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Pope's friendship with late Evangelical leader Tony Palmer

5 hours 12 min ago
(Vatican Radio) The Vatican’s Council for Christian Unity has sent a message of condolences following the sudden death of an Evangelical leader with whom Pope Francis became friends during his time as archbishop of Buenos Aires. Bishop Tony Palmer, the international ecumenical officer of the Communion of Episcopal Evangelical Churches and founder of the online Ark Community, died on Sunday following a motorbike accident near his home in the south of England. Listen to Philippa Hitchen's report : In the message to his widow, Council President Cardinal Kurt Koch says Bishop Palmer’s meetings with Pope Francis over recent months “have given great impetus to ecumenical relations between the Catholic Church and Evangelical Christians.” His strong faith and his passion for unity, the Cardinal says, “reached a global audience of Christians with the message that there is no time to be wasted in division, the time for unity is now.” During one of his visits to the Vatican in February this year, Bishop Palmer recorded an iphone message that Pope Francis wished to send to a Pentecostal group meeting in the United States. In that off-the-cuff video message, the Pope speaks frankly of his longing for unity and reconciliation, saying that all Christians share the blame for the sins of division. Mgr Juan Usma Gomez heads the Pontifical Council desk for relations with Pentecostals, Evangelicals and Charismatic groups. He talked to us about the significant impact that Bishop Palmer’s friendship with Pope Francis has had on the worldwide ecumenical movement, saying that they first met in Argentina  when Tony Palmer was part of a delegation of Pentecostals and Evangelicals that was holding talks with the Catholic Church in Buenos Aires....."when Tony Palmer was ordained bishop in the Communion of Episcopal Evangelical Churches, they received greetings from the then archbishop Bergoglio...." Mgr Usma Gomez says Pope Francis teaches us that "to work for Christian unity you need brotherhood....and you realise that all the friends he had in Argentina continue to be his friends.......he's trying to build up not only relations of friendship but also relations of churches trying to look for the promotion of Christian unity..." He says that the iphone message recorded by Bishop Palmer for the Pentecostal community "opened a door because it reached a really significant number of people...it's an adventure that Pope Francis is asking us to establish.....he started it, he's way ahead of us and we're trying to follow this pattern!" (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis calls Patriarch in solidarity with Iraqi Christians

8 hours 40 min ago
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has reassured the Patriarch of the Syriac Catholic Church Ignatius Youssef III Younan that he is following news out of Iraq with concern, particularly the dramatic situation of Christians in Mosul who have been threatened with death and seizure of their homes by Islamic militants demanding they leave or convert to their form of Islamic belief.  Christians have lived in Iraq’s second largest city for nearly two thousand years;  there are few, if any, left now in Mosul.  The Patriarch told the Italian Catholic news agency SIR (Religious Information Service), that Pope Francis called him Sunday 20 July to express his solidarity with Iraqi Christians.  During the 9 minute phone call, the Patriarch thanked the Pope and asked him to intensify his efforts to engage world leaders, putting them face to face with the facts on the ground: that in the province of Nineveh a massive religious “cleansing” campaign is underway to rid the region of those who do not share the beliefs of the new occupiers. At the end of the call, Pope Francis bestowed his Apostolic Blessing upon all the eastern Christians with the assurance that he “will always keep them in his prayers for peace and security.”  At his traditional Angelus blessing also on Sunday, the Pope offered prayers for Iraqi Christians who `'are persecuted, chased away, forced to leave their houses without the possibility of taking anything'' with them” and called for dialogue to resolve armed conflicts. Just recently, Patriarch Younan had denounced an arson attack by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) militants on the Episcopal headquarters of the Syriac-Catholic Church in Mosul.   (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Preparations for November Congress of Lay Ecclesial Movements, new communities

9 hours 22 min ago
(Vatican Radio) Preparations are underway for the Third World Congress of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities to be held in Rome from 20 to 22 November 2014.   The Congress, whose theme will be “ The joy of the Gospel: a missionary joy… ” (cf. Evangelii Gaudium , 21), is being organized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity and will be held at the International Pontifical College Maria Mater Ecclesiae.   T he Council for the Laity has invited members of large, officially recognized international associations and others involved “in ongoing dialogue” with the Dicastery to participate. Under the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, previous editions of the World Congress (1998 and 2006) brought together ecclesial movements and new communities to discuss issues such as the identity and mission of associations of the lay faithful in the Church and in the world. The Pontifical Council for the Laity hopes that the November Congress “will encourage the joyous adherence of ecclesial movements and new communities to answering the pressing invitation of the pope to enter into a ‘dynamism of missionary outreach’”. Delegates from more than eighty ecclesial movements and new communities are expected to attend as well as a number of bishops coming from dioceses and Holy See offices. Bishop Josef Clemens, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, explains that the character of the meeting will be that of mutual listening, sharing and dialogue. The gathering will not be a special academic meeting where speakers demonstrate their knowledge to an audience, but rather a meeting where the reflections and experiences of the participants will be the core of the event. For more information from the Pontifical Council for the Laity website click here (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis marks Day for Life in UK, Ireland with call to cherish life

17 hours 33 min ago
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is marking the upcoming Day for Life in the UK and Ireland with a call to all people of good will to cherish life, particularly the life of society’s most vulnerable. In a message sent to the Church in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, signed by the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Pope urges Catholics to “to bring the merciful love of Christ as a life-giving balm to those troubling “new forms of poverty and vulnerability” increasingly evident in contemporary society (cf. Evangelii Gaudium 210).” The theme of this year’s Day for Life – celebrated on July 27 th - is #livelife Protect and Cherish Life from its beginning to its natural end. It invites young people in particular to get involved in caring for, nurturing and protecting life at every stage and in every condition. Message from Pope Francis "As the Church in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales celebrates the 2014 Day for Life , the Holy Father expresses his confidence that this annual witness to the sanctity of God’s gift of life will inspire the faithful, and young Catholics in particular, to combat the culture of death, not only by working to ensure adequate legal protection for the fundamental human right to life, but also by seeking to bring the merciful love of Christ as a life-giving balm to those troubling “new forms of poverty and vulnerability” (cf. Evangelii Gaudium 210) which are increasingly evident in contemporary society. "To all involved in the Day for Life celebrations, His Holiness imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of wisdom, joy and peace in the Risen Lord." Cardinal Pietro Parolin Secretary of State Day for Life is celebrated yearly by the Catholic Church in Scotland, England and Wales and Ireland. It's a day dedicated to raising awareness about the meaning and value of human life at every stage and in every condition. The proceeds of the Day for Life collection to be held in parishes in England and Wales on Sunday 27 July 2014 assist the work of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre and other life-related activities supported by the Church. (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Vatican Nuncio in Holy Land appeals for dialogue to end Israel-Gaza conflict

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 12:49
(Vatican Radio)  As casualties continue to mount in the war between Hamas and Israel, diplomatic efforts to stop the conflict are underway. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry headed to Cairo Monday to try to renew cease-fire efforts aimed at ending the fighting.  On Sunday, Pope Francis’ renewed his appeal for dialogue and an end to the violence. In an interview with Vatican Radio, the Holy See’s Nuncio to Israel and Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine, Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto said, “The Holy Father's words have had a major impact here and were taken from all official media, both print as well as radio stations and broadcasters. Everyone has repeated the appeal of the Holy Father. That's what we all hope here because the situation is becoming truly tragic: there is a loss of human life that is not acceptable; we must put an end to violence because this creates other conflict situations. They open new wounds that continue to produce even more death. It is urgent that those responsible understand that there is no other path than that of dialogue and negotiation; stakeholders must be helped and should be brought to the negotiating table.” Last month in the Vatican Pope Francis hosted a day of prayer for peace together with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.  The Pontiff followed up that encounter this past weekend with a phone call urging the two leaders to press for peace.  What the Holy Father has done, says Archbishop Lazzarotto, is “to sow” the first seed of dialogue.  “Now, let us surround this seed with care, make it grow and make it bear the fruit that it should give; understand the meaning of the gesture of the Pope and translate it into concrete actions such as the Holy Father is urging continuously. It takes concrete actions and courage.  The Pope pointed out many times: peace needs courageous gestures. It is time for political leaders of all parties to understand this and move in this direction. “People are tired,” the Archbishop continues, because the conflict has “lasted too long. These recurring incidents of conflict naturally create more frustration, but most of the people want peace.” With the resources it has available, the Church in the Holy Land, he says, does everything it can in this situation to help.  As an example of concrete gestures, he indicates the on-site assistance that local Catholic aid agencies such as Caritas are able to offer “to bring immediate help to these people who are directly affected.” Archbishop Lazzarotto concludes his remarks with an appeal to pilgrims to not stay away from the Holy Land, noting that “many pilgrims have canceled their trip, their pilgrimage: But I say that coming to the Holy Land is also a nice gesture of solidarity. It helps to know that other Christians - despite everything - come here.” (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

CARDINAL SANDRI TO THE ORIENTAL CHRISTIANS: YOUR TEARS AND HOPES ARE OURS

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 06:33
Vatican City, 21 July 2014 (VIS) – Yesterday Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, celebrated Mass in the Maronite Cathedral of Our Lady of Lebanon in Los Angeles, United States, on the occasion of the festivity of Sts. Charbel and Elias, commemorated by Lebanese Maronites all over the world on the third Sunday of July. Around four hundred faithful of the Oriental Churches participated in the celebration. According to a communiqué from the dicastery, the cardinal spoke in his homily of the immense suffering caused by the desperate fate of many innocent people and remarked that, while the Christians in Mosul in Iraq and Aleppo in Syria are the most afflicted, the entire area is in a state of insecurity, unfortunately maintained by widespread indifference. He also made reference to those affected by current events in Palestine, “who are in tears, unable to be men and Christians in serenity and dignity. We tell them that their tears are ours, nonetheless we share the same hope, and its name is Christ; and Jesus Christ is faithful. For this, we persevere together in the same journey”. After reading the appeal in support of persecuted Christians, launched by Pope Francis during yesterday's Angelus, the Cardinal invited the faithful to pray in silence and emphasised the Church's closeness to the Patriarchs, the bishops and the people of the Syro-Catholic and Chaldean Churches. He emphasised the Church's participation in their suffering and urged them to persevere in the defence of human rights and religious freedom, “particularly where Christians have been living for two thousand years since the beginning of Christianity” to the benefit of society, and where they may continue to offer their contribution to the human community....

Christians invited to pray for end to Gaza conflict

Sun, 07/20/2014 - 09:36
(Vatican Radio)  Christians around the world are invited this Sunday to join in prayers for peace in the Holy Land where an Israeli ground offensive is underway in Gaza to root out Hamas militants responsible for rocket fire into Israel.  The conflict, which has entered its 13th day, has claimed hundreds of Palestinian lives and those of several Israelis. Not long into the conflict, leaders of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land, the Catholic Ordinaries, issued a strong statement condemning the hostilities, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory and the series of injustices they say lay at the root of the unrest. The Director of Caritas Jerusalem, Fr. Raed Abusahliah asks Christians everywhere to join him Sunday to pray for an end to the conflict and explains that in their statement, the Catholic Ordinaries offer a Christian perspective… Listen to the report by Tracey McClure...     (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis prays for peace in the Middle East

Sun, 07/20/2014 - 08:08
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday expressed his concern for the plight of Christian communities in the Iraqi town of Mosul and in other parts of the Middle East. Speaking after the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope turned his thoughts to those Christians who are now persecuted in the lands they have lived since the beginning of Christianity. “Today our brothers are persecuted” – the Pope said – "they are banished from their homes and forced to flee without even being able to take their belongings!” And, assured them of his closeness and constant prayer he said:  “My dear brothers and sisters who are persecuted, I know how much you suffer; I know that you are deprived of all. I am with you in faith in He who conquered evil”. The Pope then appealed to all – to those present in the Square and far beyond – to persevere in praying for peace in all situations of tension and conflict in the world, and he especially mentioned the Middle East and Ukraine. “May the God of peace” – Francis said – “arouse in all an authentic desire for dialogue and reconciliation.  Violence cannot be overcome with violence. Violence is overcome with peace!” The Pope’s appeal followed his Sunday address to the crowds gathered in the Square for the recitation of the Angelus prayer. Taking his cue from the Gospel reading of the day, the Pope reflected on the parable that tells of the man who sowed good seed in his field while his enemy sowed weeds. But when the man’s servants offer to pull up the weeds, the man stoped them saying “if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them”.  This parable – Pope Francis explained – speaks to us of the problem of evil in the world and it highlights God’s patience. The devil – he said – plants evil where there is good, trying to divide people, families and nations. But God – he continued – knows how to wait. He looks into the ‘field’ of each person with patience and mercy: he sees the dirt and the evil much better than we do, but he also sees the seeds of good and patiently awaits their germination. God – Pope Francis said – is a patient father who waits with an open heart to welcome us and to forgive us. But – he pointed out – His patience does not mean He is indifferent to evil. One must not confuse good and evil. And at the end, at the time of the harvest, Jesus will judge us all separating those who have sown good seed from those who have sown weeds. And – Francis said – we will be judged with the same meter with which we judged others; we will be shown the same mercy we showed towards others. Let us ask Our Lady – Pope Francis concluded – to help us grow in patience and in mercy.            (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Iraqi Patriarch: For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians

Sat, 07/19/2014 - 05:19
(Vatican Radio) The last Christian families still present in Mosul are leaving the city and are heading towards Iraqi Kurdistan. The exodus was caused by the proclamation on Thursday by the self-proclaimed Islamic Caliphate that Christians must pay a special tax or be killed.  Islamists have for the past two days been marking the doors of homes belonging to Christians and Shia Muslims living in the city. “For the first time in the history of Iraq, Mosul is now empty of Christians,”  said Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako in an interview with the AFP news agency. Listen to our report: The Patriarch said as late as last month, 35,000 Christians had lived in the city, and over 60,000 lived there before the United States invasion in 2003. Over the past month, the so-called Islamic State has consolidated its hold over a roughly a 700 kilometer stretch of territory which reaches from the outskirts of the Syrian city of Aleppo to the edges of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. A report prepared by the UN Human Rights Office and the UN Mission in Iraq says over 1,500 civilians were killed during the month of June, and over 600,000 Iraqis were displaced during the same period. The report says members of the Islamic State its associated armed groups systematically targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure with the intention of killing and wounding as many civilians as possible.  “The report documents the untold hardship and suffering that has been imposed upon the civilian population, with large-scale killings, injuries and destruction and damage of livelihoods and property," said Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the UN Human Rights Office. Iraqi politicians have yet to complete the formation of a new government more than three months after parliamentary elections, with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki facing pressure from Sunnis, Kurds, and some Shias to step aside after two terms in office. (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis sends message to Gaza’s parish priest and the Christian community

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 12:01
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has written a personal message to the parish priest of Gaza, Father Jorge Hermandez, a fellow Argentinian, saying he is keeping the territory’s Christian community in his prayers.  In his message the Pope offered words of comfort and assured them he was praying for them all. Father Mario Cornioli, the parish priest of Beit Jala in the West Bank, had earlier informed the Pope of the extremely challenging situation facing the tiny Christian community in Gaza and all the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip as a result of the Israeli bombardments aimed at trying to halt rocket attacks by militants. In an interview with Vatican Radio, Father Cornioli said that Pope Francis’s message had given Christians in Gaza fresh courage and hope.  At the same time he said the casualties are mounting as a result of the ground and air offensive with many wounded arriving in Gaza’s hospitals and the medical staff are struggling to cope with the influx.  The priest urged the international community to do all in their power to help stop “this massacre.”  (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope sends Message to mark AMIA bombing

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 12:01
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a Message to the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) to mark the twentieth anniversary of the bombing of the AMIA centre in Buenos Aires, which killed eighty-five people and wounded hundreds of others. The incident remains the worst terrorist attack in Argentina's history. Below, please find the full text of Pope Francis' Message in English.  ******************************* On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the tragedy at the AMIA, I would like to express my solidarity with the Jewish community of Argentina and with all the family members of the victims, be they Jews or Christians. I t is now 20 years since this tragedy, since this lunacy happened. Terrorism is lunacy. Terrorism’s only purpose is to kill. It does not build anything, it only destroys. For this reason, I stand side-by-side with all those who have seen lives cut short, hopes destroyed, and ruin. I have said that Buenos Aires is a city that needs to cry, that still hasn’t cried enough. Even if it is commonplace, I repeat: We need to cry. We tend to archive things in order not to burden ourselves with history, with suffering, with things that could have been beautiful but weren’t.  And therefore, it costs us a lot to find ways to reach justice, to face the damage this tragedy has inflicted upon society.  Today, together with my solidarity and my prayers for all the victims, comes my desire for justice. May justice be done! God bless you all, the institutions and the families. And may God give peace to all those who died in this act of lunacy. (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope prays for Malaysia Airlines victims in Ukraine

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 12:01
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is praying for the victims of the deadly incident in Ukraine involving a Malaysia Airlines passenger plane. A statement from the Press Office of the Holy See reads: " The Holy Father, Pope Francis has learned with dismay of the tragedy of the Malaysian Airlines aircraft downed in east Ukraine, a region marked by high tensions. He raises prayers for the numerous victims of the incident and for their relatives, and renews his heartfelt appeal to all parties in the conflict to seek peace and solutions through dialogue, in order to avoid further loss of innocent human lives." (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pontifical Dialogue Council sends Ramadan Message

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 08:53
(Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue has sent a Message to Muslims to mark the conclusion of the month of Ramadan. The theme of the Message is: Towards a Genuine Fraternity between Muslims and Christians . “Our contemporary world faces grave challenges which call for solidarity on the part of all people of good will,” writes the Council’s President, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, noting threats to the environment, the crisis of the global economy and high levels of unemployment – particularly youth unemployment – as some of those challenges. Click below to hear our report The Message goes on to cite also the problems faced by so many families which have been separated, leaving behind loved ones and often small children. “Let us work together,” writes Cardinal Tauran, “to build bridges of peace and promote reconciliation especially in areas where Muslims and Christians together suffer the horror of war,” and, “may our friendship inspire us always to cooperate in facing these many challenges with wisdom and prudence.” The Message concludes with an appeal, saying, that facing such challenges effectively will help to diminish tension and conflict, and advance the common good, as well as demonstrate that religions can be a source of harmony for the benefit of society as a whole. “Let us pray,” the Message closes, “that reconciliation, justice, peace and development will remain uppermost among our priorities, for the welfare and good of the whole human family. Together with Pope Francis, we are happy to send you our cordial best wishes for a joyful celebration and a life of prosperity in peace.” (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis to visit Catholics and Evangelicals in Caserta

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 08:28
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis will visit the southern Italian city of Caserta later this month to meet with both Catholic and Evangelical leaders there. Fr Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See’s press office, announced on Thursday that the Pope will travel by helicopter to the city on the afternoon of Saturday July 26th for a meeting with the clergy of the diocese, followed by an open-air Mass in front of the famous Royal Palace known as the Reggia di Caserta. Listen to our report   On Saturday evening Pope Francis will return to the Vatican but on Monday the 28th he will travel down to the city again for a private visit with the leader of the Italy’s Evangelical Church of Reconciliation, Rev. Giovanni Traettino. Pope Francis became friends with the Pentecostal pastor when, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he took part in ecumenical events alongside Catholics from the charismatic renewal movement. The then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, along with Traettino and Capuchin Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, were the principal speakers at a large ecumenical charismatic gathering in the Argentinian capital in 2006. Last month, the Pope met privately with a group of evangelical pastors and televangelists at his Vatican residence. The Catholic bishop of Caserta, Giovanni D’Avise spoke to Vatican Radio following the announcement of the visit, saying that although 9 days is not long to prepare for a papal visit, the people of the diocese will welcome the Holy Father with joy and gratitude. Bishop D’Avise said Pope Francis will be celebrating Mass to mark the feast day of St Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary and co-patron of the city of Caserta. (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

THE HOLY FATHER TELEPHONES SHIMON PERES AND MAHMOUD ABBAS: SEEK AN END TO HOSTILITIES

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 06:13
Vatican City, 18 July 2014 (VIS) – Following last Sunday’s heartfelt appeal for continued prayer for peace in the Holy Land, this morning the Holy Father Francis personally telephoned President Shimon Peres of Israel and President Mahmoud Abbas of Palestine to share his very serious concerns regarding the current situation of conflict involving in particular the Gaza Strip which, in a climate of growing hostility, hatred and suffering for the two populations, is claiming many victims and giving rise to a serious humanitarian emergency. As during his recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land and on the occasion of the invocation for peace on 8 June, the Holy Father assured them of his ceaseless prayer, and that of all the Church, for peace in the Holy Land. He reminded the presidents, whom he considers to be men of peace and seekers of peace, of the need to continue to pray and endeavour to ensure that all the interested parties and those who hold political office at local and international level work to bring an end to hostilities, making efforts to promote truce, peace and reconciliation in the hearts of those involved....

The Vatican Observatory's Br. Guy Consolmagno wins Carl Sagan Medal

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 06:00
(Vatican Radio) This year’s Carl Sagan Medal, presenter by the American Astronomical Society (AAS), has been awarded to Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ, of the Vatican Observatory. The Division for Planetary Sciences of the AAS, upon announcing the award, said Consolmagno “occupies a unique position within our profession as a credible spokesperson for scientific honesty within the context of religious belief.” The AAS made a special note of his book “Turn Left at Orion,” which “has had an enormous impact on the amateur astronomy community, engendering public support for astronomy.” “As a Jesuit Brother, Guy has become the voice of the juxtaposition of planetary science and astronomy with Christian belief, a rational spokesperson who can convey exceptionally well how religion and science can co-exist for believers,” the AAS wrote. This award will be presented to Brother Consolmagno at the 46th annual meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences in Tucson, Arizona, in November. The Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope, operated by the Vatican Observatory, is located nearby, in southeastern Arizona's Pinaleno Mountains near Mount Graham. (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Vatican sends message to Muslim world for end of Ramadan

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 06:00
(Vatican Radio) The Pontifical Council for Inter-religious dialogue had sent a message to leaders of the Muslim world on the occasion of the religious festival of Id al-Fitr, which marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan Below please find the full text of the message signed by Council president,  Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran. “Towards a Genuine Fraternity between Christians and Muslims” Dear Muslim Brothers and Sisters, It gives us great joy to offer you our heartfelt congratulations and good wishes on the occasion of 'Id al-Fitr at the conclusion of Ramadan, a month dedicated to fasting, prayer and helping the poor. Last year, the first year of his ministry, Pope Francis personally signed the Message addressed to you on the occasion of ‘Id al-Fitr. On another occasion, he also called you “our brothers and sisters” (Angelus, 11 August 2013). We all can recognize the full significance of these words. In fact, Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters in the one human family, created by the One God. Let us recall what Pope John Paul II said to Muslim religious leaders in 1982: "All of us, Christians and Muslims, live under the sun of the one merciful God. We both believe in one God who is the creator of man. We acclaim God's sovereignty and we defend man's dignity as God's servant. We adore God and profess total submission to him. Thus, in a true sense, we can call one another brothers and sisters in faith in the one God." (Kaduna, Nigeria, 14 February 1982). We thank the Almighty for what we have in common, while remaining aware of our differences. We perceive the importance of promoting a fruitful dialogue built upon mutual respect and friendship. Inspired by our shared values and strengthened by our sentiments of genuine fraternity, we are called to work together for justice, peace and respect for the rights and dignity of every person. We feel responsible in a particular way for those most in need: the poor, the sick, orphans, immigrants, victims of human trafficking, and those suffering from any kind of addiction. As we know, our contemporary world faces grave challenges which call for solidarity on the part of all people of good will. These include threats to the environment, the crisis of the global economy and high levels of unemployment particularly among young people. Such situations give rise to a sense of vulnerability and a lack of hope for the future. Let us also not forget the problems faced by so many families which have been separated, leaving behind loved ones and often small children. Let us work together, then, to build bridges of peace and promote reconciliation especially in areas where Muslims and Christians together suffer the horror of war. May our friendship inspire us always to cooperate in facing these many challenges with wisdom and prudence. In this way we will help to diminish tension and conflict, and advance the common good. We will also demonstrate that religions can be a source of harmony for the benefit of society as a whole. Let us pray that reconciliation, justice, peace and development will remain uppermost among our priorities, for the welfare and good of the whole human family. Together with Pope Francis, we are happy to send you our cordial best wishes for a joyful celebration and a life of prosperity in peace. From the Vatican, 24 June 2014 Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran President Father Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, MCCJ Secretary _  (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

Card. de Aviz urges Australia’s religious to “Wake up the World”

Fri, 07/18/2014 - 02:56
(Vatican Radio) Australia’s Consecrated Religious are gathered in Melbourne for their National Assembly focusing on the theme “Living on the Fault Lines- Leading in a Climate of Change”.  The Assembly of representatives from more than 180 congregations of Sisters, Brothers and Religious Priests living and working in all states and territories, was addressed by Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. In his lengthy address, the Cardinal focused on new ways of being religious in today’s world.  He said that while in some areas vocations to religious and consecrated life were dramatically diminishing – such as Australia – in others they were flourishing.  Here, he mentioned Asia, Africa and Latin America in particular. The Cardinal added : “It is true, however, that even in the midst of these signs of vitality of the  consecrated life there is a search for something deeper that goes beyond the experiences of consecration as we have known it hitherto. There is a waiting for something new, for something consonant with the current culture  and sensitive to the values most deeply felt by men and women of our day”. Cardinal Aziz concluded “Concretely, the consecrated life today has before it a possible road for  conferring on the world its deepest meaning: namely, that of building up these relations that embody  the DNA of our God-Love  –  amongst its members, between Institutes, each one with the others, with the other realities of the Church,  with every man and woman in the various fields of human life (political, economic, educational, health, the arts…). In this sense, we recall that  to make the credible proclamation of Christ possible today it is not  enough for us to possess a moral code, to have a received spiritual inheritance  or an ideology.  What is necessary is the communitarian testimony of the spirituality of communion that Pope Saint John Paul II prophesied would be the strength of the Church in the new millennium (cf. NMI 43-45). I think that we, as consecrated men and women today, can respond to the challenges that the present time offers us and realize the program Pope Francis has traced for us: “Wake up the world!”  The full text of Cardinal João Braz de Aviz’s address is available clicking here . (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

POPE TO VISIT CASERTA ON SATURDAY 26 AND MONDAY 28 JULY

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 05:54
Vatican City, 17 July 2014 (VIS) – Pope Francis will visit the city of Italian city of Caserta on 26 and 28 July, the Holy See Press Office confirmed today. In the afternoon of Saturday 26, upon invitation by the bishop of the diocese Giovanni D'Avise, he will meet with the Catholics of the city and celebrate the Mass of St. Ann, probably in the park of the Royal Palace of Caserta. The Holy Father will return to the Vatican that night and on Sunday 27 he will pray the Angelus with the faithful in St. Peter's Square, as usual. On Monday, 28 July, he will return to Caserta to pay a private visit to his friend, the Protestant pastor Giovanni Traettino, and his community....

Preparations continue ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Korea

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 05:33
(Vatican Radio) There is less than a month to go until Pope Francis begins his visit to South Korea from August 13-18. Among the highlights of the visit are the Holy Father’s scheduled meeting with young people in the context of the 6 th Asian Youth Day celebrations, the beatification of 124 Korean martyrs, and a Mass of reconciliation. The spokesman for the Archdiocese of Seoul, South Korea, Fr. Hur Young-yup, told Vatican Radio the level of excitement is rising along with the pace of preparations. “It can be said that Korea is a country that symbolizes the world’s need of peace and reconciliation,” said Fr. Hur. “The Holy Father is coming as a shepherd to meet the people,” he continued, adding, “he is also coming to meet the young people of Asia.” Click below to listen to Fr. Hur Young-yup's extended remarks Fr. Hur went on to say that the Holy Father’s visit will resonate with all people of good will. “The visit of the Holy Father,” he said, “[will] bring an important message of hope and peace.” The website of the visit is available in English and Korean, and contains information on the events, prayer vigils and liturgical celebrations. It is available at: http://popekorea.catholic.or.kr/en/ (From archive of Vatican Radio)...

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