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Pope urges Myanmar’s religions to build peace and unity amidst differences ‎

November 28, 2017
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met with  17 leaders of Myanmar’s religious communities Tuesday morning, exhorting them that peace consists in unity in diversity, not in uniformity.  The Pope met leaders of Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Catholic and other Christian communities at the Archbishop’s House in Yangon, at the start of his first full day of his Nov. 27-30 apostolic visit to Myanmar. The Holy See’s spokesman, Greg Burke said that the during his 40-minute meeting with them, the Pope urged them to work together to rebuild the country and that if they argue, they should argue like brothers, who reconcile afterwards.   Unity is not uniformity After various leaders spoke, Pope Francis spoke off-hand in Spanish helped by an interpreter.  Alluding to the Psalms, he said, “ How beautiful it is to see brothers united!”   He explained that being united does not mean being equal.  “Unity is not uniformity, even within a religious community.  Each one has his values, his riches as also shortcomings,” the Pope said, adding, “we are all different.”  Each confession has its riches and traditions to give and share .  And this can happen only if all live in peace.  “ Peace ,” the Pope stressed, “consists in a chorus of differences .”  “Unity comes about in differences.” Uniformity kills “Peace is harmony,” the Pope said, noting that there is a trend in the world towards uniformity to make everybody equal.  But he denounced this as a “cultural colonization” that “kills humanity.”    He said religious leaders should understand the richness of our differences - ethnic, religious or popular - and what results from these differences is dialogue.  “As brothers, we can learn from these differences,” the Pope stressed, exhorting the religious leaders to “build the country, which is so rich and diverse even geographically.”  Nature in Myanmar is very rich in differences, the Pope said, urging them not be afraid of differences. “Since we have one Father and we are all brothers , let us be brothers,” the Pope urged.  And if they have to debate among themselves, let it be as brothers, which will soon bring about reconciliation and peace.   “Build peace without allowing yourselves be made uniform by the colonization of cultures,” the Pope appealed.  “One builds true divine harmony through differences.  Differences are a richness for peace ,” the Pope added.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope at Angelus: We will be judged on love

November 26, 2017
(Vatican Radio) In his Angelus address on Sunday, Pope Francis reflected on the last judgement , the subject of the day’s Gospel reading. He noted that this is the last Sunday of the liturgical year, the day on which the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe . Christ’s kingship, he said, is one “of guidance and service, but it is also a kingship that at the end of time will be asserted in judgement.” The vision of the second coming of Christ, presented in the Gospel, introduces the final judgment, when all of humanity will appear before Him, and Jesus, exercising His authority, will separate one from another, “as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” Pope Francis recalled the criteria that Jesus says will be the foundation of His judgment: “What you did for the least of my brothers, that you did on to me.” This sentence, the Pope said, “never fails to strike us, because it reveals to us” the end to which God is willing to go on account of His love for us. God goes so far as to identify Himself with us, not when we are “happy and healthy, but when we are in need.” Thus, the Pope said, “Jesus reveals the decisive criteria of His judgment, that is, the concrete love for our neighbour in difficulty.” Likewise, those who cursed, in the Gospel account, are judged for failing to aid their brothers and sisters in their need. Pope Francis repeated, “At the end of our life we will be judged on love, that is, on our concrete commitment to love and to serve Jesus in our smallest and most needy brothers.” The Holy Father reminds us that Jesus will come at the end of time to judge all nations ; but He also “ comes to us every day , in so many ways, and asks us to welcome Him.” The Pope concluded his reflection with the prayer that “the Virgin Mary might help us to encounter Him and to receive Him in His Word and in the Eucharist , and at the same time in our brothers and in our sisters who suffer hunger, illness, oppression, injustice. May our hearts be able to welcome Him in the ‘today’ of our life, so that we might be welcomed by Him into the eternity of His Kingdom of light and of peace.” Listen:  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope: Pastoral Consolation, the goal of new matrimonial norms

November 25, 2017
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday addressed the participants of a training course for clerics and laity held by the Apostolic Tribunal of the Roman Rota. In his prepared remarks, Pope Francis focused on new matrimonial norms and Super Rato procedures . In particular the Pope said, “it is necessary to give greater attention and proper analysis to the two recent motu proprios: Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus and Mitis et misericors Iesus , in order to apply the new procedures that have been established.” Spirit of the Synod These two measures, he said arose “from a synodal context, and are the expression of a synodal path.” The Pope explained that the Synod had the purpose of promoting and defending marriage and the Christian family. Listen to the report:  Pope Francis also urged those gathered to strive to be missionaries and witnesses of the spirit of the Synod when they return to their communities. He stressed the importance of “pastoral consolation ,” which is the goal of the new matrimonial norms. “Let that synodal spirit,” he said, “become the basis of your action in the Church, especially in such a delicate field as marriage and the family.” The Pope told the participants, that they were called “ to be close to the loneliness and suffering of the faithful waiting for ecclesial justice and to provide the help needed to regain the peace of their consciences and the will of God on readmission to the Eucharist.” Role of Diocesan Bishop During his discourse Pope Francis said he had decided to definitively clarify some of the fundamental aspects of the two recent motu proprios, in particular the role of the diocesan bishop. In a series of points the Holy Father said the diocesan bishop was the natural judge in the new “shorter process.” He added that the shorter process was not simply another option that the Bishop may choose; rather, it is an obligation that comes from his consecration and the mission that has been entrusted to him. The Pope also underlined several fundamental criteria for the shorter process: mercy, in the first place, and closeness and gratuity , which the Holy Father said “are the two pearls the poor need, and which the Church must love above all else.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope sends telegramme of condolence following terror attacks in Egypt

November 25, 2017
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegramme of condolence for Friday's attack on a mosque in Egypt, saying he was "profoundly grieved to learn of the great loss of life caused by the terrorist attacks on Rawda mosque in North Sinai". ​ At least 235 people were killed as they gathered for Friday prayers at the al-Rawda mosque in the town of Bir al-Abed.​ ​Witnesses said dozens of gunmen arrived in off-road vehicles and bombed the mosque before opening fire on people as they attempted to flee. Signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, the telegramme says, "In expressing his solidarity with the Egyptian people at this hour of national mourning, [Pope Francis] commends the victims to the mercy of the Most High God and invokes divine blessings of consolation and peace upon their families." The Pope ​also ​ renewed "his firm condemnation of this wanton act of brutality directed at innocent civilians gathered in prayer". Finally, Pope Francis said he joins "all people of good will in imploring that hearts hardened by hatred will learn to renounce the way of violence that leads to such great suffering, and embrace the way of peace."     (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope meets dialogue Commission with Assyrian Church of the East

November 24, 2017
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Friday received in audience the members of the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. In greetings to the Commission, the Pope thanked God "for today’s signing of the Joint Declaration." "We can now look to the future with even greater confidence and I ask the Lord that your continuing work may help bring about that blessed and long-awaited day when we will have the joy of celebrating, at the same altar, our full communion in Christ’s Church," he said. The full text of the Pope's address is below: Dear Brothers and Sisters, I extend a warm welcome to all of you. I thank you for your visit and Metropolitan Meelis Zaia for his kind words on your behalf. Through you I convey my fraternal greeting in the Lord to His Holiness Mar Gewargis III, recalling with joy our cordial meeting a year ago, which marked a further step on our journey towards deeper growth in mutual solidarity and communion. Our meeting today offers us the opportunity to look with gratitude upon the progress made by the Joint Commission, established following the historic signing of the Common Christological Declaration here in Rome in 1994. After professing the same faith in the mystery of the Incarnation, the Commission planned two phases of dialogue: one on sacramental theology and one on the constitution of the Church. I join you in thanking the Lord for today’s signing of the Joint Declaration which brings to a happy conclusion the phase regarding sacramental life. We can now look to the future with even greater confidence and I ask the Lord that your continuing work may help bring about that blessed and long-awaited day when we will have the joy of celebrating, at the same altar, our full communion in Christ’s Church. I would like to emphasize one aspect of the new Joint Declaration, where the sign of the cross is referred to as “an explicit symbol of unity among all sacramental celebrations”. Some authors of the Assyrian Church of the East have included the sign of the cross among the sacred mysteries, convinced that every sacramental celebration depends precisely on the Pasch of the Lord’s death and resurrection. This is a beautiful insight, because the Crucified and Risen One is our salvation and our life. Hope and peace come from his glorious cross, and from the cross flows the unity of the sacred mysteries we celebrate, as well as our own unity, for we were baptized into the same death and resurrection of the Lord (cf. Rom 6:4). When we look at the cross, or make the sign of the cross, we are also invited to remember sacrifices endured in union with Jesus and to remain close to those who today bear a heavy cross upon their shoulders. The Assyrian Church of the East, along with other Churches and many of our brothers and sisters in the region, is afflicted by persecution, and is a witness to brutal acts of violence perpetrated in the name of fundamentalist extremism. Situations of such tragic suffering take root more easily in contexts of great poverty, injustice and social exclusion, largely caused by instability, often fuelled by external interests, and by conflicts that have also led in recent times to situations of dire need, giving rise to real cultural and spiritual deserts, within which it becomes easy to manipulate people and incite them to hatred. Such suffering has recently been exacerbated by the tragedy of the violent earthquake on the border between Iraq, the homeland of your Church, and Iran, where your communities have also long been established, as well as in Syria, Lebanon and India. As a result, particularly during periods of greater suffering and deprivation, large numbers of the faithful have had to leave their lands and emigrate to other countries, thus increasing the diaspora community, with the many trials it faces. Arriving in some societies, émigrés encounter challenges stemming from an often difficult integration, and a marked secularization, which can hinder their efforts to preserve the spiritual riches of their traditions, and even prevent their witness of faith. In all of this, the constant repetition of the sign of the cross is a reminder that the Lord of mercy never abandons his brothers and sisters, but embraces their wounds within his own. By making the sign of the cross we recall Christ’s wounds, which the Resurrection did not eliminate but rather filled with light. So too the wounds of Christians, including those still open, become radiant when they are filled with the living presence of Jesus and his love, and thus become signs of Easter light in a world enveloped by so much darkness. With these sentiments, both heartfelt and hope-filled, I invite you to keep journeying, trusting in the help of many of our brothers and sisters who gave their lives in following the Crucified Christ. They, who are already fully united in heaven, are the heralds and patrons of our visible communion on earth. Through their intercession, I also pray to the Lord that the Christians of your lands may continue to labour in peace and in full respect for all, in the patient work of reconstruction after so much devastation. In the Syriac tradition, Christ on the cross is represented as the Good Physician and Medicine of life. I pray that He will completely heal our wounds of the past as well as the many wounds that continue to be caused by the havoc of violence and war. Dear brothers and sisters, let us continue together on the pilgrimage of reconciliation and peace, on which the Lord Himself has set us! With gratitude for your commitment, I invoke the Lord’s blessing upon all of you, along with the loving protection of His Mother and ours. And I ask you, please, also to remember to pray for me. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope: Change, in fidelity to God and man, is always healthy ‎

November 24, 2017
Change is healthy, and one needs to change in order to be faithful both to God and to man, Pope Francis said in a video message to a 4-day Italian workshop on the social doctrine of the Church.  The Pope’s message inaugurated the 5th Social Doctrine Festival , Thursday evening in the northern city of Verona .  The event is discussing the theme of “ Fidelity and Change ” with regard to issues such as labour, justice, economy and culture.  Word of God helps change The Pope pointed out that the Word of God helps us in distinguishing the two faces of change .  The first is fidelity, hope in and openness to new things ; the second is the difficulty of leaving a secure place for something unknown.  He noted we feel more secure within our fence, preserving and repeating our usual words and gestures.  But this prevents us from going out and starting new processes.   Abraham “In order to be faithful one must have the capacity to change” and launch out, the Pope said, holding out the figure of Abraham, who in his old age heeded the Lord’s command and left his homeland for a new land.  The Lord’s call radically changed Abraham’s life, made him enter a new history and opened unexpected horizons for him with new heavens and new earths.  Likewise, when one responds to God, the Pope pointed out, a process begins that leads to something unexpected we never imagined before.  Going out Fidelity to man, the Pope explained, means going out of ourselves to meet a concrete person, to open our eyes and heart to the poor, the sick, the jobless, the refugees fleeing violence and war, and the many who are wounded by indifference and by an economy that discards and kills.  Fidelity to man, he stressed,  means overcoming the centripetal force of one’s interests and egoism and giving way to the passion for others.  In this way, the Pope said,  fidelity to God and fidelity to man converge into a dynamic movement that changes us and the reality, overcoming “immobilism and convenience”, creating space and work for young people and their future.  Hence change is healthy not only when things go badly but also when everything goes well and we are tempted to sit back over results achieved.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Mass: Our churches should be for service, not supermarkets

November 24, 2017
Pope Francis on Friday suggested watchfulness, service and gratuitousness as three attitudes that can help us keep clean the temple of the Holy Spirit.  He made the exhortation in his homily at the morning Mass in the chapel of the Vatican’s Casa Santa Marta residence.  Listen to our report: The Pope was reflecting on the first reading from the Book of the Maccabees where Judas and his brothers were re-consacrating the temple desecrated by the pagans, and the Gospel reading where Jesus was driving out merchants from the temple, that was transformed into a den of thieves.  Temple of God - our heart The Pope pointed out that the most important temple of God is our heart, where the Holy Spirit dwells.  The Holy Father asked whether we keep watch over this interior temple, and are careful about what happens in the heart, who comes in and who goes out, the feelings, the ideas...  “Do we talk to the Holy Spirit and listen to Him?” the Pope asked and urged all to keep watch over what happens within. The Pope then explained how this temple can be safeguarded and cared for through service .  The Pope urged Christians to examine their conscience, whether they come forward to help, to clothe and console those in need .  In this regard, he recalled St. John Chrysostom reprimanding those who were making many offerings to decorate the church but were not caring for the needy saying, “This is not good.  First service, then decoration.”  “Purifying the temple means caring for others, the Pope said, adding, “ when we come forward to serve, to help, we resemble Jesus who is inside us.” The Pope then spoke about how gratuitousness , the third attitude, helps in keeping the temple clean. He wondered, “How many times we sadly enter a temple – a parish, a bishop’s house and so on, not knowing whether were are in the house of God or in a supermarket .”  “There we have business, including the price list for the sacraments – nothing is free!”  But the Pope argued that God saved us freely, without making us pay. God's providence In this regard, he asked whether money is needed to maintain building, priests and so on...  And the Pope answered, “ You give freely and God will do the rest .”  “God will provide what is lacking,” the Pope said wishing our churches be “churches of service, free churches.” (from Vatican Radio)...

2018 Peace Msge: Migration an opportunity to build peace

November 24, 2017
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has placed the plight of migrants and refugees at the centre of his 2018 World Day of Peace Message. Entitled  Migrants and Refugees: Men and Women in search of Peace , the Holy Father encourages the faithful and all people of good will to welcome and support these brothers and sisters. He also underlines migration should be viewed as an opportunity to build peace. One of those presenting this year’s message at the Holy See Press Office on Friday was Jesuit  Fr Ismael-Jose Chan Honzaga, an advisor and law Professor at the Atheneum University in Manila. He spoke to Vatican Radio’s Lydia O’Kane about the message. Listen to the interview: Speaking about the choice of this year’s theme Fr Chan Honzaga said, “we all know what’s happening globally and how migration or human movement has always been historically a global phenomenon. But, unfortunately especially in recent years, we’ve also seen how these migrations have become forced migrations.” Supporting Migrants and Refugees He goes on to say that the Pope invites people with this message to look at migration and the people “in this particular situation not as threats but as people who need our support, who need also our embracing.” Fr Chan Honzaga points out that in the last few years migration has been seen as something negative adding “we have become more afraid rather than welcoming” and that’s why the Holy Father has asked in this message that we welcome these brothers and sisters. The Pope in the early days of his pontificate went to see for himself the plight of those migrants who had made the perilous journey by boat to the island of Lampedusa off the Italian coast and the Jesuit Professor commented that this visit along with others, “awakened his (the Pope’s) heart all the more to how it is actually a crisis on the global stage.” “ The Pope giving this message and issuing this stance I think is a wake-up call , especially to the Catholics and to all people of good will for that matter that our world is a common home and our humanity is a common family…”, he says. The 2018 World Day of Peace is celebrated on January 1st. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope's message for 2018 World Day of Peace is released

November 24, 2017
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ message for the celebration of the 2018 World Day of Peace was released on Friday during a press conference at the Holy See Press Office. The message entitled Migrants and Refugees: Men and Women in search of Peace is divided into six sections with the first offering heartfelt good wishes for peace and inviting people of good will to embrace those fleeing war, hunger and persecution. The message also poses the question, why so many migrants and refugees? Pope Francis answers this by considering the many conflicts forcing people to leave their homelands, but he notes also the desire for a better life. The Holy Father notes that some people consider the growth in migration as a threat..  But, “for my part, he says, I ask you to view it with confidence, as an opportunity to build peace.” Peace points Contained in the 4th section of the message under the theme, “four mileposts for action”, the Pope points out what is needed in order for migrants and refugees to find the peace they seek is a strategy combining four actions: welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating. Looking at the situation from an international perspective, Pope Francis expresses the hope that this spirit of welcome and integration, “will guide the process that in the course of 2018 will lead the United Nations to draft and approve two Global Compacts, one for safe, orderly and regular migration and the other for refugees.” Common Home Finally, the Holy Father draws inspiration from Saint John Paul II  with these words. “If the ‘dream’ of a peaceful world is shared by all, if the refugees’ and migrants’ contribution is properly evaluated, then humanity can become more and more a universal family and our earth a true ‘common home’.” Please find below the message of  Pope Francis for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, 1 January 2018   MIGRANTS AND REFUGEES: MEN AND WOMEN IN SEARCH OF PEACE 1.      Heartfelt good wishes for peace          Peace to all people and to all nations on earth!  Peace, which the angels proclaimed to the shepherds on Christmas night,[1] is a profound aspiration for everyone, for each individual and all peoples, and especially for those who most keenly suffer its absence.  Among these whom I constantly keep in my thoughts and prayers, I would once again mention the over 250 million migrants worldwide, of whom 22.5 million are refugees.  Pope Benedict XVI, my beloved predecessor, spoke of them as “men and women, children, young and elderly people, who are searching for somewhere to live in peace.”[2]  In order to find that peace, they are willing to risk their lives on a journey that is often long and perilous, to endure hardships and suffering, and to encounter fences and walls built to keep them far from their goal.          In a spirit of compassion, let us embrace all those fleeing from war and hunger, or forced by discrimination, persecution, poverty and environmental degradation to leave their homelands.          We know that it is not enough to open our hearts to the suffering of others.  Much more remains to be done before our brothers and sisters can once again live peacefully in a safe home.  Welcoming others requires concrete commitment, a network of assistance and goodwill, vigilant and sympathetic attention, the responsible management of new and complex situations that at times compound numerous existing problems, to say nothing of resources, which are always limited.  By practising the virtue of prudence, government leaders should take practical measures to welcome, promote, protect, integrate and, “within the limits allowed by a correct understanding of the common good, to permit [them] to become part of a new society.”[3]  Leaders have a clear responsibility towards their own communities, whose legitimate rights and harmonious development they must ensure, lest they become like the rash builder who miscalculated and failed to complete the tower he had begun to construct.[4] 2.      Why so many refugees and migrants?          As he looked to the Great Jubilee marking the passage of two thousand years since the proclamation of peace by the angels in Bethlehem, Saint John Paul II pointed to the increased numbers of displaced persons as one of the consequences of the “endless and horrifying sequence of wars, conflicts, genocides and ethnic cleansings”[5] that had characterized the twentieth century.  To this date, the new century has registered no real breakthrough: armed conflicts and other forms of organized violence continue to trigger the movement of peoples within national borders and beyond.          Yet people migrate for other reasons as well, principally because they “desire a better life, and not infrequently try to leave behind the ‘hopelessness’ of an unpromising future.”[6]  They set out to join their families or to seek professional or educational opportunities, for those who cannot enjoy these rights do not live in peace. Furthermore, as I noted in the Encyclical Laudato Si’, there has been “a tragic rise in the number of migrants seeking to flee from the growing poverty caused by environmental degradation”.[7]          Most people migrate through regular channels.  Some, however, take different routes, mainly out of desperation, when their own countries offer neither safety nor opportunity, and every legal pathway appears impractical, blocked or too slow.          Many destination countries have seen the spread of rhetoric decrying the risks posed to national security or the high cost of welcoming new arrivals, and by doing so demeans the human dignity due to all as sons and daughters of God.  Those who, for what may be political reasons, foment fear of migrants instead of building peace are sowing violence, racial discrimination and xenophobia, which are matters of great concern for all those concerned for the safety of every human being.[8]          All indicators available to the international community suggest that global migration will continue for the future.  Some consider this a threat.  For my part, I ask you to view it with confidence as an opportunity to build peace. 3.      With a contemplative gaze          The wisdom of faith fosters a contemplative gaze that recognizes that all of us “belong to one family, migrants and the local populations that welcome them, and all have the same right to enjoy the goods of the earth, whose destination is universal, as the social doctrine of the Church teaches.  It is here that solidarity and sharing are founded.”[9]  These words evoke the biblical image of the new Jerusalem.  The book of the prophet Isaiah (chapter 60) and that of Revelation (chapter 21) describe the city with its gates always open to people of every nation, who marvel at it and fill it with riches.  Peace is the sovereign that guides it and justice the principle that governs coexistence within it.          We must also turn this contemplative gaze to the cities where we live, “a gaze of faith which sees God dwelling in their houses, in their streets and squares, […] fostering solidarity, fraternity, and the desire for goodness, truth and justice”[10] – in other words, fulfilling the promise of peace.          When we turn that gaze to migrants and refugees, we discover that they do not arrive empty-handed.  They bring their courage, skills, energy and aspirations, as well as the treasures of their own cultures; and in this way, they enrich the lives of the nations that receive them.  We also come to see the creativity, tenacity and spirit of sacrifice of the countless individuals, families and communities around the world who open their doors and hearts to migrants and refugees, even where resources are scarce.          A contemplative gaze should also guide the discernment of those responsible for the public good, and encourage them to pursue policies of welcome, “within the limits allowed by a correct understanding of the common good”[11] – bearing in mind, that is, the needs of all members of the human family and the welfare of each.          Those who see things in this way will be able to recognize the seeds of peace that are already sprouting and nurture their growth.  Our cities, often divided and polarized by conflicts regarding the presence of migrants and refugees, will thus turn into workshops of peace. 4.      Four mileposts for action          Offering asylum seekers, refugees, migrants and victims of human trafficking an opportunity to find the peace they seek requires a strategy combining four actions: welcoming, protecting, promoting and integrating.[12]          “Welcoming” calls for expanding legal pathways for entry and no longer pushing migrants and displaced people towards countries where they face persecution and violence.  It also demands balancing our concerns about national security with concern for fundamental human rights.  Scripture reminds us: “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.”[13]          “Protecting” has to do with our duty to recognize and defend the inviolable dignity of those who flee real dangers in search of asylum and security, and to prevent their being exploited.  I think in particular of women and children who find themselves in situations that expose them to risks and abuses that can even amount to enslavement.  God does not discriminate: “The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the orphan and the widow.”[14]          “Promoting” entails supporting the integral human development of migrants and refugees.  Among many possible means of doing so, I would stress the importance of ensuring access to all levels of education for children and young people.  This will enable them not only to cultivate and realize their potential, but also better equip them to encounter others and to foster a spirit of dialogue rather than rejection or confrontation.  The Bible teaches that God “loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.  And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.”[15]          “Integrating”, lastly, means allowing refugees and migrants to participate fully in the life of the society that welcomes them, as part of a process of mutual enrichment and fruitful cooperation in service of the integral human development of the local community.  Saint Paul expresses it in these words: “You are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people.”[16] 5.      A proposal for two international compacts          It is my heartfelt hope this spirit will guide the process that in the course of 2018 will lead the United Nations to draft and approve two Global Compacts, one for safe, orderly and regular migration and the other for refugees.  As shared agreements at a global level, these compacts will provide a framework for policy proposals and practical measures.  For this reason, they need to be inspired by compassion, foresight and courage, so as to take advantage of every opportunity to advance the peace-building process.  Only in this way can the realism required of international politics avoid surrendering to cynicism and to the globalization of indifference.          Dialogue and coordination are a necessity and a specific duty for the international community.  Beyond national borders, higher numbers of refugees may be welcomed – or better welcomed – also by less wealthy countries, if international cooperation guarantees them the necessary funding.          The Migrants and Refugees Section of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development has published a set of twenty action points that provide concrete leads for implementing these four verbs in public policy and in the attitudes and activities of Christian communities.[17]  The aim of this and other contributions is to express the interest of the Catholic Church in the process leading to the adoption of the two U.N. Global Compacts.  This interest is the sign of a more general pastoral concern that goes back to very origins of Church and has continued in her many works up to the present time. 6.      For our common home          Let us draw inspiration from the words of Saint John Paul II: “If the ‘dream’ of a peaceful world is shared by all, if the refugees’ and migrants’ contribution is properly evaluated, then humanity can become more and more a universal family and our earth a true ‘common home’.”[18]  Throughout history, many have believed in this “dream”, and their achievements are a testament to the fact that it is no mere utopia.          Among these, we remember Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini in this year that marks the hundredth anniversary of her death.  On this thirteenth day of November, many ecclesial communities celebrate her memory.  This remarkable woman, who devoted her life to the service of migrants and became their patron saint, taught us to welcome, protect, promote and integrate our brothers and sisters.  Through her intercession, may the Lord enable all of us to experience that “a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”[19] From the Vatican, 13 November 2017 Memorial of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Patroness of Migrants                                                                         (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Homily for Prayer Service for Peace

November 23, 2017
Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis Prayer for Peace 23 November 2017 This evening, in prayer, we want to sow seeds of peace in the lands of South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in all lands devastated by war.  I had already decided to visit South Sudan, but it did not prove possible.  Yet we know that prayer is more important, because it is more powerful: prayer works by the power of God, for whom nothing is impossible. For this reason, I offer heartfelt thanks to all those who planned this vigil and worked so hard to make it happen. “The risen Christ invites us, alleluia!”  These words of the song in Swahili accompanied the entrance procession, together with some images from the two countries for which we especially pray.  As Christians, we believe and know that peace is possible, because Jesus is risen.  He gives us the Holy Spirit, whom we have invoked. As Saint Paul reminded us shortly ago, Jesus Christ “ is our peace” ( Eph 2:14).  On the cross, he took upon himself all the evil of the world, including the sins that spawn and fuel wars: pride, greed, lust for power, lies…  Jesus conquered all this by his resurrection.  Appearing in the midst of his friends, he says: “Peace be with you ( Jn 20:19.21.26).  He repeats those same words to us this evening: “Peace be with you!” Without you, Lord, our prayer would be in vain, and our hope for peace an illusion.  But you are alive.  You are at work for us and with us.  You are our peace! May the risen Lord break down the walls of hostility that today divide brothers and sisters, especially in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. May he comfort those women who are the victims of violence in war zones and throughout the world. May he protect children who suffer from conflicts in which they have no part, but which rob them of their childhood and at times of life itself.  How hypocritical it is to deny the mass murder of women and children!  Here war shows its most horrid face. May the Lord help all the little ones and the poor of our world to continue to believe and trust that the kingdom of God is at hand, in our midst, and is “justice, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” ( Rom 14:17).  May he sustain all those who day by day strive to combat evil with good, and with words and deeds of fraternity, respect, encounter and solidarity. May the Lord strengthen in government officials and all leaders a spirit which is noble, upright, steadfast and courageous in seeking peace through dialogue and negotiation. May the Lord enable all of us to be peacemakers wherever we find ourselves, in our families, in school, at work, in the community, in every setting.  “Let us wash the feet” of one another, in imitation of our Master and Lord.  To him be glory and praise, now and forever. Amen (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Mass: Ideological colonization erases freedom, memory

November 23, 2017
(Vatican Radio) Removing freedom, erasing memory, indoctrinating young people  are the three indicators of cultural and ideological colonization throughout the ages. Those were the Pope's words as he returned to the subject of cultural and ideological colonization this Thursday morning during his homily at the Casa Santa Marta, inspired once again by the readings of the week, which recount the persecution of King Antiochus Epiphanes against the Maccabees who are faithful to the law of the Fathers. Look what happens to the people of God, "said Pope Francis," every time there is a new dictatorship on Earth that is a cultural or ideological colonization. "Think, the Pope noted, without making names, to what the dictatorships of the last century did in Europe and the indoctrination in schools that have arisen:” "Freedom is taken away, history, people’s memory is deconstructed, and an educational system is imposed on young people. Everyone: Everyone does this. Even with kid gloves on, so: I know a country, a nation that asks for a loan, '(and the answer is)  “I will give you the loan, but [in return] you, in your schools, have to teach this, and this, and this,'; books that have erased all that God has created and how he has created it. They erase the differences, eliminate history: from today you have to start thinking in this way. Those who do not think like this are cast aside, even persecuted. " This has happened even in Europe, the Pope commented, where "those who opposed genocidal dictatorships were persecuted", were threatened, deprived of freedom, which then corresponds to "another form of torture." And along with freedom, ideological and cultural colonizations also eliminate  memory, reducing it to "fables", "lies," old things. " Then, recalling the figure of the Maccabei's mother who exhorts her children to stand up to martyrdom, the Pope emphasized the unique role of women in the custody of memory and historical roots: " Preserving memory : the memory of salvation, the memory of God's people, that memory that strengthened the faith of a people persecuted by this ideological-cultural colonization. Memory is the one thing that helps us triumph over every perverse education system. To remember. Remembering the values, remembering the History, remembering the things we learned. And then, there are Mothers. The "feminine tenderness" and the "manly courage" of the Maccabees mother who renders the historical roots of the language of the Fathers strong in defense of her children and of the People of God, makes us think, said the Pope that "only the strength of women is capable of resisting cultural colonization. " They are the mothers and women, the guardians of memory, of their native dialect , "able to defend the history of a people," and, moreover, the Pope added, to "convey the faith" which "theologians will be able to explain". "The people of God continued on by the strength of so many valiant women who have been able to give their children faith, and only they - mothers - can convey faith in a native dialect. Let the Lord always give us grace in the Church to have memory, not to forget the native language of fathers, and to have courageous women. " (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Cultural colonization ends in persecution

November 21, 2017
(Vatican Radio) Cultural and ideological colonization does not tolerate differences and makes everything the same, resulting in the persecution even of believers. Those were Pope Francis’ reflections in his homily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, which centered on the martyrdom of Eleazar, narrated in the book of Maccabees from the First Reading (Maccabees 6: 18-31). The Pope noted that there are three main types of persecution: a purely religious persecution; a “mixed” persecution that has both religious and political motivations, like the Thirty Years War or the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre”; and a kind of cultural persecution, when a new culture comes in wanting “to make everything new and to make a clean break with everything: the cultures, the laws and the religions of a people.” It is this last type of persecution that led to the martyrdom of Eleazar. The account of this persecution began in the reading from Monday’s liturgy. Some of the Jewish people, seeing the power and the magnificent beauty of Antiochus Ephiphanes (a Greek king of the Seleucid Empire), wanted to make an alliance with him. They wanted to be up-to-date and modern, and so they approached the king and asked him to allow them “to introduce the pagan institutions of other nations” among their own people. Not necessarily the ideas or gods of those nations, the Pope noted, but the institutions. In this way, this people brought in a new culture, “new institutions” in order to make a clean break with everything: their “culture, religion, law.” This modernizing, this renewal of everything, the Pope emphasized, is a true ideological colonization that wanted to impose on the people of Israel “this unique practice,” according to which everything was done in a particular way, and there was no freedom for other things. Some people accepted it because it seemed good to be like the others; and so the traditions were left aside, and the people begin to live in a different way. But to defend the “true traditions” of the people, a resistance rose up, like that of Eleazar, who was very dignified, and respected by all. The book of Maccabees, the Pope said, tells the story of these martyrs, these heroes. A persecution born of ideological colonization always proceeds in the same way: destroying, attempting to make everyone the same. Such persecutions are incapable of tolerating differences. The key word highlighted by the Pope, beginning with Monday’s reading is “perverse root” – that is Antiochus Epifanes: the root that came to introduce into the people of God, “with power,” these new, pagan, worldly” customs: “And this is the path of cultural colonization that ends up persecuting believers too. But we do not have to go too far to see some examples: we think of the genocides of the last century, which was a new cultural thing: [Trying to make] everyone equal; [so that] there is no place for differences, there is no place for others, there is no place for God. It is the perverse root. Faced with this cultural colonization, which arises from the perversity of an ideological root, Eleazar himself has become [a contrary] root. In fact, Eleazar dies thinking of the young people, leaving them a noble example. “He gives [his] life; for love of God and of the law he is made a root for the future.” So, in the face of that perverse root that produces this ideological and cultural colonization, “there is this other root that gives [his] life for the future to grow.” What had come from the kingdom of Antioch was a novelty. But not all new things are bad, the Pope said: just think of the Gospel of Jesus, which was a novelty. When it comes to novelties, the Pope said, one has to be able to make distinctions: “There is a need to discern ‘the new things’: Is this new thing from the Lord, does it come from the Holy Spirit, is it rooted in God? Or does this newness come from a perverse root? But before, [for example] yes, it was a sin to kill children; but today it is not a problem, it is a perverse novelty. Yesterday, the differences were clear, as God made it, creation was respected; but today [people say] we are a little modern... you act... you understand ... things are not so different ... and things are mixed together.”  The “new things” of God, on the other hand, never makes “a negotiation” but grows and looks at the future: “Ideological and cultural colonizations only look to the present; they deny the past, and do not look to the future. They live in the moment, not in time, and so they can’t promise us anything. And with this attitude of making everyone equal and cancelling out differences, they commit, they make an particularly ugly blasphemy against God the Creator. Every time a cultural and ideological colonization comes along, it sins against God the Creator because it wants to change Creation as it was made by Him. And against this fact that has occurred so often in history, there is only one medicine: bearing witness; that is, martyrdom. Eleazar, in fact, gives the witness by giving his life, considering the inheritance he will leave by his example: “I have lived thus. Yes, I dialogue with those who think otherwise, but my testimony is thus, according to the law of God.” Eleazar does not think about leaving behind money or anything of that kind, but looks to the future, “the legacy of his testimony,” to that testimony that would be “a promise of fruitfulness for the young.” It becomes, therefore, a root to give life to others. And the Pope concludes with the hope that that example “will help us in moments of confusion in the face of the cultural and spiritual colonization that is being proposed to us.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope addresses Italian road and railway police

November 20, 2017
While commending Italy’s police force for ensuring the safety and security of those travelling by road and train, Pope Francis on Monday called on them to also inculcate humanity, uprightness ‎and “mercy”.  ‎  The Pope met some 100 top leaders and officials of Italy’s road police that celebrating its 70th anniversary and railway police that is marking its 110 years.  Click below to listen:   Road safety Talking about road safety, Pope Francis told the group it is necessary to deal with the low level of responsibility on the part of many drivers, who often do not even realize the serious consequences of their inattention (for example, with improper use of cell phones ) or their disregard.  He said this is caused by a hurried and competitive lifestyle that regards other drivers as obstacles or opponents ‎to overcome, turning roads into "Formula One" tracks and the traffic lights as the starting line of a Grand Prix race.  In such a context, the Pope said, sanctions are not just enough to increase security, but there is a need for an ‎educative action, which creates greater awareness of one’s responsibilities for those traveling ‎alongside. ‎ Beyond professionalism The Pope told the police men and women that the fruit of their experience on the road and the railway will help in raising awareness and increase civic sense. Their professionalism not only depends on their skills but also on their “profound uprightness ” which never takes ‎advantage of the powers they possess, thus helping develop a “high degree of humanity .”  The Pope said that in surveillance and prevention, it is important to ensure never to let the use of force degenerate into ‎ violence , especially when a policeman is regarded with suspicion or almost as an enemy instead of a guardian of the common good . Mercy In fulfilling their functions, the Holy Father suggested the police have a “sort of mercy”, which he said is not synonymous with ‎weakness.  Neither does it mean renunciation of the use of force.  It means not identifying the ‎ offender with the offence he has committed, that ends up creating harm and generating revenge.  Their work requires them to use mercy even in the countless situations of weakness and pain that they face daily, ‎not only in various types of accidents but also in meeting needy or disadvantaged people. ‎ Good vs evil The Pope also asked the road and railway police to recognize the presence of the clash between good and evil in the world and within us, and to do everything possible to fight egoism, injustice and  ‎indifference and whatever offends man, creates ‎disorder and foments illegality, hindering the happiness and growth of people.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope on World Day of the Poor: they open for us the way to heaven

November 19, 2017
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Sunday – the XXXIII Sunday in Ordinary Time and the first-ever World Day of the Poor – in St. Peter’s Basilica. The Holy Father announced the World Day of the Poor during the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, and entrusted its organization and promotion to the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization . There were some 4 thousand needy people in the congregation for the Mass, after which Pope Francis offered Sunday lunch in the Paul VI Hall. Speaking off the cuff to guests at the luncheon, the Holy Father said, “We pray that the Lord bless us, bless this meal, bless those who have prepared it, bless us all, bless our hearts, our families, our desires, our lives and give us health and strength.” The Holy Father went on to ask God's blessing on all those eating and serving in soup kitchens throughout the city. “Rome,” he said, “is full of this [charity and good will] today.” Click below to hear our report The World Day of the Poor is to be marked annually, on the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time. In the homily he prepared for the occasion and delivered in St. Peter’s Basilica following the Gospel reading, Pope Francis said, “In the poor, Jesus knocks on the doors of our heart, thirsting for our love.” He went on to say, “When we overcome our indifference and, in the name of Jesus, we give of ourselves for the least of his brethren, we are his good and faithful friends, with whom he loves to dwell.” Reminding the faithful that it is precisely in the poor, we find the presence of Jesus, who, though rich, became poor (cf. 2 Cor 8:9), and that there is therefore in each and every poor person, a “saving power” present, Pope Francis said, “[I]f in the eyes of the world they have little value, they are the ones who open to us the way to heaven.” “For us,” the Pope continued, “it is an evangelical duty to care for them, as our real riches, and to do so not only by giving them bread, but also by breaking with them the bread of God’s word, which is addressed first to them. “To love the poor,” Pope Francis said, “means to combat all forms of poverty, spiritual and material: and it will also do us good. Drawing near to the poor in our midst will touch our lives. It will remind us of what really counts: to love God and our neighbour. Only this lasts forever, everything else passes away.”  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: homily for World Day of the Poor

November 19, 2017
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass on Sunday – the XXXIII Sunday in Ordinary Time and the first-ever World Day of the Poor – in St. Peter’s Basilica. Below, please find the full text of his homily on the occasion, in its official English translation … *************************** We have the joy of breaking the bread of God’s word, and shortly, we will have the joy of breaking and receiving the Bread of the Eucharist, food for life’s journey. All of us, none excluded, need this, for all of us are beggars when it comes to what is essential: God’s love, which gives meaning to our lives and a life without end. So today too, we lift up our hands to him, asking to receive his gifts. The Gospel parable speaks of gifts. It tells us that we have received talents from God, “according to ability of each” (Mt 25:15). Before all else, let us realize this: we do have talents; in God’s eyes, we are “talented”. Consequently, no one can think that he or she is useless, so poor as to be incapable of giving something to others. We are chosen and blessed by God, who wants to fill us with his gifts, more than any father or mother does with their own children. And God, in whose eyes no child can be neglected, entrusts to each of us a mission. Indeed, as the loving and demanding Father that he is, he gives us responsibility. In the parable, we see that each servant is given talents to use wisely. But whereas the first two servants do what they are charged, the third does not make his talents bear fruit; he gives back only what he had received. “I was afraid – he says – and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours” (v. 25). As a result, he is harshly rebuked as “wicked and lazy” (v. 26). What made the Master displeased with him? To use a word that may sound a little old-fashioned but is still timely, I would say it was his omission. His evil was that of failing to do good. All too often, we have the idea that we haven’t done anything wrong, and so we rest content, presuming that we are good and just. But in this way we risk acting like the unworthy servant: he did no wrong, he didn’t waste the talent, in fact he kept it carefully hidden in the ground. But to do no wrong is not enough. God is not an inspector looking for unstamped tickets; he is a Father looking for children to whom he can entrust his property and his plans (cf. v. 14). It is sad when the Father of love does not receive a generous response of love from his children, who do no more than keep the rules and follow the commandments, like hired hands in the house of the Father (cf. Lk 15:17). The unworthy servant, despite receiving a talent from the Master who loves to share and multiply his gifts, guarded it jealously; he was content to keep it safe. But someone concerned only to preserve and maintain the treasures of the past is not being faithful to God. Instead, the parable tells us, the one who adds new talents is truly “faithful” (vv. 21 and 23), because he sees things as God does; he does not stand still, but instead, out of love, takes risks. He puts his life on the line for others; he is not content to keep things as they are. One thing alone does he overlook: his own interest. That is the only right “omission”. Omission is also the great sin where the poor are concerned. Here it has a specific name: indifference. It is when we say, “That doesn’t regard me; it’s not my business; it’s society’s problem”. It is when we turn away from a brother or sister in need, when we change channels as soon as a disturbing question comes up, when we grow indignant at evil but do nothing about it. God will not ask us if we felt righteous indignation, but whether we did some good. How, in practice can we please God? When we want to please someone dear to us, for example by giving a gift, we need first to know that person’s tastes, lest the gift prove more pleasing to the giver than to the recipient. When we want to offer something to the Lord, we can find his tastes in the Gospel. Immediately following the passage that we heard today, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you that, just as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40). These least of our brethren, whom he loves dearly, are the hungry and the sick, the stranger and the prisoner, the poor and the abandoned, the suffering who receive no help, the needy who are cast aside. On their faces we can imagine seeing Jesus’ own face; on their lips, even if pursed in pain, we can hear his words: “This is my body” (Mt 26:26). In the poor, Jesus knocks on the doors of our heart, thirsting for our love. When we overcome our indifference and, in the name of Jesus, we give of ourselves for the least of his brethren, we are his good and faithful friends, with whom he loves to dwell. God greatly appreciates the attitude described in today’s first reading that of the “good wife”, who “opens her hand to the poor, and reaches out her hands to the needy” (Prov 31:10.20). Here we see true goodness and strength: not in closed fists and crossed arms, but in ready hands outstretched to the poor, to the wounded flesh of the Lord. There, in the poor, we find the presence of Jesus, who, though rich, became poor (cf. 2 Cor 8:9). For this reason, in them, in their weakness, a “saving power” is present. And if in the eyes of the world they have little value, they are the ones who open to us the way to heaven; they are our “passport to paradise”. For us it is an evangelical duty to care for them, as our real riches, and to do so not only by giving them bread, but also by breaking with them the bread of God’s word, which is addressed first to them. To love the poor means to combat all forms of poverty, spiritual and material. And it will also do us good. Drawing near to the poor in our midst will touch our lives. It will remind us of what really counts: to love God and our neighbour. Only this lasts forever, everything else passes away. What we invest in love remains, the rest vanishes. Today we might ask ourselves: “What counts for me in life? Where am I making my investments?” In fleeting riches, with which the world is never satisfied, or in the wealth bestowed by God, who gives eternal life? This is the choice before us: to live in order to gain things on earth, or to give things away in order to gain heaven. Where heaven is concerned, what matters is not what we have, but what we give, for “those who store up treasures for themselves, do not grow rich in the sight of God” (Lk 12:21). So let us not seek for ourselves more than we need, but rather what is good for others, and nothing of value will be lacking to us. May the Lord, who has compassion for our poverty and needs, and bestows his talents upon us, grant us the wisdom to seek what really matters, and the courage to love, not in words but in deeds. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope to Ratzinger Prize-winners: a symphony of truth

November 18, 2017
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis  received the recipients of the 2017 Ratzinger Prize in Theology on Saturday morning. Catholic Professor  Karl-Heinz Menke  of the Theological Faculty of the University of Bonn, Lutheran Professor  Theodor Dieter  of the Institute for Ecumenical Research in Strasbourg, and Orthodox composer  Arvo Pärt , share the Prize this year, which Benedict XVI established in 2010 as the leading international award for research in Sacred Scripture, patristics, and fundamental theology. Broadening horizons of the Ratzinger Prize This year, therefore, marks the first time in which the Prize is given to someone not engaged in strictly theological endeavor. When the prize-winners were announced in September, the President of the  Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation , Fr. Federico Lombardi SJ , said, “ Benedict XVI ’s appreciation for the art of music and the highly religious inspiration behind the musical art of Pärt , justified the attribution of the prize also outside of the strictly theological field.” Click below to hear our report In remarks to the roughly 200 guests, including the prize-winners and officials of the Ratzinger Foundation on Saturday morning in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace,  Pope Francis  said, “I welcomed with joy the idea of ​broadening the horizon of the [Ratzinger] Prize to include the arts, in addition to the theology and sciences, which are naturally associated with it.” He went on to say, “It is an enlargement that corresponds well with the vision of [Pope emeritus]  Benedict XVI , who so often spoke to us in a touching manner, of beauty as a privileged way of opening ourselves to transcendence and to meeting God.” Ecumenical focus The Prize this year also had an ecumenical element. In addition to  Pärt ’s Orthodoxy, the year, 2017, is the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Lutheran movement in Christianity, and Lutheran Professor  Theodor Dieter  one of the three recipients.  “The truth of Christ,” said  Pope Francis , “is not for soloists, but is symphonic: it requires docile collaboration, harmonious sharing.” The Holy Father also said, “Seeking it, studying it, contemplating it, and transposing it in practice together, in charity, draws us strongly toward full union between us: truth becomes thus a living source of ever closer ties of love.” Pope Francis  concluded, saying, “[C]ongratulations, therefore, to the illustrious prize winners: Professor  Theodor Dieter , Professor  Karl-Heinz Menke  and Maestro  Arvo Pärt ; and my encouragement to [the Ratzinger] Foundation,” so that, “we might continue to travel along new and broader ways to collaborate in research, dialogue and knowledge of the truth. – a truth that, as  Pope Benedict  has not tired of reminding us, is, in God,  logo s and  agape , wisdom and love, incarnate in the person of Jesus.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope calls for common good, ethical responsibility in science, technology ‎

November 18, 2017
"Science, like any other human activity, has its limits which should be observed for the ‎good of ‎humanity itself, and requires a sense of ethical responsibility,” Pope Francis said on Saturday.  “The true measure of progress, as ‎Blessed ‎Paul VI recalled, is that which is aimed at the good of each man and the whole man,” the Pope told some 83 participants in the plenary assembly of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture.  The participants met the Pope at the conclusion of their Nov.15-18 assembly which discussed the theme, “The Future of Humanity: New Challenges to Anthropology.”  Click below to listen to our report: Incredible advances The Pope said, the Church wants to give the correct direction to man at the dawn of a new era marked by incredible advances in medicine , genetics , neuroscience and “autonomous” machines .  Speaking about the incredible advances in genetics, he noted that diseases that were considered incurable until recently have been eradicated, and new possibilities have opened up to “programme” human beings with certain “qualities”.  Not all the answers The Pope said that " science and technology have helped us to further the boundaries of knowledge of nature, especially of the human being,” but they alone are not enough to give all the answers. ‎“Today,” he explained, “we ‎increasingly realize that it is necessary to draw from the treasures of wisdom of ‎religious ‎traditions , popular wisdom , literature and the arts that touch the depths of the mystery of ‎human ‎existence, without forgetting, but rather by rediscovering those contained in philosophy and ‎ theology .‎” Church teachings In this regard, the Pope pointed to two principles of the Church’s  teaching. The first is the “ centrality of the human person , which is to be considered an end and not a means.”  Man must be in harmony ‎with creation, not as a despot about God's inheritance, but as a loving guardian of the work ‎of the Creator.‎ The second principle is the universal destination of goods , including that of ‎knowledge and technology. Scientific and technological progress, the Pope explained, should serve the good of all humanity, and ‎not just a few, and this will help avoid new inequalities in the future based on knowledge, and prevent widening of the gap between the rich and the poor .  The Holy Father insisted that great decisions regarding the direction scientific research should take, and investment in it, should be taken together by the whole of society and should not be ‎dictated solely by market rules or by the interests of a few .‎  And finally, the Pope said, one must keep in mind that not everything that is technically possible or feasible is ethically acceptable.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope prays for sailors aboard missing submarine

November 18, 2017
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is offering his “fervent prayers” for 44 Argentinian sailors aboard a submarine that has been missing since Wednesday. In a telegram sent addressed to the Bishop Santiago Olivera , the head Military Ordinariate of Argentina, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin noted the Pope’s concern for the sailors and expressed the Pope’s spiritual closeness to the families of the sailors, and to the military and civil authorities of the nation. He also noted the Holy Father’s encouragement for the efforts being made to find the vessel. “His Holiness entrusts them to the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin, “ Cardinal Parolin said, and “he asks the Lord to instill in them spiritual serenity and Christian hope in these circumstances, in pledge of which he cordially imparts the comforting Apostolic Blessing.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: ‘Compassion’ is more effective in addressing inequalities

November 18, 2017
Pope Francis on Saturday sent a letter to the participants of the 32nd International Conference on the theme ‘Addressing Global Health Inequalities’ .  The event  organized by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the International Confederation of Catholic Health Care Institutions is taking  place in the New Synod Hall of the Vatican from 16 to 18 November. The  letter addressed to Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson , Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development,  the Holy Father stressed that apart from having well-structured organization for providing necessary services and the best possible attention to human needs,  the healthcare workers should be attuned to the importance of listening, accompanying and supporting the person for whom they care. For Pope Francis ‘compassion’ is  vital to be efficient and capable of addressing inequalities.   The Pope concluded the letter exhorting the representatives of the pharmaceutical companies invited to address the issue of access to antiretroviral therapies by paediatric patients. Quoting a passage from the New Charter for Healthcare Workers, Pope Francis called them  to make available essential drugs in adequate quantities, in usable forms of guaranteed quality, along with correct information, and at costs that are affordable by individuals and communities.      Please find below the official translation of the Pope's letter: To My Venerable Brother Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development   I offer a cordial welcome to the participants in the Thirty-second International Conference on the theme Addressing Global Health Inequalities.  I express my gratitude to all those who have worked to organize this event, in particular, to the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development and the International Confederation of Catholic Health Care Institutions. Last year’s Conference took note of encouraging data on the average life expectancy and on the global fight against pathologies, while at the same time pointing out the widening gap between the richer and poorer countries with regard to access to medical products and health-care treatment.  Consequently, it was decided to address the specific issue of inequalities and the social, economic, environmental and cultural factors underlying them. The Church cannot remain indifferent to this issue.  Conscious of her mission at the service of human beings created in the image of God, she is bound to promote their dignity and fundamental rights. To this end, the New Charter for Health Care Workers states that “the fundamental right to the preservation of health pertains to the value of justice, whereby there are no distinctions between peoples and ethnic groups, taking into account their objective living situations and stages of development, in pursuing the common good, which is at the same time the good of all and of each individual” (No. 141).  The Church proposed that the right to health care and the right to justice ought to be reconciled by ensuring a fair distribution of healthcare facilities and financial resources, in accordance with the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity.  As the Charter notes, “those responsible for healthcare activities must also allow themselves to be uniquely and forcefully challenged by the awareness that ‘while the poor of the world continue knocking on the doors of the rich, the world of affluence runs the risk of no longer hearing those knocks, on account of a conscience that can no longer distinguish what is human’” (No. 91; Caritas in Veritate, 75). I am pleased to learn that the Conference has drafted a project aimed at concretely addressing these challenges, namely, the establishment of an operational platform of sharing and cooperation between Catholic health care institutions in different geographical and social settings.  I willingly encourage those engaged in this project to persevere in this endeavour, with God’s help.  Healthcare workers and their professional associations in particular are called to this task, since they are committed to raising awareness among institutions, welfare agencies and the healthcare industry as a whole, for the sake of ensuring that every individual actually benefits from the right to health care.  Clearly, this depends not only on healthcare services, but also on complex economic, social, cultural and decision-making factors.  In effect, “the need to resolve the structural causes of poverty cannot be delayed, not only for the pragmatic reason of its urgency for the good of society, but because society needs to be cured of a sickness which is weakening and frustrating it, and which can only lead to new crises.  Welfare projects, which meet certain urgent needs, should be considered merely temporary responses.  As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems.  Inequality is the root of social ills.” (Evangelii Gaudium, 202). I would like to focus on one aspect that is fundamental, especially for those who serve the Lord by caring for the health of their brothers and sisters.  While a well-structured organization is essential for providing necessary services and the best possible attention to human needs, healthcare workers should also be attuned to the importance of listening, accompanying and supporting the persons for whom they care. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus shows us the practical approach required in caring for our suffering neighbour.  First, the Samaritan “sees”.  He notices and “is moved with compassion” at the sight of a person left stripped and wounded along the way.  This compassion is much more than mere pity or sorrow; it shows a readiness to become personally involved in the other’s situation.  Even if we can never equal God’s own compassion, which fills and renews the heart by its presence, nonetheless we can imitate that compassion by “drawing near”, “binding wounds”, “lifting up” and “caring for” our neighbour (cf. Lk 10:33-34). A healthcare organization that is efficient and capable of addressing inequalities cannot forget that its raison d’être, which is compassion: the compassion of doctors, nurses, support staff, volunteers and all those who are thus able to minimize the pain associated with loneliness and anxiety. Compassion is also a privileged way to promote justice, since empathizing with the others allows us not only to understand their struggles, difficulties and fears, but also to discover, in the frailness of every human being, his or her unique worth and dignity.  Indeed, human dignity is the basis of justice, while the recognition of every person’s inestimable worth is the force that impels us to work, with enthusiasm and self-sacrifice, to overcome all disparities. Finally, I would like to address the representatives of the several pharmaceutical companies who have been invited to Rome to address the issue of access to antiretroviral therapies by paediatric patients.  I would like to offer for your consideration a passage of the New Charter for Healthcare Workers.  It states: “Although it cannot be denied that the scientific knowledge and research of pharmaceutical companies have their own laws by which they must abide – for example, the protection of intellectual property and a fair profit to support innovation – ways must be found to combine these adequately with the right of access to basic or necessary treatments, or both, especially in underdeveloped countries, and above all in the cases of so-called rare and neglected diseases, which are accompanied by the notion of orphan drugs.  Health care strategies aimed at pursuing justice and the common good must be economically and ethically sustainable.  Indeed, while they must safeguard the sustainability both of research and of health care systems, at the same time they ought to make available essential drugs in adequate quantities, in usable forms of guaranteed quality, along with correct information, and at costs that are affordable by individuals and communities” (No. 92). I thank all of you for the generous commitment with which you exercise your valued mission. I give you my Apostolic Blessing, and I ask you to continue to remember me in your prayers. From the Vatican, 18 November 2017     (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope at Mass: Take time to think about death

November 17, 2017
(Vatican Radio) With today’s readings, the Church invites us to reflect on the end of the world, but also on the end of our own lives. Pope Francis based his homily on the Gospel reading, where the Lord speaks about the daily lives of men and women in the days before the great Flood, or in the days of Lot – they lived normal lives, eating and drinking, doing business, marrying. But the “day of the manifestation of the Lord” came – and things changed. The Church, our Mother, wants us to take time to consider our own death, the Pope said. We are all used to the routine of daily life. We think things will never change. But, Pope Francis continued, the day will come when we will be called by the Lord. For some it will be unexpected; for others it might come after a long illness – but the call will come. And then, the Pope said, there will be another surprise from the Lord: eternal life. This is why the Church asks us to “pause for a moment, take a moment to think about death.” We should not become accustomed to earthly life, as though it were eternity. “A day will come,” the Pope said, echoing the words of Jesus in the Gospel, “when you will be taken away” to go with the Lord. And so it is good to reflect upon the end of our life. “Thinking about death is not a gruesome fantasy,” the Pope said. “Whether it is gruesome or not depends on me, and how I think about it – but what will be, will be.” When we die, we will meet the Lord – “this is the beauty of death, it will be an encounter with the Lord, it is Him coming to meet you, saying, “Come, come, [you who are] blessed by My Father, come with me.” The Holy Father concluded his homily with a story about an elderly priest who was not feeling well. When he went to the doctor, the doctor told him he was sick. “Perhaps we’ve caught it in time to treat it,” the doctor told him. “We will try this treatment, and if this doesn’t work, we’ll try something else. And if that doesn’t work, we will begin to walk [together], and I will accompany you to the very end.” Like the doctor, we too, the Pope said, must accompany one another on this journey. We must do everything we can in order to assist the sick; but always looking toward our final destiny, to the day when the Lord will come to take us with Himself to our heavenly home.  (from Vatican Radio)...

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