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Pope to contemplative nuns: The Church needs you!

Fri, 07/22/2016 - 06:08
(Vatican Radio) The Vatican on Friday published a new Apostolic Constitution, Vultum Dei quaerere (Seeking the Face of God), On Women’s Contemplative Life. The promotion of an adequate formation; the centrality of prayer and of the word of God, especially in lectio divina ; specific criteria for the autonomy of contemplative communities; and membership of monasteries within federations are some of the main points addressed by Pope Francis in the new Apostolic Constitution. In the introduction to Vultum Dei quaerere , Pope Francis explains the motivation behind the document, noting the journey the Church has undergone, and “the rapid progress of human history,” in the fifty years since the Second Vatican Council. From that starting point, the Pope points out the need “to weave a dialogue” with contemporary society, while preserving the “fundational values” of contemplative life – silence, attentive listening, the call to an interior life, stability. Through these values, the Pope says, contemplative life “can and must challenge the contemporary mindset.” The document is introduced by a broad discussion of the importance of nuns and the contemplative life for the Church and the world. Addressing contemplative sisters, the Pope asks, “Without you what would the Church be like, or those living on the fringes of humanity and ministering in the outposts of evangelization?” The Church, he says, “greatly esteems your life of complete self-giving.  The Church counts on your prayers and on your self-sacrifice to bring today’s men and women to the good news of the Gospel.  The Church needs you!” The bulk of the document is taken up with a reflection on twelve themes calling for discernment and renewed norms. Among these, Pope Francis calls special attention to the need for adequate formation, to prayer, and to the centrality of the Word of God. The new document concludes with a series of fourteen articles that set the Pope’s reflections in juridical terms, notably with regard to formation and vocational discernment; the exercise of authority within communities; the autonomy of the various communities; and their relationships to one another – especially in federations. The final article establishes that the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life will be responsible for issuing new regulations with regard to the indications of the Apostolic Constitution. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope's envoy in South Sudan in pursuit of peace-building

Thu, 07/21/2016 - 11:13
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a special envoy to South Sudan to urge for an end to violence in the country and to help establish dialogue and trust between the warring parties. Cardinal Peter Turkson , president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, travelled to the capital Juba this week to give support to the Archbishop and to meet with the country’s leaders. He carried with him a letter from the Pope for President Salva Kiir and one for Vice President Riek Machar who are historic enemies and represent the different ethnic groups. For almost a year, South Sudan has been trying to emerge from a civil war caused by political rivalry between the Vice President and the President.  Violent clashes across the city have left tens of thousands of people dead since December 2013 and a recent flare-up of fighting has caused more casualties, scores of displaced people and a serious humanitarian crisis. Although a cease-fire is currently in effect in Juba, the threat of more violence continues to loom large. Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni asked Cardinal Turkson to illustrate the current situation and talk about the Church’s effort to push forward a peaceful process. Listen : Cardinal Peter Turkson says he arrived in Juba last Sunday early enough to celebrate Mass with the faithful, the Archbishop, the priests and the religious. “To put it mildly: the situation is tough” he says. He says the violence which flared on the 5th anniversary of the country’s independence recurs intermittently between the warring forces causing a lot of deaths.  And, he explained, it is also very hard on the civilian population who flee the violence to save their lives leaving their homes to be looted. occupied or destroyed. “A lot of the women and children and even boys have sought refuge in Churches and in schools – and that is where they live – and the priests and brothers and nuns try to take care of them as best as they can” he says. But Turkson says the situation is desperate and security levels are low. He says the authorities he has met with have promised to do their best to put a programme of reform on course towards elections in 2018.  Turkson explains that the process has been derailed by recent events but the President maintains the course can be resumed. “We brought them the greetings of the Pope, his solidarity, two letters he had addressed to the President and to the Vice President – the two protagonists of the conflict” he says. The Cardinal says his own effort was “to try to get them to come together at some point, to see if we could facilitate a reconciliation, to help them build some trust and confidence in each other”. Turkson also speaks of the urgent need for help and says he has already contacted Cor Unum in Rome to see what assistance can be organized in terms of medication. He explains that the displaced population is living in the open and in classrooms and are victims of mosquito bites so there is malaria, dysentery, “there’s even talk about cholera in some areas”. “So there’s a need for medication and there’s a need for food supplies” he says. Cardinal Turkson concludes expressing his hope that upon his return to Rome later this week it will be possible to send some concrete aid back to the archbishop “as a help from the side of the Holy See”.                               (from Vatican Radio)...

Fr Lombardi briefs journalists on Papal WYD trip

Wed, 07/20/2016 - 09:48
(Vatican Radio) The upcoming visit of Pope Francis to Poland for World Youth Day celebrations in Krakow was the subject of a detailed briefing for journalists in the Press Office of the Holy See on Wednesday, conducted by the Press Office’s outgoing Director, Fr. Federico Lombardi, SJ. Essentially, the briefing was an in-depth look at the Holy Father’s published schedule for the three-day visit to the native land of his predecessor, Pope St. John Paul II, who began the World Youth Day tradition in 1986. One issue that emerged session was that of security, and especially of the “atmosphere” surrounding the event. “All the messages I’ve seen seem sincere and are of tranquility,” said Fr. Lombardi. “There are no particular concerns in Poland over security,” he added. Fr. Lombardi also said that he has not heard of any groups withdrawing due to security concerns. “It seems to me,” he said, regarding the general atmpsphere, “to be a climate of great normality and tranquility.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Schedule of Pope’s Assisi pilgrimage released

Wed, 07/20/2016 - 06:34
(Vatican Radio) More details have been released about Pope Francis’ upcoming pilgrimage for the eighth centenary of Franciscan feast of the “Pardon of Assisi.” On 4 Aug, the Pope will make a private pilgrimage to Assisi , a small medieval town in the Italian region of Umbria known for being the birthplace of the Franciscan order. While there, he will pray in the Porziuncola chapel, where the feast of the “Pardon of Assisi” originated. According to new details released on the local website for the Franciscan order , the Holy Father will arrive in Assisi by helicopter at 3:40pm. At 4pm, he will arrive at the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels, inside which the small Porziuncola chapel is located. There, he will take a moment of silent prayer in the chapel, before offering a reflection on the Gospel of Matthew 18:21-35. Afterwards, Pope Francis will meet with Franciscan bishops and superiors, and then will greet pilgrims gathered in the piazza outside the basilica. At 6pm, the Pope will be taken by car to the Migaghelli sports field, before travelling back to the Vatican via helicopter. Over the course of his short visit, the Pope will be received by several local religious authorities, including Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino of Assisi-Nocera, Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor Fr Michael Anthony Perry, and provincial minister of the Friars Minor of Umbria, Fr Claudio Durighetto. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope sends video message to WYD participants and to the Polish nation

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 14:09
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent his personal greetings to young people from throughout the world gathering in Krakow for World Youth Day and to all the people of the “beloved Polish nation” as he prepares to travel to Poland next week. Listen to Ann Schneible's report: The Pope’s 15th apostolic journey abroad , from 27 to 31 July, will take him to Krakow where the 31st WYD is being held, to Czestochowa and to the former Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. Please find below the full text of the Pope's video message: Dear Brothers and Sisters,     The 31st World Youth Day is fast approaching.  I look forward to meeting the young people from throughout the world gathered in Kraków and having the opportunity to meet the beloved Polish nation.  My entire visit will be inspired by Mercy during this Jubilee Year, and by the grateful and blessed memory of Saint John Paul II, who instituted the World Youth Days and was the guide of the Polish people in its recent historic journey towards freedom.     Dear young people of Poland, I know that for some time now you have been preparing, especially with your prayers, for this great encounter in Kraków.  I thank you heartily for everything that you have done, and for the love with which you have done it.  Even now I embrace you and I bless you.     Dear young people from throughout Europe, Africa, America, Asia and Oceania!  I also bless your countries, your hopes and your journey to Kraków, praying that it will be a pilgrimage of faith and fraternity.  May the Lord Jesus grant you the grace to experience personally his words: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Mt 5:7).     I am very anxious to meet you and to offer the world a new sign of harmony, a mosaic of different faces, from many races, languages, peoples and cultures, but all united in the name of Jesus, who is the Face of Mercy.     I now turn to you, dear sons and daughters of the Polish nation!  For me, it is a great gift of the Lord to visit you.  You are a nation that throughout its history has experienced so many trials, some particularly difficult, and has persevered through the power of faith, upheld by the maternal hands of the Virgin Mary. I am certain that my pilgrimage to the shrine of Czestochowa will immerse me in this proven faith and do me so much good.  I thank you for your prayers in preparation for my visit.  I thank the bishops and priests, the men and women religious, and the lay faithful, especially families, to whom I will symbolically bring the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia.  The moral and spiritual “health” of a nation is seen in its families.  That is why Saint John Paul II showed such great concern for engaged couples, young married couples and families.  Continue along this road!     Dear brothers and sisters, I send you this message as a pledge of my affection.  Let us keep close to one another in prayer.  I look forward to seeing you in Poland! (from Vatican Radio)...

Holy See addresses UN Trade and Development meeting

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 06:30
(Vatican Radio) The Holy See has addressed the XIV Ministerial Conference of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The full text of the intervention is below.   Intervention of H.E. Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva at the XIV Ministerial Conference of UNCTAD Nairobi, 19th July 2016 Mr. President,   At the outset, the Holy See wishes to thank warmly the Government of Kenya  and  the  city  of  Nairobi  for hosting  this Ministerial  Conference.  The  theme  “From  Decision  to  Action:  moving  toward  an  inclusive  and  equitable  global  economic  environment for trade and development” clearly signals the ambition and intent we  must bring to the attention of the international community. 1.  The  Holy  See  strongly  supported  the  original  aspiration  of  UNCTAD which aimed at creating a global trading system supporting the development of poor  countries:  a  system  able  to  promote  the  rebalancing  of  international  economic  relations  to  promote  justice  and  equity,  to  promote  social  progress  and  better  standards of life in  greater freedom, to create a better and more effective system of  international economic cooperation, as part of a new and just global economic order  whereby the division of the world into areas of poverty and plenty may be overcome and  prosperity  achieved  by  all.  This  system  facilitates  regional  trade  and  corrects imbalances  between  different  trade  partners,  with  special  concern  for  trade  in  raw  materials and food. The  last  conference  in  Doha  took  place  during  a  critical  phase  of  the  world  economic  crisis  which  left  many  governments  struggling  to  offset  the  effects  of  financial retrenchments in  banks, businesses  and households as they seek to correct their  balance  sheets.  In  this  context,  many  developed  economies  have  turned  to  “unconventional” monetary policy instruments in efforts at recovery. 2.  The  trade  slowdown  of  the  last  three  years  has  been  widespread  across  most of the developing and developed countries. Average trade growth rates for all  regions  are  now  very  low  and  just  a  fraction  of  what  they  were  in  the  pre-crisis  period. The reasons for the ongoing trade slowdown are to be found in a variety of  factors. While some of these factors are likely to have only temporary effects and  are  possible  cyclical  in  nature,  others  are  likely  to  be  more  long  lasting  and  related  to  structural shifts. As usual, it is very  difficult to make predictions, but there are still  valid  reasons  to  believe  that trade growth  in  the  future  will  be  driven  by  different  factors than in the past. This implies that developing countries willing to benefit from  international  trade  should  be  ready  to  adapt  their  trade  strategies  by  taking  into  account some of the recent changes in trends in international trade. Economic  and  financial  actors,  both  at  the  international  and  national  levels,  need to recognize that economic activities  function not  only through self-regulation  of  the  market  and  agreements  limited  to  reconciling  the  interests  of  the  most  powerful countries, but they need also to take into account that they are at the service  of  persons  who  work  and  contribute  to  development.  Most  importantly  any  development and growth strategy needs  to be centred on the human person and on  the  primacy  of  human  work.  The  Holy  See  believes  that  in  order  to  achieve  this  result  it  is  of  primary  importance  to  integrate  the  different  social  and  economic dimensions of development,  so as  to create an international system balanced on an  idea of  development that would  be truly sustainable,  inclusive and equitable at all  levels. 3.  In  this  sense,  agriculture  plays  a  crucial  role  in  the  economy  of  poor  countries: it accounts for more than one fourth of  the  GDP and more than a third of  employment,  reaching  more  than  50%  in  the  poorest  countries.  Promoting  agricultural  productivity  is  important  for  several  reasons.  First,  it  addresses  the  problem of food insecurity which still plagues a large part of the population of LDCs.  Despite  the  recent  improvement  in  economic  conditions  throughout  the  world  hunger is still claiming too many lives among the poorest Agricultural development is also crucial in terms of  global sustainability. It is  well known that in developing countries there is a high concentration of forest and  ecosystems  that  are  crucial  for  ecological  development.  In  these  countries  agricultural  production  is  intimately  linked  with  natural  resources  exploitation,  deforestation and biodiversity preservation. The opportunity to combine agricultural  development  with  ecological  sustainability  has  too  enormous  stakes  and  consequences for the entire planet for it not to be considered a priority action. In  this  respect,  trade  can  be  an  important  channel  for  fostering  agricultural  development in local communities;  moreover,  the development of small farmers and  small  producers  could  be  vital  not  only  in  reducing  poverty  but  also  in  providing  new ways for preserving local ecosystems.  In the agricultural sector there is in fact  the  danger  that  its  development  could  ultimately  damage  small  farmers.  Civil  authorities have the right and duty to adopt clear and firm measures in support of  small producers and differentiated production 4.  The  international  trading  system  is  regulated  by  an  increasing  number  of  preferential trade agreements  (PTAs). Most of the recent trade agreements address  not  only  goods  but  also  services,  and  deal  with  rules  beyond  reciprocal  tariff  concessions.  The Holy See strongly stresses the importance of recognising a primacy  of multilateral agreements over bilateral and regional ones. Despite its limits and its  complexity,  the  multilateral  framework  gives  pluralism  a  universal  dimension  and  facilitates an inclusive dialogue.  More  specifically  in  a  multilateral  framework  weaker  and  smaller  countries  are better safeguarded than in a regional and bilateral setting where the counterparts  are  large  and  strong  countries.  In  such  asymmetric  settings  advanced  economies  inevitably have more bargaining power with respect to LDCs, with the result that the  latter are not fully able to benefit  from the agreements. 5.  The  issue  of  foreign  debt  and  the  alleviation  of  the  debt  burden  for  poor  countries  remain  a  major  concern  for  the  Holy  See.  In  fact  the  Holy  Father  has  recently  made  an  appeal  to  the  leaders  of  nations  to  “to  forgive  or  manage  in  a  sustainable  way  the  international  debt  of  the  poorer  nations” The  debt  of  developing countries must be placed in a broader context of economic, political and  technological  relations  which  has  brought  an  increased  interdependence  between  countries,  as  well  as  the  need  for  international  collaboration  in  pursuing  the  objectives of the common good. This interdependence should give rise to a new and  broader concept of solidarity that respect the equal dignity of all peoples, rather than  leading  to  domination  by  the  strongest,  national  self-interest,  inequalities  and  injustices.  As  Pope  Francis  stated,  “It  must  never  be  forgotten  that  political  and  economic  activity  is  only  effective  when  it  is  understood  as  a  prudential  activity,  guided  by  a  perennial  concept  of  justice  and  constantly  conscious  of  the  fact  that,  above  and  beyond  our  plans  and  programs,  we  are  dealing  with  real  men  and  women who live, struggle and suffer, and are often forced to live in great poverty,  deprived of all rights.” The  Addis  Ababa  Action  Agenda  (AAAA)  provides  a   clear  mandate  to  address  the  vulture  funds  problem  The  role  of  UNCTAD  in  helping  developing  countries  to  attain  such  long-term  debt  sustainability  has  been  of  great  importance  and  will  remain  indispensable  for  the  foreseeable  future.  In  this  sense,  it  is  crucial  that UNCTAD continues its research and analysis of the international financial and  monetary  system  and  price  volatility  of  commodities  and  it  should  propose  recommendations  to  address  the  problems  in  financial  markets  that  result  in macroeconomic instability, distortions of international trade and increased levels of  poverty and inequality. In conclusion Mr. President, 6.  The  international  community  should  use  this  Conference  outcome  document as an instrument also to promote innovative economic policies, to support  the  development  of  agricultural  sector  in  poor  areas  and  to  promote  the  SME  participation in global and South-South trade. These policies need adequately fund  through  development  aid,  aimed  at  fulfilling  the  needs  of  the  poorest  and  marginalized segments of the world population. Given the productive, technological  and scientific capacities  of the world economy in the 21st century, the  international  community cannot  wait until the end of the current global economic crisis, or until the  transition  of  least  developing  countries  into  emerging  economies,  in  order  to  fulfill the fundamental human rights that millions of people are still not enjoying,  in  particular, but not exclusively, in Africa. 7.  The Holy See believes that this Conference should therefore aim at a high  level of ambition and should focus on how the international community will ensure  that  UNCTAD  plays  its  full  and  meaningful  role  in  supporting  the  new  global  development agenda, with a particular attention to the needs of poor countries and  of  the  poor  people.  UNCTAD  XIV  should  address  the  contemporary  needs  and  priorities  of  developing  countries  in  the  current  volatile  and  unbalanced  global  environment.  As stated by Pope Francis,  It is important that ethics once again play its  due  part  in  the  world  of  finance  and  that  markets  serve  the  interests  of  peoples  and  the  common good of humanity In fact, we should reaffirm that  an essential ingredient for  an  enabling  international  environment  for  development  is  a  healthy  and  positive  approach to the issue of good global governance. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis to Dominicans: embody mercy in life

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 05:59
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegram to the Master General of the Order of Preachers – the Dominicans – who are currently holding the General Chapter of Priors Provincial in the central Italian city of Bologna. The General Chapter of Priors General is the second of three specific kinds of General Chapters, each being held at three-year intervals for a 9-year cycle that ends with the election of a new Master General. The sequence begins with General Chapter of delegates – called “diffinitors” in Dominican parlance; then the General Chapter of Priors Provincial; and then, the Elective General Chapter. This General Chapter of Priors Provincial is taking place in the context of the 800 th anniversary of the confirmation of the Order under Pope Honorius III, and in the middle of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. In his telegram, signed by the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis expresses the hope that all Dominicans find the spiritual wherewithal to rededicate themselves to the charism and legacy of St Dominic their Founder, who was, “a tireless apostle of grace and forgiveness, compassionate towards the poor and an ardent defender of truth.” The Holy Father also calls on all Dominicans, saying, “Testify to mercy, professing it and embodying it in life.” Click below to hear our report Pope Francis’ telegram concludes with an exhortation to the whole Dominican family and all its members to be signs of the nearness and tenderness of God, that society might in this day rediscover the urgency of solidarity, love, and forgiveness. Please find the full text of the English translation prepared by the Dominicans, below *********************************************** R BRUNO CADORE, OP MASTER GENERAL ORDER OF PREACHERS CONVENTO SANTA SABINA PIAZZA PIETRO D'ILLIRIA, 1 00153 ROMA ON THE OCCASION OF THE GENERAL CHAPTER OF THE PRIORS PROVINCIAL OF THE ORDER OF PREACHERS, TAKING PLACE IN BOLOGNA, IN THE CONTEXT OF THE EXTRAORDINARY JUBILEE YEAR OF MERCY AND OF THE EIGHT HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE CONFIRMATION OF THE ORDER BY POPE HONORIUS III, HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS, IN SENDING HIS CORDIAL AND GOOD WISHES, INVOKES THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, RECALLING THAT MERCY IS THE PILLAR THAT SUPPORTS THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH. ALL OF ITS PASTORAL ACTION MUST BE EMBRACED BY TENDERNESS AND NOTHING OF ITS PROCLAMATION OR WITNESS BEFORE THE WORLD CAN BE WITHOUT MERCY. THE CREDIBILITY OF THE CHURCH COMES THROUGH THE PATH OF MERCIFUL AND COMPASSIONATE LOVE WHICH GIVES NEW LIFE AND THE COURAGE TO LOOK TO THE FUTURE WITH HOPE. THE HOLY FATHER WISHES THAT ALL WHO FOLLOW THE CHARISM OF SAINT DOMINIC - TIRELESS APOSTLE OF GRACE AND FORGIVENESS, COMPASSIONATE TOWARDS THE POOR AND AN ARDENT DEFENDER OF TRUTH - SHOULD TESTIFY TO MERCY, PROFESSING IT AND EMBODYING IT IN LIFE, AND SHOULD BE SIGNS OF THE NEARNESS AND TENDERNESS OF GOD, SO THAT SOCIETY TODAY MIGHT REDISCOVER THE URGENCY OF SOLIDARITY, LOVE AND FORGIVENESS. WHILE REQUESTING YOUR PRAYERS TO SUPPORT HIS PETRINE MINISTRY, HE, THROUGH THE INTERCESSION OF OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY AND OF ALL THE SAINTS OF THE DOMINICAN FAMILY, IMPARTS TO YOU, AS WELL AS TO ALL THE CAPITULAR FRIARS, THE REQUESTED APOSTOLIC BLESSING, EXTENDING IT GLADLY TO THE ENTIRE ORDER. FROM THE VATICAN, 15 JULY 2016 CARDINAL PIETRO PAROLIN SECRETARY OF STATE OF THE HOLY FATHER (from Vatican Radio)...

Holy See: Trafficking of children is "abominable"

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 04:45
(Vatican Radio) The Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, has told the United Nations the trafficking of children is “abominable.” “While human trafficking always exploits the vulnerable, the trafficking of children and youth exploits those most vulnerable of all, something that not only exposes the evil of trafficking in all its repulsive ugliness but something that likewise makes abundantly clear the urgent call for everyone to rise up to protect children, youth and everyone from those who would enslave and dehumanize them in these ways,” he said.   The full text of the intervention is below   Elimination The Trafficking Of Children And Youth By H. E. Archbishop Bernardito Auza Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations Remarks of Archbishop Bernardito Auza Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations Eliminating the Trafficking of Children and Youth United Nations, New York July 13, 2016   Your Excellencies, Distinguished Panelists, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Holy See has long spoken out against the evil of human trafficking, forced labor and all forms of modern slavery. And through the dedicated work of so many Catholic religious institutes, national and diocesan programs, and groups of faithful the Catholic Church has sought to fight to address its various causes, care for those it victimizes, wake people up to the scourge, and work with anyone and everyone to try to eliminate it. The Second Vatican Council, St. John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI all spoke out passionately and forcefully against the infamy of human trafficking and the widespread hedonistic and commercial culture that encourages this systematic exploitation of human dignity and rights. Pope Francis has taken the Church’s advocacy and action to another level through his aggressive and incessant denunciation of this social cancer.  He dedicated part of his address to the UN General Assembly to it. He wrote about it in his encyclical Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Homeand in his pastoral plan for the New Evangelization entitled The Joy of the Gospel. He devoted the entirety of his 2015 Message for the World Day of Peace to the subject, making it a key priority of international diplomacy for the Holy See. He has spoken about it to newly accredited diplomats, to international religious leaders, to an alliance of international police chiefs and Church leaders, to social scientists and scholars, to mayors from across the globe, to judges and to various conferences throughout the world. And he hasn’t merely been talking: He’s been taking action, catalyzing the Holy See’s hosting conferences, spearheading the 2014 Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders against Modern Slavery and willed the creation of the Santa Marta Group, named after his residence in the Vatican, which brings together Catholic leaders and international law enforcement officials to battle this scourge. His essential message has been that we are dealing with an “open wound on the body of contemporary society,” “a crime against humanity,” and an “atrocious scourge” that is occurring in many of our own neighborhoods.  We cannot remain indifferent before the knowledge that human beings are being bought and sold like objects, even assaulted and killed like abused animals, and that we must together address the economic, environmental, political, anthropological and ethical components of the crisis. When he was here at the UN last September, he called for “concrete steps and immediate measures for … putting an end as quickly as possible to the phenomenon of … human trafficking, … the sexual exploitation of boys and girls, [and] slave labor, including prostitution,” stressing, “We need to ensure that our institutions are truly effective in the struggle against all these scourges.” Toward this end, he said that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development was “an important sign of hope,” insofar as it focused, in three different targets, the attention and commitment of the world to confront this plague. In Targets 5.2 and 8.7, the international community committed itself to “eliminate all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres, including trafficking and sexual and other types of exploitation,” and “take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking.” Those are important steps forward and, together with the Santa Marta Group, the Holy See sponsored on April 7th a very well-attended conference to try to concretize this work. In today’s conference, we want to focus in a particular way on the third commitment relating to eliminating modern slavery, Target 16.2, which obliges the international community to “end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children” by 2030. The trafficking of anyone, no matter what age, is a crime against humanity. But there is something particularly abominable about submitting children to these barbarities. As a Christian and a Catholic bishop, I cannot fail to recall how Jesus reserves his strongest condemnation for those who hurt children, saying that it would be better for such violators to have a millstone tied around their neck and thrown into the depth of the sea than to face God’s judgment for such deeds (Mt 18:6). Jesus said this because he knows that children are particularly vulnerable and owed a higher level of loving protection. While human trafficking always exploits the vulnerable, the trafficking of children and youth exploits those most vulnerable of all, something that not only exposes the evil of trafficking in all its repulsive ugliness but something that likewise makes abundantly clear the urgent call for everyone to rise up to protect children, youth and everyone from those who would enslave and dehumanize them in these ways. On behalf of the Holy Father Pope Francis and in my own name, I thank you for coming this afternoon to show solidarity with the children who are victims of trafficking in persons and to express the strongest condemnation possible of this crime. This conference will seek to make real the faces of the nearly two million children and youth who are presently being trafficked and speak about what’s working, what’s not working, and what needs to be done to free them, help them recover, and prevent other young people from suffering as they have. We have a powerful program today. We will hear from someone who was trafficked as a child and is now helping to liberate and care for other survivors. We’ll hear from someone who in her powerful advocacy for victims has interviewed hundreds and will be presenting what she’s learned from their compelling stories. We’ll hear from top experts from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the International Labour Organization about the big picture and what’s being done at an international level. And we’ll hear about two particularly troubling dimensions of this crisis: the trafficking of homeless youth and the use of the internet to enslave and traffic the young. I would like to conclude my Remarks with the words that Pope Francis wrote for our April 7 Event on Ending Human Trafficking by 2030 and the Role of Global Partnerships in Eradicating Modern Slavery: “In your discussions,” Pope Francis wrote, “I hope also that you will keep before you the dignity of every person, and recognize in all your endeavors a true service to the poorest and most marginalized of society, who too often are forgotten and have no voice.” Working together with perseverance we can eliminate the trafficking of children and youth and together achieve Target 16.2, to “end abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children” by 2030. Thank you and welcome to this Conference! (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis makes telephone call to Nice authorities

Mon, 07/18/2016 - 10:44
Pope Francis has telephoned leaders of the terror-stricken French city of Nice, asking what he could do to help in the wake of last week’s attack which left 84 people dead and scores wounded. Pope Francis made his call out of the blue on Sunday evening to Paolo Celi, head of "Amitié France-Italie", a national association for Italians living in France, and to Christian Estrosi, mayor of Nice. Celi told Vatican Radio that the Pope called at about 7pm Sunday evening “apologizing because he doesn’t speak French very well”. “The first thing he said to me was, ‘What can I do for you?'” Celi said, recalling the conversation before he connected Francis to Estrosi. Celi said the Pope promised to meet “as soon as possible” with the families of the victims. But, he specified, the date is yet to be set. Speaking to Vatican Radio Estrosi said the Holy Father’s gesture has restored in him the energy he needs to go forward in this situation. Estrosi also said the Pope’s telephone call has been of comfort to thousands of people who are supporting the families of the victims. “The image of all  the flowers, the letters, the toys that have been put on the Promenade to pay tribute to the victims is an image that no one will be able to forget, but the Pope’s words and the comfort he brings alleviates this terrible memory and gives strength and hope to all” he said.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: Jesus answer to "restlessness" in youth

Mon, 07/18/2016 - 07:07
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis sent greetings to an Evangelical Christian gathering which took place on Saturday in Washington, DC. Thousands of people filled the National Mall for the “Together 16” event. In a video-message released before the event, Pope Francis said young people have a “restlessness” in their hearts, and Jesus is the answer. “Young men and women, I know there is something in your heart that moves you. And that makes you restless, because a young person who is not restless is an old person,” Pope Francis said in the message. “And you have youthfulness, and youthfulness breeds restlessness. What is your restlessness? Do you know what it is or do you not know? Do you want to know what your restlessness is?” – the Pope continued – “I invite you to … to find the One who can give you an answer to your restlessness.” “And I assure you, you will not be frustrated. God does not leave anyone disillusioned. Jesus is waiting for you,” – Pope Francis concluded – “He is the One who planted the seeds of restlessness in your heart. Give it a try! You don’t have anything to lose! Try it. Then you can tell me. Thank you!” (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Angelus: Listen and offer welcome to one another

Sun, 07/17/2016 - 07:41
(Vatican Radio)  Before the recitation of the Marian prayer the Holy Father spoke of the importance of hospitality calling it a real Christian virtue, but one which at times the world neglects. He drew his inspiration for this theme from the Sunday Gospel in which St Luke recounts the story of Jesus who is welcomed into the home of two sisters Martha and Mary. They both offer their hospitality in different ways. Martha is busy preparing things while Mary stays to listen to Jesus’ words. When Martha protests that she has to do everything, Jesus reminds her that in order to welcome him many things are not necessary; indeed, only one thing is necessary, said Pope Francis, to listen to Jesus, "show him a fraternal attitude, so he feels what it is like to be part of the family, and not in a temporary shelter. " Putting the Gospel reading in the context of life today, Pope Francis gave an example. He said that there are many people in nursing homes and hospices, but it is not always the place where real hospitality is practiced. "Several institutions that cater to many forms of illness, loneliness, and marginalisation are created, but the chance for those who are foreigners, marginalised, or excluded to find someone willing to listen decreases." He also noted that people are so taken up with the pace of life, with big and small problems that we do not take the time to listen to one another . So at the conclusion of his address the Pope invited people to dedicate more time to listening because he said, the root of peace is in the capacity to listen.     (from Vatican Radio)...

Angelus: Pope Francis prays for Nice victims

Sun, 07/17/2016 - 06:58
(Vatican Radio)  During his Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis recalled the terrible events of last Thursday when a man ploughed a lorry into crowds of people celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France, killing over 80 and injuring many others. Listen to Lydia O'Kane's full report Remembering the loss of innocent lives, many of whom were children, the Pope said, “the pain of the massacre is alive in our hearts”. “I am close to each family and the entire French nation which is in mourning.” He added, “may God, the good Father, welcome all the victims into his peace, support the injured and comfort their families. May he dissolve every project of terror and death, so that man no longer attempts to spill his brother's blood.”   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope on Nice attack: condemns blind violence

Fri, 07/15/2016 - 06:49
Vatican Radio) In a telegram sent on his behalf by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis has condemned the terror attack in Nice and expressed his profound sadness and his spiritual closeness to the French people.  Addressed to the Bishop of Nice Andre Marceau, the telegram noted that whilst France was celebrating its national day “blind violence has once again hit the nation” in the city of Nice whose victims include many children. It said the Pope once again “condemned such acts” and expressed his “profound sadness and his spiritual closeness to the French people.”   The telegram continued by saying that Pope Francis “entrusts to the Mercy of God those who have lost their lives” and he shares “the pain of the bereaved families” and also expressed his sympathy to those wounded.  The Pope concluded by imploring from God the gift of “peace and harmony” and invoking divine blessings on the families affected by this tragedy and all the people of France.    (from Vatican Radio)...

Vatican condemns Nice terrorist attack which kills 84 people

Fri, 07/15/2016 - 02:17
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has condemned the terrorist attack in Nice, France, which on Thursday night killed at least 84 people. “We have followed during the night, with the greatest concern, the terrible news which has come from Nice,” said the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi, SJ. “We want to make known, on the part of Pope Francis and ourselves, our sharing and solidarity in the suffering of the victims and all the French people, in what was supposed to be a great day of celebration,” –Father Lombardi continued – “We condemn in an absolute manner every manifestation of homicidal folly, hatred, terrorism, and attacks against peace.” The terrorist drove a heavy truck at high speeds into a crowd that had just watched a fireworks celebration. The truck was finally stopped after travelling two kilometres, and the driver was killed in a shootout with police. The attack comes eight months and a day after gunmen and suicide bombers from the so-called Islamic State struck Paris on November 13, 2015, killing 130 people.  Four months ago, Belgian Islamists linked to the Paris attackers killed 32 people at a Brussels airport. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis: surprise visit to Commission for Latin America

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 11:58
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis paid a surprise call on the officers and staff of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America on Wednesday. The Holy Father knocked on the door of the Commission’s offices shortly after 9 AM Rome Time Wednesday, saying, “I just thought I’d drop by,” and asking the ranking official on site, prof. Guzmàn Carriquiry, whether he, “had a few minutes to spare for a chat.” After a half hour’s conversation Pope Francis greeted the office workers one-by-one, pausing for photographs – including a few selfies – and sharing some memories of his visits to the Commission when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. The Holy Father decided on the surprise visit after a dental appointment in the Vatican. Having been informed of the complicated security protocols involved in such an impromptu jaunt, Pope Francis responded, “Don’t worry: we’re in God’s hands.” (from Vatican Radio)...

President of Vatican Health Council dies at the age of 67

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 05:31
(Vatican Radio) The President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, died overnight at the age of 67 after a long illness. He was born in Kupienin, Poland, April 7, 1949; and was ordained priest on 25 May 1973. Pope St. John Paul II appointed Zimowski bishop of the Diocese of Radom, Poland, on 28 March 2002; and he was appointed President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers by Pope Benedict XVI on 18 April 2009. In 2014, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. (from Vatican Radio)...

Holy See’s permanent UN observer speaks on Syrian and Palestinian crisis

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 04:16
(Vatican Radio) The halted Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the ongoing Syrian crisis were among the topics touched on by the Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in statement Tuesday. In his statement to the UN Security Council during an open debate on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question,” Archbishop Bernardito Auza reiterated Pope Francis’ denouncement of those responsible for the Syrian crisis, especially those who provide weapons to fighters. “Pope Francis denounces in the strongest possible terms all those responsible, from whichever side of the conflict in Syria they may come, for the senseless slaughter of civilians,” Archbishop Auza said. “The Pope also denounces those who supply substantial amounts of money and weaponry to the fighters who kill and maim the innocent population and destroy civilian institutions and infrastructure,” he added. “One cannot but lament the duplicity of simultaneously talking peace while supplying arms to those who kill, on every side of the conflict.” The presidency of the UN security council is currently presided over by a delegation of Japan. See Archbishop Auza’s full statement below:   12 July 2016   Mr. President, The Holy See commends the Presidency of Japan for bringing the difficult situation in the Middle East once more to the attention of the International Community, in light of the release of the Quartet’s July 1st “Report on the Middle East” and in the context of the continuing violence in Syria, the deadly sectarian violence in Iraq and the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Mr. President, The Palestinian Question has remained without an answer that is satisfactory to both the Israelis and the Palestinians. Almost sixty-nine years after its adoption by the United Nations General Assembly, Resolution 181 remains only half-fulfilled. Decades of negotiations have failed to achieve the creation of a Palestinian State. The time is long overdue to put an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which has become increasingly unacceptable as it becomes increasingly intractable. My delegation would not miss this occasion to underline once again that, for the Holy See, the two-State solution holds the best promise. Durable peace will remain a distant dream and security will remain an illusion if Israel and Palestine do not agree to exist side-by-side reconciled and sovereign within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders. Let the two States be created now, for the sake of the Israelis and Palestinians who, in the depths of their hearts, desire nothing greater than peace and security. It is time to act on the recommendations of the 1st July 2016 Report of the Quartet by bringing peace and security to the citizens of Israel and the State of Palestine and to the people of the world. Mr. President, The situation in Syria continues to be one of unspeakable suffering for the Syrian people who are killed, forced to survive under bombs or flee to less-ravaged areas. My delegation feels the duty to call anew the attention of this Council to the continued persecution of Christians, Yazidis and other ethnic and religious minority groups by non-State actors in parts of Syria and Iraq. Pope Francis denounces in the strongest possible terms all those responsible, from whichever side of the conflict in Syria they may come, for the senseless slaughter of civilians. The Pope also denounces those who supply substantial amounts of money and weaponry to the fighters who kill and maim the innocent population and destroy civilian institutions and infrastructure. One cannot but lament the duplicity of simultaneously talking peace while supplying arms to those who kill, on every side of the conflict. Pope Francis has asked: “How can you believe in someone who caresses you with the right hand and strikes you with the left hand?” My delegation avails itself of this opportunity to plead once more to weapons-producing States strictly to limit the supply of arms to client States and to monitor their use. In particular, my delegation asks the International Community to stop the illegal supply of arms to non-state actors, who have been lately responsible for crimes against humanity and other forms of mass atrocities and egregious violations of human rights. Statistics have clearly shown that it is the civilian population that is disproportionately victimized by ever more technologically sophisticated weapons. Remote-controlled assassinations without due process of law and the “collateral damage” to civilians by Lethal Autonomous Weapons System (LAWS) brings to the fore ethical and legal questions that merit careful review and perhaps even a challenge on the basis of international humanitarian law. Mr. President, The Holy See believes that peace processes do not depend solely on formal negotiations, no matter how indispensable these may be. As a cradle of great civilizations and the birthplace of the three main monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the Middle East has the cultural, intellectual and religious resources that make it a fertile ground for civil society and track II diplomacy, including faith-based “informal diplomacy”, to play their role in promoting the values of encounter and mutual acceptance, thereby equipping all citizens to become active protagonists in peacemaking and peacebuilding in the region. Religions and believers, in particular, must prove themselves worthy of their rightful place in the whole process of pacification in the region. They must put an end to any form of mutual hatred that could lend credence to a “clash of civilizations.” My delegation believes that the more religion is manipulated to justify acts of terror and violence, the more religious leaders must be engaged in the overall effort to defeat the violence that attempts to hijack it for purposes antithetical to its nature. Spurious religious fervour must be countered by authentic religious instruction and by the example of true communities of faith. It is only then that faith-based “informal diplomacy” can fruitfully compliment the formal diplomacy of States and multilateral bodies. Thank you, Mr. President. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope sends condolences after deadly railway crash in Italy

Wed, 07/13/2016 - 02:55
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegram of condolences to the local archbishop after Tuesday’s deadly train collision in southern Italy.   At least 25 people were killed and around 50 were wounded in the crash, some of them critically. Listen to Ann Schneible’s report: In Tuesday's telegram addressed to Archbishop Francesco Cacucci of Bari-Bitonto, and signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Pope expressed “his warm and heartfelt participation in the suffering” of the families affected by the tragedy. The Pope assured them of his “fervent prayer of intercession for those tragically killed and,” and prayed for the “swift healing of the wounded.” Finally, Pope Francis bestowed his apostolic blessing, and entrusted all those affected by the tragedy to the “Maternal protection of the Virgin Mary.” The crash occurred at around 11:30 in Southern Italy’s Puglia region, tearing apart three carriages and sending debris into the surrounding olive groves. The two trains collided while on the same track connecting the small towns of Corato and Andria. There was no immediate indication of the cause of the crash, but the government has promised a full and swift investigation. Tuesday’s incident is Italy’s worst railway disaster in recent years. The last major rail disaster in Italy was in 2009 when a freight train derailed the central Italian town Viareggio, killing more than 30 people living close to the tracks in the subsequent fire. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pontifical Council Secretary explores new dialogue with Al-Azhar University

Tue, 07/12/2016 - 06:36
(Vatican Radio)  Bishop Miguel Guixot, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Interreligiuos Dialogue, will meet senior officials of Egypt’s prestigious Al-Azhar University in Cairo Wednesday, 13 July.  The visit comes at the express wish of Pope Francis following his historic meeting with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Prof. Ahmad Al-Tayyib in the Vatican 23 May 2016. In a note, the Council for Interreligious Dialogue said Bishop Guixot will take part in a preliminary meeting together with the Holy See’s Apostolic Nuncio in Egypt, Archbishop Bruno Musarò and Dr. Mahmoud Hamdi Zakzouk, member of the Council of Senior Scholars of Al-Azhar University and the university’s Director of the Center for Dialogue, to explore avenues for the resumption of dialogue between Al-Azhar and the Pontifical Council. In May, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Professor Ahmad Al-Tayyib, granted an exclusive interview to the Vatican media following his meeting with Pope Francis. A note from the Vatican Press Office reported that in the interview, the Imam affirmed that his visit, the first paid to the Vatican by the highest representative of Al-Alzhar, was the result of an Al-Azhar initiative and an agreement between Al-Azhar and the Vatican to continue the holy mission of religions, which consists of “making human beings joyful everywhere”. He added that Al-Azhar has a commission for interreligious dialogue with the Vatican, which was suspended in specific circumstances, but now those circumstances no longer exist, the path of dialogue has resumed in the hope that it will be better than before. "I am happy to be the first Sheikh of Al-Azhar to visit the Vatican and to sit alongside the Pope in an encounter of discussion and understanding", emphasised Professor Ahmad Al-Tayyib, revealing that his first impression of the Holy Father was that "he is a man of peace, a man who follows the teaching of Christianity, which is a religion of love and peace, and following His Holiness we have seen that he is a man who respects other religions and shows consideration for their followers; he is man who also consecrates his life to serve the poor and the destitute, and who takes responsibility for people in general; he is an ascetic man, who has renounced the ephemeral pleasures of worldly life. All these are qualities that we share with him, and therefore we wish to encounter this man in order to work together for humanity in this vast field we have in common." With reference to the duties of the great religious authorities and religious leaders in today’s world, he affirmed that these responsibilities are heavy and grave at the same time, "because we are aware, as we said also to His Holiness, that all the philosophies and modern social ideologies that have taken the lead of humanity, far from religion and far from heaven, have failed to make man happy or to take him far from wars and bloodshed." He remarked that the moment has arrived for the representatives of the divine religions to participate strongly and in a concrete way to give humanity a new direction, towards mercy and peace, so that humanity can avoid the great crisis we are suffering now. "Man without religion constitutes a danger to his fellow man, and I believe that people now, in the twenty-first century, have started to look around and to seek out wise guides to lead them in the right direction. All this has led us to this meeting and this discussion, and to the agreement to begin to take a step in the right direction."   (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope reflects on parable of Good Samaritan at Angelus

Sun, 07/10/2016 - 07:07
(Vatican Radio) At the Angelus on Sunday, Pope Francis reflected on the parable of the Good Samaritan. This parable, the Pope said, in a simple, yet stimulating way, “indicates a style of life, in which the centre of gravity is not ourselves, but others.” Like the doctor of the law in the day’s Gospel, we might ask ourselves, “Who is my neighbour? Is it my friends, my parents, my fellow countrymen, my co-religionists?” Jesus does not answer the question directly, but instead tells of the Good Samaritan, a man who did not observe the true religion, but who nonetheless helped the poor, abandoned victim of robbers – in contrast to the priest and the Levite who simply passed him by. This story, the Pope said, completely reverses our perspective. It is not up to us, he said, to try to categorize people, to see if they count as our neighbours. Rather, the decision to be, or not be a neighbour, depends on us. “It depends on me,” Pope Francis said, “it depends on me to be or not be a neighbour to the person I meet who has need of my help, even if he is a stranger, or even hostile.” In the Gospel, Jesus tells the doctor of the law – and he tells us, too – to do as the Good Samaritan had done. We must have the attitude of the Good Samaritan to demonstrate our faith. The Pope quoted from the Apostle St James, reminding us that “faith without works is dead.” We should ask ourselves, the Pope said, if our faith is fruitful, if it produces good works, or if, on the other hand, it is sterile, “and so more dead than alive.” We should ask ourselves this question often, Pope Francis continued, because it is precisely on this question that we will be judged at the end of our lives. The Lord, he said, will ask us, “Do you remember that time on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho? That man, who was half-dead, was me. Do you remember? That hungry child was me. Do you remember? That migrant who so many people wanted to chase away was me. Those grandparents, abandoned in rest homes, were me. Those sick people in the hospital, who no one went to find, were me.” With that challenging reflection, Pope Francis concluded his remarks, calling on the Blessed Virgin “to help us to walk along the paths of generous love towards others, the path of the Good Samaritan.” (from Vatican Radio)...

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