance of food chains and habitats that are critical to life on earth. Pope Francis, in his Encyclical Letter “ Laudato Si’,  On Care for Our Common Home,” appealed to everyone to alter the trajectory of environmental degradation by changing patterns of consumption and lifestyles harmful to the environment. Careless or selfish behavior in our use of resources and in our interaction with the environment must be addressed at all levels, from individual behavior to national policies and international multilateral agreements. To reverse the negative impacts on marine resources and to strengthen the long-term conservation and sustainable use of our oceans, we must integrate ethical considerations in our scientific approaches to environmental issues, because environmental deterioration and human and ethical degradation are closely linked. The environment cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live. We are part of it, included in it and in constant interaction with it. Consequently, a crisis of the environment necessarily means a moment of truth for all of us. As Pope Francis reminded us, “[W]e are not faced with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather one complex crisis that is both social and environmental.” [1]  This compound reality, therefore, demands an integrated approach that simultaneously takes care of the environment, combats poverty and exclusion, assures the collective enjoyment by all of the common good, and fosters intergenerational solidarity. An ethical approach means, above all, taking seriously our responsibility to care for these precious natural resources and to protect those persons, especially the poor and vulnerable, who depend on them for their daily subsistence. Without an approach informed by ethical considerations, we are left with a system where “some are concerned only with financial gain, and others with holding on to or increasing their power,” resulting in “conflicts or spurious agreements where the last thing either party is concerned about is caring for the environment and protecting those who are most vulnerable”. [2] An ethical approach must focus not just on rights but also on obligations. Much of the decline in the health of oceans is a result of emphasizing rights and autonomies to the detriment of personal and national responsibilities. The lack of adequate legal and regulatory frameworks and the failure to implement existing laws, allowing many to take advantage of oversights and gaps, exacerbate this overemphasis on rights at the expense of obligations. Care for our common home, however, is and will always be a moral imperative.  Oceans, and all of us who depend on them, would in particular benefit from this ethical approach. For many years, the health of oceans and seas was not adequately considered, as oceans were thought to be so vast as to not be affected by human activities. We have taken for granted our liberties to use them, enjoying the freedom of navigation, of fishing, of laying cables, and of scientific research, but we have not sufficiently underlined our responsibilities in their proper use.  This is evident in the fact that, other than provisions regarding general care of the environment or pollution, there is no global agreement or institutional body that specifically addresses care and protection of the resources of the oceans. Such an agreement is particularly urgent as ocean resources are more and more intensely harvested. Oceans have value beyond that of fishing and navigation: they are also a vast source of renewable energy and biological and mineral wealth, including those used by the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industries. An ethical approach inspires solidarity with future generations. As Pope Francis reminded us, “[I]ntergenerational solidarity is not optional, but rather a basic question of justice, since the world we have received also belongs to those who will follow us.” [3]  Thus, while our care for our oceans immediately benefits us, it is also a gift to future generations, sparing them from paying the extremely high price of environmental deterioration and allowing them to enjoy its beauty, wonder, and manifold endowment. Distinguished Co-Chairs, In many religious and cultural traditions, water is a symbol of cleansing, renewal and rebirth. It is also, in this sense, that the Holy See welcomes this fresh beginning of a renewed cooperation and coordination of global efforts to conserve and sustainably use our oceans, seas and marine resources. Thank you, Distinguished Co-Chairs. [1]  Pope Francis, Encyclical Letter “Laudato Si’”, 139. [2]  Ibid, 198. [3]  Ibid, 159. (from Vatican Radio)...

Kerala Catholics urged to spread the 'message' of Kandhamal

Thu, 06/08/2017 - 17:42
Catholics in southern India’s Kerala state have been urgedto show greater solidarity with the suffering Christians of Odisha state and spread the message of their exemplary witness.  Cardinal George Alencherry, Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly who heads the eastern-rite Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, made the appeal on June 6 while releasing the Malayalam version of a book by rights advocate and journalist ‎Anto Akkara that details the atrocities of the 2008 anti-Christian violence in Odisha’s Kandhamal district.  The riots orchestrated by Hindu extremists that raged for weeks claimed the lives of more than 100 Christians because they refused to abandon their faith.  Over  6,000 Christian  homes and 300 churches were plundered and torched leaving more than 56,000 homeless. Nearly 9 years after the violence, many Christians are still awaiting justice and compensation from the government. Many have not been able to return to their homes. Akkara’s several books on the Kandhamal riots were the results of several visits to the district.  The Kerala-born journalist has doggedly investigated the violence and meticulously recorded the witness and suffering of the Christians that followed the murder of Hindu leader Swami Laxmanananda which Hindu fundamentalists blamed on Christians, , despite Maoist rebels claiming it. “We have a duty to spread this message," urged Card. Alencherry while releasing the Malayalam version,  “Early Christians of 21st Century”. "The book brings out the brutality” Kandhamal Christians had to suffer. These revelations can touch human conscience and enlighten even non-Christians," Cardinal Alencherry told the assembly of Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC) attended by over 40 Catholic bishops and 150 religious superiors. ‎"This book has touched the nerve centre of human conscience with graphic details of the suffering and witness of Kandhamal Christians who challenge us to 'bear witness to the truth' as Jesus taught," observed. KCBC president Archbishop Maria Callist Soosa Pakiam of Trivandrum.  ‎"The incredible witness of Kandhamal Christians who carry the stamp of crucified‎ Christ, brought out in this book, will aflame the Christian faith and witness in the readers," said Cardinal Baselios Cleemis, the head of the eastern-rite Syro-Malankara Church and president of Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI). ‎In his remarks, Akkara said his revised edition has included several new topics including a chapter on Kerala Christians' strong bond with Kandhamal.  “Hope this will lead to greater concern about Kandhamal in Kerala," he said.  Seven innocent Christian men have been languishing in jail for the murder of Swami Laxmanananda.  Akkara’s book, “Who killed Swami Laxmanananda?” busts the myth of a Christian conspiracy behind the murder.  Apart from unveiling the Hindu nationalist fraud behind Kandhamal with tell-tale evidence, he has also launched an online signature campaign at www.release7innocents.com urging the authorities to release the 7 Christians. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis blesses altar for South Korean sanctuary

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 20:28
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Wednesday blessed an altar destined for a Marian sanctuary in South Korea during his General Audience. The “ Adoratio Domini in unitate et pace ” will be placed in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary in Namyang, South Korea. Pope Francis mentioned the altar in his greetings to Polish pilgrims. He said the request for his blessing of the altar was made by the Queen of Peace Community Association in Radom, Poland. The association is setting up 12 centers for Eucharistic Adoration and perpetual prayer for peace in “hotspots” around the world. The Pope said the group drew its inspiration for the Adoration centers from the “12 stars in the crown of Mary, Queen of Peace”. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: God is a Father; we are never alone

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 20:15
(Vatican Radio) At the weekly General Audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis spoke on “The Fatherhood of God: the Wellspring of our Hope.” He was continuing his series of catechetical instruction on “ Christian Hope .” Pope Francis’ catechesis focused on the Christian prayer par excellence, the Our Father. “The whole mystery of Christian prayer,” he said, “is summed up here, in having the courage to call God Father.” The ability to call God Father, the Pope said, is not insignificant. It would be normal for humans to invoke God using the highest titles, on account of His infinite greatness; instead, the use of the word “Father” puts us “in a relationship of trust with Him, as a child who turns to his dad, knowing he is loved and cared for by him.” The mystery of God’s transcendence always fascinates us, and makes us feel small, but, he said, we are no longer afraid, we do not feel crushed or anguished. God is a Father, the Pope continued, but he is not like human fathers; instead, Jesus offers the parable of the prodigal son, where the father welcomes his child with forgiveness and love. That, he says, is perhaps why St Paul, when referring to this mystery, prefers not to translate the term “abba,” which is more intimate than father, and might better be translated as “papa” or “daddy.” “Dear brothers and sisters,” Pope Francis said, “we are never alone.” Even when we are distant or even hostile to God, even when we might claim to be “without God,” God the Father does not remain distant from us: “He will never be a God ‘without man.’” This providential plan of God is a great mystery. Whatever our needs, whatever our problems, the Pope reminded us that God is our Father, who is always watching over us with love, a Father who will never abandon us.” Pope Francis concluded the audience by asking those in St Peter’s Square to think about their necessities, their problems, and to turn to God in confidence and hope, before leading them in the recitation of the Our Father.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Cardinal Turkson to represent Vatican at EXPO 2017 in Kazakhstan

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 19:42
(Vatican Radio)  Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, will act as the "Commissioner for participation of the Holy See" during the inauguration of the EXPO 2017 Exposition "Future Energy" in Astana, Kazakhstan on 8-11 June. A press release from the Dicastery said the exposition "explores the theme of energy for the future, interpreted as an opportunity for the promotion of humanity and the improvement of the 'common home' on the basis of an equitable and sustainable use of natural resources". Cardinal Turkson will be accompanied at the event by the Apostolic Nuncio in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Archbishop Francis Assisi Chullikatt. The statement says the Vatican's exposition will develop four thematic areas: "The love of God as the origin of the creation of man and of the earth; energy as a tool placed in the hands of man, who has not always made adequate use of it; energy directed towards the development of the person and the care of the common home; and the strength of spirituality, with particular reference to prayer, the search for meaning, and interreligious dialogue." Please find below the full text of the press release: From 8 to 11 June, Cardinal Peter K. A. Turkson, prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, will visit Astana, Kazakhstan, as the “Commissioner for participation of the Holy See” at the inauguration of the EXPO 2017 Exposition, “Future Energy”. The Holy See, which has participated in the Universal Expositions since 1851, will be present with its own pavilion, entitled “Energy for the Common Good: Caring for our Common Home”, realized with the contribution from the local Church. It explores the theme of energy for the future, interpreted as an opportunity for the promotion of humanity and the improvement of the “common home” on the basis of an equitable and sustainable use of natural resources. The display structure of the Holy See, which makes use of digital installations and will enable visitors to be accompanied along photographic, artistic, cultural and spiritual itineraries, develops four thematic areas: the love of God as the origin of the creation of man and of the earth; energy as a tool placed in the hands of man, who has not always made adequate use of it; energy directed towards the development of the person and the care of the common home; and the strength of spirituality, with particular reference to prayer, the search for meaning, and interreligious dialogue. The inauguration of EXPO 2017 will take place on 9 June, and that of the Holy See pavilion in the morning of the following day. Cardinal Turkson will be accompanied by His Excellency Msgr. Francis Assisi Chullikatt, apostolic nuncio in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and by representatives of the local Church. The Holy See National Day is scheduled to take place on 2 September. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis appeals for ‘One Minute for Peace’ initiative

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 17:06
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has appealed for prayers and international participation in the “One Minute for Peace” initiative to be held Thursday, 8 June, at 1:00 PM Rome time. He said the initiative represents “a short moment of prayer on the recurrence of the meeting in the Vatican between me, the late Israeli President Peres, and the Palestinian President Abbas”. Their encounter took place in the Vatican Gardens on 8 June 2014, during which the three men prayed together for peace. The Holy Father said, “In our days, there is a great need to pray – Christians, Jews, and Muslims – for peace.” His appeal came at the conclusion of his Wednesday General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis holds General Audience: English Summary

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 16:25
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis held his Wednesday General Audience in St. Peter's Square, continuing his catechesis on Christian hope. He focused his remarks on Jesus' Our Father prayer as presented in the Gospel of Luke (11:1-4) and on "The Fatherhood of God, wellspring of our Hope". Please find below the official English-language summary: Dear Brothers and Sisters:  In our continuing catechesis on Christian hope, we now consider the source of that hope in the fatherhood of God.  When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he taught them to call God Our Father.  Here we see the great religious revolution introduced by Christianity: taught by the Saviour’s command, we dare to speak to the transcendent and all-holy God as children speak, with complete trust, to a loving father.  In the parable of the merciful father, who welcomes his prodigal son with supreme forgiveness, Jesus speaks to us of the Father’s unconditional love.  In his Letters, Saint Paul twice repeats the original Aramaic word used by Jesus in his prayer: “Abba” (cf. Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6).  As God’s adoptive sons and daughters in the Holy Spirit, we share in the intimate relationship between Jesus and the Father, and this is the basis of our sure hope in God’s saving help.  Each day, as we pray the Lord’s Prayer, may we be confirmed in the knowledge that, in his merciful love, our heavenly Father will watch over us, respond to our petitions, and never abandon us. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope: hypocrisy destoys communities and hurts the Church

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 20:56
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday urged Christians to be truthful,  warning them against the temptations of hypocrisy and flattery. His words came during the homily at morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. Hypocrisy – Pope Francis said – is not the language of Jesus, nor is it the language of Christians, in fact, he said, “the hypocrite is capable of destroying a community”. Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : The Pope explained that Jesus often uses the adjective “hypocrite” to describe the doctors of the law, because, as the etymology of the word illustrates, they claim to have higher standards or more noble beliefs than is the case, they proffer their opinions and issue judgements but in reality they are false. And reflecting on the Gospel reading of the day, the Pope said "The hypocrite always uses language to flatter” just as some Pharisees and Herodians who tried to ensnare Jesus in his speech. “Hypocrites – Francis said – always begin with adulation, “exaggerating the truth, feeding into one’s vanity" and he recalled the case of a priest he met a long time ago whom, he said, “drank-up all the flattery; that, he said, was his weakness”. Jesus makes us see reality which is the opposite of hypocrisy and ideology Flattery, the Pope said, is triggered by “bad intentions” as in the case of the doctors of the law in today’s liturgical reading. They put Jesus to the test, flattering him first and then asking him a question with the intention of making him fall into the wrong: “Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?”  "The hypocrite, Francis said,  is two-faced, but Jesus knew their hypocrisy and said: ‘Why are you testing me? Bring me a denarius to look at.’  Jesus always responds to hypocrites and ideologists with reality: ‘this is the reality; everything else is either hypocrisy or ideology’. In this case he said: ‘bring me a coin’, and he answered with the wisdom of the Lord: ‘Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar – the reality was that the coin carried the image of Caesar - and to God what belongs to God’.” The third aspect, the Pope continued “is that the language of hypocrisy is the language of deceit, it is the same language the serpent used with Eve.” It begins with flattery, he said, and ends up destroying people: “it tears to pieces the personality and the soul of a person. It destroys communities”.  Hypocrisy destroys communities and hurts the Church "Hypocrisy is so bad for the Church” the Pope said with a warning to all those Christians who fall into this sinful and destructful attitude. "The hypocrite is capable of destroying a community. While speaking gently, he ruinously judges a person. He is a killer” he said. Pope Francis concluded exhorting the faithful to remember that the only way to respond to flattery is with truth; the only way to respond to ideology is with reality.  “Let us ask the Lord to guard us from this vice, to help us be truthful, and if this is not possible to keep silent – but never to be a hypocrite” he said. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis to discuss Venezuela crisis with country’s bishops

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 18:36
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis will receive the Presidential Council of the Episcopal Conference of Venezuela in a private audience on Thursday. The meeting was announced on Tuesday in a statement by the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke. The statement reads, “The encounter was requested by the Episcopal Conference itself, which desires to speak to the Pope about the situation in Venezuela.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope tells missionaries to be attentive to dialogue with Islam

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 20:53
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged missionaries to reserve special attention for dialogue with Islam, to promote the dignity of women and the values of the family, to be sensitive to issues of justice and peace The Pope was addressing Consolata Missionaries who have begun their 13th General Chapter in Rome. The Chapter will officially end on June 20th, the feast of Our Lady  Pope Francis expressed his joy at being able to welcome both the male and female branches of the Religious Family founded by Blessed Giuseppe Allamano and he highlighted his appreciation for their particular mission that takes them into challenging situations. In view of the effort to continue to produce abundant good fruits in the Consolata communities and in the missionary activity of the Church, the Pope told the religious that in light of new pastoral urgencies and new forms of poverty they are called to deepen their charism and renew their impetus for evangelization. “While I thank the Lord for the good that you are doing in the world, I urge you use great discernment and consideration of the situations in which the peoples you are working with find themselves in” he said. Encouraging them never to tire of bringing comfort to populations that are often marked by great poverty and acute suffering, as in so many parts of Africa and Latin America, he said: “Let yourself continually be provoked by the concrete realities with which you come in contact and try to offer the testimony of charity that the Spirit has poured into your hearts in a proper way.” Remarking on the fact that - just like that of any family - the history of the religious communities is marked by joys and sorrows, by lights and shadows, and recently, he said “it has been made fruitful thanks to the Cross of Christ”. “How can we not mention your brothers and sisters who loved the Gospel of charity more than themselves and who crowned their missionary service with the sacrifice of their lives? Their evangelical choice highlights your missionary commitment and encourages you to pursue your particular mission in the Church with renewed generosity” he said. The Pope said that to pursue this difficult mission it is necessary to live in communion with God with an enhanced awareness of the Lord’s love and mercy for us. “It is more important, he said, to be aware of God’s love for us, rather than of how much we love Him.” The Pope said that we all need to rediscover the love and mercy of the Lord in order to become more ‘familiar’ with God. Consecrated persons, he continued, need to rediscover that love and mercy in order to conform more closely to Christ, with freedom, spontaneity and a sense of awe for the wonders He performs. In this perspective, the Pope said, religious life can become a journey of rediscovery of divine mercy, “helping you in your attempts to imitate Christ’s virtues and His humanity as you carry out your pastoral ministry”.  He also encouraged them to joyfully be open to the many incentives for renewal and commitment that derive from true contact with the Lord Jesus through the work of the Holy Spirit.  This, the Pope noted, will allow you to be actively present in  new arenas of evangelization with openness and attentiveness to situations of particular need that are emblematic of our time -  even should this imply some sacrifice. Pope Francis urged those present to always look to the example of their blessed Founder and not to tire of giving new impetus to missionary work. He remarked on their responsibility to support Christian communities that have been entrusted to them “especially those of a recent foundation” and called for sensitivity towards inculturation of the Gospel, respect for co-workers and the choice of being present in simplicity and poverty. The Pope invited them to reserve special attention for dialogue with Islam, to promote the dignity of women and the values of the family, to be sensitive to issues of justice and peace. He concluded encouraging the Consolata brothers and sisters to continue in their missionary journey with hope and expressed his trust that it may increasingly provide a vivid and sanctifying encounter with Jesus, source of consolation, peace and salvation for all men.     (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope: works of mercy means sharing suffering of others

Mon, 06/05/2017 - 19:51
(Vatican Radio) Doing works of mercy doesn’t mean just giving coins to assuage our consciences. Rather, it means sharing in the suffering of others, even at personal cost to ourselves. That message was at the heart of Pope Francis’ homily on Monday morning at his regular Santa Marta Mass. Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report: Reflecting on the first reading from the book of Tobit, or Tobias, the Pope noted how Tobit was saddened and wept at the murder of a Jewish kinsman, whose body he brought inside to bury after sunset. Pope Francis went on to speak about the 14 corporal and spiritual works of mercy, saying that to do them properly means not just sharing what we possess, but also sharing in the sufferings of others. We do not do works of mercy to assuage our consciences, to make us feel better, he said. Rather, the merciful person is the one who has pity on others and shares in their suffering. We must ask ourselves, am I generous? Do I know how to put myself in another person’s shoes? Do I suffer when I see another person in difficulty? The Pope continued by noting how the Jews in the bible reading had been deported to Assyria and were not allowed a proper burial. Therefore Tobit risked being killed too – just as we must also take risks as we carry out works of mercy. Recalling the Second World War years here in Rome, Pope Francis spoke of all those people, beginning with Pope Pius XII, who risked their own lives to save Jews from deportation and death. Those who carry out works of mercy must take risks, but they may also be mocked by others, just as Tobit was mocked by his neighbours. Doing works of mercy also means being willing to be inconvenienced, the Pope went on, just as Our Lord was inconvenienced – all the way to the Cross – to show mercy to us. We do works of mercy for others, Pope Francis said, because we know that we have been shown mercy by Our Lord first. We think about our mistakes, our sins, and how the Lord has forgiven us, so we do the same with our brothers and sisters. Works of mercy, the Pope concluded, keep us away from egoistic behavior and help us imitate Jesus more closely. (from Vatican Radio)...

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