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Vatican City, Feb 23, 2017 / 09:33 am (EWTN News/CNA).- On Thursday Pope Francis welcomed longtime friend and Rabbi Abraham Skorka to the Vatican for the presentation of a new version of the Torah, which he said is a sign of the love God shows to man in both words and gestures. 53 min 23 sec
Florence, Italy, Feb 23, 2017 / 08:01 am (EWTN News/CNA).- She is one of the oldest religious sisters in the world, but this week, she turned 110 years young.  2 hours 25 min
Washington D.C., Feb 23, 2017 / 04:50 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Recent American guidelines for human gene modification have raised important ethical questions, especially with regard to modifying the genes of unborn children and of reproductive cells. 5 hours 36 min
Caracas, Venezuela, Feb 23, 2017 / 02:02 am (EWTN News/CNA).- After speaking against alleged government misconduct, human rights abuses and delay of free elections, Catholic churches and clergy around Venezuela are facing a wave of protests from pro-government supporters. 8 hours 24 min
Vatican City, Feb 22, 2017 / 09:19 am (EWTN News/CNA).- On Wednesday the Vatican announced plans to monitor with a more careful eye those who print official images of the Pope or the Holy See and sell them for profit, intervening with "appropriate action" when necessary. 1 day 1 hour
Paris, France, Feb 22, 2017 / 08:02 am (EWTN News/CNA).- An international group of Catholic physicians is protesting a law passed by France's parliament last week sanctioning pro-life websites that aim to dissuade women from abortion by using "misleading claims." 1 day 2 hours
Richmond, Va., Feb 22, 2017 / 06:35 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- The bishops of Virginia's two dioceses on Tuesday decried Governor Terry McAuliffe's veto of a bill which would have redirected state funding away from abortion providers and toward community health centers. 1 day 3 hours
Vatican City, Feb 22, 2017 / 06:34 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- A banker who allegedly used the Vatican Bank and other aspects of Holy See finances to manipulate the market for his bank stock price continues to be under investigation, as Italian authorities froze millions of euros in his personal assets on Tuesday. 1 day 3 hours
Vatican City, Feb 22, 2017 / 06:32 am (EWTN News/CNA).- On Wednesday Pope Francis said creation has often suffered because of humanity's sins and failings, stressing that we must take care of it because as Christians, we see signs of hope in Christ's Resurrection in nature every day.v 1 day 3 hours
Washington D.C., Feb 22, 2017 / 05:02 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Through its annual rice bowl initiative, Catholic Relief Services has announced it will be promoting a "culture of encounter" in its Lenten operation. 1 day 5 hours
Baltimore, Md., Feb 22, 2017 / 04:11 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Both Pope Francis and St. Francis of Assisi provide the right perspective on caring for creation in a way that places care for humanity at its center, said Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta. 1 day 6 hours
Vatican City, Feb 22, 2017 / 01:24 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Pope Francis met Wednesday morning with the families of nine of the victims of a terrorist attack which took place in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, last summer. 1 day 9 hours
Vatican City, Feb 21, 2017 / 10:30 am (EWTN News/CNA).- On Tuesday Pope Francis said that it is our duty to defend the dignity of migrants, particularly by enacting just laws that offer protection to those forced to flee from dangerous or inhumane situations. 1 day 23 hours
Washington D.C., Feb 21, 2017 / 10:01 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Antisemitic incidents in the United States must be prosecuted and condemned by the government to curb their rise, a religious freedom expert insists. 2 days 25 min
Baltimore, Md., Feb 21, 2017 / 08:02 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Nestled among the mix of shiny new storefronts, foreclosed row houses, parks, and public housing, lies what locals call the "gem of East Baltimore:" St. Frances Academy. Perduring the Civil War, social tumult, economic growth and decline in the neighborhood, the 189-year-old Catholic school still operates from the principles of its foundress, Servant of God Mother Mary Lange. 2 days 2 hours
Vatican City, Feb 21, 2017 / 07:58 am (EWTN News/CNA).- The Vatican and one of Islam's most renowned schools of Sunni thought are joining forces to discuss how they can work together in combating religious extremism that uses God's name to justify violence. 2 days 2 hours
Vatican City, Feb 21, 2017 / 05:24 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- The Vatican and the Jewish community in Rome are marking a new step in relations between the two religions by rolling out the first-ever joint exhibition focused entirely on the Menorah – an ancient symbol representing their shared roots. 2 days 5 hours
Washington D.C., Feb 21, 2017 / 05:12 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- People with severe mental illness are much more likely to be incarcerated than treated for their disorders, advocates said at a recent panel, and changes need to be made in order to break the vicious cycle of prison and homelessness. 2 days 5 hours
Philadelphia, Pa., Feb 21, 2017 / 05:01 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia's new book, released on Tuesday, takes a hard look at how Catholics in the United States can live their faith in a public square which has become post-Christian. 2 days 5 hours
Paris, France, Feb 21, 2017 / 04:36 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- A French diocese announced that Dominican Sister Marie Bernardette, the oldest sister in her order, passed away last week at 110 years of age. 2 days 5 hours
London, England, Feb 21, 2017 / 02:02 am (EWTN News/CNA).- You may recognize the sound of the London Oratory Schola Cantorum Boys Choir from epic motion picture soundtracks like The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, or The Phantom of the Opera. 2 days 8 hours

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

From: The World Seen From Rome
Posted

Below is a Zenit translation of Pope Francis’ address to members of the Spanish Villarreal football club, managers and coaching staff, this morning in the Vatican.The team competes against ‘AS Roma’ tonight in the city’s Olympic Stadium in their second leg of the “Europa League” Championship:

* * *

Dear Friends, good morning. I greet you joyfully, footballers, trainers and managers of the Villarreal team and I thank you for this visit, on the occasion of the game you will play this afternoon. Soccer, as the rest of sports, is an image of life and of society. In the field, you need one another. Each player puts his professionalism and ability for the benefit of a common ideal, which is to play well to win. To achieve this affinity, much training is necessary, but it is also important to invest time and effort in strengthening the team’s spirit, to be able to create that connection of movements: a simple look, a little gesture, an expression communicate so many things in the field. This is possible if one acts with a spirit of fellowship, leaving aside individualism and personal aspirations. If one plays thinking of the good of the group, then it is easier to obtain victory. Instead, when one thinks of oneself and forgets the others, we say, in Argentina, that he is someone who likes to “eat the ball” himself.

Moreover, when you are playing soccer, you are, at the same time, educating and transmitting values. Many people, especially young people, admire and observe you. They want to be like you. Through your professionalism, you are transmitting a way of being to those that follow you, especially the new generations. And this is a responsibility and it should motivate you to give the best of yourselves to exercise those values, which in soccer must be palpable: fellowship, personal effort, beauty of the game, team play.

One of the characteristics of a good athlete is gratitude. If we think of our life, we can bring to mind the memory of the many people that have helped us and without whom we wouldn’t be here. You can recall those with whom you played as a child, your first team companions, trainers, assistants and also the fans who encourage you in every game with their presence. This memory does us good, not to feel superior but to be aware that we are part of a great team, which began to be formed a long time ago. To feel this way helps us grow as people, because our “game” is not only ours, but also of the others, who in some way form part of our lives. And this also strengthens the spirit of the amateur game, which must never be lost; it must be recovered every day, so that it keep that freshness in you, with that greatness of spirit.

I encourage you to continue playing, giving the most beautiful and best of yourselves so that others can enjoy those agreeable moments, that make the day different. I join you, I pray for you, I implore the blessing of the Virgin of Grace and the intercession of Saint Paschal Bailon, Patrons of the city of Villarreal, so that you are supported in life and can be instruments to take to all those that follow and encourage you, and to your friends the joy and peace of God.

It helps me a lot to think of soccer because I like it, and it helps me. But the one I think of most is the goalkeeper. Why? Because he has to catch the ball from wherever it is kicked, he doesn’t know from where it will come. And life is like this. Things must be taken from where they come and as they come. And when I am faced with situations I did not expect, which must be resolved, and came from here when I expected them from there, I think of the goalkeeper, so I keep you very present. Thank you.

[Original text: Spanish]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

 

1 hour 47 min

“The fraternal and institutional dialogue between Jews and Christians is now well-established and effective, made so by encounters that are ongoing and collaborative.”

Pope Francis made this observation to a group of rabbis, led by Rabbi Abraham Skorka, the Pontiff’s dear friend from Buenos Aires, for a special presentation of the Torah, stressing the gift of the torah which they present him with today “is fully a part of this dialogue, which finds expression not only in words, but also in gestures.”

This “new and precious” edition of the Torah, the Holy Father said, “brings us together today around the Torah as the Lord’s gift, his revelation, his word.”

Recalling that Saint John Paul II called the Torah the “living teaching of the living God” (Address for the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Declaration “Nostra Aetate”, 6 December 1990, 3), Francis stressed it 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, the Jesuit Pope recalled,  is resonant with associations that bring us together, noting that God is the greatest and most faithful covenantal partner.

“God,” Francis explained, “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,” he continued, “these divine words of covenant open before all of us paths of goodness to walk together.”

The Pontiff applauded their publication as a fruit of a “covenant” between persons of different nationalities, ages and religious confessions, who joined in this common effort.

After underscoring that every edition of sacred Scripture “possesses a spiritual value that infinitely surpasses its material value,” Francis asked God to bless all those who have contributed to the work.

***

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Text: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-address-to-rabbi-skorka-rabbis-for-presenting-new-edition-of-torah/

4 hours 40 min

Below is a Vatican-provided translation of Pope Francis’ address to a group of Rabbis led by Rabbi Abraham Skorka, a dear friend of the Pontiff’s from Buenos Aires, on the occasion of their presentation to him of a new edition of the Torah:

* * *

Dear Friends,

I offer a warm welcome to all of you, who have come to present me with a new and precious edition of the Torah. I thank Rabbi Abraham Skorka for his kind words, and I am very grateful to all of you for this thoughtful gesture, which brings us together today around the Torah as the Lord’s gift, his revelation, his word.

The Torah, which Saint John Paul II called “the living teaching of the living God” (Address for the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Declaration “Nostra Aetate”, 6 December 1990, 3), 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. God is the greatest and most faithful covenantal partner. He called Abraham in order to form from him a people who would become a blessing for all peoples of the earth. 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. This publication is itself the fruit of a “covenant” between persons of different nationalities, ages and religious confessions, who joined in this common effort.

The fraternal and institutional dialogue between Jews and Christians is now well-established and effective, made so by encounters that are ongoing and collaborative. The gift that you are making to me today is fully a part of this dialogue, which finds expression not only in words but also in gestures. 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. 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.

Every edition of sacred Scripture, however, possesses a spiritual value that infinitely surpasses its material value. I ask God to bless all those who contributed to this work and, in a particular way, to bless all of you, to whom I renew my personal gratitude.

[Original text: Italian] [Vatican-provided translation]

 

4 hours 50 min

Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, President of the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Foundation and former Director of the Holy See Press Office, received from the hands of the Ambassador of France to the Holy See, Mister Philippe Zeller, the medal of the of the Order of the Legion of Honor, on February 22, 2017 at the Villa Bonaparte in Rome, headquarters of the French Embassy to the Holy See, announced to ZENIT yesterday the Embassy itself by way of preview.

Father Lombardi, former Director of La Civiltà Cattolica and former Provincial of the Italian Jesuits, spent almost his entire career in the realm of communications in the Vatican.

In 1991, he was appointed Director of Programs of Vatican Radio and in 2005 Delegate Administrator. In 2001, he became Delegate Administrator of the Vatican Television Center, a post he held until January 22, 2013, when Father Dario Edoardo Vigano replaced him.

On July 11, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Father Federico Lombardi Director of the Holy See Press Office. As he speaks German well, he became a sort of “spokesman of the Pope.”

He continued his mission also during Pope Francis’ pontificate until August 1, 2016. On February 29, 2016, he left the management of Vatican Radio in the ambit of the reorganization of the communications services of the Holy See and the institution of the Secretariat for Communication.

At present, he is President of the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation.

 

5 hours 3 min

Orthodox and Catholics in Russia are developing joint initiatives for the protection of life. International Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need is promoting the collaboration. ACN’s Russia expert Peter Humeniuk explains the how and why.

***

The Foreign Office of the Moscow Patriarchate held an international seminar at the end of January, during which the Orthodox and Catholic churches jointly addressed the issue of abortion. What was accomplished?

Both Churches share a deep anxiety in the face of the million-fold killing of unborn children. When Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow met in Havana one year ago, the protection of life—besides the persecution of Christians in the Middle East—was one of the most important issues mentioned in their joint declaration. The Moscow seminar was thus a direct result of this historic meeting.

The protection of life is an issue on which the two Churches completely agree, also in terms of theology. This makes it easy to take joint, concrete steps in the spirit of ecumenism. The seminar focused on analyzing the situation, but also and particularly on finding solutions. The seminar was a platform for personal encounters and for an intense and constructive exchange of experiences. The Catholic Church has vast international experience on this front and the Orthodox Church can learn from this.

Why is this issue such an important one for the church in Russia at the moment?

Unfortunately, abortion is very prevalent in Russia. This can be traced back to Soviet times, when many people considered abortion to be a sort of “normal” form of family planning. Unfortunately, this mentality is still deeply rooted. The Orthodox Church has always spoken out against abortion, of course, as did its Catholic sister Church.

But now there is a growing awareness that concrete deeds and initiatives need to be developed to help the women. On the whole, the Russian people are beginning to become aware of this problem—if for no other reason than the low birth rate in Russia, as well as across the Western world.

What is the role of ACN?

ACN has already been working for a quarter of a century to set up a dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Church. Saint John Paul II gave our founder Father Werenfried van Straaten this assignment in 1992. The unheard-of sacrifices the Orthodox Church in Russia had to make during Soviet times had prompted this request. In the wake of the fall of the Soviet Union, the Orthodox Church practically had to start at zero again. And that was the moment to initiate an “ecumenism of solidarity” on all levels to follow the “ecumenism of the martyrs” that had been lived out by the Christians of various denominations in the Soviet camps and prisons.

Bear in mind that Vatican II referred to the Russian Orthodox Church as a “sister Church.” ACN has the privilege of being able to continue in the role of “bridge builder” and to help develop and fund joint projects.

5 hours 45 min

Just over 3 million people, about 8% of the population of Egypt, data that goes back to 1986, the last census furnished by the Egyptian Authorities, on the presence of Coptic Christians in the country of the sphinxes.

On the basis of Baptism registers, the Coptic Church estimates its presence at about 11 million faithful out of a total of 54 million inhabitants. In any case, a minority and very ancient presence, which for two thousand years lives in a land which at times is hostile.

The persecutions are like a specter, which every now and then returns to agitate over the head of Egypt’s Christians, as happened last December 11, when a suicide attack resulted in 27 victims in Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo.

Last February 6, the bishops of the Patriarchal Church of Alexandria of the Copts — in the Vatican on their ad Limina visit –, also spoke about the situation that the Christian community in Egypt is living. ZENIT caught up with His Beatitude Ibrahim Isaac Sedrak, Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, to talk about the subjects at the center of the conversation with the Pontiff and of the atmosphere that is breathed among Christians in Egypt.

* *

ZENIT: Your Beatitude, how were your conversations with the Holy Father?

Patriarch Sedrak: There was a very cordial atmosphere in more than an hour of conversations. As he has demonstrated on every occasion during his pontificate, the Holy Father has had the capacity to make us feel his hospitality and human and spiritual closeness.

ZENIT: Were you accompanied by Egyptian faithful or did you come alone?

Patriarch Sedrak: As requested for these occasions, the Synod of the Coptic Catholic Church came alone, made up of eight Bishops.

ZENIT: Where did you lodge during your stay in Rome? Did you meet with representatives of the Coptic Community in Italy?

Patriarch Sedrak: We lodged at the Domus Romana Sacerdotalis, on via Traspontina. We celebrated Holy Mass, on Sunday afternoon, February 5, with the Coptic Community of Rome. At the end of the Mass, we spent time with the faithful.

ZENIT: What topics did you discuss with the Pope?

Patriarch Sedrak: We discussed primarily the pastoral work in our Church, particularly the itinerary of formation to undertake to meet the new challenges of our time.

ZENIT: What is the state of mind of Christians in Egypt today? After the attack of last December 11 at the Orthodox Cathedral of Cairo, were other violent episodes registered …

Patriarch Sedrak: There was a very violent terrorist attack in the Orthodox Cathedral during prayer. The fact that women and children were affected increased our grief and dismay in all the Egyptian people. However, the reaction was one of absolute civility and showed the true unity of the whole population. The Lord sustained the grief of each one of us and especially of the relatives of the victims. Now it can be said that everything has returned to normality, although we can never be completely tranquil, as the rest in every part of the world up to today. But we put all our trust in the Lord.

ZENIT: In any case, are encouraging signs emerging for Christians in Egypt on the part of President al-Sisi?. Is it easier for you to build churches today?

Patriarch Sedrak: The President is a very open and attentive person to Christians’ situation. He has given and continues to give signs of closeness and care for all the social realities and, in particular, for minorities. Hence, we are grateful to the Lord for having given us such a President. However, the political situation finds it difficult to open up, because of bureaucratic slowness and little clarity. This concerns also the building of new churches.

ZENIT: How are ecumenical relations between Catholic and Orthodox Copts?

Patriarch Sedrak: In recent times, great steps forward have been taken in relations between Catholics and Orthodox. The new Coptic-Orthodox Pope Tawadros II is a man very open to dialogue and encounter. However, we cannot deny that at the level of practical recognition, especially in what concerns the Sacraments, there is still a long way to go. We walk with confidence towards unity, knowing that it is indispensable to be credible witnesses of the Gospel.

ZENIT: What are the greatest needs of the Christian community in Egypt? What are the pastoral priorities?

Patriarch Sedrak: As every Christian community, we are in need above all of spiritual gifts, necessary to be able to incarnate the Gospel in our time and in our beloved land of Egypt. As we were saying earlier, what we need in the main is the search for unity in diversity of the Confessions and Traditions present in Egypt. The pastoral priorities are the teaching of the Catechism, the formation of the new generations, of young people, the pastoral care of needy families, as well as integration and participation in social life through schools and hospitals.

5 hours 55 min

“I give a warm welcome to the Arabic-speaking pilgrims, in particular those from the Middle East!”, said Pope Francis during the General Audience of Feb. 22, 2017.

This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:30 in St. Peter’s Square, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.

The Pope spoke in Italian, translated immediately into Arabic by one of his collaborators in the Roman Curia:  “Dear Brothers and Sisters, Saint Paul reminds us that ‘in hope, we were saved.'”

“Therefore, let us learn to read everything with the eyes of the Risen Christ, trusting in the Lord Who wants to heal with His mercy all the wounded and humiliated hearts and regenerate a new world and a new humanity reconciled in His love.”

“May the Lord bless you!” he said.

1 day 4 hours
To those on the verge of dying from starvation in South Sudan, it is imperative that concrete food aid reaches them right away.

Pope Francis made this appeal toward the end of his weekly General Audience this morning, the first in St. Peter’s Square in 2017.

“Of particular concern,” the Pope lamented, “is the painful news coming from the battered southern Sudan, where a fratricidal conflict is compounded by a severe food crisis, which, through starvation, condemns to death millions of people, including many children.”

On Monday, Feb. 20, South Sudan’s government officially declared a famine in different parts of the country. According to the United Nations, the African nation’s areas hardest hit by war and the collapsing economy have left about 100,000 people facing starvation. A million others are at risk of famine.

“At this time,” Pope Francis appealed, “it is more necessary than ever, that everyone commits not just to making statements, but to providing concrete food aid and allowing that it can reach suffering populations.” “May the Lord sustain these brothers and those working to help them.”

 

1 day 6 hours

“Let us entrust ourselves to Mary.”

Pope Francis gave this advice this morning, February 22, 2017, at the end of the general audience while greeting the German-speaking pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square, the first outside in the square this year.

“I address a cordial greeting to all the German-speaking pilgrims,” the Pope said, noting,-“In this year of the centenary of the apparitions at Fatima, let us entrust ourselves to Mary, Mother of hope, who invites us to turn our gaze towards Salvation, toward a new world and a new humanity.

“God bless you all,” he said.

1 day 6 hours

At the General Audience of February 22, 2017, Pope Francis evoked the feast of the “Chair of Saint Peter,” a day of “special communion” with the Bishop of Rome. He asked young people especially to pray for his ministry.

In fact, at the end of the meeting in St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father addressed a “special thought to young people, the sick and newlyweds.” “Today, we celebrate the feast of the Chair of the Apostle Saint Peter, day of special communion of believers with the Successor of Peter and with the Holy See,” he said to them.

“Dear young people, I encourage you to intensify your prayer for my Petrine ministry; dear sick, I thank you for your testimony of life giving in suffering for the edification of the ecclesial community; and you, dear newlyweds, build your family on the love that binds the Lord Jesus to His Church.”

At the moment of greeting in Portuguese, Pope Francis evoked this feast again: “May your visit today to the See of Saint Peter infuse great courage in your hearts to embrace your cross day after day, and an earnest desire for holiness, so that you are able to fill others’ cross with hope.”

“I entrust myself to your prayers,” added the Pontiff.

The Episcopal Chair, which recalls Peter’s supreme magisterium, has been celebrated at Rome since the 4th century. It has been kept in a of wooden and ivory furniture under the “Glory of Bernini” in Saint Peter’s Basilica since 875. The Chair of Saint Peter is represented carrying four Doctors of the Church, of East and West: Saint Augustine, Saint John Chrysostom, Saint Ambrose and Saint Athanasius. Represented on the back of the Chair is the scene when Christ communicates to Saint Peter the power to feed His sheep.

Since 1667, it has been exhibited only once, in 1867, for the 18th centenary of the martyrdom of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.

1 day 6 hours

‘Let us see ourselves and the world with Christ’s eyes,’ encouraged Pope Francis during the General Audience of February 22, 2017.

Continuing his catecheses on Christian hope, the Pope meditated on how Saint Paul reminds us that creation is God’s gift, which reveals to us His loving plan, and what this means to faithful on a practical level.

Pope Francis concluded, praying that all faithful realize that amid being discouraged or tempted to despair, we are to remember “that the Holy Spirit comes to our aid, to keep alive our cries to God, and to reveal new heavens and a new earth which he is preparing for us.”

***

Speaker:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: Rather than being something we possess and use for own pleasure, Saint Paul reminds us that creation is God’s gift, which reveals to us his loving plan. But when we are self-centred and commit sin, we break our communion with God, and the original beauty of human nature and creation is marred. Thus, rather than show God’s infinite love, creation bears the wounds of human pride. The Lord, however, does not abandon us, but offers us a new horizon of freedom and salvation. Saint Paul reminds us of this truth, by inviting us to hear the groaning of all people and things, and even the groaning of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. These groans are not sterile, but speak of the pangs of birth, the ushering in of new life. Despite the many signs of our sins and failings, 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, a new creation. We know that Jesus wants to heal us and creation once and for all, and reconcile us in his love. Let us see ourselves and the world with Christ’s eyes. And when we are discouraged or tempted to despair, let us remember that the Holy Spirit comes to our aid, to keep alive our cries to God, and to reveal new heavens and a new earth which he is preparing for us.

Speaker:

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly those from England, Ireland, Norway, India and the United States of America. Upon all of you, I invoke the gifts of mercy and peace, and I pray to the Lord that they may help you to care for creation and one another. May God bless you!

[Original text: English]

© Libreria editrice vaticana

1 day 6 hours

‘Let us see ourselves and the world with Christ’s eyes,’ encouraged Pope Francis during the General Audience of February 23, 2017.

Continuing his catecheses on Christian hope, the Pope meditated on how Saint Paul reminds us that creation is God’s gift, which reveals to us His loving plan, and what this means to faithful on a practical level.

Pope Francis concluded, praying that all faithful realize that amid being discouraged or tempted to despair, we are to remember “that the Holy Spirit comes to our aid, to keep alive our cries to God, and to reveal new heavens and a new earth which he is preparing for us.”

***

Dear Brothers and Sisters: Rather than being something we possess and use for own pleasure, Saint Paul reminds us that creation is God’s gift, which reveals to us his loving plan. But when we are self-centred and commit sin, we break our communion with God, and the original beauty of human nature and creation is marred. Thus, rather than show God’s infinite love, creation bears the wounds of human pride. The Lord, however, does not abandon us, but offers us a new horizon of freedom and salvation. Saint Paul reminds us of this truth, by inviting us to hear the groaning of all people and things, and even the groaning of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. These groans are not sterile, but speak of the pangs of birth, the ushering in of new life. Despite the many signs of our sins and failings, 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, a new creation. We know that Jesus wants to heal us and creation once and for all, and reconcile us in his love. Let us see ourselves and the world with Christ’s eyes. And when we are discouraged or tempted to despair, let us remember that the Holy Spirit comes to our aid, to keep alive our cries to God, and to reveal new heavens and a new earth which he is preparing for us.

Speaker:

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly those from England, Ireland, Norway, India and the United States of America. Upon all of you, I invoke the gifts of mercy and peace, and I pray to the Lord that they may help you to care for creation and one another. May God bless you!

[Original text: English]

© Libreria editrice vaticana

1 day 7 hours

Keep making beauty, for this leads one toward God.

Pope Francis stressed this during this morning’s General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, as he thanked the Rony Roller Circus who performed for him during the Italian-language remarks.

After the performance, the circus performers, including dancers, clowns and contortionists, went up to the Pope, who gave them his blessing.

Reflecting on their festive performance, the Argentine Pope remarked:” They make beauty and beauty leads us to God. It’s a way to reach God.”

“Keep making beauty,” the Pope added, concluding: “Continue. It does good for all of us.”

 

1 day 7 hours

Pope Francis has sent his condolences for the death of the Archbishop Emeritus of the Irish Diocese of Dublin.

In a telegram, the Pope sent upon learning of the death of Cardinal Desmond Connell to current Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, Francis lamented the passing away of the 90-year-old cardinal who has been battling illness.

In Jan. 1988, he was appointed Archbishop of Dublin, a position he held until April 2004. In the consistory of Feb. 21, 2001, St. Pope John Paul II created him a cardinal.

Born in March 1926 in Phibsboro, Ireland, Desmond Connell would later be ordained for the Archdiocese of Dublin on May 19, 1951 and would hold 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.

The Irish cardinal served as chaplain to the Poor Clares in Donnybrook, and the Carmelites in Drumcondra and in Blackrock, and had written on philosophical and theological subjects.

Below is the Vatican-provided text of the telegram of condolences Pope Francis sent this morning:
**

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.

FRANCISCUS PP.

Francis PP.

[Original text: English] [Vatican-provided text]
1 day 7 hours

The Holy See will intervene to protect Pope Francis’ image, so that his message and person are not instrumentalized, stated on Wednesday, February 22, 2017, the Holy See State Secretariat, pointing out that among its tasks is “to protect the Holy Father’s image so that his entire message can reach the faithful and his person is not instrumentalized.”

Among the things it will defend, through the appropriate normative instruments established at the international level, are the Holy See’s official symbols and coat of arms.

The press release added that “to make the protection action more effective,” in regard to the objectives indicated, and to interrupt illegal situations eventually found, the State Secretariat will carry out systematic vigilance activities to control the ways with which images of the Holy Father and the Holy See’s coat of arms are used, intervening if necessary with timely actions.”

As is known, it is possible to find on the Internet several Websites, Twitter and Facebook included, which say that they belong to the Holy See, with information and news that is not true.

The leadership of the Holy See Press Office explained that it refers more to all objects sold or people who do business to earn money using the Pope’s image or the Holy See’s symbols.

1 day 7 hours

This morning’s General Audience was held at 9:30 in St. Peter’s Square, for the first time this year, where the Holy Father Francis met with groups of pilgrims and faithful from Italy and from all over the world.

Continuing with the series of catecheses on the theme of Christian hope, in his address in Italian the Pope focused his meditation on the theme: “For in this hope, we were saved” (cf. Romans 8:19-27).

After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present. Then he made an appeal for the grave situation in South Sudan.

The General Audience ended with the singing of the Pater Noster and the Apostolic Blessing.

Below is a ZENIT working translation of the Holy Father’s remarks:

* * *

The Holy Father’s Catechesis

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

We are often tempted to think that Creation is our property, a possession that we can exploit to our pleasure and to which we must render account to no one. In the passage of the Letter to the Romans (8:19-27), of which we just heard a part, the Apostle Paul reminds us, instead, that Creation is a wonderful gift that God has put in our hands, so that we can enter in relationship with Him and recognize  the sign of His design of love, to whose realization we are all called to collaborate, day after day.

However, when the human being lets himself be gripped by egoism, he ends up by ruining even the most beautiful things that were entrusted to him. And so it has happened also with Creation. We think of water. Water is a most beautiful thing and so important; water gives us life, it helps us in everything but to exploit minerals water is contaminated, Creation is soiled and destroyed. This is only one example. There are so many. With the tragic experience of sin, communion with God broken, we have broken the original communion with all that surrounds us and we have ended up by corrupting Creation, thus rendering it a slave, subject to our perishability. And, unfortunately, the consequence of all this is dramatically before our eyes every day. When man breaks his communion with God, he loses his original beauty and ends up disfiguring everything around him; and where everything at first referred back to the Father-Creator and to His infinite love, now it bears the sad and desolate sign of human pride and voracity. Human pride, exploiting Creation, destroys.

However, the Lord does not leave us alone and, even in this desolate picture, He offers us a new prospect of liberation, of universal salvation. It is what Paul makes evident with joy, inviting us to listen to the groaning of the whole of Creation. In fact, if we pay attention, everything around us groans: Creation itself groans, we human beings groan and the Spirit groans within us, in our heart. Now, these groans are not a sterile, disconsolate lament but – as the Apostle specifies – they are the groans of one giving birth; they are the groans of one who suffers, but who knows that a new life is about to come to light. And in our case it is truly so. We are still dealing with the consequences of our sin and everything around us still bears the sign of our toils, of our failures, of our closures. At the same time, however, we know that the Lord has saved us and it has already been given to us to contemplate and to enjoy in ourselves and in what surrounds us signs of the Resurrection, of Easter, which brings about a new Creation.

This is the content of our hope. A Christian does not live outside the world; he is able to recognize in his life and in what surrounds him signs of evil, of egoism and of sin. He is supportive of those who suffer, of those who weep, of those who are marginalized, of those who feel desperate …. But, at the same time, a Christian has learned to read all this with the eyes of Easter, with the eyes of the Risen Christ. And so he knows that we are living a time of expectation, a time of longing that of goes beyond the present, the time of fulfilment. We know in hope that the Lord wants to heal, definitively with His mercy, wounded and humiliated hearts and all that man has disfigured in his impiety, and that thus He will regenerate a new world and a new humanity, finally reconciled in His love.

How many times we Christians are tempted to disappointment, to pessimism. Sometimes we let ourselves fall into useless lament or we remain without words and we do not even know what to ask for, what to hope for … However, once again the Holy Spirit comes to help us, breath of our hope, who keeps alive the groan and expectation of our heart. The Spirit sees for us beyond the negative appearances of the present and already now reveals to us the new heavens and the new earth that the Lord is preparing for humanity.

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

In Italian

A warm welcome goes to the Italian-speaking faithful. I am happy to receive the Deacons of the Diocese of Milan and of the Society of Mary, as well as the delegation of the “Benedictine Torch of Peace,” with the Archbishop of Spoleto-Norcia, Monsignor Renato Boccardo, the Abbot of Montecassino, Dom Donato Ogliari and the Abbot of Subiaco, Dom Mauro Meacci: I invite each one to become a promoter of the culture of peace in every realm of life.

I greet the Mayor and the delegation of the town of Farindola, stricken a month ago by the avalanche that destroyed a hotel, causing numerous victims. I greet the Royal Arch-Confraternity of Piedmonte Matese with the Bishop of Alife-Caiazzo, Monsignor Valentino Di Cerbo; the participants in the manifestation against bullying with the Bishop of Palestrina, Monsignor Domenico Sigalini and the members of the Sophia Naval Operation, geared to the prevention of tragedies of human beings in the Mediterranean. I greet the members of the “Giuseppe Toniolo” Bank of Cooperative Credit of Genzano of Rome, La Stanza Accanto Association and the artists of the Rony Rollers Circus, thanking them for their performance. They create beauty! And beauty leads us to God. It is a way to come to God. Continue to create beauty! Continue, as it does us all good. Thank you!

A special thought goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Today we celebrate the feast of the See of Saint Peter the Apostle, day of special communion of believers with the Successor of Saint Peter and with the Holy See. Dear young people, I encourage you to intensify your prayer for my Petrine ministry; dear sick, I thank you for the testimony of life given in suffering for the edification of the ecclesial community; and you, dear newlyweds, build your family on the same love that binds the Lord Jesus to His Church.

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

The Holy Father’s Appeal

Of particular concern is the painful news reaching us of martyred South Sudan, where, joined to a fratricidal conflict, is a grave food crisis that scourges the region of the Horn of Africa and that condemns millions of people to death due to hunger, among them many children. At this moment, more than ever the commitment of all is necessary not to stop a declarations but to render food aid concrete and to enable it to reach the suffering populations. May the Lord sustain these brothers of ours and all those who work to help them.

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
1 day 8 hours

Ecology is not something in itself but that for Pope Francis is part of a vision of the whole of the common good of humanity. The Economy of Communion does not discuss entrepreneurship, but the vision of profit, said the President of the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation, Domingo Sugranyes Bickel, answering journalists apart from the presentation of the Foundation’s International Prize on February 15, 2017, in the Holy See Press Office, in the presence of Cardinal Reinhard Marx.

In regard to the Economy of Communion, he pointed out: “one thing is the philanthropy of the capitalist world, which is useful, which helps much but has its limitations. Another thing is to transform the economic policies and visions that govern the future of enterprises,” adding that there “are very many businesses that are working in this line,” though he acknowledged that there “are also negative examples.”

The Holy Father “says ‘no’ to an economy that kills, which does not mean that economies kill,” although Francis has the merit of “putting this debate on the table, as had rarely been done in the past.” ”On many occasions he has expressed carefully the role of the businessman in development, and the Economy of Communion does not argue the principle of entrepreneurship but promotes it.”

“We must also remember that our economy was reduced to poverty in a spectacular way, as had never happened in the past, though he acknowledged that “this process of growth creates in turn inequalities, and the new economy that is arising changes profoundly the norms and the concept of work, and it’s possible that it will create new inequalities, although to reduce them, for many years there have been known systems underway through imposition and taxation. But it’s not enough.”

Therefore, “in the Centesimus Annus Foundation, we are promoting a new network of voluntary funds because we believe that the fiscal answer doesn’t resolve everything,” he explained.

In regard to Laudato Si’, he pointed out that it is necessary to understand this global vision of the Holy Father, “in which ecology is not something in itself but is part of the vision of the whole of the common good of humanity.”

***

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Part I of the Interview: https://zenit.org/articles/centesimus-annus-foundation-president-much-has-been-simplified-about-capitalism-the-market-abuses-are-being-questioned/

 

1 day 8 hours

Watch out for worldliness and ambition and ask God to give us childlike simplicity.

According to Vatican Radio, Pope Francis gave this warning and encouragement to faithful during his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, as he reflected on today’s 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.

Recognizing temptation affects all people, Francis prayed that before the temptation of ambition, God gives us the grace of ‘holy shame.’

Recalling that the disciples do not understand why Jesus has told them of His coming death since they are too afraid to ask what he means demonstrates “the temptation to not complete the mission,” the Pope noted. Even Jesus, he added, suffered this temptation.

Warning Against Ambition, Worldliness

Today’s Gospel, the Jesuit Pope also recalled, 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…’

This, Francis said, is the chain of sin.

Ladder Climbers

The Holy Father also offered other examples of this temptation which brings one to “climb the ladder” and criticize others.

“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.”

This, Francis warned, is not the way of the Lord, but the path of worldliness and vanity. “Even among us bishops,” Francis lamented, worldliness comes as a temptation.

Pope Francis concluded, praying for three things: for “the grace to be ashamed when we find ourselves in these situations”; to defend us “from ambitions and from the worldliness of wishing to be greater than others”; and to give us the grace of the simplicity of a child.

 

2 days 2 hours

“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.”

Pope Francis stressed this in his address to participants of an International Forum on Migration and Peace taking place in Rome, whom he received in the Vatican this morning, noting his conviction that their shared response may be articulated by four verbs: “welcome, protect, promote and integrate.”

Organized by the new Vatican Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development in collaboration with the Scalabrini International Migration Network, the two-day international forum aims to stimulate 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.

Discussing welcome, Francis said: “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”

Faced with this kind of rejection, rooted ultimately in self-centredness and amplified by populist rhetoric, he added, “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.”

Turning to protecting, Francis stressed that 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; prioritizing constructive processes, which perhaps are slower, over immediate results of consensus; implementing timely and humane programs 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.”

Turning to promoting, Francis stated that protecting is not enough, and said that “what is required” is the promotion of an integral human development of migrants, exiles and refugees.

And for integration, he clarified this refers  neither assimilation nor incorporation, “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.”

“I believe that conjugating these four verbs, in the first person singular and in the first person plural,” Francis stated, “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 namely of three types, he explained, of justice, civility and solidarity.

Pope Francis concluded, stating his hope that these two days will bear abundant fruit, assuring them of his prayers, and reminding them to pray for him.

* * *

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full Text: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-address-to-international-forum-on-migration-and-peace/

2 days 3 hours

Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and dean of theology at the Regina Apostolorum university.

***

Q: Why is the Catholic Church a sacrament? – A.A., Wiaga, Ghana

A: This is quite a challenge and almost requires a treatise. However, I will try to be succinct.

When speaking of this theme, most people refer to the Second Vatican Council. The council’s document on liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium states in No. 5:

“This work of human redemption and perfect glorification of God, foreshadowed by the wonders which God performed among the people of the Old Testament, Christ the Lord completed principally in the paschal mystery of his blessed passion, resurrection from the dead, and glorious ascension, whereby ‘dying, he destroyed our death and rising, restored our life.’ For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth the wondrous sacrament of the whole Church.”

In Lumen Gentium, the council’s dogmatic constitution on the Church, this idea is reinforced in No. 9:

“All those, who in faith look toward Jesus, the author of salvation and the source of unity and peace, God has gathered together and established as the church, that it may be for each and everyone the visible sacrament of saving unity. In order to extend to all regions of the earth, it enters into human history, though it transcends at once all time and all boundaries between peoples.”

Later, in No. 48, the Church is explicitly referred to as the “universal sacrament of salvation.”

It would be an error, however, to think that the idea of the Church as sacrament came out of the blue in the early 1960s. Sacred Scripture describes the mystery (sometimes practically synonymous with the Latin word sacramentum, or sacrament) of the Church saying that “you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst” (1 Corinthians 3:16); and that God’s presence is manifested in the Church (Luke 12:32; Mark 4:26-29). The mystery of Christ’s body (1 Corinthians 12:1ff) is made manifest through visible images such as flock, vine, building, temple, spouse.

The Church Fathers also describe this reality with significant expressions. The Didache (written between A.D. 90 and 120) speaks of the “cosmic mystery of the Church.” St. Cyprian (died 258) calls the Church “great mystery of salvation,” and St Augustine (354-430) refers to her as the “wondrous sacrament born from Christ’s side,” as quoted above in Sacrosanctum Concilium, No. 5.

In the liturgy we find several examples. One prayer, attributed by some to Pope St. Leo the Great (390-461) and found in the Gelasian manuscript from 750, calls the Church the wonderful sacrament through which the work of redemption is continued and the restored world returns to its first destiny. In other words the Church, as a new creation of Christ, must be the sacrament that guides the world back toward God’s original plan.

With the advent of scholastic theology the concept of the Church as sacrament was obscured for a time, although the idea was gradually recuperated in the 19th and 20th centuries. The topic was widely treated in the decades before Vatican II by several major theologians.

The Catechism, which in a way sums up the earlier reflections, deals with the concept in several texts but especially in Nos. 774-776 regarding the Church as the universal sacrament of salvation:

“774. The Greek word mysterion was translated into Latin by two terms: mysterium and sacramentum. In later usage the term sacramentum emphasizes the visible sign of the hidden reality of salvation which was indicated by the term mysterium. In this sense, Christ himself is the mystery of salvation: ‘For there is no other mystery of God, except Christ.’ The saving work of his holy and sanctifying humanity is the sacrament of salvation, which is revealed and active in the Church’s sacraments (which the Eastern Churches also call ‘the holy mysteries’). The seven sacraments are the signs and instruments by which the Holy Spirit spreads the grace of Christ the head throughout the Church which is his Body. The Church, then, both contains and communicates the invisible grace she signifies. It is in this analogical sense, that the Church is called a ‘sacrament.’

“775. ‘The Church, in Christ, is like a sacrament — a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all men.’ The Church’s first purpose is to be the sacrament of the inner union of men with God. Because men’s communion with one another is rooted in that union with God, the Church is also the sacrament of the unity of the human race. In her, this unity is already begun, since she gathers men ‘from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues’; at the same time, the Church is the ‘sign and instrument’ of the full realization of the unity yet to come.

“776. As sacrament, the Church is Christ’s instrument. ‘She is taken up by him also as the instrument for the salvation of all,’ ‘the universal sacrament of salvation,’ by which Christ is ‘at once manifesting and actualizing the mystery of God’s love for men.’ The Church ‘is the visible plan of God’s love for humanity,’ because God desires ‘that the whole human race may become one People of God, form one Body of Christ, and be built up into one temple of the Holy Spirit.'”

Therefore, as the Catechism says, the concept of the Church as sacrament is analogous, and does not mean that it is an eighth sacrament.

Seeing the Church as a sacrament helps us to have a clearer grasp of the seven sacraments within the framework of the Church itself. We can perceive more clearly how the effects of sacramental participation go beyond the individual’s relationship with God and increase the sanctity of the entire body.

This concept also clarifies such classic dictums as “The Church makes the Eucharist and the Eucharist makes the Church.” The Eucharist, and in a way the Church’s entire sacramental and liturgical life, engage in a continual interaction. Christ’s fundamental saving action reaches the individual through the Church and her sacraments, and at the same time the individual’s positive embrace of this saving action sanctifies and builds up the Church.

The spirituality that can derive from assimilating this fundamental communion in Christ shared by all members of the Church and — since the Church is also sacrament for the world — with each and every human being, can lead us to understand that every good action we perform, and also our less positive actions, have effects that are way beyond our immediate circle and not only extend from “the rising of the sun to its setting” but can reach heaven itself through the communion of saints.

* * *

Readers may send questions to zenit.liturgy@gmail.com. Please put the word “Liturgy” in the subject field. The text should include your initials, your city and your state, province or country. Father McNamara can only answer a small selection of the great number of questions that arrive.

2 days 4 hours

Below is a Vatican-provided translation of Pope Francis’ address to participants of an International Forum on Migration and Peace taking place in Rome, whom he received in the Vatican this morning.

Organized by the new Vatican Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development in collaboration with the Scalabrini International Migration Network, the two-day international forum aims to stimulate 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:

* * *

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 humaneprogrammes 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 justice, 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.

[Original text: Italian] [Vatican-provided translation]
2 days 4 hours

Pope Francis received in the Vatican, yesterday, Feb. 20, for almost three hours, the bishops of Chile, who are in Rome on their ad Limina visit.

Monsignor Fernando Ramos, Auxiliary Bishop of Santiago and Secretary of the Episcopal Conference, told ZENIT minutes after the audience: “We had a meeting with the Holy Father, and talked for almost three hours with him.”

It was, he added, “a very lovely experience of ecclesial communion, with a Pope who listened to us and encouraged us in our mission, in a spirit of dialogue, of mutual understanding, of stimulation to evangelization and to the mission of the Church and I believe we all came out very happy.”

Asked about the Pontiff’s particular concerns regarding pastoral care in Chile, Monsignor Ramos said that they “are in the line of how to improve evangelization, ecclesial communion, foster better service to the most neglected persons of society, a  subject that is in the Holy Father’s heart and that, in this line, the Church in Chile has a very long itinerary.”

In regard to a visit of the Pope to the Andean country, the Secretary of the Episcopal Conference said “we spoke a bit about it, the Pope would like it, but many things have to be conciliated; there was nothing concrete or definitive.”

Monsignor Ramos concluded saying that “the Pope received many expressions of affection from the dioceses, which were transmitted by the Bishops and at the end we finished with a moment of prayer and a blessing for all of us.”

List of the Bishops on ad Limina Visit, given by the Holy See Press Office

H.E. Monsignor Guillermo Patricio Vera Soto, Bishop of Iquique;

H.E. Monsignor Oscar Hernan Blanco Martinez, O.M.D., Bishop of San Juan Bautista de Calama;

H.E. Monsignor Moises Carlos Atisha Contreras, Bishop of San Marcos de Arica;

H.E. Monsignor Fernando Natalio Chomali Garib, Metropolitan Archbishop  of Concepcion;

H.E. Monsignor Carlos Eduardo Pellegrin Barrera, S.V.D., Bishop of Chillan;

H.E. Monsignor Pedro Felipe Bacarreza Rodriguez, Bishop of Santa Marta de los Angeles;

H.E. Monsignor Hector Eduardo Vargas Bastidas, S.D.B., Bishop of Temuco;

H.E. Monsignor Ignacio Francisco Decasse Medina, Bishop of Valdivia;

H.E. Monsignor Francisco Javier Stegmeier Schmidlin, Bishop of Villarica;

H.E. Monsignor Rene Osvaldo Rebolledo Salinas, Archbishop of La Serena;

H.E. Monsignor Celestino Aos Braco, O.F.M. Cap., Bishop of Copiapo;

H.E. Monsignor Jorge Patricio Vega Velasco, S.V.D., Prelate of Illapel;

H.E. Monsignor Cristian Caro Cordero, Archbishop of Puerto Montt;

H.E. Monsignor Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid, Bishop of Osorno;

H.E. Monsignor Bernardo Miguel Bastres Florence, S.D.B., Bishop of Punta Arenas;

H.E. Monsignor Juan Maria Agurto Munoz, O.S.M., Bishop of San Carlos de Ancud;

H.E. Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, S.D.B., Archbishop of Santiago de Chile

Auxiliary Bishops:

H.E. Monsignor Luis Fernando Ramos Perez, Titular Bishop of Tetci;

H.E. Monsignor Pedro Mario Ossandon Buljevic, Titular Bishop of La Imperial;

H.E. Monsignor Galo Fernandez Villaseca, Titular Bishop of Simingi;

H.E. Monsignor Jorge Enrique Concha Cayuqueo, O.F.M., Titular Bishop of Carpi;

H.E. Monsignor Tomislav Koljatic Maroevic, Bishop of Linares;

H.E. Monsingor Cristian Contreras Villarroel, Bishop of Melipilla;

H.E. Monsignor Alejandro Goic Karmelic, Bishop of Rancagua;

H.E. Monsignor Juan Ignacio Gonzalez Errazuriz, Bishop of San Bernardo;

H.E. Monsignor Cristian Enrique Contreras Molina, O. of M., Bishop of San Felipe;

H.E. Monsignor Horacio del Carmen Valenzuela Abarca, Bishop of Talca;

H.E. Monsignor Gonzalo Duarte Garcia de Cortazar, SS.CC., Bishop of Valparaiso;

H.E. Monsignor Santiago Jaime Silva Retamales, Military Ordinary;

H.E. Monsignor Luigi Infanti Della Mora, O.S.M., Titular Bishop of Cartenna, Apostolic Vicar of Aysen.

2 days 6 hours

Below is a Zenit working translation of Pope Francis’ chat with children and other groups during his visit to a parish on the outskirts of the city of Rome, the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 19, the second of this type since the end of the Jubilee of Mercy, and the 13th visit of this nature. The parish of Saint Mary Josephine of the Heart of Jesus in Castelverde di Lunghezza, is six kilometers east of the circular highway around Rome:

***

Meeting with Children

The Parish Priest: Alessandro is a very intelligent boy. A few Sundays ago, in connection with the calling of the Apostles, I said: “If Jesus comes today and calls you, who is ready to go?” And several raised their hand, he among them. Alessandro, His Holiness Pope Francis is here, the Vicar of Christ, and you can ask him whatever you want.

Alessandro: Why did you become Pope?

Pope Francis: Because there are “culpable ones.” One of the culpable ones is this one [he indicates Cardinal Vallini]. [The children laugh]. Because, do you know how a Pope is made? Look, I’ll explain it to you. Do you know how a Pope is made? [”No!] Does one pay to become a Pope?” [“No!”] But if one pays a lot, a lot, a lot at the end they make him Pope? [“No!”] No. Is the Pope made by drawing lots? [“No!”] No. It’s not done by drawing lots. And how is it done? Who are the ones that elect the Pope? Think well: who are they? [“The Cardinals”] The cardinals. And Don Agostino [Vallini] is a Cardinal; he is the Vicar of Rome, and he was among those 115 who were gathered to elect the Pope. Understood? And they gather, talk among themselves, think … “Oh, but we think of this one, and that one, and this one has this advantage, this is another advantage …” and they reason … but above all, and this is the most important thing, they pray. Understood? These people who are cloistered, that is, they can’t talk there with people from the outside, they are as isolated, from Saint Martha’s House they go to the Sistine Chapel to elect the Pope. Speaking among themselves about what the Church needs today, and for this a personality is better with this profile, or that <profile> …; all human reasoning. And the Lord sends the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit helps in the election. Then, each one gives his vote and the ballots are counted and the one who has two-thirds of the number is elected Pope. As you see, it’s a process done with much prayer. It’s not paid for; there aren’t any powerful friends who push one, no, no. Therefore, who makes the Pope?  … No, I’ll ask the question thus: who is the most important person in that group that makes the Pope?  Think well! Who is it? [Someone says: “The Pope”]. No, the Pope is not made yet. [Some say: “God”] <It is> God, the Holy Spirit, who makes the Pope through the vote. Then, the one who is elected, perhaps is not the most intelligent, perhaps he’s not the cleverest, perhaps he’s not the hastiest in doing things, but he is the one that God wants for that moment of the Church. Understood? [“Yes!”]. And I’ll ask you a question, but think well. In the election  — you asked the first question, Alessandro, where they made me Pope, we were 115. I ask you the question: who was the most intelligent of these 115? [“You!”] No! [Some: “All!”] No. The most, the most … [“God”]. God is the 116th … we don’t know, but the one who is elected is not necessarily the most intelligent. Understood? There are those who are more intelligent than him, but God chose that one. And as with all things in life, time passes, the Pope must die like everyone, or retire, as the great Pope Benedict did, because he didn’t have good health, and another will come, who will be different, he will be different, perhaps he will be more intelligent or less intelligent, we don’t know. But this other one will arrive in the same way: elected by the group of Cardinals under the light of the Holy Spirit. Have you understood? Tell me, Alessandro, are you happy with the answer? Is it true? Have I made a mistake? I haven’t said a lie? Thank you.

The Parish Priest: Flavio, of the Confirmation group. Where is he? We’ll go one by one.

Flavio: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Pope Francis: I’ll tell you, but what’s your name?

Flavio: Flavio.

Pope Francis: I’ll tell you, but don’t laugh! I’m not joking. I tell the truth. I wanted to be  a butcher. Truly! Because when I went to the market with my grandmother, I saw how the butcher cut the pieces of meat: “How clever this man was!” and I liked him. “When I grow up I’ll be a butcher,” I said to myself.

Flavio: And … can I take a photo of you?

Pope Francis: Yes! And you, tell me, what do you want to do when you grow up?

Flavio: A footballer.

Pope Francis: A footballer! Have you seen him play football? [“Yes!”] Does he do it well or not? [“He’s good”] And what place do you have?

Flavio: Centerfield.  

Pope Francis: Centerfield, that’s good …

The Parish Priest: Introduce yourself, say you name.

Cristian: My name is Cristian. What did you do to become Pope?

The Parish Priest: Again?

Cristian: Well, it’s my question!

The Parish Priest: This was your question? He answered you earlier … ask another …

Pope Francis: Ask me another. Think, think. Think calmly; you think of another here  and …

The Parish Priest: Ask a question, whatever you want?

Pope Francis: What’s your name?

Agostino: Agostino.

Pope Francis: Agostino, like the Vicar of Rome.

Agostino: But to become Pope, did you have to do well at school?

Pope Francis: To become Pope you must be, first of all, a good Christian. Normally one becomes a priest first, then a Bishop. However, in the early times of the Church, not all the Popes were necessarily Priests: some were deacons. But one must be a good Christian. And the community singled them out at that time. There were so many Christian people that knew this or that and pointed him out; some were priests, some deacons. But then, with time, the election system was thoroughly systematized and now only Cardinals elect the Pope — the cardinals under the age of 80.

A child: What was the most difficult point of your life?

Pope Francis: What was it …?

The child:  … the most difficult point of your life?

Pope Francis: Yes, there were some difficult moments. I had some difficult times with my health. When I was 20, I almost died of an infection; they removed part of a lung … but the Lord led me forward. And then, the difficult moments we all have, all of us, in life. Be attentive to this! Life is a gift of God, but in life there are awful moments, there are difficult moments that one must overcome and go forward.  I had so many, as all people do. But I remember this sickness at 20, and I had other difficult ones. But I’ll say this: life was not easy for me. I ask you: for all, for people, is life easy in general? [“No’]. Are there difficulties in life? [“Yes”] Always! There are and there will be. But one must not get scared. Difficulties are overcome; one goes forward, with faith, with strength, with courage! But are you not courageous … Are you or not? …

The child: In certain moments …

Pope Francis: Are you or are you not courageous? [“Yes”] Are you good? [“Yes and no”] Or are you all fearful? [“No”]. Are you courageous? [“Yes”] Good, forward! Thank you!

The child: <Thank you> to you. Can I take a photo of you?

Pope Francis: Yes. Now we pass to the second time: the time of the little girls. We’ll see who wins, ah?

Giulia: How do you feel being the representative of the Catholic Church?

Pope Francis: One feels the great responsibility. You said the word “representative,” and one who “represents” the Church can’t make a bad impression. Can the Pope make a bad impression?  [“No”] No, he can’t. He must be careful not to give a bad impression. But yet another thing is felt. The Pope is the bishop … Is the Pope a bishop or not?

Giulia: Yes.

Pope Francis: Of Rome, the Pope is the Bishop of Rome, but he has the pastoral care of the whole Church of the world with the other Bishops. But what is the Pope’s diocese? [Someone says: “Saint John”] Saint John is the Cathedral … and the diocese is …

Giulia: Saint Peter.

Pope Francis: Rome, agreed. And the Pope is also bishop and father and what the Pope must feel is that he is a Father; if the Pope or the Bishop doesn’t feel he is a Father, something is missing. It’s this.

The Parish Priest: Well, children, that’s enough questions.

Children: No!

Pope Francis: Now I’ll ask them …

The Parish Priest: Now, children, absolute silence, because the Pope wants to ask you a question. So you must pay attention.

Pope Francis: I’ll ask question and you all answer. How many “Gods” are there? [“One”]. But … I know three! [“The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit”]. Father, Son and Holy Spirit: one and two and three. They are three. What do you answer to this? Who can answer? [Someone says: They are three”] Are there three Gods or one?  [Someone says: [There is only one divided in three parts”] — in three parts? No, God is one [“He is only one but who represents more things”]. It doesn’t work … How many “Gods are there? [“Three”]. Three “Gods” or one? [“One”]. But if there is one … I ask you this question: Is the Father God? [“Yes”] Is the Son God? [Yes … No …”]. So, He’s not God? [Yes, He is God”] Is the Holy Spirit God? [“Yes”]. They are three, but this is something that’s not easy to understand: they are three Persons, have you understood this? They are three Persons, but the three Persons make only one God. Agreed? [“Yes”]. Aren’t you convinced? So, what three things are they? Three [“Persons”] and one [“God”]. Three … [“Persons”] and one [“God”]. And is Our Lady God? [“No’] What is Our Lady? [“The Mother …”]. The Mother of God. Why is she the Mother of God? Because she is the one who brought Jesus to the world. Agreed? [“Yes”]. Yes. And Joseph truly helped Our Lady. Is the Father God? Yes. Is the Son God? Yes. Is the Holy Spirit God? Yes. Three Persons, agreed? How many Persons? [“Three”]. How many “Gods”? [“One”]. Is Our Lady God? [“No”]. Our Lady is …? The Mother of God.. This is clear. Never forget this.  All right.

The Parish Priest:  Thank you so much, Holiness. Children, we stand up and now the Holy Father will have us pray in silence, as we usually do in church.

Pope Francis: Silence, eyes closed. We think of Our Lady and we pray to Our Lady, who is the Mother of God and our Mother. – All together. Hail Mary …

May Almighty God bless you …

And pray for me, agreed? [“Yes!”] Are you sure? [“Yes!”] Thank you!

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

Meeting with Families Helped by the Parish Caritas, Together with the Workers  

Pope Francis: Thank you of what you do. Your work is to approach persons that have some need, and also not just to give something, but to listen: the “apostolate of the ear.” Sometimes, one can think: “But this can be somewhat trying, how trying it is  … to listen to so much grief.

A man: Holy Father, the Almonry sends so much of your help.

A woman: … it’s a parish that is in so much, so much need!

Pope Francis: Go forward! … but don’t quarrel among yourselves! Think of this: when a person comes to ask for help, a lady, a man or anyone, that person is Jesus. Because Jesus also had to ask for help when he was a refugee in Egypt. It is Jesus who is in need in this person. “But this is a person who speaks badly, who doesn’t go to Church, who doesn’t believe in God …” But she is Jesus; she is Jesus. It’s your prayer that widens the heart and faith: it is Jesus, He is with me; Jesus is with me today. And I give this packet to Jesus. And I give this smile to Jesus. This is your path of sanctity. If you do this, you will become saints — all of you. It’s simple. But don’t forget: it’s Jesus who knocks at the door. I give you the blessing but first of all let us pray to Our Lady, so that she will intercede for all of us and for you. Hail Mary ….

[Blessing]

And remember: every person that comes is Jesus. Is that good person Jesus? Yes. Is that person who isn’t so good Jesus? For me, he is Jesus. I must receive him as Jesus. Is that woman who has a serpent’s tongue Jesus? Yes. And, with my tenderness and my love, I must have her tongue “detoxified” and not speak badly. However, it’s always tenderness, love because every person who is in need is Jesus who knocks at the door of my heart. And pray for me: I also knock at the door of your heart and ask for prayer. I don’t ask for a packet, but I ask for prayer, a Rosary … Thank you!

[Original text: Italian]   [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

Final Greeting

Thank you so much for being here to pray together, to pray for the whole neighborhood, for the parish. I greet you all, Catholic faithful and also the Muslims, and I ask the Lord to bless you all. I also greet all those who wished to come but for whom it wasn’t possible: my blessing and my greeting also for them. And now, a minute in prayer and I’ll give you the blessing. Let us pray together to Our Lady: Hail Mary …

[Blessing]

And please, pray for me. Good-bye!

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]
2 days 8 hours

Much has been simplified about capitalism and the market; growth cannot be cut off, but integral development is much broader. There is an ample Christian and Catholic tradition in the thought of what the market value is. In regard to the financial abuses of the last ten years, all is being questioned, said Professor Domingo Sugranyes Bickel, President of the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation, questioned by ZENIT in a conversation apart from the presentation of the 3rd “Economy and Society” International Prize, presented in the Holy See Press Office on February 15, 2017.

The winner of the International Prize was German Markus Vogt for his work Prinzip Nachhaltigkeit. Ein Entwurf aus theologisch-ethischer Perspektive. Speaking at the press conference was Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Archbishop of Munich-Freising and the foundation’s President.

“The winner of the Prize has the same vision of Laudato Si’, although he develops it more from the scientific aspect. Basically, a sustainable economy must be a growing economy. However, there must also be an institutional and cultural context of the economic agents so that the effects are favorable for the majority, and this calls for new formulas in each period,” specified Sugranyes.

Asked about the market economy and capitalism, if these are to be condemned or <just> their abuses, The Foundation’s President said: “I think so, the terms would have to be defined. The market economy pre-existed capitalism, he added, recalling that there “is an ample Christian and Catholic tradition on the thought of the value of the market. In regard to capitalism, if it refers to the abuses of the last ten years, well, this is being questioned.”

Responding to ZENIT if there are too many journalistic simplifications on the subject, Sugranyes answered: I believe so; the machine of growth cannot be cut off. It’s another thing to say, as Pope Francis says, that growth doesn’t resolve everything, because integral development is something much broader.”

2 days 9 hours

Two inspiring books from Ignatius Press, each by a Carmelite priest and expert on the spiritual life, are available just in time for the Lenten and Easter seasons: The Way of Prayer: A Commentary on Saint Teresa’s Way of Perfection and The Holy Spirit, Fire of Divine Love.

The Way of Prayer, an acclaimed commentary on Saint Teresa of Avila’s classic work, Way of Perfection, discusses the various forms of Christian prayer, with an emphasis on Teresa’s meditation on the Our Father. The author, Father Gabriel of St. Mary Magdalen, O.C.D. (1893–1953), was a Carmelite priest, a revered master of Carmelite spirituality, and an expert in the spiritual and mystical doctrine of Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross.

Teresa of Avila reformed the Carmelite order in the sixteenth century. Seeing Teresa in deep prayer, her first companions asked her to teach them how to pray. The apostles made the same request of Jesus: “Teach us to pray.” Jesus answered by teaching the Our Father. Teresa responded to her sisters by writing Way of Perfection, which contains an extended commentary upon the Lord’s Prayer. 

As Jesus did in his Sermon on the Mount, Teresa, in her Way of Perfection, first teaches the necessary dispositions for prayer before teaching the different kinds of prayer. Named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Paul VI in 1970, Teresa united not only prayer and the apostolate, but contemplation and the apostolate, for contemplation is a particular kind of prayer that tends toward the most sublime intimacy with our Lord. 

This book, The Way of Prayer, provides profound commentaries, just in time for the Lenten season, of Saint Teresa’s classic teachings on prayer. It also includes many quotations from Saint Teresa and Saint John of the Cross, which have been conformed to the most current authorized translations.                       

Father Joseph Koterski, S.J., Professor of Philosophy, at Fordham University, comments, “Father Gabriel’s book beautifully explains the way of Saint Teresa in showing us how to pray. He uses the experience of his monastic community to provide a reliable guide for all Christians to draw closer to God by contemplative prayer.”

In The Holy Spirit, Fire of Divine Love, acclaimed spiritual writer Father Wilfrid Stinissen, O.C.D. (1927-2013) presents insightful reflections on the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Holy Trinity, emphasizing the importance of the Spirit in the life of a Christian. This is a timely message as Christians prepare for Lent, leading into the Easter season and Pentecost.

He illustrates that the Holy Spirit desires to live in us so that we can love God and others with God’s own love. As the Holy Spirit descended upon the early Church at Pentecost to set the world ablaze with the fire of divine love, so He wants to do with us. 

God, who is One, also desires the Church to be one, Father Stinissen writes. The Lord wants to unify all Christians in one holy Church, and all people in one body. The Holy Spirit is the great unifier, he says, for it is he who makes the Father and the Son one God. If Christians let him live within them, they will grow in unity.

Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers, the author of Behold the Man, explains, “Fr. Stinissen masterfully illustrates how the Holy Spirit helps us with discerning and following God’s will, constructs bridges of reconciliation, and builds up the Body of Christ. His powerful reflections invite the reader to experience deeper intimacy with the Lord.”

“From  the  theoretical  to  the  practical, from  Scripture  and  Sacred  Tradition to the lives of the saints, this book comes as close as possible  to explaining the Holy Spirit in all his mystery and ministries,” says Steven Ray, author of  Crossing the Tiber.

Vinny Flynn, author of 7 Secrets of Divine Mercy, says “Fr. Stinissen’s writing is profound enough for theologians, yet accessible enough for anyone seeking a fuller and more meaningful life. This is an important, inspiring, and timely book.”

Father Wilfred Stinissen was born in Antwerp, Belgium, where he entered the Carmelite Order in 1944. He was sent to Sweden in 1967 to co-found a small contemplative community. His many books on the spiritual life have been translated into multiple languages. Among his works available in English are Into Your Hands, FatherNourished by the Word: Reading the Bible Contemplatively; and The Gift of Spiritual Direction.

2 days 10 hours

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(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)... 3 hours 21 min
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday received a group of Rabbis led by Rabbi Abraham Skorka – the Holy Father’s long-time friend from his native Argentina – on the occasion of their presentation to him of a new edition of the Torah. Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis’ remarks, in their official English translation... ************************ Greeting of His Holiness Pope Francis to a Delegation of Jewish Leaders for the Presentation of a New Edition of the Torah 23 February 2017 Dear Friends, I offer a warm welcome to all of you, who have come to present me with a new and precious edition of the Torah.  I thank Rabbi Abraham Skorka, brother and friend, for his kind words, and I am very grateful to all of you for this thoughtful gesture, which brings us together today around the Torah as the Lord’s gift, his revelation, his word. The Torah, which Saint John Paul II called “the living teaching of the living God” ( Address for the Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Declaration “Nostra Aetate” , 6 December 1990, 3), 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.  God is the greatest and most faithful covenantal partner.  He called Abraham in order to form from him a people who would become a blessing for all peoples of the earth.  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.  This publication is itself the fruit of a “covenant” between persons of different nationalities, ages and religious confessions, who joined in this common effort. The fraternal and institutional dialogue between Jews and Christians is now well-established and effective, made so by encounters that are ongoing and collaborative.  The gift that you are making to me today is fully a part of this dialogue, which finds expression not only in words but also in gestures.  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.  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.      Every edition of sacred Scripture, however, possesses a spiritual value that infinitely surpasses its material value.  I ask God to bless all those who contributed to this work and, in a particular way, to bless all of you, to whom I renew my personal gratitude. Thank you. (from Vatican Radio)... 4 hours 6 min
(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)... 4 hours 14 min
(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)... 4 hours 36 min
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis held an audience on Wednesday for the Italian family members of those who died in the Dhaka massacre in Bangladesh on 1 July 2016. The terror attack in Dhaka took place on the Holey Artisan Bakery in the diplomatic district of the capital and claimed the lives of 29 people, nine of whom were Italian. Bishop Valentino di Cerbo of Alife-Caiazzo in Italy accompanied the group of around 30 people who met Pope Francis ahead of his Wednesday General Audience . Those present included family members of Marco Tondat, Christian Rossi, Maria Riboli, Vincenzo D’Allestro, Claudio Cappelli, and Simona Monti, who were killed in the terror attack. Maria Gaudio, the wife of Vincenzo D’Allestro, afterwards said: “Pope Francis thanked us for our witness of love and he said we were an example also for him.” (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 1 min
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday recalled this year marks the centenary of the apparitions at Fatima. Speaking to German pilgrims during his General Audience , the Holy Father said “let us entrust ourselves to Mary, Mother of hope, who invites us to turn our gaze towards salvation, towards a new world and a new humanity. God bless you all.” On May 13, 1917, Lúcia Santos and her cousins Bl. Jacinta and Bl. Francisco Marto began seeing apparitions of Our Lady, which continued  for months. Last December, the Vatican confirmed Pope Francis will go on pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima from 12-13 May of this year. (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 2 hours
(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)... 1 day 2 hours
(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)... 1 day 3 hours
(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. FRANCISCUS PP. (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 3 hours
(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)... 1 day 5 hours
(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 Mr. President, 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)... 1 day 5 hours
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis at his Wednesday General Audience continued his catechesis on Christian hope, reflecting on St. Paul's words in the Letter to the Romans: "In hope we were saved" (8:24). Please find below the official English summary of the Pope's words: Dear Brothers and Sisters:  Rather than being something we possess and use for own pleasure, Saint Paul reminds us that creation is God’s gift, which reveals to us his loving plan.  But when we are self-centred and commit sin, we break our communion with God, and the original beauty of human nature and creation is marred.  Thus, rather than show God’s infinite love, creation bears the wounds of human pride.  The Lord, however, does not abandon us, but offers us a new horizon of freedom and salvation.  Saint Paul reminds us of this truth, by inviting us to hear the groaning of all people and things, and even the groaning of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.  These groans are not sterile, but speak of the pangs of birth, the ushering in of new life.  Despite the many signs of our sins and failings, 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, a new creation.  We know that Jesus wants to heal us and creation once and for all, and reconcile us in his love.  Let us see ourselves and the world with Christ’s eyes.  And when we are discouraged or tempted to despair, let us remember that the Holy Spirit comes to our aid, to keep alive our cries to God, and to reveal new heavens and a new earth which he is preparing for us. (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 6 hours
(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)... 2 days 3 hours
(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.  ___________________________________________________________________________________________ [1] Messaggio per la 100a Giornata Mondiale del Migrante e del Rifugiato, 5 agosto 2013. [1] Discorso al Corpo diplomatico accreditato presso la Santa Sede, 12 gennaio 2015. [1] Cfr Benedetto XVI, Messaggio per la 92a Giornata Mondiale del Migrante e del Rifugiato, 18 ottobre 2005. [1] Lett. ap. in forma di Motu proprio Humanam progressionem, 17 agosto 2016. [1] Cfr Pontificio Consiglio della Giustizia e della Pace, Compendio della Dottrina Sociale della Chiesa, 373-374. [1] Cfr Benedetto XVI, Messaggio per la 99a Giornata Mondiale del Migrante e del Rifugiato, 12 ottobre 2012. [1] Cfr Giovanni Paolo II, Messaggio per la Giornata Mondiale delle Migrazioni, 15 agosto 1986. [1] Cfr Giovanni Paolo II, Messaggio per la Giornata Mondiale delle Migrazioni, 5 agosto 1987. [1] Messaggio per la 47ª Giornata Mondiale della Pace, 8 dicembre 2013, 9. [1] Cfr Pontificio Consiglio della Giustizia e della Pace, Compendio della Dottrina Sociale della Chiesa, 9;163;189;406. [1] Lett. enc. Laudato si’, 196. [1] Benedetto XVI, Lett. enc. Caritas in veritate, 33. [1] Ibid., 62. [1] Giovanni Paolo II, Messaggio per la Giornata Mondiale delle Migrazioni, 25 luglio 1995, 2. [1] Messaggio per 47ª Giornata Mondiale della Pace, 8 dicembre 2013, 1. [1] Cfr Benedetto XVI, Discorso ai partecipanti al convegno inter-accademico “L’identità mutevole dell'individuo”, 28 gennaio 2008. [1] Omelia al Campo sportivo “Arena” in Località Salina, 8 luglio 2013. [1] Messaggio per la 100a Giornata Mondiale del Migrante e del Rifugiato. [1] Messaggio per la 103a Giornata Mondiale del Migrante e del Rifugiato, 8 settembre 2016. (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 4 hours
(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)... 2 days 4 hours

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

From: Reliable world news and analysis from a Catholic perspective.
Posted

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volkolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, met on February 21 with representative from 11 Arab states.

8 hours 48 min

Human Life Action, which works closely with the US bishops on pro-life legislation, has called upon pro-life Americans to urge their senators to rescind a Title X funding rule that went into effect two days before President Barack Obama left office.

9 hours 11 min

Twenty bishops from Texas and northern Mexico met at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle in San Juan, Texas, and issued a 19-point statement on immigration.

9 hours 24 min

Argentine Rabbi Abraham Skorka presented Pope Francis with a new edition of the Torah, or first five books of the Old Testament.

9 hours 42 min

Participants in the First US Regional Meeting of Popular Movements issued a “message from Modesto” following a four-day meeting in the California city.

10 hours 4 min

A palliative care specialist, writing on the front page of L’Osservatore Romano’s February 23 edition, cautioned readers against drafting advance directives for end-of-life care.

10 hours 51 min

The Vatican’s UN envoy has urged that “all necessary steps should be taken to enforce the ceasefire in Ukraine.”

22 hours 41 min

Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, the author of a new book interpreting Amoris Laetitia, insists that there should be no confusion about the message of the papal document.

23 hours 28 min

A flood of immigrants can pose dangers to society, and a surge in Islamic immigration raises special concerns, two prelates from Slovakia and the Czech Republic said at a conference on religion and migration.

23 hours 37 min

Cardinal Joseph Zen voiced his fears that the Vatican is “going to make a very bad agreement with China,” in an interview with LifeSite News.

1 day 40 min

The Rony Roller circus gave a short performance in St. Peter’s Square at the conclusion of the regular weekly general audience of Pope Francis on February 22.

1 day 46 min

The superior general of the Society of Jesus has said that all Church doctrine must be subject to discernment.

1 day 48 min

The office of the Vatican’s Secretary of State has issued a statement warning against the misuse of the Pope’s image.

1 day 9 hours

Continuing his weekly series of catechetical addresses on Christian hope, Pope Francis devoted his February 15 general audience to a text from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (Rom. 8:19-27).

1 day 9 hours

Pamphlets that are being circulated in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, are calling for the destruction of Catholic churches, religious communities, and schools.

1 day 11 hours

In an address to the US Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements, Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego called for disruption.

1 day 11 hours

The Egyptian government is planning to build a road through land belonging to the Monastery of St. Macarius the Great.

1 day 12 hours

An estimated 100,000 people in South Sudan are on the verge of starvation, and some 4.9 million are in urgent need to assistance, according to international relief agencies.

1 day 12 hours

The head of the Iraqi-based Chaldean Catholic Church, an Eastern Catholic church in full communion with the Holy See, has called upon the faithful to offer their Lenten prayer and fasting for peace.

1 day 12 hours

As Ghana prepares to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of its independence, the nation’s bishops have announced that they will reconsecrate the nation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

1 day 13 hours

Hundreds of migrants are pouring into Guatemala, evidently hoping eventually to reach the US, the Fides news service reports.

2 days 4 hours

A South African bishop has condemned a rash of violence against foreigners in that country, and warned that a scheduled public demonstration against immigrants is “cause for serious concern.”

2 days 4 hours

Cardinal Desmond Connell, the retired Archbishop of Dublin, died on February 20 at the age of 90, after a lengthy illness.

2 days 4 hours

An Australian bishop has revealed that he himself was a victim of sexual abuse.

2 days 4 hours

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, travels to Egypt this week to join in a conference at the Al Azhar University on combatting religious extremism.

2 days 4 hours

In an address on migration, Pope Francis discussed how the political community, civil society, and the Church ought to react to the phenomenon of mass migration, especially forced migration.

2 days 9 hours

In an address to the US Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements, Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark lamented the “dark clouds gathering” around the United States.

2 days 12 hours

The German Bishops’ Conference has announced that Catholics and Lutherans will take part in a major ecumenical festival on September 16 as the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation begins to draw to a close.

2 days 12 hours

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, has written a letter paying tribute to his predecessor, Cardinal Josyf Slipyj (1892-1984), on the 125th anniversary of his birth.

2 days 12 hours

Stating that “I am not against refugees, since I was one myself,” a Chaldean Catholic bishop who ministers in California defended President Donald Trump’s temporary ban on travel from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

2 days 12 hours

Bishop Félicien Mwanama Galumbulula of Luiza recently spoke with the Fides news agency about the “unimaginable atrocities against peaceful citizens” in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Central Kasai province.

2 days 13 hours

During his February 19 visit to a parish in suburban Rome, Pope Francis answered questions from children and spoke with Caritas assistants.

2 days 13 hours

Archbishop Michael Miller of Vancouver has called attention to “lethal crisis of drug overdoses,” urging Catholic pastors to respond to the problem.

2 days 23 hours

A prominent French priest and Vatican consultant is being investigated on sex-abuse charges by a Church tribunal, the French daily La Croix reports.

2 days 23 hours

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

From: The site of the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
Posted

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Ash Wednesday seems to offer contradictory messages. The Gospel reading for the day is about not doing public acts of piety but the very act of getting ashes — and walking around with them — is pretty public.

This becomes even less of a private moment when people post pictures of themselves online with their ashes following the #ashtag trend of recent years.

The online posting of one’s ashes, often marked in the form of a cross on the forehead, thrills some people and disappoints others. Some say it diminishes the significance and penitent symbol of the ashes with their somber reminder that humans are made from dust and one day will return to dust.

Others say that sharing the Ash Wednesday experience with the broader, virtual public makes it more communal and also is a way to evangelize. Those who aren’t on either side of the argument say it all comes down to why it’s done, if the ashes selfies are posted for personal attention or to highlight the day’s message.

A few years ago when this trend was just getting started, Jesuit Father James Martin, now editor-at-large at the Catholic weekly magazine America, said only the person posting knows if it is being done for the right reasons. “As with most things in life, you need a sense of moderation and only a person’s conscience can tell them why they’re posting these things,” he told The Wall Street Journal.

Julianne Stanz, director of new evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, similarly said people should pause and pray before posting ashes selfies, but then go ahead and do it.

She noted that this goes against the notion that Catholics should practice their faith quietly and in private.

“But make no mistake about it: Faith, while personal, is not solely meant to be a private affair,” she wrote in a column for The Compass, Green Bay’s diocesan newspaper, last Lent. “Ash Wednesday is a day when we literally wear our faith on our forehead.”

“We become, on this day, a visual extension of the love of Christ — a love which transcends time and distance, whether in the real world or the virtual world,” she added.

Stanz also pointed out that for millennials — the group most likely to observe Lenten practices, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University — “the digital space is an extension of their world and so posting an image after receiving ashes seems natural.”

“Life doesn’t stop after we receive ashes. We go about our daily lives — we wear our ashes at the grocery store, when picking up our children from school and at home gathered around the family table. Wearing ashes in the real and virtual world is about harmonizing who we are as people of faith. If we wear them in the ‘real’ world, then we should also wear them in cyberspace,” she said.

Stanz told Catholic News Service in a Feb. 22 email that her column “To ashtag or not to ashtag” was one of the most popular ones she has written, and it generated a lot of dialogue on social media and with people who got in touch with her to share their story.

A number of Catholic groups, and even the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has urged people to post their Ash Wednesday photos online. 

A leader at Life Teen, a ministry to Catholic teenagers, which also has highlighted the #ashtag trend, said receiving ashes and posting pictures of them is a way to recognize and share our need for God.

“By receiving ashes, we’re claiming our own sinfulness, brokenness, and need for God, with an outward sign,” said Leah Murphy, coordinator of digital evangelization and outreach at Life Teen in Mesa, Arizona. 

In an email to CNS, she said posting Ash Wednesday photos on social media, where so many people connect, is a way to “invite the secular culture to see the church as she is — a broken community in need of a God that can heal and save.”

“Making use of the digital medium simply makes it possible to broaden the reach of the Gospel message,” she said.

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

14 hours 26 min

IMAGE: CNS/Dennis Sadowski

By Dennis Sadowski

MODESTO, Calif. (CNS) — The push for sanctuary was on a lot of minds at the U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements.

Concerns about President Donald Trump’s intention to deport millions of unauthorized immigrants rose throughout the Feb. 16-19 gathering of more than 600 grass-roots and church leaders in California’s Central Valley.

Declaring sanctuary for people fearing forced removal and the breakup of family life was one way to resist government actions, activists and Catholic clergy said.

Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Deliman of Philadelphia, who also is pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in suburban Bensalem, received a standing ovation when he told the gathering Feb. 18 that “what would be disruptive would be if we would declare our parish a sanctuary church.”

“If that would spread and every parish in the diocese would do the same, we certainly could do what Jesus would want us to do,” said Bishop Deliman, who has ministered alongside Latinos in the archdiocese for most of the 44 years of his priesthood.

Afterward, the bishop told Catholic News Service that offering sanctuary at the parish is being considered and that he planned to discuss the idea with Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput.

Representatives of community and church organizations working with unauthorized immigrants reported throughout the meeting that they have seen a rising level of fear and uncertainty among Latinos since Trump took office Jan. 20 and started to make good on campaign pledges to crack down on people in the country illegally.

In the government’s most recent action, the Department of Homeland Security Feb. 21 outlined guidelines that White House officials said would enhance enforcement of immigration laws inside the country as well as prevent additional unauthorized immigration.

Meeting participants blamed the institutionalization of racism and the widening acceptance of demonizing “the other,” people who are not part of the dominant American culture, for the backlash at brown and black-skinned people including Muslims.

Ingrid Vaca, of Dreamers Moms USA International, implored participants throughout the meeting to step up to protect all people being targeted for deportation and who may be on the receiving end of unwanted racial epithets.

“Now more than ever we need to work in unity and scream and shout in unity,” Vaca said during one discussion.

Arthur McFarland, a member of St. Patrick Parish in Charleston, South Carolina, and a leader with Charleston Area Justice Ministry, said prayer was helpful, but action also was necessary.

“If you want change, you have to get off your knees,” he said.

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told the assembly Feb. 17 that fear has spread since Trump’s election in November even though it was President Barack Obama who presided over the deportation of a record 2.5 million people in his eight-year presidency. Children at archdiocesan schools are “terrified” that they will return home to find their parents deported, he said.

He noted that he did not appreciate “the sense of indifference and cruelty that seems to be coming from this new administration in Washington.”

“It is not right that people are being forced to live this way,” Archbishop Gomez said. “No matter if they have broken our immigration laws. They are still human beings. They have dignity and human rights.”

The archbishop reiterated the USCCB’s stance on the need for comprehensive immigration reform as an issue of social justice. Neither the new Congress nor the current administration has proposed legislation addressing the country’s immigration concerns, however.

Such comments were welcomed, but grass-roots activists implored clergy, particularly Catholic bishops, to speak more often from the pulpit about such concerns and to step up to lead demonstrations protesting racism, discrimination and deportations.

Addressing another perspective of world migration, Jesuit Father Michael Czerny, undersecretary of the Migrants and Refugee Section of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, told the gathering that while millions of people today are on the move globally, the situation is not a crisis because the migration of people has occurred throughout human history.

Father Czerny recalled how he and his brother as children fled communist Czechoslovakia to Canada in 1948 with his family because his parents wanted a better life for their sons. The same situation characterizes migrants today, he said.

The Jesuit called for people to respond to the needs of migrants because families do not make a decision to flee their homelands without deep thought and reflection.

“Migration should be a step toward life and hope,” he said, “and not falling to fear and repression.”

– – –

Editor’s Note: All sessions from the World Meeting of Popular Movements can be viewed online at http://popularmovements.org/live-stream.

– – –

Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski.

– – –

Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

16 hours 1 min

IMAGE: CNS photo/Alexander Ermochenko,

By Carol Glatz

ROME (CNS) — The head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church called on the international community to “stop the aggressor” in Ukraine’s “forgotten conflict” and help the 1 million children in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

“I am appealing to the international community to defend Ukrainian children, victims of war, keeping in mind that in our country we are experiencing a humanitarian emergency in Europe that has not been experienced since the Second World War,” said Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk of Kiev-Halych, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church.

Despite efforts the past three years, a “stable cease-fire” has never been achieved, “therefore, we ask international organizations to continue diplomatic approaches to stop the aggressor and end the war so that true peace can be reached,” he said in a written statement received by Catholic News Service Feb. 22.

The archbishop made the appeal after UNICEF released report Feb. 17 saying that 1 million children in Ukraine were in urgent need of humanitarian aid — nearly double the number of kids in need the same time last year.

The increased numbers were due to the ongoing fighting and deteriorating economic situation of families, loss of housing and reduced access to health care and education, the report said. One in five schools in eastern Ukraine have been damaged or destroyed.

“Hundreds of daily cease-fire violations put children’s physical safety and psychological well-being at risk,” the UNICEF report said. Thousands of children face the danger of landmines and unexploded ordinance as well as active shelling in their neighborhoods, it said.

“Teachers, psychologists and parents report signs of severe psychosocial distress among children including nightmares, aggression, social withdrawal and panic triggered by loud noises,” it said.

In his appeal, Archbishop Shevchuk said the Catholic Church has a moral obligation to speak up for the voiceless, particularly the children.

“The increasingly tragic situation of the nation — there are 1.7 million people displaced — remains invisible in the eyes of the general public,” he said. Such tragedy, he said, “cannot and must not remain invisible.”

Meanwhile, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, told the U.N. Security Council during an open debate Feb. 21 that “all necessary steps should be taken to enforce the cease-fire and to implement the measures agreed upon” for Ukraine while respecting basic human rights and international laws.

All efforts must be made to end “this unresolved conflict and to find a political solution through dialogue and negotiation,” he said. It is also “the obligation of states to refrain from actions that destabilize neighboring countries and work together to create the necessary conditions for peace and reconciliation.”

In March 2014, Russia annexed the Crimea region of Ukraine, and about a month later, fighting began along Ukraine’s eastern border. Russian-speaking separatists with support from the Russian government and its troops have been battling Ukrainian forces.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

20 hours 36 min
Dr. Hunter Bake; IRL Director Dr. Raymond Hebert; Joshua Charles, TMC President David Armstrong, JD; and Dr. JD Spences. (Courtesy Photo)Dr. Hunter Bake; IRL Director Dr. Raymond Hebert; Joshua Charles, TMC President David Armstrong, JD; and Dr. JD Spences. (Courtesy Photo)

By Gail Finke

Those who missed it – and that includes nearly everyone in the tristate – are in luck. The presentations from the Thomas More College Institute for Religious Liberty symposium last weekend will be available to watch on the college’s website in March.

The two-day even was Institute’s second since its founding in 2015. Its inaugural event, a major presentation last February by Rabbi David Saperstein, the US Ambassador-at-Large for Religious Freedom, and Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, then the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, drew an interfaith crowd of clergy, heads of religious organizations, students, and the general public.

This year’s symposium drew only dozens of attendees. But unlike the 2016 event, which left many of the hundreds of listeners dissatisfied because of statements made by Rabbi Saperstein that there was no opportunity to question or explore, the two presentations this year were top-notch.

The event was held in two sessions. Friday night began with a presentation by author Joshua Charles followed by a panel discussion with Dr. Hunter Baker of Union University (Jackson, Tenn.) and Dr. J.T. Spence of Thomas More College.

Saturday morning’s event began with a talk by Dr. Kevin Schmiesing of the Acton Institute, followed by a panel discussion led by Charles and featuring Dr. Schmiesing, Brett Greenhalgh of the Cincinnati Ohio Stake (a regional organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), Dr. Kevin Brown of Asbury Univesrsity (Wilmore, Ky.) and Sister of Divine Providence Mary Kay Cramer, a Thomas More College graduate and a midwife who works with immigrants and other women facing economic and social challenges.

Charles, 28, is the author of three books on American history, including “Liberty’s Secrets: The Lost Wisdom of America’s Founders.” A concert pianist who has toured the United States and Europe, he is a public policy Fellow at William Jessup University in Sacramento, as well as a writer and researcher at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC.

Religious liberty, Charles said, was clearly understood by the Founding Fathers as protecting religious conviction, which they held as something that came with obligations superseding any that could be commanded by government.

Products of the Enlightenment, Charles said, the Founders “feared a state-sponsored church” as “too Catholic” – equating, as Enlightenment thinkers did, Catholic faith with blind obedience to the pope and the various forms of Protestantism with free choice, freedom to follow the dictates of conscience, and freedom from coercion from any church or state.

Their solution, he said, was to protect religious freedom by separating church from state – to protect churches and believers from the state, not the other way around.

“Either they misunderstood separation of church and state, or we do,” he said.

Bolstering his talk with extensive quotations from letters, documents, and legislation written by the Founding Fathers, Charles said that the architects of our system of government were sometimes unorthodox, but never Deists, as is often claimed by current writers. Even the least conventional of them believed in a personal God, he said, and were well educated in both the history of politics and religion, as well as the philosophical underpinnings of political systems. What Jefferson meant by “the pursuit of happiness” was the Aristotelian understanding that happiness was derived from virtue and goodness, and all the Founders asserted that freedom and happiness were impossible without religion.

Dr. Baker agreed, explaining that two competing views of mankind at the time of the Revolution were that of Locke, who believed that people in a “state of nature” would be peaceful and would order themselves into communities based on the principles of Natural Law, and Rousseau, who taught that without societal control people would revert to a state of savagery.

Locke’s view leads to the idea of a small government, Rousseau’s to one of a powerful and coercive government. Locke’s vision prevailed but, Baker said, is in danger.

“We’re beginning to rely more heavily on the state, and that means we must proceed with caution,” he said, citing Catholic writer Jacques Maritain, who wrote that “man is not made for the state, the state is made for man.” But Locke’s vision requires men who are virtuous, and according to the Founders, religious faith and the freedom to act on that faith in the public square are required to make men virtuous.

Dr. Spence countered, arguing in essence that Rousseau was correct and that a coercive government is necessary to protect liberties. While the Founders worked for an ideal based on “enlightened self-interest,” he said, the immediate failure of the Articles of Confederation demonstrated that strong central power is needed because people must often be forced to do good.

“I believe that we are a more virtuous society now than we have ever been,” he said, pointing to the country’s gradual elimination of social evils including slavery, graft, and child labor. “The trend over our history has been toward stronger government, which we have enacted through the Democratic process.”

Dr. Schmiesing began the Saturday symposium by contrasting Jefferson’s famous letter to the Ursuline Sisters of New Orleans with President Obama’s battle with the Little Sisters of the Poor. Although anti-Catholic sentiment was rife in Jefferson’s day, “was Jefferson more anti-Catholic than Obama?” he asked. “It’s not at all clear.”

The Founders, he said, were eager to avoid the religious strife they associated with the Old World, but what they regarded as “rampant, rambunctious, religious variety” in the New World was tame compared to the proliferation of sects and religions that have followed. To the Founders, he said, the new country was a Christian nation.

“The more pluralism there is, the more difficult the First Amendment M.O. becomes,” he said. “What is coercion, how much can be allowed, how to measure freedom – these are all now up for debate.”

Government methods used to circumvent freedoms, he said, are also changing. The constitution’s “Commerce Clause,” originally meant to keep states from inhibiting inter-state trade, is now used to curtail religious liberty. The 14th Amendment, originally meant to protect individual rights by treating each person impartially, is now applied to groups of people so that laws can treat them differently. And regulations, including healthcare regulations, make incursions on religious liberties.

Schmiesing observed that in England, Henry VIII didn’t outlaw monasteries – he changed property regulations in a way that made monastic life impossible and changed the British landscape, literally and figuratively. “Whether you regulate religious life through economic policy or religious policy, the result is the same,” he said.

Dr. Brown spoke about the need for virtue in business as well as civic life. Americans have long believed that “virtuous behavior is good for business,” he said, a motto that can lead people to assume that all behavior that is good for business is virtuous. This leads to the error of thinking that economic prosperity proves that a people is virtuous, and that religion is unnecessary.

“That seems to make intuitive sense,” he said, “but prosperity doesn’t in itself have any way to evaluate good and bad. It can produce a lot of bad things. If it allows people to do what they choose to do and we do not distinguish between things that people want,” he said, the result can be everything from the degradation of popular culture to the exploitation of the poor and the flourishing of vice.

A vigorous religious presence in public life, protected by religious freedom, helped to make American capitalism the best economic system in the world for lifting people out of poverty and providing individual opportunity, Brown said. Abandoning religion means risking abandoning society to unfettered greed and its degrading effects on workers, families, culture, and law.

Greenhalgh, who is one Institute’s founders, kept his remarks short and made three recommendations for how to best ensure and protect religious freedom – a freedom he asserted is under attack.

First, he said, people of faith must pray. To try to protect religious freedom without asking help from God is useless. Second, we must practice our faith. “What does it matter to protect religious liberty if we don’t practice it?” he asked. And third, we must all work together instead of concentrating on our differences. “If we look to God, look to ourselves, and look to each other,” he said, “the good people of this community, this nation, and this world will be able to protect religious liberty.”

Sister Kramer, the midwife, delivered the weakest of the event’s talks. Unlike the other panelists, she presented a number of related observations rather than a thesis. These included the observation that “religious and economic repression is real and widespread;” that last year she delivered babies for women from 25 countries, many of them refugees; and that a Muslim family was the only one who had ever prayed for her during 3,500 deliveries. She concluded with the opinion that religious liberty isn’t something desired by people of any one creed or culture but is “a human claim” for all people of goodwill. Unlike the scholars who spoke, she did not support this opinion with evidence.

The event closed with Charles posing questions to panelists of a variety of topics. Greenhalgh, who has been CFO of several international companies, said that macro issues don’t affect businesses nearly as much as a general “movement away from religion” in the West, which he said has affected how workers understand virtue and ethics. “You didn’t used to have to talk about ethics” with workers, he said. “Now it’s a class. We have to teach things we didn’t use to have to teach.”

Dr. Schmiesing said that the new trend toward considering religious liberty as a synonym for bigotry is a “call to action” for all people of faith. Religion, he said, is increasingly looked at as not benefiting society but as causing division, violence, and bigotry. “If religious liberty is considered that way, what’s the benefit of it?” he said. “The Founders thought it was indispensable, and now many people think it’s pernicious. We need to practice the religion our religious liberty affords us. We need to be models of what a religious person is.”

All four panelists demurred when asked to comment on what a Trump presidency could mean for religious liberty. But Dr. Brown said that the question was in some ways the wrong one. “Donald Trump is a reflection, not a catalyst, of change in America. In America, politics are downstream of the people, the state of America, our culture, and our discourse.

“I’m not entirely sure what he will harm or facilitate,” he said. “But if we look to him to be a catalyst, we are mistaken. He’s a reflection.”

The Institute for Religious Liberty at Thomas More College (Crestview Hills, Ky.) is a regional institute headed by Dr. Raymond Hebert, Dean Emeritus. Its partners include Hebrew Union College (Cincinnati), business owners, and area religious leaders. It mission is to featuring internationally recognized speakers from a variety of religious traditions in annual lectures and symposia.

20 hours 56 min

IMAGE: CNS photo/Nicolas Peissel, handout via EPA

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis appealed for humanitarian assistance to South Sudan where famine threatens the lives of millions of people already suffering due to a three-year civil war.

In the “martyred South Sudan,” he said, “a fratricidal conflict is compounded by a serious food crisis, which has struck the Horn of Africa and condemns millions of people to starve to death, among them many children,” the pope said.

At the end of his weekly general audience at the Vatican Feb. 22, the pope said that a solid commitment from the international community to assist South Sudan is crucial “now more than ever.”

The United Nations Feb. 21 declared a famine in two counties of South Sudan, adding that the catastrophic food shortages will continue to spread, threatening millions of lives.

Civil war has destabilized the world’s youngest country for more than three years due to a political power struggle between President Salva Kiir and former Vice-President Riek Machar.

“This famine is man-made,” said Joyce Luma, director of the U.N. World Food Program.

Despite efforts to hold off the famine, she added, “there is only so much that humanitarian assistance can achieve in the absence of meaningful peace and security, both for relief workers and the crisis-affected people they serve.”

Pope Francis urged governments and international organizations to “not stop at just making statements,” but take concrete steps so that necessary food aid “can reach the suffering population.”

“May the Lord sustain these, our brothers and sisters, and those who work to help them,” Pope Francis said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

21 hours 16 min

IMAGE: CNS/Paul Haring

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Humanity’s greed and selfishness can turn creation into a sad and desolate world instead of the sign of God’s love that it was meant to be, Pope Francis said.

Human beings are often tempted to view creation as “a possession we can exploit as we please and for which we do not have to answer to anyone,” the pope said Feb. 22 at his weekly general audience.

“When carried away by selfishness, human beings end up ruining even the most beautiful things that have been entrusted to them,” the pope said.

As an early sign of spring, the audience was held in St. Peter’s Square for the first time since November. Despite the chilly morning temperatures, the pope made the rounds in his popemobile, greeting pilgrims and kissing bundled-up infants.

Continuing his series of talks on Christian hope, the pope reflected on St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, which expresses the hope “that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption.”

St. Paul, the pope said, reminds Christians that creation is a “marvelous gift that God has placed in our hands.”

Through this gift, he said, “we can enter into a relationship with him and recognize the imprint of his loving plan, which we are all called to achieve together.”

Sin, however, breaks communion not only with God but with his creation, “thus making it a slave, submissive to our frailty,” the pope said.  

“Think about water. Water is a beautiful thing; it is so important. Water gives us life and it helps us in everything. But when minerals are exploited, water is contaminated and creation is destroyed and dirtied. This is just one example; there are many,” he said, departing from his prepared remarks.

When people break their relationship with creation, they not only lose their original beauty, he said, but they also “disfigure everything surrounding them,” causing a reminder of God’s love to become a bleak sign of pride and greed.

St. Paul tells believers that hope comes from knowing that God in his mercy wants to heal the “wounded and humbled hearts” of all men and women and, through them, “regenerate a new world and a new humanity, reconciled in his love,” Pope Francis said.

“The Holy Spirit sees beyond the negative appearances for us and reveals to us the new heavens and the new earth that the Lord is preparing for humanity,” the pope said.

“This is the content of our hope. A Christian does not live outside of the world; he knows how to recognize the signs of evil, selfishness and sin in his own life and in what surrounds him,” he said. “But at the same time, a Christian has learned to read all of this with the eyes of Easter, with the eyes of the risen Christ.”

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

21 hours 23 min

IMAGE: CNS/Dennis Sadowski

By Dennis Sadowski

MODESTO, Calif. (CNS) — Affirming that all human life is sacred and all people are “protagonists of their future,” more than 600 grass-roots leaders echoed the call of a U.S. bishop to disrupt practices that cause oppression and violate human dignity.

The leaders attending the U.S. Regional World Meeting of Popular Movements concluded the four-day meeting Feb. 19 saying in a final message that a “small elite is growing wealthy and powerful off the suffering of our families.”

“Racism and white supremacy are America’s original sins. They (the elites) continue to justify a system of unregulated capitalism that idolizes wealth accumulation over human needs,” said the “Message from Modesto.”

The message broadly echoed Pope Francis’ regular critiques of the world economy in which he has said the accumulation of wealth by a few people has harmed the dignity of millions of people in the human family.

The representatives from dozens of faith-based and secular community organizations, labor unions and Catholic dioceses representing an estimated 1 million people called for eight actions to be undertaken. The actions included inviting faith communities, including every Catholic parish, to declare their sites a sanctuary for people facing deportation by the U.S. government; developing local leadership to hold elected officials accountable and, when possible to recruit grass-roots leaders to seek elected office; and a global week of action May 1-7 in which people “stand together against hatred and attacks on families.”

“There’s too many leaders in this room not to mobilize,” Takia Yates-Binford of East St. Louis, Illinois, who represented the Service Employees International Union, said as the meeting ended.

The delegates called for “bold prophetic leadership” from faith communities to speak and act in solidarity with citizens on the margins of society. Participants in plenary sessions and small-group discussions challenged clergy, including the Catholic hierarchy, to be in the forefront of movements to seek justice on social issues for people outside of mainstream society.

In their message, delegates said they wanted to see the seeds planted in Modesto blossom across the country in statewide and regional gatherings to bring the vision of the four meetings of popular movements held to date and the pope’s message of hope and courage to every U.S. community.

The final message reflected the words of Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego, whose stirring presentation a day earlier invited people to follow the example of President Donald Trump, who campaigned as the candidate of “disruption.”

“Well now, we must all become disruptors,” Bishop McElroy told the delegates Feb. 18 to sustained applause. “We must disrupt those who would seek to send troops into our streets to deport the undocumented, to rip mothers and fathers from their families. We must disrupt those who portray refugees as enemies rather than our brothers and sisters in terrible need.

“We must disrupt those who train us to see Muslim men and women as a source of fear rather than as children of God. We must disrupt those who would take even food stamps and nutrition assistance from the mouths of children.”

At the same time, Bishop McElroy said, people of faith must rebuild society based on justice for everyone.

“We have to rebuild this nation so that we place at its heart the service of the dignity of the human person and assert what that flag behind us asserts is our heritage: Every man, woman and child is equal in this nation and called to be equal,” he said.

Bishop McElroy’s words in a plenary session on labor and housing followed a video greeting from Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, in which he said the concentration of wealth and political power in the country “threatens to undermine the health of our democracy.”

As families cope with economic stress and feel no elected official at any level of government cares about their plight, people tend to withdraw from civic participation and effectively disenfranchise themselves, leaving special interest groups, lobbyists and “even demagogues” to fill the void, Cardinal Tobin said.

Such a situation has given rise to populist and nationalist sentiments in the U.S. under which the blame for the economic struggles of some are placed on today’s “scapegoats” including immigrants, Muslims and young people of color, he said, rather than toward the architects of what the pope has called the economy of exclusion. The rising fear and anxiety among people in the dominant culture has given rise to “the sins of racism and xenophobia,” he said.

Cardinal Tobin used Pope Francis’ calls for encounter and dialogue as necessary steps to overcome fear, alienation and indifference. “Encounter and dialogue create the capacity for solidarity and accompaniment,” he said.

“It is our responsibility to respond to the pain and anxiety of our brothers and sisters. As popular movements, your role is to knit together strong communal networks that can gather up the experiences and suffering and aspiration of the people and push for structural changes that affirm the dignity and value of every child of God,” Cardinal Tobin said.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, told the gathering as the final message was adopted that the church was “here to accompany you and support you all.”

“The Catholic Church believes that the joys and the hope, the grief and the anguish of people of our time, especially those who are poor or who are isolated, these also are the joys and the hope and the grief and the anguish of the followers of Christ,” Cardinal Turkson said.

Meeting organizers, which included the PICO National Network of congregation-based organizations and the U.S. bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development, planned to send the message and a comprehensive report on the proceedings to the pope and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The USCCB and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development co-sponsored the gathering.

The U.S. gathering was the first regional meeting in a series encouraged by Pope Francis to bring people working to improve poor and struggling communities around the world through organizing initiatives, prayer and social action. Three previous meetings since 2014 — two in Rome and one in Bolivia — have focused on land, labor and housing. The U.S. meeting added immigration and racism to the topics being discussed.

Along with the grass-roots volunteer leaders and professional organizers, 25 prelates attended the California meeting and several addressed the plenary sessions including Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, USCCB vice president, on immigration, Bishop Shelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, on racism, and Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces, New Mexico, on the environment.

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Editor’s Note: The full Message from Modesto can be read online at http://popularmovements.org/news/message-from-modesto.

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Follow Sadowski on Twitter: @DennisSadowski.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

1 day 14 hours

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Whenever one is tempted to use the church for pursuing personal ambitions or to be arrogant, pray to feel ashamed, Pope Francis said.

When the competitive bug strikes, reflect whether one can “see my Lord on the cross” and still be capable of wanting “to use the Lord for moving up” the ladder of success, he said Feb. 21 during his early morning Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

“May the Lord give us the grace of shame, that holy embarrassment — when we find ourselves in that situation, with that temptation,” he said.

In his homily, the pope looked at the day’s Gospel reading (Mk 9:30-37) in which the disciples were arguing among themselves on the way to Capernaum about “who was the greatest.” When Jesus asked them what they were arguing about, “they remained silent.”

“They became silent because they were embarrassed about their discussion,” the pope said.

The disciples “were good people, they wanted to follow the Lord, to serve the Lord. But they didn’t know that the path of service to the Lord wasn’t so easy. It wasn’t like joining a group, a charitable organization, to do good. No. It’s something else and they were afraid of this,” he said.

Laypeople, priests, bishops — everyone is tempted, the pope said. It’s part of being Christian, so whoever wants to serve the Lord had better be prepared to be tempted, he added.

Some of the many ways people may be tempted is to use the church to pursue their personal ambitions, like maneuvering, wrangling, pulling strings or backbiting to lead a church group or a particular parish or diocese, he said.

The desire to be a big shot pushes people along a path of wordiness, which is why people must ask God for “the grace of feeling ashamed when we find ourselves in these situations.”

In the same Gospel account, Jesus is aware of what the disciples argued about and confronts them saying, “If anyone wishes to be first, he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”

May the Lord protect everyone from “ambition, the worldliness of feeling greater than others,” the pope said, and may he “give us the grace of a child’s simplicity” and see only the path of service.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

1 day 19 hours

IMAGE: CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano

By Junno Arocho Esteves

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Indifference, fueled by populist rhetoric in today’s world, fans the flames of rejection that threaten the rights and dignity of migrants, Pope Francis said.

Refugees escaping persecution, violence and poverty are often shunned and deemed as “unworthy of our attention, a rival or someone to be bent to our will,” the pope told participants of the VI International Forum on Migration and Peace.

“Faced with this kind of rejection, rooted ultimately in self-centeredness and amplified by populist demagoguery, 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,” he said Feb. 21.

The Feb. 21-22 conference, “Integration and Development: From Reaction to Action,” was organized by the Scalabrini International Migration Network and sponsored by the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

According to the forum’s website, the conference focused on refugee crisis management while aiming to “influence migration policies and practices in Europe.”

In his speech, the pope said millions of people are being forced to flee their homelands due to “conflict, natural disasters, persecution, climate change, violence, extreme poverty and inhumane living conditions.”

To confront this challenge, he said, the church and civil society must have a “shared response” of welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating migrants and refugees.

Providing access to “secure humanitarian channels” — legal paths to safety — is crucial in helping people who are “fleeing conflicts and terrible persecutions,” but are often met with rejection and indifference.

“A responsible and dignified welcome of our brothers and sisters begins by offering them decent and appropriate shelter,” the pope said.

Citing Pope Benedict XVI, the pope said the need to defend the “inalienable rights” of exiled and exploited men and women is a duty “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,” the pope said.

Protection, he added, can only be guaranteed by ensuring “necessary conditions,” such as fair access to fundamental goods, that offer “the possibility of choice and growth.”

Pope Francis also highlighted the need for integration, which is a “two-way process rooted essentially in the joint recognition of the other’s cultural richness.”

Integration is different from assimilation, he said, warning that superimposing one culture over another has the “insidious and dangerous risk of creating ghettos.”

At the same time, he said, migrants are “duty bound not to close themselves off from the culture and traditions of the receiving country” while “respecting above all its laws.”

Helping migrants, exiles and refugees “is today a responsibility, a duty we have toward our brothers and sisters who, for various reasons, have been forced to leave their homeland: a duty of justice, civility and solidarity,” the pope said.

Responding to the migration crisis also involves addressing the root causes of the situations that force people to flee, he said, pointing particularly to “unacceptable economic inequality,” which violates “the principle of the universal destination of the earth’s goods.”

“One group of individuals cannot control half of the world’s resources,” Pope Francis said. “We cannot allow for persons and entire peoples to have a right only to gather the remaining crumbs.”

Recognizing each person as a member of the same human family, brother or sister created in God’s image, is key to ensuring a proper response to the crisis, the pope insisted. “Fraternity is the most civil way of relating to the reality of another person, which does not threaten us but engages, reaffirms and enriches our individual identity.”

Pope Francis called for “a change of attitude” in understanding the needs of migrants and refugees, a change that moves away from fear and indifference to a “culture of encounter” that builds “a better, more just and fraternal world.”

“The duty of solidarity is to the counter the throwaway culture and give greater attention to those who are weakest, poorest and most vulnerable,” he said.

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Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.

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Copyright © 2017 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

1 day 21 hours