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Cardinal Rylko sends message for Krakow World Youth Day 2016

13 hours 8 min ago
(Vatican Radio) Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, has sent a message looking ahead to the next World Youth Day which will take place in Krakow from July 26th to 31st 2016.  Pope Francis is scheduled to attend the event that will be focused on the theme from the Beatitudes: ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy’. Philippa Hitchen reports… Listen:  Taking place in the context of the Jubilee Year of Mercy which begins on December 8th this year, the Krakow event follows on from the last World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro where Pope Francis told young people to read the Beatitudes because, he said, it “will do you good”. In his message Cardinal Rylko notes that the Pope has made the theme of mercy a priority of his pontificate and that the Krakow meeting will mark an international Jubilee of Young People dedicated to this theme. It’s the second time that World Youth Day has been held in Poland – the first such event took place in 1991 at the Marian shrine of Czestochowa with Pope John Paul II. The Polish pontiff will also be spiritually present at the 2016 event as young participants visit the tomb of St Faustina Kowalska at the Divine Mercy shrine, inaugurated by Pope John Paul during his last visit to his homeland in 2002. There, they will be able to take part in a programme of meditations and recitation of the Divine Mercy chapelet. Numerous confessionals will also be set up and Pope Francis himself is likely to offer the sacrament of reconciliation to a number of young men and women attending the celebration. A symbolic Holy Door will also be built at the shrine, through which the Pope will process at the start of the prayer vigil and Eucharistic Adoration on Saturday July 30th. Following the final Mass on Sunday 31st, Pope Francis will give lighted lamps to five young couples from the five continents to symbolically send all the participants out as missionaries of God’s mercy throughout the world.  (from Vatican Radio)...

Forty-five thousand sign up for WYD only a few hours after Pope Francis - Meeting on the field of mercy

16 hours 41 min ago
Less than 24 hours after registration opened for next year's World Youth Day (WYD), 45,000 people had already signed up. The first to register was Pope Francis himself who had previously announced that the theme of the meeting would revolve around mercy. According to the website's managers, thus far there are 250 “macrogroups” and 300 volunteers signed up. The countdown to the event is already surrounded by great enthusiasm. In exactly one year — from 26 to 31 July 2016 — young people will meet in Krakow for the 31 st WYD. Twenty five years after its start, WYD will return to Poland, the land of the Pontiff who created it. Even if Pope Wojtyła loved to say that “it was the young people themselves who invented WYD”. In 1991 in Częstochowa, a strong wind of faith was announced to the young people and from them the faith blew beyond the iron curtain. The young Christians of eastern and western Europe experienced the first large-scale encounter after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Pope Wojtyła returned to his homeland for WYD which saw the participation of more than one million people. A true jubilee of young people will be celebrated on a global level. Pope Francis recalled this at the Angelus and Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, also underlined it in a message published on the dicastery's website. The theme of WYD is “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” is part of the extraordinary holy year which will begin on 8 December. WYD in Krakow will complete a three part series of themes dedicated to the Beatitudes. The theme in Rio in 2014 was “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. This year's theme for the 30 th WYD on the diocesan level is “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God”....

Pope Francis: Multiply good works like the loaves and fishes

Sun, 07/26/2015 - 08:43
(Vatican Radio) Before the recitation of the Marian Prayer before the faithful in St Peter's Square, Pope Francis recalled Sunday’s Gospel about the multiplication of the loaves and the fishes. The Pope explained that "Jesus satisfies not only material hunger, but the most profound of hungers, the hunger for meaning in life, the hunger for God." He went on to say that  “in the face of suffering, loneliness, poverty and difficulties of so many people, what can we do?” Complaining, the Holy Father stressed,  “does not solve anything, but we can offer what little we have. We certainly have a few hours of time, some talent, some expertise” ... “Who among us”, the Pope underlined, “does not have his or her "five loaves and two fish"? If we are willing to put them in the hands of the Lord, we will bring a little more love into the world a bit 'more love, peace, justice and joy. God is able to multiply our small gestures of solidarity and make us partakers of his gift. " (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope appeals for captives in Syria and opens WYD registration

Sun, 07/26/2015 - 07:29
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday remembered the people of Syria caught up in the continuing conflict in the country. In particular, the Holy Father made an urgent and heartfelt appeal for the release of Italian Jesuit priest Father Paolo Dall'Oglio who was kidnapped in Syria almost two years ago. He also remembered both the Greek and Syriac Orthodox archbishops of Aleppo, Boulos Yazigi and Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim, who were kidnapped in Syria near the Turkish border in 2013. The Holy Father expressed the hope that with the commitment of international and local authorities these religious would be restored to freedom. Pope Francis made the appeal following the Angelus prayer in his studio above St Peter’s Square where, with the clic of a button, he became the first person to register for World Youth Day to be held next year in in Krakow, Poland. He opened registration for the event with two young people by his side, telling the faithful gathered in the square below that the day would be celebrated in the Year of Mercy, adding it would be, “in a sense, a jubilee of youth, called to reflect on the theme "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy". He then invited youth of the world to live this pilgrimage to Krakow, participating, he said, “in this moment of grace in their communities.” Pope Francis also recalled the feast of Saint’s Joachim e Anne, the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary and grandparents of Jesus, marked on July 26th. With that in mind the Pope had a special greeting for all grandparents thanking them for their precious presence in the family and for the new generation. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis celebrates Spanish grandparents

Sun, 07/26/2015 - 05:10
(Vatican Radio)  "Confirm the faith with the closeness to the Lord that never abandons us" and in the belief of being able to contribute to their wisdom and loving gestures towards life and the human growth of their families. That was the message addressed to all elderly Spaniards and to the organizers and participants of the XVI edition of the Grandparents Day which is being celebrated Sunday, July 26, throughout Spain. In the message, sent from the Nunciature in Madrid, the Holy Father also reaffirms his support "to those who care for the elderly with love, contributing to the common good of society." The Day is promoted every year on the Feast of Saints Joachim and Anna - the grandparents of Jesus - by the Spanish Catholic "Edad Dorada-Mensajeros de la Paz" which is committed to supporting and promoting the elderly. The goal is to raise awareness in society about the respect due to older people who have given so much in their lives, to appreciate the great value of grandparents in every family and to draw attention to the needs of the elderly population. They are also the concepts outlined in the messages for the occasion by the archbishop of Madrid, Carlos Osoros, and Spanish military ordinary Bishop Juan del Río Martín. Madrid is the main host of the event this year and a Mass will be celebrated in the Church of St. Anthony in the capital by Luis Gutiérrez Martín, bishop emeritus of Segovia. After Mass there will be the reading of the Holy Father’s message with his apostolic blessing. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis sends message for Grandparents Day in Spain

Sat, 07/25/2015 - 10:50
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a message celebrating the role grandparents play in the life of faith for a XVI Grandparents Day in Spain, which will be celebrated on Sunday, the feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, who are the parents of the Virgin Mary, and therefore the grandparents of Jesus. Pope Francis sent the message through the Apostolic Nuncio to the country, inviting the elderly to reaffirm their faith in the closeness of the Lord, “who does not abandon them in any situation”, and in the belief that they can still contribute, “with the influence of their words of wisdom and cherished gestures”, in the life and growth of the members of their own families, “at a level which is profoundly human, spiritual and of the faith.” Pope Francis also thanked those who take care of the elderly. He told them they should have joyful satisfaction knowing that, in caring for them with love, they are working for the common good of society. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis congratulates new Armenian Catholic Patriarch

Sat, 07/25/2015 - 09:16
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis has sent a message of congratulations to the new Armenian Catholic Paticarch of Cilicia, his Beatiude Grégoire Pierre XX Ghabroyan. In the message Pope Francis expresses his joy at the Patriarch’s election and the hope that his new ministry will bear many fruits. The Holy Father in the congratulatory note also grants his Beatiude Grégoire Pierre XX Ghabroyan the "Ecclesiastical Communion" which the Patricarch requested in an earlier letter. Listen to Lydia O’Kane's report The Pope notes in the message that his election comes at a time when the Armenian church is confronted with various difficulties and challenges. Pope Francis refers to the terrible ordeals that some Armenian Catholics in the Middle East are facing. But he adds that “illuminated by the light of faith in the risen Christ, our vision of the world is full of hope and mercy, because we are certain that the Cross of Jesus is the tree that gives life". The Holy Father also writes that he is sure his Beatitude along with the Venerable Synod Fathers will be guided by the Holy Spirit to be the Good Shepherds to those People of God entrusted to them. (from Vatican Radio)...

People of Washington, DC, asked to WalkwithFrancis

Sat, 07/25/2015 - 07:32
(Vatican Radio) The Archdiocese of Washington has issued a challenge ahead of the arrival of Pope Francis on September 22, 2015, for his first visit to the United States. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Archbishop of Washington, has invited his flock to share their joy in their Catholic faith by taking the Walk with Francis Pledge . “Our Holy Father, Pope Francis has captured the world’s attention with his infectious joy,” Cardinal Wuerl wrote on his blog.  “What is striking to me is that in his actions we see the source of his joy. He loves sharing God’s love with others. His words, his gestures, his preaching teach us how to imitate Christ who is the human manifestation of God, the Father.” The Walk with Francis Pledge invites the people of the Archdiocese to Pray, Serve, and Act: Pray regularly for the Holy Father and learn about the message of the joy of the Gospel, the mercy of God and the love of Christ. Serve by reaching out and caring for those in need and supporting charitable efforts in our community and beyond. Act to promote human life and dignity, justice and peace, family life and religious freedom, care for creation and the common good. “It is hard to imagine a more perfect gift to present to our Holy Father than the promise that those most in need of prayer and healing, compassion and hope will be touched by Christ’s love by all of us who have taken the Walk with Francis Pledge,” wrote Cardinal Wuerl. “While touching those most in need of our love, I can also assure our Holy Father that we will be praying for him, for his ministry and for the Church, that all pledge takers will grow in love of God and others,” he concluded. People can share their pledge on social media with the hashtag #WalkwithFrancis (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis "saddened" by death of Cardinal Baum

Sat, 07/25/2015 - 07:30
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a telegram expressing his sadness upon the death of Cardinal William Wakefield Baum, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington. In his message to the current Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the Holy Father offered his “heartfelt condolences, together with the assurance of my prayers, to you and to all the faithful of the Archdiocese.” Pope Francis also expressed his gratitude for Cardinal Baum’s service to the Church, both in diocesan leadership, as well as his various duties in the Vatican. The full text of the telegram from Pope Francis is below   His Eminence Cardinal Donald Wuerl Archbishop of Washington   I was saddened to learn of the death of Cardinal William Wakefield Baum, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, and I offer my heartfelt condolences, together with the assurance of my prayers, to you and to all the faithful of the Archdiocese.  With gratitude for the late Cardinal’s years of episcopal service in Springfield-Cape Girardeau and in Washington, and for his long service to the Apostolic See as Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education and subsequently Major Penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary, I join you in commending the late Cardinal’s soul to God the Father of mercies.  To all present at the Mass of Christian Burial and to all who mourn Cardinal Baum in the hope of the Resurrection, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of strength and consolation in the Lord.                                                                                                                              FRANCISCUS PP. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope Francis sends message to AIDS conference

Sat, 07/25/2015 - 06:50
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has expressed his “esteem” for the work and dedication treating HIV/AIDS requires in a message to the  six thousand participants in the Opening Session of the International AIDS Society’s 8th Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention in Vancouver, Canada. The message was sent through the Holy See’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. In the message, Pope Francis gave thanks for the lives saved by Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Treatment (HAART) and for the use of “Treatment as Prevention” and noted that such efforts “give witness to the possibilities for beneficial outcome when all sectors of society unite in common purpose.” Finally, he assured the participants of his prayers “that all advances in pharmacology, treatment, and research will be matched by a firm commitment to promote the integral development of each person as a beloved child of God.” (from Vatican Radio)...

Archbishop Okoth of Kisumu (Kenya): Obama is one of us

Sat, 07/25/2015 - 05:53
The Archbishop of Kisumu Archdiocese, Zacchaeus Okoth has spoken to MISNA, the Missionary Service News Agency, about Obama’s visit to his ancestral home in Kenya. “Young, intelligent, it was evident that he would go places. Now that he is the President of the United States we still feel he is one of us and we welcome him with open arms,” Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth said to MISNA as he reminisced about a meeting and a handshake outside the home of Mama Sarah in 2006. In 2006, Barack Obama landed at the Kisumu airport on Lake Victoria. With Archbishop Okoth and Obama’s step grandmother, who yesterday, Friday at the age of 94 flew to Nairobi to say “Nyakwara”, “grandson” in the Luo language, had then gone to his father's village of Kogelo. Kogelo is a village inhabited by 4,000, just Kim from Lake Victoria and 300Km west of Nairobi. Archbishop Okoth remembers the young successful Illinois senator then headed towards the democratic primaries that two years later would throw open the doors of the White House. “Since his visit everything changed in Kogelo: Maybe also thanks to Obama there are now tarmac roads and electric power,” explained the Archbishop. The people of Kogelo today are however a little more anxious. “There is no mention in the programme of a visit to Kogelo, and the US Ambassador to Kenya excluded a surprise visit,” said Archbishop Okoth. The people however have not lost hope in a President “who is one of us.” “No matter what CNN says with its coverage describing the country as a 'hotbed of terrorism,' Kenyans are simply enthusiastic: They believe Obama will help them fight al Shabaab, a Somalia-based militant Islamist group as well as help build a future of development,” stressed the Archbishop. Obama is in Kenya for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. He has since addressed the business summit and praised Africa's economic and business potential. The BBC quoted Obama as saying, "Africa is on the move... People are being lifted out of poverty, incomes are up (and) the middle class is growing," Obama told a business summit. (Source: MISNA, BBC) Email: engafrica@vatiradio.va (from Vatican Radio)...

Holy See: int'l cooperation needed to end Mideast conflicts

Fri, 07/24/2015 - 05:56
(Vatican Radio)  The Holy See has renewed its call for international cooperation to bring to an end the conflicts in the Middle East and help care for the millions of refugees from Iraq and the Syrian war. In a speech to the United Nations Security Council during an open debate Thursday on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian, question,” Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, said the “dramatic humanitarian situation” in Syria is “particularly preoccupying.”  Calling for a renewed commitment by all to achieve a political solution to the conflict, he said “we should not continue to look helplessly from the sidelines while a great country is being destroyed.” He described the so-called Islamic State group terrorizing the region as a “terrorist plague” that must be thwarted with the unified cooperation of the entire international community. Lebanon and Jordan, which host millions of refugees, he added, bear the brunt of the Syrian conflict and urgently need the world’s solidarity. He noted the Holy See’s hopes that the institutional vacuum of Lebanon’s Presidency (constitutionally held by a Christian but vacant for more than a year) will soon be filled. He reiterated the Holy See’s concern for the region’s minority communities, particularly its Christians, who have been forced from their homes and welcomed the recent accord reached between Iran and the 5+1 group of nations. Recalling the Comprehensive Agreement signed by the Holy See and the State of Palestine in June, Archbishop Auza said it is hoped that the Agreement will stimulate the “achievement of a two State solution, bringing a definitive end to the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”   Below please find the official text of Archbishop Auza’s remarks: New York, 23 July 2015 Mr President, My Delegation congratulates you on New Zealand’s Presidency of the Security Council this month and commends you for convening this timely open debate  on “The situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question.” The Holy  See continues to monitor closely the situation in the Middle East,  which  is  deeply  afflicted  by  various  conflicts  that  continue  to  intensify.  Unfortunately,  the  international  community,  which  seems  to  have  become  accustomed  to  these  conflicts,  has  not  yet  succeeded  in  working  out  an adequate response. Particularly  preoccupying  is  the  situation  in  Syria,  where  the  dramatic  humanitarian  situation  affecting  more  than  half  of  the  population  calls  for renewed  commitment  by  all  in  order  to  arrive  at  a  political  solution  to  the conflict. We should not continue to look helplessly from the sidelines while a great country is being destroyed. The situation in Syria requires putting aside many particular interests in order to prioritise those of Syria and of the Syrians  themselves. In  Syria  as  well  as  in  Iraq,  we  continue  to  be  gravely  concerned  about  the  terrorist acts perpetrated by the so-called “Islamic State.” This is a challenge not only for the region but for the entire international community, which is  called upon to cooperate with unity of purpose in order to thwart this terrorist  plague, which is expanding its activities into different countries. Having to take care of millions of refugees, Lebanon and Jordan also bear the  brunt of the conflict in neighbouring  Syria. They urgently need the solidarity  of the whole international community. The Holy See hopes that the Land of the Cedars will be able to resolve, as soon  as  possible,  this  period  of  institutional  instability,  arising  largely  from  the  vacancy for over a year now of the Presidency of the Republic.  While being aware of the sufferings of entire populations, I wish to point out  the difficulties that Christians and other minority ethnic and religious groups  are experiencing, forcing many of them to leave their homes. The diminution  of the Christian presence is a grave loss for the entire region, where Christians  have been present since the very beginnings of Christianity and where they  wish to continue cooperating with their fellow citizens in building harmonious  societies  and  working  for  the  common  good,  as  promoters  of  peace,  reconciliation and development. My  delegation  wishes  to  express  appreciation  for  the  agreement  which  has  been reached between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the 5+1 group. On  June  26  this  year,  the  Holy  See  and  the  State  of  Palestine  signed  the  Comprehensive  Agreement  that  follows  the  Basic  Agreement  between  the  Holy See and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) of 15 February  2000. This Agreement is indicative of the progress made by the Palestinian  Authority in recent years, above all in the level of international  upport  it has  acquired, as exemplified by UN Resolution 67/19, which, inter alia, recognizes  Palestine as a non-member Observer State. The Holy See hopes that this Agreement may in some way be a stimulus to the  achievement of the two-State solution, bringing a definitive end to the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict that continues to cause suffering on both  Parties, and that the Agreement may offer, within the complex reality of the  Middle East, a good example of dialogue and cooperation. As Pope Francis said during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land last year: “The  time has come for everyone to find the courage to be generous and creative in  the service of the common good, the courage to forge a peace that rests on the  acknowledgment by all of the right of two States to exist and to live in peace  and security within internationally recognized  orders.”1 In this context, my delegation wishes to reiterate that the peace process can  move  forward  only  if  it  is  directly  negotiated  between  the  Parties,  with  the  support of the international community. Thank you, Mr. President.   1 Meeting with Palestinian Authorities, Bethlehem, 25 May 2014. (from Vatican Radio)...

Members and substitutes for the Synod of Bishops

Fri, 07/24/2015 - 05:56
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Friday confirmed more members and substitutes for the Fourteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will take place from October 4-25, 2015, under the theme "The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world." For a listing of other members and substitutes confirmed for the Synod on the Family, see our previous posts on 26 March and 16 June . The following is a list of the members and substitutes appointed by the competent entities and ratified by the Holy Father on 24 July. AFRICA Ivory Coast Member :  Bishop Ignace BESSI DOGBO, of Katiola, President of the National Episcopal Commission for the Apostolate of the Laity Guinea Member :  Bishop Juan MATOGO OYANA, C.M.F., of Bata Sudan Member :  Archbishop Paulino LUKUDU LORO, M.C.C.J., of Juba Substitute :  Bishop Michael Didi Adgum MANGORIA, of El Obeid Zimbabwe Member :  Bishop Xavier Johnsai MUNYONGANI, of Gweru AMERICA Paraguay Member :  Bishop Miguel Ángel CABELLO ALMADA, of Concepción in Paraguay Substitute :  Bishop Pierre Laurent JUBINVILLE, C.S.Sp., of San Pedro ASIA India 2nd Substitute :  Bishop Lawrence Pius DORAIRAJ, of Dharmapuri Iran Member :  Archbishop Ramzi GARMOU, of Teheran of the Chaldeans, Patriarchal Administrator of Ahwaz of the Chaldeans Substitute :  Titular Archbishop Neshan KARAKÉHÉYAN, of Adana of the Armenians, Patriarchal Administrator of Ispahan, Esfáan of the Armenians Thailand Member :  Bishop Silvio Siripong CHARATSRI, of Chanthaburi Substitute :  Archbishop Louis CHAMNIERN SANTISUKNIRAN, of Thare and Nonseng East Timor Member : Bishop Basílio DO NASCIMENTO, of Baucau, President of the Bishop's Conference Substitute :  Bishop Norberto DO AMARAL, of Maliana EUROPE International Bishops' Conference of the Saints Cyril and Methodius Member :  Bishop Ladislav NEMET, S.V.D., of Zrenjanin in Serbia Latvia Member :  Archbishop Zbignevs STANKEVIČS, of Riga Substitute :  Bishop Jānis BULIS, of Rēzekne-Aglona, President of Bishop’s Conference Scandinavia Member :  Bishop Teemu SIPPO, S.C.I., of Helsinki in Finland Substitute :  Bishop Czeslaw KOZON, of Copenhagen in Denmark OCEANIA Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands Member :  Bishop Anton BAL, of Kundiawa, “Commission for Family Life” (from Vatican Radio)...

The Pope's message to the Bishops of England and Wales - For dignity in every stage of life

Thu, 07/23/2015 - 07:16
More than 300,000 postcards will be distributed to parishioners in England and Wales this weekend offering guidance about end of life decisions. This initiative is part of the day for Life celebration to be held on Sunday, 26 July. For this Day, Pope Francis sent his best wishes and support to the Catholic Church in England and Wales. The Apostolic Nuncio in Great Britain, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, received a letter and conveyed it to the Bishop for Day for Life, Bishop John Sherrington, Auxiliary of Westminster. In the letter, the Holy Father imparts his apostolic blessing “upon all those persons who are participating in this significant event and working in any way for the promotion of the dignity of every human person from the moment of conception until natural death”. This Sunday is the last of the various initiatives of the Catholic Church in England regarding end of life topics. The Bishops chose “Cherishing Life – Accepting Death” as this year's theme. Indeed, on 11 September the U.K.'s House of Commons will be debating and voting on an assisted suicide bill. Presented by Rob Marris, the bill proposes allowing terminally-ill the possibility of ending their life with medical assistance....

The faithful of Australia work to open a Catholic university in Erbil - An education against hate and weapons

Thu, 07/23/2015 - 07:14
Catholics in Iraq are 'challenging' the Islamic State not with weapons or violence but through education and teaching, thanks to the contribution and support of Australian Catholic University. This October courses will begin at the Catholic University of Erbil, which was desired by the Chaldean Church in Iraq as a concrete way to aid the Christian youth in the Middle East. In recent days, Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda of Erbil for Chaldeans met with representatives of Australian Catholic University (ACU) and the President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Archbishop Denis James Hart of Melbourne in order to better coordinate the necessary aid to complete construction on the university located in the city which is mostly Christian. The Chaldean Church provided the 30,000 square metres where the university will stand. The goal from the beginning was to create a private university open to all, which meets the needs of the people. The university will also serve as centre for scientific research. Almost three years after the dramatic events that swept the northern regions of Iraq and led to thousands of Christian refugees to flee from Islamic State jihadists to Erbil, the University will be a concrete sign of support to young Iraqi Christians, inevitably tempted to leave the country and leave behind the horrors of war and the uncertainties and threats that influence their future....

Pope Francis sends support for Day for Life in England and Wales

Thu, 07/23/2015 - 04:23
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent his good wishes and support to the Catholic Church in England and Wales for this Sunday’s Day for Life. Day for Life is the day dedicated to praying for the protection of human life and raising awareness about its meaning and value at every stage and in every condition. The  Apostolic Nuncio to the United Kingdom, Archbishop Antonio Mennini received the letter from the Pope and conveyed it to the Bishop for Day for Life, Bishop John Sherrington. The Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing “upon all those persons who are participating in this significant event and working in any way for the promotion of the dignity of every human person from the moment of conception until natural death.” Day for Life 2015 focuses on Catholic teaching about appropriate treatment at the end of life. The essential message for the Day is ‘How do we cherish life while we can and accept death when it comes?’ Bishop Sherrington said: “Catholics cherish and celebrate the gift of life but they are not vitalistic in saying that life must be preserved at all costs. Rather, judgements are to be made about types of treatment, taking into account the benefits and burdens of the treatment as well as the person’s total medical condition and well-being. This means there is no obligation to pursue medical treatment when it no longer has any effect or, indeed, harms the patient, or where the risks or burdens of the treatment outweigh the likely benefits. Sometimes difficult decisions need to be made and the views of family and experts are needed. But in such situations these two questions can guide us: “Is this decision loving life?” and “Is this decision accepting the inevitability of death? Please pray that we will always value the precious gift of life.” Day for Life is celebrated yearly by the Catholic Church in Ireland, Scotland and England and Wales. The Day is celebrated in England and Wales this Sunday (26 July) and in Ireland on 4 October 2015. It was celebrated in Scotland on 31 May 2015. The proceeds of the Day for Life collection to be held in parishes in England and Wales on Sunday 26 July 2015 assist the work of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre and other life-related activities supported by the Church. (from Vatican Radio)...

In the meeting on climate change and modern slavery, the Pope warns against the idolatry of technocracy

Wed, 07/22/2015 - 06:31
Vatican City, 22 July 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon Pope Francis greeted the participants in the meeting “Modern slavery and climate change: the commitment of cities” and in the Symposium “Prosperity, people and planet: achieving sustainable development in our cities ”, held in the Vatican's Casina Pio IV by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, whose chancellor is Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo. The events were attended by the mayors of major cities, local administrators and various representatives of the United Nations. The Holy Father gave an impromptu address in which he reiterated that care for the environment meant, above all, adopting an attitude of human ecology and that “Laudato si'” was not simply a “green” but also a social document. He also considered the theme of the unfettered growth of cities due to the lack of work for rural populations, and invited the mayors to collaborate with international bodies in order to face the issues of exploitation and human trafficking caused by migratory phenomena. “I offer you my sincere and heartfelt thanks for what you have done”, said the Pope to the participants in the symposium. “It is true that everything revolves around … this culture of care for the environment. But this 'green' culture – and I say that in a positive sense – is much more than that. Caring for the environment means an attitude of human ecology. In other words, we cannot say: the person and Creation, the environment, are two separate entities. Ecology is total, it is human. This is what I wanted to express in the Encyclical 'Laudato si'': that you cannot separate humanity from the rest; there is a relationship of mutual impact, and also the rebound effect when the environment is abused. Therefore … I say, 'no, it is not a green encyclical, it is a social encyclical'. Because we cannot separate care for the environment from the social context, the social life of mankind. Furthermore, care for the environment is a social attitude”. “It seemed to me to be a very fruitful idea to invite the mayors cities both large and not so large, because one of the things that is most evident when the environment, Creation, is not cared for, is the unfettered growth of cities. It is a worldwide phenomenon … cities become larger but with growing bands of poverty and misery, where the people suffer the effects of environmental neglect. In this respect, the phenomenon of migration is involved. Why do people come to large cities, to the outskirts of large cities, to the slums, shanty towns and favelas? … It is simply because the rural world does not offer them opportunities. And one issue mentioned in the Encyclical ... is the idolatry of technocracy. Technocracy leads to the loss of work, it creates unemployment, which leads to migration and the need to seek new horizons. The great number of unemployed is a warning. I do not have the statistics to hand, but in some countries in Europe, youth unemployment – effecting those aged 25 and younger – surpasses 40 per cent and in some cases even 50 per cent. … What prospects can the future offer to today's unemployed youth? Addiction, boredom, not knowing what to do with life – a life without meaning, which is very tough – or indeed suicide. The statistics on youth suicide are not fully published. Or indeed the search for other horizons, even in guerrilla projects that present an ideal of life”. “Health is also at stake”, emphasised the Pope. “The increasing incidence of 'rare' diseases, which often come from elements used to fertilise the fields, or … from an excess of technification. One of the most important problems relates to oxygen and water. That is, the desertification of large areas as a result of deforestation. Here beside me is the cardinal archbishop representing the Brazilian Amazon: he can tell us what deforestation means today in the Amazon, one of the world's great lungs. The Congo and the Amazon are the world's great lungs. … What happens when all these phenomena of excessive technification, of environmental neglect, as well as natural phenomena, affect migration? It leads to unemployment and human trafficking. Illegal work, without contracts, is increasingly common … and means that people do not earn enough to live. This can give rise to criminal behaviour and other problems typical of large cities as a result of migration due to technification. I refer in particular to human trafficking in the mining sector; slavery in mining remains a major issue. Mining also involves the use of certain elements in the purifying of minerals, such as arsenic and cyanide, causing diseases in the population. In this we have a great responsibility. … Everything has a rebound effect ... This can include human trafficking for the purposes of slave labour or prostitution”. “Finally, I would say that this requires the involvement of the United Nations. I hope that the Paris Summit in November will lead to a basic agreement. I have high hopes, and believe that the United Nations must take a greater interest in this phenomenon, especially human trafficking caused by environmental issues, and the exploitation of people. A couple of months ago I received in audience a delegation of women from the United Nations, who were occupied with the issue of the sexual exploitation of children in countries at war. … Wars are another element contributing to environmental imbalance”. “I wish to end with a reflection that is not mine, but is instead from the theologian and philosopher Romano Guardini”, Francis said. “He speaks about two forms of ignorance: the ignorance that God gives us to be transformed into culture, giving us the mandate to care for, nurture and dominate the earth; and the second form of ignorance, when man does not respect this relationship with the earth, and does not look after it. .. When he does not care for Creation, man falls prey to this second type of ignorance and starts to abuse it. … Atomic energy is good and can be helpful, but up to a certain point – think of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Disaster and destruction can be caused. It is the second form of ignorance that destroys humanity. A medieval rabbi, from around the time of St. Thomas Aquinas … explained the problem of the tower of Babel to his faithful in the synagogue, and said that in order to build the tower a good deal of time and work was needed, especially in making the bricks. … Each brick was worth a lot. … When a brick fell it was a very serious matter and the culprit who neglected it and let it fall was punished. However, when a worker who was building the tower fell, nothing happened. This is the problem of the second form of ignorance, of the man as the creator of ignorance and not of culture. Man as the creator of ignorance because he does not care for the environment”. “And so, why did the Pontifical Academy of Sciences convoke mayors and city governors? Because are aware of how to carry out this important and profound work, from the centre to the periphery, and from the periphery to the centre. They are aware of the reality of humanity. The Holy See may make a good speech before the United Nations, but if the work does not come from the periphery to the centre, it will have no effect; hence the responsibility of mayors and city governors. I therefore thank you for bringing clarification of the condition of many peripheries gravely affected by these problems, which you have to govern and resolve. I thank you and I ask the Lord to grant us the grace of being aware of the problem of the destruction that we ourselves have wrought by failing to care for human ecology, … so we might transform ignorance into culture, and not the contrary”....

Pope and mayors sign declaration on climate and trafficking

Wed, 07/22/2015 - 05:42
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis and mayors from cities across the globe have signed a common declaration of intent to combat environmental damage and human trafficking. The signing of the document followed a meeting Tuesday afternoon in the Vatican between the Pope and the mayors who are attending a two-day workshop entitled “Modern Slavery and Climate Change” organized by the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences. Please find below the full text of the common declaration: We the undersigned have assembled at the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences to address two inter-connected dramatic emergencies: human-induced climate change, and social exdusion in the extreme forms of radical poverty, modern slavery and human trafficking, We join together from many cultures and walks of life, reflecting humanity's shared yearning for prosperity, justice and environmental sustainability peace, happiness.   On the basis of the encyclical Laudato si', we have considered the over-whelming scientific evidence regarding human-induced climate change, the loss of biodiversity, and the vulnerability of the poor to economic, social and environmental disasters. In the face of the emergencies attributable to human-induced climate change, social exclusion, and extreme poverty, we join together to declare the following: Human-induced climate change is a scientific reality, and its effective control is a moral imperative for humanity. In this core moral space, cities play a very vital role. All of our cultural traditions uphold the inherent dignity and social responsibility of every individual and the related common good of all humanity. They affirm the beauty, wonder and inherent goodness of the natural world, and appreciate that it is a precious gift entrusted to our common care, making it our moral duty to steward rather than ravage the garden that is our "common home". In spite of having a minimal role in the disruption of the climate, the poor and excluded face dire threats from human-induced climate change, including the increased frequency of droughts, extreme storms, heat waves, and rising sea levels. Today humanity has the technological instruments, the financial resources and the know-how to reverse climate change while also ending extreme poverty, through the application of sustainable development solutions, including the adoption of low-carbon energy systems supported by information and communications technologies. The financing of sustainable development, including the effective control of human-induced climate change, should be bolstered through new incentives for the transition towards low-carbon and renewable energy, and through the relentless pursuit of peace, which also will enable a shift of public financing from military spending to urgent investments for sustainable development.   The world should take note that the climate summit in Paris later this year (COP21) may be the last effective opportunity to negotiate arrangements that keep human-induced warming below 2°C, and aim to stay well below 2°C for safety, yet the current trajectory may well reach a devastating 4°C or higher. Political leaders of all UN member States have a special responsibility to agree at COP21 to a bold climate agreement that confines global warming to a limit safe for humanity, while protecting the poor and the vulnerable from ongoing climate change that gravely endangers their lives. The high-income countries should help to finance the costs of climate-change mitigation in low-income countries as the high-income countries have promised to do. Climate-change mitigation will require a rapid transformation to a world powered by renewable and other low-carbon energy and the sustainable management of ecosystems. These transformations should be carried out in the context of globally agreed Sustainable Development Goals, consistent with ending extreme poverty; ensuring universal access to healthcare, quality education, safe water, and sustainable energy; and cooperating to end human trafficking and all forms of modern slavery. As mayors we commit ourselves to building, in our cities and urban settlements, the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and reducing their exposure to climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters, which foster human trafficking and dangerous forced migration. At the same time, we commit ourselves to ending abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of modern slavery, which are crimes against humanity, including forced labor and prostitution, organ trafficking, and domestic servitude; and to developing national resettle ment and reintegration programs that avoid the involuntary repatriation of trafficked persons (cf. PASS's revision of UN Sustainable Development Goals, n. 16.2). We want our cities and urban settlements to become ever more socially inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable (cf. UN Sustainable Development Goals, n. 11). All sectors and stakeholders must do their part, a pledge that we fully commit ourselves to in our capacities as mayors and individuals. (from Vatican Radio)...

The Holy See on the Post-2015 Development Agenda

Wed, 07/22/2015 - 05:14
(Vatican Radio) The Holy See delegation to the United Nations says it believes the draft outcome document for the UN Summit to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda “moves the international community further in the right direction, toward achieving a universal, ambitious and transformative agenda that sets out to end poverty and to achieve sustainable development for humanity and the planet.” The full text of the Intervention of the Holy See can be found below: Intervention of the Holy See Intergovernmental Negotiations on the Post-2015 Development Agenda General Statement on the Final Draft, Post-2015 Development Agenda New York, 20 July 2015 Distinguished Co-facilitators, My delegation would like to thank you for your efforts in producing the most recent version of the draft outcome document for the UN Summit to adopt the Post-2015 Development Agenda. We believe that this draft moves the international community further in the right direction, toward achieving a universal, ambitious, and transformative agenda that sets out to end poverty and to achieve sustainable development for humanity and the planet. On the preamble and declaration, my delegation welcomes the recognition that poverty eradication is the greatest global challenge and that it is resolved to free humanity from the tyranny of poverty in all of its forms. We are also pleased that both the preamble and the declaration make clear that one of the critical measures of success will be that nobody will be left behind, for indeed, this agenda will not be achieved unless it addresses the needs of all nations and people s, and in particular the poor and most vulnerable. However, my delegation is of the view that both the preamble and declaration could speak more directly on the importance of the integration and the indivisibility of the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social, and environmental. One pillar certainly cannot be addressed in isolation from another. For example, preference for the protection of the environment or economic growth, without first considering the dignity of the human person and the common good of society as a whole, would be contrary to the very nature of the agenda. As Pope Francis pointed out in his recent encyclical Laudato si’ , “strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature.” The holistic approach taken by the agenda is an important step forward from an eventual siloed approach. Distinguished Co-facilitators, Regarding the SDGs and targets, my delegation is of the view that it should include the Chapeau to the Report and reservations. It is also important to clarify the question of reservations, in order to understand properly how they will be reflected in the text. On means of implementation, my delegation is supportive of strong and focused MOI section, recognizing that it is foundational for the fulfilment of the agenda. We encourage the mobilization of both financial and non-financial resources through all channels, including capacity building and science, technology, and innovation assistance, especially for Least Developed Countries (LDCs), Landlocked Developing Countries (LLDCs), Small Island Development States (SIDS), countries in conflict and post-conflict situations and all countries in special situations. Finally, on follow-up and review, my delegation supports the draft’s establishment of a robust, effective, inclusive, and transparent framework, as well as its acknowledgment that it will be based on mutual trust with a goal of mutual learning. Nonetheless, similar to other delegations, we have specific concerns regarding the indicator framework, which we will share in greater detail later on this week. (from Vatican Radio)...

Pope to mayors: put environment and human trafficking at top of your agenda

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 12:29
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged mayors from big cities to direct their efforts towards the care for the environment and the fight against human trafficking.  The Pope was speaking to some 70 mayors from around the world who are in the Vatican for a two-day workshop entitled “Modern Slavery and Climate Change” organized by the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences.   Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni :  Telling those present he has ``a lot of hope'' that negotiators at Paris climate talks will reach an ambitious agreement to reduce global warming, Pope Francis said he places great trust in the United Nations to bring about a good agreement. But – he stressed - he also wants U.N. nations to prioritize fighting both human trafficking and the exploitation of the world's most vulnerable people. And referring to his recently published encyclical “Laudato Si’”, Pope Francis made it quite clear that the document is not an encyclical on the environment. It’s a social encyclical – he explained -  because the state of the environment is directly and intimately linked to the life and wellbeing of humankind. And this is not the only connection Pope Francis made in his off-the-cuff greeting in which he chose to speak in his native Spanish. He said huge migratory waves of peoples across the globe are triggered by environmental issues such as desertification and deforestation which leave people and entire communities without the possibility of seeking a livelihood. Thus – he said – the exodus that takes them into urban centers gives life to human trafficking which brings with it diverse forms of exploitation (be it economical or sexual) of women, children and vulnerable people.       Pope Francis concluded his address with a series of quotes and references to theologian Romano Guardini and his theology of the human person. And he issued a strong call to all the Mayors present at the event to be aware of these problems and to seek solutions working - he said – from the peripheries towards the center.   (from Vatican Radio)...

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