(Vatican Radio) The Office of Papal Charities this week helped out the earthquake-hit regions of central Italy at the express wish of Pope Francis, buying typical food products from local producers and distributing it to several soup kitchens in Rome.
Central Italy was hit by a powerful 6.3 magnitude quake in August 2016, which killed nearly 300 people. Other earthquakes have since caused major damage to the area.
Farmers and merchants in the affected areas have since suffered a drastic reduction in their revenues.
A communique from the Office of Papal Charities said the organization selected “several groups of farmers and producers at risk of closure because of the damages provoked by the earthquake” from which to buy alimentary products.
It said vendors were chosen in conjunction with Bishop Domenico Pompili of Rieti, Bishop Giovanni D'Ercole of Ascoli Piceno, Archbishop Francesco Giovanni Brugnaro of Camerino-San Severino Marche, and Archbishop Renato Boccardo of Spoleto-Norcia.
“The Office of Papal Charities bought a large quantity of their products with the intention, expressed by the Holy Father, to help and encourage them in their activities. It is a gesture in line with the Magisterium of Pope Francis, who in his meetings has often said that ‘when a person does not earn their bread, their dignity is lost’”.
The food products bought in the name of the Pope were distributed to several soup kitchens in Rome to make meals for homeless people in need.
The Vatican supermarket currently sells products from the earthquake hit zones of central Italy , in an effort to help out the local economy.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) A 2-day seminar aiming to propose much needed public policies for water and sanitation management is underway in the Vatican .
Organized by the Vatican Pontifical Academy of Sciences , the seminar is entitled “The human right to water: An interdisciplinary focus and contributions on the central role of public policies in water and sanitation management”.
The workshop focuses on the potential and effective contribution of science, culture, politics and technological advancements to the attainment of a fairer world of greater social justice and solidarity.
One of the participants, Father Peter Hughes , a missionary priest who has spent his life working in the Amazon region, pointed out that water management impacts many issues including peace and the prevention of conflicts.
Father Peter Hughes, who has worked all his life in Peru, in the Andes and in the Amazon explains he is currently involved in a new project in defense of the Amazon region – the Pan Amazon – which comprises nine geographical countries.
“We are very much aware that the life of the Amazon is now in real danger; the life of so many indigenous communities, their lands that are being taken over and destroyed by the onslaught of mining and oil companies and the destruction of the rainforest for the so-called timber industry” he said.
Hughes says all this is also to be taken into consideration in relation to the question of climate.
He says the destruction and the depredation of the Amazon is destroying the equilibrium of world climate.
“One fifth of the world’s water supply comes from the Amazon; another fifth of the drinking water of the world comes from the Amazon, and it’s now true to say that twenty percent of the Amazon has now been irrevocably destroyed. So the question is: can we, the human family, have the political will to stop the accelerated rate of destruction?” he said.
If not, he says, we are in deeper trouble.
Regarding the Vatican seminar which focuses on water, Hughes says everybody is aware that “the bottom line of life in all its manifestations is the need for water”
He said the need for water has become crucial in a world where water not only is scarce, “but is being denied as a human right, as a basic right for life to too many people”.
Hughes says this is due to a number of factors, one of which is that water has been transformed into something with market value.
“This takes away from water as something that has something to do with a fundamental human right and the common good” he said.
He pointed out that it is increasingly a subject of conflict and violence between peoples and between nations.
He says neighboring communities who have lived in relative peace and harmony over the ages are now, because of the scarcity of water, are entering conflictual relationships.
“These are some of the questions we are trying to address, he said, pointing out that water has to do with politics, with economics, with culture, with education.”
It is also a very sacred issue, Hughes concludes: “the religious dimension in relation to water is founded in all the great religious traditions, particularly in the Christian and Catholic tradition that a lot of us come from and a lot of are engaged in”.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received his long-time friend from his native Argentina, Rabbi Abraham Skorka, on Thursday, along with a delegation of Jewish leaders involved in the preparation of a new edition of the Torah.
The annotated, illustrated edition is already being hailed as an achievement in both the literary and visual arts.
Pope Francis told his guests, “The extensive introduction to the text and the editor’s note emphasize this dialogical approach and communicate a cultural vision of openness, mutual respect and peace that accords with the spiritual message of the Torah.”
Click below to hear our report
The Holy Father went on to say, “The important religious figures who have worked on this new edition have paid special attention both to the literary aspect of the text and to the full-colour illustrations that add further value to the publication.”
Also in his remarks, Pope Francis spoke of the Torah as a building-block of community – the worldwide Jewish community and the Christian community. “The Torah,” said the Holy Father, “manifests the paternal and visceral love of God, a love shown in words and concrete gestures, a love that becomes covenant.”
“The very word covenant is resonant with associations that bring us together,” and, “[t]his publication is itself the fruit of a ‘covenant’ between persons of different nationalities, ages and religious confessions, who joined in this common effort.”
The Pope went on to say, “God desires a world in which men and women are bound to him and as a result live in harmony among themselves and with creation. In the midst of so many human words that lead to tragic division and rivalry, these divine words of covenant open before all of us paths of goodness to walk together.”
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Don’t scandalize “the little ones” with a double life, because scandal destroys. That was the message of Pope Francis in his homily at the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta. And so, the Pope said, we should not put off conversion.
“Cut off your hand,” “Pluck out your eye,” but “don’t scandalize the little ones,” that is, the just, those who confide in the Lord, who believe simply in the Lord. That was the Pope’s exhortation in the homily, based on the day’s Gospel. For the Lord, he said, scandal is destruction:
“But what is scandal? Scandal is saying one thing and doing another; it is a double life, a double life. A totally double life: ‘I am very Catholic, I always go to Mass, I belong to this association and that one; but my life is not Christian, I don’t pay my workers a just wage, I exploit people, I am dirty in my business, I launder money…’ A double life. And so many Christians are like this, and these people scandalize others. How many times have we heard – all of us, around the neighbourhood and elsewhere – ‘but to be a Catholic like that, it’s better to be an atheist.’ It is that, scandal. You destroy. You beat down. And this happens every day, it’s enough to see the news on TV, or to read the papers. In the papers there are so many scandals, and there is also the great publicity of the scandals. And with the scandals there is destruction.”
The Pope gave the example of a company that was on the brink of failure. The leaders wanted to avoid a just strike, but the company had not done well, and they wanted to talk with the authorities of the company. The people didn’t have money for their daily needs because they had not received their wages. And the head of the company, a Catholic, was taking his winter vacation on a beach in the Middle East, and the people knew it, even if it hadn’t made the papers. “These are scandals,” Pope Francis said:
“Jesus talks, in the Gospel, about those who commit scandal, without saying the world ‘scandal,’ but it’s understood: But you will arrive in heaven and you will knock at the gate: ‘Here I am, Lord!’ – ‘But don’t you remember? I went to Church, I was close to you, I belong to this association, I did this… Don’t you remember all the offerings I made?’ ‘Yes, I remember. The offerings, I remember them: All dirty. All stolen from the poor. I don’t know you.’ That will be Jesus’ response to these scandalous people who live a double life.
“The double life comes from following the passions of the heart, the capital sins that are the wounds of original sin,” hiding the passions, but following them, the Pope explained. The first Reading, in fact, tells us that they do not satisfy, and not to trust in riches, to not say, “There’s enough for myself.” And so Pope Francis calls us to not put off conversion:
“It would be good for all of us, each one of us, today, to consider if there is something of a double life within us, of appearing just, of seeming to be good believers, good Catholics, but underneath doing something else; if there is something of a double life, if there is an excessive confidence: ‘But, sure, the Lord will eventually forgive everything, but I’ll keep going as I have been…’ If there is something saying, “Sure, this is not going well, I will convert, but not today: tomorrow.’ Let’s think about that. And let us profit from the Word of the Lord and consider the fact that on this point, the Lord is very strict. Scandal destroys.”
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday told members of the Spanish Villarreal football club that the team spirit which is so vital in playing a good match is fundamental in life and society as well.
The Pope was receiving some of the Villarreal club players, managers and coaching staff who are in Rome to take on the “AS Roma” team in their second leg of the “Europa League” championship.
To those present he said that football, like others sports, is a mirror of life and society: “when you are on the field you need each other. Each player puts his professional skill and talent to the benefit of a common goal, which is to play well and to win.”
The Pope pointed out that much training is needed to achieve that affinity and said that it is important to invest time and effort in creating a team spirit.
“This is possible if you act in the spirit of fellowship, leaving aside individualism or personal aspirations. If you play for the good of the group, then it is easier to win” he said.
Pope Francis also spoke of the power of sports to educate and transmit positive values.
He said many people, especially young people, watch and admire football players who have the responsibility to provide a good model and highlight the values of football, which are “companionship, personal effort, the beauty of the game, team play”.
The Pope also said one of the traits of a good athlete is gratitude: “you must remember the many people who have helped you and without whom you would not be here”.
These include, he said, those with whom you played as children, your first teammates, coaches, assistants, and also your fans that encourage you in every game with their presence.
He said these memories are important and help one not to feel superior but to always be aware that one is only part of a great team that goes back a long time.
“Feeling this way helps us grow as people, because our ‘game’ is not only ours, but also that of others, who are somehow part of our lives” he said.
Pope Francis is known to be a football fan himself and he concluded his audience encouraging the athletes to keep playing and to keep giving the best of themselves so that others can enjoy those beautiful moments.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis remembered the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter during his final blessing at his weekly General Audience on Wednesday.
“Today we celebrate the feast of the Chair of St. Peter the Apostle, the day of the special communion of believers with the Successor of St Peter and the Holy See,” the Pope said.
“Dear young people, I encourage you to intensify your prayers for of my Petrine ministry; dear sick people, I thank you for the witness of life given in suffering for the building up of ecclesial community; and you, dear newlyweds, build your family on the same love that binds the Lord Jesus to His Church,” he continued.
On this feast day, the statue of St. Peter in St. Peter’s Basilica is dressed in Papal vestments, and venerated by the faithful.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Self-centeredness and sin corrupt the beauty of Creation, but God does not abandon humanity and turns Creation’s groans into hope for new life. That was at the heart of Pope Francis’ catechesis on Christian hope at his Wednesday General Audience.
Listen to Devin Watkins' report:
Drawing inspiration from Chapter 8 of the Letter to the Romans, Pope Francis continued his catechesis on Christian hope. He said that St. Paul reminds us that Creation is God’s gift to humanity but that sin corrupts it.
“St. Paul reminds us that Creation is a marvelous gift, which God has placed in our hands, so that we can enter into relationship with Him and recognize the imprint of His love, in whose realization we are all called to collaborate, every single day.”
But when we are self-centered and commit sin, the Pope said we break our communion with God, and the original beauty of human nature and creation is marred.
“With the tragic experience of sin, having broken communion with God, we damaged our original communion with all that surrounds us and we ended up corrupting Creation, turning it into a slave, submitted to our feebleness. Unfortunately, we see the dramatic consequences of this every day. When communion with God is broken, humanity loses its original beauty and ends up disfiguring everything around it; and where before all pointed to the Creator Father and His infinite love, now it carries the sad and desolate sign of pride and human voracity.”
Thus, rather than show God’s infinite love, creation bears the wounds of human pride.
Pope Francis said the Lord “does not abandon us but offers us a new horizon of freedom and salvation”.
He said St. Paul reminds us of this truth, by inviting us to hear the groaning of all Creation.
“In fact, if we listen attentively everything around us groans: Creation itself groans; we human beings groan; the Holy Spirit groans in our hearts.”
He said these groans “are not sterile or inconsolable, but – as the Apostle points out – they speak of the pangs of birth; they are the groans of one who suffers, but knows that a new life is coming to light.”
Despite the many signs of our sins and failings, the Pope said, “we know that we are saved by the Lord, and even now contemplate and experience within ourselves and all around us signs of the Resurrection, of Easter, of a new creation.”
He said the Christian does not live outside of this world, but in it. “The Christian has learned to read all things with eyes informed by Easter, with the eyes of the Risen Christ.”
And when we are discouraged or tempted to despair, Pope Francis said the Holy Spirit comes to our aid and “keeps alive our groans and the hopes of our hearts. The Spirit sees for us beyond the negative appearances of the present and reveals to us even here new heavens and a new earth, which the Lord is preparing for humanity.”
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegramme of condolences for the death of the former Archbishop of Dublin, Cardinal Desmond Connell, who died on Monday at the age of 90 following a long illness.
In the message, addressed to the current Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, the Pope recalls Cardinal Connell’s many contributions to the Church in Ireland, especially in the area of philosophical studies.
Cardinal Connell was born on 24 March 1926 in Phibsboro, Ireland. He was ordained for the Archdiocese of Dublin on 19 May 1951 and held a doctorate in philosophy from the Catholic University of Louvain.
In 1953 he started teaching in the Department of Metaphysics at University College Dublin where he was appointed professor of general metaphysics in 1972 and elected dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and Sociology in 1983.
He wrote on philosophical and theological subjects and for his published work was awarded the degree D.Litt. by the National University of Ireland in 1981.
He also served as chaplain to the Poor Clares in Donnybrook, the Carmelites in Drumcondra and the Carmelites in Blackrock.
He was appointed Archbishop of Dublin on 21 January 1988, a position he held until April 2004.
Cardinal Connell was created a Cardinal by Pope St. John Paul II in the Consistory of 21 February 2001 with the Titular church of St. Sylvester in Capite.
Please see below the full text of the telegramme:
To the Most Reverend Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop of Dublin
I was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Cardinal Desmond Connell, and I extend my heartfelt condolences to you and to the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Archdiocese. Recalling with gratitude Cardinal Connell’s years of generous priestly and episcopal ministry to the Archdiocese of Dublin, and his many contributions to the Church in Ireland, especially in the area of philosophical studies, I join you in commending his soul to the merciful love of Almighty God. In the sure hope of the Resurrection, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing upon all who mourn the late Cardinal, as a pledge of consolation and peace in the Lord Jesus.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has appealed for the hard-hit people of South Sudan, “where a fratricidal conflict is compounded by a severe food crisis which has hit the Horn of Africa region and condemns to death by starvation millions of people, including many children”.
He called on all involved to “commit not to stop at making statements, but also to provide concrete food aid and to allow it to reach suffering populations”.
The Holy Father also prayed that the Lord sustain “these our brothers and all those working to help them”.
South Sudan’s government officially declared a famine in some parts of the country on Monday.
The United Nations has warned that areas hardest hit by war and a collapsing economy have left about 100,000 people facing starvation, while one million others are at risk of famine.
Please find below a Vatican Radio English translation of the Pope’s appeal:
Of particular concern is the painful news coming from suffering South Sudan, where a fratricidal conflict is compounded by a severe food crisis, which has hit the Horn of Africa region and condemns to death by starvation millions of people, including many children. At this time, it is more necessary than ever that all commit not to stop at making statements, but also to provide concrete food aid and to allow it to reach suffering populations. May the Lord sustain these our brothers and all those working to help them.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) The Vatican on Tuesday said “all necessary steps should be taken to enforce the ceasefire and to implement the measures agreed upon” in Ukraine.
The Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, was speaking at a meeting of the UN Security Council.
“Concerning the conflict in Ukraine, which continues to cause grave concern since it began in 2014, the Holy See underscores once again that all necessary steps should be taken to enforce the ceasefire and to implement the measures agreed upon,” – Archbishop Auza said – “These efforts should be accompanied by the sincere commitment of all involved parties to respecting all fundamental human rights and restoring stability at the national and international levels, not least by respecting international legality with regard to Ukraine’s territory and borders”
The Vatican diplomat added that by “committing itself to offering direct humanitarian assistance to the population of the affected areas, the Holy See stresses the need to protect the civilians and the urgency of making every possible effort to avoid the continuation of this unresolved conflict and to find a political solution through dialogue and negotiation.”
The full text of the statement is below
Intervention of H.E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza
Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations
United Nations Security Council Open Debate on
Maintenance of international peace and security: Conflicts in Europe
New York, 21 February 2017
With this intervention, the Holy See intends to reiterate its closeness to and solidarity with all peoples afflicted by conflicts and aggressions of any kind, including the so-called hybrid wars and frozen situations.
The Holy See holds that any initiative in maintaining international peace and security should necessarily be inspired and driven by humanitarian considerations, namely the preservation of human life, the assuring of adequate living conditions and the alleviation of suffering. At the same time, it is the obligation of States to refrain from actions that destabilize neighbouring countries and work together to create the necessary conditions for peace and reconciliation.
Concerning the conflict in Ukraine, which continues to cause grave concern since it began in 2014, the Holy See underscores once again that all necessary steps should be taken to enforce the ceasefire and to implement the measures agreed upon. These efforts should be accompanied by the sincere commitment of all involved parties to respecting all fundamental human rights and restoring stability at the national and international levels, not least by respecting international legality with regard to Ukraine’s territory and borders (cf. Statement of the Permanent Observer of the Holy See, Human Rights Council 28 th Session, 26 March 2015).
By committing itself to offering direct humanitarian assistance to the population of the affected areas, the Holy See stresses the need to protect the civilians and the urgency of making every possible effort to avoid the continuation of this unresolved conflict and to find a political solution through dialogue and negotiation.
In this regard, the Holy See continues to welcome the efforts made by the UN, the OSCE and other relevant organizations to promote peace throughout Europe, including in Ukraine.
Thank you, Mr. President.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) “May the Lord give us the grace of ‘holy shame’ before the temptation of ambition.” That was Pope Francis’ message at daily Mass in the Casa Santa Marta on Tuesday, saying that the one who wants to be the first must be last and the servant of all.
Listen to Devin Watkins’ report:
Pope Francis began his homily at daily Mass noting that “We will all be tempted.” He drew inspiration from the First Reading, which recalls that whoever wishes to serve the Lord must prepare for temptations, and the Gospel reading, in which Jesus tells his disciples of his impending death.
Temptation of ambition
The disciples do not understand why Jesus has told them of his coming death but are too afraid to ask what he means. This, the Pope said, is “the temptation to not complete the mission”. He said even Jesus suffered this temptation.
The day’s Gospel also mentioned another temptation, that of ambition. The disciples argue along the way about who among them was the greatest, but remain silent when Jesus asks them what they are discussing. The Holy Father said they do not respond because they are ashamed of their words:
“These were good people, who wanted to follow and serve the Lord. But they did not realize that the path of service to the Lord was not an easy one. It wasn’t like becoming part of a group, some charitable group doing good: No, it was something else. They were afraid of this. It happened, happens, and will happen. Let us think about infighting in a parish: ‘I want to be the president of this association, in order to climb the ladder. Who is the greatest here? Who is the greatest in this parish? No, I am the most important here; not that person there because he did something…’ And that is the chain of sin.”
Pope Francis also gave other examples of this temptation which brings one to “speak poorly of another” and to “climb the ladder”.
“Sometimes we priests say ashamedly within our presbyteries: ‘I want that parish… But the Lord is here… But I want that one…’ It is the same. It isn’t the way of the Lord but the path of vanity, of worldliness. The same occurs even among us bishops: worldliness comes as a temptation. Many times [it is said]: ‘I am in this diocese but look at how important that one is’ and I try to influence someone, or put pressure, to get somewhere…”
Therefore, Pope Francis exhorted his audience to always ask the Lord for “the grace to be ashamed when we find ourselves in these situations”.
Holy shame against the temptation to worldliness: ‘We are unworthy servants’
Jesus, he said, overturns this logic. Sitting among his disciples he reminds them that “if someone wishes to be first, they shall be last and the servant of all”. Jesus then takes a child and places it in their midst, telling them “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.”
The Pope asked his audience to pray for the Church, “for all of us” so that the Lord may defend us “from ambitions and from the worldliness of wishing to be greater than others”.
“May the Lord give us the grace of shame, of holy shame, when we find ourselves in that situation of temptation and to be ashamed: ‘But am I able to think such a thing? When I see my Lord on the cross and I would want to use the Lord to climb the ladder? And may God give us the grace of the simplicity of a child. I imagine a final question: ‘Lord, I have served you all my life. I have been the last all my life. And now what? What does the Lord say? Tell yourself: ‘I am an unworthy servant.’”
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Tuesday said the challenges of migration and the promotion of peace cannot be tackled without development and integration.
Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni :
Speaking to participants of an International Forum on Migration and Peace taking place in Rome, whom he received in the Vatican , the Pope said the political community, civil society and the Church must offer a shared response to the complexities of the phenomenon of migration today .
“Our shared response, he said, may be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate ”.
He also drew attention to particularly vulnerable group of migrants, exiles and refugees: “children and young people who are forced to live far from their homeland and who are separated from their loved ones”.
The two-day High-Level International Forum is organized by the new Vatican Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development in collaboration with the Scalabrini International Migration Network.
It aims to stimulate a high-level dialogue on the root causes of migration and to elaborate and propose the best solutions for an ethical approach on the international management of migration as well as the integration of migrants in hosting communities, and to concretely influence migration policies and practices.
Please find below the full text of the Pope’s address to the Forum:
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
I extend to you my cordial greeting, with deep appreciation for your invaluable work. I thank Archbishop Tomasi for his kind words, as well as Doctor Pöttering for his address. I am also grateful for the three testimonies which reflect in a tangible way the theme of this Forum: “Integration and Development: From Reaction to Action”. In effect, it is not possible to view the present challenges of contemporary migratory movement and of the promotion of peace, without including the twofold term “development and integration”: for this very reason I wanted to establish the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development , with a Section concerned exclusively for migrants, refugees and the victims of human trafficking.
Migration, in its various forms, is not a new phenomenon in humanity’s history. It has left its mark on every age, encouraging encounter between peoples and the birth of new civilizations. In its essence, to migrate is the expression of that inherent desire for the happiness proper to every human being, a happiness that is to be sought and pursued. For us Christians, all human life is an itinerant journey towards our heavenly homeland.
The beginning of this third millennium is very much characterized by migratory movement which, in terms of origin, transit and destination, involves nearly every part of the world. Unfortunately, in the majority of cases this movement is forced, caused by conflict, natural disasters, persecution, climate change, violence, extreme poverty and inhumane living conditions: “The sheer number of people migrating from one continent to another, or shifting places within their own countries and geographical areas, is striking. Contemporary movements of migration represent the largest movement of individuals, if not of peoples, in history” (Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 5 August 2013).
Before this complex panorama, I feel the need to express particular concern for the forced nature of many contemporary migratory movements, which increases the challenges presented to the political community, to civil society and to the Church, and which amplifies the urgency for a coordinated and effective response to these challenges.
Our shared response may be articulated by four verbs: to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate .
To welcome. “Rejection is an attitude we all share; it makes us see our neighbour not as a brother or sister to be accepted, but as unworthy of our attention, a rival, or someone to be bent to our will” (Address to the Diplomatic Corps, 12 January 2015). Faced with this kind of rejection, rooted ultimately in self-centredness and amplified by populist rhetoric, what is needed is a change of attitude, to overcome indifference and to counter fears with a generous approach of welcoming those who knock at our doors. For those who flee conflicts and terrible persecutions, often trapped within the grip of criminal organisations who have no scruples, we need to open accessible and secure humanitarian channels. A responsible and dignified welcome of our brothers and sisters begins by offering them decent and appropriate shelter. The enormous gathering together of persons seeking asylum and of refugees has not produced positive results. Instead these gatherings have created new situations of vulnerability and hardship. More widespread programmes of welcome, already initiated in different places, seem to favour a personal encounter and allow for greater quality of service and increased guarantees of success.
To protect . My predecessor, Pope Benedict, highlighted the fact that the migratory experience often makes people more vulnerable to exploitation, abuse and violence (cf. Benedict XVI, Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 18 October 2005). We are speaking about millions of migrant workers, male and female – and among these particularly men and women in irregular situations – of those exiled and seeking asylum, and of those who are victims of trafficking. Defending their inalienable rights, ensuring their fundamental freedoms and respecting their dignity are duties from which no one can be exempted. Protecting these brothers and sisters is a moral imperative which translates into adopting juridical instruments, both international and national, that must be clear and relevant; implementing just and far reaching political choices; prioritising constructive processes, which perhaps are slower, over immediate results of consensus; implementing timely and humane programmes in the fight against “the trafficking of human flesh” which profits off others’ misfortune; coordinating the efforts of all actors, among which, you may be assured will always be the Church.
To promote . Protecting is not enough. What is required is the promotion of an integral human development of migrants, exiles and refugees. This “takes place by attending to the inestimable goods of justice, peace, and the care of creation” (Apostolic Letter Humanam Progressionem, 17 August 2016). Development, according to the social doctrine of the Church (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 373-374), is an undeniable right of every human being. As such, it must be guaranteed by ensuring the necessary conditions for its exercise, both in the individual and social context, providing fair access to fundamental goods for all people and offering the possibility of choice and growth. Also here a coordinated effort is needed, one which envisages all the parties involved: from the political community to civil society, from international organisations to religious institutions. The human promotion of migrants and their families begins with their communities of origin. That is where such promotion should be guaranteed, joined to the right of being able to emigrate, as well as the right to not be constrained to emigrate (cf. Benedict XVI, Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 12 October 2012), namely the right to find in one’s own homeland the conditions necessary for living a dignified life. To this end, efforts must be encouraged that lead to the implementation of programmes of international cooperation, free from partisan interests, and programmes of transnational development which involve migrants as active protagonists.
To integrate . Integration, which is neither assimilation nor incorporation, is a two-way process, rooted essentially in the joint recognition of the other’s cultural richness: it is not the superimposing of one culture over another, nor mutual isolation, with the insidious and dangerous risk of creating ghettoes. Concerning those who arrive and who are duty bound not to close themselves off from the culture and traditions of the receiving country, respecting above all its laws, the family dimension of the process of integration must not be overlooked: for this reason I feel the need to reiterate the necessity, often presented by the Magisterium (cf. John Paul II, Message for World Migration Day, 15 August 1986), of policies directed at favouring and benefiting the reunion of families. With regard to indigenous populations, they must be supported, by helping them to be sufficiently aware of and open to processes of integration which, though not always simple and immediate, are always essential and, for the future, indispensable. This requires specific programmes, which foster significant encounters with others. Furthermore, for the Christian community, the peaceful integration of persons of various cultures is, in some way, a reflection of its catholicity, since unity, which does not nullify ethnic and cultural diversity, constitutes a part of the life of the Church, who in the Spirit of Pentecost is open to all and desires to embrace all (cf. John Paul II, Message for World Migration Day, 5 August 1987).
I believe that conjugating these four verbs, in the first person singular and in the first person plural, is today a responsibility, a duty we have towards our brothers and sisters who, for various reasons, have been forced to leave their homeland: a duty of justic e, of civility and of solidarity .
First of all, a duty of justice . We can no longer sustain unacceptable economic inequality, which prevents us from applying the principle of the universal destination of the earth’s goods. We are all called to undertake processes of apportionment which are respectful, responsible and inspired by the precepts of distributive justice. “We need, then, to find ways by which all may benefit from the fruits of the earth, not only to avoid the widening gap between those who have more and those who must be content with the crumbs, but above all because it is a question of justice, equality and respect for every human being” (Message for the World Day of Peace, 8 December 2013, 9). One group of individuals cannot control half of the world’s resources. We cannot allow for persons and entire peoples to have a right only to gather the remaining crumbs. Nor can we be indifferent or think ourselves dispensed from the moral imperatives which flow from a joint responsibility to care for the planet, a shared responsibility often stressed by the political international community, as also by the Magisterium (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 9; 163; 189, 406). This joint responsibility must be interpreted in accord with the principle of subsidiarity, “which grants freedom to develop the capabilities present at every level of society, while also demanding a greater sense of responsibility for the common good from those who wield greater power” (Laudato Si’, 196). Ensuring justice means also reconciling history with our present globalized situation, without perpetuating mind-sets which exploit people and places, a consequence of the most cynical use of the market in order to increase the wellbeing of the few. As Pope Benedict affirmed, the process of decolonization was delayed “both because of new forms of colonialism and continued dependence on old and new foreign powers, and because of grave irresponsibility within the very countries that have achieved independence” (Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, 33). For all this there must be redress.
Second, there is a duty of civility . Our commitment to migrants, exiles and refugees is an application of those principles and values of welcome and fraternity that constitute a common patrimony of humanity and wisdom which we draw from. Such principles and values have been historically codified in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and in numerous conventions and international agreements. “Every migrant is a human person who, as such, possesses fundamental, inalienable rights that must be respected by everyone and in every circumstance” (ibid., 62). Today more than ever, it is necessary to affirm the centrality of the human person, without allowing immediate and ancillary circumstances, or even the necessary fulfilment of bureaucratic and administrative requirements, to obscure this essential dignity. As Saint John Paul II stated, an “irregular legal status cannot allow the migrant to lose his dignity, since he is endowed with inalienable rights, which can neither be violated nor ignored” (John Paul II, Message for World Migration Day, 25 July 1995, 2). From the duty of civility is also regained the value of fraternity, which is founded on the innate relational constitution of the human person: “A lively awareness of our relatedness helps us to look upon and to treat each person as a true sister or brother; without fraternity it is impossible to build a just society and a solid and lasting peace” (Message for the World Day of Peace, 8 December 2013, 1). Fraternity is the most civil way of relating with the reality of another person, which does not threaten us, but engages, reaffirms and enriches our individual identity (cf. Benedict XVI, Address to Participants in an Interacademic Conference on “The Changing Identity of the Individual”, 28 January 2008).
Finally, there is a duty of solidarity . In the face of tragedies which take the lives of so many migrants and refugees – conflicts, persecutions, forms of abuse, violence, death – expressions of empathy and compassion cannot help but spontaneously well-up. “Where is your brother” (Gen 4:9): this question which God asks of man since his origins, involves us, especially today with regard to our brothers and sisters who are migrating: “This is not a question directed to others; it is a question directed to me, to you, to each of us” (Homily at the "Arena" Sports Camp, Salina Quarter, Lampedusa, 8 July 2013). Solidarity is born precisely from the capacity to understand the needs of our brothers and sisters who are in difficulty and to take responsibility for these needs. Upon this, in short, is based the sacred value of hospitality, present in religious traditions. For us Christians, hospitality offered to the weary traveller is offered to Jesus Christ himself, through the newcomer: “I was a stranger and you welcomed me” (Mt 25:35). The duty of solidarity is to counter the throwaway culture and give greater attention to those who are weakest, poorest and most vulnerable. Thus “a change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture – towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world” (Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 5 August 2013).
As I conclude these reflections, allow me to draw attention again to a particularly vulnerable group of migrants, exiles and refugees whom we are called to welcome, to protect, to promote and to integrate. I am speaking of the children and young people who are forced to live far from their homeland and who are separated from their loved ones. I dedicated my most recent Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees to them, highlighting how “we need to work towards protection, integration and long-term solutions” (Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 8 September 2016).
I trust that these two days will bear an abundant fruit of good works. I assure you of my prayers; and, please, do not forget to pray for me. Thank you.
 Messaggio per la 100a Giornata Mondiale del Migrante e del Rifugiato, 5 agosto 2013.
 Discorso al Corpo diplomatico accreditato presso la Santa Sede, 12 gennaio 2015.
 Cfr Benedetto XVI, Messaggio per la 92a Giornata Mondiale del Migrante e del Rifugiato, 18 ottobre 2005.
 Lett. ap. in forma di Motu proprio Humanam progressionem, 17 agosto 2016.
 Cfr Pontificio Consiglio della Giustizia e della Pace, Compendio della Dottrina Sociale della Chiesa, 373-374.
 Cfr Benedetto XVI, Messaggio per la 99a Giornata Mondiale del Migrante e del Rifugiato, 12 ottobre 2012.
 Cfr Giovanni Paolo II, Messaggio per la Giornata Mondiale delle Migrazioni, 15 agosto 1986.
 Cfr Giovanni Paolo II, Messaggio per la Giornata Mondiale delle Migrazioni, 5 agosto 1987.
 Messaggio per la 47ª Giornata Mondiale della Pace, 8 dicembre 2013, 9.
 Cfr Pontificio Consiglio della Giustizia e della Pace, Compendio della Dottrina Sociale della Chiesa, 9;163;189;406.
 Lett. enc. Laudato si’, 196.
 Benedetto XVI, Lett. enc. Caritas in veritate, 33.
 Ibid., 62.
 Giovanni Paolo II, Messaggio per la Giornata Mondiale delle Migrazioni, 25 luglio 1995, 2.
 Messaggio per 47ª Giornata Mondiale della Pace, 8 dicembre 2013, 1.
 Cfr Benedetto XVI, Discorso ai partecipanti al convegno inter-accademico “L’identità mutevole dell'individuo”, 28 gennaio 2008.
 Omelia al Campo sportivo “Arena” in Località Salina, 8 luglio 2013.
 Messaggio per la 100a Giornata Mondiale del Migrante e del Rifugiato.
 Messaggio per la 103a Giornata Mondiale del Migrante e del Rifugiato, 8 settembre 2016.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Council For Interreligious Dialogue has announced the President of the Council, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, accompanied by Bishop Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, Secretary, and Msgr. Khaled Akasheh, Head of the Office for Islam, will be in Cairo, Egypt, on 22-23 February, to participate at a seminar at the University of Al-Azhar, with the theme: "The role of al-Azhar al-Sharif and of the Vatican in countering the phenomena of fanaticism, extremism and violence in the name of religion."
The Cardinal President will lead the Catholic delegation, which will also include Archbishop Bruno Musarò, Apostolic Nuncio to Egypt.
After the historic meeting between Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Professor Ahmad Al-Tayyib on 23 May 2016, the Secretary of the Dicastery has travelled to Cairo several times, where he participated in many meetings and preliminary preparations for this event.
This meeting will conclude on the vigil of the anniversary of the visit of Pope St. John Paul II to Al-Azhar, which took place on 24 February 2000.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday afternoon made a visit to the parish of Maria Josefa of the Heart of Jesus in the suburbs of Rome. During Mass, he stressed, that the path to holiness was forgiveness and prayer and that revenge and resentment has no place in the Christian life.
Listen to Lydia O’Kane’s report
Sunday afternoon was an away day for Pope Francis. He made a visit to the Roman parish of Saint Maria Josefa in Ponte di Nona in the east of the city. After greeting parishioners and meeting with a group of children, the Pope celebrated Mass telling the congregation present, never to go down the road of revenge or resentment. Instead, he said, “pray for those who want to do evil: this prevents wars and brings peace.” It is also, the Pope added, the “Christian path to holiness.”
Drawing from the readings of the day, Pope Francis spoke about the path to perfection, holiness and sainthood. Jesus, the Holy Father said, explained concretely in the Gospel the necessary tools that are needed to travel this road. He said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but I tell you not to resist evil.” That, the Pope stressed means, no revenge. If I have a heart full of resentment and want revenge, he continued, that takes away my holiness.
Someone saying, “you did this to me and you will pay for this”, is not the language of a Christian. Instead, Pope Francis underlined, God tells us to pray for those who slander us.
The Pope went on to say that the great wars we see in the news and in newspapers about the massacre of people, of children is the same hatred that you have in your heart for a certain relative.
“To forgive from the heart”. This Pope Francis said, was the road of "sanctity."
If God “is merciful, holy and perfect, we must be merciful, holy and perfect like him”. This, the Pope observed is “sanctity”: a man or woman who does this deserves to be canonized, become holy. The “Christian life is simple”, he said .
Prayer, observed the Holy Father is “an antidote against hatred, against wars.” If someone doesn’t like you, pray for them, because powerful prayer, stressed Pope Francis, overcomes evil and brings peace.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis travelled across Rome Sunday afternoon for a visit to the parish of Santa Maria Josefa of the Heart of Jesus (It: Santa Maria Josefa del Cuore di Gesù) in the suburb of Castelverde. It’s the Pope’s thirteenth visit to a Roman parish.
The Pope was welcomed at the parish by the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, Agostino Vallini; the auxiliary bishop for the eastern part of the city, Bishop Giuseppe Marciante, and by the pastor, Fr Francesco Rondinelli.
As is usual, Pope Francis had an encounter with children and young people in the parish, followed by visits with sick persons and the elderly, married couples who have had children baptized recently; families assisted by Caritas, and workers in the parish.
Following the meetings with parishioners, the Holy Father celebrated Mass in the parish church, where he delivered an off-the-cuff homily.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) During his Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis said the day’s Gospel – part of the Sermon on the Mount, from the Gospel of Saint Matthew – is one of the Biblical passages that best expresses the Christian “revolution.”
In the day’s Gospel reading, he said, “Christ shows the path of true justice, through the law of love that overcomes that of retaliation, that is, ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’.” Jesus, he continued, does not ask His disciples simply to bear evils patiently, but to return good for evil: “Only in this way can the chains of evil be broken, and things can truly change.”
Pope Francis notes that for Jesus, the refusal to return evil for evil goes so far as to sometimes involve giving up a legitimate right: turning the other cheek, or giving up one’s cloak, or making other sacrifices. But, he said, “this renunciation doesn’t mean that the needs of justice should be ignored or contradicted; on the contrary, Christian love, which is manifested in a special way in mercy, represents a superior realization of justice.”
Jesus, the Pope said, wants to teach us the distinction between justice and vengeance: “We are allowed to ask for justice; it is our duty to practice justice. On the other hand, we are forbidden to revenge ourselves or to encourage vengeance in any way, insofar as it is an expression of hatred or of violence.”
In fact, Christ’s law of love calls on us to love even our enemies. This, Pope Francis said, should not be seen as an approval of their wicked actions, but as “an invitation to a higher perspective, like that of the heavenly Father, who makes His sun to rise on the wicked and the good.” Even our enemies, the Pope explained, are human persons, created in the image of God – even if that image is sometimes obscured by evil acts. Christ calls us to respond to our enemies with goodness, inspired by love.
Before leading the traditional Angelus prayer, Pope Francis prayed that the Virgin Mary might help us follow “this demanding path” set out by Jesus, “which truly exalts human dignity, and makes us live as children of our Father Who is in heaven.” The Holy Father prayed that Mary might help us to practice patience, dialogue, forgiveness, and to be artisans of communion and of fraternity in our daily life.”
Listen to Christopher Wells' report:
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis led the crowds gathered for the Sunday Angelus in a prayer for the victims of violence in Africa and around the world. In particular, he prayed for those affected by violence in the region of the Kasaï Central province in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “I suffer deeply for the victims, especially for so many children ripped from their families and their schools to be used as soldiers.”
The Holy Father renewed his “heartfelt appeal to the consciences and the responsibility of the national authorities and the international community, that they might take adequate and timely decisions to assist these our brothers and sisters.”
In praying for victims of violence in the world, the Pope turned his thoughts in particular to “the dear peoples of Pakistan and of Iraq, struck in recent days by cruel acts of terrorism.”
Pope Francis prayed for all victims of violence, those who have died and those who have been injured, as well as for their families. “Let us pray ardently,” he concluded “for every heart hardened by hatred, that they might be converted to peace, according to the will of God.” Then, following a moment of silent prayer, he led the crowd in the recitation of the “Hail Mary”.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Greg Burke, has confirmed that Pope Francis will be visiting All Saints’ Anglican Church in Rome on February 26.
The Pope’s visit will be part of an Ecumenical Service celebrating the 200th anniversary of the first Church of England worship service in Rome, which took place on October 27th 1816.
The Holy Father will be the first reigning Pope to visit an Anglican Church in the Diocese of Rome. The ecumenical event will consist of a short Choral Evensong service which includes the blessing of a specially commissioned icon and the twinning of All Saints with the Catholic parish of Ognissanti, a Rome church with strong ecumenical ties. Pope Francis is expected to deliver a homily during the event, and afterwards to take questions from members of the parish community.
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday received the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception who are in Rome for their General Chapter, telling them to open hearts with the Gospel message.
Listen to Lydia O’Kane’s report
The Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception was founded, in 1673, in Poland and works in 26 countries around the world.
In prepared remarks to the participants of the Congregation’s General Chapter on Saturday, Pope Francis told them that the example of their founder, St. Stanislaus of Jesus and Mary, who was canonized last year, was both the light and guide of their walk and fully understood the meaning of being a disciple of Christ.
In this perspective, the Pope said, “your service of the Word is the witness of the Risen Christ, that you have encountered on your path…” adding, that they were called to spread the Gospel message wherever they are sent.
The Pope also underlined that Christian witness requires engagement with and for the poor, noting it was a commitment that has characterized the Congregation.
The Holy Father encouraged the Marian Fathers to keep alive this tradition of service to the poor and the humble, through the proclamation of the Gospel, along with the works of mercy and prayers for the souls of the faithfully departed.
He continued by saying that “the great challenge of inculturation asks you today to announce the Good News in languages and ways understandable to the men and women of our time, involved in rapid social and cultural transformation processes.
The horizons of evangelization and the urgent need to bear witness to the Gospel message, without distinction, the Pope said “constitute the vast field of your apostolate.” Many people, the Holy Father observed, “are still waiting to know Jesus, the one Redeemer of man.”
Such an urgent mission, Pope Francis underlined, “requires personal and community conversion. Only fully open hearts to the action of Grace”, he said, “are able to interpret the signs of the times and to seize the appeals of humanity in need of hope and peace.”
(from Vatican Radio)...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday visited one of Rome’s major institutions of higher education: the Università degli studi “Roma 3” , which has an enrollment of roughly 40 thousand students.
The Holy Father fielded four questions, each one from a student at a different level of study and in a different department, from post-graduates to married professionals in continuing formation to young undergrads from the business school and the arts and sciences.
Click below to hear our report
One of the students was Nour Essa, a 31 year-old married mother and a refugee from Syria. She came to Rome with her family via Lesbos, making the last leg of her journey with Pope Francis, himself, aboard the Papal plane in 2016.
“I remember a question posed by a reporter on your plane, returning from Lesbos,” she said. “This question was on Europeans’ fear [It. la paura europea ] of those coming from Syria or Iraq: do these people not threaten the Christian culture of Europe?”
In his largely off-the-cuff response, Pope Francis said, “Migrations are not a danger, but a challenge to grow.”
Pope Francis also responded to questions of European identity, of the special identity, character, and mission of the city of Rome – and of the duty of the students to the city – as well as of the need for a creative response to overcome a culture of violence, and the need to transform the global culture and become workers of intellectual charity in order to contribute to a constructive renewal of society.
The Pope said that “unity without differences” is one of the great threats in our day. “There is a risk of globalization,” he said, “that fosters uniformity,” and our culture of instant communication and constant connectedness does not allow for thoughtful consideration and could strangle profound dialogue if we are not careful to cultivate a more considerate pace and sensitivity.
Pope Francis also spoke of the need for young people to cultivate the virtue of hope, the threats against which are many, including joblessness, the blandishments of a culture of hedonism, and the warped sense of religion that can fill the void left when concrete reasons for to hope in a better future appear to be wanting.
“The bitterness of [some young persons’] hearts,” Pope Francis said, “leads to addictions,” or even to suicide. “This lack of work leads to [some of them] to go elsewhere and enlist in a terrorist army,” he said, speculating that perhaps young people who make such a decision think, “at least that way I have something to do and [thus] I give meaning to my life.”
“Terrible,” Pope Francis said, “terrible.”
(from Vatican Radio)...