Vatican News

Pope Francis meets with German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Vatican News - Sat, 06/17/2017 - 08:22
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her husband on Saturday in a private audience at the Vatican Apostolic Palace. A communique from the Holy See Press Office called their discussions “cordial” and said they spoke about “the good relations and fruitful collaboration between the Holy See and Germany”. “Issues of common interest were then addressed, with special regard for the upcoming G20 meeting in Hamburg, and the parties agreed on the need to dedicate special attention to the responsibility of the international community in combating poverty and hunger, the global threat of terrorism, and climate change.” During the course of their discussions, Pope Francis and Chancellor Merkel also recalled the “tireless efforts” of the late German Chancellor Helmut Kohl “in favour of the unification of Germany and the unity of Europe”. After meeting with Pope Francis, Chancellor Merkel met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, and Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States. Listen to our report: (from Vatican Radio)...
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Decrees of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints

Vatican News - Sat, 06/17/2017 - 07:28
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday received in his Audience His  Eminence Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. During the meeting, the Holy Father authorized the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to promulgate the Decrees concerning: - the martyrdom of the Venerable Servant of God Teresio Olivelli, Laity; Killed in hatred of the Faith on January 17, 1945; The heroic virtues of the Servant of God, Antonio Giuseppe De Sousa Barroso, Bishop of Porto; Born on 5 November 1854 and died on August 31, 1918; - the heroic virtues of the Servant of God Joseph of Jesus López y González, Bishop of Aguas Calientes and Founder of the Congregation of the Maestro Catholic Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; Born on 16 October 1872 and died on November 11, 1950; - the heroic virtues of the Servant of God, Agostino Ernesto Castrillo, Bishop of San Marco Argentano-Bisignano, of the Order of Friars Minor; Born on 18 February 1904 and died on October 16, 1955; - the heroic virtues of the Servant of God James of Balduina (Benjamin Filon), professor priest of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchins; Born on 2 August 1900 and died on July 21, 1948; - the heroic virtues of the Servant of God, Mary of Angels ( Giuseppa Operti), professed monk of the Order of the Barmen Carmelites and founder of the Carmelite Sisters of Santa Teresa of Turin; Born on 16 November 1871 and dead on October 7, 1949; - heroic virtues of the Servant of God Humility Patlán Sánchez (Mary), Sister of the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception; Born March 17, 1895 and died on June 17, 1970. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis sends condolences to London fire victims

Vatican News - Sat, 06/17/2017 - 05:52
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message of condolence to the victims and families of the Grenfall Tower fire in London. In the message signed by Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy Father says he was "saddened to learn of the devastating fire in London and of the tragic loss of life and injury." He also praised the efforts of the emergency services in reponding to the tragedy.   Below find the Pope's message addressed to Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster. His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols Archbishop of Westminster His Holiness Pope Francis was saddened to learn of the devastating fire in London and of the tragic loss of life and injury. He entrusts the souls of those who have died to the Lord’s loving mercy and offers his heartfelt condolences to their families.  With appreciation for the brave efforts of the emergency service personnel and all committed to supporting those who have lost their homes, His Holiness invokes upon the local community God’s blessings of strength and peace.  Cardinal Pietro Parolin Secretary of State   (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope at Mass: God’s power saves us from weakness and sins

Vatican News - Fri, 06/16/2017 - 09:17
(Vatican Radio)  In order to be saved and healed by God we must recognize that are weak, vulnerable and sinful like earthen vessels, said ‎Pope Francis on Friday.  And this will lead us to happiness, he said in ‎his homily at the morning Mass in the Casa Santa Marta chapel in the Vatican.  He was reflecting on the Second Letter to the Corinthians, where St. Paul speaking about the mystery of Christ, says we have this treasure of Christ in our fragility and vulnerability because we are vessels made of clay. Not being shameful is hypocrisy   "All of us are vulnerable, fragile, weak, and we need to be healed,” the Pope said.  But recognizing our vulnerability is one of the most difficult things of life.  At times, we try to cover this vulnerability with cosmetics in order to disguise it, pretending it does not exist.  And disguises are always shameful, the Pope said. “They are hypocrisy." Temptation to cover our weakness and sins Pope Francis explained that besides being hypocritical towards others, we are also hypocritical within ourselves believing "to be something else”, hence not needing healing and support.  This, the Pope pointed out, is the path to vanity, pride and self-reference of those who do not feel themselves made of clay and thus seek salvation and fulfilment in themselves.  Instead, as St. Paul says, it is the power of God that saves us because of our vulnerability. Hence we are troubled but not crushed; we are shaken but not desperate; we are persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not killed.  There is always this relationship between clay and power, clay and treasure. But the temptation, the Pope said,  is always the same: to cover, conceal and not believing we are made of clay.  This is the hypocrisy towards ourselves. When we accept our weakness, God comes with His salvation and happiness In this regard, Pope Francis spoke about confession where we confess our sins in a way whitewashing the clay a bit in order to appear strong.  Rather, the Pope said, we must accept our weakness and vulnerability, even if it is "difficult" to do so.  Hence the importance of "shame".  It is shame that broadens the heart to allow the power of God in -  the shame of being clay and not a silver or gold vase.   When Peter objected to Jesus washing his feet, he did not realize he was made of clay needing the Lord’s power to be saved.  It’s only when we accept we are made of clay that the extraordinary power of God will come and give us the fulfilment, salvation, happiness and joy of being saved, thus receiving the Lord's "treasure". (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis writes preface to book on the curse of corruption

Vatican News - Thu, 06/15/2017 - 10:53
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has written the preface for a new book on corruption by Cardinal Peter Turkson , former president of the Vatican’s Justice and Peace Council and current head of the office for Integral Human Development. The volume, which was published on Thursday, explores the origins and devastating consequences of corruption, which the Pope describes as a "curse" and a “cancer” that can consume our lives. Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report: In his preface, the Pope describes corruption as the breakdown of relationships that every human being has with God, with our neighbours and with the natural world around us. Origin of all exploitation He describes it as the worst scourge of societies because it is the lifeblood of the mafia and other criminal organisations. Corruption, he says, is the origin of all exploitation and trafficking of people, drugs and weapons. It is at the heart of all injustice, lack of development, unemployment and social degradation. Corruption tempts us all Pope Francis praises the book for exposing the ramifications of corruption and the way it can tempt all of us in our political, economic, cultural or spiritual lives. The spirit of worldliness can corrupt us all, the pope warns, leading to a hardening of our hearts and indifference to those around us. The Pope ends his preface with an urgent appeal to all Christians and all people of good will to combat this curse, this cancer which can consume our lives. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis gives special greeting to sick and disabled at Audience

Vatican News - Wed, 06/14/2017 - 10:45
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis greeted the many sick and disabled persons gathered in the Paul VI Hall ahead of his Wednesday General Audience. The group followed his Audience from within the air conditioned audience hall to stay out of the sweltering Roman heat, to which the Pope alluded in a short address to them, saying it would be “like a Turkish bath out there today”. Thanking them for coming, the Holy Father invited the group to listen to his words “with a heart united to those in [St. Peter’s] Square” where his Audience was held. He said the Church is like this because it is united by the Holy Spirit, with “one group here and another there, but all are united.” Before exiting to hold his General Audience, Pope Francis prayed the Our Father and Hail Mary and gave his blessing to his special guests. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope at audience: God's unconditional love gives hope

Vatican News - Wed, 06/14/2017 - 08:48
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday continued his reflections on Christian hope, as he greeted thousands of pilgrims and visitors gathered in St Peter’s Square and in the Paul VI audience hall for his weekly general audience.  Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report: Pope Francis began his reflection by noting that none of us can live without love. Yet many people today, he went on, are anguished or empty inside because they don’t believe they are beautiful or important enough to be loved by others. Imagine a world where everyone is seeking attention and no-one is prepared to give love in a gratuitous way, he said. Behind so much narcissistic behaviour and incomprehensible actions we discover feelings of solitude and abandonment. When adolescents feel unloved, the pope continued, they may turn to violence, hatred or delinquent behaviour. There is no such thing as bad children or evil adolescents, he said, but there are unhappy people. When we look and smile freely at someone who is sad, he said, we open their hearts and offer them a way out of their unhappiness. Pope Francis said that God loves us with an unconditional love, not because we deserve it, but rather because he himself is love. Like the father of the prodigal son, he said, God has compassion for us even when we are far away from him. He also recalled the many mothers he met, back in Buenos Aires, who continued to love their sons unconditionally, even when they did wrong and ended up in prison. It is a time of Resurrection for us all, the pope concluded, because Jesus died to forgive us our sins. It is time to lift up those who are discouraged and to live in the hope of God the Father who loves us for ever, just as we are..May all of us find in God’s embrace the promise of new life and freedom, he said, for in his love is the source of all our hope. (from Vatican Radio)...
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Synod Secretariat announces launch of interactive website

Vatican News - Tue, 06/13/2017 - 07:25
(Vatican Radio) The General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops announced a new website on Tuesday, in preparation for the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October, 2018. The Synod Assembly is to be dedicated to the role of young people in the life of the Church. A statement from the Secretariat explains that the site is designed to promote the broad, interactive participation of young people from all around the world in preparations for the Assembly. The new website includes an online questionnaire addressed directly to young people in different languages ​​(Italian, English, French, Spanish and Portuguese). Answers will have to be sent to the General Secretariat by 30 November 2017. The statement goes on to encourage young people especially to visit the site and respond to the Questionnaire, saying that wide and fulsome response will be of great use in the process of preparing the Synod Assembly, and will be part of the extensive consultation that the General Secretariat is doing at all levels of the people of God. The website will be active from June 14 th of this year (2017), and may be found at the following address: http://youth.synod2018.va (from Vatican Radio)...
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First World Day of the Poor message released

Vatican News - Tue, 06/13/2017 - 07:16
(Vatican Radio) The Vatican on Tuesday released Pope Francis' message for the First World Day of the Poor which will be observed later this year on the 19th of November. Please find the English translation of the message below:  Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the First World Day of the Poor Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time 19 November 2017 Let us love, not with words but with deeds 1.         “Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in deed and in truth” (1 Jn 3:18).  These words of the Apostle John voice an imperative that no Christian may disregard.  The seriousness with which the “beloved disciple” hands down Jesus’ command to our own day is made even clearer by the contrast between the empty words so frequently on our lips and the concrete deeds against which we are called to measure ourselves.  Love has no alibi.  Whenever we set out to love as Jesus loved, we have to take the Lord as our example; especially when it comes to loving the poor.  The Son of God’s way of loving is well-known, and John spells it out clearly.  It stands on two pillars: God loved us first (cf. 1 Jn 4:10.19), and he loved us by giving completely of himself, even to laying down his life (cf. 1 Jn 3:16).             Such love cannot go unanswered.  Even though offered unconditionally, asking nothing in return, it so sets hearts on fire that all who experience it are led to love back, despite their limitations and sins.  Yet this can only happen if we welcome God’s grace, his merciful charity, as fully as possible into our hearts, so that our will and even our emotions are drawn to love both God and neighbour.  In this way, the mercy that wells up – as it were – from the heart of the Trinity can shape our lives and bring forth compassion and works of mercy for the benefit of our brothers and sisters in need. 2.         “This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him” (Ps 34:6).  The Church has always understood the importance of this cry.  We possess an outstanding testimony to this in the very first pages of the Acts of the Apostles, where Peter asks that seven men, “full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (6:3), be chosen for the ministry of caring for the poor.  This is certainly one of the first signs of the entrance of the Christian community upon the world’s stage: the service of the poor.  The earliest community realized that being a disciple of Jesus meant demonstrating fraternity and solidarity, in obedience to the Master’s proclamation that the poor are blessed and heirs to the Kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt 5:3).             “They sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need” (Acts 2:45).  In these words, we see clearly expressed the lively concern of the first Christians.  The evangelist Luke, who more than any other speaks of mercy, does not exaggerate when he describes the practice of sharing in the early community.  On the contrary, his words are addressed to believers in every generation, and thus also to us, in order to sustain our own witness and to encourage our care for those most in need.  The same message is conveyed with similar conviction by the Apostle James.  In his Letter, he spares no words: “Listen, my beloved brethren.  Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he has promised to those who love him?  But you have dishonoured the poor man.  Is it not the rich who oppress you, and drag you into court? ... What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works?  Can his faith save him?  If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled”, without giving them the things needed for the body; what does it profit?  So faith by itself, if it has not works, is dead’ (2:5-6.14-17). 3.         Yet there have been times when Christians have not fully heeded this appeal, and have assumed a worldly way of thinking.  Yet the Holy Spirit has not failed to call them to keep their gaze fixed on what is essential.  He has raised up men and women who, in a variety of ways, have devoted their lives to the service of the poor.  Over these two thousand years, how many pages of history have been written by Christians who, in utter simplicity and humility, and with generous and creative charity, have served their poorest brothers and sisters!             The most outstanding example is that of Francis of Assisi, followed by many other holy men and women over the centuries.  He was not satisfied to embrace lepers and give them alms, but chose to go to Gubbio to stay with them.  He saw this meeting as the turning point of his conversion: “When I was in my sins, it seemed a thing too bitter to look on lepers, and the Lord himself led me among them and I showed them mercy.  And when I left them, what had seemed bitter to me was changed into sweetness of mind and body” (Text 1-3: FF 110).  This testimony shows the transformative power of charity and the Christian way of life.             We may think of the poor simply as the beneficiaries of our occasional volunteer work, or of impromptu acts of generosity that appease our conscience.  However good and useful such acts may be for making us sensitive to people’s needs and the injustices that are often their cause, they ought to lead to a true encounter with the poor and a sharing that becomes a way of life.  Our prayer and our journey of discipleship and conversion find the confirmation of their evangelic authenticity in precisely such charity and sharing.  This way of life gives rise to joy and peace of soul, because we touch with our own hands the flesh of Christ.  If we truly wish to encounter Christ, we have to touch his body in the suffering bodies of the poor, as a response to the sacramental communion bestowed in the Eucharist.  The Body of Christ, broken in the sacred liturgy, can be seen, through charity and sharing, in the faces and persons of the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters.  Saint John Chrysostom’s admonition remains ever timely: “If you want to honour the body of Christ, do not scorn it when it is naked; do not honour the Eucharistic Christ with silk vestments, and then, leaving the church, neglect the other Christ suffering from cold and nakedness” (Hom. in Matthaeum, 50.3: PG 58).              We are called, then, to draw near to the poor, to encounter them, to meet their gaze, to embrace them and to let them feel the warmth of love that breaks through their solitude.  Their outstretched hand is also an invitation to step out of our certainties and comforts, and to acknowledge the value of poverty in itself. 4.         Let us never forget that, for Christ’s disciples, poverty is above all a call to follow Jesus in his own poverty.  It means walking behind him and beside him, a journey that leads to the beatitude of the Kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt 5:3; Lk 6:20).  Poverty means having a humble heart that accepts our creaturely limitations and sinfulness and thus enables us to overcome the temptation to feel omnipotent and immortal.  Poverty is an interior attitude that avoids looking upon money, career and luxury as our goal in life and the condition for our happiness.  Poverty instead creates the conditions for freely shouldering our personal and social responsibilities, despite our limitations, with trust in God’s closeness and the support of his grace.  Poverty, understood in this way, is the yardstick that allows us to judge how best to use material goods and to build relationships that are neither selfish nor possessive (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 25-45).             Let us, then, take as our example Saint Francis and his witness of authentic poverty.  Precisely because he kept his gaze fixed on Christ, Francis was able to see and serve him in the poor.  If we want to help change history and promote real development, we need to hear the cry of the poor and commit ourselves to ending their marginalization.  At the same time, I ask the poor in our cities and our communities not to lose the sense of evangelical poverty that is part of their daily life. 5.         We know how hard it is for our contemporary world to see poverty clearly for what it is.  Yet in myriad ways poverty challenges us daily, in faces marked by suffering, marginalization, oppression, violence, torture and imprisonment, war, deprivation of freedom and dignity, ignorance and illiteracy, medical emergencies and shortage of work, trafficking and slavery, exile, extreme poverty and forced migration.  Poverty has the face of women, men and children exploited by base interests, crushed by the machinations of power and money.  What a bitter and endless list we would have to compile were we to add the poverty born of social injustice, moral degeneration, the greed of a chosen few, and generalized indifference!             Tragically, in our own time, even as ostentatious wealth accumulates in the hands of the privileged few, often in connection with illegal activities and the appalling exploitation of human dignity, there is a scandalous growth of poverty in broad sectors of society throughout our world.  Faced with this scenario, we cannot remain passive, much less resigned.  There is a poverty that stifles the spirit of initiative of so many young people by keeping them from finding work.  There is a poverty that dulls the sense of personal responsibility and leaves others to do the work while we go looking for favours.  There is a poverty that poisons the wells of participation and allows little room for professionalism; in this way it demeans the merit of those who do work and are productive.  To all these forms of poverty we must respond with a new vision of life and society.             All the poor – as Blessed Paul VI loved to say – belong to the Church by “evangelical right” (Address at the Opening of the Second Session of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, 29 September 1963), and require of us a fundamental option on their behalf.  Blessed, therefore, are the open hands that embrace the poor and help them: they are hands that bring hope.  Blessed are the hands that reach beyond every barrier of culture, religion and nationality, and pour the balm of consolation over the wounds of humanity.  Blessed are the open hands that ask nothing in exchange, with no “ifs” or “buts” or “maybes”: they are hands that call down God’s blessing upon their brothers and sisters. 6.         At the conclusion of the Jubilee of Mercy, I wanted to offer the Church a World Day of the Poor, so that throughout the world Christian communities can become an ever greater sign of Christ’s charity for the least and those most in need.  To the World Days instituted by my Predecessors, which are already a tradition in the life of our communities, I wish to add this one, which adds to them an exquisitely evangelical fullness, that is, Jesus’ preferential love for the poor.             I invite the whole Church, and men and women of good will everywhere, to turn their gaze on this day to all those who stretch out their hands and plead for our help and solidarity.  They are our brothers and sisters, created and loved by the one Heavenly Father.  This Day is meant, above all, to encourage believers to react against a culture of discard and waste, and to embrace the culture of encounter.  At the same time, everyone, independent of religious affiliation, is invited to openness and sharing with the poor through concrete signs of solidarity and fraternity.  God created the heavens and the earth for all; yet sadly some have erected barriers, walls and fences, betraying the original gift meant for all humanity, with none excluded. 7.         It is my wish that, in the week preceding the World Day of the Poor, which falls this year on 19 November, the Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Christian communities will make every effort to create moments of encounter and friendship, solidarity and concrete assistance.  They can invite the poor and volunteers to take part together in the Eucharist on this Sunday, in such a way that there be an even more authentic celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King, on the following Sunday.  The kingship of Christ is most evident on Golgotha, when the Innocent One, nailed to the cross, poor, naked and stripped of everything, incarnates and reveals the fullness of God’s love.  Jesus’ complete abandonment to the Father expresses his utter poverty and reveals the power of the Love that awakens him to new life on the day of the Resurrection.             This Sunday, if there are poor people where we live who seek protection and assistance, let us draw close to them: it will be a favourable moment to encounter the God we seek.  Following the teaching of Scripture (cf. Gen 18:3-5; Heb 13:2), let us welcome them as honoured guests at our table; they can be teachers who help us live the faith more consistently.  With their trust and readiness to receive help, they show us in a quiet and often joyful way, how essential it is to live simply and to abandon ourselves to God’s providence. 8.         At the heart of all the many concrete initiatives carried out on this day should always be prayer.  Let us not forget that the Our Father is the prayer of the poor.  Our asking for bread expresses our entrustment to God for our basic needs in life.  Everything that Jesus taught us in this prayer expresses and brings together the cry of all who suffer from life’s uncertainties and the lack of what they need.  When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he answered in the words with which the poor speak to our one Father, in whom all acknowledge themselves as brothers and sisters.  The Our Father is a prayer said in the plural: the bread for which we ask is “ours”, and that entails sharing, participation and joint responsibility.  In this prayer, all of us recognize our need to overcome every form of selfishness, in order to enter into the joy of mutual acceptance. 9.         I ask my brother Bishops, and all priests and deacons who by their vocation have the mission of supporting the poor, together with all consecrated persons and all associations, movements and volunteers everywhere, to help make this World Day of the Poor a tradition that concretely contributes to evangelization in today’s world.             This new World Day, therefore, should become a powerful appeal to our consciences as believers, allowing us to grow in the conviction that sharing with the poor enables us to understand the deepest truth of the Gospel.  The poor are not a problem: they are a resource from which to draw as we strive to accept and practise in our lives the essence of the Gospel. From the Vatican, 13 June 2017 Memorial of Saint Anthony of Padua (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis: hearts open to gift and service of consolation

Vatican News - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 09:39
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta on Monday morning. In remarks to the faithful following the Readings of the Day, the Holy Father reflected on the gift of consolation, focusing specifically on the spiritual aptitudes most conducive to receiving the gift of consolation from God and sharing the gift with our fellows. Consolation is not autonomy The reading from the 2 nd Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians teaches us that consolation is not – Pope Francis said – “autonomous”: “The experience of consolation, which is a spiritual experience, always needs ‘someone else’ in order to be full: no one can console himself, no one – and whoever tries to do it ends up looking into the mirror – staring into the mirror and trying to ‘make oneself up’. One ‘consoles’ with these closed things that do not let one grow, and the air that one breathes is that narcissistic air of self-reference. This is the made up consolation that does not let one grow – and it is no [real] consolation, because it is closed, it lacks an alterity.” Click below to hear our report There are so many people in the Gospel, says the Pope in Homily at Casa Santa Marta. For example, the doctors of the Law, "full of their own sufficiency," the wealthy Epulone who had a feast on holiday thinking he was so consoled, but above all to express this attitude better is the Pharisee's prayer in front of the altar, which says: "Thank you for not being like everyone else." "This was in the mirror," the Pope notes, "looking at his soul made up of ideologies and thanking the Lord." Jesus therefore sees this possibility of being people who in this way of life "will never come to fullness, to the utmost to" swelling ", that is, to the vantage. Pope Francis said that the “Doctors of the Law” of which the Gospels speak are like this: “filled with self-sufficiency.” He also offered the example of the rich man – a priest – in the Gospel according to St. Luke, who lived his days from one feast to another, believing himself thus to be “consoled” – or the figure par excellence of the Pharisee who prayed, “Thank you, Lord, for not making me like those others.” “That man looked at himself in the mirror,” said Pope Francis. “He gazed on his one likeness embellished with ideologies, and thanked the Lord.” The Holy Father went on to say that Jesus shows us such persons because they represent a real possibility – it is possible to live in such a manner that, “one shall never arrive at fullness, but only achieve a state of being bloated,” that is, of being puffed up with vainglory. Consolation is gift and service In order to be true, consolation therefore needs an “other”. First of all, consolation is received, because, “it is God who consoles,” who gives this “gift.” Then true consolation also matures in another “other”, when one who has been consoled, consoles in turn. “Consolation is a state of transition from the gift received to the service given,” the Pope explains: “True consolation has this twofold ‘otherness’: it is gift and service. And so it is, if I let the consolation of the Lord enter as a gift it is because I need to be consoled. I am in need: in order to be consoled, one must recognize oneself as being in need of consolation. Only then does the Lord come, console us, and give us the mission to console others. it is not easy to have one’s heart open to receive the gift and to serve, the two ‘alterities’ that make consolation possible.” The teaching of the Beatitudes An open heart is needful, then, and in order to be open a heart must be happy – and the Gospel Reading of the day tells us precisely “who are the happy, the ‘blessed’.”: “The poor: the heart is opened with an attitude of poverty, of poverty of spirit; those who know how to cry, the meek ones, the meekness of heart; those hungry for justice who fight for justice; those who are merciful, who have mercy on others; the pure of heart; peace-makers and those who are persecuted for justice, for love of righteousness. Thus is the heart opened and [then] the Lord comes with the gift of consolation and the mission of consoling others.” Those who have their heart closed Such people are contrasted with those who are “closed” and feel “rich in spirit” – that is, “sufficient,” i.e., “those who do not need to cry because they feel they are in the right,” the violent who do not know what meekness is, the unjust who commit injustice, those who are without mercy, who never need to forgive because they do not feel the need to be forgiven, “the ones whose hearts are dirty,” the “makers of war” and not of peace, and those who are never criticized or persecuted because injustice done to other people is of no concern to them. “These,” Pope Francis says, “have a closed heart.” They are not happy because the gift of consolation cannot enter their closed hearts, and so they cannot give it in turn to those who need it. Open the door of the heart In conclusion, Pope Francis asked the faithful to think about their own hearts, whether they are open and able to ask for the gift of consolation and then give it to others as a gift from the Lord, saying that we need to return during the course of each day to this consideration, and thank the Lord, who “always seeks to console us,” and “asks us to open the doors of our hearts even only just a little bit.” Then, said Pope Francis, “[The Lord] will find a way in.”  (from Vatican Radio)...
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Pope Francis: ‘Catholic Church committed to protecting migrants’

Vatican News - Mon, 06/12/2017 - 04:24
(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)...
Categories: Vatican News

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

Vatican News - Sun, 06/11/2017 - 11:29
(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)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope receives delegation from Nigerian Diocese of Ahiara

Vatican News - Sat, 06/10/2017 - 10:25
(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)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Francis visits Italian President Matarella at Quirinale

Vatican News - Sat, 06/10/2017 - 07:12
(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)...
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Pope Francis to Scholas Occurrentes: ‘Education not only for elite’

Vatican News - Fri, 06/09/2017 - 14:43
(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)...
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Pope Francis sends condolences to Tehran attack victims

Vatican News - Fri, 06/09/2017 - 10:32
(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)...
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Pope: In moments of darkness choose the path of prayer, patience and hope in God

Vatican News - Fri, 06/09/2017 - 08:51
(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)...
Categories: Vatican News

Pope Francis: central role of women interfaith dialogue

Vatican News - Fri, 06/09/2017 - 08:29
(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)...
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Card. Turkson to UN: Holy See committed to ocean sustainability

Vatican News - Thu, 06/08/2017 - 06:57
(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)...
Categories: Vatican News

Kerala Catholics urged to spread the 'message' of Kandhamal

Vatican News - Thu, 06/08/2017 - 06:42
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)...
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